My and I had a great time on our 5 day cruise on the Paradise! We originally booked a Veranda Room, but a few weeks before departure, we were offered an upgrade to a Grand Suite for a small up charge. We really enjoyed the larger room, sitting area, oversize balcony and big bathroom!!
Our previous cruises were with Royal Caribbean; our friends are fiercely loyal to RCCL and warned us against Carnival. Combine that mindset with Carnival's recent mishaps, and we were a little nervous. Our concerns were unfounded, as Carnival gave us a GREAT cruising experience!
We liked the food better than the food on RCCL Monarch and Freedom. Also, Carnival did a great job at keeping the guests flowing. I don't think we ran into a single bottle-neck of foot traffic on the Paradise - I can't say the same for RCCL's Monarch or Freedom. In fact, in spite of the fact that Freedom is a huge ship, I was really surprised at how often we had to wait for congested areas to break up so we could walk to our destinations. I don't know if it was ship layout, number of guests vs. capacity, or the Crew which made the difference, but Carnival Paradise felt very comfortable to get around.
Back to the food - we dined in the Elation dining room and the food and service was top notch. I had a terrific Flat Iron Steak on the first night, but the high point was Lobster/Prime Rib night on formal night. The dress code is less rigid than RCCL, so for those who value such things as neck ties and formal wear, you might be dissatisfied. But, the Lobster tails were cold water lobsters, which I find to be superior, and they were cooked perfectly. The prime rib was among the best I have ever had. One more comparison to our experience with RCCL - our servers on all 3 cruises had multiple tables, and had other tables with lots of children. Not to be mean, but children can demand a lot of attention, they can be fussy eaters, and can get cranky when they are hungry and faced with unfamiliar food items. Again, Carnival was superior to RCCL in our experience, as our head waiter employed his team expertly to handle the demands of the youngest guests, while keeping everyone else very happy. Not so on RCCL - our service teams on both Monarch and Freedom were so preoccupied with the needs of small children at neighboring tables that our table received entrees without sauces, no bread and on more than one occasion, our coffee never made it to our table, though we got cups and creamer. So again, I have to hand it to Carnival for delivering great service, even under demanding circumstances.
We were so impressed with our experience that we decided to book our next cruise with Carnival. Our friends who are hopelessly devoted to Royal Caribbean will be disappointed with our choice, but based on our experience, we are excited to take another Carnival Cruise!! Plus, you can get a much better room dollar for dollar when compared to any of Carnival's competitors.