We just got back for a 4 day on the Paradise.... I have been on 2 other cruises in the last few years... All on carnival. Both of the other ones were 7 day cruises, so when I booked this one I always a little leery that it would be a lot more "obnoxious". Plus, this is a much older ship.
I was very wrong about my anxiety!! I loved this cruise....
We arrived at the Port of Tampa at about 12:45 and by 1:15pm we were on board and our room was ready!! The biggest hold up the the family of 20 in front of us that did NO pre registration and this was their first cruise... Actually I think the first outing ever!!! Soooo, besides that frustration... Everything was smooth. Our luggage was in our cabin within 20 minutes of being on board too :)
Our cabin was Upper deck (235) in the back of the ship. I purposely booked this level because there were staterooms both above and below. I was not sure about being at the back, but it was GREAT!!! No noise, easy access to the lido deck and breakfast !!! Oh and the ice cream machine for my 10 year old.. Our steward was great, room was always looking nice and he would let us know each morning if the other family we were traveling with was already at breakfast.
Dinner... Was nice, I would not say it was great. Our wait staff was wonderful to us... The food was ok. I have read a lot of these reviews and a large portion of people are food "critics" when it comes to cruising... Personally, I think the food is what I expect on a ship of a few thousand people to serve every night. There is something for everyone... There is always steak, chicken and a seafood of some sort. You can always have multiple servings (which some in our group did quite often) so you will not walk away hungry. The melting chocolate cake is my favorite so I had no complaints :) plus, the men at our table enjoyed the "dessert shot" they offered each night in souvenir shot glasses....
Other meals..... Breakfast, the omelet bar was great. The buffet line had a nice variety each day, but the line was always long. Lunch Buffet, the grill line was again always long because it is the most popular. Personally I think Carnival could figure that out and either make 2 or get a better system for it, because everyone I have been on had that problem. The food was really good... The chicken tenders were cooked well so they were not tough, fries always awesome and the cheeseburgers are great. There was also a wok station... Great stir fry!
The shows.... I thought they were really good! My favorite was Shout! Which featured music from all eras. The costumes were nicely done and the dancing was great! But, get there early, as soon as the show starts the room is very dark and extremely hard to see and find a seat! We only tried to make it to one of the comedy shows (18+) we arrived 15 min early and could not find a seat! So either they were really great and everyone wanted to see it, or there was nothing else going on.
Daily activities...they have the normal pool deck games, lots of trivia, hairy chest, ice carving etc...
I am normally a big bingo player, this time I never made it to one! They seemed to have them a strange times... Probably better that I didn't go and spend even more money! There was 4 ping pong tables and were always being played, the kids loved this part. Plus, mini golf, basketball, water slide. Normally could always play... The pool's were very crowded and the whirlpools were packed as well. And honestly on a sea day... That is we're everyone wants to be... Including me! I did check out the Serenity deck. It was at the back of the ship and was VERY quiet. I could not find a place to sit, but it was also the middle of the day, so I'm not complaining... A great Evening show was Rock n country show, live band playing great music.... And a dance floor.. So much fun my knee is still hurting from dancing :)
Camp Carnival... There did not seem to be a whole lot of stuff that my son wanted to do for his Age group... This is a hard age for them to find stuff... So he did not want to go (unlike both of our other cruises) he did go to the night owls party one night and had a blast!!!!
We had the most FABULOUS lido deck waiter.. NANA!!!! The moment we boarded the ship, he started serving us and we refused to order from anyone else! He knew all of our names after the first round and never let us go thirsty!! He knew what all of us drank (even those of us that changed half way thru the day) best waiter ever!!!!
Port.. Cozumel... Not my favorite port, plus it was an overcast day and we had not planned anything. We ended up getting a cab to Carlos and Charlie's beach club. Cost us $30 for 8 people each way. Great wait staff, lots of buckets of beer and shots... The dads and 2 boys (10yr olds) did para-sailing there 45/pp. not too bad. Lots of people there trying to sell you everything from massages to sombreros. It was good but, with kids... I would have picked Paradise Beach (right next door) because there was a lot more for them to do. If your not really needing a beach, just stay at the port and go to Señor Frogs!
Debark... No problems... We did relaxed debarked, which means they take your bags the night before so you wait longer on the ship. If you can take your luggage off with you.. You will not wait at all. If you pack heavy like me.. Well you are off around 10:30 am. That being said, it was smooth, luggage was ready, customs easy, got to our car within 20 min.
Overall... GREAT vacation, was not wild and crazy like I thought, lots of family's on the ship having a great time. Loved the ship... Great layout, fun times, great crew!! You can see some wear and tear on the boat, but it is so nice I think it adds to the charm! I like this ship much better than the Dream!! Never felt over crowded didn't really notice the smoke in the casino.. On the dream I could not even walk past the casino because of the smoke... I would highly recommend this cruise!!
Any questions... Please ask!!!