This was a rather last minute trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversay. We were looking a options we came across a cruise on the carnival paradise. I have been on one cruise before about 17 years ago on a carnival ship and this was my husband's first time cruising.
I was so grateful for cruise critic as i had done a bunch of research thanks to the research we knew what to expect.
First the Positives
Very easy to board in Tampa. We flew in the night before and used priceline to get a hotel for $62 near the port and airport with an airport shuttle. Once at the port things went very smooth. Once on board we went to the buffet for lunch. Our room was ready by 12:30 p.m.
The main dining room was a positive. We had 8:15 dining and sat with three other couples who were fantastic. They were all a big positive! We looked forward to dinner every night. A few tips we learned order the cheese plate on the desert menu as an appetizer. Order multipe appetizers, deserts and yes even entrees. The dining room service was fabulous. Padli and Rico were our servers and they were just great. We also ate breakfast as many times as possible in the main dining room.
We had an inside cabin that was more spacious than we were expecting. Yes it is worn yes there were old spots on the carpet but overall it was clean. Our room steward Davis did a great job making sure we had ice, etc. I was very glad that i brough Febreeze (as there was an odor but was quickly resolved with some febreeze), lysol spray, power strip, night light all organized in an over the door shoe organizer. The beds were comfortable. In this cabin there is the issue with the life jacket cabinet making it impossible to walk around the bed. I just slid myelf out the front of the bed. After a while you get used to it.
We had rough seas on our last sea day. I am not convinced that they were using the stablizers. I was concerned about being in just a foward cabin but learned that when it is rough the entire boat rocks. It wasn't any worse in our cabin than other places on the ship.
Entertainment is what you make of it. We had no problem getting chairs by the pool where we spent a lot of time. We also played Trivia, attended the art auction, went to the adult comedy shows, the show Shout which was excellent, and gambled a bit - a tip right now when you order a "Classic Cocktail" on this ship if you take your reciept to the casino cashier they will give a $5 match play for every classic cocktail purchased. Once we found out about this guess what we drank the rest of the cruise.
Ports of Call. We went to the Royal Palms Beach Club in Grand Cayman $4 per person cab ride and yes as other reviews predicted the cab driver tried to talk us out of going here. It was $5 to rent a beach chair. Drinks and Food are expensive but they are expensive everywhere on the island.
Cozmuel. We rented a driver ahead of time through tours plaza. I highly recommend this company. Our driver was Alberto. He was fabulous. He took us all over the island - shopping, history, tequila tour (a must do), and some beach time. We wanted to avoid the tourist areas. He took us to the east side of the island which was wonderful. We had a great lunch at Playa Bonita. I would strongly recommend Tours Plaza and Alberto.
Ok now for the Cons
The buffet food wasn't really even average. I would compare it to Golden Corral at best. We ate as many meals in the Main Dining Room for this reason.
Kids. There were literally hundreds of kids on this cruise. We were shocked at how parents allowed their children to have free run of the boat not only is it not as relaxing for fellow passengers but a real safety issue for the kids left unsupervised.
In summary for the price we paid we felt like we got a great vacation. We knew going that this wasn't Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Princess and we didn't have expectations for their level of cruising at the Carnival price we paid. If you have Celebrity expectations I think it would be better not to go on this cruise. We ran into other cruisers who weren't enjoying themselves because they had been on those other lines and where expecting the same at the Carnival price. Bottom line we will cruise again as my husband is hooked.