I have sailed Carnival on a few occasions. The following is what to expect on the Paradise.
Embarkation: Tampa has valet parking. A nice option we took advantage of for $20.00 more. We were in the grand suite so we had priority boarding. Very smooth boarding, but I did miss not having a steward escort us to our room. We were on our own to find it. It was a lovely cabin with a leather sectional sofa, additional club chairs, large dressing/makeup area, nice size walk in closet and bathroom.
I did not like that they automatically put the tip for cabin steward, waiters/waitresses on the bill. We are generous tippers and the service was much better before they started doing this. Now they are a bit lacking in the service dept.
The ship is showing it's age. We expected that, but not as much maintenance going on in ports as there used to be.
The ship is slightly inconvenient getting from deck to deck. Watch the prices for jewelry in the onboard gift shop. You can do much better at a port, however you must haggle.
The food: We are not big eaters. The Lido deck buffet was not good with the exception of the Mongolian Grill which we ate at once during embarkation. The rest we ate in the dining room. I would rate the food good, not great. The warm melting cake varied every night from fair to excellent. No other dessert was anything to rave about. No more midnight buffets. We never ate at them anyway so we didn't miss it.
A bathing suit from a previous guest was found behind the shower curtain. We had been showering in there for 3 days prior to the discovery.
The spa was fabulous! My husband had his teeth whitened and I had a keratin hair treatment, cut and blowout. Purchase the products to take home to maintain the beautiful hair! The truly are great.
Disembarkation is quick and easy or laid back and easy. Your choice.
All in all we had a wonderful time spending time together.
We always cruise in suites and it's back to Celebrity Cruise Lines for us. Carnival is about fun, Celebrity is about luxury.
Shopping was ok. Port is beautiful. The staff at Paradise beach were not friendly. We moved over to San Fransisco Beach where we encountered the same problem.
Shopping was great but the island was not as opulent as we expected.