My wife and I have sailed Carnival with some frequency. We booked this cruise at the last minute. We read the reviews and most were fairly accurate except the extremely low and extremely high. The ship does not merit extreme reviews. Like many reviewers have observed, the ship is of an older vintage. This translate into a scarcity of balconies and a plethora of ocean view and interior cabins. A lot has changed in 25 years since its construction so don't expect the same accouterments of a newer vessel.
Wisely Carnival has made this ship into a four day wonder. We got on in Tampa at about 1 p.m. and were shown to our adequate but tiny cabin. It was clean and neat but had a CRT TV, a large mass that contained our life jackets in one corner, and two twin beds combined into a king. There was no sofa or chair (except a very little one) so while in the cabin, you stand or lay down in the bed. There is no interactive programming to check your account or to view the menu or other ship's activities. These are some of the obvious signs that the ship is dated.
In the dining room, the waiters/waitresses are getting used to "anytime dining" and it seems to have impacted on their ability to render good service (although they did try). The food in the dining room was better than the Carnival norm and the food on the Lido Deck about what you would expect on any Carnival ship. Given the length of the cruise (very short), we only interacted with our waiter. I never learned the names or was introduced to the lesser staff which was a Carnival first. As typical the maitre d' was a behind the scenes guy who occasionally acted as the MC for the waiters'/waitresses' nightly dance numbers. There was no breakfast or lunch served in the dining room but rather a George Lopez themed brunch.
If you looked around, you could find fault with the ship's maintenance. There were rust stains visible that are never seen on a newer Carnival ship and food left on deck surfaces and chairs were slow to be cleared. We watched a plate of chicken bones sit unglamorously on a deck chair for about 30 minutes. We left before we ever saw anyone remove it.
Our destination (not that we cared) was Cozumel, the Carnival owned docking area. We decided on a trip to Tulum, the Mayan ruin, which upon reflection was a three out of five star affair. The transportation both sea and land take so long that the actual visit to the sight is horribly truncated. Our guide was of the verbose variety who commercialized many aspects of this "Mayan Adventure". He took us to a souvenir store (a total waste of 20-30 minutes), sold beer, pushed Mayan cartouches, and chattered endlessly about the wonders of Mayan life and culture. (We were interested but not inclined to believe half of his patter.)
Within the context of the trip's price, the Paradise was a bargain. There are many better ships and many better cruises but you do get your money's worth.