Some cruises bang, some cruises bomb. The Carnival Paradise was sadly, a complete bomb.
I first want to say that I have had the pleasure of taking four cruises, three of which where from the Mediterranean. One with Carnival, the others Royal Caribbean. This was our first US cruise. Before I begin, let me say this. I am not a person who complains about every little thing, however we travel extensively and we work hard for our money. We of course expect to get what we pay for.
Ok, let's get down to business. The Carnival Paradise has a lot to be desired.
When we first boarded the ship, it took a while for your eyes to adjust, vertigo set in if you will. It is, as many stated, dated. Regardless of its upgrades in 2005 or so, it's dated people.
When we entered our stateroom R125, it was as if I entered circa 1977! The tv was older than me tucked away in a wooden frame. The walls were grey with a bright orange ceiling. The only plus, a big bathroom. Actually one of the largest I have seen on any other cruise we have taken. Sadly what you gain in the bathroom, you certainly lose in the cabin. No sofa, no nice chair. Two beds, a stool and a small dinette chair. It truly made for cramped cruising.
Our room stewart Antonio Jr. was a true gem. We asked for ice, we got it, we asked for early room cleaning, done! He was most obliging!
Now dinner. We use to pack the suit coats and dress pants, etc. We chose not to on this trip. Reviews said is was a party ship and believe me folks, it was.
We thought we would enjoy some great eats at the buffet as we did on other cruises. I guess the one thing you need to remember is. " don't think ". This way your expectations and hopes will not be shattered.
Buffet. Simply put, horrific! I have been in the food industry for over thirty years. Am I a culinary genius, no! Do I understand and appreciate food? Yes! A seven year old could critique the food at the buffet. The food was repetitive, tasteless and well, vile. The salad bar fixings you could have eaten with a spoon they were so soggy. The deli, boring with small sandwiches. There was no imagination of sandwich varieties at all. Side dishes were soggy cole slaw or soggy thin potato salad. A bag of chips would have been good.
The Pizza Pirate, store bought Red Baron pizza is far superior. The workers try to push what is already made instead of taking time to make what you want. Oh, ring the bell, they are always in the back slacking.
The breakfast buffets choose to use powdered eggs. BEWARE! If you have never had them, watch out. There are the options of omelets and eggs made to order. Definitely your best bet. Grits and greasy bacon along with baked beans were an everyday staple. The baked beans? I don't get.
Oh, but it gets better. If you can bare the food, then the shirtless men walking around hovering over what your about to eat is simply delectable. I had to complain twice to the manager that I find this to be utterly disgusting. He agreed and told people to shirt up or get out! If you have a sweet tooth, I will say that the culinary team should be proud cause the desserts were simply and utterly amazing. But I do believe some, if not all the desserts are store bought or previously frozen. After all how can you put out such incredible desserts and fail so miserably with main entrees.
The casino host was very kind and offered me two free drinks on occasion. The casino is small, but was never busy. We did pretty well on a few machines, even using the same few hundred dollars for over four days! The staff did make you feel comfortable. A few perks we received, free drinks after 1,000 points earned every fifteen minutes and $10.00 back after a certain point gain. Don't get nervous like I did. No tickets come out for your winnings. They go directly to your sail & sign card and you redeem them at the cage or at another slot machine.
We are not snooty individual's, but the class of people are something that I am not use to. Loud, sloppy and extremely DRUNK people. Hey, did we have our younger days of partying, hell ya. I just don't need to see 2,000 adults get lambasted for five days making total fools of themselves.
Entertainment was a joke. One night it was the cruise director juggling. We spent more time counting how many times he dropped things than the number of times he successfully juggled things. I guess an A for effort is in order for him. We were then told to stay in our seats for the "show of a lifetime" maybe Vanilla Ice or MC Hammers lifetime, but not ours. Two bumbling jokers break dancing and clapping their hands. Really? Thank goodness the closest exit was behind us.
Gift shops, usual $10 trinkets. But as we usually do, some duty free smokes and some nice Citizen watches was our score.
We finally made it to the main dining room after four days of hoping and praying that the buffet would get better. As we walked into the dining room we were greeted by a dining room waiter leaning up against a counter. Being our first night, I asked where our table was. He grunted " what's the number", I told him. His reply, " go find it". Really? I said well the manager gave us a new table number, who did you ask he grunted, I said the manager. I grunted back do you need me to tell you again. I walked away and spoke with the hostess. She happily brought us to a nice table with a superb serving team of Martin and Victor After I told her of the greeting we received, she was extremely apologetic. Martin made some nice food recommendations. However the food was not superb, but it was at least fresh, nicely presented and good. Finally a decent meal. My fault for putting to much trust in the buffet.
So on the fourth night around 12:30 AM we are awoken to a loud announcement. " Alpha team, alpha team, alpha team. Report to deck 3 AC condenser room". ALPHA if you did not know means fire.
We did not take this too seriously at first, then we realized we were only one floor above and then the announcements were more frequent.
We got dressed, grabbed our passports and walked briskly up five flights of stairs to an outside deck. The smell of something burning and smoke filled the hallways. The fire doors were closed and people were in the halls waiting for the next report.
Some people were so panicked, they grabbed there life vests and ran by us. Another woman simply said " I'm f@&$?ng outta here.
The good news, no major fire. There was a small fire and it was contained thanks to the brave and swift moving crew. Bad news we had no AC for a few hours, but we awoke to a nice chilly cabin. We were so not in the mood to abandon ship in the dark of night!
In closing, if you want a party ship, I mean a flat out drunken stupor party ship. Book now or forever hold your peace.
If you want a nice, relaxing, peaceful cruise book Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Norwegian you will be treated with class.
Carnival, we gave you two chances, you will not get a third. RCCL is our next twelve day trans Atlantic cruise in six months. We cannot wait !! We are certain, they will not disappoint.
Good Luck all and remember, you get what you pay for. I'll make certain I never underspend again!
PS-wait till you try and disembark in Tampa.