My family and I just returned home from our 2nd annual cruise aboard the Paradise . Sailing 4 nights to Baja Mexico cruise. Since we all live here in S. California the Mexico cruises are an easy embarkation.
We had a total of 9 cabins. Most situated Midship, Category 6D, Empress Deck. One of my sibling's booked late so I gave them my cabin on Empress Deck and I took their cabin on Main Deck Aft. It was one of the cabins looking out of the back end of the ship. I was situated right in the middle of the 6 and was about 2 feet longer than a standard cabin. It's window sill was also about a foot or so deeper than a regular window and it was perfect to sit in the window with a cup of coffee and watch the early morning wake. Although I did feel like a inhabitant of Amsterdam's Red Light District . If only there was someone around to see me..LOL. More on the cabins later.
This was my 5th cruise on Carnival and 17th overall. I have done everything from the now defunct Commodore Cruise Line to Crystal. As I mentioned before this was my family's 2nd cruise together. Last year we did RCI's Monarch of the Seas. Let me be honest, there is no comparison between the two ships. Carnival blows the Monarch out of the water on every level. From the cabins to the food, service and shows. Carnival was just a level or two better. We are already planning next years cruise aboard the Elation.
Entertainment - We went to Tuesday nights Broadway style show. The show was high energy and well done. Same can not be said for Wednesday or Thursday nights show..They were pretty bad. During the day the staff kept everyone who wanted to busy and entertained.
Ports - Catalina: cute and charming. Strolled the streets, then rented a golf cart and drove up into the hills. So beautiful. Back to the ship early afternoon. Ensenada: It has cleaned up some over the years but still needs some help. Walked into town shopped a little then headed to Papa's & Beer. We drank way too much..Tequila is EVIL!!!! I chose to use our sea day to catch up on a book, listen to my I-pod and soak in some sun.
Embarkation - We arrived around 11:15am and were able to check right onto the ship. No hassles and the entire process took about 10-15 minutes. Hint: Fill out your Fun Pass online at least 48 hours prior to your sailing and it saves time at the pier. While we were able to board the ship by 11:30 our cabins would not be available until 1:30p. No big deal we had utilized the curbside luggage service and only had a small carry on each.
Onboard - We headed for the Paris restaurant(Lido Grill) and grabbed a bite to eat...I headed straight for the sandwich station and had a Ruben Sandwich. Carnival's are amazing We gathered our food and sat out by the pool and ordered a round of cocktails and cokes(I drink ice tea, which is free and available at the drink stations(2 inside & 1 outside), listened to the music and just relaxed. Around 1p I took the family on a tour of the ship. I had been on the Inspiration and Ecstasy prior, so I knew my way around. A funny note on the last night of the cruise, I ran into the ships Cruise Director, who came up to me and mentioned that he had seen me giving a tour on the first day, and was wondering who I was since I didn't work for Carnival.
Cabins - After the tour I took the group to their rooms. As I mentioned, we were on the MOTS last year and my family was shocked at how large the cabins were compared to MOTS. My brother in law is a big guy(6'3' / 290lbs) and was thrilled to see the larger rooms. Yes the rooms do need an upgrade and do show some signs of age. Carnival's bedding is fantastic, I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. A note about the aft looking cabins on Main Deck: Even with the Azi-pod system, the ship vibrates from the aft thruster. There was also a smell of fuel each time the ship would set sail. It however dissipates quickly. Again the extra space in the room was great, the window is set back under an over hang so unless the sun is either rising or setting at the tail of the ship, sunlight streaming into the room isn't likely to happen. This did make sleeping in really nice.
Food - The food in the buffet was your typical spread for breakfast and lunch. Very good but not great. The best is the sandwich station and the best pizza at sea..We never went there for dinner. Every night we went to the dinning room for late seating(8:15p). We had a tables by the window(This time of year with late dinning, all you see is darkness or your own reflection. We really enjoyed the service, the waiter was great and our assistant waiter was the best I have ever had. She anticipated every need and always had a smile. The food in the dinning room was way above average. Very tasty and imaginative. Carnival has come along way with their food quality...On my first Carnival cruise on the Jubilee back in 98' we were served Vegall. Yes, that's right..Vegall. Straight from the can with the lima beans a square cut mushy carrots. Don't forget the Chocolate Melting Cake..Yummm. Hint: You can order cappuccino in the dinning room for free. Room service on Carnival, while limited is still very good.. The roast beef & brie on baguette is a must.
Drinks - As I mentioned in the beginning, I mostly drink ice tea, which is always available on the lido deck along with juices, coffee & hot chocolate. Cocktails & beer weren't any higher priced than what I'm used to here in West Hollywood.
Summary - Over all, a fantastic short cruise and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, easy getaway. Once the Paradise receives her "Evolution Of Fun" upgrade, I can see why RCI is pulling the MOTH..I mean MOTS out of Los Angeles. See you on ELATION in 08!