This was my first time on a Carnival cruise and my wife's second. She had sailed on the Paradise back in October for the 4 day run. We booked this cruise back in February, and the prices were high then. They eventually came back down to a more agreeable range a month before we sailed, and Carnival made the adjustments with no questions asked. Working with our PVP has always been a pleasure, and we will continue to use her.
EMBARKATION -- Our group of 10 drove to LA from Phoenix on Friday and arrived at the Long Beach terminal about 2:30PM. The line was not very long, and moved quickly. Checkout at the desk was delayed due to listing my CPAP machine with Carnival. Everybody, and I mean everybody, had a concern that I brought it with me! I had to answer questions about it 3 times before we were able to get to our room. They had put a block on our check in and delayed us getting it unblocked due to the CPAP (this took the agent and 2 managers to get a release, with more questions about the CPAP), and I alarmed at the card check on board and was sent to the information desk where I was asked about it again. Thanks for the concern, but did we really need to do it this much?
The room was very clean, and we met our room steward Rio for the first time. He was very friendly and efficient. Our ice bucket was always full and the towel animals were entertaining. Our inside cabin was larger than I had expected. The only complaint was the life vest locker blocking the end of the bed. The bathroom was spotless, and the shower worked very well with hot water never being a problem.
We lunched at the Paris Cafe on the Lido deck, and the food was average. Nothing to write home about. We had our lunches there, and it was definitely not the highlight of the trip. We had breakfast there on Saturday morning, and it was good for breakfast. We had the rest of our breakfast in the dining room.
SHIP -- The Paradise was very clean. The decor was, shall we say, interesting. The atrium took some getting used to. Getting around the ship was confusing at first. By the second day we mostly had it down. There were lots of locations to get away from the crowds if you wanted to. Thanks to CC for the "secret door" locations. We used them both and had several occasions where we were the only ones out there. Our room was on deck 4, the Riviera deck. Our dining room was the Elation on deck 7, the Atlantic deck. It was easy enough to walk up to, and we never waited too long for the elevators if we wanted to us them. The work out room was on deck 12, the Sports deck. It was loaded with treadmills and ellipticals, free weights and the like. I used it for two days, and loved walking while looking forward to the ocean! We used the card room for two days, and it was a disappointment. It seemed to be more an afterthought than a real card room. This was also located on the Atlantic deck by the atrium.
DINING ROOM -- We ate three dinners and 2 breakfasts here (Elation) and enjoyed every meal. Wanpin and Honey were our wait staff and they made the trip truly enjoyable. The food was excellent! The only complaint my wife had was that there were no escargot available on the 3 day cruises, only on the 4 day cruises. The wine selection was adequate and not too expensive. The chocolate warming cake was great! We were at table 179, which seated all 10 of us. We were never pressed for time, and dinner was served promptly. The menu selection was large, and everything arrived as requested.
As I mentioned before, the Paris Cafe was underwhelming. The food was mediocre at best, and Sunday for lunch was downright awful. The two lines moved quickly, and the selection was varied each day. The pizza, which I had been looking forward to, was a big disappointment, when you could get someone to get you a slice.
We got some cake and chocolate covered strawberries from the cake shop, both which were outstanding.
EXCURSIONS -- Here's where our experience was less than great. My ATV and Winery excursion was cancelled due to "mechanical problems". What? I think it was more of a case of it rained the day before, and we didn't want to get our machines muddy. Other ATVs were running that day, but not the excursion listed with Carnival. My S&S card was credited for the amount. My wife took the Blowhole and Winery tour. The tide was out so the Blowhole was not much of an event. When they got to the Winery, they had no staff to sell the wine and had to drag a waiter from the restaurant to man the register. He, of course, had no clue about the wines. She said their sales pretty much suffered due to the lack of preparation.
ENTERTAINMENT -- We caught 2 shows with the Carnival singers, and both were great. The family rated comedy show was a disappointment. We never got a chance to catch the late adult show. The trivia show was mostly a shout out the answer affair, followed by a couple of game show type productions that were mostly entertaining.
The Putt-Putt course was a hoot! We had a great time using it in port. The slide and pools were open and lots of people were using them. I didn't spend much time around the pool, but it never looked too crowded.
We had lots of pictures taken by the Carnival photographers. There were lots of Photo location set up all over the boat, ant they took some great pictures. We bought several and got a CD with some more. We saw ourselves on the cruise video, but we weren't impressed enough by it to purchase it. I guess our change at stardom will have to wait for another time!
DEBARKATION -- We checked out backs for the debarkation. We played cards and waited for the lines to die down from the self assist patrons. About 9:30AM they called our number. There was no line, and we had our bags and were at the parking lot in 10 minutes. No rush and no pressure!
CONCLUSION -- We had a great time and would do it again. The Memorial Day weekend made the prices a little higher, so I would try another weekend if we could. The Paradise is a great boat, and is in fine shape. Here crew did an outstanding job, and made the trip that much more enjoyable.