I'm a fairly new member and love reading and dreaming on this site; therefore, I had better contribute! I loved the Paradise.
This was my 5th cruise, most others being 1980 -1992, 2 mini 1-3 day trips and 2 seven day cruises. The only relatively recent cruise was one on the Star Princess (three day inaugural season). All of the things I was worried about did not happen; everything I hoped for did. I went solo, and desperately needed a break. All was planned one week in advance. Reading and dreaming of doing this and thanks to many entries on this site, I figured out how to use auction sites for hotels before and after cruise, one night each, and last minute air form an out of way place. Hotels 3.5*, $70 and $75, and air under $250, cruise around $300 plus insurance. I'm hoping to cruise again soon on a special milestone Birthday! Weather cool but with snow at home day before I left; no complaints! I had a lovely time gazing at Avalon after a spa treatment in casual sundress and jacket in Serenity area.
Service: A busy crew, always with smiles...head waitress asked and remembered names. Kept wine beautifully, one bottle for three nights I ate in dining room. Cabin steward was there when I boarded around 3:30; as I enjoyed the Queen Mary after checking luggage in around 1:30...I had major delays flying in and did not get to hotel until 10:30, thank heavens for late night room service (had best burger I've ever had..with onions and mushrooms sauteed and top shelf charbroiled ground sirloin)...My cabin steward gave morning and pm service and kept me in extra ice the whole time and gave me the nicest little towel animals and heart on last night. Bad neck and back no problem on firm bed..asked for padding second night and probably retired duvet under bottom sheet did trick. One niggle on late sleep in one am he did not get to me until late evening and only once that day...I was out in afternoon...but he was great...read my desire for no overly friendly banter after greeting me and I felt safe and well taken care of. Though very rare, cruise safety problems happen and from all male service people to cabin I received respect, effort, and kindness I am very pleased and will still enjoy solo travel with this line and others. Hint: Queen Mary Discount for Carnival Passengers.
Ship: Not the Star Princess, which I loved, but a very nice smaller ship easy to enjoy and learn how to navigate. Marble, funny eggs sparkled, purple tubes in Elation dining room...Really liked the lounge with ship painting behind bar, and the deco feel of wood and Queen Mary lounge etc.; zany parts fun and what you read about Carnival but elegant none the less in many areas. Best two places...Serenity deck in port, refurbished spa.
Cabin: A real surprise..I was worried...inside 1A aft on Empress was nice...one couple at my table and 65ish were in same grade several doors down because they cruise often and especially on short ones economize. Mine had fake window above bed area; on photos and in person a friendly feel, with new drapes and carpet, but old peach and gray furniture & bath with purple orange fabric on chairs and bedskirt. Great hot water, storage, bathroom, & clean, a little wear on Formica and bath tile grout, but I think storage will be missed behind mirror on remodel.
Sheets, duvet, pillows heavenly; one night only heard some equip. go back and forth but it wasn't too bad. I thought all ship noise was muted and comforting on that deck aft...rocks felt gentle. One night was rocky enough to limit show but they choose not to and I didn't see anyone having trouble. I loved having no one across from me with bed lights and ship panel above storage table lighting could be soft or bright...little signed print in room was tropical..table mates had Cat. 11 last unobstructed balcony cabins, (one solo new widow, and two long term friends my age), on last night we shared a mini cabin crawl...two gals $800 each, widow solo $1600 fare, both had good reasons to enjoy and go fancy but they all sat comfortably for a few minutes in my cabin...4 people..I didn't feel cheated or cheap in my little 1A...it was large for one with bunk up, airy enough and well lit and kind of special in it's own uncrowded little hall. Good sleeping and very cozy and restful. Only once each night a few teenagers ran loudly by...minimal nuissance.
Dining: Big 10 person table close to 2 serving areas...center bar and individual station...a little crowded but ok. Food was very good...portions were smaller than I have seen on posted meal photos for Carnival. 1rst lobster in 15 plus years wonderful but very small and served with 3 jumbo prawns...could have asked for second but felt rushed.. only real complaint was rushed in dining room...food was all great...fruit divine perfect, nice spa Tilapia, low cal desserts, nice salmon, and great Blt lazy evening in cabin. Room sevice had seveal "hot" sandwiches and great cointinental bagels, croissants and fruit. Also very timely room service except one busy port evening..only one 45 min wait...all others...no night before ordering...wake up when I wake up, call and arrival in 10 min!!!
Activities: Great movie "Austrailia" one pm. Delightful kareoke with family graduate cruise celebration "frat boys" winning but so much talent!!! Better than ship bar music. Good pianist, and solo folk rock, bad two other groups...Spa was fantastic, two in port sevices two different days, one massage 50 min. and one mini-facial, scalp, back, and leg, ankle, foot massage 50 min. Wonderful sauna, massage rooms, steam room, waiting and changing area showers etc. No pressure just list of products at end and I tipped well...easy on, off, embarcation, debarkation and great time. Best parts are wonderful conversations with people I met at dinner and one gal first day and in spa...we sat on a window ledge in our robes looking out to sea with a deep heart to heart talk that I believe was sent to both of us from beyond...we both offered something important to each other and it's the ability to relax and have these things happen that I loved the most. Saw both shows...terrific and great real band...now for next Carnival mini...Elation and maybe I'll even get off boat!!! Love to all Happy Cruise Critic members...sjn911 Happy Travels!!!