Carnival Paradise Cruise Review by CanadaFour: From Awe to Awful
Overall Member Rating
From Awe to Awful
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
We cruise regularly with our children (12, 6) and were curious about Carnival having sailed on NCL and Disney exclusively. We chose this itinerary (Ensenada and Catalina) based on convenience and were aware that they weren't the most exciting of destinations. Hence, we weren't surprised to find that it is barely worthwhile disembarking at these locations.
We did one excursion (a Carnival booked one) which I will discuss later.
First of all-- we were impressed with the efficiency of embarkation. The early checkin at the Queen Mary made for a quick and painless entry to the ship and we found the staff on shore helpful, if unenthusiastic.
The food overall was quite impressive (wayyy better than NCL, not as good at DCL, but they are exceptional). The variety on the menu was good and our vegetarian daughter was thrilled with the tasty offerings available to her. We discovered that we do not like shared tables, not because we had bad tablemates but because of More the fear that we would. I cruise because I like to have all my cares attended to and it was like waiting for a blind date to show up. There was a reason I hated blind dates! Further, the kids have come to see meal times (at home and during travel) as our chance to catch up with each other and reconnect. Having others at the table interfered with this. Also, it appeared that there was no attempt made to match families with similar aged children together. Seemed odd. At least on DCL, they work at matching diners (and dining times) to family composition so families with young kids, for example, are on the same rotation. That said, food service overall was excellent and the variety offered pleasing.
The cabins on this ship are spacious although there did seem to be wasted space. It was a poor start when the steward admitted to us that he hadn't checked the manifest and had prepared the room for only 2 (rather than 4). No problem, except that despite asking at least one time per day, we never received 4 pool towels or 4 water glasses. The room was kept adequately clean, although it appeared very dated and worn (chips in furniture, peeling paint).
This lack of upkeep continued throughout the ship. We never saw anyone doing regular upkeep (on NCL for example, someone is always polishing something or scrubbing the pool deck) and the cleaning we did see was perfuntory at best. For example, we watched the windows being cleaned in the Paris restaurant (buffet). the cleaner used a dirty rag, in dirty water and merely streaked the grime around in circles. The table cleaning was similar. What was really gross were the public washrooms. A dirty mop in the corner, sticky and wet floors, toilet paper stuck to the floor and left there for hours. No soap. It was like the bathroom at a seedy bus station. My husband said that the men's rooms were worse and walked out gagging one day.
The level of cleanliness lacked generally and the ship is patched up everywhere. It looks like a ship which they plan to retire. What was most sad, was the crew seemed disengaged. The dinner 'shows' were so sad. Our waiter tried and got my kids up with him dancing, but other servers were more than half hearted and didn't give any effort at all. The entertainment seems entirely focused on a young adult crowd and almost nothing starts until 10pm. Which, coincidentally, is when the kid club starts charging. Only one show was kid friendly (excellent hypnotist), the dancing act was really lame. The game show was very funny, but not family entertainment. The kids programs had odd and limited hours. You spend a lot of time in line waiting to drop off and pick up the kids and they are only open for about 2 hrs at a time. The activities in the mid age program are horrible. Sand art, for example, took 15 seconds per kid (not hyperbole) to fill a small vial necklace with a few different colors of sand. The rest of the time was spent with video games. I did not hold them to Disney standards, but seriously they did nothing with the kids and didn't engage with them at all. I went to the family build a bear workshop and besides asking for my room card to bill me for the bear (whose presewn head fell off that night-- talk about horrifying to a little kid), not a single staff member even said hello to me or my child. In summary, none of the staff seem to care. About anything. The ship (which was in disrepair or downright filthy), themselves (often their uniforms were stained and there was no evidence of collegiality) or the guests.
I almost forgot the excursion. We did the family friendly resort getaway in Ensenada. Save your money. You go to a really old resort out of town with a tiny beach with beer bottles broken all over it and loads of cig butts. The pool is nice, but you can get that on the ship. The food was good (but you can get that on the ship). Really not worth the money.
Would we do Carnival again? Maybe. But... with the same expectations one has when you stop at an old motel on the Interstate. I would really hope that the lack of care on this ship was ship specific and not indicative of the line in general. We prefered the food on Carnival to NCL. Prefered the NCL freestyle to Carnival's and DCL's set dining. Prefer the kids programming on NCL (and of course Disney). Less
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