Carnival Paradise Cruise Review by JayinAZ: Family Cruise to Catalina/Ensenada
Overall Member Rating
Family Cruise to Catalina/Ensenada
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
We are a family of 5, cruising with 9 yr old daughter and grandparents. This was our 13th cruise, the first to Catalina (although we've been on 2 of the shorter 3 nighters to Ensenada).
We drove in from Phoenix and stayed 2 nights in LA to go site seeing. We stayed at the Radisson in Culver City, booked thru Priceline at $55/night which was well worth it. Parking is $14/day with in/out privileges. Free wifi in room and a nice pool/hottub area. We try to book thru Priceline when possible and this was the first time I've ever seen the bill say it was booked thru Priceline. The room was fine and I don't think we got anything less than anyone else who booked directly thru the hotel website.
We did a tour of LA with "LA City Tours" which was very good. It was 3 hours and we saw a lot in those 3 hours. I recommend it.
We arrived in Long Beach at 11:45 and saw the "boarding will begin at 1:30pm" sign, however they were just letting the VIPs board when we More arrived. We got in a line about 100 feet long and I think we were one of the first to board. Everything went really smooth and we were onboard by 12:15. The buffet wasn't too crowded so we ate and drank a bit. The rooms were ready by 1:30 just as they told us. We got 2 rooms, both were oceanview on Upper deck. Both rooms were somewhat loud in the early AM- it sounded like engine noise or some kind of mechanical noise and I swear it sound like waves hitting the ship, but I don't know why we would be hearing that. It wasn't too bad to wake us up, but when awake it was noticeable early AM. Our room steward "Made" was excellent.
We got a tender to Catalina and there was no wait at all. We got a 6 person golf cart for $60/hour (they have got to be making a ton of money on this!!!) For each minute over an hour, it was $1. We spent 67 minutes so it was $67. It was something different and fun to drive around and see the sites. Catalina is like a trip back in time. It seemed like the 50's and we all felt very safe. We ate at a hot dog place which was really good too. After a few hours in town and shopping we went back to the ship and again no wait for the tender.
In Ensenada we took a tour to La Bufadora with the shuttle bus people who provide the bus from the ship to town. It was $15/person and we got 2 hours at La Bufadora to eat and shop. The guide was very knowledgable and nice. The same tour is $30 when booked thru the ship so we saved a few bucks and got the same thing. They have a new deal at La Bufadora where the vendors aren't allowed to leave their booths or touch the customers anymore. I would still refer to it as "the gauntlet" but definitely not like how it was a few years ago when we last went.
The dining room was good, although our waiter was slow. He was very nice and apologized several times, but it was just a bit too long to sit with a hyper 9 yr old. The last 2 nights we went ot the buffet. We thought the food in the dining room, buffet and room service was very good. No complaints, but we're not really picky people.
Daughter went to Camp Carnival 3 of the 4 days for a few hours and said she had fun. They didn't give a parting gift like they used to, but times are tough, I get it.
One thing I did like was that they had a lot more of the smaller size photos. No more $20 8.5 X 11" Most of the photos were $10 or $12 which was more bearable.
Everyone did seem very happy onboard, the staff was accomodating and they always said hi as we passed. We got towel animals and chocolates each night. There was a good mix of passengers with a lot of young children, middle aged and elderly in wheelchairs and walkers. It was not a party/drunk fest cruise, but there was some of that going on too. I think everyone would have fit in somewhere on this cruise.
Disembarkcation was smooth too. We were luggage tag 15 and were called at 9:15. We were at the car in the parking garage at 9:50.
Overall, we had a great time. This is a much smaller ship with the only amenities being a pool and hot tub. We look forward to the next trip which is much bigger with more stuff to keep us occupied. For under $100/night though, this can't be beat. I should say that they did have a good amount of traditional activities though- bingo, hairy chest competition, short trivia games etc...
OK, last couple things... I bought a 6 pack of beer the night before the cruise and had 1 left. I put it in the check in suitcase and it made it onboard. I saved $5 !! Drinks are way too pricey IMO!!!! $10.06 for a long island iced tea is a bit steep for me, but I watched and they always made it 2 full chots, sometimes a little extra pour, so although it was expensive, it was a good drink. They are making a killing on beer though. 16 oz beers for $6. Wow!!!!
Long review I know, but I always get a lot of info reading these so I hope this helps someone out. Any questions, ask away- Jay963@cox.net I have a ton of pics too. Less
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