So me and my 3 friends wanted to escape reality and decided to spring for a cruise during my spring break. We wanted it to be cheap and simple so we choose an interior stateroom for all four of us on the Carnival Paradise for a 4 day cruise to Cozumel. Since the Paradise leaves from Tampa and we live 10 minutes from the port this was the perfect option for us. We packed up and left for a vacation we knew we would always remember.
*We are college aged but my experience in the tourism and travel industry has been very extensive, so I was assessing the boat while having a wild and crazy spring break too. However I will be very thorough in my review for future cruisers of all ages.
Overall I was highly impressed with the Paradise! I know it is one of Carnival's older and smaller vessels. However the reality that struck me with this trip is that it is a perfect size for 3-5 day cruises. There are just enough things to do, and we never felt like we missed something or an opportunity. The ship had just come out of dry-dock about a month ago and she looked fresh. New paint everywhere, clean carpet, just overall very impressive. Nothing was overwhelmingly amazing or special, but just right. The staff was incredibly friendly and constantly cleaning the ship (I woke up before the sun every morning and watched them working hard early) At the end of this review you will find pictures of most of the areas in the boat along with some details. The ship sailed incredibly smoothly, mostly due to the fact we had the most perfect weather imaginable!
Staterooms: Remember that there were four of us, which we knew, and we got an interior room, which we knew, and cruises have a bad reputation of their rooms for being too small, which we feared. NOT the case on the Paradise! It wasn't spacious by our everyday standards, but our upper/lower worked out excellent for each of us. The beds were comfortable, plenty of storage for all of our personal items, and the bathroom was surprisingly large. The styling was outdated and a little tacky, but it worked. As I mentioned everything was clean and worked perfectly fine. Hot water was tough to get right without it being scalding and the water pressure was a little weak. But we are troopers. Box TV which we only fell asleep with on. Biggest complaint was that there was only one outlet we could find. The infamous lifejacket box at the beds wasnt an issue at all because it was under the TV box, so it was a useful place to put misc. items. Our cabin steward was great at making sure everything was clean each night and we felt safe the whole time.
Food: I'm not a huge critic when it comes to food, judging that I dont really eat at home, but I threw out my diet and went to town this cruise. Its part of the whole experience and we all took advantage of that opportunity. Overall the food was great! We ate in the MDR every night and were impressed/satisfied. Meals were always plentiful and presented well. I had fish two nights, best prime rib of my life with some really good lobster on formal night, and some spicy pork chop another. Desserts were tasty (famed chocolate melting cake lived up to its legend) and appetizers were decent. Really liked the alligator fritters on one of the nights (a little spicy). The Lido buffet was always our pick for lunch. Lines varied depending time and which one you choose. The deli station wasnt ever too long but time consuming (staff always was working their hardest). I choose this station a couple times and always enjoyed my selections (large and fresh options). Only had the pizza a few times and it was ok. I have a pizza spot back home and this couldn't compare at all, but it sufficed. The salad bar and general buffet/grill was always well stocked and the food was decent. I usually didnt try too many of these options though. Also had a stir fry bowl on the first afternoon that had a good kick to it and offered a good alternative choice, time consuming line however. Coffee shop was good (had an irish coffee one morning) and the sushi option we tried once and were satisfied. Drinks onboard were always good but of course a little sweet for my tastes. If presented with food options on a nicer line I would probably have to rank carnival lower. But I;m not picky and was never disappointed, thus it was a win in my book.
Entertainment: Two words, Weeeeeeeeee JIMMY! He was our cruise director and it was his first cruise on the Paradise. He was amazing and by far one of the best directors I have ever met! Funny?? You don't even know! He is honest, down to earth, and a great guy. He even sat down and talked to me face to face on the last day when I asked him about possibly working on a ship one day. He is almost a good enough reason just to pick this cruise. The other activities were decent overall. Shows on two nights were decent. Very high energy and decent choreography. A little disappointing with the singing, but the live music accompaniment was a plus. The hairy chest contest was fun and even though my friend didnt get picked for the mixology contest, it was still an interesting idea. Two comedians but never went to their shows because we were not impressed with their preview shows the first night. Did hear from our family at our MDR table that they were hilarious (I am into comedy, so i'm picky about who gets my approval, lol). Live music around the boat was usually ok (heard alot of songs repeat) and the Rex dance club got very busy at night with some good selections and alot of people getting into the dancing. Our group also won the Ships on a stick from the digital scavenger hunt which was alot of fun too. One last note, go to the meet the cruise director seminar on the first morning. Once again Weeee Jimmy was awesome and we won a bottle of champagne for singing!
Staff: As I mentioned earlier they were always keeping the boat immaculate and were always friendly. Our wait staff was hit and miss. Some nights one of them would be fun and relaxed, then the next the other would, then some times neither. Overall they were timely and friendly. The language barrier is the biggest issue as it is on any cruise. Hard to make that exact connection with the differences in cultures. Some people went above and beyond which is always appreciated too.
I'm not going to do a full review about the port too. If you have any questions please feel free to ask as I am always willing to give my input and advice. Overall this was one of the best trips of my life and it was worth every penny! I highly recommend the Paradise for a great quick getaway that is a great value and a highly enjoyable time. I miss sailing on her already and can't wait until my next cruise with Carnival!
*See post in forums for Pictures and descriptions