At 2,052 passengers and 70,367-tons, the mid-sized Fantasy-class ships (which include Fantasy, Ecstasy, Inspiration, Imagination, Fascination, Elation, Sensation and Paradise) are the workhorses of Carnival's fleet. These vessels, which lack some of the up-to-the-minute accouterments sported by Carnival's newer ships -- plentiful balcony staterooms, distinctive indoor promenade -- are typically assigned shorter-than-a-week itineraries and, as such, make frequent turnarounds. Paradise is no exception.
Paradise, which at one time was the industry's only all-non-smoking cruise vessel (the company abandoned the philosophy at the end of 2003) remains a beautiful ship, spiffy-clean, easy to navigate, and filled with the attributes -- tons of activities, great food, Camp Carnival for kids, wonderful pools and sun decks, first-rate entertainment -- that draw guests to Carnival again and again. Its short cruises -- three- and four-night Mexico cruises out of Long Beach through November 2011, and four- and five-night Caribbean cruises out of Tampa December 2011 and beyond -- are affordable getaways that attract everyone from young families to seniors.
However, make no mistake that this is an older ship. Carnival is doing its best to spiff it up -- adding in dedicated teen and tween clubs, an adults-only sun deck tucked away on an aft deck and even extra-fee, higher-end steak and seafood options in the dining room (to make up for its lack of a specialty dining venue). And further Evolutions of Fun upgrades, including the addition of more waterslides and a redesigned pool area, will take place over the next few years. In the meantime, though, cabins definitely have an outdated look with wardrobes and bathroom vanities showing some wear, as well as a lack of balconies. (And the suites with balconies don't even have floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors.) The dining rooms are one level with low ceilings as opposed to the airy, multi-level venues found on newer ships.
Still, if you can keep from comparing this ship with its younger siblings, it's easy to have a good time on Paradise with plenty of activities and casual dining options available nearly round the clock. Because with such brief itineraries, you will run out of time onboard before you run out of things to do.