By Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor; updated by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor
Carnival Paradise Overview
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 In the meantime, though, cabins definitely have an outdated look with wardrobes and bathroom vanities showing some wear, as well as a lack of balconies.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.
Carnival Paradise Fellow Passengers
The weekend passengers are onboard to party and tend to be a rowdy lot; there are more children on the weekend trips as well. The midweek trips are slightly more serene. The ship appeals to people of all ages who know that they are receiving exceptional value for an all-inclusive weekend or midweek getaway. However, the shorter trips do bring on a generally younger crowd.
Carnival Paradise Dress Code
Dress is casual during the day. Evening-wear is typically resort casual, which encompasses everything from nice khakis and sundresses to dress shorts and jeans (no cut-offs). However, there's one formal night per cruise where you can go as laid back as a dress shirt and slacks or a skirt and blouse or as fancy as a tux or cocktail dress. No shorts, swim suits or tank tops are allowed in the restaurants in the evenings.
Carnival Paradise Gratuity
Carnival recommends $11.50 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $5.80 to dining room services, $3.70 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff.
After booking airfare for springbreak and a hotel and car rental, we looked into a cruise instead. It was 300.00 cheaper to cruise not including FOOD. So we just returned from the Carnival Paradise out of Tampa. It is a smaller ship which we tend ...continue
We booked this cruise as a birthday/late anniversary getaway for our family of four (14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son). Overall, this was a great trip and good value for our money.
This was our first experience ...continue
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Departed from Tampa-got to the port at, 12, dropped off our bags in our room by 12:30. The only negative experience was the person "in charge" of herding us to the counters---I saw a paddle waving, she did not, and she got nasty...until I pointed ...continue