Carnival Paradise Entertainment
Carnival's entertainment options are always top-notch, and Paradise is no exception. The ship's lounges and bars really distinguish the ship, with enough active and festive places to enjoy group conviviality and enough quiet spaces to enjoy conversation. The America Bar, with blown-glass stars and stripes, is the ship's piano bar, which gets loud and chummy later in the evening, but it's a great pre-dinner meeting spot for those dining in the Ecstasy dining room. The Rotterdam Bar tends to be a quiet spot for wine before and liqueurs after dining in the Destiny restaurant. The African themed Rex disco stays open until the wee hours to entertain carefree revelers, and its lion-head symbol's eyes flash with the beat.
The United States Bar, located in the promenade just outside the casino, has a funny little stage across from it, in which a lone country-western singer serenades the crowd with his guitar.
And if hokey karaoke is your thing, you'll find it in the Queen Mary Lounge, located aft along the Promenade. The same venue also hosts the comedy show, presented twice: The earlier one is G-rated for families; the midnight show is definitely adults-only fare.
Our favorite is the Paradise Bar, located in the atrium, with its light filtering through the glass panels above. A classical trio plays in the evenings, and a glass of wine here, accompanied by the strains of Mozart or Vivaldi and the rosy glow of the setting sun, provides a relaxing break between a busy day and the promise of an active evening.
The production shows in the main theater, Normandie Lounge, are great fun and professionally presented. The theater itself, done in rust and gold with blue accents, has a fairly level lower floor, with more stadium-like seating in the upper level, where you can choose from regular seating on the sides or round banquettes in the center. The full casino offers slots and 12 tables, all of which were going strong during our day at sea and in the evenings.
Daytime activities are equally extensive, with the usual Carnival "Fun Ship" offerings around the main pool games (including, of course, the hairy chest contest), and trivia contests, bingo and art auctions in venues all over the ship. The arcade on Deck 9 is open day and night for cruisers of all ages. Passengers interested in a behind-the-scenes tour of a cruise ship can pay $55 for the once-a-cruise, nearly three-hour Behind the Fun Tour, which takes a limited number of participants to visit the bridge, engine control room, galley, staff dining areas and laundry room. For the price, tour participants receive special gifts, including a Behind the Fun baseball cap and commemorative photo.
With such short cruises, Paradise has limited shore excursion offerings, but the selection on our cruise was reasonably priced ranging from $22 per person for a shopping tour to $85 for a jeep adventure tour and $146 for golf play at a local resort.
Carnival Paradise Public Rooms
Joe Farcus, Carnival's long-time designer, chose "Ships of the World" as the theme for Paradise. He was feeling sentimental about this being the last of the Fantasy line, so he infused the public spaces with nostalgia, too -- hence rooms like the Normandie Lounge, the Queen Mary Lounge, the America Bar and the Rotterdam Lounge. He tipped his hat to his employer by naming the indoor walkway the Carnival Boulevard and the two dining rooms, Destiny and Ecstasy, after Carnival ships.
The six-deck-high atrium is cozy and comfortable, with Italian floral blown-glass panels and large replicas of enameled Faberge eggs on pillars. The turquoise eggs, about a foot tall, are lighted from within and are found in the elevator lobbies throughout the ship, adding a further touch of nostalgic elegance.
One of the most interesting spots onboard is the Blue Riband Library on Deck 8, filled with memorabilia from ocean liners of the past. The Blue Riband was a symbol, in the 1800's and early 1900's, of the fastest ship at sea, and could only be flown by one ship at a time, so as each new ship was built, the Riband changed hands. The library itself is a charming room, a lovely place to sit quietly or to meet with friends for a game of cards -- though, consistent with other Carnival ships, the book selection is minimal and the glass cases remained locked throughout our cruise.
Deck 8 is also home to many of the ship's shops, selling sundries, duty-free items and jewelry. Upstairs on Deck 9 is the "items under $10" store and Formalities for tux rentals, as well as the photo gallery and shop. The window banquettes and seats along Carnival Boulevard on this deck allow guests to sit quietly and watch the goings-on without participating, or to enjoy a coffee and pastry from the Ile de France Cafe.
The ship's Internet center is located on the bottom level of the atrium on Deck 7, adjacent to the Paradise Bar. There are several stations on high counters with barstool-like chairs. The ship is also equipped for wireless access. Internet packages range from $24 for 60 minutes of Internet usage, $16.50 for 30 minutes or 75 cents if you pay as you go. Also on Deck 7 are the guest services and shore excursions desks, as well as the art gallery that seems to be located in a hallway to nowhere.
Self-service Laundromats can be found on Deck 7 forward and Deck 6 mid-ship. An infirmary is located on Deck 3.
Carnival Paradise Spa & Fitness
Paradise's extensive gym facility is located forward and overlooking the ship's bow. Not too over-the-top New Age-y, but just soothing enough to feel contemporary, the space uses lots of natural materials and neutral colors. Two trainers run the free health seminars and offer boot camp packages (metabolic testing and fitness instruction) for $69 as well as Pilates, yoga and spinning classes for $12 a class. Free classes such as stretching and abs workouts are also on offer.
The Nautica Spa and salon services are run by Steiner of London and offer a wide array of treatments from massages to facials. Other treatments include body wraps, ionithermie weight loss treatments, and new bamboo and Thai poultice massages in smallish medicinal-looking treatment rooms. Carnival also offers kids and teen spa menus, featuring mother-daughter manicures, ice cream "flavored" treatments and acne attack facials. The men's and women's locker rooms each have sauna and steam rooms for complimentary use.
There are two adult pools; the Lido pool has one of Carnival's signature twisty slides and is the more active and loud of the two. It's flanked by two hot tubs. The smaller aft pool on Deck 11 is quiet and rarely crowded, and features a gigantic deck apron for sunning, one hot tub and a children's pool.
Hidden away aft on Deck 9 is the adults-only Serenity sun deck. It's accessed only through the Queen Mary Lounge or down a set of stairs from the Paris Restaurant's aft outdoor seating areas. Here, adults can relax in the two hot tubs or sunbathe on padded loungers that are a step up from the Lido's deck chairs.
For the sporty set, there's a jogging track on Deck 13 (11 laps equals a mile), as well as a nine-hole mini-golf course. Shuffleboard courts, a basketball hoop and Ping-Pong tables can be found on Deck 11.