5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our 45th cruise and many of them have been on Carnival over the years dating back to the 80’s. So, we are no new to cruising and not easily impressed. In fact, I’d say we are pretty critical, especially of some of ... Read More
This was our 45th cruise and many of them have been on Carnival over the years dating back to the 80’s. So, we are no new to cruising and not easily impressed. In fact, I’d say we are pretty critical, especially of some of the older ships. I sailed on the Paradise when it was one week old and a non-smoking ship back then. We booked this 4-day Cuba itinerary on the Paradise because it was easier for us to get to Tampa and also because of the price. (Less than 1k for both of us in an inside cabin) We’ve always wanted to visit Cuba and this was a great opportunity to do so. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the ship at about 12:30 for our 1PM boarding appointment window. There was a bit of a a line up, but I’d say we waited no more than about 20 mins. Check in was a breeze and within a few minutes, we were on board. As the rooms weren’t ready until 130, we had lunch on the Lido deck. It was a bit crowded, but we had no problem finding a table outside. I had a salad and my wife had a Guy’s Burger. Both were good! STATEROOM: We booked an inside guarantee and ended up with R18 on the Riviera Deck. We usually sail in a balcony cabin, but this was a short cruise and the stateroom wasn’t important to us. That said, I was really impressed with the size of the room as well as the amenities. The Samsung flat panel TV on the wall was HUGE for a cruise ship. Probably 42” maybe? The room was spacious as was the bathroom and the bed very comfortable. Much more room than some balcony cabins we’ve had on other ships. I was really impressed by how well the hallways were lit and how wide they were on Deck 4. Best of all the AC was incredible. We could get it very cold in the room which is how we like to sleep. The water pressure also was very good in the shower. Another plus! FOOD: We chose late dining and was assigned to a large table in the Destiny Dining. After reading the reviews, I was a little concerned about how the food would be. I am please to report, the food has been as good or better than any prior cruise we’ve ever been on, bar none. The options are endless and the quality good. I have how they have increased and stepped on the quality of the “healthy” offerings as I have been practicing a carb smart diet lately. I had no problem choosing carb smart options. We ate in just about all venues at one time or another over the four days. Service was phenomenal as you’d expect from a much higher priced cruise. CUBA Debarkation in Cuba was a bit of a challenge. However, this is not the fault of Carnival. There are limited customs/immigration officials, security checkpoints and money changes, so Carnival issues tickets with letters and calls up about 80 people at a time. If you arrive at the coffee bar early, you can get a lower letter and get off early. We were about an hour late docking, so some people didn’t get off the ship until 230 pm. We ignored the push for booking a ships excursion and booked a 7 hour tour with Cuba Outings. What a wonderful day we had. Our private guide for the two of us was Ernesto and we spent about 2-3 hours in a 1954 Plymouth convertible driving around the city with a stop at Fusterlandia, and Revolution Square. They we had lunch at a local restaurant recommended by Ernesto. He was quite surprised when we asked him to eat with us and offered to buy his lunch. I take it this is not the norm. It was so nice getting to know him and his English was better than mine! After lunch, we visited an “official” cigar and rum outlet and walked through Old Havana. There are options that may be less expensive, however, I highly recommend spending a little extra on Cuba Outings. Owner Gloria will take good care of you. On Saturday morning we left the ship early at around 8am which was a mistake. NOTHING was open. Cubans obviously sleep in. Around 915, we hired a horse and buggy for an hour or so for about 40.00 The driver took us to the flea market where he dropped us off and patiently waited for us for about an hour while we shopped. They we continued the tour of the old town where he returned us to the ship. All in all, I wish we had more time in Cuba. I am not sure what the rush to leave at 1200 was. It is such a short trip back to Tampa, I wish we could have stayed in Havana until 5-6 pm that evening. ENTERTAINMENT: We attended the Ships shows including the headliners as well as the two comedians on board. The shows were very well done in my opinion and provided a quality entertainment experience. You didn’t get the feeling that they save the best entertainers for the longer, more expensive cruises. We also attended a few of the comedy sessions. The late show was a bit raunchy, even for my taste, but all in all, good quality comedy. INTERNET: If I have any complaint, this is it. We booked the mid range internet package PRE-Cruise and I even upgraded to the premium package during the cruise. The Internet is SOOOO slow and intermittent. Surely Carnival can do a better job with this. Royal Caribbean must have better technology on their ships, because their connections are lightning fast compared to Carnival. We did maintain connection during most of the trip, including being in Havana while on the ship only. The connection, even at the premium rate was poor at best. DISEMBARKATION To be on the safe side, I booked two flights leaving Tampa with the option to cancel one without penalty. One was at 945am and the other at 130pm. We really hoped we could get off early enough to make the early flight. I stopped by the desk and got assigned to the “Early Flights” room. As fate would have it, we were off the ship and clear of customs by 8am. Even with a little traffic, we made it to the airport (via taxi) by 835 am with plenty of time to make our flight. SUMMARY: Without hesitation, we would sail on the Paradise again. And, we’d love to go back to Cuba. The food and service were some of the best every and we really appreciate the effort the crew puts into making it a great vacation. It’s funny because as we were leaving, there was a lady in front of us saying it was her worst cruise ever. Not sure why, but we didn’t have that experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
I chose Carnival Paradise for two reasons, they advertise gluten free diets and they were inexpensive to try out for a first time cruiser. My meals were always delicious but I felt limited on the offerings. By NO means did I ever go ... Read More
I chose Carnival Paradise for two reasons, they advertise gluten free diets and they were inexpensive to try out for a first time cruiser. My meals were always delicious but I felt limited on the offerings. By NO means did I ever go hungry! The waiters take your order for the next evening so that they will be able to properly prepare for your dietary needs. Staff was very knowledgable about celiac disease and very accommodating. I enjoyed my first cruise with Carnival, but now I'm looking for a larger ship due to the fact that our at sea days were not as busy as we would have liked them to be. I'm looking for adventure at sea and fun things to do while sailing. Movies, Broadway shows, interactive games, sports, anything great to pass the time while parting the blue waters other than the casino (not much of a gambler here). Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This cruise port is close to home. We are Platinum on Carnival and priority boarding is a great perk.The ship was refurbished earlier this year and the improvements were great. Added the Guy Burger and Blue Iguana on the Lido deck and the ... Read More
This cruise port is close to home. We are Platinum on Carnival and priority boarding is a great perk.The ship was refurbished earlier this year and the improvements were great. Added the Guy Burger and Blue Iguana on the Lido deck and the Elation dining room was beautiful. We have been on this ship a few times and I was very pleased with these changes. The Playlist Productions shows were also very good, and I really enjoyed the Punchliner Comedy Club. The Casino was hopping at night and there are some newer slot machines. Unfortunately, I did not hear of anyone getting any great returns on their time in the casino. There is a nice water park on the back of the ship (where there used to be a small pool). Now that there is only one pool, it was always packed when we were at sea. The Serenity area has not changed and it is lacking since it only has 2 small hot tubs. We had an inside cabin on Riviera deck near mid ship and it was comfortable and quiet. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Selected this cruise because of a group of family and friends were going; 18 people in total. I had been on the Carnival Pride in Jan 2017 and was not impressed but since so many people were going I decided to give it another try. I also ... Read More
Selected this cruise because of a group of family and friends were going; 18 people in total. I had been on the Carnival Pride in Jan 2017 and was not impressed but since so many people were going I decided to give it another try. I also cruised in Jan 2018 on the NCL Epic and my experience was the complete opposite of my Carnival experience; I loved it! The thing I noticed immediately upon boarding is how dated and tired the ship looked. It was supposed to have had a multi-million dollar refit a few months before but I did not see where they spent anywhere near that amount of money. Things noticed: 1. Carpet on interior stairs with the treads exposed that tripped many people on the stairs. 2. Metal ceiling in dining areas dented and dirty; many full of dirt and dust. 3. Stains on carpet in main walkways. 4. Incorrectly functioning elevators that would not move half the time you got on them. 5. Woodwork and railings that were gashed and gouged and instead of being repaired or replaced; were just given a fresh coat of thick paint that looked bad. Things I enjoyed: 1. The crowd and energy was amazing and the crew did a good job at getting them involved. 2. The entertainment was terrific; especially this guitar player Dariel that performed. He was excellent and my favorite part of the cruise. 3. The embarkation with the "Fast to the Fun" package was the fasted I have experienced. 4. Most bartenders were great; some average; one was downright rude. Some of the larger disappointments were: 1. Immediately upon boarding I noticed my oceanview cabin was very hot. I turned the ceiling control on the vent to max cold. Several hours later it still had not cooled off an was very hot and stuffy. Our cabin steward (who was great) even commented on how hot it was and to go talk to guest services. I had to leave the door to the cabin open to get some cool air from the hallway. I went to check out the cabins of several others in my party and all of their cabins were much cooler; as well as the hallway. After several hours of this I went to guest services to explain the situation. I was told the ship had just gotten underway and the air conditioning had just been turned on and it would take a few hours to cool down the cabin. I asked why the hallway and other cabins were so cool if that was the case and was told they could not answer that and to wait and few hours; check it again and come back if there was an issue still. Several hours later after dinner and the cabin was still as hot as it was upon boarding. I called guest services on the phone and informed them and asked them to come fix it while I was out for the evening. I come back to the cabin a couple of hours later to find the air still not fixed and a small circular fan sitting on the counter plugged in and running; aimed at the bed. All the fan was doing was blowing the hot air around. At this point I was really upset and went down to guest services to have them send a tech to fix the air. They sent someone while I was in the room that offered to take the vent cap and adjustment off altogether to try to increase flow to the cabin. I accepted and said would try it for the night. With the vent cap off and the fan running it was still to warm to sleep and ended up sweating all night. The next morning I complained to guest services again. I get a letter under my door that stated they tried to contact me about the cooling issue and had been unable to get a hold of me and asked me to come to guest services. I did again and stated it was still hot. Again there was no resolution. That night in the middle of the night the air broke all together. It was sweltering as there was no air flow at all. I again went down to guest services and complained. I was then told there was an outage that affected my cabin and they were making emergency repairs and it should be fixed in an hour. I said it had been an issue since I got on board. They said they would "do something" to make it up to me and to come back later. At no point did they offer to switch me to a different cabin. Later in the day I had a letter under the door asking me to again come to guest services. They offered me a dining room "steak selection upgrade" and a bottle of wine for the trouble. I stated the air still wasn't fixed and was told that is what they could do. I ended up giving the wine away since I don't drink it and the steak wasn't that great. I ended up not sleeping most of the cruise due to the cabin being so hot. Very poor customer service experience. 2. The debarkation process was terrible. I had purchased the "Faster to the Fun" package which entitles you to priority embarkation, tenders, customer service and debarkation. Since I had that package I had a letter under my door with instructions on what to do if you were taking you luggage off of the ship yourself. It stated to take you luggage to deck 9 lounge at the very back of the ship and wait for the ship to be cleared. My friend and I lugged 5 bags up 2 decks and all the way across the ship to the lounge. We were there 10 min when we were told to collect our bags and follow the staff. In this long line, we had to carry the 5 bags down 4 flights of stairs (no elevators) and all the way back across the ship. We actually passed our cabin on the trek back to disembark. So much for Priority service. That alone was enough to say "never again" to Carnival. 3. The food was average. The breakfast and lunch offerings were not impressive and there were not enough buffet lines to handle the crowd. Long wait times were common for food. There were staff portioning out the bacon and ham so if you wanted more than two slices; you would have to wait in the line again. The dinners in the dining room were good except for the BBQ Ribs that were terrible and I got a very under-cooked fillet. 4. The ship has one small swimming pool for almost two-thousand people. It was hot out and there was just no room in the pool which was wall-to-wall people. After a sub-par experience on the Carnival Pride and and even worse one on the Paradise; I will be sticking with NCL from now on for the simple fact that Carnival does not know what customer service is. My opinion is to pay a bit more and have a much better experience on another line. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
A wee bit wordy but a lot of info. Got off the Carnival Paradise yesterday. I’ve cruised in 8-10 Carnival ships including Europe. By far, this was the worst ship. Food was pretty bad, almost embarrassing since we had 1st time ... Read More
A wee bit wordy but a lot of info. Got off the Carnival Paradise yesterday. I’ve cruised in 8-10 Carnival ships including Europe. By far, this was the worst ship. Food was pretty bad, almost embarrassing since we had 1st time cruisers in our group. Pork chops, Mahi Mahi and steak were very chewy. Took several bites before you could actually swallow. Tough to cut even with a steak knife. I used to look forward to Lobster on formal nights but Carnival cut this out for 5-day or less cruises. Big mistake! Guys Burgers were awesome as always. My bed too was slightly lopsided so I slept on the other end. We had a choice of 1-2 cleanings a day. We chose 1. Room steward was great though we only saw him once during our entire cruise. My room was directly under the Galley. DON’T BOOK THESE ROOMS! Loud crashing/banging at all hours of the night/mornings. All our rooms (7th floor) had the same problem. We ALL had to wear ear plugs to sleep. Ship was dated and super small. Shows were mediocre. The Lead female singer needs a stronger voice. Main complaint – we made reservations for Chef’s Table before the cruise plus we booked 2 excursions thru Carnival for Cozumel. Got a Chef’s Table confirmation email for Day 1 of our cruise at 6pm. Day 1 - We ate light meals anticipating the excellent food at the Chef’s Table. Early afternoon, I called Guest Services as no one (6 adults/3 rooms) received our invitations. Supposedly we were “mistaken” and it was the next day. I told her we had the email that confirmed 9/5/18 at 6pm. I informed her we had evening plans in Cuba, we can’t go that day. She called me back and said it was the 2nd day of Cuba (9/7/18). We were leaving Cuba early that day. Day 3 - we all ate light meals again. I called that afternoon because no one received invites. They said we should get a letter soon. We FINALLY got the letters that our Chef’s Table was scheduled 9/8/18 at 6pm. What? We were supposed to be in Cozumel till 8:30pm! We weren’t getting off the ship till after 12 noon. Plus we had excursions previously booked thru Carnival bringing us back to the pier at 6:30pm, others near 8:30pm. I argued that we would get off the ship at 12-12:30pm, we have to return to the ship by 5pm, shower and be ready for Chef’s Table at 6pm! I snapped that we had booked our excursions thru Carnival and we would not return to the pier till 6:30pm, so they SHOULD have known this! I kept asking to speak to a manager and they would not transfer me. She finally said she would have a supervisor call me back. Later some guy (possibly Matri’d) called me to confirm we were cancelling. Before I could explain, he snapped at me that they were all booked for the entire cruise and practically hung up on me. Very rude guy. The same girl called me back later and said we didn’t have any excursions booked thru Carnival? What? 2 different rooms, 2 different families on 2 different computers yet our excursions “mysteriously” disappeared? Umm hmmm. Luckily we were able to rebook the same excursions. No apologies by anyone at Carnival, no call backs by any Supervisors, no attempt to make this right. Worst Carnival Ship and worst Customer Service! The 2 stars is only for Guys Hamburgers. They deserve 5 stars! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Sept. 5, 2018 Just returned from a cruise to Havana and Cozumel on Carnival Paradise and would like to pass along our views. Embarkation at Tampa was quick, painless and an improvement from years past. Living in the area we used Lyft ... Read More
Sept. 5, 2018 Just returned from a cruise to Havana and Cozumel on Carnival Paradise and would like to pass along our views. Embarkation at Tampa was quick, painless and an improvement from years past. Living in the area we used Lyft for drop off and pickup at the curb. Stateroom was small with a window and stool under desk, but otherwise plain. Food quality and service has suffered over the last 10 years. On the Paradise, since February, table cloths have been eliminated in favor of smudged wood tops. Only one night they were used. The buffet featured the same food as the dining room, but without the grilled selections. You can choose from a number unseasoned offerings. First night in the dining room was chaos appearing under staffed. It took 45 minutes to be served. Felt sorry for the girl covering our area. Guy’s hamburgers closes along with the Mexican offerings at 6PM. If you try to avoid the dining room the only choices are pizza or sandwiches. Enjoyed Havana on the overnight by making online reservations at 5 Sentidos Paladar six blocks from the dock. Great food with exceptional service. Next morning we had online reservations with Free Walking Tours. Had a 2 1/2 hour trek through the streets of old Havana by nice young lady fluent in English. She was a school teacher making $25/mo. when she decided to become a tour guide. In order to get the license she had marry someone in that area, once issued they got a divorce. They live on tips so be generous. Most have been to Cozumel and enjoyed water sports or a trip to the ruins. Standard stuff when you really just want to go to Cuba. The only entertainment were a solo guitar singer and with a band. There is no show. It maybe worthwhile to note that shore excursions and not necessary in spite of the active promotion. On the affidavit choose 'Support of Cuban People' and you're good to get off the ship. Lower your expectations for this ship, then lower them again. With this ship you must remember it's the destination, not the journey. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
This was my first time cruising with Carnival. My sister, who is a Carnival cruise VIP member, and myself booked a Cuba and Cozumel cruise. I want to give kudos to those areas that impressed me. I enjoyed Cuba and the Paradise booked ... Read More
This was my first time cruising with Carnival. My sister, who is a Carnival cruise VIP member, and myself booked a Cuba and Cozumel cruise. I want to give kudos to those areas that impressed me. I enjoyed Cuba and the Paradise booked excursion. I recommend the Local Flavors Excursion. The tour guide was excellent. I met a Guest Services Supervisor SANJA VUK who acted when we had issues with our stateroom. She showed concern and actually came to check our stateroom. Now those areas that did not impress me are: 1) Stateroom - we had E1. It was next to a pipe room which was very noisy and stank. 2) Guest Services - no answer to phone calls. 3) The flies and the food while in the Cuban port were horrible. 4) Elation Brunch - got a seat and waited over 40 minutes for service and left without eating. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We like to just get away sometime at a reasonable price and the 4 day trip from Tampa to Cozumel fits the bill. What has been increasingly negative was the lack of rule enforcement. There were ball caps, flip-flops and tee shirts in the ... Read More
We like to just get away sometime at a reasonable price and the 4 day trip from Tampa to Cozumel fits the bill. What has been increasingly negative was the lack of rule enforcement. There were ball caps, flip-flops and tee shirts in the restaurant and not a word was uttered to the transgressor. On Lido deck there were soaking wet shirtless and shoeless people dining which made it a disgusting experience for the law abiders. Once again, nothing was said. Additionally, the hallways thru the cabins were littered with plates, cups and utensils loaded with half-eaten food. In the fitness club, unaccompanied minors were permitted to enter because the folks at the desk were preoccupied with selling spa treatments. The unlimited drink program is another cause for concern as many younger cruisers cannot imbide sensibly and were seen literally bouncing off the walls. On the positive side, the entertainment was excellent with a very talented troupe of singers and dancers along with great sets and lighting. This was not enough to make up for all the other shortcomings, however. All in all, this trip will be out last on Carnival and we couldn't wait to get off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
This is my third cruise and we chose Carnival Paradise because of its two day stay in Havana. Cozumel Mexico and Grand Cayman were ok but Cuba is a must! Amazing beach in Grand Cayman, we went to Royal Palms beach club. Embarkation ... Read More
This is my third cruise and we chose Carnival Paradise because of its two day stay in Havana. Cozumel Mexico and Grand Cayman were ok but Cuba is a must! Amazing beach in Grand Cayman, we went to Royal Palms beach club. Embarkation went very smooth, and we didn't make any long lines. Lines were kind of long to disembark though. We had an interior cabin for 4 people with 2 pull down beds which worked perfect for my kids. Service was excellent. The cabin was cleaned in the morning and serviced again in the evening when we were out to dinner. We were assigned to Your Time Dining and the most we had to wait for a table was 15-20 minutes. Food was excellent at the restaurant, but not too many choices at the buffet. The kids enjoyed the kids club, it had a variety of activities while we spent some time on the Serenity adult deck and never had trouble finding a chair. Best part of the cruise was its overnight stay in Havana. My tour guide Duramis (duramis@nauta.cu) made our two day stay perfect and took us to all the most see spots in Havana. We did a walking tour and a tour in a convertible car. She is full of knowledge on Cuba's history and culture. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I booked this 8-day Carnival Journeys cruise a month before departure! That is not my usual way of planning, but Cuba was so intriguing and the price for a basic cabin for my husband and me so reasonable, I convinced him to go even though ... Read More
I booked this 8-day Carnival Journeys cruise a month before departure! That is not my usual way of planning, but Cuba was so intriguing and the price for a basic cabin for my husband and me so reasonable, I convinced him to go even though we had last cruised in April. We have cruised Carnival on many different ships and enjoyed them all in varying degrees, but the smaller, older Paradise shined, mainly because of the service by the crew and the itinerary. Both were exceptional. We flew from Charlotte to Tampa the day before the cruise. We spent the night at the Marriott Waterside on the vibrant Tampa Riverwalk and enjoyed the water taxi tour, strolling the riverwalk, and having dinner at Four Green Fields. After a buffet breakfast at the hotel the next day, we caught a shuttle for the short ride to the pier. Embarkation was quick and easy. We do have priority boarding as a loyalty perk, but this was the fastest we have ever boarded a ship. This was our first cruise from Tampa and every person in the check-in process had a smile for us. Once onboard, we explored the ship and met some new friends until cabins were ready. I had chosen R42, one of the few cabins available to choose due to our late booking. I knew it would be an inside cabin on the bottom deck forward. It was small but there was adequate hanging storage and a shelving unit to augment the drawer space. It had been freshly updated during dry dock. It had a large, flat screen tv and a refrigerator. The only part that felt too small was the bathroom and its limited storage. I was glad to have a hanging toiletry bag that helped with storage. The cabin proved to be a good choice as it was quiet, well-serviced by our steward Wayan, convenient to the Your Time dining room, and convenient to the debarkation area for two of the ports, including Cuba. Seas were calm and we felt little movement the entire cruise. The ship was easy to navigate and seemed in good working order except for some occasional elevator issues. The carpeting looked new and the decorating as cheerful and colorful as most Carnival ships. The Pixels Gallery had been upgraded to choose photo choices on provided tablets rather than searching rows and rows of printed photos. The Normandie Lounge had good seating and good viewing of the stage, especially on the lower level. The smaller lounge, Queen Mary Lounge, had good seating and adequate space for the comedians and guest lecturers. There was only one pool, so seating around it was crowded, but there were plenty of deck chairs on multiple decks. The Serenity area was small and had two hot tubs but no pool. We decided to try Your Time Dining one more time, even though, in our opinion, the service in that dining option had declined on four previous CCL cruises. The service on Paradise was much better. We only had to wait with a pager one time the entire cruise, and that was about 5 minutes on the first elegant night. We were always seated at a requested table for two. We had a variety of wait staff in the Elation dining room and all were attentive, accurate with our orders, smiling, and eager to please. The food was good and the choices varied. We especially enjoyed the elegant night lobster tail and shrimp, and the Beef Wellington. We ate dinner in the main dining room every evening, and ate breakfast and lunch on Lido off the buffet on days we were on the ship, except for Sea Day Brunch. We ordered Reuben sandwiches from room service one time when we returned from an excursion mid afternoon and had not eaten lunch. The order arrived in less than 15 minutes. We only saw one show in the main lounge, Amor Cubano, an outstanding performance that heightened the anticipation of our Havana port days. We also enjoyed the music of the Latin Connection in the Leonardo Lounge and the Aquaholics in the promenade across from the United States Bar. We saw comedians Seth Buchwald and Lowell Sanders and listened to karaoke one evening. We did not play in the casino or use the spa. We found Cruise Director Erin to be vivacious and personable when hosting the Motown Music Trivia Party. We enjoyed every port but Havana was unique and our favorite. We had been to Cozumel before, but Grand Cayman and Havana were new for us. In Cozumel we took a small group Carnival catamaran snorkel excursion with lunch and drinks. We enjoyed it as the sailboat was beautiful, the people friendly, and the lunch good. There were two Carnival ships in port and we were surprised to meet people from both ships on the excursion. That was a first for us. The fish and coral were not as plentiful or colorful as other places we have snorkeled, but I did get some pictures and even photographed scuba divers below me during the snorkel, which was also a first! In Grand Cayman we also took a small group boat excursion through Captain Marvin’s. We had originally booked and paid online through Shore Excursion’s Group and were scheduled to go with Captain Bryan, but once onshore, the representative walked us to Captain Marvin’s office because of a boat problem and took care of the expenses. We traveled by van to the boat with two families staying on the island. Only six adults, including us, four children, and three crew members were on this tour. Captain Marvin’s crew was exceptional and wonderful with the children. We snorkeled on the Barrier Reef, visited Stingray City Sandbar, where we stood in three feet of water to interact with the huge stingrays, and also stopped at Starfish Point. It was an excellent tour, and we enjoyed the varied stops in lieu of drinks and lunch. One thing we did notice in both Cozumel and Grand Cayman was the current was much stronger than in other places we have snorkeled. The overnight in Havana was the highlight of the cruise. The ship docked right in the city near the Old Town. Through the advice of cruise friends who had already experienced Cuba, we booked small private tours with local companies not affiliated with the Cuban government and which met US requirements. We used Cubaoutings for our first day and toured Havana. The second day we used Cuba Among Cubans to travel to Vinales. Both were excellent and private at reasonable costs. We started the first day with a long wait and snappy Cuban officials getting our visas processed and money exchanged at the port. It was the only place we encountered unfriendly Cubans! The young women in their super short uniforms and fishnet stockings did not look like government officials, but we never saw a smile or greeting! Carnival had no control over this process, so we waited patiently for clearance. Meanwhile, Mary, of Cubaoutings, also waited patiently for us to arrive at the meeting point in the square across the street. We were so relieved she was still there! She assured us it happenened frequently. We quickly walked a couple of blocks to a vintage green Plymouth convertible, where our driver was waiting. We drove through the city to Fusterlandia, where we enjoyed the tile work folk art. Mary explained points of interest and talked about Cuban life. We lunched in a local restaurant then walked the walking portion of the tour—the four main squares and the hotel that Hemingway frequented. We enjoyed the street musicians and the many sculptures and monuments. The architecture of Old Havana was lovely and the Spanish influence evident. The beautiful cathedral was a favorite stop. We took battery-powered necklace fans to be prepared for the heat and humidity and were glad to have them! The five hours on the tour was a good length considering the heat. After dinner onboard the Paradise, we walked on the Malecon and enjoyed the port area at night when it was much cooler. The second day was much easier to get through security. Adrian, our Cuba Among Cubans guide, also met us in the square across the street, and also directed us a few blocks to meet our car. We walked a slightly different route, so we saw more of the city. Our driver was waiting in a beautifully restored, air conditioned 1954 Plymouth hardtop for our two-and-a-half hour drive to Vinales Valley. Adrian made the drive memorable with his commentary on Cuban history and Cuban life today. The countryside was lovely and we enjoyed seeing the vintage cars, horses and carts, and oxen. My husband even got to ride a bull (broken to ride) at one stop! The Cuban farmers we met at the tobacco farm explained and demonstrated the process of making cigars and offered visitors a sample. Part was in English and part in Spanish, but Adrian translated well and even took videos and pictures on his phone of the cigar-making process that he emailed us along with several other videos and other still photos from our day. This was a first from a tour guide! We enjoyed a delicious lunch in a farmstead restaurant and were invited by the owner to come into her home to see where she lived. We also saw a beautiful mural on the side of a mountain depicting the evolution of the Cuban people. The tour lasted from 8 am until 6:30 pm when we were dropped off at the port. We felt we had spent our time in the best possible way. Debarkation was smooth and the porter helpful. He led us across the street to secure a shuttle for transfer to the airport. Our cruise aboard the Carnival Paradise was well beyond our expectations! That is why this is my first review since we began cruising in 2001! The only reason we may not cruise to Cuba again is because there are so many beautiful places to cruise in this world. Our plan is to see as much as we can for as long as we can! Read Less
Carnival Paradise Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.9
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.3
Service 4.5 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.2

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