245 Carnival Paradise Cruise Reviews

Before going on this cruise I read some poor reviews of the ship. I shouldn't have believed a word.... Yes, the Paradise is a smaller ship but therefore less people, simple and wonderful. Download the Carnival Hub App, and ... Read More
Before going on this cruise I read some poor reviews of the ship. I shouldn't have believed a word.... Yes, the Paradise is a smaller ship but therefore less people, simple and wonderful. Download the Carnival Hub App, and purchase the 5$ (flat rate, one time fee) to keep in touch with other passengers and know what's happening on board. Every little thing from dining, events, map, etc, is listed here on the app. It doesn't look like much until you get on board and connect to ship's WiFI. You DO NOT need to purchase the WiFi plan to use this app or messenger feature. We had early dining arrangements meaning less waiting and more time for after dinner events and shows. The food was, fantastic! I chose at least 3-4 appetizers per night to take advantage of the culinary diversity. Breakfast options are buffet style or the taco bar (excellent). Or, if you'd rather, the Elation Dining room with waitstaff. No complaints with either. Of course, if you wait for busy dining times you will wait longer for buffet. I read some upsetting review about the lack of late night food. Well, I found I had plenty of options. The Lido deck offers late night snacks and after 2300 a pizza station. How much can you eat in a day, anyway? We did not use the drink package, if I booked again I WOULD purchase this... expenses do add up, however I did not think the prices per drink were too high - about what I would expect to pay in a restaurant or bar. The catch is that BOTH people in the room must purchase. Entertainment was what I expected. Shows, singing, dancing, comedy, live music, piano bar, shopping, bingo, casino, sports, slide, game room. Literally something for everyone at all hours of the day. The pool was usually crowded because it's small. Maybe, if you want to be on a cruise ship just to sit and drink at the pool, don't cruise this ship? Service, likewise was expected. I felt pampered, welcome and taken care of at all times. Cabin was fine. We were on deck 6, forward. I was with another person each with a twin bed, on opposite side of room so we had plenty of space. If you were in a room with another person ("queen" sized bed) it would have been more cramped, but we didn't spend much time in the room. Our destinations were Key West and Havana, Cuba. We did the Hop On Hop Off bus, let us explore at our own pace. I think the snorkeling would have been fun, too. Cuba was about what I expected. This isn't the glamorous version of the country in the 50's. Remember that tourism is new to Cuba from USA. The events and guides are government sponsored. The streets you will go on are what the government wants you to see. We went on Fort Tour; I was satisfied with the excursion. We came back about 1700, had dinner on the boat and went back out. Yes, getting off the boat was a process. Yes, you wait to get through customs. Yes, you wait in lines to board the buses. I heard a lot of complaints about the wait and crowds.... what did you expect??? A boat of 3000 people debarking into a small port will take time! I strongly encourage guests to do some research on the country & city beforehand. Review your history and understand the United State's history Cuba. I enjoyed the tour but would not say I felt "welcomed" in Cuba. The citizens I saw seemed busy and struggling to keep up with the crowds of people cramming into their shops and small streets. Remember, you are not going to become culturally immersed in a day. You are there as a tourist, and as such, they expect you to spend money! All in all, this was a fantastic cruise. I enjoyed every moment. The cruise director worked tirelessly bringing personality and a lot of FUN into each event and activity!! I would absolutely go again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We decided to cruise on Carnival Paradise due to it being the best itinerary for our travel date. The ship just came out of dry dock & refurbishment in March 2018. They added Waterworks, Guys Burgers, shopping options like Pandora ... Read More
We decided to cruise on Carnival Paradise due to it being the best itinerary for our travel date. The ship just came out of dry dock & refurbishment in March 2018. They added Waterworks, Guys Burgers, shopping options like Pandora & renovated all rooms. We were not first time cruisers but this was our first time on Carnival. As previous Disney cruisers it’s hard for any other cruise like to compare but I can say we were pleasantly surprised. We traveled with our 2 sons ages 13 & 19. We booked a balcony room. The room was clean & balcony was new. The entertainment was good. The comedians did PG shows in addition to adult shows which worked out well for my family & the nighttime musical performances we good also but it’s not Disney & trying to compare the too is like comparing apples & oranges. Simply you can’t compare the 2. Food on carnival is good & I recommend your time dining. It worked great for us. If you have children, plan on staying at the water slides as the pool area is the center of the party for the adults. If you do like smoke, stay out of the casino area. Circle C was great for our 13 year old. There wasn’t as much for the 19 year old just because he’s too old to hang in the teen club & too young to enjoy the night club but he still had a great time. We loved the excursions we booked. We highly recommend beginner scuba in Grand Cayman & the dolphin swim & Xplor Park in Cozumel. If you do Xplor know that it takes the whole time your there so no time to shop or check out Cozumel but if you like zip lining this is the place to go. Also the cruise director Leon was great. All in all one of our best family vacations & my husband & I look forward to cruising without the kids on Carnival in the future. Also book faster to the fun. It’s worth it for debarkation! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was a family vacation. The views were breath taking. It was the first vacation I ever had that I didn't have to clean or cook. So many types of food to choose from and all was delicious. The only negative thing I can think to ... Read More
This was a family vacation. The views were breath taking. It was the first vacation I ever had that I didn't have to clean or cook. So many types of food to choose from and all was delicious. The only negative thing I can think to say is that there is only 1 swimming pool and it is way to small for the thousands of people on board. All else was good! Rolando is the best server you have on staff! Excursions were well planned. Perfect royal blue water near cozemel and grand cayman islands. Our daughter celebrated her birthday on board and the cakes that I ordered from the fun shop were the best I had ever tasted. We were very blessed to have good weather for most of the cruise. Just sit back and take it all in or sleep the day away. Cruise director does a fabulous job planning all events. Thank you! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was our first ever Carnival cruise, and we got really lucky, because the Carnival Paradise had just come out of dry dock/major refurbishment/upgrade shortly before our cruise on April 23. (Dry dock was Feb/Mar, I believe). Since we ... Read More
This was our first ever Carnival cruise, and we got really lucky, because the Carnival Paradise had just come out of dry dock/major refurbishment/upgrade shortly before our cruise on April 23. (Dry dock was Feb/Mar, I believe). Since we had never sailed on this ship before, I can't say how it used to be, but we were very pleasantly surprised with our entire cruise and the accommodations! Our cabin (U49) appeared to be completely new (except for the oceanview window, which, as another reviewer pointed out, is really pretty old/dirty, with lots of caulk marks) - new carpet, new built in closet structure, new bedding and linens, new artwork, new (large!) TV, even appeared to be entirely new bathroom fixtures, lighting, etc. To note, the mirror above the desk has lighting entirely around it (very flattering!) and there are several USB charging ports - at least 4, I believe. The built in closets (2) are big enough to each hold a large suitcase (so no need to store under the bed). I wish there were more drawers - really only 2 usable drawers down near the floor, right by the door. But, there are shelves, instead, and lots of hanging space in both closets. When we arrived, our cabin steward had 3 blue pool towels in our room for us. When we used them (especially off the ship) we simply took the wet ones up to deck 10/Lido deck and exchanged for fresh towels prior to going back to the cabin, so we always had clean blue pool towels in the cabin. Throughout the ship, we thought it appeared that all of the public spaces were in great condition (not sure which were new vs. just well taken care of). It appeared to us that much of the carpet throughout the ship was new, for example. The main pool and at least one of the whirlpool tubs at the main pool were new. To us, it didn't appear that the whirlpools in the Serenity/adults only area (no pool here, just 2 whirlpools) were not new, but also didn't appear to need replacement. We enjoyed both the Guy Fieri's burger joint and Blue Iguana Cantina on the Lido Deck by the pool for lunch more than once - the burritos at Blue Iguana were especially good. All of these foods are made to order. We may have just hit them right, but we never had to wait in line long when we were there. We also found (on about day 3) the omelette station in the Lido/Paris buffet. This was awesome, and the man who made the omelettes - Percival - was awesome - always with a smile on his face, and a great attitude for "his guests"! Again when we ate either breakfast or lunch in the buffet, we never had a problem finding a table and never had to wait long in any of the buffet lines. NOTE: the Serenity/adult only deck (no pool here, just whirlpools and really nice CUSHIONED lounge chairs) is a bit tricky to find at the back/aft of the ship. You can get to it either by walking through the Queen Mary Lounge or by going through the Lido/Paris buffet and exiting out the back door on the left (next to the bar inside the buffet!!) and walking down one flight of stairs. The Serenity area does have bar service, and also provides yellow towels for your use - you just have to sign them out and sign them back in when you return them. For the first time on a cruise, we selected the 6 pm assigned dining room (normally we do "my time dining". Although we were traveling as a couple, we were assigned a table with 2 other couples, which worked out fine for us. We did notice that, especially after the first night, the main dining room was definitely NOT full at the 6 pm seating. Also, 3 out of the 5 nights, the waiters did some dancing and singing around the dining room around dessert time! Very fun and entertaining. We were very impressed with our server, I Ketut, who asked our first names on night 1, and addressed us by our names every night thereafter. He also got to know what everyone drank with dinner, who liked pepper seasoning, etc., etc. We liked him very much, and that personal touch added by addressing us by our first names. We thought the entertainment onboard was really excellent. The shows in the main theater 4 out of the 5 nights featured a cast of only 7 singers/dancers, but they put on 2 really high energy, very creative shows each of the 4 nights, and each show featured many costume changes. The shows included an Epic Rock show on the last night; an outstanding 80's themed show one night; and a tribute to Cuba/Latin music called Amor Cubano one night. Again, these performers worked really hard, and we thought they were very talented! I wish we would have seen both performances of the 80's show - it was that good! Another of our favorites as far as entertainment was the Kraken band perfoming hits from the Decades - almost every night (except night 4). They were outstanding; and played lots of music to dance to. The only drawback is that their stage was located not far from the casino, which meant it was a bit smoky. We also enjoyed the piano bar/sing a long in the evening, although considering this lounge is right off of the atrium (deck 8, I think), the music from the atrium on some of the nights really interfered with his music on some of the nights. There were also two separate solo guitar performers - sometimes in the atrium, sometimes up on the pool deck. Both were good. There was a Latin band that was in one of the clubs almost every night, and there was also Karaoke several times while we were on board. And, there were 2 DJ's on board, I think - sometimes at the pool, sometimes in one of the clubs. I would say that the entertainment on night 4 of the cruise was a bit sparse, and there was an afternoon or two (probably the 2 days in a row that we were in ports) where there wasn't any musical entertainment scheduled. Since we didn't spend full days onshore, that meant things on board were a little bit quiet until after dinner/until the evening theater show. But, overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the entertainment. I know there were also 2 comedians who did several shows - we didn't see them, but people we ate with said they were both good. We arrived a little earlier than our 1:30-2:00 scheduled embarking time - maybe around 1pm, and had only a short wait to get through security and get checked in, then walked right on the ship and into our cabin (cabins are ready by 1:30). When we arrived back in Tampa on Saturday morning, we had chosen to check our bags, so we didn't "walk off" the ship - but it appeared that many passengers did. Honestly, for this size ship, which is relatively small, it seemed like the people who had chosen walk off had quite a challenge, because when we walked downstairs to wait to be called, the elevators were crammed full of guests with their luggage. Once we were called into the terminal (you pick up your own luggage tags the day before - so get there early in the day, so you can choose your departure time) - and we got the first set of tags (#5 were the first tags available) we easily found our bags - again, there were apparently not many that were checked the night before. We had to wait maybe 20 minutes +/- to get through customs, and then we were off to pick up our car. I would say we were at our car by 9:15 am or so... Again, we were genuinely pleasantly surprised with our first Carnival cruise, and would definitely consider booking another one! Go and enjoy Paradise with Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We couldn't of asked for a more perfect vacation. Being first time cruisers we had no idea what to expect. We sailed out of Tampa, the check-in process in Tampa was very smooth. Traveling with 3 teenagers we made a point when ... Read More
We couldn't of asked for a more perfect vacation. Being first time cruisers we had no idea what to expect. We sailed out of Tampa, the check-in process in Tampa was very smooth. Traveling with 3 teenagers we made a point when we got on the ship, we took time to explore and to get to know the ship. We wanted to make sure all the kids got familiar how to find where you were. We also paid the $5 each to be able to send messages through the Carnival HUB. It was well worth the $5 to use that feature. We used the Carnival HUB app all the time to look at the "What's Going On" feature also. Some of the things we loved about the ship; the two new restaurant's Guy's Burger and the Cantina. The food was awesome and there usually wasn't a long line because they were very fast at servicing the guests. The Cruise Director Jaime was very upbeat and kept everything entertaining. We loved the nightly shows, especially the 80's rock show. The kids loved the mini-golf, Karaoke and all the activities they had on the pool deck. Things we didn't like, which wasn't a lot. We weren't fond of the comedian on-board. We actually left shortly after he started. We didn't think he was very funny. The pool gets crowded but we made sure we got up in time to get a good spot to sun bathe. Also, the elevator's took forever. We chose the stairs a lot, so we definitely got our steps in. Like I said previously, we sailed with 3 teenagers. We booked an inside state room. I was nervous about booking just one room but other's told me that you are never in your room. Well I'm glad I took that advise. The room wasn't that big but we had plenty of room. There was one queen size bed with a bunk above and then a smaller bed at the end of the queen with another bunk. We made it work and were happy with our decision. We sailed to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We loved Grand Cayman. We did the snorkeling with sting rays excursion. It was a blast. We booked with a private company and they were great. They also took us snorkeling and to dive for starfish. We were not a fan of Cozumel. We booked an all-inclusive day at a resort. It cost $25 by taxi to get to the resort and when we got there the resort really wasn't what it was hyped up to be. Everything cost extra. When we went to leave we were going to share a taxi with another group. They charged us double because we had more people. We did some shopping or should I say tried. We were getting pulled in every directions by the locals. I didn't like that especially when I had three teenagers that got nervous when people were trying to get us in their shops. Final note, even though the Paradise is an older ship for first time cruisers we couldn't tell. We had a great time and it was well worth the money. We would cruise again on the Paradise and/or another Carnival ship. Food was good, staff was great and our experience was unforgettable. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Myself and a group of friends cruised together the overall experience was pretty awesome! Entertainment was on point the entire staff is friendly!! The embarkation was the only problem, checking into the ship was bit of a pain, I feel it ... Read More
Myself and a group of friends cruised together the overall experience was pretty awesome! Entertainment was on point the entire staff is friendly!! The embarkation was the only problem, checking into the ship was bit of a pain, I feel it could have ran more smoothly had they been more organized. The stateroom had a strange smell to the bathroom, the food was pretty good,guys burger joint is amazing the bartenders are simply amazing specifically "Delveroy" from Jamaica and "Gede" from Indonesia was awesome they were very attentive and are hilarious. They made our trips to the bar amazing everytime. as well the nightlife. It is amazing the cruise director Leon is a breath of fresh air! He gets the crowd going and he's very friendly.The mega deck party at night was awesome there was line dancing, giveaways. Karaoke was a good time.Overall we had an awesome time. We would definitely cruise with Paradise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We like sailing from Tampa because it is close to us. We have been on the Paradise before and we loved the upgrades. The Guy Fieri hamburgers were delicious! We also loved the BlueIguana Cantina. It has a great selection on tacos, ... Read More
We like sailing from Tampa because it is close to us. We have been on the Paradise before and we loved the upgrades. The Guy Fieri hamburgers were delicious! We also loved the BlueIguana Cantina. It has a great selection on tacos, burritos, taco salads and a big toppings and salsa bar. What impressed me the most about the cruise was the live 70s/80s rock show! It started with someone playing the electric guitar, but then they had incredible singers, dancers and visual effects that were just awesome! It is a must see! They also had an 80s show was very upbeat and better than past shows. Comedian was great too! It's nice that they offer several different shows with a different routine each time. Cabins were redone and really liked the beach murals in the hall. Normally we eat breakfast and lunch at the buffet. But this time, we did the sea day brunch in the dining room and it was awesome! They offer the brunch on days when you not in port. We also did a regular breakfast in the dining room when we docked at Cozumel and it was also great! We had early dining and the service was excellent! The main entrees were good, but I agree that they could still be better. They have a salmon and a flank steak that you could order any night and they had prime rib on the formal night. The tiramisu and chocolate melting cake are excellent! We had a large group and really liked the Carnival HUB app. It's a way to chat to other guests. Ours worked well, but I heard from others that they had problems using it. The pool does get crowded. It would be nice to have one on the serenity deck, but they have 2 hot hubs instead. Boarding was really fast and easy. Getting off the ship took much longer. We normally take our luggage off but this time we chose the relaxed way to leave the ship and had them take the luggage. We didn't mind spending the extra time on the lido deck, but once we got off the ship, there was a long time to go through customs. After we stood in line for a half hour, we realized that you can pay a porter to take your luggage through the custom line that's much shorter than the line without the porter. I know larger ships have more things to do and maybe better food, but I still enjoy sailing on these smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We went on this Cruise because the ship was just out of dry dock. We decided to try Carnival again ( we went on the Glory Carnival 2014). Our expectations were very low & we were surprised to see how beautiful & clean the ship was. ... Read More
We went on this Cruise because the ship was just out of dry dock. We decided to try Carnival again ( we went on the Glory Carnival 2014). Our expectations were very low & we were surprised to see how beautiful & clean the ship was. The staff everywhere were very helpful, pleasant & always there to help. TIPS: We had the Faster to the Fun- did get you on fast but our luggage wasn’t at the cabin on time. It did also help with disembarkment! We also had the “eat anytime” the lines were very long! ( FTTF) doesn’t work for restaurants on this ship! (Next cruise we’ll do a regular time slot) Do get the drink package & when at dinner ask for your bottle of water for your room or they charge you if you use the bottles in your room. Tell your room steward you want your room done twice a day & ask for a bucket of ice for your water.(we tipped him in the beginning of the cruise) He did a wonderful job! We also always bring singles with us! We tip after our drinks are served & you will see a difference in how you are treated. (This is on all cruise ships) Don’t go on carnival for great food! The food is ok. Nice they put the two new eateries on board. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
I chose this cruise because of its very low price and I wanted to go to Grand Cayman. I was expecting an old, tired ship because the price was so low. Boy was I surprised! Embarkation was smooth and easy; there were no lines, and I ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of its very low price and I wanted to go to Grand Cayman. I was expecting an old, tired ship because the price was so low. Boy was I surprised! Embarkation was smooth and easy; there were no lines, and I heard this same thing from several folks who showed up at different times. The ship is 20 years old and in a few spots that is apparent, but all of the cabins and hallways are brand new after the refurb. They are NICE. And the Lido Deck is clearly updated, including a drink and breakfast station outside that I think is a brilliant idea. Dining is great, just like all other Carnival cruises I have been on. And, again, there have been updates to the dining rooms. Entertainment is fun and varied, as is usual with Carnival. My room attendant was the best one I've ever had in 21 cruises :) I did Isla Pasion at Cozumel and loved it. I went to Royal Palms in Grand Cayman and loved it, but I wished we had another hour or two in Grand Cayman. I traveled alone, and I'd do it again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
I cruise on this ship twice a year out of Tampa. This was our first once since the dry dock. All of the cabins I saw were completely redone. Same size, just everything replaced. (Expect for the windows, which look even worse in comparison ... Read More
I cruise on this ship twice a year out of Tampa. This was our first once since the dry dock. All of the cabins I saw were completely redone. Same size, just everything replaced. (Expect for the windows, which look even worse in comparison to the sparkling new interiors...cloudy, scratched up and with a decade's worth of caulk.) We were in Empress 121, exterior w/ a window. Other than rooms, the updated areas included some new bar stool covers and redecorated Destiny dining room. The two pool deck bars have been replaced with a rum bar and a tequila bar, both with extended shade awnings and both are now non-smoking. In fact, it seemed the only places you could smoke were the casino, part of the casino bar and a small area on the upper deck around the pool. A big improvement for us non-smokers. The Mongolian grill is now a Mexican place and the grill is now a Guy Fieri burger place. Both are very good but unfortunately close at 6pm. The other food areas were the same and still not that great. There seemed to be a whole new crew too and overall they were great. Same fun trivia nights, live music, etc. And the casino has been reconfigured to include more new slots. We did the Chef's Dinner which was excellent, well worth the money. However, the wine served with the dinner was terrible. Overall really enjoyed the updates and glad to see a cruise line cutting money into their smaller, shorter run cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this Cruise because it was only five days and it went to Cuba. We stayed in Tampa for a few days before joining our American family and nine month old grandson on the Cruise. We have been on eight cruises before but It was our ... Read More
We chose this Cruise because it was only five days and it went to Cuba. We stayed in Tampa for a few days before joining our American family and nine month old grandson on the Cruise. We have been on eight cruises before but It was our first trip with Carnival.There were lots of things to like. The food was excellent and the staff great fun ( The waiters danced with my grandson and were really friendly. Adam, Tanto (?), Imade and Anthony. Orland, our steward, was great too. The Tour Lecturer was good and the Latin Show was brilliant. There were few facilities for the baby though as Under Two's could only go into The Kids Club from Eight until Ten in the morning on a sea day even when accompanied with an adult and couldn't go into a pool at all despite wearing swim nappies. That's not good enough. There were a lot of babies on board. Havana was amazing but we weren't there long enough.We could not get off the ship until 4.00 pm on Monday and had to be back on board by 11.30 am on Tuesday. It's hardly the 2 days we were promised. We booked our own excursion with Yosel Vasquez's I love Cuba photographic tours. It was amazing. I would recommend others to take one of his tours too Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I have wanted to go to Cuba my whole life, but it has been closed most of that time. I thought that my traveling days were over, but when my son gave me a Carnival gift card, I booked the first cruise to Cuba I could get. I was NOT ... Read More
I have wanted to go to Cuba my whole life, but it has been closed most of that time. I thought that my traveling days were over, but when my son gave me a Carnival gift card, I booked the first cruise to Cuba I could get. I was NOT disappointed! It was the last cruise for the Paradise before going into drydock for upgrades and improvements. I loved the ship even before the improvements. We had an oceanview cabin on the Main deck. There was some detouring for us because of ongoing construction, but it was not a problem for us except for some trouble at times finding a working elevator. The dining was excellent. We chose the anytime option because we booked two long excursions and our timeline was uncertain. We were glad that we chose that option, although one night we waited quite a while for seating. (That was okay with us though because we had no plans for that evening.) Everything we ordered was very good. I especially enjoyed the frog's legs appetizer, stuffed pork chop, and roast duckling. I had a great omelet at the breakfast bar on the Lido deck, and I especially appreciated the full breakfast that was available for us on the day of disembarking. (On other cruises, we just got rolls and coffee.) The entertainment was a pleasant surprise. We don't cruise for the entertainment, but this ship had a terrific Latin band that played on the Lido deck and in the Leonardo lounge at night. We also took in the evening show Amor Cubano, which was outstanding! This cruise provided a guest lecturer, Heidi, on Cuba and its sights and customs. She was terrific, giving us many valuable insights on what we would be seeing and doing. I heard one person at one of the lectures say that he could listen to her all day! All that being said, there were a few snags that were just the result of going to Cuba. Lining up for our excursions and finding our right group was chaotic! Because of the requirements for travel to Cuba, 2000 people were being herded into excursion groups. My husband and I are senior citizens and we were tired before the excursions even began! And the excursions themselves are not for the faint of heart! We chose the ones we thought had moderate activity, but I don't think there is such a thing in Havana, Cuba. Our first excursion was a bus tour of Havana and a performance of the Compas Dancers. The guide spoke excellent English and was very informative. The dance performance was excellent, but down a huge flight of stairs with no handrails! Our second day we did the walking tour of Old Havana. Again, an excellent guide, but he moved pretty quickly, so it was a challenge keeping up with our group. This tour included a trip to a community center and museum and a performance at the center of a senior citizens group. They were so welcoming and enthusiastic, I wished I could bring them all home with me.Both tours took us by bus up to the fort where we had a panoramic few of Havana with our ship in the port. But one trip was at dusk and the other was mid-morning, so I did not feel that anything was repeated because it looked different each day! Both shore excursions were definitely worth the money! The only real snag for us came on the morning shore excursion. Our tour started so early that we requested the earliest room service we could get. We waited as long as we could, but finally had to meet our tour group. My husband grabbed 2 cups of yogurt as we left which they were just putting out on the Lido deck, but our room service never got to us in time. I think the ship's dining crew were just overwhelmed that day! But it was a long time until lunch! Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and were so glad we went in February. The weather was beautiful then, but we know we would fry in Cuba in July! (We also do not cruise in hurricane season.) We will probably not be able to go again, because it is a strenuous trip for seniors. Cuba has none of the modern conveniences that we take for granted (elevators, handrails, air-conditioning, clearly marked fire exits, etc.) and although I would love to see some other places in addition to seeing more of Havana, I realize that this is most likely my last shot at it. I feel very blessed to have finally gotten there. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
First cruise for our family of 4. Ease of boarding and settling in was impressive. Beautiful pools, fun slide. Multiple sun decks to choose from. Great mini-golf. Overall fun atmosphere. Food was good, very kid-friendly. For parents, ... Read More
First cruise for our family of 4. Ease of boarding and settling in was impressive. Beautiful pools, fun slide. Multiple sun decks to choose from. Great mini-golf. Overall fun atmosphere. Food was good, very kid-friendly. For parents, not great tho. No formal dining options on this ship. Entertainment was fun and abundant, for kids and parents. We spent several evenings in the library playing board games! On shore excursion with "Fury" catamaran team in cozumel was exceptional. Would highly recommend the snorkel, beach adventure. Our state-room hostess, Phayom was superb. She was very friendly and learned all of our names the first day aboard. My boys ( 8 & 3 ) fell in love with her! She made us feel at home and was always right around the corner if we needed anything. It was sad to have to say goodbye to her. (Tho my 3 yr old did say goodbye with the biggest hug he could give, followed by a sincere "I love you!"). I'd agree with his sentiment! Thank you for all of the great memories. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I was paying back a friend who arranged a trip for me 44 years ago. We have been friends since then and thought this would be nice to pay them back. My first Carnival and only the 2nd cruise I have ever been on. I found the people were ... Read More
I was paying back a friend who arranged a trip for me 44 years ago. We have been friends since then and thought this would be nice to pay them back. My first Carnival and only the 2nd cruise I have ever been on. I found the people were much more friendly on this cruise than on Celebrity. The food was very good, our waiter was Raymond and he and his help were great. Remembered our names, what beer I drank and even brought 2 shrimp cocktails since they are small. The one thing I didn't like food wise was the flank steak. I have cooked on a grill for about 40 years and this was not flank. It was too thick and had too much gristle in it. The deserts were the best part and I am not a big sweet eater. Cheese cake was very good. One thing that stood out was disembarkation. We had FTTF and I don't think it mattered. I had a 10:45 am flight and hunted down a Carnival rep and told him that. We had been told to meet in the Queen Mary lounge and there was about 200 people there. No one ever said anything about getting off and we got in a line around 7:50 and I made it to the airport with time to spare. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We had a smashing good time due to the high energy entertainment staff. What a fun cruise! I've got to complement Leigh the Cruise Director and his staff, Leon, Christian and (especially) Josh for making this a memorable cruise. ... Read More
We had a smashing good time due to the high energy entertainment staff. What a fun cruise! I've got to complement Leigh the Cruise Director and his staff, Leon, Christian and (especially) Josh for making this a memorable cruise. DH and I loved the trivia shows, Love and Marriage, Quest and the party vibe aboard. The cover band Krakken was super! The ship itself will soon get a much needed facelift so there is no need to say how tired she is. Port of Tampa Officers get you on and off the ship efficiently and the Carnival Check In is fast and easy. We had a Carnival chosen state room this time. I prefer to choose my room as we ended up beneath the exercise room and could hear the free weights being dropped. So when trying to sleep in one morning we could hear thump, THUMP a number of times. One would think that a spa employee would stop that from happening. My guess is that the free weight area is not supervised. So no more cruising under the spa for me. We had the open dining in the Elation with different wait staff each night. All were attentive but my favorite was Ariel. I really enjoyed the food. It is amazing how the galley staff serves so many people so well. Tip: Get the steak served on Sea Day Brunch, it's filet mignon. In Cozumel we got off the ship but stayed in the Carnival owned compound. I've been to the island many times and wasn't in the mood to venture far. I shopped for Vanilla, Bamboo Tee shirts, Pharmacy items (cheap here) and used the wifi at Fat Tuesdays for the price of a drink: $4. I like that here in the compound pricing is shown in both pesos and dollars. Christina gave the best massage right there by the water. Ask for her: $35 american for 30 minutes. Plus a big tip because she was awesome. I should know because I am a massage therapist. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
4th Carnival cruise - a reward to ourselves for getting through Thanksgiving and Christmas. MDR menu selection was great, but food quality still doesn't quite make it. Trick is - order multiple appetizers, order entree-sized ... Read More
4th Carnival cruise - a reward to ourselves for getting through Thanksgiving and Christmas. MDR menu selection was great, but food quality still doesn't quite make it. Trick is - order multiple appetizers, order entree-sized appetizers, order appetizer-sized entrees, or combine appetizer salad with salmon or sliced steak. We tried back-of-the-ship dining and found that multiple lite meals (without eating any fried selections) to be very satisfying. Another trick - bring a big cup for dispensed drinks, plus you can return to cabin with a little left-over for siping on. Ship was always clean, but one of the attrium elevators was out-of-service...probably stay that way until rehab. We did Behind the Scenes (BTS) tour - only $55 now. For that you get detailed tour, Q/A with ship officers and chefs, free photo with Captain on the bridge, post-tour delivery of chocolate covered strawberries, baseball hat, and lanyard used to hold BTS pass. Very interesting to see where (and how) all the below-deck work is done on the ship. Rehab of Deck 4 (starboard side) had already begun. Based upon what we found-out, the Paradise will look very different after 4-5 week extensive rehab in the Bahamas. After rehab, it would be a great ship to do the Cozumel/Cuba cruise. The Epic Rock music show was ok - the actors/dancers costumes looked very post-apocalyptic and their facial expressions seemed very angry with continual fist-pumping during show...need to lighten-up the production a little (actually a lot). Their interpretive dance of popular 70's-80's songs was very aggressive, and not very representative of contemporary dance moves. Oh well, to each their own. They did a wonderful Military Appreciation show - it was nice to hear stories and see older cruisers receiving recognition. Didn't know that Carnival actually has a program (programs) for spotlighting veterans, but the video presented during the show included details about Carnival's commitment to get more involved with veteran appreciation. Very touching to see these men (and a few women also) tell their stories. I wish they would implement a more visible means to identify the veterans (if they so choose to be recognized). Lastly, Paradise is out of Tampa - port is very industrial and takes about an hour to hit the open Gulf. Miami is sooo much nicer, cleaner, and scenic. It's quite the event in Miami to pass into the Atlantic after leaving port. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Background: I love cruising! This was my 10th cruise on Carnival and my 3rd on the Paradise. It was a 4 day cruise to Cozumel. We had a group of 6 girls celebrating my birthday. When it comes to cruising, I’m pretty simple. I expect ... Read More
Background: I love cruising! This was my 10th cruise on Carnival and my 3rd on the Paradise. It was a 4 day cruise to Cozumel. We had a group of 6 girls celebrating my birthday. When it comes to cruising, I’m pretty simple. I expect the boat to be clean and well kept, the staff friendly and knowledgeable and there to be plenty to eat/drink and to do while on board. I’m a happy cruiser from there Embarkation It moved very smoothly and quickly. Once we were checked in there as about a 10 minute wait to board. Great experience. Ship/Cabin I believe the ship is scheduled for a remodel in early 2018. Let me say, it REALLY needs it. It is terribly shabby and worn out. We knew this going in, so it was not a surprise. It’s very dated and shows a lot of wear and tear. The cabin was dusty and I’m not even sure the sheets were that clean. My pillowcases had stains on them. The TV is a super small flat screen in a big hole made for a tube TV. I think the bathrooms on the older ships are bigger. The shower definitely is bigger. And I like that.. With that said, it was an all-girls party cruise and the room was basically a place to sleep, so it served its purpose. And true to carnival, the bed was really comfy! There were several leaks on our floor (thankfully none in our rooms) where the entire hallways were blocked off. One of my friends carpet was damp the entire cruise. We got our cabin service daily , although at odd times of the day while some of our friends didn’t get any service the entire day. Our first day onboard felt very unorganized. The Muster drill took a full hour and we sailed away late. Good thing they now do most of it inside. So we had to sit in the lounge and NO talking for an hour while we waited to locate everyone. Apparently several people were unaccounted for. (I guess that’s not Carnival’s fault)Then once they were apparently located, they walked us outside on the deck and told us to line up. No explanation about why we were standing out on the deck. i.e. lifeboats! Poor 1st time cruisers probably had no clue what was going on. We then headed up to the Lido deck for the sail away party with DJ Vinny. Sadly there was no DJ or party? Just a semi empty lido deck with no music or activities. Not sure what happened with that. It was a little dreary out, but nothing terrible. The ship was decorated for Christmas and looked very festive. It made for many pretty pictures. Also, our floor was Empress deck 7. It was so convenient as this is the floor you board on as well as the atrium is located here. Out of our rooms, down the hallway and right into the center of it all. Perfect location. Food We had the 8:15 dining time in the Destiny dining room and had a table for just our group of 6 which was perfect. They had already arranged our seating together at booking so it was one less thing to worry about when we got on board. Food in the MDR was good. There was nothing exceptional, but we enjoyed or dinner every night. (with the exception of the blue crab ravioli YUCK) Our staff was very friendly and funny. Kristijan and his team were awesome! We looked forward to seeing them every night. I was disappointed that there wasn’t lobster offered at all (without an upcharge). I thought they would at least have it on elegant night. The service was good and everything moved along at a nice pace. The first night they even brought out a little cake and sang happy birthday to me. I didn’t expect that, it was a nice touch and made me feel appreciated. I have become spoiled on the other ships and really missed the additional food options (Guys Burger, Blue Iguana etc.). Without those restaurants available, choices are limited. We usually had brunch in the MDR to start off our day. My omelets were delicious! And it wouldn’t be complete without a mimosa or Bellini. I always received my drink with a cute little heart straw or something special. I feel like all of the staff were genuinely nice and thoughtful. They all made me smile. Then a mid-day snack on the lido deck. No real healthy choices here. Mostly burgers and fries. If we were lucky the Mongolian Wok was open (I think until 2:30?). That is always a good choice. Or even in Paris on Lido we could usually find something good on the buffet. You also have the salad bar and deli. You just have to be aware of the time or your options get very limited. Pizza is available 24 hrs., but we only had it late at night. It was good but beware, once the nightclub shuts down there is a LONG line full of rowdy people. Bars/Entertainment We had a fun cruise and felt there were enough activities to keep us busy. There is a bit of a lull in activities from about 4-6 when people are getting ready for dinner or napping most likely. We had a great time with Leon doing trivia and playing several games throughout the cruise. He had great energy and was a lot of fun!!. The cruise director Jamie was cute. Didn’t see or hear much from her. We didn’t go to any production shows (not our cup of tea) but went to the comedy a few times and it was hit or miss. Piano bar was fun and Gustavo was hysterical! Hit the nightclub a few times and it was fun. The Rex is oh so tacky, it reminds me more of a strip club with its animal print décor. But it’s spacious and feels like a real club. One night was 80’s and another night was all new rap. I wish they would have mixed it up. A little pop, rap, R&B, old school etc. Then everyone would have a few songs they could dance to. I missed out on doing the quest game on my last cruise so that was a must do for me this time. It was more than I expected. They warn you if you are easily offended to leave. They aren’t kidding. We were fine and it was amusing but even drunk there are some things I’m not doing for a plastic ship! If you want to be entertained and are curious…just go! Drinks were great, we had the Cheers package and had a little of everything. Blue moon martinis, tropical mules and blue margaritas were a favorite. They also did a great job making custom drinks if you asked for something not on the menu. As an example, a birthday cake shot. They said just tell me what’s in it and we will make it for you. That was appreciated because I have had them tell me no, you must order off the menu on other ships. I really did miss having the alchemy bar, red frog and blue Iguana tequila bars. But between the casino and Atrium bar, we were fine. FYI They were strict on this ship about the drinks with the CHEERS. They made you wait the full 5 minutes and watched if you shared. And they even counted coconut and bottled water. Which to me is silly. I should be able to have a water with my martini??? One lady even wrote the number of the drink you were on, on your receipt. It was like a reminder that gave me anxiety. I didn’t care for that. I felt like I was being mothered. Maybe it’s helpful to some people? They have rules. I understand. But seriously I shouldn’t have to wait 5 minutes for a water. Excursions We knew in advance it was 100% chance of rain on our day in Cozumel. Since this was the case and we wouldn’t really get to enjoy any beach activities we decided to sign up for the ATV jungle & beach break through Carnival. We really had a great time and the rain made it more fun! It was a short bus ride away from the pier. We were all first or second time riders so they gave us instructions and everyone felt comfortable. They had a beginners and advanced group. You ride through a series of trails that have holes, rocks etc. so you really get an off-road experience. We got wet not only from the rain but from splashing in potholes and driving through puddles. Dress accordingly and prepare to get dirty! They had lockers to hold our stuff while we rode. Then they took us to a beach area that we didn’t get to enjoy much because of the rain. Otherwise, I think it would have been a very nice time. There is a pool and also lounge chairs and water activities for you to enjoy. We were there about an hour. I think they cut it a little short because we were just sitting around under cover due to the rain. Had some chips and guac and a few drinks. Didn’t care much for the food. Overall it was a great excursion and I would recommend it. It was especially nice with a group. Overall We had a good time. Staff were all nice and friendly. Our dining room staff was really one of the best and a group of 6 girls can be a challenge. They handled any issues and requests with no problem. The boat is older, but you can still have a great time. We used the HUB app and kept track of the activities and made it fun. You have to get involved to make the most out of it. I would go again, but will wait for the updates before I sail on the Paradise again. It’s a short trip and very convenient for us out of Tampa for a quick getaway. I am sure the Paradise and I will meet again! After being on the Vista in October, and then the Paradise in December, you realize just how nice and upgraded the newer ships really are. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We wanted to go back to Panama. Unfortunately we didn't port there. We didn't realize that when we booked the cruise. We went through the locks into the big lake, anchored and then returned to the locks and headed out. It was ... Read More
We wanted to go back to Panama. Unfortunately we didn't port there. We didn't realize that when we booked the cruise. We went through the locks into the big lake, anchored and then returned to the locks and headed out. It was very interesting but we would have liked to spend a few hours on land there. The trip was 10 days we couldn't Port in Costa Rica due to 70 knot winds and 15 to 18 foot seas...pretty crazy. This cruise was very strange for us. There were only 21 children on board, that was a first for us. The rest of the people on board were all over 60 (us included). I have never seen so many walkers and scooters and canes on a cruise. The comedians even had jokes about all the scooter traffic. It was different to say the least. The crew was awesome as usual and did their best to keep us entertained and comfortable. Hats off to the captain. He did one hell of a job getting us through the turbulent weather. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I will try to do this on a day by day basis. Pre-Cruise We stayed at the Hampton Inn, Ybor. The hotel was very nice, they had a shuttle which took us to the pier and will also take you anywhere within 3 miles. We had a very nice room ... Read More
I will try to do this on a day by day basis. Pre-Cruise We stayed at the Hampton Inn, Ybor. The hotel was very nice, they had a shuttle which took us to the pier and will also take you anywhere within 3 miles. We had a very nice room and the front desk staff was very friendly. There are a few places to eat within walking distance from the hotel. The morning of the cruise, we took the shuttle to the pier at noon (our apt was 12:30-1:00). Boarding was pretty easy as we were in our room by 1:00. We met our steward (Arnold). We dropped off the carry-ons and went to lunch on the lido deck. I went to the burger station (decent burgers, great hot dogs). My wife went to the buffet. Ave CCL buffet, not bad but not great. By the time we finished lunch, our luggage had arrived. We did the lifeboat drill which went fast. We then killed a bit of time, my wife had her drink of the day. We had anytime dining which was a mistake. I strongly suggest that you sign up for a set dining time. For the anytime dining, you go to the Elation dining room, wait in a long line to get a pager then wait another 20 min to get seated. The first night was was worst, it took us an hour from when we went upstairs to when we were actually seated. The other nights were more in the 30 min range. Dining room food was "OK", they don't do the lobster tail or the filet anymore (unless you fork out an extra 20$). The food quality was down a bit from cruises we had taken in the past. My wife said she really enjoyed the duck. Since we had anytime dining, we had a different wait staff each night, although you can request to be seated in the same section (although you will have to wait longer). We ate in the main dining room 3 nights and the buffet 2 nights. The buffet was ok, nothing great but it wasn't too bad. I don't remember what time the casino and the shops opened but I don''t think it was any later then 6. The first day was a sea day, I went to the omlet station which was good as always. I have heard people mention that they were stingy on the bacon (they were). This cruise wasn't crowded so we never had an issue finding a seat on the lido deck. We just pretty much chilled out on the sea day. Roatan: They change the ships time 2x during the cruise, they change to central time the night before Roatan. The boat docked about 11:00am. It was a bit overcast and they said it had rained the day before. Other then the slight overcast, the weather was good. If you booked a CCL cruise, you will meet in the parking lot right after you go through the shopping gauntlet. If you booked with a 3rd party, you will have to leave the port compound. It's about 1/4 mile hike. My wife just went to the local beach. It will cost 14$ if you take the cable cars. My wife has limited mobility so she paid a guy 20$ to take her there and back on a trike. I am a scuba diver and I had my tour set up with Subway Watersports. They picked me up where all the other 3rd party tours left from. The diving was pretty good, although the overcast limited visibility a bit. The water was warm and the wall was pretty nice. We also did 2 small wrecks. The advantage of taking a private dive tour is the level of service. I only had 2 other divers on the boat with me. They were staying at a resort. I told the dm it had been 6yrs since my last dive so he more or less had to give 100% of his attention to me. The timing worked out well, after the 2 dives, they dropped me back off at the port with 2 hours to spare. My wife said the beach was pretty nice, she had a good time. We watched the 2 adult comedians. They were pretty good. There was a white guy Ron and a Black guy, Hank? The white guy was funnier on the 1st night but the 2nd show on the last night the black guy was a total blast. Cozumel: They changed back to eastern time on the night between Roatan and Cozumel. We docked at the International Pier. Again the CCL tours started fairly close to the end of the pier. If you are doing something 3rd party, you will have to go through a large shopping gauntlet to get to where the private tours or taxi's are. I went diving with Island Divers. Like an idiot, I paid a taxi driver $10 for a ride to the marina which I found out was 1/2 mile away ( I walked back). The dive was very nice, we had 6 people on the boat and 2 DMs. We did Palancar Gardens at about 100ft and our 2nd dive was on the Chan (not going to try to spell it), about 40ft. My wife did the Deluxe Catamaran / beach and snorkel. Her and my brother came back from that pretty lit up. Apparently slipping the bar tender a few $ makes the drinks a lot better. A warning for anyone who may be affected by this, the Mexican police were checking people's bags getting off the ship, they also had dogs. After the dive, I went right back on the ship, no reason go shopping or stop at any of the over priced bars near the pier. Final Sea day: We just chilled most of the day, I actually went down the waterslide a few times. ( I was the only 50yr old to do so!!). Disembark day. We had to be out of our rooms by 8:30 (although our steward let us keep our bags in there until 9:30) So we hung out on the lido deck until it was time to get off. Since he had mobility issues, we went down to deck 7 and had someone wheel us through line so we were off the ship and outside within 10 minutes (pays to be gimp at times). Homeland security was being a bit of a PITA so most other people were in line for over an hour. The whole operation was a bit behind schedule due to homeland security. Odds and Ends: Other passengers: Seemed to be a mixed crowd, there were some kids but not a bunch. I didn't see anyone walking around too drunk. Most nights, the decks were pretty empty by 11:30. The younger crowd may have been in the club but from what I saw, the ship went to bed early. LIdo Deck: never had a problem getting a lounge chair or a chair on the deck. Didn't see any chair logs or people 'reserving' chairs all day. Casino: It was average, it was pretty dead by midnight every night. I lost a few hundred which was about what I had budgeted. Room Service: Very efficient, we had all of our room service orders within 15 min. My only suggestion would be, if you order a pot of coffee, get 2x creamer or you will run out. Room Steward: Arnold was pretty good. We didn't really have any special requests. We only got evening turn down, no real need for the guy to be in there day and night. Entertainment: We did the adult comedians who were both pretty good. We also did the adult game show ( my team lost so no ship on a stick for me). We also participated in Quest. Overall, that night was a total blast. We did the veterans thing which I suggest you attend if you or a family member are a vet. We didn't do any of the other shows as I am not a singing and dancing fan. The Ship: It is an older, smaller ship which has it's pro's and cons. 1 of the atrium elevators was out. The ship was clean and they had already refurbed the cabins on a few of the decks. Also a smaller ship means less walking around. Luckily other than embarkation, there weren't many long lines. Usually you could walk right up to the burger station, pizza station (so / so), deli (pretty good), buffet without a wait. Odds and Ends: We rented a wheel chair for my wife. If you want to take it off the ship, it will be 135$, if you just use it on the ship it's $50. They are also very wide so it's a PITA to get around with them. Overall it was an enjoyable cruise. The only thing I didn't like was the anytime dining and the decline of food quality from cruises in the past. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise cause of the 2 stops, Cozumel, and Mahogany Bay, we felt like some beach time! The food was good to very good, the service was very good, and we had no problems with the Cruise or the ship! Entertainment was ... Read More
We chose this cruise cause of the 2 stops, Cozumel, and Mahogany Bay, we felt like some beach time! The food was good to very good, the service was very good, and we had no problems with the Cruise or the ship! Entertainment was really good! The 2 rock shows by the regular entertainment staff were really good, and the special Cubano Show they had one night even had the regular show staff who were sitting near us, standing and applauding! Carnival really upped their game this week in entertainment! The crowd on this sailing was the oldest of any Carnival ship we've been on, guess its the time of the year! Although they were older, it seemed everyone was having a good time! We had 2 nice beach days without any problems! The removal of 1 star was because of the Port, which again proves to have problems! In Tampa its always something! Last trip it was getting on, this time it was getting off! The trouble=Homeland Security! There aren't enough, and they always find a reason to slow things down in Tampa! Who ever is running the Tampa office needs to be fired! Homeland Security/Border Control(?) called for a surprise inspection of the ship, so starting the dis-embarkation was running over an hour behind. Then we stood in line for 2 hours after we were called to dis-embark, cause Homeland Security/Border Control(?) simply don't have enough people working! The last cruise out of Tampa we took, boarding the ship was 2 hours late for the same reason! All of this isn't Carnivals fault we understand, but it is part of the cruise! Carnival has a crew they can be proud of on the Paradise right now, from the cabin attendants (like Harold), all the food/restaurant personal we encountered such as our server in the dining room named Nataly, the entire entertainment group of singers/dancers, the casino hostess (Bunny), all were excellent in their jobs! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise mainly because we wanted to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. Even though the ruins are amazing, due to the time of our arrival and some inclement weather on the ferry to the mainland - we only we able to spend ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly because we wanted to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. Even though the ruins are amazing, due to the time of our arrival and some inclement weather on the ferry to the mainland - we only we able to spend about an hour there... (and over 6 HOURS travelling back & forth!) I would suggest people go to Tulum instead, which is closer. Our guide was WONDERFUL, but it would have been much better had Carnival supplied a high speed helicopter to whisk us over. ;) Our cabin was fine - we had a junior suite: V-10. A bit dated and the balcony was smaller than expected (2 chairs and a small table was all that fit on it) and only about 3 feet deep. Shows - SPECTACULAR! Lower lever of theater the chairs were not comfortable for us, upper level were, but you had to watch out for columns that blocked your view. Dining was good, no specialty restaurants but for a $20 upcharge, you could get filet or lobster. We did one night - and wished we just stuck to the regular menu. Not horrible, but not great. We found out on last night that wait staff do a little dance "Showtime"... they were terrific! Cruise director Jamie was the most energetic, engaging and FUN person! She really works hard to make sure everyone enjoys themselves. Our room steward Victor was wonderful as well... I did not see ANY of the 900+ team be anything but pleasant. Embarking was so smooth - disembarking was not - we waited about 1/2 hour in line to get off the ship. However from the time we got into line until we passed through customs, collected our luggage and loaded it into the shuttle bus - it was total about one hour - so certainly not terrible. Would we go again? Absolutely!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
BACKGROUND INFORMATION My husband and I (both in our 60’s) chose this five-day cruise to enjoy with our son and DIL (in their 40’s). I usually cruise with my sister, so this was different for me, and for my husband who had not ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION My husband and I (both in our 60’s) chose this five-day cruise to enjoy with our son and DIL (in their 40’s). I usually cruise with my sister, so this was different for me, and for my husband who had not cruised since 2012. It was my son and DIL’s first Caribbean cruise. We drove from North Carolina to the Holiday Inn in Tampa, a long drive, but enjoyed a “park and cruise” special package which allowed us to leave our vehicle in the parking deck while we enjoyed the cruise. The rooms at the Holiday Inn were spacious, clean, and elegant. Breakfast (included in the park and cruise package) was extensive and delicious. The night before, we especially enjoyed Ulele, a local restaurant with Native American influence. EMBARKATION We had purchased Carnival’s “Faster to the Fun” pass and also booked a Grand Suite, the first ever for me after a dozen cruises. The combination of perks made embarkation quick and easy. We had a noon appointment to board the ship. We enjoyed a special priority line through security and straight to the counter to get our Sign & Sail cards. At or close to the appointed time, we were allowed to follow the Diamond and Platinum passengers to get on the ship early, and go straight to our cabins, which were ready for us. We elected to wheel our luggage on and it was simple because the gangway in the port boards the Paradise at deck 7, making it easier to roll luggage without an extensive uphill climb (there are two escalators in the cruise port). CABIN We booked our cruise over a year in advance and even then, had difficulty getting a cabin. We wanted a regular balcony cabin, but the only thing available at that time were Junior Suites with an obstructed view and the Grand Suites. As my husband and I celebrate our anniversary this month, we threw the budget to the winds and booked the Grand Suite. Our cabin was U79 and our son/DIL’s was U83, with an adjoining door between the Deck 6 suites (“upper deck”). We loved this part as it made it possible for us to share balconies (the partition between could not be lowered as on other Carnival ships). The Grand Suite was about the size of a regular hotel room. The décor was a little dated, but very clean and elegant. Bedding was comfortable (as always on Carnival), and it was a treat to have a jetted tub, a walk-in closet with plenty of hangers, and a large balcony with 3 chairs and enough room for a 4th. SERVICE Our room steward was Jeamer and our room was kept in tip-top condition each day. SHIP The Paradise, a 1998 Fantasy-class ship, is getting a little elderly, but was and still is a grand ole gal. I understand that she is due to be refurbished in 2018 and while I agree it is time, that did not impact significantly on our vacation. The elevators were slow and took turns being inoperative, and there were a few other indications of small problems along the way, but nothing that really impacted my experience. Carnival Paradise is one of the smaller ships still being used by the cruiseline at only 70.3 GT, so there was a little bit of rocking and rolling in choppy seas, but again, nothing untoward. I’m interested to see how the ship is refurbished – I hope they’ll get a “Guy’s Burger Joint”-- and wouldn’t hesitate to visit again. DINING We chose early dining and were surprised to be seated at a table for four. While we enjoy talking to others, it gave us lots of family time, one main purpose for our cruise. Our waiters at our little table (#372) were two men both named Iwanyan and assistant Eko. They remembered our names and preferences and did a stellar job serving us each night. Dining selections show Carnival’s cut-backs more than anything else on the ship. The food is still good, and one can certainly select a delicious entrée, but the lobster and steak special meal is gone, there were only linens on the tables for elegant night, and it seemed to me there were fewer choices each evening across the categories. My son opted for the $20 extra surf and turf meal one evening and said that while it was good, it was not amazing. For both evening and buffet dining, I noticed very little real cheesecake, the cheese being replaced with a jello-type filling and similar cut-backs. I noticed that staff now serve some items, attempting to manage portion-size on more expensive foods such as bacon on the breakfast buffet, or the meat/seafood on the Mongolian Wok station. I felt this was as much a commentary about the greediness of people as evidence of cutting back. Bread selection was still good, the salad bars are very fine, and there was a good array of entrees and desserts. CHEF’S TABLE One evening, we opted to enjoy the Chef’s Table, a combination of a tour of the galley, and an amazing full-service meal, a multi-course dinner that is unavailable anywhere else on the ship. It’s limited to about 12 people and is done once or twice during the cruise. It’s pricey -- $75 on our ship – but is interesting, entertaining and delicious. This was my third Chef’s Table and the food is just amazing. The only thing I don’t like about the experience is the magician who does an up-close private show. The concept is good, but the magicians are just too caustic for me, with cutting comments and sarcasm that I did not appreciate, sometimes bordering on being inappropriate. All three times the magicians were from India and all three made comments which were supposed to be funny, I suppose, about their skin color and that of the guests. In these days, I don’t feel that’s very humorous. Our magician this time made the comment, “why do white people have to be so difficult?” when someone was not choosing a card or following his instructions quickly enough to suit. That soured me on the presentation and I was glad to get back to the meal, which is what I came for, after all. In talking about it with my cruisemates later, we thought if a break is required perhaps having the spa staff come in for a quick neck or shoulder chair massage would be pleasant, touting the benefits of the spa. A brief musical or dance interlude would be entertaining. At a minimum, a magician should focus on the illusions and not on the ethnicity of the guests. SHOWS/ENTERTAINMENT We only attended one show this cruise, a 70-80’s Rock Music presentation, which was entertaining and well-done. We don’t expect Broadway, but are happy to enjoy some skilled dancers and singers for a fun show. This one did not disappoint. The central bar area on deck 7 (with guest services) is very small, allowing only a soloist or possibly a duet. There were two men singing during the evening – one performing jazz-type selections, the other singing oldies. There were other bands throughout the ship, but I avoided the smoke-filled casino area where they performed. Prerecorded music was available throughout the day, and was acceptable. “FUN” SHOPS The fun shops need major attention. I had more of a budget this time for purchasing a few items, but found there was little in the shops to choose from. The shops also did not open on time – once my husband and I waited for a few minutes, then did something else, only to return to a closed shop after 15 minutes. The same was true several other times. Most telling, there was very little “crowd” in the shops buying much of anything. Even the obligatory $10 t-shirt tables did not have all sizes, and were not swamped as they usually are. Rather than hundreds of watches and dozens of faux stone rings and bracelets, I’d like to see some hand-crafted items representing the various ports, something I could be proud to take home to a friend or relative. It’s definitely time for a change here. PHOTOS Again, it’s time to enter into some new technology here. Photos should be viewable from the stateroom or on a kiosk, rather than making jillions of prints. I always get what I call the “pixel headache” from trying to locate photos and craning my neck trying to see all levels. I rarely pose for photos any more because of the hassle of finding them later. Offering a pre-cruise package would be great, too, just as the pre-cruise beverage or spa packages are available. On elegant night, my husband and I spontaneously opted for photos. We purchased one using a coupon given to my husband for his birthday. If photos were easier to find and view and cost less, I would have purchased many more. PORTS GRAND CAYMAN Grand Cayman is a tendered port, but our Faster to the Fun pass bumped us to the front of the line. Even without it, it appeared that the tender service was excellent. I had visited Grand Cayman several times and we decided to use the inexpensive ($2.50/each/way) city bus system for transportation. It’s about a 5-minute walk from the tender cruise port and into a small van which leaves every 15 minutes. It’s a great way to see a bit more of the area and interact with local people. We love the turtle farm, not so much for the educational tour, but for the amenities – a huge salt-water snorkeling area full of hatchling turtles and colorful fish, and a clear refreshing fresh water pool with a water slide on the other side. Both sides have inexpensive lockers and wonderful air-conditioned restrooms and changing areas. The food is also great – we enjoyed fried cheese, calamari, conch fritters, and coconut shrimp – all delicious. We left the Turtle Farm to quickly catch a city bus back to the cruise port. COZUMEL I had visited Cozumel twice before and had planned to revisit PalMar Snorkel Beach Club, a private estate on the Dzul Ha Reef. Taxi service is reached after walking through the extensive shop area of the cruise port, but the price is very reasonable -- 4 of us was only $11. The Beach Club is a real bargain and includes use of the private pool, touring the Butterfly Sanctuary, and using the beach area on the world-famous reef. Day use tickets even include 2 free drinks. The food is excellent – we enjoyed guacamole, cerviche, and chicken enchiladas, all terrific examples of great local food. Best of all is the sweet service offered by the employees – it’s a perfect balance of the staff being humble and grateful for the income we generate, and us being grateful and humbled by the beautiful surroundings and the grace of the local folks. DISEMBARKATION We carried our own luggage off and were pleased to be directed to a special lounge with some breakfast offerings before we left due to our purchase of Faster to the Fun. We were slightly delayed, but still were out and in a taxi before 8am. I have no complaints about the procedure at all. SUMMARY I’m a big believer that there is rarely such a thing as a bad cruise. You may encounter challenges, but when you get your cruise attitude firmly in place, you are able to see and enjoy the amazing opportunities cruising offer. This cruise was no exception and was especially pleasant because of our upgraded splendid surroundings. I highly recommend the Carnival Paradise and would welcome a chance to see her again after the drydock/refurb planned for the spring of 2018. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
I chose this cruise out of Tampa so I could relax after Hurricane Irma and I was not disappointed. I was traveling solo which is always fun to do! This was the new Cozumel Plus with extra time in Cozumel so I was able to go to Chichen Itza ... Read More
I chose this cruise out of Tampa so I could relax after Hurricane Irma and I was not disappointed. I was traveling solo which is always fun to do! This was the new Cozumel Plus with extra time in Cozumel so I was able to go to Chichen Itza for the 2nd time. The first time I went I was visiting friends and they took me there at night for the sound and laser light show on the pyramids. Fabulous! And this trip in the daytime was fabulous too. We were given a light lunch on the bus, sandwich, chips, fruit, water, and a cookie, which was quite good. Our guide was great and pointed out many not readily apparent carvings on the ruins. Overall, a great trip. I also snorkeling with the stingrays in Grand Cayman. Really fun and got great pics of me kissing the rays! Be sure to take an underwater camera. The food was good in both the main dining room and the buffet. No problems there. Casinos were smoky but still fun and slots were loose! I have already booked another cruise on the Paradise for September 2018! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose Carnival Paradise for the short 5 day cruise that included Key West and Cozumel. We had a window cabin on the upper deck (6). We usually choose balcony cabins, but the only balcony cabins were suits and I didn't want to ... Read More
We chose Carnival Paradise for the short 5 day cruise that included Key West and Cozumel. We had a window cabin on the upper deck (6). We usually choose balcony cabins, but the only balcony cabins were suits and I didn't want to pay double for a suit balcony. We certainly missed our balcony, but we managed it with only 5 days. The cabins are small, but very clean. Our cabin steward was fabulous. We had Any Time Dinning for the first time, and it worked out well. We went with my brother and his wife and also me a great couple the first evening and were able to sit together the rest of the cruise. I do see some scaling down on the menu. Usually on the dress up night there would be a choice of steak and lobster, but not this time. You had to buy up for that, but you could do that any time during the cruise. The wait servers were great and very helpful as well as funny. We asked to keep that table every night and we did. Entertainment is a bit of hit and miss. We did enjoy the comedy shows. Key West was in great shape and we had a nice tour to the city. It was plenty hot for October. Cozumel was a great stop. We enjoyed the new tour of the Children's Home, church and lunch. Excursions with a purpose! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Visiting Cuba was a bucket list item for us and when we saw that Carnival was going to have a trip there, we jumped at the opportunity. Although there were a few glitches here and there that could have made the experience better, overall ... Read More
Visiting Cuba was a bucket list item for us and when we saw that Carnival was going to have a trip there, we jumped at the opportunity. Although there were a few glitches here and there that could have made the experience better, overall it was very good. This was our second cruise on the Paradise, and were well aware that she is an older, smaller ship, but still very elegant and cozy. She was clean and the staff were great, but the ship needs some TLC and some 2.0 upgrades (Guys Burgers!) would be nice too. Our Cabin was on the Main Deck, number 164, and the cabin was fine. A little smaller than the newer ships, but for two of us, it had plenty of room. There was no noise and it was convenient enough to all the ship activities. The food was just OK. Nothing spectacular, the dining room staff was attentive, but a little rushed. We were seated at a long table for eight by the window. The first night, there were three couples, and after that there were only four of us, and we truly enjoyed the company of the other couple. We are also regular casino players, and the casino on the Paradise is very small and had a limited number of slot machines. We enjoyed the sea day, and did not get off the ship in Cozumel. It was nice to sit up on deck and have the ship (mostly) to ourselves. We sailed to Havana overnight and docked at 12 noon. It was 1:30 by the time we got through customs and got to our tour bus for the Top 10 Havana Excursion. We enjoyed the tour, and learned a lot about Cuba, but unfortunately, it did not leave us enough time to buy cigars from the State run cigar shops, which close at 6 pm. That was a disappointment for us. We sailed back to Tampa the next day, which was just another sea day. Disembarkation in Tampa was a fiasco. They had three customs agents for 2,000 people and it took over 2 1/2 hours to disembark the ship. Terrible. So, to me, I would have liked to have had more time in Havana, and scrapped Cozumel altogether. Maybe we will get the chance to go back someday... Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
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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