Sail Date: November 2005
Overall, a fun weekend away. The ship itself is very colorful. EMBARKATION -- Fairly smooth - Was met at the airport by a Carnival representative and took a bus to the pier. Not too long of a wait. Expect to stand in lines for a bit ... Read More
Overall, a fun weekend away. The ship itself is very colorful. EMBARKATION -- Fairly smooth - Was met at the airport by a Carnival representative and took a bus to the pier. Not too long of a wait. Expect to stand in lines for a bit while you go through the process to check in and get your Sail and Sign Card. You'll also have to face the first of what will be many encounters with ship's photographers. Once on board I had to attract the attention of a crew member to get directions to my cabin. Luggage was delivered quite quickly. CABIN -- A bit sterile in appearance, but the bed was quite comfortable and there was plenty of room for storage. Cabin and bathroom were clean. FOOD -- Generally good. Staff was willing (no problems asking for seconds, or two soups instead of a soup and salad. A number of people seemed to avoid the more formal dining rooms in favor of the less formal Paris restaurant, which could be a bit crowded, but not bad. DRINKS/TIPPING -- The standard 15% tip was added to all drinks, and to any wine you ordered in the restaurant. When I tried to have the tip removed from the bottle of wine the waiter said the tip was "mandatory." I was able to have the tip reversed later after a discussion with staff at the Information Desk, but it was done reluctantly and only after I pressed the point. Avoid the drinks in the souvenir cups and purchase drinks in the smaller, but better value, regular cups. ENTERTAINMENT -- A nice range of entertainment from the very lively Rex lounge to mellower discos and a piano bar with a talented singer. SINGLES -- As a single cruiser I didn't find much in the way of singles activities. There was supposed to be a singles event on the first night, but I turned up at the appointed time and location and didn't find any crew there to greet me, or any apparent singles activity. SHORE EXCURSIONS -- I did the Fox studio tour. Fun to see where the Titanic and Master and Commander were made. The provided lunch was forgettable, and there was an hour or so after lunch for shopping, but you can walk on a boardwalk and beach if you so desire. SHIPS ENTERTAINMENT -- The shows were fun and worth going to. Talented cast and well presented. The comedians were pretty good, but the "adult," show was basically similar to the regular show, with more swear words and sexual themes thrown in. I did find some quiet places on the ship which were nice to read a book and have some down time. The day at sea was basically spent "parked," on the ocean, since it didn't take long to get from Long Beach to Ensenada. SMOKING -- This was once a truly Non-Smoking ship - as evidence by the large "No Smoking," symbols once welded on the side of the ship, and now painted over. Expect to see people smoking in some public rooms, and in the hallways. They're not supposed to, but it is done. Also, it seems people are allowed to smoke in the cabins, but mine did not smell of smoke. DISEMBARKATION -- Probably the worst part of the cruise. Long lines, even for those getting off for early flights. Be patient. Having luggage that you can roll off yourself will save you some time. OTHER THOUGHTS I'd heard that Carnival three-day cruises were really party boats. I did see one person drunk and throwing up in the hallway, but generally the other passengers were a real mix of ages and were just having a good time. This is a fun way to spend an extended weekend. I would recommend getting a group of friends together. Don't expect the best food you've ever had, but there is plenty of food and enough variety for everyone. The ship is fun to explore and it will be a fun adventure if you don't go with expectations of haute cuisine or refined service. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
This was mine and my wife's first cruise. We're in our early 30's and wanted a "happening" line instead of a geriatrics boat like Holland America. The smoke-free environment made us immediate buyers. Our overall ... Read More
This was mine and my wife's first cruise. We're in our early 30's and wanted a "happening" line instead of a geriatrics boat like Holland America. The smoke-free environment made us immediate buyers. Our overall impression? 3.5 ribbons out of 6 (One ribbon going just to the fact that it's a smoke free ship). The ship: even though it was built only 6 years ago it looks like something that was designed in the mid 70's. Simply put the decor is VERY TACKY and it resembles more a Vegas casino. Although the ship is clean, we couldn't find a garbage bin anywhere to throw away napkins, paper, etc... The open-air decks: (nice feature) a lot of lounge chairs all over; (awful feature) not enough pools and the ones they have are FULL of kids. Our cabin: I've seen motel rooms with better decor... One thing that was good was the bed (VERY COMFY). The crew: I noticed that most crew walked around with a pout. We were situated at the very front of the ship not far from a storage room and it wasn't uncommon to see crew on break lounging around on the corridor floor. The restaurant and cabin crew were nice although the cabin steward was a little too chatty... The shows: again, we found them on the tacky side. The stand-up shows were funny but the variety shows too much glitter and cheap costumes. Finding seats was an adventure. The excursions: we had heard that it was cheaper to book the excursions in the port rather than on the ship. Problem is that the availability of port excursions varies tremendously as does the quality. We experienced very good service in this department although if you're in the USVI and absolutely want to go snorkeling to Buck Island beware that there are 2 Buck Islands: the first is just off St. Thomas (and it's a waste of time), the other is the world renowned snorkeling haven just off St. Croix. Make sure you are not taken in like we were. Bottom line: we had heard that the best way to start on a cruise line is to go with Carnival because everything else after that gets better. So if you're new to the cruise scene Carnival is just for you. Next time we'll work our way up to Royal Caribbean and eventually Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
This was my wife's first cruise and I had cruised about 15 years ago. I wanted a simple vacation that would keep my children's interest and allow us to relax. My children are 15 months, 4 years and 6 years old. Many friends and ... Read More
This was my wife's first cruise and I had cruised about 15 years ago. I wanted a simple vacation that would keep my children's interest and allow us to relax. My children are 15 months, 4 years and 6 years old. Many friends and family members of mine had recommended carnival for a vacation. We were leery of taking such young children but several people had told me that carnival makes it very easy to take children on vacation allowing the parents to enjoy themselves. Carnival told us that whenever the ship was in port there would be available babysitting for a fee. Embarkation and debarkation: relatively simple requires no explanation The ship is very nice, somewhat tacky in its decor but a lot of attention has been paid to the appearance of the atrium, and public areas. The ship is laid out well and is fairly easy to get around. The ship has a great .1 mile jogging track with great views on one of the top decks. Our rooms were reasonably sized. Much bigger than I had remembered Royal Caribbean's rooms (But that was 15 years ago). There is only one outlet so bring a power strip with you. The cabin steward was great, easily available and really made the trip a lot nicer. Pools were small and crowded; the waterslide usually had a line of about 10 people which would take about 5 minutes to get your turn. The height requirements seemed absurd and sporadic attention was paid towards its enforcement, leaving several people irritated that one day their child is out there having fun and the next they are being told that their child is not tall enough. There seemed to be ample chairs for sunning or relaxing in the shade although the pool areas were always crowded. Entertainment: this depends on what you like, Karaoke, comedians and many Vegas like shows occur nightly. All were good but not great quality. I will qualify that response by stating that I am no connoisseur of singing and dancing shows. Food and service were good to very good. Meats were better than seafood. My wife and I theorized that bringing on fresh seafood in third world ports was probably impractical and I would say that most if not all seafood had that "previously frozen taste". There were some things that were poor quality, but this was negligible and insignificant because we were always offered multiple choices and one to many of them would be great. Cruising with kids. Don't do 7 days with kids and don't box your family up in one 190 sq foot room, put a wall between you and your kids with a baby monitor. People that crammed into one room did not enjoy themselves. We found that one child would perk up while one needed to sleep and having two rooms gave us the flexibility to put one down at a time. We also placed voice activated walkie talkies in their room to allow us some freedom to get something to eat or get a drink. Other people just used camp carnival for childcare. The problem with this was 1. My son hated it; 2. After you were done with your activity you had to round up your exhausted child and put him/her to bed at obscene hours and 3. The next day the child is too tired and cranky for excursions or activities. This is probably unethical but we checked in on our kids every 20 minutes regardless of what we were doing and tested the two-way radios from every place that we went to. Another comment on this is that we heard every sleep taking peep and bump in our children's room whereas the one night we left our daughter in camp carnival late at night she got pushed and punched by two other little girls—no bruises. My son saw the whole event. The attendants at this function only saw my daughter upset after the event. They thought she was upset because she wanted another cookie. So they gave her a cookie and she felt better—according to them. They also seemed to rely heavily on television for crowd control. My daughter (age 4) loved camp carnival despite the event above. Infant childcare is not worth having. The hours are ridiculous and do not allow you to leave the ship on any excursions, there is not one excursion short enough to get back on the boat by noon to pick up your child. They made special accommodations for us in Grand Cayman but made it clear that this was not regularly done and we cancelled our Cozumel excursion because they could not accommodate us. In the evenings they do not take infants until the babysitting time of 10:00pm. I don't know what time you put your infants down but consider whether or not you want to wake them up at 10:00pm and then again 2 hours later at pick up and try to put them back to bed again after midnight. This is in stark contrast to what I was told over the phone by Carnival representatives whose obvious job is to make sure you book and send non- refundable money. Plan on keeping children under and around two with you at all times. Excursions: Do not book your excursions on the ship! Because they are 1. overpriced; 2 overly time consuming; 3. less interesting 4. You are less likely to be charged for your children's ticket on shore. When you book on board you are to assemble in the Queen Mary Lounge where you will sit with every other booked tour waiting for a carnival rep to escort you to your tour meeting place on the island or the appropriate tender to bring you to the island. On our Grand Cayman Stingray city-Island tour we were to report to the QML at 9:30 for a 9:45 excursion we did not get on the bus until 11:30 which meant of the 9 hours we had to see Grand Cayman island 1:20 hours were spent in the hurry up and wait holding pen on the ship followed by tendering, customs, and reassembling on shore for 15 minutes to gather and organize the tour goers into groups. The bus driver then brought us to a turtle farm and said if we were not back on the bus in 20 minutes we would be left. This was incredibly crowded making 20 minutes tight. There is not a lot to see but my kids loved holding the turtles for 2 minutes before we fled to our bus. Stingray city is very exciting and we had ample time there to play with and feed the stingrays. Belize: Altun Ha: Too long of a bus ride and too hot for kids. However, this is the shortest Myan ruins tour available. And the grounds are very impressive. Belize is impoverished and not very charming in that quaint third world tropical paradise way, do something on the water like snorkeling or stay on the boat. If you go to the zoo, or the Monkey preserve consider just hiring a cab for the day on shore to save money and better manage your time. Roatan: The ship won't tell you this but Tabiana beach is a tour for $30 or $40 per person. This is really just part of the beautiful west bay (not west end) beach which is free to every one and only cost $10 by cab which will hold 4-5 people. We hired a cab (The English Speaking Taxi Drivers was the name of the cab company) for the day for $70 + I tipped him $15 to take us to the island ship wrecks, fishing village, iguana preserve, butterfly preserve and west bay beach we also paid $10 at the iguana and butterfly preserve for admission. All were dilapidated but interesting and kept my kids fascinated. The island is also impoverished but it is beautiful at the same time. The Beach was absolute paradise, with crystal clear turquoise blue water and clean white sand beaches. I rented snorkel equipment from a dive shop at one of the resorts for $10, where they also lent me extra towels for no extra charge. Later my kids played with the worlds most needy monkey outside of the dive shop. Our driver gave us no restrictions on how much time we spent at any of the sites and even waited at the beach for us for hours and brought us back to the ship promptly, he even watched for when the other cruisers left the beach to ensure we were on time. Ask for Alvin he looks just like the guy who plays Theo Huxtable on the Cosby show, he was knowledgeable, patient and well connected on the island getting us a discount at the butterfly preserve as well as knowing the guys who operate the horse back riding on the beach and all of the staff at the resorts. Cozumel: Cozumel has some great excursions. With kids the easiest thing to do is to go to the beach. If you want to you could pay $40 per person to go through the cruise or for $12 you could take your whole family to Paradise Beach via taxi. There you will have access to snorkel equipment, kayaks, a floating inflatable climbing iceberg and floating trampoline, chairs, beach umbrellas all on gorgeous white sand beaches with clear blue ocean, great service and believe it or not they do not charge for any of it. I did not get a chance to eat there, but friends of ours said that the food was very good. No one got sick from the ice in the drinks. Drinks were reasonably priced at $3 for Sol or Corona beer and $4.50 for a margarita. They also have clean bathrooms and showers. Available massages, hair braiding etc. for a fee and a gift shop. I would highly recommend this place for a simple and inexpensive outing. You will not get information on this or other nice beaches while on the ship. Overall, we had a nice time and enjoyed the ship. We just had to realize that there are no easy fixes for traveling with kids despite what carnival told us over the phone. I do not think that I'll spend the money on another cruise until the kids are over 10 years old. 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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