993 Carnival Paradise Cruise Reviews

OCTOBER 29, 2000 - NOVEMBER 5, 2000 This was our 37th cruise overall and our second cruise with Carnival. Being that I was in desperate need of a vacation, we booked this cruise at the last minute, and reserved a category 6A ... Read More
OCTOBER 29, 2000 - NOVEMBER 5, 2000 This was our 37th cruise overall and our second cruise with Carnival. Being that I was in desperate need of a vacation, we booked this cruise at the last minute, and reserved a category 6A guarantee. This was the first time I had ever booked under guarantee, and I must admit I was a little leery of not knowing my exact cabin until pier side check-in. I was expecting the worst, and what I got was a major surprise.....(more on that later). We arrived at the Port of Miami at approximately 11:30am with our luggage trailing behind us. As we did not have our documents or cabin assignment it wasn't possible to check the bags curbside until after we checked in. Upon entering the terminal building we were directed to a check in desk marked "Pierside Document Pick-Up." At that point we were given our documents, including the famous Paradise No Smoking disclaimer to sign. I noticed on our tickets that the cabin number and dining was not assigned and was told that we would find this information on our Sign and Sail Cards. I was a little nervous at this point to say the least. Upon completing our documents we passed through security (still with luggage in tow) and were queued up in the line for check in. The line was a bit long, but moved very quickly. We were at the counter in a matter of minutes, where I again inquired about dining and cabin assignments. I was given the same information as before, and was told that all of the information would be printed on our Sign and Sail Cards which we were to claim on the upper level of the terminal. Now I'm VERY nervous! We checked in upstairs and claimed our Sign and Sail Cards which also double as your cabin key. I immediately checked to see what cabin we had and boy was I shocked! We had been upgraded from a Cat. 6A (outside cabin) to a Cat. 12 SUITE! Category 12 is the highest category available on this ship and was very roomy. It's also important to note that our dining was confirmed for Second seating as requested. THE CABIN: Category 12 Suite with Verandah. This cabin was approximately the size of a standard hotel room. It contained 2 almost-queen size beds that can be pushed together to form a king. Large sectional sofa, coffee table, 2 chairs with cocktail table, bar, refrigerator, large vanity, walk in closet, 27" TV, mini-safe, and large bathroom with jaccuzzi tub and shower. The bathroom was very spacious and had ample storage space. The balcony was large enough for a full size lounge chair and 2 regular chairs, but did not contain any type of table. THE SHIP Upon unpacking we went to the Paris Restaurant (Casual Lido Buffet) for lunch. The buffet featured a variety of hot and cold foods as well as a huge salad bar, pasta station and the always available 24 hour Pizza Station which also served Calzones and Ceasar Salad. After lunch we explored the ship which was immaculate. The crew did a great job in keeping the ship spotless both inside and out. The atrium is less glitzy than other Carnival ships, and in the center of the atrium on lower level is a nice bar that had a large screen TV for sporting events and at other times a Trio played music which could be heard on the various levels of the atrium. Most of the colors throughout the ship were earth tones, and somewhat drab. One would think this to be an easy ship to navigate...not so. There were stairwells that went to "nowhere," especially the one at the rear of the ship that went from the Rotterdam Bar to the Dining Room and then you were at a "dead end." The atrium elevators only traversed the 4 or 5 decks of the atrium and were the only means of getting from one level of the atrium to another unless you used the main stairwells. I found it odd to design a ship with an atrium but not provide stairs to connect each level. Most of the bars and entertainment areas are located off Carnival Blvd, and each contained a different form of entertainment each night. The Majestic Casino was about the most glitzy part of the ship (and rightfully so) but never had much activity. I found the slot machines to be quite generous at times, although this was pure luck. One thing I noticed on this ship is the virtual lack of people out at night. The ship was a near ghost town past 11pm. From talking to the crew, it seems that the non-smoking aspect of this ship draws a more sedate crowd, and this particular cruise seemed more like a Holland America cruise than a Carnival Fun Ship. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on this particular sailing was the weakest point of the entire cruise. The Vegas style production shows were not very good, nor were the "celebrity" entertainers which only consisted of 2 comedians which were not funny at all. The poolside calypso band was very good, and were probably the most talented of the entire entertainment staff. A word of warning for anyone interested in watching the entertainment in the Normandie Lounge... Get there EARLY as there are only about 10 seats in the entire showroom that don't have an obstructed view and they are all in the first row. This was perhaps the worst designed show lounge I've ever seen in that there were columns obstructing the view of the stage from almost every seat in the place. FOOD We were pleasantly surprised with the food onboard. Breakfasts were spent in the Casual Paris Restaurant, where they had the usual buffet items, as well as a made to order egg/omlet station. The lines moved rather quickly and it seemed that most passengers opted for breakfast in this fashion. In addition there was also a large fruit bar, and coffee, tea, lemonade and fruit punch were available 24 hrs a day along with self serve ice cream. We ate 2 lunches in the main dining room and were pleased with the selection and quality of the food. The remaining lunches were taken in the Lido area and each day there was a varied buffet of hot and cold items as well as the ever present hamburger/hot dog grill and of course the pizza station. One point to mention here is there are NO trays in the Lido restaurant. You will definitely get plenty of exercise walking back and forth from the buffet to the table and back to the buffet, then back to the table etc. We were assigned a table for 6 in the Elation Dining Room, and during our second seating dinner, we never encountered a bad meal all week. The selection was varied and the service was good. The tables were a bit closer together than on other ships and it did cause a bit of trouble for the waiters to maneuver around at times, but this was easily overlooked. PORTS Since this was mainly a relaxation getaway and we had been to these same ports several times in the past, we didn't spend too much time ashore. In Nassau, we went to the Atlantis Hotel for the day and enjoyed their facilities for the daily rate of $50.00. In San Juan we stayed onboard the ship as this is our least favorite island. St. Thomas found us making a few purchases at the Havensight Mall and then we spent the balance of the day onboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas which was docked behind us. We were able to get onboard thanks to some friends of ours who are working onboard. We spent a nice day visiting with them and had a nice lunch onboard the Enchantment before we returned to the Paradise. SUMMARY All in all it was a very nice, relaxing week onboard the Paradise. Would I sail her again? Yes, but I still prefer Royal Caribbean for both the beauty of their ships and the excellent service provided by their crew. While the crew onboard the Paradise were nice, they only did what was required and never went out of their way to be friendly etc. The food and service were good, not overly exciting. The ship was spotless, the weather was beautiful and we were combining this with a back to back sailing on the Norwegian Sky when we got back to Miami so life was good. Read Less
This was our 15th cruise, 2nd on Carnival. My wife and I are in our early 50's. Much has been said about the Paradise and the smoke free environment that it offers. However most of what has been written can't do justice to ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise, 2nd on Carnival. My wife and I are in our early 50's. Much has been said about the Paradise and the smoke free environment that it offers. However most of what has been written can't do justice to the experience. At first walking into the casino or into any lounge or at any bar seems odd until you realize that there is no cigarette or cigar smoke to contend with. This aspect of the cruise was probably the one thing that most sets this ship apart from all others. We were booked into a Verandah Cabin 076. The cabin was nicely decorated with cabinetry of dark lacquered woods, a mauve ceiling finish and complimentary colors in the soft furnishings, carpets and spreads. Two end tables; a small table and a sofa that converted into a third bed completed the furnishings. The beds were pushed together to create a queen size bed. The room came with a well-stocked mini-fridge containing bottled water and a variety of sodas in 20 ounce bottles. Prices for these beverages were the same as anywhere else on the ship. The verandah was just large enough to hold two resin chairs and a small table. There was no cover over the verandah for weather protection. The bathroom contained a nice sized shower and the typical sink and toilet arrangement found on modern cruise ships. No hair dryer is provided so bring your own. Bring y our own shampoo as well as only a basket full of toiletry samples are provided. Our room stewardess kept our bathroom well stocked with towels and there were bathrobes for use during the cruise. Overall a pleasant room to spend a week's cruise in. The upper decks are devoted to sun in the fun. There is a stern lido area with two whirlpools and a shallow dip pool. Amidships there is a sundeck that surrounds the main pool one deck below. Farther forward is the top of the atrium and the Verandah cabins. Walk forward through the verandah cabin hallways through the doors and you come out onto a delightful deck that overlooks the bow. This deck is directly over the bridge. It is also accessible by stairways from either side of the deck below. The pool deck contains the spa forward with the main pool, water slide and a large performance stage. There is an outdoor lido grill and the enclosed Paris lido dining area farther aft. There are two small outside deck areas at the rear on the port and starboard sides accessible from the rear of the Paris lido for those who want to eat alfresco. The interior dEcor is themed to that of Ocean liners of the past. Lounges have the names of famous lines such as Queen Mary, Normandie, America, United States and Rex. The library is devoted to the Blue Riband which is the trophy awarded to the fastest trans-Atlantic ocean liners. I found the interior decors to be far more subdued than those seen on other Carnival ships and thankfully neon was notably absent. Most everywhere there are small Tivoli lights instead. These must total in the thousands. The Main showroom is a two-story room with fairly good sightlines but there are support columns that do obstruct views from some seats in the lower level. Views from the back of the upper deck are not as good. I did not see any seat saving and finding seats fro the shows was not a major problem, at least for the late shows. The atrium is the ships centerpiece and provides a fully open seven-story view to a large skylight at the top. During the day the area is flooded with sunlight and at night it takes on a darker tone with dark wood and the sparkle of those Tivoli lights. There are two glass-enclosed elevators that face into the atrium. The social gathering place is the atrium bar where a string trio or a piano soloist played during most of the day on a stage directly behind the bar. This is a great place to meet friends or sit and people watch. Non-smokers seem to be far less of the party type as those on other ships. Many of the lounges went virtually unused and some entertainers performed for only a few couples in some lounges. Highly attended most nights was the karaoke. Entertainment consisted of two production shows (OK but not the elaborate productions seen on the larger classes of ships), individual performers in the main lounges on other nights, several two and three-piece bands in the smaller rooms and late night adult comedy. Overall the entertainment was a little better than average. We usually ate breakfast in the Paris lido area, and had lunch and dinner in the main dining rooms. There are two of these called Destiny and Elation. We were assigned to the Elation for the last late seating which was at 8:30pm. We found the found the food tasty, properly presented but it was not adventurous. Salads were the same each night with the same dressings offered. The main courses usually had meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian selections. Assorted cheeses and deserts are offered. Our table was fortunate to have a waiter and assistance that did a very good job, our glasses were always kept full and no mistakes regarding orders occurred during the entire week. Our assistant waiter also did duty in the lido dining room for breakfast. We would sit in his area and he always brought us our English Breakfast Tea without us having to ask. His attention was greatly appreciated, thanks so much Pastika! Our ports of call included Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St Thomas, USVI. Having visited these ports many times in the past they have become like visiting old friends. We tend to do our own thing and do not take the ships excursions. In Nassau the time was limited to six hours so we simply walked the town, did a bit of window shopping and then spent the rest of the time on the ship. In San Juan we visited El Morro, then walked Old San Juan. After lunch we spent the afternoon at Isla Verde, which is a beautiful beach about 15 minutes outside of old San Juan, past the Condado area. We rented beach chairs for $3 each and spent the remainder of the afternoon on a nearly deserted beach. The water was warm, the sun was out, and it was great! That evening before dinner we went to the Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel and had cocktails on an outdoor second floor deck that overlooks the harbor. We returned to the ship for dinner and we sailed at 11:00pm. In St. Thomas we spent the morning at Sapphire Beach, departing before other cruise ship tours arrived. This is a small but beautiful beach with very clear waters and small living coral reefs that can be snorkeled. Beach chairs and snorkel equipment can be rented from the Sapphire Beach Hotel concession and there is a beach side restaurant that serves pretty good sandwiches. Afterward we returned to the ship for lunch and then did the shopping thing in Charlotte Amalie. The last two days of the cruise are spent at sea returning to Miami. The sea days are a favorite and the weather was simply perfect, allowing us maximum time for sunning, swimming or simply relaxing. Even during these days the expected crowds around the swimming pools were not to be found lounge chairs were always available. The one annoying policy that Carnival has is how they handle the beach towels. Very nice logo towels are provided for use at the pools or while ashore. There are left in your room along with strict warnings not to lose them. They are supposed to be exchanged each day for fresh ones but this didn't always happen for us. If you wanted an extra towel around the ship's pool it had to be signed for. Every other line I have been on simply had piles of fresh towels for the taking around the pools, which is a far more convenient arrangement. I can only surmise that towel thefts are a problem for Carnival. Maybe switching to plain ordinary towels for the pool areas would solve the problem. Other than this one minor issue we had nothing to at all to complain about. The ships is very well maintained and the interior is spotlessly clean, probably more so due to the lack of smoking. The non-smoking policy is rigidly enforced so if you think you can smoke and get away with it be warned, you probably can't and getting caught will cost you $250 and being put off at the next port of call. Five passengers on our cruise experienced this first hand. But for the non-smoker there is simply no better environment afloat in which to cruise. Considering the price paid for this cruise we certainly got our monies worth and more. Even more important we liked the ship and the smoke free environment enough to say that we would consider sailing on this ship again. Acerrazub@aol.comNovember 2002 Read Less
Well, here is my review; sorry it has taken me so long to write this, just now getting time to. Day before Embarkation: My family and I flew down to Miami on American Airlines from St. Louis. Security was tight as normal, but ... Read More
Well, here is my review; sorry it has taken me so long to write this, just now getting time to. Day before Embarkation: My family and I flew down to Miami on American Airlines from St. Louis. Security was tight as normal, but wasn't as bad because we had my grandma in a wheelchair, so we went through the metal detectors while my grandma was checked by the portable metal detector. We had 15 bags, so pre-check in was very slow. The flight down was ok except for lots of turbulence. Once we arrived, we had to sit on the tarmac for about an hour; there was an unclaimed bag on one of the planes, so security was very tight after that. While in Miami, we stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay, where we had a very nice view of the port. We went to dinner that night at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. in the Bayside Marketplace. I highly recommend this for dinner, the waitresses are so nice, and they actually sit down at the table with you to take your order, and even give you Forrest Gump trivia while you wait for your food. There are some really interesting shops in the marketplace, so I suggest you stop by. If you find the marketplace, they give you free coupons. Embarkation Day: We pre-registered at 9:00 AM at the hotel, which anyone staying in Miami can do. This made the trip to the port so much easier. We took a van over to the port (5 people, 15 pieces of luggage, we had to have lots of room). We go to the ship around 10:30 and that it took about 20 minutes worth of traffic and fender-benders to get us there. Since we had pre-registered, we drove up to one of the people who took our bags and checked our luggage. He was very kind and helpful. We walked up to the building to go through security, there were hardly any people there. We went through security, which was a very easy process. Since we had already pre-registered, we passed all the lines to register. We went into the big room where you get your Sign and Sail Cards, and received those very easily. We waited about an hour and a half before they said we could board. Since we had my grandma in a wheelchair, we were one of the first people to get our picture taken, and to get on board. We were onboard the ship by 12:45. We walked into the atrium and all I can say is wow! The atrium is one of the most beautiful things I have seen. The walls all had a wood finish on them and from what I hear, they used a lot less neon lights than on some of the other ships. We went straight to our rooms once we got on the ship. We were on the Empress Deck in cabin 170. The cabin space was a lot bigger than I had actually thought. We had three people in our room, and there was still enough space. Our Room Steward's name was CuCu from Haiti, and he was very pleasant throughout our whole trip. He always said hi in the halls, and knew us by name. After unloading our bags, we went up to the Lido Deck for lunch. The Paris Restaurant had very good food for a casual restaurant, and I think the best thing in there I had were the hamburgers. After lunch I went to explore, and I used two way radios to keep in touch with my dad. Motorola T600's are really good radios, there was never any interference with other people talking, and the only place I really couldn't hear too well was in the cabins. The Ship itself: The ship was very nice, actually more than I expected. I'm sure that I didn't see all of it, but I really tried. J . Carnival Boulevard was very nice, and at night I usually spent most of my time on the Lido Deck or in the Rex Disco. The Cafe Ile De France was very nice. They didn't make very good coffee, but their milkshakes and cookies were awesome. I had one every day while we were on the ship. You can easily get lost on the ship. I went the wrong way many times, and even had to search for my room for about half an hour before I asked some where it was. The Normandie Lounge was very poorly designed. If you were up at the top you had to find a seat the very front to watch the shows. I didn't really go to a lot of the bars, but I did go to the Leonardo to watch Karaoke when it was on. The ship had many events for every age group. I'm 15 and I thought some of the ideas were really fun, even though I didn't go to most of them. I was really looking forward to going into the disco after they had the teen scene, but they have really cracked down on security after there was apparently some kind of incident on an earlier cruise with minor getting alcohol. The only nights I was able to get in were the first and last nights. The pizza and ice cream on the ship was very, very good. The weather was pretty bad during our cruise. It rained about 5 of the 7 days we were there. But nevertheless, I worked hard and finally got a tan! I chose not to get into the pools very often, they were salt water, and I don't really care for it. The water slide looked very fun. In all I think I counted 3 pools, and lots of hot tubs. We had late seating in the Destiny Dining Room, and our waiter Joseph from Haiti, and Ilene from Brussels were very nice and by the end of the 2nd night, knew how we wanted our steaks prepared, and what we liked to drink. Niluh, our bar waitress, was very, very nice and always had a Diet Coke waiting for me. Cherry, a bar waitress in the main bar when you walk in, was always nice, and had a smile on her face. By the way, if you drink a lot of soda, get a soda card. You won't be sorry since sodas run 2.50 each. Ports of Call: Cozumel was probably one of the most fun times I have had. I loved trying to get them down on jewelry, and other goods. We went to a store called touch of gold, and looked at more jewelry. We walked down the streets just taking in the sites and looking around. You should really go to the bye bye shop in Cozumel, they had lots of nice souvenirs and larger size t-shirts. We went on the catamaran fury in Cozumel, which was very fun, I highly recommend you do this too. They let you snorkel for 45 minutes on the way to a private beach, and they give you free margaritas, beer, and soda. Everyone had a great time, but it is really hard doing the Electric Slide while on choppy water, everyone was up dancing on the top of the catamaran. In Grand Cayman, I had probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We took a small boat and went snorkeling with stingrays at Stingray City. The stingrays are huge. They are so calm and just come up beside you and let you touch them, and you can feed them too. During the afternoon, we just stopped at a few places around Cayman like the Tortuga Rum Company and Hard Rock Cafe. Hard Rock caught on fire while we were there. I have a nice picture with the Grand Cayman fire department. In Jamaica: We decided against doing Dunn's River Falls, as my parents had already done it, and I wasn't really interested in it. We went to Soni Shopping Center, and people there are REALLY pushy, but it was so fun to get them down to a lower price. My parents went to Margaritavile during the afternoon, and had an awesome time, I opted not to go. Debarkation: We got off the ship by 9:30 AM, we were the first color called. We searched for our limo driver, but there was some kind of security problem, so he was a little late. Our luggage was quite easy to find, surprisingly. I had to go to terminal security because the Paradise was a smoke-free ship, and I had bought a lighter in Grand Cayman. The customs agents came and checked the ship, and collected our claim sheets on the way out. We flew out at 3:30 from Fort Lauderdale. Overall: The cruise was an amazing experience for me, and I realize how fortunate I was to have a chance to go. I had a great time, but I was ready to come home. Just some general tips I have for the trip are BE NICE! There are lines and if you're patient, you will be fine. I actually got to know some people during the wait for food in the buffet line. Be outgoing, say hi to everyone you walk past. I have made some good friends from the cruise that I won't soon forget. Do stuff you normally wouldn't do at home. I sang in Karaoke for the first time, which ended up being very fun. Bigdog874@yahoo.com April, 2003 Read Less
Ok here goes-- please ask me anything I might have forgot--- Pre Cruise Stay Best Western Marina Park $89 for suite( I have pictures if anyone is interested) definitely worth the money- right across from Bayside Marketplace- we ate at ... Read More
Ok here goes-- please ask me anything I might have forgot--- Pre Cruise Stay Best Western Marina Park $89 for suite( I have pictures if anyone is interested) definitely worth the money- right across from Bayside Marketplace- we ate at Bubba Gumps and walked around that night. Cab from Airport(little bit of traffic) $25- very rude non helpful woman cab driver. Next morning Cab to port- great guy- getting on ship was a breeze- but once onboard there was problems with Sign and Sail cards—noone's keys were working—but we were one of first on so wasn't too long of an ordeal for us—but of course feathers got ruffled— Went right on deck to explore—went on spa tour—highly recommend—I won a free treatment—ended up spending 3 days in spa ( LT oxygen facial, manicure and pedicure and ionithermie (won this treatment) will answer any questions about spa—mixed reviews— Cabin E86—great location right outside atrium- room stewardess was amazing- put beds together right away- great personality—towel animals were great---we booked 6a got upgraded to 6D - all for $1000 per person—from what we heard this was a great price—of course had to compare with others on board!!! Dinner- Elation dining room---great table mates—loved our team waiters—ordered numerous dishes each night—became the table joke we all did it— Lido deck/Paris Restaurant—at most breakfasts and lunches here—although we did do dining room once for breakfast and once for lunch—Food on deck was okay—not bad but not great—pizza was a hit almost daily as was the ice cream!!! Dinner in dining room was great -nothing to complain about there—and I did order 2 lobster tails on formal night!!! Played Bingo a few nights—as well as spent time in casino—every person at our table won in the casino on slots—my theory is they are looser than most places because they want you to play for the entire cruise—we won over $500 but of course gave it back over the course of the cruise--- Pictures—took many only bought 2—the weird sizing (6X9) and the backgrounds didn't appeal to us--- Ports—we love to be on the beach and snorkel so we took many recommendations and rather than shop and tour the islands we snorkeled-- St Thomas/St John—went over to Trunk Bay on St john—the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen—highly recommend—the taxi to ferry to taxi did not take long at all—ended up being $15 per person each way—the tour did the same thing but were at the beach with us for such a short time. St Lucia—took the recommended St Lucia Jungle Tour—not thru the cruise ship-- $70 per person with lunch at a resort included—as well as drinks during the trip—I would recommend doing this although we were in port from 11:30- 6 so had to be back by 5:30—we didn't leave till 12:30 due to waiting for one couple—it was supposed to be over 6 hours ended up being around 5 - the late couple -one was crew so he didn't get off till 12:00 which is the reason they were late and then we find out at 4 during lunch that he HAD to be back by 5:30 no matter what so lunch was rushed ride back (1 hour) was stressful—and they were on the side of blaming the tour guide—yet they were an hour late—it didn't ruin the trip but put a damper on the end of it--- All in all—St lucia was beautiful—the tour was on ly 6 of us so I highly recommend—you were in open air jeeps def fun and you get to see most of the island--- Barbados—went to an underwater park that names escapes me right now—not much beach at all but was rated as great snorkeling—it was okay— Martinique—ended up not getting off the ship—I know boo hoo on us—it was 4th port day in a row - we were getting tired and the weather was iffy—it rained in 4 of 5 ports but only for 5 minutes at a time—expect Martinique was the worst so we were glad we were on ship at time--- it was nice to have a semi empty ship although most came back by lunch because it was a French holiday so most things were closed St Martin—we went over to Pinel Island of course for snorkeling ($25 cab ride, $5 water taxi, $60 total for both roundtrip) def worth it—Pinel Island is across from orient bay and many locals go there for holiday—which is was the day we were there—so many local families—def did not cater to the English speaking crowd!!! It was the only place we rented a locker—you leave the key with them—ends up by 4pm we decide to get the stuff—they had closed up shop and the lockers were all unlocked—so much for being safe with our stuff!! I had my new $1000 digital camera so we tried to be careful but should have been more careful on most of the islands we just left it in the bag—thank god nothing happened Overall the cruise was great—we did many of the shows, comedians, loved watching video diary on tv but cant imagine anyone buying it!!! Took a nap everyday (that had to be the best part) Bought soda cards—stopped counting after 50 sodas(wanted to make sure I got my moneys worth—husband thought I was crazy of course—had no problems whatsoever with them—and actually at dinner the bar service woman (Cherry) had a drink waiting for me before I sat down!!-Late dinner 8:30 was amazing—no problems with deck chairs—we are not early risers—usually ate breakfast by 11 and still got chairs by pool—not all days but most—upstairs deck was windy on some days but okay on others— Gala Buffet—we didn't eat at it but I took pictures—def amazing to see--- TIPS—we ended up giving $50 to head waiter, $50 asst waiter,$50 room stewardess and $20 to bar service woman at dinner. Getting off ship-- we were second color called (after early flights) from time color was called to in cab on our way to airport less than 20 minutes!!! I think that is everything—please ask questions because I am sure I forgot tons. Pictures can be viewed on webshots- the Paradise albums are at the end http://community.webshots.com/user/laurawymbs LauraWymbs@aol.comMay 2002 Read Less
Western Itinerary All in our group arrived safely from Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky and were able to get on the ship pretty quickly and without any problems. We arrived at the port around 1:00 pm and embarkation went smoothly - ... Read More
Western Itinerary All in our group arrived safely from Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky and were able to get on the ship pretty quickly and without any problems. We arrived at the port around 1:00 pm and embarkation went smoothly - well almost smooth - my husband and I were being signed in  - the agent kept asking are you sure you are in cabin E94  - we said yes - she continued to check - then checked our names after some time went by and discovered we had been upgraded to a suite - now that is the way to start a cruise! Thanks goes to our wonderful "works magic" agent and Carnival Cruise Lines. We proceeded thru the process of getting our Sign and Sail cards -- picture taking -- all this went very quickly and smoothly.   Carnival has improved on the embarkation process and moves rather quickly. We proceeded to our cabin on Verandah deck -- the cabin was tastefully decorated and offered a bar with a refrigerator  -- TV with VCR - and a balcony!!  A queen size bed and a sofa finished off the nice and roomy cabin. Awaiting also was a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries and candies for our group -- all of our group gathered soon after we boarded with a toast to our cruise, our cruise travel agent and the Carnival Cruise Line agent that provided us this nice "bon voyage" gift. Since our cabin had been changed at the port - all our luggage was a little bit later arriving - we actually had to call the information desk and alert them to the fact that we had change our cabin at port - soon after this we received most of our luggage - later that evening we were able to pick up the smaller bags at the information desk.   Such a minor inconvenience considering the wonderful upgrade we received. Arriving at our table for ten (round) table 153 in the Elation Dining Room - we knew right away we were in for great service at our meals.   Henry and his wait staff were OUTSTANDING - I recommend if you are cruising the Paradise to request this table - we had the early seating at 6:30 PM in the Elation Dining Room - and this time worked perfect for our group - we all agreed that this time was one we hoped we would get on future cruises -- not too early -- and not too late!!!!  The food was prepared very well and was served in a timely manner -- no one at our table had any complaints at all. FYI - the way the two early seating/late seating work -- the Destiny Dining room has the earlier 5:45pm  and then the first late seating -- the Elation Dining room has the 6:30 pm second early seating -- and the second late seating  - I know I was not sure how the 4 dining choices worked prior to sailing. Having cruised the Paradise before, we were familiar with the 2 Las Vegas style shows in the Normandy Lounge and did enjoy seeing them again - we enjoyed the karaoke and the duo of Lucia & Levi in the Leonardo Lounge -- we enjoy live music of any kind and enjoyed all of the other entertainers as well -- our cruise director was quite good and we saw him mixing with the passengers all week and his assistants were very good - (think we will probably see them as cruise directors one of these days in the near future). Ports of Call   Cozumel We took the Fury snorkel trip in the morning -- need I say more -- it was a lot of fun and the crew was quite active with our group - I recommend this excursion highly!   Carlos and Charlies was our afternoon stop and we did stay for hours - fun was had by all there and we all came back with great memories(or blackmail material) according to how you might choose to use those memories LOL.  Our taxi driver must have been on tranquilizers as we must have been loud and he was a very good sport about it - thank goodness a number of our group could speak Spanish! Grand Cayman Captain Marvin was our group choice for Grand Cayman - three different locations included for snorkeling including Stingray City - our group said it was the best snorkeling ever and the crew, price, service was superior!!!  We booked this tour privately as Captain Marvin is not offered thru Carnival excursions - cost was 30.00 per person I think. Ocho Rios This port rated on the bottom of the list for those in our group. However I must say that the port itself was beautiful - it is the safety issue and rudeness of the people there that was disappointing - it was my first time to Jamaica and the first for all in our group- we all decided we hope we would not have this port again in future cruises with Carnival. We had a bad experience with one of the excursion operators that was a boat trip etc. to Dunn's Rivers Fall, Also one of the land tour guides was extremely rude to some in our group to the point one of our group began to cry - so we were not pleased with this port at all. Dunn's River Falls was a must to see and is so beautiful -- the harbor was pretty also - it is a shame that we encountered such rude people and unsafe procedures as I am sure Jamaica would have a lot to offer with it's beauty otherwise. Disembarkation This ran very smoothly for all in our group - no problem 'mon!!! Wrap-up On a scale of 1-10 with one being lowest, we all would rate this cruise a 10+. The Paradise is a great ship and we all would recommend this ship.   We did not encounter any rudeness with the staff and all seemed to want to make it the most FUN SHIP ever! We have already booked another Carnival cruise for the Spirit in Dec 2001, Western Exotic Ports and making final plans for the Spirit in Feb 2002, Eastern Exotic Ports. Since we get great group prices from our agent for our group we can cruise twice a year - once in Dec and once in Feb. every year. This was our 9th cruise with Carnival in about 3 years and we have two more booked now -- needless to say we love sailing Carnival. If any one has questions please contact via email at south324@aol.comFebruary 2001 Read Less
I just came back from the Paradise and it was my first cruise ever, and I LOVED IT!!! I have to say, for being my first cruise, I really enjoyed the Paradise. On the positive side, the ship was extremely clean! The sevice we received from ... Read More
I just came back from the Paradise and it was my first cruise ever, and I LOVED IT!!! I have to say, for being my first cruise, I really enjoyed the Paradise. On the positive side, the ship was extremely clean! The sevice we received from our waiters in the dining room was excellent!! The food was great!! Our cabin steward was wonderful and attentive!! The smoke free atmosphere was GREAT! I can't imagine taking a cruise where I'm surrounded by smoke, yuk! But, I'm sure I will be forced to in the future. Anyway, the overall trip was a marvelous experience. However, I will be critical of some things. I felt the entertainment lacked some humph. The Rex disco was geared toward the teenagers which was OK, if the other lounges such as the Leonardo had had better music. They should have made the Leonardo lounge for the teenagers and the Rex for adults and played better and longer music. The Rex had a better design for dancing than the Leonardo. There were evenings where we were looking for something to do!! And as for Kooshal...well... that's another story. The so called "classes" or "free demonstrations" were all gimmicks for suckers like me to buy buy buy... so, buyer beware. I felt a bit deceived and taken advantage of. And that was not the only time. We signed up for a tour that supposedly was a snorkeling tour. We asked at the information desk if our equipment was included and they said yes. Then when we went to the desk to pick it up, the guy said, "oh, you don't pick up the equipment here, the tour guide will give it to you on the tour." NOT! We got to our tour and no equipment. Sure we could have gotten the equipment, at an additional cost! So, be careful on your so called extra tours!! We paid over $200 in our group for a tour we could have paid $50 if we had done it on our own!!! Research where you want to go before hand and you may save yourself some time and money! Also, the drinks on the ship were VERY expensive, and the alcoholic drinks were somewhat watered down. So be prepared to spend lots for not much! In summary, for being my first cruise ever, in the overall, I had a wonderful time. I would go on the Paradise again, but not before going on other cruise lines to compare. I would recommend the Paradise, but with extreme caution. I do advise you buy the insurance! I heard horror stories of a few that did not, lost their luggage, and spent a miserable time on board! If you don't like being around a lot of smoke and could care less about entertainment, and you are determined to make your own fun and relax, and you do not care much for alcoholic beverages, then this ship is for you! March 2001 Read Less
Embarkation - so quick I was breathless. The only hold up was on the steps just prior to walking onto the ship because a photographer was taking the welcome pictures. Sail and Sign - Both the credit card version and the cash deposit ... Read More
Embarkation - so quick I was breathless. The only hold up was on the steps just prior to walking onto the ship because a photographer was taking the welcome pictures. Sail and Sign - Both the credit card version and the cash deposit version were very simple, easy and convenient. Money Matters - It was very easy to cash travelers' checks and very easy to break large bills into smaller denominations on at Pursers'/Information Desk. Free Goodies - Free decks of cards, post cards of the ship, ship's stationery and pens to be had by asking at the Pursers'/Information Desk. "Dumb" Questions answered 24/7 very nicely by ship staff/crew. Cabin/Stateroom - Category 1a - Roomy, not as worn out as some of the Cat. 4 cabins I peeked into. Comfortable bed, plenty of storage, and nice desk set-up. I walked around the ship and looked into any open door I could and viewed pretty much every level of cabin. I was quite happy with my 12 x 15 space. The bath was exactly the same as every other shower-only one I saw. I liked that the entry door into the room was not between the closet and the loo. I did not need air freshener or a nightlight. A bit of light comes from under the door and if you leave the bathroom light on and close the door that gives a bit of light as well. Steward - Loved him and wanted to bring him home in my luggage. He put ice in my small cooler and was very accommodating. I loved the towel animals. The only cleanliness issue I had with my stateroom was the mildew/mold in the shower grout. We all have it at home, but it is gross to think how many people have showered in that small space. I will take a small, unopened bottle of bleach and clean it myself next time. Stateroom Hallways/Elevator Areas - the carpet needs replaced in many of these areas. Some of the hotel-like hallways are just gross with water stains from what looked like backed up plumbing. I also noticed quite a bit of foot and other odors in some of the public areas, Atrium halls, and the Paris Restaurant where the carpet should be labeled a health hazard. I hope the public areas carpet is up for replacement when the Paradise dry docks in January. Overall Ship Cleanliness - lots of staff going through the motions, but only about half seemed to be putting good effort into their cleaning assignments inside the ship. Outside the ship, I saw folks painting both wood and woodwork very industriously. I also saw a gentleman washing the lounge chairs and he was doing a yeoman's job of it. I felt sorry for this one young man who was scrubbing the cove base in the Paris, but it needed it badly. Also, passengers need to be more responsible for cleaning up their own messes (by the ice cream machine, for instance) and also by not leaving behind dirty plates, glasses, and flatware (in the Paris). We can all carry our plates a few feet to a waiter's station. On-Board Shopping - overall ok. I discovered that one may buy Cruzin Rum in Big Bear for $9.99 a bottle. I purchased it for $7.95 a bottle on board, but had to stand in the Customs line for 45 minutes only to be told I didn't have to when I reached the Customs Official manning the door. So I'll buy Pineapple rum at home from now on. I purchased my water safe, a map, and few scarves for co-workers. Nothing in the shops was name brand, so it was hard to know if it was a deal or not. The fake cocktail rings, loose gemstones, and chains sold by the inch did nothing for me. Ok, I must admit it. I loved the liquor tasting and learned a bit about what I like and don't like in alcohol (and got rather buzzed in the process). Entertainment: Las Vegas Style Shows - enjoyed both Dream Girl and Shout. The dancers earn their pay with the many quick changes and non-stop movement. The production singers were quite good, although a bit mismatched. Dancers that stood out were Roman #1 and Roman #2. They were adorable. Comedy Acts - as a whole salacious, unfunny, mean-spirited, just plain stupid. The only funny comedy moment was when Tony Capone who otherwise was really terrible bent down on one knee to kiss the Captain's "ring." And that wasn't during a show. Music - String quartet, Paradise band were very good. Male country singer (American Bar), piano player Roberta (Destiny Dining Room), and a male/female duo I saw in the Leonardo were just barely acceptable. Activities - I skipped all activities by the Lido Deck pool, so no opinion there. I liked sunning by the kiddie pool at the back of the ship a lot. I liked walking on the Promenade deck. I liked the karaoke and arts and crafts. Bingo, horse racing, and gambling all easy ways to add to Carnival's coffers. I liked playing slots but lost back every quarter I won, which was not very many. Art Auction kind of lame. A word about the Arts & Crafts activities: GO. It is so interesting to get a multicultural, multi-age group of women together. Women talk about the same things everywhere and it is really fun. Food: Lido Deck - embarkation lunch was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy etc. and was strange for a very hot Miami day. The rum cake was good though. I would have preferred a much lighter kind of luncheon buffet. Room Service - ham and cheddar on whole wheat toasted, roast beef and brie on baguette, fruit salad, veggie cruditEs, raspberry danish all yummy. The brownies and cookies were a disappointment. Also, take a pass on the dessert of the day unless it is Chocolate Fantasy. Paris Breakfast - same thing every day. Lots of fruit and raspberry danish, but I missed having a wake-up diet Coke. I also could have used some toasted English muffins drowned in butter and jam. Paris Lunch - amazingly good - lots of choices. Baked potatoes and bbq shredded chicken were great. Paris Dinner - I did not like the hot food choices at all. The food was similar to what was being served in the dining room, but overcooked and ick. The leg of lamb was truly stinky. I usually ended up with salad and pizza or a room service sandwich if I was too lazy to dress for dinner. A baked potato bar would be a cost effective and yummy addition to the Paris. Bread, rolls, fresh fruit, salad bar were all good all the time. Pizza Bar - Go early and go often. The calzones are great! Destiny Dining - quick, somewhat mechanical service by team of two. The starters were usually the high point of my dinner, i.e. shrimp cocktail, seafood salad, pasta as starter, sea scallops, deep fried prawns, pumpkin soup were all excellent. Steaks served first few days were good (NY strip, prime rib, t-bone). Ribeye was soaking in a yucky sauce and the flavor permeated the meat. The crab legs were good. Mashed potatoes were good. Desserts - pretty to look at. Rum cake good. Chocolate fantasy good. Baked Alaska good. I understand from a friend that the bread pudding with vanilla sauce was good. Nothing else was good. Avoid any of the cheesecakes and the Crème Brulee at all costs. Misc Food: The unlimited lemonade was delicious and a high point of each hot return from visiting a port of call. Ice cream was good when I wanted a nosh. I was impressed that real pears were always available. I ate 5 lbs of pineapple and 10 lbs of melon during the voyage. Dressing Up - overrated. Get a pair of black dressy slacks and several sparkly tops and be comfy. Carnival Photo Services - plentiful chances to get pictures taken and the photographers really work hard to show you in your best light, changing poses and taking 3 or 4 shots. Pictures are very expensive $21.95 for 8 x 10 that you must buy in order to get any 5 x 7's @ $9.95 or wallets 4 for $5. I was a bit disappointed. On the other hand 24-hour photo developing at $8.88 for double prints was excellent. Ports of Call: Cartagena, Columbia - a surprise and the showstopper for me. I loved meeting real people and really enjoyed the bus tour, even though it was hot as Hades and all manner of folk were hawking all manner of goods. The sellers wanted our business, but it wasn't uncomfortably touristy. Driving on the city's streets was a hoot with everyone doing their own thing. Four busses abreast all trying to get through the same small space. I would have liked to tour the Fort and definitely want to return to the City. Colon, Panama - not as jaw-dropping as I expected. Everything was pleasant, but since I had already done my homework about the Canal, I didn't care to go for a live history lesson. I still would like to experience transiting the Canal on a cruise ship and will return for that. Aruba - I liked the excursion to De Palm Island for snorkeling. I had researched the operator fully and got a free t-shirt because I took a coupon I had printed from their website. I didn't like that the water was full of fish poop. I thought snorkeling was supposed to be in crystal clear water. This was more what I thought scuba might be like with murky water. The blue parrotfish were awesome as were many of the smaller varieties. The coral was a total disappointment because it was just like brown rocks. I wore my sneakers in the water and I was glad since it was so rocky. The lagoon in front was awesome. I enjoyed the ride through town and the ferry ride to the island. The chicken satay was quite good and I was shocked at all the free booze. The drinks were strong! I want to return to Aruba for a longer period of time as well. Costa Rica - Rios Tropicales (RT) White Water Rafting on the Florida section of the Reventazon River with Class 3+ rapids. I had researched Rios Tropicales fully and they have a really excellent reputation in Costa Rica and among all the cruise lines who offer rafting in CR. However, I will be sending them a detailed letter and copying Carnival Corporate. There are definite comfort and safety issues that must be addressed, as you will see below. To begin: Cushy tourist buses picked us up at the Port. There were two busloads of Paradise passengers and one of ship's crew. A 75-minute bus ride was filled with cultural and safety information. We all filled out our waivers and a tour guide/rafting guide gave us a bit of CR history and began preparing us to be safe on the river. We drove to RT HQ and had a chance to change, purchase last minute necessities and visit the loo. Then we were taken to what was described as a "pleasant ½ mile walk." Ha Bloody Ha. The grade was 7 to 10 percent of shifty unlevel rocks that might slide under your feet at any moment. Temps were extreme for typically overweight American tourists. The high level of activity and effort was supposed to be on the River, not on the walk to get to the river. The tour guide/rafting guide on the bus claimed that buses couldn't travel the steep grade and bumpy last bit. It is true that the big cushy buses could not. However, trucks were doing it just fine. I would not have minded being on a rickety small bus or even herded like cattle on one of the trucks. I had five 16 oz bottles of water and I drank four of them on the way down the track. Thank God I had my sneakers. I cannot imagine the damage to peoples' feet who were just wearing their water shoes. If I had not flagged a commercial truck down and sobbed until the three guys in the front seat agreed to bring me the rest of the way, I would still be sitting by the side of the road. Two of the guys moved to the back of the truck after helping me in. I gave the guy $5 for having mercy on me. We were on our own to find and correctly fit our life jackets. After getting our personal equipment on, we ended up standing around in the hot, hot sun for over an hour while the guides got organized. Nothing was ready up front. The guides were inflating the rafts as fast as they could. Getting assigned to a raft was also a long drawn out ordeal. Standing in the sun in the smelly equipment was just a joy. Then we had the requisite safety talk from our guide (the most important person in our lives for that afternoon). I have never experienced a rafting trip quite like that one before. I like technical rapids and love sitting in the first seat. But the combo of serious dehydration and trying to overcome heat exhaustion, I am just glad I managed to stay in the raft. The take-out sucked pretty good too. The challenge: scale a 5-foot high embankment on rubbery legs on wet slippery muddy rocks. Two guys helped me. I don't know who they were, but I am eternally thankful. I could not believe they put us back on that cushy bus as wet and filthy as we were. Our guide said that we were running late and could not return to RT HQ to look at the pictures and change. The photographer was not prepared to sell pictures in the bus. I purchased the entire CD with cash by giving him my home address and email address. Hopefully they will arrive sometime. These are the changes that need to be made ASAP: 1) transport all rafters down to the put in point on the river; 2) provide cold drinking water on bus (even if we have to pay for it, although for $89, they could afford to give us a couple bottles); 3) have guides help guests choose and put on equipment; 4) have rafts ready to go when guests arrive; 5) provide bottled water and insist that guests drink it during calm parts of raft trip; 6) Change the take-out spot to a flat area where it is simple to disembark; 7) plan time better so that guests can return to RT HQ and clean up and refresh themselves; 8) if situations similar to the one that occurred with us, send an email confirming our picture order. Nassau, Bahamas - I enjoyed the walk through the shopping district. I like being able to go into some of the historical buildings. I like the $1.25 for a liter of cold bottled water at the liquor store. I did not like the straw market at all. The sellers were too pushy, too many, too expensive, and the experience was so overwhelming I immediately got a headache and needed to walk away. I want to return to see all the other things Nassau has to offer. The fact that people offered tours on the dock for $30 and people offered the same tours for $20 later on the sidewalk confused me. I also did not like all the hair braiders insisting that they could braid my short hair. The large linens shop was great. A sales clerk at the British Import shop that sells the 60-inch wide cotton Baltic-style fabric ($16 yd) was quite rude to me when I asked if they carried plus sizes. I told the chickie that I had lots of money to spend and that she wasn't going to enjoy the commission on any of it, EVER. Shopping at the Ports of Call - Carnival has this thing called the Buyer's Guarantee that covers purchases made on ship and at their approved stores. If I were to buy something really expensive, like watches, jewelry, electronics, name-brand leather etc, I would use their stores. For general souvenirs, trinkets, rayon vacation clothing and t-shirts I suggest looking for the best price. Debarkation: Customs - we were told that if we had more than the allowed amount of alcohol to go and declare it. I stood in a 45 minute line to be told at the door by a Customs official that he didn't need to see me. Waiting for our Color to be Called - nice that we could stay in our cabin until 9:30 a.m. When color was called, it was a long long line to get off the ship and people were really cranky. Immigration - piece of cake. A customs dog sniffed us and that was interesting. I am afraid of steep escalators and very nice Carnival staffers directed me to elevators as needed and were very nice. Finding luggage - hot and overwhelming. I thought our bags were identified quite well and it was still difficult to find them. Turning in our Customs Declaration - they didn't even look at it. Transportation to Airport - we had not prearranged private transport and a guy outside hooked us up quickly with a service. Overall - Carnival Rocks and I am already planning my next cruise. jojocat295@ameritech.net December 2002 Read Less
Being first-time cruisers, I can definitely say that we were impressed with Carnival Paradise! We couldn't have chosen a better way to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Now we are hooked! We booked our own flight and arrived a day ... Read More
Being first-time cruisers, I can definitely say that we were impressed with Carnival Paradise! We couldn't have chosen a better way to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Now we are hooked! We booked our own flight and arrived a day early in Miami, staying overnight at the Wyndham Hotel in Biscayne Bay. We found the hotel on the Internet; room was $79 (Internet special). The hotel stay was fine, as was our shopping at Bayside, which was just a tram ride away from the hotel. Area around the hotel was somewhat dirty, and we noticed many vacant buildings. EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION After taking a taxi from the hotel, we unloaded right in front of the building for the Paradise. The porters quickly grabbed our bags. The wait in line was not too bad, approximately 30 min, then you have to get in another line to get your sail & sign cards, then another line to go to the ship. Seems like it could have been streamlined a little better by Carnival. Maybe one less line. However, it still was not a bad wait. Debarkation wait was about 1 1/2 hrs, which seems comparable to everyone else's experience that we have been reading. No problems getting to or finding our luggage. We were in a taxi within 10 minutes of leaving the ship. After being welcomed aboard by smiling staff, we were standing in the atrium gazing at its splendor. This is a beautiful ship, and is kept very clean. I could hardly notice the motion of the ship unless I was looking out a window. Very stable! We found our room, ate lunch on the Lido deck, then walked around checking out the rest of the ship until it was time to sail away. We had a yelling contest with the ship Destiny as they passed us on their way out to sea. (they would be rerouted and meet us in Cozumel because of Floyd). This got the crowd lightened up a lot. Seems like it took us a day or two to leave work and worry behind and enjoy ourselves but Troy Linton, cruise director, helped that along. As soon as we set sail (about 2 hours late) it was back to our cabin to get ready for dinner, which was first seating in the elation dining room. Our luggage was finally at our room so we could change for dinner. We met our room steward Richard, who would do an outstanding job keeping our room neat and clean. DINING / FOOD The meals in the dining room were all superb, as was the service we received from Charlie our waiter, and Raphael our busboy. They both did an impressive job. The maitre'd and headwaiter were both friendly and cordial. We ate in the dining room every night including the night we were in Cozumel until midnight. The dress was resort casual but I was wishing that I had taken more sundresses. I found myself one short. No one wore shorts in the dining room just as it was unusual to see anyone in the Paris restaurant without a swimsuit cover-up. There were exactly 4 places to eat on the ship. The Elation dining room (which we were assigned to, table 164), the Destiny dining room, the Lido deck (buffet in the center of the ship usually serving breakfast, lunch, supper and special events like the Fiesta Party) and the Paris Restaurant, also a buffet usually serving the same as the Lido deck with some extras like ice cream, dessert, etc. The Paris was also where the 24-hour pizzeria was located. They made all pizzas that they had on display but sometimes we had to ask for something that wasn't out. Sometimes I felt a little bit of a language barrier on the ship especially with those taking an order in the Paris. I figured out that if they just smiled and nodded when you ask for something, that meant that they understood only 4 words, veggie, pepperoni, cheese or salad! One thing that really disappointed us was that the fresh squeezed orange juice machine was broken. We spent quite a bit of time finding someone who knew what we were talking about and when we finally did, our dreams of waking up and getting a glass of that juice went out to sea. The experience of being served like royalty in the dining room made up for it. I only tasted one thing that I didn't like and it really wasn't that bad. If you are 100% vegan, you will not likely find a main course that doesn't have cheese. However, with very little creativity you will be able to order from beautiful and delicious appetizers and salads to create a complete protein and balanced meal. If you just like veggie stuff like us, you must order the vegetarian lasagna the night it is offered. We found everything was cooked to perfection, which was amazing considering the number of people served. My favorite dessert was the tiramisu. Absolutely perfect. Except for those great desserts, we like to eat healthy and found that it was easy to do. There are very few restaurants that offer the variety of fruits and vegetables that we found on the ship. And there was always a supply somewhere available for snacking so no excuses for gaining 10 lbs. on our cruise! In the Paris restaurant, the salad bar bowls were more like serving bowls. There was just about every kind of fruit and vegetable you could imagine. We were given the privilege of sitting with the BEST table companions on the ship! Hi to Alanna & Doug, Ray & Irma and Jamey & Lisa! You made our trip more enjoyable! Keep in touch! THE SHIP We cannot say enough great things about this ship. It was nice to see all of the cleaning and maintenance provided to it while on the cruise. Each time we docked at a port, workers could be seen painting the outside of the ship! Every morning while walking around, it looked like everything was neat and in it's place. Of course, the best part of all is that the ship is smoke free! Kudos to Carnival for being the first in the industry to implement this. We hope that other cruise lines will follow! The shops on board are very small but we were surprised to find a few things that we needed. We were told to take bug spray to Cozumel by the cruise director and since 2000 other people heard him say that, they were out. But we did find nail polish remover and emery boards! We were very pleased with the pictures taken by the Carnival photographers. They even showed up at Dunn's River Falls and got us sitting under the falls! We spent about $140 on pictures. It was $19.95 for 8x10's and 6x9's were 2 for $15 if I remember right. They had all the pictures in a long hall and you got to look for yourselves. The cruise director said he heard that someone asked how she was supposed to know which ones were hers. Hmmm... The beds were uncomfortable but we can't complain since we didn't mention it to anyone to know whether there was a solution to that problem. We asked to have them pushed together but they were still made up separately. This ship is the only place I have ever been where young children were allowed to be in a lounge late at night. I am not sure how I feel about that but I don't think that I would do it. Particularly since children can be sound asleep with ship child care for only $5/hr. giving Mom and Dad two free arms to wrap around each other. We were always able to find a chair on one of the decks without any problem. They may not have been right next to the pool but who wants to sit that close anyway? ENTERTAINMENT We took the suggestion of other opinion writers and sought out the group "Bestsellers" who played in the Queen Mary lounge. We immediately became Bestseller groupies! We set out to tell everyone we met about them. They made every night of dancing so enjoyable! The lead singer even sat down and chatted with us while on his break! He and his wife are terrific singers. We think Carnival should advertise more for this band! They were awesome! Go see them! We found the after dinner shows in the Normandie to be O.K. If you don't sit on the main floor in the Normandie you will not get a good seat because of all the poles & equipment that are in the way. If you absolutely must see the show, spend about 45 minutes of your evening guarding your seats before the show. The band that played on the Lido deck while at sea set the mood for the day out on the deck. Lay out and listen to reggae! We found the game show and the newlywed/not so newlywed game to be very funny. Troy Linton was indeed a quick-witted host! We enjoyed him very much! PORTS OF CALL COZUMEL/PLAYA DEL CARMEN It was very hot and humid in Mexico. We decided not to book an excursion offered by Carnival, choosing rather to wing it on our own. After taking a cab to town for $5, we purchased tickets to take the ferry to Playa Del Carmen on the mainland. It did take us a while to figure out how to do all of this, but we found the cab drivers to be very helpful! (and polite!). From Playa Del Carmen we bartered with a cab driver to take us to the ruins of Tulum and back for $45. The cab ride took about 40 minutes (going 140 km/h!) and he agreed to wait for us while we walked around the ruins. Tulum was very pretty and we got many scenic pictures. After an hour and a half, we were ready to go back to the ferry. On the return cab ride we noticed it started to cloud up outside. By the time we arrived back to the ferry, it had started to rain. Then it REALLY started to rain. We had to wait about an hour for the ferry to arrive because they stopped running due to the storm. It eventually cleared up and we caught the ferry back to Cozumel. We took a cab back to the ship so we could eat dinner and change clothes. After dinner, we headed back in to town for our night out. We visited the world famoso Carlos & Charlies and slugged down a few. We found the crowd entertaining, but a little too wild for us. We were afraid we might forget to go back to the ship if we stayed there too long! It was a fun place though! We left there and walked around doing some browsing at the various shops in town. We found the shops in Mexico to be more pushy and desperate to sell than any other port. The people just did not seem friendly except for the cabbies! Our impression of Mexico is that it is a depressed country and not very clean. Seemed like there were quite a few stray dogs around. We hope next time to look for more of the positive aspects of this country. GRAND CAYMAN We decided not to be as brave in this next port of call and booked the Stingray City and Island tour. After a brief stop in Hell, (it wasn't that bad) we went to the turtle farm. It was interesting to learn about the different kinds of turtles and to actually pick one up! These things can get really big! Neat place! Another brief bus ride took us to a ferry where we were taken a mile off shore to the sandbar where the stingrays hang out. We could hear the screams from the people as we approached. Once in the water, you were able to feed and handle these creatures if you chose to. This was a great experience for us. We took a lot of underwater pictures of the stingrays. Those of you traveling with children should not pass up a chance to swim with the rays. We were only in the water about 30 minutes when a storm approached and were ferried back to the bus. From there, we were driven back to the pier and we decided to walk around town and find a place to eat lunch that served good local cuisine. With the help of our trusty guide (and dinner compadre) Doug, we found an out of the way place that offered what we were looking for. We woofed down our food like we hadn't eaten all day! Back outside, it started to rain. We walked around town anyway, checking out the shops (next time I will buy that diamond ring for her!) Because of the rain, there was a long line for the ferry back to the boat. We needed more time in Grand Cayman! JAMAICA Jamaica would prove to be the best port for us. We booked the Mountain to Sea bike adventure and just loved it! We were bused to the top of a mountain (900 ft up) and were given mountain bikes and helmets. The scenery was awesome! Great pictures! A word of caution though: the ride was mostly downhill, riding on dirt/gravel roads and through dry riverbeds. Unless you are in somewhat decent shape and can squeeze brakes for 2 hours, you may think twice about this excursion. My wife, who is in shape, took a spill on the gravel and got banged up pretty good. An x-ray at home on her swollen elbow showed no break though. We descended back to the polo club, and got to go snorkeling in the cove at the rear of the farm. It felt really good after the bike ride! We would book this tour again! After a bus ride back to the pier, we were told that the bus could take us to Dunns River Falls for another $5 a person which was a better price than a cab, so we were on our way. The ticket booth at the falls was inept. We had to wait about 10 minutes for them to find American money to make change with. Don't they deal with tourists every day?? Oh well. The falls were neat. The water was cold and strangely not salty. There were definitely too many people there, however, we still enjoyed the climb. You will get soaked, so wear appropriate attire. SUMMARY We were sad when the cruise had to end. It was a great time and the ship was everything and more than we expected. We look forward to our next one and hope it is just as enjoyable. If there are no other cruise lines offering smoke free ships with different itineraries, we will be booking with Carnival Paradise again! Probably the Eastern Caribbean. Next time maybe we will even take the kids! We will have many fond memories of this vacation. geng1@gosupertech.com March 2001 Read Less
My review of Carnival Paradise on April 6th, 2003 sailing of the Exotic Western Caribbean... Overall, we enjoyed this non-smoking cruise. I loved not smelling like smoke after exiting the casino or the bars. The room stewards and the ... Read More
My review of Carnival Paradise on April 6th, 2003 sailing of the Exotic Western Caribbean... Overall, we enjoyed this non-smoking cruise. I loved not smelling like smoke after exiting the casino or the bars. The room stewards and the dining service were wonderful. There are lots of activities for all types of people. We even experienced some excitement when our ship turned around to check on a boat floating in the middle of nowhere. I was upset that they did the drill as we sailed from Miami. I lost my chance to video tape the departure. The first couple of days were a bit bumpy, but not too many people were affected. My biggest disappointment was the food, although the sushi rolls were good. There were a lot of older kids running loose around the boat. Many of which were running up & down the halls. They closed the pool kind of early, too. Belize and Roatan are 2 fairly new ports. They are not commercialized like Cozumel. I highly recommend buying a shore excursion to see the beautiful parts of these ports, since the areas at and around the port are very third world. For Belize, we purchased Carnival's Cave Tubing and Rain Forest Exploration excursion. It was a great experience. They will provide tubes, life jackets, and lunch. It does require good physical health and good shoes. It started off with a bus ride (with AC) through Belize City to the rain forest. Our host gave a wonderful tour & talk of the areas that we passed through. Next, we walked about 40 minutes through the jungle carrying our tubes. Insect repellant is a must have! I was ready for the cool water by the time we reached the river. The tour took us through a cave system and we ended up close to where we started. After the excursion, we went to many of the port shops. There weren't any great deals, but you can get prescription items over the counter at the pharmacy. Be careful in some shops, we found that many items (i.e. Silver) were also sold in Cozumel for less money. For Roatan, we purchased the Horseback Riding excursion, which was also well worth the money. They took us along a private beach and some of the richest areas of the island. We also saw some volcanic rock formations along the coastline. This is a very beautiful island. After the excursion, we hired the taxi driver that returned us to port to take us to West End Village. This village is mainly a dive and snorkel community with a few shops and dining places. We also stopped at a grocery store where we purchased 2 bottles of Nicaraguan Rum, 3 sodas and a candy bar for $12 US. For Grand Cayman, we purchased the Reef and Wreck Snorkel excursion. I do NOT recommend this one. I experienced better snorkeling in Cancun. Grand Cayman is a clean island. There are lots of expensive stores and banks here. We ate some delicious Jamaican Patties at the Tortuga Factory Store for only $1.50. In Cozumel, we did some shopping at the port and in downtown. We were able to negotiate some good deals. Be aware of some of the stores - they will rip you off! Shop around, if time permits. Drinking is cheap here. I noticed lots of happy drunks on board. If you are non-smoker and want a good bargain, then you would probably enjoy this cruise. alexnita@netzero.com July 2003 Read Less
It's been a week since we returned from our [June 2000] cruise aboard the Paradise, and I'm finally ready to summarize our experiences for those of you who, like me, appreciate a bit of information about the cruise they are ... Read More
It's been a week since we returned from our [June 2000] cruise aboard the Paradise, and I'm finally ready to summarize our experiences for those of you who, like me, appreciate a bit of information about the cruise they are contemplating. We've traveled twice before on Carnival vessels, and chose the Paradise after seriously scrutinizing RCI ships. However, the non-smoking aspect sold us. And, to that end, we were not disappointed. However, this ship is more than just a great place to breathe! It was a fantastic cruise experience, from start to finish. We left home (Wisconsin) a day early, and enjoyed a relaxing evening in Miami, touring Bayside, and watching the ships in port from our balconied window of the Sheraton. We were especially glad to have chosen the Sheraton when, on Sunday morning, we discovered (between the hours of 9 and 11am) a Carnival agent who was able to process our boarding information, saving us time and energy at the port. She was pleasant and efficient, (we were a group of two families, ten people total) quickly handling our paperwork. This service is available to anyone sailing Carnival, not just those travelers who have purchased transfers with Carnival. From the Sheraton, we took a 5 minute cab ride to the pier, and in a light drizzle, carried our own luggage to the terminal (our choice). Little side note here-since our group consisted of 10 people, adults and teenagers, we opted to split up and take 3 cabs to the pier...our three fares differed by as much as $3, and the driver who took 3 of our teens hassled them loudly for not tipping enough-and theirs was the highest fare! That poor start was immediately eliminated when a gentleman (who, we learned, has a van service) approached us and asked if he might pick us up the following week, after our cruise, to return to the airport. His quoted fare was very reasonable, he asked for no money upfront (which we would have refused) and indeed, he was waiting for us when we disembarked in Miami a week later. For a large group, such as ours, this was perfect! On to the ship! We bypassed the Skipper's Club, available for us as Cat. 12 travelers, since it was only 11:30, and no one was boarding yet. We spent about 3 minutes, going through security, picking up our Sail and Sign cards, and then waited very comfortably for embarkation to begin. About 12:15, we starting boarding, and by 12:30, we had found our suites, and starting settling in. What rooms! The closet space was tremendous, and the balcony was wonderful! While the suite itself is about as large as a standard hotel room, compared to the inside rooms we had taken in the past, this was ecstasy (no ship-pun intended). We then explored the ship, and sought out the Paris restaurant, on the Lido deck, for embarkation lunch. And, while other reviews I've read speak of good food, or poor food, I'm going to tell you exactly what the food was like, so you can decide if it reaches your epicurean standards. I might add, as a former cooking instructor and amateur gourmet, I was pretty critical. However, we were not disappointed. From one meal to the next, food on the Paradise ranged from very good to incredibly delicious. And, even when we tasted something that was not stellar, other choices were available. That first lunch in the Paris was fantastic, although the desserts failed to hit the mark. The buffet consisted of beef bourguignonne, (deliciously tender, with large pieces of onions and mushrooms) chicken breasts wrapped around a spinach and cheese filling (even the kids loved them!) and carved turkey breast. Side dishes included crisply sauteed vegetables, rice, and stuffing. There was a huge salad bar, with one nice addition since our last cruise-larger individual serving bowls, so one didn't have to worry about skimping on the salad choices. The pizzeria was busy, turning out that delicious pizza everyone raves about. I learned what makes this pizza so great-it's the crust, which is light, tender, and fluffy. They use plenty of toppings and cheese as well, and serve it in large, hot slices. The grill, directly outside of the Paris, and near the pool, was preparing hamburgers and French fries, which smelled delicious, although we didn't sample any until later in the week. As for the desserts, suffice it to say we tasted more wonderful sweets throughout the rest of our cruise, but that day, the Baba au rum was flavorless, and the blueberry cheesecake had an unusual rubbery texture. Strolling about the Paradise, we saw many of our fellow cruisers for the upcoming week, and I was struck by what a courteous, well-mannered group they seemed to be, including the children. In fact, aside from the rare child running around, families with children seemed to be keeping their charges under control very nicely. There was exuberance on the decks and around the pool, of course, but most of the time, the various age groups at Camp Carnival seemed to be having a wonderful, yet non-intrusive time. And how did our teenagers fare? The first night teen-mixer, held in the Rex lounge, helped them meet other teens aboard the ship, but, then again, they had each other for company. We NEVER encountered any youngsters who appeared to be drinking, and, in fact, never witnessed any adult out of control. This cruise reminded me of our holidays at Walt Disney World, where vacations are family oriented, not a bacchanalian adventure. And, lest one think this was a ship full of stuffed shirts, people were definitely partying. However, they were not imposing themselves upon others. The atmosphere was pleasantly festive, and relaxing. Throughout the week, we enjoyed the entertainment by the staff, including the two musical reviews, Dream Voyage and Shout!, as well as the talents of the various onboard entertainers. In particular, the string trio in the atrium was wonderful, as was Mark, the piano player. The entertainers brought aboard included Al Ernst (a very funny comedian) Lubo and Lucy, (a balancing act, which will remind any 'boomers out there of the old Ed Sullivan shows) Tia Thompson, who is NOT to be missed, and Manual Zuniga (even if you've seen him before, don't miss this funny, and fantastic, juggler). The cruise director himself, Larry Garlutzo, is a talented entertainer, which spoke volumes about the quality of the cruise. We appreciated his slightly PG humor, and our teenagers found him hilarious (that's saying a lot). Unfortunately, the Normandie lounge cannot afford everyone a great view of the stage, so arriving early for any and all entertainment is recommended, while saving seats is rude and NOT recommended. Compared to our other cruises, it seems the Normandie was more often crowded, which seems reflective of our fellow travelers on the Paradise; we all desired to see the shows and entertainers. Try to avoid the back row bar stools, which are too close to the ceiling, and have very poor sight lines to the stage. Our meals were served in the Elation dining room, by Cuthbert from St. Vincent (he preferred to be called Steven) and Lavinia, a young lady from Romania and the only female assistant waiter in the Elation dining room. Marino was our head waiter, and Francesco the maitre'd Both were attentive all week, and certainly had the staff's performance well-polished; our service all week was quick and attentive. We noticed a wonderful change in the choices on the menus, though the breakfasts remain the same (yet varied enough) as they were years ago. If you are not a foodie, you may want to skip the remaining paragraph, as I recall some of our repasts, with delicious detail! We were served appetizers of smoked salmon, (with a tiny dab of tasty caviar!) pepperpot soup, (very good) chicken satay, (peanut sauce, quite wonderful) wild mushroom soup, (one of the best I've ever had) shrimp cocktail, (large tails, sweet, succulent) tropical fruit and berries, (sweet, light) pumpkin soup, (unusual taste, delicious) smoked duck breast, (the teen that ordered it loved it) French onion soup, (with plenty of melted cheese and toast baked onto it!) langoustine etouffee, (spicy and wonderful) and marinated grilled mushrooms, (I died and went to heaven!). The salads were typical restaurant-type salads, and the portion was adequate. Entrees included lamb chops, (perfectly done, juicy, delicious) grilled steaks, (again, perfectly done, tender, great beef taste) sweet and sour shrimp, (huge shrimp, lightly tempura battered) roasted prime rib, (always perfect, with waiter-served au jus and horseradish, enjoyed it two different evenings) lobster tail, (ahh, wonderful, sweet, succulent) shrimp and leeks in chardonnay sauce, (the single BEST thing I ate all week...I still dream of it) beef Wellington, (teens all loved it, even after learning it had goose liver mousse on it) veal parmesan, (two large pieces, delicious and rich) and seafood mornay, (caused some serious moaning around the table!). Basically, every menu had a beef choice, a poultry choice, a seafood or fish choice, a vegetarian choice, and a pasta, which you could order as an appetizer. One of our children is a vegetarian, and she typically ordered the vegetarian entree, but did not care for many of them, saying they were tasteless, or too spicy in some cases. Often, she would enjoy the pasta of the day, picking out the meat, if included. She also ordered vegetables on the side, choosing from those which were offered with the various entrees. On that matter, while I enjoyed the main courses, I must add that the side dishes, such as risotto, steamed or sauteed vegetables, baked potatoes, or other starches, were delicious accompaniments, not afterthoughts. We ordered multiple entrees or appetizers, and sampled the various dishes, however, our astute waiter frequently noticed our enjoyment of a particular dish, and brought us an additional serving! And, lest I end this verbal feast without mention of the last (and best!) course, the desserts in the dining room were exquisite! We had grand marnier souffle, passion fruit indulgence, guave-cheese napoleon, German chocolate cake, lemon cake, tiramisu, hazelnut creme brulee, chocolate mousse, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate eclairs, apple pie, and coconut cake, to name but a few of the sinful treats. Fortunately, following the embarkation buffet, we never encountered another dessert that wasn't wonderful! Like the entrees, we would recommend ordering several choices, and sharing them...and if you're lucky enough to have a waiter like Steven, he'll notice which ones you love, and bring you more! One evening, we missed our early seating dinner, (we were exploring San Juan) and later had casual dinner in the Paris restaurant. The meal of mushroom tortellini, prime rib, sauteed summer squash, rice and beans, and tofu in black bean sauce was delicious, and though it was buffet food, it could easily have been served by a waiter, and no one would have thought it less tasty. And, recall that during this time, we could also have chosen from six to eight different types of pizza, and a full salad bar, not to mention room service, including an awesome shrimp sandwich, and spectacular fudgy brownies. In a word, the food on Paradise was terrific! Our itinerary was Eastern Caribbean, and I'll spare you the details, but will say that we had a wonderful three days at four very different islands, and having done our homework before we left home, we did exactly what we wanted to do, saved money instead of buying the ship's tours, and had a blast! If anyone would like, I am willing to email details of our time in San Juan, Virgin Gorda, St. Thomas, and St. John. We enjoyed historical sites, snorkeling, beautiful beaches, shopping, and island touring. The week ended, and we had to leave the beautiful Paradise, but we will certainly return, since this vacation was one of the best we've ever shared. Some final thoughts: -We booked this cruise through our local travel agent, and would do so again, since: 1) she got us a great rate to start with on our Cat. 12 suites, and 2) whenever the price would drop at the Carnival online site, she would call, reducing our rate to BELOW the lowest rate, which was fantastic (in all, we experienced four price reductions for passengers 1 & 2, and one reduction for passengers 3, 4, & 5). -We would love any cabin on the Paradise, but the suite was the best--great location, little motion, larger bathroom, and a refrigerator, which we found handy for cold drinks. -We would order MORE drink tickets, since they were never refused, at any bar, even for the more expensive drinks, such as Pina Coladas, Mudslides, and Miami Vices, which are $4.50, plus 15% gratuity. -We would take advantage of the tuxedo rental again, as we did for our sons, to avoid carrying formal wear on/off the ship--and, they looked like Prom night in our formal pictures! My husband also wore his tuxedo, and I enjoyed my time with three very handsome men! -I would have more photographs taken by the ship's staff, since they turned out so well, and are beautiful memories of our special moments. The photographers are so much less pushy than I recalled on our former cruises, and instead, you go to them, as they are set up all over the ship, with different backgrounds. Whew! That was a long review, but I had fun remembering our time aboard the Paradise. If anyone wants further information, please email, and if you are sailing in the near future on this cruise, prepare for the time of your life! Read Less
We just returned yesterday from our March 25th Cruise aboard the Paradise! And it was just that. I guess I will start at the beginning. We left our home around 6am Saturday Morning and flew down to Fort Lauderdale via Spirit Airlines. I ... Read More
We just returned yesterday from our March 25th Cruise aboard the Paradise! And it was just that. I guess I will start at the beginning. We left our home around 6am Saturday Morning and flew down to Fort Lauderdale via Spirit Airlines. I must say that they did a fantastic job! Our flights went smooth and were on time. What more can you ask for. Upon arrival at Fort Lauderdale I had reserved a car to drive to Miami from Avis. This was the part that didn't go so smooth. They had one girl processing rentals and I waited in line for almost an hour. Anyway got the car (Chevy Malibu-$56.00 with all taxes) and started our way to Miami. I had reserved a bay view room from the Best Western Marina Park hotel. This was a great move thanks to some of you guys on Cruise Critic's boards. It is located right across from Bayside Market-Place and a very short ride to the pier. I took a picture from the 6th floor to give you an idea of what it is you will see, (see photo-link at bottom). The room was basic yet clean, perfect for a one night stay-over. During the day Saturday took a ride out to South beach, it was very nice and saw the Saturday ships leaving Miami. That night we ate dinner at Bubba-Gumps, (another tip form these boards) and that was just as good! Walked around Bayside before returning to our room for the night. Sunday Morning, checked out and drove up to Denny's, I believe around 35th street and Biscayne. Stopped at Walgreens on the way back to pick up some last minute items, soda, water, snacks, cooler, etc. Went to the pier, dropped wife and son off at the ship and took rental car back to Avis right at the port. Problem #2. A lot of people were returning cars as they were doing the same thing as we were. Waited in line again almost an hour waiting to return their car. Finally took their shuttle over to the ship and started the Embarkation project. My nerves were a little rattled at this time due to Avis, however Carnival and the guys on the pier did an excellent job of finalizing our luggage and our tickets. There was no line and I would have to say that the whole inside process didn't take 15 minutes. Finally we arrive at cabin E-46. Upon entering the ship, the Atrium is magnificent. Everything was very clean and organized. Threw our carryon's in the room and went up to the Lido deck. Ate lunch and my son went swimming. Spent Sunday afternoon pretty much exploring around. About 4 PM the muster drill started and was over by 4:20, a necessary evil. The only thing that could be improved is they give the children green bracelets, the kind that they give you in a hospital. It has what muster station they are to go to in case they are separated from you in time of Emergency. It's a great idea, however after about 2 days the bracelet starts to irritate the kids arms. By the end of the cruise hardly any of the kids had them on.At about 5 PM we started to sail away. They scheduled the parents meeting for Camp Carnival at this same time, so we kind of missed the festivities of pulling away. But the meeting is very informative. If you have children going you should attend. I thought they did an excellent job with my son. We had dinner in the Elation dining room and our waiter's name was Julius Caesar, I will never forget that name. He had two assistants, Sunny and Eldonso. They seemed to work very well together. I drink ice tea, so the first night I asked for it and every other night it was automatic. Monday was a sea day, just laid by the pool drinking Miami Vice's. It was a very nice day. That night was a formal night with lobster tail on the menu. It was pretty good. I should have ordered another but I didn't. Tuesday we arrived at Cozumel. I reserved a jeep from Avis but Avis was not at the same pier we docked at. They were about a 1/2 mile away. So I rented a Geo Tracker from Executive Car Rental. It was a little more costly than I would have liked because I bought the extra insurance. I didn't want any problems. Also they wanted cash as payment. It worked out good as this was our first time to Cozumel. We stopped at a bunch of different little beach clubs, drove around the entire island. But if I were to go again I would just rent a cab and spend the day at Chankanaab park. This was very nice and the snorkeling was pretty good. It cost us $10 for each for me and my wife, and they didn't charge us for our 7 year old son. We also drove through town and stopped at one of their stores called Super San Francisco. I heard about the store on Cruise Critic's boards but I didn't see any real bargains to be had there, but hey I'm a man, you would have to ask the other half. We did stop at a corner stand selling local goods. It was all the way at the end of the road on the East side right before you make the left to take the road that cuts through the center of town. I bought a straw hat and wife bought a blanket. We haggled over the prices and got the items at 50% off. Went back to the ship dropped the car off ate dinner on board, then went back out and shopped at the stores right at the pier. Didn't go to Carlos and Charlies, Had our son with us. Wednesday was another sea day, tried to stay out of sun this day, a little too much in Cozumel. I went and donated to the Casino, watched a movie in the cabin, played shuffleboard with my son, things like that. Wife found a quiet place outside the Paris restaurant and read her Romance book. What a waste of time! LOL. Went to the show and heard Tia something singing, she was pretty good. Almost forgot, the Show Monday with the Carnival Dancers and singers was very good. Don't miss these shows, and yes you have to get there a 1/2 hour early to get an unobstructed view. There are Poles all over the Normandy lounge. Woke up Thursday as we were pulling into Grand Cayman. Ate breakfast on the ship and headed off to Captain Marvins. One word of advice with Captain Marvins, try and work out the transfers to and from the ship with Captain Marvins if you can. I don't know if they offer that or not. Anyway we were a party of three, and the local taxi's are mostly mini-Vans. They charge by the person. They didn't want to take only the three of us, they wanted to fill their vans with bigger parties. I had to go to the Taxi officer guy that looked official and he made the driver take us to Captain Marvins. It cost $4.00 per person. I will tell about the ride back while I'm on this subject. At the boat dock where they keep their snorkel/dive boat there were two taxi's. I went up to the one and told him we wanted to go back to the ship. He said he was reserved for a party of 8. They never showed up. There was a party of 6 that came off of the boat with me and asked him to take them to a hotel. He took them. I was fuming. The other taxi was filled and they were leaving. I then went to the Captain Marvin's tour guy and told him he needed to take us back to their store. Some lady who lives in the house right at their boat came out and drove us back in her own personal car. From there we grabbed a taxi. None of this was Captain Marvin's fault. Just a bad taxi System. OK, The trip itself was great! We pre-booked the 1/2 day snorkel from 10 to 1, and went to three spots. The first two were snorkel reefs and the they were incredible! We actually saw a stingray at the first stop. It kind of startled me as I was not expecting to see one at this stop. Then we went to Stingray city. And I will say like everyone else, Do NOT miss this! It is incredible! The stingrays are bigger than I thought, some of them had a 5 foot wingspan. Captain Marvins has a video guy that goes under water with you and you can buy the tape ($50.00). They will send it to your house. I haven't received ours yet, he said it takes 2 weeks. Ate a late lunch at the Hard rock right near the ship. Kind of expensive but very good. Boarded the ship and headed off to Ocho Rios. Here is where I didn't know what to expect so I stuck with the ship's tour Highlight tour "B". We went to a plantation, 2 shopping stops 30 min each (perfect for me, but wife thought it was too short). Then onto Dunns River Falls. First my opinion of Jamaica has changed after going there from reading all of the post on Cruise Critic's boards. But the Island is beautiful, we didn't interact with the people so much being on a ships tour, and Dunns river falls is a lot of fun. It is however a little steeper than I thought. They have you form a human chain, but that only last 5 minutes, after that your on your own, which I found to be easier. At the plantation we rode around on a big wagon pulled by a tractor. Some beautiful scenery, and a man climbs the coconut tree for you. Also you get an education on different Jamaican fruits, and taste some coconut water. we headed back to the ship and left around 3:40 PM. Friday night is also a formal night. About an hour after leaving Ocho Rios it got real windy and the seas got pretty rough. It caused my wife to not feel so good. She missed dinner so my son and I went. Dinner starts at 6:30, and at 7, he wanted to go to Camp Carnival. The other party at our table didn't bring formal clothing so on the formal nights they ate at the Paris restaurant. After dropping him off and returning, guess who is eating at a table for 8 by themself?? ME! And to make matters worse the ships photographer is taking pictures of all the tables. Now I start thinking is he going to just keep going or is he going to point me out. Well you guessed it, I had my picture taken by myself. Went to the show after dinner called Shout! It was very good but I liked the first one a little better. This is only my opinion. Saturday final sea day heading back to Miami- This was a very nice day, light breeze, and mid 80's we hung out by the back pool for most of the day. I listened to the debarkation talk. Do not miss this talk either. Very informative on the procedures. Ate our final dinner and gave extra tips to Matre'd and our wait staff. They were great with my son, Chris. Spending extra time making him different paper and napkin items. Sunday AM- I got up at 6 went and ate breakfast at 7, came back and woke the rest of the clan up, they ate up on the Lido deck and waited for our colored tags to be called, and yes they do now have "relaxation Debarkation were you can wait in your cabin until your group is called to exit. I believe this is for U.S. citizens only. We were off the ship at 9:30 am. I pre-booked a limo to take us from the pier to Fort Lauderdale airport. This worked out allot better than waiting for the bus transfers. It seemed like everyone was waiting to get the buses out of their. Sunday morning is pretty hectic on the pier. Flew home and walked in my front door at 6PM Sunday night. To sum it up, Carnival did an excellent job on their end, I would try Captain Marvins, however I don't think I would rent a car in Cozumel again, you can get a taxi their pretty simple. Our room steward did an excellent job and I realize that this can change from steward to steward. The same with our waiters. I took along a hand held GPS for navigating and if you have one I would recommend taking one with you, they are allot of fun using with a map that you can buy in the gift shop for 3.00 seeing were you are at. I will post different waypoints I marked. That's pretty much it, if you have any question I will try and answer them And Yes I will be returning on this ship! Just a matter of when. Thanks for reading and all of your help prior to this trip. Picture Link donsweeten@home.comApril 2001 Read Less
Flight to Miami Took United from Washington Dulles to Miami on Saturday night. Airport was crowded. Noticed they were singling out numerous people (seemed random) at the gate for extra security checks. Luckily, not us. ... Read More
Flight to Miami Took United from Washington Dulles to Miami on Saturday night. Airport was crowded. Noticed they were singling out numerous people (seemed random) at the gate for extra security checks. Luckily, not us. Pre-Cruise Hotel We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami. Could see the port and the Victory and the Paradise in the morning. Hotel was nice and comfortable. Would have liked to have stayed closer to the port, but used Hyatt points, so could not argue with free :) Took taxi to the hotel and to the port. Both were quick and convenient. Embarkation We got to the port about 10:45 AM. We waited until 11:00 to go through security (pretty simple). We were about the 5th group to be registered. Not a lot of clerks in the beginning that we could see. We then waited in another line before being allowed to go upstairs (about 11:45). They did not start letting people board until 12:30 (there were plenty of chairs to sit and wait). First Impressions The ship is beautiful!!! It is much more subtle and muted than the Fantasy and Ecstasy which we have been on before. A lot more wood rather than brass. We really like it. Also liked the bar in the center of the atrium along with the musical group and piano player that played there. Our room V15 on the Verandah deck was great. As someone on one of the groups said, once you have a verandah, you will never want to go back and I certainly agree with that. Nassau This was our 8th time in Nassau. It seemed like the vendors/tour people were a little more aggressive than I remember in the past. They no longer allow taxis/buses at the pier, but there did appear to be a shuttle that would take you to the beginning of town where you could get transportation. All we did was do a little shopping (bought our favorite rum cakes - Don Lorenzo Caribbean Double Chocolate Ecstasy Cake :). San Juan Did not do any tours. Walked to the El Morro Fortress ($3 entry fee) and walked around it and took pictures. Did some walking around town, but did not buy anything. It was a pretty warm day and the sweat was flowing freely. Spent a relaxing afternoon/evening on the ship. St. Thomas Did the Kon Tiki Party Boat (had done this same tour 11 years ago). Seemed to be a bit more lively than the one we had done previously. My wife was not feeling well, so I ended up going by myself (I did behave myself. That's my story and I am sticking to it :) The only shopping we did was at the mall at the dock. Ships Activities Pretty much the usual shipboard games. Went one of the production shows and one of the variety (magician and comedian). Both were entertaining and worth the time spent. Lost way too much money in the casino, but the casino staff was very friendly. Tried my first BBC and I am hooked. Also tried a Malibu Bay Breeze and it was not bad either. Miami Vice was good as always. Debarkation Most painless and easiest of any of previous cruises. Waited in our cabin. Called our cabin color by 9:15. Had our luggage and were at our bus by 9:30. Miami Airport Worst part of the trip. Bus let us out where there was baggage check-in for everyone but United. Had to walk to terminal (not the end of the world, but no skycaps). Skycap found us on the way into the terminal and took us to check-in. Was asked the usual questions and said no, but the clerk asked about whether our luggage had been left out at night. Answered truthfully, so we had to have our checked baggage x-rayed. No real problem and since we were way early for our flights, not much of an inconvenience. For some reason, they decided they did not like what was in my carry-on, so they checked it over and over (did not really bother with my laptop). Warning: rant ahead! While I know these checks are for our protection and security, to my untrained eye, the people I saw doing the checking and screening couldn't find a gun, knife or explosive if they were told what it was. Rant over. All-in-all, while a little bit frustrating, this certainly did not ruin my post-vacation high.June 2002 Read Less
We flew in a day early (Wednesday Oct. 2nd) to hang out with the "beautiful people" in South Beach. We stayed at the Best Western Marina Bay it was nice. They had all the roads partially blocked off due to the car races having ... Read More
We flew in a day early (Wednesday Oct. 2nd) to hang out with the "beautiful people" in South Beach. We stayed at the Best Western Marina Bay it was nice. They had all the roads partially blocked off due to the car races having their time trials this weekend. We checked in to our room, walked over to the Bayside Marketplace and had lunch at Bubba Gumps - very good! We then took a cab over to South Beach; the beach is absolutely gorgeous! We walked the whole length of the beach, some very interesting sights! We sat at the News Cafe and watch the "beautiful people" walking by until early evening. We then went over to Senior Frog's and bought t-shirts and caught a cab back to the hotel. We decided not to go to Mango's, as we would have been exhausted for our first night on the cruise. Most of the area around our hotel was blocked off for the racecars; they had put up tarps so you couldn't see inside, except for the entrances. As we were peeking in at one of the entrances, the Director of Operations invited us into the area to walk around and take pictures. THANK YOU! We took a cab to the pier about 10:30 a.m.; we had to show our cruise documents at the toll before they would allow our cab driver into the pier area. It was a little hectic at the pier since the Paradise was still disembarking from the 11-day cruise it had just completed. It was fantastic not having to travel the first day of our cruise, I think I'll be planning all my future cruises this way. We started boarding around 11:45 a.m., found our room (E115) very quickly. We loved the location of our room, down the hall from the Internet Cafe, the Paradise Bar, Purser's office and the Photo Gallery. The first two days were at sea. We are early birds so we found no problem getting chairs by the pool. Our pool towels were in our room every night for use the next day. A few times we forgot our room towels and got them at the towel station near the main pool with our Sail & Sign card, the towels had to be returned by 6:00 p.m. we had no problem with that since we had early dinner. St. Thomas was beautiful. We took a cab over to Sapphire Beach; since it was Sunday the beach was very quiet. We spent the whole day there. St. Lucia was pretty; I wasn't feeling well, so we only went to the stores near the ship. Man was it HOT that day! Barbados, we went through Carnival on the cave tour, it was really interesting. We found out later that we could have done it for HALF the price on our own. Carnival claims the tour is 2.5 hours; our tour was 1.5 hours so we had the bus driver drop us off downtown to do some shopping. We ended up finding a store that sold all silver - VERY INEXPENSIVE. Martinique felt like downtown Boston! I couldn't believe all the traffic. We took a cab to the flea market, bought a few gifts, walked to the end of the main street and back, walked down the side street found a PEPSI! You would think we struck gold we were so happy to just sit and have a Pepsi (not a Coke). Contrary to what I had heard not one person was rude to us. I was totally shocked! St Maarten rained all day. We walked to Front Street, walked the whole length down one side and up the other. We didn't buy anything but it killed some time. I can't believe how built up St. Maarten is now compared to 1984. I really missed going to Orient Beach, but I'm sure I'll be back again someday. We have been on 14 cruises (10 with Carnival) and somehow we always end up frequenting the bar outside the Casino the most. We found the United States Bar entertainment (Bobby Calabrese) was excellent. We even bought his CD. We loved "The Highlights," what a voice! We probably would have spent more time in the Queen Mary Lounge except it was always soooo cold. The Calypso band "Kooshall" was fantastic, the best Lido deck band we've ever seen. We had early (6:15 p.m.) dinner and we still had a very difficult time getting decent seats for the early shows, so we missed most of the shows. I was surprised at the amount of poles in the Normandie Lounge; I thought most of the newer ships had solved that problem. The comedian Freddie Roman was good; we met him the night before at the United States Bar he even mentioned us in his act! He's even funnier in a one to one conversation. Before dinner we would partake in adult refreshments at the Paradise Bar located in the Atrium. The Mozart Trio was excellent. We met Jon and Janelle along with Harley their dog. We asked Jon where Harley goes. He stated that Deck 6 in the Crew Only area is known as the "poop deck." Jon also stated that considering the Paradise is a fairly new ship there wasn't any Braille in the elevators or on the cabin numbers. I found that very odd since some of the older ships have Braille. If Janelle wanted to get around on her own she would have an extremely difficult time finding her cabin. I sent Jon the Carnival president's e-mail address when I got home since I had discovered it on the cruisecritic.com message board. We played Bingo most days and nights, this is the first Carnival cruise that I didn't win at Bingo. We did win a 24-Carat gold plastic ship on a stick playing trivia with Kevin (social host) then we won more playing "win lose or draw" (Bye Kevin aka Billy Idol hope you come back on another Carnival ship). The Newlywed/Not So Newlywed game was quite the sight! Too bad the Video Diary was non-existent on this ship -- that tape would have sold out that night. We couldn't get into the talent show - no seats, just as well, we heard Josh Riffe the cruise director was doing 10 minutes in between each act, instead of doing his 10 minutes in the beginning, introducing the acts, and his 5 minutes at the end. People said it got really boring. I read another persons review and he complained about the stained carpets, I'd like to know what kind of carpet could hold up to this abuse. The Paradise is 4 yrs. old with 2400 passengers a week, 52 weeks a year. That would come to roughly 500,000 passengers that have been on her. Considering how many passengers (and crew!) have been on the ship, she's in great shape. There was always someone dusting and cleaning. This person's review also complained about a broken mirror, patched with masking tape, which stayed that way for the entire ten days - this is true, but seriously, when did they start having glass companies on cruise ships??? Our waiter was excellent, his teammate was not, and we almost fell off our chairs when we found out he had been doing this for 9 yrs. We thought the food was just ok, we have had better on other Carnival ships. Our Maitre 'd Mr. V. was phenomenal, he was everywhere, we would see him in the morning on the Lido deck checking the coffee machines, two minutes later we saw him help clean up after a large group had left quite a mess, we saw him patting one of the busboys on the back telling him he's doing a great job, we saw him every night in the dining room vs. just the "envelope" night. The photographers were very good I really liked the black/white pictures the best. We found all the bartenders and waiters very friendly, and bored. This ship has a reputation for being a little more laid back and less of a "party" ship. We had a GREAT time, even though I had a bad cold all week, we loved the no smoking aspect. We have loved all of our cruises and for us there is no such thing as a bad cruise. We thoroughly enjoy our vacations; life is what you make of it and how you choose to react to certain situations, especially situations you have no control over. We're already thinking of our next cruise, I think it's going to be to Hawaii. Does anybody have any suggestions as to which cruise line or ship? Sully515@aol.com January 2003 Read Less
I arrived on Saturday night to avoid the rush of flying, transfers to the ship, etc. and so I could begin to relax. I stayed at the Marriott near the Miami Airport. For a Marriott, I thought I had a great rate - one of their "Come Out ... Read More
I arrived on Saturday night to avoid the rush of flying, transfers to the ship, etc. and so I could begin to relax. I stayed at the Marriott near the Miami Airport. For a Marriott, I thought I had a great rate - one of their "Come Out and Play" rates of $69. Embarkation I left my hotel to go to the pier around 10:40 and was at the pier by 11:00 AM. When I arrived at the pier, the Royal Caribbean's "Voyager of the Seas," NCL's "Norway," and Carnival's "Paradise" were the only ships in port. There were apparently people still leaving the "Paradise" from the last cruise but I was surprised that it wasn't any more crowded than it was. My stateroom was "to be assigned" at embarkation but Carnival was already on their toes before I got in the terminal. The porter who was loading my luggage to take to the ship handed me a manifest and asked me to look up my name and find my cabin number. I had originally booked a category 6B ocean view cabin on the Main Deck and had been assigned to cabin E194 on the Empress Deck. After the porter helped me get my luggage properly tagged and ready to take to the ship, he pointed me towards the terminal entrance. I had been dropped off at Terminal 9 and had to walk down to Terminal 8. The check in area in the terminal was very colorful. There were only about 5-6 people in line but all of the Carnival reps at the counter were busy with someone. The line moved very quickly. I'd say from the time I got dropped off at the pier, I had checked in, received my Sail & Sign card and was in the waiting area to board the ship within 15-20 minutes. There was a sign posted that they would begin boarding the ship at 12:15. There were not many people in the waiting area yet but it was interesting watching everyone arrive. I was surprised at the wide age range of people taking a Carnival cruise. Carnival is obviously not just for the young anymore but the young at heart as well. There were babies, children, adults young and old. The oldest person I actually came across was a lady who said she was 82. Finally, someone noticed that they were ready to start boarding and everyone started lining up. When we finally boarded the ship, we entered the atrium on the Empress Deck. All I had to do to get to my cabin was turn right and walk down a very long hallway. I stopped for a moment to look around the atrium and was amazed at how subtle everything was as compared to pictures of the Fantasy's atrium that I had seen in the brochures. No neon - a lot of brass, wood and stained glass look trim within the woodwork. By 12:25, I was in my cabin. Cabin When I got to my cabin, I was kind of surprised at how small it was but impressed with how big it was at the same time. My cabin had two lower beds in an "L" shape with a small table in the corner between them and two upper berths, plenty of closet and drawer space. I even had plenty of space in one of the closets to put my suitcase so it was completely out of the way for the week. The bathroom had a small amenities basket with razors, shampoo, soap, etc. and there were several extra bars of soap in the "medicine chest." The only complaint I had about my cabin was that the mirrored doors on the "medicine chest" would not completely close. My cabin steward was from the Philippines and was polite and kept my cabin spotless. Restaurants A buffet style lunch was being served in the Paris Restaurant on the Lido Deck on the day of embarkation as was throughout the cruise. There was a steam table set up with several hot entrees, vegetables, etc., and a salad/desert bar set up in the center of the restaurant with a salad bar, specialty salads, fruits and deserts. There was also a soft serve ice cream machine in this area. Also in the Paris Restaurant, in the rear, was a small bar on the starboard side and the 24-hour pizzeria on the port side. There was a buffet style breakfast served in the Paris Restaurant every day except embarkation and debarkation days. The steam table usually consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, link and/or patty sausage, grits or oatmeal, hash browns (patty style like Hardee's), toast, etc. There was also a made-to-order egg/omelet station. The cold bar area in the center of the restaurant was usually set up with fruits and cereals and an area to make your own toast or toast a bagel. I had lunch and breakfast in the Paris Restaurant a couple of times and this is where they also served the midnight buffet every night except for two. I'd heard that at night, if you have dinner in the Paris Restaurant that they lay out linens, etc. on the tables. I had been assigned to the Destiny dining room and had requested Main Seating dining. This dining room was very elegant. I had been assigned to a table for 10 of which I had 8 other dining guests. This was a first cruise for two of my tablemates, girls in their early twenties I'd say. My other tablemates were seasoned cruisers and apparently frequented Carnival Cruise Line and the Paradise especially. Most of us found ourselves hanging out together throughout the cruise when on board the ship. A couple of us met up on a shore excursion in Nassau. In St. Thomas, a couple of us ran into each other shopping downtown and shared our favorite shopping places. Our headwaiter was from the Philippines and our waiter was from Honduras. The wait staff made a genuine effort to learn your likes, dislikes and preferences early in the cruise as did the bar waitress. By the second night our headwaiter, knew how I liked my steak cooked and knew that I liked for him to make suggestions for me. Our other waiter learned quickly who liked coffee with their desert and what you preferred to drink with your dinner. Food in the Destiny was about the same as going to any upscale restaurant in Atlanta. I'm always willing to try something new and tried to do so each night. I only had lunch in the Destiny dining room twice and the food was about the same. By the end of the week, I was tired of trying something new and had a good old-fashioned cheeseburger and fries. In fact, I think most of us did that particular day. Room service is advertised available 24-hours a day. This can be misleading unless I misunderstood something. The room service menu is very limited - continental breakfast items, cold cut sandwiches, chips, pretzels, salads, an assortment of cookies/brownies, coffee, milk, and tea were available. By 24-hour room service, I assumed that if you chose to have dinner in your cabin, that you would be offered the same selections as in the dining room. Granted, I never tried this but assumed this was not the case since there was a specific room service menu in your cabin. I did order room service three times - twice for breakfast and once for a mid-afternoon snack. Delivery of your order was within a pretty reasonable time - I'd say 15 minutes. One of the times I ordered breakfast by leaving an order form outside my cabin door the night before we arrived in Nassau. The next morning my breakfast arrived at 7:00 AM sharp - I had requested between 7 and 7:30. After the first night on the cruise, they would serve a specialty desert each night. After they served the specialty desert, you were offered a choice of deserts from the menu. Spa/Gym Facilities I took a tour of the spa and gym facilities given the afternoon of embarkation before the ship pulled out of port. A wide variety of spa, aromatherapy and massage treatments were available with prices ranging from $27 to $199 dollars, depending on the treatment and length of the session. The salon offered hair and nail services with prices ranging from $21 to $58. Personal trainers were onboard to assist you with fitness programs. There was a good selection of equipment for our use although I wasn't familiar with any of it other than the treadmills and step machines. There were both men and women's locker rooms as well as a whirlpool in the gym/spa area. Entertainment There seemed to be a wide variety of entertainment onboard to please practically everyone. In the Normandie Lounge, there were a couple of comedians onboard throughout the week, a magician one night and the ship's dancers put on two shows during the weeks (Vegas style). Bingo games took place throughout the week and there were numerous activities for the guests to get involved in. There was a "Newly and Not-So-Newly Wed Game" (similar to TV's "The Newlywed Game"), "Sea Feud" (similar to TV's "Family Feud"), the "Love, Sex and Romance" quiz, the "Numbers Game," "horse races," and how can I forget the "Men's Knobby Knees" contest (I was the judge of that one). All these activities took place in the Normandie Lounge and was another great way to meet your fellow passengers. Up on deck, there was the "Men's Hairiest Chest" contest, the frog races in the pool (we used plastic wind-up frogs that you buy in St. Thomas). There was a calypso band that played by the main pool on the Lido Deck, a country/western duet in one of the lounges (good time/place to learn some line dances), a pianist or orchestra trio would play in the atrium, sing alongs and karaoke in the American Bar, dance music in the disco - the list goes on and on. Ports of Call and Shore Excursions The cruise director would give a "Port Talk" before we reached each port of call. He would go over the shore excursions that are available and let you know what bargains are to be found in each port for those that like to shop. Nassau - shore excursions varied from city tours, snorkeling/beach excursions, sailing, diving, glass bottom boat tours and a dolphin "encounter." Prices ranged from $12-89. I opted for the Dolphin Encounter. The "encounter" is just as the ship's shore excursion flyer says - you are put through an educational orientation on the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, you stand on a platform in waist deep water in groups of ten and feed, kiss, hug, touch and "dance" with a dolphin and that's it. Great photo/video opportunity but that's it. Unlike the video that is shown by the shore side operator, you do not swim with the dolphin nor learn to give commands. This "swim" was apparently an option at the site but was not offered to us by the cruise line. Regarding the "Snorkel with Stingrays" excursion, if you have never done this type of thing before, try it - it's a wonderful experience. However, if you have ever been out to what is called "Stingray City" on Grand Cayman and snorkeled with the stingrays, I've been told that this excursion in Nassau would be a disappointment to you. In Nassau, there are only 3 stingrays in the water with you whereas off Grand Cayman, there are dozens. I've done this type of excursion off Grand Cayman and someone from the shore excursion desk on the ship advised me that I would be disappointed in Nassau. San Juan - shore excursions varied from City tours, rainforest, kayak and snorkel/beach excursions. Prices ranged from $32-79. I opted for the San Juan City/Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour. I was disappointed in the city tour in that the only stop you made on the "city" portion was at the El Morro Fortress where there were some spectacular coastal views. I found the Bacardi Distillery tour very interesting - you were also given coupons for two free drinks at a bar in the pavilion. There was a gift shop at the Bacardi Distillery offering t-shirts, hats, beach towels, etc. and of course products that are made or distributed by Bacardi. Hint - the liquor prices are still cheaper in St. Thomas. After the tour, the van driver offered to drop us off in town for shopping or take us back to the ship. The ship was the first stop and I got off to go have lunch and relax for a while. I understand why they spend so long in San Juan but learned the next day that I'd rather have the extra time in St. Thomas. St. Thomas/St. John - shore excursions varied (again) from city tours to sailing, diving and snorkel/beach excursions. There was a shopping tour offered but the cruise director actually advised against it because you don't really need it - and you don't. Shore excursion prices varied from $12 to $99. I did purchase a ticket to take the tramway up to the top of the mountain where you will find spectacular views of the Virgin Islands. The cruise director suggested that you do your shopping in the morning and beach activities in the afternoon in order to save you "shower the sand off and change time" if you did it the other way around. I seriously didn't think 2-3 hours would be enough time for me to shop around, take the tramway up the Paradise Point and look around up there, have lunch and get ready to go on a shore excursion by 1:15. I was right! My shopping excursion pretty much took all day! Havensight Mall is just across from the pier. You can take a taxi to downtown Charlotte Amalie for $3 per person and it's about a 5-10 minute cab ride. Taxicabs are VERY plentiful at the pier and downtown. I was impressed by the fact that they do not hassle you at all to take you anywhere but make sure you know that they are there if you need them and were very polite about it. On my way downtown, my taxi driver slowed down and asked some folks if they were on their way downtown and needed a ride. Once downtown, again, I got asked several times while walking around if I needed a ride back to my ship. I politely replied "no, not yet" but when I was ready to go back to the ship, I didn't have a problem at all catching a ride. Shopping in St. Thomas was a lot of fun and I found some really great bargains. Liquor is most definitely a great bargain here. Liqueur, linens, china, crystal are good buys. I even found some summer clothing on sale - "end of the summer" bargains. The best places I found to buy liquor were Caribana (downtown) and Dynasty (Havensight Mall). Sona International was a great place for clothing and other souvenirs. Summary I love this itinerary but would like to see St. Thomas offered for 1½ days if not 2 - one day to shop - one day to spend at the beaches. I loved the fact of being on a non-smoking ship. It was nice not having to smell second-hand smoke across a dinner table or that terrible stench in a room where a lot of people have been smoking. Our ship was full occupancy and I had been worried about feeling crowded. The only time I felt crowded or just flat out too many people being in one area at the same time was the night they had the midnight buffet by the pool on the Lido Deck and the night of the Grand Midnight Buffet - too many people in too small of an area. There were not a lot of kids on this cruise and you hardly noticed the ones that were. I did have a problem with my cabin neighbors. I apparently was in a cabin that was between a large family in the two cabins on either side of me. Two adults and five children (that I counted) ranging from I'd say 8 to 13 occupied the two cabins on either side of me. The parents obviously had no control over the kids whatsoever and apparently didn't care to. The kids were constantly running in the hall, pounding excessively on the doors (where was their key?), fighting in the cabin, yelling, screaming, etc. Several passengers in the area were complaining, even the stewards but I guess I was the only one voicing my complaints. I finally got a little cooperation from security but am still not happy with the way Carnival handled the situation. The day after I filed my first complaint, the purser's office did send a bottle of champagne to my cabin with their apologies (they added insult to injury when they didn't even get my name right and addressed it someone who wasn't even on the ship!). The night we left St. Thomas, they did offer to move me to another cabin after someone disembarked in St. Thomas but I had no desire to move from a mid-ship cabin to the very last cabin at the rear of the ship on my deck. I didn't think that I should be the one to change cabins and I figured it was too late in the cruise to move so I just dealt with the situation the best I could for the last two days. The day after we left St. Thomas, the chief purser did sent a letter to my cabin, again with Carnival's apologies, and have offered me a 15% discount off my next cruise. Again, I'm still not totally happy with the way that Carnival handled the situation but will not let this incident deter me from cruising with Carnival again. kfrancis@bellsouth.net January 2003 Read Less
My cruising buddies included my friend, my friend's sister and their mother. We treated ourselves to this cruise for Mother's Day. We left our husbands and children behind and had the best vacation ever! It was our first ... Read More
My cruising buddies included my friend, my friend's sister and their mother. We treated ourselves to this cruise for Mother's Day. We left our husbands and children behind and had the best vacation ever! It was our first cruise. My review is lengthy, and I hope it helps provide an insight to our experience. I know we crave all the information we can get prior to cruising! I'm repaying my debt by writing this review! Please email me if I may answer any questions. The Paradise left from Miami on Sunday, the 5th, so we drove from North Florida the day before (to avoid getting up and out by 4:00 am). We got two rooms at the Comfort Inn in Ft. Lauderdale; in the morning it was an easy half hour or so drive to the port. No traffic to deal with since it was a Sunday morning. As we approached the Port of Miami, it was a thrill to see the cruise ships lined up -- folks were disembarking at the time, so it was quite a zoo. Arrive early to get a secured parking spot. Even though it was 9:30 am, one of the parking lots was already full and the gatekeeper would not accept new vehicles. I am not sure if cars from the previous cruise were still parked there, but be prepared and arrive early. My advice is to drive to the area where the porters are loading the steel bins with luggage. They are located right in front of your docked ship. We were very careful to make sure each piece of luggage was properly tagged by the porter with our ship's name on it, and would not drive away until we saw that the porter loaded our stuff on the steel bin. He looked up our room number on the passenger list, and put our names and cabin numbers on the tag. Be sure he does this. We tipped him generously -- $12 for eight pieces of luggage. I personally checked one large piece and wheeled my smaller case on board with me to be sure I had all necessities in case something was lost. Our luggage arrived to our cabins around 8:00pm or so. We then parked the car in the secured lot for $70, then walked to our ship's entrance office. We completed all paperwork, i.e. boarding pass, Sign & Sail card application, and were completely certain we had our passport, confirmation number, and drivers license handy. Also have your credit card readily handy too. We met two gals who suggested we get a wheelchair for the Mom that was along, although she's very spunky. Great idea! We were treated as VIPs, were personally wheeled upstairs to a small area, where our Carnival escort casually processed our paperwork, gave us loads of tips, had a few laughs, i.e. "We welcome our guests as passengers, and load them off as cargo!" Then, our escort took all four of us into the ship and we completely by-passed all lines and hassles. It looked crowded downstairs at the check-in station, so bring plenty of patience with you. Everyone was smiling, and we felt completely comfortable with our experience. Prior to loading the ship, our photo was taken for security purposes and programmed onto our Sign & Sail cards. Our escort took us right to our rooms, sat down with us, went over the ship's map, gave us dining ideas, and what to look out for if we were to take shore excursions, and told us to be sure to read the daily activities schedule and Have Fun! The whole boarding process took an hour, and we were thrilled to have enjoyed the personal attention. Our cabins we double porthole on the Riviera Deck -- very spacious and quite comfortable. We were very pleased and anxious to explore the rest of the ship! We took the elevator up to the Lido Deck where the main pool is located and the Paris Restaurant. We enjoyed a yummy buffet meal; we opted for the salad and fruit bar, and enjoyed a glass of wine from the bar and the Drink of the Day. We sat on the outside deck and watched the yachts sailing in and out of Biscayne Bay. Wow, what a thrill to be on board. We soon got used to it being windy outside of the ship, so our hairdos really didn't matter! The ship was ship-shape and spotless. The decor was very nice and not over-done. It was just festive enough without being tacky. Staff members were always busy and all were friendly. We felt very welcomed. Prior to set sail, our ship's captain ordered a safety drill, so we grabbed our life jackets from the box in our room, strapped them on and went to our assigned station. We then headed to an outside deck were we lined up for a while. Some folks did not like being in those life jackets with their outfits on, so dress comfortably and be prepared. Older folks did not have to attend the drill, so Mom took a little nap while we went through this drill. It was soon over, and we all went upstairs to an outside deck to watch the ship pull out of port. It's still was thrilling! We brought a cooler and a couple bottles of Champagne, so we popped a cork and had a toast. We enjoyed exploring the ship more, and found the ship very easy to maneuver -- no problems at all. Since we were automatically assigned to the late dinner seating in the Elation dining room, we immediately found someone to change it to the 6:30 seating -- no problem again. The early seating allowed us to enjoy a show after dinner without pushing midnight each night. We then sat at the Paradise bar, where the sunshine flooded the Atrium, listen to beautiful music, and planned our shore excursions. We were very impressed with the daily "Carnival Capers" newsletter that outlined all activities, specials, port info, etc. Again, loads of detailed information and we looked forward to reading it each day. The newsletter was delivered to our room each evening for the following day. We always attended the meetings regarding port excursions, so I recommend going, too. The cruise director made them interesting, and free prizes were given out, too. The video of these meetings were played continually on Channel 18 on the in-room tv's, too. I was so glad I took the advice of Cruise Critic friends -- I packed light, lots of mix and match clothes; brought an extension cord -- one plug per room, and we gals had plenty of curling irons, etc. We did not bring a hair dryer, but asked our steward for one. No irons, so pack wrinkle-free clothes, we brought our own shampoo, etc. I brought a case of bottled water, other "refreshments", and a cooler -- which was kept iced by the steward. We had room service each morning of coffee, juice, and muffins to snack on until we were dressed for breakfast. It actually worked out very well, and tipped the waiter one dollar each morning. Sunday evening we enjoyed a very delicious meal in the Elation -- it was fun. Monday was a Fun Day at Sea, we did what we pleased -- worked out at the Spa, laid by the pool, had lunch at the Paris -- which by the way, has great made-to-order omelets for breakfast, and buffet-style food for lunch. We loved the 24-hour pizza & salad bar, so enjoy! Formal attire for tonight's dinner, which we enjoyed. We attended the Captain's Cocktail party -- complimentary drinks and munchies. We then headed to the Elation for dinner. It was fun to see everyone dressed up. Women in gowns and guys in suits and tuxes. We ordered lobster, and it was dry, so we suggest a good steak or beef dinner. Had several photos taken, which I think is a great opportunity to have a portrait taken as a keepsake. We then went to the Vegas-style show which was wonderful and glitzy. By now we were pooped, and headed back to our rooms to retire, although the Rex lounge was rocking, and so was the Casino! For our Cozumel port on Tuesday, my friends signed up for a snorkeling adventure. I declined and instead sat by the pool that day and soaked up the sun. The jellyfish were out in droves, and they were stung on the face, so be prepared. They brought their own equipment, but it is available for rent. After they returned from snorkeling, they changed and we took a cab into town to do some shopping. The duty free mall at the end of the pier is actually great for shopping, so don't pass up the opportunity. I thought there would be more duty-free malls like that one, and there were not -- Carnival owns the Cozumel pier, so that is why this stop is the best for shopping. While in town we had a few refreshments at Palmeras -- very festive and a Mexican band was playing...fun! It was on open-air place facing the water, so we found it relaxing. Be prepared also, as children tried to sell us things like bracelets. We enjoyed all the silver, leather, pottery and t-shirt shops, where you can definitely ask for a lower price. Start low and the shop owners will meet you half way. Bought a t-shirt from Hard Rock Cafe for the kids, too. We paid $6. for our cab ride each way for the four of us. No hassles, either. The ship did not leave Cozumel until midnight, but we did not want to be out after dark -- so headed back to ship to relax by the pool. Wednesday was another Fun Day -- more pool time, but this time we discovered the upper deck, stern area. Nothing is more relaxing then to sun yourself while watch the beautiful water churned up my the ship's motors. We never had a problem finding a deck chair, and the ship never felt crowded. There was a great Jamaican band playing poolside, a few pool games occasionally, great water slide, several bars and plenty of restrooms. Lunch at the Paris again -- it was hard to beat the delicious food -- I stuck to the salad bar. Later we watched folks play bingo, and the couple next to us won $500 cash. By now we were getting the hang of things! The on-board shops are duty free, and each day offer "specials" However, the shops are closed on Port days, so be prepared. I thought it was inconvenient at times when I needed something while we were in Port, and could not buy anything. Thursday was Grand Cayman -- the best port -- very clean, safe and friendly. We were tendered in because the ships cannot get in to the dock area. I thought it was loads of fun loading up onto this tender and boating in. Whenever leaving ship, you must bring your Sail & Sign card and photo i.d. or you will have a hassle to get on board again -- Very Important. The weather was not conducive for many of the tours, and the most popular one -- Sting Ray City was canceled. So we signed up for an alternative tour which worked out fine. Once on Cayman Island, we explored the downtown area which is right by the pier, so it was very convenient. Nice shopping, so take advantage of it. Our tour guide was excellent -- we were loaded on a bus, stopped at the Rum Cake Factory, Seven Mile Beach (beautiful), Hell, the Turtle Farm -- I thought this was fascinating -- and gawked at the beautiful mansions. I had lunch at Hard Rock and enjoyed my window table -- the view of the port with the ships lined up is breath-taking. My friends took a dip in the water, and we all met and headed back to the tenders by 2:30. I wish we had more time in Grand Cayman. Friday was Ocho Rios -- my friends took the Dunns River Falls tour -- it was really raining that day and other tours were canceled. They enjoyed their tour, but did not like having to climb the falls holding other people's hands -- human chain. While on the falls, there was a scary mud slide which completely destroyed the picnic area!! Glad I passed on that one! I intended to shop in town -- Big Mistake, and don't try it alone. I changed my mind after walking to where I could catch a cab, and a crowd of Jamaica men were anxious to help me -- so I was not comfortable and walked back to the ship. I was disappointed! Formal Night again this evening -- loads of fun, delicious food and a great Vegas show, "Shout" was superb! Saturday was Fun Day at Sea -- we totally relaxed on the upper deck and got the last of our tanning done -- met some nice folks and had a great day. At breakfast, we cruised past Cuba which was a totally unexpected view of mountains and the islands edge. What a thrill. On Sunday, disembarkation was a breeze; we put our luggage out in the hall by midnight the night prior, and kept the essentials for the next day to dress. The wait to get off the ship was a bit long, but Mom ordered a wheelchair and we were the first off the ship -- we were VIP's!! Claimed our luggage at Customs, got a porter to haul it to the car and tipped a dollar a bag. We loaded up the Suburban and were so disappointed that our vacation had ended!! Our legs are still rocking, too, as it takes a few days to get over the rocking sensation. As I type this review, I'm still swaying back and forth! Can't wait to cruise again, and thanks to all the Cruise Critic posts that definitely helped make my cruise more enjoyable!! busterw@mediaone.netMay 2001 Read Less
This is my first cruise review stemming from just completed my very first cruise - it only took 48 years! I am sure looking back over the week, all was not perfect, but you could have fooled me-it was the most relaxing vacation I have ... Read More
This is my first cruise review stemming from just completed my very first cruise - it only took 48 years! I am sure looking back over the week, all was not perfect, but you could have fooled me-it was the most relaxing vacation I have ever taken, and that is being said even though I took my 14 year old twin boys AND my sister with me. Back to the cruise, we stayed in Miami at the Holiday Inn South Beach the night before (mostly because I used priority points). The cabs from the Miami airport and charging by zones -- so you pay a flat $24.00 to get to South Beach or Downtown. The cab ride on Sunday morning was $18.00 to the pier. We arrived at the Port of Miami about 11:15. The luggage was handled very promptly, there was a little delay as we had booked a 6A TBA -so they needed to find and mark our luggage tabs with room #'s. Then it took about 30-40 minutes to get the sail and sign cards, etc., so with that all finished we were waiting about 10-15 minutes and then at 12:30 they let everyone on board. We went directly to our cabin as we were excited to see if we got an upgrade-only to find out we had been given a category 12 - a SUITE! We loved it! There was plenty of room to unpack everything (and we overpacked) and put all the luggage under the beds. Our luggage arrived at our room by the time we finished lunch. I must say all the tips we got from the boards were wonderful, the best tip however was the shoe holder for over the bathroom door, which I got from Target for $8. What was not to love with 4 people in one cabin that size, although I am surely spoiled for future cruises, don't think I could do without a balcony? For an overall, the ship was very clean at all times-even our room service trays were gone within minutes (my kids tested). Our room steward was wonderful - we loved the towel animals - our favorite was the monkey-pinned to the drapes. No problem ever with pool chairs, even changed a few days to different ones half way thru the afternoon, for more breeze. The dinners ( we were early seating in the Destiny Dining room) were wonderful - if You could not find something you liked -it was only your own fault. We ate breakfasts and lunches in the Paris-buffet style. As the selection was wonderful and we could go on our own time schedule. My boys loved the fruit smoothies-although they said the ones served in the dining room were the best ones! The shows all week were great, we especially liked the comedian and and magic. ALso loved to sit and watch the poolside antics and listen to the band. All three Island we enjoyed differently-Cozumel-was the best snorkeling-we booked thru Eagle Ray Divers and can't say enough about the wonderful trip we had there with Chellie (also see post under Ports for Cozumel). And not to be missed was miniature golf in Cozumel. Grand Cayman -We Snorkeled with the stingrays-however we had to cut back on the original booked trip-we had hoped to do a full day - however-all the island are on different time-being one hour behind and with ship time there wasn't enough time to be back for tender at 3. But it was wonderful and we even saw an EEL. The tender went very quickly both ways with virtually no waiting. In Ocho Rios - we walked the fall and took a tour of the Island. We had booked with Peat Taylor and would recommend this also. They had had 4-5 inches of rain the day prior, so the water down the falls was a very fast hard current, but it was so much fun. then we were supposed to see the fern gully, but the rain had washed out several roads. But the country side tour was great. The other days at sea were very relaxing, the boys had plenty to do - a lot of ping pong, and they loved the BLT's from room service. The disembarkation went very smoothly. as we got a surprise envelope under our door the last evening to put VIP tags on the luggage and we were the first group off the ship, grabbed our luggage, thru customs and to the hotel (as we also stayed the night after) by 10: am. I feel as I won the cruise lottery with our upgrades-can't wait to plan the next cruise-hope this helps someone-if any particular question, ask sorry I can't cover it all. Mljnkens@aol.comJune 2002 Read Less
As Senior Citizens it was with some trepidation that we booked a cruise on a Carnival ship, having heard so many stories about the boozing and partying. But, the price was right and so we did. Embarkation was not fun. It would have ... Read More
As Senior Citizens it was with some trepidation that we booked a cruise on a Carnival ship, having heard so many stories about the boozing and partying. But, the price was right and so we did. Embarkation was not fun. It would have been made much simpler if the signs showing where one should be were above the table instead of on it. As it was you had to stand in line, get up to the table to find out you were in the wrong line and start over again. Then, upon reaching the table realize that it didn't make any difference what line you were in as they were all "working from all the boxes" of sail and sign cards. Again, wonder if we had made a mistake. What a wonderful surprise to enter the ship in the Atrium and hear the fantastic Mozart Trio playing. Found our cabin without any difficulty and because our fares were so inexpensive were not surprised to be in the bow. This is only a problem when then bow thrusters are working at 5 AM. Or, as was the case on this cruise at 1 AM when the ship was being turned to return to Miami to meet a Coast Guard helicopter for a medical emergency. The cabin, bathroom and storage were more than ample and our cabin steward, Renaldo, very congenial. Loved the towel animals we found each night. We thought the ship was very pretty in general, especially the Atrium and the Paradise Bar where we joined friends each night before dinner for cocktails and The Mozart Trio. They also played in the Ile de France Cafe each afternoon. Unfortunately, there was Karaoke going on in the lounge next door a couple of times and the Trio was having a hard time competing. The no smoking ship was heaven. You could spend time in the casino without having to leave for a breath of fresh air -- however the slot machines were not very friendly! But, I did win at bingo the last day. So, I pretty much broke even! Our night life consisted of the shows in the Normandie Lounge and the Piano Bar with Roberta. We thoroughly enjoyed the singers and dancers but the comedians seemed to think that degrading someone in the audience was the best way to get a laugh. Several people around us walked out. They also have an "R" rated show at midnight where this might have been more appropriate. The food in the dining room rivaled any other ship we have been on, except for one night when we thought the chef must have taken the night off -- the fish appeared to be fish sticks, the veal was tough and the pasta had almost no sauce. Dennis and Capistrano took good care of us. Dennis, with the serious side and a new baby on the way any day now; Cappy with the mischievous twinkle in his eye. Breakfast in the Paris Dining room was adequate but not as sumptuous as most buffets on other ships. It was very good for lunch and unfortunately, I didn't try the pizza bar until the last day. Otherwise I would have had lunch there everyday! Scrumptious! Shawn Bussey was an excellent cruise director and she had her work cut out for her because of the medical emergency. Our arrival in San Juan was delayed by 6 hours and then we had to go through customs since we had been to Nassau -- another couple of hours. All tours were canceled and they scrambled to try to arrange others in the evening. It was disappointing not to be able to spend the whole day in San Juan but comforting to know that the health of one little boy was the main concern of the crew. We, of course, had some concerns about the Norwalk virus but they seemed to be cleaning continually. However, on the first night one of our tablemates became ill at the table. As he left the table his wife remarked that he was ill before they boarded. I have a feeling that this is the source of this virus, not the crew or ship. Although I am sure that ill passengers do pass it on to crew members. Disembarking was a breeze. Luggage is color-coded and very easy to find. We were in our car and headed out of Miami by 10:30AM. Would I recommend Carnival's Paradise? ABSOLUTELY. Sueseb@aol.com May, 2003 Read Less
After 14 months of planning, 10 ½ months since booking, and sweating out the days since September 11, it was finally our time!!! We were actually going on OUR CRUISE!!! Let me introduce ourselves. We are Harry and Jackie (I am ... Read More
After 14 months of planning, 10 ½ months since booking, and sweating out the days since September 11, it was finally our time!!! We were actually going on OUR CRUISE!!! Let me introduce ourselves. We are Harry and Jackie (I am "Maple Hts" on the Cruise Critic boards.) We live in, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. We have 4 children, 16, 14, 14, and 6, and are celebrating our 20th anniversary. Flight / Pre-cruise stay Originally I booked air with Carnival, but found a cheaper, direct flight a day earlier, and switched. This almost backfired with the events of 9/11, as my flight was canceled 2 days before we were scheduled to leave. Unfortunately I was notified of the cancellation. Fortunately I was constantly checking Continental's website, and called them as soon as I noticed the cancellation. We got another flight, same day, but had to connect in Newark. As it turned out, this was no big deal, and all our flights were routine and pleasant. Upon arrival we took the Avis shuttle, picked up our rental, and were on our way. We stayed at the Days Inn North Beach, 7450 Ocean Terrace, right on the ocean. I would highly recommend this hotel for its price and location. I paid $39.20, PLUS an additional $5.00 off coupon from the Internet! The location was great - quiet, uncrowded, and on the ocean. We asked for a recommendation for dinner, and were VERY pleased with the "Las Vegas Restaurant", a family-run Cuban restaurant, very delicious, very inexpensive, very close to the hotel. Sunday morning we went to Church, about a mile from the hotel. Quite a pleasant experience attending a local church, English/Hispanic mix, with an Irish Priest! Embarkation / First Impressions After breakfast, we checked out and headed for the Port, dropped off our rental, and were shuttled to Paradise. This was about 12:00 noon, and by 12:30pm we were on board! I can't begin to explain the joy and excitement we felt as we took our first steps into the magnificent atrium. I thought I knew what to expect from all the other reviews, pictures, etc., but this was way beyond our expectations. Those who have cruised before know what I mean. After thoroughly checking out the ship, taking many photos and video, we went to our cabin, R82, an interior room. Plenty of space, very clean and bright. Next stop, Lido deck and our first buffet, "umbrella" drink, and poolside music. Very cool. Food /Wait Service We ate all our meals in the Elation Dining Room. This was one of the real pleasures of the cruise. The food was AWESOME, no complaints from anyone. Some of the entrees I had included lobster, prime rib, rack of lamb, leg of lamb, duck, shrimp, scallops, beef Wellington, and more. To any future Paradise cruisers: I hope you have the pleasure of being served by headwaiter Tatiana from Slovakia, and her assistant Leonardo from Philippines. Please, if they are your wait team, tell them Harry & Jackie say "hi" and send our best. We all (6 at our table) bonded with them very quickly, and by the end of the cruise, it was just like saying goodbye to family. Tatiana & Leo, you are the BEST!!! As stated by many cruisers, the pizza was very good, and we also enjoyed the late night buffets, although we probably didn't need to pile it on at midnight! The gala buffet was beautiful and very tasty. Please do not miss it! Cabin / Steward Our room, interior on Riviera Deck, was quite nice. Plenty of room for clothes, luggage, and also ample open space. Our tablemates (and new friends) were on Upper Deck, and I liked our room better. The layout in our room gave us more usable space. Also, we were relatively close to elevators / stairs, and the room was also in a quiet location. Didn't notice much ship movement, either. Our cabin steward, Carlos, was fantastic! The room was always immaculate when we returned, full ice bucket, bed made, and the famous "towel animals". Carlos, you're the man!! On-board Activities We really enjoyed all the entertainment, starting with cruise director Lenny Halliday. He's quite a talented and witty man. The "Vegas-style" shows were incredible, as was the stage band. Tia Thompson, a singer / comedian, is a "must see." She'll have you in stitches, especially the midnight "spicy" show. We also enjoyed the passenger talent show, and the games, such as Family Feud & Newlywed Game. Very funny! We also played the obligatory BINGO. Didn't win, but missed the $1,000 by 1 number! Other favorites were the America Piano Bar / singalongs as well as a night of bar-hopping. It was great - no worries about driving home! Favorite daytime activities were hanging out by the pool, or sometimes sitting under the lifeboats, in the shade, gazing out at the ocean. Oh, and of course, eating and drinking! Ports of Call Cozumel Our first port was Cozumel, and we were fortunate to have a full day (15 hours) to spend there. We decided to explore the island on our own, so 4 of us rented a sub-compact Chevy from "Smart Car Rentals". I found them on the Internet and had a coupon for 30% off. The price for the day (until 7:00pm) was about $33.00, plus $12.00 collision insurance (more on that later.) We started south and drove around the perimeter of the island - so beautiful! Most of the island is uninhabited, wild and tropical. We stopped at Mescalito's on the east side of the island for a cold one. We were the only ones on the beach - it was wonderful! We then continued our drive, which took us into the back neighborhoods. Some of the living conditions were really sad, but I'm glad we got to see how the typical families live in Cozumel. We found a restaurant that was recommended on another board, "El Moro Restaurant." It's off the beaten path, so you'll need transportation, but it is absolutely awesome. The seafood was so fresh and flavorful, reasonably priced, and family-run. I would highly recommend this place. After some shopping, we went to Chankanaab Park to try our luck at snorkeling. The park is very nice, but we did have some difficulty in the water. It was very rocky and we did get cut up a bit. The fish were beautiful, though. More shopping, then time to return our car. This is when we were rear-ended by a local, right in front of our rental car rep! To make a long story short, the lady that hit us had a very influential husband who took care of everything. We were anticipating the worse, but all involved were very pleasant and polite. I would still recommend renting a car if you want to see more than just the main street in town. Even more shopping, then finally a taxi back to our ship. The night concluded on board with a Mexican dance troupe, and a Mexican buffet. Grand Cayman I booked an excursion with Captain Marvin, based on many Cruise Critics' recommendations. You were all correct! We were picked up right in town and transported to the boat, only 8 passengers! Captain Kirk was a very interesting and friendly guide. First stop was a reef with absolutely crystal clear water teaming with colorful fish and coral. Words can't describe the beauty. Then it was off to Stingray City to swim with the Rays. A true once in a lifetime experience! We even got to hold them - very soft and docile! Please don't miss out on this! Jamaica I had read some negative things about Jamaica on the various boards, so my expectations were not great. Boy, was I wrong! Jamaica turned out to be a real highlight of the cruise! The island is absolutely gorgeous with the white sand, blue-green water, and the lush hillsides. We booked a Carnival tour, the "Coyaba Garden Tour", which included a drive thru Fern Gully, a 45 minute tour of the Coyaba Gardens, 2 shopping stops, and finally Dunn's River Falls. I highly recommend this tour - a great value for $31.00. The gardens were absolutely beautiful - I thought I was in Paradise! Climbing the falls was another once in a lifetime experience - way too cool! The vendors at the falls were nowhere near as bad as I expected. Sure, they tried to make a sale, but when we said "no, thanks" once or twice, they got the message. I would definitely go there again. "No problem, Mon"! Disembarkation This was much easier than expected, too. Our color was called about 9:40, and by 10:00 we were in a cab on our way to the airport. Final Thoughts First of all thank you so much to all the Cruise Critics who provided so much information, advice and support over the months. You all really were a tremendous help! Next, thanks to Carnival for having such a wonderful, non-smoking ship - it truly is PARADISE! We would cruise with her again in a heartbeat! What a FUN SHIP!!! Also, anyone having additional questions, please feel free to email me and I'll try to answer in a timely manner. Email is harry_rimmel@yahoo.com. The best surprise of the cruise was having a renewal of wedding vows ceremony Saturday morning. Believe me, there were few dry eyes in the house. This ceremony was only possible because Paradise has a Priest on board for one year. No other Carnival ship offers this. So, if this is something you would like to see more of, please mention it in your comment cards at the end of the cruise. Finally, the best part of the cruise was meeting so many wonderful people. As I mentioned earlier, our cabin steward and especially wait staff were like family. We truly looked forward to seeing them each day, and I can honestly say they felt the same way, too. Then there're our new friends from Elation Dining room, Table 136. Brad and Lindsey from Indiana - who by the way were married in Jamaica last Friday- -what a sweet couple. Bob and Judy from Michigan, celebrating their 25th anniversary. It seems like we've known them for years. We already made plans to get together with them soon.. And of course we all made a pact: we WILL cruise together again in 5 years. Let the countdown begin!!!!! harryrimmel@yahoo.comFebruary 2002 Read Less
My family took this cruise on the Feb. 15-23, 2003 vacation week. The Carnival Paradise sailed out of Port of Miami and it sailed to the Eastern Caribbean. This was my 16th cruise and first on Carnival. Since most of my cruises are on ... Read More
My family took this cruise on the Feb. 15-23, 2003 vacation week. The Carnival Paradise sailed out of Port of Miami and it sailed to the Eastern Caribbean. This was my 16th cruise and first on Carnival. Since most of my cruises are on Celebrity, I will compare this ship to the Celebrity Line. Embarkment was no problem. We arrived at 1:00 P.M., and within the hour we were on board. Security at the port was on high alert and more noticeable then other cruises. We arrived at the port by taxi so I can't tell you how Carnival handles the travel arrangements from the airport to the dock. As soon as we stepped on board on the Paradise, we noticed that there was no staff to escort you to your cabin. We found our cabin on the fourth floor of the Rivera Deck. To my delight, we found our i/s cabin spacious compared to other lines. Also to my surprise, our travel agent purchased a bottle of Champagne for both cabins along with a tray of chocolate strawberries. We never expected theses items because I purchased this cruise through an Internet auction site. What I particularly loved about our room was the large tiled shower and functional bathroom. Also to our delight we found numerous bath items that Carnival gave out as trial items. The Paradise is a beautiful ship, not to say that the Celebrity ships aren't. The grand foyer was very large and nine stories high. The Promenade deck was gorgeous and the lighting easy on the eyes, unlike the Ecstasy. All the major bars, clubs and entertainment are located on this deck. I was surprised to find a rock/country western band on board. Finally we found a ship that had a band other then a reggae band for live entertainment (for our age group). Bravo for Carnival!! However we were disappointed in the quality of the reggae band on board. They never got the passengers involved in the activities on deck. We were also very disappointed on the quality of the Broadway shows in the main lounge. The stage sets were below par to other lines. My wife and I have seen some incredible Broadway shows on the Mercury, Century and Galaxy. Lastly, we were very disappointed in the food. If you enjoy good quality food on a ship, avoid Carnival. The buffets were the worse I've experienced and the dining room food was a five out of a possible ten. Celebrity and Princess Line have much better quality food in all their restaurants and buffets. The breads need improvement and cooked longer, while the desserts were a 3 on a scale of 10. In conclusion, we had a wonderful time on the Paradise, a nonsmoking ship because how can you have a bad time on any cruise. But if you demand good quality food and excellent service in and out of the restaurant, I suggest you stay away from Carnival and look to Celebrity or Princess. compobasso@aol.com May 2003 Read Less
My husband and I have been on twelve cruises and this was our seventh cruise on Carnival. We are in our mid-thirties and were traveling with our 3½ year old son. We booked this sailing after seeing very good rates and deciding that we ... Read More
My husband and I have been on twelve cruises and this was our seventh cruise on Carnival. We are in our mid-thirties and were traveling with our 3½ year old son. We booked this sailing after seeing very good rates and deciding that we would like to try the smoke-free ship. Also, we had earned enough points on our Capital One Carnival card to get a $500 reward voucher that may have burned a hole in our pocket if we did not use it right away! Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves and did like that there was no smoking. The places where we especially appreciated that were the piano bar and the casino. Prior to our departure, I had read some negative reviews about the condition of the Paradise and the treatment by the crew, so I was a little concerned. But, I was pleasantly surprised that the ship was very clean and I constantly saw workers polishing, shining, steaming carpets, etc. We also found the crew of the Paradise to be very helpful and accommodating. Getting There: This was a Sunday to Sunday cruise departing out of Miami. We flew to Miami on Saturday and stayed overnight at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay for $40 via Priceline. It might not be as luxurious as some of the other hotels, but my husband and I joked that it was the nicest $40 hotel room we ever stayed in. We spent an enjoyable evening at the Bayside Marketplace. We liked dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. After dinner we explored Bayside. There was an interesting array of ethnic food available at the food court. Outside there were kiddie rides including a train ride that my son really enjoyed and at the waterfront there was a live band playing. We took advantage of the pre-check at the Sheraton in the morning. There was a small line when we went down at 8:50 am. The check-in started at 9:00 am and we were finished at 9:25 am. As it ends up when we got to the port there didn't seem to be much of a line, but who knew. If we had gotten stuck in traffic and arrived later, a line may have formed. We were going to have breakfast in the hotel, but when I saw that it was $11 for a waffle, we decided to peek outside to see if there was anything nearby. Across the street was a place called The Coffee Beanery. It was more a coffee house sort of place, but they had breakfast sandwiches on croissants or bagels, muffins, and pastries. We had breakfast and beverages for the three of us for $13. We got a cab around 10:45 to go to the port and encountered very little traffic. We went up to the waiting area and around 12:15, they started letting people board the ship. Cabin: We were in cabin R232, an outside cabin on the Riviera Deck. The cabin was a nice size with one of the bigger showers that we have had in a cabin. We had one of the best cabin stewards ever, Daniel from Dominican Republic. We had robes in the cabin but there was not a hairdryer. I was concerned about the cabin being cold, but the vent control on the ceiling allowed us to regulate the temperature in the cabin very well. Dining: We had the main seating in the Destiny Dining Room at 5:45 pm. We were seated at table 246, a 6-person booth. Our tablemates were another family of three with a 2½ year old son. They were very pleasant tablemates, the boys seemed to like seeing each other and we had an enjoyable time dining together. Our waiter was Legowo from Indonesia and his assistant was Conrado from Philippines. Legowo was the best waiter that we have ever had. He has worked for Carnival for 20 years on many different ships; the Paradise is his favorite. We felt very fortunate to have gotten such wonderful cabin and dining service this week. We really enjoyed the food in the dining room. We ate all of our dinners there. The filet mignon was particularly good, served medium rare as requested. We also enjoyed many of the seafood selections. My favorite desserts in the dining room were the soufflEs, chocolate one night and vanilla another. The formal nights were Monday and Friday. For kids old enough for Camp Carnival, there were special dinners for kids at the Paris Restaurant (informal Lido restaurant) on both formal nights. And on the first formal night there was a 'Coke-tail' party as well. There was a sushi bar on the Promenade deck, which we really enjoyed. Unfortunately it did not open until 5:30 pm. This made it tough with a 5:45 pm sitting in the dining, compounded by the fact that there was a good crowd of people waiting for it to open, so when it did, there was immediately a long line. I thought that it would have been helpful for it to open at 5:15 pm for people with the 5:45 pm sitting to be able to enjoy a sushi appetizer before dinner. We ate almost all of our breakfasts and lunches in the Paris Restaurant on the Lido Deck. The breakfast was okay up there; it's the same selection every day, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, cereal, flaky pastries. I enjoyed getting omelets and eggs to order. Breakfast in the dining room was slightly better, and the coffee in the dining room was significantly better. Lunch at the Paris Restaurant was a very nice variety and it changed daily. We looked forward to trying new things at lunch. There were different hot lunch offerings including meat being carved. On the salad bar there were interesting and different cold salads each day. They made deli sandwiches to order. And each day there was a different hot bread pudding with sauce that was very good. Of course there was pizza, burgers, and hot dogs available each day. The pizza and soft serve ice cream were available 24 hours. Fun Ship Activities: Josh Riffe was a wonderful cruise director. He made even routine things fun! We learned onboard that he was leaving for vacation after our cruise, so unfortunately, if you are going soon, he won't be there. There was a main pool with a slide on the Lido deck. And on the aft of Promenade deck there was kids' pool and small jungle gym. It was usually pretty quiet back there. We needed to take to the pool our beach towels that the steward provided in our cabin or sign for one on deck using the sail and sign card. There was no charge as long as the towel was returned. The fitness center was located in the spa on the forward section of deck 12. A variety of machines and free weights were available, including treadmills, steppers, and bikes. There were two hot tubs in the fitness center. Located in the locker rooms were a sauna and a eucalyptus steam room (which helped the cold I developed while on-board!) We enjoyed the variety of live music throughout the ship. Our favorite was the piano music in the America Bar, the piano bar onboard. We enjoyed listening to both Mark and Roberta - Roberta had booklets for those who wanted to pick a song and sing along on the microphone. The production shows were Dream Voyage and Shout. We missed Dream Voyage, but made to Shout and it was very enjoyable. We also saw a comedian named Adam Ace who was very wild. His comedy was more physical than your ordinary stand-up comedian. The casino onboard was a nice size with a variety of machines. It never seemed to get very crowded. My husband and I learned what we could about playing craps before our trip. So we played it for the first time on the Paradise. The casino personnel we encountered were very friendly and helpful. There appeared to be good opportunities to try out new games at uncrowded tables in the Paradise casino. Our son enjoyed participating in activities at Camp Carnival. The orientation and family party the first night were informative and enjoyable. The schedule of activities for the week allowed him to pick the things that he wanted to participate in. Almost every night at dinner he could not wait to finish eating and go up to the Children's World. One evening they had a Family Fun Fest for parents and kids at Children's World, where they had a lot of creative activities and crafts for the kids to make including sand art, face painting, spin art, and friendship beads. Ports of Call: We were on the western itinerary, which is scheduled to change in February. Traveling with a 3-year old, we kept things simple and low key. Basically we went to a beach at each stop since he loves the sand and water. Cozumel - The ship docked at the Puerta Maya pier. There was a lot of construction going on, but appeared as though there will be a lovely shopping village right at the pier once the work has been completed. We took a cab, which cost $14 to Mr. Sanchos Beach Club. There was no cover to enter and there were small shops as you walked through to the beach area. Each shop owner was telling us why it's best to come into his shop. The beach area was beautiful; white sand and beautiful blue water. The sand wasn't as powdery as I thought it would be, but instead appeared to be made up of little shells. It had a consistency of sesame seeds. My son still had fun playing in it, but wanted his water shoes on since he didn't like the feel of it. Although he didn't mind the feel of it when he wanted to get his body buried in the sand like he saw one of our fellow passengers having done. We got there around 10:00 or 10:30, so it was not very crowded at all and we had our choice of a palapa (table shaded by palm leaf roof). Around lunchtime we ordered some appetizers and beers. We had the best guacamole and it was a serving bigger than I have ever seen. For the appetizers and four beers in all, it was only $20. Dinner times on the ship were moved early to allow passengers time to go back out onto the island. Our early seating was at 5:00 pm (the other was at 5:30). And the late seatings were at 7:00 and 7:30. After dinner we went to the Mini Golf (or Golfito) that I had read. It was as nice as I had read; it was beautiful and lush. It was $7 each for 18 holes ($3 for a plastic putter for our son). And beers were $2 each and $1 for a bottle of water. And just as described, we were given a walkie talkie to call in for additional drinks, delivered to our hole. We all had a fun time at the mini-golf. And enjoyed meeting Scott (although Sally wasn't there.) Grand Cayman - We went to Seven Mile Beach this day. There are public accesses in between many of the hotels along the beach. The hotels do not own the beach, but the beach chairs are only for the guests. Having a three year old at the beach does not allow for lounge time on the chairs anyway, so we went onto a beautiful stretch of beach near the Westin Hotel and played in the sand. To get up to the Westin, we took the bus, which is really a van. Either yellow #1 or lime green #2 will take you out to Seven Mile Beach. The cost is $2.00 CI (or $2.50 US) per person. After we returned to town, we stopped in a grocery, Fort Market, where they had the 16 oz. rum cakes for $10 (they were $12 on the ship). Ocho Rios - The Island Village Complex just opened in February 2002. You can see it off to the right of the pier. It is an easy walk from the pier, but you have to walk out through the taxis inland to get to the entrance on the right. There are many shops and restaurants including Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. We walked through a little and then stopped at Margaritaville. They have a nice pool with a cool slide. There is a little bit of beachfront too, where our son spent some time playing in the sand. There was a sand volleyball court, but no one was playing. Although, we were there early and I think it got busier and a little more active, later in the day. The margaritas and the mango daiquiris were delicious. Return: We booked a USAir flight direct from Miami to Pittsburgh scheduled to depart at 2:00 pm. We learned about a month before our trip that the flight departure time was changed to 12 noon. I was very concerned about being able to make this. I thought about calling USAir to try to change it, but when I looked at the other flights, there really wasn't a favorable alternative. Early in the week, I inquired at the Purser's desk about debarking with the first group. He instructed me to bring my tickets to the desk. Upon doing so, he issued me luggage tags to be in the first group and told me where to be Sunday morning. I started getting antsy while waiting for the ship to be cleared. At about 9:45 am, someone arrived to our lounge to tell us that the ship had been cleared and we could proceed to the Empress Deck for debarkation. We had no trouble getting a taxi and it is a short drive to the airport. There was not a long line at the ticket counter, however there was a long line at security. Nevertheless, after passing through security I looked at my watch and it was 11:00 am. I think a flight earlier than 12 noon could be problematic and we were fortunate that everything went smoothly and had no problem making our flight. Overall: We had a fabulous vacation. It was a wonderful family trip for us; we got to spend time with our son and some time just the two of us as well, while our son had a ball with the other kids. I hope there is some helpful information for any of you planning to go soon! kmcornelius@lycos.com February 2003 Read Less
Back-to-Back Cruises May 13, 2001 & May 20, 2001 We are back from our dream cruise and I though I would write a review to help out anyone else going! I was worried that 2 weeks would be too long! It wasn't! It was ... Read More
Back-to-Back Cruises May 13, 2001 & May 20, 2001 We are back from our dream cruise and I though I would write a review to help out anyone else going! I was worried that 2 weeks would be too long! It wasn't! It was fantastic! It seemed like we knew everyone on the ship by the end of the second week! My husband was ready for another week! The ship is beautiful and well maintained. We always saw someone cleaning! It was almost sacrilegious to get back on the freshly shampooed carpets after we were drippy and sandy from being at the beach! We enjoyed just strolling around! The Blue Riband library was a wonderful place to sit and wait for dinner or relax. We enjoyed dancing in the Leonardo Lounge. I even won in the casino! I had a budget of $20 each week for the slot machines and they just wouldn't take it! The largest pot I won was $250. I won about $400 total for both weeks! My secret is to leave when I win. It is really tempting to put that $20~30 back in the machine, but I resisted! The food was wonderful. We often ordered more than one entrEe and shared them to taste everything. The menus were the same on the second week, so we were able to have our favorites over again and try new things we didn't have room for the first week! Our wait staff was fantastic! Our headwaiter was very friendly and professional. He kept his two assistants, I Gede and I Wayan, on their toes! We are tea snobs and brought our own on board. They kept the box in the dining room for us and had it ready every morning and after dinner! They serve Lipton's as their hot tea and have a "special box" of the fancy Lipton flavors. We brought a box of Starbucks Tazo Awake Tea. You gotta love us Seattlites! We were upgraded from a Category 6A to 6D. The rooms were the same, we were just closer to the action! We were in cabin E 173. We were on the Starboard side in about the middle of the ship. We were under the galley. There was a little bit of banging after meals, but it wasn't bad and they settled down quickly. We had our beds pushed together but not made up as one. We slept like babies with the gentle rocking. Our cabin steward, Richard Fernandez, was great! Our room was kept spotless for the two weeks! He knows how to do 12 towel animals, so we had a different one each night! My favorite was the monkey that sitting on the floor wearing my tennis shoes! We were in hysterics! We never had any trouble finding open lounge chairs. We did like to sit in the front of the Lido deck. It was quieter and under cover. I don't really enjoy sitting in the direct sunlight. The weather was only so-so during our trip. There was a spectacular thunder and lightening display on our second night! A bridge officer told us that it was not a storm. We did have driving rain and 20 mph winds, so I'm not sure I would want to see a storm! The first week was the Eastern Caribbean. We stopped at Nassau, San Juan, and St Thomas. The crowd was much older and predominately female the first week! There was a table of 10 single grandma's at the table next to ours. They called the waiters "honey bun!" Nassau was nice. We did some shopping in the morning and sight seeing in the afternoon. Everything is very close to the ship, so we didn't take a tour or cab. We went on the Bacardi tour in San Juan. It was very interesting! We also saw Fort Morro and did some shopping in Old San Juan. We did some shopping in the morning in St Thomas. I was a little disappointed. I had been hearing for years how wonderful it is St Thomas. We couldn't leave a shop without being harassed by cab drivers to take a tour. There were as many hawkers outside the stores as other stops and the stores were the same! (Diamond International, Colombian Emeralds...) That of course, didn't stop me from buying an Emerald ring though! We went on a ship tour to ST John in the afternoon. I know that you can get there on your own, it just seemed easier to us to let someone else worry about it! It is gorgeous there! Definitely worth the effort to see the island! We enjoyed the underwater trail! The pictures are the highlight of our vacation album! The second week was the Western Caribbean. We went to Passion Island on Cozumel. It is where the Corona commercials are filmed! It was very beautiful. We were served a very nice lunch and did some swimming and sunbathing. The water was shallow and not very good for snorkeling. We did see a dolphin on the way to the island! We booked a tour with Captain Marvin's on Grand Cayman. We used him last year and it was wonderful. We went to two snorkeling sights and then Sting Ray City. That is a must do! It was unbelievable! We did a little shopping and bought some Rum Cakes. Things are rather expensive, so we did not buy much! We went on Highlight Tour B on Jamaica. They take you to a plantation. It was very interesting and the guides were funny. They did go on a bit about the price of education, but since the plantation supports a school, that is where their focus is! We stopped at a "craft market." I didn't even get off the bus. Several people that did go out came right back. The vendors are really aggressive. I don't think anyone bought anything there! We then went to the Taj Majal shopping center. We bought a lot of souvenirs there. The next stop was suppose to be Dunn's River Falls. We had climbed them last year and I was suffering from a little sunstroke, so we skipped the Falls and walked the couple of blocks back to the ship. The tour guide was a little put out. We did tip her and the bus driver. It was very nice not having to get off the ship after the first week. We waited for everyone to disembark and then checked in with the Purser's desk. We took a cab to Bayside Market for some lunch and a trip to Starbucks for more tea. We breezed by all the lines and got back on the ship. The photographers taking our second embarkation picture recognized us! It was a running joke the whole second week! The downside of two weeks, if you can call it that, is that all the jokes and acts are the same. We went to most of them the first week and skipped them the second week. We did do a lot of dancing. We have been taking ballroom lessons for two years and were under strict instructions to dance! Over all, this was the vacation of my dreams! I can't wait to cruise again!deyoung@probusiness.comJune 2001 Read Less
My family just returned from a cruise on the Paradise and we had a great time in spite of some things. It is a beautiful ship and our waiters were very attentive - (I ketut, Julius, and Ernesto). The staff in other areas were not ... Read More
My family just returned from a cruise on the Paradise and we had a great time in spite of some things. It is a beautiful ship and our waiters were very attentive - (I ketut, Julius, and Ernesto). The staff in other areas were not so friendly however. The 24 HR pizzeria and Paris dinning room attendants were cool to say the least and actually seemed to be bothered to have you there at times. The ship was very crowded and it was all but impossible to find a deck chair. The pools were filled with children at all times. The children were everywhere and without parental supervision. At any time of day or night the kids would be in the discos or on the deck, running around the halls and making noise, running into people who happened to be there. We noticed several young people who appeared to be teens drinking alcohol. The youths card will be flagged so they must have been using an adult's sign and sail card. But they were obviously not 21. I suppose if they have the card they don't care. The seating for shows following late dinning was difficult. Many people didn't come to the seating following their early dinner but waited to come to the later showing and many many people saved seats in spite of the prohibition against it. This left people standing in the isles and sitting on the stairs. The visual field is terrible in the Normandy room poles, bars, lights, or in the balcony the ceiling are always in the way. We sat in the balcony once and saw an entirely headless cast of players and that was if you laid your head on the table to see that much. The party atmosphere was less than we experienced on former cruises. At midnight the scheduled singers, bands, and any entertainment was finished. Once you leave the late showing in the main lounge everything is finishing up. If you eat late seating expect to turn in following dinner and the show. We would dress for dinner, eat the meal, go to the show, then to promenade deck and find everyone (the entertainers) finishing up and closing down for the night. My suggestions for change are as follows - checking dinner seating times for show time seating to avoid overcrowding at the late showing, assigned areas and pools for the kids to allow for adults only swimming and lounging, and staggering entertainment start times to allow for later ending times. We still enjoy cruising and had a good time but I think I may try another cruise company for my next vacation. It just isn't a fair trade to have non-smoking and in turn to have children running rampant over the ship. Aspire2829@aol.comJune 2001 Read Less
We chose this particular sailing date because it was the first sailing of the new western Caribbean route on smoke-free Paradise. We have been wanting to try the Paradise for some time but were not intrigued by the old routes. We were a ... Read More
We chose this particular sailing date because it was the first sailing of the new western Caribbean route on smoke-free Paradise. We have been wanting to try the Paradise for some time but were not intrigued by the old routes. We were a group of four. It was my 8th cruise, my husband's 4th cruise, and our friend's first cruise. We are mid-twenties and our friends are mid-thirties. We flew out of Milwaukee on Saturday and arrived at Fort Lauderdale's airport about 1 pm on Saturday. With the weird winter we have been having in Wisconsin we decided to fly down to Florida a day early to avoid any last minute weather delays. As it turns out this was the smartest decision we made about the whole trip because they did have bad weather on Saturday evening and Sunday morning and we would have most likely missed the ship. We used Tri-County Transportation to get us from FLL to our hotel, Hyatt Regency, in Miami. It was $55 for the 4 of us for this town car ride to Miami. We won the Hyatt Regency hotel on priceline.com for $45/night. We had no problem checking in early and got wonderful rooms. We had an ocean view and could see the cruise ships from our balcony. We walked down to the Don Pan Bakery and had some of the best sandwiches I have ever had. This is a Cuban bakery and is a great place for breakfast and lunch pre-cruise. The prices are very reasonable and the food is so good. To get to the Don Pan walk out the front doors of the Hyatt and turn left. Go under the Metrolink rail and it is across the street, only about 1-2 blocks. That evening we walked to Bubba Gump's for dinner and to check out the Bayside marketplace. Bubba's is good food, a little pricey but a good way to start your vacation. It took about 10 minutes to walk there. On Sunday we got up and went over to Don Pan to get some fresh pastries for breakfast. They also have hot breakfast. Their Cuban bread makes wonderful toast. After breakfast we went back to the hotel, grabbed our cruise documents and passports and walked over to the Sheraton (about 1 block the other way, just over the bridge) and did the pre check-in with the Carnival representatives. The pre check-in took about 2 minutes; I estimate it saved us about an hour to an hour and a half in line at the port. We went on a little odyssey to try to find somewhere that sold hard liquor to take on the ship but failed. I don't think they sell hard liquor on Sunday's in Miami so be aware if you are planning finding liquor at the port area. We took a cab to the port at about 11:30 am. The cab ride was about $12.00 because there was already quite a back up at the port of people picking others up and dropping others off. Make sure that you have your cruise documents handy because the cab driver will have to show them to the guard in order to get into the port area. We gave our luggage to the porters with an appropriate tip and went into the facility. There are signs up, after you get through the metal detectors, for those who did the pre check-in to go right up the stairs and get your sign and sail card. They started boarding the ship at about 12:30 pm so don't plan to get there much earlier then we did or you will be waiting at the facility for quite a while and the chairs aren't that comfortable. We had originally booked 4A guarantee cabins and received 6A cabins (R51 and R65). Our luggage arrived at our cabins before we set sail even though we had the wrong luggage tags (we got our final upgrade after we received our documents). The lifeboat drill was at 4 pm and was one of the quicker ones we have experienced. The boat set sail on time and the fun began. Dinner the first night is resort casual because you should have your luggage before dinnertime. We were at a booth for 6 in the Elation dining room at the 6:15 pm seating, which was just perfect for us. Our cruise director was Shawn Bussey but this was her last cruise on the Paradise. She is being transferred to the Spirit for Alaska and Hawaii. The new cruise director for the Paradise is Troy Linton. We did the spa tour and got the couples massage the first day. The massage was okay but the ladies needed to work on their techniques as they used their elbows when they should have been using their hands. I would not do the massage again or recommend the massage on the ship. Monday is at sea and is also the first formal night. It was just your average day at sea. Most people were figuring out the layout of the ship and getting their sea legs. We got a little sunburn on the deck and just enjoyed relaxing. There were always plenty of deck chairs available, pretty much everywhere but right next to the main pool. The rear pool area was practically empty when we made our way out there at about 11 am. They now give you the Carnival beach towels in your room daily and that is your pool towel. You can also check out a Carnival towel at the pool bar area but you have to return it by 6 pm or your sign and sail card will be charged. It did really help cut down on chair saving. Since it was formal night they had quite a few different backgrounds set up that evening for pictures. We posed for them all, but only one turned out that night. The photographers are not at all pushy. The photos are some of our favorite souvenirs. The Captain's cocktail party was in the Normandine Lounge and they had plenty of waiters with drinks to keep everyone happy. The show was very good that evening. They have a 2 part "Shout" show on the Paradise. Tuesday is Belize City. We had pre-booked cave tubing with Reggie so we didn't do any of Carnival's excursions there. Since we didn't book Carnival's excursion we had to get tender sticker numbers that morning. Instead of everyone waiting in line and pushing to get on the tenders you get a numbered sticker in the Lounge in the morning and then you wait for them to call your number and then you make your way down to deck 3 and get on the tender. I really like this new procedure for tenders and hope they continue to use it, and expand it to all the ships. Reggie was waiting at the dock with his sign and red hat as promised and led the group (about 35 of us) to waiting vans (with a/c). There is about an hour van ride to the cave area and then another 30-minute walk to the river carrying your tube. So this is not the excursion for those who are out of shape or have any health problems as the walk is a bit strenuous. I wore water shoes but wish I would of just wore an old pair of sneakers. The path is rough and it was hard on the feet with the thin soles on those water shoes. It is all crushed rocks so sandals are not a good idea as you would be stopping every few feet to get the pebbles out. The current of the river is very weak in most places so you do have to do a fair amount of paddling to keep up with the group, you don't just float along. We had a great time cave tubing. On the ride back to the docks the vans stop at a bar/restaurant where you can get water, beer, soda and an authentic Belizean meal. We had chicken, cole slaw and beans and rice. It was very good and you are hungry after being in the water that long. The meal with a soda was $6, with beer it was $7. My hubby liked the beer and he is a beer snob so it must have been good. There is a little shopping area right at the pier with typical souvenir type stuff. We collect a magnet from each port we visit and easily found our magnet and then proceeded on to the tender back to the ship. We had a nice dinner in the dining room, saw the show and then crashed in our rooms. We didn't make the midnight buffet. Wednesday is Roatan. We chose to take the catamaran sail and snorkel excursion through Carnival since we couldn't find too much about Roatan on the web. The first look out the window to Roatan is a bit scary, lots of old school buses waiting for you and lots of taxis on the other side of a fence. We had breakfast and got off the ship and found the bus that would take us to the catamaran. We had a nice ride to the Parrot Bay Plantation where the catamaran left from. This is a beautiful facility, when we return to Roatan we will see if we can just spend the day there. The catamaran sailed us over to a protected little bay where we snorkeled. There were lots of fish and beautiful coral. It was quite windy that day so the protected bay was an ideal location, otherwise the waves would have been too much. When we re-boarded the catamaran they had a fresh water hose so you could rinse your face off (very nice perk) and you got a free rum punch. They sold Honduran beer on board for $1, again my hubbie tried both the dark and regular version and liked. Since you are not in Roatan very long (6 am-2 pm) the excursion takes most of the day. The bus took us back to the dock area and we did a little shopping right across the street. They have beautiful woodcarvings and are very, very inexpensive. We bought a salad bowl set (big bowl, 6 individual bowl, and tongs) that was hand carved mahogany for $23. All the prices are negotiable. This was one of those times when I wished I had a car parked at the port so we could have bought more. They had hand carved and painted chests for $50 that were big enough for a child to crawl in that I would of loved to get but had no way to get it home. Since the ship sails at 2 pm they have plenty of activities planned for the rest of the day. Tonight was the returning cruisers party. Once again we relaxed, stopped at the sushi bar, had dinner, saw the show and crashed in our rooms. Thursday is in Grand Cayman. We decided to do the Reef and Wreck snorkel tour with the ship. Since it was a later leaving excursion, met at noon on the pier, we needed to get tender tickets for the same type of process that I explained in Belize. We did some shopping in Grand Cayman and got a bottle of liquor, a rum cake, and our magnet. Then we returned to the pier to meet our tour and snorkel. You first snorkel over cheeseburger reef, which is in wonderful shape. The water is too deep for people to swim down and touch/kill the coral so it is very beautiful. They sell fish food on the tour so lots of fish come to eat. Everyone gets back on the boat and you sail over to the shipwreck and snorkel over that. I had never done a wreck snorkel before and really enjoyed it. We took lots of pictures with our underwater camera. This tour was done in conjunction with the Conquest which is in port with the Paradise, so we got to meet some new people. We went right back to the ship after we returned from snorkeling because Thursday is the second formal night. Once again we did all the picture backdrops and these turned out much better. The show is a continuation of the first night's show "Shout". Right before the show was to begin the cruise director came on the intercom with an announcement that we were turning back to Grand Cayman to take an injured crew to the hospital (we had been sailing for about 3 hours at this point). A helicopter couldn't be sent to the ship because of our location any faster then we could get the person back to Grand Cayman ourselves. A crewmember fell down a flight of stairs and cracked his skull along with breaking a few other things. At that point she just told us that it would affect our arrival in Cozumel but they wouldn't know exact times until morning. So we should just enjoy the night and they would update us all in the morning about the status of the next day. I think that the ship crew handled the emergency very well; you could see the concern in their eyes about their friend. So we all watched the show and enjoyed the formal night. I didn't make it to the grand gala buffet but our friends did and said it was very impressive. Friday in Cozumel. As promised the cruise director made an announcement at about 9-10 am with our status. We were scheduled to get to Cozumel about 1 pm but because of the turnaround the night before we would not be arriving until 3:30 pm. Many tours were cancelled, including ours, but the captain decided to stay in port until 1 am. There were several people who complained to the purser about the delay and he promptly told them that the life of the crewmember was the most important thing and they would not be receiving any other compensation (other then a refund for the cancelled excursions). He was much more polite then I would have been to these whiners. Friday was also the first day of Carnavale (Marti Gras Mexican style) so we had a great time staying late. Our friend's cabin was right under the entrance to the ship and they heard the Carlos and Charlie's crowd come in right before the ship sailed. Since our tour was cancelled we decided just to walk around downtown. It is a $6 cab ride each way. Saturday morning was very quiet on the ship, I think a lot of people had a really good time in Mexico and were sleeping it off until late in the morning. We ate all the meals in the dining room and went to some of the scheduled events. We slowly packed all our stuff up and put the luggage out after the evening show. The liquor we bought in Grand Cayman was delivered while we were at breakfast; our cabin stewardess put it right in the cabin. Sunday, debarkation day. We woke up far too early for a vacation day. Early seating breakfast in the dining room was 7 am. We went and enjoyed our last Carnival meal. The Capers said we could wait in our cabins until 9:45 am so we did. We watched the news and found out that we would be returning to a very cold Wisconsin, they had frigid right over our part of the state. At 9:45 am we went up to one of the lounges and waited our color to be called. It was the last color called which made it very easy to find our luggage. We purchased the bus transfers to Fort Lauderdale's airport and easily found the bus and got our luggage loaded up and settled for the ride. There was quite a line for taxi's and I think it would have been more than $60 (4 people at $15 each) to take a taxi to Fort Lauderdale. There was no line to check in at the airport at all. We just walked up to an available agent, handed our luggage over to the TSA woman in charge of the machine and went to the security checkpoint. Once again there was no line at all at the security checkpoint. I had no problem asking for a hand check of my film. There is a sandwich shop within the secure area. So we set down all the carry-ons and got a sandwich and waited for our flight. We were checked in and sitting eating by noon. We had the strange route back to Milwaukee, via Dallas. So we didn't get home until 1:30 am because of the 3.5 hour ride back home from Milwaukee. Our flight from Dallas to Milwaukee was one of the stranger flights we have taken. About 4 different people did counts and apparently they couldn't count because they came through the cabin with the passenger manifest and had to check off each person's name. The person taking attendance was having a horrible time pronouncing names, he got Carter wrong (the people behind us). Then mid-flight the captain came out of the cockpit (I didn't know they did this anymore, I thought the door had to remain locked) and talked with our friend for about 10 minutes waiting for the bathroom to open up. We had a great time on the Paradise. We really liked the smoke-free atmosphere. My husband has smoke allergies and has never had a major problem on the other ships but we didn't have to avoid any areas on this ship, we could enjoy all the bars and the casino if we chose. I am very happy they switched to the new routes and plan to sail the new eastern route at some point in the future. The crowd that the Paradise attracts is a bit more laidback, the casino is much emptier than on the other ships we have been on and the nightlife is a bit more tame. We had 2 large groups on board the ship that might of contributed to ours being a very, very laid back cruise as a majority of the members of both didn't drink or gamble. I would recommend this ship to anyone looking to see some unspoiled areas. Roatan has only had a tourism industry for about eight years and is very unspoiled. There were several people kicked off the ship for smoking or possessing smoking materials so make sure you are not caught doing that as they are very strict about their set rules. michellemathis@hotmail.com June 2003 Read Less
We sailed on the Paradise on 2/10/02. Flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before. We had reserved a car from Avis using the special USA code along with a Winter special code I found on the Bidding for Travel.com web site. We got an Impala ... Read More
We sailed on the Paradise on 2/10/02. Flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before. We had reserved a car from Avis using the special USA code along with a Winter special code I found on the Bidding for Travel.com web site. We got an Impala for 30.00 and was upgraded to a minivan for no extra charge. A word of advice - print out your rate and the confirmation number - Avis wouldn't give it to me without the print out. We stayed at the Comfort Inn on the beach in Miami Beach - hotel was very nice-good pool, right on ocean, has a free continental breakfast.Drove to the pier on Sunday - the pier in Miami is a madhouse-you pull up and porters direct you as to where to park. I started hauling bags out of the van since our porter started talking to a friend nearby - tipped him a dollar a bag to lift the luggage about 2 ft to a cart. Avis has a return on the pier but it is down about a mile. They will shuttle you back to the Carnival pier for no charge. Embarkation is very exhausting - we arrived at 12:30 and didn't make it in to the ship until 2:30. The line goes thru security first which moves very fast and then you wind very slowly up to the check-in desk. By 2:00, most of the line was gone - next time I would check in at 2:00pm. The room that the line winds thru is very warm - bring as little as possible with you as a carryon or you will regret it. Once you get your papers to board you take an escalator upstairs and wind thru another line which moves fast to get your final documents. They then take your hot, sweaty picture and you are on. Finding the cabin was easy. We had an oceanview stateroom on main deck with 2 bunks. The best thing I brought, thanks to Cruise Critic friends was the over-the-door shoe holder with clear pockets and the power strip. There is one outlet in the room and none in the bathroom except one funky plug that said "for razors only". There are also only about 12 hangers-plan accordingly. I did forget my steamer-something I constantly regretted, but I remembered my Downey Wrinkle release which worked for most items. Paradise has closed both the laundry rooms on the Main and Riveria decks so don't bother looking for them-they are still listed in their directory in the room. That leaves 2 laundry rooms with a total of 8 washers and dryers and 4 ironing boards for all the passengers and some of the crew. Lunch when you board is served on the Lido deck which has a open air food line along with the Paris cafe which has 24 hr pizza and ice cream. We always ate breakfast and lunch up there - food was very good. We had dinner in the Destiny dining room every night - was a little bit hectic to get cleaned up and dressed in decent clothes every night but the service was good and it was fun to try new foods on the menu. The chef is French so some of the dishes were very unusual to me - wouldn't recommend the frog legs. The waiters dance for you almost every night - the Austin Powers dance, the Conga, etc.. You are invited to join in. I get carsick easily but did not have any trouble even when it was choppy. Took ginger pills if I felt like I had the slightest potential to get queasy. The water slide was a lot of fun - didn't have a problem with deck chairs being saved. If a towel is on the chair and it isn't touched in 15 min. just move the towel and enjoy - most people just are lazy and leave towels lying around even if they have no intention of coming back. We purchased one drink card for our teenager for 29.95 (11 -day cruise price). She would give it to her little sister at times or get diet Cokes for me with it. None of the bartenders, except one, checked the name on the card - the kids just wave it and their order is filled. I'm so glad we only bought one. The kids figure out the system very fast. For the parents, bring an insulated mug so you can fill it with ice water, juice, iced tea or lemonade when you are by the pool or even in shows. I also brought wide mouth water bottles with insulated shoulder holders that we used on the shore tours and the beach. The ship sells bottles of Evian water for shore tours but who wants warm, expensive water to drink. We also kept a collapsible cooler in the room for my private stash of diet Coke and some small water bottles we carried on and refilled. We used this when we went to the beach. My 10 year old loved Camp Carnival - she checked herself in and out - checked in for dinner-other than dinner I rarely saw her. I felt very safe on board - security is everywhere-they also watch the pool and keep the kids in line. The cabin steward was very efficient - kids really liked the towel animals he made. The shows were very good - especially liked the comedians. Go at least 45 min early. The Normande longe has numerous blind spots - is a very poor design. There is usually a pre-show show with bingo or game shows with a lot of entertainment so you aren't bored if you do go early. There is TV is your cabin with movies running, along with the major networks. Never had time to watch anything. There is a library on board that has books you can check out - they also have the news highlights faxed to them daily. We didn't book shore tours in Aruba or Curacao - I am so glad we didn't spend the extra money. Both islands have very cheap taxis - We got a 2 hour tour in Aruba for 10.00 each which was very good. They are right on the dock trying to get your business when you get off the boat. We then took a taxi to the Low-rise hotel beach-taxi was 6.00. The beaches are free and the hotels let you use their restrooms and beach chairs for free. Amazing, beautiful beaches in Aruba. In Curacao, we went to the Sea Aquarium beach-12.00 per van load for transport, and 3.00 to get in to the beach. The beach was very clean, good snorkeling, restrooms, showers, tiki bars. In Panama and Costa Rica we booked Carnival tours - I didn't feel safe going it alone in these countries. Debarkation wasn't too painful - the Paradise allows you to wait anywhere to debark. We stayed up on the Lido deck to catch the last rays of sun and eat breakfast. Once you are called, which is by the color of your luggage tag based on your cabin assignment, you walk out, and after a short wait you are in the luggage area which was very organized. We put plastic shopping bag bows on all our handles which made it easy to spot everything at once. We booked a Carnival transfer back to the FLL airport - the bus had cockroaches in the very back seat, bathroom was filthy, driver begged for tips which say included on your ticket - Carnival will be hearing about this one. All in all it was a great vacation - the ship was very clean, in great condition, the crew friendly and competent. We would sail with Carnival again, but only on the Paradise due to its non-smoking rule. And a word about packing - everyone on cruise critic is right - pack your suitcase - then take out half of what you packed - you won't need all those clothes. Email me if you have any questions. rndm0803@msn.comMarch 2002 Read Less
We just got back from fantastic vacation and cruise. We vacationed in Miami/KeyWest area for 1 week prior to cruising on Paradise-Eastern. First of all I want to say that this trip was made especially nice by all you guys out there in ... Read More
We just got back from fantastic vacation and cruise. We vacationed in Miami/KeyWest area for 1 week prior to cruising on Paradise-Eastern. First of all I want to say that this trip was made especially nice by all you guys out there in Cruise Critic land who unselfishly gave of your time to answer all my questions and gave me the best advice an inexperienced cruiser could ever hope for. I am grateful and now hope to do my small part in perhaps helping someone else. INTRODUCTION We are a family of five which includes 21/18/16yr olds. We also traveled with my parents 79/73. I am going to say it like it is. By the most part we really did have a great time. No complaints about Carnival, the cruise, the wait staff, everyone was great. Yes, there are some things I will not do again and I learned a few things for next time. I was going to skip over these little problems, but I thought that maybe someone might benefit from me including these "learning experiences" in this review. So here goes..... WEEK PRIOR TO CRUISE Just a short line on the vacation in Miami/KeyWest prior to cruise. We stayed just outside of Key West on Cudjoe Key in a private home we rented from a friend. Very nice but a little far from the "action." Key West was a lot of fun, would like to go back. Miami: stayed in North Miami Beach, drove to So. Beach. Nice relaxing time on the beach. First lesson learned: Do cruise first, then vacation. We were sun burned and a little tired by the time we did cruise. 2nd Lesson-although I love my parents, it was hard to be two weeks with them on vacation. My father was great. HE loves he beach and was in the water as much as us. He loves to walk and leaves us blocks behind. (hint; I gave him a business card from the hotel we were staying at in case he got lost he could call a taxi). Mother on the other hand had it tough. She has trouble walking, doesn't like beach, doesn't get wet. But, she wanted to "try" to do all the stuff we did. This didn't work out very well, as you will understand later. EMBARKATION We arrived at the port at 11:00am. I had packed some water bottles with rum/tequilla and put it in my checked in luggage along with real water bottles and coke. WE TOOK TOO MUCH CLOTHES! Packing was done in a hurry and my thought was more is better. But after first week of wearing almost the same stuff, I realized we had over packed. Luckily, we had family in Miami and I left half our clothes with them prior to getting on cruise. Good thing, with all the coke, water, booze, snorkel stuff, shoes, etc., we would have needed to buy another suitcase. 3rd lesson learned: Decide what you are going to wear each day and then pack your suitcase, then take out at least 3 entire outfits including shoes. Anyway, arriving early really helped. We had no lines to wait in and after all the paperwork was done we sat in an air-conditioned lobby for about 45min. until we could board the ship. Very smooth. Boarded around 1:30pm. Found our cabins (great cabins directly below eating areas-didn't have to go far for food). We carried on small bags with our bathing suits and changed clothes immediately. We hit the Lido Deck for lunch. Stuffed ourselves till we could no longer eat a bite. (We had not had breakfast or lunch-saving money-just kidding!). Then we went swimming (pools were not crowded yet) and waited for sailing time. We could see long lines down below of people still boarding. Before we knew it we were sailing. We were disappointed Carnival didn't have music playing as we sailed away. In fact, the music on the Lido deck really needs improving on the Paradise. All week they played same stuff, and when we left ports there was usually no music playing. Too bad, last time we cruised on Carnival (different ship) music was playing all the time, it was one of my fondest memories. It was kind of rainy, but the cruise ship next to us had music. I hope they improve this. Anyway, next thing we know we are eating again. The eating never stopped from this day on. Food was great in Destiny Restaurant and we ordered as much as we wanted. Our wait staff was fantastic, in fact, by the end of the week, he we bringing us extra helpings without us even asking. The Lido deck food was O.K., but nothing special. Breakfast was the same every day, they could change it a little from one day to next. Lunch we also had on Lido deck, we were usually wet and it too was OK. Pizza and ice cream were the best I have ever had. NASSAU Arrived in Nassau at 8am. We walked from ship about 6 blocks to catch the 10A Bus to Crystal Beach Marriott. Hotel was beautiful, we walked straight through lobby to pool and lagoon area. Next door was beach area. It was rainy so beach was deserted and slides were closed. We still swam around in beach and pools. Nothing special. We did a little snorkeling, not much to see. Next time I will book one of the ship snorkeling excursions for this island. There wasn't enough time to do much. Mother stayed back on ship when she saw how much we had to walk (she was upset). Taxi's wanted $4p/p for ride to same place. Bus was .75. We told Mom to take the taxi and meet us there, she didn't want to do that. Dad came with us and had a good time. 4th Lesson learned-next time I will look for an itinerary that has first day at sea, then second day a port. We felt pretty rushed, not ready for Nassau. We were not used to ship, cabin or schedule. PUERTO RICO Thanks to fellow Cruise Critic help this port ended up being a lot of fun. We rented a mini-van drove to the El Yunque Rainforest. We walked all the way down (an extremely long way straight down and then most people have to walk straight up to get back) to the Mina Falls. Extremely difficult if you have a health condition or are not in shape. Mother stayed in picnic area next to car, Dad insisted on going down with us. Lucky for us, once we got down the falls, I noticed people were coming in from different direction. I asked them which trail they took and found out they had mostly gone uphill to get to the falls. We quickly figured this one out, we sent the two teenage sons up the way we came, they picked up grandma, and drove the car down the road to the first trailhead they came to. The rest of us went down hill with only a short uphill climb at the end to the waiting car. From there we stopped at Liquilla beach and jumped in for a refreshing swim. Mom stayed under palm tree, sweating bullets. Then we still had time to go to Old San Juan. Drove right through the middle of town. Found some street parking and stopped to do some shopping. Everything was pretty easy to get to. Rental car company gave us map. No problem. Cost $60.00 verses $40+ per person just for rainforest. 5th Lesson learned: Make sure you have credit card with you when you go rent car. I had left it in cabin safe, which I locked with Driver Lic. Rental car picked us up at pier, got to agency (10min), no credit card! and the driver took me back to ship for credit card, half way there I realized the agency gal had my driver lic. so I couldn't open safe. Back to agency. OK hubby wasn't to happy and you can stop laughing. The ordeal took-up about 1hr of our precious time. I won't make this mistake again. ST.THOMAS/ST.JOHN This was truly the highlight of our trip. Unfortuntely, I felt bad for my dad who would have really liked the beach at Trunk Bay. But after the ordeal in PR we knew my Mom could not make the trip to St. John. So my father stayed with her on St. Thomas and went shopping. He really likes the beach, but my Mom would not go off ship by herself. I still feel like my dad missed out on something he would have loved and may never get to see again. We took taxi to Red Hook ($8p/p) ferry to St. John ($3p/p) taxi to Trunk Bay (4$p/p). We caught the 8am ferry and we were first ones on the beach at Trunk Bay. The beach was closed so we just walked in (normally 4$pp charge) It was truly beautiful. Paradise on earth. We snorkeled, saw lots of fish, coral, sting rays, barracudas, you name it. Water was clear and warm, sand was fine and white. It is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. My husband and I made plans to someday retire here if can ever swing it. We left when the hordes of people started arriving, around 11;30pm. By 12:30 we were back on ship, having lunch. We then changed clothes and took taxi to Charlotte A. for shopping. Did not care for shopping. Liquor and gold jewelry were pretty reasonable, but nothing else. No crafty stuff, just the usual tourist t-shirts, straw hats, etc. We bought some liquor and that was about it. We should have taken my dad to a beach on St. Thomas instead. DAYS AT SEA We had no problem finding deck chair as long as we stayed away from the main pool area. It was extremely hot in that area anyway. We found the sides of the ship to be cooler and we just took lounges to this area. Two days at sea at the end of the cruise is a little much. Kind of sad to know our trip was almost over and there was no more ports to visit. 6th Lesson- next time do the days at sea first and port visits towards the end. I guess I better navigate my own ship! We played a lot of bingo lost every game, played some in the casino, lost every game too. Hubby played ping-pong and won his ship on a stick. In general, Paradise was OK. Nice not having any smoke to contend with. But a little dead. Deck games and tournaments need to be made more exciting and we found music to be lacking on the Lido deck. More variety and longer playing times would be helpful. Also the nighttime music in the discos and bars seemed to be all the same. One night we went searching for salsa, none to be found. I remember last time we cruised on Inspiration music blared from every disco/bar and there was a huge variety. Paradise is differently more subdued, but I don't think it is because passengers don't smoke, Carnival just didn't have the same "party" music and entertainment on board as they do on other ships. 7th Lesson learned: Don't take cruise right when kids get off school. Millions of young kids running all over the ship. The pools were 99% kids all day long. Next time we will try and go during school and just take my 16yr old out for a week. OVERALL We had a good time! We are planning our next trip in 3yrs when my youngest graduates high school. Until then, I guess I can dream and read message boards. July 2001 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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