A group or 13 of us cruised on the Carnival Paradise on July 17th, 2006. 10 of the cruisers were first-timers, so a 4 night cruise out of LA was the plan.
* Day Before: We drove down from Northern California to Long Beach and stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. It was one of the lowest priced hotels ($129) that allowed us to keep our cars in their garage for the week and provided free transportation to and from the pier to go along with a one night stay.
* Embarkation: Our group gathered in the lobby of the hotel around 10:45 and loaded up the shuttle. The shuttle was only for 9 people, so we had to split our group, no big deal. The shuttle dropped us off at the pier, we passed our baggage to Carnival Porters and then jumped in line. It was just after 11:00 am and we were in the first 25-30 people in line (besides those with VIP check-in, and those who checked in even earlier then we did on the Queen Mary). We waited in line for about 20-25 minutes, then they moved us into show our passports, get our sign and sail card, etc. This was a very easy and organized procedure. Took our welcome aboard photo, and got on the ship. We found our oceanview cabin, U154, very easy and then started to check out the ship.