Returned from a 5 day cruise on Carnival Paradise in an outside view room M-82. Main deck. Balcony space is limited on this ship due to its age.
Let me first say this cruise was a Bucket list completion. We have gone to the Gulf coast area for family vacations for many years driving over the sunshine bridge. During one of our drives over the bridge we saw the Paradise going under the bridge. Yep A good reason to go on this cruise. The trip from the port to the Gulf takes about 2 hours thru the waterway. During our departure speaking with others it was noted a lot of people on this particular cruise had the same Bucket list item to complete. It was amazing to see that many people on deck doing as us and taking pictures of us passing under the bridge. Yes it was an older ship but the service and attention to detail by those on board was impeccable. We have been on many cruises on some of the most recent ships on other lines and not received the personalized service these crew members provided. Upon arrival to our room our Room Steward greeted us and asked our names. Anytime we met him he always addressed us by name on both the First and Last days of our cruise. I think he was operating in Stealth mode. We would see him in passing in the hallway but never once were we inconvenienced with him cleaning our room.
So off to dinner we go (We all know food is one of the highlights of a cruise and can make or break the trip) On arrival to our dining room we were met and escorted to our table. I will say the service crew of our waiter WIN and assistant waiter ALEJANDRO was one of if not the BEST wait staff we have ever had. As I had said previously we have traveled on multiple cruise lines including some of the Higher level lines and these 2 gentlemen have set a standard of expectation for us. The food on this cruise was also another unexpected pleasure. On a couple of our previous cruises on other lines we noticed there a was a drop in quality and taste of the meals provided. It seemed as if you didn't want to pay for dinner at one of the specialty restaurant the quality was just HO-HUM, not on the Paradise every meal was always flavorful and high in quality in the main dining room. Our dining mates also made our meals an enjoyable time. They were first time cruisers and to be able to hear about all of their experiences of the day was an unexpected treat to be able to relive our first time through their stories.
The ships amenities and shopping accommodations are not quite as abundant as on the newer and larger ships but weren't really missed by us as we are not onboard shoppers.
ROOM SERVICE: Breakfast was limited to continental style choices but lunch and dinner had a few more choices.
The times we used it for breakfast it was always on time and correct and a tip provided for those delivering the meals.
We did noticed that it appeared alot of people would use it late at night as a midnight snack.
ON DECK DINING:
Burgers and hot Dog fare on deck along with a Mongolian stir fry bar (Recommended)
Buffet: Always a Good selection of regular foods and some specialties to keep it interesting.
FRESH MADE SANDWICH SHOP: Both Hot and cold selections. Everything from Old reliable ham and cheese to Grilled Rubens and Chef specials pretty much a taste of all rolled into one.
PIZZA: I was surprised it was always fresh and tasted very good. Was definitely a highlight for the teens on board and a great late night snack.
Grand Cayman: We had traveled here early in our cruising vacations days with our boys. This time we were a little older so the activity levels weren't as intense so we decided to do the swim with the Rays. My wife is not a swimmer but has become more of an adventurist as she has gotten a little braver. Zip lined in Haiti and now wanted try this So we went . She was nervous because she is not a swimmer, but upon arrival at the site she saw that as advertised that the water was only waist to chest high so she was in. Another plus was the visit to the Sea turtle nursery to see the efforts being put forth to ensure the continuation and re-population of the sea turtle.
Cozumel : We have been here multiple times but still enjoy visiting here. The Silver jewelry in the shops downtown recommended by the cruise lines is simply amazing. If they don't' have something you want in Silver they will usually know some one who has it and will escort you to that shop. I have always been leery of the I make you good deals guys in these shops but I have never been let down on Quality of their silver. I have taken some of my higher level purchases of silver to be evaluated by jewelers here and never once have I been ripped off. ALWAYS: look for the impregnated stamp of .925 in the silver you purchase.
DAYS AT SEA: This is one of our favorite parts of any cruise. This is when you want can do absolutely nothing but relax and forget about work or other things that may be pressing or be as crazy as you want and participate in the onboard craziness that ensues.
We prefer to find a nice quiet, sunny spot with a very attentive Bar service person and just relax and let the ocean breeze blow away our concerns.
DISEMBARKATION: (Vacations over)
Carnival does a good job of this process, as they have programs that accommodate ALMOST everyone (you always have the scammers) The paradise arrived in port a little later then we were used to, so when we had booked our return flight and found out about the later arrival that we were pressed for time to make our flight, we went the Guest services desk and they assured us we wouldn't have any problem and gave us the instructions we needed to make sure that it all worked out. YEP IT did!!
OK NOW THE DOWN SIDE:
NO MORE GALA MIDNIGHT BUFFETS: on any of the ships we have been on recently guessing a cost concern. It was always enjoyable to go these to see all the different presentation of food and and Ice sculptures that were on display. Days Gone By!!
POOL SPACE: was smaller then we were used to so it was crowed alot of the time. The main pool also is too deep for non-swimmers as it was almost 5 feet and there was a lot of surrounding space to just dip your feet in or get wet.
The 2nd pool was also small but at least accessible for non-swimmers although with the kids pool right next to it the quiet part was missing.
JUST A NOTE: The KIDS pool had what appeared to be rust at one of the drains something that hopefully will or has been addressed.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: An older ship that makes up with impeccable service.
HATS OFF TO CARNIVAL FOR A GREAT CRUISING EXPERIENCE!!
Normal sized outside view. Had an actual full sized shower a definite plus considering some of the showers we have experienced on some of the newer ships. Bed were comfortable and always a nightly surprise of out of the ordinary towel animals. Just another example of the great service given by our room steward I wish I could remember his name as he did ours. It was something like Pratka.
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