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This was our 11th cruise, 3rd on Carnival and 2nd out of the port of Tampa. Getting to the port and embarkation Tampa is a very accessible port. The Paradise sails out of terminal 3 – the flow of traffic is quick and efficient. We arrived at 12:45 and were on the ship 20 minutes later. The only issue was parking. We chose the 717 lot at Union Station because of the $5 rate – BIG MISTAKE. There were no signs, no attendant, the lot was unsecured and there was no shuttle (opposite of all things advertised on their website). Pay the extra money and check yelp reviews for the parking you do select. We found that 717 had bad reviews and if we checked that before we booked, we could have avoided the trouble. Ship and staff Even though she is 17 years old, the Paradise is in good condition. The staff was friendly and greeted us often. They were constantly cleaning the ship. Service items rarely stayed in hallways or on tables for long. We were in cabin M160 – an outside cabin on the Main Deck. The room was comfortable for 3 people, well appointed and more than adequate for 4 days. Like all Fantasy Class Ships, the Paradise takes some getting used to due to the galley on deck 8. Make sure you visit the forward observation decks in-front of the Normandy Theatre (you need to go through the exit doors on the lower level next to the stage). The cruise director was very engaging and entertaining. We would like to call out Haley from his staff, who made the trip extra special by setting up a 5 year old age bracket in the Connect 4 tournament. My daughter still carries her 24K plastic ship on a stick around the house. The little things can make a big difference. Thank you Haley! Dinning We were a little disappointed with the dining options. The food was the same quality as other Carnival ships (I always love the soups), but the service in the Main Dining Room was lacking. Service in the MDR was slow and the waiters did not remember drink orders or dinning preferences. The MDR did not have a separate lunch menu, opting for an 8 – 1 brunch menu on sea days. It was closed while we were in port. We attended the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast – this was a wonderful touch and significantly better than the DreamWorks breakfast on Royal Caribbean. The food in the Lido was good (especially the Mongolian Buffet), but the lines were often long. This should improve when the Paradise gets the Carnival 2.0 upgrade. Family programming and entertainment We travelled with my 5 year old daughter – she was thrilled with the kid’s club staff, wanting to go there every evening. The kids club staff was exceptional, I wish we could call each one of them out by name. They always recognized and greeted our daughter on the ship. They hosted a large family 4th of July dance party in the Rex nightclub - the party was a great time for parents to bond with their kids. The staff looked like they genuinely enjoyed hosting the 4th of July events. The kids club also had a Mardi Gras Party, pom-pom wars, bubble play, tee-shirt making and other innovative activities. The Seuss at Sea Parade was a nice touch – make sure you are there early to get the pom-poms (they ran-out). The main pool and hot tubs were often crowded – almost nobody used the aft pool where there is a small adjoining kid’s pool. My daughter really enjoyed the water slide – she was about an inch short, so we padded her water shoes to give her extra height (make sure that your child is a good swimmer if they are under the 48” limit). We caught the family comedy act and the “8 seconds” show. Both were very good and there was some nice theatrics in 8 seconds. Ports of Call Living in Tampa, we had been to Cozumel several times. The ship docks at the downtown pier and there is plenty of tourist shopping right in the port. We went to Playa Mia for the day, leaving the ship at about 9:15 and arriving at Playa Mia around 10. This was our first time at Playa Mia and we were very happy. The resort is not very Mexican, but it was great for families. The splash park was perfect for our daughter; we played on the water slide and had a great time on the floating obstacle course. Contrary to what has been posted, the food was more than sufficient, about the same quality as what is on the Paradise. There was fresh watermelon and papaya, cilantro infused chicken tacos and fresh pico de gallo. The beach area is spacious, with plenty of loungers and despite the amount of people, the park never felt crowded. We had the all-inclusive package – drinks are pre-mixed and not very strong, but after a few doubles, they add up quickly. We booked through Shore Excursioneer (www.shoreexcursioneer.com) and got a nice discount from the Playa Mia direct rates. We paid for the transportation, which was $7 more than just hiring a cab, but saved us the hassle. Disembarkation We walked-off the ship with our bags and passed through customs in less than 15 minutes. We were in the car and out of the port in around 45 minutes total (that is from the time that we got in-line on the ship until we pulled out of the port). I had to catch another company’s shuttle to the 717 lot, because they never returned my call for their shuttle. We were at work by 10:30 AM, so the 4 day cruise only cost us a half day vacation, thanks to the July 4th holiday. Overall The Carnival Paradise provided a very nice, short cruise. School was out, so there were lots of families, lots of 20 somethings, lots of people from Florida (over half the ship), lots of Carnival style cruising. If you are into a more refined, child free cruise vacation, you probably want to book a different ship or different itinerary. If you are looking for a quick, inexpensive getaway, than this is the perfect ship for you.

4th of July Cruise

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review by Bowman1

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2015
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View
This was our 11th cruise, 3rd on Carnival and 2nd out of the port of Tampa.

Getting to the port and embarkation

Tampa is a very accessible port. The Paradise sails out of terminal 3 – the flow of traffic is quick and efficient. We arrived at 12:45 and were on the ship 20 minutes later. The only issue was parking. We chose the 717 lot at Union Station because of the $5 rate – BIG MISTAKE. There were no signs, no attendant, the lot was unsecured and there was no shuttle (opposite of all things advertised on their website). Pay the extra money and check yelp reviews for the parking you do select. We found that 717 had bad reviews and if we checked that before we booked, we could have avoided the trouble.

Ship and staff

Even though she is 17 years old, the Paradise is in good condition. The staff was friendly and greeted us often. They were constantly cleaning the ship. Service items rarely stayed in hallways or on tables for long. We were in cabin M160 – an outside cabin on the Main Deck. The room was comfortable for 3 people, well appointed and more than adequate for 4 days. Like all Fantasy Class Ships, the Paradise takes some getting used to due to the galley on deck 8. Make sure you visit the forward observation decks in-front of the Normandy Theatre (you need to go through the exit doors on the lower level next to the stage).

The cruise director was very engaging and entertaining. We would like to call out Haley from his staff, who made the trip extra special by setting up a 5 year old age bracket in the Connect 4 tournament. My daughter still carries her 24K plastic ship on a stick around the house. The little things can make a big difference. Thank you Haley!

Dinning

We were a little disappointed with the dining options. The food was the same quality as other Carnival ships (I always love the soups), but the service in the Main Dining Room was lacking. Service in the MDR was slow and the waiters did not remember drink orders or dinning preferences. The MDR did not have a separate lunch menu, opting for an 8 – 1 brunch menu on sea days. It was closed while we were in port. We attended the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast – this was a wonderful touch and significantly better than the DreamWorks breakfast on Royal Caribbean. The food in the Lido was good (especially the Mongolian Buffet), but the lines were often long. This should improve when the Paradise gets the Carnival 2.0 upgrade.

Family programming and entertainment

We travelled with my 5 year old daughter – she was thrilled with the kid’s club staff, wanting to go there every evening. The kids club staff was exceptional, I wish we could call each one of them out by name. They always recognized and greeted our daughter on the ship. They hosted a large family 4th of July dance party in the Rex nightclub - the party was a great time for parents to bond with their kids. The staff looked like they genuinely enjoyed hosting the 4th of July events. The kids club also had a Mardi Gras Party, pom-pom wars, bubble play, tee-shirt making and other innovative activities. The Seuss at Sea Parade was a nice touch – make sure you are there early to get the pom-poms (they ran-out). The main pool and hot tubs were often crowded – almost nobody used the aft pool where there is a small adjoining kid’s pool. My daughter really enjoyed the water slide – she was about an inch short, so we padded her water shoes to give her extra height (make sure that your child is a good swimmer if they are under the 48” limit). We caught the family comedy act and the “8 seconds” show. Both were very good and there was some nice theatrics in 8 seconds.

Ports of Call

Living in Tampa, we had been to Cozumel several times. The ship docks at the downtown pier and there is plenty of tourist shopping right in the port. We went to Playa Mia for the day, leaving the ship at about 9:15 and arriving at Playa Mia around 10. This was our first time at Playa Mia and we were very happy. The resort is not very Mexican, but it was great for families. The splash park was perfect for our daughter; we played on the water slide and had a great time on the floating obstacle course. Contrary to what has been posted, the food was more than sufficient, about the same quality as what is on the Paradise. There was fresh watermelon and papaya, cilantro infused chicken tacos and fresh pico de gallo. The beach area is spacious, with plenty of loungers and despite the amount of people, the park never felt crowded. We had the all-inclusive package – drinks are pre-mixed and not very strong, but after a few doubles, they add up quickly. We booked through Shore Excursioneer (www.shoreexcursioneer.com) and got a nice discount from the Playa Mia direct rates. We paid for the transportation, which was $7 more than just hiring a cab, but saved us the hassle.

Disembarkation

We walked-off the ship with our bags and passed through customs in less than 15 minutes. We were in the car and out of the port in around 45 minutes total (that is from the time that we got in-line on the ship until we pulled out of the port). I had to catch another company’s shuttle to the 717 lot, because they never returned my call for their shuttle. We were at work by 10:30 AM, so the 4 day cruise only cost us a half day vacation, thanks to the July 4th holiday.

Overall

The Carnival Paradise provided a very nice, short cruise. School was out, so there were lots of families, lots of 20 somethings, lots of people from Florida (over half the ship), lots of Carnival style cruising. If you are into a more refined, child free cruise vacation, you probably want to book a different ship or different itinerary. If you are looking for a quick, inexpensive getaway, than this is the perfect ship for you.
Bowman1’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Ages 3 to 6
Service
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Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 6C M160
We were in cabin M160 – an outside cabin on the Main Deck. The room was comfortable for 3 people, well appointed and more than adequate for 4 days
Upper Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Playa Mia
    Living in Tampa, we had been to Cozumel several times. The ship docks at the downtown pier and there is plenty of tourist shopping right in the port. We went to Playa Mia for the day, leaving the ship at about 9:15 and arriving at Playa Mia around 10. This was our first time at Playa Mia and we were very happy. The resort is not very Mexican, but it was great for families. The splash park was perfect for our daughter; we played on the water slide and had a great time on the floating obstacle course. Contrary to what has been posted, the food was more than sufficient, about the same quality as what is on the Paradise. There was fresh watermelon and papaya, cilantro infused chicken tacos and fresh pico de gallo. The beach area is spacious, with plenty of loungers and despite the amount of people, the park never felt crowded. We had the all-inclusive package – drinks are pre-mixed and not very strong, but after a few doubles, they add up quickly. We booked through Shore Excursioneer (www.shoreexcursioneer.com) and got a nice discount from the Playa Mia direct rates. We paid for the transportation, which was $7 more than just hiring a cab, but saved us the hassle.
    View All 13,595 Playa Mia Reviews
  • Tampa
    Tampa is a very accessible port. The Paradise sails out of terminal 3 – the flow of traffic is quick and efficient. We arrived at 12:45 and were on the ship 20 minutes later. The only issue was parking. We chose the 717 lot at Union Station because of the $5 rate – BIG MISTAKE. There were no signs, no attendant, the lot was unsecured and there was no shuttle (opposite of all things advertised on their website). Pay the extra money and check yelp reviews for the parking you do select. We found that 717 had bad reviews and if we checked that before we booked, we could have avoided the trouble.

    For disembarkation, We walked-off the ship with our bags and passed through customs in less than 15 minutes. We were in the car and out of the port in around 45 minutes total (that is from the time that we got in-line on the ship until we pulled out of the port). I had to catch another company’s shuttle to the 717 lot, because they never returned my call for their shuttle.
    View All 577 Tampa Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Tampa Cruise Port Review