Originally we were scheduled to sail on the Carnival Triumph out of New Orleans. Due to our daughter getting a Disney Internship job in Florida, we switched ships and sailed on the Carnival Paradise out of Tampa.
Check-in went fairly smooth. We purchased the "Faster To The Fun" package which I do recommend. It got us onboard a few hours before everyone else and there were some other perks during the cruise. The only issue we had was that I bought a Carnival gift card to use as spending money. I called Carnival previously to see if this could be put on our onboard account and was assured that wouldn't be an issue. After about 30 minutes and several people later, they figured out how to add it to our account. They were very pleasant so we weren't too upset.
The ship is one of Carnival's older ships, but it wasn't too bad. It was clean and well-maintained. I had read that there was a smokey smell on another review, but we never smelled it. A few days before we left for our cruise, Carnival called and asked my husband if he would like to upgrade to a junior balcony suite for an extra $350. At the time, we had an ocean view room, so we decided to upgrade. it was a nice room and the balcony had a great view, but their definition of a junior suite is a bit exaggerated. The room wasn't really any bigger than other rooms on the ship, but it had a balcony so I'm not complaining.
We had decided beforehand not to do any excursions. Originally this was a cruise for myself and my husband, but we ended up taking our 16 year old son with us. (He had recently become involved with his first girlfriend and we were a little reluctant to give him access to an unsupervised house. Our older daughter was supposed to be there, but got the Disney job so we decided it was in our best interest to take him with us. :) ) The room had a king size bed and a fold out couch. There was plenty of storage for our bags and a lot of cabinet space. If I remember correctly, this was one of the perks to the junior suite. We had no problems with the room at all. Our cabin steward was very nice and always had the room done on time.
Together, this was our third cruise together. I had been on two previously. We sailed on the Carnival Valor and on Royal Caribbean's Oasis Of The Seas. Due to the cost and the fact that we had an excellent experience on the Valor, we decided to book with Carnival this time.
Our cruise director, Brandon, was awesome and was really involved with the guests. He was always out and about chatting it up with the guests and encouraged everyone to take a selfie with him. On my previous cruises I had not seen that. We only saw the cruise director occasionally and honestly, they weren't overly friendly. Brandon was great. I can't remember his last name. All I remember is that he is from Canada.
The food on the Paradise was average. It wasn't horrible, but definitely the worst that we have had. We primarily ate at the buffet since we planned on just having a very relaxing cruise. We only ate in the dining room one time and we were not impressed with the food there as well. I'm not saying the food was bad. It reminded me of a Golden Corral type buffet, although I have to say Golden Corral is sometimes better.
The entertainment was very good. Their shows were well rehearsed and thoroughly enjoyed them. There were two comedians that were pretty good. For the life of me, I can only remember one of them, John Wesley Austin. He was very funny.
We went to Cozumel and Grand Caymen on our cruise. We just got off the ship and did some shopping and then returned to an almost empty ship to spend the day. It was great to be able to sit wherever you wanted at the pool! Both cities were nice and clean and we had no problems at all.
The one thing about the cruise that took my rating from a 4 to a 3, was the lack of gift shops. There are two gift shops on board. I always buy a t-shirt and other ship souvenir type things on cruises. BOTH shops were closed during our cruise for a complete renovation. They would sell emergency type supplies (toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, etc) in the hallway outside every night. When I asked when the shops would open, I was assured that they would open the next day. They never did open. I do not get why they had to renovate both shops at the same time. How about do one shop one week and the other shop the next week. Oh well! Carnival probably lost at least $100 from me and I am sure from many other passengers. Not a smart thing to do.
Overall, we had a good time, but I doubt we will travel on the Paradise or her sister ships anymore. I still plan to sail with Carnival in the future though, (I have booked a trip with my daughter for October 2017 on the Triumph). I hope this review was helpful.
Cabin was clean and had a nice balcony, but not what I expected for a junior suite. It was relatively small, but did have a lot of storage area and cabinet space. The shower was awesome and had great water pressure.
The port isn't in the nicest area of Tampa, but we had no problems finding it and the port was nicely run.
Beautiful city and lots of shopping available. We were only in town for a couple of hours so it is difficult to fairly review Grand Cayman. What we saw was nice.