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Decided to try a Carnival small ship we've never been on, the Carnival Paradise. Embarkation was a mess, took more then 2 hours from the time we arrived at our picked time at the port. Seems the times you pick to show up to get on the ship are ignored! Once on the ship, we were pleasantly surprised with the condition of this older ship, was in much better condition then our last cruise on the RCL Majesty. Food in the buffet all through the trip was of a better quality, and larger selection then what we have received on any RCL ship. The same can be said of the selections and quality of food in the dining room for dinner, we were quite satisfied with the food offered by the Paradise! We did not try any offerings of extra pay food, but it was limited if that's your preference, this isn't your cruise. Because kids were in school, there were very few young children, a few looking high school age, but mostly this cruise was a senior/middle aged cruise! Maybe because of the size of the ship, but at ports, only one exit/entrance was used which can block things up a bit at busy times, could easily be fixed by opening up second access that was kept only for crew! The cabin we had, an ocean view at the back of the ship was on the 5th deck. We felt a little vibration when the ship was under full power the first night, and last day, but because it was centered in location we felt no other movement. Walking in the ship, the first night, and on the last day when the ship was crossing the Gulf from Mexico towards Tampa you did the 'drunk walk' I call it, where you can't walk straight, but it was very manageable! Seems all the smaller ships have to deal with this, the Majesty crossing the Gulf Stream towards the Bahamas is famous for its 'drunk walk' the first night also! The cabin at 185 sq ft was 1/3 larger then the average ocean view on the Majesty, it was very comfortable, the shower was large enough for guy my size, overall we were quite satisfied, and as we are usually Balcony cruisers, that's saying something. The regular drinks were around $8-$8.50, and $3. more for a double, which seemed like a fair price in cruising the last few years, the drinks were free poured, not those computerized pour machines, so it made you feel like you got a little extra! In the Buffet they had a draft beer machine located on both sides of the buffet which used your room key, charged by the ounce you wanted to pour. In the back of the buffet was a full service bar that seemed always open. Sandwiches and Pizza in the buffet were some of the best quality we've had at sea, far better then Royal Caribbean! You gotta try the Mongollian Wok/Noodle offerings in the pool area open during lunch, a really good selection of quality buffet food. Pools are small on this ship, so if pools are your thing, pick another ship! As most will state in reviews, the Casino is smokey, likely because the casino along with the bar just outside the casino are the only places on the ship, inside you can smoke, so if it bothers you, stay away from these 2 areas. Like to see Carnival to go smoke free in the casino, let the smokers talk a walk if they are in need of a fix!!! The entertainment was 2 comedy shows every night, 1 kid friendly, 1 adults only and they were very popular, and very good. There was 2 nights of different rock and roll shows of singing and dancing, and honestly it was some of the best we've seen on cruises, except for the RCL Broadway shows on their bigger ships. Can't remember the name, but one night the cruise director ran a 3 couple show of questions that was very entertaining. Karaoke seemed to be every night, and when we passed by, or stopped in, seems to be very popular on Carnival. Availability of drinks by waiters around the ship was very good, you'll have no problem getting a drink! Overall this cruise on a smaller Carnival ship was very positive, and we felt it was better then RCL's smaller ship offerings because of quality of food in the buffet and dining room, a far larger cabin then RCL offers, and because of a slightly better conditioned ship then RCL's smaller ships! Next will be a comparison with NCL's smaller offering, the Sky.

Surprised

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review by AmBear

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Trip Details
Decided to try a Carnival small ship we've never been on, the Carnival Paradise.

Embarkation was a mess, took more then 2 hours from the time we arrived at our picked time at the port. Seems the times you pick to show up to get on the ship are ignored!

Once on the ship, we were pleasantly surprised with the condition of this older ship, was in much better condition then our last cruise on the RCL Majesty.

Food in the buffet all through the trip was of a better quality, and larger selection then what we have received on any RCL ship. The same can be said of the selections and quality of food in the dining room for dinner, we were quite satisfied with the food offered by the Paradise! We did not try any offerings of extra pay food, but it was limited if that's your preference, this isn't your cruise.

Because kids were in school, there were very few young children, a few looking high school age, but mostly this cruise was a senior/middle aged cruise!

Maybe because of the size of the ship, but at ports, only one exit/entrance was used which can block things up a bit at busy times, could easily be fixed by opening up second access that was kept only for crew!

The cabin we had, an ocean view at the back of the ship was on the 5th deck. We felt a little vibration when the ship was under full power the first night, and last day, but because it was centered in location we felt no other movement. Walking in the ship, the first night, and on the last day when the ship was crossing the Gulf from Mexico towards Tampa you did the 'drunk walk' I call it, where you can't walk straight, but it was very manageable! Seems all the smaller ships have to deal with this, the Majesty crossing the Gulf Stream towards the Bahamas is famous for its 'drunk walk' the first night also!

The cabin at 185 sq ft was 1/3 larger then the average ocean view on the Majesty, it was very comfortable, the shower was large enough for guy my size, overall we were quite satisfied, and as we are usually Balcony cruisers, that's saying something.

The regular drinks were around $8-$8.50, and $3. more for a double, which seemed like a fair price in cruising the last few years, the drinks were free poured, not those computerized pour machines, so it made you feel like you got a little extra! In the Buffet they had a draft beer machine located on both sides of the buffet which used your room key, charged by the ounce you wanted to pour. In the back of the buffet was a full service bar that seemed always open.

Sandwiches and Pizza in the buffet were some of the best quality we've had at sea, far better then Royal Caribbean! You gotta try the Mongollian Wok/Noodle offerings in the pool area open during lunch, a really good selection of quality buffet food.

Pools are small on this ship, so if pools are your thing, pick another ship!

As most will state in reviews, the Casino is smokey, likely because the casino along with the bar just outside the casino are the only places on the ship, inside you can smoke, so if it bothers you, stay away from these 2 areas. Like to see Carnival to go smoke free in the casino, let the smokers talk a walk if they are in need of a fix!!!

The entertainment was 2 comedy shows every night, 1 kid friendly, 1 adults only and they were very popular, and very good.

There was 2 nights of different rock and roll shows of singing and dancing, and honestly it was some of the best we've seen on cruises, except for the RCL Broadway shows on their bigger ships. Can't remember the name, but one night the cruise director ran a 3 couple show of questions that was very entertaining.

Karaoke seemed to be every night, and when we passed by, or stopped in, seems to be very popular on Carnival.

Availability of drinks by waiters around the ship was very good, you'll have no problem getting a drink!

Overall this cruise on a smaller Carnival ship was very positive, and we felt it was better then RCL's smaller ship offerings because of quality of food in the buffet and dining room, a far larger cabin then RCL offers, and because of a slightly better conditioned ship then RCL's smaller ships!

Next will be a comparison with NCL's smaller offering, the Sky.
AmBear’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 6B
185 sq ft OV is quite comfortable when compared to RCL's Majesty 122 sq ft. OV!
The only negative is there is no frig, you got to use your ice bucket for all cooling.
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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    First, its a long pier, but they got a shuttle that runs about every 10 mins, good idea in the heat!
    The port is made up of a bunch of stores seemingly selling the same goods, but the prices will vary, so check them out, and barter, if you don't get your price, walk away!
    We sat at a bar next to the dolphin exhibit, watched them for about an hour, in the shade with a nice breeze, it was quite enjoyable!
    There is a closed beach area right next to the pier on the right as you enter the port, can't imagine why they don't use that area, but want you to go a few miles south to some beach areas that are very shallow, more for laying in the water, then swimming!
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  • Nachi Cocom Beach Club
    We took a $17 taxi ride out to the resort, very clean, very nice pool, beach was sandy with very few rocks or seaweed, food was good, drinks were good, and if you stayed near the pool bar, you could drink one after another if that was your thing! The day we were there was quiet, only about half the 130 max they allow which was great for us! We got covered chairs right on the water, sitting there in the shade, getting up to take an occasional swim, sit back with a drink, or some food, great day to chill!
    Not the place if you're a excitement junkie, this place is for those looking to chill!
    We'll definitely be back!
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  • Tampa
    Easy to park across the street in the parking garage, costs $15. a day, just recommend you drop off your luggage first, then park.
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