Looking for a cruise wife's birthday in March. As all cruisers know from now till September no cheap cruises to be found anywhere. Bahama Paradise Cruise line offered BOGO. I assumed it was like everyone else's BOGO mark it up and say included in price shown (Royal Caribbean favorite). Well to my surprise actually was buy one get one. Naturally port fees ,taxes , gratuities for 2 had to be paid but the fare was $229 for ocean view room and included second person as well. I was about to go with the Groupon offer $199 for 2 inside room then this came up on their website. YES You also get to pick your room! No guarantee room under the night club or in the front of the ship. Called the cruise line confirmed everything over the phone and chose a room in middle of ship deck 4. I was concerned the ship being small would rock n roll but not the case. We did have very calm seas which helped I'm sure.
Now down to the nitty gritty. Embarkation crude very old fashion everything via paperwork. No computers but picture was scanned on your set sail card. We arrived around 12:30 and boarding started at noon. We were on board eating in the buffet by 12:50 just 20 minutes not too bad. I was expecting the usual seat hogs and no tables to eat on while everyone waited for their room to be ready but pleasantly surprised buffet extremely small but plenty of seating available. Second pleasant surprise after setting down to eat and finishing my dessert announcement came rooms were ready! Left buffet went to room 3rd surprise luggage already there and key card in door. These are old fashioned key cards plastic punch key like old computer cards for those old enough to remember. Wow starting out great.
Cabin clean but dated which we expected but very nice. Baths much larger then on newer ships and descent room size. Never did see our room stewart which was unusual but then we got our own ice from buffet each day and had no issues. We are not ones to stay in our room that much. No towel animals somewhat disappointment for my wife but MSC had same deal. Our room was cleaned everyday twice a day and on the last day small chocolate mint. No complaints there as well. Now our shower head was loose and leaking but we managed but does need attention. A/C perfect, new led lighting throughout ship so plenty bright except on top deck at Martian dance floor. Too noisy for us anyway we prefered the jazz and good old rock n roll from the Hollywood Brats in encore lounge (near casino area). Now real pleasant surprise entire ship is no smoking!!! YEA!!! except for top deck port side which we rarely visited. No choking or holding breath going through the casino.
We didn't expect too much for this price so expectations were set low. We kept waiting for something to be terrible but never happened. However if you are that snobby or classy type. You want it all and pampered to your every little need. Gourmet food ,broadway shows, outstanding entertainment this cruise won't be up to par. Nothing wrong with that but just not for you.
The staff amazing , friendly speak english very well, take pride in their work and seem to like there jobs. Buffet you had a choice everyday chicken, fish, beef of some type pizza, spaghetti, and few strange things but I tried a few pretty good. Salad bar was well stock nothing ran out which happened regularly with MSC. Dessert bar decent but don't expect exotic. Wave, the pool side burger joint, had made to order eggs in the AM. Food nothing to write home about but pretty good.
MDR I had steak each night wife tried 2 different things - chicken one night and fish/shrimp jumbalaya the second night.Both were good, but the sides with the chicken were a little unusual. Steak not tough but not prime rib either very good much better then MSC steak which was uneatable and tough.
Service MDR excellent. Victor was our waiter and did outstanding job. Courses came on time and not cold. Variety suffers great deal choice of meats usually fish, beef , or chicken. You can upgrade for more money like other lines surf n turf etc. Our table mates got Filet Mignon and loved it. Overall food good you won't starve and pretty tasty. We loved the midnight snacks at buffet. Again not for the snobby bunch but make your own Taco or Nachos all the cheese and meat you wanted to add. Pizza as with most lines not the greatest but good. 2nd night weird greek stuff just not my style but maybe yours. Hint get the spaghetti ask for extra sauce and you can load it up with cheese at the salad bar. MMM loved it. Tables clean and available almost as soon as the people left they were cleaned another MSC issue dirty tables for extended periods. Can you tell, little disappointed with MSC won't go back unless they make great strides and improvements. MSC only line I was told no can't do this or that.
Now back to this ship and service. Ship is old even the comedian made a few jokes about it's age. However it is clean and sparkles. The theater and elevators clean as a whistle. Royal Caribbean seems to have issues with this on their older ships. Speaking of the theater glad to report unlike Carnival where they think louder is better excellent sound system at appropriate audible levels. Carnival and Royal both could learn a lot from there sound man. That said the not so good. Shows are pretty good especially the illusionist and dancing about average but singing on the main stage pretty bad. Think of American Idol contest some good some bad no out right terrible though.
Mr. Chicago cruise director and his assistant (can't remember her name) do outstanding job keeping the ship hopping. Think of 7 day cruise all shoved into two days! Something for everyone Hip Hop, Latin, jazz, piano bar, rock n roll ,sports bar games etc. Never looking for something to do. We did miss no mini golf or slides. Children area had small slides and small pool. Nicely spaced out bars and smoke free casino, so pleasant surrounding for the rock group. Slots must have been muted some which was nice. You big on gambling they have all the games but not too many slots.
Now the singing and talent outside the main theater much much better. My favorite was the Hollywood j
Brats in Encore as stated above. You get the chance 2 must sees is the Tina Turner impersonator and the illusionist Calvin does some close up magic in sports bar. Even shows you the secret to a few. Tina impersonator was very good as well. Piano bar singer needs work and forgot words at time. That would be a skip for me.
You can't walk from one end of the ship to the other without finding something you love. In this respect, this cruise was much better then any of the major lines I've been on. NCL, RCI, Carnival, and MSC. All fairness no sea day with little or nothing to do but then again the big boys can do better if they try. They don't cater to just to one class young, old, mid age but to all breath of fresh air. Now you want gourmet food, top notch performances, then you wouldn't like this cruise. Some extent you get what you pay for but I feel this is a good value for the buck.
Ship is rather noisy so pick room carefully. We took R99 deck 4 which was perfect. Slight rumble from sea but best sleep ever at sea. Noisy at elevators so try to stay away from the stairs and elevators. Rooms close to the casino and Encore probably also good to avoid for the Quest game show and music goes on till whenever.
This is a low budget cruise so they push drinks hard, and the adult late night comedian show which is extra $12/person we passed on. He does do a few minute complimentary skit before each main event and is very good. Naturally bingo they shove in between the 2 main events and works out pretty well. You'll have to learn to say no often for service is outstanding and everywhere. Minor annoyance and afterwhile they get the message. This ship is not an Oasis of the seas and doesn't pretend to be. Lots of activities missing and somethings need improvement but I wish this company well fighting to survive and apparently doing pretty well.
Almost every inch of this ship is used so finding inside quiet spot is a chore. They don't take up the deck chairs at sunset which is also nice. Have nice tables with candle LED lights pool side in the evening thought that was a nice touch. Staff and service second to none and impossible not to have fun. I did miss my ice cream 24/7 like Carnival and of course Guy's burgers but they do have descent burgers pool side and ice cream during the day. Yes ice cream is soft serve as well as serve yourself but not rationed out like RCI with small cone and dab of ice cream for maybe an hour or two during the day. Be aware wave bar pool side turns into pay at night with different food items. Lots of venues have duel purposes. Lots of upcharges but for the money nice little get away. Now you can nit pick or expect top of the line food and performance but no one can touch their price in the middle of prime season. This cruise is not for the high society type but more middle of the road down to earth people. I found passengers friendly and maybe even a little more respect of others as well. I feel cruise is good value for your dollar and someways better then the big boys. I will be cruising with them again near future and hope the quality stays the same or even better. New ship going through refurbish right now starts sailing April 16. By new I mean old refurbished and small.
Few other last minute things. Shore excursions much more reasonable price then any of the other cruise line sponsored excursions. We took the sightseeing and beach day in large A/C bus runs on hourly schedule for less then just the taxi cost to the beach and back.
Disembark on time and fast. Needing improvement is valet parking while efficient somewhat slow when arriving and is expensive. Slow upon arrival is because passengers not organized not the the valet service. They are standing there waiting to take your call while you get organized. Presently parking $19 per day not as much as some port parking but not cheap either. The need a solution to the parking issue. When they grow some companies will see there is money to be made and work out something. Till then I'll be looking for alternatives to parking issue.
Conclusion you get what you pay for but this cruise is a excellent deal especially for summer cruises with other lines priced out of sight. Nothing outstanding especially in the food line but very good and good value for your buck.
Very clean and nice but aged.