My cruise on the Paradise was my second, and it was not any worse that the last cruise on the Carnival Glory! Size really doesn't matter in cruise ships, I guess. We cruised on August 28, 2004, to the Eastern Caribbean. Anyway, I am a 15 year old from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and I am obsessed with cruising, even though I've only been on 2. My family and I and my cousins and Aunt and Uncle came, too. Cruises are such great family activities! We are planning our next one now, and it will most likely be with Carnival again, since they have proved great to my family and I.
We stayed in Miami for two nights prior to the cruise. I highly recommend this, since it is like a second vacation. I got an incredible deal for a two-night stay at the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort in South Beach through Hotwire.com. I guess this information doesn't matter now, since the Paradise is now cruising from Long Beach, but what the hey.
We all got very excited when we crossed the causeway, and saw Paradise in port. I am still very upset that Carnival removed the No-Smoking rule, since it was the greatest thing in the world!!! We didn't have to kill ourselves by breathing in toxic fumes!! If I ever had the choice to be healthy and have money, or waste hundreds of dollars a month while killing myself, I'll take the former, thank you very much.
EMBARKATION -- I was shocked at how fast the embarkation process took! We drove up to the port, dropped off our bags, then walked to the entrance. The port of Miami was very clean and attractive. We walked into one of the two lines, to pass through security, which took no time at all. Then we went into the line for people who have their Fun Passes completed, like us, and that line just kept moving. There was no point in even putting our bags down. At the counter, we handed the lady our Fun Passes, she checked our passports and we were through. We went up a couple of deserted escalators and then it did get a bit confusing. There was a big open room with a few groups of people around. Then we saw the security officers, so we went to them. They were not very friendly. Then we got into a second line in that room, which was divided with a few ropes. Finally, we went up one more flight of stairs and got our picture taken, then we embarked.
What a first impression!!! An amazing, huge Atrium with crystal eggs all around and on top of all that no smokey smell!!!!! So, we went up to the Lido deck for a great lunch.
DINING -- Carnival never fails to impress their guests with their exceptional food. It is prepared incredibly, it tastes great and what a variety! The Lido restaurant is a great choice for someone who doesn't feel like dressing up and going down to their restaurant. Surprisingly, even the buffet food was prepared exceptionally. There is a great salad bar in the Paris Restaurant and next to it there is a dessert station. Oh my god, they make the BEST Boston cream pie!!! If you ever walk by and see the pie there, be very sure to grab a slice. Or five. The room service has never been known for an incredible menu, but it is a good choice when you are hungry but your favourite movie is on TV. We once ordered about twelve plates of food (my two brothers, me and my two cousins), and we barely even touched the food. The lady who brought all this food did not make us feel embarrassed at all. That sure was a lot of wasted food. Finally, there was the dining room. Oh my god, how can I sum this up to keep it short?!? The dining room was absolutely incredible, despite our awful waiter. He was so bad and he never smiled. His assistant was very nice, but he could not make up for all the gloominess that came out of our head waiter. He was extremely sarcastic and quite rude (made mean hand gestures behind the other family while they were ordering to impress us, which was a little funny). He also always mixed up our orders and when we told him he would refuse to admit that he was wrong. It was hilarious! Most people would complain about him, but they have got to lighten up. People should stop being so picky. Surprisingly, our head waiter almost made our cruise even better. He was so bad, it was funny! We would make jokes about him right in front of him, and we had a lot of fun. Sometimes, you have to make the best out of the situation! Anyway, the food was exquisite and delicious, and worth the money. The espressos are great; they are free after dinner, but they cost money at the cafe, so take advantage of the after dinner coffee! The ice cream and frozen yogurt were a big hit; and I can see why! Who would turn down free soft serve at anytime that you wish with any quantity, and a choice of 6 kinds (ice cream -- vanilla-chocolate, swirl; frozen yogurt -- chocolate-vanilla, swirl)?! What a deal. And who can forget the pizza ... what can I say? It tastes better than any old pizza place back at home, and the hours are great -- 24 hours a day -- and the price is right -- FREE!!! Food is a big part of cruising, and Carnival has got it down!
PUBLIC ROOMS -- Since my aunt is English, we spent a lot of time every afternoon in the America Bar. The selection of tea was great, and the finger sandwiches were great too. And how could I forget the live piano playing? The America Bar is worth looking into. The Fantasy class ships do not have as many useless lounges, which is fine, since they are useless! On the Glory, there were tons of unused rooms, which were cool to look at but pointless in the end. Instead, the Paradise took a different approach -- there will not be as many rooms, but they will all be used sufficiently! This means less wasted space and less travel time from room to room! The library has always been a mystery to me ... why do they have one when the books are rarely available? Can't they hire a librarian or something? We did use it once; we borrowed a board game, that we never played, then returned it at the end of the cruise. It looked like the casino was a big hit ... too bad I'm only 15 ...
CABINS -- We had an inside cabin, on the Empress Deck, which has yet to cease to amaze me. How can a great room fit into a small space like this? Inside cabins really are okay, outside cabins are not necessary. We had a little basket of goodies in the bathroom with Tylenol PM, Rolaids, trial packs of shampoo and conditioner, and more. I really like the Lever 200 soap! If you want an even better shower, check out the Spa showers, they have 5 jets; one from the top, and two from each side of you! You don't even have to move to rinse off!! More about the spa below. Anyway, again, our cabin stewards were not very good, but they did not ruin our vacation, like it sounds like in other reviews. Again, I will repeat myself, for all of you drama queens out there who hate vacations because their cabin steward made the same animal twice in a row — LIGHTEN UP!!! You're on a cruise, enjoy yourself! Our cabin steward was awful — she made the animals way too early and she didn't even talk — But it didn't ruin our vacation. We just let it slide. Overall, we loved the whole cabin situation.
ENTERTAINMENT -- I don't care what anybody says- Jeff Brrrrrrronson was funny!!! Maybe I am easily amused, but I really enjoyed him. I even got to meet him, and he was very nice. He may make some corny jokes, so if he does, laugh with him and at him at the same time! Trust me, it works. The crew of the Paradise did a great job with all the shows — they were all great (I went to EVERY one!) and funny, and just plain shocking. The comedian was picking on my brothers, my cousins and I because we are Canadian, and it was the best time of our lives!! We were the centre of attention in the Normandie Lounge, which is the biggest room on the ship! And it was full! He kept calling us punk teenagers, and making us laugh, and he even asked us questions that we answered, and he repeated them to the audience! This was the best moment of my life -- on a cruise ship, that is! The midnight comedy shows, which I snuck into, were pretty bland. The jokes were not very funny, and he really didn't connect with the audience. The mini game shows like Win, Lose or Draw and the Newlywed Game, were all a lot of fun. Lots of audience participation and lots of laughs.
FITNESS & RECREATION -- The spa was the bomb!! Wow, there was a steam room and a sauna and the most incredible showers! There were also two Jacuzzis and a fitness room, and private treatment rooms and a salon, and massage rooms! At the beginning of the cruise, a lady walked up to my mom and asked her if she wanted to be a model for the spa. This means that she gets a free treatment and people who take the spa tour at the beginning if the cruise walk in and see how the whole spa works. Of course, my mom said yes so she was off for a free treatment for half the day. Carnival, you know how to treat your guests. Of course, I had to see! So me and one of my two brothers (they are 17 and 19, the 19 year old came with me), went to go on the spa tour to see our mom. She happened to be in the first room getting some sort of seaweed treatment to soften her skin. When we walked in she was wrapped in a foil bag lying on her back! How funny! She said it was an incredible treatment and she would even pay to get it again. The fitness room, which is in the same area as the spa, was a bit small, but was packed with new, state-of-the-art equipment. Unfortunately, it was a little crowded, but what do you expect when you are on a cruise full of non-smokers -- we care about our health! Now, I am not a girl, so I would never dare take one step into a salon, but it looked appealing to the women on board. There were tons of specialists on board. My mom and cousin both got braids done in their hair and they loved it! The only problem is that if you are under 18 the receptionists give you a very hard time. I find them very rude, and I really don't like their attitude, but this did not ruin my cruise!
FAMILY -- With my first experiences of Camp Carnival on the Glory, I was not impressed. The activities were not organized nor did they ever happen. However, on the Paradise, the Camp Carnival program was a lot better. I met a lot of kids my age, and I had a lot of fun. We played cards, danced in the teen disco, ate and just chilled and talked. The only good part of the Camp Carnival, in my opinion, was the ease to meet kids. And that is all I wanted to do.
FELLOW PASSENGERS -- There were not many groups of people who stood out attitude-wise. Everyone seemed to respect each other, so it all worked out. The Americans obviously dominated the ship, but there were also quite a few Canadians, like me, and there were Mexicans, people from the United Kingdom and there were some Asian people, too. There were no pushy groups, and no one gave anybody any trouble.
ITINERARY -- We were scheduled to go to St. Thomas, Nassau and the Dominican Republic, but because of Hurricane Ivan, we went to Nassau, Jamaica and Cozumel. We also spent an extra night on the ship for free because the hurricane was in Miami on the day of return! How fun! An 8 day cruise is always better than a 7 day cruise!
Nassau, Bahamas -- We decided to book through Carnival, and go to the Blue Lagoon Stingray encounter. I wish it could have turned out better for me! We sat inside the boat (not a good idea!), so I got extremely nauseous. My stomach kept flipping, and it ached sooooooo much! When we got off the ship, I threw up in the sand. And that's not all. I found out that is I moved too fast for my body, my stomach would get angry and would punish me by aching for another 5 minutes. Over the 4-hour stay, this happened about 20 times, including twice while I was snorkeling with the stingrays! Bummer. Despite this, I somehow had a good time. I fed the stingrays then I got out and relaxed on the hammock to relax my stomach. We finally decided to walk back toward the dock area to watch people swim with dolphins. That looked like fun. On the way back from the Blue Lagoon, somehow, my stomach stopped aching, so I bought a T-Shirt at Senor Frogs. That was a cool place.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- I love Jamaica!! The people there were very nice, and our shore excursion was great! We went outside and made a deal with a cab driver. So we were off to Dunns River Falls to climb them! How cool! When we arrived, we got water shoes, and then walked out to the falls to wait for a bit. I went with my brother (17 year old) and my cousin, to walk into the falls, for some reason. Do not do this!! Wait for your guide to take you to the bottom! Anyway, I knew we weren't supposed to be in the water, so we all got out. Then, we could not find our group! We were lost in Jamaica! We looked everywhere, but we could not find them. I panicked, and started running around looking for my family, then, when I was turning around a corner, I slipped, and scraped my leg on the concrete. Ouch!! That ruined my day. Too bad, since the shore excursion really was a lot of fun. P.S. I found my family at the top, exactly where we started.
Cozumel, Mexico -- Cozumel is and has always been one of the best places for beaches with action. We went to a beach, of which I forgot the name, and it was a lot of fun. There was a water trampoline, a big inflatable igloo and lots of equipment to rent. We decided to get henna tattoos at a booth, and that was a lot of fun. Then, we rented a really cool piece of equipment; it was yellow and snorkelers and scuba divers use it for getting around easier. It has a fan and you hold on to it with both hands. When you want it to go, you put the little piece of metal on your thumb, and you press it against another piece of metal on the equipment. This completes the circuit, and the fan blows then it pulls you around! That was worth the money.
OVERALL -- Overall, this was the best vacation of my life! Cruising is the way to go, and now my family knows that. I want to finish with one point — I am very ashamed of Carnival for removing the no-smoking rule, since it really was a godsend for non-smokers. Their excuses for doing so are all below-par, and they are not convincing anyone. I will always think just a bit less of Carnival now — you proved that you really do care more about money than your customer satisfaction.