35 Miami Carnival Paradise Cruise Reviews

EMBARKATION: This was very prompt. When we arrived there was only a few people in line. Very quick! CABIN: The cabin was a good size. Rather small, but that is to be expected on a cruise. THE SHIP ITSELF: I do not have any other ships ... Read More
EMBARKATION: This was very prompt. When we arrived there was only a few people in line. Very quick! CABIN: The cabin was a good size. Rather small, but that is to be expected on a cruise. THE SHIP ITSELF: I do not have any other ships to compare this one to, but overall I thought it was really nice. DINING: Dinner ranged from average to wonderful!! Breakfast and lunch we always ate buffet, and these were average to good. Nothing exceptional but nothing bad either! The fruit is WONDERFUL!! CRUISE STAFF: Everyone that we came in contact with was great, and did a wonderful job taking care of us!!! EXCURSIONS: (We chose to do all Carnival sponsored excursions) BELIZE: In Belize we did the city tour and zoo. This was very interesting and I was able to see many different types of animals. It was kind of sad as they are in cages but they did say that these animals were rescued from injuries in nature. ISLA ROATAN: We went to the Dolphin encounter and tabaya beach. This was a wonderful excursion and I would do it again in a minute!! If you get a chance please do this! GRAND CAYMAN: We went to stingray city on this tour, and it was amazing!! COZUMEL: We went to Tulum, the Mayan Ruins. This was spectacular!!! It is a must see, something not to be missed. If going from Cozumel, though, beware of that ROUGH ferry ride!!!! SHOPPING: Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was our New Years cruise on the Paradise, our 4th cruise, 3rd on Carnival. For comparison purposes, we have sailed on the Destiny, and Conquest prior. I apologize in advance for sometimes jumping around and being wordy, but, as this ... Read More
This was our New Years cruise on the Paradise, our 4th cruise, 3rd on Carnival. For comparison purposes, we have sailed on the Destiny, and Conquest prior. I apologize in advance for sometimes jumping around and being wordy, but, as this cruise is over, This review helps us to relive some of our great times and share some of our ideas with others. As this is an older ship, the dEcor and layout has been penned by many other authors far more accomplished to the task than I could hope to, therefore I will relate more about our experiences. I hope you enjoy! EMBARKATION We arrived in Florida on Sat (giving us the 1 day buffer making sure we had no problems with storms or security) and relaxed at relatives. Got to the pier around noon. It took about 30 minutes to get through the security checkpoint and we handed our luggage to the porters at about 12:30 PM and joined the many others in the "fun pass" line. Even though the line was fairly long we had our boarding passes and were ready to board the ship by 1:30 PM. The one big plus we all noticed as soon as we stepped on is how clean the air in this smokeless ship was. Everywhere you went, especially the lounges, not having to walk through a cloud of cigarette exhaust was truly wonderful. After boarding the ship we headed to our cabin to drop off our carry-on luggage and decided to visit the first of our many trips to the buffet and pizza. We were happily greeted by waiters with champagne which was a very nice touch. Unfortunately then we were presented with the current standard of Carnival buffet. I don't know if other lines have also cut back on the buffet, but Carnivals offerings I felt were scant and just not all that appealing. Unlike the newer Conquest class, which offers burgers, chicken, and steak, the grill by the pool on the Paradise offered only burgers and fries. Maybe I am getting too much Carnival, but even the pizza was not as great as I remembered only 5 months earlier on the Conquest. Anyway after a bite for lunch we toured the ship as this was our first adventure on a Fantasy class. The layout was very easy to follow and nicely decorated. We then went to our room to check on luggage and meet the steward. We brought a small holiday gift along with a pretip. We were 4 people in an outside room, and with 4 of us I knew taking care of our cabin would be a challenge. Jerry, the steward was grateful and took great care of us the whole week. That service started when I mentioned the aroma which arose from the toilet when you lifted the cover. Jerry said he would scrub and make it better. I learned from this board that the aroma was something many people found on this ship. We went for dinner and were seated at a table for 10. All the people were very nice, however we had requested a private table for the 4 of us, as this was a special celebrations cruise and wanted to be just us for a change. The Matre'd was great and switched us the next night. Our dining staff, consisting of Vtor and Jolita. Vtor was right out of a comic book. He was a spitting image of Danny DeVito (size and mannerisms), and because he was from Portugal, he rolled every other word he said. We fell in love with both of them and mimicked them the rest of the cruise. Their service was outstanding by the way. We went to the welcomed show that night to meet the CD Shawn Bussey, who along with her assistants Tina and Brett, were a great team, certainly worthy of giving John Herald a run for the money. My only complaint is enough of the minister joke. Hey Carnival, write some new material. For those of you who have cruised Carnival before, I am sure you know what I am talking about, for those of you who are new to cruising, I don't want to go into more detail and ruin any experience you may have. The CD, her assistants, and all the entertainment staff, except for the magician, were all good. The magician just could not grab the audience. After the show it was back to the Lido deck for some late night pizza and then we headed back to the cabin to get some much needed rest for our first "Fun Day at Sea". FUN DAY at SEA: We were on the Upper deck by the rear of the ship. The ship was very rocky. Since we departed Florida, the ship was very rocky. Except for my dw, the rest of the family loved the motion, but it was rough for my dw. I'm not sure if it was the motion or the mere fact we were so exhausted that had us sleeping like rocks. We awoke around 10:00 AM to a continuation of the aroma. I again mentioned it to Jerry who said he will bleach the bathroom. We missed breakfast, as we will learn will become commonplace and decided to try the breakfast buffet. Carnival, move your omelets station!!!. It created long lines at the breakfast every day. We then moseyed out to the pool area to get chairs. See I can be a comedian too. Finding a chair was akin to winning the free cruise bingo. Chair saving was out of hand. This was when I really wished they had balcony rooms on this ship. We eventually found some chairs. Between the continued rough motion, and sun, and, OK, a few foo foo drinks, we fell asleep again. We got in time for one of our many trips to Karaoke. My 16 y/o daughter kept many people entertained with her singing and very contagious laughter. I should also mention at this point, our 4th member of our cabin was our 20y/o son who kept many of the women entertained during the cruise. Both of our kids had a great time due to the number of friends they met. According to Carnival, there were in excess of 800 people under 19 on board. Except for very few, too few to even matter, there were no problems at all on this ship with kids. The typical "running in the halls" and craziness other writers have mentioned on these boards in the past, were not to be found on this cruise. We then dressed for our first formal evening and ventured into the dining room. I'm not sure why, but the dining room did not open its doors for almost 20 minutes. We were cramped into the hallway and could not move until the doors opened. One teenager freaked out in the middle of this crowd, and they literally had no where to bring her. Suddenly an elevator opened and they managed to get her over to it and out of the crowd. We really felt sorry for her. Anyway, one outstanding meal they had was the rack of lamb. We had 3 portions, the lobster was just ok. Except for the lamb and the cold soups (mango and strawberry were not to be missed), nothing else was noteworthy. That of course did not stop me from gaining 10 lbs mind you!!! Night time was consumed with much the same each evening. Pictures, shows, buffet, drinks, and fun. Now you understand why we only made 1 breakfast. BELIZE: Awoke to the aroma, which we now nicknamed the "wild thing". Jerry was scrubbing as you could smell the bleach but it just did not help. I call the purser this time who said he would call the plumber to check it out. He arrived in minutes and said it could not be from the ship, it had to be cleaning. We told him our steward was scrubbing and he just said I will talk to your steward. At this point we figured this is just the way it will be and had to put up with it. Anyway, this was our first encounter with Belize so I wanted to take in some local flavor. We felt we had plenty of time for beaches later in the week. We tendered into a very nice dock area and found Fred. Fred was a local driver who talked us into seeing some monkey's, my daughter's favorite animal, at a local zoo. First after a short tour of the island, he brought us to the Belize Zoo. I was all set to be bored as the last thing I wanted was to walk around and waste my vacation at some local animal rest home, when if I really wanted to visit a zoo, could go to some great ones in the US. I was wrong. The BZ was a small intimate natural habitat with no cages or bars. It was wonderful and no zoo in the US that I have been, had me confront a puma, face to face, 14 inches apart. The animals were not drugged, sleeping (except for the puma), or shy. These animals were all moving and acting on their individual instincts. In the meantime, Fred took us around to show us all the highlights of both animals and local flora. He also was pointing out all the animals, which were using their natural camouflage. We would never have found those animals on our own. We saw many usual as well as unusual local creatures and heard all their histories. Fred then brought us back another way, giving more history of Belize, back to the tender. Just so you have a sense of comparison, Fred was with us all day. We originally agreed on $75.00 for all 4 of us, but I gave him $100.00. He was wonderful. All in all, a nice port stop. When we got back to the room there was a knock on the door. It was the ships engineer who came to sample "the wild thing". He said he would be right back and in about 10 minutes the plumber came back and said I have your new toilet here. Sure enough they brought this big cart with a new toilet still wrapped up and installed the brand new toilet and that was the last of "the wild thing". We played our version of bingo to see who would inaugurate it. ISLE ROOTAN: This was our least liked stop. We are ones who choose activities on our own. We research areas we are going to and read experiences of others on this board to help make our decisions. This is one of the very few stops I would recommend booking through the ship. This island is very poverty stricken. Its lush physical beauty is overcome by the sadness you have seeing its people. Reading others accounts of this island prompted me to do a little exploring while my family readied themselves. When you get off the ship, you are behind a fenced in area where you are pummeled by taxi drivers. I exited past the gates to be greeted by Harry and his brother. Harry was on break from school going into the 3rd grade while his brother was going into 2nd grade. They wanted a few dollars to be our guide for the day. They brought me to a driver who agreed to take us to the beach. I went back aboard to fetch my family and make up a quick care package for the kids. By the time we got off, they were already gone. The poverty is overwhelming. We found another taxi driver to take us to Tapiana beach where Carnival's excursion was going. When we got to the beach we were told it is a private beach for the exclusive use of Carnival excursions. By the time we got to the next beach it started to rain very hard so we decided to head back to the ship. The driver felt bad so he invited us back to his house. He said he would cook us iguana. He said it would be the best iguana we ever had. I told him I was sorry but on Atkins we were not allowed iguana. Carnival is very inventive here. They invested a large sum of money to create the only great beach around and forces you to purchase their excursion to use it. We were back on ship by 1pm and just vegged out the afternoon at the pool and spa. Later that afternoon, we received a letter under our door, sorry for the aroma and appreciate your patience and gave us a discount on our next Carnival cruise. Thank you Carnival. NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY: At dinner time they gave out party hats and noisemakers. After dinner and show we made our way to the Lido deck. The hot tubs had been closed at 5:00 PM that day and a big cloth was draped over them. Later the hot tubs were filled with ice and bottles of champagnes for sale. By about 11:30 PM the waiters starting passing out the free champagne and we made sure to get our fill prior to the countdown. They had the 2003 sign up on the funnel and you could see the outline of the four behind the three. The band was playing loud while the CD and crew were doing a countdown. At midnight the ship kept blaring its horn, the band rocked, the champagne and drinks poured, kisses and hugs were everywhere. It was paradise on Paradise. What a wild party We partied until about 1:30 AM and then headed to get some late night food at the buffet. We finally made our way up to the cabin about 3:00 AM as we had Grand Cayman in just a few hours. GRAND CAYMAN: Once again we missed breakfast as we knew the tender lines would be long. Our last visit to GC brought us to stingray city via a great company "nativeway" and highly recommend it for anyone who has not done it before, so we decided this time we would just beach it. We got off the tender at about noon and headed to a cab to the beach opposite the Holiday Inn. It was a nice beach. Fun, sun, and snorkeling. GC was a quick stop so we did some quick local shopping, got back to tender and back on board. This was our next formal night. So we had plenty of time to pamper and take pictures. COZUMEL: Cozumel turned out to be the highlight of our ports. We rented an open air Jeep in advanced and had planned to go to Chankanab Park. Our ship was docked at a different port from the main dock so we had a little hike to Avis. Along the way I spoke to an American who was living in Cozumel and told us to go to Paradise beach on the east coast and Playa Bineto on the west coast. Both were free and only wanted you to buy drinks. Paradise beach was a beautiful beach with a floating trampoline and climbing ice berg. They also had plenty of non motorized boats and floats free for anyone use, as well as wave runners and parasailing for rent. There were plenty of chairs, chaises, and hammocks complete with stewards to clean off chairs, bring drinks, or adjust umbrellas. It was not crowded and just wonderful. We did not feel we needed to go anywhere else accept we decided after all we had the jeep, let's go for a ride. We were told the other side of the island had quite a surf and sandy beach instead of a rocky one. We found the other beach and felt we were on Gilligan's Island. There were about a dozen chairs with umbrellas and a small bar with beers at $1.00 each. The water was warmer with waves 5-6'. We had a blast. With a breathtaking sunset over the horizon, we set sail back to town for a little visit to Carlos and Charlie's. Along the way we found a small stand selling 15 flavors of Tequila. After sampling each one and buying several bottles we staggered to C&C for a yard. It was great staying in Cozumel til 11pm. We barely made it back on. FUN AND LAST DAY at SEA: Today I awoke feeling the same rocking though this time I think it was more post Carlos N Charlie's than the waves. We had a good time. My dw and daughter got up early in order to get on the list for talent night. We followed somewhat thereafter. Depression is starting to settle in as we know this last day means packing and goodbyes. Most of this beautiful day was divided between sunning, shopping, and thinking by this time tomorrow, someone else will be in our room listing to our Vtor and his great accent. We made sure we had our last slices of pizza and Cesar salad DEBARKATION: Par for the course we woke up late again. We did make it off in time to see our luggage sitting all alone in the luggage warehouse. We were truly the last ones off the ship. Each time we passed a security agent he would say into the walkie talkie, yes here they come now. Needless to say, we had absolutely no problems getting off our private yacht. No lines, no hassle and a porter just waiting to escort us and our luggage. LAST MENTIONS: Jill and Malcom, it was great meeting you. We wished there was more time to spend together, maybe in some future cruise. Spoobs, sorry we missed you and hope you had a great cruise. There is so much I forgot to mention I thought I would just p.s. them here. Our steward was not just a steward who left towel animals, but indeed a towel animal artist. One night he created a guy, must have used 6 towels, complete with sunglasses, the headset from a cd player, reading a copy of the Carnival Caper. We walked into the room and just cracked up, we named him Clyde. (don't know why). We attended all the shows except the Mexican evening. We had our own Mexican evening. As I mentioned all the stage shows as well as the visiting guests were wonderful. Room service was a game. It seemed no matter how specific, or how many times we went over our order, they would just change the order. We started wagering between ourselves, which dishes would be changed. We would order hot chocolate and get ice tea, order roast beef and get ham and cheese. It became comical For the life of me, I do not understand how someone who could design such a great ship could design such a lousy showroom. I sometimes thought there were more poles than seats. Downstairs was mostly OK except the seats were very uncomfortable. Up stairs, the seats were comfortable though 85% of the seats had obstructed views. Really obstructed. Avoid upstairs at all costs, get there earlier. The stage productions and especially lighting were excellent. Service and helpfulness throughout the ship by most all the crew were excellent. The casino was never crowded and the dealers were always willing to help a novice guest. Sushi offered 4 items each day. They left much to be desired. Sushi fans, pass on this. Sushi novices, don't judge sushi by what you taste here. Carnival collects and stacks chairs from around the pool by 7pm and closes the pool about the same. As we love to lie out late at night, under the stars, Carnival makes it troublesome to unstick the chairs you want. The dinner meals were good but the buffets were really a let down. GOOD: Cozumel, rack of lamb, new years eve party. The Grand Marnier soufflE. Carnivals response to "the wild thing". The Belize Zoo. The weather - not blazing hot, warm for swimming and yet great tanning time. The crew. The pizza, of course. Smokefree. BAD: chair savers, The upstairs in the showroom, Sushi, did I mention chair savers? This is an area that Carnival needs to address and hopefully makes corrections in the future. Overall, I think this may have been our best cruise yet. The hassle of dealing with flying and security has become a given so you just cannot factor it at all. It just exists and probably will for a long time to come until people start to learn to live in peace with each other (hopefully a dream to come true in the future), therefore you just realize if you need to fly to a vacation, don't think of your vacation starting until you arrive at the port!! We have become to feel every cruise is a combination of what you make of it combined with the rest of the people on board. I do not know if it was the holiday, the New Years celebration, or the drinks, but we rarely ran into any rude people. We loved the slightly smaller fantasy class ship, and the overall experience and will look forward to another New Years cruise sometime in our future. Feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to answer them. Happy sailings everyone!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
I am a 72 year old great grandmother who traveled single on this cruise. This was my 4th cruise, second with Carnival. My plane was late in arriving in Miami so I was one of the last ones on board. No embark hassle at all! My love was an ... Read More
I am a 72 year old great grandmother who traveled single on this cruise. This was my 4th cruise, second with Carnival. My plane was late in arriving in Miami so I was one of the last ones on board. No embark hassle at all! My love was an inside cabin on the Riviera deck. This is the first time I had an inside cabin but it did not bother me at all, much to my surprise. The Paradise is a beautiful ship, yet I enjoyed the Celebration much more....I think maybe the Paradise was a little to fancy for my taste and caters to the more affluent crowd. The food was excellent and the service was great...I wish I had been seated at a table with more people...There was only three of us at a table set for eight. I guess they must try to seat single travelers together as all three of us were traveling alone. I chose to go on the excursions the ship had to offer...It was much easier for me. The ship was scheduled to go to St. Thomas, Bahamas and D Republic. Because of Frances we only made it to Nassau...The ship was rerouted to Jamaica and Cozumel. I was soooo disappointed....I really enjoyed Jamaica though. I had been to Cozumel three other times so I was not to excited about going there again. A seven day cruise ended up to be eight days.... All in all the cruise was OK but not the best one I have been on. I am sure all the younger crowd had a wonderful time..... Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
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 ... Read More
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 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 I 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 bag, 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 FunPasses 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 FunPasses, 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 impressing!!! An amazing, huge Atrium, with crystal eggs all around, and on top of all that; no smoky 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 headwaiter. 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 headwaiter 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 the hire a librarian, or something? We did use it once; we borrowed a board game, that e never played, then returned it ath the end of the cruise. It looked like the Casino was a big hit... too bad I'm not old enough... CABINS We had an inside cabin, on the Empress Deck, which has yet to seize to amaze me. How can a great rom fit into a small space like this? Inside cabins really are okay, outside cabins are not necessary. We had a little basket o 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 the 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 towards 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 Dunn 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. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
This was mine and my wife's first cruise. We're in our early 30's and wanted a "happening" line instead of a geriatrics boat like Holland America. The smoke-free environment made us immediate buyers. Our overall ... Read More
This was mine and my wife's first cruise. We're in our early 30's and wanted a "happening" line instead of a geriatrics boat like Holland America. The smoke-free environment made us immediate buyers. Our overall impression? 3.5 ribbons out of 6 (One ribbon going just to the fact that it's a smoke free ship). The ship: even though it was built only 6 years ago it looks like something that was designed in the mid 70's. Simply put the decor is VERY TACKY and it resembles more a Vegas casino. Although the ship is clean, we couldn't find a garbage bin anywhere to throw away napkins, paper, etc... The open-air decks: (nice feature) a lot of lounge chairs all over; (awful feature) not enough pools and the ones they have are FULL of kids. Our cabin: I've seen motel rooms with better decor... One thing that was good was the bed (VERY COMFY). The crew: I noticed that most crew walked around with a pout. We were situated at the very front of the ship not far from a storage room and it wasn't uncommon to see crew on break lounging around on the corridor floor. The restaurant and cabin crew were nice although the cabin steward was a little too chatty... The shows: again, we found them on the tacky side. The stand-up shows were funny but the variety shows too much glitter and cheap costumes. Finding seats was an adventure. The excursions: we had heard that it was cheaper to book the excursions in the port rather than on the ship. Problem is that the availability of port excursions varies tremendously as does the quality. We experienced very good service in this department although if you're in the USVI and absolutely want to go snorkeling to Buck Island beware that there are 2 Buck Islands: the first is just off St. Thomas (and it's a waste of time), the other is the world renowned snorkeling haven just off St. Croix. Make sure you are not taken in like we were. Bottom line: we had heard that the best way to start on a cruise line is to go with Carnival because everything else after that gets better. So if you're new to the cruise scene Carnival is just for you. Next time we'll work our way up to Royal Caribbean and eventually Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
This was our second cruise through Carnival. We had a wonderful time on the smoke-free Paradise! The ship was beautiful, clean, service was excellent, smiles everywhere and the food... food, and more food... they force fed you lobster! no ... Read More
This was our second cruise through Carnival. We had a wonderful time on the smoke-free Paradise! The ship was beautiful, clean, service was excellent, smiles everywhere and the food... food, and more food... they force fed you lobster! no lie! You can have your pictures developed on the ship for about $7 and they give you a free album. Drinks were reasonably priced, especially the morning specials. You can have professional portraits done, they can be pricey as you have to buy the 8x10 at $20 before you choose the smaller sizes.... all in all, can't wait to book another cruise. Belize: (tender port) tours were a little overpriced onboard. Cave tubing seemed to be the most popular.. about $85 per person.  Isla Roatan: This was paradise. We took the Taybana Beach Break tour, $35 per person. We had the beach all to our selves and ladies can get their entire hair braided for $25. Beer are $2 and very good. Grand Cayman Island: (tender port) We went on the beach break to the Beach Club at $21 per person. This beach was crowded....and very touristy. Cozumel! Who doesn't like Cozumel? We went to Paradise beach on our own $26 round trip taxi for 2 people. The beach is free, snorkel, water, trampoline, hammocks, iceberg etc.... We went shopping and you can definitely barter with sales people here. Great deals on silver and jewelry. All duty free. Our favorite spot was Isla Roatan, Honduras. This was an unspoiled island. Very quiet and relaxing! The people were so nice. Do a ship tour if ever on this island. This itinerary will no longer be available on the Paradise, as the ship is relocating to the west-coast and will no longer stay smoke free. Other Carnival Cruiseships stop at these ports though! If you have any questions about the ship, email me at jkylovesdolphins@aol.com and I'll be more than happy to help. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Background information: We were a party of 6 that flew in from Washington, DC. We are all from VA and our group consisted of two married couples and two single girls and we are all affiliated with EMS. My husband and I have sailed Carnival ... Read More
Background information: We were a party of 6 that flew in from Washington, DC. We are all from VA and our group consisted of two married couples and two single girls and we are all affiliated with EMS. My husband and I have sailed Carnival Fantasy class ships 5 x's and the other couple have sailed the same class twice before. The two girls were new cruisers. We flew in the day before to FLL and spent the evening at the Comfort Inn Airport/Cruise Port Hotel. They have a shuttle to and from the airport and you just contact them from the baggage claim when you arrive. We got an internet rate of $69 per night. We decided on a limo from "A Family Limo" vs. the Carnival transfer b/c it was only $4 more pp and they picked us up at the hotel so we did not have to shuttle back to the airport. They picked us up at 11 AM, we were driven to the cruise port, checked in and were on the ship by 12:30PM. We all had completed our fun pass which helped expedite the process. The two couples did a guarantee 6A cabin and using the method of looking at the back of our sail and sign forms in our cruise documents, it showed that we were on the Empress Deck, which was a nice upgrade. However, when we arrived, we were even more surprised to find out that we had been upgraded even more - Verandah Deck, Cabins 1 and 3! These were very nice and the balconies were not obstructed by life boats. I was even more surprised to have a dozen yellow roses in my room that my husband had sent me. :-) Once we had checked out our rooms, we went to the lido deck for lunch. Here we met the bar waiter that made our trip even more fun - Richard. He is from India, has a great sense of humor and is a super nice guy. If you sail the Paradise before December '04, please tell Richard hello from Cyndi, Mike, Tammy, Sarah, James and Lisa. Nassau was our first port on Monday. My husband and I had been to Nassau several years ago and not much had changed - the straw market was moved due to a fire a couple years ago, but they still sell the same stuff. We negotiated a cab to take us around Nassau. He took us to the beach and came back 2.5 hrs. later and then took us downtown shopping. The cab driver did not take payment until the ride was over, which I thought was nice. We did some shopping and went to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and then back to the ship. Monday was the first formal night. We took advantage of the pictures b/c typically they are good. We pick out a couple to take home but it is nice to have such a variety to chose from. Tuesday we were at sea and we spent the morning up on the Verandah aft deck beside the smaller pool. There was an emergency around 11 AM and everyone was cleared from the aft area. Apparently, someone was very ill and a coast guard helicopter had been called to come and pick them up. This was very exciting for us as I mentioned earlier, we are all EMS, so we were all interested in the rescue, as well as the other 2000 guests. The coast guard helicopter came in and hovered over the aft deck, a member was lowered down to the ship to assess the patient and then a stokes basket was lowered down to bring the patient into the helicopter. All in all, the rescue took about 30 minutes from the time they arrived, but it was done without incident and the Coast Guard deserves a lot of credit for this. It was very windy on this day so I am sure this made it much more difficult. Wednesday we were in the Dominican Republic. We took a tour to Catalina Island for $45 pp. This was your tender ride over to the island (approx. 30 min.) and 4 hours on the beach. It was cloudy and rainy most of the morning, but some of our group took some time to explore the island and got some great pictures from out on the point. Once back at the ship, we took a cab ride in to the city to shop. What we saw was a very poor area - kids knocking on the windows asking for money, run down housing, etc, The place we went to shop did very little negotiating but they were friendly. The cab ride cost our group of 6 $15 plus tip. Thursday we were in the Virgin Islands. Everyone had to clear immigration that morning b/c we were back in a US territory, but this did not take too long. Carnival has this type stuff down to a science. As long as all passengers pay attention and get to where they should when they should, all is well. USVI was the highlight of the trip. I had reserved on-line, a tour with Godfrey Tours. For $20 pp, you get 2.5 hours of beach time, 3 hours shopping and 2 hours of city highlights. We were transported in a open safari type vehicle which was very clean. Shopping in St Thomas is great. Lots to chose from, some great local stores with locally made merchandise. One store, Local Color, right on the water front downtown, was my favorite. If you head to the Hard Rock from the open air market, it is on your right mid way down. Thursday night we all went to a deck party. I believe our group of 6 was the party! People were telling us the next day that they were surprised we were even up and about! We had a great time, met some great people and most retired to our cabins around 3 AM. Friday (formal night) and Saturday we were at sea and nothing too eventful happened. My husband and I were invited to the Senior Officer's table for dinner on Friday night, which was a pleasant surprise and a nice event. We dined with the Staff Captain, the Head Purser, the Chief Engineer nd the Spa Manager. There were only two other couples at the table, so it was a nice evening. Disembarking was very easy - we put our luggage out and our cabins were called by 9 AM. The two girls traveling with us on Empress were about 20 minutes behind us. Because we had to clear immigration coming into the USVI, this had been done and did not slow things down on Sunday. Some things I noticed about the Paradise: 1. everyone was friendly - I never passed a staff member that did not speak and smile. 2. security was good - they were on the decks at night, walking the blvd., etc. I felt very safe. 3. the ship is very clean. The food was really good. I did not care for some things, but they were things I probably would not eat at home either. The Caesar salads at dinner and the pizzas were good. The frozen yogurt is also good and available 24 hours. We took advantage of this a lot. All in all, I loved the Paradise and staff, but the only port I would return to is St Thomas. If you have any questions, email me. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
We went on the Paradise June 20th and did the Eastern cruise. Embarkation went very well, do not try to sneak any liquor on a carry on, they do check and they do take it away. We meant to put a bottle of rum in a checked bag and forgot to ... Read More
We went on the Paradise June 20th and did the Eastern cruise. Embarkation went very well, do not try to sneak any liquor on a carry on, they do check and they do take it away. We meant to put a bottle of rum in a checked bag and forgot to do that and they did find our bottles of soda and a bottle of rum. We did get to keep the soda but had to leave the bottle of rum at port, we did get it back when we got off the ship. We got on the ship and it was a very pretty and clean ship. It is nice to go on a ship that is smoke free, but won't be for very much longer. They will be stopping the smoke free ship in September. Our room to us didn't seem as big as on the Sensation, but we also had 4 people in an inside room. There was plenty of storage for all 4 of us. The cabin was very clean. We requested early-but the later seating and got the 5:45 instead of the 6:15. We went to the maitre 'd' and he told us that the later one was full unless we wanted the late late seating and we declined. We wish we had gotten the later seating because trying to get 4 people ready for dinner by 5:45 was nearly impossible, especially when you have 2 teenage girls. We ate in the Destiny Dining Room, which to us was the prettier one of the two. The food was very good! The service wasn't all that great, and it seems since they switched to the automatic tipping, the waiters and waitresses do not go out of their way for you. The waiters and waitresses sang every night, which was very entertaining. As for the entertainment, not as good as on other boats! The theater has very poor seating, and you have to get there early to get a good seat. They have huge posts that are hard to see around. They didn't have much to choose from as far as shows go. They had bands playing in the small lounges that weren't bad. The drinks on board were not too bad in price. We bought the drink tickets ahead of time and it did save some money. We did not buy the soda card since we did bring some soda and water on board with us. There was always iced tea, punch, apple juice and orange juice and lemonade 24 hours a day. There was also soft serve ice cream 24 hours along with their pizza. Their main pool was rather small, but there were always plenty of chairs available. Excursions, we did our own in Nassau, took the bus #10 to cable beach, very nice beach, and then we went back and went to the straw market. We also did buy some liquor, and ended up walking on the ship and they never took it away from us. The ship does sell their own liquor too, which is also reasonable. The cheapest liquor that we found was in St. Thomas, Bacardi Rum was $6.49 a bottle. CHEAP. In the Dominican we were suppose to do 2 excursions, the excursion desk said that we would have plenty of time to get 2 excursions in, NOT. We did the catamaran experience to Catalina Island, we were suppose to be back by 11:30, and didn't get back until 2:30 so we missed out Outback Safari. The catamaran excursion was fun, free beer, soda and rum and coke. Also fresh fruit. We went and anchored near Catalina Island and snorkeled and then swam up to the beach. On the way back, the party started going and they got everyone to dance. We all did have a good time. When we got back we hired a taxi with 8 others and went into La Ramona and did some shopping. Amber is really reasonable. Coffee, best coffee, buy it at their supermarket, it is cheaper $1.50 a pound. In St. Thomas we went on our own and took a taxi to Magens Bay. We stayed there about 3 hours and then came back and were dropped off down town. Went and did some jewelry shopping at our friends Ballerina, we have dealt with them for 10 years. And then went to the open market and back to the ship. Our days at sea were very relaxing! Laid by the pool. Disembarkation went very well, we were off the boat before 10:00. As far as this being our best cruise we have taken, it probably wasn't, but the food was very good. The ship was in great shape, and it was worth the money. This was our second time we have been on a Carnival ship, we usually go on Princess. If you cannot have a good time on any cruise you take, then there is something wrong :} Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
This was my wife's first cruise and I had cruised about 15 years ago. I wanted a simple vacation that would keep my children's interest and allow us to relax. My children are 15 months, 4 years and 6 years old. Many friends and ... Read More
This was my wife's first cruise and I had cruised about 15 years ago. I wanted a simple vacation that would keep my children's interest and allow us to relax. My children are 15 months, 4 years and 6 years old. Many friends and family members of mine had recommended carnival for a vacation. We were leery of taking such young children but several people had told me that carnival makes it very easy to take children on vacation allowing the parents to enjoy themselves. Carnival told us that whenever the ship was in port there would be available babysitting for a fee. Embarkation and debarkation: relatively simple requires no explanation The ship is very nice, somewhat tacky in its decor but a lot of attention has been paid to the appearance of the atrium, and public areas. The ship is laid out well and is fairly easy to get around. The ship has a great .1 mile jogging track with great views on one of the top decks. Our rooms were reasonably sized. Much bigger than I had remembered Royal Caribbean's rooms (But that was 15 years ago). There is only one outlet so bring a power strip with you. The cabin steward was great, easily available and really made the trip a lot nicer. Pools were small and crowded; the waterslide usually had a line of about 10 people which would take about 5 minutes to get your turn. The height requirements seemed absurd and sporadic attention was paid towards its enforcement, leaving several people irritated that one day their child is out there having fun and the next they are being told that their child is not tall enough. There seemed to be ample chairs for sunning or relaxing in the shade although the pool areas were always crowded. Entertainment: this depends on what you like, Karaoke, comedians and many Vegas like shows occur nightly. All were good but not great quality. I will qualify that response by stating that I am no connoisseur of singing and dancing shows. Food and service were good to very good. Meats were better than seafood. My wife and I theorized that bringing on fresh seafood in third world ports was probably impractical and I would say that most if not all seafood had that "previously frozen taste". There were some things that were poor quality, but this was negligible and insignificant because we were always offered multiple choices and one to many of them would be great. Cruising with kids. Don't do 7 days with kids and don't box your family up in one 190 sq foot room, put a wall between you and your kids with a baby monitor. People that crammed into one room did not enjoy themselves. We found that one child would perk up while one needed to sleep and having two rooms gave us the flexibility to put one down at a time. We also placed voice activated walkie talkies in their room to allow us some freedom to get something to eat or get a drink. Other people just used camp carnival for childcare. The problem with this was 1. My son hated it; 2. After you were done with your activity you had to round up your exhausted child and put him/her to bed at obscene hours and 3. The next day the child is too tired and cranky for excursions or activities. This is probably unethical but we checked in on our kids every 20 minutes regardless of what we were doing and tested the two-way radios from every place that we went to. Another comment on this is that we heard every sleep taking peep and bump in our children's room whereas the one night we left our daughter in camp carnival late at night she got pushed and punched by two other little girls—no bruises. My son saw the whole event. The attendants at this function only saw my daughter upset after the event. They thought she was upset because she wanted another cookie. So they gave her a cookie and she felt better—according to them. They also seemed to rely heavily on television for crowd control. My daughter (age 4) loved camp carnival despite the event above. Infant childcare is not worth having. The hours are ridiculous and do not allow you to leave the ship on any excursions, there is not one excursion short enough to get back on the boat by noon to pick up your child. They made special accommodations for us in Grand Cayman but made it clear that this was not regularly done and we cancelled our Cozumel excursion because they could not accommodate us. In the evenings they do not take infants until the babysitting time of 10:00pm. I don't know what time you put your infants down but consider whether or not you want to wake them up at 10:00pm and then again 2 hours later at pick up and try to put them back to bed again after midnight. This is in stark contrast to what I was told over the phone by Carnival representatives whose obvious job is to make sure you book and send non- refundable money. Plan on keeping children under and around two with you at all times. Excursions: Do not book your excursions on the ship! Because they are 1. overpriced; 2 overly time consuming; 3. less interesting 4. You are less likely to be charged for your children's ticket on shore. When you book on board you are to assemble in the Queen Mary Lounge where you will sit with every other booked tour waiting for a carnival rep to escort you to your tour meeting place on the island or the appropriate tender to bring you to the island. On our Grand Cayman Stingray city-Island tour we were to report to the QML at 9:30 for a 9:45 excursion we did not get on the bus until 11:30 which meant of the 9 hours we had to see Grand Cayman island 1:20 hours were spent in the hurry up and wait holding pen on the ship followed by tendering, customs, and reassembling on shore for 15 minutes to gather and organize the tour goers into groups. The bus driver then brought us to a turtle farm and said if we were not back on the bus in 20 minutes we would be left. This was incredibly crowded making 20 minutes tight. There is not a lot to see but my kids loved holding the turtles for 2 minutes before we fled to our bus. Stingray city is very exciting and we had ample time there to play with and feed the stingrays. Belize: Altun Ha: Too long of a bus ride and too hot for kids. However, this is the shortest Myan ruins tour available. And the grounds are very impressive. Belize is impoverished and not very charming in that quaint third world tropical paradise way, do something on the water like snorkeling or stay on the boat. If you go to the zoo, or the Monkey preserve consider just hiring a cab for the day on shore to save money and better manage your time. Roatan: The ship won't tell you this but Tabiana beach is a tour for $30 or $40 per person. This is really just part of the beautiful west bay (not west end) beach which is free to every one and only cost $10 by cab which will hold 4-5 people. We hired a cab (The English Speaking Taxi Drivers was the name of the cab company) for the day for $70 + I tipped him $15 to take us to the island ship wrecks, fishing village, iguana preserve, butterfly preserve and west bay beach we also paid $10 at the iguana and butterfly preserve for admission. All were dilapidated but interesting and kept my kids fascinated. The island is also impoverished but it is beautiful at the same time. The Beach was absolute paradise, with crystal clear turquoise blue water and clean white sand beaches. I rented snorkel equipment from a dive shop at one of the resorts for $10, where they also lent me extra towels for no extra charge. Later my kids played with the worlds most needy monkey outside of the dive shop. Our driver gave us no restrictions on how much time we spent at any of the sites and even waited at the beach for us for hours and brought us back to the ship promptly, he even watched for when the other cruisers left the beach to ensure we were on time. Ask for Alvin he looks just like the guy who plays Theo Huxtable on the Cosby show, he was knowledgeable, patient and well connected on the island getting us a discount at the butterfly preserve as well as knowing the guys who operate the horse back riding on the beach and all of the staff at the resorts. Cozumel: Cozumel has some great excursions. With kids the easiest thing to do is to go to the beach. If you want to you could pay $40 per person to go through the cruise or for $12 you could take your whole family to Paradise Beach via taxi. There you will have access to snorkel equipment, kayaks, a floating inflatable climbing iceberg and floating trampoline, chairs, beach umbrellas all on gorgeous white sand beaches with clear blue ocean, great service and believe it or not they do not charge for any of it. I did not get a chance to eat there, but friends of ours said that the food was very good. No one got sick from the ice in the drinks. Drinks were reasonably priced at $3 for Sol or Corona beer and $4.50 for a margarita. They also have clean bathrooms and showers. Available massages, hair braiding etc. for a fee and a gift shop. I would highly recommend this place for a simple and inexpensive outing. You will not get information on this or other nice beaches while on the ship. Overall, we had a nice time and enjoyed the ship. We just had to realize that there are no easy fixes for traveling with kids despite what carnival told us over the phone. I do not think that I'll spend the money on another cruise until the kids are over 10 years old. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
EMBARKATION: We flew down the night before and spent the night at a hotel. The next morning, we took the shuttle to the airport (about 11AM) and the Carnival airport greeters were waiting, as expected. We waited only about 15 minutes ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We flew down the night before and spent the night at a hotel. The next morning, we took the shuttle to the airport (about 11AM) and the Carnival airport greeters were waiting, as expected. We waited only about 15 minutes before they started boarding the shuttle to the pier. Check-in went smoothly, no long lines. I strongly suggest you get to the airport early, to avoid a crowd. We boarded the ship about 11:30 and had some time to find our room and get settled, somewhat. They were serving a nice buffet on the Lido deck. CABIN: We booked a cabin on the Empress deck. It is an older ship, so the cabin was small, but very clean. The cabin steward was very nice and did a fantastic job. We asked for extra pillows and he got them for us immediately. The cabin always smelled clean, so no complaints, there. The room had a safe( thankfully) but what I didn't like was that we could not access our folio from the television set like on other cruise ships. I like to keep track of what I'm spending. Also, bring a hair dryer, none are provided. THE SHIP ITSELF: This was our ninth cruise on various ships, some with Carnival, some with other cruise lines. We knew this was a smaller, older ship and we thought the no smoking would be very nice, and it was, but we are probably a little spoiled having been on larger, more elegant ships. The ship, itself, was kind of drab and it didn't have the amenities that other ships have. For instance, there is no tour desk. It's just an area where you can pick up a cruise form, fill it in and drop it in the box. There was really no one there to ask questions. We didn't have any, but I'm sure other people did. DINING: I have to say, the dining experience was excellent. What the ship didn't offer in amenities, it made up for in staff. Our waiters nightly went out of their way to give us the finest service. They had the usual singing and dancing waiters but the last night we were on board, they sang a song to us that they composed themselves and it was very touching. The food was excellent. On other some other ships they have "theme" nights. One night it would be Italian food, one night French. They didn't do that on this ship but the menu was very good. Very, very good. CRUISE STAFF: The cruise staff was about the finest I have ever seen. They kept things going and kept everyone smiling. EXCURSIONS: BELIZE: Belize is a beautiful unspoiled city. The people are very friendly. We booked a barrier reef snorkel & Key beach break tour which was excellent. The great barrier reef offers the best snorkeling anywhere. The water is crystal clear. It was a good excursion. We hung out on the beach after snorkeling on this little island in the middle of the ocean and floated on rafts (provided by Carnival) also drinks were provided, including rum punch. Music was provided on the catamaran and everyone was feeling very good by the time we got back to the pier. If you are trying to decide which stops to take tours in, this is one of them. There is not much else to do, otherwise. Not a great place to shop. ISLA ROATAN: We booked the kayak & snorkel adventure. (We love to snorkel) This was a little different. This takes a little effort, you are kayaking on the ocean. You don't really see much when you do the kayaking part but it was ok. The snorkeling portion, however, was excellent. This snorkeling is for people who are into reef snorkeling. There is a lot to see. Excellent snorkeling. Reef is close to the surface. Also, snack foods and soft drinks were provided. There are a few shops nearby. GRAND CAYMAN: We went to Seven Mile Beach. ($4.00 per person cab ride) to the beach. Any food or drinks are extra. Beach was very clean and beautiful. It was a nice relaxing day. The beaches are just beautiful. If you do nothing else, do go to the beach. As far as shopping, mostly high end retail, if you are into that. And also, they won't barter. The price you see is the price you get. I prefer to collect unique items made by locals. COZUMEL: We booked the Passion Island excursion. We had done it once before and really enjoyed it. If you like secluded beach with open bar and island buffet, you will love this. Beach chairs are provided and hammocks. You travel by bus through a jungle and it's bumpy. Then from there, you board a small boat to the island. When you get on the boat, the water looks kind of murky and you may wonder, "Is this it?!!" But then you arrive at Passion Island and it's clear blue warm water and soft white sand. PS: If you take the lime out of your Corona and bring it in the water, the fish eat right out of your hand!! SHOPPING: The best shopping is in Cozumel. We did all of our shopping at the pier. There are so many shops. The people will barter with you and are very friendly. I found this one stand where a local girl was making handmade items that were beautiful. Also, there are some restaurants around there. We went to TGI Fridays and it was a swinging place that night, I can tell you. You can also go into town to shop and they have several restaurants and bars there. You can have a good time in Mexico!!! I don't want to go into the whole story of my life on the cruise. I just want to give you information that you might find useful. We chose this particular cruise because of it's itinerary. I like visiting as many places as possible on my cruise. Overall, this was a fantastic vacation. There was one minor thing, though. If you are booking on this ship, try to avoid cabin E153. The only problem we had was the noise at night. That particular cabin got all the noise from the galley and we called the desk nightly about it because we were awakened every night between 1AM and 3:30AM with a loud banging noise. Every time we called, the noise would stop shortly afterward. They apologized profusely but it would have been nice if they just moved our cabin. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
My husband and teenage children 17, & 15 along with their (2) friends accompanied us on the Western Caribbean cruise to: Belize, Roatan Honduras, Grand Cayman & Cozumel. Our family did these destinations 2 years ago, however, we ... Read More
My husband and teenage children 17, & 15 along with their (2) friends accompanied us on the Western Caribbean cruise to: Belize, Roatan Honduras, Grand Cayman & Cozumel. Our family did these destinations 2 years ago, however, we were on the NCL Sun. This was our first time cruising with Carnival. Let me first start with the ship itself. It was smaller than previous ships we have been on, however, it was less crowded due to it being a non-smoking ship. I was ecstatic that there was no-smoking on the ship! The crew was extremely friendly, and the rooms were very spacious compared to the NCL. You had 2 closets and plenty of space for storage! My husband and I had M50, which was an outside cabin with an ocean view(towards the front of the ship). My kids and their friends had M44, which was an inside cabin. If you don't like a lot of motion and noise (you could hear anchor going down) I would suggest being in the middle of the ship. We felt a lot of motion and everyone in our party, with the exception of myself got sea-sick even on dramamine! Food and Dining: We had the late seating 8:30pm in the Elation room and Ingrid our head waitress was extremely friendly. We purchased soda cards for the teens ($28.00 pp) and we found that the bar waitress was less than efficient bringing the kids their drinks (we had them delivered to them one night after their meal!). Having the late seating was the worst as we often missed shows. The food was good only once, and that was during the formal night. We had lobster and it was wonderful. However, we all agreed that the food in the buffet area was good and we didn't have to wait until 8:30pm to eat. Out of 7 nights on the cruise, we ate at the dining area only 4- we skipped the other formal night as the kids were not keen on dressing up again. After cruising with NCL where you can dine at 7 different restaurants at anytime, we were in agreement that we would never cruise again on a ship that had assigned seating. Some people might enjoy it, however, for our family it didn't work. Excursions: Belize: Our first stop was Belize which was so beautiful! We did the ship's tour to Goff's Caye which was an island in the middle of the ocean! Our family enjoys snorkeling, so we snorkeled and the coral was just breath taking! We went then to Goff's Caye Island and had lunch and enjoyed the sun and water. However, in order to sit on a chair, you have to rent one for $2.00 per chair. The food was reasonable -approx $6.00 for a chicken dinner. We then went to town for some shopping. If you go outside the gates, you can barter and get some great deals! Roatan, Honduras: We hired a guide from reading several cruise reviews named Victor. Victor was there when we docked and had a sign with my name on it waiting for our family. He only charged $20 pp since we had 6 people. He normally only charges $25 pp which is extremely reasonable! He took us on a tour first of the East side of the Island. We saw sunken ships, breathtaking views atop of a mountain, a fishing village, and took us to an Iguana Farm that was something the kids enjoyed! The cost to get in there is only $5 pp. The iguanas are very tame and you can feed them, pet them or in my case, just take pictures of them! Victor told us a lot about the culture there, and gave us a history lesson on the country. He has never left the country and is very proud of it as well. We then went to the West end of the island , which by far is the prettiest! The guys wanted to snorkel, so he took them to an area that was great for snorkeling. The girls and I went shopping in the village and got some fantastic deals as the people will barter with you. We ate at the Cannibal Cafe and the food was great!! The last thing we did was do a Canopy Tour that I highly recommend and feel this was the highlight of the entire tour. It opened up only a few months ago and you are attached to a pulley/harness and zipcord thru the rainforest. It takes approximately 30 minutes and it ends on the Beach. This is definitely a must do if you come to Roatan! Just note.., The cost is $35 pp. Victor will tailor-make your excursion to what you want to do. I had told him we wanted a tour of the island, snorkel and shop - we got more than we asked for and couldn't have been happier with Victor! He is very honest, proud of his country and enjoyed seeing our faces light up when we saw the beauty around us! Roatan was our favorite destination of the whole trip! Victor was the reason why. If I ever come back, I will use Victor again! Grand Cayman: We booked our tour with: Captain Marvin's which is approx 2 blocks from the dock going to your left when you leave the docks. We have used them before and they took us to (3) different snorkel areas ending up in Stingray Alley. Captain Marvin's costs $34pp for a 3 hour tour. Well worth it since you get (3) stops in all! A secret when tendering. The Carnival asks that you get tender tickets - don't bother, when they call for #1, immediately go as they don't check your stickers! Otherwise, you can wait up to 2 hours just to get off the boat! Just an fyi.... Cozumel: We did the ship's excursion to: xcaret, which is a 40 minute ferry from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen then a 15 minute bus trip to xcaret. Xcaret is a park which is a combination of a zoo, mayan ruins, dolphin encounter, and resort all in one. I wish we had more time there as it is a 7 hour excursion and that included your travel. I would definitely like to go back and visit there as it was the prettiest park I have ever gone to in my life! My kids went snorkeling, while I laid out and had cabana men bring me drinks! I only wish we had more time to shop as the excursion was so long, we had about an hour to shop once we were back in Cozumel. Summary: All in all, it was a wonderful time, I won't sail with Carnival again, however, we had a great time! Getting off the ship was hassle free and I hope this review helped!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
BACKGROUND I'm 23 and my DH is also 23. I'm originally from Indiana, and he's originally from England. We took this cruise as a gift from my parents for completing my Masters degree. It was the first cruise for both of us. ... Read More
BACKGROUND I'm 23 and my DH is also 23. I'm originally from Indiana, and he's originally from England. We took this cruise as a gift from my parents for completing my Masters degree. It was the first cruise for both of us. The date of departure was May 9, 2004 and we returned on May 16, 2004. I've tried to write everything I can remember. The way this review is structured is chronological; with major things highlighted in the order I encountered them. I apologize for the length, but the review is as much as place for me to record my memories as it is for the benefit of others. Our itinerary was as follows: Sunday: Arrival and sail away Monday: Nassau, Bahamas Tuesday: Sea day Wednesday: La Romana/Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic Thursday: St. Thomas. US Virgin Islands Friday: Sea day Saturday: Sea day Sunday: Return to Miami ARRIVAL IN MIAMI We flew American Airlines out of Indianapolis. Our flight (1779) was scheduled to leave at 7:10 am, but we pushed back a few minutes early. We weren't due to arrive until 10:50 am in Miami, but we were off the flight and waiting for our luggage by 10:30. Once we had our luggage, we grabbed a cab (flat rate of $21) to take us to the pier. We left the airport at 10:40. I was under the impression that it was to take 30 minutes to get to the pier, but it took only 15 minutes (perhaps because of the way the cab driver drove!) We were at the pier at 10:55 am. EMBARKATION After reading endless tales of quick embarkation, I expected to be on board in less than 2 hours upon our arrival. At 10:55, when we arrived at the pier, we were quickly shuffled to the baggage stewards who took our bags. We had two to check and two to keep with us. We tipped $1 per bag. I had gotten several $2 bills from the bank for purposes such as these. It just makes life easier, so you're not fumbling around with endless single $1 bills. Once our bags were dropped off, we were inside the building about 3 minutes before 11:00. There was NO LINE! We handed off our Bahamian immigration forms, which I had filled out in advance. I noticed a large group of people off to the left busy filling in their paperwork, because they had not bothered to do so. Why would people wait to do this? Anyhow, we went through security, which was just like at the airport, except they didn't make you remove your shoes. The scanning devices are WAY smaller than at the airport, however, so stick to those carry-on guidelines that Carnival provides. They nearly made my husband check his suit carrier, except he was able to quickly fold it into half (again) and make it easily fit through the scanning machine. Once through, we walked through tons of tensa-barriers (but there was NO wait, again). By this time it was about 11:05 and we were greeted by a very friendly Carnival employee who took our tickets. She also took my husband's green card and passport, and issued him a receipt for this. This entire process took about 10 minutes. We went past the desk and I checked my watch; it read 11:15. At this point, we went up an escalator to encounter our first line, but not a very long one. We waited in line for only 5 minutes and proceeded to the desk, where we were issued our Sail & Sign card. We then walked off to the right and took a seat. It was 11:20. We were handed a "Welcome" sheet which welcomed us to the ship, but asked us not to go to our room until 1:00, as the cabins would not be ready. A friendly Carnival representative made periodic announcements, telling us they would be letting us aboard shortly, but first she reiterated what was on the sheet and told us to go to lunch on the Lido deck first. Here we waited for only about 10 minutes. At 11:30, they began to dismiss people in rows to begin boarding. Once you get up from the waiting area, you hand over your S&S card and have your photo taken. This photo is connected to your card, and each time it is used (example, for re-boarding the ship at ports) your photo comes up for the Carnival employees. Once this photo is taken, we found ourselves in a quick-moving line that took us up an escalator and into a short line where a "Welcome Aboard" photo was being taken. By the time we crossed the gangway, I checked my watch. It was 11:45! We were on board the ship less than 1 hour after arriving at the pier. Amazing! I would recommend getting there around the time we did (just before 11) and having all your documentation filled out. Any earlier and you'd be waiting in the waiting area longer than necessary, or wasting valuable time filling out things you should have filled out weeks ago. Things worked out perfectly. FIRST IMPRESSIONS I was hoping to be absolutely wowed once on board, but everything moved so quickly, I didn't even realize we were on board yet (duh). You enter right next to the internet cafe, into the atrium. Once I looked up (I had been concentrating on my bag) I realized we were in the atrium. It was beautiful! We decided just to get our bearing and locate our room, even though we weren't supposed to actually go in there. So, we were on the upper deck, so we walked to the right to the forward bank of elevators and went down one. We easily found our cabin, as I'd studied the deck plans ad nauseam prior to leaving. Our cabin steward (but we didn't realize it at the time) happened to be right there and asked us if we wanted in, but we said it was okay, we were just trying to find our room and we'd be back after 1:00 when it was allowed. We then proceeded up to the Lido deck to grab some food. I found a great table halfway between the pool and the grill, on the starboard (right) side. I sat with the bags while my husband went to get some food. He returned with a hamburger and fries. I went up to find something. There were a ton of meat products available - hot dogs, hamburgers, even boeuf bourguignon for lunch (I'm a pesco-vegetarian - I eat only sea creatures, and only then to keep my protein levels adequate, because one can only eat so much soy!) but I was able to find some potatoes. I got myself some iced tea and returned to the table to find my DH had gotten us both some drinks of the day. We had some drink tickets acquired in advance. Even through drinks of the day are $6.95 the first time (you keep the glass to refill all day); they let us use our drink tickets on them (which are only supposed to be good up to $4.75). Now is as a good time as any to say, I rarely drink (I'm always the DD) but I drank more than I normally do on this trip. Not to excess, but since I usually may only have a glass of wine once a month, it was somewhat out of the ordinary for me. Anyhow, the Lido deck lunch was surprisingly good. We hung out on the deck until 1:00, when we desperately wanted to drop off our bags. STATEROOM I had originally booked a 1A guarantee, gambling we'd get upgraded. We were upgraded to a 4C, cabin U8. I had cheated and was able to figure out our cabin number about a month early by using the Kelly method, and later confirmed this once we got our documents and I "cracked the code" on the back of the S&S form. So I knew right where it was. Now, if any of you have your deck plans handy, I'd ask you to look at the location of U8 on the Fantasy-class ships. It's ALL THE WAY FORWARD, right in the middle of the hallway that crosses the ship. I won't lie: we had a fair bit of motion here, but it was more of the up-and-down versus the back-and-forth type. It was actually better than other parts of the ship, during our really windy days, for this very reason. I got a case of motion sickness from late Tuesday until late Thursday, and the cabin became my refuge because of the lack of back-and-forth motion felt on the rest of the ship. Additionally, that motion made sleeping so wonderful. The only bad part was when pulling into port, there were horrible loud "EEERRRRRRRR" noises, but they only lasted about 10 seconds. It wasn't too cool, however, when we pulled into Nassau at 3:00 am and that was my wake-up call. The stateroom itself was surprisingly roomy. We had plenty of room to store our bags in corners and underneath the bed. When we arrived, the beds were already together into the King-sized formation. I couldn't figure out how to turn off that blasted corner light for some time, but of course once I set my husband to the task he noticed the huge switch that said "Corner Light" and turned it off - truly one of my less brilliant moments, indeed. The bathroom had the nifty shower that drained right into the floor. Yes, the toilet flushes with incredible ferocity. At first it's annoying, but now I'm upset with my puny toilets at home and miss the "WHOOSH." A note about the water: It is HOT!!! This is good and bad. The good: if you like a hot shower, a cruise ship is the place for you. There are even signs warning you against scalding, instructing you to always run the cold water first. The bad: The water in the sink never gets cold - it's always lukewarm. One of my foibles is that I MUST have cold water to brush my teeth, so I was less than pleased with this facet of ship-life for the week. But I got over it. The bathroom is equipped with tons of towels and hooks to hang your wet items, a nifty freebie-bowl with toothpaste, Tylenol PM, Rolaids, lotion, shampoo/conditioner/gel samples, and one of those cool Reach flossing sticks, which I fell in love with and quickly claimed as my own (I'm a compulsive flosser). The shower has dispensers with shampoo and body wash. If you need conditioner, bring your own. I also brought my own shampoo, and I'm glad I did, because that shampoo dried my hair. The shower gel is fine, but I prefer soap, so I'm glad I brought my own soap as well. The mirror in the bathroom opens into a medicine cabinet, but we never used that. There is no hair-dryer in the Fantasy class ships, nor did we have bathrobes, since we were an inside cabin. The cabins are always very COLD. The air conditioning cannot be turned off, only turned down, which is still too cold for me. I ended up using 3 blankets every night. Take long pants and warm things to sleep in! Also, the inside cabins are DARK, and unless you bring an alarm clock, you have no clue what time it is. I found myself waking up and having to turn on the light to look at my watch. I was under the impression that there was a television channel with an outside camera from the ship's bow, but there wasn't. I'm not sure why I thought there would be. Speaking of television, there is no FOX! Which, for a Simpsons and American Idol addict, was nearly too much to bear. Also, no CNN, which is hard for a news junkie like myself. However, there are the other 3 major networks, as well as several movie channels, one news channel (which was just text news, not live news) and the Travelog playing endlessly. Also, the cabin air is SO DRY that I had a sore throat from Wednesday onward. Overall, the stateroom exceeded my expectations. CABIN STEWARD These people are the hardest-working people you will EVER meet. It breaks my heart to know that there are people who refuse to tip these people. We left our tips alone, and gave him an extra $20. He introduced himself the first night (we had seen him earlier in the day when we first found our cabin) as Adolpho, from Honduras. He was immensely helpful, and so friendly, always smiling. I had always wondered how many rooms each steward had, so I asked. He had 15 rooms. Fifteen! How he manages to do this, in the impeccable way he does, is mind boggling. Turn-down service each night was a delight, as were our towel animals, which started on the second night. However, we didn't have one our last night, and I was looking forward to getting the monkey, which we never got. We had a collapsible cooler for our 6 bottles of wine/champagne and 5 mini-cans of Sprite we had brought on board. (FYI - I had bubble wrapped them carefully and put them in my carry-on, and they were fine. Wine and champagne, as well as soft drinks are perfectly legal to bring onboard). We asked him to keep it full of ice all week, and gave him an extra $10 for the trouble. Sure enough, it was full of fresh ice all the time. Any time we paged him for something, he magically appeared at our cabin door. Truly amazing people. Bravo for Adolpho, and all the other hard-working cabin stewards. SHIP LAYOUT It was so easy to find my way around this ship. Like I said, I had studied the layout for months in advance, so perhaps that helped. My husband, who does not share my compulsive need to over-plan, did not look at the map but once, and had no problem. Upon boarding, they give you a pocket-sized ship map which is also very helpful. There is really no way to get lost on this ship. The only mildly confusing thing is the Atlantic deck, where the dining rooms are, on which you cannot go all the way fore to aft. Once you've got that figured out, you're good! No wasting time going down wrong paths on this ship. Now, the larger mega-ships may be a different matter. We were docked next to the Victory in Miami, and were dwarfed by it. That may be difficult to navigate, I cannot say. The Fantasy-ship classes, I can say, are very user-friendly and well thought out - except for the Normandie lounge, with giant pillars blocking about 75% of the good views. I guess, however, if those pillars are necessary to hold the ship together, then they're a necessary evil. EXCURSION DESK Once we'd found our cabin and dropped our luggage off (1:00 pm), we had a few hours to kill until the lifeboat drill at 4:00. We explored the ship for awhile, located our dining room, took part in the scavenger hunt (fun!) for a prize drawing later in the night, and booked our excursions. There was a MASSIVE line for excursions, as people had all sorts of questions. I, however, thanks to my compulsive over-planning, had decided on excursions months ago, grabbed some forms, and dropped them off in the drop box. Done. Feeling tired from lack of sleep the night before (due to intense excitement), we returned to our cabin for a nice nap. LIFEBOAT DRILL We were woken at 3:45 by the "lifeboat drill in 15 minutes" announcement, our introduction to our Cruise Director, Jeff "Brrronson". We got up, changed clothes, and grabbed our life vests. At 4:00, the ship whistle sounded and we went to the Normandie lounge (Muster Station "A") and sat for about 20 minutes while everyone shuffled in. Once everyone was in, and wearing the life vests, we were herded out to our respective life boats, where we found we were beginning to head down the pier so the ship could turn around. Once at our lifeboats, Jeff came on the loudspeaker and announced our vacation had begun. It was 4:30. So, we returned to our cabin to return our fashionable life vests, and headed up on deck for sail away. SAILAWAY The Capers said sail away would begin at 5:00, but of course, it started during our lifeboat drill. No big deal, however, as it's not a fast process and there's plenty of time. We had a Cruise Critic's group to meet up with, and we found everyone and made introductions and took pictures. Sure enough, one of the ship's photographers was nearby and took our picture as well, for purchase. I'll say now that it is AMAZING how often you run into people on board. You'd think you wouldn't see people again all week - some people we ran into 5 or 6 times a day. Then again, some folks we never saw again until our planned party later in the cruise. Much depends on the assigned dinner time. Anyhow, sailing out of Miami was beautiful, and we walked around for awhile, exploring the ship further, until the Sushi Bar opened at 5:30. SUSHI BAR We're massive sushi fans, so I was pleased as punch the first time I read there was a sushi bar on board. The sushi chef is quiet, but efficient and great at what he does. Every day there are four selections. Typically, you receive four pieces, but you can ask for more, and go back as often as you like. Sake is available for a reasonable price, but I did not have any, so I cannot speak to the quality of if it is served hot (yum) or cold (yuck). Each day, there was a sushi tower with a different topping, a traditional roll, a nigiri selection, and a wrap of sorts. One selection was always a vegetarian offering. The wasabi is POWERFUL so beware! We visited the sushi bar each and every day - and I miss not having early evening sushi every day on a whim. It's on the Promenade deck, so you take your plate of sushi over and sit and watch the ocean go by. My my, life is tough, isn't it? DINNER/DINING ROOM TEAM Our dinner was the late seating in the Elation dining room. As you may have read, there are four seatings, and we were the last of four. This had its benefits, and its drawbacks. On the plus side, there were no children. The dining room staff is less hurried to get ready for the next seating, so you have an opportunity to sit and talk with them afterwards, which I recommend, as these are fascinating people. Also of benefit: while the early seating people are at dinner, the ship is a ghost town. No lines, and you get to see the sunsets (not to be missed!) Drawbacks: you're not hungry for the midnight buffets (which could be a good thing if you're trying to watch your weight!), and dinner ends around 10:00, and the late show doesn't start until 10:30. This was great for my DH, who is a night owl, but I tend to get up around 5 or 6 am, so I was dozing off during all of the shows, and had to leave to go to the cabin to sleep, so I missed the shows (despite my daily naps). The dining room staff is unbelievable: Our head waiter, German (pronounced Herman) was from Columbia, and the assistant, Roxana from Romania, was the cutest, sweetest, friendliest person we encountered our entire cruise. The sort of person you want to take care of and nurture. DH & I tend to frequent very fine restaurants, so we're accustomed to and expect the finest service. We were not disappointed - our every need was not only met, but anticipated in advance. The first night, I ordered a cappuccino and DH a double espresso after dinner (before dessert), and every night afterwards, they were brought out without asking. PLEASE leave the tips alone for these people, and tip them extra afterwards. Do not stiff these hard-working professionals. We brought 6 different bottles of wine/champagne on different nights, but were only charged corkage fees for our champagne on formal nights (according to our waiter: that's when they really crack down on that.) The Maitre'D had a joke each night, and the waiters sang and danced - conga lines, Macarena, The Ketchup song, "Leaving our Fun Ship" - so entertaining! Food was exceptional. Here is what we ordered each night, with comments where appropriate: Day 1: Starter (both of us): Hickory-smoked Alaskan Salmon - superb dish with fabulous salmon served with a spoonful of caviar. Soup (both): Crème de Funghi Slevatica - if you like or love mushrooms, do not miss this dish! DH wanted me to point out that any soup that says "cream of" isn't really thick, like some of you may be used to. It's looser than typical, but all are full of flavor and recommended. Salad (both): Mixed greens and field greens - this is a typical salad. In fact, I never ordered a salad again for the rest of the week but once, as I found myself filling up on this course. Entrees: Rack of New Zealand Spring Lamb Dijonnaise (DH); Sweet and Sour Shrimp (Me) - this shrimp was the only disappointment of the cruise, as the batter was overwhelming. It was okay though, as I was full from the salad anyhow. Dessert (both): Guava cheese napoleon - okay dessert - pastries sort of dry, but edible nonetheless Day 2 (formal night): Starter (both): Mississippi Delta Prawns Soup (both): Strawberry Bisque - DO NOT MISS THIS. It's like melted strawberry ice cream. Salad (DH): Mixed greens and field greens Entree: Lobster (both), Prime Rib (DH). DH ordered two entrees this night, and loved them both. The lobster was good - not the best I've ever had, but good nonetheless. Dessert: Tiramisu (DH), Cherries Jubilee (me). DH said the Tiramisu was the creamiest he'd ever had, and it looked like it. Cherries Jubilee was good, but I wish I'd ordered the Tiramisu, since everyone at the table said it was spectacular. Day 3: Starter: Escargot Bourguignon (me), Penne Mariscos (DH) - both were excellent, especially the snails. Soup: Lobster Bisque (DH), Chilled cucumber soup (me) - pass on the cucumber soup - too much dill. DH said the lobster bisque was good. So that's what they do with the leftover lobster from the night before! Salad: Mixed greens (DH) EntrEe: Catch of the day (me), Aged New York Sirloin (DH) - fish was, well, fish. It was supposed to be sea bass according to the master menu that's floating around on the internet, but it wasn't. DH loved his sirloin, cooked medium rare just as he likes it. Dessert: Pineapple sorbet (DH), Chocolate Rum SoufflE (me) - DO NOT MISS THE SoufflE!! The soufflE are the best I've ever had - even better than those I've had in France. Day 4: Starter: Smoked breast of Long-island duckling (DH) - he said this was very good, although it was served as a mousse, which may come as a surprise to some people. Soup: Cream of sun-ripened tomatoes (DH), Chilled cream of lychees (me) - the lychee soup was similar to the Strawberry Bisque - it tasted like melted lychees ice cream - yum! DH said the tomato soup was stellar. Salad: Artichoke Hearts (DH) - DH said it was the best salad of the week. If you like artichokes, it's a must. If you don't, but just want to try something new, it's highly recommended. EntrEe: Leg of Lamb (DH), Black tiger shrimp (me) - DH raved about the lamb. Shrimp were typical, but was served with whipped potatoes that were superb. Dessert: Napoleon (DH), lime sherbet (for my sore throat). Others at the table had crème brulee and said it was excellent. I would have, but my throat was in such pain, lime sherbet was all that was palatable by that point. Day 5: Starter: Tomatoes and mozzarella (both) - one of my all-time favorite appetizers. Since I'm from Indiana, I've grown up with the best tomatoes in the world (in my opinion), so I found the tomatoes slightly under ripe and very watery, but the mozzarella made up for it. Soup: French Onion Soup (both) - good Salad: Curly endives and tomatoes (DH) - DH said it was okay, but could've been better. EntrEe: Filet Mignon (DH), Coquilles St. Jacques (me) - best scallops ever! DH loved his filet mignon. Dessert: Amaretto cake (DH), Fresh fruit salad (me) Day 6 (Formal night): Starter: grilled mushrooms (DH) Soup: Broccoli and cheddar (DH) - good Salad: mixed garden (DH) EntrEe: Black tiger jumbo shrimp (me), Long-Island Duckling (DH) AND Chateaubriand with BEarnaise (DH). DH couldn't decide so he got both. The shrimp were okay. DH was floored by the Chateaubriand, and the duckling was excellent also. Dessert: Baked Alaska (both) - everyone gets this, and it was quite good. Day 7: Starter: Supreme of fresh fruit (both) - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Soup: Mango Crème (DH) - keeping with the melted ice cream theme... Salad: Vine ripened tomatoes and cucumber slices (both) - okay Entrees: Delice of the Ocean (me), Prime Rib (DH), Turkey (DH) - Delice of the ocean was a nice selection of seafood. DH liked the turkey and the prime rib, both. Good, but not breath-taking. Dessert: SoufflE (both), Chocolate fudge cake (me), brie (me) - I went all out on this last night. Again, the soufflE was great. I had to try the chocolate fudge cake - it was too rich. The brie was great - if I would've known it was so good, I would've ordered it all week long. NASSAU We arrived in Nassau around 3:00 am - I know this due to the loud "EEERRRRR" noise signaling our arrival. Fortunately, I was able to fall back asleep. We got up at 7:00, went down the Paris for breakfast, and got off the ship. We didn't book an excursion for Nassau, since it's so easy to get around and do your own thing there. We got off the ship around 7:45. Once you get off the ship, you walk a short distance into a "Welcome to Nassau" center, filled with scooter rentals and hair braiders. Warning: I've heard of cases of head lice from getting one's hair braided. Do so at your own risk! The women who braid hair and persistent, which is unfortunate for me, as I have hair down to my waist, so I was an easy target. Just be firm and polite with your "no thank you" and they'll back down, although sometimes it takes 2 or 3 times to get the point across. DH & I walked around downtown Nassau, which is quite charming. We enjoyed just exploring before the other tourists were up and around. There were 2 other ships in port that day: a smallish RCI ship and the Disney Wonder. So we were up before the city itself, which was a delightful time for exploration. After walking around until about 9:00, we ventured to the straw market. Such fun! It has a temporary "tent city" sort of feel, as the original straw market was destroyed by fire some time ago. The vendors are friendly, if not pushy, but that's part of the fun. My DH found a great white fedora-type straw hat with a great colonial-looking navy blue band. They wanted $35, we bargained down to $17. Some flea-market type stuff is around, but if you look closely, you can find some really cool stuff. We were here until about 10:30. So far, the weather was cloudy, but warm. We caught the #10a Jitney bus ($1 per person, each way) to Cable Beach. The helpful driver dropped us off in front of a hotel, which we simply walked through the lobby to get to the beach. Easy as pie! The beach was beautiful, the water warm. The clouds remained, however, and never broke. We were there until 12:30, when we decided to leave since the sun wasn't out. Naturally, once we were back on the return bus, the sun came out. Just our luck! We were hungry by this point, but first we wandered around the (now very busy and crowded) shops on Bay Street. We got back on board around 1:00, and the ship was nice and quiet as most were still in the town or on excursions. We grabbed lunch and I went up to lay out on the deck, and fell asleep in the now blaring sun. The weather was funny that way. We had clouds at Cable beach, yet we could see a massive rainstorm which seemed to be some miles away. We later found out that same rainstorm was over the Blue Lagoon, where many had excursions that day. We never felt a drop of rain. The time to be back on board was 2:30, yet there were two stragglers who came running up at 2:55, to be whisked back to the ship by a waiting golf cart. There's some in every crowd. I would recommend doing Nassau on your own unless there is an excursion you desperately want to take. MOTION SICKNESS Tuesday was our first full day at sea, and my, was it a windy one! I was fine in the morning, laying out in the beautiful fun from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. There was never a noticeable problem with chair saving throughout the week - there were always enough for everyone. Obviously, the ones right by the pool fill up first, but that is such a high-traffic area, I can't understand why anyone would want to try to lounge there anyhow. The wind this day was a steady 35 knots. Yes, that's right, 35! So there was a fair bit of rocking around. Now, I've never had motion sickness in my life. I can be on small boats and be just fine. Roller coasters? No problem. However, around 4:00 Tuesday afternoon I started to feel funny, and this lasted until Thursday night. I never vomited, but was constantly dizzy. I started taking Meclazine Tuesday evening and kept taking it. By Thursday, when it wasn't making me any better, I stopped taking it and by Friday morning I was fine. So I wonder if it helped, or made me worse. Tuesday was so rocky it was probably a legitimate case of motion sickness, but then when I kept taking it (on two port days); perhaps it hurt more than helped. Others had some problems with motion sickness that day, as the wind was so unyielding. Even DH, an able seaman himself, had a bit of difficulty. INFORMATION DESK (Purser) While lying on the deck that Tuesday, we indulged in two Miami Vice frozen cocktails, which we paid for with our drink tickets. We handed them to our drink server when he came around to take our orders, yet he didn't ask us to sign the back, which I found strange. "Oh well", I thought to myself, "no big deal." Well, sure enough, when he returned with our drinks, he had rang up a charge to our account, and presented me a receipt to sign. I refused to do so, since we had paid with drink tickets. He said, "Oh yes" and said he would remove the charge. Yet something didn't feel right about the situation to me. Sure enough, he didn't remove the charge, and we had been charged for the drinks we had already paid for. So, I paid a visit to the purser's desk Tuesday afternoon around 2:00. She said his shift may not have yet ended, and to check back later that night. So, I checked back later that night and the charge was still on my account. So, we filed an inquiry to have it removed, and I was to check back on Wednesday. I did so - Wednesday, the charge was still there, so we filed another inquiry. By the third attempt, the charge was finally removed. So, make sure to check for erroneous charges, and be persistent! And if you are given a receipt to sign, and you know you shouldn't be charged, don't sign it! The fact that I did not sign the erroneous receipt at the time he brought our drinks worked in my favor, even though he apparently didn't retain our drink tickets that we paid for the drink with. Overall, the pursers were patient, professional, understanding, and helpful; even though it took three trips down to get the charge removed. BINGO Bingo goes on every day. Typically, it is $10 for one card and $20 for three cards, and you have to have new cards for each game. However, on this particular Tuesday, they had "Austin Powers" bingo where there were four games, and you got to keep the same card for each day. Being frugal, I thought "what a good deal!" and purchased myself a single card, for $10. I won $100 on the first game. Hooray! This helped to offset some of our painful casino losses (he he). AFTERNOON TEA If you're a tea drinker (or even if you're not!) this is something not to be missed. Every 4:00, on sea days only, in the American Bar, you can indulge in a one-hour tea time. Mark, the fabulous piano player, provides entertainment, while numerous servers bring around a choice of tea, done the correct English was, finger sandwiches (cucumber and tomato as vegetarian options, and they are fantastic!), and a selection of pastries in the last 15 minutes. This was one of the highlight of my sea days. Absolutely magnificent, and a great way to pass away that hour when there's not much else going on. Plus, it was never crowded in there. You don't have to show up right at 4:00 either, whenever you wander in is completely okay. INFIRMARY Tuesday afternoon my husband woke up from our afternoon nap and noticed his chest and arms were covered in a nasty case of hives. We had some cortisone cream with us, so we applied some of that in hopes it would make the inflammation go down. Well, it didn't. So, early Wednesday morning, we visited the infirmary so he could get a Cortisone shot. Now, Wednesday was a port day, visiting La Romana in the Dominican Republic, and we had an excursion leaving at 8:30. The infirmary didn't open until 8:00, so we figured go in, quick shot, plenty of time to make the excursion. Well, it would have been, except no one in the infirmary bothered to even show up until 8:15! Now, I'm usually pretty easy going. However, if you're supposed to open the infirmary at 8:00, then be there on time! 8:15 and 8:00 are not the same thing, folks! Anyhow, 8:30 rolled around and my DH was still waiting for the doctor to bother showing up (the nurse had already done the paperwork, blood pressure, etc). Our excursion was leaving! So, it became my job to run out to the excursion and have them wait until he got his shot. I told him to run like h#$% when he got his shot and get out there. So, at 8:29, I ran out to find a much longer trek to the parking lot where the excursions were being held than I had expected. DH showed up 15 minutes later, with a sore bum and some prescriptions for steroids and benadryl. I asked him how much it was, he said he didn't care to ask, he just signed and ran out to the busses. We went to our excursion, and went back to the infirmary upon our return for the total. This story is pretty funny so I'll try to recount it well, but it's hard to do in writing. But I'll give it a try. The nurse was figuring our total, and said "I won't charge you for the Benadryl." Finding this gesture very nice, I said "Thank you! What is the total?" "Six ten" replied the nurse. Both of our jaws dropped. "What was that?" I asked "Six ten." She repeated, wondering why we had these ghastly looks on our faces. "Six ten?" I countered. "How on Earth could a shot and some medications be that much? The nurse figured out what was going on. We thought the total was $610. She meant that the Benadryl, for which we were not being charged, was $6.10. She chuckled, and explained herself. I have never been so relieved in my life! The actual total was $87, including the $60 it costs just to see the doctor. Whew! LA ROMANA After our adventure with the late-arriving medical staff, I breathlessly made the surprisingly lengthy sprint to the parking lot to locate our guide "Coochie Coochie" for the Powerboat Pure Adrenaline Tour. I panted to him that my DH was getting a shot and would be right there, if he would hold the bus. He said no problem. I stood and waited to flag down my DH, who came sprinting out (despite his sore bum!) 15 minutes later. It turns out there was a large group, of about 15 people, who were holding up the tour anyhow because they had overslept, so all our panic about missing the tour was for naught. Once everyone was on board, we pulled out into the amazingly beautiful Dominican countryside. Now, based on everyone's reviews of this port, I had very low expectations. However, it turned out to be my favorite port of all. The bus took us for about 20 minutes to Casa de Campo, where we got off the bus and walked about 5 minutes to the pier. We had a chance to go to the bathroom before being divided into two groups for the powerboats. I wasn't looking forward to this excursion - I'm terrified of high speeds, yet I let my husband choose this excursion. I'm glad I went! Once we started going I had a blast. We first went past a picturesque harbor with lots of massive yachts, for a photo op. Next, we went past some neat eroded cliffs. Then the boats stopped and the guide fed some piranhas, which was quite a sight. Then we went about 50 more feet to the beach, and got out. Naturally, the piranhas don't bother the beach goers, if anyone is concerned about that. This beach was small but beautiful, and the sun was out (for once!) There was a young man selling fresh coconuts for $1 each from a wheelbarrow. He cuts them open, sticks a straw in them, and then when you've drank all the milk, he chops them in half so you can eat the flesh. Beautiful! There were some small vendor stalls about 100 feet off the beach, but they don't approach you. You only go up there if you wish, but there is a language barrier if you do not speak Spanish. After about 30 minutes on the beach, we went back to La Piscina Natural, the natural swimming pool. There are massive starfish on the floor of the "pool", which is simply a large area of very shallow, clear, warm water that extends quite a way off of the coast. We got back in the boats to head back to the Marina, and could see it was raining at our final destination. So, we waited some distance away until the rain left. So, in both Nassau and here, others got a heavy rainstorm on their excursions, while we watched from a comfortable, dry distance away. During the entire excursion, there was complimentary rum and cokes, water, and beer. I had only water, DH had beer (he said it was similar to Red Stripe) and rum and cokes. We were bussed back to the ship, but first went to an exclusive area and were shown the home of Sammy Sosa, the national hero from the Dominican Republic. Overall, I was very pleased with the DR and with this particular excursion, which was a bit pricey ($89 pp) but well worth it! IMMIGRATION Thursday was our final port, St. Thomas. Since this is a US territory, we had to go through immigration here rather than upon return to Miami. Immigration was due to start at 7:00 am for non-US citizens and 7:30 for US citizens. As my DH is British, but a US permanent resident, he reported to the Normandie lounge dutifully at 6:50, and I wandered over to the Queen Mary Lounge at the same time. I encountered a line of already about 50 people; DH was in a line of 5. So, we waited. And waited and waited and waited. The immigration officials weren't ready to start processing the US Citizens until 8:00 - bad news for those in the latter part of the line who had 8:15 excursions! DH & I had an excursion to St. John leaving at 8:30, so we agreed to meet back in the cabin before heading out. Well, since I was I in the front of the line, I was finished by 8:10, so I returned to the cabin. It turns out that immigration for non-US citizens didn't even begin until 8:30 (a full 90 minutes late!). Fortunately, DH was fifth in line and was done in 5 minutes. At 8:30, we ran out from deck 3 to our excursion, which was in no hurry to go anywhere since the majority of people were still going through immigration. We didn't set out until 9:30, a full hour late. The trouble was that, apparently after I had gone through, they announced that people with excursions should advance to the front of the line. Well, this made those who had been waiting patiently very mad and some shouting matches erupted. If the immigration officials had been ready and begun on time, there would have been no trouble. But, the way I look at it, it's better to do it here than in Miami, where people may have early flights that they couldn't make if there was an immigration snafu. Let's get it figured out here, and not mess with it in Miami. ST THOMAS/ST JOHN So, we left the port on the "Island Girl" ferry (?) at 9:30, and arrived at St John around 10:30. We boarded a safari bus with the craziest driver I've ever been with for the 30 minute drive to St John. We arrived to the National Park at 11:00, after several stops en route for photo opportunities of Trunk Bay. We had but one hour to snorkel, whereas we would've had two had we left on time. But it worked out, as after an hour I was ready to go, having snorkeled all I could. The snorkel equipment is included with a brief explanation. They turn you loose on the underwater trail, which was crowded but fine. The most interesting sections to snorkel in are off to the right, which is much less crowded with people and more crowded with fish. There is a snack bar with great greasy fries, but the birds here are VERY aggressive and will take the fries right out of your hands, so beware! We were back by 1:30, at which point DH & I changed clothes and grabbed lunch, to head out to Charlotte Amalie for some shopping. DH had his eye on a Raymond Weil, and we found some very nice ones for GREAT prices, so we know where to return to for jewelry shopping! We picked up some rum balls (yum!) at a nice gift shop, among other souvenirs. It is a bit of a walk to downtown, so take a taxi ($3 pp, each way) unless you really want to walk. All day here it was quite cloudy, but humid. If the sun would have been out, it would have been oppressively hot. We had a nice time here shopping, and it is a beautiful place. We were back on board at 4:00, even though we had until 4:30. WEATHER The weather was funny this week. On our three port days it was cloudy, and rained on some people on different parts of the island, but we lucked out. Some nights we encountered rain, but it wasn't noticeable in terms of any choppy waters. All of our sea days and both days in Miami were sunny and beautiful, but Tuesday was incredibly windy. SHOWS I was only able to stay awake for the final show, the talent show. The other nights included Vegas-style productions, which I sat through the first half of each but fell asleep, as I didn't find them too engaging, but then again I'm not really into that sort of thing. The magician was slightly cheesy, and I fell asleep about 10 minutes into it, so I went back to the cabin. DH went to every show, every night, including late-night comedians, which he really enjoyed. COFFEE BAR Starbucks-type venue on the Promenade deck, with great chocolate tuxedo strawberries and pastries, and coffees that aren't quite Starbucks, but then again they don't cost as much either. karaoke BAR DH went here and said it was always crowded with people having a great time. I, of course, was asleep. REX NIGHT CLUB DH was here as well, and went 4/7 nights. They had retro night (80's, old school hip hop) which he loved, and it was always crowded and popular, except for the final night (the one time I stayed up!) when there was no one there. GALLERIA SHOPS Strangely enough, this was comparably priced to the shops on the islands. We took advantage of the special of 4 bottles of Cruzan flavored rum for $24, a very good price. They had a surprising selection of liquors. Do not pass up rum cakes! They're no cheaper on the islands, and they have a 6-pack of 6 different flavors for $24. They offer samples throughout the week. Best cake ever! Even the souvenirs were not overpriced, as you may find at say, a hotel gift shop. NON-SMOKING It was so nice not to have to inhale the toxic death fumes from inconsiderate cigarette smokers at all, not even in ports did I encounter the nasty stench of death. I'm writing a letter, begging Carnival to keep a smoke-free ship. For those of us who enjoy life and do not want to kill ourselves and others, a smoke-free ship is such a nice slice of heaven. FUNNEL DECK Friday, when I was finally feeling great, with no touch of motion sickness, and the sun was shining, so I ventured up to the funnel (topless) deck nice and early (9:00) when there was no one up there. A strange thing happened. I was enjoying my solitude and my book, when every single person (men *ahem*) who was up there felt the compulsive need to come over and talk to me. Now, this was a strange phenomenon - all week, with my top on, no one stops to say hello. But as soon as the top comes off, everyone must come and introduce themselves. Okay, I get it, if you want to look, look! I don't care! But you don't have to stumble over your words and embarrass yourself (and me) by trying to make conversation to have an excuse to stare at them. Once others came up to the deck around 10:30, this phenomenon stopped. It was just strange, really. I don't mind others up there "enjoying the view" so to speak, the human body is beautiful and there's nothing to be ashamed of. But please, give me my solitude! I was up there to be alone, not to make feeble conversation with men who were really only interested in the view. CRUISE DIRECTOR Jeff Bronson (pronounced as the French would, a la "Brrrronson") was quite a character. Never pushy with the endless announcements, always funny, always friendly. I was amused by the capers, which began on Sunday saying "Cruise Director: Jeff Bronson", proceeded by Wednesday to read "Cruise Director: Jeff Brrronson" and by Saturday had degenerated to simply read "Cruise Director: Brrronson!" It's true, a good CD can really make a good cruise great, and he did. SOCIAL HOST Sara from England is a delightful social host, moderating the games and in general, providing lots of fun. CHILDREN There were very few children on this cruise. Those that were on board were rarely seen or heard, and always polite. No running on the decks, no running in the halls. I couldn't have asked for a better "children" situation, and I'm one who is easily annoyed by children. ROOM SERVICE Quick and good, we never waited more than 10 minutes. Try the shrimp salad sandwich! A fairly good room service menu, but I'm sure you could make special requests. Don't forget to tip! (This is where those $2 bills come in handy.) ICE CREAM Oh yes, I miss this! The one on the right is Frozen Yogurt; the one on the left is Soft Serve. My husband didn't notice this until about mid-week, and was wondering why the ice cream wasn't quite what he expected (he'd been eating frozen yogurt, which I prefer by the way). There are 3 choices: chocolate, twist, and vanilla. I was under the impression there was a toppings bar, but there is not. However, you can get a bowl rather than a cone, and mix in fresh fruit or granola (yum!) PIZZA This is every bit as good as you've heard. My husband enjoyed the meat-types; I had the "De Chevre", which was Goat cheese and mushroom, two of my all-time favorite foods. I'm not sure what makes this pizza so good. Maybe because it's free, maybe because it's 24 hours a day, maybe it's the view as you take it out on the Lido deck and watch the sea go by. But it's GOOD! Great toppings, not too much sauce, lots of cheese, fantastic crust. I want some now! SPA We had wanted to try the Chakra Alpha Balancing capsule, and we were lucky enough to both be able to do it. My DH went on Wednesday, when they were running a 25 minutes for $25 special, and had but one appointment left while we were in port. I was sad I didn't get to go, but wandered up on Saturday and they gave me the Wednesday port special price (actually, because there was some confusion, she gave me 40 minutes for $25, which got her a nice tip!). This thing is awesome. It's an egg sort of thing which you lay in, while music plays, your muscles are vibrated, and your body is wrapped in warmth. It's so relaxing! I fell asleep. 25 minutes in this is supposed to be equal to 2-3 hours of deep sleep, and I believe it. I felt so rested once I emerged. There is only one capsule in the spa, so if you want to do it, book early! The prices were fair, comparable to a land-based spa, but the in-port specials are not to be missed. GYM We both took our gym clothes, but I had taken a nasty St. Bernard-related fall the Saturday prior to leaving, so my knees were really banged up and sore all week, so I didn't work out. DH did, but found the weights strange and unnatural to use, so he didn't go back. However, it was usually pretty busy and the view from up there is spectacular. BREAKFAST We had breakfast in the Paris most days, where they have a nice buffet, omelet station (with vegetarian options such as mushrooms and cheese), cereal, fruit, pastries, tea, coffee, etc. We had breakfast in the Elation dining room one day, which was fine, but we really liked the Lido deck breakfast, so we returned to that. LUNCH Lido deck 5 days, room service 2 days. Typical lunch fare. GALA BUFFET This is so cool! It takes place after your second formal night. The detail of this food is unbelievable. After you take photos in the Elation dining room, you can go to the Destiny dining room and "tear into" the duplicate buffet set up over there. Yum! FORMAL NIGHTS Surprisingly few tuxedos were worn, mostly dark suits for men, evening gowns for women. Lots of picture stands everywhere - get your photos taken as much as you can! Everyone that I noticed was dressed appropriately (i.e. no jeans in the dining room on formal night! (He he). POOLS Filled and cleaned daily. They were never too busy, although I never did try the water slide. CASINO This took a fair bit of our money, but we love casinos as it is. As the cruise was a gift from my parents, including $2000 spending money, we were slightly more liberal with our casino donations than we may have been otherwise. We both entered the Blackjack tournament both nights, but the dealer (the Casino Host) was ruthless and kept hitting 20's and 21's, eating contestants up and spitting them back out. Everyone always says "don't play roulette!" but I did well at roulette, hitting pretty well and coming out ahead. DH played Blackjack all week and lost about $300, so between my slot, bingo, and roulette wins, we came out just slightly under even. There are many slot machines, several blackjack tables of different varieties (traditional, face up, fun 21), Caribbean Stud Poker, 3-Card Poker, Craps, and Roulette. PHOTO GALLERY Each day the new photos are put up, along with all the others from the rest of the week. I didn't decide which to buy until the last day, when all the formal night photos were finished. The photographers are absolute professionals, who take great photos. What a great souvenir, or gift for a loved one! SHIP CLEANLINESS There was always someone scrubbing, polishing, sweeping, washing, etc. The ship was spotless and beautiful, although I still managed to catch a nasty cold around Wednesday. CELL PHONE SERVICE We took our GSM T-Mobile phone, and surprisingly didn't have reception in Nassau, but we did in La Romana and St Thomas. DEBARKATION I attended the debarkation talk on Saturday, and since we'd already cleared immigration, everyone was eligible for express (self-assist) debarkation. Generally, it's only open to US citizens, but everyone could since we didn't have to mess with it in Miami. Jeff instructed those who wished to do express debarkation to not put their luggage out the night before, and around 7:00 am, open our cabin door and listen for the announcement, but to wait in our cabin until we heard the announcement. We wanted to do self-debarkation so we could get to the airport sooner rather than later. So, at 7:00, I opened the cabin door, and listened. Tons of announcements, mostly "so and so, please report to the information desk or dial 7777." 8:00 rolled around, when the announcement was supposed to be made, no announcement. 8:15, no announcement. By 8:25, we were antsy, so I called information. "Yes, the announcement was made at 8:00. The window closes in 5 minutes, so please proceed quickly to the debarkation area." What?! Turns out that announcement isn't made in the cabin hallways, only the public areas. So, even though I followed instructions to the letter, waiting in my cabin and listening to announcements as instructed, I nearly missed the self-assist debarkation. Good thing I called, huh? If we hadn't called, we would've had to be the last off the ship. Anyhow, leaving at 8:25 when we did was perfect, as we were off the ship by 8:30 due to there being absolutely no line. LEAVING MIAMI We grabbed a cab at 8:30, and we were at the airport by 8:45. Our flight wasn't until 1:27, but I'm the kind who would rather wait in the safety of the airport for 6 hours rather than running up to the counter with 30 minutes before the flight. TOTAL COST Overall, we spent a total of $3100 for two people, and we shopped, drank and gambled to our heart's content. The flight and cruise together were $1800. We spent $600 cash, mostly in the casino and on shore for souvenirs, and $700 on our S&S card, which included tips, drinks, 2 corkage fees, duty-free shop purchases, bingo, and little here-and-there purchases such as an extra pastry or coffee. We never watched our nickels and dimes and still spent well less than we had budgeted for. OVERALL IMPRESSIONS Great vacation! Any minor problems were dealt with. The ports were great, ship was immaculate, never a shortage of things to do. The value was good, considering one couldn't do a week at an all-inclusive resort for 2 for $3000, yet that's basically what this turned out to be. We will be doing another one soon, perhaps the western route since we want to visit Grand Cayman. Seven days may be about two days too long for me, as I was missing my dog horribly by day five. So next time, we may try a five day from Tampa. I'm just sad that any future cruises I take will be on smoking ships, but maybe Carnival will come to its senses and resume non-smoking service on some ship, somewhere after the Paradise goes smoking in September. The only bad part was my cold (not Carnival's fault) and the motion sickness (again, not Carnival's fault) which I now know how to handle (not so much medication!). We'll be cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
We cruised over spring break and the ship was full of families, which was fine with us. Dining: The staff is well trained and took great care of us. The meals were mostly average, both in the dining room and the Paris restaurant ... Read More
We cruised over spring break and the ship was full of families, which was fine with us. Dining: The staff is well trained and took great care of us. The meals were mostly average, both in the dining room and the Paris restaurant (buffet). That was the only disappointment about the cruise. When we cruised Alaska several years ago on the Jubilee, the food was excellent. We were seated with 2 other families. 3 sets of parents and 4 teens. Worked well. Cabin: R116. Got lots of exercise going up and down the stairs, which was fine with me. I only gained 2 pounds. The cabin was apparently above something that occasionally made noise, but it was not a problem except for the morning we arrived back in Miami - there was a lot of noise then. Ports: Loved them all! Tendering is not fun at all. Very tedious. All I can say is get on line 30 - 45 minutes early and you'll be the first off the ship. That's what I did. Belize and Roatan are quite third world, i.e. squalor. But the cave tubing was one of the highlights of the trip. We booked it ourselves with Reggie's. We just took a cab to the West End of Roatan and snorkeled in an idyllic locale. Ate some great local food there too. Grand Cayman we booked with Captain Marvin's and snorkeled, then went to Stingray City. Loved it! But the best was the snuba in Cozumel with Mayan Paradise. Website is www.snubacoxumel.com. Snuba was so much better than snorkeling and we have snorkeled extensively in many locations in the Caribbean and Hawaii. Kids Program. My 15 year old daughter went to the orientation meeting and decided it was dorky! She made a friend at our dining table and spent time with her. On Board Activities: The shows were so-so. But the comedians and the juggler were great! Otherwise, we just laid out in the sun. Nothing else seemed too interesting. Unfortunately, Paradise will no longer be smoke free later this year. Big loss there. Non-smokers don't drink or gamble enough for this policy to be profitable. Definitely true of us. We ran up less than $15 on the Sign and Sail card...and it was all done by our 15 yr. old! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Review Carnival Paradise April 25 to May 2, 2004. 2nd Cruise for myself and husband. 1st Cruise for three daughters (teens). Good time was had by all. A different experience for us, since last time we went by ourselves. Bringing the kids ... Read More
Review Carnival Paradise April 25 to May 2, 2004. 2nd Cruise for myself and husband. 1st Cruise for three daughters (teens). Good time was had by all. A different experience for us, since last time we went by ourselves. Bringing the kids had advantages and disadvantages, but was a great experience for our family. Embarkation (Sunday): We stayed the night before in a Best Western hotel and arrived by Taxi around 11:30 am. We had NO problems getting on board and it seemed very fast - maybe half an hour. The ship looked great. It is not as big as some of the others, but had everything that was needed and more. It is an impressive looking ship. Very clean and has been well maintained. The Atrium is awesome. Rooms: We had two inside rooms booked and that is what we got. They were both the same and had ample room. We put three girls into one room and they had two lower and two upper beds. (used only one upper). They thought it was great. The bathroom is basic has shower, sink and toilet. Shower has shampoo and body wash only - no conditioner, so bring some. It did not have a blow dryer or robes. There is a small basket of 'goodies' for you - containing sample sized shampoo/conditioner/gel, Tylenol PM, mens and ladies razors, Rolaids, cream, and a couple of other things. We had our two beds made into one and there was a 'hump' in the middle. Bed was okay, not best or worst I have slept in. We were on Riviera Deck (4) which is LOW, so we did hear a few clunks and bumps during night from below but nothing that was too disturbing to us. We had put two bottles of liquor into our checked bags and received them with no problems. Dining: I had originally booked the late seating, which turns out was 8:00 pm in the Destiny Dining room. I figured it would give us plenty of time to do our 'daytime' stuff and then have a lots of time to get ready for dinner. Everyone in my family objected to the late time, so we changed it and got the 5:45 in Destiny. We usually eat around 6:30 or 7:00 pm so I thought we might not like it. As it turns out it was fine. We usually arrived around 6:00 and that was okay. Our servers, Enny and Lady were wonderful. We loved them. They learned our names right away and figured out our preferences. They treated us royally. All of the meals we had were great. Plenty of choices and if you wanted more than one choice - go for it! On a couple of occasions the girls ordered something they had not tried before. If they did not like it, it was no problem to have another choice brought to them. Most nights there was usually a choice of: Pasta dish, Poultry dish, Beef dish, Seafood or Fish and a Vegetarian. All were very nicely presented and it is a good opportunity to try something different. Good dessert selection too. Port days: We had five people so going on an Excursion through the ship was very expensive. We decided to do all our port days on our own. All were planned ahead and organized via Internet, etc. You must always ensure you plan to be back to the ship with PLENTY of time if you are on your own because they will not wait for you. With a little pre-planning this is not a problem. Nassau (Monday): There was not a whole lot that we found of interest to do here on our own. We decided to take a water taxi over to Paradise Island ($3 pp one way). It was easy to find right near where the ship docks. We wanted to see Atlantis so we walked from where taxi docked to the hotel. About 15 minutes. Paradise Island is very built up and wealthy. Atlantis is awesome. We walked in and around the hotel to see what would could for free. There is a walkway around most of the outside of the building and the upper part of the aquarium on the far side. Inside by the dining room area we found the 'free' part of the inside aquarium. Very interesting. We had no idea where we were going and just kept walking to see different things. Lots of shops inside but they looked expensive. We had considered going to Cabbage Beach after Atlantis, but we were all getting too hot and tired, so decided to head back over for some shopping in Nassau and back to ship. Departure is at 2:30 pm so you do not really have a whole lot of time. This is also the first formal night so we wanted time to have a quick light lunch and relax before dinner. We all 'dressed' for dinner. You can wear whatever you want because the 'formal' part is optional. My husband just wore dress pants, shirt and tie (no jacket). The girls wore dress or skirts. (we did not go for the "ball gowns and tuxedo's" - but you can if you like and plenty did). At Sea (Tuesday, Friday, Saturday): All of the Sea Days were much the same. There were inside activities planned (Bingo, Talks, Auctions, Spa) and outside activities by the pool on Lido deck. In my mind not a 'whole lot' of things to do outside. But if you read your Carnival Capers you can usually find something to do, or not, if you would rather relax on deck. Chairs are a bit hard to get. Good ones go early, but we always found somewhere if we needed to. La Romana, D.R. (Wednesday): We had arranged to have a private tour with Rafael Silva Taxi service. This was done over the internet prior to arriving. We do not speak Spanish and their driver's do not speak English so we were a bit concerned. I arranged with the Taxi company to have an itinerary with times on it so we would know what to expect. We visited: the town of La Romana (not really a whole lot that was of interest). A lot of locals hanging around and stores did not seem very nice. Might have been different if we spoke the language. Our Driver took us to one touristy type store. They were very nice and we bought a couple of things. Second stop (after about ½ hour drive) was Cuevas de la Maraveillas or the Caves of Wonder. This is a government run Cave site. Very nice and it has been fixed up very professionally. It is a guided tour and takes about 45 minutes. Next we drove back across La Romana to the other side to Alto de Chavon. Lots has been written about this. We found it interesting and beautiful but it was very hot and we wanted to get to our next stop - Bayahibe Beach. The beach is beautiful (and topless) and we spent about an hour. We returned to ship with plenty of time to spare and all agreed the day went very well. St. Thomas, USVI (Thursday): This was a beautiful Port. We had arranged to tour with Godfrey Tours (lots of info on Cruise Critic) Unfortunately it took us a long time to get through Immigration (as non US) and then the line up to get off the ship was huge. We were supposed to meet him at 9:00 and by the time we got off it was 9:10, and he had left. We eventually made contact via his cell phone, and he arranged for someone else to come get us at 10:00. Our guide (sorry forget her name) was great. We were able to Tour and see the whole island (Beautiful) and then spent a couple of hours at Coki Beach snorkeling (Beautiful). We also were able to shop downtown and got some very good deals on jewelry and a watch. Debarkation (Sunday): We had a very early flight so we did the Express debarkation. You have to keep you bags and be able to carry them with you. This went very smoothly and we were in taxi on the way to the airport by 8:00 am. Other Stuff: Pool was salt water (yuk) and it was very cold. I know they are all salt water on ships but I do not like it. It was cold though, and nice to cool off in when hot. The Slide was a big hit for all the "kids" (both young and old). Buffet - was good. We used it mainly for breakfast and quick snacks. It had a good selection and is pretty typical of any buffet you may have visited. Nothing spectacular but certainly sufficient for what you may need. I thought the Pizza was very good. As for drinks you can usually at any time get Apple Juice, Lemonade, Fruit Punch and cold Tea (unsweetened). The soda card is rather expensive ($28 USD) so if your kids like any of the above it is probably not worth the card. You can buy a glass of soda for $1 or can for $1.50 so you need to drink almost 3 or 4 per day to get your money's worth. Staff: Most staff we met were great. Room steward and dining staff outstanding. Others we met around the ship friendly and helpful. The Concierge desk was a bit impatient, but they do bear the brunt of any unhappy passengers so maybe their day gets a bit long?? This is a problem we had seen before - so perhaps they all need better training in their "people and conflict resolution skills". Shows: We enjoyed almost all the shows. The comedians/magicians, etc were all quite funny. Some were a bit rude and offensive so may not be to everyone's taste. And, if you sit in the front row you may be subject to ridicule. The "Dream" Weaver show was a huge singing/dancing production and although they put a lot of work into it we thought it was so/so. They were all worth having a look at though. We did not really go to any of the Disco's. The Karaoke Bar was fun and some of the people quite talented. We attended the Animation/Sport Art Action but did not buy anything. All in all we had a great time. The kids are all ready to go back any time. It was well worth the money we spent and I can not imagine a better value for your money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
we had a great time on our cruise this is a very nice ship and I was quite impressed with the condition and cleanliness of the ship. sure there are water stains on the carpet but everything else was very clean, they had people cleaning the ... Read More
we had a great time on our cruise this is a very nice ship and I was quite impressed with the condition and cleanliness of the ship. sure there are water stains on the carpet but everything else was very clean, they had people cleaning the ship all day long our cabin size was quite adequate and the amenities were good you get a shell in your room with shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, razors, toothpaste, and rolaids. we traveled with a group of 4 cabins and not all had all the stuff in there so if you need something ask you cabin steward our cabin steward kept up on our room very well except for the blue towels they give you to use we had to ask every morning for them when we went up on deck or on an excursion, it was no big deal , whey were warm and just out of the dryer so I figured they just didn't have enough to replenish the night before he also kept pur cooler of water and pop filled with ice. The drink guys and gals were awesome at first they seem to bug you a bit but you get used to it and then you have your favorites who remember your number and know what you like to drink (big dick and little dick were our favorites) we met big dick right away and we noticed his name tag and called him richard he said no you can call me big dick there was also a guy in the bar in the paris restaurant (ioseph) i think this was his last name, but he told some interesting stories in some sort of english.. the meals were excellent you always had food in front of you at dinner and they entertained you most nights while they serve desserts and the desserts were great..especially the baked alaska yummy the food in the paris restaurant was good too and on the lido deck try the pizza and the burgers these were my standard josh the cruise director does a great job and he is very funny one night he was more entertaining than the comedian sarah and tina the activities directors do a great job keeping you entertained with a ton of activities, those girls are flying all over the place overall we had a great time we got to the port shortly after 11 and after 15 minutes going through security we went right up to an agent and after 5 minutes there it was up to the holding are where you get you sign and sail after about 1/2 hour here we were on board . probably by 12:15 we were told to stay out of our cabins til 1 so we went to the paris and ate some lunch and by that time it was 1 at st thomas you go through immigration this line was the entire length of the ship but once it started moving it only took us about 15 minutes to get through it so don't be scared if you are lined up in the atrium and you have an early excursion it goes fast and they also come through asking what time your excursion is and move you up if needed disembarkment was also very fast they started calling colors around 9 and we never figured they would clear the ship by 10 but it went very fast and before you know it you are out on the sidewalk and your cruise is over :( I would definitely cruise carnival again it was a great deal for a vacation Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was the first time I had been on a cruise and heard several horror stories and several raving reviews. Since we lived only a few hours away we left home Sunday the 28th at 7:00am. Traffic was ok until we arrived closer to the port. ... Read More
This was the first time I had been on a cruise and heard several horror stories and several raving reviews. Since we lived only a few hours away we left home Sunday the 28th at 7:00am. Traffic was ok until we arrived closer to the port. Then, traffic turned into a thrill ride. Both cars arrived and we used the porters to help with the luggage. Parking was easy, and embarkation was swift as we used Carnival's FunPass service to help speed up the process. We only sat in the lobby for four minutes, then it was off to be photographed. We arrived on the ship and were informed we could go to our cabins. Once I found my cabin I was amazed to see that some of the luggage had already arrived. The first day onboard was very relaxing and enjoyable. Ports: St. Thomas is easy to do on your own, we took a taxi from the pier it was $20.00 pp for him to take us from the pier up the mountain, stopped to see the ship from the top and Drake's Seat, then he continued up the mountain to the top where they have a big tourist center and the view was AMAZING! He then took us down to Sapphire Beach and returned when we asked him to to bring us to the boat in plenty of time that we even shopped in the town near the pier before heading back. I did not think shopping here was as "cheap" as I thought it would be after all the hype. Of course I wasn't looking for diamonds either, but gold was about the same, just minus taxes. If anyone wants the Taxi drivers # email me... anyhow the trip was GREAT and Sapphire beach has great snorkeling up against the beach and it gets better the further out you go. Nice showers/bathrooms and a restaurant. Not too many people there either. DR- Do not do on your own if your looking to really experience the island. We did take a taxi/bus to Casa Del Campo's La Marina, for $4.00 rt pp, which was fun. However note that no one speaks English here. We were lucky to find a nice man in the coffee shop who was willing to translate to the shop clerk for us. The groceries are really cheap in the supermarket here so if you need anything for the ship stock up here. Prices are in Pesos but they accept american money. We managed to buy two bottles of pepsi, candy, postcards and a large bag of chips for under $3.00 american. There were a few nice shops here with handmade items for sale and some name brand stores. We purchased some rum in a hand painted bottle and some clay dolls. OH the bus we took gave us a 1/2 hour tour on the way to shopping, past Sam Sosa's houses... it was pretty nice. Nassau- Research, and it is easy to do on your own. We took a taxi from the pier to Paradise Island (dropped us off at the door of Atlantis)... it was $4.00 each way pp. We explored the resort, took photos and toured the dig, apparently before 10am or so in the morning there is no one there selling tickets, we just entered and looked around and then left. We then left the hotel and headed down to the beach about 2 blocks down to try to snorkel. Clear, beautiful beaches, but there were jet skis so we could not snorkel there. We found out later that just past the curve of the beach there is awesome snorkeling so next time we will know better. Otherwise this port reminded me a lot of Key West. Very tourist orientated. Lots of nice shops near the pier. Sea Days: There was always something to do onboard on the sea days. We were never bored, in fact sometimes we had to pick what to do because there was so much going on. The ship had television (ABC, CBS, NBC) and they also have three movie channels (free of charge) showing newer movies and also the TravelLog channel with clips from your cruise. The stations come in from Tenn and NY. We loved the Newly Wed Game, the big shows, trivia was always fun. The pool was nice, but crowded. Although the ship never really felt crowded, except right after a show when people were trying to get to their rooms, etc. My group did not use the laundry but I did use the iron, it is located near U154 and E$ if I remember correctly. Lines for food were never really that bad either, never more than 10 or so people long. Food/Dining: We ate in the Destiny Dining Room each night except the last. Our Asst. Waiter Eva and Carlos were wonderful. They remembered us and remembered how we liked everything. Our Head Waiter however needed improvement and we did let Carnival know. After hearing post about people's wonderful experiences with their waiters he really let us down. The food was great, only once did I try something I didn't care for. We always had two apps and sometimes two desserts to try. They were awesome. We had breakfast in the Elation once and the servers were wonderful and it was a nice change. Most times we either ordered room service (yeah BLT's) or ate on the Lido. If anyone needs an idea of the food or menus email me I wrote most down. Overall I would have to say that was the best vacation ever and we had such a wonderful time. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Embarkation We arrived at the pier about 11:30. We were delayed a little while to fill out the Bahamas Immigration papers. I don't understand why Carnival didn't send this info out with our docs to save time. Things went fairly ... Read More
Embarkation We arrived at the pier about 11:30. We were delayed a little while to fill out the Bahamas Immigration papers. I don't understand why Carnival didn't send this info out with our docs to save time. Things went fairly smooth and we were on the ship by 12:30. Cabin Our cabin had my family of 5 in it: My wife, myself, our 11 yr old daughter, 8 yr old son, and our almost 6yr old son. The cabin was set up with a queen bed, two Murphy beds and a rollaway. A little tight but manageable. Ample storage for the clothing. The Bathroom is roomy with a nice amenities basket provided. The cabin steward was excellent. Our kids loved the Towel animals and the cookie turndown service. Ship: The Paradise in in excellent shape. The public areas are tastefully done and well laid out. The Atrium area is very beautiful. The main deck area has a very large pool with a spiral slide and a couple of hot tubs. A very large bandstand area for the live music. My main complaint is the design of the main theatre. Many obstructed views. Get there early or you will not be able to see the stage very well. The non-smoking aspect of the ship was a real pleasure. Too bad they will be changing that policy when the ship relocated to California. Dining & Service: This is an area Carnival is very inconsistent. We had all of our breakfasts at the main restaurant. This was good but limited menu. Lunch was served only on sea days in the dinning room. The port days we had lunch in the Paris buffet and the grill area or the Pizza. Very small variety in the buffet areas and not that tasty. They did have good Hamburgers. The Pizza we good but being from NY we are big Pizza critics. For Dinner we originally had a 5:45 early seating. We tried it the first night and felt very rushed. We changed it to 8pm. This was much better. Some of the dinners were very good for example the Lobster,Chateaubriand, and the Grouper. Beef dishes can only be ordered Med Rare or Med Well. Sometimes the meals arrived cold and had to be re-ordered. They never came around to offer 2nds. If you asked they would bring you another entree. They didn't serve shrimp as often as our previous cruises on Princess & Celebrity. The midnight buffets were basically repeats of the lunch offerings at the Paris with the addition of make your own crepes. The GrandBuffet was nice but again not that great. They had one deck party with a mexican theme. Room service was quick and efficient. Drink Prices We purchased one soda card for our 11yr old for $23. Our boys loved the Fruit Punch and Lemonade. We drank mostly Iced Tea. I found the drink prices to be on the high side. Virgin Pina Colodas ran $4, On Princess last year it cost us $2. Camp Carnival: This is where Carnival SHINES. My kids absolutely loved the Camp program. Our boys were put together in the 6-8 yr old group and had a fantastic time. They couldn't wait to go everyday. They ate dinner with the Camp Counselors everynight (this is a great feature). On the first formal night they had a cocktail party and had dinner then they took them to the show. The boys made several arts & crafts items they were able to take home. They were also given a Camp Carnival T-shirt and backpack. Our 11yr old enjoyed it also. She made several friends. She went to dinner with us adults. She also had an all night party- 10pm-8am (this cost $32 extra-but it was worth it!). The Counselors were excellent!!!! Ports Of Call-We basically went to beaches with the kids. Sightseeing would bore the heck out of them. Nassau We took a taxi to Paradise Island to a public beach. Nice beach but very rough swimming water. One tip-We heard many complaints from people who took the excursion to Blue Lagoon. Carnival's description of the tour said it was 5 1/2 hrs long. But the actual beach times is approx 2hrs. They charged a lot for this and people felt ripped off. Dominican Republic We took a taxi to Bayahibe Beach, beautiful..very tropical setting. Calm Warm Swimming water. Very Clean beach. The kids loved this beach. One word of warning-there were some topless sunbathers here. Our kids didn't notice. St. Thomas Everyone had to wake up early for US Customs. This is a new procedure when visiting this port. We all had to go to the main lounge to clear customs before they would let anyone off the ship. When we made it off the ship we were harassed by all the taxi drivers at the port. This really turned us off to the island. We did finally take one of the taxis to another beach. This time we went to Morning Star beach. Very nice-not crowded. The swimming water was not as calm as DR but not as rough as the Bahamas. Sea Days Hard to get deck chairs near the main pool. Much better luck getting chairs in the rear (AFT) pool area. Went to Afternoon tea twice- this is held in the America Piano bar area- not big enough to handle to crowd. Service here not great. Had to ask for tea and wait a long time for the snacks. Princess does this much better. We tried to go to the library to play Scrabble. Unfortunately they were out of Scrabble games (all checked out). The library has limited hours. The casino is very nice- calm crowd and no smoking!!! Entertainment Very nice production shows but hard to get a good seat. The Piano music was excellent. The Deck band was way too loud most of the time. You couldn't talk to one another without raising your voice. Staff Extremely friendly. The Purser's desk was probably the nicest people I have seen in this area. Debarkation Very smooth. Off the ship by 9:30am. No problem finding our luggage. Overall Very nice family vacation. Considering what we paid ($1950 for our cabin of 5 + Insurance) this was a good value. Carnival could improve there food and service some. I would definitely take the kids again on Carnival. When my wife & I get to go alone we will still look to go on either Princess or Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
We sailed the Paradise on February 29th on its Eastern Caribbean Cruise. Same as last year, we took our 2 children (13 & 10) along with us. Everything was perfect!!! We flew Jetblue from Syracuse to Fort Lauderdale - only 2 hours drive ... Read More
We sailed the Paradise on February 29th on its Eastern Caribbean Cruise. Same as last year, we took our 2 children (13 & 10) along with us. Everything was perfect!!! We flew Jetblue from Syracuse to Fort Lauderdale - only 2 hours drive from our home in Ottawa / Canada and got a great rate for a car rental with Dollar through Travelocity - $29.00 for a full-size car. We stayed the night before at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami and returned the car the following day at the Miami airport - Dollar provides a complimentary shuttle to the port. We were at the port around 11:30am on Sunday and 45 minutes later we were standing in the lobby of the Paradise - no lines or wait anywhere, which was totally different from our last year's experience in Tampa. We had booked 2 inside cabins on the Riviera Deck and both were ready with our luggage standing by the door after we had lunch in the Paris Buffet restaurant on Lido deck...Amazing! This was our fourth cruise and we always booked insides because you don't spend much time in them. Save that money for good shore excursions!!!! The ship was very clean, no smoking anywhere (only until October 2004) and the staff was outgoing and very friendly. We had dinner every night in the Elation Dining Room and both food and service were outstanding - thanks Luna (waiter) and Arriz (assistant). We enjoyed our daily breakfast and lunch at the Paris restaurant and found the buffet style food better than last year on the Sensation. The Pizzeria was a big hit with our kids and I have to admit that it was very good with a wide selection. Sushi bar was great although it was only available between 05:30pm to 08:30pm. Our dinner seating was at 05:45pm so it doesn't really provide you with sufficient time to enjoy the sushis. The Vegas Style shows were all nice and professionally made but you have to make your way to the Normandie Show Lounge early if you want good seats. They had daily and evening activities for everyone's taste - karaoke, stand up comedian, big production shows, bingos, Survivor game, etc. All ports were nice especially St-Thomas. We booked a tour with Godfrey http://www.godfreytoursvi.com/ and it was only $20 per person, which is so much cheaper than buying on the ship. We booked through his web site and he phoned us back in Canada to confirm the time we would like to be picked up. He gives you 2 or 3 hours of shopping, a 2 hour/tour of the island + a 2-hour stop at a beach of your choice - Magen Bay or Coki Beach. He makes a stop at Mountain Top, which is the highest point of the island - no need to buy tickets for the Paradise Point Gondola that takes you only 500' above the port location. We choose Coki and the snorkeling there was really amazing. You can rent your gear right on the beach for $10, which includes the vest if you need one. Our kids truly enjoyed the experience!! In La Romana / Dominican Republic, we bought the Riverboat and Altos de Chavron tour with Carnival and it is worth the money ($236.00 for a family of four). We didn't buy any excursion for Nassau. We took a horse carriage tour of downtown for $30.00 and took a cab to Paradise Island to use the public beach beside the Sheraton. Don't buy the on-board tour for the Atlantis Hotel because you can tour the lobby aquarium and outside one for free. Cab is about $10 from Pier to Paradise Island. Tip for parents: bring walkie-talkies with you to keep in touch with your kids on-board. Disembarkation was fast and efficient and we were in our hotel in Fort Lauderdale by noon. Carnival provides you with great value for the money. We have sailed RCCL & Premier and Carnival is still our best choice for family travel! Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This cruise on the Carnival Paradise was for my Mom's birthday/Family Reunion. She had never cruised before and has not been on a real vacation in a very long time. We booked 3 inside cabins on the Main Deck. My family and my bother ... Read More
This cruise on the Carnival Paradise was for my Mom's birthday/Family Reunion. She had never cruised before and has not been on a real vacation in a very long time. We booked 3 inside cabins on the Main Deck. My family and my bother & Girlfriend were traveling from NY. My mother and 11yr old nephew are from Florida. Pre-Cruise: The NY group flew out the day before (SAT) to FLL. We stayed at the Embassy Suites by the FLL. Pier. The hotel picked us up at the airport. The hotel is very nice. Beautiful grounds and pool. The room was big...sleeps 6. Free cocktail hour and buffet breakfast. If you are going out on a cruise from FLL. They will drop you off at the pier for n/c. Unfortunately it rained all day. My kids were determined to go swimming. We let them go in for a short while. They were going to get wet anyway. We ate dinner at the Outback Steakhouse across the street from the hotel. We made arrangements with a car service to bring us to the Port of Miami ($65). We had made arrangements with Cruise Connections to pickup my Mother & Nephew in Clearwater and bring them directly to the ship ($85 r/t). Embarkation We arrived at the pier about 11:30. We were delayed a little while to fill out the Bahamas Immigration papers. I don't understand why Carnival didn't send this info out with our docs to save time. Things went fairly smooth and we were on the ship by 12:30. Cabin Our cabin had my family of 5 in it: My wife, myself, our 11 yr old daughter, 8 yr old son, and our almost 6yr old son. The cabin was set up with a queen bed, two Murphy beds and a rollaway. A little tight but manageable. Ample storage for the clothing. The Bathroom is roomy with a nice amenities basket provided. The cabin steward was excellent. Our kids loved the Towel animals and the cookie turndown service. Ship The Paradise in in excellent shape. The public areas are tastefully done and well laid out. The Atrium area is very beautiful. The main deck area has a very large pool with a spiral slide and a couple of hot tubs. A very large bandstand area for the live music. My main complaint was the design of the main theatre. Many obstructed views. Get there early or you will not be able to see the stage very well. The non-smoking aspect of the ship was a real pleasure. Too bad they will be changing that policy when the ship relocated to California. Dining & Service This is an area Carnival is very inconsistent. We had all of our breakfasts at the main restaurant. This was good but limited menu. Lunch was served only on sea days in the dinning room. On port days we had lunch in the Paris buffet and the grill area or the Pizza. Very small variety in the buffet areas and not that tasty. They did have good Hamburgers. The Pizza we good but being from NY we are big Pizza critics. For Dinner we originally had a 5:45 early seating. We tried it the first night and felt very rushed. We changed it to 8pm. This was much better. Some of the dinners were very good for example the Lobster, Chateaubriand, and the Grouper. Beef dishes can only be ordered Med Rare or Med Well. Sometimes the meals arrived cold and had to be re-ordered. They never came around to offer 2nds. If you asked they would bring you another entree. They didn't serve shrimp as often as our previous cruises on Princess & Celebrity. The midnight buffets were basically repeats of the lunch offerings at the Paris with the addition of make your own crepes. The Grand Buffet was nice but again not that great. They had one deck party with a Mexican theme. Room service was quick and efficient. Drink Prices We purchased one soda card for our 11yr old for $23. Our boys loved the Fruit Punch and Lemonade. We drank mostly Iced Tea. I found the drink prices to be on the high side. Virgin Pina Coladas ran $4. Camp Carnival This is where Carnival SHINES. My kids absolutely loved the Camp program. Our boys were put together in the 6-8 yr old group and had a fantastic time. They couldn't wait to go everyday. They ate dinner with the Camp Counselors every night (this is a great feature). On the first formal night they had a cocktail party and had dinner then they took them to the show. The boys made several arts & crafts items they were able to take home. They were also given a Camp Carnival T-shirt and backpack. Our 11yr old enjoyed it also. She made several friends. She went to dinner with us adults. She also had an all night party- 10pm-8am (this cost $32 extra-but it was worth it!). The Counselors were excellent!!!! Ports Of Call-We basically went to beaches with the kids. Sightseeing would bore the heck out of them. Nassau We took a taxi to Paradise Island to a public beach. Nice beach but very rough swimming water. One tip-We heard many complaints from people who took the excursion to Blue Lagoon. Carnival's description of the tour said it was 5 1/2 hrs long. But the actual beach times is approx 2hrs. They charged a lot for this and people felt ripped off. Dominican Republic We took a taxi to Bayahibe Beach, beautiful..very tropical setting. Calm warm Swimming water. Very clean beach. The kids loved this beach. One word of warning: there were some topless sunbathers here. Our kids didn't notice. St. Thomas Everyone had to wake up early for US Customs. This is a new procedure when visiting this port. We all had to go to the main lounge to clear customs before they would let anyone off the ship. When we made it off the ship we were harassed by all the taxi drivers at the port. This really turned us off to the island. We did finally take one of the taxis to another beach. This time we went to Morning Star beach. Very nice-not crowded. The swimming water was not as calm as DR but not as rough as the Bahamas. Sea Days Hard to get deck chairs near the main pool. Much better luck getting chairs in the rear (AFT) pool area. Went to Afternoon tea twice- this is held in the America Piano bar area- not big enough to handle the crowd. Service here not great. Had to ask for tea and wait a long time for the snacks. We tried to go to the library to play Scrabble. Unfortunately they were out of Scrabble games (all checked out). The library has limited hours. The casino is very nice- calm crowd and no smoking!!! Entertainment Very nice production shows but hard to get a good seat. The Piano music was excellent. The Deck band was way too loud most of the time. You couldn't talk to one another without raising your voice. Staff Extremely friendly. The Purser's desk was probably the nicest people I have seen in this area. Debarkation Very smooth. Off the ship by 9:30am. No problem finding our luggage. We took the Carnival Transfer back to the Ft. Lauderdale airport. They only charged us for 3 passengers ($16ea) and let our sons travel for free. Overall Very nice family vacation. Considering what we paid ($1950 for our cabin of 5 + Insurance) this was a good value. Carnival could improve their food and service some. I would definitely take the kids again on Carnival. When my wife & I get to go alone we will still look to go on either Princess or Celebrity again. Our previous cruises: 1989 Chandris Victoria-Southern Carib. 1999 Celebrity Mercury-Western Carib. 2001 Princess Sea Princess- Mexican Riviera 2003 Princess Grand Princess-Western Carib. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Here is my review of our trip on the Jan 4th sailing of the Carnival Paradise. I traveled with a group of coworkers/friends that sailed on the S/S Norway together in January 2003. Pre-trip travel: We flew Southwest from Buffalo to Ft. ... Read More
Here is my review of our trip on the Jan 4th sailing of the Carnival Paradise. I traveled with a group of coworkers/friends that sailed on the S/S Norway together in January 2003. Pre-trip travel: We flew Southwest from Buffalo to Ft. Lauderdale. We had a quick stop in Baltimore, but did not need to change planes. The first half of the flight was full, and we could not sit together, even though we arrived quite early. The no assigned seats policy sucks if you have any more than two people traveling together. There are so many people who can preboard and then save seats for each other than we would need to arrive two hours early in order to sit as a group. Lucky for us, staying on the same plane allowed us to move around and sit together for the second leg. We rented a mini-van from Dollar, which was waaaaaay cheaper than taking cabs everywhere. Because we arrived around 8:30PM, there was no line to pick up the car and we only had to wait about 10-15 min for the shuttle, which wasn't bad at all. We stayed at the Holiday Inn - Plantation. It was a serviceable hotel, worth what we paid through Hotwire. They did not ask for a credit card because the rooms were prepaid, which was nice. I hate having to give my card when I know I won't make phone calls, order room service, or movies. We drove to the Miami airport to drop off the car and get their shuttle to the Port of Miami. We waited about 20 min here and were lucky to get on the shuttle. They were not running frequently and with the amount of luggage folks had, only three parties (6 people, 4 people, and 5 people) got on that shuttle. The ride was quick, and within a few minutes were approaching the terminal. Embarkation: It was about 11:30 when we arrived and the lines were non-existent. Once going through the lines and picking up our sail and sign cards, we waited a short while before boarding began. We were asked to not go to our rooms until 12:30, so we went directly to lunch. We were supposed to have a bottle of champagne and chocolate in our room as a thank you for a problem we had on our last cruise (never informed a shore excursion was cancelled and wasted a lot of time), but it was not there. I spoke with someone from the info desk, but the week came and went and we never saw anything. I will be writing to Carnival again about it. It was free, and I'm not trying to have my hand out, but if you promise a guest something, you should follow through. Cabins: DH and I had a 4A, the others had 1As. We all were quite happy with the size of the rooms. Being near a stairwell was quite nice. I preferred to go upstairs then travel the ship, rather than walk down an endless hallway of cabins. Our cabin steward never introduced herself to us. That's ok with me, as long as they do their job. On sea days we didn't get beach towels and others did, so I'm not sure if we were supposed to. Dining: I found the formal menus hit or miss. Some meals I was underwhelmed and not sure what to eat. Others, I would have liked to order many of the entrees. The mushroom and goat cheese pizza, French fries, and filet mignon were my favorites. Our wait team was Cupid from St Vincent and Mila from Russia. We enjoyed them immensely. They were warm, friendly, competent, and made us look forward to meal times. Cupid was a ham, so the dances were great fun to watch. I don't eat sushi, but those who did enjoyed it. Nassau: We went on Stuart Cove's half day snorkel ship. It was great. I was hoping the boat would not be full, since it was early January, but it was full. We had about 25 passengers, and two crew members. We had three snorkel stops - a shallow reef, a slightly deeper reef with a plane on the ocean floor, and a much deeper spot where they used chum to attract sharks. We didn't have time to shop after the excursion, which was fine with me. La Romana: We took a cab to Altos de Chevon (or, as I kept saying, Altos de Chevron) and then to La Romana to see the town. For our group of six, it was $8pp. Much better than the $79 the ship wanted for the same thing, but with a boat ride. I thought the town was beautiful, but probably wouldn't go again. It's so obviously created for tourism that it's not as quaint as I'd hoped. St Thomas: We took Godfrey's tour, which was wonderful. The sights were beautiful and those world famous banana daiquiris sure were strong, but they made the curves and hills to the beach seem like a ride. We spent our beach time at Coki beach, which was busy, but not overly packed. Activities: I was dismayed that many of the trivia events were either first thing in the morning or while in port. They were all held in open areas - the lido deck or US Bar (the promenade deck hallway). Why do sun bathers want to hear trivia and why do trivia people want to try and hear over the din of the deck? I suggested they move things inside. There was only one 30 min ballroom dance class, which was quite sad. I did enjoy the various parties as opportunities to drag hubby on the dance floor. My favorite activity was the open forum held by ship employees to answer questions about life on board. But most of the panel was white and American. I would have liked to hear from a waiter or a housekeeper. It just reminded me of the class structure on board. It was nice to know that the crew is dismayed that the Paradise will be made smoking. There were also similar activities held at the same time. For example, on the last day at sea, the galley tour started 15 min before the talk about life on board. As similar events - seeing backstage - wouldn't one think the same people would want to attend both? I went to the talk after the tour and the crowd only grew as people did what I did. Entertainment: Since the shows were the same as the last time I sailed Paradise (even some of the comics), we did not go to most of them. The adult comedy events were so well attended that the last one was moved to the Normandie show lounge from the smaller Queen Mary lounge. We sat on the balcony and there was a constant up and down shaking which made me feel ill and I had to leave. Roberta is the piano sing-a-long lady. She is so out of touch. She does not have a song list and gets angry when you suggest songs she does not know. When we were singing songs like I Will Survive and Summer Nights, the place was packed and everyone had a great time, but then she'll jump into I've Been Working on the Railroad and older songs I've never heard (and I love old standards) and clear out the place. She also doesn't play songs with the rhythm they were written, which makes it very tough to follow along. Unfortunately, the piano bar is one of the things we were excited about and it didn't quite live up to that. The ship: I didn't notice anything other than design choices that would let you know the ship was 6 years old. It's big enough to offer choices but small enough to navigate easily. It was tough to squeeze our party of 6 around a table at the Paris restaurant and I just don't care for booths when eating formal meals. Warning to parents: Make you keep a very close watch on your children. We saw a three year old almost pitch into the sea, before someone caught him, after climbing the railing. Mom was eating and her son wandered out of the Paris restaurant and she didn't know. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
We've just completed our third cruise on Carnival, we've been on the Imagination once, and this was our second trip on the Paradise. We chose the Paradise because it is the only non-smoking cruise ship in the U.S. (probably the ... Read More
We've just completed our third cruise on Carnival, we've been on the Imagination once, and this was our second trip on the Paradise. We chose the Paradise because it is the only non-smoking cruise ship in the U.S. (probably the world). Unfortunately, Carnival has announced that as of October 2004, the Paradise will shift to west coast and become a standard smoking-allowed ship. I haven't read any official word from Carnival on why they are discontinuing the non-smoking cruises, but the crew offered several opinions: * In the past they've had trouble getting enough non-smoking staff, although currently there is a staff waiting list to work on the Paradise. * The Paradise does not make as much money in extras (alcohol and casino) as it does on the smoking ships. Many smokers also drink and gamble, and this is a strong source of revenue on-board. Non-smoking guests are not as profitable and I guess Carnival would rather that the less profitable guests take their tightwad habits to the other cruise lines. Personally, I'd be happy paying a little more for my ticket so I can enjoy a non-smoking boat. I had forgotten how nice it was until I was on a shore trip in St. Thomas and other people on the beach next to me started smoking. Rumor has it that Carnival will start restricting smoking on all their vessels to specific areas. This may address the issue for us non-smokers. I remember the problems I had on the Imagination when I'd settle down on a deck lounger by the pool, and then 10 minutes a later a smoking family would settle down next to me (and always upwind of course!) If they create good non-smoking zones in each public area, then having an entire non-smoking ship may no longer be necessary. (But then from a business side you're just spreading around all the less-profitable guests with the more profitable guests, and the overall revenue will remain the same. It is just that you won't have one boat generating less profit than the others.) In previous cruises we've stayed on the Empress Deck and the Upper Deck. This time we tried the Riviera Deck. Not a good choice. We had selected it due to price and the thought that lower decks sway less than the decks above. However we had failed to realize that we would be just above the crew's working area. Some mornings the banging and booming woke us up before we were ready, especially on days were were in port. No more Riviera deck for us. There's five of us, two adults and three kids. Carnival is the only cruise line we've found that will accommodate five in one cabin. It is tight, but it works. On every trip we've had we've been impressed with the cabin stewards. They must be invisible. You rarely see them, yet you leave your cabin and come back an hour later and it is all cleaned up. I can see why the cruise director jokes that you're not allowed to take them home with you. My oldest kid is a teen. You know: sullen, resentful, doesn't want to do ANY organized activity, doesn't want to be seen with the parents or the younger siblings. On last year's cruise he was bored and more resentful than usual. The Teen activity offerings didn't appeal to him at all (Dad! that's lame!) This year was very different. They have a new Teen hang-out. He met many other sullen, resentful (uh, I mean future leaders of tomorrow) kids and had a very good time. His only complaint was that the teen club played only rap, and he doesn't like rap. (He is a jazz saxophonist and appreciates good music and feels rap music is only appropriately named if you add an initial "c" to the word.) My daughter's situation was the exact reverse. Last year she had the best time ever, having made many friends and enjoyed some of the Camp Carnival activities. This year she mainly moped that she wasn't old enough for the Teen club and that there was no one her age in Camp Carnival. (right, sure. over 2000 guests on the ship and she's the only 11-year old. I think she's heading for sullen and resentful ahead of schedule.) She did make one friend, and that mollified things a bit. My youngest is 9, and he also didn't find many enjoyable activities with Camp Carnival this year. He didn't really give it a fair try. My observation is that kids have fun when they can hook up with other similar kids. It is a crap shoot on every trip as to who the other guests will be. Sometimes the kids make a lot of friends and have a great time, and other times they don't. We cruised in late December. One thing we really appreciated was that they had 0a Menorah lighting ceremony on each night of Hanukah. In the previous years, they've always had a giant menorah in the atrium lounge, but this was the first year they had a public ceremony. On the first night, so many people turned out that the Atrium was packed, and people had to line the balconies to get a good view. After that night they moved the Menorah to a lounge that could accommodate all of us. This turned out to be a very positive event as it allowed us to make friends with other Jews on board. They even served latkes and applesauce. Okay, it wasn't the best latkes I've ever had but, hey they made an effort for us, and I gotta appreciate that. Which brings me to the topic of food. Overall the food is good, but not great. I don't know why people rave about how great cruise ship food is. When you're preparing 2000+ dishes, it can't be gourmet. Let's be realistic, it is mass-produced food. Now then, for mass-produced food, it is very good. They achieve this by offering only a few entrees every night. When you restrict the choices, you can get very good quality control on the taste and presentation. I like plain food. Give me a steak and a potato and I'm happy. Carnival likes to dress up every dish with colorful, uh, food-like somethings and sauces. I spent most of my time keeping my main food item away from the extras on the plate. My wife and oldest boy however, loved the extras and usually did me a favor by taking them off my plate. My youngest two always ordered an adult entree and tried it, but usually had to resort to one of the kiddie-menu items. For people who like fancy-sounding foods and exotic flavors, you'll like the main dinners. Plain food people like me can usually find at least one entree, but I've learned to ask the waiter what else is on the plate and then specify which items I want and which ones I don't want. The waiters and busboys almost always hail from outside the U.S. They are unfailingly polite and eager to please. Talking with them is a great way to expand your knowledge of the world and its people. Andrei from Moldovia was our busboy on this trip and judging from his energy and enthusiasm I know that he's going to be famous one of these days. A few shows changed a bit from the previous years. I understand that every show is so costly to create and produce that they run them for five years each. So, on a seven-day cruise, only a few shows will be new each year. For shore tours, we went for all beaches this time. Bad move. By the end of our second beach day we were all so sun burned that couldn't enjoy the third beach. Here's a capsule review: Bahamas: We did the Blue Lagoon trip. Beautiful. Lovely. I want to go back. Last year we did the "Swim with the Stingrays" trip there and had a great time. This time we skipped the stingrays and just relaxed on the hammocks and did some swimming. Dominican Republic: We did the Catalina Island beach trip. The trip was nice and the beach was great. Just two minor complaints. The guys running the boat did not speak English. They had to press a passenger into service as a translator to give us the rules of the boat and when to tell us when we had to be ready for the return trip. Second complaint: the island has a small "business district". If you wander over there you will be given a free necklace and then hit with the hard sell for every trinket in eyesight. If you like trinkets and haggling, you're gonna love it. I don't and I didn't. St. Thomas: We went to Magen's Bay, which purportedly is one of the top 10 beaches in the world. It was ok, but I thought Coki beach (which we did last year) was better. Both beaches get very crowded as tours from every cruise ship in harbor show up there. One warning: our Safari bus driver was a maniac. Over half the passengers on our trip got off early and took taxis back to the ship rather than continue to risk their lives with "Berserker Bernie". He's easy to recognize if you want to avoid him: he's an older white guy with a balding pate and glasses so thick that they make you think of Mr. Magoo. Also, you'll notice that all the other bus drivers constantly yell at him. With the Paradise on the west coast next year, we'll probably try a different cruise line for our winter trip. We're gonna miss it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
We drove to the port of Miami and found the parking garage where to park our vehicle. It cost about $84 for us to park our vehicle for one week. Once we arrived, we got our bags together and walked to the terminal which was located about ... Read More
We drove to the port of Miami and found the parking garage where to park our vehicle. It cost about $84 for us to park our vehicle for one week. Once we arrived, we got our bags together and walked to the terminal which was located about 1/4 of a mile away. We have luggage with wheels and it makes it easy to walk any distance needed. Once we arrived at the front of the terminal, we dropped our bags off with cruise line representatives and proceeded inside the terminal for processing of paperwork and boarding. The M/S Paradise was set to sail at 4PM but we arrived a little after lunch so we could get settled early. We had registered on-line and had our paperwork in hand, yet it still took about one hour for us to get through all the lines and board the vessel. One comment about the terminal was the presence of escalators that were not in operation. Thus, travel lightly or be expected to lug your bags up stairs -- not too nice a thing to do! Once we arrived on the ship, we used the ship's layout map to find our deck and room. We had booked an inside cabin and were pleasantly surprised to find that we were upgraded to an ocean view cabin -- not bad! Once we had found our cabin, we dropped off our carry-on bags and went exploring. We walked from one end of the ship to the other and finally settled in the Lido Deck's open area near the Paris Cafe where we got a hamburger, French fries, and soft drink for lunch. During this time the waiters and waitresses were walking around offering complimentary champagne to all guests and there was live music being played by a Caribbean band. Since we don't drink, I was beginning to get annoyed at all the requests for me to consume champagne or other alcoholic beverage. However, I brushed it off and went about exploring the ship. Before the ship set sail we were told to get out life jackets (traditional bulky orange type) and meet by our designated lifeboat. With all the scrambling and confusion this exercise took about one hour. The ship finally set sail around 5PM and we were on the rear deck watching as we left Miami harbor. As the light of day became less and less and Miami was beginning to recede in the distance, we walked to our cabin to drop off our life jackets and decide what to do for the evening. Since we didn't feel like dressing up for anything formal, we decided to eat dinner in the Paris Cafe near the rear of the ship. This is a restaurant where you can serve yourself (like a buffet) and the staff picks up your plates, cups, etc. when you are done. After dinner, we continued to explore the ship and engaged in some time-passing activities (i.e., played ping pong). The wind was pretty strong (about 30 knots) and the ship was rocking quite a bit. I noticed from time to time that several passengers were craning over the edge feeding the fish. Thus, if you might be subject to motion sickness, please take something or wear a patch behind your ear with motion sickness medicine. Anyway, we decided to turn in relatively early so that we would be fresh for the next day -- a port stop at Nassau, Bahamas. My wife found the cabins to be a bit small and was a little claustrophobic -- be warned! The night at sea was uneventful, just a little bit rocky (I'm surprised that a ship this size moves so much). We arrived in Nassau in the morning, got ready, ate breakfast in the Paris Cafe, and went ashore. Make sure you carry all your documentation with you -- you will probably be checked. We decided to get our passports and it came in very handy. Once in Nassau, we walked around the town, took a ride on a horse drawn buggy, and shopped in the straw market. We had an enjoyable time in Nassau and don't recommend any tours provided by the cruise line (you dock in the middle of town and everything is nearby for you to walk to). While shopping in the straw market, feel free to haggle price -- never pay what they initially ask for the item. Also, there are plenty of people who will want to braid you hair (be careful -- each braid will cost quite a bit). After exploring Nassau for a good portion of the day, we decided to return to the ship, store our purchased souvenirs, and get ready for the ship to sail. On our way back to the ship we were asked by Bahamian immigration personnel for our passports and then were allowed to proceed to the dock. At the gangplank we were asked for our sail and sign cards to be allowed back on the ship. Again we decided to eat in the Paris Restaurant and watched the ship leave Nassau for the Dominican Republic. The next day we spent at sea and it was uneventful. We arrived in the Dominican Republic in the morning and I looked out our cabin window to be surprised by an old working port -- nothing fancy! After breakfast, we went up on deck and checked out our new location and noted that it was very underdeveloped. We were the only cruise ship docked in port and there were no easily accessible areas (i.e., on foot like in Nassau). In fact, people who got off the ship to go to the nearby town of La Romana were taken by locals on the back of their mopeds from the dock area to the main road. Other than the tours offered by the cruise line, there didn't seem to be anything going on in this port. I was disappointed with the port and its lack of amenities. In my opinion, stopping at La Romana, Dominican Republic was a total waste of time. My family and I decided to stay on the ship, watch what was going on, listen to the stories of those who spent a load of money to go on cruise line sponsored tours (not worth it), and just relax. The next night we spent at sea and arrived in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in the morning. After breakfast we got off the ship and met with our tour guide -- Godfrey Renal. We had booked the tour on-line with him as a result of many recommendations from other individuals who had been to St. Thomas. Godfrey was superb and his tour was great!! We were picked up at the dock and taken to the downtown shopping area for several hours of shopping. At the designated time and location, we met Godfrey and he took us on a tour of the beautiful Island of St. Thomas. We went from one end to the other and from the base to the top of the mountain. As we were traveling about, Godfrey narrated and told us what we saw, stopped for photographs, etc. At the end of the island tour we were asked if we wanted to go swimming and, if so, he gave us an option of several beaches. We chose Coki Beach by Coral World but didn't stay because it was very crowded. We decided to return to the ship and were taken there by Godfrey. Those who decided to swim were later picked up by Godfrey and returned to the ship in plenty of time for sailing. The tour we took with Godfrey was practically all day (10AM to about 4PM) and it only cost $20 per person -- a great deal! Further, if anyone who is reading this review is going to St. Thomas, book with Godfrey -- you will not be disappointed!! To get the same thing from the cruise line you'll end up paying twice as much or more! The next two days were at sea and we watched shows, stayed busy, and waited to reach Miami. Two days and three nights at sea are just a little too much for me! I wish that the ship had made at least one more stop at another port, a place where we could get out and about and enjoy ourselves -- no such luck!! ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN: We traveled with my 10 year old son and found that activities for him were lacking. I saw plenty of stuff for the little tikes and the older teenagers, but very little for the kids in my son's age group. I was disappointed with this scenario and feel that this is a big problem that should be corrected by Carnival! FOOD: I was not impressed with the quality of food that was served on the ship. The food served in the Paris Restaurant where we ate most of our meals was average. We were led to believe that there would be grand feasts and this was not the case. You can dine better in most typical restaurants in the United States (i.e., Golden Corral, Ryan's, Western Sizzlin, etc.). For example, we were informed in the Carnival Capers (local activities publication) that one evening we were going to have a Mexican buffet at midnight. Well, we decided to eat light and save our appetite for the Mexican cuisine. We were expecting tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc. but to our surprise we found none of the above. We found a buffet with about a half dozen items and none of them looked Mexican in origin or preparation technique. We were very disappointed by this! On another occasion, we decided to eat in the formal dining room and dressed accordingly (male: suit and tie; female: evening gown). Well, to our surprise they allowed guests wearing shorts to eat in the dining room. Further, after we ordered our food (i.e., appetizer, main course, and dessert); it took a very long time to be served each component of our meal -- almost two hours from start to finish. Further, our dining partners never showed up for a meal at the formal dining restaurant. As a final note about the food, I was pretty disappointed!!! PORTS OF CALL: Nassau and St. Thomas were enjoyable experiences. However, La Romana, Dominican Republic should be eliminated from their itinerary. There is nothing to walk to nearby where the ship docks (unless you want to ride in the back of a local's moped and risk your safety). The only game in town is a series of shore tours offered by the cruise line -- designed to overcharge you and not give you a good value for what you've paid (see other comments by fellow cruisers on this topic and La Romana). IRRITANTS: Neither I nor my wife drink alcoholic beverages and it is an irritant for you to be asked to buy an alcoholic beverage 40 or 50 times each and every day. Further, if you do drink, be aware of the prices for your drinks -- significantly higher that you would pay stateside! In addition, it seems that any little thing you may want beyond normal food and beverages costs something extra. For example, if you want a chocolate chip cookie or a milk shake from the La France serving area, you have to pay for it. If you want to drink a soda pop, you have to pay for it ($2.50 for a plastic 20 oz bottle). If you want to play bingo, you have to pay extra money to do so...and on, and on, and on. This was rampant throughout the ship and I was extremely irritated and disappointed!! Come on people, we've already paid a hefty sum to be on the ship, the least you could do is provide free of charge soda pop, chocolate chip cookies, milk shakes, and other little things! POSITIVES: I enjoyed the "smoke free" atmosphere on the ship and some of the shows. It is really nice to be able to walk about and not have to smell stale smoke which embeds itself into everything. Unfortunately, in one session of the "meet/get to know your crew" we were told that Carnival was going to discontinue the smoke free ship because it did not make as much profit as the smoking vessels. This is terrible!! Carnival needs to look beyond the just the bottom line. Yes, the ship is profitable, but smoking ships are more profitable. Where did customer satisfaction go? Where is the concept of give the customer what he/she wants? I'm saddened by this turn of events!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
My wife and two children (ages 3 and 6) just returned from the 12/28/03 New Year's sailing and we had the best cruise ever. We traveled with my wife's sister's family of four and with my in-laws. This was our 5th cruise - ... Read More
My wife and two children (ages 3 and 6) just returned from the 12/28/03 New Year's sailing and we had the best cruise ever. We traveled with my wife's sister's family of four and with my in-laws. This was our 5th cruise - 1st time with children (second on Carnival, 2 w/Princess, and 1 w/NCL) and all of us were extremely satisfied with our Paradise cruise experience. We checked into the Sheraton Biscayne Bay at around 4:30 p.m. (free booking with Starwood credit card points). Had a fun dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company located at the Bay Market - a must if you have never eaten at Bubbas. Unfortunately, Carnival never showed up to perform the pre-check in at 9:00 a.m. in our hotel lobby. So we had breakfast in the Sheraton then we took a cab ($12) to the port at 10:30 a.m. - we were physically on the ship at 12:25 p.m. We didn't have to wait in line for anything! Carnival started letting the first group of passengers on board the ship around noon. Many times during our 100% occupied cruise, I found myself saying, "where is everybody?" The ship was so big that there was plenty of room for all passengers to enjoy their vacation without seeing large groups of people. We found the staff and crew to be very friendly and most of them greeted you and smiled as you pass them in the corridors. Rommel and his assistant (table #261) treated us like royalty every day in the dining room. The food was just as good or even better than on any ship that we sailed on. Carnival didn't even charge extra for cappuccino or double expresso at dinner. Buffet food really didn't impress us, however the following delicious alternative dining options did: 24/7 unlimited frozen yogurt/ice cream machines and 24/7 pizzeria. As a native New Yorker, I have been exposed to B'way shows. I thought the shows on the Carnival Triumph (January 2001) were much better than the ones we experienced on the Paradise. However, my children and nephews really enjoyed them and the magic shows and comedians were very entertaining for all. Our room steward was very visible and always knew exactly when to tidy up our cabin, which he did several times a day. Everything was done to perfection, including creative towel animal creations with our personal items (sunglasses, swim goggles, hats, etc.). We booked a Category 6A guarantee and did not receive any upgrades, but had a great ocean view room (M225) with one upper and three lower beds. We thought the room was very spacious for a family of four and the bathroom/shower was equally sufficient as well. As for the rest of the ship, it was always glittering and sparkling clean. The dEcor was much more traditional than compared to the "Las-Vegas" dEcor of the Carnival Triumph, which is loaded up with neon lights everywhere. The only neon lights we found on the Paradise were in the Rex Disco. We did all the island excursions on our own, as this was our third return to the Western itinerary. We were not too impressed with Belize or Isla Roatan, but enjoyed the ship's beautiful amenities instead. In Grand Cayman we took a cab to the "new and improved" Turtle Farm, had lunch at the neighboring Conch Restaurant, sampled free rum cake at the neighboring Tortuga Rum Store, then took a swim along 7-mile beach at a friend's condo. In Cozumel, our ship was fortunate to dock at the "newly constructed" pier in town, right where all of the shopping and partying is located. We were permitted to get off the ship around 12:30 p.m. We brought our swim and snorkel gear and took a cab to Chucknaab National Park for about 4 hours - if you love to snorkel in waters filled with beautiful fish & coral and lay on the beach, this is the place to go. The cab was only $10 each way for four persons and the park admission was only $10 per adult (children under 6 are free). Being non-smokers, we found the smoke free environment absolutely marvelous. The water slide was incredible and was open from 10am-5pm. As usual, not enough of lounge chairs at pool areas. No Problem Mon - just got up at 7:00 a.m. to reserve lounge chairs like all the other cruise ships that we were on. Camp Carnival was professionally run and the free beepers provided worked out great. Additionally, Paradise is the only ship in the world that is currently totally smoke free. However, I did confirm with the cruise director that Paradise will only operate as a smoke free ship through September 20, 2004 - they claim that the Paradise operates in the red by over $5,000,000. I was also informed that the majority of the U.S. and European population does smoke and that the majorities of smokers drink more and gamble more than non-smokers. Thus, smokers are bound to spend more money while on board. I find this very disturbing and would encourage you to contact Carnival, and let Mr. Dickinson, Carnival's President, know that you disapprove of this. I would think that Carnival executives would look to charge a little more for their non-smoking passengers - maybe then they would eventually show a profit. I know that I, along with thousand of you non-smokers out there would pay more for a non-smoking ship. Overall -- we highly recommend the Carnival Paradise- especially to you wonderful non-smokers out there. And at those prices, you can't beat the value that you get compared to other cruise lines. Way to go Carnival! Keep up the good work! Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
A Change In Paradise! My wife Carol and I wanted a warm getaway from the dank drizzle and gray overcast of winter in the Ohio Valley. It was Christmas time, and e-mail blitzes were bombarding us with sail/sale values on cruises, so we ... Read More
A Change In Paradise! My wife Carol and I wanted a warm getaway from the dank drizzle and gray overcast of winter in the Ohio Valley. It was Christmas time, and e-mail blitzes were bombarding us with sail/sale values on cruises, so we were off to paradise — on Paradise. We could not wait to escape the weather for a glimpse of the glistening turquoise waters that encapsulate the Caribbean islands. Carnival Cruise Line's Paradise would be our ship, and this would be our second time on the huge well-appointed luxury vessel. Paradise touted a unique cruise-industry specialty, but there is news afloat on that sea, so let's get into a review, opinion, and overview of this Christmas Paradise cruise: Inaugural Voyage: It was November 25th 1998 — passengers were welcomed on Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, the 'Paradise'. This was the maiden voyage for the 70,000 ton ship which boasted the 12,000 square foot Nautica Spa with its luxury atmosphere in the locker and steam room area. This was a special day — as would be December 12th 2003 — read on. Here is an example of common headlines in the Cruise Industry of 1998: — "AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY PRAISES CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES' LAUNCH OF WORLD'S FIRST SMOKE-FREE CRUISE SHIP" On November 19, 1998 The American Cancer Society Celebrates Great American Smokeout' with 'A Day on Paradise' CBS News anchor Paula Zahn Christens Paradise at Society's Black-Tie Gala ... a new era was beginning, read the news and press releases. On December 12th 2003, I was interviewing the Paradise Hotel manager, Mr. Keith Bunton, when a wire service announcement came across his computer. He shared the world-wide announcement with me. "Carnival's Paradise will be redeployed to the West Coast as a smoking ship", said Bunton. Bob Dickinson, Carnival President worded the explanation quietly and briefly. "The Sept. 20th, 2004 cruise of the Paradise will be the last cruise the Paradise will offer as a non-smoking vessel." One has to wonder what went wrong with this seemingly savvy and right policy for only one of its 21 ship (and growing) fleet — a one of a kind ship in the world. Carnival is the largest and dominate cruise line corporation in the world, and the Paradise no-smoking icon seemed to be right on course strategically. Somber Mood: The dumped policy had been in place for six years — any person who smoked on-board Paradise was disembarked at the closest port, and fined. This was adhered to, and was also the policy for the crew. On Dec. 12th, when this non-smoking crew found out the news, they felt as though a family tie had been broken ... this news quickly spread among the over 2000 clients on-board. How did this happen? How did the world's only one hundred percent smoke-free ship policy falter? Some industry insiders speculate that non-smokers (78 percent of Americans) just do not spend adequately on gambling and alcohol to make this unique non-smoking cruise atmosphere viable. As an enthusiast and supporter of this single world-wide ship policy, I was taken quite off-guard — because, I was interviewing Mr. Bunton and asking how the smoking policy was going after six years afloat. He stopped starkly and said "I am not being rude ... listen to this," and he read the notice to me from his computer. It was a bubble-burst to the mood in his office. Ship: Paradise was the last in the Carnival Fantasy Class ship, which was most successful to that point in Carnival history. The Paradise, features a luxurious interior decor and a fine art collection in the style that is legendary of historic ocean liners. She seemed to add an exclamation point to the success of the Fantasy-class series having re-created the romance and entertainment of a classic sea-voyage ambiance but in a contemporary atmosphere. Paradise was built at Finland's Kvaerner Masa-Ship-Yards. Careful attention was given to hire and use only non-smoking workers on the pride-filled project. Paradise was to give an alternative to those who wanted to venture into casinos and piano bars aboard ships without taking in unwanted smoke. Her crew was especially hand-picked and became like a family of ardent non-smoking people from 34 countries with a goal: Keep Paradise pure and clear of air! On December 12th 2003 ... that mission went, well — up in smoke. Preference: Thus far in this review — I sound perhaps lamenting? The soon to be abandoned policy for Paradise is in fact a loss to those of us that saw a ray of sunlight in a concept for the 78 percent of us who do not smoke, but in reality Paradise is 1/28 of the ships we have sailed, and they all offer checks and balances to keep the clean-air-peace among clients. For example; there is no smoking in show lounges on most ships, no smoking in dining areas on most ... and common areas about the ships of today are well ventilated. It is usually not a huge issue. Additionally, smokers today seem (at least 75 percent I estimate) more courteous than smokers even five years ago. I have found though that on mixed smoking vessels that I do avoid casinos, and piano bars, which is a shame because we love a soda, low light, and the peaceful ambiance of jazz. But, I am willing to give these two activities a bypass in return for the tremendous value and variety of things to do on today's cruise ships — from small boutique cruise lines, river lines, to the mega-monsters that prowl the seas — cruising is an unmistakably perfect 'all-in-one-vacation'. Cruisers unpack just once and enjoy a variety of places along the way, along with fine food and entertainment. Itinerary Selection: Paradise alternates routes out of Miami until its Sept. end to the no-smoking policy and redeployment in California. We chose the eastern Caribbean route since we have done a western route five times. The Paradise eastern route gives you three full days of glorious sun and sea time ... and three port stops; St. Thomas, Nassau Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. We enjoyed our route selection, and we chose to do non-scheduled activities on all three stops using local cabs and splitting fares with new friends. In St. Thomas it is a per-person ride fare to various points — like our favorite, Sapphire beach — lovely water, and views of St. John's and the British Virgin Islands! Overview: I feel Carnival should have kept the Paradise as its shinning one example of smoke-free venue, or plan to designate another ship to replace her in that concept. This would be a glowing banner for the cruise line and supporters that touted her inaugural gala along with world health organizations — my opinion — the concept should be kept alive! As for a ship review? Paradise is a very youthful, sleek and well-maintained six year old in a growing industry that goes one-up on everything every day. Paradise is still futuristic enough to keep clients satisfied with her charm and overall amenities. Cabins are well appointed with ample space. In fact luckily we were placed in a forward cabin, outside, and our room steward told us "You will have no children in the front area of the ship ... the cabins are slightly smaller and there are no three or four person cabins". This is a tip I had not thought of in the past ... forward is a good thing if you do not want to share other's children! The food, and entertainment were quite nice, and the design of Paradise is one that works well for 2000 plus patrons. You can find a quiet place to relax, or join in activities all about the huge, but personally attended vessel. This was a sure-fire-four-star ship decked out festively for Christmas. I suggest: — always fly into your embarkation city the day before your cruise. Our December cruise had bad weather in the Midwest and East coast. You may imagine that this is irrelevant to your plans — but it is not. Your plane is likely arriving from one of those city areas, so you will be late and things get bogged down. With a city like Miami ... why wouldn't you want to savor her magnificence for at least one day and evening? Ask your travel agent about on-going specials for your cruise vacationing. Happy sailing! WHEN YOU SAIL: Miami Visitors Center www.gmcvb.com (888) 76-Miami Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
Carnival Paradise Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.9
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.3
Service 4.5 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.2

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