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Found 88 results

  1. Good morning, boarding the paradise today , group of 8 , 4 cabins .. no one has FTTF, one cabin is platinum. its been torrential rain here in the Tampa Bay Area .. we plan on being /meeting at the port 1130 am. since there is no disembark today ( not sure how long she has been at the dock) , When we board is it likely the rooms will be made up? Most of my pervious trips the stewards were in the midst of turning the rooms around. thinking of just bringing luggage on ourselves vs leaving it with porters and getting soaked ? Hate to be lugging it around though ! ‘Thoughts please or if anyone has had similar experiences? Thank you
  2. What are the current prices to buy photos onboard please? I see the 5 photo package is available to buy online, just wondering if this is cheaper or more expensive than onboard? Does anyone have a recent copy of of The fun Times for Paradise please? Or any menus? Is room service free or a charge? Thank you for any input 🙂
  3. I just read a recent review on the Paradise and it has several inaccurate statements. " Be careful in the casino since they double the amount of cash you insert in machine if you answer yes to charge to my card. Just beware." We have sailed on the Paradise 7 times and 35 times on Carnival and have never had this happen. Have always received whatever amount we entered in the transaction, when either taking money from what I have saved to my card bank or when charging to our cabin. There is a minimum of $10 I have to take out to put onto the slot machine from the banked amount saved on my card. Reviewer must have pressed a wrong button during the transactions. "You have to pay for Room Service." That is partially true but the reviewer makes it sound like all Room Service comes with a charge. There are many items that are still free, but there are some items for which there are charges.
  4. We are a group of 3 ladies looking to book a 5 day cruise on the Paradise. The questions we have are: 1) Is there an outside shower near the Serenity deck? I know there is only 1 pool but it would be nice to have a cool shower occasionally. 2) What has been your experience with debarkation, how long, how early, etc? We are looking to self debark as soon as possible. 3) Any tips or tricks you'd like to share? Thank you guys in advance for any help you could possible give!!! Have a great rest of the week!! 😃
  5. We are sailing on the Aug. 22nd Paradise with a casino promo and had an Ocean View port side on the Empress Deck 7 by the forward elevators. Received an upsell call today and we got one of the new Junior Suites port side on Deck 14 for only $300 total, also near the forward elevators. This will be our 50th cruise and 36th on Carnival. The upsell didn't affect our $500 in on board credit, I made sure we didn't lose that. We had already received an upsell a few months ago for only $44 total to go from an Ocean View on the Riviera Deck to an Ocean View on the Empress Deck. I don't expect another call 🙂
  6. Sailing on the Paradise 4 nt cruise 10/17/2019. Questions for any recent cruisers on this ship. I know they have drink specials at the Casino bar on embarkation day....are they available any other days? Does the Paradise have the Red Frog Pub? & if so do they offer the Fish bowl drink & if they do, what is the cost? Can you order a pitcher of Margaritas? & if so where & when?
  7. So after a little over a year out from our last Carnival adventure (and 2 intervening Norwegian sailings) we returned to Carnival aboard the Paradise, and we brought two other families with us. They each have 2 kids, 1 boy and 1 girl, who are exactly the same ages as our 2 kids, so that worked out really well. Neither family has ever cruised before, but both are ready to plan their next adventure after this 5 day cruise! We drove to Tampa (about 10 hours) the day before the cruise stayed at the Hampton Inn in Ybor City. Very colorful area of Tampa. We all went to an arcade-and-bar restaurant within a short walk of the hotel. The food was ok (as we expected), and the kids all enjoyed the video games, which was good because a monsoon started shortly after we arrived. It was short-lived, though, and was completely over by the time we left to go back to the hotel. We called it a night pretty early, around 10:30, since we had to get up and get the fun started the next day. We had the stay-and-cruise package at the Hampton, so we were allowed to leave our car in the covered parking area of the hotel and use the shuttle to the port. Not a bad deal at all. I had spoken with the front desk on Friday, and they told me the shuttle was on a first-come, first-served basis; they started taking reservations at 7:30am. I could either call the front desk or walk down. So, I set my alarm for 7:25, woke up, went to the restroom, and then called the front desk. I was told that they didn't start taking taking reservations until 7:30, and, since it was only 7:27, I would have to call back. So, I watched the clock very carefully on my iPhone, and at exactly 7:30, I called back. With that call, they were happy to add my name to the list for the 9:30 shuttle. We ate the Hampton Inn breakfast -- standard fare: bagels, toast, scrambled eggs, yogurt, waffles, coffee, juice -- and then we were actually on the shuttle bus (just the four of us, the other 2 families had decided to park at the port) before 9:30 and at the port at 9:35. The Tampa port is so easy for embarkation. This was our second time leaving from Tampa, and it went so smoothly again. We were a bit early, but since my wife is Platinum, we could arrive at any time. One of the other families had purchased Faster to the Fun, and the other booked a suite, so we all had Priority stamped on our boarding documents. Check-in takes less than 5 minutes, and we didn't wait very long at all in the "Captain's Lounge" (really just a different set of chairs from the rest of the waiting area). Before long, we were walking on board -- well before 11am. We quickly found our room, which was ready, and dropped our bags. The kids changed to their swimsuits. The FTTF family did the same. The suite family -- well, their room wasn't ready (naturally) so they dropped their bags in our room. We went up to Lido and found a couple of tables in the shade. The kids ran off to the water slides and the adults all enjoyed a frosty beverage. It was about 11:10am. Cheers to the Tampa Port for mastering the art of smoothly embarking passengers! We all sampled Guy's Burgers (excellent) and the chicken and pork tacos (also excellent) available on Lido. We never did actually venture into the buffet area, though. We all hung out on Lido eating and drinking, ok, mostly drinking, until muster drill. All 3 families had different muster stations, so we agreed we'd just meet back at the same table afterwards. On the Paradise, the muster drill is old-fashioned. They lead you to believe you just meet in a lounge, but oh no, after you get in there, they march you out to the deck to show you were you'd have a front-row seat for all the drama that would ensue in the event of catastrophe at sea. It wasn't really so bad. So we all met back at the same table -- surprise! -- we actually got the same table on Lido. Then, before even going under the Skyway Bridge, there were announcements for the crew and we start hearing rumors of smoke on Deck 6 (where our rooms were!). The captain even came on to say there was nothing to be concerned about and we didn't need to all rush to our muster stations again. Apparently, though, there was indeed a fire of some sort on the starboard side of Upper Deck. FTTF family reported they actually saw smoke in their hallway. We and Suite family were on port side, but we could all smell it. Carnival fumigated the deck pretty well, though, and there was no smell in our stateroom (or really anywhere after embarkation day). We never actually found out what it was that caused all the commotion. We had late dinner (8:15). We had tables just as requested -- two 6-tops next to each other. The kids took one and the adults another. Fortunately, they are all old enough to order for themselves, even if they seemed to order the same thing every night. Chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, spaghetti. But they behaved themselves and kept themselves entertained. A word about dinners -- I was not at all impressed with the entree selections on any night. Even on "elegant night" there was nothing that looked particularly interesting. I always found something to eat, and everything tasted fine, but there was no escargot. No beef wellington. No surf-n-turf (without a $20 upcharge). No Baked Alaska. No Grand Marnier souffle. C'mon, Carnival, where are the "old" menus with all the good stuff? However, if you like the melting chocolate cake, it is available every night. Our waitstaff was pretty good, though they seemed a bit overworked. It showed with slow drink service, and the appetizers came out randomly. The only course in which everyone at the table got a dish at the same time was dessert. The kids went to kid camp after dinner and the adults went to the comedy club (Queen Mary Lounge). The comic was ok, but he just didn't have much to work with in the audience. Not the funniest guy ever, or even on Carnival, but we all got a few chuckles. Outside the Queen Mary is the Rotterdam bar. We went there afterward. My wife ordered an IPA for some reason, tasted it, didn't like it, and slid it down to one of our friends. The bartender almost went berzerk: "Choo can NOT zair yoor dink pockage!" You would have thought he was personally invested in how the Cheers! package worked. My wife was aghast, so she snatched the beer back, the bartender got no tip, and we all walked to the nearby casino bar. A word here: we've been purchasing the Cheers! package since it was introduced. We know how it works. We know about not sharing. But buying a drink, not liking it, and giving it away? Bit of a stretch there. My drink was fine.
  8. can anybody tell me what cabins are the new ones recently added during the last major refurb ty so much
  9. I wanted to do a quick review of our 5 night July 6th cruise on the Paradise traveling from Tampa to Grand Cayman & Cozumel. First, for whatever reason, we haven’t cruised with Carnival since 2014 but prior to this cruise, had cruised with Carnival seven times. Most recently we cruised RCCL & NCL mostly for the itineraries fitting in with our scheduled vacations. My first impression is woah, way to go Carnival! We really liked the improvements that Carnival made to their food options since we last cruised! I really enjoyed the Blue Iguana Cantina (shrimp, Steak & Chicken tacos- delicious! And all the different salsas were amazing). Next, Guys Burgers- One word-Yum! Reminded me of a Five Guy Burger and the fries were great as well. We dined in the MDR every night and between the two of us, typically ordered 3-4 appetizers (usually a soup & the port option) and 3 entrees to share. We always ordered the featured port entree and found these options fantastic. One dessert stood out in particular although I cannot recall the “official” name but it was buttered Carmel popcorn something or another- it was great! We can honestly say that except one dish (it was a fish dish) everything we tried was fantastic. We both agreed that the food on the Carnival Paradise was excellent. On two nights we dined early (we had the my time dining option ) in order to catch the Show and then ventured up to the buffet after the Show to peek around. I will say that we were pretty glad we did the MDR option as the buffet wasn’t that impressive. I want to note that there was a fried shrimp option on the buffet two separate times and me being a shrimp fan thought this was a huge bonus. We both agreed that the desserts have greatly improved since the last time we cruised with Carnival. My husband did try the Deli one night (pretty late) & was quite impressed with the Cuban sandwich. Overall i’d rate Carnival Paradise lunch/dinner food an A+! Brunch is, as others have posted, extremely slow. It felt as if they were extremely understaffed at the Brunch and breakfast in the MDR. the steak filet & eggs at Brunch was very good! Twice we ate in the MDR for breakfast and both times we never got refills on our coffee and I cannot really blame the wait staff- they were truly understaffed. Breakfast at the buffet was overall pretty good. Omelets were great but the Omelet line was always long. We noticed that Carnival now serves its Bacon and Ham rather than self serve at the buffet. Initially I thought this was odd but overall that wasn’t an issue because they’d give you as much as you wanted. One negative is that every day it was very difficult to find a place to sit in the Paris Dining Room for breakfast (and our times varies from 7:30 am to 10 am.) A lot of people seemed to linger in the Paris Dining Room (reading, playing games, kids hanging out) and this made finding open seating very difficult. Now this could’ve been because we cruised in July and it was particularly hit and humid every day so inside tables were at a premium. My only suggestion would be to add some fruit toppings / whip cream for the waffles. The scrambled eggs were NOT good (they tasted like hotel egg product eggs) I learned this on day one and then just had the omelet station either make me some fried eggs or an omelet. I’d give breakfast a B+ Now for the Ship! The Paradise was in excellent condition and very very clean! We never had problems finding pool chairs in the serenity area or on the upper decks. We found that the water fountain mushroom tree thing in the water slide area was a nice place to cool off in lieu of the pool (which was always crowded with lots of kids). Our room was in excellent condition every day and our steward was wonderful. The bedding was fine and comfortable. Pool towels might need to be replaced soon- some were quite worn. Overall I’d rate the condition/appearance of the Ship and it’s amenities with an A. We attended three shows: A Cuba themed show, an 80’s tribute show and a classic rock show. Very good Shows and a few of the entertainers had amazing voices- we both thought wow theses girls are good! And a shout out to the Paris Band that played near the Casino wow they were good and every night there was a good sized crowd enjoying the music. Overall I’d rate the entertainment a solid A. For both ports we had no issues disembarking & had wonderful times visiting the beaches (we took a taxi both times and had no issues at all). I have two “negatives” (1) Carnival seems to employ less staff than before in the dining areas (both MDR and Buffet); and (2) there was an occasional sewer smell that would permeate multiple areas of the ship (usually room hall ways). I’m not sure what that was about because like I said the ship was very very clean and nothing looked worn or in bad condition. Tip- if you like to buy duty free liquor, it’s much cheaper to purchase in Cozumel Cruise port stores rather than on the ship. We found this out too late as we ordered 4 bottles of liquor on a day two of our cruise when they had the 10% off sale. We still managed to purchase two bottles in Cozumel because it was very very cheap. (And no we are not big drinkers LMAO- this will last us a couple years!) After this most recent cruise, Carnival is high on our list to cruise with for our next cruise. We are very happy with the direction the cruise line seems to be going.
  10. Granddaughter forgot a couple things (just clothes) in our cabin U97 on the Paradise 7/11 cruise. Any way to get them back?
  11. Anyone just take a revised-itinerary (non-Cuba) Paradise cruise? What night is "elegant" night? Are there any theme parties? Any sightings of lobster and/or escargot?
  12. We will be sailing on the Paradise next week (July 20). We have 12 people -- 6 adults and 6 kids (ages 8-10) and late dining. I don't think any Carnival ship has a table for 12, but, if they do, that would be our first choice. Otherwise, how could we go about getting two 6 tops next to each other? And should we contact John Heald or the maitre d'?
  13. We haven’t sailed Carnival in a few years and are wondering if they still have a Lobster night. My husband doesn’t really want to bring any dress clothes i.e. attend the formal dinner, unless Lobster is on the menu. Any insights? any other tips about the Paradise ship? Thanks!!!
  14. Does anyone have a recent menu from the Carnival Paradise for the Chef's table. We are going in October 2019 and waiting to know what is in store. Also, any idea what night it is on for a 5 night western Caribbean?
  15. Hello again everybody! For those that do not know me, my name is Jeff “Jamman54” Maskall, and along with my lovely wife Patti, have just returned from another nearly month-long vacation. This retirement thing is really a lot of fun! Once again we spent some time in Orlando before driving to Tampa to board the newly refurbished Carnival Paradise for a five day cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Our good CC friends Jim and Pat were also on this cruise, and it was great to share some of our casino, dinner, beach, and pool time with them. We can’t wait to sail with them again on the Pride in October. After our Paradise cruise was over, we drove from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale where we spent a few days before we boarded the Carnival Conquest for a six day cruise to Amber Cove, Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau. We called this our “cabana” cruise, since we had cabanas booked at our first three ports of call. Once again there were many “firsts” for us on these two cruises. With over fifty cruises under our belts it’s pretty cool that we seem to have “firsts” on every vacation that we take. This would be the first time that we have sailed on the Paradise and Conquest. In our quest to sail the fleet we could now cross these ships off the list. Our goal is to sail at least one new ship, to us, each year. We had never cruised from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades), before. We were very impressed with our first experience there. Lastly, we had never been to Amber Cove, so we were excited to finally visit there. This review will cover both cruises, plus our time in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. As always, we will be giving you a lot of detailed information along with lots and lots of pictures. This will help you decide if you would like to sail on these ships, or visit the ports of call we visited. We like to make these reviews fun, and to make you feel that you are sailing along with us. Folks, grab yourself a DOD as this is going to be another long one! Patti once again took well over three thousand pictures during our journey. I brought my laptop along so that I could download the photos from our cameras daily, and try to keep up with resizing and cropping as we went along. It soon became apparent that there was no way that I could keep up with Patti’s itchy trigger (shutter) finger, so as I write this, only the Orlando and the Carnival Paradise cruise are fully finished. I will work on the rest daily as I write this review, so that I can stay ahead of the game. For those that are wondering, our go to camera is the Canon PowerShot XS710 HS, and our water camera is the Fuji FinePix XP60. So, on Sunday April 8th at 9pm in the evening, we began our latest journey. In October of last year we learned how to, or was it how not to, pack for a month vacation. This is what our month long packing looked like. We both agreed that we still packed too much….. This is the obligatory “we’re leaving Ryan at home with the cats for a month, see you later photo”. See how happy we are…… Once again we will be driving down to Florida. We like driving overnight so that we miss the morning rush hours of Baltimore and Washington, and there is hardly any traffic at all. I just set the cruise control at, ahem, 79 mph and just steer between the white lines while listening to tunes all night long. We usually make quick potty and/or gas stops every two hours or so. After nine hours of driving we were ready for some breakfast so we stopped at the Patti’s favorite place, Cracker Barrel, in Santee, South Carolina….. About three hours later we were crossing the border into Florida…… We always take the I-295 bypass around Jacksonville. Here we are going over the Dames Point Bridge……. Two hours later we had made it to Orlando. I-4 is still a nightmare, and not for the faint of heart! To think that it’s going to take six more years to fix this mess. Yikes!!! To be continued…..
  16. I’ve been reading posts about piano bar entertainment and I keep thinking back to the BEST piano bar experience we’ve ever had. The sailing was the week of May 25, 2003 on the Paradise. The regular piano entertainer was sick so she had taken a leave for a week or two. The atrium piano player, Mark Guttenplan, was filling in. He just got such a kick out of interacting with everyone in the bar and there were about eight or ten of us that showed up every night of the cruise. He’d pass the mic around and accompany anyone who wanted to sing. Some people had regular songs every night — he’d start playing “New York, New York” or “Piano Man” and hold out the microphone as soon as he saw my husband walk in. Another woman sang such a beautiful rendition of “Danny Boy” that there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It was such a fun and personal atmosphere. Even the bar servers were having a great time and singing along. Our favorite piano bar server came up to us in one of the ports and told us where the best beach was and said we could follow her. All of us who became friends at the piano bar would greet each other all over the ship. It was really awesome. The piano player gave us his email address and we corresponded for awhile, but we lost touch years ago. But I’ll never forget how unique and fun that experience was.
  17. Just wondering.....tried to use Search to find but no luck. Do the men have to wear long pants on the Paradise 4 day cruise on Elegant night or will dress shorts be OK. Also, what time is the Family Comedy Club show? Trying to plan a dinner time.
  18. Looking at a 4 day for my niece 26, mom 80, and myself 48. Mom and I have sailed a lot. Niece has never cruised. Mom is slower to get around now. Ports are not a big concern. Overall Ship condition is important. Looking at a balcony or possibly suite for extra room. I was on Liberty in January 2019. I have been on Valor, but its been awhile. Let me know your thoughts on: Liberty Victory Paradise (Does it have a Lido screen?) Valor Thanks!
  19. Hi All, My GF and I are booked on an upcoming cruise on the Carnival Paradise and are booked in an interior on the Grand deck. Supposedly, the new interior rooms on the Grand deck are more spacious and have couches; whereas, the rooms on the Verandah do not. GF wants Grand deck due to additional room in the cabin. I want to be on the Verandah deck because it's closer to the Lido deck, and because we're in an interior, it would offer me a chance to "peek" my head out either exits of that deck for fresh air to avoid cabin fever (I'm not necessarily a pool person). Since it's not too late to change cabins, what are your thoughts? Stay on Grand deck or move to Verandah deck?
  20. Hello, I'm looking for the funtimes itinerary on the Paradise, going to key west and overnight Havana. I'm sailing on August 3rd, 2019 with my 13 yo son and would like to know what available for him. I register him for Carnival Camp, but he is no thrilled about it (LOL). Hoping they have lots of things to do for teenagers since we are going during summer vacation.-
  21. Just back and it was great!! Embarkation in Tampa was so fast and everyone associated with getting us on ship was great. Parking across the street was also a plus for us. Weather for the whole cruise was sunny, warm-hot. No rain! Once onboard, we never felt crowded at anytime on cruise. Got into our cabin around 1:30 pm and unloaded our carry on stuff. Rest of luggage was there by 3 pm for us and we unpacked. Muster was easy too and we were in the theater with nice seats and A/C. They did have to wait on some folks to show up which took a little time. Passenger make up seemed to be older than I would expect for Carnival. More like we see it on Celebrity. Few kids and not many groups of adult singles. Most likely due to time of year and sailing to Cuba compared to a more typical 7 day cruise itinerary. The food, for us, was very good in MDR. Fernando and his team was excellent! Was disappointed in no lobster, but that could have been due to only 5 day cruise. The food on Lido deck too was good. I very much enjoyed the taco bar and the hamburger bar for lunch. Breakfast in Paris restaurant was very good too. Would have liked some muesli, but I enjoyed chicken sausage from the taco bar with my eggs/ beans, tomatoes, ham. I like to eat an English style breakfast when on ship. Not many restaurants serving beans or grilled tomatoes 🙂 The drinks were ok. Only ok for me as I could not order a top shelf liquor martini at martini bar. They would not even 'upcharge' me to make one. Just was directed to the printed card. 😞 The Parched Pig IPA was excellent and had numerous ones each day. DW like the well drinks and we had a few bottles of very nice wines.We loved sitting in the pool bar areas and enjoy the music/activites. Never used a lounge chair or got in pool. Shows are not my thing, so cannot comment on them. Did watch 2 comedians, who seemed to have the same theme jokes-at least the pg rated ones. they were pretty good. To me, without vulgar themes, those comedians are the better ones who can make us laugh at everyday things. Again, they were good. Carnivals staff was very good. We liked to interact and a number of them learned our names and addressed by our first names pretty quick. Not necessary, but it was a nice effort by many of the staff. A big shout out to Mel (Melissa) the cruise director. I think she was the overall best CD we have ever had on 35 cruises. She was not only the CD, but a great performer. We loved her energy, her performances of the Motown and 80's show she did in the centrum area, her ability to react to the situation was a work of art. At Motown , she was Tina Turner. She got the crowd into the songs and it was a fun (and short) hour of great group signing! Our cabin steward was Irpan and his team and we had a couple of requests and they were immediately fulfilled and the rest of the time, our room was cleaned, etc without ever seeing them in our room. They always took the time to speak to us when seeing us in the hallways too. Our day in Key West was just what I had hoped for. Got a shirt in the Crazy Shirts store, then across the street to Sloppy Joes for drinks and then up Duval to see the sights including enjoying key lime pie along the way. Our day in Havana, Cuba too was great. We took the ships excursion as one of our fellow travelers needed some help at times. The best was the about 1 hour in total riding in the back seat of an old Chevrolet convertible (bright yellow) through the streets of Havana with my arm around my DW . Was a little surprised that there still is a lot of buildings needing lots of work or even needing to be torn down. Enjoyed some Cuban beer called Bucanero. Not an IPA/hoppy-bitter beer, but very good. Our 2 sea days were just as I like: eat, drink, laugh, enjoy poolside entertainment with our old friends and the friends we made onboard Carnival Paradise. Getting off ship too was a breeze. We were in parking deck before 7:30am One reason was we were on deck 7 forward which was a great desk for us. 50 feet and we were at the centrum area bar. 2 flights of stairs and we were on the entertainment deck, 3 flights up and we were on the Lido deck. I like walking and stairs to get my 10,000 + steps in each day. We typically sail Royal or Celebrity as those were the first ones we sailed, but I have sailed Carnival now 3 times, HAL once, Princess 3 times and plan to sail Carnival Corp ships again in future.
  22. Just finished a 5 day cruise to Key West and Cuba on the Carnival Paradise. Overall, nice cruise, with my wife and nine other friends. Some observatrions in order of occurrence: 1. Tampa is an easy port to depart from, this might be the first time I ever walked into the terminal, went directly to the counter, took a few minutes to register, etc., and walked onto the ship without ever sitting or standing/waiting (except the few minutes at the counter checking in). Had an 11:30 appt., arrived at 11:15, was onboard by 11:30. Nice! 2. We had a suite (U97), and it was fine. Rooms available at 1:30 per posting, but after having lunch at the buffet, we noticed a few people opening the closed corridor doors and accessing the rooms, so we followed. By 1:30, our bags had been delivered and we were unpacked and back on the deck. 3. The muster drill was 3:15, and it was very poorly run. We arrived at our station before 3:15 (casino) and sat down. Then we were told we weren't allowed to sit down as they were saving all the chairs for handicaps. We were lined up like soldiers, and staff paraded back and forth like my old drill sargeant telling us to stand straight and not to look at our smart phones. As we waited, more and more people came in and many took seats, though not handicapped. After 30 minutes, with nothing having happended except all of us being scanned onto IPads, they started searching for missing people whilke we all waited. Eventually all missing guests were located and we started the actual muster drill. I've been on 27 cruises, and never saw anything like this. I guess things have gotten tougher? 4. Food was fine for us, we are not very fussy. We ate dinner in the Elation dining room and found meals to be good with many choices. Service though was slow, two hours per dinner, and we generally eat quickly but there was much waiting between courses. The "dinner shows" were silly in my view. We ate breakfast in the buffet dining room, all good, and lunch either at the deck burger place (great burgers!) or in the buffet. Pizza 24 hours was nice too. Room service was free for some items, charge for others. This is a change for us. 5. Mel the Cruise Director was terrific! Energetic, and very talented. She did several evening shows in the main lobby (Motown, 80's rock, etc.) and she owned the crowd. Fantastic effort on her part and we all loved it. 6. Theatre shows were decent, didn't go to the comedy club shows though 7. Casino was easy to find tables, liklely because they have bad odds. Craps allowed 2X odds, pretty sad, and Blackjack paid 6/5 on Blackjacks, as low as I've ever seen. Automatic continuous shuffle machines aren't great for players either. Poker table was unused the entire cruise, and I went there every day or night the casino was open looking to play. Disappointed as I wanted to play Texas Holdem, no joy. 8. Key West was, well, Key West. We did a Helicopter tour which was great. The ships helicopter offering was 12 minutes in the air, we called a local company (turned out to be the same helicopter company the cruise line used) and got a 30 minute tour for about the same price. We even were taken to the airport with cruise booked guests in the same van. 9. Havana was awesome. The port stay was from 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM, quite long! Despite our fears for a delayed immigration process, we basically walked off the ship and through customs in minutes, no lines. We booked a tour with an individual tour guide who arranged our classic car tour in the morning (three hours), then lunch in a great little Cuban cafe, then a van tour for 4 hours to finish the afternoon. So much to see. We decided we were tired so we went back on the ship before 6 PM, and relaxed. There was virtually nothing to do on the ship for the evening except Karaoke. I was surprised they didn't even have things like trivia contests, etc. And there were many guests who were wandering around looking bored 10. The Cuban people were very friendly and we had no issues throughout the day. It is safe, and it's a shame the country is still relatively difficult to visit. 11. Disembarkation at Tampa was pretty good, though the cruise staff managed to make it harder than necessary by requiring us all to walk all around the 7th floor to form one line to exit. Not a big deal, but I'm not sure who dreams this stuff up. All in all, a good cruise. We've been on the Paradise before, and though old, it's a nice ship. They don't treat suite guests like VIP's which was surprising though we aren't demanding of that, but essentially you purchased a larger room, not VIP treatment. The cruise staff were all friendly (except when they are doing muster drills!) and the ride was as smooth as I've ever had on a cruise ship. We did have to shorten our last day to rush back to port arriving around midnight due to a medisacl emergency, which forced all stores and the casino to close at 11 PM, but that is understandable. Bottom line, Carnival did a good job, though we still prefer Royal Caribbeak and Princess
  23. Background: This was DH & my 11th cruise, about 1/2 with Royal & 1/2 with Carnival. Our sons, 12 & 9 yrs, cruised with us 2 years ago on the Carnival Vista. This is our first time on this particular ship although we have said a ship in the Fantasy class before. We’ve also sailed on Royal’s Independence, Voyager & Oasis class ships previously. We enjoy cruising for the mix of activities and relaxation it has to offer. We picked this cruise based off our kids spring break schedule and to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday. My expectations of this cruise were fairly low after just sailing on the huge Harmony of the Seas less than 2 months ago. I also knew that the ship would be full as it was spring break time & we usually sail in Jan. or Feb. I was pleasantly surprised on how much fun we had on this trip. We flew from MN to Tampa 3 days before the cruise to stay in Clearwater Beach with my in-laws. We had a wonderful time there although 3 days of spring break crowds on the beach & traffic were enough for us! Embarkation: We got a Lyft ride from Clearwater Beach @10am and arrived at the cruise terminal at 11am. Cost was $41 plus tip. We were through the check in process in Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  24. Any help is appreciated....currently booked in an interior room on Deck 7 (Empress) on the Paradise. Poking around I found some interior rooms on Deck 14 and it'd be $180 more (total) to switch. Any opinions on this deck? We stayed on the Lido deck on the Liberty last year and loved it. The Fantasy class ships don't have that option so this seemed "close." I appreciate the feedback.
  25. Carnival Paradise April 13, 2019 - Countdown to Cuba Cruise Report Hello all! No....your eyes are not playing tricks on you! The title of this post does say that our cruise is APRIL 13th which IS a month a way still. But in the nearly 14 months we've been planning OUR Cuba cruise, I've not found a lot of comprehensive Cuba trip reports. So I decided a while back that I would do my part and write a lengthy and detailed report of our experiences preparing for our Cuba cruise and the actual cruise itself. I also wanted to allow everyone curious about Cuba or thinking of booking a Cuba cruise to benefit from our experiences and have the opportunity to ask questions along the way. Of course, I need to add the typical disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this review are solely those belonging to me or my close travel companions. We are pretty easy going travelers who like to have a good time - but if something isn't up to par, we will call it out. And on the flip side, we will definitely point out when things exceed our expectations. Now....let's move along! ABOUT US: This cruise started out to be just myself, Misty, and my husband Drew (which would have been weird because we usually cruise with a larger group). But over time more people ended up joining us including my sister (and very frequent cruise partner-in-crime) Julie and a mix of our regular cruising buddies and friends (or friends of friends) taking their first cruise with us. We even had some people in our group cancel their already booked Royal Caribbean cruise for this same month to sail to Cuba with us. This will be my 18th cruise, all on Carnival. Julie and I took our first cruise together 21 years ago. Drew and I cruised in 2015 on the Breeze and 2017 on the Vista with our (now) four-year old daughter, Sawyer Rose. But this time, we decided that we needed an adults only vacation and will be leaving her at home with the grandparents. In all, we ended up with 17 people Cuba-bound. Most of our group is in the 40-50 age range and as I mentioned before we love to just have a good time! BOOKING: After our November 2017 cruise on the Carnival Vista, my hubby indicated that he wanted to take "a break" from cruising and do something else for our next vacation. In all honesty, I was okay with that. I love cruising, but am totally open to expanding our horizons and trying something new! But like Ross & Rachel, the break didn't last! So how exactly did we end up booked on another cruise within four months of our Vista cruise? It's a funny little story which started just before we left for our Vista cruise. I had used a combination of Verizon and All-State discounted gift cards to pay off our Vista cruise fare. The night before we left for Miami, I decided to buy another $600 in gift cards to put toward our Sail & Sign account and essentially pay off our Cheers packages. I bought these gift cards through All-State for a price of $540 (10% discount). I also had $80 in cash rewards so the total price I paid for these gift cards was $460. Now, every other time I've purchased these electronic gift cards, they've arrived in my email almost instantaneously. Well....that didn't happen this time! I got a confirmation of my purchase, but no gift cards! I waited and waited and waited....and still nothing. About 9PM that evening I tried to contact All-State Rewards Customer Service but it just rang with no answer. I tried calling again the next morning before we flew to Ft. Lauderdale; still no answer. I kept calling until we boarded the ship on Sunday morning with no luck. I finally resigned myself to the fact their Customer Service was a Monday thru Friday operation and we would not get our gift cards before we set sail and lost our cell signal. We decided to just make the most of it and deal with the gift cards when we got home. Fast forward to December when I called All-State to let them know that the gift cards were not received before our cruise and inquired about a refund. I was told by their service rep the gift cards were non-refundable. I explained (AGAIN) that we never received them and it wasn't a matter of us just choosing to not use them. I also let them know that we would not be cruising for quite a while. All of this to no avail. I talked to several people including a supervisor and was told the same thing. Finally I asked them to at least resend the gift cards so we would have them. It took three more attempts at two different email addresses before I received the cards. At that point, I was completely over arguing with them to get our money back, so I decided that our next best alternative was......to book another cruise! Convenient, huh? (That's what my hubby thought too!). And thus, the cruise planning began again! We had already planned a couple smaller family trips for 2018, so that brought us to looking at 2019 cruises. I was determined to find something the hubby would be excited about since he was burnt out on cruising. I was looking at new destinations (Bermuda, Panama Canal, West Coast), new ships (Horizon, Panorama) or different cabin types (Suites or Havana Cabins) to freshen things up a bit. Since we had essentially a $600 head start (thanks, All-State), I felt like we could splurge a bit. But then my eyes landed on CUBA! Drew has always been intrigued by Cuba and it's been a bucket list destination for us for a long time. As soon as I mentioned a Cuba cruise to him, his eyes lit up! We have a WINNER! As were looking at the various Cuba cruises, the April 27th sailing caught our eye. This cruise checked all the boxes for us. It was five days which was perfect wince we are leaving Sawyer at home. Anything shorter would have felt too short cause we usually do 6-7 day cruises. So five days felt just right! It also visited two ports - Key West (which is a fave of ours) and Havana. And it gave us 18 hours in Havana (8AM to 2AM). That felt like a good amount of time to satisfy our people to people excursion requirement while leaving enough time for exploring on our own after. And we'd get to experience some of the Havana nightlife. After getting the full go-ahead from the hubby, I contacted our PVP and got us booked. We selected cabin M122, which is a category 8B Balcony mid-ship Main Deck on the port side of the ship. My PVP booked us under Early Saver, but then applied for price protection for a Casino Rate I was offered under my VIFP number. The price protection was approved and we got $50 off. I used our $600 in gift cards for our deposit and we were officially booked! Now fast-forward to April, 2018....I was just getting to work and logged into my computer when I decided to do a quick look to see if there had been any price drops for our cruise. When I filtered cruises on Carnival's website for April, 2019 out of Tampa to Cuba, there was suddenly a new option showing. Carnival had just switched 20 cruises for 2019 from their original itineraries to ones including a stop in Cuba. There was now a new sailing departing on April 13th - which just so happens to be our anniversary. And when I compared the price for that cruise against our current booking, it was $320 cheaper (even after the $50 per person Early Saver change fee). The new itinerary was basically the same except we would have a few more hours in Havana (7AM to 6AM the next morning). It was a complete no-brainer! A few quick emails and a phone call to my PVP and the switch was made! Our new cabin was M230, an 8A balcony on Main Deck still on the port side but more toward the aft of the ship. OUR FINAL CRUISE ITINERARY: DAY PORT OF CALL ARRIVE DEPART Sat Tampa, FL 4:00 PM Sun Key West, FL 12:00 PM 6:00 PM Mon Havana, Cuba 7:00 AM Tue Havana, Cuba 6:00 AM Tue Fun Day At Sea Wed Fun Day At Sea Thu Tampa, FL 8:00 AM So that's how we ended up booked on this cruise! Over the next couple of weeks, I'll touch on some of the planning that went into this vacation after we got booked. With this being a Cuba cruise, there are definitely more hoops to jump through and things to consider that aren't a factor in most other cruises (including every cruise I've taken thus far). This is also our first cruise from the Port of Tampa. So that required more research and planning than I normally have to do when cruising from So. Florida. If anyone has any questions about planning and preparing for a cruise to Cuba, don't be shy! Also, feel free to ask questions about the ship/ports in advance. I'll do my best to get all of the answers while we're gone and include them in my post-cruise portion of this report. And yes - I plan on including LOTS of pictures from our travels as well! Let the countdown begin! :)
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