Paradise Cuba cruise review, Oct 5

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#1
South florida
1,085 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
well after some suspense of "will it go, won't it go" due to the political Embassy announcements then the unknown of Hurricane Nate, all worked out in the end and we were able to go!! I will give a short overview of the high and low points...

High... Cuba was an incredible experience and she ship personnel were wonderful.

Being from Florida I always wanted to visit Cuba as it was the "forbidden fruit" syndrome. And it did not disappoint. Pulling into the harbor There were locals waving and cheering at the ship and classic cars honking, it was a neat experience.

When we checked in, Carnival gave us our Cuban visa's (a little card) that we had to fill out and turn into immigration in Cuba. The morning before our arrival we were went by the desk on Promonade deck to get our disembark letter sticker since we were an independent tour (we got D, I saw up to letter R). Now we pulled into Havana like 1 hour or so late due to winds (hurricane Nate) and then there was some issue with Cuban immigration having computers down, so it was nearly 3 by the time they finished getting off the Carnival sponsored tours and started calling letters... so there were a LOT of restless pax. We ended up,being guided to a lounge where Platnium guests escorted down to exit the ship immediately after the CCL tours so we were off the ship by 2:45.

I had booked a classic car tour through Old Car Tours Havana (3 hours, we chose a pink Chevy, with guide for $120 per car) and arranged for a 3 pm tour knowing it takes a while to debark so it worked out perfect. The guides met us at a church with boards with our name and the cars arrived and off we went... it was overcast all day and very breezybut thankfully no rain! The tour was amazing, we went all over, stopped where we wanted, the guide was funny and gave us insight on the history and the realities of life in cuba. Everyone was very nice and welcoming. The architecture, crumbling and refurbished facades and the thousands of classic cars plying the city made for stunning pictures and gave the impression of being in a "time warp". We ate at a small paladar (had pork, rice beans) which was good. We bought a few souvenirs (Havana is not overrun by souvenir shops... yet) as well as some rum and Cohiba cigars. Watch out for people on street telling you about a "cigar holiday" and follow them to a black market cigar sales guy... buy from a shop! Next time I would however bring some toothpaste tubes and deodorant to give/trade as a few of the souvenir sales people asked if we had any to trade as those are expensive black market items and difficult for Cubans to buy.

They next day I got off the ship in the morning and took a bicycle taxi ($10 for an hour) for a ride around the old town, then I walked and wandered taking photos. Nobody ever asked (other than on the affidavit when we boarded) if we had "approved" people to people tours booked... so I would not stress that. But we did love out classic car tour through old car tours.

Logistics... When you exit the ship (each time) you must pass immigration, the first time they take your visa (filled out) stamp your passport and take your photo... then you pass through a metal detector (bag through X-ray) (which is not set very high because my artificial knees did not set it off) the. You can exchange money... I had Euro, which got me $293 CUC for $300 worth of Euro (US $ was about $240 CUC for $300 with the extra 10% hit and pegged rate... and I exchanged back what I had left at the pier too. You must pass immigration going in/out each time but not a big issue... after you pass immigration the first time, you just have to show your cuba stamp in passport for coming/going after that. Not a big issue.

For the ship, You can tell the Paradise is definitely due for her major drydock retrofit this January... they had issues with the water (which hot water was sometimes brownish) and they had to shut down the water to all the cabins in our area on the day we were in Cuba for some repairs (not a big deal since we were in port anyway. And stick a fork in the mattresses as those are DONE (so hark I had to ask for 2 duvets to sleep on top of)! I mean the ship looks OK, but ready for overhaul... some worn looking areas. But I did not go for the ship this cruise, but the itinerary.

Food onboard had a lot of issues. I know the menus inside out and have had pretty much everything at one time or another but many,of the "usuals" had problems. They definitely have a seafood problem. Every seafood dish came out of the kitchen smelling super stinky fish smell. The scallop dish was especially pungent and seemed "off" the prime rib was grey colored as was the ahi tuna. Salmon was like a pink stucco block it was so dry! The duck, lamb, brisket however were still very good. For the rest, everything seemed a bit "meh" Although the service was incredible as usual.... but the kitchen seems to be having some issues with food prep/cooking (and I am not super fussy).

There was a great band at the casino bar and the comedians were great. There was a Cuban dance show in the main theater one nite which was good, but I'm not really a show person.

Overall I loved the experience of visiting... all the old cars driving the streets, the wonderful people. The tourist dollars we spend even after the govt takes their cut DOES make it into the hands of average Cubans and is starting to help them make their lives better. Life is very difficult for them but they have hope that with tourism it will mean more opportunitys for them... not just directly through serving tourists, but in construction jobs (they are building new hotels and refurbishing many buildings), road work, restaurants and such and in businesses which serve the people who work directly with tourism. It was a great trip, one I am glad I made.

If anyone has an specific questions I will be happy to answer...
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#3
Georgia
483 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
I was on this cruise and second everything said about Havana. It’s truly a once in a lifetime adventure and being there multiple days was awesome. We got back off after our day tour and ate at a family owned restaurant ( not government). The home was built in 1890 and Home owner thanked us and shook our hand for visiting. Then the next morning we strolled down the street and saw all the locals leaving Home and walking to work and shopping etc. was an incredible adventure. And boy those cars are spectacular and all the locals are friendly and glad to see Americans there.


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#4
Georgia
483 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Oh and that ship needs to be retired. It was in pretty worn shape.


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#6
Southern Maryland
5,393 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Thanks for the report!
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#7
Florida
1,747 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Thanks for the Cuba review! DH and I were on the Paradise in May and did not experience any of the food or water issues you experienced. We are going again in a few weeks and will compare.
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#8
MA
191 Posts
Joined May 2017
I was on board as well! Thought it was a great trip - my first cruise. I didn't have any issues with the food, but we did eat in the MDR any time we could. Don't eat a ton of beef, and that's a lot of what I've heard complaints about. They were amazing with my children, service was excellent. No water issues. My only complaint would be the smoking areas being near major paths of travel.

Loved cuba so much. We have added it to our land-trip list.
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arnival Paradise to Cuba 10/2017
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#10
MA
191 Posts
Joined May 2017
Originally posted by jrmama496
Does anyone have the Fun Times for this cruise?
I should have taken photos but to tell the truth I hardly used it. Which leads me to another thing I was super impressed with - the hub app. Great way to communicate with family, and to know what's going on. Also, you can mark that you're interested in an activity and it will warn you "Towel Folding is in 15 minutes!" I thought that was great.
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arnival Paradise to Cuba 10/2017
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#11
Central Illinois
132,229 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Appreciate the feedback.
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Bob

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#12
South florida
1,085 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Yes, the water issue is not everywhere, just some cabins I guess. I also wanted to add, yes, be sure to bring toilet paper or wet wipes with you and bottled water.... if you stay onboard at night in havana, keep in mind they don't have a lot of activities onboard and casino is closed... a lot of people do one of the shows as a tour
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#14
Florida
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Joined Aug 2004
I am afraid of going on such a small ship, did she rock, would you go on her if there was a storm at sea....I been on this ship many years ago but In its time it was the largest I just afraid now to go on a smaller one like to hear what you feel regarding her size and how she handles.
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Oasis of the Seas, April 15, 2018
Oasis of the Seas, October 2017
Harmony of the Seas, May 2017
NCL Getaway, May 2016
Carnival Magic, April 2016
Carnival Fascination, December 2015
Oasis of the Seas, October 2015
Carnival Valor, May 2015
Regal Princess, September 2014
Allure of the Seas, 5-11/2014
Carnival Fascination, April 2014
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NCL Breakaway, June 2013
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Freedom of the Seas, October 2012
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Freedom of the Seas, July 2011
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#15
South florida
1,085 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Originally posted by Cruisegirl6
I am afraid of going on such a small ship, did she rock, would you go on her if there was a storm at sea....I been on this ship many years ago but In its time it was the largest I just afraid now to go on a smaller one like to hear what you feel regarding her size and how she handles.
First off I have never felt unsafe on a carnival ship and I know many of the officers and know they have a high level of professionalism and judgement and do what they can to avoid such conditions . That being said, there are sea conditions that would be uncomfortable for many. Luckily I do not suffer the sea or motion sensitivity, but when we left Tampa heading to Havana the ship was rocking and bumping enough for me to notice (only to not spill my drink lol)... generally the Gulf is not too terrible but if you are very prone to sea sickness it might be an issue on a smaller ship.
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#16
Florida
9,357 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Pos222- I also never feel unsafe, just saying I am afraid of severe rocking on what is a small ship but now I checked the Paradise its equivalent to the Fascination that I been on many times....RC has the Empress of the Seas a much smaller ship, so just may go on the Paradise and finally see Cuba that I been dying to see.
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Oasis of the Seas, April 15, 2018
Oasis of the Seas, October 2017
Harmony of the Seas, May 2017
NCL Getaway, May 2016
Carnival Magic, April 2016
Carnival Fascination, December 2015
Oasis of the Seas, October 2015
Carnival Valor, May 2015
Regal Princess, September 2014
Allure of the Seas, 5-11/2014
Carnival Fascination, April 2014
Allure of the Seas, October 2013
NCL Breakaway, June 2013
Carnival Fascination, May 2013
Freedom of the Seas, October 2012
Carnival Dream, May 2012
Monarch of the Seas, Decembher 2012
Freedom of the Seas, July 2011
Liberty of the Seas, May 2011
#17
South florida
1,085 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Originally posted by Cruisegirl6
Pos222- I also never feel unsafe, just saying I am afraid of severe rocking on what is a small ship but now I checked the Paradise its equivalent to the Fascination that I been on many times....RC has the Empress of the Seas a much smaller ship, so just may go on the Paradise and finally see Cuba that I been dying to see.
It's definitely bigger than the Empress... I did not find it too bad... you should be ok... and the opportunity to visit Cuba would make it worthwhile IMO
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