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Carnival Paradise - 3 Day Mini Review

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This was our second cruise, the first being a 7 Day to Alaska on Celebrity. We'd since had a baby so our 14 month old came along on the Paradise with us. It was a company Anniversary party so there were about 200 of us on the 3 Day Cruise to Ensenada. Embarkation went quite smooth as we showed up at the Long Beach terminal at around 11:45 a.m. We pre-checked in at the Queen Mary then headed over to the main terminal where we went straight to security. We headed straight to level 10 to the Paris restaurant for the lunch buffet. Got my beverage card at the Paris Bar and officially started our vacation.

Cabin was ready by the time we had finished lunch and our luggage waiting outside our door. Because this was a company sponsored event, I didn't have a choice on cabin location. If you are booking this cruise for yourself, make sure you look at the deck maps ahead of time and find something on the M level or similar. We were on the Empress "E" deck and this was really, really bad. We had cabin E-70 which is the second outside cabin down the hall from the main reception area, big bar, information desk, and excursion desk.

As the 3 Day cruise departs on a Friday and returns early Monday morning it is exactly what you would imagine...a party cruise. Our cruise was oh so lucky, to have a bunch of knuckleheads (all wearing red skull caps) that were there for a bachelor event. I felt so badly for the crew but I guess this is something they have to deal with every week. In speaking with quite a few members of the crew, the 4 Day is much different in that it leaves on Monday evening and comes back on Friday morning resulting in a less rowdy, more well behaved bunch of cruisers. There were many red-hat stories to be shared but my favorite was waking up at 4:30 in the morning because one of the red hats was running down the hall, yelling "Hey Amigo!" at one of the crew. From the slurred conversation, it seems the red hat had plugged up his toilet and figured any crew member in the hall could fix it for him. He must have gotten the crew member's attention after the 3rd "Hey Amigo!" as you heard him yell to his pal, "See, that's all you have to do." How ignorant. Among other stories I heard from other passengers were "the absolute worst pick-up line from a red hat," "how uncomfortable it was to be the only female on the bus full of red-hats to the blow-hole," and how two of the red-hats thought it would be cool to stand naked with towels hiding their private parts by the elevators on deck 8. Anyhow, if you have a choice in your cabin location, stay away from 7 at all costs. We had loud, drunk people up and down the hallway til' 1:00 a.m. every night. It's totally cool to have fun and all but only in the areas where you're not sharing your fun with other people like common cabin areas.

This cruise had an automatic tip policy which, in hindsight, is probably a really good thing for the crew. After hearing seeing how a lot of the party people act, I have to believe that many of the crew were getting stiffed at the end of the cruise. Service was generally quite good and well deserved of the $10 per person per day charge. The only time it was poor was the one time we dined in the dining room for breakfast. One of the table mates was upset as he sat there for 10 minutes with no drink offer and when the waiter did come by, he told the passenger to sit in his chair properly then went around the table for breakfast choices. The waiter's attitude during that seating seemed to be "I'll never see these people again so oh, well."

Food in the dining room was quite good. Lobster the first night was great! The only thing I didn't care for was a crab appetizer and a seafood entree that consisted of shrimps, scallops, and chunks of fish. It was just ok. However, all the beef dishes were really good and cooked to order. My baby was fussing 2 of the 3 dining room nights resulting in getting our food to go and finishing dinner in the room. Our awesome waiter, Galin, packed everything up for us and was a pleasure to have around. Envelopes were provided for extra tipping to special crew and his was well deserved. Pizza was better than average and very convenient as it was served all the time. Breakfast in the Paris buffet was just "ok." The usual selection of stuff. Pretty much on par with the Circus Circus buffet in Vegas. Lunch buffet at the Paris was equally average. I'm a native of Las Vegas and lived there for 37 years so I may be a bit numb to the buffet thing so take my opinion on that stuff with a grain of salt. The only room service we ordered was whole milk for our baby. Service was quick and one of the few areas where you should tip the crew, above and beyond your normal gratuity. A couple of dollars seemed appreciated. We had brought a collapsible "ice-chest" bag with us on the cruise. Our steward was great about keeping our ice bucket full and he eventually just left the outer compartment to our cabin unlocked for us. This is where he kept an ice chest full of ice and extra towels. This way I could help myself to the ice and keep a small inventory of milk and yogurt cold for times when baby needed it. Back to food stuff. If you are a coffee drinker, I thought the buffet coffee was pretty bad and burnt tasting. I ended up filling half a cup with hot cocoa and the rest with coffee. The dining room had good coffee though. Your best coffee source is the on board coffee bar on the casino deck I think. Anyhow, they had "Starbucks" style drinks and goof desserts. This was stuff you paid extra for. We had dessert there one night...seven layer chocolate cake, cheesecake, and chocolate dipped strawberries. All very, very good and really inexpensive.

Ensenada. We didn't book anything ahead of time and decided to roll the dice. Once we got on land, we found the area where there were all the shuttle buses to take you downtown for $2. On the trip down there, they recommend that when you get off the first shuttle, buy a $13 ticket for a different shuttle that will take you to the Blowhole - La Bufadora and outdoor shopping area (flea market). We did this and liked it. There was a car wreck on the way to the blowhole so it took us about an hour to get out there so I can't say how long it would normally take. Maybe 40 minutes? Anyhow, our baby needed a nap and this gave her a great one! :) On the way out, they tell you to barter with the vendors and that things will be much cheaper than prices downtown. They were right. If you want fake purses, (Gucci, Coach) or fake Rolexes, this is the place to go. Purses could be haggled down to $30 or so and watches for $30-$50. Leather goods seemed to be bargains too. After a predetermined time at the blowhole/flea market, you head downtown. After that, they take you straight back to the cruise ship with no change of shuttle. It's a good deal and a good way to kill a few hours in Ensenada.

Because we had the baby, we didn't want to bug people in showrooms so I didn't take in any of the shows. My wife and I switched off on nightlife stuff and most of my time was spent in the karaoke bar. Most of my co-workers were there too and it was a good time. I mostly drank beer and black Russians (strong & potent) and didn't hear of lack of alcohol/weak drinks from other people I was with.

I've been wanting to try one of these quick cruises out of Long Beach for some time now and am glad we tried it. Lot's of fun except next time, I will book the 4 Day to avoid the heavy party crowd. It's not the partying but the lack of consideration that was the only bad part of the cruise. Yelling and running down the hallway was consistent every night and something not addressed by the ship's security guards. As crazy as it might seem, I think it would be good to install rotating doors at the end of the halls. This would cut down on noise leakage from the main area and act as a speed bump for ignorant people. One other irritating thing was the luggage pickup on the last night. The crew banged a lot of walls and didn't try to be discreet where as on my Celebrity cruise, I didn't even hear them picking up luggage.

Hope this helps!

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Thanks for the nice review. :) You stated issues in a nice manner so as not to take away anything from a “new cruiser’ who might wish to use this as a trial run. he DH and I are going into this with the notion it will be a 3-day party but we are going with our DD and by then her husband. We came from Southern Cal so it is more a fun get away for us with no high expectations. It did sound as if you enjoyed your trip with the exception of the “rude guests” and that is always nice to hear.

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I was on the 4 day cruise last week and the "party" crowd is not much different. We still had some groups that got a little carried away from time to time. Nothing that took away from the trip, but they were still there.


Funny you should mention the cabin on the E deck as being less than desirable. We I first boarded the ship, I thought the same thing. I did a GTY catagory and was hoping that I would not be on the Rivera deck(engine oise from below) or the Empress deck(kitchen noise from above). My past experience is to try and find a cabin that is surrounded by other cabins because they tend to be quieter.

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  • 4 weeks later...

We will be doin the 3 day this comming weekend. Did the 4 day 5 years ago on the Holiday and it was a great first cruise. Its going to be interesting to see what a weekend cruise is like for us.

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