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FreezingInMichigan

Review: Paradise Feb 28 - Mar 4, 2011 - Long Beach, Catalina Island, Ensenada

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Full disclosure: I'm a travel enthusiast, so my reviews get wordy and picture intensive. If you need the shortened version, here goes. The weather was sunny but chilly. The ship was nice but the staterooms dated. The ports were fun and we loved our excursions. The End.

 

For the rest of you... :)

 

Some background: My husband (Chuck, 45) and I (Sheryl, 47) have taken two previous cruises. Both were on Carnival conquest class ships. This is our only source of comparison. We live in very cold Michigan and try to escape to destinations warmer and unknown as often as we can. Nearly a year ago, we booked this cruise because of the unbelievably low price... $194pp for a porthole room. We've previously sailed in an inside and a balcony. We wanted to try another category and this sounded great.

 

We decided to make a longer vacation of the Mon - Fri cruise by flying in early to explore the L.A. area and out later to explore the San Diego area. It was the most complicated itinerary I've ever put together but it all worked out great. By the time we made the ship, I'd remembered one of the reasons I love cruising. Unpack once. Wake up some place new every day. I am not wired to live out of suitcases. :cool:

 

I'll include brief highlights of our bookend weekends. If anyone has questions, please feel free to voice them. The great times we have on our cruises are in part due to the wealth of information here on Cruise Critic. We've met lifelong friends in our Roll Calls, explored out of the way fantastic dives because fellow cruisers shared their experiences... so many good reasons to pay it forward. So here goes...

 

~ Sheryl

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Friday morning we awoke to yet more snow. The drive to the airport was twice as long as normal but we were determined. Bring on the de-icer!

 

 

 

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We arrived at LAX five hours later, grateful for "chilly" temps in the 50's. I redeemed travel points for a single nights stay at the Embassy Suites in El Segundo. (translate: south end of the airport terminal) It was free so I can't complain too much.

 

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They were having problems with their HVAC system. The weather was cool enough that the hotel was set to "heat". However, our room was very warm with no air conditioning. We left our balcony door open all night to cool the room down. However, this was our view. Lots of noise throughout the night. :eek:

 

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We met friends for dinner and had a wonderful time. These were friends we made from our Roll Call on our first cruise in 2009. We still stay in touch and managed to polish off a fishbowl sized margarita. Or two. :D

 

The previous day we had Enterprise bring our rental car to the hotel. Their service throughout this vacation was top notch. They took us to the port when we turned the car in and picked us up at the port when our ship came back in. It made transportation so easy.

 

Since we had wheels, we traveled. :)

 

We checked out of the Embassy and headed up to Santa Barbara. My husband was enthralled with the idea of driving the Pacific Coast Highway, even if it was just a little bit. We made our way through Santa Monica, Malibu, all the little towns in between. The views are gorgeous and I'm glad we made the drive.

 

These were the cheapest gas prices we'd see the entire trip. Californians - we feel your pain. :(

 

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We explored Santa Barbara, including the Mission. The history alone is worth the trip.

 

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Late in the afternoon we started our trek back to Long Beach. The views were just as pretty the other way...

 

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For the next two nights, the Mariott Residence Inn would be our home. We loved the hotel. If it has a downside, it's the lack of things to do if you don't have a car. However, a cab would be a cheap ride into downtown Long Beach for dinner and exploring.

 

Here's our suite:

 

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Yes, the shower is big enough for two. :D

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View from our windows

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In hindsight, we should have spent all three nights here. The drive between El Segundo and Long Beach wasn't bad at all. I would have paid our $132/night rate and given up the free night at the Embassy. This place was just that nice.

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Alright! Another comprehensive picture review. I was just looking for a good picture review of Paradise and couldn't find one. Eagerly awaiting your posts!

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I'm so happy to see your post! My husband and I just booked a Porthole cabin on the Paradise ... we've stayed in both OVs and a Balcony (I've stayed in Inside as well) and wanted to try a new category too! Can't wait to hear all about your experience. :)

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Sheryl,

Sorry we didn't get to meet on the ship. DH and I had the task of hearding cats (our group) and given that I have not attention span when traveling, DH was really the one in charge. ;) LOL

 

Looks like you hade a lovely trip. We were in Santa Barbara in October and had a great time. The mission was lovely and we enjoyed the history of the Presidio. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

 

The cruise was fun. Hope you two enjoyed it too. My friends, who were first time cruisers, loved the experience. In fact, we are booked for the Splendor next February.

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Alright! Another comprehensive picture review. I was just looking for a good picture review of Paradise and couldn't find one. Eagerly awaiting your posts!

 

I don't have much time tonight but I'll at least get started. :)

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I'm so happy to see your post! My husband and I just booked a Porthole cabin on the Paradise ... we've stayed in both OVs and a Balcony (I've stayed in Inside as well) and wanted to try a new category too! Can't wait to hear all about your experience. :)

 

We were surprised how much we enjoyed it, especially have had a balcony last trip. The downside on the Paradise is the room layout. The oceanviews were the same way. I'll post pics.

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Sheryl,

Sorry we didn't get to meet on the ship. DH and I had the task of hearding cats (our group) and given that I have not attention span when traveling, DH was really the one in charge. ;) LOL

 

Looks like you hade a lovely trip. We were in Santa Barbara in October and had a great time. The mission was lovely and we enjoyed the history of the Presidio. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

 

The cruise was fun. Hope you two enjoyed it too. My friends, who were first time cruisers, loved the experience. In fact, we are booked for the Splendor next February.

 

We didn't make the M&G either. We like being outside and forward for sail away, so the timing was off. And boy was it cold!

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After checking out of the hotel, we did some more exploring before turning in the rental car. As I mentioned, Enterprise had offered to give us a lift to the port. We were there around 12:30 - 1:00pm. The porters quickly took our two bags and we were off to the security line. With only 4 people in front of us, that went quickly. But then the hurry up and wait started.

 

Previously we've only sailed out of Miami. Nice big terminal. Plenty of places to sit down. Lines move quickly. Not so much for this cruise out of Long Beach. It may have been the timing, the date, the phases of the moon... who know... lol... but it definitely wasn't quick or comfy. They herded people into the terminal that looked like half of a golf ball and then into an area that was strictly bare walls and concrete floors. We were lined up in rows and asked to fill out our health forms. No pens, nowhere to write (kudos to the guys for offering their backs!), nowhere to sit. I'd have taken pictures but they were strictly enforcing the No Camera rule.

 

We waited inside this area for half an hour before we were herded back into the civilized side of the golf ball. Then it was another half hour of snaking through lines to get to the desk. There are no self-serve kiosks like in Miami. I didn't realize how much they speeded things up until they weren't available.

 

To be fair and objective, this was the worst part of our trip. And if that's the worst part - it was a pretty darn good trip. ;) We had a great customer service rep who had us laughing as she issued our cards. She thanked us profusely for filling out our docs online.

 

No more waiting - we were off to the first photo op and that gangway to happiness!

 

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This is the first time I'd run into Funship Freddy. I don't think he was looking at my boarding pass....... LOL

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Our room was ready, so off we went to the Deck 6 - Upper. Hello U18!

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For those of you curious about a porthole room... here you go...

 

It seemed to be as roomy as a standard inside that doesn't have the couch

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For the two of us we had plenty of drawer space

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And plenty of closet and shelf space

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The bed had a reading lamp over each side

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However, this was your only other piece of furniture. I guess we've become spoiled with having couches.

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There's a phone by the desk

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Individual temp control over the bed. Yes, over the bed. Thank goodness my husband is pretty tall...lol

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TV in the corner. This ship doesn't have the channel for checking your Sign & Sail account.

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An outlet is built into the railing between the bed's headboard and the desk. If I had brought our international converters, I'd have been curious to see if we could have had both outlets working at the same time.

188809_1891692018918_1440032501_2204109_165807_n.jpg

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The shower was far roomier than the ones on the conquest class ships we've sailed. In fact, they're roomy enough for two. 'Nuff said. :p

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But then it's helloooo Design Flaw. In each porthole room, there is a built-in footlocker. It's great for storage. The top lifts up and you can store all sorts of stuff in there. Souvenir stash. But it's built-in. Permanent. Doesn't move. And it butts right up to the edge of the bed that's in front of the portholes. Sooooo.... if you want to see out the portholes, you have to crawl over the bed. And if you're the person who sleeps on the left side of the bed, your partner is going to get a little action in the night when you try to launch yourself to the other side making a beeline for the bathroom because you had too many DOD's and need to potty ASAP. Ummm.. not that that happened to me or anything. :cool:

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During the cruise we peeked into oceanview rooms and saw this same blasted footlocker design layout. So it wasn't us cheap porthole folks that were stuck with it. Somehow that didn't make me feel any better. :>

 

Here's one last picture and then I need to call it a night. Here's the hallway of Deck 6 looking outside our door facing aft. By 3:00pm almost every rooom had luggage in front of it. That's much faster than either of our other two cruises so kudos to the Paradise staff. Nicely done.

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Next up - ship pictures. Night, everyone!

 

 

~ Sheryl

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Fantasy class design that has that stupid storage bin at the foot of the bed. It works great if you have 2 twins because then it opens up the room and has plenty of room but for the beds pushed together that means someone is going to have to climb over to get in/out of bed. I was on the Elation twice and Paradise once and it was the same layout regardless of inside or oceanview.

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After checking out of the hotel, we did some more exploring before turning in the rental car. As I mentioned, Enterprise had offered to give us a lift to the port. We were there around 12:30 - 1:00pm. The porters quickly took our two bags and we were off to the security line. With only 4 people in front of us, that went quickly. But then the hurry up and wait started.

 

Previously we've only sailed out of Miami. Nice big terminal. Plenty of places to sit down. Lines move quickly. Not so much for this cruise out of Long Beach. It may have been the timing, the date, the phases of the moon... who know... lol... but it definitely wasn't quick or comfy. They herded people into the terminal that looked like half of a golf ball and then into an area that was strictly bare walls and concrete floors. We were lined up in rows and asked to fill out our health forms. No pens, nowhere to write (kudos to the guys for offering their backs!), nowhere to sit. I'd have taken pictures but they were strictly enforcing the No Camera rule.

 

We waited inside this area for half an hour before we were herded back into the civilized side of the golf ball. Then it was another half hour of snaking through lines to get to the desk. There are no self-serve kiosks like in Miami. I didn't realize how much they speeded things up until they weren't available.

 

To be fair and objective, this was the worst part of our trip. And if that's the worst part - it was a pretty darn good trip. ;) We had a great customer service rep who had us laughing as she issued our cards. She thanked us profusely for filling out our docs online.

 

No more waiting - we were off to the first photo op and that gangway to happiness!

 

FYI - The golf ball looking building is where the Spruce Goose was housed. The reason there are no pens is because they were used by other passengers and then probably forgotten.

 

Usually by noon people are already boarding the ship. A few years ago, Carnival stopped the boarding jpassengers about 15 minutes before we got there. We had to wait over 3 hours in the area where the luggage is held because a couple decided to leave the cruise on a sea day and no one knew until the ship arrived back in Long Beach.:eek: :eek:

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The Paradise and the golf ball! Ahhhhh, memories of my first cruise! Great review and pics, keep it coming. And no, Freddy definitely wasn't looking at your boarding pass! :p

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Thanks for all the pics, keep them coming!! Do you have a copy of the Fun Times?

 

I brought them all home. If you give me you're email address, I'll scan them and send them to you when I get to the end of the review. :)

 

~ Sheryl

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Nice review. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to read more.

 

Thanks for the nice compliment. You never know if people are going to be interested in a review. :)

 

~ Sheryl

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