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Review: Carnival Paradise 12/1/12 5-Day Western Caribbean

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Preface/General/Get to know us

 

We’re a young married couple (24 and 25), and this was our fifth cruise with Carnival (my sixth overall, as seen in my signature). We’ve cruised out of Tampa twice before, and we loved the port. When we found (what we consider to be) a great deal on an oceanview room on this cruise, we decided to go for it as a second anniversary celebration.

 

I’ll admit in advance – we didn’t take any pictures. We haven’t really taken any on the last couple cruises since they all start to look the same after a while.

I’m going to split this into a few posts to make it a little easier to read.

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Days One, Two, Five– Embarkation/Days at sea

 

We’ve always stayed at hotels in the port city the night prior, partially because I prefer to remove as much doubt as possible with regard to getting to our cruises on time. In the past, we’ve stayed at Holiday Inn Rocky Point (thanks to recommendations from Cruise Critic). This particular night was significantly more expensive (~$45 night higher than normal), so we booked the Hyatt downtown using Priceline and parked with Capital Parking. Our experiences at both places were great (second stay at the Hyatt in Tampa).

Capital Parking was extremely smooth in getting us to the port. We left the hotel around 10:30 AM and headed to the mall to pick up some last minute items. We got to the Capital lot around 12:30 PM and were in a van on the way to the port within five minutes.

 

Embarkation was the most crowded it’s been on any of our cruises, but still moved smoothly due to the number of passengers that were in the terminal. We’ve always liked the Tampa terminal, and continue to like it after this cruise.

 

We don’t typically get involved in very many of the activities throughout, simply because I prefer to do “a bunch of nothing” when I’m on vacation. Because of that, not too much to report on our sea days. The pool area was the least crowded I’ve seen on any of our cruises, which I found pretty interesting. The weather was great.

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Day Three – Grand Cayman

 

My wife had originally planned to do a dolphin swim, but changed her mind as the cruise approached, so we just hung out in the port area (~.5 miles each way). We dropped into an internet café to make some quick travel plans for this weekend (12/8/12 Georgia Southern University Eagles vs Old Dominion University Monarchs in the NCAA FCS Football playoffs – check us out on ESPN at 12!). Aside from that, we visited a few small shops and dropped into a local bar to sample the “Caybrew” beer.

 

The past guest party was at 5 PM on this day, and it was great. The smaller venue and attendance makes for a better experience. Being able to (more easily) order any drink is a nice touch as well.

 

We’d originally had some confusion with our invitations, but it was quickly resolved with guest services, so all was well.

 

On that note – Desiree (potentially spelled wrong) from Guest Services deserves a special shout out for her amazing customer service with us on this matter.

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Day Four – Cozumel

 

We spent the day at Mr. Sanchos (second visit). As with our last visit, the bartenders were great, and the drinks were also (as much as they’re going to be with cheap liquor, anyways). It was quite a bit more crowded this time than last, but there were also four ships in port compared to only two on our last visit. Very understandable given that note. We spent a little time shopping for my wife a t-shirt (this was neglected on our last visit, so I had to make it up).

We docked at a different pier than our previous two visits (Punta Lagosta). I liked this one much better than Puerta Maya, but that’s all in one’s opinion.

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General items

 

Room steward - Outstanding as usual. Very personable. We did not have an ice bucket in our room upon arrival, so we asked him for one, but received a bucket (think bucket of beer) full of ice later. No big deal, as we don’t need a whole lot or anything. He brought one of those any time we requested it.

 

Dining – We did “Your-time” dining in the Elation dining room. We’ve done this program since it was available, and vastly prefer to the assigned seating, as we prefer to dine at different times depending on what’s going on at night. Our waiters were very attentive and did a great job. We only had one bad dish out of the five nights onboard – the fried fish fillet. After putting some thought into it later, that’s the type of thing that it’s kind of hard to mass-prepare, so I can see where the shortfall would occur. No big deal. I had the melting cake every night (as I always do), and it was as usual – very good. My wife tried something different each night, culminating in her favorite on the final night – baked Alaska. The buffets/pizza for lunch were as usual – pretty good.

 

Note on seating – if you want to sit alone during the day (lunch/breakfast) we found that you had to request a table for two, otherwise we were sat with a group. No big deal.

 

Debarkation – Seemed to be a little late, for some reason, but we didn’t really have anywhere to be today, so it wasn’t too big of a deal for us. I believe we left the ship at 8:40 (first group of self-assist passengers). We moved quickly through all lines (no alcohol/cigarette purchases, so that helped) and were out of the terminal in no time. We called Capital Parking as soon as we walked out of the terminal, and he was at our meeting place shortly after we arrived.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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Thanks for the review man, appreciative of the feedback from an experienced cruiser. My new wife(married on 11/30/12) and I are taking this same trip on 12/10/12 for our honeymoon. We're early 30's, so a bit older than you and your wife, but otherwise, I'm a fan of relaxing and not over planning things. We do have an excursion in both the Grand Cayman and near Cozumel(Stingray City and a Mayan Ruins all day tour), but otherwise I'm all about relaxing, just enjoying the warm weather(We're in Chicago and it's nearly below freezing as I type this) and just enjoying each others company after a hectic time wedding planning the past few months.

 

Hoping we'll love this and become multiple time cruisers ourselves, thanks again.

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Day Three – Grand Cayman

 

My wife had originally planned to do a dolphin swim, but changed her mind as the cruise approached, so we just hung out in the port area (~.5 miles each way). We dropped into an internet café to make some quick travel plans for this weekend (12/8/12 Georgia Southern University Eagles vs Old Dominion University Monarchs in the NCAA FCS Football playoffs – check us out on ESPN at 12!). Aside from that, we visited a few small shops and dropped into a local bar to sample the “Caybrew” beer.

 

The past guest party was at 5 PM on this day, and it was great. The smaller venue and attendance makes for a better experience. Being able to (more easily) order any drink is a nice touch as well.

 

We’d originally had some confusion with our invitations, but it was quickly resolved with guest services, so all was well.

 

On that note – Desiree (potentially spelled wrong) from Guest Services deserves a special shout out for her amazing customer service with us on this matter.

 

Thanks for your review. Aren't you supposed to Capitalize SHOUT OUT? :):):):)

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Thanks for the great review. We are in our 50's and really still new to cruising. We are looking at the 5 days out of Tampa Cruise too;) as we are not too far from there (4 hrs) and I especially appreciate that note about the park and ride with the Hotel. DH is not really into the excursions all that much - mostly just into relaxing and checking out the ports on foot.

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Thanks for the great review. We are in our 50's and really still new to cruising. We are looking at the 5 days out of Tampa Cruise too;) as we are not too far from there (4 hrs) and I especially appreciate that note about the park and ride with the Hotel. DH is not really into the excursions all that much - mostly just into relaxing and checking out the ports on foot.

 

That sounds a lot like us, except we're half the age :-) we got an early start.

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