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Vigorosity

Michelle’s Journey to Paradise – 2/28/13

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Greetings from Knoxville, Tennessee!

 

 

Thanks for stopping in. Have a seat. I’m Michelle, a college sophomore originally from Ohio, with a deep desire to get away for a short spring break-ish type vacation. This trip was with Jason, another college student with as much (if not more) of a longing to see some sunshine. I’ve cruised once before on the Fascination two years ago and have been craving another one every day since! I booked this trip three weeks in advance, so that may be last minute to you guys (to me, that’s an eternity!) Let’s get started, shall we?

 

 

The Booking:

 

 

After the idea of a cruise was tossed around and I searched for two weeks, we booked what I thought was a pretty decent resident deal for a guarantee oceanview. With taxes, it ran to $572 for both of us for a four day trip to Cozumel on the Carnival Paradise. We ended up with a main deck cabin on the starboard side. I then started my extensive research of what to do in Cozumel!

 

 

 

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The Drive:

 

 

We started out around 11pm on February 27th, headed toward Tampa. Jason had to close that night at his job, much to his dismay. The first part was pretty uneventful for me, seeing as I am a damn good sleeper during car trips. Around the morning time February 28th, I was slightly awake and we were both craving something to drink and food more substantial than off-brand cheese dippers.

 

 

 

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So we get off the interstate somewhere close to Podunk, Georgia. Little to our knowledge, we had landed in a new part of America where you get absolutely nothing your way. An iced coffee, a parfait and a hot caramel mocha doesn’t sound too complicated to me, but somehow a ghetto McDonalds (which was halfway through a renovation in which some odd years ago it used to be a gas station) managed to mess it up. After being denied a refund twice and still having a freezing “hot” coffee and frozen-solid strawberries, we left it in the parking lot and finagled our way to Burger King. This is how this conversation went.

 

 

 

Jason: “Can I get a hot caramel mocha?” (It’s definitely on the menu)

Angry Woman: “No.”

Jason: “Uhhh…do you have any hot coffee?”

 

 

After receiving terrible coffee for the second time, we figured it was time to hightail it out of there. Pulling out of their weird parking lot we saw an old gas station, which apparently it was easier to tape the trash up rather than throw it away.

 

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Low and behold the first actual picture I’ve taken on this trip.

 

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….and the second.

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I am so laughing! I know a town like that in Kansas. Guess every state has one. Can't wait for the rest.

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The Drive:

 

It was far too early to find that entire situation anything but hilarious. So we trooped on and made our way to Tampa. This is apparently how I feel about everything, including the first sighting of palm trees and sunny weather…



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I had booked in advance with Capital Parking for $30 for four days with the discount code “cruise4” It was pretty simple to find and not very far away from the port at all! It was a gated, gravel parking lot, but seemingly in a really nice area. On the way, I did a little whale-watching (the ship’s tale, not people!)…



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The man who drove the shuttle was very kind, helped us with our bags (we both easily packed only a carryon!), and whisked us off to port. He dropped us off and we were ready to go through security!

 

The Embarkation:

 

This was all too simple. Check your passports, go up the elevator, run your carryon through the scanner, go to the desk to get your sail and sign cards, take a silly photo….



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….then you are on the ship!

 

The First Night:

 

We were on the ship around 1pm or so and we were able to make our way straight to the room! Down the never-ever ending hallway, we finally arrived. First on our agenda was messing up the bed….



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…by jumping on it!

 

Note: This is not recommended for anyone taller than 5’4”.

 

After a quick showers, warmer clothes and a few final calls home, it was time for the best part of the cruise…food! (I’m just gonna lump drinks into this category, too. Afterall, it’s a food group.) We got a little from the Italian buffet and a slice of margherita pizza. The fish from the buffet stood out and the pizza is ALWAYS welcome. Oh yeah, I always feed the sky-rats whenever I get a chance, probably making enough people mad…

 



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The First Night:

 

After exploring the ship a little, we decided that it was now or never. The waterslide was empty. The day was as hot as it was going to get….and the waterslide was as cold as it was going to get! It was also very, very slow. It doesn’t look too big, but it seems to take forever before it spits you out into a tub of freezing salt water. We dried off and decided to roast in the sun for a bit….and reward ourselves with our first drinks!



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This is a Mango Twist. Jason got a Mocha Chocolate Getaway (which was far too alcoholic for him to really enjoy.) Shortly after, it was time to go to the beloved Mustard Drill. We were stationed in the aft lounge, so we got to sit in those round, mustard-colored couches. These are our feelings towards this whole ordeal…



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….can you tell who the first time cruiser is? Lol!

 

We decided to treat ourselves to another drink, seeing as we had to sit through that terrible vacation-ruining safety briefing. We went back to the room, ordered a corkscrew through room service, grabbed wine and went to watch the sail-away. Jason got himself the Cruiser drink (don’t let that fool you, it’s pretty much a Sex on the Beach). Goodbye, Tampa!



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Tired from the drive, Jason decided a nap was in order. Since I generally have too much energy, I went up to watch the sunset and the crossing under the bridge. It was just a little windy up on the top deck, though.



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The bridge really does look like it’s going to hit.



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I grabbed some strawberry neapolitan (this is heavenly!) from the dessert station, realized someone drank all of the wine from my glass, and figured I should head back to the room to jump on the bed once more and wake up Jason for dinner.

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I mean no disrespect, but in your first picture, you seem to have a "what did I get myself into" look on your face, standing next to a cardboard cut out! LOL

 

I hope you have a great time!

Edited by me & my peeps

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Thanks for the kind words, guys!

 

 

I mean no disrespect, but you seem to have a "what did I get myself into" look on your face, standing next to a cardboard cut out! LOL

 

I hope you have a great time!

 

Hahah. That's my natural look as I go through life.

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Loving your review! Looking forward to the rest of it. We too will be driving to Tampa and sailing on the Paradise-in 13 days! Sure hope we don't stop at that McDonalds on the way :)

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Loving your review. :D Looking forward to my own Paradise in June. Thanks for posting your review and any hints/tips.

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The First Night:

 

The sun wasn’t quite down, so I dragged Jason up to the top deck to finish watching it. It was really nice to sit back and enjoy a sunset without having to see it in your rearview mirror as you drive home from work.



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Sadly, I don’t have many food pictures from this trip because most of it didn’t stand a chance. I took it as a personal challenge to taste every food I wanted. Tonight, I had escargot (really, what doesn’t taste good covered in butter). I also had the lasagna. This has to be some crazy, hidden, well-kept secret of Carnival or something. What is in this? Where can I find the recipe or marry the chef or something? Jason had the beef brisket, which was very tender and good, too! We finished by sharing none other than a chocolate melting cake. Our server for this night was Louis and we ADORED him. He joked, laughed, and his assistant was super cute, too. This was also the first of very, very many attempts of Carnival employees inquiring about Jason’s ethnicity. (And of course, the start of my teasing that he should be working on a cruise ship, too)



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We went to a game show for a minute and I wasn’t interested (blame my goldfish attention span). So Jason went to get a few drinks. He got me a Hurricane Wave and….boy, was it good. This is the only drink I repeated over the entire course of the cruise, if that tells you something. Jason ended up ordering his favorite drink/shot, a Buttery Nipple. This is also where he met the atrium bartender, Lala. (Her actual name was much more complicated and started with an S). Throughout the cruise, she remembered our names and would shout a nice “hello” when she saw us in a hallway or something.

 

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We took our drinks and ended up finding karaoke to watch for a little while. On our cruise there rather large group of people with special needs (and a large group of belly dancers but I digress), and a few got up to sing. It was honestly so dang inspiring. Faced with more challenges than the average person, here these people were on a cruise and having MORE fun than I was. I think all of my complaining rights were taken away that night.

 

After immediately watching a train wreck of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ (just kidding…if you are out there reading, you had some very nice pelvic thrusts), we decided it was time for some more drinks. A Tiramisu Martini and two Buttery Nipples. Now if you are thinking to yourself “Man, what else are you guys doing other than drinking?”….well, you might be right. Come on, it’s vacation. The first day of vacation.

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The Second Day:

 

After I passed out at an early 11pm that night, Jason did…well, whatever he wanted. I woke up early the next morning around 6am. Who in the world would have thought that almost nothing goes on that early? I stumbled upon this real creepy seal statue in front of the fun shops…



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I settled on getting some juice and fruit, then exploring the ship on my own. I got room service menus from guest services (they weren’t in our cabin). I also requested for a Snoozin’/Cruisin’ door hanger. Our room didn’t get cleaned the night before because they came around while Jason was napping. A towel animal was sorely missed. I went back, showered, got ready for the day, and woke up Jason around 10:00ish. Jason got breakfast and I was ready for pizza again. (By the way, there’s a little doorbell for pizza.) This time it was the pan pizza and….yep, I’m a fan. At some point we found the pictures from the previous day….



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We figured it was a good time to go shopping…and so did about 2,000 of our new best friends, since it was rainy and misty for the most part of the day. We ended up with a golden necklace set and a blue/yellow tie, both from the $10 shop….to get ready for formal night! Before heading back to our room, I persuaded a reluctant Jason to try the martini tasting with me at the Rotterdam bar. He typically hates martinis because they tend to…you know, taste like alcohol. We ended up with the Melon Crush, Pomegranate Breeze, Blue Sky, and Spicy Chipotle. Much to our surprise, we both fell in love with the spicy one!

 

We then checked out the art auction to see what it was all about. Sure, there is some nice art in there but even they are upfront that 90% of it isn’t original. Then, it was lunch time and we had some great seafood fritters and pepper pot soup from the Caribbean buffet! After our really rough day, thankfully we discovered that one of the hot tubs in Serenity gets really hot. Some like it hot.

 

Hopping out of the hot tub (which by the way is a great place to make friends since everyone is already close to naked,) we took a really long time differentiating between port (left) and starboard (right), we found out that we could smoke a Black and Mild at the forward, starboard side on the lido. Jason tried a pretty Twilight Zone, which was very sweet…

 



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…and I got a Tequila Sunrise to prepare for Mexico the following day.



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After taking a short nap, it was time to play dress up! Jason looked really cute in his yellow pants, blue shirt, and matching tie. I paled in comparison in a LBD and my shiny new necklace. We had tried to request our previous wait staff, but they were all booked up. We instead got a very formal and prompt service from someone new. I got the strawberry bisque and lobster. I didn’t think either of

those were anything to write home about. However, Jason and I got a prime rib to share...it was really, really good. Dessert was bitter and blanc tonight. Again, fabulous.

 

We marched our full bellies over to the theatre to see Eight More Seconds. It was fascinating how the same singers and dancers can perform that long. (Also, I got kinda bored halfway, through…that’s just me, though.) The ship was also rockin’ and rollin’ along with the music. A special shout out to whoever puked on the Promenade! I wish I could tell you guys about how I stayed up really late and partied at Rex Nightclub all night long…but I called it an early night again….Mexico was tomorrow!

 

Oh, and we got our first unidentifiable towel animal!



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GREAT review, that I'm enjoying very, very much. I did "Paradise" in December, and have booked again for April, so I'm really interested in any changes, and in how much you enjoyed, or didn't enjoy everything. Thanks for posting, and keep it coming! :cool:

 

"SKY"

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The Third Day:

 

It was here and I was jumping for joy. I was so excited about getting to tick another country off my ever-growing list. I was equally excited for a beach, tequila, and a tan (more like a sunburn, but...hey, close enough.) Of course, I was out of bed way before we docked, showered, found breakfast, and ready to jump off the boat before 8am. Jason, however, was still fast asleep. Again dragging him out of bed, up the stairs, and pumping an IV of coffee into his system, we watched our lovely boat dock on the International Pier.

 

Also, we had the absolute most pleasant surprise of the whole trip! For the entire week, the weather forecast predicted rain all day. Making me entirely happy, it looked like a nice partly cloudy!



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I eagerly ran from side to side of the boat, watching the ropes get put in place. (From the textiles class I’m in, I know the biggest rope is called a hawser!)



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The water is so so blue that I can’t stand it. After a lot of confusion on where to get off the boat, me being cranky that I wasn’t off the boat, we eventually found out that there are two openings on the portside (left) middle and forward all the way at the bottom! The forward one seemed much faster than the middle one. I was able to dodge pirates, mariachi bands and what looked like peter pan for pictures…Jason ironically wasn’t so fortunate, as he hates pictures.

 

FINALLY. We were here. The long anticipated day. We had previously decided to wing it and rent a Jeep somewhere. This was really, really simple. You just walk down the pier, around the little shops and there are Jeep rentals. We chose Avis as it is an American car rental place and our total came to $110 with 110% full coverage. Beware, that you have to be able to drive stick shift for a Jeep, although there were other automatic offerings (smart car, minivan, etc.) After a really quick inspection of the Jeep and throwing the top off, we were now cruising in Mexico!

 

Avis had given us a newspaper map that was pretty helpful, but I had also downloaded some onto my phone. (Near the city I got wonderful reception, by the way. It’s expensive to use, though!) Hearing all about how everyone adored the Cozumel Bar Hop, I wanted to recreate something similar for ourselves. All Jason carried about was actually driving the Jeep; he let me make all of the decisions on where to stop. First up was Rasta’s.



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Unfortunately, it was way too early for the bar to be open. We had explored around a little bit, anyway. The view out of the weird, little alter thing by Rasta’s….



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Even though there wasn’t any rain, there was a ton of wind! I was wearing Jason’s hat that day and it blew straight out into the ocean. Go figure that we happened to be looking out over the rocky part! That looked something like this…



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….in case you were worried, we managed to get it back after about 15 minutes of chasing it. It was probably just trying to cool off with the gorgeous weather that was beaming upon us!

Edited by Vigorosity

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Love your little review! What a great idea to rent a Jeep in Cozumel and do your own "bar hop". My DD is on the Paradise now spending her Spring Break. ;)

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Loving your review! Looking forward to the rest of it. We too will be driving to Tampa and sailing on the Paradise-in 13 days! Sure hope we don't stop at that McDonalds on the way

 

I wish I could remember what exit it was...but there were a lot of billboards promoting it before we stopped. I'm talking this place is bad. There is a motel that is easily enough titled "Motel" and a police station beside McDonalds with only old logs to mark between the parking lots.

 

Loving your review. Looking forward to my own Paradise in June. Thanks for posting your review and any hints/tips.

 

Yay! Keep the review coming, lots of pics please! Sailing on her on April 15!

 

Liking your review

 

GREAT review, that I'm enjoying very, very much. I did "Paradise" in December, and have booked again for April, so I'm really interested in any changes, and in how much you enjoyed, or didn't enjoy everything. Thanks for posting, and keep it coming!

 

Thanks, you guys! If you have any questions, feel free.

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Love your little review! What a great idea to rent a Jeep in Cozumel and do your own "bar hop". My DD is on the Paradise now spending her Spring Break. ;)

 

It was wonderful renting a Jeep! It was cheaper than the price of two people, we got to go at our own pace, and we stopped at more places than they did. (Plus, we didn't have to pay for a taxi to meet them downtown!) We actually saw people from the bar hop as we were leaving Coconuts. They seemed to be having enough fun, though! :) The only drawback is that someone has to stay sober enough to drive, which wasn't much of a problem for us!

 

Anyway, hope your daughter is having as much fun right now as I did. I am already planning another cruise with either family or friends, lol! :p

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Loving your review as well! Great pictures and looks like you just enjoy life. BTW, you are the only people other than SO I know that smokes B&M. He got kicked out of the casino for smoking them, did not realize only cigarette smoking was allowed in there.

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Enjoying your review! There aren't enough of the Paradise! I'll be on her in a month! We have to drive practically the same route you do to get there. Must find that town! It wasn't Perry Ga was it? There are like a million billboards for that place!

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Loving your review as well! Great pictures and looks like you just enjoy life. BTW, you are the only people other than SO I know that smokes B&M. He got kicked out of the casino for smoking them, did not realize only cigarette smoking was allowed in there.

 

I don't see an option other than enjoying life! And tell your husband to try the Royale Black and Milds if he hasn't. (With the wood tip, of course!)

 

Enjoying your review! There aren't enough of the Paradise! I'll be on her in a month! We have to drive practically the same route you do to get there. Must find that town! It wasn't Perry Ga was it? There are like a million billboards for that place!

 

After a little researching, I found out that it was Exit 39 off of I-75. A terrible little place called Adel, Georgia. Enjoy! ;)

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I don't see an option other than enjoying life! And tell your husband to try the Royale Black and Milds if he hasn't. (With the wood tip, of course!)

 

 

 

After a little researching, I found out that it was Exit 39 off of I-75. A terrible little place called Adel, Georgia. Enjoy! ;)

 

NOT MY HUSBAND, we are both happily divorced, LOL. He does smoke the wood tips, I am not sure about Royale, is that a brand?

 

Anyway loving your review, who needs to be productive at work, that is so over rated

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