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CruisinCrow

Carnival Paradise review with pictures

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I like to write journals of my travels so this was written for myself and my family, but I thought others might enjoy it too. A little about us - we are Susan and Ron from Florida. We're in our 40's and have taken a lot of cruises but mostly short weekend getaways. This was our first time on Paradise.

 

Off we go!

 

Fun on the Fun Ship Paradise

May 23-27

 

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Tampa

 

This wasn’t our first choice for a getaway. Ok, it wasn’t even our second or third choice. What I really, REALLY wanted to do this summer was to go to the Outer Banks, but Southwest discontinued their direct flights to Norfolk. Airfare made a long weekend trip to the Caribbean out of the question. Then we thought we would use airline miles to fly to Miami and take a cruise on the Carnival Victory. But American Airlines wouldn’t let us use our miles on the flights we wanted. Foiled by the airlines! We couldn’t fly and Ron didn’t want to drive, so we booked a trip on the Carnival Paradise out of Tampa.

 

We got to the port around 1 and were on the ship by 1:30. The first thing we did after dropping our bags in the cabin was head to the Elation Dining Room to change our dining assignment. Since we’d booked last minute, we were wait-listed for Your Time Dining. But our room card said we’d been assigned to Early Seating. That was not going to work! The maître d’ told us that Your Time Dining was full but at least he was able to switch us to Late Seating.

 

Next it was up to the pool deck to buy the soda package for Ron and a mojito for me. I’d read a great tip on the Cruise Critic Carnival forum that if you purchased one of the “classic cocktails”, you could get a $5 match-play card in the casino. I could have a mojito and play Black Jack with the cruise line’s money. Bonus!

 

With all the important business out of the way, we were off to explore the ship. Carnival ships are not what I would call beautiful, but Paradise was better than I was expecting. The theme for the ship was “Famous Ships of the World” so the public rooms had names like Normandie Theater, Queen Mary Lounge and Rotterdam Bar. I liked the color scheme, which had lots of reds and gold, and the paintings of ships by each elevator. The only thing I didn’t get were the huge blue “Faberge” eggs around the atrium. What did eggs have to do with ships? :)

 

 

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Edited by CruisinCrow

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We sailed the Paradise a few years ago when she was ported in Long Beach. We didn't understand the eggs either. :) Subscribed and looking forward to the rest of your review.

 

~ Sheryl

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At 3:15 it was time for the dreaded muster. It was the most orderly muster ever. Usually people are talking and partying so much that you can’t hear a word of the crew instructions, but this time everyone was sitting quietly. I thought that with all the recent cruise ship problems, people were finally starting to take the muster seriously. But then I looked around and realized that the reason it was so quiet was because everyone was playing with their cell phones.

 

After we set sail, Ron and I nabbed a couple of lounge chairs on the top deck and hung out until the ship passed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I always love sailing under the bridge. It’s amazing to see the ship’s smokestack clear the underside of the bridge with just a few meters to spare. The pilot boat met us at Egmont Key and we got to see the pilot climb down the ladder from the ship and onto the pilot boat. Neat! There were a couple of freighters waiting outside the channel for a pilot to take them into the bay.

 

 

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Going under the Skyway Bridge

 

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Egmont Key Lighthouse

 

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Edited by CruisinCrow

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Dinner was at 8:15. I’d forgotten that with traditional seating, we’d be sharing a table. Ugh! I wasn’t excited about having to make small talk while I was trying to eat. But we ended up with great table mates – two couples from Atlanta and Detroit who were about our age. We shared our alcohol smuggling techniques (some of us were more successful than others) and laughed a lot. Then we went to the casino for some Black Jack. I didn’t do very well so I stopped playing pretty quickly, but Ron played for two hours until we realized that it was after midnight and time for bed.

 

When we got to our cabin, we found an envelope from the Tour Desk under the door. We had booked the Amazing Secret River excursion, a tour of underground caves, for our day in Cozumel. We were supposed to go to the Secret River last year when we were in Cancun, but the day of the tour Ron was sick so we couldn’t go. I was really excited to see the caves finally, but instead of tour tickets the envelope had a letter saying that the tour had been cancelled because of “operational difficulties”. Nooooo, not again!!! And what the heck are operational difficulties?? I know, I know, you should never book a cruise for a particular tour because itineraries can change for any number of reasons. But I was seriously bummed!

Edited by CruisinCrow

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Sea Day

 

The next morning we ate breakfast at the Lido buffet while we tried to figure out what to do in Cozumel. Snorkel? Rent a jeep? Take a cooking class? Fortunately, Cozumel is one of those ports with lots of good options. Finally, we decided on the Mini Speed Boat Adventure. It sounded fun and different. With that settled, I could get on with enjoying our day at sea. :)

 

First, we changed into our workout clothes and headed for the gym. The treadmills were lined up in front of a wall of windows facing the bow. We had left the brown waters of Tampa Bay far behind and there was nothing ahead but beautiful blue. I even saw a few flying fish leaping out of the way of the ship. Nothing like a gym with a view!

 

After we’d walked off the chocolate melting cake from dinner, we went to the pool to relax. But there were NO lounge chairs. None. Nada. Not around the pool, not on the funnel deck, not in the adults-only Serenity area. There was a pile of broken chairs and people were taking them anyway, just to have a place to sit. The pool was packed. I’ve never seen so many people! This was definitely the most crowded ship we had ever been on. We ended up laying our towels on the bench around the hot tub. At least we were by the door to the atrium so when someone went in or out, we got a blast of air conditioning.

 

I spent the afternoon playing on the pool slide. While standing in line on the slide stairs, I bonded with the kids, who seemed to accept me as one of their own. We compared pedicures and they asked me about my waterproof camera. On most of the Fantasy-class Carnival ships, the pool slide has been replaced with a water park up on the Verandah deck. I was happy that Paradise hadn’t been “upgraded”. It was much more fun to splash into the pool. Wheeee!!!

 

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View from the top of the pool slide

 

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Standing room only in the pool

 

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That night (“Elegant Night”) we had two more people at our table, a cute young Indian couple who had switched from Early Seating. The food was good – stuffed mushrooms, a farfalle appetizer and fish for me, Surf and Turf for Ron and more chocolate melting cake. Since we hadn’t been having much luck at Black Jack, we decided to skip the casino and go to the theater instead. The show, “8 Seconds”, was a mishmash of random country songs and dancing. Ron wasn’t impressed with the male lead singer at all. I didn’t think he was bad; it was just clearly not his style of music. At the end of the show, the cruise director came out and performed “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on his fiddle. He was really good and definitely the highlight of the show.

Edited by CruisinCrow

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Here is a video of the pool slide. I know, I'm goofy but I was having fun. :)

 

I'm not sure I can embed the video so I just copied the link:

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GREAT info! Keep it coming. I just did a B-2-B aboard the beautiful "Paradise", and agree with about 99% of your thoughts, so far. I love the ship, and crew, and can't wait to get aboard again. The fact that Paradise hasn't been upgraded to 2.0 yet, makes it just that much better IMO. I want to sail her again and again before that upgrade takes place. :cool:

 

"SKY"

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continuing on....

 

Cozumel

 

I didn’t sleep at all that night. Hadn’t I learned anything in Cancun last year?? I can’t drink coffee after a late dinner! I gave up at 6:30, crawled out of bed and went up to the pool deck. The sky was just starting to lighten so I took some pictures of the pool and the Whale Tail. Suddenly there were half a dozen room stewards out on the deck, laying out towels on the lounge chairs. I was thinking it was a good thing I had finished taking pictures when I realized what they were doing. They were making towel animals! Pretty soon there was a whole zoo of towel animals across the deck. So cute! I walked back to the Serenity area to watch the sunrise. I was glad I was awake to see it. Eh, who needs sleep anyway?

 

 

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The ship docked in Cozumel at 9 o’clock, and Ron and I headed down to the pier to meet our tour group. We were a larger group than I was expecting – 17 altogether. Our guide, Julio, loaded us all into taxis for the 20-minute ride to the Barracuda Beach Club on the north end of the island. We watched an instructional video on how to operate the speedboats (not a problem for Ron) and Julio went over the hand signals. Then he fitted us with life jackets, snorkel masks and fins. Time to ride! We took off single-file at full throttle, zigzagging and going airborne over the waves. Ron was in his element; I was hanging on for dear life and hollering the whole way. :) But it was a blast.

 

 

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After about half an hour, we stopped to snorkel. Some of the group didn’t quite get the instructions to “put on your gear and get off your boat” so it took a while to get everyone in the water, which didn’t leave much time for snorkeling. The water was refreshing and crystal clear. We drifted along a shallow ledge and saw lots of sergeant majors, some chub and grunts and a few angel fish. Getting back to the boats was more challenging since we were swimming against the current. Fortunately, there was a safety rope that we could use to pull ourselves along.

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We sped back to the beach club and then had about an hour to relax in the little pool or eat an authentic Mexican lunch of chicken fajitas. There was also a cash bar with excellent margaritas and beer. We chilled on the swing chairs, and then Julio demonstrated how to make fresh salsa with homemade tortilla chips. What a great tour!

 

Barracuda Beach Club

 

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Paradise and Elation at Puerta Maya

 

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Ron finds a friend

 

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Edited by CruisinCrow

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It had been a full day so Ron and I really weren’t in the mood to get dressed up for a late dinner that night. I guess a lot of other people felt the same way because the dining room was half empty. We ate quickly and then took a walk around the deck. There was a beautiful, orange full moon rising over the ship. When we got back to our cabin, we found the cutest towel cow from our room steward, Jeffrey. After 20-some cruises, I thought I was over the towel animal thing but I really enjoyed them this trip. Maybe the pool slide had turned me back into a kid. We fell into bed and I slept like a rock.

 

 

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We sailed the Paradise a few years ago when she was ported in Long Beach. We didn't understand the eggs either. :) Subscribed and looking forward to the rest of your review.

 

~ Sheryl

The eggs are supposed to be 'Faberge eggs', or so I was told.

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Never sailed out of Tampa and never will....never been on Paradise and never will....but I LOVE reviews with pictures. Esp. of ships I have never been on. It's almost like being there! Thanks for sharing this! :cool:;)

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Thanks, All! I will try to finish this up now.

 

 

Last Sea Day

 

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Ron’s birthday! I hung a Happy Birthday banner over the bed and Ron opened the birthday cards I’d brought from home. Then we spent the day doing pretty much the same things we did on the first sea day. But this time we went to the pool earlier so we could actually get some lounge chairs. It wasn’t a problem that day – everyone must have been sleeping off their Mexican hangovers. A few more trips down the pool slide, a nap and another visit to the gym. The seas had gotten much rougher, which made using the treadmill quite a challenge. I had to hang onto the hand rails so I wouldn’t walk right off the side. The ship was rocking and rolling.

 

We got dressed for dinner early that night because the Late Seating show was at 7 o’clock. But we ended up going to the casino instead and totally missed the show. We made our daily donation at the Black Jack table and then went to the Rotterdam Bar so I could try the Mini Martini Tasting. There were eight different martinis to choose from and I picked Blackberry Bramble, Sea Blue, Florida Squeeze and Spicy Chipotle. I liked them all but my favorites were the Florida Squeeze and the Spicy Chipotle, which had vodka, pineapple juice and chipotle pineapple syrup – really different.

 

Rotterdam Bar

 

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From left to right: Spicy Chipotle, Blackberry Bramble, Florida Squeeze, Sea Blue

 

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Good thing it was dinnertime because I needed to soak up some of that alcohol! Everything on the menu looked delicious that night so I had trouble deciding what to order. I ended up with mushroom soup, crab cake, mahi mahi and chocolate amaretto cake. Yummy! After saying goodbye to our tablemates, we went to the adult comedy show. The comedian, Al Ernst, was hilarious and I laughed non-stop, although (as usual) I forgot all the jokes as soon as the show was over. Oh wait, wait, I remember one. He told us that the problem with working on a cruise ship is that you have to do multiple jobs. So he begged us to please carry off our bags in the morning because at midnight, he was going to turn into a short Indonesian man. :)

 

It was midnight again and time to head back to the cabin where we fell asleep to the light of the moon shining on the water.

 

 

Happy Cruising!

~Susan

 

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Edited by CruisinCrow

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Love your review, pictures and pedicure, especially the Carnival funnel toes. Thanks for sharing.

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GREAT info! Keep it coming. I just did a B-2-B aboard the beautiful "Paradise", and agree with about 99% of your thoughts, so far. I love the ship, and crew, and can't wait to get aboard again. The fact that Paradise hasn't been upgraded to 2.0 yet, makes it just that much better IMO. I want to sail her again and again before that upgrade takes place. :cool:

 

Only 99%? :) I really liked the pool slide better than the water park. On the other hand, it did leave less room in the pool.

 

Let's hope they keep the soft beds when they upgrade!

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Love your review, pictures and pedicure, especially the Carnival funnel toes. Thanks for sharing.

 

Thanks! I got the Carnival toes idea from Cruise Critic. I was wondering how many people actually noticed them. Whenever anyone commented, it was someplace where people were standing around and looking down, like muster or the elevator. :)

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K7S0QvtQdGFGL_3IQ4sFF6QibkYv7gaUQwTD03gM7AU=w282-h207-p-no

 

I think that's the same cat that was our friend for the day we were in Cozumel too!

Edited by Kangapong

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Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I'll be sailing her in 3 weeks. What did you end up doing in Grand Cayman?

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I noticed you are close to Platinum, if not already. If not, are you going to make it before year end?

 

Unfortunately, no. And since most of our cruises have been short ones, we're almost starting back at the beginning. I just can't see trying to spend thousands more this year just for those "free" perks. That would be an expensive baseball hat! :)

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