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Hello, Havana! Nicole721's Full PICTORIAL Review of the Paradise 4-Day to Cuba


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We walked off our dinner by browsing our way through the shops. There were some generic Cuba souvenirs on display, but nothing incredibly unique. Back at the room, my Platinum gift was waiting on my bed – a travel Bluetooth speaker.

 

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The entertainment for the evening was a Playlist Production show of Amor Cubano, which I’ve seen a handful of times on other ships. I still really enjoy this show. It was high energy and the cast was really fantastic.

 

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There was also a Fiesta Deck Party following the second performance and I always intend to go to these parties, but I also always fall asleep taking a quick rest for just a minute if I go back to the room after a show. Keri and I strapped on our shoes and rallied, making our way up to the deck party in the hopes of finding some tacos (no go), but we did find the late night grill offering burgers and hot dogs. As we were taking in the music from the party, I could barely keep my eyes open and I honestly couldn’t fathom how Jaime, our Cruise Director, wasn’t balled up in the corner falling asleep. She was up on deck greeting guests in the morning, she taught a full Zumba class in the afternoon and now here, in the middle of the night, she was onstage dancing…in HEELS! If anyone figures out how to bottle and sell that much energy, give me a buzz because I’m definitely buying.

 

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But because energy doesn’t come in a bottle yet, my eyes were halfway closed before we even left the Lido deck. Thankfully, we had a sea day to rest and recharge before this all came to an end.

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I am! We leave for Barcelona two weeks from Thursday :D Just bought my wifi package so I can Instagram the trip ;)

 

Great review. Cuba is on my bucket list. Are you on the Horizon? We are on the 3rd sailing and would love to follow your Instagram.

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Dinner was decent. Our servers were super friendly and attentive, and those stuffed mushrooms are always a hit (seriously – Y to the UM!), but I’m pretty sure I had a steak every night because nothing else on the entrée menus really appealed. I swear, I eat more steak on a single cruise than I do in the entire six months leading up to it.

 

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Do I see a table cloth? Do we need to open a new thread:rolleyes:?.....LoL Great review!

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That's very kind of you to say! Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Glad it was helpful! One other thing to note: keep a detailed account of everything you do and keep receipts of everything. I had applied for Global Entry ahead of our trip to Barcelona for the Horizon and had my in person interview today, and my acceptance is on hold pending their review of my visa compliance for this trip. By law, you are supposed to keep a detailed account for five years after your trip. Hopefully, the details I provided were enough, but definitely a reminder to keep those itineraries, receipts, etc!

Just because you went to Cuba? Wow! I wish you a speedy approval. Thanks again for the info.

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My gosh I am loving your review and now I REALLY want to go to Cuba. Awesome pictures also, what kind of camera are you using for your pictures? They're so vivid. Also I am glad I'm not the only one who eats flat iron every single night on a cruise. haha!

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Just joining the fun, loving the review!

 

Thank you!

 

Great review. Cuba is on my bucket list. Are you on the Horizon? We are on the 3rd sailing and would love to follow your Instagram.

 

I am! We leave for Barcelona two weeks from...right now! And you are totally welcome to follow me! :) My username is nicolesonthego and my account is totally public.

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Do I see a table cloth? Do we need to open a new thread:rolleyes:?.....LoL Great review!

 

Ha!

 

I wonder how much it will change after dry dock...

 

I don't know what changes are planned, but I hope they're adding a Blue Iguana Cantina :D

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I know where all the old Chevy's go to die. Most of the cars I saw in your pics are from the 50's.

 

Thanks for the post as I was on the Paradise right before you.

 

Ain't that the truth! I was amazed how well the cars still run despite the fact that they're nearly twice my age!

 

 

Oh cool - I just finished your cruise that went to Russia like a week ago - good to see another up!

 

Trying to get them all out before we leave for Barcelona! I just started a new review on my blog about the Splendor. I'll bring it over here once I wrap up this Cuba review! :)

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Great review. Thanks for sharing!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Just because you went to Cuba? Wow! I wish you a speedy approval. Thanks again for the info.

 

Yeah! It was so odd, too. In the past year, I also went to Russia and Mexico. I've been to Turkey twice in the past three years. All they cared about was Cuba. Go Figure.

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My gosh I am loving your review and now I REALLY want to go to Cuba. Awesome pictures also, what kind of camera are you using for your pictures? They're so vivid. Also I am glad I'm not the only one who eats flat iron every single night on a cruise. haha!

 

Thank you! Most of these are from my Nikon D7000. A handful are from my iPhone 7+. I just ordered a new camera for our Horizon cruise that's smaller than the Nikon and should be easier to tote around, so hopefully the quality of pictures isn't too far off :)

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Day 5: Sea Day

 

Up to this point, I had never been on a cruise as short as this four day Havana cruise. And while I’m sure I’ve been on cruises that only had one sea day, we also usually repurpose a port day for an island we’ve visited numerous times before as a sea day (I’m looking at you, Grand Turk). I’ve never tried to cram everything I usually do onboard during a week long voyage into one day.

 

But you know, there’s a first time for everything.

 

Because we didn’t have a port to explore this day, Keri and I decided to give ourselves one big whopping extra hour of sleep, setting our alarms for 8:15 am instead of the 7:15 am wake up calls we’d been doing in Cuba. First up on the sea day cramfest? Sea Day Brunch. I had a VIFP free drink coupon to redeem, and Sea Day Brunch was the only time on this voyage where filet mignon was anywhere on any of the menus. Is 8:30 in the morning too early for steak and booze? Well, in the wise words of Jimmy Buffet, it’s five o’clock somewhere.

 

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After brunch, we grabbed our swim gear and headed upstairs to deck 11. Something most people didn’t seem to realize was that the main pool and the Serenity hot tubs were not the only swimming areas on the Paradise – there was also a pool and an expansive deck on deck 11 aft. An expansive deck that was just about empty.

 

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I’d been going back and forth all cruise long on if our cruise was just not at capacity (understandable given that Hurricane Irma was just a week and a half prior) or if the passenger to space ratio was better on the Paradise, which still does not have the Funship 2.0 enhancements. I think it was probably a little of both, but I certainly was not complaining.

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I didn’t last long in the sun – I had a bit of sunburn left from our last day in Havana and the late Fall humidity was absolutely killer. I’m not big on public pools and I didn’t want to travel home with a wet swimsuit, but I came pretty close to throwing my goggles to the wind because the heat and humidity was pretty oppressive. I had sweated off my sunscreen within minutes of putting it on and as soon as I was toweling the sweat off my skin, a glistening new layer would appear.

 

I was done with the pool deck after an hour, but that was a-okay because there was plenty on my list of things to do. Keri stayed at the pool and I headed back to the room to shower off and change.

 

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As short as this cruise was, I really wanted to spend as much time watching the water as I could. It might sound completely lame, but one of my favorite parts of cruising is literally just being on the water. I could (and do) spend hours just watching the ocean when we cruise, completely mesmerized by the endless horizon and the latticework of the water as it ricochets off the ship. The Paradise isn’t really the best ship for water watching – there aren’t a ton of outdoor spaces with great ocean views (and even fewer indoor spaces), so I had to take to walking around deck 11 to get in my water time on this ship.

 

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Keri and I met up for a quick lunch of piping hot De Chevre pizza. I prefer the newer pizza Carnival serves on just about all of its ships, but this tasty blast from the past was a nice slice of old cruise nostalgia.

 

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Our afternoon was packed with activities, but I expected no less sailing with Jaime Dee. Every time I’ve sailed with her, the Fun Times are jam packed with activities. First one on our list was the Q&Awesome, a Q&A with Jaime and the Fun Squad about life on the ship. Did you know that guest fraternization is only one of SEVEN terminable offenses? Now you do. You’re welcome.

 

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After the Q&Awesome was tea time, my favorite activity. On the Paradise, it’s held in the America piano bar and, oddly enough, everyone I saw in the room (and there were not many) had a Platinum or Diamond card. We chatted with a woman at the table next to us, reminiscing on when tea time had white glove service, a full array of complimentary teas to choose from and a string quartet playing live music. Things certainly have changed in the past ten years, but I’m happy enough that this activity still exists at all – it’s still my fave sea day activity!

 

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Name That Beatles Tune followed tea time. No musical theater trivia for me to dominate this time, but I made a strong showing with my knowledge of Beatles tunes (thanks to many viewings of Across the Universe and all those cruises we took on the Miracle where Ticket to Ride was the Playlist show!).

 

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With the later afternoon hours bringing some (slightly) cooler air, Keri and I headed back to the aft pool deck with our books to get in some reading time al fresco before dinner. The aft pool stayed relatively empty all day, and with tons of deck space, it could be the perfect spot on the Paradise to enjoy those ocean views (as long as you don’t mind that there’s a makeshift basketball court on the near side of the deck!).

 

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We made a quick stop at the room to freshen up for dinner and made a quick stop at the Taste Bar for some Blue Iguana bites. The Taste Bar was set up on days 1, 3 and 4 and all three days featured bites from restaurants that did not exist on the ship. A welcome reminder of some of my favorite Carnival eateries, but an odd experience for newer cruisers who may not have known what these places were.

 

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Our final dinner in the Elation Dining Room was just about the same as all of the other dinners we had this cruise – the shorter menus are not my favorite as they they heavily featured seafood (and if it comes from the sea, it’s not for me). To be honest, if they had the steakhouse onboard, I probably would have paid to eat there every night. As it was, our options were the main dining room, the Lido buffet or room service and everything we had in the dining room was good, we just felt limited in our options.

 

Baked Meatballs

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Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Flat Iron Steak

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Passion Fruit Flan

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The last night always means packing, and even with a shorter cruise, packing was no less awful. Thankfully, there was another Playlist Production show to distract us – Epic Rock. I’ve seen Epic Rock more times than I can count, but I think it really is one of the better Playlist shows. The set list is great, the LCD sets aren’t horribly misused or distracting and it’s super high energy.

 

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After the show, though, we couldn’t put off packing for much longer. The rum I had purchased in Havana was delivered just before 10:00 pm, just in time to get packed into my checked luggage!

 

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Keri and I did a final lap around the ship, putting our leftover cash towards our onboard accounts and enjoying some of the live music on the promenade. We parted ways after a bit – Keri heading off to go to bed and I stayed out for a bit longer. Our room was warmer than we would have preferred and the staterooms onboard the Paradise do not have individual thermostats (rather, they have air flow controls on the ceiling vent), so I headed up to the Lido deck, where there was a bar playing a football game (go…team) and there was heavy air conditioning and an ice cream machine.

 

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And when I couldn’t avoid sleep any longer, I headed back to the room and to bed. The last night is almost torturous. It’s gotten better throughout the years – almost every time I leave a cruise, I already have another one booked, but there’s just something about leaving and the looming stress of the travel day ahead.

 

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There is one thing that always makes the last night better though: the impending return of my cellular data. And with the ship inching me closer and closer to full access to everything the social media package blocked me from all weekend, suddenly going to bed and closing the book on this cruise didn’t seem so bad after all.

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