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CabinForFour

PARADISE Western Review - March 21

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What a wonderful cruise! I have posted a ton of photos at Webshots, if anyone is interested...Paradise Cruise Photos

 

This was our 10th Carnival cruise, and we set sail on March 21 from Miami with two other couples. All of us were celebrating our tenth anniversaries on this cruise. This was the first cruise for the other two couples.

 

EMBARKATION

Our flight from Columbia, SC, to Atlanta left at 6:00 AM the morning of embarkation. All of our flights and transfers went smoothly, and we arrived at Miami International Airport at 10:15 AM. After claiming our massive pile of luggage, we hopped on a shuttle to the port and arrived at the Carnival terminal at the Port of Miami shortly before 11:30. There was almost no one there, so we completed the FunPass check-in process and were carded, photographed and onboard within 20 minutes! Wow!

 

We had originally booked an oceanview guarantee, but our wonderful TA had secured three adjacent cabins for us just off the atrium on the Empress deck (E75, E77, and E79). After crossing the gangway, we turned immediately to our left, walked about 15 yards and found our cabins. The Internet café was located in the atrium area just steps from our cabins, and the dining room and main show lounge was located on the deck immediately above ours. It seemed like everything on the ship was so convenient to these rooms, and there was no excessive noise from foot traffic coming from the atrium. Awesome! Thanks, Sam!

 

We met our cruising companions on the Lido deck for pizza as we watched the busy port below. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ship, registering for shore excursions, unpacking, and getting ready for the first of many delicious dinners. We attended the mandatory lifeboat drill, but unfortunately, the ship started sailing before the drill was over. When the drill ended, we were able to get on deck in time to enjoy most of the sailaway.

 

THE SHIP AND STAFF/CREW

 

This was our first cruise aboard the Paradise, and we really enjoyed the smoke-free atmosphere. It is unfortunate to see that ending, and the ship's staff and crew expressed extreme disappointment in losing this distinction in their "home." The ship itself was beautiful and in great condition. Since our last four cruises had been aboard Destiny-class ships, it took a while for us to re-acquaint ourselves with the layout of this ship. We did miss the balcony cabins on this ship but not as much as we thought we might.

 

On this evening, we met our wonderful dining room staff, Lee from Korea and Ketut from India (Elation Dining Room, Table 135). They were the best waiters we’ve had since our beloved Benito on our New Years cruise in 1999! They were so friendly and super-efficient! We had usually finished our entire meal within the first hour, and yet we never felt rushed. Ketut knew each of us by name by the second night, and Lee spent the week entertaining us with his origami frogs and dollar-bill jewelry. They were wonderful, and we wished so much to bring them home with us.

 

We did notice that the menus had changed somewhat since we last cruised in October. Most of the favorites remained, but there were some new additions and some deletions from the usual fare. Everything was still excellent and super-yummy.

 

Our CD was Josh Riffe, who had been the social host for one of our previous cruises. He was wonderful! Unlike some CDs, his stage presence seems so genuine, and we thoroughly enjoyed sailing with him.

 

We chose this particular ship and its Exotic Western Caribbean itinerary because of its ports. The only negative aspect of the itinerary was that three of the four ports involved tendering to shore at one time or another. Nonetheless, the ports were fabulous, and the overall weather was great! Although the tender rides to shore were pretty bumpy, I noticed very little movement on the ship itself throughout the week.

 

BELIZE

 

The ship anchored six miles (yes, six MILES—whew!) offshore, and we then tendered onto the shore in smaller boats. DH and I took the ship-sponsored excursion to the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, which are located at the western border of Belize only two miles from the neighboring country of Guatemala. Since our excursion involved significant travel time, we were some of the first people off the ship. The tender ride seemed very rough and long, but our 90-minute ride across Belize was aboard a nice Greyhound-type bus. Our tour guide gave an amusing and informative introduction to the country, its history, and its culture. The 90-minute bus ride went very quickly, and we arrived at Xunantunich just as it started raining. Argh!

 

The rain fell harder and harder. By the time we walked up the hill to the ruins, it was pouring. There go my fantasies of photographing the site against a beautiful blue sky and being able to see into Guatemala from the top of El Castillo. The site was amazing nonetheless. We climbed to the top of the castle in the pouring rain and then explored the smaller buildings nearby. The buildings are constructed of white limestone and must have been so beautiful when they were new. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to explore the outlying areas of the site because of the weather.

 

We explored the site for a while and then ferried back across the river to our bus for a late lunch at nearby Windy Hill Resort. Keep in mind, of course, that the term “resort†in Belize is used very loosely. Think one-step-above-cheap-hotel-in-Myrtle-Beach resort, not Atlantis Resort. That being said, our lunch of stewed chicken, beans and rice, cole slaw, fried plantain and fruit punch was excellent! We ate quickly and headed back to the ship even more quickly. Because of tendering delays for all of the tours that morning, we sailed from Belize two hours late.

 

In Belize, one couple of our traveling companions had planned to go cave tubing for the day, but the excursion was canceled because of unusually heavy rains the night before. They were very disappointed. They ended up at the Belize Zoo, which they enjoyed. The other couple did the ship-sponsored tour to the Mayan Ruins and Altun Ha and River Wallace. They reported that they saw a lot of native animals in the wild during their river ride.

 

ROATAN

 

For this day, we booked a private excursion on our own to the Sante Wellness Center (www.santewellenesscenter.com). Roatan has an actual dock, so we were some of the first people off the ship a few minutes before 7:00 AM to meet Angela, owner of Sante. The guys had booked a snorkeling excursion from Sante while the girls were anxiously awaiting massages and facials. After a 20-minute drive through beautiful Roatan followed by a short boat ride from the main part of the island to Sante’s private island, we had a light breakfast of fruit, muffins and juices. Since we weren’t scheduled for our spa services yet, we all explored the beautiful grounds of the spa facility and looked for seashells on the beach. When the guys left on their snorkeling excursion and my female companions were called to their respective treatment rooms for their massages, I settled into a hammock and read for about an hour while listening to the birds and the waves. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… My one-hour massage was heavenly, and I left Sante feeling totally relaxed, much like a noodle. icon_smile.gif About 1:00, we headed back to the ship. We shopped briefly near the port and then boarded the ship for lunch. The ship sailed for Grand Cayman at 3:00.

 

GRAND CAYMAN

 

This was our third visit to Grand Cayman. We were surprised by how much the port area, already well developed, had been further developed since our last visits in 1997 and 1999. We had hoped to do the Beginner’s Scuba here, since we had enjoyed our first Scuba in Curacao so much. But it was not offered on this trip, so we chose the ship’s Snuba excursion instead. The Stingray City excursions for the day had been canceled because of 8-foot swells in North Sound, but the excursions on the Georgetown side of the island were still on.

 

Our Snuba excursion was wonderful! Our guide took us through some beautiful reefs to a shipwreck. The water was crystal clear, and everything looked so magical. At a depth of about 15-20 feet underwater, we explored the shipwreck and posed for photos.

 

Our traveling companions had reserved the canceled Stingray City excursion. They were able to get last-minute reservations for an excursion that took them snorkeling over the same site where we went to Snuba, although we never saw them (or even knew that there were snorkelers up there until they told us later where they had gone).

 

That evening was the second formal dinner (the first had been on Monday) and the Grand Gala Buffet.

 

COZUMEL

 

This was also our third trip to Cozumel, Mexico. Like Grand Cayman, this island had changed a lot since our last visit in 1999. All six of us booked the Mayan ruins of Tulum excursion through the ship, which meant that we were some of the first people off the ship to board a tender headed to mainland Mexico (Playa del Carmen). This was the second visit to Tulum for us, but our first trip seemed so rushed that we both wanted to see it again at a more leisurely pace. The weather was nice, but the seas were pretty rough on our 45-minute tender ride to the mainland (all I can say is “Thank God for Bonine!â€). Once there, we boarded a large bus for the 45-minute ride to Tulum.

 

The park at Tulum had built up significantly since our last visit there in 1997 as well. They had even moved the entrance gate from the center of the site to the northwest corner. Upon entering the gates, DH and I excused ourselves from the tour group to explore on our own. We were surprised at the amount of new vegetation at the site since our last visit. Also, many of the ruins that could be climbed previously had been roped off. Nonetheless, we had a nice time visiting the main buildings on our own, taking pictures (of course), and exploring the areas of the site that we had not had time to visit before. Although it became increasingly cloudy during our visit, it never rained.

 

After the excursion, we took the long, windy, and increasingly rough ferry ride from mainland Mexico back to the island of Cozumel in the dark. The ferry stopped at the shopping district, and we all disembarked. One of the women in our group was on a shopping mission, and we were all happy to assist! icon_smile.gif

 

We finally boarded the ship at 10:30. We were all starving, as we had eaten only a light snack since 11:00 that morning! WHAT? We’re on a cruise, and we’re HUNGRY??? It can’t be true! We all hopped in the shower (not the same one— icon_wink.gif) and then headed up to the Lido deck for the 11:30 Mexican buffet. I’m not sure if the food was REALLY that good or if I was just that hungry, but it was some of the best food I ever had! LOL. We stuffed ourselves silly then the girls danced off the extra calories at the deck party while the guys talked about football or something equally manly nearby.

 

The next day was our final day at sea. We caught some rays on the Lido deck, and we all went to the highly amusing Newlywed and Not-so-Newlywed Game. After packing a gazillion items of clothing, souvenirs and photos into our luggage, we went to dinner and said goodbye to our dining room pals, Ketut and Lee. icon_frown.gif

 

DEBARKATION

We arrived in Miami before sunrise the next morning. Since our flight left Miami at 12:45, DH and I had decided to do the “express debarkation." The ship was cleared by Customs at 7:30, and we were off the ship within 5 minutes. Since our cabins were on the Empress deck (same deck as the gangway), we were able to just roll everything straight off the ship with no delay whatsoever. We were at the Miami airport by 8:30. Awesome!

 

Any of you who were familiar with my posts know that we usually cruise with our young children. Since this was our anniversary cruise, they stayed home with family. So "CabinForFour" was actually a cabin for two on this trip. This was our first time leaving them overnight for any length of time. In the months prior to our departure, we called our cruise "the trip," because four-year-old Benjamin genuinely enjoys cruising so much that we knew he would never forgive us for going on one without him. icon_biggrin.gif Fortunately, both children adjusted very well and were spoiled rotten when we returned. We called home twice during the week only to find that Benjamin was far too busy to bother with speaking to us for more than a few seconds. He typed a few e-mails to send to us throughout the week, which was always a nice surprise when we checked our e-mail onboard. The carefree week away from the constant responsibility of having two young children was refreshing. That being said, we THOROUGHLY enjoy cruising WITH them as well, and they will definitely join us again on our next family cruise...whenever that may be. Next on our traveling itinerary is Disney World in December icon_biggrin.gif, so I don't imagine that we'll be cruising again for at least another year. icon_frown.gif

 

So that's basically it. Feel free to ask any questions if there's something I didn't cover. We had a fabulous time and wouldn't hesitate to sail this ship or itinerary again. Happy cruising, everyone!

 

Two Little Sailors: Victoria's First and Benjamin's Fourth cruise -- Carnival Victory, October 2003

 

Benjamin Sails to Bermuda-- Carnival Triumph, May 2002

 

Benjamin's Birthday Cruise -- Carnival Destiny, Jan. 2002

 

Benjamin's First Cruise -- Carnival Victory 2000

 

 

Paradise 3/04 - Exotic W. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/03 - Bahamas

Carnival Triumph 5/02 - Bermuda

Carnival Destiny 1/02 - S. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/00 - Nassau

Inspiration 7/99 - S. Caribbean

Tropicale 1/99 - W. Caribbean

Carnival Destiny 7/97 - W. Caribbean

Fantasy 4/96 - Bahamas

Fantasy 7/94 - Bahamas

 

[This message was edited by CabinForFour on 04-04-04 at 10:30 PM.]

 

[This message was edited by CabinForFour on 04-04-04 at 10:32 PM.]

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We enjoyed your review and photos. We are considering the Paradise for this summer. Thanks for sharing.

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We are getting ready for the May 2 sailing on the Paradise, western Caribbean itinerary. Can't wait and I enjoyed reading your review. Thanks!

 

countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=FFA000&cdt=2004;5;2;16;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500

Until "Paradise"

 

 

Monarch of the Seas 10/99

Imagination 3/98

Holiday 8/95

Dreamward 6/94

Majesty 8/89

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Lee was our waiter on the Paradise too, over a year ago. He is great isn't he. Must really like the smokefree atmosphere to stay on the same ship contract after contract.

 

Carnival Marti Gras

Carnival Festivale

Carnival Carnivale

Carnival Tropicale

Premier Cruiselines 1987

Fascination 1/6/01 southern caribbean

Sensation 12/9/01 western caribbean

Carnival Destiny 5/5/02 southern caribbean

Carnival Paradise 2/23/03 exotic western caribbean

Carnival Pride 9/28/03 mexican riviera

 

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Great review and the pictures were fantastic. (What kind of camera do you use??) I'm sure the talent of the photographer was shining through too! icon_smile.gif

 

We are sailing on the Paradise for the second time on June 13th. Josh Riffe was the CD when we cruised two years ago so it was a surprise to hear he was back again. I thought he did a good job so no complaints from me.

 

Did you make it to any of the evening shows? I just wondered if "Shout" and "Dream Voyage" were still playing. Who were the other evening entertainers? How was the band on the Lido deck? How about the piano player? We really enjoyed hanging out in the piano bar last time.

 

One of my goals this cruise is to make it to "tea time"...did you happen to go?

 

I'm sure hoping that the Paradise is able to dock in Cozumel by June. I checked the Cozumel weekly dock schedule and it looked like some of the ships that are there the same day with the Paradise will be heading off to Alaska or elsewhere soon.

 

Thanks again for taking time to write the review. I am getting anxious for our cruise and reading about some one else's trip is the next best thing! icon_wink.gif

 

countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;6;13;16;0;00&timezone=GMT-0500 till we are in Paradise again!

 

 

Paradise 6/2004

Paradise 6/2002

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Glad you enjoyed your cruise. My family has cruised on the Paradise twice. I really hate they are not keeping it a smokefree ship. Our next cruise Glory May 29th can't wait.

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone! icon_smile.gif

 

SailSoon & katenmegsmom, I hope you have a wonderful cruise. The Paradise is truly beautiful.

 

Michelle10863, I didn't realize Lee had been on the Paradise that long! During the "Up Close and Personal" Q&A session about the crew's life on board, Josh said that most of the ship's staff had requested that ship for its smokefree atmosphere, so I imagine there may be a lot of long-timers aboard. So unfortunate to see that "perk" ending for them.

 

Mathgal, I'm glad you enjoyed the photos icon_smile.gif. They were taken with my little point-and-shoot digital camera, a Fujifilm A303 3.25 megapixel. I bought it last year for about $200, and I LOVE IT. It makes such clear photos, and I love being able to edit them before printing.

 

Sounds like Josh will still be on the Paradise when you sail in June, since he just joined the ship a few weeks prior to our sailing. The shows onboard are still "Shout" and "Dream Voyage." We had seen "Shout" on another ship several years ago, and we enjoyed that one. We thought "Dream Voyage" was a little odd and not quite as good as the typical CCL show, but it was entertaining enough. The band on the Lido deck was Eclipse 1. They were good, but they didn't seem to be there as much as I expected. We never caught "Piano Music with Mark" or Tea Time, so I can't comment on that. Other evening entertainers were comedians Tom McGillin (sorry, I don't remember a THING about him!) and Jim Brick (had seen Jim on another ship, pretty funny), singer/comedian Tia Thompson (had seen her on the Inspiration in 1999, funny show), and juggler Steve Athearn (starts slow, but great show!). Hope this helps!

 

Margaritawoman, hope you have a great time on the Glory!

 

Two Little Sailors: Victoria's First and Benjamin's Fourth cruise -- Carnival Victory, October 2003

 

Benjamin Sails to Bermuda-- Carnival Triumph, May 2002

 

Benjamin's Birthday Cruise -- Carnival Destiny, Jan. 2002

 

Benjamin's First Cruise -- Carnival Victory 2000

 

 

Paradise 3/04 - Exotic W. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/03 - Bahamas

Carnival Triumph 5/02 - Bermuda

Carnival Destiny 1/02 - S. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/00 - Nassau

Inspiration 7/99 - S. Caribbean

Tropicale 1/99 - W. Caribbean

Carnival Destiny 7/97 - W. Caribbean

Fantasy 4/96 - Bahamas

Fantasy 7/94 - Bahamas

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CabinForFour--

 

I wanted to see if you might exchange e-mails with me about your cruising experience. We're about to start with our small children, and was wondering about carnivals experience.

 

If you could, could you send me an e-mail at Jennie_Nielsen@hotmail.com.

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We were with you guys at Sante and I wanted to thank you for posting the pictures....they are better than mine were, and their mccaw showed off a little more for you than he did for me icon_wink.gif

 

Glad you had a great time & I know we did!

 

-Christy

 

Carnival Triumph - Oct 2003

Carnival Paradise - March 2004

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Mikeyd, you're welcome. Have a great cruise!

 

Jennie99352, I sent you an e-mail. icon_wink.gif

 

christygobar, we enjoyed meeting you and your sweetie on our trip to Sante. What a great excursion! Glad your cruise was wonderful as well!

 

Two Little Sailors: Victoria's First and Benjamin's Fourth cruise -- Carnival Victory, October 2003

 

Benjamin Sails to Bermuda-- Carnival Triumph, May 2002

 

Benjamin's Birthday Cruise -- Carnival Destiny, Jan. 2002

 

Benjamin's First Cruise -- Carnival Victory 2000

 

 

Paradise 3/04 - Exotic W. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/03 - Bahamas

Carnival Triumph 5/02 - Bermuda

Carnival Destiny 1/02 - S. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/00 - Nassau

Inspiration 7/99 - S. Caribbean

Tropicale 1/99 - W. Caribbean

Carnival Destiny 7/97 - W. Caribbean

Fantasy 4/96 - Bahamas

Fantasy 7/94 - Bahamas

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thank you so much for the info. I am going on the Paradise on May 16th, and I am bringing my 7 year old son. Are the ammenities good for the kids onboard? I am kind of worried about that

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Sorry, Alecia. Since we didn't have our kids along this time, we really didn't pay attention to the amenities onboard for children. However, I have heard so many good things about Camp Carnival and our children have had such good experiences with Carnival staff, I'm sure your son will have a great time. Wish I could offer more info for you. Have a great cruise!

 

10th Anniversary Cruise -- Paradise, March 2004

 

Two Little Sailors: Victoria's First and Benjamin's Fourth cruise -- Carnival Victory, October 2003

 

Benjamin Sails to Bermuda-- Carnival Triumph, May 2002

 

Benjamin's Birthday Cruise -- Carnival Destiny, Jan. 2002

 

Benjamin's First Cruise -- Carnival Victory 2000

 

 

Paradise 3/04 - Exotic W. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/03 - Bahamas

Carnival Triumph 5/02 - Bermuda

Carnival Destiny 1/02 - S. Caribbean

Carnival Victory 10/00 - Nassau

Inspiration 7/99 - S. Caribbean

Tropicale 1/99 - W. Caribbean

Carnival Destiny 7/97 - W. Caribbean

Fantasy 4/96 - Bahamas

Fantasy 7/94 - Bahamas

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cabin for four-

It's alright....I'm sure that he's going to have a good time regardless. ( I am the mother to four kids- and I am only taking one with me,- 3rd out of 4, so it will be a real vacation for both of us.) My husband is staying home with the other three so that my mom and I can have some time. I was just curious.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by alecia:

thank you so much for the info. I am going on the Paradise on May 16th, and I am bringing my 7 year old son. Are the ammenities good for the kids onboard? I am kind of worried about that<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

 

Alecia- My very active 7 1/2 year old sailed on the Paradise with me and was one of a few children who did not like Camp Carnival. He was far more active than the majority of the 6-8 year olds in his age group and Carnival would not bump him up to the next group. In general, girls seemed to like the activities of that age group more than boys.

 

So we were left to our own devices. He did enjoy the pool slide. Also beware of the video arcade - the games are by and large violent and money-grubbing.

 

We had great success booking our own excursions - snorkeling, horseback riding, etc. If you're interested, e-mail me.

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mnchec-

Thank you for your information. My son is rather quiet and likes to play game boy, and loves to read. He does enjoy running and plying also....but it depends on his mood.

 

As far as the excursions go.... have a quick question....my mother is 65, and has arthritis in her back, so she cannot walk long distances. She also doesn't particularuly care to swim either....do you have any suggestions on Belize and Rotan? I have been to the other ports and kinda know how to steer her for those.

 

 

 

Paradise 05/04

Celebrity horizon 02/03

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