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Finally, it's my Paradise Western Review from 3/7/04! WARNING--It's really long and detailed!


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This is the review of my vacation aboard the Carnival “Smoke-Free†Paradise. It is going to be long and full of details. My husband and I had never been on a cruise before and I am going to include anything I feel is of value to anyone going on this vacation. I am a Travel and Tourism major and I tend to be a little obsessive about knowing everything about my vacation plans.


Jeremy and I have been married for almost 2 years. We are both 22 years old. Jeremy is in his last year of undergraduate Pre-Pharmacy studies and works part time. I am a retail manager and part-time student.


We booked our cruise back in November through Debine Lutz, a Carnival Personal Vacation Planner. She helped me decide on which ship and itinerary to take. I needed to depart on either March 6th or March 7th 2004 in order to accommodate my husband’s college Spring Break. My first choice had been the Southern Caribbean out of San Juan on the Carnival Destiny but it was out of our price range. Then she told me about the Paradise Western Caribbean which goes to Belize City, Belize; Roatan, Honduras; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. The attractive thing about this itinerary was the balance of the more commercial ports of Grand Cayman and Cozumel with the more “unspoiled†ports of Belize and Roatan.


I think it is a good idea to plan to arrive a day or two in advance just for good measure in case any delays would arise, but we did not do this. We had no problems though. We arrived at the Baltimore Washington International Airport at 4 am for our 6:55 am flight. We had left home at midnight and driven directly there. Sunday morning is one of the least busy times in an airport and this was no exception. We sat on the floor and played cards at our gate until boarding time. There was a huge group of cruisers on our flight who were going on the Victory that same day. It might have been the butt crack of dawn, but they were wide awake. We enjoyed listening to them and laughing with them while we played cards. We got to talking and found they only live about an hour away from us. They were a lot of fun and we ended up talking to them again in the Miami airport the following Sunday.


The flight was uneventful, but it was my first commercial flight and I was a little nervous. We landed at Miami International Airport at 9:15 am to nice warm weather and immediately claimed our bags. We found a Carnival rep in the baggage claim and asked about our transfers. We were then told that we would have to wait until 11:30 and then meet by the baggage claim. We were VERY tempted to just take a taxi at this point because we did not know what to do in MIA for 2 hours with 3 suitcases and a garment bag. If I had it to do over, I would not have bought the Carnival transfers. They are $11 per person each way and a huge crowd builds up waiting for the buses. There are taxis everywhere and it is about the same price.


We finally got to the Port of Miami at about 11:45 am. I had read reviews detailing the luggage porters so I was prepared with $1 bills. They do give the impression that your luggage will not reach your room if you do not “take care of themâ€.


Embarkation was smooth and painless. We had no problems and breezed right through. We were in our room at 12:15 even though we weren’t supposed to go there until after lunch on the Lido deck. We had been up since Saturday morning and needed a shower so we broke that rule a little.


The first night we met all of the people from the Cruise Critic Roll Call in the America Piano bar at 7:45 pm. It was really nice to put faces with screen names and we ended up spending some time with most of the groups throughout the week.


We got the dinner seating we had wanted and were in the Destiny dining room for the 8:00 pm seating. This was perfect. It was not too late and we never felt rushed after port days. We were at table 261 with our headwaiter Kadek and his assistant Ayu. They were both from Indonesia. Being in our early 20’s, we were not sure if we would be sat with typical Spring Breakers or young couples and were happy when we met our tablemates, three dating couples in our age range. We loved our tablemates and spent a lot of time with them outside the dining room as well.


We did not do many of the onboard activities. We did the casino gaming lessons and found them very informative for beginners. I understand why Carnival gives them. We spent much more money because we knew what we were doing at each table. I won some money on Roulette on the first sea day and we used that to play Blackjack and Three Card Poker the rest of the week.


We were in Belize from 9-6 (ship time-Eastern Standard time. Belize is the same as US central time). We had booked Cave Tubing with X-Stream through www.belizecruiseexcursions.com and had no problems finding them once off the tender. We got the first tender boat to shore by arriving outside the Normandie lounge a little ahead of time. We did find though that if we stuck our tender stickers to the inside of our shirts, we could go to the gangway no matter what number was being called. They don’t stop you from getting on; they just call numbers so that everyone doesn’t come at once. We were supposed to meet X-Stream at 10:20 Belize local time (11:20 ship time) but everyone was there early so they sent us on our way. We left Belize City in a 15-passenger van (air-conditioned) and started the hour plus ride to the caves. The drive feels as long as it is but we watched the scenery and napped a little. We did pass a police checkpoint and you realize how different things are when you see police with M-16’s! Once we reached our destination, we locked our belongings in the vans and started on our hike. The hike took about 40 minutes and we wore old sneakers. They got soaked about 5 minutes into the hike when you cross the river but we were much more comfortable then those wearing water shoes or flip-flops. The hike was very beautiful and the weather was great. Our guide pointed out all of the trees and nature native to Belize. We found that to be very interesting. We saw the Carnival tour getting into the river to start their float. There were several busses from Carnival. They took us past that launch point to the mouth of the previous cave. We got into the clear blue water and stayed mostly as a group. They give you headlamps so you can see because the caves are ¼ mile at least. We had expected it to be a little more relaxing than it was. We really enjoyed the entire experience but didn’t expect all of the paddling we had to do with our arms. In some spots the waters is 15-20 feet deep, but some places you have to lift up your butt and go down rapids. Overall the trip was great and we slept most of the way back to Belize City. By the way, Carnival’s tour was $89 and booking directly through X-Stream was around $55 and we got an extra cave and delicious fresh fruit and bottled water.


Roatan was my favorite port. We got up at 6 am and were ready to go. We ordered the in-room breakfast the night before and headed to deck 3 at 6:30. There was only staff around so I asked if we had cleared customs and they said yes and let us off. They made a comment about us being the very first ones off. It was still dark and a passing shower came and went. We had booked massages with Angela at the Sante Wellness Center. We found her immediately and waited for the other two groups, both of whom we had met ahead of time on the Roatan board at Cruise Critic. We left Coxen Hole, which is the capital of the Bay Islands. Roatan is the biggest of the Bay Islands. Angela told us that sometimes people are put off by Coxen Hole. She said that they walk off the ship, see the town and don’t bother to see what’s outside of it. She said, “You don’t fly to Paris, walk around the airport, and say you saw Paris.†Boy was she right. Roatan is a beautiful island and we enjoyed the scenery until we reached Parrot Tree Plantation which is a developing community with land for sale. We saw beautiful condos under construction with a beautiful ocean view. We parked at a dock because the spa cannot be reached by road. Angela’s husband Leon met us with their boat and took us over to a little piece of land that sits on the ocean. This is where their wonderful home/spa was. We got our massages and then I napped and read magazines in a hammock overlooking the ocean. This was the highlight of my vacation. I highly recommend booking through Angela at www.santewellnesscenter.com


On Thursday we arrived at Grand Cayman. This is another tender port and there were four other ships around ours. We reached shore and found a cab to take us to 7 Mile Beach. We enjoyed the beach and Jeremy enjoyed snorkeling. DO NOT pay for beach access if you do not want to. Our cab driver drove us about ten minutes away to a public beach access area and we walked right down on to the beach. There was a little tent selling snacks and renting and selling equipment. Jet Ski and banana boat rides were available. We spent the afternoon relaxing and then went back to the shopping area near the tender docks where Jeremy bought an excessive amount of rum cakes. I did use my credit card from a pay phone in Grand Cayman to call my family and when I got the bill, I saw that it cost $20! I expected it to be costly but it was worth it.


We were told earlier in the week that we would be tendering in Cozumel due to the amount of ships in port. Because of this, the captain agreed to stay until midnight instead of 11pm. We got off the ship after the short tender ride. (The tender ride was short but the tender boat was huge so it took about 40 minutes to get it filled up!) We were at the Puerto Maya pier which has a small shopping area. We walked out to the taxi area and took a cab to Paradise beach, which we had heard about on the Cozumel board at Cruise Critic. I’m not sure but I think the cab was about $12. They charge by cab and not by person in Cozumel. Paradise Beach is free and we were thrilled when we saw it. It was very clean and the employees were very efficient. They brought us beach chairs, a small table, and menus and came around all day to us drinks and a plate of chips and home made salsa. The food and drinks were very good and reasonably priced. They also had ocean kayaks, floating mats, a floating inflatable iceberg that you could climb and slide down, and a floating trampoline. All of this was complimentary. The restrooms and facilities were clean and well maintained. We loved Paradise Beach and had a great time. It comes highly recommended.


In the evening, the docked ships were pulling out and the Paradise would be docking so we went back to the ship to shower and eat while they maneuvered the ship to the dock. Once we were allowed off again, we were all ready to party! We did a little shopping and then took a cab to downtown. We looked in shops and then headed to Carlos and Charlie’s for some drinks. We had a great time there, but we managed to stumble our way to a cab to head back to the pier to Fat Tuesday’s. We ran into our tablemates and had a few more drinks. Amazingly enough, though, we did not miss the ship! We briefly went to the Lido Deck for the Mexican buffet and then went to bed.


Our last day at sea was a day to rest up. We did play some bingo and did some more on board shopping. The shopping on board was surprisingly affordable. Jeremy bought a watch, we both bought Fossil sunglasses, and we bought four bottles of liquor, among other things.


A lot of people ask about drink prices. We found the best value for mixed drinks to be on the Lido Deck. We bought the drink special the first afternoon for $6.95 and kept our souvenir cups. Our cabin steward washed them each night while we were at dinner and we refilled them over and over for $4.95 each. They were big and not watered down so this was a good value.


Our cabin steward was from Jamaica but I don’t remember his name because he never really introduced himself and he was not overly friendly. He was efficient but forgettable.


Our cruise director was Shawn Bussey. It was her last week before a vacation and then she was going to whatever ship is in Alaska. We found her to be overbearing and cheesy and we thought she sounded like a radio DJ on speed. She got the job done though.


Embarkation was depressing. We had put our luggage out the night before and after breakfast and moping around we went to the area outside the Casino and waited. After our color was called we walked right off the ship and grabbed our bags and went out to the Carnival bus. They dropped us at the Miami International Airport and we went to check in so we could try to get on an earlier flight. Our scheduled flight was not until 7:55 pm and we had originally planned to go to South Beach but the weather was bad. The earlier flight was at 3:40 so we made our way to the gate and waited to find out. When all the passengers had boarded they called us up and told us that due to a broken seat, there was only one available seat. We obviously needed two so we let someone else go and went to the other gate and waited until our 7:55 flight. Despite spending ALL DAY in the airport, we made the best of it and arrived in Baltimore at about 10 pm to 40 degree weather.

All in all, we had a wonderful time and we would go back on the Paradise or any Carnival ship in a heartbeat. This vacation is highly recommended for anyone who likes to have fun!


Paradise 3/04

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Thanks for the review. My family and I will be surprising my in-laws with this cruise to Baja for their 50th wedding anniversary. icon_wink.gif We look forward to welcoming the Paradise to So.Cal.! icon_biggrin.gif


Happy Cruizin'



Paradise 11/29/04 Inlaws 50th wedding anniversary


Pride 5/29/05 Daughter's Sweet 16


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I really didn't cover this (I was just trying to get this review completed) but the interior of the ship was very nice and we really enjoyed it. Some people had said that the Paradise was "worn" but, other than normal wear, everything was nice and clean.




Paradise 3/04

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I really enjoyed your review. I had been thinking about doing a cruise that included Belize and am now convinced that it would indeed be a nice one.


Til our Adventure of the Seas 10/03/04




Triumph -- November 2003

Fantasy -- July 2001

Imagination -- Nov 2000

Fantasy -- Nov 1999

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Aww, Vanessa...why did you have to go and remind me of our wonderful trip all over again. I was just getting over my Post-Cruise Depression, but you just triggered it all over again!! icon_eek.gif


You're review was great. It allowed me to experience it all over again. Too bad we can't book another one anytime soon! It was great meeting you and Jeremy.


Paradise 03/04

Majesty of the Seas 05/03

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Leaving soon on the Paradise icon_cool.gif and really appreciate your review. We are booked with X-Stream for Belize and I have been contemplating Paradise Beach in Cozumel, so it is great to hear from someone who was there recently. Thanks again!



Until "Paradise"



Monarch of the Seas 10/99

Imagination 3/98

Holiday 8/95

Dreamward 6/94

Majesty 8/89

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Thanks for the review. The Paradise is one of our most favorite ships. I am sad though to see her move out west.






2004 Legend March 28th

2003 Paradise

2002 Paradise

2000 Destiny

1999 Fascination

1998 Fantasy

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"radio deejay on speed" I can just hear that in my head...ROTFLMAO.




"I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine"--Caskie Stinnett


Elation 10/20/02

Paradise 9/21/03

Star Princess 10/24/04

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