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bandjwayne

Carnival Paradise March 25-30, 2019 Western Caribbean Review

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Background: This was DH & my 11th cruise, about 1/2 with Royal & 1/2 with Carnival. Our sons, 12 & 9 yrs, cruised with us 2 years ago on the Carnival Vista. This is our first time on this particular ship although we have said a ship in the Fantasy class before. We’ve also sailed on Royal’s Independence, Voyager & Oasis class ships previously. We enjoy cruising for the mix of activities and relaxation it has to offer. We picked this cruise based off our kids spring break schedule and to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday.

 

My expectations of this cruise were fairly low after just sailing on the huge Harmony of the Seas less than 2 months ago. I also knew that the ship would be full as it was spring break time & we usually sail in Jan. or Feb. I was pleasantly surprised on how much fun we had on this trip.

 

We flew from MN to Tampa 3 days before the cruise to stay in Clearwater Beach with my in-laws. We had a wonderful time there although 3 days of spring break crowds on the beach & traffic were enough for us!

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Embarkation: We got a Lyft ride from Clearwater Beach @10am and arrived at the cruise terminal at 11am. Cost was $41 plus tip. We were through the check in process in

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Room: We were in room M138, Oceanview. Our beds were pushed together & one of the pullmans was directly above the head of the bed, while the other pullman was kitty-corner to that. The room was small, but fine for just 5 days. Our room attendant Eri greeted us right away and asked us if we wanted morning, evening, or both service. We are pretty easy going people so I thought I’d try only evening
service and just asked that we had plenty of towels for showering. We also said it was fine to leave the pullman beds down because we aren’t in the room much. Looking back, I wouldn’t do that again. I hated seeing the wet towels on the small bathroom floor for most of the day & it would have been easier to navigate in our room if the pullman opposite our bed would have been closed up during the day. The bathroom had the annoying shower curtain with many hanging clips broken, leading to water all over the floor & door. Not a big deal, but this just led to more wet towels on the floor.

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Dining:
We had early (6pm) dining in the Destiny dining room. We were seated at a large table with a family of 4 and another family of 2. It was ok, but the family of 4 didn’t hardly say a word so dinner was a little awkward. We had only 1 waiter most nights (Alfonzo or Jay) and dinner service usually took 1.5 - 2 hrs. We did love Darwin, the singing waiter, who had an incredible voice & personality. The food in the main dining room was just ok...Harmony’s food 2 months ago was much better, and that’s on a ship with almost 6,000 guests! We ate in the buffet area two nights and found enough options to please us.

One thing that we really do love on Carnival is their casual food options. Guys burgers & The Blue Iguana were yummy like usual. Lines were surprisingly short I thought for it being March. The pizza was also some of the best pizza we’ve had on a cruise...wood-fired & SO much better than Royal. The only downfall is that the line was usually pretty slow moving - so a tip is to go at a non-peak time! My kids also loved the soft serve ice cream and I thought the buffet was good...nothing exciting, but good standard foods like salad, sandwiches. I did notice less fresh fruit options then what I’m used to.

Drink service was almost non-existent around the pool decks so we usually had to make our way to a bar if we wanted a drink. Drinks averaged $10 (cheaper than Harmony).

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My favorite dessert - chocolate melting cake, mmmm!

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Drink menu from the comedy club.
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My favorite drink - Miami Vice!


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Kids Club:
My 9 year old son was in the 9-11 Sharks group. He had the option of checking himself in/out, but we decided not to allow him to do that as he’s not the best at following directions yet. He had fun, although wished he was able to play their video games more (only allowed during “free choice” time).
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My 12 year old was in the 12-14 year old Circle C group. This age group has privileges to check in/out & I was comfortable with him doing that based of his matureness & the size to the ship. He would often go too when it was free choice (video game) time. He liked the scheduled sports opportunities, but found it to be too crowded & boring as there were long lines.

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Misc. ship thoughts:
I believe this ship was dry-docked last year. I thought it was in great
shape for being an older ship. The employees were pleasant and I was very surprised in how uncrowded it was, esp. being that it was spring break. The only times I felt like it was too crowded was on the sea days by the pool. Tip - get up & moving early to get chairs as there is only one pool and many people save chairs! I didn’t like that the hot tubs closed at midnight. The shows (80s, rock, and Cuban themed) had great singers. The comedy club had a nice amount of seating and I liked that they had PG shows for the kids and R ones for the adults. This is a small ship so there aren’t a lot of extra activities to do, but we did enjoy the mini golf course, library game room, ping pong, shuffle board, life size chess game. I do wish there was more than one pool however. Melissa the cruise director was entertaining as was Savanah the comedy club host. One thing I did not like however was how little hand washing and hand sanitizer was promoted - definitely different that what we experienced on previous cruises:(
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Excited to go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. We went under the bridge right around 6pm then went to dinner.

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The boys waiting for the PG comedy show to start. We had no problems getting a seat because we came early

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I love the beautiful Caribbean water!

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Our crazy family

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Towel animal

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Rock show



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Stops:
In Grand Cayman we had priority tendering because we were FTTF.
A letter was in our room the night before saying what time to arrive at a lounge for priority boarding. This worked great we were off the ship in no time. We walked to the bus station and took a bus (large van)
for $2.50/person to 7 mile beach (by the public beach/Calico Jacks area). The driver was very friendly & stopped whenever requested. Once we got to the beach (~9:30 am) we were greeted by a guy who got us 2 lounge chairs & an umbrella right in front of the water for $20. We played in the gorgeous water & the kids tried the water trampoline (but that really was too hard to get onto, even for my active kids). My younger son enjoyed snorkeling for rocks...tip, get a full faced snorkel mask - SO much easier for the kids! We walked over to Calico Jacks for a few drinks and chicken strips. There were some food trucks set up in the public beach area, I was just a little nervous to get food from them for sanitary reasons. Once we had enough we took the bus back to the cruise terminal. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time as the traffic was kind of bad w/lots of ships in town.
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7 Mile Beach by the Public Beach area

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We could use the water trampoline, but it was very difficult to get on, even for my athletic kids.
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I highly recommend a full face snorkel mask. My son loved it - ~$60 on Amazon

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Football fun for the big boys & snorkeling (for mainly rocks) for the little boy

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Little one’s rock collection. Don’t worry, we threw them back in the sea

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In Cozumel we took a taxi to Paradise Beach (PB) ($15 each way). PB does offer an all inclusive rate now that they tried to sell us but I had researched a head of time and knew that with the kids we were not going to eat & drink enough to cover that price ($63/adult, $44/12-17 yr old, $38/5-11 yr old). Instead I paid the $3/person cover charge and $10 food/beverage minimum. We also paid the $18/ person charge for the fun pass (ocean waterpark, kayaks, etc.) The kids and hubby had a blast in the water park, esp. launching each other off the one jump inflatable. Tip...have someone hold the inflatable while the other person gets on so it doesn’t tip over! We watched many people struggle before my husband helped them out. We really liked how these water toys had pads next to them to made getting on them much easier. There was a worker who would go out to check the air in them & kick people out who didn’t purchase the wristbands. I had hoped to use the kayaks too, but the wind picked up & I wasn’t comfortable trying them so be prepared for that. We also used the pool after we had had our fill of ocean water & loved the gigantic size of it. Chairs were readily available by both the beach & the pool. Banana boat rides & parasailing were also available although we didn’t try them. When we were ready to go back to the ship plenty of taxis were available. I’d definitely return to PB again!

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Mexican Platter
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Chips with salsa & guacamole
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Overall we were very impressed with this cruise. I enjoyed Carnival’s casual food choices and the spring break crowds on the ship (compared to land in FL).

Let me know if you have any questions!

Jody

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Great review and loved the many photos! Glad you had a great time. We sail on the Paradise often as we live close to Tampa and enjoy the Paradise cruises. Sorry you had low expectations before the cruise, but glad you enjoyed the cruise after all.

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Glad you had fun. I agree on those face mask snorkels. They are an absolute must. 

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Thanks for doing a review on the Paradise.  I thought there was an aft pool too.  Was that adult only or gone totally.

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Thank you for the review- I am going on the paradise in a little over a month. I knew what to expect before booking but I wanted a quick cruise because it was long until my next one in September. I am glad to see you liked it and had fun. I am looking forward to it.

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36 minutes ago, JaniceB said:

Thanks for doing a review on the Paradise.  I thought there was an aft pool too.  Was that adult only or gone totally.

There is no pool area in the aft.  That's where the Serenity adults only area is which has 2 hot tubs, but no pool.

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35 minutes ago, emm126 said:

Thank you for the review- I am going on the paradise in a little over a month. I knew what to expect before booking but I wanted a quick cruise because it was long until my next one in September. I am glad to see you liked it and had fun. I am looking forward to it.

I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time.  Like any vacation it's what you decide you want to make out of it!

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Djptcp said:

Great review and loved the many photos! Glad you had a great time. We sail on the Paradise often as we live close to Tampa and enjoy the Paradise cruises. Sorry you had low expectations before the cruise, but glad you enjoyed the cruise after all.

I should say my low expectations weren't that I wasn't going to have fun - it's vacation & a cruise, so of course I'll have fun or why go?  It was more of the fact that I thought it would be extremely busy & not much to do on the smaller ship.  Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised and would book a 5 day on this ship again!  If I lived in the Tampa area instead of MN I'd definitely go on it more!

Edited by bandjwayne

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Thank you for the review and the great pictures.  Love the Paradise!  We are back onboard next February 2020.

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Thanks for your review! I wanted to see how the Paradise looked given it's new updates, I wanted to see if it was at all similar to the Fascination after sailing on it recently. You had some beautiful shots and it looked like you had a lot of fun!

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THANKS for the review.  I do live in the Tampa area, and have sailed "Paradise" a lot, and your review made me feel "right at home".  LOL  I agree with about 99% of your observations.  Can't wait to get back aboard "Paradise", and enjoy another five days or so of fun, food, and relaxation.

 

"SKY"

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Thanks for the great review! We will be cruising on Paradise in December 2019 and you have answered many questions I had.

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Thank you for the review.  We have 5 nights on Paradise booked in about a month.  It will be our first Carnival cruise (see signature), and I've been a little worried because my bratty teenaged daughter was "bored" on Majesty.  My husband and I love smaller ships, but the kids want big activities (rock climbing, zip line, FlowRider, etc), but those ships just aren't in the budget every year.  I am so glad you and your boys had a great time!  I agree that a vacation is what you make it!  

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11 hours ago, Momto3girlsintheCarolinas said:

Thank you for the review.  We have 5 nights on Paradise booked in about a month.  It will be our first Carnival cruise (see signature), and I've been a little worried because my bratty teenaged daughter was "bored" on Majesty.  My husband and I love smaller ships, but the kids want big activities (rock climbing, zip line, FlowRider, etc), but those ships just aren't in the budget every year.  I am so glad you and your boys had a great time!  I agree that a vacation is what you make it!  

It's tougher when the kids get that age, but I think your daughter will find plenty to do on this ship for a 5 night itinerary...7 nights might be a little bit long, but 5 should be just fine!  I told my kids that if they were bored that just meant they didn't need to come on the next cruise with us:)

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We are grandpa & grandma taking 8 grandchildren (ages 16 through 26) on the 4 night Paradise cruise in July.  Glad to hear such a nice review.  We are so excited to have them all together.  We have the anytime dining...wondering if you saw any tables for 10...

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Posted (edited)

Nice review.  Thanks for sharing your experience.  I have been on Paradise twice before and I also had a nice time.  For a smaller ship it was a fun cruise and I always have a great time in Cozumel.  Happy sailing!😎

Edited by JohnSpo

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5 hours ago, joyce&bob said:

We are grandpa & grandma taking 8 grandchildren (ages 16 through 26) on the 4 night Paradise cruise in July.  Glad to hear such a nice review.  We are so excited to have them all together.  We have the anytime dining...wondering if you saw any tables for 10...

Yes, we were at a table for 12...they just sat 10 people there.  We had the early dining so we were in a different dining room than what anytime dining uses, but they should be pretty similar!

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