My husband and I have been on twelve cruises
and this was our seventh cruise on Carnival. We are in our
mid-thirties and were traveling with our 3-year old son.
We booked this sailing after seeing very good
rates and deciding that we would like to try the smoke-free ship.
Also, we had earned enough points on our Capital One Carnival card to
get a $500 reward voucher that may have burned a hole in our pocket if
we did not use it right away! Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves and
did like that there was no smoking. The places where we especially
appreciated that were the piano bar and the casino.
Prior to our departure, I had read some
negative reviews about the condition of the Paradise and the treatment
by the crew, so I was a little concerned. But, I was pleasantly
surprised that the ship was very clean and I constantly saw workers
polishing, shining, steaming carpets, etc. We also found the crew of
the Paradise to be very helpful and accommodating.
This was a Sunday to Sunday cruise departing out of Miami. We flew
to Miami on Saturday and stayed overnight at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay
for $40 via Priceline. It might not be as luxurious as some of the
other hotels, but my husband and I joked that it was the nicest $40
hotel room we ever stayed in. We spent an enjoyable evening at the
Bayside Marketplace. We liked dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. After
dinner we explored Bayside. There was an interesting array of ethnic
food available at the food court. Outside there were kiddy rides
including a train ride that my son really enjoyed and at the
waterfront there was a live band playing.
We took advantage of the pre-check at the
Sheraton in the morning. There was a small line when we went down at
8:50 am. The check-in started at 9:00 am and we were finished at 9:25
am. As it ends up when we got to the port there didn't seem to be much
of a line, but who knew. If we had gotten stuck in traffic and arrived
later, a line may have formed. We were going to have breakfast in the
hotel, but when I saw that it was $11 for a waffle, we decided to peak
outside to see if there was anything nearby. Across the street was a
place called The Coffee Beanery. It was more a coffee house sort of
place, but they had breakfast sandwiches on croissants or bagels,
muffins, and pastries. We had breakfast and beverages for the three of
us for $13. We got a cab around 10:45 to go to the port and
encountered very little traffic. We went up to the waiting area and
around 12:15, they started letting people board the ship.
We were in cabin R232, an outside cabin on the Riviera Deck. The
cabin was a nice size with one of the bigger showers that we have had
in a cabin. We had one of the best cabin stewards ever, Daniel from
Dominican Republic. We had robes in the cabin but there was not a
hairdryer. I was concerned about the cabin being cold, but the vent
control on the ceiling allowed us to regulate the temperature in the
cabin very well.
We had the main seating in the Destiny Dining Room at 5:45 pm. We
were seated at table 246, a 6-person booth. Our tablemates were
another family of three with a 2= year old son. They were very
pleasant tablemates, the boys seemed to like seeing each other and we
had an enjoyable time dining together. Our waiter was Legowo from
Indonesia and his assistant was Conrado from Philippines. Legowo was
the best waiter that we have ever had. He has worked for Carnival for
20 years on many different ships; the Paradise is his favorite. We
felt very fortunate to have gotten such wonderful cabin and dining
service this week.
We really enjoyed the food in the dining room.
We ate all of our dinners there. The filet mignon was particularly
good, served medium rare as requested. We also enjoyed many of the
seafood selections. My favorite desserts in the dining room were the soufflés,
chocolate one night and vanilla another. The formal nights were Monday
and Friday. For kids old enough for Camp Carnival, there were special
dinners for kids at the Paris Restaurant (informal Lido restaurant) on
both formal nights. And on the first formal night there was a
"Coke-tail" party as well.
There was a sushi bar on the Promenade deck,
which we really enjoyed. Unfortunately it did not open until 5:30 pm.
This made it tough with a 5:45 pm sitting in the dining, compounded by
the fact that there was a good crowd of people waiting for it to open,
so when it did, there was immediately a long line. I thought that it
would have been helpful for it to open at 5:15 pm for people with the
5:45 pm sitting to be able to enjoy a sushi appetizer before dinner.
We ate almost all of our breakfasts and
lunches in the Paris Restaurant on the Lido Deck. The breakfast was
okay up there; it's the same selection every day, scrambled eggs,
sausage, bacon, hash browns, cereal, flaky pastries. I enjoyed getting
omelets and eggs to order. Breakfast in the dining room was slightly
better, and the coffee in the dining room was significantly better.
Lunch at the Paris Restaurant was a very nice variety and it changed
daily. We looked forward to trying new things at lunch. There were
different hot lunch offerings including meat being carved. On the
salad bar there were interesting and different cold salads each day.
They made deli sandwiches to order. And each day there was a different
hot bread pudding with sauce that was very good. Of course there was
pizza, burgers, and hot dogs available each day. The pizza and soft
serve ice cream were available 24 hours.
Fun Ship Activities:
Josh Riffe was a wonderful cruise director. He made even routine
things fun! We learned onboard that he was leaving for vacation after
our cruise, so unfortunately, if you are going soon, he won't be
There was a main pool with a slide on the Lido
deck. And on the aft of Promenade deck there was kids' pool and small
jungle gym. It was usually pretty quiet back there. We needed to take
to the pool our beach towels that the steward provided in our cabin or
sign for one on deck using the sail and sign card. There was no charge
as long as the towel was returned.
The fitness center was located in the spa on
the forward section of deck 12. A variety of machines and free weights
were available, including treadmills, steppers, and bikes. There were
two hot tubs in the fitness center. Located in the locker rooms were a
sauna and a eucalyptus steam room (which helped the cold I developed
We enjoyed the variety of live music
throughout the ship. Our favorite was the piano music in the America
Bar, the piano bar onboard. We enjoyed listening to both Mark and
Roberta. Roberta had booklets for those who wanted to pick a song and
sing along on the microphone.
The production shows were Dream Voyage and
Shout. We missed Dream Voyage, but made to Shout and it was very
enjoyable. We also saw a comedian named Adam Ace who was very wild.
His comedy was more physical than your ordinary stand-up comedian.
The casino onboard was a nice size with a
variety of machines. It never seemed to get very crowded. My husband
and I learned what we could about playing craps before our trip. So we
played it for the first time on the Paradise. The casino personnel we
encountered were very friendly and helpful. There appeared to be good
opportunities to try out new games at uncrowded tables in the Paradise
Our son enjoyed participating in activities at
Camp Carnival. The orientation and family party the first night were
informative and enjoyable. The schedule of activities for the week
allowed him to pick the things that he wanted to participate in.
Almost every night at dinner he could not wait to finish eating and go
up to the Children's World. One evening they had a Family Fun Fest for
parents and kids at Children's World, where they had a lot of creative
activities and crafts for the kids to make including sand art, face
painting, spin art, and friendship beads.
Ports of Call:
We were on the western itinerary, which is scheduled to change in
February. Traveling with a 3-year old, we kept things simple and low
key. Basically we went to a beach at each stop since he loves the sand
Cozumel: The ship docked at the Puerta
Maya pier. There was a lot of construction going on, but appeared as
though there will be a lovely shopping village right at the pier once
the work has been completed.
We took a cab, which cost $14 to Mr. Sanchos
Beach Club. There was no cover to enter and there were small shops as
you walked through to the beach area. Each shop owner was telling us
why it's best to come into his shop. The beach area was beautiful;
white sand and beautiful blue water. The sand wasn't as powdery as I
thought it would be, but instead appeared to be made up of little
shells. It had a consistency of sesame seeds. My son still had fun
playing in it, but wanted his water shoes on since he didn't like the
feel of it. Although he didn't mind the feel of it when he wanted to
get his body buried in the sand like he saw one of our fellow
passengers having done. We got there around 10:00 or 10:30, so it was
not very crowded at all and we had our choice of a palapa (table
shaded by palm leaf roof). Around lunchtime we ordered some appetizers
and beers. We had the best guacamole and it was a serving bigger than
I have ever seen. For the appetizers and four beers
in all, it was only $20.
Dinner times on the ship were moved early to
allow passengers time to go back out onto the island. Our early
seating was at 5:00 pm (the other was at 5:30). And the late seatings
were at 7:00 and 7:30. After dinner we went to the Mini Golf (or
Golfito) that I had read. It was as nice as I had read; it was
beautiful and lush. It was $7 each for 18 holes ($3 for a plastic
putter for our son). And beers were $2 each and $1 for a bottle of
water. And just as described, we were given a walkie talkie to call in
for additional drinks, delivered to our hole. We all had a fun time
and the mini-golf. And enjoyed meeting Scott (although Sally wasn't
Grand Cayman: We went to Seven Mile
Beach where there is public accesses in between many of the hotels
along the beach. The hotels do not own the beach, but the beach chairs
are only for the guests. Having a three year old at the beach does not
allow for lounge time on the chairs anyway, so we went onto a
beautiful stretch of beach near the Westin Hotel and played in the
sand. To get up to the Westin, we took the bus, which is really a van.
Either yellow #1 or lime green #2 will take you out to Seven Mile
Beach. The cost is $2.00 CI (or $2.50 US) per person. After we
returned to town, we stopped in a grocery, Fort Market, where they had
the 16 oz. rum cakes for $10 (they were $12 on the ship).
Ocho Rios: The Island Village Complex
just opened in February 2002. You can see it off to the right of the
pier. It is an easy walk from the pier, but you have to walk out
through the taxis inland to get to the entrance on the right. There
are many shops and restaurants including Jimmy Buffet's
Margaritaville. We walked through a little and then stopped at
Margaritaville. They have a nice pool with a cool slide. There is a
little bit of beachfront too, where our son spent some time playing in
the sand. There was a sand volleyball court, but no one was playing.
Although, we were there early and I think it got busier and a little
more active, later in the day. The margaritas and the mango daiquiris
We booked a USAir flight direct from Miami to Pittsburgh scheduled
to depart at 2:00 pm. We learned about a month before our trip that
the flight departure time was changed to 12 noon. I was very concerned
about being able to make this. I thought about calling USAir to try to
change it, but when I looked at the other flights, there really wasn't
a favorable alternative.
Early in the week, I inquired at the Purser's
desk about debarking with the first group. He instructed me to bring
my tickets to the desk. Upon doing so, he issued me luggage tags to be
in the first group and told me where to be Sunday morning. I started
getting antsy while waiting for the ship to be cleared. At about 9:45
am, someone arrived to our lounge to tell us that the ship had been
cleared and we could proceed to the Empress Deck for debarkation.
We had no trouble getting a taxi and it is a
short drive to the airport. There was not a long line at the ticket
counter, however there was a long line at security. Nevertheless,
after passing through security I looked at my watch and it was 11:00
am. I think a flight earlier than 12 noon could be problematic and we
were fortunate that everything went smoothly and had no problem making
We had a fabulous vacation. It was a wonderful family trip for us;
we got to spend time with our son and some time just the two of us as
well, while our son had a ball with the other kids. I hope there is
some helpful information for any of you planning to go soon!