Change in Paradise
Paradise Policy Switch
My wife Carol and I wanted a warm getaway from the dank drizzle and
gray overcast of winter in the Ohio Valley. It was Christmas time, and
email blitzes were bombarding us with sail/sale values on cruises, so we
were off to paradise—on Paradise. We could not wait to escape the weather for
a glimpse of the glistening turquoise waters that encapsulate the Caribbean
islands. Carnival Cruise Line’s Paradise would be our ship and this
would be our second time on the huge well-appointed luxury vessel. Paradise touted
a unique cruise industry specialty, but there is news afloat on that sea, so
let’s get into a review, opinion, and overview of this Christmas
Inaugural Voyage: It was November 25th 1998—passengers were
welcomed on Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, the ‘Paradise’. This was
the maiden voyage for the 70,000 ton ship which boasted the 12,000 square foot Nautica
Spa with its luxury atmosphere in the locker and steam room area. This was a
special day—as would be December 12th 2003—read on.
Here is an example of common headlines in the Cruise Industry of
1998: “AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY PRAISES CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES' LAUNCH OF
WORLD’S FIRST SMOKE-FREE CRUISE SHIP” On November 19, 1998 The American
Cancer Society Celebrates Great American Smokeout’ with ‘A Day on Paradise’
CBS News anchor Paula Zahn Christens Paradise at Society’s Black-Tie Gala...
a new era was beginning, read the news and press releases.
On December 12th 2003, I was interviewing the Paradise Hotel manager,
Mr. Keith Bunton, when a wire service announcement came across his computer. He
shared the world-wide announcement with me. “Carnival’s Paradise will
be redeployed to the West Coast as a smoking ship,” said Bunton. Bob
Dickinson, Carnival President worded the explanation quietly and briefly. “The Sept.20th, 2004 cruise of the Paradise will be the last
cruise the Paradise will offer as a non-smoking vessel.”
One has to wonder what went wrong with this seemingly savvy and
right policy for only one of its 21 ship (and growing) fleet—a one of a
kind ship in the world. Carnival is the largest and predominant cruise
corporation in the world, and the Paradise no-smoking icon seemed to be
right on course strategically.
Somber Mood: The dumped policy had been in place for six years—any
person who smoked on-board Paradise was disembarked at the closest
port and fined. This was adhered to, and was also the policy for the crew. On Dec. 12th,
when this non-smoking crew found out the news, they felt as though a family
tie had been broken... this news quickly spread among the over 2000 clients
on-board. How did this happen? How did the world’s only one hundred
percent smoke-free ship policy falter?
Some industry insiders speculate that non-smokers (78 percent of
Americans) just do not spend adequately on gambling and alcohol to make this
unique non-smoking cruise atmosphere viable. As an enthusiast and supporter
of this single world-wide ship policy, I was taken quite off guard—I was interviewing Mr. Bunton and asking how the
smoking policy was going after six years afloat. He stopped starkly and
said, “I am not being rude... listen to this” and he read the notice to me
from his computer. It was a bubble-burst to the mood in his office.
Ship: Paradise was the last in the Carnival Fantasy Class ship, which was
most successful to that point in Carnival history. The Paradise, features a
luxurious interior decor and a fine art collection in the style that is
legendary of historic ocean liners. She seemed to add an exclamation point
to the success of the Fantasy-class series having re-created the romance and
entertainment of a classic sea-voyage ambiance but in a contemporary atmosphere.
Paradise was built at Finland’s Kvaerner Masa-Ship-Yards.
Careful attention was given to hire and use only non-smoking workers on the
pride-filled project. Paradise was to give an alternative to those who
wanted to venture into casinos and piano bars aboard ships without taking in
unwanted smoke. Her crew was especially hand-picked and became like a family
of ardent non-smoking people from 34 countries with a goal: Keep Paradise
pure and clear of air! On December 12th 2003... that mission went, well—up in
Thus far in this review—I sound perhaps lamenting? The
soon to be abandoned policy for Paradise is in fact a loss to those of us
that saw a ray of sunlight in a concept for the 78 percent of us who do
not smoke, but in reality Paradise is 1/28 of the ships we have sailed, and
they all offer checks and balances to keep the clean-air-peace among clients. For example;
there is no smoking in show lounges on most ships, no smoking in dining
areas on most... and common areas about the ships of today are well ventilated. It is usually not a
Additionally, smokers today seem (at least 75 percent I estimate) more
courteous than smokers even five years ago. I have found though that on
mixed smoking vessels that I do avoid casinos, and piano bars, which is a
shame because we love a soda, low light, and the peaceful ambiance of jazz.
But, I am willing to give these two activities a bypass in return for the
tremendous value and variety of things to do on today’s cruise ships—from
small boutique cruise lines, river lines, to the mega-monsters that prowl
the seas—cruising is an unmistakably perfect
‘all-in-one-vacation.’ Cruisers unpack just once and enjoy a variety of
places along the way, along with fine food and entertainment.
Itinerary Selection: Paradise alternates routes out of Miami until its
September end to the no-smoking policy and redeployment in California.
We chose the eastern Caribbean route since we have done a western route five times. The
Paradise eastern route gives you three full days of glorious sun and sea
time... and three port stops: St. Thomas, Nassau Bahamas, and the Dominican
Republic. We enjoyed our route selection, and we chose to do non-scheduled
activities on all three stops using local cabs and splitting fares with new
friends. In St. Thomas it is a per-person ride fare to various points—like
our favorite, Sapphire beach—lovely water, and views of St. John’s and
the British Virgin Islands!
Overview: I feel Carnival should have kept the Paradise as its
shining one example of a smoke-free venue, or plan to designate another ship to replace
her in that concept. This would be a glowing banner for the cruise line and
supporters that touted her inaugural gala along with world health organizations—my
opinion—the concept should be kept alive!
As for a ship review? Paradise is a very
youthful, sleek and well maintained six year old in a growing industry that goes
one-up on everything every day. Paradise is still futuristic enough to keep clients
satisfied with her charm and overall amenities. Cabins are well appointed
with ample space. In fact, luckily we were placed in an outside forward
cabin, and our room steward told us, “You will have no children in
the front area of the ship. The cabins are slightly smaller and there are no
three or four person cabins.” This is a tip I had not thought of in the
past... forward is a good thing if you do not want to share other’s
The food and entertainment were quite
nice and the design of Paradise is one that works well for 2000 plus patrons. You can find a quiet place
to relax, or join in activities all about the huge, but personally attended
vessel. This was a sure-fire-four-star ship decked out festively for Christmas.
I suggest—always fly into your embarkation city the day before
your cruise. Our December cruise had bad weather in the Midwest and East
coast. You may imagine that this is irrelevant to your plans—but it is not.
Your plane is likely arriving from one of those city areas, so you will be
late and things get bogged down. With a city like Miami, why wouldn’t
you want to savor her magnificence for at least one day and evening? Ask your travel
agent about on-going specials for your cruise vacationing.
WHEN YOU SAIL:
Carnival Cruise Lines
Miami Visitors Center
to Carnival Cruise Reviews
courtesy of Carnival