Carnival LineParadise ReviewBaja MexicoLiz
Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Paradise
Sailing Date: March 16th, 2007
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Carnival Cruise Line
Paradise Cruise Review
Not having booked our own flight into LA, we arrived at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal at around 8 am. Luckily there were porters waiting at the drop off point and one of them told us we could check our luggage and possibly get an early boarding time to get on the ship early. He directed us to the early check-in desk at the Queen Mary and told us we might be able to get on as early as 11:30 am. Otherwise if we missed that check-in we’d have a LONG wait as there would be about 2000 other people trying to get on. He also told us we could kill time by taking the shuttles to downtown Long Beach.
We headed over to the Queen Mary and were told by the concierge that the early check-in desks would not open for another 30 minutes or so and he suggested that we have breakfast aboard the QM. We decided to go look for the check-in desk anyway since we wanted to get it over with as soon as possible and take the shuttles to Long Beach. Since we got there early, the gate at the tail-end of the QM was not open yet so we had a hard time finding the desk from where we entered. I would suggest waiting until they open the gate at the tail end of the ship (the opposite end from the ship’s Main Entrance, where we talked to the concierge). Once you get past that gate you have to walk through a little museum looking area and then there are signs. Check-in was really fast as there was no line when we were there. We had to present our credit cards to set up our Sail & Sign accounts & were issued our room keys, which also served as our Sail & Sign cards. We got ourselves checked-in and were told to be at the entrance to the big dome @ the terminal at 12:30.
We decided to take the shuttle to downtown Long Beach since we had time and since only a few of the shops at the Cruise Terminal were actually open. Even if we did stay it would have probably only killed about 15 minutes of our wait. The shuttle ride took about 10 minutes. We didn’t know where we were going so we just got off when everyone else did (I think it was the shuttle’s main stop, across the street from the Convention Center). We walked a few blocks in the opposite direction of the Convention Center and found a great open market. The open market apparently is only there on Fridays. There were some other shops like Nordstrom Rack, Wal-Mart, Ross, and some other stores like that. We caught the shuttle back to the terminal and got there a few minutes after 12:30. We were scared that we missed our chance to get on-board but luckily we didn’t. Getting through the “dome” was fast. We had to go through a security area then they took our photo and we were on the ship!
Once on the ship we found out that the rooms would not be available until 1:30 so we went to go find someplace to eat. Warning…when you first hit the pool deck, they’ll try to hand you a drink. We thought it was a complimentary “welcome aboard” drink but it turned out to be their drink of the day which I think cost around $6 or $7. We ate at the buffet then went to go look for the track & gym. The track on the ship is REALLY small. Maybe 100 laps = 1 mile????? Haha…idk. We weren’t able to check out the gym just yet because it wasn’t open yet.
When we got to our room I was surprised at how small and cramped it seemed. I think it was because we didn’t have any windows maybe? I was also disappointed that the bathroom didn’t have a bathtub, only a shower. It seemed very institutional and designed for function over form. The floor actually had a drain built directly into it for easy cleaning. It reminded me of a locker room. We were provided a few amenities that I didn’t expect including a sample pack of toothpastes (4 different flavors of Crest), 2 disposable razors, a trial size Dove deodorant, sample sizes of hair gel & leave-in conditioner. There were also the usual things like soap and shampoo. Overall I think our room reminded me of my college dorm room.
I think we got our luggage at around 3 and we relaxed & unpacked until 4:30 when there was a mandatory emergency drill. Everyone needed to put on their life vests and head out to assigned waiting areas. Kind of funny to see a room full of people with life vests on. After the drill we went to the deck to wait to set sail at around 5:45.
My boyfriend felt slightly seasick the first night so we ate dinner at the buffet, rather than in the dining room. After taking some meds he felt better so we headed to the casino.
The next morning we woke up already in Ensenada. We didn’t book any shore excursions through the ship so we just got off. We were told that that horseback riding, ATV rides and Mini Jeep excursions are the ones to sell out so if you’re interested I would book it in advance or head to the excursion desk as soon as you get on the ship. Once we got off the ship we took a shuttle for $3 to downtown. ($2 to go, $1 to come back, paid in advance.) During the ride a guy with the shuttle company told us about a tour they have to La Bufadora for $15 per person ($5 cheaper than the one offered by the ship). We figured since the trip to La Bufadora would only take about 3 – 4 hours we would have more than enough time to explore downtown after we got back. The ride was about 30 minutes to La Bufadora and the guide was really entertaining and informative.
When we got there the guide told us to meet back at the bus in an hour & a half. He then took us down to the actual “blowhole” and then we were free to walk around the open market shops. We spent like 30 seconds @ the blowhole since we have one back home but I must say what I did see was pretty impressive. The open market is basically a bunch of shops along the road down to the blowhole so we just browsed as we walked back up the road towards the shuttle. It was really fun but we didn’t have enough time. In fact, everyone on the tour agreed that an hour and a half was not enough time. We contemplated eating at one of the eateries but were glad we didn’t because it would have taken up too much of our time. We almost missed the shuttle and we actually ended up leaving 2 people behind because they were late! My boyfriend and I bought blankets, Mexican candy, a “Gucci” bag, some artwork, some things from the “pharmacy”, and a bunch of miscellaneous souvenirs. The tour bus dropped us off back in downtown Ensenada. Since we had so much stuff we decided to go back to the ship to drop it off then come back. The ride from downtown to the ship only takes about 5 minutes so it was no big deal. Getting back on the ship was quick too. You only have to go through a security check point and you’re back on.
Downtown Ensenada was filled with the usual touristy-shops you would expect to see. There are a few unique shops here and there but for the most part it seems like the shops are pretty similar to what we saw in La Bufadora and the prices were about the same. I was definitely glad we went to La Bufadora because I think spending all day in downtown would have been too long. I wanted to send postcards to some people and had no trouble finding many pretty ones. But it was nearly impossible to find a place that sold stamps. And then to find a mailbox to mail them was another headache. I think it took us almost 2 hours total??? And after all that trouble my friends & family still have not received them and it’s been almost 2 weeks. Oh well.
After we returned to the ship at around 5:30, my boyfriend and I realized we had not eaten all day and regretted not trying anything in Mexico. There were LOTS of places selling food in downtown so we could have easily gotten something to eat. I guess we just forgot.
That night was formal night on the ship I think but we didn’t get dressed up because we were tired. We did walk around though and took lots of pictures at the photo stations. I would definitely recommend this because you only have to pay if you decide to purchase the photos. The photos are expensive though if you decide to buy. $23 for an 8 x 10! But they had a special that if you bought the 8 x 10 you would get free wallets so we had stuff to give to our families when we got back. Despite the prices, they were a nice memento of our trip and I don’t know when my boyfriend will be willing to take pictures again so I was happy! We went to Rex’s disco that night which was okay.
The next day at sea was alright. We spent some time on the deck just relaxing and reading. I would have swam but it was still pretty chilly and the hot tub was being hogged by the same group the whole day. That evening we played Bingo and watched a show called “Shout”. It was a little cheesy compared to Vegas shows I’ve seen but it was still entertaining.
When we got back to Long Beach on Monday we waited until they called our color tags to debark. We had them take our luggage off the ship for us so we had to put our bags outside our cabin by 11:30 or so the night before. I think they called our tag color (green) at around 8:30 or so. We left our cabin only to find a MASSIVE line to get off the ship. It would move every 10 minutes or so but when it moved it was pretty fast. In the dome we had to go through the immigration part then go and find our bags. That part was REALLY fast and a lot easier than I imagined. I think we were out by 9:15. It would have been a lot faster had the dummies in front of us read the debarkation procedures and followed the instructions given by the ship.
Overall I had a fun time. I would have enjoyed spending more time in Mexico as I’m not much of a gambler and show-watcher.
Other things to note:
Food – During the whole cruise we only ate at the buffet, the pizzeria & room service. We didn’t dine in the dining room which I wished we had at least once. The food @ the buffet was what you’d expect from a buffet. Some things were good while others weren’t. My boyfriend bought a drink card for unlimited soft drinks over the entire cruise. I think it was $5.50 per day. I was happy with the juice and water they had at the buffet although it was kind of sweet. We did order room service every night which was REALLY good. It took a while though and the drink card didn’t work for room service beverages.
Noise – I don’t know if it was just our cabin but I noticed a lot of noise throughout the whole day and night. You could hear people yelling, people running down the halls (both in our hallway and above us), things being dropped, mechanical noises, anything and everything. I was really tired so I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly but for light sleepers I think it would be kind of annoying.
Workout Facilities -- The gym seemed to have limited hours. My boyfriend works out religiously and is used to 24-Hour Fitness so he was kind of disappointed. He also commented that the machines had only like 50 pounds of weights so he couldn’t really get a good workout in. Also, the track was so small that he didn’t want to run it because he said he’d feel like a mouse in a wheel.
Stores -- I expected more stores to be on board like convenience stores or something. I think there were only three stores and they were only open from like 6 pm – 11 pm each day. I think it might have been because they could only be open while we were in international waters since they were duty free shops but I would have gladly paid the tax/duty in exchange for a shop that had more regular hours.
Motion sickness – To all the people who said that cruise ships are so big that you can’t feel it moving, I’m sorry to say but you’re wrong! As I mentioned before, my boyfriend felt ill the first day and I later felt funny the next two. It wasn’t really bad and neither of us threw up but it did make us feel slightly uncomfortable. It was like that feeling you get when you’re in an elevator and it stops really fast. Only all the time. While we were watching the shows you could see the curtains swaying back and forth. It was tolerable for us but for people who are susceptible to motion sickness it might not be too fun. We took motion sickness pills and they seemed to help. But the pills can’t stop the rocking feeling when you’re walking around.
Weather – I guess I was in my own dream world when I was thinking about what this cruise would be like since I did read the weather reports and I did see that the temps ranged from the low 50s – mid 70s. Nevertheless I imagined warm, sunny weather and packed warm-weather clothes. 90% of the trip was cold and kind of gloomy. Ensenada was chilly but I was able to get away with a sundress and a jacket. If the sun was out I think it would have been better. I was told that part of it was due to something called a marine layer.
The Crowd – I was surprised that there weren’t more young “spring breakers” on the cruise since we were going around Spring Break time. There were a few but they weren’t out of control or anything. Just annoying in that they took up the entire hot tub and didn’t seem to care that other people might want to use it. There seemed to be a good mix of all kinds of people on the ship. Aside from a few really obnoxious older couples in Bingo I think everyone seemed pretty well-behaved. Not what I expected on a Carnival cruise.
Phone reception – I have T-Mobile and my phone was able to catch for most of the trip. Whether or not I was being charged ridiculous rates I have yet to find out. I think T-Mobile said it would $1.50 a minute while I was in Mexico? We’ll see… My boyfriend also has T-Mobile but his phone didn’t have reception in our cabin. Actually it might not have had reception at all for the entire cruise but since I didn’t need to call him since we were together the whole time I don’t know. I did have to call T-Mobile to activate international calling before I left for my trip and I’m sure he didn’t do that so it could have been that his phone was not able to make any calls while we were out of the US.