Carnival LineParadise ReviewBaja MexicoKelvin Wade
Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Paradise
Sailing Date: October 22nd, 2007
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Carnival Cruise Line
Paradise Cruise Review
My girlfriend Cathi and I had wanted to go on this cruise a long time. We’d tried to do as much of our homework as possible. We flew into LAX from Sacramento on the morning of our cruise. We were surprised to find that our names weren’t on Carnival’s transfer list. But despite the mix-up, they let us on the bus and after two trips around LAX on the bus, we headed for the Port of Long Beach. Since Carnival’s transportation was $52 per person round trip, next time we may just take a cab since I’ve heard it’s around the same price. No hassles. No lists. No waiting for other passengers.
We arrived at the huge domed cruise terminal. I’d seen so many photos of the dome, the Queen Mary and the Carnival Paradise that to see them all in person was almost surreal. The porter loaded our bags from the bus to a cart and wheeled them into the terminal. We tipped him a dollar per bag. They allow no food inside the terminal so Cathi had to dump the Coke she was drinking and I gobbled down the candy bar in my hand. Checking in would’ve been easier with a passport, but we had photo IDs and birth certificates. While the people who waved us through the metal detector and helped check us in with our sign and sail cards were efficient, they weren’t exactly friendly. We took a nice embarkation photo and went up the escalator to the gangplank and boarded the Carnival Paradise. From the arrival of the bus to boarding the ship probably took a half an hour.
It was only around noon and we knew our room wouldn’t be ready until 1:30. (We had room E71 on the Empress Deck, an ocean view stateroom). We took the elevators up to the Lido Deck, walked by the pool and whirlpools and into the Paris Restaurant. We had a quiet lunch. I’d read that the food was mediocre and I’d have to concur. It was no different that first day than a typical buffet. Cathi bought me a Fountain Fun Pass that gave me unlimited soft drinks for $5.50 per day.
At 1:30, we headed downstairs to our cabin. It was good-sized with two twin beds. It was also decorated for my birthday with streamers, signs and a chocolate cake. Our room was a disabled cabin. The only difference was that the doors were wider and there was no lip on the bottom of the shower. But at 185 sq. feet, it was the same amount of real estate as the rest of the ocean view cabins. There was enough closet space and storage space, a color TV, cabin phone, desk and two chairs.
We breakfasted every morning in the Elation Dining room. I’d heard that the buffet food was repetitive. You have no control over who you’re seated with but we were seated next to great people for the most part. You have your choice of bagels and cream cheese, salmon, omelet's, eggs, sausage, ham or bacon, eggs benedict, pancakes, Belgian waffles, toast, baked apples etc.. You can mix and match. The baked apple is served cold. Also, if you order eggs benedict make sure you order extra hollandaise on the side. It’s no problem. The food is delicious.
The Sun Deck, the top of the ship, is a good getaway spot. There’s a track up there for walking, mini golf course and deck chairs. Not many people up there and the views are breathtaking. The Verandah Deck on the aft of the ship has a pool and two whirlpools and tons of deck chairs that are also one of the best kept secrets on the ship.
We were looking forward to the formal night. We were looking forward to lobster and prime rib but Cathi fell ill and we didn’t go. Bummer. We did utilize room service and it worked well. You can only order cold sandwiches and desserts and breakfast via room service but it is 24 hours and it is free. The first time we ordered something, it was delivered in 14 minutes. The second time we used it, our food, a BLT (they pile on the bacon) with potato chips, shrimp salad sandwich with potato salad and a roast beef and brie sandwich, cheesecake, brownies and cookies, was delivered in 9 minutes!
Catalina: Can’t give you a review of our first port of call since we didn’t get off the ship. The beauty of it is that the ship pretty much empties out and you have the run of the ship from the pools, the whirlpools, deck chairs, bars…although a lot of places are closed. It was still great walking around an almost empty ship. It’s a great time to explore. We took pictures of Catalina from the Sun Deck and watched the tenders go back and forth while reading and listening to music on our iPods.
My girlfriend went to the spa and had a 75 minute massage for $145. But the actual massage lasted even longer than that. She swears by the spa.
We ate at the Paris Restaurant a couple of lunches. The food was okay. The pizza was hot and fresh. The Lido Deck Grill had hamburgers and hot dogs and French fries that were plentiful and hit the spot.
I liked spending time in the Leonardo having a drink, people watching and reading. Cathi shopped in the duty free shops aboard. She bought great souvenirs and we got a great price on Crown Royal, buying two bottles. We also bought Jack Daniels and Kahlua.
We saw two shows in the Normandie Lounge. Both were comedians. The first was Lowell Sanders and he was hilarious. It was a late night, R rated show, and if you’re into that kind of thing, it was funny. The other show was supposed to be a magic show but the magician couldn’t make it to the ship due to the fires in Southern California. So, he was replaced with another comedian, Jerome, who did a family act that was also very funny.
We had the late seating in the Destiny Dining room. Our waiter Manuel was excellent. He took care of us in every way. His service was impeccable. We had delicious appetizers like smoked duck, French onion soup served over homemade bread and cheese, and tiger prawns. We dined on main courses like salmon, Tenderloin of Beef Wellington (melt in your mouth), NY Strip Steak and Chateaubriand in a béarnaise sauce. The food was excellently prepared and presented and delicious. The chocolate melting cake and vanilla ice cream is a must. One night I had the assorted cheese plate for dessert and that’s delightful as well. The waiters danced for us and it was hilarious. The music was pounding and tacky and lights pulsated and flashed. It was over the top but definitely memorable. About the Baked Alaska…order two. Mmmm…
Ensenada: Upon getting off the ship and turning around, we were struck by just how massive the Paradise is. Right on the dock is a little shopping center selling medicine, fake Coach and Louis Vuitton gear, trinkets, beverages and Cuban cigars. Through that shopping center are a line of buses that will take you downtown. It’s $3 per person roundtrip. Cathi and I took a van downtown. We were disappointed when it dropped us off near a park (with a homeless guy sleep in it) and no direction about what to do. But here’s what we advise anyone to do. Across the boulevard from the place they drop you off is a taxi stand. Be careful crossing the street. The cabbies were so nice. They’ll take you anywhere and it’s really cheap. They may offer to take you to the traditional places like La Budafora (the blowhole) but just tell them no, if you don’t want to go. We went shopping and bought lots of souvenirs.
Instead of waiting for the buses to take you back to the ship (you have to wait until they’re full before they take you back), we just grabbed a cab driver and they took us back for $4. Now, it would’ve cost us two dollars to take the bus back but we would’ve had to wait. Two extra dollars? No biggie. It was great.
The Internet Café gives you 60 minutes of internet time for $24. Be advised that it’s not the fastest connection because it is satellite. Since our room was so close to the internet café, I was able to access the ship’s wifi from our cabin. But you can use it in any public area or at the row after row of computers in the Internet Café. AOL is already loaded on the computers if you use that.
We spent a little time and very little money in the casino. The casino is one of the few areas on the ship that allows smoking, if that’s your thing. We don’t smoke so it was kind of hard to sit there and inhale that smoke while gambling but that’s what you have to do in Vegas or Reno, so.
The Café Il France Coffee shop serves coffees and delicious pastries for a small fee. While it’s not Starbucks, it’s good quality.
The sea day was a lot of fun. Lots of pool activity and hot tub. The Calypso band on the stage on the Lido Deck was good. They played a variety of hits with a calypso beat. We asked them if they had a CD but couldn’t hear what the bassist said. Bummer. We liked the music even though it was a bit too loud.
The last night was Mardi Gras. There was a Dixieland band at the Paradise Bar playing familiar tunes while Carnival employees danced on the bar tossing beads to people gathered around clapping and dancing.
I’ve read many reviews saying the Paradise is showing her age and I don’t think that’s fair. If you consider that this ship was built in 1998 and has seen thousands upon thousands of passengers in near constant use, she looks very nice. Crew members are constantly cleaning. While we were onboard, a crew member was adding a new coat of varnish to the railings.
The debarkation process was quick. The lines are long but they move quickly. We were off the ship in thirty minutes. Customs didn’t care about the amount of alcohol we bought or anything. Great.
It was a great first cruise. We regretted that we couldn’t do everything we wanted to do. There are so many things to do and see. We also didn’t like the fact that twice we were solicited by people selling products. These weren’t Carnival people, but no one is going on vacation to be hit on as a customer. We would go again. We’re hooked. We’re cruisers. Take this cruise!