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Ken Wanamaker

Age: 60

Occupation:Retail Management

Number of Cruises: 0

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Paradise

Sailing Date: 10-27-2008

Itinerary: Catalina-Ensenada

I had read both terrible and fabulous reviews of this particular cruise, but for me, it was exquisite. The staff was over-the-top friendly and the service was top-notch. If I passed an employee in the hall he/she would always acknowledge me. I was in awe at the facilities in this ship and how well-maintained it all was. There were over 2000 passengers aboard and I never felt crowded, not even on our day at sea when all were aboard. I never had a problem finding a quiet place to curl up with a book and cup of coffee. There are numerous well-appointed bars and lounges to choose from. I especially liked the one with the copper bas-relief wall decorations. Several had pianists at cocktail hour and that was quite soothing. I did not avail myself of the spa but I made certain I got a long walk every day about the decks or the running track on the sun deck. I also opted to use the stairs instead of elevator, but by late Thursday my knees were feeling it. Lol.

My dining time was 6:00 in the Destiny dining room and I never had to wait to be seated. I traveled single and was seated in a booth with a couple about my age who hailed from Seattle and they were very fine conversationalists. Food was superb. On dress-up night I had the lobster and shrimp and was quite pleased. Another memorable dish was the Fillet of Perch. I also enjoyed, as appetizer, the cold strawberry soup and the cold mango soup. But you have a fine list of appetizers to sample and these changed each night as did the entrees. The melting chocolate cake was devilishly delicious. And always warm bread served by the assistant from a basket. The team of waiters remembered my name from evening to evening. The moment I sat down a napkin was in my lap and someone appeared to get me a cocktail.

I ate breakfast in the Elation dining room which is walk-in. I was always seated at a table of ten with different dining acquaintances each morning. That was neat. Soon as I sat down someone appeared with a basket of assorted pastry. Next I ordered juice and melon. The Eggs Benedict had been pre-prepared and the sauce was a bit dry from sitting in the pan. So on subsequent days I ordered the cheese omelet which was moist and fine. The serving was small but it was enough for me.

I ate lunch in the Paris restaurant on the Lido deck. This is buffet style and featured a different foreign cuisine each day and an over-stocked and decadent dessert area. I sat out on the deck to eat as the days were sunny and warm. They also have a sushi bar that is open most of the day and a gourmet pizza bar which is very fine. I ate there once when I got the late-night munchies.

The cabin was quite small compared to a hotel room. I suggest if you are sharing a cabin that you know the person quite well and are accustom to close quarters. I had an ocean view room, mid-ship, and it was delightful to wake up to the sea outside my room. But it was too cool in the evening and I could not, as in a hotel room, get any heat. But I did adjust the flow of air and they had a down blanket in the room that I used. They have a neat little safe which required a magnetic strip to open and close. They didn't want you using you ship card nor credit card so I used my grocery store discount card! lol. My steward was a friendly little Filipino guy and he turned up my bed twice a day, left the cruise newsletter, mints, and cute little towel animals. There were soft drinks and water on the dresser but you pay extra for these. I didn't avail myself of them. BTW you can buy a soda card which entitles you to free sodas on the trip. I drink very little soda so I did not use this.

This cruise was mainly a relaxation trip for me so I did not plan to participate in activities. When I noticed they had a listing that said ˜Friends of Dorothy" meet, 11:00 pm in Rotterdam Bar I headed up, but found only heterosexual couples. No singles of any kind, either night they had that listing. So I figured I must be the only ˜friend of Dorothy" aboard. The casino was well-appointed but I didn't gamble. I brought some extra cash to play live poker but the tables were the new computerized contraptions and I wanted the experience of a live table and dealer.

Stay away from:
Downtown Ensenada
The eggs Benedict

Don't miss:
The production shows
Dress-up night
the strawberry soup

This was my first cruise. The check-in process was highly efficient. After making the four hour trip form Vegas to Long Beach I parked in the parking structure at 12:30 pm. I was in my stateroom by 1:00. I opted to carry on my two pieces of luggage rather than have them checked and delivered later. I was warmly greeted by the cabin steward who was friendly throughout the trip. Then I then headed up to the Paris restaurant for lunch and hung out on the outer deck with coffee and a book. At about 5:00 they had they held the life boat drill which is mandatory. It was cumbersome and time consuming, but absolutely necessary. The lifeboat drill ended too close to my 6:00 dining time, leaving me just 15 minutes to get ready for dinner.

As for ports-of-call, I wasn't on the cruise particularly to visit Ensenada nor Catalina, so I did not book excursions. I got off the boat anyway and enjoyed meandering about Catalina for a couple of hours. Because the Catalina harbor is too shallow to dock they tender you to shore in small boats. Ensenada was terrible. I had not purchased an excursion to Buffadora so I hung around downtown. I got bothered quite a bit by street hawkers, the Chicklet kids and it wasn't the cleanest of places. I went back to ship after an hour.

There are many photo opportunities and dress-up night was a lot of fun. As for the entertainment I only took in the production shows, both of which were well-done. They don't come up to the grandeur and scale of the big production shows here in Vegas, but for a cruise ship they were fine. The dancing was great as were the costumes. The lead male singer left something to be desired, but the black female vocalist was tops.

The checkout process was quick and easy. I opted to leave my bag in the hall the night before so that I could have breakfast before debarking at 9:00. If you want to carry your own bags you have to disembark earlier.

In all, this was a trip which I took to relax and be pampered and I was 100% pleased.

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