Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Paradise
Sailing Date: April, 2001
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Our family has had many wonderful experiences! Here is our glance at our voyage on the grand old Holiday! She is old, but she is still amazing if you set your mind on being kind and relaxing.
The port in New Orleans is great to park at, but not so easy to get to with all your luggage. Plan ahead of time to get there early and board the cruise ship with your bathing suite in your carry on, as you may not see your suitcase for hours after boarding. NOTE: there is no water in the pool until you are at sea the next day, and it is salt water in the pools, but we spent time laying out and relaxing while others were wondering why they too did not bring their suites with them. We drove from New Hampshire, yes, we are that crazy! But what a way to see America! We spent 2 weeks traveling and cruising and bonded as a family in way I could never have dreamed of! Stay the night before if you can an soak in the New Orleans vibe, it is rich and fun. Try a binget (sp?) at café de mond, walk the waterway, we did Bourbon Street at noon and my boys still got an eye full and the streets do smell a bit rank, even at noon time! We loved the buildings, the food, and the people. We love southern charm!
My husband and I were lucky enough to have booked our cabin with the option of an upgrade. We were pleasantly surprised when we checked in we were bumped to the Veranda deck…. WOW! We had a balcony right under the DAY of HOLIDAY and looked into the bridge from our balcony. We had a Jacuzzi tub, two beds, pullout sectional, and amazing views! GREAT surprise! The carpet and décor is not new or even very fashionable but who cares, we were not there to stay in a cabin! We paid for the gift packages for the boys, DON’T GET THE KIDS HATS OR SHIRTS unless you order much larger than your expect. The large child did not fit my 12 year old at all! We needed adult sizes for both boys…. They fixed the shirts for us, but not the hats, the hats fit on a small child! We gave them to a 5 & 7 year old across the hallway. Cabins are private and quiet, lots of ability to disappear if you want.
We, my husband and I, loved the ship. We were able to relax and play, quality time with or without the boys! The Holiday is not a new ship, she is a bit over the hill, but she is still able to provide all we needed to relax and have the time of our lives for our 10 day break! The Holiday may be older but, if you allow her to, she can pamper your soul and allow you to see the world from an entire new view! I got my husband a massage surprise at the spa and they burnt his back, he is still scarred today,. BEWARE of the spa treatments. The cruise line has nothing to do with the spa treatments, we had to fight to get the massage money refunded. He was on antibiotics for 10 days after the doctors visit from the burns, poor baby! BAD last day for him.
We have a special needs child, our youngest child has high functioning autism. Carnival’s special needs coordinator is the reason we stay with Carnival! Bravo to them for making our life so easy onboard. We have had very good luck with the Camp Carnival program. Our son has been allowed to do all the camp activities he wants with close care and they allowed him to stay with the younger group of campers since their activities were more to his ability levels. The camp allowed us to have freedom and we were always just a page away…. Great idea! The Carnival’s daily newspaper allowed us to plan what activities he wanted to do and what he wanted to skip ahead of time. He loved the camp program and wanted to do many of the fun activities and felt very comfortable in the surroundings. He even participated in the Camp Carnival talent show and believe it or not, HE WON! Singing the world famous song, “nifty fifty”!
Our oldest son loved the teen program! He was able to hang out with peers in fun activities, yet he still had the ability to take off and explore the ship when he wanted. Arcade nights, closed teen disco nights, midnight pool parties, midnight buffets, and even scavenger hunts to thrill a teen! He spent a lot of time eating ice cream and pizza…. All free- twenty-four hours a day - every day! The soda card is s VERY good idea if you have a soda kind of kid. Our oldest son got our moneys worth in soda with the card! (We liked the free lemonade and tea ourselves…the soda card would have been a rip-off for us.) Our oldest decided Disney and other themed vacations have NOTHING on a cruise with the family. We kept in touch with walkie-talkies, GREAT IDEA! Get them ahead of time and you and your kids can have freedom with all the benefits of being close and the rental fees onboard can pay for a set back home.
Research the tours ahead of time, we have saved a lot of money booking tours on our own when possible, we also took plenty of carnival booked tours but saves a lot of money on some tours going it solo.. Relax and enjoy the tours, Carnival may run late leaving but we still had a blast on our tours. We loved Jamaica’s Dunn’s river falls tour, beautiful for the physically fit… not for couch potatoes! Swim with the dolphins, snorkel, take a city tour, see the sites around you. Some places in Mexico charge a camera and camcorder fee…..stupid but true, beware! Be a smart cruiser and research the plans and costs, and don‘t forget your bottled water!
When you go on a cruise I have a few recommendations
#1- Bring bottled water with you from home, it is WAY over priced on the boat and at some ports and you need it for day trips!
#2- BE NICE! I am always amazed at the “bitching” some people do when they are on vacation! RELAX…. Be nice, it wont hurt! The ship wont leave without you if you are on a planned tour. You will make life easier for EVERYONE if you chill out on vacation.
#3- Plan tips ahead of time, have them in envelopes marked for each attendant and move cash as needed for excellent service. Planning ahead of time leaves the time to relax & not scramble the last day for tip money. Remember to tip CAMP CARNIVAL people, they are not a part of the “tip rules”, but they deserve it more than a head waiter you’ll never see, ha-ha. We tipped them best of all!
#4- BE NICE! Again, I say don’t go on a ship with attitude, relax, say hello to others, make friends, live! You are here to have fun…. If you want a personal servant don’t go on Carnival, this is a real people cruise line, not a goddess/god program. High maintenance people, get a private boat, ok?
#5- Don’t belittle the staff, many languages are part of the charm of a cruise ship….. Meet many different people and learn from them, smile!
#6- Did I mention BE NICE! Standing in line for a pizza can be fun, don’t gripe because you want to sit……….MOVE, it burns off all the food you are eating anyway!
#7- bring underwater cameras, batteries,sea sickness patchs or pills, and sun-block with you! They are sooooooooooo expensive on the boat and at the ports, Wal*mart has them super cheap, load up! I actually gave a guy 2 AA batteries- because the port charged $5. For 2 batteries!
#8- Thank the staff when you see them daily, they are here for you and take much better care of you when you are kind….. Gripers don’t get the perks positive people do!
#9 - Get out an see the world, it is an amazing place! People can be wonderful! Our world is getting so much smaller, and I am happy to have met many amazing people and seen how the rest of the world lives…. We are so blessed in America.
#10- finally, spend time looking at your family, watch the learning and smiling , it is a calm peace you can easily forget about in day to day life. What a blessing you are on this vacation and with these amazing people. Cherish life and tell the people around you, you love them. Just my advise to you!
I wish you an amazing vacation, please relax, look
around at the world, it is such a blessing that you are meeting the people you
are meeting today. See the beauty in the world, the poverty of Belize was a
sincere wake-up call to my boys, we appreciate the pizza, clean water, and the
comforts of life in America. It was an education I can never put a price tag on,
EVER! My boys saw how lucky they are and now they send money and school supplies
to charity groups that see everyday what we saw on vacation. You could never put
a price on that type of experience. May you have a wonderful trip and remember….
BE NICE AND LEARN!