Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Paradise
Sailing Date: February 29th, 2004
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
We sailed the Paradise on February 29th on its Eastern Caribbean Cruise.
Same as last year, we took our 2 children (13 & 10) along with us. Everything was perfect!!! We flew Jetblue from Syracuse to Fort Lauderdale - only 2 hours drive from our home in Ottawa / Canada and got a great rate for a car rental with Dollar through Travelocity - $29.00 for a full-size car. We stayed the night before at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami and returned the car the following day at the Miami airport - Dollar provides a complimentary shuttle to the port. We were at the port around 11:30am on Sunday and 55 minutes later we were standing in the lobby of the Paradise - no long lines or wait anywhere, which was totally different from last year's experience in Tampa. We had booked 2 inside cabins on the Riviera Deck and both were ready with our luggage standing by the door after we had lunch in the Paris Buffet restaurant on Lido deck...Amazing! This was our third cruise and we always booked insides because you don't spend much time in them. Save that money for good shore excursions!!!! The ship was very clean, no smoking anywhere (only until October 2004) and the staff was outgoing and very friendly. We had dinner every night in the Elation Dining Room and both food and service were outstanding - thanks Luna (waiter) and Arriz (assistant). We enjoyed our daily breakfast and lunch at the Paris restaurant and found the food there to be better than last year on the Sensation. The Pizzeria was a big hit with our kids and I have to admit that it was very good with a wide selection. Sushi bar was great although it was only available between 05:30pm to 08:30pm. Our dinner seating was at 05:45pm so it doesn't really provide you with sufficient time to enjoy sushis. The Vegas Style shows in the Normandie Show Lounge were all nice and professionally made but make it early if you want good seats. They had daily and evening activities for everyone's taste - karaoke, stand up comedian, big production shows, bingos, Survivor game, etc. All ports were nice especially St-Thomas. We booked a tour with Godfrey http://www.godfreytoursvi.com/ and it was only $20 per person, which is so much cheaper than buying on the ship. We booked through his web site and he phoned us back in Canada to confirm the time we would like to be picked up. He gives you 2 or 3 hours of shopping, a 2 hour/tour of the island + a 2-hour stop at a beach of your choice - Magen Bay or Coki Beach. He makes a stop at Mountain Top, which is the highest point of the island - no need to buy tickets for the Paradise Point Gondola that takes you only 500' above the port location. We choose Coki and the snorkeling there was really amazing. You can rent your gear right on the beach for $10, which includes the vest if you need one. Our kids truly enjoyed the experience!! In La Romana / Dominican Republic, we bought the Riverboat and Altos de Chavron tour with Carnival and it is worth the money ($236.00 for a family of four). We didn't buy any excursion for Nassau. We took a horse carriage tour of downtown for $30.00 and took a cab to Paradise Island to use the public beach beside the Sheraton. Don't buy the on-board tour for the Atlantis Hotel because you can tour the lobby aquarium and outside one for free. Cab is about $10 from Pier to Paradise Island. Tip for parents: bring walkie-talkies with you to keep in touch with your kids everywhere on-board. Disembarkation was fast and efficient and we were in our hotel in Fort Lauderdale by noon. Carnival provides you with great value for the money. We have sailed Premier and RCCL but Carnival is still our best choice for family travel!