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Age: 23


Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Paradise

Sailing Date: December 17th, 2004

Itinerary: Baja, Mexico

This was my second cruise with Carnival and my 10th cruise overall. I have never been on a cruise this short before but was eager to go since I had heard that there would be younger people on this weekend cruise as opposed to the longer cruises with older people.

My party and I arrived at LAX at approx. 11 am and took a stretch limo to Long Beach to board the Carnival Paradise. We arrived at the pier at 12:15pm and found two LOOOONG lineups and mass confusion. Nobody knew what was going on or which line was for whom. I asked a woman with a clipboard where the "funpass" ticket holders should go and she mumbled something I didn't understand. I was too impressed. They need to work on the embarkation process and let people know what is happening instead of herding everyone around like chattel. This cruise critic gives embarkation a well deserved D!

After we boarded the ship we went directly to our room which was R198 toward the rear of the ship. It was on outside cabin near the aft elevators. It was tacky and looked like your typical Carnival layout. The nasty orange paint was beyond sickening. We had a great room steward who was friendly and attentive and greeted us upon arrival. The room was standard, I guess. Last time I sailed on Carnival (Spirit 2002) I was in a suite, so this was a real step down for me. Layout and design of outside cabin deserves a C.

We had a blast trying to navigate the ship. As soon as we got on we began exploring and checking out the various venues. The ship (although gaudy and distastefully decorated) was easy to navigate and pretty straightforward. Layout of the ship gets an A!

The food on the Lido deck was surprisingly good. I liked it! The dining room selections were somewhat good but the desserts left something to be desired. The majority of the desserts taste like they have no sugar, which really annoyed my group. Overall the food was good so I will award it with an A as well.

Our Waiter Albert was great (and cute, but married) and so was his assistant Seksit. They remembered our names and were very attentive to our needs. They also showed us how to do the little "Carnival" dance and gave us a congo demonstration. FANTASTIC! The service in the dining (early seating) was superb and was at par with the service I have had on Celebrity and HAL. Dining room service? An A+ all the way!

We made good use of the pools and hot tubs aboard the ship although they were very crowded during the day. I was annoyed because there is a hot tub that is designated for 18 and over only yet several children were in it splashing around. Bad, bad, bad! Since many parents choose to neglect their disrespectful spawn, I think Carnival should instruct their staff to enforce these rules. There is also a deck above the Hot tub and pool area by the aft smokestack that permits topless sunbathing and is designated ADULTS ONLY and prohibits loitering. My friends and I ascended to this area to bask in peace. No sooner do we get up there and some gross old guy comes up there to gawk. I threatened to inform security if he didn't move along.

There isn't too much going on in Ensenada so if you are looking for excitement and thrills head to Acapulco or (even better) Mexico City. To be honest, it is a real dump and I will not be going back anytime soon. It smells like dishwater and it is very run-down. A REAL disappointment! Fake watches and nasty knockoffs. Save your money, the crap is waaay overpriced! The only good thing about this place is that you can get some good Cuban Cohibas to smoke on the ship. The town itself is a sleepy little fishing town with vendors selling junk and plenty of vagrant children. Some children will approach you with a sign asking for money so that they can eat. Don't fall for it! It is an organized scam as I noticed the parents were usually in the vicinity to egg the children on and tell them who to approach. If you give a dollar to one of them you will be swamped as they all flock toward you to beg. Although they are only children, the Mexican government and the US Embassy has warned tourists in Mexico not to give handouts to beggars and vagrants. Do so at your own peril!

Another quick word of caution for women cruisers in Ensenada: I would advise against leaving the ship by yourself to explore the city. Many Mexican men regard young American women as "on the make" or "easy" and will not hesitate to stare, hiss, holler or even grope you as you pass. My girlfriend and I were simply walking along the street when a couple of perverts in their 20's started to harass us. The best thing to do is ignore them or (even better) walk with a male companion. You never know what these perverts will try to pull, so beware and consider wearing a frock on your outing!

As soon as you get off the ship you will be herded through a little market full of vendors selling more garbage and rude shuttle drivers trying to line everyone up to take the bus into town for "only $2"! DON'T DO IT! You can walk, it's not that far. Only takes 10 minutes. Besides these Mexican shuttle drivers are real con artists who try to make everyone think they have to line up and take the shuttle or they will be hopelessly stuck in Ghetto Mexico. I kept my 2 dollars and got the exercise!

All in all this is an okay cruise. Nothing to write home about but it was a change. I will travel on Carnival again but not on another 3 day cruise. It is too short for my liking. Although the people are younger, I would prefer not to cruise with groups of raunchy Las Vegas strippers and frat boys who were rather raucous and rowdy (especially after the stop in Ensenada). This cruise is great if you want to cruise but you can not afford a longer vacation on a premium line. That being said, I will give this cruise 3 out of 5 stars.

Camille C




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