Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Paradise
Sailing Date: December 27th, 2004
Itinerary: Baja, Mexico
We have cruised on Royal Caribbean 5 times, twice on Radiance of the Seas, twice on Monarch of the Seas, and once on Vision of the Seas. We have cruised to the Western Caribbean, Canada, Alaska and Baja Mexico with Royal Caribbean. We thought we should try another cruise line, so we picked Carnival, the FUN cruise-ship line. Our kids have cruised with us twice before, so this was our 6th cruise and the kids 3rd. So we took this cruise ready to try something new, but with our previous experiences in mind. In this review, I tend to compare this cruise with our previous ones.
We flew out of Seattle on Sunday December 26. We arrived at the El Segundo Embassy Suites Hotel about 7:00 PM PST. The Hotel is very nice. We had dinner at the hotel and watched Ty Pennington and crew on Extreme Home Makeover. On Monday, we had a complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel and were driven via Taxi to the Cruise ship in Long Beach. Arriving one day early and staying at a hotel is our way to make sure we don’t have travel problems and a nice relaxing way to start our vacations and shake off any travel stress.
We arrived at the port around 11:30, tipped the shuttle driver, and breezed through the check-in process. Since we arrived early, we pre-checked in on the Queen Mary and were able to get on board faster. By 12:30 we were in our rooms.
We had two inside cabins next to each other on the Rivera deck (deck 4). One cabin for my son and I, one cabin for my wife and daughters. Our cabins were MUCH bigger than the Inside cabins we have had on Royal Caribbean. There is plenty of drawer and closet space and the bathroom is also much bigger. The afternoon consisted of exploring the ship, having lunch in the Paris Cafe, purchasing Soda cards and enjoying the Ship. The Paradise is a very nice ship, and was decked out with holiday decorations. Very nice.
We were assigned first seating (6:15pm) in the Destiny dining room. The Destiny was nice and is comparable to the dining rooms on Royal Caribbean‘s Monarch of the Seas but no where, not even close, to being as nice as the dining rooms on the Vision of the Seas or Radiance of the Seas. The food was very good and Lobster was available on the first night. Royal Caribbean did not offer us Lobster on the 4 day Baja cruise that we previously went on. The entertainment was good (on the 2nd and 3rd nights), but, the seating is terrible. Lots and lots of obstructed view seating, and the backrests are too low.. Also, we didn‘t have a big show every night. Only on the 2nd and 3rd nights, but not on the 1st or 4th nights. The shows on the 1st or 4th nights were HORRIBLE. They each consisted of a very lackluster monologue from the cruise director and audience participation. Many of the fun late night games that we have enjoyed on other cruise ships were not to be found. The “Newlywed“ game on the ship was awful. I would have to say that Carnival Paradise did the minimum when it came to evening entertainment. The only positives were the two Broadway style shows on the 2nd and 3rd nights.
Dreadful. Camp Carnival treats it more like a babysitting/daycare than trying to be fun and creating a cruise experience for the kids. All the activities were very babyish and boring. My children, ages 9, 11, and 14 hated Camp Carnival and didn’t want anything to do with it. There's nothing to do, was the complaint. Because of this, there were kids everywhere on the boat, playing chase and tag (mine included I guess) because they didn’t want to be at Camp Carnival and there was nothing else to do. Elevator rides were difficult at best, as children rode them all day. I do not recall getting on any elevator once without kids running in and out on every floor. Carnival needs to look at Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean. The kids loved Adventure Ocean. If you have kids and are considering a cruise, Carnival Paradise is the wrong choice!
Ports of Call
Ensenada- We did not book an excursion on board but got one in town. We bought tickets for a trip to La Bufadora in town. For $16 each, we went to La Bufadora, went shopping, and had Lunch at Poppas & Beer. All for $16 each. It was great.
Catalina Island- This port stop was cancelled due to high waves & wind. We didn't dock. Just spent the day at Sea. We were credited $25 per person since the port was cancelled. I would have rather docked.
Disembarking was a pain in the neck. They are very slow and it took forever. Royal Caribbean is much, much faster. Also, on Radiance of the Seas, we all went to the major show room and they put on a show to watch while waiting to disembark. We spent two days at Universal Studios Hollywood. Had a great time. Stayed at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. This hotel is not so great, and I would not stay there again.
We love cruising. We tried Carnival and found that we didn’t like it as much as Royal Caribbean. But, we still liked our cruise and I am glad we went. I can’t wait for our next cruise, but it probably won’t be on Carnival. They need to try harder.