Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Paradise
Sailing Date: June 3rd, 2005
Itinerary: Baja, Mexico
This cruise is a perfect weekend getaway for anyone whose work schedule is hectic, yet wants a mini vacation. Anyone reasonably close to Long Beach, CA can drive to the terminal.
It is a good cruise for the “rookies” wanting a feel of what a cruise vacation is all about. If you have NEVER taken a cruise before, the weekend cruises are just long enough to leave you wanting more, or, conversely, short enough that you won’t get stir-crazy with cabin fever or bored with the environment.
I have sailed on three Carnival Fun Ships (the Sensation, the Elation, and the Paradise) and on the Royal Caribbean ship Monarch of the Seas. Yes, I have been on many cruises! More on that topic later.
If you have any control of when you check in (meaning you didn’t take an airplane, bus, train, etc and drove yourself to the terminal) you should get there as soon as possible. They begin boarding as soon as the previous passengers are off, around 11:30 am or so. Very few people are there and the check in will be very brief. This gives you a chance to tour the ship, find your room and eat lunch at the lunch buffet. Also, your luggage will arrive sooner, if you checked it.
The ship is very spacious and nice. Please refer to other web sites for descriptions of the ship’s layout. But although it is large, getting to a specific location is not difficult or time consuming. The elevators are always in use, so it is sometimes faster to take the stairs.
Although small, they are enough for your stay. Keep in mind that the rooms are for sleeping, showering and dressing. The standard rooms have single beds, but they can be pushed together for more intimate sleeping arrangements.
There is a desk with drawers to put stuff away and a closet with hangars and shelves. I recommend taking your clothes out of your suitcase and putting them away. Living out of your suitcase will create clutter and make an already small room appear smaller. Your suitcases can be stored in the closet, in the corner, with the life preservers – wherever you can stuff them. It takes time away from the vacation, but it is time well spent.
The TV provides limited east coast programming and some movie channels. Although you will not want to stay in the room and watch TV, it is nice to have on when you are in the room.
Breakfast is served in one of the dining rooms (early morning), the Paris restaurant (a little later morning), or the Lido Deck grill (almost lunch time). Lunch is served in the same fashion. Refer to the Caper (the daily ‘newspaper’ of the ship) for times and locations. Dinner is served in the two restaurants at four different times (5:00, 5:30, 8:00, and 8:30). The choice of time is strictly personal. Dinner is also served in the Paris restaurant as well. Pizza is offered 24 hours a day. Room service is also offered.
Some people skip the dining room, but it should be taken advantage of. I have cruised many times and over the years I have seen the dress code diminish on each cruise. Pants and either a polo or button shirt for men, for women, pants or shirt with some top, or a dress. Even on formal night, jacket and ties are optional.
What can I say? When on the ship you can lounge by the pool, go to the day spa, and hang inside in the lounges, whatever you want to do. You can be as active or as sloth like as you desire. There is a casino with many slots and tables. In the port, you can take an excursion or just walk into the downtown. Again, you get what you put into it. There is also many ship sponsored activities (bingo, dancing, etc) you can take part in or just observe.
I have cruised several times and I love it. Cruises offer so many activities for one inclusive price. You can nice hotel-like accommodations, Broadway and Vegas style entertainment, gambling, swimming, dancing, comedy shows, all you can eat dining, and then add in travel to different ports of call. You get your money’s worth for sure.
But cruising isn’t for everybody. For whatever reason they feel cooped up on the ship, get bored with the same environment, and don’t like the short day trips to exotic ports. But cruises offer so much for one price, and you get your money’s worth.
• Get a passport before the cruise if time permits. Birth certificates and ID work fine, but passports make getting through customs faster and smother. Plus, passports are good for 8 years.
• Arrive early if possible
• If you can manage to carry your luggage on yourself, you will not have to wait for luggage to arrive, Plus, you can just walk off the ship without having to wait for colors of tags to be called.
• Bring extra hangars if you are planning on hanging your clothes up.
• Unless you drink gallons of soda all day long, the soda cards are worth it. There are assorted juices and drinks available, and most adults will be partaking in alcohol anyway.
• Obviously, sun screen toiletries, and medication should be brought on to avoid paying extra for it.
• Go to the talks the cruise director offers or catch it later on the playbacks on TV. It provides good info and are relatively short.