Occupation:US Federal Government Worker
Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Paradise
Sailing Date: NOT FOUND
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
My wife and I traveled to Catalina Island and Ensenada with our son, age 18, on a 4-night cruise round-trip from Long Beach. We lucked out getting absolutely perfect weather for the entire trip. It was sunny, clear skies, and in the mid 70's.
OVERALL RATING: Overall, the cruise was acceptable. I'd give it a Grade of C-.
WHY CHOOSE THIS CRUISE? In deciding which cruise to book, we had an open window of time in early July and airline certificates that were about to expire so this itinerary fit our needs. This was our 1st short-term cruise and 1st (and probably last) trip on Carnival. We have previously traveled on the Pacific Princess, Grand Princess, Golden Princess (twice), Sapphire Princess, Dawn Princess, and Norwegian Dawn.
GETTING THERE. We flew in on America West from Baltimore to Long Beach Airport. We got in a day early and took a cab from the airport to the hotel. We stayed at the Westin Hotel in downtown Long Beach. It was nice but expensive and didn't seem like much of a bargain at $150/night; although we found Long Beach to be generally expensive so it probably wasn't out of line with the other hotels. Long Beach has a nice inner harbor area and can easily occupy a day. We took a taxi over to the ship in the morning and it was a quick trip.
EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION (Grade: B). We arrived to the ship at 11:30am and stood in line for a while but got on-board without much difficulty. At the end of the trip, we were able to get off the ship early and used Carnival transfers to get to LA International Airport easily in time for our 12:50pm flight.
ROOM (Grade: B). Outside w/Window. I thought the room was fairly big for a cruise ship and overall I was pleased. We never did see the room steward though and can't say we got the best of service.
THE SHIP (Grade C-). The ship seemed to show its age a bit. The ship is nice but not nearly as nice as the Princess ships we've traveled on. Getting around the ship is difficult. You really can't just go out on deck and walk around the ship; there are many dead-ends. Also, there are not many places to just stand on deck and look over at the sea as much of the view is obstructed by the placement of the life boats. I wasn't thrilled with sitting out on deck regardless as there are only lounge chairs; upright chairs were very scarce for some reason. Frankly, in many places on the ship, you can smell sewage. The pools were very disappointing. Someone on the ship mentioned that being there was like staying in Las Vegas. My wife remarked "Yes, but this ship looks very similar to the Barbary Coast" and we prefer one of the nicer casinos like the Bellagio, Venetian, or Cesears. I'd estimate that over half of the people on board were kids and most were under age 13. There were kids running all over the ship and little kids crying and screaming constantly. It's like a visit to Chuck-E-Cheese. This trip is not for someone looking to relax.
FOOD (Grade: D-). Overall, we were very disappointed with the food. If you don't eat your meals in the main dining rooms, you might be in trouble as the Buffet was terrible. Even in the main dining rooms, the food wasn't very good. The only area I thought was well done was the drink station which is convenient. The Buffet area in general is not all that great. The furniture seemed old and not especially comfortable. Definitely not an area to gather and spend much time. I also though many of the service people stood around way too much as there were frequently dirty tables.
SHORE EXCURSIONS/THINGS TO DO ON SHORE (Grade: B+).
In Catalina, we did our own thing. There are a number of nice shops to look through. We rented a golf cart and drove around the island for 1 hour and this was very fun. The island has a nice route planned out which is primarily used by people in their golf carts so it's not like renting a moped on a Caribbean Island and taking your life in your own hands. Note: You need to be 25 years of age to drive so don't promise your kid in advance they will be able to drive or you will be in for trouble.
In Ensenada, my wife and son went on a trip around town that ended up visiting the blow-hole. They had fun. I was sick (I think from the terrible food) and stayed on the ship.
ENTERTAINMENT (Grade: D). Poor. Also, the main theater had many obstructed view seats. I was surprised the casino allowed people ages 18 and over to bet so my son got a chance to try his luck at the slots (which weren't paying at all).
SUMMARY. Just about any cruise is fun. I doubt I'll give Carnival another try as I wasn't impressed. Still, it was fun.