May 2017 - Carnival Paradise to Caribbean - Western
Because I live in it's home port of Tampa, I've been taking the Paradise 1-2x per year since 2008. And while it's never been a "luxury" cruise, it was worth it for the low price, fun vibe and at least it was clean. However this boat and it's crew have been in a steady decline over the past two years.
1) The boat- OLD!! Mildew/ mold all over the old grout in the bathrooms, leaking pipes & shower in the bathrooms, surfaces are torn and ratty, bar stools wobbly, broken deck chairs, inoperable elevators, half-dried pool towels with tired and tacky decor.
2) Staff- they are working very hard but there just isn't enough of them...which makes for unhappy/indifferent/grumpy staff. The only ones smiling were the room stewards and the entertainment crew.
3) Food- it's always been mediocre (you get what you pay for) but now it's just plain inedible. AND unavailable! Reduced hours and long lines. Even the dining room takes forever! Perhaps if Carnival worried less about getting everyone's photo 20x a night, they would have more time to serve the food. (enough with the stupid pirate already).
4) Bar Service- ever since the beverage packages became popular, the bar service has been a problem. It's plain to see that Carnival is trying to reduce their costs on the program by making it nearly impossible to use it. Every cruise has fewer bar tenders and cocktail servers. The staff they have are literally running from open to close, but they just can't keep up. Which makes for a lot of very aggressive and angry passengers. NOT FUN! Waiting for 30 mins to get a beverage is not acceptable. By the last night, it was a mutiny in the casino bar. People screaming, pushing, arguing with pit bosses....a real mess.
5) Casino- always been a problem on this boat- the dealers are the most unhappy group of people I've ever met. Not sure the cause, but if you're going to take my money, you could at least smile and make it fun.
Unfortunately I already have another cruise in July booked on Paradise. But if I have the same experience I had on this trip, I will never be taking Carnival again. There are just too many other options to waste money on a low-quality operation like Carnival Cruise Lines.