March 2014 - Carnival Paradise to Caribbean - Western
This was our first cruise together. Our original plan was to go snowmobiling in the UP but the Midwest winter was too long, too gray, and too cold. Not quite last minute but very little planning in getting to the warmth and sunshine. Tampa was a convenient port and our thought was at least sunshine, cocktails, and descent food. Got the sunshine. Cocktails were there but the service and value was a joke. And the food...community college cafeteria fare would be a compliment to the slop that was served throughout the voyage. The first thought and continuing theme I have for the tale I share with those that ask about our "3 hour tour" is that... Carnival cruises and the ship known as PARADISE is the Walmart version of what a cruise should be. We will definitely cruise again but we will take the extra few months of savings to get on a ship (cruise line) that takes pride in their service, comfort, and culinary skills. The folks on this ship were overly concerned about two things:
*Cutting food costs
*Upselling everything to the point that after day one, we felt the service staff was more concerned in proving their sales skills to the Carnival brass rather than the reason we paid a good dime to relax...SERVICE SKILLS!
There were a few bright spots on an otherwise welfare version of a cruise that we expected to be money well spent...
*Francisco, our room care captain was outstanding. He had a genuine work ethic and was proud of the effort his staff put forward (and they were fabulous)!
*Barbara, the room service guru, was friendly and warm, the kind of person I would hire in a heartbeat to run an FOH in the Midwest...she GET'S the concept of service and patience!
*Armando the pool deck Bar keep...may not tow the company line in upselling everything but was charming enough to get us to "up-buy"! (The only one that talked us into an up-sell, like a rum-runner I wanted no part of). I'd hire Armando to be a barkeep in my local tavern.
The photog’s provided made it look like luxurious and large pool(s) that were user friendly for adults and kids alike…WRONG! My husband and his Chris Farley-esque physic absorbed nearly half of the water displacement during a descent cannon ball. My children would have been painfully bored if they would have had to endure this 5 day cruise.
With all that being said, I just can't, in good conscious, recommend Carnival or PARADISE. Loved the concept of Cruise but was seriously disappointed in the value and performance of this crew!