May 2014 - Carnival Paradise to Caribbean - Western
This was my first cruise and my BF's second cruise so I suppose I personally didn't really have anything to compare it to but from the experiences I've heard from other cruisers, this was a sub-par cruise. The ship was fairly small, which wasn't a terrible thing but with 3 days at sea, you get bored really quickly. Since the ship is small, they haven't outfitted the ship yet with some of Carnival's new restaurants and features. The ship felt a bit "dated".
The pool was teeny tiny and fit maybe 10 people max. They had an adults only area on the back of the ship with a hot tub but it wasn't the serene environment that I expected. The other passengers there were belligerently drunk every day and were loud and obnoxious. Obviously, this doesn't happen on every person's cruise but it was a bit annoying. Also, if you don't get there early it'll be hard to find any lounge chairs.
The service in the dining room was great and the food they served was very good. The food at the buffets, on the other hand, could barely pass as food. By the pool they served burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and other miscellaneous junk food items. They also serve stir fry dishes but the lines are usually quite long so we never tried it. If you go on this cruise, try to eat in the dining room as much as possible. If you prefer the buffets (breakfast or lunch), I recommend eating the made to order items since they taste better.
We had an oceanview room and didn't feel cramped. We had plenty of space for our toiletries and our clothes. Our room steward was absolutely fantastic and we loved him. Same goes for our waitress in the dining room.
Grand Cayman was a lot of fun and I highly recommend the stingray excursion. In Cozumel, we went to the mainland and relaxed on Playa del Carmen for the day, which was a great experience. I'll forewarn you now - if you take the boat to the mainland, you will most likely get sea sick because the waters are so choppy. Every person on our boat was trying really hard to not throw up and some even pushed people out of the way to get off of the boat first. But if you can withstand the 30 minute ride there, I think you'll really enjoy the mainland a lot more than Cozumel itself. If you do get sea sick, they have an air conditioned room that you can sit in and the staff on the boat are very accommodating to people who get a bit nauseous.
Overall, the cruise was OK. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't fantastic. I suppose you get what you pay for with this one. It was a decent first time experience and I learned quite a bit about cruising but I think this cruise is more suited for the younger crowd looking to party. We're in our late 20's - 30's and felt like we might as well be 95. If you get a chance, definitely check out the comedy shows. They were the highlight of our cruise!