We recently sailed on Carnival's ship "Paradise." Since we were first time cruisers, I really had no idea what to expect, but I have to say, I went in with high expectations. This cruise met or exceeded every one of them. Everything you need is right on board the ship! We especially liked the Rex nightclub, aimed at people our age (21-25), and the casino. Also, they have an awesome duty-free shop on-board, with great prices on liquor and cigarettes like you wouldn't believe! The Normandie lounge, where most of the ship's shows and other events are held, was very comfortable and elegant. The seating was large couch-like benches, and there was a table every 3 feet or so. Waiters came around with drinks very often, to make sure no one was without. The other place where we spent a lot of time was up on the Lido deck. This was where breakfast and lunch were served (buffet-style). Also, there was a pool and several hot tubs, and tons of space to lay out and get some sun. There was a stage in the middle of the deck, where they often had a band playing, or dancing going on. The Atruim, which was a huge circular area of 4 or 5 open decks in the middle of the ship, looked amazing. Everything was accessible from this area. The very bottom deck of the atrium had a huge bar and the information desk. The whole thing was dimly lit, for a nice romantic touch. The ship is only a few years old (I think they said it set sail for the first time in 1998), and it shows. Everything is clean and new. Very enjoyable!
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The food was wonderful to say the least. Breakfast and lunch were buffet-style on the Lido deck & in the Paris restaurant. Unfortunatly, breakfast was always the same items, so I was rather sick of the same food by the end of the cruise. Lunch was good. Always American style food on Lido, and a different type of cuisine from a different nation every day in the Paris restaurant. Dinner was the best. We were seated in the Elation restaurant, with 3 other couples our age. Unfortunatly, we had the latest dining time, even though we requested the earliest one, but it's understandable, because we did book our cruise last-minute. Food was great, with a different menu every night, with options to please everyone. Also, we had a great waiter, who kept making things out of folded napkins. Tons of fun!
5 out of 5
The shows were great. They also had two comedians perform while we were there, that were both very funny. They had other events such as Bingo and Deal or No Deal that were fun too. One of my favorite things was the towel folding class. On Carnival cruises, they leave you towel animals in your stateroom each night. On the 4th day, they taught a class on how to make a dog and an elephant yourself. Very fun! The only downside was that since we had the late dining time, a lot of activites were happening while we were at dinner. And by the time we got out of dinner, we were too tired to go to anything later. I would definately make sure we got the earlier seating next time.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
We didn't encounter one bad staff member the entire time. The people who made up our stateroom greeted us by name, as did our waitstaff in the dining room at dinner. Our cruise director made everything VERY fun and enjoyable, and I hope to have him again one day. The only downside was that a lot of the crew members are international, and sometimes their English was a little hard to understand.
5 out of 5
The ship was huge! It took us a few days just to not get lost. But it was exceptionally clean, and gorgeous doesn't even begin to describe it.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our stateroom was bigger than your average hotel room, which I did not expect. Very comfortable and clean. I liked that they automatically give you two pillows each, without having to ask. Also, they come to make up your room twice a day - once in the morning to make your bed and give you clean towels, and once at night to turn down your bed, leave you chocolate mints, and the next day's Capers (Carnival's on-board "newspaper" with all th next day's events). Staff was very friendly, and always greeted us in the hallway, sometimes even by name. Very intimate feeling.
We really liked Ensenada. We took the shore excursion to Papas & Beer Beach Club in Rosarito (near Tijuana, only 20 minutes south of San Diego), which was a blast to say the least. We thought it was definately aimed at our age group. However, I wouldn't go if we had anyone in our group who was under 18 or over 30. It felt very typical spring break party on the beach, which was fun for us, but might not be for some people. Food and drinks there were good (and not to mention cheap!). On the way there, our tour guide showed us some really cool things, including "The Black Pearl," from the movie "Pirates of the Carribbean," and the place where the first margarita was invented. On the way back, we took the optional drop off in downtown for some shopping. This was a little disappointing. They had nothing more than a few liquor stores and souvenier shops, and we were constantly bothered by children selling gum on the streets. I highly reccommend taking a shore excursion if you go to Ensenada.
Catalina was a small island with a population of around 3,000. Very cozy. Everyone drives golf carts around. We didn't pick a shore excursion at this destination, so we spent our time doing some shopping around at some of the many stores right off the port. We didn't stop to eat at any restaurants, so I have no advice there. If I took this cruise again, I would definately take the tour where they take you up to the Wrigley estate, which we were told was the first house built on the island.
Don't Miss: The tresure map shopping, where you can win lots of free stuff!
Pros: The food, the staff, the ship layout, everything, really!
Cons: We got stuck with the latest seating time, even though we wanted the earliest
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