We sailed on the May 27th Eastern Caribbean Cruise and had a wonderful time! The Paradise is a ship that Carnival is experimenting with, adding the gratuties to your Sign and Sail account at $9.75 per passenger per day. This totals $68.25 for each person in your cabin for the entire week and covers your room steward and wait staff at all restaurants (including the Paris Restaurant) and it is definitely worth not having to deal with "doling" out money your last day of your cruise. Also, it is a result of past passenger's suggestions on how to improve the cruising experience. It also probably is a result of past passengers spending more than they anticipated or budgeted for during their cruise and they decided to "cut their losses" at the expense of these hard working crew members. I was not told of pre-paying the gratuties by my travel agent, but it was printed on the back of my boarding pass, was included in the pamphlet from Carnival, was on a printed form in our cabin right on the dresser and was also addressed by the Cruise Director at his Welcome Talk. If you don't know about these charges until you get your first Sign and Sail statement 3 or 4 days into the cruise, it's no one's fault but your own. Also, this is really not even an issue to be upset about because you can adjust this amount (either up or down) by contacting the Purser's office at any time.Speaking of the Purser's Office -- everyone was very polite and helpful. We came back to our cabin one afternoon at sea and the air conditioner didn't work in our cabin or in our son's cabin. One call to the Purser's office and a mechanic was at our cabin within 10 minutes and the air was blowing cold in another 10 minutes. Not a big deal.The ports (Nassau, San Juan and St. Thomas) were really nice, with St. Thomas being our favorite. Vendors in Nassau are very aggressive, but they do take "no thank you" for an answer and leave you alone. Old San Juan is beautiful and very nice to walk around and see the sights. St. Thomas is beautiful and we really enjoyed snorkeling at Coki Beach. One thing to remember is that just because the ship docks at 7 am and you can eat breakfast, catch a taxi and be in the shopping district by 8 am, the shops aren't open until around 9 am. We also took a sightseeing tour there. Plenty of time to do all you want. Needless to say, tourism is their number one industry and as a tourist you will be treated very well.The Paradise is a very beautiful ship and is so clean. We came back during the afternoon in San Juan and the crew was shampooing the hallway carpets. They were always painting outside and cleaning inside, but never inconvenienced the passengers in any way. Our cabin steward, Dean, was the best. Our cabins were always clean and he was so personable. All of the crew was so friendly and so helpful. I hate to say it, but it was some of the other passengers who were the rude ones.Getting on and off the ship was a breeze at all ports including Miami. This ship does it better than any of them. To try to sum everything up, it seems that some people go on a cruise and expect to be treated as the royalty that NONE of us are. Keep in mind that you are on vacation and nothing is going to happen that is important enough to stress you out and cause you to become nit-picky. Those crew members are on that ship for 6 to 9 months at a time, 7 days a week, with no holidays and having to deal daily with difficult people who expect perfection. I can assure you that they work harder than most of us who are lucky enough to afford to take a vacation such as this. Take time to talk to the crew -- they are not beneath you and are very interesting people who come from a variety of very interesting places. Finally, the Paradise is truly named appropriately. Your vacation will be the best, if you want it to be, or it will be the disaster that YOU make it.Kathy from Florida
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