We sailed on the Paradise - the cruise industry's ONLY smoke-free ship - from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on 2/3/02. What a great trip and SMOKE FREE! Where else can you go bar-hopping to a half dozen lounges, all with good entertainment and no smoke? The crew was very friendly, smiled constantly and were gracious. No snobbery on this cruise, just a lot of fun and good times. Our cabin was comfortable, clean and well-maintained and our waiter and assistant in the Elation Dining Room, Alvin (from the Phillipines), and Jorge (from Honduras), were attentive and responsive and friendly. Keep this in mind about the dining room staff: they sail for up to 8 months without getting to return home to their families. They work 7 days per week and live in small, shared quarters on the ship. They work for tips only. BE GENEROUS with your tips. The food was plentiful and excellent. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was generally an 8. Much better than at most restaurants in town that we typically frequent. And our table mates were friendly, warm people that we enjoyed speneding time with. Of the six of us, two were farmers, two were nurses, and two were counselors. What were the odds? The two farmers often ordered extra entrees, including lobster on the night it was served. (I did too that night.) No problem. The showroom entertainment was good, not great, but a lot of fun. The ship band, under the direction of Braxton Hicks, was excellent. (That's got to be a stage name.) The ports were interesting, warm and beautiful, especially St. Thomas. The pool, with the waterslide was fantastic, with live music in the pool area much of the time. And contrary to what you often hear about Carnival, there was no problem finding space on the deck near the pool, or finding space in the pool or whirlpools. (Perhaps because there were not a lot of children or college students on this trip.) The exercise room and spa were spacious, clean and the staff friendly and not pushy, as is often stated about spa staff. The jogging track was wonderful, especially in the early morning, just after daybreak. There were many places on board to sit and relax, and the entertainment in the Atrium (which was beautiful) was fantastic, particularly the classical trio (piano, cello, violin). My only complaints about this trip were minor. Hair dryers in the cabin would be convenient. Snorkel gear for rent on board should include prescription diving masks, and the cruise director should provide more information about genuinely interesting sites to see in the ports, and spend less time promoting shops which reportedly pay cruise lines to promote them. Otherwise, it was great, and we've already booked a cruise for next year on the same ship, but to the Western Caribbean. All cruise lines should offer at least one smoke-free ship. Bravo, Carnival!
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