Length: 103 ft
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in decorBest For People Who Want
Non-stop entertainment, lively casinos, extensive deck space for sunning, large, if very pink, facilities for fitness/spa and children's activities, large cabins, good food, and very informal service. Especially recommended for families, singles in groups and first time cruisers.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Sophisticated "seen but not heard" service people; cabins with private verandas; mega-ship action; understated elegance in a low-key environment; no children; dozens of varieties of food.Onboard Experience
Identical in all but décor, Carnival Paradise is the eighth and last of the Fantasy-class sister ships (Fantasy, Fascination, Ecstasy, Inspiration, Imagination, Sensation & Elation). These ships always seem to have something of interest going on, and thus are ideal for the up-and-at-'em style cruiser. Carrying 2,052 passengers, the ships are big enough to provide diverse entertainment, but tend to be deployed to the 3 and 4-day market in most cases. They have ample deck space for those whose idea of being entertained is basking in a warm sunshine glow, and separate facilities for passengers of all ages.
Having been launched in 1998, Carnival Paradise is not so full of neon, chrome and mirrors as her younger sister ships. But it's there if you know where to look. Like at the Leonardo's Dance Club with her brass barstools and neon-rimmed mirrors and ceiling panels.
In any case, this is still considered an older ship in today's fast-paced market, and as such one can expect to find bargain sailings on her, which is great because in many ways she feels like a brand new ship.
All of the public rooms recently received new sound and light systems to add a touch of excitement. Flat-screen televisions have been added to many lounges to keep up with sports and other events. The ship now has a specialty coffee bar, new art and photo galleries and purpose-built conference facilities.
An interesting side-note is that Paradise was built and launched as the first completely "smoke-free" ship, with a strict policy that demanded that anyone even carrying cigarettes (lit or unlit) in public would be put off in the next port. Carnival did actually disembark three teenagers mid-cruise, much to the surprise of their guardians. In the long run, however, the rule became not unenforceable, but unprofitable. It proved too hard to sell the ship to groups and families where there were no smokers. The "non-smoking" rule was revoked when the ship was repositioned to California.
Paradise now sails regular three and four-day journeys to the Mexican Riviera, departing from the port of Long Beach. For west-coasters only familiar with the San Pedro port facilities, Long Beach port is highly recommended. You can fly in to the Long Beach airport, and spend a night before your cruise on the original Queen Mary 1, now one of the best maritime museums in the world.
See our article on the Queen Mary 1 Museum.
Ideal as it is for the sort of person who likes to have loads of activities planned, Paradise also offers lots of out-of-the-way places to read or just contemplate the sea. During summer cruises, however, when there are hundreds of kiddies aboard, quiet contemplation might become a luxury reserved for another ship.Decor
Every Carnival ship, designed by fanciful designer Joe Farcus, has a unifying theme for the decor. The unifying idea behind Paradise's interior decor is ships of the world - from the famous and infamous to the mythical and mysterious. You'll find the the Rex Dance Club with its rotating mirror balls and ceiling mounted lava lamps, , the Rotterdam Bar, the Normandie Theater and the Cafe Ile de France.Public Rooms
The ship consist of 10 decks with most of the public rooms concentrated on Atlantic, Promenade and Lido decks (decks 5,6 and 7). The cabins are mostly concentrated on decks one through four; Riviera, Main, Upper (which is actually a lower deck 3) and Empress decks.
The ships centerpiece is their seven-deck high Grand Atrium, bathed bronze and woods for a nautical touch, with jade green eggs sitting atop redwood pillars. You can stroll on the "Carnival Boulevard", or plop down into a soft banquette to ogle passers-by. The two-level, 1300-seat Normandie Theater at the front of the promenade presents live production shows, comedians, magicians, and passenger talent shows, with exemplary sight lines and good seating throughout.
The ship's most fanciful decor is in such entertainment venues as the popular America Piano bar featuring an enormous circular piano which doubles as a bar for those who like to sing along. You'll also find a vibrant disco and cabaret lounge along the boulevard.
An upgrade scheduled for 2008 involves upgrades to the pool area, staterooms and some public rooms. Some of the following are complete: a snazzy new pool area with teak decking, new umbrellas, a tile "beach" for the pool water to lap against and a new thatched roof for the hot tub. The kids will rave about "Carnival waterworks," the new water park featuring a 4-story tall and 300 foot long "Twister Water Slide." Another slide is three side-by-side tubes 82 feet long. This is all part of a waterpark with all kinds of sprays and other devices to keep the kiddies cool and fresh. There's also a new nine-hole miniature golf course. As of January 2008, this is almost complete.
As if that isn't enough for the kids, "Camp Carnival" received a makeover, and the ship has new interconnecting staterooms for families.
The adults haven't been left out; there will be a new "adults-only" area called "Serenity" with a deck of solid teak panels for soft cushioned loungers in sun or shady areas and two hot tubs.
New enhancements indoors include a coffee cafe with specialty coffees (for a price) but free pastries. A new art & photo gallery and the atrium bar will be in place. New sound and lighting systems have been installed in every public room, and the ship now has flat screen televisions in several places to keep up with sports and other vital information.
All of the staterooms are scheduled for upgrades with new fabrics and finishings, and flat panel televisions for a more updated look and the important added space.
Other public areas include the Galleria shopping mall, the Virtual World arcade, and the ship's photo gallery. Cafe Ile de France Internet offers access for 75 cents per minute; for those who plan to spend more time on the computer, there are 100 minute packages available for $50 (50 cents per minute) and 250 minute packages for $100 (40 cents per minute).Cuisine
From the best pizza afloat (available 24 hours per day) to haute cuisine in the main dining room, Carnival really delivers on the food front.Restaurants
Total Choice Dining provides for four dinner seatings in the main dining rooms, alternative Bistro dining every evening, and an increased number of service staff. Passengers are assigned a table for dinner in one of the two main dining rooms -- The Elation Dining Room on Atlantic Deck, mid-ship, or the Destiny Dining Room on Atlantic Deck, aft -- at one of four seatings; 5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. There are very few tables for two in either of the two main dining rooms; expect to dine with four, six, or eight fellow voyagers. Both dining rooms are named after future Carnival ships that at the time were only a part of the founder's "imagination."
You typically have a choice of six starters, a couple of salads, and six or seven main courses (pan-fried fillet of red snapper, sweet and sour shrimp, rack of New Zealand lamb and Beef Wellington). The menu also includes Spa Carnival selections for those trying to reduce their intake of calories, sodium, cholesterol, fat, or meat.
Additionally, the poolside Lido eateries are converted into Seaview Bistros between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. each evening, offering buffet dinner with no reservations or advance notice required. The informal Paris (T-shirts and shorts are OK) Restaurant on the Lido Deck offers both inside and poolside seating. All meals here are served buffet style, with open seating for all three meals.
Other alternative eating options include a 24-hour pizzeria, a complimentary sushi bar and 24 hour room service. The "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades started in 2007 will eventually add a coffee bar in the atrium and New York-style deli in the Lido restaurants, if they are not there already.Service
Don't expect formality. Indeed, expect wacky dances after dessert - and then to come back to your cabin to find that your cabin steward, cutup that he or she is, has left a towel folded to resemble a dog on your bed. The hi-jinx never stop!Tipping
Carnival automatically adds $10.00 per person per day in gratuities to your Sail & Sign card unless you're under two years old, and if you're reading this, you're probably not. This includes $3.60 for the stateroom steward; $5.50 for the Dining Room team, and $.90 for service in the alternative dining rooms. Visit the purser's desk during the cruise to raise or lower this amount.
You may also prepay gratuities for all service personnel at a rate of $10.00 per person per day. On Cruises-to-Nowhere, gratuities of $10 per person per day must be prepaid.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Tip the maitre d', room service, spa, casino and other staff as you deem fitting.Entertainment
The prime entertainment venue is the 1,300 seat Normandie Theater, but karaoke draws big crowds to the Rex Dance Club, while the Queen Mary Lounge offers a variety of dance-music combos from pop standards to even folk and country musicians. A variety of dance music is spinning nightly in the Leonardo Disco. Regardless of what sort of music you like most, you're pretty much assured of hearing it.
By day, there are bingo and Trivial Pursuit contests, not to mention such highbrow events poolside as the men's hairy chest contest.Cabins
Because they were built just before the shift toward lots of verandahs, just the 26 demi-suites (250 square feet) and 28 full suites (400 square feet) have balconies.
However, during 2008 all of the staterooms in the class of smaller Carnival ships will receive a facelift including new flatscreen televisions, for example, a subtle change but one that lends a significantly different feel to the room while also adding a little extra space - which never hurts.
The cabins on these older ships always appeared spartan compared to the newer Carnival ships due to their lack of wooden desks and cabinetry. The colors, fabrics and linens will be upgraded, but they are still light on amenities (a color TV with CNN, telephone, radio, no hair dryer, and a basket of "free-sample" toiletries). They are roomy, however, among the largest in the cruise industry: inside measure 185 sq. ft, outside 190 sq. feet. Even in the minimum category inside or outside stateroom you'll still enjoy ample space. for four and five are understandably popular with families, and go fast.
Oceanview staterooms and suites offer a mini bar, bathrobes, and fairly large bathrooms with a shower (with wand) and medicine cabinet. There are also 26 mini-suites (226sq.q. feet plus 36 square foot private veranda) and 28 suites measuring 350 sq. feet with 71 sq. foot balconies.Fitness/Spa
With no fewer than 12,000 sq. ft. devoted to fitness and spa facilities, these ships are a dream come true for those who like to keep in shape during their cruise. The "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades scheduled for 2008 will pay particular attention to the spa area by adding more elegance and amenities.
The gyms have a private trainer and 35 state-of-the-art exercise machines. There's a day-long schedule of aerobics, and stretching yoga, and Pilates classes (usually around $10 each), as well as body composition analysis and personal training sessions, $75 for 60 minutes. There's a fully jogging track and a volleyball court. Women who want to sunbathe topless will find secluded areas in which to do so.
Those who prefer to skip shore excursions and snorkel on their own can rent equipment for $26 for three days. The inescapable Steiner's of London operates the ship's spa, which offers lots of different kinds of massage - and pushes its beauty products rather more zealously than most passengers would prefer.Children's Facilities
Carnival's celebrated Camp Carnival program offers a full schedule of supervised activities, from finger painting and singalongs for younger children to photography workshops, late-night movies, and pool parties for their older siblings. The ships' 2,400-square foot "Children's World" play areas are stocked with a computer lab, a climbing maze, an activity wall, and an assortment of toys, games and puzzles.
The 2008 scheduled upgrade includes a nine-hole miniature golf course as well as a waterpark that is better than the larger Carnival ships. The kids will love these supervised diversions giving you plenty of time to relax by the pool. The exact date for finishing these items has not been determined, but as soon as we know we will update this page.Attire
On the two "formal" nights per week, most men wear a dark suit instead of tux. By day, nearly everyone wears shorts, T-shirt, sneakers/sandals, bathing suit, and a hat.
We just completed our cruise on the Carnival Paradise. This is our eighth cruise on Carnival. Six on Inspiration, one on Spirit, one just completed on Paradise and one scheduled on Legend. Obviously we think favorably of Carnival in general. These comments are for the Paradise sailing on December 12, 2011. The Paradise is the sister ship to the Inspiration. It has just been repositioned to Tampa. My comments are comparing the reburbished Paradise to the Inspiration and the Paradise as stand-alone comments. Some are very favorable and some are very seriously negative. Let me get the negative out of the way first. The Carnival has some of the largest cabins of any fleet. The Paradise has got to be the most stupid layout that could have been thought of. First, the height of the beds. I've always been able to store my luggage under the beds, out of the way. These beds were too low to fit my luggage. The same luggage I've use on all of my cruises. I had to stow them in a closet, thus losing closet space. Second, the life preservers use to be stowed ina top shelf on a closet. Readily accessible yet out of the way. Now they've added a big square box on the floor roughly two feet by two feet. This only holds the life preservers (which used to be out of the way). This box is in the corner, under the TV, by the outer wall. The only way to get to the space between the bed and window is to crawl over the bed. You cannot get by the box by walking on the floor; only crawling over the bed!. When I wanted to get out of bed at night (I was closest to the window for the benefit of my wife) I had to slide/crawl down the bed over the footboard and avoid the box to get to the bathroom. I asked the steward if the beds could be turned. He pointed out the reading lights would not be properly placed then. Also, I measured that one bed would interfere with the desk so couldn't be turned. Plus, the televisions are not flat screened but very large bulky old sets with big boxes built around them. This layout is so anti-comfort and irritating it may discourage me from future sailings on a ship which we obviously enjoy. Third, the bathroom now has a fluorescent light which is very low illumination. OK for guys but gals strongly prefer more light in the bathroom. Let me get to more pleasurable comments. The bathroom was remodeled and shelves above the sink were replaced with a medicine cabinet with doors and shelves within. The sink surface was increased for added convenience. Service is always exemplary. Our room steward, Michael, was always present and pleasant. Ice was always replaced twice a day. Michael made new towel animals and people I haven't seen before. Our waiter, Iputu, was pleasant, prompt, and got to know our preferences right away. He always had tea for my wife as soon as we sat down. Bussing is constant on the Lido buffet deck. We greatly appreciate that they accommodate late risers with breakfast until noon. Their sandwich bar makes sandwiches to order; the Reubens are the best I've had. Embarkation is smooth considering the many hundreds being processed. Debarkation is even better. You can wait in the breakfast buffet area until you are scheduled to leave. The valet parking now delivers the car directly to the terminal. We no longer need to walk a long block with luggage to the parking garage. Greatly appreciated by those with walking difficulties. Lido to car took 10-15 minutes. Truly a great way to end your cruise. Thank you Carnival.
Food in the main dining rooms range from good to excellent. Seconds and thirds are available without question. I noticed two changes to increase Carnival's profits that were irritating. First, shrimp cocktail used to be offered everyday; not anymore. The casino's minimum bet (for blackjack) increased from $5 to $6 (20% increase). Still, the value compared to other cruise lines is quite good. Overall, if Carnival would only raise the bed height and remove that stupid life saver box I would have no hesitation to recommend the Paradise.
I went on this cruise with 2 other girl friends. It took about 30 minutes to get on the ship very organized and easy. We had an inside mid ship cabin that had 4 beds, 2 were pull down. There was plenty of room for the 3 of us and the bathroom had space for all our toiletries. The cabin steward greeted us and we asked for all the Carnival beverages to be removed so we could have more counter space. He never did that so we just put it all in our closet, getting ice in our bucket was hit or miss.
The beds were very comfortable. The food was better than I had expected this being my 1st Carnival cruise. Every day I had bagels and lox in the rear deli, there was a small salad bar next to the deli, both were very good with a good variety. We danced in The Rex until 2 am what was great is NO smoking in the lounge. We never made it to a breakfast but the early seating for dinner was always good. The food was a notchbelow Celebrity and Princess, but then our cruise was a lot less expensive too.
The food was always brought out quickly which was nice. There was a lot of wind so we had to sail around Catalina Isaland for a day which was made into our sea day. The tender was a lot of fun large swells but they did an awesome job getting us there and back. The entertainment was OK. The only big disappointment was the disembarking. We took the elevator down to the deck and it was a total mob scene, there was not one Carnival staff member there to tell passengers where to go. We walked to the end of the long line that went into a hall where there were cabins. Some people who got off the elevators did not realize that they had to go to the back of the long line and just got in the line by the elevator. They did not know they were ditching in front of those of us who were in the long line. I did inform those passengers getting off the elevator that there was a line but some hollered back at me or just ditched in line. Why in the world did Carnival not have staff directing passengers is beyond me.
We've sailed with Carnival many times before and I have been a loyal Carnival fan. I've even gone so far as to tell people that Carnival is much better than other cruise lines. We've sailed on Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity as well as Carnival. Carnival has always gone 'the extra mile' to make each cruise memorable.
But for the first time we were truly disappointed with our last cruise on the Paradise. I don't know if it is due to the economy or what but it seemed that everything was now being done 'on the cheap'. The buffet was smaller with fewer selections. The on board activities had been cut in half. The late night buffet was a joke. There were less bands and parties. The whole atmosphere was lacking and the crew seemed disengaged.
I always thought Carnival was on the top of the game for fun but we went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise just last fall to the same destination that beat the heck out of this one on the Paradise. It is really sad if Carnival is going this direction.