This will be a very general review, listing my impressions,
since I was only onboard the Paradise for four days. I normally
would not sail a Carnival ship because the brand just doesn't suit
my particular cruising style. I only took this cruise to attend a
30th Anniversary Battlestar Galactica Fans Convention that was
being held onboard the ship on this sailing. Because I was busy
with various convention activities, I did not have adequate time to
thoroughly explore the ship in order to present a comprehensive
review. Perhaps others will do that in their reviews.
I am a single woman, age 52, and traveled on this sailing
Embarkation Embarkation was relatively easy despite the fact
that this ship holds over 2000 people. I'll be honest -- I was
expecting a mob scene, but the whole embarkation process was very
I got to the pier relatively late -- at around 1:00 p.m. -- so
perhaps that has something to do with the lines not being too bad.
A good friend from the CC message boards, Copper, picked me up at
LAX and drove me to the Long Beach Cruise Terminal.
He told me he would meet me right outside of the United Arrivals
Terminal, and I couldn't understand how he would be able to get
away with parking there. Well, that's simple. He was in his Black
and White. He's a cop. Hence, his screen name Copper.
We made it to Long Beach in no time (and, no, he didn't run the
lights and siren), but traffic wasn't too bad so we made good time.
It didn't take very long to dump the luggage and get on the ship.
So, I give Carnival an A for embarkation procedures.
As a sidenote, I wouldn't normally recommend flying
cross-country on the same morning as a cruise, but in my case, I
was really boxed in for vacation time since I was taking another
cruise right after this one -- for 35 days. I also knew that the
Paradise would be at Catalina Island the next morning and if need
be, I could catch the ship there if I missed embarkation in Long
Beach. Fortunately, both my flights were on time and I made it to
Long Beach in plenty of time for the 5:00 p.m. sailaway, but I
wouldn't have cut it so close normally.
Cabin I believe I was on the Empress Deck -- can't quite
remember Carnival's deck names -- but it was on the same level as
the Internet Center. But I was in an inside cabin. The cabin was
adequate, though I was disappointed to find that the beds were in
an "L" configuration and could not be put together. Thus I was
forced to sleep in a twin bed for the four nights. I could have
dealt with that if that was all that was wrong with the cabin, but
there were other problems as well.
The cabin itself was cold. I didn't initially notice this
because I was running around unpacking my carry ons and getting
settled. When my one large piece of lugggage arrived, I used the
spare bed to house that since I had no intention of unpacking
everything in there since most of it was for the next cruise, the
35-day one. I set the suitcase up on the spare bed and then just
removed the few things I would need for this cruise.
When I finally noticed that the cabin was awfully cold, I looked
for a thermostat so that I could raise the temperature. Guess what?
No thermostat. I tracked down my cabin steward and asked him how
you control the temperature in these cabins. Guess what? You don't,
is pretty much what he told me. He did point out a vent in the
ceiling and said he could try to close it somewhat, which he did.
But it really didn't help that much and I wound up sleeping with
several blankets every night.
I'm used to Holland America ships where they give you some nice
toiletries in your cabin -- Elmeris products. Here what I got was a
small wicker basket with some "sample size" containers of various
name brands of things like toothpaste and disposable razors. Why I
had two disposable razors, a small tube of toothpaste and not much
else, I have no idea. But that's what I got. Shampoo and body gel
were dispensed from a dispenser contraption located within the
I have to say that the cabin was not very clean. It was not
overtly dirty, but that evening when I went to bed, I happened to
brush my hand along the ledge above the bed. There was an unopened
(thank God) package of condoms up there. Frankly, if that cabin had
been thoroughly cleaned, I would have never found that. It had
obviously been left by the previous occupants leading me to believe
that this cabin steward wasn't very thorough in completing his work
The bed was fairly comfortable, though the bedding, especially
the bedspreads, looked old and dingy.
Except for the cold temperature in the cabin, however, I would
have to say it was adequate, though far from luxurious. It was a
decent size with a pretty good amount of closet and storage space,
so considering I paid for an inside cabin -- I guess I got what was
Ship Here's is where this review will get very general. I only
had four days on this ship and spent most of that time attending
convention activities, so I really didn't make a thorough survey of
the ship. However, what I will say is that this isn't a very clean
ship. I don't know if the reason for this is because they are
shortstaffed, or if the workers just don't care, but the whole ship
For example, I would usually sit out on the Lido in the mornings
having a cigarette after breakfast. Rarely did anyone come around
emptying the ashtrays or cleaning off tables where people had
eaten. One morning in particular, I saw a table a couple up from
the one I was sitting at that was laden with dirty dishes, its
occupants long gone. I needed to head to my cabin for a moment to
pick up something I had forgotten. When I returned about half an
hour later, and resumed my table for a final cigarette, that table
was STILL laden with dirty dishes. No one had come to clear it in
all that time. There was a chair near mine where someone had left
behind an orange. It was just sitting in the chair. No one had
removed that either. To me, this is inexcusable. Someone should be
out there constantly sprucing things up; emptying ashtrays,
removing used tableware, etc. Not on this ship, however. And that's
strange, too -- because there is certainly no shortage of bar
waiters coming around offering drinks, even in the early morning
The public restrooms were not kept very clean either. The couple
of times I used one, I noticed that it could really use someone to
come in and clean up. Another convention attendee told me that she
was absolutely appalled by the condition of some of the women's
restrooms, especially the ones on the Lido. Again, there is no
excuse for this. It is basic maintenance that should be provided at
any resort -- including on a cruise ship.
So I give Carnival about a C for ship cleanliness.
Food Service I certainly didn't eat in all the venues onboard
this ship, but I have to say that the ones I did eat in, primarily
the Lido and the main dining room, were fine. The selection was
good, and the food was great. I'm not a lunch person, so it was
only breakfasts and dinners that I partook of. Breakfast was always
in the Lido and dinner in the dining room. Service was reasonably
quick in the Lido and the food items tasty. I was traveling as part
of the Battlestar Group, so we had an assigned group of tables in
the dining room. The celebrities in attendance would "rotate"
tables so that everyone got the chance to dine with a few of them
over the course of the four day cruise. The food choices each night
for dinner were plentiful. I enjoyed every meal I had there and
could always find something to suit my somewhat picky tastes.
Service was excellent and the waiters seemed to have no problem
catering to special requests. The dining room itself was attractive
and it was a pleasure to dine there.
I give Carnival an A for food service and presentation.
Public Areas I noticed that most public areas of the ship were
cold. It didn't take very long for most of us convention goers to
learn to bring along a sweater or wrap to many of our group's
activities. But other than being cold, the meeting and conference
venues were certainly adequate. It appeared that Carnival had
competent personnel onboard to assist the Battlestar Conference
planners with anything they needed for particular events, such as
projection equipment, sound, adequate seating, etc.
As for other public areas of the ship, I can only comment on
those I used. I went to one cast show and the theater was certainly
nice. I also went to the piano bar one night and found it to be
rather small, though adequate. Again, I noticed that rarely did
waitstaff bother cleaning or replacing ashtrays, as least not while
I was there, and I found this odd since it is not what I am used to
when on a cruise.
Entertainment and Activities I really didn't participate in any
of the Carnival shipboard activities, preferring instead to attend
the ones specifically for the convention. However, I noted from the
Daily Program that there were certainly plenty of them -- far more
than I normally see on Holland America. There was also a wider
variety of activities, for people of all ages and tastes, and I
could well see that no one need get bored on this ship. There were
sports-type things, as well as poolside activities, art auctions,
bingo and casino-type games. In the evenings there were shows, as
well as karoke and other goings on in the bars and lounges. Like I
said, I'm at a disadvantage in commenting on these, because we had
our own activities specific to our convention and I participated
exclusively in these.
I did see one cast show and found it to actually be superior to
what I am used to on Holland America. The lead female singer in
particular was excellent and the show well-produced. It would seem
that Carnival places a high priority on quality entertainment and
it shows -- at least from what I saw.
Fellow Passengers Contrary to "popular" opinion, Carnival Cruise
Lines would seem to have an undeserved reputation for running
exclusively "booze cruises." This one certainly wasn't like that.
Sure, there was a brisk business at the bars, but it wasn't like
everyone was drinking themselves silly all cruise. Now, from what I
understand, it could be that because this cruise ran from Monday
until Friday, there was a different type of passenger environment
than you would get on one that ran Friday to Monday. This group was
primarily couples and families with kids. Most seemed to be young
to middle aged with a smattering of older folks. None of the kids
that I saw were unruly -- they were just kids onboard to have fun
and they appeared to be well-behaved and mannerly. I give credit to
Carnival in keeping things orderly at the pool area too. They have
a large snaking waterslide, and a Carnival employee is stationed at
the entrance to regulate how many people are at the top of the
slide at a time. This cut down on the normal pushing and shoving
you can get, along with the resulting risk of injury.
Carnival also ran a full children's program on this cruise, and
while I know nothing about its details, I do know that it must have
been good because you didn't see hoards of children running wild
all over the ship. Even at night, I didn't notice any of the normal
"horseplay" you would expect to see around a ship that was carrying
lots of families with kids.
I talked with several other passengers out on the Lido in the
mornings, many of whom were not with our conference group. Most
seemed friendly and good natured, and I enjoyed their company.
Decor The only thing I can say about this is "huh? Eggs? What's
The entire atrium area is festoned with what I can only
characterize as eggs. They are on the elevators, the walls,
everywhere. Maybe that was the theme of the ship when it was
designed? If so, it's ugly. The eggs are also a wierd aqua greenish
color that maybe was attractive when the ship was first rolled out,
but appears ugly now. Several people from our convention group
commented on them, trying to figure out why? I mean, I could
understand seahorses or mermaids, but eggs?
Ports I really can't comment at all on the ports since I didn't
leave the ship at all. I had made the decision not to venture out
into any ports on this sailing specifically because I had already
spent a bundle on shore excursions for my next cruise, a 35-day
Hawaii/South Pacific voyage on Holland America's Statendam. I just
wanted a relaxing four days on the Paradise, participating in the
onboard Battlestar Galactica Fans Convention events.
This cruise, however, began in Long Beach and visited Catalina
Island and Ensenada, Mexico. It also had one "Fun Day" at sea
before returning to Long Beach for disembarkation.
Internet Internet would not normally be a category included in a
cruise review, but I had to include it here because of what I
encountered while on the Paradise.
I was scheduled to be away from home for 40 days. This was the
first cruise and another one was to follow that was 35 days in
length. Therefore, I brought along my own laptop for use in
blogging on that longer cruise, and did not plan on even accessing
the internet while on the Carnival Paradise. However, by the last
day of the Paradise cruise, I figured I'd better at least check my
email to make sure nothing was amiss at home. I have a 94 year old
father, and I wanted to make sure that my brother wasn't trying to
contact me concerning him.
The internet center was located on the same deck as my cabin, so
I headed over there to buy a small internet package for this
purpose. First of all, the center was dark and dingy -- not at all
what I am used to. However, as long as I can get on the internet
there, I figured I could deal with dark and dingy. I wouldn't be in
there that long. Wrong! I found the center to contain an adequate
number of workstations, I'd guess about 20, and several of them
were vacant. I pulled up a stool -- yes, the workstations are on a
long countertop so you have to sit on a stool (not very
comfortable). At the time I was in there, the center was staffed by
a manager, who seemed to know his job. He helped me to get an
account set up and then I set about getting to my email. This is
where the trouble started. Can you say slow? I mean sloooooooooow?
It took me over 15 minutes just to get to the first email box, and
I knew all of the appropriate internet addresses. They were written
on a piece of paper that I had with me. Everytime I would try to
access something, I got the indication that my request was
proceeding, a little circle going round and round. It should have
been a snail. I had purchased a 30 minute package figuring it would
be more than adequate for my needs, but I wound up using close to
45 minutes -- at pretty hefty charges too, I might add.
I think that between the 30 minute package, and the overage, as
well as the additional charge to print out one email, I spent close
to $30 bucks! All that to check email. I should have waited and
just done it the next day when I got to my hotel in Vancouver.
I realize internet service on cruise ships is never going to be
fast, but this was ridiculous. A dial up connection would have been
three or four times faster. I've been on cruise ships and I am
familiar with the limitations of onboard internet service, but this
was way beyond any of them. When I mentioned it to the internet
manager, how much time this was taking, he pretty much shrugged his
shoulders as if to say "what can you do?" My response would be
"plenty! Improve your service!"
So just let this be a warning to you. Unless you have no problem
spending a bundle, don't plan on using the internet on this
Conclusion I realize this is a far from comprehensive review of
the Carnival Paradise, but I've tried to make it as balanced as I
can. The bottom line is that there were some good points (the food)
and some low points (the cabin and the cleanliness level of the
ship), but overall I would say that I got my money's worth on this
sailing. I had a great time at the Battlestar Convention, though I
had a few issues with that as well. I didn't spend a whole lot of
money on this sailing, in fact it was actually rather cheap, so I
guess I got what I paid for.
If you were to ask me if I would ever sail the Paradise again, I
would have to say probably not. Not unless the ship underwent a
major overhaul and the service staff some major retraining. But I
would have to say that I got my money's worth out of this sailing,
so I guess it wasn't all bad.
I would have to add that in all fairness, Carnival is not my
preferred cruise line and I knew that going in. So, maybe I am
being a bit more critical that I should. But I just know that when
I take a vacation, I like to be waited on, and I like a high level
of service. When I sit down at a table on the Lido, I like it to be
clean, and the tables around me clean. I like elegant public rooms
with a smiling staff wanting to meet my every need. I don't think I
always got that on this cruise, and for that reason unless there
was really something special going on during the sailing, I doubt
I'll ever set foot on the Paradise again.