1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our first cruise so did not know what to expect. Sailed out of Tampa to be close to home. Easy access to ship. Be careful in the casino since they double the amount of cash you insert in machine if you answer yes to charge to my ... Read More
This was our first cruise so did not know what to expect. Sailed out of Tampa to be close to home. Easy access to ship. Be careful in the casino since they double the amount of cash you insert in machine if you answer yes to charge to my card. Just beware. The food in the Elation restaurant is not the greatest and there is a long wait for your dinner, but if you eat in the Paris restaurant you have many choices at the buffet. Drinking, gambling and the pool are the main attractions. All in all for us it was ok. The cabin is sufficient. You have to pay for room service. Just go to the buffet. 5 days at sea is kind of long. Went to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Cozumel is a big tourist trap. No beach close by and many expensive stores. The ship was clean and organized. Make use of the daily schedule to partake in the extra curricular activities to make the cruise enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
This was my 3rd cruise on the Paradise and 24th overall. I choose this cruise because I like the ship and Cozumel is my favorite port. Embarkation was great! Tampa is my favorite port to cruise out of. We arrived about 1130 and it took ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise on the Paradise and 24th overall. I choose this cruise because I like the ship and Cozumel is my favorite port. Embarkation was great! Tampa is my favorite port to cruise out of. We arrived about 1130 and it took about 15 minutes to board. Went and got lunch and drinks and the cabins were ready before 1:30. The Paradise was refurbished last year so she is beautiful and in great shape. It is a smaller ship which allows you to get to know other guest and crews easier. We had a little over 2000 passengers and met quite a few people that we enjoyed running into each day. Booked an inside aft cabin on Empress Deck 7. I prefer insides for the price and I like the darkness for sleeping. Great location on same deck as lobby and one floor below the main dining room. Our cabin steward Purwanto was fantastic. We had early seating and great wait team which consisted of Wislan, St Juste and Baltazar. They were very friendly and efficient. We loved the singing and Baltazar is quite the dancer. Food and desserts were very good. Carnival has the best spring rolls and chocolate melting cake on the planet. The shows were good, those guys and girls are talented and the video screen is pretty cool. Both the Cowboy Comedian and Killer Beaz were funny and they have moved into a bigger room so no problem getting seats. We bought the drink package and rarely had to wait more than a minute or two. The Cruise Director Leon was very friendly and energetic. He was one of better ones I have had. Trivial Pursuit with Carlos was pretty funny also. Went to Mr Sancho's in Cozumel. Food, drinks and service were all excellent. The bartenders at the swim up bar are amazing. They also have a nice beach and plenty of seats in or out of the sun. Cozumel is the best place in the Caribbean to buy almost anything, but remember to haggle. Disembarking was pretty smooth. Went for a leisurely breakfast about 8 and got in line about 9:05. We were in our car by 9:30. I highly recommend porters and valet parking. Two of us have cruised alot while two were first time cruisers...a great time was had by all. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I chose this cruise to go visit Cuba and Key West with my husband. Carnival has found a way to nickel and dime you even when you pay for all such as drink package. No bartenders except in serenity that were eager to serve you. Anton was ... Read More
I chose this cruise to go visit Cuba and Key West with my husband. Carnival has found a way to nickel and dime you even when you pay for all such as drink package. No bartenders except in serenity that were eager to serve you. Anton was awesome and the only one to come back and keep us happy. All other bars you had to go to them and wait! Since they do automatic gratuity you get poor service. Food was ok....best thing was guys cheeseburgers. Tiny cups for water. Soda was flat that was part of my drink package. Not much entertainment during the day. Comedy shows were pretty good. One pool for whole ship. Definitely outdated even though it says remodeled in 2019. Would not recommend. Budget vacation/ budget ship! Very disappointed. We bought alcohol and was told by airport that cruise ship should have given us a bag for carrying it on plane-nope didn’t happen so we lost alcohol at security. Mel the cruise ship director was kind of rude. She didn’t have great things going on to engage cruisers. We could have visited Cuba on Tuesday and spent more time in Key West. Went on Monday to Cuba and all Museums are closed on Mondays...... Had to pay a $75/pp visa to go to Cuba. Our room attendant did a great job! Greeted us by first name every time we saw him! Asked me what I wanted done on a daily basis whether I needed more towels etc. he was always smiling!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
My sister and I wanted to see Cuba and I am glad we went when we did since it seems now restrictions for travel there may be put back in place very soon. The ship is older and smaller but went through renovations last year. Rooms were ... Read More
My sister and I wanted to see Cuba and I am glad we went when we did since it seems now restrictions for travel there may be put back in place very soon. The ship is older and smaller but went through renovations last year. Rooms were adequate in size but no sofa or table and a very small desk area. We ended up rearranging the 2 beds from side by side set up, which gave almost no clearance between a bed and the desk, to putting the nightstands next to the desk and placing the twin beds at a 45 degree angle (head to head along the window side and the wall opening up the middle of the room. We had one of the recently added balcony rooms near the aft of the ship (U215). We great for popping out for photos and air drying my hair in the breeze! There are 2 drawers and some shelves when you first walk in and 2 closets. We didn't even use one of the closets! The shelf area had your safe (number code, not swipe a card) and a small "chiller"/cooler (not really a refrigerator) Our cruise director was Mel (Mellesa D) She was a great Tina Turner at the Motown party and also an energetic hostess at the 80 music trivia party. Our favorite Fun Squad member was Texas Ty (Tyler). He kept the games and trivia hopping & fun! Be on the look out for his red cowboy boots! We did not gamble, nor attend any big shows. Our shore excursions in Key West and Havana we done on our own. Embarkation was a breeze but we are platinum. On board by 11:15am. Debarkation was super fast as we took off our own luggage and were street side by 7:30AM. Key West: we were at the Naval base and had to take Conch Trains into town. No biggie but if you are not in a hurry, wait about 45 mins before getting off and you will get right on the train. We rode the Free air conditioned Duval Loop bus and got on & off where we wanted to. Havana: got up early to get a sticker for groups getting off the ship on their own. Carnival lets their excursions off first then they call groups by stickers letter. We had group A. They must have been waiting for stragglers for the Carnival excursions because they called A, B, & C to get off if you were ready. We planned on meeting our I Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise on the Carnival Paradise for one reason and one reason only - CUBA. The itinerary was exactly what we were looking for: only 5 days as we were leaving our 4 year old home w/ the grandparents and two ports Havana and ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the Carnival Paradise for one reason and one reason only - CUBA. The itinerary was exactly what we were looking for: only 5 days as we were leaving our 4 year old home w/ the grandparents and two ports Havana and Key West (which we also love). SHIP: We had not cruised on a Fantasy class ship in over 10 years, so I wasn't sure how we would like it compared to the larger ships we've sailed on (Breeze/Vista etc.). We actually really enjoyed the smaller ship. It had the Funship 2.0 upgrades (Guy's Burgers, Blue Iguana Cantina, Waterworks) that we loved on other ships but not nearly the crowds we've experienced in the past. We never waited more than a couple minutes for anything - drinks at the bars, lines for foods, elevators. We knew the ship was sold out, but it never felt that way. The ship itself was in good condition - I didn't notice any major areas of disrepair and we didn't get any of the bad odors that I've seen mentioned elsewhere. The only thing to note is that the water in our toilet and sink had a yellowish tint to it on occasion. I first noticed it in the toilet - I thought it hadn't been flushed so I flushed it again and when the bowl refilled it was still yellow. It took several more flushes for it to fill up with clear water. If we would fill the sink it would also sometimes be yellow. I didn't notice anything in the shower though. It didn't really impact us other than I would use bottled water to wash my face and brush my teeth. CABIN: We booked cabin M230, a balcony near the aft of the ship on Main deck (deck 5) on the port side. The cabin was great. We had adequate storage for the two of us which included two closets (one had a shelf in the middle so could not be used for long dresses) and four of five shelves for storage. The safe was huge - my sister could fit her laptop in her safe easily! The bathroom only had one shelf above the sink, but it was ok for the two of us. The vanity area had two small corner shelves for storage and one drawer which housed the hair dryer and had little extra room for other things. There was also an in-cabin refrigerator which we didn't use. We had our two twin beds converted into a king size bed which was very comfortable. Unlike balcony cabins on larger ships, this cabin did not have a sofa or table. The balcony itself seemed like it was the same size as other ships' standard balconies. We had two chairs and a table on the balcony. I did note that the doors to the balconies did not have the tendency to slam shut like on other ships. Our cabin steward was Giri and he was great. He kept our ice bucket full and our cabin cleaned and stocked each day. One day he wrote a Happy Anniversary message to us on our vanity mirror! It was super cute and sweet! FOOD: Overall, the food we had was very good quality. We had breakfast in the main dining room 2 or 3 times and our service was always very quick even on ordering drinks. I had just eggs and bacon both days for breakfast. The other days we had breakfast on the Lido deck (either breakfast burritos or food from the buffet). Lunches were almost always from Guys or Blue Iguana. I don't think we ever got lunch from the buffet. Several in our group got sandwiches from the Deli and raved about the BLT, but lines here could be a little longer. I also got Sushi from the small Bonsai Sushi stand one day and it was great. You really get a lot of sushi for $7.50! It more than filled me up! We had dinner in the main dining room three of the five nights. Since we had a larger group, most of us elected to have our bookings linked so we could be seated together at the late seating in the aft dining room. The first night our service was pretty slow, but things seemed to improve as the week went on. We did get drink service at our table at least once each night. The food in the main dining was very good. I usually ordered a couple appetizers and one main dish. One evening I upgraded my dinner to the Filet Mignon on the Steakhouse Selections menu ($20 cost). On the last night of the cruise, 5 members of our group participated in the Chef's Table. We had a little bit of a snafu with our Chef's Table reservation. I had reserved for our group back in June, 2018 and had a confirmation email from the Paradise Maitre D. I had read that you would get a note in your cabin once onboard letting you know what night your Chef's Table experience would be. By day three we hadn't received anything, so I went down to the Guest Services to inquire. The girl working the desk said she did not show up signed up for the Chef's Table. I showed her the email confirmation and she said that she would have to reach out to the Maitre D who was currently off duty. My sister and I went back to Guest Services in the morning and talked to someone else. They had the Asst. Maitre D and another dining room staff member come out and talk to us. They told us that both that night and the following night's Chef Tables were already at capacity but they would see what they could do for us and let us know that evening at dinner. Ultimately they were able to accommodate us on the last night of the cruise. The Chef's Table is $75 but it was so worth it. It started with our group meeting in the lobby area where we were given glasses of champagne. Then we took a short tour of the galley where we had four different small appetizers served to us and were shown how Carnival's famous Chocolate Melting Cake is made. We then were seated at tables in the Library for a 7 course feast - dishes included gourmet breads, a beet/panacotta appetizer, crab stack appetizer, duck, a tomato bisque soup, sea bass, beef wagyu and a dessert plate with four mini dessert options. During the entire dinner, both red and white wines are free-flowing. We did have someone in our group with some dietary restrictions which were accommodated for her. SERVICE: As is the norm in our experience with Carnival, the entire staff was friendly, hard-working and courteous with the exception of the first Guest Services person I spoke to about our Chef's Table reservation. Not sure why, but I find Guest Services to usually be the least helpful people on the ship. Everyone else from our dining room staff, maitre d, bar servers, cabin staff, spa staff, etc. SHIP ACTIVITIES: My sister and I had a "couples massage" on one of our sea days (her treat as a birthday present for me). The massage itself was very good and the two girls working on us were great! The room itself was a little on the cool side and they didn't have heated tables so I was a bit chilly during most of my massage. They did give us the product sell afterwards, but I'm pretty good at saying no to that stuff! LOL We went to one of the comedy shows and I did not find that guy funny. We did not catch any of the production shows this time around. The band playing outside of the casino bar was awesome! They usually played 80's music and always had a big crowd! Even when the nightclub had an "80's Party", this band drew a bigger crowd. They were so much fun to watch! Karaoke seemed to be a big draw as well. I really never felt that any of the bars or lounges were over crowded. I also spent some time in the casino. I did fairly well on blackjack but gave it all back playing three card poker and texas hold 'em. The casino itself did not seem very smokey, but the smoke was noticeable at the one side of the casino bar that allows smoking. PORTS: Tampa - This was our first time cruising from the Port of Tampa and I would do it again in a heartbeat! We flew down the day before and stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Ybor City. The hotel was just okay - standard Hampton Inn. The pool area was tiny and only had a few lounge chairs and was not fully in the sun. The rooms were pretty standard. Our only real complaint about the hotel room was the volume of the a/c unit. It was very loud which made it hard to sleep. The hotel provides a free shuttle anywhere within a three mile radius of the hotel. We used Lyft to get to the port as we didn't want to wait for the shuttle and go with a crowd of other people. Embarkation and disembarkation at the Port of Tampa were the fastest and easiest of any of my 18 cruises. We arrived at the Port around 10:50 and were able to walk right through the priority line and were through security in a matter of minutes. When we got to the check-in desk, there was no line whatsoever. The agents checked our paperwork, gave us our Visa's and sent us to the Priority waiting area. We only waited there about 5-10 minutes before boarding began. Since we are Platinum, we were among the first to board and were on the ship by 11:15. Disembarkation was the same way. We were heading to the meeting area for those carrying off their luggage by 7:25. My husband stopped at the little cafe area on deck 9 and ordered a coffee and by 7:34 they were calling for Self-Assist passengers to head to the Lobby to disembark. Getting off the ship was easy, customs was a breeze and we were outside the building waiting for our Lyft by 7:50. In fact, we were at the airport, checked-in, through security and at our gate by 8:45! So easy! Key West - We have been to Key West several times on cruises and also honeymooned there. Most of our group elected to book the Key West Pub Crawl tour through Carnival. This was my third time doing the tour. It's always alot of fun. For the cost of the tour, you visit 5 different Key West bars and are given a ticket for a free drink (either their specialty drink, well cocktail or domestic beer). It's a walking tour, but you aren't going that far between stops. We visited Tree Bar, Flying Monkey (where you can get any of their frozen concoctions), Hard Rock Cafe, Sandbar and Rick's. Along the way the guide talks about Key West and engages with the group. There is also a conch blowing contest for those inclined to give it a try (NOTE - I won this last time we did this tour!). After the tour, we walked around the Mallory Square area a bit and then headed back to the ship. We did not dock at the main pier on this trip. We were docked at the military base. They had conch trains set up to shuttle people between the ship and the Mallory Square area. The trains ran about every 15 minutes or so. Havana, Cuba - This was the real draw of this cruise. Our ship was scheduled to be in Havana from 7AM until 6AM the following morning. 15 of the 18 in our group booked a private tour through I Love Cuba Photo Tours. We were to meet our guide, Yosel, at 9AM. One member of our group got up early and got in line to get stickers to get off of the ship. We were in group C. We had planned to meet at 8AM at the Blue Iguana and exit the ship together. By 8AM, Carnival was well past group C so we were able to pretty much just walk off the ship. When we got to the customs area, there were several lines formed. Of course, I picked the slow line! But it still only took us about 7-10 minutes to get through the customs line. The customs agent takes your Visa and Passport and they supposedly do a infrared temperature scan. If your temp is over 98.6 you are sent for further screening before being allowed to enter the country. No one in our group had this issue. Once through customs, we headed to the currency exchange line. This also went very quickly. We exchanged $300 US dollars for 261 CUCs. There are restrooms near the currency exchange so everyone decided to take care of business before heading out of the terminal. Once we got outside, we took a right and walked about 5 minutes to a bus stop. This is where we were to meet Yosel. We were initially supposed to meet him at the rum factory to the left once you exit the terminal. But Yosel contacted me the day prior while we were docked in Key West and said they were no longer allowing tour pick ups there. He had also contacted a friend who works on the Paradise and asked her to relay the message in case he wasn't able to reach me. We were able to find him easily at our new meeting spot. Our tour was a full day tour with four hard top Classic Cars with A/C. Each car fit four of us plus the driver and our guide who is also a professional photographer. You provide them an SD card and they take all of the photos for you. It was great cause I was able to just enjoy the tour and not worry about capturing moments on camera. After the tour, you get to take your SD card (and photos) with you! They did a great job of capturing candid moments as well as staging us for group pics. We visited the following places: Fusterlandia - artistic area of Havana Forrest area located in central Havana - this is where a lot of religious sacrifices and rituals like baptisms take place. Revolution Plaza - where Castro used to hold his marathon speeches Lunch at El Cocinero - we researched and picked the place we wanted to eat lunch at Hotel Nacional - landmark hotel El Morro fort Cigar factory/store Malecon Also drove through other various parts of Havana including the "ghetto" and central business district After the tour, we were taken back to the port area. Some of our group explored near the port area for a while before taking a taxing to the Vedado area of Havana for dinner. We had dinner at a Paladar (private in-home restaurant) called La Narajos. The menu here constantly changes based on what they can get at market. Our waitress set up a chalkboard and easel next to our table and ran through the options with us. My lobster dinner was huge and was only $25. After a great meal, we took a taxi back to the port area where we spend the next couple hours just hitting up a few bars sipping on mojitos and listening to the local musicians. We headed back to the ship around 10:30PM. A few things to note about Havana: * We never felt unsafe at all even walking around at night. The people there are very friendly and not aggressive at all. * Buildings and streets are often in disrepair. You do have to be aware when walking at night because areas of the sidewalks have holes or other hazards which are hard to see because the streets are not well lit. * Overall we found things to be very reasonably priced. Our lunch was about $50-60 total for my husband and I and that includes a couple shared appetizers, two entrees and a couple drinks. Our dinner was a bit pricier, but still not bad for a nice dinner out. Taxi prices seemed to depend on whether you flagged down a classic car or regular yellow taxi (classic car was $20 for four of us from the port to dinner, yellow taxi was $10 for four us from dinner back to the port). Supposedly you can negotiate, but we didn't attempt to. These people make so little, that it didn't feel right to try to talk them down. * English speaking in Cuba is hit or miss. Our tour guides spoke flawless English. But in the stores and bars, most people seemed to know just enough to take care of our drink orders. At both restaurants we went to, our services spoke great English. * We had heard prior to getting to Cuba that you had to pay to use restroom facilities and that most do not provide toilet paper. We took a handful of tissues off the ship with us just in case. But we really did not encounter this. At the last bar we went to, a lady tried to get my husband to give her money after he came out of the bathroom, but he just said he didn't speak Spanish and walked past her. *It is VERY hot in Havana and also humid. I wouldn't book a Convertible for a full day tour. You would get pretty beat up by that hot sun! Our tour did include about an hour in a convertible and that was enough for us! The rest of the time we were in hard top cars with AC. And the drivers are VERY particular about their cars - do not slam the doors shut too hard and watch the curbs when you open the door so as to not scrape them on the pavement. Overall, it was a great trip and I wouldn't hesitate to visit Cuba again. There is so much to see and do there! We do regret not taking in the Buena Vista Social Club show and would love to do that next time. I hope our government keeps the options for visiting Cuba open long term! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We took the cruise to see Cuba. The first stop was Key West, which was great (as always) but way too short of a stopover. Cuba is a beautiful country and most of the people we met were quite nice, but guarded, The tour guides could hardly ... Read More
We took the cruise to see Cuba. The first stop was Key West, which was great (as always) but way too short of a stopover. Cuba is a beautiful country and most of the people we met were quite nice, but guarded, The tour guides could hardly speak English and were propaganda robots for the Cuban government, but the Taxi driver was great (and he got a big tip). My biggest problems were the following: (1) the Cuban Government rips off Americans on the money exchange ($86.00 back per $100.00 getting off the boat and another charge to redeem the CUCs for Dollars); (2) the Cuban Government says Americans can't use Dollars and charge cards, but we saw numerous places and tourists who accepted them or paid with them; (3) We tried to do an evening cabaret show excursion through Carnival (for $75.00), but when we tried to board the bus, we were refused entry because we wore dress shorts; the ticket did say no shorts but the print was so small it was unreadable and had a line through it, which in legal terms should have meant it did not apply; the bus agent would not give us time to go back on the ship and change, even though we were told by friends the bus waited 20 minutes more for other people (of course, there was no refund for the excursion); and (4) even though Carnival sells onshore excursions in Havana after 8:00 PM, and knows the money exchanges close at 8 PM, and there is no way to exchange the CUCs upon returning to the ship because Carnival refuses to provide this service and leaves port before 8:00 AM. I wonder if Carnival gets a percentage of the rip-off. Overall, the Carnival dining experience has gone way down from past years (at least on the Paradise), and the company does not give a hoot about how its passengers get ripped off for money by being able to exchange CUCs for Dollars after coming back to the ship after an evening excursion. Also, what we saw of Havana was mostly very poor; there are many old classical buildings with great architecture, which have either collapsed or are in the process of collapsing because nothing has been done to preserve them. Bottom line: Save you money and tour another country - preferably on another cruise line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Paradise Review – April 2019 5-night cruise from Tampa to Key West, Havana and Cozumel departure on Monday, April 8 and return on Saturday, April 13. This is a long review because we spent several days in Tampa prior to the cruise and ... Read More
Paradise Review – April 2019 5-night cruise from Tampa to Key West, Havana and Cozumel departure on Monday, April 8 and return on Saturday, April 13. This is a long review because we spent several days in Tampa prior to the cruise and have a lot to say about Cuba. We are a couple in our mid-50’s. Pre-cruise Hotel We drove from South Carolina to the Tampa Bay area several days prior to the cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn next to the St Petersburg/Clearwater airport. The room and hotel were as expected from a Hampton Inn. Our last visit to Tampa we stayed in Ybor City and thought it was great, but we needed to save some $$$ on this trip and the Pinellas Park/Largo area was much cheaper. Tampa pre-Cruise Activities NCAA Women’s Final Four (Downtown): Our original purpose for visiting Tampa was the basketball tournament. We greatly enjoyed the basketball tournament, which was our third. Parking at the Convention Center was reasonable, but the food in Amalie Arena was very, very expensive. We checked what cruises were departing after the tournament ended and this cruise fit perfectly. Busch Gardens (North Tampa): We planned to visit Busch Gardens not sure what to expect. We thoroughly enjoyed the animals, particularly from the Serengeti Express train through the Serengeti Plains exhibit. We rode once in the morning and again in the afternoon and saw different animals in different places. We also were impressed by the massive alligators and the gorillas. Our visit coincided with the annual wine and food festival, which was nice to have good food and drink available for purchase. It is also the Year of Beer at Busch Gardens honoring the founding of the park 60 years ago. Each guest (21 and over) can receive two free beer samples, which we enjoyed. The park maps are not sufficiently detailed and we struggled figuring out where we were and how to get where we wanted to go most of the day. We did not ride any of the huge roller-coasters. We purchased the Tampa Bay City Pass for just a few dollars more than admission to Busch Gardens. Chihuly Collection (St. Petersburg): We decided to purchase a Tampa Bay City Pass because we were spending several days in Tampa. We visited the Chihuly museum in St. Petersburg and enjoyed the exhibit, which is smaller than the Chihuly museum in Seattle. It has mostly similar works of art but some smaller pieces I did not recall seeing in Seattle. Florida Aquarium (Channelside): The City Pass included admission to the Florida Aquarium so we visited before the basketball game at nearby Amalie Arena. The exhibits were nice but not anything we haven’t seen at other nice aquariums. S.S. American Victory Mariners Museum (Channelside): The Florida Aquarium required less time than we planned so we toured the American Liberty, which is a functional WWII liberty ship with exhibits about the role these ships played in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The ship is moored next to the aquarium between Cruise Terminals 2 and 3. To find it walk between the aquarium and Terminal 3 and follow the signs. The American Victory is not part of the City Pass. Port of Tampa Departure: Could not be easier. Arrived at Terminal 3 slightly before our scheduled time of 11:30. Dropped the luggage quickly (few cars dropping bags) and parked in the parking garage across the street, which had ample spaces available. We pre-paid parking before leaving home and handed the parking attendant our printed ticket and parked on the second level near the elevators. Although we were early, by the time we had competed check-in our group number had already been called. We were still on the ship before many passengers had shown up. We had Guy’s burgers for lunch, at 1:30 we went to our cabin to change and went to enjoy the hot tubs on the Serenity deck before it was crowded. Return: Getting off the ship was quick and orderly and went much faster than the scheduled departure times. We learned that self disembarkation was starting with Deck 14 and we were on Deck 4 (Riviera), so we got luggage tags when they were offered at 10 am on the last day (Friday) and had a low group number (5 out of 28). Customs consisted of checking passports, and asking how many cigars and how much liquor (rum) we were bringing in from Cuba. We were under the duty-free limits and were on our way home. Muster Drill and Sail Away The Muster Drill was reasonably quick and efficient. As usual several passengers did not show and had to be tracked down. We did not need to walk from the muster station to the lifeboats. Sail away takes about two hours to sail down the channel and across the bay to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the Gulf of Mexico. Guy’s Burgers The burgers and fries were very good and consistent throughout the cruise, as we have experienced on past cruises. Paris Restaurant (Lido Buffet, Deli and Pizza Pirate) The Lido Buffet for breakfast was good, except for the coffee which wasn’t very good. The Lido Buffet for dinner was only okay, except the ribs on the last night were excellent. The Lido serves a sub-set of the offerings in the main dining rooms. The ice cream was good. The other deserts were only so-so. The pizza was always fresh and tasty, and the line was never long. The Deli offered a large variety of sandwiches and hot dogs for lunch and dinner, but sometimes the line was long. The Lido Buffet was under staffed compared to previous cruises on Fantasy and Elation. Tables were not cleared in a timely manner, many times only one side of the main buffet was open, and only one person was typically working the Deli. We had anytime dining but never ate dinner in the main dining room. Lido Deck Rum Fog and Blue Iguana Bars The bars seemed well staffed on the first day, then appeared to have fewer working and walking the Lido deck for the rest of the cruise. There was a special drink offered on embarkation day in a Tervis Tumbler for about $20 (drink and tumbler) which we thought was the best deal of the cruise. We used the tumblers for water and other drinks for the rest of the cruise. Stateroom Our porthole stateroom on the Riviera Deck was near the bow. The carpet and furnishings were in excellent condition. The bathroom sink and shower were also in great condition. The shower curtain tended to drift into the shower. The water pressure was outstanding, and very hot (the warnings in the bathroom about scalding should be taken seriously). Our room steward did a great job keeping the room fresh while we were away having fun. A towel animal made an appearance every day. There was excessive noise and vibration overnight after leaving Cozumel and on the sea day. It sounded/felt like a heavy metal door being slammed below our cabin two or three times each minute. I assume these were waves hitting our side of the ship since we did not hear the noise the first three days. Casino We visited the slots on Thursday after leaving Cozumel and again on Friday. The casino was not as smoky as previous cruises we have taken. Entertainment and Activities The “80s music” show in the theater was well done and we enjoyed it. The “rock music” show had some undisclosed technical issue, requiring the singers to sit in front of the curtain, and it was boring. The other musical performers at the Atrium Bar and Casino Bar were loud and not soothing to our ears, like our last cruise on Fantasy. The “PG” comedy show consisted of bringing some passengers on stage and asking some questions with the comedian making jokes out of the responses. While I appreciate the improv nature of the show, it lasted about 20 minutes and just wasn’t very funny. We skipped the adult comedy shows. We noticed other activities like trivia contests, bingo, etc. seemed limited on this cruise, like our last cruise on Fantasy. Key West We docked at the Outer Mole/Navy Mole and had to take the “conch train” to the depot near Mallory Square. We docked at noon and left at 6 pm so we only had about 5 hours. We had been to Key West on a prior cruise so we walked down Duval St as far a Truman Avenue, walked over one block to the Hemingway House and Old Lighthouse, then walked back toward Mallory Square and enjoyed some Key Lime Pie. A squall line came through late in the afternoon and it was very windy, delaying our departure by 2 hours. Havana We arrived in Havana on-time at 7 am, because it is only 90 miles from Key West. We booked the “Culinary Traditions tour” though Carnival. We gathered in the dining room and waited for our turn to exit the ship, go though Cuba customs, exchange money and start our tour. We asked for small bills to have money for tips when using bathrooms, etc. The entire process lasted approximately 1.5 hours. Our group of 44 people (a bus load) was one of many leaving about the same time. We stayed up front near the tour guide and had no difficulties hearing or getting the photo’s we wanted. Our tour started with a walking tour of old Havana. Many of the streets in old Havana are cobblestones so they can be difficult to walk on unless you wear comfortable walking shoes. There are also numerous unmarked large and deep holes in sidewalks all over Havana so you must watch were you are walking and stop walking to take photos, etc. Some buildings near the major plazas in Old Havana have been restored (or at least painted) but many buildings outside Old Havana are very run-down looking on the exterior. We then boarded a tour bus for drive by several government buildings and eventually stopping at the cigar shop. After being given the opportunity to buy some authentic Cuban cigars, rum, and coffee we boarded the bus and went to lunch at the former Havana Hilton (known as the Havana Libre since 1960). Lunch is on the 25th floor and the views of the city are amazing. There is a lengthy pre-lunch show, which is probably required to meet the “people-to-people” travel requirements of the tour. We were the second group to arrive for lunch and the prime seats to see the show in the middle of the restaurant were already taken, but it wasn’t all bad because we sat by the floor to ceiling windows enjoying the views and were free to move about as we pleased. If you “volunteer” to get on stage and participate in the show you are rewarded with a free drink made as part of the show, which we did instead of buying drinks at the bar. Lunch consisted of corn soup and Cuban pork, it was good but it was not spicy. After lunch we boarded the bus for the Plaza of the Revolution. This is one area where the classic 1950’ cars (which are mostly taxis for hire now) congregate. Our tour then drove along the Malecon back towards the ship. Our last stop was a shopping area with a restaurant and small shops, including another cigar and rum buying opportunity. This is where we learned how to smoke Cuban cigars, along with a small sample of coffee and rum. We appreciated the short cigar smoking “class” as a uniquely Cuban experience. We also noticed very few Cubans other than the tour guides appeared to speak any English, including most of the hotel staff at our lunch and the two cigar stores where tourists probably visit every day. There is also no Diamonds International or Senor Frogs in Havana. For us all these factors made the day very authentic and unlike any other Caribbean port. Cozumel We arrived in Cozumel at noon and left at 10 PM. We walked from the Puerta Maya Cruise Pier where Paradise and other Carnival ships dock about 2.5 miles to the Thirsty Cougar near the Punta Langosta Cruise Pier “downtown”. After enjoying various adult beverages and a late lunch, we walked back to the ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Embarkation process was wonderful, our arrival time was between 12:30 and 1:00. We arrived around 12:00 and we walked right on the ship. We had lunch on Deck 10 the lido buffet. I found the food to be limited, they have a themed ... Read More
Embarkation process was wonderful, our arrival time was between 12:30 and 1:00. We arrived around 12:00 and we walked right on the ship. We had lunch on Deck 10 the lido buffet. I found the food to be limited, they have a themed lunch/dinner every day. French, Italian, All American, Good Eats. I didn't really care for it. The deli also in the buffet was good I had the turkey wrap it was excellent, hot dogs were also good.Guys burgers were great. We forgot to eat at Blue Iguana Cantina but I heard it was good. I thought the pizza was terrible, it was paper thin and had no taste so it didn't matter that it was open 24 hrs. The ice cream was wonderful also 24 hours. The dining room was closed for lunch, I was not really used to that on the other ships I have been on. We did eat in the dining room for dinner I found the food to be very good but thought the portions were small. I had the chicken breast it was seasoned well and moist but only came with 2 pieces of broccoli or a handful of peas and carrots. My husband had the pork chop and he felt the same and usually had 2. We chose this ship because of the itinerary, Key west, Havana, and Cozumel. In Havana bring toilet paper, towels and hand sanitizer. Go to the lecture about Havana you will learn about pee-pee coins, because you need to pay to use the restroom. We did the easy havana and fusterlandia tour and it was excellent. Raciel with havanaturs was our tour guide we had an air conditioned coach with a bathroom. All ports were amazing we did the ship sponsored tours. Our room was very nice we had a outside view it was perfect for us as we were not in the room much but we wanted a view and I could sit on the ledge and look out the window and look at the water. Our steward was Jay, he introduced himself on the fist day and brought us our bathrobes, and my complimentary water as I was a repeat Carnival cruiser he cleaned our room early when we went to breakfast, our room and the ship were always very clean. Everywhere that you went that somebody was always cleaning something. The shower was small but we did fit. The shower curtain was a joke and when we showered there was a large puddle outside the shower. Found the activities to be limited but that was fine because we were off the ship or eating most of the time. We did the trivia and trivial pursuit we had a great group of people. I was very impressed with the debarkation it was extremely well organized, we were off the ship and in our car on the way home in half and hour. The elevators were inadequate, so ended up taking the stairs most of the time, so we felt less guilty about the food we ate, because we burned it off going to the next level of the ship. Overall we had the best time and we would go again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because the ship was sailing out of Tampa and was going to Havana. We are avid cruisers and have sailed out of Tampa before. This trip provided us with opportunity to visit with family in the Tampa area and to go ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the ship was sailing out of Tampa and was going to Havana. We are avid cruisers and have sailed out of Tampa before. This trip provided us with opportunity to visit with family in the Tampa area and to go to Cuba . Embarkation is Tampa is usually better than Port Canaveral and this proved no exception. We also had FTF for the first time. THE GOOD DINING ROOM -----our experience here was not just good it was excellent! Ayu and her staff were the best that we have ever had. The staff shows were fun and the food was better than on the Breeze. At times it was very good. We ate all of our breakfasts and dinners in the Dining Rooms. Dinners were Early Dining in the Destiny. The décor is modern, with no tablecloths(except for elegant night). I liked it. Bacon, Hash Rounds and eggs cooked your way were the best. Pancakes were rubbery and the cereal crusted French toast at brunch was terrible. CABIN-----Spacious, modern and clean with new features such as soft close drawers and USB ports. However, only small bench at desk and no other seating. Our cabin R35 was noisy with the bow hitting the waves often. STAFF------This is the friendliest staff that we have encountered. EXCURSION------Ship excursion, Easy Fusterlandia in Havana was the BEST that we have had. Our group of 7 all thought that it was excellent and the highlight of our cruise. It included a professional show with music and dancing ; we also had a gourmet lunch with Mohito and wine included. CASINO-----The casino was small but had all new machines. The BAD KEY WEST--Getting off of the ship in Key West was a total disaster(in my opinion) Since the ship docks at the Navy Pier, everyone has to be shuttled into town. The halls were jam packed with people and you could not get an elevator. It was the worst that I have ever experienced. ELEVATORS---extremely slow PIZZA----In my opinion, it is just plain bad and not worth waiting for. This has been true of the pizza on my last 3 carnival cruises. They need a new recipe and a new system. THE UGLY--- THE ATRIUM---the atrium and promenade, in my opinion are just plain ugly! The brown on brown and mustard colors are dark and depressing and the first impression as you board is not a good one. It screams old and ugly! Overall we enjoyed our cruise because we were with family and seeing Cuba was awesome. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
First off embarkation and debarkation were a total breeeze. Everything went smoothly and getting off the ship in Cuba and through customs was about a 10 minute process. Everyone was extremely organized. I have read other horror stories ... Read More
First off embarkation and debarkation were a total breeeze. Everything went smoothly and getting off the ship in Cuba and through customs was about a 10 minute process. Everyone was extremely organized. I have read other horror stories about going through customs in Cuba and in my experience they were all exaggerations. The upgrades to the states rooms were well thought, as we all know outlets are usually an issue in older ships. There were four usb plugs in my interior room which was spacious with plenty of closet and storage space. The ship itself is a little quirky but I got the hang of it. I am not a fan of a ship that you can not walk straight through (it’s a minor inconvenience and mainly something you adjust to after the first two days on board) the atrium is beautiful but has a lack of seating. This ship also has one pool which wasn’t an issue on our cruise but I can imagine it being packed on a cruise with more families/children. Food overall was great. Guys and blueiguana are my go to for lunch on this ship as the lido deck is more limited than other larger ships. Dinning room service and meals were some of the best I have had. The one thing that fell flat was the pizza. Carnival usually has the best pizza and it’s something I enjoy having late at night once the day is wrapping up but there was something so off about the pizza on this ship. Had it once and didn’t bother trying it again. The standout port on this trip and the reason I even booked it was Cuba. I mentioned above reading several “horror” stories of getting through customs in Cuba and either those were inaccurate or Cuba and the cruise line have learned how to stream line this process. You will have to fill out your visa which carnival gives you at embarkation. If you’re not sure how to fill it out or want to make sure you do it correctly guest services can give you an example of a complete visa or it will be in your fun times printout the day before you arrive to Havana. We booked an excursion through carnival. Culinary traditions and Cuba. It was hands down the best excursion. Our tour guide Viviana made the excursion she was informative and answered everyone’s questions. We started with a walking tour then drove down the Malecón. Had an amazing lunch at the Habana Libre hotel with a band and dancers. From there we went to plaza de revolucion, took pictures with old fashioned cars before finishing our excursion with shopping and a Cuba pairing of cigars, coffee and rum. If you’re thinking of going to Cuba do it and do it now. Cuba is changing that much is obvious and if you want to see it before it does don’t wait just go. Read Less
Carnival Paradise Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 3.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.5 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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