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cthrn27

7.2018 Paradise Review

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Before I begin I want to thank everyone on these boards for sharing their expertise. You guys always make our trips better!

 

Our cruise began on Saturday, July 21, 2018, but the planning was the trip's real beginning.

 

Earlier this year we planned to cruise during the summer months. I work in a school and can only vacation in June or July. My husband and I, both in our early 60's, began to look forward to the cruise. Unfortunately, my mother in law developed some health issues and we not only stopped planning the cruise, I stopped hoping to go on the cruise. Happily, we were able to sneak in a quick trip in July, but we booked LAST minute.

 

Air fares are not cheap during this time, especially last minute, and many of the flights to the ports we had chosen were filled when I began looking in earnest. We decided that being on a ship was more important (to us)than any individual ports, so we started working backwards. I figured I could get reasonable flights to Orlando most any time during the summer, so I started narrowing down 5 day cruises that left within driving distance of Orlando. I found a cruise out of Tampa, which is a quick and painless drive from Orlando.

 

We were not very familiar with Tampa, but I was intrigued by Ybor City and wanted to spend the night before the cruise there. After booking the Hampton there, I saw several reviews here and on Trip Advisor, that made me doubt my choice....

 

more to follow

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THANKS for posting. I'm looking forward to hearing all about your trip, and your stay at Hampton. (We've never heard of a problem there?)

 

 

 

"SKY"

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I am having a terrible time trying to post my pictures....anyone have any good (good and simple) advice?

 

Weeeelll,:rolleyes::rolleyes: :rolleyes:being timid travelers, and striving for marital harmony, as we reached 2 days before departure, I threw up my hands and settled on the comfortable (for us, anyway) option. I cancelled my reservations @ Ybor City and booked the Hilton Grand Vacation in Lake Buena Vista for one night. I got to shop for my granddaughter at DisneySprings, and had lunch at the Polite Pig there. We really enjoyed seeing all the changes and additions that had been made to the shopping area. Later, we enjoyed dinner at an old favorite, Tony Roma’s. This was a special treat as there are NONE near our home. The ribs were as good as we remembered.

 

 

Feeling relaxed, we enjoyed a night out by the pool and got to watch fireworks as they exploded over Sea World. All in all, it was a fine start to our trip! :D

Edited by cthrn27
typos

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Day 2 - Embarkation

With all the excitement we were up early and on the road to Tampa by 8:30 am. Seemed like too early, but there was an accident along the way. Google rerouted us through the "back woods". An area we would have never seen along the main thoroughfare.:eek::eek::eek:

 

We arrived in Tampa by about 12:00. Our appointment to board was 12:30 - 1:00. I felt like all morning I worried about being too early/too late. I didn't like the appointment idea (until I actually got there!) We returned the rental car to the Embassy Suites in Tampa, just off the Port. They called a free shuttle for us.... they have a tiny little closet of an office off the lobby at the Embassy. They told us to go wait out front. The door man told us to go wait out back. about 10 minutes later the guy from the car rental came running back looking for us. "What are you doing back there?" Yikes!!

 

It was a quick trip to the cruise port. I love seeing the ship first coming into view. I get thrilled!! First you see the Whale Tail and then the rest of the ship. Even though Paradise is one of the smaller ships, up close it is HUGE. They dropped us in front of the door. A porter run up and took our bags and we entered the building. We were a tad early, but no one seemed to care. Our only waiting was going through security and that wasn't bad at all. I'm not sure if things went so smoothly because of the new appointment times, or for some other reason. Either way, it was quick and painless. They welcomed us back (I love that!), and after a couple of pictures, smiles, and chit chat, we walked into the atrium lobby of the Paradise.

 

Goosebumps!! The ship was spotless. The wood gleamed, the glass sparkled. All the employees smiled their 100 watt smiles!! It sure felt good to be cruising again.

 

The lay out of the ships is very similar (at least the ships we have sailed). You have a general idea of where everything is. So we headed for the Lido deck. We said we were exploring, but we were heading to Guy's. As soon as the sliding glass doors from the atrium opened, those burgers were calling my name. There weren't many people on board yet, so we had no trouble snagging a greasy burger with super melty cheese, seasoned fries and lemonade. Yum! I think this was the earliest we had ever gotten on the ship and we had time and space to enjoy a leisurely lunch and just soak up the cruise vibe. :cool: Looking at the pool and the clear, blue, sky, I knew the journey had began, and the possibilities were endless!

 

After the burger we did a quick search for something sweet and found a nice variety. And there is always ice cream. The ice cream is really pretty good. Then we really did explore the ship. We went up, down, inside and out. We couldn't help but compare Paradise to the last ship we sailed. Of course it was smaller, but with fewer people it didn't see m like a bad thing! We looked over the side at the water in the port and it was pretty brown.... by then we were able to get into our room!

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Our room...

Did I mention that we had sailed Paradise before?? 14 years ago? with 2 boys?? Somehow, I had completely forgotten the size of the room. We opened the door and were surprised how small it was....somehow, I got used to that couch in the Conquest class. In my memory, I superimposed it into all the cabins. Once we were inside, however, it was no big deal. As usual, the bed was comfy and the sheets were clean. The entire cabin was very clean and looked like new. One thing that I think was different, there was no thermostat in the room. The only way to adjust the temperature was on the ceiling vent and the knob was stuck in a low position. The room was rather warm, but the steward said once the ship started moving it would cool off.... Unfortunately, it did not.

 

By now, it was time for the infamous Mandatory Safety Briefing. Brief is definitely the wrong word here. On the plus side, we were able to have the briefing inside, along the Promenade. We were all seated comfortably along the Promenade when the crew came in and asked everyone to push the chairs against the windows and stand for the briefing....ugh. So, there we stand, with muzak playing along the promenade, people talking, the crew trying to scan a Sail & Sign Card from each cabin and explain what they are doing, and someone giving instructions over the public address system. The directions sounded a lot like Charlie Brown's Teacher (waa waa waa). I have no idea what they were saying.

 

Our room steward, Johnny, was friendly and efficient. He asked if we preferred morning or evening tidy up. We told him morning, but I noticed that he also came back every evening for turn down, towel animal, and Fun Times. It's so cozy to come in to a room with a soft light, a neatly turned down bed, after a long day of fun and relaxation ,

 

There was so much on the ship to keep us busy, until we wanted to stop. Then, our room was our oasis. We really enjoyed the Comedy Shows. We saw Edgar Rivera and Jimmy Carroll. The guys did their best to keep each show fresh, often using the guests in the front row as fodder. There were 80's Rock Music Shows and the usual Love & Marriage Show with the newly minted cruise director Cam to keep us laughing. Cam seemed really good at making all the shows FUN. We laughed through the informative show on the ports and the debarkation informative.

 

I really missed the Dive in movies under the stars, but 2 nights they showed movies in the lounge. Black Panther one night, and the newest Star Wars another. For Black Panther, the lounge was pretty full and everyone sat quietly and watched the movie. It was fun ;) On sea day we spent some time in the library playing Scrabble. And I am always happy when I can just watch the waves.

 

Next up: The My Time Dining - our first time!!

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;) On sea day we spent some time in the library playing Scrabble.

 

 

You are so lucky! I love playing Scrabble, but my dh does not. On at-sea days, he likes to sit on our balcony and read (and drink beer) while I go look for people to play Scrabble with me. If I set up my game (I travel with my Scrabble) and wait, someone always comes along to play or to make a date to play later if they're on their way somewhere.

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Penguin, that seems SO brave of you!! What a fun way to meet new people!! :)

 

Thank you for calling me brave. Some would argue that I'm nuts. It is a fun way to meet new people. And, it keeps me out of dh's hair so he can read all-day long if he wants to. One time during an at-sea day, when just the two of us were cruising together, he was up in the room reading on the balcony, and I was playing Scrabble with a couple ladies in the library. At lunch time, he came down to the library to get me. By then, the ladies' husbands had come to the library to get them as well. The husbands got to talking while we were finishing our game. They were compatible - similar careers and they all liked beer - so we all wound up spending time together in the evenings - meeting up for drinks and games. Honestly, our evenings could have been a little boring without our new friends.

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Enjoying the review. Curious as to what made you change your mind about Ybor? LOVE it there, and I do not get to go up there often.

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Mikew, I had seen some reviews on Trip Avisor that said that the area was sketchy at night. Then, I saw another review that the area was more of a party area and it often spilled over into the hotel. On top of that, we were already flying into Orlando and we hadn't seen that area in quite a while, so we decided to stay there. We aren't very familiar with Tampa, but we are very familiar (and comfortable), with Orlando. When we passed the Ybor area after the cruise, it looked absolutely fine. However, we really enjoyed our overnight in Orlando. Worked out for the best, for us. :)

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When we book a cruise, we tend to do it about 6 weeks before sailing. Typically, I ask for My Time Dining, and each time, we get the late seating. This year, we booked 2 weeks out, didn't ask, and got My Time Dining. I was thrilled!! My husband is not usually a fan of the dining room. He doesn't care what time we get, he doesn't want to go to the dining room. This time, he found our dining option less objectionable. We ate in the dining room 4 out of the 5 nights.

 

We generally went to the dining room between 6 and 7 each night. Only on Elegant Night was there a wait, and even then it was only 15 - 20 minutes. They gave us a pager, and we walked around the atrium and listened to the guitar player on the stage at the bar below. The wait went quickly.

 

Each night we had a small table for 2, that was quite close to the table next to us. Several times we ended up in conversation with our neighbors. It seemed like we were seated next to some of the most personable people I've ever eaten with on a ship. I'm wondering if that small space between the tables makes it just a little less stressful...Or, could it be that the staff on the Paradise are so relaxed and friendly that it kind of rubs off on the diners?

 

I enjoyed the meals. Most memorable to me were a pasta dish with a variety of seafood. There were scallops, shrimp, squid, muscles. All very delicious. I also enjoyed the lamb shanks and the salmon. Of course, the warm chocolate melting cake was delicious!! We also ordered the tropical fruit plate most evenings and the pineapple was juicy and ripe. On our last night we were seated in Joyce's section. She was funny, friendly, and a great waitress. I don't think the was a single meal when one of the staff didn't ask us "how was your day?" and they actually listened. On port day, they all told us that they went ashore to buy food. After the 3rd person told us this, I asked if they weren't fed well by the cruise line. He responded that they were well fed but he liked to have snacks to munch on while watching T.V. or relaxing with friends. It made me think how much alike we all are, no matter where we are from, or what we do. I'm always learning something on a cruise!!

 

Next:Ports of Call

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Funny how my opinion of Ybor is completely different than Mike’s. Husband and I live in St. Petersburg. We won’t step foot in Ybor (and we’re mid-20’s; typical Ybor clientele). To us, it is beyond sketchy, and just a strip of clubs/bars. And the crime rate - if you research into it - is ridiculousss.

 

But, again, is a matter of opinion. 100% get and respect that. :)

 

 

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LOL! You should have been partying in Ybor in the 80's (before they "cleaned it up"). Now that was a sketchy and CRAZY place. I'm surprised we all survived!

 

Funny how my opinion of Ybor is completely different than Mike’s. Husband and I live in St. Petersburg. We won’t step foot in Ybor (and we’re mid-20’s; typical Ybor clientele). To us, it is beyond sketchy, and just a strip of clubs/bars. And the crime rate - if you research into it - is ridiculousss.

 

But, again, is a matter of opinion. 100% get and respect that. :)

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Meg, I like how you summed it up. It is just not for hubby & me. But for those who enjoy it, great!! So glad there are so many options out there.

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We chose this cruise based on time constraints (could only cruise in July), our waaaay late booking (booked about 2 weeks out), airline availability (could not find a flight that worked in to/out of NOLA), and $$$$$(probably should have put that one first!). So, we weren't terribly thrilled about the ports, having been to Cozumel and Grand Cayman before. In fact, we had been to Grand Cayman several times, but it had come down to take a cruise or some other vacation, and nothing gave us "that" feeling that cruising does. A less desirable port far out weighed not cruising (for us, anyway!).

 

Usually, we book excursions through the ship...in Cayman we have been to Sting Ray City (loved that), Hell (it's cute...ONCE), on a Pirate Cruise (Loads of fun when the kids were young), Turtle Farm (the one that got blown away), and the newer one (with the education center, and snorkeling reef and pool). Each one was enjoyable, but I just didn't want to spend $$$$ to see what I'd already seen. So, armed with lots information from this sight, we planned on catching a cab to 7 mile beach and relaxing. This worked out so very well. We got to the beach and rented 2 chairs and an umbrella for $20. I'm sure some have gotten a better deal, but this required no haggling, and we were relaxing 5 minutes after setting foot on the soft, warm sands. There were only a couple of boats in port that day, and most of the people around us were from our ship. It was a companionable existence, with a bit of idle chit chat among us all. Runners offered to bring drinks, but we were happy with the sun, surf and sand. We lathered up with sunscreen (my midwest skin tends to burn, peel, and burn again.) and relaxed in our chairs. When it got warm we were comfortable going for a quick dip, even with our things near our chairs. The area was not crowded and the chairs were very close to the water. They did have some great smelling food cooking in the area, but by the time we were hungry we were heading back to the ship, more relaxed than we had been in ages. Even now I love to think of the view. Wish I could figure out how to get some pics on the review.... We watched jet skiers, para sailors, kids romping in the sand. We had a great time!

 

Last year, on the tender from Grand Cayman, the entertainers were talking about the BLT's from room service. They couldn't say enough about how good they were, so, mouths watering, we ordered them. They WERE great! So, keeping with our tradition, we ordered some this year. I have to say that the Paradise (like the Conquest) makes a DELICIOUS BLT. The wait for the food was less than 20 minutes. By the time we had washed off all the sand (and sunscreen), the food was arriving. Yum! (I'm getting hungry now....)

 

On our first trip to Cozumel we had visited Chankanaab (about 14 years ago), and I had always wanted to go back when we had more time. Again, based on good information from this site, we hailed a cab and headed out. The trip could not have been easier. Unfortunately, it was SOOOOOOOO HOT. I know, that's how it is there. But yikes!! We wandered through the beautiful park, among leafy, forest type paths and met a Mayan man that was taking care of the area. He stopped his work to speak with us. His English was really good (thank goodness, because my Spanish is really bad), and we spent about 15 minutes talking about Mayan balance and life today. As opposed to some guided tours where they talk AT you, we actually conversed. It was interesting and enjoyable. We were able to catch the sea lion show (very cute!) and see (from a distance) some of the people swimming with the dolphins. After a nice cool drink at a nearby stand, we headed to the "beach" area and got two chairs under a shady palm. We could have gone in the water, but the water access was by stair in to the water. Along the water line were lots of LARGE rocks. There was a sandy area, it just didn't reach the water line. So I removed my shoes and put my feet up and relaxed. aahhh... Of course people come by trying to sell (of all things) massages.... :)

 

When we got back to our cabin it was so warm in there. It had been warm all along, but not terribly. Now it was uncomfortable. We mentioned it to Johnny, our cabin steward, and he sent some type of tech in to read the temperature. I don't know his name, but he was so nice. He came in and put the digital thermometer down and it read 77 degrees and started to decrease. I noticed that he had left the cabin door open. I walked over and shut it and the temperature went back up to 77 and he picked it up, so I don't know if it got any warmer. He told us he would check this out. 77 was not within Carnival standards for cabin temp. We went out to do some shopping at the stands just off the ship and when we returned there was a large box fan churning away in our cabin. The room was a bit more comfortable, but not the way it usually is on Carnival. We called housekeeping and asked if there wasn't some way to cool the room. Apparently not. To this point, all conversations had been friendly. No yelling. We received a note from guest services asking us to contact them. They awarded us a small credit on our account and gave us a gift card to be used in the Art Gallery, the Candy Shop, or the Pixels Gallery. We were so surprised and pleased by this. We really hadn't expected that. We worked with putting the fan in different areas, and the room got more comfortable. We were happy, and kind of impressed with Carnival.

 

In any case, it was the last night of the trip and we had $$$ to spend!! Candy Shop??? Pixels??? It was looking like our first fight of the Cruise! LOL

 

Next: the ending; getting off the ship...

Edited by cthrn27
typo

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I looked back and just may have missed it, but what cabin type did you have and where was it located?

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I'm aboard the Paradise in March... can't wait for the next installment of your review. Thanks!

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