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mdsgu

Return to Carnival -- Paradise 7/20/19

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So after a little over a year out from our last Carnival adventure (and 2 intervening Norwegian sailings) we returned to Carnival aboard the Paradise, and we brought two other families with us.  They each have 2 kids, 1 boy and 1 girl, who are exactly the same ages as our 2 kids, so that worked out really well.  Neither family has ever cruised before, but both are ready to plan their next adventure after this 5 day cruise!

 

We drove to Tampa (about 10 hours) the day before the cruise stayed at the Hampton Inn in Ybor City.  Very colorful area of Tampa.  We all went to an arcade-and-bar restaurant within a short walk of the hotel.  The food was ok (as we expected), and the kids all enjoyed the video games, which was good because a monsoon started shortly after we arrived.  It was short-lived, though, and was completely over by the time we left to go back to the hotel.  We called it a night pretty early, around 10:30, since we had to get up and get the fun started the next day.

 

We had the stay-and-cruise package at the Hampton, so we were allowed to leave our car in the covered parking area of the hotel and use the shuttle to the port.  Not a bad deal at all.  I had spoken with the front desk on Friday, and they told me the shuttle was on a first-come, first-served basis; they started taking reservations at 7:30am.  I could either call the front desk or walk down.  So, I set my alarm for 7:25, woke up, went to the restroom, and then called the front desk.  I was told that they didn't start taking taking reservations until 7:30, and, since it was only 7:27, I would have to call back.  So, I watched the clock very carefully on my iPhone, and at exactly 7:30, I called back.  With that call, they were happy to add my name to the list for the 9:30 shuttle.  We ate the Hampton Inn breakfast -- standard fare: bagels, toast, scrambled eggs, yogurt, waffles, coffee, juice -- and then we were actually on the shuttle bus (just the four of us, the other 2 families had decided to park at the port) before 9:30 and at the port at 9:35.

 

The Tampa port is so easy for embarkation.  This was our second time leaving from Tampa, and it went so smoothly again.  We were a bit early, but since my wife is Platinum, we could arrive at any time.  One of the other families had purchased Faster to the Fun, and the other booked a suite, so we all had Priority stamped on our boarding documents.  Check-in takes less than 5 minutes, and we didn't wait very long at all in the "Captain's Lounge" (really just a different set of chairs from the rest of the waiting area).  Before long, we were walking on board -- well before 11am.  We quickly found our room, which was ready, and dropped our bags.  The kids changed to their swimsuits.  The FTTF family did the same.  The suite family -- well, their room wasn't ready (naturally) so they dropped their bags in our room.  We went up to Lido and found a couple of tables in the shade.  The kids ran off to the water slides and the adults all enjoyed a frosty beverage.  It was about 11:10am.  Cheers to the Tampa Port for mastering the art of smoothly embarking passengers!

 

We all sampled Guy's Burgers (excellent) and the chicken and pork tacos (also excellent) available on Lido.  We never did actually venture into the buffet area, though.  We all hung out on Lido eating and drinking, ok, mostly drinking, until muster drill.  All 3 families had different muster stations, so we agreed we'd just meet back at the same table afterwards.  On the Paradise, the muster drill is old-fashioned.  They lead you to believe you just meet in a lounge, but oh no, after you get in there, they march you out to the deck to show you were you'd have a front-row seat for all the drama that would ensue in the event of catastrophe at sea.  It wasn't really so bad.

 

So we all met back at the same table -- surprise! -- we actually got the same table on Lido.  Then, before even going under the Skyway Bridge, there were announcements for the crew and we start hearing rumors of smoke on Deck 6 (where our rooms were!).  The captain even came on to say there was nothing to be concerned about and we didn't need to all rush to our muster stations again.  Apparently, though, there was indeed a fire of some sort on the starboard side of Upper Deck.  FTTF family reported they actually saw smoke in their hallway.  We and Suite family were on port side, but we could all smell it.  Carnival fumigated the deck pretty well, though, and there was no smell in our stateroom (or really anywhere after embarkation day).  We never actually found out what it was that caused all the commotion.

 

We had late dinner (8:15).  We had tables just as requested -- two 6-tops next to each other.  The kids took one and the adults another.  Fortunately, they are all old enough to order for themselves, even if they seemed to order the same thing every night.  Chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, spaghetti.  But they behaved themselves and kept themselves entertained.

 

A word about dinners -- I was not at all impressed with the entree selections on any night.  Even on "elegant night" there was nothing that looked particularly interesting.  I always found something to eat, and everything tasted fine, but there was no escargot.  No beef wellington.  No surf-n-turf (without a $20 upcharge). No Baked Alaska.  No Grand Marnier souffle.  C'mon, Carnival, where are the "old" menus with all the good stuff?  However, if you like the melting chocolate cake, it is available every night.  Our waitstaff was pretty good, though they seemed a bit overworked.  It showed with slow drink service, and the appetizers came out randomly.  The only course in which everyone at the table got a dish at the same time was dessert.

 

The kids went to kid camp after dinner and the adults went to the comedy club (Queen Mary Lounge).  The comic was ok, but he just didn't have much to work with in the audience.  Not the funniest guy ever, or even on Carnival, but we all got a few chuckles.  Outside the Queen Mary is the Rotterdam bar.  We went there afterward.  My wife ordered an IPA for some reason, tasted it, didn't like it, and slid it down to one of our friends.  The bartender almost went berzerk: "Choo can NOT zair yoor dink pockage!"  You would have thought he was personally invested in how the Cheers! package worked.  My wife was aghast, so she snatched the beer back, the bartender got no tip, and we all walked to the nearby casino bar.  A word here: we've been purchasing the Cheers! package since it was introduced.  We know how it works.  We know about not sharing.  But buying a drink, not liking it, and giving it away?  Bit of a stretch there.  My drink was fine.

 

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1 hour ago, mdsgu said:

My wife ordered an IPA for some reason, tasted it, didn't like it, and slid it down to one of our friends.  The bartender almost went berzerk: "Choo can NOT zair yoor dink pockage!"  You would have thought he was personally invested in how the Cheers! package worked.  My wife was aghast, so she snatched the beer back, the bartender got no tip, and we all walked to the nearby casino bar.  A word here: we've been purchasing the Cheers! package since it was introduced.  We know how it works.  We know about not sharing.  But buying a drink, not liking it, and giving it away?  Bit of a stretch there.  My drink was fine.

 

How does the bartender know it wasn't a show? Not liking it and giving it to a friend is sharing. Have you considered the reality in which the bartender could be reprimanded for knowing about you sharing your drink package but not saying something?

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Sunday the 21st was a sea day.  Pretty serene.  We slept really late and had breakfast delivered.  Room service breakfast is basically free unless you order one of the sandwiches which are $3 each.  The description makes them sound like a McMuffin, but I would avoid them -- they're not that good.

 

We went up to Lido and hung out with the other 2 families.  Except the kids who were either on the slides or in the pool.  About noon we and FTTF family decided to go to the Sea Day Brunch.  Suite family chose to eat on Lido and do some exploring.  Paradise has the new SDB menu, and I cannot decide if I'm a fan.  They still have steak and eggs, and that's pretty good.  You can still get salmon and bagels.  Spaghetti and cheese sticks and mac-n-cheese seem like  odd choices. There appears to be more choices on the new menu, but I just don't know.

 

After lunch, we sent the kids to kids camp and went to try out Serenity.  Out of all the Carnival cruises we have been on, we've never been to Serenity.  On Paradise, it is all the way aft behind the Queen Mary Lounge.  We lucked up and some people were vacating some of the shaded loungers, so we and FTTF couple scooped them up.  It was rather warm, but not uncomfortable.  We had drinks and just lounged (serenely) for a couple of hours.  We will definitely be using the area in the future.

 

We had to leave a little before 5 because Camp Ocean was set to close at that time.  We retrieved the kids, we all took a shower and then had a nap before dinner.  The kids convinced us, instead of sending them to kids' camp, to let the three boys go to the suite to play video games and the girls would go to camp.  We agreed -- and we had no problems.  The boys all listened to the rules: no balcony, no room service, no internet, no running around the halls, and no going anywhere alone.  The girls, of course, were fine in kids' camp.

 

After we got the girls from camp, we all decided we'd grab some drinks and go to the Suite family's suite balcony for a nightcap.  I ran up to the Rotterdam bar (only because it was closest) and asked for a vodka and Sprite and a Grand Marnier.  Same bartender was there.  He told me I couldn't have 2 drinks.  (I know that.)  I asked him to give me one drink and charge me for the other.  He said you can't do that with Cheers, plus they were closing so I would have to pick wine or beer.  Ugh.  So I told him to give me a glass of Prosecco and a Corona.  "No.  Only one.  Which one you want?"  I actually wanted both, but he continued to refuse, so I left and went to a different bar.  I told that bartender what I wanted.  Well,he could allow me to get one drink on Cheers and "buy someone a drink" but only if that other person was there with their S&S card.  Clearly, they weren't.  So I literally had to get a vodka and Sprite, wait a full 5 minutes, and then get my Grand Marnier.  So I got what I originally set out for, but it took so long, we all decided to just go to bed since Grand Cayman was going to be an early morning!

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38 minutes ago, xDisconnections said:

How does the bartender know it wasn't a show? Not liking it and giving it to a friend is sharing. Have you considered the reality in which the bartender could be reprimanded for knowing about you sharing your drink package but not saying something?

 

There's a difference between sharing and alcohol abuse.  Sharing would be ordering a drink to give to someone else; alcohol abuse would be throwing away perfectly good alcohol.

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Just now, mdsgu said:

 

There's a difference between sharing and alcohol abuse.  Sharing would be ordering a drink to give to someone else; alcohol abuse would be throwing away perfectly good alcohol.

Carnival would rather you throw it away than to violate the established rules and policies of the program. Do you see how much food gets wasted every day? They don't care about the volume of waste -- unless it involves plastic straws.

 

Sharing is sharing is sharing. There is no way around it.

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50 minutes ago, xDisconnections said:

How does the bartender know it wasn't a show? Not liking it and giving it to a friend is sharing. Have you considered the reality in which the bartender could be reprimanded for knowing about you sharing your drink package but not saying something?

I know hind sight is 20/20 and I can see both sides of this. It might have been better to get it replaced. Explain that it should not count against the total because she didn't drink it. Hopefully they could have done something that way.

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2 hours ago, mdsgu said:

Outside the Queen Mary is the Rotterdam bar.  We went there afterward.  My wife ordered an IPA for some reason, tasted it, didn't like it, and slid it down to one of our friends.  The bartender almost went berzerk: "Choo can NOT zair yoor dink pockage!"  You would have thought he was personally invested in how the Cheers! package worked.  My wife was aghast, so she snatched the beer back, the bartender got no tip, and we all walked to the nearby casino bar.  A word here: we've been purchasing the Cheers! package since it was introduced.  We know how it works.  We know about not sharing.  But buying a drink, not liking it, and giving it away?  Bit of a stretch there.  My drink was fine.

 

Wow. First you get upset with a bartender for doing his job when your wife blatantly broke one of the Cheers rules right in front of him.  Then you make fun of his English. You must be a blast to hang out with...not. 

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57 minutes ago, mdsgu said:

The kids convinced us, instead of sending them to kids' camp, to let the three boys go to the suite to play video games and the girls would go to camp.  We agreed -- and we had no problems.  The boys all listened to the rules: no balcony, no room service, no internet, no running around the halls, and no going anywhere alone.  The girls, of course, were fine in kids' camp.

 

After we got the girls from camp, we all decided we'd grab some drinks and go to the Suite family's suite balcony for a nightcap.  I ran up to the Rotterdam bar (only because it was closest) and asked for a vodka and Sprite and a Grand Marnier.  Same bartender was there.  He told me I couldn't have 2 drinks.  (I know that.)  I asked him to give me one drink and charge me for the other.  He said you can't do that with Cheers, plus they were closing so I would have to pick wine or beer.  Ugh.  So I told him to give me a glass of Prosecco and a Corona.  "No.  Only one.  Which one you want?"  I actually wanted both, but he continued to refuse, so I left and went to a different bar.  I told that bartender what I wanted.  Well,he could allow me to get one drink on Cheers and "buy someone a drink" but only if that other person was there with their S&S card.  Clearly, they weren't.  So I literally had to get a vodka and Sprite, wait a full 5 minutes, and then get my Grand Marnier.  So I got what I originally set out for, but it took so long, we all decided to just go to bed since Grand Cayman was going to be an early morning!

 

I find it interesting you said “the boys all listened to the rules”, but apparently you and your wife don’t follow and don’t think the rules for the Cheers program apply to you. 

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11 hours ago, mdsgu said:

"Choo can NOT zair yoor dink pockage!"

Don't think this is going to go over as well as you thought it would there, Mr. Ambassador.

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Monday we were in Grand Cayman.  We've been several times, and, of course, you have to tender to shore.  Somehow, we made it on the very first tender and were on dry land by 7:30.  I had a missed call from our private excursion leader, so I called her back.  She was quite excited that we were early especially since the last tender back to the ship was at 1:15 GC time!  She and her son George picked up us just down the street from the port.

 

We chartered a small yacht for our time in port with Aqua Watersports.  Small, family run outfit.  They included an open bar (mostly rum) and fruit for us.  We set out for Stingray City before most of the cruise ship tours, so it wasn't crowded at all.  Plus, there were only 2 ships in port that day.  After we fed the stingrays, held the stingrays, and kissed the stingrays, we headed over the Starfish Point.  Great area to just lounge in the water, pick up starfish (but not out of the water), and make use the included jetski.  Aqua had us back to the port just in time to catch the final tender to the ship. 

 

Once on board, we all realized we hadn't eaten lunch.  No problem -- Guy's Burger Joint was open, as was the taco place.  I think I ate 3 burgers, and every one of them was delicious.  Then it was time to nap before dinner.

 

Dinner was ok.  Again, none of the entrees on any night really stood out as outstanding.  The taste of everything we had was good and as it should be, but there was no "wow."  Our waitstaff was excellent.  Despite appearing overworked, they never quit smiling.

 

After dinner, the boys wanted to go to one of the cabins to play their video games and the girls announced they wanted to do the same, but a different cabin.  It had worked well the night before, so we all allowed it.  We went back to the comedy club, and it was a bit better.  Naturally, this time, we steered clear of the Rotterdam Bar and its surly bartender.

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1 hour ago, Don Kehote said:

Don't think this is going to go over as well as you thought it would there, Mr. Ambassador.

 

Ah, well, everyone ends up getting flamed at sometime.

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Posted (edited)

I was on this cruise, deck 6 u119. The smoke was originating in a room across from 157. It was a heavy burning plastic or electronic smoke. We almost made it to our room but they wouldn't let us about 430. We asked again about 530 because I needed my meds, one before dinner and my inhalers. They wouldn't let us in till after dinner.  My husband and I along with others on that side got obc, totally not expected. Some customers on 5 below lost their ac and received obc.

Edited by sammee
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Posted (edited)

I thought the food was same old, not better, not worse. My only complaint was they wouldn't let me order the upcharge lobster on elegant night.  It did seem the ship was full, always got a good seat at the pools.

Edited by sammee
Ckarify

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Waiting patiently on the rest of the review :classic_smile:  
We're on the Paradise in November, so I'm curious about the upgrades. 

 

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Love reading your trip report!

looking forward to more!

thanks!

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On Tuesday, we were in Cozumel.  We docked at the "new" port, Puerta Maya.  Of course, you have to traipse through the long, slender welcome building (at least the A/C is cold) and then run the gamut of the touristy-type stores and restaurants before you ever get to the taxi stands.  I do prefer the older port downtown.  When you walk out, there is a wonderful open-air restaurant called Las Palmeras that I would readily recommend if you find yourself downtown. 

 

Getting off the boat in Cozumel was pretty painless.  We had to wait until we were cleared by authorities, and then Paradise disgorged her passengers, in seemed, en masse.  There was a RC ship already in port, but she must have gotten there way before us, because we saw no one coming from her direction (and she was gone by the time we returned later in the evening).

 

We had pre-booked Mr Sancho's because we had been there once before.  They have 2 rates -- we booked the all-inclusive side with the all-you-can-eat buffet, all-you-want-to-order menu, all-you-care-to-drink bar service, and a table on the beach.  We got the kids wrist bands for the aquatic park -- big inflatables in the water that they could climb on and jump off.  The water, of course, was nice.  Since there were only 2 ships in port, nothing was really crowded, including Mr Sancho's.  Julio was our waiter and he kept us stocked with drinks and food.  The ceviche was absolutely perfect -- I don't know how many orders we had, but it was several.  They stayed open until 5pm, and since we weren't due back on board until 7:30, we stayed the whole time.

 

On the way back, my wife felt obligated to make a contribution to Diamonds International.  We had made it past DI unscathed on the way to the taxis, but not on the way back.  We were the only people there, and it went relatively quickly and was not as painful as I expected.

 

We boarded the ship just before 7:30pm and did not have to wait on an elevator.  We didn't even stop anywhere between Deck 3 and Deck 6 (so many floors, I know).  We quickly showered and went to our 8:15pm dinner.  There was no wait and the dining room was not packed -- likely because it was a late port and there were plenty of watering holes in Cozumel.  I was hoping for some ceviche on the Port O' Call selections, but no, only tacos.

 

As everyone was pretty spent, including the kids, we called it a night pretty early around 11pm.

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18 hours ago, Gypsywych said:

Waiting patiently on the rest of the review :classic_smile:  
We're on the Paradise in November, so I'm curious about the upgrades. 

 

 

We had never been on the Paradise, but apparently Carnival added Guy's Burgers, Red Frog Rum Bar, and the Blue Iguana Bar.  I think the taco area opposite Guy's is the Blue Iguana Cantina.  The water slides are new.  I don't know if the rooms were all refreshed, but ours showed very little wear and tear -- although the bath seemed old.  It wasn't worn or dirty or anything, just old. 

 

Like all the Fantasy ships, the midship dining room (Elation) cuts the ship in half and you have to go above or below it to make your way to the other end of the ship.  Not a big problem, but somewhat annoying if you are used to newer, larger ships with thoroughfares on just about every deck.

 

There is an arcade, albeit quite small.

 

There are some gift shops, though they are small, too.  The one off the Atrium is called Port Side, but it is actually on the starboard side of the ship.  

 

Serenity (as mentioned above) is on Deck 9 aft of the Queen Mary Lounge.  Small, but quiet and very nice.

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37 minutes ago, mdsgu said:

Like all the Fantasy ships, the midship dining room (Elation) cuts the ship in half and you have to go above or below it to make your way to the other end of the ship.  Not a big problem, but somewhat annoying if you are used to newer, larger ships with thoroughfares on just about every deck.

 

This is an issue (thoroughfare blocked by the galley located between MDRs) on all Carnival ships in their current fleet with the exception of Spirit class ships. 

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2 hours ago, mdsgu said:

 

 

Like all the Fantasy ships, the midship dining room (Elation) cuts the ship in half and you have to go above or below it to make your way to the other end of the ship.  Not a big problem, but somewhat annoying if you are used to newer, larger ships with thoroughfares on just about every deck.

 

Which dining room is assigned dining? 

We've sailed several times on the Fascination, but this will be our first time on the Paradise as well.  Thank you for the information.  I appreciate it. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Gypsywych said:

Which dining room is assigned dining? 

We've sailed several times on the Fascination, but this will be our first time on the Paradise as well.  Thank you for the information.  I appreciate it. 

 

 

We have cruised on Paradise several times. When we had assigned seating (early) we were always in the aft MDR (Destiny). When we did YTD, it was always in the mid MDR (Elation). If there has been a recent change, the OP can correct this. 

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8 minutes ago, Gypsywych said:

Which dining room is assigned dining? 

We've sailed several times on the Fascination, but this will be our first time on the Paradise as well.  Thank you for the information.  I appreciate it. 

 

 

We had late dining and it was in Destiny.

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The final day, Wednesday, was a Fun Day at Sea.  Bittersweet, really.  I do like to have a sea day at the end of the cruise to decompress a bit.  You can sleep late (we did!), enjoy brunch -- again with the new menu that I can't decide whether I like, lounge about on deck, drink, enjoy the D/P Return Party, nap, pack (the sad part), Build-A-Bear, and dinner with friends.

 

Debarkation was so easy.  Again, you can't beat Tampa for embarkation and debarkation.  We had priority debarkation status, so we literally just walked off, breezed through Customs, and got an Uber to retrieve our car from the Hampton Inn.  Then it was time to hit the road back to Louisiana.  We got home about 10pm, quickly unpacked our bags (half of the laundry was already done and folded thanks to Platinum status), and went to bed.

 

Our friends had a great time!  They are already thinking about bigger (and possibly better) ships and when they can sail again.  Us?  We have a European cruise on another line booked for May 2020 and the Mardi Gras in November 2020.  We might squeeze in one more if we're lucky!

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So funny, we probably passed one another countless times on the ship and at Mr. Sanchos. We were on deck six, the smoked out side. We didn't use Serenity. I was shocked to see how easy it was to get a chair at the pool or to find a seat at the buffet for lunch. I got the feeling that the ship wasn't full. Like you said, getting off the ship was a breeze. We had FTTF, the only thing I found silly was, FTTF meeting on deck 9, only to see the little sign when we got there and than lug our stuff down to 7 to get off the ship. We drove down from NJ and stayed overnight at the southern part of GA, it was only a few hours to port the next morning. We stayed in Florida for 2 more nights when we got off. No cheers for us, I don't drink enough now a days. I did have a DOU card for the casino. Drinks took between 20 & 30 minutes, same went for my husband who did not have the card and was paying. But I hear that happens on all of the ships, my first time with it. 

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