Monday, November 4, 2019

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review
Just The Facts
Ship:  Carnival Paradise
Sailing:  November4, 2019 - 5 day cruise
Captain: Claudio Bozzo  - Hotel Director: Timothy Oakley - Cruise Director: Adam
Ports: Tampa, FL - Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - Isla de Cozumel, Mexico - Tampa, FL

This is my 2nd time on the Carnival Paradise, my 74th Carnival cruise, and my 151st cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo.

Day One—Monday—November 4 — Embarkation
My cozy porthole cabin
I am in Florida visiting the DD (dear daughter) in Spring Hill, FL,  so taking the opportunity to do this cruise while the DW (dear wife) visits the DD and the new DGD (dear grand-daughter) for bonding time.  All three dropped me off about 11:10 am. The timing was very good.  There was just a short 2-3 minute wait at security then no wait at all at the VIFP check-in counter.  It was very smooth just as my previous embark at Tampa earlier this year…they know what they are doing at this port.  I proceeded direct to boarding and was in my cabin by 11:35 am…unbelievable.  I was feeling a bit peckish so I went up to deck 10 and the Lido buffet.  I had Roast Beef from the carving station and made a nice sandwich with the fresh bread from the bread station.  It was very good. I noted that Guy’s Burger was packed, embark day food has changed to more casual food.  Soft serve Ice Creme for dessert. I retired to my porthole cabin of solitude (very enjoyable after a house full of people, dogs, and baby the past few days) to relax a bit.  I did unpack and set up cabin since I rolled my duffle bag on with me and began this review while I have local internet. I went on a walk about and seems everyone was boarded by 2:30.  No line at Guy’s so a sample burger to hold me until dinner.  I went by GS (guest services) as it seems I was issued two portfolio numbers…discovered when I purchased my first Coca-cola.  Boat drill was about 3:00 pm and fortunately my station is just up one deck in the theater.  I had my card ‘dinged’ and we had about a 15 minute safety instruction but the Fun Squad was very entertaining.  So easy to walk back down to cabin during this busiest time of the cruise. I have a Porthole cabin on Empress Deck. This used to be the ‘Pink’ ship but has been completely redecorated and updated in the blue Caribbean motif that began with the Vista class ships.  The cabin is nice and roomy especially for a solo. I purchased an internet package ($60) as we started sailing away from Terminal 3 about 4:30 pm.  I went to the Lobby Bar and enjoyed the solo entertainer Alan Jenkins as well as a couple of Pilsner Urquell beers.  Very enjoyable.  I have 8:15 pm dinner in the Destiny MDR (main dining room) and assigned in an area with Travel Agents attending a seminar…perfect. Tonight I ordered: the Roasted Tomato Soup, two Shrimp Cocktails, the Heart of Lettuce salad with Tomato Vinaigrette and the Honey Glazed Pork Loin entree.  For dessert the Caramelized Phyllo with Carmel Creme and some Ice Creme.  All good.  After dinner I did a small walk about the ship then retired to the cabin for rest and relaxation.  It was a very easy and nice embarkation day on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Two—Monday—November 5th—Fun Day at Sea
Lobby Bar and Stage
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. My cabin steward Adi, from the Philippines, brought a fan so nice air circulation last night…that probably helped the good sleep.  I was up early and did some online business before breakfast.  I went to the Sea Day Brunch in the Elation Restaurant (MDR) about 8:50 am and not too busy…much easier to get a sharing table when everyone speaks the same language unlike the MSC Meraviglia last month.  I ordered a nice Fruit Plate, the Steak & Eggs to order, Orange Juice, Tomato Juice, and hot milk.  Everything was very good including service and guests.  I had an invitation to the Diamond Guest function at 11:00 am. in the Leonardo Lounge. There were at least 40+ guests in the room and that was very surprising to me, but I haven’t been sailing Carnival of late and not sure all were Diamonds.  I had good conversations with the Captain and especially Tim Oakley the Hotel Director.  The Bloody Mary’s were nice and I took a Diet Coke back to the cabin.  Interestingly my six diet cokes I ordered were delivered while I was away so they are now in the cabin mini-refrigerator and I’m good to go. Thanks Carnival for the Diamond gathering and 11:00 am is not as good as cocktail hour, but much better than those that start as early as 9:00 or 10:00 am. It’s a beautiful warm day today.  I had cabin time until 2:00 pm when I went up to Lido and had a Guy’s Burger for lunch always a nice option for a good meal.  Soft Serve ice creme for a sweet. The outdoor decks are now packed with the sun worshippers and swimming pools full of bodies.  I’m glad I only do that at home at the ranch.   I was having a nice wee cabin nap when the Strawberry Lady knocked on the door, a VIFP gift that I really don’t need, but thanks for the thought.  It’s Elegant night, but I don’t really do elegant myself.  Some guests do seem to enjoy dressing and getting photographs and it is a nice revenue stream for Carnival so good for all who do it.  I had cocktails at the Rotterdam Bar deck 9 aft just above the MDR.  My Jana cocktail or modified Cosmopolitan with Elderflower were very nice.  Dinner was good, I ordered:  Stuffed Mushrooms, Four Season Salad, the Slow Cooked Prime Rib with Baked Potato, and the Vanilla Crème Brûlée for dessert. I was another good meal.  Lots of entertainment options tonight including the Playlist Productions show: 80’s Pop to the Max in the Normandie Theater.  The Comedy Club, Lounges, and Casino all busy.  I retired somewhat early to the cabin.  It was a Fun Day at sea on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Three—Wednesday—November 6th—Grand Cayman Island
Ship almost to myself on a Port Day
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  I was up again early and was able to watch us arrive at Grand Cayman. We dropped anchor about 7:45 am right on schedule.  It’s again a beautiful day so guest should be very happy.  I went to the MDR for breakfast about 8:30 am and it was not busy, I had a window with nice view of the Carnival Vista anchored off our port side.  I ordered: melon & banana, Eggs Benedict with side of hash browns & bacon, orange and tomato juice, but I was told I could not get hot milk although I had it yesterday morning.I did a complete tour of the ship…Carnival has added a partial deck with new balcony cabins, a nice covered outdoor smoking lounge area, and of course changed the entire color scheme from prisoner pinks to Caribbean blues. I spent some time on deck this morning enjoying the weather then had a Caribbean themed lunch in the buffet were they had: Jerk Chicken, Pepper Pot, Plantains, Rice and Peas, and more.  I had sliced Pork butt from carving station and made a great Caribbean sandwich with extras, I also found some great Hearts of Palm.  I took some Germain Chocolate cake back to cabin for a later dessert.  There are two complementary movie channels on cabin television and I watched the 2:00 pm movie Pan (2015). I had never seen this movie and it was good.We had sailed away by the time my movie was over, one of the reasons I chose to stay on board today, I’m sure guests had fun at Stingray City, Seven Mile Beach, Margaritaville, or the Turtle tour, but I’ve done them all numerous times.  I enjoyed the ship to myself. I went to see the production show but it was cancelled so I had time for a cocktail in the Rotterdam Bar before dinner.  Not many in the MDR tonight so service was quick.  I ordered a premium steak ($20) from the optional menu so ordered accordingly to allow time for steak.  I had the Steak Ale and Cheddar Soup (mushrooms and onions), Mixed Greens Salad, double Shrimp Cocktail as starters.  Then the NY Strip Steak, it was cooked perfectly but was not a choice cut of beef, too much gristle, at least 25% gristle.  I know beef, I’m around it on a daily basis when at home on the ranch. Very disappointed that they would even serve that to a guest. I had enough to eat with the two baked potatoes I requested, but shame that my premium dinner is worst meal of the cruise.  Service was very good and I had Pot De Creme for dessert.  I was tired this evening and retired strait away.  It was an interesting and restful day on board the Carnival Paradise.

Day Four—Thursday—November 7th—Cozumel, Mexico
The Paradise along side of the Conquest and Vista in Cozumel
A bit more movement in the seas overnight, but I slept very well.  We have a late arrival in Cozumel this morning so I slept in as well.  We were docked by 10:00 am and shortly afterward I went up to Lido deck and breakfast at Blue Iguana.  I had two Huevos Rancheros with fresh fried eggs, good salsa, and cheese.  Very good one of my favorite Carnival breakfasts.  We have a long day here so I waited until abut 11:30 to leave the ship. We are docked with the Carnival Conquest and the Carnival Vista at Puerto Maya pier, but it wasn’t too difficult to get off and get through the tourist area.  Taxi line wasn’t too bad either so I was soon off for San Miguel ($8).  My favorite table was available at  Woody’s Bar & Grill so I set up a little HQ and I was soon online and watching some videos I couldn’t access on the ships basic Wifi plan.  I was also was able to update some software.  I really appreciate the fast WiFi at Woody’s.  Good food, clean bathrooms, great owners, Bohemia beer, and close to barber shop, pharmacy, and spa, just perfect for me.  I had Chimichangas today…they were very good.  I passed on the barber today, but needed my pedicure at Zensi Spa.  It was nice and the old feet felt ten+ years younger.  Although we are docked late I ended up going back to the ship about 5:00 pm.  It was hot and humid, my leather watch band was even wet so I took my time returning and was back on board and in the cabin shower and cool by 6:00 pm.  Nice.  The Conquest began leaving at that time so good opportunity to moon them from the porthole as they pulled away opposite of us.  Bye Conquest one of my favorite ships and they have one of the prettiest interiors of any Carnival ship IMHO.  I went to the Rotterdam Bar for an aperitif then dinner at 8:15 in the Destiny MDR, tonight I ordered:  the Baked Meatballs, Greek Salad, Baked Ziti (as starter), and the Rosemary Lamb Shank entree.  For dessert the Apple Pie and a Banana Split.  The Captain made an announcement since we were now an hour past sail away and they were have a small issue but we were sailing just after 10:00 pm so only two hours late, hopefully not an issue for return as I have a limited window on Saturday morning with my ride.  It was a fun day in Cozumel Mexico.

Day Five—Friday—November 8th—Fun Day at Sea
Senior Staff at VIFP party.  Youngest & Newest Captain in fleet
Fair seas overnight and I slept very well.  I was up about 7:30 am and updated the blog and more. In the business world all three major market indexes set all time highs yesterday. Also quoted a nice cruise. It’s good to be able to do business from sea.  I went to the Elation MDR for Sea Day Brunch…I had a nice table with nice guests and a good breakfast: a Fruit Plate, Huevos Rancheros, Bacon & Hash Browns, and a Bloody Mary.  Very good breakfast as all have been on this cruise.  Back in the cabin I then watched a great movie:  The Green Book.  I had never heard of it but enjoyed it very much so upon some research found it had just (2018) won three Academy Awards including the Best Movie…well deserved.  I had a Guy’s Burger about 2:00 pm for lunch, perhaps the best of the three I had this cruise as it had a nice crust on the meat...the secret to a proper Guy’s Burger.  At 5:00 pm I attended the Diamond/Platinum party in the Queen Mary Lounge.  It was the usual movie and introductions, but they had numerous servers so it went very well for guests as far as liquor and h'ourderves.  I did the usual Tito’s lemonade and was one of the few taking advantage of it. Nice buzz, thank you Carnival. I was about 80 days behind the senior guest, of course I know I have the most cruises overall, I don’t limit myself to Carnival.  Music during event by Alan Jenkins and I had a nice visit with him afterward.  I had a cocktail at the Lobby Bar and enjoyed a set by Alan...he's a good entertainer.  The production show tonight was Epic Rock, but having seen it numerous times passed for other live entertainment.  Dinner was very good and I ordered a lot:  Red Beet Carpaccio (2), Cannelloni, Tuscan Minestrone Soup, Heart of Iceberg Lettuce and a double portion of the Grilled Beef Tenderloin entree served with horseradish and Béarnaise sauce.  The lettuce was off, but everything else was excellent.  More than made up for the bad premium steak ordered previously.The waiters did their ‘Farewell’ song and it was a good final meal with good service.  I already had a big evening so I retired  strait to the cabin, I was surprised at how many bags were already left in the passageways.  I’m going for sleep tonight and I’ll pack tomorrow morning.  It was a Fun and easy final day on the Carnival Paradise.

Debarkation—Saturday—November 9th—Tampa Florida
Smooth seas overnight and we were docked on time despite leaving Cozumel late.  I went to the MDR for a very nice breakfast about 7:00 am then returned to the cabin to pack my bag.  DW & DD are picking me up about 10:00 at the Aquarium so I just chilled as long as possible.  Debark is very smooth on this ship, most use self-debark, many wait for luggage number process.  Very easy debark and pick up in Tampa and especially this smaller ship.

The Carnival Paradise is the final of the Fantasy class ships and originally the only non-smoking ship for 6+ years until it was repositioned to Long Beach CA. in late 2004.  The photo above on Coz day clearly shows the new decks and new balconies added during recent refit.
In Service:  6 Dec1998-present         Major Refit:  2018
Tonnage:    70,367                             Speed:  21 knots  (25mph)
Length:      855’                                 Beam:    103’4”
Capacity:   2124 (max)                      Crew:        920

I have cabin E-9 a Port Hole cabin forward on deck seven on starboard side.   Same deck as lobby entry and Lobby Bar.  The room is a standard size interior with: key pad safe, hair dryer, makeup mirror, Stool at vanity/desk, nice shower, large bath area, mini refrigerator, and great TV and location above bed. Very well designed at refit.  The air conditioning was only average, but Ari brought me cabin fan for circulation.  Very pleased with location.

Highlights of the Cruise
The goal of this cruise was just relax and to do nothing...successful
Cozumel Day was good and productive.
Embarkation was as easy as I have ever experienced.
Food was very good overall.
Great crew