Monday, August 22, 2022

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review - B2B - August 22 & 27, 2022


Carnival Paradise Cruise Review - B2B - August 22 & 27, 2022
Just the Facts:
Ship:  Carnival Paradise,  last of Fantasy Class ships launched Nov. 1998 @ 70,000 tons.
Sailing:  August 22 & Aug 27, 2022 - two 5 day cruises - Sailing out of Port of Tampa, Florida
Captain: Massimiliano Roja  -  Hotel Director: Hugo Hidalgo -  Cruise Director: T-O double D on the M-I-C or Todd
Ports: Tampa, FL - Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - Isla de Cozumel, Mexico (2) - Mahogany Bay, Honduras - Tampa, FL
I am sailing as a solo guest. This is my 4th & 5th cruises on the Carnival Paradise, my 101st & 102nd Carnival cruises, and my 182nd total cruise overall.

Day One -- Monday --  August 22nd, 2022 -- Port of Tampa  — Embarkation
This is a very easy embarkation day sailing from my new home port of Tampa. The DW & I picked up the DD and granddaughter about 8:30 am and made our way to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. We are new Aquarium Members and it just so happens that the Aquarium member parking is closer to the cruise terminal than any cruise parking. We had a great morning at the Aquarium…it’s a great facility and the GD was thrilled with the exhibits and display tanks…I liked them too. About 12:30 pm I headed back to the parking lot and retrieved my travel bag and walked across the street to the Carnival Paradise. The early crowds have boarded, so I breezed my way through security and check-in and was in my cabin before 1:00 pm. I had already walked a lot before boarding so the first priority was some rest. About 2:00 I went on a walkabout going by my ‘Muster Station’ then to Lido deck for a light lunch. The Paradise does have an excellent Salad Bar station, actually better than most newer Carnival Ships, so a nice salad was perfect. I met Mohammed, my cabin Stewart, and he fixed me up with ice and a robe. I unpacked, did my cabin set up, then took a nice long nap. I woke at about 8:00 pm and quickly made reservations at the Elation Restaurant. I went to the lobby bar and enjoyed a Cosmopolitan, my second of the day as my friend Amol, a Beverage Manager, bought me one. I’m listed as a 100 Milestone on this cruise, thanks Amol, I’ll take it. I was soon called to dinner and had a nice 2-top (#201) table and as the timing was good, a dance show by the Waiters. I ordered the Roasted Tomato Soup, a Shrimp Cocktail, and the Strip-loin steak entree. A small fruit plate for dessert and all was good including service. I’m glad I went to dinner in the MDR. I returned to the cabin to do my usual Monday business, but the internet has been very bad today. Hopefully, it will get better. It was a busy day with easy embarkation.
Day Two -- Tuesday --  August 23rd, 2022 -- Day at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight, and I slept very well in my interior cabin. I was up early but still had poor WiFi so no online business or Blog updates. I went back to sleep and slept until 9:00…so some very much-needed rest, but I did do 7000 steps yesterday. I went to Blue Iguana for breakfast, very disappointing. Paradise is unique in that Guy’s, the Omelette Station, and Blue Iguana is actually one continuous space on the outdoor Lido deck so Blue Iguana is just different. The Arepas were the worst I have ever had anywhere at any time, but I was there later in the morning than normal. The better option is to get a fresh omelet next to it and then get the Salsas from Blue Iguana. I should have known that from my last review too. I went to the Diamond Gathering at 10:00 am in the Leonardo Lounge. It was hosted by my friend Hugo who I first met on the Carnival Breeze many moons ago, Congratulations to him on his promotion to Hotel Director. I had my fair share of Bloody Mary's at the bar, they were excellent. The Coconut Shrimp was wonderful too. The Staff Officers were very congenial to the guests and the Bar Servers were very accommodating as well. Also, live music and a perfect size room for the number of Diamonds. An excellent gathering. I took my laptop to the old location of the Business area near Guest Services and was able to get a WiFi connection, very slow, but the best I can get at this time. Updated some business accounts and travel work, but Blog will have to wait. The weather is very good and guests are enjoying it on the outer decks, but too hot for me…cabin time and more for some rest for me. This evening I went back to the lobby to get internet and I listened to the entire set of the Steel Drum player. He was excellent, especially his rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Tonight is elegant night, but I did the contrarian thing and had dinner on the outer deck aft. I had a very nice salad. It was a beautiful evening and a good time to be out and about as most guests are at dinner. The feature show was the 80’s Pop to the Max in the theater, but I stayed on deck and enjoyed the weather and beautiful Sunset. A pleasant walkabout the ship before retiring. It was a fun and restful sea day on the Carnival Paradise.
Day Three -- Wednesday -- August 24th, 2022 -- Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 
Smooth seas overnight and I again slept very well. I was up very early as I have an excursion booked, a rarity for me at this port as I have visited so many times. I went to the Lido for a light breakfast at about 7:45 am then to the Queen Mary Lounge to await the Water Shuttle (the new name for a tender) to go ashore. The weather is very overcast which I prefer to hot sun. We are anchored with two Texas ships: the Carnival Vista and Royal’s Liberty of the Seas. The usual confusion finding one specific tour, especially at the older & small old dock in downtown Georgetown. My excursion was at the Cayman Turtle Center.  They had an interesting area to snorkel with the turtles. They furnish the gear needed and there was a beach area as well. It was fun and a different experience. I then toured the park and had time for some local beer at the Restaurant. We were bused back to the pier and on one of the last shuttles back to the ship. I had a nice nap upon return, easier in an interior cabin. Tonight is my favorite menu in the Dining Room so I went to the Elation MDR early for me about 6:30 pm. (Table #201) I ordered both the Minestrone Soup and the Poblano Pepper Soup, the Linguine with the Meatballs as a starter, the Beef Tenderloin entree, and the roasted Pineapple dessert. It was very good as was the service. As we are sailing due west we were sailing into the Sunset, a little different. I watched fro forward deck above the Bridge and also discovered the WiFi was good at that location, unfortunately, there is no place to sit. I then did a walkabout stopping at the Photo Gallery for the Diamond gifts and at the Casino for the Diamond Free-play, but they just gave me $25 cash…sweet. Listened to music on the U.S. Stage on Promenade before retiring. It was an interesting and busy day in Grand Cayman and on the Paradise.

Day Four -- Thursday --  August 25th, 2022 -- Cozumel,  Mexico 
Smooth Caribbean seas sailing west and I slept very well. We have a late arrival into Cozumel so no rushing this morning…I went to the Elation Dining Room for a breakfast and I sat at my favorite solo table (#201). I ordered Hot Milk, Danish, Tomato Juice, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, and Potatoes. It was excellent. We were docked with the carnival Vista and Carnival Dream, both from Galveston, TX so a LOT of guests on the pier arrived about the same time. Same long line at Taxi stands so I went to my secret taxi stand outside and was lucky to get a taxi and he dropped me right at Antonio’s Barber Shop. My hair is long as you can see from the previous photo so we went a different style haircut: long on top and short on the sides…we’ll see how people react. It still looks like a Jimmy McGill haircut. So off to Woody’s Bar & Grill, the best bar on the island, with the fastest and much-needed WiFi. Good drinks, good food, fast internet, LIVE entertainment, great staff, and owners...Woody's is the best for a meal or drink while visiting the island. I got a lot of business and financial work done including booking a couple of Tahiti cruises for good friends and clients. I also had time for my Pedicure at Sensi Spa since we have a late sail away. And since my work was done time for some Bohemia Clara's before leaving Woody's. I arrived back at Puerto Maya pier at about 6:30 pm, that’s the latest back on board I’ve done in Cozumel in years (see photo above). It will even be later next cruise and reminds me of the days when we actually stayed until midnight at the Puerto Langosta pier in the 80s. I’m glad I went to the MDR for a late dinner, I was actually pleasantly shocked that it was so fabulously good. I ordered two retro 50th birthday dishes: French Onion soup, Supreme of Poulet Farcie (chicken breast stuffed with spinach & cheese), Broiled Strip-loin Steak, and a Fruit Plate. This was the best MDR dinner I have had on a Carnival ship in many years. It was a very productive port day in Cozumel.

Day Five -- Friday --  August 26th, 2022 —Fun Day at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well and late. I went to the Sea day Brunch in the Elation dining room. I was impressed with the service, I was brought hot milk without asking soon after I sat. I ordered the Steak & Eggs, Bacon, Hash Browns, and a Bloody Mary. I am very pleased by this dining room's service and food. The weather is great today and guests are enjoying the outer decks. I did a walkabout to enjoy the fresh sea air and finished visiting all decks and areas of the ship and spent time on the Serenity Deck located forward. I watched a movie this afternoon on TCM one of the few good TV channels available on Carnival ships. They do have nice large TV sets mounted in the corner of the wasn't long ago that they had very small ones here on Paradise in the interior cabins. I went to a trivia contest about TV theme songs...missed a few. I had my first Guy’s burger which will also be my dinner this evening. It was cooked perfectly crisp, but the meat was cold, I don’t do cheese so when it was brought from the grill I assumed it was freshly done, but it wasn’ was cold. Very disappointing. I should just stick with a cheeseburger from the rotation or actually test the meat before walking away. I attended the Platinum/Diamond Gathering in the Queen Mary was well attended. Hugo runs a good show and almost all the Senior Staff attended. I sat at the Bar and had two nice Elderflower Martinis, then took some diet Pepsis back to the cabin for a Gone With The Wind evening on TCM. The GWTW 1+ hour Special Documentary prior to the movie was very interesting and of course the best movie of all time. Made for long viewing. It was a relaxing sea day for a veteran cruiser such as myself on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Six - Debarkation/Embarkation — Saturday --  August 27th, 2022 -- Port of Tampa 
Calm seas overnight and I slept well. We were docked in Tampa by the time I awoke at 6:15 am. I went to breakfast in Elation and had Avocado Toast with Eggs, Bacon, and Hash Browns. Then began packing as I have to change cabins today. They were debarking guests by 7:30 am and had the all off by 9:45 am. Pretty smooth. I met the B2B guests at 9:15 and at about 10:00 went through customs and returned to the ship. Thanks to my new cabin steward Gede for helping with my move. With fast Tampa internet today I update this blog and review progress on the kitchen remodel. All is well...ready to begin the second cruise. I met friends just boarding today and had a tasty salad in the Lido Marketplace, it was nice visiting with them. I then had some cabin time to finalize some exotic cruise bookings while I have good WiFi, just hoping that this service continues in my new ocean view cabin location once we sail away. I did a walkabout and actually watched some of the sail away party on Lido deck. I have an early set time for dining on this cruise in the Destiny Dining room at 6:00 pm. A good change for me. I met my friends at window table 311 and we had a good serving team. Tonight I ordered Roasted Poblano and Corn Soup, Sweet & Sour Shrimp, the Pollo Parmigiana Della Cucina entree from the Cucina menu, and a Fruit Plate for dessert. It was a very good and enjoyable meal and was served and finished within 75 minutes. We passed under the Skyway Bridge during dinner at approximately 6:30 pm. After dinner, I attended the first comedy show featuring Kim Harrison. I enjoyed it and met her after the show, although this was my first time to actually see her we knew each other by reputation…good or bad :-). Another walkabout including looking for plums or cookies from the Lido, but ended up later ordering some cookies from Room Service for an evening snack. It was a great turn-around day on the Carnival Paradise.
Day Seven — Sunday --  August 28th, 2022 — Fun Day at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well and late. I did some early morning housekeeping arranging laundry service and ordering a proper fruit bowl. There were enough Diamonds on board to justify a Diamond Luncheon and it was held at 11:00 am in the Destiny Restaurant. I met my cruise friends and we sat with new friends at a roundtop table at the entry next to the entertainer. Hotel Director Hugo introduced the Senior Staff and there were sufficient cocktail servers to make everyone happy. The menu was the standard for Diamonds and I ordered both the Green Salad and Pork Belly appetizers and the NY Strip Steak entree. For dessert a fancy fruit plate and another Elderflower martini. It was a fun luncheon with new and old friends. As usual, following this event, it was nap time for me. I slept very well to 6:00 pm dinner time. I don’t do a lot of Elegant night dinners but having set time dining it is easier to do. Tonight I ordered a Creme of Mushroom Soup, Spaghetti Carbonara as a starter, and the Filet Mignon from the Steakhouse menu with a fruit plate for dessert. The soup and steak were excellent, We attended the first showing of the 80s Pop to the Max show in the Theater. It was a good show although not one of my favorites. Then we attended Kim Harrison’s adult comedy show…very entertaining and had lots of belly laughs. We decided to check out this new Piano Bar player Reynaldo and he turned out to be the best surprise entertainment of the evening. Great talent and personable and learning the Piano Bar system. We were later joined by our new friends from lunch and amazingly we all had seats at the Piano. It was different and Fun. A late night for me retiring after 11:00 pm. It was a fun and entertaining sea day on the Carnival Paradise.
Day Eight — Monday -- August 29th, 2022 — Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan
Smooth seas again and I slept well. I was up early and updated this blog. The WiFi in my new cabin is much better than on the last cruise. Not that fast but adequate. I had breakfast in the Elation MDR…Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Hash Browns, & Melon. We are docked in Mahogany Bay today but I’m planning on staying onboard as I have a lot of business to transact today and did so all morning. I took a walkabout at about 11:30 to allow Gede and the team to clean my cabin. I saw both old & new friends out on Serenity Deck…seems experienced cruisers tend to stay onboard in many ports. I had a Guy’s burger and asked them to grill the meat fresh for me and they did…much better than last week's burger. It’s a hot and humid day today so I was happy to get back to the cabin to return to work after being on deck a while. My ocean view cabin runs about 5° warmer than my interior cabin last cruise, but I do have a fan that helps maintain temperatures of about 71° - 72°. I finished up my work at about 4:30 pm. and then began thinking about my special dinner tonight. I booked the Chef’s Table as I had seen it being held in the Library on the previous cruise. It looked interesting and I like the venue, the Library is decorated in a unique nautical theme so I signed up on the first night of the cruise with our Maitre’D in the Destiny MDR. Our group of 16 met at 6:00 pm in the Lobby area and then went up to the Library. We had assigned seating and they did a group photo to begin. It was a three+ hour experience that include the Executive Chef, the Magician, and a select service team. I’ll post the complete menu at the end of this review but the major courses were: Chef’s Taste - Duck - Our Surf & Turf - Sea Bass - Lamb - Prime NY Strip - Patisserie - Mignardises. It was an enjoyable experience, it’s been years since I did my last Chef’s table, and since the Paradise has no premium restaurants, by far the best meal on this ship. Afterward just a short walk across to the Piano Bar for some time with Reynaldo and friends. It’s interesting as Reynaldo is new to the Piano Bar format so he is learning as he goes and seems surprised by some of the popular sing-along songs and piano bar tunes with the non-published crowd responses. He did Family Tradition for the first time and once he got the crowd responses, (not in his music sheet) it clicked with him and he loved it. It was more fun watching him learn than the tunes themselves. He would do a classical show tune in which he was trained and was wonderful. I soon retired my old bones…it was a unique day on the Carnival Paradise.
Day Nine -- Tuesday -- August 30th, 2022 -- Cozumel, Mexico 
Again smooth seas overnight and just enough waves for nice sleeping. I was up early to balance an account from yesterday's work and update this blog as the internet is a bit faster in the wee hours. I went back to sleep and then was up for our late arrival at Puerto Maya. I went to my 2nd favorite place in Cozumel: Del Mar Resort with friends and others from the ship. Walked there from the ship arriving at about noon ship time which gave us plenty of time for the all-inclusive spirits and food as they are on central time now on the island…five hours. I started with a quick dip in the pool to cool off from the walk and ordered a diet Coke, Pico de Gallo, Chips, and Guacamole to start. Luckily it was an overcast day so not as hot as it could have been. Met new friends from other ships as well as our own and everyone was in a happy mood, Over the course of the day, I had numerous Mojitos, Coconut Shrimp, Mojitos, Guacamole, Mojitos, grilled Pollo with Salad & Potatoes (see photo), Mojitos, Ice Creme, and more. I more than closed them down as I stayed beyond service hours just to use the fast internet service. I walked back to the ship arriving closer to 7:00 pm so two late departure times in a row for Cozumel. I like it. Kudos to my cabin steward Gede who refilled the ice bucket again knowing of my later arrival back on board. That's excellent extra personal service. After a brief rest and cleaning the sand off I went to the Elation MDR for dinner, good to see my servers from the previous cruise and they even gave me my old table #201. The location, service, and food were very good. I ordered the Wild Rice & Chicken Soup, BBQ Pork Spareribs, Poulet Farcie (stuffed chicken breast), and a Fruit Plate for dessert. Just a very short walk-about on the ship then retiring by 9:30 after a busy day. It was a FUN port day in Cozumel.
Day Ten -- Wednesday --  August 31st, 2022 —Fun Day at Sea 
For the first time a little bit of rolling seas overnight as we transitioned from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico. I was up early again to get a little better internet while updating this blog. I had fruit for breakfast from my B2B complementary Fruit Basket from the Hotel Director. It’s very nice that they have a refill card so you can get fresh and specific fruit items. I struggled through the crappy internet even going forward to the Bridge to get better reception. Nope. The fortunate thing about that walk is that I saw a Dolphin swim from under the ship…it was cool in the beautiful blue seawater. Best Dolphin sighting I have seen in these waters. I was at Guy’s Burgers soon after they opened at noon. The burgers were nice and hot, but I forgot to get the new Funderstruck burger…I will next voyage. Busy this afternoon, but did another walk about and cashed out my casino card…yes, I played a few slots this cruise. I was testing what it takes to get a casino fare offer. I came out ahead by $17 + my $25 cash Diamond free-play…so now I’ll wait a while to see if any casino offers come about. The interline offers to Travel Agents are pretty much over now. The Diamond and Platinum party was held at 5:00 pm in the Queen Mary Lounge. A full room with live music and numerous bar servers so everyone was content with their cocktails, including me. Dinner at 6:00 pm in the Destiny MDR just below the lounge so very convent. Tonight I ordered the Dill Lemon Comfort Soup, two Étouffée of Langoustine, Cobb Salad, Jerk Pork Loin entree, and the Bobaloo Cake for dessert. The Langoustine, entree, and dessert were the 50th birthday selections from old Carnival menus. The soup was the best item IMHO. Next was the second feature production: 80s Pop to the Max. A good show, better than the previous one. Some casual time until the Piano Bar (photo) opened at 9:00 pm. Reynaldo is so personable and he attempted all the songs he promised to learn by the last evening. The crowd was the regulars from the previous evenings and seemed to love Reynaldos efforts. His talent and voice are excellent and he will soon master this venue. He did learn the David Alan Coe classic Perfect Country Song to the delight of the room. It was a lovely final day on the Carnival Paradise.

 Debarkation — Thursday --  September 1st, 2022 -- Port of Tampa
Smooth sailing on our final night, but didn't sleep that well ... Up very early, in fact, saw us pass under the Sunshine Parkway Bridge @ 3:50 am. But I did finalize this review and pack. I had a nice final day breakfast in the Elation at table #201. Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Hash Browns, and Danish. I rolled off the ship at about 7:10 am with the Diamond Group, went through customs, then and walked over to the Aquarium to be picked up around 8:15 am. An easy port.

Personal HIGHLIGHTS of the Cruises
Snorkeling with the Turtles in Grand Cayman
The Piano Bar
The Diamond Gathering & Luncheon
Two Cozumel Port Days
Sunshine Parkway Bridge Times
Out bound: 6:30 pm.  In bound: 3:50 am