Monday, September 5, 2022

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review - B2B - September 5 & 10, 2022


Carnival Paradise Cruise Review - B2B - September 5th & 10th, 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 Directors - 1st cruise: T-O double D on the M-I-C or Todd - 2nd cruise; Lei Lei
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 6th & 7th cruises on the Carnival Paradise, my 103rd & 104th Carnival cruises, and my 184th & 185th total cruises overall.
Day One -- Monday --  September 5th, 2022 -- Port of Tampa  — Embarkation 

This embarkation day started the same as just a few weeks ago with a family trip to the Florida Aquarium. The DW & I picked up the DD and granddaughter at about 9:10 am and made our way to the downtown Tampa waterfront and the Florida Aquarium. 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 and were better prepared to allow the GD to get wet in the nice waterpark area. Of course, we visited the displays and our favorite places as well. It was very busy with it being Labor Day…10 times the crowd of the previous Monday. We had a specialty cocktail, beer, and coke while GD spent an hour in the Splash Zone. It was 1:00 pm when we left so I knew by the time I got from the parking lot to the ship that passenger cabins would be open on the Paradise, which just makes everything easier on board for all guests. It went very smoothly with check-in and yes I was at my cabin by 1:30 pm. My cabin is E-55 and the best of the recent three. Better internet and is nice and cool inside considering that it is an Oceanview cabin. After unpacking I went to my Muster Station on deck 8 then to the 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. Back to the cabin to book a cruise for a client and I met Dudi my Cabin Steward for this cruise. He brought both ice and a robe as well as set up a cleaning schedule for the week. On the previous two cruises, I missed sailing under the Skyway Bridge, asleep on one and at dinner on the second. I made a point to see it up close on deck 11. Not the highest, but most forward. We were a little later than the last cruise so I had a nice view of the approach and of us sailing under…looking up it seems as if we are just slipping under, the guests above sure made some noise. I then went back to the Lido Marketplace for dinner. I had the Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Roast Beef, the Poblano Pepper Soup, and a Cranberry Roll. It was good. Just time for a nice sunset then I retired to the cabin. It was a long, busy, and great embarkation day.
 Day Two -- Tuesday --  September 6th, 2022 -- Day at Sea  
Smooth seas overnight, and I slept very well. I was up early, the WiFi is not as good as when we were in Tampa but better than my first cabin last week. I later went back to sleep and slept until 9:30…so some very much-needed rest, but I did do 6600 steps yesterday. I had some housekeeping time as I forgot to hang my shirts and got laundry ready for Rudi. There were enough Diamonds on board to justify a Diamond Luncheon and it was held at 11:00 am in the Destiny Restaurant. I sat at a ten-top table with very nice guests. The Entertainment Director introduced the Senior Staff (I wonder if Hugo is gone) and there were sufficient cocktail servers to make everyone happy. I had a Bloody Mary for a starter. The menu was the standard for Diamonds and I ordered both the Green Salad and the NY Strip Steak entree. For dessert a fancy fruit plate and another Elderflower martini. It was a fun luncheon. Afterward, I went to the casino to get my $25 Diamond benefit and watched for a while. I will return to play. The weather is very good and guests are enjoying it on the outer decks, but too hot for me…cabin time and more rest for me. I tried to book the Del Mar Latino for this week in Cozumel, but it was full so booked it for our visit on the 13th. I then took a nice long nap and woke just in time for Sundown. I went to the Lido Marketplace and had Roast Beef and Seafood, it was good. Again as a contrarian, it’s the time to be out and about while everyone else is having their Elegant evening. The feature show was  
Epic Rock in the theater, but I stayed on deck and enjoyed the weather and beautiful Sunset. Only one person in the pool, sweet.  A pleasant walkabout the ship before retiring.  Rudi freshened my cabin and left more ice...I like him.  It was a fun and restful sea day on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Three -- Wednesday -- September 7th, 2022 -- Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 

Smooth seas overnight and I again slept very well. I was up very early as I had rest yesterday. I went to the Elation MDR for the first time and saw the great crew who call me by name on sight now. I had my usual: Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Hash Browns, Milk, danish, Tomato juice, and a Grapefruit. A nice leisurely breakfast since I am staying on board the ship. I had cabin time but left it for Dudi to clean and set up an HQ on Lido deck port side with a nice view of the Liberty of the Seas, the Carnival Vista (both from Galveston, Texas), and the Seven-mile beach. Internet would have been my only reason to get off, but the WiFi seems to work much better while in port so it’s been good this morning. The old-timers have taken over the pool as it should be when in port, I thought I was back in Meadow Oaks with all my Senior friends. Glad they are getting quality deck time while they can on an empty ship. I enjoyed my Coca-colas at my table and had a productive day including booking a Transatlantic and Mediterranean cruise on the Celebrity Constellation for 2023. Guests began water-tendering back in the afternoon and we got a light shower that cooled off the outer decks…nice. I went to Guy’s for my first and new on the menu Funderstruck Burger…you can’t get any more Tex-Mex than one of these. Donkey Sauce, Meat Patty, Special Cheese, Nacho Seasoning, Fried Onion & Jalapenos, Charra Beans (touch), Pico de Gallo (touch). Amazing and sorry it took me so long to try it, I know I’m a creature of habit, but this is well worth it. As we did a 180° turn to leave Grand Cayman I lost my shade on deck so abandoned the HQ for the cabin. I went to the Casino primarily to load my card in order to determine if I’d ever get a casino offer and sat in at the Texas-Hold’em table. Very first hand and a big pot the new guy (me) draws a full house: AAAQQ. I’m sure that made the regular players unhappy as I soon split to go to the Comedy Show. The comedian was Valerie Storm and she did a show that was good as I have seen in a long while. I was told she was good and she is…packed room too. Stopped for a late cheesecake up on Lido and sat outdoors aft and watched the Carnival Vista following us towards Cozumel. Beautiful lights and evening. It was a very nice productive day for me on Carnival Paradise.

Day Four -- Thursday --  September 8th, 2022 -- Cozumel, Mexico
Smooth Caribbean seas sailing west and I slept fair, off and on. We have a late arrival into Cozumel so no rushing this morning. The local port officials didn’t allow debark until all three ships were docked so it was a madhouse once the Vista, Dream, and Paradise passengers hit the pier. When I saw that there were NO ships at the International pier I made a change of plans and went to the old El Cid Hotel for the day. It’s just beyond the International pier and is usually dominated by RCL guests and crew. Not so busy today so I got an all-inclusive day pass for $52 and spent the day. It was nice to have a new HQ in Cozumel for the day. I found a more secluded spot with a table, chairs, and electrical outlet just off of the smaller beach. (photo is view from table) Better access to water, a nice pool, and food is restaurant quality & quantity. I haven't been here in many years but enjoyed it. Some pluses: they furnish the towels, a nice toilet/changing area, waiters & servers, shade, water access in two different areas, choice of dining in the restaurant (must have a shirt & dry, etc.) or in my case a table, a huge swimming pool, and a closer walk to the cruise terminal. I got a lot of business and financial work done as well as hitting the nice Caribbean water in the Strait of Cozumel twice today. I arrived back at Puerto Maya pier at about 5:30 pm and saw Mike Pack on the pier, he is now a supervisor of the fleet cruise directors and just boarded the Paradise yesterday. Good to visit with him…I also saw Hugo our Hotel Director so he is alive and well. Cabin time to rest and clean up. At about 7:45 I went to the Elation Dining room for dinner and scored my favorite solo table #201. I ordered two retro 50th birthday dishes: French Onion soup, Supreme of Poulet Farcie (chicken breast stuffed with spinach & cheese), BBQ ribs, and a Fruit Plate. This is one of the best MDR dinner menus I have seen on a Carnival ship in many years. A quick swing by the Piano Bar and a walkabout before retiring It was a tiring yet very productive port day in Cozumel.

Day Five -- Friday --  September 9th, 2022 —Fun Day at Sea 
For the first time this cruise a little bit of rolling seas overnight and some lightning 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 Fruit Basket. Since it is overcast with drizzle I struggled through the crappy internet and had a cabin morning. I did a noon walkabout picking up my Diamond gifts and cashing out of the casino. Two cruises in a row cashing out with a little more than I had put on my card. I stopped at Guy’s for the new Funderstruck burger…that’s two on this cruise. Dudi had the cabin looking great when I returned, he has been an outstanding cabin steward. He goes above and beyond the minimal requirements and takes pride in his service. I’m glad that I will have him again next cruise as I’m only moving next door. I went to Tea Time in the Elation MDR, my first Tea since they recently restarted it. I enjoyed the Scones and Apple Tarts, but nothing else appealed to me. I don’t do chocolate or coffee flavors, but if you do, they had goodies for you. I have to try to remember to bring my own tea bags next time. 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. I was actually the high cruiser, but they called someone else and I was really fine with it, I enjoyed my cocktails. This was the first appearance of the Captain at a cruise event since the Covid protocols. Nice to see cruising getting back to normal. I stopped at the Lobby Bar and listened to some excellent Steel Drum music (photo above) and enjoyed some Pilsner Urquell's…. Tonight I had dinner in the Elation MDR…I ordered the Dill Lemon Comfort Soup, Cobb Salad, Jerk Pork Loin entree, and a fruit plate for dessert. It was very good.  After dinner, I went to the Piano Bar and Rolando is getting better with each cruise, he did say he was moving to a new ship soon. It was a lovely final day on the Carnival Paradise.
Day Six - Debarkation/Embarkation — Saturday --  September 10th, 2022 -- Port of Tampa 
Calm seas overnight and I slept well. I was awake when we docked in Tampa at 6:00 am. I went to breakfast in Elation and had Avocado Toast with Mellon and Danish. Then began packing as I have to change cabins today, but easy just going next door. They were debarking guests by 7:05 am and had the all off by 9:30 am. Pretty smooth. I met the B2B guests at 9:15 and at about 9:30 went through customs and returned to the ship. I returned to the cabin to unpack and set up for this week. With fast Tampa internet today I updated this blog and reviewed the progress on the kitchen remodel at home. About 11:00 am I did a walkabout the ship before many guests had boarded then had a Guys cheeseburger with chili and fries as an early lunch as I had plans for a noon kickoff for the Alabama vs. Texas football game. It was a very exciting game and well worth watching. It ended up being a one-point victory for Bama. I watched our 4:00ish sail away from the aft deck and took some photos of the Florida Aquarium (photo) that has become important to our family in our sailings from Tampa. I had an early dinner in the Elation MDR when it opened at 5:30 pm as my team has a 7:00 pm kickoff this evening. Dinner was very good, I ordered the Tomato Soup, Sweet & Sour Shrimp, the Pollo Parmigiana Della Cucina entree from the Cucina menu, and a Tiramisu for dessert. I had my usual waiters and good service at table #201 and I was out in time for kickoff. The WiFi was not near as good as when we were in Tampa but I was able to enjoy the game. My Oklahoma Sooners won. They delivered the B2B Fruit Bowl with specific items I had requested so I had late-night game snacks as well. It was a great turn-around and football day for an experienced cruiser on the Carnival Paradise.
Day Seven — Sunday --  September 11th, 2022 — Fun Day at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I did some early morning housekeeping arranging laundry service and a fruit bowl breakfast. I did a walkabout and collected my $25 Diamond casino credit and established a pin number for my casino account for later, then picked up my Diamond gifts from Pixels, I received a Carnival Elation pin that was the first Carnival ship I ever sailed back in 2004. There were enough Diamonds on board to justify a Diamond Luncheon and it was held at 11:00 am in the Destiny Restaurant. I had a nice table and the Entertainment Director introduced the Senior Staff...the big surprise was that the Captain was in attendance for the first time in 2 1/2 years. Nice. I had the same server as the previous cruise and there were sufficient cocktail servers to make everyone happy. The menu was the standard for Diamonds and I ordered both the Green Salad starter and the NY Strip Steak entree. The waiter actually brought me a Pork Belly appetizer with the entree as he knew I probably would like one…and I did. For dessert a fancy fruit plate and another Elderflower martini. It was a fun luncheon with new friends. I stopped at the Lobby Bar to finish my last martini and had water as I visited with new friends. Then I did the usual for the first sea day…nap time. I slept until 6:00ish so a good rest. I went up to the Lido Marketplace Deli and had two sandwiches: the Pepper Steak and a Reuben. They used regular sliced bread and hot dog bun…not very good compared to other ships. Potato Chips were good (they are Lays). I sat on the outer deck for sunset, a lot of cloud cover but a very pleasant evening. I then visited the casino and played some Texas Hold-em…not a good night for me, but I did get a free beer, a Pilsner Urquell of course. Short walkabout before retiring. It was a fun and restful sea day on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Eight — Monday -- September 12th, 2022 — Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan 
Smooth seas again and I slept well. I was up in the night and began booking WiFi and port Excursions for my three Europe cruises next month. I wanted to beat Carnival’s October price increases. Even though I have the Premium WiFi this cruise it’s not that great so when other guests are asleep, it’s a bit better. When I did get back to sleep I didn’t get around until mid-morning. Those bananas from the fruit basket come in handy and they delivered a refill fruit tray later in the day.  We didn’t dock until after 11:00 am so it was a slow morning for most guests. I went to Guy’s Burgers when it opened at noon and had a Funderstruck and a Chili burger…they seem to go together. Packed with Crew as they get to eat at these venues on port days. My option was to get off the ship after lunch and purchased the $5 Mahogany Bay Wifi from the kiosk on the pier, but with most guests off it was a little better on board than it was earlier. I did my Monday morning business and had a nice cabin day. When it cooled outside I spent a nice amount of time on Deck 11 enjoying watching the guests and the cooling breeze. It was nice sundown this evening too. I went for a late dinner in the Elation MDR, it was very busy after 8:30 and I was surprised. I ordered the Broccoli Soup, the Meatballs & Linguini, the Tenderloin Steak entree, and the Pineapple for dessert. It was all very good, I even had extra Sauce for the Pasta. I was going to attend the 9:45 Production Show, but I saw that it was set up with stools that indicate an abbreviated show without props or costumes so I passed. I did a walkabout around the ship and then retired. It was a productive and pleasant day on Carnival Paradise.
Day Nine -- Tuesday -- September 13th, 2022 -- Cozumel, Mexico 
Again smooth seas overnight and just enough waves for nice sleeping. I was up early to 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 Latino Resort. Walked there from the ship arriving about noonish ship time which gave me plenty of time for the all-inclusive spirits and food as they are on central time now on the island…six 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. I did get in the Caribbean Sea and it was very refreshing, not much of a beach, but the snorkeling is good. Over the course of the day, I had numerous Mojitos, Coconut Shrimp, Mojitos, Guacamole, Mojitos, grilled Pollo (chicken), 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 really used the internet most of the day as there was a lot for me to do on this big market drop day and keep up with a punch list for kitchen repairs back at home. Much faster internet than on the Paradise. I started back about 6:50 pm for our 7:30 back on board time. I had a nice visit with Senior Staff on the pier. Once I was cleaned up it was already late so I decided to order room service and they were very prompt. I can say that the new BLTs are no comparison to the classic room service ones in years past. It’s really a Turkey Sandwich with Turkey Bacon & slice Turkey meat. The extra French Fries ($2) were plentiful and good. I retired soon after eating, it was an active and busy day. Always a FUN port day in Cozumel.

Day Ten -- Wednesday --  September 14th, 2022 —Fun Day at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. Partly cloudy weather, but cleared during the day. This morning I went to the Elation MDR for the featured Sea Day Brunch. I had a Bloody Mary, Steak & Eggs+, Hash Browns, Hickory Bacon, Danish, French Toast, Tomato Juice, and Milk. It was very good and my favorite table was available. I had cabin time and spent some time on the outer decks as well. I even ventured up to Deck 15, the Sun Deck, with only four people in that huge space. I made it to the 3:30 PG Comedy Show with Valerie Storm, she did well. Some comedians don’t do well with a PG set. The Platinum & Diamond party (photo right) was at 5:00 pm and I decided to have some beer and not martinis this evening. Thanks to Amol for assuring me that I had Pilsner Urquell to enjoy. I happened to run into Executive Chef JJ on the Promenade deck and we discussed ranching, meat production, steaks, and more. He said he would fix a very nice Sirloin steak for me tonight so when I checked in at the Elation Dining room this evening they contacted him. I had my favorite table (#201) and a wonderful meal. I ordered the Cobb Salad, The Lemon Dill Soup, and the nice Sirloin Steak from the Steak House selections. The steak was tender and perfectly cooked. I was more than pleased. Best meal of my four recent cruises. Thank you Chef JJ. I also had very friendly guests at the next table. I offered them my two bottles of champagne that I will not be using, very convenient as their cabin is direct across from mine. After dinner I was able to watch the Steel Drum music in the Lobby Bar, the Bohemian Rhapsody set is unbelievably great. I enjoyed visiting with Deepak one of the bartenders there, he is very professional and as good as any Alchemist. I made it back to the Punchliner Comedy show with Jeff Harms, he was entertaining. Dudi has been doing turn-down service for me for ten days, I appreciate coming back late to a nice cabin. I had a message from a client and successfully booked him on an MSC cruise for October but, I had to go to the lobby to get the WiFi to work enough to do it…just bad internet on this ship in the majority of the cabins. It was a wonderful last sea day on the Carnival Breeze.
Debarkation — Thursday --  September 15th, 2022 -- Port of Tampa
Smooth seas overnight and I sleep well.  I was awake at 5:00 am as we were sailing into the upper bay and  I was packed by 6:00 am as we came along the pier.  I have a 7:00 am meet time for Diamonds but since I’m already on Deck 7 I’ll just wait until they come down, no need to carry my bag ups just to bring it back down.  I was off by 7:15 and met a Lyft driver at the Aquarium for my ride home.  I was home at 8:15 am well before all the passengers are off the Paradise.

My observations about the Carnival Paradise
Smaller ship is easier to maneuver
Crew and Staff are excellent
Food is better over-all in the Main Dining Rooms than other Carnival ships (with same menus)
Salad Bar is very good and good location away from larger buffet lines
Rarely a wait for elevators

No Alchemy Bar
Very poor Internet
Lack of secondary dining options (ie. Mongolian Grill, Seafood Shack, Steakhouse, etc.)

Sunshine Parkway Bridge Times
Out bound: 6:30 pm.  In bound: 3:50 am

No comments: