Saturday, February 25, 2023

Carnival Paradise - February 25, 2023


Carnival Paradise Cruise Review

Just the Facts
Ship:  Carnival Paradise,  last of Fantasy Class ships launched Nov. 1998 @ 70,000 tons.
Captain: Giuseppe Castrogiovanni  -  Cruise Director: T-O double D on the M-I-C or Todd
Ports: Tampa, FL - Mahogany Bay, Honduras - Isla de Cozumel, Mexico -- Tampa, FL

This is a quick five-day cruise and I am sailing as a solo guest. This is my 8th cruise on the Carnival Paradise, my 110th Carnival cruise, and my 197th total cruise overall.

Day One -- Saturday --  February 25th, 2023 -- Port of Tampa  — Embarkation 

I was up early and finished packing by 9:00 am and since I have an early check-in time I left for the short drive to Tampa. I was parked by 10:00 am. and walked to the terminal where they were already checking in guests. I passed through Security, then the Check-in station. FYI (Carnival President) Christine’s letter last week about guest conduct was obvious with a drug dog checking all bags entering the terminal. It is very well organized with separate setting areas for Diamonds, Platinum, and Suite guests. They started Boarding at 11:00 am and Diamond was first on the ship. I rolled on my bag as usual and dropped it at my Cabin on deck 6 before going up to Lido deck before the buffet gets busy. I had a nice Salad and a Sandwich from the Deli area then checked into my Muster Station. Passenger Cabins open at 1:30 pm, but I checked on mine, U-131, and it was finished early so I met my Cabin Steward and unpacked a bit earlier. It’s large for an interior cabin with ample storage and I have an updated larger Television than last on Paradise. The cabin feels quite comfortable compared to the smaller solo Studio I had on my previous cruise this month. I relaxed and watched West Side Story on TCM my favorite channel on Carnival ships. The internet seems to work well from my cabin location too. We sailed away a little late after 5:00 pm and one forgets how big Tampa Bay actually is … it was hours before we sailed under the bridge. I had a Guy’s Burger before they closed at 6:00 pm and watched a nice sunset over Tampa Bay. I did a walk about the ship, not a lot of action this evening, primarily the Welcome Aboard Show at 9:30 in the theater. I found the Beverage Manager Amol and two of my favorite bartenders today, that is a good thing. I retired early, I was supplied with ice so I enjoyed a beverage and updated this blog as well as booked a cruise for a client…always work to do. It was a long, busy, and easy embarkation day.

Day Two -- Sunday --  February 26th, 2023 -- Day at Sea.  

Smooth seas overnight, and I slept very well. At about 8:30 am, I went to the Elation Dining room (MDR) for the Sea day Brunch. It was very good, I had Steak & Eggs, Bacon, Fruit Bowl, Tomato Juice, and Hot Milk. It was very good, I still believe that Paradise has better food than the other Carnival ships. I’m guessing because quality control is better in a smaller kitchen and a good Executive Chef. I had a two-top table but enjoyed conversations with adjoining guests. The VIFP exclusive Diamond  Event was held at 10:30 am in the Leonardo room on the Promenade deck. Only 21 Diamonds on this sailing so we have the cocktail party, I was hoping for the new Luncheon menu. Very good participation from the staff and Captain, they came and stayed and visited with guests (photo…the Captain is far right in photo, Amol below him). As a solo, I sat at the bar which was fine as I started with a couple of Bloody Marys and ended up with two excellent Elderflower Martinis.  They did serve sushi and an assortment of Petit fours. I passed on the sushi but enjoyed the Petit fours. Thanks, Carnival Paradise it was nice. It’s a beautiful day today and guests are enjoying the outer decks, but after a nice breakfast brunch, and cocktails I had nap time this afternoon. Funny how priorities change as we get older.  I did a walkabout the ship and went to the casino to get my $25 Diamond benefit.  Nice.  Again as a contrarian, it’s the time to be out and about while everyone else is having their Elegant evening. I enjoyed the sunset on my way to the Lido Marketplace for dinner. Tonight I had Roast Beef, Stuffed Chicken Breast, Broccoli, and Potato, it was good and I dined alfresco with an aft wake view. The seas have become more active as the sun set with some nice occasional rocking of the ship. The feature show tonight was Epic Rock in the theater, but I stayed on deck and enjoyed the weather and views until retiring to the cabin to watch a movie. It was a fun and restful sea day on the Carnival Paradise.

Day Three -- Monday -- February 27th, 2023 -- Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan 

Rolling seas overnight and I again slept very well. I was up early as I had rest yesterday so I finished some Travel business and reviewed some news. I went to the Elation Restaurant for breakfast at about 9:30, they had a busy morning, and it took a while after checking in to get a table, but it was table 203 in my favorite area. I ordered big: Three eggs sunny side up, Bacon, Ham, Hash Browns, Danish, Toast, Tomato Juice, and Hot Milk. A nice leisurely breakfast and it was very good too. Nengah had cleaned my cabin while I was out and I’m glad he did as I’m in no rush to debark today… the usual Monday online work to do. I had a wee nap then went to the Serenity Deck and enjoyed the hot tub. I like finding a jet for my right foot, it does wonders for tendonitis. I had my best meal of the cruise for a late lunch. They had a nice very nice Sirloin at the buffet Carving Station so I got Buns from Guy’s Burgers (with chipotle mayo) then had several slices of the sirloin (with light horseradish) and enjoyed two wonderful Steak Sandwiches. The meat was hot and moist and with the good bread, I thought I had a sandwich comparable to the famous Mother’s in New Orleans. I did a walkabout and ended up aft to watch our late departure from Mahogany Bay. I’m skipping dinner tonight so at about 7:30 pm I went to the Rotterdam Bar to see my friend Deepak, the best bartender on the ship. He prepared an excellent (fresh) Watermelon martini for me and then an Elderflower martini that was equally as good. I took a Cabin break before the 9:30 pm Production Show and while there a beautiful Cheese Platter arrived for me…Wow! thanks, Hotel Director Nuria Costal. (Who needs Hugo?) I was able to score front-row seats for the 80’s Pop to the Max show and I was so glad I did. All new sets and staging for the entertainers…I enjoyed the show. Afterward time for one Pilsner Urquell at the Lobby Bar before retiring. That Cheese platter was great for a late snack. It was a very productive and FUN day for me on the Carnival Paradise.


Day Four -- Tuesday --  February 28th, 2022 -- Cozumel, Mexico 

Rolling seas continued and I slept well. We have a late arrival into Cozumel so no rushing this morning. I went to the Elation MDR for breakfast: Avocado Toast, Bacon, Ham, Hash Browns, Tomato juice, Grapefruit, and Hot Milk. Very good. We were docked at about 11:30 and I debarked at about 12:00 noon. I walked over to Del Mar Latino all-inclusive for the day. (photo right) Good food and drinks until 5:30 pm. Over the course of the day, I did the pool, swam in the Caribbean water, enjoyed Diet Coca-cola, my share of Mojitos, Guacamole, Chips, Pico de Gallo, Coconut Shrimp, the Pollo, Fries, & Salad Plate, Buffalo Wings, and more. The weather was perfect and the Caribbean water was wonderful…there were actually more fish to see in the water than I have seen here in a while. I bring goggles, but it may justify a breathing tube as well next visit. So the bottom line is there is no beach but the snorkeling is better. The bar closed at 4:30 but they left me with two Mojitos and I stayed to use the good WiFi service…much faster than the ship. I bought Vanilla from Cinco Soles for friends in Florida as I made my way back to the ship. We did not leave Cozumel until about 8:00 pm … nice to see the ship lit up at night. Once refreshed I did a walkabout the ship and shared some photos with Deepak at the Rotterdam Bar, he was curious about the unique bars on the new Celebration. I scored more goodies, a plate of cookies, still warm when delivered, and some Strawberries. Thanks, Nuria. A bit quieter on the ship this evening which is common on Cozumel night and I did retire early myself. It was a great port day in Cozumel. 

 Day Five -- Wednesday --  March 1st, 2023 —Fun Day at Sea

Smoother seas overnight and I slept very well. A lazy morning for me but at about 9:45 am I went to the Sea Day Brunch in the Elation Restaurant. I enjoyed my breakfasts this cruise and today was so as well. I ordered: Hot Milk, Danish, Tomato Juice, a Fruit Bowl, the Steak & Eggs, with sides of Bacon, Ham, and Hash Browns. Nengah again had my cabin cleaned before I returned, I like that…thanks. I’m continuing the lazy theme today, I had enough sun and sea in Cozumel. Good weather so guests are enjoying the outer decks today. Something different: I was relaxing on the Serenity deck located far aft when Security came and moved guests out for our safety…what? I hadn’t immediately noticed as I was in a covered area but there was black soot falling from our stack. No idea what was causing it i.e. downdraft, super burn, or whatever but it was new to me. I have had many aft-facing balconies and noticed occasional soot, but this was really coming down. I had a Guy’s Burger at about 4:00 pm before going to the 5:00 pm Platinum & Diamond Party in the Queen Mary lounge. My friends Susan & Joanna attended as well, they had never attended one before and I love to see the reactions of newbies. It makes me appreciate the event more. I did get the Most Sailed Days award, but more importantly, I had a chance to thank Hotel Director Nuria for the goodies on this cruise. The Captain was very kind to take some extra photos with my guests. We were late getting our cocktails so they eventually brought a lot of Cosmopolitans, enough that we stayed through the 6:30 Punchliner Comedy Show. It was a PG show and entertaining. One last cocktail with Deepak in the Rotterdam Bar bar before I hit the Lido buffet for a late Supper. I retired soon afterward. But watching the forward camera on TV while in bed I spied the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, so dressed and got up to deck 14 forward to see the bridge. We went under at 11:25 pm and it was a great experience. It was certainly a FUN evening on the Carnival Paradise.


Debarkation — Thursday -- March 2nd, 2023 -- Port of Tampa

Smooth seas overnight and I sleep well although I woke at 5:00 am to finish packing. I have a 7:00 am meeting time for Diamonds, but I went early since we had been in port for hours. They only began debarking at the usual time of 7:00 am I was one of the first off by 7:05 and the very first through Border Customs as the few guests in front of me searched for passports, I use a passport card and zoomed through. I walked across to the parking garage and home at 8:15 am … well before all the passengers were off the Paradise.

Personal HIGHLIGHTS of the Cruises
Meeting new Friends
80s to the Max
Diamond & Platinum Party
Rotterdam Bar cocktails
Steak Sandwich
Cozumel Port Day
Friendly Staff and Crew

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 large buffet lines
Rarely a wait for elevators
Easy to walk

No Alchemy Bar. (that will be fixed in October 2023)
Very poor Internet
Lack of secondary dining options (ie. Mongolian Grill, Seafood Shack, etc.)

Lots of Improvements
New door going onto the Serenity Deck
New staging and sets for Production Shows
New Television sets in Cabins