Roger & Judy
Technology Consultant/HR Manager
Number of Cruises: 4
Name of Ship: Paradise
Sailing Date: February 23rd,
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our second trip on the
Carnival Paradise. We took the Eastern Route on her in September, 2002.
My husband and I left our home in Jacksonville, AR on Saturday
morning, 2/22/03, in order to arrive in Miami the day before our cruise
departs. We experienced our first airplane ride since security has started
checking all bags. American Airlines treated us well on our entire trip
with on time arrivals and departures and all bags accounted for at each
We used a free night we had earned to stay at the
Fairfield Bay Airport, which is attached to a full service Marriott. We
arrived at the hotel at dinner time, so we slipped over to the Marriott
restaurant for a nice meal before going to bed for the night. The next
morning, we had the complimentary breakfast outside by the pool under a
large tent. Light rain was falling and lower temperatures were forecast
for the day. Many cruisers were with us under that tent, and everyone was
excited and unworried about the weather.
We left the hotel about
10:15 a.m. in a taxi to the pier. We showed our cruise documents and
passports to security at the pier, and then waited in traffic for about
ten minutes before arriving at our Carnival terminal. The porters were
assisting the departing passengers, so we had to wait a few minutes for
one to assist us with our luggage. We tipped the porter, watched him put
the bags in the correct bin, and then headed into the terminal.
Even though it was only 11:00 a.m., the ticketing gates were
already open with no waiting. We zipped through both security and
ticketing, then headed upstairs to pick up our Sail ‘n Sign card. One
couple was ahead of us, so the Carnival agent started talking to both of
us. We suddenly realized that the other couple was “Maplesugar”, someone
we had communicated with on the cruise BBs prior to the cruise. So, we all
sat down together in the lounge to wait to board the ship. The agents kept
coming by to say later and later times to board the ship, but shortly
after 12:00 Noon, they allowed us to board the ship without delay.
We went directly to the card room on the Atlantic deck to request
a change in our dinner time. (We’ve always had late seating and had
decided to check out early seating this time, but our cards indicated we
had been given the late seating.) We asked the maitre d’ for a table in
early seating with no children. He said there were very few tables in
early seating without children, but he would put us on a waiting list and
try to accommodate us. He instructed us to go on to the table we were
assigned to that night, and if he could change our table, we’d receive a
note in our cabin the next day.
We then went to our cabin to drop
off our carry-on bag. We had booked a 6A guarantee room, and we received a
6E room, Oceanview on the Empress Deck aft. The room was fine. I think I
felt the vibrations and noise from the engine more since we were near the
very back of the ship, but slept like a baby anyway. Our room steward was
Ernest. We didn’t see him very often, but our room was kept impeccable,
and he delivered the few things we requested without delay. And, of
course, we had neat towel animals almost every day!
We visited the
Paris Restaurant Pizzeria for a pizza lunch that was delicious. The
24-hour pizzeria on Paradise kept us happy throughout the cruise. After
pizza, we wondered the ship to check out some of our favorite hideaways
and see what had changed. The ship had not changed, just most of the
staff. The Captain was the same, the maitre d’ Ricardo (you look
MAHvelous, Chow for now!), the piano bar singer Roberta, and one of our
waiters, Som, from our last cruise was there.
Roger headed out to
soak up the sun by the Lido pool, while I took a nap in the cabin. When I
woke up, the bags were there, so I unpacked them and settled us into our
week-long cruise home. I then gathered Roger, who was making friends, from
the pool to go to the muster drill. The muster drill seemed to take longer
than others, but we survived.
We met some really nice folks during
the sailaway and enjoyed watching the shoreline disappear along with the
Carnival drinks in our hands! As soon as the shoreline had totally
disappeared, we headed to the Promenade deck with our new friends for
sushi. More people were there for the first night of sushi than we had on
our first Paradise cruise. Then we had to change for our 8:00 pm dinner
seating in the Destiny dining room.
The dining room was probably
less than half full this first night. We were seated at a table for ten
with only two other couples, so our table had four empty seats. Our
servers were wonderful. We enjoyed our meal and our dining companions, so
we told them we had requested a change to early seating earlier and not
because we had not enjoyed their company.
The menu had not changed
since our first cruise, so I won’t be discussing what we ate much. While
the meals were good, they were not up to the standards of the dining
establishments we frequent on land, and if this dining room were a land
restaurant, we probably would not have returned to it a second time. The
service was great, but the food was just so-so most of the time. On our
first formal time, the lobster I ordered was bad, dissolve in your mouth
bad. I asked the server to take it away, and bring me back salmon, because
I didn’t think I could consider another lobster after that taste! The
chateaubriand was a little tough. Steak is an ongoing struggle on Carnival
ships, because they say they only make it medium rare and medium well. I
prefer my steak medium, and Roger likes his rare. No steak came to our
table prepared less than well done. Very disappointing! And, it wasn’t
just us, our table mates were sending food back as well. We did have some
good entrees, but probably only because we finally got smart and started
asking the servers what they recommend. When we would order something that
others on prior weeks had sent back, they would silently shake their heads
The next morning we did get reassigned to early
seating, which put our dinners at 5:45 pm in the Destiny dining room. We
noticed that the dining room was ¼ to ½ empty every night, except the last
night when for the first time it was almost full. We asked our servers
about this, and they said late seating was even emptier than early
seating. That was very unusual in our experience.
Our new servers
at our early seating were Aquino from India and Gabriel from Hungary. We
received excellent service from both of them. Since we had four ports in a
roll on this cruise, we did not take breakfast and lunch with them for
those four days. So, we mostly only saw them for the evening meal. We
enjoyed both their service and their pleasing personalities.
new table was six-person booth. Another couple, Ken and Janie, were also
reassigned to that booth, as we were. We enjoyed getting to know one
another for a couple of days, when another couple, Duane and Marilyn, were
reassigned to join us as well. Ken’s brother, Harvey, sent him a bottle of
champagne, which Ken shared with the table one night – thanks, Harvey.
And, Duane and Marilyn, married 53 years, were in the
Newlywed/Not-so-Newlywed Game, and they brought the champagne they
received as participants of that game to share with us one night as well.
We enjoyed one another’s company so much, laughed more than I’d laughed in
ages. I hope we weren’t disruptive to others, because other tables often
joined in our gaiety as well!
We took our first port breakfast in
the Destiny dining room. Service was poor, we couldn’t get toast and eggs
and coffee refills. Later in the day we spoke to Ken and Janie who told us
they had a wonderful breakfast in the Paris Restaurant on the Lido deck,
with hot omelet and toast. So we took all the rest of our breakfasts there
enjoying the hot omelets and toast.
We came from the pool deck for
most lunches to the Paris Restaurant, where we had lots of pizza and some
excellent pasta … and everyone enjoyed the ice cream!
day of departure, was wrapped up in the Normandie Lounge for a Welcome
Aboard Show. Most of the shows had not changed since our September cruise,
but the entertainers had. The comedian this night was Adam Ace. He’s a
young twenty-something, with a tall blond flat-top. (You’ll have to see it
to believe it.) And, he dresses in bright, bold colored suits. One night
he had on a lemon-color suit, and another night he a red suit. His comedy
was kind of goofy, and, at first, we thought we weren’t going to enjoy
him, but he was very funny. Our table mate, Ken, was taken on stage for a
routine with toilet paper that dubbed Ken the label of “Toilet Man” for
the rest of the cruise.
After the show we headed to the Queen
Mary’s lounge to dance to the tunes of Doug Allen and the Chicago Mob. We
did this almost every night, so we made friends with people who joined us
for the same fun each night.
Monday was a Sea Day. After
breakfast, we went to the Travel and Shopping Talks in the Normandie
Lounge. Shawn Bussey was our cruise director, and we honestly probably
enjoyed her more than any other cruise director before. She sometimes gets
a “Davey DJ” voice on stage during shows, but she had a delightful,
helpful personality. (This was her last week on Paradise; after vacation,
she’ll be on the Spirit.) Since our port days were four in a row – Belize,
Roatan, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel – she covered all the information in one
talk. She gave away a 6-pack box of Tortuga Rum Cakes to the first person
showing her a picture of Ben Franklin. Roger ran up with his $100 bill and
got the prize, which we shared with family upon returning. Shawn tossed
out several other small prizes. I caught a bottle of nail polish and a
ring, both which change colors in the sun. This became gifts for my
11-year old daughter, Rachel.
We spent some time soaking up the
sun on this sea day, then headed to the Queen Mary’s lounge for the Art
Auction. We had lots of fun seeing the various pictures and artists and
bought one picture for our home.
We had planned to meet some other
cruisers we had corresponded with online prior to the cruise at 4 p.m. at
the US Bar, but there was just too much going on to slow down for that. We
went up to the bar at 3:55 p.m. and waited until 4:10 p.m. Maplesugar
showed up right about 4 pm, so by 4:10 we headed for karaoke which we all
wanted to watch. Sorry to anyone that missed up, but there was simply too
much to do!
Monday night was our first Formal night and the
Captain’s party. We had to get ready early since we now had early seating.
It was fun seeing all the different clothes – from nice pantsuits to
evening gowns for women, and polo shirts with sport coats to tuxedos for
men. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time.
We had our
pictures taken instead of attending the Captain’s party. The photographers
were set up all along the Promenade deck every night, and we purchased
some beautiful pictures. They had some new backdrops that require you to
pose while seated on the floor – these were used on casual nights. Most
folks didn’t want to try this, but we did it even though we were leery of
it, and it turned out to be one of our best pictures. This was especially
great for those with children in the group. Children can’t seem to find a
nice standing pose, but they had no problem giving relaxed smiles while
seated comfortably on the floor.
The Monday night show was the
Dream Voyage with the Paradise Dancers, and singers Sharon Johnson and
Eric Dalton. Then we headed to the Queen Mary’s lounge for more dancing
before the late night Adult Comedy of Adam Ace. Adam is such a goofy
comedian, he had trouble making his comedy adult, which was fine with me.
It was great fun though.
Tuesday was our first port day of Belize.
We were in Belize from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and we had to tender ashore in
Here’s a word about tendering. We had to tender ashore in
both Belize and Grand Cayman. Anyone booked on a ship excursion were
assigned an area of the ship to meet at certain time and their excursion
ticket was their tender pass. Everyone else had to go to the Normandie
lounge at a certain time to get their tender ticket. A large crowd is in
that lounge to get tender tickets first, many because they had independent
tours booked ashore at a certain time. So, if you need to get off the ship
early or at a certain time, get to that lounge early and sit right up
front. Our cruise was Carnival Paradise’s first stop at Belize, which I
think caused the tendering to move more slowly there. I think it will
speed up with subsequent cruises.
In Belize we decided to take the
ship’s excursion of Goff Caye Snorkeling. We tendered from the ship
directly to a small island. Anyone who did not want to snorkel off the
boat got off on the island at that time. The island was very small – you
could see all the way across it. It had maybe six palm trees on it, and a
small open-air hut where they were selling drinks, snacks and crafts – you
need cash to buy any of this – I heard the brownies there were fabulous.
Lots of sand, water and sun – but not much else. There were two
port-a-potties on the pier for restroom facilities, but no toilet paper!
The tender then took us out by the Barrier Reef in the middle of
the ocean, and we offloaded from the side of the boat. I’m not a strong
swimmer or confident snorkeler, so I was afraid to jump off the side of
the boat, and another passenger finally agreed to give me a shove which
got me safely in the water. For those like me who lacked confidence, they
had us wrap a regular orange boat vest around our waists. This worked
fine, but if you want to take this wonderful snorkeling tour, I would
strongly recommend you bring your own snorkeling vest, because those are
so much more comfortable.
We snorkeled out there for a long time.
Our tour guide joined us in the water. He would swim down and point at
things, then come to the surface to explain what it was – he was great!
After a while, he said he was going to take us to even deeper water, so
anyone who was tired or just ready could swim back to the boat, which I
did. About half of us waited in the boat for the others, including Roger,
to complete the deeper water snorkeling. They saw some really neat things.
Then after everyone had loaded back on the boat, we returned to the
island, where we all soaked up the sun and drinks, while the tour guide
took those who had unloaded on the island on an hour-long snorkeling tour
right off the island. Throughout this excursion, the tender boat operators
were giving us cold water bottles, which helped keep us all well-hydrated
– a nice service!
When we returned to the port, we cleaned up to
take a tender into Belize City. Belize is not really a shopping port. They
have a small shopping mall right off the tender port with mostly crafts,
t-shirts, etc. Nothing exceptional. It was nice visiting their little
shopping area and buying postcards for friends and family.
Belize excursions most talked about back on the ship were the Shark Ray
Alley snorkeling and the Cave Tubing. Mixed reports on cave tubing,
younger folks seemed to have enjoyed it more than some of the older folks.
We returned to the ship and it wasn’t long until dinner. After
dinner, we headed to the Normandie Lounge for Bingo and the show. I always
play cruise bingo, but I’ve never won. On this night, I won $600 in Bingo
– helped pay for that cruise tab! The show was Eddie Capone, a comedian,
and a magician, John Duffy. The magician was nothing special. I liked
Eddie’s routine, but others weren’t so thrilled. He was older and talked a
lot about the way things used to be – I enjoyed him. Then we headed to
Leonardo Lounge for karaoke. We left there about midnight for bed, but we
heard that karaoke went well into the night, with a large crowd having
Wednesday was our Roatan port day, where the left the
ship right onto Roatan’s port – no tenders. It was also a short day,
arriving in Roatan at 7 a.m., back on board by 2 p.m. We had purchased a
ship excursion to the Parrot Bay Resort Beach Party. Leaving the ship, we
saw some Roatan dancers performing on the pier, and, just beyond that, was
a parking lot full of vans and busses. Beyond that was an 8 or 10-foot
fence that went low down below the water as well. That was kind of scary –
what were they trying to protect us from? On the other side of the fence,
many Roatan citizens and cabbies were pressed against the fence hoping, I
think, to offer their services to passengers who were brave enough to pass
through the fence.
Most of the vans and busses had a sign in their
front windshield where they were going. We couldn’t find ours, so we
located a Carnival agent, who located an MC tour operator to get us in our
van. Turned out our van driver had placed his sign on the side door which
we couldn’t see from the front of the vehicle. It was a long drive to the
Parrot Bay Resort Beach, which turned out to be a manmade beach with
outlets to the ocean on both ends. As we drove, we asked the driver about
the best beaches, and he recommended the beaches on the west end of the
island, which others who went there confirmed were wonderful.
Parrot Bay Resort is a work in progress. There’s a small hotel and
café a short walk from the beach. The beach has bathrooms and six beach
shower heads in the open air to wash the sand off. There is a small
open-air hut, where they served drinks only. There were a couple of
hammocks behind the hut. They had a local band playing music near the hut
– pretty funny hearing songs we hear on our American radios sang with an
island accent! The sandy beach wrapped all the way around the man-made
beach with plenty of chairs, didn’t see any umbrellas. But, you could
place your chair in the sun or in the shade which was plentiful. This
beach felt safe for a family with children, and they did have a piñata,
which the children got to break open.
But, we didn’t have a beach
party as advertised, so if you want a party, this isn’t for you. It was a
very relaxing, lay in the sun on a chair and swim in the lagoon day. They
had some small kayaks for two that you could rent and use. It was a great,
The Roatan excursions most talked about back on the
ship was the Roatan West Side Island Tour (that’s where the better beaches
were) and the Catamaran Sail and Snorkel.
Back on board we watched
the ice carving demonstration and the Men’s Hairy Chest competition, and
then soaked up the sun, until the Sangria sailaway – I love Sangria! Then
the Repeaters Party was at 5 pm in the Queen Mary’s Lounge. Dinner, more
pictures, and then showtime – tonight was the comedy and soul of Tia
Thompson. Tia was a great soul singer, but a so-so comedian.
Thursday was our Grand Cayman port day from 9 am to 5pm. Tendering
again, same as earlier. We had bought a ship excursion to the 7-Mile
Beach, but you got your transportation whenever you were ready to do it.
So, we went to the Normandy Lounge to get a tender pass to get off
earlier, so we could do some shopping before heading to the beach. We got
one of the first passes and got off promptly. We enjoyed the shopping,
then tendered back to the ship. There was almost no one on the ship, and
it was lunch time, so got salad and pizza and ate it on the deck
overlooking Cayman – it was very relaxing and delicious.
tendered back to the island and caught a taxi cab to the 7-Mile Beach. Our
pass got us admission, a chair, and a drink. We paid $5 for an umbrella as
well. They also had a tent set up where you could purchase lunch. The
night before Roger had overheard someone say the 7-Mile Beach excursion
was sold out, and we wondered how you could fill up a 7-Mile Beach. Now we
had the answer. The Colony Hotel providing this excursion had roped off a
small area for the cruise passengers to use, with a separate larger area
for just their guests. For those who had arrived earlier in the day than
we did, they were packed into this beach pretty tight. By the time we
arrived, many of them were leaving, and we enjoyed relaxing on this beach.
There were vendors nearby offering parasailing, kayaking, diving, and
other water sports for a price.
This was our second formal night.
So, we had to get back to the ship early to get dressed for formal night.
We went to dinner, had pictures made, then dancing, skipped the show to go
to our cabin early, because the next day was supposed to be a long day in
Cozumel. About 8:30 p.m. an announcement was made that a crew member had
been badly injured and they were turning the ship around to return him to
the hospital in Cayman, which would delay our arrival in Cozumel, but they
wouldn’t know until the next morning how much. (We later learned that he
had fallen down some steps, had a lot of bleeding from a head wound, and
they were concerned that he had a concussion. We were even later told that
he was better and would be rejoining the ship in Miami.)
though we had fallen asleep, we felt the ship stop in Cayman and start up
again. So, Friday morning, we were well rested. We hung out on the ship
all day, soaking up the sun, it was so relaxing. We heard a few passengers
complaining about the delay, but we were only so happy to spend the day on
the ship. At Noon, they announced that we would be arriving in Cozumel at
3:30 pm, and that the Captain had agreed to stay in port until 1:00 a.m.
(We were originally scheduled to be in Cozumel from 1 to 11 pm.) They then
announced which ship’s excursions were still on and what time they would
now be leaving. They said that all other excursions had been cancelled and
sail ‘n sign cards would be credited. The excursion we had purchased was
cancelled, and the credit was on our final bill. A long line immediately
formed at the excursion desk with folks trying to get on the remaining
excursions. We were only too happy to shop, eat, and drink in Cozumel.
We took a taxi into town, walked the shopping route, buying a few
things, and then went to Carlos ‘n Charlie’s for a meal and drinks. We met
Ken and Janie there, and then we all took a cab back to the pier. Once we
got there, we stopped in a Fat Tuesday’s at the pier for a few more
drinks. We met up with Greg and Roz there, and we all had a great time. By
the time we boarded the ship again, we went right to our cabin and went to
sleep. The guest talent show was that night, but I didn’t hear anything
about it. The sailaway party on the Lido Deck included the music of Doug
Allen and the Chicago Mob and a Mexican midnight buffet. I heard that was
Saturday was a Sea Day. Just laying around relaxing,
enjoying the ship, sun, and companions. We picked up our early departure
luggage tags from the Information Desk before the Debarkation Talk in
order to avoid the long lines. We took the Galley tour in the afternoon.
We started packing our bags before dinner, then finished packing when we
changed after dinner. We tried to find somewhere to dance, but Doug Allen
had disappeared, and we didn’t like the music of Just Du-et who played in
the Leonardo Lounge almost every evening. Let me say, however, that Just
Du-et drew a large crowd most nights, so it was obviously just not our
preference in music.
Sunday, we grabbed our breakfast in the Paris
Restaurant, before going to the Queen Mary’s Lounge to wait with the
others with early flights, handicaps, or ship excursions in Miami. We were
off the ship by 9:30 a.m. Caught a cab to the airport and had an
uneventful flight home.
All in all, this was one more great cruise
vacation. While we were disappointed in the food, we’ll make some
different choices in the future. The service was great. We had two great
drink servers on the Lido Deck, Reginald and Rexco, that remembered our
numbers from the first day and took great care of us! As always, we made
some great new friends.
In my review of the Paradise in September,
I commented how laid back it was. Now, I have to say that may change from
week to week depending on the passengers. While this was not a loud,
rowdy, partying bunch of people, we could always find a good time. The
crowd did seem to settle together in one place or another from night to
night, and once you found them, you could have a great time as late into
the night as you wanted to stay up. Sometimes we joined the crowd, but
most of the time, we did our own thing. But, I was glad to see people
joining together to have fun than on our last Paradise cruise.
We’re ready to book our next cruise