My family had an enjoyable Carnival Paradise Cruise from Tampa to the Western Caribbean. It was then our 6th inclusive cruise vacation.
While I will not attempt to say how this cruise compares to our other Carnival cruises we have been on, I will say that it was a very good family vacation.
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Let me be frank: It is difficult for us to have a bad cruise, because we are pre-disposed to having a great time onboard any cruise ship.
My family’s preferred type of vacation is an inclusive cruise and so it will take much to really spoil things for us.
Anyway, this was our first cruise with Carnival Paradise. To be honest, I had thought that since Carnival Paradise is a smaller ship than Carnival Sunshine), I would not enjoy the vacation as much.
I prefer to sail on the bigger passenger ships (I’ve been on Carnival Glory, Norwegian Dawn, and aspire to get on the biggest cruise ships – Oasis of the Seas / Allure of the Seas, Norwegian Epic, Carnival Dream, etc.).
Putting the ship’s size aside, you will have a good Carnival Paradise cruise experience.
Paradise sails out of the Tampa Port, which is located right across from the Florida Aquarium.
The checking-in facilities are smaller than what we experienced in Miami and so the process was a bit longer.
Expect to stand in the line for about 45 minutes or more – stretching outside the building.
Upon clearing the authorities, you will board the ship on the 6th floor (Empress deck) and be immediately enthralled by the ship’s atrium.
One of the first things that I look at when I board a cruise ship is the atrium. Carnival Paradise does not disappoint.
Granted, the area is not as large as other ships, but is more beautiful than some cruise ships we’ve been on.
You will find the Shore Excursions and Guest Services desks on the Empress Deck, at the lower end of the atrium.
The cabins were ready, so we quickly found ours (inside cabins) – which would have taken longer on a bigger ship.
Carnival Paradise's inside cabins were just about what I expected.
You will find that cabin sizes are somewhat standard on Carnival ships. The only thing that surprised me was that there were no bunk beds in our cabin for 3. There were two standing twin beds and a third much lower on the floor.
In my wife’s cabin for four guests, they had two standing twin beds and a pair of bunk beds.
From the cabin, I was curious to see what the main deck (food and pools) looked like. We quickly headed to the lido deck for lunch.
As expected, the lido deck was smaller than Carnival Destiny’s, but it had one thing not found on Destiny – a stage right in the center.
The lido deck is divided into the stage mentioned above, a fair-size pool (there is a second pool on a higher deck), along with 2 hot tubs and a slide.
There is also the Paris Restaurant for buffet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) plus 24 hour ice-cream and pizza!
Similarly to other cruise ships, the Paris Restaurant serves various cuisines – American, Italian, Caribbean, Asian, etc.
You will find a grilled food section, rotisserie, a deli and in the mornings – 3 omelet stations.
Our Paradise cruise was for 5 days to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico.
However, Carnival Paradise also has 4 day sailings from Tampa to Cozumel only.
We were picked up by my cousin, who lives on the island, and he gave us a tour. He also decided to take us to another beach - Rum Point Beach - which is much farther from the cruise port than is Seven Mile Beach.
It was great visiting another great Grand Cayman beach. Rum Point Beach, while not having as much sandy area as the Seven Mile Beach, was just as nice with the clear blue water that I love so much in the Caribbean.
At our next port of call - Cozumel - we first thought of visiting downtown for some shopping and then going to a beach. We ended up taking a tour around a half of the island and then visited what is called the Ocean Beach.
Unfortunately, it was a rough day at sea which caused muddy water and made the beach area brownish instead of clear blue. I was disappointed, because I know that Cozumel has better beaches.
Instead of splashing about in the beach, we spent time in a pool and hot-tub found at the Ocean Beach.
There are many things offered on Carnival Paradise that make for a great cruise. Our 5-day cruise was broken into 2 days at sea and two ports of call (as discussed above).
Carnival Paradise is rife with fun things to do onboard.
For the Children - You have an award winning youth program run by specially trained counselors and they keep your children engaged and entertained in Camp Carnival.
For the Older Kids - You have basketball, ping pong, a video arcade and disco.
For Even Older "Kids" - There are live shows in the main lounge or theater - Normandie Lounge; games organized by Carnival Paradise Cruise Director, Sparkles, and her team; art auctions; live music; shopping; a fitness center; mini golf; and much more.
You will also be thrilled to know that there is an "Adult Retreat" for those cruise passengers 21 and older.
Yes, your family will enjoy a 4- or 5-day Carnival Paradise cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
For those wondering why I did not mention the food, just rest assured there is enough onboard.
In addition to the buffet restaurant mentioned above, Carnival Paradise has two main dining rooms - the Elation Dining and the Destiny Room. There is also a sushi bar onboard ship.
Watch out for a late night Mexican Buffet and an American Buffet! Do not miss the Caribbean lunch buffet! Delicious!
Are you ready? Do you think that you can handle a Carnival Paradise Cruise? I believe you can. Well, get a move on!
Have fun and when you get back, please share your experience with us.