by Dana Garrison
August 26, 2001
My husband, 16 year old son, and I returned from sailing on the Paradise Sunday Sept. 2. I very much hated to leave the ship!!!
We arrived in Miami Saturday early evening. After checking into our hotel we got the name of a traditional Cuban restaurant from hotel staff. It was called Latin America, located not far from the airport. It was a casual diner, very clean and welcoming. We were the only non Cuban patrons there. The owner came to the table and was very helpful in selecting authentic Cuban dishes for us to try, with a guarantee no less!! The food was fantastic, we now know that we love Cuban food!
The next morning we drove to South Beach to see the ships and sights. It was very pretty, and quiet on Sunday morning!
We then headed to the pier to drop off our bags, and my son and I stayed behind while my husband took the rental car to the Avis office on the pier. There was some confusion as to which gate to enter for the Paradise, but not that bad. We only waited a short time and we were all checking in and upstairs to wait in the lounge for boarding. We were in the first 10 people on board the ship, at around 12:15 pm. What a beautiful sight! The Atrium is so nice to have, adding light, you don't feel closed in at all. Our outside cabin was clean and had plenty of room for us. The bathroom was a good size, and the shower was roomy.
We had the pleasant surprise of finding out that the Captain was the captain of our cruise last year. Also there were two dancers from our cruise last year, from a different ship. The dancer Suzy was fun, and helped make my son's cruise!! The shows were impressive, I have been to Vegas, and those kids on the ship never missed a step! They were dynamic, and well done. The first comedy act was the best in our opinion. Tia had her show on Wed. and you shouldn't miss her show either, wonderful voice, and funny. The Illusionist was not so hot, nor was the guy with the puppets.
We ate in the dining room every evening, and it was wonderful, and plentiful. Our waiter figured out the first night that our son would consume 3 beef entrees per sitting, even though he is thin! We got the special attention to detail that helps make cruising so lovely. None of us at our table was ever unhappy with our selections. We were at a window table in the Destiny Dining room. Our one complaint is about the layout of the deck where the dining rooms were. It can be a bit confusing getting there, but worth it. We had 2 single sisters, and 3 single guys at our table, and we had good conversation, and lots of fun with them. All well mannered, and polite. We had some lunches, and a couple midnight buffets in the Paris dining room. The food was better on this cruise in the alternative dining room than it was on our last cruise.
If you get the chance, go to the America Bar and see Bonnie for the sing along! You don't even have to be able to sing, we can't, and it was a blast!!
Be sure to take lots of pics, and then you can weed through them for the ones you want. We had some really good ones, even though they aren't cheap, we were happy with them.
We never had a problem finding a deck chair, especially if you go to the Aft pool area.
Since we had been to Cozumel before we chose to go to Chankanaab on our own. My son tried the Snuba ($50), and loved it, very safe, and well run. I elected to snorkel, and was rewarded with beautiful fish, coral, lobsters, and a very large Barracuda was feeding right below me!! Don't miss the walk through the Botanical park there. We had an interesting time feeding the Iguana bananas!! After a quick cab ride to the ship and a shower, we went into town for lunch at Ponchos Backyard. We ate there last year, and it was still a good choice! Food was reasonably priced and very good, not to mention the purified water, and strong drinks!!! Then it was time for shopping. We did get some nice things, but I think we got better deals in Jamaica. The Mexican Folklore show is well done, and interesting.
Days at sea are full of things to do for everyone, or do nothing at all, that's why cruises are perfect vacations!
Grand Cayman was beautiful as always. We chose to go on the early Stingray/Island tour. It was nice to be on the sandbar earlier in the day, that way you still have time to go to 7 mile beach, shop (if you have lots of $), or go snorkeling at Eden Rock. The snorkeling there is incredible!! If you have equipment, it is free to snorkel there, and it is very close to where you catch the tender back to the ship. I can not say enough about the underwater sights there!! The water is relatively shallow, bringing the fish closer to you. We had the pleasure of seeing a school of Squid. Just be sure to buy your Tortuga Rum Cakes at one of the bakery stores, and not on the ship. The ones we got on the ship were drier than those we got on Cayman.
Words cannot express how pleased we were that we had booked Peat Taylor for our tour of Jamaica! He thinks of everything for you, and so helpful, interesting, and fun!! The tour bus was clean, and air-conditioned. He sang, told stories, and gave us lots of info about the island. We were the first group at the falls, which is a big plus. The climb is not that difficult, and we had people ranging in ages 6 to 68 in our group climb. You take it slow, and it is so tropical, and shaded. When you leave the falls go to the top of the hill to the exit and veer to the right to avoid the market if the pushy peddlers bother you. It was not as bad as we had anticipated. Peat then takes you through Fern Gully, telling you about all the plant life and culture along the way. He was so good that even my son was interested! We then went to a mountain overlook area and saw the Blue Mnts. Then we turned around and went back down the mountain the "back way", through typical Jamaican neighborhoods. At this point you can choose to shop, go to the beach, or the ship, what ever you want to do. Peat is very safe and efficient. You can't go wrong with him, and be sure to have the Jerk Chicken!!! Peat knows where to take you for the best!
Being able to relax in your cabin for debarkation is a nice plus! Be sure to leave your cabin door open to hear your tag color called!
All in all, our cruise on the Paradise was all we hoped it would be and then some Like any vacation, it is what you make it, but it helps a lot to do it in such a pleasant, clean atmosphere. We are looking at the new 10 and 11 day cruises Paradise will be doing next year. Maybe we will see you on one of them!!