by Steve Stanley
December 16, 2001
Our family (wife, son(15), daughter(13), and I cruised on the Paradise from 12-16 to 12-23. We had two cabins on the Riviera deck. We drove from N.C. and stayed at the Comfort Inn by the Miami airport. Budget said they had free transportation to the port from the Sheraton-Brickel Avenue. However, when we dropped the car off, the clerk said they did not have a shuttle. We did pre-register with the Carnival representative at the Sheraton. Thought this would save some time later. Took a taxi to the port and arrived at the Paradise around 11:00 A.M. Quite a few people were still debarking. The line inside the terminal was very short. We were able to bypass this short line and go upstairs to get our sail and sign cards. This was also a short line. At this point on our two previous Carnival cruises, we had already taken our ID photos. At 1:00, we began to board. This was a slow process, because they took your ID photo now.
This BASS Ackwards process should be changed to the way it was handled on the Triumph and Sensation. Since we were near the front of the line, we were on the ship by 1:10. Once again I was impressed upon entering a Carnival vessel. We dropped our carry-ons in our rooms and headed to lunch at the Paris Restaurant. They had cafeteria style food, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. I noticed that the Triumph was a wider ship. The Triumph had a second floor to eat on and more food choices. I really missed the Hong Kong Noodle Company and the New York Deli. But, the smaller setting had a charming appeal to it. After lunch, we explored the ship a bit and returned to our rooms. Surprisingly, our luggage was at our doors and it wasn't even 3:00. Took a spa tour and then went to a brief muster drill. Only took about 15 minutes. We requested early dinner, but were given late. We went to the maitre'd to get this changed. Yusef, the maitre'd, was on the Sensation when we cruised. He said on the first night you must eat in your assigned dining room. But, he would try to change our time. The next morning we had a note under our door saying we now had main dining. On the first night, we ate at a booth for four in the Destiny dining room. We like tables so we can meet others on cruises. Our food and service was great that night. Watched comedian Gene Merola tonight. He was good. We snacked at the midnight buffet, but were not very hungry due to the late supper.
Monday, day at sea. I like to jog and work out in the gym. I enjoyed doing both this week in great weather. Plenty for everyone to do on the Paradise. We ate breakfast in the Paris and did so the rest of the week because it was fast. We ate breakfast once in the dining rooom and it wasn't any better. We ate lunch in the Elation when at sea, but in the Paris when in ports. The Captain's Cocktail Party was held before dinner. We met Captain Gaetano Giglotti. Very captain-ish. This party was in the Normandie Lounge and included free cocktails. At dinner, now in the Elation, we were escorted to our new ocean-view table that was already inhabited by a family of five from Utah. They were quiet and enjoyed their meals just as we did. The show tonight was shout. We got there early and had good seats. Later in the week, we found that there are not a lot of good seats in the Normandie Lounge. Yes, the columns cause a lot of seats to have obstructed views. We dropped a little bit of money in the slots tonight. The casino was dead all week. I guess non-smokers do not gamble as mush as smokers. It sure was nice to leave the casino and not smell like a cigarette.
Day 3. Saw Cozumel when we went to breakfast. Oh no, rain. We decided to go to Chanakab whether or not it rained. Taxis are $5 one way into town, $8 one way to Chanakab. With this in mind, we decided to rent a car from one of the vendors that approached us as we left the shopping pier. We rented a VW from Enterprise for $30. This turned out to be a great decision, since we could go wherever we wanted to on the island and come and go to the ship as often as we wanted. The rain was now a light drizzle and came and went for the entire day. It did not spoil the day. Chanakab was nice, not spectacular. My wife enjoyed seeing the giant iguana. The snorkeling was fun. We all enjoyed watching the dolphin show up close. It suprised me that the sea lion show cost $5 more per person. Went back to the ship and had tacos for lunch. Shopped after lunch in town. Bought 1 liter bottles of Kahlua for $9.50. Found out later that RCI had a deal in the same store at $8.95 for their passengers. Blankets were 4 for $12. Bought other touristy items and a little jewlery. Drove to the uninhabited part of the island after shopping. Sure was a different world out there. Ate dinner in Paris, since we got back late. Tonight's show was the Mexican Folkloric Show. Lido deck party at 11:00 P.M. was moved inside due to bad weather (rain and wind). Mexican buffet was yummy.
Day 4, day at sea. Survivor challenge, Galley tour, bingo, Austin Powers dance class and a lot of sushine today. Show today was comedian Merl Hobbs and magician John Duffy. Wife got down to her last nickel and then won 300 nickels in the slots.
Day 5, Grand Cayman. Ship got into port a little late, so we were late getting to Captain Marvin's. No problem, our reservations were there and they moved us to the 3 stop tour from 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. Captain Kirk was our captain. We did see Captain Marvin. What a wonderful tour. There was only 10 people on the boat, including us. Not like the cattlecar tours from the ship. We held the stingray. Go to Stingray City and do the tour on your own. It was memorable and cost half of what Carnival charges. Shopped until 3:30, ship left at 4:30. Guest talent show tonight was mixed. Some good, some bad performances, but all had courage to get on stage. Lost some money in the slots.
Day 6, Ocho Rios. Raining again. Cruise director Trevor said prior to our arrival thhat it has only rained 3 times in the 7 years he's been coming to Jamaica. No problem, we're going to Dunn's River Falls to get wet anyways. Once again we're doing a tour on our own. Met Peat Taylor, but did not go on a tour with him since we only wanted to go to the falls. The cost is $5.50 per person payable in advance for a round trip to the falls. We really didn't want to shop, but the driver insisted on taking us to Soni's. Taj Mahal has the same stores, but he insisted on taking us to Soni's. Bought a few items there. Coffee for $12/lb. Rum is not cheap here. Another couple rode back with us to the ship. Said they went to the grocery store in town and bought a lot of spices there. They bought coffee, 1 lb. for $6.50. Red Stripe was $1. per bottle, Dragon beer was $0.40. Gave the driver a $5 tip when we got back. Then he said we owed him more money for going shopping. He said we owed him $22.00 more. Mr. Rip Off got no more. Show tonight was Dream Voyage featuring the Paradise dancers. Grand Gala Buffet was at midnight. Foods displays and ice scupltures were spectacular.
Day 7 was another sunny day at sea. Top deck was closed much of the day due to rough seas. There was a Holiday Show with Santa in the afternoon that was very nice. The show tonight was comedian Kyle Wayne and entertainer John Henry Gates. Kyle was hilarious, John was terrible.
Day 8, Miami. Enjoyed relaxation debarkation. You can now wait in your room until your tag color is called. We were off before 11:00 a.m. The taxi drivers did not want to take us to the Sheraton They want longer fares. We finally got a driver to take us. What a tgreat week!
Some final notes. Shore excursions are cheaper to do on your own. Trevor tries hard as a cruise director, but isn't very entertaining. The food was very good. Our waiter, Ruben from Honduras was very nice. Assistant waiter, Graciel from Brazil, was on her first cruise and tried hard to please us. She did please us Our cabin steward, did not measure up to the stewards on previous cruises. We had all we needed. The room was clean. He just was not motivated to please. We would come back to the room a couple hours after breakfast and the room still had not been cleaned. Nice fellow, just not hard working. We came out a little ahead in the casino for the week. I don't think the ship was full. Ruben said there would be many more passengers on board for Christmas. This is a great ship for non-smokers. I would definitely go on the Paradise again. We've only been on Carnival, may try RCI or Princess in the future. Carnival is great for the price.