October 3, 2002
We flew in a day early (Wednesday Oct. 2nd) to hang out with the "beautiful people" in South Beach. We stayed at the Best Western Marina Bay it was nice. They had all the roads partially blocked off due to the car races having their time trials this weekend. We checked in to our room, walked over to the Bayside Marketplace and had lunch at Bubba Gumps - very good! We then took a cab over to South Beach; the beach is absolutely gorgeous! We walked the whole length of the beach, some very interesting sights! We sat at the News Café and watch the "beautiful people" walking by until early evening. We then went over to Senior Frog's and bought t-shirts and caught a cab back to the hotel. We decided not to go to Mango's, as we would have been exhausted for our first night on the cruise.
We took a cab to the pier about 10:30 a.m.; we had to show our cruise documents at the toll before they would allow our cab driver into the pier area. It was a little hectic at the pier since the Paradise was still disembarking from the 11-day cruise it had just completed. It was fantastic not having to travel the first day of our cruise, I think I'll be planning all my future cruises this way. We started boarding around 11:45 a.m., found our room (E115) very quickly. We loved the location of our room, down the hall from the Internet Café, the Paradise Bar, Purser's office and the Photo Gallery.
St. Thomas was beautiful. We took a cab over to Sapphire Beach; since it was Sunday the beach was very quiet. We spent the whole day there.
St. Lucia was pretty; I wasn't feeling well, so we only went to the stores near the ship. Man was it HOT that day!
Barbados, we went through Carnival on the cave tour, it was really interesting. We found out later that we could have done it for HALF the price on our own. Carnival claims the tour is 2.5 hours; our tour was 1.5 hours so we had the bus driver drop us off downtown to do some shopping. We ended up finding a store that sold all silver - VERY INEXPENSIVE.
Martinique felt like downtown Boston! I couldn't believe all the traffic. We took a cab to the flea market, bought a few gifts, walked to the end of the main street and back, walked down the side street found a PEPSI! You would think we struck gold we were so happy to just sit and have a Pepsi (not a Coke). Contrary to what I had heard not one person was rude to us. I was totally shocked!
St Maarten rained all day. We walked to Front Street, walked the whole length down one side and up the other. We didn't buy anything but it killed some time. I can't believe how built up St. Maarten is now compared to 1984. I really missed going to Orient Beach, but I'm sure I'll be back again someday.
We have been on 14 cruises (10 with Carnival) and somehow we always end up frequenting the bar outside the Casino the most. We found the United States Bar entertainment (Bobby Calabrese) was excellent, we even bought his CD. We loved "The Highlights", what a voice! We probably would have spent more time in the Queen Mary Lounge except it was always soooo cold. The Calypso band "Kooshall" was fantastic, the best Lido deck band we've every seen. We had early (6:15 p.m.) dinner and we still had a very difficult time getting decent seats for the early shows, so we missed most of the shows. I was surprised at the amount of poles in the Normandie Lounge; I thought most of the newer ships had solved that problem. The comedian Freddie Roman was good; we met him the night before at the United States Bar he even mentioned us in his act! He's even funnier in a one to one conversation. Before dinner we would partake in adult refreshments at the Paradise Bar located in the Atrium!
The Mozart Trio was excellent. We met Jon and Janelle along with Harley their dog. We asked Jon where Harley goes ... He stated that Deck 6 in the Crew Only area is known as the "poop deck". Jon also stated that considering the Paradise is a fairly new ship there wasn't any Braille in the elevators or on the cabin numbers. I found that very odd since some of the older ships have Braille. If Janelle wanted to get around on her own she would have an extremely difficult time finding her cabin. I sent Jon the Carnival president's e-mail address when I got home since I had discovered it on the cruisecritic.com message board.
We played Bingo most days and nights, this is the first Carnival cruise that I didn't win at Bingo. We did win a 24-Carat gold plastic ship on a stick playing trivia with Kevin (social host) then we won more playing "win lose or draw" (bye Kevin aka Billy Idol hope you come back on another Carnival ship). The Newlywed/Not So Newlywed game was quite the sight! Too bad the Video Diary was non-existent on this ship that tape would have sold out that night. We couldn't get into the talent show - no seats, just as well, we heard Josh Riffe the cruise director was doing 10 minutes in-between each act, instead of doing his 10 minutes in the beginning, introducing the acts, and his 5 minutes at the end. People said it got really boring.
I read another persons review and he complained about the stained carpets, I'd like to know what kind of carpet could hold up to this abuse. The Paradise is 4 yrs. old with 2400 passenger a week, 52 weeks a year that would come to roughly 500,000 passengers that have been on her. Considering how many passengers (and crew!) have been on the ship, she's in great shape. There was always someone dusting and cleaning. This persons review also complained about a broken mirror, patched with masking tape, which stayed that way for the entire ten days - this is true, but seriously, when did they start having glass companies on cruise ships???
Our waiter was excellent, his teammate was not, and we almost fell off our chairs when we found out he had been doing this for 9 yrs. We thought the food was just ok, we have had better on other Carnival ships. Our Maitre'd Mr. V. was phenomenal, he was everywhere, we would see him in the morning on the Lido deck checking the coffee machines, two minutes later we saw him help clean up after a large group had left quite a mess, we saw him patting one of the busboys on the back telling him he's doing a great job, we saw him every night in the dining room vs. just the "envelope" night. The photographers were very good I really liked the black/white pictures the best. We found all the bartenders and waiters very friendly, and bored. This ship has a reputation for being a little more laid back and less of a "party" ship.
We had a GREAT time, even though I had a bad cold all week, we loved the no smoking aspect. We have loved all of our cruises and for us there is no such thing as a bad cruise. We thoroughly enjoy our vacations; life is what you make of it and how you choose to react to certain situations, especially situations you have no control over.
We're already thinking of our next cruise, I think it's going to be to Hawaii. Does anybody have any suggestions as to which cruise line or ship?