Carnival Paradise
Cruise Review & Photos

Pictures and opinions about our April 2009 cruise to
Ensenada Mexico aboard the fun ship "Carnival Paradise"

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Carnival Paradise at night
The Carnival Paradise at night


To celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary, my wife and I decided to take a 3-day cruise on the Carnival Paradise.  This was our 5th cruise (4th with Carnival) and we had a fantastic time!  We sailed out of Long Beach, California, on Friday, April 3, 2009.  The ship visited Ensenada, Mexico, although my wife and I chose to just stay on the ship the whole time and not take any excursions in Ensenada.

Please enjoy a few pictures that I took during our cruise.  Every picture on this page is my original photo...  none are stock images or supplied by Carnival.  These photos were taken with my Canon Digital Rebel XSi camera.


Carnival Paradise at dusk
I took this shot just as the sun was setting for the day


a sunny day poolside on the Carnival Paradise
We had fantastic weather during our cruise, so the pool area was very popular!


The serenity deck on the Carnival Paradise
Rather than hang out at the main pool area (which is a high-energy place)
my wife and I spent several wonderful hours in this area at the back of the ship.
It's called the serenity deck.  It's a quiet place with no kids and no bar,
where you can just enjoy the sun without having to listen to a bunch of revelry.


Carnival Paradise sailing from Long Beach to Ensenada
If "serenity" is not what you're looking for and "fun" is...
the main pool area on the lido deck is definitely the place to be!


Carnival Paradise cabin E255 on the Empress Deck
We stayed in a somewhat unusual cabin, at the far back (aft) end of the ship.
Most ocean-view cabins on the Carnival Paradise have a regular window,
but our cabin's window was recessed back far enough to offer a small ledge you could sit on or in.
My wife liked sitting in the ledge of the window and reading or watching the view.
It's cabin # E255 on the Empress Deck.


the Queen Mary, in Long Beach, as seen from the Carnival Paradise
The Carnival Paradise docks at a pier in Long Beach that is right next to the Queen Mary,
the historic ocean liner that sailed the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line.
That white dome-shaped building on the left used to house Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" airplane.
Now it's the terminal facility where you check-in prior to your cruise.
Carnival just completed an $8 million remodel of these terminal facilities, and it's really nice now!


Comedian Seth Buchwald
At home, we don't get out much...  so one of the things we love about cruising is all the entertainment.
From broadway-style shows to goofy fun like the poolside hairy chest competition to stand-up comedy...
there's something for everyone on a Carnival cruise.
There were two comedians on our cruise.  This one, Seth Buchwald, was our favorite.
He had us laughing so hard at a late-night show that it was hard to get to sleep after!


Carnival Paradise promenade
This is a portion of "The Promenade"...  which is something like the cruise ship equivalent of a mall.
There are clubs, shops, bars, and lounges along the entire Promenade.
On the left, shoppers exit the $10 store...  on the right, kids check in to the Rex disco for a kids-only event.


Carnival Paradise Verandah deck
This is an interesting area up on the Verandah deck.
Kids play basketball while others enjoy lounging in the sun or in a small pool or a hot tub.


Carnival Paradise waterslide
I stayed so busy on this short cruise that I never got the chance to try the waterslide myself.
It looked like fun, though!


Kids having fun on Carnival Paradise
I got a kick out of watching these kids launch water balloons at another team across the deck.

Jim and Kellyn Zimmerlin
Here we are...  still "the happy couple" after 28 years of marriage!
I packed a tripod with me so I could be sure to get a shot of the two of us.
This was in "the American Bar".

The Carnival Paradise sails three to five day cruises.  Since these cruises are short and inexpensive, they are especially attractive to people who have never cruised before and aren't quite sure if they are going to like cruising enough to take a longer cruise.  On the chance that you've found this page because you are looking for information prior to taking your very first cruise...  let me tell you a few things that you might not know about cruising with Carnival.

First off, I can definitely say that you're going to love cruising.  I've talked to LOTS of people about cruising, and I've never heard from a single one who didn't enjoy it!  There's great food and entertainment, and a huge staff to do all the chores for you!  You don't have to cook or clean up a thing...  all you have to do is have fun.

But there are a few things someone should clue you in on before your first cruise!  For example, did you know that there is only ONE electrical outlet in each cabin?  If you are bringing several electrical devices with you, be sure to bring a 6-outlet power strip.  For example, this will allow you to charge the batteries on your digital camera, cell phone, and laptop computer overnight.

Other things to bring:

One thing that takes a little getting used to on a cruise is having cabin stewards coming in and out of your room.  Your cabin steward (and his assistant) are in charge of keeping your room clean, and keeping it stocked with everything you need from towels to ice.  Most people quickly learn to love having someone clean up after them...  but some people get a little annoyed at the interruptions.  It helps to understand your cabin steward's schedule, so you can adjust your schedule accordingly.

The cabin stewards will clean your room twice each day...  once in the morning (usually sometime between 8 AM and Noon) and once in the evening (usually between 6 PM and 9 PM).  If you don't want to be interrupted (for example, if you would like a nap...  or some "afternoon delight") there are a couple of things you can do to ensure your privacy.  The first and most important is proper use of the "cruisin'/snoozin'" door hanger.  This is like a "do not disturb" sign at a hotel...  but since this is a Fun Ship, the sign says SNOOZIN' on one side and CRUISIN' on the other.  Not only is it important to put the snoozin' sign out when you don't want to be disturbed...  but it's also important to put the cruisin' sign out when you're going to be away from your cabin for long periods of time.  It's a polite way of telling the cabin steward "this is your big chance to get in and clean up the room without having anybody in your way."  And by giving them that opportunity once each morning and once each evening, you'll keep them from interrupting you later when you want some privacy.

Carnival cabin door hangar - Cruising/Snoozing
Also note the little mailbox next to the door...
where your friends and family can leave you notes if they can't find you.
If you have any trouble remembering your cabin number,
place something unique in here to help you figure out which cabin is yours.

Next, I'd like to tell you about one of the most useful things we've learned after many cruises.  When you share a cruise ship with 3000 other passengers, you have to come up with ways to avoid the crowds.  I really don't think it's fun to share a hot tub with a bunch of strangers, so I make an effort to get to the hot tubs at times when the other passengers won't be there.  So, here's a trick that we use to have the hot tubs all to ourselves:

Most people pack their swimsuit in their suitcase, which they hand over to a porter on embarkation day so that the suitcase can be delivered to their cabin.  And the suitcases generally don't arrive at the cabins until late in the afternoon on embarkation day...  which means that most people can't get to their swimsuits on the afternoon of embarkation.  And that means that the hot tubs and swimming pools are fairly empty on embarkation day.  It presents a perfect opportunity!  What we do is wear our swimsuits under our clothes on embarkation day.  The first thing we do when we get on board the ship is have some lunch, and then after lunch we strip down to our swim suits and enjoy the hot tubs without anyone else being in them.  It works every time, and it's one of the few times during the week that you see the hot tubs without anyone else in them.  By the way, before you get in the hot tub, grab a towel up on the Lido deck by the main pool...  so that you can dry off when you're all done.

Here's another method we use to have the hot tubs all to ourselves:  6 PM is the most popular dinner time...  and most people are getting ready for dinner at 5:30 PM...  so that's a great time to head to the hot tubs.  If you have "your time dining" you can eat a little later, after you're done with the hot tubs.

While we're talking about beating the crowds... remember that if you try to eat a meal at the same time everybody else does, you're going to find the buffet very crowded.  So, try to adjust your schedule a little off-peak to avoid the crowds.  Get up a little earlier than everybody else to avoid the breakfast crowds.  Or eat lunch a little later than everybody else to avoid the lunch crowds.  The buffet is really crowded at 8 AM, but usually not at 7 AM.  And the lunch crowd is huge at 12:30 but not bad at all at 1:30 or 2 PM.

While all the larger Carnival ships have blow dryers and small refrigerators in the cabins, be aware that the Carnival Paradise does not.  I assume this is true for the other ships in Carnival's Fantasy-class, too.  The room steward will fill up your ice bucket twice a day, though.

You don't need to bring shampoo or soap...  it is provided.  But if you like to use conditioner on your hair, be sure to bring your own.

Clarification to what I said about there not being refrigerators or hair dryers in the cabins:
I was speaking of ocean-view cabins as well as interior cabins.  That's the vast majority of the cabins on the ship.  If you are fortunate enough to be staying in one of the category 11 or 12 suites, you will have a refrigerator and a blow dryer in your cabin...  and your bathroom will have a combination bath tub and shower.  All of the other cabins have showers, but not tubs.  Another nice perk for passengers who have booked a suite:  priority embarkation.  In other words, you get to bypass some of the lines in the check-in process...  which will allow you to get on the ship much quicker.  However, you have to be sure to get in the "VIP" line in the terminal to take advantage of this!

Having been on five different cruises, I did find that things on the Carnival Paradise were pretty much as I expected.  Carnival delivers a great vacation experience, at a very reasonable price!  The food, the entertainment, and the overall "fun factor" were all exactly as I've come to expect.

But even after four previous cruises, a few things still impressed and surprised me:

Speaking of the embarkation process...
Let me give you some advice.  If your goal is to get on the ship as early as possible, my advice is to arrive at the parking structure at approximately 11:30 AM.  This should put you onboard the ship somewhere around noon or so.  It's really pointless to get there much sooner than that.  Passengers are not allowed in to the terminal prior to 11 AM.  So, if you get there any earlier than that, you'll just wait in a line outside.  Once you get inside the terminal, you will go through the security search and then work your way through a line to the check-in desk.  After you have completed all this, you go up an escalator to the second level of the terminal...  and that's where the gangway is that takes you on to the ship.  Now here's the point:  they don't let passengers on to the gangway until noon.  So, there's no point in getting to the terminal when it first opens at 11 AM.  The security search and check-in processes do not take an hour.  If you complete them before noon, you will just end up waiting in a line for the gangway.  So, the goal is to get to the terminal early enough to finish up the check-in process right around noon.  Thus my recommendation that 11:30 is about right.  And if you're not concerned about being on the ship as early as possible and you're more concerned about spending as little time in lines as possible...  get to the parking structure closer to 1 PM.  The later you arrive, the less congested things will be in the terminal.

Please note that the Carnival Paradise underwent a refurbishment during dry dock in February, 2012.  Some things onboard may be upgraded from what is shown on this web page about our 2009 cruise.

Carnival Capers

Each day of the cruise, they publish a little newsletter that tells you information about what will be happening on the ship that day.  It's called "Carnival Capers".  If you've never cruised before, you'll find looking at a copy of Carnival Capers to be a great way to see the kinds of activities available onboard the ship.  I've scanned the Carnival Capers from each day of our cruise, as well as the shore excursion price list.  All are in .pdf format.

Carnival Capers - Friday, April 3rd
Carnival Capers - Saturday, April 4th
Carnival Capers - Sunday, April 5th
Shore excursion price list

Please be aware that these days, the daily newsletter is now known as the "Fun Times".  Also, the activities listed in these scanned documents reflect the activities offered during our 2009 cruise, but you will find that several improvements have been made in the activities offered onboard these days.  For example, there are more comedy shows offered these days than there used to be.

A Great Series Of Books About Cruise Ships

After you've been on at least one cruise, there's a book that you really should read!  It will give you a whole new perspective.  It's a book that was written by a guy that worked on several Carnival ships...  and he shares some funny stories about life on a cruise ship.  To give you a bit of an idea of what kind of book this is...  the story starts as he is staying in a hotel room in Miami, the night before his very first day working on a cruise ship.  Even though it's the day before his first day onboard, he's basically "on the job", so Carnival is paying for the room.  To save the company money, they don't give him a private room...  he shares it with someone else.  So, he checks in to the room, and the first thing he does is to take a nice long shower.  And when he's finally done with his shower, he discovers that his roommate has shown up...  and is in the middle of having sex with a woman right there in their shared hotel room!  Does that give you an idea of the kind of book this is?  Well, that's just the beginning...  and things get even more interesting on the ship!

If you've ever wondered what life is like for those people that work on cruise ships...  what kind of hours they work...  how much they're paid...  and what they do when they're not working...  this is the book for you.  The overall plot of the story is that the author, Brian Bruns, meets a girl named Bianca in Las Vegas and quickly falls head over heels in love with her.  It turns out that she's on vacation from her job as a waitress on the Carnival Conquest.  Soon enough, the vacation is over and Bianca heads back to the ship...  and Brian must make a decision about whether this was just a quick fling, or something more.  He decides it was something more, and takes a job with Carnival in order to be with Bianca.  Ship life is tough, and creates one roadblock after another between Brian and the girl he loves.

It's a huge love story that literally follows them all around the world.  If you just want to hear Brian's best inside stories about life on a cruise ship, you don't even need to read all four books...  just get the first one.  But if you find yourself loving all the dirty details of life on a cruise ship, and want more...  or if you get hooked on the love story and you want to find out whether ship life breaks up Brian and Bianca or whether there's a classic happy ending at the end...  buy all four.

  Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4  


Need A Travel Agent?

Booking a cruise can be confusing, especially if you haven't been on many cruises before.  There are lots of first-time cruiser mistakes that a travel agent can keep you from making.

If you're interested in booking a cruise with any cruise line...  please feel free to use the services of my travel agent, Caitlin Gallagher.  She's extremely pleasant to deal with, easy to talk to since she lives in the United States and speaks without any kind of an accent, and quite experienced and knowledgeable about different types of cruising.  Caitlin is the owner of Ambren Travel.  Visit her web site, check out the Ambren Travel Facebook page, or contact her using the information below.

The Cruise Ships We've Been On

If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading my web pages about:

The largest cruise ship in the world: Allure Of The Seas
The best cruise ship we've ever experienced: The Norwegian Getaway
Our April 2013 cruise on the newest ship in the fleet...  the Carnival Breeze
Our August 2012 cruise on the Carnival Magic
Our Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory
Our many cruises on the Carnival Spirit
Our February 2010 cruise on the Carnival Splendor
Our January 2008 cruise on the Carnival Elation
Our April 2008 cruise on the Norwegian Star
Our 1996 cruise on Carnival Cruise Line's MS Holiday

How To Smuggle Booze Onboard

The cruise lines are expecting to make some serious money from you at the bars onboard the ship.  The cost of one drink is typically over $10, and most people don't drink alone...  so that's over $20 just to share one nice drink with your sweetie.  After that first one, how about another?  And hey, this is not just a one day cruise...  well, you can see how the cost of liquor can really add up by the end of your cruise.

You can save a LOT of money by bringing your own liquor aboard.  However, the cruise line wants a monopoly on liquor sales, so they generally do not allow you to bring your own liquor aboard!  Every piece of luggage that is brought onboard is x-rayed, and if they spot something in the shape of a bottle...  they will open the bag and confiscate any alcohol.

To get around the high price of booze on a cruise, a lot of people DO bring their own liquor onboard.  The smart ones will disguise it so that it does not show up on the x-ray machine.  An easy way to do this is to use a "ShampBooze" flask...

Carnival Cruise Sounds

Have some fun with these!  Listen to the Carnival Cruise theme, or play the sound of a Carnival ship horn.

If you're a true cruise junkie, download the audio files (by right-clicking, and saving) and then set your computer to play the ship horn when you get a new email, and to play the theme song when the computer boots up and/or shuts down!

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