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.
I took this shot just as the sun was setting for the day
We had fantastic weather during our cruise, so the pool area was very popular!
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.
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!
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 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!
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!
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.
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.
I stayed so busy on this short cruise that I never got the chance to try the waterslide myself.
It looked like fun, though!
I got a kick out of watching these kids launch water balloons at another team across the deck.
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:
A 6-pack of your favorite beverage, so you don't have to pay ship prices for it.
Two large plastic drink cups. (One for you, one for your roommate.) The drinking glasses that are provided in the cabins and in the Lido restaurant are frustratingly small! They don't even come close to holding the contents of one can of Coke. We always bring a couple of large plastic drinking cups along with us... to use when drinking our favorite beverage on our balcony, on the Serenity deck, or even at the Lido restaurant. Once I'm comfortable, I don't like having to get up to refill my beverage.
A watch or a travel clock. Activities start at certain times, so you will frequently want to know the current time.
A highlighter pen, to mark activities on the daily schedule that you are interested in.
A small flashlight, so you can stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night without disturbing your roommate by turning on all the lights in the room. It's also a handy thing to have with you in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Your MP3 player, so you can listen to your favorite music while you relax in the sun on deck. I'd also recommend noise-cancelling headphones for use with your MP3 player. There have been many times when I've been trying to relax on The Serenity Deck of a Carnival cruise ship when someone nearby was talking so loudly that all serenity had vanished. Noise-cancelling headphones and your favorite music on your MP3 player will bring the serenity back. Noise-cancelling headphones are also great if you are taking an airline flight to get to and from your cruise. They block out all the engine noise while you are watching the movie or listening to music.
Some $1 and $5 bills. Very handy for tipping the people who handle your luggage on embarkation day, and also for making small purchases in Mexico. Using American money in Mexican ports is almost never a problem, but using a large bill to make a small purchase can be a problem.
If you're in a full-time relationship with your laptop computer or iPad... be sure to bring it along! There's wi-fi available throughout the ship, even in your cabin. Internet service is slow and expensive, but it's worth it if you're one of those people that needs/likes to be connected to the net every day.
And I think this last one goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: DON'T FORGET TO BRING A SWIM SUIT!
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.
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:
Internet access throughout the ship, not just in the public areas. Loved it! It cost about 50 cents per minute, and it was worth every penny to me. Of the five cruise ships I've been on, this is the first that has had Internet access in our cabin.
The passenger terminal and facilities at the dock in Long Beach. Carnival recently spent $8 million to improve the facilities here, and they have really got a nice setup now! This is the state-of-the-art in cruise terminals.
The embarkation and debarkation process. Getting a couple of thousand passengers (and their luggage) on and off a ship at the same time is a process that can be problematic for some cruise lines. Carnival has got this process practically perfected. In five cruises, we have never had such an easy time getting on and off the ship as we did with our Carnival Paradise cruise. We arrived at the terminal at 11 AM and were enjoying lunch on the ship by noon. The debarkation process was even easier. We were in our car at 7:45 AM! A lot of people on the ship had barely woken up at that point!
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.
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.
The Cruise Ships We've Been On
If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading my web pages about:
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. (Soft drinks like Pepsi and Coke are OK to bring onboard in your luggage, and will not be confiscated.)
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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