Launched in 1998, passengers aren't cruising aboard Carnival Paradise for its snazzy new, over-the-top features. Instead, the Fantasy-class ship has created plenty of happy customers by delivering the experience Carnival is known for: friendly service and a fun-filled vacation at a bargain price.
Although we love Carnival Paradise for its laid-back, fun atmosphere, the ship isn't without its drawbacks; even though its capacity is 2,124 guests at double occupancy (a few hundred fewer passengers than some of its younger sister ships), Paradise feels crowded. Being an older ship, the Carnival Paradise deck plans have a more traditional design, with most of the action smack in the middle of the ship, making the central indoor promenade congested at times. Trying to find a quiet place can be challenging, but Paradise does have some quiet nooks like the adults-only Serenity area on Deck 9, soothing spa and fabulous library. There are also fewer restaurants on Carnival Paradise than on larger ships: a buffet, two main dining rooms, a couple of free specialty venues, and a couple of for-fee cafes sprinkled throughout the ship.
Despite Carnival Paradise’s size (855 feet), it’s not hard to learn – or at least guess with a high chance of success – where things are onboard. Cabins take up decks 4 (Riviera), 5 (Main), 6 (Upper), and 7 (Empress), plus compact sections on decks 11 (Verandah) and 14 (Grand). Plus, color coding on hallways makes it easy to find your cabin. The rest of the decks house the ship’s dining and entertainment venues and the pools. You’ll probably know your way around Paradise within 24 hours of boarding.
Carnival Paradise was refurbished in 2018, adding some of the features found in newer Carnival ships, including a large waterpark, a mini-golf course, and upgraded kids’ and teens’ clubs. The renovation also added multiple staterooms and balconies to existing ocean-view cabins. New dining venues include two of Carnival’s most-loved restaurants: Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina.
Despite the upgrades (or maybe because of them), it's difficult to pinpoint a theme for Carnival Paradise's decor because there are places where it feels like flashy Art Deco, and other areas where it is more subdued and contemporary. There are nods to nautical history throughout, and thrown in the mix are columns with turquoise Russian eggs perched on top. Don't overanalyze it; the ship's charm comes from a combination of it all.
Still, what Carnival Paradise lacks in consistent appearance it makes up for with a packed activity schedule that gets everyone involved. The ship also shines with its entertainment, including theater productions, dancing and live music: It’s difficult not to get caught up in the upbeat energy. If you’re going on a cruise to have a good time, you will do just that onboard Paradise.
For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard Carnival Paradise, please refer to Carnival’s Health and Safety protocols. You can also use Cruise Critic's guide to health requirements on the world’s major cruise lines as we know them.
· Meals in the main dining room and buffet, and at Guy's Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina; also soft serve ice cream from Swirls
Shows in the main theater, plus deck parties and live music around the ship
Use of the Carnival WaterWorks splash park and waterslides and mini-golf
Use of the fitness center, excluding classes and personal training
Most daily activities, unless otherwise noted
Access to the adults-only Serenity sun deck area
Use of Carnival's Camp Ocean kids club until 10 p.m. for children aged 2 to 17
· Daily gratuities (amounts vary depending on cabin type)
Automatic gratuity on beverage purchases, as well as spa and salon treatments (18 percent for both)
All drinks with the exception of water, tea, coffee and select juices in the buffet
Select room service items, plus pizza delivery
Meals in most specialty restaurants
All spa treatments, along with most fitness classes and personal training
Activities like bingo, liquor and wine tastings, and Build-A-Bear workshops
Photos, portraits and artwork
Purchases from onboard shops
After-hours babysitting in the Camp Ocean Kids Club
Most of the passengers on Paradise are from Florida and the East Coast, but plenty of cruisers fly in from other parts of the United States as well as from Canada and Europe. Although there are some older couples onboard, the primary age group is below 55. There are a lot of families traveling together (especially when the kids are off from school), and many are repeat Carnival passengers. No matter their age or where they came from, most passengers are on Carnival to let their hair down and try new things.
Daytime: Carnival Paradise is a casual ship, so T-shirts and shorts are perfectly fine to wear during the day.
Evening: Many passengers dress up a tad more for dinner in the dining rooms, but you'll likely come across some people wearing shorts. The recommended Cruise Casual dress code for dinner is khakis, jeans and collared shirts for men; or summer dresses, capris and nice blouses for women. There is one formal night on shorter voyages (two to five nights) and two on cruises of six or more nights. On these nights, dining room attire changes to Cruise Elegant, where dress shirts and slacks, a sport coat, tie or even a tuxedo are recommended for men; and cocktail dresses, pantsuits, skirts and blouses or evening gowns are suggested for women. From what we observed, it seemed the majority of people stepped it up a notch on Cruise Elegant nights, but we didn't see many tuxedos or elaborate gowns. The buffet remains Daytime Casual in the evenings.
Not permitted: The cruise line prohibits cutoff jeans, men's sleeveless shirts, gym shorts, baseball hats, flip-flops and bathing suit attire in the dining room.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival.
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Had a blast, but the Paradise leaves a lot to be desired!