Carnival Paradise is the second-oldest ship in Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet. However, despite the fact that this ship made its debut before the turn of the last century, it still holds its own. Carnival is making sure it stays relevant to modern cruisers, with a recent refurbishment that just wrapped up in October 2023.
So, if you’re going to be on a Carnival Paradise cruise in the near future and you’re worried the ship’s age might make your experience less than ideal, don’t be. There are still things to love about Carnival Paradise. Here’s what you need to know, though, both the good and the not-so-good.
Here’s how Carnival Paradise measures up:
Gross Tonnage: 71,925
Length: 855 feet
Decks: 11 (for passengers)
Staterooms: 1,062 (inclusive of suites)
Passenger capacity: 2,124 (double occupancy)
As you can see, Carnival Paradise, which is a Fantasy-class vessel, is hardly a “big” ship. In fact, compared to Carnival Cruise Line’s new Excel-class and Vista-class, Carnival Paradise is tiny.
Carnival Paradise is less than half the size of Carnival Celebration, at 71,925 and 183,521 gross tons, respectively. What does this mean for you? Well, a few things.
For starters, the ship will be more intimate. This is good for some cruisers. It means less stress trying to navigate the ship, fewer overall crowds and no more FOMO or choice paralysis when you just can’t decide which restaurant to dine at and there aren’t enough meals in your cruise to fit them all in.
However, for those who love the big, resort feel of a mega ship, they might miss the near-endless options available on some of today’s newer vessels.
Built at Masa-Yards in Helsinki, Finland, Carnival Paradise debuted in 1998, after a christening from godmother Paula Zahn. The ship cost $300k to build, which is a minimal amount compared to today’s cruise ship price tags.
When it was built, the ship was known as the very first non-smoking cruise ship in the entire world. While smokers may find it difficult to find a spot to light up on today’s cruises, that wasn’t the case about two decades ago, so this status made Carnival Paradise stand out in a big way.
Unfortunately, cruisers didn’t like this feature all that much (possibly because any passenger found smoking or owning any smoking paraphernalia was fined $250 and then dropped off at the next port) and Carnival discontinued the smoke-free policy after five years, citing revenue reasons.
That wasn’t the end of Carnival Paradise’s unique features, though. Later on in the ship’s life, it was outfitted with the very first Earth-friendly dry-cleaning system found on a cruise ship. The system used environmentally safe detergents and limited chemical runoff.
Over its long life (25 years!), Carnival Paradise has undergone a large series of refurbishments and renovations, with scheduled dry docks and maintenance starting as early as 1999 and taking place every few years or so.
Major renovations occurred in 2008, when Carnival added features that many Carnival cruise ships still boast today, such as the Circle C teens club and Serenity adults-only area.
In 2018, in the Bahamas, the cruise line added a 14th deck and nearly 40 cabins to the ship, as well as a range of branded venues that Carnival fans know and love. These additions include Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Camp Ocean and WaterWorks.
Most recently, in October 2023, in Freeport in the Bahamas, the ship underwent further extensive renovations that upcoming cruisers will appreciate. Over more than two weeks, Carnival reimagined the Serenity adults-only space, as well as the piano bar and spa, and expanded the casino. Bonsai Sushi Express and JavaBlue Café were added to the ship as well.
The staterooms aboard Carnival Paradise can be broken down as such:
420 interior staterooms
466 ocean-view staterooms
98 balcony staterooms
Regardless of which stateroom you stay in, you’ll enjoy standard amenities that include:
Individual climate control
Carnival’s Signature Bedding
A hair dryer
Non-stocked mini bar
So what can you expect in these staterooms? If you book an interior stateroom, you’ll have three further options to choose from:
The standard interior stateroom comes outfitted with a double bed, small desk area and standard bathroom with a small shower. The interior upper/lower staterooms are more budget-friendly, because they come with a single bed plus a Pullman or sofa bed. The porthole interior staterooms feature two portholes on one side of the cabin. While you won’t get much of a view, you will still get some extra natural light.
Regardless of which interior stateroom you book, though, expect very basic, somewhat outdated décor, with light wood and a creamy patterned wallpaper.
Ocean-view rooms include scenic and standard ocean-view rooms. Scenic is the way to go for a truly spectacular experience, with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows that make it feel like there’s hardly anything between you and the ocean. Standard ocean-view rooms feature small, rectangular windows on one side of the cabin. Rooms are just slightly larger than the interior rooms.
Balcony rooms include standard balcony rooms and aft-view extended balcony rooms. The latter comes with a larger balcony. Regardless of which you pick, though, expect the far wall of your cabin to be taken up by a small, square window and a glass door beside it.
Unfortunately, unlike what you’ll see on some newer, other cruise ships, the balcony is not accessed by a sliding glass door that takes up most of the wall, for better views.
Suites aboard Carnival Paradise include the following options:
48 junior suites with standard balconies
28 grand suites with large balconies
2 grand vista suites with large balconies
When booking a suite, you’ll enjoy extra amenities, including…
Priority check-in and boarding
Priority Main Dining Room time assignment
Two large bottles of water
Suites are slightly more modern in décor and style than the staterooms, with upgraded wallpaper, carpeting and furniture.
Do note that if you book a junior suite, some do come with obstructed views, so you may find that, when you sit out on your balcony, you’re staring at a lifeboat instead of the ocean. Overall, junior suites offer more room, with sitting areas, larger bathrooms and more floor space.
Grand suites feature more floor space as well, with sitting areas, an actual bathtub rather than just a shower, and big windows overlooking the balconies.
The grand vista suites are your best option, though, with large, floor-to-ceiling windows and walk-in closets. Additionally, while the other suites on the ship can’t really be considered “suites,” since they’re still all one room, just bigger, the grand vista suite does attempt to delineate its separate spaces more so, with a half-wall blocking the sitting area from the bed.
Ready to grab a bite? You’ll have a handful of options aboard Carnival Paradise. Choose from…
Guy’s Burger Joint, for casual eats created by Guy Fieri
BlueIguana Cantina, for Mexican dining
Lido Marketplace, the ship’s buffet
Pizza Pirate, for fresh pies to placate your cravings
Swirls, for a sweet and frosty treat
Sweet Spot, for more delectable dining
Elation Restaurant, the first of two main dining rooms
Destiny Restaurant, the second of two main dining rooms
If the above isn’t enough to satiate your appetite during your cruise, you do have more options for dining if you’re willing to spend a little more. Specialty restaurants on Carnival Paradise include…
Bonsai Sushi Express, for quick, Japanese-inspired bites
JavaBlue Café, for specialty coffee and treats
And that’s it. Unfortunately, the dining options are few on Carnival Paradise, but that’s what you get with an older, smaller ship. You can also pay for room service or pizza delivery.
Luckily, there are a few more bars and lounges you can visit, if you want to have a quick (or not-so-quick) drink. These include…
RedFrog Rum Bar, for all your favorite rum-based beverages
BlueIguana Tequila Bar, for Mexican-inspired libations
Rex Dance Club, for an adults-only, club-like space
Rotterdam Bar, for cocktails on the promenade
The Leonardo Lounge, for live music nightly
United States Bar, for games and music
The Majestic Casino Bar, for drinking while you gamble
The American Piano Bar, for piano sing-alongs while you drink
Grand Atrium Plaza and Bar, for sipping while you people watch
You can also order beverage service at several venues around the ship, such as from the Serenity adults-only area or in the Punchliner comedy club.
So, what do you do when you’re aboard Carnival Paradise? We have a few suggestions.
Don’t think that just because you’re aboard a cruise ship that you have to stay indoors all day in order to avoid the crowds. That’s not the case at all. There are loads of outdoor spaces on this ship for you to enjoy, and cruisers have lots of room to stretch out and relax.
There’s one main pool on the Lido Deck with tons of loungers for everyone. The newly-added Waterworks water park gives families with small children splash areas, and adventurous kids young and old some water slides.
For adults-only relaxation in the sun, go to the Serenity adults-only deck on Deck 9. There are lots of loungers and whirlpools. Better yet, this adults-only space is completely complimentary, so you don’t have to pay extra to access it and get a little peace and quiet.
If you’d rather stay nice and dry, but you still want to have some fun in the sun, you can play a game of mini-golf, basketball, shuffleboard, corn hole, ping pong or even chess, as Deck 14 has a huge, larger-than-life chessboard along with these other sporting areas.
Normandie is Carnival Paradise’s huge theater, filled with comfy, big seats. A bar and cocktail waiters cater to show-going guests, so you can enjoy a libation or two during the big event.
You can catch a different show every night, and there are two showings per night, so you can for sure fit one into your busy schedule of fun.
If you’re not into the theater, the space also hosts seminars, lectures, bingo, and game shows throughout cruises. There are also other forms of nightly entertainment, including the Piano Bar, where guests can sing along all night long.
There truly is always something to do aboard Carnival Paradise, no matter the day or time. Daytime activities include classes, from fitness classes to courses related to whatever destination you happen to be traveling to, so you can learn a little bit about the city or island before your arrival. Trivia and games are plentiful. Auctions are also held, and you can find live music just about anywhere.
If parents and kids want to go their separate ways during the cruise, Carnival makes it possible.
Camp Ocean offers something for all kiddos ages 2 to 11, with a marine-themed camp program that’s available to families free of charge. There are also after-hours babysitting services for those ages six months to 11 years, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Circle C is a teen club for ages 12 to 14, with scheduled activities suitable to that age group. For those just a little older, Club O2 caters to those ages 15 to 17.
Operating from Tampa, Florida, Carnival Paradise offers short cruises throughout the Caribbean. These itineraries are just the right length to give you a taste of the cruising life, while also giving you just enough time to explore all of this small ship before you run out of new things to do.
While, yes, Carnival Paradise is the second-oldest ship in Carnival’s fleet, thanks to recent renovations, it’s just as fun for families and other cruisers as a ship half its age.
Whether this is your first time cruising and you just want to see what all the fuss is about, or you’re looking for a smaller ship experience, but still with plenty to keep the kids occupied, Carnival Paradise delivers.
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