The eighth and final Fantasy class ship, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise was built in 1998. The public areas of this ship pay homage to vessels of years past, including the Blue Riband Library, in honor of the world’s fastest transatlantic ocean liner, and the Queen Mary lounge, for the flagship of the British Cunard Line. There’s also the Rex nightclub, named after the elegant Italian ship, and the Normandie main show lounge, in recognition of the first ship longer than 1,000 feet.
These details may be surprising for those who think of Carnival's ships more in terms of the party on board than a classic elegance. Which goes to show how much the line has changed in the two decades since Carnival Paradise first launched. The ship has gone through renovations, including an extensive refit in 2012 that added the Serenity adults-only area and the Punchliner comedy club. But you won't find any of the onboard spots that Carnival has become known for in recent years, such as Guy's Burger Joint or RedFrog Pub.
The low prices on sailings reflect that this is not the most updated ship in the fleet, and while there is still a party vibe, overall it is low-key ship in terms of the activities on board.
What We Love
Punchliner Comedy Club: Stand-up acts include both family-friendly acts early in the evening and (sometimes raunchy) adults-only performances late at night.
Seuss at Sea: Kids are entertained with Dr. Seuss stories and characters, including a parade, photo ops, and an optional (for-a-fee) Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast. Parents are also welcome, of course, to partake in stacks of red and white pancakes or French toast coated in colorful cereal.
Best Known For
Serenity Area: Situated on Deck 9 aft, this complimentary adults-only space has two hot tubs, lounge chairs, and (best of all) plenty of quiet.
Flexible Dining: You can opt for an assigned early or late dinner seating, or anytime dining, which lets you choose your eating time based on your activities for the day. If a meal in the formal dining room isn’t your thing, the Paris Bar & Grill buffet on the Lido Deck offers plenty of selections, including 24-hour pizza and ice cream. When you do try the main dining room, be sure to order Carnival’s signature warm chocolate melting cake for dessert.
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Who It's Best For
First-Timers: Carnival Paradise does short four- and five-day sailings to the Western Caribbean out of Tampa, with one or two port calls. If you’re new to cruising, this is a great first ship.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Getting to Your Dining Room Can Be Tricky: Finding your way around the ship can feel needlessly complicated. For example, if you’re assigned to eat dinner each night in the Destiny dining room on Deck 8, you’ll have to navigate to the back of the ship on Deck 7 or 9 to get beyond the galley and the Elation dining room in the middle of Deck 8.
Bring (Some of) Your Own Products: Shampoo and body wash are provided in each shower, but you’ll want to pack body lotion and conditioner.
Lana Gates is a Phoenix-based contributing writer for ShermansCruise.
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Carnival Paradise at a Glance
- Line: Carnival Cruise Line
- Class: Fantasy
- Number of Passengers: 2052
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 1998
- Refurbish Date: 2012