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. In the summer of 2017, Paradise added a new reason for cruisers to set sail when it joined the fray of cruise ships making the journey to Havana. It is one of two cruise ships currently sailing to Cuba from Tampa.
The ship isn't without its drawbacks; even though it carries significantly fewer passengers (2,052) than some of its younger siblings, Paradise feels crowded. Being an older ship, it has 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 Carnival and fabulous library.
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. 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 Paradise lacks in consistent appearance it makes up for in nonstop, daily activities that get everyone involved. Passengers sailing to Havana will be especially impressed with the Cuba-themed programs. From deck parties and performances from Cuban musicians to enriching shore excursions and onboard educational lectures, Carnival does an excellent job feeding passengers' curiosity about the island.
Paradise 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.
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.
Elation is the seventh of Carnival's eight Fantasy-class vessels (debuting in 1998), and went through a significant upgrade in 2009.
Smaller ship with a fun and family-friendly atmosphere: highlights include short warm-weather itineraries, a waterslide and mini-golf; carries about 2,500 people.
Fun, friendly vibe with a packed lineup of daily activities, nightly comedy, energetic stage shows, silly pool deck fun, and a multi-slide waterpark.
Family-friendly, 2,100-passenger ship, based full-time in Sydney, has the Green Thunder water slide, great dining, free poolside food, lively entertainment and fun crew.
Lively and fun with a dizzying art-through-the-centuries decor, nightly standup comedy, two waterslides, four pools, and lots of bars and lounges; can carry about 2,500.
More than 2,600 passengers can enjoy the Green Thunder slide, Serenity Retreat for adults, Playlist Production music shows and excellent kids activities.
Unpretentious vibe with pool-centric fun and water slide, plus Hairy Chest and Mr. and Mrs. Conquest contests; also 11 bars and 9 eateries; carries about 3,500.
Lively entertainment and activities include nightly stand-up comedy, high-energy Playlist Production stage shows, twister water slide, and a nonstop schedule of daily activities.
Fun, family-friendly ship focused on Carnival signatures like the high-energy Playlist Production shows, nightly comedy, RedFrog Pub and line dancing deck parties.
Fun, laid-back and friendly; highlights include nightly comedy, high-energy stage shows, twister water slide and the popular RedFrog Pub; holds about 3,500.
Can hold upward of 4,000 passengers; features indoor/outdoor pool with retractable dome, Twister water slide, mini-golf and just one extra-fee restaurant.
Fun, friendly vibe; features Guy Fieri's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, family-friendly and adult stand-up comedy, nightly karaoke, water park and mini-golf.
Holds about 4,000; highlights include water slides, the RedFrog Pub, two-bathroom family cabins that hold up to five, a ropes course and Carnival's signature fun.
Nonstop activities and attractions include top deck water park and ropes course, 4D Thrill Theater and nightly standup comedy; can hold up to 4,700 cruisers.
Fun and friendly with nightly stand-up comedy and short, energetic stage shows, plus a calorie-packed burger joint from celeb chef Guy Fieri; holds about 3,500.
Holds a bit more than 4,000 passengers; offers a waterpark, suspended-in-midair recumbent bike thrill ride, ropes course and the first IMAX cinema at sea.
Carnival's newest megaship, holding some 4,000 passengers, launches April 2018; highlights include new barbeque/brewery and Teppanyaki restaurants, an IMAX movie theater, waterpark, beer brewery and ropes course.
A completely reimagined ship, Carnival Sunrise is Carnival Triumph transformed with new venues, entertainment options, and a whole new Fun Ship look.