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 theatre 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.
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.
When Paradise was built, the trend in the cruise industry was to put theatres, like the Normandie, above the water line and use blackout curtains to keep it dark. It is a beautiful space with Art Deco-styled geometric designs, a gold ceiling and orange and purple carpeting -- not to mention some of the most comfortable theatre seats we've encountered with individual drink trays attached. (Carnival knows their audience.) The theatre is two stories with a bar and cocktail waiters, plus a handful of half-circle booths with colourful glass mosaic cocktail tables.
The enormous stage hosts imaginative shows in the evening with a talented cast. We found that each evening they seemed to get better, but "80s Pop" and "Amor Cubano," (a Cuban-themed musical) were our favourites. There are two show times each evening, corresponding with the early and late dining times, and shows were well attended. Fun fact: After the late show on the first night the cruise director leads a parade of passengers to the bars on the promenade, with brief singing and line-dancing stops at the Atrium Bar to keep things moving. It works: The promenade deck stays busy late into the night and sets the tone for the cruise.
During the day, the theatre hosts bingo, shopping seminars, the "Love and Marriage" show (which tests how well audience members know their spouses), general cruise informational sessions and lectures. The cruise also hosts one "HASBRO, the Game Show" event in the theatre, a life-sized version of favourite board games.
There is always something going on aboard Carnival Paradise, with many passengers getting in the spirit and participating in activities. In the morning, there are exercise classes like yoga, stretching and abs to get the day started, followed by educational classes; on our cruise, these consisted of learning about herbal remedies, Cuban culture and basic Spanish lessons. Cuban-related classes, including the Spanish lessons are only offered on sailings that stop in Havana. A Cuba Q&A is also typically offered on the first sea day of sailings that call there; there was so much vital information included we almost feel it should be mandatory.
The bars and lounges host interactive board games plus plenty of trivia ranging from Harry Potter to Elvis -- complete with giant, colourful "pie" slices from the Trivial Pursuit game -- plus versions of Yahtzee, Scattergories and Cranium.
Other afternoon activities include a Champagne art auction (a cruising tradition), casino tournaments and fitness, spa and shopping seminars. Dance classes like Zumba and salsa get passengers moving, and live music on the Lido Deck stage keeps the atmosphere lively for pool-goers. The Lido stage is also home to ice sculpture carving and the "hairy chest competition" -- two traditional activities on any Carnival sailing.
In addition to the theatre shows, cruisers can head over to the Queen Mary Lounge (a secondary theatre), for both PG-rated and adult-only comedy shows.
The Majestic Casino is another happening place, and has about 15 table games like roulette, "Let it Ride" poker and blackjack as well as approximately 80 slot machines and cash-grab machines. The casino is the centre point of the ship and was fairly crowded on sea days and in the evenings. Be aware that smoking is allowed at select machines and tables in the casino.
The majority of the entertainment is on the indoor Promenade Deck, but on our sailing the Paradise crew did host a special "Havana Nights" outdoor deck party one evening with the theatre performers, line dancing and Latin dance music. (Sailings that do not go to Cuba offer a different themed deck party.) Paradise did not offer movies under the stars or other themed events (although longer cruises do have more than one deck party).
Carnival does a great job of keeping the party atmosphere going and the extensive Cheers extra-fee drink package helps this along. A large variety of tropical cocktails are available like classic margaritas and mojitos, as well as a daily special for discounts on drinks like berry and vodka cocktails and variations of rum punch. As the pulsing entertainment hub, Deck 9 is packed with people (and an abundance of photographers) but even when the bars were empty, drink service was slow. The RedFrog Rum Bar and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar were added during a 2018 refurb, now providing lido deck libations.
Atrium Bar (Deck 7): Located in front of the shore excursions and guest relations desks, the Atrium Bar rests on the lower level of the lovely six-story, glass-domed atrium. The horseshoe-shaped bar is rarely empty, but calmer and more sophisticated than some of the others on the Promenade, making it perfect for a glass of wine and conversation.
America Piano Bar (Deck 8): The theme here is obvious with red, white and blue stained-glass walls, starry carpeting and oversized porthole "windows" with bronze sculptures of iconic American images like the Old West and the swamps of Florida. The central piano is enclosed by seats so guests can sit around and sip on musically named drinks and throw their song requests into the jar for the piano player. This was one bar that wasn't as crowded.
United States Bar (Deck 9): Not to be confused with the America Piano Bar, the United States Bar is almost always a happening place, sandwiched in the Promenade hallway of Deck 9, just behind the casino. Guests often face the barstools outward to watch a live band, dance competitions or karaoke on the small hallway stage area. It's also one of the few places indoors on Carnival Paradise where you can smoke (at the very end of the bar).
Leonardo Lounge (Deck 9): A hub for live Latin music, the lounge is also where salsa dance lessons are held. The walls have copper- and bronze-coloured murals of Greek mythology, and there's a decent-sized stage and dance floor to keep things lively.
Rex Nightclub (Deck 9): Just a few steps from the Leonardo Lounge, the decor in this club feels straight out of the 90s -- but it works. Cheetah prints and stripes cover every inch of the club, and there is plenty of seating if you need a break from dancing. The entire rear area of the club (almost separate from the action) is a large lounge area full of cocktail tables, although few people used it. The club was always popular with a range of modern hits and theme nights (70s, 80s, etc.).
Queen Mary Lounge (Deck 9): Spanning the entire width of the ship, the Queen Mary Lounge is home to Carnival's Punchliner comedy shows, movie nights and karaoke; as well as a few daytime activities like seminars and Build-a-Bear workshops. We caught all the comedy shows, and although they were enjoyable, the comedians were average.
The lounge has a sophisticated feel, with seating that caters to larger groups with comfortable, circular booths as well as a handful of smaller, two-person bench seats. The bar here is massive and stretches across the rear of the room, so passengers can also take in the shows from a barstool.
Rotterdam Martini Bar (Deck 9): In keeping with the classic ship names, the Rotterdam Martini Bar is just outside the Queen Mary Lounge, and is perfect for a drink (particularly speciality vodka martinis) before a show. This bar was far less crowded than some of the others. A stairwell leads down to the Destiny dining room, and cocktail tables are situated in front of the windows.
Paris Bar (Deck 10): This bar is located in the back of the Paris Restaurant, and serves the buffet crowd. It's also the closest bar to the adults-only Serenity sun deck -- just one deck up.
RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 10): If a pina colada is calling your name, make a beeline for the Rum Bar, where all your tropical favourites -- blended or straight up -- are made with your choice of rum. A midday fruity cocktail is an easy whim to appease, with RedFrog's prime location right off the pool. Carnival's RedFrog ale is also available on tap.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10): Also on the pool deck is a bar for those looking to down a shot of tequila or two on their cruise. Flights are available in addition to a variety of refreshing frozen margaritas.
Pour Your Own Beer Station (Deck 10): This digital machine lets guests swipe their card and pour a pint of icy-cold Miller Light beer -- without having to wait for a bartender. Oddly, the machines turn off at 9:30 p.m. The stations are located within the Paris Restaurant.
Carnival Paradise has just one main pool on its Lido Deck, which is the gathering place for most cruisers on sea days. The music is constant, and there are plenty of lounge chairs (including on the deck directly above it) and towel rental stations. There are also some tables and chairs that are out of direct sunlight, and two small and crowded whirlpools. In a 2018 refurbishment, the Deck 11 aft pool was replaced with Carnival's signature Waterworks water park, featuring splash areas and water slides. This lesser-crowded area has no break from the sun, but has great views off the back of the ship.
Carnival Waterworks offers a number of water slides and as well as a splash area to enjoy, but most are geared toward children. The mini-racers are two small, side-by-side slides for kids 3 feet and taller. Two regular-sized racing slides are just above them, in green and orange. To the left is the bendy yellow Twister slide.
Paradise also has a nine-hole mini-golf course on Deck 14 (just above the spa and fitness area) in jazzy, bright colors and affording great views over the Lido Deck and over the sides of the ship. Nearby is one lonely basketball hoop and a couple of shuffleboard courts that didn't get much use. Next to the main pool is a giant chessboard, cornhole (beanbag toss) and table tennis, which were all popular.
On either side of the funnel at the back of the ship is a small, lesser-known sun deck (Deck 11) with reclining deck chairs that also sees partial shade, depending on what side you're on.
Hidden behind the Queen Mary Lounge (also accessible through the rear stairs of the Paris Restaurant) is the free-access, adults-only Serenity Deck on Deck 9 that's designed as a quiet reprieve. This deck has two additional whirlpools and a handful of cushioned lounge chairs with umbrellas, but not nearly enough shade. It's rather sterile and could use some cabanas, fountains or another decor that would add a sense of relaxation.
Although Carnival Paradise does not have a full promenade, the front of the ship on Deck 10 offers a covered partial promenade walk that is a peaceful retreat away from the music and commotion of the neighbouring pool area. However, the only furniture is a handful of storage benches.
The atrium on Deck 7 is home to the main service desks: guest services -- where there was always a line (Diamond and Platinum members have their own counter) -- and shore excursions. This area also has kiosks to check your account balance, and an ATM that charges a hefty $6 fee. When sailing to Cuba, money exchanges are done in the terminal in Havana.
One of the areas that really shines -- (literally, the wood furnishings are glossy) -- is the library. This gorgeous space is a throwback to the golden age of cruise travel, with memorabilia from famous cruise liners and other nautical decor. There are plenty of books and board games for guest use.
Pixels photo gallery is massive. It takes up both sides of the atrium area on Deck 9, and there are a variety of souvenir frame choices. The gallery features touch-screen kiosks for viewing and selecting photos for printing. (This also can be done on your phone using the free Carnival Hub app.) The ship's art gallery is located in a narrow hall behind guest services on Deck 7.
Self-service launderettes can be found on Deck 7 (forward) and Deck 6 (aft). Laundry is $3 to wash and $3 to dry. The machines do not take "Sail and Sign cards," and the only place that we found change (besides waiting in line at guest services) was the quarter machine in the casino. Extra-fee laundry and dry cleaning service is also available; you'll find an itemized price sheet in your cabin.
There is a computer area with internet just off the atrium on Deck 7, as well as two additional computers next to Cafe lle de France on Deck 9. Both are out in the open hallway, so don't expect quiet computing. Wi-Fi packages start at $5 per day for a basic package (which provides access to social media). In order to have full access to websites and to stream videos, the cost is about $25 per day. We found the internet on this ship to be painfully slow -- more so than we've experienced on other cruise ships. A conference room is located in the rear of the Destiny dining room.
On Deck 9, you'll find a small future cruise desk and a shopping desk with advice for what to buy in port (mostly aimed at selling jewellery). There's also an "everything for $10" store stocked with watches, purses and jewellery, along with a Guess Boutique selling branded items. Passengers can also order cakes and other special occasion items from the Special Occasions Shop adjacent to the casino. Additional outlets called the Fun Shops are located near the lower level of the Normandie Theater (Deck 8) with beach gear, clothing, perfumes and other souvenirs.
One service that we were impressed with was the Carnival Hub app that's free to download on your phone. The incredibly useful app can be used offline, and shows what's happening and when -- even before you receive the activity schedule in the cabin. It lets passengers "favourite" activities so they'll get a reminder as the time approaches, and they can even view dining room menus in advance.
Spa Carnival is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and has two saunas and two steam rooms that are free for passengers, in addition to 12 treatment rooms and a hair and nail salon. Lockers are available for securing items, as are showers and spa towels. The relaxation room is essentially a waiting room -- there's no lounge chairs to recline or any reason to hang around after your treatment. Kids ages 12 to 16 are allowed in the spa when accompanied by an adult, and mother/daughter or father/son massages are available as well.
We found the spa prices onboard to be more than they were during the online booking. For example, a 50-minute Ionithermie treatment was $159 at the spa (or $139 with the port day discount), but the advance booking price was $127. A 75-minute bamboo massage was priced at $199 at the spa, while the advanced online booking price was about $30 less. While some of the special combination packages that are offered for purchase only onboard are a good deal, if you have your heart set on a specific treatment, you'd be better off booking it in advance as the spa does book up quickly.
Massage treatments in the spa include classic Swedish, couples' massages, bamboo and hot stones. There are also more unusual treatments like acupuncture, seaweed massages and Thai herbal poultice. A handful of medi-spa options are offered such as Botox and dermal-filler treatments. The salon has teeth whitening, waxing, haircuts and styling (for men and women), manicures and pedicures, and makeover packages.
The fitness centre is located at the front of the ship and is accessed through the spa locker rooms; it offers plenty of machines facing the windows for a workout with a view. It's a decent-sized facility, and every time we visited there was no wait for machines or weights -- in fact, it was fairly empty. Some of the cardio machines lacked a space to set a water bottle, so you might have to put yours on the floor. A separate room is reserved for fitness classes; some classes like abs and stretching are free, others like yoga, Pilates and cycling cost $12 per class, while body sculpting is $35.
The gym is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but there's a small jogging track (eight times around is 1 mile) located around the mini-golf course at the front of the ship that's accessible any time.
Trying to eat healthy onboard Paradise is difficult and dining options are limited. The only speciality restaurants onboard are Guy's Burger Joint, from Food Network personality Guy Fieri, and BlueIguana Cantina, Carnival's popular Mexican restaurant -- both are free.
As for the main dining choices, cruisers can choose from either the dining room or the buffet. We preferred the dining room to the buffet but found the food to be heavy in both venues. Although the quality of dining could be improved, the desserts were some of the best we've had on mainstream cruise ships -- not dried out, but moist and flavorful.
The main dining rooms have two options for dinner: the flexible Your Time Dining, from 5:45 until 9:30 p.m. in Elation dining room, or a set time each evening (6 or 8:15 p.m.) in Destiny. Cruisers who select the set times are seated with the same tablemates and waiters at the same table each evening. Your Time Dining allows for more flexibility but you'll have different tablemates and waiters, and may have to wait until a table is available.
With the exception of the sea day brunch in the Elation dining room, the only true lunch options are at the Paris Restaurant (buffet) on the Lido deck, grabbing a burger at Guy's or a taco at BlueIguana before 2 p.m.
Destiny and Elation Restaurants (Deck 8): Both of Carnival Paradise's main dining rooms have low ceilings and a mix of booths and tables, with simple decor and a handful of massive oval mirrors and maroon light fixtures. Destiny is reserved for set seating dining, while Elation is where Your Time diners go for dinner.
Trying to get to the Destiny Restaurant was a challenge in itself because the galley is situated between the two main dining rooms, thus blocking the flow of traffic. The restaurant has a central stairwell that leads to the Rotterdam Martini Bar, so cruisers can grab a drink before -- or after -- dinner before descending to the Destiny Restaurant. Both dining rooms are only one floor, so you don't have that elegant, grand feeling with high ceilings as you sometimes find on other ships. Decor is limited to lighting fixtures that unintentionally look like small spaceships, and orange string lights that blink during the crew's fun musical performances (on formal night and the final night).
On port days, Destiny offers open-seating breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m., with items like cereal, omelettes, yoghurt, pancakes and French toast on the menu. It's a great alternative to the crowded buffet, especially if you enjoy a sit-down breakfast with waiter service.
On sea days, breakfast is replaced by the sea day brunch and is moved to the Elation dining room. Offered from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., it consists of mostly breakfast items like steak and eggs, huevos rancheros and omelettes with a handful of lunch options like Caesar salad, grilled pork chops and tomato soup.
We found dinner in the dining room to be significantly better than in the buffet, and it is also much easier for vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies to have requests accommodated. Dinner menus vary each night, with well-known appetizers like shrimp cocktail and chicken quesadillas, as well as more exotic choices like chilled Vietnamese spring rolls or tiger shrimp creole. There are also side salads and soup du jour (including some unique choices like lychee bisque with lemongrass). With Carnival, you can order as many appetizers and entrees as you like, so don’t be shy if there’s more than one you’d like to try. Carnival also offers a "rare finds" section, where guests can sample more unusual items (like frog legs).
Entrees range from honey-glazed pork loin and braised beef brisket, to sweet and sour shrimp or vegetable lasagna. A selection of grilled items like salmon or chicken and an array of sauces are on the menu as well. Plus, passengers can always order side dishes like ratatouille, broccoli, mac 'n' cheese or baked potatoes with the fixings.
Some of the excellent dessert options include Carnival’s fantastic melting chocolate cake, cheesecake with fruit toppings, varying flavours of creme brulee and tiramisu, plus a selection of ice creams and a cheese plate that is always available. After-dinner cocktails and speciality coffees can be purchased.
On Cruise Elegant nights, the main dining room menu switches to American Feast. The "feast" is a lively celebration during which time the captain and crew are introduced. On this night, there is a dedicated one-page menu with appetizers like lobster bisque, a pasta selection, high-end entrees like filet mignon and a creative dessert of sticky toffee brioche with coconut lime and strawberries.
Also on the menu are steakhouse selections, which include lobster, filet mignon and New York strip steak; each carry a $20 surcharge.
Paris Restaurant (Deck 10): This is Carnival's main buffet, which has two outside stations and four main stations inside. During lunch on sea days, it can get crowded but there are often a few under-the-radar seats outside the rear of the buffet that have great views. The salad bar is located in the centre of the dining room next to the deli, and has a good variety of options for making your own salad as well as a changing cold salad choice (ratatouille, zucchini and other chilled vegetables). The dessert area has a variety of cakes and desserts, as well as two self-serve ice cream machines with vanilla, chocolate and sometimes strawberry. The chocolate cakes were rich, tiramisu was flavorful and not soggy, and parfaits and other desserts also exceeded expectations.
Beverages include coffee, tea and juice machines, as well as filtered water that tasted crisp and fresh.
Breakfast has classic American favourites like oatmeal, eggs, grits, pastries, sausages, bacon and fresh fruit as well as baked beans and a make-your-own omelette station. Lunch tended to have hearty options like fish with sauces, cheese vegetables and pastas and was similar to the dinner selections, although dinner at the buffet included some speciality items that were also found on the dining room menus, like chicken Florentine or blue crab ravioli.
Although Carnival bills the Carnival Deli, Off the Grill and Pizza Pirate as separate restaurants, they are essentially different stations at the buffet.
Off the Grill: This is the main section of the buffet and has a changing themed menu like Italian favourites, Latin options or American fare. We found that oftentimes some of the dinner options at the buffet were also offered in the dining rooms. The lines (especially at breakfast and lunch) are long at the grill, and finding vegetarian/vegan options that are clearly labeled isn't easy.
Carnival Deli: Attached to the salad bar, the chef at the deli prepares Reubens, corned beef, turkey sandwiches and other favourites that can be pressed on the grill. There was usually a short wait for the deli.
Pizza Pirate: Rarely is there no line for this pizza joint, which many consider a cut above the pies on other ships. It's also the only dedicated food venue that is open 24 hours. Pizza options include Margherita, mushroom, four cheese, pepperoni, and prosciutto; gluten-free pies are available by request.
Guy's Burger Joint (Deck 10): Just outside of the Paris Restaurant, Carnival's signature burger joint -- in partnership with Chef Guy Fieri -- has replaced the former Comfort Kitchen and Mongolian Wok counters of the buffet. It's hard to come here just once, especially since this venue is typically open from lunchtime through 6 p.m. and conveniently located on the Lido Deck with shaded seating.
BlueIgunana Cantina (Deck 10): Burrito-lovers take note: BlueIguana is a pool deck favourite, featuring burritos, tacos, arepas and more (for lunch -- and breakfast). A stellar toppings bar means you can customize your plate with salsa, cilantro and even a slice of watermelon.
Room Service: Free room service options include breakfast and all-day items. Basic Continental breakfast choices include yoghurt, pastries (a gluten-free bread option is available), fruit, cereal, coffee and orange juice (not freshly squeezed). Place the form with your selections on the door knob the night before and it should arrive within the half-hour indicated. Important to note: The morning the ship arrives in Havana is an early one for anyone catching a group tour -- tons of people clearly ordered room service breakfast and this delayed our order, giving us 10 minutes to scarf down our food before running to meet our group.
The all-day options include a variety of deli sandwiches with chips, pretzels or potato salad (which we found bland), salads and a vegetable platter with blue cheese dressing. We ordered room service twice and it took about 30 to 45 minutes each time.
Chef's Table (various locations); $75: For a change of pace from the dining room or the buffet, the once-per-cruise Chef's Table is a great option, typically held in the library. The multicourse dinner is hosted by the chef and includes a behind-the-scenes galley tour and cocktail reception. It can be reserved online or onboard.
Sushi at Sea (Deck 9); a la carte: Replacing the Taste Bar counter along the promenade, Sushi at Sea offers cruise passengers sushi or sashimi by the piece or roll, from noon to 11 p.m. on a sea day. You can purchase one piece for $1.50; rolls range from $5 to $7.50 and the menu is limited to about four rolls.
Cafe lle de France (Deck 9); a la carte: Although the buffet has plenty of American coffee, Cafe Ile de France serves up Italian espressos, lattes, frozen coffees and even "spiked" coffees (although no Cuban coffee) at prices that range from $2 to $6. The shop also has a small variety of pastries and sweets for a price. Cafe hours vary, but it is open surprisingly late (until midnight most nights).
Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (Destiny Restaurant, Deck 8); $6: On one morning during the cruise, Destiny hosts a special "Green Eggs and Ham" breakfast with costumed characters from Dr. Seuss' books. Yes, the eggs are green, but there are other options on the menu like French toast and pancakes. The characters perform a dance number that kids love and pose for photos with anyone who wants.
Room Service: Additional items like chicken tenders, quesadillas, fried shrimp and Philly cheesesteaks can be ordered for around $5 to $7.
Finding your cabin is a breeze on Paradise because stateroom hallways are conveniently color-coded (pink, orange, blue), making it easy to navigate.
Cabin options are limited and staterooms are simple. You won't find designated "spa cabins" or multi-bedroom staterooms but if you do need something a little more elaborate, there are 28 Grand Suites and 26 Junior Suites. The remaining 972 cabins are interior or ocean view -- but that will soon change. When Paradise enters dry dock in February 2018, the cabins will receive an upgrade and 98 staterooms will be refitted with balconies. There are 24 accessible cabins, which are available in each cabin category.
When you first arrive, your cabin steward will stop by with a checklist and ask if you'd like the cabin serviced in the morning, evenings or both. You can also select amenities like bathrobes, a hair dryer and extra towels, pillows and blankets. We appreciated the option to choose how often to have the stateroom serviced, and took them up on the bathrobe offer.
Standard cabins have two outlets: one 120 volt and one 220 volt (European), plus a shaver outlet in the bathroom. We brought a small extension cord from home -- the kind that has three total outlets on it. If you bring an extension cord, make it small (no large power strips), and make sure it does not have a surge protector and is in excellent condition or it will be confiscated. Bringing a European converter is another way to add a second outlet for charging electronics.
Interior: These basic cabins have 185 square feet of space with small, flat-screen televisions that are awkwardly placed in the corners. Besides a small chair and beige-colored vanity dresser with a mirror and well-worn drawers, interior cabins are light on furnishings. Some can accommodate three or four passengers (great for families), but the pulldown beds overhang the standard beds, making it feel a little cramped. There are no mini-refrigerators, however the cabin steward is quick to fill the ice bin upon request. A fairly large armoire/closet has an ample number of hangers and shelves, as well as a safe for valuables.
A red, decorative trim around the walls and over the beds makes a handy shelf for small belongings like medicines, water bottles and other frequently used items. Designated wall slots for "Sail and Sign" cards (the keycard you use to get into your cabin, as well as for all onboard purchases) and the daily fun briefing (as well as other brochures that pile up) were a nice touch as well, as was the artwork of a classic cruise liner. Beds, which have reading lights on either side, were extremely comfortable and made for a good night's rest. Beds can be set up as two twins or one queen.
Bathrooms include a medicine cabinet, towel racks and a decent amount of space on the sink for storing items. A tiny trash can is built into the wall under the sink. Showers are surprisingly roomy and comfortable, with strong water pressure, handheld showerheads, curtains, small tiled floors and built-in shampoo and body wash dispensers (no conditioner). However, there are no shelves for bath products in the shower, and no clotheslines for wet bathing suits or other clothes.
Oceanview Cabins: These are identical to interior cabins with the exception of the large porthole window with curtains.
Junior Suites: Junior Suites, also called balcony suites, have 247 total square feet of space with a 27-square-foot balcony; all are located on Deck 11. Bathrooms are the same as interior and ocean-view cabins but the vanity/desk area in the balcony suites is larger and made with dark-finished wood. There's also a hideaway mini-refrigerator and mini-bar with wineglasses, and four electric outlets (one European). Beds have a glass mirror and leather headboard, and a lamp on the nightstand instead of small reading lights.
Furnishings in the sitting area include a leather sofa bed and a coffee table, with no wall separating it from the sleeping area. There's also a large window and heavy wooden balcony doors (in lieu of sliding-glass doors). The balcony has two deck chairs and a small table. The lifeboats are located on the deck below these cabins but you can still see the ocean.
Grand Suites: Ranging from 400 to 445 square feet of space (including a 70- to 115-square-foot balcony), these staterooms have more elaborate bathrooms with soaking tubs/shower combos and a large marble counter with plenty of space for beauty products. Like the Junior Suites, these rooms feature dark wood furnishings and a large mirrored vanity area with a mini-refrigerator, as well as seven electrical outlets. A living area consists of two leather couches fitted together into the corner (to make one long couch), a massive painting, two leather chairs and a glass coffee table. This area is separated from the sleeping area by a partial wall. Stylish reading lamps and a mirrored wall are fitted over the bed. Balconies directly overlook the ocean, and have three chairs and a small table.
Cruisers in all suite categories get priority boarding and debarkation, two complimentary bottles of water, one bag of laundry washed and priority dining requests.