Carnival Cruise Lines’ MS Paradise,
a sleek white-hulled liner built at the Kvaermer Masa-Yards
in Helsinki, Finland, has a normal cruise capacity of 2,040
passengers and is navigated by an Italian crew. Registered in
Panama, the $330 million vessel represents the culmination of
10 years of technological evolution in cruising. It is the last
one to be built in the Fantasy class (eight 70,000-ton ships)
and considered the most successful series of cruise ships built
in the industry. "The Fantasy class was our $2.5 billion
investment in the future of cruising, said Carnival president
Bob Dickinson at the time of her inaugural cruise. "These
ships provided the services, amenities and activities that millions
of our guests want most in their vacations." The Paradise,
he added. "is a fabulous ship".
And in another industry first, Carnival announced that the Paradise
would be totally smoking free.
The MS Paradise pays homage to the era of the grand ocean liners
that once traversed the North Atlantic. Throughout the ship,
the interiors reflect a bygone era. As passengers enter the
ship, a seven-deck high atrium comes into view with its decorous
glass-enclosed elevators and grand mahogany columns mounted
with foot-high illuminated Fabergé-like eggs enameled in a cloisonné-type
finish. These decorative furnishings recall the great ocean
liners’ impact on the world of style. Graceful lounges, salons
and restaurants, recalling the rich décor of the romantic and
celebrated passenger ships of this century, fan out from this
center point. As ship interior architect Joe Farcus pointed
out: "We made an effort to recreate the feeling and flavor
of the world’s great ships, which relied heavily on beautiful
woodwork with skilled carving and luxurious furnishings to create
the distinctive perception of a vessel styled in the grand tradition
of yesterday’s transoceanic titans.’’
This is evident in every public room on board
the Paradise. The Library; a colorful, absorbing area that looks
out upon the sea, is named after the coveted Blue Riband, that
prestigious international prize awarded to the fastest ship
crossing the Atlantic. Along with a replica of the Hales Trophy,
there are the hand-painted ceiling murals depicting the shipping
lanes and great ports of the Atlantic as well as replicas and
photos of the former great ocean liners of the past. Another
reflection of the past is found at the Rex Dance Club, a contemporary-style
disco that uses a sophisticated African jungle motif.
The room’s modernist décor is akin to what a "disco"
might have looked like on board the original SS Rex in 1931
but with a modern twist. Along with high tech lighting and music,
ceiling-high columns surrounding the lounge are stepped, similar
to the stones of ancient temples, and they are covered with
imitation wild-animal hides to create a mosaic of zebra, tiger
and leopard skin patterns.
In the ship’s two-deck-high theater lounge
named after the Normandie, a striking art-deco design reminiscent
of the era of this French liner is recreated. Here Broadway-style
entertainment is presented under large stained glass chandeliers,
warm cherry wood and Brazilian rosewood furnishings and Louis
Comfort Tiffany details that were evident throughout the interior
of that famous liner.
The Cunard Line’s famous ladies are recalled
as one enters the commodious Queen Mary Lounge that doubles
as a conference/entertainment/social-function center. Here scaled-down
replicas of the Queen’s and other Cunard ships’ famous funnels
grace the walls, the bar front and serve as table pedestals.
Atop the wall-mounted funnels are three dozen brass-ringed,
porthole-style insets which house 10-inch video monitors that
continuously show vintage ship films.
In watering holes such as the America Piano
bar, red, white and blue floor-to-ceiling replicas of the famed
SS America’s smokestacks grace the bar’s entrance on Atlantic
deck. "I used the SS America as a source of inspiration
for the design of this room because to me, the sing-along piano
bar is such an American tradition,’’ explained architect Farcus.
"This bar is a kind of ode to the America.’’ Other bar
areas are named after the USS United States, the Leonardo da
Vinci (Italian Line) and the Ile de France Café (French Line).
The Majestic Casino, dedicated to the memory of the RMS Majestic--that
was originally built as the Bismarck by the Hamburg-Amerika
Line in 1914 and later turned over to the White Star Line by
the Allies after World War I and renamed the RMS Majestic--offers
a Las Vegas-style gambling atmosphere with slot machines and
the requisite gaming tables.
Families are very important passengers. With
this in mind, the ship’s designers have incorporated a number
of family-friendly amenities on board including a large high-tech
play area for youngsters. A 2,500-square-foot play area was
built that overlooks the main pool area. Divided into three
sections, Children’s World features spin and sand-art machines,
a computer lab and a multi-tiered indoor climbing maze including
an "activity wall’’ filled with toys and games for all
ages. A 16-monitor video wall projects G-rated movies and cartoons.
In the adjoining outdoor area, jungle gyms and mini-basketball
hoops are situated along with a schooner-shaped playhouse for
toddlers. There are three outside swimming pools on board—the
Lido pool has a 114-foot S-shaped slide that will appeal to
both children and adults—and six whirlpools.
To complement the vessel’s healthful environment,
the Paradise’s 12,000 square-foot Nautica Spa comes equipped
with the latest workout machines, and a full-size gym where
passengers can attend weight-training and yoga classes. The
Spa also provides a selection of massages, loofah rubs and several
European treatments designed to restore passengers’ psyche.
Water aerobics are held in the outdoor pools and on Upper Deck,
there is a jogging track (eight times around equals a mile).
A variety of dining options awaits passengers.
There are two elegant dining rooms, the Destiny and the Elation,
which specialize in fine cuisine with a seafood emphasis. Special
Nautica Spa menus are also offered at both lunch and dinner
for those health-conscious passengers who wish food low in fat
and cholesterol content. The Paris Restaurant located in the
Lido area serves a more informal fare and there is a 24-hour
Shipboard accommodations range from 28 deluxe
spacious suites with balcony to the more modestly decorated
interior and exterior cabins complete with TV and private baths.
Twenty-four hour room service is provided.
Wondering if the no-smoking ban would have
an effect on future bookings for the Paradise, I posed the question
to Carnival’s president Bob Dickinson. Not at all, he replied.
"Bookings are very strong. It is a different pattern of
booking because we are not doing as much group business booking
on the ship. In group bookings, there are always people who
want to smoke. But as far as individual business is concerned,
we are doing very well. And people like the (smoke-free atmosphere)
of the ship." And to show they were not kidding, Carnival
recently announced that passengers lighting up on board may
find that it is the most expensive cigarette ever smoked. Not
only will being caught smoking abruptly end their vacations,
but also a fine of $250 in "liquidated damages" will
be imposed for each infraction.
The Paradise, which will be based in Miami
year round, cruises weekly, alternating between the east and
the west Caribbean. For more information, go to www.carnival.com