Minnesota family of four cruising the first time with Carnival. Hubby and I have sailed previously with Royal Caribbean once and Princess twice. Our party included me (37), husband (45), and our two girls (5 & 2). We chose this line because the Carnival Camp kids program grouped kids from 2-5 and it would let our girls stay together. Plus, Carnival will actually change kid's diapers!
We flew in the night before and rented a mini-van from Budget to get to Cape Canaveral. We didn't bring our own car seats but were able to rent a couple from Budget ($13/each). Much nicer than lugging your own! They don't put them in the car for you so you need to make sure to ask where to find them and then be prepared to put them in yourself. Trip to Cape Canaveral was uneventful and we stayed at the Country Inn & Suites right near Port Canaveral. They upgraded us from a standard to a one bedroom suite! The room was nice, clean, and quiet. For dinner we went to The Pig and Whistle which is an English pub style bar andrestaurant that had that comfortable and well-used look. I had the fish and chips and hubby had the hand-dipped deep fried shrimp. Both were very good!
The next morning we had the complimentary breakfast offered at the hotel, which had the usual suspects of scrambled eggs, sausage links, potatoes, waffles, cereal, yogurt, bagels, muffins and toast. It was a very decent breakfast.
We drove our rental car to Budget and turned the car in. A shuttle was waiting for us when we arrived and within 10 minutes we were on our way to the port. We arrived at the port around 10:40am, embarkation took about 30 minutes and was fairly painless although not sure what was up with the two security photos back to back? We took our carryon bags and hung out at the Waves pool under an umbrella and relaxed while waiting for our cabin to open at 1:30pm. We dropped off our bags in the room, met our room steward, then went off to explore the ship until the muster drill. Their Long Island Iced Tea's were pretty strong, so after a couple of those I was ready to nap with the kids back in the room.
Online we had been wait-listed for Your Time Dining but at embarkation, we were assigned the 6pm dining time. Hubby went to talk with the Maitre d' when he was available at 12:30 to request moving us to Your Time Dining. He was told that they would be able to let us know by 2pm the next day if they could accommodate us, so that evening we ate at the Gathering (buffet) with the kids. We were notified the next day that we had been changed to Your Time Dining - Yay!
We decided to forego leaving the ship during port days, so our days roughly followed this schedule -
7 - 8am Wake up and get ready 8 - 9am Eat breakfast in The Gathering 9 - 10am Take kids to Camp Carnival 10 - 11:45am Workout at the gym, shop the onboard stores, walk around, relax 11:45am - 1pm Pickup the kids from Camp Carnival. Spent time with them swimming, playing mini-golf, walk around, etc. 1 - 3pm Drop the kids off at Camp Carnival. Walked around, relaxed, etc 3 - 4pm Pick the kids up and have a light lunch 4 - 7pm Kids take a nap, usually the adults did too (or hung out on the balcony reading, listening to music, watching the waves) 7 - 8pm Get the kids up and get ready for dinner 8 - 10pm Take the kids with us to the Crimson Dining Room. We had their meals come out with our adult appetizers and then hubby would take them to Camp Carnival before we got our entrees. 10pm - 12am Depending on the night, went to see a show, watch a band, visit the Casino 12 - 12:30am Pick the kids up and hit the hay
Embarkation: It was fairly painless and went fairly quickly. I like how you were handed a zone number that they called to board the ship, which prevented others from sneaking on earlier.
Room: We were on the Verandah Deck (Deck 8) cabin 8349. I loved the location because it was a very short walk to the stairs and elevators which brought us directly to the entrance to The Gathering on Deck 10 and Camp Carnival on Deck 11. The balcony was narrow but good enough for our needs. We were high enough that the extended Promenade Deck 5 didn't hinder our view of the waves when sitting down. The room was neat and clean and was kept that way by the Room Steward every day.
Food: The Gathering had decent food and had a fair number of choices. I did like the different food stations that offered pasta, burritos, Indian, Pizza, hamburgers and hotdogs, and paninis.
The soft serve ice cream machines were also very popular with the kids!
In the evening we dined in the Crimson Dining Room on Deck 4. For the most part I thought the food was very good as were the desserts. It is true that the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake was very good and I'm not a big fan of chocolate.
Bar: We usually ordered either Tanqueray and tonics or Long Island Iced Teas and both were quite good. I did think that the bartenders for the most part weren't a very friendly group. They were efficient but didn't seem to smile much. The bar wait staff were much friendlier, however.
Entertainment: It seemed that there weren't enough of a variety of activities to fill the days and nights compared to Royal Caribbean, but we went with what was there. The Cruise Director staff was good and I liked Butch the Cruise Director - he had a ton of energy.
Don‘t miss the Love Game Show!
People: It was a younger, slightly rowdier crowd than other cruise lines but it also created a fun atmosphere.
Debarkation: Because our flight didn't depart until 3:30pm, we were one of the last to get off the ship which was called around 9:40am. We had to leave our cabin by 8:30 and made our way to the Encore theatre on Deck 3. The lines were a bit long to get off the ship and go through customs but it was waiting for the Budget shuttle that took the longest. There were two ships arriving that day so with all of the people being moved in both directions it could explain the delay, but it did seem lengthy. Something to consider if you're in a hurry to catch a flight.
Amy & Dave
I'm a cruise enthusiast, to me, cruising the open sea on a luxury liner and visiting exotic ports of call is the ideal vacation. I cruise more than the average person; I try to set sail at least once or twice a year. I have been on over twenty cruises with six different Cruise Lines, so I'm fully aware of the standards of practice in the Cruise Industry and changes that have occurred over the past decade.
I'm also an Accredited Travel Agent and I spent several years as a Consumer & Travel Industry Sales Agent for The Walt Disney Company. I'm an extremely detail oriented young man, and I think outside the box. Needless to say, I can spot a burnt out light fixture or a Crew Member chewing gum from the corner of my eye a hundred feet away.
This was my fourth cruise with Carnival, which is about average based on my personal cruise experience. My first and second experiences with Carnival were excellent, John Heald, Carnival Cruise Director, made it a most memorable vacation. John has to be the best Cruise Director I have ever had the pleasureof sailing with, and his "Bedtime Stories" are most entertaining.
My third cruise with Carnival was going well until an incident with the Security Team ruined my vacation. I was traveling with a Thirty-Five Millimeter Camera and using eight hundred speed film, which should never be x-rayed. Even a low level security screening x-ray will ruin that type of film.
While re-boarding the ship at a Port of Call, I explained to a Security Crew Member that I was a Professional Freelance Photographer and that Eight Hundred Speed Film, or "Scientific Film" and it's sometimes referred to, should not be x-rayed. Needless to say I lost the argument and a Security Crew Member took my Camera Bag, which contained the camera and six rolls of used film, and ran it through the x-ray machine without my consent. It was at that point that I decided to never sail with Carnival ever again.
I normally cruise with a group of seven friends, this year we were shopping for a Cruise Vacation and narrowed it down to four choices that were literally the same exact price. Our Choices, listed in order of travel distance from home, were The Disney Magic, The Carnival Dream, The Celebrity Solstice, and the Norwegian Epic. We selected the Carnival Dream based on the distance from home to the ship, the fact that Freestyle Cruise Dining is a hassle for last minute cruisers, and that fifty percent of the Cruise Ship's population would not be screaming children.
Six years and nine cruises later, I decided to give Carnival another opportunity. My friends and I booked a last minute Vacation literally at the ninety-six hour cutoff time. We were to set sail on the Flagship of the world's largest Cruise Line, what could possibly go wrong?
We boarded the beautiful Carnival Dream in sunny Port Canaveral shortly after noon on October 9, 2010. Besides The Oasis of The Seas, The Carnival Dream is one of the most spectacular Cruise Ships I've seen. After being a sea for a few hours I noticed that the vessel was extremely stable in the water, I didn't feel Sea Sick at any time while onboard.
Our Verandah Stateroom on Deck Eight Forward was average in comparison to other Cruise Ships. I prefer to have a verandah door that slides open rather than having to open it outward and jam an object into the hinge to prop it open. Besides finding a Bobby Pin on the floor between the bed and the window, the Stateroom was immaculate.
The Stateroom Attendant was genuinely friendly and eager to please. He was always very polite and conducted his business in a stealth like manor. He rarely knocked on the door, he mysteriously knew when the room was vacant and cleaned it to perfection when we least expected it.
I was however disappointed with the quality of the Hand Soap, Body Wash, and Shampoo products that Carnival provides, not to mention the complete lack of a lotion product, especially on a sunny Cruise Ship traveling in a salty ocean where Guests may experience abnormally dry skin. I know that most Cruise Lines provide premium name brand products; luckily I remembered that Carnival provides substandard generic products, so I packed enough toiletries to sustain us for a week. Just a friendly suggestion that Body Wash and Shampoo products provided by a Cruise Line typically smell like something Marine Derived or Natural Botanicals, not lemon fresh.
I was also irritated to discover that we had some type of insect infestation on the first night that seemed to linger on for the duration of the cruise. Something was literally feasting on our flesh while we slept. I believe that the Stateroom may have had an infestation of Bed Bugs or something similar, the fact of the matter is that something with a healthy appetite was in the Stateroom eating us alive all week.
I contacted Guest Services and filed an inquiry about the bites that we were experiencing, I actually had to sit on hold for longer than five minutes before I was able to speak with a Guest Services Crew Member. They reported the issue to the Housekeeping Team who supposedly inspected the Stateroom and of course found no infestation of any type. The situation was never fully resolved and I'm angry that Carnival literally swept the issue under the bed.
I also want to make a comment about the dark Navy Blue towels that are issued to each person for fun in the sun use. The towels are so much softer and more absorbent that the previous version, however the color is an issue. These new dark Navy Blue towels absorb sunlight and tend to heat up, I felt like I was on fire while lying out in the sun on one of these super heat absorbent towels.
One of my favorite things to do on a cruise is eat. If it's not bolted down, I'm eating it. I may be a scrawny one hundred and forty five pound guy, but I can eat.
I was extremely dissatisfied with the Dining aboard The Carnival Dream. It probably had to be the worst part of the Cruise, and the worst service I've ever experienced on any Cruise Ship. Imagine the favorite part of your week long vacation becoming the worst aspect of the experience.
We spent our evenings dining in the Scarlet Restaurant. On the first night we sat at our assigned table promptly at 8:15pm. At 8:20pm, five minutes after arriving at the restaurant, we were kindly asked by the Maître d' to move to another table.
We decided to go ahead a make the move in order to facilitate the needs of the restaurant. We settled into a new table by 8:25pm, ten minutes after arriving at the restaurant, unfortunately we didn't meet either of the Servers until 8:35pm, twenty minutes after arriving at the restaurant. At 8:45pm, thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, we finally received the menus and glasses of "Ship Water," whatever that means.
At 9:00pm, forty five minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Head Server took our order. In the interest of time, we only ordered appetizers and entrees, and skipped the soup and salad courses. At 9:15pm, one hour after arriving at the restaurant, we received the appetizers.
The Entrees didn't arrive until 9:45pm, one hour and thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant. I explained to the Maître d' that this level of service and the complete lack of attention by the Head Server was not what we expected. The Maître d' apologized and graciously offered us a bottle of Carnival's Finest Free Champagne to make up for the issue.
We rushed through dinner in order to make the 10:15pm Showtime at the Encore! Main Lounge. I want to make it clear that the Head Server was unfriendly and provided extremely slow service. I also want to make it clear that the Assistant Server was doing most of the Head Server's duties and making an honest effort to serve us.
After the Show and some other entertainment, we were kind of hungry again, probably because we missed three of the five courses at dinner and we were in a rush to make the 10:15pm Show. Like on any Cruise Ship at midnight we headed up to the Lido Deck for the Midnight Buffet. We arrived at The Gathering Lido Restaurant to discover that the Midnight Buffet no longer exists on any Carnival Cruise Ship.
Our choices were the Pizzeria or Room Service. The Pizza offered at the Pizzeria looked like something you would see at a $4.99 Pizza Buffet; needless to say we opted for Room Service. Coincidentally, the only midnight buffet offered on board consisted of my body on a bed being eaten alive by the insect infestation in our Stateroom.
When we returned to the Stateroom we took a look at the Room Service menu, which seemed extremely limited. I remember Carnival having a decent size Room Service menu, no cheese and fruit platter, but a decent selection none the less. We eventually discovered that page twenty seven was missing from the Green Stateroom Information Book, which is apparently where most of the Room Service Offerings are listed.
After receiving the missing Room Service Menu Page we placed an order for two Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwiches with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard. Room Service on the Carnival Dream is Fast, Fun, and Friendly! Within fifteen minutes we received two Cold Corned Beef on Rye Sandwiches with Generic Yellow Mustard, which isn't even on the Room Service Menu.
On the second evening of the cruise we arrived at The Scarlet Restaurant and were seated at the new table promptly at 8:15pm. The Head Server immediately greeted us and provided us with the Menus and glasses of "Ship Water," yum. We never saw the Head Server again for the rest of the Cruise.
At 8:30pm, fifteen minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server took our Appetizer and Soup "or" Salad order. We also asked for some Iced Tea / Lemonade to drink, because the "Ship Water" sounded like it came from Carnival Waterworks. Realistically the "Ships Water" is cleaner than any municipal water source, and we realize that it's used in the ice and concentrated beverage products on board.
At 8:45pm, thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the Appetizers. Keep in mind that the menus were still on the table and we had not yet ordered the Entrees, nor had we received the Iced Tea / Lemonade. At 9:15pm, one hour after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the soup and took the Entree orders, still no Iced Tea / Lemonade though.
At 9:30pm, one hour and fifteen minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the Iced Tea / Lemonade. At 9:45pm, one hour and thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the Entrees. After dinner I approached the Maître d' and simply said "we would like a new Dining Service Team or a third table assignment in another area of the venue."
After the Show and some other entertainment we returned to the Stateroom. That evening I checked the balance of my Folio and noticed that there was an unauthorized charge in the amount of $70.00 for Gratuities. I was upset to the point where I was actually trembling.
How dare Carnival assumptively attempt to charge any amount of currency to my American Express Card without my knowledge or expressed consent. This is a gross violation of trust as well as extremely poor etiquette. I declined the prepaid Gratuities option during the reservation process and the "Important Notes" area of my Guest Confirmation Email stated nothing about Gratuities.
It was at this point that I had the realization that the service level at The Scarlet Restaurant was directly related to the onboard gratuities practice. A service team who is working for Gratuities should not receive said funds on the second night of a Cruise, which is five nights prior to the completion of said services. What's the incentive for Service Team Members to provide an excellent service level if they are not actually working for an incentive.
I immediately contacted Guest Services to dispute the issue; once again it was virtually impossible to contact them by phone without sitting on hold for longer than five minutes. I decided to get dressed, walk across the Ship and down five flights of stairs to Guest Services. Which brings be to another subject of concern, there were eighteen public elevators on board and never one available when you needed it.
When I arrived at Guest Services, the Crew Member was on the phone. I patiently waited in the queue for almost five minutes. When she got off the phone it rang again, I stepped up and told her not to touch the phone. It upsets me to know that someone who sitting around in their underwear and calling from the comfort of their cozy Stateroom, has priority over someone that got dressed, walked across the Ship, down five flights of stairs, and waited in line for five minutes.
Fifteen minutes after the initial unanswered phone call, I was able to voice my concern in person. I explained my issue to the Guest Services Crew Member and asked why the charges were assessed to my Folio without my knowledge or authorization. She simply replied, "That's how it's done."
To me, tipping is a very personal thing. I have been on over twenty Cruises with Six different Cruise Lines. Most Cruise Lines provide labeled Gratuity Envelopes, some let you electronically wire discretionary increments from your Folio to the individual Crew Members providing your services, right from the TV in your Stateroom. I have never been charged without knowledge or consent, especially on the second night of a seven night cruise, and after having horrible service in the Scarlet Restaurant two nights in a row.
I politely requested that the charges be removed from my Folio. At first the Guest Services Crew Member was hesitant, she asked for an explanation. I simply took out my iPhone and explained that I would call American Express and dispute the charge, and then file a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
Needless to say, she decided to remove the charges from my Folio. John Heald, Carnival Cruise Director, always said "at Carnival, tipping is a very personal thing." I firmly believe this practice and it actually makes me feel good to give a Service Crew Member an additional fifty or one hundred percent more than the suggested gratuities for providing excellent service.
The third day of our cruise was the first Sea Day, so we took the opportunity relax and enjoy some of the Cruise Ship's Dining Offerings. We quickly discovered that lunch at The Gathering Grand Buffet, Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, Pasta Bar, and the Indian Tandoor all close one hour earlier on Sea Days. Why would Carnival close most of the Lunch Venues one hour earlier with a full complement of thirty-six hundred Guests on board and obviously not having lunch in a Port of Call?
The Grand Buffet at The Gathering Lido Restaurant had some great lunch offerings, and while Salami and Bologna are popular Lunch Meats, I was sick and tired of seeing them on the buffet every single day. Perhaps the Salami and Bologna belong at the Deli, thus making room for something more appealing on the Grand Buffet. The Pasta bar was also a nice treat to have on board, even though I marked Farfalle Pasta on my form and received Rigatoni Pasta.
We did like the fact that we could get an Iced Tea or Lemonade at any time; I did want to point out that the beverage station located at The Gathering on the port side midship appears to be configured backwards in comparison to the other three. It's a corner configuration with the cups located in the corner itself, the ice machine is on the far left, and the beverage fountain is on the far right; needless to say it was a constant time consuming traffic jam of ten to twenty thirsty Guests going back and forth all day and night.
We also noticed several other inconsistencies with Dining availability. For example, the twenty four hour Pizzeria would randomly close for an unspecified amount of time in the middle of the day. Breakfast at the Scarlet Restaurant had ended thirty minutes early when we arrived shortly after 9:30am on both Sunday and Wednesday mornings.
We really wanted to experience the flavors at the Indian Tandoor venue, so we saved that for the Sea Days because we had lunch ashore on the days we were in Ports of Call. Unfortunately the Indian Tandoor venue is only open for a very short two and a half hours on Sea Days. In fact the Indian Tandoor venue was only open for approximately twenty hours during the seven days we were on board.
I have to say that I was sick and tired of seeing those Carnival "Dear Guest" signs all over the place. When translated from Carnival Language to English, "Dear Guest" means "Disappointment." That is one memory about my vacation that I can do without.
We eventually made it to the Scarlet Restaurant for lunch on a Sea Day. I felt like I was there for dinner, again with the extremely slow service. We arrived at the Restaurant at 1:30pm and did not receive the menus and "Ship Water" until 1:45pm, fifteen minutes after arriving at the restaurant. Five minutes later the Server returned to take our order and never even made an additional beverage offering.
At 2:00pm, thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, I got up from the table, walked across the restaurant to a Server Station, picked up a pitcher of Iced Tea, and returned to my table with it. I received a round of applause from other Guests in the restaurant and all of a sudden had four servers sprinting across the restaurant to the table. They attempted to remove the Iced Tea Pitcher from the table and I declined, finally someone said that it wasn't permitted on the table, so I eventually surrendered it with hesitation.
I have to say that the Offerings available at the venues on The Lido Deck were more appealing than those at the Scarlet Restaurant for lunch. The Clam Chowder was interesting; it consisted of room temperature Cream of Potato Soup with two, one inch, open faced clams, one of which was meatless. We actually left the venue half way through the entrée and headed for the Deli up on the Lido Deck.
It was 2:30 on a Sea Day when we arrived at the Deli; it was one of two venues that were open for lunch on a Cruise Ship with thirty-six hundred passengers. Needless to say we had to wait in line for fifteen minutes at the Deli. We placed our order for two Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwiches with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard, we received two Hot Pastrami on White Bread Sandwiches with Yellow Mustard, which wasn't even on the menu.
This is the second time and place that we ordered Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwiches with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard and received something different. First of all, I can tell the difference between Pastrami and Corned Beef, as well as Rye Bread and White Bread. Second, these sandwiches are traditionally served with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard, not Yellow Mustard.
If the Deli was out of Rye Bread or Room Service was out of Pastrami, they should have specified that rather than assumptively preparing something different in an effort to deceive us, especially when said replacement isn't even on the menu. Also, it's a Deli, and every Deli is stocked with Spicy Brown Mustard. I eventually got a delicious Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwich and added my own Spicy Brown Mustard that I picked up in Saint Thomas.
I'm a big fan of Sushi; I eat it at least once a week. Having a Sushi Bar on board was a big treat. Unfortunately the Sushi Bar on the Carnival Dream was not at all up to par with its Offerings.
The majority of the "Sushi" was actually cooked, and most of the time the Offerings were not served at a safe temperature. In fact, "Sushi" should never smell "fishy" unless it's gone bad. For some reason the Wasabi Sushi Bar was closed on Sunday and had non Sushi Italian style Tapas on Wednesday, both were unsettling encounters when we arrived at the venue.
The suspense was building as we got closer to our third evening at the Scarlet Restaurant; it was becoming a TV Drama. Would we have a new Dining Team or a third table assignment, what type of drama would unfold? Find out tonight at 8:15pm on Carnival.
Once again we were seated at the new table promptly at 8:15pm. At 8:16pm, one minute after arriving at the restaurant, the new Service Team introduced themselves and took a few minutes to get to know us as well. The Dinner Service was absolutely flawless from that point forward.
The new Dining Team knew our names and our taste preferences. They were extremely friendly and genuine. The service was so seamless that we didn't even notice it; they were meticulously catering to our every need before we even had a thought.
The offerings were average in comparison to other Cruise Lines. The quality was good and a Lobster Tail Entrée is not something that you will find on every Cruise Line. My evaluation of The Scarlet Restaurant experience was average.
Towards the end of the cruise I was expecting to see the infamous Chocolate Buffet that I have seen on every Cruise Ship. I was extremely upset to learn that Carnival Cruise Lines has done away with the Chocolate Buffet. Seriously?
Josh Waitzman was an above average Cruise Director, not Excellent though. John Heald on the other hand is an excellent Cruise Director; he sets the standard for all Cruise Directors in the Industry. John's appeal is that he relates to Guests and has the unique ability to visualize and create the ideal Guest Experience.
Josh is a great Cruise Director and he has the potential to be Excellent. My first impression of Josh is that he's insincere as well as inconsistent. He comes across more like a used car salesman rather than a cherished friend.
Despite the drama at The Scarlet Restaurant we were able to make it to the Encore! Main Lounge for Showtime every night. I was very impressed to see a live band for the Production Shows, that's a rear treat on a Cruise Ship. Eddie C. & The Dream Show band gave an excellent performance.
The Carnival Dream Dancers were also excellent, especially in comparison to all the productions I've seen while working for The Walt Disney Company. Desmond Dansby is an excellent singer, perhaps one of the best I have seen on any Cruise Ship. Bert Rodriguez is probably the best singer I've seen; he performs seasonally for another Cruise Line and is the lead Singer in Finding Nemo The Musical at Walt Disney World.
Simone Catalano on the other hand did not give a good performance at any time during the Cruise; in fact some of the karaoke sinkers gave a better performance. She was off pitch and could not hit certain notes. I almost jumped ship when I heard her sing "I Will Always Love You."
I was excited to see the Lido Laser Show on the first night of the Cruise. Wow . . . that pretty much sums it up. What a complete waste of time.
Other Cruise Ships that are half the size are able to have elaborate fireworks presentations. I wasn't quite sure what I was watching, and judging from the facial expressions and body language from Cruise Director Josh, who happened to be standing next to me, he wasn't impressed either. You couldn't really see the lasers because smoke machines in an open air Lido Deck, on a moving Cruise Ship, in a windy ocean, are virtually ineffective.
On formal night we attended the Captain's Celebration, which traditionally has complimentary Cocktail Hour on every Cruise Ship I've ever been on, unfortunately Carnival no longer partakes in this cruise industry tradition either. First the Midnight Buffet, then the Chocolate Buffet, and now Cocktail Hour at the Captain's Celebration. I suppose that Carnival received an overwhelming amount of feedback from Guests that wanted these offerings discontinued, right?
The Uncensored Comedy Shows at the Punchliner Comedy Club in the Burgundy Aft Lounge were a cruise highlight! Michael Macey, Comedian, definitely needs to be promoted to Captain. I have seen Michael on other Cruise Ships and he's one of the best in the industry.
I enjoyed the concept of the Punchliner Comedy Club; however I feel that the Burgundy Aft Lounge was at an uncomfortable capacity. Some guest could not see the comedians and others had to stand during the show. It may have been more comfortable in the Encore! Main Lounge, which is where this type of show would normally take place on other Cruise Ships.
One of the most interesting aspects of The Carnival Dream was the Carnival Waterworks; I've never seen six waterslides on a Cruise Ship. I do however want to point out a safety concern with the two larger slides. The joints where each segment of the tubes are connected are very sharp and scrape the rider's backs as they slide over each segment of the slide. My back was in slight pain and visually red after riding, in fact everyone who got off the slides had red backs.
I was also impressed with the number of Spas, or Hot Tubs; I've never seen eight Spas on a Cruise Ship. It should however be noted that thirty-six hundred Guests sharing two pools was a bit unsettling at times. Also The Hot Tubs on The Lanai Promenade were inconsistent, the two that were Forward exceeded one hundred and five degrees and the two that were Midship were actually cold all week.
The Stateroom Attendant for the week and the Third Dining Team for the last five evenings exceeded our expectations. We ended up giving the Stateroom attendant a fifty percent bonus and we gave the Head Server a one hundred percent bonus above the recommended gratuities. Tipping is a personal thing and no one should ever be forced into a prepaid situation, it's unethical.
I made an honest attempt to submit my personal feedback on five different occasions.
First, I was expecting a comment card in my Stateroom on the last night of the Cruise. Most Cruise Lines leave a comment card in the Stateroom so that guests can sit down and collectively provide constructive feedback. The Comment Card never appeared in the Stateroom.
Two, I went to Guest Services, after calling them and sitting on hold for over five minutes again, and requested a Comment Card. The Guest Services Crew Member stated that the person who booked the cruise would receive a Comment Card via email on the day of their return home. The Electronic Comment Card never appeared in my Email.
Three, I sent an email to Carnival Guest Care on Monday, October 18 and inquired about the Electronic Comment Card. I received an email response three days later with other feedback methods. The Electronic Comment Card was not an option.
Four, I called Carnival Guest Care on Wednesday, October 20 and inquired about the Electronic Comment Card. I was told that we did not receive it as yet because we still had an "open file" by the ship, I can only imagine what the file said after the Dining Service, Gratuities, and Insect Infestation issues. The Carnival Guest Care Representative verified my email address and stated that I would receive the Comment Card since I was listed as the Guest who booked the Cruise.
My Stateroom roommate received the Electronic Comment Card and submitted it without consulting me; he assumed that each individual Guest would receive one, which is not the case. I emailed Carnival Guest Care again and explained the situation. Guest Care explained that the comment cards are only sent to individuals that are listed as head of household and that in my case, the head of household on my Past Guest Profile is my younger brother, and since my Stateroom Roommate is listed as head of household on his profile, the system automatically sent the survey to him, even though I booked the cruise.
This makes absolutely no sense at all from a Guest perspective. I formally request that I am made the Primary Guest in my Guest Profile since I am the one who booked both this cruise and the cruise that I took my younger brother on. So now this letter represents my fifth attempt to provide feedback about my cruise experience and I'm not even sure if it was worth my time and effort.
Based on my personal experience aboard The Carnival Dream in comparison to the twenty other Cruise Ships I have sailed on, this overall experience was below average and did not meet my expectations. Based on my Travel Industry background I cannot in good conscious recommend this cruise to anyone that trusts my judgment. I may not completely write off Carnival; however it may be another six years before I trust the Cruise Line with my precious Vacation Time.
Every Cruse has its pros and cons. I don't have extremely high expectations and I'm not difficult to please. I want a fun and relaxing experience at a fair price.
I hope this review finds you well and that you take it into consideration when planning your Cruise Vacation. Carnival is a good company and the biggest Cruise Line in the World. Now they need to focus on becoming the best.
My wife, Ginny, and I cruised on the Carnival Dream from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Eastern Caribbean ports of Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten, embarking on Saturday, October 9th and disembarking on Saturday, October 16th. We live only 40 minutes from the port so we drive and park at the port terminal garage which costs $15 per day. We booked the Dream because it was Carnival’s newest and largest ship. We enjoy large ships
SUMMARY The Dream is a beautiful ship, filled with familiar Carnival venues and complemented by some new features. Previous Carnival guests will feel comfortable with the layout and be surprised by a couple of the additions. There were a lot of dining choices, good food and excellent service.
We did feel, however, that Carnival seemed to come up a little short in managing the larger numbers of people in its venues, especially the deck 10 buffet, called the Gathering. There were always delays, not necessarily long lines, but delays
The line also attracts families with children and could do a better job of controlling the noise and activities in the cabin hallways. Each evening there was celebrating,discussions and unsupervised children in the hallways long after bedtime.
EMBARKATION Guests were encouraged to check in as early as 10:30 AM. We received a telephone call confirming that fact. Boarding began at 11:15 AM. Rooms were available at 1:30 PM. The embarkation process was smooth. We arrived at the port at about !0: 45 AM, parked our car, checked through security, checked in, had our ID photos taken, and were on board shortly after 11:15 AM
OUR ARRANGEMENTS We booked cabin 7355 located near midship on deck 7, conveniently located near the action on both the upper deck restaurants and the decks 4 and 5 activities. We selected “Your Time Dining” with dinner assigned in the Crimson restaurant. We were pleased with both selections.
THE SHIP The Dream is Carnival’s largest ship. The design of the public rooms, including colors and use of lighting and glass, was excellent. The atrium area is especially colorful with a lot of photo possibilities. The Lanai, a promenade on deck 5, is a new feature. It includes several whirlpools, a deck circling the ship, outside dining tables and chairs and hundreds of deck chairs.
Dining and entertainment venues were centered on decks 3, 4 and 5 along with decks 10 and higher. We spent a lot of time on deck 5 during the day and there were plenty of options for things to do. We don’t use the pools but they were central features for many, many people. There were plenty of deck chairs scattered across decks 10 and higher.
DINING AND FOOD The Dream had numerous options for dining including the main Scarlet and Crimson restaurants. “Your time” dining was hosted in the Crimson restaurant and deck 4 while scheduled dining for the early and late seatings were in the two decks of the Scarlet and the lower deck of the Crimson restaurants.
We tried the buffet for breakfast, the pasta bar, the deli, the Mongolian Wok. The food was fine. We missed several options including a barbecue on sea days on the lanai.
Cruising provides excellent opportunities to sample excellent food. Our meals included cold fruit soups which are very tasty. They included strawberry bisque, bing cherry and peach. We tried very good entrees that included lobster tail and tiger shrimp, basa filets, petit filet of beef, pork loin and deserts like cherries jubilee. The pasta bar was nice. The Mongolian Wok was tasty but beware the hot sauce! The deli sandwiches were also good, prepared to each persons taste.
The buffet was a problem. It seemed like there were nearly always slow moving lines. The cause, we concluded, was the selection of foods available in each line and the order of their arrangement. Carnival needs to solve this problem. There was plenty of seating in the buffet area even on embarkation day.
SERVICE Service in all the areas was excellent. The staff were friendly and accommodating. It was highlighted by our lead waitress, Ulla from Latvia, and her assistants Janos and Gibson, in the Crimson dining room. They were well organized, efficient, and friendly, even on nights when they were extremely busy. Waiters and waitresses in each of the venues were very good as were the staff in the guest relations area. They were obviously well trained, experienced and well managed. Our cabin steward, Arnold, and his assistants were also very good.
THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENT The cruise industry evolves to better serve so there are frequently “new” features on cruises. This was no different although we had experienced some on previous cruises. Facial recognition technology was employed to provide computer access to photos taken throughout the cruise. A master photo was taken at embarkation and matched to your sign and sail card. The system needs work. It was interesting, and humorous, to swipe your card at the computer station and see whose photos appeared. We never did find photos we wanted. Safety drills are now held, and have been held for months, without carrying life jackets to the muster stations. Nice. “Elegant Evening” has replaced formal night. Dress is far less formal with many less coats and ties appearing on “elegant evening” nights. This is probably great for families with children. Gratuity envelopes for wait and room steward staff were not distributed. Gratuities are automatically charged to your shipboard account and the envelope exercise has been eliminated, at least we never received any. Guest survey sheets never appeared and there were no announcements about them. That is a mistake. Carnival will receive neither compliments of its operation and staff nor suggestions. Electronic casino accounts are now mandatory although they are not totally new. Every player needs to establish a PIN, then use it to cash out when leaving a slot machine in the casino. We like the system but it was very confusing for many guests. For gamblers there are a lot of one and two penny slot machines and two electronic poker tables. Room TV channels included no sports or business channels. Sports channels were available on several large screens in the casino bar.
DISEMBARKATION Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was relatively smooth. Those picking up bags in the terminal did have to wait longer than expected, probably because they were allowed off the ship sooner than expected leaving the conveyer belts filled with bags of guests still on the ship. We were off the ship and home by 9:00 AM.
Disembarkation at the ports of call was efficiently handled with minimal lines.
CONCLUSION The Carnival Dream is a very nice ship and I highly recommend it for families, especially those with children. The venues, dining, food, entertainment options and relaxation options are very nice. The staff were very good. Ulla and her team were excellent!
The venues did not appear to be enlarged properly to accommodate the growth in guests. The “Gathering” buffet needs some attention to speed the flow of guests through the lines.
Ah, another Carnival cruise! It was my husband's and I's 13 cruise, with 6 on Carnival. This was our kids (14 and 16) 4th, 2nd on Carnival.
Before the Cruise: Stayed at the Cocoa Beach Hampton Inn, used the cruise parking and shuttle service offered. It was easy and efficient.
Embarkation Day: The Dream was the only ship in port that day. Check in was quick, we were on board by 12:15. Rooms are available at 1:30. We had room 7345, an outside balcony in a great location, right next to the middle elevators. Also, it was easy to walk down two floors to the Lanai, or up three floors to the buffet, without your legs complaining.
Food was good. Ate breakfast in the Scarlet Dining Room most mornings due to long lines at the Gathering buffet. We asked to switch tables for dinner. Our first assigned table was in the back corner in a little hallway. We switched to a large table right in front, next to the maitre'd's. If you get table 416, MOVE! as soon as possible. Pasta bar, upstairs in the Gathering, was a nice touch.
The shows were allexcellent, as to be expected. The comedians had PG and R shows, all were very good. The piano player (Ronnie) at Sam's was wonderful.
The Art auctions were great, even though we didn't buy the great deal they had, 50 Thomas Kinkades for $5,000.
Serenity deck was nice for the adults. The pools were too small for the number of people on the ship. We loved the cantilevered hot tubs on deck 5.
In St. Thomas and St. Maartin, the Oasis was the only other ship in port, which was nice. St. Thomas, we took a taxi to Sapphire Beach. It was nice, $10 per person each way, with good rum punch. St. Maartin, used water taxi, $6 round trip unlimited, to Philipsburg and public beach.
It was some of the calmest, smoothest sailing I've had.There weren't a whole lot of kids onboard. Zone debarkation went smoothly, sadly off the ship by 8:15.
Everything New! Slide was great, laser show and Giant LED movie screen was a nice touch, more than enough hot tubs, Show's were good, nice staterooms, boarding and debarkation process smooth, staff was very pleasant and courteous.
Con's There was definitely a smell, not a continuous smell but one that drifted in from time to time, maybe based on the wind conditions? Pools was too small for that large a ship, Grand Buffet was ok but have seen better. Mark up rate on everything from soft drinks to excursions was over inflated. The price for a 7 day all you can drink soda card is $36 for child, $48 dollars for adult. Can anyone drink that much soda in 7 days? Why does it cost approximately $2300 dollars for 46 people (46 people at approx. $50 dollars a head) to go to Goff's Caye, snorkeling for 3 hours? Do those ferry boats use that much fuel? We went to a good show but was held up at the door trying to get out. The exits were blocked by BINGO participants rushing in for the “GOOD SEATS”, I guess. Not very organized
Before I begin, let me just say that this review is based on the time and accomodations listed. This is what we experienced on OUR cruise. The review is not intended to give an over all DECISION on a cruise on the Carnival Dream so PLEASE don't respond or E-Mail me with negative remarks about OUR experiences on OUR cruise.
EMBARKATION: Carnival finally has gotten it when it comes to embarking. It is just a shame that the Port Authority at Port Canaveral is slacking. We stood on a line for 10 minutes just to be told we had to go to another line because her line didn't facilitate check on luggage with wheels. Would have been nice if they posted signs or had someone walking down the line explaining that to people!! We only waited on the next line for 10 minutes, but when your standing in front of the ship, you just want to get ON!! Carnival boards by a "Zone" system. When you check in, you are given a zone card with a number on it and you wait for that zone to be called. When wechecked in, we were given zone 14. They were calling Zone 10 at the time. It took no more than 15 minutes for them to get to Zone 14. We actually boarded at the same time my brother and Sister-In-Law (who were Platnum, VIP members) boarded. We arrived at the port a little before 11am and were onboard about 11:30am. Not too shabby!!
THE CARNIVAL DREAM (Initial Impression) : WHOA!!! What a vessel!!! She was beautiful, clean and well maintained (there were crew members power washing, painting etc.). We entered into the Atrium, with 4 glass lifts (elevators) and, well, SHINE!! That's the best way to explain it!! There was a crew member at the end of the gangway to lead us on where to go to wait for the cabins to be ready. The cabins will NOT be ready before 1:30pm. And, if you are like me, tested that theory by going to deck 2 where my cabin was just to be confronted by a fire door that had a sign that said the cabins won't be ready until 1:30pm!!! A test I FAILED!!! So, up to the buffet on the Lido deck I went.
THE BUFFET: Well, since I've been on 4 other Carnival cruises before, I'll rate it on a scale of 1-10 in comparison to the other ships. It was a "9"!! And that is great when you factor in that the crew is feeding a human "farm" of 3000 passengers!!! The food was basic "Carnival", but was fast and hot which was appreciated since the excitement of the mornings rush kept us from eating. The breakfast buffet was slow (again...3000 people) and timing is the key! Such is lunch. Want the breakfast buffet, go after 8:30am. Want the lunch buffet, go before 11am or after 1pm. And if those times don't work for you, Order In (Room Service)!! They have some basic yet very tasty offerings for delivery to your cabin. OR, you can go to the Pasta Bar located on deck 11 AFT where you can have a sit down italian meal delivered directly to your table (they close at 1:30pm). There is so much food being served throughout the day, TRUST ME, you won't go hungry!!!
ROOM SERVICE: Plain and simple, fill out the card in your cabin requesting what you want before 12am and hang it on the outside of your door and "POOF", your tray shows up at the time you requested the next morning!! A tip of about $2 is MY norm. Got no small cash? No worries, just add the tip to the receipt you sign when your order is delivered. It will be charged to your S&S card. You can order room service 24hrs. a day. The Menu is in the book in your cabin.
(Hidden Observation Deck, Don't Tell Anyone)!!! : Go to the Lido Deck (Deck 10, Port or Starboard side) and go as far forward as you can go, down the stateroom hallways, turn right (or left) and go through the 2 doors. The rest is up to YOU!! :)
OUR CABIN (Cove Cabin) : FINALLY, were able to go to our cabin...at 1:30pm on the button!! We never had a Cove Cabin before, but have had balcony cabins in the past so we really didn't know what to expect. To be honest, the cabin did seem a little bit bigger than the standard balcony cabins we have had in the past. We found out that the Cove's balconies were actually 10 Sq. Ft. larger than the standard balconies. And we noticed it!! They are VERY private and close to the water. We did notice bats at night flying around the lifeboats (even when way out to sea). Guess they were staying in the lifeboats. My brother was on the Port side of the ship (mid-ship like us on the same deck) and said he didn't see any. No biggie though, they didn't bother us one bit and stayed about 25 feet from the ship. The ODD numbered cabins are on the STARBOARD (right) side of the ship and the EVEN numbered are on the PORT (left) side.
THE CRIMSON DINING ROOM: We opted for the "Your Time Dining" and it was convienent. This dining room is for the "Your Time Dining" passengers ONLY! If you have assigned seating for dining, you WILL be turned away. After the 3rd day we met "Conrad", a waiter that worked the left side front of the dining room. We asked for him every night after. He was efficient and VERY personable. We had to wait for him on some nights (they give you a pager if you want to wait) but the wait was worth it. The food came slow though (AGAIN---MANY PEOPLE) but that was NOT the fault of the dining room staff. They can only feed you when they have the food sent to THEM. If you want to go to a show, plan your time accordingly. Allow 1 hour or a little more to dine from appitizers to dessert. If you have Your Time Dining, and have Conrad as a waiter...just tell him "Rocky" sent you...he'll remember and probably laugh!!
THE SHOW(s): Only went to 2. The name of the 1st one skips my mind but I do remember that the female singers STRONG voice was over modulated (LOUD) and the sound crew didn't compensate for it. It was like she was screaming at you. If you want to see a REALLY funny show, see the "Magic Bob" show on Wednesday. Make sure you wear your Depends. He's gonna have you laughing so hard, your gonna need them!!!!
THE CASINO: WOW, How they have changed on the Carnival ships. And NOT for the better!!! I had always been used to hearing the "Ching, Ching, Ching" of my winnings coming from the bottom of my slot machine. Sorry folks...those days are GONE!!! Now, you insert your S&S card into the machine and any winnings you get are "deposited" onto your S&S card. You have to take your card to the casino cashier when your done or before the end of the cruise to get your winnings or GUESS WHAT???? That's right boy's and girl's...you LOSE IT!!! It seems that this is only one of the ways that the Carnival corporation is getting less personal.
THE STAFF: From the Pursers Desk (Guest Services) to the crew on the deck, it was hit and miss. But like with other cruises, not just Carnival, we realize that these VERY hard working people, from your room stewerds to the dining room staff as well as those you see maybe once throughout the cruise, that are away from their families for 6 to 9 months at a time and working 16 to 18 hour shifts have BAD days!!! Like we do!! And when we did come across a crew member that was having a bad day, we would just dismiss it. Think about that!! Away from your home and your family for 6 to 9 months at a time. Think you would be smiling everyday? Their humans, NOT ROBOTS so if you come across a crew member with a less than favorable attitude...GET OVER IT!!!
DISEMBARKING: Again, Carnival has evolved! We docked at 6am and were off at 7:30am. They also disembark by zones (which is indicated on the luggage tag you get from your room stewerd the last night). Took all of about 15 minutes to get our luggage.
IN A NUTSHELL: Would I sail the "Dream" again? Without question. Would I reccomend the "Dream" to a friend? YES! Now, The BIG question..."Is Carnival getting better"? Answer...NO! I have found that the line is becoming less personal as time goes on. There were alot of amenities that Carnival offered in the past to past guest's as well as to new guest's that no longer exist. To the new cruiser, it goes unnoticied. But to the veteran Carnival guest, the short-comings shine like a beacon. Things like the picture of the ship placemat you had gotten on the last night of the cruise from the dining staff are gone. I have a collection of 4 framed and hanging on my wall from past cruises. The announcements the Captain used to make at every port, No More, at least not on the Dream. If you are a new cruiser, or even a past cruiser with motion sickness problems, the Dream is for you. There was NO...and I mean NO movement of the ship for the total cruise. But if you are prone to seasickness, get a cabin, like we did, that is mid-ship in all aspects. You will NOT be dissipointed cruising on this ship, "IF" you keep in mind what I have mentioned. If you want to or are booked on this ship, plan to have a GREAT time!!!
If you have any questions about our sailing on the Carnival Dream, or about the Dream in general, Please feel free to respond to this post or E-Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DREAM On - until your Dream comes true -
This review is for all you cruisers booked or on the fence about booking a cruise on Carnival's Dream and addresses a number of issues reported by the "doom and gloom" cruisers who have written negative reviews. Many people set the bar way too high for their cruises and are setting themselves up for disappointment and failure. A good cruise experience is ultimately determined by good planning, execution, flexibility, and a sense of humor. If you are lackadaisical about choosing your stateroom location and leave it up to the person booking your cruise and discover that your stateroom is right above the disco, that's not good planning on your part. If you cruise during spring break, in the summer or on holidays, expect lots of children and packs of teenagers roaming the ship at all hours of the day and night. Flexibility is the key when it comes to eating - don't eat at prime hours when the lines are long, eat a little earlier or a little later - THERE ARE NO LINES. As far as the sewage smell on theDream, I detected it only once and it was quick and gone in seconds.
I live in Florida and it is an easy drive to Port Canaveral. If you are flying into Orlando, it is approximately 40 minutes to the Port. We arrived at 10:35 a.m., dropped off our luggage with the Porters, parked our car and went through Security with our carry-on. At Port Canaveral, you pay for parking when you exit the parking garage at the end of your cruise ($15/day). The parking area is directly across the street from the ship and a very short walk. I am Platinum with Carnival and was directed to the VIP lounge for check-in. Our small group was escorted onto the ship at 11:00 a.m. and eating at The Gathering and downing my first beer at 11:15 a.m. We had plenty of time between lunch and sail away to tour the ship. Our rooms were available at 1:30 p.m. The safety briefing was around 3:30 p.m. and will be in your assigned muster location (Encore Lounge for us), you don't have to wear or bring your life jacket. We had a balcony room on the Verandah deck, Room 8288, great location and just enough movement at night to lull us to sleep. Just a quick note to seasoned cruisers on Carnival, our group had requested assigned main dining at 6:00 p.m. On all my other cruises on the Conquest class ships, the passengers assigned main dining were seated in the forward dining room off the Atrium lobby but on the Dream, the 6:00 p.m. seating is assigned to the aft Scarlet dining room, either Deck 3 or 4. The décor on the Dream is bright, colorful, and sassy, what else would you expect from Carnival, I loved it; jump started my senses every day.
Chair hogs: yes, there are and always will be chair hogs but if you stay away from the main pool area on the Lido deck, there are tons of chairs available. The Serenity area forward is o.k. but this area fills up very quickly and the only advantage to sitting here is the absence of children.
All common areas of the Dream are spotless along with the staterooms, dining rooms, etc. Our Room Steward kept our ice bucket full, emptied our refrigerator so we could load it with the items we brought on board, make the obligatory towel animals and took very good care of us. Every staff member, without exception, had a smile and a hello for us wherever we went on the ship.
O.K., let's talk about food. First, we ordered from room service every morning (nothing like a cup of hot coffee and Danish to clear out the cobwebs) - they were always on time. Don't forget to bring some $1 bills to tip the steward who delivers your order. We ate breakfast in the Scarlet dining room and at The Gathering, I preferred The Gathering for breakfast, fresh made to order omelets were great (no lines if you are an early riser) and a delicious sausage in puff pastry that is making my mouth water just thinking about it. If you like a little slower pace and don't want to stand in line with a tray, the Scarlet dining room was fine. They also have pastries at the Patisserie on Deck 5 in the morning. For lunch, we tried all the food venues on the ship - the buffet was always good and offered different carved meats every day - roast beef, lamb, pork, ham, turkey. The Scarlet dining room was open for table service lunch. The deli, as all Carnival past guests know, is very good and we tried the pastrami, corned beef, turkey, and ham (and mixed and matched all of them). I didn't care for the Indian Tandoor food, the hot dogs and hamburgers from the Grill were always good, the pizza was just o.k., likewise the Mongolian grill and Burrito bar, but that is my personal taste. At Ocean Plaza (Deck 5) they offered the Lanai Bar-BQ outside, sliders, hot dogs, salads, quesadillas, etc. Inside past the Patisserie, they had a salad bar set up and turkey wraps. At 5:00 p.m., they opened the Sushi Bar. The Fresh Pasta station on Deck 11 Aft (2nd floor of The Gathering) was our absolute favorite. You check in with a receptionist who hands you a paper menu, pencil and number. Make your choices from the list of pastas - farfalle, penne, linguine, then choose your sauce - pomodoro, meat, Alfredo, then choose your add-ons - chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, etc., choose bread and freshly made Caesar salad - hand in your order to the Chefs in the open kitchen, sit down with your number and someone will bring your food piping hot, freshly made and delicious. The Pasta station quickly became our favorite place to have lunch. The food at all the above mentioned venues is free. I managed to squeeze in Tea Time in the Crimson Dining Room and highly recommend this to everyone. It is a relaxing break from the high energy activities of the ship and the specialty desserts were fantastic - dense chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, apple crumble, fresh fruit tart, delicious little scones, etc. The food in the formal dining room at night was great and always delivered hot and fresh. Sunday was formal night and lobster was served. Our head waiter and his assistant were attentive, personable and fun and made our dining experience truly enjoyable. If you can't find food to satisfy you at the buffet on the Dream, there are lots more food opportunities to try - experiment, have fun. The Casino bar was great and they made some dynamite dirty martinis. Every day, I purchased a chocolate milk shake ($3.95) from the Patisserie, walked over to the bar, bought a shot of Kahlua and mixed them together, yum.
For all you smokers', smoking is only permitted in the Dance Club and Sam's Piano Bar. Smoking in the Casino is limited and permitted while playing at designated slot machines and table games. Cigars and pipes are permitted on the Lanai, Port side. We are not spa people so did not avail ourselves of the exercise machines or spa facility but this area is smaller on the Dream and was always crowded.
Now, as far as the shows in the Encore Theater, in my opinion, the show that everyone is raving about, "Dancin In The Street" has way too much hip hop, rap, and break dancing to appeal to a broad audience - teenagers will love it. The show we enjoyed more was "Get Ready". But, whichever show you attend, go early, those chair hogs are out in full force. We attended an adult comedy show in the Burgundy Lounge which was just o.k., nothing to lose sleep over. At night, there is live entertainment all around the ship, you're sure to find one you like - karaoke was a laugh.
Nassau: we took a taxi ($4/person, one way) to Atlantis and gambled in their casino and enjoyed some complimentary Sombreros, yum!! St. Thomas: booked an excursion thru Carnival, "Castaway Barefoot Sail & Snorkel to Shipwreck Cove", nice day, fun crew, but the water was cold - the unlimited rum punch on the return was good. St. Maarten: took a taxi ($6/person, one way) to Orient Beach. The beach was gorgeous but the water, again, was cold. It started to rain so we went back to the ship, had lunch and took the ferry downtown to browse the shops and have some $1 beers.
Debarkation was fast, very well organized and efficient. We had an assigned 7:15 a.m. debarkation but had plenty of time to enjoy our last room service coffee and Danish on our balcony.
Yes, the Dream is big but manageable once you know the layout and you will find your sweet spots all around the ship where you are most comfortable - lots of hiding places on the outer and inner decks. Be adventurous, try different foods and beverages, go to the disco and dance your heart out (no one is looking at you, they're too busy having a great time), talk to strangers, stop looking for negatives - you're on a cruise, you don't have to cook or clean, someone is making your bed every day and serving you with a smile, put your feet up, relax, enjoy the moment, life is too precious to be finding fault with every little thing, let yourself go and have fun. If something does go wrong, flexibility and a sense of humor will carry you through. The Purser's Desk staff was always pleasant and eager to please. I would give anything right now to be on the Dream as I sit soaking my aching feet from standing on them all day in work - I would give anything right now to be holding a cold martini in my hand at the Casino bar listening to some great music - .I would give anything right now to be eating that sweet lobster - I would give anything right now to lay my head on those comfy pillows and be rocked to sleep - I would give anything right now to be you, the next lucky person to be sailing on the Dream...Dream On.
When I had to cancel our August 2009 cruise due to my job being phased out, it meant that we wouldn't be cruising at all in 2009, which would be the first time in many years that we didn't cruise at least once in a year. Once things settled down, and not wanting to wait a whole year until our next booked cruise, I decided to book a cruise during Spring Break on the Carnival Dream, knowing full well that it would be crowded and chock full of kids. With Patti being a teacher, and my boys in Middle school and High school, we didn't have much of a choice. I decided to drive down from New Jersey four days prior to sailing taking my younger son Ryan with me, and Patti and Kevin would fly down into Orlando the night before. This worked out perfectly, since I took all the luggage down with me and Patti wouldn't have to worry about checking in luggage (and paying the extra fees) at the airport. We booked a whirlpool suite, (with cruise parking), at the Port Canaveral Radisson, which I would highlyrecommend, and signed up for the 12:30 shuttle to the pier on Saturday. Here I was three days early and all the earlier shuttles had booked already!! Ryan and I had three great days together and spent the last day at Universal until it was time to pick Patti and Kevin up at the airport. This went quickly since they didn't have luggage to wait for. Back to the Radisson for a nice quiet evening together, before boarding the Carnival Dream tomorrow.
Day 1 - Embarkation Day The next morning was sunny and beautiful, and you could look over and see the Carnival Dream sitting and waiting for us. Our shuttle left right on time for the five minute ride over to the ship. The Disney Magic was also in port today. After getting off the shuttle, making sure our luggage made the bins, and tipping the porters, we headed over to the VIP line to check in. We breezed thru the boarding process in no time, and were sitting at the Dream Atrium bar for our first drinks a half hour after we left the Radisson. Patti and Kevin picked up their soda cards for the week, (6.00/day for adults, 4.50/day for kids, plus 15% gratuity). We next headed up to our cabins to drop off our carry-ons. I had booked a balcony cabin 8244 for Patti and I, and an inside cabin 8246 for the boys. As it was our anniversary, I had purchased cabin decorations, wine, fruit basket, and other goodies beforehand unbeknownst to Patti. She was completely shocked when she opened the cabin door!! We then went up to the Gathering, which is the buffet on the Lido deck for some lunch. There are so many choices here!! In addition to the Grand Buffet, there is the Grille (hot dogs, burgers, steak sandwiches, salads etc), the Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, Fresh Pasta Bar, Indian Tandoor, The Deli, and of course the 24 hour Pizza. Top that off with the Desert Bar, and 24 hour ice cream and yogurt, you can't go hungry!! There is also a sushi bar located on promenade Deck 5 mid ship which was open from 5 -8:15 nightly. Also on sea days there was a BBQ lunch served out on the Lanai on Deck 5 from 12-2:30. This greatly helped disperse the lunch time crowds. Speaking of crowds, this would be a good time to tell you that on this cruise there were 4,500 pax. You couldn't fit another person on this ship. Of these, aprox. 1,700 were children under 18. I can't complain about that, since I brought two into that mix. I must say that the vast majority were well behaved. If I had any issues, it was with some of the adults, but I would never let a few idiots ruin my vacation!! I was expecting some lines, especially on sea days, but to tell you the truth they weren't bad at all. The worst were for the made to order eggs station for breakfast, and the Mongolian Wok at lunch. People, if waiting ten minutes in line is to long for you, may I suggest the Dining room? After lunch we spent time exploring the ship. In reality, the Carnival Dream is a stretched and wider version of a Conquest Class ship with the same you can't get there from here problems, but with enough added features to make it all worthwhile. Serenity, the adults only area, located on decks 14 & 15 forward was Patti and I's favorite area. Never had a problem with getting loungers or finding room in one of the two whirlpools. Only thing that could make this better would be a small cool off pool. Maybe they can add that in the next generation. The Waterworks was a favorite of the boys and me!! The Twister and the Drainpipe were awesome. They also had racing slides and smaller slides and spray areas for the little ones. Carnival's first 18 hole miniature golf at sea was also a lot of fun, though on sea days was very crowded. Another great new feature was the wrap around outside promenade on deck 5 which allows you walk completely around the ship. It also includes four whirlpools, (two on each side). At 3:30 it was time for the Safety Briefing. No more going back to your cabin for your life jackets. Just report to your muster station, listen to the announcements, and when it's over you can head topside without having to take life jackets back to the cabin. Our muster station was in the Encore theatre, so we were able to sit in comfort until it was over. Perfect!! We hung out at the Sunset Pool for sail-away, and after about an hour we headed back to the cabins to unpack, chill out on the balcony, and get ready for our first dinner. We chose traditional dining, and had a table for 4 (#521) on the lower level of the Scarlet Dining room at Late Sitting (8:15). Those choosing Any Time Dining would go to the Crimson dining room. I'm not going to bore you with telling you what we had to eat, since food is so subjective, I'll just say we were very, very happy with the selections and quality the entire week. Our wait staff was excellent and we never, even after 24 Carnival cruises, get tired of the nightly entertainment. Bravo!!! After dinner, the boys went to Circle C & Club O2, to make new friends and hang out. Patti and I went to play some blackjack, (we held our own), until it was time to crash. We would be in Nassau tomorrow.
Day 2 - Nassau (8:30am – 2:00pm) Being that this was such a short stop time wise, and because we would be back here for a longer stop when we sail on the Miracle in July, we didn't plan any excursions for today. Ryan and I decided to stay on board and partake of the waterworks and mini golf while there weren't any crowds. Afterwards Ryan went to Circle C, and I went to Serenity and lounged in the hot tubs with a nice cool drink. The Oasis of the Seas, and the Majesty of the Seas were in port with us today. Spent a lot of time checking out the Oasis, seeing where the cabins we booked for August 2011 were located. Looks like an awesome ship!! Patti and Kevin decided to get off and do a little shopping. They rented a 2 person scooter that looked like a lady bug for $45. For two hours and had a blast driving around the island. They even went over the bridge to Paradise Island twice!! After the ship sailed I entered the first blackjack tournament with the free entry that we got for being platinum members. I qualified for the final table, but wound up finishing out of the money in third place. At least I won some trinkets and a t-shirt that doesn't fit me!! The rest of the day we just hung out and chilled until it was time for the first Elegant Dinner. I was surprised that a lot of people actually got dressed up for tonight. It was nice to see!! We had a nice lobster dinner and then celebrated our anniversary with a cake that I had pre ordered. Several tables around us joined the wait staff in singing Happy Anniversary to us. Very Nice!! Afterwards the boys went off to hang with their new found friends, and we headed off to the Casino until it was time to call it a night.
Day 3 – Sea Day We all love our sea days because we all can relax and do what we want!! After breakfast on the balcony, Ryan and I teamed up for the bean bag toss in the lobby of the atrium, and won a few rounds before we were eliminated. Patti went to the shopping talk, then went looking for bargains in the onboard shops. We met up for lunch at the Sunset Pool bar, partaking of the nearby deli. The grilled sandwiches were to die for!! Afterwards Patti and I went to the casino to enter the first slot tournament. Neither of us qualified for the finals, so we went up to Serenity for some R & R, until it was time to go to the early comedy show, and then dinner. Another nice feature on the Dream is the Comedy Club located in the Burgundy lounge, deck 5 aft. They have two comedians aboard doing two PG shows at 7:30 & 8:30, and three uncensored shows for guests 18 or older at 9:45, 11:00, and 12:00. The boys went to the 7:30 show with us and had a great time. The comedians were great and got the youngsters involved. After dinner the boys disappeared to their respective clubs, and Patti and I went to try our luck again in the casino until it was time for the 12:00 uncensored show. It was hilarious, but have to warn you that if you are prudish in any way, don't go!! Afterwards it was time to hit the sack after a great sea day!!
Day 4 – St. Thomas (10:00am – 8:00pm) Another beautiful day in paradise!! After breakfast upstairs at the Gathering we watched the Carnival Dream pull into St. Thomas. It would be busy downtown today as there were six ships in port. The Carnival Freedom, Royal Princess and us were docked at Havensight, the Norwegian Pearl was anchored in the bay, and the Oasis of the Seas and Costa Atlantica, were docked over in Crown Bay. I had booked the Helmet dive for Kevin, Ryan, and myself, and since Patti wanted no part of that, she was going to spend the day shopping downtown and at Havensight. The Helmet Dive takes place at Coral World and was a fantastic experience!! After an orientation you stand on the ladder up to your chest in water and don a 75 pound helmet that once you step down another rung and get underwater feels like 10 pounds. Once you get down to the bottom of the ladder you are around 15 feet deep. For the next half hour you walk along a trail, (the weight of the helmet holds you down), while many divers keep an eye on you, show you and let you hold some of the docile aquatic life, and take videos and photos of your experience. The amount and variety of fish swimming around you was awesome!! To soon it ended and we had to go back up. The flash drive of videos and pictures was extra, but worth every penny. Something I will always cherish!! It was already late afternoon when we met back on the ship. Whenever we book a Carnival cruise that has a Supper Club or Steakhouse as they are now called, we always make a reservation for at least one night. On the Dream it is called the Chef's Art Steakhouse and is located on Deck 12 aft. Tonight was the night we chose to go, and just like every other time, it was well worth the $30./pp surcharge. The menu hasn't changed much over the years, (why mess with success?), so as always I had the 24 oz. Porterhouse which you can cut with a butter knife, and Patti had the Lobster. You can't go wrong with any of the appetizers, entrees, or deserts. Add a bottle of wine and enjoy the perfect dinner!! After dinner we went to the seaside theatre to catch the 10:00 laser show which was set to the music of Rush and Pink Floyd. Pretty neat!! Some casino time, then it was time for bed. The boys came back about the same time from their respective clubs. It was another great day!!
Day 5 – St. Maarten (8:00am – 6:00pm) There were 7 ships in port today, and upon seeing that I knew it wasn't going to be pretty!! Along with us were the Carnival Miracle, Celebrity Solstice, Emerald Princess, Sea Princess, Oasis of the Seas, and the AidaVita. By my calculations I figure that to be over 20,000 pax descending on the island, and not even counting crew members with shore time!! Patti got off as soon as the ship was cleared to explore the port area, while the rest of us were going to wait a couple of hours before heading off to Maho Beach ,(the beach where the jets fly over very low landing at the airport),on our own. This turned out to be a big mistake. By the time we went over to grab a cab, there where oceans of people everywhere and chaos was king!! We were told to go over here to catch a cab to Maho, only to find out after 15 minutes that the line for Maho was way over there!! After 45 minutes of this we finally were in the cab to Maho. Then it gets worse. The traffic was so bad, that the usual 25 minute trip took nearly an hour and a half. A half hour after arriving, it poured, so we took refuge in the Sunset Bar, had lunch and a few beers, then caught another cab back to the ship. The ride back was only an hour. We were pretty grumpy and spent by now, but once back on the ship we went to Serenity and chilled out until after we sailed. The next time we come here and there are a lot of ships in port that day, we can do one of two things to avoid the disappointments that we experienced today. One, book a ships tour with the transportation included, or get off our butts and grab a cab as soon as the ship is cleared!! Lesson learned. After dinner we went to the casino to try our luck again. Tonight was the deck party, but we chose not to attend. Went to bed still disappointed on how things went in St. Maarten today.
Days 6 & 7 – Sea Days Nothing like 2 consecutive sea days on the way back to Port Canaveral, to get back in the relaxation mode again. The bean bag toss, waterworks, mini golf, Serenity, mudslides, quiet balcony time, the second blackjack and slot tournaments, and more mudslides were the order of each day. In the evenings fantastic dinners, comedy shows, and casino time (we finished ahead of the game!), were our favorite things to do. When not playing with us, the boys hung out at their respective clubs, the balance of each day. Too soon, it was time to start packing for the journey home. As Platinum members we were given zone 1 tags for debarkation. This means we would be the first to debark the ship, after the self assist people debarked. We sadly put our luggage out in the hall, hung out on the balcony one last time, then went to bed.
Day 8 – Debarkation Day The ship docks back in Port Canaveral before 6:00am. The self assist people began debarking at about 6:40 and at 7:05 they called zones 1 &2. We were off the ship, picked up our luggage, breezed thru customs, and were on the first shuttle back to the Radisson in no time at all!! We loaded up the van, stopped for gas and snacks, and were on the road back to New Jersey by 8:15!! This was by far the quickest and most organized debarkations I have ever experienced in my 30+ cruises!! I hope everyone who cruises from Port Canaveral on Carnival has as easy of embarkation and debarkation as we did!! In summary, we all enjoyed our cruise on the Carnival Dream very much. Great ship, great crew, and overall a great time. We would sail on her again in a heartbeat!! My pictures from this cruise, including some from our helmet dive, can be found at: http://www.cruise-addicts.com/photopost/g571-jamman-27s-carnival-dream.html
This was our (mine and my husband's) first cruise, which we decided to take at the last minute to celebrate our 20th anniversary. It was the best vacation we've ever had! The ship was beautiful, the staff very helpful and nice. We had a cove balcony room and loved the privacy and proximity to the water. The food was great, and we loved the Serenity deck for adults and the comedy club. Some things we would do differently however is look for a cruise with more ports. There were 3 days at sea, including 2 in a row the last 2 days. We would have enjoyed more time in the ports as well. Neither of the excursions we booked with Carnival were as described, so we will think twice about booking through their excursion desk again. Overall though it was a great cruise and we'd book with Carnival again.
This was our 4th Carnival cruise. We booked the Dream, wanting to be on their newest "flag ship". We stayed in one the of balcony suites, so went through VIP check in. I highly recommend that if you can. However, all the lines move thriftly, and we've never had a problem getting on board. Something new this time was the online check in. No more paper documents, tickets, or luggage tags.
Once on board, we found our stateroom, which was spacious and very clean. Our room steward introduced himself, and as with all our previous Carnival cruises, the staff is very friendly.
The ship is huge, with plenty of chairs. The midship pool is loud, for the party crowd, and the after pool area is quiet - our kind of area to relax at sea.
For food, we hit the pasta and burrito bars for lunch. The lines were never long and the food was pretty good. The sandwich grill and tandoori lunch area was also good. For dinner, we ate in the restaurant and did the dining your way. The service was superb! We splurged one evening and ate atthe Chef's Table. This is apparently something new and not on all ships. A group of 10 of us were given a tour and then ate a 7-course meal, serviced right in the galley. The head chef, Roshan, hosted the meal. The food was absolutely to die for! The meal was great, but just seeing the galley, and how they feed over 3,000 people at once was amazing. Well worth the extra cost, and we would do it again.
We stopped at Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya, and were supposed to stop in Isla Roatan, but heavy winds kept us from being able to dock. The excursions through the cruise line were well organized, so no problems there. All in all, another great Carnival cruise, and we would do it again. In fact, we've already booked our next spring break cruise on the Liberty.