My boyfriend and I just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Carnival Dream sailing to Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We have both cruised before, but this was the newest ship that either of us has been on.
Being physically disabled and traveling with a manual wheelchair, we stayed in an inside modified stateroom on Deck 8. The room was small, but that was to be expected. Regardless, it suited our needs. The cabin had two closets, one with 4 drawers and our lifejackets, and the other with a shelf and a bar to hang clothes and a full length mirror. There was also a small storage area in each of our night stands. We read on other Dream reviews that the cabins had more storage than her predecessors, but compared to other cabins we have had, this was not the case. Obviously we understand that space is limited, but another drawer or two would have been appreciated. There was also a desk area with a built in hairdryer, mini fridge and safe. The small flat screen was an upgrade from other cabin TVs in the past. We had the regular non-cable channels, and a few cable channels, but my boyfriend was disappointed that there was no ESPN. There was also a mirror next to the closet with a decorative light attached to it, but we never figured out how to turn it on.
The bathroom was the best modified accessible bathroom that we have seen. Older accessible cabin bathrooms have had the horrible problem of flooding the entire bathroom during a shower due to the roll in shower and poor drainage. That was particularly treacherous for me not to slip on all the water, and also the bathrooms smelled horribly, probably from mold. However, the Dream bathroom was excellent, and one of the biggest that we have had. It had a roll in shower with a fold-down large plastic shower seat and grab bars on every side (and along the wall behind the toilet). There were also drains running the length of the shower and the length of the doorway completely eliminating the annoying flooding problem. The sink vanity area was large with a few built in shelves for toiletries which was a nice bonus and a makeup mirror with a magnified side. There were only two downsides to the bathroom: one was the bolted down garbage can that was bolted way under the sink. It doesn't sound major but I think I missed the can more times than not, and couldn't get under the vanity to pick anything up. The other downside (although arguably necessary) was the red emergency cord that was hanging down next to the showerhead. I felt like I was more likely to fall out of the shower trying to avoid mistakenly touching the cord than I would had it not been there. But still, I could see where one might need it...
The bed was excellent and extremely comfortable. We both slept great every night. However, our cabin was outside of an elevator bank so it was often quite loud as people would talk loudly waiting for the elevator. Because of that we were often awoken much earlier than we would have liked, but with 4,500 guests, it is expected that the hallways won't be all that quiet. The night stands had built in lamps in the middle of the night stand which took up a significant amount of space on the night stand. We have seen another Carnival ship with built in lamps to the wall above the bed which saved a lot more space, and I think they were a better design. The bed was also equipped with built in emergency cords and buttons above the headboard on both sides of the bed. Although we admit they might be necessary, the one on the left was directly above my boyfriend's pillows. While propping up pillows to watch TV from bed, he inadvertently hit the button two times in a row. Someone called our cabin to assure that we were ok, but the first time it happened we had no idea that it was even pushed. The placement of the buttons were awkward and should have been moved slightly.
Our steward was one of the best we've had and a refreshing change from a less than exemplary steward we had on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Our steward, Rodney, was friendly and laid back, and told us that he was "easy like Sunday morning." Indeed he was, and we were singing that song the whole cruise. He did a great job and we definitely appreciated it.
All in all the food was decent, but there was nothing that blew us away. We ate breakfast everyday at the buffet in the Gathering. Compared to other cruises it was much easier to find a seat, and we never really had a major problem with that. The breakfast food was standard fare. My boyfriend had omelets each morning, which sometimes had a longer line. We never went hungry, but felt that Royal had a few more options.
We felt that there were a lot of different options for lunch, and I never passed it up even if I was still full from breakfast (it is vacation after all). My favorite was Tandoor, which was a smaller Indian food buffet with different dishes each day. We also liked the burrito bar and the BBQ stations with sliders, tacos, and chicken quesadillas. The only thing we would have liked to try was the pasta bar. They also had hamburgers, chicken fingers and hotdogs of course, but we liked the other options. There was also a pizza bar that was open 24 hours, which was good as well as 24-hour ice cream which my boyfriend enjoyed multiple times a day. We would have liked to have had the late-night Mexican buffet one night, but we were stilled stuffed from dinner...
The first night of our cruise there was a deal at the specialty restaurant, Chef Art Steakhouse where they were offering a free bottle of wine that night. We felt that was a great deal, and we really enjoyed the steak.
Most other nights we went to the Crimson dining room for our late night seating. The room was beautiful, but there were no large tables from what we could see. We sat by ourselves, which was fine, but we had a great experience on a Royal cruise at a much larger table. We also felt like we could not see much of the dining room from where we were sitting, so we could only people watch the same few tables... Our waiters were ok, but not overly personable. They were also a bit slow with wine service, so we would uncork the bottle in our cabin and just ask for glasses. After a while they did not seem to like that we did that and charged us for it (which is standard practice). We were not thrilled with the dinner selections, and I remembered some of the dishes from a previous cruise that were not my favorite. But we still ate ourselves silly, and never passed up dessert.
We really were not thrilled with the Dream singers and dancers on this cruise. My boyfriend doesn't like these types of shows to begin with, but we both agreed that the main female singer was pretty bad... She was more of a yeller than a singer, which got pretty annoying. The male singer was much better. The dancing wasn't amazing either, but not horrible. A nice addition to the shows was the Fun Force, a group of break dancers and poppers, which was pretty awesome. For one of the shows they did a lot of acrobatic tricks as well as cool dances with glow in the dark costumes. We both really enjoyed that one. They also had a country music show that we both liked as well as a fiddler who was great. Aside from those two shows though, we opted for the comedians, who were performing the adult comedy shows often at the same time as the singing shows. We noticed that the theater was often pretty empty, but that could've been because there were many things going on at the same time as well as a movie on the jumbo screen outside on the Lido deck.
The first two comedians of the cruise, Thomas Brown and Tony Esposito were great. We looked forward to each of their shows in the Burgundy Lounge, a cool theatre in a masquerade mask themed room. For the latter half of the cruise we got two other comedians whose names we can't remember. We did not like them as much. One got better after a few shows, but one was so bad we walked out. A few other people walked out as well, agreeing that he just wasn't funny.
The major problem with sea days (as with any cruise we think) is finding a chair to lay out on the decks. We tried to find two seats on the first sea day around 10 and it was almost impossible. We eventually found some but our view of the ocean was blocked by a wall. It was also very windy, but I was just happy to get a seat. I was also happy to have an e-Reader so that I wasn't fumbling with the pages in that wind.
The Lido deck was always packed as that was where the pools were. There was also a huge screen that you could watch from the deck which was cool. The pools seemed small and crowded with kids, but not being a swimmer I did not go in. My boyfriend enjoyed the corkscrew slide many times, which could also be seen through a skylight in the atrium inside. Very cool. Mini golf also seemed popular. Our other sea days were cloudy and rained on and off. We did go in a very nice hot tub (and we sought out the one with the fewest kids...), but then it started lightning and we all jumped out. There seemed to be a lot more hot tubs than I have seen on other ships, which was nice, but they were often too crowded with kids for me. We tried to get seats on the Serenity deck, but we could never get a seat. Each day my boyfriend went out earlier and earlier to get a seat, and even at 8 a.m. a ton of seats were already saved.
We didn't do anything at the spa other than the co-ed sauna, which was really nice. It was especially nice after cold and windy sea days. They also had female and male steam rooms.
SHIP IN GENERAL
We would like to note that we read quite a few reviews saying that the ship was extremely rocky, and also a few reviews that thankfully pointed out the obvious that we are on a moving ship. However, the ship definitely rocked more than any we had been on. Not ones to get seasick, we did not mind it, and in fact it seemed fun to me, but if you are one to get sick then that may be a problem. My boyfriend talked to some staff, and they told him that the ship stabilizers were often not fully on because they slowed the ship down.
There were quite a few more elevators on this ship than any we were previously on, which was nice, but they still were slow. Not having a choice to take the steps though, we were ok with the waiting. A female voice would announce each floor, but sounded like she needed some serious uppers...
It was also a nice change to have many family/wheelchair accessible restrooms on the other non-cabin floors. On much older ships it was my experience that there was only one or two other accessible bathrooms on the entire ship.
On another accessibility note, many of the doors to the desks were automatic, which made it much easier to get around.
Overall the ship was beautiful, with sparkly granite and tiles and over the top glam, but it is a cruise ship so it should be. We glanced in the kid/teen areas which seemed pretty cool too.
PORTS OF CALL
Our first stop was in Nassau, Bahamas. We have both been to Nassau numerous times, and are tired of going to the over-priced Atlantis to fill the day, so we just went to the port to use the free wifi, and window shopped.
Our next stop was St. Thomas. When we first went to breakfast before getting off the ship I was shocked at the amazing view out of the ship windows of sprawling high green hills. It was breathtaking. We bought an excursion for a boat tour that day, but when we lined up we found out that the boat's transmission blew out, and we obviously couldn't go. That was a major bummer but to our surprise they refunded the excursion. After that we decided to take a cab to Megen's Bay Beach. The cab ride was a nightmare, and I quickly learned to appreciate US traffic rules in comparison to whatever (if any) traffic rules existed in St. Thomas. My boyfriend read that the best thing to do was to rent a car and drive around the island, and I could not be happier that we didn't! Megen's Bay was beautiful, with calm water surrounded by green hills. Since it was ridiculously hot we spent most of the time in the water. We rented beach chairs and there were bathrooms and some food, but we didn't eat there.
Then we went to a restaurant we read about in a tour book called Cuzzin's Caribbean Restaurant. We should have known something was up when the cab driver told us he would get us as close as he could. We went down some crazy narrow local roads to a restaurant with a sidewalk that was two feet off the ground and crumbling steps at the corner. Being physically disabled and only able to walk a little, I found it ironic that we probably found one of the most inaccessible restaurants in the Caribbean... I was thankful that I only had one drink at the beach so that I could get myself inside. Apparently when we got there at 4:30 p.m. they were close to closing but we ordered their local dishes. We got conch fritters as an appetizer, and I ordered shrimp and conch creole with fried plantains, potato salad and fries. My boyfriend had curried lamb, rice and beans and coleslaw. Hands down the best meal all cruise, and worth the trouble for us. This was our favorite day and port.
The next day we went to St. Maarten. We bought a bus and boat excursion tour and learned a lot. It was still beautiful, but not as green. We first went on a bus tour on the Dutch side to Simpson's Bay, and then a ride in the bay to the French side. We wanted something to eat after gazing at all of the celebrity homes and yachts on the water, but we were warned by the boat captain that the French restaurants were extremely slow. He was not kidding. We sat at a restaurant right next to the dock and ordered whatever the chef said was "fast." "Fast" still took 30 minutes, but we talked with a local man and passed the time. The food was great. I had Mahi Mahi with fettuccine and veggies in a butter sauce and my boyfriend had a spice crusted red snapper. Yum! After that our time was up and we got back on the tour to do the bus tour of the French side back to the port. Again we were amazed at the driving conditions there. I thought I was afraid of the bus going around the round-abouts, but then we caused a major traffic jam when our bus went up the windy curve just as another bus went around the curve on the other side of this road. Because this road was barely wide enough for one lane traffic let alone two, the other bus had to pull off into someone's dirt driveway and the rest of the traffic behind him had to back up while we made it around the turn. The other drivers didn't seem phased at all but we were praying... Generally it was a good time and our tour guide was great. We also think we picked up the bus driver's young daughter from the side of the road during our tour probably after school... Odd but I guess acceptable in St. Maarten.
All in all we had a wonderful cruise and we can't wait to do it again. We are generally really satisfied with Carnival and would cruise with them again. We can't wait to cruise again!