A bit of background my DH and I are avid Carnival Cruiser and I am a part time home based travel agent. We are 28 and 33. We traveled with my grandparents (my parents as they raised me) both in the mid 60s. They are also well traveled!
Okay lets go.... After searching for an inexpensive winter getaway DH and I were very excited about cruising on the Dream as it was one of the newest and biggest ships in the Carnival fleet. My parents do not really like Carnival as NCL is more of their style of cruise. However it was my hubby and gma's birthday so my parents (at the last minute) decided to join us on the cruise. We were also excited about the Western Caribbean itinerary as we visited numerous new ports. My gma had been to Roatan but everything else was new to her. Everything was new to dh, gdad and I.
Okay so we flew Southwest from BWI to MCO the morning before the cruise 1/6/12. I will honestly say I hate Southwest. Their seating system is terrible however the trip More
was uneventful. We had pre order transportation from Cocoa Beach Shuttle. They were not there when we arrived at MCO and they took about 20 minutes to get there when we called. Then the driver acted like we had not pre arranged transport. It was annoying. But we were finally on our way after a few minutes. We stayed the night at Country Inn & Suites. I loved the hotel. Nothing spectacular but the staff were very friendly. It wasn't warm enough for the pool so we went to lunch at Zachary's Family Restaurant. We had the best clam chowder on earth. The rest of our meal wasn't too appetizing but the soup made up for that. We ended up ordering some to go and eating that for dinner in the hotel. Once back to the hotel we all took naps. The Brian and I got up and played in the arcade, went online and went to the store to get sodas and snacks for the cruise. The next morning we weren't too happy about the long wait for bfast but hey it was free so no biggie. After that they started transporting ppl to the cruise ships Yay. I think we were on the 2nd bus to go out and our driver was very entertaining.
All I can say is we loved, loved, loved it. It was the biggest we've been on. Deck 5 was the best IMO. We spent a lot of time just walking around outside on that deck. It was so peaceful and quiet there. We also enjoyed sailaway on that deck. There were about 4 or 5 ships at Port Canaveral so it was fun riding past all the ships and honking on the way out. Some of the other things we enjoyed on beard were the mini golf and the big movie screen (DH and I would go up and get popcorn and skip the movie most nights though). We went to the wine tasting, awesome experience. We had a chef (cruiser) at our table who actually knew a bit more about the wines than the sommelier so that made the tasting extra informative. The spa was amazing. DH and I went on the tour in the beginning of the cruise and really considered getting the week long pass. But the trip was port intensive so we didn't think it was worth it. But we plan to have a spa cabin on our next cruise on the Breeze!
Our feelings were pretty neutral about the food on this ship. Overall it was okay. We ate dinner in the MDR all but two nights (all but 3 for my parents) which is much more often than usual for us. This was our first time trying the new menu and really it wasn't that big of deal. We liked it just as much as the old one. DH and Gdad each had the fried chicken 1x and thought it was just okay. My gdad who really enjoys exotic food was really disappointed with the shark and the frog legs. I actually liked the frog legs a lot. I also ordered the chilled fruit soups each time they had them and both my gma and I really loved them, the men not so much. One night DH and I ate dinner on Lido and actually enjoyed it more than dinner in MDR. It was the same menu but we could pick and choose and we were happy with it. We also ate there for the choco buffet. I am not a big choco person but it was delish. We ate most bfasts and lunches on Lido. But we also tend to get addicted to the Cesar salad at the pizza place so that was my regular midnight snack. I loved the Mongolian wok and had omelets there for bfast as well. We only has the Indian food 1x which I was very upset about bc we lovvved it. We never made it to the pasta place but heard really good things from other CC members. We ate at the Steakhouse and weren't really impressed. We usually eat there 2-3x but on 1x on this ship. Service there was subpar and the food wasn't as good as usual. We also loved the Sushi bar. Also I enjoyed the new drinks in the punchliner's comedy club. I met a bar tender at the Casino bar who works in Punchliners also so he was able to make me the drink I loved but I can't remember the name of it.
Okay DH and I were in balcony cabin on the Vista deck, Worst decision ever. We were underneath the outdoor pool deck area on Lido and we could hear every single thing. It was soo bad that we complained on day 2. We received 30% of our cruise cost back on our S&S and 20% off our next cruise. Carnival staff handled the problem so well. However the $$$$ didn't alleviate the noise which really made the trip less relaxing than planned. We had a great room steward. Very personable and we joked with him constantly. His personality made us not notice that he wasn't that good at cleaning the room. Of course we tipped him extra!! He was awesome, kept trying to steal me from my hubby so we could go party together. My parent's room was on Lido and they had no problems but for some reason their room felt smaller than ours.
The staff on this ship were exceptional. We dealt with a couple ppl bc of the issue with our room and they were very professional and accommodating. The supervisor checked in on us over the course of the cruise and gave us her direct line in case we had any issues. I was in charge of the CC party so I worked with a staff member for that as well. She was great. Also our dining room team was awesome. Our lead server was so serious and focused. He had been on cruise ships for over 20 years and he was exhausted. He only had 1 cruise after ours and then he was retiring. Also this was the 1st time that we ever saw the Maitre D actually interact with ppl in the dining room, good stuff. I don't even remember the CD and fun staff.... That says it all. We also had a problem with the internet cafe guy never being around. We had a discrepancy with internet usage that the purser's desk couldn't address. They kept giving us the internet guy's schedule but he never showed up for work. There were times that there were groups of ppl waiting for him to no avail.
Okay we were excited about these ports, however DH and I were disappointed that we only really spent time with my parents at 1 port. They were more focused on quick shopping in port and hanging out/relaxing on board while everyone was off the ship. So this is pretty much just what DH and I did. Also we never schedule excursions with the cruise line, too pricey. We visited Cozumel, Roatan Honduras, Belize and Costa Maya Mexico.
Overall this cruise was awesome. We planned to just relax but found ourselves being very active the entire cruise. This was our first time doing the past guest party which we enjoyed. We like the shows on this ship. Especially the one featuring the hip hop dancer. That was amazing. Dis embarkation was easy peasy no problems there. Cocoa Beach Shuttle was easier to deal with as they were there immediately after we called them. The flight back to BWI was terrible bc we weren't able to check in early enough to get seats together so I was stuck between a couple who didn't talk the entire trip. The read a book and the husband slept. I didn't know they were together until we arrived at BWI and she told him " I'll drive home bc you have the flu and I don't want you getting me sick !!! Of course I instantly became ill and was sick for 2 weeks!!!! What a way to end a marvelous vacay!!!!
This was a lovely vacay and I would definitely cruise on the Dream again but would choose a different room. I'm excited about booking the Breeze for 2013! Less
This was one of our favorite experiences at a port. DH and I went cave tubing with some other ppl from our CC group. We were worried that bc this was a tender island we would not make it to the port in time for our trip. However Carnival's staff was awesome. They had all the persons who booked excursions outside of Carnival meet in the lounge where the comedy show is. We all received tender tickets and were actually able to get off on the first tender boat. Once we arrived in port we found our guide Nacho and his team of NCQ Belize Adventure Tours. We took an air conditioned bus to the caves. We had a great island tour en route. Next we had three guides take us cave tubing (after a rather long walk that was soo worth it in the end). One guide took 8-10 ppl and we were tubing. It was soo much fun. We went through 2 caves (Carnival only takes you through one). It was beautiful especially the waterfall inside the caves. Also our guides made it so much fun bc they kept telling us spooky stories, making loud scary noises and wetting us up. We also had the best tubes on the water (the ones where the inner holes was covered so you couldn't fall thru). After tubing we went to lunch at a butterfly farm. We didn't have time to explore bc we were running a little late but lunch was delish (the limeade was amazing). DH and I ate with Nacho and Cynthia and got to learn a lot about life on the island and their experiences as a couple running a business in Belize. Next Nacho led the tour and which meant jokes and brain teaser all the way back to the port (we also stopped for Cashew Wine and Belizean Coca Cola, there was also coke, rum punch and beer on the bus for us to drink). After that awesome day dh and I went to a little restaurant for drinks and food to take back on board then tendered back to the ship.
This was supposed to be our relaxed port. After doing a bit of windowless shopping at the port we took a cab ride to the ruins. Honestly it was an expensive snooze. Then we came back ate lunch at the Cafe Cafe (that can't really be the name can it??? See the pics below) across from the port. The food was good. Next DH bought he and his bf _____ cigars as a gift. Prior to getting back on board we went to Fat Tuesdays to just relax and have a drink. We watched the water as the bar was really empty. This was a cool day.
Also an awesome day. I scheduled for my gdad, myself and another cc family to go horseback riding with El Rancho Barrio Dorcas. My gdad horseback rides on every vacay. However this was the most unique bc we rode through a community not just the beach. It was so neat to ride right outside of ppl's homes and talk to children and families while riding. Then we went to the beach where we were able to ride really fast with the horses. This trip turned into an adventure when one man in our group fell off his horse. Then his horse ran down to the end of the beach and was off into the community. About 10 minutes later one of the guides on horseback came back with the runaway horse and saved the day, fun/scary/shocking/embarrassing stuff. While we were riding my gma and dh went to the beach. They had a glass bottom boat tour and then we joined them for lunch and drinks. After a bit of shopping on the beach we watched a show then went back to the port and had drinks at Fat Tuesdays. My parents who aren't big drinkers or partiers really enjoyed watching the young ppl partying at the bar.