I booked this cruise based on what I was personally looking for in a cruise ship. I was most interested in a newer ship with amenities that would appeal to both my 8 year old son as well as myself. After I confirmed the trip, I started reading the reviews on the Carnival Dream. My son and I were so excited about this trip. It was his first time out of the U.S. In reading many of the reviews I started to become apprehensive about the trip due to the many negative remarks. Needless to say, I went into this with my expectations very low. I read many negative remarks about long lines, a foul smell, terrible food, cold food, bad shows in the theater, bad cruise director, etc. I was definitely prepared for the worst. So here goes my take on this boat...........
Embarkation: was absolutely a breeze. We arrived at the port and pulled in for the curbside porters to take our bags. They were extremely helpful and efficient. We parked at the port parking garage and made our way down to the terminal. Once there we quickly made our way upstairs and waited in a short line for check in. This was a very fast process. We received our sign and sail cards and made fast work of walking through to have our photo taken. We were on the boat within 30 minutes of arriving at the port. Once on board, we decided to take advantage of being right there at the shore excursion desk and book our excursions. (of which included the Behind the Fun Tour which I HIGHLY recommend. I will discuss that later in the review) That was the longest line for the cruise due to passengers not knowing what they wanted to book and taking a great deal of the clerks time to book the excursions. Not too bad though, about 30 minutes. Well worth the wait however, because many of the excursions sold out quickly.
After that we went to the Lido deck for lunch. Yes, there were long lines. It was, after all, embarkation day and everyone on board was eating lunch at the same time. The food was hot and prepared correctly. Did I like everything? No. But it was a preference thing not a food preparation thing. Not once during our cruise did I encounter cold food at the buffet. We ate breakfast and lunch there every day. It is my opinion that some people are just looking for something to complain about. I was pleased with the selection. There was always something that both my son and I enjoyed.
We were told that our cabins would not be ready until after 1:30, however we were able to get into ours prior to that. The cabin was small but perfect for 2. We had more than enough space and everything was nicely appointed and clean. We were extremely happy. Our cabin was mid-ship on the Verandah deck. We loved the location as it was centrally located. My son quickly learned the room service procedures and we took advantage of that luxury numerous times. The food you can order is limited but the selections were nicely prepared and the service was fast and efficient. This was a daily highlight for my 8 year old.
We did not find that navigating the ship was an issue. Sure there were times when we got turned around but it was not enough of an issue that I would complain about. We had a lovely time.
We went to the show in the Encore Theater each night. My son thoroughly enjoyed each one. I thought the entertainment staff did a great job. We did not take part in any of the other entertainment options while on board. (for example night clubs, as I am a single mom traveling alone, casino, same reason, or the comedy shows. Though I heard that all of the above were satisfactory) We did enjoy a few other things in the Encore such as bingo and game shows. All were much fun.
We had late dining. This worked out very good for us because it allowed us to make the most of each day without the rush of getting back to the cabin to dress for dinner. We dined in the Scarlet Dining Room (aft). Dinner each night was excellent. There was a good variety of food and again it was nicely prepared and served hot or cold when necessary. Again, did I like everything I tried, NO, but I did try some things I had never tried before. Again, this was a preference thing not a preparation thing. I was extremely satisfied with the dining experience. Our wait staff was very accommodating and friendly and efficient. No complaints.
I also read about the cleanliness of the ship. I noted that the cruise staff were constantly cleaning. I also noted that I have never been around so many people with no manners whatsoever. Passengers were leaving trash in the hallways, ice cream cones on the carpet, and on and on and on. If you wouldn't do it at home, please don't do it on the ship. These are basic manners.
Each port of call had its own charm. I will not review these ports as Carnival has no control over your experiences there. I will say though that St Martin was wonderful and I would love to return there today!
We did the Behind the Fun tour and it was well worth the money. I thoroughly enjoyed it and my son was absolutely fascinated. I would recommend this to anyone who can afford to do it.
Debarkation was simple as well. As much as we hated to leave, the process was made easy by the great Carnival staff.
I would recommend to anyone considering this ship for their next cruise to take a chance on the Dream. We had the time of our lives.