We were generally disappointed with our cruise. The overall attitude of the crew seemed bland and complacent. They did their jobs -- made the drinks, served our food and made the towel animals but we never felt like anyone was making an effort above and beyond. I think in this case it starts at the top. On past cruises every day the captain would come on the ship intercom to make his daily announcements with a great deal of personality, as if they really enjoyed their job. That attitude was then shared with the entire staff. The captain on the Dream would come on every day and methodically relay basic information (location, heading, speed, weather) in a very unenthusiastic monotone voice. And again the attitude of the captain seemed to carry through the staff. We seldom got more than a forced smile from anyone. So here's our lengthy review broken down into sections.
Before we left Port Canaveral every weather forecast agreed that the hurricane would make landfall between Belize and Cozumel late Monday. Carnival decided to sail us to Cozumel anyway. (The Disney Fantasy left right behind us and changed their itinerary immediately to go to the Eastern Caribbean.) After Cozumel, Carnival sent us to Progreso which is due west of Cozumel. Of course west is the direction the storm was moving. When we left Progreso we sailed through the north edge of the hurricane overnight. It was ridiculously rough. Many crew we talked to told us it was the roughest seas they ever sailed through. There was absolutely no reason for Carnival to sail us toward the projected path of a hurricane and then keep us in the area. I have contacted Carnival and the only response I received was "sorry but weather happens". Based on their response we will never sail Carnival again.
Ship - the good.
The Waterworks section is fantastic and the kids loved it. We spent hours there. Our 4-year old son also loved Camp Carnival. Each day he couldn't wait for us to read him the schedule so he could decide which activities to go to. It was truly the highlight of the cruise for us. We stayed on Deck 6 Aft and found it very easy to navigate around the ship from there, as long as you're willing to do stairs! The BBQ on the Lanai was great, best food on the ship. We went to one show in the main theater and it was very good. The Lanai on the Promenade deck was generally a peaceful place to hang out and it's a good way to get from one end of the ship to the other.
Ship -- the bad.
Who decided to build a ship for 3600+ passengers with only two small pools? By about 9am every day the pools were literally standing room only, and usually full of kids. Since there is no adults-only pool on this ship, adults had little chance to get in. The elevators, just take the stairs and enjoy the exercise. The Gathering is ridiculous. It's like eating in a high school cafeteria with an ice skating rink for a floor. Absolute chaos, long lines, not enough staff to keep tables clean. We avoided it after one visit. In general the ship is understaffed, case in point the pizza bar. We went one night around 9pm. There was one guy literally running between the pizza oven and the counter trying to make and serve the pizzas. And if you pay attention to only one thing in this review make it this -- there are several areas on this ship where the floors/decks are dangerously slippery. The Gathering is terrible but the worst is the deck around the Waterworks. You will see people slip and fall all day. Be warned and don't let it be you or your kid.
I already mentioned the attitude so how about the service? About the same. Our cabin steward was not very good. He did a fine job of making up the room but basic requests went unfulfilled for days. We kept asking for beach towels from the start. When we came back to our cabin after our last excursion he was proud to point out that he put beach towels in our room. My sister had her 6-year old son with her and didn't have a child sized life preserver. She asked him every day and he never brought it. (we found one in another room for him but didn't tell the steward just to see if he would ever bring it). Our waiter and his assistants were adequate. The addressed us by name and learned what we liked but it felt very rehearsed this time. Their attitudes noticeably changed on the next to the last day when they start looking for extra tips. This was also the only time we saw the matre d, on tip day.
We had room service deliver coffee and fruit each morning at 7am as our alarm clock. Nice to start the day with a cup of coffee on the balcony. We ate in the Scarlett dining room for breakfast every day. The food was generally good, the service was decent. For lunch we were either on excursions or had room service. At dinner our large group was seated upstairs in the Scarlett all the way in a back corner. It was great for us with a couple of young boys. But our food was slow in arriving and generally lukewarm. I'm not sure if it was the location or not. Despite being lukewarm we thought the food in the dining room was very good. When we got sushi at Wasabi it was very good. Specialty coffees at the coffee bar were very good and cheaper than Starbucks. All the mixed drinks we had were good. Biggest complaint for us was that our son is picky and only eats grilled cheese or chicken nuggets. The only way to get grilled cheese is room service, they won't serve it in the dining room. The chicken nuggets they served in the dining room looked they spent the entire week under a heat lamp, kept getting drier and harder every day.
We were in 6465 which is the last regular standard balcony toward the back on the starboard side. The rest of our group had rooms behind us, wrapping around the corner. It worked out great. The first night at around 8pm there was ridiculously loud music below us. At almost 9:30 I was getting ready to go to Guest Services and punch someone when it suddenly stopped. Never heard it again the rest of the cruise. The room itself was a standard cruise room. Like I said the location was great. Down two flights of stairs to the Scarlett. Up four flights to the Aft pool/bar. Down one to the Promenade Deck.
Cozumel, we had a great time. We had 11 in our group here so we just hired a van to drive us around. Went back to some beaches, the tequila factory and his favorite local restaurant.
Progreso, ugh! We weren't told until 6pm the night before that we were diverting here. My wife and I opted to stay on with our son. Apparently we made the right choice. Descriptions I heard -- filthy, rat traps everywhere, heavily armed military patrolling, pushy (literally pushing) locals trying to sell crap. Maybe with some notice and time to plan an excursion it would be a decent port but from what I heard/saw Carnival should not be stopping here.
Freeport, we walked off the ship and just found a company to take us on a glass bottom boat ride. We ended up with Lucaya Motorsports. Boat ride was okay, very rough. Afterward they told us we could go across the street to a resort, Taino Beach, for free. It was a nice beach and they have a really cool lazy river pool with a swim up bar. Definitely recommend it.
Nassau, we booked a deal with the Hilton to have access to their beach for $50/person with a $30/person resort credit for food/drink. Really nice beach, easy walk from the ship. Another thumbs up.
Nothing but positives to say. We flew into Orlando landing at 9:25am. Met our shuttle van and headed toward Port Canveral. We had him stop at a Publix near the port so we could all get our allotted bottle of wine. We waited in a short line, maybe 5 minutes to get through the first security checkpoint. After that we walked straight to a check-in counter and then onto the ship. We were on the ship at 11:45.
Getting off was simple as well although the pickup area for the non-Carnival shuttles is really chaotic.
In the end we felt like okay we did the big/ginormous ship thing so we don't ever have to do it again. It's back to mid-size ships for us. I sailed on the Legend a couple of years ago and it had all the same amenities.