Our group consisted of me (43), DH (Dear Husband 49), TB (the boys 12& 13), GM (My Mother, Grandma 68) and DN (my Darling Niece 17). Out of all of us cruised before except for DN it was her first cruise.
First thing flying in the same day from NY don't do if you can avoid it. Plan an extra day to recuperate from the flight. The flight was good our ground Transportation Sunny Transport was top notch (www.sunnytransportationservice.com)! We defiantly will use them again. Our Driver was waiting for us when we arrived and got us loaded into the Escalade and we were on our way. Our driver stopped at a gas station a few exits away from the port as per our request. DH went in and bought 4- 12packs of soda for us adults that don't drink that much soda (to avoid paying $1.95per glass charge on the ship)(the children helped themselves to it also). We purchased the bottomless bubbles for the teens to save some money. We were let off at the tented area as per Carnival. My son left his iPod in the truck we called once we were on the ship. They found it and held it till we were picked up.
The boarding process was very quick and efficient. The maze we had to navigate was long DH went under most the ropes. GM complained we had to walk too far. Yes it was a long long walk and at 68 and not so good hips, yes it was! She did say if she did it again she would get a wheelchair. When we got up on the lido deck it was raining (ok more like a down pour) so the buffet was very crowded. We finally found a table and sat down with our 4- 12packs of soda (DH was glad to put them down). The lunch was really nice a good variety of choices although my DN did not like anything at the buffet (very difficult teen).
At 1:00 we were able to go to our rooms. We (I, DH& TBs) had a balcony room and GM & DN had an interior handicapped room. We were on the starboard side on Vista deck 9, beautiful rooms. My only complaint about the room was on the balcony you could smell of cigarette and cigar smoke (the starboard side is the smoking side on the open decks) and it was noisy from the Lanai hot tub on promenade deck. When you are in the hot tub you can see into the balconies of deck 6, 7 & 8 so much for privacy. Our room steward was good, but we did ask him on two separate occasions to empty the mini fridge. It never got emptied! That was the only problem with the room steward. We did not have a cruising or snoozing sign to put on the door for the first two days so after that the room was always kept nice. His towel animals were a big hit! GM and DN's room was nice no couch, but seeing it was a handicapped room the bathroom was huge. It was conveniently located near the elevators and one deck up to lido deck.
We were in the Scarlet upper dining room 8:15 seating. Seeing there were 6 of us we did not share a table with anyone else. Our waiter Fernando from the Philippians was fabulous he had two assistants! On the first elegant night he was left alone. He served his tables by himself (I don't understand how they could leave him alone with 4 or 5 tables) but he was a trooper. He did tell us about his family and how he was supposed to go on leave at the end of the week but due to bad weather he was extended two weeks. That meant he was away from his family for seven months and two weeks. (I don't think I could go that long without seeing my children and my husband.) He was very funny and entertaining. He knew our names and likes by the 2nd night. He did tell us his next assignment would be on the Carnival Splendor! We wish him the best of luck in his life! He was a great waiter and should be given a raise just for having to deal with DN! We did give him an extra tip on the last night.
The shows on the ship are typical of Carnival but we enjoyed them! The Carnival Legends show was good I give our fellow guest that got up on the stage credit, I could never do it! We enjoyed the comedy shows. The juggler was great!
Cozumel, Mexico. The port was beautiful. The shops did whatever they could to get you to come into their shop. We did the stingray encounter. I booked this threw Carnivals website. We had a lot of fun! Though I really did not get the snorkeling part (swallowed too much salt water). But the encounter was cool and feeding them was interesting. Our guides for this were very knowledgeable about the stingrays and explained all about the barb they use for their defense. They took lots of photos that you can purchase (of course I did) at a nominal fee. I would recommend this excursion it was a lot of fun!
Belize City, Belize. Never did the tender thing before, but not bad at all. We had to meet at the Burgundy Lounge and get a number and wait for your number to be called. (The way they made it sound is that it would take hours to get off the ship. Well it didn't!) We got number 7 and sat down to wait. They called us about five minutes after we got there. Our tour was not threw Carnival. We booked ATV-ing and Cave tubing threw www.cave-tubing.com we saved a bundle and had a great time! They were waiting for us outside the cruise terminal with a sign with my name on it. We got on the bus and were introduced to Speedo our tour guide! What a sense of humor this man has. He went out of his way to accommodate GM and her not being able to do the 1 mile hike into the jungle. The ones doing the ATV-ing got off the bus first. That was us. Boy was it muddy on the trail for the ATV's but so much fun. GM had a blast along with the rest of us. After the ride through the mud we rinsed off and got into a van and went to the national park for our cave tubing part of this excursion. (One tip don't wear cheap water shoes it's like walking barefoot) It was a one mile hike in the jungle to the cave. The path was all rocks it was not horrible but cheap water shoes don't help. We got to the river and the rest of the people from the bus were waiting for us. The water was cool and refreshing after the hike. There were tours from Carnival there also, our tour went further than theirs and at the end we were able to get out of the tube and swim. It was fabulous! After the tour we went back to the ATV place and had a snack of homemade tamales, they were really good. It was the first time I had ever had one. They don't take photos so remember to take a water proof camera. They will take photos of you with your camera. We had never done an excursion that was not booked with Carnival, so I was unsure of how it would be, but the reviews were right. If we were to go back to Belize again we would defiantly do this excursion again!
Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan. Well we did not go into the port that was originally planned for we had docked in Roatan but on the other side. DH, TBs and DN were booked for zip line express with Carnival. Due to the change of port they needed transportation to the zip line express. Well that was not good TBs told me they were in the bed of a pick-up truck sitting on benches going up a steep mountain. They were not concerned with the welfare of my children and husband just on making a buck. (I was not thrilled to hear this and will be calling Carnival to complain about it.) The original port they would have had a ten minute walk to the zip line. As for the zip line adventure TBs DN and DH loved it. They had a blast. The company took photos of them on the line and DH did (the right thing) purchase the disk of photos. GM and I were scheduled to do the Relax on the beach tour for 2, but due to the high wind it was canceled Money was refunded to the sign and sail account. We did do a little shopping but there was really not much at that port maybe the other side had some better shopping?
Costa Maya, Mexico. We did not book anything for this port just went to the cruise port center. There was a pool and lots of shopping and armed guards walking around. The pool was salt water DN was not happy with that and went back to the ship. Senior Frogs tried to sell us a photo for $18.00 and we could not agree on a lower price so we said no. There were many shops and one of the venders was trying to buy my (free) Carnival bag I got when I applied for a credit card, but I did not sell it to him. (I had too much stuff in my bag.) After spending some time taking photos and doing some shopping we went back to the ship to relax.
Back on the ship we played some miniature golf it was nice but really hot not much shade up on that deck. TBs, DN, & DH liked the water slides but the lines could get quite long. The outdoor theater is quite nice we enjoyed watching movies in the evening. We do hope that Carnival installs this feature on all the ships. The games in the arcade accept your sign and sail card for payment. That is not really a good idea see ing my 12 yr. old spent (too much) most of his money there.
The self-serve launderettes take the card also, but there are so few on such a large ship. The price was $3.25 to wash and $3.25 to dry. There are 4500 guests on the ship and only to have 3 self-serve launderettes available is not good!
DN went to Club O2 and had a blast met some really nice kids. TBs would not go to Circle C so I cannot tell you if it is good or not.
The pools on the ship are a bit small but you are on a ship they really can't put an Olympic sized swimming pool. DH and TBs played a game of ping pong.
The casino is nice but the cigarette smell lingers (as an ex-smoker I notice it more) in the area.
The Carnival Dream is enormous wear comfortable shoes and explore, I think I need two more weeks on that ship to be able to find everything. The Shops are nice. Room service was good. My 13yr old tried a pastrami sandwich for the first time and then decided to order it from room service. If you are trying to not gain a few pounds while on vacation do what we did. We went to the main dining room for breakfast and lunch. When we went to the buffet we ate soooo much more than in the main dining room. The food was really good. The best part of the vacation is not having to cook or clean for the entire week so enjoy yourself!
We decided to do self-assist. So we kept our bags on our room and it was pretty easy seeing all of the luggage was on wheels and only one large suitcase. We had breakfast in the main dining room and enjoyed being served one last time. By the time we got back to our rooms they were calling for self-assist debarkation to head to the gang way. We were off the ship by 8:15am and threw customs. We called Sunny Transportation and our driver was on her way. We had to wait about 20 minutes, but who knew we would get off so quickly. We arrived at the airport 4 hours before our flight was to leave! So I facebooked! Our flight left on time and we arrived at Islip Long Island, New York airport as scheduled.
So all in all it was a Great Vacation on the Carnival Dream! Go on and see for yourself! Don't let the negative reviews turn you away. If I did we would have missed out on a fabulous vacation.