This was our eighth cruise, seven on Carnival and the second time on the Dream. We picked the Dream again because we only live an hour away and it is very convenient to get to Port Canaveral. The new terminal for Carnival is very easy and convenient with parking within walking distance.
I won't bore the readers with the usual comments about food and service and long lines. If you have sailed with Carnival before, you know how to cope with these factors. I will provide some new information to some of you hopefully.
We booked the FASTER TO THE FUN option and it was worth it. After the disappointment of finding out Carnival has changed their rewards program to make it harder to get to VIP status we almost switched to another cruise line. But the FTTF option was only $50 per cabin and it turned out to be worth it. This option gets you priority boarding and allows access immediately to your cabin...no waiting on Lido with your carryons. Plus your luggage is delivered priority so we were able to unpack leisurely and then head to Lido for lunch. We arrive at the port before noon because you never know when accidents on the Interstate will delay arrival. FTTF also gets you a special line at Guest Services (no Waiting) and priority debarking at ports and the final debark once the cruise is done. This was nice because we did not have to vacate our cabin and wait in the lounge for our number to be called. We just walked off the ship when we were ready to go. One more detail or tip for you is get a porter once you return to Port Canaveral because they get a special (shorter) line through Customs. Now FTTF is volume controlled so book your cruise early enough to get this option.
Now for details on the cruise. We sailed with 4000 other passengers and did not mind the crowds except on a sea day with rain and everybody was in the Buffet and casino. But that is not Carnival's fault. Get to the shows early to insure you see the dancing and singing which is top rate. Jaimie Dee is the cruise director and she did a good job. She mingled with the crowds and often saw her in the Ocean Plaza leading the dancing and singing.
One mission for this cruise for us was to find out how the ship handles food allergies since we want to take our granddaughter on a family cruise and she has a severe peanut allergy. I was impressed on how Carnival handles this important issue. The maitre d and the head chef in the dining room will contact you before dinner the first night and determine what food from the menu the passenger in question desires. Then it is prepared by one chef separately from all the other food. NO peanut oil is used anywhere on board. During the first night in the MDR they will give the passenger the menu for the next night and have that food ready to serve with the rest of the table. And so on the whole cruise. The same is done for breakfast and lunch in the MDR. They will give you access to the head chef for the buffer on Lido if you desire to eat there. So seems like a very good plan and they do it for all kinds of dietary restrictions.
On the last sea day I took the BEHIND THE FUN tour of the ship. It costs $95 and they only allow a very few to go on this tour. You cannot book this excursion ahead of time but must get to the shore excursion desk early. Since we had priority boarding I was able to sign up. I enjoyed the tour behind the scenes and got to see a lot of the ship no one ever does get access. Besides the galley where 150 people work and I got to ask the head chef about the before mentioned food allergy, we were given a dessert sample and a long explanation on how they feed so many people fairly promptly. The store rooms and meat cooler were next plus the recycle operations and the crew quarters. The engine control room was interesting. We had a back stage tour and I was surprised to learn all the performers have to maintain their own costumes and makeup...no helpers. All the crew have to do their laundry and clean their cabins. We then got a trip to the bridge where we got a tour from the captain himself and each of us were given the opportunity to "drive" the ship and got a photo to prove it. So I was pleased with the tour and worth the money although there is a lot of stairs and walking and the tour lasted 3.5 hours.
All in all this was another very pleasant cruise and we are talking about the next Carnival adventure.