This is a review of our cruise on the Carnival Dream to the Eastern Caribbean during January 2013. This was our 8th cruise, our 6th with Carnival.
We arrived in Cocoa Beach the day before the cruise. We stayed at the Sheraton 4 Points hotel. The hotel was very nice, and their restaurant was good. We booked the park and cruise package and left our vehicle in their parking garage for the week.
We arrived at the terminal the next morning at 10:45am by shuttle bus. We had purchased the "Faster to the Fun" program, and we felt it was worth the money. We breezed through the embarkation process and was in our stateroom by 11am. Amazing. 15 minutes from stepping off the bus to walking into our stateroom.
The Dream is a beautiful ship. We found our way around the ship without any trouble even though it is the largest ship in Carnival's fleet (along with it's 2 sister ships). Having 2 outer decks is a huge plus on sea days. There always seemed to be chairs available somewhere, if not on the Lido deck then on the Lanai deck. All of the clubs, bars, restaurants, etc, were beautiful. The Atrium is awe inspiring.
We found the food to be mostly very good. The Pasta bar is fantastic. The Tandoori Indian bar was excellent if you like very spicy food (which I do). The Burrito bar was also great. They make your burrito to order for you. The morning omelet stations were excellent, again because they make them to order for you. The 24 hour pizza was always hot and tasty. The only disappointment was the hamburger/hot dog grill. The hamburgers always seemed to be either cold and/or dried out, and the French fries were always cold. This ship NEEDS the Guy Fieri upgrade. We never ate in the MDR because we just don't care for a 2 hour dining experience. We also don't do the formal nights. We're on vacation and just like to relax. Different strokes for different folks.
We have always brought our own wide-mouth drink containers for the ice tea and lemonade. We were disappointed to see signs on ALL of the beverage stations saying NOT to fill personal drink containers. And the new plastic cups provided by Carnival are these little blue/green cups that are about half the size of the normal 10 oz cups they use to provide.
Now I'd like to discuss my only real complaint about the entire cruise. Carnival has quietly implemented a new policy of only having bar staff walk around with trays of the DODs on embarkation day. The rest of the week they walk around with a tablet taking orders and then returning with your drinks 15-30 minutes later. So you can't just flag down a bar guy and grab 2 DODs. For us this was an inconvenience. The least amount of time we waited for drinks was 15 minutes. The average was 20-30 minutes. And since they've already charged your S&S card you have to wait where you ordered so he can find you. We really would like to see the bar guys walking around with DODs on trays like they used to (at least on the Lido deck). In fact, so many people figured out it was quicker to just walk to the bars and order their drinks that there were always lines of people at the bars. How much trouble could it be to have the bar guys carry a few DODs with them while they walk around taking orders? We asked a bar guy when they changed the policy and he said "It's always been this way". We've been on 6 Carnival cruises as recent as last year and this is the first time we've seen this. Also, they have done away with the souvenir cups except for the coconut and large bone shaped cups. Drinks are now server in smaller plastic cups, meaning smaller drinks than you used to get in the souvenir cups for the same price. A Bahama Mama or Pina Colada still cost $8.95, but served in the new smaller plastic cup rather than the larger souvenir cups they used to come in. The DOD costs a dollar less served in the same plastic cup. What it equates to is less drink for more money.
We booked stateroom 6471, an extended balcony room. This is an L-shaped room. It was great. The bed faced 2 windows looking out on a double length balcony. We spent a lot of time on the balcony and enjoyed it.
Our room steward (Ron) was very pleasant and did a good job of keeping our room fresh.
In fact, all of the ship's personnel were friendly and were always greeting us.
I won't go into much detail here since there is so much available online about the ports.
We stayed on the ship in Nassau since we've been there numerous times and it is not a favorite stopover for us.
The Havensight Mall in St Thomas is always a nice place to shop. An there's a small grocery store there where we bought a 12 pack of soda ($5) to bring back on board the ship. FYI, you can bring up to 12 sodas per person on board in each port (20 oz or smaller). Since the ship charges $2 per soda plus gratuity this was a no brainer for us.
Our favorite port is St Maarten. We always take the water taxi to town and shop.
Because we purchased the Faster to the Fun program we were given zone 2 luggage tags. But since we did self-assist we just walked off the ship at 7:00am. We were through Customs and back on the shuttle by 7:10am.
In closing of this review I would just say the cruise was wonderful. We enjoyed ourselves. Carnival does a great job, but there's always room for improvement with anything.
We will most certainly go with Carnival again in the future. We see so many negative reviews online. A cruise is like any other vacation in that you can look for the negatives and have a terrible time or you can overlook them and enjoy yourself. There are always minor issues with every vacation. Just focus on the positive and enjoy yourself.