Although it was a bit more of an adventure than we were expecting, it was truly a wonderful experience! I went in with fairly low expectations as my last cruise was on Oasis of the Seas and I knew that a cruise half the price could not compare. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how wonderful the Dream really was. (No, its no Oasis, but it was great for what it was!)
Embarkation was super easy--we had Faster to the Fun and definitely loved it. Not sure it helped us get on the ship any faster...we got there at 11 and people were already boarding. But it was so nice to be able to drop our bags off in the room and change into our bathing suits as we pleased. We went and explored and when we got back about an hour or 2 later, our luggage was already at our room. Definitely will do FTTF again if I can on our next cruise! Also the special line for guest services definitely saved us hours with the situation on this cruise and guest services lines always being ridiculously long!
We had a spa inside cabin because a couple weeks before the cruise I was looking and was able to upgrade for only $20 from a lido inside! It was awesome!! The room was nothing special but the spa was amazing. The thalaso pool was wonderful after a long day in the sun and the thermal suite was great (although we mostly went in one room there). The tile chairs that look like they would definitely not be comfortable made my back feel unbelievably great. I highly recommend the spa on the dream.
We went to the steak house the first night because we wanted to do it and on the first night you get a free bottle of wine. It was quite possibly the best meal I have ever eaten. Truly worth the $35.
We knew we wanted to do the Cheers program but opted to start it on the second day since we brought on 2 bottles of wine and had the free wine with dinner. Of course we had some funship specials but less than the $50 a person so it was worth it to wait until day 2. Overall, Cheers was great. It was really nice to be able to try drinks and not feel guilty if we didn't want to finish them. We created a spreadsheet to see how much we saved overall and we saved over $200 and that's with us not drinking as much once the issues started on thursday. Carnival actually ended up refunding us $150 of Cheers in the end also so we truly saved even more but we didn't include that since that isn't normal but was definitely a nice surprise!
Seas were really rocky the first couple days--the worst that I'd experience on any of my 6 cruises! But we didn't get sea sickness or anything so it didn't affect us!
-CREW: the crew was amazing. Our cabin stewards, the spa workers, a few specific bartenders, guest services...just amazing. For a couple days our cabin steward told us he only had 2 hours of sleep but was still working his butt off and trying to make us happy. When the elevators werent working he told us he was having to climb 12 floors of stairs to bring us beach towels!! We obviously told him we didnt need new ones until the elevators started working again. He really went above and beyond and I felt bad for him because he was worried about losing out on tips for the canceled cruise so we left him some of our money that we were going to get refunded because he definitely needed it more than i did!
-Comedy club: We saw 3 of the comedians and we laughed the entire time! We did have issues getting drinks while there and once a waiter completely forgot about us so we didn't get a drink the entire show which was a little annoying but nothing to get super upset about. Just wish i had ordered from someone else if I had known our waiter was going to forget about us.
-Serentiy area: We chose to hang out in the serenity area because the furniture was more comfortable there and it was easy to get to from our cabin. We got to know the bartenders and servers there and had an awesome time. Didn't get to go in the hammock because it was full but never had a hard time finding a clam shell or loungers--even always got one in the shade and one in the sun which is what we needed!
-Comedy Brunch: only had it once because of the issues but the food was DELICIOUS and I enjoyed the short comedy pieces. Was sad we didn't have the other two sea days to have the brunch again!
-Pizza was delicious...had it every day. Had some issues with the guy serving it but after the 3rd issue with him, we went to guest services and explained (while also praising the wonderful service we were getting from everyone else) and next time we went back he was making the pizzas not serving them so the rest of the week, the pizza place was awesome.
-Deli and Mongolian were great although long lines at both...didn't stop us though!
-Pasta place was awesome. Went twice and definitely enjoyed both. It was never crowded like I expected either!
-Steakhouse: like I said, awesome. Definitely worth it.
-St. Thomas--we went to the Best Western at Emerald Beach which was perfect. Kind of a long taxi ride bc they dropped people off at other stops on the way but totally worth it. Beautiful beach, not crowded even though there were 5 ships in port! Just wonderful!!
-4 days in St Maarten--uh yeah don't need to say anything more about how beautiful our view was from where we were stuck in st maarten. It was amazing and it was the best place ever to be stuck
-Buffet: especially at breakfast it was really bad. Ate there twice and never went back for breakfast. Usually I dont love the breakfast buffet but I dont hate it. This I absolutely hated. Bacon was undercooked and eggs were cold even after they brought out a brand new serving of them.
-Food in the main dining room: Before we got stuck, the food was just alright. It was often just lukewarm and nothing special. I couldnt even eat the lobster on formal night because it smelled disgusting. The steak I had was never cooked correctly and was just bland. HOWEVER, once we got stuck and they were doing everything to make us happy, they got a special menu and clearly got better food and the last two nights dinners were significantly better! Wish it had been that way every night but the food didn't ruin my trip at all. Might just not eat at the dining room every night next time.
-Lack of information: They really did not keep us informed at all the first couple days. The toilets/A/C/elevators were only off for about 6 hours total and it was split up a bit. It was annoying at night because Jamie came on the announcements and said elevators would be shut off for 15 minutes (this was around 9-9:30). Well we left the show we were at around 30-40 minutes later to go to the bathroom and there was a sign saying the bathroom was closed. We stopped at guest services and asked and they said some toilets weren't working but it wasn't all of them. So we werent deterred--our cabin was up 6 decks and on the opposite end so we assumed it would be working. None of the elevators were working nor were the toilets. About an hour or so after that they said there wouldn't be anymore updates until the next day. We started to get a bit concerned but just walked around for a bit to see what was going on. Much to our surprise they still had the mexican buffet going on and people were still chowing down even though the toilets weren't working!! We got a good laugh out of that one. We continued to mull around and talk to a few other people since we couldn't sleep. Everyone joked about how we all assumed there was NO way carnival would let anything like this happen after triumph! Oh well. We went to bed around 12:30 and as we were laying in bed we felt the a/c kick back on and my bf checked and the toilet flushed! We went to sleep assuming we'd wake up at sea the next day.
Didn't get updated again until about 10 the next day. By this point i had a bunch of missed calls of my family freaking out because CNN was saying things were horrible. They told us we'd be flying out so that eased some of my concerns since I was just anxious about the situation but since toilets and elevators and everything was working, I was okay. They told us we had to turn in our flight info and we'd get our new flight info by that night and we could be leaving as early as 6 the next morning. Well we continued to check and check and never got any. Needless to say we had a pretty rough nights sleep waiting to find out if we were flying out at 6 am the next morning plus the announcements started REALLY early that morning getting people out. Finally around 6:30 on Friday they announced not to be worried if we hadn't received flight info so I felt better. Just wish they had done that the night before. We live in Florida and had a ride to the port so we weren't too concerned about that since we just were going to get a direct flight to Orlando and figured they would be fitting us in when they could. Finally around noon on Friday we went to guest services and they gave us our info that we'd be flying out Saturday night. We then relaxed and enjoyed the next day and a half in st maarten.
Overall, Carnival handled everything wonderfully. Yes, we had a day of frustration and anxiety but they refunded us 3 days so we couldn't complain! And we got an extra day of the cruise.
Before the issues, we had pretty much decided we wouldn't cruise carnival again for a while since the experience on Royal Caribbean is truly better for not much more money. However, since we are getting pretty much a free cruise with the refund and 50% of discounts and the wonderful way we were treated, we are going to try this again probably. We are looking at re-booking the dream with our refund and 50% off future cruise mainly because of the spa rooms and the wonderful crew! We'll judge that one and decide if we are going to pay full price again but it really was a great experience AND the way Carnival handled it was great.