This is my first review so please be nice :) A group of 4 families (15 people total) sailed the Dream on the March 23, 2013- Eastern Caribbean. It was the first cruise for one family and the 5th/6th for the others. All adults are in their 40's and the kids ages range from 10-16.
We all live in South Florida, about 2 hours south of Port Canaveral, so we decided to drive to the port the morning of departure. We all parked at the port and we all purchased Faster to the Fun. We arrived at 10:10a.m. and were on board by 10:45a.m. Since this sailing was the first one after the St Maarten incident, there were no passengers getting off the ship which made embarkation very nice for us.
Once on board we went directly to our cabins which were on the Riviera deck. We had four Deluxe Oceanview cabins in a row midship. My family was in cabin 1353, it was very convenient to the elevator that takes you directly to the main pool on the Lido deck. Our cabin was clean, quiet and having two bathrooms was awesome with a 12 year old daughter ;)Our bags arrived to our cabin right after we did. FTTF was well worth it!
Prior to sailing I read a lot of reviews and many times people commented on long lines and feeling crowded. I will say that I have to agree. While the Dream is a beautiful ship and I would by all means sail her again, I did feel that it was more crowded than my cruises on the Valor or Liberty. I'm not sure they increased the size of the common areas enough to account for the increased number of passengers. I do want to add that if this was your first cruise, I don't think it would bother you much. Just something I noticed.
Overall the service on the ship was good. Our room steward was the best we have ever had and the staff in the dining room were awesome. There did seem to be a shortage of waitstaff around the pools during the day. We ended up going directly to the bar most of the time.
This was my 5th Carnival Cruise and the food in the MDR for dinner was hit or miss. It was not as good as past cruises. The Steakhouse was awesome and in hind sight, we should have eaten there more than just the one night. It was well worth the $35. The food lines were pretty long for lunch but most moved quickly. The Deli was worth the wait as was the pizza and burrito bar. I did not care for the Tandoor Grill, the lines were always non-existent so I don't think many people did. I highly recommend doing the Comedy Brunch in the MDR on sea days. The menu and food were very good! Room service was on time 5 out 6 times that we ordered. Our order was always correct and the food was good.
Two thumbs up for the Cheers Program. All adults in our group bought it. A few of the men reached their limit of 15 on certain nights and yes they do cut you off completely. You cannot purchase another even if you want to pay for it. However, they do allow you to buy drinks for others. After some rough math my hubby and I figured we saved more than $500.
The chair hogs were out in full force on sea days. We got to the Lido deck by 7:30 one morning and there were only 2 chairs left midship. The staff did put stickers on the chairs and would remove items after 40 minutes. This allowed us to get two chairs near the pool, but the guy who showed up at 10:30 and his stuff was gone and we were in "his" chairs, was not too happy with us ;)
A few of the 10 yr old boys in our group did some Camp Carnival activities and said they enjoyed it, but for the most part none of the kids in our group really wanted to participate. They spent most of their time at the waterpark, arcade, basketball hoops and miniature golf.
We had two cruise directors, Willie and Gumbie. They did a great job! I'm not sure when they actually slept. The deck parties were especially fun. Piano Bar Bob was pretty good, not great, but we enjoyed singing along a few nights. We did catch a few comedy shows that were very good. We only went to one show in the Encore Theatre. It was pretty bad and most of us left before it was over. There were two guitar players on the Lido in the afternoon that were very talented and we enjoyed both immensely. The DJ on the Lido deck played a nice variety of music and it was the perfect volume. Two of the women in our group went to the spa which they said they enjoyed. The gym was clean and I never had to wait for cardio machines.
In Nassau, my family and one other family walked to Junkanoo beach for a few hours. We were not in port very long so decided this was our best option. It was a nice beach, about a 15 minute pleasant walk from the ship. Although for 3 chairs and 1 umbrella it was almost $50 which I thought a bit pricey. The other two families shopped a little around the ship and then got back on board.
We had a private tour with Godfrey Tours in St Thomas which took us to Magen's Bay. Beautiful! All 15 of us had a great day paddle boarding, swimming, lounging. After 3 hours they took us to the shopping area where we ate lunch at a great little Italian restaurant and did some shopping in an open air market. They drove us around in an open-air cab which was so fun. Highly recommend Godfrey!
We also had a private tour with Bernards Tours in St Maarten. Here we had a what looked like new, air conditioned mini-bus for a 6 hour tour. We stopped at Orient Beach, Maho Beach ( a MUST DO) as well as a few scenic photo stops and finally at the shopping area. Other than a really long wait to check in, our experience was good!
Disembarkation was effortless. The employees in Port Canaveral know what they are doing. The porter even took our bags all the way to our car in the parking garage. This never happened when we sailed from Miami or Lauderdale. We tipped him nicely.
Overall our cruise was awesome and I would definitely do it again tomorrow if I could. And oh how I wish I could!