Bear with me on my first review. My husband and I have taken 3 Carnival cruises in the past, and then took an NCL cruise a couple years ago. I couldn't wait to get back on Carnival! This was our first cruise on the Dream, and we weren't disappointed, so let's go:
Embarkation: We live in Central Florida, so we just drove over to the port that morning. We parked at Park-n-Cruise off 528 and it was so nice. only about $50 for the whole week (as opposed to $120 at the port) and we kept the keys--which made my husband happy. We actually dropped the baggage off at the port first, so we wouldn't have to lug it on the shuttle. This was an excellent decision, as we already had our hands full with our rambunctious 2 yr old, her umbrella stroller, a diaper bag, and our carryon rolling backpack. We got back to the ship around 11:45 and were on the boat in no time. We went up to the Lido to get our first hotdog and fries, thinking we would have quite a wait for our room. This wasn't the case, as we checked and were able to get into our room by 1:00.
Cabin: LOVED OUR CABIN! We were upgraded from a cove balcony to a spa balcony by our PVP. Usually we don't spend much time in the room, so I always expect cramped quarters. We weren't sure if we'd have room for the pack-n-play for Devan to sleep in, but there was plenty of room. We met the steward right away (on NCL, never even saw him/her). And I think Devan had them wrapped around her finger right away. Loved the attention they all paid to her (and us). Juan set the couch back, was we wouldn't be using it as a bed and kept us stocked with extra washcloths and towels throughout the week. The towel animals were awesome. Our favorite was the monkey hanging from the ceiling. The balcony was beautiful, I did notice that the walls between cabin's balconies could be opened too. I think the neighbors were glad there was some sort of sound barrier at times though (hard for little one to wind down to sleep some nights) Although if she screamed, we would take her out so as not to disturb sleepers, and she enjoyed running off energy. Oh, and her stuffed toys were always arranged in bed, so cute. The balcony was a wonderful way to start the day and end the day. We watched flying fish for quite some time out there, and it was neat to watch the islands as we came into port.
Ship: At first I was getting lost, trying to figure out which direction to go. But it was pretty easy to get around. There wasn't as long of a wait for the elevators as I thought there would be (or are usually on other ships). The grand atrium/stairs were smaller than I expected, but thee was a nice little lounge/dance floor that Devan LOVED every night. Dana and Tony were great entertainers, and Devan had her own audience most nights LOL.
We didn't visit the lounges or dance clubs, but we did go to the comedy show. I went to the Adult night one night, but walked out about 15 minutes in. Just wasn't funny to me, and I felt like I was wasting my time. We all went to the family comedy another night and it was pretty good. We also had a great time at the theater shows. Devan was fascinated by the dancers and singers. They were ok, not great, but ok. Seemed like the shows were pretty much the same.
Lido deck wasn't as crowded as I expected, even on sea days. I had read on boards of all the chair hogs, but we didn't encounter many, and there were always plenty of chairs. Once sea day, they all had towel animals on them though LOL. way cute.
Shops were small and not much enticing me to buy. We always love the photo gallery, and bought a few pics. I had high hopes for Cherry on Top, but there didn't seem to be much in there either.
The ship was in good shape and very clean throughout. I would need to say though that the clearing of the lido deck tables was very slow, and that was usually where there was a wait. I didn't experience any smells that others have complained about.
Food/Drink: Gotta say, Kiss on the LIps is my favorite froofroo drink now LOL. We had great service from the bars, although slow. My husband went to the bar each time, and I wasn't even approached by waiters throughout the whole cruise. Usually I'm always having to wave them off.
Buffets weren't impressive, as I usually am very pleased with them. Nothing to rave about, and not a lot of variety. Was disappointed in the limited hours as well. Was nice to find the buffets at the back, there were hardly ever lines back there. The chocolate buffet was good, but the cakes were all very dry. Didn't get much at the Mexican buffet, as the line was crazy. The flan was yummy.
Pasta Bar was delicious. We ate there the first day and the last day. I had ordered the same thing both days, and they both were different from the other. Good though.
Deli was my husbands favorite food source. They even recognized him by the second day! He would get a ham & cheese on rye late at night, and an extra one to take to the cabin--for even later LOL.
Usually he lives on the pizza line, but this time it wasn't good at all. He had one piece. I didn't have any. I think with the recipe change it was way too salty.
He also liked the Tandoori bar, and had that a couple days as well. I did try the Burrito bar, but wasn't very impressed. It was all really dry.
We ate in the Scarlet Dining room every night (except one, we ate on Lido). Our waiter, Nassadeven was awesome. We had another 2 yr old girl and 4yr old boy at our table and this waiter knew his kids. He had their food out right away, and they all loved the extra attention he fed them. Our service was really slow the first night, but it did get better. The food was pretty good. It was kind of a hit or miss of what you ordered. One night my filet was awesome, a couple nights later, not so good. I wasn't as impressed with the Lobster night, as I usually was. The Melting Cake was also a hit or miss. It's my favorite, so I usually had that every night (sometimes with another dessert as well). One night it would be perfect, the next night really goopy.
Room Service was awful. My husband ordered a grilled cheese, and a ham & cheese (before he found the deli) on the first night. It took 1 1/2 hrs to get it, and then the grilled cheese was cold, and the box of milk was warm. We also ordered breakfast one morning, and weren't very impressed with the lack of choices.
Ports: We only had one goal in Nassau: to get a knock-off purse at the straw market. They must have cracked down on the licensing, as there weren't any to be found there. But we did find one on a side street. We didn't stay around long (it was a short day there anyway), and we wanted to get back on the ship.
St. Thomas was interesting. We went to get a cab, hoping to go to Captain BlueBeard's castle. My husband said Blue Beard, and they whisked us into a minivan with 5 other people. We went on the other side of the island. I thought maybe the other group were going there first. We knew the castle wasn't that far from port. Well they took us to BlueBeard's Resort, a Wyndham resort. When my husband told the driver we wanted the castle, she started yelling at us and at her dispatcher on the phone saying we were calling her a liar. The others in the van were amazed at the treatment as well. The driver took us to another resort, where we got onto another cab. The gentleman driving that one was much nicer and said they should have confirmed, as there are two Blue Beard's (well we found out there are at least 3). He took us to the castle, which seemed small and unimpressive to us. We walked around the little hotel that was connected, thinking we'd walk back down to the port/downtown area. After seeing there were no sidewalks and we didn't feel safe walking the narrow road, we hailed another cab to take us down. We shopped a little and found a great little restaurant in the historic area. Gracies. She had been there for over 45 years and I had the best fried plantains that I've ever eaten. Totally made up for our first part of the day.
St Maarten was beautiful. We took a cab to Orient Beach, We do enjoy clothing optional beaches at times, so we were comfortable. We just got unpacked and comfy on the chairs (nice deal. $10 for 2chairs, an umbrella, and 2 rum punches) and it started to rain. So we packed up a little and ran up to the restaurant for a quick lunch of chicken tenders. The rain travelled through fast and we were able to go back down and relax. I never realized the water could be so blue. It was a little chilly to go in though. Devan and Daddy enjoyed walking the beach, while I enjoyed laying around. After getting sufficient sun, we decided to head into town and shop a little. The shopping was the same at all three islands. If you're going for jewelry, you'd be in heaven. I wasn't, so we were un-impressed.
Crew: As I said the housekeeping crew was awesome. Everyone else on the ship were great too. They all really doted over my daughter and Devan was blowing kisses to them all. Jaimie and Gumby were fun and I don't know how Jaimie does it. She has so much energy. Everytime we saw her, she was dancing/jumping and didn't seem to slow down much at all. She gave Devan big hugs every time she saw her.
Camp Carnival: I had such high hopes for the camp. We hoped to be able to drop Devan off a little every day, but it didn't work out that way. The first sea day, we took her up and she cried a little--not anything major. We went to the spa (more on that soon) and after a couple hours came back to find her sleeping on the floor on blankets with pillows. So sweet. Seems as if she fell asleep just 1/2 hr after we left. Everytime after that when we would drop her off, she screamed and screamed. We would watch on the monitor outside the door, and she would calm down only if she was in a lap. We didn't think that was fair to the counselors or the other kids, so we would just get her out. We were able to leave one other time, and we escaped to the spa again. After 1/2 hr I checked the phone (they provide a cell phone on the ship which was awesome) and they had called twice. I called and they said they couldn't calm her down, so we went back and got her. So Daddy and Mommy tag-teamed cruised. We would take turns going to a show or the spa.
Spa: Awesome! We didn't think we'd be able to use the spa ammenities, as we didn't pay for our upgrade and it was free. Well, we had full use of it. The thassolaso (Sp?) pool was the best. Both my husband and I agreed that was the best part of the whole cruise. It was actually kind of fun when we were in rough water, watching the waves crash. The steam rooms and tepidation room were really nice and comfortable as well. I couldn't bear the aromatherapy room for long though, it was way too steamy/hot and the smell of eucalyptus was too strong for me. It was so refreshing to have infused waters (orange & lemon) to re-hydrate with. The ammenities in the room were nice too: thick robes and slippers.
Sea Days: One day was rainy, and we pretty much napped the whole day! Loved it! We also participated in Win Lose Draw and the Match Game. We had a great time on the digital scrapbook, just wish there was more time to do it. We didn't win any ships on a stick, but we did have fun with it. I didn't get to lounge on deck much, but one afternoon Devan fell asleep on me, so we layed out on deck and I got to read a whole chapter in my otherwise unopened book.--oh and had a Kiss on the Lips drink.
Disembarkation: Went very smoothly. We actually slept in! We had placed our luggage in the hall the night before, including the pack-n-play, so we had an extra sleeper in our bed that night. We just tossed our remaining things into our carryon bag and headed up to the Gathering/Lido restaurant for breakfast and a final ice cream cone (yep, we had at least one every day). We were dragging our feet having to leave. Once we headed out, it was like a cattle drive. We found a porter right away, and shared him with another couple. Little did we know that they had purchased more than the customs allowed, so we were detained while their taxes were calculated. It didn't bother us too much, because as I said, we really didn't want to leave and return to real life anyway. We got out to the shuttle, and bam we were back at our car in no time--and heading home.
We met many people on the cruise, and many were cruisecritic members from our roll call. I highly recommend checking out all the boards and rollcall meet&greet. It was nice to recognize people by the end of the cruise.
We're already looking forward to the next cruise. We'll be sailing on Ecstasy in September with Grandma and Grandpa. I'm thinking we might get a night of babysitting, at least. But I think Devan will be ready for Camp a little more by then.