Carnival Dream Cruise Review by JSC64: A good cruise and but even better shore excursions!
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A good cruise and but even better shore excursions!
Prior to the cruise:
Radisson at the Port Hotel: Sleep number bed didn't work. Left a wake-up call that we never got. Hired Cocoa Beach Shuttle to pick us up at the Orlando Airport and to take us from the cruise port back to the airport. The first words out of the mouths of the baggage handlers at the cruise terminal were to ask for a tip. We watched from our shuttle as they took their sweet time, sat around and acted like they could care less about the flood of people trying to get on the ship - Not the best advertisement for union labor!
Onboard: Instant iced tea in the MDR was the first let down. We bought the unlimited sodas which were disappointing because the bartenders poured warm soda (from a can) into a glass of ice from a distance one foot above the glass which ended up as a glass of flat soda - this happened every time. The mixed drinks tasted great - would have tasted better if I could taste some alcohol but that never happened (if I didn't know better I More would have thought they were non-alcoholic, they might have been). They either have watered down booze or are extremely cheap on the amount of booze that they add to the drinks. We used the stairs throughout the cruise because the elevators seemed to be on every floor except ours and the wait for them took longer than the time on the stairs. The shows were nothing special. Our shore excursions were great as was our cabin steward Manuel. We had a very nice vacation, the pros outweighed the cons. Unfortunately we don't think that our next one will be with Carnival.
Pros - Manuel our cabin steward was fantastic, the waiters in the Crimson Dining Room (back right corner), we sat elsewhere once and were treated like red-headed stepchildren. Comedians were very funny especially Percy Cruz, why Carnival uses the small lounge for the comedy shows instead of the Encore Lounge is a mystery.
Cons - Kids pulling all-nighters on the Lido deck and acting like unsupervised. The loud, smokers in the cabin next to us that made our balcony unusable. Elevators that were always slow arriving. Instant Iced tea in the MDR. Watching that tattooed guy act like a fool during the hairiest chest contest. Chocolate buffet that isn't even worth discussing. Beds on the ship were very hard. The dancing/singing shows were mediocre. The cost of the photos were ridiculous. The number of unclaimed photos should tell Carnival that they're overpriced. If I was told to put my hand in my pocket with my thumb sticking out one more time by a photographer I was going to scream!
Cozumel: Paradise Beach - We took a cab to Paradise Beach. Went parasailing, laid out, and had a great time.
Roatan: Rony's Tours - Rony took us to his neighborhood, had free rum punch and told us about how they live in Roatan. That was one of the best parts of the excursion. We went zip lining, took a park tour and played with the monkeys!!, and finally ended up on the beach - great tour (tour #10 on his web site)! We spoke with some folks at the zip line area and found out that we did more on our zip lining tour (zip, park tour, monkeys!!, and beach) than those that booked through Carnival - and we paid less. Live and learn.
Belize: Cave tubing with Minor Tom - My wife and I went tubing in 2008 with Major Tom and had such a great time that we came back last week (July 2013) with our teenage sons. But - I misread the docking time in Belize and got off the cruise ship two hours later than I should have. Having to tender only added to the time delay. I thought for sure that my oversight was going to turn this shore excursion into a disaster. We hoped for the best and went ashore anyway. Once on land we began looking among the numerous tour guides for a Major Tom sign. It didn't take us long to see one of Major Tom's sons holding up a sign. As we approached (and my heart started to beat again) he greeted me by name and after my multiple apologies said that everything was fine and he'd take us to his older brother Minor Tom who would take us to the river. I later learned that Major/Minor Tom will wait until the last tender has arrived to make sure that nobody misses out on their cave tubing shore excursion (Something that the cruise line would never do). After that it was all smooth sailing (or should I say tubing!). Minor Tom was our private tour guide and did a fantastic job describing Belize and our boys really enjoyed talking with him. Once at the river he had us wait until the mega-tubing groups passed so that we weren't jammed together. He told us all about the cave history and steered us all the way through the lazy twists and turns. Once out of the river we had time to shop. On the way back to the ship we ate and relaxed. Minor Tom even stopped at a stand selling mangos which everyone ate and really enjoyed. We arrived at the dock/tender with plenty of time to spare. What I thought was going to be a complete disaster because of my mistake turned out to be a better shore excursion than we could have hoped for. Thank you Minor Tom for all that you did for us. You really saved us (me!). For you folks contemplating a Belize cave tubing excursion and are unsure if you should go off the beaten path and go with a non-cruise tour take it from me, a repeat customer to Major Tom's cave tubing - not only will you be safe and get to and from on time but you'll have a great time from beginning to end!
Costa Maya: Rented a golf cart and stumbled onto a little restaurant in the fishing village that was a slice of heaven. Owner was named Kiki or Kiko, Caesar was our waiter. Had great drinks, food, and seclusion. Other tourists would look and drive by despite our calls for them to stop and enjoy the paradise (their loss).
Disembarkation: We carried out our own bags with no problems. Reserved Cocoa Beach Shuttle to take us to the airport. The shuttle driver dropped everyone off at one spot. It wasn't until we were inside the terminal that we realized that we had to walk clear to the opposite side of the airport to get to our airline (I was glad I didn't tip the lazy SOB).
All in all we had a nice vacation. Unfortunately I've focused on more of the negative. Probably because we had such high expectations going in and it was easy to see where Carnival missed the mark. Don't think that Carnival will be our next cruise. The best parts were the shore excursions, especially the people that we met on those excursions and the people waiting in line for the tenders. Everyone was relatively patient and good natured about waiting in line or getting soaked on the tender. If I could do it all over again I'd do a lot of it differently, but luckily we left with a lot of great memories. Less
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