Overall we had a great time on the Dream. This was my second time and first for the rest of the group.
Travel to port: we live in the Los Angeles area so needed to take a long flight to get to the port. We opted for a red-eye with arrival at 5:30 am the day the ship left. This is the third time I’ve done this and each time I swear I am never taking the red-eye again. We didn’t have any issues at all but arriving the day of the cruise doesn’t provide any cushion in case there are issues. And, let’s face it, taking the red-eye is terrible. At best you are only getting a couple hours of sleep. In my opinion if you have the time, travel a day early. Cheapest option to get to the port and provide us some flexibility was to rent a car. We found a coupon code for a great discount on Mousesavers.com for Budget car rental. We picked up the car at the airport and dropped off at Port Canaveral. Process was very easy and for a group of 4 was much cheaper than any shuttle service.
Embarkation and FTTF: Even though we all received an email not to arrive before 12:30 we got the port at 10:30 AM. One cabin had Fast to the Fun and the cabin opted not to pay the extra. Check in process for both cabins as the same, easy, fast, no lines. FTTF group was called about 11:00 to go to the second story waiting area. After about 20 minutes we were on our way to our cabin. Our cabin was ready as promised. The cabin that didn’t get FTTF boarded about 15 minutes behind us and although the cabin wasn’t ready they were able to store their luggage.
The Ship: I was first on the Dream in July 2010. The ship is 3 years older but I really didn’t notice any wear and tear. The ship is big and some reviews people complain about areas being crowded. I never once felt there was too many people. The one exception is the main pool area on sea days. The lounge seating by the pool is very very limited. The deck above doesn’t offer seating in the sun. You need to go two decks up to get to additional lounge seating if you want the action of the main pool. Other than this there is plenty of seating including the serenity area, Deck 5 promenade, Deck 11 mid ship Jacuzzis, aft pool.
Food: we had Any Time Dining because that’s what worked for our group. In total we were a group of 9. Only two nights we needed to wait for a table and the wait was only about 20 minutes. Service was great and good was great, no complaints. Because we were a large group it did take longer to serve the table. On average dinner took 2 to 2.5 hrs. That’s a bit long but we did see smaller tables turn over much quicker. If you are in a large group and plan on going to the shows then you need to plan accordingly or break the group up into two tables for faster service. Food options were good but we did miss out on the Blue Iguana Cantina breakfast and lunch options. I hope that Carnival puts this on all of the ships.
Ports: Cozumel: Part of the group chose to take a taxi to the Money Bar and part chose to rent scooters. Those who went to the Money Bar had a great time. There isn’t a sandy beach area but the area is nice, water warm, and drinks some of the best. I also suggest the Guacamole and Ceviche. Those who chose the scooter rental chose unwisely. The scooters were not the best. One seemed to have some steering issues with the end result of someone taking a spill on the road. The scooter ended up with a few more scratches but rider ended up with a badly scratched up leg from the foot to the upper thigh. Word of advice: DON’T RENT SOOTERS IN COZUMEL!!! That little single scooter spill in the road resulting in run from the authorities, scooter rental owner, and a daily (for 4 days) antiseptic wound scrub in addition to several hundred dollars of medical costs and a payoff to the scooter rental company.
Belize: We choose to use Cavetubing.bz for Zip Lining. I highly recommend Cavetubing.bz. They took great care of the group, the equipment is new, they provide a wonderful lunch, and they got us back to the port in plenty of time.
Roatan: we choose to stay at the free beach area. If you like to snorkel, there is great snorkeling off the small wooden pier at the far end of the beach. The coral area is some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Costa Maya: We choose Nohoch Kay all inclusive beach break through Island Marketing. This is the second time I’ve been to this beach. They really know how to take good care of their customers. Again, I highly recommend Nohoch Kay.
Debarkation: We didn’t have a flight until 6pm so we were the last group off this ship. No problems no issues. I tried Luggage Express for the first time and will do it every time now. I didn’t have to lug my luggage around the customs area or mess with it until I picked it up at LAX. That was the best $20 I spent on the ship.