Our eighth Carnival cruise since 2002 and we really liked the Dream, one of the more beautiful CCL ships we’ve been on. Also the largest to date and there were the typical crowded spots but we never felt too crowded. We were on the Western Carib itinerary sailing February 1 and we hit Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan, and Costa Maya. We’ve enjoyed one prior visit to Belize and Roatan, and we’ve spent a lot of time on Cozumel on previous cruises and while staying in the Riviera Maya. This was our first visit to Costa Maya.
For this sailing the early dining worked perfectly for us at all ports, we didn’t have to rush back for dinner and enjoyed lunch in every port, especially Belize. We cruised with friends on their very first cruise and so we watched as they experienced everything for the first time.
We stayed in staterooms 7381 and 7387 starboard aft and we enjoyed nice views of most ports from that side. Although Panorama deck was the same price as Empress I chose Empress deck to have the same room stewards that take care of the suites as we usually enjoy excellent service from these stewards. David was our steward and he was remarkable, the best room steward we’ve had since our first cruise in fact. He anticipated every one of our wants and needs including emptying the mini-fridge so we could use that for our drinks. Ice bucket was always filled 3 times a day, and even a bucket for our wine was filled as well. Can’t commend David and his staff enough for the service they provided!
One note - Because of the hot tubs along the starboard and port sides of the ship if you want a quiet day on your balcony take note where these hot tubs are if choosing a cabin port or starboard as they are popular spots during the day.
We had only 2 sea days and we spent most of our time on Lido aft in the adult pool area. The Serenity area was nice and very quiet, but we wanted access to the pool and a little more activity than we saw there. Just wanted to be in a spot where there were no kids but we could talk to others and enjoy music and the aft area worked perfectly.
As luck would have it we were provided with 2 bonus air shows on these 2 days. The first day as we were just clearing the Keys a very large Coast Guard plane buzzed the ship a couple times during training exercises. The last sea day we were treated to 2 jet fighters close to the ship, after a short while they shot up vertically at high speed and the first released flares as if evading a missile attack. Very neat stuff and both a real treat for the guys on the deck, at least.
We love music and we’ve enjoyed excellent entertainment in the piano bar on previous sailings, and we were also looking forward to the new venues on the Dream on Lido and elsewhere. This cruise we were entertained in Sam’s (the piano bar) by Bob the first few nights. Our friends thought he was a hoot and spent their evenings there. We tired of Bob after the first night and left them to it. To us Bob wasn’t an entertainer at all, but rather someone who’s been doing this gig way too long and who asked everyone to sing the lyrics much too often. And when anyone walked anywhere near the lounge he’d get the crowd to shout “Holy Ship –Come on in!”. After about the 50th time the first night that was enough for us. The problem is with the ship layout many of the people going to the Burgundy Lounge for comedy, etc walked through the piano bar because it’s not separate as in the earlier ships. One would think that Bob would play and sing rather than hoot at those busier times...just not fun for us but some others were there every night.
Troy was the entertainer (guitarist) in Sam’s the next few nights. Not sure if there were complaints about Bob or we just got lucky but Troy was great and we enjoyed him. He became a bit too much when he talked more than he played and we had to find another form of entertainment which was hard. 3 other couples played the various venues, the 1 playing the lobby was good, the other 2 were absolutely terrible. So sadly we were disappointed in the quality of musicians (or at least in their commitment to providing entertainment) on this cruise. There was one guitarist/vocalist I kept missing who was excellent (of course).
Dining was very good, enjoyed the hot dogs for the first time ever on a Carnival ship, and the omelets and eggs were great in the buffet. We had the absolute worst dining staff we’ve ever experienced in the MDR however. Really nothing to say there, just terrible service and the first time we didn’t tip extra. The pizza parlor is at the main pool which was different, and the ice cream stand was in a very inconvenient spot along the main aisle with heavy foot traffic. But overall the dining was good, we didn’t get lucky with our dinner partners (or they didn’t get lucky with us) as most either never left the ship or just went into the port area when they did. We enjoy hearing stories from others on their day and this table was lacking that unfortunately.
The weather was absolutely perfect every single day, what a great first cruise for our friends! They want to take a CCL cruise to the southern Caribbean next, sounds like we have cruisin’ buddies!