This was our second voyage on the Carnival Dream, sailing 2-15-14 to 2-22-14, but this time to the Western Caribbean. We parked again at the cruise parking across the street from the Radisson Hotel in Cape Canaveral (closest to the terminal) at about noon. We took the waiting shuttle for the short drive to the ship. The driver took care of loading our bags, was very friendly and joked around with the passengers. When we arrived, our bags were unloaded and we proceeded to check in with our hand-held bags. There was only a short line and we were quickly on our way to board.
Our room was clean and ready for us right away. We met our steward, Newbon, who welcomed us and asked if everything was okay with our room. He was attentive to our wishes and needs throughout the cruise, and we enjoyed our short conversations with him. After unloading our luggage, we proceeded to the Lido Deck, had a nice lunch, walked around the ship and spent time enjoying the view from our balcony as we left port.
We always spend the majority of our cruise time on our balcony. For this cruise, we were on the Main Deck with a cove balcony in room 2-329 (mid-ship) and we found it to be very comfortable and spacious with a convertible sofa, coffee table, vanity and a king-sized bed. There was plenty of storage in drawers and closets, a safe for valuables, a refrigerator and a hair dryer. We were careful to look at the ship’s plans before booking this cruise in order to avoid having a stateroom near the galley and other noisy spots. Because the cove balconies are three decks below the Promenade, they are in a very quiet location. We chose to cruise on the Dream a second time because we wanted to experience a cove balcony before the ship moves away from Florida to New Orleans. To compare it to other balconies, we enjoyed being so close (about 30 feet) to the surface of the water, and the surrounding structure and lifeboats above shielded us from the sun and wind. We would highly recommend the cove balcony experience.
The following day was a sunny and calm sea day on our way to Cozumel, Mexico. We started by having brunch in the Scarlet Dining Room. We shared a table with three other couples and enjoyed their company, the view of the water, good service and the food. We had a late lunch at Pasta Bella (above the Lido Deck), which was very good and seems to be somewhat of a secret due to its out-of-the-way location. It is really great to be able to make our choices of type of pasta, sauce, and ingredients ranging from meats to vegetables, and have it prepared fresh with options for caeser salads and bread.
Overall, the food on board wasn’t bad, keeping in mind the fact that the ship must cater to a very broad range of tastes. We had only one dinner in the Crimson Dining Room, which we enjoyed. We didn’t hit every food option on board, but we sure did try. One night we happened upon the Chocolate Extravaganza dessert buffet, which was beautifully presented with a myriad of choices. The Wok Bar proved not to be worth the long wait time; the dishes were also short on serving size of meat chosen. We enjoyed the Coffee Bar at least once a day and appreciated the staff’s willingness to customize our orders.
During past cruises, we felt that the constant loud party music on the Carnival Lido Deck was annoying after a while. This trip, we noticed that the choices of music there had been toned down somewhat. It was more enjoyable, at least to us.
We arrived the second day at Cozumel and had booked a sailing excursion on the 12-meter America’s Cup yacht race. The staff helped us to choose crew positions and divided the group into two crews for the competing ships, the Canadian “True North” and the U.S. “Stars and Stripes”. After practicing our position duties aboard “True North” while sailing around the sound, the race was on. The competent captain and crew were friendly, knowledgeable and entertaining. All said and done, it was a very close finish; we won by six feet. Afterward, we didn’t spend much time in Cozumel, except to do a little shopping, and headed back to the ship. We enjoyed this port and wished we had more time there. We look forward to returning one day.
The next port of call was Belize City, where we had booked an excursion to Altun Ha Mayan Pyramids. This is a tendered port, so there was a 15-20 minute ride to shore where we joined our tour. We boarded a comfortable tour bus and were driven around the city, which appeared quite poor, but friendly. The drive to Altun Ha was about an hour and twenty minutes over bumpy roads. Three knowledgeable local guides gave many details about the history, customs and more current information about the city and country along the way. As we arrived, we walked past stalls containing many wonderful mahogany figures and other crafts for sale by local artisans located near the bus parking lot. After a short walk to the pyramids, we enjoyed hearing about the 1964 discovery and extensive archaeological history of the site, but there wasn’t ample time left to explore the area before our departure.
The next day, we arrived in Mahogany Bay on the Island of Roatan, Honduras, which appeared from the ship to be mostly covered in beautiful undisturbed jungle. The attractive port facility was built by the cruise industry so there were a lot of activities and shops. We had thought that this would be our beach day, but since there were two ships in port, we found the waterfront overly crowded. We could not find any open chaises, so we settled for briefly getting our feet wet and having a drink from the bar before heading back to see the shops near the ship.
Our final port was Costa Maya, Mexico. We had heard there are some beautiful beaches via a short taxi ride, but with the early arrival and equally early departure time, we opted to visit only the local shops at the pier. There were three cruise ships in port and the area was extremely crowded, but there were some good deals for bargain-hunters. The shopping area was nicely done, and if you are so inclined, bring your swimsuit and you can enjoy a pool that has two swim-up bars.
We enjoyed a relaxing sea day to relax on the way home. Carnival did offer entertainment in the Encore Theater, but our tastes don’t include singing/dancing routines, so we didn’t attend these. We saw at least one show by each of the four comedians, but only enjoyed the performances by two of them.
Disembarkation was smooth and orderly. Overall, we enjoyed this cruise and would sail again with Carnival. We find that Carnival makes a very good effort to meet the expectations of guests, especially given the reasonably-priced fares.