Carnival Dream Cruise Review by jimmygu3: Second Time on the Dream Was Even Better!
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Second Time on the Dream Was Even Better!
Our family of 4 cruised on the Dream to the Western Caribbean in March 2013, and decided to do a repeat to the Eastern side this year. We all had a great time on both trips!
We parked at Park'n'Cruise, which saved about 50% over parking at the port. Embarkation was super fast. The guy behind us got his case of "water" promptly confiscated when the security agent opened and tested the liquid for alcohol. We got a cabin on Panorama Deck 11, which I think is the perfect location (see cabin review).
FOOD: The food is good. It is amazing to me how they can keep the quality so high for such a huge group of people. Highlights were the omelet station, excellent pizza, Indian Tandoori, and the main dining room dinners. The buffet is just average, but we could always find something decent on it. We did Your Time Dining, and generally ate at peak times (7-7:30). One of us would go down to get a pager while the others were getting ready. It was generally a 20 min wait. It would More be nice if the ship had more individual restaurants, rather than just buffet-style stations.
STAFF: Antonio in the Crimson Dining Room was amazing. He did lots of tricks like balancing forks on toothpicks, and really entertained the kids. Michael was another good waiter. All of the MDR staff were pleasant and helpful. Be prepared to wait for your entrees some nights. We didn't have anywhere else to be, so we just relaxed and had more bread and butter. We didn't see our room steward Ari much but he worked hard and always got us what we needed. Activities staff were always fun and friendly.
PORTS: See my port reviews. We did not prebook any tours. We prefer to take taxis and sort of "wing it".
ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were the same we had seen the year before, so we skipped them this time. The male singer was new to us and sounded good. On the pool deck, Troy and Scott would alternate hours of acoustic guitar. Troy has a great voice and was very pleasant to listen to while sunning by the pool. Scott is a very accomplished guitarist but his vocals are hit-and-miss. He likes to get the crowd involved and people seemed to enjoy him. Brian Bradley in the Punchliner comedy club was very funny. We are sorry we didn't see the other comedian. We did Super Team Trivia in Ocean Plaza every sea day, and our team ended up winning. :)
TEENS: Our 15yo daughter really had fun at night with the "O2" 15-17 crowd. They have a dance club for them, but she said they didn't stay there much, preferring to walk around the ship and eat pizza and ice cream cones. Our 12yo son didn't do the "Circle C" 12-14 club, but apparently it was fun for the kids who did.
FITNESS: The gym is nice, and fairly small for the ship. It is usually crowded. Beautiful views off the front of the ship. Some of the machines could use maintenance, but overall a good fitness center.
MEDICAL: Our son threw up in the middle of the night one night, but was feeling better in the morning. As a precaution, and at the urging of the nurse on the phone who said we could fill out a form and get free medication, we took him to the medical center in the morning. They issued him a CDC-mandated quarantine order not to leave our cabin for 24 hours. It was very upsetting, as he was not really sick. He had to miss the day in St. Martin, and we had to eat buffet food that night in the stateroom, as his card was deactivated for the gangway and the MDR. Consider yourself warned.
OVERALL: We all loved the Carnival Dream, and wish we had another week aboard! Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Dream Balcony Panorama 11252
This room has an excellent location. It is right by the elevators, but that does not create a noise issue. The Panorama deck isn't one people go to unless they are staying on it, so it stays pretty quiet. There are no public areas directly above or below. The Lido pool, bars, and buffet are just steps down the hallway. The Dream Atrium and Crimson Dining Room are a quick elevator ride down. The spa and gym are just one floor up. We had 4 people in the room, with the kids in the bunk beds, and my wife and I in a king bed. There was enough storage for all our stuff, and the room was cozy and comfy. The balcony and views were gorgeous, of course.
Port and Shore Excursions
Nassau right by the port is abysmal. We took a carriage tour on recommendation of another cruiser, and it was bad. Most businesses were shut down, and the driver had nothing interesting to say. Fortunately, my son suggested going to the beach, so we took a cheap cab ($4/pp) to Cabbage Beach. Do it. It's an unusual, steep beach with rolling dunes and huge, powerful waves. We found a high spot and enjoyed the sun. There's a bar that sells all-you-can-drink rum drinks for $20, and the guy was very insistent that our 15yo daughter should buy one. "You're on vacation!" Uh, no thanks.
We went to Orient Bay beach in St. Martin, and got 2 chairs and an umbrella for $20 in front of Kakao restaurant. Our French/caribbean lunch there was AMAZING, but priced in euros, it wasn't cheap. Beach was gorgeous, with fine white sand and every shade of blue water. Taxi is $8/pp each way.
St. Thomas was way better than expected. The downtown area is filled with typical tourist shops, but most of the buildings are 300+ years old. Very cool cobblestone streets and ancient brick structures. A guide on the street sold us on his open air bus tour of the island for $25/pp, taking us to a couple picturesque lookout points, giving some history, and spending 2 hours at Secret Harbor beach, which was delightful.