This cruise was our first Girls Only cruise. It was myself, my daughter and her best friend. They are both 20 and had just finished their sophomore year in college. We are from Mobile, AL which is only a 2 hour drive from New Orleans so that is one of the main reasons I chose the Dream for this cruise. We chose this itinerary because my daughter has wanted to go to Atlantis for years and we had never been to the Bahamas or Key West.
I had purchased FTTF so we arrived at the Port of New Orleans around 10:30, paid for parking then entered the garage area. You drive up and the porters will take your luggage directly from the car. They automatically placed the orange priority stickers on our luggage. We then went up another level and parked. There were attendants in the elevators that made sure you went to the correct level. We were directed to the FTTF line and received our S&S cards after waiting for only 1 person. The regular lines were not bad at this time. The waiting room was quite full at that time. Right at 11:00 they called for the Diamond, Platinum and Suite guests to board. That went very quickly and then FTTF was called. The handicapped/wheelchair people were already lined up against the wall to board next.
We went to the front of the room where there were several stations set up to check you onto the ship. The line processed through very quickly and we made our way onto the ship, to the elevators and up to deck 11. The fire doors were closed with the sign stating Platinum/Diamond/FTTF were welcome to come in to their cabins. Our door was shut and the cabin was ready. We dropped off our carry-on luggage and went for lunch.
I had booked a Spa Balcony cabin – 11229 which is on the starboard side. The balcony size is standard and this cabin is underneath the edge of the spa area. The location is quiet with no noise from above. There were samples of Elemis brand shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion. These were not replaced during the cruise. The beach towels were yellow with the Serenity logo on them and the robes had the Cloud 9 Spa logo on them. The décor is a little different than a standard cabin but other than those things it is the same as any other balcony cabin. There is a private staircase and elevator for direct access to the spa. The only issue I had with the cabin was the never ending balcony door slamming by our neighbors. They never seemed to go through the door together, always 1 slam followed by a 2nd one and they were constantly going in and out on the sea days. This is one thing that will make me not want to book on Carnival again, I much preferred the sliding doors on RCI and Celebrity. The spa balconies are all non-smoking and I never smelled cigarette smoke while out on the balcony. The views from there were really great.
The ship is very beautiful and I never saw an area that wasn’t clean. There were always workers cleaning in all areas of the ship. To me the ship never seemed overly crowded other than around the main pool area. The elevators were only a problem after the shows let out and then you only had to wait a few minutes for one. We only used the Guest Services line once on the last night to return a library book and our FTTF came in handy. There were at least 25 people in the regular line but the Diamond/Platinum/FTTF line only had 1 person in it so there was really no wait.
Cloud 9 Spa
I really enjoyed using the different steam rooms, thallasotherapy pool and relaxation rooms in the spa area, I used them every day of the cruise. There were never over 2 or 3 people in any of the areas when I was there and many times I was the only one. The Thallasotherapy pool was a very comfortable temperature and very relaxing. I used the shower in the Spa daily. It is much larger and nicer than in the cabin and the blow dryers in the locker room seem to be more powerful than the ones in the cabins. There are plenty of towels for use in the spa areas and there are flavored waters and teas provided in the Relaxation Room. I will be booking the Spa cabin again if I book on a Carnival ship that has it. I didn't take any photos of the Spa. I would recommend you go to YouTube and search for Carnival Dream Spa. Another CC member did a wonderful video tour of the different rooms in the spa that you can view there.\
We ate at the steakhouse the first night as it was Mother’s Day. We did receive the complimentary bottle of wine, you had a choice of a red or white. The entire meal was excellent, every item that we had was perfectly cooked and the service could not have been better. We ate in the main dining room the other nights. We had Anytime Dining and it worked really well. We arrived between 6:30 and 7:00 every night. 5 of the 6 nights we were seated immediately and on the other night we waited no more than 10 minutes for a table. We were seated with the same servers 3 of those nights (Pituck and I Gede) and service with them was excellent. I would say that we didn’t receive an item that we thought was bad. Everything was good to very good.
Food – Lunch
The Pasta Bar was excellent and I hated that we never made it back there for lunch a 2nd time. We had room service a couple of times for lunch and afternoon snacks. The food always arrived within 15-20 minutes and was mostly good. The only bad item we had were the chocolate chip cookies. They were very hard. The chocolate cake and the Shrimp Salad sandwich were both good. The Shrimp Salad Sandwich is a very small open faced one so not really enough for a meal but a good snack. We also had sandwiches from the deli that were just okay – nothing outstanding there.
Food – Breakfast
I had breakfast in the buffet area on most mornings. There are extra stations set up by the main pool and aft pool (Tandoor station) for breakfast with the standard things like eggs, bacon, toast, cereal and fruit and there was never line at the Tandoor station. No bacon police there either, you serve yourself. I got fresh cooked eggs at the omelet station a couple of times and the wait wasn’t long, they seem to have a very good system for it with three orders going at each two different stations each time I went. I did think it was worth the wait for the fresh eggs. The scrambled eggs they had were terrible to me. It was all standard buffet type food, some things pretty good and some things barely edible.
We attended 2 of the main shows, the country show 8 Seconds More was pretty good. The two lead singers were very good and there is still a live orchestra so the music was also good. We missed the Motown show but made sure we saw Dancing in the Streets. I have to say it was the best show I have seen on a cruise ship. The Fun Force team really made that show, they are excellent and I would encourage you to see this one. The things that they do in the show are really amazing. We also saw the Fun Force show on our last night onboard. Their interaction with the audience, especially the kids is very good. I also saw the Blackjack band for a short time in Ocean Plaza one night and enjoyed what I saw of them.
Key West, FL
We had no real plans for Key West so we slept in later and let the large crowds of people get off first. We then made our way over to Duvall Street. We wandered around for a couple of hours, went to the original Margaritaville and bought T-shirts and Tervis mugs and my daughter had to eat lunch at Hard Rock Café – expensive for her to get a plate of mac and cheese which was $16 but it started raining just as we got there and I had a drink and a snack of chips/salsa while she at. Lots of bars and restaurants in the area and there were a couple of drug stores if you need to pick up something while there. We went back to the ship and I spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting on the balcony reading and watching the others come back onboard. Our decision to get back early was good as the line to get back on eventually stretched the full length of the pier and it was very warm that day. At time to sail we heard a page for a passenger. She came really close to getting left behind in Key West. We started pushing away from the pier just after she got onboard. There were two different passengers taken off the ship in ambulances while in port. There was an ambulance there just after we docked that morning and another one came to the ship just after we got onboard. I heard that the morning one was to take a boy to the hospital that had a broken leg but never heard about the other.
We got off around 10:00 and headed to the taxi stand area to get a taxi to the Grand Lucayan Beach Resort. The taxi was $8 each round trip and the Resort fee was $15 each (Cash Only) so we had a good, safe beach/pool day for under $30 each. You have use of the resort pools/chairs and restrooms for the day and their beach was really nice. Only saw a couple of people trying to sell things and a quick no thank you was good enough. You do have to bring your own beach towels here.
The main reason for choosing this cruise was visiting Nassau and going to Atlantis. We got off the ship about 9:30 and got a water taxi over to Paradise Island. The trip over was nice and the guide told about the Island and the area on the ride over. It is about a 15 minute walk to Atlantis from where the water taxis dock. The adult day passes were $125 each. We got to get a good idea of what Atlantis has to offer, the tube rapids rides were really fun and we add did the Leap of Faith slide once. We also had lunch there which was good but as expected was a little expensive. We left there by 3:00 to have time for the girls to shop for purses and shoes. Nassau is not a place to walk around by yourself although at the time we were shopping the schools were getting out and lots of kids and parents out and about. There were a lot of police visible standing on the street corners and walking the streets. We were back onboard by 4:15. Another ambulance took a passenger off the ship before we left. It was sad as there was a family of 5 or 6 debarking there. A small bus came to pick them and their luggage up just after the ambulance pulled away.
With FTTF we automatically received zone 2 luggage tags. That morning the self-assist people were called at approximately 7:00 with zones 1 and 2 being called right at 8:00. We were off the ship quickly, claimed our luggage, through customs very quickly. We had luggage loaded and were pulling out of the garage at 8:30.
I also posted this review in the main Carnival board – that one has photos and links to the video that I took on the cruise and the Fun Times that I saved.