First let me apologize for the length of this review, but you, the consumer, deserve my detailed experience and formulate an opinion. A formal letter will be sent to the office of CCL as I hope that CCL will want to make some significant improvements.
I booked the CCL Dream Christmas cruise several months in advance to take advantage of the "new" ship look and smell as well as specific stateroom for the Spa cabin. My husband and I have been very loyal to CCL - this was our 7th cruise and I must say there are by far more negative comments than positive comments regarding our experience on the Dream. One significant lesson I learned in booking future cruises- avoid holidays and spring break. There were entirely too many kids on this cruise. Information from the staff indicated there were over 1000 kids on the 12/19 from Port Canaveral - Virgin Islands cruise.
Embarkation- Overall went smoothly - we didn't encounter any major problems. I did like to boat drill; however, the staff continues fails to enforce being quite during the drill. If Management would step up and enforce the quests being quite, taking the drinks away, stop cell phone usage people may take this seriously.Elevators- The best we have used on any ship. Fast - reliable. Kids frequently interfered with the elevators.
Debarkation- Organized, efficient and fast. Finally a method to keep from people jumping ahead of their slotted time to exit the ship. Again, the best process (usage of zones & you have a time slot in which you should be getting off the ship) in which we have encountered. We were zone 10 (out of 35)slotted from 8:00 to 8:20, we driving away from the port by 8 am. Luggage retrieval excellent.This is about were the positive stops and the negatives pick up:
Didn't really get a whiff of "new" ship smell did get a frequent smells of sewage. Returning to the ship after Nassau was a nightmare. Due to the short stay in port, everyone returned to the ship all at one time- hungry and thirsty. CCL Dream had a MAJOR problem with crowd control. I had never seen it so bad. Long lines, couldn't get a drink, and service went downhill from here.
Staff- Looked tired and at times inattentive to the guests needs/desires. The food service personnel had just too many people to service. Approx 4500 guests cared by approx 1200 staff over 3 shifts. There was one table that didn't get cleaned for a very long time. In fact, I stood in line and sat down to eat, finished my meal before any dining room personnel gave this table any attention. Usually this is very uncharacteristic service except on this cruise. Again, not enough people working. There were times I couldn't get a waiter to purchase a drink. In the design of the inside Lido dining area, did anyone actually sit down and consider the booth seat height to the table height? The seats were too low or the tables were too high. If you get Table 172 Crimson Dining Room ask for a change. It is a table for 2 which in itself is ok; however, it next to the doors to the galley. Nothing but constant motion and I looked at the back wall and swinging doors during dinner. At least turn the table 90 degrees so we both can look out across the dining room. Food was nothing to write home about and service was fair. The salt shakers never worked. Good note: there was no staff serenading.
Food- I could not understand why the lunch lines wouldn't open until 12. If we ate breakfast at 6 - opening at 1200 really became an issue. The Mongolian Line (wok) and Pasta Bar were my favorites. The only way to get the Mongolian meal was to stand in line 20-30 min before it opened then wait another 20-30 min to get my food. There were two lines, 2 cooks each cooking in 3 woks and there were still people who would wait 60-90 minutes for the freshly cooked food.Another ridiculously long line and a great mystery why in the world would a 4500 guest ship with over 1000 kids only have ONE hamburger/french fry and only ONE pizza line. Are you kidding me? Another ship favorite is the French fries I never had any because the line was toooooooooooo long. I couldn't figure why at the back deck of Lido was serving Indian food and not hamburgers/FFs. It was pool side - go figure. Nachos were available; however, the melted cheese was cold. I inquired why the cheese was cold, and their answer was they had no way to keep a constant heat underneath again more design brilliance.
Stateroom- First, I want to commend our two room stewards. They were great, always aimed to make us happy and by the 2nd day, knew what we needed in the minibar. Good job. We were in 12206 - Spa Cabin -pricey, spa, quite, private Are you kidding me. Do Not Book this Room; in fact, I would stay away from this floor at least the even numbers. Here's why. First, there were no peaceful afternoon naps or any quite time because of the constant RUNNING by the kids to the slide. OMG - would it ever be quite? The balcony was uninviting because there was always water on the floor as it wouldn't drain. When I ask about this- their answer to the problem was that the drain was higher than the floor; therefore, unable to drain.People could hang on the railing above us and look down on to our balcony... so no privacy/spit or drop something. Clear glass instead of the blue would have enabled us to enjoy the scenery and the ocean without have to stand up along the railing on the balcony. Sound proofing tended to be a problem throughout the entire ship. In our room, at 10:40 pm , the Lido music was too loud as we had to endure Pink Floyd.
Stateroom TV- I fully understand CCL's goal is to have everyone somewhere on the ship spending money. Profit Margin - Got It. But we spent money in the room with the mini bar every day, tried to get away from some of the chaos and ESPN is only streamed into the room occasionally. There wasn't enough room in the sports lounge to enjoy the games, couldn't get into the Encore, 1-2 hours to get food. I certainly didn't want to constantly watch the shopping specialist. At times, FUN, that I paid for, was in the room. I'll give CCL credit for television programming improvement. There was a time nothing except ship related viewing was available. Cloud 9 Spa - We booked and paid the price for the exclusiveness to the Cloud 9 Spa area. After the first day, for $149 or $249, anyone could purchase day pass for the spa area. I have no problem with providing opportunity for guests to purchase a day pass; however, there should be a limit!!!!!!!!!!! With these day passes, I couldn't get to enjoy spa feature as day pass people would come in and stay for hours. The adult only serenity area needed better supervision. Keep the kids out.
Entertainment- Average at best. We couldn't get in to see the shows. The lines were too long, not enough space and most of the entertainment was duplication from other ships. It's time for new or additional entertainment. Capers- The Monday, December 21st Capers noted a "Quite Bar = 5 pm - 12 am - Next to Crimson, Deck 4 Fwd". We never found the "Quite Bar" and the Bartenders on Deck 4 had no idea about such a bar. We were not the only guests looking for a quite place to visit, drink and meet other people. Has CCL not figured out that FUN is not always about NOISE? How about somewhere during the afternoon since I couldn't have any down time in my stateroom? The Piano Room sounds inviting for soft quite easy to carry on a conversation type place. The piano player in this room was terrible!!!!!!!!!!!!
Casino- What happen to the seating along the sides in the casino? So, if I want to be with my husband in the Casino I had to stand behind him. Again lack of places to sit to relax and enjoy. It would be nice to sit along the side and watch the ocean. Nice feature on the other ships.
I won't say that I'm done with CCL as they may be able to accommodate our needs for a quick short get-away trip. I will be looking to other cruise lines for lengthier trips in order to enjoy our time at sea. The money we spent on this particular cruise did not provide the memorable Christmas vacation we wanted.