We have been on four Carnival cruises and five in total. We sailed on the Glory and the Elation and the Fantasy. So we know what big ship sailing is all about as well as smaller ships. Carnival's problems with the early sailings of the Dream have been repaired for the most part. We were very lucky to have John Heald as our Cruise Director. A permanent CD has some big shoes to fill. Beyond that we feel the Dream is a great ship and plan to sail on it again soon. We sailed with only 3900 on board and that may have played a role in not having to fight the crowds. We never experienced the large crowds except maybe in the casino and getting a good seat in the Encore theatre. In the ports we never had to wait to get off or on the ship. We did have the same trouble on the Glory two years ago. It should be expected so we don't let it bother us. The food was good and good selections on the menu each night. Again, we did not feel the large number of people affected the food service at all and dinner each night was very enjoyable. We did not go to the $30 steakhouse. We never waited in line for the lunch buffet and I am sure the added Deck Five food on sea days helped relieve the pressure from the Lido Buffets.
The shows were great. The scene changes, the lighting effects and the costumes all added to the good feeling the shows were professionally produced. Dancing in the Streets won the top award for 2009 as the best cruise show and we believe it. It is a high energy show. The Comedy shows were good too. We saw four of the shows..two PG and two adult and all were very funny and again no significant lines to get into the shows. We picked a mid ship cabin on deck six and it paid off for us. We spent a lot of time on the Ocean Plaza deck five and deck four for dinner. Being midship and near the midship elevators kept walking to a minimum.
Here are some items you may or may not know about the cruise and the ship:
US based cell phones do work in St Thomas Be sure and bring an extension cord as there is only one plug in in the cabin TV computer provides up to date info on your total itemized bill. Really a nice feature along with the live webcams. Casino has a Texas hold em computer game for 10 players and was used heavily. Pictures in the photo gallery cost less later in the week; especially the albums. Make sure you take the local land agent's phone number when you get off ship in case of problems. We left two people behind in St Thomas and w/o them having contact with the local agent they would have been stranded. The new dock in St Maarten is very nice and golf cart shuttle service is available from the border check to each gangway. The shops right by the port are good too and the same merchandise as downtown.
Last I must talk a little about John Heald. We did not realize how critical the Cruise Director is on the ship as far as the passengers having a good time. The CD sets the tone right from the first night Welcome Aboard party. John is the main man for the entire fleet for those of you who do not know. We now understand how he got to the top. His sense of humor and knack for picking people out of the audience propels John to a class all by himself. Thanks John for some of the best laughs we have had on a cruise.