Carnival Dream Review: Sailed February 13, 2010 through February 20, 2010 Late dining 8:15pm assigned time. We chose this so we could wake up a little later and stay up later with two teenagers. Day 1: The embarkation process was simple. We arrived at the port at 10:45am, checked our luggage and parked the car in the ramp. Security checkpoint was fast and simple. We went upstairs and filled out a short health form. After that, it was time to check in. There were no lines and we went right up to the counter. After receiving our sail and sign cards, we were assigned zone 9 and we were called to board at 11:30am.
We walked around for a little while and checked out the ship. Around 12:15pm, we decided to eat lunch. The food was very good, hot, and there were not any significant lines. Our rooms were ready right at 1:30pm.
The rest of the day was spent exploring, eating at the grill (had the hot dog and fries, very good), watching the ship leave port, unpacking, going to the welcome aboard show with John, and eating dinner at 8:15pm. The dining staff was extremely fast and efficient. Our food came out hot and was delicious.
Day 2: Nassau. We did the shallow water dolphin excursion at Atlantis. What a wonderful experience. This was pricey, but for a once in a lifetime experience, it was well worth it. After the excursion, the lines for the photos were somewhat long and after walking a long way back to the shuttle, we barely made it for the last bus back to the ship.
First formal night: Again, the food was fantastic. The dining staff again was very quick. I had the lobster and asked for a second tail. Without hesitation, out waiter, Joseph brought out another whole dinner. The rest of the night was spent relaxing and enjoying the music in the ocean plaza. After my wife and son went back to the room, my daughter and I went to check out mini golf. Unfortunately, the mini golf was closed. I did not understand this since it was so well lit. I suggested to the entertainment director that it should be open later and he was very receptive. (Seeing him later in the cruise, he said the mini golf would be open later on future cruises.)
Day 3: Fun day at sea. The weather was nice and a little cloudy. Spent the day relaxing and the kids enjoyed the waterslides. We all enjoyed the rear pool (which was not crowded at all). We ate an early lunch at the pasta bar. This is a MUST DO on this ship. The food was excellent, prepared to order and quick. Later, my daughter and I decided to try sushi. It wasn't bad, but since I had never tried it before, I really couldn't compare it to anything. We then went to the Burgundy Lounge and watched the PG comedy show. It was very funny!!! After dinner (which was again great), we went to the "Evolution of Edge" show. It was built up as a do not miss show, but we were not overly impressed. After that we were all tired and went back to the room for bed.
Here is probably my biggest complaint about the ship. The times that lunch is served are not coordinated very well with people who have late dining. On port days, the lunch on the lido deck (buffet, Mongolian wok, pasta bar, burrito bar, and BBQ on deck 5) end at 3:30pm, BUT, on sea days, it ends at 2:30pm. Unless you want the grill, deli, or pizza everyday for lunch, you have to eat early. These times are fine for early dining (6:00pm) since you probably are eating breakfast earlier and then lunch earlier. But with the 8:15pm dinner, we were not really hungry until 3-4:00pm for lunch, since we didn't eat breakfast until around 11:00am. I did mention this at the customer service counter, but the lady there didn't really seem to care and made no effort to write down my complaint or even ask my name. Oh well.
Day 4: St. Thomas. We booked the ultimate island adventure as our excursion for the day. The weather was perfect with the temperatures in the upper 80s and sunny. The excursion meeting place was easy to find and we were on a bus 10 minutes after getting off the ship. The excursion took us to Magens Bay Beach for 2 hours. The water was warm, and the beach was beautiful. After the beach, we were transported to Black Beard's Castle. This place is fascinating and we took a dip in the pool that was right there. We walked down to the Amber Museum and then to the waterfront. We took a water taxi back to the ship (which was included in the price of the excursion)
After eating pizza for lunch, we enjoyed more swimming on the ship and watched as the ship left port before dinner. This was the perfect day, with perfect weather, and it was totally relaxing. Just what a vacation is supposed to be. After dinner we went to the "Dancin in the Street" show which was awesome.
Day 5: St. Maarten. Our plans for this day were to enjoy Great Bay Beach and do some shopping. We took a taxi into town but soon realized that the beach might be out of the question. The problem wasn't anything thing to do with the island or the cruise, it was SUNBURN. We are from New York and do not get much sun this time of year. We enjoyed St. Thomas so much that exposing ourselves to the hot sun (upper 80s) again was probably not a good idea. We did put our feet in the water and walked along the shops picking up some souvenirs.
After taking a taxi back to port, we enjoyed the afternoon relaxing and of course eating. After dinner, we relaxed some more and went to the rear pool around 10:45pm for a late night swim. After swimming for a little while we went into the hot tub. Around 11:25pm, I noticed that the worker was starting to close the pool (not scheduled to close until 12:00am). After pointing out that it was not yet midnight, he called his supervisor since he did not quite understand what I was trying to tell him. His supervisor apologized after trying first to tell me about his scheduling and break problems. Again he apologized and the pool was left open until midnight, which we were in until closing.
Second complaint, thus minor: The room steward ran out of the blue towels for our room so we figured we would just get them up on the deck. The problem lies in the rear towel hut closes at 10:00pm but the pool is open until midnight. Even the mid-ship hut did not have any towels even though they were open to hand out blankets (it was still 80 at 11:00pm, no one needed blankets). Oh well, we air dried and called it a night.
Day 6: Fun day at sea. This was mostly a relaxing day. The weather was a little cooler and cloudy (low 70s, warm though for us northerners). We played mini golf before some rain. We ate an early lunch at the Mongolian wok (which was good) and watched to 80s trivia and Thriller dance class until the rain passed. The main pool was empty and closed all day for some reason. Bummer. Everyone again dressed up for our second formal night, ate dinner, and enjoyed the "Get Ready" show before bed. The show was good, but the Dancin in the Street was the best.
Day 7: Fun day at sea. We decided to sleep in and go to the brunch to start. The food was excellent as usual. The weather was a bit cooler (upper 60s) but that didn't stop my daughter from enjoying the waterslides. After the kids were done with the hot tubs, we all enjoyed some time in the arcade. We then attended the farewell party. My daughter and I wanted to see another comedy show so we did while my wife and son went back to the room to start packing. This show was funnier than the last and the comedy club is another must do on this ship.
During our last dinner, the table artist stopped by for a little magic. This guy is good and it was fun to watch him. After dinner, we walked around trying to visit all the places on the ship we missed before calling it a night. We were assigned level 22 to debark. Since we had a long drive ahead of us, I went to the customer service desk and asked for an earlier number. They gladly gave me number 10 which left us enough time to eat breakfast before leaving the ship.
Day 8: Debarkation. This was very simple and well planned. Our number was promptly called at 8:00am and we were in the car driving by 8:30am.
Overall, our cruise was wonderful, exciting, relaxing, and we had great weather. The Carnival Dream is an extremely beautiful ship that words and even pictures cannot express. Our experience on the Carnival Dream was just what a family vacation should be. It was great spending time with the family, something that life gets in the way of occasionally. We chose to have a relaxing cruise. I say that because if you want a thrilling, adventurous cruise, you can choose that also. We felt like we were on the ship for months instead of the week we were actually there.
The problems with lines that were reported early on seemed to have been fixed with the addition of the BBQ and brunch. We were on deck 1 in a deluxe ocean view room. We did not smell anything bad that was reported earlier.
Our room was great and plenty big enough for the four of us. The kids slept on the converted couch and the pull down bunk. Having the second half bath was awesome with a teenage girl. It allowed us all to get ready in the morning and before dinner easily. Our room steward was amazing. He timed everything perfect so we hardly even saw him and was respectful to our personal belongings. We were not always the neatest in our room since we were on vacation and didn't want to spend much time in the room. He worked around everything we left him and earned the extra tip we gave him.
The food was outstanding as I have expressed. We did eat at the deli a couple of times throughout the cruise and the food was fresh, high quality and served fast. They are willing to make you anything you want, as long as they have the ingredients. The only down side with the deli is we wish there were some sort of chips to go along with our sandwiches.
The photographers on the ship were excellent, professional, and plentiful. My wife loves her pictures, and we bought many. The staff is willing to reprint any pictures if you want the extras that they put over your photo taken off. (Like the script "Valentine's Day" that was on a few.) Carnival should really look into a volume discount for pictures like Disney Cruise line has. Also, on the Carnival Dream, a CD with your photos is not available to purchase. Talking to the worker, it is available on some other Carnival ships and should be here also.
I must say, John Heald adds to the overall cruise enjoyment. His experience is noticeable and he has a great sense of humor. If you ever have a chance to sail with him, I highly recommend it.