We are in our mid 40's, have no kids and have been on more than 20 previous cruises on 5 different cruise lines, most of which to the Caribbean. This was the first week of our first back to back of two consecutive cruises on the same ship. While doing this back to back cruise it became very apparent how the passenger population can change the atmosphere of the cruise. The Super Bowl was during the first week of our two cruises and there was a large Super Bowl group on board that were mostly adults. The second week was Presidents Day week and there was school vacation in several northeastern states, so there were over 1000 kids onboard. I have found that I much prefer a cruise with fewer kids.
We flew nonstop from Minneapolis to Orlando the day prior to the cruise. We had to wait in the deicing line for about an hour before take off so our flight was delayed. We stayed at the Radisson Port Canaveral for our one night precruise. The pool area is really nice and the rooms were clean and included a fridge, microwave and coffee maker. Although our room was only provided decaf coffee and body wash but no shampoo. This property is very large and it is difficult to drag the suitcases all the way back to the rooms in the back. This was our first time cruising out of Port Canaveral. Other years cruising out of Port Canaveral are likely to be more enjoyable, but this year it seems that central Florida is having a cool winter. The weather was cold and rainy most of the time we were in Florida. We arranged shuttle service from the airport and the hotel and the hotel and the port with Cocoa Beach Shuttle. The shuttle service was monitoring our flight status so they knew we were a little late landing at the airport, and then Saturday morning they were running late and picked us up about half an hour later than our booked 10AM pickup. For dinner on Friday evening we took a short cab ride to Grills at the port area. Everyone enjoyed their meals and they were willing to split the checks. It would have been much more enjoyable if it wasn't chilly and raining.
Saturday February 6, embarkation day
We arrived at the port between 10:30 and 11:00. There was no line; we were able to walk right up to the counter to complete our check in. Although my online and printed confirmation has said confirmed late seating ever since we booked this cruise on the first day the Dream was open for booking, when we checked in we were assigned open seating for dinner. This put a damper on the excitement of boarding the ship. We were able to get our dining switched, but I don't understand why Carnival had to switch us away from our preferred and confirmed dining arrangements. After completing the check in, we had about a 30 minute wait until we boarded the ship.
Sunday February 7, day at sea
We were out at the main pool about 7AM. The weather was not very good today, cloudy and windy in the morning. We stayed at the pool until after ice carving demonstration and hairy chest contest. By then it was starting to get sunnier since the weather wasn't very warm many were caught unprepared and ended up with a good sun burn. This afternoon our group won 70's name that tune trivia. Today would have normally been formal night, but it was changed to Monday so the Super Bowl fans wouldn't miss the lobster. My favorite team wasn't playing, so we went to dinner.
The Comedy Club in the Burgundy Lounge is very popular. We tried to go to the 9:45 show but it was full. So we went next door to the Song and learned how to mamba until I was time for the 11PM show. The comedy show was very entertaining.
Monday February 8, Cozumel
Our scheduled arrival wasn't until 10AM, so we went to the dining room for breakfast. I had really good eggs benedict and corned beef hash. The weather in Cozumel was very nice, sunny and 70's, not too hot. We took a cab down to Paradise Beach for $13, the chairs and umbrellas are free if you spend $10 per person. We had two buckets of Sol and chips and guac, very yummy. About 2 we went back to port. Our first stop was at Ponchos Backyard. I had always heard they had great margaritas and wanted to try one. The margaritas were good, but not sure they were worth $10 each. Then we stopped for a few samples of tequila and a couple t-shirts. Then we had a drink at Fat Tuesday before returning to the ship.
Once back on the ship we noticed the slides were open, so we went to check them out. They were both a lot of fun, but I was really dizzy at the bottom of both of them and the drainpipe is a really fast slide.
Tonight was formal night. I had lobster, it was pretty good. Tonight overnight we hit a bad storm. I woke up during the night with motion sickness and had to take a Bonine.
Tuesday February 9, Roatan
Again our arrival wasn't until 10AM, so this time I had an omelet in the dining room. Again we had a very good breakfast. Today the weather was very nice sunny and 80's. We decided to spend the day at the new Mahogany Beach facility. We took the chair lift to the beach. We were caught by surprise when we learned the all day pass for the chair had been raised up to $8, almost twice the $5 previously reported. The beach area is really nice. There are plenty of chairs in the sun and in the shade. Local beers were $3.50 and weren't too bad. There is a nice assortment of shops at the port. We bought some coffee to bring home. We made it back on the ship early enough to get a burrito before they closed. I like the burrito bar, you pick your fillings and they roll it up for you with some chips and a selection of sauces.
Tonight was the Dancin' in the Street show in the Encore Theater. Carnival has definitely raised the bar with this show. This is not a cruise ship show; this is a Broadway caliber show. I highly recommend this show.
Wednesday February 10, Belize
Today we decided to stay on the ship and not bother with the tender ride. Instead we found a nice corner in the Serenity area and I found a laundry room nearby on deck ten and did some laundry. This ship only has three laundry rooms on deck one, seven and ten. The deck ten laundry room is very small, two washers and four dryers, $3.00 a cycle, I brought my own detergent. The dryers in this room run for 90 minutes so a load is dry after one cycle. I had another burrito for lunch.
Tonight we ate at the Chef's Art Steakhouse. The specialty restaurants on Carnival ships are usually very good. This time we had an inconsistent dinner, three good steaks and two not so good and unacceptable resolutions by management to issues encountered.
Thursday February 11, Costa Maya
We booked the Jungle Beach Break. The weather was windy and cloudy so they gave us the option of turning in our tickets for a refund, but we decided to go anyways. We had about a half an hour bus ride to the beach club, then we had about three hours to hang out at the beach and drink, even tequila shots. The clouds cleared and it got sunny but still windy. There were plenty of chairs in the sun and shade and hammocks. The bathrooms were very clean.
Tonight was our second formal night.
Friday February 12, sea day
We decided to go back to Serenity for the last sea day. This area is very comfortable, there are padded loungers and clam shell sofas that are cozy. The weather was mostly sunny but a little cool.
Tonight after dinner it got very stormy. The winds were 120 kmph. We later found out that the Disney Magic wasn't able to leave the pier at Castaway Cay and wouldn't get back to Port Canaveral until late on Saturday.
Saturday February 13, inbetween day
The weather today was very cold and cloudy. We went back to the dining room for breakfast. When they were done calling all luggage tags, we went to the atrium and all the back to back passengers were processed together. They passed out our new sail and sign cards, then we were escorted off the ship to customs and then reboarded the ship and our credit card reswiped for the second week.
Comments and Observations
This new class of ship has many of the lunch venues we are used to on a Carnival ship; pizza, deli, grill. They have also some new lunch venues; burrito bar, tandoor, pasta bar the brunch in the dining room and the grill on the lanai. It was a challenge for me to try just one of these new options because of the limited time they were open. The only venues open later than 2:30 most days are the usual deli, pizza and grill. I don't usually get hungry for lunch until 3:30 or 4, so I usually miss out. It would be nice if they rotated the hours of various lunch venues so that something different is open later each day. I have read many complaints about the buffet area, but since I don't frequent the buffet much I never encountered a problem. When I do go to the buffet I try to go early or late and not at prime times.
The lanai area was nice but I didn't spend much time there. It is a nicer place to walk than the track up on deck 12.
For the most part this ship is very much like the Conquest class, with an open back pool area like the Spirit class. Just add the lanai and a deck or two of cabins to increase the number of passengers. Past Carnival guest will be able to navigate this ship very easily.
I was very disappointed to learn that they are not yet selling Future Cruise Credits on the Dream. I bought a couple last year and were able to use them on this back to back and I figured I'd be able to buy more on this ship to use on my Magic cruise, but as of yet they are not selling them on the Dream.
I really like that Carnival offers professional photos every night of the cruise. I have been on other cruises when I wanted a photo on a nonformal might and couldn't get one. But I think Carnival has too many set up in some very bad locations. They block the only staircase in the atrium. They take pictures across the walkway on deck five. They have photo set ups in front of and on either side of the dining room entrance which makes it very difficult to get into the dining room.
We had room 7426 an inside room near the rear stairs. It was not a typical inside room, it was turned so that the bed was parallel with the ship rather than perpendicular like a typical inside, this allowed for more space in the room. Our cabin steward was very efficient always had our room cleaned by the time we were back from breakfast.