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 second 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 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 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.
Since the weather today was so chilly I took the opportunity to try the pasta bar for lunch. The pasta bar was very good and very fast. You just mark the meat, type of pasta, sauce and veggies that you would like, they give you a number and after only a few minutes your pasta is delivered to your table.
After dinner I found a very yummy dessert martini, the tiramisu martini, but I suggest having only one.
Sunday February 14, Nassau
The weather while in Nassau was still chilly and only partly sunny. We walked over to the Colonial Beach Club and inquired about the day pass, then decided not to spend the $40 since the weather was too cool to swim. Instead we just had a drink at the pool bar, four drinks for $41.50, ouch.
We were back on board about noon. I did another load of laundry today. This time in the seventh floor laundry room which is bigger than the room on the tenth floor, it has three washing machines and six dryers. Here it is still $3.00 a cycle but the drying cycles are only 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes on the tenth floor.
While doing laundry I decided to try the Lanai Bar-BQ. They served slider burgers, chicken and beef quesadillas. I like the chicken quesadillas the best; they had a good spice to them too.
Tonight was our first formal night and Valentine's Day. I had the lobster again; I think it was better last week. We went to the 11PM comedy show tonight, the guy wasn't as good as the guy we saw last week.
Monday February 15, day at sea
Today I sat at the main pool, until after the ice carving demonstration and the hairy chest contest. Today I had a chance to try the Tandoor Station for lunch; there was a very nice selection of food with some very good spicy flavor.
We organized a cabin crawl this afternoon after the hairy chest contest. There were about two dozen of us that toured eight different cabins. It was fun.
Tuesday February 16, St. Thomas
Today we weren't scheduled to arrive in St. Thomas until 10AM, so we took the opportunity to go to the dining room for breakfast. I had French toast this time, it was very yummy.
Since the ship was scheduled to stay in St. Thomas until 8PM, we decided it would be a good day to go over to St. John's without having to worry about getting back in time. We took a taxi from the ship at Havensight to Red Hook for $10 per person, then the ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay was $6 per person and a taxi from Cruz Bay to Cinnamon Beach was $7 per person. Our ferry ride to St. John's had a bit of excitement when we hit some big waves in the middle of the Sound, the ride back was pretty smooth. When we arrived at Cinnamon there was a high surf alert posted. We had some waves to play in, there were even a couple people surfing. But once you got past the waves the water was great, we spent most of our time there chest deep in water. I think we took the 2PM (ship time) ferry back to Red Hook, then stopped at Duffy's across the street. We have always wanted to stop at Duffy's but were always worried about getting back to the ship on time. Duffy's has a fun list of drinks to choose from and most include a souvenir. We also had some food; conch fritter, corn dogs, nachos and teriyaki chicken soft tacos. Everything was very yummy. After Duffy's we went to downtown Charlotte Amalie, even though our ship was in port until 8PM (ship time) all the stores closed at 5PM (island time). We wanted to get some hot sauce from Glady's and even though they were closed they let us in to buy some sauce and chat. But we weren't able to do any jewelry shopping.
Tonight back on the ship 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. We saw this show the first week and had to go back and see it again.
Then after the show we stopped at the deck party. I don't understand why they have so much in one night. I think it would be better to have the deck party after St. Maarten, when the next day is only a sea day.
Wednesday February 17, St. Maarten
Today we had eight couples that had prearranged to rent four jeeps, the only problem was there was only two jeeps at the rental place, bummer. Some of us took the jeeps over to Orient Beach for a while before meeting up with the rest of the group at Maho later to watch the airplanes. By the time we got to Sunset Beach Grill and Bar we were getting hungry. We ordered grouper fingers, cheeseburgers and mahi mahi burgers. All were very tasty. After the big airbus landed we went back towards town. We had to stop for some hot sauce and steak sauce at the Guavaberry Hut.
Tonight after dinner we finally saw a laser show. It was very cool, tonight was the Latin show, and it was only ten minutes long.
Thursday February 18, day at sea
The weather today was very windy and cloudy. We spent some time in Serenity, but the weather was too cold, windy and wet. Because of the bad weather the Lanai Bar-BQ was canceled. We decided to try the brunch in the dining room, apparently so did many others. What others who went on other days described as a pleasant experience of all you can drink mimosas and brunch, for us turned into a torturous two hour experience. We got one mimosa and then found it difficult to find anyone to get us more water. The chop salad I ordered was very good, but my steak sandwich was supposed to come with onions rings but instead I got fries and then the waiter took our ketchup away. Others ordered meals that were supposed to be accompanied by mashed potatoes but instead got broccoli.
Tonight was our second formal night. There was a mojito bar at Ocean Plaza, we spent some time here before dinner and sampled a couple. Every night there is a different special in Ocean Plaza but we didn't make it too many of them, most nights we stopped at the atrium bar before dinner.
Friday February 19, day at sea
Today the weather was a bit better than the previous, less windy, no rain and more sun. We spent most of the day in the Serenity area. Tonight we had to skip dessert to see the last laser show. The finale laser show was 20 minutes long, tonight was kind of windy so the fog machine wasn't working as good as the other night.
Saturday February 20, disembarkation
Disembarkation was very easy. Our flight out of MCO wasn't until 3:30 so we weren't in any hurry. We had one last breakfast in the dining room then met our traveling companions at the buffet. We had scheduled a van transfer with MH Transportation to pick us up at 10AM. We headed to the gangway about 9AM and were out ready for the van by 9:30. We were the only ones checking in outside at the Delta counter, which went smoothly. Once inside and to the security check point we found a long line, this took about 40 minutes.
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.