We were contacted via e-mail on Wednesday before the cruise with a note that suggested an arrival time of 10:00 AM at the dock for an easy embarkation. So of course we arrived at 09:30! The trip through the security lines was a breeze (I'm a traveler who carries a CPAP machine for sleep apnea so this was a pleasant surprise - I usually have a hard time getting through.)then on to the ticketing counter. We were met by a very helpful and professional crew of Carnival employees dockside. The boarding was very easy!
You enter the ship on deck 3 into the Dream Atrium... very impressive! It rises to the very top of the ship some ten decks above! There is a circular bar/staircase in the middle with a baby grand piano one level above the bar. There is daily entertainment in the atrium and this was one of our favorite places to just sit and people watch (4Th floor). The entire 4Th floor surrounding the Atrium was the photo gallery. Then up the glass enclosed elevators to the Lido deck (deck 10). I was impressed with how fast everything went. We had a few small carry-on's to handle and this wasn't a burden. We were told that we could expect the stateroom to be ready by 1:30 PM, but since we were staying on the Lido Deck anyway, we checked on the room as soon as we got off the elevator. It was not ready (somewhere around 10:30). Start exploring! We had lunch at the Deli at the stern... Great Sandwiches! By this time the Balcony Stateroom (10290) was ready. NICE ROOM! We then went to the Welcome Aboard presentation by our Cruise Director Todd Widmer. He discussed what would happen at Nassau and various other topics including the all important Safety Briefing.
Departure took place around 4:30 PM. The one thing to mention here is that Port Canaveral has a very nice park, Jetty Park, which has beach, campgrounds, 24 hr. fishing pier, etc. I plan to bring my RV there this summer for a couple of weeks.
We took our meals at 8:15 PM in the Crimson Dining (Lower level). Every meal served was perfect! The staff was friendly, although our server was not very fluent in the English language. The waiter, however, covered her and all was well. Unfortunately our waiter disappeared following Wednesday's meal. We did see him once working on the Lido Deck, but did not get a chance to speak to him.
Debarkation's and re-entry to the ship was always easy, using the deck 0 gangways. Not much more to be said about that. We took our Sail & Sign cards, Drivers License and a photo copy of our passports with us. If you think you will have even the slightest chance of being late to get back on board, you should take the real passport with you.
Excursions. We took the Jeep tour in Nassau. They claimed to have a 15 minute walk from the pier to get to the Jeeps. It was more like 1/2 hour, wear good walking shoes. It was just a walk through customs since we were attached to a tour. The walk went through town, around the Hilton Hotel, past one of the most aromatic (unpleasant) dumpsters you could ever find, to a line up of very well used 1993 vintage Jeeps. They drive on the Left side there with US style L/H drive vehicles (that's different). The tour is conducted at break-neck speed due to the short time between arrival and departure of the ship. This was made even worse by one family that decided to order lunch at the beach stop 45 minutes into the one hour stop. It was a good trip though. St. Thomas we decided to wait until the throngs off-loaded to go into town. This gave us some time alone in one of the whirlpools on the Serenity Deck. It was a good decision for us. Our only plan for the day was a walk through town and to take the Skyride, a ride in a gondola to Paradise Point for the views. It was worth the time and effort to take this ride, I'd suggest around sunset when it's not so hot (we went midday). St. Maarten, again we did not take an excursion. We got off the ship first thing, took the water taxi to town and walked/shopped till the wife got over heated. This afforded us the chance to sit outside at the "Blue Bitch" bar for some drinks. My wife recommends their "Ice Cream Sandwich" alcoholic beverage and I had a few "Red Stripe" beers! I liked this island best. I hope to return there sometime to just spend a few days.
On the ship. We were two of just 32 people (two groups of 16 each)to take the "Behind the Fun" excursion tour of the ship on Thursday. We both felt that it was worth the money. We visited their storage/cooler areas, crew lounge,training center, engine control room, galleys and the bridge. We had samplings of the pastry shop, a bag full of stuff including a hat, lanyard, a recipe for the warm chocolate melting cake, etc. We posed for a group picture and individual picture with the Captain while sitting in his seat on the bridge. Every one on the ship was pleasant and happy, less one person at the Guest Services desk. I guess she just was in no mood to address a bone head like me (and I her). The shows were all worth the price of admission, but the "Dancing in the Streets" show was by far the best. Don't bother with the bingo unless you have money to burn. The Casino was a better bet if you play Texas Hold'em. You can really take advantage of the cruiser who doesn't know how to play (practice on the Internet free games before you go). Now for the bad part; The raw sewage smell on this ship is awful! It's an intermittent problem which leads me to believe it is a design flaw in the ship. You can be walking anywhere on the ship and have this rancid odor hit you in the face. Walk another 15 feet and it's gone! We solved this in the cabin by using a bungee cord on the balcony door till it was gone (a minute or two was all it took).
Debarkation was actually easier than getting on-board. Our zone was called around 7:00 AM. We had about a 15 to 20 minute wait for the luggage and we were home by 11:00 after a two hour ride.
Conclusions: I'd do it again, but not until the odor issues are fixed (I did state that on the comment card). All in all it was a good experience!