Hubby and I tend to cruise every year, usually to the Caribbean in January. For work reasons, we had to delay until May this year. This was our 12th cruise total; 9th with Carnival (we'll be platinum next year!!). We have cruised with Holland America, Princess and Norwegian, but keep coming back to Carnival because we like Carnival best!
Absolutely a dream. Probably the quickest and most painless embarkation process I’ve experienced. We were onboard within a half hour of arrival at Port Canaveral.
Very subdued, not typical of Carnival. My hubby appreciated the understated décor, but I kept looking for the themes and the “fun factor.” The layout is very similar to the Conquest class with minor tweaks and additions. It is still not possible to walk from forward to aft on deck 3 because the galley is between the restaurants – plan for it – it isn’t a major inconvenience. I like the flow of public rooms, particularly on deck 5, where the majority of bars are.
I like the new Lanai area, inside and out – it is a great area for gatherings and for just relaxing. I loved the Burgundy Lounge – aka Comedy Central. I think it’s great to have dif comedians throughout the cruise – a fabulous addition to already good entertainment! I also love the Serenity area on the Dream – it is large and has awesomely comfortable chairs and lounges and even a couple hammocks. The 18 hole mini golf course was surprisingly good, although it’s easy for the course to be challenging when the ship is moving and its windy! The slides looked like great fun, but I was unable to try them out this cruise (because of recent surgery).
One thing DH and I missed were the layered sun decks midship from the Conquest and Destiny class ships.
I found the ship to be very clean. Dishes did not sit in the lido/buffet areas for long. Room service dishes were removed from hallways rather quickly too.
We had a cove balcony (deck 2). I LOVED it! It is very private yet there is still a great view. Being relatively close to the waterline was wonderful. We kept our balcony door open every night and enjoyed listening to the sound of the waves and smelling the fresh sea air. Our last day at sea I spent almost the entire day on our balcony, reading, relaxing, enjoying.
The cabin had the usual layout with closets opposite the shower, then the sofa opposite a long vanity/desk, then the bed. There was plenty of room (bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve been in!) and more storage space than we needed. The bathroom is typical for current Carnival ships - larger than those on other lines we've experienced.
Our cabin steward was efficient and personable – we chatted with him briefly on numerous occasions. When he found out I needed extra ice (I iced my knee 2-4 times a day), he filled a large bucket as well as the normal wine bucket twice each day. He also addressed me by name - we had a cc roll call logo with our names on it hanging on our door.
The all important food:
Dinner in the main dining room was great as usual. I did not have a single item that I did not thoroughly enjoy. Some of my faves: pumpkin soup, short ribs, any shrimp dish, steaks, French onion soup, crème brulee, grand marnier soufflé... I can’t name them all! We frequently had more than 1 appetizer and/or entrée and/or dessert. I kept wishing I was hungrier so I could eat more – other folks food looked so good too! Our wait staff was very good; our head waiter asked our names the first night and addressed us by name each evening. After asking for skim milk the first night, we had glasses of milk waiting at our spot each following night. The infamous dining room entertainment has been updated – a couple of the “shows” were quite fun and got the diners more enthused than usual during the song/dance.
I love the different stations for lunch – I tried to sample from all the new ones as well as some faves. I enjoyed the pasta bar, the pasta was fresh and tasty and big portions. I also liked the new burrito bar, where you can tell the server what you want in your burrito - the shrimp was especially tasty. The Mongolian BBQ remains a fave – I like being able to scoop out what I want and how much of it, then have it stir fried – NUMMY. I enjoyed the Tandoor (Indian) also – love the Tandoori chicken and the bread and some of the sides. The Lanai bbq seemed to be a hit – I tried the chicken quesadillas which were great, except that there is some cilantro in it, which I personally detest. I didn’t make it to the pizza station for my usual de chevre (goat cheese and mushroom) pizza, or the deli, or the grill. I also did not get food off the Taste of Nations or Grand Buffet, but my hubby definitely liked the selections that he tasted. Honestly – there is so much food here, some typical buffet and some not – there has got to be something for everyone to enjoy!
We had room service for breakfast on the balcony one morning, which was great. Granted – it’s continental breakfast type foods, but still tasty. And so nice, relaxing with coffee, fruit and croissants in the morning! I also had room service lunch one day, just to try sandwiches that other cc folk love – I wasn’t thrilled with the steak and brie (basically a roast beef sammy), but the shrimp salad was tasty! I was amazed at the speed of service – I ordered during prime time – right at noon – and had my lunch in probably 20 minutes!
I went to afternoon tea once – it’s only on sea days. I do enjoy teatime, it’s relaxing, and the little finger food is tasty. They had a few different tea flavors, but nothing unusual. Service was very good.
The big shows were good to great. Dancing in the Streets is fantastic – a must see. The Dream has a group of four guys they call the Fun Force, who perform in a few shows and other places around the ship – again – a must see – they definitely are targeting a younger crowd (and no, I don’t mean just teens and 20s).
We went to the piano bar twice – Barry Miller is super fun, energetic, and really pulls the crowd in. As the evening goes on, Barry becomes more adult-oriented – definitely not a G show.
The addition of comedians most nights was great. We really loved Alan Ball, although the other comedians were good also. The comedians do PG shows early, then adult-only (18+) later. It is easy to see both the main show and at least one comedian, plus still hit a bar or two if you like – absolutely fantastic!
There were two deck parties that were really crowded. Both include: music, big screen entertainment, laser lights, entertainment staff, dancing… The daytime entertainment is typical for Carnival: ice carving display, newlywed/not-so-newlywed, hairy chest, art auction, gameshows, etc. Cruise Director Todd is very hands-on and always around – I definitely saw him WAY more than any other CD on past cruises.
In Cozumel we taxied to Nachi Cocom and had a relaxing day on the beach, even tho the day was overcast. There were a lot of folks from our cc roll call, and it was great chatting with everyone. Our beverage service was not very good, so DH frequently went to the bar to get drinks for us. The banana coladas were tasty! Appetizers and lunch were good – the guac is definitely not for just one person. For some reason, I expected a fine sand beach, which it is not – it is very coarse and somewhat harsh to walk on. However I really appreciated that Nachi Cocom limits the number of guests, so that folks are spread out, and not double or triple lined on the beach.
This was our first time in Roatan, so we did a “best of” tour with Victor Bodden Tours. Ali was our guide, and he was really great. He emphasized several times that it was our day, our tour, and we could do whatever we wanted. A couple from the roll call joined us, and it was great having Craig and Jane with us. We were all pretty easy going, just wanted to see the sights, which we did. We visited Bodden’s Monkey zoo, which was neat and sad. It was very cool holding and playing with the various monkeys (and birds), but it makes me sad that the monkeys aren’t out in the wild as they should be. We had a great lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea – we had the coconut fish, as it is a local dish. NUMMY! We stopped at the cameo factory, and although it was neat to see the items for sale, we were disappointed that we did not get to see anyone actually working on the cameos.
Tendering in Belize was a bit of a problem due to rain and waves, so we were quite delayed. Then when we finally got down to the tender station, DH and I looked outside at the driving rain and decided we really didn’t need to go onshore (been there, done that), so we turned around and enjoyed another day on the ship. However, there are still things I’d like to see and do in Belize, so I guess we’ll just have to go there again!
I had planned to take a taxi to Majahual in Costa Maya and just find a bar on the beach and relax, but hubby wasn’t thrilled with another beach day, so we stayed onboard again! Sometimes it's nice to just hang out on the peaceful ship, feeling like it's your own private yacht! DH went onshore briefly just to buy a souvenir dockside.
The infamous smell:
Oh yeah, it was there. Even hubby noticed. Many times in varied locations. UG! The smell was definitely worse on port days, when there was less breeze to blow that smell away. It was not bad enough to make me not sail on the Dream – it’s a great ship – but it’ll be nice when they fix the problem.
We carried our own bags off rather than doing the zone thing. Super super easy, as long as you can easily carry your bags. The customs line was maybe 5-10 minutes.
Great cruise, great ship. I would highly recommend the Dream.