The Carnival Dream is a fantastic ship, but there is something missing. The wonderful atmosphere of the Caribbean island feel, the endless Jimmy Buffet concert that I have experienced on other Carnival cruises was what was missing. From the moment we stepped aboard the Carnival Dream I did not hear the all too familiar sounds of the steel drums of a calypso band, instead it had been replaced with the hard driving sounds of the cover band "Blackjack". Now don't get me wrong, this band sounded great and in a dimly lit smoke filled bar on land they would have been a quick favorite, but not on this cruise.
Now, on to the good points of this great ship. Carnival has done a great job on this boat. The fit and finish of this vessel is immaculate, and it appeared to me that nothing was spared and the budget was thrown out the window. When entering the ship upon embarkation you are greeted with an awe inducing atrium that is warm and inviting. The layout of the atrium was what grabbed my attention first, the piano and lounge singer were up off the main floor and placed directly above the bar, thus freeing up valuable floor space which have been adorned with more tables chairs and couches.
Our balcony cabin was standard fare for Carnival, seeming to be just the same as the other vessels I have been on with the addition of a flat screen TV mounted to the wall. However, when walking out onto the balcony and looking down I expected to see the water directly below me, but I saw a deck and two hot tubs instead. Even though the Carnival Dream had nearly 4,000 people on board the Lido deck was spacious and always had an abundance of deck chairs to lounge around on. This brings me to one of the newest additions to the Carnival Cruise ship, Seaside Theater. What a great invention and idea. No longer do you have to go to the main lounge for the super shopper or any of the other various informative sessions wasting precious sunlight and spending loads of time indoors. In addition to the abundance of deck chairs there were also plenty of umbrellas to go around providing much needed shade.
Something else new is the addition of four new water slides and a water park for children that includes two kids' size slide and tons of water. There are two large slides that provide side by side racing down two deck levels. The remaining two slides are amazing. One is called the twister and goes for three deck levels. This is a high speed twisting and turning adventure not to be missed by anyone. The second water slide is called the Drainpipe and was very exciting. After a sharp drop and turn you are squirted out into a large bowl that you slide around a few times in. Good fun for all.
The itinerary that we sailed on was the Exotic Western Caribbean with ports of call in Cozumel Mexico, Isla Roatan Honduras, Belize City Belize, and Costa Maya Mexico. Having been to Cozumel about a year ago I was looking forward to it intensely because of the proximity to the city itself. There is a great Mexican restaurant right on the main street about three blocks from the pier. Waking up early and preparing for a great day of deep sea fishing and some good food and even better drinks at Senior Frogs I was sorely disappointed. For some reason they have built what I can only describe as a "mouse trap" for cruisers, a new pier and shopping complex away from the city center limiting your access to the local economy. The saving grace was the good fishing and ice cold Mexican beer.
Cozumel was followed by Isla Roatan the next day which was an equally disappointing port call. The "mouse trap" was even smaller with no sight of local flare at all, and a heat that rivals an oven in the kitchen on 500 degrees. These so called "mouse traps" were filled with Diamonds International stores and various nick knack places. I felt as if I were in a never ending parade of craft fair stuff. The third day was a day at sea, and was very relaxing and filled with plenty of sun, putt-putt golf, and trips to the spa. This brings me to the Cloud 9 spa. With the expanded size of this ship, the spa has expanded as well. There were plenty of available reservations and almost no wait.
On the fourth day we anchored up and tendered into Belize. I found this port to be enjoyable even though it was still in a cruise center full of shops. I could let my wife go shopping and I could enjoy the 2 local beers for 5 dollars.
The final stop on the itinerary was Costa Maya Mexico. What a great place. The only thing I wish I had known was that there was multiple pools and even a swim up bar in the middle of all of the stores. One of the pools was beachside and had an outdoor spa facility with massage tables on the beach. What a great time we had there.
One of the nicest and new features on this ship is the promenade deck that encircles the ship. It is approximately a ½ mile all the way around the ship and includes four hot tubs that cantilever over the edge of the ship. While in the hot tub you can look out over the side and see 180 degrees of nothing but ocean. Another great feature is the Serenity area. This is an adults only area up on the Sun deck at the front of the ship. The deck furniture is upgraded to a very nice wicker style and there are even a couple of hammocks large enough for two. The staff is ever vigilant in keeping the children out of this retreat area. The food on this ship was on par with the other Carnival ship we have been on, excellent as always. The Lido deck restaurants were by far the best in the Carnival fleet. In addition to the standard pizza and burger lines there were various specialty lines as well. These included and excellent tandoori line, burrito bar, and a deli bar. There was also a Mongolian line where you could fill a bowl with whatever you wanted in your stir fry, kind of like a burger king of the boat; have it your way. The dining rooms were elegant and once again attention to detail and thorough planning was evident. The flow of traffic inside the dining room was easy and never interfered with the restaurant staff. The staff was amazing and never blinked an eye when we asked for an additional entrEe. On one of the evenings we decided to try out the Chefs Steakhouse. The price was 30 dollars per person and completely worth it. The quality of steaks is on par with Ruth Chris steakhouse, and you cannot get that quality for anything less than 100 dollars a couple. I had the 24oz porterhouse steak and it was of the best quality. I will do this again on my next cruise All in all this was a fantastic cruise on and even better vessel. I would recommend this ship to all, but would recommend that they take the eastern Caribbean itinerary as opposed to the western. One final note, the price for parking has increased from 10 dollars a day to 15 and now you pay after the cruise not before as it was a year ago.