EMBARKATION : Embakation with an infant was fairly painless. We caught a shuttle through Carnival from the Orlando airport that brought us to port. I have been to Port Canaveral before when I sailed the Carnival Elation back in 2007. I enjoy this port because it is new and the process is fairly quick. We didn't get onboard as quickly as I hoped, but that was because we had to re-assign people to different rooms.
Once we did board the ship, we were all personally amazed by the ship's size and decoration. We all loved it & thought it was a beautiful ship. I found the Dream Atrium to be stunning. It was complete chaos at first considering everyone was trying to go everywhere at the same time, but we eventually made our way to the Lido Deck. Right away we were able to find a nice sitting area for the 7 of us inside The Gathering so we could enjoy lunch. I tried a little bit of the buffett & also got stir-fry from the Mongolian Wok. The Mongolian Wok is absolutely delicious made to order stir fry!! I definitely recommend this for a great lunch. However, this seemed to be the busiest station with a line. But I think people need to understand that it is made to order, and it takes a bit to cook.. so be patient, it's worth it.
CABIN STATEROOM : My fiance, son & I stayed in cabin 1207, which is Deck 1 Riveria FORWARD. It was a port hole cabin. I was actually surprised how nice, and spacious it was! Our room steward, Antonio, was FANTASTIC!! Left him an extra well deserved tip. Always had our room nice and clean twice a day, ice twice a day, extra towels. I couldn't have asked for a better room steward, he went over & beyond! Always greeted us every single day. For those traveling with babies, the cribs that Carnival will provide for you aren't that bad. It is a plain white metal crib. It is decent enough for a week.
My mom and my aunt were in cabin 2365, and my brother & his girlfriend were in 2373 which was located on Deck 2 Main Deck MIDSHIP. Both rooms were Cove Balconies. I liked them a lot, GREAT views!! But I felt that my room was more spacious than theirs. Probably because my cabin is made for three people?
SHIP : As I have mentioned, this ship is absolutely amazing. It is massive and holds a lot of people. So some people need to be prepared for lines and arriving a little early for a show (especially comedy shows). Lido Deck was nice, I really enjoyed the Jumbotron. I wish it played more enjoyable movies, considering it played a lot of screensaver shots. I was with my son majority of the time so this was a great place for us to hang out at. Though some people gave me dirty looks if my son got the slightest bit fussy. Lido Deck is a public area for all ages...Go to Serenity if you want to be away from kids! Though I have to say, the staff & guests loved my son! I recieved a lot of compliments from people telling me how great my son is & how quiet he is! Thanks people! Lido Deck will be full around the pools, especially on a Fun Day At Sea so like others have said, go out there early if you want a chair by the pool. Also, I'd recommend bringing a towel from home. We had one of the Carnival towels hanging off a chair at a table we were sitting at on the Lido Deck, went to grab lunch & BOOM!, gone. People WILL steal towels & guess who gets charged $22??? One last thing about the Lido Deck.. there are only two pools on this ship, both located on Lido. One in the midship which is the "main" pool. One is located in the back (I swear it appears to be smaller than the main one), and also has two hot tubs to the side of it. These pools both get full, so don't expect to dive in and stretch out. These pools are basically used to stand & dip and get out. I definitely think they should of made a kiddie's pool and a pool in the Serenity. Both of these pools were taken up by kids, which is fine by me, but a lot of adults were annoyed by the kids doing cannonballs next to them and swimming under them with their goggles.
Ocean Plaza & Lanai was nice, my boyfriend and I hung out here a lot when we wanted a drink & cigarette. I also liked the Jackpot! Casino, only played twice in there considering I am more of a Bingo person. I did infact win the Cash Craze $1,500 jackpot on the last Fun Day At Sea!!! My mom was very lucky herself in the casino playing slots. So people, you can infact win some money to bring home! My favorite would have to be the WaterWorks.. boy did me & my fiance have a blast on those slides (we liked the Drainpipe better!). We also walked through Serenity.. nice area for adults who want to enjoy a quiet space. It never appeared to be full in that area, lots of open lounging chairs.
ENTERTAINMENT : Wide selection of things to do onboard. I don't see how people found this ship to be "lacking" in the entertainment. There was something for everyone. I also think people need to be more open-minded. You may not think you'll be into a show, but you should still check it out, you never know! My brother is not a "broadway show" person, but he absolutely loved Dancin' In The Streets! My boyfriend enjoyed the FunForce dancers. I only attended to the comedy shows... definitely loved Mark Simmons & Allyn Ball.. HILARIOUS! As I mentioned, please do arrive to shows early. There was 4,600 people onboard so the Encore Theater & Burgandy Lounge (Comedy Club) DID fill up FAST! We showed up to the comedy show an hour before (in most cases, a PG rated show was just ending) to get a good seat. If you plan on arriving 15-20 minutes before the show starts, plan on watching the show standing in the back. Just being honest! There was daytime activities. I never participated because I was with my son during the day on the Lido Deck, just relaxing.
DINING : Wide selection of food onboard, especially during lunch! My fiance, son & I always ate in The Gathering for breakfast. We never had trouble finding a high chair. There was always staff available to get us one for our son. We enjoyed lunch here.. especially the omlette station, miss those already! My mom and aunt always ate in the Scarlett Dining room for breakfast, they prefer to be served rather than buffett style. For lunch.. you have the buffett, open seating in the dining room, grill, pizza, pasta bar, mongolian wok, tandoori, deli, and burrito bar.. If you cannot find something you'll eat, there is something wrong with you!! I found all of it to be delicious. Some people found the buffett to be repeatitive, I have to disagree (although I did not eat here everyday). People NEED to try the deli at least once during their trip. Absolutely fantastic.. loved the Rueben and Pastrami & Corned Beef Combo sandwhiches! Mongolian Wok was a hit.. noodles, shrimp, beef, mushrooms, & schezuen sauce made to order, YUM! Burrito bar served the best burrito I've had in my life. Pasta bar was excellent, definitely needs more open hours though! Grill had some good burgers, although I prefer my burgers to be medium rare. I never tried the pizza (even though it is 24 hours), but everyone that I traveled with LOVED it. Ice cream is 24 hours, delicious chocolate & strawberry soft serve!
Now onto dinner in the Main Dining Room.. we had table 609 in the Upper Scarlett dining room. We had a table just for us, always had a high chair for our son. Our waiter was William, and the assistant was Edgar. Fantastic people! After our first night at dinner, we automatically noticed a huge change. We all felt very rushed through dinner. Plates were coming out back to back. Sometimes William would put out two of my appetizers right in front of me, rather than letting me enjoy one at a time. We did not like this, and it unfortunately lasted throughout the week. They were fantastic waiters & worked very hard, but we expected better service and our stomachs often felt uneasy from eating so fast due to being rushed. Favorite dishes... Escorgot, Prime Rib, Potato Soup, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Lobster Tail, Talipa, Mahi Mahi, Grilled Chicken with Mushroom Cream, and Sweet & Sour Shrimp. ALSO, we never met the Maitre 'D. I'm not sure if he just hangs around downstairs or what, but he never passed by our table. We only met the assistant, John, who was a nice gentleman.
PORTS OF CALL :
Cozumel, Mexico: This was our first port and it was a great time. We first got off the ship and walked around the shopping center. Then we decided to catch a taxi and went to Mr. Sancho's Beach Club. LOVED this place. Clean beach, nice water & fun water crafts. Drink prices were reasonable, we enjoyed the yard daquaris. There is also jet skiing available for $60 a half hour. My brother and his girlfriend rode dune buggys all day here & had a great time!
Isla Roatan, Hondorus: This was our favorite port of call. Very clean place. We walked over to Mahogany Beach. What a beautiful beach & amazing water! We enjoyed this beach a lot, our son never wanted to get out of the water! My brother and his girlfriend did zip-lining here, and they absolutely loved it.
Belize City, Belize: WHAT A NIGHTMARE! It takes a lot to complain about something, but I never plan on coming back to Belize. I'm sure folks who did great shore excursions had a great time, but we did not. First off, the port is disgusting. The water is black due to being 80 ft below sea level. We saw take out boxes & diapers floating in the water. Not something we wanted to see right from the start. We knew we had to go somewhere else. Of course, a man came up to us, begging us to do a shore excursion to this private island & snorkeling. We could do not do snorkeling since I have my 9 month old with me. So he said we could just enjoy the "private island beach". So we paid $25 dollars each, which came out to $100, and he ASKED for $20 for his "commission". Sketchy. So then we boarded this tiny old speed boat, which was cramped with people, and headed off to the island. It was about 30 minutes to get there, and it was bumpy. We got to this "private island" and it was a disaster. No one there, and it was not a beach.. it was just rocky, hard sand and swamp-like water. It was disgusting. You could find water snakes by the tree area in the water. Not what we expected or wanted. So we asked to leave. Come to find out, we were stuck there for FIVE hours. So we told them we have an infant & my aunt is a diabetic, we can't be stuck here for another four hours. So we had to walk 20 minutes to the other side of the island, through mud & swamps, to catch a scuba diving boat going back to the ship. Needless to say, we were VERY happy to be back on the ship after that fiasco.
Costa Maya, Mexico: We were all looking forward to this port because we heard it was beautiful and had a great pool right at the pier. But unfortunately, it was missed due to high swells & strong wind. I understand that safety IS important, but I do wish they brought us to an alternative port. The pools onboard was closed for most of the morning & afternoon, so a lot of people walked around with nothing to do until they re-openned.
Cruise Director - Todd & Fun Staff : Is it just me or was Todd M.I.A? I understand he must be a busy guy, but I never even met him once. And the Fun Staff were a little rude, in my opinion. They didn't interact with the guests as much as I hoped for. They were all just kind of "there".
DEBARKATION: We chose to leave our luggage out the night before. So we got up around 6:45AM, headed up to The Gathering for breakfast and hung out on the Lido Deck until our number was called (20). It was a very quick process. We met with the rest of our group since they were in the 17 group, and caught the shuttle bus back to the airport.
ALL IN ALL: So I know no vacation will ever be perfect, and though this trip had some flaws, we all had an amazing time together. I would certainly sail the Dream again (Eastern next time), and I will definitely stick to Carnival Cruise Line.