This is a review of my sailing on the Carnival Dream. We sailed the Western Caribbean itinerary and had a blast.
I will start by saying this is our FIRST CRUISE ever. We are a couple who left our sixteen year old daughter home. We love kids but this was my 40th birthday present so it was just the two of us. I researched extensively and chose our itinerary, ship and excursions very carefully from the reviews I have read. I listened to the tips, positive comments, and negative comments with an open mind and took all that information into consideration when I boarded the ship.
Upon embarkation, we arrived at Port Canaveral at 10:45 am. We got on a very short line to enter the terminal and were inside minutes later. We took the escalator upstairs to the registration area and were holding our sign and sail cards in no time. We were given a Zone 7 boarding card and were on board 11:15am. I could not believe how quick the process was. I thought we would not board until noon, but they started early apparently.
Once on board, we listened to the reviews and went to the Lido deck aft (back of the ship) buffet area where there were no lines to eat at all. HUGE TIP, so read carefully: The Scarlet dining room on level 3 was open for breakfast and lunch for a sit down, waiter service style meal EVERY DAY. If you don't want the buffet, go to the Scarlet dining room. The food was better there also.
We went exploring the ship briefly because our cabin was available at 1:30pm as promised. Our luggage did not arrive until about 8pm but that was fine with us because the first night of dining was Cruise Come as You Are. So, need to change for the dining room. We did late dining (8:15pm)
For the rest of the night, we explored the ship some more, then went back to the cabin to find our luggage there. We took much needed showers and settled in for our first night of sleep. The cabin we had was 8332 and it was very spacious. We had a balcony and loved it! I would never be able to do an inside cabin after that.
Day 2 - At Sea: This was the first of two days at sea. We had breakfast at the buffet because this is the before we discovered eating in the Scarlet Dining room and from there we went to lay out on the aft deck. HUGE TIP: We used the AFT pool area only because it was never really crowded. The pool midship with the giant television was ALWAYS crowded. Use the aft pool if you want to enjoy a little more peace and quiet. Early in the day it is pretty empty, later on families start to show up.
We spent the rest of today participating in activities. If you want to stay busy, there is plenty to do. There was trivia, music at the piano bar, games and much more. We went to lunch at the Tandoori grill which had excellent Indian food. We really enjoyed it and went back on other days.
This was the first of two elegant nights and people really dressed up. Many men wore tuxedos, more so were in suits, and some were in a tie with no jacket. The women wore evening gowns, elegant pant suits, and cocktail dresses. There were picture stations all over the ship so you had an opportunity to have a portrait taken to buy later on. We bought one only since they were pretty pricey. At $21.99 each, I thought it was a bit much. So we picked our favorite and then bought wallets of it also.
The food in the dining room for dinner was excellent. I did not have one complaint. The waiter service was amazing too. We were at table 687 and Darwin and Ed were our servers. Our drink waitress was Hannah and they were all very attentive and extremely caring. On one of the evenings, my partner had a cake for me and they made it very special as they sang and brought the cake out lit up with candles. They were so accommodating. At night we took in the comedy show. They have two separate ones for the kids and then later at night the shows are for adults only. There was also Karaoke, dancing and singing. Never a dull moment.
Day 3 - Cozumel: We decided to book an excursion outside of Carnival. We read excellent reviews about a private beach called Nachi Cocom. This was an all inclusive beach break which included anything you wanted to eat on the menu and all the alcohol or soft drinks/bottled water you can drink. It was a great deal since I planned to drink. The beach also had a huge pool with a swim up bar where you can get drinks from also. We were given two beach chairs right on the beach under a palapa. It was beautiful since we were just feet from the clear ocean. We were assigned a server, Manuel, who pretty much made sure our drinks were always full and that we had everything we needed. They were very attentive there. The bathrooms were clean which was very important. Something that could not be avoided was "The Obnoxious Family" that showed up halfway through our beach break. They allowed their 17 year old son to drink himself into oblivion and he was rude, belligerent, and inappropriate. The adults were no better so the kid really did not have a good role model. But did nothing to ruin our time, we just rolled with the flow. Cab ride each way to Nachi was $15 for up to 4 people per van.
We returned to the port with plenty of time to spare to shop. Shopping was basically cheapest in Cozumel compared to the other ports. We boarded the ship and said goodbye to Cozumel. Again, that night brought many new activities. I believe this was the night we saw Dancing in the Streets in the Encore theater which was not to be missed. Make sure you see it.
Day 4 - Belize: We are chickens and did not want to tender into Belize so I have to admit that we stayed on the ship this day. There was plenty to do. We checked out the Serenity deck. For those of you traveling without children, the Serenity deck is an adults only retreat. It is so peaceful and quiet. We were able to lay out in hammocks, sit in the hot tub, use chairs made for two and be served drinks as well. I loved it. The ship was less crowded also since many people went ashore. We played trivia again and we won a Ship on a Stick!! It's the one thing I wanted out of the cruise and I got it!! Yayy. Not really much else to tell, this was our most relaxing day.
Day 5 - Isla Roatan, Honduras: We decided to go on the Pirates, Parrots and Monkeys excursion. We were able to meet and interact with Monkeys and Parrots. It was a great experience and we highly recommend this excursion. After your interaction, there is a beach and pool available for use. The food was rather pricey, but that was the only downfall. Otherwise, we had a great time. We shopped back at the port and found some great deals. The vendors were willing to bargain so make sure you try and talk them down. Make an offer, what could they do, say no? At least you try. Later that evening, we listened to live music and more Karaoke. Karaoke was always crowded, so get there in plenty of time.
Day 6 - Costa Maya: Today we had a beach break again. This was also all inclusive to Nohoch Kay. The price for transportation was $3 per person each way. Much cheaper than Cozumel. We arrived at Nohoch Kay in the rain but had hope that if will clear up and it did. We did not like Nohoch as much as our beach break in Cozumel. Nohoch looks better in pictures than it does in person. The water had alot of sea grass and was kinda dirty at the shore with gum wrappers and other trash. The service was good but the drinks were a little weak. There is a store right next door has the most amazing shells, onyx, and other artifacts for sale. The owner was willing to negotiate so we bought several pieces, all unique and beautiful. There was snorkeling, Kayaks and a Catamaran available for use for a fee. The food was excellent also.
When we returned to port we shopped again and were able to bargain again. Once back on the ship, later in the evening we went to Super Star Karaoke. This was the first time ever that Carnival did Karaoke with a live band! And...my partner was the FIRST EVER performer. It was amazing, we had the best time. The room was packed and people really were encouraging.
Day 7 - Sea Day: Another relaxing day at sea. I wound up getting sick the last day. Not due to the ship, but I wound up with a sore throat. I went to the ship doctor and 5 minutes and $127 later I had antibiotic to take. We took it easy again on this day. We played the casino and lost, oh well. We also used the hot tub and made use of the many areas on the ship to just sit back and relax. The Legends show was on this night. Regular guests audition earlier in the week to impersonate stars such as Sinatra, Madonna, Sonny and Cher, and others. Then they are dressed like the star and they perform for the rest of the ship. It is lots of fun and the crowd really gets into it.
Day 8 - Debarkation: Sadly, it was time to go. This was very organized except for the fact that people decided to come down to the lobby area long before their zone was called. We were zone 23 and I was able to debark early because I was sick but we still had to wait for our luggage at the carousel. So, leaving the ship early has no benefit unless you are going to self assist. Our transportation was waiting for us (We used Mears) and we were at the airport about 40 minutes later.
DETAILS/OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE SHIP:
- The elevators were ALWAYS crowded. If you used the main atrium elevators, you had a long wait and many elevators that arrived packed. Unfortunately, on some levels you needed the main elevators because you could not walk through the ship in those areas.
- The buffet was not the greatest as far as we were concerned. We did enjoy the alternate option of dining in the Scarlet Dining room so we have no complaints about food and options.
- We did not really notice a smell at any particular place on the ship. At times there was a whiff of something but it could have been someone passing gas as they walked by LOL.
- Crowds...there are alot of people on the ship. You can expect to get stuck in a crowd at some point. If you don't want to be in crowd, take a smaller ship. We did not find it overcrowded (only with the elevators) at all. We were comfortable walking around and not bumping into people. If you go to the shops when they are open, yes, there are alot of people there. That's obvious. But, if you are walking around any of the decks, you are at peace.
- Service was amazing. Our waiter Darwin and his helper Ed were amazing. The room steward, Marco, was fabulous. He made sure we were well taken care of and our cabin was spotless. I even left my wallet out one night and after turn down service, it was left undisturbed.
- Cruise Director Butch was very funny and active with the guests. We loved his morning show on the room television and he also kept us well informed with his announcements throughout the day. If we forgot about an activity we wanted to do, he would announce it and remind us (everyone) about it. He is engaging.
- Elegant Nights were special. I enjoyed getting dressed up and enjoyed seeing most people do so as well.
- Dining room attire was not adhered to by many guests. Folks came to dinner in gym shorts, cut offs, tanks and other attire that was specifically mentioned in the what NOT to wear section. If you want to dine casual, there are many other options. I think the dining room should be a place to at least wear a nice pair of jeans, no sneakers and a nice shirt for men and a nice skirt or slacks and pretty blouse for women.
- Cabins were more spacious than I expected. We loved the balcony and we were midship on deck 8. I recommend this area because there were no disturbing noises from the disco / club / theater / casino, etc. And mid ship we found to be less rocky than the front or the back.
- if you are looking to watch TV, there is nothing really on but who cares, get out and do something!! You could order room service from the TV and also check your Sign and Sail account from the TV also. That was a pretty cool feature.
I can't think of much more to say. If you have questions, feel free to comment and I will try to answer as best I can. I will post a link with pics in a little while.
Overall, this was the most amazing week of my life. I highly recommend the Dream and this itinerary.