I must start off by saying thanks to Cruise Critic Member Reviews for all the information about the ship, beaches and tours. We made contact with the Carnival Dream Roll Call on the Cruise Critic site. We made friends with a great group of fellow cruisers. Using the Cruise Critic message boards was very helpful as we were planning activities and preparing for the cruise. If you have not, get involved in a cruise roll call. It is a great way to find information about your cruise and make new cruising friends. Thanks to the members who planned our meet and greet. It was awesome to put faces with cruise names. Last year I wrote that I wasn't going to go on another Carnival ship, however here I am! The Dream was different. She is a big girl! Even though she is a big girl; she is very easy to maneuver. I am still not a true Carnival fan but I must admit this ship wasn't too bad. This is my BFF and I fifth Carnival cruise. We take our G-Sons aged 11 and 12 every year on an educational trip. We are both teachers with my BFF being retired.
EMBARKATION We drove down from Missouri to Cape Canaveral. We took a rest stop in Atlanta. We used Hot Wire to book our hotels. We had a four star hotel at motel prices. In Cape Canaveral we stayed at Comfort Inn, 3901 North Atlantic Ave. The hotel was one block from the public beach. Wonderful!! There were plenty of places to eat. We left the car there in their secured parking lot. We took a shuttle and arrived at the port at 11:30. We went through the process and were on the ship by 12:00. 30 minutes tops! We went directly to the room and dropped our luggage very quickly, so we would not disturb the room steward. We went up to the Lido deck for lunch. The pool was open so the G-sons got in the pool immediately. BFF and I went to meet and greet with our roll call.
CABINS I had knee surgery, so I was given a handicap room on deck 11. (1148) OMG! The room was fabulous. It had upper and lower berths which left plenty of room for our luggage and junk. The room was directly across from Camp Carnival for G-Son. It was one deck up from the Lido deck. It was right in the middle of the ship. You couldn't beat the location. It was perfect. Our room steward remembered my G-son's name everyday. He just couldn't get mine together. He was very chipper in the morning. Since I'm not a morning person, he was just nerve wrecking. We left our towel animals all week, so we could have one picture of all the animals. Every day the room was cleaned and ready. No complaints!
SHIP DÉCOR This ship is beautiful. This is one of the most tasteful ships I have seen from Carnival. The Crimson dining room is pleasant to the eye. We were at table 142 right in front of the window. The lobby is beautiful. Visit zydecocruiser.com for in-depth pictures. This site has pictures of everything including food.
ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Thanks again to Cruise Critic reviewers, who told us not to miss the "Dancing in the Streets" show. It was awesome. This was the best show we have seen on a Carnival cruise. Too bad they don't show it twice in a week. The comedians were funny. I'm afraid that is about it for night life. The karaoke guy was boring. He was just looked out of place. The piano bar player knew some great songs but it was awful smoky. There was a huge family from Chicago that made the disco fun and exciting. Without the family the disco SUCKED!!!! I didn't understand the laser shows. They just looked like streams of green and blue lights over the deck. No real connection to the music. The deck parties were fun but didn't last very long. After that there wasn't much to do. The cruise co director Stitch was so much fun. He truly enjoys having fun. He was hilarious introducing the comedians. The cruise director was good not but great.
STAFF Usually I would say that the staff on Carnival needed a course in customer service; the Dream is a step up. The staff actually solved problems in a timely manner. They actually had a plan and moved people through lines expeditiously. They weren't very personable but they were fast. We did notice the staff just didn't go out of the way for the passengers. They did just enough to get the job done.
CAMP CARNIVAL The Camp Carnival staff didn't impress G-son. On our last cruise he loved going, couldn't wait to get there, but not this time. He was not excited about going; he stated they watch too many cartoons. He did enjoy the pajama party night and the activities on the last sea day. My BFF's G-son went to Circle C for 12- 15 year olds and really enjoyed it. They had a lot of late night parties for the older kids. Camp Carnival ended at ten so G-son had to find other activities until 11. Both boys didn't miss the dance lessons with Fun Force, the break dancing group. The dance group wowed the boys every time they practiced.
FOOD It is what it is!! The food was better than on other Carnival cruises. The buffet lines for breakfast were not that long. We just got up around 8 and rarely had to wait more than ten minutes and that was for the omelets. If you don't want to wait in line, eat breakfast around 7:30 or 8 and eat lunch around 2. The buffet wasn't so bad. The lines can get pretty long at peak times. We enjoyed that fact that we could eat on the top deck right by the ocean. It was wonderful to eat outside and enjoy the ocean. The BBQ on deck five was a break from the crowd on the Lido deck. The pasta was good. The pizza was always hot. The Mexican buffet was good with different foods.The food in the dining room is a little better that other cruises.
SEA DAYS Uneventful! We just sat on deck and ate. We walked and shopped in the shops for jewelry, shorts and shirts. The shops didn't have the usual ten dollars for everything sale on the last day. You had to search for bargains. Water slide was open and G-son loved it. He went everyday. While he was on the water slide I went to the adult area called Serenity. It was so comfortable. I don't really like the deck games, so I tend to sit and enjoy the ocean. The pools were just a waste of time. All you could do is stand around the edge. The pools were crowded everyday. We did smell the sewer smell while walking on the top deck but it wasn't bad. I never smelled anything at any other time.
DISEMBARKATION This year we left the ship in record time. We had a breakfast and waited for our luggage group to be called. We visited the picture shop one last time and took our time getting off the ship. We had our luggage and were through customs within thirty minutes. We walked straight out to a shuttle, returned to the hotel and in our own car with in two hours. After the cruise, we stayed at La Quinta Inn & Suites Oceanfront, One Hendry Avenue. The hotel is right on the beach, next door to the Coca Beach Pier. The boys took surfing lesson with Cocoa Beach Surf Company for 35.00 for two hours. The instructors were patient and the boys did learn to stand up on the board. We rented boards from Cocoa Beach Pier for five dollars an hour after the lesson. I would suggest you pay for an hour at a time. If you pay for more hours and don't use them, they have difficulty returning your unused money.
Overall we had a good time on Dream but not a great time! I would cruise the Dream again because of the weather we didn't do some of the activities we planned on the islands. The ship itself is worth trying again.
COZUMEL We did discover dive with Papa's Hog Scuba Emporium in the middle of the strip. BFF has a friend who was filming the reality show Ultimate Dive Challenge Experience so the G-Sons got to dive while the filming was going on. If you are doing scuba diving or any other water activity, I strongly recommend Papa Hogs. The instructor did an amazing job explaining and teaching G-sons. The weather was rainy off and on but it was still a fun day. The cruise ship pier is at the end of Cozumel. You will have to take a cab everywhere.
BELIZE It rained most of the day in Belize. Again thanks to the reviewers, we planned a tour with Cavetubing.com. The river was too high for cave tubing so we had to change to ATV adventure; the G-Sons loved it. We had a long ride through the jungle to arrive at the place but it was fun. I recommend using cavetubbing.com. The guys went out of their way to please us in spite of the weather.
ROATAN We didn't dock at Mahogany Bay terminal because of the weather. We docked at Coxen Hole cruise terminal. At this terminal the taxis are operated by the terminal. The cab costs each person twenty dollars to go to the free beach. We paid $80.00 to go to the FREE public beach. We had so much fun on the beach. We shopped with the locals right down from the pier. They have the best quality T-shirts. We also brought the most beautiful bracelets for a dollar each. I brought enough for my staff for less than $25.00.
COSTA MAYA We didn't know what to expect. There wasn't much to see. The island was hit pretty hard by storms. The locals are very happy to have the cruise ship in port. The ships are their only means of income. We took public transportation to the beach. We paid four dollars round trip. Beach was beautiful. We debated if we were still in the Caribbean or in the Atlantic. There aren't usually waves in the Caribbean. The G-sons loved wave jumping. There are constant locals selling everything from food to blankets.