We were on the August 28-September 4 sailing of the Carnival Dream (yes the sailing that got diverted by hurricane Earl).
This cruise was booked specifically to experience the dream and not so much for the ports. This was our 13th Carnival cruise and our kids 10th (kids are 13 and 11).
We booked around 3 months prior to the cruise after getting a great deal on a balcony cabin located on the Lido deck (deck 10).
Hurricane Earl We had been watching the weather prior to getting on the ship and were sure before boarding that the ship would be diverted from an Eastern itinerary to the Western itinerary. Around 3:00 pm they did drop off a sheet with the new itinerary at the cabin while the CD made an announcement.
We did not mind as the weather was great and the seas were calm. I did go to the guest services desk to get my wife her seasick pills soon after the announcement and the line was quite long (not on the Platinum side). I did hear a lot of people complaining about the itinerary change. I do feel sorry for some of the cruisers that were going to get married on the islands but the staff did a great job in trying to make other arrangements.
Camp Carnival/Circle C There were a lot of kids on board including out 13 and 11 year olds. The camps did a great job of handling them all. Kids loved the activities.
Shows We noticed that she shows filled up fast and you needed to be there 45 minutes before the show started to get a good seat.
The shows were great. We loved the Dancing in the Street show. It was the best show we have seen to date.
Fun Force was a hit with the crowds and Kids. They put on a couple of shows in the main lobby, took part in the production shows, and gave lessons to the kids in camp.
Food/Dining The food was great as usual. We had anytime dining and only had to wait on the 2nd formal night for 10 minutes.
We loved the pasta bar and ate there twice. It began to get crowded as more people found it. On our third try, we were told it would be an hour to get our order so we did not go.
The buffet at lunch was crowded some days but there were always tables available. The buffet lines were less crowded towards the back of the ship. Another cruiser posted that there were a lot of tables that took a long time to be cleaned. We noticed that occasionally as well.
Water Slides The kids loved the (fresh water) water park onboard. I loved it to. There were lines for the slide on sea days, but almost no lines on port days. We found the expanded hours also helped. I think it opened every day from 9 or 10 am to 6 pm. I do not think it was open on embarkation day.
Ports As mentioned above, we booked this ship specifically to experience the Dream. We were not planning to do much at the ports Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya—Stayed on the ship and used the water park. We did get off to do a little shopping in the ports
Roatan—We booked the Monkey, Birds, and Pirate tour (Gumbalimba Park) through the ship for $55/pp. We enjoyed the monkey and birds but it did go by quick.
They had 10 monkeys and there were a lot of restrictions on how to deal with them. You cannot touch them and the monkeys will decide who they go on. Basically the monkeys use the people as a platform to get to the snacks the trainers have. Being tall, I did receive a lot of attention. Not everyone got to have a monkey sit on them. You cannot bring bags, hats, and sunglasses
There is a beach, pool, and snack bar at the facility. There are locker rentals for $ 3. You have a set time to go to the park and can stay as long as you want after the tour. There are constant buses going back to the ship.
Behind the Fun Tour We decided to take the behind the fun tour on the last sea day. They ran 2 tours (9 am and 9:30 am) with 16 people per tour. The tour was $ 95/pp and you need to book with the excursion desk as soon as you board as it sells out fast.
Both kids came along (we read the minimum age was 13 prior to going on the cruise, but when we signed up, we were told it was 8)
The tour lasts from 3-1/2 to 4 hours and involves walking 2 miles and up 17 flights of stairs (spread out—not all at once). You had to wear closed toe shoes and cannot bring phones, cameras, or any recording devices. They will check...
We met in a lounge 15 minutes prior to the tour and were given a lanyard with an all access pass and an information sheet with ship details and food consumption facts. Once all 16 arrived, we were wanded by Security and then started the tour.
The tour was given by the training and development manager who did a great job. He was full of ship and seemed to know everything and everyone.
Each area we visited had the manager or ships officer give a talk and there was time for questions. Security was also with us in many of the sensitive areas.
We visited the following areas. I will not go into too much detail as I do not want to ruin it for others that want to take the tour.
Galley—Great presentation and tour by the Chef de Cuisine Luggage staging area Beverage Cooler Garbage/Waste/Incinerator area Laundry Area Engine Control Room Crew Lounge—for a washroom break, refreshments and a Q&A with tour guide Staff Dining Rooms—Look from outside, did not actually go in Training and Development classroom Bow of ship—Outside area with spare anchor and ship bell. Group picture taken Dancer's dressing room Backstage area Bridge—Tour was given by junior officer. They took a group picture with Captain and individual (family) picture with Captain. Kids got to sit in the Captain's chair.
Minutes prior to going on the bridge, the CD cam on and announced that due to a medical emergency, the Dream was diverting to just outside Key West and in an hour, the ship would be meeting a Coast Guard boat for a medical evacuation. When we got on the bridge we were able to see all the activity and planning for the meet including communications with the Coast Guard. It was quite an experience. We did see the transfer after the tour.
Like most Disney rides, the tour ended up in the "Gif Shop" (sort of). We were taken to the Steakhouse and given a brief tour of the dining area and small Galley. We were shown the cuts of meat and were told there was still time to make a reservation for that evening. The steakhouse was also where we filled out a small survey about the tour and received a gift bag with some goodies.
There was also a thank you from the chef when we returned to the cabin. We received 8x10 pictures later that evening.
It was a great tour especially for those that enjoy cruising. I would definitely recommend the tour.