Carnival Dream Cruise Review by AlwaysReadyToSail: Carnival Dream Western Caribbean 9/4/2010-9/1//2010 Review
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Carnival Dream Western Caribbean 9/4/2010-9/1//2010 Review
So overall I liked this cruise, but I must admit in some areas there could be improvement. For those interested here was our experience...
Traveling was Me (5th cruise, 4th Carnival) and my SO (1st time cruiser) both mid 20's.
SATURDAY-EMBARKATION -We arrived to Port Canaveral fairly late (around 3:00) due to my SO having a delayed flight, upon arrival as I was walking into the port I received a text message from my mother checking to see if we actually made it to the port, apparently in the process of being rushed into the building I failed to notice the sign (maybe a foot behind me at most) that said phones and other communication devices were not allowed in the upcoming area...a port security personnel immediately yelled at me to "put the phone away now!" (which I was already in the process of doing)...I found it quite rude that he pointed to me and yelled rather than politely asking or telling me that I needed to put my phone away. -After clearing security we More went upstairs to get our sail and sign and fill out any paperwork. Apparently there was quite a bit of miss communication between the attendants working for many of them were bickering back and forth. We were told to go up to a lady who complained that she did not have a computer in which case her manager?? (i assume it was her manager) told her to do it manually. She first started to do the checking in process manually but as soon as the person beside her walked away to find her customer's keys she scooted over to the station beside her and began to process our info from the other lady's station. This of course created a lot of confusion between the two attendants working as well as both sets of customers.It was very unprofessional, snude remarks coming from both attendants and to beat it all our attendant was completely incompetent and could not understand that my SO and I were using two separate credit cards for our sail and sign....after spending 30 min getting checked in (usually takes 10 min or less) we were headed to the ship...Usually upon arrival they photograph you but I assume we arrived too late. -As we got on the ship we began to head up to our room and after getting up one flight of stairs the muster drill began....Apparently we missed the announcement about the muster drill and about the time we climbed up to the 7th floor we realized that all the traffic was due to the muster, so we turned around to head back down....There was a lot of confusion to say the least. I may be one of the few or only that prefers the old muster drill where you are placed in front of your lifeboat with your life vest on... After the muster we finally arrived to our room on the 8th floor midship. Typical inside cabin....not much to say on that. -Dinner in MDR, our waitress was subpar in comparison to past cruises. Assistant waiter was more personable than our waitress. We were seated at a 4 person table...many of the tables sat 2 or 4...in the past I was use to the large round and rectangle tables that sat 6-8+....I prefer the larger tables. I also preferred the older sing/dance by the waitstaff...the new sing/dance was unfamiliar to most and provided little guest interaction...I liked the macarena, hey baby, etc opposed to low and shake shake ? ***DAY 1 - EMBARKATION---RUDE AND UNORGANIZED
SUNDAY-DAY AT SEA -Started our day with breakfast in the dining room. Nice, but there seemed to be better food on the lido for breakfast both in quality and selection. I didn't like that in the MDR they used egg substitute or the pre-scrambled eggs...I would expect it for the lido. -Played Put-put...for a ship it was very nice and fun...would have been nice to have scorecards though. -Layed in the sun...plenty of lounge chairs in almost any location you preferred on the ship. Pool was usually crowded but not to the point that it was impossible to get in and cool off for a minute...its obvious these pools are not made to "swim" in...this cruise didn't seem to have a whole lot of children (due to school now being in session) so the pool area seemed to work quite fine IMO. We tried out all of the slides...lines were not too long...the twister was pretty fun...we did it a few times...the funnel one looked like it would be a lot more fun than it actually was...the racing slides were fun, but were too short to enjoy...I think the slides needed more water going down them or something because many times the joints felt very uncomfortable on your back while going down and even left a few red marks on me. -Went to port shopping seminar....I usually go to this seminar regardless of if I intend to shop or not...it was very informative...not as many free things to pick up in the ports if that's what you were looking to do. All of the shopping is recommended to do right in the port which doesn't let you really see the island much. Seminar was informative, Kiwi was a good presenter. -Lunch at the pasta bar. It was good...didn't have to wait long...no one was up there so we found some peace and quiet -Went to the gem stone seminar with Kiwi...very informative. -Dinner in the MDR..Food was okay but I found it to be of lower quality and presentation than what I remember in the past (last cruise was just over 2 years prior)Waitress did not pull our our chairs upon seating nor did she place our napkins or remember our names. One of our table-mates requested lemonade and it was never brought out nor did anyone tell her it was unavailable etc....seemed very rude. This was our first formal night....prior to dining (we had late seating) the photo areas were jam packed and had 20min or longer lines in many cases. Plan ahead and go early to avoid the rush of pre-dinner/post-dinner crowds. -Went to the show...I believe this one was the country themed show....nice show...the male and female singers did fantastic IMO. Dancers were very good as well. I left the show pleased. -Wanted to go to piano bar but it was one of the smoking sections and was too smokey for us to enjoy....you could smell the smoke pouring out of there feet beyond the entrance. -Went to the late night adult only comedy show (I can not remember his name but it was the midnight showing) LOOOVVVVEEEEDDD him! I had previously saw him on the Glory and he was great, but I feel he was absolutely spectacular this time...If he did comedy every night I would have been right there each night to see him. I thought he was better than many people I have seen on HBO, Comedy Central, XM Radio, and in live venues. ***DAY 2- DAY AT SEA- NICE, RELAXING, CROWDED, INFORMATIVE, ENTERTAINING
MONDAY-COZUMEL -We decided to do the Cozumel Bar Hop Tour that went along the east end of the island. This is a tour to not pass up! More information in my port review below. -Had dinner in MDR....similar experience as to other nights of lackluster service and quality...I would consider it a descent imitation of fine dining...better than going to Applebees haha. -Went up to see a little of the Lazer show....not too impressed ***DAY 3- COZUMEL- BEST PART WAS THE EAST SIDE BAR HOP
TUESDAY- BELIZE -We decided to do the zip line tour through the ship's shore excursions. Tendering process went well....more info on this port in port review -Had dinner in MDR -Went to the show Dancing in the Streets.....FANTASTIC!!! One of the best performances I've ever seen on a ship...By far the best one I've seen on CCL. -I think this was the night they had the Mardi Gras party...it was fun...bead throwing, music, and a parade to the lounge...where karaoke began -Karaoke was pretty neat....used the Dream Big Band for the music, and even had a backup singer...some of the people were very good...very entertaining...if you are really into karaoke, I'm sure it would be awesome to have a live band and vocals behind you... ***DAY 4- BELIZE- GREAT SHOW!!!
WEDNESDAY-ROATAN -Here we went to the west end. We were not able to port in Mahogany Bay. West End was amazing for snorkeling and enjoying the beach. We wanted to go to West end and from there take a water taxi to west bay...but the port area was very confusing so we just went to west bay. The taxi ride was a mess but all worked out in the end. More about that in the port review. -Had dinner in MDR -Saw the comedy/magician in the encore lounge...he was okay. ***DAY 5-ROATAN-GREAT SNORKLING
THURSDAY-COSTA MAYA -Here we had a short day in port...we took a taxi to Mahauhal for the beach. Nice beach, cheap drinks, clear water, nice port -Had second formal night in MDR...it was a nice time...our waitress seemed to be in a bad mood or something and it showed in service. Got a real nice picture taken afterwards. -Went to the Motown? show in the Encore Theater....it was nice. Good song/dance. Very entertaining. Didn't compare to Dancing in the Streets. -Went to comedy afterwards. He was good, but not as good as the guy we saw earlier in the week. ***DAY 6-COSTA MAYA-NICE BEACH, NICE PORT, GOOD SHOWS & COMEDY
FRIDAY-DAY AT SEA -Slept in a little -Ate a late breakfast on the lido -Lay in the sun/pool -Ate lunch BBQ on the Lanai deck. We waited in line for nearly an hour (and this was at 2:00) and was not impressed by the food....I suggest eat on the Lido or one of the other specialty bars that we missed. -Went to the Game of Love show in the Encore Theater. Was very funny. -Played 5 Game BINGO...$25 for a triple game card. Price was a bit steep but it was still fun -Did trivia....they had this multiple times and after playing we wish we had played the other times as well...it was a fun time.
-Last night in the MDR....waitress still did not call us by name (she also received nothing above the recommended tip...we did prepaid tips) We knew nothing about her, she knew nothing about us...never asked what we did on the islands, etc. I couldn't even tell you her name or where she was from and we ate in the MDR every night. -Saw the Carnival Legends show in the MDR...it was entertaining...I saw it on my last cruise so nothing was a surprise but it was still fun to go see...I personally preferred when they had the Carnival talent show on the last night. This allowed each cruise to be a little more unique and had a variety of talent whether it be comedy, dance, singing, musical....saw some amazing acts back in the day of the talent show. ***DAY 7- DAY AT SEA-RELAXING
SATURDAY-DEBARKATION Was pretty organized and went well...can't complain here.
OVERALL -I prefer a smaller ship...I didn't see that this ship had much more to offer than the previous class of ships (my comparison-Glory...The ship's size is larger but I didn't notice much of a change in public space and service personnel. Be prepared to wait in lines. -Food seems to be of less quality than I remember in the past. (possibly so they can push the steakhouse option at $25? pp) -Itinerary was great -Entertainment was great -For a new cruiser I would recommend this ship (unless the person HATES to wait in lines) -For an experienced cruiser I would recommend something smaller or possibly even another cruise line. -I think next time I cruise I will be trying out another line...not that I had a horrible experience, but that I would like to see what others have to offer...Carnival seems to have become somewhat repetitive to me now. Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Dream Interior Verandah 8338
8338 Inside Cabin Midship. Good cabin, not noisy, close to elevator. Little movement from ship. Of course it was tiny but space was used well...we had ample space for the two of us with storage to spare. Only has one outlet. Could use a little more desk space at times if anything. I found that being midship was nice at times because you were never too far from things, but it can also be very confusing...being an inside cabin you can get turned around easy and not know which way to head out of your room and end up going the wrong direction...or forget which way you came from, etc .... I felt we were constantly going the wrong direction and back tracking. Might need to keep a map with you and circle your location if you have a room midship to keep from getting turned around....took us 3 or more days to realize where everything was located to us and we were still getting confused from time to time....and we usually have good spacial awareness.
Port and Shore Excursions
When we finally arrived we first walked through a neat cave. The cave was really neat a beautiful. Next we were fitted for equipment and then walked up to the first zip area where they showed how to use the equipment.
The tour was composed of 7? lines and 2 rappels. It felt amazing to sip across the jungle, seeing the trees below. I did however feel that it was too rushed to take pictures for the most part. The course was very safe, and the staff very kind. It was a neat experience.
My SO does rock climbing and I have tried it a few times...I suppose we thought it would be a little more hands on than what it was, but for safety reasons I can see why it wasn't. You pretty much just wait to be clipped in, hold on to the rope and sit. We were hoping to see or hear some jungle animals but unfortunately only saw insects... Had the tour not been such a large group of people (a school bus at full capacity) and the travel time not been so long I think we would have enjoyed it more and it would have received a higher rating.
Belize is very poor and at times outside of the port area it looked a little scary. (While on the bus we had pick up truck pass us with a man in the bed of the truck handcuffed...that was a little freaky) There are basically no road laws so I would not suggest driving there unless you are prepared for anything. Unless you have a tour planned outside the port then stay within the port walls. Some other people from our cruise said they had a good time cave tubing and snorkeling/diving.
After some time on the beach we took a taxi back to the port area $2pp and they dropped us off about a block outside the port entrance. Went into the little store/souvenir shop and got a few things. In the port we went to a pool swim up bar $4 beer. We then walked into a few of the little shops and grabbed a bite to eat at the restaurant attached to the swim up bar (on the opposite side. We had chips and salsa, quesadillas and hot wings which were very good. I would visit this place again.
The tour was $50 per person. We had a group of 6...Pepe was our tour guide for the day and was soo informative. The tour is composed of 5 stops (4 along the east side) Before starting the tour we were told that the last stop (on the west?) was not very good that day (weather or seagrass or something) so as a group we opted to spend extra time at the other stops instead. At each stop you get a free shot (all of which were very tasty) Our group meshed real well and we had a blast!
***Here is how each stop went (as well as I can remember...some parts might be a little hazy haha )
PUNTA MORENA -Here we started...this place was very pretty, the waves were quite rough so we didn't really go into the water but there was areas of both sandy beach and rocky coral. It was beautiful to see the waves crash against the rocks. A few people were swimming on down the beach, but we mainly just strolled. Here we got our shot upon arrival and bought a beer $2 and laid in the hammocks and took a stroll alongside the beach. We saw a few live iguanas and they had massages on the beach as well.Very nice place, not crowded at all...plenty of hammocks, and grass umbrellas (they have a name)
COCONUTS -This is the highest point on the island...and overlooks the ocean. Very beautiful. Here they had plenty of birds, lizards, and a crocodile on display, beautiful trees, and breathtaking views. The bar itself is very interesting and has a lot of personality..the people friendly. I would come back here in a heartbeat. Upon arrival we received our complementary shots, and each decided to get a margarita....$5 for a LARGE glass on the rocks......you won't be drinking two of these!!! Tasted wonderful but must have been strong as can be! About half way through our drinks everyone in our party started to fell the margaritas kicking in...haha. Needless to say were were having a great time! This is a place I'll miss!
PLAYA BONITA -Here we went to the beach and got in the water. Upon arrival we received our complementary shot. Some in our group decided to get a drink (at that point I think everyone played it safe with a beer) I decided to take a time out after that margarita at Coconuts, haha. They had complementary chips and salsa and live music. We went down to the beach where there were plenty of grass umbrellas and lounge chairs. The water was nice, but if you went out very far the coral hurt your feet some, but it was a good place to take a dip in the ocean.
RASTAS -Here we had a late lunch. I had chicken tacos with rice and beans, chips and salsa, which were the best I'd ever had! SO had shrimp cocktail which he said was amazing as well. After eating some of the people in our group went to get back in the ocean while others of us just lounged around in the shade.
Overall I loved seeing the east side of Cozumel! The small little places are nice to see and not very crowded at all. Its very peaceful and there is plenty to do and see. Alot of the east is fairly untouched since hurricane Wilma? and the few places along the east coast are run from solar power and/or generators. Whether you are someone who loves to party or someone just wanting to see the east side of the island this was a great tour for all who are of age to go. Our guide Pepe was so kind and informative. Food was great. Drinks were good. Views were breathtaking, and I thought it was fairly inexpensive. $50 pp (5 shots inc., great great tour guide, 5 hours, 4-5 locations, transportation, etc) I think overall for the two of us we spent around $160 (tour, food, drinks, tips)
The ship was not able to port in Mahogany Bay...after getting off the ship we went to get a taxi (our original plan was to take the minibus to West End, spend some time there, and then take a water taxi to West Bay to snorkel on the beach. When we got to the taxi area we didn't see any signs for a minibus to West End...so we walked up to the taxi area and asked to get a taxi to West End...he pointed us to a booth that told us would take us to West End round trip for $20pp. They put us together in a van with 4 other people who were going to West Bay and then told us that we needed (as a group)to decide on a time for the van to come pick us back up. At this point we decided to just skip West End and stay the day at West Bay. The others in our van wanted to leave at 2:00 and we wanted to leave at 4:00 (ship time),ship time is Eastern time and Roatan is Mountain time 2 hrs diff, so we met in the middle at 3:00. Our cab driver knew very little English...
When we arrived to the beach we first stayed in the area that he dropped us off at which had very clear water, palms to provide shade, etc. It was beautiful...much like a postcard. After an hour or so we went on down the beach where we heard the snorkeling was much better...it was AMAZING!!! I had previously done a shipwreck/reef boat snorkel tour in Grand Cayman and thought that the snorkeling off the beach in Roatan was much better. We probably saw a dozen or more different types of fish swimming among the coral. There are no significant waves so swimming is as easy as swimming in a pool. We were able to swim out pretty far to a rock (big chunk of dead coral sticking up out of the water) and a little past that. I would say we snorkeled for over two hours nonstop with no problems at all. We saw a few people who went on boat tours to the same location but the swimming was very easy to get to the same location. If you are in West Bay when looking at the ocean if you go to the far left (over by the rock wall) was the best snorkeling we found....AND FREE!!!
After snorkeling we decided to grab a bite to eat...we ate at a little restaurant along the beach (I forget the name). We ordered quesadillas (I didn't think they were so great...they were suppose to be chicken but I couldn't recognize the meat) The place did have a good atmosphere though!
Carnival offered many excursions to places along west bay (Tabyanna)for $70+pp. Some all inclusive, others not. We got to the same area for $20pp and although we didn't have a lounger and umbrella (we were usually in the water so we didn't really need or try to get one) I would say that you can do this beach for much less than $70pp. It's worth doing some research on if you are on a budget...we probably spent less than $70 for the two of us in transportation, food, drinks, tips.
We then headed back to where we were dropped off by our taxi-van for pick up. Our taxi arrived around 3:15 (we said anytime between 3:00 and 3:30 would be fine)but the rest of our party was no where to be found in the area. We waited around until 4:00 (it was a 20 min drive to the port and the ship we needed to be onboard by 5:30) At 4:00 our driver called the company to inform them that the rest of our party did not show up (we suppose they wanted to leave early and decided to go ahead and take a taxi back) This actually ended up working out quite well because there was another group of people (3) whose driver did not show up...so we picked up the extra passengers and headed back to port. I'm not sure if there is another way to get a taxi to west end but although the taxi worked alright for us, it was very confusing, and needs improvement. Communication between company/driver/customers is very vague and with most of the drivers knowing very limited english this makes everything that much more difficult when problems occur.
Had it not been for the poor form of transportation (I don't like the idea of prepaying roundtrip for taxi...and having to decide on a pick up time among strangers) then my rating would be a 5 for Roatan...the transportation area at the port is confusing as well as the taxi company.
Snorkeling from the beach is a MUST DO!