We waited many months to board the new Carnival Dream and had some dream like moments and some...not. Traveling with a friend, we typically fly into Florida from the Midwest the morning of the cruise, and even though we were sailing during hurricane season, the weather did not deter our course of travel nor on-time arrival via Southwest Airlines.
We were able to book a transfer from Orlando to Port Canaveral through Carnival which went very smoothly. The drive took approximately 45 minutes and the sight of the Dream at port was a sight to see. She truly is grand!
Embarkation: Having purchased a suite, we were extended the VIP check-in. Everything went well, quickly and smooth; however, this port is so efficient that I saw a couple from our bus boarding the ship right behind us-so the process of embarkation is VIP for everyone. I'm not sure if it had to do the time we embarked which was 2:00 pm, but many past reviews also share the same sentiment of a quick and painless check-in at Port Canaveral.
One thing that I found odd was when booking the transfer with Carnival, we were told that due to our departure flight leaving prior to noon, we would not be able to book a transfer from the ship back to the airport. However, when we checked in with Mears (who Carnival uses for transfers) she told us wee could book the transfer back to the airport while on the ship. We did, there was absolutely no problem. The oddity to me was why didn't Carnival just book it beforehand?
We went straight to the room with the carry on luggage and the dEcor, linens and cleanliness was superb. The two sink bathroom was also a nice touch. My only complaints about the room, or more so the ship configurations are the following:
Who from Carnival decided that it was a good idea to use the balcony doors which seem to slam every time they are opened or closed in leiu of sliding doors?
And... Who thought that the extension of the Lanai Deck (deck 5) jetting out was a better concept than all of the other ships in the fleet? I tend to enjoy privacy while looking over the ocean from the balcony and everyone with an outdoor balcony above deck 5 had to look at the Lanai Deck with walkers and hot tub worshipers. Even though the tubs closed at 6 or 8, the idea of going out on the balcony seemed to lose its luster because of this addition. Frankly, I would have booked a cove balcony to avoid this had I known. The deck plans don't show that deck 5 is wider than the higher decks.
The Lanai Deck also prevents you from taking your own sunset pictures outside (what is deck 4 on all of the other ships). You can't take them on the Lanai because there is a six foot tall glass wall on the outside of the deck. But don't worry, Carnival has PLENTY of opportunities to take and purchase their pictures on the Dream.
Our room steward was great and came through one night when I needed extra pillows and an extra comforter.
Dining: We chose early dining and ate in the Scarlet Lower Dining room. The view from the back of the ship was great, but there is not much more I can say with pleasantry about the Main Dining Room. It really does depend on the person, or waiters who can make your experience an enjoyable one in the MDR. On every cruise I have taken thus far, the wait staff in the MDR has always been above board and exceeded my every expectation. Not so this time.
One evening, while we sat down to dinner at 6:00 pm, the actual appetizer did not arrive until 7:15 pm. This was a usual occurrence. I'm sorry, but the bread they give you did not suffice until the appetizers arrive. I don't know if it was the waiters, the kitchen area, or who was the cause for most delays, but if being served at a restaurant in my home town, if there is a delay, the waiter usually extends the courtesy of letting the table know what the delay is and when to expect the food.
After speaking to the waiter's attendant a couple of days later (she took a while to warm up) she informed us that her work schedule goes from 7 in the morning until about 11 at night, with an hour break before she has to return to the MDR for dinner service. I also inquired about the living conditions of the general staff (dining room, room stewards, room service, maintenance, etc.) and was told that they live in a communal or barrack type living arrangement by gender and share showers. Much of their day is working and she said that was a 7 days a week job.
MDR: food was okay this time. I enjoyed the menu on the Freedom, Sensation and Destiny better. Food is such a personal taste, so what I may have unappealing, others I am sure loved it.
Pasta: We slipped in the pasta bar on the day of embarkation and didn't have to incur any line or wait. The pasta was delicious! It had some kick to it and I loved it. I also enjyed the bread and fresh caesar salad there.
Tandori: Perhaps I was expecting too much to ask for the same "kick" that I get from eating Indian food in my hometown, but I wasn't impressed with the Tandori. The meat was good, seasoned and tender, but I was expecting it to be a bit spicier.
The Grille: I was really looking forward to a cheeseburger and fries but unfortunately, the cheeseburger I got wasn't completely cooked. Yes, it bled while I cut it in half. You may want to cut the burger in half before eating it as we later saw a very angry man having a conversation with the gentleman behind the grille about the rareness of his burger.
Lanai BarBQ-Loved it! Wish they would have served it more than just on sea days. I tried everything in a small portion and loved everything. Also, I must give special recognition to the chips and salsa! Perfect with a margarita!
Deli: Got the usual tuna on white with swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato. Great!
Room Service: I'm not sure what happened to read the reviews of the room service taking up to an hour, but we always got ours in less than 15 minutes. They were great.
Lido: wasn't thrilled with the lunch food, seating was an issue. The breakfast, on the other hand was in my opinion better on the Lido than in the MDR. The omelet's were sooo good, and once I hunted down the grits and bacon, I was in good shape. I also recommend the banana cake. Perfect accompaniment with the omelet. Can someone tell me why the MDR doesn't serve jelly or honey (you have to ask for it) if you opt for a croissant? I don't remember having that issue on the earlier cruise in March on the Destiny.
Ice Cream: the ice cream and yogurt combination was in full force on the Dream. Hey Carnival, can we get the strawberry served everyday??? Since you use two sides to serve the ice cream and yogurt, why not make one for chocolate and vanilla and one for vanilla strawberry? We love the strawberry!
Drinks: I am a light drinker, so I stuck to the Carnival Classics. They worked out great because I love the casino and if you turn in your receipt to the Casino cashier for the Classic, they give you a $5 matchplay card. Thank you CC for this information!
Quick note about the roulette dealers on the Dream: watch your outside board bets (black, red) as the dealers commonly would snatch up everything so quickly a few of the players had issues with the outside bets being taken. The pit boss was called over a couple of times.
Entertainment: Our favorite show was Dancing in the Streets and would highly recommend this show. We had all new dancers performing for the first night and thoroughly enjoyed the show. We didn't see much else in the theater because we preferred to spend our evenings with the comedians. They were all fantastic! We even caught a PG show and had a great time. Get there 30-minutes prior for the early R rated show (9:45 pm) for a seat
We also visited the nightclub Caliente for some dancing early in the week and really enjoyed the music. I guess I am getting old because when a few of the old songs played, I broke out the dances during the era, and only those in my age bracket joined in. Anyway, it was a great time.
The laser show...don't waste your time.
Welcome Aboard Show, Game show and Marriage Show-if you are a first time cruiser, go see. If not, the show hasn't changed.
The Ports: Cozumel-We did the dune buggy excursion through Carnvial and had a blast. The dune buggies were fun, easy to drive and kept things lively. The excursion included a stop at a VERY small Myan Ruin, a crocodile habitat and a lovely beach for snorkeling or laying out in the hammock. I chose the hammock and had one of the best naps to date. Would highly recommend this excursion.
Belize-we arrived the day that Belize was celebrating their 29th independence day (used to be British Honduras) and caught the beginning of a parade the locals put together. The children were great and we got some of our most interesting pictures of them for the vacation. Also, we stopped in the pharmacy, found the one with the pharmacists from Louisiana and stocked up on some things that the parents need.—No excursion but wish I would have done the cave tubing. Everyone who did this activity raved about it.
Isla Roatan-by far the prettiest port! We did a catamaran and snorkel through Carnival for the excursion. There are some good and bad points here so let me get to the good first. The Jolly Roger crew was exceptional. They were right there handing out punch when you boarded, collected the cups and were attentive to every detail. The boat and a sail were in pristine condition and the 25 minute drive to the boat was a bit better than traveling in Jamaica. My one and only complaint about the excursion was this...they opted not to tell us that tiny jellyfish would be in abundance in the same water that we were snorkeling in. By the sixth sting, (they feel like bee stings) I had enough. I'm happy going to the fish store to see the salt water fish and would rather opt out of being stung by jellyfish.
After everyone boarded back on the catamaran, the crew served a lunch which included baked chicken, rice, vegetables and fresh watermelon. Soda and water were also plentiful. Interesting thing...Isla Roatan does not have Diet Coke, but does have Coke Light.
Costa Maya-We opted not to do an excursion here and just enjoyed the shopping, swim up bar and music. I bought a silver ring which I wasn't sure was real, but am happy to say that after a couple of weeks of wearing it and getting it wet, it is real silver! 20 bucks and probably one of the best purchases on the vacation.
One last little gripe...Carnival, when we arrive in Port, you don't have to make an announcement of the occurrence over the speaker system. For some of us light sleepers, the neighbor's balcony door slamming is enough to try to sleep through in the morning. Trust me, I have enough sense to know where I am supposed to be in the mornings during the cruise.
Overall, it was a great vacation. I am a Carnival fan and am still working toward my platinum status but must admit that I won't be sailing the Dream again. I much prefer the smaller, more intimate ships that Carnival offers and have found the staff's attention to detail and passenger is more prevalent on the smaller ships.