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Carnival Dream Cruise Review by English Tim: British Airways First + Florida + Dreamin Crazies


English Tim
5 Reviews
Member Since 2001
3,528 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 4.0
Embarkation 4.0
Enrichment Activities 4.0
Entertainment 3.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0
Rates 5.0
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions Not Rated
Value for Money 4.0

Compare Prices on Carnival Dream Eastern Caribbean Cruises

British Airways First + Florida + Dreamin Crazies

Sail Date: November 2010
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral

Florida / Cruise Holiday 2010

Background

I had planned this trip for my wife, Rosy, and me since November 2009. First we had to make sure that we could secure convenient flights then book the timeshare to coincide with the Dreamin Crazies Cruise Critic group cruise.

My intention was to book club class flights on BA, from LGW (London Gatwick) to MCO (Orlando), but due to our tight schedule, no flights were available. These were to be 'award' seats using BA miles and utilising an American Express 2-4-1 voucher. Next I looked at flights from LHR (Heathrow) to MIA (Miami) and again no club class flights were available, so I opted to pay the 50,000 mile premium to fly first class. Apparently the easiest way to secure club class seats, is to travel out on a Sun, Mon or Tuesday. In order to secure the outbound seats, I had to book day returns and then change the return sector when the date I wanted became available. So flights booked, we now had to book a week at More our Orlando timeshare and the cruise. We booked the cruise through an American Travel Agent - Crucon.com .This enabled us to obtain $50 per person on-board credit and various other perks.

Next we booked our 2 bedroom villa at Vistana Resort, Orlando, which is situated about 10 minutes from Walt Disney World. We also booked 1 night near Miami airport, at Homewood Suites Blue Lagoon and 1 night pre-cruise at Radisson resort, Port Canaveral. We also booked a week's car rental with Avis, from MIA, dropping off at Port Canaveral and a 1 day hire from Hertz PC back to MIA for our return flight. We were able to get fantastic car rental rates through friends on FT (Flyertalk.com).

Finally we booked valet car parking through BAA to avoid the risk of transporting heavy luggage on airport buses, in potentially nasty autumn weather. There was only a small premium to pay for a fantastic service.

THE TRIP

Although our flight wasn't scheduled to depart LHR 5 until 13.40, we decided to avoid the stress of heavy traffic, by leaving at 05.00 for the normal 2 hour drive, but weekdays and rush hour traffic combined with the M3 and M25 could have meant a considerably longer journey and friends had recently missed a flight, due to accidents near LHR. We usually stay at LHR overnight, but due to us both working 'til late the night before, we decided to drive up early in the morning. We had an easy journey, arriving at LHR at 07.00. We drove straight to departures, to the valet parking spaces, unloaded our bags and then I locked the car and deposited the keys at the parking office.

Next we checked-in at the very plush T5 First section and quickly moved through fast-track security. As recommended on FT, we took the quick route to the CCR (Concord Room), reserved exclusively for passengers travelling First Class and for a few VIP's.

CCR Dining Room

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We had a fairly ordinary breakfast in a 'booth', accompanied by a very nice glass of Bucks Fizz.

The Elemis Spa

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We then booked our spa treatments - facial massages seated in the massage chairs. Next we did some shopping, including some Moet & Chandon Champagne, for the cruise. Whilst Rosy continued to shop, I caught up on FT and other sites, such as Cruise Critic and Facebook. I also answered a work email and took a couple of phone calls - one of my customers always rings me when I'm on holiday!

We then toured the various lounges; Terraces South would be our favourite, being able to self-select food and drink. The First lounge was a bit ordinary, compared with the CCR, which was fantastic.

CCR Terrace (great for lounging around and enjoying the champagne service)

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CCR Champagne Bar

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F Lounge

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We loved the Lanson Rose and would love to have enjoyed more, but had to make sure we found our way to B gates. We checked with the lounge person, who informed us our flight was departing on time and we should make our way to B gate, which we did and arrived there at 12.30 for our 13.40 departure. On arrival, the screen didn't show anything and we eventually saw a change of gate and a delay of 15 minutes. We later found that our aircraft had shown an engine problem and the best solution was a change of metal, but no-one thought to communicate this fact to the customers, so we sat around getting more agitated as it had already been a long day. Had we been properly informed we could have stayed in the CCR. After pointing this situation out to BAEC customer relations, we were sent an apology and 20k miles each.

Our 747

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Eventually we boarded and I explained to the delightful crew that it was our first F experience and they were so helpful, even thumping my seat, which prior to this action wouldn't recline! We each enjoyed a pre-flight glass of bubbles and were handed the menu and wine list and a goody bag. We were offered pj's but declined.

Here I am (well happy!)

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Here's Rosy

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Some of my meal - by this time my brain felt a bit fuzzy!

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After take-off, our lunch orders were taken and we were served an aperitif. I chose cassis / champagne and my glass never seemed to be less than full, but I am sure I kept sipping / slurping from it.

After lunch, we were offered chocolates and I had a delicious port, before settling into the AVOD and snoozing. Most others (in the full cabin) seemed to sleep for a long time. I enjoyed the on-screen games and the review of the Premier league for 2009/10. My Sennheiser headphones were fantastic. I probably should have slept for longer as when we arrived at Miami, I was very tired, but the long walk to immigration and the irritation with the ESTA system not working, forcing us to stand up whilst filling in the 'old' green card. Our bags arrived before us and we quickly cleared customs before getting the shuttle to the Homewood Suites. Please note that this departs from the departures level and has to be called by the airport information desk.

We settled into our very noisy hotel room, having requested a quiet location. We seemed to hear every plane throughout the night and were glad when the start of breakfast approached. Earlier we had walked to the local Publix (about 15 mins) for supplies of water.

The bed was comfortable and the bathroom efficient, but it was all a bit drab. The room had a fitted kitchen.

View of Blue Lagoon and MIA beyond, from Homewood Suites

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Breakfast was very good, with a comprehensive choice, including self-cooked waffles.

After breakfast we took the airport shuttle, then the rental car shuttle, an efficient service. We quickly collected our Avis car, utilising their 'Preferred' service and were allocated a brand new Ford Edge, complete with touch screen controls and reversing camera. We fitted our own Tom Tom GPS, and returned to our hotel for the bags.

Avis Rental Car - Ford Edge Limited

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We decided to take the Turnpike to Orlando, which although it's a long straight fairly boring drive, is quick. Most drivers seem to drive at about 10mph above the speed limit, but we a little more cautious. We stopped at a wildlife preserve after a couple of hours, for some rest and exercise, but we hardly saw any wildlife.

We took the Osceola Parkway exit from the Turnpike, which leads to SR's 535 & 536, where Vistana Resort is located. This is a pretty luxurious timeshare resort and we own one week there, in a two bedroom villa. Just off the Turnpike there is an enormous Wal-Mart, where we bought some groceries and a Trak 10 LG mobile for $19.99 and a 750 minute air-time voucher for $29.99, which expires in one month (a bit of a waste of money, as I have masses of unused credit). Maybe next trip, I'll bite the bullet and use my i-phone, without roaming. Maybe the rates will be more consumer friendly next trip or I'll buy another Trak 10 voucher.

We then drove to our villa and unpacked, before heading to Downtown Disney for a Ghirardelli experience (free samples and scrumptious sundaes!). Doing this on a Friday night, particularly it seems at Halloween, was a big mistake as the traffic was horrendous. It took 40 minutes for the usual 10 minute run. Fortunately we found a parking spot fairly easily, but the area was heaving!

We enjoyed our supper, and then headed back for a well-earned rest, but again it was difficult to sleep, not being used to the time difference.

Saturday 30 October

Next morning at 08.30 we collected Rosy's sister and brother-in-law, from Best Western Universal and then took the Turnpike to Florida Eco Safaris, south of Kissimmee (about 70 minutes). Our purpose of the trip was a zip wire adventure, over wildlife territories, but once again the wildlife was absent, apart from a few vultures and a penned-in alligator. Other visitors took cart rides and horseback adventures. It was also possible to do a Halloween 'Zip', which could have been very scary!

Florida Eco-Safaris - Parrots, etc

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Rosy & Jude

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Next we headed back to the resort for some R&R by the pool, followed by dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, at Mall of Millennia, a top-notch meal, with much of it being taken back with us in plastic boxes! On the drive back, we were 'advised' to pull over due to a problem with our lights. It transpired that the switch was set to day lights, not auto, but it was a bit worrying, stopping in unfamiliar territory at night.

Sunday 31 October - Halloween

Rivership Romance

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Halloween Cat

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Next day we had booked a brunch on the River ship Romance. This was to be a cruise along St John's River. We were welcomed on-board with iced tea or water, and then we sat in the sun until lunch was served, in the saloon. It was a nice lunch and included entertainment from the cruise director, in the form of vocals. There was also an informative quiz about the area and some wildlife spotting. We saw a gator and lots of birds. Afterwards we headed back to the resort and had supper at home, accompanied by some very nice champagne courtesy of BA.

Monday, 1 November

Our next day took us to Busch Gardens, with the aim of enjoying as many high thrill rides as possible, but unfortunately a few were closed, some without explanation.

However, we did what we could enjoying rides on a wooden coaster, other coasters and more, which I wouldn't have had the courage to do in recent years.

I ducked out of the log flume ride, as I didn't fancy getting a wet bum so early in the day.

Rosy, Rob & Jude on Log Flume

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I remembered BG as a vast open space with a few roller coasters. It has changed without recognition and was difficult to navigate, with few staff members to assist. It is way behind Disney in terms of customer information and support. The signposting wasn't brilliant and we got lost on the way back to I4. We'll probably never visit again.

When we got back we chilled for a while and I caught up with Facebook etc.

That night we had dinner at Bahamas Breeze, just across the road from our resort, on SR 535. It was a very enjoyable meal with some cocktails. We sat outside and then walked back to our villa.

Tuesday, November 2

Jude & Rob, just before their return to the big Apple

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The next morning Rosy and I visited the Tibet-Butler Wildlife Preserve, about 5 miles from WDW on SR 535. Unfortunately it's closed on Mondays / Tuesdays, so we visited Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort instead, walking along some nature trails and enjoying a free cup of coffee on Disney (as the till wouldn't work!). We then drove back to our resort to collect our visitors and take them for their flight from Orlando Int. to New York. This was followed by some frustrating attempts to buy some Merrell or North Face hiking shoes and a pair of black formal trousers, for our cruise. The weather was pretty awful and we drove to Sweet Tomatoes for our early supper, in torrential rain. ST is an excellent restaurant, where diners pay around $10 for an all you can eat meal, based on salads, soup and pasta, followed by traditional desserts. They also make very nice bread and baked potatoes. Strawberry punch is also delicious.

We then drove back to our resort for the rest of the day.

Wednesday 3rd November - Animal Kingdom and Illuminations

We were up early and decided to go to IHOP for breakfast, based on a recommendation from Judith & Rob, as they had previously enjoyed an all you can eat pancake breakfast. Alas the promotion had finished and we were disappointed with their alternatives, so we won't be going back in a hurry, but to be fair we usually don't eat much for breakfast and are happy to eat at our villa.

So a short drive to AK and we were among the first few to arrive, so an easy stroll to the gate, where we checked our multitude of unexpired Disney tickets and found that we had enough for another fortnight's holiday! Here is what greets early arrivals ......

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Once the rope drops and the orderly throng is led to the most popular attractions, we decide to go straight on Kilimanjaro Safari, to try and see most of the animals before they hide themselves away in the hotter weather.

We very lucky and saw many different animals...

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Next we walked through the Gorilla area

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Then we experienced "It's Tough to be a Bug", which is to be found under the tree of Life

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This 3D show uses lots of special effects, which can be quite frightening for youngsters, but it's really funny and damp!

We walked through the nearby aviary and saw some beautiful birds, which never stayed still long enough for a decent photo.

In the evening we headed to EPCOT, specifically to view Illuminations. We had a quick walk around the World Showcase, but the weather was unkind, with frequent showers, some heavy. After one burst of rain we sought shelter under some trees, adjacent to the Rose and Crown English Pub, which was a great place to watch the show.

Illuminations

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After Illuminations, we took the boat back to the Boardwalk and quickly found our car, for the short drive back to Vistana Resort.

Thursday, 4 November - Epcot and Fantasmic

Unusually, we had a late start and when we got into EPCOT, it was quite busy, which we were surprised about. We got fast passes for Soarin and took a leisurely cruise around the land pavilion. Rosy had booked us in for food and wine lectures, as this was EPCOT's food and wine festival. The wine lecture was actually about Bacardi Rum, including tastings, followed by food tastings, perhaps the wrong way round!

We had a very enjoyable ride on Soarin, followed by a more leisurely walk around World Showcase, sampling various food and beverages.

EPCOT butterflies

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Beaches and Cream's Sundaes

We used to order 'to go', but now in order to get most sundae's, customers must take a table inside, which reluctantly we did.

Rosy had Mud Pie

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I had a Peanut Butter Sundae, which was scrumptious

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As we were leaving the next morning and had planned to watch Fantasmic, at Hollywood Studios, that evening, we left early, to do some packing We just missed the first performance of Fantasmic and so Rosy rode Tower of Terror, which I didn't fancy in the dark.

As always Fantasmic was a wonderful spectacle, at least until a torrential downpour sent everyone scurrying for cover. We left and joined a long line of shivering people waiting for a boat to the Beach Club / Boardwalk. Why can't Disney react to change and send boats sooner in such awful conditions?

It took an hour to get from the Studios to the beach Club and back to our Resort. Next time we'll pay the $12 and park on-site!

Friday 5 November - Merritt Square Mall, MI Preserve and PC

The weather took a nasty turn, with temperatures plummeting to the low 40's overnight into Saturday. We had originally planned to spend much of the day at the Merritt Island nature preserve, where there are many hiking trails, driving trails and boardwalks, but the delayed space shuttle launch lead to the closure of the preserve until after the launch - scheduled for today. Therefore, we decided to try and get our missing shopping form Merritt Island Mall, thereby missing the expected heavy traffic leading up to the launch. We left Orlando at 08.30 and arrived at the Mall just before opening at 10.00. I managed to buy a black dinner suit, but no shoes. We left to check in at our hotel, the Radisson Resort at the Port and arrived at about 13.00. On arrival we discovered that the launch had been postponed and therefore the preserve was now open. This was a real pain as we now had to drive back the way we'd come and have much less time with the wildlife. We were lucky enough to see a family of otters running across the lawn outside the visitor centre, but not much else. On the driving trail we saw many birds and an enormous alligator. On our return drive we saw many dolphins. We then returned our lovely rental car and I had to call a cab to the hotel, as the free shuttle stopped at 15.00.

Radisson Resort Port Canaveral

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We would have stayed by the pool at the resort, but it was quite cool, but we did catch up with a few Crazies (Carnival Dream cruisers I'd met in cyberspace over the previous 12 months). We didn't know quite what to expect with a group cruise and probably wouldn't have taken this one had it not been for the enthusiastic internet posts from the leaders, Mach & Stitch. Alas, as it turned out Mach & Stitch couldn't be with us and another expert cruiser, Floatie, stepped in and did a fantastic job! As it turned out we had a fantastic cruise and met some wonderful people. Whether we will cruise Carnival again, I don't know, but we had a great cruise.

We were very lucky with our room location, near the pool and reception, as now without a car we had to move all our bags ourselves. Some rooms are a long way from reception. It's a strange place, a sort of cross between a traditional motel and a hotel. We had a very comfortable bed, which had controls to adjust the firmness for each side. The room also had a fridge and a microwave oven and cost about $115 inclusive for one night. This was a discounted 'Crazies' rate, but excluded breakfast.

We had arranged to have dinner at Fishlips, a local seafood restaurant in the port, where we would meet many more of the 'Crazies'. Meet time was 18.30, but it was so cold in the outside bar, that we made a reservation for the downstairs restaurant. The food was ok, but expensive, but I think the cold air killed the atmosphere. We took the hotel shuttle both ways and the driver was a really nice and helpful young man.

Saturday, 6 November

We had a disturbed night's sleep due to the room temperature getting hotter during the night, so when daylight came we got up and took a walk, in jumpers and coats! I was lucky enough to see two manatees in a local river, only because one was caught on a fishing line, but fortunately the sight of me, so close, frightened it free. Here is a picture

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We were booked on the 11.00 shuttle, but got on the 10.00. It was all a bit chaotic, as the desk said that the 10.00 & 10.30 shuttles were fully booked by the Crazies, but they had no names, so they allowed any of us on! It was about a 10 minute drive to the ship and after a tale of woe from the driver about how poorly paid he was compared with the baggage handlers, we all produced a donation, both to him and the handlers!

Next we joined a small line to go through security. Now for some reason the disability scooters joined our line from the VIP's, so delaying us a little, but we were soon through along with our champagne. Up escalator to check-in and into zone 6, the excitement was building and we were out of the cold breeze. We were called for boarding at about 11.00, 40 minutes after arriving at the port.

Norwegian Sun - PC

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Disney Cruise Ship

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We weren't allowed access to our cabins until 13.30, so we explored the ship, having left our carry-ons with the Dreamin Crazies, on Lido deck 10. We soon found that a lot of our new friends were heavy smokers, but this wasn't a problem, apart from keeping us out of the piano bar, but to be brutally honest the singer would have done that anyway (sorry Floatie!)!

Floatie

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Ward

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Floatie and Ward were doing a fantastic job handing out various Crazies goodies and an itinerary. We particularly looked forward to Sunday's $11.44 party and we were certainly not disappointed, what an awesome party! It certainly loosened a few tongues, but what happened on the ship stays on the ship!

We had lunch at the pasta bar on Deck 11, a good choice for embarkation day, as no lines! We resisted the chance to try the welcome cocktail, as together with our champagne, felt we might inadvertently miss some events.

Upper Deck Cabin 6450

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Main swimming area

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Our new friends (some of them!)

Heidi & Dave, Dan & Aleece, Angie

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Janet & Pete

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Rosy & Pete

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We got to our cabin 6450 on Upper Deck 6, as promised, at 13.30 and were delighted with it picture We settled in and did some more exploring before the safety drill. Why are some folk always late and why do the punctual ones get punished by having to wait for them? When we returned to our cabin, our bags awaited us, so we finished our unpacking, set up the power strip and found the place for the computer to sit. The steward emptied the fridge and we re-filled it with our goodies, some of which were still there at the end of the cruise, as we enjoyed so many alcohol fuelled experiences on and off ship!

Towel Animal in cabin

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We were booked on late seating dinner on Deck 3 (Scarlet Dining Room - table 438). Next to us were Floatie, Moma Floatie and their Florida crew, so we were in excellent company, not forgetting our wonderful tablemates, Heidi and Dave. Strangely the other four places were never occupied. On Monday, when Dave and Heidi joined the Crazies in the Steak House, we were joined by a mother and son from South Carolina, but we never saw them again!

We thought the portions were smaller than our previous cruises, but of course multiple choices were allowed and encouraged. One definite negative for the dining room was that it was pretty cold at our table. We advised the Maitre'd and he told us to make a formal complaint to the Purser, as there was nothing he could do. He has offered us a free bottle of wine for the final night, so I'll keep you posted. The standard of dress in the DR was pretty poor, with many in shorts and T shirts, which is disrespectful to those who follow the code.

Sunday, 7 November - Nassau

Today was our first port visit - Nassau- a pretty ordinary day, with strong winds, showers and rough seas. We did a walking tour around the old town, tried to visit the Botanical Gardens (closed on Sundays) and enjoyed the last few minutes of the morning Mass at the local Catholic church, including a rousing rendition of Cwm Rhondda (Guide Me Oh Thou Great Redeemer), which I love singing the bass line to.

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Following this we returned to the ship for a late lunch, followed by some wallowing in the hot tub and the Dreamin Crazies $11.44 all you can drink party. We had a ball and got to know many new friends and also got to try many new cocktails such as, B52, Miami Vice, Pina Colada, Dirty Banana, etc. - you get the drift. I don't remember too much after that until the first formal dinner, at which water was most welcome. The evening concluded with some excellent 'R' rated comedy.

Dreamin Crazies Cocktail Party -wow!

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Monday 8 November - at sea

Rosy and I tried the mini-golf

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The weather was pretty good, so many spent the day on the open decks. We preferred promenade deck (5), which was easy to access from our cabin and quieter.

Rosy attended the Art Auction preview, with champagne and I simply chilled, sometimes on the Slots, where I won $85, which paid for my further indulgences in the casino for the rest of the cruise.

Much of the group were having dinner in the steak-house, so we were joined at our dinner table by a mother and son from North Carolina. They had strong 'rural' accents and told us it was their first cruise. They didn't return the next night, or any other, so maybe we were too much for them. Dining was strange, as though the ship was full, there were many empty spaces in the dining room and our table for 10 had only four of us most nights, but the other couple of 'Dreamers' were wonderful people, Dave and Heidi, so thanks for the great company.

Tuesday 9 November - St Thomas / St John

This was one of Rosy's most enjoyable days, as we left the tourist areas for the unspoilt island of St John. We'd tried to book a ship's tour - a champagne catamaran cruise from St Thomas to St John, with snorkelling, lunch and beverages included, but alas the tour was fully booked so we decided to join Janet from Alabama, on a self-guided adventure. The plan was to take a taxi to Red Hook ferry terminal, then take the ferry to St John, then taxi to some ruins, before trekking to a deserted cove and swimming / snorkelling to Waterlemon Cay. Unfortunately the weather was pretty awful, which was a great shame as we only had one day in this beautiful place.

Janet had assembled a group of 11 people to taxi to Red Hook, but the taxi despatchers were totally inflexible with the fares, wanting $10 per person for the 20 minute ride. We eventually settled for $9 pp but it wasn't worth the stress. On our return we took the locals safari taxi for $2 pp, so be warned. Don't take a taxi from the ship - walk just outside the port, about 5 minutes and take the safari taxis. On arrival at Red Hook, we didn't have much of a wait for the ferry to leave, again the journey took about 20 minutes, for $6 pp. I sat next to a local, who sounded as though he'd had rum punch for breakfast (just rum punch!). He told me that he lived in a blue tent on the beach and seemed to be very happy.

When we reached St John, we sought one of Janet's contacts to hire snorkelling equipment, for about $13 pp, costs adding up! The lady in the shop was keen to meet a nice Englisman! I think she'd previously lived with a not so nice one.

Next we took a cab to an old slavery place

Tim & Rosy

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Tim & Janet

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We then walked through scenery like this (pretty damp)!

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It was a long trek and the recent hurricane had washed most of the sandy beach away. The water was very murky and I didn't fancy it at all, so my 13 Bucks was wasted. I stayed on the beach and watched the beautiful pelicans, diving into the sea around me, catching fish.

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Rosy looked cool!

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Janet hiked further along the beach looking for clearer water, but eventually came back and suggested an alternative route, (signposted) through the 'jungle'. After about 20 minutes in the company of mongooses, etc, we decided we were going the wrong way so we returned whence we came and eventually got back to the waiting taxi about 15 minutes late. Janet ran back, but I was too old for such activity and did my usual medium to fast stagger. I was delighted to get back to the ferry and after a short wait, we left in very dodgy overcast conditions. We took a chance and sat on the open deck, only to be showered by a rogue wave and then a fresh water shower.

We took the safari taxi back to the port in very heavy traffic, sharing a ride with some interesting locals. Before embarking the ship, we had a very enjoyable cocktail or three, at a very lively open air bar. We sat on swings at the bar and sampled some different concoctions, including pain killer - very strong.

We were glad to get back to our cabin for a hot shower, followed by dinner.

Wednesday 10 November - St Maarten

This was to be a memorable day, well it should have been but copious amounts of alcohol left some things a trifle blurred.

We took a bus tour (Bernard's Tours) of the island, organised by Annette. About 40 of us were on the tour. The first stop at Orient Beach (famous for it's nudist colony), was introduced by a trip to an enormous cooler full of rum punch and the like. So it started and went on and on and on. Rosy and I walked the mile or so to the far end of the beach (away from the nudists!). There was quiet a strong undertow, which could have been quite dangerous so we stayed close to the beach when swimming. These public beaches seem to be frequented by locals staking their pitch out, then renting chairs, umbrellas, etc, etc, etc. We would have like this facility, but we were only there for a short time before moving on. They even tried to tell us where and where not to place our towels!

Next, back to the bus for 'special drinks' which seemed to be mostly neat rum, then onto a local market where there was an excellent patisserie and a stall with local rum samples. There were about 10 different flavours and we had a 'slug' of most of them, before buying bottles of the coconut and chocolate varieties.

Back to the bus, then over to Maho Bay, famed for scores of people, watching the jets land at the adjacent airport. Rosy and I couldn't see why so many found this activity so fascinating, but they did.

Then we had a rather slow ride back to the ship, through very heavy traffic, doing a spot of shopping on the way, but we were very happy to rest on the bus, several folk being asleep in a drunken stupor!

In conclusion, these Caribbean islands seem to be saturated with the thousands of cruise ship passengers and the infrastructures are struggling to cope.

The next two days were at sea and the weather was pretty decent enabling some much needed tan topping-up to be done.

We enjoyed the Cruise Critic cocktail party, followed by the Captain's farewell drinks on one day, preceded on the other by the Carnival Past Guest party, so we ended up returning with our carry-ons!

I regret that due to not taking many notes and finishing this review so late, it is shorter than intended. However, the Art Auction people did manage to sell Rosy a framed picture for $235, which now adorns our living room wall and we purchased a Future Cruise Credit, despite believing that our next cruise would be on Princess or Celebrity, as we felt they provided a better all-round experience. Carnival does provide excellent value for money and consequently, we have just booked on Carnival Magic for it's re-positioning cruise, next October.

One negative to report is despite having confirmation from our TA, prior to the cruise, our CCL Stockholder credit did not appear on our on-board account. I spent some considerable time sorting this out and eventually Carnival credited my account, together with refunding my internet account.

Thank you to Floatie and all the Dreamin Crazies for making us feel so welcome. We made many friends and had a fantastic cruise.

Saturday 13 November - return home

We took zone one disembarkation at about 07.15, enabling us to have a head start on collecting out Hertz rental car, after a short shuttle ride from the port. We were given a Mitsubishi Gallant, which was perfectly adequate for the return to Miami on I95, but not a patch on the Ford Edge, that Avis allocated to us, on arrival.

We had an excellent drive to Miami in about 3 hours and so we stopped at a Bass Pro Outdoor World Shop and I finally managed to buy some size 14 Merrell walking shoes, so I was delighted. Then we stopped at the John Dickenson State Park, near Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale for some much needed exercise. We walked along a nature trail in hot sunshine and saw lots of cruise ships, mostly Holland and America Line.

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We also saw the FBI, who were patrolling the nearby water, during the naming of a US warship (we couldn't see this).

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Next I took Rosy and the bags to MIA. We had a tortuous journey around a poorly signposted airport, before finding the car park for the BA terminal. We checked in, I took the rental car back. By the time I joined Rosy in the lounge I was hot and bothered. It was a very poor lounge compared with LHR's CCR, but it did have showers, which I much needed.

Here are the contents of the towel / toiletries basket provided in the shower.

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Fortunately we didn't have to wait long before boarding our flight and here is Rosy in seat 1A

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Here's Tim in 1K

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We had a quick fairly decent flight, but even with a flat bed, my 6'4" frame found it difficult to sleep, despite having a few glasses of bubbly and wine / port. The food and service on the return flight was not as good as the outbound sector, but we were less excited, being on the way home.

Rosy kindly agreed to drive home from the airport, as I was very tired, which was much appreciated.

A fantastic holiday with a fantastic wife, lover and friend. I really do count my blessings. Less


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Cabin review: Carnival Dream Balcony Upper 6450

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