After reading some of the 'melodramatic' reviews of the dream i thought it would be a good idea to write a fair unbiased one! i too have had good and bad experiences on the dream as i will highlight later in this review, but to all those people reading these reviews and thinking that they've made a terrible mistake in booking on the dream, just remember people will only ever tell you the bad things that happen...never the good!!
i was a 1st time cruiser going on the dream, i went with my partner who has been on many cruises (RCI, NCL, P&O) and his father who has been on more than him!
We went on the Caribbean Dream cruise, Transatlantic from Southampton to Barbados! the itinerary was one of the main points that made us want to do this cruise as it stopped at some lovely places.
Our 1st impression as we got to Southampton was that the whole embarkation process was seamless! i think we got there slightly early but nevertheless it was quick and we were on board and shown to our cabins in no time!
our cabin was an inside stateroom on (notorious) deck 5, when we got in there we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of space that there was in the cabin, both my partner and his father said that the cabins were bigger than that on other newer ships! we probably could have done with a little more storage space but that was probably due to me not taking enough coat hangers and too many clothes!! i will say that it is definitely better to take suitcases that are collapsible and not those rock hard ones so you can store them under your bed.
my partners father was in a single cabin and he found that to be very spacious and comfortable, he was also on deck 5.
As we had arrived early it gave us plenty of time to take a wander round the ship and get some lunch in the Lido restaurant whilst others were still embarking the ship.
the muster drill had to take place inside due to the cold weather in Southampton, i don't think anyone had complaints about that!!
Unfortunately our problems started about half an hour after we had left Southampton when we returned to our cabin to find the bathroom had wet floor behind the toilet, we didn't think much about it and went for dinner, when we returned about an hour and a half later we found the bathroom to be totally flooded with grey water! our cabin steward 'Hari' was around at the time and after we had called reception to raise our concern we spoke to him too. he looked genuinely horrified that this was happening in our room and was very apologetic, we later found out why... it wasn't just our room! there was about 6 rooms surrounding ours that were all having similar problems, the room opposite ours had water going all the way back to their bed, the staff were frantically trying to get the water off the carpets using the wet vacuum they had, it was chaos outside our cabin for hours as the water just wouldn't subside. The plumbers that were fiddling around with pipes around our rooms just kept trying all sorts of things to get the problem sorted, this went on after midnight and we did witness them entering one room to look in their bathroom when i believe the occupants were in bed, which to be fair wasn't really on.
They then said to us that the only way that they are going to sort the problem is by going through the Orion restaurant ceiling below us to get to the pipes but this couldn't be done until morning. Which was fine accept that it didn't help us with no bathroom to use overnight!! we think that the people in the cabins around us had given up and gone to bed.
We however didn't want to sleep in a room with no bathroom and didn't think we should have to, so went to reception about 1 am to ask what we were supposed to do, they initially said there was nothing that they could do as the ship was full, but when we politely stood our ground and said how unacceptable this was, the lady found us one unoccupied cabin which was to be used for emergency situations for people to wash and shower in, we were allowed to use this overnight to sleep in as we were promised that our cabin would be habitable tomorrow. We asked at that time about what kind of compensation we would get for our inconvenience and also if our cabin is not habitable tomorrow , we were told nothing, all compensation was to go through Thomson when we returned home and again assured that everything would be sorted in our cabin... fair enough as long as it was true!!
The next day we returned very nervous to our cabin to find it dry and cleaned :)
The carpet was a little wet by the door, the carpet outside the room was wet through still and they were still trying to get it dry but we could not fault the staff for trying! Hari was around and asked us if we were OK and if everything was better, the staff really could not do enough. It appeared that everyone around us was moved from their rooms to other cabins later on in the cruise when some contractors had left the ship, we stayed on ours because after the initial problems our room was 'near enough' perfect!
Our only other complaint about the room was with the Air Conditioning that just didn't appear to work no matter how many times we were told that it had been fixed, it never seemed to get cooler!!
My Partners Father had problems with his toilet not flushing and filling up with sewerage, but it would usually then have a delayed flush to get rid of this and never overflowed, he just didn't like waking up to that most mornings. He was given sparkling wine and chocolates as a sorry for this which he accepted.
I'm sure if you've read other reviews then you'll know about one of the engines breaking on the way to our first port which meant we were late getting there... OK so this was a little bit annoying due to not having a whole day in the port, but you'd have thought it was the end of the world if you'd listened to some peoples reactions on the ship! This went on after there was a problem with a generator in which it shorted out the whole ship so everything turned off for a matter of seconds before they kicked in again, we were sat outside on the Lido deck at the time and it was pure entertainment watching people gather and start an influx of rumours that were just not true! one man described to another 'and there was a big bang!!'...we just laughed at him, what an idiot!
There just seemed to be people who went on that ship just so they could find problems with it. I had a lady one day approach me in the Lido Restaurant trying to recruit me into some sort of mass complaint whereby they will all complain to Thomson together and not on an individual basis even if they never had a complaint! that's just ridiculous!
The food on board was lovely, we mainly went to the Lido Restaurant as there was something on the menu that we all liked, the other restaurants were nice and lovely food, we didn't eat in the Orion that often due to the food not being to all our our tastes at one time...OK so we're fussy eaters!
It was a shame that the ice cream machine broke so early on in the cruise, it would have been lovely when we were in the Caribbean but never mind, just one of those unfortunate things i guess!
You could not fault the staff on board at all, they were all absolutely brilliant and could not do enough! we felt sorry for the reception staff, even though we had to see them about our complaint we were never rude, hostile and never shouted at them which we witnessed other passengers doing. our cabin steward was so lovely, he was new to cruising as we found out by spending time chatting with him, he found it hard work but was enjoying it, he had a family at home that he'd next see in 8-10 months....i think most of the staff on board have the same story which is sad but they get better money doing this than working at home which they appear to appreciate! although they did say that they found England far too cold! we agreed!! :)
It was nice to see the Captain eating with the passengers in the Lido Restaurant, no hierarchy obvious! we also thought it was nice that at his cocktail party he highlighted the fact that the running of the ship is mainly due to the people you don't see on deck as they are well below deck! this was a nice touch... the entertainment crew were very good, brilliant shows and genuinely friendly to talk to. There were a couple of guest comedy acts that came aboard for a week each, they were also good and mingled in with the passengers.
Whilst we were at sea they changed the theatre into a cinema at 12 noon which was a great idea, were were pleasantly surprised by the quality of films that they showed, all new films not yet on DVD, i know this isn't to every one's taste to go on holiday and watch a film but we thought it was a good option to have. We saw dance classes going on, we didn't participate in any as we'd probably end up causing injury to ourselves! Every day there was a long list of activities going on around the ship if you wanted to join in, i don't think anyone could say that there wasn't anything to do! we didn't do much apart from relax but that was our choice not because we didn't have any other options.
The ports were good, with plenty to do if you got off and went exploring, Porto was the only one where you had to go on a shuttle bus to get to town, however saying that my partners father went for a walk and ended up on a beach next to the town so it was doable!
my favorite stop was Antigua...we did the jeep safari which was amazing..well worth it if anyone gets chance to do it, you see parts of the island that no taxi tour will take you too! and the guides are just so knowledgeable and friendly with no hidden agenda! they did not hint for tips or anything but we gave them one as we'd enjoyed it so much.
Our very last complaint was with the compensation issue... after being told that we would not get anything on board, the day before the end of our holiday we were offered £200 compensation for the troubles at the start of the holiday which would be added to our room bill!! this was fine apart from the fact that we would have enjoyed the holiday a whole lot more knowing we had £200 to blow on what we liked...excursions, drinks etc. We'd already payed off most of our bill by cash and so only had something like £70 on our room when they offered that to us...after we discussed it with them they agreed to give us the £200 cash which was fair enough.
One of the best things to point out was the brilliant way in which we left the ship and got home, we left our case out the night before and didn't see it till we got to Gatwick! no queueing at the airport to check in- just straight to security to departure lounge to plane! lovely!
I'm sure i could go on forever but I'll stop boring you now, i just wanted to write a report which is honest...I'm sure some people have had a horrible time and I'm sure some people have had a fabulous time on the dream! like i said to start with you just never hear about the good stuff...it doesn't make interesting reading does it!??!
Neither me or my partner (nor his dad) look back on this holiday with a negative view, the good points by far outweigh the bad and even though it was not funny at the time and caused unneeded distress, it was forgotten after the first 48hrs and we then just enjoyed the holiday.