Our trip began with staying at the Country Inn & Suites right near Port Canaveral. The hotel seems fairly new and I had no complaints with this nice hotel. Would highly recommend staying here again. We also rented a car from Hertz at Orlando Airport the day prior to sailing and returned it to the Hertz rental car office right at the end of the driveway of the Country Inn & Suites. Very convenient.
Embarkation Day: We received a free shuttle ride from our hotel to the Ship, where we dropped off our luggage and headed to check in. We arrived around 11am and there was no large crowds yet. Since we booked a Suite, we were able to board thru the VIP lines, which also gets you in Zone 1 for boarding the boat. Checking in and getting our sign and sail cards was a breeze. Around 11:30 they began letting passengers aboard the ship. Once onboard, we weren't allowed to our cabins until around 1:30pm, so that means everyone is heading to the buffet areas to eat.
First Impressions of the ship: Everything was very clean and typical decor of Carnival Ships. I'm not sure if I'm a big fan of the staircase in the main atrium lobby. If I had my choice, I would of placed two wrap around stairs similar to Princess atrium lobby. Thou the 2nd floor wrap around seating is nice to sit and people watch and listen to the entertainment. Up on top at the pool areas, I was sorta disappointed in the layout, especially for sun days when everyone is laying out. Perhaps a more stadium style seating to view the shows and laying out near the big screen would be better.
Carnival Spa: After sailing on Princess many times, I became of fan of the Lotus Spa that Princess has on their fleet. So it was nice to see some influence Princess had with designing the Spa on Carnival Dream. If your looking for getting the most for your money on a cruise, for $150 for the week, you can enjoy the private Spa areas which include a private mineral bath/hot tub, aroma steam room, and much more. I highly recommend heading for a tour when you get onboard the first day and enjoy this Spa all week.
State Room: We were booked in 7279 on the Empress Deck. The layout of the room was very nice and included plenty of storage areas for all three of us. But here comes my biggest complaint. I recall from past cruises, our cabin steward introducing themselves upon getting into our cabin. I don't think it was till day 2 that we actually got to meet who was cleaning our cabin. I also recall in years past you would find in your cabin the name of your steward and a way to page them if you needed their assistance. Perhaps we are loosing the personalization of cruising in the past. I always felt some type of connection with your room steward in the past and it was completely lost on this cruise.
Food: Its been probably 7 years since I've sailed on Carnival, and have been on both Princess and Royal Caribbean in the past years. I'll first start with the Breakfast buffet areas. I was generally disappointed in the quality and choices we had on the Carnival Dream. The choice of potatoes every morning wasn't that good and I just felt both Princess and RC offer better breakfast choices. Lunch time much improved over breakfast. So many choices, I loved the burrito bar option, pasta bar, and if you didn't like what was served in the main buffet, you always have a good burger or pizza to drop back on. Evening Buffet was still pretty good. Actually the night we skipped our Main dinning room, the roast beef was some of the best I've had. Almost made me want to just stop going to our main sit down dinner. Which leads me to the Main Dinning room. We were in the Crimson Dinning area for the 6pm seating. Even though our server was friendly and nice all the time, the service was hit and miss. At times our food would come fast and timely, yet other times it seemed we were the last table eating. Same with the food. I think the regular flat iron steak offered is better then the prime rib they served. All week I was waiting for crab cake for a starter option and on the last night it was offered it was all a disappointment. It was just luke warm by the time it was served. What a let down. So overall I just felt the food was just ok. It wasn't the best and it definitely wasn't the worst I've had. I still believe in my theory that when you build these larger ships, the more food the kitchen is kicking out, the quality of that being served is also going down. We never did go to the extra charge Chefs Art steak dinning area. Thou a few in our group did and I was told it was very good.
Entertainment: I went to all 3 major production numbers and enjoyed them all. The favorite being "Dancing on the Streets". Comparing them to Princess and RC, I would say RC wins hands down at putting out great stage show productions. The singers in the other parts of ship were also very good. I had no complaint here.
Cozumel: Have been here numerous times. So we opted to just do some shopping and have a cocktail on the strip and then headed back to the ship to relax and take in the spa.
Belize: I was worried we'd miss this stop because of the tender dispute, but all worked out. No excursion booked here either, but we did take the tender boat in for some shopping and more cocktails.
Roatan: Probably my favorite port this trip. I booked a tour prior to the cruise thru Bodden Tours. We were a group of 5 and had our very own private tour of the island and also stopped at Victors Monkey House. This was the best time I had. The interaction with the monkeys was a great time. Highly Recommend this stop!
Costa Maya: First time back since it was hit by the hurricane. Nice to see it all rebuilt and looking nice. Thou with three carnival ships here this day, the port and shopping areas was extremely crowded. We did one quick walk thru and headed back to the ship.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: As to the surprise to everyone on the ship, we were lucky to witness the filming of the new upcoming Alvin and the Chipmunks new Movie titled Chip-wrecked. Many lucky passengers got to volunteer to be used as backgrounds in many scenes. Both Jason Lee and David Cross were onboard and at times were just floating around in the crowds onboard the ship. The crew was always very friendly to everyone and was fun to chat and hang out with at many of the bars. I am looking forward to seeing this movie and how they puzzle it all together.
Summary: Would I sail Carnival again? Thats the big question. My first time cruising was aboard Carnival on the Destiny, Victory, and Triumph. Since then I have voyaged onto the Grand, Emerald, Ruby, and Crown Princess, as well as the Independence of the Seas from Royal Caribbean. Each cruise line seems to bring in a different demographic of people onboard and at times that can really influence a person on how well they enjoy the cruise. With that being said, I'm not sure Carnival is my favorite choice in future sailings. I hope you enjoyed my review and feel free to ask me any questions. If you would like to view some of my photos from the Carnival Dream here is the link to my flickr page.