Day T-One: Drive to Florida
Loaded up the Forrester and left Knoxville at 7:00 AM. Already running a little late, but hey, it's vacation right. We made great time and arrived in Port Canaveral at around 5:00! We had booked a package with the Country Inn and Suites in Port Canaveral and we were very pleased. The hotel is as good as talked about on this site. When we got to the hotel, we found out that there was a satellite launch scheduled for around 6:00 pm...talk about stoked!!! I am a huge sci fi geek and love everything about space. What can I say, I grew up dreaming of being an astronaut and finding a genie in a bottle on the beach! The launch took place around 6:30...it was the last of six spy satellites that were being launched over a few weeks. Our vacation is really off with a bang! After that, our party of 11 headed to Fish Lips for dinner (very good) and then a short souvenier stop at Ron Jons.
Woke up and looked out our window and there was the Dream, looking magnificent. Because of the size of our party and the number of people booked on the shuttle, we were told on arrival that the soonest we could get a shuttle from the hotel to the ship was 1:30. That was not going to work for us, so we called a cab and for $3 per person, we were off to the Dream by 10:30. Embarkation was a total breeze. We were on the ship by 11:10 and started our exploring. At 1:30 we were allowed in our cabin (Upper Deck 6415) and all of our luggage arrived by 2:00. Sail away took place around 4:30. After a drink on deck, we headed to our room to unpack. We had anytime dining in the Crimson dining room and I must say that I am not a fan. I prefer late seating at a table that you know your whole party can sit at. Most nights, we broke up into parties of 8 and 3. Only had dinning with my daughter one night during the entire cruise. Rest of the time, she was one of the 3 with her two friends. She enjoyed it, though. Our waiter, was Joel (Billy Joel from PHILLYpenes). He was exceptional and we liked him a lot, but unfortunately, we were unable to get seated with him the rest of the cruise. Dinner was just ok. I had the Flat Iron Steak and didn't care for the sauce, but at least it was cooked correctly. After dinner, we went to the Welcome Aboard show. I liked all of the shows that we attended and thougth that the entertainment was very good for a cruise.
Day 2 (Nassau, Bahamas)
Short day in Nassau (not quite sure why). I definitely see some improvement in Nassau and if I had more time, I might begin to like this port. My wife is a Wedding Planner and does booking for Sandals, so we had a Day Pass to the Royal Bahamian. Caught a cab at the port and got ripped off ($25 for a 10 minute cab ride to Sandals in a van that I thought the seat was going to turn over). Spent about three hours at the RB and caugth another cab back to the port area (a more reasonable $18 this time). Did a little shopping for the grandaughter and then headed back to the ship. Sail Away was nice. We had secured some seats aft and laid back and had a relaxing afternoon. After a few hours, we headed to our balcony where I enjoyed a great cigar and some brandy. Then it was time to get ready for the first formal night. I must say that all of the ladies in our party looked great, we guys were just the window dressing. My wife and I had the lobster, and it was extremely good!
Day 3 (Relaxing Day at Sea)
Day started with room service on our balcony (what a beautiful start to a day). After that, we headed up to the Serenity Deck and secured a great spot to relax the day away. Day spent in a comfortable lounge chair and hot tub, while teenagers daughter and friends enjoyed the pool and water slide. I will point out that it was a little windy up on deck, but did not deter from a beautiful day at sea. Went to the gathering for lunch and had no complaints. I would like to point out that our ship was completely sold out, so lines should never be longer than what we experienced...the longest I ever waited for any buffet meal was around 10 minutes (this included breakfast). So if you are worried about long waits, don't. Even the Lanai BBQ line moved quickly. I never ate at the Pasta Bar, but it did look like there was a line for that and the area filled quickly. After relaxing in the sun all day, we headed to dinner around 8:00 PM. Had to wait for around 40 minutes, but we found something to do. Me, I headed to the Casino for a little Blackjack. I am not a big gambler, but I do have a system...I take $25 -$30 to a casino, and if I double that amount, I get up and leave. At the end of the cruise, I took home $125.00 more than I came with. After dinner, we went to the show...not sure which one it was, but I enjoyed them all. After the show, we headed to the Piano Bar (Aft) for some drinks...we stayed until 1:00 in the am.
Day 4 (St. Thomas)
We arrived in St. Thomas on time around 10:00 and were off the ship by 10:30. We opted to head for St. John on our own, so we caught a cab to Red Hook ($10pp). We got there just in time to catch the 11:00 ferry to St. John, so we bought or Ferry tickets ($12pp roundtrip) and off we went. Upon arriving at Cruz Bay, we immediately caught a cab to Trunk Bay for some beach time and snorkeling ($9pp). Trunk Bay is a wonderful beach area with very good snorkeling, the cost to enter the park is $3 per adult (children 16 and under are free). I am an experienced SCUBA diver, so I have dived better reefs, but this was very nice with plentiful fish. Did see a hawksbill sea turtle (about 2' diameter). We stayed at Trunk Bay until around 3:30 and then headed back to Cruz Bay to find some Conch fritters and beverages. We first went to Woody's, but they were way to crowded. So we ended up at the High Tide Bar and Grill (right near the Ferry terminal). Had a great waitress (Anna Marie from Atlanta) and ate some of the best Conch fritters I have tasted (better than Woody's!) After three rum punches, it was time to stagger ( I mean walk) over to the ferry and head back to Red Hook and catch our pre-arranged ride back to Havensight. We got back on the Dream at around 7:00 for our 8:00 sailing. We did not feel like dressing up, so we ate at The Gathering buffet this night.
Day 5 (St. Maarten/St.Martin)
We arrived in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten at 8:00 am and we off the boat by 8:30. We opted to head for the French side of the island and caught a cab to Friar's Bay. Our cab driver was Oliver Williams (and I would really like to give him cudos). He loves his island and was extremely dependable. (http://www.duccotaxiservice.com/ContactUs.html) Olver pointed out that there was no taxi service at Friar's Bay, so we pre-arranged a time for pick-up...he was right on time! Friar's Bay was the highlight of our trip. It was absolutely a picture postcard view with crystal clear water and no waves. There were two restaurants and bars at this beach, as well as, chairs and umbrellas. Chairs and unbrellas were free if you ate at the restaurant. Don't expect friendly service on the French side of the island. I found the restaurant staff to be very rude and arrogant. However, the food was good, but slightly expensive. Be warned that all prices are in euros, so it will cost you more on the exchange. After the beach, we shopped a little at the port area, had a Baker's rum (local) pina colada, bought a few more cigars, and picked up a few mini bottles of Courvisier Cognac. No problem getting the mini bottles on the ship. Dinner this night was casual in the Crimson Dining room. The show that night was the juggler and he was very entertaining.
Day 6 (San Juan, Puerto Rico????)
Woke up just as we were sailing out of Puerto Rical by El Morro. Turns out, we had a medical emergency and the Captain diverted us to San Juan to medivac the lady to a hospital. (Mary from Iowa, I hope your Mom is recovering and will be able to come home soon). Headed up to the Serenity Deck where I parked my kister all day. Discovered the Spa lunch area and had a very health sandwich and salad for lunch. I did get out of my clam shell for a little while that afternoon to go and watch the Newlywed Game...that is where I met Mary and Rick from Iowa. Too soon and it was time to get ready for the last formal night dinner...escargot and chateu briande. Just before dinner, I smoked a cuban and sipped a double cognac on my balcony...decadence! Did not make it to a show that night. We just crashed.
Day 7 (Last Day at Sea)
Started the day with watching the sunrise from the Serenity Deck. Ate breakfast in The Gathering, then back to the Serenity for as much sun as I could get. It was very windy (if you got out of your Clam Shell chair, the wind would move it). I actually got on the water slide with a couple of my friends (not sure what my teenager thought of that). What a rush! About 5:00, we headed back to the room to start packing and I chilled a bottle of Chardonay. We then sat on our balcony (actually two balconies opened up) with our friend and killed the bottle of Chardonay and a bottle of Cab. Went to dinner and then dropped by the casino, won a little more, and then went to the Carnival Legends show. If you have not been to one of these, you should not miss it...it's a lot like American Idol, but without talent (except for the guy who sang Friends in Low Places better than Garth Brooks)
Headed for Home
Disembarkation was a breeze. We arrive at Port Canaveral at around 6:30 am and people were able to disembark by 6:45. We were Zone 19 and were off the ship by 8:45. Found our luggage and were back at the Country Inn and Suites by 9:15. We called the shuttle while we were getting our last bag, so we did not have to wait more than 5 minutes when we got to the pick-up area (Zone C). Earlier, I mentioned that it took 10 hours to get to Port Canaverla from Knoxville, however with the Spring Break traffic, it took us 14 to get home. We hit traffic in Cordele, GA that did not let up until we were on the other side of Atlanta!
Ship: The ship was beautiful. I have no complaints about the decor or activities. There was something for everyone.
The Smell: I did catch a whiff a time or two on the Upper deck aft, but it was fleeting. Not worth worrying about.
Serenity Deck: Loved it!!!
Butch: Best Cruise Director ever!!! I have been on 6 cruises and he is the best. This Ya is for you Butch!
Spring Break: Not sure if I would do another Spring Break cruise. Not complaining about the kids (we added 3 teenagers to the bunch), but the decks were crowded.
Would I cruise the Dream again, you betcha!
Have fun! The worst day at sea is still better than the best day on land.