Well, here it is. Another Dream review! This is a short summary of my extended picture review, which you can read on the Carnival Boards at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1388736
I know there is a place for port reviews, but I included a lot of ship info on our port reviews. So, I just combined them here.
This was our seventh cruise. We are not loyal to any particular cruise line, but enjoy a great deal. Previous experiences include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian and Carnival.
We chose this Western Caribbean cruise based on price and port of departure. We left on March 19th and returned on March 26th. My husband, my six year old son and I left Jacksonville the morning of the cruise. We parked at the port at 10:45 a.m. and were on the ship at 11:10 a.m. It was the easiest boarding ever!
TIP: Driving to Port Canaveral. If you go east on 528, make sure you take the exit for the north terminals. It is easy sailing from there. Follow the signs to drop off your luggage and park in the adjacent parking garage. Parking was $105 for the 7 day cruise.
Once on the ship we headed straight to the pasta bar. It is aft in the Gathering. You go up a set of stairs, get an order sheet, fill it out, hand it to the cook and sit at your table with your number. We only waited 5 minutes for our food, since we were pretty early and nobody had discovered the Pasta bar yet! We had the meat lasagna, which was GREAT. Although different, we enjoyed it. It does have roast type meat in it, but is also filled with spinach and something from the pumpkin family (not sure if it was pumpkin or sweet potato, but it was good).
We headed to the Crimson dining room to look at our table. We were seated at a table for 3, as requested. When we got there, we noticed that they were seating people for lunch. This was not noted on the Fun Times. So...
TIP: If you don't want to put up with the crowds in the Gathering, head to the Crimson or Scarlett to see if they are offering a sit down lunch on boarding day. The menu is always posted at the door. They do offer lunch on sea days in the MDR.
At 1:45 we headed down to our cabin and met our cabin steward shortly after. He was efficient and kind. He did a great job with the towel animals and our cabin! His name is Diago from India.
We were in cabin 1208, a PT category cabin. It was a GREAT cabin. The only downfall was that we had a connecting stateroom with a loud child in it. However, this did not spoil our cruise. For the price we paid for the cabin, we put up with the inconvenience and enjoyed the privilege of having natural light, an ocean view and plenty of space for the 3 of us. There are many pictures of this cabin on my review on the boards.
For those who wonder: There were 20 hangers in our 2 closets. (LOL! I know somebody is going to thank me for that piece of info!)
The bathroom had plenty of counter space. I am glad I had left the over the door shoe hanger, because it would have wasted space in my suitcase. But then, all my 'stuff' fit on the counter and in the nice shell bowl that had been provided. There were nice freebies in the shell bowl upon arrival, including teeth whitening strips, a men's razor, facial washing cloths and floss samples.
After exploring the cabin, we went to meet some of our Roll call members at the AFT pool. Few people showed up, but we enjoyed meeting and chatting with those who did make it.
The first night, after dinner, we just headed to the Ocean Plaza, since another CC member hand mentioned that they enjoyed the Blackjack Band. We were not disappointed. They sing a variety of 70's 80's 90's rock and country. We had a lot of fun with them. They repeat their jokes just about every night, but the music never got old! We listened to them every chance we got.
FIRST DAY AT SEA:
We spent most of the morning at the AFT pool. It was much less crowded in the morning (even on sea days) and I tried to avoid the big screen TV.
We chose to have lunch at Tandoori - we really enjoyed their Greek Salad and their Samosas. The Tandoori Chicken was great too. We do love curry and therefore preferred this as a lunch choice quite often throughout the week. My husband often got the Rueben sandwich at the deli, which was usually good... depending on who made it.
Dinner in the MDR (Crimson table 161) was always good and fun. My favorite meal was the Tom Turkey and my favorite dessert was the fig pudding. The highlight was always the free cappuccino. I asked for cream on the side, because it was quite strong, but enjoyable! Our waiters, John and Michael, were excellent. John was very entertaining and efficient. Michael always remembered our favorite drinks and preferences. They are both greatly missed!
In the morning, we ate breakfast in the Scarlett Dining Room. We did this every morning, since it beats the mad rush of the Gathering. They had a good variety for breakfast. DH enjoyed the Eggs Benedict a lot. I preferred the French Toast with stewed bananas and whipped cream on the side.
Before heading off the ship, we played mini golf. We had the course to ourselves! We avoided the crowded rush to get off and enjoyed a relaxing time eating lunch.
After lunch, we just got off the ship for a short while to walk around in port. This was our second visit to Cozumel and we enjoyed just getting a little bit of the Mexican flair.
Our family enjoys spending a lot of time on the ship in most ports, since the ship is so deserted. It makes for a much more relaxing time, which we enjoy. We are also of the philosophy that we don't like taking expensive excursions - we would rather save up for another cruise.
That night we watched Fun Force from the Photo Gallery on deck 4 (they perform in the atrium on deck 3). We had a great view and they were quite entertaining. We made our way to the Encore Theater for "EDGE". He was funny and very talented!
We stayed on the ship for this port due to many factors, including our son's young age, cost of excursions, long tender ride, etc. When our son is older, we would like to visit this port again. It was fun, however, to have the ship less crowded again.
We enjoyed "Dancin' in the Streets" tremendously! PLEASE do not walk out before the end of the show. I think the highlight of the show was very close to the end with the Fun Force Dancers. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but if you think it is just more breakdance/street dance, you are wrong. Just watch!
We saw the last show with the current cast. The new cast was introduced to us on Thursday, with "8 more seconds" being their debut performance on our sailing. Hopefully, the new cast will do as great a job with "Dancin' in the streets" as the cast we bid farewell. In my opinion, the lady singer of the new cast is significantly better than the one from the old cast.
After the show, I headed up to see the laser show. It is true that the smoke machine does not work well due to the wind, but the show was still fun to watch.
We simply love Roatan. Once again, we avoided the crowded disembarkation by playing a game of mini golf first. We headed through the port to Clip 'n' Zip. It is VERY easy to find and you can walk right up to it. No need to pay for a taxi to take you to another location. I had a blast here! It was my first experience ziplining and I can't wait for my next chance. This cost $40 and we had 11 lines. Thankfully, only 11 - because my tummy muscles were complaining toward the end! I purchased the $10 CD with photos - they did a great job and I gladly supported them by getting this souvenir.
Mahogany bay was very crowded by the time we got there, after ziplining. We did enjoy swimming there. Again, see pictures on the boards review.
The Magic show was also very entertaining and funny, but unfortunately not always family friendly. DS and DH missed this one.
We had a slight sprinkle of rain when we arrived, but the day cleared up to be beautiful in the end. Once again, we just walked around the port for a short while. We enjoyed a watching people swim with the dolphins and had an impromptu show from two dolphins who were playing and jumping.
The colorful market is pleasurable to wander through and we even enjoyed some traditional Mexican dancing for a little while. Back on the ship, we played mini golf again and enjoyed the 24 hour ice cream.
TIP: If you are going to use the high slides, use them while in port. They are much less crowded and are often closed during sailing due to high winds.
LAST DAY AT SEA:
As usual, there was a mad rush for chairs, which I refused to partake in. We had a leisurely breakfast in the MDR and then headed up around 10 a.m. There were plenty of chairs in the shade. We simply moved one to a large open area on deck 11, and I had my own little spot in the sun despite the chair hoggers!
TIP: At 5 pm on the last day, there is a Fun Farewell Party in the Burgandy Lounge. It is not advertised at all - just mentioned in the schedule. There are free drinks served during this time for about 1 hour (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). We were surprised to see how few people knew about it... imagine if all 4500 passengers showed up for the free drinks! (Okay, minus kids/minors). This is a well kept secret that mostly CC members seem to know about! We tipped our first waiter $1 for bringing us a free drink and he kept them coming with a huge smile on his face. You would have thought we had given him $100!
TIP: I can't remember when it was, but we had a returning Carnival passengers party one day in the Encore lounge. You will receive an invitation in your cabin the night before. They served free drinks during that time too. If you want to be taken care of, don't sit in one of the rows with the large pillars. It seemed like the waiters avoided those rows since they are hard to maneuver with a tray full of drinks. Once again, there are alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic drinks.
Overall, it was a great cruise and we were able to avoid the crowds most of the time. If the same deal came up again, we would sail the Dream again. However, we enjoy smaller ships more and can tell that the crew members on the Dream work unusually hard.