Had an absolutely amazing time on the Dream! Bought my future cruise certificate to sail again ? I would totally recommend buying the future cruise certificate unless you're 100 % sure that you don't want to sail Carnival again....especially after finding out that it is completely refundable if you choose that you no longer want it! You can't go wrong with free onboard credit! I will share a few of the highlights of the trip and things I learned. First off.....checking the boards here on Cruise Critic was the most helpful thing I did. There are so many things I would have missed out on if I had not checked out these boards in advance! Like bringing 12 cans of soda on per person, ordering multiple starters, entrees, or desserts.....pack less lol....
Pre Hotel Stay
When we boarded our shuttle from the Econo Lodge you could tell who were the first time cruisers and who had been on multiple cruises. All the people who had cruised before had about half the luggage of us first time cruisers. Econo Lodge obviously was very basic just a place to sleep but it was worth saving the money to spend later in the week on Camp Carnival after hours parties and smoothies!!!! $77 included the hotel room and the shuttle to and from the ship which was very easy.
All of the shows in the Encore theater were awesome! Just as everyone said Dancing in the Streets was full of talent and a show not to be missed! It seems like more people caught on to how good the shows were towards the end of the week and the theater began to fill up much quicker. If you want a good seat get there about 45 minutes before the show starts. The different comics in the punchliner Comedy club were good too. The 8:30 show always seemed to be less crowded than the 7:30 show which often turned out to be standing room only. I also went to charades and a Cha Cha Dance class. I had the most fun doing the color team lounge hop and deck party. I'm not usually wild but it was fun to get all enthusiastic and do the twist, karaoke, and learn a disco dance as a team...go white team, go white team go! The deck party was fun as well doing all the slides....the Electric Slide, the Mississippi Slide, and the Cha Cha Slide. Other than that I spent most of my time relaxing and reading on deck or while listening to some of the live music around the ship....some of the entertainers were good and some you wanted to run the other way.
The food was plentiful. My favorite spot was the tandoori grill....my favorite dessert in the dining room was the bitter and blanc.....Another thing I learned is that if you weren't thrilled with what you had at dinner run down to the Gathering and catch the buffet there was a time or two I ran down there for some extra dessert ? They often also serve breakfast where the tandoori area was with little to no line. The iced tea was blah but the lemonade and the passion guava fruit juice for breakfast was really good too. It's amazing how quickly you make "friends" on a cruise ship. We quickly became friends with the people staying at the Econo Lodge while waiting for the shuttle, our tablemates Georgia and Don, and various people we kept running into on the ship over and over again. Met up with a lovely couple from cruise critic and their mother/mil for tea........I think I laughed the hardest on my trip during that tea ?...If you ever meet Shannon's MIL you should really take a chance and sit down and talk to her ? ...and don't forget to try the strawberries with cream too!
All three ports we chose to go on our own to save money after reading the boards....it is easy as people say. Only thing I would say is that it is a bit harder if it is just a small group of you doing it on your own. There was just me and my son and we had to wait so long in Nassau to find other people who were going the same place we were going for a taxi that we ended up forgoing the Sheraton and going to Cabbage Beach instead 4 p.p. taxi ride....which turned out to be lovely by the way. We walked through Atlantis and out to the beach. The sand was nice although the tide was rough, but it was probably my favorite beach we went to.
In St. Maarten we went to the beach at Little Divi Bay Resort...The cab ride was 4 p.p. as we found a couple to ride with. The beach use was free, they did ask if we wanted to do a timeshare tour but we politely declined and they let us by without continuing to haggle us. The couple we were with chose to take the tour in exchange for free lunch, free snorkeling, free drinks, umbrellas, chairs, and a free taxi ride back to the ship. They had lots of water toys you could rent like kayaks, paddle boats, you could even go parasailing. The beach here was very rocky and it was pretty rocky into the water as well so I would suggest water shoes.
In St. Thomas we went to Coral World, unless you are doing one of their special activities that you pay extra for the park is very small and will probably take you less than an hour to go through but it is nice for the kids. We left after about 30 minutes and walked over on the boardwalk to Coki Beach (less than a minute literally). It was neat to snorkel with the fish and the fish were in shallow enough so the kids could snorkel with no problem at all. My favorite experience in St. Thomas was actually the open air taxi trip up to Coki Beach and Coral world. This is definitely not a port I would rent a car in ? Tip for the ladies.....wax before you cruise....it took me a few days to realize that my legs were burning after shaving from the lovely salt water of the ocean!!!!!!
Head waiter Duowang and Room Steward Sushi were super friendly and remembered our preferences from the very first day. I asked my son who his favorite Camp Carnival staff and he said Sushi...I reminded him that Sushi didn't work in Camp Carnival and he said I know but he's my favorite!!! It was always interesting to talk to different crew members and find out more about their jobs, the country they were from, or their families.
Camp Carnival was amazing!!! Once my son went he did not want to leave! He went on the waterslides the very first day but after that was more interested in Camp Carnival activities. The welcome aboard family party in the club Caliente was fun. I was surprised at all the "free" souvenirs he got from camp Carnival to take home as well...the bag, rubric cube, t-shirt, candy art sand art etc...... Most days the only time the club closed was for one hour in preparation for dinner. The kids did a show for the parents at the end of the week with fun force the break dancers. They were great with the kids as well! By the end of the week the kids were calling out to each other in the hallway like they had been friends for life.