My husband, 13 year old daughter and I anxiously counted down the days until our vacation began. Booking a Western Caribbean with a newer ship and ports that we already new we would enjoy... what could go wrong?
We flew in from San Antonio, Texas. We started with a brief trip to Epcot and The Magic Kingdom with my in-laws. What a great time! Next stop - Port Canaveral!
Embarkation - This couldn't have been easier. We were on the ship in no time. This is where some of the disappointment began. After the initial security photos, we were led to another photo area. A man snapped his fingers at us telling us where to go. Thinking that this was the usual group photo when you first get on, we all lined up. We were quickly put in our place by the rude photographer who said 'How many sets of footprints do you see?' 'That's how many people I want at a time.'. (There was one set of footprints. Not the best way to start, huh?)
We finished with the rude photographer and got to the room, which was ready! Very impressed with the quick turn around, we took a look at our standard balcony and then headed to the buffet. As for the room, plenty of storage space and a comfortable bed. The balcony overlooked Deck 5, instead of the water... very strange. This was different. We had a view of a hot tub and the chess game. Of course, we had the amazing view of the ocean, which I can't complain about :-). There is a strange light fixture in the middle of the mirror that makes the mirrow hard to use. We couldn't figure that one out. Very interesting, but not insulting, decor.
Prior to this cruise, I had read many reviews about the food and I had already decided that people were being too picky - That's not really the case. My husband, who is not a picky eater at all, compared it to his college days. My daughter said that she likes some of her school food better. I have to agree. This is possibly the most terrible buffet that I have ever had. We tried to stick to the Main Dining Room or the specialty areas - burgers were good, pizza was good, the sandwiches were great, liked the pasta bar. If you have time, try to go to the MDR for breakfast. It's much better than the buffet and doesn't take much longer. It's much more relaxing. We didn't get to do this as much as we wanted, but it was worth it the couple of times that we did. The Specialty Restaurant was well worth the $30 extra. The service wasn't great, but the food was wonderful!
A quick note about the mystery smell. We did smell it a couple of times. Never in our room. A couple of times outside the dining room and in lower hallways. Very weird. Some people also complained about the ship movement. There is a little more movement on the Dream than other ships that I've been on, but it wasn't that bad.
The theater was a great touch! I saw a review that stated how it was larger than the pool... lol... This is true. The pool is very small, but there is more deck space. We never made it in either of the 2 small pools. The comedy clubs were great! The comedians were amazing! We saw 2 of the family friendly shows and all of the adult shows. Fun Force and Dancing in the Streets was incredible and not to be missed! This was possibly the best show that I have seen on a cruise ship! Butch was also a highlight of the cruise. We enjoyed his energy and enthusiasm. If you get a chance to visit with him, do so. He was a great host!
Our daughter had a great time in the 12-14 year, Circle C Club. She chose to do many of the activities, including a teen trip into Cozumel to go snorkeling(I was hesitant until I spoke with the director). Some of the activities made it hard to all have dinner together. After we ate the first day, we decided that this trip wasn't going to be about the food anyway. She ate at the specialty areas a little more than we did for dinner.
Pay attention to your charges. These could have been honest mistakes (I would like to think so), but they got frustrating. I purchased a sundress in the shop on day one. Tried it on the next day and took it back. I was told that I was charged twice for it and was asked if I purchased 2. I was then only credited once. This took a while to straighted out. Next, I was in the spa and a charge that was not explained to me very well while I was there kept bothering me so I called the spa after I left. It was only for $12 more, but it didn't make sense. After a few minutes and then being placed on hold, I was apologized to without an explanation and credited that amount.
The last morning, as we were waiting for our group to be called to disembark, we went to the MDR for breakfast. This was very interesting. I went to order and decided to enjoy my last day of vacation and not worry about what I ate by ordering stewed bananas (my husband had gotten them last time and said they were great - similar to bananas foster flavor). I was told that they were out of bananas. I was disappointed and just said that I was hoping to try them. The waitress replied 'Well, you had 7 days to try them, huh?' She was right, but not very polite about it. It was probably the perfect way to end this cruise. ;)
While we enjoyed our vacation very much (vacation is vacation!) and feel very blessed to be able to go and take these trips, we were not WOWed the way we have been on other cruises. We were ready to go home when it was over. We stayed busy, had fun, were entertained and got to relax. We met wonderful people whom we hope to stay in contact with and had great experiences at the ports. Will we ever sail Carnival again? Most likely not. We have decided that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are more our style. I did get off the ship weighing less than when I got on. There's a bright side to everything! I'll briefly review the ports as we did plan ahead and greatly enjoyed every stop!