We were on the Carnival Dream - and the Dream is wonderful. I had read so many reviews about the Dream - some made me worry and others made me excited. So here's a review from a first time cruiser.
Embarkation at Port Canaveral was very impressive. We were on the ship in less than 30 minutes of our arrival. We found our friends that were cruising with us...found a table at the "Gathering" (buffet lines) and was enjoying a Bahama mamma within the first hour!! and a delicious lunch as well. We were able to go to our cabins about 1:30. Unpacked and hit the Lido deck to begin our fun filled week.
Our cruise director was Butch and his assistant was Amy. They were very personable. No matter where you saw them they were always smiling and had a cheery hello for you.
Our cruise was spectacular! I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the Dream. We had a balcony cabin and I must say I really don't think I could cruise without one. The balcony made it possible to feel the wind and smell the ocean air anytime we wanted...even in the middle of the night! A lot of the reviews talk about a "sewage" smell on the Dream..I never did smell anything even close to that.
Our cabin steward was amazing. We met her the first day on the ship and I don't think I saw her again. We brought cokes and water with us and Listerina (our cabin steward) suggested she empty the refrigerator out for us to put our water and cokes in. On our next cruise, we will NOT bring cokes and water with us. It was a hassle having to roll the suitcases with us the first day and they were heavy...AND we hardly even drank any of them. Going back to our cabin steward...I don't know how she knew when we left our cabin - but when we came back everything was neat and clean. Always ice in the bucket, and clean towels and wash cloths. And there was a different towel animal sitting there waiting for us each night. The bed covers were turned down for us, the bedside lamp was on, and our chocolates were on top of the ships activity schedule for the next day. The bed was comfortable...the sheets were very soft and smelled good...our cabin was just so perfect.....
To me the food was excellent!! Although, I always think if I don't have to cook it and clean up afterwards, then it's a good meal! ? I enjoyed the buffet as well as the dining room. We ate in the Crimson dining room at the late seating, 8:15 p.m. Actually the time was perfect. We didn't have to hurry in on the port days. We could take our time, take a shower, rest for about an hour or more and sit on the balcony...we were not rushed at all. So we had our evening meal in the dining room every night. Our waiter was Nelson and he was fantastic. GREAT sense of humor - yet very professional. His assistant's name was Edy and he was terrific too!!
Now for breakfast we tried both the dining room and the buffet lines. Believe it or not, I preferred the buffet lines. I actually thought the food was better there. Also, if you ended up not liking something, it was so easy to go get something else. On port days, we'd eat early, go to the islands, come back on the ship about 4 or so, grab a sandwich and a drink...go back to our balcony cabin and just relax until dinner at 8:15. On sea days we'd sleep in a little...eat breakfast around 10, grab a light meal around 2:30 or so and then dinner at 8:15. Gosh...I miss it already!!!!
We went to the late show each night. There were some great shows and then there were some really good ones. I liked them all. The show on the last night was so cute. Even Butch and Amy got in the "acting"!! I enjoyed so many of the daytime activities as well: animal towel folding class..we had a lot of laughs during this one but it was fun...and very well attended so get there early to get a good place to be able to open up your towel!! The break dancers were amazing...those guys have to be amazingly strong! The "Love Show" was so entertaining, the ice carving demonstration was unbelievable - in less than 20 minutes a huge block of ice became an Indian Chief with all of his head feathers - the ice carver was fantastic.
St. Thomas was my most favorite port of all. I'm from the east coast, right on the Atlantic ocean in Georgia and love being near the water...but if I could live someplace where the water was as crystal clear as St. Thomas I would feel like I was in heaven. Sapphire beach stole my heart!!! I could have stayed in the water all day!! Also, we had booked our tour with Sunny Liston Tours and I am so glad we did. It was upbeat, fun, and very informative. Sunny, thanks for a great time in St. Thomas!!
Our least favorite port was Nassau, Bahamas. If we do the Eastern Caribbean again, we will stay on the ship and enjoy more of what Carnival has to offer. I guess if you swim with the dolphins or snorkel it would be ok..but those are things we don't enjoy doing. In fact if you don't pay the $139 per person day fee to Atlantis, there is really no way to get to that part of the beach. You cannot walk through Atlantis at all anymore. There are security guards posted at every entrance. We were only in Nassau for 5 hours...not worth the $139 per person.
St. Maarten was beautiful as well, but they had quite a bit of seaweed. We did go to the area where the airplanes come in and take off about 20 feet over your head. That was exciting to say the least!! We booked our tour with Bernard and had a very informative tour with him. I would definitely recommend him. We got to hold a sea urchin, a sand biscuit, and we fed some iguanas.
Now about packing. I must have read all of the threads on "what to pack for your cruise"...and I'm here to tell you I didn't need hardly any of it. I had a suitcase full of "just in case" items..and didn't need any of them. If it's summer time when you cruise, I would suggest you pack at least 2 sets of clothes for each day. Shorts, tank tops, capris, t-shirts...since it was so hot...being able to change when we got back from port or changing sometime during the day on sea days was good due to sweating. For the first elegant night, yes, bring something elegant...you won't feel out of place. Long dresses, sparkly dresses, suits for the men...it is a special evening. Now the second elegant night, not as many people dressed as dressy as the first night. It was still dressier than normal...but I didn't see as many long dresses or sparkly dresses. The men were in suits though.
We love to gamble and have been to Vegas several times...so consider yourself forewarned...the slots are tight, tight, tight. Don't expect to win anything...not even enough to keep you playing. :-(
Now about attitudes...put a smile on your face and enjoy the people. If you have to laugh...laugh...but don't get flustered at the long lines at the buffet, or at the miniature golf ...just remember there are several thousand people on there with you. Take a minute to look at the ocean while you wait...or strike up a conversation with the people in front of you or in back of you...it makes the time go faster and it's so much fun to find out where others come from...what they think of the cruise...etc.
So from this first time cruiser...to another first time cruiser...enjoy!!! We sure did and we'll definitely be going again!!! Bon voyage!!!