BACKGROUND INFO-This is my 5th cruise with Carnival and my 11th overall. I selected this sailing for three reasons. The first was I wanted to sail on Carnival's newest ship, the second was it was a birthday gift for me and the last was due to a water flood issue on the Triumph last year, Carnival offered a great discount rate on my next sailing. I was going to sail with a friend,but due to issues at home, she had to cancel and I end up alone.
TRAVEL TO PORT --I work for an airline and always travel at least one day prior to sailing. Instead of flying standby, I purchased a one way to the closest airport of Orlando. Got in late in the evening and rented a car one way from Orlando to Port Canaveral. This is easy 45 minute trip with one tollway of $1.50. The directions from the Orlando airport to the Port Canaveral area are very easy to follow.
HOTEL INFO --I stayed at Laquita Inn Cocoa Beach on North Atlantic. The hotel is a older budget hotel and is good for a one night stay. This location don't offer shuttle service to the boat. There are several others in the area that do.
EMBARKATION--I arrived at the port area around 10:30 a.m. The line wasn't long and it took about 20 minutes for me to check in. I was in zone 8. At 10:58 s.m. the wedding parties were allowed on board, then VIP. My zone was called at 11:14 a.m.
SHIP INFO --The Dream is one of the largest in the Carnival fleet. The ship while large, was easy to get around. There was waits at the elevators at times and larger crowds on the first day. The best deck on the ship (at least to me) was deck #5. You could walk around the ship on this deck. This deck also had plenty of lounge chairs and even on both sea days, never crowded. For those who state that you could never find lounge chairs never came to this deck. There are several jacuzzis on this deck that were never full and few children. There were also plenty of tables and chairs in shaded areas which quite a few people enjoyed to eat,talk, do puzzles, play cards,etc.
The shops were the typical Carnival shops on their ships. The pricing was in par with the other Carnival ships.
There are lounges all around the ship. Some are a nice size and others kind of small.
FELLOW CRUISERS -- You had a nice mixture of cruisers on board. There were several family reunions, groups of friends traveling, families, couples (both straight and gay),solos, grandparents traveling with grandkids,etc. According to Butch, our cruise director, there were over 4,000 people on board and about 600 children. About half of the cruisers were repeat cruisers
CABIN ---I booked an inside cabin with porthole windows. My cabin was 2212 on deck #2. What I like about the cabin was being at the end of the hallway it was very quiet. Unless you had a cabin in that area, very little traffic. The cabin has a twin bed and the sofa that can be turn into another twin bed. If you are a couple, the beds can't be place together. The portholes gives the room alot of light and you can close the covering to darken the cabin. While it's great for one person, can be tight for two. The storage is good. The safe is one where you use a four number code. The bathroom is a typical cruiseship bathroom.
The only fault in the cabin is if there are high waves hitting the ship, you will hear it. Three of the seven nights this was the case. You will also hear the ship positioning in and out of ports. If you are a light sleeper, might not be a good pick. But I enjoyed it. My cabin steward CC from Thailand was excellent. She always had a smile and kept the cabin spotless.
DINING --The ship offered several options for dining. You had the Lido, a deli, wok area, burger area, 24 hour pizza, Indian food and pasta bar on the 10th floor. Some of these areas like the Pasta bar, Indian food and wok area were open only for lunch. Alot of people don't know about the Pasta bar area until midway on the cruise. This is a great place to eat lunch on the first day to beat the crowds. The wok line was always long. Carnival need to expand this to have at least five cooks to cut the line time down.
I had fixed dining in the Scarlett on the late dining. Carnival seem to know how to place people together for a great table. The table had three other solo cruisers and four friends traveling together. Half of the table birthday was in September within a week of each other. Our dining staff started off a little slow and improved as the week went on.
This was the first cruise where the dining room food overall didn't just wow me. There were a few items here and there,but it was ok.
I ate in Chef Art's the steakhouse twice and the food there was excellent. The steaks were so good!! The service was also great.
ACTIVITIES --- There was always something going on the ship. You had alot to pick from.
SERVICE --- Out of a scale of 1 to 10, I give the service a 8. The cabin service, steakhouse and entertainment staff was excellent. The bar staff in a few of the lounge areas and bar were subpar. There was staff that ignored or overlook me to wait of groups and couples. This is was a cruise where I spent less on drinks because of the service. I guess that the staff thought one person, less tips.
EENTERTAINMENT --There was alot to do each day. If you wanted to see shows, dance, have a laugh, it was all offered. I really enjoyed the Fun Force, the couple in the atrium area, the Latin group and the Punchliner. I never went to the piano bar,but it was always packed. There was dancing in the club with times with the small kids and their parents, teens and adults. There was a country group that seem to have a nice crowd.
I only went to two shows and they were good. But I'm not a big show person. I know others who went to all of the shows and really enjoyed them.
CHILDREN'S CLUBS --- There were 600 children on board the ship. You saw them around the ship,but overall they stayed on the fourth floor in their area.
PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS ---I only booked one tour with Carnival and the remaining were with local tour guides suggested on this website.
COZUMEL -- I booked the Cozumel Bar Hop. This is a great tour,esp since you visit the east side of the island. We also lucked out with a turtle nest hatching at the first bar stop.
ROATAN --- I booked with Ronystours.com. Rony had Mr. Cameron as my driver. I did the freestyle tour primary just an island tour, shopping and lunch. I got a great overview of the island, great gifts (buy from the vendors at the pullouts,better pricing) and lunch at Rony's mother house.
Belize --- Used Island Marketing to visit Lamanai. While the tour guides and the boat ride to the ruins where excellent, the fact that they combine two ships with different times together made the tour a rush one.
COSTA MAYA --- I booked Maya Chan beach. Due to the rain the early morning, it was cloudy. There were alot a bugs and sea grass. The sun came out later in the day. Maya Chan was great. The service was excellent and the lunch was outstanding. The only fault is the time in the port is so short (7a.m. to 3 p.m.) Carnival need to extend it by at least two hours
I also did the Behind the Fun tour on the last sea day. Emma, our guide was excellent and if you want to know what goes on a cruiseship, take the tour!
DISEMBARKATION --- It took less than 30 minutes to swipe off the ship and catch the car rental shuttle. New Orleans need to come and learn from Port Canaveral on how to disembark.
Overall it was a good cruise. I don't consider it my best, but it was a relaxing time for me.