Oct. 7 Left home for a relaxing vacation on the Carnival Dream. We drove to Port Canaveral with the Radisson at Port Canaveral as our destination. We arrived as the torrential rains began. We had purchased the Park and Sail package in advance. Rooms were adequate for an overnight stay prior to our cruise.
Oct. 8 We were assigned a 12 noon shuttle departure for the next morning and told to be in the main lobby at 11:45. We we arrived in the lobby, it was total chaos! Hundreds of people and 1000's of bags filled the lobby and the front portico. I asked the hotel clerk at check-out how I would hear our name being called and she told me that I would be able to hear but of course the 1 person who was attempting to get everyone on the shuttles was outside calling names, and noone in the lobby was remotely able to hear him. Again they had only 1 person attempting to get everyone on the three or four shuttle buses. Of course, the staff blamed the weather for the chaos...they also claimed that the draw bridge had malfunctioned, which we later learned was a total lie...according to the taxi drivers and shuttle drivers. We finally were loaded onto a shuttle to the port at 1:45. I realize that weather played a part, but the staff also used the excuse that there were 3 cruise ships in port which made it obvious that they can only handle 1 cruise ship at a time. They were totally unorganized, and only had 3 shuttle buses making the round trips to the ports. Many people gave up and called taxi's to take them to the port. More later about the return trip...just as chaotic! The package cost $133 plus taxes...total $155...NOT WORTH the HASSLE...fellow passenger staying at the Country Inn and Suites, and other area hotels had none of the same issues...and the weather was the same!
Embarkation: After getting to the port, getting on the ship was a breeze...the port staff was very efficient. Since we arrive so late, our cabins were cleaned and ready for us. Our luggage arrived very soon after leaving port. Muster drill was so easy, no standing in rows and rows on the deck. We simply went to the Encor Theater for the safety demonstration! The sail out was quite interesting as we experiences 16ft swells and 65+ winds...even with the Dream's size the ship did alot of pitching and rolling. Many stayed in their cabins sick. Thankfully, I wasn't bothered by the rough seas, and enjoyed a nice dinner in a sparsely attended late seating dinner.
Oct. 9 Arrived in to Nassau to beautiful weather and had a nice day visiting the straw market and Atlantis.
Oct. 10 Sea Day 1...Fantastic weather. Plenty of sunshine and deck space for all
Oct. 11 St. Thomas U.S.V.I. Continued beautiful weather and had a fun day shopping. We loved the port and hope to return sooner rather than later.
Oct. 12 St. Maarten...Booked a tour with Benard Tours. The cost was $40 per person. I checked my e-mails and was confident that we were to meet the tour at 9:30am...we were given the wrong time by the company that handled the booking, but Bernard and John jump into action and loaded us into a van and took us to meet the tour already in progress. Super nice people!!! Gizmo was our driver for the day and he was very knowledgeable about the island, both Dutch and French side. He took us to Orient Beach...there was alot to see there...actually more than most people want to see! Part of the beach is a clothing optional beach. We arrived at Maho Beach in time to see 3 large aircraft land...awesome experience...then it was on to a little power shopping before being returned to the port. The entire tour was about 6 hours long, and the bus was supplied with Rum Punch, Beer, Sodas and Bottled water. Everyone really seemed to be having a great time!
Oct 13 and 14 Sea Days...again awesome weather and plenty of deck space to enjoy the sun!
Debarkation: We did zone debarkation...and we were off the ship by 9:40. We arrived at the pick-up point for the Radisson. There were 50 or 60 people waiting with luggage, some had been waiting for almost an hour. We left and within 15 min. was in a taxi back to the Radisson. Again the 1 attendant at the port was telling passengers that "he was trying to get someone over here to pick everyone up". FYI...the weather was sunny and beautiful. When we arrived at the Radisson, there was much of the same mass confusion in the lobby area as more victims awaited departure to the port. Not sure what their excuse was on that day either. On a positive note, I spoke to a clerk and told them what happened at the port, she gave me the $20 that I spent on the taxi. Again...don't put yourself and family through the hassle that the Radisson puts its customers through...there are better ways to start and end your vacation!
Food: No complaints whatsoever! I've been on 6 cruise previous to this one and never tried the specialty steak house. We did it this time...It was Fantastic!! Very much worth the $30 per person! The pasta bar was very good...I wasn't crazy about the Lasagna though. The Buffet seemed a bit limited in its selection, but we only ate in there a couple of times. Breakfast buffet didn't offer pancakes everyday either...bummer... and yes, the bacon police was in full force. Also, grits and oatmeal were served by the staff...we found it 2 days into the cruise. One complaint...on sea days the users of the Serenity deck are force to leave their personal belonging to fetch food at the rear of the ship...one must traverse elevators, steps and the crowds to get food and take it back to the Serenity decks. I don't know why there is no grill or small buffet area in the Serenity area...frustrating!
Entertainment: Slots were stingy...Cruise director Butch...Great. For me, the shows left alot to be desired...wife enjoyed them. The shows to me didn't make much sense..the songs didn't fit with the choreography...just confusing...singers generally ok...but some of the music was totally out of their range. Went to one comedy show...it was good.
Overall...Great Trip...we loved the Dream and would definitely sail her and Carnival again!