This was our first cruise out of Port Canaveral. We have only gone out of Mobile, and had heard all the nightmare stories. We thought Mobile was a breeze - until now!! Wow - when you have something to compare it to - Mobile is not so great. However, it really is not the nightmare people have made it out to be. Port Canaveral is great and smooth. We flew into Orlando later in the evening and had arranged with the Radisson for a taxi to pick us up and take us to the hotel. Our friends from NM met us at the Radisson (we live in Florida). I was not impressed with the Radisson. Our room was not that clean and the desk staff was a little snarky (maybe a long day).
Saturday morning we got up and made our way down to the lobby. I had called the week before and set up our confirmation on the park n ride to the cruise terminal. Our friends got our time when they checked in. It was controlled mayhem in the lobby with all of the cruisers. Obviously the Radisson does this each week - so they called our name and away we went. We checked our bags and made our way through security, etc. We were on the ship before noon. Yes, it was a breeze.
After reading all the suggestions and reviews, we made our way to the pasta bar. I was the only one in our group that went for the pasta, everybody else went and made their own burritos. I loved the pasta - and everybody loved their burritos. We had quite a lot of time to kill before our room was ready so we had a drink and explored the ship. Wow - it was HUGE!!! One thing, it's not as "open" or as easy to get around like I would have thought.
Our rooms were open right at 1:30. We had booked an aft balcony and our friends were two doors down in the aft wrap aroud balcony. Both rooms we were surprised. Nice and roomy. One thing - the closet space was a little lacking - in the Elation we were pleasantly surprised in the oceanview cabins closet space. Our luggage hadn't arrived - and since I was in charge of our roll call's slot pull - I went up to the casino to speak with the slot manager. She was really sweet - but let me tell you - Carnival is way tight. I told them we had a group of about 40 coming for a slot pull - could they spring for a cheap glass of champagne - nope. No free drinks - no appetizers - nothing. The minimum cost for me to supply the champagne would have been $75 - $100 based on how many people. I should have sucked it up - but I thought it was a travesty that they couldn't do that very small nicety to our group.
When I got back to the room, our luggage was there. I unpacked, decorated our door - which got me the coveted ship on a stick prize and a segment on the morning show - highlighting the winning door. :) It was a proud moment. haha
The four of us had dinner reservations for the steakhouse. We were promised a free bottle of wine - we all got one glass. It didn't really matter since we aren't big drinkers - but there were two couples at another table wanting a bottle for each couple. The steaks were impressive. I ordered the lobster and was way disappointed. It was three small langostino tails that you get as an add on at Red Lobster or The Outback. They weren't cooked thoroughly - and I was bummed. I thought I was going to get a big 10 0z lobster tail that was shown on the tray - nope - three small freshwater tails. Don't go for the lobster. Stay with steak - and you'll be impressed.
After, we did Bingo and the Welcome Aboard Show. Went to bed. Woke up middle of the night with big headache and nausea. Usually I take dramamine when I get on the ship at lunch and never have had a problem. I didn't do that this time. Since we were aft, you could feel every wave. I spent our whole first day at sea - sick - sick - sick. My hubby went and got ship's medicine since dramamine did nothing. Our friends are nurses and they had some stuff as well. About dinner time, I was better - and made sure I kept up on the meds for the rest of the trip.
Cozumel - we did our own thing. Our friends were dolphin trainers and were treated like royalty. They loved it.
Belize - I've heard that most people just stay on the ship. We booked and excursion through Carnival since we heard about it being unsafe. We did the Belize City Tour and Alta Hyuna ruins. It was good. Just a little rushed. Our guides were very informative. I would give the tour an 8 out of 10 rating. The beans and rice are truly worth having - I couldn't shovel it in fast enough.
Roatan - WE booked a private tour through Victor Bodden. Hands down - the best thing we have ever done. Homer was our personal tour guide for the day - and he was awesome. Victor Bodden is the best bar none. A few days before he sent us a guide of things we could do with our private tour - one thing suggested was visiting a school or orphanage for a "work and witness" type project. Being a pastor - I jumped on that. My husband and I were sitting on tons of school supplies (we did a school supply drive for our area - and had tons left over). I packed all the school supplies in two suitcases, some puppets, and some magic tricks. We went to a school on the East side of the island - they get very little funding. These kids were awesome. Thankfully, Homer could help me with my Spanish (very shoddy - but could understand every word). I did magic tricks for the children. We found out they need lots of money and supplies. We have made this our little project. When it rains - they can't always go to school since some of the rooms have no walls and have mud floors. After being at the school for the morning - we wanted to snorkel. Homer took us to Victor Bodden's we paid our $40 for our private tour - and then away we went. My hubby had never snorkeled - Homer knew the place. For only $10 - we snorkeled along the reef - and it was great. The owner taught my hubby tons of neat snorkeling things - and we took some great underwater pics. They were so nice and friendly. We each got a massage from Sonia & her sister Enel at the snorkeling place - for only $20 for 1/2 an hour. It was the best massage ever (and I'm a massage whore - I can't think of a better word). We had lunch at that same place. I recommend Victor Bodden tours hands down and specifically Homer. After we were done with that - we took a drive all around the island stopping at various places. Then back to the ship.
Costa Maya - we did a carnival excursion - the ATV/Beach break. We did this with our friends. It was a good time. If you do ATV then this is rather boring. I grew up on ATV's so I wanted to let loose. You can't do that. If you are a beginner or don't have access to ATVs - then you will like this. The terrain is treacherous at times (especially since it rained the night before) - but nothing dangerous. We returned to the "camp" and were treated to salsa and chips and could relax by the beach for a while. We did a little shopping and back to the ship.
We loved the Serenity Deck- and took some time up there and in the hot tub. This was the first trip I didn't do anything in the spa - so can't tell you about that. We did one more night at the steak house - and I stuck to steak and loved it. They were still serving the whimpy lobster. We had anytime dining - and I would recommend that. We waited only one night because we requested a specific server.
Our rooms were always cleaned. Our room steward as luck would have it - was the same guy RJ we had on the Elation a few months before. How did that happen? We all laughed about it - and he was just awesome again. And - the guy singer for the shows - Jason - was also on the Elation when we had been on there for our first cruise. We went to the comedy shows - very good. Saw all of the shows except for 8 seconds. They were all awesome. I was impressed. Although, I find it rather funny that a Guns and Roses song is now part of a stage show for a cruise line. Just ironic that the rebellious "rock n roll" is being used to entertain people on a cruise ship. It was rather hilarious to see elderly people clapping along to Axl Rose. hehehehehe
The mystery smell - yes we smelled it. My husband called it the odor of money. It's his livelihood - to make money off of waste. He is in wastewater and water treatment plants- and knew immediately it was wastewater. He said the reason the smell is there is because they need a stronger pumping mechanism and that it's at a low point where waste is gathering and the pump isn't strong enough to move it fast enough. So there you have the reason for the mystery smell. hehehe
I missed our roll call cabin crawl due to sea sickness. The ending cabin was our friend's cabin - so I had champagne, wine, and magnets I made at their cabin so everyone could enjoy. We did our slot pull and put in $10 and came out with $6.50 each.
There's the good and bad. Now the UGLY- can they get the slots any tighter. Wow. I couldn't believe it. A lot of people were talking about how tight the machines were on the Dream. We aren't big gamblers - but man - we couldn't cut any sort of break to even keep playing. Even our slot pull - our biggest win was $30. That's it. And we had 38 people participate. It was ridiculous.
Also, the hot tubs close way too early. The worst was the laundry facilities. On a ship that big - only 3 places to do laundry - and half the machines were out of order. Plus they close the laundry room at 11. Why?? I can't figure that out.
We had a great time - and loved our trip. One thing worth mentioning - Carnival changed their dining menu - I thought the previous menu was much better. I like having shrimp cocktail on the menu. :)