My husband and I have been cruising with Carnival since 2001 and this was our 12th Carnival Cruise. We've been big fans of Carnival since our first cruise so our disappointment with this latest cruise is a downer.
We booked the Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Dream with stops at Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. While we've done this itinerary before, our friends (a couple) that started cruising with us had not been to any of these ports before. We don't like Nassau, we feel there's no reason to get off the ship there but we like St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
We flew to Orlando the day before our cruise and stayed at the Radisson at the Port (Port Canaveral) on Friday, Oct 21st. My husband had hired a shuttle driver (Orlando Sun) before the trip and the driver was there when we arrived at baggage claim. We had a pleasant ride to Port Canaveral despite an accident that blocked the road and delayed us by about 25 minutes. The shuttle driver was very pleasant and she kept up conversation on the drive.
We arrived at the Radisson and our rooms were ready. The hotel has a resort feel with a large tropical pool area and bar. There's a restaurant inside the hotel (Flamingos) where we had a snack after arrival. The service was slow considering it wasn't busy and the food was just okay. It was a long walk to our building but that's what you get when you request a "quiet" area. There are multiple buildings in the complex, be warned that there are only a few elevators (not one per building) so you end up taking the elevator in a different building and then cross over to yours, all of the buildings are connected on the 2nd level. It wasn't a deal breaker for us. The bartender at the pool area was great.
The rooms had sleep number beds although I had to call the front desk to get help turning the control on. :)
Friends in Atlanta had told us about a restaurant next to the hotel, Kelsey's, so we went there for dinner. The restaurant was nice, felt warm & friendly, and the food was good (Italian).
On Saturday morning, my husband and I walked next door to the Subway for breakfast sandwiches (it's in the same building as Kelsey's) and had the best customer service we've ever experienced in a Subway.
We called a taxi service Friday afternoon and arranged for them to pick us up on Saturday morning. We don't like the hotel shuttles in general, they tend to be disorganized and crowded. The taxi was 10 minutes early and whisked us off to Port Canaveral.
We were very happy with the Carnival Port staff, they were friendly and helpful. We arrived around 10:30 am. My husband and I checked in at the VIP desk and then sat in the waiting area. A Carnival employee kept us entertained during the short wait and they started VIP boarding at 11 am. Our friends, who have not reached VIP status yet, were in Zone 6 for boarding and met up with us about 20 min later. By 11:29 I had procured my first Drink of the Day which is my official start to every cruise. :)
We had booked category 8E cabins and were on the Lido Deck (Deck 10), between the forward elevators and the entrance to the pool area. This location was convenient for access to Lido for food/activities and elevators but it was a little noisy for people passing through going to/from Lido. Also, the volume for musicians performing in the Dream atrium (Lobby deck) was very loud and we could hear from our cabin.
We had early seating in the Scarlet Dining room, lower level, table for 4 with our friends.
The DR food was not up to the usual Carnival standards. The steaks were not as good. Shrimp cocktail was only on the menu once during the entire week. There were several nights that there wasn't anything particularly appealing on the menu.
Our food service in the DR was slow the first two nights, it took over 30 minutes to get appetizers once we ordered and the coffee never arrived after dessert on night 2. My husband spoke to the Maitre'D on night 2 and service was better after that.
While the ship is bigger and fits more guests, they didn't expand public areas or elevator capacity accordingly, so elevators were a significant problem all week. We were unable to get seats in the Main Show Lounge for the early show until the next to last night of the cruise. Apparently you had to get to the lounge 45-60 min before the show to get seats. We were very unhappy about that.
Internet access, while slower than at home, seemed faster this time compared to other cruises, although as usual the Internet Manager had zero personality.
My favorite after dinner drink on the Promenade is a Mudslide and we had several good ones early in the cruise. One night I ordered a Mudslide but it didn't taste right, it tasted like they left something out of it so I told the cocktail waitress and she took it back to get it redone. When she brought it back out, it still didn't taste right and I told her that it seemed something got left out. Then she told me that the bar had run out of Kahlua so they made it with something else. I don't understand why they didn't tell us that after we ordered it and then sent it out wrong without telling us, until we said something. I asked if they were going to get more Kahlua before the end of the cruise (I thought she meant they ran out of it on the whole ship) and she said other bars might have it and we could go to the Casino bar and see if they did. There were several good ways that they could have handled it but making the drink wrong w/o telling us the situation and then telling us we could go somewhere else was not the appropriate service.
While on a cruise, my husband and I normally purchase a future cruise certificate. When we approached Richard at this desk on the Promenade the last night of the cruise, he didn't even look up from his laptop. I greeted him and he did not respond. I told him we were interested in a future cruise certificate. Without looking up from his laptop, he said, "Give me your S&S card and I'll take care of it." He didn't ask if we had questions and never made eye contact. My husband and I looked at each other and then walked away. I don't care if I'm on a cruise or shopping at Target, I hate it when clerks/cashiers etc. refuse to pay attention to me when I'm giving them money and it's very rude to not be greeted. My husband went to Guest Services to complain and they told him that the Future Cruise people don't answer to anyone. WRONG answer, everyone has a boss or someone they report to.
This was the first cruise we've been on where the crew in general seemed to have a "don't care" attitude. We're used to crew being friendly no matter where you go on the ship or what their duties are. Our cabin steward was okay but he didn't speak unless spoken to and never smiled, and he kept leaving dirty dishes in the cabin.
Things I really liked about the ship:
the Lanai, lots of seating areas throughout the ship, the Pasta Bar, the comedy club (although we only got in once), our balcony, the large number of "Fun Hub" (internet) areas throughout the ship, the outside walking/jogging track, the deli and the bartender at the AFT port bar.
Things I didn't like:
difficulty getting elevators, difficulty getting seating in the show lounge and comedy club, music was too loud in the Lido pool area and Lobby (for size of the area), unfriendly crew, lower quality food, trouble getting bar service in the Lido pool area (midship), and lack of communication (announcements) on debarkation day.