We booked a Western Caribbean cruise but with Rina still stirring up trouble and another system looking to possibly form, Carnival opted to change our itinerary to Eastern. We weren't thrilled with it since we had excursions already booked and love the ports offered on the Western trip, but all agreed that a day at sea will always beat a day at work. We were a group of 11, mostly experienced cruisers but with 3 first time cruisers. Ages were 76, 55, 55, 53, 40, 36, 34, 30, 11, 7 and 5. We booked 3 cove balcony rooms and one interior (1st time cruisers in that room). This was mine and my husband's 2nd time on the Dream, both times sailing in a cove room. I will never sail in another room if there is a cove balcony available...they are so private and close to the water...love it!!! Even with the itinerary change, it was amazing trip!!! I've broken down some of the key items below in an effort not to lose anyone :-)
Food: Yummy! When we sailed last year we thought it was the best food on any Carnival ship, and after a year, it's only gotten better! The menu has been changed/upgraded and it's great. Lots of choices, pleased everyone in the group...even our pickiest eaters! I love that they've expanded their Available Every Night menu (the gourmet burger was HUGE and so good!) and the Didja appetizer section is great. Someone at our table tried something from there every night...and almost always with a good review. Alligator fritters were great! The comfort food section offered some really yummy choices too! None of us ever had a bad meal. Not sure what the naysayers are ordering but maybe they need new tastebuds??? Or stop being so critical when the kitchen is trying to serve so many guests at one time.
Wait staff: Best I've ever had, and this was my 10th cruise! Enrico-waiter and I Made-asst waiter were AMAZING!!! Enrico made sure to ask every person at our table their name the first evening and by the second night, he had it down pat. In fact, he made a point of coming over to us during breakfast in the Gathering one morning and addressed us all by name. Absolutely great team!!! And I Made was headed back home for a 2 month break the day we disembarked...so happy for him!!! They both were wonderful with the kids too! Would love to have them both on our next trip.
Room Steward: We had an adjoining room with my parents, and like we always do, we booked one of our kids with them so we have some extra space. We actually had two different room stewards but both were such great guys! My father was shocked when he left his cabin and was addressed by his first name by someone he'd never seen before. Low and behold it was his room steward! Both of our stewards knew all of our names without us ever introducing ourselves. One time my husband was wandering down the hall in the opposite direction from our cabin, and our room steward was kind enough to point him in the right direction. So freaking funny!!! I've never had a room steward that learned our names so that was a nice surprise for us! They did a great job with keeping the room tidy for us. Never had to ask for anything...they were on top of it all!
Crew: super friendly! Not sure who some of the other guests are encountering, but we didn't meet one unfriendly crew member. All were pleasant and helpful. Some do just nod hello, but I think people forget that some of these crew members don't speak a lot of English, and are uncomfortable with engaging in conversation...especially when they don't understand what you're telling them. I know how I feel when I'm in a foreign country...I couldn't imagine being on a boat for months at a time feeling like that.
Now we did have a bit of excitement on this cruise. On Thursday night my husband wanted a deli sandwich around 11pm and was told that we couldn't go back there because they had a medical emergency. We sat out on the Lido deck for awhile and saw them wheel the stretcher from the main elevator area on Deck 11 over to the back pool area. We couldn't see who it was since they had them covered for privacy sake. We went down to our cabin and about 20 minutes later our CD came over the loudspeaker and informed us that we had a fallen crew member that needed to be medically evacuated immediately, and that if anyone had to be out on the decks to not take pictures since the flash could affect the pilots vision. We went out on our balcony and about 10 minutes later the US Coast Guard chopper went by. After 15 minutes or so we were advised that the evacuation was a success. We were told the next morning that the crew member was stable, which was excellent news! But that wasn't all...on Friday evening around 5ish our CD came back on the loudspeaker to let us all know that we had to make an unexpected stop in Nassau since one of the passengers fell ill and needed immediate assistance. We docked around 6, and were back out at sea by 6:45. It did delay us getting back to Port Canaveral by 90 minutes, but it was worth it if it helped save someone's life.
Honorable Mentions: Pasta Bar is a must, especially the lasagna! Get there right at 12 and its not really busy, but even if you don't, it's worth the wait! Mexican buffet, while really late is really yummy! Tiramsu martini is one of the best drinks I've ever had! Punchliners had some really funny adult comedy shows! Get Ready (I think that's the name) and Dancing in the Streets are awesome shows! Get there about 30 minutes early and you'll have a good seat. Walk in right at the start and you won't...it's simple people, it really is.
All in all an amazing trip with some amazing people! Can't wait to book our next cruise...in fact, got the future cruise certificates for the first time (finally learned!). I've written about our shore excursions at each port but also wanted to mention a Costa Maya excursion that is a MUST! Do yourself a favor and book the Maya Chan all inclusive beach resort. It runs about $50 a person (price drops the bigger group you have) and it's limited on space so it's an awesome time for those that can get on it. Book through their website and your excursion includes round trip transportation, all drinks including alcohol (and believe me, they're not chincy), wonderful food (fruit on arrival, chips and fresh salsa and guacamole, and fresh tacos with your choice of steak, chicken or fish). We went there on our trip in 2010 and were really looking forward to going back this year. That was our biggest disappointment, so its Western next year in hopes of getting back to the Maya Chan! Can't say enough great things about this place!!! It's a don't miss for sure! :-)