We sailed B2B on the Carnival Dream December 3-17, 2011. I have posted videos of the ship so that those that have not sailed on her could get a feel for what she has to offer and what a great ship she is. I tried to provide enough footage of each area so that the viewer could have time to really view each one. This may be a little boring for some but I would have appreciated this approach when I was searching the web for video. I have kept each video 3-4 minutes long and they are labeled by area so you can pick and choose.
The Dream truly is a great ship. Lots of amenities, well laid out, and easy to navigate. We had my 86-year-old Mother and my brother's 89-year-old Mother-in-law with us, and they we're able to find their way around pretty well after the first day. That says a lot for the layout I think.
This was our 29th and 30th cruises. We have sailed on Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity. I am of the belief that a cruise is what you make of it. We have had some things we didn't like as well on one ship as we did on another, but over all we have had 30 wonderful cruises! Cruising is a great vacation and a great value (if you stay out of the casino)!!!!
The Dream is very large and has a lot of people, but it provided one of the smoothest embarkation and debarkation experiences we have had. We rented a car and arrived in Coco Beach the afternoon before departure. This just makes for a much more enjoyable 1st day of cruising with much less stress. My wife and I dropped everyone off with all the luggage at the cruise terminal and then returned the car around 11:30 on Saturday. A quick ride back to the ship on Dollar's free shuttle, walked right in to the check in counter (use the center doors as everyone went to the doors on one end or the other), and was on board the ship in less then 15 minutes. This was around noon.
The halls to the cabins are shut off until 1:30, so take as little carry on as possible as you will have to navigate a very crowded lido deck buffet area until 1:30. If you go up to the Pasta Bar area which is one deck up, you will find more room, less crowds, and the made to order pasta is very good. You can still bring food up from the Gathering and sandwich areas as well.
If you are B2B, and do not want to go into town on your turn around day, you still will not be allowed back into your room. This was a slight annoyance at first, but we just found a good place early, ordered some drinks, played cards, and watch people. It was quite entertaining.
The cabins on the ship are nice and the beds very comfortable. There are extra pillows in a bag in your closet if you need more then 2 each. We didn't realize this until day 13! Oh well. We choose inside cabins for the 2nd time on a cruise. We had always gotten balconies or mini suites before, but we are able to cruise 2 weeks for about the price of one by choosing an inside cabin. It has also forced us to utilize the deck and bar areas more, which has been quite delightful really. Everyone has their own opinion, but I'll take 2 weeks of cruising over 1 week every time (except Alaska where a balcony is a must).
The ship was one of the cleanest I have been on. I saw more people cleaning constantly then on any other ship that I can recall. The food areas were clean as well, however the Gathering Buffet staff were the slowest I have seen. Normally the tables on the ships we have sailed were cleaned quickly and without having to ask someone to do their job. This was not the case on the Dream and is one of the few areas that need drastic improvement. The buffet area (nearly Â½ of the ship) gets very crowded. We were always able to find a table eventually, but you may have to walk around for 5 minutes or so before landing one. Faster turn around on the wait staff's part would help this tremendously.
The specialty food areas were very good, but the wait at the Mongolian Grill especially was always long and in my opinion, not worth the wait. Sandwiches were very good, as were the burgers and pizza. The main buffet was good, but could use a better variety and a better layout for the food. At breakfast for example, the syrup was place way before the pancakes or French toast, so you had to try and cut back in line just to put syrup on you cakes. Made no sense to me.
The main dining areas were very nice and our service was excellent. We had wanted anytime dining but had to take 2nd seating. On Princess, we were able to bounce between anytime dining and our assigned seating, but that was not allowed on the Dream. It ended up being ok for us since we had the older ladies. That way they always knew when and where we were going to eat.
The Encore Theater is very, very nice and we enjoyed the shows we saw there (even the comedic juggle was surprisingly very good and funny). The show about the Big City Streets (I can't remember the name) was the best show at sea we have ever seen; unbelievable energy, non stop action, and many varieties of dance. Do not miss this show.
The comedy club was excellent. Of course some comedians were better than others, but all were very good and are rotated on and off the ship in the middle of the cruise. Don't sit on the front row and heckle or you will receive unmerciful punishment, but it was funny! The casino guitar player/singer was the worst I have seen on a ship, but all the other entertainers were very good and we enjoyed listening to all of them.
The lido deck entertainment was good and I am a big fan of having the outdoor movie theater. Carnival does not do as good of a job with their programming and scheduling as Princess' MUTS. They could learn from them in this area. On the Sunday night football that they showed on the outdoor screen is a prime example. During the last half of the last quarter of a very close game, Carnival switched to the movie and left all the football fans scrambling for the bars and their rooms to try and catch the end of the game. That made no sense and upset quite a few people.
The fore and aft pools were very nice and the hot tubs, while plentiful, were something too cool to be called a "HOT TUB". Their positions around the ship are great though. Some are on the sides by the railing so that you can look out over the ocean. Some are by the pools as on other ships. Some are located on the promenade deck and some on the Serenity deck as well. Very nice.
The Serenity adults only area is great and is free (unlike Princess). We were able to find seats on most days and they have quite the variety of seating configurations. This is a quite area to play cards, read, sun bath, and just relax if you are tired of the hustle and bustle by the pool.
The water park area, including slides for all ages are great for the family. The kids loved this area as did some of the adults. The 2 large waterslides are just that, LARGE and pretty fast. There was never too long of a wait to use them but you have to climb a lot of stairs to reach the big slides. Everyone should go down them at least once. It helps keep you young.
The atrium is magnificent. It truly makes for a spectacular ambiance on the Dream. There is live music most of the time as well as some extraordinary street dancers. Besides the seating on the lowest floor, there is seating on other floors as well that looks down on the main floor so that more people can enjoy the music and shows. A nice touch.
The casino is quite large and they have a variety of slots, lots of table game, 2 poker pro tables, and a limited number of video poker machines at terrible odds. The casino is the nicest we have experienced on any ship but is FREEZING COLD at all times. I like it cold, but even I was uncomfortable and our suggestions to the casino management to turn up the temp fell on deaf ears. It cost them money as some people just would not play under the circumstances.
The first week we were on board was Carnival's Poker Pro Challenge Championship. This was an excellent event with over 300 players participating in the week long event and cash games. They had 10 additional table set up in a conference room to handle the crowd and the casino was full that entire week. The next week was like night and day as the casino was never crowded that second week. One dealer told me he made 3 times the amount in tips as he usual did during the poker event week.
The price of drinks have gone up on the ship as the cost of the cruise has gone down. Oh well, trade offs are necessary. We bought a soft drink package the first week as we have done in the past, but they had raised the price to $70 and it was not a good deal. We saved money the second week by forgoing the drink card.
For debarkation, we chose the $20 onboard luggage and gate check-in from the ship. We had our boarding passes delivered to our stateroom and did not have to bother with the bags until we got back home in Indy. This allowed us to walk off the ship at our leisure. Again we rented a car from Dollar (less expensive then airport shuttle), drove to Orlando, had lunch, shopped a little, and then went to the airport.
Overall this is a great ship and the cruise was a wonderful experience. I would definitely sail on the Dream again. I hope the videos are helpful to those who want to get a feel for the ship.