Carnival Dream November 5th to 12th, 2011
This was my fifth cruise, fourth on Carnival.
First let me say with the financial situation of the last several years I understand that economies of scale are required and over all the Carnival cruises are an excellent product for its price.
I had already booked a cruise with a local travel club for myself and friend for February 5th to 11th, 2012 on the Carnival Freedom prior to this trip. A few people to whom I mentioned this told me they felt the Freedom design (lay out) worked better than the Dream for such a large group of passengers. I will see....
For their first cruise I recommended to my daughter-in-law's parents a 5 day Carnival Ecstasy cruise to the Bahamas on December 5th, 2011 and they enjoyed it.
We have neighbors who are taking the Carnival Legend from Tampa in January and asked us for our experience and suggestions. I told them we had a great time and gave them some cruise tips we have discovered for ourselves over time.
Finally this was my husband's fourth Carnival cruise and he so strongly disliked it due to the long lines and poor design. He has asked me to book with another cruise line for our next cruise together.
It was lovely to see so many young children, babies and toddlers on board; we have never experienced any problem with children on a Carnival cruise. Parents have reported to me that they find it very child friendly.
I was happy to see several adults, teens and children with developmental disabilities on board; they reported excellent experiences and accommodations.
The High Tea during sea days: The ambience was poor; it took place in the Dining Room, not a Lounge as on other ships. There was neither piano nor any other live music. On three previous Carnival cruises when there is a full day at sea, the High Tea is held in a lounge with a piano, cloth covered coffee and side tables with the rolling tea carts. At very least if must be held in a dining room have a piano and pianist playing classical music as on the Royal Caribbean. As a person with diabetes they had a good range of options, several of my companions reported delicious pastries, and I had the smoked salmon and strawberries. This is a lovely informal opportunity to meet fellow cruisers.
Lido Deck Buffet: As a diabetic there is never any sugar-free Jell-O or custard type dessert; only cakes which of course are too high in carbohydrates for a diabetic, sugar or not. However there is sugar-free ice cream at dinner and although again the cakes and pies have too many carbohydrates, they did have a tasty sugar-free cheese cake one night. I have never seen lines like this on any previous cruise at any time. The Lido Deck Buffet did not appear one iota bigger than ships with far less passengers.
Design relative to a large passenger capacity: It appeared that the ship was enlarged to contain more cabins however the public areas were not increased proportionately. Everywhere on board there were long lines. At dinner although the wait staff were excellent, the food took much longer to come out of the kitchen. We were finished our dinner and dessert and the other side of our dining room (friends over there) were only being served their entree! Many times during the cruise whether on the Lido deck, at Tea, chatting to others on the decks, veteran cruisers complained about never seeing such long lines before and the poor design of the public areas. I'm sure some people thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this cruise.
Breakfast was very hit or miss each day. On our second morning our breakfast was worst meal of my five cruises! We arrived at 8:30am and waited until 8:45 to be seated in the upper level. We were not approached for our choice of coffee, juice, etc. until 9am. We ordered and did not even get coffee until 9:15. At 9:30 we got part of our breakfast order. Also I was told the Norlander bread on the menu was only on special order. I told them I had it the day before for breakfast that it was listed on the regular menu as low carbohydrate bread. After three rounds back and forth with the asst. waiter, waiter, and head waiter to no avail, my husband said, "Get up, we are leaving". It was 9:40 he had never gotten his juice or cereal only his eggs and I had not gotten my bread. That evening at our dinner table the couple who shared the table with us told us that the husband had ordered the same bread off the menu both mornings. When we were leaving the asst. maitre d approached us out of the blue and said the bread would be available for me the next morning. However my husband refused to go to the dining room the next day. That evening she approached me and I told her my husband had refused to go he was so upset and I would try again the next morning. The following morning we refused to sit upstairs and were seated on the main floor. The waiter returned to me after our order to say the Norlander bread was a special request and we needed a special slip to obtain it. I replied that I didn't know why it was on the menu if it was a special request and that the matre d had said it was alright. At that he went back to the kitchen and gave me the bread. At dinner that evening our table mates said they had ordered this bread off the menu again that morning. Yikes!
Entertainment: Our primary enjoyment in the evenings for my husband and is the live bands we both enjoy Jazz, Rock, Folk, Country, Latin Jazz, Big Band and Classical music very much. We have found the live bands excellent although we have noticed there is less offered over time on the cruises and assume this is due to the economies mentioned above. We enjoy both dancing and listening to the bands in the evenings. We have no interest in the disco. As for stage shows we come from a big city so are used to big productions and since the first night of our first cruise we do not attend the stage shows. As for comedy shows we found the comedians even the early act really stupid on two previous tries on earlier cruises so do not attend them either.
Our cabin stewards and dining room dinner staff were excellent. Staff on the Lido deck appeared exhausted (other cruisers also commented on this independently) although 99.8% had excellent attitudes.
Activities were very skimpy for so many people on board this ship.
Arts and Crafts: I enjoy the Arts and Crafts sessions held when there are two consecutive days at sea. On the Miracle to the Southern Caribbean I thoroughly enjoyed the four sessions. one on each of the two consecutive days at sea. I was looking forward to the same on this cruise. I couldn't have been more mistaken. When our first day in Nassau was canceled due to weather we had two days at sea, there was no arts & crafts; there should be contingency plans for such a situation. On the two last days at sea I arrived at the appointed location and looking around saw nothing and no one in charge. I asked the first Carnival crew I could find where the arts and crafts leader was. She pointed a Carnival staff person sitting on a nearby couch. I asked her where the Arts & Crafts instructor was and what was the project. She pointed to the piano bar and said, "Oh, there are just those things on the piano bar. This is usually called scrapbooking." People were arriving, looking at this and leaving shaking their heads. I said, "I'm not complaining to you personally but this is ridiculous. On the piano were stacks of plain white printer paper sheets on which were Xerox copied shapes of circles, squares, rectangles, diamonds, stacks of colored construction paper, scissors, glue, and bottles of glitter. "It is insulting to present this to passengers; my four year old grandson has better projects in preschool. Please tell you supervisor not to put anything like this on the schedule again as Arts & Crafts or even Scrapbooking."
Port Canaveral Carnival Cruise Terminal: Was much too small for such a large passenger ship. The aisles between the rows of seats were so narrow that we had to stand to allow anyone with luggage, with a stroller or wheelchair to pass by. The ship had returned late due to a passenger's illness and unexpected stop in the Bahamas. However I had been on a Royal Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral earlier in the year and a ship with less than half the people had the same size terminal and seating. Therefore the lack of enough seating despite the cramming of people into these narrows and the rows of people standing the length of the terminal was more due to the improper sized terminal than the late arrival of the ship. And did we have to listen for two hours to the incessant obnoxious "Fun" banter like we were a ship of fools!
In final report I will say I have thoroughly enjoyed my previous Carnival cruises and would cruise on Carnival again just not on this ship which was not a Dream for us.