We were already in Florida for the Christmas holidays, so we drove to the Port on Saturday morning. We parked our vehicle at the Park 'N Cruise lot for $6.99 per day. This worked well for us and would do it again. We pulled in dropped our bags, loaded on the shuttle and to the pier all within half an hour tops. Pick up upon return was fast too..we were off the ship, and back at our vehicle by 7:45 am.
We are Platinum cruisers, so it was nice to be within the first group on the ship. We were aboard shortly after 11 am. This ship is huge. I know some complain about the decor, but I thought it was nice..alot of red and gold, but nice all the same. Being that it was Christmas Break, the ship was full and there were lots of families.
We had a cabin on the Main deck, inside, which was fine. We don't spend much time in our room.
This was a New Year's Eve cruise with a group of friends. Dinner was the elegant night menu..lobster, prime rib etc. Dress was casual as many people didn't have their luggage by the early dining seating. The ship was full, so you can imagine the pieces of luggage that had to be delivered. The party in the evening started about 9:30 pm and free champagne flowed later in the evening. The lido was packed with the big screen showing the New York City countdown. It was alot of fun.
Food: Everything we ate was good. Hot food was hot and cold food was cold. Meals in the dining room were very good. We had breakfast one morning in the dining room and it was good too. We found, as many others have, that trying to find a table at anytime in the Gathering to be difficult. Perhaps it had to do with the ship being full. It was hit and miss to get a table no matter what time of day.
Deck Chairs: Chair hogs were in full swing. By 7:30 am on sea days, all chairs by the pools were saved. Never did get a seat by a pool all week. Chairs on other decks could be had, but you had to be out by 10 am. What I really don't like are those who save chairs and don't use them. Also parents who save chairs for small kids and they never use them while people are looking for some place to sit.
Overall Service: Service and staff were all very good. I've cruised with Carnival 14 times, and service on this ship was no different than any other I've been on. No complaints.
Entertainment: Only went to one show..Dancing in the Streets. Probably the best show I've seen in 14 cruises. The two live groups that played in the lounge areas were good. More DJ's being used, but the music was great so no complaints. Beats a bad band any day.
Shore Excursions: We didn't book anything with the ship. Nassau we walked around for a couple of hours and back on the ship. Not our favourite stop. St. Thomas we took a taxi to Megan's Bay. Beautiful, but way too crowded. Once again, many families because of Christmas Break. St. Maartens went to Orient Beach for the day. Beautiful beach and our favourite. Not many families because of the chance of seeing naked people perhaps.
Platinum gift: The Platinum gift I received was the insulated cooler bag..very nice. Also received chocolate covered strawberries instead of the other fancy snacks. Loved the strawberries. Didn't use the free laundry perk this time. Pin given said Platinum, not Dream. Everyone used to receive pins, but no more. You want a pin that says Carnival Dream, you buy it for $4.99 in the gift shop. Only Platinum receive any kind of pins now.
There were three medical emergencies on this cruise. We were in St. Thomas 4 hours earlier than expected because of this. Our last sea day, there were two medical emergencies. One was airlifted by helicopter, the other by rescue boat off the coast of Nassau. When this happens, they clear the two decks on the right side of the ship..guess what, no place for anyone to sit. They cleared the decks at 11 am and kept themm closed until dinner time. Chair hogs didn't give up their chairs..lots of empty chairs with many towels. Staff wouldn't remove the towels either..my only complaint of this cruise..chair hogs..many of them.
Not sure if I would cruise this ship again. It's really big, too many people and tons of kids this time. I certainly wouldn't cruise over Christmas Break again. I know people have complained alot about the lines, food being bad etc. but I didn't find that a problem really. Chair hogs are on all ships, don't know what you can do about them. Overall it was a great cruise with no major complaints.