First time Cuisers with a 3 year old: Carnival Dream Cruise Review by Pregnant cruiser
Overall Member Rating
First time Cuisers with a 3 year old
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
Bring a power strip if you need more then one outlet.
Other reviews posted that the hairdryer had minimal power. I brought my own but the one in the cabin would have been suitable.
No clock in the cabin. We brought one.
We brought a bungee cord as others had suggested to keep our patio door open. It worked great.
If you need the balcony partition open to share balcony space with the person next door. All you have to do is ask your steward.
Bring you own thermal mugs if you plan to "sneak" in your own alcohol. We used rum runners (Google, rum runners to see what they are and for purchase) and they were not confiscated.
Order alcohol at least 2 weeks prior from Bon Voyage (On-line store through Carnival. When you arrive it will be waiting for you in your cabin.
Bring re-useable sandwich bags to take food for your day trips, especially if you have little ones.
We used Cocoa Beach Shuttle Transportation from a hotel in Orlando to the port More and were very disappointed. They did not provide a car seat as requested and we had to pick up another party at another hotel when they advertised "private shuttle". They told us it would take 1hr-1hr15mins from our hotel to our ship and it ended up taking 2hrs and 30 mins since we had to drop off the other party at their ship as well.
Embarkation- Smooth and very organized. Took approximately 30 mins to get onto the ship.
Lunch- when you get onto the ship everyone goes for lunch. We ate at the buffet. It's called the gather and is actually made up with two sections. Good and the line wasn't that long. Other reviews mentioned going to the Pasta bar. This is located at the back at the second buffet section. There is a set of stairs to go up to it. You receive a table number and get an order form. You hand in your order form and wait for it to be delivered to your table. I ate there once and it was really good.
We went to our balcony room (8348) at around 2pm and it was ready. Most of our bags were already there and our last one arrived shortly after. The cabin was located mid ship and right by the elevator. We all thought it was in an excellent location. The floor above and below were staterooms so noise was minimal. We met our steward, Ramil right away and asked that he open our balcony partition because our friends were in the connecting cabin 8350. He did it right away.
Our balcony room had a lot of storage (check under the couch/bed) it has drawers as well. Even the bathroom had great storage. We loved our room and thought it was a perfect size, great storage and great style. We thought are bed was very comfortable. However, our friend felt it was very hard. They asked their steward for an egg grate mattress and it was delivered right away.
The balcony had 3 chairs and a small table. It was a great size as well. When we ported in Roatan they asked that we had nothing on the balcony and all balconies were washed down.
Breakfast- You can go to the Gathering buffet, which was very good. Tip: There is an omelette station is set up in the centre. Or you can go to the main dining room for a sit down breakfast. This was great and had quite a few options.
Lunch- The options felt endless. The Gathering buffet, which had a Mongolian station in the middle of the first buffet section. My friend loved it. Also in the Gathering at the second section and up the stairs the Pasta Bar as I mentioned above was very good. Also in the gathering was endless ice cream and frozen yogurt machine. All day and night!
At the main pool they had a mini buffet with hamburgers, hot dogs, fries etc and the other side a pizza station. If you order a calzone which were fantastic you needed to wait 6-8 mins. Well worth the wait.
At the smaller pool there was a Tandoori buffet which was yummy and a deli bar with great hot or cold sandwiches.
There is also a burrito bar which I never made it to and to be honest never found it.
There is always the Gathering Buffet but we opted to go to the Crimson Dining room. We had anytime dining. We had to wait on 2 occasions which were the formal nights but never more then 15 mins. There are too many great food items that I had so try everything! I often ordered 2 appetizers to try something I wouldn't usually ordered. I do have to mention the soups were outstanding. Everyone in our party loved them. Be ware, there is only one night that lobster or shrimp was available. It was on our 2nd formal night (Thursday). My husband tried to order on other nights but was always told he would have to wait. When that night did come he asked for 2 tails and it was no problem. Service was hit and miss here. Sometimes quick and sometimes slow but we were never in a rush.
Tip: If you order a bottle of wine and do not finish it they will hold onto it and you can have it the next night. Another tip cappuccino's and espresso's are free at dinner in the dining rooms.
Sushi bar was open from 5-8pm daily. It is located inside on deck 5. You were given a plate with 3 pieces. Every day was different. Please note you could not ask for any other kind other then the ones that they offered.
Service- We thought the service in all areas far exceeded our expectations. Every single staff that we encountered were efficient and always were very cheerful. One instance that comes to mind is when my husband peeked his head out the door in the afternoon with his ice bucket and our Steward, Ramil who was really far away saw my husband and literally came running down the hall with a full one. And this is after he filled it up already once in the morning. Every evening as well the ice bucket was full. We asked several staff during the week how long they work on the ships. Most work 10 months straight, go home for 2 months and return to work on another boat. You see all day and night all staff working hard to support there families at home. I say be kind and courteous and do not expect every little single thing to be perfect, but when it is be gracious for the service.
Ship- Very, very clean. You would see staff all hours of day and evening cleaning every inch. Unbelievable really.
Entertainment was endless day and night. Every night at turn down service you would receive the "Fun Times" Newsletter which would tell you everything that was going on day and night for the next day. Shows that are not to be missed are the first night show (forgot the name), "Dancing in the Streets" $ the Comedy Shows". Two comedians perform on nights 2 & 3 and then they bring two new comedians to perform on nights 5 & 6. There are 2 family shows followed by 2 18plus shows. Arrive 30 mins. prior to show time to get a good seat.
I have to say when reading other people's negative reviews it boggles my mind. When paying a very, very reasonable price and 4000 people on board you can not expect everything to be 5 star quality. When you order a burger you get a burger, not 100% sirloin burger.
Cozumel- We booked through Island Marketing a VW bug tour around the island. Each group gets to drive their own VW buy following the tour guide. Once we set off we stopped for snorkeling and were given beer, pop and water from the moment we started the tour until it ended. We then set off and was taken to a spot where there was an old church, a very small ruin building and of course shops. This part of the tour was not our taste but I know it's to help the economy to sell to us. The next stop we were taught how tequila was made and then we were given samples of about 5 different kinds. Very tasty and then of course had a chance to buy it. We were then off driving around the coast and stopped at a beach. This was the highlight of the tour as the beach and ocean was unbelievably gorgeous. While we were at the beach our tour guide and his wife made a delicious authentic lunch for us; salsa, guacamole, chips, rice and jerk chicken. We then set off to drive again until we reached full circle. It was really relaxing day with great sightseeing and yummy food. This port I found was the best for shopping in real stores.
Belize- At this port the ship anchors in the ocean, approximately 15-20 mins away from the port. Tender boats (free of charge) take pick people up and return them to the boat. We dropped the ball on this one and tried to book Bannister Island that morning. There were not enough seats for our party so we took a tender boat to the port. The port was very much commercialized and very expensive.
Isle of Rotan- We booked a personalized tour through Victor Bodden Tours for a tour around the island. Our guide for the day was Francisco and we thought he was very informative and had passion for the island. We personalized it and choose to stop at the Monkey Farm and a beach. You can go on the website and see all that they offer. From 10:30am to 4:30pm we paid $30US per person. This was an eye opening experience for all of us (ages 3- 40). We felt like we got a real sense of the island and got a little bit of everything. This tour was fantastic and money well spent.
Costa Maya- Only went to the port to shop. Typical shopping with no real deals.
Camp Carnival- When I looked at reviews months prior to our trip I felt that there were minimal said about Camp Carnival and the ones I did find were often negative. Here is what we encountered:
I registered my 3year old on line prior to leaving. Just remember to bring the print out because if you do not you will have to fill out the paperwork when you are there. The first day on the ship it is recommended that you attend a brief registration meet and greet. It wasn't too long and was very casual.
The following afternoon we dropped our daughter off for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We were given a cell phone to keep the entire week so they could keep in touch with you at all times. What made me feel comfortable through out the trip is that when you dropped off and picked up your child they looked carefully at your Sail and Sign card and made sure that you had the cell phone in your possession. No exceptions. At the end of the week when I forgot my card they would not break protocol even though the girl knew me. This made me feel that my child was safe.
For the week we dropped off our daughter from 7:00pm till 9:00pm and every time she said she had fun. There was never mention of staff being mean as I had read in prior reviews. Through out the week the staff was consistent and knew my child's needs. Even when my child would cry when I brought her there (because she wanted to stay with her 11& 14 year old friends) they knew how to deal with her in a friendly manner and distracted her with an activity. In less then a minute she was calm. The other thing that I liked is outside of camp carnival there was a t.v. screen that at anytime I could go and watch and see how my daughter was doing.
From 6:00-7:00pm the children of Camp Carnival eat at the Pasta Bar located on AFT deck. The Pasta Bar is only open for lunch so it provided the children to eat at a quiet location. The one night I took my daughter she was struggling to say good bye and asked if I could stay for a few minutes. The staff had no problem with me staying and I was able to observe how they dealt with the children and handled the food. They were very personable with the children and only encouraged them to eat. Never did they threaten.
That same night I received a call from staff at 6:40pm and informed me that I should know that my daughter cried after I left her at dinner and cried for approximately 15mins. She had since calmed down and they thought that once they returned to the room and started an activity there were sure she would be fine. They asked that I come and check on her just after 7:00pm. I did just that and she was having a blast. I am a parent that would rather be called then not and liked the fact that they did not request that I immediately come and get her once she cried as I am a believer that a child needs time to adjust to their environment.
Not only did staff encourage me to help my daughter transition when I dropped her off, but they allowed her to have her sippy cup with milk and her blanket to comfort her.
The week was full of great activities with also free play. All week I was very happy with the staff, environment and programming.
Disembarkation- Our flight did not leave until evening so we were in rush to leave the ship. We put our suitcases out the night before by 11pm and we were given zone #24. We left our room by 8:30am, went down to the buffet and ate breakfast and left the ship at approximately 9:45am. Our luggage was waiting for us on the carousal. Very efficient.
We then paid $85 for a day rate at the Regency Hyatt Hotel at the airport. Great room and well worth the money.
To sum everything up we loved the Dream! Less
Cabin review: 118348
The cabin was located mid ship and right by the elevator & stairs. There was no noise from the traffic of the elevators or stairs. We all thought it was in an excellent location. The floor above and below were staterooms so noise was minimal. Balcony partition to cabin 8350 opened. Our balcony room had a lot of storage in all areas. Make sure you check under the couch/bed as it has drawers as well. Even the bathroom had great storage. The bed was very comfortable and the entire cabin had great storage.