We flew into Orlando a couple of days early so that we could go to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. Had a great time.
Stayed at the Courtyard Marriott by the Orlando airport. Really nice hotel. Tell them at checkin and they will call their transport service to take you to the cruiseport. We had already purchased transfers through Carnival, so we met Carnival transfer bus back at baggage claim at the airport. We only waited a few minutes and we were on our way to the cruiseport and the Carnival Dream.
Our group consisted of my husband and me and our friends. (husband and wife) This was our 13th cruise. We have sailed on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Princess. We have never sailed a cruise or cruiseline we didn't love! The cruiselines are different and have different characteristics - but we've always had a blast, and this cruise was a blast.
Checkin was a breeze. There was a good sized line, but it moved fast. We were onboard by 1:30 and our cabins were ready. As usual, we went straight to the lido deck and the buffet.
If I were to point out a flaw in this cruise, it would be the buffet set up. I like the cruiseships that have different stations in the buffet. Such as you might go to one station to get fruit, another to get bread, another to get dessert, and maybe another to get a specialty item like an omlett. The buffet on the Dream has everything in the same line - but several lines. For example, so to get some oatmeal in the morning, you have to stand in line all the way through the eggs and bacon, etc. No biggie - just annoying.
The shows were fun. Tons of pools and hot tubs. We had a balcony, and one of the hot tubs was right below it, so we didn't really try to find a deck chair. Didn't use the pools or slide, but it looked fun.
The food was good. As usual, I loved the chocolate melting cake that they offer each night. I always try to eat something unusual that I haven't tasted before when I go on a cruise. This cruise I tried shark and frog legs. I have to admit ... they were quite tasty.
I've been to Nassau before, its basically run down and dirty like alot of the ports in Mexico. But we made our way to the Queens Staircase and that was quite nice. We had to make our traditional stop at the Harley store for my husband. We have gone snorkeling there before and enjoyed it, but the friends we were with are not snorklers. All that being said, we have fun.
St. Thomas: We rode the skyride up to Paradise Point. It was nice up there and the views out over the bay and of our cruiseship were beautiful. They have a little grill type place up there and their pina colada smoothie was one of the best I have tasted. Don't spend you money in their little shops. We found their prices even on little things like homemade reversible dolls to be twice what you will pay when you get downtown St. Thomas. We couldn't talk the shop keepers down, decided to wait until we got back down the mountain, and were glad we did.
St. Maarten: You take the ferry from the cruiseport over to the beach and main shopping area. It is on the dutch side. I think the ferry was $4 or $6 for a roundtrip. We rented a rental car and drove around the island. It was beautiful, but I would have rather taken a ship shore excursion to the butterfly farm or to a beach. The water there is a beautiful blue. The shops along the boardwalk by the ferry dock were fun to shop in. We just bought a couple of T-shirts and some other trinkets.
Back to Cape Canaveral. Disembarkation went really fast. We waited in the Encore Theater, were the 2nd to the last number called, and were off the ship by 9:30 am heading back to the airport on the transfer.
I think those who complain like I read in some of the reviews, are just hard to please. Whatever might have gone wrong, I can't even remember because we were there to have a good time. For those of you waiting for your cruise vacation to get here ... I'm jealous. Wish I was going with you.