Carnival Dream is supposed to be a large, fun-ship, but maybe due to its design doesn’t feel all that large. The water park was great! I had a lot of fun going down those slides, especially the drain pipe, which to me was the fastest. ... Read More
Carnival Dream is supposed to be a large, fun-ship, but maybe due to its design doesn’t feel all that large. The water park was great! I had a lot of fun going down those slides, especially the drain pipe, which to me was the fastest. The serenity retreat was nice when you can find a lounger. The serenity area had a lot of wind to keep you cooled off, but not a lot of shade unless you can score a lounger with a canopy. Unfortunately, the ship itself is due for a dry-dock. It’s weathered and worn with cracked windows, broken shower door, non-working balcony light and lots of chipped, nicked and broken stuff. The décor is garish, out dated and should have been updated way before now. The Carnival iconic red Fun-ship funnel wasn’t even red anymore it was faded and weathered like the rest of the ship. I’ve never been a big Carnival fan and I hope to never vacation with them again given my overall experience, which is detailed below.
- Embarkation/Debarkation Process:
The embarkation process was great! We had priority boarding and it only took us about 30 minutes once we entered the pier terminal to board the ship. the rooms weren’t ready until 1:30 p.m., but we just waited in the Dream Atrium lounge. Plenty of waiters and waitresses were there taking drink orders and they had the drink of the day already on their trays. The drink of the day was strong, but a lady stated that they started out strong but by the end of the cruise they barely put any alcohol in them. I thought she was exaggerating, but, no, she was right. My drinks had less and less alcohol in them as the days went by and I only order one drink a day (in case you were thinking this was their way of cutting me off). But, as for embarkation, it was a very smooth process.
Debarkation was utter chaos. There were some people who actually waited in the designated waiting areas and then the rest waited wherever, even in the hallways. There were lines of people everywhere amongst the people just waiting in the way. Once our debarkation zone number was called it was hard to find the two lines leading off of the ship. Once we were finally off the ship in the gangway, my mother, who’s in a motorized scooter herself had to move over to let those being pushed in wheel chairs by Carnival attendants by. We finally received assistance when one of the workers directed us to the elevators. (I thank her much!) Once we go down to where the luggage was my Mom waited on her scooter to the side while we gathered up all the luggage. One of the agents wanted to act like we were in the way and had to have my Mom, scooter and all the luggage moved further to the side instead of just getting us a porter. So, while she was messing around, I grabbed a porter to load our bags and get us on our way. The porter was great! He shepherded us through Customs, grabbed us a taxi, unloaded our luggage and had us on our way in no time. (I thank him for saving the day!) During debarkation, no one was directing, no one was leading, no one made it their priority to be helpful and make the process as clear and as easy as possible. This includes not only Carnival staff, but the Customs staff member who instead of being helpful, which would have cleared the area of people and luggage faster, decided that moving people/luggage a few inches over was the best approach. I’m sorry to include a Customs staff member in a bad review being a federal worker myself and part of the same Department, but I know I try to be as helpful as possible to our vendors and the public. I’ve even walked people through our processes over the phone!
When we first got onboard we went to the Lido deck to eat at the buffet restaurant called The Gathering. The food was good that day and I had no problem finding something I wanted to eat. I got grilled fish, kidney beans, potato salad and a mixed broccoli medley. All of it was good.
We changed our dinner choice to Any Time Dining, which was an easy process on the first day of the cruise. We did have to show a card everyday showing that our dinner choice was changed instead of Carnival staff just noting it in the computer system. We ate in the Crimson and at first the food was pretty good. I had beef brisket the first night and an oyster appetizer another night that were especially good. But, the meals decreased in flavor after that until everything tasted pretty bland in the Crimson dining room. None of the desserts were very good, not even the chocolate melting cake, which Carnival was famous for. (I remember ordering the chocolate melting cake almost every night on my previous Carnival cruise. Of course, I did that because the rest of the desserts were awful.) Due to having Any Time dining, when a lot of people want to eat dinner at the same time, the Carnival Dream has a beeper lights up, turn in your beeper, ensure all of your party is there and wait some more for them to get you a table. I don’t need to go out in the middle of the ocean for this.
In short, food that was great could be found at the Seaside BBQ and Mongolian Wok, when they’re open. The Seaside BBQ was only open for lunch on sea days. The Mongolian Wok, located in The Gathering buffet was only open for lunch and the lines stretched all the way to the elevators sometimes. (They do need a smoke ventilation system for the Wok area though. I had to hold a napkin over my nose to be able to breathe without coughing. I wasn’t the only one.) None of the desserts onboard were very good and there wasn’t very many places to go eat. The burgers and fries at the Grill were good. The pizza at the Pizza Pirate was a little bland and they didn’t have a good selection of pizzas. The servers at the Pizza Pirate weren’t all that friendly either. I ate breakfast in the buffet everyday and for the most part it was pretty good. (I do wish they had turkey sausage and turkey bacon though. They had a lot of pig.) I brought my own Coffee Mate creamer for my daily coffee.
The ports of call were Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. Unfortunately, Montego Bay looked run down. I went to Doctor’s Cave Beach utilizing Carnival’s Hop On-Hop Off shuttle. The shuttle worked well and Doctor’s Cave Beach was nice. I had no problem getting lounge chairs and an umbrella. The music playing was nice and there was food available for purchase along with drinks. I went snorkeling using my own snorkel gear, but snorkel gear is available for rent there as well. Of course, I didn’t see anything because I was in the protected area close to shore. But, they had a guy selling glass bottom boat and snorkel tours as well on the beach. I also went swimming and afterwards ordered a drink that had the colors of the Jamaican flag in it; however, they did the same thing as on the ship and barely put any alcohol in it. I highly recommend experiencing Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay.
In Grand Cayman, we went on the Amazing Turtle and Wildlife Adventure excursion and all I can say is Awesome! I held a baby sea turtle and snorkeled with them using my own snorkel gear in their habitat. I did have trouble finding the habitat, so hopefully they will add more tour guides to help people navigate the place. Also, we weren’t permitted to take our own pictures of me holding the baby turtle, which was rude. I bought a flash drive from them with the pictures on them anyway. But, I hate being nickel and dimed though and that is truly beneath this beautiful place. But, again, it was Awesome and Grand Cayman was beautiful! The tour bus driver even dropped people off at the beach who wanted to go after the excursion was done.
In Cozumel, we went shopping. We especially wanted to go to Ron Jon’s. We went, but it was pricey and wasn’t anything like the one in Cocoa Beach, Florida. However, the one in Cocoa Beach is labeled as “one of a kind” and it is. If you're ever in Cocoa Beach definitely go to Ron Jon’s and skip the one in Cozumel. There were plenty of local shops with beautiful figurines, art work and jewelry. Needless to say, Cozumel is always gorgeous and you can’t help but dance to the music playing in each shop. (Just don’t break anything. You break it, you buy it.) Our shopping trip got rained out though, so it was back to the ship.
After Cozumel, it was supposed to be another relaxing day at sea. Only breakfast was good, but the entertainment at dinner was great! We wanted to wrap up our vacation by purchasing pictures of our vacation. Normally, we’re able to get a group special to buy all of the prints from our various cabins at one flat fee because there are so many photos. We were informed by the Carnival photo staff that they no longer did this. They wouldn’t even give us a percentage off our photos ,which totaled over $1,000. Each cabin had to go through the photos, pick out what they really had to have and discard the rest. This was the icing on top of the already bad dessert. All they did was throw away the photos we refused to pay over $1,000 for. Ridiculous!! The only program they had was some stupid rewards program where you get free junk after every so many photos purchased. We didn’t want a bunch of junk. We wanted the photos. I already just finished taking bags of free stuff to Goodwill and Goodwill probably doesn’t want that stuff. They did throw in a free photo album that stated on it you get ten free 4x6 photos with it. But, they’re not ten of your photos. We were told they meant ten free photos of the ship. Who wants or needs ten free photos of the same ship (and they were just of the ship, not different areas in or on the ship, but ten of the same photos of the ship). This was the height of asinine and after debarkation culminated into the decision not to vacation with Carnival again. The wonderful Fun-ship Ads and cheaper pricing are just ploys to get you onboard to nickel and dime you the entire time. Spend some more money and take a real vacation on Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. Royal Caribbean is in a class all to itself and Norwegian is very good and definitely trying to compete with Royal. Norwegian’s O’Sheehan’s 24-hour restaurant is Awesome!
Oh, I almost forgot the spa. I purchased an Elemis Body Sculpting Cellulite & Colon Therapy Spa service. At Nemacolin, I know this is not a cruise line, but cruise lines should consult with Nemacolin on the spa services they provide and how the spa is run in general, you get access to the spa amenities for the day of your spa service. No need to purchase access to the thermal suites separately. I didn’t get access to the thermal suites with my spa service on this ship. There was no fluffy white robe, no relaxation waiting area beforehand and no access to any other areas of the spa unless you purchase them separately, not very relaxing. The therapist was late. I had to talk to two different staff members explaining that my appointment was supposed to start soon and I hadn’t even been given the check-in questionnaire. There was a couple sitting beside me having the same problem. Granted, normally I don’t like the spas on ships. They’re always trying to sell you something. I think they should all contract with Hand & Stone Spa, make sure they have some great masseuses onboard and consult with Nemacolin on how the spa should run, but I digress. I did get all of my treatment time and then some. All I can say is I hope they start to provide an actual spa experience on these cruises with consistent quality. This is not just a Carnival problem. Read Less