Best Carnival Experience Yet: Carnival Dream Cruise Review by ranstar

Carnival Dream 5
Member Since 2010
34 Forum Posts

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Best Carnival Experience Yet

Sail Date: October 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
LIke many other reviewers, we were very nervous after reading the summer reviews. I have a couple hypotheses. Perhaps Carnival has been reading them, as well, and they have taken some positive steps. Perhaps, some people see their role as critic as fault-finding. Our role is not as critic until we return. For 7 days we set out to have a great time, relax, and enjoy the time away. We succeeded.

We booked the trip via Marriott Rewards Points. I got a tip that the cruise certificate cost would go up in August from 145,000 to 195,000 points (for $1,000). I was able to pay for the cruise with points. Very nice. Its still a pretty good points value, but, 210,000 Marriott points can get you a week at a very nice resort (probably worth over $2,000).

Embarkation: We flew to Port Canaveral. Pro's: closer to port. Cons: the luggage express program only works with MCO. We rented a car one way to Port Canaveral. They will shuttle you to the port. I was the only More renter that dropped my passengers and luggage at the port before turning in the car. No offense, but, each car seemed to have 4 passengers and 8 oversized bags, filling up the buses and forcing many to wait. I was allowed to get on a full bus, because I had no other people and no bags. Probably saved a half hour or more. Embarkation itself seemed pretty normal. A necessary evil made as painless as possible, but it still probably took about an hour. Did anyone else think the lady continually harping on the PA was incredibly annoying. I think she was the only person that enjoyed hearing her voice.

Once on the ship, I was impressed with how well the buffet was working. We were off to a good start. Dinner was normal cruise fare in the main dining room. Not really better or worse. Our server team was very good. The chocolate melting cake is still as good as ever. We did the pasta bar on 2 occasions for lunch. The lasagna there is amazingly good. They did a barbecue on deck 5 on the sea days. Don't miss this. The sliders are really great. The steakhouse (Chef's Art) should not be missed. We always do the steakhouse on the last night of a cruise. We went earlier in the week, also. Steaks and service are on par with Flemings or Ruth's Chris. The desserts are enormous. Dinner would cost us $150 on land. Easily worth the $70 (for 2) up-charge. The steaks are clearly much higher grade than the main dining room.

Our cabin was great. We love the aft balcony. I like to smoke cigars. No better place to enjoy one. When Carnival bans balcony cigars (like NCL and Princess) I'll switch to land based vacations. Obnoxious drunks don't cause the cruise lines to drop alcoholic beverages. Interestingly, the Dream did not allow cigars indoors anywhere on the ship, but, did allow cigarettes. This is very annoying. I would appreciate a nice cigar lounge available on most upscale ships (including some of Carnival's). But, let me have a cigar on my balcony, and you'll get no complaints. I write this because I've read several posts from people complaining about balcony smoking.

The Serenity area was really comfortable. We ordered lunch there (complimentary). We both liked this touch. No, I didn't have a cigar there. They have a couple hot tubs, but no pool. The water slides are pretty impressive. You have to do each of them at least once. Some days the lines got pretty long.

Debarkation was easy. We wait until everyone has left, and then we get off. Did a one way rental car back to MLB. Easy.

Overall, this was the best Carnival ship we've done. We almost gave up on them after somewhat of a disappointment with the Liberty in 2011. Now we are thinking seriously about booking the Sunshine in 2013. We loved the Princess Crown, but, honestly, I think the Dream is a better ship. Not just better for me, but, better. I'm not sure what ship some of the earlier reviewers are discussing. Less

Published 10/28/12

Cabin review: 9C6485 Premium Vista Balcony

6485 is an aft extended balcony. We love this type of cabin. It normally adds about $100 to $150 to the cost (per cabin). We love sitting on the back watching the world sail away. I like to have a cigar on the balcony. This is the least windy balcony on the ship. On the down side, there isn't any coverage over this balcony, so, you can't sit outside if it rains. This cabin may actually be a couple feet larger than other balcony cabins. Plenty of room. Its as big as the Princess mini-suite we sailed a couple years ago. Difference is no bathtub. Great cabin. Decent service.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Nothing to do here unless you do an excursion. We did a barrier reef snorkel and private island. The island was Goff's Cay. Very small. The snorkeling was guided. I didn't like that aspect. But, it was a nice day.

We just went in and looked around the cruise ship shopping area. We were only there til 2:00, so it was really a waste of time. We didn't really care, We kind of treated it as an extra sea day.
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Helmet Dive

These were submarine scooters. They crawl around about 15 feet underwater. You dive up under a helmet to ride on the scooter. Pretty cool. Divers swim with you and ensure safety and attract fish.

We arrived on the only day in October that 2 ships were docked with over 7,000 passengers. No way to enjoy the Carnival beach. In most cases, this is the no brainer activity for this day. We tried to rent a cabana and they were long gone, so we opted for an all inclusive day at one of the hotels. Weather wasn't great. That's just a little bad luck. But, overall, I like this port, and I'd be happy to include it on future cruises.
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