Carnival Dream Cruise Review by stephkd
- Sail Date: April 2016
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Cove Balcony
We had a check in time of 10-10:30. We got downtown around 9:45, but by the time we parked (Fulton Garage), took the shuttle, and eventually found a porter for our bags, we did not get inside to begin check in until almost 11. We were assigned zone 7. Around 11:30 they began calling the first zones, and within 20 minutes our zone was called.
Once we got on board, we went up to the lido for lunch. We bought some drinks from the roaming waiters and ate. Afterwards we walked around the ship to look a bit then went up to play mini golf until our cabin was ready.
Our cabin was wonderful. The location on the ship was perfect. We were very close to the stairs and elevators. Because we were level 2, it was very easy to catch an elevator. We noticed that other levels in the middle often had to wait a few times because the elevators would be full when they stopped on their level. The elevator near us went to easy locations. On deck 5 we got out right at the Burgundy Lounge for comedy and Piano Bar. On Deck 10 we stopped right at the aft pool and the Gathering Buffet. Our room was very comfortable. It was a good size, and the cove balcony was great. Our room steward, Bujan, was the best.
We tried all sorts of different dining options out while on board. For breakfast, our favorite was the brunch on sea days. The food then was pretty good. The lido buffet was okay, but not thrilling food quality. A continental breakfast with plenty of hot options and fresh fruit. We did not like the scrambled eggs (powdered eggs) at all, though, so that was disappointing. We also ate breakfast in the MDR on one of the port days, and that was pretty good. We tried for room service breakfast one morning, but it did not work out. We put the card out on our door the night before at about 9pm and requested delivery between 7:30-8am. We woke up earlier than we expected, at 6:30, but figured we should wait for the room service since we had ordered it even though we were already hungry. Finally at 8:30 we gave up waiting and went up to the lido buffet. Two days later while eating dinner in the MDR a man came to us to apologize for the breakfast. He said they received 450 orders that morning and had pulled people from all over the ship, even the spa, to help deliver. Unfortunately they still were unable to keep up. I was still pretty disappointed, though, because we put in our order 11 hours prior. We woke up hungry but waited so that we weren't gone when they arrived, that would be rude. The least they could have done was make an announcement or something to let people know orders were delayed. We had inquired at guest services about it before this man apologized to us, and they knew nothing of any issues with room service breakfast delivery, so obviously they hadn't pulled everyone in to help as he said they did.
We also did the Dr. Seuss breakfast, which was very cute.The food tasted only ok, but it was done very cute. They bring Thing 1 and Thing 2 to the tables to take pictures, then the Cat in the Hat and Sam I Am are separately available to walk up to and take a picture. I wish that we would have walked up to Thing 1 and Thing 2 as well. I felt like I could not take my own picture when they came to the table because it was rushed. When we stood in line for pictures with the Cat and Sam, I was able to take my own in addition to the ship's photographer. They did some song and dance stuff, and the decorations were very fun. We would do this again, and it was worth the extra $5 per person.
For lunch, my husband and I flocked to Tandoor almost every day. The food was great there. We never got to try Pasta Bella because it was on floor 11, away from all the other lunch options, and we forgot about it every day. The buffet at The Gathering was always ok, but never exceptional. Our son wanted pizza and/or burgers & fries every day at least twice a day, but every time we went there it was a CHORE because of the lines. No less than 15 minutes, but usually closer to 30. I only tried the Deli once due to a constant and slow moving line. The one time I tried it was while we were in port and we had gone back on to the ship for lunch between our morning beach time and afternoon excursion. Because everyone was off the ship, I was able to walk right up. I also tried the Mongolian Wok only once. The food was pretty good, but it took me over a half hour to get food. And this was not at a peak meal time. It was at like 2pm and they closed at 3:30 that day. For this reason I did not return. The Oceanside BBQ on deck 5 was another thing we kept forgetting about because it was not near the main lunch area. About halfway through we walked past it during lunch time and wanted to try it, but the line easily had 25 people in it so we skipped it. My husband did return later in the week and waiting at least 20-30 minutes, but the food was terrible. Definitely the worst food on the whole cruise, even worse than the powdered scrambled eggs.
For dinner we ate in the MDR with Your Time Dining most nights. Two of the nights we went to the lido buffet. We never had to wait to sit in the MDR, which was great, and we got the same waiter every night except 1 without asking. He remembered everyone's names at the table and what they liked, which was nice. He kept getting my name wrong, but I thought that was funny. The food in the beginning of the cruise in the MDR was very good. I was excited to try the dishes and enjoyed them. On the second half of the cruise we were all pretty disappointed in the selection and also all felt like the quality of the food had drastically declined. My mom got a chocolate melting cake every night, but on the last 2 nights she didn't even eat much of it because it wasn't nearly as good. Very different consistency. The one night we did not have the same waiter, we were tucked away into a separate room. There were only 2 nights that we saw the waiters performing, and that was one. Everyone in this back room got up and went to the doorway to watch. We felt like bad, punished children. The room was very pretty, but I would not like to be seated there again. Also, while we were seated quickly every night, dinner took forever! A minimum of an hour and a half. And when we sat we ordered appetizers and entrees right away because we looked at the menu ahead of time. We constantly had 20+ minutes between courses. This is why we skipped the MDR a couple of nights. It was a waste of the whole evening.
When we went to the lido buffet for dinner the 2 nights, the line was awful. The first night we went at 6:30, but the line was so bad that we decided to wait. We fed our son some pizza (20 minute wait) then brought him to Camp Ocean. When we returned later around 8 the line was still very long. The food was pretty good, but nothing I needed to overindulge in.
The final thing I have to say about food is that the frozen drinks don't have any alcohol in them. When I got a cocktail, it was very nice. Every time I got a frozen drink, it tasted like there was nothing in it. For the prices they charge, I wish they were a little more liberal with the booze there.
On to entertainment! On the second night my husband and I wanted to go to a comedy show. We got there about 5 minutes before showtime and were rejected at the door due to it being full. We were told we could wait in line for the next show over an hour away. We went back to our room for about 20 minutes then went to the line. The line was very long and we waited for 40 minutes. When we got in and were seated, the lounge was only half full and we were told that is typical and that you certainly don't need to wait in line but should arrive about 10-15 minutes ahead of time in order to get a seat. I really wish they had told us this before we sat in line for so long! Once the show started, I was really underimpressed. I love comedy, and the dirtier the better, but the first comedian was downright insulting to the workers on the ship. I'm far from an overly sensitive person, but I could not take my eyes off these waiters' faces while he told his racist jokes. It felt like humanity was taking a couple steps back. The main comedian came on and was much better. It was very dirty, pretty funny. We had a good time.
We also went to the show Get Ready, and my husband and I were incredibly disappointed in it. First of all we got there 5-10 minutes prior to the start and had to sit way up on the second level around the side so that we could see backstage. The description made it sound like a musical with a plot and purpose, but that was far from the case. It started out with about 5-10 minutes of girls dressed in school girls outfits flipping onto their back and spreading their legs wide while music played and one sang, but you could not hear the singing because the sound was way off so I still don't know if she was any good. After that, it consisted of song after song being sung, but in no way strung together in order to make up a plot. The closest thing I got to a plot was: Look at our red panties, oh goodness, the boyfriends are cheating on us and we won't stand for it!, but then again let's take the boyfriends back, now let's all pretend to be workers with the girls being oversexualized (not an issue for the sexuality---if they were sexualizing the men as well, but that was not the case; only the girls were dressed sexy). So basically instead of being a musical about deciding what you want to be when you grow up (what we were told it was), it was actually an overtly sexual, womanizing promotion that taught any young girls in the audience that yes! You can do whatever job a man can, BUT you better look good doing it. Fortunately my son doesn't pick up on that and enjoyed the flashy colors and singing and dancing and even fireworks, so it wasn't a total loss.
Get Ready was originally scheduled for the 1st or 2nd sea day, but because of the choppy water it was rescheduled. We didn't find out until it was too late that the replacement was a MAGICIAN. That would have been our favorite probably, but we missed it. They left a flier in our room while we were at dinner and by the same we saw it was too late. All week I was hoping there would be a repeat performance from him, but there was not.
The only other show we saw was the Love and Marriage show. That was probably my favorite. It was a lot of fun. After having seating issues for the comedy show and Get Ready we got there about 20 minutes early. Bingo was going on, and once it finished hardly anyone left. We still got a pretty decent seat, though. We ordered some drinks and enjoyed the show.
The Dive In movies were a lot of fun. Again, get there early for a good seat! We had hot cocoa and ice cream. The popcorn was awful (a general consensus with all the passengers we spoke to.) I loved that we could rent the throw blankets; I even got an extra one, 1 for legs and 1 for arms! We also brought our pillows.
We felt that all of the activities were at night and would have liked some more family friendly activities during the day. The only day activities were trivia, sales pitches, and gambling it felt like.
Our son participated in Camp Ocean. He is 7. We preregistered, but on the first night we went to check it out and were given a schedule. Each night we would look at the next day's schedule together and he would choose which, if any, activities he wanted to do. He probably went for about an hour on 4 or 5 days. The most he stayed was an hour and a half. He usually wanted to go when they had the Video Games, Wii, and Board Games hour, but he also enjoyed learning to make towel animals and making a wall mural as well. One night we also participated in the family scavenger hunt. This was a last minute decision on our part, and we did not know there was a prize, so we just had a lot of fun doing it but didn't push too hard to win. But we did! It was fun to get the medals and the ship on a stick trophy.
For the pools: our son went in the Waves pool on the first day. It was so choppy he did not enjoy it. We never ended up back there because of the crowds. Most of our time was spent by the aft pool, where we had a lot of fun. One day towards the end of the afternoon a small group of college-aged boys screaming about shots came to do canonballs and belly flops. None of the Carnival employees stopped them despite the no jumping signs. We left. Otherwise it was a lot of fun. We did have trouble finding chairs. Once we even went to an empty chair but were told someone was using it.
The hot tubs always looked so enticing! But they were lukewarm at best, so beyond the first try they didn't see much use from us.
The slides were a lot of fun. Unfortunately the 2 big ones could not be used until the end of our cruise due to wind. When I finally got to try them, I only did each slide once because the walk there burned my feet so badly. Carnival really needs to put another material on deck. My son had a blast on the racing slides all week, though, so that was fun.
Serenity Deck: My husband and I went once. Walked through and could not find a single open seat, so we left. I thought there was a pool up there as well, but that was apparently not the case.
I forgot my tennis shoes so I could not utilize the gym, much to my disappointment. It looks decent, never crowded. I really wanted to do the yoga classes, also, but at 8am it was too late for me so I just did yoga on our balcony instead in the mornings.
The ports we visited were Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. The first was Montego Bay. We were in port 8-5. We were off the boat and in a cab by 8:15. They waited for the cab to fill up, then dropped everyone at the same spot. They give you the option of paying for your return and establishing a pick up time. We didn't do this since we didn't plan to be there all day; everyone else was setting up for a 3:30 pickup. The cost was $7 per person, no discount for children. The shuttle bus was $19 per person, $9 for children. We went to Doctor's Cave Beach. It was beautiful. Since we were there so early, there was no one around and we got a prime spot for a seat. We only stayed about an hour and a half, and by then the crowds were really starting to roll in. After we left, we walked over to the hip strip to do some shopping then we took a cab back to the port. We got back right around 11 and went back on board to eat lunch. While on our balcony we saw them running drills with the lifeboats, which was pretty neat. After lunch we went on our excursion. We did the 4x4 Jeep Safari, and I'm so glad we did. Our tour guide, Richard from Sri Lanka, was wonderful. He was so informative and friendly and also pretty funny. He was very willing to take pictures of us, usually offering to do so. We learned a ton about the area and Jamaica in general and really enjoyed ourselves. What a beautiful place!
In Grand Cayman we did not schedule an excursion through Carnival. The excursion was scheduled for 8:30-12:30 at the turtle farm. We got off our tender and onto a bus to the turtle farm, and we arrived right as the excursion was arriving. Since we were alone, we were able to stay a step ahead of them and do our own thing. While our son waded in the pools and played with the turtles, they lined up to hold one and take a pic and then wait off to the side. We tried the snorkeling, but it was awful. One small turtle and it was so filthy we felt like we were getting sick. We used their life vests but our own snorkels, but I did see them washing the snorkels after usage. The blue hole trail was disappointing, but the aviarty was super fun. We loved feeding the birds! We watched the shark feeding and spent some time at the pool and waterslide before walking down Grand Cayman Street and then getting some souvenirs. Here is a tip: right after you finish in the turtle farm souvenir and walk out, there are much cheaper souvenirs. If you want someone that specifically says Cayman Turtle Farm, you'll need to get it in their shop, but the vendors outside sold very cheap general Grand Cayman souvenirs. There was also ice cream and frozen lemonade for sale, yum! After this we walked across the street to the Dolphin Discovery and hopped in a bus that was already there and went to 7 Mile Beach. The helpful bus driver even got out and helped us and another group of people cross the road. The beach was super crowded, so we walked down to Governor's Beach. We got caught in some rain, and everyone was saying, "Welcome to the Caribbean!" It was not bad. We snorkeled and swam some before going out to the main road and flagging down a bus. Bus tip: $2.50 per person, and you can wave them down anywhere along the bus route. Lovely! We got back to the port at 1:40 and bought some rum cakes, then we stood in line for a tender. We did not get on a tender until 3, when we were scheduled to leave. We left around 3:30.
Now this was my main gripe with our cruise: Originally we were scheduled to be in Grand Cayman from 7-4 and in Cozumel from 10-6. They shortened Grand Cayman by an hour to 7-3, and then Cozumel was delayed and shorted from 11-5, losing 2 hours there. I felt like Cinderella trying not to turn into a pumpkin. The same ships that were in Grand Cayman later than us beat us to Cozumel and stayed later than us there.
The next day in Cozumel we took a cab to Playa Mia and played there most of the day. We had a big breakfast, and since the day was so short we did not do the all inclusive. The inflatables were fun, but very slippery. We also played on the paddle boats and kayaks. My son loved the slides and water park area. Alcoholic drinks were $7, a can of soda was $3, and a slice of pizza was $3. Our entry fee was $81 for 2 adults and 1 child. Cab from the port was $23 for a group of 5 each way. We tried to rent a wave runner, but were told to come back in an hour. We tried to pay for it and reserve it for then, but they said just to come back and they'd remember us. We didn't go back because they were telling other people the same. Once we left Playa Mia, the taxi dropped us at some shops across from the port. I felt their selling was more aggressive than in Montego Bay. We left because of this. Also, they were a little pricey. We got better deals in the port at the flea market and at one of the carts. Then we got guac and cervesas at 3 Amigos before lining up for the ship.
Overall, the service was really good. Once I went to guest services and the girl told me she couldn't do what I was asking. I said really, because I was told that you could. She then said it would take like 5 minutes.....so I said well do it then! lol The only other spotty service we had was once at the pizza place the guy working was obviously stressed and overwhelmed and he seemed like he was on the verge of same major attitude. Someone finally came to help him and he stayed away from the passengers. Our room steward was the best, and everyone was really quite friendly.
We enjoyed the cruise, and will probably do a shorter one in a couple of years, quite possibly on a different line. The food definitely could have been better. I wish there were more family-friendly daytime activities, stronger drinks, and no smoking. On deck 11 was one thing, but deck 5 was nastyyyy (casino). Biggest gripe was the shortened port times. My son is ready to go again just so he can eat chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza, burgers, and ice cream for a week straight.
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