Shake down cruise - not inaugural: Carnival Dream Cruise Review by 7continentKaren

Carnival Dream 4
Member Since 2005
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Shake down cruise - not inaugural

Sail Date: September 2009
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Rome (Civitavecchia)
We were led to believe that we were booking an inaugural and were very excited about it. I was bent on being on the very first of the European cruises as we had loved all the special things that were done for Carnival Legend on Carnival's first time in Europe. However, we learned that ours was not the REAL inaugural. That was going to be in NYC. Unfortunately, we were not alone in our disappointment. No bands or entertainers to see us off in Rome, nor at any port but Dubrovnik. No special shows or performers. In fact, the Country show was not ready so we had only 9 show nights and only 2 big shows. We really felt cheated. We thought that Carnival should have given us all some sort of perk - money off on a future cruise at least - for being the ones helping them find all the quirks, etc.

DH's night light was inoperative and it took 4 days to get it fixed. Maintenance evidently had no one who spoke English, for one thing. Also, they were busy with more important issues on the More ship. Turned out the light was miswired. We actually were the ones who figured out what was wrong.

Voice mail for Customer Service did not work. The employees continually put you on hold or hung up on you. So many problems they could not handle them all. It got better toward the end.

This was a huge problem for only 3 cabins on board - ours and 1222 and 1221. The Spa Deck's rooms all start with 1220, 1221 or 1222. If you dialed the room number, as you were instructed for every other floor, you got Riviera Decks 1220, 1221 or 1222 as the last digit was dropped. You were supposed to dial 4 first. However, no one knew that, even by the last night. We had calls to our room (1220) at all hours. The last night, when we needed to go to bed early as debarkation was starting at 6 am, we had our last call at midnight. Given the attitude of the maintenance dept, I would say that these are rooms to be avoided. I am betting the phone situation is not fixed. This is a new problem for Carnival as they never had a 12th floor before. But Magic will have the same issue so they need to figure it out.

Food was better than NCL or RCI but not as good as Legend or Glory. I liked the tandoori place on Lido and, of course, the melting chocolate cake. I would have liked the mongolian barbecue but did not have the patience to stand in line forever. Sushi could have been at a better time and more often. They did have lobster which some companies are dropping. Also baked Alaska. We had Ken the singing Maitre d' on Legend and enjoyed him again. Our wait staff was terrific. Got me some of that Norrbrod (rye with seeds)from breakfast for my dinner every night. Otherwise, the breads were not exceptional. Tipped the waiters extra.

We were not impressed with Todd as cruise director and had hoped for John Heald. Todd did very little for Cruise Critic folk of which there were many. Giving us a black fake leather frame with a picture of the ship did not make up for the lack of inaugural perks. Plus, now that we are home, the adhesive has given out. Made in China, no doubt.

We did take the Back of the Ship tour and enjoyed it despite the high price. We had not been in the engine control room nor the wheelhouse ever despite many years of cruising.

The computer Fun stations were a disaster on our cruise. They had an awful time making them work and I was truly ticked at having to leave 20 min behind as service stopped the last night prematurely. Europe had very few internet cafes so we were at the mercy of the Fun Hubs.

The Street show was certainly unusual and we enjoyed it but perhaps not as much as most. Just not into break dancing. Over all, the shows were a very weak spot for Dream.

Our cabin location was perfect and our cabin stewards were great. Room was always clean as a whistle. We were just one deck from the ramp to depart at almost all the ports. I particularly chose Riviera because it is sandwiched between two floors of cabins so is a lot quieter than many other decks - no rolling trash cans or music overhead. We were ones who thought the bed was too hard. I am getting used to the nice deluxe beds at Westin, Sheraton, Marriott, etc so this took some getting used to. That said, we slept like babies.

Sadly, some people did draw stuff on the very art deco figures in the hallways so we did not leave the ship as pristine as we found it. It is easily removed by a steward so speak up if you find the graffiti. We did like that part of the decor. The atrium was very tall but not big around so it was strange looking. Legend was all done in brown and gray and was blah. This, at least, was colorful, mostly reds and oranges.

We were blessed with perfect weather. I even got down a water slide!

Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the 3rd bus to arrive - decided that since we flew in the day of the cruise from California we would not be in a mood to drag luggage in and out of a train station so bought the transfer. We enjoyed exploring the new ship and staff was still unloading boxes! Debarkation was equally well organized and we took a shuttle with some other cruise critic folk and saved half over the ship's cost. Took us right to the Sheraton Roma. Less

Published 11/09/09

Cabin review: 6L1220 Deluxe Ocean View

Perfect location for quiet and for getting to and from dinner and shows. The ramp for debarking was one floor under us so we walked it with ease. We LOVED the two bathrooms, more for the two sinks than for the tub we never used. We were on Riviera in an ocean view. Big cabin. Plenty of storage room. I am a little tired of Carnival's orange decor. Looks like someone from Target did the room. Do not choose 1220, 1221, 1222 because of phone issues. We were in 1220. The weird cove balconies were not worth the money and main floor has a lot of noise overhead.

Read All Deluxe Ocean View (6L) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Barcelona is such a faboulous city with wonderful architecture. We have been several times so we just wandered around the old town. We had a few sprinkles in the morning but the sun came out and it was great. We poked around a number of alley ways and found lots of interesting stuff to see. We were really happy that Dream allowed so much time at each port and that there were so many stops.

Read 1729 Barcelona Reviews

The BEST! by far. What a fabulous old town for walking. We took a morning and early afternoon tour of the countryside which included a boat ride down an agricultural canal and lunch at an old house. Lunch was nothing to write home about but the scenery was spectacular and we got to go into Bosnia so we copped another country. Back in town, we still had time to wander around the old city. We wished we had more time for that. Don't listen to your tour guide about where to find a public restroom. Go straight to the Hilton! Big sign at the shuttle stop. Can't miss it. Beautiful, beautiful city and surrounding area.

We took the bare bones trip into Florence which cost a fortune. But the hassle with the train, cabs, buses, etc was not worth it. Plus - we did not want to miss the ship's departure.

We were left at the cathedral square and met there later. We walked it from the bus station so be aware that you will walk about 6 blocks each way. We were bent on finding a great restaurant we ate at 29 yrs ago. Well, we did expect it to cost more but it has entirely changed, right down to its location. Luckily, there was no decision as they no longer serve lunch. It now has 3 Michelin stars and charges $500 for dinner! We paid about $60 for lunch and thought it was a lot. Enoteca Pincchiori. Alas. We also stumbled on a nice museum where they let senior citizens in for free. We liked that. Most of our time was spent walking to and from the restaurant. Ended up in a small cafe having yet another pizza and watching the disaster in Messina on TV.

Rome was last where we spent an extra two days. It was so mobbed on a Sunday that we could actually not get on any hop on buses. We hoofed it around the Forum, took a public bus to the Vatican only to see about 1000 people (no lie) waiting to get in. Forget that. Been there, done that when Rome was not so crowded. Stayed at the Sheraton Roma which has a cheap shuttle into town and a cheap shuttle to the airport. I highly recommend it unless you are married to sleeping in a king bed. Queen only plus twins.

Beautiful city but a lot of walking. We had been there a couple of years ago so just walked to the end of the pier and got a public bus to the casino hill. The $300 soup is still on the menu at the Hotel Paris! And the town is still outrageously expensive. They now want $20 to enter the casino and you cannot apply it toward gambling as you could before. You have to have your passport or driver's license with you or they won't let you in. I was paranoid about pickpockets (my husband was hit a few years ago in Barcelona) so my docs were in the room safe. I was in there 40 yrs ago but I don't remember any of it. Next time, maybe. We then took the bus all over the city and had sort of a tour. Took in the Prince's car collection, then walked back from there to the ship. Gorgeous day. Advise anyone to go to the aquarium.

We decided not to risk missing the ship by taking the train so signed up for a ship's excursion to Pompeii. Good decision and we enjoyed it very much. I had been waiting years to get there so was very happy with our choice. Pompeii was mobbed and it was hard to make out where you would go for the train. One passenger on her own did not make it back in time and missed two ports before she caught up with us. Making us even more happy with our decision. What is funny is that all the foot traffic suddenly came to a halt. Why? Long long line to enter the building with all the dirty pictures!

We had time afterward to walk around Naples, found its Galleria. It is beautiful but not as large or as well kept as the one in Milan. The cathedral was disappointing as it had a lot of graffiti. Some Italians have no respect for the church. We managed to snag an authentic Napoli pizza, just plain delicious tomato sauce (no oregano or herbs) cooked with olive oil and topped with halved cherry tomatoes. No cheese. That is where pizza was invented.

One thing women will notice is that all the public restrooms in Italy from Rome south look like someone came through and stole all the toilet seats. No, not a one. Bolts are still there but the seats are gone!

Messina in Sicily is not a choice here but it was an interesting stop also. We spent time in the city, hiking to the church on the hill. It is open only in the morning - word to the wise - and we arrived too late at 1 pm. Talked to James and other staff members up there. Then we also went to the Galleria in Messina which was pathetic as there were no shops in it anymore. Deserted. The cathedral was quite beautiful and you would want to watch the clock tower at noon. It is a very poor and sad town. Dirty with debris. What was really astonishing is that there were almost no places to eat. We did get the required canoli, as Messina is the home of canolis.

We also sailed past Stromboli and its volcano. Not huge but we could see the fire at night.

A few days later a huge storm hit them and they had 10 inches of rain in 3 hrs! Some of their very high retaining walls (as much as 100 ft tall) crumbled. Cars tumbled over each other falling down the muddy hills. Sad.

Read 1162 Naples Reviews

WOW! Really busy port. BUT, the most amazingly dramatic entrance we have ever seen. You have not lived until you have entered Venice by ship. And we went out the way we came in so we were twice lucky. Do yourself a favor and buy the ship's shuttle tickets if you go on your own, which we did. We thought we would outsmart everyone and save even more money by using public transit. Don't. It works fine going toward the vaporetto station but not good coming back to the ship. Three of the same bus number with different itineraries and no one speaking English. We ended up, after an hour of wandering from bus to bus, having to walk about 3 miles from the wrong port to ours at 8 pm, getting onto the ship barely in time for dinner and with VERY sore feet. Then, allow several hours for your return prior to sailing away as the vaporetto stations can be very confusing, esp around St Mark's. We stopped at a church across the canal from St Mark's and it was having an international exposition on space so we enjoyed that. St Mark's was the usual madhouse, pigeons, brides and all. We had not been there in 30 yrs. Be sure to go to the Rialto Bridge. Such a spectacular city.

Read 1130 Venice Reviews

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