We took the Thanksgiving cruise on Carnival Dream out of New Orleans. We live only an hour from NOLA, and we knew we just wanted to get away for the holiday, so this was a no-brainer. We previously sailed Dream in 2014. We consider ourselves fairly well-seasoned cruisers, having sailed on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian.
The ship itself is quite nice, but it came out of dry dock not that long ago. It is big, but not nearly as big as Norwegian Escape. While the ship was full (according to Carnival), it never seemed crowded. There were always places to sit in the lobby, Ocean Plaza (where Alchemy, Taste Bar, and Bonsai Sushi are), and Lido. They also were finishing the Christmas decorations as we boarded. Strangely, though, they never lit the tree in the lobby. For our Jewish friends, there was also a Menorah in the lobby. It was never lit, either, but, it's not yet Hanukkah.
We had an inside cabin. It was tight; we knew that going in, but it was sufficient. Two adults, two children aged 8 and 7. They were excited about both getting a "top bunk" every night. Obviously, an inside works even better when there are just 2 people, but it was fine for sleeping -- oh-so-dark and quiet! We slept in to about 8:30 every morning!
Dining was pretty good -- and much better than on our recent Escape voyage. On NCL, you can get very good dinners at the specialty restaurants, but the meals in the MDRs are lackluster. On Dream, we had very nice dinners every night. There was, of course, the requisite Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving, but there was also a duet of filet mignon and short ribs. I couldn't decide and ordered both. We had early assigned dining, and our wait staff was very good. They always remembered our drinks and dinner never went over about 90 minutes -- which we consider to be good. We ate in the Chef's Art Steakhouse on the last night of the cruise. They had not yet switched to the new menu, so we still got the meat presentation table-side. I had surf-and-turf, which was excellent. My wife had the 9oz filet, and she said it was perfectly cooked. Service at the steakhouse was, as expected, top-notch. Dinner here, too, lasted about 90 minutes.
We didn't really bother with the big shows in the theater. We generally took the kids to Camp Ocean after dinner and sat in the lobby for drinks and the music. It differed every night: there was a 3 piece string group, a singing duo, and a steel drummer one night. They were all rather good. In a small bar in the back of the ship ("Song"), there was quite frequently a country duo called Whiskey & Wine. We'll just say they were ok. We did go to 5 comedy shows. The first two were funny, but the last three we went to were absolutely hilarious. If Caroline Picard, the "Cajun Queen," is on your ship, you simply must go. I didn't see any of her PG-rated shows, but her 18+ shows were great -- just be warned: she might be 65 and look like your grandmother, but she could make a sailor blush. We also went to Chris "The Flying Scotsman" Williams's show in the theater. He's the cruise director, and you can't miss him. He's the only one on the ship in a kilt 24/7. His one-man show is good.
Service was generally quite good, and I had expected it to be. The only complaint I have is with the bar service. Until recently, you couldn't walk 10 steps without someone asking if you wanted a drink. Now, and I assume it is because of Cheers!, half the time you have to get up and walk to the bar. There are still a few roaming bartenders, but they are a few. Our cabin steward was on point, and our stateroom was made up twice daily. Towels were quickly replaced, including our beach towels, the beds were made up every time we walked in, and the bathroom stayed spotless.
Our ports were ok. We didn't really choose the cruise for the ports anyway. We booked our Key West excursion (para-sailing) directly with the vendor that Carnival uses and saved $30/person. In Freeport, we went to an all-inclusive resort that offered day passes -- the beach was beautiful, and drinks and a buffet were included. We did a dolphin excursion in Nassau on Balmoral Island. That was fun, and it was booked through Carnival. The little island itself is crowded with ship tourists and excrutiatingly overpriced ($5 for a bottle of Dasani? $16 for a cheeseburger?).
All in all, we would definitely go again. In fact, we are already booked for June 2018. No, we didn't book onboard.
Tight, but not unexpected. Adequate for sleeping especially if you like dark and quiet.
Fun captain and helper, great experience. Same vendor used by Carnival, but priced $30 less per person.View All 34 Parasailing Reviews
Nice little resort, very few people, beautiful beach, alcohol and buffet includedView All undefined undefined Reviews
Fun encounter with dolphins -- dancing, kissing, pictures. Balmoral Island is crowded with tourists and extraordinarily overpriced.View All 158 Dolphin Encounter Reviews