Carnival Dream Review
Our cruise set sail during the cold wintery days of early January 2018 boarding at New Orleans and visited Ocho Rios in Jamaica, Grand Caymans, then Cozumel island of Mexico. It is a 7 day cruise that ends where it begin, New Orleans.
I will provide a detail chronological history of our cruise but let me first summarize all the pros and cons as compared to NCL Breakaway, a similar type of cruise ship and similar itinerary.
Carnival Dream is a larger class cruise ship but smaller than the Oasis class. It is Carnival’s largest cruise ship and only slightly smaller than NCL’s Breakaway. Relative to Breakaway, boarding and dealing with the crowds at the elevators was less congested. The crew on Carnival is much less formal and you get to know a lot of them real fast as many of them will call you by your first name from the end of the first day of sail. My star was Natanya, hostess at the Spa Cloud 9 reception desk. You will not find a more genuine, nice person and with tremendous intelligence and memory. I vote her to become a Captain of a cruise liner. They offer many more steam rooms in their spa area relative to Breakway, but like Breakway, you must pay additionally or book the expensive rooms on the ship. One of the private spa steam room was absolutely gorgeous when viewed during the evening, providing various colored lights reflecting off of golden tiles like a scene out of a fantasy mid-evil movie. Getting off and on the ship for our excursions to the visiting ports was a lot less congested than NCL Breakaway and proceeded smoothly. Perhaps choosing times on the later times for leaving the ship and coming back on the early side was helpful. Lots, and I mean eight oversized Jacuzzi hot tubes situated on the decks and pool areas. Two of them are only for adults, 18+ quiet areas.
I’m afraid those are the only pros over a similar cruise on the NCL Breakaway which calls home midtown, New York City on the Hudson river and sails to Bermuda for a 2 and a half day stay for a total of a 7-day cruise.
The lobby, although very beautiful, has only a small area for window shopping, making the ship seem smaller than it actually is. The Thalassotherapy pool was down for one day, cold the other, and had a low level of water on yet another day. The coed sauna was on for only the last two days of the 7-day cruise, and the wonderful music one should hear in these spa area was lacking except for one day out of the 7 day cruise. The spa area, where private thermal suites of assorted temperatures and designed steam rooms lacked any type of a pleasant smell from scents. The thermal suite refreshment area lacked in capacity hot water and coffee while decaf was completely absent.
The food was far above the average college dorm-like cafeteria foods and had a wide variety of foods. However, their items were very similar each and every day throughout lunch and dinner at the buffet area on deck 10. The seated dining in restaurant halls provided more variability of options but not as much as the NCL Breakaway cruise. The selection of fine liquor was very limited. For example, if you like scotch, you basically had either Chaves Regal or MacCallan cast oak.
Room services are great on these cruises but Carnival got one really wrong by not providing any cups, utensils or sugar/sugar substitutes in their service. When I was asked on their follow up call of my room service, I told them what had happened and there was not even an apology or offer to comp/discount the service. If you don’t know, the room service foods are free of charge for regular items but they still charge you gratuity and expect a little more gratuity given directly to the delivery. None of the gratuity was offered back.
There are only two pools onboard and none of the pools were just for adults. Fortunately, all the kids were all well behaved on this particular cruise.
There is no interior room for cigar smokers. You have to brave the windy environment at two areas of the ship’s decks.
Getting your own private table for you and your couple or immediate family could be a problem. You can ask the Maitre D’ when the dining hall opens for supper to be changed, if there are any available. Otherwise, you will have to pay, and pay very early prior to departure, about $100, to get special previledge of boarding early, getting tender early for going ashore at ports where there is no pier, and first picking of where you would like to sit during your seated dinning services. Also, there is only two time slots for dinner, 6:15 and the 8:15 pm, at the two dining halls.
The library was very small and paying for the highest package of internet service really is not worth paying for especially while you are sailing in the open seas, that would be the Gulf of Mexico for us.
Finally, I have for you a detailed summary of this cruise, the Carnival Dream.
To have your best cruise possible, book early and pay for all the extra’s ahead of time. Some of these extra’s runs out even before the sail date. We got the couples access to Thermal Suites and the Thalassotherapy pool in the Cloud 9 spa area. With this package, you have private access to four steam room types of varying temperatures and all equipped with ceramic heated lounge type chairs, two large showers with several options of where you want the water to spray you, a relaxation area with water, tea and coffee, private men’s or women’s locker rooms equipped with electronic key pad lockers, sinks with hair dryers, bathroom, and two spacious shower rooms with jet streams of water that can shoot out from the side if you wish. Finally, you get access to the private thalassotherapy pool to soak in and lounge while bubbles message your body.
Located near the Cloud 9 spa area is the regular gym equipped with machines, some weights in the form of rubber barbells, lots of treadmills and ellipticals, a few stationary bikes and a row machine. You then have the general men’s and women’s locker rooms equipped with two over-sized showers, bathroom, sinks with hair dryers, a steam room and each general locker rooms exit to a small hallway that leads to a coed sauna. Obviously, you must wear swimsuit attire in all the areas except for what is in the locker rooms. Thus, there is only one steam room where complete nudity would be allowed but most guys do wear a towel while in that room located in the general men’s locker room.
In short, I would say it is a must to pay for the Thermal Suite and Thallasotherapy pool so you can enjoy it throughout the cruise from 8 am to 10 pm. Just prepay online and visit the spa Cloud 9 reception area on Deck 12 forward to check in every day.
I really enjoyed the breakfast as it is my favorite meal of the day. You have mainly two options. The sit down dining hall on Deck 3, aft (Scarlett lounge) or the deck 10 aft (Grand Buffet) buffet style where you sit yourself. The sit down dining hall breakfast has the food better prepared, and at one of the days, had better options. I only ate breakfast on that special day, the King’s Brunch on Saturday, and the rest of my time at the Grand Buffet which has the better view and you don’t have to wait to be seated. There is everything you could wish for at breakfast. Sausages, potatoes, hash browns, grits, toast, pancakes, waffles, fruits, eggs, omelet station, and eggs benedict covered in hollandaise sauce. During breakfast, you can also drink all the orange juice with pulp you want. The other benefit of the Grand buffet, especially after breakfast, are the desert stations, pasta Italian section, sandwich section, Mongolian stir-fry station, Indian foods, pizza, American-Mexican foods, and juicy burgers with crispy fries. Best time for breakfast at Grand Buffet is early during open sea cruise days and late on excursion days (Wed – Fri). The Grand Buffet is typically open from 6:30 to 10:30 am. You can always get your fill of water, tea and coffee all day and night. Orange juice are served only during breakfast and sodas are purchased for a few dollars at the bars.
I never got to try the BBQ area on Deck 5, mid Starboard as it had a long line the first day and it never seem to re-opened afterwards. I also didn’t try the sushi bar which you pay extra. There is a finer, dining option but for an extra $35 per person during supper. We did indulge in some gourmet coffee for a few more bucks. It is located on Deck 5 mid, Starboard where you will also find more desserts selections and ice cream for a few bucks more.
There are many activities you can do and pre-pay for your excursions on these islands you will visit. We chose the Segway tour and beach time at the Grand Cayman’s. That was fun especially when riding those new and well-maintained large, all-terrain wheel segways on the beach. Afterwards, you can relax in the ocean, lounge on the chairs of the beach or go into the private pool area which has a swim up bar. By the way, if you use one of their umbrella’s, the workers at the beach will ask for $5. Bring your towels from the ship though. You will need them at the private shower and bacthroom areas. We never had to wait much getting off and back on the ship. I just arranged a later departure time and got back to the ship on the early side. The bottleneck is at the elevators when you return. I just go up one flight of stairs from deck 0 to 1, walk to the set of elevators where people are not coming aboard (usually the aft). You have three sets of elevators to choose from and boarding typically uses two of the three (typically mid and forward elevators).
Cruising the Gulf of Mexico can be a little choppy. If you are feeling a little nauseous, go to the forward of deck 12 and watch the waves come towards you as you concentrate on the feeling of each wave coming at you and leaving you as you pass it. It helps. Don’t forget to go there while leaving port Sunday evening as you cruise down the Mississippi river and do the same coming back to New Orleans early Sunday morning a week later.
Just right for a couple.