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***Exclaimer***I’m realistic, so my opinions and review take that into account. That being said I don’t hand out excellent evaluations unless I feel it is absolutely deserved. Our cruise was to celebrate our anniversary, we traveled without our children but with another couple who were on the lido deck. We originally booked a lower level balcony cabin but were offered an upgrade to a Spa balcony room. At first my wife was a little worried being that high up and so close to the bow of the ship. We were pleasantly surprised with this choice in cabins, my wife was not affected by any motion sickness, and the convenience of the Spa and Serenity deck was a definite plus. Embarkation We purchased faster to the fun, not knowing what to expect at the port and because the couple we were traveling with had as well. In my opinion I don’t know if the value is there, other than the priority boarding, I think that’s where the value ended. Our bags did not arrive in our rooms any earlier and there is really no other FTF lines on the boat or perk worthy of the fee. The bonus we had for FTF was we were able to get on ship when they opened the doors per say, we had our fill of New Orleans the night before so getting on the ship earlier than our scheduled embarkation was nice. Cheers package I will start with the Cheers package, we pondered that for some time and ultimately purchased it. We are social drinkers so 15 alcoholic drinks were probably do-able on sea days for me, not so much my wife…but on port days we felt it would be a little more of a stretch. Here is how it actually panned out. I got my moneys worth, I met the 15-drink maximum on one occasion. It was a sea day with some pool, casino and comedy club time involved, so a long day of living it up. The rest of the days I am positive it was worth the money for me. My wife on the other hand, she had the 5 break even drinks on most days and on the days she didn’t, my drinks made up where hers missed. The drinks I had were $9 dollars on average all trip (maybe more if I actually do the math), so the total cost for both her and I including the other non-alcoholic drinks and additional waters etc. was worth it in our opinion, so much so that we plan on purchasing the Cheers package again on our next trip, even with our children going. I will say aside from the occasional bartender with a heavy hand, the drinks were pretty tame, so maintaining a “good” buzz will almost guarantee you having to have the 5 drink minimum to break even. Meals I am from Nevada, home of the buffet line so I do not expect 5-star meals to be doled out one scoop at a time, but I didn’t have anything from the buffet that made me cringe. That’s the greatest thing about a buffet, if you have something you don’t like, you can go get something else, something you love, go get more. The American dream, right? We tried a little something from just about every specialty food Guys burgers, Pig and Anchor the tacos, pasta bar Mongolian Wok…all good, nothing bad to report other than wait times because of the limited hours of operations for those areas. Nothing truly vacation ruining. Bonzi Sushi and the Seafood Shack were great as well we had lunch at both and would spend the extra money again Scarlet Dining Room Our experience was wonderful bordering excellent (see exclaimer). Our wait staff was great the head waiter Christian worked his tail off! He was very good at what he does, he took the time to get to know our table. Treated us as if we were his only table, I can say that he was excellent! I hope our paths cross again someday. The food, we had 4 of our 7 dinners in the SDR, all were great. The selections, the appetizers and deserts were all paired very well. Christian was very knowledgeable and attentive to all of out likes and dislikes and made great suggestions when we were not sure and even made a point to order both dishes if we were on the fence and doubled our order when he knew we would love something. Stake house We were cruising to celebrate out anniversary and on our last cruise we didn’t get the chance to try the Steakhouse, so why not right. Well frankly it left a lot to be desired, again not vacation ruining, but our SDR dinning experience was just better. The additional money spent was just not worth it in our opinion. The ambiance was much quieter yes, the presentation was wonderful and our waitstaff was good. BUT at time we felt like we were being squeezed for that extra $80 bucks by Carnival. I don’t think I’m a snob by any means, and the $80 was not a game changer but we have had better steakhouse experiences. Again, I want to be realistic with my review, I just can’t say that our experience was worth the added expense. Overall Experience Our over all experience was very good, there was not enough mediocre or bad to rate the experience any lower, so it was a great time and I would not hesitate to take this cruise again. I could write about all of the little things that were bad but looking back on it, not many of them were Carnivals fault, sure certain things could have been more enjoyable. But I was able to make my trip the best by enjoying my beautiful wife and good friends and just go with the flow…just relax you’re on vacation. Hope this helps :)

Lengthy But Realistic Review

Carnival Dream Cruise Review by JandA LaFollette

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
***Exclaimer***I’m realistic, so my opinions and review take that into account. That being said I don’t hand out excellent evaluations unless I feel it is absolutely deserved.

Our cruise was to celebrate our anniversary, we traveled without our children but with another couple who were on the lido deck. We originally booked a lower level balcony cabin but were offered an upgrade to a Spa balcony room. At first my wife was a little worried being that high up and so close to the bow of the ship. We were pleasantly surprised with this choice in cabins, my wife was not affected by any motion sickness, and the convenience of the Spa and Serenity deck was a definite plus.

Embarkation

We purchased faster to the fun, not knowing what to expect at the port and because the couple we were traveling with had as well. In my opinion I don’t know if the value is there, other than the priority boarding, I think that’s where the value ended. Our bags did not arrive in our rooms any earlier and there is really no other FTF lines on the boat or perk worthy of the fee. The bonus we had for FTF was we were able to get on ship when they opened the doors per say, we had our fill of New Orleans the night before so getting on the ship earlier than our scheduled embarkation was nice.

Cheers package

I will start with the Cheers package, we pondered that for some time and ultimately purchased it. We are social drinkers so 15 alcoholic drinks were probably do-able on sea days for me, not so much my wife…but on port days we felt it would be a little more of a stretch.

Here is how it actually panned out. I got my moneys worth, I met the 15-drink maximum on one occasion. It was a sea day with some pool, casino and comedy club time involved, so a long day of living it up. The rest of the days I am positive it was worth the money for me. My wife on the other hand, she had the 5 break even drinks on most days and on the days she didn’t, my drinks made up where hers missed. The drinks I had were $9 dollars on average all trip (maybe more if I actually do the math), so the total cost for both her and I including the other non-alcoholic drinks and additional waters etc. was worth it in our opinion, so much so that we plan on purchasing the Cheers package again on our next trip, even with our children going. I will say aside from the occasional bartender with a heavy hand, the drinks were pretty tame, so maintaining a “good” buzz will almost guarantee you having to have the 5 drink minimum to break even.

Meals

I am from Nevada, home of the buffet line so I do not expect 5-star meals to be doled out one scoop at a time, but I didn’t have anything from the buffet that made me cringe. That’s the greatest thing about a buffet, if you have something you don’t like, you can go get something else, something you love, go get more. The American dream, right?

We tried a little something from just about every specialty food Guys burgers, Pig and Anchor the tacos, pasta bar Mongolian Wok…all good, nothing bad to report other than wait times because of the limited hours of operations for those areas. Nothing truly vacation ruining.

Bonzi Sushi and the Seafood Shack were great as well we had lunch at both and would spend the extra money again

Scarlet Dining Room

Our experience was wonderful bordering excellent (see exclaimer). Our wait staff was great the head waiter Christian worked his tail off! He was very good at what he does, he took the time to get to know our table. Treated us as if we were his only table, I can say that he was excellent! I hope our paths cross again someday.

The food, we had 4 of our 7 dinners in the SDR, all were great. The selections, the appetizers and deserts were all paired very well. Christian was very knowledgeable and attentive to all of out likes and dislikes and made great suggestions when we were not sure and even made a point to order both dishes if we were on the fence and doubled our order when he knew we would love something.

Stake house

We were cruising to celebrate out anniversary and on our last cruise we didn’t get the chance to try the Steakhouse, so why not right. Well frankly it left a lot to be desired, again not vacation ruining, but our SDR dinning experience was just better. The additional money spent was just not worth it in our opinion.

The ambiance was much quieter yes, the presentation was wonderful and our waitstaff was good. BUT at time we felt like we were being squeezed for that extra $80 bucks by Carnival. I don’t think I’m a snob by any means, and the $80 was not a game changer but we have had better steakhouse experiences. Again, I want to be realistic with my review, I just can’t say that our experience was worth the added expense.

Overall Experience

Our over all experience was very good, there was not enough mediocre or bad to rate the experience any lower, so it was a great time and I would not hesitate to take this cruise again. I could write about all of the little things that were bad but looking back on it, not many of them were Carnivals fault, sure certain things could have been more enjoyable. But I was able to make my trip the best by enjoying my beautiful wife and good friends and just go with the flow…just relax you’re on vacation. Hope this helps :)
JandA LaFollette’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Spa Balcony
Cabin 8P 12217
Our cabin was exactly what we expected, our room was read the moment we got on the ship. Our steward was great, we didn’t ask too much of him, but he was very attentive when we needed.

We would book this deck again; the room was conveniently located to the lido deck mid ship pool and all of the action there. Very convenient to the Serenity Deck which was nice, we tried to take as much advantage of that area as we could. If I had one improvement to that it would be the ability to reserve a space in the Serenity Deck area, it seemed as if a lot of people would toss their things on a clam shell and be gone for hours. I know enforcing the”30 minute” rule is probably impossible, but if I was the gran poohbah, that would be something I would consider.
Panorama Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cave-Tubing
    We went on the Private Dry/River cave tubing tour, and to say the least it was excellent. Our tour guide Kurt "Slim" Ferguson was truly a neat guy who loved his country and his job. I would gladly take this tour over again just to enjoy the bus ride with Slim again.

    The Cave tour was great as well, our guide Everett was a wealth of knowledge about the caves and the forest surrounding. Not to mention he was strong as an ox! The man pulled 8 "Healthy" Americans on that river!

    If you have never been to Belize, you have to go! You will want to go again and again!
    View All 328 Cave-Tubing Reviews
  • Cozumel
    We love Cozumel, we wanted to bring something memorable home, so we all got tattoos! Empire Tattoos was clean, well-staffed and half the price of my local shops. All of our tattoos came out great with only one error :) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I got a tattoo in Mexico.

    We rented a Jeep affectionately know as the “Heap”, but the engine started, and the brakes worked as long as you planned accordingly. When I asked if the blinkers worked the attendant said, “This is Mexico my friend, if it starts and it stops you doing good.” What could possibly go wrong :)

    Good Food, Mariachis and a few Sol’s, Always a great time!
    View All 6,553 Cozumel Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cozumel Cruise Port Review
  • New Orleans
    First time in New Orleans and we had a great time, even in the rain. Bourbon street was amazing and I am glad I was able to experience Mardi Gras at least once in my life, checked it off my bucket list.
    View All 608 New Orleans Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's New Orleans Cruise Port Review
  • Beach
    Over all we loved Rotan, but we would not take the excursion again. It started out very unorganized, it didn’t help that some of the people going on the excursion refused to be patient and follow directions. I can’t blame the tour for that, so I didn’t account that in my final rating.

    The excursion was represented different than what we got. In the listing it stated that the paddle boards and other non-motorized water equipment was included. It in fact was not and was an extra fee.
    We did enjoy the beach and had a few drinks from the included bar, but there were not enough beach chairs for everyone, and lot were broken. For the cost I guess it was ok but could have been better. We had lunch at the restaurant onsite and can say that was well worth the $20.00, top 3 ceviche I've ever had.

    Overall the experience was average based on the poor organization, misrepresentation and lack of beach chairs.
    View All 374 Beach Reviews