It's important to start off by saying that we had a WONDERFUL time on this cruise. The previous reviews of the Dream on this site were very accurate but I would like to add some additional information that others may find helpful. 1.Embarkation: Our experience was EXCELLENT! We arrived at the port at 11:30 and by 12:30 we had been to our stateroom and were sitting on deck. This was the easiest embarkation we have had and we do not have priority status with Carnival as we have mostly sailed on Royal Caribbean ships in the past. 2. Cleanliness: The ship was exceptionally well-maintained and cleaning was an ongoing process. Our stateroom was immaculate and the bed was extra comfortable!!! My only concern was with the availability of hand sanitizers (since H1N1 we have become sanitizing fanatics!) and the lack of presence of staff to encourage their use (Royal Caribbean has greeters to their buffet dining rooms who also had out hand wipes - this significantly reduces the passing of germs from people handling serving utensils.) I carried sanitizer and wipes with me. 3. Friendliness of staff: In general, staff was very friendly, but there was less 'personalized' friendliness. Our room steward knew our name, but some of the wait staff in the dining room where we had dinner every night of the cruise did not. Our waiter was also not always familiar with the dishes being served and offered no dining suggestions even when we asked for assistance with menu items. On previous cruises, we have gotten to know our waiters very well and had come to rely on them for helpful information about the cruise itinerary,tips on different ports, upcoming events on board, and food selections. We also enjoyed learning about the ataff - where they are from, whether or not they have family, etc . The fact that these were all absent may be a consequence of the mandatory tipping that is now inlcuded and charged to the FunPass account. The Guest Services Staff was very friendly and conscientious. When we registered a complaint, they called our room, left a voicemail and then called back to speak with us. 4. Tipping: Of course, the bar tip is included and Carnival now includes a $70.00 per person charge to tip the room steward, waiter and assistant waiter. We had no problem with this and we did add additional tips for each of them at the end of the cruise because we felt they deserved it (especially the room steward who was incredibly efficient!!). The ship makes a point of the fact that the Maitre D' is NOT included in the prepaid tips and they suggest that each passenger present him with a tip on the last night. In theory, I would have no problem with this, but the Maitre D' in the Crimson Dining room was awful -- he provided no personalized service to us whatsoever and did only a perfunctory 'tour' of the dining room once or twice durnig our 7 day cruise. I resented the idea of feeling pressured to tip someone who did not really earn a tip, but we did give him an nominal amount.
5. Cruise Director and Staff & entertainment: Todd Wittmer seems like a truly nice guy -- someone I wouldn't mind having as a neighbor or brother in law , but I do not think he is very good at being a cruise director.There were multiple 'system failures here'. We attended one comedy club act where there was no one from the cruise director's staff to introduce the comic so he had to introduce himself! The much publicized Mardi Gras deck party was seriously mishandled. The band was not appropriate because no one could dance to the music - there was no music variety (a DJ would have been much more cost effective AND more engaging). For 45 minutes of the 'party' people stood around literally begging (screaming and waving their arms) for beads to be thrown to them. About every ten minutes, the cruise director would shout "Are we having fun?" and "Who wants Beads - Make some noise" - really silly - and a waste of opportunity. The passengers on their own started a conga line - but Todd wasn't ready for that yet, so he made them STOP -- regrouped them for another rock song - THEN said they were going to do the conga. There were no line dances (except I think one) which usually gets the most people out to the dance floor - and no slow dances at all for couples to dance to. There were four different comedians during our cruise - the first two -- A woman (last name Harrison) and a man (Esposito) whose only jokes had to do with being fat and being from the South. This is not entertainment - ... The second pair of comics were MUCH better -- and we chose to attend each of their shows twice. The EDGE was VERY good as was Bob Brizendine. The Carnival Dream Dancers and singers are OK - but not outstanding. We saw ONE good show, but the others were poorly choreographed and kind of 'cheesy'.
The Todd Radio show that is broadcast on the Jumbo Screen Seaside Theater is AWFUL and a real waste of time.
Cabin 6346 - Balcony Stateroom portside-- We were somewhat disappointed that the balconies had doors instead of sliding doors - and the window next to the door is not floor to ceiling. (we adapted!!!) Other than that, the balcony was very nice -- the room itself is very well laid out -- flat screen TV on the wall saves valuable space - and we had more space for unpacking than we knew what to do with. Even the bathroom was laid out very well with lots of storage for toiletries and complimentary soap, shampoo - even disposable razors. The bed was EXCELLENT - very very comfortable and very clean and fresh (white comforter!!)
THe NOISE factor is an issue -- from below in the casino (after the first night, we just ignored it!) - and from next door. Depending on your neighbors, this may or may not be a factor. One neighbor was very quiet - the other was either drunk and loud or snoring -- or sick and hungover - or coughing from too many cigarettes - and yes, we heard ALL of this in our room - through the walls. Fortunately, he seemed to also enjoy his sleep, so our nights were mostly quiet - ...
It's important to note that we are NOT adventurers - we are shoppers and beachers - so these port comments will refer to these kinds of activities! PLEASE consider taking a taxi ($16 one way) to Mr. Sancho's if you like the beach. There is no admission fee to get in, they have a bar and a restaurant, water activities, chairs and umbrellas (chairs are free, umbrellas are $10.00) and the water is BEAUTIFUL!!! It was NOT crowded at all; in fact, at one point Iw as the only person in the water!! They also have clean rest room facilities. We had WONDERFUL day! We also have enjoyed shipping in downtown Cozumel.
YES< BRING BUG SPRAY!!! Mahogany Bay is BEAUTIFUL -- we WALKED off the ship and took the path to the beach. I know it is a 'manmade' resort, but I liked it!! The water is very calm (and not as crystal blue as Cozumel so I was alittle dissapointed there) - but there were plenty of chairs with plenty of shade. The restarant had music and the food was OK. All of the facilities were very clean. I had read previous reviews about the sand fleas so THANK YOU!!! - I bought bug spray to use in Roatan and we did not get any bites at all. There were several people from the ship who had to be treated with benadryl because they ahd so many bites.
Belize was the only port that required a tender. The ship is so far away from the city that you can barely see the island from the ship. Again, we do not do 'adventure' activities, so Belize has less to offer us. I know people who have done the scuba diving, etc. and they have loved Belize. We did a tour of the city with a taxi Driver who was very good and very knowledgeable. Again, take bug spray for the mosquitoes! Other than water activities , Belize does not yet have a lot too offer. There is no real beach to access and shopping is minimal.
I know this is another 'cruise ship creation' but I really liked Costa Maya as well. Be aware there is NO BEACH swimming - but there is an infinity pool and another pool with a swim up bar. Most people were at one of the pools, so we had no problem finding a chair under the shade near the ocean. There is NO CHARGE for these and Costa Maya is a walk from the pier to the beach (about a half mile but there is also a tram). There is more shopping here than I had seen in the past and there are dancers that entertain during the day. The shops that outline the perimeter do not do much bargaining, but the interior 'market shops' do all sorts of bargaining and you can get great deals.
We did not eat in Costa Maya - but lots of people dined at the two story restaurant - and there was food and bar service on the beach as well. We enjoyed Costa Maya very much and would look forward to going there again!