Carnival Dream with young children and older folks: Carnival Dream Cruise Review by chinamom0608

Carnival Dream 3
Member Since 2011
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Carnival Dream with young children and older folks

Sail Date: February 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
Before we went on this cruise, we tried to find information about cruising with young children and came up short, so this is for anyone who is thinking about traveling with little ones and a couple of older folks. BTW, we are past cruisers (4x Disney Magic, 1x Royal Caribbean Liberty) but this was our first Carnival cruise.

Overall, we had a nice time, but then getting out of 18" of snow and sub zero temps at home to 80* temps in the Caribbean, how could we have not had a nice time? :) The ports of call were fine - our itinerary was for Cozumel, Belize, Roatan Honduras and Costa Maya. Due to high winds the ship was unable to dock in Roatan (which was a big disappointment, as the stop in Roatan was the primary reason we booked this ship and this sailing). But you can't fault the captain for bad weather and we had another day at sea, cruising slowly toward the next day's stop, Costa Maya.

Finding things to do with little ones and older folks proved a challenge, but we More were able to find nice beaches in both Cozumel and Costa Maya.

The best parts of the cruise (other than the weather) were the quality and quantity of the food (though that's not really a big thing for us, the food was really good -- compared to our beloved Disney Magic, on which the food is only so-so, the food on the Carnival Dream was great!). The girls enjoyed their Camp Carnival experiences, though compared to Disney, the activities were lacking. Still, they had fun and came back to us with faces painted and temporary tattoos on a couple of occasions! The pools were a big hit, though small, but our daughters simply loved the hot tubs best.

The entertainment was okay, but not nearly as family friendly as the Disney ship, though a couple of the family-friendly comedians were great. The "big" shows were much too loud to really enjoy, and one of them (the one deemed "Not To Miss" was entertaining -- singing, dancing and acrobatics -- but inappropriate, in parts, for the youngest cruisers. I was very uncomfortable with my 4 & 5 year olds listening to songs about prostitutes and the seedy New York nightlife (some of the costumes were way too sexy for little eyes!) and left before the show was over, but was dismayed to see the 6-11 year old Camp Carnival kids in the audience as a group activity. Unfortunately, though, our room was directly over the Encore Lounge and we heard every show (twice) each night.

The worst part of the cruise was the incessant smoking by other passengers. Smoking is apparently permitted just about everywhere on the ship except in the restaurants and staterooms (though the 6th floor forward always smelled smokey in the hallways). Smoking is also allowed on the verandas and every time we went out on our balcony our neighbors decided they needed a smoke break on theirs. Very unpleasant. Also, the designated smoking areas (on decks and in bars) did not have great ventilation systems, so walking through them, or near them, was awful for people who cannot stand the smell. Is there such a thing as a smoke free cruise ship? If so, I'd book our next cruise in a heartbeat!

Our stateroom was great - lots of storage space for a family of four. Plenty of closet space for hanging things an ample cupboards and drawers for folded items. In fact, we found as we were packing to go home, two HUGE storage drawers under the couch/bed in our room! Never knew they were there. I wish that there had been a curtain between our bed and the bunked beds, as our daughters had to go to bed much earlier than we wanted to, and since our neighbors were usually smoking on their balcony, we were trapped in our room with little girls who didn't want to sleep as long as a light was on! The bathroom was adequately sized, but had a shower only (no tub). The lip to the shower area was only 1 1/2 inches high and was not effective in containing the water that splashed over it. Fortunately, the entire floor was made of the same material as the shower and there was a floor drain so it the water was easy to mop up.

Unlike the Disney ship, you are assigned a table and wait staff in the same restaurant each night. If you arrive early, you stand a good chance of getting your food in a timely manner. If not, you might be sitting there for a good long while (which is difficult with little kids who get bored easily). We ended up eating up on the 10th floor Gathering Restaurant several nights just to expedite the process and found the "alternative dining" menu varied and delicious. If we were to book again, I think we'd have dinner at The Gathering every night and skip the formal restaurants.

One more thing, the ship automatically deducts a gratuity for your dining room servers/stateroom stewards and miscellaneous other folks ($70 per passenger). This was irritating to us as we were not aware that they would automatically add it to our bill and effectively removed our option of awarding gratuities according to level of service. Recommended amounts were $5.50 per person per day for dining room servers, $3.50 per person per day for room stewards, and $1.00 per person per day for "other"). Guest services removed these automatic charges and allowed us to specify the gratuities we wanted to give to these people. Less

Published 02/28/11

Cabin review: 8A6-246 Balcony

6th floor is tricky on the Carnival Dream. We were in 6-246, port. If you're forward, you're over the 3 story Encore Theater and it is LOUD when they are doing shows or BINGO there. Also, the 5th level Promenade is bumped out around the entire ship, so the 6th floor balconies are really over that and not the ocean -- that wasn't a problem for us, but for some other rooms on the 6th floor, their balconies would be over the bumped out and elevated hot tubs which would allow hot tubbers a glimpse into your stateroom. Also, there is a large outdoor smoking area on deck 5 midship (between the hot tubs) and the smoke wafting up and back would have been more than I could bear. Noise from the hallway wasn't too bad, but the sound of slamming doors got tiring after a while (especially early in the morning and late at night!). Two of our party were across the hall in an inside cabin (nice use of space, very comfortable) but heard the shows in the Encore theater even more loudly than we did across the hall. They were unable to tune it out and did not get to sleep until the late show was over each night. Balcony doors seem to have been retrofitted with closing mechanisms that stop the problem of slamming (a problem I read about in several Cruise Critic reviews). If I were to sail again on the Dream, I wouldn't choose a cabin on the 6th floor. I'd either go higher on the ship or lower, but would not want to be in the front of the ship and have to hear the activity in the Encore Lounge twice each night from the room.

Read All Balcony (8A) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Belize City - we had to tender in (about a 30 minute boat ride). We chose to leave the little girls and older ladies on the ship (the ladies had no interest in trying to tender on the wavy sea and we didn't have an excursion planned so just my husband and I went). First, though, we had to go to the Burgundy Lounge to get a tender group number. Once at the cruise ship passenger area, we bypassed all of the standard shops and set out on foot through the city, with no real destination in mind. We had read reviews that this might be dangerous, but never felt in any danger at any point during our 3 hour self-guided excursion in Belize City. There were many locals who tried to interest us in their guide services or taxi services, but once we said a firm "no" they left us alone. We walked several blocks to the Belize Museum (housed in a former prison - very cool building!) and paid $5 USD each to enter. Typical museum, but we found some interesting exhibits and learned some things we didn't know. Then we just started walking, with no destination in mind. We weren't bothered by anyone on the streets except for one very polite 6th grader who asked us for $1 for a fundraiser at his school. One note on walking in Belize though: the sidewalks are in awful shape, with many missing pieces of concrete, it would be nearly impossible to push a stroller or wheelchair there!

Roatan - as I mentioned, it was too windy and wavy to dock there (though the slightly smaller Carnival Legend was able to successfully). We were planning to rent a van ($75 USD) to explore the island ourselves, as we had been there 21 years ago and wanted to see all of the changes time and the cruise ship industry brought to our Honeymoon Island. Very sad that we weren't able to dock there.

Costa Maya - the Captain had a difficult time docking there, but did meet with success and we bypassed all of the standard cruise ship owned stores (more on this later) and got a taxi ($2 per passenger) to the little fishing village down the road from the cruise ship area ($12 each way). Once there, we were bombarded with locals selling things and trying to get us to sit in their beach chairs. We were told that using the beach chairs was free, but in the end, our server had added $24 to our table bill for using their chairs. We protested, and the charge was taken off. The beach was beautiful and very relaxing. Many locals approached our table during the day offering things for sale and offered to serenade us with music, but all were very polite and left after we said, "no thank you". There was one older man who didn't try to sell us anything, but simply asked for money. There are many little shops lining the single street in the village, all desperately trying to get customers to come into their store and buy from them, but almost all of them quit trying when we said "no" or came in and looked without buying anything. Be warned: many places offer the same goods, in many cases in various conditions, and the prices fluctuate wildly. There are also many opportunities to go para-sailing, sea dooing, fishing trips and other activities on this pretty beach. After settling our bill (we had a couple of buckets of beer, chips and salsa (awesome salsa!) several local dishes and a whole red snapper plate -- our bill came to $128 USD but then we made them take the chair rental off (they had told us the chairs were free to use). Still a great day on a beautiful beach and worth the $100 USD we paid for all of the food and drink.

The cruise ship area at Costa Maya is very nice and new. Lots of shops (very overpriced compared to the little shops at the fishing village) but many things to look at and buy if you're not adventurous. Also, there is a beautiful, shallow pool that is free to use and a small beach area in front of the pier.

Read 1761 Costa Maya Reviews

Cozumel - we took our group of 6 to Paradise Beach ($28 for cab fare, each way for the 6 of us). Use of beautiful beach, swimming pool, clean bathrooms and changing areas for $2 per person (they did not charge us for the little ones), but there is a $10 minimum bar/restaurant charge per adult. Also, there are fun inflatable floats in the water and floating lounge pads available, but there is an additional charge for using them (we chose not to). Hair braiding, temporary tattoos and massages are available for extra fees (btw, we had our girls' hair braided and it was much more affordable than I thought it would be -- just the front braids, leaving the back long, with bead accents was $45 for both of them, plus tip). Food was very good (excellent guacamole and salsa!) and we had no problem meeting our $40 minimum for the 4 adults in our party.

Read 5470 Cozumel Reviews

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