Carnival Dream Highlights/Critiques/Tidbits of Info: Carnival Dream Cruise Review by CHAMPDDS

Carnival Dream 4
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Carnival Dream Highlights/Critiques/Tidbits of Info

Sail Date: June 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
Just a few odds and ends from our cruise last week to the Western Caribbean on the Dream..We are somewhat experienced cruisers, but all have been with RCCL until this past one, as we opted to give Carnival a try, since we love sailing out of Port Canaveral, and have seen most of the ports that RCCL offers...

No specific order, there are others that have posted lengthy and informative reviews recently, so here are some of the highlights/critiques/ no particular order:

Used Country Inn and Suites-Stay and Park Option..3rd time using them..very efficient shuttle service but they may have gotten a little too popular, as there are a lot of people using them now, and they could easily use a 3rd van now...Van had standing room only both ways...

Embarkation was VERY easy (we love port Canaveral !)..efficient, we arrived at 10:15, and walked right to the desk..on board a little after 11am

SHIP SHAPE-The Dream is in very good shape, well More maintained...We did find the layout much more difficult to navigate that our RCCL ships, with some areas of long passageways, sometimes seeming to be poorly designed. Flow around the photograph area could get very annoying.

CABIN- We had cabins 9284 and 9288, port side connecting rooms, right next to forward elevators, NOT below any major public area, (so they are quieter) and high enough to be private, and not so close to the promenade as the lower levels would be.... Cabins have better utilization of space (than RCCL) and there is plenty of storage. Rooms had connecting balconies as well (in fact from what I could see, all cabin partitions are capable of being opened up-Nice if you are a large group, but want interior privacy of no adjoining door)..what I noticed was the partition between our two rooms swung outward, and partially blocked the view if sitting, other non adjoining rooms, the partition swings inward, leaving actual balcony open...Smoking by next door cabin occupants was as usual annoying, but didn't ruin the experience...

CABIN FRIDGE- Definitely does NOT keep things very cold, slightly below room temp at best...Had ours emptied by steward to hold our bottled water, wine, and sodas...Left my new collapsible cooler, that I bought for the cruise, at home, dang it...

CABIN TEMPERATURE- I like my room VERY cold at night, but despite leaving control set at lowest setting all week, it never really got very cool...

BATHROOM- Still not sure how anyone larger than me ( I am only 5'5" and 130lbs.) manages easily in the shower, but that is a consistent issue on any cruise ship....May bring my own Charmin next time however...HAHAHA

BUNGEE CORD-Glad we brought a set of 4 cords..nice to use for interior and balcony hanging of clothes (best trick is to thread cord through clothes so they don't blow away).

POWER STRIP- a must for charging iPods,cameras, etc..

PASTA BAR- On boarding, found it at 11:45 (sign says open at 12), and were the only family there for a while...very good food, fresh...did not go back after first day though

MUSTER DRILL- I guess the Coast Guard is relaxing their protocol for this now, as we just met in the theatre, left life jackets in the room, for a very informal instruction....No roll call was taken for cabin number accountability as we have had in the past...

SECRET DECK-Found the 'secret deck'..just to say we did...

POOLS/LOUNGERS-I didn't fully appreciate how the complaints of how small the pool sizes were, until a sea day, and it is ridiculous to have a mid-ship pool that small for the volume of people on board...the average hotel pools is larger...benefit is (and maybe what the designers were thinking), more deck space for loungers, but it is comical to look down at the pool and just see people standing, almost shoulder to shoulder, like an open can of Vienna sausages...I never even bothered to get into it...Having the small aft pool also helps to split up the volume of people into 2 distinct parts of the ship, I guess was the thought.

One note I will bring up with any survey from Carnival is that the deck surface near the waterpark area is extremely slippery..and even though some attempts in the wetter areas have been made to use special mats for better walking, I saw numerous slips and falls by adults and children, just simply walking near the areas...The surface may have had at one time a better frictional surface, but Carnival is one slip away from some serious injuries by a guest..

Yes, the loungers near the pool fill up VERY fast...people seem to enjoy being packed side by side to be near the large screen mid-ship, and has been pointed out by so many people, there are PLENTY of chairs around the ship, if you just need a place to sunbathe and do not need to be in the center of the masses..The Lanai has so many empty chairs, even on seas days...We found a GREAT spot for my family, it was on the Deck 14, right near the entrance to the Racer Waterslide (so can get a little noisy)...a group of about 15 chairs at the railing, on the Port side (2 rows of about 20 chairs are in the shaded area as well), bar service from the Serenity Bar, located through the walkway to the Starboard side, and most importantly, only 20 feet from a bathroom...Still can hear the music from the mid-ship pool area...

SERENITY AREA- Nice, quiet...

GYM AREA- Seemed busy most of the time, good selection of equipment

TIPPING- Noticed that Carnival does not have a spot on any receipts to add additional tips if warranted (but RCCL has an extra line on theirs)...would be nice to throw in a little extra for our deck bar service, (and other areas) and just have it added to the bill, but we always brought a bunch of $1's and used those...

Also, I like the usage of the prepaid tip voucher slips and envelopes that RCCL provides to use for the last night, that you can hand to your servers, steward, etc. I had to go and find some envelopes at guest services to put some extra in for some exceptional service from them, but that is just my preference, and not required if you use the standard tip amount...

I found it interesting that an envelope WAS provided for the Maitre D, since they are not part of the standard tip process...I would have not cared as much, but we never met him, nor did he ever introduce himself to us or our table...maybe he just works behind the scenes...

FUNTIMES- Very informative, but found it interesting that there were so many typos throughout it...especially on what should usually be consistent info week to week

ANYTIME DINING- Great option, never waited more than 10 minutes, any night, and we requested the same servers every night which I thought would possibly make it longer, since we liked them so much, but we have a tendency to eat later, around 8ish, so I believe we usually beat the rush. Only drawback is, depending on when you go, you may miss some of the evening server entertainment.

FOOD QUALITY- Found the food to be on par for what we have had on RCCL..always nice to try things I would never order anywhere else...Would say that I found it interesting to see things like "Chicken Fingers and Honey Mustard Sauce' as an appetizer option...seems to cheapen the experience...also, someone needs to let the menu writer know that the plural of shrimp is NOT shrimps...(HAHAHA)

ELEGANT NIGHTS- We dress up, and I have 3 kids that do isn't that hard to do, a simple coat and tie are fine...if you want to wear shorts only...go to the buffet order room service, etc, it is that simple...That being said...consistency would be appreciated...we saw a family of 5 in shorts at a table already eating on elegant night, but also saw a man at a table 10 feet away from them asked to leave and change, who was wearing shorts, when his family came in....

BEER (ATTENTION BEER SNOBS)- Many thanks to CREWSWEEPER, and others, for pointing out the option of the Carnival brand 'microbrew' THIRSTY FROG ALE, available at the ATRIUM BAR on draft (19.5 oz.!)...Although, I prefer pale ales and IPA's, it was a refreshingly good beer, and my pre-dinner ritual all week, I even bought the souvenir glass...this bar is very underused, and right under the piano on the staircase...

RUNNING TRACK- Got at least 2 good runs in early on sea days....RCCL ships we have been on have a line down the middle of the track, and signage to remind people to walk on the right, run on the left, and to avoid walking 3 abreast and blocking the path...The Dream has no such indicators or reminders, so it was difficult to get a good pace going even early morning when it wasn't crowded ...just a little pet peeve of mine to always keep slower traffic to the right so runners/joggers don't have to keep dodging people.

WATERWORKS- Loved the slides...very nice for a quick cool off when out lounging...If you completely lean back on your back, please note that the seams along the tubes will be very rough and scratch you son wore his swim shirt and had no issues..

THE GATHERING- Never had trouble with long lines or finding a table, just be willing to walk further to the back, food was on par for buffet food

CHOCOLATE BUFFET- Saw this on last sea day, very good selection...fruit was great for chocolate fountain, and they dip it for you, so there is no risk of someone 'double dipping'...

NO SHIRT/NO SERVICE- Please, for the love of all things decent and sanitary (and so I can keep my food from coming back up)... don't go into the buffet areas with no shirt on. It's absolutely disgusting to see a shirtless, sweaty hairy man leaning over to grab a hamburger...since common decency doesn't seem to work, perhaps large signs, or staff advising people would help...YUCK !

TANDOORI GRILL-Found this last day, really enjoyed the lunch..I am a very picky eater, but found the spices to be very good break from the main lunch foods..

DINING ROOM FOR LUNCH- Based on CREWSWEEPER's review, we ate the Tex-Mex burger available in the main dining room for lunch one day...Very good !

ROOM SERVICE- Preordered breakfast items a few days, please note that they always seemed to be about 10-15 minutes earlier than the requested time we filled in on the order sheet, so be dressed accordingly...

SUSHI BAR- My 2 daughters are Sushi Lovers and eat it on a regular basis, but the 2 times they went here, they said it was terrible...(The smell of bad fish permeates the area it is in on the ship, in my opinion.)

SHOWS- Of all of the cruise shows we have seen, I must say, the DANCING IN THE STREETS is hands down the best show I have ever seen. You must not miss this...the talent, and amount technical stuff done is great...the neon dancer suits in the dark is the coolest thing ever...

PUNCHLINER COMEDY SHOW- We saw 2 of the family friendly shows..very good, but get there EARLY !...tried to catch an adult show, but arrived too late, and no seats available

ARCADE- My son and I enjoyed many air hockey and gun shooting battles...

LASER SHOWS- Honestly, a waste of time in my opinion...much too windy for the fog machines to create enough fog for the laser to be truly appreciated...Went to 2 shows, and left shortly after they started...

CRUISE DIRECTOR- Gary Brierly was filling in for Butch, I believe...He was energetic without being too annoying, and the kids liked him a lot...No complaints at all...He is good.

PHOTOGRAPHERS- I know it is part of the cruise experience, so don't mind having a few taken...BUT...when we were at Cozumel, trying to get off of the ship, I couldn't figure out why the line was moving so slowly (we were lined up all of the way up the stairwell, even well after they started allowing passengers off)...It seems the photographers were actually taking pictures of people on the gangway, as they exited ! So imagine a bottleneck of people as they are grouped together, blocking the gangway onto the pier...A very poor idea !

EARLY MORNING SHOW- This live early morning show, done by Gary and 'Buttercup' on 2 of the sea days, and broadcast over the poolside big screen, and cabin televisions was very entertaining for my kids, but I became annoyed after about 10 minutes from the 10 year olds calling into the show to give their 'shout outs' ...

HANDSANITIZER DISPENSERS-Located all over the ship, I am a fanatic about clean hands, and so is my family, so we used them all of the time..I really wish others would have utilized them more...

HAND DRYERS- These turbo hand dryers are amazing. Carnival is using a unique tissue dispenser on the back of the public bathroom doors to use to cover the door handle as you exit, with a small trash can outside the bathroom for them to be thrown away...found them to be hard to pull out of the dispenser...One interesting thing about the loud super hand dryers, is that if it is quiet when someone exits the bathroom, you can assume they didn't wash their hands...Yuck !


COZUMEL - We did Nachi Cocom Beach Resort..Nice,all inclusive (liquor too !) and only 100 people admitted per day.

ROATAN- Used Theris Dixon Tours (private, just my family)..did ziplining/monkey park..high winds kept us from MAHAGONY BAY, so we used the COXEN HOLE port

BELIZE- Used NCQ (Nacho and Cynthia)-cave tubing,ziplines

COSTA MAYA-Docked, but left due to high seas/wind damage potential, so just had an additional sea day

DISEMBARKATION- As I mentioned before, I think Port Canaveral has this down to a fairly good system....we were one of the last off, so had to wait a while...

SHUTTLE PICK UP AREA- Not a Carnival issue, but a port issue..this area could easily be much larger, longer and have more signage... it gets quite hectic, and chaotic, when you are not really sure where your shuttle will be pulling in, and then can be a mad rush to get to your particular shuttle van before it fills up and you have to wait for the next one...

So there are my thoughts, certainly don't want to be too critical of Carnival, but just some observations...Both RCCL and Carnival have things they each do better than the other...Given a choice, we would likely choose RCCL, and especially their ship Freedom of the Seas...We like their city street-like center Promenade layout much better... Less

Published 07/03/11

Cabin review: 8C9284 Balcony

Great location, close to forward elevators, but quiet

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