Marella Dream Cruise Review by OpheliaS
- Sail Date: December 2011
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
As DH was travelling in a wheelchair and I'm disabled too I was dreading the arrival in Barbados and trying to clamber into a coach. We were asked to remain behind and then lifted off and escorted to a waiting taxi. On arrival at the ship we zoomed through all the check-in procedures because of the wheelchair and were soon in summer clothes sipping a cocktail in the sunshine.
Our cabin, deck 7 inside was close to the lifts and very convenient for most places we visited regularly, there was never any noise day or night and although the cabin was small (we had to store a wheelchair and a walker in there too), it was clean and adequate for sleeping, showering and changing. I wouldn't hesitate to pick these cabins again, 7134 and 7136. The bed was large and comfortable and the shower was superb, never a shortage of boiling hot water or pressure, it was much better than our shower at home. The provided shower gel was rather thin, but ok and the shampoo was fine. The tap water was drinkable, but not good after standing for a few minutes.
We were told our suitcases could take up to 3 hours to arrive at the cabins and mine did! First evening we dressed for dinner had a cocktail in Oceans bar and went to eat in the Orion restaurant. Thankfully I'd been warned on Cruise Critic that portions were small, that was an understatement and my kids were not impressed! We continued to dine here every evening, so DH and I were satisfied, but the kids left us after a couple of days, only to return to eat with us on formal evenings. The call of all you can eat, when you want it was too strong in comparison to what my son called wait thirty minutes for one Dorito! We were cared for by Lito, Iqbal and Lito the wine waiter each night, they were delightful and I hope to meet them again one day.
Breakfast and most lunches we ate in the Lido, again the staff were really helpful, especially when they saw us struggling with our trays. I'm afraid the food didn't always appeal to me, the bacon was stewed/broiled and I only ate it once, but DH tucked in every day. The cooking method seemed to apply to most meat and at times I found it nauseating, but I didn't complain to them so I shouldn't complain to you! I was surprised as well that there wasn't more fish on the menu. DH (who will eat most things) thought the food overall was excellent, I thought it was rather "institutional" and gorged myself on the plethora of fresh fruit that was always available.
After dinner on the first night we retired to the Oceans bar where we were entertained by barmen Lorenzo and Florens, as creatures of habit we returned here each evening. It wasn't long before my mojito and DH's pint were waiting for us when we sat down. We had the AI which we paid full price for and still I wouldn't hesitate to pay for it again. The bar staff everywhere were excellent, nothing was too much trouble. Any drink we wanted, even cider that wasn't available in every bar was soon at your table, a waiter or waitress having been dispatched to another bar to get the drink we required.
We only visited the theatre on two occasions, Motown and the Crew show, both times the entertainment was excellent. My son went several times and overall he said it was good, but both he and my daughter were very disappointed with the comedians, this seemed to echo what we heard from others. The female singer in the Medusa bar, we were told was a must to avoid and having heard her when we were going up to deck 8 from the restaurant I understood why! DH sang on the Karaoke in the Medusa bar and some people we'd never seen before said he'd been by far the best singer they had heard in there, including all the professionals! The trio in the Oceans Bar were excellent and the bar was packed each night. The violinist in the Argo lounge sounded good and well received by the audience. Stephen Guy was always around and listened to any complaints or comments, but we and a lot of people we spoke to didn't care for his understudy (so memorable I forget his name!) He told a tasteless joke about a waiter in the Crew show and most people we spoke to afterwards were unimpressed.
We went on some of Thomson's excursions, some from Cruising Excursions and did some things alone. We found all the excursions good value for money, but the kids were rather disappointed when their zip slide trip in Costa Rica was cancelled because of lack of numbers. My daughter, Rachel, fell as our catamaran pulled in at the end of our trip in Jamaica, the Thomson rep on board organised a wheelchair back to the ship and an emergency visit to the doctor. The doctor was excellent and quickly reassured her. We had to visit him several more times and he came to her cabin on a few occasions to check on her progress, he was helpful and kind despite his rather austere Eastern European accent. The day after her fall we were at sea so the following day he sent us to the local hospital in La Romana (Dominican Republic). We were accompanied by a Thomson rep, which was good I thought, however, she didn't speak a word of Spanish, so it's a good job I do! Rachel was given a plaster cast up to her knee and told to take it easy for a few weeks, because of this we didn't go on any more excursions.
The usual problem with reserved sunbeds reared its ugly head and Stephen Guy issued a warning once over the PA, but nothing was done about it except by individuals. I'd heard that the captain was quite a wit and enthralled the passengers each day with his humorous stories, but I heard nothing at all other than the expected weather and travel details for the day. The public rooms were always clean and tidy and the Ladies' toilets were always being cleaned and never lacked paper, soap or towels. Almost anything we could have forgotten to bring was available on board, but the prices were very expensive. The duty free was well stocked, but unfortunately DH didn't get my subtle hints until a necklace I fancied had gone! The staff were all excellent in every area and rarely would any of them pass without a cheerful greeting.
Disembarking was not as well organised as embarkation. As we came off the ship a mini-bus that was waiting for disabled passengers had been commandeered by anyone who didn't fancy the walk to the buses, however when we arrived at the airport everything was much better organised.
Overall we had a fantastic time, the kids and DH had never been on a cruise before, but they have now got the bug and are already planning our next trip. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Dream to anyone.
The cabin, deck 7 inside was close to the lifts and very convenient for most places we visited regularly, there was never any noise day or night and although the cabin was small (we had to store a wheelchair and a walker in there too), it was clean and adequate for sleeping, showering and changing. I wouldn't hesitate to pick these cabins again. The bed was large and comfortable and the shower was superb, never a shortage of boiling hot water or pressure, it was much better than our shower at home. The provided shower gel was rather thin, but ok and the shampoo was fine. The tap water was drinkable, but not good after standing for a few minutes. Plenty of room in wardrobe for two weeks worth of clothes for two people. Kept immaculately clean and towels replaced whenever we required them, somtimes when we didn't need them to be!