We picked this cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We live in Alabama, so we kept our expenses down by sailing out of New Orleans rather than Florida. My husband had always wanted to go scuba diving in Grand Cayman, while I was ... Read More
We picked this cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We live in Alabama, so we kept our expenses down by sailing out of New Orleans rather than Florida. My husband had always wanted to go scuba diving in Grand Cayman, while I was interested in seeing Jamaica, so we picked the Montego Bay/Grand Cayman/Cozumel itinerary. We stayed in a spa interior cabin.
The Dream is lovely. Public décor often reached the level of glitz and sparkle you might see at Christmas, though there were a variety of colors used throughout the ship. Private areas had a calmer décor. The hallways had drawings of the classic cruise experience, which I enjoyed.
The ship seemed very clean, and the crew was constantly working to keep it that way. There were a few rust spots on some outdoor stairs, and some on the outside of the ship, but those were being worked on as well. On both our Jamaica port day and debarkation day, I saw people painting the outside of the ship.
Embarkation was very smooth. We had a 10:30 check-in time. The lines moved quickly and we were in the waiting area by a little after 11. The first people boarded around 11:30. We were in zone 8, which was called around 11:45.
The spa was lovely! The three steam rooms were not the same temperature, so people could choose the ones they liked best. I found two of them pleasant, but the third was too hot for me. The tepidarium is very relaxing – it is easy to fall asleep in there. The relaxation room has several cushioned chairs and foot rests – and a beautiful view of the ocean. They had regular ice water, lemon and orange-flavored water, and teas. They also had a plate of apples available. The thalassotherapy pool was kept at a comfortably hot temperature. It was slightly warmer than the whirlpools on the Serenity deck, but not much. The private steam rooms and thalassotherapy pool were never crowded. The most people I saw in a room at one time were 6 – once in one of the steam rooms, and once in the thalassotherapy pool.
While my husband liked the heat in the steam rooms and thalassotherapy pool, he did not like the smell of the spa in general, or the scent used in one steam room in particular. The chlorine in both the thalassotherapy pool and whirlpools bothered his eyes if he stayed in more than 10-15 minutes. However, those things did not bother me.
All food venues we tried were good to excellent (better than Golden Corral but not the level of fine dining). The food was good quality and served hot, no matter where we ate. We enjoyed the quieter and slightly more formal atmosphere of the dining room and Pasta Bella. It could be difficult to find a spot in the Lido at times. Free beverages included water, milk, juices, lemonade, and tea. We thought the lemonade was excellent, but the tea did not appeal to us.
The Serenity deck was a great place to be during the earlier part of the morning, but even later in the day it was not often crowded. The hot tubs there were hotter than the ones in other areas of the ship. We enjoyed the hot tubs on the Serenity, deck 11, and the Lanai, but never tried the ones by the aft pool, as they stayed more crowded. Minigolf was fun, and the time we tried it was not very crowded. We didn’t try the pools or Waterworks areas.
I attended a couple of lectures done by the art gallery. Even though they were only 30 minutes long, they helped me understand and enjoy more types of art, and I found them very interesting. The music in the atrium was excellent, and we were sorry we didn’t have more time to just sit in there and enjoy it. We attended 2 playlist productions. I didn’t care for Motor City. While on a technical level the singing and dancing were well done, that kind of music and dance style does not appeal to me. However, we really enjoyed Flick. Some of the special effects were phenomonal, and the integration of dance with laser was beautifully done.
On the morning of debarkation we ate in the Scarlet restaurant. It was a nice way to end the cruise. There were places near the entrance to leave our luggage (we were doing self-assist). As noted by others, the crew was a little less friendly and engaging because they were getting ready for the new group who would be boarding. However, service was good. We got into line when we were ready, about 9 am. The lines were long, but moved steadily. It probably took us 40 minutes from the atrium until we were in a taxi heading to our hotel.
Montego Bay was humid, but very pretty. We booked a tour with Braco Adventure Tours. The guide told us a little about Montego Bay as we drove along, and we enjoyed the scenery once we were out of the city. It was about a 40 minute drive to the Rio Bueno where we were doing our excursion. I went tubing, but my husband wasn’t feeling well, so he elected to go rafting. The tubing was fun – much of it in the shade, and the class 1 and 2 rapids were just the right amount of thrill for me. I saw a white egret while were tubing down the river. After going over the last rapids, we all got in a raft and they towed us to a pretty little beach a short distance away. Lunch, snacks, and souvenirs were available for purchase. There was an outdoor shower to rinse off, and indoor bathrooms and changing stalls. We spent about an hour there. On the way back, the guide stopped at a souvenir shop and our group made the purchases we wanted. Traffic was heavy as we drove back into Montego Bay, and it was close to 2:30 before we got back on the ship.
Grand Cayman was an easy, beautiful day. Because my husband had congestion, we canceled our scuba excursion with Carnival and went snorkeling at Eden Rock. Really beautiful coral and clear, calm water. We saw a lot of fish, including plenty of blue tang, but also a nurse shark and 4 large rainbow parrotfish. It was not crowded at all. A couple of times tour boats stopped in the area, but there were never more than 20 people in the water at any one time, and usually a lot fewer. It was an easy walk to and from the tender pier. Even though we didn't get to go scuba diving, it ended up being a great day.
For Cozumel, we had booked tickets to Chankannab Beach Adventure Park with snorkel equipment rental included. Again, very good snorkeling, though the water was a little rougher. We saw some coral formations at a shallow depth, and there was a lot of marine life. We saw lots of zebrafish and others which would swim within a few inches of us. One of the most interesting fish we saw was a tiny dark blue fish which had turquoise spots. The spots looked like they were glowing. We also saw a sea snake. We visited the crocodile exhibit and the archeological section of the park with Mayan replicas. The park has good facilities. We liked that there were indoor showers along with the toilets and changing areas. We shopped a little at the port before reboarding the ship. My husband bought a nice leather belt.
New Orleans. We went to Vieux Carre Baptist Church after debarkation. We had planned to just walk around Jackson Square and the Riverwalk that afternoon, but on the spur of the moment bought tickets for a city bus tour. Again, very interesting and we learned a good bit about New Orleans.
My husband did get sick for part of the cruise - cough and congestion. Carnival staff were kind and helpful. Our room steward gave us some cough drops, and the wait staff in the dining room were willing to send up a plate of food for him when I asked.
Overall, this was a good experience (except for my husband getting sick, which wasn't Carnival's fault). We tend to enjoy quieter activities, with just a little entertainment thrown in. Carnival delivered just fine. We would like to cruise again in the future, and would definitely consider going on Carnival again. Read Less