9 Port Canaveral (Orlando) Holiday Cruise Reviews

We sailed out of Port Canaveral on 12/7/14 for a 7 day Western Caribbean vacation. Getting on the ship was no problem. Once on the ship we went to the buffet for lunch. I had a hamburger and some fries....so far so good. No utensils to eat ... Read More
We sailed out of Port Canaveral on 12/7/14 for a 7 day Western Caribbean vacation. Getting on the ship was no problem. Once on the ship we went to the buffet for lunch. I had a hamburger and some fries....so far so good. No utensils to eat with though so it was good I had food I could eat with my hands and not soup or salad! There were also announcements telling us to basically hurry up and eat and leave as they had many people to feed. SERIOUSLY! Hurry up and get out! Yes. I was getting a bad feeling about this one! On to the cabin. The cabin was pretty small for a large ship . We had two adults in the cabin and we couldn't move without kicking the coffee table and wastebasket . I ended up putting the coffee table in the closet and the trash can by the bed. The bed could not be accessed from the side, to get to the end tables, one would have to step or slide over the corner of the bed. This was obviously ridiculous and made the area on the side of the bed useless and wasting the already very limited square footage in the room. I gave up trying to shower with the door closed. I just left the door open and let the water fly everywhere, then put towels on the floor. Otherwise the room was clean and comfortable with the couch in front of the TV. The entertainment on board was pretty good. The Ice show was excellent and the Stage Shows were very good. They also had a comedian/juggler guy that was entertaining albeit somewhat racist. The Acrobat's were fun to watch and the overall entertainment in the theater was very good. The musical venues could have been better. I would have enjoyed more string music and a lot less breaks. Musicians do not need a break every 15 minutes! OH...and the ship was hot. Especially in the elevators. HOT.HOT.HOT! The cabin temp was fine as long as it was set to the coldest setting. The buffet dining was a disappointment with the same food basically...day after day. Pizza was awful. I just ate hamburgers for lunch. I would recommend going to the sit down dining room for breakfast and lunch. Dinner in the dining room was usually pretty good. The food was overall OK with mostly a selection for every taste. I would have preferred it to be hotter but it was never cold. Our wait staff of Sharline and Dennis were courteous and provided friendly professional service. The Maître de visited our table every night to ask about things. I was very impressed by this as I rarely have been visited by them in the past. Service in the lounges was slow because of a lack of staff. With the cruise line pushing the drink plans there is very little effort put into providing drink service. I would have to leave our table and go to the bar and wait for service for 10 or 15 minutes because there was only one bartender. Many of the Drink of the Day specials did NOT provide the souvenir glass that was promised. There was never any explanation as to why. I didn't ask. I had bigger fish to fry! ABOUT THE SHORTENED PORTS...we were notified 24 hours ahead of boarding that the port times were shortened. The ship was limping along a 3/4 speed and needed more sailing times between ports. This made our stops at the private Island in Haiti and the Jamaican and Grand Cayman very short. We felt very rushed to get back on board in time and really detracted from the cruise port experience. We did not make Cozumel at all because an infant had a medical issue and needed to return to Grand Cayman for treatment. Our understanding is that she was flown to Miami and is doing well. Everyone on the ship understood the priority of getting the child treatment. BUT, most were also in agreement that had the ship not been limping along, that we still would have been in Grand Cayman when the emergency occurred AND that even had we needed to return to Grand Cayman we would have been able to make up time in a ship that was functioning correctly. Royal Caribbean hid the fact that The Freedom of the Seas was damaged for weeks prior to our cruise and by doing so provided an inferior cruise experience to the passengers who paid big money for a top notch cruise vacation. Royal made no real apologies for not allowing us to know of the situation beforehand and provided no compensation that I'm aware of to any of the passengers other than the $15 tax on the missed stop of Cozumel. They did not even return the port charges from Cozumel. Maybe RCCL didn't get reimbursed from Cozumel for missing the port. I don't know. I just know that I and practically everyone else felt screwed by Royal Caribbean for their lack of communication and lack of compassion for peoples vacations being compromised . I'm planning on filing a claim with the BBB in an effort to receive some compensation for this cruise. I was told by other cruisers that attempting to get any response from RCCL was nearly impossible. It's also my understanding that some onboard credit and future cruise certificates were given to passengers on previous and prior cruises on the Freedom. I don't know why they felt the need to cheat us on the December 7-14th sailing. Needless to say, it will likely be a long time before I cruise RCCL again...if ever. The cost of the cruise and all associated expenses were approximately $2500 for the two of us and it was not money well spent. One final complaint. OK...two. Disembarkation was a total nightmare with at least a two hour delay getting off. Again, RCCL provided no information about the delay because if they had we could have gone somewhere and just relaxed instead of waiting in limbo for hours in line. I don't know if this delay was RCCL's fault or if it was a port issue that was unavoidable and not RCCL's fault. Now lastly. The day after leaving the ship (Monday) our credit card was charged for the approximate amount of $500 that we spent onboard including tips. That was fine...BUT they also had two $450+ holds on our account for a total of $900+ of money on hold and unavailable to us over and above the valid charge of $500. This money was not released until late in the week and was the cause of concern and worry in the week proceeding Christmas. Normally, when the account is charged for the actual onboard charges the money on hold is released immediately. Why they had two holds totaling $900+ in ADDITION to the actual charge of $500 is beyond me. My girlfriend thinks they are trying to make interest on the money. I think that RCCL is just incompetent! Anyway, that caused unneeded stress for almost a full week after we left the ship. So, If you are looking for a relaxing....refreshing vacation getaway on a cruise I would suggest a different cruise line. It seems to me that Royal Caribbean's glory days are over. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I have sailed a few other ships with carnival before, the last being a couple yrs ago or so. So things have changed and it was interesting. Checking in and checking out of the ship is faster now than ever before which is a plus. The ... Read More
I have sailed a few other ships with carnival before, the last being a couple yrs ago or so. So things have changed and it was interesting. Checking in and checking out of the ship is faster now than ever before which is a plus. The airport transfer is still smooth and hassle free. Embarkation day on 11/20 was good. Got to the ship around 12 noon and breezed right through the check in process. The muster drill is a little easier now too which I like, don't have to bring the life jackets to the drill. I happened to be on this cruise thanks to getting the last available room on the ship. Therefore, I get my set and sail card and see I have the 8:15pm dining. At 1pm I head to the dining room when it opened, to make changes, and got the 6:00pm dining which was cool. The water was very rough heading out on Sunday night the 20th. Was a rough sail all night, the boat rocked pretty good and had people bouncing off walls. Felt like I was hammered but I only had 2 drinks for the night. Bought the bottomless bubbles soda card after I left port for 27.00. Would have costed 29-30.00 in port. Dining staff - Maitre D Orhan was a lame duck. Yes, a lame duck. He really showed no interest in stopping by tables during the week to mingle with the crowd, little to be seen or heard from it seemed like all week. Kind of weird if you ask me when all my past experiences, maitre d's get invovled and their dining room staff involved with their tables. The waiters were ok but nothing to cry home about about. Very low key and straight to business. I also did not leave any tip at the end of the cruise. According the information I read, the tip in the maitre d is not included in the 40.00 billed tips. The food was pretty good though as usual that carnival has had over the years, in the dining room. Food in the other lounges - Pizza I think has gone downhill a little from my past experiences on carnival. Didn't seem like it's the same. They always had soft serve ice cream available. The food cooked around midnight was good and plentiful. Loved the prime rib and chicken. Sandwiches were good, loved their tuna yummy. Also loved all the different desserts they had mmmmmm.. Breakfast was ok but not super great. Eggs are kinda wet and not much taste to them, and they come scrambled. Omlettes are available on request. Room Service- Always got the room service within 20 minutes of ordering every night. I took advantage of it since it is free. The only thing not free is drinks. Even if you have bottomless bubbles they'd charge for it. The chocolate cake thing they have for dessert in room service is soooo yummy. Bar / Drinks - I stay away from the 7.50 drinks of the day as that can rack up the bill pretty quick. The classic mixed drinks run 8.95ish, drink of the day 7.50, and the other mixed drinks run around 6-9.00. In the lounge on the Lido deck where the other food is, there is only Lemonade, White and Chocolate Milk, and Unsweetened Iced Tea as well as coffee. They didnt offer fruit punch which ive had years ago on other ships with carnival, kinda bummed about that. So with no juice really, I took the soda card. Sodas are normally 1.95 each. So 15 sodas for the week breaks you even. I shared my soda card with my mom which is another way to save costs. This time around, I notice carnival actually swipes the set and sail card for the bottomless bubbles soda card, when years ago they just looked for the sticker on the set and sail card. I guess they try to limit people abusing the unlimited sodas (such as passing the card onto others, picking up someones set and sail card and using it, etc). I would just go to 1 bar get a soda, then go to another bar and get the other soda for mom. Real easy. Highly recommend for people looking to save a buck. Staterooms - I had a steward, Edison, he was awesome. Rooms were prepared nicely and perfect each day, couple times a day. Never an issue. Everything worked well, bed was super super comfy as usual. Edison was super friendly and personable, awesome to have staff around that care (unlike the dining room staff). Comedy Shows - Somewhat funny, one guy with cerebral palsy wasnt all that funny, but the other comedian was funny. Couple of R rated comedy shows which was funny as can be. Karaoke - Superstar live is awesome! I love how now they have that on the ships, where people do karaoke along w/ the show band playing the music. Ty, the karoake host, was awesome. She always had me laughing in her superstar live entertainment. She would do the back-up singing for the guest and joke around as well. Showtime Band - Welcome Aboard show was PHENOMENAL. One of the best I seen in years. The Farewell show, the 2nd and final show of the cruise on the last night was lame and not really that entertaining. The dancers were great and good at what they do. Obviously, still very sexually suggestive type of show with their clothing. Cruise Ship Director - What a shame to have this guy Danny being the cruise director. He was really out of the loop most of the cruise except for the morning announcements on what the day is to offer. He really never came on stage in the lounge and had any sort of fun like many other cruise directors i've seen. He never really came around the open areas and mingled with the crowd, and made himself known. Kinda pitiful if you as me. Piano Bar- Barry is the man. He is funny and good with the music. This was a lot of fun to look foreward to every night after midnight until 2-3am. He is a jokester and not just a guy who plays piano all night, well on this cruise anyways. Highly recommend people to hang out with Barry late nights, he is a trip! Freeport Bahamas- Arrived on Monday morning, rolled out of the ship around 10am and went to get a taxi outside the ship (5.00 per person each way, 10.00). Took the ride to Our Lucaya and got dropped off at the central pick up and drop off spot by the stores. Walked 5 minutes back to the beach entrance (next to the police station which the taxi driver will point out, free access). Did the inflatable banana boat ride which was great. It's pulled by someone in a motorized about. The excursion is about an hour and you get it when you arrive at the beach. $25.00 per person which is a steal and a great way to go for a little ride out in the water. It takes you down into this little cove where you get to see dolphins for 5-10 minutes, the ship used in the pirates of the carribbean movie, and some beautiful beach front houses. It's quite a ride on the inflatable banana boat. They provide a life jacket too. Water was warm but it was a little windy. Last taxi pick up was at 4:00 and caught that taxi back to the cruise ship. There is nothing to do around the cruise ship by the way, you end up by oil refineries for those who have never been to freeport. Everything is a taxi ride away or thru a carnival overpriced excursion that will cost you around 60-100.00 per person on average Nassau - Arrived on Tues 11/22 and stayed there overnight til 6:00am on Wednesday 11/23. Ship says, all back on board at 5:30am. Nassau was very very windy and according to the lifeguard at the sheraton resort I went to, it's very normal this time of year, the rough waters and the wind. So that bummed me out. Ended up just laying out on a beach chair at the resort. Admission is 25.00 per person and the bus is 1.25 each way, which leaves 1 block away from the pier and returns to the same spot. Real easy to find the bus, the locals will direct you to where they are. The #10 bus is what will take you to cable beach / breezes / wyndham / sheraton resorts. You do get towel use at the sheraton so leave the carnival towels on ship. Also do get to use snorkels if you want. There are 3 pools. The food at the Sheraton is overpriced, like 15.00 for a burger. So I opted to wait it out til I got back a few hours later to Carlos n Charlies at the pier. The food was amazing there I must say. mmmm Chicken tacos so yummy and well worth the 18.00. The drinks for 5 something each were awesome too yummmy... They do include the tip on the bill there which makes things easy, I think it's 15% if I added it up right. Seaday - Played laser tag which was a ton of fun. At as much food as possible as I did all week. The boat roacked a little in the early evening on wednesday night but wasn't as bad as leaving port on sunday. Ate in the dining room for this final night and the staff did a little entertainment and sang us a song about how now it's time to go and they hope for us to come back to another carnival ship. How it's sad to see us go and so on. Was a great song too I must say. Played the slot tournament and blackjack tournament 2 times each to try and get to the grand final round, but lost both times on both tournaments. The fee to play is 20.00 each time. I didn't play any of the bingo in the lounges all week. That's just a scam that I know will never win haha. They had the hairy chest competition which was kinda lame. There was no "big party" on the lido deck like other carnival ships do on the final night. Kinda bummed about that too.. Dembarkation - Smooth, Fast, Efficient. Everyone was off the ship by 930-10:00am. All in all, not the worst cruise I ever been on, but not the best. There could be much improvements starting with the entertainment staff / cruise director / dining room staff. I'll of course sail carnival and stay loyal to them, I know not all ships can be the same experience since staff move around all the time. I'd recommend this cruise if you want something relaxing and enjoyable. But not for those looking for a grand ol' party. For the 1,000 kids that were on this cruise, I thought camp carnival did a great job keeping them occupied all day and night. Late night they would be running around the ship freely as usual when the parents were at the bar stonefaced. Other than that... happy trails cruisers! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Overview We have been on many cruises, 15+, but most recently cruising has become a Thanksgiving vacation for us over the last 4-5 years. Most recently on Carnival Conquest and RCL Freedom of the Seas in 2009 and 2010. So a log of my ... Read More
Overview We have been on many cruises, 15+, but most recently cruising has become a Thanksgiving vacation for us over the last 4-5 years. Most recently on Carnival Conquest and RCL Freedom of the Seas in 2009 and 2010. So a log of my comparisons will be between those two ships given they are the freshest in my head. Cruise Rather than go over each individual day, below is a list of pros and cons of our cruise based on past experiences; Pros Embarkation/Debarkation - Both unbelievably easy. We drove to Port Canaveral the day before, stayed at the residence inn which was a great hotel. We left the hotel around 11am and were on the ship eating lunch at noon. Debarkation was just as easy. Left our room at 8:00 and were in the car driving back around 9. Port Canaveral is now our favorite port. Service was excellent. Most of the service personnel we interacted with remembered our names and were extremely polite. The personnel just seemed happier than the service personnel on our RCL cruise last year. Kids loved the waterslides. We were parked next to the RCL Oasis at most port which looked excellent to my wife and I, however, when we asked the kids if they would like to go on the Oasis next year, the response was no because they didn't have waterslides.... Food seemed overall good. We are by no means food connoisseur, but everything seemed fresh and tasted good. Shows seemed good and the kids seemed to like them. Kids club was much better than we experienced on the Carnival Conquest and comparable to RCL Freedom of the Seas. For whatever reason, the kids didn't seem as packed in as they did on the conquest even through it was over thanksgiving holiday. Cons Ship size/number of people that were on it. We are use to big ships and the crowded Thanksgiving cruises, but ship just seemed overly crowded. The public areas seemed very similar to the Conquest, but it had an additional 1000 people. The pool areas were especially crowded which is normal, but they never seemed to lighten up where on other ships, later in the afternoon or Island days, it was pretty easy to get a seat, where is wasn't on the Dream. The lines in the buffets were very long so we stuck the dining room for most meals. My take was that at 3500 people it would have been great ship, at 4500 people like our cruise, not so great... We have been to all of the islands in the past so we pretty much knew what to expect. We did have one problem in Nassau because our ship was late. As a result, our ship sponsored shore excursion to Blue lagoon island ran long and instead of dropping us off next to the ship where they picked up us, they dropped us off in the middle of town so we could 'shop' well, we had 15 minutes to get back to the ship before it left so im not sure how much shopping they thought we were going to do. We ended up running back to the ship with 2 kids in tow and barely made it. Talk about stress. Not cool, especially for a Carnival sponsored excursion. Salt water pools. We knew they were salt water before going, but still don't like it. The kids barely swam in them. Stayed mostly on the waterslides which were fresh water. Motion of the Ship. Ive been on a lot of ships in rough seas, but this one seemed to rock more than others. The water we rough during the sea days, but for that size ship, it really bounced around. Glasses fell off our nightstand and broke because of the motion which has never happened to us before. Lots of puking in the public areas... Overall We love cruising and have never had a bad one. On a scale from 1-10, I would rate this one about a 4 mainly because it was just too crowded. We didn't feel the public areas were big enough to accommodate that many people. Again, there were definitely some positives, but I don't think we will do that class of ship again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We are young cruisers (in our 20s) and went on this cruise for a quick getaway during the holidays. Our cruise was from December 23, 2010 to January 1, 2011, which was nice as it encompassed both Christmas and New Years onboard. Generally ... Read More
We are young cruisers (in our 20s) and went on this cruise for a quick getaway during the holidays. Our cruise was from December 23, 2010 to January 1, 2011, which was nice as it encompassed both Christmas and New Years onboard. Generally there are some aspects of the ship we really enjoyed, but a recurring complaint throughout our cruise was the subpar level of service we received from the staff as well as the incredible crowding of the ship - perhaps the crowding caused the poor service? EMBARKATION: Long lines but they moved fairly quickly. CABIN: We were in a cove balcony (2403). We really enjoyed it - it was spacious and the balcony was really great, close to the waterline. We did not experience the dreaded sewage smell in our cabin but we did smell it closer to the bow of the ship on Deck 2 on occasion (our cabin was towards the aft). I'm amazed that after months of complaints regarding this issue that it is still has not been resolved - perhaps emblematic of Carnival's lack of concern regarding issues of the Dream. Our cabin attendant was friendly and kept our cabin clean but was not especially outgoing. He never really took the time to chat with us or try to develop any kind of rapport, which was a disappointment because we had gone on a 3 day cruise on Majesty of the Seas (RCI) in November and by the end we felt our cabin attendant was practically family. We did like the towel animals but I'm pretty sure these are customary - we never really felt that our cabin attendant went above or beyond in anyway. He just never really stood out one way or another. DINING: We'll talk about The Gathering (buffet on the Lido deck). We found the food to generally be good, with plenty of good options - Mongolian, Indian, Grill, Pizza, Pasta, Grand Buffet, Burrito Bar etc. We were especially fond of the Mongolian Bar and Pasta Bar (the lasagna is amazing). However, the lines were simply HORRENDOUS. Getting any food at pretty much anytime required a 10+ minute wait. The design for the buffet is simply atrocious, because it requires everyone to stand in the same line, e.g. you can't really simply cut in to what you want, so you have to wait behind those who want to try every single salad and other item even if the only thing you wanted was a slice of prime rib. This makes no sense, especially for such a recent ship! In general, we found the crowd control to be extremely poor throughout the ship. We were seated in the Scarlet Dining Room with late seating at 8:15 PM. Our waiter for the first two days was simply terrible, one of the worst we have ever had on either land or sea. He never said hello, he never smiled, he simply asked what we wanted, and came back an hour later (!!!!) with our (then cold) food which he plopped down without saying a word. He never asked us how our meal was, etc. After two days of progressively worse service, we asked to switch tables. The headwaitress at the lobby we spoke to was friendly but not apologetic. If anything, I felt that I had to defend my request. We were switched tables though, and our new waiter was much friendlier, although not once in seven days did he come by to ask us how our meal was going. Again, compared to our short, cheap cruise on Royal Caribbean, the dining room service was simply not up to par. Our previous waiter frequently came by the chat with us, to check on us, etc. Our head waiter would also come by and check to see if we were enjoying our meal. On this cruise, not once in the nine days did a head waiter come by. I'm not sure if this is the standard on Carnival, but the comparison is definitely striking. The food itself in the MDR was hit or miss - terrible on the first night but better on other nights. One disappointment was that there was no "special" meal on Christmas or New Years - it was basically the same menu even though we were expecting something a little extra. After all, the cruise was twice as expensive as a regular (non-holiday) cruise. By the way, NOT ONCE in nine days in the MDR was I asked if we wanted anything "special" to drink, e.g. wines, sodas, etc. On the two occasions where I ordered sodas, I had to flag down the one beverage person who was apparently working the entire dining room, and then wait upwards of twenty minutes for my can of diet coke to be delivered. Just another example of the poor service on the Carnival Dream. The other alternative food option was the Wasabi bar, which generally offered either three pieces of sushi or tapas. The sushi and tapas were not very good but were just "extra," so we were fine with it. We did try the Steakhouse once. The food and service were excellent (I recommend the prime rib, cheesecake and cheese plate). Nevertheless, the cost per person is fairly steep - $30 per person. I believe this is more expensive than comparable specialty restaurants on other cruise lines. Also, surprisingly, you are limited to one entrEe and one dessert, which still allows for plenty of food but surprising given the steep cover charge. PUBLIC AREAS The public areas of the ship were definitely nice, but again we had some complaints. First, the wait for all the elevators was horrendous, so we generally took the stairs - which was actually good for our waistline, but aggravating for the elderly passengers. The lounges were nice, but we simply cannot understand why the one piano bar on the ship would be designated as a smoking area. As a result, we completely avoided the piano bar even though this was one of our favorite areas on Royal Caribbean (the Schooner lounge). We had high hopes for Caliente, the nightclub, but it was consistently empty, even past midnight. We were very disappointed with the pools on the Dream, which are tiny and only three!!! feet deep. The pools on the Majesty, which is about half the size of the Dream and carries half as many passengers, were probably twice as big and certainly twice as deep. Again, this design makes no sense, especially given the size of the ship. As a result, I think we only ever saw young kids using either of the two pools. (There is one additional spa pool, but it is very small and very costly - $35 per person for a day pass). The Jacuzzis were very nice, especially the four on the promenade deck as they are cantilevered over the side of the ship. We generally found there were plenty of Jacuzzis available, 2 in the serenity area, 2 at the aft of the lido deck, 2 on deck 11, and 4 on the promenade, but they did tend to fill up so they were certainly not very "private," except maybe late at night. The Dream does also offer mini-golf, which is a fun diversion; waterworks - the slides are fun for about five minutes, and the rivets are not aligned so I would definitely agree with others that a t-shirt is necessary to avoid significant pain; and two giant outdoor life-sized chess boards on the promenade deck - a nice hidden feature. ENTERTAINMENT This was another low point of the cruise. Given that the Dream is Carnival's flagship, it simply does not even come close to what we've heard about the entertainment on either NCL's (Epic) or RCI's (Allure or Oasis) flagship entertainment. The male lead singer, Desmond Dansby, is good, but the female lead singer, Simone Catallano, is terrible. The dancers were OK but nothing great, except for the "Fun Force" hip hop team which was very good. The Fun Force starred in "Dancing in the Streets" which was by far the best show. The other entertainers included average comics, a not very exciting EDGE juggling show, a decent ventriloquist, and a decent hypnotist. By the way, "Jeff the fun dude," who hosts the comedy shows in the Burgundy Lounge, is NOT funny. We didn't really love the cruise director, Butch, or his assistant, George Roberts AKA Baby Butch. There was just something "off." Most of the passengers seemed to like him though, and he was very peppy. Our opinion might actually be colored by our debarkation, during which he was present but kind of gave us a weird look and did not shake our hands. We thought this was very odd for a cruise director who has a reputation for being upbeat and personable. FUNVILLE@SEA The ship has a wireless intranet known as Funville@Sea, with message boards for passengers to interact. This is an interesting concept but poorly executed as hardly anyone used it. It could be fun if a critical mass of passengers got involved with it, though. OVERALL The Dream is an OK ship - we think it seriously lags behind its competitors' flagships. The service on our cruise, from the dining staff to the entertainment staff to the stateroom staff, was mediocre but perhaps explained by the passenger load. Although the ship might be designed to carry a maximum of 4,500 or so passengers, the public areas and staffing of the ship simply do not support this type of passenger load. I think our experience suffered as a result. GLBT ISSUES We had heard Carnival was generally GLBT friendly. We are both gay, and so we were looking forward to the FOD meetings. Although the meetings appeared on the schedule every day, we only were able to meet one other couple on the third or fourth day. We didn't like them very much and simply stopped bothering to show up. On the first three days, no other GLBT people showed up for the meeting - pretty disappointing given that the ship was carrying around 4,500 passengers. So beware GLBT folks, don't expect to find people at FOD. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Family of 6 traveling together - 2 adults, 1 teen boy, 3 girls (7yo 5yo, 2yo). We had 2 balcony cabins on Deck 9, 9346 and 9232. Booked 1 adult and 2 kids in each. We booked in mid-November 2010, about 6 weeks before the cruise. We ... Read More
Family of 6 traveling together - 2 adults, 1 teen boy, 3 girls (7yo 5yo, 2yo). We had 2 balcony cabins on Deck 9, 9346 and 9232. Booked 1 adult and 2 kids in each. We booked in mid-November 2010, about 6 weeks before the cruise. We flew in to MCO, uneventfully, and transferred to the Embassy Suites - Airport for a quick overnight, then used Ace Luxury Transportation to get us to Port Canaveral. Hotel - facilities were adequate, service was exceptional! Transfer to the pier - adequate. Transfer back from the pier - pathetic; ended up being sent a subcontracted taxi after waiting nearly an hour for our "pre-arranged" transportation. Embarkation process was a bit slow, and the lines crawled out the door for a good 400 yards. It was a bit breezy, and we were offered the chance to jump out of line, as we had a crew of kids, one of which was in a stroller. Observed some very rude treatment of other guests, by Carnival port staff (male), but it wasn't directed at my family - so it was quickly ignored. The Carnival Port staff (lady) who offered us the jump out of line, guided us to the elevator (we had a stroller), which easily moved us up 45 minutes in the boarding process. We were grateful, as the kids were getting itchy. The showing passports, swiping credit cards, and getting our Sign&Sail cards went smoothly. After which were photographed for the Sign&Sail cards, then the line proceeded to a group of ship's photographers who wanted to scan our cards and take individual pictures in front of a green screen?!?! I am used to getting the 'family' photo upon debarkation in front of the airbrushed backdrop, but having done the 'official' Sign&Sail photo (for security & on board charges); I was rather dubious about the green screen photo, and we declined. We boarded the ship just as rooms were ready for guests. Not being familiar with the ship's layout, we followed the path of least resistance to the nearest elevator bank - and waited an eternity for a car to take us to Deck 9. Had we been more familiar with the ship's layout, we may have had better luck walking forward or aft to other elevators. The rooms were clean, prepped and ready, bright and spacious - very much like advertised. Our cabin stewards promptly introduced themselves and quickly satisfied my request for an ashtray (for the balcony). Luggage was delivered to our rooms by 5pm, and all pieces arrived as expected. The cabins were quite nice, except there was only ONE 110V outlet in the room. Bring a 20+ foot extension cord/power-strip if you use a bedside CPAP machine, or need to charge more than one electronic device at a time. There was another 110V outlet in the bathroom. While the layout and the cleanliness of the room were very nice, the location of cabin 9346 WAS TERRIBLE!! DO NOT BOOK THIS CABIN. The cabin sat directly beneath the Lido Deck's table & chair area, directly in front of the 24 hour pizza station. Between 11pm-3am all you hear is thundering cacophony the staff moving/stacking deck chairs to clean the deck, then hoards of drunken fools migrating from Caliente Disco to the only place that serves food at bar close. Dinner in the dining room was adequate, at best. We had late seating, Crimson lower.... with 3 youngsters - that's tough on their schedules, but we booked late - really can't whine. Our family was segregated into the "kids dining area", a little room of about 6 tables (50 people?) off of the main dining room. If I were traveling without kids, I'd be relieved to see that my dining experience wouldn't be interrupted by tired, crying kids. But it really felt far removed from the much more lavishly decorated "adult" dining room. Again, the food and service were adequate, not stellar (especially compared to other cruise lines, and considering this was a premium priced "Holiday" journey). The flexible dining options (buffets and specialty 'stations') were again, adequate. I agree with most other reviews, the lines are long, the layout is poor, and the customized dining choices (omelets, stir-fry, pasta, deli) were woefully understaffed. They really need to extend/expand dining times. Entertainment - the comedians were 'cruise ship caliber', past their prime and definitely not ever going to tour clubs and theaters again. Same with the piano man-Tom, the guitar guy in the casino, the "tropical" band playing by the pool. While they were all friendly, their acts were stale and play lists weren't very deep. It's rather "low end" to use a DAT or Minidisc as a rhythm section, it shows your performance is going to be scripted and lack any vibrancy or improv ability. I'd rather listen to a CD, my iPod, or Musak. Almost all of the music acts on board could be replaced by a jukebox (with better results), except perhaps the "orchestra" and the 4 piece rock band that played near the bar, mid-ship on Deck 5. I guess cruise ships are where washed up entertainers go to die. "Feature Entertainment" - also lacking. 12 average dancers in skimpy clothing with 2 average singers do not constitute high quality "Feature Entertainment" (the male singer looked as if he hated being on board and was simply "going through the motions" to finish the show). The cruise director boasted about the "million dollar" facility, well that's wonderful, if you have someone who knows how to use the production equipment. I would equate the performers and production caliber to something I might see at a high school or community college presentation. Less than impressed. The "Fun Force" (hip-hop dance troop??) - I am not sure how break-dancers exuding thuggish bravado adds to my vacation experience, but it may serve as a resume booster for this "crew", allowing them to skip the fry station and move right up to working the drive-thru; in their future career endeavors. Children's programs - it looked like the kids' programs, by schedule alone, were going to be incredible. After having cruised on other cruise lines and raved about their kids programs, we were sorely saddened to find out our kids hated going to "the kids jail" - their term, not ours. Other cruise lines have staff with backgrounds/degrees in early childhood development, elementary education - and all of them spoke English as a first language. NOT THE CASE ON THE DREAM. An economics major from Eastern Europe or a former daycare employee from the Philippines are not even close to the caliber/quality of care provided on other cruise lines. Having our easy-going kids crying/protesting at drop-off; told us enough. A staff of 14 to care for an estimated 1400 children?!?! Not impressed. Perhaps a more engaging youth program would not lead to 100s of unsupervised tweens, teens, and young adults (18-20), roaming the ship at all hours with nothing to do. Ports: Cruise sponsored excursions - the ultimate rip-off. Book your excursions independently, your activity and destination are the same, except the cruise line doesn't mark-up the price 100-200%. The only benefit of booking through the cruise line, is they will not strand you in port if one of "their" excursions experiences a delay returning to the ship. Example: 2 adults & 4 kids booking a simple "beach break" would run nearly $400 via Carnival. The same experience in Cozumel can be had for a $19 cab ride. Port reviews: *Nassau - a true armpit of a port. Paradise Island/Atlantis Casino & waterpark is nice, but not when there are 6 ships and 20,000 tourists in port. There is a grocery store within walking distance of the pier, where you can grab the much needed extension cord, some cheap bottled water (compared to the 1.5L bottle available in your cabin for $4 + 15%), and munchies - for when you don't want to wait in line for 20 minutes to get a grilled cheese sandwich onboard. *Cozumel - "safer" for tourists than mainland Mexico (especially the Pacific side). Plenty of shopping and recreation opportunities. Lots of independent excursion opportunities. *Roatan - wonderful beach within walking distance of the pier, no need to book an excursion here. *Belize - stay on the "tourist" path and you'll be fine. Don't stray in search of excitement. Find a bar/restaurant near the tender's pier, enjoy some relative cheap eats. Aside from that, be prepared to spend too much on an excursion (cave tubing or zip lining) - or stay onboard that day and relax poolside. Costa Maya - if you have a hankering to see Mayan ruins, in person, book the excursion. You'll learn as much or more at your local library, and won't have to drive 90 minutes to get there - but if you have to SEE it, it's your money. Otherwise there is nothing to do in this port except shop. You have your choice of Diamonds International, Diamonds International #2 (both terrible places to buy garbage stones), T-Shirt shop #1, T-shirt shop #2, Gabby's hair braiding, or the 2 restaurants/cantinas that straddle the small pool. This is the purest definition of a tourist trap. Make sure you stop by the most depressing thing you can see on your vacation - the poorly cared for dolphins, "handled" by unqualified "trainers", in a pathetically small pool. This port is nothing but an itinerary fluffer for the cruise lines. PARENTS - take note! #1 - teach your kids that when an elevator door opens, let people off before charging into the elevator car. Elderly folks with walkers get to board before the throng of teens/tweens playing tag throughout the halls. I do not and will not hesitate to bulldoze your child out of my way to get off an elevator. #2 - don't take your 17-20 year olds on a cruise. There is NOTHING for them to do after 9pm except gamble (and pester every person over 21 they encounter to get drinks for them.) If you do bring them, don't let the cruise be their drinking lesson. Make sure they know how to hold their buzz and their booze, and lock them away somewhere that they are not starting fights, acting like fools, or putting themselves in danger. Nothing is more pathetic than a drunken/coked-up 25 year old groping a unsupervised teenage girl that has had drinks poured down her throat all night. CARNIVAL - take note! #1 - Delivering all of the liquor purchased in port to passenger cabins, at 9pm, on New Years Eve - absolutely brilliant!!! What a perfect way to keep booze out of the hands of unsupervised, underage passengers (not to mention minimizing your primary revenue stream from legitimate drinkers on a big drinking night). This was probably the last time we cruise Carnival as a family. I could envision doing a 3 or 4 day 'adult getaway" on Carnival, but nothing longer than 7 days again, and never paying a premium price to sail over Christmas/NYE again. The value is simply not there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We are from Austin, Texas and celebrated Christmas and our 25th Wedding Anniversary while on board. I always enjoy when fellow cruisers give positive and negative info so here you go: EMBARKATION: positives: Port Canaveral had smooth ... Read More
We are from Austin, Texas and celebrated Christmas and our 25th Wedding Anniversary while on board. I always enjoy when fellow cruisers give positive and negative info so here you go: EMBARKATION: positives: Port Canaveral had smooth running lines and was very organized considering there were 4000 passengers. The whole process only took about 45 from start to finish. They passed out numbered boarding cards and announce the groups about every 10 minutes. The port is very nice, large with lots of seating. negatives: No one told us to have our photo IDs in hand BEFORE even entering the building and they required to see them at the door. This caused a major and immediate cluster slow down right off the bat which made for cranky people. CABINS: We had Cat 4J insides that are really ocean view obstructed (7201, 7202 and 7204) positives: these inside cabins are priced very well and you get a window. They are 200 sq feet vs the normal 185 sq feet of other inside cabins. Although the view is obstructed by the deck outside, we could easily see the ocean and ports from inside our cabin. We loved it for docking as the deck is never crowded as most people don't know its there. The cabins are very quiet as the bridge is just above and other cabins are right below. negatives: These cabins really don't have a negative but are all the way so we had to do a little more walking and of course, we noticed the rocking a bit more. This really wasn't a negative for us but could be considered to be by others. People on the deck out front CAN SEE INTO the cabins (even though it says differently on the Internet) so we just had to make sure drapes were closed when changing. SHIP: positives: The Dream is similar in style and layout to other Carnivals we've been on so finding our way around was rather easy. Its brand new with lots of elevators, colored glass and tile. The casino never seemed crowded and they restrict smokers to their own area. Lots of hot tubs, little nooks and crannies for chilling out and we enjoyed the new Piazza on deck 5, mid ship. There were lots of photographers but none were pushy. There are several clubs of different types for entertainment at night and lots of quiet areas for relaxing with a book. The adults Serenity area is pretty and we enjoyed a two person hammock one day while docked at St. Maarten. There are small little laundry rooms available here and there which come in handy on seven day trips. negatives: Lido deck buffet is often times NO FUN at all. As others have mentioned, its not laid out very well and we had to wait in long, slow lines to get our food. There are only 2 pools for 4000 people and on sea days, it was very hard to find an open deck chair. This ship seemed to rock, pitch and roll MUCH more than others we have been on and did so for two days straight. As mentioned, there are laundry rooms available BUT its $6 to wash/dry and the machines only take quarters. There are no change machines in the laundry rooms so you must walk to the casino or pursers desk if you need change. It would be nice if you could just use your sail and sign cards like you do for every other purchase. FOOD: positives: Lido deck buffet food is pretty good and they even had a wonderful chocolate buffet one of our sea days. You don't eat as much because the lines just aren't worth going back for more so you don't gain weight. The coffee was very good and always hot. Tandori's all the way aft had very good indian food and we seriously enjoyed the special dining Steakhouse for $30 a head. I would compare the food quality and service to that of Ruth Chris or McCormick and Schmicks. negatives: Lido Buffet was normally WAY too crowded. Dining at night was never consistent. We felt the servers were very overworked and it usually took 90 minutes for dinner every night. A few times our food was cold and once the chocolate melting cake was undercooked and runny vs melting. Several nights we sat for a full 1/2 hour before they even gave us our menu's. We're seasoned cruisers, easy to please and happy just to be there so it takes a lot to make us unhappy...we generally were when it came to eating. Either the Lido Buffet was too crowded or the dining rooms were slow and inconsistent. We enjoyed Wasabi's sushi (when it was open...only at night for three hours) but the lines were terrible. Not only that but you don't get to pick out what you want to eat, they just hand you one small plate of three pieces of sushi. This was different on the Ecstasy as there you could pick and choose, ask for more and the lines were much shorter. Crew: positives: Our cabin stewards were wonderful and very attentive. They went out of their way to do whatever we needed and always greeted us with smiles. Several times they asked what we had done that day or if we enjoyed the islands. We even got hugs on Christmas day...wow! negatives: Our dining servers were never really engaging or friendly but we believe it was due to their heavy work load. They seemed to have many more tables than we observed on other ships. Overall, the crew WAS busy rushing, doing and working. They even sometimes seemed bothered by the crowds as well and it was rare to hear a "good morning", "hello" or to see a smile. ENTERTAINMENT: positives: We enjoyed most of the shows, the little areas where singers were playing and all the different styles of entertainment. The Dream seemed to have something for everyone. Each night we went the big show in the Encore Theater and for the most part thought they were terrific. The big production shows with singing and dancing were consistent and very entertaining. We REALLY enjoyed Dancing in the Streets and the Extreme Country! negatives: One night they headlined a ventriloquist who actually made us uncomfortable with some of his comedy. My 17 year old daughter called him a "creeper" because he made some inappropriate comments during a family show. He just wasn't very good and came off rather odd at times. DEBARKATION: positives: We opted for carrying our bags off vs leaving them outside our cabin the night before so we got off the ship first. We breezed through customs and the whole process took only about 15 minutes. negatives: They begin calling self debarkation at 6 am...ugh FINAL THOUGHTS: We had a memorable time but looking back, probably would have had just as good a time if not better, on a smaller ship. We traveled by plane and rental car to get to the brand new Dream but found it often too crowded and frustrating. Honestly, it didn't feel any more special than any other Carnival cruise except that its newer and bigger. Overall, I would say it wasn't worth the extra travel time and expense as we could have gone out of Galveston three hours away, been on the Conquest and enjoyed ourselves just as much without the extra crowds. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
As our car service approached the port, we got our first glimpse of the Carnival Dream. It was certainly large (as it was parked next to the Disney Magic and the RCL Monarch of the Seas) but looked very inviting. We pulled up to the drop ... Read More
As our car service approached the port, we got our first glimpse of the Carnival Dream. It was certainly large (as it was parked next to the Disney Magic and the RCL Monarch of the Seas) but looked very inviting. We pulled up to the drop off line, and they were ready for us, took our bags, and instructed us where to go. A very pleasant surprise - the entire embarkation process took about 40 minutes (and this is arriving at 12 PM among many other guests). We boarded the boat and were told we could grab some lunch (as the rooms would not be ready until 1:30 PM) The good: The quality of the lunch buffet was outstanding (at least the stations.) People would line up and take advantage of the burrito bar, the pasta station, the deli station, and the tandoori station. All were surprisingly very good, and I honestly spent very little time at the rest of the standard buffet. The children all swore by their cheeseburgers, as this became their daily lunch treat. The pizza however, was better on other lines. The water slides were the best we have seen at sea. Kids and adults lined up to ride the racers, the drainpipe, and the twister all day. The kids loved the fact that the slides were fresh water, and although they did have lines build up, they were certainly manageable. We never waited more than 10 minutes (and that was only for the twister). The ship is experimenting with a comedy club, and this was among the best venues at sea. Jeff "the Fun Dude" was great and needs to be commended on building an all star roster of main land talent. These shows are done in both a PG and an R setting so people of all ages can enjoy. Another highlight was the piano bar. For a few bucks a pencil, the piano player gratiously played requests and really kept a lively atmosphere going. The laser light show at the pool deck with the large screen TV was a highlight. The shows were great. My only compaint was that they were too short. The ship advertised the music of Pink Floyd and Rush, yet only lasted 17 minutes (3 songs). The onboard show was also too short. Disembarkation was just as easy. We had an early flight and were given tags with a "2" on it. We were off the boat and in our car service by 7:30. The bad: The service in the main dining room was the worst I have ever experienced on a cruise line. They simply do not have enough help to handle the 4000 passengers on the boat. We would ask repeatedly for our wine to be opened (they could have supplied me with a corkscrew). They either took our order within 15 seconds of sitting down or 30 minutes - you never knew what to expect. Once we ordered we were rushed through dinner, and the average meal was completed in under an hour! This was hardly an enjoyable experience, and I wish they had more dining options, as I came very close to actually reducing their tip. We were actually told by a waiter at breakfast to please give us the entire order at once, as the galley was too far and he would only go there once for us! The food in the main dining room was mediocre. Sometimes too cold coming out, salads did not taste fresh, and the meats were sub par. I would recommend sticking the the seafood and pasta dishes. The desserts were OK (although the standby chocolate melting cake was outstanding). The lines for everything also could use improvement. 20 minutes at the deli bar, 20 minutes for a burrito, 10 minutes to pick up a golf club and ball, 20 minutes to pick up sushi, etc. Another complaint is the lack of food alternatives during dinner. The children love the grill but it closes at 6 sharp. The burrito bar, tandoori bar, pasta bar, etc are only open during lunch. The sushi bar is only from 5 to 8:15 and they give you 3 pre made pieces of whatever they are serving that day. Last complaint is the vibrations. I have never been on a ship that has vibrated so violently when approaching a port. It would jar you out of bed, and you would question if there was some kind of design flaw with the ship. Overall, the cruise was good, but not even as close to as enjoyable as our experiences on RCL and Disney. The price was certainly right, but usually you get what you pay for. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My Wife and I booked this cruise to celebrate our 20th anniversary.Our problems started when we arrived at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.WE made it through US Customs in 10 minutes .We had time to get a meal before our plane ... Read More
My Wife and I booked this cruise to celebrate our 20th anniversary.Our problems started when we arrived at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.WE made it through US Customs in 10 minutes .We had time to get a meal before our plane left at 10:30am .We arrived at the gate for our plane well before it would be boarding.At 945am we saw airport security set up a table at the walkway to the plane and proceed to bodily inspect each and every passenger including young infants.The plane finally left the gate and departed for Orlando at 1230pm,2 hours late.I called the Carnival hotline to let them know this was happening.They said they would let the ship know we would be late arriving.They also said trasportation to the ship would be available upon our arrival.We arrived at Orlando Airport at 310pm saturday December 26 2009.We saw no one from Carnival there so I called the hotline again.They put me on hold as they checked the status of the ship.When they came back they said we could not get on the ship and they would arrange for us to stay in Orlando and meet the ship in Cozumel on Monday.We had to pay for the Hotel and our meals and would be given an onboard credit when we arrived on the ship.We spent 2 cold nights in Orlando instead of enjoying our cruise.On Monday dec 28 2009 we left Orlando at 9am for Houston the after a 2 hour stop over we boarded another plane for Cozumel MX.We arrived in Cozumel at 2pm.We paid for a shuttle to the ship.We walked past the stores near the dock to the security gate.No carnival rep was there as promised so we had to wait while the security personal filled out a form for us.We then walked our 4 suitcases down the dock to the ship and waited for 20 minutes while security on the ship made arrangements for us to board.At 4pm we walked on board and got our cards at the pursers desk for our room.No one helped us with our bags to the room.We had a quick shower then looked around the ship before going for dinner.Our table reserved for us had been given away so they sat us next to the kitchen entrance.Next day we got a crd under the door that said we had our booked table back.Wrong,they goofed! They put us at another table again!We found that the door between the balconys moved a lot during the night so i jammed the rubber door stop in it.The people in the room next to ours smoked a lot.We are none smokers.The galley of the ship is above the room we were in so yes we heard a lot of noise all night.I have sent a letter to Carnival asking for a refund of our cruise that we did not enjoy at all.We have sailed with Carnival 8 times in the past and this is the first time they let us down. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
My husband and I booked this cruise in February 2008 and took the trip during Thanksgiving week. I will begin with the positives: -The service was incredible. Our waiters were wonderful, sweet, attentive, great at their job, and even ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise in February 2008 and took the trip during Thanksgiving week. I will begin with the positives: -The service was incredible. Our waiters were wonderful, sweet, attentive, great at their job, and even provided us with some brain teasers and tricks on most of the nights. They couldn't have been better, in our opinion. -The shows were wonderful. We really enjoyed having a show to attend each night before or after dinner. The entertainment was obviously not the best we've ever seen in our lives, but they did a great job and we were entertained. -The casino was fun, despite losing a bunch of money! The dealers were pleasant and we enjoyed our time there. -Our cabin steward was nice, attended to our requests, and left us with a new "towel animal" each night during turndown service. Now for the negatives: -The ports of call were terrible. Nassau is a dump. St. Maarten (on the Dutch side) is a dump. St. Thomas looked decent, but we did a snorkeling excursion and didn't get to see much of it. But we did take the skyride to Paradise Point and the service and cost were not worth it. The view was nice, however. When we got to the top, we intended to eat at the restaurant and watch the sunset, but we were informed that the power was out and they couldn't serve us. So we asked for our money back for the skyride and they gave it to us. -We booked all 3 of our excursions on the first day of our cruise right after embarkation. However, 2 of the three were cancelled due to "lack of interest". When we booked a second excursion to replace one that was cancelled, THAT was cancelled also!!! So we were forced to do our 3rd choice in St. Thomas. We have been snorkeling in Hawaii and Jamaica and let me tell you, the snorkeling in St. Thomas is a distant third. NOT WORTH IT!!!! Do not do the "shipwreck cove" snorkel excursion, it's not worth the money. We also did the "lagoon kayak" excursion in St. Maarten and it was sub-par as well. The water was beautiful, but the view was marred by the fact that there is nothing but squalor and shantys along the beachfront. -The deck and beach chairs were a huge pain. We wanted to sit outside on the sea days, but when we went up to get some chairs, we found entire families had saved chairs with their towels, books, shoes, etc. and then left. One person would be sitting there with 5 or 6 chairs saved. It was ridiculous. We had the hardest time trying to find chairs in the sun because people were rude about "saving" chairs for their family or friends who were off eating or in the pool or wherever. -As a young couple (25), we got bored on the ship. We would have loved to see more comedy shows, take some dance classes, or even see some movies. The Amber Palace would have been great to show movies on a big screen. We found ourselves bored after the show was over and we had nothing to do except gamble. So we slept a lot. This cruise is ok if you have a family or if you are an older couple. We just expected more adventure and more activities. The Glory does an OK job of having lots of activities to participate in. However, if you are a young couple, you will get bored. You will only be able to gamble for so long. After that, there's not much to do to hold your interest. We rated the cruise a 6 out of 10 because the staff was nice and accommodating, the food was pretty good, and the ship was clean. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

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