18 Port Canaveral (Orlando) Holiday Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean is still our preferred cruise line. However, Explorer of the Seas is in need of some attention and it is my understanding that the ship will go in for enhancements starting early spring. But, in general, the entertainment ... Read More
Royal Caribbean is still our preferred cruise line. However, Explorer of the Seas is in need of some attention and it is my understanding that the ship will go in for enhancements starting early spring. But, in general, the entertainment was very good, the food on par and the staff attentive. For some reason, we were not required to check-in/out towels which caused two problems. One, is you didn't know if someone was coming back to a chair or not and two, the pool deck looked very sloppy with all the used towels laying around the deck. We will continue to cruise on RCI, but will make sure the ship is one of the top three classes and that the ship is not too old or has had enhancements. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My boyfriend's mom booked this cruise over Thanksgiving at the last minute. Him and I are both Seniors in college and we went with his parents and his sister and her boyfriend. His family has cruised 4-5 times before this one and I ... Read More
My boyfriend's mom booked this cruise over Thanksgiving at the last minute. Him and I are both Seniors in college and we went with his parents and his sister and her boyfriend. His family has cruised 4-5 times before this one and I had never been on a cruise and all in all I thought it was a magnificent first timers cruise. Embarkation was simple and quick and we were on the ship in no time. I did not care for all of the people heckling me to take my picture. (I don't like strangers having pictures of me even if I'm in the background of a photo). We ate lunch on the lido deck. I got a reuben sandwich at the sandwich place and it was amazing. I could have just eaten the sandwiches throughout the entire trip and been happy. The buffet itself was not impressive and I didn't eat there at all throughout the trip except for the sandwich and pizza place. I did love the small cartons of chocolate milk at the buffet. The cabin was roomier than I expected and so was the bathroom. I liked that they provided shampoo and body wash. The person who cleaned our room did an excellent job. We always had clean towels and a made bed. I only wish that we had a fridge in our room. The television had a lot of good channels which was surprising. My boyfriend and I were able to watch our college football team play for a bit which was nice. Dinner nights were kind of a hit or miss. I got filet mignon the first night which was great. I loved how many appetizer choices there were. It was tough to choose between them because I wanted them all. The second night I ordered prime rib medium rare and so did someone in my party. We both got our steaks and mine was still bleeding. It didn't even look like it had been cooked at all whatsoever. The other person's steak looked much more cooked even though we both ordered the same thing. I ate around the edges. The melting chocolate cake was delicious and I ordered it two nights in a row. We ate breakfast in the dining room every morning. The brunch morning food was awesome. The cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel was SO good to my surprise. The eggs benedicts were also great. All in all, the food was good. It wasn't five star quality, but for the amount of people they serve at one time, it was good. I was expecting to see a lot of drunk/obnoxious people based on previous reviews but I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. Everyone seemed to be on their best behavior and it was pretty family oriented. The pool was small and the hot tubs by the pool were always crowded with about 20 kids/adolescents but that didn't bother me as I didn't care to spend time in the pool or hot tubs during the trip and there were still tons of spots on deck to lay out and get some sun. Since it was Thanksgiving there were many football games on and I was pleased that they were showing the football games in some of the public areas. The football games made it feel more like Thanksgiving. As far as entertainment there really wasn't much to do if you don't enjoy drinking or gambling. We don't drink much at all, but we spent a lot of time at the casino which was a lot of fun but it was always packed and on the small side. Also I came out of the casino smelling like an ash tray which was not pleasant. We went to the comedy show every night. The comedy shows were also hit or miss. But I feel like the audience has a lot to do with that since the comedians interact with the audience. Some of it was really hilarious and other times it was just eh but still worth going to. On the day at sea we went to the Love and Marriage show which I loved and thought was really funny. Besides the comedy shows, the love and marriage show, and the casino, we didn't have much to do. My boyfriend and I even went to the gym and worked out because we didn't really know what else to do on the day at sea. It was relaxing though and a lot of people were by the pool and on deck that day. The "party" they had on deck was pretty lame and geared more towards young teens and kids I think. The weather was not good in Nassau but we still had an absolute blast. We booked an excursion on our own ahead of time called "Tru Bahamian Bites of Nassau Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour" and it was most definitely the highlight of our trip!!!! It is definitely a more "off the beaten path" excursion and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. We toured much of downtown Nassau stopping at 8 different local food places where we got to sample many types of dishes including Bahamian fried conch and baked mac and cheese, jerk chicken, fresh tropical fruit punch, rice and peas, fried plantains, conch chowder at the only five star restaurant on the island, rum cake, chocolate, freshly brewed tea, local hot sauces and spices, and salad. Our tour guide Alanna was extremely intelligent, well spoken, well knowledgable, professional, very friendly and seemed to be known and loved by everyone on the entire island (from the locals who owned the restaurants to the future prime minster who stopped her car while we were walking by the Governor General's mansion to tell us how great Alanna is). I felt like a Bahamian expert by the end of it in history, culture, and food. You MUST do this excursion. Disembarkation was much more chaotic than embarkation. It took a long time to get off the boat and they were behind schedule and very disorganized. All in all I think that this cruise is perfect for someone who has never cruised before though may be a bit on the lame side if you've been on boats that are bigger and newer before. Regardless, we all had a blast on the ship. I was wary about traveling with Carnival but after this trip I would definitely travel with Carnival again. There were some down sides, but there were definitely more positives than negatives. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
PRE-CRUISE: La Quinta Inn in Cocoa Beach - on a 1 to 5 scale, I'd give it a 3 1/2. Nothing to complain about, but nothing remarkably awesome, either. Embarkation: VERY smooth - Carnival has clearly worked on making this ... Read More
PRE-CRUISE: La Quinta Inn in Cocoa Beach - on a 1 to 5 scale, I'd give it a 3 1/2. Nothing to complain about, but nothing remarkably awesome, either. Embarkation: VERY smooth - Carnival has clearly worked on making this better/faster/more efficient. From the time we walked into the terminal until the time we were in the ship's atrium - maybe 20 minutes, 25 minutes max. The ship: Overall, very good. Didn't see anything in a state of disrepair (of course, this ship was recently dry-docked for an overhaul).... The cabin (8244): Our first balcony room, after 4 previous cruises...the balcony was nice...but I'm a little iffy as to whether or not it is worth the extra money or not. Unfortunately, with the newer ships, getting a window room is becoming more and more difficult, as almost all rooms are balcony rooms. The room itself was what we expected - except we forgot about how few electrical receptacles there are. If you have more than one phone charger (or anything else you want to plug in), take an extension cord with you. As far as the location of the room - it was far enough from the elevators and stairs (about three rooms away) to not have a lot of noise from those areas, but close enough to them that we weren't in the middle of nowhere. In relation to the rest of the ship, deck 8 is a good middle ground between the lido deck (10) and deck 5 (shops/casino). The room steward: Buenmar....very nice and friendly. We didn't make any extraordinary requests, but what we requests we did have, he fulfilled quickly. Cruise Director: Brittany Boyd - we hear she was a stand-in for the normal Dream Cruise Director, who was at a conference or something. She was pretty. She was bubbly. She was informative.....waaaaay too informative. It seemed she was on the ship's intercom almost incessantly, basically doing commercials for the spa, the casino, and anything or anyplace else on the ship that has a high profit margin. I don't know if it was her trained diction or what, but it just seemed to me that this cruise had more "commercials" than any of our previous cruises. Again, she was very nice - but geez, enough is enough! I wasn't the only one to feel this way. Activities Director: Ryan (from Great Britain): a bit cocky, but okay. Dining Room (Crimson, early dining): Head waiter (I Ketut), team waiter (I Wayan), assistant (Agus): GREAT group of waiters, one of the highlights of the cruise, ship-wise. THE FOOD: Very good, as usual. The chocolate melting cake was available for dessert every night. I recommend the Chateaubriand (sp?) as an entree... Excursions: At NASSAU, we did the Sail&Snorkel offered by the ship....it was good. Not spectacular (crew of SweetyPie was average at best), but good. The snorkeling (above a reef) was very good....saw a lot of beautifully-colored fish - take an underwater disposable camera! ST. THOMAS - SONNY LISTON Tours - Did the tour with shopping and then a trip up to MountainTop. SONNY IS GREAT....a little crazy, but great. Riding with him is a little like taking a cab ride in Jamaica - but he knows what he's doing. Dropped us off at Sapphire Beach after MountainTop, and came back to get us at 5PM - trouble was, everything (all vendors, etc) at Sapphire Beach closes at 4PM.....so we ended up being there totally alone from about 4:30PM until he picked us up. Kinda...eerie? Keep that in mind if you plan to go to Sapphire Beach. The beach itself was very good. ST. MAARTEN....took a cab to Orient Beach ($6 per person, each way)....awesome beach....a "European" beach, so be prepared for that....two of our party went parasailing (2 for $100) through one of the water sports vendors on the beach...they're thorughly enjoyed it....we stayed there for about three hours, then took a cab back to the shopping district on the Dutch side (ten minute, safe walk to the ship)... EXTRAS: We went to the Chef's Art Steakhouse on the ship, on Friday night ($35 per person, plus tip). The steaks, lobster, and all the food was really, really good. Much more quiet than the regular dining room. If you've never tried one of the 'premium' restaurants, you should, at least once (this was our first time). The desserts were enormous - seriously, the cheesecake portion was obscene - but no one complained! :-) The only drawback - seemed like we were sitting on top of the engine room (vibration, mechanical hum). DEBARKATION: Even quicker than embarkation....from the gangway to our shuttle (Cocoa Beach Shuttle to Orlando International - good experience), it couldn't have been more than 15 minutes, and that includes taking the time to find nine checked bags! OVERALL: A very good experience, and a cruise I would do again. and again. and again. I wish I was still there! OH, ONE LAST THING: Getting off the ship at St. Thomas was a fiasco - took us OVER 45 minutes to disembark, due to everyone storming the elevators and stairs forward. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
My niece was married on the ship before we set sail. The wedding was lovely & no detail was spared. The wedding took place in the Library & the reception was held in Michelangelo's Lounge. Both were decorated in in good taste. ... Read More
My niece was married on the ship before we set sail. The wedding was lovely & no detail was spared. The wedding took place in the Library & the reception was held in Michelangelo's Lounge. Both were decorated in in good taste. The minister was great along with the photographer, Avril. The food& drinks were delicious during the one hour reception and staff were very attentive.We were given ample opportunity to view the numerous pics that were taken for the Wedding! The food was god at the Ecstasy dining room & Richard was most attentive to all our needs. We were 16 & could not seat together until the last night. I prefer your own time dining,but we ate at the 6pm seating.That worked well except when some of the group was late.They held up the second seating because we ran over.The staff was extremely accommodating, even the Matre D My room was fine because I was by myself & had ample room & enjoyed the King Size Bed! My room adjoined my sister's room & another guest. It was convenient. Our steward, Yogi, was attentive, except when we ran late one day & did not get the room made up till night time. but that was okay.I do room service in the Am & except for a few mistakes, the food was fine.We enjoyed lunch at the Fantasy dining room, last day at sea! Buffet & deli was standard fare. The casino was very smoky & that seems to be an ongoing occurrence with many of the Carnival Ships. Wish they would get some better ventilation for us, Non-Smokers! The ship is dated & very mismatched in areas that were updated and had loud colors in some common areas-not my taste at all! We all had a good time for such a short cruise & I received more perks than I expected for being VIFP! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We have cruised disney before and loved it. That is why we booked again but I have to say we were dissappointed. We were on a waiting list for a suite but were never called. We ended up in a cat 4A. we were required to pick a check in ... Read More
We have cruised disney before and loved it. That is why we booked again but I have to say we were dissappointed. We were on a waiting list for a suite but were never called. We ended up in a cat 4A. we were required to pick a check in time and it only allowed a 230p and a 300p. When we arrived at 230 the photographers were gone and we missed our picture(thats a big deal to us) we keep all of our welcome pics for our children. The food on the previous cruises wonder magic was unbeleivable. Fresh warm every meal. Plenty of fruit and salads.This cruise we had 5 in our party. every night we had to ask for the bread that was served with dinner. They brought enough for 3 people. They gave us bagels one evening? not sure why. With the exception of the final night in the royal palace The food was cold hard and flavorless, It was a shocker because in the past it was so terrific. The dream is very chopped up. Hard to find remy palo and meridian bar. The rooms were same as in past.dont look different.The photographer was sparce couldnt get too many pics. the pics that were taken were unflattering as is if they were snapped by a person off the street. The crew in the past esp at dinner ect did tricks with the kids and they became used to that, The servers were good but impersonal.I imagine they work very hard and maybe dont have the time. Not sure. The pool areas are swamped with children and the pool for adults was tiny. we enjoyed castaway great as always, The magic is my favorite ship. spacious flows nicely warm crew. Many many pics alot of excursions. All in all just dissapointed in the dream expected a special experience for new years. Wont travel it again. we may do the fantasy and see how that ship turned out. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our family's first time on Carnival, my second time. First time on the Dream. Embarkation: Port Canaveral is so easy. We shuttled over from a nearby hotel, arrived around 1:00 and were onboard and in our cabin by 1:30. ... Read More
This was our family's first time on Carnival, my second time. First time on the Dream. Embarkation: Port Canaveral is so easy. We shuttled over from a nearby hotel, arrived around 1:00 and were onboard and in our cabin by 1:30. When boarding the ship, the Dream Atrium is loud and busy and a bit chaotic but there were plenty of clearly identified crew members available to direct traffic and help us find where we wanted to go. Cabin: We had a Cove Balcony, port side, deck 2, located just beneath the Shore Excursions desk. Great location as gangways were Deck 0 forward so it was easy to get on and off the ship in the ports. We also liked proximity to our assigned dining (Crimson, Deck 4 - we had YTD) and Encore Lounge for main shows. We bought the bottomless bubbles and used the Lobby Bar as our main source of beverages, just one flight up from our cabin so easy to access for us. Cabin steward and assistant met our needs after we let them know we wanted the upper berth folded up each day. I barely saw them - but DH spent a lot of time on our balcony so he was quite friendly with them. All I know is our cabin was clean and we had everything we needed. Food: We had Your Time Dining so we ate in the Crimson dining room three nights, at the Gathering buffet two nights, and from the Grill the other two nights. The food was good, nothing too "weird" except the meat lasagna they have on the Pasta Bar menu. We ate lunch at the Pasta bar a couple of days, at the Burrito bar once, and the Lanai BBQ one sea day. We found a great variety of food at each meal. Room service was off and on - sometimes quick, sometimes unavailable by phone, and never consistent on the amount of cookies they would send when ordering cookies and milk. None of us gained weight on the cruise but we certainly didn't lose any! Entertainment: We enjoyed the Punchliner Comedy Club and attended each of the All Ages (family friendly) performances and three of the Adult shows. We saw two shows in the Encore Lounge which were good - I preferred the 8 More Seconds over the Dancing in the Streets, but both were well done. We enjoyed mini-golf, but sea days were hard to get clubs, so it's better to try to play on the first day or port days. The pool area was nearly always busy (both main and Sunset) but we didn't try to sit out or use the pool. The Lanai hottubs were usually occupied, more on the port side than the starboard side. Plenty of seating on the Lanai promenade deck. Shore Excursions: We did two shore excursions through Carnival and felt that they were well organized, especially on the tendering day at Belize to get us off the ship and to the tour provider. Youth Activities: Our teenagers participated in the Circle C activities and said that they liked the variety of things to do. We have sailed with Disney most of the time (most recently in summer 2011) and they prefer the youth activities on Disney over Carnival but liked Carnival better than Royal Caribbean. What they didn't like was that there were gaps in the day when nothing was scheduled and there weren't alternative activities if they didn't want to participate in the "after parties" that seemed popular on the activity sheet. The counselors were great - absolutely in charge of the 12-14s. Debarkation: We put our luggage outside our cabin and had group 16 for disembarking. We had time for a non-rushed breakfast in the Gathering and plenty of time to pack up the morning items we kept out. We left our cabin about 8:15 as we knew they wanted us out by 8:30 and waited in the Encore Lounge (again, just one flight up!) until they called our group. Our luggage was available pretty quickly on the carousel when they called us and we went right through Customs without even a glance at our passports (which we had ready). Overall, we would sail on the Carnival Dream or her sister ship(s) again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We booked adjoining cabins for this cruise... my wife and I, and my daughter and her two children, ages 4 and 10. Being wheelchair bound, we were leery about the children. It was unfounded! In fact, the 10 year old boy did most of the ... Read More
We booked adjoining cabins for this cruise... my wife and I, and my daughter and her two children, ages 4 and 10. Being wheelchair bound, we were leery about the children. It was unfounded! In fact, the 10 year old boy did most of the pushing, giving my wife a respite. The food was HORRIBLE on the first night! The escargot tasted weird and, as anyone would tell you, ALL food was good... some was better than others, but ALL food was good to me. We wondered just what we were getting into. Carnival always had great food... no worry, as the next night and for the rest of the cruise, the food was excellent! Also, Ronaldo, our waiter, was very friendly, and he really helped us with the handicapped stuff. Carnival did a GREAT job entertaining the kids, and we didn't worry about them (well, not much) The weather was bad... it rained most of the time, but that's Mother Nature's fault, not Carnival. The only problem we had was the rocking of the boat. My wife became sick and I nearly needed a seasick pill. Is that because of the size of the ship? Carnival Glory and other ships that size that we were on were stable... All in all, the cruise was enjoyable, and we wouldn't hesitate to invite the kids again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
There was a group of 6 of us (ages 67-15) to celebrate my 40th on New Years Day. The day before the cruise we arrived in Cape Canaveral and stayed at the Best Western Oceanside (great deal) and Thursday morning took the shuttle to ... Read More
There was a group of 6 of us (ages 67-15) to celebrate my 40th on New Years Day. The day before the cruise we arrived in Cape Canaveral and stayed at the Best Western Oceanside (great deal) and Thursday morning took the shuttle to the pier. Customs/registration was a breeze and we were on board within 30 minutes of arrival. A quick lunch and our rooms were ready at 1:30. We splurged and had a balcony, which was great. The room was nice & clean-smaller than our balcony room on the Legend, but still roomy. The ship is very 80's and even though its clean,clean,clean, she is a little worn in some places.But that didn't bother me any! What did bother me was how crowded the Lido deck got when everyone was waiting to dock in Nassau-yikes! But once we docked, it was great. We went on shore and did a little shopping and headed over to Fish Fry area to try some Conch Salad at Goldy's. Yum! We actually were in Nassau for New Years so we grabbed a spot on deck for the Countdown. It was awesome! At midnight there were fireworks from a couple places on island and they could all be seen from deck. Alter, part of our group went ashore to see the Junkanoo parade-a kind of Mardi Gras/Carnivale celebration. It was awesome. The food was good, with some really yummy dishes here and there. I do wish there was a 'snack' time at like 4:30-5:30 when chips (and veggies/pretzels), dips & cheese/crackers were out for snacking....i ate far too much cheese pizza to fill that role! Overall it was a really fun couple of days...plotting our next cruise in 2012! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
It has come to a recent tradition in our family to go on a cruise over Christmas. This was the third of the last four years to do so. We probably were a little spoiled with last year's last minute deal on the Costa Atlantica, getting ... Read More
It has come to a recent tradition in our family to go on a cruise over Christmas. This was the third of the last four years to do so. We probably were a little spoiled with last year's last minute deal on the Costa Atlantica, getting a Wellness Suite for next to nothing. This year, we booked far enough in advance, and the best option was the Norwegian Sun, a repeat of a ship we did four years ago. Of our 14 cruises, this is only the second time we've repeated a vessel (Disney Magic being the other). We had four rooms in our group. A balcony for my in-laws, an oceanview for 3 for my family of five, an inside for my sister-in-law's group of four, and another inside which got our other two stowe aways in the ocean view on the ship. We used it for storage. The balcony cabin was what you would expect. Nice size, well appointed, lots of storage. The oceanview was teeny. We pushed the queen against the wall and the two adults and the two year old slept there. The third bed, which wasn't made to full length accommodated the 7 and 4 year olds. There was very little storage and even less room to walk. The two inside cabins were huge. Lots of storage and lots of space. Last year, our embarkation was a breeze. Five minutes within arriving at the terminal, we were aboard. On Costa, you do most of the stuff onboard outside of verifying your eligibility to be on the ship. Amazed. This time, not so great. Everyone on land was grumpy. We got yelled at more than a few times. Maybe it was the fact they were working on Christmas. We arrived and were waiting for my in-laws who were inexplicably later than us. As we waited, we were told we should just board. We wanted to all board together. The lady didn't listen, got impatient with us and started to be snappy. While we were waiting for them, another person told us just to board. We said we were waiting for the rest of our party, and he snapped back, "well where are they?" Saying I didn't know, he snapped back, "you should. Just go onboard and wait." When we saw them arrive at the terminal and get through security, we started to get in line and the same woman who told us to board with out them, snapped at us again that we couldn't line up unless everyone in our party was ready. ARGH! Then we start to board, and the land crew tells us different directions to board, starts to get into a short argument and finally lets us on. Once we got on the ship, things got better. However, there was one thing that put a black mark on this voyage and that was the weather. We know that's out of NCL's control, but we had very little sun on this trip. All but two days were completely cloudy. Our first day at sea was rough. Barf bags were put out all over this ship. One of our party suffered through it. Every time she went to deck 11, she vomited. After day 1, we had smooth seas and no more sea sickness. Dining was fantastic. All our food was very well done. Main dining rooms were a little slow, however. Last April, we were on the Norwegian Star, and our four-course dinners took just over an hour. This trip, we typically had two hour dinners. Granted we had more people this time. After the second night, they remembered our preferred dining time and the number of seats we needed and held a table for us. That was very accommodating. Of the 11 of us, 5 were age appropriate for the kids club. My 7-year-old has been on 11 cruises and this was the first time she was willing to go to kids club. The 4-year old and 2-year old were begging to go. The 2-year old even cried the last night we had to take him out and tried to run back in, despite being there for three hours. Whatever went on in there, the kids loved. Entertainment was good. We saw three shows. Two were music based and were entertaining. Not great, but enjoyable. The juggler, Romano Frediani, was awful. We couldn't decide if he was just a bad juggler or a bad juggler on purpose in order to get laughs. His show was a train wreck and only got good after the audience started heckling. The casino staff was very knowledgeable and very friendly. In fact, all of the on-board staff was fantastic. A complete 180 of the ground staff. The only thing that was annoying outside of the weather was presenting to customs first thing in the morning in Key West, our last day. The line was 45 minutes long and not real fun. Disembarkation was a breeze. No wait at customs and our luggage was waiting for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Normally we would spend Christmas at home with mountains of snow but for 2010 we decided to do something different. I have been on 2 previous Disney cruises before this Holiday cruise and they have both been superb! This cruise was a ... Read More
Normally we would spend Christmas at home with mountains of snow but for 2010 we decided to do something different. I have been on 2 previous Disney cruises before this Holiday cruise and they have both been superb! This cruise was a little bit different, longer cruise more people than ever before and it stop at at least 2 brand new ports to DCL. I purchased a miniature Christmas tree to make the room more festive for the season! There were some ups and downs with the service but in all a great vacation. All tours and excursions listed were booked direct with DCL. Pre Night: Hyatt Regency at the Orlando Airport(MCO). Great hotel they were going through renovations so the morning of the cruise was a little different but still very efficient. Embarkation: Was Painfully Slow because we could not do our check in and the airport because we were considered International guests we had to wait in some very long lines. Once they started boarding everything became rushed and was difficult. Once on board we went to top siders buffet and enjoyed our lunch and waited for the sweet tunes When you wish upon a star... Dinner Service: Our head server was not up to par, we rarely saw him and was not as efficient we could see the table be seated after us and still receive there meals before us. He was not bad just I have had better. Our drink waiter was never a bore he was always waiting to fill our glass or create new mind puzzle for us to solve! Overall good service but it did need improvement. Food: Delicious...need I say more? Entertainment: I went to all of the performances the Broadway styles plays were FANTASTIC! The hypnotist was hilarious and as was the balancing act.. the only one I did not enjoy and sad to say I nearly fell asleep was the Jimmy Buffet tribute band. I stayed for the entire performance but I could have skipped on it. Ports of Call: Great completely different then what I've ever done! Movie Theater: Tron, Tangled and Secretariat were the first run movies being played. Characters: There were always plenty to go around we didn't wait in line for them if we saw one open we would go otherwise we walked by with smiles. Christmas: Christmas on the ship was good they had a midnight mass, and Santa Clause brought all the Children a present it was nice to see. All the characters had Christmas Clothing on and they created a special menu for the occasion. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We flew into Orlando on Friday rented a car from Thrifty and spent the day at the beach in Cape Canaveral. Saturday dropped the car off and headed to the port via Thrifty's shuttle, was at the port in minutes and on board the ship ... Read More
We flew into Orlando on Friday rented a car from Thrifty and spent the day at the beach in Cape Canaveral. Saturday dropped the car off and headed to the port via Thrifty's shuttle, was at the port in minutes and on board the ship within 20 maybe 30 minutes. We booked two cabins with me and hubby in an oceanview suite 9260 and kids across the hall in 9262 in the forward of the ship. We've sailed before on the Miracle years ago and don't remember it being so shaky. The ship rocked and rolled the entire cruise but we stilled loved every minute of our vacation. We went to Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. We did not book any excursions through the ship. Bahamas and St Thomas was booked on line and in St Maarten we just did things at the beach at way less then Carnival's prices. Bahamas - only there a few hours we booked a beach excursion at the British Colonial Hilton as we thought it was too short of time to do Atlantis and not feel rushed. It was just OK. The website listed all kinds of beach activities but there were none - just the beach and a swimming pool. We paid $50 for each person when arrived we got $130 in food and drink credits. St Thomas - did Godfry's island tour. it was great! we shopped, toured the island with Godfrey as out tour guide, and spend hours at Magen's Bay Beach all for $30 per person. if you are scared of heights dont do this tour. We went way up in teh mountains on narrow winding roads but the views were breath taking although i was terrified. St Maarten - we took a water taxi to the beach but you can walk. we rented beach chairs a beach bed and got drinks for $20. the kids rented a jet ski for $50 for 1/2 hour and went para sailing for $50 i went out on the boat with them for $25. We were so exhausted after the to days in St. thomas and St. Maarten that we slept the who next day! We did the dining room every day with the 8:15 meal time. it worked out great for the comedy shows and shows in the encore theatre- which were just ok. We had the buffet breakfast every morning which was great, too - they had the same food each day but switched up on the type of egg dish and you also could get omletes made to order. Dinner was great in the Crimson dining room and the staff was excellent in the dining room and each time we left our room it was spotless when we came back once we started putting the "need service" sign on the door. The kids did the slides one day i did too and skinned my arm -- oouch. Overall we had a great time, but on the "Sea Days' we all were bored. the kids did do the camps for their age one day and never went back. Although we enjoyed cruising with Carnival next time we plan to try another line. also, we will never book a cruise that have multiple Sea Days back to back. We liked getting off the ship and having fun on the islands. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
OK, We are big fans of RCCL, but have enjoyed Carnival as well. So we figured we'd try out the new ship on the water from Carnival. Embarkation was fast and reasonably efficient. No complaints there, as we were among ... Read More
OK, We are big fans of RCCL, but have enjoyed Carnival as well. So we figured we'd try out the new ship on the water from Carnival. Embarkation was fast and reasonably efficient. No complaints there, as we were among 4200 others trying to get on, they did a good job-keeping people moving. Food: we have found that Carnival ranks right up there in quality of food, the only draw back was that breakfast buffet in the Gathering was repetitious, same thing every day. However dinner in the Scarlet dining room (late seating) was very good. Shows: This is where I think RCCL does a better job, the shows on the Dream where just ok, with the exception of the hypnotist Doug MacDraw he was great, if you have a chance to see him perform and are curious about being hypnotize, you should volunteer, he was awesome. The GOOD: With the recent press about bed bugs everywhere, when we arrived in our cabin 9254, we conducted a very thorough exam of everything in the room, and found it to be clean and free of any signs of bed bugs, we give the Dream 100% clean rating, no worries, but you should educate yourselves on the issues of bed bugs, how to look for them and what to expect. www.bedbugregistry.com is a good resource. The BAD: Not thinking, we booked for the week of Thanksgiving, never again ... 4200 people on board, 1600 were kids ... kids let loose to run a muck uncontrolled. Camp Carnival was way under staffed for what they were about to experience. You can imagine what that was like, kids can be rude when running in packs, don't get me wrong I love kids, but when left to their own devices or challenges of peer pressure kids can be pretty nasty with no manners. Also, I had read about the terrible smell on lower decks of Dream, and that is why we selected deck 9, but I had a chance to wander down the halls of deck 2 after being at sea for 1 1/2 days and P-U ... it was rank with methane stink, I don't know why it smelled so bad but it was awful. If you book on Dream get above deck 4 or you will experience some stink. This being a new ship it is already showing signs of wear, hall way corners bashed in a couple of places, carpeting stained, bureau draws that would not close tightly, and there was this constant pounding noise and shutter from the engine room that could be felt in mostly any interior location of the ship. Granted we were in very rough water, 15-foot seas all week. The big question did we enjoy our trip? - Yes very much, did we have a good time? Yes again very much, would we cruise on this ship again? Probably not unless the price was a factor or a new area like Mediterranean cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I won't go into the ship's features since that has already been done at length. I will just hit our likes and dislikes about this ship. And I want to comment on our cabin, #2456, because prior to departure, I could find no info ... Read More
I won't go into the ship's features since that has already been done at length. I will just hit our likes and dislikes about this ship. And I want to comment on our cabin, #2456, because prior to departure, I could find no info on it. We left Port Canaveral on a week-long Thanksgiving cruise to the Caribbean with 38 family members. This was not a ship or an itinerary we would ordinarily have chosen, but we went to be with our family, and it was wonderful in that regard. The Dream is huge, but it did not feel unmanageable, save for the horribly frenetic cafeteria, and the fact that debarking at ports was harried and, particularly at St. Thomas, disorganized. We booked our own air in and out of Orlando, but used Carnival's shuttles to/from port. That was seamless, and well worth the money. I would never bother renting a car. Not worth it. The port was pretty well organized, but not smooth like, say, Baltimore, which is incredible. Much better than the other Florida ports. (Disclosure: I have not used Miami.) Overview: The Dream, basically, is the gigantic Ramada Inn of cruise ships. It is clean and serves its purpose. Everything was tidy and well-maintained. I would not call the ship beautiful or ritzy, but it is functional and not gaudy, which in the cruise industry, says a lot. Except for a horrid Thanksgiving Day meal, where the food was terrible and our entrees and deserts were reportedly "stolen by another waiter," the food in the main dining room was good. Carnival always surprises me with this fact. Service was a shoddy circus, but honestly, the staff was worked within an inch of their lives and spread way, way too thin. Shame on Carnival. The outdoor cookout area was amazing. Best. Ribs. Ever. That was the consensus of every guy in our group. The cafeteria stuff was the usual; not great, not bad. The Indian buffet was decent and pretty authentic, but I never saw any curries or tikka masala. Hamburgers were so-so, hot dogs were synthetic yuck. Pasta bar was a joke. Somewhere, a gang of Italian chefs is rolling on the floor with laughter. Cabins: Our cabin was an OV, far aft, and bland but plenty spacious. Our group had also booked a number of inside cabins nearby, and they were very, very nice, and not claustrophobic in the least. Almost all of us were aft on Deck 2 and it was quiet. We had some mildly rough seas outbound, but felt little motion. By contrast, one family in our group was far forward on Deck 2, and apparently the motion and engine noise was horrific. We usually get balcony cabins because I tend to motion sickness and sit outside a lot. But again, we wanted to be near our group, and we did not suffer in the least in this cabin. When I felt queasy, I just stood at the window awhile, or went above. Bedding was quite good, pillows and mattresses just excellent. We slept like babies. Bathrooms were marvelous, and amazingly well designed. I have had worse bathrooms in large suites on better lines. Someone should get an award for this design. There was space for everything. The cabin, for what we paid, was extremely spacious, even though this was one of the rooms which wraps around a service stairwell. I think there must have been complaints about this, because prior to departure, our TA called and said that Carnival was going to give us $100 back because the cabin had been classified down. The hallway also cuts into the room a little oddly, if you look at the deck plan. But we had no noise at all, and I would not hesitate to rebook this cabin. It was an incredible value. The spa: We paid for a pair of week-long spa passes, and should have just flung the cash overboard instead. The Thermo pool was tepid. There were no spa hot tubs such as you might have on NCL. No showers in the ladies' room that I could find. The heated loungers were crowded. The music was loud. The other patrons were loud, too. Forget closing your eyes and relaxing here. One of the beds was broken, and another broke beneath a lady as she lay down on it. On port days, they had clearly oversold day passes to the detriment of those who had bought weekly passes. Just do not waste your money. Additionally, the serenity deck, like all such decks on all such ships, was packed. Loungers were reserved with towels that lay there all day. None of the hot tubs was above about 100 degrees. I can understand this on the public decks, because people let their kids get in them. But on the serenity deck, they should be cranked. Instead, they were not worth getting wet for. Now, the infamous smell. This really does exist. There is a definite odor of sewage gas at intervals along the corridors of Deck 2, and if I remember correctly, Deck 3. It is unpleasant. If you had a cabin near these spots, you would have a miserable journey indeed. I never attempted to pinpoint these spots, but wish now I had done. Perhaps someone else has? This is a definite design flaw. I hope it is not dangerous. I did not smell sewer gas on any of the public decks. Entertainment & Activities: The gym was quite decent. Our group did not use any of the kids clubs. What entertainment we saw was fine. We are not big on ship entertainment. I will say that the entertainment director was very funny. Jeff the Fun Dude. How he keeps it up, I'll never know. That crowd would wear me down in two weeks. I would give serious thought to promoting Jeff. Maybe put him in charge of service? Which brings me to . . . Service: And here we come to the sticking point. All the staff were kind, but this ship felt seriously understaffed, and the workers are run ragged. They LOOKED tired and worn. They showed significantly less enthusiasm than other crews we'd seen on other lines, and even on other, older Carnival ships. It was sad. Even bar service in clubs and the main restaurant was tepid—and that's the bread and butter of a cruise line. We were practically screaming, "PLEASE, take our money!" Nada. I begin to think the staff on the Dream is being treated like a gang of galley slaves. I would rather pay more, and have a staff adequately paid and rested. Don't get me wrong. Save for six calls to Guest Relations going totally unanswered, our needs were adequately met. Nothing suffered. Except the crew. Summary: If you are on a tight, tight budget, and don't mind roving gangs of loud children, tepid hot tubs, and watching others suffer in your service, this ship might be for you. Despite what I think are lovely cabins and good food, I don't think it is for me. But I have tried to be fair in my ratings and review. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
The Carnival Dream is a beautiful ship. The decor was tasteful and surprising subdued by Carnival's usual themes. We really liked the increase in width of the ship as this reduced the congestion and you were able to walk freely. ... Read More
The Carnival Dream is a beautiful ship. The decor was tasteful and surprising subdued by Carnival's usual themes. We really liked the increase in width of the ship as this reduced the congestion and you were able to walk freely. Embarkation: We landed in Orlando airport at noon, and we were on the ship by 10 after 1:00. Very smooth embarkation process. No Problems. Good Job Carnival! Stateroom: We had a aft balcony and this was by far the best room we have ever had. The room was spacious and well laid out. More than enough closet space, two windows and a beautiful long balcony. (No this was not a suite) Room Steward: I can honestly say we have never had a bad room steward in all of the 13 cruises we have had to date. Lito, was one of the best we have had. My husband and I enjoy talking to the stewards and finding out a little about their lives and where they are from. They are always willing to share a little bit of themselves. Food: We did wait a little for our food as the waiters had a distance to travel to the galley. However the food was always, hot, to our specifications and very good. We really did not have any complaints. The delivery of food was delayed at times, but you could see the waiters hustling. Perhaps the galley has some time management issues to work out. I am sure they will. Ken: Maitre'd. By far the best Maitre'd we have ever had. We enjoy his singing, he visited our table on two occasions, he spoke to the patrons. He clearly enjoys his job and he made the dinning experience special for all. This was the third time we have had Ken as our Maitre'd and he is definitely a pleasure. Elevators: Yes, the elevators are congested at times. But only at peak times. The trick is to identify those peak times and tweak your schedule a bit. When you have a crowd of people all determined to get to the same place at the same time you are going to see a lot of bad manners. Unfortunately, this happened quire frequently on this trip. Especially, in the elevators. There were many times when the door would open, and you were bowled over by people barreling into the elevator, never giving those inside a chance to get off. This was very frustrating. Pool areas: Definitely smaller than the other ships, but plenty of seating on deck. I liked that the congestion was minimized in this area. On smaller Carnival ships the main center of activity was near the pool area. And we tend to avoid those areas in the daytime because they are busy,noisy and crowded. On the Dream we found this area to be pleasant. Odor: I noticed the odor when we sat on the deck in the mornings. The odor was coming from the public rest room area. It smelled like sewer. However it was slight and only when the wind blew a particular way. It was NOT constant. We spent a lot of time in this area and only noticed it in the mornings. I don't know why this occurred at this time and not at other times? Shows:We didn't see the shows because the long lines. It was not worth standing in line and you were not guaranteed to get a seat. This was definitely the biggest issue that we saw. Carnival needs to get a handle on crowd control. As this is a larger ship, the food areas, and the shows areas are not large enough to accommodate the increase in passengers. Comedy Shows: we did catch two comedy shows. They were very good but we were unable to go back to the shows for the second half as the lines were horrendous. Again, perhaps taking reservations-perhaps offering the shows more often? I don't know what the answer is. IF CARNIVAL does not take immediate steps to correct this they will have a serious drop in their customer satisfaction. Food Lines: The only way to get around the massive lines were to slightly adjust the times you ate. If you went very early to breakfast you were okay. If you went after 2 for lunch you were okay. Otherwise, you had long lines, people cutting in and very rude behaviors. Getting a table during the peak times was a challenge. Pasta Bar: Best new idea that Carnival has had! You fill out exactly how you want your food prepared, take a seat and 15 minutes later you food is delivered to your table. The food is FANTASTIC! This cruise was unique in that there were over 600 platinum members. The highest in Carnival history. The one thing that stood out was the demanding, know it all behavior of some passengers. My husband and I enjoy talking to people about their experiences. Always eager to get some ideas, tips, knowledge from other people's experiences. And when appropriate, we share our experiences. This is very pleasant for us. On this trip there were a lot of bloggers, know it alls, and snobby passengers. My husband and I are platinum members and it continues amaze me how some people act. John Heald: The senior cruise director of Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival seriously needs to look at who they have chosen to represent the cruise line. This man is quite irritating, made a few insulting comments regarding the French, (No, I am not French) He also made a few sexual innuendos and was basically painful to watch. Apparently, he has a following of bloggers who like him. A lot of bloggers were on this trip. However personally I don't see the attraction. He was the one carnival employee that I wrote a negative review on. I hope Carnival realizes the liability this employee brings to their reputation. Operational Problems experienced during the cruise: Loss of power: Hey, things happen, things break, they fixed it, they gave the people stuck the elevators a free cruise. San Juan: Ship would not fit in the pier. People were disappointed. We received 20.00 back that was our port fee. This was 100% carnival's fault, as well as the port. Perhaps we should have received more back. But, we were not personally disappointed, and we arrived at Grand Turk earlier than expected. We had more time on this beautiful island and we were quite happy. Debarkation: Fantastic! Smooth! Quick!! Carnival Dream: In April 2010. We are returning to the Dream for their normal Western itinerary. I expect Carnival will have the crowd issued addressed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I was excited for months- I booked this cruise last January. I am so glad I did! I am new at reviews-so I will try not to ramble. Embarkation: My husband is platinum, so there was no wait for us. The process was easy as they whisked us ... Read More
I was excited for months- I booked this cruise last January. I am so glad I did! I am new at reviews-so I will try not to ramble. Embarkation: My husband is platinum, so there was no wait for us. The process was easy as they whisked us into the office to sit and check us in. The lady was very sweet and gave my kids activity books with crayons, pencils and candy canes. The trip could have stopped in this office and my kids would have been happy. There was a bit of a hold up with the photos getting on the ship. I have never understood why they set these pictures up at the entrance to the ship. It creates congestion. This ship had 2 photo opportunities-one just before getting aboard, and one just after with an "astronaut". Seems to me these could be set up off to the side so the people could go back after getting settled-but I suppose it is a money thing. Get them while they can't go anywhere. The ship is gorgeous! It has the nicest decor of the 4 ships I have sailed with Carnival. Sure there were layout/ design flaws I would have hoped not to encounter on a new ship, but it was still pretty. The Lido: was very busy. Fortunately, I do not spend a lot of time there. I did wait in long lines on the lido on the first day when there was nothing else to do anyway. When boarding the ship, you will either snap up a pool chair, explore a bit, or eat. Nothing else is open. So I chose to brave the hour long wait at the Mongolian station I had read so much about on here. I knew I would wait a while, and this was the only day I was willing to do it. It was food. It wasn't spectacular, but I do not like eating at the regular buffet lines. I only like to eat at stations they fix it for you right there and dump it on your plate (think the Mongolian, omelette, deck 5 bbq-yum). This leads back to a food poisoning case I swear is from every person on the ship having germs and dirty hands, etc. then going to the buffet, using the tongs and then throwing them back in the food. That is against health code here, but I guess Carnival doesn't concern themselves with it. Anyway, I digress. Scarlett Dining: Just about all my meals, including breakfast, brunch on some mornings, and dinner were in the Scarlet dining room. It was lovely. Our family of 5 sat with another family of 5. Our table mates, who have cruised much more than us, were very nice and shared with us some of their wisdom about different ships, ports, etc. Sadly, my children did not eat with us most of the time. My teenager just about always ate at the lido deck after the first night. My boys wanted to eat with their friends at Camp Carnival. My husband and I agreed to let them go. How often do we have a "dinner date"? I cannot recall my table number now, but we were on the first floor of the dining room, center of the room, and Lucy was our waiter after the first night. What about the first night? I barely remember that guy-I don't know what happened to him. Lucy did a great job! She remembered our names, was always very friendly. She tried to get me to dance with her, but I do not really like that kind of thing. The food was amazing! As for people who have complained about it, I don't know what those people are used to eating, but the food was better than any gourmet food I have had before at home! I used to go out to restaurants quite a bit, and had my own kitchenware and gourmet food business. I can not complain about the food! Especially when someone has to prepare it, bring it to me, and clean the dishes. Note about the brunch- My husband and I did this 2 days. The first day was great! There were flowing mimosas (free), our waiter (not Lucy) did an amazing job getting to us quickly, not making us wait to long. We also had a nice family sit with us at brunch. We later saw the family several times and we were happy to see them, hear about their day, etc. When I ordered the chicken mozzarella on french toast, it sounded yummy. When I got it, it wasn't. My fault though. I guess I did not think about a tomato sauce on my french toast. My waiter graciously removed it and brought me a different entree in a snap. I got the eggs benedict-couldn't go wrong with that. Oh my, it was delicious! The second day- was terrible. It was my husband and me again. They sat us at a table for 2 (we usually prefer to sit with someone else for the conversation). With our table in the middle of the row, by the serving station, and every table for two along the window open, we asked to be moved. The waiter said I would have to go back and ask the hostess, which I did. We were seated at the window, our lady waitress came, poured our mimosas, gave us our menus. She came back a couple minutes later and took our order. She then disappeared for over 30 minutes. We had to keep troubling the waiter of the table near us for drinks, bread etc. Finally, we decided to walk out. By this time, I wasn't even hungry anymore. This was a disappointment. We were told by the other waiter-very sorry. Brunch is new for them and they are still working out all the kinks. I am not sure why there are kinks, do they not serve breakfast? Deck 5 Aft BBQ: We discovered this on the first day at sea(how lucky!) We both enjoyed the food, did not have to wait in a live at any time with more than 5 people in front of us. The food was fresh, delicious and the chefs were very friendly. The even posed for pictures for me an a few other guests. Bad news- I had an allergic reaction to something I ate there. I had the hamburger slider and a quesadilla. Within minutes, I had hives up and down my arms! I quietly went to the chef on the end for a list of ingredients. He pointed me over to one of those important looking people in the white uniforms. He was very nice and helpful. He asked if I needed medical attention, which I chose not to get. This isn't the first time it has happened to me, so I knew they would go away. I think I narrowed it down to chili peppers. I didn't really itch, and the food was so delicious, I still went back the next day we were at sea. Wasabi Sushi bar: i love sushi, but this was ridiculous. I was only able to get sushi on 2 of the nights. The other members are right about this. The line is very long, they only give you three pieces (though I just asked for more than one plate) and they do not let you choose. I suppose it did force me into trying new sushi I had never had before (which I did not like). It was okay. The second night I went, I looked at the offering first. I didn't think I could stomach any of it, so I skipped it. I wish they would do a California roll each night just to please the sushi beginners. I just recently started eating the shrimp and it is cooked. I do not care for raw sushi. Not to mention, the night I did wait in line, I waited over 30 minutes. As soon as I neared the front of the line, an employee came around and informed us of a second line opening up. Ugh. Very frustrating. The Steak house: Very disappointing. Had to do it once though. With a half empty restaurant, they sat us in the back between a restroom and an exit. The service was less than stellar. A meal thought was supposed to take about 2 1/2 hours took over three. We asked for our steaks well done, no pink, and both were about raw and bloody. And it took the waitress forever to come back and check on us. The lobster was delicious, the desserts (cheesecake for hubby, chocolate sampler for me) were amazing. My husbands biggest complaint: the dirty table next to us with food and paper on the table and floor. We mentioned this to the manager, her response was is that it is their policy to not remove linens in front of guests. My husband told her he would prefer to sit next to the marble table (under the linens) than next to a dirty table all night. She said she would forward that to Carnival and that for future guests sake they would consider this. Overall, the food (especially the steaks) were not any better than the dining room food, we had better service in the dining room. Missed the Captains cocktail party, but made it for the past guest party and the farewell party. Those bartenders took it in stride! They were great! I told them what i wanted, then asked can i have 2 at a time? They said of course! That way, I did not have to wait on them for another as they helped other guests. My husband did this as well. We saw other people order 3 at a time. It was nice to not have to pay $7 for a beer for the the hour! The comedy shows were funny enough: We didn't wait in any lines, so that must have been our luck. We strolled in after the first show started, and sat at the bar. Then for the second show, we did not have to leave because my husband is a platinum member. We go to stay, move up and improve our seats and enjoyed the next show. That guy was really funny. He was an equal opportunity comedian. he didn't care about race or nationality. He picked on everyone. I laughed, so I considered him good. The piano bar: Vince, Vince, Vince. We loved the piano bar- that is usually our thing! We were a bit disappointed after the first couple nights with Vince,. He repeatedly told the same jokes/toasts to the same crowd each night, played the same songs, and often said" I don't know that one" but took your money anyway. Perhaps he could come up with some sort of rotating schedule for his comments, or Carnival could by him a joke/toast book? Really disappointing was when he used his same tip lines and humor at the caroling party many on the ship brought their kids to. In the 20 minutes I was there with my children, Vince made several comments I found rude about tips (a la piano bar) and sounds of disgust and saying something to the effect of "another one???" over having to be awake at 12:30 in the day and playing Christmas carols. I don't know if Vince does not celebrate Christmas, or just had too much to drink the night before, but his attitude should have been better for this one 30 minute segment that many of the children looked forward to. Casino: I have met friendlier dealers in Vegas. All I ask is that if you are going to take my money, and I know you will 99 out of 100 times, do it with a friendly smile and act like you are glad I sat at your table. Shows: I fell asleep and missed the Dancing in the street show everyone has raved about! I wish they did this show on a night you had been at sea all day. I was so worn out from the day in port, I couldn't stay awake and had to take a nap after dinner! Then I did not wake up in time for the show. My husband saw it and said it was great! We both went to the country show, I thought the song selection could have been more modern. They did a lot of old stuff. And the black man and Italian woman who were the stars looked extremely labored when it came to this kind of music. This definitely was not their genre of music. They did a spectacular show for the holiday show, and her voice really shined! Also, all the children had been working on different numbers throughout the week, were called up on stage and were part of the show. It was nice to have them do that, and it felt really special for my boys. An added bonus was the stage was set up for "Christmas" and i got some amazing snapshots of the boys with the decor and the dancers and singers in a great light. The pictures came out great! They were all very friendly and acted really appreciative when the boys gave them the candy canes they brought on the ship to hand out on Christmas. Water Slides were awesome, but the stairs seemed to shake in the wind. It scared me to let my 50 lb. boys walk up them and wait on their own. So i either rode just after them or just waited in line, then walked back down he stairs. That drainpipe was the scarier one for me! It went very fast! Laser show: too much wind to make it really visible the first night. But my family still enjoyed it. We sat on the lido deck, with provided fresh, warm blankets and cocoa. It really felt like winter/ Christmas time! A couple nights later: Awesome! It worked perfectly to the tunes of -oh I can not remember! It was fabulous, though. Camp Carnival: Can't say enough about these fabulous ladies! They seem to truly enjoy their jobs! They work very hard, with many children at a time. They never once seemed to lose their patience, raise their voice, etc. I don't know how they do it day in and day out. The playrooms also rocked! They had everything! They were the biggest I have ever seen on a Carnival ship. Here are some things that we missed that i would book again just to make sure I get to do/see: the Pasta bar: Saw it once when it was closed, then forgot about it until it was too late The Indian food station: the best time to try something new is when it is free! Never saw it, or it was closed when I did and i did not realize what it was the Serenity deck: with kids this would have been nice to escape to. Unfortunately, my son was sea sick the last day and a half so unable to go to Camp Carnival. Bingo, shows with Todd (who rocks by the way!)galley tour, ice carving, towel/napkin folding, cooking demo, drink mixology contest, etc. Seems like I have a bit of negatives here, but i assure you, no vacation is perfect and we , overall, had a great time and would sail on this ship again. Any day we are doing something other than working, cooking and cleaning ourselves is great and better than being home! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Hi Everyone, Well after being home for a week, I'm finally ready to share my family's experience on the Carnival Dream for its first New Year's Cruise. We (family of 4) have traveled on all major cruise lines (Carnival, ... Read More
Hi Everyone, Well after being home for a week, I'm finally ready to share my family's experience on the Carnival Dream for its first New Year's Cruise. We (family of 4) have traveled on all major cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian, Costa, Disney), and this was our third cruise on Carnival. Our two favorite cruise lines are Carnival and Royal Caribbean. I will try to make the review as accurate as possible, as I have the capers in front of me. Please feel free to ask any questions. This is a long and detailed review, and I have highlighted and summarized the outstanding aspects of our cruise in addition to the areas for improvement at the bottom. Fortunately, none of the major complaints about the Dream were true. We had a really very good week aboard the Dream, and I will give an overview of our very good week; I will also share some suggestions for Carnival from our family and from other cruisers both for the Dream and Carnival's other ships to help improve Carnival go from very good to great. We arrived at the pier at 11:30. Boarding was extremely well-managed and easy. We had filled out all of our paperwork online, so we went through a short security line and walked up to the desk to receive our sail and sign cards. The whole process took about 20-25 minutes until we were on the ship. We walked into the lobby which was gorgeous. In addition to the ocean plaza, the lobby is a great place to sit down, people watch, and listen to Cool Breeze play, a fantastic duo. The rest of the day, we toured the ship, tried the Pasta Bar and Pizza for lunch (great choices in addition to everything else on lido), and just hung out around the ship. The entertainment throughout the week was amazing at times, while ok at others. The live music throughout the ship was A+ (except for the Calypso Duo). Voo Doo, the band that played in the Ocean Plaza and on the lido for New Years was exceptional. We, in addition to many others, often sat down with sushi and a drink while listening to them play. They took requests and played our favorites. Great job. Cool Breeze was a GREAT duo, and their quieter music perfectly fit the atmosphere of the atrium. Lastly, Vince in the Piano bar was AMAZING. He had the place PACKED from start to finish. He had everyone engaged and singing all night long every single night of the cruise - especially after New Years. He took requests and really knows how to interact and work the crowd. We have never seen a piano bar so energized and into it. Great job Vince! Unfortunately, the piano bar was really smoky at times. We would sometimes have to walk out, and we often witnessed others walking out, especially with their kids. As for ship activities, there is definitely room for improvement. Dividing the ship into the red and blue is really old and corny. Aren't there other pool games and contests that we can have besides the "hairy chest contest?" Master Mixology is a step in the right direction; it's something new and entertaining. New activities, especially for repeat cruisers would be great. Maybe Carnival can consider some new games and competitions in the pool. Bingo was boring, and we miss when bingo callers would make jokes to make bingo fun and entertaining. There were many announcements, yet there was not an announcement for the marriage game show, so many people did not attend this which was disappointing. The Calypso duo could have played a little longer. Not only this, but they were dull, they did not energize and engage the crowd, and did not play songs that we like and have heard of. The music was mostly pre-recorded / synchronized. PLEASE BRING BACK THE CALYPSO BANDS (4 band members) WHO PERFORM LIVE, ENERGIZE AND INTERACT WITH THE CROWD AT TIMES, AND PLAY SONGS WE KNOW AND LIKE. This is our (and many cruisers) favorite thing about cruising (laying out, having a drink, and listening to the live calypso band), and it was our biggest disappointment. The comedy club is a GREAT concept, and while all 4 comedians were good and entertaining, Al Ernst was our favorite. The ventriloquist Jerry Goodspeed provided for a great variety of entertainment and was very funny. Great job. The juggler Edge was good as well. Dancing in the Streets was one of, if not the BEST show we have seen at sea. What everyone has said about it is true - do not miss it. Get Ready was ok, nothing special, and we didn't even bother seeing the Xtreme Country show... but we heard those who went mostly didn't like it. The singers, dancers, and show band are ALL VERY TALENTED. Entertainment as a whole: A- Staff: EVERY SINGLE crew member works and tries extremely hard. They are all so friendly and both try and do their best, and I wish I could name and recognize all 1,400 crew members. Every single crew member went above and beyond. Our waiter Mario and assistant waiter Anselmo were the best out of all of our cruises. They truly went above and beyond. One bar waiter Octavious remembered our name after buying one drink, and he is such a nice person. We felt bad for the man at the pizza bar - some passengers have the nerve to have an attitude after waiting for a minute or two and to speak up to him. He was often the only one there during the day and worked extremely hard and does not deserve anything but praise. Very nice person who works extremely hard and should also be recognized - great job. Again, this is a very special group of crewmembers who all deserve to be recognized and rewarded for working so hard and going out of their way. The new maitre'd in the dining room who took over for Ken (Ante or Andre?) who has worked for Carnival for 14 or 15 years made appearances at tables and was very visible. We had made a recommendation to him about serving bacon in the same line as the omelet station to avoid waiting on line twice. The next morning, there was bacon at the omelet stations. Wow, what great attentiveness and customer service. A++ Rooms: We were in a balcony and inside stateroom on deck 9. Great location with the lido deck right above us. The robes are a great amenity, and the new beds are very comfortable. We got the main abc, nbc, fox, and cnn channels on the tv. A+ Lido: This is where we spent most of our time during the day. As I said, the staff all work extremely hard. This goes for all of the bar waiters, waiters working the lido, in addition to the deck attendants. They were ALWAYS cleaning and walking around. They were very polite. While we enjoyed our time on the lido deck, there is definitely some room for improvement here. As I said, Carnival really needs to go back to the full calypso bands (not duos). This is a main aspect of cruising for us and many others. It affects so many people out on the lido all day, every day. I remember when bands used to take requests, play our favorite Bob Marley and Caribbean songs, and sometimes at sailaways, even encourage guests to do the limbo or have fun and dance to their music. Carnival needs to go back to bigger, real calypso bands and longer hours. More, varied activities need to be done on the lido, and THE BIG SCREEN NEEDS TO BE USED MUCH less during the day. It is ok to have a football game on IN THE BACKGROUND WITHOUT SOUND, but we should not be forced to watch and listen to this and movies for our entire sea day. Not having the band play outside by the pool (and for some reason putting them inside in the ocean plaza on our sea day) and not having one single activity by the pool on the last sea day was a big scheduling mistake. There should be bands and activities many days, especially sea days. In addition to getting actual calypso bands like Carnival used to have, it would be interesting to on occasion see some of the other bands and duos on deck. In addition to this, the concerts played on the big screen should be more varied (Bruce, Dave Matthews, Billy Joel, Elton John, Tina Turner...) and they should ONLY be played on occasion during the day. Other than the occasional concerts and the morning show, the big screen on ALL Carnival ships should NOT be used during the day (unless muted). We had to wake up early to save a chair on sea days as if we didn't, we wouldn't have gotten chairs in the main lido area. Maybe Carnival can expand this area a little on the Magic. It's not that big of a problem though. The screen is cool to have and use at night, and the laser shows are also a great addition. Movies under the stars is also cool; the daytime use of the screen is the only problem. The slides and water park are fun for all ages, and the adults only area is nice and secluded for adults. Food: Very good! From pizza, to the pasta bar, to the main lido buffet, to the deli, to the Tandori, (didn't try the Mongolian Wok but heard it was great), to the burgers, to the burrito bar, to the sushi, to the main dining room food, everything was VERY GOOD. This is the first ship where the sushi was actually good, and we LOVED going for a pre-dinner sushi snack. VERY GOOD job to the sushi chef. The lanai bbq was also a very creative and tasty idea. A+ Observations: The front desk and customer service staff were very helpful and nice. We made one recommendation to add a chef to the deli during peak hours to help reduce long lines. They not only added a chef to the deli, but we received a call to follow-up with us and they notified the maite'd. A+ customer service. Security was very visible throughout our voyage. This definitely makes us feel comfortable knowing they are always out and keeping the ship safe. The ocean plaza is a GREAT addition, and it is a perfect area to enjoy the sushi, listen to the great band Voo Doo, enjoy a drink, etc. There were 2700 past guests onboard. One night before dinner, the back of the ship (Piano Bar, back lounge...) was open for past guests, and the drinks and appetizers were plentiful. The show band played and many people were dancing. Great job in making this hour very enjoyable. A+ for the past guest party. Also, A+ for New Years Eve. This was our first New Years onboard, and being at sea bringing in the new year with several thousand guests and crew was an amazing experience. Voo Doo played on the lido, and it was fantastic how the big screen switched between the Lido deck and Times Square. Champagne and New Years hats were plentiful, and everyone seemed to be out and having a great night. What a way to start off the new year. Thank you for making this one of the best New Years ever. *Carnival should definitely fix their tipping system. On other cruise lines with automatic tipping, we hand our cabin steward, waiter, and assistant waiter an envelope with a slip that says we prepaid our gratuity for them. We hand it to them so we know it goes directly to them. Also this method ensures that more people tip (just knowing that you have something to hand the crew members who have helped you). Also, Carnival should announce the importance of tipping and the importance of filling out the surveys and acknowledging crewmembers who have gone out of their way for you and should be recognized. I did not hear it once; while it may have been announced at the debarkation talk, it should be announced and/or typed in a place where everyone can see and/or hear it (at one of the main shows and/or in one or two of the capers). In summary: The Positive Things: -The small things like having a magician walk around the ship (at dinner and through the promenade) to perform tricks. -The sushi. Having really good sushi (first time we had good sushi on a ship) as a pre-dinner snack was really good for a change. Great addition, good sushi and choices each night, and excellent sushi chef. -The bands - Cool Breeze, Voo Doo, and Vince in the Piano Bar stood all stood out as exceptional. Cool Breeze was a perfect band to have at night in the atrium or in the Ocean Plaza and are very talented. We could listen to and dance to Voo Doo all day and night whether it be in the Ocean Plaza or on the lido. Vince had the piano bar packed and singing all night long. The show band is also a great group of talented musicians. -Dancing in the Street (and some of the other entertainment) - This is a fantastic show that is not to be missed. The variety entertainment, especially the ventriloquist, was also very good. -The food - the new additions such as the burrito bar, pasta bar, tandori, and lanai bbq are very good... in addition to the deli, pizza, sushi, and dining room food (try the lobster and cold soups, they're great!). -The comedy club - having four comedians perform both family and adult comedy is a good addition. They all did a good job, especially Al Ernst. This is a cool venue and a great addition to Carnival's entertainment. -The water park provides fun for anyone, any age. -The staff (every single staff member) - We LOVED our waiter Mario and Assistant Anselmo (Scarlett, Late, table 517). Octavious was a great bar tender who remembered our names after ordering one drink. The man at the pizza bar should be recognized for working alone and so hard. Our room steward Ian kept the room spotless, and I wish I could acknowledge every staff member from the deck attendants to the front desk staff. -Past guest party with all the drinks, music, and appetizers. Room For improvement: -Piano bar - the piano bar was VERY smoky at times. Although it was always packed, maybe Carnival could have and enforce non-smoking hours on a couple of days or a non-smoking piano bar night. -Sea day - there was no entertainment on the lido deck for the entire last day at sea. The calypso duo played in the Ocean Plaza for some reason, and there weren't any pool games or lido entertainment for the entire day at sea. We should have a few new types of lido games (other than the hairy chest contest)... maybe games and competitions in the pool. *In addition to bringing back the full calypso bands, it might be interesting to on occasion see some of the other bands and duos perform on the lido deck. The seaside theater had football on the entire sea day afternoon. This is unacceptable. If used at all during the day, this should only be used (other than the morning show) on mute (and for occasional concerts). -Seaside theater - OVERUSED! It is used properly at night with the laser shows and movies under the stars. During the day, it should ONLY be used for the morning show or if muted (or occasional concerts)... not for movies during the day (with exceptions where it should be used for major events such as the super bowl). We do not want to be entertained by a tv during the day while on vacation. We can watch movies at night or at home. Please limit the use of this during the day. Varied concerts (Dave Matthews, Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen) would be good to have ON OCCASION during the day. Other than the occasional concerts (without repeating them), please do not use the tv during the day and bring back the full calypso band to play throughout the days and the fun varied lido games. -Band - PLEASE BRING BACK THE REGULAR CALYPSO BANDS. This is a favorite aspect of cruising for many people, and the calypso duos just don't do it. The hours were ok (minus the last sea day where they played in the ocean plaza instead of on the lido deck... not their fault), but they were not entertaining or engaging and did not play much recognizable music. Much of it was pre-recorded and synchronized. Please bring back the full (4 person) calypso bands. Having real live calypso music is what cruising is about. There's nothing like having a drink, laying out, while listening to the live band. It also helps when the band is engaging. This sets the tone for the cruise, and it could also help bring back a Caribbean night and a fun deck party. -Sailaway - the duo played a little, but no one from the entertainment staff was out getting the passengers going. What happened to the calypso band playing "feeling hot hot hot," with some of the entertainment staff doing the line dances, and getting the crowd going? There should be a sail away party like we experienced in the past to get the cruise started with a strong, positive vibe. -More chefs at peak hours - To reduce lines during peak hours and to make it easier on the chefs who work so hard, please have more chefs at the deli and pizzeria during peak hours (either lunch on sea days or during sailaway on port days). -Bingo - More games should be played when possible for the $10 or $20, and more importantly, bingo should be fun. Cruising bingo jokes (both regular jokes and for the different numbers) that we have seen on other lines make bingo a fun cruising event. -Pictures - By now, we would have thought Carnival would have gotten this right. First, so many pictures go to waste. There should be a digital system where cards are swiped before photos are taken. Then we can digitally view what we choose to and print only what we buy. This would not only get rid of the waste problem, but it would also allow us to save time by being able to easily locate our pictures. This would also drastically reduce costs. Pictures cost WAY too much money. We would buy more if they were cheaper. Picture packages and just cheaper pictures would result in many guests spending more while being able to buy more pictures and take home more memories from their cruise. *Overall, we would definitely sail the Dream and sail Carnival again. Job well done with the Carnival Dream. Thank you to the entire Carnival Dream staff. Everyone works so hard and is very talented and dedicated. We had a great New Years, and a great week on vacation. We hope to see some of our suggestions taken into consideration and implemented. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our 15th cruise, 5th on RCCL. Because of prices, we had recently done several Carnival cruises, but really wanted to do a RCCL this time. Freedom is now the 2nd largest ship. I really like the larger ships for their amenities, but ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise, 5th on RCCL. Because of prices, we had recently done several Carnival cruises, but really wanted to do a RCCL this time. Freedom is now the 2nd largest ship. I really like the larger ships for their amenities, but I think it is too large when dealing with holiday cruisers. Embarkation was okay; It went relatively fast on line. As a note, RCCL people at the port were very nice and smiled! We avoided the photographers, got into our room quite fast and our luggage was already there. Before doing anything, went to see if we could change our dinner seating. For future reference, we were there @ 1pm. (See below). Went up to the buffet and immediately saw changes in the selections. Carnival has so much more to choose from and RCCL did not have much. It didn't change in 7 days. Room was nice; nice to have a sofa to sit on, but had to climb over beds when put together. We are 61 and not skinny, so it became a chore. TV had little on it when in the cabin and they showed the same movies over and over. I look forward to seeing newer movies on cruises, but not on this one. We had booked late so we got late dining. With so many families on board (Thanksgiving), everyone wanted 6pm. We tried to change and were put on a waiting list. We then went to see about Anytime Dining, but it is anything but! The daily newspaper suggested checking each day for reservations, but they were made before boarding and subsequently couldn't get it. They kept telling us we should have checked earlier even though it was early. RCCL's attempting to have the same amenities as other lines, but failing dismally. Luckily, two days later we were put in a 2 person table. A word about the food. We always looked forward to the food, especially in the dining room, on RCCL. One evening, they served my husband and I filet: 2 slices of beef, 2 asparagus and about a 1/4 cup mashed potatoes. My husband had asked the wait staff her opinion and she suggested the beef. A word to staff: base your opinion on whom you are recommending food portions to. The best part of the cruise were the service personnel. All friendly and helpful. Entertainment was mostly good. Carnival has them beat on production shows & their commedy shows, but the singers at these shows were phenomenal. The jazz show at the Olive & Twist (the last evening) was great showing off the singers' range. The ice shows were good and they were accomodating when we had to change days because of the change of dining time. I must admit, having cruised a lot, we have a lot to compare experiences to. What I liked was the accessibility of the library and that it was truly a quiet place to read. We loved the Promenade and the Coffee shop with it's endless Seattle coffee and snacks. Sorrento's was okay but the pizza is "nothing to write home about!" They did have great little desserts though. The seventh day, they had what could be described as a street party with food samples and some "how to's." What you felt very conscious of was the large numbers of people onboard. I know people are raving about the Oasis, but if the Freedom had too many onboard, I can only imagine how it will be on Oasis. When is big too big. You had to get to most shows a half hour early to get a seat. The Casino was great-bigger than usual and the slots were a bit looser! Cage personnel were very nice as were many of the kiosk personnel. Husband was very disappointed as Saturday am, they ran out of Lox (smoked salmon). This is what he looks forward to on cruises (lox and bagels). Very surprised at this. Sorry to be long winded. Would we do RCCL again? Not unless we could get a better price (we booked after it went down $200, but later found someone got it for almost $200 less through a travel agent. I think next time Carnival. Unfortunately, we are seeing cuts to save $ industry wide. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise and an experiment for us to see what it is like to travel on one of these "monster" ships. This was our tenth cruise and our third with Royal Caribbean (RCL). This was a Christmas cruise and ... Read More
1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise and an experiment for us to see what it is like to travel on one of these "monster" ships. This was our tenth cruise and our third with Royal Caribbean (RCL). This was a Christmas cruise and the ship was full: about 3,500 passengers, including over 1,000 non-US citizens, and 1,500 crew. There were loads of families with ages from infants to very senior citizens. We booked a cabin with verandah on the seventh deck. Details below. In contrast to previous cruises on RCL and others, our request for a table for two at dinner was honored; we were on the mid-level of the three-level dining room. The cruise had three sea days which were very relaxing. 2. Travel to Florida and Embarking: We made our own plane arrangements but used the RCL pre-sailing hotel in Orlando, the Doubletree at Universal, and the RCL bus to port. Cab from the airport to the hotel, including tolls, baggage charges and tip, came to $50 and took about 20 minutes. Hotel was fine, but the first glitch appeared the next morning. RCL has no representative at the hotel; you just receive a sheet of paper at check-in telling you to be in the lobby at a certain time the following morning with your bags. People gathered in the lobby and started drifting out the door toward a bus that turned out to be the right one. My wife and I noticed that everyone in line had preprinted tags on their luggage - except us. It turns out that since we received our RCL travel documents via e-mail, there was no way we could get paper tags for our suitcases. The bus driver seemed to understand the situation and segregated our luggage from the others. On arrival at the pier (a 45 minute ride), while everyone else went in the terminal to process in, we had to fumble with the porters (and an RCL rep) to tag our suitcases. It worked, though, and our bags arrived at our cabin around 5PM, the same time as other cabins around us. Having done Sea Pass check-in on-line got us through the check-in procedures very quickly. We were in our cabin by 1:30. The usual lunch was being served in the Windjammer and Jade areas. One interesting item to note if you order a drink before the ship sails: you will find tax on your bill. A small reminder that you are still in the US until the ship sails. 3. The Mariner of the Seas: What a large ship! And somehow it works! The cabin was a bit small for the two of us - should have reserved a mini-suite. However, there was enough storage space for unpacking clothes. Suitcases fit well under the bed. The closet could have been larger, but we made do. We join others who complain that the shower is very small. My wife is 5'2" and weighs under 100 lbs; she banged her elbows during her first shower. We got the hang of it. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator. There is a TV that receives movies, CNN, ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. A 4-page summary newspaper is available in the library. It takes a while - days - to get a handle on what is where on the ship. You receive a map sheet after boarding, and there are maps at each elevator bay. The elevators are quirky; often you push the button and watch the elevator go right past your floor. There is a huge childrens/teens area and programs for them. I defer to others with children to comment on this part of the ship. While the ship's staff will sell you stamps for your mail, do not look for postcards of the ship. There are none. And the ship's shops only had postcards for stops for previous cruises - none for this cruise. Do nose around the front of the ship on Deck 11, I believe, as there is an unadvertised spot that lets you see the bridge. You don't see all of the bridge, but you do see the Captain's seat and the array of electronic equipment in front of him...very similar to an airline captain's seat. There is a diagram and chart explaining what you see. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer and Jade buffets - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. There is no self-service coffee in this area; you have to ask for it. The dining room's food was very good, well-prepared, and well-served. We only used it for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. The main seating is at 6PM, and the meal is paced so that you are out of there before 8PM. The second seating is at 8:30. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don't try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. The wine list is respectable, and wine is available by the bottle or glass. I only had one meal - Christmas Day - in the dining room that bombed. The menu described the dish as "beef and veal tournedos." There was no veal on my plate, the beef was definitely not a tournedos cut, and the meat was quite leathery. Other than that one slip, no complaints about the dining room, and service there was excellent. We had made reservations on-line for the Portofino specialty restaurant. Excellent food, wine, and service. Well worth the extra charges. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. Due to the number of passengers, the Captain's reception is now held in the Promenade. You still get your glass of champagne but no place to sit. In fact, there are very few places to sit in the public areas; if you want to rest your feet, you need to grab a table in one of the bars. 5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, one casual or Caribbean and four casual. Most people did not bother with doing anything different for "Caribbean." A good number - perhaps half - of men at formal nights were in tuxedos or suits; some who did not want to dress up just did not appear for these meals. Considering how the ladies dress up for these meals, I suggest more men who served in the military obtain miniatures of the medals they were awarded and attach them to their tuxes. It's permissible to do so, and the medals do add some color to our basic black tuxedos. 6. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line on board at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don't need the ship's tour office. RCL's tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship's staff, you have support when there is a problem. As the Captain said, "we do not leave anyone behind, but we do leave on time." Those "standard" 4-page sheets on each stop with a map and recommended stores are hard to come by. They are not available at Guest Services, and the shopping person does not have them with her unless you attend her lecture in person. We did find, though, that the sheets are available at the gangway when you leave the ship. Coco Cay is the same as every other line's "private beach" in the Bahamas. Been there, done that. Enroute to St Thomas we were informed that as we were returning to the US (ie, the Virgin Islands), from the Bahamas, everyone on board would have to go through US immigration whether or not they would get off the ship. At the last moment it was announced that there would be no immigration to deal with. It could be that the immigration staff was stretched thin that morning; we were four cruise ships in port. St Thomas is attractive and was a pleasant stop. Had a couple rain showers while there. St Maarten deserves another visit due to a unique problem when visiting on Christmas Day. By law, all stores in both the Dutch and French sides are shut. A small shop area at the pier - inside the control point - was open as well as a couple restaurants and some street merchants in Marigot on the French side. The island is attractive, but it would be more interesting to see some people moving about. We were again four ships in port. 7. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: sports, lectures, bridge, bingo (for serious players!), etc, etc. Don't forget the rockclimbing wall. And do not forget the ice skating rink. There are times that you can practice skating, and you should try and get tickets (they are free, but are needed) to see the ice show. The show is not of super quality, but remember where you are: on a ship in the Caribbean. You can tell that the skaters, even with all their rehearsals, still have problems with the small size of the rink. The evening shows were fine; the performances by the ship's troupe were very good, and the two comics - one a juggler - were fun. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. Duty-free liquor on board was reasonable; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin the day before disembarking. If you are flying, though, how do you take it home? There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship's photographerspricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account; you receive vouchers and envelopes before the last night on board. Put the vouchers in the (pre-addressed) envelopes, and hand them out. You're done. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service breakfast. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, even bingo) is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship's TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 10. Disembarking: Your bags have to be out before midnight, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin by 7:00 and in one of the designated waiting areas. Your bags are color coded. Disembarking starts around 7:00, and the announcements are made only in the waiting areas. Strong recommendation: Use the RCL "Luggage Valet and Onboard Check-In Service" for $20 per person. You receive special bar coded tags for your luggage. Put them on your bags, put the bags outside your cabin door, and you do not see the bags again until you land at your final airport. The catch? This is only for certain domestic airlines flying out of Orlando, you have to travel all the way on the same airline, and this is only good within the US. You also receive e-ticket boarding passes which also give you the luggage tag number. You arrive at Orlando airport and can go straight to security and on to your gate. At the gate, do check with the counter personnel if the e-ticket passes are OK. The clerk told me, "sometimes the bar codes are OK and sometimes they aren't." It only took her one minute to print off the regular boarding passes for the entire trip. We did see at our home airport that the barcoded tags we put on the bags must have been an identifying code for airline personnel at Orlando as the "regular" airline luggage tags (with the number printed on our e-tcket pass) were also attached. Again, the system worked. Downside to this system: You have to get up way early. We were the first ones off the ship at ca 7:10, zipped through immigration, got on a bus around 7:20, left the pier at 7:35, and arrived at Orlando airport at 8:20. And our flight out of Orlando was at 1:20. Thankfully, Orlando airport is pretty comfortable. 12. Conclusion: While not an outstanding cruise, it was certainly pleasant and well worth repeating. The ship's staff did provide briefings with slides and videos of the new Oasis ship that will start sailing in December 2009 (6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew). The Mariner is a good, smaller, example of what the new ship will be like. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX Read Less
Sail Date December 2008

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