Cruise Review of Carnival Dream

Name: Jamman Date Submitted: 05/30/2010
Age: 55 Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines
Number of Cruises: 30 Cruise Ship: Carnival Dream
Overall Rating: Date Sailed: 03/27/2010
Embarkation: Port Canaveral, FL Destination: Caribbean - Eastern

Sail Date:  3/27/10  (7 nights)

Itinerary:  Port Canaveral – Nassau – St. Thomas – St. Maarten – Port Canaveral.

When I had to cancel our August 2009 cruise due to my job being phased out, it meant that we wouldn’t be cruising at all in 2009, which would be the first time in many years that we didn’t cruise at least once in a year. Once things settled down, and not wanting to wait a whole year until our next booked cruise, I decided to book a cruise during Spring Break on the Carnival Dream, knowing full well that it would be crowded and chock full of kids. With Patti being a teacher, and my boys in Middle school and High school, we didn’t have much of a choice.  I decided to drive down from New Jersey four days prior to sailing taking my younger son Ryan with me, and Patti and Kevin would fly down into Orlando the night before. This worked out perfectly, since I took all the luggage down with me and Patti wouldn’t have to worry about checking in luggage (and paying the extra fees) at the airport. We booked a whirlpool suite, (with cruise parking), at the Port Canaveral Radisson, which I would highly recommend, and signed up for the 12:30 shuttle to the pier on Saturday. Here I was three days early and all the earlier shuttles had booked already!! Ryan and I had three great days together and spent the last day at Universal until it was time to pick Patti and Kevin up at the airport. This went quickly since they didn’t have luggage to wait for. Back to the Radisson for a nice quiet evening together, before boarding the Carnival Dream tomorrow.

Day 1  -  Embarkation Day

The next morning was sunny and beautiful, and you could look over and see the Carnival Dream sitting and waiting for us. Our shuttle left right on time for the five minute ride over to the ship. The Disney Magic was also in port today. After getting off the shuttle, making sure our luggage made the bins, and tipping the porters, we headed over to the VIP line to check in. We breezed thru the boarding process in no time, and were sitting at the Dream Atrium bar for our first drinks a half hour after we left the Radisson. Patti and Kevin picked up their soda cards for the week, (6.00/day for adults, 4.50/day for kids, plus 15% gratuity).  We next headed up to our cabins to drop off our carry-ons.  I had booked a balcony cabin 8244 for Patti and I, and an inside cabin 8246 for the boys. As it was our anniversary, I had purchased cabin decorations, wine, fruit basket, and other goodies beforehand unbeknownst to Patti. She was completely shocked when she opened the cabin door!! We then went up to the Gathering, which is the buffet on the Lido deck for some lunch. There are so many choices here!! In addition to the Grand Buffet, there is the Grille (hot dogs, burgers, steak sandwiches, salads etc), the Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, Fresh Pasta Bar, Indian Tandoor, The Deli, and of course the 24 hour Pizza. Top that off with the Desert Bar, and 24 hour ice cream and yogurt, you can’t go hungry!!  There is also a sushi bar located on promenade Deck 5 mid ship which was open from 5 -8:15 nightly. Also on sea days there was a BBQ lunch served out on the Lanai on Deck 5 from 12-2:30. This greatly helped disperse the lunch time crowds. Speaking of crowds, this would be a good time to tell you that on this cruise there were 4,500 pax. You couldn’t fit another person on this ship. Of these, aprox. 1,700 were children under 18. I can’t complain about that, since I brought two into that mix. I must say that the vast majority were well behaved. If I had any issues, it was with some of the adults, but I would never let a few idiots ruin my vacation!! I was expecting some lines, especially on sea days, but to tell you the truth they weren’t bad at all. The worst were for the made to order eggs station for breakfast, and the Mongolian Wok at lunch. People, if waiting ten minutes in line is to long for you, may I suggest the Dining room? After lunch we spent time exploring the ship. In reality, the Carnival Dream is a stretched and wider version of a Conquest Class ship with the same you can’t get there from here problems, but with enough added features to make it all worthwhile. Serenity, the adults only area, located on decks 14 & 15 forward was Patti and I’s favorite area. Never had a problem with getting loungers or finding room in one of the two whirlpools. Only thing that could make this better would be a small cool off pool. Maybe they can add that in the next generation. The Waterworks was a favorite of the boys and me!! The Twister and the Drainpipe were awesome. They also had racing slides and smaller slides and spray areas for the little ones. Carnival’s first 18 hole miniature golf at sea was also a lot of fun, though on sea days was very crowded. Another great new feature was the wrap around outside promenade on deck 5 which allows you walk completely around the ship. It also includes four whirlpools, (two on each side). At 3:30 it was time for the Safety Briefing. No more going back to your cabin for your life jackets. Just report to your muster station, listen to the announcements, and when it’s over you can head topside without having to take life jackets back to the cabin. Our muster station was in the Encore theatre, so we were able to sit in comfort until it was over. Perfect!! We hung out at the Sunset Pool for sail-away, and after about an hour we headed back to the cabins to unpack, chill out on the balcony, and get ready for our first dinner. We chose traditional dining, and had a table for 4 (#521) on the lower level of the Scarlet Dining room at Late Sitting (8:15). Those choosing Any Time Dining would go to the Crimson dining room. I’m not going to bore you with telling you what we had to eat, since food is so subjective, I’ll just say we were very, very happy with the selections and quality the entire week. Our wait staff was excellent and we never, even after 24 Carnival cruises, get tired of the nightly entertainment. Bravo!!!  After dinner, the boys went to Circle C & Club O2, to make new friends and hang out. Patti and I went to play some blackjack, (we held our own), until it was time to crash. We would be in Nassau tomorrow.

Day 2  - Nassau  (8:30am – 2:00pm)

Being that this was such a short stop time wise, and because we would be back here for a longer stop when we sail on the Miracle in July, we didn’t plan any excursions for today. Ryan and I decided to stay on board and partake of the waterworks and mini golf while there weren’t any crowds. Afterwards Ryan went to Circle C, and I went to Serenity and lounged in the hot tubs with a nice cool drink. The Oasis of the Seas, and the Majesty of the Seas were in port with us today. Spent a lot of time checking out the Oasis, seeing where the cabins we booked for August 2011 were located. Looks like an awesome ship!! Patti and Kevin decided to get off and do a little shopping. They rented a 2 person scooter that looked like a lady bug for $45. For two hours and had a blast driving around the island. They even went over the bridge to Paradise Island twice!! After the ship sailed I entered the first blackjack tournament with the free entry that we got for being platinum members. I qualified for the final table, but wound up finishing out of the money in third place. At least I won some trinkets and a t-shirt that doesn’t fit me!! The rest of the day we just hung out and chilled until it was time for the first Elegant Dinner. I was surprised that a lot of people actually got dressed up for tonight. It was nice to see!! We had a nice lobster dinner and then celebrated our anniversary with a cake that I had pre ordered. Several tables around us joined the wait staff in singing Happy Anniversary to us. Very Nice!! Afterwards the boys went off to hang with their new found friends, and we headed off to the Casino until it was time to call it a night.

Day 3 – Sea Day

We all love our sea days because we all can relax and do what we want!! After breakfast on the balcony, Ryan and I teamed up for the bean bag toss in the lobby of the atrium, and won a few rounds before we were eliminated. Patti went to the shopping talk, then went looking for bargains in the onboard shops. We met up for lunch at the Sunset Pool bar, partaking of the nearby deli. The grilled sandwiches were to die for!! Afterwards Patti and I went to the casino to enter the first slot tournament. Neither of us qualified for the finals, so we went up to Serenity for some R & R, until it was time to go to the early comedy show, and then dinner. Another nice feature on the Dream is the Comedy Club located in the Burgundy lounge, deck 5 aft. They have two comedians aboard doing two PG shows at 7:30 & 8:30, and three uncensored shows for guests 18 or older at 9:45, 11:00, and 12:00. The boys went to the 7:30 show with us and had a great time. The comedians were great and got the youngsters involved. After dinner the boys disappeared to their respective clubs, and Patti and I went to try our luck again in the casino until it was time for the 12:00 uncensored show. It was hilarious, but have to warn you that if you are prudish in any way, don’t go!! Afterwards it was time to hit the sack after a great sea day!!

Day 4 – St. Thomas (10:00am – 8:00pm)

Another beautiful day in paradise!! After breakfast upstairs at the Gathering we watched the Carnival Dream pull into St. Thomas. It would be busy downtown today as there were six ships in port. The Carnival Freedom, Royal Princess and us were docked at Havensight, the Norwegian Pearl was anchored in the bay, and the Oasis of the Seas and Costa Atlantica, were docked over in Crown Bay. I had booked the Helmet dive for Kevin, Ryan, and myself, and since Patti wanted no part of that, she was going to spend the day shopping downtown and at Havensight. The Helmet Dive takes place at Coral World and was a fantastic experience!! After an orientation you stand on the ladder up to your chest in water and don a 75 pound helmet that once you step down another rung and get underwater feels like 10 pounds. Once you get down to the bottom of the ladder you are around 15 feet deep. For the next half hour you walk along a trail, (the weight of the helmet holds you down), while many divers keep an eye on you, show you and let you hold some of the docile aquatic life, and take videos and photos of your experience.  The amount and variety of fish swimming around you was awesome!! To soon it ended and we had to go back up. The flash drive of videos and pictures was extra, but worth every penny. Something I will always cherish!! It was already late afternoon when we met back on the ship. Whenever we book a Carnival cruise that has a Supper Club or Steakhouse as they are now called, we always make a reservation for at least one night. On the Dream it is called the Chef’s Art Steakhouse and is located on Deck 12 aft. Tonight was the night we chose to go, and just like every other time, it was well worth the $30./pp surcharge. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years, (why mess with success?), so as always I had the 24 oz. Porterhouse which you can cut with a butter knife, and Patti had the Lobster. You can’t go wrong with any of the appetizers, entrees, or deserts. Add a bottle of wine and enjoy the perfect dinner!! After dinner we went to the seaside theatre to catch the 10:00 laser show which was set to the music of Rush and Pink Floyd. Pretty neat!! Some casino time, then it was time for bed. The boys came back about the same time from their respective clubs. It was another great day!!

Day 5 – St. Maarten  (8:00am – 6:00pm)

There were 7 ships in port today, and upon seeing that I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty!! Along with us were the Carnival Miracle, Celebrity Solstice, Emerald Princess, Sea Princess, Oasis of the Seas, and the AidaVita. By my calculations I figure that to be over 20,000 pax descending on the island, and not even counting crew members with shore time!! Patti got off as soon as the ship was cleared to explore the port area, while the rest of us were going to wait a couple of hours before heading off to Maho Beach ,(the beach where the jets fly over very low landing at the airport),on our own. This turned out to be a big mistake. By the time we went over to grab a cab, there where oceans of people everywhere and chaos was king!! We were told to go over here to catch a cab to Maho, only to find out after 15 minutes that the line for Maho was way over there!! After 45 minutes of this we finally were in the cab to Maho. Then it gets worse. The traffic was so bad, that the usual 25 minute trip took nearly an hour and a half. A half hour after arriving, it poured, so we took refuge in the Sunset Bar, had lunch and a few beers, then caught another cab back to the ship. The ride back was only an hour. We were pretty grumpy and spent by now, but once back on the ship we went to Serenity and chilled out until after we sailed. The next time we come here and there are a lot of ships in port that day, we can do one of two things to avoid the disappointments that we experienced today. One, book a ships tour with the transportation included, or get off our butts and grab a cab as soon as the ship is cleared!! Lesson learned. After dinner we went to the casino to try our luck again. Tonight was the deck party, but we chose not to attend. Went to bed still disappointed on how things went in St. Maarten today.

Days 6 & 7 – Sea Days

Nothing like 2 consecutive sea days on the way back to Port Canaveral, to get back in the relaxation mode again. The bean bag toss, waterworks, mini golf, Serenity, mudslides, quiet balcony time, the second blackjack and slot tournaments, and more mudslides were the order of each day. In the evenings fantastic dinners, comedy shows, and casino time (we finished ahead of the game!), were our favorite things to do. When not playing with us, the boys hung out at their respective clubs, the balance of each day. Too soon, it was time to start packing for the journey home. As Platinum members we were given zone 1 tags for debarkation. This means we would be the first to debark the ship, after the self assist people debarked. We sadly put our luggage out in the hall, hung out on the balcony one last time, then went to bed.

Day 8 – Debarkation Day

The ship docks back in Port Canaveral before 6:00am. The self assist people began debarking at about 6:40 and at 7:05 they called zones 1 &2. We were off the ship, picked up our luggage, breezed thru customs, and were on the first shuttle back to the Radisson in no time at all!! We loaded up the van, stopped for gas and snacks, and were on the road back to New Jersey by 8:15!! This was by far the quickest and most organized debarkations I have ever experienced in my 30+ cruises!! I hope everyone who cruises from Port Canaveral on Carnival has as easy of embarkation and debarkation as we did!! In summary, we all enjoyed our cruise on the Carnival Dream very much. Great ship, great crew, and overall a great time. We would sail on her again in a heartbeat!! My pictures from this cruise, including some from our helmet dive, can be found at: