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Age: 40

Occupation:Graphic Designer

Number of Cruises: 12

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Dream

Sailing Date: 2009-12-26

Itinerary: Eastern Caribean

Our family have been excitedly following the Carnival Dream for the last year in anticipation of our Christmas cruise and I will be the first to admit, we made the mistake of believing Carnivals adverts. Carnival raised expectations so high for us with its self congratulatory press releases that there was no way that the ship could live up to her own hype.

Is she a poor ship? No! Decidedly not. You would have to work hard not to enjoy yourself on any Carnival ship now at sea. It's just that she is really more of the same old tired ship design, confusing ship layout and beaten to death entertainment programs that Carnival has been known for.

Same old cruise, a lot more crowded and for more money. The majority of the excess space on this vessel is used to cram in more staterooms, not to add more features. Therefore, when riding on Carnival's largest ship, you are paying for the honor of longer lines for the food in the Gathering, the elevator and just about anything else you want to do on board.
And seriously Carnival, for the love of god please retire the hairiest chest contest along with the newlywed game, scavenger hunt and the same old trivia questions that I have been hearing for nine years. I'm sick of them. You ended the midnight gala buffet for the sake of money. Please replace your stale old day to day entertainment with something new for the sake of my sanity.

I was hoping that the dream would be easier to get around than the rest of the Carnival fleet, but the whole thing is a maze! Halls lead to nowhere or seem to go on forever. Passageways that are sometimes open you will later find barred. I am sure I saw David Bowie laughing at me during one heartbreaking attempt to navigate the labyrinth.
Don't even bother asking any of the crew for directions. 96% of them only know enough English to separate you from your money. I really do not blame the crew. I pity and respect them for their hard work. I brought an extra $200 on board to give out in $10 and $20 bills to random crew members on Christmas day. It was the only time I saw many of them smile. This had to be the glummest Carnival crew I have ever sailed with. Everywhere were frowns. I had to wonder to myself if Carnival isn't now using press gangs to shanghai it's crews from the third world.

Interior ship materials are nicely upgraded with lots of marble tile, wood and granite throughout. But even this is ruined by these gaudy multi colored glass bubbles that Carnival has slapped all over the walls and imbedded into the floor throughout. When in doubt, fall back on tacky is the Carnival way.

Is Carnival even interested in breaking out of their stale mold of ship design and entertainment? Let's see what Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill has to say about his chief competition, the RC Oasis:
"Anybody can spend an unlimited amount of money to come up with all sorts of innovations. That leads to higher costs and prices, which may reduce value to customers.
Does this sound like a company that is interested in making better ships? I didn't think so either.

There is a laser show, but it relies on smoke to work. As you might expect, smoke doesn't sit still on a cruise ship speeding at 21 knots through the Atlantic with a cross wind, but apparently Carnival didn't think that far ahead.
The dream also has a group of three break dancers on board, and I have to admit that their solo shows are very tight. However, incorporate them into the Broadway style show that was playing on the ship: Dancin' in the Streets and Carnival can make even break dancing look corny and uncool. And speaking of uncool, all of the common areas where ghastly hot, with absolutely no AC at all in the ships elevators. I don't know if this was just a bump to be ironed out, or if Carnival has raised the thermostat in order to squeeze a little more money out of each cruise.

Everywhere you look, past Carnival cruisers will see small things that have been done to cut costs. I noticed these things even from my cruise with them last year. Most of these things are small and hardly worth mentioning, like forcing you to ask for bacon at breakfast instead of just taking it on your own.

Random thoughts:
Dumbest comment was on day two- What is the name of our ship?
Random exclamation heard on day 6- Our liquor bill is $800?
Best Christmas anecdote everheard on ship- I wished this guy a Merry Christmas and he just looked mad at me. I said it again and he said I'm Jewish. I told him: So am I!
My single worst experience on this ship had to be the Xtreme Country production show in the main theatre. The only thing extreme about this show is its denigrating stereotypes of southerners. I don't know whether to call the production a remake of He Haw except not as classy, or a minstrel show without the blackface. But either way, if you think that southerners still walk around with straw hats and overalls, sit on the porch shucking corn with bare feet and hold their pants up with rope, then this show is for you.

In closing, let me reiterate.
I realize that some of my observations are subjective and some of my criticisms may be a little petty, but I am not here to blow sunshine up your smokestack.
I wanted to tell you the sort of things that I would want to hear when considering booking a cruise. You will probably have fun on this ship, especially if you have never sailed a Carnival cruise before. But don't expect anything but the same old Carnival with little new to offer. For all I know the RC Oasis of the seas may be just as big of a disappointment, but I have to admit that I can't wait to book her and find out for myself.

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