Ship: Carnival Dream
Itinerary: Cozumel, Roatan, Belize and Costa Maya. Seven-day cruise. December 12th 2009.
This was my fifteenth cruise, my wife’s fourth cruise and our cruise-mates fifty-something cruise. My wife has cruised only Carnival while our friends and myself have cruised many other lines. Overall we were very satisfied with this cruise, however, there are several places where improvement can be made. Our previous cruise was aboard the Carnival Glory, sailing out of Puerto Rico last August. By the time we had left that cruise Carnival had given us $300 in shipboard credit and a 20% voucher off of our next cruise? Why? Because Carnival insists on working through the night and every morning at the same time, 4:00 a.m., we’d be treated to the sounds of clanging and banging on the floor above us. Unfortunately, the Carnival Dream wasn’t much better, as at the same time, every night, the same clacking and clanging would occur, though it was only for approximately ten minutes and we could go back to sleep. That’s our one major complaint and while we understand that ships don’t sleep, we were just hoping that the Dream’s new build would include improved sound deadening. But it doesn’t.
We live in Tampa and arrived at the port at 1:45 p.m. and despite having to park on the top floor of the parking garage, the process went smoothly. We did miss our exit as we expected to see a sign that read something like, “Carnival Dream Exit Here,” but there was none. We weren’t the only ones to make that mistake. We got right on the cruise and found our way to our room.
We had a balcony room on the ninth deck, starboard, which was pretty much the same as every other Carnival stateroom we’d ever had. I have three minor complaints: STILL no clock, no nightlight in the bathroom and no functioning speakers in the staterooms so you can hear the announcements. A flat-screen monitor in the room is nice, along with the ability to monitor your account and buy excursions. The mini-bar is a nice touch and we borrowed a can of soda and replaced it before being charged. They want $1.95 for a can of soda. Our friends had the cove balcony on the second deck and it was a big hit with everyone. No noises from above and being closer to the waterline was more interesting. For the money, get the cove balcony as it’s the exact same stateroom as those that are higher up.
The food in the dining room was outstanding. My wife, being from Maine, has always disapproved of cruise lines passing off “rock” lobsters as “Maine” lobsters and I’m happy to report that the Dream has real Maine lobsters on board. We all made an effort to eat a variety of different dishes and there were always nods of approval. I tried many of the vegetarian dishes and liked them all. The chateaubriand was very tender and the portions of all the meals were perfect. We all know that you can order more if you need to anyway, right? However, none of us ever needed to, in fact, there were many nights that we all ordered multiple appetizers, the selection was that good. I adore Carnival’s cold soups and am happy that one is featured every night. Also glad to have the chocolate melting cake every night… yum. Service all around was so good that we tipped extra cash EXCEPT the matre’d, who never once made it to our table (or any that were saw).
Breakfast was the same menu it has been for at least five years and the bacon just as bad. I recommend turkey bacon. I was accommodated when I requested soy milk which made me happy. I heard another man ordering soy milk as well.
The Lido deck food was very good. Carnival has perfected the burger and fries and the pizza. The Dream also has a Tandoori (Indian food), which was very good, a Mongolian grill, that always had a 45-minute wait. I know first-hand because this was my wife’s preference. Everybody raved at the quality of the Mongolian grill. I would suggest that they replace the Tandoori, excellent as it is, with another Mongolian grill, as this seemed a very popular choice.
One major flaw is that, for instance, at breakfast, when going through the regular buffet line, the only bacon station is in the middle and causes confusion when the two lines meet in the middle. The burrito grill was very good too. The lemonade/iced tea stations could be located in a better area as there seems to be congestion around those areas.
An area of improvement would be adding additional wait-staff to all food areas, as there were excessive wait times during meals. Breakfast shouldn’t take an hour and fifteen minutes yet that was the average time it took us to be seated, served and eat. Our coffee cups were empty often before being refilled. We attributed this to the number of passengers, which we were told, was 4,600 this week (Christmas 2009).
We made an effort to see more shows on this cruise as we’re not really into that sort of thing. The stage seems small by comparison of other ships and the one stage show we saw was adequate. The musical groups and singers were of much better quality than the usual cruise ship faire. One area that they were market testing on this cruise was the Comedy Club. Big Hit!! They featured additional comedy shows in the main room plus they added several, sometimes four, ADULT comedy shows – no kids allowed. And the comedians were fantastic! Kudos to Jeff the Comedy Dude! Despite being ill, took the idea by the horns are ran with it. This Comedy Club idea is going to go Carnival-wide in 2010 – so enjoy!
Excursions / Stops:
I won’t go into too much detail here as, like many of you, we have a routine. Cozumel is for strolling downtown, hitting Carlos and Charly’s and nothing more. Belize still hasn’t captured us. We spent nearly $200 on an excursion that went to Mayan ruins and then returned via boat down the river. On a clear day where it didn’t rain it might have been nice. We were all drenched as the “partially covered” boats were completely uncovered and the pilot pushed the boat to full throttle to get us back to the ship. Roatan was very nice. We went to the beach all day and shopped a bit – both walking distance from the ship. This stop was built BY Carnival for Carnival guests only, kinda like a private island. Prices were high, thus no purchasing, and three of the four of us came back with some sort of bite marks all over us – I had six. They looked like spider bites, but we didn’t see any insects. We alerted the infirmary - they were disinterested in the marks. They went away. Costa Maya is very nice, having being rebuilt after the hurricane tore it down. Great public pool, shopping and drinks. We went outside the gate to a newly opened store center and got booze, and other stuff and it was very reasonable. You can rent four-wheelers here that looked like fun. This will be a great stop when it’s complete.
We played miniature golf, which was fun. Four slides and I never hit a one. The Serenity Adults Only” area is right next to the screaming kids (and adults) going down the slides. The Movies under the stars was very fun. Just have them bring up the volume to crowd out the drunks (I’m a quiet drunk). We saw Star Trek. They also play concerts during the day – very cool.
If I think of more I’ll post. Any questions, ask away.
Pete Conrad, not the dead astronaut