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Carnival Dream
Western Caribbean
April 17-24, 2010

by Tim Hickey

Before I begin, let me just say that this review is based on the time and accommodations listed. This is what we experienced on OUR cruise.

EMBARKATION: Carnival finally has gotten it when it comes to embarking. It is just a shame that the Port Authority at Port Canaveral is slacking. We stood on a line for 10 minutes just to be told we had to go to another line because her line didn't facilitate checking luggage with wheels. Would have been nice if they posted signs or had someone walking down the line explaining that to people. We only waited on the next line for 10 minutes, but when your standing in front of the ship, you just want to get ON. Carnival boards by a "Zone" system. When you check in, you are given a zone card with a number on it and you wait for that zone to be called. When we checked in, we were given zone 14. They were calling Zone 10 at the time. It took no more than 15 minutes for them to get to Zone 14. We actually boarded at the same time my brother and sister-in-law (who were Platinum, VIP members) boarded. We arrived at the port a little before 11am and were onboard about 11:30am. Not too shabby!

THE CARNIVAL DREAM (Initial Impression): WHOA!!! What a vessel! She was beautiful, clean and well maintained (there were crew members power washing, painting etc.). We entered into the Atrium, with 4 glass lifts (elevators) and, well, SHINE!! That's the best way to explain it. There was a crew member at the end of the gangway to lead us on where to go to wait for the cabins to be ready. The cabins will NOT be ready before 1:30pm. And, if you are like me, tested that theory by going to deck 2 where my cabin was just to be confronted by a fire door that had a sign that said the cabins won't be ready until 1:30pm. A test I FAILED. So, up to the buffet on the Lido deck I went.

THE BUFFET: Well, since I've been on 4 other Carnival cruises before, I'll rate it on a scale of 1-10 in comparison to the other ships. It was a "9"! And that is great when you factor in that the crew is feeding a human "farm" of 3000 passengers. The food was basic "Carnival", but was fast and hot which was appreciated since the excitement of the mornings rush kept us from eating. The breakfast buffet was slow (again...3000 people) and timing is the key. Such is lunch. Want the breakfast buffet, go after 8:30am. Want the lunch buffet, go before 11am or after 1pm. And if those times don't work for you, Order In (Room Service). They have some basic yet very tasty offerings for delivery to your cabin. OR, you can go to the Pasta Bar located on deck 11 AFT where you can have a sit down Italian meal delivered directly to your table (they close at 1:30pm). There is so much food being served throughout the day, TRUST ME, you won't go hungry.

ROOM SERVICE: Plain and simple, fill out the breakfast order card in your cabin requesting what you want before 12am and hang it on the outside of your door and "POOF", your tray shows up at the time you requested the next morning. A tip of about $2 is MY norm. Got no small cash? No worries, just add the tip to the receipt you sign when your order is delivered. It will be charged to your S&S card. You can order room service 24 hours. a day. The Menu is in the book in your cabin.

(Hidden Observation Deck, Don't Tell Anyone) : Go to the Lido Deck (Deck 10, Port or Starboard side) and go as far forward as you can go, down the stateroom hallways, turn right (or left) and go through the 2 doors. The rest is up to YOU. :)

OUR CABIN (Cove Cabin #2301, Deck 2, Main Deck, Mid-Ship) : FINALLY, were able to go to our cabin at 1:30pm on the button. We never had a Cove Cabin before, but have had balcony cabins in the past so we really didn't know what to expect. To be honest, the cabin did seem a little bit bigger than the standard balcony cabins we have had in the past. We found out that the Cove's balconies were actually 10 Sq. Ft. larger than the standard balconies. And we noticed it. They are VERY private and close to the water. We did notice bats at night flying around the lifeboats (even when way out to sea). Guess they were staying in the lifeboats. My brother was on the Port side of the ship (mid-ship like us on the same deck) and said he didn't see any. No biggie though, they didn't bother us one bit and stayed about 25 feet from the ship. The ODD numbered cabins are on the STARBOARD (right) side of the ship and the EVEN numbered are on the PORT (left) side.

THE CRIMSON DINING ROOM: We opted for the "Your Time Dining" and it was convenient. This dining room is for the "Your Time Dining" passengers ONLY. If you have assigned seating for dining, you WILL be turned away. After the 3rd day we met "Conrad", a waiter that worked the left side front of the dining room. We asked for him every night after. He was efficient and VERY personable. We had to wait for him on some nights (they give you a pager if you want to wait) but the wait was worth it. The food came slow though (AGAIN--MANY PEOPLE) but that was NOT the fault of the dining room staff. They can only feed you when they have the food sent to THEM. If you want to go to a show, plan your time accordingly. Allow 1 hour or a little more to dine from appetizers to dessert.

THE SHOW(s): Only went to 2. The name of the 1st one skips my mind but I do remember that the female singers STRONG voice was over modulated (LOUD) and the sound crew didn't compensate for it. It was like she was screaming at you. If you want to see a REALLY funny show, see the "Magic Bob" show on Wednesday. Make sure you wear your Depends. He's gonna have you laughing so hard, your gonna need them.

THE CASINO: WOW, How they have changed on the Carnival ships. And NOT for the better. I had always been used to hearing the "Ching, Ching, Ching" of my winnings coming from the bottom of my slot machine. Sorry folks...those days are GONE. Now, you insert your S&S card into the machine and any winnings you get are "deposited" onto your S&S card. You have to take your card to the casino cashier when your done or before the end of the cruise to get your winnings or GUESS WHAT? That's right boy's and girl' LOSE IT! It seems that this is only one of the ways that the Carnival corporation is getting less personal.

THE STAFF: From the Pursers Desk (Guest Services) to the crew on the deck, it was hit and miss. But like with other cruises, not just Carnival, we realize that these VERY hard working people, from your room stewards to the dining room staff as well as those you see maybe once throughout the cruise, that are away from their families for 6 to 9 months at a time and working 16 to 18 hour shifts have BAD days. Like we do. And when we did come across a crew member that was having a bad day, we would just dismiss it. Think about that. Away from your home and your family for 6 to 9 months at a time. Think you would be smiling everyday? Their humans, NOT ROBOTS so if you come across a crew member with a less than favorable attitude...GET OVER IT.

DISEMBARKING: Again, Carnival has evolved! We docked at 6am and were off at 7:30am. They also disembark by zones (which is indicated on the luggage tag you get from your room steward the last night). Took all of about 15 minutes to get our luggage.

IN A NUTSHELL: Would I sail the "Dream" again? Without question. Would I recommend the "Dream" to a friend? YES! Now, The BIG question..."Is Carnival getting better"? Answer...NO. I have found that the line is becoming less personal as time goes on. There were a lot of amenities that Carnival offered in the past to past guest's as well as to new guests that no longer exist. To the new cruiser, it goes unnoticed. But to the veteran Carnival guest, the short-comings shine like a beacon. Things like the picture of the ship placemat you had gotten on the last night of the cruise from the dining staff are gone. I have a collection of 4 framed and hanging on my wall from past cruises. The announcements the Captain used to make at every port, No more, at least not on the Dream. If you are a new cruiser, or even a past cruiser with motion sickness problems, the Dream is for you. There was NO...and I mean NO movement of the ship for the total cruise. But if you are prone to seasickness, get a cabin, like we did, that is mid-ship in all aspects. You will NOT be disappointed cruising on this ship, "IF" you keep in mind what I have mentioned. If you want to or are booked on this ship, plan to have a GREAT time!

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