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We chose this cruise early in the year and presented the idea to our teenagers: Would they rather receive gifts for Christmas or to travel by cruise. They unanimously said "Cruise!" so we booked right away and then talked my parents into joining us. We chose this port because New Orleans was about an equidistant drive for us compared to other ports and we were more interested in the Western Caribbean. We also loved the idea of coming back into port on New Years Eve and being able to spend it in New Orleans! As our first cruise we were apprehensive about the crowds and food but were very pleased on how everything unfolded. We arrived a day and a half early and was able to explore New Orleans. We rode the street car to the city park and back, enjoying the sculpture garden as well. We walked from our hotel to the French Quarter several times and took in as much as the city as we could with a couple of teenagers. The Dave & Busters in New Orleans is fantastic as it let them play and allowed us to watch football! Embarkation was a breeze and though my wife forgot to sign us up for an earlier time we were able to get on several hours early. We just had to wait longer for our rooms to be ready but once we were on board we headed for the buffet. The ship itself is massive. We walked about six to seven miles a day while on board going from one location to the next. It took us a while to figure out our bearings but a lot of the places we liked to hang out on the ship were directly opposite of our cabin or other places we had just been. Our feet quickly became tired within a couple of days. Everything was kept very clean and the while the decor in the halls was a little dated (I think their goal as it is "art deco") it was fine to us. There was a massive Christmas tree in the ship's lobby which was a beautiful backdrop for pictures. We asked a crew member how many passengers and they told us it was one of the larger filled cruises with 4700 people on it yet it never seemed crowded to us. We never had to wait in line to get anywhere other than small lines to get food which would take 10 minutes max. I anticipated crowds like Disney around Spring Break and so was so relieved when people were not right on top of us. People could use a little more spatial awareness in looking where they're going or not doubling back w/o looking behind them but everyone was in good moods so there was no aggravation over small occurrences like this that did happen. Every where we went, there was always a place to sit. People have complained about the pools being packed and I do agree. We never got in the water due to the kid soup. The hot tubs were a little better and we were able to get into a few but at least one was not hot at all. It was luke-warm at best but it could have just been that day. The bars on the ship were never over crowded except for the casino bar and that was the one place I didn't really want to be in anyway. It was the only place on the ship where cigarette smoke was too strong for us. I'm not much of a gambler so we only used the casino as a course to walk through. Our favorite bars to go to where the aft bar on Lido (don't remember the name), the Alchemy bar where you could get an amazing martini, and the lobby bar where you could hear great music while you did general people watching. Our kids loved the O2 club and would disappear after breakfast, check in at dinner, and then go enjoy until the curfews we set. They had a phenomenal time and are already begging to do it again (just not for Christmas). Dining on the ship was amazing for us. We never spent any extra for the sushi place or the steak venue. We had heard over several reviews that they were not worth the upcharge. We were content with the food in the dining halls and it was fantastic. It was so much better than we expected! I loved that I could ask for whatever I wanted as well. I had four lobster tails on Christmas Day! I'm not a big person, I just love lobster! I also loved the special appetizers that were a bit unusual - Frog legs, escargot, braised rabbit, etc. Each night I tried these and was truly impressed in how much I liked most of them. Brunch in the dining rooms was almost as good and much better than the buffet but those were not bad, just what you would expect out of a buffet. The Mongolian restaurant was fantastic and so were Guy's burgers. We had pizza a lot and the prosciutto was out of this world. We had this A LOT. We did not try the Pig & Anchor as we heard it was just decent and we have some fantastic BBQ where we live. My wife loves Indian food but looked at what they had and was not impressed so we never tried that. I enjoyed the tacos from the Blue Iguana and the pasta from the restaurant upstairs. Room service deli sandwiches were also quite good. All in all I was impressed as I have been to all inclusive resorts with lesser food. The service on the ship was amazing! I cannot say enough about the friendliness of all the bar staff, room stewards, photo people, dining staff, people cleaning the elevator areas etc etc. Everyone was super friendly which has to be hard given that they work so much. Entertainment was the one thing I feel was really lacking on the ship. One of the main disappointments was reading the reviews all year about the Cruise Director, the Flying Dutchman, Scott. Scott was apparently everywhere all the time that people would go on ship and entertained and delighted everyone! I guess he moved to another ship or was on a break and we had Brandon who was about as dull as a cardboard cutout. We never saw him in person (only heard his voice on the intercom) and when we saw him on the television he just was not funny at all. How he got that job I would love to know as I'm sure he gets paid well. Anyway, during the day until about 4-4:30 when the musicians would start there wasn't much to do. There was some kind of clue game going on but unless you got in on it the first day then keeping up with it daily was too late. We didn't really care for the format of the trivia which was something we really enjoy (15-20 questions back to back - no deviation in topic per game). It was also super specific and the people running it were terrible at pronouncing the various names. I like it when the trivia host has a little credibility. These were very cut and dry. If you didn't say exactly what their tablet said you were wrong. Other activities we just were not interested in. The slides were over crowded and kind of hurt my back so I didn't go down but a couple of times on each. The pools as mentioned earlier were over crowded. Sitting around the lido deck was fine if you could get a chair in the sun and withstand the loud music pumped out by the DJ (seriously when he quit his set it was much more tolerable). I know why Carnival pushes their alcohol so much. To make money of course but to give people something to actually do! Nighttime activities were much more lively. The string trio that would play in the lobby were great but the real stars were a band called Down to Funk with some horn players that did old stuff like Earth Wind & Fire, and another duo called Unity consisting of a male and female vocalist playing acoustic guitar. We found ourselves seeking them out to listen to most days we could. We never went to the evening shows as dance numbers are not our thing though our parents said they were all fantastic. Our kids said the O2 club had plenty of activities all day long to keep them entertained but didn't necessarily stick to their set schedules. They based it on what the kids wanted to do so there was some flexibility which the teenagers loved. If there was a time that they did not want to do anything they would go venture out to the rest of the ship. I saw plenty of teenagers hanging out but I never felt that they were in the way or acting too obnoxiously around us. We did a port excursion to Paradise Beach in Cozumel (beautiful water and a nice swimming pool but cab ride, entrance, and drink prices made it somewhat pricey that staying on the ship might have been a better option). In Belize we went to the Mayan ruins in Lamanai which we booked separate from Carnival. The company was called Belize x-stream tours and they were fantastic. The tour was a 45 minute bus ride then a 45 minute river ride on a speed boat on a very small river and our captain was flying! It was so fun. The ruins themselves were massive and very impressive and our guides were amazingly good at their jobs. I also enjoyed that Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language so that was never a barrier when traveling away from the main port. In Roatan we stayed in the main port area to do some shopping and just kind of hang out. The countryside was beautiful though and if I were to go back I would like to rent a car and go explore some. It looked like a set from Jurassic Park. All in all we had a fantastic time. Next time I think we would have purchased the drink package as there isn't much to do on sea days other than drink because you're bored. Our kids loved it and we will take them on another trip, though it may not be a cruise because while they had fun, we never spent much time with them. My wife and I do love the idea of an Alaskan cruise though so that may be our next trip together. It is a definite value!!

Wonderful way to spend Christmas but it also didn't feel like Christmas...

Carnival Dream Cruise Review by Kurtopotamus

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
We chose this cruise early in the year and presented the idea to our teenagers: Would they rather receive gifts for Christmas or to travel by cruise. They unanimously said "Cruise!" so we booked right away and then talked my parents into joining us. We chose this port because New Orleans was about an equidistant drive for us compared to other ports and we were more interested in the Western Caribbean. We also loved the idea of coming back into port on New Years Eve and being able to spend it in New Orleans! As our first cruise we were apprehensive about the crowds and food but were very pleased on how everything unfolded.

We arrived a day and a half early and was able to explore New Orleans. We rode the street car to the city park and back, enjoying the sculpture garden as well. We walked from our hotel to the French Quarter several times and took in as much as the city as we could with a couple of teenagers. The Dave & Busters in New Orleans is fantastic as it let them play and allowed us to watch football!

Embarkation was a breeze and though my wife forgot to sign us up for an earlier time we were able to get on several hours early. We just had to wait longer for our rooms to be ready but once we were on board we headed for the buffet.

The ship itself is massive. We walked about six to seven miles a day while on board going from one location to the next. It took us a while to figure out our bearings but a lot of the places we liked to hang out on the ship were directly opposite of our cabin or other places we had just been. Our feet quickly became tired within a couple of days. Everything was kept very clean and the while the decor in the halls was a little dated (I think their goal as it is "art deco") it was fine to us. There was a massive Christmas tree in the ship's lobby which was a beautiful backdrop for pictures. We asked a crew member how many passengers and they told us it was one of the larger filled cruises with 4700 people on it yet it never seemed crowded to us. We never had to wait in line to get anywhere other than small lines to get food which would take 10 minutes max. I anticipated crowds like Disney around Spring Break and so was so relieved when people were not right on top of us. People could use a little more spatial awareness in looking where they're going or not doubling back w/o looking behind them but everyone was in good moods so there was no aggravation over small occurrences like this that did happen. Every where we went, there was always a place to sit. People have complained about the pools being packed and I do agree. We never got in the water due to the kid soup. The hot tubs were a little better and we were able to get into a few but at least one was not hot at all. It was luke-warm at best but it could have just been that day. The bars on the ship were never over crowded except for the casino bar and that was the one place I didn't really want to be in anyway. It was the only place on the ship where cigarette smoke was too strong for us. I'm not much of a gambler so we only used the casino as a course to walk through. Our favorite bars to go to where the aft bar on Lido (don't remember the name), the Alchemy bar where you could get an amazing martini, and the lobby bar where you could hear great music while you did general people watching. Our kids loved the O2 club and would disappear after breakfast, check in at dinner, and then go enjoy until the curfews we set. They had a phenomenal time and are already begging to do it again (just not for Christmas).


Dining on the ship was amazing for us. We never spent any extra for the sushi place or the steak venue. We had heard over several reviews that they were not worth the upcharge. We were content with the food in the dining halls and it was fantastic. It was so much better than we expected! I loved that I could ask for whatever I wanted as well. I had four lobster tails on Christmas Day! I'm not a big person, I just love lobster! I also loved the special appetizers that were a bit unusual - Frog legs, escargot, braised rabbit, etc. Each night I tried these and was truly impressed in how much I liked most of them. Brunch in the dining rooms was almost as good and much better than the buffet but those were not bad, just what you would expect out of a buffet. The Mongolian restaurant was fantastic and so were Guy's burgers. We had pizza a lot and the prosciutto was out of this world. We had this A LOT. We did not try the Pig & Anchor as we heard it was just decent and we have some fantastic BBQ where we live. My wife loves Indian food but looked at what they had and was not impressed so we never tried that. I enjoyed the tacos from the Blue Iguana and the pasta from the restaurant upstairs. Room service deli sandwiches were also quite good. All in all I was impressed as I have been to all inclusive resorts with lesser food.

The service on the ship was amazing! I cannot say enough about the friendliness of all the bar staff, room stewards, photo people, dining staff, people cleaning the elevator areas etc etc. Everyone was super friendly which has to be hard given that they work so much.

Entertainment was the one thing I feel was really lacking on the ship. One of the main disappointments was reading the reviews all year about the Cruise Director, the Flying Dutchman, Scott. Scott was apparently everywhere all the time that people would go on ship and entertained and delighted everyone! I guess he moved to another ship or was on a break and we had Brandon who was about as dull as a cardboard cutout. We never saw him in person (only heard his voice on the intercom) and when we saw him on the television he just was not funny at all. How he got that job I would love to know as I'm sure he gets paid well. Anyway, during the day until about 4-4:30 when the musicians would start there wasn't much to do. There was some kind of clue game going on but unless you got in on it the first day then keeping up with it daily was too late. We didn't really care for the format of the trivia which was something we really enjoy (15-20 questions back to back - no deviation in topic per game). It was also super specific and the people running it were terrible at pronouncing the various names. I like it when the trivia host has a little credibility. These were very cut and dry. If you didn't say exactly what their tablet said you were wrong. Other activities we just were not interested in. The slides were over crowded and kind of hurt my back so I didn't go down but a couple of times on each. The pools as mentioned earlier were over crowded. Sitting around the lido deck was fine if you could get a chair in the sun and withstand the loud music pumped out by the DJ (seriously when he quit his set it was much more tolerable). I know why Carnival pushes their alcohol so much. To make money of course but to give people something to actually do! Nighttime activities were much more lively. The string trio that would play in the lobby were great but the real stars were a band called Down to Funk with some horn players that did old stuff like Earth Wind & Fire, and another duo called Unity consisting of a male and female vocalist playing acoustic guitar. We found ourselves seeking them out to listen to most days we could. We never went to the evening shows as dance numbers are not our thing though our parents said they were all fantastic. Our kids said the O2 club had plenty of activities all day long to keep them entertained but didn't necessarily stick to their set schedules. They based it on what the kids wanted to do so there was some flexibility which the teenagers loved. If there was a time that they did not want to do anything they would go venture out to the rest of the ship. I saw plenty of teenagers hanging out but I never felt that they were in the way or acting too obnoxiously around us.

We did a port excursion to Paradise Beach in Cozumel (beautiful water and a nice swimming pool but cab ride, entrance, and drink prices made it somewhat pricey that staying on the ship might have been a better option). In Belize we went to the Mayan ruins in Lamanai which we booked separate from Carnival. The company was called Belize x-stream tours and they were fantastic. The tour was a 45 minute bus ride then a 45 minute river ride on a speed boat on a very small river and our captain was flying! It was so fun. The ruins themselves were massive and very impressive and our guides were amazingly good at their jobs. I also enjoyed that Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language so that was never a barrier when traveling away from the main port. In Roatan we stayed in the main port area to do some shopping and just kind of hang out. The countryside was beautiful though and if I were to go back I would like to rent a car and go explore some. It looked like a set from Jurassic Park.

All in all we had a fantastic time. Next time I think we would have purchased the drink package as there isn't much to do on sea days other than drink because you're bored. Our kids loved it and we will take them on another trip, though it may not be a cruise because while they had fun, we never spent much time with them. My wife and I do love the idea of an Alaskan cruise though so that may be our next trip together. It is a definite value!!
Kurtopotamus’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 6A 2474
Our cabin was small but it had a couch so that offered a little extra room to sit w/o being on a bed. As mentioned my teenager would be out of the room most of the time which was great because getting ready with two people in the room was too hard. We had a window view out of the stern of the ship which was nice and we were only a couple of floors above the hull. This made for some rocking which was mostly gentle and definitely helped us sleep but there was at least one especially rocky morning at sea that we had to get to the upper decks to alleviate some of the motion sickness. All in all though I don't have much to say about the cabin. It's like a room in Vegas. There's no need to go all out when you're barely in it. Our steward Lumumba was fantastic and was always available to help if we needed him.
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins