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1st time Carnival cruiser (DREAM) complete review & pictorial (from a NCL cruiser)

Day 2: Getting on the ship

Up early and ready for our day to begin. I was excited to get on the Dream but yet we were not too rushed.


Ron Jon has a strict 10am check out time. No exceptions. They will charge you extra if you are late. When we were packing up our few things and preparing for check-out, my daughter was sitting on the couch looking at a book that came with the room. It had your normal things to do around there and the "house rules". Well the more she read, the more we learned.


There were several "rules" to staying at this place than I was aware of. You have to do all of your dishes, including loading the dishwasher and washing the dishes prior to leaving. All of your linens needed to be removed and put in a pile by the washer. All of your towels needed to be put by the washer. I can't remember if you actually had to put them in the washer and start it. I know we didn't because the night before my daughter had already used the trial sized laundry detergent to wash with so there wasn't any left. All trash had to be emptied, new trash bags inserted, and the trash had to be taken out to the trash chute on the premises. Of course everything had to be clean and there was a broom for sweeping. They wanted this place spick and span cleaned prior to leaving in order not to charge you. I know these places are time shares and have an official "owner", but really? I'm paying big bucks to stay in a place like this, I DON'T expect to have to do everything when I leave including the dishes and laundry. That's what you pay your housekeeping staff for. When I'm on vacation, I guess I expect to not have to do all the cleaning. :cool:


So we get down to the check out and it went fairly quickly. I had noticed that upon check-in, when they wrote out our "car parking tag" to hang in the window it only said for 1 night. So, we had to get that changed for the week since we were leaving our vehicle there at the resort while cruising. They did however tell us that we had to move the vehicle out of the garage and back to one of the back parking lots...which happen to be one of the lots we walked through on our way to the beach.


We decided since we had to move the van, we would just drive down the street and find something to eat since we were all starving. They provided a really nice map with a listing of everything around the area and the places to eat. We were informed since it was going on 10:30 that we had probably missed breakfast. :( Ron Jon had a room close to the check-in and they were nice enough to take all of our luggage and store it in there while we went to eat. We found McDonalds and was excited to see that they indeed was still serving breakfast and at this point it was probably after 11am by the time we waited in the long line to get up to the register.


When we returned from eating and parking the car, I ask the person at the front desk to call for a cab and provided her with the number I wanted. I remember prior to leaving for the cruise that someone on here mentioned that there wasn't any regulated taxi fees there and it was pretty much pay what you want. Well, I'm here to tell you that's not true. They do have meters and they do charge you according to the meter. However, the day before I did see the "Pay What You Want" taxi pull up out front. So, this is an actual taxi service, not a regular taxi rule. It's just that company. I did copy down the number for us to use the next day. So the lady at the front desk called for us and they said they would be there in about 20 minutes.


We waited for a good 45 minutes or so and I called them myself explaining when we had called and to let them know we were still patiently waiting. They told us the driver was on his way and would be there within the next 15 minutes. I knew all I had to do was wonder off to the restroom in the building and he would surely come. I was right. It never fails. We packed all of our luggage into the mini-van and off we went.


Here we come Dream!!! :D

We pull up in to this luggage unloading area that is away from the check-in or the ship. This is the first time I had experienced this and wasn't sure what to do. They have you wait in the vehicle until one of the porters tell you where to pull. We waited and waited and waited. Sigh.


When it was finally our turn to pull up, they quickly unloaded the luggage and we were swarmed with love bugs. OH-EM-GEE!! They were everywhere and unavoidable. It must be mating season or something. I have never seen so many. They were so annoying and hitting you in the face, hitch hiking rides on your back and in your hair. Totally gross. I don't know what it was with this area but the workers acted as if they weren't even there. They must be use to it. Mean while, I was doing every karate kid move I could think of swatting them away. We found that the further we got away from the baggage area (which was in the open in a parking lot) the better the situation got. When we were done, we had no idea what to do or where to go. We got the "I will take care of your luggage from here on out and make sure it will arrive safely on the ship" speel from the porter and then of course the added "This is the last time you will see me" deal...meaning give me my tip now if you ever want to see your luggage alive again. :p


We walked under a tunnel and over to the port. In the doors, through the carry on check-in and metal detectors and pulled aside for them to "check" our carry on (soda) to make sure it was actually soda we were smuggling on the ship. Then off to ship check-in. Up to the window, handed the passports, ask how we'd like to take care of our account for the cruise, handed our cards and directed another way for pictures. Are you serious? It was just that quick and that easy? WOW...this was simply AMAZING!! I have never been through a check in this quick in all of my cruises...ever! I think I'm still in shock. Way to go Carnival. For those of you wanting to know when I checked in, it was some time around 12:30-12:45. It was so fast that I didn't even have time to check the time because there was no wait at all. People were moving right along without stopping.


We got up to the "picture" taking (the big green screen) and they said 1 at a time. Um, we can't all be in the picture together? Gasp. I want family pictures of us all together. Rip offs trying to get more money out of us by making us have to buy 3 pictures of us for our cruise memories. :D Yea, I'm a Carnival newbie. I thought we were posting for our pictures we take that they put the ship in the background and you later purchase on board. Laugh if you want. I know these photographers thought I was a weirdo asking for my husband and daughter to be in the picture with me. We are use to NCL taking our pictures at the actual check-in desk a step before this part.


So my mug shot was done and away we went again...FINALLY, the actual place that we get our "family" picture done. :p I was a happy camper but since they confused me earlier, I made them work for it. A few pictures of us, some of my oldest daughters family, then some of us ALL together. I have my I <3 cruising girlie girl shirt on. hehe


...then off we went up the gangway to our beautiful Dream. :)

We have arrived. Let's get this party started and time to explore.


My initial thoughts...WOW, simply wow!!! This ship was beautiful. I have never seen so much glitz and glamour. Everything sparkled, had glitter, mirrors or lights. The atrium was to die for. It's just like an atrium is suppose to be. It was stories tall, glass elevators and all of the lights on everything constantly changing colors. I had found paradise. I don't know what the rest of the cruise was going to be like, but so far I'm impressed for sure.


I was off to explore and start my picture journey right away.


Riding the glass elevators up


You can never hide from your reflection on this ship.


Another one looking down into the atrium and the dance floor which my husband and daughter we use later that night.


I absolutely loved the glass elevators and the fact that they have glass on BOTH sides. So when you are standing in the hall waiting on the elevator, you can see all the way to the other side and even seen the elevators coming up and down.


The fact that they had regular elevators on each side in addition to the several glass elevators running made it nice for "people transport". The only thing is, you had to push both buttons and then make a run for it when one opened since there were so many of them and so far apart. These elevators don't give you a whole lot of time to run to them and get in before the doors close.


Up at the top of the atrium it was glass as well. You could see the water slides above it. Kinda neat and gets you pumped for some more excitement.


Did I mention all the glitter? Yes tons of glitter too...glitter swirly balls everywhere you looked.


We headed up to the pool deck to check it out but I was sure to stay away from the water park/slides area because I knew that my little one would immediately want to go in. She is drawn to water everywhere we go. I didn't need a melt down this early in the cruise.


The following pictures are from various days throughout the cruise, in no particular order. I take thousands of pictures while on vacation and it's hard to determine at what time they were taken (without looking at all the dates which would take too long). I use 3 cameras...all point and shoot water cameras that I'm very happy with so I no longer bring my DSLR with me on cruises. It's just too much to carry with all of the lens and equipment and I don't want to risk anything happening to it. I needed an all around good, small, waterproof camera that I could take with me everywhere, easily fit in to a small purse I carry around and could go on the islands and ports of call. I shoot with a Canon D10 (I have 2 of them) and an Olympus Tough. I'm real happy with the results from both so far and content with leaving the DSLR at home. So I have the 3 cameras, about 10 various SD cards, a memory stick and a small 10" computer that I take to download copies every day on to. I put them in folders pertaining to what they are of, various ports, where we were at, and sometimes the days.


With that all being are some pictures from around the ship in no particular order.


You will find "Fun Hubs" all over the ship. I have to say I have never used their internet but I do know that I have read multiple post about just how slow the internet is and that it's worse than having dial-up. So, I prefer to "check-in" when we are in port if there's wifi. I can say that as many times as we passed one of these Fun Hubs, I only found 1 couple on them during the cruise.


Another Fun Hub that didn't seem to be too "fun"


This is "Sams" husband is Sam hehe It was very RED, especially at night.


This is the main pool deck. I loved the way it looked and especially loved the big screen t.v. I remember being on the NCL Star 5 months ago and watching the Carnival ship pull out before us in NOLA and they had the big screen t.v. going and I thought, man that would be neat. The only ship that I have ever been on with a big screen like that was the Epic.


They always seem to have something playing on the big screen. It was pretty popular at night. I loved the way they had movies playing every night and making full use of the area. During the day they would usually have either a sports channel on (x-games or golfing) or some news and if that wasn't on then they would have some type of water scenery a waterfall or creek or something. During the entire cruise, they had someone going around taking video footage (that they would try to sell you during your cruise) and then they would have that playing on the big screen as well on your tv's in the room. YES, I was in that video footage and was forced to watch myself dancing during the sailaway party over and over and over. YIKES! LOL Then later at one of the "RED" parties they got my husband and daughter dancing as well.


Now I had heard people talking about the Red Frog Bar, but I don't remember anyone mentioning the Blue Iguana, which is basically the same thing, just different drinks? Either way, it is not at all what I expected. They are on opposite sides of each other on the pool deck and they were extremely small areas. People would crowd there to get a drink and it was next to impossible to get a soda with ease most of the time. Everyone hung out here and there is NOT much room at all. There was a few times when I was standing in this extremely long line not moving that one of the servers ask me what I needed and when I flashed him my "soda" sticker, he went back and got me one real quick. Kudos to that server several times.


As you can see, not much room there. There's a bar and 2 long tables. Everyone felt compelled to stand in there however. I'm not sure why?


As always, even at night, there's glitz and glamor with tons of lights everywhere. It always set the "mood" and made you feel relaxed.


Ok enough of the pool pictures. Now for a little discussion about the pool. To me, it is the same as any other cruise ship I have been on. It's way too little for the amount of cruisers on the ship. It seem to always be crowded during the days with standing room only. We did manage to find a day that it wasn't as bad (the last full day at sea...which surprised me). But when you're on a pool with not just 1 pool but 2...yes, there's another one on the back of the ship (even smaller than this one) and then there's the waterpark and slides, I found it not to be bothersome to me that's for sure. We made full use of all of them. No problems or complaints here.


Now I do remember when I decided to sail with Carnival and everyone was telling me not to do it and they complained about all of the "cut backs" that have been happening over the years. Well, since I had never been on Carnival, I have nothing to compare it to as far as cut backs, but I thought someone said that one of the cutbacks was the fact that there was no music on the deck. I was picturing this silence at sail away (or the sounds of the screaming munchkins on board and the obnoxious drunks falling all over the place causing a disturbance) throughout the cruise instead of the "missing music". Well I was real happy to see that they did indeed have a sail away party and man was it fun. We did all of the line dances and yes I was "caught on video" doing the funky chicken. (Just kidding, I wasn't doing the funky chicken). So, I guess I'm a little confused about the "no music" that I was told. As a matter of fact, they had a party out on the deck almost every night and it was a lot of fun.


The cruise director is Julie and she was in on everything and so much fun. She lead the dancing, she showed us new moves and she was always the light of the party. She wasn't annoying like you hear some cruise directors announcing over and over to go here and buy this or that and it's non-stop. You could tell she loved her job and she was at every nightly event and show as well. We caught her during one of the nights we watched the dancers and she was back stage, but at the angle we were that night we could see her, and she was dancing along with the dancers and trying to do their routine. She was so full of life and so much energy! WOW! I wish every cruise director was like her.


Now back to the pool deck. Yes, they did do quirky pool games like the hairy man contest, but I have to say, it's nothing different than on an NCL ship I've been on. They have done those before too. They can be pretty funny. They played games with diving for spoons, a scavenger hunt (which was hilarious) and other games. I finally found out what the "Ship on a Stick" was all about. LOL Yea, some may find the games dumb, but when we were up on deck hanging out, it was just something to watch and get a few laughs out of. I didn't mind it at all. It's not something that you would see listed in the Fun Times and say "Hey, I think I'll go to that because it's a do-not-miss show". It's just fun and entertainment. People like to have fun and it's the FUN ship remember?


Ok, so I guess enough about the pool deck.


If you didn't want to be around the games, you could head to the back pool. It was always quiet and just swimming. We only hung out here when we would go to the deli to eat or here and there a few nights when eating outside and then the last sea day we swam here for awhile.


They had 2 hot tubs located back there and we made use of one of them. It was nice on our sore muscles after a week of extensive port calls.

Ok, on to more of the ship...


Once again, still out on the back of the ship where the smaller pool is, you will find a deli bar. They had the best sandwiches and they make them right there while you wait and how you want them. You could have a sandwich on regular, rye, sub like bun, a wrap...tons of different things and meats and cheeses. The draw back was usually there seem to only be 1 person out there making them instead of 2 people (which they had 2 duplicate sections at the station for 2 employees) and there was always a line and wait when we would show up. There was only one day we were there that they had 2 people working it. Maybe it was the time of day we showed up, maybe not. Oh also, I was told this was one of the many options that was open all the time? Maybe someone else can confirm this.


On the opposite side they had another bar that was like an Asian bar. We never did try it for some reason. We were always full when it was open or it wasn't open when we was hungry, but it looked appealing to us.


A view of the deck area between the pools/hot tubs and the deli area


My daughters grilled cheese sandwich. It was obviously good because she ate 2 of them without coming up for air.


Just a random picture of the tile work in the hot tub that is located back on this deck...I know random...I'm a random kinda girl. :p


So since I was talking about food, I'll take you to the buffet area. I found the buffet area to be nice and pretty. It was forever long with plenty of room when we went. However, we found that either our timing was off a lot or it just wasn't open as much as NCL has theirs open. We could always go to the buffet on NCL and find something available, even if it was just 1 area open and serving sandwiches, salads, deserts and a few side dishes. There was always something open it seemed like. This time around we almost always missed it (with the exception of breakfast of course). I found it weird that on the days we would return back from port, by the time we were dressed and looking for food, it was never open. Was I too late? Too early? I already know I was too hungry to wait and would end up at the deli or pizza bar. Can anyone explain?


Anyhow, I found it nicely decorated or maybe I was just impressed because the last cruise I was on it felt like a school cafeteria and left a lot to be desired. Who knows.


There was an area in the buffet that had stairs leading up to something. I'm not sure what it was up there. A noodle bar/Asian food? A steakhouse? It always had a sign saying no entry and looked closed. I actually never found any of the "pay" restaurants, not that I had any intention on going to them, but I still usually take pictures. Could it have been this place? If so, I found it weird to have steps going up from the buffet area.


Now the buffet food when we did get to eat there...hmmm, well I didn't starve and I tried different things. I walked away with a full belly, but yet I have to agree with others on the food wasn't as good as NCL. They didn't have the variety either. The same goes for the breakfast. I didn't feel like there was too much to choose from and they had the same thing every day. The last 2 days of the cruise I did try out the omelet station and enjoyed that but didn't care too much for the rest of the food. The eggs were runny every day and didn't set well with me. AND THE BACON POLICE???? WHAT???? ARE YOU SERIOUS??? I'm not use to that and I love my bacon and I love to CHOOSE my bacon. I want it COOKED, not ready to come up off the plate and walk away. I want more than 2 pieces and I will stand there and tell them more and more until I give me the amount that I want. I also stood there and told them "no not that uncooked piece, give me the cooked stuff." So what good does it do to have someone serve you your bacon if you are still going to get more? I just found this ridiculous and humorous at the same time. Ok, off my rant.


As I mentioned, many times we had to go to the pizza bar for food. The pizza was pretty good and we enjoyed it. Was it the best pizza ever? No but it definitely wasn't bad and definitely something none of us had a problem eating. The lines were crazy to get to it and they were constantly making them. They would pull out 2 pizzas, slice it into 4 pieces and give each person 2 of the huge slices. If one person was standing up there for their spouse or someone else, there goes the entire pizza. You do the math...2 pizzas can be gone in a matter of only 2 people being served.


I noticed there was a "menu" of the different kinds of pizzas. However, the only pizza I ever seen them make was pepperoni. I wanted to try this garlic pizza they had listed, but they never had any. Oh well, I still didn't go hungry.


One thing that I really enjoyed about this ship were the SIGNS!!! Signs everywhere. I get turned around easily on a ship and have to use my husband as a navigation tool every time. But this time I only needed for him to tell me which way is the front of the ship and which way is the back, then I knew where I was going. On my other cruises, I never could get it right once we got off the elevator, which side to go down to our room. Carnival made this easy for people like me:


Yep, I showed my husband what's up. LOL I was sprouting wings on this cruise and flying solo a few times and I was able to make it back safely.


Of course every elevator had the normal listing as other ships do:


But this was the greatest...when you were on any particular floor, there was more "bling" with signs to let you know where you were headed. I loved this!!! Of course it just had to be lit up in LED lights to fit in with the rest of the beauty of the sparkle ship.


Did I hear you say you wanted more sparkle bling? Well you got it...even the signs for the restrooms are lit up!


Blue=boy, White=handicap Red=girl...all I had to do was look for the red. Easy peasy for a turned around cruising chick like me.


Stairway bling and a sign to let you know where you are surprises:


So I always manage to forget something when cruising. My last cruise on the Star I forgot something REALLY battery chargers to my camera. It forced me to have to buy an entire new camera just so that I could give everyone an awesome review once I returned. (This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I am now in love with this new camera).


This time around, I forgot my watch. Now when cruising, I know they say when you are on vacation you are off the clock and time doesn't matter. It's time to relax and enjoy your vacation. However when is this ever true? Definitely not on a cruise. You have a certain time to get off the ship in port, a certain time to get back, a certain time to go eat, a certain time a show is to begin, and a certain time you have to pick your child up from the kids club. Everything revolves around the time on a cruise and I didn't have mine. grrr


Carnival made it easy in several ways, to know what time it was, just as a friendly reminder to those idiots who might have left their watches behind. (Pointing at myself with shame)


Now one other comment about the picture above. It was actually a neat place. There was a night club (and I'm trying to remember if it was the teen club or the Caliente) but this window was located half way down the steps in one of the stairwells and you could view in to the room right where the dance floor is. I thought it was a clever idea.


I will go in to more about my "time" problem later in the review.

On to more exploring of the ship...I know, how did I fit all this in when I first got on the ship you ask? Well remember, this is a compilation of pictures throughout the cruise. hehe


More glitz, this was on the wall and I took several pictures of it. I was trying to capture the way that it kind of changed colors but it just wasn't working out of me. It reminded me of a fountain that NCL Star had in the atrium (I think it was)...I never could get that right either. Blah


This is the library. Every time I ever tried to go in there it was closed/door locked. One night I was out exploring when we had taken a nap after returning from Costa Maya, I couldn't get the daughter or hubby to wake up from this so called "NAP!!!" that turned in to an I went exploring. That night I found the door locked once again, but wait, there's people in there. Do they know that I'm an NCL person and I have been marked as a "no entrance allowed" person? That had to be it. On to investigate a little more. I walked around and happen to find another entrance on the opposite side...ah ha! I'm in anyhow Carnival. You can't keep me out. I actually like you now. So in I went to take pictures trying to keep others out of the frame.


When I quietly snuck out, across the hall was another place I had not noticed before now. It was called the Rendezvous Club Lounge. There wasn't anyone in there and I'm completley unsure of what it was to be used for. It was small and had a few places to sit. There was a huge big screen tv in there and everything was done up in like a western theme. To me, it reminded me of a cigar bar or something.


Thanks to the lovely settings of cc, it will only allow you to add 6 pictures at a time for each posting. Here is the other picture of the lounge (the ceiling painting):


Some of the art work in the stairwells. I loved the colors.


There's my time again...just so I know.


If you can't tell by now, I was walking the stairs taking pictures of just the artwork there (you can tell by the time changes, which gives you an indication just how fast I was moving along from floor to floor=1 minute each...huffing and puffing the entire way from all of the food I consumed all week and the nice 6 pound weight gain souvenir that I brought home with me). Well except for that last picture, which was an hour later. Maybe I had to stop for more food and there was a delay in picture taking. Oops.


I believe this was called the Song Lounge?


Time to throw in another odd ball picture just to keep you all on your toes.


This place was never used (that I could tell) and was always empty and abandoned when I passed this area. I'm not sure what it is suppose to be or what it use to be? I believe I took this picture after heading up the blingy steps (which you see to the right of the picture).


Once again, just so you know which way you are heading...more blingy signs.


According to Carnivals Dream layout, I think this is the Ocean Plaza maybe? Someone let me know and feel free to correct me on anything that I have misnamed or don't know the name of. All I know is I liked the blue and red mixture of the colors.


There was a little bridge like entrance that went over to this place. I think it was Caliente? When we boarded the ship, there was a wedding going on and a reception in there.


I felt that Carnival did have the little "extra" added touches that I usually find on NCL. Here is one and I will point out others later in the review:


Walking along another glitzy hallway you will find the places for the older children and teen clubs. It made me wish I was a teen still because it looked like a lot of fun to hang out in.


Circle C Club. I believe it was for the kids ages 12-14:


Club 02 for those that were 15-17 years old. I thought about trying to act hip and sneak in a few times.


The hallway past the Crimson Dining Room (for those that had assigned dining times). I guess I didn't realize that you were actually separated from those that had assigned dining times by another restaurant. I just thought if you had the anytime dining, you just simply show up at one of the MDR's between whatever time they told you and there was a place to sit. I kinda missed not being able to sit in either restaurant and had to stick to just the one.


So now it's time for us to head to our rooms to see if they are ready. I'm not use to carrying my own luggage around (carry on) with soda in it. NCL lets you check it in with your luggage. Put it in something or not, slap a room tag on it and you're free to go. With Carnival, if you carry on soda, you C-A-R-R-Y on soda and it's attached to your hip during the entire cruise. Just kidding, only until you can drop it off at your room.


We stopped prior to getting on the freeway the day we left home just so that I could buy yet another suitcase to use just for this purpose. I had to have something with wheels. There was no way I was carrying around 3 cartons of soda. (Well, not necessarily me, but me and the hubby).


We stopped by the room prior to them being done and as we were walking down the hall to the room, we noticed the room steward had just finished our room and was headed to the next and 1 of our luggage had arrived outside. So in we went to drop off the soda and pull in 1 piece of luggage that the porter had promised would make it to our room when I handed him our tip.


Now I have read multiple times that Carnival rooms are a lot bigger and roomier than NCL. I don't know what I was expecting, but this was not it. I had seen pictures of an interior room and it also had a sofa in it long ways. But this room did not have anything like that and I can guarantee it didn't seem any bigger than our interior rooms on NCL. It was almost exactly the same.


We always book interior rooms, it gives our budget a break and allows us to cruise twice a year. Cruising twice a year is far more important to us than having a balcony or suite. Would I pass it up if offered? Of course not. But if I have to pay for it, it won't happen. Have I been upgraded before? Yes. Did I like it? Yes of course. But it was at no cost to us. Remember I'm a struggling college student and I only work 3 days a week due to that.


The only difference that I could find was the storage space. The storage space and design of the room was far less superior than NCL. NCL may have some small rooms (?), but I can guarantee they utilize every inch of that small space that they can. Their storage is awesome and we have always had plenty of room for all of our things. They have storage inside of storage. hehe Like our last cruise had the normal closet in the middle and inside that closet they had fold out shelves if you needed more space. If you didn't, you didn't have to fold it out. Inside that closet there was hidden shelves along the side. Not really "hidden", but hidden from the world. They just have wonderful storage. This time, I had to keep some of our clothes in the suitcases and pull them out as needed. I'm not complaining at all. It's just an observation. Would it distract me from cruising with Carnival again? Obviously not!


As you can tell by the picture above, I had started removing the items from the refrigerator to make room for our soda. There was a lot in there and it was jam packed full. I had been told (on here) that if you remove it and wanted it removed from the room, you had to ask the room steward to take it out. Otherwise it would just sit on top of the counter the entire cruise (taking up even more space). However, when I ask the room steward to take it out of the room, he told me NO. I told him we was not going to be purchasing any of it and I would like to use the space on the counter it was taking up and he told me "NO, it has to stay in the room." Um ok then...


The bathroom was average size and what I'm use to I guess. Maybe just a tad bit smaller? I know the shower seemed a lot smaller and it was like a triangle. But it did the trick and no complaints here.


I did find that the sink area seem to have a lot of storage space for things. There were tons of glass shelves to put things where NCL has a few, but usually not enough for us and the sink ends up cluttered.


I loved the little swing out mirror they had attached to the wall. This was an added plus. I need one of these at home. It was a magnifying mirror on one side and a regular mirror on the other. It came out to a position you could see the back of your hair and everything. Excitement at it's best. 

The shower was equivalent to NCL with them having the shampoo (which I never use) and the body wash (which I always use)...hey, less to pack right? It smelled flowery and did the job.


I have to say that when we started our cruise, we had 6 towels in the bathroom. By the end of the cruise, we were only down to 3. I'm not sure why. I need (like) a lot of towels. I take 2 showers a day, 1 in the morning to get woke up and look presentable and another at night before going to bed to relax me. Then I have to have a towel for my hair (which is very long). You do the math, that's 4 towels just for me. I'm traveling with my husband and daughter...add 2 more towels. 6 towels was a positive sign and then it diminished from there on. Then if you are out at the pools, coming back from a sandy day in port, even more showers to be had.


There was a closet with our life jackets in there. We had 4 of them (it was a possible 4 person room). They were stacked on top of each other and the room steward brought us another (I guess for our little one, even though the thing seemed HUGE).


Another plus for Carnival (well, it could be for those that would use it) is that they automatically give you robes to wear. We have only had robes once from NCL and it was during a cruise that made us VIP status. Now we have robes at home, but even at home we barely wear them. So, we didn't use these either, but still was a nice added touch that NCL doesn't automatically give you.


One thing I found funny and had never seen before were people wearing their robes everywhere on deck. There were tons of people on the pool deck at night, in their robe, watching the movies. I had never thought of that, but that was the night that the hubby and daughter wouldn't wake up otherwise I would have took the opportunity to blend in with the robe theme. LMAO. Is this just a Carnival thing?


The shelves in the room, well...what was left of them, we definitely used up. They had a few rows taken up by all of the bedding that I guess would have been used if there was another person in the room.


The shelves in the room, well...what was left of them, we definitely used up. They had a few rows taken up by all of the bedding that I guess would have been used if there was another person in the room.


The refrigerator was below that, same size as what we are use to.


I have to talk about the refrigerator. I read comments from others saying that it was a "cooling" place and didn't get the sodas cold. Boy were they right. I wouldn't even say they got them cool. It was terrible! We had soda in there all week that never did get cold. Thank goodness for ice is all I can say. I'm a popaholic and I live, eat, and breathe soda (I know it's bad, but that's just how I am. I don't drink coffee and I need my caffeine fix somehow). So definitely a negative thing, but not something that devastated me of course. Just NCL has refrigerators that will have your soda coda by that night.


Others had also mentioned that you would not get ice unless you ask for it to be filled (another cost reduction by Carnival). Well, ours came filled right from the beginning and was filled every day. No issues and I never ask them to. Not necessarily a positive for Carnival, just something you expect. Had it not happened, no biggie either, I would have just ask for some. Not a big deal to me.

This was the hallway leading to our room:


There were a lot of "people" standing in the hallways all the time (see below), And I thought they eliminated smoking in interior rooms. These guys obviously didn't get the memo:


Another person on our roll call posted one of a Mermaid, but we never seen her. She must have been hanging out at the opposite end of the hallway because it was the same floor as ours.


I do have to laugh because my oldest daughters room was the last door at the end of the hallway. There was this wall that came out right after it and one of these "guys" was on the wall beside it. It always caught her off guard because she thought a guy was standing there when she would come out of her room. We had to laugh the entire cruise about her "friend" that was stalking her outside her door.


There is a strip on the floor, which I originally thought of it as just being a wire cover or something (like a threshold), but on the last day of the cruise, we found out it was a light strip and they had it on. I'm not sure why it was never on prior to this??? Anyone have any clue?


Inside the room you have the flat screen tv's and you can access your account and such from it. My daughter didn't realize this until I told her the second to the last day of the cruise.


One positive thing about Carnival, they have a Kiosk up on the deck (toward the main atrium) that you can check your balance at any time and it will actually print off your charges and everything. You can also add money to your account that way (which she did her entire cruise). Way to go Carnival for having this. On NCL, you will take yourself up to the desk and wait in multiple lines to apply money or check your balance. Awesome idea. If this is a way to cut back on expenses (from having employees serve you) then it was an awesome cutback IMO.


So now it's about time for us to go to the "Save you own life if the ship sinks" drill. Everyone was assigned to different areas on the ships to meet. It's according to what is on your sail and sign card. Our meeting spot was in the Encore Theater. I'm glad they have it inside, most of the NCL ships have it inside, but the last few they were outside, in the heat, wanting you in a single filed line. Not fun with a child.


Now what I find weird was that they tell you where each area is, you go in and sit down and they periodically come around and ask if you are supposed to be in area "......" and you agree. What they didn't do what account for everyone. How do they know everyone was there? They didn't have a list, they didn't take our names or room number. On NCL, you sign in with them and they make SURE you are there. If you are not, you get this nice little letter telling you that you were bad for not attending and they tell you a time you are to report to another room for your slap on your hands meeting about not attending. How do I know? Not because I got the nasty letter but because they had this meeting at the place that our meet & greet was on the last cruise and I was the person that put it all together and those naughty people were coming into our room and eating all of our drinks and snacks provided to the cc members. That's how I know! Do you think you are getting served snack and drinks for being bad?? Ok, sorry, that just brought back memories for me. LOL


So once they showed us how to put on a life jacket, we were free to roam. It was off to the sail away party on the deck. They had some good hamburgers, hotdogs and fries to get our bellies full and I was ready to sit down in peace an quiet while we drifted off to sea.


A view of us still sitting in port:


We just had to be sitting by Mickey and his gang:


Everyone looked like they were having a blast over there riding the dreaming about how maybe some day I'll be able to afford Disney. Sigh. I was really hoping that Disney pulled out before us. I wanted to hear their "Wish Upon a Star" horn. But, that didn't happen. My oldest daughter set up on a higher deck (I found out later) waiting to hear it and it never happened.


Meanwhile, here I am sitting on the deck watching this cruise line that I had never been on FULLY PACKED TO CAPACITY...yes, no rooms available, another first for me, getting ready to leave the port in silence as we drift out into the sunset quietly like a ship in the night ninja and all of a we go...time to PAR-TAY! The music started blaring, the chairs were moved off the deck and there was Julie the cruise director getting everyone pumped up and ready to dance. Can I get a h3ll yea?! You bet. I was super excited at that point and ready to get my dance on. Whoever said Carnival was a boring, no music ship was out of their minds.


Drink in hand and party on dude!


On of the cruisers on our roll call spotted Sakari and I out on the dance floor and took some pictures. Can you spot us?


Have you ever watched yourself dance? Well you shouldn't. You will feel complete humiliation the rest of the cruise when you see yourself on the big screen tv on the deck in front of millions. Just a warning people. I danced until I couldn't dance anymore. I had the time of my life. WHERE WAS MY DAUGHTER DURING THIS???? Still hoping to hear Mickeys horn and not to be found. She's my dancing partner and partner in crime. Darnit. We are best friends, we do everything together...and yet not to be found. Sigh.

I would be reminded of this dancing for the rest of the cruise because it played on the tv in our rooms in loop mode. Oh just also has Sakari and daddy dancing at the end of the video as well. She was so shocked to see herself on the big screen!

Once the dancing was done and over with, we headed back to our rooms to put our luggage away and finally meet up with our daughter to go to dinner. It had started raining outside and everyone scrambled. I was told that the lobster day is the first night and we got dressed up and ready to go to the MDR. Once I was there I found out it was not on the first night, but the second night, which was formal night. I wondered why everyone was in shorts, jeans and stuff.


I ordered the chicken, with the honey mustard sauce I think it was, for starters


Then I ordered the shrimp, which came on a stick (never seen such a thing) and sweet and sour noodles. The hubby had chicken breast and my daughter picked a PB & J. Geesh.


Later that night we were wondering around and found the same food up at the buffet area. Really? You can get the same thing there and not have to dress up? Sigh.


As for the staff, they were working their butts off, you could tell. I know what some mean but staff cuts because it took us about an hour to get our food. Now, I have experienced this on NCL before (our last cruise was a little slow in the MDR). One thing I truly missed on Carnival was the cheesecake. I love me some cheesecake and there was none to be found. I ask every night and every night I got the reply that it was only on certain nights they had it but it "wasn't this night." Well I finally gave up. On NCL, you can get cheesecake any time, day or night, 24/7 if you'd like and it is good. Insert sad face here.


For desert, they gave my daughter chocolate chip cookies. She wasn't hungry after she ate, so I took her cookies, put them in my small carrying purse and decided I would munch on them later. Remind me to never do that again...not only for the fact that I'm on a cruise ship and there is some type of available food on the ship 24/7 if I get hungry but also for the fact that these things completely crumbled in a matter of a few hip movements from walking. It was a bloody mess I tell ya!


We tried several times to go to the kids club (Camp Carnival) to sign our youngest up and our grandson. They were never open. This is weird. I'm use to NCL being open before sail away and you sign them up, get to view the place, and then after sail away you can bring the munchkins in for play time. Not Carnival. They were not opening until 9pm for sign ups. Wow. Shocker.


So, we went to the atrium and my hubby and daughter got their dance on for awhile. She danced like there was no tomorrow and didn't want to stop when it was time to move on.


Meanwhile, I'm busy snapping pictures in the Atrium and my surroundings as I glanced over waving at her twirling around like a princess and wearing daddy out.

Finally it was 9pm and time to go sign up for Camp Carnival. We signed the kids up and had a look around. The area was pretty big. I've seen bigger, I've seen much smaller, but all in all, it looked like a good time was to be had there and the kids couldn't wait to play...wait, what? You're not open tonight? Seriously? The first night of the cruise and parents are eager to spend money in your Casino and you aren't open? Definitely a negative for me. Sigh.


Just so you know you are going in the right direction for direction impaired people like me...


The front desk, which never really had anyone sitting there. You actually had to go inside at the glass gate and check in with the gatekeeper to pick up and drop off the munchkins. I guess possibly another staff cutback?


The windows you see in the background goes out to one of the decks, which would later become very useful to us...details to come!


The movie viewing area (which is still the same area as previous, this is just where the tv was located)...more on this to come as well.


Daddy and Sakari checking out all of the neat toys on the shelves. She loves dinosaurs and can name the different types. She has a huge box/collection of them at home and as I currently type this, she is watching a dinosaur movie. LOL (Truth be known and keep this our little secret, she is roaring too).


A shirt they would later give to my daughter to color and then proceed to not let her color it...details on that later as well!


Their going away gift on the last night of the cruise:


It looks like a lot of stuff for them to do some drawing activities right? But my daughter does not like to participate in things like that....MORE TO COME!!!!


Ok, so Camp Carnival was not open for registration before sailing and not until hours later after sailing. Then they are not open that night AT ALL. So far not off to a good start right?


The next thing they inform me is that we have to carry around this god awful huge "cell" phone from the 1990's in order to have our kids there. Um say what? Where am I suppose to put this thing? It has no clip on it and you are forced to carry it. It didn't even fit in my small hand purse. They require everyone in the kids club, ages 2-5, to have one of these. They give you a school plastic box with the phone and the charger in it to take back to your room to charge and make you check in with it each time by giving them your number. You assigned me the phone, you wrote the number down, shouldn't you HAVE that number? :confused: Ok so this was not my idea of "fun" but guess what...I just found my new source of a way to tell time AND...... me and my oldest daughter now had a form of communication between each other when we were seperated. LOL Whenever we were going somewhere, trying to find each other, simply pick up the cell phone and call. NOT WHAT CARNIVAL? You just gave us a personal communication tool. Thanks! My daughter also carried hers to port with her (for some reason these phones stayed on ships time no matter what port we were in) and we now knew exactly what time it was all the time. My daughter also used the plastic school box they gave to her as something to put her stuff in while in the bag. It kept things from getting wet and she made it into a little carrier. HA! Take that Carnival. I was not as enthused about carrying the dinosaur phone as she was, but I delt with it.


They also require the children to wear an armband the ENTIRE cruise. Remember how mine did not like the last armband from Ron Jon and that was only on for 1 day? Well I was just informed that she would now have another armband for the entire week. Gasp. Here we go....(in the end, she only ask for it to come off for a few days and then she finally gave up and all was well, but I guarantee that when stepped foot off the cruise and she knew it was over, she ask again for us to remove it).


Well since there was nothing more that a family with children can do at this time of night (since everything consisted of bars, dancing, or casino), that pretty much left us out on anything other than going back to the room for the night (after a little snack of course).


Outside our room was our tickets for our excursion to Playa Mia (the only excursion we did with Carnival because it's a place we wanted to go and that was the only way to book it). It was kind of neat that each room had it's own little "mailbox" outside of the room. I'm use to things being shoved in the room number outside the door for everyone to see. This was kind of "hidden". I liked it. A+ Carnival.


We arrived to find our first towel animal...his name was "no feet" according to Sakari.


Our beds were together (which was something we were wondering about since Carnivals online sign in kept changing it back to separated) and Sakari's bed was pulled down from the ceiling.


We each was left a mint...another A+ Carnival. At least you still do that for the cruisers. This is something you now have to "earn" with NCL and be up the ladder to receive. Rolling my eyes out loud.


Ok, time to plug in that dinosaur cell phone to charge for tomorrow, the computer, and charge the batteries to the camera...wait, only 1 plug and I forgot my power strip either at home on the table or in the van left at Ron Jon. (Yea, it was the van at Ron Jon's we found out after the cruise). I would continue the rest of the cruise on a charging frenzy between all of the items. Some took priority over others and some people were a little upset about that (Camp Carnival to name one).

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