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

Day 1: Heading to Boston overnight for our cruise

Hello. This will be my first review of a Carnival ship…because it’s my first Carnival cruise. I normally cruise with NCL and the only other ship line that I have cruised on is RCI. I’m not too familiar with Carnival and may not know most of you on here. However, I do thorough reviews and pictorials on NCL (and they seem to just get longer with each review), but many of you have run across me on the port boards or have been referred to some of my reviews regarding the ports of call.

I usually cruise with NCL, so this was my first Carnival cruise. I have several friends that have cruised with Carnival and several others that cruise exclusively with Carnival. They always have a great time. I have always wanted to try Carnival, but somehow manage to book with NCL again. I did a lot of research and I have to say most people are so negative about Carnival, especially with all of the negative publicity lately in the news. Due to that negative publicity, I felt that the prices reduced enough to make me at least give it a try. Also, NCL pulled all of their ships out of the Caribbean during the summer months and what choice did I have if I wanted to cruise during that time that I have in between semesters? Pshh, I’ll give it a try. People warned me about the bad service, the bad food, the lousy entertainment, the bad ships…but as I stated before, I like to form my own opinion. So we booked. I went with an open mind and no opinions formed, keeping everything in the back of my mind knowing that I would not let things get to me if they were true. After all, I was on vacation, I had the MOST STRESSFUL semester I have ever had and needed this vacation, and anything is better than being at home, at work, or at school. LET THE FUN BEGIN!

 

Well, my oldest daughter’s boyfriend is scared of planes. So, when they cruise with us, he insists in driving. He claims a road trip in enjoyable and looking at the scenery is fulfilling. RIGHT!!!! I love nothing more than being cooped up in a vehicle for 15-20+ on the way to Florida having to pee every hour, legs cramping and starring at that same beautiful black paved roads with those little white stripes on the road flying by you at 70+ mph scenery more than getting on a plane a jetting off in about 3 hours. Yep, I’ll take driving any day over that. (HUMOR at its best). Sigh.

 

I won’t bore you with the details of our 2 days of driving and the fights between the 2 little ones along the way or the van we took that liked to spew gas out every minute of pumping losing about $5 worth every fill up. On to our arrival in the Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach area.

 

We booked with Ron Jon for our precruise stay. The place just looked amazing with so much to do. We knew the little ones were going to love this place (and truth be known, we were too).

 

Pulling up to the resort, looks nice, beautifully landscaped, flowers, fountains, stone driveway:

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This looked like a huge resort and the excitement was building.

 

We pulled up at the turnaround and went to go check in. All I could do is smile and think "wow" to myself. It was even more beautiful inside!

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So it was a fairly easy check in. For those of you wanting to stay here, they do have a weird check-in, check-out time (according to them). Their check in time is at 3pm. They do however tell you that you are welcome to come to the resort to check in earlier but you will not be able to go to your room at that time. They will store your luggage for you and you can have full use to their facilities until the "actual" check-in time. This is an added plus (although we had planned on arriving much earlier to take advantage of this, we actually arrived at 2:45pm and was able to go straight to our rooms).

 

This is heading toward the elevators:

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The elevators take you up to one of the many floors and when you get off the elevators you have a spectacular view at a window of the foyer entrance. You feel like you are still inside a hotel, but you start to walk down the hall and you are outside. The view along our walkway (or the "front" of our, what felt like a house), was the putt-putt grounds (or at least 1/2 of it as I'll go in to details later about that):

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When you walk in to your room, you are in a long winding wide hallway.

 

The first room you come to was the bedroom. It had a window viewing the front of the place (the putt-putt area), 2 beds, a closet, a dresser and a flat screen tv. It also had a ceiling fan.

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On the opposite side of the hallway you will find several doors. One was a closet, another the heating/air and hot water tank, another was the washer and dryer (they supplied a box of detergent and this was a stackable washer/dryer set) and the last door was a utility closet that had all the dishes/pans/glasses and a basket with your towels in it for swimming.

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Next door was the bathroom. It was a pretty nice size and nicely decorated with a stand up shower. Now I have to say, this shower would BEAT you to death. It was the most uncomfortable shower I have ever been in. I tried turning it to different settings and there was just no adjustment that would stop it pounding on you.

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I had either read or heard that Ron Jon does towel animals. I did not see any. Maybe it was just because we only stayed one night, but some how I don't see it even if we stayed longer and I'll get in to that later.

 

After the bathroom, you have your kitchen area. It had everything you could want our need and our first priority was getting our soda in the refridgerator to keep it nice and cool for what seemed to be such a hot day.

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The kitchen came equipped with dish detergent for the sink and also detergent for the dishwasher. Now all of these "supplies" they gave that I have mentioned are small trail size supplies. Not something that would last for an entire week IMO.

 

On the other side of the kitchen was the dining room table. One side was a bench chair (along the wall) and the other side were regular chairs. It was pretty big.

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The living room sofa also pulled out in to a bed for added space.

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Behind the blinds there was a HUGE balcony which included a table and some chairs.

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 A video tour of the place:

Standing outside on the balcony was this beautiful view of the water park. Oh my...I (I mean the kids) couldn't wait to get unloaded and down to the water park. woo hoo

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We quickly threw the luggage in and got dressed for the pool! No need for unpacking, just find me my bathing suit and lets go.

 

This was your "I'm a special Ron Jon Resort person" identification tag. You had to wear these the entire time you were at the resort. My youngest didn't care for this idea too much and constantly begged to have hers removed. A quick threat of no pool time or fun time eliminated this argument several times during the day and night.

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A huge beautiful mural toward the back of the lobby area heading out to the pool

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We arrived to the GATED pool area. You have a have a key card to get in. They also do not allow any coolers in the area. You could bring your drink, just not the cooler to keep it cold. There were a few coolers sitting outside the gate. LOL

 

I knew it was hot that day and they had this to remind just how hot it was:

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We found our "spot" to put our things...not like it mattered, we wouldn't be staying there because there was just too much fun to be had that day.

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There is a lot of room around the pools, the water park, the lazy river and so on. Pleanty of room and chairs. Any spot you picked would be considered prime real estate in my book. It was just so pretty.

 

We immediately headed for the lazy river. What better way to get use to the water temperature than going in slowly, then getting dumped on at any unknown time by the water contraptions located above you and beside you as you float along. However, the water was a NICE temp. No shocks to the system when you entered. It was fabulous. Well, I guess I would have to ask my oldest daughter how she felt...considering the picture below:

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I think it had her approval here:

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These got me a few times even after my beautiful arm flinging skills tried to divert me away...it didn't work out too well in the end and it was bath time for me as I floated by.

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Here are the official Ron Jon showers...who would have thought that a surfer guy would come up with this as an idea. hehe

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After a couple of times around the lazy river, we (my youngest) was yelled at for not being in a tube (I guess they require you to be in a tube to float down the river, who would have thought?). She could stand up in the water and she can swim and was just floating along, but they wanted her in a tube. These tubes are H-U-G-E. There's no way that she could sit in one by herself. So this forced her to have to ride with one of us. She was not happy about it.

 

So, we decided to head to the slides.

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When my little one went down, she was sitting up (which they tell you to do). My oldest daughter was going after her and I was down below filming. She said that "sissy" started by sitting up, fell over, flipped around sideways, went on to her stomach and then on to her stomach.

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When she got down to us, she was almost in the splits position and face down. After that, she didn't want to go on the slide again. Her wish was our command and she wanted to head to the kiddie water park. Off we went trying to make up for the turmoil she had just experienced.

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There was lots of spraying to be done and she was on a mission. It was rest time for me and I decided to just watch from a distance.

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What was that I just heard? Was that a ship horn???? I jumped up from my "rest" and looked behind me to find that the RCI ship was sailing away from port. I raced to try to get a good picture, but there were just too many trees. I headed up to one of the decks over by the water slide only to find out that the channel must turn because the ship was going in the opposite direction and I was only catching the back end of it now. Darn.

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I was already up now so we might as well head to the next event...the LARGE pool.

 

As always, my little one jumped right in and off she went swimming (it's her FAVORITE thing to do. She is a little fish. If there's water, she's there).

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My oldest wanted a picture by the waterfalls along the pool wall:

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There was a step there (in the water) and you could sit there and relax...if you wanted water from the falls hitting you here and there. hehe I think I would take it over the shower any day.

 

For some reason everyone decided they wanted to throw the kids in the air:

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Some made it higher than others

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And some didn't make it high at all. Some (meaning my oldest) got jealous and needed in on the action too..and she would be one of the ones that didn't make it too high. Hmmm, I wonder why. (We are all kids at heart).

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The big kids headed to the bar for some drinks and I'm not sure what she came back with, but it was yummy and it was happy hour. hehe

 

We continued to water log ourselves while I started hearing weird sounds every time I was under water. Oh wait, that was my belly starting to growl. We hadn't ate since breakfast about 8am that morning and it was getting close to 6pm.

 

I managed to get a few hundred more pictures before we left the pool area.

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Then back up to the room we went to change and get ready to eat some lunch/dinner for us.

 

We headed to the restaurant on the premises. I loved the way it was decorated. Everything looked so "South Beach" here to me with the vivid colors. I love vibrancy.

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I managed to snap some pictures of the menus. I really didn't think the prices were too bad, especially considering it was a resort and a lot of people don't go off the premisis for fear of losing that prime parking spot in the garage if you do leave. Did I mention we were driving an extended van? You know the one that is higher and longer? We managed to hit the ceiling coming in the garage and was lucky enough to get the very first parking spot as you pull in thank goodness.

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We ended up getting a burger platter with french fries and the hubby ordered the same thing but wanted a side salad in addition to the platter. The food was good. We all ate everything on the plate and it was filling.

 

The waitress came with our bills and I discovered that she had charged for my husbands platter an extra $2. It was $9.99 and she charged $11.99 plus charged an extra $2.95 on top of that for his "side" salad and $2.50 for the fries??? I quickly brought that her attention and she actually argued with me about it. Said the fries were $2.50 and a salad was $2.95. Um, first of all they fries COME with the meal WHICH is $9.99 to being with, not $11.99 and the SIDE salad was suppose to be an extra $1.50. After about 5 minutes of arguing about it :eek: she ask if I wanted her to just take it all off the bill. No, I don't expect you to remove the meal off the bill, just make it right. Charge me the $9.99 for the meal and the $1.50 extra for the salad. How hard is that??? She acted a little perturbed about it, but eventually she fixed it and did it with attitude. Geesh. I wasn't asking for a free meal, just to charge me the right amount.

 

Ok, now that my blood was boiling, it was time to head outside for a bit. This restaurant was an indoor/outdoor restaurant and you could chose where you wanted to eat. Obviously we was inside, but wanted to go outside to see too.

 

It was just your typical outside bar area.

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We decided to go check out the premisis a little more and of course more pictures to add to my SD card that was now in overload.

 

Escalators that led from the main lobby up to the second floor.

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There was a sitting area up there and a place to over look the main lobby and of course wonderful picture opportunities up there as well.

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They had a conference room up there and this lovely astronaut. I kept expecting to find a surf board attached to his back, but I guess it was in the shop for repair that day. (I mean this is Ron Jon after all)

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There was a huge replica of the grounds up there. I can't believe how big this resort actually was. It wasn't just the buildings that were surrounding the pool/water park area but it actually extends to the side and all the way back to the ocean. There is part of the resort back there too (I guess for those that wanted to be on the ocean instead) and they have plenty of land for expansion. I believe I read more buildings are in the works???

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I had to take a picture of the back half, by the ocean, resort because they actually had swimmers and a loch ness monster coming out of the water. So what is significant about this? My daughter has that same exact toy at home. LOL I know she wondered how they got it.

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A little more exploring around brought us to the game room. It wasn't your normal hole in the wall game room either. This was a huge game room.

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I had to take a picture of this game because our last cruise had this on the ship and everyone was always trying for the grand prize.

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I believe this was a "teen" room. It had a huge tv with games and controllers...maybe wii? It reminded me of one of my sons rooms growing up.

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They also had a movie theater and it was kind of neat. They were showing movies all day and there were people in there so I didn't find it appropriate to go in and take a picture, as much as I was compelled to, during the movie. But there was a "viewing" window in the room before going in to the theater that you could look in and see the place, the movie showing, and the people watching it. Kinda neat...just not enough time in our day to do it.

 

They have a huge indoor playroom for the kids (yes, my big kid too had to go in there as she always does). The little ones loved it and played for awhile.

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A repeat of the water slides??? No, I think this was intentional.

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Off to the side in this room were several activity areas for the kids.

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Outside on top of the parking garage was a basketball court. We just wanted to go check it out. It was a chore trying to figure out how to get to it. Up the elevators...wrong floor, down the elevator, wrong floor, walking the steps checking each floor until we finally figured it out.

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Once we arrived, we found at that you had to go to the main desk back at the entrance to get the basketballs. Ehh, ok, no time for that.

 

I snapped a picture of the sign they had up...(knowing this was funny because of it being a surfer dudes place and you see these signs everywhere...just not to this extent). My husband is a skater and he found great humor in this.

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I was fascinated by the "surfer/beach" themed wallpaper in the restrooms.

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We decided it was a time for a little putt-putt and headed back to the main desk anyhow to pick up our clubs and balls.

 

Here we go. My youngest insisted on holding the club the wrong way each time. She also insisted on not letting us correct her and would pick up the ball after her first hit and take it to the end and put it by the tee and knock it in. Since there were 6 of us playing, I wasn't about to tell her any different and let her hurry along so that we had a turn.

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My grandson however thought we were playing golf and whacked the ball like the tee was 2 football fields away. Thank goodness no one was around.

 

Wait surfboards on a golf course? Whoda thought?

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After awhile (and by awhile, I mean 2 minutes), my grandson was bored with golfing and would rather just play on the ship/fountain area. :rolleyes: Yes, I sometimes (well almost always) pretend I don't know these people.

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My little one found a snail and she made it her friend for the rest of the night. She was really upset when we made her let it go at the end of the night and worried that it would be ok without her "help". She's a very caring and nurturing child and LOVES animals of all types...even the slimy ones.

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It was starting to get dark and we decided that we had to at least walk to the beach before turning in. It was a bit of a walk...or at least it seemed like it due to the fact that we couldn't figure out how to get there. We tried going down a road and didn't get far because there was a gate. We walked around the building and out toward the pool area but not into the pool gate. We thought for sure it was leading us around...not. Once again a gate. We headed into the pool area thinking we could get out toward the back...again, no exit. We were trapped!!! This is a resort that doesn't ever want you to leave...ever. You can't go anywhere. I would be perfectly happy with this but hey, I had a cruise to catch the following day. Nicely thought out Mr Jon.

 

This darn black fence that held us hostage.

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FINALLY, we found a way out and headed down the Ron Jon road that the golf carts park at. I think they will transport you back and forth from resorts during the day. We made it back to the other resort and there was the usual deck walkway to the beach to keep you off of the dunes. It was nice and lit up

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By the time we arrived, of course it was dark. Too dark to see much of anything. But we made it and can say we were at the beach. :D The last time we were ever at Cocoa Beach was on our honeymoon 7 years ago.

 

I had to draw in the sand and took multiple pictures not knowing if it would turn out or not.

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Then it was back to the room to get our massage, I mean shower and wind down for bed. It was going to be a big day tomorrow and we were looking forward to our "new" Dream experience.