1st time Carnival cruiser (DREAM) complete review & pictorial (from a NCL cruiser)
Day 9: Getting off the ship
So continuing with our last and final few hours on or Glitzy Dream. Oh how we have enjoyed you.
I had set the alarm to 8am since we didn't need to be off of the ship until around 10:15am. I figured that would give us more than enough time to shower, get dressed, have all of our things put together in our carry off bags, eat breakfast, and just relax before we had a long journey home (driving).
I'm not sure why, but I woke up at 7am. So if I'm up, everyone needs to be up. :D It's just a little "extra" time.
We went and ate a big breakfast because we knew we had a long drive ahead of us and the less stops the better. We left our bags in the room. I'm not sure if there's a certain time they need them out, but I know that a lot of people must have still been in their rooms because after breakfast when we went to pick ours up and take one last quick glare of items that might be left behind, people were still coming out of their rooms. I called my daughters room phone and actually woke them up. :eek: She said since they didn't have to get off the ship until 10:15, they were sleeping in. I had to inform them that I'm pretty sure they want you out of the room so that they can prepare it for the next set of cruisers.
After we ate, we just sat up on the pool deck reflecting the week that had just past...with smiles on our faces. We didn't catch fire, we didn't loose an engine, we were not bombed by the fighter jets. Yes, life was good. I was glad that I didn't let other cruisers influence me into not booking this ship. I laugh at you in my Vincent Price voice AHA HA HA HA!
We sat and we waited and waited and then heard Jamie come on and say there was a delay....and then back to moving again. They were only on 7 when we were sitting there. We were number 27 :eek: YIKES. Ok, at this point there was nothing to do and I was now wishing that we had an earlier time to get off the ship and get on the road. :o But it did move along quickly. Our number was called around 9:55am and off we went.
Debarkation was pretty smooth, just like getting on...just not as fast. I tell ya, they have this situation under control. This had to be the best experience I have ever had with getting on and off the ship. A+ Carnival.
We got in to the area where our luggage was. We easily located them (that's what happens when you have pink & black poka dot luggage and bright purple and pink hearts luggage ;)) however, they had signs up that corresponded with your number and our number was not out yet. Still no problems finding it. Kendra and family had quite a bit of luggage, so they took a little longer to gather their things and get in line. We were way ahead of them and would wave every time our line passed them. hehe
When we came up to customs, the person directing us over to the customs guy whispered to us that "this guy is super fast and I like him" lol and that he was a quick look over of our papers, flashed our passports and we were done. Kendra said the guy they got didn't even ask for their b/c and just looked at her paper and waved them on.
Coming out of the port terminal, we had no idea where we were suppose to go. There wasn't really anyone out there to tell you. I know that the place the cab pulled up at and dropped us and our luggage off was across the street and under the bridge. We walked to the middle section of the road and finally ask a lady standing there with a walkie talkie in her hand. She said she would call us a cab. Now I really wanted to get the "Pay What You Want" cab because I figured it would be cheaper. We had paid him $15 for the ride there. We waited for a good 20 minutes and it was HOT.
So Kendra decided she would walk under the bridge to see if cabs were sitting there and waiting and I decided to call the PWYW guy and they said they would not be able to get there for another 40 minutes. Yikes.
Soon after that, the van pulled up that was our driver (always happens when someone disappears right?). It was a mini-van and boy did we have to cram all of the luggage in to it along with luggage sitting in our laps and along the side. The driver picked up my luggage and managed to break the handle on the bottom of my luggage that you use in order to pick the luggage up (like to put up on a bed or INTO A VAN). My luggage I tell ya, it's been around the block and torn up over the last 2 cruises. In December, Kendra was pulling it out to her car to drop us off at the airport and she broke one of my wheels. So, my luggage is the officially piggy-back luggage and it gets strapped to one of the other luggage's. Then some of the stitching ended up coming apart on the last cruise too. (Do I really pack that much?) So now I'm afraid it's going to come undone and I'm going to end up loosing all of my clothes in it. This time the handle on the bottom. Sigh
So we made it back over to Ron Jons where we had parked our van. It's kinda funny because the cab ride back over was only $14 in a regular cab.
We put everything in the van, filled up the gas and we were on our way. Once again, I vowed to NEVER do this drive again. I said this last March when Kendra insisted on driving to Miami, I say it again this time when Kendra insisted on driving to Port Canaveral. NEVER again!! The only way I will drive again is if it's closer...like Boston going to Bermuda or something. These Florida trips are just too dang long and I hate a 2 day trip. We were determined to do the trip home in 1 day. We had estimated that we would arrive some time around 2am, which was fine with me.
Well, things didn't go as planned. It rained, the sun shined, it poured and you could barely see, the sun shined...then it got bad. Rain pouring, could hardly see the road, it started getting dark, fog came in, we were in the mountains and I was freaking out. Ok, I've had enough...TIME TO STOP!! I can't deal with this pressure. We stopped for the night and continued on the next day and made it home by around 2pm. Whew!!
Coming up...my gathered thoughts of the Dream in general.
This will be a summary of my final thoughts about the Dream. I’m sure I missed several things along the way, but when you pack a fun filled day into every day for basically 8-9 days in a row, things have a tendency to run together.
I will give MY thoughts on our Carnival experience compared to our NCL experiences. Since I'm normally a NCL cruisers, I know my NCL peeps have been following my review as well to see what I thought. :)
Our beautiful Dream (or what I like to call Glitzy). Oh how we loved you. You were beautiful with all of the glamorous constantly changing lights, your glitter, your balls, and your awesomely decorated interior. You treated us good and we are grateful.
I am so glad that I am one that does what I want based on my “gut” feeling instead of listening to others. I’m a leader, not a follower. I will always listen to concerns and opinions, but I will always be the one to form my own. I am certainly aware that everyone can have different tastes and expectations and what some like others do not and vice versa. I always take things with a “grain of salt” and like to form my own opinion.
The Dream was beautiful and I felt that it flowed pretty well. Everything that we needed or used seem to be easily accessed, although there seems to be some hidden gems that I managed to miss, but that’s ok. I’m satisfied with what we did do and find. NCL has ships that flow really well, others that don’t. I imagine it’s a hit or miss on the Carnival ships as well. This one was just a good one to me. A+ Carnival.
The beauty of the ship (I still can’t get over it) is, I feel, more superior than (most) of the NCL fleet that I have been on. Yes, you have to take in to consideration that a lot of the NCL fleet is a little older than the Dream, so you would expect that. But the Dream is right up there with the Epic interior as far as beauty. It had that WOW factor and I love ships that have the huge, stories tall atrium. A+ Carnival.
The exterior of the ship/pool areas, definitely an A+ in my book and right up there with the Epic. It has the “toilet” bowl and the water slides. I may even consider it better since it had several different sized water slides and the water park area for the munchkins. Another plus, it had 2 pools to enjoy. A+ Carnival.
The “parties” on deck. We had a blast. I loved dancing at night under the stars and doing all the new (and old) line dances with everyone. It was absolutely awesome. The only party that we ever go to (or really know about) on NCL is the White Hot party and only 1 of them have been on the deck. Another A+ Carnival.
The events out at the pool deck on Carnival…well I know a lot of people complain that they are silly (the hairy chest competition, diving for spoons, scavenger hunt and so on), but really if you are not interested in them, don’t go, don’t watch. It’s simply something to pass the day by and get a few laughs while you are out sitting on the deck. Truth be known, NCL does them too. So, it’s the same thing. = Carnival.
The music, no, Carnival did not have a live band. The Reggie music that NCL plays with their live band can be good or it can be bad. Our last Star cruise, the guy was simply awesome and we enjoyed him. The other cruises, not so much. I can tell you that most of the cruises with NCL and the live band playing out by the pool were annoying because the music is so loud you can’t even talk to each other. I enjoy the DJ, so this was fine with me. So I guess this is pretty much even with me. I can take it or leave it either way. = Carnival.
The food. Now to me, this is where things are a little different. NCL by far wins this hands down. I usually don’t find too many things that I don’t like on NCL. NCL has a better selection for sure. I also found it a hard time to catch the buffet area open on this Dream cruise. They must have some odd hours that we were not use to because we never had too much of a problem showing up on any NCL cruise and finding it open. The MDR, I have had good and bad. So to me, it’s pretty much equal. We did the “My Time” dining and it worked out fabulous for the days we used it. I have to admit, this was one of the things that has kept me from booking with Carnival. I don’t want to be told that I have to show up at a certain time every day to eat, at an assigned table, with assigned people. No sorry. I remember that from cruising in the 80’s and 90’s and HATED it. I had myself so worked up about it. Well, I’m here to tell ya, IT’S NO BIG DEAL AT ALL. The My Time Dining worked wonderful and never hindered us once. Pssh, I can’t believe I have stressed for the last 3 years over this. Seriously! The food available for 24/7…well pizza on the Dream basically. While you could get deli sandwiches until pretty late at night, there’s still not much of a choice (other than room service). NCL wins hands down with this. They have an actual restaurant open 24/7 with to-die-for wings, soups, salads, CHEESECAKE and other deserts, hamburgers…the list goes on. It’s fabulous. You can also get the pizza 24/7 as well (and of course room service). Now did I starve on Carnival? Obviously not, I gained 6 pounds. But the food varied and it was nothing to brag about. A+ NCL, Carnival C-
The entertainment-it was fine, but not the same as NCL. NCL wins in this category. They seem to have a little bit better shows and variety and better entertainers. Carnival, I have to admit that I was a little confused when most of the time I showed up to Encore and there was always the same singers and dancers, just a different show. It kind of got repetitive and boring. The shows were good that we did go to and the props were good, but it just got boring after a while. Also, I’m use to NCL having all of their “shows” in the main theater. Carnival did not, therefore I missed a bunch of them. L We did see a country song and dance show, a dancing in the streets show, a juggler show and a version of a “Newly Wed-Not so Newly Wed” show that was simply HILARIOUS. (I forgot to mention this in my review). They picked a couple that met on the Dream 2 or 3 years ago. Well, they just got married on the Dream as we were getting on the ship. They had A LOT of family members cruising with them…including his mom and dad that had been married for like 37 years. Well they were also picked to be on stage for the game. They were absolutely hilarious and it kept us laughing. So anyhow, I have never been one to plan my days/nights around a “show” or what’s going on during the day. If we are out and need something to do, we’ll simply show up. I think this was part of the confusion for me. We would just show up at the theater and watch whatever was going on. So, this is not a make or break thing for me. I can deal with it. I’ll just know better next time that it’s not always going to be in the theater. NCL A+, Carnival C
The theater (Encore)-I thought this deserved a section of its own. The design was simply amazing. The space you had between the chairs was amazing. Putting a table in front of the chairs to hold drinks and even food-amazing. You never felt crammed in there or your space invaded. Also the middle section not having actual chairs and instead having bench seats-amazing as well. It made you feel like you had more space, if there was room and people weren’t sitting beside you and your little ones fell asleep you could lay them down-amazing. Well done and planned out Carnival. A+ NCL=crammed setting that people can barely pass you without stepping on your toes to get to another seat F-
Embarkation-Carnival by far had the best experience. I have had some fast embarkations, but never like this. Carnival had their shiznit together. We were moving the entire time from start to finish. I just couldn’t believe it. Although this might be just the port? I’m not sure since I have not sailed from this port before. Carnival A+
Debarkation- Smooth and easy just like getting on for Carnival. There was a line, but it didn’t take long. It was pretty much as simple as NCL. =
The Rooms- We always book an interior to save money and be able to cruise more. We are hardly ever in there other to sleep, shower, get ready and change clothes. Carnival rooms were basically about the same size as any NCL room that I have been in. Although I would have to say that NCL wins in this department simply because of the storage space. They utilize EVERY space possible. However, Carnival leaves everyone a mint every night and with NCL, you have to be at a certain latitude to get this. It’s not a make or break thing for us, but Sakari sure does love them. So, the rooms are the same, the storage wins. One other thing that I didn’t mention prior was the shower water. It felt as though Carnival had some type of water softener. I have to say I seriously hate water softeners. We had a huge, expensive water softener/osmosis system in a house we bought once and I ripped that sucker right out. Nothing worse than having your skin feel slimy when showering, especially your face. Gross. What was up with that? Anyone know? One other thing about the rooms, I’m not sure what the deal was or if we have just been lucky on our previous NCL cruises, but the walls on the Dream seemed paper thin. We could hear the tv playing in the room next to us, we heard every time someone walked down the hall if they were talking. Just an observation. NCL A+ Carnival C
The refrigerators- worth mentioning…they SUCK! The soda did not get cold all week long. I had 1 can that I placed in there and left in there (while we drank the others in there daily) and it never did get cold. I have seen others mention this before, so obviously it was not an isolated incident. NCL, their refrigerators get your soda cold by the end of the day. Thank goodness we had ice and cups in our room, but it sucked when we just grabbed a soda to go as we were leaving the room. Carnival F- NCL A+
Room Steward- Ours was friendly and called us by name. We received a towel animal every night, clean linens every night, chocolates every night. Our towels did decrease over the course of the cruise for some reason, but I have to say this has happened with NCL on a few cruises as well. I would have to say that the service was = other than the room steward refused to remove all of the contents I removed from the refrigerator, from our room. He said it had to remain in the room…which was taking up valuable space for us.
The friendliness of the staff all over the ship- I would have to say NCL wins by a mile on this. I have never been on any NCL ship that didn’t have almost every staff member say hello in passing, they were always smiling, always friendly and always helpful. Their staff is simply A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! The only time we really ever had any of the staff members say hello or anything to us on Carnival…that would be just our room steward. NCL A+ Carnival D-
The ports-now I’m only mentioning the actual PORT itself because Carnival does dock at a different port than NCL in Cozumel and Roatan. I have to admit, I liked Carnivals ports in both of these better. The port in Cozumel (Puerta Maya) was a lot better than the 2 story, winding building that never ends in Punta Lagosta. I also thought docking at Mahogany Bay was awesome as well. Much better than the dock for NCL in Roatan. The other places were the same of course. Carnival A+
The Kids Club-ahhh that dreaded Camp Carnival. Sigh. The absolute worse experience I have ever had with any ship period. While I’m pretty convinced it was just some of the staff, it still made for a very bad experience. For my little one not to beg to stay when leaving and not beg to go there and once telling me that she didn’t want to go at all…you know it had to be bad. They completely disappointed me, my husband, my oldest daughter and the children. F--- Carnival. The hours-what screwed up hours they had! Even the staff didn’t know most of the time. They seem to tell one person one thing and someone else something else. My daughter was dropped off about an hour or longer than my grandson, but when he was dropped off, they said they weren’t open yet? My daughter was there already! Also to not be open AT ALL on the day they set sail? Then to be closed for 6+ hours on a full sea day? All F- and needs work. The prices of after-hours sitting for Carnival $6.75/hr for NCL $6.00/hr. (Or unless you are my oldest daughter and you are somehow charged $8.95 for being 5 minutes late from a port because you were actually standing in the line at the kids club to pick up your kid) I also have to say that the phone carrying thing (even though it worked to our advantage by using it to keep in touch with my oldest daughter and her family) it was a burden. It was a true burden to lug this huge thing around and have to charge it constantly. It also had problems a few times when it died and then it wouldn’t turn back on after charging. I had to take it to the kids club to get them to get it back on. It was a complete mess. NCL doesn’t have you carry phones, unless there’s a problem, they simply have you tell them where you’ll be and if they can’t find you, they’ll announce your name on the speaker. Easy peasy. They staff at NCL has been amazing. Some more than others. They post the counselors qualifications and their numerous degrees they have relating to child development and child psychology. That’s how amazing these people are watching your children. I wonder if Carnival even has a qualification guideline for hiring counselors. Do any of these people have a degree in child care? Or are they just people off the streets that applied for the job? I really wonder. Either way F--- Carnival. A+++ NCL
On board photography- What a cluster flark Carnival. You made me waste hours upon hours finding multiple pictures only for you to move them, separate them, box them up and your system of face recognition didn’t work. NCL has their crap together and I have never had a problem with them. They also did the worse job of capturing pictures…eyes shut non-stop. What was the problem here? We have never had this problem with NCL. Maybe you should take 2 shots really fast to ensure you get a good one. Sorry Carnival F- NCL A+
No comparison here because something NCL doesn’t have is the Kiosk that Carnival had. An awesome idea, no staff needed for it, cut down lines at the service desk and even printed up a room receipt for you. You could deposit money on to your account. Simply well thought out Carnival. A+
Another good thing about Carnival that NCL doesn’t have-the tendering process in Belize. After picking up your number for your tender, they had a room for you to wait in and they were playing funny videos/bloopers on the big screen tv. It not only made the time go by fast, but had everyone laughing. GREAT idea Carnival. A+
Soda Carry-On-Sorry Carnival this sucked. Having to 1) go out and buy a bag with wheels especially for this occasion and 2) having to lug around this suitcase until your rooms were ready…well it sucked. NCL lets you put your soda in a luggage to be checked in (in some ports) and in other ports they allow you to simply slap a room tag on the outside of the soda case. Carnival F- NCL A+
The cleanliness of the ship- I do know that they kept the Carnival ship clean however, it must have been magic because we hardly ever seen anyone cleaning like you do on NCL. Every single time we have been on NCL, they are painting some outside part of the ship, they are cleaning the windows, and they are staining the handrails on deck. You cannot move from your seat more than 1 minute before they are clearing your stuff away. They are on it like hawks! Very seldom did I see the staff on Carnival cleaning anything, but as I said, it was clean…so it must have been magic. I did witness a lady cleaning the “balls” all over the glass in the atrium on the floors, but it was late at night. I wonder if that’s when they do most of their cleaning and that’s why I didn’t see it?? I can tell you that they did leave plates and cups around on the deck for long periods of time. They were not a hawk like NCL was if you left. Also, I swear the people in the room next to us never ever left the room. They had dishes outside of their door morning, noon, and night. It would always take the room steward awhile to get these cleared away. Sometimes they would sit out there all day. So I think the cleanliness of the ship was = or maybe a little better by NCL, but NCL wins by a mile on keeping anything on the table there for any length of time. Everything is always spick and span clean instantly. You can lay a cup in a place you would think “psh, they’ll never see or find this” and I guarantee it would be gone in 5 minutes after hiding it.
The pool area big screen tv-while the only ship that NCL had with a big screen tv out by the pool area was on the Epic, I found this to be awesome with the Dream. They played movies every night for entertainment. What a great thing. The Epic did the same, although it was in the adults only area, so I’m not sure if they allowed children in there at night or what. Just thought I would mention this.
The cruise director- Jamie Dee on Carnival is simply AMAZING. She was always around and easy to be found. She was involved at every show; she was involved at every party. She was on stage pumping the crowd up, she was showing us dance moves. When there was a show at night, we caught her behind the curtain doing the dance moves with the dancers. You could tell she was having a good time, you could tell she truly loves her job! Excellent choice for a cruise director Carnival. A+
Just an extra added touch for Carnival: They went around the MDR and handed out pink carnations to all the mothers on Mothers Day. Then they had someone else handing out the pink carnations up on the decks and around the ship as well. What a nice added touch Carnival. A+ Also small little “cute” things were the way they folded the toilet paper not only in your room but in the public restrooms. I’m not sure if it’s a Carnival wide thing, or they just had a staff member that liked to do this. It’s not a make or break thing in a cruise, but it just showed that they were “going the extra mile” on Carnival. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter, ya know?
So to wrap things up…will I sail Carnival again? You bet I will (but I’m sure you could already tell that by my review). On my to-do list: Magic and Breeze (and I’m going to check out Sunshine as well since I hear it’s the newest redo ship with all the bells and whistles). Will I try some of the older or smaller ships? Nope, I sure won’t. I like the bigger and most updated ships that Carnival has to offer. I will stick to those. I mean after all, there are too many other ships I have on my to-do list that I’ll need to fit in my schedule as well.
I hope you enjoyed my review. I know I missed a lot of things, but I welcome every comment or question you might have. I’ll be happy to answer anything that I can. I have read everyone’s comments and I appreciate them (even if I wasn’t able to comment to each one of them, I read them all…I think). I was just very limited on time with this review. I really wish I could have put more in to it, but with my hectic school and work schedule, it just doesn’t permit me enough time.
Thanks so much for sticking with me and being patient during my postings. <3 Kim