Overall Rating: Excellent
|Destination:||Caribbean - Western|
|Departed From:||Port Canaveral|
|# of Nights:||7 Nights|
I was invited last January to sail on a Seminar at Sea for travel agents, aboard Carnival Dream. I had not sailed on Carnival in about 5 years and I had never sailed on one of the three new Carnival ships, the Dream, Magic, or Breeze. So I opted in. A seminar at sea is not free, but he rates are significantly reduced for the seminar participants, perhaps about 50% or so. We attend classes half a day on each of the two sea days and are encouraged to just experience everything.
We used the Carnival transfers from Orlando, which begin at 10am, but the first buses didn't leave until about 10:30am. At the terminal in Port Canavarel we were able to use the Platinum/Diamond line and be ushered rapidly through security and check-in, and onto the ship by 11:30. Our cabins were ready. By being so early we were able to tour everything, get acclimated, and take photos before it was crowded. We noted that they were having a casino tournament this sailing, and it did keep the casino full and active all week. We were hosted by Carnival to a reception/cocktail/appetizer session for an hour in the evening. What we found was that ther were two primary places for dancing: the atrium dancefloor where they had two excellent duo's alternating playing all week, and an area in Ocean Plaze area that had a more up-tempo band all week.
The shows had the usual 2 lead singer/performers, and about a dozen really excellent dancer/performers, most form England. They had three really excellent shows during the week. Visibility in the theater is very good, and no pillars blocking sight lines. They had another show with a magician we did not attend, and an "American Idol" type show the last night with passengers who had tried out. The first night was the usual quick performance followed by sales pitch from the cruise director.
I do the cooking at home, so I look forward to traveling where I get to enjoy the food. And it was really good. My wife eats mostly seafood and she was very happy, salmon, tilapia, basa, lobster, shrimp, and more. I enjoyed a petite filet mignon, lobster/shrimp, lamb shanks, chateaubriand, prime rib, a dish with shrimp, scallops, and salmon in a tomato cream sauce over penne pasta....really good. I don't try steaks on ships as they are not usually up to standard. They also offered brunch in the dining room on both sea days. The waiter we had was undoubtedly the best we have ever had in our many cruises. He knew everyone's preferences by the first night, and every dish delivered was hot and fresh. I was really impressed.
This ship does not have Guy Fieri's Burger Joint yet, so that was a minor disappointment, but it does have the Red Frog Rum Bar and the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. The buffet was typical of buffets, but did have Mongolian Wok and a Burrito Bar offering, with dishes made to order. The lines are a bit slow moving, however. The eggs to order stations were plentiful, at least 4 that I saw, and table service in the buffet area was very good. I was impressed with the flavor of the "lido area" coffee, and I drink coffee all day.
Debarkation is smooth, and we had opted to rent a car for the drive back to Orlando as we had a mid-afternoon flight and needed to kill time. We drove to the Cape Canaveral Space Center for a few hours then back to Orlando.
Our ports were Cozumel, Belize, Roatan/Mahogany Bay, and Costa Maya, in that order, all of which I've been to many times. I chose to spend the day doing a site inspection of two new AMR Resorts there, the Secrets Aura and Sunscape Sabor. They were a $14 cab ride from the pier, provided us with a relaxing day after touring them. The Secrets is still a work in progress, and they are adding to both resorts, so construction noise exits. In Belize we had booked with a company we had used several years ago for an excursion to Cay Caulker and reef snorkeling. The heavy rains the previous week resulted in underwater springs that were shooting fresh water over the reef, and it distort the view. Still excellent coral. We then stopped for stingrays and nurse sharks before going ashore for a Belizian lunch. The weather held for us. In Roatan, we had always berthed in Coxen Hole previously, so this was our first time in Mahogany Bay since Carnival developed their own port for their owned cruise lines. For that reason we had planned to just spend the day there. We enjoyed the shopping area and prices were very reasonable. We did use the sky lift to get to the beach, and on the way back we just rode it back and forth a few times. You pay $12 per person for all day use. A nice beach day with plenty of chairs and shade. In Costa Maya we had a short day scheduled and it rained early. We did go right to the taxis outside the port and take the $2 per person ride to Mahajaul, our favorite. We enjoy a place called Tropicante, run by an expatriate American and his wife, and it didn't disappoint. With the weather threatening, we only stayed a few hours. A weather front had moved into the Gulf, and from that point all the way until early the morning of the return to Port Canaveral, there was significant motion in the ocean. I was impressed that the dancers could do so well on the last sea night.
We liked that most all the ship facilities are on decks 4 and 5 and easily accessible. It was the first time we had seen the "Cove" balconies up close. In summary, I was impressed with the new ship class, the exceptional service everywhere we went, and the really good food. I'm glad I sailed on Carnival Dream.