Dream/St Maarten cruise review!! 3/9

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#1
Florida
130 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
So I lurked the whole time I was planning my cruise but never felt the need to post. But since there's a lot of speculation about our cruise, I figured I'd go ahead and do a review. Hopefully people don't think i'm trying to stir up trouble because it's my first post. I think I was pretty fair in my review and I'd be happy to answer any questions!

Although it was a bit more of an adventure than we were expecting, it was truly a wonderful experience! I went in with fairly low expectations as my last cruise was on Oasis of the Seas and I knew that a cruise half the price could not compare. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how wonderful the Dream really was. (No, its no Oasis, but it was great for what it was!)

Embarkation was super easy--we had Faster to the Fun and definitely loved it. Not sure it helped us get on the ship any faster...we got there at 11 and people were already boarding. But it was so nice to be able to drop our bags off in the room and change into our bathing suits as we pleased. We went and explored and when we got back about an hour or 2 later, our luggage was already at our room. Definitely will do FTTF again if I can on our next cruise! Also the special line for guest services definitely saved us hours with the situation on this cruise and guest services lines always being ridiculously long!

We had a spa inside cabin because a couple weeks before the cruise I was looking and was able to upgrade for only $20 from a lido inside! It was awesome!! The room was nothing special but the spa was amazing. The thalaso pool was wonderful after a long day in the sun and the thermal suite was great (although we mostly went in one room there). The tile chairs that look like they would definitely not be comfortable made my back feel unbelievably great. I highly recommend the spa on the dream.

We went to the steak house the first night because we wanted to do it and on the first night you get a free bottle of wine. It was quite possibly the best meal I have ever eaten. Truly worth the $35.

We knew we wanted to do the Cheers program but opted to start it on the second day since we brought on 2 bottles of wine and had the free wine with dinner. Of course we had some funship specials but less than the $50 a person so it was worth it to wait until day 2. Overall, Cheers was great. It was really nice to be able to try drinks and not feel guilty if we didn't want to finish them. We created a spreadsheet to see how much we saved overall and we saved over $200 and that's with us not drinking as much once the issues started on thursday. Carnival actually ended up refunding us $150 of Cheers in the end also so we truly saved even more but we didn't include that since that isn't normal but was definitely a nice surprise!

Seas were really rocky the first couple days--the worst that I'd experience on any of my 6 cruises! But we didn't get sea sickness or anything so it didn't affect us!

Other pros:
-CREW: the crew was amazing. Our cabin stewards, the spa workers, a few specific bartenders, guest services...just amazing. For a couple days our cabin steward told us he only had 2 hours of sleep but was still working his butt off and trying to make us happy. When the elevators werent working he told us he was having to climb 12 floors of stairs to bring us beach towels!! We obviously told him we didnt need new ones until the elevators started working again. He really went above and beyond and I felt bad for him because he was worried about losing out on tips for the canceled cruise so we left him some of our money that we were going to get refunded because he definitely needed it more than i did!

-Comedy club: We saw 3 of the comedians and we laughed the entire time! We did have issues getting drinks while there and once a waiter completely forgot about us so we didn't get a drink the entire show which was a little annoying but nothing to get super upset about. Just wish i had ordered from someone else if I had known our waiter was going to forget about us.

-Serentiy area: We chose to hang out in the serenity area because the furniture was more comfortable there and it was easy to get to from our cabin. We got to know the bartenders and servers there and had an awesome time. Didn't get to go in the hammock because it was full but never had a hard time finding a clam shell or loungers--even always got one in the shade and one in the sun which is what we needed!

-Comedy Brunch: only had it once because of the issues but the food was DELICIOUS and I enjoyed the short comedy pieces. Was sad we didn't have the other two sea days to have the brunch again!

-Pizza was delicious...had it every day. Had some issues with the guy serving it but after the 3rd issue with him, we went to guest services and explained (while also praising the wonderful service we were getting from everyone else) and next time we went back he was making the pizzas not serving them so the rest of the week, the pizza place was awesome.

-Deli and Mongolian were great although long lines at both...didn't stop us though!

-Pasta place was awesome. Went twice and definitely enjoyed both. It was never crowded like I expected either!

-Steakhouse: like I said, awesome. Definitely worth it.

-St. Thomas--we went to the Best Western at Emerald Beach which was perfect. Kind of a long taxi ride bc they dropped people off at other stops on the way but totally worth it. Beautiful beach, not crowded even though there were 5 ships in port! Just wonderful!!

-4 days in St Maarten--uh yeah don't need to say anything more about how beautiful our view was from where we were stuck in st maarten. It was amazing and it was the best place ever to be stuck

Cons:

-Buffet: especially at breakfast it was really bad. Ate there twice and never went back for breakfast. Usually I dont love the breakfast buffet but I dont hate it. This I absolutely hated. Bacon was undercooked and eggs were cold even after they brought out a brand new serving of them.

-Food in the main dining room: Before we got stuck, the food was just alright. It was often just lukewarm and nothing special. I couldnt even eat the lobster on formal night because it smelled disgusting. The steak I had was never cooked correctly and was just bland. HOWEVER, once we got stuck and they were doing everything to make us happy, they got a special menu and clearly got better food and the last two nights dinners were significantly better! Wish it had been that way every night but the food didn't ruin my trip at all. Might just not eat at the dining room every night next time.

-Lack of information: They really did not keep us informed at all the first couple days. The toilets/A/C/elevators were only off for about 6 hours total and it was split up a bit. It was annoying at night because Jamie came on the announcements and said elevators would be shut off for 15 minutes (this was around 9-9:30). Well we left the show we were at around 30-40 minutes later to go to the bathroom and there was a sign saying the bathroom was closed. We stopped at guest services and asked and they said some toilets weren't working but it wasn't all of them. So we werent deterred--our cabin was up 6 decks and on the opposite end so we assumed it would be working. None of the elevators were working nor were the toilets. About an hour or so after that they said there wouldn't be anymore updates until the next day. We started to get a bit concerned but just walked around for a bit to see what was going on. Much to our surprise they still had the mexican buffet going on and people were still chowing down even though the toilets weren't working!! We got a good laugh out of that one. We continued to mull around and talk to a few other people since we couldn't sleep. Everyone joked about how we all assumed there was NO way carnival would let anything like this happen after triumph! Oh well. We went to bed around 12:30 and as we were laying in bed we felt the a/c kick back on and my bf checked and the toilet flushed! We went to sleep assuming we'd wake up at sea the next day.

Didn't get updated again until about 10 the next day. By this point i had a bunch of missed calls of my family freaking out because CNN was saying things were horrible. They told us we'd be flying out so that eased some of my concerns since I was just anxious about the situation but since toilets and elevators and everything was working, I was okay. They told us we had to turn in our flight info and we'd get our new flight info by that night and we could be leaving as early as 6 the next morning. Well we continued to check and check and never got any. Needless to say we had a pretty rough nights sleep waiting to find out if we were flying out at 6 am the next morning plus the announcements started REALLY early that morning getting people out. Finally around 6:30 on Friday they announced not to be worried if we hadn't received flight info so I felt better. Just wish they had done that the night before. We live in Florida and had a ride to the port so we weren't too concerned about that since we just were going to get a direct flight to Orlando and figured they would be fitting us in when they could. Finally around noon on Friday we went to guest services and they gave us our info that we'd be flying out Saturday night. We then relaxed and enjoyed the next day and a half in st maarten.

Overall, Carnival handled everything wonderfully. Yes, we had a day of frustration and anxiety but they refunded us 3 days so we couldn't complain! And we got an extra day of the cruise.

Before the issues, we had pretty much decided we wouldn't cruise carnival again for a while since the experience on Royal Caribbean is truly better for not much more money. However, since we are getting pretty much a free cruise with the refund and 50% of discounts and the wonderful way we were treated, we are going to try this again probably. We are looking at re-booking the dream with our refund and 50% off future cruise mainly because of the spa rooms and the wonderful crew! We'll judge that one and decide if we are going to pay full price again but it really was a great experience AND the way Carnival handled it was great.
#2
Canada
648 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Thank you for taking the time to post your fair and balanced review.
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#3
Kentucky
1,379 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Thanks for taking the time to write a review that is honest and fair. We will be onboard in April, and hope all is well!
#4
826 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by YankeeFan4Ever
Thank you for taking the time to post your fair and balanced review.

Completely agree and would like to add I am glad you took it all in stride and didn't let it ruin your vacation!
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#5
Ontario, Canada
8,231 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Thank you for sharing your story. It's a lot nicer to get information 1st hand than the hyped up news reports. I wonder if the news media know how much they needlessly worry family and friends back home when something like this happens.

The lack of information is one that has been repeated a few times (actually from many mishaps on many cruiselines that I have read about). It's too bad they can't have a better way of insuring guests have all updated information. It would be quite easy to do. If there is power, have up-to-date information posted on their TV station (I think most ships have an information station). If no power have a couple of bulletin boards set up in the main areas of the ship (you know the type they use in board rooms with the flip pages). Then you know if there is nothing new then there is nothing new to report yet. I think all cruiselines could benefit from better communication with their passengers.
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#6
Tallahassee , FL
14,066 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by YankeeFan4Ever
Thank you for taking the time to post your fair and balanced review.

Ah Ha...A Fox News Review

Seriously, thanks Notaworryintheworld. Appreciate a straight up review. Glad you had no real issues in getting back to Orlando. It sux that there wasn't more information shared, but it could well be possible that there wasn't more to share unless you wanted to hear an Italian captain/ Chief Engineer read a technical manual. Travel information though should ahve been a bit more frequent. did they let you off the ship or keep you hanging under a pretext that you might soon depart? Your cabin steward sounded great. Do you remember his/her name? Which spa cabin were in you? DW and SIL are in a spa cabin at the end of April. Maybe they'll ahve the same steward. And kudos for adept handling a poor service sitch with the Pizza guy instead of just grousing.
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#7
Florida
1,167 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Your review of the Dream was informative and seemed fair regarding the issues. We sailed on the Dream in October and found the crew to be very accommodating and working so hard. We will be sailing again on the Dream this Saturday and are looking forward to a fun cruise. Thank you for sharing your experience.
#8
Snohomish, WA
2,440 Posts
Joined May 2006
Glad to hear you had a great cruise.
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#9
The EMPIRE State
24,693 Posts
Joined Jun 2000
This is the first I heard anywhere that the AC wasn't working.

UGH, but I guess makes sense.

Thanks for the first hand info!
#10
Florida
130 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Originally posted by crewsweeper
Ah Ha...A Fox News Review

Seriously, thanks Notaworryintheworld. Appreciate a straight up review. Glad you had no real issues in getting back to Orlando. It sux that there wasn't more information shared, but it could well be possible that there wasn't more to share unless you wanted to hear an Italian captain/ Chief Engineer read a technical manual. Travel information though should ahve been a bit more frequent. did they let you off the ship or keep you hanging under a pretext that you might soon depart? Your cabin steward sounded great. Do you remember his/her name? Which spa cabin were in you? DW and SIL are in a spa cabin at the end of April. Maybe they'll ahve the same steward. And kudos for adept handling a poor service sitch with the Pizza guy instead of just grousing.
We were in 11241. Our cabin stewards were Mel and Roy (well that's what they told us to call them, they had longer full names). Mel was scheduled to go home in 3 weeks so I don't think he'll be there but he said he had been told he might be delayed in going home so you never know! Like I said, they were truly wonderful and always concerned we were having a great time. After some people had left on Friday, they let us go into a balcony room and see how that was and the room was definitely nice, but being so close to the serenity deck I didn't really miss not having a balcony because we always felt semi-private sitting up on the 12th deck in a clam shell and having the bartender right there. Mary, a bartender in the serenity area is AWESOME. She made the best mai tais (she said she used pinapple juice instead of all sour mix or something) and mojitos (she used citrus rum instead of regular or something). Either way, she was great and friendly and I loved her and am hoping she will still be there when we decide to go again.

As far as keeping us on the ship, it was a little confusing. When they announced we'd be flying out, they said we could get off the ship but to keep checking back for our flight information. We didn't want to that day because we had just been at port the past two days and really wanted to relax after a long night before. We planned to get off the next day if we were staying until Saturday or Sunday (thinking we'd know that evening), but since we didn't get our flight info until mid-day Friday and had to call our families and such, we decided to stay on the ship and relax some more and start packing instead.

I tend to be a worrier so I just really wanted our flight info because I was convinced we'd be off the ship and theyd tell us we had to fly out in 4 hours and it would be a mess. But normal people probably had no issues getting off the ship once they announced we'd be staying.
#11
Florida
130 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Originally posted by MrPete
This is the first I heard anywhere that the AC wasn't working.

UGH, but I guess makes sense.

Thanks for the first hand info!
The a/c was working in a lot of the ship...it wasn't in our room for those few hours, but wasn't a huge deal since we had kept it pretty cold after getting in from a hot day so it never got super hot in the room.
#12
WEST VIRGINIA
3,852 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Thanks for sharing with us. CNN did blow it way up.
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#14
Ontario, Canada
8,231 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by Notaworryintheworld
I tend to be a worrier so I just really wanted our flight info because I was convinced we'd be off the ship and theyd tell us we had to fly out in 4 hours and it would be a mess. But normal people probably had no issues getting off the ship once they announced we'd be staying.
Well I'd say you sound pretty "normal" to me. I hate to be left in the dark. Like you it would not ruin all the good time I had. But I too probably would have worried until I had information in my hand.
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#15
Barbados
26,596 Posts
Joined May 2007
Originally posted by BenjiRodney
Thanks for sharing with us. CNN did blow it way up.
Is it just my imagination or is CNN losing credibility, by hyping Just Everything?

.
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#16
WEST VIRGINIA
3,852 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by Aplmac
Is it just my imagination or is CNN losing credibility, by hyping Just Everything?

.
I have just about given up on the news sources. CNN and ABC (owned by Disney) are the worst.
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#18
Ontario, Canada
8,231 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by Aplmac
Is it just my imagination or is CNN losing credibility, by hyping Just Everything?

.
CNN used to be my news channel of choice for any bigger news events. I too find them now over the top.

I understand they now have a lot of competition with internet and many news channels but I find anymore I have no faith in what they broadcast. And it seems when they sink their teeth into something like "Carnival" they are like a dog with a bone and seem to search for any little thing to make mountains out of and always seem to be putting a negative slant on everything instead of just facts.

The OP's situation really is not the first time a ship has been stuck in a port, although usually they seem to get away a day or two later, but CNN had it on the news, probably before most of the passengers knew they were stuck.

I'm very happy the OP came to share, I like to hear it first hand without the need of a microphone trying to get people to put a negative edge on.
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#19
SF Bay Area
2,482 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
-Food in the main dining room: Before we got stuck, the food was just alright. It was often just lukewarm and nothing special. I couldnt even eat the lobster on formal night because it smelled disgusting. The steak I had was never cooked correctly and was just bland. HOWEVER, once we got stuck and they were doing everything to make us happy, they got a special menu and clearly got better food and the last two nights dinners were significantly better! Wish it had been that way every night but the food didn't ruin my trip at all. Might just not eat at the dining room every night next time-

What would be your other choice if not going to the dining room? The steak house is good but I couldn't eat there every night and the lido buffet at night is worse than the lido during the day. Our cruise on the Dream, a couple years ago, was good but only because of the cruise director (Butch) working his ass off making it fun for everyone. We will never cruise the Dream again because we found the food the worse. I believe it is partly due to the size of the ship and having to feed too many people and the lack of quality control or skills from the chef in charge. By your review, it doesn't seem to have changed...yet.

So glad you had such a positive outcome to your cruise. We love St. Maarten and would be totally happy to spend a week, or more, there. Thank you for your review.


#20
Florida
130 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Originally posted by iceleven
-Food in the main dining room: Before we got stuck, the food was just alright. It was often just lukewarm and nothing special. I couldnt even eat the lobster on formal night because it smelled disgusting. The steak I had was never cooked correctly and was just bland. HOWEVER, once we got stuck and they were doing everything to make us happy, they got a special menu and clearly got better food and the last two nights dinners were significantly better! Wish it had been that way every night but the food didn't ruin my trip at all. Might just not eat at the dining room every night next time-

What would be your other choice if not going to the dining room? The steak house is good but I couldn't eat there every night and the lido buffet at night is worse than the lido during the day. Our cruise on the Dream, a couple years ago, was good but only because of the cruise director (Butch) working his ass off making it fun for everyone. We will never cruise the Dream again because we found the food the worse. I believe it is partly due to the size of the ship and having to feed too many people and the lack of quality control or skills from the chef in charge. By your review, it doesn't seem to have changed...yet.

So glad you had such a positive outcome to your cruise. We love St. Maarten and would be totally happy to spend a week, or more, there. Thank you for your review.



Ummm good question! haha. I guess I'd try the buffet or if it's a night like mexican buffet, have a late (or 2nd) lunch and then have that. Or more pizza because I really loved the different pizza options. Or maybe just do the dining room but try other food? I had the burger there one night and it wasn't terrible. I dont know though, food was definitely disappointing.