Carnival Dream Review - Bahamas, Key West

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#1
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
This is my very first review of a cruise so please bare with me as I figure out how to add photos and such.

This was my 2nd ever cruise with my first cruise having been in December on the Elation. I loved it so much we immediately booked another cruise on the Dream over Spring Break. My husband and I are both in education so cruising is only an option for us during school breaks.

First, I would like to thank everyone on this board. I went into my first cruise completely blind (and honestly, not looking forward to it) and this time I wanted to be completely prepared. I learned SO MUCH on here and my cruise was infinitely better because of it. We would have missed out on so much if it wasn't from everyone here. So, THANK YOU!

We got to port around 11 by the time we got into the garage and made our way inside. The lines were quite long and a lot of people were sitting waiting for their turn to board. By the time we made it through the lines everyone was boarding so arrival time was perfect. We got on board and made our way through the atrium. It was actually smaller than I anticipated, I expected something so much larger than the Elation but it was really not much bigger.

We went to grab a bite to eat and then made it to our room. I was so excited to finally see a cove balcony. It was a great room. Of course, we didn't appreciate how amazing the balcony was while docked on the river, we realized just how amazing it was when we woke up the next morning with nothing but the Gulf in site. Beautiful. The room was cool for us every night with the exception of one night, no idea why it was warmer that night. We had no noise issues from above or from being near the elevators. The balcony was so private and always shaded from the lifeboats above. We loved being near the water and hearing the sound of the ocean, you could even hear it with the balcony door closed and I really liked that at night as we fell asleep. The room itself was fine and just as I expected after being on the Elation. Our room steward was amazing, I wish I could remember his name but I can't. He always had ice for us and our room very clean, we left him a nice tip on our last day for all of his help.

More to come.
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12-18-2014 Carnival Elation
04-05-2015 Carnival Dream
06-21-2015 Carnival Dream
12-21-2015 Carnival Elation
05-29-2016 Carnival Dream
06-24-2016 Celebrity Solstice

#4
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
I am not going to review each and every day, I will touch on each of the ports and the ship as a whole.

The ship:

The Dream was a great ship. Again, I can only compare it to the Elation but it certainly had much more to offer. Obviously, it was much larger. It was nice that it had a midship pool and one located at the aft of the ship. The slides were fun, we even went down them a couple of times. The water was actually not cold as I had been told, it was very comfortable.

We spent a LOT of time in the casino. It was huge. Plenty of slots and tables to play. We also enjoyed the casino drawings every night and the Pong drawing they had where people got to try and bounce balls into small bags. The casino host was nice but not as generous as the host on Elation. We earned far more points on the Dream but never got chocolates, wine or a bounce back offer. On the Elation we received chocolates and a bounce back offer. We did earn the Drinks on Us card and were happy to use that.

The Serenity area was nice but it has the really tall plastic railings so it blocks out any breeze you could get up there. Because of that I didn't enjoy laying out up there for very long because it got too hot too quickly for me and this was in April, the temps were only in the low 80s so I can't imagine how hot it must be in August. I will say it was quiet and peaceful. On the very first day some kids got into the hot tub but they must have been told something because we never saw them again. I also liked that they had a bar right there and the bartender there was always very nice and personable, probably because it was a much slower bar so they could take the time to chat.

The Lido was fine, we didn't spend much time there because being Spring Break there were kids all over the place. The huge screen was awesome and the movies they played were all so recent so that was a nice plus. I would have gone out to watch movies at night but the darn casino was always calling my name. We did eat on the tables on Lido once in a while since it was great people watching.

The buffets left a bit to be desired, in my opinion. I had the same issues on Elation so I think it is a Carnival issue. I just didn't find them great and the lines at some, like the Wok, were so long and slow moving. The Tandoori, however, was AMAZING. I love Indian and I ate there almost every day. No one was ever in line there. I hope they don't close it down for lack of interest because it was great and not having to wait was even better. I just wish they had the butter chicken every day because it was amazing but I only saw it on Day 1.

The MDR was great, we ate in both at different points (Crimson for dinner and Scarlett for breakfast/brunch). I think the breakfast/brunch on Carnival is excellent. I love the eggs benedict! The huevos rancheros and the macaroni and cheese was also great. Next time, on sea days, I think I will eat an early breakfast and then go back for more of a brunch at lunch instead of dealing with the buffet. I may also run to the Tandoori but shhh, don't tell anyone.

Other areas we went to were the Burgundy Lounge for comedy, Piano Bar (although didn't get the full experience) and Ocean Plaza. I am sure I am forgetting others but those stick out. My one problem with the Piano Bar was they made the people line up for the comedy club through the Piano Bar. I felt bad for the guy trying to play and sing as all these people stood in line talking and could clearly care less about trying to enjoy the music. There was also a small area on the other side of the comedy club where they did karaoke. We only went in there once, it was incredibly hot and very humid in there. Something was clearly off and we never went back.

Oh, we also spent time in the Encore theater. The shows were amazing compared to the Elation. The live band makes all the difference. The very best of the shows was Dancin in the Streets. Some really amazing acts in that. The last show, which was country themed, was pretty horrible although the fiddle player was very good.

Any questions about places around the ship that I didn't mention? Please ask! No pictures, I didn't take them all over the ship. Sorry!
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12-18-2014 Carnival Elation
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#5
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
Sasha620, we will be on the same cruise in June! We are going back on the Dream for the different itinerary. I see in your signature we are both on the June 21st sailing. How neat!
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06-24-2016 Celebrity Solstice

#6
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
Key West

Our first port stop was at Key West.

We had no real plans and didn't book any excursions. I am kind of an anti-excursion guy because they get so expensive and I feel like we have already spent so much just to be on the cruise and add in gambling and alcohol and I'd prefer to just walk around the ports. That actually worked out really well in Key West, it lends itself very well to a self tour. We got off the boat and followed the map to Duval and just walked up and down Duval.

We had done some research before hand, being a teacher I just had to see the Hemingway House. It was great. My one regret was being in too much of a hurry (I am always paranoid about being late getting back) so I didn't follow a tour guide and I just walked through myself. I got to see everything but I would have learned so much more with a guide. It was definitely worth it though and at only $13 a person it is a cheap thing to do.

We then went and ate at a place called Blue Heaven. Our friend had heard of this and had to try their key lime pie. I wasn't hungry so I just split a piece of pie with my husband. Honestly, I didn't care for it. I am not a big key lime pie person anyway but this pie was 90% merengue and I can't stand the texture of merengue. The others loved it, though. The outside seating was nice and we played a little ping pong, they had a band playing soft music and roosters walking around.

After this our friend had one more key lime stop, the key lime pie company, I think it was called. I got a piece on a stick dipped in chocolate and it was delicious. Much preferred to the other place, probably because of the chocolate. haha

We went into a few shops here and there just to look but mostly we just stopped and took photos of anything that captured our interest. Key West was a really nice place and I wouldn't mind going back there again sometime. I have tons of pictures, I tried to pick a few of my favorites to attach.

Edit: All of the pictures keep failing when I try to attach. I will have to try and upload them to another site and link later.
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#7
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
Now for the bad:

Freeport

I was so excited to wake up and see what I pictured to be the amazing clear waters of the Bahamas with miles and miles of beautiful beaches. Freeport was our first stop in the Bahamas and boy was I disappointed. The port looks like you are at a port you would find around southeast Texas. Refineries of some sort, lots of cranes everywhere. It was not at all what I pictured.

We got off and planned to go to the Grand Lucayan resort and buy a Day Pass. We easily found the taxi and got loaded into a taxi with people going to the same place. The driver was not the friendliest but he seemed to lighten up once we got moving.

The drive there did not change my opinion of Freeport. More refineries and shipyards, tons and tons of rundown and closed hotels, gas stations with bars on every door and window. Not a comforting drive, I would not want to get stuck there at night!

We got to the resort and the driver gave us very good instructions on where to go and where to find the taxi back. You paid and received a ticket which got you a return trip so you only had to pay for the taxi once. That was nice.

We find the entrance to the resort and there is a sign that says they are not selling any more Day Passes. I hoped this was wrong so I asked anyway and was told that no, they were not selling passes that day. We were devastated. We didn't know anywhere else to go! There was free beach access so we went on the beach and just hung out for an hour or so. The beach was beautiful, it was by far the best thing we saw in Freeport but I was really bummed we couldn't use the chairs or access the pools. After an hour or so we just headed back and got back to the ship early and enjoyed the short buffet lines and less crowded boat.

If I had to do it again I would just stay on the boat in Freeport. Actually, I would avoid a Bahamas itinerary altogether but it isn't as if Freeport ruined our cruise, it just felt like a complete waste of a stop.

Hopefully Nassau would be better.
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#8
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
Nassau

After our debacle in Freeport we all decided that we should go to the excursion desk on the boat and find something to schedule through Carnival. We didn't want to risk the same thing happening again. So we go to the desk and they have a packet with all the excursions for Nassau. We flip through and unfortunately nothing at all jumped out at us. None of us wanted to go snorkeling or take a boat ride or tour. There was no option for an all inclusive beach day like you see in Cozumel or other ports. We all wanted to go to Atlantis and they did have a beach day there with lunch but it was $100 just for that. In the end we decided to just take a taxi to Atlantis and look around ourselves and visit their casino.

I think we made the right decision because from what we could see (and I have no idea if we saw the right beach or not) the "beach" at Atlantis is 100% manmade and not in a million years could I justify paying $100 to sit on that beach. Maybe there was another area we totally missed or couldn't see from the free areas, though. The casino was awful. Tight tight tight. Not that I was surprised by that, it is a tourist trap, for sure and they are smart to make the machines tight. It was just disappointing that you couldn't have any fun with your money.

Atlantis was nice though and I wouldn't mind going back there for a vacation where you got to use all of the resort inclusive with the cost of your stay. I assume that is how it works. I would love to see the water park, aquarium, etc. The resort was very clean and beautiful, as well. Oh, our driver that took us there was really great and gave us a neat little tour and was very informative.

Nassau was another short day for us but it was also a lesson learned. On this day I think I became an excursion type of guy. I was too cheap before but going on your own is not always the best options. It worked great in Key West but not so much in the Bahamas. Of course, the problem is that excursions in the Bahamas are just so much more expensive compared to other ports. On my June cruise, we are planning an excursion of some sort (not even necessarily through Carnival) for every stop (and they are MUCH more affordable).

Another neat thing about Nassau was that it was a very popular stop for Cruise ships so we got to see quite a few other ships that day. I will have to go through my pictures and see which ones we saw but there were supposed to be 6 ships in port that day!
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12-18-2014 Carnival Elation
04-05-2015 Carnival Dream
06-21-2015 Carnival Dream
12-21-2015 Carnival Elation
05-29-2016 Carnival Dream
06-24-2016 Celebrity Solstice

#9
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
Well I think that about covers it. I am sure I will think of 10,000 things I want to mention and I will come back and add little replies as I think of them

One person I wanted to mention was Lelanie. I hope I am spelling her name right. She was our server 2 nights in the MDR in the Crimson Room. She was GREAT and by far our favorite. We will be requesting her in June, she said she would still be on then.

If you can think of ANY questions, please ask away. I know my review is nothing compared to the others which are so in-depth but I wanted this to be a quick read and then just take questions. Thanks for reading!
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#10
Gettysburg, PA
2,210 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Thank you for your review.
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#11
North Dakota
376 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Thanks for your review! We've been to Freeport twice now, and took excursions both times. Both great-one was the cooking experience where the cook shared all his rum (yesssssss), the other one was the brewery tour. With the cooking one, it was awesome, and it was on the beach-beautiful beach.

At Nassau, we've mostly just done the day pass at the British Colonial Hilton-they've been awesome every time. Great view of the ships docking also!
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#12
Foothills of the Smokys Tennessee
259 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
We usually try and book through Carnival if it is our first visit to that port - so we can get the lay of the land so to speak.

Freeport is not a great port to do things - we rarely make it past Senor Frogs - that place is great last time I think we spent 4 hours there drinking and dancing and ... lets call it people watching.

Nassau - I concur the British Colonial is great - we normally book some snorkeling through Blue Hole Watersports - Basil and his crew are awesome - limited to 10 people so it is nice and personal - he took us through the marina at Atlantis and pointed out some other interesting places.

Key West - the hop on hop off trolleys are the best followed by a bike rental - we really enjoyed Key West.

We like to try and get back to the ship early on port days because it is so much less crowded - just wish Carnival would keep a few more of the food options open on port days.
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#13
17 Posts
Joined Aug 2014
Thanks for sharing,

If you can please tell what cove # you had. We are going in August and have a cove as well.

thanks,
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#14
New Hampshire
2,256 Posts
Joined Mar 2015
Originally posted by Gary34
If you can please tell what cove # you had.

I would love to know as well! We have a cove on the Dream booked for this Oct.
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My past cruises:

#1: Carnival Dream / 10-25-2015 / 7 days / New Orleans, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel ***Halloween Cruise*** Read my review here
#2: Carnival Conquest / 7-2-2016 / 5 days / Ft Lauderdale, Nassau, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk ***4th of July Cruise***
#3: Carnival Conquest / 7-7-2016 / 4 days / Ft Lauderdale, Nassau, Freeport ***Carnival LIVE w/ Trace Adkins*** Read my B2B review here
#4: Carnival Fascination / 11-6-16 / 7 days / San Juan, St Thomas, Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, St Maarten ***40th Birthday Cruise*** Read my review here
#5: Carnival Legend / 4-30-17 / 8 days / Vancouver, Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Seattle ***Cinco de Mayo in The Last Frontier*** Read my review here

My future cruises:
#6: Carnival Magic / 10-28-17 / 7 days / Port Canaveral, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya ***2nd Halloween Cruise***
#7: Carnival Horizon / 4-22-18 / 7 days / Barcelona, Cagliari, Naples, Rome, Livornio, Marseilles ***Husband's Early 50th Birthday Cruise***
#8: Carnival Conquest / 2-24-19 / 6 days / Ft Lauderdale, Nassau, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Amber Cove ***10th Anniversary Cruise***
#9: Carnival Conquest / 3-2-19 / 8 days / Ft Lauderdale, Princess Cays, Grand Turk, Curacao, Aruba ***2nd B2B on Conquest***
#15
Baton Rouge, LA
980 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
We had cove # 2281 Great room.
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#16
Florida
839 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Where is a good place to have lunch in Key West that is not a lot of $$$

Thanks
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#17
nc
471 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
Originally posted by leedm
Where is a good place to have lunch in Key West that is not a lot of $$$

Thanks
I like Sloppy Joe's on Duval for a sandwich and a beer or if we want a bigger meal we go to El Meson de Pepe. It is a cuban restaurant on Mallory square with great food at a reasonable cost
#18
187 Posts
Joined Aug 2014
Originally posted by BigB0882
Nassau

After our debacle in Freeport we all decided that we should go to the excursion desk on the boat and find something to schedule through Carnival. We didn't want to risk the same thing happening again. So we go to the desk and they have a packet with all the excursions for Nassau. We flip through and unfortunately nothing at all jumped out at us. None of us wanted to go snorkeling or take a boat ride or tour. There was no option for an all inclusive beach day like you see in Cozumel or other ports. We all wanted to go to Atlantis and they did have a beach day there with lunch but it was $100 just for that. In the end we decided to just take a taxi to Atlantis and look around ourselves and visit their casino.

I think we made the right decision because from what we could see (and I have no idea if we saw the right beach or not) the "beach" at Atlantis is 100% manmade and not in a million years could I justify paying $100 to sit on that beach. Maybe there was another area we totally missed or couldn't see from the free areas, though. The casino was awful. Tight tight tight. Not that I was surprised by that, it is a tourist trap, for sure and they are smart to make the machines tight. It was just disappointing that you couldn't have any fun with your money.

Atlantis was nice though and I wouldn't mind going back there for a vacation where you got to use all of the resort inclusive with the cost of your stay. I assume that is how it works. I would love to see the water park, aquarium, etc. The resort was very clean and beautiful, as well. Oh, our driver that took us there was really great and gave us a neat little tour and was very informative.

Nassau was another short day for us but it was also a lesson learned. On this day I think I became an excursion type of guy. I was too cheap before but going on your own is not always the best options. It worked great in Key West but not so much in the Bahamas. Of course, the problem is that excursions in the Bahamas are just so much more expensive compared to other ports. On my June cruise, we are planning an excursion of some sort (not even necessarily through Carnival) for every stop (and they are MUCH more affordable).

Another neat thing about Nassau was that it was a very popular stop for Cruise ships so we got to see quite a few other ships that day. I will have to go through my pictures and see which ones we saw but there were supposed to be 6 ships in port that day!

When in Nassau, we always get a taxi and do a tour of the island. We have never paid over $20 each and the tours last 2.5-3hrs. They each have always taken us out to see Cable Beach and we have been able to watch the progress on the new Baha Mar Resort that just recently opened. They used Conch shells as mulch along the streets!! We have stopped to see where Anna Nicole Smith is buried. Been up to the Queen's Staircase that is absolutely amazing. The view of the port and the cruise ships up there is spectacular. They will take you to Atlantis and allow you to walk around the resort for 30 minutes. We have toured the poor side of
town (so sad) and toured where the dignitaries live. We have been on 7 of these cab tours and learn something new on each tour. Highly recommend. Best 20 bucks you will spend in Nassau. We always do the tour as soon as we disembark. When we return, we go back to the ship, have lunch, change to swimsuits and walk out to Junkanoo Beach. We hit a few shops on the way back to the ship before sail away.


Misslucy01