VERY Belated Dream Cruise Review - With Spa Cabin, Cheers, and Christmas Carols!

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#1
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
I don't know how this slipped my mind until now! I usually try to write a review within days of getting home from my cruise, but here it is six months later...This one may not be as detailed as usual, but there will be many, many photos.

Embarkation Day

My friend "M" and I cruised to Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel on the Dream from New Orleans in December, the week before Christmas. M lost her mother last spring, so we decided that some fun and sun would be a great thing for her to have planned as the holidays approached. She drove from Nashville to my place in Alabama the day before the cruise, and we left not-so-bright and early on the morning of the cruise (it's about 5.5 hours from my house to New Orleans). It felt really weird to be wearing a sweater on the first day of a cruise, but I was excited, even at the ridiculously early hour of the morning!



We arrived in New Orleans a little after noon and started trying to find the Fulton Street garage. We had to circle the block several times before we finally found the entrance! My phone's GPS struggles in New Orleans, apparently. There was a line to get into the garage, but we were soon parked and very happy to see the ship from our car.



As we started unloading our bags, I realized that my carry on had suffered a wardrobe malfunction! I ended up throwing it away after we boarded and buying a cheesy, overpriced "I Cruising" plastic bag on board to carry off at the end of the trip. It wouldn't be a vacation of mine without some misadventure along the way!



Unsure of exactly what time we'd arrive, we had chosen the earliest possible check in time. After getting off the garage's shuttle at the port, we were greeted with a crazy long line outside the terminal building. Luckily, once one of the terminal workers saw our boarding passes, we were escorted past the line and inside to start the check in process. Check in went very smoothly, and boarding had already started, so we very soon found ourselves boarding the ship and officially on vacation. The ship was still very quiet at this hour.



Of course, it's not officially embarkation day until you have a Funship Special in hand!



To be continued...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#2
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Embarkation Day, cont.

Of course, the next item on the agenda was lunch! I love the arugula and mozzarella sandwich from the deli, and I'd never been on a ship with a Tandoori grill, so Indian food and a sandwich it was! Calories don't count on cruises, right?



After lunch, we decided to go check out our cabin. We had splurged on a spa cabin on this cruise. I was a little nervous about staying in an interior cabin for the first time; I'd never stayed in anything without at least a porthole before, and I love waking up with the sun and watching the world go by from a balcony cruise. I discovered on this trip that, while I missed my window/balcony, the interior cabin really wasn't that bad at all. My internal alarm clock still woke me at roughly sunrise every day (much to M's frustration!), and I didn't feel very claustrophobic at all. I'd never seek out an interior cabin again, but, if the price were right, I wouldn't mind traveling in another one. I very much enjoyed the spa access, but I don't know whether I'd spend the money for a spa cabin again vs. just buying a single day pass.







Even though we had purchased Cheers for this trip, we also pre-ordered a case of bottle water to keep in the mini-fridge for convenience sake. Hydration is important, especially when traveling somewhere warm in December!



The Cruise Critic roll call thread for this particular sailing wasn't terribly active, but there was a VERY large and enthusiastic social media group that had dubbed itself the "Carnival Dream Nauti & Nice Crew". We gathered for a meet and greet and magnet swap by the aft pool in the middle of the afternoon. I still have my magnet hanging on my fridge to remind me of the trip.



I loved seeing the ship all decorated for Christmas! I think that mid December is now my favorite time of year to cruise (with early May a close second). The weather - on the actual cruise, at least - was mostly fantastic, the price was excellent, and everything felt very festive and relaxed around the ship. We had made Steakhouse reservations for the first night. As always, it didn't disappoint! The steak house lamb chops are one of my very favorite cruise dishes.

Next up: Two sea days in a row.
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#3
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Day 2: At Sea

I'm a pretty boring person on sea days. I did discover on this day that cruise ships do not cater to early risers. If you wake up around 6:30 am, as I did most days on this trip, your only breakfast option is room service. When you're sharing an interior room with someone who likes to sleep in, this can be a logistical problem. On this first sea day, I wandered the ship for a while in search of food, had no luck, and went back to the room to order a BLT. For the remainder of the mornings, I knew to just go ahead and call room service as soon as I woke up. The servers did an excellent job of slipping in quietly with my food and disappearing just as stealthily after I signed the receipt. Not once did M wake up during my breakfast service!

I also discovered that the spa doesn't open first thing in the morning, either! After breakfast every morning, I would wander up to the thermal suite as soon as the spa opened, claiming one of the tile loungers to bask in the early morning sun and read, then cooling off in the relaxation room before heading down to wake M up to get the rest of the day started. FYI: It takes time for those tiled loungers to get warmed up in the morning. It was quite a shock on the first morning to stretch out on one while it was still cold! Nevertheless, this area was my happy place, for sure, and I'd be interested in buying a spa pass if I couldn't afford a spa balcony the next time I travel on a ship with a Cloud 9 Spa.





After rousing M from her slumbers, I drug her down to the sea day brunch. I love the steak and eggs! By this time, I'd been up for several hours, so second breakfast seemed acceptable. Throughout our sea days, we'd alternate between lounging around the Serenity or Lido Decks and playing trivia, sometimes together and sometimes separately.



A note here about cabin service: The Dream is one of the ships with the infamous "menu" of stateroom services. We wanted to receive twice daily service, an ice bucket, and robes (they weren't in the cabin when we boarded). For the first couple of days, our room was being serviced in the middle of the day, towel animal and all! We didn't even see our steward until the second sea day, when we were finally able to make our preferences known. After that, he was very friendly and attentive, but I spent the beginning of the cruise wondering if our cabin was being serviced by a ghost.

The first sea day was also the first elegant night on the cruise and our first night at our assigned late seating table. By this time, we had befriended some people from our meet and greet group, so we ended up requesting a table that could accommodate our new friends. The dining room manager was kind enough to help us out, and we never met our original table mates, but we had a blast with the group we had made for ourselves.

Next up: More of the same...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#4
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Day 3: (Also) At Sea

More of the same here, so I won't bore you with too many details. On this day, the skies were starting to look gloomy and overcast, which didn't bode well for our first port the next day. It didn't damped my enthusiasm for the Serenity deck, however! I also had a mid-morning massage this day, which was heavenly, followed by a long soak in the thalassotherapy pool.






Day 4: Roatan

As we feared, our day in Roatan did not begin with a shiny, happy greeting from Mother Nature. It was absolutely pouring that morning as we prepared to head out to explore. We had booked a zip lining/monkey park/beach day through the Bananarama resort. This, it turns out, is essentially the same as booking one of the Victor Bodden tours that are so popular on this board. We are never ones to shy from an adventure, so we purchased Carnival ponchos on our way off the ship and headed out to find our driver.







Did I mention my knack for finding misadventure? Well, despite my "be prepared for anything" packing tendencies, I neglected to pack any tennis shoes for this week. Next FYI: flip flops are VERY slippery footwear. We had to hike outside the port area to where all the independent tour vans were waiting, which required navigating a significant downhill, paved area. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, I opted to carry my shoes and walk barefoot down the street for better traction. I was not the only person using this technique, thankfully, and I did manage to stay upright the whole time. We huddled under a small gazebo area while we waited for our driver. Once he finally found us, we were off!

To be continued...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#5
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Roatan, cont.

By the time we reached Victor Bodden's zip line/monkey park facility, the rain had slowed to a light drizzle. Our guide assured us that we would still be able to zip line, and we were provided with gear and instructions. Now, I may have neglected to mention that neither M nor I were particularly excited about the zip line portion of the day. I wanted to snorkel, and M wanted to tour the monkey park, and the only excursion package we could find that included both also included zip lining. We were both pretty apprehensive about the whole ordeal, as you can probably tell from my "I hope I'm not about to die" face!



We climbed our way up to the first zip lining platform, which was a bit of a hike and, again, not easy to do in went flip flops. Pro tip: Definitely wear tennis shoes when planning on hiking through the jungle. At the first platform, I wasn't sure whether I was about to vomit or pass out as I watched the people ahead of me take off. There were two very small children (I'm guessing about 4 or 5) in our group, and they were having the time of their lives. Deciding I couldn't allow myself to be shown up by these tiny kids, I closed my eyes, held my breath, stepped off the first platform...and didn't die! It was actually kind of fun. I did have to hook my flip flops to my harness belt, because dropping them in the jungle would have been very bad. By the third segment of the zip line, I was having a blast! For some reason, I kept spinning around backwards, despite my best efforts, so the landings were always a bit nerve wracking, but the guides did a great job of keeping everyone safe. I'm only 5'1", and I sometimes had to stand on my tiptoes (and once even had to be lifted by the guide, which was embarrassing) to be hooked up and unhooked at each line change, but I'm pretty used to that struggle. Each line got progressively longer. By the end of the day, M and I both agreed that it was a blast and we were glad we had braved the zip line.





After the zip line, a guide showed us through the monkey and bird facility. While I'm not generally a fan of these types of places, the animals all seemed to be relatively content and were well cared for.







To be continued...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#6
40 Posts
Joined Nov 2016
Thank you for the review! We will be on the Dream, out of New Orleans as well, in July. It's our second cruise, our first was on the Elation.
We are so excited!
#7
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Roatan, cont.

Next, we loaded up in the van and headed over to the Bananarama resort. Unfortunately, the weather conditions weren't conducive to snorkeling, and we really didn't have enough time to do that. But we did enjoy an excellent (and affordable, although we had a bit of a heart attack before noticing the currency conversion on the receipt) lunch and some entertainment by a local band on the beach. M swam a little, while I sat and talked with a local man who was leading a different tour. He had spoken with us while we were searching for our guide that morning and came over to check in and make sure were were having a good time. I thought that was very kind and welcoming of him. We ended up chatting for quite a while about the island and the local economy. Those types of interactions are my favorite part about traveling - I learn so much more than those who refuse to speak to "strangers" on a trip. Hopefully, I will get the chance to return to Roatan one day and can spend a full day at Bananarama and enjoy the off shore snorkeling, which is supposed to be quite good.











As we drove back to the port, I couldn't help noticing how very poverty stricken the island of Roatan is. It reminded me quite a bit of St. Kitts in that feature. I very much enjoyed visiting the island, though, and would like to see more of it in the future.It was beautiful.



To be continued...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#8
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by Maggiebobo
Thank you for the review! We will be on the Dream, out of New Orleans as well, in July. It's our second cruise, our first was on the Elation.
We are so excited!
You're welcome! I hope you'll find some useful information here.
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#9
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Roatan, cont.

As you can see, I took A LOT of photos this day (and I'm not even posting all of them!), which is a sure sign that I loved this island. After we returned to the ship, we cleaned up and got dressed for the evening. Then we took some photographs and enjoyed a drink while watching the sunset with one of the members of our meet and greet group. After that, it was time for the Chef's Table! This is always a cruise highlight for me. I didn't love every aspect of this menu, but the pork belly was out of this world!








Day 5: Belize

It was hard to believe that we were past the halfway point of the cruise by this day; it felt like we had just gotten started. In Belize, we had booked the Goff's Caye excursion through Island Marketing. We had enough time before the excursion started to take our time getting down to a tender and then wander around the port for a little bit before looking for our tour operator. The meeting area was a bit chaotic, but we finally loaded up onto our boat and sped off, passing the Dream on our way.





To be continued...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#10
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Belize, cont.

Goff's Caye is a tiny, sandy island surrounded by beautiful blue water. We claimed a picnic table for our items and then got back on the boat to start the snorkeling portion of our day. I have to admit that I'm not a fan of group snorkeling excursions, and this one carried many of the same frustrations. The water was great, and I saw a decent variety of fish and some coral, but I spent most of my time trying to avoid my fellow cruisers. Pro tip: DO NOT KICK while wearing fins; you should gently fan your feet to propel yourself forward and avoid churning up the water or injuring the people around you. It was frustrating for me to try to tune out everyone around me and focus on what I was seeing. M and I had purchased full-face snorkel masks for this trip. We looked a little like space aliens, but I LOVE this mask! I have a sensitive gag reflex and have always struggled with traditional snorkels, but this mask eliminates that problem, and provides a wider field of vision with less fogging. The only trouble I had was teaching myself not to duck my chin down, because that closes a valve at the top of the mask, which keeps out water but also closes off the air supply! You only make that mistake a few times before you learn to keep your head level!













To be continued...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#11
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Belize, cont.







After snorkeling, we purchased lunch from the small restaurant set up on the beach. I had the lobster tails, which were tasty. Our excursion also included some very potent rum punch!





All in all, I enjoyed this excursion, but I probably wouldn't take it again. If/when I next visit Belize, I'd like to take a snorkeling excursion that's smaller and explores more of the reef.

After that night's dinner, we attempted to go to the comedy show, but the line was insane. Instead, we opted for the piano bar, which was okay but not great. Still, it was a fun end to the day.



Up next: Cozumel
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#12
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Day 6: Cozumel

We had been looking forward to returning to Nachi Cocom for three years, since our 2013 Paradise cruise. On our first visit, we had a little TOO much of a good time and vowed not to let that happen again! The weather was much nicer on this visit, and the beach was much more crowded. The service wasn't quite as attentive as on our first visit, but we still enjoyed the beautiful beach, clear water, delicious food, and free flowing drinks. We even had a surprise visit from Santa Claus! Unfortunately, there were a few groups having even more fun than on our first visit, and, at the end of the day, I walked in on some poor girl vomiting in the restroom. Ick. I backed out of there very quickly and decided I could wait until I returned to the ship! Other than that, we had a wonderful day. We did a little shopping on our way back to the ship and called the day a success.













To be continued...
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#13
Central Ohio
2,202 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Thanks for posting! We are on this same itinerary in October and I JUST CAN'T WAIT!!
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2016 - Carnival Sunshine (CA/NE)
2015 - Carnival Paradise
2014 - Carnival Elation
2012 - Carnival Sensation
#14
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Cozumel, cont.




Day 7: One Last Sea Day

I slept in a tiny bit this morning and was able to go down to enjoy the brunch instead of ordering room service first thing. M was still sleeping, so I was seated with a few other groups of people. Most of them were quite friendly, but the two women seated across from me were quite crabby. They sent their food back THREE times and frowned that it was too early for alcohol when I ordered a mimosa. Really, people? Not okay. But I chose to ignore them and focus on enjoying the company of the other diners. I found Serenity to be very crowded and chose a (surprisingly) uninhabited area of the Lido to relax and read on for the morning.



M had arranged, through John Heald, to spread her mother's ashes at sea late on this morning. I didn't go with her for the ceremony, to give her some privacy, but she said that it was quite beautiful and that the officers who accompanied her were very kind and respectful of the occasion.

I wandered down to the ocean side barbecue for lunch. As a born an bred southerner whose father raised hogs, I'm a bit of a barbecue snob and was very unimpressed with this meal. I ended up eating very little of it and grabbing a sandwich at the deli instead.



Late that afternoon, it was time for Christmas carols and "snow" in the atrium. This was a fun, if brief event. I'm a sucker for all things holiday, though.







Sadly, after that, it was time to pack our bags before one final dinner. Cruises always seem to end much too soon! I really think 8-10 days is the perfect length; unfortunately, those itineraries are few and far between at the times of year that I can travel.

Up Next: Two Days in New Orleans
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#15
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by Schoifmom
Thanks for posting! We are on this same itinerary in October and I JUST CAN'T WAIT!!
It's a great itinerary! I hope you have a wonderful trip.
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#16
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Debarkation Day and New Orleans

This is everyone's least favorite day of the cruise. Luckily, though, we had chosen to extend our vacation by spending two nights in New Orleans at The Blake Hotel. M had never visited the city, though this was my third time there. On debarkation morning, we were reminded that it really was December when we woke up to a cold, rainy, 50 degree day. We were in one of the very last groups to leave this ship, which was fine, since we had no real plans for the day. After making our way to our car, we drove to the hotel, where we were thankfully already able to check in. The hotel was in a convenient location, near Jackson Square, and the room was very comfortable. There was some construction/repair work being done during our visit, including in one of the elevator shafts, but we had no problems with the hotel. The Blake Hotel also offers valet parking, which is extremely handy in New Orleans.

We decided to walk around the city a bit and just "wing it" a bit during this portion of our visit. We found a local brewery for lunch, and both the burgers and the beers were great.



After a little more sightseeing, we were getting quite wet and chilled, so we decided to check out the aquarium. It was a fun and interesting way to spend some time, and we were happy to be warm and dry! In addition to being cold and rainy, it was also a very windy day; my Dollar Tree umbrella didn't fare well, but it wasn't the only one to meet a premature demise that day.





I won't include all the photos I took at the aquarium, but I will say that this is definitely a stop worth making if you enjoy these types of places. It was a larger and nicer exhibit than I expected.

As we walked back to the hotel, the rain intensified. We ducked into a convenience store to buy ponchos (because, of course, we hadn't thought to bring our Carnival ones with us), which only marginally blocked some of the rain and wind. That walk was not exactly a highlight of the trip. Live and learn!



Chilled to the bone, we took advantage of Grub Hub and ordered dinner that could be delivered to our hotel room. Yay for modern conveniences! I don't remember which restaurant we ordered from, but I do remember that the food was plentiful and hit the spot.

The next morning, we used Uber to get a ride to the French Quarter and stood in a ridiculously long line to get a table at Cafe Du Monde. Personally, I think beignets taste suspiciously similar to funnel cakes, but a visit there is on every "must do" list for first-time visitors to New Orleans.



We walked around the French Quarter all morning, even running into a couple we had enjoyed talking with every evening at our favorite bar on the ship. I always have to visit the French Market when I'm in New Orleans and buy at least one new pair of earrings from Oscar's booth. I never fail to get compliments when I wear any of the earrings I've purchased from him over the years.

For lunch, we ate at a little diner near the French Market and then, deciding we'd had all the cold weather we cared for that day, we did a Google search for "things to do indoors in New Orleans". We discovered Old New Orleans Rum Distillery and decided to catch another Uber over for their tour. What a great decision this was! The tour guide was knowledgeable and highly entertaining. I highly recommend this place for those who are looking for something slightly off the beaten path in New Orleans.



We walked through Jackson Square before heading back to the hotel for the evening. We ate in the hotel's restaurant for dinner, which was very good and not as overpriced as we expected. The next morning, our vacation was officially over, and we drove back home.

This was a fun trip and the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. I'm already looking to do another cruise in December of this year, although I'll probably stick with an inexpensive 5-night trip out of Mobile and save up for more of a splurge in 2018. I really liked the Dream, although I think the Freedom class is still my favorite size and layout of a Carnival ship of the ones I've experienced so far. M and I did purchase Cheers on this trip and, although we never got crazy or even drunk, we did find that it was more than worth the money, as both of us enjoy frozen drinks, mixed drinks, and wine, which can get expensive when you purchase by the glass. Overall, I highly recommend this ship and itinerary. We had a blast, and I can't wait to get back on the ocean again!

If you have any questions about the ship or anything else associated with this trip, I'll do my best to answer them.
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Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD
#17
SC
1,283 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Enjoyed the review! Thanks for sharing.
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PAST CRUISES
Carnival Sunshine 5/16
Carnival Fascination 3/15
Carnival Dream 4/13
Carnival Fascination 5/12
#18
Largo, FL
546 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Great photo review....thank you so much. Eager to be onboard in October, same itinerary
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HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, April 1987
Costa Riviera, April 1989
HAL Westerdam, April 1992
NCL Norway, March 1993
Celebrity Zenith, April 1994
Celebrity Century, April 1996
HAL Veendam, March 2006
RCI Sovereign of the Seas, August 2007
RCI Sovereign of the Seas, April 2008
Carnival Inspiration, August 2008
Carnival Freedom, July 2010
Carnival Sensation, November 2010
Disney Dream, June 2016
Carnival Dream, October 2017

RCI Serenade of the Seas, November 2018
#19
SC
149 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Hi! Enjoyed your review.

I have a question related to the snorkeling portion of your trip.

I have debated buying one of those full face masks, but have been unsure if it would work for me. I can't stand to get water in my nose/sinuses, and I can't breath out of my mouth (if I can help it... lol). Would you recommend one? If so, can I ask where you got yours?

I'm glad you enjoyed the zip lining. We did the same tour and it was really fun. I didn't enjoy being "caught" by the poor guy at the end of each line. We at least had a mattress type thing to stop us.

Trish
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Carnival Vista - 1/2018
Disney Fantasy - 9/2016
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Carnival Dream - 3/2014
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Carnival Elation- 5/2011
Carnival Dream - 11/2010
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#20
Auburn, AL
300 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by MoreMouse
I have a question related to the snorkeling portion of your trip.

I have debated buying one of those full face masks, but have been unsure if it would work for me. I can't stand to get water in my nose/sinuses, and I can't breath out of my mouth (if I can help it... lol). Would you recommend one? If so, can I ask where you got yours?
I would definitely recommend this style of mask for you. I didn't have any trouble with water getting anywhere near my eyes or nose, although a very little bit did sometimes leak in near my chin. I ordered my mask from Amazon; the brand name is Octobermoon.

Glad you guys enjoyed the review!
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previously Sailed:
Carnival Dream - December 2016 - Mahogany Bay, Belize, & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Elation - May 2016 - Nassau & Freeport - Review
Carnival Liberty - May 2015 - St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten - Review
Carnival Freedom - May 2014 - St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, & Half Moon Cay - Review
Carnival Paradise - August 2013 - Grand Cayman & Cozumel - Review
Carnival Fascination - October 2010 - Half Moon Cay & Nassau

Future Cruises:
TBD