Seasoned cruiser takes on Carnival.

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King of Prussia
1,044 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Let me start by saying I am not a good writer not a story teller. But being that I came on CC to read reviews, get tips and hear about cruises, I thought it was only fair that I contribute a review. Here goes:

We have sailed on numerous ships and lines over the years. In this review I feel as though it is best to just compare this past cruise with our previous 2 cruises. We have noticed that all of the lines have made cut backs over the years and the product offered by (insert cruise line) now is not the same product they offered years ago. About 8 months ago we cruised Royals Freedom of the Seas, and 8 months or so before that we sailed on the Crown Princess. Years ago, Royal Caribbean was our favorite line, and recently Princess. Question is, will Carnival out shine out most recent cruises??
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Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.
Western New York State
1,791 Posts
Joined Nov 2010
Can't wait to hear more!
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Upcoming: Carnival Dream 2/4/2018
Carnival Pride 02/26/17
Carnival Sunshine 11/11/16
Carnival Liberty 4/26/15
Disney Wonder 12/3/14
Carnival Breeze 1/18/14
Carnival Liberty 10/13/12
Carnival Legend 11/27/11
Carnival Triumph 2/21/11
King of Prussia
1,044 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
6 months ago we booked the Dream western sailing for June 9th 2012. We have always been fearful of booking a Carnival cruise do to what we had perceived to be nothing more then a drunk, glitzy barge at best. Completely unfair to categorize and write-off something that we had never tried.

I picked the Dream as I liked the itinerary. Had a few islands I enjoyed in the past and a new port for us (Belize). Also, the ship didn't look to blinged blinged out.

We flew in the day before, rented a car, stayed in Orlando and Saturday drove to the port. Dropped off luggage, returned car, took the shuttle to the pier about 10:15am, checked in 10:20am, first step on the Dream 10:30am. WOW, that was fast, easy and thankfully no hiccups.

NEXT UP, Impressions of the ship.
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Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.
Scarborough ON Canada
3,928 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
I'm also interested in what you have to say. I've cruised both Disney and Carnival and I find more similarities than differences.

I wouldn't mind trying RCCL and Celebrity in the future.
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Patricia (Trisha to my friends and family)
Past Cruises:
Magic 10-30-2010 (7 nights) - FirstCruise Ever!
Dream 10-30-2011 (4 nights) - first halfof B2B on DCL
Dream 11-03-2011 (3 nights) - secondhalf of B2B on DCL
Magic 4-30-2012 (4 nights)
Fantasy 10-26-2013 (7 Nights) -Halloween on the High Seas
Magic 11-15-2015 - (5 nights)
Dream 3-12-2011 (7 nights) - First half of Jenna's Birthday cruises
Dream 3-19-2011 (7 nights) - Second half of Jenna's Birthday cruises
Miracle 8-26-2011 (8 nights) - PlayersClub VIP Cruise
Dream 10-27-2012 (6 nights)
Pride 03-15-2015 - (14 Night) Tampa to Baltimore Repo cruise
Pride 01-17-2016 & 01-28-2016 (21nights) B2B Baltimore to San Juan to Baltimore
Pride 07-10-2016 (7 nights) Free casino cruise
Pride 08-21-2016 (7 nights) Family trip with brother, SIL, Niece, 2 x Nephews, plus my parents - oh boy!
Sunshine 05-29-2017 (5 nights) Just because I've always wanted to try the Sunshine
Explorer of the Seas 2-24-2013 (9Nights) - first time on RCCL
Explorer of the Seas 2-23-2014 (7nights) - a cheap getaway from a terrible winter
Navigator of the Sea 11-10-2015 - (4nights)
Freedom of the Seas 02-12-2017 (6nights)
Summit 06-01-2014 (7 Nights) - my 40thbirthday cruise
Equinox 11-21-2014 (10 Nights) - mydad's 66th birthday cruise
Summit 08-30-3015 (7 nights)
Summit 02-18-2017 (9 nights)

Future Cruises:
Caribbean Princess 11-20-2017 (10 nights) Partial Panama Canal in a Window Suite!
Carnival Pride 07-01-2018 (14 nights) Another Journey Cruise!

Adventure of the Seas 05-18-2018 (7 nights) A Cheap getaway
Caribbean Princess 11-25-2018 (14 nights) Circle Caribbean
Caribbean Princess 12-10-2018 (10 nights) Partial Panama Canal
Carnival Sunshine 01-12-2019 (13 nights) Journey Cruise
North of NYC
2,126 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Always nice to see a new review, as well as a new reviewer. Enjoying your style so far - keep it coming
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RCCL Anthem OTS 7/15/17 CL- 5 Nights- Bermuda gonna stick w/ NCL
NCL Breakaway 7/20/14 NYC- 7 Nights- Bermuda - favorite cruise
CCL Miracle 7/2012 NYC- 8 Nights -San Juan, St. Thomas, Grand Turk
CCL Miracle 7/2010 NYC- 8 Nights -San Juan, St. Thomas, Grand Turk
King of Prussia
1,044 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Pulling up to the port I must say that the Dream was very appealing to the eye. She looked nicer then FOS and Crown Princess from the exterior. We first stepped off the gang plank into the atrium. Yes, she is a little more glitzy then FOS/CP (Freedom of the seas and Crown Princess). However, we liked the size of the atrium. FOS, way to big, no sea views and felt like a mall. CP, a little to small. It is nice to have an atrium that extends all the way up. I also liked the section where the singers would set up and play. They also had a DJ there when we first got on. We found ourselves sitting there threw out the cruise to listen to entertainers and people watch.
Atrium winner is the Dream.

The buffet area was rather large. Spread out with interesting options. I will comment later on food. But the lay out seemed to work better then FOS and certainly worked better then CP. On CP the buffet area was very tight and awkward to get in and out easily. Down fall to the Dream, if you wanted just one item, I felt necessary to go threw the entire line to get what you want. But even though at times this was inconvenient it seemed to work better then having different stations scattered about and feeling like a free for all. Its important to mention that what I experienced could be different then others. Timing could play a big part in one's experience. We never waited more then 2-3 minutes before getting to the plates at the start of the buffet. Never had any issues with finding a table.
Buffet winner. Dream tied with FOS.

We sailed in a cove cabin. All I can say is WOW. We loved it!! Cabin felt bigger then our previous balcony cabins and we loved being sheltered by the life boats. And being so close to the water was amazing. I never spent so much time on a balcony before. Had morning coffee along with lox and bagels almost every morning. In the evening I enjoyed a glass of wine along with some cheese, sliced meats and bread that I would snag from the buffet before getting ready for late seating. Even spent time on the balcony after my afternoon naps. Yes, I take naps on vacation. One way I recharge my batteries. Cabin was very clean, everything in working order. Very little noise from above.\
Cabin winner. Dream.

Exterior decks. We enjoyed many aspects of the outside decks. Loved the Adults only area. No charge where Princess charged a premium. Pool deck seemed crowded, but they all do on all ships. We do not spend anytime in that area on any ship. Loved the Lani deck. Great place to lay out, take a dip in the whirlpool if you enjoy those things. Also liked that you could walk around the entire ship on that deck. On the CP we didn't like how the pool decks seemed to be chopped up, didn't seem to have a good flow.
Exterior decks winner. Dream.

The over all lay out of the Dream was pretty good. A few places that seemed to be chopped up a bit. Nothing major. We hated the mall feel of FOS and the non ocean view from public areas. On the Dream I did get to see the ocean from time to time in the public areas. CP had the best decorating in my opinion. More appealing to the eyes. I guess for the overall lay out the winner would be CP tied with Dream.

I was surprised to see how much crew there was cleaning, painting, fixing and the like on the Dream. On FOS/CP we noticed a cut back in this regard. Mirrors were reflective, metals gleaming, woods were recently varnished. Some wear in spots, but all were issues that would need a dry dock to fix such as carpets and the like. Dream was the winner here.

Overall, The Dream is a grand ship. YES, she is large but she does still have a small ship feel in some areas in comparison to FOS.

Dream in the lead.

NEXT up: Food.
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Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.
6,139 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
I have to disagree that you aren't a good're doing great! Can't wait for the next installment!
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Previous Cruises
Norwegian Getaway - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean
Norwegian Epic - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 4/6/13
Celebrity Summit - 7 Day Southern Caribbean 12/1/12
Carnival Liberty - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 5/12/12
Norwegian Epic - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 12/31/11
Carnival Legend - 7 Day Western Caribbean 9/4/11
Norwegian Epic - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 4/9/11
Carnival Glory - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 5/9/10
Mariner of the Seas - 7 Day Mexican Riviera 11/1/09
Carnival Freedom - 6 Day Western Caribbean 4/19/09 - Platinum!
Carnival Inspiration - 5 Day Western Caribbean 11/3/08
Carnival Inspiration - 4 Day Western Caribbean 10/30/08
Carnival Valor - 7 Day Western Caribbean 4/13/08
Carnival Valor - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 10/21/07
Carnival Imagination - 4 Day Western Caribbean 5/3/07
Carnival Miracle - 7 Day Western Caribbean 12/3/06
Carnival Fantasy - 4 Day Bahamas 9/22/02
Celebration - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 3/9/96
Carnival Imagination - 7 Day Eastern Caribbean 7/1/95
Southern Ontario, Canada
6,189 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Thank you for writing your comparison reivew!!
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Next up Carnival Sunshine 02/2018

Victory x3
Valor x2
Miracle x2
Legend x2
Triumph x2


Stone Mountain GA
9,518 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
I don't usually read reviews on ships that I haven't sailed, not about to just sail on, or have no plans to ever sail on, buy you've grabbed my attention. Keep it up!
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Past Cruises
Cunard-Queen Mary 1961 NY to Cherbourg
Cunard-Queen Elizabeth 1963 Cherbourg to NY
MWA- Heritage 8/05, 8/06
Carnival- Sensation-10/08
Carnival- Legend 01/10, 9/12, 9/16
Carnival- Fascination 12/10,11/11,10/13,11/14, 9/15
Carnival- Elation 1/14, 1/16

I will try one thing today,
that I have never done before,
and when I have finished something new,
I'll go try one thing more.

"Hurray for ships!.....Let us keep them alive as a token of love,to make the last romantics happy. Let us use them to cure the depressed. Let us prescribe sea journeys..." Tiziano Terzani

America-It doesn't matter what ship our ancestors came here on, we're all in the same boat now.

King of Prussia
1,044 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Food, as we all know, is very subjective. Also picking the correct dish can make or break a meal. I do not go on a cruise expecting a fine dining experience. I go with the expectation of being served banquet style food.

Buffet options on the Dream were plentiful. Never made it to the pasta bar or burrito bar, but it was nice to know that if all else failed we had those options as backup.

For us breakfast was juice, coffee, bagels and lox on the balcony. When we did venture up to the buffet for breakfast we ordered omelets from the omelet station. Never waited more then a few minutes in line. The Coffee beats FOS/CP by leaps and bounds. No, it isn't great. More on the lines of diner coffee. CP had the worst with FOS not being much better. Fist cruise where I didn't miss having coffee at home. The OJ concentrate was pretty good.

For lunch we never made it to the dining room. Several days they had a bbq on lani deck but it really wasn't that good. The grill served the best burgers at sea. Far better then the patties that are usually found in a metal pan in the buffet line. Fresh off the grill and juicy. Fries again were very good. Not soggy. The deli had sandwiches made to order. I enjoyed the Pastrami and corned beef combo. Certainly not as good as a NYC deli, but for a ship they were very tasty. Tried the Indian food. Never really ate Indian food so have nothing to compare it to. But I will say I tried it once and have no plans on trying it again. The main buffet line had numerous options and always found something that I enjoyed. FOS/CP sometimes couldn't find anything that I enjoyed and didn't have the grill or Deli as a fall back option.

Dinner Buffet, from what I saw they pretty much offered the some of the same options that were being served in the dining room.

Also thought the pizza on the Dream was far better then other pizzas on other ships. Again, major cities will have better pizza, but for a ship is was very good.

Dining room food was pretty good. Banquet quality but better then FOS and probably a tie with CP. Somethings were better on CP, but somethings better on the Dream. The desserts were VERY good. FOS seemed to use gelatin base for most of their sweets, where the Dream had actual flour based desserts. The creme brulee was great and the melting cake was great too.

I also enjoyed the sushi found on the Lani deck. This is one place that seemed to almost always have a wait of 10-20 minutes. Perhaps my timing was off, but several times I passed on the sushi do not wanting to wait. However, the sushi was good. Certainly not great, but not bad either.

We loved that the Dream had many options for food. Plenty of good basic backup food if there wasn't something that caught our eye. All for no extra charge.

Dream is the winner once again.

NEXT UP: crew. (Wife needs to feed her FB addiction so will be back later)

Thanks for the support everyone!!
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Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.
Fla Treasure Coast
804 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Great start to what sounds like a good time
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Mike and Carol
Cruising Since 1981
Latinum Members on Federation Cruise Lines

2017 Cruises:
January - Norwegian Pearl
November - Crown Princess
2018 Cruises:
February - Independence of the Seas
November - Celebrity Infinity
Durham, NC
12,046 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
I hope you also post this on the RCI and Princess boards, although it might not be as well received there. You know how loyalists are!

May I ask where you stayed in Port Canaveral? We stayed at the Radisson last time, but since I'm going early (solo on leg 1 of my B2B), I'm thinking about getting a room closer to the beach.

I'm not particularly interested in the Dream. I'm just not into the bigger, newer ships. But you're certainly making her sound appealing! And I really would love to try a cove balcony!
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Carnival: 8/30/17 Ecstasy; 10/30/16 Splendor; 5/1/16 Vista Inaugural (Milestone); 11/28/15 Sunshine Journeys; 10/23/15 Splendor; 5/31/15 Conquest; 11/29/14 Freedom; 11/1/14 Splendor; 5/4/14 Pride; 11/16/13 Conquest; 9/1/13 Fantasy; 5/3/13 Fantasy; 10/22/12 & 10/27/12 B2B Fantasy; 11/26/11 Fascination; 10/16/11 Glory; 5/23/10 Fantasy; 12/14/09 Miracle (Platinum!); 10/24/09 Triumph (CTN); 5/17/09 Victory; 12/13/08 Fascination; 5/17/08 Glory; 12/17/07 Miracle; 12/18/06 Elation; 05/13/06 Fantasy; 06/20/04 Fantasy; 04/16/01 Jubilee
HAL: 1/5/17 Zuiderdam; 11/21/10 Zaandam
Royal Caribbean: 04/19/03 Nordic Empress
Batavia, IL
3,183 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Great job so far!

Tell your wife to hurry up!
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"Ron Rico, Boss. You can call me Captain Ron..."

***Click on the map to go to the Roll Call!***

NCL Star 11/2015
NCL Epic 4/2014
My Celebrity Summit 12/7/2013 Review
My Carnival Breeze 12/8/2012 Review
Carnival Imagination 12/2012
My Carnival Valor 4/19/2009 Review
King of Prussia
1,044 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
I do realize that it is probably not good to categorize an entire department do to our first hand experience with just several crew members. But I will comment on those who served and assisted us during the cruise.

Cabin steward:

This was the first cruise where I didn't meet the cabin Steward the first day. Could of been timing. At first I was a little put off by this. Crazy I know. I was use to meeting the cabin steward and exchanging small talk during the cruise. We didn't meet our Steward until the 3rd day of the cruise. When we did run into him he immediately introduced himself and greeted us by name. He was very charming but not intrusive in the least. I actually enjoyed not having to engage in small talk. Certainly not because I feel superior or anything of the was just nice not having the pressure to engage in a discussion. He did an great job. Cabin was clean and fresh ice was replenished twice a day. Towel animals and chocolates every night. We did have an issue with the “commode” not fully flushing one day and one call, 10 minutes later problem resolved.
Winner for Cabin Steward Tie between CP and Dream.

Dining room staff:

As many are aware, Carnival has gone to the 1 waiter 2 assistants system. Our waiter was very frustrated with the system. He explained to us how he was not allowed to go back into the kitchen to retrieve our meals and how this was left to the assistants. The service was slower then FOS but about the same pace with CP. We had late seating and were out of the dining room by 9:30. Our waiter had a large table that he referred to as the “drama table”. Seemed as though they would order numerous dishes during the meal making it hard for him to keep a good pace going. When we were leaving the dining room the other tables were just getting their main dishes. We went into the dining room knowing what we were ordering. Wife drinks tea and after the first night the tea was served with in moments of sitting down. I ordered the cheese plate the first night before dinner and every night following, the cheese platter was brought to the table with the wife’s tea. The only reason we were able to get out as quick as we did, was we went in with a plan. Dining room staff was friendly and attentive, just not fully adjusted to the new system. Maitra’d was seen every night talking on his phone walking threw the dining room. I was a bit put off by this. Wasn’t horrible, just found it unprofessional.
Winner: FOS just because the staff seemed more acclimated to the system.

Bar service staff:

Always out and about. Easy to get a drink, pretty fast service and not pushy. FOS they PUSHED the drinks far more then the Dream. My only complaint, not even a complaint, but when ordering a drink in punch liners, the bar server would take a lot of orders and left you waiting as much as 20 minutes for a drink. Not a huge issue, but noticeable.
Winner: Dream tied with CP.

Overall the staff we met were very polite and attentive.

Winner for best overall staff: Dream once again.

NEXT up: Entertainment
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Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.
1,450 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
What a fair & balanced review and you seem like the kind of easy going guy we'd like to cruise with I do agree with your assessment of the "waiter and two assistants" being a problem. On our Magic Med cruise, we got quite an earful from one of the assistants on how much they disliked it. It does seem to jam things up!

Thanks so much for your review! Can't wait to hear about "entertainment"
Fort Worth, TX
23,715 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
Wow...amazing and fair review......and I agree with the poster have some great writing skills
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Randy & Carmen

Destiny-5/00, Victory-3/01, Pride-6/02,Celebration-11/02,Conquest-3/03,Glory-9/03,RCI Mariner-1/04, Triumph-3/04, Elation-5/04,Sensation-10/04, Miracle-2/05, Rhapsody-8/05,Valor-10/05, Grand Princess-1/06,Liberty-4/06,Conquest-10/06, Fantasy-1/07, Legend-3/07, Liberty-10/07, Freedom 1/08, Freedom 3/08,Destiny 10/08, Destiny 11/08 ,Splendor 4/09,Dream 4/10,Conquest 8/10, Fantasy 1/11, Conquest 8/11, Magic 12/11, Magic 8/12, Breeze 1/13 , Sunshine 1/14, Magic 11/14, Valor 9/17
Ontario, CA (The one WITH the Palm Trees!)
22,814 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Enjoying the review.

FYI-- Carnival does change carpeting during cruises. One Splendor cruise they were changing the carpeting in the cabin hallways. On the Inspiration they were changing cabin carpeting. We were dodging furniture in the hallways during that cruise.
King of Prussia
1,044 Posts
Joined Jan 2012

I will start off by saying we stopped long ago going to the main shows. They just aren’t our cup of tea. We enjoy going to a lounge and listing to a musician or the like. The singers that performed in the atrium were a little disappointing on the Dream. I was actually a bit disappointed in their singing skills. However, we did discover a performer by the name of Thomas Anderson. He played the guitar and performed music he wrote along with music from kings of Leon, Journey and Louise Armstrong to name a few. He was excellent. Amazing talent with a unique voice and persona. Probably the best Solo performer I had the pleasure to listen to on the high seas. I was able to snag 4 of his CD’s. He gave them to me, but I would never feel comfortable taking so I made sure on the last night to give him a note of gratitude along with some cash to cover his expenses. He wrote and performed a song called “Is This Love” that was used in the TV show called Army Wives. Can be found here on you tube
Winner DREAM thanks to Thomas Anderson.


Awesome. We probably saw 80% of the shows performed here. First 2 days they had 5 shows a night, 2 comedians. Last 2 days, 2 more comedians performing 5 shows a night. Both performing several family shows and several adult shows. We really enjoyed all the performances and blew away any comedy we have heard on any ship. CP did have several comedians that did several shows, but not nearly as many as found on the Dream. The MC was “Jeff the Fun Dude”. He tried hard. He was good at clearing out the show room and making sure everyone left the lounge to re-enter at the back of the incoming line so everyone had a chance to see the next show.

Winner in the comedy department, Do I even need to say.

Cruise director.

Corey did a good job. Hard for me to really comment or compare him to other cruise directors as we really do not attend events where they are found. I do remember the CD on Princess was pretty funny and entertaining. He stands out in my mind, so I would probably give the nod to CP.

Water works looked to be great fun for the young and young at heart. I do not swim in pools so I did not partake. But it certainly was used a lot and occupied people for hours on end. FOS had the rock wall and the flowrider. I did enjoy both of these items. Unfortunately they were open with very limited hours and long waits. It probably only gave me 30 minutes of actual “play time”. Winner would be FOS. Had I been a pool person I am sure it would have been a Dream win as it seems you would get more bang for the buck.
Piano bar looked fun, but there was always something else I wanted to be doing. Stopped and listened a few times on may threw. Really would of liked to of spent some time in this bar/lounge.

This is the first cruise where I left feeling as though there was more thing I wish I had the time to do enjoy.

Winner once again……..DREAM

So far……..Dream…….. “winning”

UP NEXT ports.
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Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.
Indiana, US
2,878 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
Love the comparisons. We loved the Dream. I had forgotten all about Jeff, "The fun Dude". He was great, but could get annoying at time. I think it was early in his contract, and he was trying hard to impress someone with his management skill.
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Majesty of the Seas-RCCL -9/1998-7 days
Fantasy-Carnival- 6/1999-4 days
Westerdam -Holland America-11/2001-8 days
Jubilee -Carnival-6/2002-5 days
Holiday -Carnival-11/2002-5 days
Inspiration-Carnival- 10/2003-7 days
Zenith-Celebrity- 11/2004-14 days
Conquest-Carnival- 10/2005-7 days
Holiday-Carnival- 6/2008-5 days
Conquest-Carnival- 9/20/2009-7 days
Conquest-Carnival-9/27/2009- 7 days
Conquest-Carnival-9/26/2010-7 days
Miracle- Carnival-11/11/2010-8 days
Dream-Carnival-04/23/2011-7 days
Conquest- Carnival-10/30/2011-7 days
Estasy- Carnival-5/12/2012-5 days
Magic- Carnival-9/16/2012-7 days
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Magic- Carnival-10/20/2013-7 days
Magic Carnival 10/27/2013-7 days

When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!