Dream v. Reality? A Mom's Review of 5/24/15 Dream

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#1
118 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
A little bit about our family first. We are a family of four. Me, hubby and two boys 10 and 8. We live in Alabama and are frequent cruisers. This was our sixth cruise as a family and my 13th. My boys (all three of them) are adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers. I'm more of a good book and a glass of wine kinda girl. We also cruised with my parents and my mother's cousin and her husband.

We picked this cruise mostly because it left out of New Orleans which is only about a two hour drive from our home. (Our last two cruises were out of Tampa and 7 hours before and after of driving just wasn't appealing.) It was the the Western Caribbean itinerary of Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Embarkation Day:

We met the 'rents at Cracker Barrel for breakfast and were on the road to the port by 9 am. Through what could only be divine intervention, my little one didn't need to stop to use the bathroom (this announcement generally occurs seconds after passing the "next rest stop for miles"), we drove directly there and arrived there around 11:15. We have cruised out of New Orleans before and I would caution others that you need directions to the port if you are not familiar with the area. The signage on I-10 is terrible. In fact, I-10 in Louisiana is terrible. We made it to the Port without incident and got in line to park. There is only one lane into the garage and two people accepting payment. We paid, parked and were in the terminal. That was the longest part of embarkation. We lugged our luggage to the terminal and went directly through all the lines. We probably got to teh terminal around 11:50. Everything was moving well.

Here's a little side note. We're not smugglers. I'm a nerd. However, we do take what is allowed. We had two bottles of wine and two 12 packs of sodas. We had these packed in a carry-on roller bag. We ordered an outrageously priced bottle of Crown Royal to have in the room. (Being a nerd can get expensive.) We went through security without incident. Once past the metal detectors, a terminal agent announced that anyone with liquids go through another inspection line. Let me tell you, this was serious business. She cut the middle of our two packs of cokes to inspect the cans in the middle. She unwrapped our beach towel "protected" bottles of wine and scanned the labels, the corks and the foil. She even noted that one of my favorite wines has a new label. Since we were good, she let us through. I will point out a flaw in the system. Since we had no visible liquids, there was nothing to prevent us from passing the liquids line and just going directly to check in. If they're going to be that thorough, you would think they'd have thought of that.

Onward! We went to the check in desk and the only line was for Platinum, etc and FTTF. The regular line had no one in it. This is when little man had to go "right now!!" so we only waited for him. Pleasant experience with the gentleman who checked us in. My son and husband have the same first name. This agent noted it and put a sticker on my sons card so they wouldn't be confused. He's the first in all our cruises to do this without us having to ask (lesson learned.) From the time we set foot in the terminal to boarding was approximately 20 minutes. So easy!!!

We went directly to the Lido deck to eat and discovered the Tandoor grill area. Yummy!! The Lido was crowded which was to be expected. We waited a few more minutes until 1:30 and went to the room. We had room 7386 and was pleasantly surprised by the room. It was bigger than I remember other balcony rooms being and had great storage. Although the balcony seemed quite small.

Mom Tip - I'm an over-packer. I'd rather have too much then two little. ALWAYS UNPACK!! Do not try to live out of suitcases. With four people, it would be chaos. I bring a set of hanging shelves for extra shelving, an over the door shoe rack and two laundry bags with hooks. Evening clothes generally get hung up, everything else on the shelves. This was the first time I did not need the hanging shelves and left them in the suitcase. The shoe rack holds not only shoes, but everything from sunscreen to chargers to iPods and headphones. The stuff that would normally clutter up the vanity gets put away and no one loses a flip flop. I definitely recommend it! While we are on vacation, we keep the room as we would keep our home. For two reasons. 1 - I just can't live like a slob!! and 2 - The cabin stewards have enough to do without trying to clean around smelly boy clothes.

We went back to the Lido until time for the muster drill. Best muster ever!! This one was inside the dining room so no standing on top of each other in the sun trying not keep the hair of the person in front of you from blowing into your mouth. (So gross.) We got our luggage a little later than usual -- around 5, so I unpacked while the boys did pool-type things.

We had anytime dining in the Crimson dining room. I like the freedom of eating when I'm hungry and not being held hostage waiting for table mates to show up. We do not cruise to eat. We're not cruising for gourmet meals. (My kids don't get it at home so they don't know what they're missing anyway.) I'm happy with a decent meal and good service. That was what we got.

That night we wandered the ship a bit and turned in. Next up, first of two sea days.
#4
Charleston SC
2,186 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
To be fair....I10 in LA is muuuuuuch better than it used to be. There are only a couple really bad spots these days. (the area around I10,12 and 59 interchange is one of them sadly).
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#5
Atlanta, GA
1,202 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
Following! I was on this same sailing, so it will be fun to relive it through someone else's experiences! Great start!
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Your response is a reflection of your personality. Are you miserable and toxic? Or are you helpful and understanding? Think about it before you press "reply."

Past cruises:
Carnival Conquest - April 1, 2017 - Spring Break!
Carnival Magic - July 23, 2016 - DD birthday cruise
Carnival Paradise - September 24, 2015 - 2nd leg of back-to-back
Carnival Paradise - September 19, 2015 - 1st leg of back-to-back
Carnival Breeze - July 18, 2015 - DD's birthday cruise
Carnival Dream - May 24, 2015 - Grand Finals Slot Tournament Cruise
Carnival Ecstasy - October 24, 2014 - Backstreet Boys Cruise (#4!)
Carnival Ecstasy - October 27, 2014 - Backstreet Boys Recovery Cruise
Carnival Imagination - October 28, 2013 (Back-to-back and BSB recovery cruise)
Carnival Imagination - October 25, 2013 (Backstreet Boys again! DD's favorite cruise!)
Carnival Breeze - August 25, 2013 (DD's platinum cruise!)
Carnival Victory - January 27, 2013 (winter recuperation/rejuvenation/repositioning/my platinum cruise)
Carnival Imagination - July 23, 2012 (DD's 21st birthday cruise)
Carnival Freedom - April 15, 2012 (Spring break R&R with DD)
Carnival Imagination - December 2, 2011 (Backstreet Boys again!)
Carnival Destiny - September 29, 2011 (All-inclusive 40th birthday bash!)
Carnival Imagination - April 11, 2011 (R&R, spring break w/ DD)
Carnival Destiny - Dec 9, 2010 (Backstreet Boys cruise)
Carnival Inspiration - Oct 14, 2010 (girls' weekend getaway!)
Carnival Valor - Feb 27, 2010 (spring break)
Carnival Holiday - Oct 20, 2008 (1st timer - cruised with friends! and discovered my addiction to cruising!)

Future cruises:
Carnival Conquest - August 31, 2017

Did it once and I'll do it again cruises:
Back-to-back cruises
Repositioning cruise

Bucket List cruises:
Alaskan cruise
Panama Canal cruise



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yes, I'm a Carnival Cheerleader too!
#6
1,410 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
We have booked the Dream in Jan from NO to San Juan and back to NO. Please tell me that they have a Guys Burgers! Was on Freedom in Feb and could come back from an excursion and they were open at 4 or 5 o"clock when buffet was closed. Thanks
#7
Louisiana
810 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Thanks! I'm glad to hear the muster drill has improved! Thta's how they do it on Disney and it was the best one ever. lol.

I was not wanting to have my kid outside in the heat thisclose to people waiting and bored after a long drive. (our drive is much longer).

I also over pack, since we're not flying, if it fits, it goes! I'd rather everyone have enough clothes. I typically have the small suitecase with clean clothes.

Do you by chance have any pictures of the waterworks area? I've tried googling, but it's hard to find a certain ship, and be sure.
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Next up, Rebooked while onboard
#8
Plymouth County, MA
1,164 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Following!
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#9
118 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by TruckerDave
To be fair....I10 in LA is muuuuuuch better than it used to be. There are only a couple really bad spots these days. (the area around I10,12 and 59 interchange is one of them sadly).
It is better. But it is still bad. You can literally feel when you cross the Mississippi-Louisiana line.
#10
118 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by aggie1
We have booked the Dream in Jan from NO to San Juan and back to NO. Please tell me that they have a Guys Burgers! Was on Freedom in Feb and could come back from an excursion and they were open at 4 or 5 o"clock when buffet was closed. Thanks
Sorry! There's no Guy's Burgers on the Dream. There is a grill which is open with burgers, hot dogs and fries, etc. It's an outside grill by the main pool.
#11
118 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by Gardeneroflove
Do you by chance have any pictures of the waterworks area? I've tried googling, but it's hard to find a certain ship, and be sure.
I don't have a picture (I'm a total fail at taking pics) but this one from google is from the Dream.


http://www.beyondships.com/images/2_water_works_2-2.jpg
#12
Louisiana
810 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by chrislaurn
I don't have a picture (I'm a total fail at taking pics) but this one from google is from the Dream.


http://www.beyondships.com/images/2_water_works_2-2.jpg
Thanks. Carnival has it listed as fun for all ages, but that doesn't look very three year fun or friendly. One of the pictures looked like it had an area for littles.
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Carnival Conquest, Port of New Orleans - Thanksgiving 2003, Honeymoon Cruise.
Carnival Valor, Port of Miami, August 2005, Grad School Graduation Cruise, safe at Sea while Katrina hit New Orleans.
NCL Dream, Port of somewhere, Thanksgiving 2006 not worth remembering.
Carnival Victory, Port of San Jaun, Thanksgiving 2009. Upgrade Fairy-wrap around balcony!
Disney Magic, Port of Gal, TX, December 2012, First cruise with dd, 14 months!
Disney Wonder, Port of Gal, TX, December 2013, 10th anniversary cruise! DD's 2nd cruise.
RC Seranade of the Seas, Port of New Orleans, January 2015, the opened credit card statement on Wednesday and surprise cruise Saturday. An old ship, full of old people. Cruising with a 3 year old was a whole new experience!
Carnival Dream, Port of New Orleans, August 2015, The suite life is the life for me, but maybe not on carnival. Took till day three, but I figured out how to cruise with a 3 year old!
We have TWINS now. Disney Wonder, port of Gal, TX, December 2016, this one is for the momma!
Next up, Rebooked while onboard
#14
Louisiana
810 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by chrislaurn
Here is a pic of the other side with the splash zone. It's perfect for a 3 year old. But I always get nervous with the little ones going up and down wet stairs.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7104/6...9c256c77_b.jpg
you rock! thanks! oddly she didn't slip at all last time, she had a blast. The big slide, she just wanted to climb the 'tall tall tower' didn't want to go down it (with daddy).
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Carnival Conquest, Port of New Orleans - Thanksgiving 2003, Honeymoon Cruise.
Carnival Valor, Port of Miami, August 2005, Grad School Graduation Cruise, safe at Sea while Katrina hit New Orleans.
NCL Dream, Port of somewhere, Thanksgiving 2006 not worth remembering.
Carnival Victory, Port of San Jaun, Thanksgiving 2009. Upgrade Fairy-wrap around balcony!
Disney Magic, Port of Gal, TX, December 2012, First cruise with dd, 14 months!
Disney Wonder, Port of Gal, TX, December 2013, 10th anniversary cruise! DD's 2nd cruise.
RC Seranade of the Seas, Port of New Orleans, January 2015, the opened credit card statement on Wednesday and surprise cruise Saturday. An old ship, full of old people. Cruising with a 3 year old was a whole new experience!
Carnival Dream, Port of New Orleans, August 2015, The suite life is the life for me, but maybe not on carnival. Took till day three, but I figured out how to cruise with a 3 year old!
We have TWINS now. Disney Wonder, port of Gal, TX, December 2016, this one is for the momma!
Next up, Rebooked while onboard
#15
118 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
One of the things that attracted me to this cruise is that it had three sea days. Since the itinerary was not terribly exciting, we liked the idea of having three days to relax.

We spent most of these days at the main pool. Sea days are when the ship usually feels crowded. This cruise was no exception. Chairs were at a premium, but I did not notice any chair hogs. What I really liked about this ship is that there are some umbrellas on the main deck shading some of the loungers. We set up camp there and the boys played mini-golf and went to the water slides. They absolutely loved the water slide area. I think they spent 20 minutes total in the pool, but were up and down the slides all day. We make them check in with us any time they change locations, so we can keep up with them.

The pool entertainment was good. I wish there had been more music. They kept showing some Who tribute-type concert video. We saw that a lot. The entertainment staff did some pool games which were adults only. While I am no prude, twerking contests with a pool full of kids is not something I was thrilled about. They did an announcement that they "weren't responsible for anyone's therapy." The entertainment staff was enthusiastic and the DJ was great. I just would have liked to have had the DJ spend more time at the pool. They did have a guitar player do a couple sets at the Red Frog and that was nice. Brandon Whittenhouse (?) played there on the last sea day. We thought that he was the best entertainer on the ship.

The first sea night is also the first "cruise elegant night." The wait was a little bit longer to get into the dining room that night, but that was also expected. The food was good and the service was fine.

ONE NOTE -- My cousin who cruised with us has a gluten allergy. There is no gluten-free options on the menu. She had to pre-order her dinner the night before and then the chef would prepare it gluten-free. The wait staff did a good job keeping up with her.

We usually give the boys the option of going to dinner with us or having dinner with the kids camp. They always pick the camp. The camp has dinner in the Lido dining area - the Gathering. I did not know until I had to bring them up there, that there is more seating on the 11th floor. If you go to the back of the Lido and go up the stairs, there is the pasta bar and a whole large seating area. Wish we knew that on embarkation day!!

Our biggest criticism of the cruise was the evening entertainment. For us, the Welcome Aboard Show, the Love and Marriage Show, etc. are the same jokes every year. On our last cruise we really enjoyed the piano bar. We headed back there are lasted about 5 minutes. The man could not sing. At all. At first, we thought that he was mocking the song. Nope. He was just that bad. I know there were people on the ship that loved him. We didn't. In fact, that limited our evening options.

Next up, Jamaica mon!
#17
285 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Originally posted by chrislaurn
It is better. But it is still bad. You can literally feel when you cross the Mississippi-Louisiana line.
We felt it when our 2 1/2 hour ride turned into a 4 1/2 hour ride on the Saturday before our Sunday cruise. I would hate to see what it is like on a weekday.
#20
illinois
344 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Great review so far! We were on this same cruise in March with our 2 girls. I also do the shoe holder and the collapsible laundry bags. You can never be too organized in a cruise cabin with kids!!