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Our amazing Dream cruise--photo and trivia review!

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This is a photo review of our Western itinerary Carnival Dream cruise: June 11-18, 2011. At first I thought about writing a short review with a few key points, but then I thought about how helpful all the reviews were that I’ve read over the past several months, so I decided to take the time to write a more detailed review in hopes of helping some people who might be just starting their planning for an upcoming cruise on the Dream. I remember, however, that I didn’t always have the time to read lengthy reviews, so I’m going to use red on any key points or suggestions that might be new or different. That way you can scroll through the review and just look for key points if you don’t want to read the entire review. One of the helpful things I did while planning our cruise was to create a Word document on my computer just for cruise ideas and suggestions. Once I came across something new or helpful on CC, I copied and pasted the posts to my document so I could review the entire list closer to the trip.

 

PREPARATION: We started thinking about a cruise back in October, but didn’t book our trip on the Dream until Christmas Eve. From that point on, the countdown to June 11 was on! A few days after booking I joined Cruise Critic, and that was probably the single best thing I did to guarantee a great trip. I learned so much from reading people’s reviews and suggestions. Our trip plans kept getting better and better thanks to the suggestions of others. Just a few facts about us—this was our 4th cruise, and our 2nd cruise on Carnival. We really thought we had become fans of Princess after two great cruises on the Caribbean Princess and Crown, but after this cruise, we have switched our allegiance back to Carnival! Our cruise was in celebration of my wife completing her doctorate degree. While she was busy doing her research, I was busy doing mine---planning special surprises for this trip that I discovered on CC. She was too busy to be involved in any of the planning, so other than the trip itself and the cabin selection, she was totally unaware of the trip’s details. We decided to leave it that way, so each day of the cruise brought new surprises. Made the trip even more fun for both of us!

 

Since it will take me a few days to post this entire review, I thought I’d trying something new to keep things interesting to see how many people really know the Western Caribbean itinerary. I’ll post a “trivia photo” at the end of each section, and we’ll see who can correctly identify the location. Might be lame, but also could be fun. I’ll start with an easy one! Where are we here?

 

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GETTING THERE: My wife had to work a half-day on Friday, so I picked her up in downtown Atlanta at 12:30 PM on the 10th and we headed directly to Florida. Our biggest mistake of the trip was opting to take I-75 to the FL Turnpike instead of I-10 to Jacksonville. The FL Turnpike was fine—about $3.50 between Ocala and Orlando. The problem was FL route 528 which you take from the turnpike to Cocoa Beach. I wasn’t aware that this road was a toll road too, and we racked up about $6 in tolls over a very short distance. When we were having to stop for the third time in less than 5 miles to pay yet another $2.25 (there was no rhyme or reason to the amounts!), I asked the attendant, “How many more of these tolls are there between here and I-95.” His response of, “I have no idea” did not go over well with me. Needless to say, we took I-95 to I-10 on the way home!

 

We arrived at the La Quinta Inn and Suites on Cocoa Beach about 9:30 PM. I had reserved the room back in April through Hotwire for $65, so we were pleasantly surprised when we had a nice room overlooking the pool. (The room also included a hot breakfast.) We hadn’t been out of the car since Valdosta, so it was nice to breath the ocean air when we got out of the car! We quickly checked in and moved only our essential luggage to the room before walking two blocks back to A-1A to grab something to eat at Beef O’Brady’s in the Publix shopping center. (Not our first choice, but one of the few places within walking distance still open at 10 PM).

 

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We were going to park our car at the hotel for an additional $30, but the La Quinta doesn’t have a shuttle. I called about two weeks prior to the trip and found out that the average cost of transportation to the port would be about $20 for up to 4 people. Add another $20 to get back after the trip and the cost of parking/transportation was going to cost more than the hotel room. Luckily, I had read on Cruise Critic about the new Park ‘N Cruise on Sea Ray Drive just a few minutes from the port. I made a quick reservation online (which qualifies you for a 10% discount), and our parking arrangements were all set.

 

 

EMBARKATION DAY: After a short walk on the beach, we left the hotel about 10 AM on Saturday morning ready to start our trip! We drove right past the Dream on our way to the Park ‘N Cruise lot (which you’ll see on your left about 5 minutes before you get to the port if you are coming in from I-95). When we drove into their lot, a man greeted us and directed us into a hanger type building. As soon as we pulled inside, they were there ready to unload our luggage. As it turned out, we never touched our luggage again until we were in our cabin. While I paid the $53 dollars for the parking space, my wife boarded the shuttle bus while the attendant loaded our luggage. I then parked our car in the gravel lot right next to the exit. I liked that we could park our own car because I could leave plenty of space between our car and the van next to it. One other couple was going through the same process behind us, so the driver asked us if we wanted to wait for them to board the bus, or did we want to leave right away. Since it was only 10:30, we were happy to wait for the other couple. As we started to the port, I heard the other man talking to the driver. He said, “I’ve read lots of positive reviews about your business on Cruise Critic. I was even online talking to someone who was going to leave his car at his hotel for the week, but changed his mind when he realized it would be cheaper to park here.” I couldn’t believe it—he was talking about me. With 4000 passengers heading to the ship, we were riding the shuttle with the one Cruise Critic member who had helped me the most over the past 6 months—Crewsweeper! (Otherwise known as Stephen). I quickly introduced myself and we all had a good laugh at the odds of such a meeting.

 

Once off the shuttle, our bags were unloaded by the driver and handed directly to the porters. We walked a short distance to the terminal, showed our passports and boarding passes at the door, and headed inside to immediately go through the security check point. FYI--I had one water bottle in my bag—with water in it—and they ran my bag through twice just to make sure it wasn’t alcohol. A quick ride up the escalator and we were handed the usual health form to complete before entering the line for check-in. Less than 10 minutes in line and we were at the counter. By the time we sat down they were just 3 zones away from calling our number (lucky 13). We were on board around 11:30—amazingly fast. One of the best changes was that there were not the REQUIRED family photo shoots (just the individual ones for S&S card and the green screen face recognition photo). Photographers were set up in the lobby on deck #3, but you could easily walk around them without having to put your luggage down again.

 

We decided some time ago that this cruise was going to be about relaxation and not about food, so we ignored all the suggestions to go right to Lido deck and decided instead to head for the Serenity deck. What a great decision! We were the only ones there. We tried out a few clamshells until we settled on one near the bar on the breezy side of the ship (facing the Canaveral launch site).

 

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It was then that we met Alena, the nicest young waitress from Bulgaria. We hit it off immediately, and she took good care of us throughout the week. The Long Island Iced Teas are quite good! Although the entire “Dream Team” is incredibly friendly, Alena was our favorite of all. She always called us by name, and even sought us out at the returning guest reception and made sure our glasses were never empty.

 

While my wife enjoyed relaxing in the clamshell, I headed back to deck 3 to the excursion deck about 12:30 because I wanted to book the Behind the Fun tour. The line was still short, so I was done in a matter of minutes. The tour costs $95 per person. We were the 3rd and 4th people added to the list, but I was told to come back tomorrow while the boat was at sea to actually pay for the tour. Otherwise, they would have to charge tax. My next stop was the dining room to request a table for 2. Although our assignment was in Scarlett, I was sent to Crimson to make the request. The maître-D greeted me, took my request, and told me that there would be no changes made until after the first night. If they could grant my request, I would receive a note in my cabin during the first day at sea. My final stop was at the Chef’s Art Steakhouse on deck 12 aft to confirm our reservations for the Chef’s Table and for the steakhouse itself. I had made both reservations back in January, but had been instructed to confirm both reservations once onboard. With all of my “chores” taken care of, I made a quick stop at the Indian buffet near the aft pool on deck 10 (another good suggestion from Crewsweeper), grabbed an assortment of very tasty items (no line at all), and it was back to the clamshell for a 2nd Long Island Iced Tea before checking out our cabin.

 

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I like it!

 

The red print is a very cool idea.

 

And I love the idea of the photo trivia.

 

In that first pic, are you in Cozumel ?

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SO the very first photo is of the Dream docked in Costa Maya. At the bottom of your post, that would be Cozumel. We were on this cruise in Feb. :-)

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I’ll post a “trivia photo” at the end of each section, and we’ll see who can correctly identify the location.[/color] Might be lame, but also could be fun. I’ll start with an easy one! Where are we here?

 

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3 Amigos Puerta Maya.

 

Nice start Ed....I can't wait to read the rest. I like the way you began the cruise. LIITs Nice.

 

 

Stephen

Edited by crewsweeper

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ALL guesses on photos were correct. I'll have to make these harder! The first one was Costa Maya and the "easy" one was Cozumel (love that photo). Much more to come later.

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THANK YOU!!! For posting the information on Park 'N Cruise. I printed your entire paragraph about it...for my husband. We were on The Star Princess in March, and it cost us $150 + to park for ten days. That is a lot. We heard about Park 'n Cruise in Fort Lauderdale from someone on this board, and I vowed to use it next time. So.are you familiar with that francise there?

 

I am hoping you attended some real Trivia Games. The last time we were on the Dream...the Cruise Staff did something called Super Trivia..which meant that even if you answered all of the questions correctly..anyone who rolled a bigger number on a set of dice.......won. It is a game....and fun for many I am sure. It is not Trivia.

We have booked three curises with Princes since then...And cruised two of them..and have one booked for New years. We were pretty happy on Carnival until then.......We had 8 cruises under our belt..with Carnival.

 

Now....your review.........if Trivia is Trivia again.( my DH loves Trivia..and on Princess.....he is in hog Trivia Heaven) I wonder, sometimes.. why when Trivia is so cheap to put on for the passengers....and it attracts so many folks who cruise a lot...I wonder..why do some cruise lines not do at least two or three different types a day? Thinking NCL..which needs something...I mean. Like Princess does....with Jeopardized Trivia...the Movie and Beatles such Trivia..the ordinary ones..twice a day........and I think their repeat passenger rate is way way high.

 

we may give The DReam another try...thanks to your great review.

Edited by AmberTeka

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Awesome start to what I am sure will be a great review!

 

Sailing on this great ship in September (78 days, but who is counting?) :rolleyes:

 

Looking forward to the next installment. I know this type of review is time consuming, so thanks for taking the time to do it!

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Thanks for all the supportive comments! Before I go on with my review, I have to hit you with a harder "trivia" photo to test your knowledge of cabins. One of the main reasons we booked this particular cruise on the particular ship was because of the cabin we selected.

 

Below are two photos of our amazing cabin. (The second photo is the view looking up). Can you identify the cabin?

 

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Great pictures! I am missing my boat in Alaska already! Sitting at lunch break reading the forum isn't the same :(

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Before I continue, I wanted to add an aside about ordering from Carnival's BON VOYAGE dept:

 

I had pre-ordered several items from Bon Voyage, so I assumed they would all be in the room when we arrived. Most were, but a few things were delivered shortly after we arrived.

 

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The fruit basket with wine, cheese, and crackers was a big hit. The fruit was excellent and plentiful, and we enjoyed the cheese and crackers with pre-dinner cocktails on two separate nights. We ended up taking the wine with us to the Steakhouse on the last night, and they did NOT charge us a corkage fee. The cake was really good, but we left it sitting out all night and we weren't sure if it needed to be refrigerated, so we only ate two pieces. Too bad because it was better than any of the buffet desserts. We also ordered two Carnival visors for $5 a piece. They came in very handy all week.

 

Not sure if I would spend the money on the bottle of gin again. We enjoyed ordering fun drinks from the bar that we wouldn’t usually have at home, so we didn’t drink much gin. At home we drink a lot of water, and the water of the ship doesn’t taste very good, so next time we would bring less tonic water and pack more water bottles. One of our only frustrations on the ship was the lack of free beverages. Obviously, the iced tea and coffee are made with the same ship water, so they tasted funny to us. There was lemonade (which I drank a lot of), and orange & apple juice. No fruit punch like on our first Carnival cruise. After the first morning of disappointing coffee, we visited the coffee shop on deck 5 every morning for our morning cup. One small coffee and one hot tea cost us $2.88 with included tip each morning—cheaper than our daily visit to Starbucks back home. If you order the fancy coffee drinks, you will pay a lot more. The lady who worked at the coffee shop was very friendly, and quickly learned our order after 2 visits.

 

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(Two more hints in those photos to see if anyone knows this exact cabin. If not, I'll include that info in the next post).

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Awesome start to what I am sure will be a great review!

 

Sailing on this great ship in September (78 days, but who is counting?) :rolleyes:

 

Looking forward to the next installment. I know this type of review is time consuming, so thanks for taking the time to do it!

 

We'll be on the Dream at thesame time! It can't come fast enough.

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Thanks for all the supportive comments! Before I go on with my review, I have to hit you with a harder "trivia" photo to test your knowledge of cabins. One of the main reasons we booked this particular cruise on the particular ship was because of the cabin we selected.

 

Below are two photos of our amazing cabin. (The second photo is the view looking up). Can you identify the cabin?

 

5863225663_4548c942c9.jpg

 

5863786992_e96929301e.jpg

Cabin 7454?

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Loving your review!

 

We will be on the Dream on the Same itinerary in August!

 

Looking forward to more!

Catrin

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Thanks for all the supportive comments! Before I go on with my review, I have to hit you with a harder "trivia" photo to test your knowledge of cabins. One of the main reasons we booked this particular cruise on the particular ship was because of the cabin we selected.

 

Below are two photos of our amazing cabin. (The second photo is the view looking up). Can you identify the cabin?

 

5863225663_4548c942c9.jpg

 

5863786992_e96929301e.jpg

 

7459? 0r 6479? I can't tell if there are 2 or 3 decks about you. lol

 

We did the Jacksonville route just to avoid the tolls! I highly recommend it!

Edited by tropicaledrink

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The cabin looks to be an aft wrap? We were in 9472, another aft wrap, same cruise, can't tell you how much we loved it. HUGE balcony :) You were a few decks below us, hi neighbor? Love the trivia, very fun review!

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Great review so far! Thanks for taking the time.

 

I'm looking forward to going on the Dream (or one of her sister ships) hopefully sometime soon.:)

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Keep it coming.....I can hardly wait for more. Great pics and fun with the pic trivia. We are doing our countdown for the Dream. Its way to far away:eek:

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6492...... wild guess....

 

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CORRECT!

Hard to tell from this photo, but 6492 and one other cabin were set back off of the main hallway. We had to pass through another doorway to get to our two doors. I'm guessing it was this way for all corner cabins. Because the room is set back and so far away from the general flow of traffic, we hardly ever heard sound from outside in the hall.

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Below are two photos of our amazing cabin. (The second photo is the view looking up). Can you identify the cabin?

 

9C, looks like starboard :D, deck 6?

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AFT WRAP CABIN: One of the things that sold us on the Dream back in December was the chance to book an amazing aft wrap cabin. I did a lot of reading about the different cabins, and after talking to several people on CC who had stayed in the exact cabin we were considering, we made our early saver reservation for cabin 6492. I was concerned that the noise from the Burgundy Lounge below would be annoying, but it really wasn’t a problem. The B. Lounge hosts the comedy clubs most nights of the week, so we never heard a sound when the comedians were performing. There was live music in the lounge on the first night and one night mid-week. Those nights we could hear bass and a little percussion, but only if the TV was off. Both nights the music ended between 12:30 and 1 AM.

 

I thought we’d hurry to our cabin at 1:30 as soon as they made the announcement that cabins were open, but we were having such a relaxing time on Serenity deck that we waited almost a full hour before making the walk to the opposite end of the boat. Once we opened the door, however, we knew it was worth the walk. What a large room—

 

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It had a king size bed, 3 large closets with doors (just out of the picture on the left), a safe and mini-fridge, a couch with a small table (where I was sitting when I took the photo), and a decent sized bathroom. There was also an area just out of sight in this photo to the right that led to the bathroom. This space was large enough for a narrow/tall chest of drawers, so we took advantage of the space and used it to stand up our biggest suitcase against the wall. We unzipped just the very top of it and used it as our hamper all week. Also out of sight to the right was the door to the deck and another window similar to the one in this photo. The biggest difference with this room compared to past cabins was that when you open the door, you are in the room. There is no little hallway like in most cabins.

 

 

And what an amazing balcony! We estimated that it was about 35’ across. It had two lounge chairs, a reclining chair, and a standard chair and small table.

 

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One of the concerns I had read about the aft cabins on this particular ship was that you didn’t have enough privacy on your deck because of the promenade deck below. Not really true. When we were seated in any of the chairs on our deck, we couldn’t see the people below on promenade deck nor could we even see that deck. The view was completely ocean. (As you can tell from the photo above). Likewise, people above couldn’t see us because of the small roofline that hangs above the cabin. (Also visible in the photo above).

 

 

 

When we would get up and stand at the railing,

 

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(Here's that view)

 

we could watch any people down below, or turn around and look up to see who was standing at the railings at decks above. Occasionally, you could even see people looking over the railing up at Lido deck. Instead of this being a problem, we found it to be quite entertaining with great people watching. Most people who passed by on the promenade deck were either doing their daily exercise, or stopped briefly to look over the back railing of the ship. They rarely ever turned around and looked up to see us standing there. We watched a wedding party have their family pictures made on the promenade deck, lots of family sunset photo ops, and a few other humorous things from time to time:

 

 

 

 

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Another concern that I kept reading about was soot on the deck. This too was not an issue. I pictured there being a thin layer of soot on everything, but it was more like flakes of ash that would appear from time to time. The first piece didn’t even appear until the 4th day of the trip:

 

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We did notice that we started to see more ash on the floor once the ship had turned north from Roatan and started the long journey back to PC, but again it was nothing.

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I am loving this review. We were on the Dream this time last year and LOVED it! Though not in our plans this summer :(, next summer we will definitely be cruising!! In the meantime, I read CruiseCritic and wonderful reviews like this one to feed my addiction. Thanks!

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THANK YOU!!! For posting the information on Park 'N Cruise. I printed your entire paragraph about it...for my husband. We were on The Star Princess in March, and it cost us $150 + to park for ten days. That is a lot. We heard about Park 'n Cruise in Fort Lauderdale from someone on this board, and I vowed to use it next time. So.are you familiar with that francise there?

 

I am hoping you attended some real Trivia Games. The last time we were on the Dream...the Cruise Staff did something called Super Trivia..which meant that even if you answered all of the questions correctly..anyone who rolled a bigger number on a set of dice.......won. It is a game....and fun for many I am sure. It is not Trivia.

We have booked three curises with Princes since then...And cruised two of them..and have one booked for New years. We were pretty happy on Carnival until then.......We had 8 cruises under our belt..with Carnival.

 

Now....your review.........if Trivia is Trivia again.( my DH loves Trivia..and on Princess.....he is in hog Trivia Heaven) I wonder, sometimes.. why when Trivia is so cheap to put on for the passengers....and it attracts so many folks who cruise a lot...I wonder..why do some cruise lines not do at least two or three different types a day? Thinking NCL..which needs something...I mean. Like Princess does....with Jeopardized Trivia...the Movie and Beatles such Trivia..the ordinary ones..twice a day........and I think their repeat passenger rate is way way high.

 

we may give The DReam another try...thanks to your great review.

I so agree with you about Super Trivia. On our cruise last year, we played Super Trivia and found it to be very disorganized and because so many participated, very hard to follow. And each session took forever! We didn't go back to the last session, we found it took tooo much time. We are trivia junkies, like your husband, and enjoy all types of topics. Luckily on the Dream last year, in addition to Super Trivia, there were multiple games of regular trivia offered every day. Lots of fun (and lots of medals)!!

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Thanks for the review. Love the ideas that you put in red. They are so helpful and easy to find!! We are on the Dream August 8th for our first Carnival cruise. I'm looking forward to it!!

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After watching the last minute guests arrive at the port, it was finally time to prepare for departure.

 

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As others have mentioned, the muster drill is simple on the Dream. No life jackets required. We were able to use the crew stairs just outside our cabin. We walked down the three flights of stairs to the Scarlet DR and entered the room through an emergency door. We were seated in the back corner of the DR and never saw any of the safety demonstrations--could only hear them.

 

Sailaway was right on time, and no matter how many cruises you take, that first sailaway is always exciting. HINT: If you are going to watch sailaway from the back of the ship, you might want to tuck:

 

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We loved watching PC…and all our stresses and worries…drift away behind us from the view on our deck. We never got tired of being out there!

 

 

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We also enjoyed our first of several sunsets from our deck.

 

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And now, unfortunately, I have to go to work....

 

More later

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Here's the next trivia photo. Where are we here?

 

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Costa Maya, Mexico?

 

I'm really enjoying your review and I love the idea with trivia pictures.

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