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Disney and a wonderful DREAM - Our Family Vacation 8/17 - 8/27


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Hello everyone....

I have finally decided to write a review / diary of our ten day trip.... Two days in Disney and then a week on the Carnival Dream.

Just some background.... we are a family of five.... Me(44).. DH (46), DS1 (16), DS2 (13) and DD (6). This is the 12th Carnival Cruise for my husband and I, 9th for the boys, and my daughter's 7th.

This vacation was planned late last year. We had cruised the last two summers to Canada out of NYC, and decided that we really missed the Caribbean. Flying to FLA from RI is a major added expense, but with my oldest getting ready to look for colleges, we knew that this would be the last year for all of us to have a major vacation. A few months ago, when the Southwest flights opened, I had an idea. "Honey?? Would you be able to get an extra day or two added to your vacation?? PULLLLEASSEE???" I knew I could! I wanted to go to DISNEY!! ..... see... my DH HATES Disney. Hates everything about it. The crowds, the $4.00 waters, the lines, the people pretending to be happy..... but I LOVE IT. I have visited with each of my boys one at a time, but have never been with the five of us. But... since we knew this was going to be our last BIG vacation for a very long time.. he agreed!!

Our Plan....

Fly Wednesday night.... Stay at the Port Orleans Resort in Disney Wednesday thru Friday. Rent a car and travel to Port Canavaral Saturday Morning. Cruise on the Dream! Rent a car and spend Saturday night at the Spring Hill Suites near the airport and spend the day at Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cocoa Beach then Dinner at the Hard Rock in Orlando.

We booked Early Saver on the Dream... in a Family Stateroom for five. Great option in our opinion. We were glad to see rooms for five return! The price never went down however. Our plans also included a visit to Paradise Beach in Cozumel, Cave Tubing in Belize, Zip Lining in Roatan and a visit to the Beach in Costa Maya.

Not all went as planned.... especially our last night..... but more on that later!

I have a lot of pictures to share.. no food porn (sorry!... if I took out the camera during dinner, I am sure the divorce papers would be sent across the table ;)!!) ... and I hope this pretty basic review helps someone!

I do not have the most witty writing style... but I hope you enjoy!

Coming Up....

Flying to Florida and Disney!


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Flying to Florida and Disney

DH had Wednesday off of work, but I worked most of the day. Our flight was at 5:30 out of Providence, direct to Orlando on Southwest. We fly Southwest all the time.. best airline, IMO. No luggage fees, easy checkin, a pleasure to deal with and very flexible!

Everyone was all smiles as we packed the car... we are on our way!




Airport Check in was painless... we used Curbside at Southwest, checked in, went through security and we were at the gate in less than 15 minutes. Flying in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning was key! Here we are .. at the Gate.... relaxed and ready to fly!



The flight was terrific, and before we knew it.. we were in Orlando. I rented a movie on my Ipad... made the time fly by! DD was just excited to be at the window seat!



We were using Disney's Magical Express to get to Port Orleans. Although there was no line to check in, we did wait quite a while for a bus.. and then that bus had to fill up a bit. From the time our plane landed to the bus leaving, it was almost an hour... which was much later than we expected.

I will be back.. I have to figure out how to rotate my pictures on Webshots!!


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Back to the Magical Express. Disney offers this service for FREE if you are staying at a Disney resort. We booked the Port Orleans Riverside for a few reasons.. 1) They have rooms that sleep 5 2) The cost - I had a PIN Code and got a rate of $111 per night for three nights... which is excellent. 3) Free Transportation

They show a 20 minute Disney World Pre-view movie, which the kids loved.. it also made the ride fly by. Before we knew it..we were at Port Orleans.





By the time we arrived at Port Orleans, it was almost 10Pm... a bit later than I anticipated, but not the end of the world. Although we were only in Disney a few days, I still purchased a re-fillable mug at the Food Court... well worth it! Our room was AS FAR AWAY from the Center of Action as possible! But.. no worries, this quick trip was to have fun at the parks. We knew we were not going to be able to take advantage of all the resort had to offer. We walked to our room... quite a long walk at night.. but the surroundings are lovely....


OH WHY Did we use the Luggage Service on Magical Express???

Part of the Magical Express Service.. is that they take the luggage right off the plane, and deliver it to your room. I honestly was NOT thinking right... when they said it usually takes two hours from the time your plane lands to get the luggage. That would mean 10:30 PM.... late .. but not too bad.

So... 10:30 came... 11:00PM came.... we are tired, we are a bit cranky... we want to wake up bright and early to go to the parks.... 11:30..... (call to Guest Services...).... midnight.. no luggage!

FINALLY arrived at 12:15. DH was a trooper.. he had been up since early in the AM, but stayed awake.. while the rest of us fell asleep.

BTW>> that room for five? We knew the room had a trundle bed. But.. for those ever considering that option.... it was awful... like sleeping on the floor. Once the kids saw it... well, lets just say it was a very tough sell! We were glad we were only there for two nights!!

6am came pretty quick.. but being the Disney nut I am.. I was up and HAPPY!! The rest of the family?? Umm... it took a little prodding, but we actually got up and dressed and to the parks for opening!

The one thing I did, was plan ahead for that morning's breakfast. I brought cereal cups for each kid and walked to the food court for milk early that morning. Worked out perfectly.

Coming up next.. our day in Disney's Hollywood Studios.. and RAIN!!

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Our plan was to spend the day at Disney Hollywood Studios. We would go as long as we lasted. With only two days in Disney, I knew there was no way we would see everything, do everything.... we were just going to go with the flow and maximize the Fast Pass system. DD knew we were not going to stand in line to meet Mickey, Princesses, etc.. She would have her chance when I take her for her solo trip.

We arrived before opening, and could already tell the parks were going to be PACKED!!

Our plan.. DH, DS2 and DD were going to go to Tower of Terror while DS1 and I were going to go to Toy Story Mania to get Fast Passes for the family.

We watched the opening ... well... couldn't really see it.. with the crowds... and then the park opened!



When the park opened... we split up and it worked perfectly.. DS1 and I got Fast Passes and then went right to RockNRoller Coaster Single Rider line with NO WAIT. When we got off, DH, DS2 and DD had been on Tower of Terror and were waiting for us.... But.. OH NO>>> OH NO>> DD was totally Freaked out... tears... this cannot be good. Tower of Terror, the ONE RIDE she kept talking about over and over again.. Freaked her out. Not the drop, not the ride itself.. but the entire theme of the ride. It did not help that her 13 year old brother was reminding her how scared she would be! I should have known better.. and that was my moment to be the worst mother in the world!!

DS1, DS2 and DH went on RockNRollerCoaster while I hung out with DD and calmed her down.


By the time they came out, we went to Toy Story Mania where it was almost time to use our Fast Passes. DD was still a bit shaken up, so we gave her a cure for everything.... DORITOES!! Toy Story Mania was a blast.. and a must do if you are in that park. The line was so long and Fast Pass is the only way to go.

After Toy Story, it was almost time for Disney Rocks... a show where they feature songs from the Disney Channel. DD LOVES her Disney Channel shows and she was looking forward to this show.... SHE LOVED IT!! DS1, DD and I watched the show while DS2 and DH went on Star Wars. Timing was perfect!! Right after the show, DD was able to meet Lilo... no line at all! DH and DS2 showed up right as Chip and Dale arrived and I was able to get a pic with all three kids!




We then went to the American Idol Experience. This was terrific.... all three kids loved voting and the entire show. It was nice to get out of the heat into an Air Conditioned area! Then we had lunch at the ABC Commisary. We did not have a meal plan.... and boy, can lunch add up! DH and I had an awesome Oriental Salad... I love how Disney has healthier options now. The kids had the usual..Nuggets, Mac and Cheese, Cheeseburgers... they were quite happy!

After lunch, we went to the Lights Motors Action stunt show. HOT and LONG.... I had seen it twice before, so it was quite boring for me, but the boys enjoyed it, even my DH! .... but.... then the wall came... with DD.

...... to be continued...

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Being up until 10:30 the night before was starting to take its toll... and for those of you with young kids.. you probably know what I mean!

The boys wanted to go on Star Wars again, so they went there, while DH and I took DD to the Honey I shrunk the kids Playground.. Great idea. She loved it and was able to relax and play at her pace.




When the boys returned.. we made the decision we KNEW we had to make. I could have gone all day..... but I promised that I wouldn't push. And DD really wanted to go in the pool... so that is what we did. We went back to Port Orleans and had a terrific time in the pool. They had fun music, games, etc. The kids played a musical chairs type of game for an hour... and won some beads... One thing about Disney, is they really make things fun for kids!!


The boys decided they wanted to go back to the park.. so they did .. in the POURING RAIN!! They had fun going on rides again... we decided to have dinner at the Hotel Food Court and have an early night.

Great first day overall....we may not have spent as much time in the park as expected, but I felt we had a quality day!

Coming next, Magic Kingdom....

(thanks to the Cruise fans for dealing with my Disney adventures... I wanted the whole trip on one report to share with our families... I promise.. the Cruise is coming!!)



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We all had a pretty good night sleep.... except for the inital arguments who was going to sleep on the trundle bed!! Aggrrr!!

Friday morning was Magic Kingdom day.... Our plan was to arrive again for opening and last as long as we could. DH had to return to the resort in the afternoon to go to Budget to get the rental car... so we knew we had a break in there somewhere.

We had breakfast in the Food Court... the kids were happy with Cinnamon Buns! ... and we caught the bus to the Magic Kingdom. One thing about Disney Transportation... they sure have that down. We never waited more than 10 minutes for a bus.

We arrived at the gates, and waited for the Pre-Opening show. I love how the Disney Characters arrive by Train and welcome everyone to the park. That is Disney Magic!



The plan.. (yes, always a plan..)... DD2 was going to walk very quickly... (notice I didn't say RUN!) to Space Mountain to get five Fast Passes. He was then to meet us at Buzz Lightyear, where we would all go. This worked out perfectly!

We rode Buzz twice with no lines... and then met Stitch again!! Then.. it was almost time for Space Mountain. After the Tower of Terror incident yesterday, we were a bit nervous how DD would be... but she was excited to go! When we approached Space Mountain, we had 20 minutes to our Fast Pass time and the wait was 20 minutes, so we decided to wait in line, then use our FP for a second ride! Well.... wouldn't you know... our DD...... Freaked.... wait.. thats wrong... she LOVED IT!! Space Mountain .. to this day, is my favorite ride in all of Disney, and I was so excited to finally ride with my three kids and husband. Those two rides on Space Mountain were my favorite part of the entire vacation. Pure Disney Happiness!!




We then went to Fantasyland .. DS1 ventured to Splash Mountain to get Fast Passes.. and DS2 and DD went on the teacups. The lines were starting to grow and grow and grow.... and we knew that waiting in line for an hour in the 95 degree heat was not our thing.... so we went to the wonderful Mickey's Philharmagic Movie... I love that show!

Then.. something really funny happened. When we got out, DD saw Cinderella's Step Sisters and Wicked Stepmother were meeting kids. There was only a few kids in line, so we ventured over. Well.... they were HYSTERICAL!! They told DD that her goal is to become a Trophy Wife, or a Gold Digger... and told DS2 that he would make a wonderful Butler someday. DD was in awe....


We then walked across the park to Splash Mountain... and our Fast Pass time was approaching. We were able to get Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain before Splash Mountain.. this Fast Pass quest was working out well. We all went on Splash Mountain.... even DS1 who remembers being deathly afraid of it at age 5... and enjoyed it!


After Splash, we were ready for lunch. We went all the way back to the Columbia Harbour House, which is my favorite place to have lunch. But.. our experience was not a good one. First, a woman in front of us, got to the order taker and had no idea what was on the menu. Why can't people decide before they get in line? Then, she was very demanding and was very rude. Then we ordered and walked to the counter to pick our order. But.. there was an older woman there, who started to get our order, but was in a daze. It was like watching someone who was possessed by Zombies. She started our order, then put it down and walked away, then started another order.... then walked in circles. I was VERY concerned for her. She had no idea where she was. I tried to reach a manager, but was ignored. Finally I said.. quite loudly.. CAN SOMEONE HELP ME?? (this was after a good ten minutes). I explained what was going on, and that I was concerned for the worker. In the meantime, our order was lost and my kids were upstairs saving a table for 20 minutes wondering where I was! I had to re-order our lunch, but what happened next was pure Disney. They had me go to my table, and they brought us our lunch... with a full refund. I never asked for a refund.. to be honest, I was more concerned with the lady. The food was great, btw... Tuna for me, Fish and Chips and Clam Chowder for the boys... At the end of our lunch, I found her wandering around the dining area, cleaning tables!


Because of our extended lunch.. our Fast Pass time for Big Thunder Mountain was up! We went on that ride with no wait, and laughed the whole time.


After that ride, it was time for DH to head back to get the rental car. DS1 had a great idea... DD wanted to go back into the pool. DS1 had enough and he would take DD to the pool while DH got the car... DS2 and I would stay in the park and keep going!


We all took the train around the park to the front of the park. The one thing I wanted before they left was a family picture in front of the Castle.

Well.. being 95degrees and we were gross and sweaty, it did not come out as good as we hoped.... (oops too many pictures this post.. it will be on the next one!)



DH, DS1 and DD left .. DS and I walked back to Tomorrow land and went on Carousel of Progress... we love that show! Before we took the train, we used all five passes for some more fast passes for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder, so we walked back there. DS then went on Splash alone twice and Big Thunder once or twice. I was just happy to find a shady spot and wait. While waiting I struck up conversation with a nice woman who travelled from Chicago by car to Disney. She had been there for a week and knew NOTHING about the Fast Pass system. They had been waiting for hours in line all week. It amazes me how people do not research! I guess everyone is not the AType personality like me! :p


DS and I went on Pirates of the Caribean, with a 25 minute wait.. but everything else at this point was well over an hour. We kept cycling Fast Passes.. as soon as you use one, you can get another. We wanted to save some just in case DH came back with DD.


Around 5PM, I got a text from DH that he and DD were coming back to the Magic Kingdom. DS2 decided he wanted to go back to the hotel and have dinner there and relax... so we took the train again to the front and he left for the hotel. He ran into DH and DD at the entrance.... I took the train back to Splash Mountain and met them there. ...

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Family picture as promised!

On the train back to take DS to the exit, a nice Mom asked us if we wanted some Fast Passes for Winnie the Pooh and Philharmagic! WOW>> that was terrific! When DH and DD met me at Splash Mountain, I told DD we could go to Winnie the Pooh! BUT>>>> we also had Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Fast Passes! We had a plan!

DD and DH went on Big Thunder.... while.. the skies totally opened up.. DOWNPOUR!! Guess where our ponchos were? in DS's backpack!! We tried to wait out the rain with no luck, so DH made the run to the gift shop for Ponchos.. another $20 bill down the tubes.

We then walked to Fantasyland to go on Winnie the Pooh and Philharmagic. Despite the Rain, the park was MOBBED. The park was opened until 2am .. and the night time crowds had arrived. After those two rides, the rain was over.... typical Florida weather!!


We walked back to Splash Mountain and rode it one more time..... it was quite different at night!! And so much fun. We then took the train (again!) to the Front of the park... by the time we got out, the Electric Light Parade had just begun. We watched the parade, then stayed for Wishes, the Firework show..... I loved the look on DD's face this night. Pure Disney magic for her. That night was quite special, she loved being the only child! The fireworks were awesome, as always.



After Wishes, we said goodbye to the Magic Kingdom and took the bus back to Port Orleans. The boys had dinner at the food court, went into the pool and played some video games. They were fast asleep when we returned.

Overall, we had a nice time at Disney. Going in late August is certainly a challenge.. crowded parks, hot humid weather, cranky people. As much as I love it, I am grateful for the early December, late January times I have visited in the most recent past!

Disney remains very expensive.. tickets for two days was NOT a value! Food, while expensive, is actually very good and portions are huge. While we did get to do a lot of rides, there were many we skipped because of the lines. One thing is for sure.. we were certainly ready for our cruise and RELAXATION!!

Coming up next..... and finally!..... our Carnival Dream Cruise....

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Talk about the perfect vacation - Disney World and the Carnival Dream!


You have a great writing style - very easy to read and follow along. Your joy really comes through and it's very evident that you had a great trip.



From you, I will take that as a compliment! You write the best reviews ever!! I have a hard time getting really expressing our emotions, frustrations, and humor... mine are more fact based.. but hopefully people will enjoy!


More tomorrow!



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So glad you decided to post your review as I'm really enjoying it! Our first cruise was 3 days at Disney and 4 days on Wonder and we've also done Disney and cruised Glory from Pt. Canaveral. You're right about the heat and theme parks in Aug.:eek: "What were we thinking?" I ask myself every time.


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and now.. finally it is cruise day!

Some background... for those who are just joining us....

This is our 12th Carnival cruise... 9th for my boys and 7th for my daughter. We find that Carnival provides a good mix for all of us... from Camp Carnival to Trivia, from Fruit Loops to Filet Mignon.. all of us are pretty easy to please.

We picked the Dream for several reasons: 1) Pricing - the ability to be in one cabin again was a win for us. We priced two outside cabins on the Legend, and Liberty... and this was a better deal. 2) Ship - we were excited to go on this new ship! Many of the features were made for families.. such as the expanded Camp Carnival areas, Teen Hangouts, Waterworks, etc. 3) Itineary... although we have cruised many times, we have never been to Belize, Roatan OR Costa Maya.. and we love Cozumel so much that this was a great choice!

Saturday 8/20 -

Our plan was to leave Disney between 8 and 9 am and go to Port Canavral. We rented a car the day before from Budget. The terminal is at the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown Disney. My husband was able to have someone pick him up and Port Orleans and bring him to the Doubletree. I got our rate through MouseSavers.com. It was less than $50 for a Ford Taurus for the day. $50 for the five of us, compared to fees for shuttles or limos was a steal.

We left around 9, but the kids wanted to go out to breakfast. We decided to stop somewhere we have never been before.... Waffle House! Great place for a basic breakfast and yes.... terrific waffles!


This put us behind our schedule a bit... but not by much. We stopped at Publix to get a 12 pack of soda for DH and I and some snacks. Yes, we are on a cruise for 7 days, but sometimes having packages of crackers and granola bars for the islands sure comes in handy!

We drove to the Budget Rental agency right near the port. We jumped right on a shuttle bus and we made it to the port by 11:10am. Let me say this about Budget..... it was perfect. Cheap rental car, no lines.. simple as can be. We would do that again in a heartbeat.

Our first glance of the Dream ... a WOW! Even Bigger, even better!


Checking In >>

Because we are Platinum, we had VIP Check In. It could not have been easier. By the time we got checked in, they were already loading passengers on the ship.. so we went right on!

One of the great perks for being platinum, is that they allow us to go to our rooms right away. We did not have to wait until 1:30. Our room steward was right outside and welcomed us to a room that was 100% ready. He knew we were platinum, and our room was waiting for us with our Stationary. We just wanted to drop our luggage off and head to the Lido Deck with our Bathing Suits ready... it was pool and lunch time!

But first.. a couple of family pictures on the still empty Lido Deck..Our first impressions... we loved the layout of the Pool area. It was different from the Stadium Style on the Liberty, Triumph, and Glory. The Umbrellas on the Lido were a big plus and I would be seeking those out! We could not get over how small the pool was.. but we realized we would not be doing laps!




For lunch, I was determined to try the Pasta Bar. I had heard some terrific things here on Cruise Critic and I knew that my pasta loving kids would really LIKE it!! It is located on the Second Floor of the Grand Buffet area.. and when we walked up the stairs, we were the first ones to arrive!



How it works.... you fill out a ticket for what you would like. You choose what type of pasta you would like ( I picked Penne), the Sauce, and the goodies. Anything from Shrimp, Chicken, Beef, Eggplant, Zucchini, Sausages, etc.... then you can have Garlic Bread and Salad as well.

Well, of course.. we created a confusion. My husband and I had a bowl of goodies.. I had Zucchini, Eggplant and Sausage with Marinara. BUT>>> my two younger kids just wanted PLAIN PASTA with Cheese. PLAIN?? You mean with Sauce?? NO. Plain. ...... PLAIN????? are you sure?? Yes, Plain. Ok, maybe not plain. They ad a pound of grated cheese on it, and then they are fine. We really liked our lunch here, but did not return for the rest of the week.... no reason really, we just never made it!

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We had a few goals this cruise....

Me - I wanted to read a book or two. I work 60 hours a week, and with three kids, I cannot remember the last time I read a book.. probably last cruise! I loaded a few easy reads on my Kindle for the week.

DH - He wanted to do NOTHING. We had been on cruises with tons of adventure, and late nights in the casino and shows.. this wasn't the cruise. He wanted to find Serenity and live there for the week.

DS1 - He wanted to abandon us for the week. One thing he loves about cruising are the friends he makes. He was going to find Club 02 and attach himself to a group and have himself a vacation. We had rules for him... Port Days with Family. 4 Dinners with Family. Curfew every night. Must be in Club 02 or find us. After 9 cruises, he knew that wandering around the ship was not acceptable.

DS2 - He wanted adventure. He could not wait to go Cave Tubing, Zip lining, Rock Climbing. He also wanted to find out when Circle C offers free video games. Ahhhh.. to be 13.

DD - She wanted to PLAY. She could not wait for the Dance Party, Camp Activities, Swimming in the Pool and the Water Slide!

After lunch we went exploring...

AFT Lido Pool


Waterworks in the background...



and then it was pool time!

One of our favorite times is that first day.....people are walking on the ship.. many for the first time.. in awe.

DH and I have a game...how to spot a rookie? The bar waiter offers him/her a Drink of the Day! "SURE!!!..... (takes a sip)... Oh... I have to PAY for that??" Welcome to Cruising!!

DD wanted to go right on the waterslides, so she and DH played there... DS1 and DS2 wanted to explore and find Club O2, Circle C, and the Video Game area.

At that time, I went to go check our dining room table. We wanted a table for the five of us. One thing that creates a lot of stress for us, is if we have to dine with another family. Nothing against the others, but in the past, it just works better if we are alone. That way, I do not have to get so stressed out about saying the right things, using the right fork etc.

I could have requested a table for five via John Heald... but I wanted to do it the old fashioned way.... and in retrospect, I should have not been as stubborn and just requested it through him! We had a table for 10, with another family... and were told that it would be switched the second day.

Now, that provides an awkward situation the first night, ... "Hi,nice to meet you... we have no desire to ever eat with you ever again... have a nice night".

Once I fixed our dining, I went to hang out in the Waterworks area for a bit... took some pictures.. by that time DS2 had joined DH and DD.





Then it was time to head back to the cabin.... rest a bit.. see if our luggage arrived and get ready for the Life Boat Drill....


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I am so enjoying your review. My family of 5 is also doing the Dream Christmas Week. I want to convince DH to add on a couple of days at Disney before the cruise as well. We'll see about that since DH is returning from a year long deployment and Disney with 3 kids, (11, 4 and 2) is w-o-r-k!


In any case, I am loving every bit of your review and look forward to reading more!

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I did not realize that being platinum gave you access to your cabin any quicker than the rest of the general population.


Is this new??


We did not know that either... until I read it here on Cruise Critic.

When we asked Guest Services when we arrived on the Dream, they said... "Absolutely... if anyone questions it, just show them your card". When we went to our room, we were welcomed with open arms.


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We drove to the Budget Rental agency right near the port. We jumped right on a shuttle bus and we made it to the port by 11:10am. Let me say this about Budget..... it was perfect. Cheap rental car, no lines.. simple as can be. We would do that again in a heartbeat.



I'm really glad to hear this. We will be using Budget next week & I was wondering how the shuttle was going to be. :)

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Great review so far...we are leaving tomorrow for the 10/1 Dream to the Western Caribbean. I will look for more of your review later! Thank you for taking the time...very enjoyable read :p

Love the information about the cabin for platinum...did not know that. This is our first Platinum cruise and we are not light packers! That will be a real added bonus!

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Our Room... I wish I had taken more pictures of our room to show. We were in Cabin #1388 - Deluxe Family Stateroom on the Riviera Deck. The Cabin was towards the aft elevators, which we thought was in a terrific location. About this cabin... these are the only cabins on the Dream that sleep five people. We had two twins set up as a Queen, with Two bunks on the right wall, and a couch set up as a bed. It worked out just fine. There are two baths. One bath is the standard cabin bath - toilet, sink and stand up shower. The other bath has only a tub... a mini tub at that, and a sink. But the tub also has a shower. Our daughter loved taking baths in the tub... perfect for a little kid... but for the adults, do not get excited! Unless you want to take your bath with your knees to your chest, this is not the tub for you.

The bunks stayed down the entire time... when we have had bunks before, they were put up into the ceiling during the day, but our steward said they stayed down.

Here is DS1 and DD relaxing in the room....



The Life Boat Drill was held for our cabin in the dining room. Extremely painless... what a difference from past cruises standing like sardines in the hot heat for what seemed like hours. We found a comfortable seat and relaxed while listening to the important safety instructions.

After the drill, it was unpacking time, as our luggage arrived! As always, there was plenty of closet and cabinet space for all five of us. There are drawers under the couch/bed that belonged to DS1, and the rest of us shared the shelves and drawers. DH had purchased a bucket of beer that afternoon.. and our steward filled it with ice twice daily. There we kept our Diet Cokes.

We had early seating in the Aft Dining room. Early seating has always worked well for us. We usually eat around 6pm at home, so we kept on a normal schedule there. We considered Your Time Dining, but liked the idea of the same table, same staff each night. As I stated earlier, we did arrange to have our own table the second night, but the first night we did eat with another family. They had much younger kids than ours, and while they were pleasant enough, I was glad that we made the arrangements to be anti social ;).

We had heard here on Cruise Critic that the menu had changed, so we prepared our Shrimp Cocktail loving DS2 that he was not able to get it nightly. His dinner, for multiple cruises.... nightly.... was Shrimp Cocktail, Plain Pasta with Cheese, 17 Rolls, and Jello for Dessert. Amazing. But.. this cruise.. he discovered something immediately on the Every Day Appetizer selection..... Nacho Chips with Guacamole and Salsa! Who needs Shrimp Cocktail??

I do not really remember what we ate that night, only that it was good as usual. I do know that I tried Creme Brule for the first time and while it was good, it wasn't my favorite!!

After dinner... it was time for a tradition.. that I can't wait for the time when we do not have to participate... and that is the Camp Carnival Dance Party! DD started cruising at 2, and this being her 7th cruise, is something she looks forward to. The little kids with their parents dance to YMCA, Cha Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle .. and play the popping balloon games. This party has not changed for years and the kids LOVE IT!! Funship Freddy made a quick appearance as well. It is one of those things that we do because we truly believe in not ditching the kids 24/7 - would we rather be at the casino? watching a show? karoeke (how the heck do you spell that?)? .. sure... but watching our little girl laugh and dance is really what its all about...




Yes, there are a lot of pictures of my DD this cruise.. but not as many as the boys.. especially DS1. Why?? Because.. well, after that first night, he was never to be seen again!! Club 02 is on the fourth deck, in a hallway by itself with Circle C. We peeked in that first night and there were a good 20 or 30 teens just staring at each other.. but by that first night, they were best friends. Mission accomplished by DS1! DS2.. now thats another story... we returned to our Cabin after the Dance Party to find him and his Ipod relaxing in his bed...

We had thought about going to the Welcome Aboard show.. but we knew two things.. 1) I think I have the dance and songs memorized.. and 2) Highlights would be on the TV for the next seven days... so .. while many were drinking, dancing, gambling, and going back to the buffet... we decided to call it a night and get our rest for a wonderful day at sea....

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Sunday 8/21 - Day at Sea


We love days at sea. No plans... just people relaxing, hanging out, activities, sunshine, music, good food... to us, that is cruising. This day was no different, except that relaxation was #1 on my mind.


Because we had a relatively early night, our morning came pretty easily. We had breakfast on the Lido deck.. visiting the Omelet stations for Egg White Omelets. Breakfast is a pretty light fare for us.. Omelets, Cereal and Fruit. The kids are quite happy with just cereal and a cinnamon bun. We are not coffee drinkers, so the OJ was fine for us. One thing we noticed more on this cruise than ever... was the amount of food piled on people's plates. I remember our first cruise, we did the same thing. Overwhelmed by the choices, so we ate it all! This year, I realized the less I ate at breakfast, the better I would feel for the rest of the day !


We brought DD to Camp Carnival after breakfast. She was so excited to go! A few notes on Camp Carnival for the 6-8 Group. The locations for Camp Carnival was Deck 11 right above the Lido Deck restaurant. What a great location! The room was HUGE - and well, for that many kids, it needed to be! There were occasional lines signing her in and out, but overall, they were very efficient. The staff this cruise was excellent. Top notch. And for anyone questioning .. is it safe? Yes.. very much so. They checked ID's everytime and after each child entered or left, the gate got locked twice. No exceptions. DD could go to Camp Carnival as much or as little as she wanted... and she went a lot!! She made Tshirts, arts and crafts, songs, games, dancing... they did it all!


Our late morning and early afternoon was spent at the Serenity Deck. What a nice quiet place!


We relaxed here for a while... I started to read my book... under the shade.. perfect. Chair hogs in this area took over one of the round couches for two with the clam shell, but security came about an hour later and removed their stuff. We then asked if we could use it .. and it was ours. When the people returned, they were not upset at all.. shrugged their shoulders and said.. at least we tried! We loved our private outdoor bed for two with the sunshade! I wanted to stay there all day! I read a bit, napped a little..then ventured off for a few minutes and got some pizza to bring back there for lunch. But then we realized our quiet time was over, as it was time to pick up DD from Camp. :)


Our afternoon was spent in the pool.. listening to music, playing with the kids.. just hanging out. We also had our free entry into the Slot Tournament.... a pretty fun Platinum Benefit. There was no wait, and we played our round..and didn't even come close to the leader board. For the first cruise ever, I did not put one dime into a slot machine. I am still amazed I can admit that!


Before we knew it, it was time to return to the cabin to get ready for Formal Night......but our DD made an request... "Can I have dinner with Camp Carnival??" Huh? And NOT get dressed up? But I brought your beautiful dress? Then DH and I looked at each other.. and said... WHATEVER!! She was excited to go to the Pasta Bar area with her friends and have dinner..... and she stayed there for the night activities.

DS1 did not even bring formal clothes.. no way was he getting dressed up... so it was DH, DS2 and Me.



We found our new table.. a booth for four, with a chair at the end. Not the ideal situation, but we knew it would be a rare night when all five of us would be there for dinner!


DS2 had his usual, I had the Prime Rib and DH had not one, not two, but three lobsters.. they were TINY!! Being from RI, we have had lobsters on occasion, and these were lobster babies. But no worries, they kept on coming! Ayu was our new Server and she was very pleasant, but her assistant was SO SLOW. We knew we were going to have some relaxing dinners this cruise... no rushing here!


After dinner, DS2 went off to the Circle C Activites. We walked around and checked on DS1, then made our way back to Serenity area.. where we were all alone. We found our Clam Shell couch again... and watched the sunset. We needed this alone time.. just saying NOTHING.. just breathing the fresh air.. trying to rid ourselves of all the stresses that life presents. We needed this night.



We stopped by the Piano Bar to see Milburn play. He was pretty good, not the best, not the worst we have seen. He really liked himself however.. and he had a bunch of gimmicky glasses, hats etc.. that were a bit cheezy. We ended up here a few nights however.. really nice fun crowd!


At 10, it was time to pick up DD at Camp. She had a terrific night... we stopped by the Ice Cream machine for our late night treat.. and headed to bed... Cozumel tomorrow!


The stranger who is our oldest son showed up right at curfew. What did you do tonight? "Hung out". With who? "Kids". What did you do? "Chilled". Ok.. thanks for sharing, glad you are back. Goodnight.

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