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mitsugirly

1st time Carnival cruiser (DREAM) complete review & pictorial (from a NCL cruiser)

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Hello. This will be my first review of a Carnival ship…because it’s my first Carnival cruise. I normally cruise with NCL and the only other ship line that I have cruised on is RCI. I’m not too familiar with Carnival and may not know most of you on here. However, I do thorough reviews and pictorials on NCL (and they seem to just get longer with each review), but many of you have run across me on the port boards or have been referred to some of my reviews regarding the ports of call.

 

 

 

I am laid back, not too hard to please, enjoy cruising and try to have a good time no matter what. I have a quirky sense of humor (as does my husband) and I tell my stories through my eyes, my experiences, and my opinions of the cruise and ports. I realize that everyone has a different experience (even if they are on the same cruise or at the same excursion) and everyone has a different level of tolerance or views of what their “perfect” cruise is. We are all unique in our own way and that’s what makes the world a great place of diversity. I don’t expect everyone to agree or disagree with my views. When I research a ship or a port, I do EXTENSIVE research to find that perfect place for US. I take everyone’s reviews into consideration, but yet with a grain of salt. I like to form my own opinions and experience things for myself. My reviews are just to share MY experience and I try to be as helpful as I possibly can to others by explaining things and showing as many pictures as I can so that others can get a feeling for the place.

 

 

 

A little about me. I’m 47 and have been cruising since the late 80’s with my first cruise being with NCL. I took a break for a while after the 90’s and did not start cruising again until 2010. We now try to cruise at least twice a year. I’m very limited as to the times that I can cruise. I’m a Nursing student (since 2010) and will not graduate until May of next year. My only opportunities to cruise are in between semesters (which only gives me 3 dates to choose from each year). I work at the local hospital (since 1984) and work in the emergency room (which also happens to be a trauma hospital). I am a mother of 4, 3 adult children and a perky, just turned 5 year old. I am a grandmother of 2, basically the same ages as my 5 year old (grandson is 3 months younger than my daughter and granddaughter is 7 months younger). Yes, they keep us on our toes. So, I’m young at heart and love to have a good time.

 

 

We took our youngest daughter with us cruising when she was 3 years old. She has 4 cruises under her belt now and she is just as addicted as I am to cruising. It’s all she talks about and begs to do. Oops. She always goes with us now since she did so well on her first cruise. My oldest daughter (24 years old) cruises with us sometimes. This Dream cruise was my grandsons (her sons) first cruise. My oldest son (now 26) and my youngest son (now 18 and graduating next Saturday…yikes where has the time went?) have only been on 1 cruise and that was back in the 90’s when they were younger. I hope to get them all on a cruise together with us some time in the future.

 

 

So that’s my story and the basics about me…now on the FUN!!! THE REVIEW!!! I hope you enjoy. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

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As I have said, I usually cruise with NCL, so this was my first Carnival cruise. I have several friends that have cruised with Carnival and several others that cruise exclusively with Carnival. They always have a great time. I have always wanted to try Carnival, but somehow manage to book with NCL again. I did a lot of research and I have to say most people are so negative about Carnival, especially with all of the negative publicity lately in the news. Due to that negative publicity, I felt that the prices reduced enough to make me at least give it a try. Also, NCL pulled all of their ships out of the Caribbean during the summer months and what choice did I have if I wanted to cruise during that time that I have in between semesters? Pshh, I’ll give it a try. People warned me about the bad service, the bad food, the lousy entertainment, the bad ships…but as I stated before, I like to form my own opinion. So we booked. I went with an open mind and no opinions formed, keeping everything in the back of my mind knowing that I would not let things get to me if they were true. After all, I was on vacation, I had the MOST STRESSFUL semester I have ever had and needed this vacation, and anything is better than being at home, at work, or at school. LET THE FUN BEGIN!

 

Well, my oldest daughter’s boyfriend is scared of planes. So, when they cruise with us, he insists in driving. He claims a road trip in enjoyable and looking at the scenery is fulfilling. RIGHT!!!! I love nothing more than being cooped up in a vehicle for 15-20+ on the way to Florida having to pee every hour, legs cramping and starring at that same beautiful black paved roads with those little white stripes on the road flying by you at 70+ mph scenery more than getting on a plane a jetting off in about 3 hours. Yep, I’ll take driving any day over that. (HUMOR at its best). Sigh.

 

I won’t bore you with the details of our 2 days of driving and the fights between the 2 little ones along the way or the van we took that liked to spew gas out every minute of pumping losing about $5 worth every fill up. On to our arrival in the Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach area.

 

We booked with Ron Jon for our precruise stay. The place just looked amazing with so much to do. We knew the little ones were going to love this place (and truth be known, we were too).

 

Pulling up to the resort, looks nice, beautifully landscaped, flowers, fountains, stone driveway:

 

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Great start Mitsu, I can't wait to read more about your cruise. We have decided and we will be sailing the Breeze at some time this summer.

 

We had a great time in Bermuda, you should give a try some time. :)

 

Keep up the good work!

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This looked like a huge resort and the excitement was building.

 

We pulled up at the turnaround and went to go check in. All I could do is smile and think "wow" to myself. It was even more beautiful inside!

 

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So it was a fairly easy check in. For those of you wanting to stay here, they do have a weird check-in, check-out time (according to them). Their check in time is at 3pm. They do however tell you that you are welcome to come to the resort to check in earlier but you will not be able to go to your room at that time. They will store your luggage for you and you can have full use to their facilities until the "actual" check-in time. This is an added plus (although we had planned on arriving much earlier to take advantage of this, we actually arrived at 2:45pm and was able to go straight to our rooms).

 

This is heading toward the elevators:

 

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The elevators take you up to one of the many floors and when you get off the elevators you have a spectacular view at a window of the foyer entrance. You feel like you are still inside a hotel, but you start to walk down the hall and you are outside. The view along our walkway (or the "front" of our, what felt like a house), was the putt-putt grounds (or at least 1/2 of it as I'll go in to details later about that):

 

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When you walk in to your room, you are in a long winding wide hallway.

 

The first room you come to was the bedroom. It had a window viewing the front of the place (the putt-putt area), 2 beds, a closet, a dresser and a flat screen tv. It also had a ceiling fan.

 

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On the opposite side of the hallway you will find several doors. One was a closet, another the heating/air and hot water tank, another was the washer and dryer (they supplied a box of detergent and this was a stackable washer/dryer set) and the last door was a utility closet that had all the dishes/pans/glasses and a basket with your towels in it for swimming.

 

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Edited by mitsugirly

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Next door was the bathroom. It was a pretty nice size and nicely decorated with a stand up shower. Now I have to say, this shower would BEAT you to death. It was the most uncomfortable shower I have ever been in. I tried turning it to different settings and there was just no adjustment that would stop it pounding on you.

 

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I had either read or heard that Ron Jon does towel animals. I did not see any. Maybe it was just because we only stayed one night, but some how I don't see it even if we stayed longer and I'll get in to that later.

 

After the bathroom, you have your kitchen area. It had everything you could want our need and our first priority was getting our soda in the refridgerator to keep it nice and cool for what seemed to be such a hot day.

 

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The kitchen came equipped with dish detergent for the sink and also detergent for the dishwasher. Now all of these "supplies" they gave that I have mentioned are small trail size supplies. Not something that would last for an entire week IMO.

 

On the other side of the kitchen was the dining room table. One side was a bench chair (along the wall) and the other side were regular chairs. It was pretty big.

 

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Looking in from the living room

 

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What a letdown! I got to the end and no more! :(

 

Hurry, please I'm waiting for more. :)

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The living room sofa also pulled out in to a bed for added space.

 

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Behind the blinds there was a HUGE balcony which included a table and some chairs.

 

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Standing outside on the balcony was this beautiful view of the water park. Oh my...I (I mean the kids) couldn't wait to get unloaded and down to the water park. woo hoo

 

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We quickly threw the luggage in and got dressed for the pool! No need for unpacking, just find me my bathing suit and lets go.

 

This was your "I'm a special Ron Jon Resort person" identification tag. You had to wear these the entire time you were at the resort. My youngest didn't care for this idea too much and constantly begged to have hers removed. A quick threat of no pool time or fun time eliminated this argument several times during the day and night.

 

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A huge beautiful mural toward the back of the lobby area heading out to the pool

 

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Great start Mitsu, I can't wait to read more about your cruise. We have decided and we will be sailing the Breeze at some time this summer.

 

We had a great time in Bermuda, you should give a try some time. :)

 

Keep up the good work!

 

Welcome Gambee. It's a honor to have you with me. I can't wait to hear about your Breeze cruise this summer. It's one of my considerations and of course I WILL make it to Bermuda! :D

 

What a letdown! I got to the end and no more! :(

 

Hurry, please I'm waiting for more. :)

 

Pshh, I'm just getting started Rockee...I'll be around for probably weeks getting this review done. LOL :p :o

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We arrived to the GATED pool area. You have a have a key card to get in. They also do not allow any coolers in the area. You could bring your drink, just not the cooler to keep it cold. There were a few coolers sitting outside the gate. LOL

 

I knew it was hot that day and they had this to remind just how hot it was:

 

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We found our "spot" to put our things...not like it mattered, we wouldn't be staying there because there was just too much fun to be had that day.

 

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There is a lot of room around the pools, the water park, the lazy river and so on. Pleanty of room and chairs. Any spot you picked would be considered prime real estate in my book. It was just so pretty.

 

We immediately headed for the lazy river. What better way to get use to the water temperature than going in slowly, then getting dumped on at any unknown time by the water contraptions located above you and beside you as you float along. However, the water was a NICE temp. No shocks to the system when you entered. It was fabulous. Well, I guess I would have to ask my oldest daughter how she felt...considering the picture below:

 

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I think it had her approval here:

 

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These got me a few times even after my beautiful arm flinging skills tried to divert me away...it didn't work out too well in the end and it was bath time for me as I floated by.

 

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Here are the official Ron Jon showers...who would have thought that a surfer guy would come up with this as an idea. hehe

 

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After a couple of times around the lazy river, we (my youngest) was yelled at for not being in a tube (I guess they require you to be in a tube to float down the river, who would have thought?). She could stand up in the water and she can swim and was just floating along, but they wanted her in a tube. These tubes are H-U-G-E. There's no way that she could sit in one by herself. So this forced her to have to ride with one of us. She was not happy about it.

 

So, we decided to head to the slides.

 

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When my little one went down, she was sitting up (which they tell you to do). My oldest daughter was going after her and I was down below filming. She said that "sissy" started by sitting up, fell over, flipped around sideways, went on to her stomach and then on to her stomach.

 

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When she got down to us, she was almost in the splits position and face down. After that, she didn't want to go on the slide again. Her wish was our command and she wanted to head to the kiddie water park. Off we went trying to make up for the turmoil she had just experienced.

 

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There was lots of spraying to be done and she was on a mission. It was rest time for me and I decided to just watch from a distance.

 

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What was that I just heard? Was that a ship horn???? I jumped up from my "rest" and looked behind me to find that the RCI ship was sailing away from port. I raced to try to get a good picture, but there were just too many trees. I headed up to one of the decks over by the water slide only to find out that the channel must turn because the ship was going in the opposite direction and I was only catching the back end of it now. Darn.

 

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Always love your reviews... Thanks for taking the time to do these!!

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I was already up now so we might as well head to the next event...the LARGE pool.

 

As always, my little one jumped right in and off she went swimming (it's her FAVORITE thing to do. She is a little fish. If there's water, she's there).

 

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My oldest wanted a picture by the waterfalls along the pool wall:

 

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There was a step there (in the water) and you could sit there and relax...if you wanted water from the falls hitting you here and there. hehe I think I would take it over the shower any day.

 

For some reason everyone decided they wanted to throw the kids in the air:

 

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Some made it higher than others

 

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And some didn't make it high at all. Some (meaning my oldest) got jealous and needed in on the action too..and she would be one of the ones that didn't make it too high. Hmmm, I wonder why. (We are all kids at heart).

 

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The big kids headed to the bar for some drinks and I'm not sure what she came back with, but it was yummy and it was happy hour. hehe

 

We continued to water log ourselves while I started hearing weird sounds every time I was under water. Oh wait, that was my belly starting to growl. We hadn't ate since breakfast about 8am that morning and it was getting close to 6pm.

 

I managed to get a few hundred more pictures before we left the pool area.

 

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Then back up to the room we went to change and get ready to eat some lunch/dinner for us.

 

We headed to the restaurant on the premises. I loved the way it was decorated. Everything looked so "South Beach" here to me with the vivid colors. I love vibrancy.

 

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I managed to snap some pictures of the menus. I really didn't think the prices were too bad, especially considering it was a resort and a lot of people don't go off the premisis for fear of losing that prime parking spot in the garage if you do leave. Did I mention we were driving an extended van? You know the one that is higher and longer? We managed to hit the ceiling coming in the garage and was lucky enough to get the very first parking spot as you pull in thank goodness.

 

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We ended up getting a burger platter with french fries and the hubby ordered the same thing but wanted a side salad in addition to the platter. The food was good. We all ate everything on the plate and it was filling.

 

The waitress came with our bills and I discovered that she had charged for my husbands platter an extra $2. It was $9.99 and she charged $11.99 plus charged an extra $2.95 on top of that for his "side" salad and $2.50 for the fries??? I quickly brought that her attention and she actually argued with me about it. Said the fries were $2.50 and a salad was $2.95. Um, first of all they fries COME with the meal WHICH is $9.99 to being with, not $11.99 and the SIDE salad was suppose to be an extra $1.50. After about 5 minutes of arguing about it :eek: she ask if I wanted her to just take it all off the bill. No, I don't expect you to remove the meal off the bill, just make it right. Charge me the $9.99 for the meal and the $1.50 extra for the salad. How hard is that??? She acted a little perturbed about it, but eventually she fixed it and did it with attitude. Geesh. I wasn't asking for a free meal, just to charge me the right amount.

 

Ok, now that my blood was boiling, it was time to head outside for a bit. This restaurant was an indoor/outdoor restaurant and you could chose where you wanted to eat. Obviously we was inside, but wanted to go outside to see too.

 

It was just your typical outside bar area.

 

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We decided to go check out the premisis a little more and of course more pictures to add to my SD card that was now in overload.

 

Escalators that led from the main lobby up to the second floor.

 

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There was a sitting area up there and a place to over look the main lobby and of course wonderful picture opportunities up there as well.

 

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They had a conference room up there and this lovely astronaut. I kept expecting to find a surf board attached to his back, but I guess it was in the shop for repair that day. (I mean this is Ron Jon after all)

 

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There was a huge replica of the grounds up there. I can't believe how big this resort actually was. It wasn't just the buildings that were surrounding the pool/water park area but it actually extends to the side and all the way back to the ocean. There is part of the resort back there too (I guess for those that wanted to be on the ocean instead) and they have plenty of land for expansion. I believe I read more buildings are in the works???

 

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I had to take a picture of the back half, by the ocean, resort because they actually had swimmers and a loch ness monster coming out of the water. So what is significant about this? My daughter has that same exact toy at home. LOL I know she wondered how they got it.

 

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A little more exploring around brought us to the game room. It wasn't your normal hole in the wall game room either. This was a huge game room.

 

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I had to take a picture of this game because our last cruise had this on the ship and everyone was always trying for the grand prize.

 

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I believe this was a "teen" room. It had a huge tv with games and controllers...maybe wii? It reminded me of one of my sons rooms growing up.

 

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They also had a movie theater and it was kind of neat. They were showing movies all day and there were people in there so I didn't find it appropriate to go in and take a picture, as much as I was compelled to, during the movie. But there was a "viewing" window in the room before going in to the theater that you could look in and see the place, the movie showing, and the people watching it. Kinda neat...just not enough time in our day to do it.

 

They have a huge indoor playroom for the kids (yes, my big kid too had to go in there as she always does). The little ones loved it and played for awhile.

 

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A repeat of the water slides??? No, I think this was intentional.

 

 

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Off to the side in this room were several activity areas for the kids.

 

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Outside on top of the parking garage was a basketball court. We just wanted to go check it out. It was a chore trying to figure out how to get to it. Up the elevators...wrong floor, down the elevator, wrong floor, walking the steps checking each floor until we finally figured it out.

 

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Once we arrived, we found at that you had to go to the main desk back at the entrance to get the basketballs. Ehh, ok, no time for that.

 

I snapped a picture of the sign they had up...(knowing this was funny because of it being a surfer dudes place and you see these signs everywhere...just not to this extent).

 

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My husband is a skater and he found great humor in this.

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I was fascinated by the "surfer/beach" themed wallpaper in the restrooms.

 

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We decided it was a time for a little putt-putt and headed back to the main desk anyhow to pick up our clubs and balls.

 

Here we go. My youngest insisted on holding the club the wrong way each time. She also insisted on not letting us correct her and would pick up the ball after her first hit and take it to the end and put it by the tee and knock it in. Since there were 6 of us playing, I wasn't about to tell her any different and let her hurry along so that we had a turn.

 

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My grandson however thought we were playing golf and whacked the ball like the tee was 2 football fields away. Thank goodness no one was around.

 

Wait surfboards on a golf course? Whoda thought?

 

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After awhile (and by awhile, I mean 2 minutes), my grandson was bored with golfing and would rather just play on the ship/fountain area. :rolleyes: Yes, I sometimes (well almost always) pretend I don't know these people.

 

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My little one found a snail and she made it her friend for the rest of the night.

 

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She was really upset when we made her let it go at the end of the night and worried that it would be ok without her "help". She's a very caring and nurturing child and LOVES animals of all types...even the slimy ones.

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It was starting to get dark and we decided that we had to at least walk to the beach before turning in. It was a bit of a walk...or at least it seemed like it due to the fact that we couldn't figure out how to get there. We tried going down a road and didn't get far because there was a gate. We walked around the building and out toward the pool area but not into the pool gate. We thought for sure it was leading us around...not. Once again a gate. We headed into the pool area thinking we could get out toward the back...again, no exit. We were trapped!!! This is a resort that doesn't ever want you to leave...ever. You can't go anywhere. I would be perfectly happy with this but hey, I had a cruise to catch the following day. Nicely thought out Mr Jon.

 

This darn black fence that held us hostage.

 

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FINALLY, we found a way out and headed down the Ron Jon road that the golf carts park at. I think they will transport you back and forth from resorts during the day. We made it back to the other resort and there was the usual deck walkway to the beach to keep you off of the dunes. It was nice and lit up.

 

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By the time we arrived, of course it was dark. Too dark to see much of anything. But we made it and can say we were at the beach. :D The last time we were ever at Cocoa Beach was on our honeymoon 7 years ago.

 

I had to draw in the sand and took multiple pictures not knowing if it would turn out or not.

 

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Then it was back to the room to get our massage, I mean shower and wind down for bed. It was going to be a big day tomorrow and we were looking forward to our "new" Dream experience.

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Up early and ready for our day to begin. I was excited to get on the Dream but yet we were not too rushed.

 

Ron Jon has a strict 10am check out time. No exceptions. They will charge you extra if you are late. When we were packing up our few things and preparing for check-out, my daughter was sitting on the couch looking at a book that came with the room. It had your normal things to do around there and the "house rules". Well the more she read, the more we learned.

 

There were several "rules" to staying at this place than I was aware of. You have to do all of your dishes, including loading the dishwasher and washing the dishes prior to leaving. All of your linens needed to be removed and put in a pile by the washer. All of your towels needed to be put by the washer. I can't remember if you actually had to put them in the washer and start it. I know we didn't because the night before my daughter had already used the trial sized laundry detergent to wash with so there wasn't any left. All trash had to be emptied, new trash bags inserted, and the trash had to be taken out to the trash chute on the premises. Of course everything had to be clean and there was a broom for sweeping. They wanted this place spick and span cleaned prior to leaving in order not to charge you. I know these places are time shares and have an official "owner", but really? I'm paying big bucks to stay in a place like this, I DON'T expect to have to do everything when I leave including the dishes and laundry. That's what you pay your housekeeping staff for. When I'm on vacation, I guess I expect to not have to do all the cleaning. :cool:

 

So we get down to the check out and it went fairly quickly. I had noticed that upon check-in, when they wrote out our "car parking tag" to hang in the window it only said for 1 night. So, we had to get that changed for the week since we were leaving our vehicle there at the resort while cruising. They did however tell us that we had to move the vehicle out of the garage and back to one of the back parking lots...which happen to be one of the lots we walked through on our way to the beach.

 

We decided since we had to move the van, we would just drive down the street and find something to eat since we were all starving. They provided a really nice map with a listing of everything around the area and the places to eat. We were informed since it was going on 10:30 that we had probably missed breakfast. :( Ron Jon had a room close to the check-in and they were nice enough to take all of our luggage and store it in there while we went to eat. We found McDonalds and was excited to see that they indeed was still serving breakfast and at this point it was probably after 11am by the time we waited in the long line to get up to the register.

 

When we returned from eating and parking the car, I ask the person at the front desk to call for a cab and provided her with the number I wanted. I remember prior to leaving for the cruise that someone on here mentioned that there wasn't any regulated taxi fees there and it was pretty much pay what you want. Well, I'm here to tell you that's not true. They do have meters and they do charge you according to the meter. However, the day before I did see the "Pay What You Want" taxi pull up out front. So, this is an actual taxi service, not a regular taxi rule. It's just that company. I did copy down the number for us to use the next day. So the lady at the front desk called for us and they said they would be there in about 20 minutes.

 

We waited for a good 45 minutes or so and I called them myself explaining when we had called and to let them know we were still patiently waiting. They told us the driver was on his way and would be there within the next 15 minutes. I knew all I had to do was wonder off to the restroom in the building and he would surely come. I was right. It never fails. We packed all of our luggage into the mini-van and off we went.

 

Here we come Dream!!! :D

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We pull up in to this luggage unloading area that is away from the check-in or the ship. This is the first time I had experienced this and wasn't sure what to do. They have you wait in the vehicle until one of the porters tell you where to pull. We waited and waited and waited. Sigh.

 

When it was finally our turn to pull up, they quickly unloaded the luggage and we were swarmed with love bugs. OH-EM-GEE!! They were everywhere and unavoidable. It must be mating season or something. I have never seen so many. They were so annoying and hitting you in the face, hitch hiking rides on your back and in your hair. Totally gross. I don't know what it was with this area but the workers acted as if they weren't even there. They must be use to it. Mean while, I was doing every karate kid move I could think of swatting them away. We found that the further we got away from the baggage area (which was in the open in a parking lot) the better the situation got. When we were done, we had no idea what to do or where to go. We got the "I will take care of your luggage from here on out and make sure it will arrive safely on the ship" speel from the porter and then of course the added "This is the last time you will see me" deal...meaning give me my tip now if you ever want to see your luggage alive again. :p

 

We walked under a tunnel and over to the port. In the doors, through the carry on check-in and metal detectors and pulled aside for them to "check" our carry on (soda) to make sure it was actually soda we were smuggling on the ship. Then off to ship check-in. Up to the window, handed the passports, ask how we'd like to take care of our account for the cruise, handed our cards and directed another way for pictures. Are you serious? It was just that quick and that easy? WOW...this was simply AMAZING!! I have never been through a check in this quick in all of my cruises...ever! I think I'm still in shock. Way to go Carnival. For those of you wanting to know when I checked in, it was some time around 12:30-12:45. It was so fast that I didn't even have time to check the time because there was no wait at all. People were moving right along without stopping.

 

We got up to the "picture" taking (the big green screen) and they said 1 at a time. Um, we can't all be in the picture together? Gasp. I want family pictures of us all together. Rip offs trying to get more money out of us by making us have to buy 3 pictures of us for our cruise memories. :D Yea, I'm a Carnival newbie. I thought we were posting for our pictures we take that they put the ship in the background and you later purchase on board. Laugh if you want. I know these photographers thought I was a weirdo asking for my husband and daughter to be in the picture with me. We are use to NCL taking our pictures at the actual check-in desk a step before this part.

 

So my mug shot was done and away we went again...FINALLY, the actual place that we get our "family" picture done. :p I was a happy camper but since they confused me earlier, I made them work for it. A few pictures of us, some of my oldest daughters family, then some of us ALL together. I have my I <3 cruising girlie girl shirt on. hehe

 

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...then off we went up the gangway to our beautiful Dream. :)

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