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First time Cruisers just off the Dream 7/6-7/13


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Welcome! We are a family of 3, Husband (J), Wife (Amy) and 10-year old daughter (H). This is our first cruise and we booked it about 3 weeks out from departure. I read and read and read reviews on Cruise Critic and all the information was very helpful so I decided to write down our experience and if at least one person gets some good information from this than I will be happy!! It’s my honest opinions and I hope it offends no one. I wrote this in real time each night while we were on the cruise. I am happy to answer any questions so feel free to ask.

 

I have the Fun Times and the Camp Carnival Schedule scanned if anyone would like me to post them please let me know.

 

Disclaimer: I had good intentions but I am terrible at taking pictures and forget constantly and this vacation was no exception ☹ There is not one picture of any of the food we ate and very few from the ship. However, any pictures we did take were with a Nikon Coolpix Waterproof Camera, really cool purchase on J’s part for this trip! Soooo, if you like a super picture intense post, this one won't be for you.

 

 

Carnival Dream out of New Orleans, LA

Balcony Room 9256

July 6 – July 13, 2014

Cozumel, Mexico

Belize City, Belize

Mahogany Bay, Roatan

 

July 5, 2014 (Pre-Cruise Day)

 

We had originally planned to drive from Houston the day the cruise departed but at the last minute we changed our minds and decided to drive in the day before so we wouldn’t be so tired the day our cruise started. Since a few people on the CC Roll Call mentioned hotel rooms were hard to come by in New Orleans due to the music festival that weekend, we did a quick Google search and found a Holiday Inn Express in Gonzales (60 miles outside of New Orleans) and made a reservation online. The hotel was brand new, impeccably clean, said it had a decent breakfast to offer and worked out perfectly. (Only complaint was the A/C in the room was crazy loud but we are all good sleepers so it didn’t bother us too much). It took us 6 hours to get to Gonzales from Houston – a normally 4 hour or so trip but we stopped in Lake Charles for lunch and a little shopping, and in Lafayette for Saturday evening Mass and a quick trip to Wal-Mart to pick up a few forgotten items. Once we checked in we were ready for dinner so we Yelped (such a useful App!) a good place to eat close to the hotel, hopped over to The El Paso for fajitas – delicious, fast and fairly inexpensive and then called it a night!! One night at the Holiday Inn Express was $106 total.

Holiday Inn Express, Gonzales, LA.

 

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July 6, 2014 (Day 1, Embarkation Day)

 

We woke up early, packed up and headed down to the hotel breakfast, which was perfectly ample for a quick bite and then hit the road for the hour ride to NOLA. We arrived at the cruise terminal parking lot at about 10:30 a.m. and had to wait a few minutes to get in but it wasn’t bad. Then we dropped our bags with the porters (turns out I packed way too much stuff, I was nervous since it was our first cruise and packed like it was the end of the world – lesson learned!) We parked and headed inside to check in. As we were walking through the parking lot there were families with way more suitcases than we had so I guess I wasn’t the only one that packed everything they own! It was $112 to park at the terminal.

 

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Between security, check-in and loading by the zone 14 card we received, it took about an hour. We were at the Lido Deck and having lunch by 11:45 a.m. The buffet was nice and since we were still pretty early the line wasn’t bad. J had some pizza that was really good for being made right there on the spot so quickly. Then J&H ditched me with our backpacks and headed off to explore. They ended up playing mini-golf and said it was fun. The clubs and the golf balls are out in the open by hole #1, they do not have to be checked out.

 

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At 1:30 p.m. we headed to the room and were surprised to see our bags were already outside the door and our case of water that we had pre-purchased was already there. On the way to our room we ran into a family from the 7/6 Dream FB page I had joined, they also had a 10 year old girl and the mom and I had messaged a few times as had the girls. They were headed up to the slides and when H realized she had her swimsuit available to her since our bags had arrived she talked J into a trip to the slides with them while I unpacked. (Easier without them in the room anyway ;-) We planned to meet up for the Muster Drill in the Encore Theater, Deck 4 at 3:15 p.m. (which is the time they told us when we checked in). They arrived but the drill didn’t actually start until about 4:15 p.m. so we just hung out and waited. Next time I will wait for the announcement now that I know how it works. Once it was over, we just stayed there for the Camp Carnival meeting that was 15 minutes later. That was quick especially since I had filled out the registration online previously. Since the Muster Drill ran so late and we had to stay for the Camp Carnival meeting we missed the send off party on Deck 10. In fact I had no idea we had left the port until I left the meeting and came back to our room.

 

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J&H headed back to the slides while I finished organizing the room. The room has a decent amount of storage but I will say that I was glad I had brought extra hangers, the over the door shoe rack thing, suction hooks, the mesh shower caddy and magnetic chip clips (all recommended by other CC members). It made unpacking and finding a place for everything very easy! Our suitcases fit just fine under the bed. The balcony is a little worse for wear but I found that to be the case everywhere we have been on the ship so far. It just sort of seems like an older hotel to me – the carpet in the room is worn, 2 of the light switches are broken / missing pieces and the desk laminate is peeling up. Not a big deal, just a side note. The room is in a really great location, close to the stairs and elevators. It is nice being close to Deck 10 and we had made sure that there were rooms right above/below so it should be nice and quiet also. No complaints about the location at all. Once J&H returned from the slides we ran into the Room Steward who was very nice and then we headed out for the Welcome Aboard Show. It was a good way to kick off the week but we had to leave a few minutes early to make it to dinner for the 8:15 p.m. sitting. (Scarlet Dining Room, Upper, Deck 4)

 

Our tablemates are very pleasant and super excited to be on their second cruise!! It turned out they were in the same Facebook group I had joined and so we had plenty of things to talk about over the meal. The food was good and there was a good selection. All together we were there about an hour and a half. The wait staff was very good and attentive, there is always someone there to get you whatever you need. It was getting late and H was crashing on us so we called it a night.

In the MDR we chose…

Me: Shrimp Cocktail and Grilled Chicken and Veggies

J: Wedge Salad, Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Crème Brule

H: Wedge Salad, Chicken Nuggets, Fries and Brownies

 

Once we arrived back at the room and H was having a shower the drain backed up and flooded the whole bathroom ☹. We called and they sent a plumber right up. He messed with it and fixed it in about 10 minutes and then they replaced all our towels since we had to use them to catch all the water. Kind of a pain in the butt but they were very quick to fix it so no harm done.

 

Tomorrow: First Sea Day, H heads to Camp Carnival (with her pal from the FB group) and J & I join the Cabin Crawl from the same group!!

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July 7, 2014 (Day 2, Sea Day)

 

No matter what time H goes to sleep at night, she is up with the sun…even on vacation! So we were up and at the Lido Deck Buffet by 7:15 a.m. The line was pretty short since it was the crack of dawn; we waited in line for about 5 minutes and then picked a table outside by the pool to eat. It was beautiful and breezy, perfect for sitting outside. The food was ok and we didn’t think the selection was all that fabulous (there was no fruit!), until we were done eating and were walking to the back of the ship to check it out and found a whole other buffet with fruits and breads and all sort of other things! So now we know where to go tomorrow! We came back to the room for a while and then H headed off to Camp Carnival with her friend and J and I were off to the Cabin Crawl at 11:00am with the cruise FB Group.

 

 

THANK YOU to Kim from the 7/6 Dream FB page for organizing the Cabin Crawl! We met up at the Red Frog Pub and off we went to see loads of different rooms – totally fascinating for a first time cruiser who had no idea what to expect! I loved the Port Hole windows, the Cove Balcony and the Aft Balcony too! We saw Spa rooms and a Handicapped Accessible room and more. It was really fun and the people were all so nice! Once that was over, I went to pick up H from Camp Carnival for lunch. We hit the Lido Deck BBQ for sliders and quesadillas, both very yummy and the line wasn’t too long, we waited about 10 minutes. Then we were off to the slides and the pool with H and her friend’s very nice family! The kids had a blast and J and I enjoyed visiting with them. The pool we chose was at the back of Deck 10, they were both super crowded (and really IMO should be larger for the amount of people the ship holds) but things were going fine until a fight broke out and security had to be called to haul out a few people. We had the kids get out and take a break and once all the commotion cleared they went back in for a bit.

 

Time flies when your having fun! Before we knew it we needed to come back to the room and get ready for the 8 More Seconds show and then off to Cruise Elegant night in MDR. The show was ok. H hit the nail on the head when she said it reminded her of a show we saw at Six Flags. We left a few minutes early and headed to the MDR for dinner. The line to get in was crazy long outside the dining room but once they opened the doors we were in and seated very quickly. The food is decent but honestly so far I don’t find it anything to write home about. They certainly do an amazing job feeding thousands of people each night!! We have no complaints what so ever.

Me: Veggie Spring Rolls (yummy), Lobster and Shrimp (my Lobster was overcooked ☹)

H: Salad, Grilled Chicken Breast and Veggies that I had had the night before and she really liked it.

J: Alligator Fritters, Shrimp and Lobster (he agreed that it was over cooked) and he also got the Prime Rib, which he said was very good. We were all so full none of us had dessert until later!

 

After dinner we hit the shops to see if there was anything we “needed” but came away empty handed. J was eyeing a watch pretty seriously, just wait, I bet it comes home with us! We hit Deck 10 for an ice cream cone and headed back to the room. By then it was 11:00pm and we had to wake up early for our excursion in Cozumel! All in all it was a fun and relaxing day.

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July 8, 2014 (Day 3, Cozumel, Mexico)

Beach Buggy & Snorkel booked through Carnival.

Departs at 8:30am from the Encore Theater Deck 3.

 

Woke up early, headed to the Lido Deck for buffet breakfast and sat outside so we could watch the ship pull into the dock. 4 ships came in and docked at the same time, Carnival Dream, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Legend and RC Navigator of the Seas, it was super cool to watch. After breakfast we headed to the Encore Theater to meet the tour guides, Monte and Mauricio (spelling?). They had us check-in, give them our tickets (which Carnival had left at our door the day before) and sign a waiver.

 

We walked off the ship and through the terminal as a group and were all assigned to our buggies. They were super fun to drive/ride in! The buggy was definitely used and abused but it ran just fine. We drove about 10 minutes in a caravan and stopped at Playa Corona (I *think* that’s what it was called, again kicking myself for not taking more pics!). It was a small beach with a bar and some tables to sit at and a place to leave your stuff. They offered masks, snorkels, fins and life jackets (we brought our own masks and snorkels from home). Monte went over a few rules and we followed him into the water. It was not an easy trip into the water. It was very rocky and sharp and they wanted you to walk in fins, which was not easy, lol! As a group everyone followed him and he pointed out a few things but it didn’t sound like there was too much to see. H had some trouble getting started so we lagged behind and missed a few of the fish he did point out. Of course, once she got the hang of it, it was time to go. We were there for about an hour. There was also a bathroom here…it was nothing special but if you HAD to go, there was a place. J ordered a beer when we were packing up, it was $3.50 and the staff was really nice.

 

We were docked right beside the Triumph..

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Carnival Legend and the RC Navigator of the Seas

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Monte pointing out a Tiger Fish, he had hand signals for each kind of fish he pointed out so we would know what he was showing us.

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They also gave us life jackets.

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Next we took our buggies to Explora Beach (about 30 minute ride) for swimming and lunch. Monte gave us a quick informative talk on the history of Cozumel and then we ate. They had a large tent for us to sit under. There was a buffet that included: chicken fajitas on corn tortillas, black beans, rice, some spaghetti looking dish, cut up fruit and chips with queso. It was pretty good considering it was included in the fee, prepared and eaten right on the beach. They also had coolers of sodas and water that were included. If you wanted to order a bar drink there were waiters for that. The water and sand at this beach were very pleasant and we were sad to leave so quickly. I have no clue how long we were actually there. One thing that was tough was there were 5 or 6 people walking around selling jewelry, key chains, pictures with lizards and parrots, etc. A few were nice if you said “no thank you” but a few others were a bit aggressive. Next we drove the buggies back to the cruise terminal but we went a different route than on the way there so we could see more of the city. This trip was about another 30 minutes. Once we got back, we were given a sticker for a free margarita at one of the restaurants in the terminal. We didn’t stop for it though, H was exhausted so we came right back to the ship. Only a few others were in line to get back on, I’m sure since it was still pretty early (about 2:00pm.) Also, they take your picture in the buggy and have it ready for you at the end of the excursion. It was $20 but it was a really good picture so we bought it! **We have a tendency to purchase the cheesy vacation pictures from wherever we are so we always have at least one of the 3 of us together!**

 

Explora? Beach

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Cruising Cozumel

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As soon as we got back and cleaned up J had a nap and H and I headed out for yet another ice cream cone! We laid low playing card games in the room until it was time for the 7pm hypnotist show in the Encore Theater with Asad. It was great fun. H and J got a real kick out of him hypnotizing people from the audience! It was worth going to. After the show we headed off to the MDR for dinner, our server is very good and efficient and our tablemates are just so nice! We never lack of things to talk about and shared about our excursions and what we had planned for the next day.

Me: Caesar Salad, Grilled Chicken Breast and Veggies, Warm melting Chocolate Cake (crazy rich but super yummy)

Husband: Sushi Sampler, Caesar Salad, Jerk Pork (he said it was delicious)

Kid: Vegetable Spring Rolls, Flat Iron Steak (it was good!) Mashed Potatoes, Lemon Cake (she didn’t like it)

 

After dinner we headed off to the Fiesta Dance Party on the Lido deck for a few minutes and listened to the music. People looked like they were having a blast! Then we wandered around and listened to some more music acts and Karaoke. There are some very good singers out there! Stopped off for H to get an ice cream cone…again…and then called it a night since we have to get up and moving early.

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July 9, 2014 (Day 4, Belize City, Belize)

Goff’s Caye, Belize (Not booked through Carnival)

 

 

Up early, buffet breakfast (they have had Salmon Benedict each day but not regular Eggs Benedict so I’m going to have to hit the MDR soon to satisfy my craving!) After that we came back to the room and packed up for today’s excursion. We had no clue where to go to catch a tender so we went down to Deck 0, which is the way we entered the gangway yesterday and were told to head up to Deck 5 to get Tender Sticker and wait. The Carnival personnel on Deck 5 mentioned that there was an announcement today about where to go but we can’t hear them in our room so we missed it. (They really should make it so you can hear the announcements in your room!) It’s also apparently in the Fun Times, but I missed it there too! So we were given Tender #2 stickers and waited about 30 minutes and they made an announcement that they were waiting for the choppy waters to relax and had to reposition the ship and it would be a few more minutes. Our #2 group was called about 20 minutes later and were lead down to the Tender and headed to the port. It was about a 25-minute ride. Once we arrived we found the sign for our excursion, we were taken into a shopping area where there were desks for all the different excursion companies, checked in, paid our balance in cash (as requested) and were told to look around for a bit and then meet at Pier 3 for the boat ride out to the island at 9:30 a.m. (ship time). We caught up with H’s new friend and her family (who had recommended this excursion to us) so we tagged along with them and had a great time together. We left about 15 minutes later than planned and the ride took about 35 minutes – it was funny because we went right back past the ship and the Legend was anchored out there also. They should have just picked us all up at the ship but for some reason the Guide said they don’t have a contract with Carnival to do that anymore. We were pretty packed into the boat but it wasn’t a big deal since we were all excited to get there! They gave us each a “baggie” of water on the way out there, you just tear the corner off and drink it! The kids had a ball with it and of course they were squirting it all over! The island is a beautiful site. The guides were very, very nice and friendly.

 

Tender from the ship

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Tender of Goff’s Caye, the Belizian Beauty

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The BAG of water!

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Once we arrived they dropped the non-snorkelers off and took the others out to the coral reef area. I stayed behind with H and H’s friend and her mom and grandparents. The dads and the rest of their family went off to snorkel. They did offer you snorkel equipment, J only used their fins because we had brought our own masks/snorkels. The little ladies swam and played in the beautiful white sand and had a blast. The moms traded off hanging out with the girls and did a little snorkeling of our own right there off the beach. We saw quite a few fish and loads of conch and their beautiful shells just a few feet from the beach entry. It was very low key and perfect for the girls. The boat took the other group that wanted to go to the reef not to far from the island and the guides snorkeled with them out there. J said it was amazing, like swimming in a fish bowl. There were creatures everywhere and the guides were very good about pointing stuff out to them. Once they came back we ate a quick lunch and had to head back for the tender back to the Dream. The lunch was extra, we had a chicken kebab, two lobster tails, a hotdog, a water and a beer for $25. Not too bad. Again the food wasn’t spectacular but it was exactly what you would expect from the set up they had. They also offered us Rum Punch (included) and it was yummy and refreshing!! The island has a few picnic tables under a few palm trees, there are a few merchants set up to sell goods, the lunch area and a rest room. For $5 you could rent a plastic Adirondack chair, which the friend did for the grandparents that were with them. They were so sweet to watch all of our things so we could all spend time in the water. The only thing that was a negative about this excursion was that it didn’t last long enough! It was a great trip and we felt very special that this family we barely know so graciously let us join them!

We headed back on the boat (it was called the Belizean Beauty), right past the ship again to catch the tender back to the Dream. The tenders carry a ton of people and we only had to wait in line for about 5 minutes. Once back at the ship J&H hit the slides and I hit the room to unpack all our stuff and repack for tomorrow in Roatan.

 

Beautiful site!

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The food hut

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One guide showing J some different parts of the Reef

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H and I headed off to see the Dancin’ in the Streets show that Troy (Cruise Director) and others had been promoting at each of the other shows we have been to so we had very high expectations. (J hit the Casino…never a good idea) Unfortunately, we both give the show a thumbs down. It was the same two singers that have been at each of the other shows we have been to. They both have great singing voices but this show was a little racy for my 10 year old and in my opinion it lacked a theme. The acrobats they flew in for the show were great but they weren’t given enough stage time for all the singing and dancing. Neither one of us enjoyed it very much. After that it was dinner in the MDR (we have eaten dinner there every night so far).

Me: Caesar Salad, Beef Tenderloin with New Potatoes (I prefer the Flat Iron Steak that H had), Chocolate Raspberry Vanilla Cake (I should have waited for ice cream).

H: Vegetable Spring Rolls, Flat Iron Steak with broccoli and after dinner we took her for yet another ice cream cone.

J: Oysters Rockefeller (his all time favorite!), Caesar Salad, Red Fish (he said it was delicious) and then he had Ice Cream with H. What is it about the ice cream? We all love it, lol!

 

We walked around the Aft decks for a bit and it was super windy. While we were out there they roped off the decks due to the high winds! Guess they didn’t see us before they put the ropes up, lol!

It’s funny how fast the night goes by when you have the 8:15 p.m. dining, by the time we got back to the room it was almost 11:00 p.m. and H was wiped out!

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July 10, 2014 (Day 5, Mahogany Bay, Roatan)

Dolphin Encounter (Booked through Carnival)

Departs from the port at 10:30am

 

We got to sleep in a little later this morning since our excursion didn’t leave until 10:30 a.m. so we awoke to the beautiful site of Mahogany Bay. We headed for the breakfast buffet (eggs Benedict!!) about 8:30 a.m. and then off the ship to walk around the port area before we met the tour guides. (It was a sea of Towel Animals as we walked across the Lido Deck, H thought it was super cool sight to see!) The port is very clean and new, the shops and the rest rooms were very clean as well. We noticed the sky ride and decided to take that over to the beach after we returned from the Dolphin Encounter. We found our guide and left right on time. It was a 30 minute bus ride to Anthony’s Key Resort. As soon as we got there we were put into a boat as a group (18 of us) and taken over to the dolphin enclosure. Quick safety briefing and we were divided up into 3 smaller groups and then into the water with our guide and Tilli, the 3 year old Bottle Nose Dolphin. The guide gave us great information about Tilli and we were able to rub her back and tummy. She did some tricks for us and their photographer came and took group and individual pictures with each family. All together the time in the water was about 30 minutes. We were given a quick chance to take pictures with our own camera but not as a family or individual just of Tilli herself. The enclosure area had a large locker where you were able to store your personal things, there was a changing area and a rest room. After the 30 minutes we were given the opportunity to shower off, collect our belongings and head back on the little boat to the area we were dropped off to and the gift shop. The gift shop was the standard stuff and this is where you can buy your pictures. They do not print them out for you, you can buy them on a jump drive or have them emailed to you. The package for all of them was like $90 but they weren’t spectacular so we chose to 2 of them on a jump drive and it was $40. We left the resort on the bus and headed back to the port. All together we were gone for 2.5 hours.

*Side Note: This excursion offers a longer version where you actually get to swim and snorkel with the Dolphins after the 30 minute “encounter”, somehow I missed it when I was looking through to make our reservations. If we come back we will for sure do the longer version since we enjoyed it and the people very much*

 

Towel animals everywhere!

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Transportation to Anthony’s Key

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Walk to Dolphin Enclosure

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Tilli

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Tilli 2

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Once we got back to the port we ventured over to the Sky Ride and headed over to the beach area. We definitely could have walked it and not spent the money since it’s not very far but H really wanted to ride over. It’s a neat little area with loads of lounge chairs and clamshell style loungers that I am assuming you rent but not sure. The beach was nice and clean but it was also packed full of people! There are a few restaurants and souvenir shops and a place you can rent water sports things (kayaks, paddle boats, etc.). We walked around for a bit and then went back on the sky ride… and then we did the sky ride again and again and then again! We definitely got our money’s worth of rides and H loved it! We had to be back on the ship at 4:30 p.m. so we had a few more minutes to shop around and then head back. We bought my mother in law a pair of Tanzanite earrings. They were totally willing to negotiate the price and we paid less then half of the original price he quoted us. The people in the store were very friendly and offered us water, a coke or a beer while we shopped.

 

Sky Ride

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Beach at Mahogany Bay

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The line to get back onboard was super short and then we hit the Lido for a late lunch. J & H went for the Mongolian Wok and both really liked it. I visited the Deli at the back of ship for a grilled Ruben sandwich (as recommended by our MDR tablemate), which was really good also. Yet another ice cream cone and J & H hit the slides and I hit the room for a rest!

 

 

A few hours later H headed for pizza and then off to Camp Carnival at 7:00 p.m. for some games and towel folding lessons and J & I are off to The Love & Marriage show – should be a good laugh!

 

It really was a good laugh and of all the shows we have been to this one had the biggest turn out. The couples were really great sports about the questions and answers and Troy was very very funny as the host! Then we headed to the MDR for dinner; we have still been there every night, creatures of habit! We have the 8:15 seating and dinner takes about an hour and a half which is a really long time. If we had tablemates that we didn’t enjoy that might be annoying and maybe would have chosen to try something but we have enjoyed it each night. Also, I wanted to mention that you see all kinds of attire in the MDR for dinner, from business casual to shorts and t-shirts. The dress is all over the place but I wanted to mention it because questions about it pop up on CC all the time. I honestly expected it to be a little dressier than it is from what I had read. Now that I have seen what is appropriate I will for sure have a better idea of what to pack and will be able to bring a lot less clothing for each of us.

 

Each night they play a song in the MDR and the wait staff dances all over the place. There is a table of kids behind us that are new high school graduates with their families, I’d guess they are 15 people all together and each night they all get up and go wild dancing with the waiters, it’s great to watch them all having such a fun time together (We all thought it was funny that it’s the young men are the ones that really get into it and not the girls, lol!)

Me: Caesar salad, gourmet burger (really good burger!), Tiramisu (really good Tiramisu!)

J: Vegetable spring rolls and the Gourmet burger.

 

So after dinner we picked up H from Camp Carnival and headed back to the room (she said it was fun and the kids she met were very nice). She was beat from the excursion and slide time this afternoon! There have been a few things in the evening that J and I would have done if she either wasn’t with us this trip or had wanted to stay at Camp Carnival for the Night Owls but she’s been so tired at the end of the day that by 11:00pm she’s sound asleep so we all call it a night.

 

We left Roatan at 5:00 p.m. and as soon as we hit open waters the wind kicked up and the boat started a good roll back and fourth. It’s now 11:00 p.m. and it’s getting worse. I am again really glad I hit the doc for the motion sickness patches before we left home! J & H were both feeling a little queasy tonight but hopefully they can sleep through it!

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July 11, 2014 (Day 6, Sea Day)

 

Even thought we didn’t have to, H woke us all up at the crack of dawn again! We headed out for breakfast at the buffet. J & I had omelets and H stuck to her normal cereal with milk. After breakfast we went to the Future Cruise Talk and Raffle just out of curiosity. It lasted about an hour and a half and we didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know, he talked about booking future cruises, OBC and the Credit Card they offer. The Future Cruise guy (Geoff?) handed out a pamphlet with all the ships in the Carnival Fleet, their current and future ports and itineraries with dates through the end of 2015, good information.

 

After that we hit the water slides and even though it was super crowded we were still able to find a seat for me to park while they did the slides for about an hour. In all honesty they do a pretty good job of moving things along swiftly. There are so many people on the ship I thought that it would feel super crowded but we have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly and smoothly most everything runs. We decided that we wanted to try something new for lunch and off we went to find the Pasta Bella … easier said than done, lol! We had to ask 3 staff members who all gave us different directions on how to get there. We finally found the staircase at the end of the dining room across from the Burrito bar (which we never tried?) and close to where we found the fruit and breakfast breads and headed up. They give you a sheet with all the choices they offer, you fill it out, a waiter comes and takes it and then they make your exact order. The pasta was delish, H loved her penne with Alfredo and Caesar salad. J said his penne with Tomato sauce, shrimp and sausage was really good also. I had linguini in butter sauce with eggplant and sausage and it was also very tasty. We arrived there at 1:15 p.m. and waited about 30 minutes for our food. Not a big deal since we had no place to be but some of the other folks were getting annoyed that it was taking a while and were a little ugly to the wait staff. It’s not their fault! Plus, there are 3 people back there making fresh orders for all the people waiting so you just need to be patient!

After lunch H wanted to go to Camp Carnival so we dropped her off and J headed for the shops (remember that watch I mentioned earlier….) and I was off for a nap in the room.

 

When we picked H up from Camp Carnival she said it was a blast. They did a scavenger hunt out and about on the ship in groups of 5 or 6 kids. There was no chaperone and that made me a little nervous her just having free run of the ship but they all seemed to do just fine. In order for her to participate in the scavenger hunt, she had to be given access to sign herself in and out of Camp Carnival so we had a quick talk and laid out the rules. You CANNOT LEAVE CAMP CARNIVAL without Mom or Dad coming to get you UNLESS it’s for a scavenger hunt. Done. She had so much fun she wanted to go back for the evening/late night Hawaiian Party. So we cleaned up quick and got ready for the second Cruise Elegant night. Some people take this very seriously and others come dressed in whatever they had on already. As I mentioned before, you get all kinds of dress on any given night. We headed out to have our picture taken (which we totally forgot to do the first Cruise Elegant night). We hit the piano background on Deck 3 and the cruise ship background on Deck 5. I think I may have mentioned before that we always buy the group picture no matter where we go so a) we can have a picture with all 3 of us in it and b) H collects them from each vacation we have taken and we put them in the photo album for keepsake. We hung out on Deck 5 and listened to some live music and happened to sit right in front of The Tasting Bar. They gave us each a tiny plate containing one meatball and a small piece of bread. I don’t really understand the purpose of the Tasting Bar but the meatball was good.

 

Then we were off to the Family Comedy Show. It was funny. A lot of the things he was talking about went right over H’s head. It was family friendly though; no cursing, bad words or inappropriate topics were bought up at all.

 

Then it was back to the MDR for dinner at 8:15 p.m., which I have mentioned that it takes a long time to eat in the MDR, but this time H had to eat and run since she was headed back to Camp Carnival for the night. Once her food came she grabbed a few bites and I took her back to the room to change out of her dress and then up to Camp Carnival she went. I was back at the table just in time for dessert!

Me: Grilled eggplant with Mozzarella, Chateaubriand with mashed potatoes and Baked Alaska for dessert (not my favorite)

H: Green salad, Grilled Chicken and Mashed Potatoes.

J: Escargot, Grilled Shrimp, Chateaubriand with Mashed Potatoes and Baked Alaska also. He said everything was great.

 

Since we were without H for a few hours we hit the Casino. Always a bad idea. Nothing more to say about that, lol! We picked up H at midnight, stopped for her to get a small ice cream and headed back to the room to turn in for the night. I definitely think that once H gets older and can have a little more freedom J & I will I have a great time being able to check out the night life and adult comedy shows the ship has to offer.

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July 12, 2014 (Day 7, Sea Day)

 

We decided to try brunch in the MDR today instead of the buffet and we are glad we did. They had Eggs Benedict so I was a happy girl. They brought a basket full of breakfast breads as soon as we sat down and our order was ready fairly quickly. I think all in all we were in there for about an hour. After breakfast H headed off to Camp Carnival (she was thrilled to meet another little girl from Houston) and J & I hit the Towel Folding Lesson in the Encore Theater. We had already bought the book for H but it helped me to see it done in person. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected! For each book that is purchased $1 goes to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. After Towel Folding, J & I went to the Ships Life Q&A with Troy the Cruise Director in the Ocean Plaza on Deck 5. Turns out this isn’t his assigned ship, he’s been filling in for someone else who is on vacation. People asked a ton of questions, it was very interesting. He said a lot of the ships crews do not have a permanent residence since they are out to sea for such long periods of time (unless of course they have a family that they are supporting) and gave loads more facts about life on the ship. After that we walked to the Piano Bar for some Movie Trivia and just hung out in the Deck 5 area. They opened the Salad Bar that’s there for lunch and they also had the Lanai BBQ going so we had a small bite to eat. I seriously have never eaten as much as I have over the last week! The salad bar was nice, they made a salad for you with whatever you wanted and they also had Turkey Wraps. The BBQ was the same as the other day, Sliders, Quesadillas, Pulled Pork Tacos, Chips and Salsa. I grabbed a slider and some Chips and Salsa and J had a salad and the Turkey Wrap. After lunch we hit the Casino… it’s just never a good idea, lol! Then we came back to the room and started packing. Our Room Steward had left us the Debarkation information sheet and the luggage tags for each bag. The week went by REALLY fast! We picked H up at 1:45 p.m., she said the Magic show in Camp Carnival was good but it only lasted about 20 minutes so she was a little disappointed. She did say that today’s scavenger hunt was super fun again. Since she was there so long she was starving and requested Pasta Bella again so off we went. And lo and behold we passed the Chocolate Buffet on our way! We stopped and grabbed some yummy desserts for after her pasta. The wait was about 25 minutes this time, and she JUST COULD NOT WAIT any longer, so she ate her donut dipped in Chocolate before her pasta even arrived. What the heck, we’re on vacation ;-) After Pasta we stopped by Cherry on Top to grab a few souvenirs for my niece and H ran into some of her Camp Carnival Pals. They were playing tag and running all over the ship. She asked if she could go with them and I let her, again breaking out into a cold sweat, lol! She was to meet us back at our room at 4 p.m. Of course she was back in plenty of time and I panic for no reason! Then she and J headed off to the Arcade to check it out and I finished packing and crossed a ton of stuff off my list that I had brought but we didn’t need or use for next time! H said the Arcade was fun and she liked that you used your Sign & Sail card and not tokens.

 

J & I were going over the Fun Times from the week and there is SO MUCH we didn’t have time for or get a chance to do this time on the Dream so now we have to come back! We also missed quite a few things by choosing the 8:15 p.m. dining time and having Hannah with us just about every night. I think that when we cruise again we would choose the anytime dining so we had more flexibility and I am sure that H will be more comfortable with the programs and want to spend more time in them. Neither one of us even made it up to the Serenity Deck or to check out the Spa. It’s incredible how large the ship is and how many different things there are to see and do!

 

It’s our last night and H wanted to go back to Camp Carnival at 7pm for the farewell thing they do so we ordered her Room Service for dinner and J & I are headed to the MDR. First we stopped off in the Ocean Plaza to hear the Blackjack Band play some good old country music. For a band on a cruise ship they are pretty darn good! The guy playing the fiddle was very impressive. We were there for a good hour and lots of people were dancing and singing along with the band.

 

Then it was time for dinner and off to the MDR we went. We ate dinner each night with our tablemates and never ran out of things to talk about. They were a very friendly family and like I said before we were glad to have been paired with them. From where we were seated at the far back in the dining room against the window we could not see the wait staff when they lined the stairs to sing so we just got up and peaked over the rail into the lower dining room and the staircase to see them.

Me: Vegetable Spring Rolls and Prime Rib with a baked potato, no dessert since I knew we’d be headed for midnight ice cream – a last night of vacation family tradition!

J: Navy Bean Soup (he said it was only ok), Crab Cake (delicious) Panko Crusted Shrimp and some piece of fish he said was really good.

 

We left dinner in a rush for me to meet H for the Carnival Legends show at 9:50 p.m. and J made a quick trip to the room to put the luggage out for pickup.

H wanted us to let her sign herself out of Camp Carnival and meet us in the same seats we had sat in at all the shows we had been to. We had done a dry run earlier in the day and she knew exactly where to go. So when she didn’t show up (J was already back from the luggage run) we both panicked a little and J headed off to Camp Carnival to hunt her down and I stayed in the theater in case she showed up. He found her, she had forgotten what time she was supposed to check herself out and so she stayed put because she knew we would come get her. Crisis averted and she did the right thing. Truth be told it’s times like this that I like it when we bring along my niece so she has a partner in crime and isn’t on her own! She did say that all the kids she met were really fun to hang out with and she had a great time each time she attended Camp Carnival. They colored t-shirts and some of the kids exchanged email addresses to keep in touch. Then they watched a movie.

 

The Legends show was a lot of fun. It’s passengers from the cruise that try out for a spot to sing on the last night. It’s like a talent show I guess. Most of the people they had on sounded pretty good! The guy who was Garth Brooks and the gal that was Brittney Spears were both fabulous. Then Troy the cruise director came out dressed as Dolly Parton and the audience went wild. It was hilarious.

 

After the show we headed out for midnight (11:30ish) ice cream and then decided to check out the musicians’ Jam session on Deck 5. A bunch of the different musicians from the ship got together and played some really great music. We would have stayed longer but H was falling asleep so we headed out. Back at the room our bags had been picked up from outside the room and we headed right out to the balcony for a look at the Mississippi River. What a big disappointment to see the muddy brown water after almost a week of beautiful blue and green! Tomorrow we head out for the dreaded NOLA to Houston drive. Surely it won’t be nearly as exciting as the trip up!

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July 13, 2014 (Headed home!)

Since we didn’t really know that to expect for Debarkation we woke up early thinking that we needed to be out of the room and find a spot on the Lido deck since lots of other people would be camping out there also. Not the case, lol! We got down there at about 8:00 a.m. and there was a handful of people and plenty of space to park our backpacks and ourselves. We had breakfast (not sure of I mentioned this before, the buffet breakfast is pretty good but the scrambled eggs are yucky, none of us could eat them. If we wanted eggs, we hit the omelet station for fried eggs or an omelet). We just hung out and waited for them to call group #29 so we could head out. About 9:30 a.m. we climbed down to Deck 3 and got in line to get off the ship. We were at the car and on the way out at 10:30 a.m. It was exactly one hour from the Lido through the ship, luggage retrieval, customs and elevator to the car. I honestly expected it to take longer but it was nicely organized and our bags were all there next to each other under the #29 sign.

 

We were very pleased with the Carnival employees, from the minute we arrived at the port until the minute we disembarked the ship each and every Carnival person we came in contact with was friendly, polite and had a huge smile on their face. The ship was constantly being cleaned and tidied, from our room to the public areas, the rest rooms, the dining areas and everywhere in between!

 

 

We made it home to Houston in about 6 hours and are already talking about our next cruise adventure (maybe the Magic out of Galveston??) We all really enjoyed being unplugged and spending time together as a family. H LOVED everything about this trip. I really liked that it was a nice combination of activity and relaxing and there was always something to do if I didn’t want to just hang out on deck. J really liked the Ports and Excursions. Although we all liked all the excursions, we would not repeat the Beach Buggy in Cozumel. We would do Goff’s Caye, Belize again and we would choose the longer more in depth version of the Dolphin Encounter at Anthony’s Key Resort in Roatan.

 

Thanks for reading this, hope it was helpful!!

 

 

 

 

 

Random Observations that I forgot to include along the way:

 

*We have ordered Room Service three times (so far Day 3), each time it arrived in about 20 minutes.

 

Room Service Menu

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*The tiny shower and shower curtain make for a lot of water to get on the floor each time someone showers if they aren’t paying attention to get the curtain lined up right. And the curtain is a little grungy on the bottom.

 

*So far I have only seen our Room Steward once (we are on day 3) but he’s definitely doing his job. Each time we come back the room is tidy and the cooler we brought is full of ice. Each night we have a new towel animal too!

 

*There is a lot more storage space than I expected in the bathroom, there are 3 good size shelves on either side of the vanity.

 

*H has eaten ice cream (currently on day 4) 10 times. She can’t get enough of it!

 

*I haven’t felt the ship move AT ALL! Not even in the MDR where we are seated way at the back (which I bet is a beautiful view but we miss it since we have the 8:15 p.m. dining and it’s dark when we get there). I have the motion sickness ear patch on since I am super prone to motion sickness but so far so good!

 

*AND. I jinxed myself! As soon as we left Cozumel the wind kicked up and the boat was swaying all over the place. They have the decks at the front of the ship closed off due to the high winds. I’m really glad I went to the doc and got the motion sickness patches!

 

*Things that came in super handy: mesh shower caddy, suction hooks, the over the door shoe holder, clothes pins, small battery powered alarm clock (since we shut off our phones and there is no clock in the room), a small cooler for our room to keep cold drinks (we brought on a case of water and a few sodas for in the room), a power strip to plug multiple items into since there is only one plug in the room. I also brought a few extra hangers.

 

*J got the Bottomless Bubbles but he isn’t drinking enough soda so for us it wasn’t worth it.

 

*We did not buy the Cheers program. J would have used it for sure but I don’t drink so it wasn’t worth it to buy since I would have to have it also.

**When we left the ship I added up everything that he drank from the Sign and Sail account and it cost about as much as the Cheers would have cost for just him.

 

*On Wednesday we used the Wash & Fold service ($15/bag). We filled a bag with wash, filled out a form and the room Steward came to get it. He delivered it back at 6pm the same day. I didn’t plan on using it but after 2 excursions and a few trips to the slides for H the swimsuits and pool covers we had already worn needed a good wash! Next time I know to pack fewer daytime clothes and more bathing suits and covers for us all. By the end of the cruise we will have a lot of clothes that we did not wear.

 

*I brought my laptop and bought the 45 minute internet package for $29.00 so I could check in with my mother twice a day. I type the email in word and then copy and paste it into my email once I log in, then copy her email and paste into word to read later and reply to. I use about 3 minutes each time I log in.

**This is the only reason that I logged onto the Internet at all and on the last day I had 2 minutes left. It’s a sluggish process to log in, get to a web browser and then to my email.

 

Internet Info.

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GoodtoKnow-Internetpg2_zpse72efa4c.jpeg

 

*Snacks – at first I thought it was kind of crazy to bring snacks since there is food available all the time but I brought them anyway and I am glad I did. I had a package of peanut butter crackers, a few bags of beef jerky and some granola bars. We snacked on it each day after the excursion before we headed back to the ship.

 

*Not sure why this didn’t make it into the review but I wanted to say that we have visited the Cherry on Top candy store quite a few times. The prices are very reasonable and H has developed a Red Starburst addiction ;). They lady with red hair that has worked in there for the past few days has been so nice and pleasant! I wish I had remembered to get her name!

 

*We also went by the Bella Perlina Bracelet sale (I think they were $20 marked down from $90), the watch set sale ($20) and they also had a $10 t-shirt sale. We didn’t buy anything other than J’s watch at the Fun Shops but they did have some nice items. We had already bought H a t-shirt in each port so we didn’t need any more.

Edited by smcsmom
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I thought you did a nice first time review. A little lite on the pictures but I remember you saying you forgot to take pics of the food. I just get so caught up in cruising that I too forget to take pics.

 

You mentioned the scrambled eggs on the buffet. No one likes the eggs. They come out of a bag not out of a shell. Been pasteurized homogenized and just plain nasty little things aren't they? The nice thing is the omelet guy will cook you fresh eggs anyway you like them but they do have a tendency to overcook them so I usually wander to all the omelet stations until I settle on a favorite for the week.

 

Glad you had a nice cruise welcome home. Have you booked your next cruise yet?:)

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