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deladane

Detailed Photo Review of Carnival Dream 7 Night Western Caribbean Cruise 3/10/19

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Hi Everyone!  I’m baaaack!  After 3 consecutive Carnival cruises from 2012-2015, I’ve been on a bit of a Carnival hiatus for the last few years.  Nothing against Carnival… it was just time to try something new and different.  I always knew I’d be back sooner or later, and now that day has come!

 

My name is Dana and my husband and I just returned from a 7-night cruise on the Carnival Dream (March 10-17, 2019 sailing).  I always write a detailed photo review when I return home from my cruises, with a journal-style day-by-day format.  I used to have links to each of those reviews in my signature, but Cruise Critic changed their rules (boooo!) and I had to delete most of the links.  You can still search the forums for those reviews (or visit my blog at http://deladane.home.blog), if you are interested in reading them!  Anyway, this review will be just like my old ones.  If you are looking for a short and sweet review, you might want to look elsewhere... I tend to write like I talk, and I can be a bit long-winded, so my reviews are very long and take a few weeks to complete.  On the other hand, if you like reading about lots of details, and if you want to see TONS of photos (including all of the daily schedules and menus), this is the review for you!  I do this as much to help others plan their vacations as to give me a travel log to look back on and remember my wonderful cruise.  Please feel free to ask questions and post comments along the way... I welcome your feedback 🙂

 

It may take me a little while to get all of my photos sorted and loaded onto my computer considering I took nearly 2000 photos on this vacation, so please be patient with me.  Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip as a little something to hold you over until it's time to post the rest!

 

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Great start with beautiful pics! Looking forward to reading and seeing the rest! :classic_biggrin:

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Welcome back! I always enjoy your reviews. Your honey mooon cruise is a bucket list itinerary for me!

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8 hours ago, willdra said:

Great start with beautiful pics! Looking forward to reading and seeing the rest! :classic_biggrin:

 

Thanks Willdra!!  Your reviews are always so funny and entertaining to read, so I hope I can compare to that! 

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6 hours ago, spacepotatoes said:

Welcome back! I always enjoy your reviews. Your honey mooon cruise is a bucket list itinerary for me!

 

Thank you!  That was a bucket list cruise for us too... and ever since, we've wanted to go back to French Polynesia another time! haha  Maybe some day.... but until then, there's always the Caribbean 🙂

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Posted (edited)

Dana, I have been checking the Carnival Board each day since your return. Am settling in for a nice long read and great photos. Are the effects produced in the camera?

Norris

 

 

Edited by Bimmer09
add link

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10 minutes ago, Bimmer09 said:

Dana, I have been checking the Carnival Board each day since your return. Am settling in for a nice long read and great photos. Are the effects produced in the camera?

Norris

 

Hey Norris!  The effects were done with an app on my iPad... My camera does have a lot of special effects, but I have found that I prefer to just take regular photos during the vacation, and then I use apps to add special effects afterwards when I have more time to play with it.  The app is called Sketch Master for anyone who is curious.

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Hi Dana

Looking forward to another of your great reviews. Thanks to Norris for providing the link. I’ve been checking daily since I saw that you would be posting soon. 

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4 hours ago, Marvy Mare said:

Hi Dana

Looking forward to another of your great reviews. Thanks to Norris for providing the link. I’ve been checking daily since I saw that you would be posting soon. 

 

Thanks Marvy!  I'm so glad you found the review so you can follow along 🙂

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3 hours ago, Border Granny said:

We’re sailing on the Dream this summer, so your review could not have more perfect timing😎

 

Are you sailing out of NOLA?  Or is that after she moves to Galveston?  Either way, I'll post lots of photos of the ship, and all the info about the ship itself, the onboard entertainment and dining should be helpful to you 🙂

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2 hours ago, hockeyguru32 said:

I'm in for the long haul

 

Thanks for reading!  Looks like your itinerary on the Mardi Gras will be very similar (except for Belize), so hopefully when I get to those ports it will help with your planning.  At first, when I read that in your signature, I thought it meant the cruise was going to NOLA for Mardi Gras, but then I saw the November sail date and remembered that's just the name of Carnival's new ship! haha  They should send that ship to Mardi Gras!  How fun would that be?!

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Planning for this cruise

 

We tend to book our vacations a year or more in advance, so this cruise was very different for us.  When we got home from our Celebrity Eclipse cruise in March, we were kind of cruised-out.  We were out of town for a cruise for over 2 weeks in September, and then again in March, and we needed a break from cruising.  I know… first world problems!  We planned several land-based vacations for 2018 including Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago and New Years week in Puerto Vallarta, and we started planning a 2 week vacation to Paris and London for summer of 2019.  That held me over for a while, but some time in October, I starting thinking there was something that just didn’t feel complete.  With no plan to take another cruise in the foreseeable future, I just wasn’t fully satisfied with our vacation plans.  I had an itch and it needed to be scratched!

 

I have been saying for years that two of my travel goals are to go snorkeling in Belize (since it is said to be the top place for snorkeling in the Caribbean), and to hold a sloth (which should have happened on our Celebrity Equinox cruise in 2016, but you’ll have to read that review to learn why this remains on my to-do list!).  I started looking around on the various cruise line websites, just to see what options were out there, and that’s when I found this itinerary.  This cruise tempted me for several reasons…

 

1)     It stops in Belize… pretty much the only requirement I had in mind going in haha

2)     Our last 3 cruises have been 11, 10, and 14 nights long, so the idea of a 7-night cruise made it feel a little less like a big vacation, which was a good thing considering we already planned to go to Europe for 2 weeks in the summer. 

3)     It included 4 port days, satisfying my desire for a port-intensive itinerary.  Three of the 4 ports are new to us, with Cozumel being the only repeat.  That’s fine though considering that Cozumel is a huge port with tons of things to do, so we could do something different from our last time there (although we also would have enjoyed returning to Chankanaab if need be).

4)     The cruise starts and ends in New Orleans.  We have both been there before, but that was many years ago and we’ve never gone there together, so it would be fun to explore NOLA for a few days pre-cruise.

5)     The cruise is on the Carnival Dream.  We have never cruised on a Dream-class ship, and while I honestly would prefer to see the newer Carnival ships with their more current features and décor, I was still intrigued. This would be by far the biggest ship we have sailed on, with a maximum passenger capacity at 3,646 (approximately 800 more than our current biggest ship, the Celebrity Eclipse!).  If that proved too crowded for us, at least we’d be getting off the ship for 4 of the 7 days! Haha

 

DH and I talked it over and decided to go ahead and book this cruise.  This was less than 5 months before the cruise, so many cabins were already booked and there weren’t many options left.  We considered booking a balcony, but the prices were higher than we wanted to spend and there were only a handful left, so it was unlikely to see big price drops in the coming weeks.  Instead, we opted to save a little money and book an oceanview cabin.  There was just ONE mid-ship oceanview cabin left on Deck 1 on the day we booked our cruise, so I’m glad we booked when we did!  I didn’t want to be on Deck 2 since many of those cabins have public spaces overhead and I was worried about noise, and I always try to book mid-ship cabins for easy access to the elevators.  Being on Deck 1 actually sounded great because we would be a quick flight of stairs away from getting on and off the ship at each port, so no need to wait in long lines for the elevators!  Another thing that looked interesting about this cabin was that it had 2 bathrooms… one with the standard stall shower, sink, and toilet, and the other with a mini bathtub and sink.  I think these cabins are really designed for families who have 4 or 5 people in the cabin, possibly with little kids who need to take a bath instead of a shower, so 2 bathrooms is a bit excessive considering we would only have 2 people in the cabin, but it would definitely make things faster when getting ready in the evening.  I just wish they gave us 2 toilets so we wouldn’t have to share at all! Haha 

 

After I booked the cruise, I immediately checked to see if Faster to the Fun (FTTF) was available.  I didn’t expect it, considering we booked somewhat last minute (or at least it was last minute in my opinion!), and sure enough, it was listed as sold out.  I refreshed the page several times a day, every single day until around 7 weeks before the cruise.  I hit refresh and, for the first time, it did not say “sold out” under the FTTF excursion.  Wait, what?!  That means I can buy it!  OMG!  Don’t blink, don’t think twice, just click purchase ASAP!  My number one reason for wanting FTTF was for the priority tendering in Belize, so this just took off a lot of stress for that day.  It would also be nice to have the other perks like shorter lines at Guest Services, priority embarkation, and immediate cabin access after boarding.

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With the cabin booked, next it was time to book flights and a hotel.  We always fly in at least a day in advance before cruises, but since we wanted some time to explore NOLA, we decided to fly down on Friday.  We try to fly out of the airport in San Jose as much as possible because it is close to our house, but I couldn’t find any direct flights.  Southwest had a nonstop flight from Oakland, departing on Friday morning and landing in NOLA around 4pm, and a nonstop return flight on the afternoon that the cruise ends.  While it is not ideal to drive up to Oakland, which takes about an hour on a good day but would likely take longer for us as we’d be driving during rush hour, having a nonstop flight still made this our best option. 

 

At first, when I started looking for hotels, I thought we should stay in the French Quarter.  After all, if we are going to spend a weekend in New Orleans, we should be as touristy as possible, right?  It didn’t take long for me to rethink those plans because the hotels in that area are all very expensive and out of our budget.  I then shifted gears and researched vacation rentals.  While there were a few options in the French Quarter which may have worked out, they all had strict cancellation policies.  I always prefer to book hotels/vacation rentals with a flexible cancellation policy, so if there is a fee to cancel, I won’t book it (unless there are no other options).  I saw a listing for a studio apartment in a historic Victorian house on VRBO in the Garden District.  It was priced well, located on Magazine Street right near a bus stop, just blocks away from lots of restaurants and shops, and featured nice amenities that would work perfectly for our 2 night stay.  Best of all, it had a flexible cancellation policy and excellent reviews, so I booked the room online and immediately received a confirmation that we were all set.

 

I’ll discuss the planning for our days in port as I get to each part of the review, but just as a quick overview, here is what we had planned for each day:

 

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Date - Port - Excursion

Fri. 3/8 - Fly to NOLA, French Quarter for dinner

Sat. 3/9 - NOLA - Cajun Pride Swamp Tour, then free walking tour of the French Quarter

Sun. 3/10 - NOLA - Cemetery Tour, then Embarkation Day!

Mon. 3/11 - Sea Day

Tues. 3/12 - Costa Maya - Chacchoben Mayan Ruins and Butterfly Farm

Wed. 3/13 - Roatan - Private Tour with Ronys Tours to Manawakie Eco Park, then snorkeling at West Bay

Thurs. 3/14 - Belize - Coral Breeze Shark/Ray Alley Snorkeling and Caye Caulker

Fri. 3/15 - Cozumel - Discover Scuba Diving with Cozumel H2O

Sat. 3/16 - Sea Day

Sun. 3/17 - NOLA - Debarkation, Mardi Gras Museum, Fly Home

 

To keep all of our days straight, I created this calendar to hang on the wall of our cabin…

 

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I have made countdown candy jars for all of our cruises.  The idea is that we eat one piece of candy each night and gradually watch the jar become empty as we get closer to the start of the cruise.  Since we were going to Puerto Vallarta for New Year’s, I waited until we got home to start the cruise countdown.  Just 65 days to go!

 

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Up next… let’s get this vacation started!

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Dana, thank you for posting your review!  I love the long ones and it will help me as I obsess and wait for my vacations.

 

I am 51 days out from our girls cruise on the Freedom and can't hardly wait.  We also have a family vacation booked to Greece this summer, but that is still 132 days away!!  To be honest, I booked the cruise to keep me occupied until our Greece trip.  I love your idea about the candy jar countdown and will implement this with my grandkids for our Greece trip.  They have a similar countdown block as we do.

countdown.jpg

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Great review so far, eager to read more!  Thanks for doing this review--we are going on Dream April 14 (different itinerary though), and doing very similar NOLA activities leading up to the cruise. 

 

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1 hour ago, deladane said:

 

Are you sailing out of NOLA?  Or is that after she moves to Galveston?  Either way, I'll post lots of photos of the ship, and all the info about the ship itself, the onboard entertainment and dining should be helpful to you 🙂

Galveston

Love NOLA but Galveston is our home port so we’re thrilled she’ll be there for a while. I know you’ll be a fount of information, I may drive you crazy with questions!  

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I just found your review and so happy I did!  As you know, I always enjoy your reviews and the beautiful pictures you take and share with us.  I am also really looking forward to your pre-cruise section in New Orleans.  We were there for about a week in May 2018 and had also been there once before, years ago.  We got a kick out of some of the stuff in some of those souvenir shops on Bourbon Street...only on Bourbon Street!  🙂  While there I was actually able to watch Dream sail in one morning (and Triumph the next) from the window in our hotel room since we got lucky and had a room on a higher floor facing the river.  I got up early just to see them.  We were in the Wyndham on Royal Street (a block from Bourbon Street) and very close to Canal Street and were with a group of friends to celebrate a milestone birthday.  Again, I am really looking to following along on your review. 

 

Holly

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2 hours ago, deladane said:

 

Are you sailing out of NOLA?  Or is that after she moves to Galveston?  Either way, I'll post lots of photos of the ship, and all the info about the ship itself, the onboard entertainment and dining should be helpful to you 🙂

Galveston.....that’s our home port so very happy to see the Dream moving there😎

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I am very much looking forward to this trip report, Dana!  We will be hitting up two of these ports on an upcoming cruise (not for a while, boo) so really excited to read about your experiences.  I know just how time-consuming these reports can take, so thanks so much in advance for dedicating the time to share your thoughts and photos with us!

 

Linda

    

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Ill be sailing the Dream out of NOLA on 5/5/19. SOO excited to read your review!! We also booked last minute and FTTF is sold out, Ill be checking a few times a day in hopes something become available!

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