|The Carnival Dream (docked at Costa Maya)|
As per the usual Carnival Standards, patterns and colors were a bit bright and garish in the common areas--but the hallways were more muted, with a sort of 1940's or '50s cartoonish mural on the walls. The design is classy and will stand the test of time. I also enjoyed the animal-print-esque curtains, carpeting and seating in the Encore Theater--it was very refreshing.
The Dream is definitely big--the largest ship I've been on so far, and during the first few days it was a bit overwhelming at times playing the "am I going the right way? am I on the right floor? how many times will I have to double back to get to where I need to be?" game. But as on all ships, one just had to remember which portions of which decks were closed off and by the third day we had no issues. By the end of the week, as is usually the case, we knew the ship like the backs of our hands ;o)
The common areas did get quite crowded on our first day at sea, as is to be expected. By about 11 AM there was nary a lounge chair to be found--at least not in the sun. We didn't really venture near the pools as the music was just too loud for our tastes. We did however check out the water slides--neither one had more than a ten minute wait and both were fun, although the hubby did get a scrape on his elbow from the rough seams inside the main slide.
We spent some time in the Serenity adults-only area, but unfortunately the chair saving there is as rampant as it is everywhere else. The most comfy options--the couches, the hammocks and the big round chairs--were pretty much always filled or saved with towels and books and the like. At one point I actually took the initiative and asked a couple who was taking up an entire huge couch on their own if we could have two cushions at the end of it. They grudgingly obliged, thankfully. ::rolls eyes::
The Stateroom: 4.5/5
|Stateroom 11242, Inside Spa room on the Carnival Dream|
Thankfully, our stateroom location was impeccable and the spa package was worth every extra penny. It consisted of unlimited access to the steam rooms, glassed-in rooms with heated loungers, VIP relaxation rooms (with constant supply of hot teas, fresh fruit and iced water), VIP locker rooms (which appeared to have actual real hairdryers--or at least better ones than they have in the staterooms), and the Thalasso Pool (which was as hot as the jacuzzis and probably a lot better for your bathing suit/hair/skin). Also, we had special robes and slippers in the room, as well as Elemis brand bath products. I heard we were also supposed to have upgraded linens, and while the towels and sheets were good quality considering, I'm not sure they were actually better than what anyone else had...as I have nothing to compare them to.
I was pleased with the amount of storage. Although more drawers would have been nice, there was a lot of closet space (including shelves) and being able to slide the empty suitcases under the bed was great as well.
The Food: 3.5/5
|Showing off my TWO desserts! (Tiramisu and Bitter & Blanc)|
We also had burgers and fries from the Lido Deck on the first sea day, and I was thankful to find that they were still the same delicious burgers and fries that I remembered from over five years ago :o)
The dinner food in the dining room ranged from the plain old "good" (the French Onion Soup and escargots) to absolutely delicious (the pumpkin soup appetizer, the Grand Marnier Souffle). Nothing was bad and many meals were stellar. Again, though, I'm comparing these meals not to eating at, say, Shula's Steak House, but rather maybe a slightly higher-end chain restaurant than, say, TGI Friday's.
We ate breakfast in the dining room three mornings as well. The eggs benedict were decent and the French toast was really good. If we'd had time I would have eaten here every morning and tried a few other things, but we got room service most mornings. Obviously this was mostly just fruit, yogurt, cereal, bagels and the like--the milk and yogurts were rarely cold and the fruit was half rotted on a couple mornings. Nighttime room service was a bit better--I had an absolutely delicious hot veggie sandwich before bed one night and worth the approximate hour it took to get it.
A note on the pasta bar: it's really a must, the food is delicious and worth the wait. But make sure you know how it works, which is as follows: you enter, they give you a number and an order card. You find a table (hopefully), fill out your order card and bring it up to the cook station. When your food is ready (we waited about 40 minutes) a waiter brings it to you.
The Employees (3/5)
|One of my favorite towel animals of the week, courtesy of our great stateroom steward!|
Other employees that we encountered throughout the week were for the most part friendly, helpful, and the like, but to be honest we did meet with a couple bartenders who were polite but certainly not more so than they had to be, which was a bit annoying.
The Entertainment/Nightlife (3.5/5)
|Sam's Piano Bar|
We did everything from salsa dancing in The Song, to karaoke in the Burgundy Lounge (which was actually kind of dead, a big change from it being the most popular nightlife option on my last Carnival cruise), to singing along at Sam's (the piano bar). I would say that our favorite spot was probably the piano bar--the player was extremely talented and had a huge repertoire of Beatles songs, which was perfect for us.
The entertainment options that we partook in were fairly varied. We played in the casino a bit, and whereas the dealers were no Vegas dealers I suppose they could have been worse. We watched some of the break dancing demonstration in the Atrium, went to the Dancing in the Streets show, and even watched part of a comedy show late one night. We enjoyed most of what we experienced, although the Dancing in the Streets show would have been improved by some sort of story- or time line and the comedian simply wasn't that funny (disappointing as I'd heard the ship comedians were great). Our favorite entertainment option, however, was probably watching movies on the Lido Deck, which we did three nights out of the week. The movies were forgettable but the experience was decidedly not :o)
To be continued with information on the ports and excursions we enjoyed!