July 2016 - Carnival Dream to Caribbean - Western
Overall, we had a good, relaxing vacation- relaxation and “getting away” were my only objectives after graduating nursing school.
The staff in the dining room, casino bar, and on the Lido deck were friendly and helpful. Our room attendant, Arsa, was friendly, warm, welcoming, funny, and professional! He always called us by name- I loved the way he pronounced my name. Other than that, it was very, very apparent that the employees were tired and ready to go home. By that I mean, our cruise was the last for many employees before their “off months.” From what I gathered, they work 4 months on, and 2 off. I do NOT recommend cruising the last sailing before the “off months.”
The food in our dining room was fabulous, not so much on the Lido deck cafeteria areas.
The pool was too small (never got in it because it was filled with small children- fear of pee water).
The casino wasn't that fun to me (I very rarely gamble anyways). From my experiences while in the ship’s casino, unless you’re rolling in dough and can wipe with a $100 bill and never miss it, don’t bother! Save your money! I live close to Tunica, so I guess I'm biased. In Tunica, you can actually win off small amounts of money while drinking free drinks. While in the ship’s casino, (keep in mind I enjoy sitting back to “people-watch” while enjoying an Ultimate XOXO martini) I saw people drop $100s even $1000s in those machines and get nothing in return! Ridiculous….
The lounge where the comedy shows were held was too small, with many seats unable to see the stage. The comedians were so-so. They were ready to go home too, as mentioned during their act. The shows only lasted 20 minutes each.
The Cloud9 Spa was nice. I got a 55 minute, full body massage and facial. I felt like I went to another dimension during that massage! Relaxed to the fullest! Wow!
On another note, my son thoroughly enjoyed himself! He is 13 years old and this was his first cruise. Luckily, his friend from school ended up on the same ship and same floor as us, without planning it! Weird, huh? They ran around together most of the time, which was great for us parents! The "Teens" area on the ship was amazing! I wish I could have had the chance to experience that as a child!
As far as ports go, Montego Bay is a joke! We heard rumors of this from previous cruisers, current cruisers on our ship, and even the employees on the ship. We decided to see for ourselves. We did not plan an excursion in Montego Bay, we just wanted to see the area and shop. We paid $19/person for the “Hop-on-Hop-off” transportation service that takes you to the various shopping areas. The first stop, of course, was in a high-end shopping mall that was horrible! The locals were rude and annoying! They would talk down to you while trying to sell you low quality items for high-end prices! I even noticed that many of the items misspelt Jamaica- of all words!!!! In cursive, they used an “L” instead of a “J”!!!!! Welcome to Lamaica!?!?! No thanks! Honestly, from my experience, walking around Kibera- a slum in Kenya- was way better than Montego Bay. Also, near the port, there are a bunch of beggars/bums. They harassed us, insisting we take a picture with them- “real Rasta men,” using our own phones, then requested money for the picture!!?!! One of them even tried to take my Croc flip-flops!!!!! What the ***?!?!?! Carnival: drop this port like a bad habit!
On a brighter note, I fell in love, and left my heart in Grand Cayman! Wow!!!!!! Beautiful! Extremely friendly locals! No crime! I’m from Memphis, TN, so this environment was extremely foreign to me! Almost heaven-like! While there, we did the Stingray City and Coral Gardens excursion from Carnival. I highly recommend it! The company running the excursion was Donn Fosters Dive. They were friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, safe, fun, I could go on and on…. AMAZING!!!!! Do it if you get the chance! You won’t be sorry! Unfortunately, we were not about to do much shopping, but the little we saw, I wish I had more time to explore! Nice stuff! I told my husband we would have to go back and stay a while, to which he totally agreed!
Lastly, Cozumel was okay, even with all the craziness we experienced while there. That is, I prepaid for the Mayan Ruins of Tulum excursion AND protection plan, offered by my travel agent with , with the tour provided by Shore Excursions Group out of Florida. WARNING: Do NOT do business with Shore Excursions Group!!!!! They are liars and thieves, not upholding their satisfaction guarantee or protection plan (additional fee)! I am still fighting, tooth and nail, for my refund since Carnival delayed debarking the ship, taxi driver apparently took us to the wrong place, and we missed the excursion (issues all listed under their refund policy)! Total bummer! Please note, my review of the Carnival Dream is not affected by this ridiculous, unacceptable, dangerous incident. It wasn’t their fault. I simply want to get the word out about Shore Excursions Group so no one else will have to experience what my family did! $249.00+ down the drain! Anyways, trying to make the best of a horrible situation, we ate lunch at Fat Tuesdays and did some shopping back around our pier/port. I wish I could have played on the beach and swim, but thanks to Shore Excursions Group, that chance was ruined! Ridiculous!
In summation, it was a fun, relaxing trip. It could have been better. However, it was nice to get away. This cruise was a gift from my Mom to me (and my husband and son) for graduating nursing school.