Thursday, March 14, 2013

My personal feelings about the Carnival Dream!

Our family really enjoyed the cruise but there were a number of things that just didn't sit right with us.

We've sailed Carnival before and know what to expect but many of the staff members on this sailing were rude. We saw waiters almost knock into people with trays and not apologize and the camp carnival staff was not very friendly.

Camp Carnival aboard the Dream

Our son has confirmed ADHD and we are sure there is more to that but never bothered with diagnosing it. Camp Carnival was not all that fun to him. They have it broken into age groups and in the 6-8 year old group if you don't want to participate then you have to SIT and watch or look out the window.... What 6-8 year old wants to do that? I was surprised when I asked them what other options they had for them to do if they didn't want to participate and they told me that. My son had no interest in break dancing which was a 20 minute activity in between 2 activities that he wanted to participate in. So I guess they expect the parents to pick them up every 20 minutes if they aren't into something.... Jayden went once when they were playing video games and said that they didn't give a warning when it was time to turn them off and for a kid that has control issues turning off a game that he is in the middle of is never a good idea. So he burst into tears and sat for a good hour before I came back up to get him. When they told me what happened I asked why they didn't call me to come get him and they changed the subject... So my son sat for an hour and no effort was truly made to help him cheer up and move on from what bothered him.

Since Jayden went the 2nd day and Juli was at tea with us I asked right away to drop her to the 2-5 year old room which is an option if your child has medical needs. Things seemed to go better on that side and Juli had a good time. The one teacher even called us once because Juli was complaining that she was really itchy and wanted lotion. Thankful for that instructor named Amber! I only remember the name of one the instructors that gave us issues and her name was Ioana.

I started to think it was us but then we started to talk to other kids and families and they were all complaining about it!

Friends that we traveled with had a daughter a few weeks away from turning 6 and they requested to try her in the 6-8 room. Carnival agreed but moved her within minutes down to the 2-5 room saying her attention span was not enough for the 6-8 room. On the last day of the cruise when they went to drop her off Camp Counselor Ioana got nasty with the dad because her tag said she was 6... Ioana said she had to go to the 6-8 year old side, even though she was 5 and Camp had put her in the 2-5 side.

Even my sister and brother-in-law had issues with their daughter in the 2-5 year old side. They asked whether the camp counselor was going to follow their daughter (2.5 years old)  to where ever she was headed within the play area and they responded with "we don't do 1 on 1". I understand that but they should at least make sure the kid is headed to a good spot to play and confirm they are safe. To me that is not 1 on 1 care, that's just common sense!

We definitely learned that Carnival is not for our family if we want to utilize camp for the kids.
This is a vacation for Justin and I too and we deserve a few minutes to ourselves! We spend 24/7 with our kids and since we home school, rarely use a sitter and have no local family we never get a break!

I advise anyone with children that have any type of special need to avoid Carnival if you plan to utilize the kids programs. Especially if they have beahvioral, ADHD, ADD, Aspergers or Autisum. The staff has no desire to assist your child in having a good time.

I hope that what we experienced is not fleet wide but from what I gathered it seems that it is.


We were disappointed with the shows. Lots of country music.
My kids loved the deck parties but we don't need a director to help us have fun. 
I expected the Carnival employees to interact with the guests not hang out at the front of the pool and act like they were a bunch of college kids. Which of course they were....
Justin went to the comedy club the one night and said it was nice. 
They offer a water play area, mini golf, basketball court, casino, art auctions, bingo.... Comparing the planned activities to 10 years ago I see lots of changes. 
There were high winds when we sailed and I wasn't into swimming with that! Otherwise we would have spent more time on the pool deck.

Our favorite thing to do is get off the ship and explore. 


The food was average. Nothing to rave about. I loved the buffet at lunch time when they had the most options. Made to order at the Mongolian Wok, Tandoor, Deli, pizza, pasta bar, burritos .. As well as the regular buffet line. Breakfast and dinner were best in the dining room but only served when in port. The down side of the specialty dining options is the wait! I felt the Mongolian Wok was very good but I had to wait more than 30 minutes for my turn. It was nice to fill my bowl with what I wanted and then hand it over to be cooked but when everyone wants something different it can be very difficult! The pizza was also made to order and very good, but the wait was 20+ minutes.

We ate dinner every night in the dining room and had the slowest wait staff there! Most of the tables were cleared by the time we got our dessert menus. The food was remarkably better in the dining room. Not fantastic, but better than the buffet!

When in ports they do breakfast and lunch separately. We only got to eat lunch in the dining room once. The menu and food were very good!  For past guests they now put a drink coupon in your cabin that can only be used in the main dining room at breakfast or lunch! Not nice! If you are gold status then you get invited to a cocktail hour. 

They now do this comedy brunch which we were disappointed in. The service was horrible and our food wasn't even correct. They brought out Juli's food when we were all finished eating! The comedy brunch is offered on days that the ship is at sea. The days you have the most time! The comedians do 2-3 jokes on the hour.

Tea time on sea days was nice. Juli and I enjoyed it with my mom and some friends. 

Room service menu was limited but what they offered was good. We all loved the chocolate cake!

We used the continental breakfast form twice when we needed to get off the boat early and they were right on time. 

Online it shows that the Blue Iguana has a taco bar but once on board we realized their was no such thing. Jayden wasn't happy. There is a taste bar open in the evening when at sea but we never made it and I think that they offer tacos there one night.

Our Cabin

We loved being in a suite and hope to make it happen again next time we sail. The space is needed with 4 of us and all of Juli's equipment. Not sure where we would have put the wheelchair if we were in a standard cabin.....

The balcony was nice and big with 3 chairs and a small table. 

The cabin steward and his team were very good and friendly. The kindest staff we encountered while on the ship. 


I feel that the Carnival Dream was not very accessible to those in wheelchairs or even people that use strollers!

If you get on a forward or aft elevator not all areas are accessible. There were many times that we had to go from our deck 7, to deck 5 just to be able to walk to the aft part of the ship and then take the elevator down to our dining room for dinner on deck 3!

It was all very frustrating. The guests and staff crowd the elevators as well so there were times that we waited for a few elevators to open and leave because they were full.

The pool decks were also hard to navigate with very few walk ways to get a chair easily from one space to another.

While this is a large ship I don't feel that there are enough public rooms and dining venues to accommodate the number of guests that the ship holds.

We really did have a great time on our vacation, even with all the negative things that i just said here. We look forward to moving away from Carnival and sailing on another cruise line soon. Hopefully with a much better experience!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Final day at sea 3/8/13

The view from our cabin #7365. Starboard side

2 decks below. We overlooked a Jacuzzi tub.

View from our cabin looking forward and aft. Deck 5 is what you see. 


The kids LOVED the bathtub. 

View from our bed of our messy cabin!

The dressing room before you enter the bathroom. Again it is messy. It was the last day and we were working on packing up.

Bathroom, obviously!

One last order from room service! Chocolate cake and cookies of course!

The kids enjoyed sitting and playing on the balcony.

The sexy man I got to sleep with every night! :) 


The did a chocolate (variety of desserts) buffet the last afternoon of the cruise. We all love chocolate and sweets!

Juli just couldn't stay awake any longer and had to lay down in the middle of dinner. Poor thing slept through most of it but was wide awake when her chocolate melting cake arrived!

They no longer have people carry their life jackets and meet outside of the boats so I made the kids put them on for a picture. This was the morning that we got off the boat and they were not happy about being up so early! 

Costa Maya, Mexico 3/7/13

We decided to venture to the beach on our own in Costa Maya. We had never been before but everything online said it was very friendly and we picked a beach that had good ratings. We were not impressed! The beach had trash on it, nothing major but lots of bottle caps and other little things. We went to a public beach but were hounded from the second we stepped out of the cab! They all wanted us to set up in front of their shops and kept saying "no charge". Once we found a spot and one of them even tried to help us get comfy the man returned a few minutes later telling us we had to buy something because his boss said so! Not cool. I reminded the man that it was a public beach and we went back and forth and he finally left us alone. So, if you buy something all is good otherwise they get snippy. Justin asked for beer and the guy told him they only had Corona.... After he had 2, we realized the place next door, not within the public beach space we were sitting in, offered local options. It was beautiful water with little fish swimming around though.  The kids were happy to play in the sand and I got to enjoy a massage on the beach! $25 an hour.
The pier was nice and offered a little shuttle from one end to the other for free. Tips of course were welcome. The pier is beautiful and even has a pool that you can wade or swim in with swim up bars.

Our ship from the beach.

View from the water.

The place that hounded us to buy some food and drink!

It is a rare moment that we find Jayden asleep! When we got back on the ship after a day on the beach he asked for a nap and slept for a few hours. 

Dinner back on the ship. The kids loved dessert! Especially the chocolate melting cake. 

The formal portraits on the ship cost $22! None of them turned out well enough for us to buy. One of us was always looking the wrong way or the kids were making strange faces! This is the best picture we got ourselves. 

Passing the Norwegian Dawn.

My mom bought the kids some maracas. 

We collected shells and coral throughout the week at all of our stops. The conch shell cost us a $1 in Honduras. I wish I would have bought another for Jayden. My mom bought this one for Julianna.

I saw these in multiple ports but Costa Maya was the only one that had star fish on them! It was $15. I love it. I figure the kids can make little ones with the bucket full of shells that they collected last time we visited the beach.

Mahogany Bay Honduras 3/6/13

The whole family LOVED Mahogany Bay, Honduras. What a beautiful island! The people were also friendly. 
Almost to the island.

Julianna loved waking up at a different island every day!

Beautiful rainbow to start our day!

Cool cargo ship rotting away in the bay.

Jayden and I had to check the port side from my moms cabin. We were on the starboard side.

The animal characters in my moms cabin.

A Holland America ship was docked next to us. 

There was a beautiful nature trail that led to the beach right off of the pier. Our ship is in the background. Instead of hitting the beach we did an excursion. Friends that went to the beach raved about it though!

Beautiful gardens everywhere!

The entrance to the hiking trail.

The first stop on our excursion was a cameo factory. Not something we were really interested in but the carvings onto the shells were neat looking.

Justin tried new beers at most of the stops. This was at a pizza shop in the west end. We learned the hard way that the west end is way more expensive than the pier was!

In Honduras school runs from February to November and is either from 7-12 or 1-5. The only options were public or private, all require uniforms. My kids didn't like any of that! 

Some performers in the West End.

Sugar Cane plants.

There was a little girl in the cameo factory that kept following Julianna around. Her mother was selling baked goods on the street.

I love thrift stores. :) First one I saw on the island!

The Semi-Sub was the best part of the tour and I hope to find away to stay on it longer if we go back to Honduras. The pictures we got are horrible, but in real life it was amazing! We saw lots of fish of various sizes, comb jelly fish and even a sea turtle! 

Ahhhh, just what Justin and I needed! Jayden was not very fond of camp carnival so we didn't get to many breaks from him.

Juli loved the nightly deck parties. She loves to dance. They handed out glow sticks and random toys each time, like maracas.

Yeah! A Mexican Buffet! Jayden passed out before midnight but was happy to wake up for a taco! 

Here are the things we bought in Roatan! The West End was crazy expensive so we bought everything at the pier. 
I love this hand made box. I looked at many of the shops and they were all priced higher than this guy that I felt bad to bargain with him! It was only $12 and hand carved. We bought rum cake and talked with the lady that made it. Also bought some Caribbean Jerk sauce that her husband makes. Also found some island chocolate. Only 2 ingredients! Cocoa and sugar.