Hola Y’all! After our first party in NOLA it was time for our trip aboard the Carnival Dream. We parked at the port again and as we were dropping our bags with the porter, our tip apparently got us front row parking. He moved some cones and put us steps from the elevator. I am still unsure what bills were in that stack, but it was worth it! I would always recommend a nice tip to your porter. Our bags are always to our room before most people even get their keys and that takes one more stress out of embarkation day. FTTF is a BIG bonus on Day 1 as well. We were in our stateroom, changed and out on the lido by noon. That is of course after my obligatory stop at the lobby bar for my first drink, where they applied my Cheers sticker to my Sail and Sign card. I would do my level best to wear that out over the next week.
So we made our way up to the 11th Deck aft where there are plenty of comfortable couches and chairs with a beautiful view of the downtown skyline. We started with a couple of Bloodys and relaxed while we waited for the fun to start. No sooner than we got comfortable two ladies below us called up to my wife. They said “Hey, there’s the girl from the restaurant! It’s our turn to party now!”. Truth be told we had no clue who they were or when we met them, but in retrospect it must have been from dinner the night before. Those memories are still a bit foggy. New Orleans will do that to ya.
Our first day largely consisted of a lot of getting used to the ship, which only takes about a week, eating a couple of guys burgers and enjoying our aft facing stateroom. These cabins are a little bigger than the standard and the balcony has a little more room too. It included a full size lounger, and day, or night, provided amazing views of the ship’s wake. The downside is that you are at the complete back of the ship. Lots of long strolls down the hallway to get to the action. Be sure to study the layout, as some floors do not allow you to traverse the entire length of the ship. We get lost, but we have fun doing it. One thing we have picked up along the way is that decorations on the doors help you find your way home much easier than the room numbers. On this trip we would debut the ‘Poop Deck’. That dude is much easier to find after a long day of adult beverages.
Our cabin steward on this trip was I Putu. He did an amazing job, though I probably didn’t thank him properly. We always prepay our gratuities, but we should have left him a little extra. I didn’t know that was an acceptable practice at the time, though thinking back, who would refuse cash? But, he kept our room straight and fresh, knew our names from the first moment we met and always kept us smiling. His towel animal skill was also been the best to date. Thanks PUTU! If we see you again this year, I have something for you.
We did dinner in the main dining room and met some new friends from Canada, Washington, and some good folks from Mississippi. In fact, we are meeting Drew and Shannon again this year in just a couple of weeks. I think it adds to the excitement knowing you will run into old friends on a cruise. I am sure there are folks out there that are truly seasoned travelers that do this frequently. I will let you know how it went in a few weeks. Our dinners in the MDR were always delicious and the service was fantastic.
Super Bowl LII was made available for viewing at various spots on the ship. The Encore Main Lounge had the big game on the big screen along with a pre-party which included lots of giveaways and prizes. Drink specials were offered on buckets of beer and the atmosphere was definitely lively. Carnival makes everything more fun, but we eventually wandered off and strolled the promenade. The game was just not nearly as entertaining as the rest of the fun to be had. We would catch the score on the TVs located at the Casino Bar and make our own fun around the ship. Eventually we made our way back to our cabin and settled in for a little downtime. Our batteries were definitely running a bit low after our raucous start in New Orleans.
Day 1 – Fun Day at Sea
The Dream’s itinerary included a day at sea, followed by port days at Cozumel, Belize and Isla Roatan followed by two more sea days on the way back to New Orleans. For Breakfast we hit up the buffet early. We hung out a while and watched the wake on the back of the ship before heading down to Sea day Brunch. It’s a cruise. I like to eat. Steak and Eggs for me and Eggs Benedict for Dawn. That’s how we do it and Carnival does it right. I always start with the flaming hot tomato soup which is not something I would usually order, but it was delicious. I have heard the menu or recipe changed, so I will follow up on that later.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog, the first sea day is when I send my wife Dawn for a mani-pedi at the Spa while I spend a little time in the Casino. My time in the casino is usually brief, though I have been studying some strategies to lose at Blackjack more slowly and probably more painfully. But for now I opted for the table game that I thought would help me stretch my funds the longest. All too quickly I gave my money over to the Roulette Wheel and that satisfied my standard Casino Donation along with my itch for gambling. With plenty of time left on my hands, I had a chance to head up to the lido and catch the Hairy Chest Contest. The show is exactly what it sounds like for the most part, but Carnival’s energetic Cruise Directors really know how to make it fun. They keep it relatively clean and manage to get the whole deck involved.
I eventually made my way up to the Spa to check in on my lovely partner in crime and found her being well taken care of. There are a lot of ways to make a woman smile, but trust me, sending them to be pampered is a winner every time! The prices are not unreasonable and if you watch the website closely, you can take advantage of 15% off deals if you book prior to sailing. Also, the first sea day is the first Elegant Night in the MDR on a 7 day cruise, so Dawn gets her nails done at just the right time. Be forewarned the staff are well versed in the up-sale. They have packages galore and offer a lot of products that do seem to work. Their sales pitches work too. They were also, very educational and not overly pushy, so in the end we actually felt comfortable with our purchases and Dawn continues to use the same eye treatment today. However, if you don’t feel like being pitched, just tell them you are there for the service only and they will move on.
The first sea day was our first time at Bonsai Sushi as well. I got Dawn started on it a few years ago and now we get sushi every chance we get. Once again we were not disappointed by the Dream’s offering. We went with the Ship for Two and every bite was delicious. We also had some hot sake, but Dawn was not a fan. I loved it, but I always do! The prices were very fair, much cheaper than what we pay at home, but it is an additional charge. The service and atmosphere is terrific even though you are technically eating on the promenade.
Elegant night in the MDR is always a treat. They offer Lobster and Prime Rib and most people like to get dressed for the occasion. We always do some pictures prior to dinner and then make our way to the dining room about 5 minutes after they open the doors. If you get there early, you will be stuck in the hall waiting with a slew of folks, so we try to time it so we do not hold up our table mates, but don’t have to wait on the stairs either.
The entertainment that evening included yours truly. We had found seats at the front of the Encore Main Lounge, but they were off to the side a tad. Brandon, the cruise director, ended up inviting us to move over and take the seats that had been reserved for the Welcome Show winners that didn’t show up. Then when my wife volunteered me to go onstage for the Motor City pre-show fun, he pulled me out of the audience, put a wig on me and used me and a couple of other guys as back up dancers. It was fun and I was awarded a Carnival medal for participating. We didn’t get great coverage of me onstage, but we got a little. The Motown production was energetic and full of tunes we grew up listening to on the oldies stations. After the performance, they took the show out into the lobby and we followed along. The performers and cruise director got us all singing along and dancing and trying to get one side louder than the other. We left before they finished, but I am pretty sure our side of the lobby had it won!
The next few days were port days, but I will go into those in more detail later on. We will stay focused on what we did while on board the ship and cover excursions later on. Though our brief hop off and back on in Belize allowed us to make use of the water slides. They are a LOT of fun! We could hear Dawn laughing the whole way down. There are plenty of videos covering the Waterworks on the Dream, so I won’t say much more except that it is the best area to cool off while using the Serenity Deck.
Up on decks 14 and 15 you will find the adults only Serenity area that Carnival has set aside for those not really into the party scene and not on a vacation with their kids. On sea days you can almost count on finding us here for the better part of the day. We roam around a bit, but usually we wind up here working on our tans. There are large padded clam shell chairs in which to lay back and catch some rays and watch the waves. There is a bar on the lower level, as well as servers making the rounds to keep you in good spirits all day. It is tough not to be in a good place when you have the ocean breeze blowing in your face and the sun shining down on you while you sit sipping on a Miami Vice or Pina Colada. Also, on deck 14 there are bathrooms in the spa area that are closer and more convenient that the options outside. The spa area is also the only area with an elevator to deck 15, so if you have mobility issues keep this route in mind.
Our reservations for the Chef’s Table were the night of our day in Belize. We had done the experience before, but with a different menu. We met in the lobby for Champagne, followed by the tour of the galley, the starters, a demonstration on making the famed melting cake and then dinner served in the galley. It was everything we expected even after the first time on the Ecstasy having gone so well. It is really hard to reproduce perfection, but the chef and staff managed it once again. After another gut busting dinner that was too good to describe, we stopped by the Alchemy Bar for a couple of cocktails while we planned our next move. We decided to catch the main act again and headed to the front of the ship.
One of the funniest shows we have seen was the Love and Marriage show. The most recently married couple and the couple that had been married the longest were culled from the audience and brought on stage. Then they had any other married couple that wanted to participate show there “enthusiasm” for each other. Eventually they peeled the couple rolling around on stage apart long enough to put them in chairs and start the questions. The elderly couple had a sense of humor and made some of the best moments out of the simplest replies. I remember laughing hardest when the 80+ year old woman described her bra size as 38 long. Be sure to catch this show if you like to laugh. If you don’t like to laugh you may want to book another cruise line.
We dined in the Chef’s Art Steakhouse after our day in Roatan. The steakhouse is an additional charge, but it is a pittance compared to what you would expect to pay elsewhere. I have not had a better meal on land, so the price point is more than reasonable. Our dinner started with Escargots for me and Baked Onion Soup for the wife. Few people like to begin a meal with snails, but the starters were absolutely wonderful. We both had a salad in the middle, but we barely touched them as good as they were. It was a shame to let them go, but I had ordered the Grilled Prime Cowboy Steak. That is 18 oz. of Rib Chop for the Real Beef Gourmet (so says the menu). Dawn opted for the slightly smaller 9 oz. Filet Mignon. Steaks here are broiled so they are perfect. The service was outstanding and our team did a great job of taking care of us and leaving us to ourselves. They finished us off with a Chocolate Sampler for dessert that nearly left me comatose. The location allowed us to take a moonlit stroll along the deck as we walked off some of the 10,000 calories we must have consumed and made our way toward the America Rocks show in the main lounge.
We had actually made time before our dinner to stop by and check out the pre-show activities and it had us pumped up enough to come back for the main production. How many times can I say we were not disappointed? If you will allow it, one more time, we were not! What a great time. Great music performed live with dancers and lights to make it all seem like we were at a rock show. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got more coverage from that show than probably anything else on the cruise. It was a fantastic night for sure!
Guys Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse is located on the 5th deck of the Dream and its recipes hail from none other than Guy Fieri himself. Keep in mind, the lines are usually long the first couple of sea days as this is a new venue to most cruisers, and it is only available during the lunch hours on days at sea. We lucked into a lull in the action on the lanai and had to wait just a couple of minutes. The food was pretty good, but nothing to get worked up over and definitely not worth more than ten minutes in line. There is always a shorter line somewhere on the first few days. I will definitely try it again the next chance I get, but what I look forward to the most for a quick meal on the ship is the Pizza at the Sunset Aft Pool. Having 24 hour pizza and a bar that is open most of the day two floors above me was heaven!
Our last night on the ship we finally caught the comedy show at Punchliner’s. It was not quite as good as the shows we saw on the Ecstasy, but that comedian was doing material he had performed on Carson. So that show may have been aided by the audience and this show was perhaps hindered by the same. With stand-up comedy, you get what you give sometimes as an audience. I think very few comedians can kill it night after night, and the ones that can aren’t going to be found on Carnival anytime soon. For what it was, we laughed plenty.
To say we enjoyed our cruise on the Carnival Dream would be understating the point. We actually booked our next cruise while still aboard and that trip is coming up in 10 days from when I am creating this post. If you are wondering about the savings, it is not overstated. Our two trips we booked within 14 days of our sailing were some of the best fares to date. I price check constantly, and they never got close to our price, plus we were given $100 of On Board Credit. The Carnival Dream and her crew were amazing and we can barely contain our excitement knowing we are barely a week away from sailing with them again.