The FUN theme certainly ran through our time onboard the world most popular cruiseline’s ship Carnival Dream! Carnival Dream was at the forefront of a wave of amazingly fun Carnival ships. This 130,000 tonne ship, home to a maximum of 3464 passengers and 1367 crew (that’s one crew member to every 2.5 passengers) is as good if not better than a good 4 – 5 star hotel. The choice of entertainment and dining options is outstanding and has the quality to match it too.

We were embarked in New Orleans and were allocated and outside cabin on deck 2. The cabin was a great size with a picture window and a bathroom with a toilet, shower and sink and a separate room with a bath and sink. There was plenty of storage for luggage and a tv which you could switch to cameras looking out from the front of the ship or over the pool. There was also a room service menu with a good choice of included options and some for a small fee.

Our first two full days onboard were fun days at sea which gave us plenty of time to explore the ship and its many entertainment areas. There were a mix of clients onboard our sailing which was over the Easter/Spring break, so there were lots of families with several generations and groups of friends travelling which was lovely to see. Sea days activities included quizzes, bingo, cocktail making competitions etc. I also noticed that a lot of the adults were partaking in casino competitions whether it be blackjack or poker. There were plenty of loungers to choose from, whether it be around the pool, around the ship out on deck or in the adult only area. There was even a small waterpark which the children seemed to be enjoying. In the evenings, there were several choices of bars - our favourites were the Red Frog Pub and the Piano Bar and dining options were many with the main dining room, the Lido Buffet and for late night snacks, the pizza bar was a great choice. Evening entertainment came in the form of musicians in bars, the theatre productions, comedy acts in the Headliners Comedy Club, the Casino and even a cinema at sea out in the open air including popcorn!

Daytime dining choices on the sea days were fantastic. The main buffet had an abundance of choice with a pasta area, a Mongolian wok area, an American area (which changed to a chocolate buffet on the last sea day) and plenty of choice of meats, salads and desserts. Upstairs was a pasta area and out in the main pool area was a hotdog and burger area and a pizza area. To the rear of the ship as an indian buffet and a freshly made sandwich bar (a bit like subway). Inside, you had an excellent salad bar and an area that served samples of the chefs favourite meals. Along with a room service menu, there was no way we were going hungry!

Our first port of call was Isla Mahogany in Roatan, Honduras. The port is specifically set up for the cruise ships to call in at with an abundance of shops to peruse (especially for diamonds!) and a beach all set up with loungers, parasols, bars, restaurants and watersports equipment to hire. You could make your way to the beach on foot which took about 10 mins or you could take a chairlift which was US$12 return if you purchased your ticket onboard or US$14 if you purchased your ticket at the lift. Along the walking route, there was a small detour along a nature walk which was peaceful and had a couple of benches in scenic spots where you could sit quietly and take in your surroundings. A few members of the group picked up a cab and did a tour of the island as well and there were many excursions offer by the ship which you could book onto as well. After exploring the beach and the nature walk, I took the opportunity to see what the ship was like on a sea day. It was really calm and quiet which much less activity. There were fewer dining options available but still a good choice and the spa had some good offers on treatments available on a port day.

Our second port of call, was in Belize. Today, we took a ship organised excursion to the Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich. We boarded our coach greeted by our friendly guides who were really information and kept us entertained and well informed on the country, the history the economy and what life was like as a local for the couple of hours it took us to reach the ruins. When we reached the ruins, we learned about their history and why they were built and the reasons they were built where they were. We were shown where a survival game would have been played, where men were picked to play and the ball was made containing a human skull. We also had the opportunity to climb one of the ruins for a stunning view at the top. On the return journey, we stopped for lunch of local dish rice and black beans, before heading back to the ship to continue our journey.

Our third port of call was Cozumel in Mexico. We docked in an area a short walk from an abundance of shops and bars to choose from. There were 4 ships docked on this day, but it really didn’t feel like there were over 10,000 people in port. Again, many passengers had opted to go on ship organised excursions to beaches, to swim with dolphins, see the area or take part in adventure activities. Many passengers just wandered around the shops and sat on the manmade beach area soaking up the rays and others chose to take a taxi to explore independently. Others, chose to party in the choice of bars which offered a lively way to spend the visit. For our final fun day at sea, we started the day with the Dr Suess breakfast experience which only happens once per cruise. It is bookable for a US$20 per person supplement and you are treated to green eggs and ham and pancakes stacked and coloured just like the Cat in the Hat’s hat. The characters (Dr Suess, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Cat in the Hat) come and see you at your table and you are able to have your photo taken with them. A real treat and a great way to start the day for an Cat in the Hat and Dr Suess fans.

After breakfast, we headed to a special lounge before heading off on a “Behind the Fun Tour” which took us behind the scene. We saw where the crew spend their free time, the laundry and the amazing machines that folds all the bedsheets, where all the food and drink is stored, the kitchens (through the spinning doors!) and met the head chef and were taken to the control room for the engines and met the engineers that keep the ship moving. We were taught how to make flowers from vegetables and taken backstage and on stage of all the show productions. We were even taken to the bridge for the best view in the house and to meet and have our photo taken with the captain. The tour was fantastic and only 2 groups of 16 passengers are permitted to do the tour per cruise, so a real privilege to do. It lasts for roughly 3 hours and you need to be able to walk and stand for long periods of time and the photos with the captain are included as part of the package as you are not permitted to take photos of your own for security reasons.

That evening, after a visit to the ships spa and a show in the ships theatre, we dined in the Steakhouse Restaurant which was fantastic. For a US$35 per person supplement, you can dine on various cuts of steak, lobster and starters and desserts as well. The dining experience here is more personal and attentive and the food is cooked to perfection and however you choose. Don’t worry if you are vegetarian, as they were able to offer meat free alternatives which I am reliably informed were as tasty as the meat options.

Disembarkation (as well as embarkation) was smooth and relaxed and our flight home with Virgin Atlantic comfortable with great service. I left Carnival Dream with a relaxed feeling and a much better understanding of what Carnival has to offer. I joined the ship with the impression that Carnival was all about partying and younger passengers, but I left the ship with the knowledge that you can party as hard or and little as you want to. You can be 5 years old or 85 years old and still enjoy the ship and all that it has to offer and even with a dietary requirement, you can eat as much or as little as you want of fantastic food. All this mixed with the incredibly low priced fares that Carnival offer and the fantastic destinations they the call all, Carnival is a definite must for all those cruisers that like a relaxed approach to cruising.


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