Professional Review for Carnival Dream

Side Note: My wife and I were on this ship a couple of weeks ago for an inspection. I was amazed how much Carnival changed the decor, it was very easy on the eyes while still maintaining the “Fun Ship” atmosphere. The food was EXCELLENT! and the staterooms were very clean and maintained the new ship smell.
ExteriorThe 130,000-ton, 4,631-passenger Carnival Dream, the cruise line’s largest and most innovative ship, began service in November 2009. The first of a new class, it travels at 22.5 knots and will welcome sister ship Carnival Magic in June 2011.

Carnival expects to welcome a third Dream-class ship to its fleet in spring 2012. Fincantieri has agreed to build a 3,690-passenger vessel at its shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The ship will be similar to the Dream, with some new elements to be revealed at a later date. The ship due to enter service in 2012 is slated to have a 300-ft-long corkscrew water slide, the Ocean Plaza indoor and outdoor cafe, a 23,750-sq-ft Cloud 9 Spa and an outdoor promenade with cantilevered whirlpools that extend over the ship’s sides.

Carnival took delivery of the Dream in a ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard (where it was constructed) on 18 September 2009. After the ceremony, the Dream left for Rome for its inaugural cruise, a 12-day trip departing 21 September. It crossed the Atlantic to New York for a few cruises, then to a base at Port Canaveral. Dream was named in New York on 12 November, and it began year-round Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral in December 2009.

Carnival got off to a shaky start in 1972 but soon the Fun Ship concept took hold, and a whole new type of middle-income passenger came cruising. The line grew fast, and with financial success, Carnival Corp. began buying up other fleets to become the world’s largest cruise operator. Carnival Cruise Lines has long been a major player in the mainstream cruising industry, improving with age and experience.

Carnival attracts passengers of all ages and multigenerational families. Passengers on the Dream tend to be Americans with many singles and young families. The demographics are younger on Carnival ships because of the emphasis on children’s programs and the numerous entertainment options that continue well past midnight. The crew and officers are international and speak many languages, but most speak English.

Cruises based at Port Canaveral alternate 7-night western and eastern Caribbean cruises. On the former, ports include Cozumel, Roatan, Belize and Costa Maya with two days at sea, and the latter itinerary stops at Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten with 3 sea days. Trips ashore are the typical excursions for beach activities, shopping and sightseeing.

Although the Vegas-style neon is still present on the Dream, there is no theme and the ambience is darker and more subdued than on other Carnival ships. Some passengers welcome the change, but others miss interior designer Joe Farcus’ often-humorous creativity.

The Dream offers new dining options. The Chef’s Art Steakhouse, located on Spa Deck 12, seats 139 and specializes in dry-aged beef. Cost is $30 per person; reservations are recommended. The Gathering, a two-level eatery, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Options within The Gathering include a pasta bar, burrito bar, Mongolian wok, deli items and a tandoori oven serving Indian specialties. A vast salad bar is available for those watching their weight, and the pizza bar is the highlight for the younger set. There is no charge to dine at The Gathering, but lines can be long at the main part of the buffet.

Two main dining rooms, the Scarlet and the Crimson, serve quality American food with vegetarian choices and a special children’s menu. Located along the Promenade Deck is Wasabi, a very popular sushi bar serving complimentary sushi. The Ocean Plaza, an indoor and outdoor cafe that is the ship’s most notable feature, has a dance floor and a stage for live entertainment. Within Ocean Plaza, the Plaza Cafe sells specialty coffees, pastries and milkshakes. There also is full bar service.

Serving as the hub and epicenter of the ship, Ocean Plaza also offers full Wi-Fi access and 12 stand-alone kiosks where guests can access the FunHub, the Carnival Dream’s onboard social network.

Dream’s innovative features include the Lanai, a half-mile, open-air promenade on Deck 5 that has lounge areas and whirlpools that cantilever over the ship’s side; a Seaside Theatre with a pool, concerts, and a screen for films and sporting events; a two-level minigolf course; a 19,000-sq-ft WaterWorks aqua park with a Twister Waterslide and Splash Park; a high-up and out-of-the-way Serenity adults-only retreat; and an 11-deck-high atrium.

The Dream also introduces the first laser show at sea on a North American cruise ship. The 15-minute shows use laser technology to project patterns of blue, red and green into the nighttime sky, choreographed to music by rock artists such as Styx, Rush, Van Halen, Boston and Pink Floyd. Carnival says that four all-weather LaserNet ScannerPro lasers are positioned atop the Dream’s lido deck. The Seaside Theatre’s jumbo screen displays custom-designed graphics and the artists’ music videos during the show.

The 1,823 cabins include spa cabins that have special amenities and private access to the Cloud 9 spa, the largest yet on a Carnival ship. Standard cabins are roomy with twin beds that convert to a king. The ocean-view cabins with a window or porthole measure 220 sq ft; ocean view with extended balcony are 245 sq ft (inside cabins are 185 sq ft). Most of the outside cabins have windows, but some have portholes. More than 800 outside cabins with balconies are available along with 58 suites (340 sq ft) and 12 penthouse (430 sq ft) suites.

Two-bath staterooms are available that include one full bath and a second bath featuring a junior tub with a shower and sink. Rooms are equipped with safes, hair dryers and TVs.

Another unique feature on the Dream is the Cove balcony cabins on Deck 2, which sit as close to the water level as any balcony cabin should. The balconies are more enclosed than regular ones, and Carnival says it took some crafty structural engineering to build balconies so close to the waterline. With 185 sq ft plus 35-sq-ft balcony, they are some of the best values in cruising.

Carnival Cruise Lines has lagged behind the competing mass-market ships in terms of percentage of cabins with balconies and innovative design and activities. The Carnival Dream, being 20,000 tons larger than the previous class, packs some new features and expanded facilities onboard that will help the line begin to play catch-up.

Carnival offers value, economical cruising and is especially good for young adults who like to party and for young families. Its pricing is the lowest in the area. Tips are additional and have to be added to the price of the cruise. Guests are advised to make reservations for the spa, beauty salon and Chef Art’s Steakhouse restaurant upon boarding to avoid disappointment.

The Dream’s main competition in the Port Canaveral area is Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, which is slightly more expensive. Disney Cruise Line is also a competitive ship in the Port Canaveral area, but it comes in at a much higher price than Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

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