Sunday, September 12, 2010

Embarkation and Sail Away – Dream Cruise to the Caribbean

We have read that Port Canaveral is a very organized port and that embarkation from there is like clockwork. In this case, you can believe everything you have read. The Cocoa Beach Shuttle picked us up from the Days Inn at about 10:15 and we were on the Lido deck by 11:30. Most of the delay was caused by the fact that the buses carrying disembarking passengers were not all out of the area where the shuttle needed to drop us. Very smooth embarkation.

The Dream is pretty impressive. We are not experienced Carnival cruisers since this is only our second trip on Carnival, but the décor is not at all as gaudy as I had been led to expect. It isn’t conservative or demure, but it is really pretty interesting. The first thing that you see, as usual on cruise ships, is the atrium and it is actually lovely. There will be MUCH more exploration later but when we arrived, the first thing we wanted was food and something cold to drink (well Bill, of course, wanted coffee) so off to The Gathering we went.

Bill will have to tell you about the buffet because I opted for a hot dog and fries. My meal was o.k. not the best hot dog I ever had but the fries were hot and fresh. I really like the fact that iced tea and lemonade are available all the time since I have come to really appreciate a good “Arnold Palmer” (for the uninitiated that is ½ iced tea and ½ lemonade).

We wandered out to the aft pool and discovered that there are some smoking tables on the port side of the aft and if you sit in just the right place you get a nice breeze when someone goes into the Gathering. So we sat and talked and enjoyed the breeze until the rooms were ready at 1:30 promptly. We are in 7454 which is an aft wrap cabin so we went down three decks and around the corner and checked it out. This is a small stateroom with a great balcony and good use of windows. There is no couch, ok there is no chair either but hey .. there are two chairs and table and a lounger on the balcony and who wants to be inside anyway?? We dropped off the carry-ons and checked out the room and decided to go explore the ship. We got sidetracked when we almost fell over our luggage outside the door by about 1:45, now that is impressive to me. So we unpacked and then went exploring.

The main indoor activities all seem to be centered on deck 5 so we wandered around there for a bit and found the coffee place to get espresso and cappuccino, or in my case and Iced Americano and some truly wicked looking desserts. You do pay for these, but the iced Americano was truly excellent so I will be back there frequently this week.

Then it was time for the Muster Drill, or as it is officially called, the Safety Briefing. We went to the Scarlet dining room without the life jackets and listened to the instruction which took about 20 minutes and it was over. We were back at the aft bar to meet our friends in plenty of time for sail-a-wau. There was a sail-a-way party in the mid-ship lido area but we had arranged the meet & greet for the aft which worked out just fine.

A little relaxation on the balcony with our kindle and net-books to read and then it was time for dinner.

Dinner was a mixed bag tonite. Some of us loved out dinners (my ribs were wonderful and Bill’s enjoyed his linguine) and some sent dinners back (the tilapia was way overcooked) and some said just OK. I particularly enjoyed the gazpacho for a starter. Our servers seem like they will be good but rushed tonight, but I never judge the dining room on the first night so I will have more on that when I know more.

After dinner a few of us took the opportunity to enjoy the outside deck of the Lanai and get better acquainted. Most of us took a short spin in the casino and paid our dues and now I am ready to do a bit more of that relaxing with my Kindle.

One more quick note, there a many packages for the internet usage and since we know that we will be trying to upload not only this review, but the same review as our blog and some pages with pictures to our website while we are cruising, we opted for the most minutes with the least per minute cost which was 480 minutes for $159 which works out to 33 cents per minute and they threw in 20 minutes for signing up on embarkation day. The speed is the best we have ever seen at sea.

More tomorrow - Kathy.