Monday, September 13, 2010

Sea Day on the Carnival Dream

I always love a sea day and particularly the first sea day. It is a time to relax and explore at whatever pace you set. We seldom get up early. We just like the quiet time in the morning and this morning was no exception, we didn’t leave the room until about 10:30. Usually we would have room service bring coffee for the early morning since we are big coffee drinkers, but we did that yesterday and the coffee was all but undrinkable. This may have been a onetime thing, but we decided not to try it this morning. I think we will order some tomorrow and see.

We skipped breakfast but met our cc roll call group in the Scarlet Dining Room for lunch. I had the caprese salad and an omelet, both of which were wonderful. Bill wasn’t all that crazy about his fish sandwich but again we are talking personal taste here so others probably thought it was great. The service, however, was excellent, the best we have had on this cruise. I should also add that the dining room was not at all busy.

On the whole, I like this ship. The layout is good and there are some great little nooks and crannies to gather with friends. Last night was elegant evening and the photographers were out in force, but I didn’t think they created as much congestion as I have seen on other less crowded ships. They were doing a good job and moving lines really quickly.

We noticed that Caliente was really going strong after dinner and the crowd in the Ocean Plaza was a nice size to enjoy the music and dance. We have found that the outside deck by the Ocean Plaza is a really nice place to gather after dinner for conversation. The only problem is that there are few chairs out there. There are a lot of tables but not all of them have chairs. It seems odd, but there it is. Just inside the door is a bar which is good because there is no service out there. There is a hot tub, but we have not ever seen it open. It is, however, quiet and out of doors so it is really nice in the evening.

The casino doesn’t seem that crowded to me either. We weren’t winning, but we could always find a seat at a table or a machine to play. I have heard that there is a smoking area, but we haven’t noticed it and since we don’t smoke in the casino it hasn’t affected us.

Sam’s, the piano bar, does allow smoking, but I don’t think they allow it at the piano bar itself. I will check that out. It is a nice place to sit for a drink before dinner if you smoke. If not you probably want one of the many other bars. The Fun Times does say smoking is allowed in Caliente Club, but that club has been so crowded (and a bit loud) that I would find it hard to light up in there. (By the way, I am mentioning the smoking because we smoke and also because I think whether you do or don’t, you want to know where it is allowed and where it isn’t.)

This has been a great cruise so far, but it is not perfect (which cruise ever is?). All of the issues and any of us in our group have mentioned have had to do with service and particularly service in the dining room. It has been so so at best. Waiters ask if you want something, you say yes, it never appears. You specifically ask for something, maybe it will appear. Everyone asks for something, coffee last night, and all but one get it and the waiter is gone so long everyone else’s coffee is gone before you can remind him he missed that person. Again, I remind you, everyone’s experience is different and there a Lots and Lots of waiters so this is just our experience. Our room steward didn’t remove the luggage thing from the bed or turn down our cabin etc the first night. We were for some reason the exception in our area (we have friends in the same area) but the second night all was well. It is just the little things and we certainly would not let those few things detract from this great cruise, but they are noticed. I thought it was just us because this is only our second Carnival cruise and I just thought that Carnival perhaps did things differently, but the experienced Carnival cruisers have a whole lot more to say on the subject of service than we do.

One other thing I wanted to mention this time are the crowds. In my opinion, this ship is very, very crowded. There are lines and slow moving crowds of people everywhere. However, there does seem to be enough seating on the decks that despite the chair hogs (and they are of course aboard) it is very easy to find a place to sit. The pools are small, as others have said, but I have not seen them crowded. This may be due to the fact that we have seen very few children on this ship. I don’t know if they just aren’t here, or if they are all at camp Carnival or what, but I think I have counted about 6 so far and two of those were infants.

Tomorrow we are in Saint Thomas. Hope the weather is like today, lovely and not blazing hot!!