“Dream” Big with Carnival

Carnival's The Dream, launched in 2009
Carnival's The Dream, launched in 2009

Size Matters on Carnival Cruise’s Dream

by Patricia Mack

The music plays, the drinks flow and Port Canaveral, FL — The Dream’s modern and ever expanding home port — fades from view as the massive ship gets underway for a seven-day Caribbean cruise. There are lots of revelers on board and the ship, one of the largest in Carnival’s fleet, has a lively staff to entertain them with everything from the hoary “hairy chest contest” to “Cupid Shuffle” dance lessons — and that’s just in the first 30 minutes of the voyage.

There’s more, so much more to come.

Launched in 2009, The Dream was the first of Carnival’s big ships (from bow to stern, The Dream is the length of nearly three football fields and boasts 14 decks) followed now by The Magic and soon to be joined by The Breeze. This expansive size simply means the luxury of more space and more commodious cabins, especially when it comes to the accommodation of families (a family of five can sleep comfortably in a cabin with two bathrooms). Families also enjoy programs for kids ages 2 to 11, 12 to 14 and 15 to 17, but grownups can get a break with “adults only” features such as the two-level outdoor Serenity area.

The Dream’s interior designer, architect Joe Farcus, created a visually stimulating environment with dazzling elements such as a soaring eleven-deck-high atrium sporting a seemingly suspended piano, an indoor-outdoor dance club with flashing diodes and an over-the-top comedy lounge decorated with 109 masks. The two-level Cloud 9 Spa, one of the largest afloat, offers the massages, facials and manicures that have become cruise ship de rigueur — but Cloud 9 takes it to another level with options for teeth brightening and a soul-soothing thalassotherapy pool.

The health and fitness conscious among the passengers will find much to commend on this ship that boasts a jogging track and the Lanai promenade, a 20-foot-wide outdoor walkway with outdoor whirlpools. The Lanai is also notable for its outdoor seating areas that open up onto the Ocean Plaza, a sprawling common area which boasts amenities such as a specialty coffee bar, stage and dance floor, large bar and a smaller bar offering drinks-of-the-day and snacks.

The Dream’s kitchens stay busy servicing two dual-level fine dining rooms, a gourmet steakhouse and Lido Restaurant, popular for breakfast and lunch. There’s a pizza spot, hot dog and hamburgers corner, pasta station… let’s just say that no one goes hungry. While the dinner menus in the ship’s dining rooms are fine, the food at the steakhouse is exceptional — think 18-ounce grilled prime cowboy steak with Yukon Gold wasabi horseradish mash best enjoyed with a big California red… perhaps a Cuvaison Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from the extensive wine list. And, then, a dessert of caramelized Washington apples baked in a puff pastry dome. Order coffee or an after-dinner drink — you’ll want to linger in this serene and lovely spot. It does cost $30 extra per person, and reservations are required.

After dinner, there’s still time to take in a show at the Encore! Main Stage Lounge or the comedy club; or try a game of chance in the glitzy Jackpot Casino and Bar. Which brings us to The Dream’s flaws: Because the ship carries 3,646 passengers (700 more than most of the line’s other ships), venues can be crowded, lines can be long and seating can come at a premium. Still, even if you’re shut out, there’s always a lovely stroll on a moonlit deck, shopping at the marketplace or sharing a humongous, heavenly, homemade pastry at the coffee shop.

For more information, visit www.Carnival.com

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