We could hear him screaming all the way down.
When he reached the bottom of the water slide, the muscular guy with the shaved head and tattooed torso stood up with an embarrassed grin, took a sheepish half bow and walked off to the applause of onlookers.
“It’s scarier than it looks,” the man – Butch from Miami – explained. “It’s dark in there and you’re bouncing all around and don’t know when you’re going to get out.”
Of course, as Butch was describing what made him yell, a little girl came zooming out of the same ride and declared, “Let’s go again, Mom!”
Our first day at sea aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship was filled with delicious cuisine, water fun galore, an interesting cooking class, shopping, music and games. And the trip had only started. A blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds was perfect for outdoor activities or just relaxing on the deck. The private patio off our stateroom was a lovely place to write with the ocean symphony for background and no other ship or human being in sight.
Launched in September 2009, the Dream is literally in a class by itself. At 130,000 tons, the Super Liner can accommodate 3,646 passengers and, at the time, was the largest vessel Carnival ever built. Among its many entertainment and activity options is a water park unlike any other at sea when it was constructed.
“Our new WaterWorks has the cruise industry’s longest waterslide,” said assistant cruise director George Roberts. “People of all ages love it.”
Named the Twister, the heart-pumping corkscrew waterslide spins riders more than 300 feet down four decks of fun. Then there’s the DrainPipe, a giant tunnel attached to an enclosed spiral waterslide, plus twin 80-foot-long racing lanes just waiting for cruising friends to challenge each other to a watery competition.
Pint-sized cruisers have a kiddie slide plus plenty of squirting fountains, dump buckets and splashing opportunities. Several hot tubs are a great place to relax with an incomparable ocean vista. A pool under a huge screen gives both swimming and movie viewing pleasure. An adults-only oasis offers sweet serenity while relaxing in a hammock, dreaming under the shade of a pergola or soaking away real-life cares in the soothing water.
For Eileen and Walter Burnett of Chicago, it is their first time on the Dream. “But it won’t be our last,” Walter said. “The next time we hope to bring our daughter and son in law. This is a great trip.”
FOOD FEASTS GALORE
As for us, it was time to head to lunch – always elegant and tasty. The little girl at the dining room table next to us stared at what the waiter placed in front of her. Then she looked at her father for reassurance
What, she must have wondered, was going on?
A big white bowl with three tiny clam shells and two miniature dabs of color sure didn’t look like any clam chowder she’d ever seen. Was this her lunch?
The puzzle was answered when the waiter stepped over and began pouring a small pitcher of creamy clam chowder into her soup bowl. With a relieved smile, the little girl picked up her spoon and began eating.
“We want the food to look great,” waiter Ronaldo assured us. “And taste great.”
On the new Carnival Dream, passengers needn’t worry about either. Even a simple salad of mozzarella cheese and tomatoes turns into a visual work of art.
The Dream has two main restaurants – Scarlet and Crimson – with sweeping staircases, sparkling chandeliers and fabrics in their namesake colors. One or the other offers an open seating breakfast and lunch daily with both open nightly for dinner service. Passengers are assigned a table for traditional early seating at 6 p.m. or late seating at 8:15 p.m. We chose a table for two at early dining.
Fairly new for Carnival is an open seating option for dinner. Cruisers who choose this open seating can arrive anytime between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. and be seated on the upper level of the dining room.
Of course, there are a multitude of other food options on the Dream. Seems like there is always delicious food being served somewhere on the ship. The ship’s lido buffet, the Gathering, is especially popular, particularly for breakfast and lunch.
Scattered around the ship are free food spots such as the Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, Tandoori Oven, Cajun Taste and a Pasta Bar where the dishes are made to order. For a pre-dinner appetizer, stop by Wasabi on Deck 5 for free sushi. Again, it is prepared fresh and the presentation is tops.
Another option is room service – free. Absolutely no charge for whatever is ordered or for the delivery. Room service at hotels or ships often can run up a hefty bill quite easily so this is a thoughtful and convenient Dream feature. Free continental in-cabin breakfast can be ordered by hanging a filled-out card on your doorknob by 5 a.m. For snacks, the top decks offer deli sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, fruit, salads and a 24-hour pizza shop. An ice cream machine also seems to get a lot of use.
Right now, we’re going ashore in Belize for some sightseeing and walking to work up an appetite. Other stops on our week-long cruise that departed from Port Canaveral are Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico and Isla Roatan in Honduras.
“Tonight it’s lobster and shrimp so be sure you’re hungry,” our waiter Ronaldo warned at lunch. “That is a favorite.”
For more information: Contact Carnival Cruise Line at (888) 227-6482 or www.carnival.com.