Carnival Dream – Part IV

Western Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Dream
Port of Call: Belize City
September 2016

This will be our fourth time to Belize. I think it’s valuable for everyone to visit this Country at least once. It’s not your typical Caribbean port of call.

The official language is English, the tour guides are extremely helpful, knowledgable and friendly, however the Country is poor. If you want beaches or to see authentic, rural Belize, you’ll want to rent a car or take an excursion.

Our first time to the Country, we took part in a planned ship excursion to the Altun Ha Mayan Site & River Wallace boat tour. This is highly recommended, educational and very enjoyable. The excursion leaves from the tourism village where your ship’s tender will drop you off.

On our second time to Belize on the Carnival Spendor, we did a self-guided walking tour of the city. Although we enjoyed it very much, I don’t think I’d recommend it to most tourists. You will need to be very aware of your surroundings and be prepared to put up with locals looking for hand-outs.

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The Real Life Traveler in the tender leaving Carnival Dream

On this cruise on the Carnival Dream, we took the Belize Zoo excursion. It’s probably one of the best excursions we’ve been on.

You will need to take a tender to the tourism village, which is about a 20 minute ride. The tourism village is simply a number of tourist shops. In itself, not worth the trip to the city.

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Belize Tourism Village

On the way to the Zoo in an air-conditioned coach, you will receive a very educational tour through the city and countryside.

We spent about 3 hours at the Zoo and were surprised and excited to see a Jaguar, Margay, Ocelot, Coati, Gibnut, Howler Monkey, Spider Monkey, Kinkanjou, Tapir and a variety of birds such as vultures, eagle and much much more.

The Zoo is situated upon 29 acres of tropical savanna and exhibits over 170 animals, representing over 45 species, all native to Belize. The Zoo keeps animals which were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as donations from other zoological institutions.

You can learn more about the Belize Zoo here.

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Jeffrey Brookfield
The Real Life Traveler | Cruise & Vacation Specialist
Expedia CruiseShipCenters | Guelph | Rockwood | Ontario

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Carnival Dream Cruise – Part III

Western Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Dream
Port of Call: Roatan
September 2016

If you’re looking for a convenient, safe and clean way to experience a Caribbean beach and waters, then Roatan could be your perfect choice. We’ve been there a number of times and always look forward to returning.

The Port is located in Mahogany Bay on the island of Roatan which is part of Honduras. This new facility was built by Carnival Corporation, so there is plenty to do right at the port. There is a man-made beach within walking distance from the ship. If you’d rather not take the 10 minute walk, you can buy a ticket on the chair lift.

Snorkeling is marginal on the beach so you might want to take an excursion.

There are a number of bars and restaurants on the beach and if you work your way to the end, you can find a shady area in a free lounger with live local music.

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Jeffrey Brookfield
The Real Life Traveler | Cruise & Vacation Specialist
Expedia CruiseShipCenters | Guelph | Rockwood | Ontario

Carnival Dream Cruise – Part II

Western Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Dream
Port of Call: Sea Days
September 2016

My wife, Trish, is not a big fan of two sea days back to back. I actually don’t mind it at the beginning of a cruise vacation. It gives me a chance to get into vacation mode and take it easy.

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The Real Life Traveler Loving Sea Days

I was quite amazed at the calmness of the seas during our entire cruise. If there were any waves at all, they were quite small and did not affect the movement of the ship in any way. In addition, the weather was picture perfect. 85 F+ everyday with rain only during the evenings or very early morning.

2016-09-19-08-19-16As usual, I’d be up in the morning between 6:30 and 7:00 with my book. I’d grab a cup of coffee and head up to Panorama Deck (Deck 11) to admire the seas and watch as guests would slowly emerge from the hollows of the ship.  In most cases, there were few others on deck at that time of day (on sea days).

2016-09-21-05-39-34In terms of service, it does seem that Carnival might be taking a closer look at its bottom line. Normally, your stateroom steward would clean your room in the morning and do a turn-down in the evening. For the first time, you had to advise your steward – “Made”, was his name – what your preference was. We were offered service only once a day.

It wasn’t an issue at all and if you needed fresh towels, we’d just connect with Made and he’d oblige.

By the way, if you’ve not cruised before, I’m certain you’ll be impressed that your room steward will recognize and greet as he sees you walking down the hall, “Hello Jeffrey and Patricia, how are you today?”. It’s puts a smile on your face.2016-09-19-15-10-58

The “towel art” will also make you smile. In this case, Made had some fun with my sunglasses with the “dog”, we think.

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Jeffrey Brookfield
The Real Life Traveler | Cruise & Vacation Specialist
Expedia CruiseShipCenters | Guelph | Rockwood | Ontario

 

Carnival Dream Cruise – Part I

Western Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Dream
Home Port: New Orleans
September 2016

dream-ininWe sailed from New Orleans, Louisiana on September 18, 2016 for a 7 day cruise in the Western Caribbean. This was our first cruise out of New Orleans, but will not likely be our last.

The itinerary included the Island of Roatan (Honduras), Belize and Cozumel (Mexico).

This is the first part of a number of posts in this Blog documenting our cruise adventure with 6 good friends.

The cruise terminal is easily accessible from the airport, about a 20 minute taxi ride for a fare of $35.The terminal is also conveniently located next to the French Quarter, hotels and is directly adjacent to RiverWalk Outlet Mall.

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We walked to the terminal from where we were staying at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, which is attached to the RiverWalk Outlet Mall. We were able to walk inside the mall for most of the time, but there were a couple of escalators, which wasn’t an issue with our rollerboards. At the end of the mall, there was an exterior staircase to walk down to the terminal. This could be an issue if you have large pieces of luggage. Otherwise, the terminal was essentially at the end of the stairs.

The exterior of the terminal felt industrial and dark, but once inside it was bright and clean.

We arrived at the terminal at 11:50 am for a reserved embarkation window of 12 noon and 12:30 pm.

Although we had a reserved window, Carnival’s system “broke” that day, I think, since there was a lineup and it took us the typical hour or so to get through security and to receive our stateroom keys. Having said, that, we were still unpacked and ready to have a bite to eat and a cold beverage by about 1:15 pm.

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New Orleans as we left the dock

The ship left the dock at about 4 pm and we started our cruise down the Mississippi River.

This was the first time that we’ve sailed the River. It was like a river cruise and Caribbean cruise combined!

We found it thoroughly enjoyable to view the scenery and industry along the River. The estimated time to reach the Gulf of Mexico was about 11 pm or 7 hours after we set sail. I went to the upper decks at 11 pm and there was not much to see. We were still on the River, but it was dark except for some navigation lights.

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Our stateroom keys just before I lost mine

This may seem odd, but one of the highlights of cruising for me is to take possession of our stateroom keys.

However, for the first time on a cruise, I lost my stateroom key the afternoon of the first day. I suspect I lost it when I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket.

I went to Guest Services and embarrassingly had to request a new key.There was no problem though, I walked away with a new key within 2 minutes. The Guest Services rep chuckled that I wasn’t as bad as the first guest that lost his key earlier that day, somewhere from the time he received it in the terminal to when he walked on the ship. That made me feel a little better.

We had a fabulous dinner in the Crimson dining area. This was the first of 4 dinners that we had the pleasure of being served by Head Waiter and Team Waiter, Juan and Roberto, respectively.They offered some of the best service, humour and attentiveness that I’ve ever had, anywhere, anytime. Even when we couldn’t be seated in their section, they dropped by to see how we were doing.

I got off to a great start with Juan the first night, when I presented my stateroom key to order two glasses of wine. He sheepishly came back, “Mr. Jeffrey, there seems to be something wrong with your account. You ordered a beverage on Lido deck this afternoon on a different card in your name. I don’t know what to say, but something isn’t right. I’m so sorry, Mr.Jeffrey”  I had to fess up in front of my travel companions and Juan that I had lost my card in the first two hours on-board. We all laughed that night and every night thereafter, that I was a problem passenger.

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Jeffrey Brookfield
The Real Life Traveler | Cruise & Vacation Specialist
Expedia CruiseShipCenters | Guelph | Rockwood | Ontario

 

 

FAQ: I like beach vacations, so probably wouldn’t like to cruise

I hear this all the time from friends and clients.

If you absolutely don’t like being on a ship in the ocean or a river, then a cruise isn’t likely for you and I would never try and convince you otherwise.

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The Real Life Traveler on the beach at Grand Turk

On the other hand, if you like beaches and want to explore the opportunity on a cruise ship, it can be a great experience. Here’s why.

On a traditional 7-day cruise to the Caribbean, the itinerary will include up to 3 or 4 ports of call. Many, if not all, of these ports will offer the chance to experience some of the greatest beaches in the world. You can disembark the ship in the morning, hit the beach and then get back on the ship in mid- to late-afternoon.

The greatest part of this is that you pack and unpack once for your cruise vacation, but get to experience of number of great beaches.

You get the best of both worlds.

Try it, you might like it. My guess is you will!

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Jeffrey Brookfield
The Real Life Traveler | Cruise & Vacation Specialist
Expedia CruiseShipCenters | Guelph, ON

Should the Zika Virus stop you from traveling to the Caribbean?

There is much in the news about the risks of traveling to Brazil, some Caribbean Islands and now Miami because of the threat of the Zika Virus.mosquito-062713-it-tif

This week, the Globe and Mail put the Zika Virus into context relative to other health-related risks.

This is a great read if you’re considering travel to those areas soon.  And yes, these issues will pass as well.

Read the Globe and Mail article here: The risk
of Zika is real, but not worthy of the hysteric

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Jeffrey Brookfield
The Real Life Traveler | Cruise & Vacation Specialist
Expedia CruiseShipCenters | Guelph, ON

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