As you’d expect from a large-sized cruise ship, guests on World Dream have a wide range of specialty and complimentary dining venues to choose from.
Unfortunately, with the odd exception here and there, none of them are particularly good. I’d go so far as to say that foodies should avoid the World Dream, where a whole lot of culinary disappointment awaits onboard.
|🚢 Cruise to Nowhere: Dream Cruises
Dining Packages and Credits
Unlike Royal Caribbean, Dream Cruises’ website lists virtually zero information about their dining packages or menus. You can’t book any dining venues or buy packages in advance; all this can only be done once on board.
On embarkation day, head to the main lobby at Deck 6 and look for the pop-up dining booth. This is where you’ll be able to purchase dining packages and credits at a one-day-only discount. Depending on your sailing, reservations at some specialty restaurants may fill up fast, so settle this first before going to enjoy the rest of the ship.
Let’s start with the simpler one: dining credits. You’ll enjoy up to 20% off dining credits if purchased on embarkation day:
- Pay S$50 get S$55 credit (9% off)
- Pay S$100 get S$120 credit (17% off)
- Pay S$150 get S$180 credit (17% off)
- Pay S$200 get S$250 credit (20% off)
Credits can be used at any F&B outlet onboard, with the exception of The Palace (the special restaurant for suites guests).
Aside from F&B credits, certain set menus at restaurants like Umi Uma, Hot Pot and Prime Steakhouse can be purchased at 20% off. Surprisingly, you can pay for these discounted set menus with your discounted dining credits, saving even more in the process.
The booking system is really inefficient and manual, though. None of it is digital; once you decide on a set menu, you’ll need to wait as a staff member picks up the phone, calls the restaurant and makes the reservation. This means that if there’s a queue at the pop-up booth when you arrive, you likely have a long wait ahead.
As for drinks, four different beverage packages are available for purchase.
|All drinks except hard liquor
|All non-alcoholic drinks
|^Referring to the ones available by the glass or shot. Obviously, the thousand dollar bottles of wine are excluded | *Price refers to total cost per person for a 3-night voyage
Guests staying in Palace Suites used to receive a free premium drinks package that let them imbibe as much as they wanted all throughout the ship, but this was recently nerfed. They now receive an evening happy hour in the Palace Lounge instead, with selected wines, beers, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages.
To give you a sense of a la carte drinks prices (all prices have an 18% service charge added to them, represented by the +):
- Soft drinks: S$3+
- Latte: S$3.50+
- Fresh apple juice: S$8+
- Glass of red/white wine: S$9+
- Beer: S$10+
- Cocktails: S$13.50+
- Spirits: S$15+
Happy hour runs from 6 p.m to 10 p.m daily at the bars, with selected alcoholic beverages available for S$6+.
|11:30 a.m to 2.30 p.m
|6 p.m to 9 p.m
|Milelion Verdict: Cheap ingredients, expensive add-ons, and the overwhelming feeling that you’re just paying for the novelty of hotpot on a boat.
Hot Pot is located on Deck 8, and features an all-outdoor seating area. As part of the modifications they’ve made in the COVID era, each guest now has his/her personal hotpot. I actually prefer this arrangement, to be honest- one of the miracles of hotpot is how everyone doesn’t walk away with food poisoning (have you seen how disciplined people are about mixing raw/cooked food?).
Hot Pot has a choice of three different sets:
- Premium Combination- meat and vegetables (S$25+)
- Luxury Combination- seafood and vegetables (S$35+)
- Deluxe Combination- seafood, meat and vegetables (S$39+)
Don’t get fooled by the names, there’s nothing premium or luxurious about the ingredients here. My “premium” set was packed with cheap items like fatty pork belly, gristle-filled meat balls, some stringy cuts of beef, and bulked up with bean curd.
A very tiny portion of vegetables accompanied the meat (remember, they shrink when cooked).
Three choices of broth are available (chicken, mala, tom yum), and I went with the chicken. It’s a herbal chicken broth which is slightly bitter, but if you don’t want anything spicy then it’s your only choice. A free flow of steamed rice is served, and the waitstaff will help you assemble your own dipping sauce with the usual assortment of garlic, coriander, chili padi and soya sauce.
The portions are small (I certainly wasn’t full), and topping up via the a la carte menu is expensive. Expect to pay S$5+ for a single portion of enoki mushrooms, S$6+ for beef and pork balls, and S$17+ for a serving of pork belly.
If you love your hotpot, you’re going to be disappointed here. Save your budget for Tsukada Nojo or Beauty in the Pot/HDL when you’re back on land.
Prime Steakhouse by Mark Best
|11:30 a.m to 2.30 p.m
|6 p.m to 9 p.m
|Milelion Verdict: Overpriced, even by cruise ship standards, and underwhelming.
If you’re looking for a good steak, you won’t find it at Prime Steakhouse.
Let’s talk prices. Even with 20% off (which effectively negates the 18% service charge, so you can consider the menu prices approximately nett), food here is expensive. The cheapest steak costs S$58, which for the sake of comparison, is almost the cost of an entire meal at Chops Grille on Quantum of the Seas (S$68, with as many appetizers, mains, sides and desserts as you want).
And it’s not even good. I ordered the Black Angus Rib Eye (S$58) with a side of french fries (S$5). I was expecting that for $5, they’d give some proper thick-cut steak fries, but received exactly the same thing they were serving at the buffet for free.
As for the steak, I have no complaints about the cook, but the meat was poorly marbled and tasted bland. Even a liberal application of peppercorn sauce couldn’t help it.
It felt like really poor value for money, and to top it off, the staff didn’t know their wines. I requested a glass of sparkling wine from the menu (Cruset Blanc de Blancs), and received a glass of sickeningly-sweet moscato instead. This mix up happened twice during the cruise- once here, and again at Hot Pot. If you’re ordering wine, be sure to ask them to pour from the bottle in front of you.
|11:30 a.m to 2.30 p.m
|6 p.m to 9 p.m
|Milelion Verdict: Teppanyaki is worth a try, but avoid the other items on the menu.
Thankfully, not all the specialty restaurants are duds. Umi Uma’s teppanyaki was the highlight of my meals onboard World Dream. It wasn’t cheap (I believe my set was about S$100 nett), but at least you get what you pay for.
I ordered a surf and turf set as part of the embarkation deals, which started with a small salad topped with sesame dressing.
The chef (who yes, does all the usual Benihana-esque tricks like juggling, shrimp tossing and egg anaconda-ing [you’ll know it when you see it]) then started preparing the stir-fried vegetables.
And then on to the main attraction of fillet mignon and jumbo shrimp. The beef was much better than what I had over at Prime Steakhouse, and the shrimp were sweet and delicious.
A portion of egg fried rice was also served, and the chef was generous with the refills.
For dessert, a delicious banana pancake was served, with vanilla ice cream.
As good as the teppanyaki is, you’ll want to avoid the rolls and sashimi. I returned on the final night to finish off my dining credit, and it’s…underwhelming. To top it off, they don’t serve real wasabi on board, just the artificial green playdoh type.
Dream Dining Room
The Dream Dining Room (DDR) is the equivalent of the main dining room on World Dream. Three meals a day are served here, all included with your cruise fare.
No reservations are needed, which is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, there’s no need to plan ahead. On the other, show up at the wrong time and you may need to wait. When it’s your turn, the staff at reception will write a paper ticket with a table allocation, and you’ll show yourself to your seat.
The DDR is divided into two sections- Upper and Lower. The Upper section serves Chinese food, while the Lower section serves Western food. Despite this distinction, they both have exactly the same décor, and if you didn’t know better, you’d think the Lower section was a Chinese restaurant too.
They’re also directly connected via a staircase, which leads me to believe this used to be one single restaurant before it was divided by cuisine.
Dream Dining Room (Lower)
|7 a.m to 9.30 a.m
|11.30 a.m to 2.30 p.m
|5.30 p.m to 8.30 p.m
|Milelion Verdict: Stick to the fish and you’ll be fine.
The lower DDR tended to have shorter queues, which was slightly surprising because dishes here were brought course by course (versus all at once in the upper DDR).
Breakfast is a very simple affair. The menu is exactly the same each day, save for a daily special that rotated between french toast, waffles, and pancakes. The food quality was unimpressive, and heavily reliant on processed items like ham, sausages and baked beans.
Lunch and dinner were slightly better, and I have to say, I was surprised by how good the fish dishes were. I was expecting them to serve dory or some other bottom feeder, but instead, I was treated to a moist and delicious piece of seabass.
I also had a broiled red snapper with lemon and garlic that was right on the money.
The rest of the stuff, sadly, was cheap and unappetizing. Cream of corn soup was so starchy you could almost pull it out of your bowl, salads were topped with rubbery frozen seafood and artificially-sweet thousand island dressing. I’d actually have been perfectly happy just going for the mains and skipping everything else.
Dream Dining Room (Upper)
|6.30 a.m to 9 a.m
|11.30 a.m to 2.30 p.m
|5.30 p.m to 9 p.m
|Milelion Verdict: Safe, if unspectacular Chinese fare.
The DDR’s upper section serves Chinese cuisine. If you’re heading here for breakfast, be warned: service ends at 9 a.m (although that said, early breakfast seems to be a theme on Dream Cruises- the Western breakfast ended at 9.30 a.m, and the buffet at 10 a.m).
The menus, as you’d expect, feature the kind of traditional Chinese dishes that would make grandma happy.
There’s no need to choose your items here; a portion of each main course will be served as part of a set. This means that single passengers (like me) will have no shortage of food. You can ask for refills of any dish if you want.
Breakfast is very carb heavy, but thankfully they serve a good mix of proteins for lunch and dinner. I wouldn’t call any particular dish life-changing, although it’s definitely better than any Chinese food served on Royal Caribbean. My main regret was the steamed rice, actually. If the rice is bad, the meal is ruined, and the rice on World Dream was mushy without any jasmine fragrance.
|7 a.m to 10 a.m
|12 p.m to 3 p.m
|6 p.m to 9.30 p.m
|Milelion Verdict: Nightmarish. Send the kids here if they’re naughty.
The Lido is World Dream’s buffet, and in so many words, it’s awful. Think industrial cafeteria food, then imagine it a hundred times worse. Then picture it served in a chaotic, cramped environment with screaming kids and dirty tables, and you’ve only started to conceptualise the hell that is Lido.
And yet, this venue had some of the longest lines of any venue. It was almost impossible to get a seat during breakfast or dinner.
I suspect it’s because Lido is one of the few places onboard catering to Halal diets, so those folks don’t have much of a choice.
I could spam you with photos of the buffet spread, but you’ll have to take my word for it that most items were greasy, soggy messes, sitting in a tepid stew of lukewarm gravy and harsh lighting.
Crowd control at Lido was abysmal. Just like the DDR, you’re given a ticket with your seat number, but unlike the DDR, very few people actually stuck to theirs. On several occasions, I arrived at my seat only to find it already occupied, which necessitated revisiting the reception to get a reassignment. There was no clear system to indicate that people were done with their food, so half-eaten plates remained uncleared for prolonged periods of time, even after guests had left, further adding to the capacity crunch.
In the outside area near the pool is the Lido Outdoor Snacks Corner, an extension of the Lido buffet meant for grab-and-go.
But I hope you like stale pastries and fried food cooked in slightly rancid oil, because that’s all you’ll get here.
To summarize: Avoid Lido, unless you need a very fast pick-me-up and there’s no queue.
If you consider yourself a foodie, I could not in good conscience recommend Dream Cruises. It’s never a good sign when you find yourself asking “what’s the least bad thing I can eat today”, and that was pretty much my daily routine. Apart from teppanyaki at Umi Uma, it was dismal all round. In fact, it reminds me of the “food is fuel” approach taken by some lower-end Vegas casinos, which focus on feeding guests as cheaply and efficiently as possible so that they can get back to gaming.
I’m told that Palace guests enjoy a better menu at the Palace Restaurant, so if any of you have visited that one, do sound out. Based on my non-Palace experience though, I’ll say that food is definitely not going to be the highlight of your voyage.