8 out of the 11 in our party were first time cruisers and we ranged in age from 2 - 75 years old. We selected the Dream based on value and there seems to be something for everyone.
My family of 4 (husband, 7 and 11 year old sons) flew into Orlando the day before, rented a car one-way from Budget for $30 and drove to Cape Canaveral. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Cape Canaveral - nice hotel, very clean and close to the port. Free Wi-Fi (connection was spotty in our room, better in the dining room) and hot breakfast which made it easy for us. We were able to see the Carnival Dream docked from our hotel. On Saturday morning we woke up early, had breakfast and then spent sometime on Cocoa Beach while waiting for the rest of our family to arrive (they flew in the morning of the cruise - which was fine but exhausting as they had to wake up at 3am to catch their flight). The line up for the shuttle at Budget was crazy - we waited almost an hour for the shuttle to take us to the port.
The embarkation process was very easy and quick and we were on the ship and at the buffet on Lido deck by 1pm. Our luggage and rooms were ready by 1:30pm.
- there were very few kids on the ship (the Camp Carnival counselor mentioned something like 200) so there was no line up for water slides and lots of space in the pools
- did not notice the crowds, line ups for food was very quick
- Wasabi sushi bar was delicious - we would get "sushi appetizers" every day before heading to our early dining in the Scarlet
- our servers in the Scarlet (Erwin & Robie) were awesome, they were very friendly and accommodating to our requests. Robie greeted me by name the second morning at the buffet breakfast
- our room stewards were great, very friendly and efficient
- ship was very clean - we saw people cleaning all the time
- there was lots of activities to keep everyone busy on sea days - mini golf, pool, hot tub, water slides, trivia games (my son won a gold Carnival Dream ship on a stick which he is so proud of!)
- we really enjoyed the pastrami sandwiches and smoked salmon from the Deli as well as the Tandoori Grill with fresh naan bread
No so highlights:
- the kids were not too enthused about Camp Carnival - as I was dropping off my younger one, two of the counselors were yelling at each other and they look exasperated most of the time. Our boys only went twice, they would rather hang out with us
- they could have utilized their seaside theatre a lot more, most of the time it was the Carnival Dream logo showing on the big screen. We did enjoy the movies at night with popcorn.
- I did notice the sewage smell, especially around the elevators on Deck 7 but it wasn't all the time
- the layout of the ship was frustrating at times and took us 3-4 days to figure things out. There were a couple of times that we had to go up one floor, across and back down one floor to get to our destination or run through the dining room to get across to the other side....
Overall, everyone had a wonderful time and we are already thinking about our next cruise!