We did a 7-night western Caribbean cruise including stops at Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan Honduras and costa maya on the carnival dream.
The ship was very big and did seem to have a ton of amenities, but overall I wouldn't say I liked it. I would not book on this ship again, nor would I recommend it to friends. It's not a bad ship but i feel there are better options in the same price range. We are a family of four traveling with a 9-month old and a 4-year old.
The ship has great staff, very helpful and friendly. Really could not ask for more in this respect. For example any time we were eating with our 9-month old, we were offered a high chair within minutes of sitting down.
Though our son did not take advantage of Camp Carnival, it seems like a really great resource with the cell phones they give you to stay in touch.
The food in the MDR was good, not the best I have had on a cruise, but certainly not bad and the portion sizes were perfect. At first I thought they were skimpy but I came to realize that on a cruise this is a good thing, I polished off an appetizer, main and dessert and didn't feel overstuffed.
Behind the main buffet was a Tandoor mini buffet that served unbelievable Roti (Indian bread) out of an actual tandoor at lunch. The Indian food was very good.
The spa was very nice, they ran specials that brought down the price of a one-hour massage to $99. The massage itself was nothing special but certainly relaxing. There is a free coed sauna that is free for all to use, and a laconium (?) and steam rooms for paying spa customers to use that was quite nice.
The gym was clean, with a great variety of equipment. I went three times and never had to wait for a treadmill.
Cons in no particular order
"The Gathering" buffet is a really depressing place to sit and eat, which I think is really unfortunate given the fact that most people eat two if not three meals there daily . It is dark (the maroon ceilings do not help!), tightly packed, and often smells of either dish water or cigarette smoke, as there is a smoking area just next to one side of it. Most of the light provided comes from tacky fluorescent lights, the natural light does not make it very far beyond the table closest to the window. The decor screams "trashy diner." This was the first place we went with our carry on luggage upon embarking (room was not ready yet) and it really set the tone for the cruise for me. To make matters worse, the buffet itself is laid out rather poorly, where you have to get on one line cafeteria style and slide along picking up items. Compare with other cruise lines that put the food out on "islands" that you walk up to from any side and serve yourself, which is far more efficient. If I had to pick one thing that if changed would improve the overall experience, it would be The Gathering buffet.
The linens were often stained (not soiled, but discolored), which was kind of gross . Made it feel more like a motel than a hotel.
Disembarking at Belize City was by tender, and the wait was so long (over an hour!) that we ended up just staying on the boat. I realize this might not be a ship-specific issue but perhaps the logistics of arranging people to get on tenders could have been better.
It was very hard to find a quiet place to sit. The center pool area has very loud music playing pretty much all day long, and a third of the area permits smoking, which means the whole area smells faintly of cigarette smoke. The best outdoor place to sit if you want quiet (and no smoke) is the walkway on deck 5 that goes around the ship.
The pools are filled with saltwater, not chlorine. Maybe there is some benefit to this but I list this as a con because I prefer chlorine, the saltwater stung my legs and it was not comfortable to stay in for more than 20 minutes.
No baby changing tables anywhere on the ship as best as I could find. I found this confusing given the abundance of high chairs.
Elevators were generally pretty slow anytime the boat was at sea. It was not uncommon to have to wait for three cars to pass before boarding. I ended up taking the stairs often, which maybe wasn't a bad thing but when you have a stroller, stairs aren't an option.
No paper towels in any public restrooms, only air dryers, and unusually loud ones at that!
The gym offered very few free classes. Almost all require payment.
General announcements are very loud and even when made in the hallways and public areas, it's still loud in the rooms. Annoying when we docked early and the cruise director came on at 6:30am to tell us that we could disembark, or at 9:30pm when the kids were sleeping to tell everyone about the shows.
Bring a power strip if you need more than one outlet.
Register your kids for camp carnival before you arrive (48 hours before I believe? Same window as for online check in). The registration lines are very long and you will save time. Also, don't wait until the first day at sea to drop off your Camp Carnival paperwork and get the mobile phone they provide you with, the lines were crazy.
If you are traveling with kids, the main show isn't always suitable for them (they might be bored). On some nights there is a show for "all ages" in the comedy club on deck 5 aft that is worth checking out.
Cappuccino and espresso are included on the dessert menu in the MDR, but cost extra at all other times. Take advantage!
On sea days, you can do much better than the buffet for lunch. There are half a dozen specialty buffets around the boat like BBQ, Indian, sushi, burritos, etc. and the lines are usually shorter.