We sailed the Carnival Dream the week of June 2 for the Eastern Caribbean itinerary. On this trip were myself, my husband, and our son (age 14). We all had a great time on this trip, and would sail both this ship and this itinerary again.
Embarkation: Extremely easy. We arrived around 11AM and were on the boat by 1145. Employees working in this department were very friendly and very fast.
Cabin: This was our second time in a balcony room. We love the balcony, and will probably find it very difficult to ever go back to just a window. The balcony gives you a quiet, personal space to enjoy the outside. The room itself was spacious enough for the three of us. There was adequate storage space. The bathroom is small, but adequate. Our cabin steward was great - he was always prompt and courteous. He did a great job of keeping our room clean and stocked with fresh towels and chocolates!
Food: We had Your Time Dining - occasionally we had to wait for a table, but never very long. The food was good, but not exceptional. I was disappointed to find out that many of the menu items were the same items that were on the menu on The Legend which we sailed in November of 2011. Lunch options are plentiful - DO NOT miss the Lanai BBQ (exceptional burgers and pork tacos); the Mongolian Wok station (get there shortly before it opens so that you don't have to wait in a long, slow line). We also enjoyed the cook-to-order pasta bar. Absolutely best meal of the week was in Chefs Art Steakhouse - worth every penny of the extra money it costs to eat there!
Entertainment: Quite a variety of things to do on the boat. The Sail Away show and the Dancing in the Streets show were the best of the production shows. The Carnival Legends show at the end of the week was good too. There was one show in the middle of the week in which we left half-way through - was not very entertaining, and in the words of my husband..."There is a reason that American Idol judge, Randy Jackson, uses the statement, 'It was a typical cruise ship performance.'" The Fun Force Dancers are really good, and I would recommend their shows to all age groups. We went to several comedy shows - all were good, but some were great! On the other-hand, Jeff the Fun Dude is a horrible bore. The outdoor theater is nice; however, when the Lido Deck is full of noisy teenagers, it can be a little hard to hear. The Laser Show is not worth the 2 million dollars Carnival brags about spending on it. I resisted the overly-priced pay-for-play Bingo games.
Youth Program - Circle C: Our son enjoys some aspects of this group; however, this is a tough age group to please. With being at the top end of the age group, he doesn't enjoy all the activities that they have planned. He typically meets a group of kids at the start of the trip; and, then they hang out the rest of the week. He did say that he wished they had had a TV in the Circle C area dedicated to sports - my 14-year old son had to sit at the bar in the Casino to watch sports on TV. He and his friends enjoyed the Ocean Plaza areas and the Lido Deck areas the most.
Outdoor Areas: None of us swam in any pools or hot tubs. Just from observance, the pools seemed small for the size of ship and number of people on board. Did not use the Serenity area during the day, nor at night as it seemed to be the teen make-out spot! The Lido Deck is much too noisy during the day for me. I found Deck 5 a GREAT place to be during the day. If you are looking for a quiet place to sit in the sun and read, then this is the spot for you!
Ports of Call: Nassau - wish the time in port was longer. It seemed like there was not a lot of time. Here, we visited the Queen's Staircase and Fort Fincastle - both within walking distance of the port. St. Thomas - I would suggest booking an island tour through the cruise line for this port. Hopefully, by doing this, you would get a more comfortable ride that the open-air cattle truck contraption that is provided for the on-shore taxi tours. Megan's Bay was pretty, but extremely crowded - would like to go there on a day when there are no cruise ships in port. St. Martin - our excursion got cancelled, so we felt like we were floundering a bit. We took the water taxi to the beach/shopping areas - both were very busy.
Staff: The folks working on The Dream work harder than most Americans would ever be willing to work. They were constantly working hard to keep things clean and in order. Almost all were very friendly and willing to help.
Cleanliness: As I stated earlier, the employees were constantly working hard to keep things clean and picked up. And, I would guess that keeping things clean all the time when 4500 people are constantly making a mess is a hard thing to do.
Debarkation: Again, very easy. Zones were called in a timely manner. The Ocean Plaza area provided a nice, comfortable place to wait. Baggage was claimed quickly.
Overall Ship: This is a BIG boat and it holds a lot of people! It did take us a couple of days to acclimate ourselves to the layout, but once we figured things out, there were no issues. Some folks mention a strange smell - we never found it. Others mention that this boat rocks more than others - again, not an issue for us; although I will say that we had relatively calm seas all week. Decor is nice - not as gaudy as some ships. Lines were not a big issue once you knew when the "busy" times were.
Area in need of improvement: The pizza bar. The pizzas and calzones are good; however, late at night, they only have one person working there. Poor guy had to make, cook, cut, and serve pizzas all by himself.
A cruise is what you decide it is going to be - you can try to go to every activity or you can sit back and do nothing. We tried to find a balance with this trip; and, it proved to be a great thing. We relaxed during the day and enjoyed the entertainment at night. It is very evident that Carnival puts a lot of time and effort into making these trips a good experience for all walks of life. Thank you Carnival for doing a great job. We will be back!