My family and I traveled on the Carnival Dream for a 7 day cruise from August 18 to the 25, 2012. I wanted to share the good and the bad with you so that you can make an informed decision about your future cruises. Our party consisted of my husband, 11 year old son, 19 year old son, and me. This was our 3rd cruise (our others were on Disney). We were booked into a deck 8 balcony stateroom.
Our stateroom stewards were great, they knew our names and faces by the second day. Their towel animals were so fun to come back to each night. Our room was spotless.
The ship was massive. There were places that we didn't discover or find even by the end of the week. I think that the sheer number of people on the ship (4500) was a problem in that there were often extensive lines at the buffet areas. Sometimes the dirty dishes piled up on the tables and did not get cleaned up quickly enough. There were no places to put your used dishware, so you had to drop it on a table when you passed by it.
Speaking of dishes, we chose the Dine Your Way plan and stopped for dinner around 6:30 each night in the Crimson Dining Room. There was an everyday menu and a daily menu. We each enjoyed our meals, including appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. We tried new things like frogs' legs and escargot. There was no limit to the number of dishes you ate each night, and if you disliked your meal, the wait staff was happy to get you something else. There were only a couple of dishes that weren't enjoyed (more because of personal taste than bad cooking).
The pools seemed small and unable to accommodate the number of people who wanted to swim. There were plenty of hot tubs-some overridden with children! The water slides were fun, but the floor was very slippery (duh, water). Be warned, my younger son really wacked his head on the Drainpipe as he came to the end and the Twister will scratch your back up on the seams of the slide. The racing slides were quick.
The game room (the Warehouse) was well hidden. We didn't find it until the 5th day of the cruise. The good thing about it being hard to find was that it was never overly busy. I also noticed a sign that stated no more than $75 could be put on the sign and sail card daily without parental permission.
The casino had plenty of machines and table games. It never seemed overcrowded. Be warned, on the last day at sea you must cash out your sign and sail card. If you don't, you could lose what you won.
The Cruise Director, Steve, and his assistant, Brittney, were great, as was the rest of the entertainment staff. The stage shows were not Broadway quality, but were entertaining. The stage sets were well made. There was a group of break dancers that my son just loved (especially 'Random'). They participated in a couple of the stage shows as well as activities that involved would-be dancers. The activities were a lot of fun too. We loved the Gender Wars, Trivia Challenges, and the Q&A sessions the best.
Excursions: I strongly suggest if you want to zip-line that you do it with Zip 'n Clip in Mahogany Bay, Roatan (we heard horror stories of excessive waits and lines at the other ports). The guides were phenomenal (ask for Mike). We saw Mayan Ruins in Belize. This excursion included a bus tour of Belize City. In Cozumel we visited both Kaokao (a local chocolate factory-book online) and Mr. Sanchos beach club (pay as you go, not all inclusive).