This was our first time on Carnival and we loved it. I booked just about the time of the Triumph incident and the Dream issue. Our family was not sure what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised at the service,quality of food and amenities on the Dream. We have cruised Royal Caribbean and Disney in the past and have always shied away from Carnival based on others opinions. We could only find very slight differences between this cruise and others and nothing was a deal breaker so now we will include Carnival as one of our choices. Are we loyal to one cruise line, probably not.
Embarkation was a breeze. We parked at Cruise Parking of Port Canaveral which was great and inexpensive. Drop off and pick up was easy. Since we did not have to wait for other passengers to disembark we were on the ship in less than an hour from parking to on the ship by 11:00 AM.
We ate dinner every night in the MDR and had great service and did not find anything that we did not like. Even though we were on a Spring Break cruise we were able to get our late dining switched to early dining once on the ship as we had our five year old granddaughter with us who loves eating in the dining room. My DH loved the more casual dining room attire but everyone still looked nice. Of course living in Florida we do have a more casual atmosphere to dining.
I do have to say that we enjoyed Royal Caribbean's breakfast and lunch choices at the buffet better. The quality of food was good just the choices were not always to our liking. The Deli had great sandwiches not to miss and the burgers and pizza were not bad either. We did the Punchliner Brunch one day and the food was very good but the comedy was not so great. We spent many evenings in the Ocean Plaza listening to the Black Jack Band which was very entertaining to a wide range of ages. They really wanted to make the guests happy and would take requests which they did a great job performing.
We did go to the Piano Bar one night and enjoyed Bob the Piano Man and the atmosphere of this lounge also. My husband is not a show type of person so we did not attend any shows in the Theater. During the day there was plenty to do. The pool area is small and as with all cruise ships finding a lounge chair by the pool is almost impossible unless you are there before 8:00 AM. Fear not though, on deck 5 there are many lounge chairs if you do not need to be by the pool. We also did the Bar-B-Que one day and it was good which is also on deck 5 on sea days.
My granddaughter loved Camp Carnival and spent as many hours as possible there most days.The kids were kept very active and also seemed to be having a great time. She also loved the waterworks area of the ship with the slides.
I will not comment of the ports other than we enjoyed both St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We did not get off the ship in Nassau as we have been there many times.
Debarkation was easy as we had almost the last number called to get off so we were able to have a nice leisurely breakfast.
Don't be afraid of Carnival after all the bad media stories or even some of the reviews you have read. Try it for yourself and I think you will like it.