The ship was close to perfect. Staff extremely helpful and competent. Shows were great, Food left a bit to be desired. There was plenty of food and a great selection at dinner, but I feel the menu is stretched so thin, the quality of the food can suffer. The Lido deck buffet is not open enough. Give an extra hour or two after typical breakfast and lunch hours please! Entertainment was nothing more than it should have been nor less. Casino adequate, nightlife good, plenty of booze, lots of live music. Overall a 4.0-4.5 star cruise.
Picked the Dream mainly for the price point, but the Port Canaveral embarkation was very ideal for mainly location reasons, but their port fees are $70+ less than Miami as well. Embarkation was extremely seamless, friendly and quick. We booked the cruise last minute and found a great deal as well as received a cabin upgrade for being a past cruiser. Thanks Carnival!
My buddy and I just graduated college and wanted one last mini-spring break trip before the real world hit us to celebrate. I've been on Disney and Carnival, and my buddy has been on Royal Caribbean. Typically in order of quality; Disney, RC, Carnival... But Carnival definitely made its case on the trip. Something I wasn't expecting.
The itinerary was great, the Eastern Caribbean is much more enticing than the Western in my opinion. All 3 ports (Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten) were all very efficient in getting passengers where they wanted to go. It is pretty hectic, but finding your way isn't very hard. Just keep one hand on your family and the other on your wallet pocket and you'll be fine.
The ship itself was extremely clean. I'm a stickler for logistics, and the ship's layout was surprisingly efficient and easy to navigate. Lots of elevators and stairs to prevent bad congestion.
FOOD - Don't expect a wow-ing plate every time you eat. There are a few dishes at dinner that wow, but other than that it's pretty typical. The staff do a great job, but the food just isn't what cruise food used to be. If you're unsure about what you're ordering, don't get it, whereas on a cruise you used to be able to enjoy even dishes you weren't very sure about because they were just so good. The ship is huge and there's about 6k people to feed including the staff, the food is not going to be exceptional every time you eat. However, there is always something good to eat. And of course, unlimited portions. dining room was fun.
ENTERTAINMENT - 2 out of the 6 comedians we saw on board were above average, the other 4 were just average, which isn't bad at all. They all were at least moderately funny. There's always great live music being played throughout the ship, whether it's a "man and his guitar" on the pool deck, the cosmopolitan 3-piece on deck 5, the asian duo that loves Paul Simon in the lobby, the piano man, and many other groups, they're all very good and very entertaining. Nothing beats live music for atmosphere, and Carnival nailed it. Really would have loved some soft jazz in the dining room though with the piano man and some other pieces. LOTS of random activities, Jaime(e?) the cruise director was spectacular. You can tell she tries a little too hard sometimes, but she has to. She's the director. She's great and very personable. The shows were the perfect length and surprisingly good.
ROOMS - Cabins were great. You typically don't spend much time in there anyway, so for what it's used for, it's great. Cleaned twice a day, climate control can be finnicky (pray for a good one). They're decorated well, and everything you need is there.
The decor of the ship is fairly typical, but definitely classy. I'm no designer so I won't even try to find adjectives for it.
Overall, great ship, great staff. I did catch the rumored fecal smell every now and then, it is definitely true. But it wasn't a huge problem. Just a random whiff in the elevator area every now and then. Even though the ship is huge, and there's more people, it's definitely not crowded. Don't worry about that. Nightlife is great if the demographics on the ship work out for it.