Background: I took this cruise on the Carnival Dream with my mom. It was our annual mother/daughter cruise. We flew into Orlando the morning of the cruise and took a private Towncar through Cortrans transportation to the Port. We liked this much better than the Carnival sponsored bus transportation which gets more expensive every year. I highly recommend Cortrans. Service was friendly and their prices are a little more reasonable than some of the other companies (I did a lot of research).
Embarkation: This was my 10th cruise and this was by far the easiest embarkation I have ever experienced. We purchased The Faster to the Fun package which I cannot recommend enough. We were able to bypass the regular check-in line and go to a special VIP area for check-in. After check-in, we were given a priority boarding pass and led up to the waiting area. As soon as clearance was given (about 10 minutes after we arrived), we were allowed to board after the guests booked into suites. We were on the ship by 11:30am!
Cabin: Usually, the cabins aren't ready until 1:30pm, but because of the Faster to the Fun package, ours was ready as soon as we boarded. We booked an aft-balcony cabin on the Empress deck (deck 7). It was great! Very roomy and a fantastic view. The only drawback to the aft cabin was that the balcony dividers are slanted so you can see onto your neighbor's balcony and they can see yours. You will get to know your neighbor! There is also A LOT of walking because the cabin is at the very back of the ship.
Dining: We have the anytime dining, so we ate dinner each night in the Crimson dining room. Most nights we had a 10-20 minute wait for a table. The give you a beeper so you can walk around while you are waiting for a table. The food was fantastic as usual. Service was fast most nights. There were a couple of nights where it was a little on the slow side. We ate breakfast each morning in The Gathering (the Lido restaurant). Breakfast was just ok. The pancakes and waffles were clearly frozen and usually cold. They had a different type of potato each morning and it was usually something strange. Why not just have hashbrowns?
On-Board Experience: This ship only has two pools! With over 4000 guests, two pools are completely insufficient. Both pools stayed packed with people. Some days it was very difficult to even get into a pool. Neither of the pools is adults only so they are overrun with children. I dont know why they did not put a pool in the Serenity area. It was nice because it was quieter than other areas on the ship and the lounges were cushioned and more comfortable.
Cozumel: Having already been to Cozumel three times, we chose not to book an excursion. We shopped in the area around the port and ate lunch at the Three Amigos restaurant (highly recommend).
Isla Roatan, Honduras: We booked the All Inclusive Mayan Princess Beach Escape excursion. The bus ride to the beach club was about 45 minutes over some pretty rough roads. We didnt think we would ever get there! The beach club was gorgeous! The package includes use of the beach chairs, pool and hot tub, a buffet lunch and unlimited drinks (local beers, mixed drinks, sodas, water). My only complaint is that it is hard to relax on the beach with all of the locals walking up and down the beach trying to sell stuff. They are incessant and annoying. Just stay in the ocean or the pool and they wont bother you.
Belize: We booked the Airboat Experience with Belize City tour. There isn't a dock in Belize, so you have to tender ashore. We had to meet in the Encore lounge at 8:25am and wait for our tour to be called. It wasn't called until 9:30am! We then boarded the tender as a group and took the 20 minute ride to shore. After arriving, we boarded a bus for the airboat outpost. The staff is extremely professional and knowledgeable and it made for a great time. Your do have to wear ear protection on the airboat, but it's no big deal. We didn't see any manatees, but we did see crocodiles and plenty of birds. The tour was only supposed to last 2 Â½ hours, but it ended up being almost 4 hours. It was a long exhausting day. Make sure you stop by The Wet Lizard for drinks or for lunch before you take the tender back to the boat.
Costa Maya: We did not book an excursion here. There is a large shopping area with restaurants and a beautiful pool at the end of the pier. Wear your swimsuit! There is a swim-up bar at Senor Frog's and there is also a Carlos n Charlies. There is plenty to do without spending the money on an excursion.
Debarkation: While we had priority debarkation and could have been one of the first off the ship, we chose to do self-assist (carry your own luggage) so we could stay on the ship longer. We had a leisurely breakfast and left the ship about 9:00am. Once off the ship, the line for customs was very long, though it moved fast. Overall debarkation was easy and our car was waiting for us when we got off.
The Carnival Dream is a lot of fun and I would recommend it to anyone. Purchase the Faster to the Fun package if you dont already have priority (suite guests and platinum and diamond members). It is worth the money! You get on the ship fast, your room is ready, and your luggage is expedited to your room.