I am a firm believer that there can't ever be a bad cruise, and this trip validated that belief. I will try to walk you through my entire experience onboard from beginning to end.
Prior to arriving at the pier, we stayed at the Radisson at the Port Resort. We bought the park and cruise package and it was a little crazy trying to get to the ship. Since there were three ships leaving Port Canaveral that day, we waited over an hour past our appointment for a shuttle to our ship. We didn't mind being patient though, and were walking into the terminal by 11:30am.
Embarkation: This was my 10th cruise with Carnival, so I was awarded priority status. Therefore, everything was smooth. My in-laws were in the main line, but were done around the sometime that we were. So the checkin process was smooth for everyone. This was the first time they took cash for our sign and sail in the terminal; which eliminated the need to stand in the guest services line...yay!
Ship Decor: I found the Dream to a breathtaking ship! The decor was less vibrant than the ships from the smaller classes. It appeared to be the mature sibling to carnival's ships such as the inspiration and imagination. There seemed to be plenty of elevators and space!! It's hard to believe that there are almost 4,000 people on the ship; which is a positive. There were so crevices and lounges for people to find entertainment. Everything was clean! I never saw a dirty public bathroom. The crew was very diligent in maintaining the cleanliness of the ship!
Stateroom: I wish I would've chosen a stateroom located in a more quiet area. I constantly heard unsupervised children running around. The positive side to that was I was always close to the lido deck for Pizza, movies and drinks!!!
Entertainment: Since I was traveling with a two year old, I had my own source of continuous entertainment. However, it has been a long time since I've enjoyed the shows on the ship. We attended the Dancing in the Streets and Get Ready performances. My little one even sat the hour duration. We thoroughly enjoyed the break dancers, and attended their performance in the atrium. We attended two of the family comedy shows, and they were okay. I probably would've laughed harder if I had more drinks.
Food: Seven of us traveled as a family, and we ate every meal over seven days together, except for one. The dining room became our favorite place for breakfast, brunch and dinner. We only ate in The Gathering on the first day and during lunch. I have to say, I tried a variety of things in the dining room, and I always found something I loved. The food was hot and tasty. The staff was attentive and accommodating. Our waiter, I Made expressed concern why we skipped dinner after our Cozumel excurison; which made up feel missed. The lido food was Lukewarm unless you had pizza or a specialty restaurant, such as the burrito bar or Mongolian Wok. There was a Taste Bar in Ocean Plaza and the occasional Linai Bar B Q. The most memorable experience was the steakhouse. I recommend it highly. Although you are paying only $35, you are treated as of you paid $100.
Shopping: Prior to sailing, I made up my mind that I wanted a designer watch for the Funshops, and I found just what I was looking for. I was disappointed in the shopping consultants and the port shops. It was one of the worst shore shopping experiences I've ever had. I usually walk away with tons of free jewelry and prizes from raffles. It seemed really insignificant on this trip.
Debarkation was just as smooth as the embarkation. We didn't check our bags, and decided to carry them off. We were off the ship and through customs by 8:00 am.
Already booked for summer 2014 and looking into Dec 2013!