My family and I sailed on the Carnival Freedom last year, and the Dream this year. Although the Freedom is slightly smaller, it is very similar to the Dream.
Although sailing with Carnival is virtually a guaranteed great vacation, I did experience a few disappointments this time.
Our dining table was moved twice, and each time to a less desirable location. Although our wait staff was incredible, we did experience some delays and less efficiency than we had on the Freedom. Although no one would say anything, I suspect that this was due to a reduction in the work force, or perhaps a result of more passengers than on the Freedom. Regardless, nothing to complain too strongly about.
I'm not a big gambler, but do enjoy playing the slots. That is, until I visited the Dream's casino. Whereas the Freedom had a wealth of machines, virtually the entire port side of the Dream's casino was given over to table games. In addition, floor space was not well utilized. Playing on the Dream quickly became boring, and certainly not profitable. From a business perspective, I can understand Carnival's decision to use the floor space more profitably, but that doesn't help the passengers.
Finally, I have to mention how disheartening it is to book a cruise early, only to find the exact same accommodations available for hundreds less, closer to the sailing date. I guess the lesson here is, the second mouse gets the cheese.
On the plus side, I'm afraid there is just too much to list. Of course, all of the Carnival staff that we encountered were friendly and professional. Our adjoining balcony cabins were perfect, and location on the Lido deck made pool and buffet access very convenient. While the ship's appointments are not as "vibrant" as the Freedom's, I found that to be something of a relief.
As expected, the food and entertainment on the Dream uphold Carnival's high standards. I am compelled to recommend the Wok. Usually a bit of a line, but well worth the wait. Also, the steakhouse is just incredible.
if you are a first time cruiser, you will be completely blown away. If you are a vet, there are no significantly unpleasant surprises.