My wife and I took the Carnival Dream Eastern Caribbean Cruise from 7-14 September. Overall we had a good time but there were ups and down during the week.
Embarkation went very smoothly. It only took about 20-30 minutes from check-in to on-board. During lunch on the first day at the buffet, we ran into the theme of the cruise, many many people and lines. We had a hard time finding a place to sit for lunch and had to wait and battle people in the entire area. The ship is very big but also has lots of people on it so it seemed like everything was crowded most of the time. It wasn't as bad as on the Breeze during last Spring Break time but it was still very crowded.
As far as the food goes, very mixed reviews. First, the Dream could definitely use an upgrade to include Guys Burger Joint and the Burrito place. I think the buffet was pretty bad overall. Sometimes the food was cold and the quality was not very good (especially at breakfast). There were a few good things at the buffet (Indian, Pizza and Desserts) but not impressed overall. The dinner in the dining room was better and most of our meals were good. Some things were excellent but others were not good. We didn't have a meal start to finish was that was all good. We often ate in the dining room for breakfast and lunch or the Comedy Brunch. Overall the food was good for these meals. However, the service was pretty bad. It felt like since you weren't their permanent dinner table, the servers didn't care about doing a good job. They often forgot items and didn't seem friendly or happy to be there. The service at dinner was excellent! We had a really fun table that Carnival put us with (3 other couples our age) and dinner was always a good experience with the great service.
Entertainment: Again, good and bad things. The big production shows were below average. 6 out of 7 nights were singing and dancing shows with one hypnotist. There should have been more variety because it was just the same thing over and over again. The production show performers weren't that good. There were some acrobats and break-dancers and they were excellent, I could have seen lots more of them! We loved the comedy shows! I would say they were the highlight of the cruise. The comedy club on the ship was the best I've seen in all my cruises. All 4 comedians were hilarious and the host did a great job opening the show (he was previously a comedian).
Our cabin steward was the worst I've seen in all of my cruises but I think it was more of a fluke than a trend of Carnival. We didn't have hand soap in our room when we got to our cabin the first day. When we called the guest services desk about it, they said that they would give it to us during the evening turn-down. That was a ridiculous answer. Did they not want us to wash our hands after using the bathroom that afternoon? That was disappointing with the guest services. Our body wash wasn't refilled for 4 days and it didn't get re-filled until it was completely empty. There were a couple of instances where he forgot to pick-up and exchange towels on the floor. I feel like he paid more attention to the towel animals than the basic task of cleaning the room. However, probably just a 1-off, last Carnival cruise the stewardess was excellent.
The ports were good. I would prefer to skip the Bahamas, not too much to do in Nassau and it's always so crowded there with all of the cruise ships in. Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Grand Turk were all great.
So overall, it was a fine cruise. It was relaxing and we met some fun people on the cruise which made it a good time. When you take Carnival, you have keep you expectations realistic. Expect average food, average entertainment and everything is really busy. However, we got a really good price so we knew we were going on Carnival for the value. I would recommend this cruise if you are looking for a cheap 7 day cruise and aren't looking for 5-star food, entertainment or service.