This was our 3rd Carnival Cruise in recent years (my 8 year old twin boys have been on 6 cruises). We stayed in Orlando and took a shuttle that I arranged from Cocoa Beach Shuttle (great service at a great price). We were at the port around 11:00 am and through security, etc by 11:45. We could go to our room at 1:30 so we went for some lunch. There were lines but nothing brutal. The great thing about this ship is there are so many dining options. The Deli is open until 11pm, the pizza is 24 hours, there is a separate place for made to order pasta and two full buffets, not to mention the Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, Tandoor, and a few others. For a quick lunch, there were never more than a few people ahead of you.
The kids club was amazing. I literally had to force one of my kids to spend a little family time. This worked to our advantage since my husband and I went to the steak house one night. The food and service was well worth it. Service in the dining room was sometimes slow but nothing that I would complain about. We were on ship time, so if it took an extra half an hour for dinner, it wasn't a big deal. Our room steward was wonderful. Having been on Norwegian cruises the last few times, we really appreciated the service and friendliness of the staff. Everyone was smiling and said hello, even though you knew they were most likely overwhelmed. One down side was the ship has two water slides and the drain pipe was not open on this cruise. This was a major let down since the water park was a major reason of picking the Dream.
For excursions, we went to Junkanoo since we didn't have much time. Not worth the walk. Way too much glass on the beach and in the water. Major disappointment. In St. Thomas we went to Coral World. Totally worth it. We were able to see sea turtles, sharks, stingrays and Omar the sea lion. Adjacent to Coral World is Coki Beach. Great beach where you can see fish swim around you or just veg out on the beach. Not many waves. Good service and the locals were very friendly. In St. Marten we took a taxi to Orient Beach. Lots of waves but a very nice beach. More sea weed than Coki. Not easy to get a drink at the bar. We did not arrange any excursions through Carnival. Not sure what people expect from a cruise, but we had a great time.