My fiancé and I are 26 years old and just came back from an amazing vacation aboard the Carnival Dream. This was my tenth cruise and his fifth. I've sailed with Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean (took Allure of the Seas last year). This cruise surpassed my expectations and I wouldn't hesitate to sail on the Dream again. In fact, I'm quite I'm sad she's leaving to New Orleans soon because it was so wonderful.
The food overall was definitely the best food I've had on a cruise ship. The buffet lines were sometimes long but they moved fast and come on, are you really in that big of a hurry to eat yet another meal on board? You're on vacation, what's the rush anyway? We enjoyed the lido deck buffets as well as the food in the dining room. The pizza (available 24/7) was some of the best pizza we've ever had, and as usual, we enjoyed the ice cream and frozen yogurt. The taste bar was unique to me although I wasn't crazy about the offerings, and on sea days we absolutely loved the ocean side BBQ (fresh chicken and pork quesadillas, tacos, mini sliders, and chips & salsa). They also had a great salad bar inside close to where they had the outdoor BBQ with fresh salad, vegetables, and protein toppings which were made to order by a crew member. We had "any time" dining and found the beginning (5:45pm) to be the most crowded time with the longest line. You'll have a shorter wait if you're willing to sit with other people as well. All of the dining room staff as well as the bar staff were friendly and pleasant. I had the soda package and received good service with getting my drinks at all the bars as well as in the dining room.
The entertainment was very good overall, however we didn't go to the main shows on the second and third nights since we were busy doing other things. We heard very good things about the shows on those nights though. One night was a comedy ventriloquist I wasn't crazy about. The fun force break dancing crew was very good and entertaining. They had a singer/guitar player duo couple named Sarah and Phoenix who were incredible and we so much enjoyed sitting down listening to them and relaxing. They had two other very good guitar players who often played on the pool deck. The comedy club was very good. "Jeff the fun dude" was funny. He gave away a free drunk every night before the show started (usually to the first person who sat in the first row)!
The pools were fairly small and got crowded on sea days as did all of the deck space. It was sometimes challenging to find a good lounge chair (or any lounge chair for that matter) but we just seemed to luck out everyday with that. The weather was so perfect that any spot was very good. This cruise definitely drew in an older crowd and most of the older people didn't like to layout in the sun so I can't imagine what the pool deck would've been like if even more people wanted to enjoy the sun. The slides were very fun! The serenity deck was nice and relaxing and had comfortable chairs and loungers. I don't know why they built the water park right next to the serenity deck though. It didn't bother us at all but I could see how it might bother other adults if they came to the serenity deck to escape the kids yet saw and heard them constantly because the stairs to the slides were right near the entrance to the serenity area.
We had an inside cabin in the aft (very back) of the upper deck (deck 6). I was worried about being right above a karaoke bar but we didn't hear much at all and in fact, loved the location of our cabin. Our room steward was nothing special. He cleaned our room but wasn't very friendly like most others I've had in the past.
Henny the cruise director was good (not the best nor the worst) but he is very young. I think he'll be great with a few more years of experience. I think I heard him say he only stays on each ship for 2 months so it didn't really seem like he knew the ship like the back of his hand, like cruise directors normally do.
The embarkation and debarkation processes were very efficient and smooth as was the lifeboat drill.
The eastern caribbean is a great itinerary with the highlights being st. Marten and st. Thomas. St. Marten had some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen!
Overall, we had an amazing time on this ship and I would recommend the Dream to everyone, young and old. I'd love to take another cruise aboard the dream!