Embarkation - We had an ocean suite and FTTF. We decided on keeping the FTTF after we upgraded to the suite. Even though you have priority boarding with a suite, it does not include immediate access to the room or express luggage. With two small children, it was very important to have the room ready upon boarding. The check-in and the lounge for priority guests was very nice. Embarkation was a breeze. We boarded around 11am and went straight to our room, which was ready. We dropped our carry-ons and proceeded to the Lido deck for lunch. They do not have trays anymore, just really big plates. This makes it challenging when you are trying to get food for your kids as well. Once we got done with lunch, we went back to the room and found that our luggage had arrived with the exception of one bag. This arrived shortly thereafter. We did notice that a luggage tag on one of the bags was gone and one of the clips that allows for the luggage to be clipped together was damaged. We didn't report it. It's a pretty big ship and was a little hard to navigate at first, but once you were on for awhile and followed the maps, it wasn't too bad.
Movement on the ship - This was our fifth cruise and I have to say I felt more movement on the Dream than on any other ship I've been on. On every level. There were a couple of times when it was difficult to walk because the ship was so rocky. Most of the time the rocking was just enough to put me to sleep. Beware if lay down to read, you will probably fall asleep. :) I'm sure the really bad movement was because of weather because there were some times, which were few, that the ship was very steady and you hardly felt any movement. If you are prone to motion sickness, I would highly recommend Meclizine at least on a daily basis.
Misc - We did not experience any foul odors on the ship that others talk about. We are non-smokers and did not smell any cigarette smoke while out on our balcony. We did encounter smoke in the casino and the inside Lanai; however, I guess we always strolled through the wrong side.
Spa - You can buy a VIP access for the week at $119 per person or $199 per couple. They only sell a limited number since anyone with a spa stateroom get the perks with their room. I did purchase the spa VIP access and had buyer's remorse. It was not really worth it in my mind. You get unlimited access to the Thalossotherapy pool, steam rooms, saunas, and relaxation room. I thought the therapy pool would be really good for my husband's arthritic knees, but he felt no difference whatsoever. I think he would have gotten the same out of the free hot tubs. I ended up using the pass once and my husband twice. With other stuff to do and having kids with us, this was really not for us. Now if a free couples massage or something like that was offered with it, maybe it would be worth it. If you are not in a spa stateroom, I would NOT recommend wasting your money on this. I truly wish I could have gotten a refund. Lesson learned.
Salon - I got my hair done on the nights of the formal nights and was very pleased with the stylist. The first night they were running 45 min late, which was a little irritating, but she did apologize and I know that this was out of her control. Apparently, they ended up being a person down that day. I wish they would have phoned to advise of the back up because I could have used that time to get my kids ready for dinner. No discount or anything like that was offered; however, my stylist was amazing, so it was worth the wait.
Food - The buffets on the Lido Deck were good, except the scrambled eggs. Those were disgusting. My favorites on the Lido Deck were the Tandoori Station and the Omelets your way. There is a pasta bar on the Dream and while people raved about it on other reviews, I found it to be just okay; however, I come from an Italian family and it's hard to match what I am used to. The Maitre' D, Ivan, on the upper level of Scarlet was awesome, as were our servers. On the 3rd or 4th night, the Iced Tea tasted weird to me and from then on out I drank water. There was only one time that I did not receive the baked potato I ordered, which was fine since I ended up finishing my daughters. If you love crab cakes and have had great crab cakes, do not order them in the MDR....they are not that good.
Steakhouse - My husband and I tried the Steakhouse that costs $35 pp and it was totally worth the money. You get a little something complimentary from the chef. I have no idea what it was, but it was good. I had the beef carpaccio, which was good, but my husband had the Lobster Bisque and that was AMAZING!. We also had Caesar salad. It was a typical Caesar salad. The quality of the steaks were amazing and I have to say the best Filet Mignon I've ever had and I've dined at 5 star restaurants with some great steaks. For dessert, I had the cheesecake, which I swear was as big as my head. It was delicious. My husband had the chocolate sampler and he really like that. The servers, Kim and Sherry Lee were awesome. I would highly recommend trying the Steakhouse at least once. I would dine there every night if I could.
Camp Carnival - My children were 4 and 6 at the time of sailing and they both LOVED Camp Carnival. They loved going and it was hard to get them to leave most of the time, especially our 4 year old son. They did crafts, played games, learned about different subjects during the Edu-Cruise portion, and ended up receiving a t-shirt at the end of the cruise, just to name a few. They also had times for family, which usually consisted of events that required a fee. There was never any pressure to participate. We didn't do any of those. They hosted special parties (these usually ran from 10pm - 12am) for a fee and the kids always came out with some sort of giveaway. The first special party night was a small stuffed owl and one night they received an owl night light. The kids loved the gifts. The Dream does offer Dinner with Camp Carnival, which is a great option if your kids don't want to dine in the MDR. They spent 1/2 the time with us for dinner and 1/2 with Camp Carnival. This was especially handy when we dined at the Steakhouse.
Pools/WaterWorks - The kids also loved WaterWorks. It was hard dragging them away from the water slides. The only thing I would have liked to see was a pool for kids. One that they could stand up in and not have to wear life jackets. We did bring arm flotations for our kids, but they did not work well. If your child requires some type of floatation device, make sure you bring it with you. Carnival does not offer anything like this, nor do they sell anything of the sort in the Fun Shops. We ended up picking up life jackets in Key West, which were not cheap.
Mini golf course - Our kids loved this!
Entertainment - The live music in the various lounges was very nice They have some great bands. We only attended one show in the theater and from what we saw and heard, it was very good. I love the big screen at mid-ship Lido. One night they showed the sing along version of Frozen and that was great sitting under the stars. It felt like being at a drive in theater. The area that usually check out towels were providing blankets for anyone that wanted one. That was a nice touch.
Photos - We had some great photos taken of our family and the kids. We did buy 5 photos; however, at $21.99 per 8x10, they are severely overpriced. I would have bought more, had they been cheaper. It's especially disheartening knowing that all they do is throw away the prints that you do not buy. A waste of money if you ask me. Also, it would be nice if they would offer the formal portraits in 5x7 as well.
Debarkation - On the day of debarkation, you have to be out of your stateroom by 8:30am. We had priority debarkation and our Zone was called prior to 8:30, so we were able to wait in our room, which was nice with two children. After debarkation and getting our luggage and going through customs, we were in our van before 8:30am.
The only real complaints I have were about the overpriced photos and the overpriced VIP spa access. Overall, we had a great time and would sail the Dream again.