Sorry this is so long, but tried to put all my thoughts here. Let me start by saying that reviews should be for individual ships and NOT the cruise line. Each ship is an individual and it's own management and staff, and that's what makes each one special. We fell in LOVE with the Miracle this past Summer, so that is the only Carnival ship we have to compare the Dream to. Carnival Dream is certainly a big ship but is it an improvement over the rest of the fleet? The design on the Miracle (IMHO), far surpasses that of the Dream. All for fun-fun for all, this past cruise to nowhere put the Dream to the test. Although all were for fun there was not much to be had.
Embarkation could have been a more organized. ID picture for the SS card should have been taken at the counter when registering instead of when you board the ship, which slowed the line to board the ship. The line to board the ship was long, this was after you had been waiting inside and your group number was called. Activities were limited to a bean bag toss, trivia (more on that later), putting contest, auction etc. Now I can't expect Carnival really provide more than that with such horrible weather, which was not their fault, it was just really sad to see people lining the atrium rails 10 decks or so high to watch me putt. If I were putting in my back yard I'm sure my neighbors would find this less than entertaining, but once a free bottle of $5 dollar champagne is at stake-one cannot look away! The things that truly have to be seen first hand are the new slides and mini golf course, pictures cannot do them a justice. The slides are huge and will no doubt be enjoyed by many in better weather. The mini golf course is well done and probably beats some land based ones we've played but alas it was not to be (weather).
Dining: We did not dine in the main venues as we had reserved Chef's Art for both evenings. Chef's Art is the steakhouse onboard and is every bit as good as any prime dining experience on HAL, Princess, and land-based steak houses, if not better. Decor is subdued and dimly lit for effect. Food and service were impeccable here. We did dine in the Scarlet lower for breakfast and the decor is not glitzy by any means some reds but not over the top like Bacchus on Miracle. Service here was ok but this was open seating breakfast so we can't comment on dinner time. However, the portions for breakfast were a little on the small side. Lido buffet was (I hate to say horrible but I'm going to say it anyway) horrible. What was horrible? A combination of overcrowding, the lack of an organized flow, and the food choices (falafel????). There were good smells coming from the Asian buffet station, but the line was so long it didn't make sense to stand there for 20min. Hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza were outdoors, and again a very long line each and every time we tried to get a hot dog for our Son. My son wanted pizza after kids club at mid-night, we stood in line in the cold for 20 min to get a slice for him.
Cabin: We had an aft balcony on deck 9, it was roomy inside and out. There is no privacy on these aft balconies, not because of people looking up or down on you but your next door neighbors. These balconies have their partitions angled back on a 45 so if you're standing even near your railing, you and your neighbor have full view of each others balcony. One can easily see into your cabin without even leaning let alone hop over so keep your door locked and drapes drawn at night.(see photo). The mattress is of gymnasium floor mat quality and a lot of massages will be sold no doubt. The Carnival Miracle had nice pillow top mattresses and had me sleeping like a dog, I wonder why Carnival took a step backward on this. The bathroom was tight but do-able, but as a word of caution, if you plan to use the overhead electrical outlet in the bathroom to charge something, leave the light on as the outlet is only energized while the lights on. The aft balcony we had on deck 9 is sheltered by the pool area overhang of deck 10, you will not get direct sun or rain.
Overall design: What were they thinking? The biggest question from all passengers is probably going to be why did they put those overhang spas on the promenade deck? Passengers wanting to use them have to walk through the Ocean Plaza lounge in swimming attire and bathrobes (saw a lot of that). Some of these poor people were red-faced having to walk through a main lounge when people were dressed in formal attire, though it's certainly not their fault. Once in one of these hot tubs, you have full view into all balcony cabins situated on the sixth deck and vice versa. Only one of these Spa hot tubs was open, and with the bad weather, this was the only place to take a dip, thus it was very crowded. All of the balconies on both sides of the ship have been set back so you can no longer look directly down to the ocean. When you look down you see the unsheltered promenade deck and it's users baring the elements. The promenade itself is not only home to these alienated hot tubs but glass walls 8' or 9' high lining the outer edge so you can no longer look over the railing at the sea like the old days (last week). The only place you can do this is on the fantail. Ocean Plaza: It's just an ordinary lounge with floor to ceiling glass windows and a glass door on both port and starboard to access the promenade and the alienated hot tubs. This was used for the majority of the events, however, not enough seating and gets very crowded. Problem here is that when either door is opened, any table nearby is stripped clean of any napkins or anything else that will take flight (not a good place to play that free deck of cards). We played trivia here but on two occasions, we had a full lounge ready for trivia and nobody from the entertainment staff showed up. Used the house phone to call the front desk but that's not easy, you have to go through a full menu of options unless of course it was an emergency. It was not an emergency trivia session. On both the first night of trivia and the last one, no one showed up and no announcements were made. I felt bad for the poor waiter who kept being asked "what happened to trivia". I know this may seem "trivial" to most, however, because of the weather, there wasn't much else to do. Knowing that the weather was going to be so bad, they should have had more entertainment in the other lounges. Sam's piano bar did not open until after 9:00 p.m., same for the Burgundy lounge, caliente dance club and Jazz lounge.
Safety: An odd note on the handrails for the staircases on the Dream (see pic), there's really no way to grab these handrails in a traditional sense, they're about 7" deep and tapered towards the top. To hold the handrails is like holding onto a glossy textbook by the spine and the book is open slightly. If you should loose you balance on the stairs you'll need superhuman strength in your hands or you're going down ,people with limited dexterity or arthritis may want to opt for an elevator. Desserts: The desserts are great at the lido and you can easily grab those without a big line. Lemonade, iced tea are also good and easy to grab but the water has a little funk to it (probably the new lining in the tank). Croissants and danishes are perfect, coffee is pretty good but if you're a big coffee head you can use the nice cafe for a charge. Last but not least - The Muster: Now I don't know if it's Carnivals' fault but the new muster drill is a disaster waiting to happen. A lot of people not paying attention, no attendance taken-this can't be good. There's no substitute for being at the lifeboat station and actually putting on a life jacket. I watched as over 1,000 people slowly file into the dining room through a single set of glass doors and wondered what 's going to happen when it comes time to fill the boats. That's pretty scary. At one point, there was an announcement to watch the safety video. Everyone was looking around for the screen, no screen in the dining room. At this point the Maitre D' starts speaking and making jokes! For those of us who have sailed before and have experience, I know this drill gets redundant, however, once people are panicking in an emergency situation, there's no room for jokes and not knowing where to go.
The children's facilities are AMAZING! Our 9-year old SON LOVE every room he saw. We knew that this was only a two day party cruise, and not to expect much from the staff. However, it was a good way to see if we wanted to sail on the Dream again - Notice that I said DREAM and NOT Carnival! Not sure if we would sail on the Dream again. Having seen them try to entertain a full ship during two days of bad weather, I hate to see what happens on longer cruises which also have bad weather. Over all, we had a good time and lots of laughs. If I remember anything more, I will post later. Please feel free to ask any questions.