My husband and I took the Transatlantic cruise on the Carnival Dream. This was 16 days/15 nights, leaving Rome, stopping in Barcelona, Malaga, Mallorca, the Canary Islands, 5 days across the Atlantic, then 2 days in Bermuda and ended up in New York City. We had already planned on a trip to Greece in October and this one-way passage back to the USA ended up being such a good deal we couldn't pass it up. We booked the trip in May thru Carnival on the Early Saver program for the October 2009 cruise. We embarked from Rome at 7:00 PM. We used the very easy train from the Rome Termini train station, which cost about 14 E., I think. Give yourself time though; it's quite a walk in the station from the central station to the gate. Walked a little at the end in Civitavecchia and got the free shuttle to the ship. Virtually no wait to embark. Luggage showed up in about 2 hours.
Cabin: I liked our cabin #9470, an inside stateroom. It's aft on the port side- one short walk to the steps up one flight to the Lido deck for breakfast and lunch, out the back door to the sunset deck for the adult pool and hot-tubs. No negatives about the cabin- liked the fluffy robes, shower is bigger than other ships I've sailed on, loved the temperature setting on the shower (you set the temperature on the right and it keeps that for the trip-I want one!), plenty of storage space, really comfortable mattresses. A different towel animal every night. Room was quiet. People who had balconies seemed happy, but we always go with the cheapest cabin.
Dining: We choose late dining at 8:15. I go back and forth on this. I hate having to wait till 8:15, but 6:00 is simply too early. The one or two times I opted out and we went to the buffet line, it's just too hectic; my husband likes the table service. One night in Bermuda everyone ate at the anytime dining and that also seems too hectic. Had nice tablemates in the dining room (both main dining rooms look the same) but 15 dinners was too long a time to sit with the same people. They should have a shake-up mid-way thru a long cruise and reassign everyone. Probably 90% of people would welcome a chance to sit with new people and no one's feelings would get hurt.
Food: The food in the DR was very good, if not great. Seafood, chicken etc was better than steaks, which were not A+++. Desserts were good and so were appetizers. A really good crab cake, soups very nice. Breads not great; the same rolls and breads every night.
The Lido buffet- Like most buffets, it's a bit of a zoo, especially on "port" days when everyone wants off the boat at the same time. Staff tries to keep up with the tables and does a good job. Coffee machines often out. And they put cups and glasses together so the flow around the beverage area is a little congested (grab cup, walk around people getting juice only, get back in to get coffee, etc.)
Breakfast at Lido- everything you could ask for. An omelette section where you could also get fried eggs. Really good Danish and nice little cinnamon rolls. Bacon, potatoes, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, ham, lots of fruit, waffles, pancakes, French toast.
Lunch on Lido. Lots of hot and cold choices in the buffet lines. In addition, there are 5 separate places to order from on the Lido deck. Pasta bar is inside above the buffet lines, and seating is upstairs. In addition, there are four separate food stations outside next to the pools. There is a 1) Mongolian Wok in the buffet area. 2) Pasta bar (usually about 20 minute wait after you put in your order, but were very good. Seating area there also. Loved the 3) Tandoori Bar outside on the Sunset adult pool area. They actually have a real tandoori oven and make the chicken and breads right on deck. Great tandoori chicken every day, along with another stew-like meat dish, vegetables, chutney, and great breads. A great opportunity to try Indian food. 4) Deli with good Ruebens, corned beef, etc and the 5) Grill with burgers and hot dogs. I really wish they had an option for a smaller burger. There's a lot of waste, because people get the burger and only eat a few bites. They could do a mini-burger or slider option.
Dinner on the Lido: Almost always looks good and often served the same entrEe for dinner as in the dining rooms. A good salad selection, good desserts, always a carving station. There is also a little area on 5 deck called the Wasabi. Every afternoon from 5-7 or so it served some finger foods- mostly sushi but sometimes Italian (olives, cheeses, breadsticks), Greek,( feta, tzaziki, olives, etc). Most people never notice it.
The Dream The ship was planned well, I think. The "traffic" seemed to flow pretty well, but this cruise was mostly older people, so there was lots of reading, afternoon naps, etc. The atrium are has nice sofas, and I didn't think the decor was too tacky. It's bright, but not gaudy. I do think the main pool will not be big enough with a full ship, including lots of kids. There is no pool for children, no kiddy pool, etc. The water slides were great; 2 tall ones, 2 medium and 2 kiddy size. Maybe the plane is for small kids to putter around in the water slide area. However, with 500 kids on board- Pandemonium!
Liked the hot tubs; nice and warm.
Nice outdoor screen for movies. They'll give you a blanket but you have to pay for popcorn. That's a little cheap.
Never saw the Camp Carnival area, but the few teenagers did seem to enjoying the two areas for teens. Saw them doing a scavenger hunt and one day I peeked in and saw a young teen boy getting his hair braided by three girls-he looked pretty happy!
Spa- I did go up to the spa for a massage and facial. This is a very nice area. The treatment rooms run along the outside , so you are on the massage table with a great view of the ocean. The "thermo" pool looked nice, but it's not very big. I assume the "spa"rooms are nice.
Loved the mostly smoke-free ship. Sometimes smoky on the covered area just outside the Ocean Plaza in the middle of the ship on 5th deck. Casino- We don't gamble so can't comment.
Entertainment; The dancers and singers did the three shows that will be performed on the week long cruises. The final show is great, with break dancers, acrobats, etc. The other two shows were also good, but I kind of miss the old "show tune" format geared to older folks. For our 15 night crossing, Carnival brought in other entertainers who were mostly good; a violinist, not great magician, good juggler, etc. Also some comics and singers.
Didn't take any shore excursions.
All in all, we thought Carnival was as up-scale as Princess and Royal Caribbean and surpasses the Norwegian cruise we took a year or so ago.