My family has been on many cruises on several different lines. This was our 6th Holiday sailing (Christmas, New Years or both). My husband and I are in our late 30's early 40's and our boys are 10 and 8, we also sail with the grandparents in their 60's. We chose the Carnival Dream for the ship not the ports, we read all the reviews and wanted to see for ourselves, so here is what we thought. We had about 4,600 passengers onboard for the 1st Eastern Caribbean Route.
The ship is the biggest we have been on but the layout is very similar to the Conquest Class. A few things moved/changed, they put the art gallery where the arcade was, no hot tubs by the main pool now they are on deck 11 and 5 as well as by the back pool on 10. They added a few things waterworks, serenity, ocean plaza, laser light show and my kids favorite the fun force dancers. (The 14 mile walkie-talkies still work)
Dining: We are simple and like good food but not gourmet. Carnival again did a nice job. Our waiters Ping & Pong (yes that was their names) were fantastic. The matrade in the Scarlet dinning room sings like Frank Santra. The Gathering on the Lido needs work and yes they are well aware of this. They only added 80 extra seats for over 1,000 more guests (we never had a problem finding a table). In my opinion the problem with the buffet is they are now having an employee serve the bacon but it is at the end of the line with the condiments. This was tying up the line everytime. What i learned after the 1st day was get an omlet then go to the area that only had the fruit, danish, breads etc (that never had a line). All the specialty resturants except burgers and pizza always moved fast and never a long wait. They did set up a BBQ on deck 5 by ocean plaza to help with the lines and seating.
Camp Carnival: My kids had a great time. Love that they moved the camp to deck 11 just off the main pool. They have added Wii's, and many other new games to a nice big area. Trying to help with the food line issue Amy, the camp director, has decided to keep camp open all day (not closing for lunch) so you can choose when to pick up your kids to feed them and then send them back. Every night the kids could eat with camp they gave them the upstairs (Pasta Bar) so they even have their own area. Just wish they would add pasta to the list of items the kids could choose from.
Another great change is at the beginning you can list 4 adults that are allowed to sign in/out your child. You no longer have to list these people every time you get to camp. Also you no longer have to actually sign in/out only show your sail & sign card, we never had a line dropping off or picking up. The 9-11 year old late night party was still my son's favorite activity on board. He was brought back to the cabin at 3:30 in the morning, still wanting more!!!! He also liked working with the dancers from Fun Force.
Entertainment, if you ever wanted to see Hip Hop the Fun Force dance team is amazing! They offered 2 adult hip hop classes and also worked with the older camp kids (9-11). The main shows were very well done, they are family friendly (no more T&A). Dancin' in the Street in my opinion was fantastic. It was a high energy show of how kids are dancing today. Yes the music went along with it, I saw some 80 year olds walking out saying "to loud what a rackets that's just awful", to a group saying "they didn't do that when we were young, Wow!" It's all about what you are open to experiencing.
The last change that i thought was fantastic was the Color War. They changed it so all odd cabins are the red team, even cabins are blue team. We meet our team in the disco, after doing different challenges, dances, games went to ocean plaza then up on deck to meet up with the other team to have a huge dance party with 2 massive conga lines that ended up with a special laser light show. We had so much fun that my son who usually can't stay awake after 9:30 lasted to the end at 1:30am.
If you would like to see our week on the Dream and how nice the staff was check out our videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9isokCvoj70 Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM2bT32_aGk Part 2
(The only employee that refused to talk to Stanley was in the spa!)