We are from Austin, Texas and celebrated Christmas and our 25th Wedding Anniversary while on board. I always enjoy when fellow cruisers give positive and negative info so here you go:
EMBARKATION: positives: Port Canaveral had smooth running lines and was very organized considering there were 4000 passengers. The whole process only took about 45 from start to finish. They passed out numbered boarding cards and announce the groups about every 10 minutes. The port is very nice, large with lots of seating.
negatives: No one told us to have our photo IDs in hand BEFORE even entering the building and they required to see them at the door. This caused a major and immediate cluster slow down right off the bat which made for cranky people.
CABINS: We had Cat 4J insides that are really ocean view obstructed (7201, 7202 and 7204) positives: these inside cabins are priced very well and you get a window. They are 200 sq feet vs the normal 185 sq feet of other inside cabins. Although the view is obstructed by the deck outside, we could easily see the ocean and ports from inside our cabin. We loved it for docking as the deck is never crowded as most people don't know its there. The cabins are very quiet as the bridge is just above and other cabins are right below.
negatives: These cabins really don't have a negative but are all the way so we had to do a little more walking and of course, we noticed the rocking a bit more. This really wasn't a negative for us but could be considered to be by others. People on the deck out front CAN SEE INTO the cabins (even though it says differently on the Internet) so we just had to make sure drapes were closed when changing.
SHIP: positives: The Dream is similar in style and layout to other Carnivals we've been on so finding our way around was rather easy. Its brand new with lots of elevators, colored glass and tile. The casino never seemed crowded and they restrict smokers to their own area. Lots of hot tubs, little nooks and crannies for chilling out and we enjoyed the new Piazza on deck 5, mid ship. There were lots of photographers but none were pushy. There are several clubs of different types for entertainment at night and lots of quiet areas for relaxing with a book. The adults Serenity area is pretty and we enjoyed a two person hammock one day while docked at St. Maarten. There are small little laundry rooms available here and there which come in handy on seven day trips.
negatives: Lido deck buffet is often times NO FUN at all. As others have mentioned, its not laid out very well and we had to wait in long, slow lines to get our food. There are only 2 pools for 4000 people and on sea days, it was very hard to find an open deck chair. This ship seemed to rock, pitch and roll MUCH more than others we have been on and did so for two days straight. As mentioned, there are laundry rooms available BUT its $6 to wash/dry and the machines only take quarters. There are no change machines in the laundry rooms so you must walk to the casino or pursers desk if you need change. It would be nice if you could just use your sail and sign cards like you do for every other purchase.
FOOD: positives: Lido deck buffet food is pretty good and they even had a wonderful chocolate buffet one of our sea days. You don't eat as much because the lines just aren't worth going back for more so you don't gain weight. The coffee was very good and always hot. Tandori's all the way aft had very good indian food and we seriously enjoyed the special dining Steakhouse for $30 a head. I would compare the food quality and service to that of Ruth Chris or McCormick and Schmicks.
negatives: Lido Buffet was normally WAY too crowded. Dining at night was never consistent. We felt the servers were very overworked and it usually took 90 minutes for dinner every night. A few times our food was cold and once the chocolate melting cake was undercooked and runny vs melting. Several nights we sat for a full 1/2 hour before they even gave us our menu's. We're seasoned cruisers, easy to please and happy just to be there so it takes a lot to make us unhappy...we generally were when it came to eating. Either the Lido Buffet was too crowded or the dining rooms were slow and inconsistent. We enjoyed Wasabi's sushi (when it was open...only at night for three hours) but the lines were terrible. Not only that but you don't get to pick out what you want to eat, they just hand you one small plate of three pieces of sushi. This was different on the Ecstasy as there you could pick and choose, ask for more and the lines were much shorter.
Crew: positives: Our cabin stewards were wonderful and very attentive. They went out of their way to do whatever we needed and always greeted us with smiles. Several times they asked what we had done that day or if we enjoyed the islands. We even got hugs on Christmas day...wow!
negatives: Our dining servers were never really engaging or friendly but we believe it was due to their heavy work load. They seemed to have many more tables than we observed on other ships. Overall, the crew WAS busy rushing, doing and working. They even sometimes seemed bothered by the crowds as well and it was rare to hear a "good morning", "hello" or to see a smile.
ENTERTAINMENT: positives: We enjoyed most of the shows, the little areas where singers were playing and all the different styles of entertainment. The Dream seemed to have something for everyone. Each night we went the big show in the Encore Theater and for the most part thought they were terrific. The big production shows with singing and dancing were consistent and very entertaining. We REALLY enjoyed Dancing in the Streets and the Extreme Country!
negatives: One night they headlined a ventriloquist who actually made us uncomfortable with some of his comedy. My 17 year old daughter called him a "creeper" because he made some inappropriate comments during a family show. He just wasn't very good and came off rather odd at times.
DEBARKATION: positives: We opted for carrying our bags off vs leaving them outside our cabin the night before so we got off the ship first. We breezed through customs and the whole process took only about 15 minutes.
negatives: They begin calling self debarkation at 6 am...ugh
FINAL THOUGHTS: We had a memorable time but looking back, probably would have had just as good a time if not better, on a smaller ship. We traveled by plane and rental car to get to the brand new Dream but found it often too crowded and frustrating. Honestly, it didn't feel any more special than any other Carnival cruise except that its newer and bigger. Overall, I would say it wasn't worth the extra travel time and expense as we could have gone out of Galveston three hours away, been on the Conquest and enjoyed ourselves just as much without the extra crowds.