This was my second cruise, both of which have been on Carnival. It was for 7 days, which included stops at Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten, and my wife and 12 year old son travelled with me.
If you have never been to the Port Canaveral embarkation point, it is large, noisy and sometimes confusing, but despite all, our check in was fairly easy and the agent was very friendly. We had a bit of trouble putting cash on our Sign and Sail card due to a computer problem, but then we were ready to board.
A warning to new cruisers—Carnival chose to debit our S&S card $200 right off the get-go for the gratuities for the employees. This is apparently common practice, but we didn't care for it and had the money restored to our cards. Not that we're cheap, we just wanted to choose who we tipped.
The ship itself is very large and less than a year old—it's the largest ship at Carnival at the moment. Everything was very modern and clean, with an art deco motif, and there were a total of 12 floors. Dream has two swimming pools, a "mini water park", a miniature golf course, coffee barista, a sushi bar, basketball course, at least half a dozen hot tubs, two large dining rooms and a huge television screen on the Lido deck.
The non-dinner stations were numerous and pretty varied. Our favorite was the Tandoori bar but there was also a Mongolian Barbecue, a Burrito Bar, Pasta Bar, Deli and a buffet that had a varied theme from day to day. There was also an outdoor bar-b-q, and of course the ubiquitous Pizza station. The lunches were good! The breakfast offerings, other than a variety of eggs, meats, fruits and breads, also came from an omelet bar. Overall the breakfasts were nothing special, even the sit down breakfast in the dining room.
Our dinners were very good, although once again, didn't blow us away. The entrees throughout the week included Maine Lobster Tails, Prime Rib, Roast Duck, Lamb, two or three different kinds of fish, steaks, pasta and a lot more. There are at least 8 different daily selections on each day's dinner menu, plus four more that were on the menu the whole trip. The desserts were good too, although, seeing as how my wife and I are both bariatric patients and there wasn't much to choose from except sugar free cake and ice cream. Our waiter was exceptional, however. The dining room itself was decorated in a bright red—perhaps TOO bright—but was quite nice.
Our room was comfortable, with a king sized bed and a fold out sofa for our son to sleep on. It was roomy and the balcony was great. We had several channels to choose from on the television, including one channel that tracked our progress while at sea.
The onboard entertainment provided for our 12 year old was, as he put it, "lame". The "nightclub" for 12-14 year olds (called Circle C) wasn't nearly as nice and didn't offer nearly as much for kids as the 15-17 year old hangout (Club 02)
We had some great excursions: swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cay in Atlantis (Nassau), Helmet diving in St. Thomas and The Fly Zone at Loterie Farm in St. Maarten.
(A word to the wise: if you are going to rent a car, which we did in St. Maarten, be prepared to get off the boat first chance you get and be ready for a TON of traffic.)
With a ship this big and this new, there were certainly a few problems, but I have listed what I feel are the pluses and minuses of our Carnival Dream voyage:
PLUS: *Very attentive, friendly staff on our deck and at dinner *Exceptionally fast room service *Good luncheon variety *Very clean and modern facilities *Nice, comfortable room *Dining rooms with tables for two and four rather than group seating (a personal preference) *Smooth check in and check out
MINUS: *WAY too many people—long lines for virtually everything *Not as much onboard shopping as I had hoped for *The sit down dinners were underwhelming at times *Not nearly enough entertainment for a 12 year old boy (aside from the arcade and mini golf)
All in all, we had an excellent time and the Dream is an outstanding ship with a few growing pains which I'm sure will be ironed out.