I cruised on the Dream with my DH on January 23rd. Our ages are 40/42 and this is our 3rd cruise with Carnival. We loved the Dream and found it to be an engaging, visually stimulating ship with good food and good service. I'm already plotting our next Dream vacation.
Embarkation / Debarkation. Embarkation was super fast. We arrived at the terminal at 11:30 and were on the Lido with a DOD in hand by noon. Debarkation was likewise very fast... we did self-assist and were off the ship by 6:45 a.m. Note: Carnival enables donations for the Red Cross Haiti relief effort directly via Sign and Sail for anyone who might be interested, which I thought was very cool.
Cabin. Our spa cabin was ready at 1:30 p.m. when we scoped it out. It was comfortable and had lots of storage space. The balcony was a bit narrow but perfect for enjoying morning coffee or an evening drink. Our cabin steward was extremely efficient, whether it was keeping a bottle of champagne iced for us for half the week, making sure everything in our room stayed shipshape, or amusing us with nightly towel critters. The Spa Deck location was both good and bad. On one hand it was rather exclusive with only about eight cabins port side, just steps away from the various spa facilities. On the other hand, the balcony was partially exposed to passersby above and we occasionally heard deck chairs being moved over our heads in the early morning hours.
Spa. We really enjoyed the thermal suite access that came with the spa room, especially on the cooler/rainy days, and they were never too crowded to enjoy. We used the gym a few times, too, avoided the peak morning hours, and never had to wait for the machines. We scheduled a couples massage but the product sell at the end lasted almost as long as the massage itself and kind of ruined the "afterglow" of the experience. I wouldn't do it again.
Food. The food on this cruise was pretty good. We started each day with room service for coffee/juice and it was always delivered at the requested time. We tended to sleep in a little which worked well for avoiding the breakfast craziness on the Lido... we never waited in line and the food was always fresh and hot. True, the same food is served every day but that doesn't mean you have to eat the same food every day! There's quite a variety to choose from.
The key to lunching on the Lido is to avoid the 12:00-1:00 rush. The Tandoori was terrific, the deli was terrific, the burgers/fries were terrific, the burrito bar was terrific. We never ventured in toward the Mongolian grill or the pasta bar or the pizzeria.
For dinner we chose late seating and ended up in a booth on the upper tier of the Scarlet dining room (our assigned tablemates never showed up and it turned out to be rather nice with just DH and I every night). Our serving duo was awesome - very efficient and personable. We've done early seating on our previous cruises but later seating seems to have a much more relaxed vibe... I think this is the way we'll go from now on. Our one complaint was dining room bar service and I'm still scratching my head on that one. Cocktails are a known revenue driver so why bottleneck it with practically non-existent bar staff in the dining room? After the first night we figured out that we were better off ordering wine by the bottle since the waiters are allowed to handle bottles themselves. We ordered a bottle of white and a bottle of red at a time and our waiter would cork the unfinished bottles for us and having them waiting on the table at the next service. Perfect!
We tried the Chef's Art one night and the food was amazing. I had a perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned rib eye and DH had the surf & turf. Sadly, with the exception of the sommelier, the service was disappointing. I later noticed that there's no category for rating Chef's Art on the Dream's comment card... maybe without a service measurement they don't feel pressure to perform.
Entertainment. We had total relaxation in mind for this trip and didn't bother to track show times so we never made it to any of the production shows and only made it to the comedy club once (we heard rave reviews, though). The deck parties were fun. We wandered into Caliente a few times but it was usually empty (too early, maybe?). The live musicians we saw were good but there did seem to be a general lack of music during the day on the Lido, which felt odd. Didn't spend more than a few minutes (and a few dollars) at the casino.
General Comments. We were constantly roaming around this ship and never once did we notice the "bad smells" others have observed. To us, the ship felt neither "too crowded" nor "too big" and there were lots of places to sit and relax if you ventured off the beaten path. The pools on the ship were smallish but I never saw them crowded, likely because the water slides and numerous hot tubs diverted a lot of would-be swimmers. The slides were fun, my kids will love them. The Serenity area is quite a popular addition... if they made the space twice as big I'm sure it would still be packed every day.