I will preface this by saying that we were unsure what to expect out of this ship after reading months of reviews. We went on this cruise to enjoy the weeks vacation and make the best of it and not get uptight about the little things. Some of the reviews were just too picky.
With 8 in our party, and some not having cruised before, we all set out a day early by staying at the Radisson about mile from the port. It was nice and comfortable and we had prearranged pickup form the hotel to the dock with a cab company for $4/person. The hotel offers free shuttle but they didn't start as early as we were hoping . Also to note, that most staying at the hotel Friday nights, are cruise passengers and not just for the Dream. There is the Disney Magic, with lots of kids(lots of kids), that leaves on Sat. also. All those people waiting for the free shuttle in the morning , with their luggage. Exactly why we got our own transportation ahead of time.
Embarkation: Some call it a breeze but by getting there at 10am along with 1000 other folks and Carnival not letting you get on the ship till 11am meant being herded like cattle to some seating with a number which they call and move your section onto the boat. Some call that smooth. I feel for the people that came at 11am and had no seats and had to wait for long time till they got on. Anyway once on the ship we navigated it to the Lido deck for some food and watch passengers really have to wait for food and find tables till there rooms were ready. From that moment on we truly enjoyed our cruise and the months of waiting and preparation was over.
I found the ship somewhat easy to navigate but found myself using the maps and computers to help. Remember this, that Deck 5 has just about everything on it. The casino, shopping, the Lanai, Sam's Piano lounge, Calientes and the comedy club. Deck 10, Lido has the pools and the food that separates the middle of the ship from the back pool area, where there is more food. The Gathering is where most of the food is located. Some have complained about the layout, but in honesty the only problem I had when it came to food was trying to avoid peak times and figuring out what I wanted to eat. There were plenty of workers busing tables and keeping things stocked. At some point of the cruise I discovered the outdoor BBQ outside of the Lanai doors that offered salads, sliders and casa dillas. Small lines and plenty of tables.
We had the late seating in the Scarlet dining room. We all ate in the dining room each night and it was truly a wonderful experience. Our waiters were excellent and very eager to please. The food was delicious and hot. The menus varied each night and some of us ordered multiple starters and main dishes because it was too hard to decide. Again hot food, good service and beautiful atmosphere make a lovely dining experience. Many nights with not being rushed we were through in just over an hour. Plenty of time to catch he shows.
All the shows were good. The Dancin in the Streets production was the the best. After those shows some of us would make it to the comedy club to catch the comedians. All the comedians were good and shows last for about an hour. Some nights we just headed up to the Lido deck where there was a movie, a band or even a deck party going on.
During the day there are few things to do: Bingo, trivia games, ice sculpting, sunning by the pools, casino or just plain eating. In the afternoon there are more games and shows like the Newlywed game in the Encore lounge everyday. They are always very funny.
I won't mention much about the ports but we went to Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Martin. All 3 ports were busy with lots of other ships. St. Martin was the most crowded with 6, including the mammoth, Oasis of the Seas. We had beautiful weather in each port and really for the whole cruise the weather was great. The seas were a little choppy some days and it was windy most days but the ship didn't move as much as some other ships I had been on. Note for those of you susceptible to sea sickness, I took Dramamine (non-drowsy)every morning and never got sea sick. I never felt tired or groggy. I know it helped me enjoy my cruise that much more.
I spent some free time in the Serenity area of the ship and tried out the hammock one day and the covered chairs another. I bought a week pass to use the spa area but probably should've just used it couple of days and paid for it daily. The Thalassotherapy Pool was great and the steam rooms and relaxation rooms were all great. I never had a problem getting a tread mill to run on or Elipticle machine. The whole Serenity area was very busy most days and plenty of empty, comfortable chairs in which people were so kind to provide me with a towel or a pair of shoes to try. I just knocked them off the chair and used the chair until they came back, which they never did.
Overall what a wonderful week we had. John Heald was our cruise director and if you don't know John he is the best. He made the cruise with his wit in the shows and just has a way of communicating that is pleasant and enjoyable to be around. The cruise would've not been as fun if weren't for John.
Did I mention the smell? I noticed it couple of times for like 2 seconds but I don't remember where. It didn't ruin my cruise. Crowds weren't that big of a problem maybe it was worse on other weeks. I didn't see any rude staff or come in contact with any. In fact most of the staff was very helpful, and the women were all easy on the eyes. The elevators were crowded at peak times but overall I never had to wait too long for any. There were some lines for food but not long enough that I couldn't wait patiently for it. Why some let those kind of things ruin their vacations I'll never know. People just love to complain. It was going to take alot to ruin mine and nothing came close. This was a fabulous cruise and everyone in my party hated getting off the boat.