Second cruise. First on Carnival. Last year, same time, on RC. We flew SWA into Orlando the night before the cruise and stayed at the LaQuinta in Cocoa Beach. Kind of run down, but a really good breakfast included. Next day, we took the AVIS shuttle to the ship, arriving at about 1:00 PM. There was a long line to clear security, but it moved quickly. Note: the porters will no longer handle cases of water, so if you plan to bring some on, plan to carry it on. We were through security and check-in in less than 30 minutes. This embarkation was much smoother than we had experienced at Ft. Lauderdale on RC last February.
By the time we got on, our rooms were ready, so we went directly there. Typical rooms - husband and I had a balcony with our teenage kids across the hall. After dumping our carry-on stuff, we headed to Lido for some lunch. I stood in line for soda stickers while DH and kids went to the buffet. OK, you don't want to hear every detail of our vacation, so I'll give you the summary...
Lido Buffet - poorly set up and not much variety. The salad bar didn't even have croutons! Several lines of the same things (especially at breakfast), but one person handing out bacon for both lines in the middle. Who doesn't want bacon with their breakfast? Our fault, we didn't even explore the sandwich bar far AFT or the Pasta Bar upstairs until Day 5. The deli was great! That pastrami sandwich after an excursion was just what I needed. Never did get to the pasta bar - too many other choices and DD wanted to go to the dining room every night. Yes, there were lines on the Lido. Buffet lines are meant to move people quickly. That didn't happen. I think it was a combination of a poor set-up and people who were brain-dead in vacation mode. "Do I want tomatoes or cucumbers?" The darn buffet is set up for HOURS, go back for seconds if you need to!
Staterooms/Housekeeping - AWESOME! Our steward, Putu, was amazing. I swear, we took a nap and while we were on the balcony having a glass of wine, he made the bed! Dining Room - I think the dining room food was better on RC, but DH loved the soups on Dream and our waiter, Gede, was very attentive and engaged our teenagers every night. He made suggestions, and was usually right on with them.
Entertainment - The shows were much better than we had seen on RC. The Dancin' in the Streets show was amazing. Even the "guest" show, Carnival Legends, was really good. There were really funny comedians who did not need to get vulgar to be funny.
Ports - Cozumel: We did the Tulum tour. Long and not really very interesting as we had already been to Chichen Itza on another vacation. Hard sell on the "potty break"/tourist trap we took along the way. Last year, on RC, we did snorkeling, and that was good. Belize: didn't get off. Did the historic tour last year, did not feel the need to go back. Roatan: nice beach, but DO NOT pay for the excursion with the chair lift. You can walk from the pier to the beach and there are free beach chairs there if you go past the "paid" chairs. Costa Maya: did the Jungle Beach Break. Open bar and a nice beach. We also went para sailing here, which was really fun and you can negotiate the price with them. I have to say, there was a sewer smell on the boat for much of the cruise. We did not smell it in our cabin or in most public areas, but it was in our hall most of the trip and all over on the last day at sea. It did not ruin our cruise, but something really should be done about it.
Overall, we had a great time. The two teenagers were happy, we were happy, and it was very relaxing. Stayed in Canaveral after the cruise and went to NASA. Then drove back to Orlando to fly home. I will NEVER fly out of Orlando again! Even if I go to Disney, I will fly into Tampa or Ft. Lauderdale and rent a car. LONG line at the SWA check-in and then cluster at security where there was a huge bottle-neck. Make sure you allow 2 hours before your flight home if you are flying out of Orlando!