We got off the Dream this morning,. We have been on 5 cruises, All Carnival.
Our previous 4 cruises were on the Sensation, Inspiration, Legend, and Freedom. I would rate our total experience on each of these ships as 100-110%.. Our very first cruise ever, on the Sensation, occurred during Tropical Storm Ike, and it poured rain for the entire 5 days, shore excursions were cancelled as were all deck activites. We still had a fantastic vacation, and immediately booked our 2nd cruise upon returning home.
However, as someone who has cruised 4 previous time in the last 1-1/2 years, I was a little taken aback at the different experience we had on the Dream. I guess we have become accustomed to a certain high standard with Carnival, and the Dream still has a ways to go to catch up to the rest of the fleet.
The ship was gorgeous, and there were several highlights of the trip
1) Shore excursions were all fantastic and we had memorable experiences on each of them
2) Pasta Bar had delicious food, well prepared, and with fantastic, friendly servers. Same for the Sushi Bar, the Coffee Cafe, and Room Service.
3) Our stateroom attendant was good, not great...but good. He did leave a tray of room service dishes on the dresser for 2 days til we finally gave in and placed the tray in the hallway, and he only refilled ice upon request, but he was fairly easy to find.
4) Entertainment was great...the magician, the stage shows, the comedy club, the guitar singer, etc were all excellent.
5) the Port staff were excellent and plentiful..we were onboard less then 20 minutes from the time we walked in the entrance to the terminal.
Now for the downside:
the biggest problems were food quality, food availability, and lack of employees! The employees that were there tried hard, but they were obviously overwhelmed. We did save quite a bit on our bar bill though, no bar server or asst. server in our part of the dining room, and very few Lido deck servers....and the first poster is correct, bigger ship, more staterooms, more people, less public space, and only 1/2 of one buffet line open at dinner, and it was always missing one or more food items....including no meat on at least 2 nights.
1) first night in Scarlett dining room...asst server came by with bread, water for my glass but not my husbands,...he got distracted between pouring, left the table, and was never seen again. There was no bar server the entire evening and we were never asked if we wanted a bar drink or wine. We waited quite some time to place our order with the head server who left to place the food orders, with the other 3 tables having no water or bread or drinks.
Finally the couple at the table next to us with 3 young children, got up and got their own bread and water from the serving counter, and others followed suit. When the head server came back, she distributed the food, and took off again, presumably to get the next course. After returning with salads and setting the tray on the serving station, she did deliver my husband's salad, but not mine. Then she left again. I did not get up and get my own salad, because I wanted to see what would happen next. After another long wait, the head server returned and started passing out the dinner plates. I was rather disappointed because in all of our previous cruises, if we had wanted a 2nd appetizer, we could have ordered and received one, but there was no opportunity here since there was no one to place an order with. My husband's salmon appetizer looked much more appealilng then my shrimp cocktail, and I would have loved to have tried it myself
We did finally our dinner, flat iron steaks for both of us. My husband's was rare as ordered, mine was well-done...not the rare that I had ordered. While in the middle of our dinner, preparations were made to start the dinner show. We had not ordered dessert yet., and as a matter of fact, never got the opporunity for dessert. Also on previous ships, the asst server offered us cappucino's after dinner...but we had no asst server and no cappucino's either. All-in-all, a huge difference from the dining room experience on our previous 4 cruises. We did talk to other passengers, some had bar servers and asst servers, some didn't.....some had better experiences in the dining room, some had similar or worse.
2) Usually when you are on the Lido deck, you are regularly asked by the wandering bar servers if you would like a drink. On this cruise, we had to get up and go look for a server, and usually they were difficult to find. I know Carnival is losing money on this one, because while some people got up and went to the Lido bar and got their own drink, I usually figured if I was going to get up anyway, I'd just go get a glass of iced tea. My bar bill was $300 below normal on this cruise . The servers in the bars and lounges were plentiful, just not on the outdoor Lido decks and the 2 outdoor decks above it.
3) Hot tubs on the Lanai were closed during the day for chlorination and other repairs, almost every day of the cruise. On previous cruises, they chlorination was done at night when the hot tub was closed anyway, not during the prime usage hours. We asked every day for 4 days in a row when the 5th floor tubs were going to be open again, and were told to go to other levels where the other hot tubs were instead. We were told the reason that the Lanai deck hot tubs were chlorinated during the day was because they had incidents where people who had been drinking decided to take a midnight swim in the chlorinated hot tub and had "issues" from the irritation to their skin. We were told there wasn't personnel available to prevent that from happening on the Lanai, and apparently there wasn't rope netting either to place on top of the hot tubs at night, or maybe there wasn't personnel to install the rope netting.
4) Two of the nights we ate dinner on the Lido buffet. Both nights they ran out of meat on the buffet. We got our salad, vegetable, baked potato, got to the carving station, and the carver said "15-20 minutes" for more meat to be brought out. There was only one buffet line open for dinner each night, so there was no other choice unless you wanted room service or if you still had time to get to the Scarlett Dining room for half a meal. When they finally brought out the pork loin the first night, it had a horrible texture and had freezer burn...bad freezer burn, and was so tough like it had been quickly defrosted and heated back up incorrectly. The next night they ran out of pork chops, and there was a long line running all the way back to the outside deck. We waited and waited and they finally brought out a tray...with 3 pork chops on it. My husband did get one, and we shared it...it was delicious...I don't know what all those other people ate...probably went for pizza.
5) For breakfast on the Lido the next morning, the french toast also had freezer burn and was hard as a rock. We did find the assistant maitre'd, who was shocked and he went and got the chef, who came out and tested the french toast, and the next thing we knew, the chef was inspecting the trays of all the food and pulled half of the trays off the buffet.
So basically what I'm saying is that both the food service and the food quality need some significant upgrades in quantity of personnel, and quality of food preparation to bring the Dream even close to the standards of the other ships in the Carnival Fleet. There were apparently not enough employees to staff the dining rooms or the Lido deck bar servers. And sufficient food was not prepared in advance to feed the buffet line.
6) From time to time, at various places around the ship, there was a strong odor of sewage...again something we had never encountered on a Carnival Ship. I don't know if the smell was there all the time, and we just got used to it until we came back from a shore excursion and had to re-acclimate our noses to the smell, or if it was truly only present at certain times of the day due to whatever activity was causing it, but everyone we talked to on this cruise mentioned it.
If this was my first cruise, or my first Carnival cruise, I would have said it was satisfactory, because I would have thought, welll that's what cruises are like....food not so great, but if you try enough places you'll eventually find something to eat, and we would cruise again because there were some very good points about the experience. But having experienced what Carnival is capable of on their other ships, given enough trained personnel, I was disappointed in this cruise. So that being said, we are planning two more Carnival cruises this year, but I would not book another cruise on the Dream unless I was thoroughly convinced that it had been brought up to the Carnival standard that we enjoyed on the other ships.
I tried very hard to like everything about the Dream, because I LOVED everything about our 4 previous cruises, even the tropical storm, but it is what it is