After reading so many reviews I wasn't sure what to expect but went with an open mind. We were celebrating our 33rd anniversary.
Embarkation security in my opinion was intense, probably because they confiscated my vodka in a tonic bottle!!! (Everything in my checked luggage made it). Overall was relatively quick. Went up to get some lunch and it was total chaos. Almost impossible to get a place to sit, but once we did it was delicious.
Port Canaveral: I've never had so much fun leaving the port for open seas before! Left Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Jacksonville before. People in the restaurants whistle, yell and wave and people gather by the pier to say goodbye. Really got everyone excited and it was SO much fun!!! All that was missing was the confetti!! (We had brought our own champagne-which, by the way, we went to the bar and got a bucket of ice because we hadn't seen our room steward).
Room Steward: Speaking of him, he did OK, was great with the little towel animals, but we couldn't find him to get ice when we got there and never saw him until after dinner. He did an acceptable job on the room but nothing extraordinary, not that he really needed to. Just got a little annoyed by not having the ice when we got there.
Dinner: had first seating in Crimson, then requested a table for two and was moved to the Scarlet dining room after that (made sense since we were at that end of the ship...) Food choices were awesome, but the delivery lacked. Not very hot and our waiter couldn't speak enough English to really have a conversation. I know it's picky but our table was set for four every night so it was cluttered. Shouldn't really complain but they have a great opportunity to make it exceptional and they're just missing something here. Heard from several that they did not like the any-time seating- they always had to wait.
Room: Very nice! Very comfortable bed, and we had a couch which was used for throwing all our stuff. Had a balcony and it was wonderful and worth the extra money.
Ports: Had a great margarita at Pancho's Backyard in Cozumel based on reviews I had read. It was well worth it! We were tired and didn't stay long and went back and napped. Didn't get off at Belize because of the 20 minute tender ride and it was raining. Isla Roatan, we took the Barefoot Catamaran and Sailing excursion. Great!!! Had to go to a different area to snorkel because of the wind but it was very nice, and they served a nice lunch. Costa Maya was fun! We did a little shopping and again tried the margaritas at Bandito's. Very good. A fun atmosphere. Public pool with music and everyone having a blast.
Ship: BEAUTIFUL. Absolutely stunning. Nice decor, and we never had any rocking to speak of in our room, which was actually a little disappointing because we like to sleep with the ship moving a little. The atrium area was over the top. Just beautiful. I loved, loved, loved the ship.
Gym: Made it once (ok, it's better than none!) Poor design adding hot halogen lights all over it. Too crowded. They way underestimated the interest in this. All machines full. HOT.
Spa: Needed a pedicure but wasn't willing to pay $65 plus tip. Too cheap.
Slamming doors and general rudeness: We were guilty by accident several times because the balcony door slams so quickly but we tried to be careful. You have to also be aware to not let your cabin door slam. Some people would come in late and be loud and yelling and then slam doors. I tried to not let it bother me because they're on vacation too! Not too many kids on this cruise (which is why I booked it now with them in school) so we didn't much problem with that.
Drinks: "Specials" were in the $8.00 range and add the mandatory 15% on top of it and it wasn't very special any more ;-)
Entertainment: We're not much into this but based on reviews made it to the "Dancing in the Streets" show and got there 30 minutes ahead of time to get a seat. If you're upstairs, get your drink first. They don't come by up there and it's a hassle to get to the bar. The show was very good and the special effects were exceptional. Went to the Burgundy lounge and saw the PG show of comedian Allyn Ball. He was a hoot!! The TV screen outside is great- watched a movie there one afternoon. Don't miss the laser show with Pink Floyd. Wasn't my favorite music but the special effects are worth it.
Casino: Loved having the no smoking area, but nothing paid.
Tips: try to eat in the dining room for breakfast and lunch when you can. No crowds and you can take your time. If you're reading reviews, copy and paste pertinent info into a Word doc and print it out before you go. It really helps. Take an extension cord, and if you have a balcony take a couple of bungee cords to keep the wind from whistling a couple of nights. Take your own big cup to either make your own cocktails or even just water or juice. They have very small cups. Study the map, circle your room and you'll be fine. Deck 5 has most of what you need, Deck 10 has tons of food (the hamburgers and hot dogs at the grill are great!)
Smell: Yes, it's there. Yes, we smelled it numerous times but it was fleeting. They MUST get this fixed. I didn't let it affect my time at all but perhaps some others in different places had it worse. We had it in our room once but not for long. Always smelled it by the pool where the huge TV screen is.
Overall: Debarkation very well done and quick. We were on the road by 8:20. I would definitely sail the Dream again. I loved it!!! The little things I've mentioned are only because I've been on Celebrity and it is a cut above. I have concerns in the case of any emergency because the staff is so lacking in the English language. I know they come from all over, and I appreciate them, but wish Carnival required a bit more literacy before hiring.