Because of our Platinum status we had VIP check-in and debarkation privileges.
Embarkation: From parking to on-deck in the Lido for lunch was 20 minutes. They changed the parking at the port. You now get a ticket, drop off your luggage across from the terminal building, park, then pay after the cruise. We were able to check in at 10:30, but we arrived at 11:00. First impressions: Great! Doesn't jump out at you like the normal Carnival ships. Nice dEcor and pretty conservative.
Food in the dining room was good, not great - good. We decided to do the "Anytime Dining" this cruise and it worked out very well. Met some very nice people. Food arrived hot sometimes and usually prepared the way we ordered. Lobster and shrimp were not over-cooked this time. The lobster is normally like rubber. Food on the Lido Deck: Good selection. The PASTA BAR was wonderful! The Linguine with the Clam sauce and Shrimp added was excellent. I had it 3 times! The WOK was just OK. There were lines, but not too long. I agree with others that you should not let your first impression on Day One influence you for the rest of the cruise. On the first day, there is nothing else for guests to do but go to the Lido deck and cruise the ship. My biggest complaint would be at night. There are no "lite bites" - only burgers, hot dogs, and pizza. A lot of people don't want this type of food late at night. Something could be done in this area. It would not be difficult to put out small sandwiches and such. Of note, we had dinner one night on the Lido deck. First time ever! Never again! It was terrible - not what I expected at all.
Attire in the Food Lines: Carnival frowns upon bare chests, bare feet and wet bathing suits in the food areas. However, like everything else, they only pay lip service and do not enforce the rules!
Cabin: We had a balcony cabin aft on deck 8, the Verandah Deck. The cabin was nice with plenty of room and storage space. I love having the safe and the refrigerator. Negative - the slamming of the balcony doors at all hours of the day and night drove us crazy! I will truly consider whether the extra cost of a balcony is worth it on future cruises. Our AC went out once when we were shifting from shore to ship power, but it did not really affect us. However, some areas of the ship were very warm all the time.
Pools: My wife got to Deck 11 aft at about 10:00 am and never had to wait for a chair. On two days at ports we stayed aboard ship most of the day and we were practically the ONLY people there. If you get to the pool after 10:00 am while at sea, it is busy. If you get to the pool at 11:30 am or later while at sea, you will not find chairs for two or more people wanting to sit beside one another.
Chair Saving: Carnival frowns upon chair saving and continually shows on the big screen a message that any chair towels left unattended for 40 minutes or more will be collected. Well, they do not do that at all. We saw towels in chairs for over two hours, without any action taken. So, chair saving does happen, but given our habit of being on deck by 10:00 am at the pool, this did not impact us.
Cozumel: We've been there so many times that we decided to book a private beach for the day that was not sponsored by Carnival. However, we changed our mind and did not go. We went off the ship, but did not take a taxi into town. We stayed in the port shopping area. There was plenty for us there.
Belize: Again, seen it, done it, and really don't like it. If you haven't been before, then go on an excursion. Belize is very poor and they need the tourist dollars. The tender ride sucks. It takes about 30 minutes each way. There are plenty of shops in the port if you don't want to venture out any further.
Isla Roatan: Once again, we decided to book a private beach for the day that was not sponsored by Carnival. Once again, we changed our mind. As soon as you get off the ship, there is a chair lift that takes you over to the beach area. The beach area has beach chairs, Cabana covers if you want them and a nice bar and grill. The cost of the chair lift is $10 per person for unlimited rides. You can also walk - it is a short distance. I think this was one of our highlights! This is what we like to do!
Costa Maya: We have been here before so did not do an excursion. We went off the ship and walked around the shops. We ended up at the pool area which has a nice restaurant and a swim up bar. After finding a comfortable round table near the walkway, we settled in for several Margaritas! OMG! They sure do a job on you in the hot sun! We had a blast and eventually seen most of the acquaintances we made on the ship as they walked by. This was all before noon!
Entertainment: We were so excited when we saw that Barry was in the Piano Bar. We were on the Carnival Glory with him previously and he is fantastic! He is a must see. He is so great with all the guests. I don't know what Carnival pays him, but he is worth every penny. Carnival now has a Comedy Club where comedians perform several times a night including the midnight show. This was good and we enjoyed the shows for the most part. The entertainment staff left something to be desired. Not as good as on other Carnival ships. I liked the dancers, not the singers. The Cruise Director was boring. Activities were few.
Crew: Everyone from cabin staff, photo staff, restaurant staff, bar staff, and general cleaning staff were wonderful! Always pleasant and tended to greet you by name once they started to recognize you. If Carnival gives them lessons in manners and how to speak English - they do a good job.
Casino: Good. Not much different that other ships. They like to take your money! Casino staff was very pleasant also. There is not a separate Sport's Bar like on other ships; however, the casino bar serves this purpose. Smell: You do get whiffs of smells of an unpleasant nature. It is not consistent and it is not always in the same places. While it was noticeable, it did not impact our cruise. But I think they need to continue looking into this matter.
Debarkation: Off the ship in 15 to 20 minutes. Got our luggage and drove home. Very impressive. We look forward to sailing her again! General Comments: We did meet several passengers that were not happy with the Dream. They either did not like the food, the selection of food, the entertainment, the lines, the kids running around, and so forth. Please keep in mind that Everyone will find something wrong if they look hard enough for it. You have to dwell on the good things. My wife and I have been on many, many cruises, but we always find a niche on every cruise. Sure, there are things we wish were better, but so what? A cruise ship is nothing but a cross-section of society. Your overall experience will only be as good as you make it. I honestly believe some of these people would not be happy with anything. Security could have done a much better job with the kids. Kids were running around the ship day and night - unchallenged.