We began our trip by driving from the Atlanta area to Port Canaveral (Cocoa Beach.) We stayed at the Hilton Cocoa Beach the night before embarkation. It was a beautiful hotel with a breathtaking beach! That evening, we dined at their restaurant, the Atlantis Grill. We each ordered different types of entrees and they were all excellent. I would definitely stay here again. I parked my car at the hotel and utilized the Cocoa beach Shuttle for a fee of $5 pp each way.
The Dream is a beautiful ship, that was well decorated and extremely clean. The staff were always seen cleaning and tidying things up. As for the "smell"- yes, it exists. On occasion, as you are walking down certain hallways or areas, you catch a whiff of a sewage like smell. It was not a lingering smell, and did not interfere with our fun in any way. We dined in the Scarlett Dining Room each evening, except for one, when we ate at the Chef's Art Steakhouse. The food was always good, and as always, you could have seconds on any course you wanted. The dining room staff were adequate on this cruise. Beyond that I can't really say much else. I didn't feel that our table got the same attention that the surrounding tables received. Our waitress simply served us our meals. The Chef's Art Steakhouse was definitely worth the $30 surcharge pp! The food was excellent and the service was superb.
Many people who have previously written reviews have complained about not getting good seats at the shows. Just as you need to get to a movie theatre early, the same applies to the ship's shows, in both the Encore Lounge and in the Comedy Club. We never encountered a problem. Yes, chair hogs do exist, but if you get there about 30 min early, you will have no problem. At the pool, we never had a problem finding chairs. However, we are not the kind of people who like chairs directly adjacent to the pool. Those chairs were at a premium at times. I sampled every dining station on the Lido deck with the exception of the deli. The Pasta Bar was excellent. You select the foods you want, they cook it and bring it to you on Deck 11 AFT. The Tandoori Grill is located on Deck 10 AFT outside. If you like Indian food you will enjoy this. There was never a line. The Pizza Bar was good as it is on every other Carnival ship I have ever been on. They also have a burrito station, which is also excellent and the line moves rather quickly. In order to sample the Mongolian Wok, we came onboard the ship during a port day, as there was no line. It was also excellent. The pools are definitely on the small side for a ship this large. (When we sailed, we had over 4500 passngers onboard.) We booked the cheapest cabin and had more room than my cousins, who were on Deck 9!If you don't mind sleeping in separate beds, then consider a category 1A cabin.