We have been on at least 15 cruises; Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity, Carnival and several other smaller ships. Traveling with my husband, 14 yr old daughter and 16 addt'l family members ranging from 3 - 70. This is by far the worst cruise experience ever. The same opinion was unanimous throughout the passengers.
We've been on several of the mega RC Cruises and you never new you were cruising w/so many people. Other than profit, what were they thinking when they designed the Dream? I've read the Dream reviews before, but it's much worse than that. All they did were add hundreds of cabins! Excluding the theater, there are no public rooms to accommodate 3,646 passengers. In addition, the walk ways and corridors are narrow w/low ceilings, and there are turns where you have to squeeze through single file. These same corridors are also the path to access 4th fl. lifeboats. The layout has absolutely no rhyme or reason. To access restaurants, etc., you need to go across the floor, take stairs to below level and come back up. There is no signage or staff directing you at any time. You can't always go directly across. From the minute you step on board, the ship lacks the awe you normally feel. Everything is retro and resembles a kids club. Excluding cabins, every space/room on this ship is cramped.
Our Cruise Director was non existent. I think we saw him twice at the shows and then on the disembarkation instructional video. He lacks enthusiasm, charisma, and social skills. Much of the success of a cruise, relies on the Cruise Director and his staff. They usually know how to work the crowd, entertain them with humor, games, etc. "They set the stage" There was no one handling this during our cruise. The staff was not friendly, and this ship lacked "fun" on the Carnival Fun Ship. I can only imagine how over worked the service staff must be.
Forget about attending the Mardi Gras, the one party they held on the Lido Deck. You had to go on the above decks to view, or watch the movie screen by the pool. There were thousands of passengers in attendance.
The sofa in our balcony cabin was the sleeping accommodation they set for our 14 yr old daughter. This wasn't a bed, but an extremely firm (hard as rock) vinyl sofa with a sheet thrown over it. Needless to say, she had to sleep with us the entire trip.
Our three dining room tables were in the Scarlet Rm, back alcove near the kitchen escalator and serving area. The only view was a plain ceramic wall and the crew through the curtain, smoking outside. This space should have been assigned as a storage closet or restroom. We could have came in our PJ's and no one would have noticed. Ship is immaculate, but lacks character.
There were 2 small pools, and water slides (on top deck) for 3646 passengers. I heard adults complaining because the after pool was for adults only. It didn't seem to be and there were no signs. Would Carnival actually expect everyone else to use one pool? You had to try to slip in just to get wet and get out. They're was also a cat spray type odor in the aft pool all week. Pools should be a main feature on a cruise ship! If they're adding over 2000 addt'l people, you need addt'l pool facilities. If they thought by placing the slides on top deck, this would be the answer to crowd control, they were wrong This boat also lacked all the typical deck fun activities; horse races, dancing, etc. All they held was a hairy chest contest & guess the ice sculpture design. Probably because there was absolutely no room.
Karaoke is usually fun to watch, however the passengers and children pretty much ran the show. Felt like the kids club.
The PG Comedian was not humorous, but crude.
Towel rentals by the pool was the most ridiculous set up ever. You had to wait in line minimum 20 min. through the scorching sun and heat. You could opt to bring the beach towels from your room, but then you would have to schlep all the wet towels around the ship and back to your room, or you would be charged the cost of towels to your account. There was one girl filling out forms for rental and returns, from everything such as towels, miniature golf, table tennis etc. Why wouldn't the sport rental be at a separate table or on above deck where they are located?
The dining room food was fine with me, however other passengers thought is was poor quality and most of the desserts on board were horrible. They were either sugar free, gel substance, or tasteless. However the chocolate melting cake and blond and blanc were delicious.
Buffet Lines - This wasn't really an issue for us because we don't have lunch until 1:30. However, staffing was an issue. They would have two people inside the buffet or one person on the outdoor grills preparing and servicing 3646 passengers. The scenario for the outside bars was the same. Only two bartenders making individual frozen drinks and more for a tremendous number of people.
We cruised on the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore last June/July and we were very impressed all around w/Carnival.This ship was the total opposite and a huge let down.
I have enjoyed every cruise I've ever taken, and always felt sad when the cruise was coming to an end. This was not the case this time. Breakfast tip - Use the main dining room
On a positive note, we enjoyed most of the shows, and the boys from Dancin in the Streets were phenomenal.
If I were to chance Carnival again, it would be on one of their smaller ships. Other cruise lines may be a little more expensive, however I've never been disappointed on them, and bottom line is, you get what you pay for.
The Dream is not a good impression of cruising for a first timer, and not suitable for avid cruisers.
All in all, we made the best of it, and we still a good time with our family. Sometimes, it's not where you go, it's who you're with!