My wife and I travelled with 3 other couples. We have been cruising since 1998. We have cruised on Royal Caribbean and Carnival before. We prefer Royal Caribbean. We chose the Carnival Dream for 2 reasons; size of the ship and itinerary. The cruise had 4 ports of call, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya. We had previously been to Cozumel but the others were new to us.
The Ship The Carnival Dream is the largest ship that we have ever sailed. Needless to say our expectations were pretty high. The ship was nice but did not have the "wow' factor that I was looking for. At any rate, I was disappointed with the layout of the ship. The main pool deck was divided into 3 separate decks. This made seating and spacing limited. There were a couple of functions (lasers shows and buffets) on the main deck where all of the passengers were encouraged to attend but there was not enough room to accommodate all of us. The jogging/walking track went around the over-sized miniature golf course and an engine room. It would have been nicer to have it go around the main pool area.
Since we have been cruising, we have graduated from cabins with small port holes to ocean view cabins to balconies. The cabin was nice. My wife and friends said the cabin was larger that the other ships we have traveled. I didn't notice the difference. I did notice that there we more children on this cruise. Regardless of the sign on the balcony doors, most guest, especially the kids, let the doors slam shut and you could hear them from 3 cabins up or down the hall and on the decks above.
The adult only section (Serenity) is on the front of the ship; right next to the children's water play area and the water slides. It kinda defeats the purpose of the adult only section. On a more positive note, Serenity was a nice experience once you went past the kids. They also offer a light assortment of food for lunch so you don't have to walk down 2 decks and to the middle of the ship to go back to the buffet.
Entertainment The main theater was small, especially for the largest ship in the fleet. The entertainment was just OK (I don't have high expectations for cruise ship entertainment). My wife is particularly critical of the singing. The male lead singer was very good; the female hit a couple of clunkers. The dancers were good but I was a little concerned with the break dancers. Although they were very good, I thought I was thrown back to the 80's. There was another singer right outside of the main theater in the lobby. She was average at best.
I thought the comedians were very good and it was a nice touch to have a separate club for them.
Although I did not go into the adult night club, I was told that the DJ changed the music when the younger crowd came in the club.
There were 2 separate clubs for kids (11-13 and 15-17 years old). I think this was unnecessary.
Customer Service The customer service was not that good. Compare to other cruises on both cruise lines, this was probably the worse. We had a cabin with balcony. I observed several room stewards washing the glass on the balcony as well as the glass on the door and window of the cabin. I don't think any of our exterior glass was ever cleaned.
Some of the staff did not understand English. Even when you walked through the halls or saw some of the staff on the elevators, they did not always greet you or at least say hello. Except for the casino staff. They always smile when the take your money :)
Food OK. On to more important things, EATING!!!! The food in the main dining room was very good. Even for lunch. Yudi, our waiter gave very good service. The deli was very good and very convenient between the break between lunch and dinner in the "Gathering" the main buffet. I enjoyed the wraps especially. Speaking of the Gathering, the food was pretty good. The fried chicken didn't stand a chance. The burrito bar was nice. The oriental wok buffet was excellent, even though the line was often long. I was not a big fan of the Italian restaurant. Everything was dry. Its upstairs from the main buffet. Very easy to miss. 24 hour pizza and ice cream is always nice.