We just returned from our Carnival Dream vacation. Here's my review:
Embarkation: This was relatively quick. We got in line at the terminal at about 11:45 and were onboard by 12:30. We immediately went to the Crimson dining room for lunch.
Muster Drill: We met at our muster station and listened to the safety briefing. We did not do the usual lineup at the actual lifeboats. I've never had this be the case and am guessing that this may have had to do with the heavy rain that had just passed over us before the drill started? Luckily the rain had pretty much stopped before sailaway.
Cabin: We had connecting Cove balconies, 2314 and 2318. We LOOOOOVED these rooms. During the aforementioned storm, we were sitting comfortable and completely dry on our balcony. They feel much roomier than a regular balcony. I really liked not having the plexiglass front - the spacing on the rails was set so that we could sit comfortably in the chairs, looking though the binoculars. These rooms in particular are under the Crimson and we never heard any noise from above us. If I ever sail another ship with a Cove offering, it's a cabin type I will definitely repeat.
There is a ton of storage in the room - in fact, we had complete shelves in the room and bathroom that sat empty the whole week. Was the first time I cruised without an over the door shoe rack and I did not miss it a bit.
We found the beds to be terrible - which is a sentiment we shared with the rest of our group. I kept meaning to request a topper, but never got around to it. There was an extra comforter stored in the closet, so we just threw that on the bed and it made it a little better. Our steward was Jose and he did a great job taking care of us.
Cloud 9: My mother and I split the weekly pass. With 4 ports it was difficult to really get daily use of it, but we did manage to make it 4 days total. The Thelasso pool was nice - it was hot three of the four days, but almost chilly on one day. Perhaps they had just filled it? It really is nothing more than a large hot tub. We really enjoyed the dry room with the hot tile reclined loungers. I nodded off each time I used it - it was nice! Also, the showers in the Cloud 9 area are huge and awesome! I checked out the "public" locker room and it wasn't nearly as spacious.
Gym: The gym is well equipped with the latest in fitness equipment, unfortunatly its too small and the gym was PACKED every day. I often had to wait for a treadmill or elliptical to open up. It was an awkward space too with the way it wraps around the Thelasso pool. Strange design.
Chefs Art: This was our second supper club experience and I wasn't as impressed as I was with The Point on the Conquest. On the Conquest, it was an event, from the moment we walked in the door. Here it just seemed like a snooty version of the dining room. The food was as good as I remember from the Conquest, but the experience was far less personal and interesting.
Waterworks: DD hates the saltwater pools (and they were WAY too crowded anyway) so we're thrilled to have the Waterworks options. We enjoyed this area on several occasions. We actually skipped Costa Maya and spent most of our day at the WaterWorks area. Lots of fun for all ages! Pools / Hot Tubs: These areas were way too crowded and small for a ship this size.
Camp Carnival: I usually RAVE about CC, and this is usually DD's (7) favorite part of cruising. Not this time. She went for maybe an hour and a half each night. When I asked her why she didn't go much this trip, she said the counselors were mean. I noticed during drop off and pick up that they seemed more stressed and abrasive than those on other ships we've sailed. I asked DD if they were mean to her and she said no, but that one in particular kept asking the other kids "you got a problem with listening, huh?" It obviously made her uncomfortable.
Smell: Yes, I smelled that smell. It was certainly not a constant and I pretty much forgot about it until those few moments that it assaulted my nose. The first time I smelled it was the evening of our first full day at sea. After that it was once, maybe twice, throughout the day... and quickly forgotten once it passed.
Cozumel: We were the only ship in port. We'd planned this to be a beach day, but didn't know where. We wanted to try one of the beach clubs we've never tried before, so we ended up at Mr. Sanchos. The facilities were very nice and exactly what we were looking for. We spent several relaxing hours there, swimming in the ocean, in the small pool, and playing on the beach toys. The food was good. The drinks were pricey but weak - if I were there with partying in mind, I'd stick with bottled type beverages. Just saying.
Roatan: We were one of two ships in port - we shared Roatan with the Norwegian Epic. BIG BOAT. ? DD, Mom, and I did a Shore Trips zip lining tour at South Shores. DD (7) had to go down with a guide, which I was okay with. She had fun despite this. Mom (65) did well on this one - she seemed to enjoy herself and it wasn't overly strenuous for her. I've done zip lining a few times, so I think I had the most fun. Zip lining is more fun when you can relax a little and take in the scenery as you fly above / around it. ? It was a good day. DD was fascinated with the monkeys at South Shore. One of the guides let her hold one while I took a picture. Shopping tip at Mohogany Bay - visit the carts in the middle of the shopping area - they seemed to be mostly ignored and were more "flexible" on their prices.
DH did the Black Pearl Golf Course. Be aware that the course is still under construction. Only 9 holes were playable, so they did them twice. Club rentals were $35. I think there should have been a little more disclosure on the 9 hole information, given the hefty price of $190 for this tour. Judging by the photos it was a very nice course with terrific ocean views.
Belize: We were the only ship in port. DH and I did the Raiders of the Lost Mayan Cave. Great tour! Elvis was our guide and we enjoyed his style of presentation very much. The caves and "elements" were cool. As far as the "mayan" part of this tour, I think it was bogus, but it made for a good story. We bought the photo CD for $20. We saw that some people paid as much as $45. Don't be that guy. ;)
Costa Maya: We were the only ship in port. We'd originally planned this to be a beach day, but we were tired from our previous days activities and ended up waking up late. We had breakfast at about 10:30, so we ended up just spending most of the day in the WaterWorks area. It was perfect - short wait times and plenty of room to play and enjoy. DH and I left DD at Camp Carnival for about an hour and half and ventured in for a little shopping, but that was the extent of our Costa Maya day.
Summary: While we had a great cruise though I will not be likely to sail the Dream or anything comparable in size in the future. (Which means I'll probably not have another Cove...wah!) 4000 people was just too many people and I think ovewhelms the system in enough small ways that it does affect your experience. I think I'd rather go back to something in the Fantasy class size. Those seem to be just right for me.