Just returned from Carnival Dream cruise with husband and 2 girls, 6 and 8 years old. Because of the hurricanes, itinerary was changed to Western Caribbean instead of Eastern side. No big deal for us because ports really are not important. My girls are really interested in the beaches and Camp Carnival. Camp Carnival is excellent - my girls didn't want to leave it most days.
This is our third time with Carnival, having previously sailed with Glory and Liberty. We wanted to try a bigger ship, thinking it might be more impressive. Service and standard were great like the previous ships but my only and biggest complaint, as I have read with other passengers on this website, is the lack of public spaces for a ship of this size with the number of passengers. Huge line ups for everything, especially at meal times.
For example, on the Liberty there were 6 frying pans going at the Mongolian Wok at lunch time. On the Dream, with 4500 passengers, they had only 6 frying pans going too! There wasn't a proportionate increase in amenities or services given the extra thousand or more passengers on Dream compared to the smaller ships. The Encore theatre looked like it seated the same number of people as the Glory or Liberty which meant that if you wanted to get a good seat you had to come 30-45 minutes before the shows to save seats.
I don't want to sound like I am ungrateful. We thank God for this opportunity to cruise again but if given a choice, for the same service, standard and amenities, I wouldn't choose Dream again because there are just too many people jockeying for everything.
One other complaint: the boorish behaviour of some of the passengers. People would leave dirty dishes in the hallways, stairs or by the elevators instead of taking them to the lido deck restaurants or bar. You wouldn't do that at home so why would you do it on a cruise? I saw a few people tripping on cups and glasses on the stairs, spilling the content and making more work for the staff.
Ports (Cozumel, Belize, Honduras and Costa Maya) were not that interesting. As I said, we just wanted beaches. In Cozumel, we went to a resort not too far from the port called El Cid. We paid $13/adult and we got $10 credit for the bar and restaurant. Basically for $6 (kids were free) we swam on their beach and pool and had some food! Good snorkeling here. All walking distance. Great deal if you are looking for cheap and cheerful afternoon. Otherwise you had to pay for taxi to public beach (and pay an entrance fee).
The beach on Honduras where we stopped was so crowded. The Liberty docked too so there was hundreds of people in the water. We couldn't snorkel because all the people stirred up the sand and you couldn't see in the water. BTW, you don't have to pay for the entrance to the beach so don't think you have to buy the "Magic Flying Chair" to get to the beach. Save the money and just walk. I think it's a 5 or 10 minute walk on their path.
Hope this helps in selecting the right ship for you.