A little background on us - I am 46 and hubby is 50. This was our 8th cruise, 4th with Carnival. We sailed on 9/25 on the Eastern Caribbean route.
We were in cabin 8424 with a balcony. We typically stay mid-ship but we switched cabins a few weeks before and this was all that was left. We ended up loving the location, just a few steps away from the elevators that took you right up to The Gathering and the aft pool on Deck 10. I've heard others talk about the cabin not staying cold but ours stayed cold the entire week. Our cabin was in excellent condition and our cabin steward did a fantastic job taking care of us. We didn't meet him until the 3rd day and then it was very briefly but that is fine with me. Unlike most American cruisers, I don't have a desire to get to know the staff. I expect them to be polite, knowledgeable and to provide good service but I don't need to get to know them.
We ate breakfast and lunch in the Gathering and despite what we had heard we had no trouble with lines or finding a table. The food was good, the blackened tilapia on the final day was outstanding. My husband enjoyed the Pasta Bar twice, didn't rave about it but enjoyed it.
We had early dinner seating and had requested a large table but were given a table of 4. I was very surprised to see how few large tables there were and how many tables of 4 this ship had. We were a bit nervous about this, a lot of pressure if you are seated with someone you don't have much in common with. But it turned out wonderfully. We had a fantastic week with our new friends and are planning another cruise together.
Our dining room waiter left the ship in Port Canaveral due to needing an emergency appendectomy but they still took great care of us. We enjoyed our meals each evening, nothing was spectacular but it was all good. The most lackluster part of the meal was the desserts. The apple pie was not edible and the other desserts were marginal at best. We had soda cards and received automatic refills throughout our dinner without even having to ask.
We played blackjack every night, love the $5 tables. The dealers were very friendly, my only complaint was it was smoking every night, I would have liked them to alternate just to give us non-smokers a break now and again.
We arrived about 20 minutes before the nightly show and had no trouble finding a seat. Dancing In the Streets was fantastic, not to be missed. The others were just okay.
We also visited the Comedy Club throughout the week. The PG show doesn't fill up very fast, you could arrive 10 minutes before and find a seat. The R rated show fills up fast, except for the last night, it was only 50% full. They switch out comedians on Thursday. We only saw one of the comedians early in the week, I think his name was Mike and he was very funny. Didn't see the other guy. Saw both of the comedians later in the week. Alan was horrible, absolutely horrible. The other guy was okay. Beware of arriving late or leaving early - all of the comedians embarrassed anyone who did this. Also beware of sitting up close, they were borderline cruel in making fun of some people.
The ship is very easy to navigate, didn't get lost even once which was nice. We really enjoyed the Deck 10 Aft pool. No matter what time of the morning we arrived on deck (between 9:30am - 10:30am usually) we had no trouble finding 2 chairs together by the pool. There were very few children on this sailing so this pool remained mostly adults the whole week. We also enjoyed the hot tubs on Deck 5. Usually very quiet and peaceful, just what a vacation should be!
Butch was the Cruise Director. He is from Minnesota and never lets you forget it. He talks 100 miles a minute and takes 10 minutes to say what could have been said in 3. But he is high energy and likeable if not annoying.
We did some jewelry shopping in port, we've been to these ports many times so we really didn't do much else. We did find it interesting when we ran into the shopping person from the ship, Dominica, at one of the jewelers, she was checking in with the store manager and asking what else she could do for them and if she was meeting their needs. It was rather odd. I would have expected her to make sure the store was meeting her passenger's needs, not the other way around.
We did encounter the "smell" several times during the week in various places. Each time was brief and unsettling but never lingered so it didn't hinder our enjoyment at all.
Overall it was a fantastic cruise, very relaxing, good service, good food, great new friends. We would sail on the Dream again without hesitation.