This was my 5th cruise with Carnival, so I know what to expect. But I keep coming back, so what I expect always seems to turn out pretty good!
My wife and I sailed with 34 other friends this time around. We were known around the ship as "The Alaska Folks", as our presence was felt all over the place! :)
First off, if you can get the VIP embarkation, do it! The last cruise we took we were elegible for it, but didn't realize it...doh! This time around, we bypassed most everyone in the line and were taken to a cozy, sit-down room with a few other passengers to complete the check in. We bypassed more lines and walked onto the ship within about 15 minutes of arriving at the port...awesome! We had the VIP service due to booking a Suite cabin. Not sure if there's any other way to get it or not (Perk from your travel agent, etc.) So it's cool to be treated "special" like that...but you do have to pay for it ;)
The Dream itself is a nice looking ship. Not as garish or loud as some of the others. A bit more understated. Luckily, it seems to follow the basic layout of the other Carnival ships, so there's only a couple days of "Which way do I go again?"
Food-wise, it's everything I've come to expect and that you've heard before. The evening dining is always the best. The food is good and varied and the service is prompt and friendly. Some of my favorite times on the ship are the dinner service with all of us at our tables. Breakfast buffet is nothing special. Good, basic food. The omlette bar is not bad, 'tho. Tip- For a smaller selection, but way shorter lines, go to the breakfast buffets that are outside at the rear of the ship. I virtually never had to wait when going back there. Inside...different story :)
Show-wise: If you like Vegas-style shows, you'll like these! If you think that sort of show is Cheesy...bring some crackers ;) The shows are well done for the most part. The dancers are quite talented...but not the Rockettes. There are always a few "in sync" issues between the dancers on every cruise I've been. But it's not noticable unless you're looking for it. The shows were enjoyable, although I wasn't as impressed with the "Tribute to Country Music" show...didn't seem to mesh too well with the glitzy, Vegas style, in my opinion, of course...
The regular guest shows are here, as well. The Hairy Chest competition (A crowd favorite) in which two of our group compeated) and the Carnival Legends show on the final night...in which three of our group starred...including Yours Truly! :) *Elton John, eat your heart out...heh heh!*
Stephanie, who is one of the entertainment staff on the ship, was Awesome! She was the leader of the White team (A competition between passengers over the course of the cruise) and led us to a crushing victory! She also organized a private musical theatre sing-along with the host of the piano bar, which was a lot of fun!
The Waterworks area is a lot of fun! The longest waterslide at sea! There's two; one is a long, "regular" slide and the other is shorter, but much faster and sends you shooting out of a tube into a circular bowl before coming to a stop! There's also a dual racing slide, 'tho it's too short to get a good speed going. There's also a very small slide for the little ones.
I'll discuss the ports of call and our room below. But otherwise, the Dream is a nice ship and worthy of your consideration!