Ours was the 9-day sailing to Western Caribbean, spanning the holidays. We did sail previously with Carnival and as expected the crowds and lines on Dream were somewhat longer (as the ship is bigger) and staff and services were somewhat less polished (as the ship and crew are newer), but overall it was very pleasant experience.
Cabin. Adequate space, very good mattresses and linens, comfortable facilities and nice balcony. The steward did very good job, he was nice and polite, and the towel creatures were lovely. Other aspects of the service were a bit more troublesome: upon the check-in we did not find the TV remote in our room and reported it over the phone just to get the helpful answer "It must be in the room, look under the bed". Well we did check before calling just in case, and the room was supposed to be done before the check-in anyway? So they promised to "send someone" but in the end we had to resolve it with the steward on the next day.
Dining. We used the More
Crimson dining room and a couple of spots were really problematic. The soups, salads, and desserts were all fine, however the sides were pre-selected for their main courses, and the sides were almost impossible to eat anyway. The main problem with kitchen was it turned out they were incapable of doing the meat or poultry to the right temperature: in same evening the steak ordered as medium-rare was bloody raw on first attempt and cooked well to stiffness on second try. The duck on other evening was too pink. Apparently they could not roast by time and could not use the thermometer either. After one fellow traveler on next table got his steak zero out of two times (during the same meal) done as ordered he called the Maitre'D to the task, but the latter's reply was "Why you are complaining, the others are Ok". Well, not exactly - some decided to be more stoic and not to raise a fuss about the cook's lack of skill and deficient quality control in the restaurant. The plates were clean but not spotless, and the water from pitcher sometimes smelled of steel tank. During the 9-days cruise the Maitre'D never found a time to show up by our table to ask how we find the food and service. However on 7 out of 9 nights the Maitre'D and his staff engaged in singing and dancing which was a bit too much for our preference: once-twice per cruise might be Ok but it turned out to be somewhat disruptive, e.g. you had to eat your cake without coffee which was delayed because the waiter was busy dancing and trying to pull diners off their chairs. Other point is that they used the same music for all dinners night after night - one would expect they could stock up some 5 or 7 CDs - not a very big investment, but no. Finally their Remy Martin VSOP tasted suspiciously close to VS.
Other food places. The venues were clean and well-attended and the morning omelets made by order were great. The juices from morning buffet dispensers were Ok but the coffee could be better. Unfortunately the best spots for lunch - the Tandoori and Mongolian Grill - worked only from 12 to 3 so the customers going ashore were missing them, too bad they could not open between 5 and 7. We sampled them only during sea days and found to be the best lunch options. The Wasabi Sushi bar on deck 5 is great but lacks the table space so you are forced to eat from your lap. The Pasta Bar on deck 11 was good but the order took surprisingly long time, longer than meals done to order at Mongolian or in dining room on same ship. Out of all eateries working most hours we found the Deli counter to be the best - good sandwiches and efficient attendants. The espresso and gourmet coffee at bars were high quality and affordable. The fruits, cakes, and pastries at the buffet lines were very good.
Entertainment. The cruise director Butch was a tad on the pervasive side and we did not attend the shows besides of checking the comedians at the Burgundy lounge. The ship's host of comedy shows sounded both lame and annoying but the two guest stand-up stars we had a chance to listen to were both good. The clubs for kids (Circle C for 12-14 y/o and O2 for older teens) were apparently very good as well and kept the youngsters busy and entertained till late hours. The host at the Sam's piano bar was very good and the main detracting point there was only too much smoke in the air. The Casino is relatively small yet cozy and well attended, but lacks adequate ventilation. The mini-golf set on deck 12 is lovely and popular, we enjoyed it. The garden chess sets required maintenance as some pieces are already broken and some are leaking water. The library was a major disappointment as it is virtually not existing, the only materials available are some old guides for Italy that were probably stocked on the first sailing. Carnival should definitely consider having supply of destination guides, fresh magazines, and board games there, along with someone to run the place and oversee the borrowing. Overall the staff tried hard to keep the cruise fun and entertaining for the whole crowd.
Spa and related activities. The sauna is great and boasts a large window with ocean view, really extra nice point. The facilities in spa were clean and the staff was polite. They ran several gym classes with open attendance and some good seminars on fitness and well-being too. The hot tubs were good but a bit overcrowded while the water slides for kids seemed like a lot of fun and were supervised.
Information and Media. Some important info like captain's daily address in which he outlined both present and expected sea conditions were only broadcast live once a day and were not posted on info channels via the in-cabin interactive TV, while that TV used some channels to recycle again and again recorded ads (mostly shopping) and recorded shows (you could see Butch the Director on several channels simultaneously and 24/7). The weather forecasts for the ports of call were neither posted on TV info channels nor on the billboard in the lobby. The phone switchboard was really cumbersome to use, e.g. in order to ask about the same weather forecast one had to dial service then wait then make multiple selections with some waiting in between. Finally the most outrageous issue is how the photo shop operates: the photographers keep closing the stairs in the atrium; crowding the hallways with their props (they keep using 19th century know-how with painted canvasses as backgrounds) and equipment; harassing diners during the dinner with proposals to take a picture; obstructing the gangways on going ashore with usual "Stop! Look at the camera!". The pictures ready for browsing are not posted to cabins via interactive TV but are printed on paper and take a lot of space on deck 4 in the atrium.
We did not book the shore excursions as we usually go on our own, but heard good comments from other travelers.
Overall the positive points prevailed by handy margin so the trip was great and lots of fun. Carnival continues delivering so hopefully they will be able to resolve the issues. Less