We sailed on Carnival Dream on the Jan 22 Western itinerary. There were 11 adults, 5 of them were first time cruisers. The rest of us have taken 3 - 8 cruises, mostly all on Carnival. This was our first time on the Dream for all of us. We are ages 32 - 58.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip and all the first time cruisers have said they will do it again. We have decided that we prefer the Conquest class ships but please don't mistake that preference as a negative about the Dream, just a personal preference.
The Ship: We have mostly cruised on the Conquest class of ships before so the Dream was not much different. One thing we noticed is that many of the public spaces were smaller or more enclosed so there wasn't the feeling of openness as there is on other ships. When you walk into the atrium on the Triumph or Conquest class, you are simply in awe of that amazing space. The atrium on the Dream was mostly closed in and did not inspire awe but it was beautiful.
The layout is very similar to Conquest but the addition of the Lanai deck is really great. We loved being to be able to walk around the deck. Also, the area between the casino and the lounge is more open and we really liked that. We noticed that space being used quite a bit on this ship.
The lido deck has two decks overlooking it instead of just one. We didn't spend a lot of time around the mid-ship pool. With 4 port days and the option of the serenity deck, we just didn't find much time for that area.
The serenity deck is another great addition to this ship. The seating available on that deck is all ratan-look furniture with cushions. Many of the seats had clam shell covers and there was lots of seating areas for groups that is much better than laying on a row of deck chairs. We were able to set up an area like a living room area and talk and hang out. We really enjoyed this area.
We are not smokers and the smoke has bothered us in the past. We noticed that there is a vast improvement on the Dream. I spent some time in the casino and was always able to find a non-smoking table. The smoke didn't bother me a bit in there. We didn't make it to the piano bar but the couple times we walked through, the smoke was noticeable there but that was the only place. I don't know if it was better ventilation or just a better layout.
The staff: were amazing - every crew member we encountered greeted us with a smile and a greeting. Our room steward was Vilma from Peru and she was just wonderful. She remembered our names from the first day and even noticed my MIL a little lost on the wrong side of the ship so she greeted her by name and showed her the way (she's not feeble in any way, just a confused first time cruiser who got turned around). One night when we returned from dinner there were 5 uniformed crew in our room with Vilma and she looked quite panicked. Turns out they do random checks to make sure the rooms are being cleaned - they literally went over our room with a white glove and she passed with flying colors. DH took one of the officers aside and said there were 6 of us in 3 rooms in Vilma's area and we couldn't be happier with her service. She thanked us for that afterward and said we had no idea how important that kind of feedback is. Vilma has a 2 year old son at home and it is obvious she is working hard to give him a better life.
Our wait staff were Jaya and Joel. Again, they gave exceptional service and we were very happy with them. Jaya is a wonderful dancer and my MIL danced with him each night there was singing and dancing. He can move! It was Joel's first week on the ship so he was still learning but he did great.
Our bar server in the dining room was Denis. He came by to see us each night after we sat down and made sure we all had drinks. We usually didn't order anything because we brought bottles of wine with us (no corkage fee was charged). But whenever one of us wanted a special drink, he was there and was prompt. He also showed up around dessert time each night with a tray of shooters. We had so much fun with that! He had a lot of fun telling us the names of the different shooters (not family friendly) and asking for special requests for the next night. The shot glasses were really nice and he used different colors each night so we could take a collection home (the glass was included, we didn't steal them!).
This was our second cruise with Butch as the cruise director. He seems to have toned it down somewhat and he was great. He has found a better balance of being enthusiastic without going over the top. Last year after the past guest party, we wrote him a note expressing our disappointment because it was crowded, we only got one drink and the location (the show lounge) was terrible. He sent back a note the next morning along with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. This year the past guest party was still in the show lounge but they have more of them so it wasn't so crowded and it was limited to the main floor of the lounge where the waiters could get around. We managed to get more than one drink this year and could see a vast improvement over last year. We spoke to Butch afterward because we think these improvements need to be recognized, not just the complaints. He seemed to appreciate the positive feedback.
The Food: I love the food on Carnival. The bbq on the Lanai deck was a favourite and nobody had a bad meal in the dining room. I tried the Tandoori Grill and it was yummy, the pasta bar was good, the chocolate buffet was delicious and the nachos at the grill were great. The omelet bar at the buffet further back was never too busy. Everyone in our group loved the food and we all agreed that if someone complains about it, they are looking too hard for something to complain about.
One photographer had a lot of fun with us: Dehnok is a tiny woman who was taking photos in the Atrium on the first formal night and she showed a lot of patience and great sense of humour in getting our whole group for a photo. Some of the best laughs of the trip.
I know some people remove the automatic tips from their sail and sign cards but we can't even imagine not thinking those people don't deserve those tips. They all went out of their way to show us a good time and meet our every need. Plus they are the only ones on the trip who don't ask for more tips! Every port we go to and even the shuttles are always demanding and expecting more tips but the crew do their jobs and hope for some sort of recognition. I encourage everyone to give the minimum recommended and also a kind word to anyone who has earned it.
Prior to the cruise, we stayed at the Orlando Airport Marriott and it was a great location. The shuttle driver provided transportation to restaurants and stores close by for whatever we wanted to tip him. The hotel was very nice. We used Happy Limo for shuttle transportation to and from the Port. I wrote a long review of them on the Home Ports section. I would recommend them.
Embarkation was a breeze - we arrived early and had to sit for about 10 minutes for our number to be called but it was all very quick and easy. Debarkation took less than 15 minutes including customs (we left the ship around 7:30 am).
We had a balcony room next door to another couple travelling with us (my sister and BIL) so we had the balcony divider removed. we were concerned when we first saw the room that they couldn't do it because if they just swung the divider open, one of our balcony doors would be blocked. But they came on the first full day and completely removed the divider - they took it off it's hinges and we had a nice double balcony. We were on deck 9 and didn't mind looking down on the Lanai deck. We were high enough that we could see the water and even saw many flying fish.
We went to a couple of the comedian shows and thought they were great. We didn't see any children in the uncensored shows. The Dancin in the Streets show was amazing - I'm not a fan of most of the shows in the show lounge but after we saw this one, we told everyone in our group who didn't see it to get to the late show. Everyone loved it. We also saw the FunForce dancers perform in the Atrium and weren't all that impressed with that show - I wouldn't go out of my way to see it again because it was just too brief.
I lost my camera on the last day and didn't realize it until a few hours later. I went to guest services and was told it hadn't been turned in. We checked our room again and then DH went down to file a missing item report. A while later (midnight), I noticed they had the wrong name brand on the report so I went back down to GS. I was greeted by name (!) and when I explained why I was there, he said, "is this your camera?" and it was!! A crew member had found it and turned it in :)
Like I said, this was a wonderful vacation and we bought another Future Cruise Certificate because we will be cruising again soon but probably on a smaller ship next time. As wonderful as the Dream is, we want to try something new next time.