We sailed with a group of 9 family members with 4 balcony cabins. 3 of us were first time cruisers, and we had two boys age 10 and 12 along as well.
Edgar in the MDR made this ship. He was extremely friendly, and went out of his way to make our dining (and over all experience) wonderful. Edgar learned all of our names on the first night, and even though we switched seats every night, he never missed a beat. We had 3-4 rounds of bread every night, Edgar cut our youngest sons steak, and had the strange ability to know if something we ordered would not be what we thought it would be and would bring a "surprise" appitizer or entre' that would always hit the mark.
On about the 4th night, we arrived a little late for dinner (15-20 min.). We actually saw the MDR entertainment and asked Edgar why we hadn't seen any entertainment until that evening. Edgar answered with a smile that they had done it every night, but we were finished with dinner and gone before it started every night. "You have better things to do on this cruise than wait on ME to serve you!" We then noticed, as were were leaving, that all of the other tables were just being served their Main Course. We came in 15 min late, and were finished before the others were served.
Every time Edgar would see one of us or our children on the lido deck he would always say hi, and make sure everything was going well on board.
Embarkation and Debarkations went very smoothly as always with Carnival. No problem with luggage. One staff member helped all of us as we had children in their aunts room, on our sign and sail, and our aunt on yet another rooms sign and sail, but it went very smooth.
The staff ship wide was friendly and very helpful. The ship was very clean, save for stupid stuff passengers did. It always amazes me how someone can dump a plate of food on lounge chairs and just leave and claim another without telling anyone. Only smelled "the smell" a couple of times in port.
The Layout was excellent, flowed very nicely. As long as you used a little planning, even ports of call were easy to get on and off as you could go to deck 1 in the aft elevator, walk the length of the ship, and go down one flight of stairs. No lines, no waiting on elevators, no crowded elevators.
Our sailing had the cast and crew from "The Chipmunks 3, Chipwrecked" filming on board the entire week. Although it was cool to watch the process for shooting a scene, it was annoying every time you turned around, sections of the ship were closed off and you had to find another way around the production staff, or find another activity to do all together. It was not horrible, just annoying.
The Lines! 40 min. for breakfast buffet on port days was normal. If you wanted an omelet, add 15 min more. No one in our party has ever experienced it on any other Carnival ship. We tried various times in the morning, but it was always the same. I suppose if we had stayed on board, the lines would have thinned by 10 am.
The 24 hour Pizza Bar was not so 24 hour. I found it closed the two times I tried to get Pizza. My wife said the pizza was good though.
We only found a few hot tubs that were not COLD. Several of the Lanai hot tubs were as cold as the pools. With the number of hot tubs on the Dream we expected them to not be crowded. But the ones with warm water were crowded.