We could not get a room close to port due to the space shuttle launch, so if you are cruising from this port and need a pre-cruise stay, be sure to book early. Thankfully, we just live on the other coast of Florida, so we drove to Port Canaveral on Saturday morning. Embarkation was not bad, pretty easy, really - but not as easy as Tampa.
We were onboard about 1:00 pm and waited a bit, then decided to find our room and we were in it by 1:25 pm. It was a couple of hours later that we got our bags. It was a bit disappointing, as we had an inside room, which seemed a lot smaller than our last cabin (a balcony) on the Legend. But it was clean, had a great, very comfortable bed, large bathroom (handicap), sufficient closet space for the two of us and under bed storage as well. Our room steward was Jenny and she was great, but we only saw her a couple of times - quiet, but efficient. There was no chair, except for a small vanity stool and I thought we were told we'd have a table and 2 chairs. But it was a tiny room (7336), so that would not have fit. We were midship, near the elevators which was convenient - a bit noisy a few times as kids ran down the hall, but not too bad --- except the one night when they did the colors bar hop or whatever it is - when a bunch of loud, obviously drunk (adults?) danced, ran, screamed and sang through our hallway just after midnight - interrupting our blissful sleep. First time that's ever happened to us and this was our 5th cruise on Carnival.
Ship: HUGE - really was too big for us. We have decided we really prefer the smaller ships - especially the Legend, which is Spirit class. However there was a lot to do - full court basketball, mini golf, lots of hot tubs - and when we got in, water was perfect temp - not scalding, but not lukewarm as some have said, lots of computer hubs, cornhole(bean bag toss), friendly crew. Overall, I just have this to say: Carnival Dream - you ROCK! (literally) I miraculously didn't get seasick, but had trouble several times walking steadily - and I am still feeling that "motion of the ocean" for a day or two after the cruise!
Food: Good and bad. We ate in the MDR every night. Had great service most nights. Carnival PVP Nicole had noted that I had a birthday and we had an anniversary during the cruise, so we got a piece of cake and a song for each of those! Best entree I had was the prime rib and the lasagna. Worst (and I hope this is not always true) was the chateaubriand. Mine was wayyyy too tough to the point of being inedible. The seafood looked good (and was - according to my husband). I have a shellfish allergy so, couldn't try it - darn it! Not overly impressed with the grill, buffet, pizza, etc - but we ate there often for the convenience. It wasn't bad - just ok.
Entertainment: We saw most shows and comedians and really enjoyed them. Cruise director Butch was like the energizer bunny on steroids! Man could he talk fast - but he was from Minnesota and had a clear speaking voice, which we appreciated very much! Unfortunately, we never got to meet him, but he seemed very nice. We loved "Dancing in the Streets", & "Get Ready". Also liked the country music show, but can't remember the name right now. Comedians were very funny - especially enjoyed Tony Esposito. We missed the late night R-rated ones, so can't speak for those.
Ports and excursions:
Nassau - not a lot of time in port which was a bit disappointing. We took a little tour of the town in a surrey and shopped a little - bought a couple of rum cakes - yummmm.
St Thomas - had booked an afternoon sail with Island Girl and my husband did some snorkeling. Made for a very relaxing afternoon. This was one of the highlights of our trip. Shopped a bit (of course). Found a nice golf shirt for hubby and a Panama Jack hat.
St Maarten - didn't have a plan at all, but were able to get a private taxi and tour some of the island, which was very informative, as our driver was a native of the island and had retired from a government job there. His name was Clarence. Went over to the French side too and got a pastry at a little French bakery - saw the beach, but it was cloudy and looked like a storm was coming, so we didn't stay there long - prettier beaches here in Florida I think. Shopped at the shops by the port - but much of it you could buy here in Florida.
Onboard activities: There were plenty of choices, but not all were easily accessible to everyone. One big complaint I have with Carnival (not just the Dream) is that the piano bar is always filled with smoke. OK, I know people like to drink and smoke together -- but there are also people who just can't be around smoke, but would love to have a piano bar experience!!!! Plus about 75% of people are non-smokers. We also would have loved to do karaoke, but chose not to "choke though the smoke" to get there.
Disembarkation was pretty easy. We did the zone method, left our room at about 8:20 am and were on the road again about 25 minutes later!
Overall, even with some faults, it was still a pretty good cruise and we enjoyed seeing places that were new to us. However, I think we are spoiled to the port of Tampa (easy-breezy) and the ships there (Legend, Inspiration)! We prefer smaller ships - not so crowded, etc. I am not sure how I would feel about cruising if this had been my first experience.