Embarkation and Disembarking was quick and easy. I was pleasantly surprised on how fast we got to the check in. We had some issues with check in because the person checking us in was new and didn't know how to deal with our unique situation (my daughter was on my credit card, but staying in my moms room, etc).
Rooms .. We had a balcony room on the Empress level and it was very, very nice. It was much bigger than the rooms we had on the smaller ships we have been on. We had a couch, small table, king sized bed and 2 chairs and table on the balcony. Plenty of closet space. The beds were comfortable. My mom had an inside cabin, it wasn't as big - but still more spacious than the inside cabins on other ships.
The ship itself was very nice (of course it is new). Everything was clean and well kept. All of the indoor public spaces were nicely decorated. The balcony seats in the Encore room had virtually no leg room, so we selected to sit on the floor after that experience.
Entertainment .. We saw most of the shows, they were reasonably good. I was not impressed with the female singer (I heard better in the piano bar), but I think others liked her. They really tried to keep a variety in the shows. One night there was a magic show that we all enjoyed. The last night they featured guests from the ship - it was a lot of fun.
I was not thrilled with the cruise director. There were a number of people on the entertainment staff that had a lot more personality than Butch.
NOTE!! If you have late dining your show time might be at 10:30 pm or it might be at 7 pm. Other ships we have been on had a set time for the shows each night - the Dream had a different schedule for each day.
We loved that they had 4 different comedians on the ship!! We went to every all age comedy show (4 different shows) and enjoyed everyone of them. It was the one time each evening that we knew that everyone in our group would show up. I think the other cruises we have taken have only had one comedian, so again I was pleasantly surprised. The adult shows were OK, a little too much bathroom humor for me.
Dining .. We had late dining (8:15). The early is just too early for us on the days that we have shore excursion. If I had it to do over, I would have chosen MY TIME DINING. When I made the reservation I did not know that the shows could be AFTER our dining time (Which made for a very late night).
The food was OK -- lobster in the dining room was excellent. Mongolian BBQ was good. Deli on the back of the ship had fresh sandwiches and the BBQ on the deck on level 5 was really popular. Had an great salad and wrap at the Sushi bar turned salad bar one day for lunch. The buffet was about as expected. Ate breakfast in the dining room as couple of times - I think it was about the same food as was on the buffet.
Pool, Deck and Water slide .. The kids loved the water slide (so did my husband). The pool wasn't very inviting. You have to maneuver your way through tons of chairs to get to the pool. The deck chairs were always "taken" - but this is not anything new to this ship or the Carnival cruise lines. I wish someone would figure out a way to stop those people that bring their towels down first thing in the morning and then do whatever they want all day and expect their chair to be there waiting for them.
Service: For the most part the service was good to excellent. Our dining room waitress NI was wonderful. Our room steward was very nice and helpful. There were a couple of times that the people working the buffet were rude and in a big hurry to get things shut down.
I read that the lines are really long. Yes, you do have to stand in line to eat at the buffet and the more popular food areas had pretty long lines - but I didn't think they were any worse than other cruises I had been on.
Kids Club .. my Granddaughter attended Camp Carnival and thought it was fun, but she spent most of her time with us. My 15 year old spent almost every evening at the O2 club and had a great time. Kudos to Carnival for having a club and activities that the teenagers actually enjoy.
Photography .. I was disappointed in the quality of the photos that we had taken. Some of them were obviously the problem of the photographer (blurry and out of focus).
Ports .. we missed Roaton Isle because of the weather. My impression is that the ship was too wide to safely maneuver the channel to get to the dock. There were a lot of people very disappointed. I noticed, from another review, that the Dream missed docking at Roaton at least one other time this year. If you really, really want to go to Roaton - you might want to choose a different ship or cruise line (other cruise ships were docked at the other port).
All in all the cruise was nice enough. The ship was bigger and the rooms were roomier than on the other cruises we have been on (Carnival Inspiration). The price for the Dream was higher and I don't know if it was worth the extra cost.
Some of our group went to see the Mayan Ruins with www.thenativechoice.com -- the ones that took the tour were very happy with their guide and van ride.
The rest of us took the bus into the little village of Mahahual. It is a little village where I think everyone turns into a vendor when the cruise ships dock :). We walked along the beach and had a couple of beers for $2 a piece. You ride into town on the bus ($3 a person) and then get a taxi back for $2 a person.