First time cruiser (FTC) here - sailed the Carnival dream 3/26-4/2 over spring break. As a FTC, this board certainly helped me a lot & I'm here to pay it forward. Overall - the ship was great, the service was great, the food was great - I really have no complaints at all, even though we were sailing at full capacity. Details:
Getting there - I booked thru CCL, including air. Overall the trip came out quite expensive, but this was because I booked so late & it was spring break - no one's fault but mine.
Embarkation & Debarkation - extemely smooth & well organized. No problems whatsoever - we were not VIP boarding, but we were in & upto the Lido deck getting lunch in no time.
Stateroom - we had a balcony room; spacious enough. Plenty storage in the cabin, as well as bathroom. Balcony had 2 chairs, of which one reclined, and a table. Loved it!
Food - plenty of options for us (& we are Indian vegetarians). Way more options for everyone else =) Too much food really. Loved the Tandoor & Mongolian. Not impressed by pasta bar. Evening dining - we made it to the MDR each night & food there was great - better than the Gathering. Chocolate Melting Cake, mmmmm!
Lines/crowding - there was the occasional line for food at peak times, but nothing too long. The deck chairs right next to the pool on Lido were usually taken, but there were plenty more all over the place. Serenity deck - a little harder to find chairs esp clamshells there, but I did grab one on one day. Even got the hammock another day. But peaceful areas were aplenty if you wanted them.
Entertainment - we did not make it to any shows - really no time. Too busy enjoying the ports or peaceful sea days. Maybe next time.
Kids - my son liked some of the activities in the kids camp & was happy to go there off & on. Other times he played on the water slides or mini golf or at the pools. And ate all the pizza he wanted - very happy...
Movement - as FTC, we were nervous about motion sickness; we did not even need to crack open the dramamine. We even had some rough seas for a while on a couple of days - rain/storm/wind. No problem at all. We saw plenty of folks with the ear patches though. So, it may be a personal thing.
Ports - all great; I will review separately
Drinks - my one & only gripe - I found them to be watered down, for being $8-10 a pop. We had taken our own allowed 2 bottles of wine, so that turned out to be a good thing.
Gym/spa - I used the gym on a couple of days; my husband got the week spa pass. The dry & steam rooms were both impressive according to him, but he is not sure he will spend the $$ again. Maybe...
Overall, a great experience. Lots of kids, but I wasn't bothered by them for the most part. They did come into the hot tubs, but no big deal.