Yes, the Lido deck pool areas get crowded quickly but there were plenty of lounge chairs available away from the pools, such as the 5th level port and starboard decks which were also conveniently located by the lunch buffets. The adults only serenity deck pods were extremely cozy, but you must go early if you want one on an at-sea day.
We dined all seven nights in the Scarlet Dining room. The food and service were fantastic, and yes, the warm chocolate melting cake is "to die for." Get more than one. We never had a problem with lines for food except certain mornings the omelet station wait was too long for me. The regular lines were short.
We paid for the soda cards but rarely used them because tea and lemonade were plentiful. The pasta bar was fantastic, and ice cream was always available too. We really enjoyed the shows and the comedy clubs, although you need to arrive early for a good seat for the adults-only comedy.
We did not book any official excursions, we did all of our own shore excursions ourselves for a fraction of the price. Each tour company was extremely conscientious about returning us timely, with at least an hour or more to spare. We went diving in Cozumel with Blue Magic Scuba, cave tubing in Belize with Coral Breeze Tours, rented a taxi outside the gates of Mahogany Bay Roatan for a fraction of the inside taxi price ($10/pp vs. $25/pp) for the whole day, and then took the Native Choice Mayan pyramid tour in Costa Maya. All four excursions were fantastic. The Carnival Dream was delightful.