My husband and I traveled with a group of friends/family totaling 17 people (incl. 3 kids ages 7-11). We have all (with the exception of 2 adults and 1 child) cruised before and on various Carnival ships.
Ship- The Dream was beautiful and decorated tastefully (a departure from some of their more over the top decorated ships). All of the glass tiles were absolutely stunning. If you are familiar with carnival ships, the layout is pretty much the same. I read many reviews before our trip and alot of people said that there was not enough "common" space. Our cruise was sold out and I cannot in any way say that at any time we felt crowded. I guess it depends on a persons expectations. If you go on a cruise on a ship the size of the Dream and expect to see no one, then its your expectations, not the ship that is problematic. Of course on days at sea you couldn't stroll up to the serenity deck at noon and expect to snag prime seating. BUT, you could ALWAYS find a nice, comfy spot somewhere on the ship. On that same note, if you expect to go on a cruise (on this type of ship) and have no lines for the buffet then you are out of your mind! I would therefore say that buffet and food lines were in the normal range. The lanai deck was a favorite of my husbands and I.
Room- we had a balcony room on the 8th floor. We had friends right next door and we asked that the partition be removed on the balcony. This request was made on the day we arrived (pretty much as soon as we were able to get to our rooms) and surprisingly, maintenance showed up to do it 5 min after we called. Rooms were standard and what you'd expect. Our room steward was fantastic (Ana). BRING A POWER STRIP AND YOUR OWN BLOW DRYER!!!!!! There are no outlets (just 1 to be specific) and the blow dryer is the worst dryer I have ever encountered.
Activities-We saw 2 adult comedy shows and both were great. On sea days, they had "tea" which was super nice (tasty little finger foods and deserts and a large selection of teas). Piano bar was fantastic. We did alot of the dancing (line dancing class, couples ball room etc.)and had a blast. The game of love show is hilarious though I wish they would bring up 4 couples to include marriages of 10-15 years (they do newlyweds, 25 years, and over 50) but thats just because I wanted a chance to be a contestant LOL.
What shocked me the most was the service and the constant cleaning that you saw taking place. While I have no complaints about any other ships being dirty....this ship was constantly being spit shined clean. Service was amazing, no matter where you were on the ship, the minute you emptied your glass or finished your plate, someone was cleaning it up and someone else was asking if you needed anything else.
Food-Our dining room server and her assistant (Ratchee and Somboon) were nothing short of perfect. No complaints there. The food.......not so great. My husband and I ended up eating at the buffet 3 nights. All other misc. food was pretty good (deli, burgers, pasta bar etc.) The sushi (Wasabi's) was horrible. Tandoori grille was good. 8 of us went to the steak house one night (Chef's Art). While were were told that this was an "experience" and that we should expect to be there approximately 2 hours.....nothing prepared us for the awful service we received. At $30 extra per person, we all felt like they should have paid US for our time by the end (as the meal took over 3 hours despite there being only our table and one other table left towards the end). Half our group was actually falling asleep at the table. When we sat down, no one took drink orders until I spoke up (while they were taking dinner orders) and then they acted like they were doing us a favor. Then, two bottles of wine were ordered "for the table" and the wine sat on a side bar for 20 minutes till they got around to opening it. The food I will say was good and those of us who had the crab cakes agreed they were top notch. My additional gripe is that they would allow no "extra ordering" nor any changes. For example: their surf and turf was a fillet and a lobster tail. They also had prime rib. I asked for the prime rib with a side of lobster tail. Was told "NO". I then asked if I could substitute the fillet with the prime rib, again "NO". So, in order to get a lobster tail I had to get a steak I did not want or get only lobster with no steak. All in all, totally not worth it and a very aggravating experience.
Spa- most of our group at some point, went to the spa for massages of some sort. Everyone enjoyed their experience. DH and I had a nice couples massage. I was a bit irked at the "product" pitch at the end. I just had a relaxing massage and the last thing I want is a sales pitch. To be frank, this sales pitch kind of ruined it for me.
Ports- If you go on this specific cruise-YOU MUST BOOK EITHER A WATER (barrier reef) or JUNGLE excursion for the Belize stop. If not, don't even get off the boat and don't complain that it is a crappy port. Belize is a beautiful country, the port is just that, a port. You need to SEE Belize, either the reef or the jungle to appreciate it. Our favorite port was Roatan. Not only was the port top notch, but we did the snuba and had a blast (about a half hour bus ride) Costa Maya was OK, I highly recommend renting a golf cart or something and getting to the fishing village. There is a really nice bar with music and a huge (clean) swimming pool right in port but this seemed, at least on our cruise, the playground for the 21 and drunk crowd. The beach is horrible at port so you must head out to get to some beautiful beaches. Cozumel is Cozumel. We rented a car, drove around and ended up at paradise beach which was fantastic.
All in all, this was a great cruise The only thing I would say is that 4 ports, back to back, if you do excursions and explore, is exhausting. So, if you want a more relaxing cruise, either don't get off the boat at all the ports or pick a cruise with only 3 stops.