My family and i just returned from a seven night trip on the Carnival Dream to the Eastern Caribbean. We had originally planned on seeing the Eastern Caribbean, but the itinerary was changed three days prior to sailing due to problems withe the Dream's thrusters. Carnival offered a complete refund or a $100 per person credit. We were ready to go, so we took the credit.
We stayed overnight at the La Quinta Oceanfront in Cocoa Beach. The hotel is clean and the staff is friendly. The location is also great because it is right near the pier. You can walk to several restaurants or take a short cab ride.
Embarkation was great at Port Canaveral. Got to the port around 11 am and we were on the ship by noon. We had lunch in the buffet and the lines were no longer than any other ship that we have sailed. It really seems that the first day on any ship is crowded and after that, people find their space.
We have sailed on Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. We travel with our two kids (age 16 and 19). The kids have always found friends on any ship we have sailed, but our daughter is now over the age limit for the Kids Club. We had read that Carnival would have a mixer for the under 21 set, but this did not occur. My daughter had met friends last year on the Emerald Princess at a tweens mixer and it really changed her cruise. Something to consider if you have kids in this age group.
As far as the ship goes, we had a great time. We had two inside rooms (4F) on the Empress Deck and they were more than adequate. Our Steward was outstanding and cleaned the room the second we left. We did not experience any of the long lines, smells or other complaints people have had about this ship. Only once in the buffet was it over-crowded. The reason being was that two of the four buffets were not serving lunch, but instead dessert. All I can say is that we wanted out.
Food in the dining room was good overall. If we ordered something that didn't work out, the staff was more than willing to replace it quickly. Regarding the food, it has been our experience that Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean are all mass market. If you are looking for gourmet, none of these lines are a good choice. However, between the three, Carnival really seems to have the best food in the MDR. The buffet was just okay.
The Activities Staff worked really hard to ensure that everyone had a great cruise. The Dream also featured four different comedians with family friendly and R rated shows. This was a lot of fun and was a nice change from more traditional forms of cruise ship entertainment.
On St Thomas, we took the ferry to St John. This trip was a lot of fun. We were fortunate to have a long stop on St Thomas that extended until 8 pm. To get to St John, you can take a 45 minute ferry from the cruise port or you can take a cab to Red Hook and take the ferry from there. Because the Red Hook ferry ran hourly, we went that route. The cost was a little over $50 pp round trip for all cabs and ferries. We went to Cinnamon Bay on St John. There are plenty of cabs to take you to the local beaches once you get off the ferry (but you can see why I spent a little over $50 pp on transportation). However, compared to a lot of excursions, our costs were definitely on the low side. Cinnamon Bay was beautiful. You can also go to Trunk Bay for snorkeling. St John truly looked like something out of a Kenny Chesney Video and we would encourage anyone to make the trip.
Overall, we would recommend the Dream. We had a great time. The only negatives that we really have about the ship are that the buffet food could have been better and that the design of the ship was a little confusing. It took us longer than usual to get our sea legs and know our way around.