I cruised on the Dream along with my wife and our two daughters age 10 and 13 along with another family. There were many great things about our trip and a few things that were less than perfect. We took the 7 day western trip and the ports were great. Here are a few suggestions for the ports. In Cozumel there is no reason to book a shore trip. Simply take a taxi to Paradise Beach club for the day. They have a great pool, great food, and lots of water activites including huge blow up water toys in the ocean. With our Taxi, fees at the club and lunch we only spent around $100 for all four of us. it was a great day. Mohogany Bay is great but get to the prvt beach early because the water gets cloudy once everyone gets there. Snorkel towards the wooden peir. do not take the ski lift to the beach. People were stuck on it for over an hour and it is expensive. Its only about a 5 min walk to the beach so no need anyway. Belize- do get a shore trip. Shopping is good but that is about it. Take a trip snorkeling or to a pvt island off shore. Costa maya- the little town at the pier is cool and the Dolphin swim is great. Also the Mayan trip is really good. Book your shore trips through orbitz as it is much cheaper than through carnival.
The ship is really great with tons of stuff to do in the evening. Shows were good and comedians were also very good. Food in the dining room was quite good and I thought the buffets were better than in the past. Lines were not too bad and we were on a sold out ship. The Circle C club for the 12-14 yr olds was great and my daughter spent every evening there. She loved it. Camp Carnival is really good for younger kids but not the kids who fall in that 10 and 11 yr old age group. they will not let that age kid into Circle C so my 10 yr old was a bit left out of the evening fun. Camp Carnival was way to babyish for her. Carnival really needs to do something for this age group. The water park is really good even though it was shut down much or our trip due to winds. My biggest complaint about the ship is the really small pools. the ship holds so many people that on the days at sea you almost cant get into the pools. It is really just people standing on top of each other in the pools trying to cool off. I have been on several cruises so I know that the decks and pools are crowded on days at sea but Id never seen anything like this before. All the hot tubs are a great idea but why Carnival puts hot water in them on hot days I dont understand. They didnt get used alot during the day because of that. Passengers on the ship claim their chairs early in the morning and keep them reserved though out the day. I tried to follow the rules on the first day at sea and was unable to get a chair any place near the pools the entire day so if you want a chair you will have to play the game. Carnival says that they police this but they really dont. My final complaint is the cost of beer on the ship. a single beer once they add on tax and tip is $7. I did later find out though that you could get a draft in the lobby area bar that was 20 oz for around $5 which is more reasonable. You can carry on your own water and soda if you want up to a 12pk a person so there is no need to buy these things from Carnival.
Getting on and off the ship was pretty easy. I would suggest not using the Carnival shuttles if your are coming from the airport. I got a car company to pick my family up for around $100 each way. Carnival wants $35 per person each way to ride their shuttle. With the exception of these few areas mentioned here, I would say that Carnival does an excellent job taking care of the number of people on the ship. The ship is plenty big for the large number of people other than the pool areas. We always got a seat at what ever we wanted to do in the evenings including shows, piano bar, and the casino. The staff could not be better. Our dining room staff was great and very friendly. Our cabin guy was great and always able to take care of anything we needed. We had connecting cabins on floor 6 which is just above the deck that has the casino and dance clubs. It was noisy at night with the sounds coming from the deck below but we were usually so tired that it wasnt a problem. In summary - it was a great trip and anytime you go on a week long trip such as this there are going to be a few things that are less than perfect no matter where you go or what cruise company you go with. My advise is dont let these little things get in your way and you will have a great trip on the Dream.