We had gone on two previous Carnival Cruises with our kids and liked them very much because of the number of youth activities that they had. Once the kids left the house we tried other cruise lines (NCL it was OK, and Princess loved it) to have a more relaxing experience. Our normal life has all the excitement we can handle so we don't need to be on sensory overload when we go on vacation. As we were going to be in Florida to take care of some family business and as we were curious about the spa cabins as well as the serenity (adults only) deck we decided to give Carnival another shot, and we are glad that we did.
While the main pool area with all the noises, wall to wall humanity and the Justin Bieber documentary on the big screen is what I view hell to be like if you get take advantage of the other areas on the ship you can have a relaxing experience. Outside of the main pool area you would never know you were on a ship with 4000 or so other folks. The folks that designed this ship (with one exception noted below) knew what they were doing.
We enjoyed the Spa cabin privileges every day we were on the cruise (special whirlpool, steam room, heated tile chairs, and a relaxation room. My wife also enjoyed the two yoga classes she took as part of our spa cabin privileges. We also found the Serenity deck to be quite relaxing. Instead of using the treadmill we also enjoyed several laps around the Lanai deck every day.
We thought the food, especially the soup, was wonderful. The service in the main dining room was excellent. We signed up for any time dining and because we were willing to share never had to wait. We had dinner alone on three nights and shared a table with some very nice folks the other three nights. We thought buying one of the 5 wine packages a good value. We also enjoyed the sushi and salad bar.
We signed up for the chefs table. It costs $75pp. They set up a table for 12 in the kitchen and served a gourmet meal with wine, they show you how to make a melting chocolate cake, and the head chef goes into some detail on each of the courses and the operation of the kitchen. You also get a picture of the entire group signed by the head chef.
We had breakfast in the buffet just about every day and enjoyed the omelets. We had 2 lunches in the MDR, both very nice. Had pizza for lunch one day, it was OK. Went to the pasta bar one day, it was great. Also tried the buffet and it was good enough. .
We saw all 4 of the comedians thought two of them were hilarious, one had his moments, and one was talentless and disgusting. I enjoyed playing craps in what must be one of the best casinos on a cruise ship. We thought the cruise director Butch was engaged but not to the point of being overbearing.
Our room was clean, it was quiet at night and the bed was comfortable. The shower was big enough. We had a problem with the shower first day and we were amazed that they had it fixed within 10 minutes of us calling in.
Getting on and off the ship was a easy as you could expect.
Our wait staff and room stewards could not have been nicer. Did come across any rude staff member all week.
We just did beaches when we were in each of the ports. We got a day pass for the British Colonel Hilton in Nassau. We paid $50 each for beach privileges and $30 in food/drink credits. We took it out in drink credits because the kitchen had lost power. It was a very nice facility and we enjoyed our time there but as we had to be back on the ship at 1:30. Given the length of time I'm not sure we would do this again. In Saint Thomas we took a cab to Sapphire Beach and we very much enjoyed our day there. In St. Maartin we took a cab to our Orient beach and enjoyed are day there. We did not get up enough nerve to walk over to the nude side of the beach sad to say.
We only had a couple of minor complaints. The regular coffee is horrible. We went to the extra charge coffee bar thinking they would make a good cup of coffee but all they do is poor hot water over a shot or two of espresso. It was not very good. Next time we will bring some Starbucks Via packets. I wish they had a cigar bar. There is nothing I like more then enjoying a nice cigar with a glass of scotch. Understanding that this is not a universal pleasure some ships have a ventilated cigar bar that is segregated from anyone that does not want to be exposed to cigar smoke. This seems like a good compromise. On the dream you are forced to smoke your cigar out on a deck in the heat and humidity which does not lead to a very pleasurable experience. Most of the lounges seemed under utilized so surely on a ship this big they could have carved out some space.
So to sum it all up all up we really enjoyed our week on The Dream and would do it again in a heartbeat. Well done Carnival.