My husband and I sailed the Dream for our wedding anniversary I want to start by saying we are laid back people who go on vacation to meet new people and have a good time we don't let the little things bother us.
First we arrived at MCO around 930am we have came through this airport a few times and never had to wait as long for our luggage as we did this time. It took an hour before the belt started. Now I know that has nothing to do with Carnival but to those of you who haven't flown in the day of before these are the little things that can cause you to miss the ship. We decided we will now always fly in the day before.
Transfer to the port- We didn't use Carnival this time for our transfer we used an outside company that was a lot cheaper and did a great job on getting us to the port promptly it took about 45 minutes but the driver did speed a little but not to the point that we felt unsafe. I would say allow 45 minutes to an hour for the commute
Embarkation was as it always is at Port Canaveral easy as could be and quick. Keep in mind if you arrive before 130 you will have to wait they now keep the fire doors shut until this time and there is staff patrolling the area to make sure you don't go "wondering" the halls. With that in mind it may be best to pack one small bag with the items you can't live with out for the family and have a porter take the rest. We had our checked luggage by 4pm I believe. The lido deck and buffets get crowded quickly while people are waiting for their room but if you aren't afraid to walk around this is a great time to explore the ship.
We decided to try a cove balcony this time and it was well worth it. Our last cruise we had a balcony on the upper deck mid ship and wanted to try something new. My husband felt the cove seemed bigger then the other rooms we have had before I think it was the lay out that made the difference. The life boats are right above you which is nice because it allows for shade when the sun is on your side of the ship.
The activities were nice and kept us busy when we wanted to be and we could relax when we felt like it. We sailed over the holiday weekend and it was nice that they acknowledge the holiday. The mardi gras party was fun but watch out for those flying beads they can hurt if you get hit.The comedy shows were fun but like others have said get their earlier or you wont find a seat. The lounge is also set up weird and not all seats allow for you to see the stage. The casino has a nice lay the tables were a little tight this time around but you can't always win :)
Disembarkation- We do the self assist option we were up ate breakfast in the MDR and we off the ship by 8am and to the airport by 9am. Needless to say everything was handled quickly and efficiently.