Our first cruise back in 2002 was the real dream. 4 night cruise with Carnival to the Bahamas that left me wanting to go on another cruise right away. The staff on that ship were literally falling over themselves trying to please us and make sure that we had as good a time as possible.
Skip to our October 2011 7 night cruise to the western Caribbean aboard the Carnival Dream. Boarding was simple, it took us all of about 10 minutes after we got through the terminal. The crew on this ship seemed to be put out by the fact that we were on "their" ship. The only truly friendly crew member was our room steward who always seemed to be there if needed.
Our room was always clean but all of the cleaning carts were left in the hallways continuously and where in the way when two people were walking down the hall. The smells coming from this "new" ship are an assault to the nose. It smelled like skunks were living in the hallways. Trays of food from room service were left out in the hallways for hours (sometimes all day).
We had open dining so never had the same waiter but the waiters we did have couldn't even remember our names for one meal. The food was bland, undercooked, and cool by the time we received it. During dinner crew members were interrupting trying to sell shots in souvenir glasses. ($8.97 each plus 15% tip).
The gathering (buffet) served the same food everyday and quite often ran out of certain foods without being replaced. Most of the time only one side was open. Adults and kids alike were getting food and eating dressed in nothing more then bathing suits (some still dripping). No shoes, no shirts and yet the crew never said a word to them. The Pasta Restaurant was OK but was only open for lunch and there was a 20-45 minute wait for your food.
The layout of this ship was thoughtless as far as accommodating the masses instead of the few. Having to walk through a smokey Two very small pools for a ship that holds 3200 passengers just wasn't using good judgement.
On board activities are really lacking unless you just want to gamble and/or drink.
Anyway, enough of my ranting, I could go on but I think you get my point. Oh yeah,,,if you have an on board credit, make sure you register it on the FIRST day, if you don't then Carnival WILL NOT honor it.