We live near Tampa so did not book a hotel. We had previously left out of Pt Canaveral on a different cruise line and had a good experience dropping off luggage and parking. This time however we arrived a bit early and it was rough. Every level of the parking garage except ground was closed to accommodate the leaving passengers. While I can understand that, it made a real mess for those of us that had gotten there early.
Getting on the ship was pretty quick and smooth. The ship was huge and very clean but you would expect that as it was still very new. We had a while to wait for the rooms to be ready so we went to the buffet and had a decent meal. This ship had a dedicated Burrito bar which was awesome. My son really enjoyed the sandwich bar as well.
We had an interior stateroom and it was small, just as we expected but nice enough. The fridge is not a traditional type with a compressor but a low power type that just cools whatever is in it and takes forever. There is a switch hidden inside to set it to "High" but that didn't make much difference. The bathroom in our room had some major drainage issues in both the sink and shower. The stateroom attendant was excellent.
The ship sailed VERY smooth and except for one night, we were almost unable to tell the difference from being in port and under way.
Dinning in the Lido was quite good and the selection of food every night was varied. The service as far as table clearing was awful. The staff would actually just stand at their stations and watch the plates pile up on tables and would only clear when the guests were completely done and left.
We only used the formal dinning room once but were very happy with the quality of the food and the service from the wait staff. The food took forever to come up from the kitchen however.
A huge bad point on the cruise overall was the cruise director Josh. He was abrasive and his immature frat-boy style humor was so puerile that even my 11 year old son called him "lame". He actually spent 15 minutes "Entertaining" guests in the main theater by having the sound guy raise his voice with a pitch shifter to sound like the chipmunks then lower it. I'm not kidding... 15 minutes at least. He also managed to give a pelvis thrust at an elderly lady in the front row and ask "You like that?". I'm am really not kidding! Also, they have a Pink Floyd laser light show on the pool deck one night. Well, right in the middle, Josh comes on the intercom and gives an update on the Spa packages and a ton of other advertising. Doing that, the sound system cuts the music off and you hear him. It would have been fine but he stayed on for 8 minutes. IT was pretty funny to hear all the expletives being yelled at him from the audience after about 5 min. Interestingly enough, the assistant cruise director was very good and what one would expect from a cruise director.
The dream has a break dance crew called "Fun Force" which was very entertaining. They also take place in some of the shows and add a lot to them with acrobatics. There was one variety show that I was actually impressed with and usually I view those as mildly entertaining if there is absolutely nothing else going on.
We had a big issue with the Carnival Kids area. The staff there was universally nasty to both kids and parents. We are rather strict in our parenting and our kids told us they made us look easy. The worst came when during a kids party, the kids were told that they had to paint their faces. If they did not, they would not be allowed to participate in any activities. One of my children initially refused but after pressure gave in and they wrote the word "Arghh" across his face! One of our daughter's friends hid her face whenever they would come by to escape the painting. Of course, our daughter also developed a small rash from whatever paint they used.
We called the director of the kids programs to voice our concerns and were met with indifference which probably explains allot. We brought it higher and had a meeting with the director, the security officer and the customer service officer. The customer service officer was great as reflected in the well run CS counter. She was very professional while still remaining empathic and actually allowed us to say what was on our minds without cutting us off. I don't know if any issues were actually addressed but it felt better to at least appear that we were being taken seriously.
The ports Cozumel, Belize and Isle Roatan were great. Costa Mya was pretty lame. We particularly loved that all 4 stops were back to back. That way, we had a nice day at sea on the way home to pack back up at leisure. The tender queuing process was a bit fumbled at Belize but they may have sorted that out by now.
One other interesting observation my wife and I had (and has nothing to do with Carnival directly) was that the passengers on the ship contained the highest number of rude and nasty people I have ever seen on a cruise ship. It was very odd. I had cruised Carnival many years before and not had that experience and we cruised again on another ship later and also didn't have that experience. IT was across the board from people jumping line at the buffet, pushing our kid out of their way on deck, standing right in front of our seat in the main theater to watch the show and constant late night yelling up and down the hallways.
This was our first 7 day cruise and despite a few major issues, it was probably the best we had to date due to the ports of call and the amenities on the ship. I would sail the Dream again but I might wait until they get another cruise director.