This was our 2nd cruise aboard the Carnival Dream. We boarded her out of Port Canaveral which is very convenient for us living here in Central Florida. Our first cruise was December, 2009, when Carnival had a one-time 9-day itinerary and this cruise was a 7-day with a few of the ports. The only complaint back in 2009 and in September, 2011, is that the ship's food court on the Lido Deck is not large enough to accommodate a ship with so many passengers. The staff can't (or don't) get the tables cleared fast enough to eliminate the confusion of passengers standing around waiting for tables.
We are Milestone Rewards Carnival cruises so we get VIP service. This was the first time we tried the "Your Time Dining" and it was wonderful. Our first night we gave the dining room hostess our stateroom number, requesting a 2T (table for two) and we were taken to a lovely little alcove where there were four tables for two - it overlooked the first floor of the formal dining room. Our servers were excellent. The food? Well, we have trouble ordering food we can't pronounce but we did find the 'comfort' food selection was very good for the nights we didn't want to order from the menu of the night.
We did not make it to Nassau as the hurricane was too close so the captain took us further south toward Cuba and we went on to St. Thomas.
In 2009 we stayed in a suite which was nice. This time we booked a regular balcony which was more than adequate. My husband is a smoker and never smokes
in the stateroom so the balcony is perfect for him. Most all the cruiselines are prohibiting smoking in staterooms without the passengers having to pay upwards of $250 cleaning fee. The cleaning fee in most cases would be cheaper than upgrading to a balcony but we do prefer the luxury of sitting outside as we cruise - particularly at night.
We would recommend this ship to families and it would be great for reunions, as well. I don't know that we will board her again any time soon even though the port is so convenient and, we have been on so many cruises, east/west doesn't matter...we are beginning to take longer cruises to far away places. We'll see how that pans out.