Let me start off by saying that Galveston is one of my favorite ports to sail out of because of it being close to home and its the one I am most comfortable with because I have used it more than any other. My family and I always try to come down to Galveston the night before and stay the night so that we will be relaxed from the long drive to Texas from NE Oklahoma. We have stayed in several hotels on and near the island. Our favorite is the Hilton located on the seawall. I know some think that the Hilton is too expensive on a family's budget but let me explain. The Hilton has free shuttle service to and from the ship (a twenty dollar value one way if you take a cab). The Hilton also offers free cruise ship passenger parking in a secure parking lot (to park your car at the pier in the lots their plan on paying 10 dollars per day so 7 days= $70). So staying in the very nice Hilton for $100 a night is a pretty good deal.
We arrived at the ship around 10:30am and walked right in, no lines, no hassle checked in and off we go through the picture takers and before we knew it we were stepping on board. This ship is very nice everything is new, clean and fresh. To often you find that most ships after a few years shows some wear here and there but not this one, its like brand new (because it is new). The layout of the these Dream class ships take a little getting used to.
we took an elevator up to the lido deck and grabbed some brunch and then kicked back and watched the people file in one by one all 4,000+ of them. My wife and I travel with our 8yr old daughter who was in amazement at the water park in front of the sports deck. It would not take her very long in the coming days to conquer the two water slides, ropes coarse and mini golf coarse which sprawls the entire 2 levels of sports deck. This ship is awesome!
we later went down to our room and unpacked and settled in waiting to set sail and then head to our muster station for the lifeboat drill. People still complain about it but hey you should had to do it in the days where you had to bring your life vest and put it on. By that evening we had eaten dinner in the southern lights dinning room and were out exploring and trying not to get lost. I usually have the layout in a day or so but on this ship it took a couple of days before I was real familiar.
The food on board was what I expected for the most part it was all good. The Lido area quickly became my favorite spot to grab a bite to eat. Usually if you missed dinner you could go up to Lido around the dinner times and find almost all that was served at dinner in the dining room. My favorite food is usually the hot deli sandwiches or the prime rib. We did call in room service a couple of times as well, the 8yr old never seems to eat when everyone else does. The room service menu has proven to always be good. Another location on the ship that I really enjoyed was the red frog pub, its atmosphere, its food, its drinks and the staff far surpassed my expectations for an island pub.
Another thing that was new was the Dream Photos on board and this is not the average photographer chasing you around wanting to take your picture. This is where and actual photographer goes with you when you stop at a port. They go with you to the beach or where ever and do a photo shoot on location. Get this, its free. They do not charge for this service you just sign up and they go with you for an hour then they leave and meet someone else. I will warn you that once you get back on board they will meet with you usually the following day with the best pictures you have ever seen. You can buy hem per 8x10 for $29 which is not bad or have them made into canvas which is a pretty good deal to but, they also have a coffee table book that is absolutely awesome! You will want it but, it is way expensive, the package deal is over $1000. We purchased a few 8x10's and canvas which was the best deal for us. All in all its our best souvenir of the trip.
One thing that I did notice on board this ship after talking to the crew was that it seems that Carnival has an "A" team that goes from new ship to new ship. The entertainment staff, the dinning room staff, most supervisory staff, cruise director and photographers. They move from one new ship to the next. Most all of them are scheduled to go to the Breeze as it enters into service. I guess this smart on Carnivals side by always putting your best foot forward.
Debarking was a breeze, we were off the ship by 8:30am and on the Hilton shuttle and whisked away to our car awaiting us just a few blocks away.
This is truly a great ship, you can spend so much time going over the minute details of every little thing. Theses have been just highlights. Its a great ship and a great cruise. I recommend it 100%.