We travelled on February 17-25th on the Carnival Dream with my two kids, ages 6 and 3 and my in-laws. All in all we had a fabulous time. I will go through the many things I loved and the few suggestions I have to make things better.
Things I loved:
The cove balcony was fabulous! We were so close to the water and it was so peaceful out there at night listening to the sounds from the ocean. It was extra private compared to the other balconies on the ship. We went in the deck five hot tub one night and noticed a balcony room located right above it. We were sitting there looking right up at the people sitting out on it. That confirmed that I made the right decision to book the cove balcony. In fact, I would almost cruise the Dream again JUST to stay in that cabin. PERFECTION!
The Camp Carnival far exceeded my expectations. The first night my daughter (age 6) refused to register. We took her there and signed her up, let her stay for a while and she was hooked. My two kids were in separate programs because of their ages. At first, I thought that would be a problem for them, but it wasn't. In fact, it was better this way since the programming they did really was geared toward each age group. The staff was friendly and they had so much for the kids to do. My kids would leave there with their faces painted, several different craft projects and a ton of stories about all the cool stuff they did. They have kids dinner every night where you drop them off at the pasta bar and they have dinner together with their friends. It's a kid friendly menu including pizza, chicken fingers, turkey sandwiches, etc. I had to beg my daughter to eat dinner with us for ONE night. They even got visit from Funship Freddy. To them, that was super cool!
The ship staff was wonderful. They were always smiling, saying hello and asking if everything was ok. Those people are so hard working and well deserving of the tipping that so many complain about. You couldn't go anywhere without seeing people cleaning the ship. Great service all around!
The food was good. Surprisingly I enjoyed the different food stations on deck over the dining room food. The Tandor Grill was awesome and strangely enough, it was never crowded?? I can't understand why that was, but it worked for me! The mongolian bar was also delicious, but you have to go at an off time and not during the busy lunch rush. After I got hooked the first time, I tried to go back for lunch on day at sea and there was a large line of people waiting. Not too much of a problem, I just went back to Tandor. The Pasta Bar was great. We went there on our first day. There was hardly anyone in there! A good choice to get away from the lido deck crowd on day one.
Piano Bar Dave was so much fun! We ended up there every night due to the lack of any musical entertainment anywhere else on the ship. This was not so much bad thing as he was great. Everyone got into the singing and musical instruments and it always turned into a great party.
My suggestions to make this ship MUCH better....
The music entertainment was terrible (except for piano bar Dave). It was almost comical how cheesy the lounge music was. There was a DJ the Lido Deck pool. That's fun, but it was so loud you could barely talk to the person next to you. I'm not old (39 to be exact), but that was a bit much for me. I preferred sitting at the pool in the back of the ship. There they had piped in music that was a few hairs shy of elevator muzac. It was terrible! I would have liked something in the middle. A little more modern, or a little more carribean. Maybe some steel drum band music, or Jimmy Buffet would have been nice. It was enough to really make you notice just how bad the music entertainment was.
The hot tubs...OK, here's my big gripe. We went in the hot tub on deck five the first night and it was cold. Not good. The next night we looked for another one to go in and noticed all were closed except for two in the back of the ship. For a ship that big with that many people, they need to have more hot tubs open at night. A thought might be to leave one of the adult only hot tubs open for just the adults, since I got annoyed watching those with no kids roll their eyes when I brought my kids in at night. I get it, I wouldn't want to sit in the hot tub with bunch of kids if I were on a cruise without kids, but there were only two hot tubs to choose from. This could be easily rectified if they would keep one of the adult only hot open.
We didn't have any issues with the elevators except for day one when everyone was getting on. Sure, you had to wait a few minutes, but no big deal. There were crowds, but it wasn't an issue for us since we usually like to chill out and do our own thing. There were plenty of places and opportunities to do that.
All in all, it was a vacation I will never forget. We would go back in a heartbeat. The Dream was nice, but as so many have said, big isn't always better. We liked sailing on the Legend more than the Dream. The layout was better and there weren't as many people. But really, how can you go wrong with any of the ships? Carnival does a great job of making sure everyone has a vacation to remember.