I have mixed feelings about this cruise. It was Spring Break and although I was worried about drunken college students, I should have actually been worried about large families. We cruised with over 4200 people, over 2500 past guests, and over 1300 children. We wanted a romantic, laid-back, second honeymoon sort of cruise. Instead we had half of a romantic cruise, and half of a "insert family theme park name here" type cruise. Not exactly what we expected, even after 9 months of cruise research.
Hotel -- We drove to Port Canaveral and stayed at the Country Inn & Suites. We booked the stay and cruise package. Shuttles to and from the port were efficient, and on time. The hotel is very nice, and most of the staff members are very helpful. It's also in a great location right next to the port, and it features secure parking right in front of the hotel.
Ship -- The Dream is very large, and it is hard to walk from one end to the other end without taking a minor (unnecessary) detour. The atrium was impressive, but small. The elevators, unlike what I've read in other reviews, were easy to access and ran on a fairly regular, and fast, schedule. The casino became very smoky, as did the Lanai, because they were some of the only places that people could smoke. As a non-smoker, I did not appreciate the smoke wafting out of these areas into the common areas. I had read that the ship rocked and rolled, and the reviewers were correct. The Dream boogies but not in a good way. There is more of a side to side rocking than a front to aft rocking. It was just as noticeable on the lower decks as it is on the higher decks.
Stateroom -- Our stateroom was the saving grace of this trip. We were near the main elevators, so you could hear sounds rising up from the atrium, but aside from roving bands of teenagers, and loud parents screaming at their kids, our room was fairly quiet. It's important to note that this room is also near a housekeeping closet, so this room is one of the first that is serviced. This meant that we had a 9 am wake-up for cleaning during our first day at sea. All things considered, our room steward was the best. He was friendly, and our room was impeccable. The balcony was amazing. It's diagonal to the large chess board on the port side. It was quiet, relaxing, and we spent most of our free time on the balcony.
Dining -- We had your time dining. Dining in the MDR on the first elegant night was a nightmare. At all other times it was fine. The buffets are crowded, and the lines would be bearable if it wasn't for the rude passengers. If you missed something, you had to go all the way back through the line. Definite design flaw. The steakhouse was very, very, good. Go on the first night for a free bottle of wine. The Chef's Table was not worth the charge for the new menu. The deli was disappointing, but the Indian food is not to be missed. Nor is the Lanai BBQ.
Service -- Service was above and beyond my expectations. We had the best crew. The only low point was the cruise director. He never really interacted with the guests.
Entertainment -- The shows were great. Dancing in the Streets is awesome, if only for the amazing dancing. The adult comedy shows are also not to be missed. The other entertainment was kind of cheesy, except for the NCAA basketball on in the seaside theater.
Disembarkation -- This was a mess. They called 4 zones at the same time, and they could not handle the throng of people. It took 1.5 hours to get off the ship.
Overall, we loved the serenity deck, the ports, the adult activities, the food, and the service. Unfortunately, we found that we spent most of our time trying to get away from the sheer number of people, and this was not relaxing. Take head -- the Dream very, very large, not very stable, and has inadequate pool and deck space to house the number of people on board.