Carnival Dream's main show lounge is Encore, a three-deck high theater (decks 3, 4 and 5, forward) used for a variety of nightly entertainment including song-and-dance revues, variety acts and audience-participation "gameshows" like the gender showdown, game show mania and love and marriage show. You'll also find bingo in Encore, both day and night, as well as the final sea day showing of Carnival Legends, which brings together the ship's professional dancers and special effects with audience members who have competed in nightly karaoke sessions for a spot in the final show. Early in the cruise, Encore is also the site of the cruise director's Fun Ashore & Fun Aboard port, shopping and ship talk.
On nights when a song-and-dance or variety act show is offered, two shows will be performed -- an early show for those who like to eat late and a later show for passengers who dine early. All other nights, offerings in the theater change throughout the night, so you've only got one chance to catch each show.
Carnival Dream is chockablock with stuff to do during the day, even on port days. You'll find equal amounts of fun outside on the Lido Deck, near the main swimming pool, as well as inside (usually centered on the Deck 3 atrium or Deck 5 Ocean Plaza).
Outside is where you'll find the line's infamous Hairy Chest contest (leave your self-respect at the door, even if you're just watching), pool games, as well as the once per cruise Red vs. Blue mixologist competition, and lots of signature Carnival line dances.
A typical sea day starts off with the cruise director's morning show (go for fun and prizes!), bingo (for an extra fee), several trivia sessions and art, and retail and spa seminars (all of which are aimed at selling you something, rather than educating you about anything). In the afternoon, look for yet more trivia and bingo, cooking or towel animal demos, charades, dance classes, pool and sport deck games and more art, retail and spa seminars. A port day will have a little less action, but you'll still find trivia and spa seminars on your daily Fun Times schedule.
Evenings and nighttime are as busy on Carnival Dream as the daytime. One of the most popular evening and late-night options is the Punchline Comedy Club (Burgundy Lounge, Deck 5, aft), where you'll find two comedians alternating routines most nights, including one or two family-friendly shows and three or more 18+ shows. Adult shows are typically standing room only; get there at least 10 minutes early if you want a good seat. A one-week sailing will usually play host to four comedians, two in the first half, and a second pair who come on halfway through the cruise. Passengers who are easily offended should not attend the adult shows at Punchliner.
Another popular nightspot is the Jackpot Casino (Deck 5, midship). You'll find a multitude of chirping slot and electronic poker machines, as well as blackjack, craps, roulette, Texas Hold'em and Let it Ride poker tables. Poker tournaments are held most nights. The casino bar features a small stage for nightly live music. Smoking is permitted in the casino. Play at a table long enough, and the pit boss will usually offer you free drinks.
Other popular spots at night are the atrium and Ocean Plaza, where you'll find live music; Sam's Piano Bar for sessions of sing-along piano tunes; and The Song karaoke lounge.
One day-to-night spot that is popular with families is the Lido Deck, which transforms into Carnival's Seaside Theater around 7:30 p.m. (A more adult movie is sometimes shown at 10 p.m.) Films change nightly and are themed around action and adventure, drama, blockbuster and comedy. The Lido Deck is also the spot for themed late-night dance parties, including the Mega Dance party and '80s Rock-n-Glow.
The Caliente nightclub (Deck 5, aft) doesn't open until 10 or 11 p.m. (varies by night) and usually doesn't get grooving until after midnight, unless there's a theme like the '80s or country.
Carnival Dream Bars and Lounges
With nearly 10 bars and lounges onboard, you'll find plenty of spots to grab a drink on Carnival Dream, though the emphasis throughout is on tequila- and rum-based cocktails. Wine and draft and bottled beer (including an IPA) are also available.
Most of the ship's lounges are located on Deck 5, making it easy to move among them.
Dream Bar (Deck 3, forward): Carnival Dream's atrium bar, the Dream Bar is the spot to gather before or after dinner, as well as a place to sit and listen to live music during the day and in the evening.
Casino Bar (Deck 5, midship): Located at the aft end of the casino, the casino bar is a place to grab a drink in between slot pulls and hands of poker and blackjack. The bar also has a bank of TVs playing sports channels not available in the cabins, so it's the only place to go to watch a game in the afternoon or evening. It's also one of the spots on Carnival Dream to catch live music, typically starting around 5 p.m. and going until midnight. There's more seating than you usually find in a cruise ship casino bar, so you don't have to worry about where to sit if you're there to listen to the music. The casino bar is also the only bar onboard where you can smoke.
Burgundy Lounge (Deck 5, aft): At first a bit perplexing, Burgundy's eccentric court jester decor makes sense when you remember the lounge is primarily used as the home of Carnival's Punchliner Comedy Club. (You'll find the occasional retail seminar in Burgundy on a sea day.) The drink menu at Burgundy, only available here, also reflects the lounge's use offering drinks with "funny" names like the zany zombie, screw looZe, sex on the stage and the witty margarita. Punchliner is popular, especially the late-night adults-only shows; you must arrive 10 to 15 minutes before showtime to get a good seat. Burgundy is also where you'll find the once-per-cruise session of the very adults-only Quest scavenger hunt.
The Song (Deck 5, aft): Tucked into a corner next to the Burgundy Lounge, The Song is the place to be in the evening for karaoke. Younger singers are welcome to join the fun during an earlier evening PG-rated session. It's lively and fun, but surprisingly competitive, especially in the early days of the cruise. That's because singers are competing to be part of the Carnival Legends stage show, in which select passengers get teamed up with Dream's professional dancers to perform in a full-stage production (with lighting and set).
Sam's (Deck 5, aft): Carnival Dream's sing-along piano bar, Sam's is hopping most nights, though we didn't hear as much singing along as we have at other cruise ship piano bars. We're not sure if it was the passengers onboard or the player/singer, who we thought was just average. We love the piano key-inspired bar surrounding the piano player at which listeners can sit and pass over requests. It fills up pretty fast, but there's plenty of seating in the rest of the bar. If you love to belt out the best songs by Elton John, Billy Joel and Neil Diamond, Sam's is the place for you.
Plaza Bar (Deck 5, midship): A small bar with limited bar-side only seating, the Plaza Bar is mostly a place to grab a drink if you're hanging out in Ocean Plaza participating in the afternoon games or listening to the evening band.
BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10, midship): Part of the Lido Deck landscape on most Carnival cruise ships, BlueIguana specializes in everything tequila, offering 10 varieties, as well as tequila-based cocktails and frozen drinks. You also can get buckets of beer or pitchers of hard lemonade or margaritas there (as well as at RedFrog).
Red Frog Rum Bar (Deck 10, midship): Located across the pool from the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the RedFrog Rum Bar serves up a selection of rum-based cocktails and frozen drinks (coladas, daiquiris, mojitos).
Sunset Bar (Deck 10, aft): A poolside bar set next to the Sunset Pool; offers a variety of standard cocktails, beer and wine.
Serenity Bar (Deck 12, forward): This tiny bar counter is solely for the use of passengers relaxing in the adults-only Serenity and has a limited selection of drinks.
Carnival Dream Outside Recreation
Carnival Dream has two pools and 10 hot tubs. Waves, the main pool located on Deck 10, is one of the main centers of social activity on Dream. On a sunny sea day, the pool is crowded with adults sipping drinks and kids splashing around. Throughout the day, the ship's entertainment crew hosts a variety of poolside games, contests and Carnival's signature line dances. There's not a lot of open deck space but that doesn't stop anyone from dancing. Live and DJed music fills the air during the day, as do showings of concerts on the 270-square-foot movie screen suspended above the pool. (We're not sure how many different concerts they show; we saw the same Bee Gees concert twice.) At night, the space transforms into the ship's outdoor Seaside Theater with two to three movies shown each afternoon/evening on the big screen.
A second pool, the nominally adults-only Sunset Pool, is located on Deck 10 at the back of the ship. It's a smaller pool and you won't find live music or games played here so it's a quieter place to lounge in the sun. The pool remains pretty crowded, however, so don't expect to be able to swim laps.
Hot tubs are spread around the ship. You'll find two near the Sunset Pool, two in the adults-only Serenity area, four on the outdoor Lanai Deck (Deck 5, two portside, two starboard side) and two on Deck 11, midship.
The Waves pool is generally open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., while the Sunset pool is open from 7 a.m. to midnight. Children must be potty-trained to use any pool. Sunset pool and Serenity hot tubs are open from 8 a.m. to midnight, while the Lanai Deck hot tubs are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Deck 11 hot tubs are open from 9 a.m. to midnight.
For cruisers looking for more active outdoor activities, there are a few options on Carnival Dream, including a half-court basketball and volleyball court on Deck 14 (aft) and a large 18-hole mini-golf course on Deck 12. Runners and walkers will appreciate the jogging track, which is a bit larger than many others you'll find on a ship; seven times around is 1 mile. Ping-Pong is also available on Deck 11, forward, just above RedFrog Rum Bar.
The wettest fun to be had outdoors is at the Waterworks water park. Here you'll find the 303-foot-long Twister waterslide, the 104-foot Drainpipe, which empties into a giant funnel, two smaller racing slides and a host of splash features for smaller kids. (As with the pool, kids must be toilet-trained to play in WaterWorks.) On hot sea days, the line for the Twister is long, though it moves relatively quickly. The Drainpipe was closed for our entire sailing, but we were told it was due to high winds. (We never noticed winds of any kind.)
There are virtually no outdoor areas on Carnival Dream that aren't also used as sun deck space. You'll find blue lounge chairs on decks 10, 11 and 12, near both pools and along the port (left) and starboard (right) sides of the ship. You'll also find loungers on the Deck 5 Lanai Deck, all the way forward.
The adults-only Serenity retreat offers lots of sun deck space on decks 14 and 15, forward. Here you'll find blue loungers, wicker clam shells, armchairs and beds, plus hammocks sized for two. The Serenity space is always open, but you'll only find crew there from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Carnival Dream Services
Carnival Dream's seven-deck tall atrium is where you'll find both the guest services and shore excursion desks (both on Deck 3). A bank of glass elevators gives passengers a thrill as they look down on the action below. Surrounding the atrium, you'll find Pixels photo gallery (Deck 4) and the popular candy store Cherry on Top (Deck 5). Also on Deck 5 are the shops, which sell duty-free liquor, watches, jewelry, perfume, cigarettes, resort wear and Carnival-branded souvenirs. Look for limited-time sales on sea days or port nights, after the ship has departed port.
After passing through Pixels on Deck 4, you'll find the Page Turner library, a tiny space with a sad collection of books and board games for use within the library. There's also an even sadder take-one, leave-one shelf for people to pick up or leave behind a paperback book. It is a nice spot, however, to read or play a quiet game of cards. There's one computer, as well. (For your daily crossword or Sudoku puzzles, you'll need to go to Plaza Cafe on Deck 5.)
Carnival Dream has two FunHub internet centers (decks 4 and 5, midship), where cruisers can find several computers for checking email, updating their social media pages or looking things up on the internet. Carnival offers cruisers three internet plans, all of which can be purchased for a single day or for the length of the cruise. The Social plan ($5/day, $25/cruise) lets you access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, What'sApp and the websites of most airlines. The Value plan ($16/day, $60/cruise), includes all the social sites and adds access to most email, news, sports, weather and banking sites. The Premium plan ($25/day, $99/week) includes all of the above, plus adds access to Skype and speeds up the connection by up to three times faster than the Social and Value plans. Streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, are not supported. You can use your plan on any device (phone, tablet, laptop) but can only use one device at a time, unless you buy more than one plan.
Two meeting rooms, collectively known as the Chambers can be found on Deck 4, and the Future Cruise Sales Desk can be found on Deck 5, aft. The art gallery is also located aft on Deck 5, next to the Caliente nightclub.
A medical center is located on Deck 0.
DIY launderettes can be found on Deck 2 across from cabin 2375, Deck 7 across from cabin 7347 and Deck 10 across from cabin 10262. Ironing rooms are located on Deck 1 across from cabin 1411, Deck 6 across from cabin 6382, Deck 8 across from cabin 8395 and Deck 9 across from cabin 9403. A load of wash or dry is $3, and detergent can be purchased for $1.50. You'll need quarters.
Smoking (including e-cigarettes) is permitted outside on Deck 5, port side, and on Deck 11, starboard side, and inside in the Caliente Nightclub, at the Jackpot Casino bar and port side inside the casino.