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This was our 4th cruise and our kids' first ever cruise. We had a wonderful time, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. The Carnival Dream is a really nice ship. We were very impressed with its bright colors and cleanliness, as workers were always tidying up everything. Plenty of activities, and our kids really enjoyed the water slides which were much faster than we expected! There were two pools which were busy at times, but decent. (I think there used to be 3 pools on this ship a while back, so that would have been nice in easing the number of people in the pools.) There is a kids' club with programs for children of all ages (arts & crafts, video games, etc) but our kids opted not to participate in that. They just enjoyed swimming and preferred to being in the sun most of the time with us. In addition to the land excursions, we also did the 'Behind the Fun' ship tour, which was a guided tour through the engine control room, massive kitchen areas, show stage and dressing room, recyclables processing area, and the bridge (which was the most fascinating part getting to talk to the captain and seeing all the navigation computers/controls.) This tour costs $95 a pop, but I highly recommend it if you want to splurge, as it is 3 hours long and worth the investment. Note: Cameras and phones are not allowed on this 'Behind the Fun' for security reasons, which is understandable, but unfortunate. (There is a security guard who accompanies the tour and monitors any use of recording devices.) We went to a couple of the nightly shows (80's music and movie themes) which were quite entertaining, and much better than we expected. A small cast of 8 people, but amazing special effects, lasers, fog, and pyro accompanied all the great singing, music and dancing. Excursions... I highly recommend using Carnival's excursions (versus using independent excursion companies.) I made the mistake of using Shore Excursions Ltd, and it was very difficult reaching their customer service remotely from the ship, and we had to walk a long distance in the hot sun on one particular excursion in Cozumel to reach our transportation. Carnival has a very helpful excursion desk on the ship and reachable by phone if you need to make changes or ask questions. Carnival workers are right there when you get off the ship to guide you to your transportation. All the excursions we did were primarily beach-related, which is what we enjoy. Grand Cayman and Cozumel always have the clearest waters for snorkeling. The embarkation was super smooth. We had a suite, which gave us priority status in getting on the ship quicker ahead of the crowds, and our luggage arrived quicker. I recommend getting the fast access embarkation if you can, and make your boarding time as early as possible to avoid larger crowds and start enjoying the ship a little sooner. There were lots of activities always going on, so there is never a dull moment. Funny contests, Bingo, you name it. Ship has a full-size basketball court, and miniature golf, which was fun. There is an adults-only area at the front of the ship which has big comfy chairs with awnings and is very quiet. It has a large jacuzzi too. Just wish this area had a pool (which I think it originally did at one time). Cons with Carnival: This was our first cruise with Carnival. I knew that it probably wouldn't compare in quality to our experiences on Royal Caribbean or Princess, but the itinerary included Grand Cayman which we really like, the New Orleans port was easier for us to reach by car, and comparatively this cruise was a little cheaper in cost from others.. Our kids had never been on a cruise, so they absolutely loved this cruise (not having been on different ships before.) The food was good both in the dining room and on the buffet in the Lido deck. There is also a delicious hamburger stand, pizza stand, and a Mexican food stand at no extra charge. The waiter service at dinner time in the dining room was so-so, as the food sometimes took a while to arrive. The food was good, but not out of this world. We did not try the steak restaurant or the Italian restaurant (extra fee), but I hear the food is quite delicious in those places. My main complaint is that Carnival allows smoking on their ships, which I knew when I booked the cruise. Though smoking is only allowed on certain areas of the ship, there are times when you are walking around the ship that you smell it. The casino smells the worst, which is unfortunate. None of us tolerate the smell of cigarette smoke well, so we just avoided those areas in general. Our suite was mid-ship on deck 7, and we never smelled smoke there, thankfully. My hope is that Carnival will completely ban smoking in the near future. A minor concern... Many of the blue lounge chairs near the pools have some black residue on them which gets on your clothes, so always lay on a towel and not directly on the chairs. Overall we had a great time, and highly recommend the Carnival Dream if you are looking for an enjoyable cruise ship with a lot of nice amenities and a friendly staff!

Carnival Dream - July 2017 Western Caribbean

Carnival Dream Cruise Review by 4-time cruiser

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 4th cruise and our kids' first ever cruise. We had a wonderful time, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. The Carnival Dream is a really nice ship. We were very impressed with its bright colors and cleanliness, as workers were always tidying up everything. Plenty of activities, and our kids really enjoyed the water slides which were much faster than we expected! There were two pools which were busy at times, but decent. (I think there used to be 3 pools on this ship a while back, so that would have been nice in easing the number of people in the pools.) There is a kids' club with programs for children of all ages (arts & crafts, video games, etc) but our kids opted not to participate in that. They just enjoyed swimming and preferred to being in the sun most of the time with us.

In addition to the land excursions, we also did the 'Behind the Fun' ship tour, which was a guided tour through the engine control room, massive kitchen areas, show stage and dressing room, recyclables processing area, and the bridge (which was the most fascinating part getting to talk to the captain and seeing all the navigation computers/controls.) This tour costs $95 a pop, but I highly recommend it if you want to splurge, as it is 3 hours long and worth the investment. Note: Cameras and phones are not allowed on this 'Behind the Fun' for security reasons, which is understandable, but unfortunate. (There is a security guard who accompanies the tour and monitors any use of recording devices.)

We went to a couple of the nightly shows (80's music and movie themes) which were quite entertaining, and much better than we expected. A small cast of 8 people, but amazing special effects, lasers, fog, and pyro accompanied all the great singing, music and dancing.

Excursions... I highly recommend using Carnival's excursions (versus using independent excursion companies.) I made the mistake of using Shore Excursions Ltd, and it was very difficult reaching their customer service remotely from the ship, and we had to walk a long distance in the hot sun on one particular excursion in Cozumel to reach our transportation. Carnival has a very helpful excursion desk on the ship and reachable by phone if you need to make changes or ask questions. Carnival workers are right there when you get off the ship to guide you to your transportation. All the excursions we did were primarily beach-related, which is what we enjoy. Grand Cayman and Cozumel always have the clearest waters for snorkeling.

The embarkation was super smooth. We had a suite, which gave us priority status in getting on the ship quicker ahead of the crowds, and our luggage arrived quicker. I recommend getting the fast access embarkation if you can, and make your boarding time as early as possible to avoid larger crowds and start enjoying the ship a little sooner.

There were lots of activities always going on, so there is never a dull moment. Funny contests, Bingo, you name it. Ship has a full-size basketball court, and miniature golf, which was fun. There is an adults-only area at the front of the ship which has big comfy chairs with awnings and is very quiet. It has a large jacuzzi too. Just wish this area had a pool (which I think it originally did at one time).

Cons with Carnival:

This was our first cruise with Carnival. I knew that it probably wouldn't compare in quality to our experiences on Royal Caribbean or Princess, but the itinerary included Grand Cayman which we really like, the New Orleans port was easier for us to reach by car, and comparatively this cruise was a little cheaper in cost from others.. Our kids had never been on a cruise, so they absolutely loved this cruise (not having been on different ships before.) The food was good both in the dining room and on the buffet in the Lido deck. There is also a delicious hamburger stand, pizza stand, and a Mexican food stand at no extra charge. The waiter service at dinner time in the dining room was so-so, as the food sometimes took a while to arrive. The food was good, but not out of this world. We did not try the steak restaurant or the Italian restaurant (extra fee), but I hear the food is quite delicious in those places.

My main complaint is that Carnival allows smoking on their ships, which I knew when I booked the cruise. Though smoking is only allowed on certain areas of the ship, there are times when you are walking around the ship that you smell it. The casino smells the worst, which is unfortunate. None of us tolerate the smell of cigarette smoke well, so we just avoided those areas in general. Our suite was mid-ship on deck 7, and we never smelled smoke there, thankfully. My hope is that Carnival will completely ban smoking in the near future.

A minor concern... Many of the blue lounge chairs near the pools have some black residue on them which gets on your clothes, so always lay on a towel and not directly on the chairs.

Overall we had a great time, and highly recommend the Carnival Dream if you are looking for an enjoyable cruise ship with a lot of nice amenities and a friendly staff!
4-time cruiser’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Ocean Suite
Cabin OS
Because we had 4 in our cabin, we splurged on an Ocean Suite so that we had more cabin space for comfort. We were mid-ship on the 7th deck, and our balcony was right above a jacuzzi outside. However we never experienced noise or shouting. Our cabin was very quiet. In the bathroom. there are 2 sinks with a suite instead of one, and the decor is so much nicer too. The faucet water is treated ocean water, so it does not taste very good. So we always used bottled water when we brushed our teeth. There is also a full bathtub with water-jets. LOTS of closet and storage spaces in the suite. The suite balcony is larger than a standard balcony cabin. We had a king-sized bed (2 beds pushed together) and a couch that folds out into a double bed for the kids. Our bed was firm, but rather comfortable. However, there are not enough AC outlets, and none near the bed surprisingly, so bring extension cords with you, which we did. Our cabin steward was very friendly, and always knew our names. She gave us great service! Each day she would leave us some cookies in our cabin, and would leave a towel animal on the bed..the kids enjoyed that. Our cabin was always very clean. If you have 3-4 people in your cabin, I do recommend a suite if you can splurge a bit!
Empress Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Beach
    Book your excursion through Carnival only, as we had to walk a good distance in the hot sun to our transportation since we used an independent excursion company. But the beach resort we went to was awesome! Clearest water of all 3 destinations. Area had a water park and inflatable slides in the ocean. Snorkeled and saw lots of cool fish. Rather good Mexican buffet and good adult beverages!
    View All 610 Beach Reviews
  • Beach
    Nice place on Seven-Mile beach. The water wasn't as clear as we expected at this particular location, but very pleasant. We snorkeled far from the beach, which had clearer deeper water and saw many fish and even a stingray.
    View All 188 Beach Reviews
  • Hell
    Neat place where you can send a postcard from Hell!
    View All 103 Hell Reviews
  • Island Tour
    Very informative tour of Grand Cayman Island and its history.
    View All 190 Island Tour Reviews
  • Beach
    Took a while for our bus to first arrive. The city tour and resort beach stay were great!
    View All 43 Beach Reviews