Carnival Cruise Lines announced today that its new 130,000-ton, 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream -- the line's biggest ship ever -- will home port at Florida's Port Canaveral, just outside of Orlando.

The ship, currently under construction at Fincantieri's shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, will debut on September 21 (that's 2009) and will offer a handful of Europe sailings before crossing the Atlantic. Once Stateside, it will offer a few cruises out of New York before heading "home" to Port Canaveral. Carnival Dream's first homeport cruise will depart on December 5.

The ship is an innovative twist on Carnival's tried-and-true ship designs. Features include:

The Piazza, an indoor/outdoor cafe and live music venue that has been inspired -- but is not identical -- by Princess' popular piazzas on its newest models.

Already recognized as an exceptional choice for families, Carnival ups the ante on Carnival Dream, with the fleet's largest-ever kids' facilities and a WaterWorks aqua park.

Among stateroom options Carnival is introducing some new family-oriented cabins, including several with two bathrooms, and others specially designed to accommodate five guests.

A wide variety of lounges, bars and nightspots -- including a new dance club concept offering indoor/outdoor access -- will be accessible via an 11-deck-high atrium whose ground level will offer a cantilevered bandstand atop a massive dance floor.

Once ensconced at Port Canaveral, Carnival Dream will sail seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises. On the former, ports will include Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya and Nassau. On the latter, the itinerary consists of stops at Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

The older and, er, somewhat smaller Carnival Glory, which is currently based in Port Canaveral, will be redeployed to Miami. It'll offer seven night Caribbean cruises from October 3, 2009.

Carnival Dream goes on sale July 1, 2008.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief