By Gina Kramer
Cruise Critic Editor
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Carnival Dream Entertainment & Activities

Theater

Encore, a three-deck high theater (Decks 3, 4 and 5, forward), is the ship's main show lounge. It's used for a variety of nightly entertainment, including song-and-dance revues, variety acts and audience-participation "game shows" like the gender showdown, game show mania and the popular 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.

Daily Fun

Carnival Dream is jam-packed 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 dignity at the door, even if you're just watching), pool games, as well as the once per cruise Red versus 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.

At Night

Evenings and nighttime are as busy on Carnival Dream as the daytime. One of the most popular evening and late-night options is the Punchliner 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). 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, Ocean Plaza, (entertainment hub on Deck 5 for 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. Fresh popcorn from a machine is served during movies. 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) 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, 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.

Alchemy Bar (Deck 5): Tucked away in a corner of Ocean Plaza -- yet still hard to miss -- this fleetwide favorite is the perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks, while enjoying some live music. The fun, apothecary-themed bar only serves up handcrafted cocktails with unique ingredients (the Cucumber Sunrise is a must-try); zero-proof elixirs also are available. Hint: Bartenders allow you to customize drinks by replacing liqueurs or adding new ingredients. The Alchemy Bar is open from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Dream Bar (Deck 3): 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): 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. It's the only bar on the ship where you can smoke. Carnival Dream also dubs this its sports bar (it features multiple TVs), although it's a major inconvenience to nonsmokers who want to watch NFL, MLB or other sports games.

Burgundy Lounge (Deck 5): 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 show time 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): 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): 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. The performances were so-so; what we love most about this space is the piano key-inspired bar surrounding the pianist, 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.

BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10): 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): 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): A poolside bar set next to the Sunset Pool; offers a variety of standard cocktails, beer and wine.

Serenity Bar (Deck 12): 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

Pools

Carnival Dream has two pools and 10 hot tubs. Waves, the main pool located on Deck 10, is one of the biggest social hot spots 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 DJ-led music fills the air during the day, as do showings of concerts on a large movie screen suspended above the pool. At night, the space transforms into the ship's outdoor Seaside Theater, with two to three movies (usually new releases) 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. On the flip side, it's more intimate feel tends to draw a large crowd, so don't expect to feel worlds away.

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 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.

Recreation

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 on Deck 12, which is a bit larger than many others you'd find on a ship; seven times around is 1 mile. The Lanai Deck (Deck 5) also has a walkway (jogging is not permitted); 2.5 laps equal 1 mile. Ping-Pong is available on Deck 11, forward, just above RedFrog Rum Bar.

For those who need to cool off, the WaterWorks water park is the place to be. Here, you'll find the 303-foot-long Twister water slide; 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.

Sun Decks

Sunbathers, rejoice. 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.

There also are a handful of loungers on the Lanai Deck (Deck 5), port side, forward and midship. The loungers on this deck were sparsely used on our sailing, even on sea days. We found this to be a great little spot to escape the pool crowds.

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 small collection of books and board games for use within the library. Still, it's a nice spot 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), where cruisers can find several computers for checking email and surfing the internet (including accessing their social media accounts).

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) lets you access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp and most airlines' websites. The Value plan ($12/day), includes all the social sites and adds access to most email, news, sports, weather and banking sites. The Premium plan ($17.70/day) 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 in a designated area on Deck 5 (port side); on Deck 11 (starboard, midship and aft); inside in the Caliente Nightclub; and at the Jackpot Casino bar and floor (port side).

Carnival Dream Spa & Fitness

Spa

Carnival Dream's two-deck Cloud 9 Spa (Decks 12 and 14) is 23,750 square feet of space dedicated to pampering, relaxation and fitness. At the spa, you'll find the usual array of treatments from massages (Swedish, bamboo, Thai poultice, hot stone) and facials (tri-enzyme, hydralift, microdermabrasion) to wraps, scrubs and ionithermie detox sessions. Other treatments include acupuncture, teeth whitening and medi-spa wrinkle treatments. At the salon, you'll find haircuts and styling, along with waxing, manicures and pedicures and men's options like shaves and beard trims.

Listed prices can be high, but specials are offered every day, especially on days Dream is in port. For example, a 75-minute hot stone massage costs $195 on a sea day and $176 on a port day. Also look for mix-and-match specials, and remember: If you purchase three treatments, you get 10 percent off the first, 20 percent off the second and 30 percent off the third.

For an extra fee, a limited number of passes are available for the spa's thermal suite, which includes a thalassotherapy pool, two steam rooms (one with aromatherapy), a dry-heat sauna and a relaxation room with heated loungers. Passes are sold for the length of the cruise only, and are priced per person or per couple. A day pass costs $40 per passenger; cruise-length prices depend on the number of days (a seven-night cruise, for example, costs $139).

Passengers will also find complimentary steam rooms in the men's and women's locker rooms.

Treatment rooms, as well as the salon, are located on the second level of the spa, accessible via a spiral staircase. The fitness center and thalassotherapy pool encompass the first level. This design helps ensure noise from the fitness center does not disturb passengers in treatment rooms.

The spa is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Fitness

The fitness center (Deck 12) features an array of LifeFitness machines, including treadmills, recumbent bikes, ellipticals and weight machines. A selection of free weights is also available. Most machines offer a great view, as well, thanks to the fitness center's location at the front of the ship.

Passengers can sign up for several extra-fee classes including body sculpt boot camp, Pilates and yoga. Pilates and yoga are each $12 per class, while the boot camp is $99 and includes three 45-minute sessions, a body composition analysis and postural/footprint analysis. Free fitness classes, including stretching, are also available.

The gym is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with morning hours being the busiest.

Carnival Dream For Kids

Families are a major demographic for Carnival, especially during the summer, and Carnival Dream works hard to keep kids and parents happy. The ship feature's the line's Dr. Seuss and Build-A-Bear partnerships, as well as a robust kids club divided into three age groups. Kids also get their own menu in the main dining room, with staples like chicken nuggets, mac 'n cheese and spaghetti.

Branded Dr. Seuss activities include a once-per-sailing Seuss-a-Palooza Parade that winds its way from the Deck 5 Burgundy Lounge down to the Deck 3 level of the Encore theater. The Cat in the Hat and Things 1 and 2 lead the parade, while kids and their parents wave streamers and banners and yell "Dr. Seuss is on the loose." The parade culminates with an interactive reading of "The Cat in the Hat" by the entertainment crew and parent and child volunteers. The Cat in the Hat and Things 1 and 2 also make an appearance at the once-per-sailing Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (see For-Fee Dining).

Pop-up Build-A-Bear workshops are scheduled once or more per sailing (dependent on demand) and cost $26 for a bear with no outfit, and $5 and up for accessories.

WaterWorks and the extra-fee Warehouse Arcade are two other spaces kids enjoy. To enter the pool, hot tubs or use the water park, kids must be toilet trained; swim diapers are not permitted. To ride the Twister and Drainpipe slides, kids must be 42 inches or taller.

Kids

Camp Ocean (Deck 11) is for kids ages 2- to 11-years-old, but the program further divides daily activities into three groups, one each for 2- to 5-year-olds, 6- to 8-year-olds and 9- to 11-year-olds. Children do not need to be toilet trained, and camp counselors will change diapers. Age-appropriate activities begin about 10 a.m. on sea days (varied hours on port days, depending on demand), and can include arts and crafts, dancing, movies, sports contests and video gaming. Most organized programming ends at about 10 p.m.; the Camp is also typically closed for an hour during lunch and dinner.

Parents (or pre-assigned guardians) must sign kids ages 2 through 8 in and out. Kids 9 and older can sign themselves in and out, except after 10 p.m., during Night Owls babysitting hours.

The Night Owls group babysitting program (for kids 6 months to 11 years) is available from 10 p.m. through 1 a.m. The cost is $6.75 per hour, per child, plus a 15 percent gratuity.

Teens

Tweens (ages 12 to 14) and Teens (ages 15 to 17) also get their own hangout spaces on Deck 4. With a mostly open-space design, you'll find gaming stations, a foosball table and dance floor in both Circle C and Club O2.

Circle C (Deck 4) is for the tweens, and they can come and go as they like. In fact, you'll often find them hanging by the chairs outside Circle C, in the middle of the walkway. Daily activities might include dance classes, karaoke, scavenger hunts, Ping-Pong or Wii tournaments, magic classes, late-night pizza parties, after-hours movies and more. On our sailing, Circle C was open on sea days from noon to 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., and on port days from 4 to 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Teens have Club O2 (Deck 4), a nightclub-esque space right next to Circle C (much to their chagrin). Activities begin around noon on sea days and might include mini-golf or dodge ball tournaments, karaoke sessions, video gaming and dance parties.

Additional Carnival Dream Information

Carnival Dream Details
  • Crew: 1,367
  • Launched: 2009
  • Decks: 13
  • Passengers: 3,646
  • Registry: Panama
  • CDC Score: 87

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