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Average Customer Rating
3.8 / 53.8 / 53.8 / 53.8 / 53.8 / 5
3.8 / 5

Average Rating based on 10 Reviews
Value For Money  3.90/5  (3.90)
Cabin Design  3.78/5  (3.78)
Entertainment  3.44/5  (3.44)
Fitness Center  3.20/5  (3.20)
Food Quality  3.40/5  (3.40)
Ship Maintenance  3.60/5  (3.60)
Spa  4.40/5  (4.40)
Specialty Restaurant  4.20/5  (4.20)
Staff and Service  3.90/5  (3.90)

Compared to averages for similar items
Value For Money  3.97/5  (3.97)
Cabin Design  4.02/5  (4.02)
Entertainment  3.51/5  (3.51)
Fitness Center  4.05/5  (4.05)
Food Quality  3.87/5  (3.87)
Ship Maintenance  4.07/5  (4.07)
Spa  3.90/5  (3.90)
Specialty Restaurant  3.95/5  (3.95)
Staff and Service  4.07/5  (4.07)

 
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Carnival Dream
Carnival Dream

The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream was the largest "Fun Ship" ever constructed when it was built, and was a new class of vessel for the line. It carries 3,646 passengers.

Unique features of the Carnival Dream included a new concept in entertainment called The Piazza, a stunning indoor/outdoor cafe and live music venue; the most elaborate children's facilities at sea, including expansive play areas and a huge Carnival WaterWorks aqua park; "scenic whirlpools" that extend over the ship's beam; and a variety of new stateroom categories, including those specifically catering to families.

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(Review ID: 1061)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
 
Carnival Dream offers good dining choices, plus handy times and good food., January 25, 2014
Reviewer: Jackieblog
Pros: I like the option of dining times, plus the menu always has something I like.
Cons: Too many people. The Burrito Bar and Tandoori are my least favorites.
Date of cruise: November 2010
Departure port: Fort Lauderdale
Region visited: Bahamas
Cabin category: Balcony
Found through: Cruise line website
Good for children: Yes
Good for teenagers: Yes
    
Jackieblog saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   4.00/5  (4)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Fitness Center   4.00/5  (4)
Food Quality   4.00/5  (4)
Ship Maintenance   2.00/5  (2)
Spa   4.00/5  (4)
Staff and Service   4.00/5  (4)

Launched in September 2009, the Carnival Dream has two main restaurants – Scarlet and Crimson – with sweeping staircases, sparkling chandeliers and fabrics in their namesake colors.

One or the other offers an open seating breakfast and lunch daily with both open nightly for dinner service. Passengers are assigned a table for traditional early seating at 6 p.m. or late seating at 8:15 p.m. We chose a table for two at early dining.

The Carnival open seating option for dinner is always my choice. Cruisers who choose this open seating can arrive anytime between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. and be seated on the upper level of the dining room.

Of course, there are a multitude of other food options on the Dream. Seems like there is always delicious food being served somewhere on the ship. The ship’s lido buffet, the Gathering, is especially popular, particularly for breakfast and lunch. The buffet here is cafeteria style, choose what you want.

The Dream has a nice option for late risers, breakfast in the Gathering from 10:30 until noon.

Scattered around the ship are free food spots such as the Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, Tandoori Oven, Cajun Taste and a Pasta Bar where the dishes are made to order. On an order form, you check off what pasta, sauce and toppings you want and a waiter brings the hot dish to your table.

The Gathering has plenty of tables and booths, including some very nice ones with amazing ocean views. Or you can dine outside at one of the deck tables where you can see and hear the ocean scenes.

For a pre-dinner appetizer, stop by Wasabi on Deck 5 for free sushi. Again, it is prepared fresh and the presentation is tops. Another option is room service – free. Absolutely no charge for whatever is ordered or for the delivery. Room service at hotels or ships often can run up a hefty bill quite easily so this is a thoughtful and convenient Dream feature.

Free continental in-cabin breakfast can be ordered by hanging a filled-out card on your doorknob by 5 a.m. For snacks, the top decks offer deli sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, fruit, salads and a 24-hour pizza shop. An ice cream machine also seems to get a lot of use.

Tonight’s dinner menu is already posted – entrees are veal parmagiano, oven roasted turkey, broiled red snapper, penne in tomato cream with vodka, vegetarian lasagna, grilled mahi mahi, baked chicken breast, grilled flat iron steak and filet mignon. Decisions, decisions!
 
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(Review ID: 839)
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
 
Entertainment geared to young people--hip-hop and rap., December 13, 2012
Reviewer: ed maslyk
Pros: Staff in stateroom and dining excellent.
Cons: Cruise director too silly. Too much trivia and no educational classes
Date of cruise: 12/1/12
Departure port: Port Canaveral
Region visited: Caribbean - Eastern
Cabin category: Inside
Cabin number: 7285
Found through: CruiseCompete.com
    
ed maslyk saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   2.00/5  (2)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Fitness Center   2.00/5  (2)
Food Quality   4.00/5  (4)
Ship Maintenance   4.00/5  (4)
Staff and Service   4.00/5  (4)

Only educational was to sell something. Classes scheduled too close to dinner. Not ernough time to attend and get ready for dinner. Trivia every ten minutes. All staff could be friendlier. Saw staff fraterinizing. BBQ didn't have anything but hot dogs and hamburgers
 
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(Review ID: 759)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
 
Fun ship, inconsistent service, ship is showing its age, June 14, 2012
Reviewer: micampos
Pros: Many activities, fun water park, great cruise for families
Cons: Inconsistent service, food and amenities not on par with other Carnival cruises
Date of cruise: June 2, 2012
Departure port: Port Canaveral
Region visited: Caribbean - Eastern
Cabin category: Outside
Found through: CruiseCompete.com
Good for children: Yes
Good for teenagers: Yes
    
micampos saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   4.00/5  (4)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Food Quality   3.00/5  (3)
Ship Maintenance   3.00/5  (3)
Specialty Restaurant   5.00/5  (5)
Staff and Service   4.00/5  (4)

This was our second Carnival cruise, the first being on the Splendor to Mexico a year ago. The cruise ships were very similar in size, layout and appointment, however the Dream somehow felt more cramped than the Splendor.

Carnival cruises are known for catering to all ages, so there were plenty of families onboard, as well as a good mix of people from all age groups. This made for a cramped Lido deck. Even though the Splendor and the Dream are similarly configured, the pool area at the Lido deck and the rear or the ship seemed to be insufficient to distribute the crowd.

On the Splendor, there was the main pool and the rear pool as in the Dream, but the water slide area also had a pool, and a water park was nearby for smaller kids. Hence, it seemed to have been more effective in breaking up the crowd based on preference.

Another area for improvement is the dining service. We had a big party and were seated at a large table in the back of the dining room. We were glad to be there and away from the crowd. The dining staff were friendly enough, but every night we seem to always be the last table to be served and the last table to leave the dining room (we had early seating). Even when we asked to please deliver the food earlier as we had kids in our party, the service was still late and did not noticeably improve.

One good thing, though, was that they were accommodating to us on the last night, as we ordered food completely off-menu and the maitre'd and kitchen staff were able to accommodate our request.

On the good side, our outside cabin was excellent. We had two baths in our unit without sacrificing cabin space, which made for a convenient bath situation for our family. Our room steward was friendly, as were guest services and the staff at the buffet area.

All the ports were beautiful, but I give St. Maarten the highest marks. The shore excursions were fun. We bought one from Carnival and another from Orbitz. Both were well-organized, lots of fun, and were as advertised and expected.

In all, our cruise on the Carnival Dream was largely enjoyable despite the shortcomings above. In one of the ports, both the Dream and RCL's Oasis of the Seas were docked next to each other and you can clearly see how much larger RCL's ship was next to the Dream, so perhaps that will be our next cruise just to compare.

However, in terms of value and the overall fun at Carnival, especially for families, I'll would consider going on another Carnival cruise in the future.
 
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(Review ID: 747)
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
 
Nice ship with bottom-line-conscious food quality that has regressed., May 22, 2012
Reviewer: nickapagano
Pros: Nice balcony cabins although relatively small
Cons: Kids left to run wild in dining room by apathetic parents
Date of cruise: 5/5/12
Departure port: Port Canaveral
Region visited: Caribbean - Eastern
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 9363
Found through: Travel agent's web site
    
nickapagano saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   3.00/5  (3)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Food Quality   3.00/5  (3)
Ship Maintenance   4.00/5  (4)
Specialty Restaurant   5.00/5  (5)
Staff and Service   4.00/5  (4)

Lines through security screening were long and slow-moving. Lines for check-in were abundant and speedy. Rooms not ready until 1:30pm caused chaotic scramble for tables on pool/buffet deck with luggage and people everywhere. Food in buffet line was plentiful, varied and of decent quality. Many specialty areas like pasta bar, deli, pizza bar, hot dog/hamburger bar, sushi bar, ice cream machines on Deck 10. Food in Dining Room was nice looking and well-presented but of diminished quality from other Carnival ships. That is a step down from ordinary. Filet mignon, chateaubriand and daily steak offering were worst I ever had on a cruise ship from (11 cruises on 5 lines) Shore excursions were varied and plentiful albeit overpriced. Outdoor theater in the evening was amazingly relaxing and refreshing. Serenity Deck amenities were wonderful, relaxing and peaceful. Beware casino Black Jack tables with traditional multi-deck manual-shuffle shoe. Overheard dealer telling fellow-passenger that all Queens were removed from every deck of cards in the shoe. There was no posted acknowledgement of this odds-altering-in-favor-of-the-house practice. Shows were entertaining and of typical cruise quality. Specialty Steak House had superb food and service for $30.00 per person including tips. Great value for excellent meal. Public areas were not scaled upwards in size to accommodate larger ship capacity, especially pool areas and casual dining area. Service in dining room varied greatly from section to section. We were able to change our preferred seating due to a wonderfully customer-focused maitre d' staff and therefore were able to go from ordinary service to the type of service passengers used to receive when the dining room staff were not guaranteed tips like they are now. Dining room food delivery was very slow and varied from day to day. Seems obvious that kitchen was not efficient enough. Of the 7 Carnival cruises in the last 20-years, we found the Dream to be the least memorable. Either we are more picky as we have aged or the corporate moguls have focused too much on the bottom line or the management of this particular ship has some work to do. Perhaps all three.
 
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(Review ID: 668)
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful:
 
There are crowds everywhere, November 15, 2011
Reviewer: dwburris
Pros: Food was pretty good
Cons: Crowds
Date of cruise: Nov 5-12 2011
Departure port: Port Canaveral
Region visited: Caribbean - Eastern
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 6496
Found through: AllThingCruise.com,CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website,Cruise community site
    
dwburris saw things this way
Value For Money   3.00/5  (3)
Cabin Design   4.00/5  (4)
Food Quality   3.00/5  (3)
Ship Maintenance   2.00/5  (2)
Staff and Service   3.00/5  (3)

New is not always better. We did get an upgrade from balcony guarantee to exteneded balcony off the rear of the ship. The cruise started with the ship coming in 2 hours late due to a medical emergency. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get on board. Our room was ready when we got onboard and we dropped off our bags in our cabin.

We got a tip to go up to the pasta bar on deck 11 instead of the buffet. The pasta bar was 3/4 empty while the buffet was packed. People were coming up to 11 to find a table. The buffet was the first of a long list of times we were in crowds on the Dream.

While they made a larger ship, they used up all of the space in more cabins and restaurants. The public areas were small for the ship's capacity.

The entrance to our restaurant had a very small area outside where the photo gallery, stairs and narrow aisle all converged. They had many new people seating people and it took a while to be seated.

Carnival changed (cheapened) the menus again. My wife commented her lobster tail she had was the smallest she had seen and it was only 3 small bites. I had shrimp one night and got 2 normal sized shrimp. The food quality was decent though.

The only place you could go on sea days (to avoid extreme crowds) was go to a closed bar. The ship was nice on port days. We only went to St. Thomas and St. Martin. Nassau was canceled due to storms.

We stayed in our cabin and used our balcony. The rear balconies were not very private as they can see you from all directions due to the slope on the rear of the ship. Also soot from the ships stack got on the balcony. We smelled the sewer-like odor a couple of times.

Our cabin steward did a good job but was very slow. We would leave our service cabin sign and come back as much as 3 1/2 hours later and our cabin wasn't touched yet.

Much of the crew wasn't friendly, especially the room stewards. Ours was friendly with us but she wanted the tip.

Dining service was very erratic too. One day diiner was an hour and the next day over 1 1/2 hours with the same wait team.

The ship was very nice looking. Much more toned down than the older ships. Also it was designed with the galley dividing the ship on deck 3 which meant many detours. Also the elevators were incredibly slow and several were out of order.

We were glad to get off the ship.

I'm giving Carnival another chance but on an older ship with a better design.
 
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(Review ID: 587)
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
 
Dream was truly a DREAM! :), May 15, 2011
Reviewer: eviet2011
Pros: The food was far better than on any other Carnival ship I have sailed
Cons: Balcony layout, would prefer wider instead of length
Date of cruise: 04/30/2011
Departure port: PORT CANAVERAL
Region visited: Caribbean - Western
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 6490
Found through: Cruise community site
Good for children: Yes
Good for teenagers: Yes
    
eviet2011 saw things this way
Value For Money   5.00/5  (5)
Cabin Design   5.00/5  (5)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Fitness Center   3.00/5  (3)
Food Quality   3.00/5  (3)
Ship Maintenance   5.00/5  (5)
Spa   4.00/5  (4)
Specialty Restaurant   3.00/5  (3)
Staff and Service   4.00/5  (4)

The embarkation was unreal in a GOOD WAY as was debarkation. Carnival staff handled passengers smoothly and quickly.

Food was great for first time on a Carnival ship, from entrees to desserts (been on five Carnival ships). Although I found the coffee very hard to swallow as I am used to strong coffee :( One fellow passenger was mixing the hot chocolate with the coffee and I decided to try it and was actually quite good! :)

There was one occasion when I was looking for chocolate chip cookies desperately because they were soooo good, found they were served once at lunch so I decided to ask one of the servers at the buffet and he "found" them for me, on two occasions. :) MMMmmm...

Another passenger told me as we got off the ship in Costa Maya that he enjoyed a BLT sandwich and wrote it on the room service ticket and asked for it as "breakfast food" and he actually got it! So there are ways to enjoy that special sandwich, dessert, etc... even though you don't see it.

Design was very calm and very pretty. Actually enjoyed the layout of the ship and brought home really nice pictures of the actual ship which I normally don't. Layout was easy to maneuver.

Guest Services and Shore Excursion desk seemed to be the friendliest onboard. Some cabin stewards seemed overwhelmed, although the ship did not seem to be at full capacity. Our cabin was not cleaned the first day at sea until evening and only after I called twice. I was told that I "perhaps" placed the sign the "wrong way" or that it fell off and the steward couldn't determine if we were in the cabin or wanted service.(?) As I did not want to get anyone in "trouble" I did not argue the issue. After that we "slid" the card between the door hinges so that it could not fall out. I think they got the hint. :)

Ports were nice but I can review those in other areas.

All in all, I enjoyed the Dream and am ready for our next cruise on the Magic in September 2011.
 
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(Review ID: 579)
6 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
 
Great cruise in all, but Dream is a little too big for me!, April 25, 2011
Reviewer: johedr
Pros: Relaxation
Cons: Too many people, not enough pools and room on the deck
Date of cruise: 4/9/2011
Departure port: Port Canavarel, Florida
Region visited: Caribbean - Eastern
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 7406
Found through: AllThingCruise.com,CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website
Good for children: No
Good for teenagers: No
    
johedr saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   4.00/5  (4)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Food Quality   3.00/5  (3)
Ship Maintenance   4.00/5  (4)
Staff and Service   5.00/5  (5)

Carnival Dream is a nice boat, but certain areas were a little too crowded for me, and most of the older people on this ship were nothing but RUDE. For whatever reason they felt like they owned the ship and were royalty.

**Remember, families pay for their children to be on the boat, as well as any adult** My children were never left unattended and, YES, children can stay up past 8 p.m. these days!!! That comment is for ALL the elders that decided to state their opinions very loudly at 8 p.m. that my children should be asleep.

Pool decks and pools - there is not enough room for 4,500 people in either of these two areas. They are no larger than the smaller ships. It is EXTREMELY crowded. So if you have children, hang out at the waterslide and mini golf areas. The pools are not large enough for children to have fun.

And with the reviews I have seen, I guess children being on the boat upsets people traveling without kids. Hopefully, they remember that we parents are paying for our children to go on the boat, just as everyone else is.

I didn't mind the buffet lines, which really were only about a five-minute wait or so. The food was okay in the buffet. The made to order omelets, pasta, burritos, etc. were great. The dining room experience was wonderful, and yes, we took our kids every night. Room service was wonderful, right on time every morning.

The Seaside theater's screen needs to be re-done, there is a large area that needs fixing. But the movies at night were very relaxing (yes, even with children).

My kids liked Camp Carnival, but were only in it for the days we were at sea for only three hours. They would rather hung out with us and use the waterslide and the mini golf. They said the pool was too crowded and no fun!

Dining Room service was EXCELLENT. Cabin service was EXCELLENT.

I did not smell the bad odor that was mentioned in some other reviews.

I thought the shows at night were good. No, you are not going to see Broadway shows on a ship, so I wouldn't expect that. "Dancing in the Streets" WAS great!

I loved the Red, Blue, White challenge on Thursday night. It was a lot of fun!

Checking in and getting on board was a small wait, but it was extremely efficient. Getting off the ship at the end was EXTREMELY easy. It took us about 30 minutes total.

I did not think that Dream had a lot of stuff going on during the days at sea. They seem to want to do Bingo ALL the time (which is a fee). I would have preferred to see more organized games around the ship.

As far as the Lido deck, Carnival staff, turn down your mics!!! You guys were EXTREMELY loud and I was on the top deck not even near where you were doing the activities!

All in all, I loved my vacation aboard the Dream, but when cruising again, I will go for a smaller ship in the Carnival fleet.
 
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(Review ID: 539)
1 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
 
Long lines, bad service, two-hour wait for room service, January 13, 2011
Reviewer: xwineo
Pros: None
Cons: Bad time
Date of cruise: 1/1/2011
Departure port: port
Region visited: Caribbean - Eastern
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 2386
Found through: AllThingCruise.com
Good for children: Yes
    
xwineo saw things this way
Value For Money   3.00/5  (3)
Entertainment   1.00/5  (1)
Fitness Center   3.00/5  (3)
Food Quality   2.00/5  (2)
Ship Maintenance   2.00/5  (2)
Spa   4.00/5  (4)
Specialty Restaurant   3.00/5  (3)
Staff and Service   1.00/5  (1)

Long lines all the time, bad service.
 
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(Review ID: 278)
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
 
Too many people, September 2, 2010
Reviewer: klowe
Pros: Nice ship, very clean
Cons: The other people on the ship
Date of cruise: 8/21/10
Departure port: Port Canaveral
Region visited: Caribbean - Western
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 8233
Found through: CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website,Cruise community site
Good for children: Yes
Good for teenagers: Yes
    
klowe saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   5.00/5  (5)
Entertainment   2.00/5  (2)
Food Quality   4.00/5  (4)
Ship Maintenance   5.00/5  (5)
Spa   5.00/5  (5)
Specialty Restaurant   5.00/5  (5)
Staff and Service   5.00/5  (5)

We have been on many cruises and several on Carnival. The embarkation process was slow because we had a newly hired person who wasn't fully trained. It took over an hour to get on the ship once registered as the computers went down. Not a smooth embarkation.

They had half the elevators tied up with luggage so getting an elevator took about a hour. The other passengers were rude and pushed in front to get on an elevator. Finding your way around the ship was very easy and well laid out. The cabins were ready when we finally got in them and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Lunch was typical cruise fare food and the lines were very long and slow for no identifiable reason. There was a good selection. Dinner the first night in the main dining room was slow and disorganized but did get better every night after that. The entertainment was poor at best and we only went to the first night's show. There was one comedian that was in the lounge for the adult show who was pretty good, another one we walked out of five minutes into the show.

Other people in our party went to all the shows and said they were still pretty bad. We liked the casino and were able to walk away with some winnings.

Disembarkation was surprisingly smooth considering how many people had to get on and off, even on tender days. We had dinner one night in the steakhouse and it was well worth the extra money.

The worst part of the vacation were the other passengers. Many were loud, rude and disrespectful. They had no consideration for other people as they yelled up and down the halls at all hours of the day and night. There were many kids everywhere that seemed the parents had no control over. The Serenity Deck was nice because it was quiet with an adults only hot tub and nicer people.

My one complaint about the ship was they had overhead announcements every night looking for passengers, several times they were after 11 p.m. and once it was at 3 a.m. in the morning.

Disembarkation was slow and we were in the last group of people to be called. You have to sit in the lounge for a couple of hours before they let you off. It was very slow.
 
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(Review ID: 45)
15 of 22 people found the following review helpful:
 
Carnival Dream - That New Ship Smell, May 27, 2010
Reviewer: jtmalt
Pros: Nice spa, beautiful ship
Cons: Odor problems, poorly executed dinner buffet
Date of cruise: 5/15/2010
Departure port: Port Canaveral
Region visited: Caribbean - Western
Cabin category: Balcony
Cabin number: 12215
Found through: CruiseCompete.com,Cruise line website,Cruise community site
Good for children: Yes
Good for teenagers: Yes
    
jtmalt saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   3.00/5  (3)
Entertainment   4.00/5  (4)
Fitness Center   4.00/5  (4)
Food Quality   5.00/5  (5)
Ship Maintenance   5.00/5  (5)
Spa   5.00/5  (5)
Staff and Service   5.00/5  (5)

To put this review in perspective, this is our fifth cruise, having cruised twice on RCCL (Sovereign and Mariner) and twice on Princess (Crown and Caribbean Princess). This was our first cruise on Carnival.

We booked this cruise just about a year prior, before all of the features of the Carnival Dream had been fully defined. We liked the idea of a spa-class cabin, since we enjoyed the use of the thermal suite on board the Caribbean Princess so much. We decided on a deck 12 Spa Balcony, since it appeared to have the easiest access to the thermal suite.

EMBARKATION

We arrived at the port around 12:30. Lines were minimal but the embarkation process was kind of haphazard. Lots of reps standing around, but not directing people where they should be going. It went quickly though. Rooms were not yet ready.

THE SHIP

There's no denying that the Carnival Dream is a beautiful ship, with a design aesthetic that is considerably more restrained than Carnival has a reputation for. We found that most of the public areas were very tastefully done. The ship seemed to me to be very stable, comparable to any of the previous ships we had been on. Winds this week were pretty constant, and the ship moved around a bit, but it wasn't anything that I would consider unusual in a ship this size, particularly considering the winds we experienced.

I don't think the Lanai/Ocean Plaza concept really works. The whirlpools are indeed constantly populated, but the rest of the deck space is very lightly used. I was under the impression that Ocean Plaza was originally conceived to be an area open to the Lanai...this idea must have been ditched during the actual construction, because it is certainly an enclosed area now. It would have been impressive if it they had been able to follow through with the concept, but it probably would have been impractical due to wind. Noise from the lanai is very clearly heard as far up as deck 12.

I will also say that the staff was the most welcoming and most courteous that I have seen on any of my previous cruises. No matter how busy, every crew member we passed acknowledged us with a smile and a greeting.

THE SPA/SERENITY

The gym is a little cramped, but there are plenty of machines, and rarely a wait. The thermal suite, free for spa cabins, additional charge for every one else, was very nice, if a little oddly laid out. It features a laconium with heated ceramic lounges, an oriental steam room (this was out of service for much of the week while tile replacement was being performed), a tepidarium room with heated ceramic loungers, an inhalation room, multi-function rain showers and a thalassotherapy pool. Lockers and spacious showers were also provided. A co-ed dry sauna was also available for free use by anyone on board, if you knew where to find it.

If you're in a spa cabin, you need to trade in your sail and sign card for a spa access card that will unlock the doors to the private areas. You have to turn it back in to get your sail & sign back, so you can't just freely move between your cabin and the private spa areas. It would be much more convenient if they eventually re-key the doors to work with your sign and sail card, but I don't know if they ever plan on doing that.

TABLE SERVICE DINING

We utilized "Your Time Dining" for this cruise. The computer system that is used to seat you remembers your table number, and you are automatically asked if you would like to utilize that same table and wait staff on each of your subsequent visits. Since we enjoyed our waiter, Iki, we sat at our regular table in his section most evenings.

We generally eat early, and found that there was no wait for seating most nights around 6 pm. One night, we arrived a bit later, and there would have been a 20-minute wait to get a table for two in Iki's section, so I think they've got the anytime concept down pretty well.

The meals in the dining room were generally very good, often exceeding our expectation of banquet quality fare. Of course there were some items that fell short (the flat iron steak, for example), and others that were really quite excellent. Food is always a subjective subject, but it is fair to say that most everything we had was well prepared, with good quality ingredients.

The exception was desserts. Desserts that were exclusive to the dining room (such as the melting cake and the souffl) were generally pretty good (although the ice cream was grainy and full of ice crystals). Desserts that were offered both in the dining room and the casual dining venues were often very poor quality. I think they simply use a lot of extenders in these products to keep the costs down. Generally speaking, items such as cheesecakes and flavored pies had very little flavor and a light foamy texture that indicates to me that gelatins and food starches are the main ingredients. Seeing the way people heap their plates in the buffet, I can't say I blame them...they would go broke if they were using authentic NY Cheesecake.

THE GATHERING

The buffet dining on board the Dream is "The Gathering". Breakfast here was fairly well executed. There are four omelet stations, each running three pans, so the lines for custom eggs are pretty short.

During lunch, lines were a bit longer, but not intolerable. This is due in part to the opening of a number of alternative lunch venues...the dining room, the lanai bbq, the grill, the pizza station, the deli, the pasta bar and the Tandoori.

During dinner, the Gathering is a different story. For some reason, it is reduced to one two-sided station for dinner. Dinner selections are very limited, generally four entrees similar to those being served in the dining room. The more costly dining room options are pared down for presentation in the buffet...for example, while the dining room was serving veal parmigiana, the Gathering was serving chicken parmigiana instead. The Pasta Bar, Mongolian Wok, and Burrito Bar sections of the Gathering are all closed for dinner. Again, the desserts are uniformly awful. We found the Gathering at dinner to be a very poor experience.

OTHER DINING VENUES

Our favorite dining spot on board was the Tandoori at the rear of the ship, open only during lunch hour. If you've never had Tandoori, it is generally skewered meats and vegetables cooked at very high temperatures in devices very similar to kilns. The Tandoori featured a variety of fish, chicken, and beef dishes, prepared Tandoori-style, often covered with very spicy dry and wet curries, accompanied by fragrant rice and Naan bread. If you like spicy foods, this is definitely a great option for lunch.

The Deli offered a variety of sandwiches and panini, served cold or grilled in a sandwich press. Again, a very tasty option and open through the dinner hour.

A pizza station offers "hand-tossed" pizza and calzone with a variety of toppings. We didn't care for the pizza, as it had a thick, bready crust, and we prefer a thin crust, but it appeared to be well prepared with plenty of toppings.

The Grill offers the standard variety of hamburgers and hot dogs, as does the lanai barbecue.

The Ocean Plaza coffee shop offers espresso-based coffee drinks as well as ice cream, pastries, and "fat cakes", all at additional charge. This was a disappointment to us, not because of the pricing, but because it just wasn't very good. The espresso-based items all tasted burnt and the apple strudel and pound cake we sampled were stale and dry.

The Wasabi sushi bar offers sushi and, occasionally, tapas. We never really tried it, and honestly, the fishy odor permeated the whole corridor in thar vicinity of the shop.

ENTERTAINMENT

We only caught one show in the theater, a comedian/juggler (Edge) who offered an entertaining show with some audience improv. For the production shows, unless you get there very early, you just won't find a seat.

The Burgundy Lounge at the rear of the ship became a comedy club most evenings, with two headliners. PG rated shows were offered early in the evening, and R rated shows at night. The club was often standing-room early, but the comedians on board for our cruise were very entertaining. The comedy club is a great concept.

OTHER RANDOM ENTERTAINMENT

The other musical acts performing on the lido, in the casino, at Ocean Plaza, or in the atrium were typical cruise-ship background music. A performance by Fun Force, the resident hip hop/break dance troupe in the atrium, was fun ans entertaining. I'm sorry we missed their full show in the theater.

THE CABIN

Our cabin was actually the most significant disappointment we had with Carnival.

We stayed in a deck 12 Spa Balcony. While access to the spa was wonderful the cabin itself was not. The cabins are well-appointed with upgraded Elemis amenities and different beach towels from the rest of the ship (tan instead of blue). The bed was comfortable, medium firmness.

Flat screen TVs are mounted to the wall, and offer a selection of movies, network, and news, as well as pay per view. Either the cabin walls are exceptionally thin, or our neighbor kept the volume on his TV way up, because we were able to clearly hear his TV at all hours, even when our own TV as on.

The chiller in the room (I hate to mischaracterize it as a refrigerator) was stocked with mini bar items. We asked our steward to remove all the stuff, but he said he couldn't, so we just pulled it all out and stuffed it in a drawer for the week.

The Deck 12 Spa Balcony cabins have a very short overhang and that's it. They are fully exposed to the sun and the Serenity deck above. When we originally booked, we were told that these cabins were fully covered. By the time we found out they were not, it was too late to change (thanks to Early Saver). We honestly didn't think it would be a huge problem...Serenity deck should be pretty quiet, right?

Wrong. I actually felt compelled to go up to the Serenity deck to see if someone had posted a "Please Congregate Here and Make a Lot of Noise" sign above our room. We constantly had loud, drunken passengers hanging over our balcony, shouting, whoo-hooing, dripping beer on our heads, and generally making fools out of themselves. The ship's personnel weren't much better, with bartenders and entertainers often choosing that spot to hang out.

Whatever entertainment was occurring on the Lido deck was also audible, loudly and clearly, from our balcony, so if you're looking for peace and quiet, stay away from these rooms! It would have been more private if we had booked on deck 11 instead.

THE POOLS/WATERWORKS

The pools were relatively small, but never really crowded, although chair hogging was definitely a popular activity. The Waterworks is a great feature. It includes a children's play area, with lots of fun splashy things for kids to do, as well as three water slides...a set of racer slides that have a one-deck drop, the high speed "Drainpipe" that dumps you into a swirling bowl at the end of a steep, high-speed drop, and the Twister that discombobulates you through four corkscrew twists on your way to the bottom. A lot of fun, and never a very long wait even at the busiest times. Unfortunately, these need to be closed occasionally for safety reasons during high winds.

THAT "NEW SHIP SMELL"

It's real. We're used to the occasional whiff you get sometimes at sea, but this was something else entirely. When I spoke to a ship's officer during the meet and greet (I won't use his name, as he may not want to be quoted) he explained to me the cause.

There is a vent stack for the grey-water system embedded in the foremast, above the Serenity deck (grey water is any used water that does not contain human waste...sinks, laundry, dishwashing, etc). During certain wind conditions, the sewer gasses emitted from the vent stack are swept down onto the deck, covering the Serenity area, the forward balconies, and the water park with a foul odor of sewage. The odor is also picked up through a set of air conditioning intake vents near the foremast, and distributed via the air conditioning system to various locations inside the ship.

During our cruise, the wind conditions were perfect in all the wrong ways, and the odor was unrelenting for almost the entire voyage. Our room steward left us a concentrated bottle of deodorizer to use inside of our cabin when things got a little too ripe, but on too many occasions our balcony was virtually unusable due to the odor.

The officer acknowledged that this has been a major problem (which is corrected in the Magic's design). The solution is going to be to re-pipe the grey water vent so that it exits through the funnel instead of the foremast. The work on this is supposed to begin at the beginning of June, but he didn't say how long it would take to complete. Once the replumbing is done, the odor problem should be solved once and for all.

DEBARKATION AT THE PORTS

Debarkation at the ports was an ordeal, especially if you needed to get off the ship early. Everyone gets funneled through the forward stairways, and they keep all the elevators running, so it just becomes a mad crush. It seemed very disorganized, and no staff was on hand to try to keep order.

The tender process at Belize was reasonably smooth, in spite of the difficult weather conditions.

DEBARKATION AT PORT CANAVERAL

Very smoothly done. We had a late flight, so we were able to remain in our cabin until 8:30, at which point we needed to move to one of the designated public areas to wait. Our bag number was called right at the advertised time, and our wait at the luggage carousel was very brief. Altogether a very smooth disembarkation.

IMPRESSIONS

Overall, we were pleased with the cruise. True, there were problems and flaws, but we tried to laugh at them rather than let them ruin our cruise. Our most significant complaint was the odor, which prevented us from utilizing our balcony as much as we would have liked. With the noise and privacy issues, we might have enjoyed this cruise much more had we chosen a different cabin.

Comparing to other cruise lines, we thought the casual dining dinner options were limited, and thought that the closing times of some of the venues were inconvenient.

I'm not entirely sure I'd want to choose Carnival again (Princess seems a better fit for our cruising style), but we did enjoy a very relaxing week on board the Carnival Dream.
 
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