Even before its January 2017 makeover -- which welcomed Carnival favorites like Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, the Alchemy Bar and Bonsai Sushi -- Carnival Dream had a lot to love. The ship is one of the biggest in Carnival's fleet (second to the line's Vista class), which means dining options abound, and you'll never be bored with activities ranging from themed trivia and charades to comedy shows and top-deck dance parties.
To balance this out, Carnival Dream offers something that can be hard to find on other ships of its size: a place to escape all the action. The Lanai Promenade, a wraparound exterior walkway on Deck 5, has ample seating (including a handful of deck chairs) and four cantilevered hot tubs, yet never seems to get crowded, even on sea days.
Carnival Dream is also full of "hidden" decks -- two of which offer some of the best views onboard. You'll find them all the way at the front of the ship, on Decks 6 and 7, through doors at the end of the cabin corridors. Elsewhere throughout the ship, you'll find slivers of deck space and seating nooks to accommodate the larger number of passengers onboard. On the flip side, be warned: The ship does have a few tight spaces that can make it difficult to navigate -- including the internal walkway on Deck 5, next to Ocean Plaza, and Deck 4, near the kids' clubs.
What truly sets Carnival Dream apart from other ships, however, is its service. The crew members seem genuinely happy and interested in making sure passengers have the best vacation possible. In addition, they go above and beyond -- whether that's having your go-to glass of lemonade waiting for you at the main dining room, or guiding you to one of the secret decks so you don't get lost. With this level of attentiveness, it's no surprise Carnival Dream has won the line's internal flagship award for best service, multiple years.
Between the friendly service and everything there is to do (and eat) onboard, Carnival Dream is one big happy ship -- and we have a feeling you'll quickly forget about any minor gripes.
All meals in the main dining room, buffet and select room service items
All theatre production shows and Punchliner Comedy Club shows
Use of the water park and sports deck
Daily activities unless noted below or in the FunTimes daily program
Use of the fitness center, excluding organized classes or training sessions
Use of the Carnival kids club (children aged 2 to 17) until 10 p.m.
Gratuities ($13.99 per person, per day for standard staterooms; $15.99 per person, per day for suites)
Automatic gratuities of 18 percent for beverages and spa treatments
All drinks except water, tea, coffee and juices served in the buffet
Meals in the steakhouse specialty restaurant
Treatments in the Spa and salon; personal training or group fitness classes
Entry to the Thermal Suite, including Thalassotherapy Pool, at the Cloud 9 Spa
All shore excursions
Wi-Fi internet access
Select activities like bingo, alcohol tasting events and Build-a-Bear workshops
Photos and artwork for sale
Late-night (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.) events in the Kids Club
A huge chunk of the passengers on Carnival Dream drive to their cruise from states all over the southern United States. Ages run the gamut from kids (lots of 'em in the summer!) to folks in their 60s and 70s, though the average age is usually somewhere in the mid-30s to mid-40s. The ship is popular with groups, including family reunions and wedding parties.
Daytime: Casual is the name of the game on any Carnival ship. On most days, you'll see men in shorts and T-shirts and women in shorts and tees, capris, sundresses or bathing suits with cover-ups.
Evening: Most nights people remain casual for dinner but on Cruise Elegant nights, you'll see women in gowns, sundresses and pants and blouse combos, while men don anything from tuxes to full suits to trousers with button-up shirts (with or without a jacket and/or tie). You'll also see plenty of people who choose not to dress up at all.
Not permitted: On all nights, cutoff jeans, men's sleeveless shirts, basketball shorts, T-shirts, sportswear, baseball hats, flip-flops and bathing suits are not allowed in the main dining rooms, though we saw lots of women in flip-flops and men in T-shirts and baseball caps.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival Cruise Line.
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A cruise is what you make of it. The Dream is a dream.