There is a laid-back vibe on the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, where highlights include the pool, the casino, live shows, and movies on the jumbo screen on deck. The ship has 10 restaurants ranging from a 24-hour pizzeria to the Taste Bar, which serves complimentary tapas-style bites of the highlights from menus found in the ship’s other restaurants. (It's a great way to see if you want to splurge on one of those specialty restaurants). One caveat: Carnival may have packed a lot of activities into the ship's 1,000-foot length, but standard cabins aren’t especially large.
What We Love
Adults-Only Areas: The Serenity Lounge is a bi-level outdoor haven for quiet-craving adults over 21. Balinese-style daybeds, comfy round couches, and a bar lend to the laid-back ambience. Once the sun sets, it transforms into Serenity Nights, a South Beach-style club where the daytime quiet is replaced with popular music spun by a DJ.
Great Steak: Yes, there’s a $35 per person surcharge to dine at Chef’s Art Steakhouse, but it’s a splurge-worthy experience. The four-course dinner begins with classic appetizers like New England crab cakes followed by a juicy filet mignon (save room for dessert — silky chocolate banana panna cotta is worth every calorie).
Salsa and Suds: Breakfast burritos and lunchtime tacos (with a hearty selection of salsas) are complimentary at the BlueIguana Cantina. And it's worth the fee to get a pint of Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red beer at the Caribbean-style RedFrog Rum Bar on the Lido Deck.
Best Known For
Exciting Excursions: Cruisers looking for adventure can book some of the ship's more active trips while in port, whether it’s snorkeling with dolphins and stingrays in Grand Cayman or competing in “The Amazing Cozumel Race,” an excursion designed to mimic the reality TV series. Participants are split into teams, where they use clues to explore the island scavenger-hunt style.
Cool All-Ages Activities: You can have breakfast with “Cat in the Hat” characters ($5 extra per person), enjoy aquatic action at the enormous WaterWorks amusement park, or, starting in 2017, be a contestant on “Lip Sync Battle” (based on the popular Spike TV show). Specialty Carnival LIVE sailings also bring bold-name guest stars like comedian Chris Tucker and Grammy-winning country group Little Big Town to perform on board.
Quick Sailings: Not everyone can vacation for weeks on end, so the two- to nine-night sailings departing from New Orleans to the eastern and western Caribbean offer a cruise length for everyone's vacation time budget, from mini breaks to tasting trips that help sun worshippers explore the Bahamas, Belize, and Jamaica.
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Who It's Best For
Budget-Conscious Cruisers: Deal-seeking passengers range from students to seniors, including families, couples, and singles of all ages. After all, who doesn’t want a bargain?
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Beware of Cabins Near Nightlife: Consider yourself warned: The party keeps going on this ship. Book a cabin right below the Lido Deck nightclub or by the Encore theater on Deck 5 and you may hear music and feel vibrations until the wee hours of the night. Which is fun for in-room dancing, but not if you’re trying to sleep.
Chanize Thorpe is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides and Uptown.
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Carnival Dream at a Glance
- Line: Carnival Cruise Line
- Class: Dream
- Number of Passengers: 3646
- Ship Size: Mega
- Launch Date: 2009
- Refurbish Date: 2012