Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Carnival Cruise Lines
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

Insider Take


First of the largest “Dream-class”. Highlights: Ocean Plaza, RedFrog Rum Bar, Waterslides, Serenity retreat, Punchliners Comedy Club.Read More

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

An elegant, quiet and relaxing cruise; private areas away from the public, especially children.


One of the best aspects about Carnival Dream is less focus on the Farcusian decor. Compared to other Carnival ships, Dream is one of the least garish ships in the fleet. There isn’t any neon (the days replaced by the more efficient LED) tubing along the railings. The look is glass with chrome railings and wood finishings. There are a lot of pin lights of different colors, but you won’t be over-stimulated as you might be on other Carnival ships.

Public Rooms

Carnival Dream has a unique indoor/outdoor cafe and entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza in the mid-ships Promenade Deck. This is a first at sea, a public room with outdoor seating so close to the water line. Nearby the lanai seating are cantilevered hot tubs. The centerpiece of Ocean Plaza will be Plaza Cafe, a patisserie serving lattes, cappuccinos, espresso and other specialty coffees, along with sweets such as baked-on-board cakes, pies, cookies – even freshly made milkshakes. Full bar service, specializing in martinis, mojitos and other popular cocktails, will be offered, as well.

Dream’s public rooms are breathtaking, with its imposing atrium covering ten decks and glass elevators to the Pool deck. The “Promenade” on Deck 5 includes benches along its boulevard for those wishing to rest between stops at the nearby wine bar, casino and the adult disco “Caliente Dance Club.” The ship’s nightclubs, primarily at the stern, include The Burgundy Lounge which becomes a comedy club four nights per week. The Song Jazz Lounge features one or two musicians playing classics of the 70’s, 80’s on the stage near its small dance floor. Sam’s Piano Bar, a sing-along piano bar, is close to the Caliente Dance Club.

On the opposite end of Dream is the three-deck high Encore Main Lounge; aim for the lower balcony seats, a little off-center for the best view. Walking aft you next enter the Dream Atrium with the shopping area Fun Ships. The Jackpot Casino is the largest in the Carnival Fleet. Nearby the is the FunHub station just off the aforementioned Ocean Plaza. Hidden on Deck 4 (Atlantic Deck) are the extensive children’s facilities including the Warehouse video-arcade and the two teen’s discos, Circle C and Club 02. There are extensive conference facilities onboard on deck four.

Other diversions include a small library open for several hours each day and various boutiques selling a wide range of duty-free jewelry, perfume, and alcohol along with the usual cruise items.

Outside on the stern is a two-level Serenity adults-only retreat – the largest in the Carnival Fleet. The extensive water park along with a 23,750-square-foot health spa are both Carnival’s largest to date.


One of the new entertainment attractions on Dream include a new comedy club, to be held in the 425-seat Burgundy Lounge. It offers six shows per night, alternating between two comedians. The last two shows of the evening will be the adults only shows, one offered by each comedian. Making it even better, half-way through the cruise Carnival will bring in two different comedians for two fresh shows. This means that all together there will be eight different comedy shows for each passenger to see, a “family” and an “R-rated” show from each of four different comedians.

Carnival has a laser light show that goes off every night with a different theme. The laser-works are choreographed to songs by different well-known rock bands like Styx and Van Halen, Rush and Pink Floyd. Smoke machines enhance the laser effects.

The ship has three different major production shows in the main theater, “Encore,” each week-long cruise. Sam’s is a sing-a-long piano bar. Caliente is the disco dance club with a high-tech sound and lighting system. Ocean Plaza is the new indoor/outdoor cafe/entertainment venue on the Promenade deck that will showcase various styles of music as well as art, photo and spa seminars, scrapbooking classes, magicians, jugglers, trivia contests and more. An acrobatic troupe called Fun Force will entertain guests in Ocean Plaza and at various venues around the ship.

The main theater presents outstanding production shows featuring beautiful costumes and Vegas-quality light shows, but even the smaller venues have great acts and music, particularly the sing-along piano bar. There is a Caribbean band on the pool deck. More interactive activities include numerous bingo games, art auctions, ballroom dancing, karaoke, and “game show mania”.

Best For People Who Want

Exciting and ritzy nightlife; numerous singles; alternative dining venues; the largest ship in the Carnival fleet; spacious cabins for three and four passengers; cabins with balconies; excellent fitness and spa facilities; high-energy atmosphere with varied daytime activities, including abundant children’s programs.

Onboard Experience

The 130,000-ton, 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream is the largest Carnival cruise ship to date, although it is still merely about 60% the size of the newest Royal Caribbean ships. Carnival has chosen not to go as large as some of it competitors. In fact, Dream is not a radically different Carnival ship even if it is the first all new design carnival has made in a decade. The biggest changes are a slightly subdued decor compared to other recent Carnival ships, and a new entertainment venue called the “Ocean Bar” with outdoor seating on the promenade deck with cantilevered hot tubs close by.

Another innovation on Carnival Dream is the “Fun Hub.” These computer stations around the ship are not only internet connected but are also onboard networks for “social networking” with other cruisers. You can leave messages for people in your group or you can post messages for the whole ship to see. For example, if you brought your didgeridoo and you want to have an Aussie jam session, you can suggest that all fellow aboriginals meet you on the pool deck at 2:00.

Not to poke fun, we actually think this is one of the better ideas any cruise ship has had for a long time. We at CruiseMates have always said that what ships need is better ways for like-minded individuals to meet on ships. You could have people from your high school just down the hall and not even realize it. It is a small world, and as far as we are concerned, Carnival is just helping to make it a friendlier place – not to mention the practical aspects of such a system.


Dream offers attractive breakfast and lunch buffets, including an excellent salad bar and made-to-order dishes. For those with a sophisticated palate, the new menus feature chateaubriand, rack of lamb, and lobster, along with chocolate desserts. Delightful specialties can be found on the second tier of the Cezanne Restaurant and include the Sur Mer seafood station and an Asian food station that regularly rotates its dishes. There’s a complimentary sushi bar on the Promenade Deck in the evenings, and vegetarian and low-salt items on every menu and at all stations.


The two main dining rooms onboard are The Crimson Restaurant, midships, and the Scarlet Restaurant in the stern. Both are two decks tall with their main entrances somewhat buried on deck three. Guests have their choice of six different appetizers and soups, two salads and six entrees each night. Also, Carnival Classics selections, including char-broiled steak made with the line’s signature rub, grilled chicken and pasta dishes, along with a decadent dessert menu offering six different selections, including the cruise industry’s most popular dessert – the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake – are offered nightly.

Carnival’s Total Choice Dining provides for four seating times for a table in the Crimson Dining rooms at 5:45 or 6:15 p.m. and 8 or 8:30 p.m.. For those who prefer to dine when the mood strikes them can eat in the Scarlet Restaurant or at the poolside Lido restaurant which is offers buffet dinners between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m., no reservations required.

For those seeking more health-conscious cuisine, dining room menus feature Spa Carnival Fare selections, delicious, guilt-free items that are lower in calories, cholesterol, sodium and fat content. Vegetarian choices and children’s menus are available, as well.

There is a two-level casual eatery called The Gathering, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Culinary choices include Italian and Tex-Mex to tandoori and Asian specialties. A pasta bar will offer guests their choice of pasta, sauce and ingredients to create a custom-made dish of traditional Italian favorites such as Portobello ravioli or pasta carbonara. The Gathering will also house Carnival’s popular 24-hour pizzeria with seven kinds of pies and calzone, Caesar salad and garlic bread.

Carnival Dream’s burrito bar is also sure to be a popular spot where guests can create an overstuffed wrap featuring their choice of chicken, beef, shrimp, salsa and other accompaniments.

Also available within The Gathering will be a Mongolian wok offering custom-made stir-fries with guests’ choice of meat and vegetables and finished with one of Carnival’s signature sauces; Taste of the Nations, featuring a different international cuisine each day; a New York-style deli; a tandoori oven offering Indian-style chicken, fish and meatballs, along with traditional bread, chutneys and relishes; and a grille serving hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches.

The Gathering will also offer an extensive 35-item salad bar, 24-hour frozen yogurt, low-calorie dressings and sugar-free desserts for guests seeking healthier alternatives.

An expanded 24-hour room service menu will include new choices such as Medium Rare Roast Beef and Brie on French Baguette and Grilled Fresh Mozzarella and Portobello Mushroom on Focaccia. Room service orders are delivered to guests’ staterooms any time of the day or night at no charge.

Located along Promenade Deck will be Wasabi, a sushi bar serving complimentary sushi, as well as sake.

For those seeking a more intimate dining experience, The Chef’s Art, Carnival Dream’s steakhouse-style restaurant, will offer delectable cuisine in memorable surroundings. Located on Spa Deck 12, this 139-seat venue offers a sumptuous menu of prime dry-aged U.S.D.A. beef – selections include a nine-ounce filet, 14-ounce strip loin, 18-ounce grilled prime rib chop and 24-ounce porterhouse – along with lobster tail, lamb chops, Chilean sea bass, Maine Lobster ravioli and more. Creamed spinach, Wasabi mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and traditional sauces complete the steakhouse experience.

The delicious choices, combined with attentive service and an extensive wine list, make a meal at The Chef’s Art truly unforgettable. Reservations are recommended and there is a charge of $30 per person.

Previously exclusive to Carnival Magic but now added to Dream and also to be included on Carnival Breeze is the new Ocean Plaza, a spectacular indoor/outdoor café and entertainment venue designed for guests to relax and people watch. In addition to a dance floor and a stage featuring live entertainment, Ocean Plaza will offer full Wi-Fi access, along with 12 stand-alone kiosks where guests can access the FunHub, Carnival Dream’s comprehensive portal and exclusive on-board social network.


The staff on the Dream is prompt, well-organized, and prone to showing off, as when balancing trays on their heads while serving dessert. The maitre’d makes a point of learning the names of all couples celebrating an anniversary.


All Carnival cruises have a $10.00 per person per day (excluding children under two years of age) gratuity comprising $5.50 for the Dining Room service, $3.60 for the stateroom steward, and $.90 for the alternative dining rooms. This charge can be either automatically added to the Sail & Sign card or it can be prepaid (prepayment is mandatory on the Cruises-to-Nowhere). The purser’s desk can decrease or increase this amount throughout the cruise. Tip room service, the maitre d’, casino, spa, or other staff as you deem fit. The bar and beverage tabs all include a 15 percent gratuity to the bill.


Several new accommodation categories, including five-berth, two-bathroom staterooms especially for families, will be offered. There is also a new style of balcony cabin called the Cove Balcony located on surprisingly lower decks, below the promenade decks. These balconies are shadier than the higher ones as they are built into the hull of the ship.

The suites and ocean view staterooms come with complimentary bathrobes and a mini bar. The cabins located on the outside are 220 sq. feet and include a coffee table and plush leather sofa. The inside cabins are 195 sq. feet in area and are great for families or large groups of singles due to their pull-down berths that provide extra sleeping space. Families might prefer the 230 sq. feet cabins located next to the children’s center. All the large bathrooms include a shower (the suites are the only cabins with tubs), basket of toiletries, and hair dryer. The cabins come standard with a color TV that includes ESPN, CNN, and movies. There is plentiful storage space, with three closets and several drawers. Cabins for those of special needs are available.


The gym’s 15,000 sq.. feet is full of treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters, rowing and hydraulic weight machines, and of course free weights. The strategically placed equipment allows you to enjoy the lovely panoramic views offered by the floor-to-ceiling windows. For runners, a lap on the jogging deck, which surrounds the smokestack, is equivalent to 1/11 of a mile.


The attire on cruises became decidedly less formal at the end of the 2000’s, and now even formal nights are merely suggestions. Most men wear dark jackets and ties are optional. While jeans aren’t technically allowed in the dining room no one is going to stop you from entering. Daytime wear is strictly casual.

Ship Overview

The first of Carnival’s Dream-class vessels, Carnival Dream was launched in 2008. Only a few years old, Carnival Dream received a refurbishment in 2012 when the sushi bar was removed and it received some of Carnival’s “Fun Ship 2.0″ upgrades with new poolside bars and more entertainment options. Carnival Dream sails seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from her home port of Port Canaveral, which is conveniently within driving distance of Florida’s Orlando airport and theme parks. With the alternating weekly itineraries, it’s possible to book cruises back-to-back and not repeat a port of call.

Carnival’s Dream-class, the largest and longest ever constructed for their fleet, ushers in an exciting design concept for the line with a new layout, sleek hull, and distinctive profile. The line has made maximum use of the vessels’ added size by creating some truly spectacular onboard facilities and amenities. Unique is the Ocean Plaza, an indoor–outdoor café and live music venue with a large, circular dance floor. A massive floor-to-ceiling curved-glass wall separates the room, creating comfortable seating areas with ocean views and, in a first for Carnival, a half-mile, open-air promenade encircling the ship.

Four “scenic” whirlpools located on the promenade cantilever out over the sea and offer maximum views while you’re soaking. Higher up, the Lido deck is the most elaborate open-deck area of any Carnival ship, with a tropical, resort-style main pool complete with a Seaside Theatre LED screen; a two-level adults-only retreat (called Serenity) with comfortable seating, full bar service, and hot tubs; and a huge Carnival WaterWorks aqua park featuring one of the longest waterslides at sea. Dream-class family-friendly amenities include separate, purpose-built facilities for the line’s three distinct children’s programs, along with a full schedule of activities catering to each age group.

The world’s largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its “Fun Ship” concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line’s ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.

Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

  • 13 passenger decks
  • specialty restaurant, 2 dining rooms, buffet, café, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD (some)
  • 3 pools, children’s pool
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 10 bars, casino, 2 dance clubs, library, 2 showrooms, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • laundry facilities, laundry service
  • Internet terminal, Wi-Fi
  • no-smoking cabins


Spa staterooms and suites have exclusive amenities and spa privileges
2-bathroom staterooms are a boon for families
The lowest atrium level has a cantilevered bandstand atop a massive dance floor
Lines can be a problem everywhere, especially in the buffet at popular dining times
If the weather is bad outside, interior spaces can seem overwhelmed
Although the decor is considerably toned down from past Carnival ships, there’s still some glitz

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins


As on all Carnival ships, cabins are roomy and comfortable. More than 63% have an ocean view and, of those, 77% have balconies. New “cove” balcony staterooms, located closer to the water line, offer up-close sea views and a bit more interior space. Also new are deluxe ocean-view staterooms featuring a unique design with five berths and a two-bath configuration that includes one full bathroom and a second with a combination tub/shower and sink. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. High-quality linens, plush pillows and duvets are a luxurious touch in all accommodations. New on Carnival Breeze is a more tropical decor.

There are connecting staterooms in both ocean-view and interior categories, as well as the spacious new deluxe ocean-view staterooms.

Shampoo and bath gel are provided in shower-mounted dispensers; you also receive an array of sample toiletries, as well as fluffy towels and a wall-mounted magnifying mirror. Bathrobes for use during the cruise are provided for all.

Thirty-five staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink


Two formal restaurants serve open seating breakfast and lunch, while dinner is served in two traditional assigned seatings with an open seating option. The casual Lido buffet’s food stations offer a variety of choices (including a deli, salad bar, dessert station, and different daily regional cuisines). By night, it is transformed into the Seaview Bistro for casual dinner. The ships also have upscale steak houses that require reservations and have a cover charge. Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze have added an Italian specialty restaurant that requires reservations for dinner, when there is a cover charge, but is complimentary at lunch. Carnival Breeze also has an Asian restaurant with à la carte pricing. You’ll also find a pizzeria, outdoor poolside grills where burgers and other favorites are prepared, a specialty coffee bar with pastries, a complimentary sushi bar, and 24-hour room service that offers a limited selection of breakfast items, sandwiches, and snacks.


Dream-class ships have spirited piano bars, nightclubs, and the Ocean Plaza offering music for dancing and listening provided by musicians or a DJ. The Red Frog Pub on Carnival Magic and Carnival Breeze is a hot spot for music and pub games. Production companies and guest entertainers performing in the show lounge, comedy clubs, karaoke, and deck parties are signature nighttime activities.

Spa & Fitness

Dream-class spas cover 23,750 square feet on two decks. Included in that space are flotation and mud treatment rooms, a huge thalassotherapy pool, and thermal suite with tepidarium, laconium, Oriental and aroma steam baths, and a relaxation lounge. Although the thermal areas are only available for a fee, there are complimentary saunas and steam rooms in the men’s and women’s changing rooms.

Key cruising tips


Entered Service
Number of Cabins
Passenger Capacity
3,646(4,631 max)
Crew Members
Passengers to Crew Ratio
Gross Tons
122 feet
1,823 feet
305/599–2600 or 800/227–6482

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