Having just returned yesterday from the Dream I thought I'd give a brief overview of our experience.
Friends had booked a year prior to boarding and wanted us to join them, so with a couple of months to go we took a look at the price and felt it was very reasonable for what we are getting working out to around just over £100pppn all inclusive.
Flight - Tui operating a Canadian airline (Sunwing), the flight was on time an very comfortable for the short 2hr 20min flight.
Within an hour of landing we were on the ship having drink and an early lunch, luggage was in our cabin within an hour of embarking, very efficient.
The ship (exterior) - First impressions left me slightly apprehensive as there were clear ageing signs such as rust spots on the hull etc also on the open decks again signs of age an corrosion albeit these were under maintenance constantly which was good to see and did not impact on our overall experience, in addition we subsequently found out that the ship is in for a refurb in February.
The ship (Internally) - We found to be very well maintained spotlessly clean and very acceptable, another plus was that all entertainment venues (Broadway show lounge, Tides, Medusa and Watersedge etc) were all on deck 8 this took away the constant up and down stairs lifts etc encountered on other ships, I would also imagine this is a plus for those with disabilities.
Entertainment - Broadway show lounge was where most of the production shows took place twice nightly 20:30 and 22:30, I'm not one for this particular type of show however with friends decided to attend several shows over the two weeks, shows ranging from Dancing Queen to Broadway Musicals, I must say we're very well performed and professional, but as I say not all my taste but that's just a personal opinion, the guest act on the first week was comedian Tank Shearman who I enjoyed the main reason was he was funny without the need to swear or be smutty etc this was also the same in his late show, another comedian was on the second week who's name unfortunately slips my mind however not very impressed and he did get a bit to close the the edge with children onboard.
Medusa lounge - I must admit not much time spent here either but this is where most of the family shows take place most of which are game shows based on those from the TV, these were very popular with those with young families and appeared to be full to capacity every night, in between the resident band Musik unlimited could be found singing a variety of different sets and were very good.
Tides bar - This is where our party tended to locate before and after the shows, one of our party is an autistic 12 year old boy who formed a lovely bond with Tom & Maris the resident singers, most nights he was invited up to sing and dance with them and was always greeted with genuine affection, this can also be said about the waiting, bar staff and fellow passengers.
Tom & Maris without doubt are probably the best onboard act I've seen on any ship, not just because of the warm welcomes but their genuine and wide ranging singing talents.
Watersedge - This is where the casino and late night entertainment occurs, this again is very well attended and music goes on until the early hours either in the form of the resident band or the disco, spent several late nights there's and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, I think it also needs to be said that although Marella is now fully AI I personally never came across any unruly behaviours, yes there were a few worse for wear but all in good humour and spirits.
Food and drink - The buffet restaurants were found on both poolside decks 9 & 11 serving both a wide ranging choice of hot and cold foods, from basics such salads to burgers, pizzas chips etc to fresh carved meats every day, in addition there was also omelette stations and more especially for the kids fresh ice cream which was help yourself.
Drinks menu was very good with a large variety of choice, however there was an upgrade option of £50pp a week if required and that would have included the whole selection of premium brands such a grey goose gin for example, but I didn't see the need as the AI list was more than adequate and also covered speciality coffees etc.
The MDR (Orion) restaurant was on deck 4 this opened for all meal times for breakfast, lunch and dinner all of which is open dining.
Our party only used this in the evening this was excellent, having sailed on Discovery 3 years ago I was apprehensive as the choice on there was very limited, however I needn't of worried the food choice was fantastic a choice of around 6 meals per course, if for any reason nothing suited there was the always available menu offering seared chicken, pasta and fish dishes etc nothing was to much trouble and I dear say if you wanted something other than offered it would've been got for you.
Crew - Again I will make the comparison with Discovery chalk and cheese, Discovery we waited and waited for service, the complete opposite on the Dream in fact we rarely needed to order they saw the glasses were getting low and simply brought the drinks over, similarly in the buffet, empty plate were taken away promptly.
I won't go in to detail regarding itinerary as most of the ports were standard across the Med which most would of been too these including Palma, Trapani, Monaco, Sorrento, Palamos, Toulon, Cititaveccia etc, etc.
The highlight being Monaco where we were treated to late night fireworks display, we moved from our originally anchored position and re-anchored closer to the action for a full twenty minute display which was absolutely incredible.
So in summary, I am aware that Marella,Tui or Thomson as they are known do receive a lot of mixed reviews and I dear say justifiably so in some cases, but I can only speak from my experience and I'd go back in a shot on the Dream.
Any questions feel free to ask.