I wrote before that I was not impressed with the breakfast buffet on the Carnival Dream (text link). Truth be told, I was not particularly impressed with the buffet at any time of day, and I generally preferred the buffet on the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas (opens new tab to a Galveston Cruise Reviews video). However, vacation involves a series of tradeoffs. While I did not enjoy the buffet, on balance the Carnival Dream free lunch options were great. Carnival just sets things up differently. Where Royal had a huge buffet and a couple of other free options, Carnival provided more free options in smaller restaurant spaces.
The easiest option on the Dream was, indeed, the buffet. I didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t bad. Instead, the same options appeared at more than one station. As a couple of points the lines pointed in toward one another. That made the buffet extremely difficult to navigate. The buffet was fine, but there were definitely options I preferred.
So what to do if the buffet is crowded and you don’t care for the options? The Main Dining Room (MDR) is open for lunch on sea days. Please check the schedule to see exactly which dining room is open on a given day. However, they offer a brunch format with both breakfast and lunch dishes. You have waiter service to your table. It takes longer than going to the buffet, but I preferred those options.
What about the smaller restaurants?
There are also a series of small restaurants on the Carnival Dream which do not charge for lunch. My favorite of those is where I ate on embarkation day. Guy’s Pig and Anchor Barbecue was, surprisingly, excellent. I am a Texan with particular barbecue tastes, and I didn’t think it would be good. I was wrong. Somehow, even greens with turkey were great. Who knew?
There were also a series of options on the pool deck (Deck 10). The Blue Iguana had free tacos and burritos. Those options were sometimes a little weird, but they tasted good and the salsa bar (pre-COVID) was excellent. Guy’s Burgers was great, although you will want to get there before the lunch rush hits. The pizzeria was very good. It was free if you waited in line, and it cost $5 to have them deliver a pizza elsewhere on the ship. There was also a pasta bar above the buffet.
Please don’t get me wrong. The Carnival Dream buffet was fine. However, where Carnival adds real value for cruisers is in the other options they have available. They are delighted to take your money at one of the extra fee restaurants, but there is no need to do that if you don’t care to. Happy sailing!