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Age: mid-30's


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Dawn Princess

Sailing Date: October 21st, 2005

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

This is a review of the Dawn Princess from the point of view of a mother of a 2-year-old, first-time cruise passenger, and a professor. This ship is really not recommended for parents of young children - or people with particular cultivation.

I took this cruise with my husband, my little boy, and my husband's parents in honor of my father-in-law's 70th birthday.

We had high expectations: the Dawn Princess is ostensibly 5-star, my father-in-law had done some research and found this to be a fairly luxurious ship with plenty of good reviews, and our travel agent assured us that it would be suitable for a 2-year-old: they would provide a crib, the staff are generally in love with small children; she had gone on cruises with her children and parents at the same time, and the children get a lot of love and attention from their grandparents, etc.

The cruise turned out to be entirely unsuitable in so many ways. The general feeling upon arriving was that we were being hustled. When we went to the cafe for lunch, we were approached by staff: for $39, you can buy this coke-branded thermos and drink all the soft drinks you like. The staff at the gym was hawking a menu of offerings. At dinner, the waiters were insistent on selling wine although we did not wish to drink wine. "You can buy a bottle, and we'll hold it back there for you even if you only want one glass each meal." The ship had a gallery of photos for sale of all the passengers taken at various times by ship photographers. These taken together really cheapened the experience for us. We would have gladly paid the extra not to be hawked. What can they earn from these things on average per passenger? $250?

The boat seemed cheaply built and the fit and finish were worn around the edges in unpleasant ways. It rather surprised us to see those white injection-moulded plastic chairs everywhere - on cabin balconies and even the deck chairs around the pool. The restaurants were the exception: the furniture and decor was pretty nice there.

The staff were very helpful and cheerful, but nothing like a fine hotel. We asked for one of the beds to be removed from the room because it was simply too crowded with the crib and they did so but only when we got to the first port.

It turned out that there was simply no quiet place on the ship: our room shook with the announcements every 15 minutes of the tender leaving for Catalina - this from early in the morning to mid-afternoon - making it impossible for our little boy to nap. The reading room was a thoroughfare. The gym had musak which the staff declined to turn off even when I was the only one there.

There are many other aspects that I feel embarrassed to pile upon these. The overarching impression was cheap and uncomfortable. We didn't last beyond the first port. We paid $2700 for our little family of 3, and when we were told it would be an additional $300 per person to abandon the cruise while still in the USA, we *still* felt it worthwhile to walk away after 24 hours and spend the remaining 9 days somewhere pleasant.

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