This was our seventh cruise altogether, and our third on Princess. The other Princess ships were the Golden and the Regal.
The size of the Dawn made her easy to get around. We had an exceptionally, almost boringly, smooth sailing.
Just a few observations:
We found the food in the dining room average to very good. Most outstanding were all of the shellfish appetizers and main courses, both lunch and dinner. Meat tended to be overcooked, and we learned to ask for it "rare" instead of our usual "medium rare" to get it to be served the right way. We had a fixed, early dining. Our servers were outstanding, the best we have ever had on any of our cruises. They automatically brought our table serving platters full of extras of the popular choices, such as scampi and lobster. And yes, the lobster tails were small, but plentiful, and I personally (shamefully) admit to consuming six of them!
the production shows were good, but not great. I did not go to any comic shows, so I cannot comment on those. Except for the first night, we could always get seats, even coming in the last minute. (and our cruise was completely full).
I felt there could have been more and better activities on sea days. There was a noticeable absence of any cultural or environmental lectures, or any lectures not pertaining to shopping! And speaking of shopping, I felt this ship had the worst of any of our cruises, both selection and prices. They were selling the usual $10 shawls and purses for $15, and even at the last sea day sale in the dining room, they were still pricing them at $15 (and unless you had read the small print in the Patter for this sale and pointed it out to them at check out, you got charged $15 at checkout, not the advertised $10).
I missed the variety of the alternative entertainment found on the Golden, and even on the comparably sized (to Dawn) Regal. On both those ships, we found our favorite piano bars and singers, but not on this one.
Re THE COFFEE CARD, good news, IF YOU ASK, on DECK FIVE only, you can get unlimited brewed coffee without punches or charges as long as you have a card. And they have increased the variety of specfialty coffees available for a punch to carmel machatto (sp?), vanilla or white chocolate lattes, etc., all very nice. Also, this particular coffee bar opened at 6;30 AM, very much appreciated by this extremely early riser.
We often had to walk through the pizzeria to get to our stateroom, and everything smelled wonderful. However, when we finally tried some pizza, it was quite average. We only did the buffet a couple of times (for lunch). One sea day it was poor variety and taste (in our opinion), and the following sea day it was quite good.
Would I go on the Dawn again? Absolutely for the right price, but mostly because I live in San Diego, and this winter the Dawn leaves from my home port. If I were incurring the expense and inconvenience of flying, I would probably pick another ship.
Ellie, welcome back, and thank you for your very comprehensive and objective review. I chuckled at your description of a ..."almost boringly, smooth sailing." I, too, like a little wave action--makes me feel like I"m on a ship instead of a floating resort.
Inconsistency is a word that seems to be coming up a lot when describing Princess cuisine lately--not only ship to ship, but even on the same ship. I don't know how it can be so good at times and so averge at other times.
I'm sorry you were dissapointed with the activities and the shopping. We don't have much to do with either so it was nice to hear an objective view.
I agree with you about wanting to try some different cruise lines and ships, but Princess is just so darned convenient for us living in Southern California--and I really haven't been that dissapointed with anything about Princess to push me away--yet.
So, glad you are back safe and sound and had a good cruise.
Welcome back, it seems like all in all you had a good time. Sorry to hear the food wasn't that good. We had excellent food on the Dawn. I love the sun class ships, but it sounds like you enjoyed the Grand class ships more. There are more ammenities on the Grand class ships, but I enjoy the feel of the sun class ships. And they are much easier to navigate. I'm also glad to hear you'd sail Princess again.
Can't wait to see what you book next! Best wishes and Happy Holidays!
Thanks, everyone, for your warm welcome back comments. Penny, I did not mean to give the impression the food was not good. The big weakness was in the beef and lamb dishes. The rack of lamb, beef wellington, and prime rib were all disappointing (been better on Carnival and other Princess ships). All shellfish was superb, and most fish was quite good. And of course I am going to still cruise on Princess. We are booked on a 16 day South America/Antarctica on the Star rt from Buenos Aires Feb. 19. After that cruise is over, I may regret the "almost boringly smooth" comment I made about our Dawn trip!
Hi Ellie. A couple of questions for you if you don't mind. We are booked on the Dawn for 3/23/08 sailing from San Diego. Someone told me that the balcony rooms have some sort of protective cowling because the ship is also used for Alaska sailings, so views might be somewhat obstructed. I hadn't heard that, but said I would check here for a definitive answer.
Also, did you do any of the jungle canopy adventures in Puerto Vallarta, or talk with anyone that did? We are concerned about what type of physical shape we would have to be in to participate. We are sixtyish grandparents, but not quite to the rocking chair stage yet.
Papa Bear, I am afraid I cannot be of help to you, though I wish I could. We had an obstructed ocean view, as did our friends, and we have no knowledge of the balcony covering or lack thereof. Also, none of us did the canopy adventure, but I have read on another site that people loved it. I am in my 60s, and my husband is 72, and we felt we were not up to ziplining, as both of us have back and neck problems. However, if you do not have those problems, I think it would be a fabulous experience.
Hi Papa Bear; I don't think Ellie will mind if I throw in a little info. here--maybe not "definitive", but hopefully helpful. Yes, the views on the Sun Class ships, including Dawn Princess, are somewhat obstructed when compared to the "open" balconies on the Grand Class and the other large Prinacess ships. If you look closely at photos of Dawn Princess, you will see that the balconies are recessed into the superstructure where the balconies on the larger ships extend out from the superstructure. This has several consequences: the balconies on the Sun Class ships have more privacy, more protection from the elements, and yes, a slightly reduced field of view. This is in no way an obstructed, or even partially obstructed view: just a slightly narrower field of view; and I think the advantages far outweigh this slight disadvantage.
As to the canopy adventure, we begged off because we are also sixtyish grandparents, and were concerned about the physical demands (even though we did the cloud forest botannical walk in Kona this year); but were told by other sixtyish grandparents that it was "great, and we should have gone for it." I leave it to your judgment.
Oh, I see Ellie answered while I was composing: so I hope my reply will be of help.