Length: 856 ft
One of the 1990s ships, smallest in the fleet, good for long, quiet voyages to faraway placesBest For People Who Want
Elegantly understated decor reminiscent of the Grand '90s, 1990s that is, before ships became floating Las Vegas theme parks. A choice between traditional or personal choice dining options, unusual shore excursions, water sports (Caribbean sailings); facilities for the disabled; outdoor movie viewing on the "biggest LED monitor you have ever seen".Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Mega-ship activities; world-class cuisine with lots of alternative dining choices; casual attire ships. To meet other singles and party.Onboard Experience
When Sun Princess floated out in 1995, it is hard to believe that at a mere 77,000 tons it was at the time the largest cruise ship in the world. It didn't take too long for that distinction to be surpassed, but in any case her beauty, especially internally, was classic enough for Princess for build three more sisters including Dawn Princess, the only other ship of this class still in the Princess fleet. Ocean Princess and Sea Princess have been relocated to Europe.Decor
You need go no farther than the marble-floored Grand Plaza atrium, with its brass staircase, to realize that a lot of luxury awaits you. Especially when the view is accompanied by a string quartet or grand pianist expertly fingering glissandi. All in all, Dawn Princess is one of the most gorgeous vessels at sea. Combining varnished hardwoods, marble, etched glass, granite, and textured fabrics, the decor juxtaposes classic and modern influences in a way that does not take your breath away, but creates a quietly pleasurable ambiance. The ships each boast a remarkable art collection valued at nearly one million dollars.Cuisine
According to the new Princess Personal Choice dining you can choose fixed seating dinners at 6:30 or 8:30 p.m. in the Regency Dining Room, or opt for making a reservation in the open seating Marquis Dining Room anytime between 5:30 and 10:00 p.m.. It matters little where ambiance and decor are concerned, both are identically furnished. The difference lies in whether you prefer the traditional cruise ship dining service of having the same team serve you for every meal, usually leading to friendlier, more interactive service as they learn to anticipate your dining preferences. The open seating option gives you the freedom to dine at the hour you choose even if it is different every night, with whom you choose. You will be seated at your own table, as at a restaurant ashore, but expect slightly less personal service than if you have the same service crew every night.
Princess has clearly improved the reputation of its food, especially in the areas of pasta and beef dishes. The Sterling Steakhouse features special cuts of Angus beef from its own celebrated brand. Passengers choose either rib-eye, New York strip, porterhouse, or filet mignon from a presentation tray, and watch -- drooling, in most cases! --- as the chef cooks it to order. Starters include chili, blooming onion, jalapeño poppers, and fresh Caesar salad, as well as the traditional baked potato or fries, sautéed mushrooms, creamed spinach, and corn on the cob. The ships’ pizzerias make your pie to order, and chances are that it will be scrumptious. Desserts are unfortunately not always the grand finale one would expect in such surroundings. Adding insult to injury, the ice cream bar levies its own charges.Restaurants
Aside from the Personal Choice Dining in the two main dining rooms, the Venetian and Florentine Dining Rooms, for those feeling a bit more casual, there are a patisserie, a hamburger and hot dog grill, a sushi bar, and a 24-hour restaurant in the Horizon court next to the pool area. And of course there is always 24-hour room service, but with a limited menu. The pizzeria seems authentically Italian. The Grill restaurant adjacent to the pool offers casual breakfast and luncheon buffet, and is partially transformed in the evening into the Sterling Steakhouse, with decorative table linen, fine cutlery and table lanterns. (Since seating is limited to 70, reservations are encouraged. The Steakhouse charges $15.00).
A gratuity of $10.00 per person per day for dining and cabin staff is automatically applied to shipboard accounts regardless of which plan you choose. Passengers may increase or reduce this amount at their whim.Service
The staff, from all over the globe, is both wonderfully personable and attentive to detail. Boarding passengers are met at each stairwell and smilingly directed or even escorted to their cabins. Turndown service with chocolates on the pillow is provided in the evening. Charmingly, wooden deck chairs with steamer blankets are available for the asking on ships bound to or from Alaska.Tipping
For dining and stateroom personnel charge, $10 per person per day (including children) is automatically added to your stateroom account, whether or not they choose traditional or restaurant-style dining. You can talk to the ship’s purser about raising or lowering this amount.
All beverage tabs automatically have a 15-percent gratuity added. In the spa and casino and with other staff, let your conscience be your guide.Entertainment
The single-story showrooms offer unobstructed views from every seat, several spaces in the back for wheelchair-users, good sound, and state-of-the-art lighting. The smaller Vista Lounge offers comfortable cabaret-style seating, while the elegant, nautical-themed Wheelhouse Bar is the perfect spot for pre- or post-dinner drinks and conversation.
Even though these ships are small by today's standards, they get an "A" for effort when it comes to the themed production shows. You won't be razzle-dazzled with pyrotechnics and laser lights, but you can walk away humming familiar show tunes or hits from your youth as you reflect upon how it used to feel to be as agile as the pas de deux dance team.
Expect a slate of individual performers such as comedians, jugglers, singers or magicians to fill in the other nights. Like most smaller ship entertainment, enjoyable for people who are not overly critical.Cabins
Tastefully finished in blond wood with pastel colored spreads, cabins are divided into some 28 categories, though in fact there are fewer than 10 real-life configurations; the category distinctions actually reflect differences in location (amidships versus aft, and so on), and thus price. More than 400 cabins on each vessel boast private, if very narrow, balconies. The ships’ most popular staterooms have 178-square-foot balconies but only 161 square feet of living space, and thus are not for the claustrophobic. Mini-suites with two rooms are among the largest at sea: 374 sq. feet, including balcony and large marble bathroom. Closet space is at a real premium in the standard outside and inside cabins.
All that noted, there’s no denying the generosity of the ships’ amenities package: color TV with movies and CNN; hair dryers; terrycloth robes; safes; mini-refrigerators; and beds that convert from twin to queen size. Three hundred cabins will accommodate third passengers in upper berths. Nineteen cabins on each vessel offer wheelchair accessibility.Fitness/Spa
A great many American towns’ chambers of commerce would love to get their hands on fitness facilities comparable to these three ships’. Indeed, from the Princess Links computerized golf simulator, which lets you virtually play the trickiest holes at the world's most famous golf courses (for a separate charge) to a separate jogging track, there aren't many athletic activities you can’t enjoy aboard.
The stunning multi-level Spa offers whirlpool, exercise equipment with personal trainer, and Steiner's salon. A splash pool on Sun Deck supplements the ships' main pool, on Riviera Deck.Attire
Seven-night cruises offer two opportunities to put on the Ritz in formal attire. Many men opt for a dark suit instead of tux while their companions prefer dressy pants to dresses. The rest of the time, think smart casual. By day, don’t even think of wearing anything other than shorts, sneakers, a polo shirt. If you want to toss in a baseball cap that's up to you, you can even turn it backwards.
My husband and I absolutely loved this cruise and will do it again in a couple of years. It was second time on the Dawn Princess we did an island south pacific cruise in October 2011. The ship was going into dry dock when we got back to Australia and needed it. The ship is looking decidedly tired and in need of a makeover.
We could not fault the service by the crew but Princess do seem to not be organised well when dealing with US immigration day for all the passengers. Princess need to have more control over passengers when these days occur and also when there are people who line up for whatever reason.
Other than that the cruise was wonderful and the ship covered all our needs, with entertainment and things to do. I did the watercolour classes and Ian enjoyed the competitions for golf etc. As we have just completed our third cruise with Princess I would like to see less of the same people who entertain, and some are below standard.
We have had the same comedian on all cruises and he not that good, and hestates the same jokes for at least half his routine. The shows are great by the dancers and singers but again they need a bit more of a change as we have seen some twice and as we would like to do more Princess cruises would like to know we get variation. This also applies to the movies in the theatre, more variety and more up todate would be good as I do not see many back home and this is one of my things I enjoy on the cruise.
Will probably go with Princess again due to coming out of Sydney so much but will also look at some of the others for a change. Library was good, internet expensive and naturally depending on signal can be a pain, deck chairs need an upgrade some very grubby and old looking, clean otherwise on ship, and most service was great.
28 day cruise around Australia. It was a nursing home at sea. All old people. Very boring for young and middle age people. everything was for the older people. If you like to have fun and stay up late don't go because everything shuts down early. Very boring bands also.
Wanted to start off by saying that this was our first cruise, so I have no basis of comparison.
My husband and I just returned recently from our seven-day trip to the Mexican Riviera aboard the Dawn Princess. I had read some negative stuff on the boards about this smaller ship and I have to admit I was a bit nervous about how our cruise would turn out. However, we had a fantastic time and the trip exceeded our expectations!
Cabin We selected an unobstructed ocean view room at the VERY front of the ship (Dolphin deck). The location was not ideal for several reasons: long walk to and from elevators/stairs, lots of movement when the ship hit rough water, noisy when we entered and left each port. The room itself was perfectly comfy. Good size, lots of closet space, comfy bed. I loved having a vanity by the window. The comforter needed to be replaced (a bit faded), but the rest of the room was in tip-top shape.
Food The dining room was delish and definitely went above and beyond expectation. The only night I did not enjoy was Italian night asI thought the food a bit bland (my "fiery prawns" weren't spicy at all). Other than that, each dish was splendid and I now have an appreciation for chilled soup. Each dinner is five course (appetizer, soup, salad, entrée, and dessert) and you will walk away stuffed.
The Horizon Court Buffet was disappointing, but we only ate breakfast and lunch there. We've been to many buffets and this was not up to snuff, however, I did manage to find something each meal to enjoy. The pile of lox at breakfast was a definite highlight as was the fresh fruit. The hash brown "pucks" were just plain odd tasting. Not sure that they were actual potatoes… But overall, it's hard to mess up eggs, bacon and oatmeal. Lunch was unspectacular and the so-called sushi served at one meal was pretty dreadful. I do have to say that I was thrilled to find that I enjoyed the coffee.
We ate at the Sterling Steakhouse one night ($15 ea. cover charge) and we were not disappointed! HUGE, perfectly cooked cuts of steak. We each had a 17 oz. rib eye, but the cuts went from a petite fillet all the way up to a 22 oz. porterhouse that was massive. Delicious chocolate pecan pie!
We ordered pizza the last night of the cruise from La Scala and weren't impressed. The pizza was thin and bland. Not what we expected.
Ate once at the Balcony Grill -- pretty basic cheeseburger and fries.
Drinks OK, here is where you will want to keep your cruise card in check. Drinks are pricey ($4.75-$7.00 for mixed/blended drinks) and rather weak. The massive pina colada I had the last day of the cruise was more fruit smoothie than drink. I did enjoy a rather good lemon drop in the Atrium Bar, however and I heard their Bloody Marys were to die for. Next time I am buying a very reasonably priced bottle from room service and making my own drinks.
Activities Fun show ("Piano Man") and the performances were good. We frequented the nickel slots in the casino most nights. During the day, we just lazed around the pool or enjoyed excursions and didn't participate in bingo or trivia. There is always next trip…
Miscellaneous The photos are spendy ($25 for one 8x10) and some of the backdrops did not photograph well IMO (the plain blue and plain white seemed to wash people out), but we did buy one photo of each formal night (one Titanic backdrop and one on the stairs). If you have the time and are inclined, get your pic taken at each stop so you can pick and choose your favorites.
The onboard shops are not open during port time, so if you run out of sunscreen, need some Pepto, or want to buy a hat, don't expect to do it on the ship. I did not find the fragrance or cosmetic prices to be any better than in the US (but, they were sales tax free).
Overall The ship is in great shape and the service was excellent (Adel, our cabin steward, was awesome)! The fabulous food in the dining room far made up for the lack of excitement of the buffet. No, we didn't have a rock wall, mini golf, or a massive tropical pool, but we had a blast and are definitely looking forward to our next cruise. Princess treated us very well and we will definitely be cruising with them next time.