My wife and I booked the family suite with balcony on the Dawn for a Western Caribbean Cruise. The room was excellent. It is a little over 400sq feet plus an ample balcony with two lounge chairs. The room is in the refurbished section of the ship. Therefore, the bathroom was completely redone with double sink, full shower with rain and hand held jets and a full tube. Very nice bathroom.
The living area is spacious for two people. We liked the open plan of the room. It can be divided, but since there were only two of us traveling, we left the room open at all times. A nice dining area and living room seating for four round out the room. Large screen T.V and Keurig style coffee system were also nice additions to the room.
Service was good. We typically don't use the butler or concierge too often since our vacations our self-directed. However, they are their if you need them. Mario our steward was excellent in promptly and thoroughly cleaning the room. He also made excellent towel animals.
While the room was excellent, there is some room for improvement on the Dawn. We dined most days at Cagney's for breakfast. The food was always good. We had four dinners in the specialty restaurants and they were also very good. However, the main dining rooms, Venetian and Aqua, were disappointing. Food was generally overcooked. This was the first time I've seen someone burn Gnocchi and serve it in that condition. While service in both restaurants was prompt, a little quality control is in order.
Entertainment was also hit and miss. Main stage entertainment was your typical faux Broadway style shows. If you like off Broadway song and dance shows, this is the place for you. NCL needs to book more talented solo and duo acts and less big budget style shows. I suspect they costs would be similar to their current entertainment budget, but higher in quality. The best act on the ship was a R&B group Impac. Spot on Commodores, Stevie Wonder, Billy Paul, etc. You saw their show in two venues and both were excellent. These guy deserved a main stage show in lieu of the Vegas style Greg London show.
We only did one plan excursion to Roatan since we had done this cruise before with our kids. The South Beach break was nice if you like to lay in the sun, have a little lunch and lay in the sun some more. That was our objective and the resort fulfilled our expectations. Shopping in Costa Maya and Cozumel was good. Prices were reasonable and, of course, negotiable. If you are looking for a $10 sombrero this is the place for you.
We did not see much of cruise director Candi. In comparison to other cruise directors I would rate her on the lower end of the scale. Embarkation and Disembarkation were very smooth. NCL does an excellent job in this regard. Overall, The room, weather and specialty restaurants were the highlights of the cruise. A little more attention to the complimentary restaurants and entertainment is in order. This was our first cruise in December, and our first cruise out of Tampa. Definitely an older cruise crowd. The free dining rooms are filled by 5:45 p.m. and watch out for scooters and walkers in the hallways. We actually saw two older guys racing their Rascal style scooters.