We arrived in Tampa 2 days before our cruise. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Westshore. It was a very nice hotel with shuttle to port for $25 for 6 of us. We would definitely stay there again.
We were a party of 6-me, husband,23 y.o. daughter, 25 y.o. daughter,my mother, and my sister. We stayed in the garden villa 14000. One word to sum it up is amazing!!We arrived at port around 10:45 and made it through security in 10-15 minutes. After checking in and providing payment info, we were brought to special area for suite guests and introduced to our concierge Virginia. She was excellent! She gave us our key cards, we had some pastries and juice, and were escorted onto ship around 11:30. We were brought right to garden villa to leave bags and escorted to Cagney's for lunch. Everything went very smoothly.
We picked out our 6 bottles of liquor (included with garden villa) after lunch and headed straight for the sundeck. Virginia asked us if we knew where we wanted to go for dinner but we told her we were going to "play it by ear". We got a cooler full of ice and a blender from Mark, our butler, for our frozen drinks. We watched sail away from upper balcony, and wandered around the ship. (I had been on the Dawn before so I showed my mother and sister around). We saw the early show and had dinner in the Venetian. Everywhere we went we were treated like celebrities...it was kinda nice!
First sea day we spent laying in the sun on our own private sundeck! The only thing missing up there was a garbage can (gets very windy up there and cups/cans would blow all over) and a bathroom...I know, very lazy of us but it was a LONG walk across the balcony and down the stairs :-). We split up for dinner. Mom and sis went to early show (second city) while we ate in Aqua...very good food. We went to second city at 9pm and found it very amusing. (We left after 10 minutes the last time we saw them because the impromptu portion was very bad and almost left again but decided to stick it out, and were glad we did because it got much better after the first 10 minutes! My suggestion is to wait for at least 15 minutes to make a decision on this one. We really enjoyed it.) Our girls went out every night and found a bartender they loved (Chips Ahoy??) in the Pearly Kings Pub. They hung out there or Spinnakers most nights and seemed to have a good time.
day 3-We never took advantage of the "easy off" perk of the villa at the ports because we had no shores excursions booked and we couldn't get the girls up and moving much before 9. Virginia escorted us off the ship in Roatan and we told her we just wanted to do a taxi tour of the island. She brought us to a man she trusted and we got a 14 passenger van( for the 6 of us!)with a guide (Errinton) for $30 per person. They drove us around the whole island and stopped wherever we wanted for pictures, shopping, etc. We went to see the monkeys. Very fun.It was pouring rain for about 30 minutes, but the sun came out and it was beautiful after that. In fact, it seemed to pour almost every morning until 9 or 10, then the sun came out for the rest of the day.
Day 4 was Belize. The captain started out the morning by saying there was "an incident" there and we should seriously consider getting off the boat, but to not leave the gated area if we did get off. Several tours were canceled. We tendered here, which was not a problem for us because we were some of the last ones off the boat. We just shopped for a while but it was very hot, so we headed back for the villa early (my husband and girls stayed behind at the Wet Lizard drinking some local beers.)The Crown Princess and the Norwegian Star were also anchored there that day.
Day 5-Costa Maya. We were the only ship that was able to dock there today because of the rough seas (props to our captain, he is the best!!) We went to Senor Frogs and got some loungers and an umbrella and just relaxed. Older daughter did the dolphin swim and was lucky enough to go alone...lots of one on one time with the dolphins. She had a blast! It is totally worth the cost. My mother finally bought the Tanzanite ring she had looked at the previous 2 ports! Very nice. We had Teppanyaki booked for dinner tonight (another perk of the villa). The food was very good but the atmosphere was lacking a little.
Day 6-Cozumel. We took a taxi to the beach and spent another relaxing day in the sun. Me, my sister, and younger daughter rented 2 jet skis for $50/30 minutes(which is plenty of time since you are confined to a small area). We had a great time. Did some shopping in port after (best shopping of all ports in my opinion...save this one for your souvenirs...much cheaper than some of the other ports).
Day 7- sea day. Turned out beautiful so we just spent the majority of the day enjoying our private balcony and trying to finish up our 6 bottles of liquor!! So sad that we would be leaving tomorrow! A week always goes too fast on a cruise! We went to the Bollywood show tonight. It was excellent. It always amazes me to see what they can do. We finished the night packing :(.
Final day-we had arranged disembarkation at 9:30 with Virginia a couple days earlier. Mark met us promptly and escorted us to deck 7 were we met guy to bring us through customs (didn't catch his name). We were through in no time and headed to our limo for the airport (yes, another perk of the villa!).
We had an excellent time on the Dawn and the crew was wonderful. Virginia, Mark, and Mickey (our room steward-who always kept the place spotless and made the best towel animals) were very professional and attentive. We were sad to leave.