We are a family of 4 - 17 year old son and 14 year old girl. This was our 4th cruise. First cruise was 3 yrs ago on board Celebrity Mercury - from Vancouver to Alaska, then we did 1 day on Sapphire Princess from Seattle to Vancouver in Sept 2005, 7 day Mex. Rev. on Sapphire Princess March 2006 and a 1 day Vancouver to Seattle on board Dawn Princess on May 12th.
We had about 24 friends who joined us on this one day cruise and met up with other fellow Cruise Critic members as well.
We got to Canada Place around 11:45 am and the line moved relatively quickly until we actually had to check in with Princess agents to receive our cabin keys etc. We had inexperienced agents.. in fact, there appeared to be quite a few new or in training agents. Hence, the lines got longer as they took a while to process each family.
Once on board, we dropped off our baggage and headed off to lunch. The layout of the buffet on board Dawn Princess was better than Sapphire..at least most people were coming in from 1 direction as opposed to different directions. We found the dining room for buffet area cosy.. but filled up quickly. There was no overflow space like Sapphire princess, where they allowed you to go into one of their restaurants.
Food was satisfactory. Nothing fancy. Fruits and salad were great. Hot foods were lukewarm. Service was not up to par. Our son forgot to get ketchup and asked one of the attendants for ketchup. The attendant pointed to where it was and walked away. On board Sapphire for both our previous 1 day ad 7 day cruise, the attendant would have got it for our son.
Ship is smaller than Sapphire, so it did not take long to walk from one end of the ship to the other.
We booked a balcony room- found the balcony smaller than Princess and wondered who designed the washrooms - especially the door and the toilet. They need to revisit the design of the washrooms. Plenty of closet space.
Our stateroom attendant was friendly and was confused as we moved some kids around the different cabins, but in the end, he understood what we were trying to accomplish.
Muster drill went quickly in the Vista lounge.
We opted for traditional 1st seating dinner. We had 3 tables cross referenced to each other and since they were all practically next to one another, you would think that it would not matter if we sat wherever we wanted as we were all friends. But no, our waiter made a big fuss about this and insisted that we all sat where we were assigned. This meant splitting our family- they had my daughter sitting at one table, my son at another and my husband and I at another table. Normally, our kids would not care if they were separated from us, but they did want to sit with their friends. We stood firm and chose to sit together and ignored him while he ran off to the Maitre d' to complain. Maitre d' came over and we explained to him that we were all friends and should be able to mix up the seating order as long as everyone had a seat. We also had 2 birthdays to celebrate. In the end, the Maitre d' relented and left us to choose where we wanted to sit. By this time, I had already lost my appetite and no longer interested in what our waiter had to offer. I ordered the fish, which was dreadful.. overcooked and tasteless. The appetizer - some kind of lobster/seafood cold patte was equally disappointing. The salad which was supposed to be watercress salad, turned up to be one huge uncut lettuce, with a sprinkle of watercress. Another disaster - we all simply stared at this salad, took one or 2 bites of it and left it.
Those who ordered prime rib and steak fared better. Dessert was okay. Food wise - overall - disappointing. Sapphire's 1 day cruise in Sept. was much better. Not sure if the quality of food and service is typical of Dawn princess or was it because it was a 1 day cruise. We had been on Sapphire Princess on both 1 day and 7 day cruise and found our food and overall on board experience to be a lot better than Dawn Princess.
If this 1 day cruise on board Dawn Princess was our first cruising experience with Princess, we would have never sailed Princess again. Dawn Princess needs to revisit their food selection and provide additional customer care training to their staff if they would like people to continue sailing with them. We will sail with Princess again, but not Dawn Princess, nor will we recommend Dawn Princess to family and friends.
Entertainment - the Piano man - this would be our 3rd Piano man - but different cast. We were there to see one of the daughters of a fellow Cruise Critic perform.. overall enjoyable. We also went to see the comedian at Vista Lounge - pretty good as well.
Disappointed that the casino was not operational because of some regulations.
Teen club was a disappointment for our 14 yr old and her 15 yr old friend. They would not allow them to join even though there were only 4 others, because they could not find us to sign a release form. Our 17 yr old son who was his best friend who had just turned 18 were both not allowed to join either. Needless to say, both our children were not impressed! So, if teen kids are not allowed into teen club and they are too young for the casino (if it was opened) and for the disco, what are they supposed to do on board? Our kids told us if this had been a 7 day cruise, they would have screamed to get off this ship!!!
Disembarkation was smooth. .we looked forward to getting off the ship to begin a day of shop till you drop in downtown Seattle and the outlets and malls along I5 as we drove back to Vancouver. We opted to rent a car from Budget to drive back from Seattle to Vancouver as opposed to taking tne Quick shuttle back. This proved to be an excellent alternative as it allowed us to stop wherever and whenever we wanted. We eventually made it home to Vancouver around 11 pm, after leaving the Port at 10 am. Oh yes..it took awhile to get in touch with Budget to tell them we were at port and had to be picked up. But once we connected with them, they came to pick us up promptly and processed our car rental quickly. We even had an upgrade - we had booked an economy car, but ended up with a 7 seater SUV- brand new Suzuki XL - so that was a bonus!
Overall, a disappointing experience on board Dawn Princess. But the week end was salvaged by the unexpected upgrade in car rental and the shopping trip. It ended up being a successful shopping trip.
Would we do a 1 day sailing again.. yes we will, but not on board Dawn Princess for any sailing.