Not sure where all the bad reviews have been coming from regarding the Dawn. First let me say we were suite passengers so received several VIP perks such as priority boarding, breakfast and lunch in Cagney, etc. Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship and in our rooms within 30 minutes after arriving at the port.
Day 1: We did not leave the port until 7:30. There was a health inspection in the morning and a problem with the tug boat/barge when they arrived to push us off. We missed our 4:30 deadline for departure and had to wait for incoming commercial traffic as there is only room for one ship leaving Tampa. As a result the sail away party was apparently cancelled. It was great last year on the Star with all the ship's dancers taking part on the pool deck. Our room was a bit smaller than expected although the balcony and bathtub were great. Opening night production was a bit of a disappointment. Majority rules game show was very funny.
Day 2: At Sea. Played team trivia which was fun. Band on the Run was pretty good. Dancers were a bit risqué for my 12 year old daughter. I was not wowed by the musical entertainment from the singers or dancers all week. Production values and singing ability were a level below what I am used to but they were all decent. Assistant cruise director Luz performed an amazing Tina Turner tribute show but it should have been performed in the Stardust theatre vs. the Spinnaker lounge. She was a better singer than anyone in the main troupe.
Day 3: Roatan - took the Victor Bodden tour to his zipline, zoo tour, and then bannaramma on the west end. Good tour-the zipline was one of the favorites I have taken. 2nd City in the ballroom which I just don't get. Not very funny at all to me. May be a personal taste.
Day 4: Belize - it was raining an we struck a deal for a horse and buggy tour of the city. Very interesting. Variety show was pretty much a disappointment as the troupe doesn't really have the talent or production values of other cruise lines or the cruise I took on the Star last year. Dancing with the Dawn Stars was one of the highlights of the cruise. Very funny and entertaining.
Day 5: Costa Maya - my favorite port - lot's of fun to take a cab downtown and hang out on the beach. The further you walk down the beach the cheaper everything gets. We purchased a massage on the beach for 3 for $15 each. Good deals on shopping and the locals are not super aggressive. Several of the bars offer free Skype phone calls home. El tropicale in particular is owned by Steve from Texas. Duo deja vue was the nightly show which is an amazing acrobatic duo. White Hot party was rained out after about an hour. 2nd City was back for a lousy show in the Spinnaker lounge.
Day 6: Cozumel: We took a cab to Playa Mia which was a good resort. $65 per adult and $35 for our daughter for unlimited food and booze. Nice resort. We negotiated a 2 person parasail rid for $100 near the end of the day which was fantastic. Good shopping in Cozumel. Show was the comedian Rick Starr and he was pretty good. Liar, Liar in the Spinnaker was good also.
Day 7: At sea :Bollywood was probably the best show we saw. 2nd city did another crappy show and then hosted the Quest game show which was very funny and very adult. Good weather coming back to Tampa.
Overall Impressions: The ship was very clean and the staff was friendly. Paul did a nice job as cruise director. Very likable and funny. Most of the shows I liked most at the Spinnaker were hosted by him. Our butler Lazaro did a great job also. Our hostess at Cagneys (Carmen I believe) became our default concierge as Luis was not as quite on top of things as on concierge was last year but he was OK also. Our daughter is gluten free and vegetarian in her diet. After a rocky start, Luis who is Maitre de in Versailles, paved the way for us to provide her with a good menu.
We ate in Versailles almost every night around 5:20 and were able to make the 6:30 show without desert. We would come in late the evening b4 and preorder for my daughter. The food was OK overall with a couple of highlights and a few disappointments. ( almost unedible prime rib was at the top of the list of disappointments). Cagneys was always good. Did not eat much in the Garden Café but the food quality really fell off later in the evening. Bar-b-qs on the pool deck were good. My daughter enjoyed the kids club very much.
We negotiated a good price on this cruise for a suite. We enjoy the extra perks from having a suite. While I was disappointed with some aspects of this cruise I feel like we received good value. Disembarkation was a breeze and we were on the road home by 9:30. The ship had earlier experience problems with disembarkation by picking up addition passengers in Cozumel. In talking to others I believe the overall cruise industry is in a state of decline and they are cutting corners everywhere they can. Not sure Norwegian is better or worse than the rest.