I shall try not to be too negative as we always have a great time on a cruise, but the standards on the Dawn Princess were nowhere near what we have experienced in the past on ships that are US based. We have done 8 cruises and this one would rank no 8. I can assure you that the ship is a long way from the standards on the Rhapsody! And is a LONG way below the Diamond Princess and the Carnival ships we have been on.
The cruise was the 42 day Cherry Blossom Cruise - Sydney to Sydney. We picked up the ship in Shanghai for our 23 day cruise as we did a Helen Wong tour of China pre cruise. (That was sensational and would thoroughly recommend) We were so glad that we did the tour as we had the best group on the tour and we all got on extremely well. That was such an advantage when we got on-board as the age group on the ship were very old. I should add that we are no spring chickens either at 58 and 62 but we were the young ones! We have learnt that the longer the cruise, the older the passengers are. Also Syd to Syd meant no air for the older folks. We had to medevac a patient by helicopter and the staff did a wonderful job and saved the mans leg from having to be amputated. There were also quite a few off loaded in ports for medical reasons which was shame for them. I hope they have all recovered enough to get home.
The activities reflected the age group and was very low key and lacked variety. The entertainment was very poor and we hardly ever went to the shows. Most shows were repeated for 2 days so we were able to find out if the show was any good before we went. The ship's entertainers were not as professional as we have seen previously. I started a 3 part photography course but part 3 didn't happen!!!
Food in the dining room was very good to excellent but the buffet was ordinary. Breakfast never changed. The grill had good burgers and hot-dogs, and it was a pity they didn't have a deli for a plain old sandwich!
The cabins were smaller than we have had before and the bedding- well, the mattress sagged and the pillows were a disgrace. The bathroom was tiny.
On the plus side, as on any cruise, we couldn't fault the staff. They were just lovely and they would have been dudded by most of the passengers as it seemed that everyone spoke quite openly that they had taken off the auto tipping from their account. The currency on-board is in Aus $'s which was cheaper than the US based ships and we were able to bring on 2 bottles of wine each and a few beers at every port with no problems at all.
The Ports of call were great. Shanghai is a must see as well as any of the Japanese ports, Nagasaki, Osaka and Yokahama. Pusan was good also. Some of the smaller island ports, Saipan, Guam and Chuuk were very interesting and Rabaul was fantastic as the volcano put on a great show for us and was erupting and showering the ship with ash. There were also a lot of veterans on-board who loved the commentary of the historic war fields.
We still had a great time and met some wonderful people, many of whom were our cruise critic mates. We are wiser and wish that Princess treated the Aussie market the same way that they do their US passengers.