Embarkation...We arrived at the port relatively early as we live only an hour away, arriving at 11 am the slowest part was parking, it took 25 minutes to get into the garage and the fees for parking are outrageous at 20.00 per day. DW and friends waited for me to park so we could enter through security together, walked right up to the counter and had our sign and sail card within minutes then upstairs to a large room to wait, after a few minutes they started the boarding process and inside of 20 minutes we were receiving our champagne and heading for our rooms.
Rooms........... Rooms were ready early as there was no cruise prior to our sailing due to the unfortunate electrical problem from the now infamous black Friday breakdown, rooms were clean but it seemed that things were not quite up to the Dawn's usual standards. Very little ice in bucket, Ice in wine bucket nearly melted, no room stewards to be found, finally after a few hours we called room service for ice,Life boat drill the usual deal but they seemed to move it along nicely. Luggage, one piece arrived very early and we had it put away before the life boat drill, the other 2 pieces arriving after sail away
Sail Away.........We went on deck to Bimini bar and grill for sail away, met a few CCer's for a cocktail. We were the last of 4 ships to leave port then back to the cabin to put away luggage, DW say's she is not on vacation till luggage is unpacked and stowed away Exploring the ship.. Basically wondered the ship from stem to stern and top to bottom, happened upon Jose from Jose and Patti and chatted for a little while as he was setting up his sound system ( first day back on the Dawn), requested a song for our friends celebrating their 35th anniversary and he was more than happy to dedicate to them. Later that evening he waited for my cue and sang Unchained Melody for them as they danced she cried. Perfect!!! First sea day spent relaxing and pigging out, Had a wonderful turnout with our Meet and Greet, of 104 persons registered 86 made it to meet the officers. then later went to listen to all the wonderful entertainment, we were torn the whole cruise between listening to Jose and Patti, Bernie Martini, and Tim Dion who had a fantastic voice and played acoustical guitar, so many great performers it pretty much kept us out of the casino Samana, cant offer any insight here as we stayed on the boat and relaxed on the relatively empty ship, dined at Cagney's for lunch and got hooked on the crab cakes again. had the sliders and they were tasty but a bit too much bread, Cagney fries and the Banana creme pie were delicious. Tortola....Ok off the ship today, Caught a cab to Brewers bay, what a beautiful beach much like Megan's bay in St Thomas, Great snorkeling from the beach and a snack bar with frozen drinks, beer and more, Met another man snorkeling who gave me dog biscuits to crumble underwater and attract fish. Later on board we had dinner at Impressions which was perfect, then on to the entertainment, first a stop to see Jose and Patti, stopped by to hear Bernie Martini's tribute to Sinatra, then on to the Liars Club game show, not to be missed, a physical spin on a couples game show. Heading back to the room we spent a while listening to Bernie.
Antigua...... Another do nothing day, just got off the ship and did some shopping, then to Cagney's for lunch with friends and dinner at Salsa's Margaritas were small so DW drank them all LOL...Same bar hopping for entertainment.
St Lucia..... Chartered a private catamaran tour with Serenity, only 20 people and the cost was only 55.00 per person, sailed along the coast to the Piton's then back to a nice beach for snorkel swimming and lunch, then a tour of Marigold bay and back to the ship, Being a macho guy i said I did not need sunscreen,, BIG MISTAKE!!! got fried, our room steward call me tomato man,,,Dinner an Cagneys then off to Second City, not really our taste as you really need to be a Saturday Night Live fan to enjoy their humor, left the show early, went to casino for a while then off to listen to Jose an Patti,
St KItts...... Wow what a day,, i had requested a cab from Thenford Grey who we had toured with 2 years prior and sure enough he was waiting for us, he even recognized me, WOW, he took us to a driver friend and we headed to Cockleshell beach once there we walked down to Reggae beach club, found a nice table and settled in, the guys went snorkeling and the women had Daiquiris, later we all changed to drinking mudslides, well after numerous mudslides and the heat of the day we were flying high,our driver picked us up right on time and we stumbled back to the ship, nursed our hangover's and then had to prepare for dinner with Hugo, we were selected from our cruise critic group and our friends dined with the Captain, I must say that Hugo is a very interesting man, his crew loves him and he has genuine concern for all passengers, if you ever have a problem contact Hugo and the problem will disappear, Later went to listen to Jose and Patti and visited the casino and made some contributions...
Fri second sea day... breakfast at the buffet, off to gym to work off some calories, then lunch at Cagney's, had to have the crab cakes again, DW had the french dip and the meat was so tender and delicious, I had the brownie for dessert, another new favorite, spent some time in the casino early afternoon contributed some more then off to dinner at the Buffet as DW wanted to catch the shows, first Bollywood and this is a not to be missed show, totally awesome performances by the group, probably the best show at sea, now we rush off to the Quest game show, This was the highlight of our cruise strangely enough, let me just say participation is everything. A few members in our CC group overwhelmed and dominated the game, our saying afterwards was what happens on the Dawn stays on the Dawn, the entire staff and crew were talking about it, totally hilarious and even embarrassing to some. Spent some more time at the casino and headed back to the room late.
Sat third sea day....relaxing day, of course lunch with my crab cakes and brownie, slot tournament, casino then dinner with my crab friends and back to the casino where I actually won some
Disembarkation....what an easy disembark, met Anoop the concierge at 9 am and he walked us off the ship, a final good bye handshake and a kiss on the cheek for DW from Hugo then walked straight to luggage, no wait at customs and porter took our bags right to our vehicle in the parking garage, total time maybe 15 minutes, so sad to be leaving the Dawn
I have read other reviews about this cruise and the negative ones shocked me, I cant see how anyone could fault the crew in any way as i find them to be among the best at sea, and entertainment was phenomenal, we have been on 8 cruises and this was the best ever, we have sailed RCCL, CCL, Princess, and NCL, for the value none compare to NCL and the Dawn
Food...we ate at Cagney's twice for dinner, Impressions twice, Salsa's once and all were incredible, dining room twice and food was good but service a little slower than speciality, buffet twice for dinner, what can i say about the buffet, met our expectations and offered a good variety, those that complain about it need to understand that it is a buffet not 4 star dining, Quick food, lots of food, and self serve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Blue Lagoon always had fast friendly service, did not use room service???
Entertainment ......... the quality of entertainment on this cruise far exceeded anything i have ever experienced cruising, all venues worthy of a hefty cover charge on land. Jose and Patti were a great team, just relax and listen or get up and dance, appeals to middle age to seniors, Bernie Martini is a future star, this being his final cruise he is heading to New York to seek his fame and fortune, Tim Dion and his acoustical guitar were extremely good, and the stage shows were truly fantastic,
Crew...... Our cabin stewards were the best, only once did they not make up the room and that was because I left the do not disturb sign displayed and they even left a note saying they were sorry to have missed us, Wait staff was always very attentive and fast, smiling and cheerful, guest services were fast and friendly, and don't miss the crew variety show and stay for the cast of the cruise director performing Fountains, very funny
Ship...... although the Dawn is showing her age some I am simply amazed at how clean she is kept, DW is a germ a phobe she found it to be very clean, Facilities were good although there was an occasional bucket in the hallways they were rarely ever a hindrance, our fridge went out after 2 days and after notifying guest services it was replaced with a new one within a few hours,
Staff..... Again hats off to the staff of the Dawn, Hugo is such a great host and I will never hesitate sailing a ship he is on, Anoop was wonderful and attentive and always made time to visit or chat for a few moments, entertainment staff was fantastic as John the CD has put together a truly great team, Bingo boy was funny and Sydney was always entertaining.
For those of you sailing or considering sailing the Dawn in the future please don't get discouraged by the negative post found sometimes on these boards, remember your vacation cruise is what you make of it, there is something for every taste on the Dawn, There will never be an issue that can not or will not be handled if you make them known to the proper members of the staff. Get involved and it will make a difference in your vacation experience