Circumnavigation around Australia 18th November 2009
This review will be written from the eyes of a newbie so it will have no comparison with other lines, ships or distant destinations that the more seasoned review could bring. We decided to do this cruise to gauge our interest, tolerance & liking in cruising, as our plan is to eventually cruise to Japan for the cherry blossom season. We were looking at the cruise experience rather than shore tours and consequently we did not book any shore tour and used the public transport system in the major cities to sightsee when we did venture ashore.
The cruise departing on 18th November was to circumnavigate around Australia in 28 days. From Melbourne to Melbourne, because we embarked in Adelaide on 20th November we arrived on board in an easy and quick fashion being only about 200 passengers embarked in Adelaide. We were all guided by staff effectively and efficiently through the terminal & ship. Our first impression was awesome at the size of the Dawn Princess although we had done a lot of research on the ship and the cruise we were not surprised at what we saw. It met all our expectations. We found our cabin easily due to the hours of checking out the ship-we knew her deck plan reasonably well. We arrived at the terminal at 1pm and was in the Horizon buffet eating lunch before 2pm after finding our room and freshening up.
STATEROOM We had decided to book an inside cabin on deck 12 because I was afraid of the possible closed-in feeling that an inside might have on my claustrophobia, but to my surprise the room was cleverly decorated with mirrors to give the illusion of a larger room. (I had no problems at all except that at times it did get stuffy from lack of fresh air so we occasionally propped open the door slightly at night) We will now always book an inside but it will always close to the deck areas. As we did enjoy just walking a short distance to the deck and fresh air. The room was clean and comfortable. Our cabin steward China was lovely and he looked after us better than I imagined. We requested our beds to be made into twins with egg crate overlays (a must), to supply extra toiletries & towels, chocolates, ice and fruit daily. This was done with a smile and we never had to remind him. He cleaned and maintained our room without complaint, a cheery good morning welcome which set the tone for the day.
FOOD Main dinning Room We were allocated the first dinning and were very happy with the 6pm time as it gave us plenty of time to eat our meal and venture to the nightly entertainment. Leaving the rest of the night free. The food was delicious and presented beautifully. Our waiter June, eventually knew what our food preferences were and catered nightly to meet our needs. All waiting staff were professional and worked tirelessly to accommodate our needs. We eat in the MDR nightly missing only one night, when we got back from shore late, but we just ventured to the buffet for a meal, which was a nice change. We ate some breakfasts & a few lunches in the MDR and especially found it a delightful way to start the day instead of the crowds in the buffet. My only complaint is that we would have like a table by ourselves a few times and that was not possible even though we asked. Horizon buffet The buffet food was beyond belief and it would be hard pressed to not find something that suited our taste from hot food to cold servings, from fresh to cooked. The only draw back was at peak times it was hard to find a seat but we soon discovered the best times to venture into the buffet for a meal or snack. Room service We ordered breakfast from room service and it arrived on time and with friendly service. Terrace grill We decided to have lunch at the grill bar and we decided that we would not eat there again. The food was not up to the standard of the other eateries on board. Pizzeria The service was excellent but we were disappointed with the pizzas served-we will not eat there again.
ENTERTAINMENT The best thing we felt over-all was the nightly entertainment and we saw all the shows while on board. There were a variety of acts from comedians to magic & mine to variety acts. The standard was variable to a greater or lesser degree but the Princess shows and band in the Princess theatre were always of a high standard & quality in my opinion. The dancing, the costumes and the stage set designs were outstanding. We arrived in good time and always found a seat down the front of the theatre. It would be good if there was an exit open so those with walking problems did not have to climb all the stairs to exit-my only complaint.
DISEMBARKATION Because we were with a travel group we had a group allocation for 7.30am. Leaving the ship was slightly more hectic than arriving but we were getting off with the all the passengers. It flowed well and we were onboard our shuttle bus to the airport for our 12.05 flight. Hint-really add something colourful and large to your bags to help them stand out amongst all the others when collecting them from the terminal. We had a stressful time trying to find ours along with everyone else. This unfortunately stressed us considerably and ruined our calm relaxed state.
SUMMARY All in all we really enjoyed our first cruise. This was due to professional staff, a well researched trip and packing the right attitude. The over-all experience was positive. We meet some lovely people from USA, New Zealand, Hong Kong and of course, fellow Australians. Their ages were mainly older people but there was a scattering of young people and families. We did not mind the older people with their walking frames and walking stick or wheelchairs, but I did hear that there was some younger people less tolerant-unfortunate. We also heard that 3 people died while cruising but we saw no evidence only the odd ambulance at some ports. There was the regular Chinese whispers about laundry rage and fights and people being escorted off the ship in Darwin, but again we saw no evidence of that.
So you are asking will we book our trip to Japan-yes! In fact we booked while on board and according to all the prices we have seen while home-we got a fabulous deal saving over a thousand dollars in total. We also booked another inside but this time 1 deck below, but still close to an outer deck-we think this is going to be a fantastic cruise in 2011. Hint-always get a future cruise letter while onboard because it secures all the good $ for up to 4 years