I’m afraid I don’t have much good to say about the Dawn, Princess. There were so many little and big things that they did wrong that it would take a looooong time to detail all of them. But here’s a summary . . .
While some might not care, we didn’t like that the adult pool and hot tubs were tucked below deck with no view (and sometimes had kids in them). Hot tubs were roped off at random times during the day, so it was difficult to find one to use and impossible to predict when they would be open. When the adult hot tub WAS open, the adjacent bar was closed, and vice-versa. Mixed drinks were so weak that we opted for beer. While some staff were great, too many were quite unpleasant.
Even our Captain’s Circle parents agreed that food on Dawn Princess was disappointing (a surprise since Princess is known for good food). Our waiter frequently could not tell us what the menu items were (since the chef must have thought it “elegant” to use descriptions that none of us could understand). One night, we waited over an hour for pizza only to have the manager yell at us for asking if they lost our order. A few nights later, I tried to get a pizza to take to the pool and was told I had to use room service because they wouldn’t let us take pizza from the restaurant.
Four of our shore excursions left us greatly disappointed and feeling ripped off. Our 4WD seal coast safari vehicle got stuck in the sand and never made it to the seal beach, yet the cruise staff refused to remove it from our bill. When we said we wouldn’t approve the charges, they threatened to not let us go through customs to disembark. Our family’s private driver in Auckland (arranged by the cruise ship) drove a van with back windows covered in little orange arrows (their logo?) so that those in the back could not see out. He had his own agenda and couldn’t grasp that we’d hired him to take us places that WE wanted to go.
A norovirus outbreak just three days into the cruise caused major disruptions. (Check Australian newspapers for the December 29, 2009 sailing.) The staff did work hard to combat the outbreak, so I don’t blame them for sick passengers. However, some things they did caused major problems. They closed half the laundry rooms, leaving just a few washers (some out of order) for 2,000 passengers to fight over. Doing laundry in your stateroom sink isn’t the most fun way to spend a vacation. Our request for them to change laundry hours was condescendingly refused.
The food court no longer served a full buffet and passengers were not allowed to serve themselves. You can imagine the lines that were created since the ship did not assign enough staff to help. Plus, having masked and gloved staff members roping off the dining tables near you tends to ruin the appetite.
Some of the music entertainment and DJs were so bad that it became common gossip among passengers. Bad. Painfully bad.
We actually took a photo of the “10 Points of Princess Service” flyer in our stateroom because it was such a joke. And when we disembarked at the last port of call, we met others who were leaving the ship because they were so angry and disappointed. Our plans to leave early had nothing to do with the ship, but we were glad to be leaving.
Overall, Dawn Princess was a letdown.