In its former life as Regal Princess, the ship had an acceptable number of rooms with balconies: 184 out of a total 795. By today's standards, however, that's not many, especially for a ship that chases summer weather around Australia and the South Pacific. But the last two makeovers have made major improvements to accommodations, including the addition of 20 family-friendly interconnecting cabins and upgrades to the suites and mini-suites.
Of the 795 accommodations, 171 are inside cabins, 440 are standard outside cabins, and 134 are outside cabins with private balconies. There are also 36 mini-suites and 14 suites -- all with private balconies.
All cabins include small safes, hairdryers, bedside tables, work desks, shower, shampoo dispenser, telephone, table and lounge chair and un-stocked fridges as well as televisions of varying sizes. There is a range of movie and TV shows as well as in-ship info channels, kids movies, destination promotional channels, two Australian news channels and the BBC. Since 2014, passengers can look forward to improved in-room services, such as express ironing and shoe shining; those who book the more expensive suites receive a range of extra benefits, too.
Pacific Dawn also has 11 wheelchair-accessible cabins. Some rooms have an obstructed view due to the lifeboats that spoil the outlook somewhat.
Inside: These cabins are darker because they have no windows, but if all you need to do is sleep in your room, they are ideal. Many older couples and regular cruisers prefer them, as they are such good value for money. The inside cabins, spread across decks 5 to 11, are the same size and configuration as standard outsides, but they can accommodate up to four passengers. Five wheelchair-accessible rooms are located on deck 11, plus another one deck 8.
Oceanview: Standard outsides, located across seven decks, measure 17.6 square metres (189 square feet, with either picture windows or portholes. They sleep between two and four by way of a queen sized bed, which can be configured as twins, and one or two pull-down upper berths. Some standard rooms connect to other quad-share outside staterooms, ideal for larger families and groups of friends. Double-bed or twin-bed cabins are spacious enough, but with two suitcases and two roll-on bags much of the spare space would be utilised. Passengers often revert to using the small circular coffee table to leave a suitcase on. There is ample closet space for two people, with nine closet drawers and eight bedside drawers, plus a small cabin safe, a desk and chair, and one comfy chair. The printed artwork has a faded look set against cream walls and cream curtains across the rectangular porthole. In my room, the TV looked small, no bigger than 21 inches. There is no minibar, but there is a mini fridge. Four of the oceanview cabins on deck 8 are wheelchair-accessible rooms with an obstructed view.
Balcony: The obvious difference is the open balcony, which is great to have in port, but may be too windy to enjoy while cruising. The rooms, on decks 10 and 11, are slightly bigger than oceanview cabins, at 19.5 square metres (210 square feet) and sleep two, although a lower berth can be removed to accommodate a cot. Two of these staterooms interconnect to two-berth outsides.
The overall decor is easy on the eye, with a blue-and-white spotted carpet, cream coloured drapes, and off-white walls adorned with a couple pieces of artwork. The only other freestanding furniture was a small easy chair with blue speckled upholstery, a butter-coloured faux-leather desk chair and a small high table. The balcony is narrow with a door opening outward and two upright chairs and a small table.
Closet space is adequate, but there isn't anywhere to store bags; under the bed was ruled out, as it was too low slung. The bathrooms are another giveaway of Dawn's heritage; tiny and old-fashioned, although there is enough storage above the sink for toiletries and a decent sized shower cubicle with a low step, a curtain and a new shower head.
Deck 10 has six balcony cabins with three- or four-berth options, and 124 double-bed cabins. Deck 11 has two wheelchair-accessible balcony cabins.
Mini-Suite: Mini suites are substantially larger with a more open balcony and much bigger bathrooms as they include a bathtub with a shower over it. The 36 mini-suites on deck 11 are 34 square metres (366 square feet), with two configured for passengers with mobility issues. Most mini suites sleep up to three people with a single rollaway bed in the sitting room area. Furniture and upholstery were refreshed in 2012. Extra perks include complimentary bathrobes and slippers, fresh flowers and fruit, a welcome glass of Champagne, and canapés on cocktail nights.
Suite: The 14 suites are 51.8 square metres (557.5 square feet), each with a deep, long balcony and outdoor furniture. Located on deck 11 forward, suites sleep up to four people using a rollaway bed and a cot; the one exception is a cabin configured for physically challenged cruisers, which sleeps two. Suites each have a roomy living area, a bedroom with a spacious walk-in closet and a large bathroom with a tub and separate shower. A separate toilet is a bonus as it can also be accessed from a doorway at the entrance to the suite.
Amenities include flat-screen televisions, iPod docking stations, DVD players, Nespresso coffee machines, and perks such as a glass of wine on cocktail nights, complimentary laundry service, complimentary bottled water, personalised stationery and an invitation to the senior officers' private cocktail party. The breakfast and room service menus are complimentary to suite passengers, as well as in-cabin afternoon tea and bottled water.