Well here is my first shot at review for the board. Can't guarantee how good (or bad)it will be, but I'm giving it a shot. Before I start, let me say that all the folks that we met on the cruise from this board are some of the nicest people we have ever met. Eva and I really enjoyed your company on the ship. It was great to meet you all and have familiar faces on the ship cheering each other on as we all participated in as much of the activities as we could. We would love to sail with you again. The Galveston sailing next year looks like a possibility.
To the Cruise Director Staff of the Dawn.
You were the best cruise staff I have seen on any cruise that I have been on. I have only been on 5 , but you folks made this trip very special and very hilarious for all of us. And Brett, thanks for putting up with our shenanigans with Jack during Karoke night. Teesh, how do you make that noise? LOL Graham, you are one heck of a guy and I could not ever do what you did at the Pub show. People from our group were wondering if you keep it shaved?
Sunday, October 12th
We arrived in San Juan from Newark on time at 11:01 am. We retrieved our bags very quickly this time. We flew American this time. Last time was on Delta and we waited about 45 minutes for our luggage to come off the plane. Not this time. We had it in about 10 minutes. We took a cab from the airport to the ship ( 23.00 )including tip and 4 bags for the 2 of us). We arrived at the terminal at 11:40. As we pulled in the cab driver asked if we wanted a porter. I thought this was odd since I would have expected the porters to be taking our luggage right from the cab. But as I looked over to the terminal, there were a lot of people on line with there luggage. The porters were to the left of the Terminal. We gave them our luggage and they took it right to the terminal. We got on line, it wasn't that long, maybe 200 people in front of us. we started talking with some of the people and asked why they had there luggage. They didn't know to go to the porters and have them take it. As it turns out, you could bring your own luggage into the terminal after the doors were opened and they took it from you just before you went in line for the Security check. I thought that was interesting. Doors opened at 12:00 and the line moved very quickly. We were inside the terminal at 12:10, We went through the Security check, and over to any of the 11 check in points. None were more then 2 deep at this point. However, I had to pick the line with the slowest passenger in front of us. I think they were actually buying their tickets so it took some time, maybe 5 extra minutes, but that can seem like an eternity. Other people were passing us as they took an average of maybe 30 seconds to check people in. So have those documents done online before you board. At this point, my wife said she was not going to let me pick anymore lines during our vacation. Got our boarding cards and proceeded directly over to the free booze tasting by the Duty free shop. (Caution, if you go in, you can only come out one way and have to go through Security again.). Got our picture taken before we went on board, then they took our picture again for the computers when we got to the top of the Gangway. Yes you have to climb a narrow set of steps to board. Wheel chair accessibility is to the left of this gangway. We went up to our Cabin D608 (obstructed outside), went right in, plopped our carry ons on the bed and went up to the Horizon Court for Lunch. Time is now 12:35pm. So you can see the embarkation process is very, very fast despite me picking the slow line. I would recommend the Platinum members do not check in on the Platinum line. I heard complaints from other CC members on our sailing that it took forever on that line to check in. They did not say why it took so long however.
We went into Horizon Court to eat. I looked at what they had and it was a slight let down for me. I like to eat. At 46, my weight is the same as when I was in High School. I can eat anything and everything and not gain an ounce. So I look forward to the food on a cruise. The selections were about half of what I was used to from the Voyager Class ships that I had recently been on. Was this going to ruin my cruise, NO WAY. At that point I knew I would be eating large dinners. The buffet was fine for a lite lunch. But this is my opinion. I saw others go through with large plates loaded with food. So some people like the choices and you might as well. I was impressed with way the Horizon Court was set up in the forward part of the ship. Now comes the only thing that I truly did not like about this cruise experience. They have a bar in the Horizon Court and as my wife and I sat down we were bombarded by requests to buy a drink. We were asked about 6 times in 5 minutes. This bothered us a lot, because we were trying to have a conversation and were always being interrupted. This wasn't a vacation destroying experience either.
After lunch we went around the ship to find out where things were. Looked for the Sundowner so we knew where we were going to meet our fellow CC members at 10:30 that night. Guess what? There is no SunDowner on the Dawn. Its on one of the other Sun class ships. Now I worry, how do you tell 20 people your supposed to meet, that the place we are supposed to meet doesn't exist? Can't do it on the board, whose going to read it. So we figured we would call who we knew and tell them to go to Oasis Bar instead. Same place as the Sundowner on the other ship. I made some calls, left some messages then off to the dining room to check table assignment. Guess what, none of the tables had any table numbers on them. I asked where the Maitre D was so I could check where our table was. He wasn't to be found. When we got back that night, table location was just ok, but didn't let it bother us. I'll talk about the table later.
At this point we took a cab into Old San Juan ($10.00). we had a great time. Walked through the small market and around the old city walls from the bay side of them. They were very impressive. We entered the town through the Old San Juan gate. We were looking up an alley way towards the cathedral. The street was lined with flowers and trees. It was beautiful to look at. We climbed up the hill and walked around town for about an hour and a half. Came into the main plaza and found Pueblos supermarket. Bought what we needed, headed back to where the taxi dropped us off and went back to the ship ($8.00) As we entered the terminal, there were no check in lines anywhere. This was about 4:45 or 5:00. The only real line was the people coming out of the Duty free shop with all the beer and soda they could carry. They had to go back through the Security check again. You can not buy any type of juices here. You have to get that somewhere else or at the Pueblos in Old San Juan.
We went back to our cabin to await the arrival of my sister and her boyfriend. they were coming in on a 4:45 flight from JFK. Luggage was sitting at the door. Great! Still had an hour before dinner so we could un pack everything. Plenty of storage and closet space. Never worried that we would run out. At 5:30 I heard some noises outside the cabin. My sister had arrived on the ship. We were surprised. We asked if her flight was early. She said no and that they got here this quick from the airport and were already checked in. (Obviously since they were on the ship) So we finished what we were doing, got dressed and off to dinner at 6:00
We had early seating in the Venetian Dining room. Menus have not changed from what has been posted on the board all ready. Our waitress was Agnus. She told us that she had just gotten on board the ship and that they didn't even have a name tag for her yet. So for the rest of the cruise, she was Agnus without a name tag to us. She seemed a little harried which was understandable and she had just meet her assistant waiter, Chi, from Thailand. Both were very attentive and service was excellent. Thank you Agnus and Chi. we were seated at table 110, one table away from a window. Nice views, but as we were to realize in a little while, we were right under the Promenade Deck. We would eventually always know when it was 7:15 in the evening at this table. There was a jogger who ran around the Promenade Deck four times each evening starting at 7:15. You could hear him/her pounding as they went over us. LOL
Muster Drill was at 8:30 that evening. My sister and my wife went down to the Vista lounge ahead of Jack and I . When we got there, Brett asked us if we were with these ladies. Some comment was made that I didn't catch. Later we were to find out that my wife and sister said they were waiting for two rich and good looking guys to join them. The comment that Brett made was that neither one of us filled the bill and he was looking for other volunteers to join my wife and sister. I knew we might be in trouble for the rest of the cruise at that point. Muster lasted about 15 or 20 minutes.
Went back to the cabins, and then did some further exploring of the ship waiting for the 10:30 meeting. Went up to the Oasis Bar and meet all our Cruise Critic friends except for one couple. Since the Oasis Bar is only open during the day we went up to the Riviera Bar and started ordering for the Sail away. A few minutes later a couple comes strolling by with tee shirts that have CCOCD printed on them. We knew at that point they were the couple we were missing. CCOCD was a joke on our thread. It meant Cruise Critic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (Everyone had it except me, and I still don't have it) We stayed on deck as the ship sailed and rounded the point and out of the harbor. I cant remember how long this took as I was having quite a lot of Rum Rummers. The only thing I remember at this point is that we retired for the evening somewhere around 2:00am. 2:00am seemed to be the trend for us for the rest of the cruise.
Monday, October 13th - Sea Day
Weather wasn't all that great. On and off again showers most of the day. At least in the afternoon. We had breakfast in the Dining room and then looked around more of the ship. We tried to get on deck, but it started to rain again. We ended up getting about an hour and half of sun time in the early afternoon. Tried the food at the grill. Asked for the Bratwurst, (which is white), but was given the Knockwurst instead (its brown). No big deal, It was good anyway. Later went down for a nap in the cabin,then woke up to shower and get ready for our first formal night. I would say that there is a mix of people who dress really formal (tux or gowns) and those who don't. I would say that however that it leans more toward the suit/jacket and cocktail dress type of formal wear. But how people dress no longer bothers me. I'm going to wear my Tux on formal nights anyway. I happen to like dressing up. For dinner I had the Smoked Supreme of Duck and Grapefruit and Kiwi Appetizers. Soup was the Capon Broth with Meat Tortellini. Aruggula Salad, and the Rock Cornish Hen for the entree. All were excellent.
Tonight was Karoke night at Jammers. The first of only 2 on this cruise. It went from 9:30 to 11:00 or so. Jack made a spectacle of himself as usual. Jack loves Karoke, but he couldn't carry a tune if his life depended on it. Most of the folks that we meet from the boards were there to hear him. We had discussed his poor singing abilities on the board and they had to hear him. Brett introduced him. He made the comment that Jack had to be good, because people had been asking him to tell Jack that the Karoke Machine was busted for this cruise. Well he soon found out. Jack sang as bad a usual and everyone in Jammers was laughing and having a great time with him. This seemed to open the floor to anyone who wanted to give it a shot. They all knew they would be better or as good as Jack. charles and Marsha were very good, but the highlight of the night was Big Al, He sang an old song called Strokin. This guy was great. We were all rolling on the floors laughing. He was even asked to do an encore on Friday night. After the Karoke was over, the party started. The Cruise staff lead everyone in dancing and got the party rolling. We stayed until about 1:00 am then up to the Casino to do a little damage there if we could. Turned in about 1:30
Tuesday, October 14th - Barbados
This will be short. Got off the ship at the expanded dock. took busses up to the terminal and went into town. Bridgetown is not a great place to shop. We walked around for about 2 hours and decided to head back to the ship for lunch and then to a beach. Well we didn't make it back to the beach or off the ship for the rest of the day. We heard Thunder and the sky was getting black. We had just made it back to the terminal, when the heavens opened up. It rained for the rest of the afternoon. We heard some folks say that the islanders said that Barbados only gets about 8 inches or rain a year, (true or not, I don't know), and that about half the yearly amount must have come down that afternoon. We heard roads were flooded or washed out. the rain stayed, from what I understand confined to the Western and Northern two thirds of the island. Some folks who were on the south side had a great day. Those who had gone GEO caching on the Eastern side had a great day too. So we didn't get to see much of Barbados that day. My wife and I spent a good portion of the afternoon in the hot tubs on the aft portion of the ship by the spa, and in the Steam Room and Sauna. Even though it rained, we were able to take this lemon and make lemonade out of it. We would have never have used the Sauna or Steam room if we weren't stuck on the ship that afternoon. It was great. Never had a steam before. After this we went back to the cabin, danced the Hokey Pokey, and got ready for dinner.
Dinner tonight was French Night. Ok as I said before, I like to eat and can eat anything I want..... So I did. I have read other posts where people complain about how much people order on a cruise at meals. But you know what, I'm there to enjoy myself and try things I haven't tried before and eat the things that I know I like. So damn the food torpedoes and full steam ahead. For Appetizers, I had all 3. The Pate, the Fruits Royales, and the Escargot. All good. For Soup, French Onion of course. And for Entree , I had the roast Duck and the Pork Normandie. And yes I ate it all. Some portions of the Pork were a little tough , but other portions were tender. so the meal was excellent over all. I don't have the dessert menus, so I cant say what I had at any of the meals. However, I do remember that a plate of Petite Fours started appearing every night with chocolate balls and marzipan cookies. I love Marizipan. Ruben, our table mate took one of them and I gave him such a look. He saw me and asked me if I liked them. I told him I would kill for them. He said ok, the rest of the cruise, they were mine. We all roared. We were laughing so loud that Agnus came running over to see what was so funny. We told her what was said and she commented to me that she would take care of the problem. Each night after that there was a double row of of cookies on the plate for me to share. Then off to the shows, dancing, drinking, partying and then finally crashing. As an aside, all the shows on the ship were very good. Comedians better then musicals in my opinion. On the first night at the Welcome Aboard show, get there early. They only have one and the theater can only hold 700. So it was standing room only when we got there at 8:25. And absolutely do not miss the PUB show under any circumstances. I don't care if your Dancing in the sheets, don't miss it.
Wednesday, October 14th - This must be St. Lucia
Let me say, St. lucia has to be one of the most beautiful Islands in the Caribbean.
We were off the ship at 8:00. we had privately booked the Full day Catamaran to the Pitons and and botanical Gardens. This was the same tour that the people from the ship were taking so we were with them the whole time. I wasn't worried about being late, because the ship wasn't going to be leaving with out its passengers that had booked through them. We were first on the Catamaran and had our pick of location. The ships passengers arrived about 5 minutes after we did. Catamaran was called the Tango. we set sail out the harbor and the Catamaran had lots of room on it. We never felt cramped at all. We noticed the people going on the half day sails and there Cats were jammed packed. Our excursion left at 8:30 and was due back at 2:15 according to the ships information. Its not true, we didn't get back until 4:15 and we had to be on the ship by 4:30. We sailed down to the Pitons and in to Soufrieres (sp?) Took a minibus over to the Botanical gardens and to the Waterfall and mineral baths. We couldn't go into the baths as they were not part of the tour. The tour was great. After that we went over to the Waterwheel restaurant for lunch. The food was terrific. some of the best we had on an island. after this we went back to the Catamaran and started sailing back to the ship. We stopped for an hour at a beach and did some swimming and diving off the Catamaran. There were quite a few vendors hawking there stuff from canoes. You could buy anything just about including ganja if you wanted it. However you had to buy it in a Conch shell. So if you buy a Conch shell make sure you tell them you want it empty. Off to Marigot Bay and the Rum Punch was flowing. Had about 4 of them by this time. they were made with St. Lucia Strong Rum. In other words, 140 proof Rum. We met an English couple on the excursion. We all had a good time. The tour guide would be pointing out highlights about the island. She would say the English did this or the English did that. By the end of the tour, the English couple were asking if the English did anything right and were apologizing every time she would say the English did this or that So after Marigot, we had about an hour and fifteen minutes back to port. I had a few too many more punches and was dancing all over the place. Got back into port and did a quick run through the terminal to get some of the Strong Rum and a St. Lucia rum called Seventh Heaven. Its supposed to be the island version of Viagra. So I bought a bottle and went back to the ship. I was introduced to a new drink here also. It was Citurs rum and Guava Juice. they called it a Pink XXX ( has something to do with a kitten) By now, the punches, and this other drink were really catching up to me. I boarded the ship and was feeling no pain. Jack and my sister went up one glass elevator and I and my wife went up the other. You guessed it, I made an *** out of myself by showing my butt. To everyone from the elevator. If this is the only thing I have to apologize for on this cruise, then I'm doing good. (Thank God it was the only time I did something stupid)
Dinner tonight was Italian. But we went up to the Sterling Steak House. Cover charge was $8.00 per person. All the food was excellent. I had the 20 oz. Porterhouse, Blooming Onion, Spinach Dip and I cant remember what else. we had dinner at 7:00 and were finished at about 10:30. Patty and John had joined us for dinner and we all had a great time talking and eating. After that went to the Casino, Jammers, and then called it a night.
Thursday - October 15th - St. Marteen
We were off the ship at 9:00 and had went over to the Rental Car area by the pier. We had rented a car online from Best Caribbean Car rental. Had a Toyota Corolla for $45 dollars for the day. We took off and headed over to Marigot, since we have been at this port before. We walked around the market there and bought some items from the vendors. We went into the mall and walked around a little bit, then went to an outdoor cafe near where we had parked the car. It took about an hour to get our food, but the wait was well worth it. The food was outstanding. Better then the Waterwheel restaurant on St. Lucia. We then went over to the Supermarket to buy wine. I don't know anything about wine so I bought 5 bottle s or whatever looked good at the time. We then proceeded over to Orient Beach and spent the next 2 hours swimming and relaxing on the beach. It was now 4:00 and time to head back to Phillipsburg to buy liquor and anything else we needed. I have found Phillipsburg to be better shopping then in St. . Thomas on our last trip. So we wanted to get everything we wanted here. Got really great prices on Absolute ($5.90 a liter) and Gray Goose ($19.99 a liter as compared to $38.00 a liter back home). Got some nice jewelry for my daughter and headed back to the ship.
Tonight was the Chefs Dinner. Tonight I had the Shrimp Cocktail, (which I had every night) and the Pineapple with Pistachios for Appetizers. Had the Chilled Apple and Peach soup and the salad. For entree's (multiple) I had the Rack of Lamb (mouthwatering) and I'm sorry to say, 4 plates of the Alaskan King Crab Legs. They were too easy to eat. All the legs were sliced in half lengthwise and it only took a fork to pull the meat out and dip it into the butter. And of Course the marzipan cookies and the Tiramisu that I had missed from the Italian Dinner the night before. I also think I had the Chocolate SoufflE for Desert this night too.
Then again, off to the shows, Jammers and the Casino for the rest of the night. Tonight was also Island night and the only night that a buffet was served. Its fruits and some hot entrees served up in front of the WindJammers Bar. Jack and I participated in the Hula Hoop contest. We both lost. Amanda won a bottle of champagne for being the only women left in the ships version of musical chairs. The men are the chairs. She just about decked (no pun intended) a guy when she was running to grab one of the last men standing.
Friday, October 16th - Tortola
We wanted to catch Smiths Ferry over to Virgin Gorda to go to the Baths. Ferry was $19.00 rdtrp and cab fare on Virgin Gorda was $2.00 each way. You can walk to the ferry right from the ship in Tortola. We were on the 8:50am ferry and at the Baths by 9:30. We were the third ones down the hill and on the beach because my wife had to stop at the bathroom. Otherwise, we would have been first. All I can say is that this is worth the trip to Virgin Gorda. The Baths are beautiful and the beaches are stunning as well as the views. We walked through the Caves (as some people call it ) over to Devils Grotto or Beach. Going through there are some areas that you have to stoop over real low to get through or crawl through. This is not a trip for people with bad backs or those who need handicap accessibility. We wanted to catch the 2:15 ferry back so before we left we went back up the hill to the restaurant at the top for a couple of Painkillers. Marvelous drinks, try them. This restaurant also has a swimming pool that you can use while your drinking and the views of Tortola and the rest of the BVI's that you can see is outstanding. We went back to Roadtown and walked around for a little while and then returned to the ship. this was the second Formal night.
Tonight's was the Captains Gala Dinner. For appetizers I had the Shrimp Cocktail and the Clams Casino. For soup I had the Chicken Broth with Vermicelli and Scallions and the Chilled Strawberry Creamed Soup. Salad of course. For the Entree I ordered the Lobster Tails and the Royal Pheasant. My wife order the Beef Wellington for me also. All the food was great. and of course at 7:15 the jogger was going over head.
Off to the shows, casino and Jammers and then to bed.
Saturday, October 17th - St. Thomas
On our last cruise, town was closed due to a festival going on, so the only shopping available was at Havensight Mall. This time we wanted to go into town and see what all the hoopla was about. OMG, this is a shop aholics dream come true. With slightly higher costs then St. Marteens. So ladies, I suggest you finish up maxing out the credit cards here if you haven't already. Went back to the ship for lunch and then off to Coki Point for Snorkeling for the rest of the Afternoon. Snorkeling is great here on both the left and right sides of the beach. It doesn't look like much when you drive up, but once you pass the Bahias, the beach is great. Cab fare is $6.00 each way.
Back to the ship for the last night. Now here was something strange that I found a bit odd. It was requested in the Patter that you have your luggage outside your stateroom BEFORE you went to dinner. On our other cruise it had always been requested to be out by midnight. Of course we couldn't do it. So Joon our cabin Steward told us not to worry about it. If we had it out by 10:00 that would be fine.
So down to the Landfall Dinner. For appetizer, I had the usual Shrimp cocktail and the Oranges steeped in Grand Marnier. No soup tonight. Caesar Salad and for entree had the Turkey and Prime Rib. All were excellent. Also tried a small portion of the Fetuccine Alfredo. Im sorry I didn't try it sooner. It was the best I've ever had.
Back to the cabin to finish packing. I noticed that our colors were Green 3. I looked at the Patter and noticed that this was one of the last colors to be called. It was for flights after 1:00pm. Ours was at 12:40, so I went to the Pursers desk and was changed to Pink 3 which is the 4th color called. So check you colors against the Patter when you get them. After Packing went to the comedy show then to the Casino. Sorry , but not to Jammers tonight. I think this is the only night we turned in before 1:00 am.
Sunday, October 19th. - San Juan (Booo - have to get off the ship)
We were up by 7:30 and were going to meet my sister for breakfast at 8:15. ship was cleared in San Juan at 7:45 and disembarkation started at 8:00. I figured we needed to be off the ship by 9:30 to play it safe at San Juan airport. Our color was called at 8:20 just as we were sitting down to breakfast. I thought it was too early so sat down and ate. We went to the gangway at 9:15 and were off the ship in no time and out of the terminal and through customs by 9:30. We had done immigration already in St. Thomas which took all of 2 minutes. We caught a cab to the airport and were at the American Terminal by 9:50 and checked in at 10:05am. Unbelievable. When we had pulled up to the American Terminal it was just about deserted. Next Time I will book an 11:00 flight and save more money on the airfare. So we waited for 2 hours for our flight to leave. Got on the flight, pooped out for the entire 4 hour flight home and landed in Newark and the resigned ourselves to being back in the cold Northeast.
Food is good. Eggs Benedict is served only once in the Dining Room the entire cruise. You can order it the night before from your Head Waiter. It was excellent. Not over cooked at all. We ate breakfast mostly in the Dining Room as the lines at Horizon Court in the morning were somewhat long. French Toast was good. If your in Horizon Court you have to ask for Bagels and Lox, they bring it out to you. Its always available in the Dining Room. Had the Bistro Service one night. It a sit down dinner with a waiter and the food is good also. Its up in the front of the Horizon Court and is served between 11:00pm and 4:00am. I was glad to see that they don't have any reminders anywhere of what day it is. Unlike some other ships that have it on the carpets in the elevators. Passenger mix is a little older then Royal Caribbean and the people don't seem to party into the early hours of the morning. I would say mostly mid forties this time of year. By 2:00 am mostly everyone had turned in for the night. Soda card is well worth the money. I always asked for a large with no problems. Having sailed on Royal Caribbean and this being our first Princess cruise, would I go on Princess again. In truth, its a toss up. Which is good. each one has its good points.
Well I hope this was informative for you and that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Being my first one let me know how I did