Just returned from a good to great week on the Dawn. We were a little apprehensive as we previously sailed on the much-newer Epic but the Dawn has a lot to offer.
Getting on was a breeze, getting off was delayed for some unknown reason. We carried off our bags and headed out to line up at 7:30am. Go figure, a long line had already formed and we all stood around grumbling about the delay - by 8:30 the ship was cleared through customs and we were on our way. Shame on us for booking a 9:45am flight but we made it after all.
Balcony room was nice though small, much better layout than the Epic. Towels could definitely use updating, we noticed all other cruise ships had much nicer beach towels in port - seriously, does anyone attempt to steal these ratty things, I think not.
Casino has lots of games to offer but our week was super tight. In fact, we never witnessed a single jackpot getting paid out and we gambled a lot. DAWN Management - if you read this message, please do something about the smoke in the casino. The low ceilings do not help, there has to be a way to better ventilate the area!Food quality was excellent in the paid venues, not the case in the main dining room or buffet. Do not waste your money on the Blossom but all others are definitely worth the upcharge - Le Bistro and Cagney's were great, La Cucina and Teppanyaki very good. The buffet manager needs to check out the Epic's set up... dining stations with different fare opposed to the same offerings day after day. One can only be expected to eat so many hotdogs and hamburgers in a week! The main dining room's food was okay but way too many people for our taste. The paid venues offer excellent service and an intimate setting.
Entertainment was good, we attended almost every show - not exactly the Epic but good. Lots of talent on the ship...
Overall the service was good and the staff helpful - no real standouts but everyone we encountered was pleasant and hardworking.
Ports: We loved this itinerary and booked all of our own excursions except golf. Golfed in Roatan, Cavetubing.com in Belize, Tropicante in Costa Maya (our favorite stop) and Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel. Had a great time in each port and had just enough time to do what we needed to do without rushing.
We'll definitely cruise again, particularly if the cruise is 'free' through Casinos at Sea. I'd recommend NCL and the Dawn - so much can go wrong with thousands of passengers and seven days at sea... NCL gets most of it right - no small task, I'm sure.
Booked the golf excursion through NCL. $189 included green fees and transportation to the Black Pearl. Great course, lots of water and elevation... bring lots of balls! We rented clubs for $50, and yes they have left handed sets available. Rider cost was only $25, including transpo, which felt like the bargain of the day. Unfortunately a caddy was required, which was fine because the course is not yet well-marked, except ours bailed out at 15 without an explanation but later returned at the club for his tip - nice! Overall a great day and well worth the $$$.
Best day on the trip! Booked a table in advance through Steve at Tropicante. Beautiful blue water beach, relaxing vibe, great drinks, food, service. Steve is on hand and super nice, he'll even let you use his phone to call home. Massage on the beach was great and a bargain at $25! Costa Maya reminds me of Cabo 25 years ago... go before the rest of the world figures it out. Glad we didn't book through the ship, our bill for the day including food, drinks, massage, etc.. $77 - $100 with tip, they more than earned every penny and we'll be back for sure. Nice group of people, we felt very safe and at home.
Good day in Cozumel. Went to Mr. Sanchos based on CC review. Good venue, fun vibe. We did not do the all-inclusive and found the prices very reasonable. Most expensive part of the day was the taxi ride - $17 each way. The water was nice but not clear or blue like the previous day in Costa Maya. Next time, we'll try something else but this was a good stop.