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These were cruises number two and three for us. We live in Hawaii and, given the state of the world, decided to put off a planned trip to Europe and, while casting about for something interesting to do, found a real deal on a back to back from Honolulu to Tahiti and back. We booked an ocean view cabin, which was fine, although not as nice as the balcony cabin we had on our first cruise, which was to Alaska. Since we live in Hawaii, we spent more time on the ship than we did ashore. This was nice for us, as we got to experience the slower pace of life on board in port. There are also terrific bargains at the spa during shore days, and the on-board activities and entertainment are much less crowded and more personal. So there is something to be said for cruising your home turf. It was also fun to get to see the islands from this new perspective - normally when visiting interisland, we fly, so it was our first experience in seeing the state the way it used to be done. I was also pleased that Princess brought on board some really good entertainers from the islands - they could do more of this, though. We didn't do any shore excursions, but did get off and walk around in Lahaina, and in Hilo (our home island) on the return trip to off load most of our luggage, which made the disembarking process a lot easier and quicker, although we had to wait for a while in Hilo to clear customs. There are only two guys working the whole east side of Hawaii Island, so they had to do the planes and a private yacht first. Tahiti was lovely, and we enjoyed Moorea and Bora Bora, taking shore excursions on both. Christmas Island was great for the first tender full of people who were able to hook up with the local entrepreneurs for rides to the end of the island, fishing, etc. etc. and not much for anyone else. There are far more people on the ship than on the island, so the availability of transport of any kind was very limited and the area where the tender lands is pretty spartan. If you can't make it on the first or second tender, stay on board. Several people on our ship got off in Papeete and took the ferry back over to Moorea, which takes less than an hour and is pretty reasonable. Papeete is expensive, not very clean, and, as we arrived on a Sunday, there wasn't much going on. As we were told at the visitor's center at the dock "People gone to church..." with the implication that we should as well. That aside, it is a lovely setting. Be aware the the Gauguin museum doesn't actually have any paintings by Gauguin. Just so you know... Moorea has really good buys on black pearls, and there are lots of vendors offering free transport to their shops, so you can get a pretty thorough tour of the island for free while shopping for your jewelry. We also took a circle island tour, which I probably wouldn't do again or recommend. I think the water based tours are better. Try for morning snorkel tours, as by afternoon it can become too rough to go out to the circling reef at the edge of the lagoon where the good snorkeling is. Bora Bora is everything that everyone expects of a tropical paradise and we had a very nice tour there. The Dawn is a Sun class ship, and we had been on her sister ship the Sea Princess, so it was like coming home. There isn't much difference between them except in decor and color, on an external basis, but there was a world of difference in the "culture" of the ships. We had found the Sea Princess very pushy and sales oriented. The Dawn was laid back to the point of unconsciousness. We had to seek out the drink card seller to get our coke cards. There was never any pressure to sell anything. Maybe it was because this group was on their way home after this cruise with a new batch coming on for the Alaska season, but they were majorly mellow, sometimes to the point of poor service. The gym, for instance, never had any one in attendance to provide towels, help, sign up sheets or anything else. Some of the regulars finally made our own signup sheets for the treadmills. We complained but it never got any better. Our cabin attendant was fine, most of the wait staff were good, but we had the usual issues with the coke cards. Waiters simply didn't want to bring you drinks unless they were getting a percentage, so for meals in the Horizon Court, we picked up our drinks at the bar, and, fairly often, got ignored by the bartender in favor of "paying" customers. We suggested that there be some kind of gratuity attached to the coke cards, hoping that it would improve service. We'd pay more if we could get less surly response to these otherwise convenient and cost effective devices. The entertainment was good, but not outstanding, and for the back to back folks (and there were a lot of us - probably half the ship) it got repetitive, as there weren't any changes in the movies or the shows, although we did have some different individual entertainers. My favorite part of the entertainment package was the local talent who were brought in for, usually, late afternoon shows. There was a hula troop from Hilo and a dance group from Papeete and both were outstanding. There were also some "on deck" local entertainers while we were in Hawaiian waters who were quite good, and a local gal who taught hula who was great fun. Overall, it was a good cruise, although I think it got a little long at 28 days on board. We both also got a flu bug (along with about half the rest of the passengers) and between us, spent about the last 10 days ill. This no doubt had an adverse impact, but we think that 14 to 18 days is probably closer to our ideal cruise length. We were ready to be home by the time we got there! And we were really glad to only have a short interisland flight home! Wish more cruises left from Honolulu. Donna

Dawn Princess - Hawaii

Dawn Princess Cruise Review by Donna Brown

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2004
  • Destination: Hawaii
These were cruises number two and three for us. We live in Hawaii and, given the state of the world, decided to put off a planned trip to Europe and, while casting about for something interesting to do, found a real deal on a back to back from Honolulu to Tahiti and back. We booked an ocean view cabin, which was fine, although not as nice as the balcony cabin we had on our first cruise, which was to Alaska. Since we live in Hawaii, we spent more time on the ship than we did ashore. This was nice for us, as we got to experience the slower pace of life on board in port. There are also terrific bargains at the spa during shore days, and the on-board activities and entertainment are much less crowded and more personal. So there is something to be said for cruising your home turf.
It was also fun to get to see the islands from this new perspective - normally when visiting interisland, we fly, so it was our first experience in seeing the state the way it used to be done. I was also pleased that Princess brought on board some really good entertainers from the islands - they could do more of this, though. We didn't do any shore excursions, but did get off and walk around in Lahaina, and in Hilo (our home island) on the return trip to off load most of our luggage, which made the disembarking process a lot easier and quicker, although we had to wait for a while in Hilo to clear customs. There are only two guys working the whole east side of Hawaii Island, so they had to do the planes and a private yacht first.
Tahiti was lovely, and we enjoyed Moorea and Bora Bora, taking shore excursions on both. Christmas Island was great for the first tender full of people who were able to hook up with the local entrepreneurs for rides to the end of the island, fishing, etc. etc. and not much for anyone else. There are far more people on the ship than on the island, so the availability of transport of any kind was very limited and the area where the tender lands is pretty spartan. If you can't make it on the first or second tender, stay on board.
Several people on our ship got off in Papeete and took the ferry back over to Moorea, which takes less than an hour and is pretty reasonable. Papeete is expensive, not very clean, and, as we arrived on a Sunday, there wasn't much going on. As we were told at the visitor's center at the dock "People gone to church..." with the implication that we should as well. That aside, it is a lovely setting. Be aware the the Gauguin museum doesn't actually have any paintings by Gauguin. Just so you know...
Moorea has really good buys on black pearls, and there are lots of vendors offering free transport to their shops, so you can get a pretty thorough tour of the island for free while shopping for your jewelry. We also took a circle island tour, which I probably wouldn't do again or recommend. I think the water based tours are better. Try for morning snorkel tours, as by afternoon it can become too rough to go out to the circling reef at the edge of the lagoon where the good snorkeling is. Bora Bora is everything that everyone expects of a tropical paradise and we had a very nice tour there.
The Dawn is a Sun class ship, and we had been on her sister ship the Sea Princess, so it was like coming home. There isn't much difference between them except in decor and color, on an external basis, but there was a world of difference in the "culture" of the ships. We had found the Sea Princess very pushy and sales oriented. The Dawn was laid back to the point of unconsciousness. We had to seek out the drink card seller to get our coke cards. There was never any pressure to sell anything. Maybe it was because this group was on their way home after this cruise with a new batch coming on for the Alaska season, but they were majorly mellow, sometimes to the point of poor service. The gym, for instance, never had any one in attendance to provide towels, help, sign up sheets or anything else. Some of the regulars finally made our own signup sheets for the treadmills. We complained but it never got any better.
Our cabin attendant was fine, most of the wait staff were good, but we had the usual issues with the coke cards. Waiters simply didn't want to bring you drinks unless they were getting a percentage, so for meals in the Horizon Court, we picked up our drinks at the bar, and, fairly often, got ignored by the bartender in favor of "paying" customers. We suggested that there be some kind of gratuity attached to the coke cards, hoping that it would improve service. We'd pay more if we could get less surly response to these otherwise convenient and cost effective devices.
The entertainment was good, but not outstanding, and for the back to back folks (and there were a lot of us - probably half the ship) it got repetitive, as there weren't any changes in the movies or the shows, although we did have some different individual entertainers. My favorite part of the entertainment package was the local talent who were brought in for, usually, late afternoon shows. There was a hula troop from Hilo and a dance group from Papeete and both were outstanding. There were also some "on deck" local entertainers while we were in Hawaiian waters who were quite good, and a local gal who taught hula who was great fun.
Overall, it was a good cruise, although I think it got a little long at 28 days on board. We both also got a flu bug (along with about half the rest of the passengers) and between us, spent about the last 10 days ill. This no doubt had an adverse impact, but we think that 14 to 18 days is probably closer to our ideal cruise length. We were ready to be home by the time we got there! And we were really glad to only have a short interisland flight home! Wish more cruises left from Honolulu.
Donna
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