This was the fifth cruise my sisters and I have taken and our fourth time on the Dawn. This was the last sailing of the Dawn out of Boston before it relocates to New York.
There was an air of sadness hanging over the cruise - and not just because our bid to upgrade to the Garden Villa was not high enough to secure the suite. There was a sense of sadness because some staff was staying with the Dawn and others would be moving on to other ships. The crew is like family and everyone I spoke with shared how much they enjoyed working with their team and management. It was almost palpable, especially as our two week cruise was drawing to a close and it would also be the end of Jose and Patty performing for all the New Englanders. They definitely had a cult following of repeat customers.
There was also a feeling of cutting corners. We started cruising together in 2011 and we have noticed a lot more corner cutting. My four sisters and I are all Platinum Latitudes now and we were looking forward to sharing the Platinum perk box of four Godiva chocolates between the five of us (one box per cabin, which makes no sense when it’s five individuals sharing a cabin) but we found out that stopped two years ago. Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seemed to be less house keeping staff. I hardly saw any staff walking in the hallways. Our room steward, Depender, was always, always working - a lot more than any previous steward we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
The bank of windows and large balcony really elevate this suite. We really enjoyed the balcony at every opportunity. We easily fit five adult women by creatively utilizing ALL available storage space (put the PDF's under the bed!), the Murphy bed, the sofa bed AND a roll away bed (that we kept at the foot of the king sized bed).
Took a cab to Maho Beach. Arrive early to get a chair and umbrella ($10US each). The beach gets more crowded as the day goes on. It is really neat to have incoming planes flying overhead. The crowd yells HELLO. Small beach right up against the road. No pressure to order from the bar/restaurant. The water was beautiful. Sharp glass in the water. Bring water shoes.
Boston is my hometown. We took an Uber from Dedham to the Falcon Terminal and embarkation was a breeze with our suite status. We even had the same escort thru embarkation that we had two years ago and we recognized each other.
Took a cab to Hawk's Bill Resort that we booked previous to the cruise. The beach was lovely. A shark swam right by me! The included lunch was top notch. We had a sweet little bungalow directly on the beach. I didn't want to leave.
Took a cab to Sandals Resort and utilized a day pass with a room. Our room on the second floor was close to the beach and had a soaking tub for two on the balcony that we fit three. Lots of little nooks and crannies around the resort for romantic interludes - but I was with my sisters. There were jellyfish in the water that day so we stayed in the pool. The all inclusive drinks and food were fabulous - but do not forget foot wear or you will not be allowed into the buffet (which had a really diverse array of choices).
Took a cab to a random beach. I strongly feel that we were getting a run around from the taxi driver but that's a long story. Lots of street hustlers I mean vendors walking around with baby capuchin monkeys and offering pictures. I did NOT want a monkey on me yet they would not listen to me.
The water was nice but there was pollution floating around (a Spongebob costume, a sanitary napkin, laminated signs, broken glass) that I saw when I was snorkeling. That was sad and disturbing. I couldn't haul it all out.
We walked to the ferry and paid for the ferry Baths taxi. $38 US to do it ourselves versus much more on the ship. Beware of vendors selling discounted fares that might leave you stranded in Virgin Gorda. The Baths were spectacular. It is a hike to get from the National Parks ranger station (bathrooms, a restaurant) so I highly suggest decent shoes, not sandals like I was wearing that ended up cause massive blisters.
Took a taxi to the Marriott. We had a day pass to use the facilities but no room. We were there two years ago and it was very rough seas and thought it was just a storm. We liked the facility so booked it again. Same rough seas and the resort was under A LOT of construction from the hurricanes. We ended up leaving there and taking a taxi to Playa Capitola, a public beach, to search for sea glass (there was a fair amount). We had arranged to have the taxi pick us back up at a designated time and he showed up 30 minutes late - luckily we gave ourselves a cushion for getting back to the ship.