Dawn Princess Entertainment & Activities
Daytime offerings include all the cruise ship standards: trivia, board and card games, art auctions, cocktail-making demos, etc. However, Princess also offers a variety of "@Sea" themed events. Computers@Sea is the biggest, teaching beginning computer, photo editing and even movie making; Ballroom@Sea classes teach guests to dance; Common Interest@Sea offers social get-togethers for likeminded folks grouped by profession (rescue workers, medical staff), interests (sports fans) or lifestyle (Friends of Dorothy, singles); Scholarship@Sea features educational lectures on topics as diverse as bridge play, astronomy or destination information; plus there are @Sea events for scrapbooking, games, book discussions and ceramics.
One special offering is the Ultimate Ship Tour, which takes passengers behind the scenes on the ship to places like the galley, bridge, backstage area of the theatre, engine control room and funnel. The three-hour tour costs 175 AUD and participants receive an official chef's jacket, personalised stationery, luxurious bath robe and a framed photo taken with the captain.
On world cruises, Dawn Princess passengers typically commit to some sort of regular activity, whether that be a passenger choir, a fitness regimen, or learning how to golf, play bridge or use a computer.
In the evening, Dawn Princess can offer a variety of entertainment because it has two show lounges, as well as smaller lounges and Movies Under the Stars. Performances may include guest musicians, comedians, production shows by the ship's entertainment staff and local acts. Themed late-night dance parties allow guests to show off their dance movies with Ballroom Blitz, rock and roll parties, a country western hoe down, and dancing under the stars. Karaoke nights are often listed as "Scary-O-Kee" to convince everyone to sing, even if they have "a voice that can peel paint."
The Princess Theatre, decorated in a rich burgundy, offers state-of-the-art sound and lighting, a huge stage, comfortable theatre-style seating, no distracting tables or bar service and excellent sight lines from each of the theatre's 550 seats. The theatre is also used for enrichment lectures during the day.
The other show venue is the Vista Lounge, which is a more typical cruise ship show lounge, with slightly tiered seating with comfortable banquettes and little cocktail tables arched across the room. It's perfect for bingo and cabaret performances, and is used as a movie theatre when an on-deck event shuts down Movies Under the Stars. It's a lovely room with deep rose carpet and blue and gold seating. Avoid sitting near the bar in the back during show time -- the blender can crank up quite a distraction.
Movies Under the Stars, the big-screen outdoor theatre that's proven so popular with the line's newest ships, was installed on Dawn Princess in 2009. The 300-square-foot LED screen shows movies and concerts and is also utilised for larger-than-life Wii play. Complimentary popcorn and blankets (for chilly evenings) are available at evening screenings.
Deck 7 is the entertainment hub of the ship, anchored by the Princess Theatre and Vista Lounge. Heading from aft, the Wheelhouse Bar, located just outside the theatre, has been transformed into a whisky bar. It still has its dark and moody ambience plus two grand pianos and a great selection of around 60 whiskies.
The Atrium Bar on the third level of the atrium has a magnificent stained glass ceiling just off the atrium's opening. It's a quiet place for people-watching and pre-dinner cocktails. You'll often encounter a string quartet or a pianist who serenades guests lingering over the lounge's cocktails or espresso.
Jammer's nightclub is open until the early morning hours and is popular with passengers of all ages. Different nights feature the music of different decades from the 50's to the 90's, as well as Karaoke. Done in grey and mauve, it has carpets with a celestial motif and neon tubes snaking across the ceiling for a startling night sky effect.
Magnum's, located opposite Jammer's nightclub, is the perfect hideaway for a tete a tete over caviar and Champagne. The desert cactus window boxes are a nice touch.
Up one floor (a staircase outside Magnum's leads right to it), the Casino has an abundance of slot machines, plus blackjack, roulette and craps tables -- all of which stay lively in the evening. A variety of card tables and art auction paraphernalia share the space.
Dawn Princess Public Rooms
You'll find elegantly appointed public areas, including a stunning art collection and an abundance of live foliage throughout Dawn Princess. On Deck 5, the ground floor of the soaring central atrium is the informational hub of the ship with the Passengers Services, Captain's Circle past-passenger program and shore excursions desks all located here. The central part of the floor is taken up with comfortable couches adjacent to a small stage for duet or quartet performances. Adjacent is the patisserie, serving up free pastries and coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages for a fee.
Up one deck and overlooking the atrium are the ship's two shops. Regatta sells the typical cruise and logo-wear, sundries and duty-free alcohol. Illuminations offers more high-end buys, including jewellery, perfume and watches.
On Deck 7, the small Passages Library is one of the most elegant libraries afloat. It's well stocked with hundreds of recent hardcover books and also offers a paperback book exchange. Warm mahogany bookcases, Wedgwood blue carpets and Old World accents create a cozy reading area, offering a great view of the sea from the seven soft leather stuffed chairs that face the windows. Pick up daily brain teasers or drop by to put a piece in the puzzles on the table just outside.
Around the corner, the Internet Cafe has multiple stations for surfing the Web or e-mailing home. Package prices are available per minute for a pay-as-you-go plan. Past Princess guests may get free Internet packages as part of their loyal cruiser perks.
Also on Deck 7, the Photo Gallery and Shop is the place to view and purchase the professional photos taken on your cruise. A machine lets you print out your own photos from the cruise by inserting a DVD, CD, memory card or USB memory stick. Charges apply. Additional photo-related gear is on sale.
The Card Room is hidden among the Deck 12 staterooms. It's well stocked with board games and card tables for game and bridge play. Bridge competitions are held regularly under the supervision of guest masters. Nearby is a conference room for onboard meetings.
A Medical Centre is located on Deck 4.
Dawn Princess Spa & Fitness
The pool area on Deck 12 has a choice of three swimming pools, two tiered mid-ship pools and one small aft pool shaded by a dome in the centre of the Spa area. All have whirlpools adjacent. Towering over the two main pools is Princess' signature Movies Under the Stars screen (see Entertainment).
Tucked out of the way on Deck 15 at the front of the ship is the adults-only Sanctuary sun deck. (I mistakenly assumed it would be near the spa, and was a little confused to find it two decks up and across the ship.) This serene relaxation space can fit up to 32 passengers and comes with a 20 AUD per half day cover charge, which gets you a plush padded lounge chair (two are double loungers for couples) and the care of the Serenity Stewards who will bring you chilled towels, healthy beverages and fares, and MP3 players with relaxing soundtracks. Unlike some of the Sanctuary areas on newer ship, this one does not have cabanas for al fresco massages.
Revamped in 2015, the Lotus Spa on Deck 12 aft offers free sauna and steam rooms, as well as a full range of spa treatments and services. The treatment rooms are located behind the spa reception area, but the salon (for hair styling and manicures) is located across the hall. Treatments run the gamut from a Swedish massage (131 AUD) to a pedicure (72 AUD), Oxydermy facial (186 AUD), a detox seaweed body wrap and massage (215 AUD), teeth whitening (164 AUD) and Ionithermie detox (175 AUD). Men are not forgotten with special male-oriented facials, massages and shaves. But book early. Appointments for sea days can fill up within a few hours on embarkation day. The spa is typically open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Dawn Princess' fitness facilities are located in a glass-walled health centre off the stern of the ship, offering striking views while you exercise. The gym is equipped with three stationary bikes, four recumbent bikes, six elliptical machines, eight treadmills and a variety of free weights and resistance machines. The fitness equipment is really packed into a small space, and there are only a few small TVs for mid-workout entertainment. The centre is open from 7 a.m. to until 10 p.m. An aerobic room across the way houses spinning bikes and stability balls. Personal training is available for (94 AUD for an hour-long session), and a variety of classes are available. Some classes, such as abs and stretching classes are free, while others, like yoga and spinning, incur a fee.
Additional recreational facilities include a netted sports deck under the ship's funnel, with volleyball, badminton, paddle tennis and a half basketball court. A small golf centre allows passengers to enjoy computer-simulated play on 18 of the world's top golf courses, plus two fantasy courses designed for some amusing frustration.
For walkers and joggers, an outdoor promenade deck goes all the way around Deck 7.
Dawn Princess For Kids
The "Fun Zone" children's centre features a cleverly glassed-in splash pool to isolate the sound of screaming youngsters from sunning adults, a castle, play house, children's theatre, TV with videos and computers with children's software. This area is great for children 3 to 7 (called Princess Pelicans), who participate in a supervised program of games, arts and crafts and free play. The program is offered for toilet-trained kids only. Children younger than 3 years old can use the youth lounge toys and facilities if supervised by a parent.
Shockwaves is the program for 8 to 12 year olds. Although they share space with the younger cruisers, this age group has activities around the ship, including Jr. CHEF@Sea cooking classes, science projects, pizza and ice cream parties, and sports tournaments.
Kids ages 13 to 17 can participate in the teen Remix program. In the teen centre, a large flat-screen TV, dance floor, nonalcoholic bar and a cool jukebox system allow teens to create their own DJ projects under space-age lights. There's also a separate video game arcade next door.
During days at sea, the children's programs run from 9 a.m. until noon, 2 until 5 p.m. and 7 until 10 p.m.; on port days, it runs from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and from 7 until 10 p.m. The teen program has the same schedule, but runs until 1 a.m. every night. There is no extra charge. From 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. and on port days, there is a group baby-sitting charge of 5 AUD per hour, per child, for the 12 and unders. Except during special dinner outings or pizza parties, or on for lunch on port days, meal service is not part of the program.