This was my second cruise. Maybe the bar had been set very high as my first was on the Disney Wonder and that was 5 star all the way. Boarding was easy and smooth. First hiccup was being greeted by 3 separate tables selling merchandise as soon as you are on board and a lot jam happening instantly as everyone purchased lanyards for their cards. Once clear we headed for out room. We were on deck 11 in a mini suite. The room was great no complaints, yet, keep reading. I checked out the balcony and noticed everything was covered in salt and bits poop all over the chairs, not the most welcome area. As we boarded early we headed to the pantry for lunch. This is the onboard buffet. It's setup really haphazardly. Instead of one continuous counter, it's broken into many sections, each forming it's own line and making it very difficult to move around. One drink station also ment a 10 minute wait per drink. Food was ok, but had no chance to sample it all unless you wanted to queue for hours. Next we roamed the ship getting our bearings. They layout is pretty good but you can see the age, lots of rusty spots, the odd bucket catching leaks (we were still docked) and the promenade deck also covered in salt. Finally we departed, we chose to watch feom out room as we went under the gateway bridges, the party on the pool deck 12 all cheering. It was about this time we noticed if anyone danced or ran on the deck above our room, We heard everything. If we hadn't of bought ear plugs we never would have slept. Dinner was booked in the restaurant. Again a 20 minute queue at our scheduled time didn't really make sense to us. Food was good but not great, portions a bit lacking, didn't go back for dinner again. Went to the show that night, this was excellent. Dancing and singing was fantastic and extremely entertaining. Next day, breakfast we tried the restaurant again. I had eggs Benedict and struggled to find the sauce. Squbbling maybe but hey, we paid good money for this. We shared a table with another couple, grest people, highlight of the morning. Next was kids club. It opened at 10.30, such a late start. We dropped off our 7 yo only to be told we had to collect her at 12pm as they closed then for 2 hours for lunch. So rule out trying to plan anything for yourselves if you have kids. She didn't go back again. Bingo in the afternoon was very entertaining as was catching a movie on the outdoor screen.
Be warned if you have kids and they want to swim. The pool is quite small and young age to climb right down into it, you have to go in with them, you can't see them otherwise. Also I found the fact every day numerous ladies found it necessary to sunbake in gstrings, topless, right next to the pool, which had kids everywhere appropriate kinda sad. Don't get me wrong, they view was great but really not the place. Ship needs a proper adults only area. Also one of two smoking areas is also right next to the pool, be warned if you have athsma issues like my wife. I smoke but always went to the designated area on the promenade. A walk around the upper top deck soon reveals the age of the Dawn. One part of the deck sunk half a foot when I stepped on it, everything has been painted over so many times it doesn't look good.
The crew were a mixed bag. Room attendants were great and thorough, no complaints there at all. My daughter loved the towel penguin they made. The restaurant waiters were almost polar opposite to the point of almost rude. Basically move you along as fast as possible as there isn't enough tables for everyone, never checked drinks. Staff in the buffet were friendly, always smiling, but the often limited English caused a few issues. Quite a number of times I would have to repeat myself or id just get a smile back. Bar staff generally good but always flat chat so never time for them to offer that little bit of extra service.
Excellent except for noise that comes through from deck above which was constant.