Firstly I have to say that this is not our first cruise with P&O[ the others both 10 day cruises] So I do know that P&O can show their guests a great time on a great ship....unfortunately this was not the case with the Dawn.
Embarkation was fairly quick and easy, then the smell hit us. Our cabin [a balcony...that's a laugh] was 10123 and the corridor leading down to it smelt disgusting [heard the same complaint from other floors] . This smell was there for the whole cruise...so glad it was only 4 nights. When we stepped into our cabin was a little disappointed as it was very dated. I had read that the ship had been refurbished 2 years ago so was expecting at least some new carpets and prints on the walls[apparently the only cabins refurbished were the suites!] Prints were so old & dated the only colours left in them were blue and the carpet[as much as it looked clean] also had an odour. Not sure what era the lamps were from , but it is time they saw the bin.Their were some good points to the cabin, PLENTY of storage[even the heaviest pcker would have room for all their gear] The bathroom was spotless & well laid out and the pillows on the bed were the best I have ever had. Pity the same couldn't be said about the mattress, which was like sleeping on a brick. Also the sheets on the bed were clean but very greyed.The fancy bit of cloth on the bed needed a good wash! The safe to the room took us 20 mins[with the assistance of cabin steward] to lock and when we tried to unlock to get wallets out we couldn't, so had to call front desk for assistance[3/4 hr later] someone turned up and said it needed a new battery and fixed in a couple of minutes. I feel this is something the cabin steward should have been onto when we had trouble locking it. Also felt as much as rooms were left tidy when they were cleaned.....we are not messy people. Things were definitely lacking in this department. Beds were not made until well after lunch one day[even though sign was out from 7.30] only got 2 turndowns & 1 lot of chocs on pillow. Their is also no number to contact your cabin steward. So you just have to look out for them[in some cases try & find them] Not really sure what their shifts actually were . Also I asked if a bucket of ice could be left each day[common sense would have been that it was left in the fridge] But no twice it was left on the table next to the tv [half melted by the time we got to it] Probably the worst aspect of our room was the balcony. Each time we have travelled with P&O we have gone up a level with our room [1st inside...no window, 2nd cruise outside window & this time a balcony] What a mistake that was!!! Should have saved our money! We rarely used the balcony because it was such a hard place to get onto. Let me explain. For Us both to be able to sit outside ! of us had to open the door. Then step outside & close it. Go & sit on the chair which was behind the door when it was opened. The second person would then come out and have to move the table[much to big for the balcony...think they may have come from the suite remodels] to be able to sit and their chair. Putting the table in front of the door making it impossible for the door to be opened again without all the bother we had just gone through. Also the balcony looked like monkeys had been let loose with a paint can. Paint over the furniture, floors and even the windows. This was not the inviting place that is shown in the brochures. We had gotten a balcony cabin on another cruise that we took[Princess] and it was wonderful. We loved to be able to have the door open to let some sea breeze in and we had breakfast & drinks out their many times. We barely used the balcony on this cruise, it was such a mess. May I add that we took this short break cruise to celebrate my birthday & if I had known the balcony would have been so bad we would have gotten a window room! Also hubby [a work health & safety officer] showed concern that there were no fire rated safety bulbs in the sprinkler heads on the balconies.
After unpacking we decided to visit the Pantry for some lunch. We had both been looking forward to this as I thought the concept was great Boy was I mistaken. Not sure if the Pantry is laid out the same way on all P&O ships , but on Dawn it just doesn't work. People are going in all directions to have a look at all the little store windows[where as in a buffet you are all in a line going in 1 direction] It is very cramped in some areas . Finding a table can be a nightmare and for the evening meal they even block off part of the eating area to turn into a restaurant[that you have to pay for] So it is even harder to find a seat . Our first meal[lunch] was ok. Desserts were below average and lacked variety. We went to the pantry the following morning for breakfast [think it was about 7-7.30]and it was probably the worst breakfast I have ever had ,ever! As much as their were all the little shop windows open the variety was very limited[was told by other cruisers it was the same breakfast every morning] Decided on french toast and bacon & juice. Both the french toast was barely warm[even though their were a mountain of it in the window] and the juice was barely cold. So just left it promising to never go back their for breakfast again. We did call into the pantry a couple of times [mainly coffee and snacks] at best the food is basic and at times just plain terrible[ rock hard burgers , chips dry & salad limp ] Though I did have some very nice fish & chips one day. Coffee machines are frequently under maintenance for a long time.
The waterfront restaurant on the other hand is wonderful. Was always able to get a seat[only 2 of us] and always enjoyed the food [all 3 courses of it] The only negative I have about this restaurant was that I arrived at 9.15 for breakfast[suppose to stop serving at 9.30] after running late from the spa and was told by front staff that they were closing early , so I couldn't have breakfast. Not good service guys! But in general the staff & food was above average in this restaurant
We didn't try room service at all on P&O as you have to pay for it [free on Princess cruises]
Where P&O did excel was its inside common area bars[obviously where most of the refurbishment had been done.] The Orient , Dome and Promenade bar, were absolutely stunning. Also the bar staff DEFINITELY gave Princess cruises bar staff a run for their money. They actually make their cocktails from scratch[not using premade mixes like on Princess] And they were delicious! A definite to do is the mix academy class run in the promenade bar. You get to make 4 cocktails for $25. !!. Hubby also loved that he was able to get a XXXX gold for $5.95 a can in these bars[they call it banana juice] Way cheaper that beers on other ships.
Also another fun thing on P&O was its elevators[again done in refurb] lots of interesting scenes inside rather than plain boring walls.
We also weren't constantly harassed to have our photos taken [which to us was great] and attend art auctions which are big on Princess.
Probably one of the biggest disappointments on this ship was the pool[If you can call it that] deck. What a disaster!!! 1 VERY small pool [have seen backyard pools bigger] that for anyone with disabilities would have been a nightmare to get in & out of. Looks like there were suppose to be fountain going in it , but they weren't working. There was a kids water park which looked great , if you were a young child. But kids over a certain age did not seem to want to have anything to do with it making the swimming pool absolute bedlam. The couple of spa's on the deck were again only tiny spa's like you have at home. So what is usually a nice relaxing day at the pool definitely wasn't happening aboard the Dawn. Another thing I found absolutely ludicrous was the fact that the pools & spas get netted off at 8.00 in the evening. Seems crazy to me considering we live in the tropics. On other ships they at least leave them open until after the outdoor movies have finished. As people seem to like lying in the pool or spa to watch the movie. Not sure what time they were open in the morning , but did hear some people complaining[so many complaints from people] they had gone for an early morning swim and it was still netted off.
The pool deck in general was a disaster area . Furniture generally looked like it had been picked up from the side of the road, Hazard tape was everywhere & where was the staff? It was only on the day before we were due to get off, that were actually saw staff going around asking if you wanted them to get you a drink[ I was thinking that this was not a service offered by P&O. I know the ship had been through a cyclone previously, but I do think that cruisers should have been notified about the damage done, then they could decide if they wanted to continue on a substandard cruise, or rebook later. Feel this was definitely money grabbing on your part. The main bar on the pool deck was not open until in the evening [as the cover had been damaged in the cyclone[ So a small pop up bar had been made. Don't know how many times we had warm drinks from there [actually soft drink came straight out of a warm can over ice] Not good enough P&O[ you guys are suppose to be leaders in the cruise field] . Staff were VERY low on pool decks . Chairs had towels over them for hours with people wandering round looking for seats , but not knowing if they could sit their. Actually stall seemed to be light on everywhere
As I was on this cruise for my birthday decided to treat myself to the spa [a facial massage package] What a lovely looking area that was . Staff was wonderful. Chang[mu therapist ] couldn't have been better. Pity my peaceful massage was constantly disturbed by BEEP BEEP BEEP, BANG BANG BANG. Chang informed me that they were fixing something in the engine room. Definitely not the relaxing experience I was craving[But again thank you Chang for trying]
Think that's about it apart from letting you know you will have to pay for shuttle buses to town[free on other cruise] and that public toilets constantly seemed to be under maintenance.
Heard so many complaints aboard this ship[actually the only positive thing I heard was" well I suppose you get what you paid for'" ] When I got home I compared the per night rate for this cruise aboard P&O and the per night rate we paid on Princess at the end of last year and the difference was less than $50 a night per cabin [and that was sailing at Christmas time] So I really don't feel that " this was a cheap cruise" statement is warranted.
To All the staff on the Dawn, I feel sorry that you have to work on such a substandard ship .but you do the best you can with what you have[heard 1 passenger refer top it as a ferry]
Would I ever travel with P&O again, yes would give them another try. Would I travel on the Dawn again NEVER!!!
Brisbane always lovely...Home, so not a visit
Only a small 4 day short break to Airlie Beach this cruise. What can I say we love the Whitsundays. Have holidayed here a number of times[though quite a few years ago] and always loved it. The lagoon at Airlie is really the main attraction of this town [and after the pathetic excuse for a pool aboard the ship] this was a delight.