Dawn Princess - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Dawn Princess


Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 376 out of 500

Accommodation: 148 out of 200

Food: 247 out of 400

Service: 278 out of 400

Entertainment: 77 out of 100

Cruise: 285 out of 400

Overall Score: 1411 out of 2000

Dawn Princess Statistics

Size: Mid-size Ship

Tonnage: 77,499

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9103996

Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)

Original Cost: $300 million

Entered Service: May 1997

Registry: Bermuda

Length (ft/m): 857.2/261.3

Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2

Draft (ft/m): 26.5/8.1

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (46,080kW)/2

Passenger Decks: 10

Total Crew: 900

Passengers (lower beds): 1,950

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 39.7

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.1

Cabins (total): 975

Size Range (sq ft/m): 135.0-635.0/12.5-59.0

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 446

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 19

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 11

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 3

Hot Tubs (on deck): 5

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: US$


This mid-size ship has warm decor for mature-age cruisers

Overview. Dawn Princess, like sister ship Sun Princess, is dedicated to the Australian cruise region. As aboard most ships, if you live in the top suites, you’ll be well cared for; if not, you’ll just be one of a crowd. The collection of artwork is good, and helps make the ship feel smaller than it is.

The Ship. Dawn Princess, an all-white ship, has a decent contemporary profile balanced by a large funnel containing a deck tennis/basketball/volleyball court in its sheltered aft base. There is a wide, teak walk-around promenade deck outdoors, some real teak steamer-style deck chairs complete with royal blue cushioned pads, and 93,000 sq ft (8,640 sq m) of space outdoors. A great amount of glass area on the upper decks provides plenty of light and connection with the outside world. There’s a large poolside movie screen and an adults-only Sanctuary relaxation area.

The interiors are pretty and warm, with attractive colors and the welcoming decor includes some attractive wall murals and other artwork. The signage could be better, however. There are a number of dead ends in the interior layout, so it’s not as user-friendly as a ship this size could be. The cabin numbering system is illogical, with numbers going through several hundred series on the same deck.

The wide range of public rooms includes several intimate rooms so that you don’t get the feel of being overwhelmed by large spaces. The interior focal point is a four-deck-high atrium lobby with winding, double stairways, and two panoramic glass-walled elevators.

There are two showlounges, one at each end of the ship; one is a 550-seat, theater-style space that also screens movies, and the other is a 480-seat cabaret-style lounge, with bar.

The library, a warm room with ocean-view windows, has six large butter-colored leather chairs for listening to audio discs. There is a conference center for up to 300, as well as a business center with computers and copiers. The casino, while large, is not really in the main passenger flow and so doesn’t generate the ‘walk-through’ factor found aboard so many ships.

The most traditional room is the Wheelhouse Lounge/Bar, decorated in the style of a late 19th-century gentleman’s club, with wood paneling and comfortable seating. The focal point is a large ship model, Kenya, from the P&O collection archives.

The captain’s cocktail party is typically held in the four-deck-high main atrium so that you can come and go as you please without having to stand in line to have your photograph taken with the captain. However, cruising aboard ships such as this one has become increasingly an onboard revenue-based product. In-your-face art auctions are overbearing, and the paintings, lithographs and framed pictures strewn throughout the ship clash irritatingly with the interior decor. This is an annoying intrusion into what should be a vacation, not a cruise inside a floating ‘art’ emporium. Also, bazaar-like tables filled with trinket junk clutter the area outside the shops.

The swimming pools are small, given the number of passengers, and the pool deck is cluttered with white, plastic sunloungers, without cushioned pads. Waiting for tenders in anchor ports can prove irritating, but is typical of large ship operations. Charging for use of the machines and washing powder in the self-service launderette is trifling.

Accommodation. There are many, many different cabin price grades. Although the standard cabins are a little small, they are well designed and functional in layout, and have earth tone colors accentuated by splashes of color from the bedspreads. Proportionately, there are quite a lot of interior cabins. Many outside-view cabins have private balconies, and all seem to be quite well soundproofed, although the balcony partition is not the floor-to-ceiling type, so you can hear your neighbors clearly, or smell their smoke. The balconies are very narrow, only just large enough for two small chairs, and there is no dedicated lighting.

All cabins have a reasonable amount of closet and abundant drawer and other storage space - adequate for a seven-night cruise - plus a TV set and refrigerator. The bathrooms are practical, although they really are tight spaces, best described as one-person-at-a-time units. But they do have a decent shower enclosure, a small amount of shelving for toiletries, real glasses, a hairdryer and a bathrobe.

The largest accommodation is in six suites, two on each of three decks located at the stern, and measure 536-754 sq ft (49.8-21.3 sq m), including a private balcony. They are well laid out, and have large bathrooms with two washbasins, a Jacuzzi tub, and a separate shower enclosure. The bedroom has generous amounts of wood accenting and detailing, indented ceilings, and TV sets in both bedroom and lounge areas. The suites also have a dining room table and four chairs.

The 32 mini-suites (374-536 sq ft/34.7-49.7 sq m) typically have two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed. There is a separate bedroom/sleeping area with vanity desk, and a lounge with sofa and coffee table, indented ceilings with generous amounts of wood accenting and detailing, walk-in closet, and larger bathroom with Jacuzzi bathtub and separate shower enclosure.

There are 19 wheelchair-accessible cabins, which measure 213-305 sq ft (19.7-28.2 sq m) and are a mix of seven outside-view and 12 interior cabins.

Dining. There are two main dining rooms of asymmetrical design, Florentine and Venetian, each with about 500 seats. They are located adjacent to the two lower levels of the atrium lobby. Each has its own galley and each is split into multi-tier sections, which help create a feeling of intimacy, although there is a lot of noise from the waiter stations adjacent to many tables. Breakfast and lunch are provided in an open-seating arrangement, while dinner is in two seatings. The wine list is reasonable, but not good, and there are no wine waiters. Note that 15 percent is added to all beverage bills, including wines.

Other dining options. The Horizon Buffet is open 24 hours a day, and, at night, has an informal dinner setting with sit-down waiter service; a small bistro menu is also available. The buffet displays are, for the most part, quite repetitious, but better than they have been in the past. There is no real finesse in presentation, however, as oval plastic plates are provided, instead of trays. The cabin service menu is limited, and presentation of the food items featured is poor (except for a rather nice, extra-cost Champagne Breakfast).

For some good meat, try the Sterling Steakhouse; it’s for those who want to taste four different cuts of Angus beef from the popular ‘Sterling Silver’ brand of USDA prime meats - Filet Mignon, New York Strip, Porterhouse, and Rib-Eye - all presented on a silver tray. There is also a barbecue chicken option, plus baked potato or french fries as accompaniments. This is available as an alternative to the dining rooms, between 6.30pm and 9.30pm only, at extra cost. However, it is not, as you might expect, a separate, intimate dining room, but is located in a section of the Horizon Buffet, with its own portable bar and some decorative touches to set it apart from the regular buffet.

There is also a patisserie for cappuccino/espresso coffees and pastries, a wine/caviar bar, and a pizzeria with cobblestone floors, wrought-iron decorative features, and a choice of six excellent pizzas.

Entertainment. There are two showlounges, both theatre and cabaret style. The main one, Princess Theater, has a sloping floor, with aisle-style seating (as found in shoreside movie theaters) that is well tiered, and with good sight lines to the raised stage from most of the 500 seats.

A second showlounge, Vista Lounge, located at the aft end of the ship, has cabaret entertainment, and also acts as a lecture and presentation room. Princess Cruises has a good stable of regular cabaret acts to draw from, so there should be something for most tastes.

Spa/Fitness. A glass-walled health spa complex located high atop the ship includes a gymnasium with the latest high-tech machines. One swimming pool is ‘suspended’ aft between two decks. There are two other pools, although they are not large for the size of the ship.

Sports facilities are located in an open-air sports deck positioned inside the funnel and adaptable for basketball, volleyball, badminton, or paddle tennis. Joggers can exercise on the walk-around open Promenade Deck.