After some not too flattering reviews of the Dawn, I'm pleased to report this cruise was great!
Can't comment much about embarkation as I was with a wedding group of 12 who were escorted on the ship before 11:00 a.m. The wedding was in a lovely room onboard, with cake and champagne reception in the Wheelhouse Lounge.
Overall condition of the ship is excellent! I found it to be clean, well furnished and stocked with everything, ran smoothly (no late arrivals in ports as reported earlier), nothing out of order.
Had an inside cabin for the first time in a long time and it was quite spacious with plenty of closet and drawer space for 2 women with tons of clothes. For the amount of time spent in the cabin, I'd go back to an inside again considering the savings.
It was my first experience with "Personal Choice Dining" and I loved it. With a group our size, it worked for everyone - no hassle, no deadlines, no "you have to be at ___at ___ o'clock. Some people ate at 6:00 and some at 9:00. I dined at the Lido Buffet and found it to be extremely well presented, huge variety, wonderful pasta dishes, bread and rolls to die for, great salad bar. The buffet entrees were plentiful and very good. We sometimes ate in the Florentine Dining Room and it was wonderful.
Room service was prompt every morning and the order was perfect - nothing missing and everything hot.
Service throughout the ship was excellent - it might have been a bit more attentive for our group as our party included 4 gorgeous girls in their 20's and the bar staff and waiters seemed to be giving us some extra attention! But, even when I was alone or with older people, service was as good as any I've ever had on any ship.
Entertainment: Great piano man in the Atrium, Vincent Laurentis, who finally stumpted me at Name That Tune with some very obscure songs and was great fun. Very talented and personable. Bayne Bacon, a singer/pianist/humorist was in the Vista Lounge and was most entertaining. A GREAT comedian, Carl Strong, should not be missed - he was fabulous! Good juggling act, and good magic show. Did not catch any of the variey shows but lounge entertainment was good throughout the ship. There was Karaoke a few times and some great singers appeared from the audience. The Country Western night on the pool deck was great fun with a good band and some fun dancing. A good band by the pool played daily. A new (to me) Jeopardy game was great fun - team play and nice prizes.
The Dawn has a nice sized pool - you can actually SWIM in it and the temperature was perfect. There's a smaller "adult" pool right above it where we played water volleyball daily for hours.
Disembarkation was smooth and even though we did not have flights that day, we were all off the ship by 9:15. Anyone with flights at 11:30 or so would be fine.
In over 25 cruises, 8 or 9 on Princess, this was definitely a great one. I could not fault one thing about the ship, the crew, the staff, the food, the service - it all worked!
There's a great spot on the Sun Deck, forward, with a tiny splash pool, where you can get some great sun away from the crowds on sea days - lots of lounge chairs, quiet and a nice place to relax and read and gaze at the sea.
So, if you're going on the Dawn soon, have a great time!