This was my first cruise.......it was a mini cruise- Vancouver to Ketchikan and back to Vancouver on the Dawn Princess. I cruised with three other friends that were also first timers.
Embarkation: Embarkation was at Ballantyne pier in Vancouver. Our cruise was scheduled four days after the Sept. 11th Tragedy in the United States. Because of strict security, the line up to board the ship was quite long with a three hour wait to get into the terminal and another one and half hours to get through customs. We arrived at Balantyne Pier at 1:00 P.M. and were finally onboard at 5:15 P.M. Upon boarding we had just fifteen minutes to get settled in and complete our muster drill. The staff was great during the whole time. They went around with water containers for those waiting outside and did their best to inform us of the length of time to wait.
Cabins: We had inside double accommodations. The cabin was okay, but that did not matter to us. Our concern was getting out and about and enjoying the amenities. It was nice to have a safe in the cabin for keeping cash and valuables safe. The sleeping arrangements were not what we wanted and with a quick mention to our cabin steward Jay, it was fixed quickly to our satisfaction. Closet space was great with room for everything casual and formal. Noise between cabins was minimal and appreciated.
Food: Depending on where you ate the food was good to excellent. We had the first sitting in the Venetian Dining Room which was convenient for evening activities. Our table mates were from the lower mainland of Vancouver and we became instant friends. Out table stewards were great. We were greeted and welcomed by the staff many times. The meals were great with a good selection of each entree. The breakfast in the dining room was well done with not too much or little on the plate. The last night was special with the parade of the baked Alaska.
The Horizon Court was a different story. The lunch buffet was good with a good choice of sushi and simple fare. Our first breakfast there was not as good with a growly cook looking after the egg grill. My friends said that their fried eggs were not cooked enough and the meats were greasy. The second breakfast there was much better probably with a more lively staff. The eggs and meats were better. A nice midnight dessert was a welcome sight after a dip in the hot tub.
The Balcony Grill was excellent. We stopped a couple of times to have a hotdog and fries cooked to our perfection with all the fixins. Better than some of the fast food places in Vancouver.
We went to the LaScala pizzeria on the last day and enjoyed the pizza. The serving was just the right size and that kept us full until dinner. There are five choices of pizza there, but there could have been more selection, otherwise it was great.
Pools & Spas: We hit the hot tubs a few times and out of six hot tubs, only one on the Riviera Deck by the Balcony Grill was hot enough. The rest were also nice but not very hot. We were disappointed to see the hot tubs close early with the crew calling it maintenance.
Entertainment: We saw the musical review in the Princess Theatre. It was good but not the Broadway style show that I expected. I hear about other cruise lines with their Broadway shows and they seem better. The entertainment in the Vista Lounge was far better. They chose four couples from the passenger list to participate in the newlywed game. The cruise directors staff were hilarious and had all the other passengers in stitches. The same was said for the horse races and the $1500.00 jackpot bingo. There was always something going on from the wine tasting, slot machine races in the Grand Casino, Art Auction to Golfing fun on the Plaza Deck. The place to be was the Wheelhouse Bar with live music. The place was packed and very lively. The place not to be was Jammers Disco, I went in there for the farewell party and it was empty. Everybody was at the Wheelhouse Bar.
Grand Casino: It was great place to hang out. We usually sat at the bar and drank while playing video blackjack or poker. It wasn't overly crowded or noisy and that was a plus.
The little bar on the Plaza Deck opposite the Purser's desk was our favorite place to meet. If we got disconnected from our group, we met at that bar. We had drinks with our tables guests in that bar after the formal night. Our bar steward Louis from Mexico was an excellent host. We spoke to him in broken Spanish and English and really enjoyed his service.
Shore Excursions: we only had one stop and that was in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was raining when we arrived but that did not dampen our shopping spirits. The city is small but nice to visit. The people were very nice and friendly in welcoming us. Our stay there was until 5:00 P.M. but we enjoyed our short stay in Ketchikan and returned to the ship early to enjoy an afternoon dip in the hot tub.
We had a beautiful champagne waterfall in the Grand Atrium and as they dismantles it, theyhanded out glasses to everyone.
Princess Patter: It was great to get the patter every day. There were a lot of activities listed to keep us in touch with everything onboard. We knew what movie was showing in the Vista Lounge, what shows were live in the Princess Theatre. It was also great to have news of where we were in the cruise.
Debarkation: This was easier than getting on the ship. We were off the ship and out of the terminal within the hour. We had berthed at 7:00 A.M. and were at home by 10:00 A.M.
Conclusion: Despite the one bad breakfast and minor hot tub problems, we had the time of our lives. It was very sad to be packing our bags on the last night but the farewell party in the Wheelhouse Bar made up for it. We will definitely be cruising again and most likely with Princess Cruises.