This review is going to be more helpful suggestions and comments
that a straight review. I am a very experienced traveller, but not
a big cruiser. The only other ship I've been on was Royal Caribbean
Serenade of the Seas. The Dawn does not have the "wow" factor. The
central atrium only goes up a couple of floors and the décor
of bright turquoise and coral is rather cheesy looking. The staff,
however, is delightful.
On the day of departure try to arrive at the pier around 11:30
a.m. It gets very busy very quickly, and we found no problems
getting dropped off curbside at that time. By noon we had
established our shipboard account and got our boarding number, so
got right on the ship.
You will board at Deck 7. Turn left, and continue along the
walkway. After you go through the Blue Lagoon restaurant, turn
right and go down the steps into the Venetian. This restaurant
serves a very nice sit down lunch. The buffet is a mob scene the
first day as no one realizes the Venetian is open!
cabin until about 2 p.m., so after lunch explore the ship. Your
bags will not arrive until as late as 5 p.m., so be sure to have
any immediately needed items in your hand baggage.
The Room: Not the greatest furnishings. Other than your bed, all
you have is a small square table with 2 hard kitchen type chairs.
That's it. There is quite a lot of storage, and there is a good
number of wooden hangers provided. The problem is the hanging rail
is not very long, and the wooden hangers are thick and heavy so
your clothes get crushed together. If you have a number of
lightweight tops, bring yourself a few wire hangers for these, and
put the extra wooden hangers out of the way so your clothes have
more room. There is only 1 outlet in the entire cabin, none in the
bathroom (except for a shaver outlet). We brought a multiplug to
give us the equivalent of 3 outlets and were glad for it. We also
brought a nightlight, which I plugged into the shaver outlet in the
bathroom for night time moving around.
Each person gets 1 fluffy, but small bath towel, a handtowel
that's little more than a finger tip towel, and a wash cloth. I
have long hair and was glad I'd brought my Turbitwist. The bathroom
is stocked with liquid product dispensers which have high quality
lavender hand soap, shower gel and shampoo. There is no bar soap. I
suggest you bring some facewash, also a bath puff as the shower gel
does not lather well without one.
Each person has the use of a bathrobe. Also in the room is a
1000w hairdryer with cold shot button. It is VERY heavy & not
very powerful. The cabin also has a coffee maker and a small,
stocked fridge (steep prices to use the contents). We brought a
bottle of wine and put it in the fridge. No one said anything.
The beds have nice, soft, high thread count sheets. The pillows,
however, are dense foam, so you may wish to bring a soft travel
pillow. The mattress was "OK", nothing to get excited about, but by
no means the worst one I've slept on.
There is a small TV in the room with very limited programming:
about 6 channels dealing with the cruise ship, CNN, Headline News,
Fox News and Cartoon Network. There are also 2 premium movie
channels which show more or less the same films as in the
Restaurants: the Garden Café buffet (Deck 12) is open
more or less all day and up till midnight. The food is set up on
lines cafeteria style, which is not the prettiest set-up, however
it allows for a lot of seating, and we never had a problem finding
a table. The advantage is its wide selection and speed of
The Venetian serves 3 meals a day, Aqua only dinner. Most
passengers have a strong preference for one or other of these
restaurants. They both serve the exact same dinner menu, but some
people like the open elegance of Venetian, while others like the
cool, hip vibe of Aqua. Their menu offers you a choice of 9
appetizers, 9 entrées and 5 dessert choices, most of which
change daily. There are also light dining options available. If you
are in a balcony cabin or suite, please note that Aqua is also open
to only you for breakfast Monday – Saturday. The sign will
say "private function", but just go in and give your room number
for seating. It took us 3 days to find the little card behind the
TV offering this special privilege. It was particularly helpful on
Wednesday as the first day in port everyone rushes to eat and get
off the ship at the exact same time.
Reservations for the specialty restaurants can be made by phone
or by visiting the desk in the Deck 7 atrium, just across from
reception. The desk was staffed just about all the time, and we had
no problems getting reservations.
The Bistro had very high quality French food (we found out the
Food & Beverage Manager is French, which may be why). On the
walls are ORIGINAL Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse paintings.
Impressions had good (not great) Italian food. Bamboo had "OK" Pan
Asian food. Nothing like dining in NYC. I heard mixed comments
about the sushi, so did not try that, likewise I did not try the
hibachi finding the $25 cover to be exorbitant. Did not try
Bimini Grill is located up the staircase from the Deck 12 pool
and fixes burgers, hotdogs and grilled chicken for lunch and
afternoon dining. Blue Lagoon is open 24 hours and I really enjoyed
their food. The tomato soup with basil cream was delicious, as was
the fish & chips. Sprinkles is not a real restaurant, but
rather a section of the pool bar where a guy scoops icecream cones.
The New York Deli is also not a restaurant but rather a section of
the Garden Café on the port side with deli meats and hotdogs
available at all times.
The pool area is rather gaudy looking, but there are plenty of
sunbathing chairs thanks to a tiered design. If you prefer a
quieter environment, walk forward on 12 to the very front of the
ship where there is a quiet zone along with another jacuzzi for
quiet enjoyment. If you enjoy swimming in a nice warm pool, the
small round pool closest to the pool bar is almost as warm as the
jacuzzi and is really lovely.
I visited the Fitness Center the first day. There are a variety
of cardio machines and weights, but the place gets very busy on
days at sea. Yoga, pilates and spin classes are available for an
additional fee. They want you to sign up for 3 classes for $30
(plus automatic gratuity) for the 3 days at sea. I signed up for
yoga and went to the first class, but unfortunately I had to stop
due to a badly pulled muscle from the day before. I got a refund of
the 2 unused classes. Quite honestly it wasn't much of a loss: the
yoga class was really boring -- we kept doing the same thing over
If you are tempted by the spa, I noticed they ran very good
deals during the days in port. These specials extended into the
evening hours. The best deal was day 1 in Bermuda where you got 2
hours of pampering for $119! There is a nice lap pool, jacuzzi and
sunning area inside the spa. They will try and get you to pay $99
to use it for the week. I later found out you could get a 1 day
pass for $20. If the weather is really lousy it might be worth
Entertainment in the evening ran the gamut, definitely something
for all tastes. Check your daily Freestyle newsletter as some days
they only run 1 show at 9 p.m. and other days there are two at 7:30
and 9:30. The 7:30 show tends to be more popular. People rush
through the buffet to get to the show on time. The 9:30 show always
had lots of seats available.
Dave Heenan the comedian did a very funny family friendly show.
I understand his late night act in the nightclub is very bawdy, but
his regular show was fine. The magician continued a light, comedic
banter as he did a number of classic tricks: he was very talented.
There is a Second City comedy troupe on board, and if you enjoy SNL
type skits, you will love their show. There is also a group of
dancers that create musical shows for the other nights. The
Bollywood show is definitely the best of these: a combination of
dancing and circus type acts. Try to sit at least 8 rows back or
you will miss some of the acts.
Bermuda: The ship docks at the farthest NW tip of the island
grouping. There are 3 modes of transportation to get where you want
to go: taxis (very expensive), ferries and buses. Ferries leave
from right next to the ship and go to Hamilton or St. George's.
Likewise, buses leave from the same area and take you to beaches
and into Hamilton (change in Hamilton for St. George's). Make sure
you double check with the driver as some buses go by the middle
road and do not pass near the beaches. Buy a pass good for both
buses and ferries from the Tourist Information booth right at the
end of the dock. You can get 1, 2 and 3 day passes depending on
your travel needs.
The Naval Dockyard has the Maritime Museum. Unfortunately when
we visited most of the exhibit buildings were closed for
renovation. For $8 I felt rather ripped off. There is limited
shopping nearby, which is good for last minute purchases on Friday
before departure. Check out the new pharmacy which is just past the
glassworks/rum cake building. The Clocktower Mall is a lot smaller
than it looks, but there are a couple of T-shirt shops as well as
island crafts. The Craft Market, by the way, was rather
If you want to go for afternoon tea, we went to the Fairmont
Hamilton Princess. It was elegant and had a Bermuda twist, it was
also $34 per person plus gratuity. We later found out that Mrs. T's
tea shop is right on the Middle Road bus route.
The Bermuda Underwater Institute is really worth a visit.
Interesting exhibits on shipwrecks, local shells, the Titanic and
all sorts of other things. Take the Middle Road bus and it drops
you right by the door without having to go into Hamilton and
If you are a scuba diver, I can highly recommend Blue Water
Divers at www.divebermuda.com Their main shop is at Robinson's
Marina adjacent to Somerset Bridge, about 15 minute bus ride from
the ship. They work with novice through expert divers and have all
the equipment you need. I did a 2 tank morning dive and got to
visit 3 wrecks! An awesome experience!
I realize I've written a lot here, hopefully some of my
suggestions will help you enjoy your cruise even more. That's it
for general passengers, read on if you are travelling with a
Information for Disabled Passengers: I was travelling on this
trip with my mother who uses a wheelchair for long distance
walking. Be sure to use the special check in line within the pier
in New York. You will get priority boarding. Note to person pushing
the wheelchair: the ramp onto the boat in NYC is VERY steep. If you
are not in the best of shape, ask for assistance! When you arrive
at the Venetian restaurant at the back of deck 7, push the down
button for the elevator: there is a handicapped entrance to the
restaurant that we had such trouble finding.
Handicapped cabins have enough space for the wheelchair, and a
ramp into the bathroom (which you will trip over all week, be
careful). The biggest problem we encountered was the door to the
room: our last ship had a button you pushed for automatic door
opening, this one did not, and the door is stiff and heavy. A
disabled person without a caregiver will have problems with it.
Most of the ship is handicapped accessible, just refer to your
pink sheet and you shouldn't have any problems. The biggest shock
to us was when we arrived in Bermuda: you CANNOT take folding
wheelchairs on buses in Bermuda! You are limited to the ferries or
taxis. Apparently they have just ordered 12 specialty buses that
will take them in the future, but they are not yet available. Ask
when you arrive and see if they are in service yet.
Be careful negotiating around the Naval Dockyard. If you are
heading to the Maritime Museum, Frog & Onion or Craft Market,
take the road farthest to the right or you will end up having to
cross a courtyard that is not wheelchair friendly. Also, if you
decide to visit the Commissioner's House at the Maritime Museum, be
advised the hill up to the house is VERY steep. There is an
elevator inside the house: go all the way around to the back and
enter the lowest floor. The elevator is in there among the cannon
-- it's not easy to find.