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Princess Cruises: Dawn Princess

  • Princess Cruises

Dawn Princess Review

Launched in 1997 as the second of Princess Cruises’ Sun-class ships, Dawn Princess is based in Australia year-round and uses only Australian currency onboard. Dawn Princess offers passengers a unique experience throughout some of the world’s most exotic destinations, including Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. The ship has been updated to include popular onboard features, such as The Sanctuary and Movies Under the Stars

Refined and graceful, Sun-class ships offer many of the choices attributed to larger Grand-class ships without sacrificing the smaller-ship atmosphere for which they're noted. The four-story atrium with a circular marble floor, stained-glass dome, and magnificent floating staircase are ideal settings for relaxation, people-watching, and making a grand entrance. Only Sea Princess sails Caribbean cruises; Sun and Dawn Princess are deployed in the South Pacific.

Onboard decor is a combination of neutrals and pastels, which are easy on the eyes after a sunny day ashore. The main public rooms are situated in a vertical arrangement on four lower decks, and, with the exception of promenade deck, cabins are forward and aft. In a nice design twist, the casino is somewhat isolated, and passengers aren't forced to use it as a passageway to reach dining rooms or the art deco main show lounge. Sea Princess also has an outdoor Movies Under the Stars LED screen.

Princess Cruises may be best known for introducing cruise travel to millions of viewers, when its flagship became the setting for The Love Boat television series in 1977. Since that heady time of small-screen stardom, the Princess fleet has grown both in the number and size of ships. Although most are large in scale, Princess vessels manage to create the illusion of intimacy through the use of color and decor in understated yet lovely public rooms graced by multimillion-dollar art collections.

Princess has also become more flexible; Personal Choice Cruising offers alternatives for open seating dining (when you wish and with whom you please) and entertainment options as diverse as those found in resorts ashore.

Lovely chapels or the wide-open decks are equally romantic settings for weddings at sea with the captain officiating.

What You Should Know


  • You can always escape the crowds by ducking into the cozy reading room
  • No matter what flavor is on the menu, dessert soufflés can't be beat
  • On Riviera Deck a dramatic, partially shaded pool with two hot tubs appears suspended between two decks


  • Horizon Court Lido buffet restaurants occupy the far forward space, meaning there is no observatory lounge
  • There's nothing about the interior decor that'll knock your socks off
  • These are large ships but not large enough to overcome the invasive art auctions
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 900
  • Entered Service 1997
  • Gross Tons 77,000
  • Length 856 feet
  • Number of Cabins 975
  • Passenger Capacity 1,950
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Nov 16, 2013

Circummnavigation of Australia and New Zealand

This was an excellent cruise. It was relaxing and very pleasant. If I were to mark this cruise out of 100, I would give it 80 marks. I would recommend this cruise to all Australians. The food in Horizon Court was ample and for a buffet style meal, it was very good. There was a lot of variety. My wife and I were in the Venetian Dining Room. We went there for dinner. Every day we were provided with a menu with with lots of choices. Our waiter

was very knowledgeable, friendly and extremely helpful. We did not frequent the Steak House. One area of the Horizon Court became the Steak House in the evening for the price of $20 pp. This made the Horizon Court even tighter because it was difficult to find a table at certain times of the day.The Riviera deck had sausages and kebabs.The Sundae was really bad. Worse than McDonalds! We kept away from it because Horizon Court provided us with everything we longed for. Afternoon tea was served in the Venetian Dining room with waiters coming around with dainties. The same was also served in Horizon Court. There is a bar on Deck 5, presumptuously called "Patisserie" which only provided a tray with the same food in Horizon Court. It could have provided something much more elegant and dainty as the word Patisserie would require. Rather small but very functional. We had a very comfortable and King size bed. The pillows were awkward and we woke up with a sore neck practically every morning.Dawn Princess was remedy this. The balcony was tight and the floor of the balcony looked old, worn out and rusty in some places. It must be remembered that this ship is 17 years old. It is however, well maintained. The carpet in the stateroom looked old but clean. The toilet is very small with only a shower which suited us fine. The wardrobes were generously provided with clothe hangers and the safe was very easy to operate. We were on Deck 14, stateroom number A540. This room is almost in front of an Emergency exit and the noise of the engines are clearly heard in the corridor. Once in the room, the noise is totally blocked out. The air conditioning could not be adjusted. It may have been the source for the distribution of a flu. Almost all passengers suffered from colds, tonsillitis and coughs. There were activities advertised in the daily Patter. They were many and varied. The shows in the evening were generally very good. Regrettably some entertainers used it to promote their own beliefs which sometimes went against respect for human dignity. One such entertainer suggested that only people invited by Australia should be allowed to enter the country. I believe that Australia is not an exclusive club and as a signatory to the United Nations Charter, our country generously accepts refugees. My wife and I did not go on any excursion arranged by the Ship. However, those who did said that they were well organized and reasonably priced. A visit to the Ship's doctor cost $75. This is very reasonable. The cruise circumnavigated Australia, New Zealand and visited Lombok in Indonesia. I suggest that Dawn Princess could visit a more exciting island in Indonesia. Passports were collected on leaving the Kimberley Coast and everyone had to pay for a Visa. On re-entry to Australia, we had to go through Australian Customs again. Our Passports were also taken before we entered New Zealand waters. We looked forward to this cruise and we were not disappointed. We were more than pleased with our experiences aboard. The crew was extremely friendly and could not do enough to please us. Tipping was not obligatory but I know that Australians tip good service and that was never lacking. Even though the ports of call were for just one day, they provided us with a bird's eye view of the place visited and the cruise through the fiordland National Park cruise of New Zealand, especially of Milford Sound was just marvellous. These were 35 days of relaxation and bliss. Adult passengers were allowed to bring one bottle of wine or Champagne which was generous of Dawn Princess. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled with precision. On re-entry from every port of call, security was high, as we expected. Our embarkation cards were checked and our bags were scanned. We were not allowed to take food from the ship and in Brisbane a sniffer dog was used. In New Zealand we were required to carry an ID. Food was excellent and all Australians and New Zealanders were spoke to were very pleased. Regrettably, not so the Americans? We could not understand that. The seas were kind to us during the circumnavigation of Australia and the visit to Lombok. However, the Tasman Sea gave us a bettering for two days. There was an emergency aboard the Dawn Princess. A fire was detected and all passengers were requested to grab their life jackets and gather at muster stations. It took about two hours before we were allowed to return to our cabins. We were constantly informed of what was happening.This emergency was handled very efficiently and professionally by the crew. In compensation, the Captain offered all passengers wine in the dining rooms. The Captained welcomed us twice. On the first occasion, a few days after departure and on the second occasion, it was a few days before the end of the cruise. On both these occasion, drinks were served with canapes. I could not quite understand why the Captain felt the need to mention the quantities the passengers ate and drank during the cruise. He also said that we entered the ship as passengers and would leave the ship as cargo. I would never have said that to guests in our home. This was a great cruise, indeed!

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Mar 19, 2013

Melbourne-New Zealand

Ship was lovely with loads of seating in all sorts of corners plus the many bars .Lifts were crowded as there were a lot of people on walkers,wheelchairs & even mobility scooters but I must add that everyone was very good humoured about it & there were many comments when we got in one. Room service was excellent &reception very helpful with any problems. It was a bit of a rat race trying to getfoodor a seat at the buffet, so we only braved that

twice. We retreated to the restaurant after that & were very happy with the food. A good variety & although rather bland was non the less enjoyable.The last few days the chefs excelled themselves & the food went up a notch or two & with things like duck, prawns,lobster & steak all on offer it was hard to choose. The bomb Alaska on the last night had to be seen to be believed, I have no idea how they managed it for everyone but it was delicious. The waiters we had at our table were fabulous, very attentive & a lot of fun. A bit disappointing , not as we'll designed as on our previous cruise. The doors were the problem, they all opened out onto each other & you couldn't move. Storage was good & the bed comfortable. Our steward. Was good. So everything was always slick & span. Not a lot of imagination, a bit repetitive. The shows I thought were amateurish. The musicians were good & the crew show on the last night were good. Had some good films which we enjoyed & appreciated the back rows reserved for people with disabilities, there were quite a lot of us. Shore excursions I thought expensive so made our own arrangements. Over all we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, the seas were calm, the weather mostly good & the days soon passed lazily. Ate far too much & the wheelchair assistance to disembark was an enormous help. Well done Princess have no hesitation in recommending you. Must mention Fiordland, we didn't relise we would be going round so many, it was truly beautiful.

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Apr 19, 2012

around australia

Very poor value for amount charged. The predominant philosophy seems to be increasing the "bottom line". Predatory prices for alcohol & excursions. Only one bottle of wine allowed on board per voyage, forcing you to spend 3 to 4 times retail for mediocre wines. Wines brought on board are confiscated for "safe keeping". Best ports scheduled for sundays and holidays. Many shops closed. Price of excursions very high. Renting a car is much more economical

and allows you more freedom. Dress code not enforced in dining room. Some passengers came to dine in hooded sweats and shorts. Actually, the ship is like a cruising "bus" loading and unloading passengers at virtually all of the ports on the itinerary. Consequently, many of the passengers exhibited attire and behavior not usually seen on other Princess ships. The ship is tired, has very small cabins, and there is unbelievable noise in moderate to rough seas coming from the stern. The ship has had propulsion problems in the past. The amount of vibration, grinding, and banging precluded sleep. Asked for a different cabin; but told that ship was full. Options were to tough it out or leave the cruise at the next port. There also appears to be a problem on board regarding allergens. Many passengers complained of runny eyes and noses as well as chest tightness and even wheezing. Wondered about mildew in the air-conditioning ducts or filters. Symptoms would clear after stepping outdoors. Hand sanitizers were not provided in the dining rooms. One of the few positives about the cruise was the new rule prohibiting smoking in cabins and verandahs. Generally good; but bland, perhaps to please the predominantly northern European origins of the ship's passengers. Much of the food was salty: but there appeared to be a rule against using garlic in the food, Service in the dining rooms was generally good and professional. Cramped, small, noisy, creaky. Odor of stale urine in the bathroom. Carpet did not look clean. Average Excursions are very expensive relative to value. You are much better off renting a car than riding the excursion coaches. You will have much greater freedom of movement and pay a quarter of the excursion price. The ship scheduled excursions to Australian wine districts although there is a standing rule of only one bottle of wine brought on board per voyage. Once again, the need for profit trumps passenger satisfaction. The worst cruise we have taken in 21 years of cruising. The poorest value/cost ratio. Would not recommend this cruise to seasoned cruisers who seek the company of well-mannered passengers in an atmosphere of civility.

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Oct 24, 2011

South pacific

For starters the destinations were great! The shore excursions were a rip off, your better off organizing yr own once you get to the island. Food was below average still edible though. The rooms were OK I guess yr only sleeping in them they were very clean. There was no Gym staff at the GYM which was very disappointing because a few of the machines broke down. There was smoking allowed on the deck which most people used to walk and exercise

around the ship, very not good for you! I leave the best to last! The entertainment was very very below average! They have this great outdoor movie screen, they call it Movies Under The Stars! I watched 2 movies, which was very nice, you could hear quite well. I am still waiting for the popcorn they keep advertising on their website. Now this is a 14 night cruise, for the rest of the time they featured music videos, documentaries and of course the rugby! I am sorry but I do not consider music videos a MOVIE! Other choices of entertainment was bible studies, how to play bridge, how to gamble at the casino, Bingo, doing jigsaw puzzles at the library, lame comedian who was not funny, oh oh oh and trivia games. Food choices was, formal dinning, buffet or pizza. Lunch was about the same including burgers at the grill. That just about sums it up, I wont be back on this ship I think I will stick to larger ships like the Super Virgo and Carnival Cruises.

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May 27, 2011

South Pacific

We took a 13 day cruise to South Pacific in May 2011. Had travelled before on Diamond Princess (inside passage Alaska)and found the ship too big, too glitzy and too many Yanks. I was dragged kicking & screaming onto Dawn Princess but was converted in 24 hours. All aspects of the service was 9 out of 10, food, service, friendliness of staff, gym , activities all good. Downside was poor non-smoking policies. Allowing smoking in cabins and balconies

as well as walking/jogging deck is just plain dumb and not consistent with their overt promotion of health. Inconsiderate neighbours next to us (upwind) smoked in cabin and balcony so that we had to stop using balcony and close the doors. The smoked permeated into passage ways and our cabin. Its about time cruise lines came into the 21st century and banned smoking either altogether or severely restricted it to an aft open deck area. Also a lot of bloodshed in the launderies I was told but didn't experience it myself.

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