I know, lots of people love the Dawn but it wasn't for us.
The food was good to excellent, and the service was excellent except for a few individuals who did their jobs but looked reluctant.
The Dawn is not our favourite for a few reasons. Firstly, it might have just been the crowd on our sailing, but after 10:30pm, it seemed like everyone was in bed. The Bliss lounge had music but only a few folks milling around. The piano player and duet, although talented, seemed to play to an older crowd and were done by 10:00 (even though the daily said "8:45 to close").
Our biggest disappointment was in the location of some specialty restaurants - Bistro, Bamboo and La Cucina. We opted out of going to Bamboo (open to lounge below and major hallway to the theatre), the noise level was so loud we couldn't hear the hostess speak. La Cucina and Bistro are right outside the cigar lounge which opens to the inside. We knew we were heading in the right direction when the strong wafting of cigar and cigarette smell hit our noses. Seriously NCL, there is no where else to put the cigar lounge? Perhaps with a door that opens to the outside? Then, NCL decides to put the piano lounge right outside the Bistro and La Cucina. At least Bistro has a door, but every time the door opens, the piped-in restaurant music competes with the piano player. La Cucina is open to the lounge. At one point during our dinner, the crowd in the lounge decided to sing along, loudly!
The specialty dining is important to us. We struggled with asking the servers to slow down the service. I don't like when my 2nd course arrives before my appetizer is only half finished! Or when my wine arrives when my meal is almost done! We always booked a later sitting and learned to tell the servers right from the start how we wanted our meal paced. I realize some people like to eat and get out, but we prefer to take our time and enjoy our meal; we felt more rushed on this ship than on Jade and Breakaway.
For a smaller ship, I prefer the Jade. It has nicer bars and an outside spot for breakfast which we missed on Dawn.
We had a good cruise, we enjoyed our ports of call. There were some excellent staff members who called us by name every time they passed us, and the food was good with some excellent stand outs. But, because specialty dining and late night parties are important to us, we won't be on the Dawn again.