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Mini Review of DAWN March 24-31 and comparison to STAR

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We just got back from the Dawn Western Caribbean cruise. We did the same trip last year on the Star (both out of Tampa) and loved it so much, we tried it again this year on the Dawn. Had a fantastic time again- but I think I liked the Star a little bit better. We are a family of 4- 2 kids ages 5 and 7 this year.


THE GOOD/BETTER about the Dawn:

- had the 2 bedroom family suite for both cruises- both wonderful.

- Virginia the concierge on the Dawn was FANTASTIC- very available, got us off the ship very easily in Cozumel (we docked for only 1.5 hours, then moved to tender). We thought she was much better than Monica last year on the Star

- Liked Aqua MUCH better on the Dawn than the Star- on the Star it had no personality- someone described it as cafeteria-like, and I agree. On the Dawn however it was really nice with lots of atmosphere, twinkly lights on the ceiling, interesting art, etc.

- Liked that the pool deck didn't have all that room taken up by the slides as it does on the Star

- the addition of the Cirque de Jour kids show was great- my kids were really into it, and were SOOOO excited to get to "perform" on the stage. This was a great idea.


THE NOT AS GOOD/WORSE about the Dawn:

- Flor the butler on the Dawn was not as good as Gary last year on the Star. In fact, she was the weakest of the butlers we've had so far. Everything got done, but there wasn't the personal touch/interaction that we've always had in the past- and some things took a few reminders. She didn't do a great job of making herself available, or anticipating any needs, like butlers have done in the past. She was adequate.

- popcorn was always available in the pub on the Star- no popcorn in the Pearly Kings on Dawn

- kids pool areas are quite similar, except access. On the Star you can get there from the starboard side easily- on the Dawn it's a real maze- you either have to go thru the gym or the arcade. Also, on the Star there was drink service back there via a waiter who came down from the sunning area on 13- this area isn't there on the Dawn, so no waiter. They are missing a huge opportunity there- lots of parents stuck at the kids pool would buy drinks!!

- THEY CANCELLED THE BAGS PROGRAM! This is for Tampa only, and didn't have to do with the ship per se, but was disappointing nevertheless. We had an 8pm flight and were looking forward to using it.

- my kids didn't like the kids program as well (with the exception of the circus show had the kids do, which they loved)- the LOVED it on the Star last year- this year it was only OK. They complained that the counselors "yelled a lot" and I heard other kids complaining about that too. To be fair, there were 800 kids on board this week, and last year we went the week AFTER Easter (not before) and it was mid April, so I think the kid load was probably a lot lower.



The ports:

ROATAN: once again we went to Maya Key, and it did not disappoint. The snorkeling there is fantastic. Well worth it, and the whole day is great. Had a bit of rain as the ferry went over, but it cleared up really quickly and was a great day.


BELIZE: did Bannister Island for the second time too- kids are really too young for cave tubing or ruins. It was fine- not great, but really the only beach option. This excursion had disappeared from the list prior to boarding, so I was happy when Virginia was able to get us tickets for it. I wish there were other beach options in Belize, or easier ways to take advantage of the great snorkeling there is there.


COSTA MAYA: Maya Chan- also a repeat from last year- another great time, though maybe not as great as last year. It was really windy, with lots of sea grass washing in (which they did a good job of raking) but also there were lots of people there (they've expanded the number of palapas) and I think the service didn't seem quite as personal as last year.


COZUMEL: we tried Nachi Cocom this year for the first time and thought it was great. Kids loved it, parents loved it, it was easy and had everything you'd need. Food was good, drinks were plentiful, and everyone had fun.


That about sums it up- for disembarkation we left our bags out with "priority" tags, and chose to just leave the ship without the concierge escort at about 9:00. Waited a short time (maybe 10-15 minutes) through the line, and then got a porter, got bags, through customs (all very quick), and the porter walked all our stuff over to the aquarium where they kept it for free while we spent the day there. We were the last ones out of the aquarium at 5:00, grabbed a taxi to the airport, had dinner, and headed home.


Let me know if you have any specific questions!!

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Welcome Back! Since the Star and the Dawn are my favorite ships in the NCL fleet I really welcomed your comparison. IMO, I agree that Monica leaves a lot to be desired. However, we did not have a suite on the Dawn and therefore I am not familar with Virginia. I also agree with your comparisons regarding Aqua. Thank you for your review. :)

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Thank you for your thoughts. We'll be on the Dawn in a couple weeks and I'm reading and taking in as much as I possibly can about her.


--(Off Topic) I thought that same thing about the water slides on the Star too. They just took up too much space for the amount of use they got. I wish NCL would admit the mistake, suck it up, and move them out. They were barely used when we were on the Star. Most of the time they were chained off, and when they were open practically nobody used them. Our 13 year old son went down it once. Yes, only once. At the bottom he rolled his eyes, gave us a sarcastic "wow", and never went down again. We watched a few people go down the slides over the week, mostly kids but some adults, and they all had a sad look of disappointment on their faces when they reached the bottom.


--We love Maya Key as well. Next time we go to Roatan it's a no-brainer for us as to where we're going.


--It's nice to hear good things regarding the concierge, Victoria. I just learned that she will be the concierge for our Dawn cruise.

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I have seen a few people have commented on how nice Maya Key was and am strongly considering going there. Has anybody been to both Maya Key and Little French Key that could give me a comparison of the 2 and recommend which is nicer?

Edited by BiXLL

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When we were on the Dawn in November of 2012, we had popcorn in the Pearly King all the time. I wonder what happened?:confused:

We had it too.

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