August 2015 - Dawn Princess to Other (Asia/Africa/Middle East)
We chose to cruise back from Singapore to Fremantle as we had never cruised before, and liked the idea of arriving home refreshed instead of jetlagged for a change. Also, the larger on-board luggage limit meant any Singapore, or other port's purchases would not cost anything extra to post.
We had high expectations of getting good and varied cuisine aboard, but had expected less of the entertainment side of things. I was hoping for a magic act, and I wasn't disappointed! We had Phil CASS, who absolutely wowed us. We had not expected the acts to have been this good! I had expected the standard you get at a medium to large pub, and here was acts suitable for larger venues such as the concert hall, or Opera House.
From that point on, we caught every act and show we could. We were not let down. The Showtime Dancers put on several shows, all of a very high standard, and had a male and female lead singers who could do just about everyone. Even, dare I say it, Freddie Mercury. Whilst there never will be another Freddie Mercury, their rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody and other Queen hits had the punch and energy to pull it off well. And covering the 50's and 60's with songs such as "smoke gets in your eyes" will be long remembered. There was not a show we saw that was "padding". If we had paid to go see it at the Casino or another venue, we would have been happy with what we would have paid.
The staff were all friendly, and we were always kept up to date by the Cruise Director and his staff. His name was Mark Turner, and came from Stoke-on-Trent. He had a great sense of humour, and a real enthusiasm for the job.
The Captain was Tim Stringer, and he always had time to stop and chat with people, and it was clear that he was well respected by the crew. And was prepared to come out and get dunked for the Equator crossing Ceremony. It was clear there was no "us and them" within the crew ranks, being equally happy to say good morning to the Cabin crew as well as paying guests.
The Executive Chef was Klaus Baumgarten, and he ensured that we got 1st class food all the way. His presentation on cooking explained how he ran the Kitchen through respect and encouragement (unlike Gordon Ramsay's style) to ensure everyone enjoyed working on his team. A tour of the Kitchen followed, and it was spotless from floor to roof. Stainless steel everywhere, and the biggest mishap could be removed in no time, and back to spotless. Clearly, if anyone caught any germs, they did not come from the kitchen, but the hygiene of fellow guests. And no sooner had we sat at our table, the staff knew our drink preferences after the first couple of days, and we didn't have to ask.
There is clearly pressure on staff to sell you stuff, from ornaments to jewellery, art and the like. But they did not take offence when you declined an offer. And the service did not decline when I chose soft drink over wine (all you can drink package - good value)
Prior to every disembarkation, we were given a lecture on the upcoming tour, and hints to help get the most out of it. Disembarkations and embarkations were well conducted, with minimal time wasted, and plenty of staff on hand to help if needed.