Are cruise industries going through the same kind of decline in quality/service like the airline industries? We loved the cruise vacation because of the “magic” you experience but that cruise magic was not quite there this time around.
This was our 7th cruise but the first with our daughter (4 year old). It was the second time on Dawn.
Although it was fun trip for all of us, I could not help notice the decline in the quality of service in general. Nothing major but a little things here and there...
It started from the embarkation. We had the priority embarkation but it was very uncoordinated and we were moved around from space to space due to a lot of confusion among the staff (also the waiting room was so tiny with not enough chair).
Throughout the cruise, we noticed the general unfriendliness/indifference among servers. Some of the bartenders were quite rude. This was new to us - we always received exceptional service from almost everyone working on the ship, no matter which type of room we booked (we’ve been in everything from interior stateroom to suite). Not sure if cruise staff’s working condition has deteriorated in recent years which is a serious concern on its own.
Also, there seem to be a fewer number of staff on board. There were no servers at the pool area which led to the very long line at one pool bar that was open during a day. There was nobody controlling the line either so the bar area was very chaotic, not to mention bartenders could not keep track of who was there first.
Kids pool area received no attention from the crew throughout a day so it got quite slippery as the day went on (and quite dangerous).
Buffet was always chaotic. During breakfast, for some reason, omelet station was at the end of the buffet line which literally clogged up the entire line (as people had to stop and wait on the omelet being made which obviously takes several minutes per order). This arrangement made no sense to me.
Quality of entertainment was sub par as well. After long winter, I was so looking forward to getting into the tropical mood and was even looking forward to hearing all of the cruise “staple” songs but there was none of that. Quite disappointing. Also there was a lack of entertainment between 7-10pm in general, other than the show. Our daughter loves to dance so we were looking forward to the “family dance party” but the band was playing 50’s-60’s oldies. Not quite the “family” dance party we were looking for.
The most disappointing thing was that there was no towel animals!!! Ok, ok. I personally don’t care if there were towel animas but I thought this was a given on cruise ships and I was actually looking forward to it because of our daughter. Maybe cruise ships don’t do this anymore because of environmental concerns (less laundry)?, which is understandable.
Despite all of these, we still had lots of fun and made good memories. Staff at Cagney’s and other speciality restaurants were great and very friendly to our daughter. Our room attendants were equally great and always made sure we had everything we needed. We had unlimited beverage package which worked out great since typically our bar tab gets pretty high (although we were back in our room by 9 almost every day this time around - price of being older parents with young kid!!).
Another big plus was the size of the room. It was huge for a cruise ship (and definitely bigger than the higher level suite on other ships). We were in 12028. It was definitely worth every penny.
Ship itself is getting dated but it’s adequate. Everything worked fine. There’s only one pool so needless to say, it gets very crowded on sea days. You will not get a lounge chair unless you “hoard” it by mid-morning.
For excursion at Costa Maya, we actually booked one day resort pass at one of the beach resort ourselves since the review of beach excursion offered by the cruise was horrifying. It worked out great. It was 10 min cab ride to the resort and we spent almost all day there. Beach was very kid friendly because of shallow water and gentle tide (lots of seaweed though so it’s definitely not a pristine sandy beach).
Overall, Dawn is a good budget ship option but if you are looking for high quality, extravagant experience, or special personal experience, this is not it.
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