Ever wonder what goes into running a cruise ship? This morning, I got an eye-opening view during an exclusive tour. For about an hour, I got to see everything from how thousands of pounds of laundry are processed each day to how food is stored, prepped and cooked for service in the ship’s two main dining rooms, Venetian and Aqua. And I scoped out the components of the ship’s recent refurb.
This much became immediately apparent: It takes an awful lot of people to keep a cruise ship running smoothly. There are about 1,100 crew members working on this 2,240-passenger ship, most of which are part of the hotel staff, meaning they take care of entertainment, dining, shore excursions and more. They work up to 10 hours a day and nine months at a time, yet it seems to me as if they’re always smiling. I’ve chatted up a number of crew members, several of whom have worked for Norwegian Cruise Line for more than 10 years, and they seem to genuinely love their jobs.
As my tour guide explained, part of Dawn’s May refurbishment included the addition of nearly 50 new cabins — most of which are family suites — to the ship. Also, the public areas of the ship were reorganized to improve appearance, flow and accessibility. Conference rooms were moved to the middle of the ship so that more cabins could have balconies and ocean views, and the Spinnaker lounge (popular with the dance-all-night crowd) was modernized and moved to a larger area of the ship. The duty-free shops were consolidated and moved to a more central area (near the atrium), and the photo gallery was relocated so that passengers would be able to scan photos without causing a bottleneck in the main thoroughfare.
Additionally, the ship’s 24-hour restaurant, Blue Lagoon, was also moved to a more central location to provide easier access, and Moderno, the line’s newest for-fee concept restaurant, was added as a specialty dining option (Norwegian Jade is set to receive it next).
Although the majority of the preexisting cabins were not spruced up, they are sparkling clean and well maintained. Some signs of age are evident, but limited to a few scratches and dents.
So what’s coming up? Project Breakaway, which will see the addition of two new vessels to the fleet. The crew members I’ve talked to aboard Dawn seem to be really excited about the upcoming ships. The impression is that the larger capacity (each will hold about 4,000 passengers and 1,500 crew) will bring more opportunities, not only for passengers to have fun but for folks to experience a type of big-ship cruising previously unknown to fans of the line.
Follow Shayne on her first cruise — get her first impressions of Norwegian Dawn, an overview of the dining options and her take on a stormy night at sea.
Find out what more than 800 Cruise Critic members think of Norwegian Dawn.
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