Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by 5bikes2dogs: Great cruise
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First of all we loved leaving from Boston, since we only live 2 hours away. Not taking a plane gave us the leeway to bring along extra stuff - like games for kids and adults - for those quiet times on sea days. Getting on board in Boston was easy and quick. There was a line to wait in, but it moved quickly. Parking was pretty close and 17 dollars a day.
We had a cabin with a balcony - and it was a great cabin. It was quite roomy with a queen size bed and a sofa that opens up. There was a slide out screen between the two sleeping areas. Four (or five if you include as small child) would be quite comfortable in this cabin. The only warning is that the sofa bed is as hard as a rock and uncomfortable. The bathroom was spacious with a separate door to the toilet area and a tub with a sliding screen. One caveat was the cruise supplies body wash and shampoo - but no conditioner!! This was a big deal for my daughters, luckily we brought our own. Our party also had an inside More cabin and a outside window cabin. These were adequate for 3, but 4 is too tight in these type of cabins. Bring one of those extension cords with multiple outlets as there was only one american type outlet in the cabin.
The food in general was excellent. There was a bit of a wait in the dinning rooms, but my interpretation was that the food was being individually prepared because it always came out hot and fresh. Once when we went at peak dinning time the wait for our food was very long and we got very frustrated and left for the buffet. One caveat, the quality of the steaks in the main dinning room was poor. They looked like supermaket quality steaks, not that you would receive in a restaurant. I'm sure in the pay extra steak restaurant their steaks are top quality. Freestyle dinning means you eat whenever you want, and so there are not a flood of people arriving all at once and this does give a more intimate flavor. The problem is that everyone wants to eat at the same time so that at 6 to 7:30 there can be long lines for the dinning rooms. Since we were a party of 12, we decided to eat early to avoid the waits. We only ate in one "extra price" restaurant, the italian one, and we were disappointed in the food. The food in the main dinning rooms was excellent, and we did not have a need to go elsewhere. Some of our party did go to "noodles" for asian noodles and suishi and that got great reviews. The buffet style garden cafe had a great variety of foods, and everyone found something they liked there. Some preferred it to the main dining rooms. We did have one vegan in our group and he found it difficult to eat in the main dinning rooms and he was much happier in the buffet area because there were more options, such as Indian vegetarian dishes. Kids also much preferred the buffet. I was pleasantly surprised how they had hand washing stations everywhere and how important hygiene was on the ship.
Service on the boat was very good and everyone was friendly and accommodating. Your tips are automatically charged to you stateroom, so be prepared to see that on your room charge at the end of the cruise. Service was perhaps a step below those cruises where you leave your tips individually but overall very good with no problems.
On-board entertainment was standard cruise stuff - corny shows. There is definitely room for improvement here. The standouts were the second city comedy troup and these two singers Patti and Jose who did standout versions of songs from the 60's 70's 80' with some country mixed in. They had standing room only at there shows and the kept people entertained for hours. Some of the piano players were excellent as well.
My daughter who is 8 years old hated the kids program. She thought it was too much like babysitting and not enough fun activities. My teenagers liked the freedom to go and do whatever they wanted. Don't miss family dodgeball at 10:00 am.
The port area in Bermuda is very nice. It is an abandoned royal navy fort that was converted to a museum and a tourist area. You can get a bus/ferry pass for the day or several days and ride the excellent bus and ferry system all day. They had a special shuttle bus set up for cruise passengers to go to horseshoe beach. Roads in bermuda are very narrow and taking a bus ride is entertainment in itself to watch the bus drivers squeeze through with inches to spare. We really liked horseshoe beach. It is gorgeous with beautiful sand and gentle waves and it had a lifeguard right there. However, from the port it is a half hour bus ride, a 15 minute walk down a steep road, and because there was no shade we got there, went swimming and to avoid getting burnt to a crisp packed up our things and walked back up the hill to wait for the bus. I would recommend just going to "snorkle beach" which is a 2 minute walk from the boat. It is small, but so convenient and has shaded areas. We also used the bus system to go to see the crystal caves. These were amazing. However, using the bus system, it took us 1-2 hours to get there and 2-3 hours back. Our return ferry boat was cancelled and we had to wait for the next boat. I would recommend taking the cruise organized trip or a taxi to the caves for this reason, although it does drop you off at the ferry terminal to take the ferry back instead of bringing you back to the boat. I do recommend a ferry ride into the town of hamilton to wander around as the ferry terminal is part of the public transportation system and is right next to the cruise ship terminal.
I would not recommend taking part in the Dolphin quest program where you get to swim with the dolphins. This is because as an uneducated observer they have several dolphins caged in a series of pens that seems too small for them. It seems cruel and exploitative. Avoid this at all cost.
We also did one of the snorkeling trips from the ship. They took us out to a reef and a shipwreck. It was a long boat ride out there which is several miles from shore. The reefs did not have a lot of fish on them, and the shipwreck is not as dramatic or fun as you think it would be. It was OK, but I would not do it again. This should be for those with some experience snorkeling as they take you out there and you just basically jump in to open ocean. It was just OK.
My one complaint is that we should have stayed in port at Bermuda one more day. It took us a day and half to get there and it took 2 and half days to get back. The ship was going slowly at half of its previous speed on the way back, just to take up time. Why not just stay in port that extra day.
Overall this was a great cruise, a great cruise destination and a lot of fun. Less
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