My husband and I cruised to Bermuda on July 27, 2012. This was a 7 day cruise out of Boston. Our cruise experience has been with Royal Caribbean (6), Celebrity (2), Norwegian (3), and Carnival (3). This was our third time on Norwegian Dawn. The ship is beautiful, but shows signs of age.
Embarking (getting on the ship): Very smooth! The sail departure time was 4 p.m., and we arrived at the dock at noon time which is an hour later than we usually do. In the future, we will stick to arriving at 11:00 a.m. because they do start letting passengers on at that time.
Cabins: We were in cabin #9722 and it was very quiet and fairly close to aft elevators. The buffet was on deck 12 aft, so that was convenient. Everything else was located more toward the middle of the ship so we did a lot of walking. Cabins on Norwegian are smaller than the ones on other cruise lines we have been on. Two twin beds were made into a king-size bed and it was extremely comfortable! The room was attractive and clean. There was a flat screen television in the cabin, but it got very few channels and had no pay-per-view movies to watch. Surprisingly, you are not able to check your expense balance on the t.v. so we had to go to guest relations a couple times to ask them to print out our expenses. The shower in the bathroom was quite large and had glass doors which was nice. On the other side of the shower was a sink. The toilet had its own enclosure. Beware: I do not exaggerate when I say you are a few inches of the wall on all sides of the toilet area.
Warning: I must again warn people who book cabins on deck 8 (like we did last year) that the Spinnaker lounge is on deck 7 aft and they party until about 3 a.m. with loud music. Last year, we were awake all night long with music from the band and then a DJ. On deck 9, we did not hear a thing.
Tips: Norwegian charges $12.50 per day for all passengers over age 3. Unlike other cruise lines, they will not remove it even if you ask. It covers all tips, including your cabin stewart. I don't like that. I would prefer to decide on my own what to tip.
Buffet: The buffet was great at every meal! A wonderful choice of foods and a decent variety each day. Everything was so great compared to last year when we sailed on this ship. Kudos to the chefs on the Dawn! If I could make one suggestion to the Dawn folks, I would say that salad dressing in bottles is not very appealing.
Specialty Restaurants: Note that each day, the ship offered you a bottle of wine if you book at 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. That is what we did and the wine choice was white or red and it was good. We dined at Moderno (known as the Brazilian steak house) which had a cover charge of $20. Please note that all cover charges at specialty restaurants do cover the tip. No need to add more tip unless you want to do so. If you are a meat lover, you will love this restaurant! The food was so delicious, but I was confused with the menu. I thought we would pick on entree from the menu, but not so. You get all 10 entrees offered to you! They have little "stop" and "go" cards which tell the wait staff when to bring your next entree. I have never eaten so much meat in my life! There was chicken, pork, sausages, several kinds of beef and all were very spicy. They are served by wait staff that walk around with giant skewers of each meat to offer to you. They also have an extensive salad bar. It is quite an experience and I highly recommend it.
We also ate at La Cucina which is the Italian restaurant ($10 per person). It was a nice atmosphere and service was good, but I ordered seafood fettuccini which was very dry. The bread is so good! There is not much variety on the menu.
Last year, we ate at the Teppanyaki restaurant ($25 per person) and I would not recommend it unless you have never been to that kind of restaurant before. The food was nothing special and neither was the presentation of the chefs. Last year, we ate at the French restaurant and that was really good. Note: Casual dining in all specialty restaurants (you can wear shorts), except for the French restaurant.
Main Dining Room: We did not eat there because the buffet was just too good!
Cruise Activities: There were not a lot of activities to do compared to other cruises we have been on. We did play trivia a couple of times and they have a new system where winners do not get a prize. You collect signatures and get prizes at the end of the cruise. Very odd and we never did find out where it is that you collect the prize.
Pub Crawl: Oh brother! I quit half way through it! You sign up for this event at the pool bar. Cost was $25 per person and the way it works is that you go to five different bars and get a different drink. What they don't tell you in advance is that you will be walking from bar to bar and upstairs, down stairs, back upstairs while holding your drink. There is a game mid-way and if you want to be picked on by Justin from the cruise staff during the pub crawl, just wear a t-shirt with a different cruise line name on it. Boy, does that bug him! Tell Justin that the lady with the Royal Caribbean shirt says hello!
Dating Game: Hilarious. You must go to it. I do like that Norwegian has its games scheduled at normal times instead of 10:30 p.m. or so.
Deal or No Deal: Rip off. They choose two random people to play. You buy a card (like bingo) and play along. The prizes were trinkets and a couple people won $50, but it was not worth it. Stick to regular bingo.
Shows: We saw two great shows. There was a Broadway star, Jeri Sager, who was fabulous in one show! Second City Players were improv and very funny in another show! I highly recommend both.
Ports of Call -- Bermuda. Last year we went to Horseshoe Bay Beach which was really beautiful and not crowded. I would definitely recommend this beach since they have bathrooms, umbrella and chair rentals, as well as snacks, soda, and alcohol there. We took the bus both ways for a total cost of under $8 per person, roundtrip. You can buy bus tokens when you get off the ship.
This year, we went to what is known at "the sea glass beach". It is the second stop if you take the bus. Just ask the driver to let you know. I picked up a lot of sea glass (mostly brown, green, white) and it was hot so I went in the water there. Not much of a beach, but quite interesting. When I asked at the information booth about how to get there, I was told that there no longer is sea glass there. I guess people who live in Bermuda think they own the sea glass that washes ashore. Don't listen to them. There is plenty of sea glass and we had no problem taking it on the ship.
Disembarking (leaving the ship): Great! Disembarking went smoothly. We especially liked that we didn't have to leave the cabin until were were ready to disembark. No sitting in a holding area like other ships have made us do. We were carrying our own luggage, so left the ship at about 8:45 a.m. and were off the ship by 9:00 a.m. We were taking a shuttle home and got picked up at 9:30 a.m. That is the time I would recommend if someone is picking you up. However, you will have to carry your own luggage in order to make that time.
Overall Cruise Comments: We will definitely cruise again in the future, and would consider Norwegian again. Overall, the cruise experience itself was great, but I have never been on a cruise that I didn't think was great! In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bad cruise!
If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to email me at d w 3 3 3 3 (at) yahoo (dot) com. No spaces between any letters or numbers in the email address.