First of all, We have cruised with NCL before and will do it again, but NOT with the DAWN.. We whare expecting a nice ship that was refurbished some years ago... But I was very disappointed, the overall feeling was that the whole ship was a "cheaper" issue of some of the sister ships...
The reason we keep on going back is the freestyle dining, this is a system we enjoy very much, and is the main feature that we go on with NCL.
We had great expectations for the big trip with our children and grandchildren that we wanted to experience both the cruise and the caribbean. For people from Norway this is a very adventorous journey filled with exitement and very different life than we are used to..
The embarkation was very good, we where boarding quite early and it was smooth and quickly served...
Guiding to the cabin and the cabin itself was also good enough, we had 3 cabins beside each other with balconies so that was very good from our agency: Cruisedeals.com , Mr Eric Muhlitner did a great job for us..
On our first days that where at sea, we enjoyed the ship, and saw our first disappointments..
First, the main restaurant, The Garden Cafe, it was not nice. The whole system felt cheap, and like an old ship , stressful, food was quite ok, but the whole feeling of the restaurant was like an old McDonalds restaurant.
The other issue we knew, but we had not thought much about it before entering the ship, is that NCL in our opinion has more and more restaurants wich all has an extra payment to eat there, it seems thay need to earn some more money. And in out opinion this ship looked like they dont have enough money to make it nice..
Venetian Dining rooom was a bit better, a bit more style, but the staff was very stressed, the food took a very long time, even if it was breakfast or dinner, lots of bad seatings with staff running arount the tables for getting to others, we had not any real good experiances here actually. Breakfast was good. Dinner was just OK..
AQUA Main Dining, was a very "closed" restaurant, the dinner was also just ok, good meat, but the rest was average, but staff was a bit less stressed here, and lokked like thay had a bit more time, and they also served quicker than at the Venetian.
BAMBOO restaurant,was a mixed experience, good staff, food was one evening excellent, another evening it was no good, not warm, and not good... very few visitors, and overall an average experience.
TEPPANYAKI, we had experienced this at other NCL ships and enjoyed bothe the food and the show very much.
This time it was not any experienced chef, the show was really poor, he lost knifes , spatels and the trics was not very good. The food however was good as always, but the show was a disappointment, and even more as you pay 25 dollar per person extra, it was no good...
The Bars and grills at the pool was ok, and we did not feel any pushy staff for getting drinks or anything, they where very good actually. The food is always average at such places in my opinion. easy to make an ok burger and chips...
It could however improved the icecream for children, we had great problems finding it for our grandson, and for the whole main pool area was not very friendly for children.. And for the children area I will come back after this restaurant review
BLUE LAGOON, nice place for a snack, but too few snacks, and again, very different result... Chicken wings was great, good and tasty, some of the other plates was no good, served cold etc... staff was late, and took a long time to serve..
CAGNEY STEAK HOUSE. Should be the top of restaurant at the ship I guess... Not very good winelist. menu was ok, but not more....
Meat was very mixed, some was very good, and some was just average.. But service was good, and overall feeling was that this was a nice place, but the food was not as good as expected.
LA CUCINA.. Sorry to say, another average restaurant.. especially as there is an extra fee... A very good thing here was the pizza we took every time as a "starter" on the middle of the table for everyone to take, that was really good and tasty. But the rest of the experiance was average, small menu, som food good, but also some that did not taste anything, especially the pasta.
LE BISTRO we did not visit, when we checked the menu, it was nothing that we felt like eating at that time, by all means this was 8 days out in the cruise so we was a bit "tired" of much food....
MODERNO CHURRASCARIA... Again a mixed experience..
We, the parents, did really not see any of the meat other than well done, and a bit too chewy, in our opinion then not the best meat from the start...
Those of our children that like most of their meat well done, they enjoyed this place very good..
One of the problems was also that the meat came too fast, there was no time to enjoy the different tastes of the different meat until they came back, and we did not understand if there was any system on the serving, and the different meat, so the whole experience was a bit of a mess... Not a place for us, but for those whol like a well done steak, it will be ok.
SUSHI we did not try, as we are not very fond of that, but the restaurant was not very cozy, more like a fast food place in our opinion.
The room service (used mostly for an early breakfast enjoyed at the balcony) was very nice, they came mainly 15 minutes before we orderd but called in beforehand and all was good, the meny coul maybe be chenged some from day to day ?
Overall , the eating at the ship was a very mixed experience, but the average is quite far below what we expected after our past cruising.
And also, amny of the restaurants and staff seemed to be a result of that the ship needed to save money, and to cut costs, so we will never cruise with DAWN again..
ALSO, an important change with DAWN from the other ships we attended, the aft outside restauirant. THE GREAT OUTDOORS is not at the DAWN, that is a great disappointment for people wanting to sit outside while cruising.. At DAWN it is the childrens place..
This childrens place is small, but nice, but it could easily contain some more things to do for children.. And may be somewhere to get water and maybe icecream as thay wanted to stay there for a time..
The worst thing was actually to find it.. For most people we had to go thruogh the spa/training area to come to this part of the boat... As a boat newly renovated this was quite unbeleaveble, the designer should have been fired.... Actually also whenwe experience several other restaurants (As the Garden cafe) and others , they have done a bad job in our opinion..
Another issue is the children department inside..
When a child comes from Norway, it of course speak norwegian and not english, not a problem from child to child, but if there are some things needed to be said from adult to child it needs to be understood.. Maybe in terms of crisis, or just some messages to be told...
Our Grandson , wich is 3,5 years, could not attend here, as he did not want to be with someone he could not understand, and as his mother or father wanted then to be with him, that is not allowed, and they where sendt to another room for infants, and of course with infants toys...
This was a great disappointment. I understand the safety issue for having unknown adults in the department, but then there really should have been some possibilities for such cases, this a huge disappointment in our cruise with our family.
The shows at evening was great , many nice evenings at the theatre..
The dancing evenings is not our thing, so we did not attend..
That is actually one thing I could suggest on the ships and that is to have some "conserts" with more themes, like blues, pop, jazz in special rooms..
where there was also possible to sit and talk and listen..
This ship was overall a bit like a cruise for older people all over in our opinion, should be a good ship for children with families, but in my opinion absolutely the opposite feeling..
SAMANA, No one wants to go to this city obviously, it is our second stop here, and last time visitors just went back to the ship after 20 minutes in land. This time NCL had given foc the tour to the beach at Cayo Levantado, and that beach is really very nice..
Only problem is that there are not enough sunbeds when you come late, but the sand is nice and white, the water is amazing, just a very nice experience at the beach. But as said before, no one wants to go ashore to the city..
TORTOLA, A nice harbour and island wit some beautiful beaches... Take a trip oout to the other side of the island and have a look at the beautiful scenery while you go over the hills... No actual shopping place in my mind.
We stayed the day at Long Beach, very nice,,
ST. KITTS, a very nice place to shop, good prices a lot of shops, and easy to reach... The beach is right on the other side of the shopping street and is also nice... Do a lot of shopping here.. Here we did shop some jewelry, and then stayed the rest of the time at the city beach.
ANTIGUA, has some of the really best beaches I have even seen... We just took a taxi out to a beach that the taxi driver reccomend us, and it was a true beautyful place....
As they have 360 different beaches I guess it is nice also to have a drive through the island, and there are also a lot of celebrities having houses on this island, Eric Clapton has his house an rehab centes Crossroaeds at this island also..
DOMINICA is truly the island , likely to SAMANA that I dont understand why is in the programme..The city is truly badly looking, dangerous to walk in the city, and no beaches... They say it is important as a rainforest place, but then it shoul not be so much tourism there I guess.. But the place gave us nothing. We and our grandson went ashore for 30 minutes and then went back to the ship.. Our children went to go on the ziplines and had a good time.
BARBADOS, again a nice place, to shop, to go swimming, nice town, we found a great beach right outside town, and I dont remember the name..
As our main point is to relax, go swimming, lay in the sun,most of these islands is perfect for us..
So the initiary was good, but Samana and Dominica could be chenged into more exiting places..
An overall opinion about this cruise..
The ship in our opinion is not very nice comparing to others...
NCL should improve the restaurants and the menues on those that are paid extra , this was no good value for that money.
Childrens should have better premises, those who comes from countries not speaking english has a problem at this ship, so we suggest to try another one, may be another cruise line also..
The initiary of the trip is good, and we love the cruising vacation.
Staff is always ready to help, and are very nice and do their best.
Bu, sorry to say, we will not og with DAWN again... we loved to go on the SUN, wich has a much more stylish lay out, even though it is the sister ship, it gives you a whole different atmosphere, and seems more quiet, not so stressful, and much, much more style..