First, as this is not a positive review, let me tell you something about myself. I have fun where ever I go. When I hear people complain, I often will tell them to focus on the good , relax, and enjoy. My husband and I split our living for many years between Boston and Manhattan. I can just as easily enjoy eating a street corner hot dog or a Macdonald's Big Mac, as I can dining in some of the most fantastic elegant restaurants both cities have to offer. I have actually NEVER been on a vacation and come home disappointed, until now. And I have been on a couple of vacations that some people would call....disasters :o). I love a great loud party as much as I revel in my quiet solitude. In short , I am easy to please. That being said , here goes.
I have two positive things to say about The Norwegian Dawn, both involve the staff. One is, the staff was one of the most accommodating, happy, willing to help staffs I have ever encountered. They continuously went above and beyond expectations in all efforts, from question answering , to friendliness and making every effort that was in their control, to help us have a great cruise. But there is only so much they could do to save this basically horrible cruising experience.The casino was another positive note.It too was filled with accommodating friendly drink servers. They offered many different slots to choose from and it never seemed crowded.I took refuge here a lot.Now the negatives.
First, the food. I took this cruise with a friend who loves a good buffet.The buffet was atrocious. I mean downright rotten. We both know what to expect at a buffet and were not expecting the cruise line's best food, but this was ridiculous. The smell in the room , until you became accustomed to it, was enough to make you think twice before filling your plate. There was an odd displeasing aftertaste to all of the meat products, except the hot dogs and hamburgers. There was very little variety day to day, so expect odd tasting meat , and the same awfully prepared Indian dishes every meal !!! We were able to find 1 or 2 things we could eat , and because of what I called the "no variety rule" , we were able to eat those for lunch repeatedly. By the forth or fifth day of the cruise this was no longer true. The potato salad, I had at least enjoyed previously, had now been doctored up with some new ingredients , making me wary that it was getting old and they were attempting a cover up. Same story with the macaroni salad. I just stuck to green salad and hot dogs.
The included dinner venues were not that much of a step up. Food tasted mass prepared ,exactly like high school cafeteria food. You could eat it , but certainly wouldnt say any of it was tasty. The third night in I had a nice piece of salmon. I decided to order it again the next night and got a skinny tough piece of fish that definitely was NOT salmon, yet it was pink?!?! This caused me a lot of concern. Another evening my friend ordered the turkey dinner. The top piece was a dry slice of turkey and the other two small pieces underneath were pork medallions !!!! We had given up at this point and didnt even send it back. These are just a few examples ; I will tell you every night was the same type of experience.
So now we have had it. We give in to the specialty restaurants. The first one we try is Le Bistro. My friend's fillet has the same funny meat aftertaste we experienced in the buffet. My swordfish is frozen and on par with maybe a Friendly's or some other kid's chain restaurant. Our appetizers, certainly nothing special. We truly give up now. We mainly eat at the 24 hour cafe. Their chicken wings are fine, cold , but ok., and the pannini is almost good.
The desserts broke my heart. Lil' Debbie must have been somewhere on the ship. Enough said.
On to the pool. Notice I say the pool, not the pools. There is one small pool for 2000 passengers !!!! I saw a children's pool somewhere, but most parents understandably , want to keep their family together. So everyone , all together , off to the one pool ! The pool was so over crowded on the at sea days , that it was impossible to go in to cool off without rubbing up against the bodies of other passengers. I am not giving in to exaggeration here. The pool was tiny, uncomfortable, and not able to accommodate the amount of passengers Norwegian had crammed on to this ship. I fled to the adults only deck. Alas, I couldnt stay there long , as it is mid August hot and the adults only area is on the 12th deck , with no shade , and you guessed it, no pool. They did provide a hot tub , seriously , a hot tub , to cool off in the hot southern sun.I would have appreciated even a cooling shower head, but this was not the case. I end up spending $119 to use the spa for the duration of the cruise. There is a small private pool and very few people there. It is inside, so no sun, but at least I could be in a pool,something most of us associate with a cruise. Maybe this is Norwegians goal, to make us spend money on things we thought would be included in our vacation. Well in one sense it works. I did spend the money to use the spa. In another sense ,it is the very worst of ideas, to not give people even their lowest expectations, as I will never , not ever , cruise on The Norwegian Dawn again.
The activities I expected were nonexistent. The fun dance lessons I took with my husband on our last cruise didnt exist here on Norwegian Dawn. The cooking classes my friend attended on her last cruise were nowhere to be found on the itinerary, I guess we should be thankful for that omission. The bingo costs $20 and was only one called game and one winner. It lasted all of 15 minutes.Most of the workout classes were of course extra cost and there were very few to choose from . I simply walked the 7th deck every day, and did my push ups in any unoccupied corner. The bigger shows and entertainment are not really my thing,I am hard to please when it comes to shows. I think it is only fair that other people's reviews are looked to for a fair critique of that type of entertainment.
My cabin was fine. Nothing special or outstanding, but it did have comfortable beds. The balcony was old and dirty, but we sat on it and enjoyed it everyday. The water didnt work on three separate occasions on this cruise. That is unacceptable. Three different days and three different times there was no water available to shower or wash up.
My friend and I laughed hard for 8 straight days. We enjoy each others company and managed to have a great time with very little help from Norwegian Dawn. Our great time was, I stress, in no way related to The Norwegian Dawn. Please spend your hard earned vacation time and money elsewhere.I can only review the ship and warn you of our experience, please go somewhere else.I wrote this review in the hopes that some people would take it to heart and not waste their vacation.