With "Leslie" upgraded to a category 2 hurricane and slowly heading to Bermuda on the same schedule as the Dawn, we departed Boston and headed south toward the Bahamas. Amazingly, Leslie took a turn Northeast and our Captain decided to take a triangular path to Bermuda, arriving there a day later than planned. The weather was surprisingly good and the seas were relatively calm, so we all were very fortunate with the outcome. Now onto the ship....
As experienced cruisers, we had never sailed with NCL, and based on reviews and reputation, we (2 families, including 6 twenty-something year olds) tried to temper our expectations. We ended up being surprised, both on a positive and negative basis. Here's a quick summary:
The ship itself is in very good shape, having just been refurbished in 2011.
Our cabin was among the smallest we've ever had, but again, it was modern, with an updated bathroom configuration.
Here were the surprises: On the positive side, the service was very good, particularly the wait staff and our cabin attendant (we were a bit concerned that NCL's "automatic gratuity" policy would not provide an incentive for the staff to do their best job, but it clearly was not the case). Another pleasant surprise was the health club, which was the most spacious we've seen on a ship (including the large RCL ships). Also, the entertainment was quite good (Paul Scally, the Cruise Director, is a very funny guy).
Our disappointments: The food in the main dining room was very mediocre. I'm sure NCL is focused on driving passengers to the specialty restaurants (with their upcharges), but they're really not doing a good job elsewhere.
The other odd feature is that the pool (only one on the Dawn) is very small and certainly not adequate for 2200+ passengers.
In summary, we rate this cruise a 3.5 out of 5.