Background: This was our ninth cruise on NCL and 48th overall. We are Platinum members of NCL's repeat guest program, Latitudes. This was booked as a last-minute trip. My husband and I were traveling with our 14-year-old son. We had been to Bermuda once before on a Celebrity cruise when our son was three-months old (his first!). Since the pickings are slim for summer cruises, we decided to head to Bermuda to see what changes have occurred over the last 14 years. We had a blast. We had so much fun on this cruise. The weather was terrific, the people so friendly in Bermuda and the Dawn was awesome.
Flew Southwest Airlines to Boston nonstop from St. Louis. No problems with the flight. Took a taxi as opposed to taking the subway to our hotel (Cost of taxi was $24). I mention this because I had read repeated reviews of how taxis were so expensive from the airport and this was not the case for us.
Stayed at the W More
Boston for two nights using Starwood Preferred Gold points. Great hotel, loved the location in the theater district and we were close to everything including the metro, which is just one block away. Great restaurants across the street. Would stay here again in a second.
Late morning on Friday, July 13, we hopped in a cab and went directly to Black Falcon Terminal. Cost was only about $8.
Embarkation -- Arrived at port about noon and carried on our bags. There was a long line for those that wanted to give their bags to the porters. Went around the line and directly up the escalator with our bags. Each contained several bottles of wine, which were detected by security. We went over to the table and paid our corkage fee. Same process as every other cruise with NCL: Show the bottles, have them affix the "Corkage Paid" sticker to each bottle, sign receipt showing fee will be put on your Sail and Sign Card.
This was our first cruise as Platinum members of the Latitudes program. We were directed to the VIP check in line and waited for mere seconds before we directed to an open representative. Things could not have gone smoother or quicker. Made our way on the ship and we were greeted with the crew dancing and welcoming us onboard.
Made our way to our cabin, #10592, and was greeted with a fruit basket and bottle of the infamous Tisdale merlot, which we received from our online travel agency. Later in the week, we received a bottle of sparkling wine. Checked over the material left in our room, which included the Platinum benefits we were to receive for the week. Also, we received onboard credit from my travel agency but the amount was not correct. Turns out the cabin steward just didn't put all the envelopes in the room. Checked with the front desk and everything was good. Even had more OBC than expected!
Cabin: #10592, mid ship balcony, starboard side. Booked as a guarantee. Great location for midship and aft activities. Room was small but still comfortable for three people. Our 14-year-old son slept on the pullout sofa. It was comfortable especially with the addition of extra padding per our great cabin steward, Frank, from Costa Rica.
Managed to overpack by a few pieces but not much. Brought along a pop up hamper (Dollar Tree, $1) were we put dirty clothes in the closet. We also took advantage of our Platinum laundry benefit - Each platinum receives the "Laundry Bag" special whenever it is offered. We had laundry done twice during the week, two bags each.
Two waffle robes were provided. The bathroom is good size and some complained about the toilet being in a separate area but I actually liked this. There was also nice shelf space above and below the sink for all of your toiletries.
Sailing back to Boston, we watched whales swimming near the ship! Pretty cool!
Our first night, we didn't feel like dressing up and went to Aqua around 8 p.m. Waited for 20 minutes. The place was packed and service was not as good as it could have been because there were numerous large parties of 18, 20 or more people all around us. We ended up in the Venetian on the last night and were surprised to see people entering with shorts and definitely not adhering to the dress code. It is a beautiful restaurant and service was tremendous! Wish we had tried to eat here more during the week if we had known it was going to be that good.
Ate twice at LeBistro, great experiences as usual though there were some others dining around us that I felt so sorry for. Anniversary dinners spoiled due to lack of attention. People having to get up to get their wine/champagne from the ice bucket because their glasses were not being filled, not ordering dessert.
Also ate at Cagney's, much better this time around than in previous dinners on different ships. Had lunch at Teppanayki ($12.50 per person with an abbreviated menu). Also ate dinner one night at the Italian restaurant, LaCucina. Didn't try Moderno. On our cruise, if you made a reservation at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and paid for two cover charges, you received a complimentary bottle of Tisdale Merlot or Chardonnay. If you didn't want the wine, you could opt to have 20 percent off another bottle of wine from NCL's wine list. You could also take the bottle back to your room or have it sent to another restaurant to enjoy on another night.
When we managed to eat breakfast, we opted for the buffet. Food was good here as well but the crowds left something to be desired. Again, the many large groups on board felt that they had to sit together every second, move in the lines together etc., this caused a big backup in many areas.
Also did Blue Lagoon for breakfast once (never again due to the wait) and a couple of times for lunch. Wings were good as usual and my guys loved their fish and chips. Still enjoy the Sun's Sports Bar and the Sky's Longboard's much better than the Blue Lagoon.
The Chef's Table was promoted quite a bit. Didn't participate but it was held at 6:30 p.m. after we left Bermuda for the trip back to Boston. Cost is $75 a person. Limited to 12 people. We thought about doing this but after seeing the wine pairings decided it wasn't special enough to justify the cost. Others would probably be happy with the choices.
WEATHER: We had wonderful weather for our cruise. The week prior and after ours were inundated with storms and rain. The humidity level was high and that is coming from someone who lives in the South. That said, NCL always welcomed everyone back with cold water and lemonade; chilled towels that were in coolers with ice; couches and chairs to sit in under covered areas and dancing!
We arrived in Bermuda on a Sunday and decided to hang around the Royal Naval Dockyard. Went to the beach there and afterward to the fort. We bought our ferry/bus tickets very easily (cash only).
Next day, we took the ferry to St. George. We were offered a wonderful, FREE walking tour (1.5 hours). Lovely, lovely time in St. George. Saw the replica of the Deliverance, Fort St. Catherine, St. Peters Church and may other sites.
Went back to the ship to eat lunch and actually remained there instead of proceeding onto another beach. That evening, there was a community fair (for lack of a better word) going on at the Royal Naval Dockyard. Music, dancing, arts and crafts, local food. It was lovely!
On our last day in Bermuda, we decided to hit the secret beach past Horseshoe Bay (umbrellas and chairs were $15 each plus a deposit). We got one umbrella and threw our towels down in the famous pink sand. BEAUTIFUL!
We did take the Sunset Catamaran cruise through NCL and had a very enjoyable time. $54.99 a person.
Life boat drill was held at 3:15 p.m.
Trivia was held in Pearly Kings Pub usually around 6:30 p.m.
Shows usually were held at 7 and 9:30 p.m. though the Welcome Aboard show was at 7 and 9 p.m. Bollywood was the most popular show of the week and it was held on the last night. Note there was one night where only one show was offered at 9 p.m.
Johnny Cash Sanchez was our Cruise Director. We also had him on the Sky this past February. He does an outstanding job. I understand isn't on the Dawn anymore (as I am writing this on Oct. 10, 2012).
Presumed Murder Lunch with Second City was held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday (note: The Dawn did a Friday-Friday sailing when going to Bermuda). Have to sign up in advance. Time announced in the Freestyle Daily. Cost is $25 per person.
Group Dinners: Traveling in a large group, let us help you arrange your dinners, gathering and offer tips for smooth sailing for your entire party. Visit the Guest Services Deck in the Grand Atrium on Deck 7 midship for more information and assistance.
Buckets of Beer - Buy five and get one free.
Wine package: Purchase six to eight bottles from NCL's special wine list and get a 20 percent discount.
Behind the Scenes Tour. Had to sign up before noon on Monday. Limited participants only. Cost is $55 a person but free for Platinum Latitudes. You must wear closed toe shoes. They wouldn't allow me with socks and sandals (all I had) so I had to run to the gift shop and purchase some Crocs. The tour was absolutely wonderful and would do it again in a second. We saw so many things and especially enjoyed the laundry facilities and the environmental systems. Must be able to walk and climb stairs and stand unaided for a minimum of 2.5 hours. No camcorders or video recorders are allowed.
Pub Crawl - The Pub Crawl was alive and well. Five bars, five drinks in 55 minutes. $25 + 15 percent automatic gratuity. In retrospect, I would not sign up to participate again. We had more than 150 people joining in. The drinks were served in plastic cups (plus one can of Coors Light) and were just not that wonderful. Think it was a waste of money.
Pizza - Decided to try it once as well. $5 for a 16-inch pizza. The choices are cheese, pepperoni and a vegetarian option. However, we ordered a pepperoni and sausage pizza with mushrooms added on one half. The pizza was just fine and served its purpose as a late-time snack. The toppings were generous and we were only able to finish about half of it among the three of us. Delivered hot.
OSA - Organized Staff Activity. Look for the events in the Freestyle Daily that are noted with an asterick. At the end of the cruise, you can get prizes like a NCL T-shirt.
Second City Comedy - Love them even if I have seen the same routines before. Wish they held the show in a larger venue than the Spinnaker Lounge as seating was at a premium every time.
Deal or No Deal game show, the circus workshop, chocolate crossaints, Duo Acrobatique, Band on the Run, White Hot Party, and the vocals of Arvin and Emily.
In summary, we had a fabulous time on the Dawn. Bought another Future Cruise Deposit and cannot wait to sail again on NCL. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them. Sorry it has taken so long to post but better late than never! Less