After a past mediocre NCL cruise on the Sun I hadn't planned on sailing with NCL again. Events overtook me and I had a very limited time frame in which to take a New England-Canada cruise. The only other cruise available was on HAL at about $1000 more for an equivalent cabin. I prefer HAL but not $1000 per person per week more.
After my last NCL cruise, this one on the Dawn was a pleasant surprise.
I arrived at the dock in Boston and was through check-in and in my cabin in 35 minutes.
The ship was in excellent condition, it looked to be recently refurbished but a crewman said it has been 2 years,
The cabin was comfortable and out cabin attendant Jerome was very helpful with a couple of special request we had.
Except for 2 dinners and one breakfast, every meal we ate on the ship was in the main dining rooms, nearly all in the Venetian dining room and one in the Aqua (same food as the Venetian). The food was without exception very good to excellent. The meals were three course, appetizer, main course and desert, simpler than higher end cruise lines on average better food than I have had on Celebrity, Princess or HAL. Serving sizes were small, about what a person should actually eat. More food was available for big eaters, you could order double servings. I didn't but I asked if you could.
We tried 2 of the specialty restaurants. The Teppanyaki is a small Japanese style restaurant (seats apx 22 people) where the chefs cook the food on a grill right in front of you. Food was excellent, the chefs also put on a very good show with their cooking.
The Moderno, a Brazilian style restaurant on the other hand was a waste of money. The restaurant is midships on deck 8 and is open sided directly into the atrium space. If there is a performance in the atrium like when we ate there, the Moderno is extremely noisy. One of the features of the restaurant is that it serves small amount of 10 types of meat. Unfortunately all 10 types of meat were cooked until they were dried out and relatively flavorless, not at all what they should have been. The server said there was nothing that could be done about that. Maybe that's why it was less the 25% full?
Entertainment was good to excellent, no reason to give details because the entertainment changes over the months. Most main auditorium shows were small with 1 to 4 entertainers. There were a few large shows. NCL is obviously keeping costs down that way, but the quality of entertainment was still very good. There was live music several places on the ship and it was all very well done.
The cruise sailed through some interesting scenic places, unfortunately NCL didn't have naturalist or historian on board to explain what were were seeing or going to see in the next port.