Just came back from a cruise aboard Norwegian Dawn. Weather and seas were great.
Embarkation - For those of you who cruised prior to being able to enter information on line (10 to 12 years ago). Remember the long lines outside the building that turned into rows of seats where you waited and then became another line to secure your room key. Norwegian Dawn brought that back. I really do not know how long embarkation took but it was the longest and least organized in at least 10 years. When they finally took our row of seats, it took talking to 4 employees and we still weren"t sure we were in the right line.
When we went through security, they asked if there was any liquor in our bags. I answered yes 2 750 ml bottles of wine. The reason I had that wine was that the NCL agent I had talked to said that was permitted. She failed to tell me that there was a $15 corkage fee per bottle even if you intended to consume it in your room. I have taken wine on many other cruise lines and they only require a corkage fee if you take the wine to the dining room. I told them to hold it until after the cruise where I could take it home and uncork it for free. I guess people don't tell her that because the girl had a really hard time complying with that request.
Then we went on board and ordered drinks to have with our lunch. I live in the Philly/New Jersey area and am acquainted with large priced drinks but this was crazy. I just sat and looked at the bill. It's funny how events alter your cruise. Because I do not need liquor to enjoy myself (although I enjoy it) and between the corkage fee and the high prices I ended up spending about 1//4 the amount I usually spend on drinks. I don't mind giving a fair price for a fair product but if you try to cheat me, I will just not buy anything.
I would like to make a comment about the excursions. I usually stick to the ship's excursions because I feel they are safer and you do not have to worry about missing the ship. On this cruise, however, the cruise excursions were poorly organized and late. On the second port, Belize, they were so late that by the time we reached the Mayan ruins, they could only give us 12 minutes to climb the ruins. I am 64 years old. I paid for a full tour not one cut by 2 1/2 hours and their explanation - someone on both our tour and the one next to us (the zoo) had overslept and they did not want them to have a bad experience. Really!!!! What about the other 22 of us who paid $99 for a tour that was cut 2 1/2 hours short. I cancelled the rest of my excursions. More moeny NCL lost and I would not expect a full tour if you are going to use NCL's excursions.
Because we had cancelled our excursion in Cozumel, we got off the ship and walked around some of the shops - be prepared to be harangued every few steps. I kept reminding myself that at least they were trying to make a living.
We had anytime dining and had no trouble getting a seat each night. The Venetian was purported to have a dress code of long pants and closed toe shoes but of course they left people in no matter what they wore even though the front dining room allowed everything but bathing suits.
They had 1 small main pool with a tiny 4 foot deep pool adjacent and a small adult pool beside the kiddie pool. There were 2200 people on a Caribbean cruise - need I say more. The only quiet adult area were some small sun decks up front
Guest Services - Everytime I had a question or problem, they were extremely helpful
Our room stewart was great. Our room was always neat. The bathroom was suprisingly large with doors seperating the shower, sink and toilet but of course they took that space from the room. Most people around the ship were friendly but the dining room was a different story. There seemed to be an undercurrent of unhappiness and you could feel it in the way they waited on you. The food was OK. I never even saw the Maitre D.
A few good things: The Blue Lagoon - a restaurant surrounding the atrium on deck 8 with gorgeous ceilings and views of the water with 24 hour sandwiches and great wings.
The shows put on the the crew - yes the crew as you come back on board at night. It was on the dock beside the ship and was entertaining and energetic especially the one put on in conjunction with the NCL Star by the kitchen staff in Cozumel.