To honor my In-Laws, my husband and I splurged and gave them a 50th Anniversary Cruise... booking us all in Suites. They had a Family Suite which was recently added to the fore of the boat. It was very nice, with floor to ceiling windows. The bathroom in particular was long and spacious with a separate bath/shower. They had plenty of room, and even though my sister-in-law roomed with them, there was space to spare.
My husband and I had an aft Penthouse, which we've had before. Both of these Penthouses have butler/concierge service, which truly makes a cruise memorable. We also had the privilege of dining at Cagney's (a specialty restaurant) for both lunch/dinner. We sailed on the Pearl this past summer, and I in particular had been very disappointed in the food. However, the Dawn's cuisine was MUCH better, I thought. I'm rather picky when it comes to seafood. There was only one meal I didn't like, and that happened to be at lunch at Cagney's. The Venetian main dining room had delicious fish and shrimp. Two dishes stood out: the Thai chicken and shrimp (absolutely awesome!) and the Norwegian specialty salmon, which is served as an option every night. I got it two nights, it was so excellent! Both times I loved it. We also dined at the Moderno Churriscarria, and it was quite good. Copious amounts of food!
The ship staff was very friendly, I thought. This is our 6th sailing with NCL, and even though this is an older ship, it was spic-n-span and the reviews I've read about the crew seeming "tired" or "weary" didn't necessarily apply. Most of the people we spoke to on board were very positive and good-natured regarding their staff positions. Most seemed to enjoy what they did, despite working such long stints before time-off. I found that impressive.
The itinerary was quite good. This was my 2nd cruise to the W. Caribbean, and also my second time to Roatan & Belize. This will be my last visit to Roatan. The poor population of Honduras is so terribly impoverished that there were armed guards in Coxen Hole to prevent mishap. When I say armed guards, I mean they were EVERYWHERE, and they were carrying automatic rifles, shotguns, revolvers, you name it!!!!!!! This was the very first stop on our trip, and as an experienced traveler, I can tell you, I did NOT feel safe. I KNOW my poor in-laws were nervous! My prediction is that NCL won't be continuing their port service to Roatan, as such a daunting presence of armed guards isn't something tourists will embrace. Nor will anyone wish to stroll through town surrounded by hoards of begging children or natives hawking their wares. I hadn't been so heckled since I visited Egypt!
As suite passengers, we had tender privileges, so didn't have any issues with waiting in lines for a ride back to the ship when we needed one. NCL is VERY good about seeing that their suite passengers get first-class service. However, I felt bad for the people waiting in the LONG lines in both Belize, then especially in Cozumel. Apparently, NCL boats in Cozumel rotate docking privileges from week to week, and we had the off week during our cruise. I heard nightmare tales of people waiting for over two hours in line to get back to the boat! That really is VERY poor service.
One night, we had a cake served to my In-laws in the Main Dining Rm. It was very nice, and the staff sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to them in honor of their Anniversary. They thoroughly enjoyed their "first cruise" experience and My husband and I love Bingo, and during each game, we found the Dawn to have especially generous pay-outs. I wound up winning the last game on the boat, which had a payout of over $2000! I split it with another gentleman who won the same time I did, so we both pocketed over $1000 cash!
I would definitely continue sailing with NCL, especially in Aft guestrooms. Our room steward, David was very good. He had a real gift with towel art. Our butler (Lazi) was very gracious, and our concierge (Virginia) was TOPS! With a larger party of five in two suites, she was so helpful. She even got my sister-in-law and I scheduled for an extra shore-excursion.
We truly enjoyed our Thanksgiving Anniversary cruise!