This is a review of the December 16-23 sailing of the Dawn. I traveled with my adult son for an "Indiana Jones" tour of the ruins for the "End of the World". He has cruised NCL 4 times,and I have 39 NCL voyages under my belt, with 4 more on other lines. DS has been on Dawn twice and I, 3 times. While it was not an awful cruise, we were both a little disappointed in comparison to our previous cruises. There was nothing that would preclude us from sailing NCL again, but "it ain't what it used to be".
NCL sort of dropped the ball...We never received final documents (download) or a precruise call from the concierge department. This was billed as the End of the World cruise, but there wasn't a single lecture or enrichment activity relating to the event or the Maya. My son's Bronze welcome was in the cabin, but I had to chase down the concierge to obtain my Platinum benefits packet. That was the last time we saw her. Oh, I miss Alex, Anshuman, Carlos and Karan, concierges worth their weight in gold.
We originally booked a family suite, but realized that the "family" part would not be the best area to be in during the week before Christmas. From the masses of "suite" kids in Cagney's, we made the right decision to change to an aft penthouse. The amazing view of the wake almost made up for the general inadequacy of the rest of the trip. Dawn, while still fine, is a little run down. Not a single crew member smiled or returned our greetings except our butler and room attendant. They used to be so friendly. Daytime activities that were not related to Bingo or buying something were meager. Too many early PA announcements starting with "here's Johnny!" were annoying at best.
Our room attendant was adequate, cleaning up, but not closing the foldout bed during the day, despite my requests. Our butler was either very dense or did not understand English, as he could never answer questions correctly or bring what we asked for. He was very pleasant, though, always smiling. We have always had responsive and attentive butlers, this fellow was a genuine let down. (No, I do not mention names unless it is in praise)
We are definitely not food snobs, but I'm very sorry to say, almost all of the meals were had were abysmal. We ate in the MDR twice (a first for us) and never finished a meal there, due to the extremely low quality of the food. The prime rib could have been used for shoe soles, it was so tough and tasteless, Meats in Cagney;s, Bistro and Moderno were substandard, and inedible at times. Even dependable old Teppanyaki was not as good as it used to be, with lower quality food and less of a "show". We ate a lot of French bread, fruit and cheesecake! Did you know they go through over 1000 loaves of French bread a day?
I had taken this itnerary before, my son had not, all of our excursions were themed to archeology. Native Choice provided magnificent and informative tours to Lamanai in Belize and Chacoben in Costa Maya and and an absolutely unacceptable tour to Tulum near Cozumel on "the big day" (21st). In Roatan, we scattered a friend's ashes, as he had wished to return there.
In summary, the voyage was neither great nor horrific.....service was blah......food almost inedible. As I said before it will not keep us from booking NCL again, but they will no longer be our first choice. Too bad, we had a great run.