This was our first time on the Dawn and we had a great time. We had a balcony room for us and a oceanview room for our teens. We drove down to Tampa and stayed at the Hampton Inn. They have free parking if you book the cruise/airport package. Checking in was fast but not as friendly as the Miami port. We are latitudes members and we didn't get any special number to board. On our second cruise in Miami we got a latitudes boarding pass. Still we got on fairly fast and began to check out the Dawn. The ship is lovely. The buffet was good all week. We did miss being able to eat outside like on the Sky but it was still good. Without the outside section the buffet area is very long! Happy happy washy washy!
Our rooms were ready very fast. Both rooms were bigger than I thought. The bathroom was very nice! I was expecting the tiny round circle shower with the shower curtain but the separate shower stall on the Dawn was a great surprise! There was plenty of room for all of our things in the bathroom and in the closet. The tv is a flat screen and the bed was very comfy. The room we had was a hull balcony. I had no idea what that meant when I booked it and it was just fine. We had 2 small chairs and you really couldn't have fit a full beach chair on it to sun in, but that was fine too. Still nice to walk out and get fresh air and a view of the ocean whenever we wanted.
We waited up top to pass under the Sunshine Skyway bridge. It was beautiful but much colder than we expected! People brave enough to get in the hot tub up front we very cold in all the wind. After passing under the bridge we ate at the buffet for dinner and went to enjoy some shows.
Day 2--day at Sea and New Year's Eve!
We had the buffet for breakfast (and we used the buffet most of the week so I won't mention it again. I did have the banana chilled soup and dark cherry chilled soup. I saw the orange carrot chilled and blue berry chilled as well during the week.)
The cruise critic meet and greet was this morning in the Star Bar! The crew had set out coffee, water, juice and pastries for us. The captain and officers came in just to meet our little group. Very nice of NCL! It was New Year's Eve and Norwegian's night out. Many people were dressed up and EVERYONE must have been eating out. We went to the Venetian and still had to wait about 45 minutes to be seated. That has never happened to us before. When we were seated the staff was great and the food was out fairly quick and was very good.
After dinner we went to the Not So Newlywed Game. Very funny as always! Afterwards we went to the party by the pool. The staff was giving out noisemakers and party hats. A 2012 ice sculpture was by the pool. Champagne was given to everyone for the New Year's toast! The ice sculpture now said 2013. After we counted down we turned back the clocks and did it again! We passed into central time zone that night so two count downs! It was fun!
Day 3 We docked at the port in Roatan. We had a private van tour of the island that had a boat mangrove tour in the middle. It was a very nice tour and much of the island is lovely. Our guide took us wherever we wanted and would stay as little or as long as we wanted at each stop. She also gave us many photo taking opportunities. The tour also stopped at the iguana farm that we all enjoyed. You could feed them and there were also monkeys and fish to see. The staff was very friendly. A Princess ship was also in port but it did not feel crowded at all. We shopped a little then got back on board to enjoy the ship and the pool. That evening we enjoyed the Second City comedy show, the Battle of the Sexes game and Dancing with the Dawn Stars.
Day 4 We had to tender in Belize but we got early tender tickets and it went pretty fast. Belize City is beautiful and the port shopping is nice.We booked an excursion through the ship to the Altun Ha Mayan ruins. We did the bus tour, there was a longer tour that included a river boat ride but we didn't want to be gone the entire day. The tour guides and bus driver were very nice. The bus was not crowded. The ruins are very interesting and you can ask many questions. We could climb up in a few places. We only did one because at this point it was very hot! The bus ride back to port was again bumpy but easy and you can stop at a restaurant for a free rum punch or be dropped back off in the port. In port this day with us were Princess, Carnival and the NCL Star. Again we did not feel crowded. We tendered back with ease to enjoy the ship.This night we ate in the Aqua dining room. It was very good as well. We saw the Arte Diem show and the perfect couple game show.
Day 5 We docked in Costa Maya. We booked at Maya Chan and it was fabulous! Everyone was fantastic. The staff is so friendly! Lunch was also amazing. They offered kayaking, sports equipment, floats and the little ones next door got sand buckets to play with. This port also had nice shopping and the crew was out dancing when we got back to the ship. We were in port with HAL and RCL and again did not feel crowded.
Ok everyone...here is my one complaint! This evening we were in the Spinnaker to see the Second City comedy troupe again. The place was standing room only and very uncomfortable. Why wasn't this put in the theater as well? It was at a time in between theater shows. We saw may people leave when they saw they had to stand. And since we were standing we did not buy any drinks. So NCL you lost drink money this night. I think this was very poor planning!
Complaint part 2-----The White Hot Party was this night and we did not go. It was in the Spinnaker as well! WHY? There was no way in the world that you could dance with all those chairs and the tiny dance floor. On the Sky the White Hot Party is by the pool and you have that area plus all around the upper deck people are dancing and having a good time as well. Why have this party inside? Especially after the comedy troupe filled the club you would assume that the party would ring in more people. Again poor planning in my opinion.
I must note that my complaint would not prevent me from choosing the Dawn again.
Day 6 We had to tender in Cozumel. We had to wait a bit, but we were only shopping this day so no hurry. We walked up and down the street and visited many stores close to the port. We grabbed lunch before heading back to the ship. I do have to say that in Cozumel we felt crowded and the vendors were quite pushy. I didn't like it at all. There were 8 ships in port this day and you could tell. We didn't wait too long to tender back to the ship. We relaxed the rest of the day on board. We did notice that we were very late and that tender boats were coming well past all aboard time. The captain later announced that a tender boat had broken down and we left over an hour late. We then had to turn back to let a crew member off to be treated at the hospital so now 2 hours late. It turned out fine in the end. Maybe NCL needs a new tender boat operator? Some people waited for an hour for a boat!
It was the chocolate buffet this night! So pretty and very good! It seemed that everyone had chocolate for dinner. We didn't see any shows this night, just relaxed! A little note I will add here...our room stewards were great!
Day 7---Day at Sea This day had so many activities listed on the Freestyle daily it was crazy! Things to do all day long!!! We enjoyed the hot tubs, our balcony, and many games! We bought our photos early as they have specials early! (look for that in your daily!) We went to the captain's Q&A session and it was very interesting. We saw the crew's talent show in the afternoon. Later we saw the Bollywood show. We saw the Second City Adult show, then the Quest adult game. It was too funny to see that! The farewell party sounded great but we left early to chill before bed.
Day 8--I woke up very early and it was so foggy outside in Tampa! I slept a bit longer and then woke up to pack. Surprisingly at 7:45am right on schedule the early walk off was announced. We weren't quite ready yet and hurried to eat and get ready to go.Walk off and customs was a breeze and a quick taxi back to our vehicle and we were on our way.
Overall this was a great trip on a great ship with a great crew. I would go on the Dawn again.