This was our 10th cruise, and my 4th one with NCL. I found the Dawn clean and the staff were very attentive to our needs. All of the staff from the Captain, his Senior Staff and down were very friendly and would always address you with a pleasant greeting. I liked the fact that the Captain and his Senior Staff , were highly visible and were happy to talk with passengers and pose for pictures.
My wife and I booked a lower oceanview cabin and found that this "oceanview" was actually a small porthole instead of the usual picture window, which was disappointing. The bathroom in our cabin was partitioned into 3 areas and unless you were a very petite person, you were going to have problems fitting into the toilet section. The shower area, however was beautifully large. The cabin itself was attractive and had abundant storage. Our cabin stewards were excellent, the cabins were well maintained and we were greeted each night with a wonderful towel animal and a mint on our pillow.
We ate in three of the specialty restaurants and found the food and service in La Trattoria (Italian) and Salsa (TexMex)were top of the line. We also tried the Sushi Bar where they had all you can eat Sushi for $10.00. The service was great, but the selection was poor in the all you can eat, so several of us opted to go Ala Carte. This was a little more money, but a better choice for anyone who is a true sushi/sashimi lover. The main restaurants (Venetian, Impressions and Aqua) were beautiful, but you should note the following: the portions were miniscule and I had to order two or three main dishes to make a decent meal. Over all, the fare in the regular restaurants was nothing to write home about. In fact, the night they served lobster, it was a disaster. It was overcooked, rubbery and covered in a tastless sauce, it was totally inedible.
The buffets were a little better and the on-deck BBQ was ok if you like burgers and hot dogs. The food at the Bimini Bar had no wait and the burgers, fries, and hot dogs were fresh off the grill and delicious.
The Blue Lagoon was also a good alternative for a meal, particularly if you were returning from an excursion and wanted a snack, lunch or even dinner at an odd hour since it is open 24 hours. Unfortunately, the one and only ice cream bar located by the pool was only open from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
The major production shows in the Stardust Theatre were good. The bands and pianists in the lounges were top the the line. There are many nice lounge areas around the ship and the drinks were reasonable. The on-deck parties are pretty run of the mill.
The ship seems to cater to families with pre-teenage children. There was very little for adults to do late at night, since most of the bars close by midnight, however the disco stays open a little later and the casino stays open all night. Unfortunately there are no "adult only" areas around the pool deck. Many children (and surprisingly, some adults) totally disregarded the posted rules displayed by the pool & hot tub area, showing a total lack of consideration to their fellow passengers as well as a threat to everyone's safety by diving and jumping over both adults and children in the pool, horsing around in the jacuzzi's, and bringing glass bottles & drinks inside the pool itself.
The three shore excursions we took were fun. In Port Canaveral the NASA Up Close Tour at the Kennedy Space Center,is worth the extra expense, especially if you want to see the actual parts of international space station and the space shuttle. We had an excellent tour guide, who was full of information.
In Miami, the Airboat ride in the Everglades was very enjoyable, as was the wildlife show. The private island stop was fun if you like the beach (don't bother renting snorkeling equipment, but do rent a raft). It was a little to hot to spend the allotted time on the beach,so many people left early. Lattitudes members get VIP tender tickets, so you don't have to wait on line for an hour. Also, plan to go early.
The stop in Nassau was a joke and not worth the stop-over at all. Arrived 8:00 pm when everything was closed and left at 11:00 am the next morning. What we did see was very disappointing. Some passengers were accosted by the locals, who hang out at the ship terminal, it was kind of sleazy. We did take an interesting excursion called Sea & See, part water, part land. The Sea part in a semi-submarine was great, the land part was rushed.
Embarkation is efficient, arrive early, so you can get on the ship much earlier than you think. Let them know if you are a Latitudes Member when you arrive at the terminal, you get priority check-in and a special area to wait. Debarkation is extremely easy. You can wait in you cabin, or a lounge area, until your color ticket is called. You walk off the ship with no line and are immediately directed to your luggage.