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Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by Robert Smith

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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn
Member Name: Robert Smith
Cruise Date: May 2006
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
Destination: Bermuda
Cabin Category: I1
Cabin Number: 8637
Booking Method: Internet Agency
See More About: Norwegian Dawn Cruise Reviews | Bermuda Cruise Reviews | NCL Cruise Deals
Member Rating   3.0 out of 5+
Dining 1.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Cabins 3.0
Entertainment 3.0
Spa & Fitness 5.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Shore Excursions Not Rated
Embarkation 5.0
Service 4.0
Value-for-Money Not Rated
Rates 4.0
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Ship Facts: Norwegian Dawn Review (by Cruise Critic!) | Norwegian Dawn Deck Plans
Norwegian Dawn - Bermuda
To give this review some perspective, I am writing it as a frequent cruiser, having cruised 8 times with Carnival and once with Princess within the last 4 years. I cruise with my wife, friends and sometimes our children who are in their mid twenties. We are in our mid to late 50s, but are active for our age and enjoy beaches and snorkeling in most ports. We cruised in late May to Bermuda, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay. As we usually find with any trip, some things were good, some things were not so good. Overall we had a relaxing and enjoyable cruise that was well worth the money we spent. However, we decided that we would not cruise NCL again for two reasons: 1. The food quality was well below what we have had on the other cruise lines and 2. NCL doesnt seem to be able to handle crowds of people as well as other ships we have been on.

This was our first time to cruise out of NY. We took the train to NY, and caught a taxi to the port with no problems. I hesitated to leave my luggage with a handler near the street curb, but I was assured by a few nearby staff that it would be OK which it was. We started boarding about noon, a pretty much routine and painless process.

My impression of the Dawn was that it was a beautiful, colorful, classy ship with marble staircases, lots of greenery and art, and showing little or no signs of wear. The staff seemed very friendly and did their job well. We had an interior room that was nicely appointed, but because of the closet location, it was annoying that my wife and I kept bumping into each other in that room. The bathroom seemed fine and relatively roomy. Beds were very comfortable. The digital temperature control on the wall worked well and we were able to maintain a temperature that was perfect for us.

Now heres the big comment: the menu was boring and the food was rather poor in quality. Each night when we read the menu posted on the dining room (the same menu in all 3 main dining rooms) we couldnt find anything that sounded exciting. It seems that NCL must want to cheap it up on food so they served lots of pasta, rice and crowd-type dishes. Dinner desserts also were, for the most part, not very exciting. For example, one main dish was oxtail stew. So I ended up eating fish most nights which was almost acceptable. My beef-loving wife couldnt find beef anywhere, so she ended up ordering chicken twice that must have been sitting under a heat lamp for hours since it was all dried out. And the tasty shrimp and lobster that we always get with Carnival was nowhere to be found unless you went to one of the three pay-extra specialty restaurants. Both of us did love the freestyle dining concept though that allowed us to show up for dinner at almost any time between 5:30 and 10.

The lunch time buffets and sandwiches also seemed inferior to what we were used to with the other cruise lines. Each item was given a fancy name, but the substance looked like something out of a can. The burgers and fries seemed OK if thats what you want. The lunchtime desserts were the worst. On Carnival, there were always several great looking desserts making it a hard decision which to pick. But on the Dawn, the desserts all looked like the same boring pound cake with a little bit of color on top. Fortunately, there was fruit which was always my dessert. And fortunately again, Im eating more vegetarian these days and NCL had a few mediocre vegetarian dishes. I suppose one could get by with what they provided if you weren't too picky.

The Dawn did offer three pay-extra restaurants which I found very difficult to reserve. We did try the French Bistro and the food there was good but not great. I was, however, impressed as we ate dinner inches from a priceless original Van Gogh painting. I'm sure I enjoyed that more than dinner. There are 4 priceless originals in that restaurant.

On a few lunch days, NCL has a barbecue by the pool that includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and ribs. This is pretty cool .. but. the burgers are a bit dry and I spent ten minutes looking a rib over for something edible on it other than sauce. Also the ice cream they hand out by the pool is a baby cone that shows how cheap NCL is with the food. The ice cream was tasty though.

Of the free beverages, the only thing you can get is tea and coffee. And NCL serves the ice tea in those cute little glasses that annoyingly hold only about 5 ounces. I guess they think that 5 ounces of liquid is enough in the blazing Bahama sun. Either that or they want you to encourage you to purchase the alcoholic drinks. Watch out for that beverage line because the main traffic passes through the same aisle and you are very likely to be bumped and spill your beverage.

After leaving NY we had an enjoyable day at sea and we arrived at Bermuda at Kings Wharf. Bermuda was beautiful! Kings Wharf is a bit isolated from the rest of Bermuda, but ferries and bus service were readily available. We chose to walk to the nearby snorkel park which was only a ten minute walk, but I didnt snorkel since it was early in the day and the air hadnt warmed up yet.

So we decided to grab a bus and head for Horseshoe beach. This beach was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen (and Ive seen many beautiful ones). The big rocks sticking out of the water added lots of character. The sand was wonderfully soft and pink, and there was a lunch stand at one end. I did snorkel here a little and found the 73 deg water to be pretty nice. Saw some nice coral and some fish and took lots of photos. I hope to return there soon.

Again a day at sea that was great and relaxing, although deck space for sunning seemed hard to find. We did manage to find a spot that worked for us. I couldn't seem to get a table in the pool area to enjoy an outside lunch.

The next day when we arrived at Great Stirrup Key, a storm front had passed through leaving rain and waves too high for us to tender to shore. So that port was canceled and we went earlier than planned to Nassau. A bit of a disappointment but you cant plan the weather.

Our stop in Nassau went well and we visited the Atlantis and saw all the aquariums. The beach there is very big and probably the best beach around. Time at this port is broken up. You only have a few hours in the evening and a few hours the next morning. But some people managed to do and see more than we did with that time. After Nassau, we headed back to NY and had another great relaxing day at sea.

For our entire cruise, I found the seas to be remarkably calm. Possibly also the ship may have stabilizers that help a lot. Maybe we just got lucky.

I didnt find much on the entertainment listing that interested me so we didnt take in any shows. Maybe others would like the entertainment they provide. We did however like the little on-board movie theater that was showing good movies three times a day. We also liked the gym which was spacious and well equipped. Having a little time to work out is a luxury that I don't normally seem to have. Also the indoor pool area near the gym was very nice and we enjoyed uncrowded time in the pool, hot tubs, and saunas.

We arrived in NY on time. Disembarkation seemed pretty routine. We did have difficulty getting a taxi from the port. I had expected a bunch of taxis to be there but found only one or two. So we were forced to drag our (overpacked) luggage downstairs and across the street to a taxi stand&but still we couldnt catch a cab. Finally we paid twice the cab fare and caught a limo.

All in all we did enjoy this cruise. I don't think that there is such a thing as a bad cruise. If you don't care much about the food, the Dawn might be OK for you. But next time we will cruise with another cruise line.








Publication Date: 06/02/06
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