Our Western Caribbean cruise on the NCL Dawn was from January 13 to January 20, 2013. We had done this same itinerary in 2012 on the NCL Star but the price was too good to pass up! We booked a pre-cruise Hampton Inn hotel in Tampa through stay123 which included over-night stay, breakfast, free parking in their lot and transportation to the cruise pier. Taxi on the way back to the hotel was $20. There are always taxis waiting at the pier.
Embarkation was a breeze, as we arrived about 11:30 AM and were eating lunch in the Venetian at 12:15 PM. Rooms were ready by 12:45 PM and our luggage was in our room by 3 PM. We met our room steward Paul (he looks like a young Lou Diamond Phillips) and he was great. He even made my 1st sea turtle towel animal.
Interior on the 9th deck mid ship was a good central area to getting to most ship venues. Room was smallish, very tight squeeze to get into bed. Had an issue with beds separating and was told that they are replacing the beds, but just not the 9th deck yet.
We ate at the Venetian (deck 6) sometimes for breakfast on sea days, lunch a few times and almost every night. What can I say -- I like to be waited on! Last year open seating for dinner, if you came at a busy time, they gave you a beeper and a coupon for each person to get a glass of wine, champagne or soda. This year you got a beeper only. Occasionally we caught a server with wine and champagne in the photo gallery area.
One evening we tried the Aqua (deck 6) but found it a bit noisy. The Garden Cafe Buffet (deck 12) had a great variety of foods and always served with a smile. The Blue Lagoon (deck 7) is open 24 hours, which was very convenient when we got back from one of our tours late in the afternoon. We had delicious chicken wings and chips with spinach cheese dip.
We did not try any of the specialty dining. We were completely happy with the regular dining venues.
Norwegian Dawn Production Cast did a great job; they seemed to put their heart & souls into their shows. Although "Band on the Run" with music of the 70's wasn't our favorite decade of music. Their final production of "Bollywood" was too long and was a hard story line to follow.
Saw Second City, but some of the material had not changed from last year. They might want to do some new material.
Greg London's impressionist show was very entertaining. As was the comedy and juggling show of Scotty Cavanaugh.
Not-So-Newlywed Game Show in the Spinnaker Lounge (deck 7) was funny, as long as you are not a contestant!
Keith "Rooster" was the "washy-washy, happy-happy" person at the Venetian for dinner. But his nickname "Rooster" comes from the breakfast buffet. He would push the coffee cart to give people a refill and as he did that he would occasionally crow like a rooster! He was the highlight of many of our mornings!
One day for lunch in the Venetian our waitress was Marjorie. I noted that she looked familiar. Come to find out she had been our waitress on the inaugural voyage of the NCL Star in Hawaii back in 2003!
POSITIVES & NEGATIVES
+ They were very effective with the sanitizers in all of the dining venues
+ Food was very good -- lots of choices
+ Crew was outstanding
+ Captain was funny -- his remote control joke was hilarious!
- Chair hogs
- Our queen bed kept separating -- had to be made into two twins -- we were not happy
We chose to do the "Easy Walk Off" which worked great for us. As long as you can carry all your luggage off, you can leave any time between 7:45 and 10:00 AM. You don't need colored tags and you don't have to put your luggage in the hallway the night before. We left at 7:45 AM and U.S. Customs was a breeze.