We are just back from a seven-day cruise of the Caribbean on the Norwegian Dawn that left April 13, 2013, from Tampa, Florida. We have been on the cruise together this list my family with my wife and daughter my parents and my in-laws. We ended up getting an excellent deal on this ship. We went on celebrity before and the total cost would be close to double if we added a minisuite and several other factors
You weren't sure what to expect that we had a real need to go on vacation so we were very happy that we were all able to go and healthy enough to go
We booked the cruise through Interval Word as our travel agent and they were able to give the best deal. We also booked our airline flights directly through the airlines - -- it was much less expensive to take a taxi directly to the port. We also did not take any NCL excursions.
BOARDING (10 out of 10)
Boarding in Tampa was very organized and took no time -- it was maybe the best boarding experience we have had. Funny part is we decided up for the ladder frequesnt flyer but we did not realize it did not count until you finished your first cruise. Bags were delivered to our rooms by about 4:00 with no problems at all.
SERVICE (8 out of 10)
Service on the Dawn was very good -- maybe not great -- but a lot better than we expected. There could have been some more waiters at the pool. And there could've been more butlers to clean up the towels where people were staying. No complaints and everyone we encountered was very friendly. Most of the service crew had been with NCL for many years. I cannot fault the service we experienced in any way at all. Thanks NCL!
THE SHIP ITSELF (7out of 10)
The ship was pretty First off, the pool area is too small and the areas around the pool that are covered have no ventilation. The glass walls on deck 12 did not have windows and very often on hot days it was uncomfortably warm in the shade. We are all big fans of outdoor dining areas -- all of Oceania and Azamara have fantail dining areas that were the highlight of our cruises. The fantail of the Dawn was given over to the Kids Club. Thankfully there weren't that many smokers as displayed in prior reviews.
Entertainment (10 out of 10)
Frankly the shows were the best it came with a wonderful magician who was also funny. And aerial acrobatics that was ubbelievable. A Broadway song and dance routine that was nice. More magical work. My family and especially my daughter very much enjoy it. You like Ariel shows I would completely recommend that.
I thought that the casino was well laid out and that the slots and games offered were very good.
We never used the spa or any of its features so I cannot comment on that.
The song, dance and stage entertainment were a lot better than we expected. The band that played around the pool was great --
OUR STATEROOM (8 out of 10)
Our stateroom was spacious, but well laid out and comfortably furnished. The bathroom was great! I'm 6'1" and had no problems with the shower stall or the commode area. We both though that the bath was the best one we have ever had on any cruise. Towels were plentiful, large and were usually soft -now on we're only going to get a mini suite or a place with a balcony.
Our stateroom attendant was great
OVERALL DINING (7 out of 10)
This is where they can improve on
The Venetian Dining Room (7 out of 10)
The decor and atmosphere of the Venetian dining room was very much to our liking. We ate all of our dinners there except when dining in the specialty restaurants. It was nice but it was way too busy I believe the Staffware overwhelmed and many of them were novice.
Aqua (9 out of 10)
The decor was bright and glitzy and my wife and I really enjoyed it and thought it was very romantic.
The Garden Cafe (8 out of 10)
It was fast easy the coffee was actually better than I expected. The best part was they had a small kids area that was awesome for little toddlers. they had separate food separate silverware and even little chairs for them to eat I was very impressed with the attention to detail
Poolside (9 out of 10)
Really Mexican food one day. There were two cooking areas on sea days -- one on Deck 13 and the main one on Deck 12.
La Cucina (8 out of 10)
The atmosphere was very nice and our meal here was pretty good. It was worth the upcharge.
Le Bistro (10 out of 10)
We liked the atmosphere of le Bistro as well and meal was really good and worth the upcharge. My wife raved about the vegetarian entree the Vegetarian Napoleon -- I had the lamb was really well done it was excellent food I couldn't say enough about the quality.
The beer was reasonable price about $5-$6 but the wines and also regular liquor drinks were more expensive than I expected but I guess that's part of the cruising
SHORE EXCURSIONS (?? out of 10)
We took no NCL sponsored shore excursions.We went on our ownit was very easy, and less expensive, to arrange for our own shore excursions in the ports we were visiting. We had arranged in advance for private tours of Roatan and activities in Cozumel. We went cave tubing in Belize this is actually the best part of any of the shore excursions I really think that you cannot beat the cave tubing we had an amazing time and thought that we were out of this world.. In Costa Maya we just hung out at the Tropicante Tex Mex cafe on the beach --
Announcements were always very hard to hear -- especially if you were in your stateroom. Gio, the cruise director, spoke English that was heavily accented and a bit hard to understand over the PA system - but he did an ok job
The cruise passengers all seemed to be having a very good time. The average age was probably about 50 or maybe a little less than that. Not a lot of kids that we ever saw and the ones that we did see were always well behaved. a lot of the passengers were from Boston think they were having some type of spring break. It was a wonderful experience everyone got along very well we made a lot of new friends
DEBARKATION (10 out of 10)
Worked like a charm. We were off the ship, with our account cleared and getting on the shuttle to the airport ($7 per person) within 30 minutes of our leaving. The trick is to get the Porter Porter will get you through all the lines only pay him 5- $10 depending on how much luggage
OVERALL (9 out of 10)
NCL does a great drop job on price we paid a very nice surprise in the third and fourth person it was very reasonable. Its just not gourmet unless you go to the specialty restaurants. I think the service was fine. The cruisers were great. The ports were fun. They strive to do things for kids or young families. Definitely more than celebrity. If you want really good food than go to celebrity and stay in an indoor stateroom.
For kids and overal value NCL is great.
We had a really good time and will likely look at NCL again if their ships go where we want to go.