We had an excellent 7 day cruise from Boston to Bermuda. Parking is very easy in a garage across the road from the port building. Embarkation was fast if not a little too fast for a first time cruising not familiar with the process. Room was small as to be expected but in perfect order without any issues. The safe jammed once and I called the front desk and a crew member had it fixed in less than 10 minutes from my call.
The crew provided great service to a fault. Literally to a fault (such as when they step aside for you to walk by when it would be more efficient for everyone for them to keep walking). Everyone smiles and says hello. I felt the crew was truly genuine about their desire to satisfy guests, they really seemed happy to be delivering top quality service. As a manager in the service sector myself, I was taking notes. Simply blown away by service of the crew.
Food was excellent. We only ate at complimentary dining options included with our cruise. The food was of high enough quality that paying extra for the specialty restaurants couldn't possibly be justified. We only had one evening in which the food was not as good as if not better than high quality restaurants in our area. We were disappointed at first to learn that the breakfast menu in the MDR is the same as the buffet options. But this was actually great because we could get the same quality at the buffet as well as get lots of different things. I'd recommend skipping the MDR for the breakfast buffet due to this unless you find the buffet area too loud (IT IS LOUD).
The boat is a bit of a pain to navigate. The central elevator is particularly difficult and inefficient due to traffic flow and ship design. Also, the central elevators are smaller than average and get crowded at 8 people. This means the elevators frequently stop for additional passengers and no one gets on or off at the stop. The forward and aft elevators are larger and barely used. The traffic in front of Aqua MDR on deck 6 is especially difficult to deal with at the elevators. I'd recommend staterooms better located to the forward or rear elevators depending if you want easier access to the lido (forward) or Venitian MDR and Buffet (aft).
Some people complained on board about dress of passengers. We were very casual and did wear jeans and t-shirt to the MDR once or twice (but skipped it on the "formal" night out of respect to those dressing up). The fact of the matter is there is no dress code and the Freestyle concept is cruise your own way. NCL doesn't make a secret of this. If you want others to dress to the nines and respect formal nights or go to the MDR strictly no jeans/shorts/t's/etc. then you should pick a different cruise. For the rest of us, NCL's approach means we can dress casually all week.
We cruised the last week of May while kids were still in school. The patron make up was generally on the older side which was fine with us as we preferred a quiet cruise, we were not looking for a party. The Dawn's festive atmospheres seem confined to the Lido and Lounge. There was ample opportunity for a good time if you wanted it but we also were able to have a quiet cruise.
Aside from a cruise 25 years ago when I was a young kid, this was my first cruise. I LOVED Bermuda. I normally am not a beach person (I'd rather be skiing or hiking or biking) but the south shore beaches of Bermuda are incredible. The crew was insanely good, welcoming, and friendly. The food was beyond our expectations and we never felt we were missing out by not paying for the extras. We'll do this one again.
I feel that anyone not having a good cruise with the Dawn to Bermuda went in with their expectations not in line with what is being offered. The Dawn isn't a new ship with the latest and greatest entertainment options. It isn't a luxury ship with the pinnacle of service, taste, and food. Patrons are going to wear jeans and shorts to the MDR and around the ship. Those leaving negative reviews for any of these reasons picked the wrong cruise.