We just returned from the Norwegian Dawn...literally been off the boat for 1.5 hours. It was our first cruise and will be our last. It has nothing to do with the customer service, that was great. Just be ready to be nickel and dimed. Here are a few things you may want to do first...
1. Pay for the gratuities (which is for food only) ahead of time when booking your trip. It is $12/day per person. It is one of those things you do not always remember and when trying to leave they hit you with a big bill.
2. Get the "Ultimate Beverage Package" right away if you like to drink (even just a little). You get it at the Java Cafe and it is $400 per person per room. So if there are two in the room, you have to pay $800. It includes beers under $5.50, wines under $10, and bottom-shelf liquors. They automatically add the 15% gratuity so the beers end up being $6.33. One thing I realized is that some of the beers are the "mess-ups" (ie, missing the born on date) and close to expiration...you know they got them dirt cheap and then go and charge you that insane price.
3. Ensure you have a good service provider and consider wireless internet like freedompop or others. The internet package is insane on the ship and should be free. Check your provider to ensure you don't receive roaming charges.
4. Don't waste money on the package ashore trips. They have one that is for the Aquarium/zoo and caves for $99. You are paying for the bus tour with this. Your best bet would be to rent a scooter or take the ferry ($4.00) to hamilton, then get a bus or cab and go to the Aquarium which is $10.00 and then the caves which is $25.00. It was a 4 hour excursion and we spent only 1.5 hours of it off the bus.
5. Bring your own water bottle or maybe a brita to keep in your fridge. Water is hard to come by that is free.
6. Keep cash on you to tip your favorite service staff.
7. Put down cash on the ship and keep more with you to add on later if you need it. Anything remaining you can cash out before you leave.
8. Carry your luggage on (all of it) and off the ship. You will save a ton of time coming and going.
9. Bring candy and other goodies stashed in your luggage if you want sweets. It will cost you $2.00 for a small bag of M&M's. Same goes for Dramamine, etc..
10. The food is not hot. It is luke warm to cold. Don't ask me why??
These are the biggest for now. You will have a limited time on the island so maximize that time. The ship can get boring after a few days so take advantage off ship as much as possible. I just felt so confined and wish the ship had a bigger pool or more pool options. I don't want to look at another burger or potato for a long time.