Boston to Bermuda Cruise
We flew to Boston from Charleston a day before our NCL Dawn cruise so we could spend a day in Boston. We took an early flight and arrived in Boston about 9:45AM. We booked a room at the Hyatt Boston Harbor which was next to the airport and right across the harbor from Boston's North End.
Our stay at Hyatt Boston Harbor far exceeded our expectations. We only waited about 3-5 minutes for the shuttle to pick us up at the airport. The shuttle driver was friendly and shared his knowledge of the city also offering recommendations for dining. The two gentlemen at the front, Louie and Roberto, were by far the two best people we have ever encountered during a hotel stay, and we travel quite a bit. These guys made us feel as if we were the two most important guests in the hotel. They let us check-in as soon as we got there and put us in a hypo allergenic room which was beautiful, roomy,clean and had a great view of the Harbor and Boston. The water taxi could not have been more convenient. We wished we had more than a day there before heading out on our cruise.
We took the water taxi over to Boston. Tickets are $17.00 each but Louie and Roberto at the front desk gave us two free round trip passes! Once off the taxi we headed up to Hanover Street where there are tons of Italian restaurants and bakeries. We took our shuttle drivers advise and headed to Modern Bakery to try their Lobster Tail which was delicious! Handmade, crispy shells shaped into a lobster tail filled with their "lobster tail cream" composed of homemade whipped cream, yellow cream, and ricotta cheese. We got one and split it. From there we strolled through the streets up to the Old North Church, which is where the lanterns were used to warn how the British were coming; one if by land.
Time for more food! We headed to Neptune Oyster, also recommended by the folks at the hotel. We had a Maine Lobster Roll and a bowl of Boston Clam Chowder. The Lobster Roll was okay, I think we could have had one just as good for half the price somewhere else, but the chowder was excellent.
From there we saw a few more sites went to Quincy Market and then headed by to the Italian district for dinner. On the way we stopped by The Green Dragon Tavern, where we met Michael Szkolka who is a tour guide / historian for Lessons in Liberty, a walking tour company. He was sitting at the bar, still in his British red coat garb and as we came in the seats next to him became available so we sat next to him and had a great time. We sat for a while chatting and drinking Green Monsta IPA, hoppiness in a bottle! Once again it was time to eat and we wondered the streets ending up at Regina Pizza. It was the best pizza I've had since leaving New York back in '97. The place was packed, but service was excellent and our wait was short. Any wait would have been worth it.
After dinner we headed back to our hotel and as we entered our room we found a bottle of wine along with a nice card from the guys down at the front desk. I'm telling you they were awesome. After a great night's sleep we got up and headed to the cruise ship which was about 15-20 minutes by taxi from the hotel.
We arrived at the port about 11:00 and check-in was fast and problem free. They did not start boarding until 11:30 so we were on board by 12:00 found a bar and around 1:00 it was announced that our rooms were ready. We had a category BA balcony stateroom. Like most staterooms it was cramped and that's okay, but they had a couple tables that just didn't seem to fit. No matter what you did with them they just seemed out of place. I liked the bathroom. It had a roomy shower with a sliding door instead of a curtain and the toilet also had a sliding door (for that extra privacy when you need it). The balcony was average but, it had old rotting cork flooring that tracked back into the room, and forget about standing on it in socks. It really needs to be replaced. But, it served its purpose of giving me a quiet place to relax and watch the sea roll by.
There were two dining rooms on board, The Venetian and Aqua. The first night we found our way into Aqua. Mistake number one! This was a horrible room. The ceilings were low, totally lacking any kind of decor,LOUD The waiter staff was all over the place, it was very chaotic. I had the steak and lobster. The lobster was mushy and mealy and I could not even cut the steak. And did I mention it was LOUD! It was a total disappointment. It might as well have been a Denny's. Fortunately, it was last only bad meal we had during the cruise.
The second night we had dinner at Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian steak house where they bring the different meats to your table and cut your portions right there. We had a great meal and a great time here. There was a $20. Per person surcharge, but it was well worth it, we even included an extra tip. Alvin, the assistant maitre d', was very attentive not only there in the restaurant, but throughout the cruise. He just seemed to be everywhere we turned around with a smile and helping hand.
The follow nights we ate in the Venetian Dining room which was very nice. It was more of what you would expect from a dining room on a cruise ship. Very ornate, high ceilings, very organized wait staff. We even had breakfast and lunch there a couple times. Another great place to eat we found was The Blue Lagoon. It like Moderno Churrascaria was located on Deck Eight overlooking the atrium and lobby. This was basically good old bar food; Fish and Chips, Buffalo Wings, Burgers and the like. I don't know if many people even knew it was there, it was never busy and always good! We checked out the Sushi Bar which was really good. They charge ala carte prices, but we had a nice meal for about $14.00 total. Last but not least The Garden Buffet was good with a wide variety of food and, again a very attentive wait staff.
The entertainment on board was top notch. The ship's resident comedian was Tim Kaminski, who we had sailed which before on NCL Majesty a few years back. It did a number of shows throughout the week and all were hysterical. He also hosted a number of events on board and was very approachable when you ran into him. They also had The Second City comedy group, again very funny! The production cast and crew put on a couple of shows. The first was Band On The Run, featuring music from the 70's and a second show Bollywood which we missed but people we spoke with said it was great. The bands in the clubs were dynamite. In the atrium each night was a duo, Jose and Patti. They offer a different theme of music each night 50's, 60's, Country. They pretty much packed the Atrium every night. They had a piano bar, a band playing dance club music, a band that played up on the Lido deck, the show band. I know most cruise lines offer all the same thing, but every one of the acts we saw really impressed us.
They had an internet cafe on board I would avoid. They had a pretty hefty usage fee and it was SLOW! I only logged on to print boarding passes for our flight home after the cruise. Normally, this procedure takes about five or six minutes to do. It took me 20 minutes, at .75 per minute! They did credit me back half the money but I would advise give the computer a break and enjoy all there is on board.
Our one port was Bermuda. Bermuda is a beautiful place. Their beaches are breathtaking especially on the South Shore (the pink sand beaches). The South Shore has a series of beaches running a couple miles along the shoreline with amazing rock formations jutting out of the water and cliffs along the coast.. We got off the ship and got a bus /ferry pass and rode to Horseshoe Bay. There were restrooms and food and drinks. We could not believe how beautiful the beach rocks and water was. The water was crystal clear and a perfect temperature. We hiked down through the other beaches to Warwick Long Bay. At one point we came across a couple and the fella said he had been jumping off this cliff into the ocean. I had to try it. Mistake number 2! I hit the bottom, luckily I landed on my ass, but it's still sore.
Unfortunately, we our first two days there were Sunday and Labor and just about every place was closed. But we still had fun. Make sure you go to St George and see the dunking of the wench. They do it every day at noon. It is a great production and if you are lucky you may get picked as a dunker, like me!
We also made a stop at the Crystal Cave. If you go to Crystal Cave ask if Ron is working and try to get on his tour. This guy was priceless; part tour guide, part story teller, part comedian. Half the time he sounded like Boris Karloff, whether that was what he was going for I don't know but he was a hoot.
Take the ferry whenever you can over the bus. The bus drivers we had were crazy. One of them made a sudden stop and everyone really got a jolt. One lady fell off her seat into the aisle. He turned around and started yelling at her! "Why are you on the floor? What's the matter with you? You can't seat in a seat? You need a seatbelt? No one else fell on the floor. Why are you on the floor? I don't understand you." Not once did he ask if she was okay. It was the craziest thing I ever saw. She didn't say a word. She just got back up in her seat.
We were lucky enough to be invite to a sail away party up in the Garden Villa suite. It was occupied by a cruise critic member we met at the Meet and Mingle. This suite is 6694 sq. ft.! It included three bedrooms, a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath, living with a piano. Outside a covered dining area, hot tub, changing rooms and stair case going up to the top level overlooking the lido deck with a nice set of chaise loungers . I am attaching some pictures because it is really hard to describe.
Overall we had a great time. If you ever go out on the NCL Dawn I 'm sure you will too. Just avoid the Aqua dining room!
Debarkation went smoothly. NCL offers you your choice of when you want to get off the ship. You pick up your luggage tags the day before debarkation and they are color coded. The color determines the time you get off. We got off 9:15 and our luggage was easy to find in the terminal. Walked out the front door and stepped right into a taxi to the airport.