This review was originally written as a journal so everyone can get a feel of how a typical day may go. At the end is just a quick overview of various areas.
Sunday(Embarkation) After taking a rollercoaster for a plane ride (thanks to the windstorm in the New England), we arrived at the pier close to 2pm and we were in line to get our key and setup our account by 2:15pm. Thanks to the aforementioned windstorm, the ship arrived late and the boarding process didn't start until well after 12pm, so we had to wait in line for about an hour before it was our turn to setup our account.
Once we boarded the ship, we only had 15 minutes to get to our room (BA - oceanview with a balcony), put our bags inside (which were waiting by the door) and grab our life jackets and go downstairs for the muster drill. Thankfully the drill was short and sweet and we were done in like 5 minutes. After the drill, my wife grabbed some takeout at the Blue Lagoon for us and I went to the room to start making reservations for that night. After lunch and after walking around deck 7, we went back to our room and sat on our balcony to watch as we sailed past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It was my first time seeing both and it was absolutely breathless.
After hanging out on our balcony, we made rounds to different places to get tours and to take part in different contests and raffles. I definitely suggest you do this especially taking the tour of the Mandara Spa. They offer demonstrations of some of the treatments they offer and the prizes for their raffle were really nice (we didn't win). A little later we ate at Cagney's steakhouse that night and I had prime rib and my wife had fillet mignon. The restaurant setup is great because you can order as many appetizers, as many accompaniments and as many desserts as you want. My prime rib was excellent; my wife's fillet mignon was good but not great. Also, if you order a bottle of wine, you can take it with you to your room if you don't finish the bottle and you can also bring it with you to another restaurant if you wanted to drink more of it at another time. Very cool.
We didn't go to the comedy show that night because we were so tired but I heard about 1,000 or so people did and most really enjoyed it.
Monday My wife had a massage and Mandara Spa at 8am and while she did that, I went to the gym. The gym is free and is very nice. It's big enough that a lot of people can be in there at once but you hardly ever have to wait for a machine or weights. I also bought a day pass to the gym ($15). Because my wife got a massage, she had access to the 2 spa Jacuzzis and the pool as well as the relaxation suite. Anyone who purchases a day pass or a cruise pass ($60 on the first day) can also have access to all those things and let me tell you, it is worth it. Everyone wants to use the main pool and spas on deck 12, which means the pool and spas in Mandara are virtually empty.
After my wife's massage, we had breakfast at the Garden Cafe which is buffet style. Now we both have eaten at some of the best buffets in Las Vegas so we were a little disappointed in the breakfast spread. But it is all subjective, and we don't like, somebody else may love. After breakfast we went to shower and change then we hit the cruise critic meet and greet. When that was over, we went to the galleria shops and did some shopping, then went to deck 7 for lunch at Bamboo. Now because they were switching menus this week, we got to have the last all you can eat sushi for $10 bucks. On Tuesday, they were switching to all you can eat sushi for $12.50 but based on the menu, the selections seemed a lot better than what we had today. After lunch we hit the casino for our free slot machine spin, and then we went to Mandara Spa to sit in the Jacuzzis. Later we went up to deck 13 to have free ice cream at Sprinkles and to watch the Mr. Best Legs competition at the pool. The weather was beautiful and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The daily BBQ was also taking place near the pool and the food looked delicious. At 3pm, we went to the anniversary/honeymoon party that the ship put on for couples and it was fun. When that was over, we went to the margarita tasting and talk about having a good time! First of all, for $15 per person we had 6 good size margaritas. Second of all, if you love watching the transformation of someone from completely sober to completely drunk, this a must see event. After the clinic we got dressed up for formal night, took our formal pictures and had a wonderful dinner at Le Bistro. I had the fillet mignon and it was excellent. Also, the service there is amazing. After dinner and losing some money at the casino, we went to the South Beach Rave which I thought was the cheesiest production I have ever seen. Don't get me wrong, the dancing was good and the singing was decent but the overall show was a complete cheese fest!
Tuesday Our first excursion day. We started the day by going to breakfast at the Venetian which was a big mistake. It seemed that everyone had the same idea and what would normally be a 10-20 minute wait for your food was closer to 45. Tip: go to the Garden Cafe for breakfast on excursion days. It's exactly the same food and you do not have to wait!
Getting off the ship took about 15 minutes and I recommend getting off near the Stardust theatre rather than getting off in the grand atrium. The exit by the theatre was hardly used. After our very quick excursion (11am-1:30p), we had lunch at the Bimini Grille then sat out in the sun at the main pool area. Tip: Behind the Bimini Grille there are plenty of lounge chairs and even a hot tub and the area was almost empty!
We had dinner reservations for 7:30 at Teppanyaki so we got dressed and had professional pictures taken before going in. Our dinner was wonderful and there was so much food. They just changed to pricing policy so now you pay a $20 cover charge instead of a la carte pricing. But you get a lot of food and I was stuffed. The presentation by the chef was great and he was very funny. Definitely worth the price if admission. Also, we got to sit with other couples, so that was nice.
After dinner we went to the magic show and it was again cheesy but entertaining. After the magic show, I donated to the casino then it was time for bed by 12am.
Wednesday Freeport day, so we didn't make the mistake of going to Venetian for breakfast. We went to the Garden Cafe and we were in and out in 30 mins. It was great. My wife had a spa treatment and I went to the internet cafe to check some emails. There are 3 time plans for using the internet: Time plan 1 250 minutes for $100, $0.40/min; Time plan 2 100 minutes for $55, $0.55/minute; and pay as you go which is $.75 per minute. Also wireless is available in Atrium deck 7, 8, & 9, poolside, library, conference room and spinnaker lounge. After my wife's spa treatment, we took a taxi from the harbor to port lucaya beach. We paid $5/person each way. At port lucaya there are all kinds of stores and shops as well as places to eat. Not to mention there is a beautiful beach. We had the best time and spent a good 3-4 hours there. I highly recommend doing this instead of an excursion. TIP: don't get on a taxi with sand on your body...taxi drivers frown heavily upon that.
Back on board, we rested and then went to dinner at Salsa's. I had very high expectations of Salsa's and was slightly disappointed. The food was good but could have been better. After dinner we saw the comedy show by Second City and it was the funniest show I have ever seen! A must see for any Saturday Night Live fans and fans of ensemble comedy!
Thursday We set anchor at NCL's private island at about 7-730am. We had breakfast at the Garden Cafe then boarded a tender for the island by about 945am. The Dawn no longer hands out tickets for seating on the tenders, it is now first come-first served and the people seated on the bottom are always let off first. The weather was not what you would expect: cloudy with highs in the upper 70s. Once we got to the island, we signed up for parasailing, and then we found some chairs and sat until it was our turn to go parasailing. While we were out on the water, the weather turned bad and once we got back from parasailing, it started to rain. So unfortunately we didn't get to experience everything at the island but at least we got to parasail!
Back onboard the Dawn, we grabbed some dessert items in the Garden Cafe, then went up to our room to rest until 330 when my wife was going to an arts and craft program.
We had dinner at impressions and it was very good. After dinner, we disembarked and visited some shops in Nassau and then around 1030p we took a taxi to Atlantis. All I can say about that place is WOW! Very beautiful.
Friday Because we had to be onboard by 1130am, we got up and went on a walking tour of Nassau and saw many things and places that you probably wouldn't see otherwise. I recommend doing a walking tour if you have no excursion planned and everything is in walking distance and we saw a lot of stuff in about 1.5 hours.
Onboard the ship we had lunch at the cafe and then did a little shopping in the galleria. Afterward we got in line for the chocolate buffet and loaded our plates with a lot of yummy goodies. We then rested for a bit and had dinner at impressions. The food tonight was not as good as the night before.
Bollywood was good, especially because the ship was rocking like crazy. The ending was a bit cheesy but it was nice to see the ship's crew and staff.
Saturday After breakfast in bed, we walked around the ship taking pictures of last minute things and went to a few afternoon shows/workshops. Before we knew it, it was it 6pm and we went to the Salsa dancing lesson and then dinner at Aqua. After dinner we played a very fun game called Majority Rules and after that we went to the variety show.
Sunday Very sad day but we made the best of it. We had breakfast at the Café, went back to our room to gather our belongings and then waited for disembarkation in at Salsa's.
Alcohol Drink prices are pretty average to what you may pay in bar but also remember that they add gratuity to all drink orders so that $5 drink may end up being closer to $7.
You are not supposed to bring hard alcohol and beer on board and if they find it, they will take it away until after the cruise is over. You can though bring wine on board but you will have to pay a corkage fee if you want to use it. Smuggling alcohol onboard can be done but you have to be pretty lucky and creative to do it!
Food All subjective but we loooooved the food the specialty restaurants and we were slightly disappointed with the food in the main restaurants. Nothing was bad and every night there will be something on the menu that is good.
Room Our room was great. My only criticism is that there is not enough space in the closest for two people to really unpack and there isn't a lot of space between the foot of the bed and the wall. Other than that, you can not beat the balcony view.
Entertainment We watched every show except Romano Frediani's first show and I am kicking myself for not seeing it. My favorite show was Second City. Least favorite was the South Beach Rave (very cheesy).
Staff No complaints here. The staff and crew were wonderful. There was one guy in the photo gallery that was unpleasant but one bad out of 100 or so that we confronted over the 7 days who were nice isn't too bad! Jimmy Kovel, the cruise director was very funny.