We chose this cruise based upon the itinerary. We combined both legs of the 7-day cruise because the only port that repeated was Halifax. And Halifax has enough to offer that it can easily be repeated.
Embarkation was fast. Access to our cabin was timely. We had all bags unpacked and put away prior to the muster drill. Muster drill had good and bad aspects: not having to carry around the life vest was good, but standing on the promenade deck was not good. Other cruise lines have had the passengers meet in a public area where they could be seated for the muster drill.
The ship NCL Dawn was okay. The Aqua dining room was our favorite. There seemed to be too much confusion and chaos at the entrance to main dining room"the Venetian. I think the excessive waits for a table at the Venetian is due to the fact that most tables are for parties of 2 or 4. We like to share tables and meet other passengers at dinner. Princess has more tables of 6 than tables of 2. So passengers can be seated quickly without a reservation or a long wait. With our port schedule, we ate dinner at the buffet twice: it was good. We had supper at Blue Lagoon once. This time we did not partake of the pay restaurants. NCL has crossed the threshold of my willingness to pay for a meal, when I already am paying for a meal. Cagney’s was $30--each. I found the food in the dining room was good enough that I did not feel the need to escape the regular menu. Loved the Scottish Bangers at the breakfast buffet. And both times the lobster tail was cooked perfectly! However, I found that NCL’s desserts were lacking. I recommend a variety of ice creams
Our cabin 8080 was good. We had a view in between the life boats. On tender days, we had a great view! Our cabin steward"Edna was fabulous! For her it was more than a job"it was personal. She made a dozen different towel creatures. I am spoiled with a memory foam mattress at home; so all other mattresses are uncomfortable. I would gladly pay extra for a memory foam mattress or even a 4-inch memory foam topper.
It seemed crazy to use a ship with a huge sun deck and outdoor pool on a New England/ Canada cruise. But we did have some sunny, wonderful weather. So the pool was used. We even got in a pool deck hot tub once. We did sign up for the Thermal Suites 2 week pass at the Spa. We have loved the Thermal Suites on the Pearl and Jewel. However, this was very disappointing. The Dawn did not have the heated recliners. There was space…why weren’t they installed at the last refurbishing? Had I known, I would not have paid the fee for thermal suite usage.
The public areas were a mixed bag. The internet lounge location was dreadful. It was open to the noise and to the musical performers in the atrium, so it was both impossible to concentrate and frequently difficult to find a chair to sit at the computer. The chairs were absconded by other passengers who wanted to see the popular performers"Jose and Patty. The Stardust Theatre has the most uncomfortable seats I have ever experienced. The seat design is too low, and there is a back on the seats that prohibits you from extending your feet under the seat. I pity a tall man. We were not the only ones who felt this way. We repeatedly heard this comment. There were more comfortable bench seats in the balcony.
The entertainment was wonderful. The singers and dancers did several spectacular shows. Harry O’Donaghue, the Irish folksinger, comedian was funny and enjoyable to listen to. Mark Ziegfield, a puppeteer was excellent. He had funny routines as well as good audience interaction. A lovely, woman singer sang a mixture of opera and popular tunes. The best entertainers were the husband and wife team (Alexi and Salley) who did acrobatics, aerial stunts and ballet; all combined in a show called Oceans Apart. We have seen performances like this before, but never this fluid and flawless. It was so amazing, that we watched their show a second time.
The Ports were most enjoyable. In Portland we did our own, a cruise on the mail boat. It was very interesting to see island life. In Halifax we did a ship’s tour Lighthouse and Lobsters: took a cruise in the harbor, followed by a lobster dinner at a wharf restaurant. Saw a sunfish (Mola)! In Charlottetown, PEI we did a private tour with some other CC members. In Gaspiesie, we used the town shuttle system to see the highlights of the town. In La Baie, we did the ship’s tour Wildlife Zodiac boat ride. In this one I was disappointed. First of all, the time in the boat was only about an hour not the 2 hours like in the brochure. Knowing that it would be cold on the water, we brought lots of layers of clothes. Then we did not need them because the company provided gear to wear. But we had to carry them. The town was most friendly. Quebec City, we did a ship’s tour. Since we were back-to-back, we chose a long tour to get us off the ship and out of the way of the boarding passengers. However, we did not leave the ship until 10:30am. So we were the last to return to the ship. We saw it all. Would have like a shorter stop and St. Anne’s with a little more time to shop in the old town. It wasn’t a problem for us, but I heard numerous complaints that our lunch stop was first…like 11:00am. We did not know the timing and order of the sites to see. So many had eaten a late breakfast and were not prepared for an early lunch stop. In Cornerbrook, NF we used the shuttle system to see and shop. In Sydney, NS, I listened to the enjoyable Fiddle concert and husband did the cultures tour. He found it very interesting. The building at the pier had good shops, a well done museum and the best lobster roll we experienced! Halifax part 2, was our only rainy day. We just walked down the harbor walk and ate lobster, hey I’m from Ohio, we eat lobster whenever we can. Bar Harbor is a favorite location of ours. This was our first time to visit when the leaves had color, so we were eagerly anticipating Acadia National Park. Due to the inept government shutdown"Acadia was closed. We were on a private tour and the guide would not take a chance on the $150 fine. So sadly we did not get to some of my favorite places. We did see a large portion of Mt. Desert Island. Lack of knowledge about all the ship’s excursions was my biggest complaint. Other cruise lines give more detailed descriptions of the amount of walking and stair climbing involved. And they spell out the order of the stops and restroom locations. Information is a good thing. NCL, check out the other websites…and improve yours.
The NCL crew members were excellent: hardworking, polite, friendly. If we had a concern (like our safe not working), it was dealt with immediately. Liked Soozie the cruise director, she has the greatest speaking voice. Arts and Crafts with Jonathan was fun and the provided kits were lovely and free. Hats off to Ray Keith Campbell or Keith Ray Campbell from Jamaica. He worked the outer checkpoint at Aqua for dinner and delivered coffee at the buffet at breakfast. He made sure everyone was awake and raring-to-go with a rooster’s crowing and funny comments. He is a great ambassador for NCL.
We did a walk-off disembarkation due to an early flight.