We recently cruised on the Dawn from Boston to Quebec City. This trip was a welcome change from our usual Caribbean cruise. Although, we were a bit early for the fall colors, we certainly enjoyed the scenery. It gets a bit cold during the mornings and evenings after Sept 1 but we are hardy folks.
We have been on 3 NCL cruises. The Dawn however did not provide our best NCL experience. Our trip wasn’t ruined and we had a memorable experience but the service and food could have been much better. NCL offers great value for money and this trip was no exception. Still you may want to lower your expectations a bit when you travel on the Dawn.
The ship is one of NCL’s older vessels and is starting to show its age. The public areas are generally in good shape but this was not always true of the private areas. The deck of our balcony was worn and shabby and there were large patches of rust visible on the walls & ceiling of the balcony.
Our room steward was just adequate. Service was inconsistent. An empty Champaign bottle stayed in the room for two full days in spite of being turned over in the ice bucket, and bath mats were delivered only every second or third day. The steward seemed to rush his preparation of the room and it tended to show in the details. The room itself was more than adequate though but I would caution cruisers to avoid a connecting room whenever possible. The connecting door takes up room and changes the layout of the suite providing much less storage area. Again, no big deal but something cruisers may want to avoid if possible.
The food on the ship was not particularly memorable. The dining room staff did not appear as well trained as on my other NCL experiences (the Pearl, & the Jade). Most disappointing was the specialty restaurants. We went to The Teppanyki and the Bistro. The Teppanyki room was far too small for two cooking surfaces. In addition, both chefs started at the exact same time. As they were standing only two feet apart they seemed to be trying to outshout each other to entertain their guests who often heard the same jokes/routines performed twice within a matter of seconds. The food was band and tasteless compared to the offerings we enjoyed previously at the Teppanyki on other NCL ships
The food in the Bistro was ok but hardly upscale as promised. We were a bit miffed by the upcharge on the seafood main dish. It’s annoying to pay more and then be asked to pay more gain. The second surprise was that some of the tables are outside of the restaurant altogether. They are separated from a noisy piano bar by a 3 foot railing. Much like eating in a shopping mall and hardly the romantic secluded French dining experience promised.
Overall, the itinerary on this trip was outstanding. Portland Maine was pleasant surprise and our trip up the Saguenay River fiord was stunning. In the Baie, close to 50 French Canadians met the ship at the dock dressed in period costumes. They offered music, and dancing along with maple sugar and free blueberry pie slices to each passenger- their music and hospitality was one of the highlights of the trip. Other ports could learn from their organization & enthusiasm. Stops in Charlottown and Halifax were great but there was almost nothing to do in Gaspe if you did not take the ships excursions.. Quebec City is one of the most unique cities in North America and deserves a day or two in itself at the beginning or end of your cruise.
Overall, a good cruise- really is there a bad cruise!