We have been following the reviews for this ship and went on our cruise with low expectations. However, we experienced exactly the opposite of many of the previous reviews. We arrived at the port of Tampa about 12:30PM and where through check in and on the ship by 1:45PM. Everyone we encountered along the way was very helpful and friendly. Once on the ship, we were able to go to our room, met our room steward, Frank, and went to lunch in the Garden Café. This area was very crowed as expected, but people were constantly coming and going, so we were able to find a seat fairly quickly. The food was okay, nothing outstanding, but there was quite a variety to choose from. The main thing we didn't enjoy was lining up cafeteria style to go through the line. We have been on other cruises where you have different stations throughout the dining area and this cuts down on the line issue. Don't just go in the first line you see, because there is a sandwich line, a hamburger and hotdog line, and also a dessert line. Scope out the area first and then choose what you want to eat. We learned this by the second day.
There are many options when it comes to dining, from the garden café, to the two main restaurants, to the 24 hour Blue lagoon, to the pay Specialty Restaurants, to the pool deck, and room service. What we enjoyed the most about all of these restaurants, is that they all have very causal dress codes. The most strict dress code is in the Venetian Restaurant. The men must wear long pants, they can be jeans however. In the rest of the areas shorts are acceptable. We are causal people and we loved this dress code, the most of any of the cruises we have been on. We tried room service and they were very punctual and we received everything we ordered.
The cabin was adequate in size. The thing we liked most was the bathroom. The shower was roomy, compared to some cruise ships, and it actually had a glass door, no shower curtain. The toilet was also able to be closed off. The balcony was adequate, having 2 chairs and a table. For the money we paid we were happy. Our room steward was great. We never had to ask for anything. He knew our names after meeting us once. We loved the idea of the dial by the door, notifying him when we wanted the room made, up, do not disturb, etc. What a great idea instead of the tag hung on the door knob.
The entertainment was okay. The shows in the evening were good enough. I do agree with other reviews that the music was to loud. You actually needed cotton in your ears to be able to stand it. The incense/smell they used during the Bollywood show was overpowering to me and stuffed up my nose. The music throughout the bars was good and a nice variety. We didn't use the Casino because there was to much smoke. Also, I didn't enjoy the promenade deck because smoking was allowed on both the port and starboard sides. The tours we did, which were only two, were just okay. However we were the ones that choose the tours. The tours go rain or shine, and it poured on Tuesday in Rhotan, not the ships fault.
Disembarking was also a breeze for us. We chose to walk off with our luggage. We left at 8:00AM and were off the ship, through customs, and in our car within 30 minutes. I'm sure if you choose to hang around or need to wait for your luggage to be removed from the ship and placed in the luggage area, then it may be a problem. If you are able, do the walk off option.
All in all NCL, the Dawn, and our cruise was great. It is what you make it. We will definitely sail with them again and are looking forward to trying the Getaway in the future.