Over all, our entire cruise was good. Let me explain that my wife and I are from the upper Midwest and we are in our early/mid 30’s. This is our 5th cruise with NCL and we have only cruised NCL.
The day before the cruise we received phone calls from NCL advising not to show up to the terminal until after 1pm due to the size of it being smaller and there maybe limited seating. This was no problem for us, as our flight would land in Tampa at 1pm. A mechanical delay had our flight landing at a little after 3pm and by the time we got our luggage and taxi to the terminal we were pushing the 3:45 time. We arrived in the terminal to find it locked, but there was staff on hand to unlock the door and help get us our key cards and checked in. We were on the Dawn a little before 4pm and they had started the muster drill. We found our spot and saw the drill.
We got the up-sell call a week before we sailed and went from an inside room to a balcony room on deck 10 forward (10018). The room was like any other cabin and compared to inside rooms it did offer some more room that we normally get (we have only had inside rooms before). We walked around for a while and thought it was odd that the ship remained tied up and not sailing on time. We hit the buffet for a light snack and again walked around just checking things out. We went to the guest service desk about my wife’s food allergy (gluten) and they directed us to the main dinning room to meet with the Maitre D’. We met with him after a short delay that he apologized for… it was obvious they were busy. He sent his assistant over who took a pre-order for my wife for the next night. We walked around the ship as it left port and then headed to bed, as we were tired.
The next day we told that there was a fuel delivery problem that took place earlier in the day and the Dawn missed its departure time slot in the Tampa Port. The next open slot was about 3 hours later… not that big of a deal to us but it was the question that was being asked all around the ship the entire week.
Day 1 was a sea day and we started at the buffet for breakfast. Made to order omelets are the best. We had a meet and greet with other Cruise Critic members and then we also attended the Latitudes party for retuning NCL guests. At both places we met with Alain the Hotel Director and heard about what it takes to keep things going on the ship. We registered for the officer’s supper meal and found out 2 days later that we had won; one of 6 couples spots for the dinner. Supper that night was in the main dinning room and we were assisted right away. My wife’s pre-order meal was no problem. The only thing that we both found odd was the Maitre D’ and/or his assistant never stopped by to ask us about the meal or if there was anything else that we needed. The Assistant Maitre D’ looked lost most of the time we were there and just walked around not doing anything, usually we see them stopping from table to table talking to the guests…. He was talking to the staff. Not the end of the world for us just seemed odd compared to past NCL Maitre D’s that we have had.
Day 2 had us in Honduras. We planned an off sight trip to a resort on the east end of the island to soak up the sunshine on their private beach. The drive was about 1 hour there and knowing that we had to be back on the ship at 4:30pm we had their driver take us back at about 3pm… we ended up getting slowed down because of traffic and arrived back at the ship at 4:35 right as the last items were being pushed up the ramp into the ship. The resort (Paya Bay) was worth the visit and we would go back again. We ate at the main dinning room again and it was good again (I had the salmon and my wife had the steak). We saw the Not so Newly Wed Game, which was fun and had some good laughs in it… could not convince my wife for us to register.
Day 3 had us in Belize and we woke up to rain. It rained so hard and long that we basically took the tender boat into port, got a post card, mailed it and then went back to the ship. My wife went to the lounge and watched a movie and I sat in one of the covered hot tubs on the pool deck sipping a drink. Supper was in the main dinning room and we ate with Alain the Hotel Director…. He is a very nice and wonderful guy to meet and talk to.
Day 4 had us in Costa Maya, which it rained as well there. There were times that the sun did come out and we did go into port but we cancelled our visit to the beach club that really was not what we thought it would be…. The photos on their website are a little miss leading. I ended up taking a nap and my wife read a book. We hit the ice cream stand on the pool deck as we had most afternoons for a quick snack. We ate in the Aqua restaurant, which we thought was a step down from the main dinning room.
Day 5 had us in Cozumel. We got off the ship and just walked into the town area and found a place to go snorkeling. $40 per person and we got 4 – 30 minute dives. It was great except that we both got our backs sunburned…. After working out and getting back into shape this was the one time that I wish I had been self conscious about my body and worn a t-shirt. We ate at the Italian restaurant that night. The food was okay, maybe it was the sunburn but paying the extra $15/pp just didn’t seem worth it to me. The wait staff was above average here and that must be the reason why you pay extra to eat here.
Day 6 was a sea day and we spent it resting and napping. We ate supper in the main dining room and were floored about how bad the service was. It was almost like they had never had meal service before. We were sat in an area that they basically did 6 tables at a time. Bring one table this, then the next and so on. Same with ordering, first this table then the next and so on, it just didn’t feel like the attention was on us but rather to the entire group or area we sat in. The tables weren’t even properly set with table settings before we sat down. I watched as the Assistant Maitre D’ walked around looking like his usual lost self. When the food arrived it was served to the wrong tables… staff just seemed so confused…we ate and left both commenting that we were glad this happened on the last day of the cruise. We went to 2nd City and it was a good show.
Disembarkation was no big deal. We took out time getting breakfast that morning and watching some TV in our room. We walked right off only having to stand in line a few minutes. Our cabin steward was great, called us by name each time he saw us and had the room in perfect condition each time we arrived back.
I’m all for tipping staff but I think NCL’s price of $12 per person per day is a little high. Basically the passengers on the Dawn (2,400) tipped just over $201,000.00 this trip. I’m guessing that the staff must not actually make that much base pay in their paychecks from NCL and this is where they make it up. But think about it… if the ship sails full every week of the year, NCL collects 10 million US Dollars just on tipping that they give out to staff that are able to receive this tipping.
Still a positive cruise and we will be back for another one in the next 4 years. I will say that I have had way more fun going to the Eastern Caribbean than the Western Caribbean.