We have sailed on a lot of cruises through Princess (13+), Carnival(12+), and Royal Caribbean (once). This was our first experience with Norwegian. The NCL Dawn is an older ship but they have tried to upgrade it pretty well. I loved the metal art on the walls throughout the ship. I was a bit concerned with the limited elevators on this ship but we never had to wait too long for one.
We "really" enjoyed the freestyle dining. The food was okay in the dining rooms. The service in each dining room was horrible. Our servers were forever getting our orders wrong. VERY disorganized. The Garden Cafe (buffet) was quite good but not much variety for the 7 days we were on this ship. The tables were cleared promptly, and we didn't have too much trouble finding a table. I really appreciated having the utensils and condiments on each table. We chose to skip the two dining rooms after the fiasco's in each one of them. We tried two of the specialty dining restaurants, the Moderno brazilean churrascaria, and the Bamboo. Both were good but nothing that spectacular. It still beat the two dining rooms.
Our Cabin was a "BD" Oceanview Stateroom. We are used to bigger cabins. We walked in and had to laugh. We have never stayed in such a tiny cabin before. But as time went by, it did have all of our needs. You just had to plan your strategy when getting to one side of the cabin with two people in the room. The TV Station selection was very meager to say the least. Most were about the ship, 3 news, 1 sports, 2 movie, and a hit and miss with the other channel. I loved having a coffee maker in the room, a real plus! A small refrigerator which would have been fine except that they fill it up with a bunch expensive garbage. No one really like this stuff anymore! Our Bed was so uncomfortably hard, the cabin steward had to place a bunch of comforters on top so that I could sleep. I didn't sleep for the first 2 nights. Now on the matter of the bathroom, I laughed even harder when I saw it at first, it is so tiny. It was a nice concept but lacked some room. The toilet was separated by a sliding door which just was an annoyance. If they didn't have that wall, it would have been a bit larger room. The sliding door just rattled through the whole cruise. We did enjoy the shower. It was really nice. It had sliding doors and was roomy, had plenty of hot water with good water pressure. Our Cabin Steward, Rene, kept our room up wonderfully. I read some reviews but did have any bad experiences. He made our trip!
We went to Reception to check on some charges on our statement, the receptionist was not too friendly but did answer the question. Another day, after a 15 minute wait, we had a question at the shore excursion desk about one of our shore excursions (we booked 3). The young blonde headed women was down right rude to us and treated us like we were morons. Our ticket's were marked 8:15 but our booking information said 11:00am. She just said to be there at 8:15 and that they do this every week. Short and curt. We ended up going back a little later on and was waited on by someone else and she informed us what was really going on! By the way, the shore excursions were wonderful.
Now disembarkation process was really great, walked right off as soon as the ship arrived. Most cruise lines are doing this now. We valet parked, highly recommend!
The entertainment was very enjoyable. Tim Kaminski, the comedian, was the best entertainer that we have seen on any cruise ship. Also enjoyed the Second City comedy troupe.
Now lastly, the embarkation was a total nightmare! The worst one we have ever experienced. I know that the cruise line can not control the weather. The ship was detained from entering the port because of the fog which made the ship come in late, that I understand. However, I do not understand that not one representative was present outside the terminal to guide any of passengers who stood out in the heat for 3 hours, with out water (they brought our a water cooler that quickly emptied out), and no shade to explain any details of what was going on. At one point, we stood for 45 minutes without moving an inch. It was about 100 degrees in the sun and so hot. We didn't have our sunscreen on us, that was in the checked bags. I couldn't believe that they could treat people like this.
It took me about 1 to 2 days to calm down from the embarkation process, but slowly, I started to enjoy the cruise. All in all, I would go again on a Norwegian, just not sure when.