This was my 3rd time on the NCL Dawn. Sure the boat is aging and clearly there is wear & tear after its years at sea, but it is clear that the crew still takes a lot of pride in the ship and the service that they provide guests.
The food on board was wonderful in the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants. We found a gem of a waiter named Leo in the Aqua dining room who went above and beyond to make our evening special. For instance, when he noticed that we brought a nice bottle of wine with us, he instantly went to get it decanted and brought us cheese/fruit plates to pair with it. No need to ask for this service, he did it proactively. As always, Cagney's serves us amazing quality steaks. Yes you pay an additional charge for this location, but considering I had an 8oz filet along with apps, sides, and desserts - you couldn't find a better deal or meal on land.
There were only 2 things that could have been improved upon on the Dawn. First, the prices in the spa continue to rise. As someone who frequents a variety of spas across the country, I have to say that their prices aren't even competitive or on par with other find spas in the US. Sure, if you want a spa service on the boat that is the only place to go, but really, NCL needs to stop price gouging in order to encourage return customers for the spa.
Second, the shows on the boat. I don't know what was going on. After hearing the 4 main singing leads, it was clear that at the very least 2 of them had exceptional singing talent - but we never got to see it because of how crappy the shows were. Bollywood use to be an amazing show, something I looked forward to. I honestly sat there with my jaw open as to how badly they butchered what use to be a good show. What happened to the excitement at the beginning - where the acrobats were showcased, where there were singers in on the steps and confetti flying? AND what happened to the lyrics of Jai Ho - it use to be the american version with a women and male lead singing - same with Ojos Asi by Shakira. It was a complete let down and I would probably not go see any of their productions again on that boat because of it. Second City has never been funny in my 7 cruises on NCL - not sure why they are even still on the boat. I would have preferred another show by one of their hilarious comedians. Dave Hennan and Tim Kaminski will make you laugh like no other and more of their shows would have been WAY preferred over the production/Second City.
Overall, NCL Dawn continues to deliver a relaxing and fun experience. She needs some upkeep, but what do you expect from a 12 year old boat - she looks good considering. The staff will never disappoint, nor will the kitchen.
Enjoy your cruise!
Altun Ha & Belize River: I had previously taken this tour about 5 years ago and fondly remembered it as a favorite. I was disappointed this time.
First, we waited over an hour for the rest of the tour group to get there because it was not just folks from the NCL Dawn, it was also passengers from the NCL Jewel which had trouble that morning. I wish that NCL would have coordinated this better because waking people up and the crack of dawn to have them stand around for an hour was not a great start to the trip. It also led us to be late the entire day.
Second, we arrived at Altun Ha in the morning but due to the wait in the am, we only had 40 minutes to do a quick tour and take a few photos before we were rushed back onto the bus to go somewhere else.
This tour was a highlight of the trip - we had such a great time!
Learned a lot about how tequila was made and as wine drinkers it was fascinating to hear how similar it is to the wine making process. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly - the staff provided great samples of anything we wanted to try. Nice facilities, lunch included. Great way to spend the morning in Cozumel and still have some time to do whatever after.
We did not get to disembark at the port as planned due to an NCL crew member being shot and killed the day prior - a very sad event. While I was incredibly disappointed to not get to return to Roatan to go zip-lining again, I also understood why NCL was hesitant to let their passengers off here. I only wish that they would have made the decision to not go there sooner and re-routed the boat to another location rather then just making it another day at sea because it basically became a cruise to mexico.