From the minute we took the elevators into the port check in area we were greeted with professional friendly Norwegian staff. We were traveling with 3 kids ages 7,3, and 19 months as well as a non-US citizen. Check in was pretty easy and done promptly. We were suite guests so we were escorted to an area were the concierge gave us instructions and then we were escorted towards the Dawn. The Dawn has a great vibe as soon as you enter, great colors, Caribbean music playing etc. we were told our rooms wouldn't be ready until after 1:30 so we were instructed to go to Cagneys for lunch which is a perk I believe for Suite guests. Lunch was decent but they didn't have a kids menu which I found odd. My daughter had the corn chowder which was so so , the chicken was huge, I ordered a dish with shrimp and scallops, the shrimp were small and not very appetizing. That is the only time we ate in Cagneys during the day. We went to our 2 bedroom suite, and I was definately impressed with it. Size wise it is two cabins, with two bedrooms and two baths. I was worried the size of the second bedroom would be tiny, it has a full/ queen bed, and then a bunk over it, so 3 people can easily sleep in there, but best suited for kids or 2 adults 1 kid. There are no windows in here, so with lights off and doors closed it is dark, but perfect for kids plus 1 adult. The living dining area is your typical cabin size with a table and 4 chairs and a large sofa that can be pulled out into a bed, not necessary for us even with 6 people in the cabin. It had a mini fridge and an espresso machine with dishes etc for us. Our suite had a balcony with 2 loungers versus chairs which I saw on many balconies, and that is all you can get out there with about 2 feet walking space on the balcony. You then walk into the master area which is huge with a large bathroom, double sinks, bathtub with large window and small walk In shower with multiple heads. My husband and I could both shower at the same time with a little maneuvering. My kids loved the bathtub, all 3 could fit in. The master bed is a king size and pretty comfortable, the only issue was that the doors between the master and living areas is difficult to latch but it did latch.
Our first dinner was in Teppanyaki and it wasn't good in my opinion. If you enjoy Japanese steak houses this was a fry cry from a real experience, the rice tasted awful, I got shrimp and chicken which was okay, the steak was average per my husband, the sauces were soso, the desserts were fruit, which was the better option, and a green ice cream and cake, HORRIBLE , I would not recommend eating at Teppanyaki, it was a bad experience.
We did stop into the stardust and the comedian was doing a show, he pulled guests from the stage and made them act like animals which was entertaining and fun.
Day 2 sailing at sea we found the kids pool, which took some work, the lay out of this ship and access to kids pool is a little difficult, you have to go through the gym if you have a stroller, not great accessibility with small kids, it's at the back of the ship and has some slides and mini loungers for kids, but not a lot of space, I think this was an afterthought in planning, I found it a pain to get to and we only used one time. But the area is pretty sheltered from wind.
We ended up spending most of the day at the adult pool or central pool, on other ships there are only loungers around the central pool but on the Dawn there are elevated areas with sun loungers theatre style so lots of loungers available and makes it more enjoyable for all . They did a large barbecue poolside, chicken was great and I found these barbecues to offer some of the better food, fresh fruit, but very little strawberries, or grapes seen. They had live reggae singers at the pool which was fun and kept you dancing, they also had "mr leg contests and mrs biceps contest which was just fun" also the entertainment staff would get out and do some line dancing to hip hop music and got the crowd involved.
The garden cafe is just off from the main pool area, buffet style but with its own kiddie area, and small chairs which is great for kids, with hotdogs, pasta, fruit frenchfries, jello, perfect area just for little ones.
We fed the kids in the Venetian for dinner our second night, this was also formal night, and I think my husband and I were the most dressed couple on the ship, even though the Venetian has a dress code, slacks nice shirts, we still saw people in bummy clothes not appropriate, there was no enforcement of dress code in my opinion. So if you prefer an upscale feel while cruising then freestyle isn't it, because there are a lot of people who still dress down even in the specialty restaurants like Le bistro, Cagneys etc. the food in the Venetian was okay, not spectacular, and not a lot of option, however kids ordered normal kid stuff and were satisfied.
For adult dinner my husband and went to La Cucina, which was good, better than the main dining area, but I forget what I even ordered so it didn't stand out in my mind, my husband ordered a pasta with seafood which was soso not spectacular.
Day 3 stop in Roatan islands, with all the previous concern of safety we were assured that security was stepped up. We chose to go to frenchys 44 a private beach that we arranged predeparture. Roatan island is very much an impoverished island, lots of shanty shacks, etc. I don think I would chose to go here again, but we enjoyed our private island/ beach which was about 20 min taxi ride away, then flatboat to the island across the cove, overall the prettiest overall beach setting of our 7 day cruise. I was very relieved to get back to the ship and on board, we had no issues in Roatan however personally we just felt uneasy being on the island except for in the port and at the private beach island.
Kids dinner was in Aqua which we had concierge pre call for us so we didn't have to wait, my favorite food item on the cruise ship was the spring roll which could be found. Every night whether In the Venetian or Aqua and was very yummy, the broccoli cheese soup was awful, however the potatoe/ cheese soup was delicious. One adult with us ordered the boullnese spaghetti and she thought it was very good, my daughter loved ordering peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Adult dinner in Cagneys was superb, we both ordered filets, my husband had Cajun style and I had Gorgonzola crusted, the sides were delicious with au gratin potatoes, creamed corn , overall a great experience and wish we had gone back again GREAT steaks.
Day 4 was Belize which is a tender port, took about a 20 min ride, then we chose a private snorkel beach excursion which was by boat for another 30 minute...... Gorgeous tiny island with perfect sand and water just what you expect in the Caribbean. The port has indoor shopping, piranha joes, a few drinking spots etc. we returned to the boat early after our excursion and hung out at the pool. Kids ate buffet from garden cafe same food. The buffet for adults is okay, with a large choice of desserts, but we found the buffet food just okay. However lots to choose from. Hopped into Venetian for some predinner food got the mushroom quesadilla which was good.
Adult dinner was in Le bistro , the hostess there Annaliza is a smiling sweetheart friendly Colombian, this was a dinner for my husbands birthday so we sat out front near the wine cases directly across from the lounge area and had a great evening listening to entertainment staff singing great tunes and requests. I had a puff pastry seafood in vermouth cream which was very good and my husband ate lobster tails which were very good too. The staff brought him a cake and sang happy birthday without me asking, and then he was serenaded by the entertainment crew as well, he thought I orchestrated it was a great evening.
Day 5 ordered breakfast in the room, bacon, sausage , fresh fruit, yogurts, breads, eggs but no omelets, cereal orange juice and coffee. Headed out to costa maya, love this port, great place to hang out if you don't want to go and explore they have a nice pool lots of shopping, señor frogs etc and dolphin swim right at the port. We again chose a private beach excursion on our own, maya chan.... Great overall experience but the beaches do have trash, plastic and sea grass galore, not the perfect Caribbean beach you expect.
Venetian had lobster dinner this night, and steak, the lobster was small but good, my steak was HORRIBLE tasted like bad meat, however other guests commented it was "good" either my tastes are too high, or I had a bad piece of meat, my husband said the meat quality wasn't good, so if you want good steak get it from a specialty restaurant instead.
Adult dinner we then hopped over to Moderno Churrascaria , the salad bar is small, and if you are used to going to Brazilian steakhouses, then the sale bar doesn't compare, we tried to eat the meat, but honestly even though we waited hours to go to this restaurant we just couldn't stuff ourselves, so I can't give a good review, most others I talked to enjoyed the experience and the food here..... We were too stuffed to sample more than a few pieces of meat, all which were good.
Day 6 Cozumel, went to buffet for breakfast, delicious. Waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, like strawberry shortcake for breakfast, definitely my favorite for breakfast, the omelets are not great, the egg mixture is yucky looking and must be a filler or substitute. We opted to go to chakannube state park, spelling probably wrong, by taxi, it is pricey there but they have beaches, pool, swim up bar, sea lion show, swim with dolphin, snorkeling etc, restaurants and the food was good if you ordered from the menu.
Dinner was in Aqua, very disappointing, I got the turkey and dressing, what was I thinking, but nothing on menu looked good, my husband got New Orleans shrimp steak, shrimp was fried and good but steak was not great, we ordered crab cakes, which were basically bread and only a few shreds of crab. Went to the white hot party,, ice sculptures, dancing music etc, but most of the chairs and tables are put away so nowhere really to sit.
Day 7 sea day, spent lounging by the pool. Had another by the pool barbecue and the food was very good.
Dinner was a Family dinner in Le bistro all 3 adults ordered steak, very good, not as good as Cagneys, but good. Also had the mushroom soup a second time, DELICIOUS in my opinion because I love mushroom soup. My husband had the seared scallop appetizer which was good but very tiny which should be expected in a French restaurant.
So, our concierge john was very helpful to us! because we were traveling with 6, and had to feed kids he was able to get us into the aqua or Venetian with all of us, and then we were still able to have our adult dinner at night, so two different reservations almost every day. We had priority disembarkation and were escorted every morning though the staff elevators to bypass the crowds disembarking the ship, we had special meeting place and time to do this. On our last excursion day we didn't need to get off ship right away however our butler (Hasdinil) escorted us off and helped us out anyway.
We called our butler daily, and he was always helpful and pleasant, bringing us ice every day when we requested it, he made sure to remind us of special events and invites, the chocolate party which we got to preview first and attend prior to the other guests, also on formal night we did meet the crew and captain at a special event with lots of free alcohol, you could order what you wanted or drink what they offered, it was a nice experience.
Our room steward was very nice and helpful and we enjoyed our staff greatly.
The only major problem I had was I ordered a birthday package for my husband, and when we returned to the ship it hadn't been brought to our room, someone, probably a teenager changed our room sign to do not disturb , Hasdinil and the room steward were very concerned leaving a note etc, so I called, and we left the room and when we came back it was all set up with room cleaned in under an hour, so they worked hard to be helpful and provide a great experience.
Every afternoon we returned to our room to find cookies, sandwiches, fruit for snacks which is nice after being out all day. Our first day we had a free bottle of champagne in the room and chocolate covered strawberries.
For disembarkation, we were traveling with a non-US citizen and they require all non citizens to pass immigration inspection on the ship.... Again being a suite guest was very helpful, when we got downstairs the line was long, but John our concierge seized us, and took us through the back so we could wait with other suite guests, I returned to my room, and my non-US. Guest returned promptly and with ease that it was no big deal.
Being a suite guest has a lot of perks, from priority embarkation, priority disembarkation, special invites, parties, snacks, foods, a lot more ease of getting reservations, etc especially with small children. I highly recommend being a suite guest and take advantage of what it has to offer.
We did utilize the kids club a lot and my 3 year old had a great time and enjoyed the staff, they were friendly and fun.
My son and husband enjoyed the arcade near the kids club and spent too much money there.
Disembarkation from the dawn was easy breezy for us, and I was thrilled.
Although the food could be improved, I know that we need to eat in specialty restaurants to be fully satisfied, but I also like good food. I loved our suite and the perks, and won't want to be a regular guest again. We also had a pack in play provided by norwegian and they made it quite comfy for our daughter , and we still had room to maneuver with it set up. That's my review In a nut shell. I would cruise norwegian again. But would choose a different Caribbean trip. Jen