We splurged and booked a 2 bedroom suite on the Norwegian Dawn for a 7 day cruise from Boston to Bermuda. This cruise was our 5th overall cruise and were very excited to going on a cruise and traveling to Bermuda.
Embarkation went well. We waited in line through security and than were led to the suites/latitudes line for check in. After we checked in we were led to a small area to meet the concierge and butler who later brought us onboard to Cagney's steakhouse for lunch. Right from the beginning we noticed how wonderful the all the staff was. This was true for the entire voyage. We have never seen a crew work so hard and be so polite and caring. We think we had one of the hardest working cabin stewards as well. His name was Chris Rempillo and kept our cabin spotless.
The Suite was nice. The only thing we noticed that was a bit disconcerting was the second bedroom's wallpaper which was peeling off. Obviously someone decided to see if they could peel it off and ripped a big portion of exposing the wall. We also had a couple of cracked tiles in the shower. Other than those two issues, it was a great choice for all of us traveling. The suite can hold up to 6 passengers and also has two bathrooms and a nice balcony.
The Dawn offers a variety of dining options. The two main dining rooms are The Venetian and Aqua. One thing we noticed on the cruise was that Norwegian seemed to make great improvements on their food. There is a good variety and the quality and taste were much better than our cruise last year. We were very happy with the main dining rooms. The Dawn also offers complimentary dining in the Garden Buffet, a 24 hour restaurant and the pool side bbq. Sprinkles ice cream parlor is also poolside.
If you want a pizza NCL offers pizza delivery to your cabin for a charge of 5 dollars per pizza. The crust was good. We felt there was just a bit too much cheese on the pizza. Other than that it was tasty. You can also order room service. Room service during the day hours are free. After midnight there is a small charge.
The Dawn also offers specialty dining ranging from 15 to 30 dollars per person. We did not eat the specialty restaurants.
Once again the service at the main dining rooms were wonderful, professional, and efficient. In The Venetian the hostesses Ana Luz Garcia and Norita Q. were grace under pressure. They kept the passengers happy while waiting to be seated and always had some of the nicest smiles on the ship. Hats off to a job well done.
One of the best waiters we have had on any cruise ship was Augen Salumbides. His personality was fantastic, his service professional, and he not only made sure we had everything we needed, but also anticipated our needs. He was a waiter in the Venetian dining room.
The cruise director staff did a fantastic job through out the cruise. They were so busy hosting a variety of events though out the day. On the sea days they made sure everyone was happy and had a ton events from Bingo to poolside challenges. One member of this staff really stood out. His name is Romeo Ogong. Once again his personality was welcoming and a lot of passengers took to him. He was one of the few crew members that was being stopped by a lot of passengers to get a photo taken with them.
We knew that the weather out of Boston and returning to Boston would be nice, but, cool. We therefore purchased a week long pass to the Thermal Suites in the spa. The Thermal suites area give you access to a large jacuzzi and hot tub, a lap pool, (yes, an actual lap pool at sea) an indoor lounging area which overlooks the back of the ship and a wall of floor to ceiling windows, and in the men's and women's locker rooms there is a sauna, steam room, hot and cold tub, showers,lockers and a special relaxation room complete with comfortable cushioned chairs overlooking the sea. The weeklong pass was just over 115 dollars and was a great place to go and relax. Herbal tea and iced water were also served.
We also took advantage of a couple of spa treatments. Amber Roberts was one of the best specialists we have had anywhere. She is so knowledgeable and personable. She really cares about her clients. We were on the Norwegian Gem last year and had a couple of treatments with her. When we saw her on this cruise we were overjoyed. She remembered us and remembered our discussions from a year ago. It was just like we got off that ship weeks before this one. She remembered the struggles we were having and asked about them and went out of her way on both trips to put together an action plan to take with us and use off the ship. Needless to say we were very happy. She went way above and beyond for us and are so very grateful to her.
Another spa standout was Ricardo Panuncio. He was on the salon side. I booked an "Ultimate Men's package" which is a shave, facial, hand and arm, and ankle and foot massage. Since I booked it on the first day, they also gave you a free haircut. Ricardo was great at explaining everything and his haircut was the best I have had. Very impressed with this whole treatment. So much so I booked the same treatment a few days later.
Keep in mind we had one of the best crews at sea. The spa area is very relaxing and great to recharge your batteries. Go the first day and check out all their specials they offer. I also discovered that the products they use can be purchased onboard. They asked if I wanted to purchase any products and I declined. They did not hype or push them. It was not a high pressure situation. What I did discover is that the prices on the ship are better than when you get off the ship. So, if you think you may want to purchase the spa products, my suggestion would be to purchase them on the ship and save some money.
We knew that the Dawn was an older ship. She did have a refurbishment in 2011. The crew did however keep her very clean. The one thing that happened on our cruise which we did not appreciate, but I am sure the next cruise passengers will, was carpet repair. Everyday on the cruise they were ripping up the carpeting on some area of the ship and replacing it. This meant staircases were being closed and the strong smell of glue was in the air. On some days it seemed like we were in the middle of a renovation project and not a cruise. This did effect us, but should not effect any other cruises in the near future.
The casino was active and a lot of fun. There were many tables games, and slot machines to be had. I could not believe how packed the casino was. Smoking is allowed in the casino. Depending on your lifestyle this can be a good thing or a bad thing.
There are some nice bars and clubs onboard the Dawn too. One fun thing to do is the Pub Crawl. You go from venue to venue sampling beers.
The entertainment in the Stardust was very good. The best nights were the "band on the run" night featuring music from the 70's. It was a non stop high energy concert. Elements was also wonderful. This show featured a magician, acrobats, and dancers. The acrobats also had their own show on the last night which was great. The magician had his own show too. Still trying to figure out how he was able to do what he did. If you like 50's music there was also a BeeBop night which got people on their feet!
Duty free shopping on board was wonderful. The prices for alcohol were about 50 percent less than I normally pay. Regular shopping was good as well. I forgot to pack some dress socks for the Norwegian Night Out. Sure enough they had some in the gift shop. Judging from the items they had to sell, there seems to be a market for sundries that people may have forgotten to pack.
Overall our onboard experience was positive. The ship offers a lot of activities and the staff is excellent and hard working. The pool area seemed to have a lot of space and chairs and their is a quiet area at the front of the ship that also has lots of seating. There is a kids pool and jacuzzi at the back of the ship for family time.
There were several ways to get off the ship. NCL offers a carry off program. If you want to carry your luggage off the ship and do not need any help you can simply walk off the ship when customs has cleared the ship. The suites and latitude platinum members, priority debarkation is available. Everyone else is color coded and when your color is called you proceed to lead the ship, pick up your luggage and go through customs.
The crew is hard at work during this entire time getting everything ready for the next group of passengers coming aboard in just a couple of hours to start their vacation.