We cruised on the Norwegian Dawn from 5/23/14-5/30/14 (Deck 9, cabin 9710). We cruised with a party of 8 to celebrate my Birthday; we all arrived at the Black Falcon Terminal around 11:00 a.m., four of us parked (1 vehicle) in the parking garage across the street. Check in at the terminal was smooth and easy. We were called to begin boarding around noon. We purchased the Ultimate Beverage package and was a bit disappointed to find out we had to go to "Guest Services" once on board to receive the sticker for our room key identifying that we had purchased the package. There was a short line but it moved quickly. All (4) of our cabins were ready upon our embarkation. Our room was well decorated for my Birthday with the Birthday celebration package purchased though NCL from friends of ours that were cruising with us. We carried on 4 bottles of wine with us, we paid the corkage fee up-front of $15.00/bottle (still less $$ than if we purchased a bottle of wine on the ship and this way we knew we liked the wine we were drinking. NCL puts a little sticker on the label of each bottle identifying that the corkage fee had already been paid. I don't believe we were given an option on when to pay the corkage fee, an upfront charge was acceptable to us.
We started with a nice sit-down lunch in the MDR (The Venetian), the food was very good, the service was a bit slow but the MDR may not have been fully staffed just yet. We weren't in ANY hurry and enjoyed being waited on. While we were eating lunch, we were approached by a member of NCL staff; she was looking to sell (10) seats at the "Chef's Table" which is a 9 course meal prepared by the Executive Chef and his team paired with wine. It was a $99.00 up-charge per person. All 8 of us decided to purchase it (more on the dinner later).
I found the coffee to be way too strong for my taste, one of the servers at the Blue Lagoon (great breakfast buffet but the menu stays the same all week) would pour coffee "wakey, wakey" and while pouring would say, "Coffee? Fresh out of the ENGINE"...very cute.
We hit the deck at the front of the ship and watched the planes from Logan fly over-head while we were waiting to pull away from the dock. That was fun and really exciting when the ships horn blew and we knew we were on our way to Bermuda. The weather was cool and cloudy but at least it wasn't raining (or snowing)!
The seas were pretty rough, I heard through the grapevine 8-12 feet nothing Dramamine and Bonine couldn't handle but I think I would get the sea-sickness patch that goes behind your ear from my Dr. prior to cruising the Atlantic again. You can get them on board but you need a complete physical and it'll cost approx. $125.00 or so. We didn't have any trouble getting chairs on the pool deck the first full day at sea. While the band by the pool was a bit slow in getting started they were good and it really got you in the mood for a "tropical" vacation with the steel drums. We didn't hear "Sweet Caroline" once on the entire cruise. The outdoor BBQ offered at each bar area poolside were good, the menu varied a bit, I was content with the selection of burgers, hot dogs, chicken and french fries served by the Bimini Bar.
Our favorite MDR was The Venetian, we liked the ambiance better than the Aqua MDR. We paid the up-charge to have dinner at Cagney's one evening, the food was very good, I would recommend it if you want a good steak.
The Chef's Table dinner that we purchased was on the evening of Tuesday, May 27th. We were given a letter per cabin the evening before instructing us on the time and the meeting location. We met in the lounge located near the Cigar bar and LaCucina for a complimentary glass of champagne; we also met the other 2 guests that made up the 10 of us. We were greeted by the Executive Chef and his team and escorted to the main lobby for a photo session, each couple received a photo before the conclusion of the dinner. The table, china, centerpiece, food, wine and company was WELL worth the up-charge. At the conclusion of the meal we were invited by the Executive Chef to return to the lounge meeting place on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. for a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen led and narrated by him. That was something I've never had the chance to see and probably won't get the opportunity again. I LOVED IT! We found out that this offer isn't availble on all cruises and that the team was really excited to find out there was 10 of us willing to participate. It was spectacular from start to finish, if you have the opportunity to do this, I would highly recommend it. We thought it was a "sales pitch" and that there would be several tables of 10, but it really was just the 10 of us.
Going back a bit, Bermuda was beautiful. We all purchased the ferry/bus pass for around $38.00/pp for three days. It's a great way to get around the island. The buses are SCARY, besides the fact that they're on the opposite side of the road, the drivers drive fast and don't have much sympathy for a moped in front of them. I found the ferry to be much more relaxing than a bus ride.
We had drinks one evening at the Frog and Onion, they were good, LARGE and expensive but it was a great experience. We went to Horshoe Bay (2x), it can be a bit crowded but we found a more secluded spot by walking left toward the rocks. The water and weather were amazing!!!! There are clean restrooms, snack-bar and outdoor make-shift bar at the beach too. Beware, it's a pretty steep hill to walk down to get to the beach and then of course you have to walk back up the hill to catch the bus.
Our cabin steward was Harvey, he was fabulous and made great towel animals. The monkey hanging from the A/C unit was the best! The balcony was a bit smaller than on another cruise line I was on but the two chairs and small table fit just fine.
The rest of the time on the ship was nice, there is plenty to do and when/if the weather is cool and windy like our sail days, there's plenty to do inside the ship; whether it be shopping, bars, naps etc....
They were replacing some carpets in the main areas of the ship, I didn't find it to be too disruptive, I also know that's the only time they can keep her looking beautiful. I did hear some fellow passengers complaining about the new carpet disruption but like I said, that's the only time those types of repairs can be done, I think she's sailed year-round. The Dawn is an older ship and showing some signs of wear & tear but NCL sure goes out of their way to paint, polish and clean her. It's obvious how much pride they take in her (Dawn).
We had a great time on the Norwegian Dawn, just be aware of the potential for rough sea days and be prepared just in case and you'll have a great time. I hope you found this review helpful.