This was our first 7 day cruise, and only the 2nd cruise we've ever taken. We have another planned in January on RCCLs Navigator of the Seas, and our previous cruise was on RCCLs Majesty of the Seas. So giving Norwegian Dawn a review was a little tough, because I was using a great ship that we had already been on to compare her to.
Since we live in Florida and were departing at Miami, we chose to take the Cruise Connection charter bus to the port instead of driving. At $130.00 per couple, we didn't think it was bad, considering it would have cost us way more than that to drive and pay for parking.
EMBARKATION: Sunday - Jan. 28th - It took us 50 minutes from the time we got in the line to get on the ship until we actually arrived to check in. Then we walked, what seemed like a maze to the moon, to get to the Grand Atrium of the ship. Felt like we were playing "follow-the-leader" and had no clue as to where we were going to end up. This ship is huge. Since our bus was an hour late picking us up to begin with, this put us at the port of Miami around 1:00pm. Not a good time to arrive, because everyone else seems to be arriving about this same time.
DAY 1 - Sunday - Jan. 28th Our first impression of the ship - she's absolutely stunning with beautiful classy-looking decor, and the murals on the walls of the outer decks, really brings out the uniqueness and beauty of this gorgeous ship. As the first day goes on, and we got a little further out in the Atlantic, we started to rock. Left to right, then right to left. This lasted practically the entire time the ship was moving. All the way from the time we left Miami, until we returned 7 days later. Yep, we did the crab-walk almost the entire time, except obviously when the ship docked or stopped for tendering. I questioned some of the staff from time to time as to why she rocked so much or if this was something she did all the time. We were told that it was due to the wind, the under current and the height of the waves. Sometimes the wind was 17 knots, with a speed of 21.5 knots, and the waves were moderate at 4 1/2 - 7 ft. Then there were times that the winds were 9 knots, with a speed of 21 knots, and waves were slight at 1 - 4 1/2 ft. What we didn't quite understand was that she rocked the exact same, no matter what the conditions were. Not only did she rock, but she also had a vibration at certain points that could shimmy your drink or whatever else you might have sitting on your table back near the poolside, completely off your table.
We would go to sleep at night with things sitting on our tables in our stateroom that ended up on the floor by morning.
I woke up on 2 different morning, with a headache in the back of my head that felt like if I turned my head, my head would fall off. It was horrible. Thank goodness we brought some Extra Strength Excedrin with us.
So, taking in consideration that just "maybe" the rocking was due to slight wave action and wind that was blowing at an average wind speed of an every day normal for Florida, we put our negative thoughts aside to try to enjoy our cruise experience, because we knew we had a lot of days on this ship.
STATEROOMS: We had an Oceanview w/ Porthole on Level 4. (about mid-ship) These rooms are nice sized rooms. It was larger than our Oceanview with a window on RCCLs Majesty of the Seas. Our bathroom was also larger, with the toilet area, and shower area, having their own sliding door for privacy, if someone needed to use the sink. But really? How much time does a person spend in a bathroom? Therefore, a bathroom, nor the size of the room would not determine if I would cruise or not cruise on a particular ship again.
SERVICE: Our stateroom attendants were great. They were polite, friendly, and very thoughtful. I would have loved to bundled them up in my suitcase and brought them home with me. ;)
SLEEP: Oops - don't think there's a rating for this, is there? There should be. When we were on RCCLs Majesty, we slept every night, like sleeping on clouds. RCCLs has beds that are to dream for. However, it was not like this on the Norwegian Dawn. For those that think their going to be cuddling on to their significant other, better think again. Norwegian has practically made it impossible. At least for a regular Oceanview room with a porthole they did. I'd roll over, thinking I'd be able to hug my husband, only to find myself laying on a 4 in. wide hole that is from where the twin beds are pushed up against one another to make a double bed. I probably could have dealt with it by pushing a towel in the crack, except my side of the bed was like 3 inches taller than my husband's side of the bed. Also Royal Caribbean gave us lots and lots of pillows on our bed. We had extra pillows on the Majesty for our heads and extra ones to sit in our window, so we could lean up against the window and look outside. Not on Norwegian.... you get 2 small worn pillows, and that's it.
Apparently a lot of people on this cruise didn't get much sleep at night, because we found the majority of the people that were 60+ (which was the majority of the people on this ship), sleeping in the lounge chairs on the deck of level 7 the majority of the days. To the point that you could never find a place to sit on this deck during mid-day or evenings. And if anyone thinks I'm fibbing about this.... I took pictures, because I knew that no one back at home would believe me when I tell them that I felt like I was cruising in a retirement home. ;)
FOOD: We had most of our meals buffet style. We ate at the Blue Lagoon one night after we found ourselves carrying our plates from the buffet around with one item on them. There were only 2 times that I can recall where we didn't like what the buffet had to offer. Plus, we could have always gone to one of the restaurants to eat, but you have to make reservations and we like to eat when we're hungry, not hours later.
The food, however, at the Garden Cafe buffet, we found to be better than Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, and not only due to taste, but also due to the large variety that was offered. Other than the one day that my rice tasted like soap, and they have meat that is shoe-leathery, the remainder of the food was good. (Majesty of the Seas does have tender meat at their buffet though). We always found a clean table at the Garden Cafe and the staff there seemed to work non-stop to make sure every one was enjoying their meal, and they worked constantly cleaning off the tables to make sure that the next person that walked in, had a clean table to sit down at.
ENTERTAINMENT: The juggling show was by far my favorite. The comedians, I didn't find all that funny, and really found them to be obnoxious at times. I was actually glad when the comedian show was over, because I didn't want to be rude and walk out in the middle of the show. We noticed that the majority of the people in the theater seemed to be laughing at these comedians, so maybe it had something to do with our age, (mid and late 40s), considering that 80% of the people in the theater, seemed to be in their mid 60s. The dancers were the shows that we enjoyed the most. The Magician was pretty good as well. The best place to sit for these shows in the Stardust Theater is mid-level right in the center or close to the center. Casino - We personally did not like how the machines cashed out with tickets, instead of real coins (like on RRCLs Majesty). All these slots on Dawn did, was take your money. The only time I cashed out for a ticket was to get the balance to put in another machine, just to lose that as well. After a few hours feeding the slots the first night on board, we never went back there.
POOLSIDE: This was a strange area. People drank alcohol early, and the poolside seemed to shut down after 5:00pm. We always referred to the poolside as the "Dead Zone" while we were on this cruise. It was liked poolside closed up once the sun went down.
CHILDREN'S CLUBS: I didn't have any children with me, so I can't say much about this category, except that while my husband and I were standing in the elevator, we heard a mother ask her son (about 7 years old), if after he ate, if he would like to go to the Kids place on the ship, and her son said "I don't want to go back there." No lie.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: SAMANA - I don't have too many nice things to say about this place. Therefore, all I'll say is that we got off the ship, tendered in to the island. Stayed for 45 minutes and got back on the ship.
TORTOLA - People here are nice and friendly. We took a shore excursion of a tour, and we had a blast.
ST. THOMAS - Absolutely beautiful here. We enjoyed ourselves, and wish we could have stayed longer, but this was a short stay for our ship. We went on the Sky Lift to take us to Paradise Point, and you can take some beautiful pictures there, looking down at the ships.
GREAT STIRRUP CAY - We didn't end up going here, because the tender boats used to tender us to the island could not get close enough to the ship due to the under currents, winds, etc. to allow the passengers to get on them safely. Therefore....... we went to NASSAU instead. This was a nice gesture for our captain to do, considering that he could have just had us circling the ocean going absolutely nowhere if he had wanted to, but instead chose to take us to Nassau.
NASSAU - At first when we found out that we were going to Nassau, instead of Great Stirrup Cay, we were a little disappointed, because we had just gone to Nassau 3 months earlier. But, we ended up being glad that we went, because we took a tour that we paid only $25.00 a person for from one of the taxi companies that were at the marketplace, and we had a blast. All I can remember is that our driver said his name was "Dr. Peeper", and I'm telling you..... he was the best tour guide that anyone can ask for.
SUMMARY: It's difficult for me to write this review, by not comparing Dawn to Majesty, because our first cruise was on Majesty of the Seas, and Dawn is our 2nd cruise. However, I really am glad that we chose RCCL as our first cruise, because if we'd had chosen Norwegian first, I would have thought that all the cruise lines were like this.
To be honest, I've always thought that there can't be such a thing as a bad cruise, because my husband and I, are the type of people, where we'll try to entertain ourselves in order to make good of a bad situation, and this is exactly what we did a lot of the time on this cruise.
I would cruise with Norwegian again, because of the fantastic service, and their ships are gorgeous, however, I don't think we'll be taking any 7 night cruises again, and I don't think I'd cruise on Dawn again.
DISEMBARKATION: Went very smoothly, however, it just seemed like the last day, the crew had bad attitudes that were working in the Atrium of the ship. It was like "Okay, we put up with you for 7 days, now get the heck off our ship."