Pre-Cruise and Embarkation - Saturday We arrived in Miami on Friday evening pretty late. We had reservations at the Courtyard Marriott Coral Gables through Priceline for $62/nt. The hotel had a free shuttle so all we had to do was call and they picked us up at the airport. The hotel was very nice and the room was great. The next morning, we took a taxi to the port and arrived around 11:00 am. Embarkation went great. This port is very organized as far as check-in.
We had an oceanview cabin on deck 8. We have had balconies on our past two cruises to Alaska, but we spent very little time in our room on this cruise, so the oceanview was a good deal. Once on board, we went and made dinner reservations for Le Bistro that evening. We then headed for the pool to wait for our rooms to be ready. That evening at Le Bistro was wonderful. Very good food and great atmosphere. Can't say enough about the chocolate fondue for dessert.
Every morning except the last morning, we had breakfast at the Garden Cafe. It was always very good, lots of choices.
Sunday - Sea Day We spent most of the day around the pool. It's a gorgeous area and was a lot of fun. We did go to our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet and there were about 50 people that showed up. It was so nice to meet everyone that we had been chatting with the months before the cruise. We also went to a presentation for the Cruise Rewards and took advantage of that deal for our next cruise. Sunday evening, we went to Venetian for lobster night. The food was very good, loved the chilled soup.
Monday - Samana We had booked the Sea Lion Encounter at Cayo Levantado through NCL. We caught a tender right from the ship and went over to Cayo Levantado. This was a wonderful day. The Sea Lion Encounter was so much fun, great memories. The rest of the day we spent at the beautiful beach at Cayo Levantado. It is absolutely gorgeous. We ate a lunch of fresh cooked fish on the island and did a bit of shopping then took one of the last tenders back to the ship.
Tuesday - St. Thomas We had booked an all-day sailing/snorkeling trip with Captain Max from Red Hook Harbor. She arranged for a taxi to pick us up right at the ship to take us to the harbor. This was probably the best day of our cruise. I would recommend this excursion to everyone. There's a maximum of 6 guests on her sailboat. She took us over to St. John to snorkel. Before lunch, we snorkeled near shore and saw some beautiful fish and coral. We went back to the boat for a wonderful lunch. Food and drinks were great, the rum punch was amazing. After lunch, Capt. Max pointed us to a grassy area just offshore of a gorgeous beach where she said there should be sea turtles. Sure enough, we saw quite a few sea turtles feeding down in the sea grass. I had the neatest experience. I was snorkeling at the surface above a sea turtle, when all of a sudden he came up for air. He was probably 2 feet away from me on the surface. Of course I did not have my camera, but it was amazing to be so close to a sea turtle. After the second snorkel, we took a leisurely sail back to St. Thomas where our taxi was waiting for us to take us back to the ship. Captain Max is the BEST!
Wednesday - Tortola My sister and I took Speedy's Ferry over to Virgin Gorda to go to the Baths. My husband and brother-in-law booked the ship's dive of the wreck of the Rhone.
The Baths were amazing and I felt like I had a workout going through them. There is a beautiful beach at the other end. It was very easy to do this excursion on our own through Speedy's and very inexpensive.
The guys were very impressed with their dive. They said it was one of the best they had ever done.
Thursday - Sea Day Another day spent by the pool relaxing and having fun.
Friday - Nassau, Bahamas Sometime, Thursday evening, the captain made an announcement that due to bad weather, we would not be going to Great Stirrup Cay. They had made arrangements for us to go to Nassau instead. This was great for us, as we had never been to the Bahamas before. We hired a driver right who gave us a nice tour of the island and stopped several places, including a long stop at Atlantis to see the inside and the aquarium. After the tour we did some shopping and hung out at Senor Frogs.
Saturday - Debarkation Saturday morning, we had a nice leisurely breakfast at Venetian and we took our time getting off the ship. We took a taxi right to the airport which was a nightmare, it was sooo crowded. My sister and brother-in-law did not leave until Sunday and we decided that was the smart thing to do next time we cruise out of Miami.
Restaurants Le Bistro - Food and atmosphere amazing. Order the chocolate fondue for two. Cagney's - probably our favorite restaurant. Everything we ordered was perfect. The food was amazing. It was my sister and brother-in-law's anniversary and the staff brought out a cake and sang "Let me call you Sweetheart". Salsas - food was good, but we're from Texas, so we're extremely picky about our TexMex. Probably my least favorite, extra charge restaurant. Impressions - very good Italian food. Market Cafe - food was always very good, lots of choices. Blue Lagoon - I always have to go here and have the Fish and Chips, wonderful as usual. Venetian and Aqua - both were very nice. Service was very good at all the restaurants.
Final Thoughts Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to see any of the shows, perhaps next time. I did hear that they were very good. The Dawn is a wonderful ship with a wonderful crew. Our room stewards were awesome. The cruise director, John, was outstanding. He always greeted us by name when he saw us, how he remembered our names was beyond me. By far the best cruise director we've ever had. The head chef, Messiah, was also so personable and funny. He always stopped to say hello when he saw us at one of the restaurants. This is a great ship and a great itinerary.