The Norwegian Dawn-April 18, 2009
My journey-Headed to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 7:30 AM as it is approximately an hour from my home. Found a good parking spot in the long term parking and hopped on the shuttle to the airport terminal. Had preprinted my boarding pass and had my carryon suitcase so no need to stop, just go through security. Met a couple that I had been "talking" to on our roll call at the airport who also lived in the Charlotte area. Had a lovely chat with them while we waited for boarding. Was able to redeem my husbands FF miles for my trip down and was elevated to his Chairman's preferred status with a seat in first class. I was seated next to a lovely young lady who was about to board Carnival Liberty on her first cruise. She was meeting her sister in Miami and I was meeting my husband there as he was returning from a business trip. We all waited together as everyone had luggage to claim. The five of us found a shuttle outside of the airport ($10. each) and rode to the cruise line terminals.
Miami arrival was on time and boarding the beautiful Dawn was a snap. It was almost one o'clock when we arrived. We carried our luggage to our cabin and went to find two other couples that we were sailing with. They were in Venetian Restaurant having lunch. We went on to the Blue Lagoon as they were eating their meals. Went back to the room to unpack and then to the mandatory drill in the Stardust Theater. It was up to one of our friend's cabin for sailaway and to catch up as we hadn't seen each other in several months. Then we were off to the spa as all six of us signed up for the couples weekly spa pass. Time for us to relax! Dinner was in the buffet and then we had a stroll around deck seven where we ran into Hugo (hotel director) and Alain (food and beverage manager). The Welcome Aboard Variety Showtime featuring comedian Scott Wyler was at 9:30 PM. My poor husband had been traveling internationally and had be up for over 24 hours so we went back to the cabin early. Seas were a bit rough overnight.
Sunday, April 19th
Sunday was our sea day as well as our scheduled Meet and Greet. Cruizinwithkids arranged our event and I believe we had about 32 folks attending as well as nine members of the Dawn's staff. It was nice to put faces with the names we became familiar with on our roll call. The Captain, Paul von Knorring and Hugo Vanosmael both told us if we had any questions or problems to notify them at once. Coffee, tea and pastries were served in the Star Bar. Some of us talked for over an hour. We had dinner at the Aqua Restaurant and then saw the show "Band on the Run" which was my favorite entertainment the entire cruise. The Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers do a fantastic job.
Monday, April 20th
The ship was tendering at Samana. Our friends had scheduled an NCL excursion so that they could snorkel. We chose to spend part of the day at the spa as we had just been to Samana in February on our NCL Jewel cruise and had went to Playa Rincon. We were the only people in Cagney's for lunch, guess most were off the ship. I had a nice reuben sandwich with a kosher pickle. Dinner that evening was in the Venetian Restaurant. It was lobster night and we were not disappointed. We did not attend the Gleason Magic show on Monday night, just visited with our friends.
Tuesday, April 21st
Tuesday was the highlight of our cruise as the Dawn was docked at St. Thomas. I had never been there before so I was looking forward to a new adventure. We traveled on a Sunny Liston tour with our new Charlotte friends. He met us at the port and we traveled into town for a bit of a shopping spree. Lots of great stores to visit and we didn't even make a dent in them. Then the tour went on to travel up to the top of the mountain. They were serving some mean looking banana drinks! After touring around the island it was off to the beach for some fun and sun. Sunny (Liston Bradshaw) was a fun loving guy and had us all singing to his native music all the way back to the ship. We had dinner at Bamboo. My girlfriend asked our waiter what he recommended and he brought out two additional dishes to add to what we had already ordered......spareribs are wonderful, fried wontons yummy too. I had sweet and sour pork and fried rice. We were too full from this meal to even think about dessert.
Wednesday, April 22nd
Our port of call was Tortola of the British Virgin Islands. We walked around town a bit and came back early to enjoy more of the spa. Tortola was on our Jewel cruise in February and we went to Virgin Gorda to the Baths. Our dinner this evening was in the Aqua Restaurant and we were dining with Hugo and six other cruisemates. What an interesting evening. I dined on prime rib which was cooked to perfection. Lots of wine to go around and it was another evening that I was full.......but that didn't stop us from going to the Chocolate Buffet at 10 PM. I limited myself to a wonderful chocolate brownie type cake with chocolate icing and vanilla swirls on the top. Second City was performing that evening but we did not get to the theater. Did you know that the Dawn is the only ship in NCL's fleet that offers dinner with the ships officers? You sign up for a drawing. My friends ate at the Captain's table. Alain stopped by after his dinner to be certain we were enjoying ourselves.
Thursday, April 23rd
Thursday was our second sea day of our journey. We spent time by the outdoor pool reading and getting a bit of sun and after lunch returned to the spa. I especially enjoyed the lap pool. Dinner was at Cagney's. The smaller filet was so tender that I could have cut it with my fork. We were running a little late as we all wanted to get to the Stardust to see "Bollywood", so we came back to Cagney's after the show for dessert. I had the best dessert on the ship.....the chocolate molten cake.
Friday, April 24th
Great Stirrup Cay was on our radar for Friday. We had not been there for more than a year and I could see that improvements have been made since our last visit. A wonderful BBQ was cooked and served on the island by the NCL staff. We hiked to the lighthouse and beyond and saw building materials with NCL on them indicating that more is to come on their private island. Had our last meal of this cruise at LeBistro with our friends. I had salmon, others had the rack of lamb. Instead of going to the Fairwell Variety Show we all headed to the casino. Each of the three couples had all purchased NCL's Cruise Rewards and had a little money to spend from the on board credit given for the purchase. One of my friends came out ahead!
Sadly, it was time to think about returning home. Our room steward, K. Stinpen, did an excellent job of keeping our room clean. Anshuman Sumbli, our concierge always magically appeared where ever we were dining at to ask how our day had been. Marcia Giliomee in the spa does a wonderful job with massage. Michaela in Cagney's always had a smile as did Franky and his partner, who's name escapes me right now. Hugo and Alain have an excellent teams and it showed throughout the ship.
Saturday, April 25th
We had our last breakfast, yummy steak and eggs and went back to our cabin to pack. Our flight wasn't until 2:50, so there was no hurry to get off the ship. Our carry on luggage did not have to be put out the night before. We called Anshuman and he escorted us off the ship. There was a back up at immigration and customs, it seems like there were not enough people to handle all of the lines. It took us longer than usual to get off, but, since we were not in a hurry and did not have luggage to pick up, no problem.
Once again we hopped on a shuttle to the airport and was dropped at US Airways door. We were able to get on an earlier flight and arrived home a couple hours earlier than expected. There were some very excited animals waiting for us at the door !
We have a Bermuda cruise scheduled on the Dawn for October 4th cruising again with our group of friends. I also will be on a Celebrity cruise in July to Alaska traveling with a girlfriend who won the cruise! Our Gem cruise in November to the Med has made me want to schedule another European cruise. You cannot beat the value of a cruise vacation!!!!!!!