Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by CTJoeCruiser: Southern Caribbean Adventures on the NCL Dawn
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Southern Caribbean Adventures on the NCL Dawn
Our 3rd cruise with NCL (Dream, Sun, Dawn), and 4th overall ... this was a great itinerary and overall trip. Good mix of passengers on this trip ... families (some with little ones, some with teens), younger couples (us), middle-aged couples, and many experienced cruises as well.
Please see below for commentary on areas throughout the ship!
Embarkation / Disembarkation (A): We arrived at the ship around noon, and were on the boat eating lunch by about 12:30 (ideal). We chose to get off the boat a bit later (10am), and were through customs by about 10:45 ... pretty nice process!
Cabin (B+): In our 4 cruises, we have experienced the Inside, Outside, & Balcony staterooms. Being able to get out in the fresh air (or let it in to your cabin) makes the Balcony worth it for us. Great space, larger shower space on the Dawn made this a good place to stay.
Food (A): In our 9 nights, we ate at the Venetian Main Dining Room (A), the Aqua Main Dining Room More (B-), Impressions Italian (B), Salsas Tex-Mex (A-), Bamboo Asian (A), and the Garden Cafe Buffet (B+ ... Breakfast & Lunch Only). I thought that the main dining room food was much improved over our past NCL trips, and I would definitely recommend Venetian many times over Aqua. The Garden Cafe had a great assortment of choice for both breakfast (including waffle and omelet bars), and lunch. The setup and size of the buffet was adequate to accommodate the crowds of anytime eaters. We enjoyed the food and service of the 3 specialty restaurants that we visited, and would return to them all in the future!
Entertainment (B): Not being much for musicals, etc., I focused my attention on going to see the Comedian Dave Heenan, and several other niche shows (Patty & Jose, The Second City, Adult Karaoke). The entertainment company on the boat was great as well (just not as much my cup of tea). There is always lots going on ... a little something for everyone! Props to Caribbean Wave out by the pool ... great sounds to relax to.
Fitness Center (A): Great space that was never crowded ... ample amounts of treadmills and ellipticals for use, as well as machines and some free-weights. Good luck trying to run on the treadmill at full speed ahead ... run at your own risk!
Sports Court (D): I walked up to see it, and was not impressed. Kind of hidden in the back of the boat. I would have liked to play some b-ball or v-ball, but the space just didn't call my name.
Bars (A): We spent a good deal of time at the Pearly Kings Pub, and I would recommend this a great place for a pint, or to watch a game, or participate in karaoke. Topsiders at the pool ... can't beat the location! Take advantage of the 6 for 5 beer "helmets" ... one of a few great drink values onboard. Star Bar (home of the 2-for-1 martinis from 8-10pm) ... take advantage of this deal if you can ... take 'em with you to the show, or relax and enjoy the piano. Overall, how can you score bars low ... it's impossible.
Overall (A): Great itinerary, loved the ship, food, service, and stateroom. Would definitely recommend this trip to those thinking about taking a cruise. Only complaint with NCL ... they are pretty aggressive in trying to offer bar service, pretty much wherever you go (especially by the pool or at the shows). Just tell them no thanks, and enjoy the sun (or show)! Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Dawn Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony Deck Eight 9178
Balcony - Aft - 9178 Spacious Shower Space an Improvement over other NCL ships Common area as expected ... bed fills most of floor space Balcony was perfect ... great space and chairs for relaxation
Port and Shore Excursions
We started our day with a tour of the Mount Gay rum factory (just a couple minutes from the pier - $7 per person). This was pleasant, educational, and included a tasting at the end of the Eclipse and Old varieties (a bit more difficult than sipping wine!). "Boat" drinks were also available for sale at the bar for $5 each, and there was a large gift shop on site.
Our 2nd stop was the Acra beach (again, bypassing the BoatYard). Chairs and Umbrellas were available for rent for $5 each ($15 for the set-up), and there was a "Drink Court" (small group of little "bars") and a restaurant with an adequate menu, on this beach. It was quiet, un-crowded, and the waves and water were perfect (just make sure you hold onto your sunglasses when you go in the water!)
Back towards the ship, we had a stop at the Coconuts bar for a drink ... nice place to end the day!
Value for the dollar was the theme here. We basically saw the entire outside of the island on our St. Kitts day, including the Batik Store, the Old Fortress, and ended our day with a stop at the Cockleshell Beach, which featured a restaurant, and a large pig, but by no means a great beach.
Overall, for $41 per person, this day tour/trip is definitely worth it. A bit disappointed with the beach, but maybe we should have explored down the beach a bit, or maybe we got a bad day!?
A+ to Rose & Jim for their tour efforts! Plenty of shops (and a big central bar) near the boat for your shoppers. We picked up a Black Diamond piece in one of the shops after much negotiation (hope we got a good price)!
The boat trip over & back was great, and the crew was friendly & helpful with a bit of local area info and sights.
JVD beach, site of the famous Soggy Dollar Bar and it great assortment of mixed drinks, was incredible ... definitely living up to its billing as once of the nicest beaches anywhere.
Casual atmosphere, soft sand, perfect water, and plenty of locals (& vacationers) stopping by on their fancy (and not so fancy) boats for a stop at JVD.
Negatives couldn't overcome AL...
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