The Norwegian Dawn has always been our sentimental favorite ship since she introduced us to NCL and we have been coming back ever since. On this, our 8th cruise on the Dawn, she managed to exceed our expectations.
EMBARKATION: We arrived at the terminal around 11:30AM and were immediately greeted by the first of many familiar faces, Concierge Anoop Bhann fro India, who had taken good care of us on previous cruises. He quickly brought us on board for a delightful lunch and it was wonderful to be back in familiar surroundings again. We were welcomed to our cabin by Attendants Edwin and Satish who provided us with excellent service throughout the cruise and promptly attended our every need. Upon studying the first Freestyle Daily, we were delighted to learn that many of the performers we had enjoyed on previous NCL cruises would be on the Dawn this week. We had a very casual dinner at the Garden Cafe buffet to avoid the usual first night crowds and confusion in the main restaurants.
SEA DAY: The second day of our cruise was the only sea day. NCL had scheduled a Meet & Greet for our Cruisecritic roll call for 10:30AM in the Star Bar that was well attended and put a face on those who have been exchanging views for months. The Captain, Hotel Director Brian Walters, Cruise Director Matt Baker and their staff greeted us warmly and answered our questions. We were blessed with sunny skies and smooth sailing for our only sea day.
LOUNGE PERFORMERS: This is where this cruise rose to new heights. On previous NCL cruises, we have always enjoyed the piano artistry of Ariel Jacobe, Fabrizio Caligaris and Vladimir Krevian on different ships. We were delighted to find that all three of them would be on this cruise. Upon seeing us the first night in Gatsby's, Ariel welcomed us with his warm rendition of "our song" Love Letters, which he remembered from previous cruises. Ariel did trubutes to Nat King cole and Frank Sinatra during the week which were very popular. Fabrizio from Italy, also caused us to spend many hours in Gatsby's especially enjoying his Italian melodies. Vladimir was at the grand piano in the elegant Venetian dining room and we always reserved a table near his piano when we had dinner there. It was a joy to listen to these three keyboard virtuosos thoughout the week. By ar the most popular entertainers on board the Dawn were vocalist Patti and guitarist Jose. They packed them in wherever they performed. There were people in the Atrium for their Country and Western night that we saw for the Super Bowl. Their tribute to Neil Diamond in the Spinnaker Lounge drew such an overflow crowd, they had to repeat it the next night. Their American Grafitti finale on the final night put the crown on their week's performances. Fire and Ice in Dazzles did tributes to Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Next Stage staged a popular country line dance session in Dazzles. Big Band was also featured in the Spinnaker Lounge with another familiar face, talented trumpeteer Larry Lockwood and the Dawn show band with vocalist/saxaphonist Angie Ortega. The most difficult task we had on this cruise was deciding which of these outstanding performers to see at any given time. A surplus of riches that made this cruise one of our best ever.
DINING:We especially enjoyed dining in LeBistro, Cagney's, Impressions of Italy and the Venetian. We received excellent service from all especially Cherry from the Philippines in LeBistro, Alina from Romania in Cagney's and Lawry from Jamaica in the Venetian. Dining in LeBistro and Impressions was enhanced because we were able to hear the elegant paino of Fabrizio in neighboring Gatsby's and Vladimir in the Venetian dining room. There were always many choices in the Garden Cafe and the Chicken Wings and blueberry cheesecake were an attraction in the 24 hour Blue Lagoon. Among our favorites during the week were the bouillabaise soup,tenderloin of beef and duck in LeBistro, the Fruit de Mar fettucini in Impressions and the banana-cream pie in Cagneys. We found the food in almost venues to be very good.
FITNESS CENTER: I swim every day at home and the Oasis pool was too cold most of the week so I availed myself of the spa pool package which included sauna, steam room, two jacuzzis as well as the heated lap pool where I swam at least twice a day. My wife really likes aerobics classes but she was disappointed in the no-fee classes. The instructors seemed more interested in selling products, fee classes and personal training sessions. She said the aerobics instructors were much better when they were hired by NCL rather than the current concessionaires.
PRODUCTION SHOWS: The talented Jean Ryan productions Band on the Run and Bollywood were well received by new Dawn cruisers but these shows have been on the Dawn for six years now and are overdue for replacement for the many repeat cruisers. Comic Dave Heenan was another familiar face from previous cruises and always good for a laugh.
PASSENGER PARTICIPATION: We always enjoy the Trivia contests and attended the 2:30 session almost daily. However, we had to skip the 5:30 progressive trivia because it always conflicted with dinner. We were very fortunated in the two Name That Tune competitions in the Star Bar. With Vladimir at the piano, I managed to win with Betty from New Jersey. With Fabrizio at the keyboard I was lucky to win with Elaine from Staten Island. Good fun. My wife would have appreciated some on-line dancing during the day especially on the sea day.
SUMMARY- The best cruise ever on our favorite ship. We look forward to sailing the Dawn again but next year she will be sailing out of Boston instead of New York where this Statue Of Liberty festooned ship truly belongs.