This was our third cruise and our second on DAWN. When we cruised on DAWN last year from NYC through Canada and New England we had a balcony cabin and frankly have gotten spoiled. Balconies are great and we've gotten to really like the wall to wall and floor to ceiling window they provide. Of course having a place to sit and watch the world go by isn't to shabby either.
Sailing out of New York harbor was really special this time around. DAWN has been sailing from New York for eight years but will be returning to Boston in the spring. This was her final departure from New York so passing by the Statue of Liberty was done with much fanfare.
This was an absolutely wonderful cruise for us. In 12 days we stopped in 5 ports which meant we had lots of sea days mixed in. We enjoy the sea days because the pace is much more relaxed. The weather and sea conditions don't get any better. In fact, Roatan Honduras was hit by a hurricane 4 days after we left the area, whew! In addition, passengers were predominantly adults with 46 different nationalities represented. We were told that around 800 of the 2200 passengers were non-US citizens with the largest group being from Germany.
We must be easy to please because we had no complaints about the food, our cabin, the ship, or the service. We did run into a couple who said this was their 17th cruise... their first and last on NCL. When asked why they mentioned the lack of "formal bridge card games" and the "lack of lectures on topics like local wildlife and fauna". Sounded like nitpicking to me but like I said, we're easy to please...
Our first port was Samana in the Dominican Republic. You know that things are "rustic" when the cruise line has no shopping venues to suggest. Word on the ship was to make your way to one of several beaches. We didn't want to spend the day on a beach so we found an excursion titled "Waterfall Hike". This excursion was rated an activity level 3 and said to expect to get dirty. Traveling to/from the trailhead was an eye opener in itself and I managed to capture some images that will remind me of how lucky we are to live here in the USA. At the trailhead, we were encouraged to leave our sneakers behind and wear boots which everyone did. Conditions were HOT and MUGGY and the trail was narrow, steep, rocky, and covered in ankle deep mud. It most definitely was a challenge! We were told to bring swimwear but the waterfall was muddy water so we did not go in for a swim. Some of the others did. We gave the excursion a 5 star rating because we SURVIVED in spite of being the oldest people on the trail.