Embarkation: Well over two hours from getting to the pier to getting on board. This long wait was due to a Coast Guard inspection as the Dawn had just repositioned from NYC to Miami. No point fussing so we just dealt with it.
Ship: Showing its age but clean. Enjoyed the atmosphere.
Cabin: 11598, Cat. AF, Mini-Suite. Pretty much a glorified balcony on any other ship. My DW "has to have a bathtub". I didn't think the extra dineros were worth it but.... if it made her happy then!
Dining: As we did not eat at any of the speciality restaurants, the menu, although good, became sometime repetitive. We much preferred the Venetian.
Spa Package: Well worth the money for us as we aren't heavy drinkers. Never very crowded, quiet and relaxing.
Shore Excursions: The process of getting off the ship at each one of the ports was long, chaotic and cumbersome. On every other NCL sailing that we've been on they did a much better job. All ports, (Samana, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados and St. Kitts) were beautiful although there are other ports in the Dominican Republic other than Samana that we enjoy better. We did not participate in NCL sponsored shore excursions but hired are own tour operators or drivers at each island.
Service: The service that we were given was outstanding. Every staff member that we came in contact with was extremely polite and friendly. We participated in NCL's S.T.Y.L.E. project and recognized well over a dozen staffers that "went above and beyond". There was one negative interaction with a member of their management but this did not change our outlook on the rest of the staff. Our cabin stewards, restaurant hostesses and wait staff, and even Antonio, the omelet chef, were great.
Entertainment: Pretty much typical cruise stuff. Band on the Run and Bollywood were entertaining. We did see the magic show and it was OK.
Trip highlights: Meeting some very wonderful folks from all parts of the world, especially making new friends with folks from Canada and Virginia Beach. Spending quiet time, especially in the early mornings, on the balcony watching the ship as it nears port.
We consider ourselves experienced cruisers and truly have never been on a "bad" cruise. We believe that just some are better than others. Would we recommend the ship, probably.