This was our first trip on NCL. All former and future cruises will be on Royal Caribbean. Getting on board and checking in went smoothly. The lunch and staterooms were running extremely behind due to what we were told was a check from health inspectors. That set the tone for much of the week.
The first disappointment on the Dawn was the amount of children on board during our cruise. I almost thought for a moment I was in Disney instead of being on a cruise ship. Granted, it was late in the summer and going towards the beginning of school, but I never knew so many people brought their children on cruises and was extremely disappointed in the lack of supervision going on. There were nights when we would be up late enjoying the Spinnaker Lounge and the events (i.e. The Quest) that were specifically for adults and there were children in attendance.
The second disappointment following a cruise on Royal Caribbean was the dining. I was bored of the food (and actually was sick a large part of the cruise that I can only attribute to the food not agreeing with me) by the third day on board. The buffet had quite a few choices, but when you pay for a cruise the food is just as important as the rest of the vacation. We ate in both dining rooms and with the "Freestyle" dining, there was a lack of attention given to us at dinner. One night when I was not feeling well I asked to have my dinner brought to my stateroom and it took over 45 minutes for it to come down through room service. I missed the groupings and meeting a variety of people that came along with the scheduled dining on Royal Caribbean. It was myself and my mother, and I love her dearly, but I eat with her every night at home. The scheduled dining with other people really allows you to immediately make connections to other people on the ship.
One of our shore excursions was cancelled due to low enrollment.
Also, the guest relations desk was extremely rude and unresponsive. One night there was banging outside our stateroom until after 2 am and I had to go out on deck myself, found a crew member and at that point after calling the desk three times to address the issue demanded that it needed to be fixed. They were also very unfriendly when I received my bill to review and did not understand some charges. They basically told me that was how it is and they would not do anything about it.
The ship was slightly difficult to navigate. It took us the first three days and asking directions to find both dining rooms. Also, it seemed as though there were some things on the ship that were not up to date or in the best condition. The other surprise for me was the single pool. Seeing as there were probably 900 children on board, it was not easy to enjoy the pool as adults. It was only free to adults only very early in the morning and around dinner time in the evening. One of the days at sea someone was sick in the pool and therefore it left everyone without a pool for almost a full day while at sea. There were also quite a few extremely rude people on board, and being a very friendly and social person, I find it difficult to be rude to people you have to share a ship with for a week!
The one positive of the cruise was the cruise staff and the events on board. The cruise staff were phenomenal and the shows, comedians, etc. were wonderful as well.
In the future I will not use NCL. I was not satisfied after cruising Royal Caribbean. The food, the ships and the attention to detail is much better on Royal Caribbean. It is worth the extra few hundred dollars to get the finer details that Royal Caribbean provides. However, if I could take the cruise staff with me, I definitely would.