We Sailed on the Norwegian Dawn from 1/4/12 through 1/15/12.
This was my first and will be my last cruise with Norwegian. I normally don't like to condemn an entire line for one cruise, but the policies, and standard operating procedure of this line was borderline obscene.
We traveled with a group of 6 people who have all been on multiple cruises before. All I can say is that we felt deceived from the moment I stepped on this ship. The allure and draw of a cruise ship is that the majority of your trip is included in the price of the cruise. Usually with the exception of your adult beverages, and other select luxuries. This was not the case with this cruise line. Almost every attribute that this cruise ship had to offer, had a nominal fee attached to it. These same attributes are complimentary on most competitor cruises. While the fee's were reasonable, It was upsetting to see any fee at all. This set an ominous precedent that was all too obvious and re-occurring throughout our trip.
We booked a Caribbean cruise because we enjoy having a drink outside in the warm weather and watching the water. When we found out the first day that the highest outside bar closes for the day at 5:30pm and last outside bar closes at 8pm the only word that comes to mind is "cheated" out of our money. It was painfully obvious that we were being steered to the lower deck bars where the cost of the same drink was 2 dollars more money.
The food quality was very poor, and the variety of the food was below average. Any meal worth having was only found in your "Specialty" restaurants, which of course, had the nominal fee of $25 per person per visit. The part of it that seemed almost criminal is that 50% of the menu was the same as those in the regular dining room. We couldn't even stay in our room and eat because, of course, you have a nominal fee for room service as well. That is unheard of in the cruising world, and NCL should be ashamed of themselves. I felt embarrassed for the wait staff in the Venetian dining room. You could cut the language barrier tension with a knife. It was very clear that they are trying to steer passengers to one of their 6 specialty restaurants by providing sub-par food and service. (i.e. the only place to get a shrimp cocktail is in the steak house on deck 13, sushi is only in a pay by the piece specialty restaurant, etc...) Needless to say these restaurants were vacant the majority of the time.
Our group had food allergies that were disclosed to NCL in our booking package 4 months in advance, and it took at least 15-20 minutes each day to explain our situation over and over to our waiters. The first day it took us asking 6 different employees to speak to the maitre D and then finally getting up and walking out of the restaurant to get his attention. Even after our conversation with him, nothing changed. The rigid and complex policies and procedures this company employs cripples the employee's morale, and their ability to assist passengers. The number of times you need to ask for simple items or requests only frustrates passengers as they wait for an answer for the next highest employee.
The frequency and consistency of these same opinions of all the passengers we spoke to was astounding.
The only bright side about this entire trip was a piano player in Gatsby's lounge, named Greg Schlotthauer.(You can type his name on YouTube) This man played to a standing room only crowd. So much to the point that they had to take chairs from the precious "Specialty" restaurants after they closed so that people could sit down and drink and enjoy listening to him. This ships management specifically his direct manager Margie, treated him like absolute garbage, and it was evident that she didn't like being upstaged by her lower staff. She had 5 people in her attendance at any given time. Greg was recommended not to be re-hired by Margie. Apparently she doesn't like people who bring in money for the ship. because I would book a cruise just to hear him, and i am not alone in that opinion.
The only time I saw the so called cruise director Johnny "Cash" Sanchez, I wanted to complement him on finding Greg, but he couldn't be bothered to give me the time of day. He brushed me aside, as it was apparent that hanging out with his crew member buddies was more important. He was a virtual ghost the entire trip. If you have him as a director, you have my sincere apologies and sympathy.
As I stated above. This was my first and last cruise with Norwegian.
Also, "Washy, Washy" gets very old very quickly.Those who have sailed Norwegian know what i mean by that.
Don't be fooled by the low entry price of the cruise, they will soak you for more than you think.