We have cruised many times with NCL, but this was our first time on the Dawn. Embarkation in Miami was better than expected; it took us 25 minutes to get through the security check and then another 20 minutes to check in and get on board. We had our first lunch in the Venetian, one of the main restaurants, and it was very relaxed and uncrowded. We dined there several more times, mainly for dinner, but also a couple of times for lunch. The food was very good and the menu selection varied. However, if we had eaten in the main restaurants every night, we would probably have had to repeat meals as the selection was not varied enough for an 11 day cruise. We did eat in some of the specialty restaurants and generally found the extra cost to be worthwhile. Le Bistro (French style) was as classy as usual, with excellent food and very attentive service. Teppanyaki was outstanding; it was worth the money just for the entertainment provided by the chef. Moderno (Brazilian style) is new to NCL and we really enjoyed it, and will visit again on other NCL ships.
After all the food you have to exercise, and our routine is to use the exercise machines before breakfast. We find this to be the least crowded time and the selection of machines is good. On the Dawn the machines all worked but seemed to be near the end of their useful life.
After a couple of days we felt our cabin was not being serviced properly so we contacted Guest Services. The matter was addressed immediately and the service level for the rest of the cruise was very good.
The entertainment provided on board was very good, with excellent bands, singers, and dancers. The Cruise Director's staff were all great and fun to be with. We got to know several of them very well.
Finally, disembarkation was the most frustrating part of the cruise. We decided to use the Easy Walk Off option where you can leave 1 hour before other passengers, but you have to carry your own luggage. The directions from the crew were confusing and there were VERY long lines to get off. Be warned if you use this option on an NCL cruise.