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Norwegian Dawn: New York to Nassau
Day 1: Departure from New York
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Port Canaveral, FL
Day 4: Miami, FL
Day 5: Nassau, Bahamas
Day 6: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
Day 7: At Sea
Day 8: Disembarkation in New York
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Day 2: Monday, At Sea
At SeaDAILY DISPATCH (Noon, Monday, December 8)
LOCATION: 33°49'N, 75°57'W: Off Cape Fear, North Carolina
TEMPERATURE: 51°
PERCENTAGE OF POOL CHAISES OCCUPIED: 0.5%

After a restful -- despite occasionally rocky seas -- night, I awoke at about 6:00 and opened the curtains on my balconied glass wall. Though the sky was perfectly clear, and the sun seemed to be shining warmly, a step onto the balcony disabused me of any delusion that my fairy godmother had turned winter to summer with a wave of her wand as I slept. Forty-two degrees, said the dispassionate "View From the Bridge" channel.

I was happy to learn that all cabins on Norwegian Dawn are equipped with coffee/tea makers. I was less than thrilled to discover that by coffee they meant instant, so getting presentable and making a trip topside became my top priority.

Daily breakfast buffets are served in Deck 12's Garden Cafe, a massive open space with central serving areas on either side. Except for the occasional specialty item (usually a gesture to foreign palates -- spring rolls, English bangers, etc.), the selection is not unusual nor particularly extensive, but the food was tasty, and the buffet included cook-to-order stations for omelets and waffles. But the Garden Cafe had one totally unique innovation: a separate "Kid's Cafe," (see photo above) actually a portion carved out of the main cafe, separated by low, bordering railings. Within those railings was a miniature version of the main cafe, downsized to a kindergartner's proportions. Not only were there the expected kids' tables and chairs, the kind legions of parents have had to painfully endure sitting in through those annual "Meet Your Teacher Nights," but the service area itself was miniaturized, with tiny trays to slide along piped shelving no more than two feet above floor level. Parents were allowed in the area, but not allowed to sit on the children's chairs; most adults seemed thoroughly satisfied to drag grownup chairs from the main cafe.

Next stop: Pearly King's, Norwegian Dawn's English pub-styled sports bar, to try "Morning Coffee Trivia." The choice of Pearly King's was interesting, given the fact that the bar there had yet to open, making it impossible to get coffee with your trivia for "Morning Coffee Trivia," though the Blue Lagoon, the ship's 24-hour food court, was right around the corner. The event was thinly, but enthusiastically, attended, our numbers reduced, perhaps, by competing choices: ribbon rose-making, a 10% off sale in the Galleria (Norwegian Dawn's HUGE onboard department store), and, oh yes, the casino had just opened its doors. I didn't mind; the reduced odds helped me win the grand prize: an NCL inflatable beach ball.

Later, at noon, after doing some work and photography, I decided to give the Sushi Bar a try for lunch. I generally eat lunch aboard only on sea days, and then I try to eat light, so today seemed a perfect time and sushi seemed a good choice of cuisine. I was surprised to find that the sushi bar was only half-full, since the ship's full passenger complement of two-thousand-plus were all aboard (and presumably hungry). Perhaps it was the cover charge that kept the numbers low, though $10 for all-you-can-eat sushi is about as affordable as it gets. And the way they presented it was unique: running around the perimeter of the counter was a tiny little metal plate conveyor belt, sort of like a Lilliputian baggage claim belt, on which the sushi chef placed individual servings of a variety of sushi preparations. If something came along that looked appealing to you, you just snagged it as it went past. Nifty.

After lunch I met with my contact on the ship to get a look at some accommodations more luxurious -- and definitely more spacious -- than mine. I had wanted to see a "Garden Villa," the 5,000 square foot (you read right - 5,000 square feet, with a private garden, no less), on the top of the ship. But if you spend $26,000.00 a week to stay in one of them I guess you value your privacy. I did, however, get to visit one of the four Owner's Suites, which measured a measly 750 square feet, with multiple balconies, rich polished wood paneling, and a separate mini-dining room. The suite was empty because the guests had been unable to make it to New York in time due to the weather; they would be joining us tomorrow, in Port Canaveral.

In the afternoon I went up to Spinnaker to check out Bingo. High tech has hit the Bingo world. They now have optional wireless Bingo terminals that players can use in lieu of paper cards. Each machine keeps track of six cards, and calculates which, if any, are winners. Normally, these machines cost twice the price of a pack of paper tickets (because they cover twice as many "cards") but today they were offered at the same price. I tried one, and though it doesn't have that excitement of watching a card develop, it was nice not having to struggle with punching those recalcitrant little windows open.

After another trivia game in the afternoon (for which I won a bookmark - I wondered if I could combine a beach ball a bookmark, a keychain, luggage tag and a handful of other prizes to trade for one large prize, a free cruise, maybe?), I got ready for formal night. There wasn't a Captain's Cocktail Party per se, but Captain Hoydal was available to pose with guests in the Atrium.

I chose to try one of the ship's traditional dining rooms, Aqua, for dinner. About half of my fellow passengers elected to follow the optional formal dress suggestion. Aqua serves the same menu as the other main restaurants, but its style is more contemporary, a little less formal. The decor is in cool shades of blue and green in keeping with the aquatic theme, colorful glass panels illuminated from behind, show circles of Matisse-like women dancing (or swimming) on a blue and green background not only add to the ambiance, but also reflect another uniqueness of Aqua -- all the workers there, up to and including maitre d's, are women.

The menu offered some interesting choices, like, for example, a cold avocado and watermelon soup, which was unusual, and surprisingly piquant, which I counterbalanced with a totally traditional choice of Beef Wellington, which was excellently prepared.

The evening's offering in the Stardust Theater was the Jean Ann Ryan Company's first production show, "Rave!", an homage to Miami's South Beach club scene, after which I retired preparing for a long day in Port Canaveral tomorrow.
Day 1: Departure from New York red arrow Day 3: Port Canaveral, FL

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