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Home > Virtual Cruises > Norwegian Dawn: New York to Nassau
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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Norwegian Dawn ship review
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Day 8: Sunday, Disembarkation in New York
Disembarkation in New YorkOvernight you could feel Norwegian Dawn's speed. Though the sky got more and more threatening the seas and winds abated, making our high speed passage comfortable. If I were to hazard a guess I would say that Captain Hoydal was probably pouring it on to beat the storm into New York Harbor. Sure enough, when I woke at 6:00 AM we were already cruising past midtown Manhattan, and we were tied up at the dock an hour or so later, though the official itinerary called for docking at 10:00 AM. At about 8:00 I looked across the harbor and discovered my I could only see misty gray where before I could see buildings, warehouses and docks. Ten minutes later the visibility had shrunk to less than a block. Five minutes later we were in the midst of a thick snowfall.

Without knowing what the status of La Guardia airport was, I decided it would be prudent to get on the road before conditions got much worse (already the snowplows were working on the access road in front of the terminal).

On the slow moving cab ride to the airport I had a chance to reflect on my overall assessments and impressions of the cruise and ship.

First of all, Norwegian Dawn is drop dead gorgeous. Her immaculate upkeep, fine and tasteful artwork throughout, and the copious use of wood (both laminates and the real deal), along with the breakup of large spaces into smaller, less institutional rooms, gives the ship a refined, comfortable, uncrowded and elegant feel.

On the downside, the lounges fall a bit short of their intimacy potential. The closest is Gatsby's, where a pianist holds forth at cocktail hour and after dinner. However, the way the room is set up, with the musician on a raised platform, and all the seats spread out throughout the room, creates a distance between the performer and the audience. There is no lounge onboard that resembles, let's say, a piano bar, where guests sit around the piano, make requests, chat back and forth with the musician, etc. In short, NCL has done a great job breaking up large, institutional spaces into smaller, more accessible ones, but could stand to reconfigure the room design to maximize the personal experience in that space.

This shortcoming does not, however, apply to the dining spaces, which, with the exception of the highly conventional Venetian, feel more like upscale restaurants than big ship dining rooms. Add to that the presence of a truly personal, interactive dining experience, with most of the venues having a tableside or cook-to-order-bar option.

However, it must be said that this dining concept, which NCL has dubbed "Freestyle," achieves mixed success. Some passengers bemoaned the dropping of the "traditions" of conventional cruising, as they enjoy being assigned to a table for the duration of a sailing with preselected tablemates, and, most importantly to these cruisers, with the same serving team. Many seasoned cruisers, after a large number of cruises begin to gravitate to the smaller, more intimate ships, where it is easy to establish relationships with fellow passengers very quickly, so it is easy to find convivial tablemates. On a ship with 2,400 guests such connections are more problematical, and the absence of the formatted dining style, which hearkens back to the days of transatlantic steamer crossings, as does the glitz of formal nights, leaves some passengers feeling wistfully that something is missing.

NCL, while by no means an entry level product, still has a large number of guests whose first cruise experience is still fresh in their minds, and that unique complex of attributes -- the formalized dining setup with doting assigned servers, the Captain's cocktail party -- those charming but anachronistic aspects that do not exist in any other type of travel experience, are very near and dear to them.

For others, myself included, the ability to dine at will, to choose my nightly companions, and, when available, my dining venue, are aspects that weigh more heavily in favor of the "Freestyle" concept than the conventional.

One wonders if both styles can be accommodated on a ship of the scope and physical attributes of Norwegian Dawn. After all, what would be the problem designating the Venetian Restaurant as a traditional choice, and make the tables, seatings and servers therein formally assigned. Those who opt for the Freestyle concept would have nine other restaurants to choose from. Since there is no difference between the cuisine of Venetian, Aqua and Impressions, such a distinction of choice wouldn't even force either camp to suffer any difference in menu selections.

One aspect of Norwegian Dawn I haven't discussed yet is the issue of cigarette smoke. For some reason there are areas onboard where smoke lingers heavily. For example, on my deck, when I would walk back to my cabin, there were a half dozen cabins between the midships stairtower and my door where, in passing, the smell of smoke in the hallways was extremely strong, almost as if somehow it was sucked into the ventilation system from inside the cabin and blown back out into the halls. There were also areas of certain lounges where smoke seemed to linger heavily.

Lastly, and mentioned a number of times, the embarkation/disembarkation bottlenecks are excruciating on the ship. Ironically, Norwegian Dawn has, hands down, one of the finest passenger flows on the seas. There is only one public room that has to be approached from a specific deck, and that's The Venetian Restaurant. Excepting that, there are no "you can't get there from here" quandaries onboard. Lines within the ship are infrequent. But, except for the tendering procedures on the private island, anytime you interface between ship and outside world gridlock rules.

In summary, I would say that this is a great choice of ship for the traveler who wants a number of dining options, cares little for the traditional trappings, and is comfortable finding social contacts in a crowd, or satisfied with the company of his/her traveling companion(s).
Day 7: At Sea red arrow  

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