Sail Date: January 2018
This was our first time with NCL...usually are Princess cruisers...but really liked the Dawn and the crew was so friendly and helpful. We never heard the word "no" except when we brought a bottle of water back on the ship from a ... Read More
This was our first time with NCL...usually are Princess cruisers...but really liked the Dawn and the crew was so friendly and helpful. We never heard the word "no" except when we brought a bottle of water back on the ship from a shore excursion. Our aft cabin was just the right size for two and the balcony was usable except during a few raining moments. Enjoyed the suite only benefits of private breakfast and lunch dining room. We had the unlimited beverage package which was so easy to use. The shore excursions were somewhat limited if you didn't want to visit a ruin or go snorkeling. The Harvest Caye tour of the village was depressing...such a poor area...we did learn a lot about the area, but left us sad. Did enjoy shopping in the jewelry stores. Tropicante Beach Club in Costa Maya was a great place to spend several hours...great staff and food and drinks...very reasonably priced. Felt very safe as staff escorted us to and from the club to our taxi...just to make sure we got to the correct taxi and back to our ship. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We were on the NCL Dawn 1/28-2/7. We had been on the Dawn in 2012. The ship has gone thru a renovation and it looks great. The Venetian dining room looked very dark and gloomy but has been lightened up. However the choice of artwork was ... Read More
We were on the NCL Dawn 1/28-2/7. We had been on the Dawn in 2012. The ship has gone thru a renovation and it looks great. The Venetian dining room looked very dark and gloomy but has been lightened up. However the choice of artwork was questionable as they took copies of classical paintings and purposely distorted them. Don't understand the concept there. The Los Lobos and Mojito bars were very nice additions. The Bamboo specialty restaurant left a lot to be desired. The meal was the poorest on board. The ability to fill a water bottle continues to challenge management. I wish NCL would take a cue from most major airports and provide separate water bottle filling stations. The whole water bottle situation is a major customer irritant. Filled water bottles are not listed on the Prohibited Articles page and there no signs at the embarkation point prohibiting bottles of water but the contents are emptied anyway. Lastly, the embarkation and disembarkation process was an abomination. It took us 70 minutes to get on board and we heard horror stories of 2 1/2 hour waits. It took just as long to get off. One would think that as much revenue as the ships generate for this port they would use their clout to have more customs agents. Finally, Ocho Rios is a dump-don't bother. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
This was our 9th cruise and 5th cruise with Norwegian. We are 56 & 60. Really enjoyed this cruise. The entertainment and staff at Gatsby's bar was great. We ate later (8:00-9:00), so never had any problems getting into the ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise and 5th cruise with Norwegian. We are 56 & 60. Really enjoyed this cruise. The entertainment and staff at Gatsby's bar was great. We ate later (8:00-9:00), so never had any problems getting into the restaurants and the service in the restaurants was very good and the food was good. Ate at 4 specialty restaurants: Cagney's, La Cucina, Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. The service was good at all of them and the food was good. We were the only ones at the 9:00 slot at Teppanyaki. Never long wait getting drinks at bars. Enjoyed Stingray shore excursion and Harvest Caye. The largest problem was boarding and disembarkment at the port of Tampa. We waited 1 hour and 50 minutes to board and 2 hours to disembark. There were only 2 custom agents at disembarkment until 11:00, this delays boarding and disembarkment. The Dawn is a nice size ship and would cruise her again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We cruised on the Dawn out of Tampa in 2014 and had a wonderful time. It was probably one of the 3 best cruises we had been on. This time was not so wonderful. THE GOOD: Updated ship - New carpet and flooring all around, ... Read More
We cruised on the Dawn out of Tampa in 2014 and had a wonderful time. It was probably one of the 3 best cruises we had been on. This time was not so wonderful. THE GOOD: Updated ship - New carpet and flooring all around, re-designed common areas. The reception area looks great, O'Sheehans was a great addition! Service staff - Very friendly and helpful. Pool bar crew is the best! Wilfred made the best mojitos! Specialty dining - Great service and solid food quality. Make your reservations early and don't try to show up in shorts at Le Bistro... Internet - It's a cruise ship so don't expect 25mbps. It worked and was very reliable. We received 500 minutes free but would never pay the rates they ask for on the ship... THE BAD: Main dinning food - NCL had made great improvements over the first seven years we cruised with them. It seems since Oceana bought them the food quality and selection has dropped a bit. Cafe food - Again quality and selection have dropped a bit... Excursion agent - Reminded me of a timeshare salesman! Billing - We had many billing issues and had to visit the reception desk at least every-other-day. Fortunately we were able to get things squared away on the last day before the lines got long. Baggage - One of our brand new suit cases showed up at our stateroom with a missing wheel. When we came off of the ship another wheel was missing!!! I-Concierge app - Constantly failing and having to be re-booted in order for it to work. Text messaging hardly worked. In fact two messages from the first day of the cruise were still trying to send when we left the ship 7 days later!!! Total waste of $20 for two phones. A third phone wouldn't install the app... Water Temp - went from cold to scalding hot without warning! Made showering very difficult. We spoke with many others on the ship who said they were having the same issue. OUR EXPERIENCES: The embarkation process was the worst we experienced with NCL. We sailed out of Tampa. Our previous two times from Tampa were from Terminal 3. This time we embarked from Terminal 2. They lined people up out onto the street and when they started letting us in the also allowed people being dropped off by shuttles and taxis to just walk in rather than make them go to the end of the line. In the terminal it was far too small to handle the number of people trying to check in. Security was not organized and seating was limited. We saw many elderly people standing waiting for nearly an hour to board the ship. These people had already stood outside for an hour or more and honestly should have been sitting! Once on the ship we went to the excursion desk. We have never booked an excursion through the cruise line as their pricing is in some cases just stupidly high. Because we had a $100 credit per port we opted to book on the ship. The process was good and the excursion agent seemed good. We had questions and when she didn't know the answer she got on the phone and got it for us. This was our first cruise that would go to the new NCL private island Harvest Cay. We had heard that there may not be a buffet on the island. We had also heard that the UDP would not work at the bars. This was a bit disturbing since Great Stirrup Cay has both a buffet and many bars to get your drinks using the UDP. So we told the agent we were interested in renting a pool cabana on the island and wanted her to confirm the food and beverage status on the island. She said that there was a buffet and that the UDP worked on the island. Because of this we booked the cabana. We also asked about the cancellation policy of the cabana if the weather was bad. She stated it could be cancelled if the weather was bad. This just reinforced our decision to have the cabana. When we arrived at the island it was pouring rain. We called the excursion desk only to find out they were not open until 6:00PM!!!! How convenient. We asked the reception desk if we could cancel the cabana as we were not going to the island. We were told that we could not cancel the cabana and we would have to pay for it even if we don't use it. Since we were paying for it we decided we would go out in the rain and have some drinks in the cabana to get some use out of it. This is when we found out that there in fact is no buffet and the UDP does not work on Harvest Cay. If you want something on this private island you have to pay for it and the prices are very high!!!! The island itself is very beautiful and NCL did a great job building it. However, we will never book a cruise that goes to Harvest Cay in the future if they are not going to have a buffet and UDP option on the island. It is a very long walk from the ship to the island and not worth the time to go back to the ship for food and drinks. Needless to say we felt duped by the excursion agent as none of the information we were given for any of our excursions was accurate. She seemed to "elaborate" a lot in order to get us to book. It reminded me of a timeshare sales presentation, lol. As mentioned above we had issues with our luggage. This is not the first time we had our luggage damaged by NCL. The first time it was with a hard-shell suit case that was a few years old. Somehow they split the shell down the entirety of one side. When presented to the reception staff they called a manager who looked at it and said they would try to repair it. Needless to say the repairs didn't work so they gave us a $100 obc. We were satisfied... This time my brand new hard-shell suitcase arrived at our stateroom with a wheel broken off (they put it in my suitcase) and another hanging on by one screw (two screws were sheered off). This was the first time I had used this new case that was barely a week old!!! I presented it to the reception staff who said they would send it back for repairs. It came back with the missing wheel back on but the other was still hanging. They told me the "carpenter" would not be able to fix that one. In addition where the broken wheel was fixed they cracked the shell of the case in a line about 4 inches long. I told them it was not acceptable and I wanted something done. They refused and filled out a Irregularity Report and told me to take it up with their corporate office in Miami. At the end of the cruise we left our luggage outside our door and when we picked it up in the terminal my suitcase had a third wheel broken off and it was nowhere to be found. This was just wrong... The cruise director was nice but she was very difficult to understand. She also had difficulty with speaking as she didn't seem to have a strong grasp on the English language yet. Hopefully she can continue to work on this as she was really nice! Overall I'd say she does a good job. The entertainment was good no matter where we were on the ship. The bar staff were fantastic and the food servers were top notch! The hostesses at O'Sheehan's and Cagny's/Moderno were awesome and always remembered us when we were nearby. They were very good to my wife's father which was greatly appreciated! Regardless of the good and bad on the cruise we were with family and friends and we made the best of it every day. We enjoyed our cruise and can't wait to go on another. Only it will be with Royal Caribbean! We do have a cruise booked with NCL in November but we plan to cancel it and book with RCCL. We feel they give more value for your $$$ now. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
The food in Le Bistro was excellent. All others, including The Venetian and the cafe, were average at best. I felt the staff were not as friendly as on other NCL cruises. What I missed most was my early morning coffee, sitting at the stern ... Read More
The food in Le Bistro was excellent. All others, including The Venetian and the cafe, were average at best. I felt the staff were not as friendly as on other NCL cruises. What I missed most was my early morning coffee, sitting at the stern and watching the sea. Unless The Dawn does some extraordinary itinerary, I will not book it again. Overall, even though the ship had been refurbished just a couple years ago, it had a "tired" feel to it. Our cabin steward, while friendly and nice, was not very good at her job. The ports of call are not that interesting. Both Grand Cayman and Belize were disappointing; although our guide to Mango Creek, Irma, was excellent. Kudos to her for making an otherwise boring tour durable. The best tour and guide was the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins. Diana Garcia, our guide was superb! The semi-submarine tour of the coral reef was interesting but Cesar, our guide, was hard to understand at times. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Does Platinum tarnish? It does on NCL. I’ve cruised NCL lots and am Platinum level in the Latitudes award program. I often cruise as a solo cruiser. I’ll start with the great things about NCL Dawn and this cruise. ... Read More
Does Platinum tarnish? It does on NCL. I’ve cruised NCL lots and am Platinum level in the Latitudes award program. I often cruise as a solo cruiser. I’ll start with the great things about NCL Dawn and this cruise. The staff – as always – are unbelievable. They are cheerful, accommodating, helpful, professional and are the best of the best. Also, NCL has a great solo cruiser programs with dedicated solo coordinators (albeit a bit inconsistent in application). Unfortunately, these are the only great things left on NCL. NCL has made many cuts over the past two years. Cuts that what might have been noticeable only to those who cruise NCL a lot are now noticeable to all. And the cuts to loyal cruisers are now having lots of folks talking about choosing a different line. What cuts and does the average cruiser care? Paying for juice if it’s no longer “breakfast time”, bland buffet food with little variety, main dining rooms’ “freestyle” that requires reservations unless one wants to wait up to an hour and a half at peak (normal dinner) times, higher end food items no longer available at specialty restaurants, and high room service fees. Service? The cuts in staffing are noticeably staggering. The folks who work for NCL work long and hard but there are simply not enough of them. Waiting over an hour for a drink at a table? Waiting up to 20 minutes for a drink standing at one of the many bars? Watching restaurant servers move as though they are on fire but still waiting up to 40 minutes for food? Not being seated at empty tables in specialty restaurants for what appears to be a lack of wait staff? And all through it, the staff are pleasant and uncomplaining. However, add to all of this a 20% automatic gratuity for drinks and cabin service charges of $13.95 per person per day and a cruise that looked like a bargain is actually discount house quality at a mid-range price. Do loyalty members suffer from cuts in the Latitudes program? You betcha. Priority embarkation and disembarkation have taken a real hit and this is one perk that means a lot to or higher loyalty folks. Never mind that suites now have preference over everyone - that’s understandable. But no priority at all is unacceptable. I stood for over two hours in line to embark on the Dawn because there was no dedicated Platinum or higher Latitudes embarkation line. I suffered the same fate disembarking. When I asked about this, I was told it was not NCL’s fault and they could nothing about it. A constant theme now with NCL. Chocolate covered strawberries and excursion discounts? Only if you ask. An interesting ploy to cut costs for NCL. Lots of platinum and higher folks just don’t ask anymore. And what about the old fashioned OBC of $50? That’s been long gone folks. If you want OBC, best to buy 100 shares of NCL stock or book through a cruise agent. Hopefully NCL will rethink its current course. Staff advise more and deeper cuts are on the horizon. In the end, perhaps solo cruisers and others will find that NCL is no longer their cruise line of choice even with Platinum or higher loyalty status. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Embarkation went smoothly for the most part, although the weather didn't cooperate for sailaway! The regular cruise director was at a convention, but his sub, Shake-It Shirley, brought a lot of energy and humor to the role, so that was ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly for the most part, although the weather didn't cooperate for sailaway! The regular cruise director was at a convention, but his sub, Shake-It Shirley, brought a lot of energy and humor to the role, so that was fine! The staff was all friendly and helpful, and there were a lot of activities, although they did start to get repetitive after 10 days on the ship, they may want to look into some alternatives for variety, especially since they didn't change the times day after day. The staff did a good job of recognizing when an activity was popular, and adjusting the venue accordingly. but there were a few communication challenges that were frustrating. One was due to my relying on the iConcierge app, which wasn't always up to date, so we ended up missing trivia because it had been relocated to the Bliss Lounge due to high demand. The second time, we missed trivia because it was moved to Gatsby's because of Bingo in Bliss, but no announcement was made in Bliss, so quite a few of us missed the beginning and just happened upon it. The cabin was nice and quiet, although we would inexplicably hear chairs being dragged occasionally, which is odd since we were below other cabins, not a common area. I was pleased to have a pretty good selection of movies available. It would be nice if there were some way of knowing the schedule of what movies and TV shows would be available, as we ended up seeing the end of quite a few movies and never seeing the beginning. Service was excellent all around, as was the entertainment. I was disappointed to learn that Second City was no longer aboard, as I had been looking forward to that, and assumed that since MyNCL indicated that it was part of the entertainment, that it would be (I hadn't checked recently, so possibly that was updated somewhere along the long). The acrobatic acts were fantastic, as was the magician, and the comedians were great. Food in the specialty restaurants was fantastic without exception. We didn't eat in the main dining room often, but what we had was good. The buffet was hit or miss - I'm not clear why scrambled eggs have to be completely bland, or how macaroni and cheese can be delicious one day and absolutely tasteless the next. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We have done cruises with many different cruise lines, but we are long-time NCL passengers, having started with the NCL Norway and experiencing an average of 2 or 3 cruises in recent years. With our "almost Platinum Plus" ... Read More
We have done cruises with many different cruise lines, but we are long-time NCL passengers, having started with the NCL Norway and experiencing an average of 2 or 3 cruises in recent years. With our "almost Platinum Plus" status, we generally know what to expect (and lately, unfortunately what NOT to expect). There is no question that in recent years, NCL like other 'more budget' cruise lines has pared the staff so it is much harder to find excellent service, but fortunately some individual staff members still provide service that stands out. On the Dawn, we found such people in the Aqua dining room, La Cucina, the Casino, and generally among the bar service people. Along with the NCL Dawn experience, our recent experiences on the NCL Jewel and the NCL Spirit, all similar sized ships, have shown us that service is primarily a 'cultural' result of the leadership of the ship or department (The Spirit being horrible, and the Jewel ranking first-rate). The Dawn fits into the middle of this spectrum with some very good departments, and some just horrendous. Our experience with two Specialty restaurants is indicative of this. La Cucina, despite having a rather stark ambiance, truly made up for it with excellent, attentive service and with superb food (a filet Mignon was far more tender/flavorful than Cagney's)! Everything about the experience was perfect. The Management Staff was very visible, but not intrusive. Rather than spending their time stopping at tables with indifferent chitchat designed to make us think he cared, he spent his time assuring that every aspect of the restaurant worked flawlessly. Cagney's, on the other hand, was just the opposite. The waiter literally couldn't be bothered. When asked a routine question about the menu (as he delivered a long-awaited drink), his response was "wait a minute" and he rushed to another duty. This wasn't an exception to his great service, but rather the rule....drinks sat unfilled, no one stopped to ask if they could help, delayed ordering, etc.....except of course, the woman in charge stopped at our table for a perfunctory 'is everything ok here' as she kept moving on. No time to even respond. Now, Cagney's (a restaurant that usually has phenomenal ambiance) is arranged differently on the Dawn and has tables for two along a narrow corridor (about 8' wide total) between the kitchen serving counter and the atrium wall....and we were punished apparently for being only two, hence, on one side, we could hear the music from 6 decks below and on the other we could witness the wait staff 6 feet away communicating with the chefs about their missing side dishes or even orders. Yes, we could even watch our orders sitting under the heat lamps for close to 5 minutes waiting for our waiter!! All of this ability to watch the "inside workings" of the kitchen and staff would be interesting in a diner, but hardly in a Specialty restaurant!! The rest of our trip was more "normal" for NCL... On NCL, we now expect that our cabin might not be cleaned or straightened on our preferred schedule, or the steward might forget some days to leave our requested extra cream or coffee, as these staff members have had their workloads increased many times over. We know that we should more closely check our bill during the cruise (even the front desk couldn't explain a charge this time) as things aren't just as crisp as in the past. Despite the wonderful service and great attitudes in the casino, as expected, we will go home with significantly less money than we brought (never had the pleasure to win one of those BIG jackpots they announce while we're playing)!!! The menus in the dining rooms weren't always to my particular liking, but on the elevator I heard another long time cruiser say he hadn't ever seen as varied a menu on any ship...and he was right as I thought about it! I just don't happen to like veal or lamb and tend toward more "meat loafs and pasta", so I realized that the menus can't cater to every whim (I found PLENTY to eat). The food is good generally, not great, on most cruise ships (some exceptions particularly in specialty restaurants). The pomp and ceremony of presentation, the waiters singing every night and marching into the dining room with flaming treats have become extinct elements of the past. Entertainment is varied and subject again to personal taste. We loved the comedienne but didn't go to the dance programs. Hypnotists, magicians, bingo, etc are not our thing. We wish they'd put more of the entertainers on the TV so we could see the ones we missed as we go to bed. I'd love more "how to" lectures like "How to understand Windows 10" or using other programs, to more history of locations, etc. but I know this is just my preference (and on some cruise lines or ships we can get those). I WAS impressed to see a class in Mandarin Chinese which appeared to be taught by a staff member who spoke the language, so there ARE some of these lectures available. We went on the cruise as much for the warm weather as the ports. While we enjoyed Key West, Bonaire, and Curacao, we really enjoyed the sun and temperatures in the 70's. it surprised me that they didn't put out lounge chairs until 9am on the pool deck, because, we were told, people complained about the noise. I would think that it would be better to put them out earlier, and teach the staff not to drop them or scoot them, as my experience is that they don't make a lot of noise other than that (and the people are there anyway). I wonder if I complained about hearing music at 10 pm in my stateroom would result in discontinuing the entertainment program...... Lastly, I must mention the absolutely worst embarkation process ever experienced was this one in Tampa (disembarkation wasn't much better). It was like it was their first time ever leaving from Tampa, when they do that often.....yes, this was a different than standard departure, but they aren't that much different.....Security, health form, check-in, give credit card, get picture taken, sit until called......over an hour once we were in line, and we were there early (not counting the time until they were ready). Would we go on the Dawn again? We love the smaller ships, so if the itinerary was right we probably would. We'd just know what service to expect. There were many good aspects to the Ship, and more average experiences. The extremely good, and the extremely bad always capture our attention. Yes, we filled out the "good employee" cards, and we also filled out the "Dear Hotel Manager" forms. I wonder if the comments ever make it to top management off the ship...... I might mention that a significant number of passengers had assistance in mobility, from electric carts to wheel chairs to walkers to canes. All seemed to function on the ship well and staff seemed to be helpful as necessary. It's gratifying to know, as one getting older, that NCL facilitates this mobility. Several of the electric carts were on the ship, and they seemed to do particularly well (though waiting an empty elevator appeared to be a challenge sometimes). Based upon this anecdotal observation, I would encourage those with mobility concerns to check out the NCL ships. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
This was our first Norwegian cruise and NOT our last. We already booked 2 more for the next year! Embarkation out of Tampa was a breeze! Easy Uber ride from the airport wasn't too expensive! Once aboard the ship, we waited about 2 hours to ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian cruise and NOT our last. We already booked 2 more for the next year! Embarkation out of Tampa was a breeze! Easy Uber ride from the airport wasn't too expensive! Once aboard the ship, we waited about 2 hours to get to our room. We walked through the ship and discovered all that it had to offer. Though, the ship was small, and we would have liked a few more onboard physical activities. However, the entertainment and cruise staff made up for what the ship was lacking in that area. The entertainment was phenomenal. From the magician to the singer to Elements, we were WOWed nearly every night. The onboard music, specifically Muz'k Nation, was just amazing. Any and every night they were performing, we made sure to watch them! Since we loved this band so much, we did not have the opportunity to watch other singers, however, they were probably just as good. The food... NOT good. Due to our lack of enjoyment at the complimentary dining areas, we had to spend money on the Specialty Dining which was fabulous, but costly without a package. For the first 6 days, we suffered through the Garden Cafe, Aqua Dining Room and Venetian. The steak was rubber-like in Aqua and the service was soo slow in Venetian. I could not even tell you what type of food Garden Cafe had, however, it was nearly the same every night and not pleasing. We found the servers in Aqua to be a mixture of either VERY nice and accommodating, or extremely rude, as if we were bothering them. LOL. The drinks were good, and reasonably priced, even without a drink package. The itinerary for this cruise was phenomenal. I cannot even begin to explain how happy we were with the places and sites we saw. Key West -> Aruba -> Curacao -> Bonaire -> Grand Cayman -> Jamaica (Jamaica, was ehh, but Dunn's River Falls is a MUST!) We would definitely pick this itinerary again and again!!! Overall, Norwegian far exceeded our expectations ( even though we had a to spend a little bit more on food). We have found our new fav cruise line! Read Less
Norwegian Dawn Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.5 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

Find a Norwegian Dawn Cruise