Thanksgiving Anniversary Blast!: Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by hyker1

Norwegian Dawn 5
Member Since 2009

Overall Member Rating

Thanksgiving Anniversary Blast!

Sail Date: November 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa
To honor my In-Laws, my husband and I splurged and gave them a 50th Anniversary Cruise... booking us all in Suites. They had a Family Suite which was recently added to the fore of the boat. It was very nice, with floor to ceiling windows. The bathroom in particular was long and spacious with a separate bath/shower. They had plenty of room, and even though my sister-in-law roomed with them, there was space to spare.

My husband and I had an aft Penthouse, which we've had before. Both of these Penthouses have butler/concierge service, which truly makes a cruise memorable. We also had the privilege of dining at Cagney's (a specialty restaurant) for both lunch/dinner. We sailed on the Pearl this past summer, and I in particular had been very disappointed in the food. However, the Dawn's cuisine was MUCH better, I thought. I'm rather picky when it comes to seafood. There was only one meal I didn't like, and that happened to be at lunch at Cagney's. The Venetian main More dining room had delicious fish and shrimp. Two dishes stood out: the Thai chicken and shrimp (absolutely awesome!) and the Norwegian specialty salmon, which is served as an option every night. I got it two nights, it was so excellent! Both times I loved it. We also dined at the Moderno Churriscarria, and it was quite good. Copious amounts of food!

The ship staff was very friendly, I thought. This is our 6th sailing with NCL, and even though this is an older ship, it was spic-n-span and the reviews I've read about the crew seeming "tired" or "weary" didn't necessarily apply. Most of the people we spoke to on board were very positive and good-natured regarding their staff positions. Most seemed to enjoy what they did, despite working such long stints before time-off. I found that impressive.

The itinerary was quite good. This was my 2nd cruise to the W. Caribbean, and also my second time to Roatan & Belize. This will be my last visit to Roatan. The poor population of Honduras is so terribly impoverished that there were armed guards in Coxen Hole to prevent mishap. When I say armed guards, I mean they were EVERYWHERE, and they were carrying automatic rifles, shotguns, revolvers, you name it!!!!!!! This was the very first stop on our trip, and as an experienced traveler, I can tell you, I did NOT feel safe. I KNOW my poor in-laws were nervous! My prediction is that NCL won't be continuing their port service to Roatan, as such a daunting presence of armed guards isn't something tourists will embrace. Nor will anyone wish to stroll through town surrounded by hoards of begging children or natives hawking their wares. I hadn't been so heckled since I visited Egypt!

As suite passengers, we had tender privileges, so didn't have any issues with waiting in lines for a ride back to the ship when we needed one. NCL is VERY good about seeing that their suite passengers get first-class service. However, I felt bad for the people waiting in the LONG lines in both Belize, then especially in Cozumel. Apparently, NCL boats in Cozumel rotate docking privileges from week to week, and we had the off week during our cruise. I heard nightmare tales of people waiting for over two hours in line to get back to the boat! That really is VERY poor service.

One night, we had a cake served to my In-laws in the Main Dining Rm. It was very nice, and the staff sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to them in honor of their Anniversary. They thoroughly enjoyed their "first cruise" experience and My husband and I love Bingo, and during each game, we found the Dawn to have especially generous pay-outs. I wound up winning the last game on the boat, which had a payout of over $2000! I split it with another gentleman who won the same time I did, so we both pocketed over $1000 cash!

I would definitely continue sailing with NCL, especially in Aft guestrooms. Our room steward, David was very good. He had a real gift with towel art. Our butler (Lazi) was very gracious, and our concierge (Virginia) was TOPS! With a larger party of five in two suites, she was so helpful. She even got my sister-in-law and I scheduled for an extra shore-excursion.

We truly enjoyed our Thanksgiving Anniversary cruise! Less

Published 12/04/12
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: SF9736 Aft-Facing Penthouse with Large Balcony

Aft-Penthouse: Plenty of storage space, balcony not quite as big as some other NCL Aft Penthouses. Bed was WONDERFUL!!! NCL always has awesome beds! Nice flat-screen TV, excellent room service and butler/concierge/room-steward. Service was tops! Didn't have a hand-held phone for use on-board. After having a suite on the Pearl, that was a disappointment, especially travelling with a large family party. Biggest negative: inadequate lighting in the bathroom. For a Penthouse, I found that disappointing. Otherwise, we were overall satisfied! Even given an extra bottle of wine... my favorite!

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Port and Shore Excursions

This was my 2nd time in Belize and it's still my favorite! We did the Lamanai River Cruise for the 2nd time. It was just as fabulous this time as it was before! You are tendered ashore and then go to a waiting bus. Once aboard, you travel 75 miles north into mainland Central America to the New River. There, you get on a riverboat with two 200 horsepower engines that haul ASS! For 25 miles, you jet through some narrow canals loaded with indigenous wildlife: black-necked stilts, shovel-billed herons, tiger-herons, crocodiles, you name it. You are truly in a hardwood jungle and I guarantee you'll see some crazy stuff! The plant life alone is phenomenal. Once the river opens up wide (I swear, you'll feel like you're on the Discovery Channel!!!), there's a Mayan pyramid rising over the canopy, and you arrive at Lamanai Archaeological Park. As you walk through the jungle paths, you can photograph Howler Monkies swinging through the trees screaming. And don't step on the lines of Army Ants parading over the trail! No lie! We took photos of some! You can climb up the Temples, but take care. They're steep and there's no medical help for 100 miles or more. Keep your children CLOSE and take bug dope. Your will seriously get a taste of the jungle and what it's like. It's fantastic! It's also the longest Belize shore-excursion. I HIGHLY recommend this one. You also get a traditional meal served at the boat dock.


I really liked Costa Maya. There's really not much there, but I found it to be a friendly place with very beautiful water and a lovely beach club. We went on a power-boat/snorkel combo. They bused us to a very nice, new Beach Club where we were immediately fitted with equipment. You get to keep your snorkel, which makes for a fun souvenir. They also had an "open bar" policy, meaning unlimited drinks... whatever you wanted. Food was extra, and the nachos were only mid-grade. Not worth the $8 we were charged. I won't mention how many Pina Coladas I had, but let's just say I got my money's worth and didn't need any on board the ship! The power-boat ride was really fun! It's a fifteen to twenty minute jaunt to the little floating dock they snorkle from and they cowboy in a zig-zag pattern so everyone gets a fun ride. My husband loved it, and I laughed the whole way. Totally awesome! Once at the floating dock, we brought the boats up and started the snorkel. Not the best snorkel I've ever done as far as seeing sea life, but there were some really lovely conchs and sand-dollars. I highly recommend this shore excursion. Someone else on cruise critic mentioned that bugs were bad on this trip. Be sure to take bug dope for the beach. There are some awful flies there. My bites itched for a week and I had huge welts. They also sell some nice crafts and jewelry at the Beach Club. Mexico's a great place to buy silver. I purchased a lovely pendant and chain for a very reasonable price. You can bargain with them... it's expected.


I did this excursion with my sister-in-law. I always love Cozumel, but this particular location had very poor sea-life. The reef was badly damaged and the sea-life disappointing. I did get to see a lobster, but there was very little living coral. Most was dead. :( Also, we had to wait nearly and hour before even getting into the water. One lady in our group was freezing. It was actually warmer in the water than out of it! Temps were in the low 70's that day with breezy conditions. Anyway, the snuba only lasted 30 minutes max. It's truly enjoyable, but awfully short. They take your photo underwater, so my sister in law and I got a cute photo souvenir shot of us holding hands underwater with a tropical fish swimming by. Cute. If you've never done Snuba, definitely go, but I don't advise going at this particular location. I went in Roaton another time, and the reef was spectacular!
Read 12 Snuba Reviews

This was my second visit. As stated above, I found Roatan to be rather frightening with all the armed soldiers carrying loaded guns. There were lots of hecklers and children wanting hand-outs. It just didn't feel safe. There was just a real uneasy sense of "Nobody can trust anyone around here" type of feeling in the air. We didn't have a shore excursion at this port, so we walked through town and went to the Yaba Ding-Ding store. I did like that place. Proceeds help support women in Honduras who are in battered marriages or relationships and the crafts are stunning. My Mother-in-law loved the place. Here's my concern: if so many armed guards are toting guns in the streets, there's either a serious drug traffic problem or crime rate, or risk of assaults on tourists. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know when you feel endangered. I think NCL needs to get the "Heck out of Dodge" so to speak before something serious happens there!
Read 2446 Roatan Reviews

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