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New York - New York with stops in Port Canaveral, Miami, Nassau, and NCL's out island. Cruisers Me, my wife, two teenaged boys (15 & 17) with two of their friends; a total of six of us. Cruise History15th cruise for my family; 2nd on NCL, first on NCL with "Freestyle" dining. Previous cruises mostly on Celebrity followed by Carnival, RCL and Disney. Embarkation New York City; we arrived a day early to tour the Big Apple. Embarkation was fairly straightforward; nothing out of the ordinary. Ship< A very pretty ship. Much nicer color schemes than Carnival. It is a fairly new ship so it was still very clean. We had two staterooms, one inside cabin for the boys and their friends - they prefer an inside cabin because it stays very dark and allows them to sleep in easier; my wife and I had an outside cabin with veranda. We were lucky enough to have a handicap accessible cabin: they are much larger than a standard cabin with a much larger veranda. If you have the opportunity for a veranda, take it; they're terrific to sit out on late at night or with your morning coffee; and, there's nothing like sleeping with the deck door wide open, with the drape closed to keep the air-conditioning in and the light out, to sleep by the soothing noise created by the rush of the ship as it travels through the ocean. Food/Freestyle Concept A very pleasant surprise. We have found the dining aboard Celebrity liners to be significantly better quality than other liners of similar pricing, and were expecting to find the same to hold true here; but, overall the food on the Dawn was nearly as good as on the Celebrity liners. NCL has their "Freestyle" approach: dine when you are ready, at whatever restaurant you desire. This is so superior to the cattle approach of the other liners. We always dined between 5:30 and 6:30 PM and were always seated immediately. When I dine, I like to enjoy a cocktail or two to start, and have an espresso or glass of Port with dessert and just linger with my sweetheart at the end of a fine meal. On the fixed schedules of other liners, this relaxed, extended dining was not applicable - they need to get you out quickly so they can turn over the tables and be ready for the next wave of diners. On the Dawn, we never felt pushed to finish and vacate our table; it was wonderful! We will have a hard time going back to the fixed dining schedules. RestaurantsThe Dawn offers three standard restaurants which have similar, if not identical, menus, Venetian, Impressions and Aqua; and, alternate dining areas. We dined at one of the main restaurants, the Venetian most evenings. (If you travel within the next few months, ask for a table served by Hernan; he was attentive, pleasant, remembered what wines, coffees, etc. we preferred, and was about as good a waiter as we've had on our 15 cruises.) We tried two of their alternate dining spots, the Bamboo (cover charge) and the Salsa (no cover charge) but decided the meals in the standard dining rooms were very good and the cover charge not worth the extra charge. We thought the buffet was a little below average, but we are very fussy about food, including presentation, atmosphere, cleanliness and overall dining experience. I believe they use powdered eggs in the buffet so we opted for our breakfasts in the main dining room, the Venetian. A plus for the folks at the NCL Dawn, in the buffet area, they have a section for small children - small tables and chairs with their own buffet - a very clever idea. Not only was it a hit for the kids, but it was good for adults who could choose to "buffet" it on the opposite side and avoid many of the small children. EntertainmentStandard fare; pretty good comedians; Las Vegas style shows and the typical cruise Bingo, lotteries, etc. Casino is acceptable for a cruise ship. Ports of Call Port Canaveral Most people opt for the trek to either DisneyWorld or Universal Studios. If you choose Universal Studios during peak periods, select the "express" option; it's more expensive, but it allows you to bypass the lines for shows and rides and can reduce your wait time considerably, which, considering you're there for a single day a fifteen minute wait versus a two hour wait can be enormous and make a huge difference in how many shows or rides you get to. We rented a minivan (we had a party of six) for under 60 dollars from Thrifty (www.thrifty.com) in Port Canaveral; it allowed us to travel to and from Universal Studios when we were ready to travel as well as take a side trek into Orlando. MiamiSouth Beach is quite an attraction during the late evening but not very exciting during the day when the "pretty people" are sleeping or out of the sun. My wife did some shopping in the area; my sons and I opted to do some deep sea fishing which can be arranged separately from the cruise ship. Nassau The Straw Market was temporarily out of business during renovations which eliminated some of the more quaint bartering on the island. We took a taxi, 15 dollars for four of us, to the Atlantis; a much better deal than what the cruise ship offers. We did some gambling in the casino and walked around their fish tanks which is quite a sight... sharks, manta rays, and many species of fish. You can visit these areas without paying the 25 dollar fee to walk through their "aquarium". The official aquarium offers a bigger selection of fish and a neat walk-through tunnel surrounded by the aquarium, but we thought the free areas were a better deal. NCL Island A very pretty little island. A barbecue lunch is served; bring drinking water with you to save some money; also, save the snorkeling fee; the snorkeling is very sub-par and not worth the fee. A waverunner is available for rental next to the NCL beach by a former Bahamian policeman. We rented the waverunner for a half an hour for 55 dollars; he also offers parasailing. DisembarkationNCL is decidedly better than the competition here; you can have a full breakfast, you can stay in your cabin until departing, and, you can carry off your own luggage if you have your own travel arrangements; all of which made for a more accommodating disembarkation. Overall A very good cruise. We'll strongly consider NCL and their "Freestyle" dining for our next cruise. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.rdmalcolm@earthlink.netAugust 2003

Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by rdmalcolm

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
New York - New York with stops in Port Canaveral, Miami, Nassau, and NCL's out island.
Cruisers Me, my wife, two teenaged boys (15 & 17) with two of their friends; a total of six of us.
Cruise History15th cruise for my family; 2nd on NCL, first on NCL with "Freestyle" dining. Previous cruises mostly on Celebrity followed by Carnival, RCL and Disney.
Embarkation New York City; we arrived a day early to tour the Big Apple. Embarkation was fairly straightforward; nothing out of the ordinary.
Ship< A very pretty ship. Much nicer color schemes than Carnival. It is a fairly new ship so it was still very clean. We had two staterooms, one inside cabin for the boys and their friends - they prefer an inside cabin because it stays very dark and allows them to sleep in easier; my wife and I had an outside cabin with veranda. We were lucky enough to have a handicap accessible cabin: they are much larger than a standard cabin with a much larger veranda. If you have the opportunity for a veranda, take it; they're terrific to sit out on late at night or with your morning coffee; and, there's nothing like sleeping with the deck door wide open, with the drape closed to keep the air-conditioning in and the light out, to sleep by the soothing noise created by the rush of the ship as it travels through the ocean.
Food/Freestyle Concept A very pleasant surprise. We have found the dining aboard Celebrity liners to be significantly better quality than other liners of similar pricing, and were expecting to find the same to hold true here; but, overall the food on the Dawn was nearly as good as on the Celebrity liners. NCL has their "Freestyle" approach: dine when you are ready, at whatever restaurant you desire. This is so superior to the cattle approach of the other liners. We always dined between 5:30 and 6:30 PM and were always seated immediately. When I dine, I like to enjoy a cocktail or two to start, and have an espresso or glass of Port with dessert and just linger with my sweetheart at the end of a fine meal. On the fixed schedules of other liners, this relaxed, extended dining was not applicable - they need to get you out quickly so they can turn over the tables and be ready for the next wave of diners. On the Dawn, we never felt pushed to finish and vacate our table; it was wonderful! We will have a hard time going back to the fixed dining schedules.
RestaurantsThe Dawn offers three standard restaurants which have similar, if not identical, menus, Venetian, Impressions and Aqua; and, alternate dining areas. We dined at one of the main restaurants, the Venetian most evenings. (If you travel within the next few months, ask for a table served by Hernan; he was attentive, pleasant, remembered what wines, coffees, etc. we preferred, and was about as good a waiter as we've had on our 15 cruises.) We tried two of their alternate dining spots, the Bamboo (cover charge) and the Salsa (no cover charge) but decided the meals in the standard dining rooms were very good and the cover charge not worth the extra charge. We thought the buffet was a little below average, but we are very fussy about food, including presentation, atmosphere, cleanliness and overall dining experience. I believe they use powdered eggs in the buffet so we opted for our breakfasts in the main dining room, the Venetian. A plus for the folks at the NCL Dawn, in the buffet area, they have a section for small children - small tables and chairs with their own buffet - a very clever idea. Not only was it a hit for the kids, but it was good for adults who could choose to "buffet" it on the opposite side and avoid many of the small children.
EntertainmentStandard fare; pretty good comedians; Las Vegas style shows and the typical cruise Bingo, lotteries, etc. Casino is acceptable for a cruise ship.
Ports of Call
Port Canaveral Most people opt for the trek to either DisneyWorld or Universal Studios. If you choose Universal Studios during peak periods, select the "express" option; it's more expensive, but it allows you to bypass the lines for shows and rides and can reduce your wait time considerably, which, considering you're there for a single day a fifteen minute wait versus a two hour wait can be enormous and make a huge difference in how many shows or rides you get to. We rented a minivan (we had a party of six) for under 60 dollars from Thrifty (www.thrifty.com) in Port Canaveral; it allowed us to travel to and from Universal Studios when we were ready to travel as well as take a side trek into Orlando.
MiamiSouth Beach is quite an attraction during the late evening but not very exciting during the day when the "pretty people" are sleeping or out of the sun. My wife did some shopping in the area; my sons and I opted to do some deep sea fishing which can be arranged separately from the cruise ship.
Nassau The Straw Market was temporarily out of business during renovations which eliminated some of the more quaint bartering on the island. We took a taxi, 15 dollars for four of us, to the Atlantis; a much better deal than what the cruise ship offers. We did some gambling in the casino and walked around their fish tanks which is quite a sight... sharks, manta rays, and many species of fish. You can visit these areas without paying the 25 dollar fee to walk through their "aquarium". The official aquarium offers a bigger selection of fish and a neat walk-through tunnel surrounded by the aquarium, but we thought the free areas were a better deal.
NCL Island A very pretty little island. A barbecue lunch is served; bring drinking water with you to save some money; also, save the snorkeling fee; the snorkeling is very sub-par and not worth the fee. A waverunner is available for rental next to the NCL beach by a former Bahamian policeman. We rented the waverunner for a half an hour for 55 dollars; he also offers parasailing.
DisembarkationNCL is decidedly better than the competition here; you can have a full breakfast, you can stay in your cabin until departing, and, you can carry off your own luggage if you have your own travel arrangements; all of which made for a more accommodating disembarkation.
Overall A very good cruise. We'll strongly consider NCL and their "Freestyle" dining for our next cruise.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.rdmalcolm@earthlink.netAugust 2003
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