There has been a new dawn on the cruise industry. The m/s norwegian dawn is an absolutely amazing ship that i describe as indescribable, but i will try my best to let you know what a fabulous time i had and what a fabulous vessel this is. i went with my father and mother, 57 and 46 respectively, my sisters, 20 and 22, a long time friend of the family, age 50 and a boyfriend of my 20 year old sister, age 26. all of us had a simply marvelous time. "to the ship:" the dawn is much more elegant than i expected. the grand atrium was not obtrusive compared to most of the new ships. it was three decks high (main reception and java cafe, the optional salsa restaurant and the internet cafe) and was never very crowded. the only time i had to wait on line there was for the midnight buffet which was at 2:00 pm when we left ncl's private island. the most advertised feature of an ncl cruise is being able to freestyle cruise. the norwegian dawn, star, sky and sun were all built with this in mind. for those who do not know what freestyle cruising is, it is being able to dine when you want with whom you want and, pretty much where what you want. in other words this is even more like a resort/hotel at sea. this worked very well for us, although we chose to make reservations every once in a while. the ten restaurants were beautiful and the food absolutely could not have been better.the main "oasis pool" was more than adequate but was crowded on the days at sea, which is how most ships are. the sister ship, Norwegian star, has two water slides at her pool, but they were not installed on the dawn, most likely because of space, and it was definitely a good move. i cannot say enough about the entertainment, from the shows in the stardust theater which were like eye candy to the games that the hilarious and talented cruise staff put on. everything was amusing and entertaining. "i ate the entire time..." i am very surprised that when i look up the word gluttony, a picture of the venetian restaurant onboard the dawn is not there! our party of seven used the freestyle dining concept and went to all the included restaurants besides impressions, because of a line. [tip- each day make reservations at whatever restaurant at which you wish to eat to be on the safe side]. our favorite was the venetian. it is such a classy and beautiful restaurant. we asked and of course received the same table and great waiter, minon, almost each time we went, however, there is no guarantee for this preference. the food all over the ship was simply irresistible and scrumptious! even the b.b.q by the pool had ribs, steaks, clams and so on, even a fantastic paella. i have heard fabulous things about the optional, restaurants especially le bistro, a french cuisine restaurant. it is home to original masterpieces by van gogh, Renoir, monet, andy Warhol and matisse! for those who are booked on the dawn this should be helpful: included restaurants: venetian, aqua, impressions, trattoria, garden cafe (buffet), and the blue lagoon. optional; extra fee restaurants (reservations are needed): le bistro $12.50 cover charge, cagney's steak house $17.50, bamboo $10 cover charge, teppanyaki a la carte pricing (asian food being cooked hibachi style right in front of you).
ports from your back door: new york-at sea- port canaveral-miami-nassau-great stirrup cay (ncl's private island)-at sea-new york embarkation went very smoothly, unlike what i have read from other cruise ships that left from miami. [tip/reminder- fill out those bahama cards before you go to leave from the port of new york]. day at sea- fun filled, most of my day was spent at the pool, but a person in our party did as many scheduled activities as possible. we also had the opportunity to meet the concierge, amanda and the hotel manager, klaus. we were very lucky to be invited to the captain's cocktail party which was great. they had the very important crew members there to chat with and we had a great time with them. that night we had formal night at the venetian, then danced, karaoked and gambled the night a way. port canaveral- optional shore tours to kennedy space center, orlando parks, and cocoa beach. we met up with family and went up to new smyrna beach. miami- great port. [tip- don't take shuttle to south beach, just catch a cab]. we went to south beach and walked around the stores. nassau- did the awesome dive-in program that brought us to a fantastic reef to snorkel. then my sister, her boyfriend and i took a taxi to cable beach by atlantis and rented jet skis. it was incredible great stirrup cay- i rented a vest and went snorkeling and was in the water pretty much the whole time. get the earliest tender possible for an umbrella.
i was entertained the entire cruise. the shows were really amazing and so much better then the average vegas/cruise show. they had stunning singers, dancers, sets, music, effects and so on. the cruise director, kieron buffrey was fantastic. he was very quick and good with all ages and took care of those people who need to be talked to and taken care of. the rest of the cruise staff was so much fun.
we loved the crew and the crew loved us! my advice: ask and you shall receive! the norwegian dawn has an impressive and fantastic crew. they are from 64 different nations and do a fantastic job with a smile on their faces and a greeting when you walked by. we made friends with misha, a dancer, klaus, the hotel manager, kieron, the cruise director and we especially loved the cruise directors staff, especially leona. we found the crew and staff to be gracious in every way.
the lap of luxury! the largest suites on any cruise ship are on this ship. the garden villa suites are two opulent, indulgent and spacious three bedroom, 5,350 square feet suites on deck 14 overlooking the pool, and the ocean. each one has and outdoor patio with a hot tub and panoramic views. my parents had a category ba balcony stateroom and it looked off the aft/stern of the ship. there were only a few that looked out on the back. i had an inside room category jj and it was adequate and i needed nothing more and nothing less. my sisters and the friend that was traveling with us asked for an upgrade and in this busy season, they received it. so ask and you might (most likely shall) receive.
i hate goodbyes: i tried the express disembarkation and after a tiny bit of a wait on line, i was out. when they called my floor, i went to the gangway with all of my bags and they swiped my cards and i was off at 10:30 and we were cleared at 10:00. because of this wonderful concept of freestyle cruising, we had another nice breakfast at the venetian. it went very smoothly.
overall: this was an amazing ship and it has been a memorable trip. i highly recommend this ship to anyone (especially those in the new york metro area. t is very convenient leaving from nyc). it is indescribable. you have to try it for yourselves!