This was our first cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Dawn. We had 4 balcony staterooms on deck 8 between each of the nine members of our family. There were two in each room and 3 in one room. This included: myself, my husband, our 3 children (ages 10, 13, and 16), my mother, my 2 aunts and my aunts grandson (age 9). We are all from the New York, New Jersey area.
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at about 12:15 and parked the van in the parking lot. The porters took our luggage and we entered the terminal. We did not have to wait at all in the holding area, we went right through to the check in area and were processed very quickly, walked onto the ship after a group photo and were sitting in the Venetian Dining room having a nice lunch by 1:00. The food was very good and the service wonderful. After lunch, we went to make reservations at Salsas for Monday. Our rooms were ready by then, so we dropped off our carry-ons and checked out the rooms. The Balcony cabins were very nice with enough room for everything. The shower water pressure was terrific and the balcony was so nice to relax on. The muster drill for us was held in the beautiful Stardust theatre. We were very comfortable in our seats. It was short and painless.
After the muster drill we changed into our bathing suits and headed to the pool area for the sail away barbecue party. We got 4 lounge chairs in a row on the 2nd tier of the pool deck and watched the sailaway from there. The atmosphere was festive with a band playing and the staff cooking the food. My sons loved the food, (hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs etc) unfortunately I was still full from lunch so I didnt eat then. My husband was busy taking lots of pictures as we sailed away. My kids swam in the pool. And some of us went back to the room to unpack.
Food: We had dinner in all three restaurants, main restaurants and Salsas once. Even though we were a party of nine, we never had to wait more than a few minutes to be seated and we ate between 6 and 7 every night. The food was excellent except for at Salsas when the ribs were very tough. We loved Impressions and Aqua best, they were more intimate and the waiters and service were excellent. All of the food was really good in the main restaurants. For breakfast we ate at the Garden Cafe buffet, which had a very good selection including fresh made waffles and made to order omelets. We also went there for lunch and they had a nice pasta station and Deli section among many other hot choices. We never had a problem finding something we liked. Also, Ice cream cones were available in the afternoon by the pool.
On Tuesday at 11:15 pm there was a Chocoholic Buffet. We arrived at about 10:45 to get on line and were pretty close to the front. The chocolate fountain was yummy, they dipped fruit on sticks into the chocolate. There were pastries, ice cream, cookies and lots of beautiful chocolate sculptures made by the chefs.
Entertainment: The entertainment on the ship was fantastic all week! The welcome aboard party the first night with our Cruise Director Matt Baker was a lot of fun. He was so great all week, very talented and funny. He made the cruise so memorable for us!!! We loved him! At the 70s disco party that night he dressed up as Austin Powers and we had a good time dancing with the village people! The seas were a little rough that first night so the boat was rocking a bit during dancing!
All of the shows were really great, especially the Second City Comedians, they were so funny with their skits and improvisational comedy. The Magician and the Action Comedy show were really excellent too. We went to every show and dance party!
Ports of Call: First stop was Bermuda, we got off the ship and took the bus to Horseshoe Bay beach, it had to be the most beautiful beach I have ever seen! We stayed for a few hours and then it started to rain on and off. We then took the bus back to the ship and had lunch at the buffet. We got off the ship and went shopping for souvenirs around the pier area. Wish we had more time to see Bermuda! We departed at 5:00.
On Wednesday morning we arrived at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas (the ships private island) at about 10:30. We got the first tender over to the island because we had booked snorkeling excursions. The island was very beautiful and the water an amazing blue color and very calm. They had a barbecue, band, limbo contest, and a small straw market there. That was a lot of fun. The only problem was trying to get back on the tender. There was a long wait in the heat. We think that there was a medical problem on the tender right before us. I saw a women pass out and was brought a wheelchair so we had a long wait for the next tender. It was extremely hot that day.
Later that day at about 8:00 pm we arrived in Nassau, the nine of us took a minibus ($4 each) to Atlantis with a very nice cabdriver. We walked around the Aquarium (the dig), which was free at night. And a few of us hit the casino. The rest of us just walked around the hotel a bit. It was beautiful! The same cab driver picked us up at 11:15 and took us back to the ship. The next morning we went on the Thriller powerboat ride, that was a lot of fun. They gave us a tour of the island and a fun fast ride too at times! Although we wish it was even faster (we like speed). We ended up right in front of the huge straw market and did lots of shopping there. It was fun haggling with those people. I really got some nice things for great prices! Then back to the ship for a 12:00 sailaway.
We registered the kids for the kids crew, but they never went. They had so much fun with us and met kids on the ship. I heard it was a lot of fun by some of the passengers.
We loved the Freestyle concept and never had any problems waiting to get into any restaurant with a party of nine. We had a wonderful first cruise and would love to do it again. Maybe on the New Norwegian Gem!