A bit of background -- this was our first cruise me, husband and 13-year old daughter. We splurged a bit and had an AB Penthouse Suite the Topaz on Deck 11, the starboard side -- which was wonderful. We flew into NYC from California Friday night (the 21st) got delayed in Chicago because of the thunderstorms in the NYC area but made it to our hotel by 11:00 pm.
Next morning, we got to the ship around 10:30 turns out that was a little early as we had to wait in the Lattitudes/Suites area for about an hour and 45 minutes but it was fun watching all of the people coming and going and we were escorted through the process, met Claudio our concierge, and were on the ship around 11:45 or so. We went to the Venetian for lunch which was nice and then walked around until about 1:30 getting to know where things were, etc.
The Dawn is really a beautiful ship. Our bags arrived around 2:00 which was great. We unpacked, took some pictures and then headed to the muster drill in the Stardust ballroom. Then went out on deck for the sail away party we took lots of great pictures of the NYC skyline.
Dinner that night at Impressions. Ill segment the rest of the review into the following areas: Part 1: Our Cabin, Restaurants, Part 2: Staff, Shows and Activities, Part 3: Ports of Call and Miscellaneous.
In a word, unbelievable. The suite had so much room more than enough closet space and drawers and our daughter had her own bedroom and bath which she loved. Four TVs. The master bathroom is amazing beautiful all wood, glass a TV over the whirlpool tub and the shower had a full length window directly overlooking the ocean. The shower had a hand spray, top stray and body sprays it was about 15 square feet in size. NICE!! Also, a nice eating area and living room and a beautiful balcony with teak lounge chairs. I LOVED IT. There was also a portable phone that you could take with you anywhere on the ship. This suite was perfect for three people -- would be great for two, but obviously you would be paying for space you wouldnt use.
We ate at Impressions, the Venetian, Aqua, Salsas, Cagneys, Le Bistro, Bamboo, the Garden Cafe and the Blue Lagoon. I think it was a toss-up as to our favorite restaurant between Cagneys and Bamboo. The steak was very good at Cagneys. The service everywhere was wonderful. We were fortunate to have been invited to dinner at Cagneys with our Cruise Critic friends thanks to Wake Gazer and Sharon for setting it up! And hi to Dolly Girl, Jim and Ariel! At Cagneys, Hugo, the hotel director, and Tony, the food and beverage director, joined us for dessert which was very nice. We were definitely starting to get very spoiled with all of the VIP treatment. . . . Le Bistro was also excellent the filet was buttery and delicious and what an amazing time dining among all of the famous Impressionist paintings. We also had dinner with our CC friends at Impressions on lobster night (Thursday). A great time. Our daughter hung out at the Garden Cafe and the Blue Lagoon all week she enjoyed meeting and chilling there with her new-found friends. Out of all of the restaurants, Salsas was probably our least favorite and this was most likely due to being from California (and DH frequently traveling on business), so the bar for Tex-Mex food with us was pretty high. We thought the food at Salsas was so-so, but the location/view was great. Bamboo was excellent our waiter kept bringing more and more food even though we didnt order it! And it was all delicious. Staff
The staff on the Dawn could not have been nicer nor have done anything more to make our cruise special. We were only on the ship the first day for about 3 hours when Claudio, our concierge, came over and re-introduced himself (we had met him first during embarkation.) He was so nice and very helpful throughout the week. Then our butler, Anshuman, came and introduced himself. He treated us like royalty all week with wonderful breakfasts in our suite, hors doeuvres for our CC cocktail party before dinner at Impressions, etc. He was always available and did a great job. Our room stewards, Edgar and Rafael did a great job as well they always greeted us by name and the suite was always spotless amazing how they always know when you are there and arent there!
We also enjoyed meeting many of the other crew members at the captains VIP cocktail party, the dinner at Cagneys and at the Cruise Critic meeting on Sunday in addition to Hugo and Tony, we met Jaime (Hugos assistant), Matt Baker, the cruise director, and Island, the group services coordinator. Everyone was so nice, helpful and interesting to talk to.
Show and Activities
Matt Baker was a trip he was quite a showman and made all of the activities even funnier than they would have been just on their own. We went to the New Newlywed game (VERY funny), Battle of the Sexes, Quest (pretty amazing what people will do . . .), the Crew Show and Liars Club. We also saw Fountains hilarious. As for the shows they were spectacular the Jean Ann Ryan shows South Beach Revue and Bollywood were unforgettable. And we always had GREAT seats in the balcony thanks to Claudio!! We also really enjoyed Second City Nancy, Tofer and the rest -- they were hilarious and so good at what they do!
The timing of all of the evening shows was very good there was usually a show in the Stardust Ballroom at 7:30 and 9:30, and an activity in the Spinnaker Lounge at 8:45 and 10:45.
We also did the progressive trivia game in the Pearly Kings each day, the Martini Clinic (we shared the martinis because if we didnt, we wouldnt have been able to stand up . . ), the Ryder Cup golf challenge, bingo and also enjoyed relaxing by the pools. DH also worked out quite a bit and was impressed with the facility. He also enjoyed walking the perimeter of the Promenade on Deck 7.
Our daughter went to the Teen Club the first night and then she simply met the other teens each day usually at the pool, the Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. They did some of the activities but mostly just roamed around in a pack. DD loved having this kind of freedom we began by insisting she use the walkie talkies, but by mid-cruise we simply had her check in with us a couple of times during the day and it worked out fine. She told us this was the best vacation of my life. Ports of Call
Bermuda was beautiful we went on the Ultimate Catamaran Snorkel and it was a lot of fun they have kayaks and floats as well if you dont want to snorkel. We also walked around Kings Wharf. Wish we had had more time in Bermuda to see Hamilton and Horseshoe Beach, but it was nice even to just get a taste of this beautiful island.
Great Stirrup Cay was a lot of fun we were on the first tender and got an umbrella and chairs no problem. It was VERY HOT make sure you use lots of sunscreen there it is imperative. The water was crystal clear. We really loved this stop. Our daughter was in seventh heaven. The barbecue was good and it was a very festive party-like atmosphere.
Nassau had dinner in Bamboo that night and then we walked around downtown Nassau. The next day we were up early and took at cab over to Atlantis. A pretty amazing property you have to see it if you havent already. We then walked around Nassau some more (the shops, etc.) and got back on the ship around 10:30.
We found the soda card to be a good deal we bought one and had a lot of diet cokes between us. The Teen Passport we could have skipped our daughter really didnt use it that much but she did enjoy the smoothies when she had them. The CC suggestion to bring a power strip was very helpful as was the suggestion of an over-the-door shoe bag. Also, there are lots of opportunities for photos they take your picture everywhere and post them in the photo gallery but there is no obligation. You can also pose for formal photos/portraits if you like.
In terms of any issues or problems, there were only a couple and they were very minor. 1. My daily WSJ delivery was sometimes a bit sporadic, but WHATEVER! Whenever I asked about it, about three people were immediately ON IT!! And the paper always appeared shortly thereafter. 2. There was a problem with the amount we were charged for the Bermuda snorkeling excursion the woman at the Issues and Discrepancies desk said they couldnt fix it there but that I had to deal with Miami after the cruise. It would have been nice if this could have been taken care of while I was there, but not a huge deal. They do have backup of all of your onboard charges which is helpful.
End of Cruise and Overall
Disembarkation was a little slow because of a broken gangway. But Claudio kept us informed we waited in the Stardust Ballroom which was fine. We got off around 11:10 or so. After the cruise, we spent two nights in NYC which was a great way to end our vacation.
Overall, this was a VERY enjoyable vacation from the staff to the ship itself, the cabin, the entertainment, food, ports, etc. DH was so relaxed he kept asking me what day it was. We will definitely be doing it again. This was a cruise we will always remember and we cant wait to cruise with NCL again.