NCL Dawn- Mixed Feelings: Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by jaasb0808

Norwegian Dawn 4
Member Since 2013
49 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

NCL Dawn- Mixed Feelings

Sail Date: January 2014
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa
This was our first experience with Norwegian and although we did have a few hiccups they were resolved and we overall enjoyed our experience, and would probably travel with them again.


We had priority embarkation but still chose to arrive early a little before 11 AM, it was a breeze. We left our luggage with a porter and went right inside, we were guided to the Priority line and then to the priority lounge where there was food and beverage waiting. We waited for about a half hour during which time we were provided with a copy of the Freestyle Daily and the concierge went around passing out keys, the concierge then led us on board by about 11:30 or 11:45 AM. The rooms were not quite ready so we went to the Garden Cafe for lunch, then explored the ship a little but our room was ready probably within about an hour. Embarkation was super easy and enjoyable.


The staff on board I would give mixed reviews to. Our room steward (Carlos) More and the staff at the Splash Academy were wonderful. The staff at the Garden Cafe was always very friendly as was the butler and concierge. The dining room staff was not always great and the shore excursion desk left much to be desired.


This is my third cruise and although the food was decent it was my least favorite of the cruises I have experienced. We enjoyed the freestyle aspect of being able to dine when we wanted but the dinner service was very slow, even though the dining rooms never appeared full at the times we went.

The majority of the time we ate in the Venetian or Aqua for dinner and breakfast at The Garden Cafe. We did try Cagney's for lunch and I was not very impressed, it was okay but I would not have been happy if I had paid for it as specialty dining---maybe it is better for dinner? We also tried La Cucina which was good as was the food at Sushi which we tried for lunch on our last sea day but the service there was awful.

We also loved the Kids Cafe inside the Garden Cafe, that was wonderful to have all the kid food in one place and not have to wait in lines picking through looking for something they would eat.

Splash Academy:

If you are looking for a family cruise I would say pick this one for the Splash Academy! The crew is great and my kids ages 4 and 7 never wanted to leave. They did so many fun activities and had such a great time.

Also the T-Rex kids pool is wonderful! best kids pool I have seen on a ship.


We have visited tons of different spas and I can say this one was probably the worst I have been to. The staff was not very friendly, the facilities were not very nice (at least the treatment room) it was FREEZING cold in there, they had a nice hot tub pool area but unlike all other spas would not let you use it prior to your treatment unless you had purchased the special pass. They did not have us change into robes prior to our treatment or enjoy the relaxation area. The girls who did our massages were nice but they were not very good in comparison to what we have had elsewhere...needless to say the spa was a big disappointment.

All that being said, we really enjoyed the ship itself, our stateroom and the kid amenities were great. However, we have had better food and spas on other cruise lines. At this point I am not sure if we will choose NCL again or not. Less

Published 01/26/14

Cabin review: 11520

We loved this room, it was perfect for our family. Giving us enough space to relax and not feel like we were on top of each other. It was nice to have a separate room for the kids. Our butler kept our fridge stocked with milk for them too which was great. We loved the 2 bedroom family suite!

Port and Shore Excursions

Lamanai Mayan Ruins

Belize City was our next stop, again not great weather but better than the previous day. This was the only excursion we booked through NCL, we booked it 2 months ahead of time as we had a party of 20 and wanted to make sure everyone could get on it together. When we got on board all the other staterooms in our party had their excursion tickets delivered. When ours did not arrive I inquired with the butler who said he would look into it. The night before he let us know that the shore excursion people told him we were never booked on the tour and that it was now full. My husband pulled up our email confirmation of booking it (and paying for it) he took it down to the shore excursion desk where they then told him they had to remove some people from the tour as there were less spots available than they originally planned and refused to help him although I am sure other people had booked after us. We were upset since the other 15 people in our group were still booked on it so we then contacted the concierge Roel who said he would get it taken care of. Within about an hour he brought us our tickets and apologized for the shore excursion desk, also offering us a dinner at one of the paid restaurants for the several hours of trouble this issue had caused. When we got to the tour it was nice, about an hour bus ride and then an hour boat ride up the river to get to the ruins. The tour guide was nice but a little boring and hard to understand but overall we enjoyed the tour.

I think this would be a great port had the weather been better. We took the $3 shuttle ride (5 minutes) to town, it was a fun place to shop and barter right on a pretty beach. Just too windy and overcast to enjoy the water/beach.

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This was my favorite stop this time since it was the only time on this trip we saw the sun! We had purchased snorkeling gear online at and were determined we were going to get to use it on this trip. We were planning on heading to Chakanuub (sp) but on the way our taxi driver told us we would probably like Playa Palancar better, so we took his word for it and were so happy we did! It was wonderful, beautiful beach, great service and food, and good snorkeling right off the reef but still lots of beautiful fish.

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This is harder to review because no one has any control over the weather and unfortunately we got bad weather! Our first port was Roatan, we have been here before and enjoyed beautiful snorkeling and were excited for that again at a different spot. After much research our plan was to head to West Bay which is supposed to be the best beach with great snorkeling right off the shore. Well the weather had other plans so we ended up having our taxi driver take us on a small island tour and got back on the ship early. The taxi driver told us he had not seen weather that bad since they had a hurricane in the 90's so I think we just landed there on the wrong day. Due to the horrible weather the boat was VERY rocky that night, I believe the navigation channel said we were hitting about 12 ft waves, anyhow MANY MANY people were seasick. I felt bad for the crew, but they got things cleaned up very quickly and it was forgotten by the following morning.

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Member Since 2013
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