This was my second visit to the Dawn (first was a fall New England cruise, wonderful!) and my fifth cruise with Norwegian. I am loyal to Norwegian because of the Freestyle concept and the ships, are a comfortable fit. I chose this cruise because of the ports and booked it back in August for a spring break cruise with my 22 year old daughter. She had never been on a cruise before and I was so excited to share this with her. We are from Central IL and flew down the day before. I usually do this now after a last minute flight change almost caused my husband and I to miss the ship for an Alaskan cruise (on the Pearl, also wonderful!) We stayed at the Comfort Inn downtown and it was pleasant and quiet, away from all the crazy. Wow! I must be the most naive 52 year old on the planet because I had no idea that New Orleans was so wild! Of course I had heard of Mardi Gras, but I just figured the partying stopped when that was over. No way! There are dozens of restaurants, bars, strip clubs, bead and mask shops, beggars, homeless, street musicians, you name it! We took a trolley ride and saw the million dollar houses and at the end of the cruise we did the "New Orleans tour and drop off at the airport" excursion. We stopped at a historical cemetery and a pretty park for beignet pastries. It was a wonderful way to end the cruise. I must say, southern hospitality is alive and well in New Orleans. Such friendly people!
The taxi dropped us off at the port around noon and we were soon on the ship. Our room was not quite ready but it was fine with us so we waved a visiting steward away. Our steward was not feeling well on embarkation day because she had just returned from the Philippines. We got settled in and went to eat in the garden cafe. Unlike the Gem in New York, the buffet on the Dawn has plenty of seats.
I purchased the specialty dining package and used Norwegian Mastercard points (25,000) to pay for it so basically it was free. There were many folks on the trip who had the free drink package and I must admit I was quite envious of all those pina coladas and margaritas being passed out. Because it was spring break, there were dozens of college kids on board. Usually my cruises are a bit quieter but we had a lot of laughs at their drunken expense. Hey I was young and fun once! Anyway, I did hear the f-word a bit more than I am used to on a cruise and we spotted several kids smoking pot on deck 13 where they thought they were hidden. Speaking of deck 13, there is an awesome hot tub up there that most people don't know about.