Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by Bennett'sCruise
- Sail Date: September 2007
- Destination: Canada & New England
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
STATEROOM: We had #11110 (mini-suite, mid). An excellent location on the starboard side. Love the minis. There is plenty of room for the things we brought on the ship with us and the goodies we bought along the way!
SAIL-AWAY: We sailed out of New York harbor ... following the Spirit and then the Crown. It made for some great pix! Our starboard balcony allowed us a great view of Lady Liberty as we sailed passed.
FELLOW PAX: This was by far the most interesting passenger demographic than any cruise we have taken to date. The Itinerary and the Date both played a role in this. The avg age was 65 ... there were only 7 children from 0-18 on board. I don't know for a fact, but it seemed at least 50% of our fellow pax were from Europe. We met some wonderful folks during the course of the cruise and learned a lot about their countries. If you are looking for a cruise to take your children on that would include a large ship's children's program, don't wait until this late in the season. We were in several ports where other ships were also calling and there were NO children from those ships either.
Boston ~ the Port of Boston is really *missing the boat* here! There was NOTHING at the pier and the pier was a far walk from town. A shuttle service was available for $13/pp. We took the Historic Boston & Cambridge Tour. Information was good ... we saw all the obligatory sites including a walking tour of Harvard Yard. Would recommend. NOTE: while cruising into Boston we saw many spouts and splashes from whales.
Bar Harbor (tendered) ~ A wonderful quaint village. I would definitely want to come back here for an extended visit. We took the Acadia and Lobster Bake Tour. The scenery was incredible; view from Cadillac Mtn amazing (you can get cell service from the top); the Lobster Bake was excellent! If you don't like lobster you can get a steak ... which looked very good. Would recommend. We stopped in town to stock up on Pepsi and water to take back to the ship. There's a grocery store a few blocks walking distance from the main street. This is a wonderful town for shopping and eating.
Halifax ~ A wonderful surprise when we were docking ... a bag pipe band (4 pipers, 2 drummers) came out onto the docks and played several songs for us. This also included a Town Cryer who read an *official* document welcoming us to Halifax. Our starboard side balcony allowed us to view this easily. They played at least one encore as a ship full of pax applauded their talents. What a great welcome! Halifax is known as a friendly town ... and we can attest to that. They seemed to really want us there! We took the tour of the Coast and Peggy's Cove. While traveling thru Halifax we learned a lot about their town. It's about 1 hour to Peggy's Cove thru beautiful scenery. We spent an hour at Peggy's Cove and then took another way back to the ship for more scenery. Would recommend. NOTE: There is a shopping area right at the pier terminal ... but the prices seemed high. I would wait until Sydney to buy your Nova Scotia memorabilia.
Quebec: the morning began with a thud! Because of a crowded port schedule (the Grand Princess and the QE2 were in port), the Dawn was sent down to a freighter terminal to dock. Our starboard balcony gave us a front row seat to 90 minutes of pure entertainment while docking (Act I was the ropes, and Act II was the gangways). The port fellows were definitely right out of the 3-Stooges. I'm sure the Captain and other staff were having fits, but we decided to make the most out of it and watch the developments right below our room. We were 90 minutes late getting off .. which put every Excursion behind schedule. (NOTE: it always amazes me when pax blame the cruise line for things like this. There is so much out of their control as they pull into ports.) We took the Old and New Quebec Tour. It was rainy which made getting off the bus a little difficult at times, but we enjoyed the tour and learned so much. Had a great French tour guide. Would recommend. What a GREAT city. We want to go back some day for an extended visit! Shopping in Old District was wonderful. We had lunch at a little place in a building which was built in 1727. Very kewl. NOTE: Because we docked so far from the *action*, NCL had lined up shuttle buses to take us back and forth at $5/pp r/t. AND, because of the mess the port put us thru which made us so late, NCL cancelled the charge and ran the shuttles at no cost to us (although they still had a contract they had to pay for the shuttles). THANKS, NCL ... that was a very classy thing to do!!
La Baie (tendered) ~ WONDERFUL little French town!! We decided to not take a tour while in La Baie as we needed some *down time*. We regret that now. People came back raving about their tours into the countryside. The town is totally French speaking. There is a GREAT shopping tent right on the pier where English is spoken, but if you venture into town (just a few steps away), there is only French. We know this because Bill needed to find some Advil for me as I was pulled into action in the twist contest the night before in the Spinnaker! Ugghhhh ... He couldn't communicate *Advil* to the shop keepers, so I had to wait until the ship's shops opened that evening for some relief. It seems the little town is so excited to have a ship in they all come down to watch the action ... mothers with little ones in strollers, young children dancing around the pier area to the fiddle music being played ... so many friendly and interesting people. NOTE: There is THE BEST shopping tent right on the pier full of hand-crafted items! We stopped to speak with the shop keepers here (they do speak English) and they seemed very interested in sharing their lives. It is a wonderful port!
Corner Brook, NewFoundLand ~ A small town of 20,000 people. As we got off the ship there was a gentleman on the pier with two huge, black Newfies! Several pax stopped to take pictures. I was one of them... and also got some wonderful puppy kisses from the baby (who must have weighed 200 pds!). You could definitely tell which pax were missing their fur-babies back home! This is an interesting stop. The town is very industrial and full of hard-working and friendly people. We took the City Tour and was pretty disappointed with it. The buses are very old (ours was smelly as well). The tour guide was proud of his town, but there just isn't much to see. Would NOT recommend unless you just want a little history of the area. If you want another *down day*, would recommend taking it here and NOT La Baie. We saw the most fall color at this port ... but colors were still a week away from being at peak. NOTE: The little shopping tent on the pier is worth a stop and a look.
Sydney, Nova Scotia (tendered) ~ Love, love, love Sydney! Things are pretty busy on the pier, but it is worth walking thru the terminal building. TONS of good shopping to be done here ... all hand-crafted items. We took the Alexander Graham Bell Museum & Baddeck Tour. Gorgeous scenery going out to the tour area, but we had only an hour at the Museum, which wasn't nearly enough time! And because we were running a little late for some reason, we had all of 15 minutes in Baddeck. Unless things can be changed to give this tour more time, I would NOT recommend it. Back in Sydney things improved with the great shopping. We walked to St. George's Church (a recommended stop) and to the craft area behind the church for some wonderful hand-crafted shopping. The prices here are really too good to believe! The church ladies are very friendly and very proud of their things. They also serve a light refreshment of cookies, oat cakes and coffee free of charge to anyone who is interested. We didn't walk into the main town area (just another 2 blocks from the church), but heard raves from fellow pax about it! There were 2 other ships in port with us which made things crowded, but it still is a wonderful place.
SHIP/STAFF & CREW: The Dawn is in great condition. I'm sure this is due to the great crew who work around the clock to keep it that way. We found the staff and crew to be The Best! With only a couple of exceptions we found them to be extremely friendly and seemed to be just waiting to help us with something. Those critics who think FreeStyle takes away from Great Service are just plain wrong in our view and experience. We've had nothing but great service. Each Staff & Crew member wear a little blue pin which reads, "NCL S.T.Y.L.E", and stands for "Service Teamwork and Yes Leads to Excellence" The staff and crew act on that premise and do so happily.
KUDOOS: to Capt Trygve Vorren, Hotel Director Hugo Vanosmael, CD Jimmy Kovel (along with his GREAT staff ... especially AARON ALEXANDER!), Concierge Anka, Group Coordinator Mike for special help and for making this a exceptional experience!
LET'S EAT!!: This is one of the things we love best about FreeStyle. For dinner we ate at LeBistro, Impressions, Teppanyaki, Salsas, Cagneys ... as well as Aqua and Venetian. All were excellent ... we feel the extra-charge restaurants are well worth it and take advantage of them as much as we can. We also had breakfast and lunch at the Garden Buffet and Blue Lagoon. All good! NOTE: 1) don't forget about the New York Deli which is in the back of the Garden on the Port side. Very good pizzas and sandwiches here. 2) the Garden Buffet has GREAT DESSERTS (starboard side) late at night. We found many crew and staff eating in here. NOTE: the chocolate fondue is no longer on the menu at Le Bistro, but we asked for it and received it ... along with a large plate of fresh fruit. YUMMMOOOOO! Just save some room for this wonderful finish to an extraordinary dinner. The maitre-d in Le Bistro, Ronnie, is very friendly and helpful.
THE ISSUE OF COOKIES! Okay, NCL ... here's my only ding on food! Cookies were hard to find! Many of the pax were wandering around mid-afternoon looking for that little sweet convection to get them thru the afternoon. I was one of them! NOTE: I discovered you can order a nice plate of large cookies from ROOM SERVICE that will last a couple of days in your stateroom. WOOOO HOOOOOO! I passed that little bit of information on to several pax ... so I'm sure RS had their hands full the last few days!
DISEMBARKATION: I was escorting a group of 27 people on this trip so had to line up our bus and tour guide for a brief NYC tour following our cruise. I walked off early, leaving Bill behind with the rest of the group. Mike, Group Coordinator on the Dawn, was exceptionally helpful. Our group all disembarked together (although we were spread all over the ship), got their luggage and were on the bus away from the port in an easy transition. I saw Mike on the pier who immediately apologized for the *confusion* Since I had gotten off early I had no idea what he was talking about. Seems there was a immigration check on the crew so disembarkation was delayed. I heard NO COMPLAINTS from any in our group so it was a non-issue ... but it was nice that Mike felt he had to apologize, but there was certainly no need.
CRUISE CRITIC MEET & GREET: We met the first morning ... we docked in Boston shortly after lunch so we had plenty of time for our meeting. We met in the Star Bar at 10:30. Turns out this is not such a good time as many officers need to be in a meeting at this time. The 11 a.m. time works better for them .... BUT, Jimmy, Hugo, Mike and some others showed up to talk to us. It was VERY NICE! Unfortunately, we had a small CC group on this sailing. Not sure why. Norma (NJR) worked very hard to line this meeting up for us. THANKS, NORMA!
DINE WITH AN OFFICER: One thing the officers mentioned at the M&G is that there was going to be a special *Dine With An Officer* dinner later in the cruise. We could sign up to get our names in a drawing for that event. Bill and I were selected to dine with Hugo. It was a very special evening. It looked like the entire center section of Venetian was reserved for this event. I looked around during dinner and saw all the pax and officers deep in conversation. This is a GREAT IDEA and I hope it continues!! Dinner lasted a full 2 hours and Bill and I felt it could have gone on longer ... but I guess someone has to drive the ship!
I could go on and on ... we had a wonderful cruise and no one in our group had any complaints at all! All felt well taken care of and pampered.
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