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Background Information: Travelled with kids (2 girls ages 11 and 14, 2 boys ages 11 and 14), 2 couples in mid 40s. Half of group were seasoned cruisers on RCCL, Carnival, Holland, Cunard) and other half have never been on a cruise before. My first time with NCL (9 RCCL, 3 Carnival, 1 Holland, 1 Cunard) We could have driven to Manhattan port terminal on Sunday morning (April 20th - the Pope was in town this weekend) - our friends did it in 3 hours flat from Shrewsbury, MA. Note - as of April 1st - parking is now $240 for 7 night cruise at the port. We, however, took Amtrak from Prov to Penn Station RT. Taxi to hotel was $15 with tip. The train was fine. Hotel Info: Stayed one night pre-cruise at Millennium Broadway Hotel near Times Square. Excellent location, great price $284 via Travelzoo deal. Front desk service (I believe his name was Tabur?)was excellent and they checked us in early. Had renovated room on 40th floor. Starbucks, Irish Pub, Toys R Us only a few steps from the hotel - literally. Sunday, took taxi to port - I believe it was also around $15-$20. Embarkation - the usual wait and hurry up, cattle call. No one really likes waiting. However, it was well organized and we were onboard by 12:30pm. Ship Info: NCL Dawn is a beautiful well maintained ship. One of the cleanest I have ever been on.I also liked the layout of the pool area much more than any other cruise line. RCCL comes in second in that category. NCL has "stadium" seating facing the pool area - so it is easy to see the hot tubs and the pool if your kids are swimming or walking around getting something to eat or drink. There are also plenty of deck chairs on all levels in different nooks of the ship - people did tend to save seats near the pool -but we somehow managed to find deck chairs when we needed them. Activities/Entertainment: Pedro the cruise director was excellent, entertaining, funny and not annoying. The shows were very good. Comedian was very good, magician very good, Bollywood show was EXCELLENT (Jean Ryan Dance Group - very very talented). One of best I have seen on a cruise ship. Second City comedy troupe - just okay. Plenty of things to do - or not to do. The choice is yours. The usual Bingo, casino, spa, classes (yoga, pilates, napkin folding, sushi making, all kinds of things), wine tastings, beer tasting (which was worth $15 and fun, 5 beers to taste, a trivia quiz with prizes for each team, and some other fun things, and then with your receipt - you get a complimentary beer of your choice when you show it at the Pearly Pub - also have great acoustic guitarist for entertainment in there). Service: overall - not the best. But to be fair, seasoned NCL cruisers said that this cruise was off on service and not the usual great service that they have received on past cruises. I give it a 6 in regards to the restaurants for service. There were a few people who were stellar (Kenneth, Noel and Egbert at the pool area who went above and beyond - I give them a solid 9). Cabin: We had an oceanview on the 8th floor midship-aft. Great location, one floor down was the Blue Lagoon, shopping galleria, Pearly's Pub, the centrum area. 2 floors down was the Venetian. Elevator to 12th floor - right at the Buffet and pool area. Perfect spot overall. Room was clean, enough storage space, excellent professional grade hairdryer, TV was lame and small (they need to upgrade these to larger flat screens), the bathroom was laid out excellent. Toilet in separate area and the shower glass sliding door. Best layout of all cruise ships I have been on (this does not include if you ever stayed in suites, etc - just for inside, outside and basic balcony rooms). Our room stewards - I give them a solid 8. They were like ghosts who did an excellent job of keeping the room clean without you noticing them around - you would go to breakfast and come back 30 minutes or so later - and the room was spotless again. I left extra cash at the start of the cruise and asked about bath robes for the week and some extra little things - all were delivered. Only thing missing was towel animals and perhaps some fun interaction with the kids (which you get on other lines) - but really, does that matter in the long run? Shore Excursions: We were tendered first 2 days in Bermuda and then one day at King's Wharf dock. We decided not to participate in the planned tours. These sold out quickly. We decided to go on our own, bought bus passes (3 days for 2 adults and 1 child cost $70) - well worth it. Taxis are very expensive. The (pink) bus service is excellent, they drive really fast - but still felt safe and convenient - not anything like buses in NYC, Boston, or even any other island I have been on. We visited the Fantasy and Crystal Caves near Hamilton. Very very cool. The stairs in the Fantasy are extremely steep - I do not recommend for kids under 8 or for the elderly if they have trouble walking or anyone with knee, hip issues. The Crystal Caves are more manageable. Wear sneakers or really comfortable shoes too. The Rum Swizzle Inn is outside of the Caves Park - take right out of Caves entrance and right at ice cream parlor, you will see the Swizzle Inn across the street. Great pub food munchies and loved the Rum Swizzles. The residents of Bermuda are extremely nice and very polite - so make sure to say hello or ask questions - they really are friendly and want to be helpful. The weather was also not that great the first 4-5 days of cruise - cloudy, some rain, some sun, in the mid 60s - but even a "lousy" day in paradise is better than a great day in the office :-) The last day in Bermuda was gorgeous though and we went to Horseshoe Bay Beach - it is a MUST SEE. Dining: All food was very good - even the buffet (except for the scrambled eggs - good grief). Bimini above the pool area had awesome burgers and fries...Salsa's - very good tex mex. Venetian and Aqua - kind of boring menus at times - but food was good (but lobster tail was dry). Blue Lagoon cafe was VERY good - comfort foods like meatloaf, chicken wings, fish and chips, potato skins, etc. - open pretty much 24 hours a day. The kids ate there alot. And great pit stop at 3am - haha. Like we need more food. Cagney's's was $25 pp - it was very good. Our friends went to Le Bistro and said the surf and turf were excellent. Impressions Italian - they now also charge $10 pp - we did not go. Teppanyaki was $25 pp extra - I cancelled that one right away - are they kidding me? We can get Teppanyaki - Hibachi at our own Japanese restaurant for that price... Didn't we already pay for meals in the cruise ticket price? Come to find out that almost all the restaurants charge $10-$25 per person (Cagney, Le Bistro, Impressions, Bamboo, Teppanyaki, Sushi (just so-so sushi-don't bother). In fact, I would not be surprised that they tack on a charge to Salsa's next ! Nickel and dimed to DEATH with the food and beverages. A vodka and soda in a small rock glass was $8.00. Are you kidding me? Drinks of the day were $8.95 with a souvenir glass, $6.95 without - but in a smaller glass. You COULD get a refill with the souvenir glass for $6.95, or maybe $6.50, or even $5.95. Sometimes, they would try to charge you the $8.95 again even though you were getting a "refill". My comment on this - is that the prices were inconsistent and sneaky - if you did not look at your receipt carefully - they took advantage. The only deal was the bucket of beers (get 6 for the price of 5). I know you should not have to do this, but probably a good idea that you find a favorite pool bar server, give him or her a great tip to start off your cruise and stick with that person. We were given some cool beer kuzis, a beer opener, etc and great service overall. To be fair, there were SOME drink specials at the Star Bar some afternoons (2 martinis for price of 1)or $4.95 margaritas at Salsa's from 2pm to 4pm, that type of thing. Children's Clubs: Our kids did not participate at all. They thought it was lame. It did not look lame at all. But I find age 11 and up prefer to hang out with their friends, go in the hot tub, pool, play basketball, eat at the buffets and cafes, go to some of the shows, and hang out in the rooms. (The kids clubs are GREAT for age 4 to 10, from my past experiences with my kids.). I felt very safe with my 11 yr old daughter walking around the ship (with the 14 yr old girl, not alone, of course). This was school break vacation for NY and MA and there were a lot of kids on board. But never did I experience any kids or teenagers acting inappropriately or feel overly crowded. Disembarkation - always a mini nightmare in my opinion. If you do Express Debarkation - You can leave at any time you would like with your suitcases off the ship. Either boogie out of there right away or- My advice, if you do this and you don't have to catch a flight - take your time - have a sit down breakfast, head back to the room for a bit to freshen up and bring your bags up to 12th floor- sit by the pool (buffet and bars are open even during debarkation at the pool area). And head out around 10am. Take the elevator near the front of the ship, down to the 7th floor (near the Stardust Theater) and hopefully, if you are lucky like we were - they will have another exit ramp open to disembark. Note that even though they may call colored tags to debark - you have the right to join in that line out of the ship ! You go thru customs - not that bad. Then if you are catching a taxi, it might be quite congested. If you drove your car - awesome. Our friends were out of there in no time at all !! If you did not drive, better off with a limo/car service (they approach you in the terminal). It's worth the $40 to me - to not have to wait, beat the traffic, and get to Penn station or airport or wherever in a less stressful manner. Overall - I give NCL Dawn a 7. If they didn't charge for so many dining venues and the drink prices were more in line with the other cruise lines - I would go on NCL again. But I think RCCL and Carnival overall are a better choice for a family vacation and more reasonably priced overall.

NCL Dawn - April school break 08

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by Brigitte

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2008
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Picture Window
Background Information: Travelled with kids (2 girls ages 11 and 14, 2 boys ages 11 and 14), 2 couples in mid 40s. Half of group were seasoned cruisers on RCCL, Carnival, Holland, Cunard) and other half have never been on a cruise before. My first time with NCL (9 RCCL, 3 Carnival, 1 Holland, 1 Cunard)
We could have driven to Manhattan port terminal on Sunday morning (April 20th - the Pope was in town this weekend) - our friends did it in 3 hours flat from Shrewsbury, MA. Note - as of April 1st - parking is now $240 for 7 night cruise at the port. We, however, took Amtrak from Prov to Penn Station RT. Taxi to hotel was $15 with tip. The train was fine.
Hotel Info: Stayed one night pre-cruise at Millennium Broadway Hotel near Times Square. Excellent location, great price $284 via Travelzoo deal. Front desk service (I believe his name was Tabur?)was excellent and they checked us in early. Had renovated room on 40th floor. Starbucks, Irish Pub, Toys R Us only a few steps from the hotel - literally. Sunday, took taxi to port - I believe it was also around $15-$20.
Embarkation - the usual wait and hurry up, cattle call. No one really likes waiting. However, it was well organized and we were onboard by 12:30pm. Ship Info: NCL Dawn is a beautiful well maintained ship. One of the cleanest I have ever been on.I also liked the layout of the pool area much more than any other cruise line. RCCL comes in second in that category. NCL has "stadium" seating facing the pool area - so it is easy to see the hot tubs and the pool if your kids are swimming or walking around getting something to eat or drink. There are also plenty of deck chairs on all levels in different nooks of the ship - people did tend to save seats near the pool -but we somehow managed to find deck chairs when we needed them.
Activities/Entertainment: Pedro the cruise director was excellent, entertaining, funny and not annoying. The shows were very good. Comedian was very good, magician very good, Bollywood show was EXCELLENT (Jean Ryan Dance Group - very very talented). One of best I have seen on a cruise ship. Second City comedy troupe - just okay. Plenty of things to do - or not to do. The choice is yours. The usual Bingo, casino, spa, classes (yoga, pilates, napkin folding, sushi making, all kinds of things), wine tastings, beer tasting (which was worth $15 and fun, 5 beers to taste, a trivia quiz with prizes for each team, and some other fun things, and then with your receipt - you get a complimentary beer of your choice when you show it at the Pearly Pub - also have great acoustic guitarist for entertainment in there).
Service: overall - not the best. But to be fair, seasoned NCL cruisers said that this cruise was off on service and not the usual great service that they have received on past cruises. I give it a 6 in regards to the restaurants for service. There were a few people who were stellar (Kenneth, Noel and Egbert at the pool area who went above and beyond - I give them a solid 9).
Cabin: We had an oceanview on the 8th floor midship-aft. Great location, one floor down was the Blue Lagoon, shopping galleria, Pearly's Pub, the centrum area. 2 floors down was the Venetian. Elevator to 12th floor - right at the Buffet and pool area. Perfect spot overall. Room was clean, enough storage space, excellent professional grade hairdryer, TV was lame and small (they need to upgrade these to larger flat screens), the bathroom was laid out excellent. Toilet in separate area and the shower glass sliding door. Best layout of all cruise ships I have been on (this does not include if you ever stayed in suites, etc - just for inside, outside and basic balcony rooms). Our room stewards - I give them a solid 8. They were like ghosts who did an excellent job of keeping the room clean without you noticing them around - you would go to breakfast and come back 30 minutes or so later - and the room was spotless again. I left extra cash at the start of the cruise and asked about bath robes for the week and some extra little things - all were delivered. Only thing missing was towel animals and perhaps some fun interaction with the kids (which you get on other lines) - but really, does that matter in the long run?
Shore Excursions: We were tendered first 2 days in Bermuda and then one day at King's Wharf dock. We decided not to participate in the planned tours. These sold out quickly. We decided to go on our own, bought bus passes (3 days for 2 adults and 1 child cost $70) - well worth it. Taxis are very expensive. The (pink) bus service is excellent, they drive really fast - but still felt safe and convenient - not anything like buses in NYC, Boston, or even any other island I have been on. We visited the Fantasy and Crystal Caves near Hamilton. Very very cool. The stairs in the Fantasy are extremely steep - I do not recommend for kids under 8 or for the elderly if they have trouble walking or anyone with knee, hip issues. The Crystal Caves are more manageable. Wear sneakers or really comfortable shoes too. The Rum Swizzle Inn is outside of the Caves Park - take right out of Caves entrance and right at ice cream parlor, you will see the Swizzle Inn across the street. Great pub food munchies and loved the Rum Swizzles.
The residents of Bermuda are extremely nice and very polite - so make sure to say hello or ask questions - they really are friendly and want to be helpful. The weather was also not that great the first 4-5 days of cruise - cloudy, some rain, some sun, in the mid 60s - but even a "lousy" day in paradise is better than a great day in the office :-) The last day in Bermuda was gorgeous though and we went to Horseshoe Bay Beach - it is a MUST SEE.
Dining: All food was very good - even the buffet (except for the scrambled eggs - good grief). Bimini above the pool area had awesome burgers and fries...Salsa's - very good tex mex. Venetian and Aqua - kind of boring menus at times - but food was good (but lobster tail was dry). Blue Lagoon cafe was VERY good - comfort foods like meatloaf, chicken wings, fish and chips, potato skins, etc. - open pretty much 24 hours a day. The kids ate there alot. And great pit stop at 3am - haha. Like we need more food. Cagney's's was $25 pp - it was very good. Our friends went to Le Bistro and said the surf and turf were excellent. Impressions Italian - they now also charge $10 pp - we did not go. Teppanyaki was $25 pp extra - I cancelled that one right away - are they kidding me? We can get Teppanyaki - Hibachi at our own Japanese restaurant for that price... Didn't we already pay for meals in the cruise ticket price? Come to find out that almost all the restaurants charge $10-$25 per person (Cagney, Le Bistro, Impressions, Bamboo, Teppanyaki, Sushi (just so-so sushi-don't bother). In fact, I would not be surprised that they tack on a charge to Salsa's next ! Nickel and dimed to DEATH with the food and beverages. A vodka and soda in a small rock glass was $8.00. Are you kidding me? Drinks of the day were $8.95 with a souvenir glass, $6.95 without - but in a smaller glass. You COULD get a refill with the souvenir glass for $6.95, or maybe $6.50, or even $5.95. Sometimes, they would try to charge you the $8.95 again even though you were getting a "refill". My comment on this - is that the prices were inconsistent and sneaky - if you did not look at your receipt carefully - they took advantage. The only deal was the bucket of beers (get 6 for the price of 5). I know you should not have to do this, but probably a good idea that you find a favorite pool bar server, give him or her a great tip to start off your cruise and stick with that person. We were given some cool beer kuzis, a beer opener, etc and great service overall. To be fair, there were SOME drink specials at the Star Bar some afternoons (2 martinis for price of 1)or $4.95 margaritas at Salsa's from 2pm to 4pm, that type of thing.
Children's Clubs: Our kids did not participate at all. They thought it was lame. It did not look lame at all. But I find age 11 and up prefer to hang out with their friends, go in the hot tub, pool, play basketball, eat at the buffets and cafes, go to some of the shows, and hang out in the rooms. (The kids clubs are GREAT for age 4 to 10, from my past experiences with my kids.). I felt very safe with my 11 yr old daughter walking around the ship (with the 14 yr old girl, not alone, of course). This was school break vacation for NY and MA and there were a lot of kids on board. But never did I experience any kids or teenagers acting inappropriately or feel overly crowded.
Disembarkation - always a mini nightmare in my opinion. If you do Express Debarkation - You can leave at any time you would like with your suitcases off the ship. Either boogie out of there right away or- My advice, if you do this and you don't have to catch a flight - take your time - have a sit down breakfast, head back to the room for a bit to freshen up and bring your bags up to 12th floor- sit by the pool (buffet and bars are open even during debarkation at the pool area). And head out around 10am. Take the elevator near the front of the ship, down to the 7th floor (near the Stardust Theater) and hopefully, if you are lucky like we were - they will have another exit ramp open to disembark. Note that even though they may call colored tags to debark - you have the right to join in that line out of the ship ! You go thru customs - not that bad. Then if you are catching a taxi, it might be quite congested. If you drove your car - awesome. Our friends were out of there in no time at all !! If you did not drive, better off with a limo/car service (they approach you in the terminal). It's worth the $40 to me - to not have to wait, beat the traffic, and get to Penn station or airport or wherever in a less stressful manner.
Overall - I give NCL Dawn a 7. If they didn't charge for so many dining venues and the drink prices were more in line with the other cruise lines - I would go on NCL again. But I think RCCL and Carnival overall are a better choice for a family vacation and more reasonably priced overall.
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