Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by Mark W
- Sail Date: June 2008
- Destination: Bermuda
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Inside
Background: My wife, two daughters (10 & 13) and I. My wife and I are in our mid-forties. This was our third cruise - our first two were on Princess on their Grand-class ships which hold 3000 passengers. We are low-maintenance people and don't expect people to wait on us hand-and-foot.
Embarkation: We drove to NYC and parked at the pier. I made sure we came from the North because I'd read that sometimes coming from the South it can be a pain to turn into the terminal. We arrived at around 11AM, dropped our bags off with, and tipped the porters, drove to the lot where we paid $210 for seven nights upfront, had the dogs sniff our vehicle for bombs and then parked the van knowing that it would be safe and secure for our trip. We were on the ship by 12:00 and waiting for the Venetian to open at 12:30. We enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch overlooking the Hudson River waiting for our cabin to be ready, which it was around 2PM. We thought about looking around the ship but dragging all our carry-on luggage about bumping into others dragging their carry-ons about wasn't all that appealing.
Disembarkation: The breakfast buffet was very crowded that morning but getting off the ship went very smoothly. We had chosen to be with the last group off scheduled for 9:45AM but they called our color at 8:45AM, a full one hour ahead of schedule. We hadn't expected them to be that early so we just stuck to our original schedule despite the repeated calls for everyone to leave the ship. By the time we left around 9:45 there were still lots of passengers milling about onboard.
We claimed our baggage, put it into the van and spent most of the day in Manhattan (we got half-priced theatre tickets same day). If you are going to spend the day in NYC while leaving your vehicle at the pier, be careful - the signs on the parking lot say it is open until 6PM, some pier staff said 5PM and other staff had no idea. We returned at 4:50PM and the terminal building was totally closed up. I had to run down to 55th St. from 46th St. to run up the car ramp (parking is on the roof) and then all the way back, but not after having to climb an 8 ft. fence! Everything was chained shut and I was getting a little worried but fortunately the exit ramp was still open. Next time I would just go in through the exit, but hey, I got a workout.
Cabins: We had a single cabin for four. On Princess, the two extra beds fold down from the wall but on the Dawn, only one bed was on the wall while the fourth slides out from under one of the main beds. When the cabin is turned down, most of the floor space is taken up by the three beds which makes it quite cramped. With our girls getting bigger next time we'll get two cabins. The 3rd and 4th bed mattresses were quite hard. As a pleasant surprise, the shower was much larger than expected and very nice. Other than that the cabin was pretty much typical in terms of closets, storage space, amenities, etc. Our room stewards were cordial but too busy to chat - boy do they ever work hard! My youngest loved the towel animals and chocolates on the pillows.
Entertainment: This is very much a personal taste thing, but here is my take:
Jean Ann Ryan Company: Band on the Run - Excellent song & dance show as long as you enjoy '70's music, My 10 yr old was bored stiff.
Jean Ann Ryan Company: South Beach Rave - I didn't enjoy it. If you like Miami/Latin music you might have a different opinion.
Jean Ann Ryan Company: Bollywood - This got many good reviews. It's very Cirque du Soleil-ish, I thought it was OK, my wife really enjoyed it.
Second City: Loved it, very funny. A good part of the show is improv so it could be hit and miss. We had a new troupe that had only been on the ship for about four weeks so some previous negative reviews on this board may not be applicable.
Dave Heenan: Comedian - not bad though most humor is for an older audience. My 10 year old missed most of the jokes. He's from NYC and much of his comedy has a local flavor but my guess is that 85-95% of the passengers were locals anyway.
Greg Gleason: Excellent magician, great sleight of hand stuff.
Jeffrey Allen: Great piano player and singer - a born entertainer. His Elton John tribute show was excellent for music and humor and he got the only standing ovation I've ever seen on a cruise ship, and from a tough New York crowd nonetheless.
At the end of every show in the main theatre the Cruise Director would always follow the act to make some announcements. It was unbelievable how many people just rudely got up and left as he was speaking.
Dining: We didn't go to any of the specialty restaurants except Salsa (no cover charge). I found the food, in general, to be quite good. I think the quality of the food has a lot to do with the particular head chef onboard because on our previous Princess cruises, one had great food while the other had mediocre food. We stuck with the main dining rooms for dinner and the buffets for lunch/breakfast. We are not fine diners so that was good for us. Drinks are expensive though - $8 plus tip for a non-alcoholic smoothie.
We generally went to dinner around 6PM and didn't have to wait for a table unlike many of the other reviewers.
On the Bermuda days we usually had a big late breakfast and skipped lunch while out and about. That worked out well as skipping a few meals in a week of gluttony was probably not a bad thing.
A few pet peeves: 1) In the buffet you often had to hunt around to find cutlery sets; 2) The buffet always ran out of fresh fruit (except whole apples and oranges) at the end of the evening when we were looking for a post-show snack; 3) Didn't go to the chocaholic buffet - the line was ridiculous. - if NCL is going to continue with this, they need to do it better.
Fitness Center: Very clean with lots of modern equipment (ellipticals, treadmills, etc), each with its own TV screen. Be sure to bring your own earbuds if you want sound. It's right at the top/rear of the ship and it was tough being there on one of the rough sea days when many people were seasick.
I enjoyed the rubberized running track with the constant ocean breeze keeping me cool. What I didn't enjoy was people laying their loungers ACROSS the running track - what are those people thinking???? Anyone for Steeplechase?
Fellow Passengers: I like the concept of Freestyle Cruising and not having to dress up while on vacation, however I wonder if this attracts a different kind of cruise passenger. Our cabin was located within a group of cabins occupied by an extended family who would converse loudly outside our room, or yell to each other down the hall at all hours of the day or night. Their teenaged kids would often be drunk, yelling in their rooms (which straddled ours) late into the night, kicking the walls, slamming doors, etc. We met some very nice people on the cruise but also encountered some real boors which is in stark contrast to our previous cruises (Alaska and Caribbean), though perhaps the specific itinerary may have something to do with it.
Bermuda: I've fallen in love with Bermuda! What an absolutely gorgeous place - temperate climate, beautiful blue water, pink sand beaches, colorful houses, clean streets, etc. etc. The local people were so friendly and helpful to confused tourists. We got the 3-day bus/ferry passes and did St. George, Hamilton and Horseshoe Bay on different days. We also went to the Crystal Caves to view the stalactites/stalagmites. In my opinion it was overpriced ($16/adult, $8/child
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