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This was my second cruise with NCL, having sailed previously on the Gem in February 2008. I traveled with my husband and three daughters (ages 21 months, 6, and 7). We booked the cruise based on great destination, price, convenience, and kids' activities. My birthday also fell during the week of the cruise. We are a pretty low-maintenance kind of family, other than some basic needs for the kids. Our feelings about our cruise on the Dawn were mixed. I'll let you read on and decide for yourself. EMBARKATION: We drove from Queens to Manhattan and parked in the long term lot where we paid the $200+ fee in advance. Check in was very smooth, and after a short wait we boarded the ship. It was a madhouse inside. We had a great deal of trouble navigating with a stroller, carry on bags, and two other small children. We headed to the buffet which was jammed. I had to go from table to table begging other passengers for their unused utensils because there were few to be found. Got into a minor verbal altercation with an aggressive man who tried to take chairs away from my table when my husband and kids went up to the buffet for some dessert. He threatened to get a staff member to take the chairs from me, as if I were making up some imaginary family who actually needed to sit down when they returned with their food. (I was particularly offended by this because I am the type of person who hates to save seats for people and I usually never do it because I believe that if you want a good seat you should show up early and put your butt in it.) The whole buffet area was quite an ugly scene. I will be sure to head to Venetian instead of the buffet if we ever sail on the Dawn again. CABIN: By 2:00 we were allowed to go into our cabins. We had two inside staterooms on Deck 11 AFT. As I entered my cabin it was decorated with birthday balloons and streamers, and a birthday cake sat on the vanity. My husband had arranged it. Only problem was, this was Sunday and my birthday wasn't until Wednesday, and the birthday greeting had my daughter's name on it instead of mine! (This was NCL's fault, not my husband's. I'll mention more about this later.) The cabin layout was the same as the one I had on the Gem, although the condition of the room was much worse. I immediately noticed that the carpet was stained and worn. Upon heading into the bathroom I saw thick dust on the toiletry shelf and on the mirror. Toothpaste splatters were visible all over the shower door. Small patches of rust and mold could be found round the bottom of the door and along the clothesline that spans across the shower stall. When we unpacked and put our suitcases under the beds, we also found more dust and crumbs from prior guests. The quality of the housekeeping was not great throughout the trip. It seems like the cabin stewards have too many cabins to maintain and that they are quite rushed to turn over the ship quickly as the old passengers disembark and new ones board. This could account for a lack of attention to detail which eventually leads to the overall deterioration of the staterooms. I also found it hard to contact the stewards when we had a problem or request. On the Gem our cabin stewards left little calling cards, to introduce themselves and to provide a direct number, should we need them. That made me feel much more comfortable asking for what I needed, rather than having to go through a third party. Another problem was the noise. I would never book an AFT room again. There was constant clanging, banging, and the sound of what seemed to be a freight elevator right behind the walls of our cabin. Thank goodness I had my iPod to help drown out noise so I could fall asleep at night. My cabin on the Gem was Deck 11 Midship and I never had such terrible noise. KIDS CREW & T-REX POOL: My two big girls loved going to the kids club. Their favorite activities included a junior version of White Hot Night in the Teen Disco, and the farewell pajama party. Booger, Crocodile and Lollipop were their counselors for the majority of the cruise. They were all quite friendly and engaging. The T-Rex pool was a fun area where the kids could slide, swim and splash in a safe environment. It was a little hard to get to with the little one, though. Lots of up and down stairs. We eventually found a shortcut through the gym that made it easier. We tried to be considerate and not drip all over the workout areas, so no one seemed to mind us walking through. DINING: The single best food item I tasted was the pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, served at Blue Lagoon. The food at Impressions Italian restaurant was quite good, as was the food at Salsa, the Mexican restaurant. The staff at both of those restaurants was exceptional as well. We had several dinners at Venetian which were good, too. However, with a toddler, it was difficult to eat in the more formal settings because she can't sit still for very long. That's why we were grateful for the Kids Cafe at the buffet. We were always able to get a pint-sized table where our kids could be kids as they ate. We were also grateful for the Kids Cafe because much of the time the food at that mini-buffet was better than the adult buffet offerings. I frequently saw adults raiding the kiddie buffet for pizza, chicken tenders, fries, and cookies. I understood why. How many times can a person eat greasy hamburgers and hot dogs, dried out meat, undercooked, lukewarm pasta, coconut rice and curry? Despite having such a large buffet area, I found the choices to be limited, and to be repeated too often. The poolside barbecues weren't great either. The meat was bone dry. Something else that I found troublesome was the availability of food at various times of the day. At any given time of day, a section (or sections) of the buffet were closed. Most times, if we didn't show up for rush hour lunch or dinner servings, we were forced to choose from a narrow selection at the NY Deli section. This experience again differs from my experience on the Gem where my kids could get hot chocolate, mozzarella sticks and soft-serve ice cream at 10:30 pm when they left the kids club. I know, there's always room service, but anyone who knows hungry kids knows that it's hard for them to wait ½ hour for room service to show up. Overall, I would have to say that no one should go on the Dawn expecting to eat themselves silly on an abundance of great food. BERMUDA: Lovely, lovely, lovely! We are not beach people, but we just couldn’t miss the chance to test the turquoise waters. One quick and easy beach to get to if you don’t want to schlep little ones on buses and ferries, or take a pricey taxi ride is Snorkel Park. It is in walking distance from the ship. It’s small, and not picture postcard perfect, but it has good amenities like bathrooms, showers, umbrella/chair/sand toy rentals and Hammerhead’s restaurant/bar. The water is very calm and shallow, perfect for little ones. I love that we were docked for nearly three full days in one location and could get on and off the ship at will. We docked during the annual Cup Match (cricket), so lots of stores and restaurants were closed, but the shops at the dockyard were adequate for our shopping needs. Skip the aquarium and zoo, especially if you’re a New Yorker. The place nothing compared to what we’re used to in Coney Island and the Bronx. We didn’t go to Horseshoe Bay beach, but we know people who said it was a can’t miss, so check it out. I would definitely go back to Bermuda again with or without NCL. MISCELLANEOUS: The birthday mix-up continued on my real birthday when the cake showed up over an hour later than scheduled, and the cabin was not decorated. My husband ended up having to go to reception to get his money back. When we returned from dinner that night the room was finally decorated again. Too much hassle for a service my husband paid for that was supposed to be a convenience for him and a nice surprise for me. Speaking of surprises, my husband bought me a beautiful ring for my birthday. He bought it in the jewelry store on the Dawn. The ring was on sale at a great price and it was duty free. I love it.

Beautiful Bermuda

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by SassyKsMom

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2008
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Inside
This was my second cruise with NCL, having sailed previously on the Gem in February 2008. I traveled with my husband and three daughters (ages 21 months, 6, and 7). We booked the cruise based on great destination, price, convenience, and kids' activities. My birthday also fell during the week of the cruise. We are a pretty low-maintenance kind of family, other than some basic needs for the kids. Our feelings about our cruise on the Dawn were mixed. I'll let you read on and decide for yourself.
EMBARKATION: We drove from Queens to Manhattan and parked in the long term lot where we paid the $200+ fee in advance. Check in was very smooth, and after a short wait we boarded the ship. It was a madhouse inside. We had a great deal of trouble navigating with a stroller, carry on bags, and two other small children. We headed to the buffet which was jammed. I had to go from table to table begging other passengers for their unused utensils because there were few to be found. Got into a minor verbal altercation with an aggressive man who tried to take chairs away from my table when my husband and kids went up to the buffet for some dessert. He threatened to get a staff member to take the chairs from me, as if I were making up some imaginary family who actually needed to sit down when they returned with their food. (I was particularly offended by this because I am the type of person who hates to save seats for people and I usually never do it because I believe that if you want a good seat you should show up early and put your butt in it.) The whole buffet area was quite an ugly scene. I will be sure to head to Venetian instead of the buffet if we ever sail on the Dawn again.
CABIN: By 2:00 we were allowed to go into our cabins. We had two inside staterooms on Deck 11 AFT. As I entered my cabin it was decorated with birthday balloons and streamers, and a birthday cake sat on the vanity. My husband had arranged it. Only problem was, this was Sunday and my birthday wasn't until Wednesday, and the birthday greeting had my daughter's name on it instead of mine! (This was NCL's fault, not my husband's. I'll mention more about this later.) The cabin layout was the same as the one I had on the Gem, although the condition of the room was much worse. I immediately noticed that the carpet was stained and worn. Upon heading into the bathroom I saw thick dust on the toiletry shelf and on the mirror. Toothpaste splatters were visible all over the shower door. Small patches of rust and mold could be found round the bottom of the door and along the clothesline that spans across the shower stall. When we unpacked and put our suitcases under the beds, we also found more dust and crumbs from prior guests. The quality of the housekeeping was not great throughout the trip. It seems like the cabin stewards have too many cabins to maintain and that they are quite rushed to turn over the ship quickly as the old passengers disembark and new ones board. This could account for a lack of attention to detail which eventually leads to the overall deterioration of the staterooms. I also found it hard to contact the stewards when we had a problem or request. On the Gem our cabin stewards left little calling cards, to introduce themselves and to provide a direct number, should we need them. That made me feel much more comfortable asking for what I needed, rather than having to go through a third party.
Another problem was the noise. I would never book an AFT room again. There was constant clanging, banging, and the sound of what seemed to be a freight elevator right behind the walls of our cabin. Thank goodness I had my iPod to help drown out noise so I could fall asleep at night. My cabin on the Gem was Deck 11 Midship and I never had such terrible noise. KIDS CREW & T-REX POOL: My two big girls loved going to the kids club. Their favorite activities included a junior version of White Hot Night in the Teen Disco, and the farewell pajama party. Booger, Crocodile and Lollipop were their counselors for the majority of the cruise. They were all quite friendly and engaging. The T-Rex pool was a fun area where the kids could slide, swim and splash in a safe environment. It was a little hard to get to with the little one, though. Lots of up and down stairs. We eventually found a shortcut through the gym that made it easier. We tried to be considerate and not drip all over the workout areas, so no one seemed to mind us walking through.
DINING: The single best food item I tasted was the pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, served at Blue Lagoon. The food at Impressions Italian restaurant was quite good, as was the food at Salsa, the Mexican restaurant. The staff at both of those restaurants was exceptional as well. We had several dinners at Venetian which were good, too. However, with a toddler, it was difficult to eat in the more formal settings because she can't sit still for very long. That's why we were grateful for the Kids Cafe at the buffet. We were always able to get a pint-sized table where our kids could be kids as they ate. We were also grateful for the Kids Cafe because much of the time the food at that mini-buffet was better than the adult buffet offerings. I frequently saw adults raiding the kiddie buffet for pizza, chicken tenders, fries, and cookies. I understood why. How many times can a person eat greasy hamburgers and hot dogs, dried out meat, undercooked, lukewarm pasta, coconut rice and curry? Despite having such a large buffet area, I found the choices to be limited, and to be repeated too often. The poolside barbecues weren't great either. The meat was bone dry. Something else that I found troublesome was the availability of food at various times of the day. At any given time of day, a section (or sections) of the buffet were closed. Most times, if we didn't show up for rush hour lunch or dinner servings, we were forced to choose from a narrow selection at the NY Deli section. This experience again differs from my experience on the Gem where my kids could get hot chocolate, mozzarella sticks and soft-serve ice cream at 10:30 pm when they left the kids club. I know, there's always room service, but anyone who knows hungry kids knows that it's hard for them to wait ½ hour for room service to show up. Overall, I would have to say that no one should go on the Dawn expecting to eat themselves silly on an abundance of great food. BERMUDA: Lovely, lovely, lovely! We are not beach people, but we just couldn’t miss the chance to test the turquoise waters. One quick and easy beach to get to if you don’t want to schlep little ones on buses and ferries, or take a pricey taxi ride is Snorkel Park. It is in walking distance from the ship. It’s small, and not picture postcard perfect, but it has good amenities like bathrooms, showers, umbrella/chair/sand toy rentals and Hammerhead’s restaurant/bar. The water is very calm and shallow, perfect for little ones. I love that we were docked for nearly three full days in one location and could get on and off the ship at will. We docked during the annual Cup Match (cricket), so lots of stores and restaurants were closed, but the shops at the dockyard were adequate for our shopping needs. Skip the aquarium and zoo, especially if you’re a New Yorker. The place nothing compared to what we’re used to in Coney Island and the Bronx. We didn’t go to Horseshoe Bay beach, but we know people who said it was a can’t miss, so check it out. I would definitely go back to Bermuda again with or without NCL.
MISCELLANEOUS: The birthday mix-up continued on my real birthday when the cake showed up over an hour later than scheduled, and the cabin was not decorated. My husband ended up having to go to reception to get his money back. When we returned from dinner that night the room was finally decorated again. Too much hassle for a service my husband paid for that was supposed to be a convenience for him and a nice surprise for me.
Speaking of surprises, my husband bought me a beautiful ring for my birthday. He bought it in the jewelry store on the Dawn. The ring was on sale at a great price and it was duty free. I love it.
SassyKsMom’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Inside
Cabin IA
Convenient location, unbearable noise, dusty shelves, stained carpets.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins