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This review may be lengthy, but I wanted to warn people off this ship before they waste their hard earned money. My wife and I sailed on the NCL Dawn from New York to Bermuda on August 3, 2008 and returned August 10, 2008 along with eight of our cousins. We had a balcony cabin on Deck 8. Our cousins booked 3 cabins with windows on Deck 9. Our ages range from 15 to 57. EMBARKATION: Our cousins arrived at the pier at 12 noon and flew right through the boarding process. My wife and I arrived at 1 PM and were greeted by a line that spanned the length of the Passenger Ship Terminal. There was one line for two ships, the NCL Dawn and the NCL Spirit. There were no porters or luggage carts to help with the luggage until you reached the main entrance to the terminal which took about 45 minutes. Once inside the terminal our ID and boarding pass was checked and our carry-ons were scanned. This went very smoothly. The next line was to arrange for our on-board credit and to obtain our key cards. This line took about another ½ hour. We boarded the ship at 2:30 PM. We were not offered any welcoming champagne although other people were walking around with a glass in each hand. Asked how to get to our cabin so we could drop off our carry-ons we were told the cabins were not ready. An announcement was made around 3:15 PM that the cabins were ready. CABINS: The cabin was of adequate size with enough storage space for the two of us. We got a cabin with a balcony because I am a smoker and my wife isn't. The balcony was well worth the additional cost. The room was kept very clean by our room stewards, but the balcony area was totally ignored. Every morning I had to clean the balcony myself, i.e., empty the ash tray, wipe down the table and chairs, etc. I left a napkin on the balcony that I used to clean up on the first morning and the same napkin was still there on the last day. CABIN STEWARDS: As stated above, the stewards kept the room very clean but ignored the balcony. Neither steward introduced themselves and till today we do not know their names. On the first night, the steward handed me two pieces of candy and a bingo card in the hallway and said goodnight. This was repeated a couple of times. On other nights, we would return to our cabin and find the bed beautifully turned down with chocolates on the pillow and animals crafted out of towels on the bed. DINING: What can I say. Unless you want to pay extra for dinner every night, do not expect much. We ate breakfast at the buffet every day except one. The breakfast offerings at the buffet were diverse and the quality was good. If you want eggs, an omelet or waffles, expect to wait on a long line. One morning we went to the Venetian for the longest breakfast ever. The waiter kept disappearing for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Coffee cups were never refilled. I ordered Eggs Benedict and they were served dried out and cold. Breakfast took almost 2 hours to complete. Dinner was an experience. The first night we ate in the Venetian (free). The waiter was totally disinterested in what he was doing. Once again he would disappear for long periods of time. Three of us ordered steaks. The steaks were about 1/4 inch thick, overcooked and dried out. We asked for A-1 Steak Sauce in the hope of salvaging the meal. We were give HP sauce which did nothing to help. Dinner took about 2 hours. This scenario was repeated the only other time we ate at the Venetian. The other free restaurant on board is Aqua. The wait staff at Aqua was much more attentive and friendly with the exception of the drink server. One night 5 of us arrived and were seated at our table. We asked to order drinks while we waited for the rest of our party. We were told by the drink server that we would have to wait for the rest of our party because she did not want to walk back and forth with separate drink orders. When we told her we did not want to wait, she said she would not take our drink order until the entire party was seated. I called over the waiter and requested the drink server be removed from our table. He immediately took care of the situation. The quality of food was a little better than at the Venetian. This could be because the food was served hot. The lobster was overcooked and you only got drawn butter if you requested it. If you are going to eat in a free restaurant, eat at Aqua. We tried 3 of the added charge restaurants. The first one we ate at was Tappanayaki, the Japanese restaurant located inside Bamboo. This restaurant carried a $25/head charge. Once we were seated, we were told we had exactly 1 hour 15 minutes to complete our dinner. If we did not finish in the allotted time, we would have to carry our plates out to the Bamboo to complete our dinner. It seems strange that we would be given a time limit to eat in a much as we had just spent $250 plus drinks for the privilege of eating here. The food was just OK. I ordered the steak and shrimp combo. The shrimp was delicious but the steak was overcooked. We were continually offered more fried rice as a way of filling us up because the portions were small. The Italian restaurant, Impressions, was good. This restaurant carried a $10/head cover charge. With the exception of having to ask for plates so we could eat the antipasto they had on the table, the service was very good. Food was served promptly and hot. This was well worth the extra 10 bucks. On the last night we ate at Cagney's Steakhouse. This carried a $20/head cover charge. If you ordered things like lobster or crab legs an additional $10 per item was added to the cover. We made a reservation for 5:45 hoping to beat the crowd but the restaurant was packed. Service was good and the staff was very attentive. I ordered a porterhouse steak medium rare and it was delicious. When I asked the waiter why I could not get a steak like that in the free restaurants, he said it was because they wanted you to pay extra for quality food. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on the ship was OK. The shows in the Stardust was varied. The comedian was funny, the magician was run of the mill. The main feature was the Jean Ray Ann Troupe. The dancing and costumes were good, the singing was bad. Every night in the Stardust you were attacked by cruise staff members trying to sell you raffle tickets. The entertainment in the lounges was basically the same every night with the entertainers rotating venues. If you were not into karaoke, all entertainment ended at 11:30 PM. PORTS OF CALL: Kings Wharf (Royal Naval Dockyard): King's Wharf was very nice. It is basically a shopping area with a small beach and a couple of restaurants and bars. This port is very conveniently located. You can buy a three day, $28 transportation pass and come and go as you please. St Georges is only a 20 minute ferry ride from King's Wharf while Hamilton is only a 25 minute ride. We took the ferry into Hamilton twice in the same day. We also took a bus to Horseshoe Bay and spent a beautiful day on the beach. It should be noted that if you want to see any of the tourist attractions go early. Most attractions close for the day between 2 and 4 PM. Hamilton: We spent time in Hamilton while we were docked at King's Wharf so we decided to go to St. Georges. This day was a complete nightmare. You get 8 hours from the time the ship anchors until the time it leaves for home. The ship anchors out in the ocean as it is too large for the dock in Hamilton. We went down to get the tender to Hamilton. We waited 35 minutes before we were loaded onto a life boat that was used for a tender. The life boat was hot and smelled of the exhaust fumes. It took another 25 minutes to reach the dock in Hamilton. We went to the bus terminal and enjoyed the 50 minute ride into St. Georges. After an enjoyable 3 hours in St. Georges, we returned to the bus stop for the trip back to Hamilton. We were told the last tender was at 4 PM. We tried to beat the crowd back to the ship and arrived at the tender area at 3 PM. By this time there was about 500 people ahead of us on line for the tender. We were told by someone on line that they were there for 45 minutes without seeing a tender arrive. We asked a NCL staff member how long the wait would be and he said they were having trouble getting the tenders in because of sea traffic. He also said a ferry boat was coming in due to the large crowd. We finally got on the ferry after an hour wait. We were told by a ferry worker that this takes place every week From my perch on the upper deck of the ferry, I heard a count of over 500 people crammed onto the ferry. After the 25 minute ride back to the ship it took another half hour to get off the ferry. We finally arrived at the elevator on the ship at 5:02 PM, two hours after we got on line for the tender. When we went to complain at the reception desk we were told there was nothing that can be done and this was an unusual occurrence. When we told her the ferry employee said this happens every week she basically called us liars. CONCLUSION: If you want to have an enjoyable cruise, avoid this ship at all cost. Freestyle sailing means NCL is free to charge you extra for services you would normally get for free, i.e., a decent meal, courteous service, etc. Three out of the eight hours we were anchored in Hamilton were spent using the tender. When you complain, you are insulted. The restaurant staff in the Venetian is extremely slow and disinterested. If you ask for something you get a nasty look. Our cousin bought a watch in the gift shop that needed a couple of links removed. When she went to pick it up the crystal was smashed. When she asked for a refund she was told "We are here to make money, not issue refunds". If you want to purchase a photo you must buy an 8" x 10" photo at $25 each in order to earn the right to buy a 5" x 7" copy of the same photo. If you are not into karaoke, the only entertainment option after 11:30 PM is to go to the casino. This was my seventh cruise and the worst cruise I have ever been on.

Dawn Disaster

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by Frank Tartaro

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2008
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
This review may be lengthy, but I wanted to warn people off this ship before they waste their hard earned money.
My wife and I sailed on the NCL Dawn from New York to Bermuda on August 3, 2008 and returned August 10, 2008 along with eight of our cousins. We had a balcony cabin on Deck 8. Our cousins booked 3 cabins with windows on Deck 9. Our ages range from 15 to 57.
EMBARKATION:
Our cousins arrived at the pier at 12 noon and flew right through the boarding process. My wife and I arrived at 1 PM and were greeted by a line that spanned the length of the Passenger Ship Terminal. There was one line for two ships, the NCL Dawn and the NCL Spirit. There were no porters or luggage carts to help with the luggage until you reached the main entrance to the terminal which took about 45 minutes. Once inside the terminal our ID and boarding pass was checked and our carry-ons were scanned. This went very smoothly. The next line was to arrange for our on-board credit and to obtain our key cards. This line took about another ½ hour. We boarded the ship at 2:30 PM. We were not offered any welcoming champagne although other people were walking around with a glass in each hand. Asked how to get to our cabin so we could drop off our carry-ons we were told the cabins were not ready. An announcement was made around 3:15 PM that the cabins were ready.
CABINS:
The cabin was of adequate size with enough storage space for the two of us. We got a cabin with a balcony because I am a smoker and my wife isn't. The balcony was well worth the additional cost. The room was kept very clean by our room stewards, but the balcony area was totally ignored. Every morning I had to clean the balcony myself, i.e., empty the ash tray, wipe down the table and chairs, etc. I left a napkin on the balcony that I used to clean up on the first morning and the same napkin was still there on the last day.
CABIN STEWARDS:
As stated above, the stewards kept the room very clean but ignored the balcony. Neither steward introduced themselves and till today we do not know their names. On the first night, the steward handed me two pieces of candy and a bingo card in the hallway and said goodnight. This was repeated a couple of times. On other nights, we would return to our cabin and find the bed beautifully turned down with chocolates on the pillow and animals crafted out of towels on the bed.
DINING:
What can I say. Unless you want to pay extra for dinner every night, do not expect much. We ate breakfast at the buffet every day except one. The breakfast offerings at the buffet were diverse and the quality was good. If you want eggs, an omelet or waffles, expect to wait on a long line. One morning we went to the Venetian for the longest breakfast ever. The waiter kept disappearing for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Coffee cups were never refilled. I ordered Eggs Benedict and they were served dried out and cold. Breakfast took almost 2 hours to complete.
Dinner was an experience. The first night we ate in the Venetian (free). The waiter was totally disinterested in what he was doing. Once again he would disappear for long periods of time. Three of us ordered steaks. The steaks were about 1/4 inch thick, overcooked and dried out. We asked for A-1 Steak Sauce in the hope of salvaging the meal. We were give HP sauce which did nothing to help. Dinner took about 2 hours. This scenario was repeated the only other time we ate at the Venetian.
The other free restaurant on board is Aqua. The wait staff at Aqua was much more attentive and friendly with the exception of the drink server. One night 5 of us arrived and were seated at our table. We asked to order drinks while we waited for the rest of our party. We were told by the drink server that we would have to wait for the rest of our party because she did not want to walk back and forth with separate drink orders. When we told her we did not want to wait, she said she would not take our drink order until the entire party was seated. I called over the waiter and requested the drink server be removed from our table. He immediately took care of the situation. The quality of food was a little better than at the Venetian. This could be because the food was served hot. The lobster was overcooked and you only got drawn butter if you requested it. If you are going to eat in a free restaurant, eat at Aqua.
We tried 3 of the added charge restaurants. The first one we ate at was Tappanayaki, the Japanese restaurant located inside Bamboo. This restaurant carried a $25/head charge. Once we were seated, we were told we had exactly 1 hour 15 minutes to complete our dinner. If we did not finish in the allotted time, we would have to carry our plates out to the Bamboo to complete our dinner. It seems strange that we would be given a time limit to eat in a much as we had just spent $250 plus drinks for the privilege of eating here. The food was just OK. I ordered the steak and shrimp combo. The shrimp was delicious but the steak was overcooked. We were continually offered more fried rice as a way of filling us up because the portions were small.
The Italian restaurant, Impressions, was good. This restaurant carried a $10/head cover charge. With the exception of having to ask for plates so we could eat the antipasto they had on the table, the service was very good. Food was served promptly and hot. This was well worth the extra 10 bucks.
On the last night we ate at Cagney's Steakhouse. This carried a $20/head cover charge. If you ordered things like lobster or crab legs an additional $10 per item was added to the cover. We made a reservation for 5:45 hoping to beat the crowd but the restaurant was packed. Service was good and the staff was very attentive. I ordered a porterhouse steak medium rare and it was delicious. When I asked the waiter why I could not get a steak like that in the free restaurants, he said it was because they wanted you to pay extra for quality food.
ENTERTAINMENT:
The entertainment on the ship was OK. The shows in the Stardust was varied. The comedian was funny, the magician was run of the mill. The main feature was the Jean Ray Ann Troupe. The dancing and costumes were good, the singing was bad. Every night in the Stardust you were attacked by cruise staff members trying to sell you raffle tickets. The entertainment in the lounges was basically the same every night with the entertainers rotating venues. If you were not into karaoke, all entertainment ended at 11:30 PM.
PORTS OF CALL:
Kings Wharf (Royal Naval Dockyard): King's Wharf was very nice. It is basically a shopping area with a small beach and a couple of restaurants and bars. This port is very conveniently located. You can buy a three day, $28 transportation pass and come and go as you please. St Georges is only a 20 minute ferry ride from King's Wharf while Hamilton is only a 25 minute ride. We took the ferry into Hamilton twice in the same day. We also took a bus to Horseshoe Bay and spent a beautiful day on the beach. It should be noted that if you want to see any of the tourist attractions go early. Most attractions close for the day between 2 and 4 PM.
Hamilton: We spent time in Hamilton while we were docked at King's Wharf so we decided to go to St. Georges. This day was a complete nightmare. You get 8 hours from the time the ship anchors until the time it leaves for home. The ship anchors out in the ocean as it is too large for the dock in Hamilton. We went down to get the tender to Hamilton. We waited 35 minutes before we were loaded onto a life boat that was used for a tender. The life boat was hot and smelled of the exhaust fumes. It took another 25 minutes to reach the dock in Hamilton. We went to the bus terminal and enjoyed the 50 minute ride into St. Georges. After an enjoyable 3 hours in St. Georges, we returned to the bus stop for the trip back to Hamilton. We were told the last tender was at 4 PM. We tried to beat the crowd back to the ship and arrived at the tender area at 3 PM. By this time there was about 500 people ahead of us on line for the tender. We were told by someone on line that they were there for 45 minutes without seeing a tender arrive. We asked a NCL staff member how long the wait would be and he said they were having trouble getting the tenders in because of sea traffic. He also said a ferry boat was coming in due to the large crowd. We finally got on the ferry after an hour wait. We were told by a ferry worker that this takes place every week From my perch on the upper deck of the ferry, I heard a count of over 500 people crammed onto the ferry. After the 25 minute ride back to the ship it took another half hour to get off the ferry. We finally arrived at the elevator on the ship at 5:02 PM, two hours after we got on line for the tender. When we went to complain at the reception desk we were told there was nothing that can be done and this was an unusual occurrence. When we told her the ferry employee said this happens every week she basically called us liars.
CONCLUSION:
If you want to have an enjoyable cruise, avoid this ship at all cost. Freestyle sailing means NCL is free to charge you extra for services you would normally get for free, i.e., a decent meal, courteous service, etc. Three out of the eight hours we were anchored in Hamilton were spent using the tender. When you complain, you are insulted. The restaurant staff in the Venetian is extremely slow and disinterested. If you ask for something you get a nasty look. Our cousin bought a watch in the gift shop that needed a couple of links removed. When she went to pick it up the crystal was smashed. When she asked for a refund she was told "We are here to make money, not issue refunds". If you want to purchase a photo you must buy an 8" x 10" photo at $25 each in order to earn the right to buy a 5" x 7" copy of the same photo. If you are not into karaoke, the only entertainment option after 11:30 PM is to go to the casino. This was my seventh cruise and the worst cruise I have ever been on.
Frank Tartaro’s Full Rating Summary
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