Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by ivygirl210
- Sail Date: April 2015
- Destination: Around the World
My husband & I are both Platinum level, have sailed on NCL for over 100 nights over the past 3 years. Each ship has their pluses and minuses. We had sailed on the Dawn this past December over Christmas and it was not good at all. This cruise, however, was much better.
EMBARKATION: Embarkation in New Orleans is always easy. They know what they are doing. Too many people complain about it because they try to board too early. The ship is barely emptied at 10, needs to be fully cleaned. What do people expect? We always come around noon. Never have to wait in the off-shore waiting room which indeed is horrible. We check in, board ship and then head to the Venetian Room for a nice leisurely lunch. Most people rush to the buffet, which is a huge mistake. When we are finished our room is ready. We've been lucky about luggage, have never had to wait for it to arrive.
We were traveling with my elderly parents (Daddy turned 86 and Mom 82 during the cruise) and they loved it. This is their 4th NCL cruise. (Although they are partial to Princess)
Rooms were spotless, as usual. We had a wonderful room steward, Joel.
DINING: We usually buy the Ultimate Dining Package but since this was going to be 21 day cruise decided not to. And I must say I am so glad we didn't. We ate in AQUA most nights and it was superb. The specialty dining restaurants get a bit old, the menu never changes. In AQUA it was hard to choose, the food was all excellent. I read these awful reviews and can't imagine what these people are eating. Everything is great! We did eat in the Bistro twice and were very disappointed, AQUA was much better. The sushi was also wonderful. We ate there 3 times and each time was great, and very reasonable. BAMBOO (Asian restaurant) is attached to the sushi and is now a no charge restaurant. Also very good. The buffet is NEVER good. Avoid at all costs. Upstairs at the Bimini Bar they serve fabulous hamburgers, hot dogs & thin fries everyday from 12-6. If you want to avoid the crowds in the buffet and poolside, that's the place to go.
Overall I found the restaurant & bar staff to be very happy and efficient. In December we had the opposite. The Hotel Director is a bit of a snob. Does not seem very happy in his job. Armando da Silva, the Hotel Director on the Spirit is the epitome of a great HD. He greets everyone, makes you feel like a VIP. Go figure. The Maitre D's were more hands on this trip as well. (Especially Jaime in AQUA)
CASINO: I like to gamble, my husband not at all. In December I thought it had to be the worst casino on any NCL ship. This time when I walked in I was greeted by the Casino Shift manager (Martin) and the Executive Host, Sharon, who were on the Baltic cruise I took last May. What a difference they have made. Ashtrays emptied, great drink service, happy dealers - a totally different casino. I still lost too much money, and they got rid of my 2 favorite Keno games, but it was nice place to be. Sadly, Martin & Sharon are moving to the Breakaway in May so it will probably be crappy again.
ENTERTAINMENT: Same old, same old. When you sail as much as I do on NCL it gets boring. I cannot stand the lead singers, they are too loud, disguising mediocre voices (except for Henry, the English dude). The dancers are good. My father loved the Irish singer/storyteller and my parents LOVED Jose & Patty. Said their daytime show was the best show they'd ever seen on a cruise ship. Sadly Jose & Patty were getting off in Boston.
INTERNET: Instead of worrying about minutes my husband purchased the unlimited internet option for the duration of the cruise. It was $25/day. Best purchase. The service was very fast considering. Stan, the internet cafe manager is very nice.
We generally avoid all things booked through the ship. Except SCUBA diving.
Aruba: Horrid, filthy. If I am there again I'd stay on the ship. Husband enjoyed his SCUBA diving.
Curacao: Gorgeous. We did the Irie tour bus right off the ship (NOT through the ship). $25 per person. Free sodas & beer. Excellent. Highly recommend.
ST. MAARTEN: Husband went SCUBA diving. Mom, Dad & I took cab into town and had nice lunch at beachside cafe. Nothing special.
ST. THOMAS, VI: Nice. Cab into town. Found a bus tour that took us around town. Good.
BERMUDA: Fabulous. King's Wharf is great. Ferry is great. Love it! We booked a tour through Ricky's that I had seen on trip advisor. Not good. Would not recommend. Loved Bermuda although it is quite expensive.
DISEMBARKATION: Boston. Very well organized. Long taxi queue though.
All in all a nice trip. I still love NCL.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
ArubaWe walked off the ship. Felt very scary. Filthy, smelt like sewage. We probably should have arranged for a tour. Vendors were aggressive, I hate that. We ate at a mediocre restaurant. Overpriced for what we got.View All 1,652 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
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Duck TourLoved it. We took a cab from the ship. ($25) Seats a bit too small but our driver/duck guide, Mack was great. Lots of history. Fun to drive into the river. He let the children on the boat actually steer while in water. They seemed to enjoy. Cab back to ship was only $17. Go figure.View All 23 Duck Tour Reviews
Island TourI had read about them on trip advisor and cruise critic. $25 per person. Includes sodas & beer. Great driver, very funny and knowledgeable. We stopped at curaçao factory. Nice, free tasting, nice gift shop. Drove around island. Stopped at a private beach resort and had a fabulous lunch at a place called Mambo. Dropped us off at ship. Excellent value. Highly recommend.View All 192 Island Tour Reviews
Island TourI had read great reviews about this on various sites. Very disappointed. The owner, Ricky, met the 12 of us at the port and then proceeded to pawn us on to his substitute (because he was picking up his new van) He assured us the driver was great as the cruise ship uses him. That should have been warning. Driver was rude, indifferent. Tour was nothing like Ricky had advertised. We were supposed to be taken to The Swizzle Inn for lunch (at our cost). Instead he dropped us off in St. george at 11 am where there was nothing to do or see. I mentioned the Swizzle Inn had been promised to all and he grudgingly took us there and dropped us off while he went to visit his sister. Swizzle Inn was great though. Bermuda is glorious, just not as seen through Ricky's Tours.View All 109 Island Tour Reviews
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Island TourWe took a cab into town and wandered around for a bit. Found a bus tour that was excellent. $60 for 4. About 5 hours. Very informative. Island is beautiful.View All 264 Island Tour Reviews
Bought some great rum at a store near the ship.