I will start by saying that I have been on many cruises with many different lines. This cruise was choosen for the port stops with only 2 days at sea. This part of the trip was brillant, with great port stops and lots to see and do once off the ship!
Now, the experience on the Dawn was much different than I had experienced on other cruise ships in general. For starters, we were never given any emails prior to sailing that 3 of our port stops had major time changes, and/or shorter port stops. Next, we found it very difficult to use the NCL website to reserve for speciality restaurant, shore excursions, etc. Sometimes the website just would not process the on-line orders, and we would have to start all over and try again. When we called NCL with this problem, we were told that they are in the process of upgrading their website (really, for the last 6 months?)
Once on board, you must pay $ 15-$20 corkage fee per bottle of wine (depends on size) for ANY wine you bring onboard. Every other cruise line I have been on will let you board with 2 bottles for your stateroom for "free", but NCL doesn't care where your going to drink it, it still equals a fee for them. There is also a $ 7.95 service charge for room service, unless you want a bread/muffin and coffee (no fruit, just juice) then it is free. The bar, speciality restaurants, spa etc. is a automatic 18% service fee, and daily gradtitutes of $ 13.50 pp on top of that.
In the staterooms, there is no hair conditioner or body lotion available. There is only 1 bath towel per person, and we were never given turn down service for 14 nights. So much for being pampered on vacation, and having the usual tolietries available in the cabin. The speciality restaurants are only "average" except for Cagney's Steakhouse, which is worth the extra fee. The overall food in the buffet and dining room is nothing special (fair to poor rating) and the same entrees are repeated many times during the cruise. The cookies were like rocks, and tasted like they had been frozen, and then defrosted and were stale. The ship looks sad and worn, and I understand they are going to change some areas next month (mentioned during the Cruise Critic party), but the entire ship really needs a facelift. The entertainment area had a few good shows, but half of the time was nothing special to see or hear. The ship lacked interesting activities, and I was quite happy that we only had 2 sea days!
We understand that NCL has its new ship "Escape" coming out in a few months, and were told about this many times during our cruise. That said, after this experience, we will not be boarding anymore NCL cruises in the future.
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