We chose this cruise for the ports of call & mostly they did not disappoint. Many other things however, did. We have cruised on many different cruise lines, but this was our 1st time on NCL - it will probably be our last. The port excursions we booked independently were well organised, unlike the 2 we booked through NCL, which were chaos. Passengers were milling around with little or no information given and delays were the norm. On a trip to Perce from Gaspe, passengers were left standing in pouring rain with no shelter for over 45 minutes and there was total confusion regarding which bus to board as some were told to look for the same number bus, while others were to look for the same on-board guide.
The buffet was very lacklustre and food often lukewarm, even when it hadn't been standing long. Salads were boring, with little variation in ingredients. The best salad buffet was in the Brazilian speciality restaurant. We paid for 5 meal speciality dining, but wish we hadn't bothered. Compared with other cruise lines speciality dining on the Dawn is not very special. Cagney's is quite good but our first fillet steak was served cold and had to be sent back. Food in the complimentary Venetian and Bamboo restaurants was good, but our 1st experience of Bamboo was a shambles, as soup arrived before the appetisers, then our entree arrived when we had just started on our appetisers. We got the feeling the staff were looking for an early finish. Luckily our next experience was much better and the food good. This is also the 1st cruise line which has charged us for room-service, apart from a basic coffee & muffin, which was free. However, our order arrived promptly, whenever we did order.
NCL's website needs a lot of work, it is not user friendly and lacks information especially re: onboard entertainment which mean't we missed some of the better shows because we had dining reservations which clashed with them and they were only on once during the cruise. Show times changed often, sometimes only 1 showtime, sometimes 2 but only 2 hours apart at 7 & 9 pm, and sometimes 2 different shows on same night, so no chance to make the most of the onboard entertainment. Also, details in the daily activity sheet were often incorrect. Crew were mostly very friendly, helpful and efficient, and our Room Steward Russell was excellent, but management needs to get its act together as organisation left a lot to be desired.
This was a back-to-back cruise & we had an overnight in Quebec. On returning to the ship after spending the evening ashore, we found the one (quite steep) gangway blocked by some very elderly passengers. Their flight had been delayed and on a very cold evening they were trying unsuccessfully to pull their luggage up the gangway in order to board the ship. There were no crew available to help them and my husband and other passengers returning to the ship had to pull their luggage up the gangway and also help them to walk up the steep slope. I have never seen such blatant disregard for passenger's welfare on any cruise line. Need I say more, I don't think so. Some of the Dawn's crew did tell us that no other NCL ship is so badly organised, but we are not sure we want to take a chance.
Disembarking was also chaotic, passengers disembarking and embarking were in the same area and the queue for taxis to the airport was blocked constantly by porters trying to put luggage on board. After an hour, when disembarking passengers were getting more & more frustrated, someone took matters into their own hands & organized coaches returning to the ship to take passengers to the airport. Not sure if anyone missed flights because of the chaos, but it was a possibility.
The cabin was fairly small and made up as a double it left very little space around the bed, we managed by pushing 1 table under the dressing table or my husband would have had to climb over the bed to get to the bathroom. Bathroom not a bad size, good size & powerful shower, but not enough storage in bathroom or the cabin in general. The bed was very comfortable but it was also the only place to sit. Fairly quiet cabin and we heard very little noise from the Aqua dining room above or the crew area next door.