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My husband and I cruised on the Norwegian Dawn to Bermuda last week (May 3, 2009). I am 32 and my husband is 38. This was our first cruise with Norwegian. Together, we have cruised once on Carnival. My husband has cruised with his family on Carnival and Celebrity. I found the Cruise Critic website when I was searching for reviews of the Norwegian Dawn and my husband and I had a lovely cruise thanks to all of your reviews. We knew exactly what to search out and what to avoid before we even boarded. Thanks to everyone who posted a review. They were invaluable. Embarkation: We live 15 minutes from NYC, so my in-laws dropped us off at the pier at 11:00 a.m. We left our 4 bags with the baggage handler (as well as a nice tip) and headed into the terminal. Not many passengers were arriving this early, so there really weren't any lines to wait on. There was more than enough terminal and Norwegian staff to usher us from one step to the next. The whole process took about 15 minutes. We were given a Freestyle Daily and directed to a waiting area until boarding began at 12:15. When we stepped on board, we were warmly greeted with our choice of champagne or orange juice. My husband and I found our way to the Venetian (main dining room) and sat down to a lovely lunch with our champagne still in hand. By dessert, the announcement was made that the cabins were ready (about 1:30). Stateroom: Our cabin was a mid-ship obstructed oceanview on deck 8. I had purchased the Anniversary Package (more on that later) and a bottle of chilled champagne and 5 small chocolate covered strawberries were waiting on the table for us. The cabin was very clean. The size was a bit of a shock at first but we quickly got used to the small accommodations. There is a lot of storage space - very large closet with space for hanging things and shelves inside, 6 drawers for clothes, quite a few shelves scattered around. We managed to find space for all of our things (and we are heavy packers). Our 4 suitcases all fit inside one another and took up only half of bottom of the closet. The bathroom was a nice size and there was plenty of storage space for toiletries, one shelf over the sink and two below. Our cabin stewards, Reginald and his assistant, Sammy?, introduced themselves within the first few minutes of our arrival. We were always greeted by name and we always received a friendly hello from our stewards. The guys did a wonderful job and any request that we made was taken care of immediately. We got towel animals 4 of the 7 nights and cabin was made up and turned down every day and night. We never had to request fresh towels. Reginald was right on top of everything. From reading reviews prior to sailing, we knew to bring an adaptor since there is only one American outlet and our travel alarm clock/sound machine. Always make sure that the curtains are closed prior to changing because (trust us) the staff do check those life boats. One thing to note, there is a lot of creaking and tapping in the cabin. Light sleepers, I suggest bringing a sound machine. We used ours every night and still heard noises throughout the night. We both found the bed to be very comfortable. Dining: Overall, we were very satisfied with the food and the selections. We did our research prior to sailing, so we fully expected the additional charges for specialty restaurants and planned accordingly. We were surprised by the number of children on this cruise. Being that is was the first week of May and not near any school break, I would say that there were more children than we expected. I can honestly say that we did not have even one meal (including the specialty restaurants) where children were not present at tables directly next to us or tables close by. The Venetian is the main dining room and has no charge. We had 1 lunch, 1 dinner, and 3 breakfasts here. Dinner was on lobster night and the portion was very small, but I'm sure that we could have asked for another serving. Other reviewers had said that the service was slow. I didn't find the service to be slow, but did notice that the servers were not as friendly as in specialty restaurants. The chilled fruit soups were very good (except for the carrot and orange - trust me on this). A small thing that did get on our nerves quite a bit was that if you asked for condiments, the server would apply it for you. My husband asked for ketchup and the server returned with a bowl of ketchup and spooned it onto his plate. I asked for syrup and the server returned with the syrup and without asking poured it on my pancakes as well as my omelette and bacon. The next morning, a different server tried to do the same thing. Who puts syrup on an omelette? The Garden Cafe is the buffet and also has no charge. We ate 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 1 dinner here. It was typical buffet food and with a large selection. The pizza was awesome here. Expect a fair amount of aggravation due to the general rudeness of some passengers. There will be line cutting. It will be loud. It will be crowded. So just brace yourself, because there is some good food to be had. The Chocolate Buffet was a madhouse. It started at 10:00, but by that time, the line was already into the hall and up the stairwell. Many people had to take their plates elsewhere due to the large number of people who were done eating but chose to linger at tables chatting away over empty plates while others wandered about looking for a place to sit. The Blue Lagoon is the 24 hour diner and also has no charge. We ate 1 lunch and a snack here. I had read great reviews about their buffalo wings. My husband is a buffalo wing addict and was very excited by the prospect of 24 hour access to unlimited wings. He didn't care for the first order of wings. His description of the sauce was "hot ketchup". A few days later, he tried again and was disappointed again. There was not much seating at the Blue Lagoon and it was always packed, so we mainly stuck with the buffet for snacking. We had 2 lunches at the Bimini Bar. It is outside on deck 13 and there is no charge. The view is spectacular. You can get hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken sandwiches, fries, and soft pretzels here. Great place to order one of the beer buckets (buy 5 beers get 1 free). Bamboo was our favorite of the specialty restaurants ($15 per person). We ate here twice. The ribs were by far the best food that we had in any of the restaurants. They were an appetizer, but when we dined here for the second time, they let us have a larger order as an entree. The egg drop soup with corn was wonderful too. Service here was awesome. Dinner for two at Le Bistro was included in the Anniversary Package that I had purchased. A complimentary bottle of house wine was also included, our choice of the house merlot or chardonnay. We both had the beef tenderloin which was very tender and the french onion soup which was by far the best I have ever had. We finished off with the chocolate fondue for two which was fun. The one problem that we had with Le Bistro was that we had to wait even though we had a reservation. Additional seating for this restaurant is near the piano bar in the hallway outside. After waiting for 15 minutes, we were shown to a table in the outside section. It was noisy and you were on display to everyone passing in the hallway. We told the hostess that we did not want to sit in this section as this was supposed to be our romantic anniversary dinner. We were sent back to the piano bar to wait for a table inside and were seated 20 minutes later. We ate at Salsa one night ($10 per person). You get a small complimentary margarita which my husband enjoyed. We also got the sangria - the glass is huge and it was so good. Every table starts off with chips, salsa, and guacamole. Our server, Love, was wonderful - so pleasant and cheerful. One of the best servers we had. She definitely lived up to her name. I was a little disappointed with the lobster tacos that I ordered, but I think that it was just that I could not get a taste for lobster in this way. Everything else was great. On our last night, we ate at Impressions ($10 per person). Our servers, Jeanne and Dormalee, were so nice to us. This was one of our best meals on board. Food and service were impeccable. The anti paste trolley was a great way to start the meal and the pasta was very good. There was way too much food for us to possibly finish, so Jeanne and Dormalee had us take the pizza back with us. Entertainment: On our Carnival cruise, we did not see any of the shows, so I don't really have anything to compare these with. We went to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show featuring the comedian Dave Heenan. Not really our type of comedy. I would classify it as old school. The seniors seemed to like it. Band on the Run and Bollywood with the Jean Ann Ryan Co. were great. I have no idea how they did all of those things with the boat rocking the way it was. It didn't seem to effect them in the least. We saw the Second City Show which we loved. If you like SNL type comedy, I think you will enjoy it. The seniors did not care for it. My husband and I were appalled at how rude people were. I would say that about one third of the audience had walked out within the first half hour. We didn't care for Dave Heenan's act, but we stayed seated and showed some respect to the performer and the rest of the audience. The Not-So Newlywed Game was very funny. We also went to the Liar's Club at the Spinnaker Lounge which was just okay. Activities: I played Bingo at 4 of the Bingo sessions. There are 4 games to each session. It was a lot of fun and I would have played more if it wasn't so expensive. You have a choice of 3 or 4 packages each time you play, the cheapest being 6 cards for each of the 4 games. This costs $34. There are also the packages that come with the electronic bingo card where you get over 100 cards for each game. This was $89. I spent $216 on the 4 Bingo sessions. Ouch. Oh, and get there early for a seat. And, as always, expect screaming babies. We also played trivia quite a bit. We did a few of the morning and afternoon games as well as the Progressive Trivia most nights. Kevin, who runs the trivia, was awesome and everyone had a lot of fun with him. Kevin always stopped to chat with us and we soon felt like old friends. Kevin also ran the Shout it Out Movie Challenge in the Cinema and it seemed like a good time was had by all. Thanks for everything, Kevin! My husband did the Beers of the World tasting at the Pearly Kings Pub ($15 charge) and had a great time. We did the Italian Wine Tasting at Impressions($15 per person) and enjoyed that quite a bit. They served cheese and crackers and a large amount of wine for a tasting. We both left a little tipsy. My husband did the Wii Boxing Tournament and we went to a Watch Seminar and a few different raffles (never won anything) which were okay to pass some time. We also spent quite a bit of time and money in the casino. The best time to go was during the early show when it was almost empty. I did okay on the slots by pretty much breaking even. My husband was not so lucky with the table games. Shore Excursions: We did 4 excursions. All were booked online a few months prior to sailing. It was very easy and we had our pick of excursions. We did the "Wild West Kayak Adventure" ($71 per person). This was 2 miles of kayaking in some pretty rough water and cameras had to be left behind. My husband and I are 38 and 32. We were popping Advil for 2 days after this excursion. Be prepared. You have to be in really good shape for this one. We did the "Bermuda Triangle Night Glass Bottom Boat"($49 per person). This was our favorite by far. Our captain was funny and entertaining and you got a complimentary rum swizzle on the ride back. We did the "South Shore & Horseshoe Beach"($69 per person). This was also a good one and I think worth the price. We had 2 hours of touring in the air conditioned bus with brief stops at a small church and Gibb's Lighthouse and then 2 hours at Horseshoe Bay. The "Aquarium, Caves & Highlights" ($92 per person) was awful. Advertised as 4 hours with ferry transportation included, what we got was a 2 hour 45 minute tour and we had to purchase our own ferry tickets at $12 per person. I notified the excursion desk and after 5 days of back and forth, was told to contact Customer Relations upon our return. The one thing on this trip that we were severely disappointed with was the staff at the shore excursions desk. To say they were rude does not even begin to cover our treatment. Miscellaneous: As I had mentioned, my husband and I purchased the Anniversary Package for $79. This includes dinner for 2 at Le Bistro with choice of a bottle of the house merlot or chardonnay, the bottle of champagne and 5 small chocolate covered strawberries, 5 very small canapes that were left in our cabin on Friday night, the Honeymoon/Anniversary Champagne and Cake Party which consisted of a small piece of sheet cake and a single glass of champagne (no refills), and a 5 x 7 picture taken at the party in front of the Congratulations sheet cake. The "party" lasted about ½ hour. Personally, I didn't feel like this was worth the $79, but you be the judge.Weather/Sea Conditions:  The two days at sea prior to reaching Bermuda were a little rough.  I had my motion sickness patch on and was fine.  On the way back to NY, the water was very rough.  I felt a little queasy even with the patch and my husband (who never gets seasick) had to pick up some dramamine in the gift shop.  Weather in Bermuda was very windy the entire time.  The air temperature was in the mid 70s and the water was probably around 70 (a little too chilly for my taste).  Jellyfish (including Man of War) were plentiful at Horseshoe Bay.  Be careful. Disembarkation: We chose the latest possible disembarkation time (10:00 a.m.) because we wanted to have breakfast onboard and have plenty of time to get all of our things in order. We could have left earlier with no problem at all. Since your suitcases have to be put outside your cabin the night before you disembark, almost everything is in order already. We had a very early breakfast at the Garden Cafe because we forgot to turn our clock ahead even though our steward left us a reminder the night before. We then wandered around for a few hours with nothing to do but wait for our time to disembark. Once our color tag was called, we were off the boat and picking out our luggage very quickly. A friend picked us up right at the pier and we were back home 15 minutes later. With a very severe case of the post-vacation blues. Summary: Overall, we had a great time on NCL. The few bad things did not outweigh the good. We would love to cruise on NCL in the future!

A very long review on Norwegian Dawn to Bermuda 5-3-09

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by 2NattyFans

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2009
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Obstructed Oceanview
My husband and I cruised on the Norwegian Dawn to Bermuda last week (May 3, 2009). I am 32 and my husband is 38. This was our first cruise with Norwegian. Together, we have cruised once on Carnival. My husband has cruised with his family on Carnival and Celebrity. I found the Cruise Critic website when I was searching for reviews of the Norwegian Dawn and my husband and I had a lovely cruise thanks to all of your reviews. We knew exactly what to search out and what to avoid before we even boarded. Thanks to everyone who posted a review. They were invaluable.
Embarkation: We live 15 minutes from NYC, so my in-laws dropped us off at the pier at 11:00 a.m. We left our 4 bags with the baggage handler (as well as a nice tip) and headed into the terminal. Not many passengers were arriving this early, so there really weren't any lines to wait on. There was more than enough terminal and Norwegian staff to usher us from one step to the next. The whole process took about 15 minutes. We were given a Freestyle Daily and directed to a waiting area until boarding began at 12:15. When we stepped on board, we were warmly greeted with our choice of champagne or orange juice. My husband and I found our way to the Venetian (main dining room) and sat down to a lovely lunch with our champagne still in hand. By dessert, the announcement was made that the cabins were ready (about 1:30).
Stateroom: Our cabin was a mid-ship obstructed oceanview on deck 8. I had purchased the Anniversary Package (more on that later) and a bottle of chilled champagne and 5 small chocolate covered strawberries were waiting on the table for us. The cabin was very clean. The size was a bit of a shock at first but we quickly got used to the small accommodations. There is a lot of storage space - very large closet with space for hanging things and shelves inside, 6 drawers for clothes, quite a few shelves scattered around. We managed to find space for all of our things (and we are heavy packers). Our 4 suitcases all fit inside one another and took up only half of bottom of the closet. The bathroom was a nice size and there was plenty of storage space for toiletries, one shelf over the sink and two below. Our cabin stewards, Reginald and his assistant, Sammy?, introduced themselves within the first few minutes of our arrival. We were always greeted by name and we always received a friendly hello from our stewards. The guys did a wonderful job and any request that we made was taken care of immediately. We got towel animals 4 of the 7 nights and cabin was made up and turned down every day and night. We never had to request fresh towels. Reginald was right on top of everything. From reading reviews prior to sailing, we knew to bring an adaptor since there is only one American outlet and our travel alarm clock/sound machine. Always make sure that the curtains are closed prior to changing because (trust us) the staff do check those life boats. One thing to note, there is a lot of creaking and tapping in the cabin. Light sleepers, I suggest bringing a sound machine. We used ours every night and still heard noises throughout the night. We both found the bed to be very comfortable.
Dining: Overall, we were very satisfied with the food and the selections. We did our research prior to sailing, so we fully expected the additional charges for specialty restaurants and planned accordingly. We were surprised by the number of children on this cruise. Being that is was the first week of May and not near any school break, I would say that there were more children than we expected. I can honestly say that we did not have even one meal (including the specialty restaurants) where children were not present at tables directly next to us or tables close by.
The Venetian is the main dining room and has no charge. We had 1 lunch, 1 dinner, and 3 breakfasts here. Dinner was on lobster night and the portion was very small, but I'm sure that we could have asked for another serving. Other reviewers had said that the service was slow. I didn't find the service to be slow, but did notice that the servers were not as friendly as in specialty restaurants. The chilled fruit soups were very good (except for the carrot and orange - trust me on this). A small thing that did get on our nerves quite a bit was that if you asked for condiments, the server would apply it for you. My husband asked for ketchup and the server returned with a bowl of ketchup and spooned it onto his plate. I asked for syrup and the server returned with the syrup and without asking poured it on my pancakes as well as my omelette and bacon. The next morning, a different server tried to do the same thing. Who puts syrup on an omelette?
The Garden Cafe is the buffet and also has no charge. We ate 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 1 dinner here. It was typical buffet food and with a large selection. The pizza was awesome here. Expect a fair amount of aggravation due to the general rudeness of some passengers. There will be line cutting. It will be loud. It will be crowded. So just brace yourself, because there is some good food to be had. The Chocolate Buffet was a madhouse. It started at 10:00, but by that time, the line was already into the hall and up the stairwell. Many people had to take their plates elsewhere due to the large number of people who were done eating but chose to linger at tables chatting away over empty plates while others wandered about looking for a place to sit.
The Blue Lagoon is the 24 hour diner and also has no charge. We ate 1 lunch and a snack here. I had read great reviews about their buffalo wings. My husband is a buffalo wing addict and was very excited by the prospect of 24 hour access to unlimited wings. He didn't care for the first order of wings. His description of the sauce was "hot ketchup". A few days later, he tried again and was disappointed again. There was not much seating at the Blue Lagoon and it was always packed, so we mainly stuck with the buffet for snacking.
We had 2 lunches at the Bimini Bar. It is outside on deck 13 and there is no charge. The view is spectacular. You can get hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken sandwiches, fries, and soft pretzels here. Great place to order one of the beer buckets (buy 5 beers get 1 free).
Bamboo was our favorite of the specialty restaurants ($15 per person). We ate here twice. The ribs were by far the best food that we had in any of the restaurants. They were an appetizer, but when we dined here for the second time, they let us have a larger order as an entree. The egg drop soup with corn was wonderful too. Service here was awesome.
Dinner for two at Le Bistro was included in the Anniversary Package that I had purchased. A complimentary bottle of house wine was also included, our choice of the house merlot or chardonnay. We both had the beef tenderloin which was very tender and the french onion soup which was by far the best I have ever had. We finished off with the chocolate fondue for two which was fun. The one problem that we had with Le Bistro was that we had to wait even though we had a reservation. Additional seating for this restaurant is near the piano bar in the hallway outside. After waiting for 15 minutes, we were shown to a table in the outside section. It was noisy and you were on display to everyone passing in the hallway. We told the hostess that we did not want to sit in this section as this was supposed to be our romantic anniversary dinner. We were sent back to the piano bar to wait for a table inside and were seated 20 minutes later.
We ate at Salsa one night ($10 per person). You get a small complimentary margarita which my husband enjoyed. We also got the sangria - the glass is huge and it was so good. Every table starts off with chips, salsa, and guacamole. Our server, Love, was wonderful - so pleasant and cheerful. One of the best servers we had. She definitely lived up to her name. I was a little disappointed with the lobster tacos that I ordered, but I think that it was just that I could not get a taste for lobster in this way. Everything else was great.
On our last night, we ate at Impressions ($10 per person). Our servers, Jeanne and Dormalee, were so nice to us. This was one of our best meals on board. Food and service were impeccable. The anti paste trolley was a great way to start the meal and the pasta was very good. There was way too much food for us to possibly finish, so Jeanne and Dormalee had us take the pizza back with us.
Entertainment: On our Carnival cruise, we did not see any of the shows, so I don't really have anything to compare these with. We went to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show featuring the comedian Dave Heenan. Not really our type of comedy. I would classify it as old school. The seniors seemed to like it. Band on the Run and Bollywood with the Jean Ann Ryan Co. were great. I have no idea how they did all of those things with the boat rocking the way it was. It didn't seem to effect them in the least. We saw the Second City Show which we loved. If you like SNL type comedy, I think you will enjoy it. The seniors did not care for it. My husband and I were appalled at how rude people were. I would say that about one third of the audience had walked out within the first half hour. We didn't care for Dave Heenan's act, but we stayed seated and showed some respect to the performer and the rest of the audience. The Not-So Newlywed Game was very funny. We also went to the Liar's Club at the Spinnaker Lounge which was just okay.
Activities: I played Bingo at 4 of the Bingo sessions. There are 4 games to each session. It was a lot of fun and I would have played more if it wasn't so expensive. You have a choice of 3 or 4 packages each time you play, the cheapest being 6 cards for each of the 4 games. This costs $34. There are also the packages that come with the electronic bingo card where you get over 100 cards for each game. This was $89. I spent $216 on the 4 Bingo sessions. Ouch. Oh, and get there early for a seat. And, as always, expect screaming babies. We also played trivia quite a bit. We did a few of the morning and afternoon games as well as the Progressive Trivia most nights. Kevin, who runs the trivia, was awesome and everyone had a lot of fun with him. Kevin always stopped to chat with us and we soon felt like old friends. Kevin also ran the Shout it Out Movie Challenge in the Cinema and it seemed like a good time was had by all. Thanks for everything, Kevin! My husband did the Beers of the World tasting at the Pearly Kings Pub ($15 charge) and had a great time. We did the Italian Wine Tasting at Impressions($15 per person) and enjoyed that quite a bit. They served cheese and crackers and a large amount of wine for a tasting. We both left a little tipsy. My husband did the Wii Boxing Tournament and we went to a Watch Seminar and a few different raffles (never won anything) which were okay to pass some time. We also spent quite a bit of time and money in the casino. The best time to go was during the early show when it was almost empty. I did okay on the slots by pretty much breaking even. My husband was not so lucky with the table games.
Shore Excursions: We did 4 excursions. All were booked online a few months prior to sailing. It was very easy and we had our pick of excursions. We did the "Wild West Kayak Adventure" ($71 per person). This was 2 miles of kayaking in some pretty rough water and cameras had to be left behind. My husband and I are 38 and 32. We were popping Advil for 2 days after this excursion. Be prepared. You have to be in really good shape for this one. We did the "Bermuda Triangle Night Glass Bottom Boat"($49 per person). This was our favorite by far. Our captain was funny and entertaining and you got a complimentary rum swizzle on the ride back. We did the "South Shore & Horseshoe Beach"($69 per person). This was also a good one and I think worth the price. We had 2 hours of touring in the air conditioned bus with brief stops at a small church and Gibb's Lighthouse and then 2 hours at Horseshoe Bay. The "Aquarium, Caves & Highlights" ($92 per person) was awful. Advertised as 4 hours with ferry transportation included, what we got was a 2 hour 45 minute tour and we had to purchase our own ferry tickets at $12 per person. I notified the excursion desk and after 5 days of back and forth, was told to contact Customer Relations upon our return. The one thing on this trip that we were severely disappointed with was the staff at the shore excursions desk. To say they were rude does not even begin to cover our treatment.
Miscellaneous: As I had mentioned, my husband and I purchased the Anniversary Package for $79. This includes dinner for 2 at Le Bistro with choice of a bottle of the house merlot or chardonnay, the bottle of champagne and 5 small chocolate covered strawberries, 5 very small canapes that were left in our cabin on Friday night, the Honeymoon/Anniversary Champagne and Cake Party which consisted of a small piece of sheet cake and a single glass of champagne (no refills), and a 5 x 7 picture taken at the party in front of the Congratulations sheet cake. The "party" lasted about ½ hour. Personally, I didn't feel like this was worth the $79, but you be the judge.Weather/Sea Conditions:  The two days at sea prior to reaching Bermuda were a little rough.  I had my motion sickness patch on and was fine.  On the way back to NY, the water was very rough.  I felt a little queasy even with the patch and my husband (who never gets seasick) had to pick up some dramamine in the gift shop.  Weather in Bermuda was very windy the entire time.  The air temperature was in the mid 70s and the water was probably around 70 (a little too chilly for my taste).  Jellyfish (including Man of War) were plentiful at Horseshoe Bay.  Be careful.
Disembarkation: We chose the latest possible disembarkation time (10:00 a.m.) because we wanted to have breakfast onboard and have plenty of time to get all of our things in order. We could have left earlier with no problem at all. Since your suitcases have to be put outside your cabin the night before you disembark, almost everything is in order already. We had a very early breakfast at the Garden Cafe because we forgot to turn our clock ahead even though our steward left us a reminder the night before. We then wandered around for a few hours with nothing to do but wait for our time to disembark. Once our color tag was called, we were off the boat and picking out our luggage very quickly. A friend picked us up right at the pier and we were back home 15 minutes later. With a very severe case of the post-vacation blues.
Summary: Overall, we had a great time on NCL. The few bad things did not outweigh the good. We would love to cruise on NCL in the future!
2NattyFans’s Full Rating Summary
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