I cruised on the NCL's Dawn to Bermuda during hurricane season and loved it!
This was my first cruise and I cruised with 3 other couples. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) updated us as they learned of the information of the impending storms and through social media, encouraged us that they had our safety as their highest concern. I had a sea sick patch and the other couples used motion sickness wrist bands to handle the gentle tossing of the ship. Both were effective. One of the couples didn't use anything and didn't have a problem. Even though we were the only ship to make it to Bermuda in between Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole, the ship really didn't rock all of that much! We did need to leave 8 hours early to avoid Nicole which struck Bermuda head on as a Catagory 4 Hurricane, but anticipating that we might need to leave early, we did arrive 3 hours earlier than anticipated, giving us a full first day as well as a full 2nd day. This, in fact, worked much better than a 1/2 first day, a full second day and a 1/2 third day. Locals projected that we would leave early, and veteran cruisers anticipated it. I was surprised, but rolled with it, just being glad that NCL was taking care of us.
We arrived on the island on Sunday, a day in which the shops are closed. The Royal Naval Shipyard had plenty to do, however, we rented scooters and off we went to explore Bermuda! First we went to Horseshoe Bay Beach, but so did everyone else! The riptides were particularly strong (due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew) and everyone was mostly sunning on the beach. One of our friends remembered from a past visit, a small cove nearby - Jobson's Cove Beach, a tiny, rock enclosed cove on South Shore in Warwick. Whereas I could not even stand in knee high water in Horseshoe bay due to the riptides, the cove provided a wonderfully safe shelter to swim, float and snorkel. And wow, was it magical!!! I couldn't believe that we found this! On our particular Sunday morning, we were the only visitors. There were amazing rocks to climb, water to safely swim in and sandy private spaces to enjoy. The large boulders completely surrounded the cove, breaking the riptide. By mid-day, one local family joined us, but that was it. At one point we looked up and saw folk on horseback riding by. Later we took our scooters and rode to Hamilton, the capital city. In Hamilton, we had a blast at the Hamilton Street Party filled with local food vendors and live music. It is intended to offer Bermudians the opportunity to enjoy each other and to buy local. Locals were welcoming and we had a blast. We did dash into a local grocery store which was open to purchase some fresh fruit to eat before we returned to the ship.
Monday brought more touring on the scooters... we rode up and down the entire chain of islands. Having ridden to Hamilton the day before, on the second day, we chose to take the Hamilton ferry to get our day started. The ferry accommodates both passengers and scooters, but you need to purchase a second token for your scooter. We explored the island from Hamilton to St George. St George is not to be missed! The historic churches and architecture are beautiful, The shops are so warm and welcoming. And the beaches - so inviting. We stopped to eat at Wahoo's Bistro and Patio,a local favorite, and the fish chowder was amazing. At this time of year, we had our choice of seats with great views. We took a break from the rain (the weather changes often in Bermuda in October, but not to worry, the bad weather never lasted long) and ate inside while enjoying the picturesque view of the ocean. We took our time scootering back to the ship. Traffic was a little scary for me, a first time scooter driver. However, the locals were very patient and it really wasn't that difficult driving on the left side of the road. You really do get used to it! We returned to the ship for a late night dinner and some more great entertainment. At this point, the captain still believed that we would be departing at 5:30pm Tuesday.
At 8am Tuesday, I was awakened with an announcement that the ship would be leaving port at 9am. Apparently, everyone was still on board. NCL Dawn worked with the local scooter company to return our scooters and keys. We stayed on board while the scooter company sent a box to collect our keys. This was particularly nice, because renting a scooter was not a "NCL Excursion" but they worked with us anyway. By 10am, our Cruise Director had rearranged a full line up of activities for us including some standard favorites as well as some new activities. I particularly enjoyed the wine and chocolate pairings, the martini tasting, BINGO and "Who Wants to Be a Bizzillionaire". This was particularly important, because not only were we now on the ship (verses being on land), but we were also limited to staying inside the ship and not using the decks and pools due to high winds. There were still plenty of places to sit and enjoy the majestic views, but frankly, I had so much fun, that I hardly even noticed! To me, it was a terrific bonus day on the ship!
Being a first time cruiser, I have strong expectations. However, I did not expect that by the end of the cruise, the staff and fellow passengers would all feel like one big club. Between cruising with my friends from my hometown, my new friends though cruise critic and my delightfully unexpected newest friends that I met on the ship, I had plenty to enjoy. I never was bored and could have wished for even more time on both the ship and at port. A week isn't nearly long enough! As for the hurricane weather, well, the hurricanes worried more of my friends back home than anyone on the ship - for we were having too much fun!
I had a handicap accessible obstructed oceanview length-wise cabin. I was both close to the AFT elevators which were rarely crowded and easily accessible to most of the main spaces. The AFT elevators brought you directly to The Venetian Dining, Bliss Lounge, The Wine Lounge, The Spa and The Fitness Center. Cabin 8122 is on the STARBOARD side and only 2 doors away from O'Sheehan's Pub - very close to enjoy the Pub but not too close that the noise would bother you. On the other side of the pub are the main elevators which bring you to all of the rest of the public spaces. These elevators were often crowded, but at least they weren't very far away!
Although classified as Obstructed Oceanview, you get a clear beautiful view of the ocean, just looking over the lifeboats. If sitting on the bed or in a chair, you don't even see the lifeboat - just the ocean. Only once did I see anyone outside of the cabin, and they were part of the work crew. The crew's head was below my window so I didn't feel like anyone could be looking in on me. The cabin has one additional bunk, if needed and a trundle bed under the bed allowing up to 4 guests to stay in the room. To make the most room, I pushed both beds all the way to the wall closest to the door and under the secured bunk. This enabled me to place the 2 chairs and small table under the Oceanview window and create a nice space for my friends and I to enjoy visiting with one another. This pattern also makes more space to move around the cabin in a wheelchair and is easiest to use the vanity at the far end. However, this does result in one person not having direct access to get in and out of bed. The bathroom was spacious with a roll-in shower. There were plenty of grab bars around the sink, toilet, shower and on the door which opened into the bedroom. One surprising thing is that the room is equipped with emergency buttons throughout the cabin. I inadvertently hit one and the crew quickly followed up with me. They were pleasant and helpful. There is a viewing hole at both standing and sitting heights. Additionally, there is a handicap accessible closet rod which can pull the closet rod down to sitting level and raise it up again to secure the clothes in the closet.
There is only ONE outlet that is 110volts and it is on the complete OPPOSITE end of the cabin from the bed. I did bring an extra power strip, however it wasn't long enough to reach my CPap by the bed. (Remember, this is a lengthwise cabin) Guest Services had an additional extension cord for me to use with my CPap machine, however, it would be best if you brought your own. I am told that often they run out of available cords to use if you don't request one right awayl The additional power strip is still very helpful for various electrical devices. The provided hair dryer is great and there isn't a need to bring your own.
For 2 people, there was plenty of storage: a closet, 8 open shelves (4 each on each side of the closet), small closed space above the vanity and 3 open shelves to the side of the vanity, and 3 small drawers in the unit that houses the mini fridge and the safe. There is space under one bed. For more than 2 people, storage will be tight and should be planned for accordingly.
I found the metal door and the metal exterior wall very helpful in using heavy magnetic hooks, One customer before me used command strip hooks. I used the hooks to hang hats, towels, keys, and various papers with itineraries and tickets. Not only did it help me to stay organized, it also was fun to "decorate" my cabin!
If you are of limited mobility, with or without a scooter/wheelchair, this room is in a perfect location. It's on a short quiet hall, near elevators and the pub. What more could you ask for?!