When you live in Minnesota, the idea of a winter getaway to someplace warm is extremely appealing. We were six - my wife, her two older brothers, and her 91-year old parents and myself. And we booked last-minute - Jan 9 for the Jan 22 departure. Three to a cabin gets cozy, but my in-laws really should have a chaperone, and I can put up with one brother-in-law in the bed above me for a week - it's not like we're in our cabin much except to sleep. We're not big drinkers, we were not planning to take any of NCL's offered shore excursions, and dining in the specialty restaurants would only appeal to half of our group, so we took advantage NCL's 3rd person in the cabin for "free" offer, and saved a few C-notes. Booked directly with NCL by phone, and managed to get two cabins adjacent to one another.
This was our 3rd Western Caribbean cruise on NCL cruise out of New Orleans, and, just as we did previously, we drove down. Spent the Saturday night before boarding taking in some of the entertainment on Bourbon St, and boarded the Dawn about noon on Sunday. Embarkation went very smoothly and quickly; we dropped our carry-on luggage in our rooms and headed down to the main dining room for lunch.
Norwegian's IX, ID, and IF (inside) cabins are tiny but adequate. My only complaint is the placement of the TV at the end of the upper bed - you cant watch it from either that bed or the bed below. Shower pressure was fine, but I had to temperatures shown on the temperature-adjusting knob in the shower were probably 10-15°C higher than the actual water temperature. Beds were comfortable.
The food was
The ship itself is interesting; its layout unlike any of the other NCL ships we've cruised on (Jade, Jewel, Sun, and Spirit). Somewhat disappointingly, the main (Bliss) lounge is located at the back of the ship and lacks windows. Although the Dawn is a large ship, it somehow feels more intimate than the Jewel and Jade. I particularly like the view of the staircase from Deck 8 to Deck 7 from the back end of O'Sheehans.
The best food I had onboard the Dawn was in Le Bistro. My wife and I are 2/3 of the half of the group that appreciate better food, and we're also Platinum Latitudes members, so we each got a dinner for two (with a bottle of wine!) in either Le Bistro or La Cucina. We went to Le Bistro one night, and she took one of her brothers another night. My meal was excellent, but not excellent enough that I'd pay $45 for it when I've already paid for my meal in the main dining room - that's just me; you might just do it. No complaints about the food in the dining room, but it's not up to the level of the meal in Le Bistro. Ordinarily, I'd say the food at the buffet isn't up to the level of that in the dining room, but this was not always true. Let me put it this way - I never went hungry, and I never felt like I could get better food at Applebee's.
The entertainment was excellent. New (at least to me), and so much better than the standard comedian act, was the SCTV show. Definitely one of the highlights, along with the production cast's Elements show. Lounge music was decent and well-attended, too.
Some cruise, I'm going to select a cabin that's one of the first made up by my housekeeper, instead of being toward the end of his/her(?) set of rooms. Never ran out of clean towels, and always had a towel animal on the bed at bedtime - what more can I really ask for?
We've been to Cozumel and Roatan before, but Costa Maya and Harvest Caye were new. Took in the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben at Costa Maya. Didn't do the ship excursion - took the tram into Mahahual, then grabbed a taxi to the ruins. Essentially the same tour for half the price. Stopped on the way back to the ship for a bottle of pineapple juice from one of the stalls along the highway. YUM!!! Harvest Caye looked and felt like a beach resort, and is clearly still a work in progress. It was my turn to babysit the in-laws, so I didn't get to see everything.
Would I go again? Definitely