Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by paulekrause
- Sail Date: July 2009
- Destination: Bermuda
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
This was my 5th time to Bermuda and second on the Dawn. We have cruised most of the popular cruise lines and have never had a bad cruise Did this same cruise on the Dawn in April '08 for our 30th wedding anniversary. This time we took the kids, if you can call them kids (16 and 21).
Although we enjoyed our first trip on the Dawn, this one was much improved, especially in number of available activities, quality of food, and service by the crew.
We left or home in Jersey City at 9:45 A.M. My sister drove us to the New York Waterway ferry for a quick trip to Manhattan. Pier 88 was only a short walk from there. At 10:30 we were in the check in line for Latitudes and were given boarding pass # 29, which seemed high to us. Embarkation picture taken, we were taken to the waiting area where we were guided to specific seats and told that the ship had arrived late and that this sailing would be greater than 100% occupancy. (This occurs when there are more than 2 to many cabins). So we sat down and talked with a nice family from CT.
Surprisingly, boarding started at 11:45 starting with the number 27. We were on board at 11:50 enjoying our welcome aboard OJ. We decided to wait for lunch at the Venetian which would open at 12:30. So we took our boys for a tour of the ship. Also stopped at the spa to buy the week long pass for my wife and me at $150... probably the best $150 spent on the ship. The spa is a little used oasis with a pool, hot tub, therapy pool, lounge chairs and hot and cold beverages, Each time you visit you get towels, a robe and a locker. A wonderfully relaxing place that we enjoyed each day of the cruise.
At 12:25 we headed to the Venetian for lunch and got a seat at the rear of the ship right by a window (we got the same table for breakfast on the last day of our cruise too). Starting the trip with a leisurely lunch beats the crowds at the buffet. The menu for lunch is the same each day and has really nice selections. I had chicken soup followed by fish and chips followed by ice cream. My wife Deb had Callamari. Alex had a grilled chicken sandwich which he said was dry, and Matthew had the Philly cheese steak. Other that the grilled chicken, everything was delicious. They have great fries on the Dawn.
After lunch it was off to the mini suite, which is in reality just a large balcony room. But there was plenty of room for the 4 of us, even with the sofa bed open. And there was good storage. Had our steward empty the fridge so we would have room for our Brita water bottles. Our TA had ordered a bottle of wine and chocolate strawberries for us. TV's on the Dawn are 13 inch tube type with not as many channels as other lines and no interactive options for excursions or seeing your bill. We also received an apology letter that our excursion for Friday was canceled and we had been place on the Wednesday trip instead. We decided to cancel. Thursday and Friday were national holidays in Bermuda (for the annual cricket Cup Match) and all businesses would be closed both days. We had planned Wednesday to see a shop things while they were open. Bermuda is so easy to get around and so easy to plan, you really don't need excursions at all. We had planned it for Friday figuring it would be nice to have something to do on the holiday, but really were fine without it.
After settling in our cabin we went to sign Matthew up for the teen program... a 4 page contract with contingencies for everything. You almost need a lawyer to figure it all out!
Alex signed up for the soda card which with tip costs $50 and change.
Muster was quick and painless in the theater. The sail away was pleasant, about 78 degrees and partly sunny. I heard that about an hour after we left, New York got some really nasty weather. glad we missed it. there is nothing like sailing out of New York. NCL does sail away right with a huge barbecue on the pool deck. Giant kettle grills with burgers, ht dogs, chicken, corn on the cob and a great fixings and salad bar.
After sail away it was time for dinner in Aqua. We were seated promptly and got our order in. My son Alex and I had the strip steak with green beans and baked potato. My wife had Cod and Matthew had roast chicken that was more like a chicken stew. Crab cake was our starter. It wasn't bad and had shell fragments so the crab was real. The steak was a pleasant surprise... cooked perfectly and sliced like butter, a major improvement over last year when any beef on the ship was like shoe leather. Over all the food quality at NCL has improved tremendously and can rival any line. Unfortunately the selection is limited and often too fancy, looking great, but having little substance. Fortunately you can order off menu. My boys ordered a melon plate as a starter each night and a side of fries with their dinner. The fries on the Dawn are excellent. For dessert my wife had key lime pie while the rest of us had some really good ice cream.
After dinner the boys went to the show while my wife and I enjoyed being on deck. We had seen all the shows in' '08 and they haven't changed. Dave Heenen, the comedian, is one of the worst I've ever heard. His self demeaning jokes are just lame and really not funny. Was disappointed he was still on the ship.
Turned clocks ahead one hour before turning in. The new bedding for freestyle 2.0 is a major improvement. It is the best I've slept on any of my 10 cruises. The moderate seas helped rock us to sleep. I love the motion of the ocean. There was some noise in the hallway as workers laid plastic the length of the hallway. All new carpeting had been installed the week before, but now they were going to take our hallway ceiling down and put in all new fresh water pipes. Seems like backwards planning to me. NCL sent us a notice that the work would be going on for several days. The workers would work 8 - 5 daily and were very courteous and friendly, always willing to move their stuff so you could move freely in the hallway. The passengers were their priority so this was not an inconvenience at all.
My credit card size pedometer tells me I walked 20,000 steps embarkation day.
Monday, our first full day at sea was 80 degrees, cloudy, with moderate to rough seas (4 -7.5 feet waves... no where near the 22-27 foot waves we had last year). I love sea days and we easily get into a routine. We woke up well rested at 7:30 A.M. and went to the Venetian for breakfast. The dining room menu for breakfast is very good in selection and food quality. service is top notch. The waffles and omelets are especially good. The baby grand electronic piano seems stuck on James Bond themes, except for one day when it was playing a Christmas carol.
After breakfast we walked the promenade. Four times around equals about a mile and a half. our boys went to see a movie. After walking we found chairs on the promenade to relax and read as the ocean went by. The old wood lounge chairs have been replaced with upright chars with a blue mesh type material. I read two books in two days while relaxing in these chairs.
Lunch was in the Garden Cafe. Variety is good here with hot dishes, a pasta bar, fresh fruits, a deli and more. Try the quesadias made with a tomato based tortillas. A dividing rope, like those in a bank ones separates the pasta station from the buffet line which helps speed things up. Food quality is average cafeteria, good and plentiful. Milk, and ice tea are available. I made lemonade each day using the lemons provided for the iced tea. There is also a kids buffet with macaroni and cheese and even spaghettios. Again a very helpful and hard working staff keep this area running smoothly.
In the afternoon we all took part in goofy golf, a small tournament put on by the CD staff in a lounge with putting cups. Alex then headed up to the sports deck and Matthew to the teen center. The teen program has numerous activities, but few participants. The teens just like hanging out together. Matthew chose what to go to and was with the group 'til midnight each night of the cruise. He did eat dinner and attend other activities with us. we went to the spa for the afternoon, the best kept secret on the ship, and a real bargain at $150 per couple for the week. Dinner in the Venetian was rack of lamb which was outstanding. My wife ordered the seafood extravaganza which had lobster, shrimp and more. It must have been good since she ordered it several times during the week. I enjoyed the asparagus soup and the Florida baked shrimp starters. Both were excellent. the shrimp is served i a special dish that was used for escargot until they discontinued that item due to lack of interest!
After dinner we attended the show "Band on the Run" together which is a typical cruise show and much too loud. Later we went to the Spinnaker lounge for a Beatles tribute. The harmonies were good, but the solos weak. You haven't really lived until you've heard a Beatles tribute by a Filipino group. The Dawn has a great variety of music every night. The only one we saw that was poorly attended was country/western on the very empty pool deck! We then went to the Blue Lagoon for some before bed snacking. Good comfort food. Turned in at 12:30. Only 9,000 steps this day.
Tuesday was very similar as we were now in a routine. Seas were moderate and it was sunny in the low 80's In the afternoon we attended a slight of hand card trick show in the movie theater. Gregg Gleason is a terrific magician. This should not be missed. The place was full, so if you go, get there early. There are always many activities from which to choose, but we often choose just to relax. We did go to the ice carving demonstration on the pool deck which was packed. Glad we didn't hang out there during the cruise. Again the spa is well worth the cost! We also bought one of the cruise certificates for our next cruise. At $250 with a $100 credit on your account and four years to book, this is a no brainer! Also spent some time planing our 3 days in Bermuda. 13,00 steps this day.
Woke up early on Wednesday to watch the arrival in Bermuda, our favorite port of any cruise. I love getting up for sail in as the sun comes up. Noticed a ship coming towards us in the Distance. Eventually it passed close by. It was the Norwegian Spirit leaving Bermuda to head back to Boston. I've been on it and it is a delightful ship. Watched us dock at the new Heritage Warf which is right next to King's Warf. Breakfast in the buffet was fine. We ate in the buffet so we could debark quicker. Got off at about 8:30. In the Heritage Warf building they have a visitor center where you can by transportation passes for the ferries and bus. Cost is $20 for 2 days or $28 for 3. Called my sister on my cell which I always do when I get to Bermuda. In past years that call would have been $1.29 per minute roaming. After hanging up I got a text welcoming me to Verizon International. That didn't happen in previous years. After getting home I checked my bill to see the costs and noticed that Verizon treated that call and my son's call to his girlfriend as part of our plan minutes with no roaming charge at all. What a pleasant surprise! If I knew that I might have made some more calls.
We took the 9:15 ferry to St. George's, visited a few sights and walked over to Tobacco Bay Beach, about a half mile away. Weather was 86 with clouds and sun, all sun in the afternoon. St. George's is a historic town with a number of interesting buildings. Tobacco Bay is a great Beach for families because it is shallow. It is also a great place for snorkeling. Walked back to St. George's for a reenactment of a criminal penalty called "the dunking chair". This reenactment is done at non on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Shopped a little before boarding the # 11 bus to Hamilton. This trip takes about 40 minutes and lets you get a good overview of the north side of the island. In Hamilton we did a little more shopping and had lunch at the Lobster Pot. Try the lobster,shrimp, crab cake sandwich or the Club Match. Both are terrific. Be aware Bermuda is expensive. A glass of Lemonade or a Coke is $5.50. Took the ferry back to the ship at around 3P.M. to relax at the spa before dinner. Since we wanted to return to Hamilton in the evening for Harbour Nights, a festival held every Wednesday, we decided to eat in the Garden Cafe to save time.
The festival is basically a street fare with vendors and a music stage. Quite crowded. Planned to take the 9 P.M. ferry back to the ship but, after waiting 30 minutes it filled up too quickly. had to wait until 9:45 for the special ship's ferry which was much larger. Didn't see this as a major problem, but many people did, getting upset and giving New York a bad name. Come on people, relax. You are on vacation!!
Went back to the ship and called it a night.
16,000 steps but it seemed like more
Thursday and Friday were national holidays in celebration of the "Cup Match" which is the cricket version of the Super Bowl. One Bermudan told us we could go, pay $10 to sit in the visitor section where the game would be explained to us, and we would be fed. Now that is hospitality! Try that at the Super Bowl! We did not attend the game because of our limited time in Bermuda and we had other plans. All transportation for those days would be on a limited Sunday schedule and all businesses and restaurants would be closed. having done our homework, we knew attractions would be open so we took an early ferry to Hamilton and walked to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute(BUEI). This is a fascinating museum with displays of underwater exploration. They also have a great sea shell exhibit, and this summer a limited number of Titanic artifacts (no where near like the incredible Titanic exhibit in Manhattan this summer). Cost is $12.50 for adults and $6 for kids under 17. Well worth it. After the museum we visited Par La Ville Park in Hamilton, a delightful oasis. then we took he ferry back to the ship. In the afternoon we walked around the dockyard and bought a few things in the clock tower mall.
Noticed one family boarding the ship who obviously missed departure in New York and flew down to join the ship. Also saw some crew leaving to fly to another sheep and a new spa crew board.
The evening on the ship included time in the spa, an excellent magic show with Gregg Gleason, and the chocoholic buffet. All the chocolate looks good, but isn't that special when it comes to taste.
16,000 steps again. I've gotten into a rut!
Friday was our last day in Bermuda, another sunny, hot day. Decided to skip the pedometer today. After a leisurely breakfast in Venetian, where the James Bond themes on the player piano were getting old, we took the bus marked "Special" directly to Horseshoe Bay Beach. You can take the # 7 bus, but that makes numerous stops. A fleet of "Special" buses await those from the ship at no additional charge other than the transportation pass. Horseshoe Bay is gorgeous. A large beach and many small cove beaches. The sand is firm and dense and easy to walk on. There are changing facilities and a snack bar. We spent the morning there and then went back to the ship for lunch before walking to Snorkel Park beach, a place we enjoy whenever in Bermuda. The place was packed!. Since it is within walking distance to the ship, many go there the last day so they won't have to rush back or worry about missing the ship.
About 3:30 P.M. we headed back to the ship to relax and get ready to watch late comers running to the ship, always a fun experience as people gather on the promenade deck to cheer on late comers. this day the ship had to send an officer out in a golf cart to retrieve the last person, who was running late and more than likely called the ship to let them know. At 4:50 all were aboard, the gangway was taken in, ropes drawn in and we were ready to go. We stayed on deck for a while since it takes about an hour to clear Bermuda. after about 30 minutes we went to dinner in the venetian Dining room and got a table by the large windows at the rear of the ship and prepared for a peaceful dinner as Bermuda faded away.
M, 21 year old son, Alex, accidentally discovered that his utensils had become magnetic. He entertained us, and the tables around us by using the knife to lift the fork from the table and suspend it in front of him. The tables all around us tried to do the same, with no luck.
About 70 minutes after departure and with Bermuda still visible in the background all the lights went out and the engines stopped. Emergency lights came on and the ship continued a very slow forward movement in eerie silence. Dinner continued, but you could see some people getting nervous. After about 20 minutes the lights came on and the engines started and people cheered. Within a few minutes the captain came on and mentioned that we had a complete power outage but the problem was resolved and we were ready to continue to New York. i was hoping they'd see the need to check it out and return to Bermuda for another day, but no such luck. It did take a while to get the TVs in the cabins functioning again. Most channels were blank, except for the navigation channel which had a Windows NT boot screen. I overheard someone with an inside cabin say that it got pitch black in her room when the power went out. many on deck never even noticed.
Skipped the pedometer for the rest of the cruise
Saturday was a typical day at sea, relaxing and restful. Cloudy with moderate seas. The barf bags were put out but I doubt anyone needed them. In the afternoon we attended a memory seminar taught by the magician Gregg Gleason. It was entertaining but not memorable. Our final dinner was in Impressions, the Italian restaurant. It is an extra fee restaurant but we were tired of the menus in the dining room.. Think fancy Olive Garden, except Olive Garden has better food. Still it was nice to have new menu items to consider.
Seems unusual but annoucements were few this cruise and I never felt as if we were being pushed to buy anything. We did buy two robes to remember the spa but had to ask where to purchase them (you buy them through your steward or at the pursers desk). Also bought some T-shirts on the last day when they went on sale (don't buy them earlier). Also at the prsers desk you can buy a map of the cruise with itinerary and captains signature for under $9, not a bad momento.
Sunday morning we woke up at 5:30 to see the Narrows and Coney Island in the distance. Went to breakfast in the Venetian at about 7:15 while coming up the Hudson. Ship docked during breakfast, slightly ahead of schedule. Disembarking is easiest on NCL than any other line. On Saturday night you can choose the color tag you want according to when you want to get off or you can choose no tag and take express debarkation if you are willing to take your own luggage. Once the ship is cleared you can get off whenever you want as long as you are off by 10:30. The theater runs one last movie and pools are open.
We chose this express debarkation and it was simple. After breakfast we went to our room and gathered our belongings. Walked right off at 9:00. with no delay at customs. Walked 10 minutes in pouring rain to NY Waterway ferry to Weehawken where we were picked up by my sister and were home in Jersey City by 9:45. Having enjoyed a marvelous, relaxing family vacation; a crackin crackerjack smashing good time on the beautiful Norwegian Dawn.
And to my shock I actually lost half a pound!
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