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Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,976 Reviews

First Cruise: Intimate ship, Beautiful Island, Phenomenal vacation!!!

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by KayakKid82

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jun 2017
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

Background:

From Massachusetts, so didn't have to worry about luggage for cruise meeting flight requirements.. Traveled with my Grandmother, we both needed a good getaway which this cruise thankfully provided!

Cruise:

Dawn, June 2nd to June 9th

Boston to Bermuda, return to Boston

Embarkation:

There were a bunch of cars but we only had to wait a few minutes before we were curbside and the speedy porters whisked our luggage off to the ship, breezed through security and check-in, i would say we were on the ship within 20 mins or less, total relief!

Luggage was delivered during the mandatory fire drill, however we were allowed to drop off our carry on items to the room, even though it was still getting the finish touches put on.

Cabin: (Deck 10 - Balcony/BB - disability room: 10700)

Very spacious & met all of our needs, though being my first cruise can't compare to anything else. We stayed in a disability room, due to travelling with my grandmother and her needed use of a walker. There were some issues/hick-ups i noted throughout the cruise, but i will make note of them in the "Cabin review".

Our room Steward was fantastic (i'm terrible with names but i want to say Radolfo, or something similar), beaming smile, joyful greeting whenever we crossed paths, he was incredibly helpful and attentive during our whole trip, the only snag on his part was that there were two of us travelling and only one chair in the room (the room didn’t have one of the small sofas, as is typical of a “normal” balcony room offering) which wasn’t a deal killer and makes sense given the disability setup of the room. It wasn’t until our last night that our Steward noticed this lacking and brought in a new set of two chairs for us, which was most helpful for facilitating the last night packing for disembarkation, but would have been nice over the course of the whole trip, to be honest I preferred to perch on the comfy bed, but it is the little things you notice/miss when not there. So if you too book a similar room and want two chairs, ask and ye shall receive apparently.

Staff:

I found the staff to be friendly and helpful, at least with those I had contact with. I cannot recall coming across a single rude staff member over the course of the trip. This was especially illustrated by the “Solo Travelers” Program that Norwegian ran nightly on the ship in which both myself and Grandmother took part. Several staff took time each night out of their own (I’m sure) busy schedules, to both greet the group to make sure we felt welcomed but also that we were having a good time! This program really made our trip, we all clicked well, dined out together most nights, and made some new top-notch friends!

Dining, Food & Bar Service:

Food and dining service were a bit of hit or miss (we ate each night in a large group, so not sure if that had anything to do with it) but any issues we did experience were generally small and were corrected in pretty quick fashion. As for the food, most of my meals were great from the dining rooms and buffet, I didn’t try any of the specialty restaurants on this cruise so cannot speak directly to them. I can say the food in Bamboo was delish, I had the Orange Beef, with fried Pork Pot stickers and Spring rolls… YUM! If it wasn’t for having to catch one of the Entertainment shows, I think I would have never left the restaurant that evening! I also had the Lamb in the Aqua dining room and that was quite tasty, esp with the addition of some mint jelly, and the Pork loin in the Venetian was tasty too. Those were the stand outs for me, the food overall was generally good, but standard and what you’d expect for large populous service. I also experienced great service at all the bars throughout the ship... aside for one drink order where the bartender made my “Dark n Stormy” with Bacardi Rum…? I think he must have been a fill-in on that night, needless to say the Unlimited drink package is worth it's weight in gold and highly recommended!

One suggestion to Norwegian would be to possibly extend the hours breakfast is severed in the Buffet, it would have been nice, as a night owl and late morning riser, to be able to snag some tasty waffles, eggs or french toast up until around Noon, instead of ending around 1030am, even if such an offering was just a small station off to the side where said items could be kept warm on a small batch basis, it would have been welcomed instead of trying to force oneself to down lunchtime offerings that just didn't appeal at the time, i'm sure i would not be the only one whom would have appreciated this.

There were a few downsides I noted from my and our groups dining experiences:

1) Beef meals were somewhat hit or miss from day to day & dining room to dining room. One day it was spot on, the next day it was tough and dry with some in our group not being able finish their dinners.

2) The menu item listings were sometimes “off the mark” as to what was actually being offered, not sure if this was due to some language barrier or translation, in combination with the American culinary diet… case in point was the “Country Fried Chicken” which in American terms is generally a boneless deep fried Chicken breast, instead my order came as bone-in “Country-style” Fried Chicken pieces, while the phrasing is slight, it made the difference to the end result. Also the offered “Boston Cream Pie” wasn’t exactly an authentic Boston Cream Pie for which Boston is known, which was the reason one of our party actually sent it back. As the Cruise is Porting out of Boston, and as a lifelong New Englander, I found this to be a bit of a culinary faux pas.

3) The greatest aggravation to our group while dinning was actually more of a small annoyance but crept up every time we ate across the ship's dining rooms, that is: The Salt and Pepper shakers are equally un-identifiable from each other. There is zero indication denoting Salt in one mill and Pepper in the other, without having to grind the contents into one’s hand to discover what was hidden inside. This also resulted in several occasions where our table had only salt or only pepper because not even the dining room staff could tell the difference either. [To offer a simple and elegant solution to Norwegian should they read this, they should order some Black and White silicon brands that could be easily (and singularly) wrapped around the trunk of the grinders making their contents easily identifiable, but still quickly change-able as need arises]

Bermuda Port & Shore Excursions:

Leaving the ship for the first time was a bit chaotic, everyone was kept up on level 6 util the okay was given and everyone on massed headed down the stairs to the gangway. The rest of the time coming and going from the ship was pretty easy and there was never more than a few minutes wait in either direction (mostly returning)

We did one Excursion via Norwegian, the Gosling Rum Cruise, which was nice, but nothing special, mostly it's a sell opportunity for Gosling, with some history & sightseeing thrown in, we did have one of the Goslings on board to talk about the family history, so that was kind of neat, and the sample were yummy, the Highlight of course was the Sunset, absolutely STUNNING!

The rest of the time i booked my own excursions, doing saved me a little $ but also opened up time windows not offered via Norwegian.

Activities:

1) Early morning Horseback Trail Ride via Spicelands

Downside: the ride started at 7am, due to this you have to take a 30 hour Taxi and leave the ship at 6am, and despite what anyone says they don't go down into the water.

Upside: I was the only one who showed up... so i literally had a private Tour all to myself!!!

2) Hiked up to Gibbs Lighthouse from Bus #8, then to other side of island and returned on Bus #7 (FYI the Bus #7 stop is the easier of routes to the Lighthouse

3)Kayaked via Somerset Bridge Watersports: I had wanted to Jetski, but this establishments booking process is archaic, and i was sadly unsatisfied, won't be a repeat customer, also kayak i had was run down and beat up.

4) Jetski via Island Tour Center: Had a smooth reservation and checkin process, the tour was a blast, but the weather was no idea, really high seas and winds... if the weather was more mild it would have been perfect! But it was still a fun adventure don't get me wrong.

5) Exploring the Dockyard: basically a built out Tourist center, of which you would expect, some history, mostly shops to sell you things... Do however stop into the Pirate ship (Calico Jack's) they have a plank & beware, they serve on the strong side - you've been warned!

Entertainment:

As for Entertainment, the ship has some real talent, the music groups were incredibly well preformed across all the musical genes offered. I didn’t attend many of the performance theater shows, but did catch the Duo Acrobatic act and that was impressive, even more so, when you consider they do their thing on a constantly in motion floor!!! I also heard the Elements show was outstanding as well.

The music and dancing provided in the Bliss lounge each night was also a welcomed treat and way to de-stress while having some fun, we had a great crew on the cruise that tore up the dance floor each night.

Spa & fitness:

I did not take part in any spa treatments or use the fitness center, i was so busy on the island i didn't need it LOL, I did pop my head in though, and they looked very nice.

Disembarkation:

Was reasonably smooth, however the assistance getting onto the ship wasn't what it was in leaving (unless you require a wheelchair off the ship) those with carry-off luggage and walkers weren't really offered any priority for the snaking-about-the-ship line to leave. We did choose however the last time slot to vacate the ship, that did seem to help us at least with departing, and avoiding the lion-share off people streaming off into the terminal. The porters were very helpful transporting our luggage out to the street to wait to be picked up. Note: it's very important to communicate to the party picking you up, what colored "zone" you are in and what flag number you are nearest.

Conclusion:

All said and done, outside of the few above-noted issues, it was a most enjoyable cruise! I cannot wait for my next one and will not hesitate to book again with Norwegian, again a huge “Thank you” for a great memorable time to the wonderful staff of the Dawn!!!


KayakKid82's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BB 10700

The stateroom:

Met its needs with only a few “hick-ups” that I found throughout our trip. This was a “Disability” Balcony room (I was travelling with my grandmother who uses a walker to get around).

The room was very spacious, with extra room provided so a walker or wheelchair could get around the room with easy. Due to the extra space requirement the room didn’t have one of the small sofas, as is typical of a “normal” balcony room. Offered instead was a normal height table and chair (just one chair though, we would later get a set of two, but not for the whole cruise) which wasn’t a deal killer and make sense given the disability setup of the room. There was a 3rd bunk bed, which was wall mounted, with a access step ladder in the closet.

The room had adequate storage for two people, with a pull down closet hanging rod for someone who can’t reach up to place hangers (Note: the hangers themselves are a bit clumsy to use in my opinion, where I had to play a game of leap frog to get the right hanger positioned where I wanted it within the closet),

The balcony for the disability rooms has a double railing, this is due to a raised steel-plate floor installed outside to be flush with a ramp leading to it, and a minimum height requirement presumably. The space was quite nice and slightly large than a standard balcony, Only flaw I did notice was there was some painters tape around the outside balcony light seemingly leftover when the ship’s maintenance must have doing to touching up, again goes to those little details.

There are only two US plugs in the room, one in the desk/vanity and one in the bathroom, I brought a power strip and extension cord (a tip a read here on CC) and it made life much easier.

Also our mini-fridge didn’t have a handle on it, so that made it a little awkward trying to pry open from the time to time that we utilized it, but wasn’t a hindrance large enough, at least for us, to bring up.

All in all with a location just off the Aft elevator bank, this was a great room, which reminds me speaking of elevators, one crux with the Dawn’s design is that there is only one elevator that gives non-stair access to the Venetian dining room via Level 6, this caused a huge choke point with all those needing to use this particular elevator to come and go. I did notice there seemed to be some way to put in one’s room card and call for an elevator car, however I don’t recall seeing any particular write up regard this feature or its use when related to disability access, if that is the case, that information would have been most helpful for use over our trip.

I did note a few issues that Norwegian (again, if they see this) might want to consider improving or addressing when it comes to the disability rooms, though I can only speak to this specific room, as I have not stayed in any others:

1) there is a ramp that runs up from the level floor into the bathroom, the sides of this ramp, curve back and slope to the floor causing an uneven walking surface on either side of this ramp, however because these sides are carpeted to match the entirety of the rooms floor, if you aren’t really paying close attention to each step, this can cause a slight stumble and potential fall hazard, this stumbling repeatedly occurred for my grandmother as she was traversing around the room, thankfully she didn’t fall, but perhaps some kind of slight marking to denote that “unevenness” of the floor would have been helpful in hindsight.

2) Another hazard I felt should be addressed though not sure what the solution would be, was our staterooms bathroom door, which at times swung wildly while out at sea. This was due to our door not being attached to the hydraulic piston that would normally put pressure on the door to automatically close the door shut when not in use, this “non pressure” of course makes sense in times when someone is trying to transition from the stateroom up a small ramp into the bathroom area, but not easily in wavey/rocky conditions, as illustrated when my lightweight of a grandmother was hit by the heavy swinging door several times while making such a transition, one time resulting in a fairly large bruise on her arm… Norwegian should really look into some kind of locking door piston system for their disability rooms, which ideally would hold the bathroom door into a hard fixed location when in adverse sea conditions, and could then be released when that person has finished transitioning to their intended area on either side of the door.

3) My last suggestion for Norwegian to potential address is the height (or length) of the shower curtain, in at least our cabin bathroom, there was a 3 inch or so “gap” from the bottom of the curtain to the floor, which is good for seeing if anyone is in the shower and I suppose the flow of air, however this allows a water to spray outward across the floor in roughly a 6 inch range on the other side of the entire length of the shower’s border catch drain, I found myself having to wipe up this excess water spray with my towel as to avoid any possible slip hazard… so I wonder if the shower curtain were to stretch down the entire length to the floor border drain, if this spray and potential slip issue would be eliminate.

Outside of the few above-noted issues, it was a most enjoyable cruise and in my opinion, a great cabin, for it's location and available amenities, that can only get better!


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Boston

The port terminal itself was very industrial, sparse, and not very eye catching or inviting... however the most important thing is that the staff inside and porters at arrival were very friendly and helpful.

Gibb's Hill Lighthouse

A Great Lighthouse perched at the highest point on the island. Has spectacular views across the island, if you take the bus and hike up on your own make sure give yourself a rest before making the climb up the 180+ steps up to the top, your legs will thank you, and watch yourself going up and coming down, the stairway is narrow and some of the steps due to the age of the building are uneven. The view from the top is unmatched and at $2.50 for admission, is the best bargain on the island!

View All 12 Gibb's Hill Lighthouse Reviews
Jet Skiing

I did the 75 min Jet Ski Tour via Island Tour Center, it was quite the experience, had the weather cooperated more it would have been a blast however the high waves made it a slog. The tour itself, despite the weather was enjoyable as we visited the HMS Vixen wreck to feed the fish, visited a bay for turtle watching and sped across the waves in good fashion. The easy of booking and that the operation being right next to the cruise ship terminal made for a further great experience. Highly recommended... but on a more calmer water day ;)

View All 32 Jet Skiing Reviews
Kayaking

I did an hour kayak with Somerset Bridge Watersports, this was an alternative to taking one of their Jetski tours which i tried repeatedly to book online to no success in getting a confirmation of the reservation, so ended up taking a stab in the dark and arriving on my own to see if the tour i wanted was available, it wasn't offered.. so i was given the option of taking out one of their kayaks instead.

The sit-on-top kayak i was given was fairly run down and beat up. One of the seat straps was broke from a clip ring and instead was wrapped around a handle on the kayak to provide tension. While i was out on the water paddling the other end of this strap broke from the remaining hook ring, so i had to perform a similar fix to continue on my trip.

They did provide some water and bread to feed fish, though i never ran across any fish.. but I did see a sea turtle as i paddled through the local harbor. I made my way out to the ocean, up the coast a little then returned to the harbor, proceeded under the famed Somerset Bridge, then return to the dock because my arms were dead after dealing with the high winds that morning.

The area and water were beautiful, i was however disappointed with Somerset Bridge Watersports' operation, so i personally wouldn't be a repeat customer.

View All 25 Kayaking Reviews

I did the early morning Horseback Trail ride offered by Spicelands, it was a phenomenal experience and highly recommended!

Although Norwegian does offer a slightly later morning trail ride with the same company, i booked this earlier (7am) ride directly with the Equestian Center, as it worked better into my schedule. This worked out to my benefit because apparently people on vacation do not like waking up early, and it turned out i was the only one signed up, so i basically received a private tour at a group rate!!

Riding (albeit slowly as i am a beginner) )through the countryside, on the Rail Trail and Tribe roads was an amazing adventure and a highlight of my trip!

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