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Our December 17-28, 2017 cruise was a first for us, the first cruise longer than 7 days. We chose this cruise not because of the ship but because of the Ports. Some beautiful islands we have never been to before. However, that was a mistake. Next time we will choose based on the ship. The ports were great, except for Grenada and Guadeloupe. Both were very dirty ports and to be honest, I felt unsafe. We did enjoy the other Ports, did some shore excursions and just some walking around. Our cabin was great. We had a mini suite on the 11th floor. We were only about 1 minute from the pool area, in the middle of the forward and mid-ship elevators and didn't hear much noise around us. The cabin was spacious and had a full bathtub with shower (which is one of the reasons we upgraded from a balcony). The room was spacious as was the balcony. Loved that we had a coffee maker since my husband is an early riser and doesn't like to order room service as it will wake me. TV kinda sucked. Not much to watch. But I guess that's not what you are supposed to spend your vacation doing. Disappointed we did not have bath robes in our room. We learned that others in lower categories had them and others with lower latitudes rewards. Overall the cabin was fine. We ate in both main dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast was pretty standard. Nothing to rave about but it was decent. We enjoyed the eggs benedict, corned beef hash, turkey sausage and fresh fruit. Toast was always cold. Coffee was ok (not as good as the stuff in the room). Lunch was alright - but I could have done as good at the buffet. None of our dinners impressed us. Food was warm if that, never hot. It was over sauced. It was not as described on the menu and overall I would give it a 2 out of 5. The service was always great both from the hostesses and the wait staff. O'Sheehan's was our go to. Food was about a 4 out of 5. They had good wings (though very small), their hot turkey and roast beef sandwiches were great, as was the ruben. However, service was slow. And once you were done eating they never came back to see if you wanted a drink. We ate lunch there pretty much every day. And snack time too. The buffet we visited twice. Neither of us our buffet fans. Too many hands touching food, too many people sneezing, eating in line or just walking in front of you. However, the salad bar was excellent. So if you need a healthy alternative go for that. We really cannot rate it as we only tried it once. Le Bistro used to be my favourite restaurant on NCL. This time, it was a disappointment. Our escargot was cold, not even warm (the butter in the dish was white still). They did bring us a new one that was pretty good. Could have used some more flavour (garlic and pepper) but it wasn't horrible. My meal was pretty gross. When you say colossal or jumbo shrimp don't bring me tiny frozen ones. My husband had a vegetarian entree which sounded really good. But it was cold. We cannot decide if it was supposed to be that way or not. However, if I order an entree I expect it to be warm unless the menu says otherwise. Overall were were very disappointed. Moderno - another traditionally tasty restaurant on other NCL ships. However, this one has a smaller salad bar than the buffet and they pushed all the different meats out to us in about 10 minutes. We didn't have time to chew let alone digest. It was the worst dining experience on the ship. Los Lobos - finally, a decent meal. I love Mexican food so I was very happy with my meal here. It is the cheapest of the specialty restaurants but probably the most flavourful. You could really just go and have some appetizers cause the complimentary chips and salsa are almost enough. The service was fantastic and the food was the best of the cruise to this point. They need to expand this restaurant to other ships. LaCucina - our favourite by far. We ended up eating here 3 times. Twice I had pasta and once the sea bass. Both were 10 our of 10. My husband had the lamb twice and again 10 out of 10. And you have to try the chocolate torte for dessert. YUM! The service here was amazing and we were about to sit outside the restaurant where we could see and hear the piano player at Gatsby's. By far the highlight of our trip. Bamboo - if you like asian, don't waste your time. It was very artificially to me, they loaded our table with food instead of bringing a couple things at once, and it was just not flavourful. Good service once again though. Entertainment - there is not one bad thing I can say about the entertainment on the ship. The professional style shows were amazing. We sat in the front row all the time. The Illusionist was outstanding. The dancing 10 out of 10 and the singing, out of this world! NCL never disappoints. Around the ship there was a ton of music and fun game shows etc. All of it was great. Our favourite bar/lounge was Gatsby's Champagne bar. Nightly piano music or soft tunes from a band. It was a quite location and never overly packed. We also enjoyed the atrium bar during the day when it was quiet. The pool area was nice. Surprisingly even on a sea day you could find seats. The loungers along the edge of the pool were perfect for me. When I got hot I just splashed myself or put my feet in the water. I am not a big swimmer so this was nice. Service around the pool was also great. I actually didn't see many chair hogs so overall it was great. We did 3 shore excursions and unfortunately had 2 cancel. The 3 we did were great. If you are in Bonaire be sure to do the Clear bottom kayak and snorkel. Amazing. Curacao we did "fun beach express" which gave us about a 45 minute tour on the way to a beautiful beach club. The tour was outstanding. Very interesting. And in Aruba we went to De Palm Island. Fantastic snorkelling and tons of stuff for all ages. Open bar, free food, waterpark, salsa dancing lessons, snorkelling, scuba diving, scuba, banana boat, zip lining and more. We booked a private cabana directly through De Palm Island and it was perfect. Free bottle of sparkling wine and unlimited OJ gave us mimosas for the day. The cabana allowed me to sit in the sun and my husband sit in the shade. It also had private stairs into the water to the amazing snorkelling. In Barbados we booked a private deep sea fishing tour with Reel Crazy. If you are ever there check them out. Great guides and a fantastic day on the water (3 barracuda was our catch). The experience from the cruise has left us wondering about trying another cruise line. Or maybe the smaller NCL ships are just not for us. We are actually going to take a hiatus from cruising for a bit to see if we miss it. After 7 cruises with NCL and 13 in total, I would have to say this was the most disappointing yet.

Great ports, good service, disappointing trip

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by ontcancruisers

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
Our December 17-28, 2017 cruise was a first for us, the first cruise longer than 7 days. We chose this cruise not because of the ship but because of the Ports. Some beautiful islands we have never been to before. However, that was a mistake. Next time we will choose based on the ship.

The ports were great, except for Grenada and Guadeloupe. Both were very dirty ports and to be honest, I felt unsafe. We did enjoy the other Ports, did some shore excursions and just some walking around.

Our cabin was great. We had a mini suite on the 11th floor. We were only about 1 minute from the pool area, in the middle of the forward and mid-ship elevators and didn't hear much noise around us. The cabin was spacious and had a full bathtub with shower (which is one of the reasons we upgraded from a balcony). The room was spacious as was the balcony. Loved that we had a coffee maker since my husband is an early riser and doesn't like to order room service as it will wake me. TV kinda sucked. Not much to watch. But I guess that's not what you are supposed to spend your vacation doing. Disappointed we did not have bath robes in our room. We learned that others in lower categories had them and others with lower latitudes rewards. Overall the cabin was fine.

We ate in both main dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast was pretty standard. Nothing to rave about but it was decent. We enjoyed the eggs benedict, corned beef hash, turkey sausage and fresh fruit. Toast was always cold. Coffee was ok (not as good as the stuff in the room). Lunch was alright - but I could have done as good at the buffet. None of our dinners impressed us. Food was warm if that, never hot. It was over sauced. It was not as described on the menu and overall I would give it a 2 out of 5. The service was always great both from the hostesses and the wait staff.

O'Sheehan's was our go to. Food was about a 4 out of 5. They had good wings (though very small), their hot turkey and roast beef sandwiches were great, as was the ruben. However, service was slow. And once you were done eating they never came back to see if you wanted a drink. We ate lunch there pretty much every day. And snack time too.

The buffet we visited twice. Neither of us our buffet fans. Too many hands touching food, too many people sneezing, eating in line or just walking in front of you. However, the salad bar was excellent. So if you need a healthy alternative go for that. We really cannot rate it as we only tried it once.

Le Bistro used to be my favourite restaurant on NCL. This time, it was a disappointment. Our escargot was cold, not even warm (the butter in the dish was white still). They did bring us a new one that was pretty good. Could have used some more flavour (garlic and pepper) but it wasn't horrible. My meal was pretty gross. When you say colossal or jumbo shrimp don't bring me tiny frozen ones. My husband had a vegetarian entree which sounded really good. But it was cold. We cannot decide if it was supposed to be that way or not. However, if I order an entree I expect it to be warm unless the menu says otherwise. Overall were were very disappointed.

Moderno - another traditionally tasty restaurant on other NCL ships. However, this one has a smaller salad bar than the buffet and they pushed all the different meats out to us in about 10 minutes. We didn't have time to chew let alone digest. It was the worst dining experience on the ship.

Los Lobos - finally, a decent meal. I love Mexican food so I was very happy with my meal here. It is the cheapest of the specialty restaurants but probably the most flavourful. You could really just go and have some appetizers cause the complimentary chips and salsa are almost enough. The service was fantastic and the food was the best of the cruise to this point. They need to expand this restaurant to other ships.

LaCucina - our favourite by far. We ended up eating here 3 times. Twice I had pasta and once the sea bass. Both were 10 our of 10. My husband had the lamb twice and again 10 out of 10. And you have to try the chocolate torte for dessert. YUM! The service here was amazing and we were about to sit outside the restaurant where we could see and hear the piano player at Gatsby's. By far the highlight of our trip.

Bamboo - if you like asian, don't waste your time. It was very artificially to me, they loaded our table with food instead of bringing a couple things at once, and it was just not flavourful. Good service once again though.

Entertainment - there is not one bad thing I can say about the entertainment on the ship. The professional style shows were amazing. We sat in the front row all the time. The Illusionist was outstanding. The dancing 10 out of 10 and the singing, out of this world! NCL never disappoints. Around the ship there was a ton of music and fun game shows etc. All of it was great.

Our favourite bar/lounge was Gatsby's Champagne bar. Nightly piano music or soft tunes from a band. It was a quite location and never overly packed. We also enjoyed the atrium bar during the day when it was quiet.

The pool area was nice. Surprisingly even on a sea day you could find seats. The loungers along the edge of the pool were perfect for me. When I got hot I just splashed myself or put my feet in the water. I am not a big swimmer so this was nice. Service around the pool was also great. I actually didn't see many chair hogs so overall it was great.

We did 3 shore excursions and unfortunately had 2 cancel. The 3 we did were great. If you are in Bonaire be sure to do the Clear bottom kayak and snorkel. Amazing. Curacao we did "fun beach express" which gave us about a 45 minute tour on the way to a beautiful beach club. The tour was outstanding. Very interesting. And in Aruba we went to De Palm Island. Fantastic snorkelling and tons of stuff for all ages. Open bar, free food, waterpark, salsa dancing lessons, snorkelling, scuba diving, scuba, banana boat, zip lining and more. We booked a private cabana directly through De Palm Island and it was perfect. Free bottle of sparkling wine and unlimited OJ gave us mimosas for the day. The cabana allowed me to sit in the sun and my husband sit in the shade. It also had private stairs into the water to the amazing snorkelling.

In Barbados we booked a private deep sea fishing tour with Reel Crazy. If you are ever there check them out. Great guides and a fantastic day on the water (3 barracuda was our catch).

The experience from the cruise has left us wondering about trying another cruise line. Or maybe the smaller NCL ships are just not for us. We are actually going to take a hiatus from cruising for a bit to see if we miss it. After 7 cruises with NCL and 13 in total, I would have to say this was the most disappointing yet.
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MB 11552
Our cabin was great. We had a mini suite on the 11th floor. We were only about 1 minute from the pool area, in the middle of the forward and mid-ship elevators and didn't hear much noise around us. The cabin was spacious and had a full bathtub with shower (which is one of the reasons we upgraded from a balcony). The room was spacious as was the balcony. Loved that we had a coffee maker since my husband is an early riser and doesn't like to order room service as it will wake me. TV kinda sucked. Not much to watch. But I guess that's not what you are supposed to spend your vacation doing. Disappointed we did not have bath robes in our room. We learned that others in lower categories had them and others with lower latitudes rewards. Overall the cabin was fine
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews