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This is an older ship with a LOT less of the bells and whistles you get on the newer ships nowadays. That said, we had a wonderful relaxing vacation. We did 8 ports plus our departure port of San Juan on a 10 day New Year cruise. We found the Dawn to be a perfect ship for such a heavy load of port days. Once back aboard, we ate, watched a show, read a book and slept (very different from the non-stop activities we usually find ourselves involved in on other newer ships). Service was top notch. By far the most friendly and welcoming crew we have ever encountered. Basically every crew member would say hello as you passed them. We were surprised to see how many of their officers are walking about on the ship and were always very friendly as well. We missed having the same waiter every night like on other cruise lines, but after we found a good one, we requested his table every evening. We only ate at the MDR and no pay restaurants. The food was good overall. The beef was ALWAYS cooked perfectly (a real improvement over other cruise lines). Fish was under cooked a couple of times. They put basically no vegetables on your entree at all, so ask for more if you want them. We ate at the Venetian dining room the first night, but found it to be far too loud and the service slow. We went to Aqua for the next 9 nights and loved it. Much more intimate and quiet, as well as we found their servers to be more personable. Be sure to go for crepes in the buffet every evening. The name of the assistant cook working the crepe station was awesome (his name escapes me right now). Shows were OK. Everyone has their own preferences. We did not enjoy the Flamenco Dancers or the singer (something Aaron). The show band was good, dancers good, illusionist very good, comedian OK, ELEMENTS was outstanding. JC Sanchez, the cruise director was outstanding. The people on the island of San Juan were so gracious and welcoming, thanking us many times for visiting them after hurricane Maria. We cannot wait to return to San Juan again. We visited St. Kitts for the first time and it is now one of our favourite Caribbean islands. The people were very friendly, the island is so clean, you were not hassled to buy things constantly, the views are incredible, the prices are great ($5 for 3 beer in the port and shirts half the price they are in other ports we stopped in for the same item).

Amazing staff on a great itinerary on an older ship

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by Russ Lomas

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Inside
This is an older ship with a LOT less of the bells and whistles you get on the newer ships nowadays. That said, we had a wonderful relaxing vacation. We did 8 ports plus our departure port of San Juan on a 10 day New Year cruise. We found the Dawn to be a perfect ship for such a heavy load of port days. Once back aboard, we ate, watched a show, read a book and slept (very different from the non-stop activities we usually find ourselves involved in on other newer ships).

Service was top notch. By far the most friendly and welcoming crew we have ever encountered. Basically every crew member would say hello as you passed them. We were surprised to see how many of their officers are walking about on the ship and were always very friendly as well.

We missed having the same waiter every night like on other cruise lines, but after we found a good one, we requested his table every evening. We only ate at the MDR and no pay restaurants. The food was good overall. The beef was ALWAYS cooked perfectly (a real improvement over other cruise lines). Fish was under cooked a couple of times. They put basically no vegetables on your entree at all, so ask for more if you want them. We ate at the Venetian dining room the first night, but found it to be far too loud and the service slow. We went to Aqua for the next 9 nights and loved it. Much more intimate and quiet, as well as we found their servers to be more personable.

Be sure to go for crepes in the buffet every evening. The name of the assistant cook working the crepe station was awesome (his name escapes me right now).

Shows were OK. Everyone has their own preferences. We did not enjoy the Flamenco Dancers or the singer (something Aaron). The show band was good, dancers good, illusionist very good, comedian OK, ELEMENTS was outstanding. JC Sanchez, the cruise director was outstanding.

The people on the island of San Juan were so gracious and welcoming, thanking us many times for visiting them after hurricane Maria. We cannot wait to return to San Juan again.

We visited St. Kitts for the first time and it is now one of our favourite Caribbean islands. The people were very friendly, the island is so clean, you were not hassled to buy things constantly, the views are incredible, the prices are great ($5 for 3 beer in the port and shirts half the price they are in other ports we stopped in for the same item).
Russ Lomas’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Inside
Cabin IC 12037
This little bank of 4 cabins are very different to the other inside cabins. They are laid out differently. Upon entering the beds will be to one side and you enter into a small central area. The bathroom is larger than your standard cabin and the shower was much bigger than we are used to. The beds face bow to stern instead of the usual port to starboard, so we found this nicer since the beds rocked side to side, whereas most cabins rock head to toe.
Deck 12 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    Took the public bus to Darkwood Beach. HINT: do not walk down the main street if you do not wish to be accosted by 100 cabbies in orange shirts. Take your first right when you see it and get to the back street to avoid the aggressive cabbies.

    $1.50 each way on the bus to the beaches. Darkwood was pretty, but did not offer much natural shade. Steep drop off only a couple feet into the ocean, which will not be good for young children or older people. We walked one beach over to look at Valley Church Beach and it looked nicer than Darkwood.
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  • Barbados
    Went scuba diving with Roger's Scuba Shack. I dove with him previously and had a fantastic time once again. Highly recommended. Great dive on the 5 wrecks in Carlisle Bay and then you can relax at his place right on Carlisle Bay and use his facilities. Carlisle Bay is gorgeous.
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  • Grenada
    We wanted to go to Grand Anse beach, but rain changed our plans. We decided to walk around the town instead. People were all over you trying to take you for a 2 hour walking tour. After declining about a dozen sellers, I walked up to the fort on the right ($2 entrance fee). It is not in great repair like those in San Juan, but has beautiful views for photos. After leaving the back entrance from the fort, I wandered the town for several hours. I felt very safe and found many amazing things to take photos of.
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  • Martinique
    I felt like I was in a city and not in a Caribbean port. Nobody approached me all day to sell me anything, which I appreciated, but at the same time, I found it weird. It is a huge city and I did not find a lot to do there since it was so spread out. Cabs are very expensive in Martinique. I took the public bus to Balata Gardens (1.5 Euros but the bus driver ripped me off and charged me double claiming he knew no English). Balata is not cheap to enter, but I am glad I went. The gardens are beautiful and interesting if you enjoy that type of thing.
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  • San Juan
    Such wonderful history. The $5 fee to visit the forts is a steal. A must do. Beautiful free walk (but long) along the boardwalk below the fort and around a good portion of the city as well.
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  • St. Kitts (Port Zante)
    One of my new favourite ports. So clean, scenic, inexpensive, great roads, safe, and friendly people. We went to Discovery Beach Bar on South Friars Beach. Cheap $4 cab ride each way per person and they stop for a photos at one of the most beautiful scenic points in all the Caribbean. Ask for Doris as your driver. Discovery Beach Bar will not be for everyone, but it was for us. Small, rustic, peaceful. Very relaxed vibe, great views, great food. Morsi keeps his place spotless and is a great host. Love his dogs too. The kids loved getting a hundred photos taken of them holding monkeys from the gentleman who stopped by with 2 of them for pets. Best $3 we spent on the entire vacation for photos of a lifetime.
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  • St. Lucia
    Not my favourite port (I wish they would not litter there so much), but still beautiful. We took a private tour with Cosol Tours. We did this on a previous trip. We had Yellowbird as our driver this time. Probably one of the best tours you will ever get of an island is with Cosol Tours. Yellowbird was fantastic as well and you should request his services. You will be whisked around the island to many stops and be fed and served beverages all day. We actually could not eat dinner that night since we were all so full. I usually ordered 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts nightly in the MDR, so that says a lot. FANTASTIC tour.
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  • St. Thomas
    Decided to try a different beach for a change. Went to Secret Harbour and enjoyed our day there. Very pretty. The hotel is currently closed due to hurricane damage, so it was pretty quiet, especially early in the day. Iguanas everywhere if you want to take photos of them. They would come and rest under our hammock or even climbed on our beach chair once. There are some rocks in the water, so be careful when wading in. Lots of natural shade and washroom facilities, bar, and showers.
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