Norwegian Dawn Freestyle: Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by webdawg01

Norwegian Dawn 2
Member Since 2009

Overall Member Rating

Norwegian Dawn Freestyle

Sail Date: November 2009
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
What is it that most people look for when they choose to invest their hard earned vacation dollars on a cruise? When I say most people, I mean people who do not have an unlimited amount of money to spend on vacations and so they consider not only the excitement and relaxation but also the cost of going on a vacation.

A cruise offers an all-inclusive vacation experience with a chance to see different places and even a little adventure on the high seas thrown in; all in a safe environment for the family.

That's where NCL insidiously shattered my expectations. The key to a cruise is the "all inclusive" part. You pay your money up front and you then expect to have a quality vacation that includes great meals and lots of fun; without having to shell out budget busting amounts of money to make that a reality. You already paid for your airfare and the cruise. Except for miscellaneous expenses here and there you should be good right?

Wrong. That's where the More insidious part comes in. Freestyle cruising. You get to choose when and where you want to eat. Isn't it funny in this day and age when you stop and really think about many of the advertising claims made that so many are completely the opposite of what they try to get us to swallow? Freestyle cruising. What is it really?

What NCL really does is (a) lower the quality of the of the food in their four "free" dining areas, and (b) create a situation where most of the passengers are all trying to eat "when they want to" within a small window of time so that the experience becomes a frantic cattle call. If you don't want to experience being jammed into a crazy dining situation with other frantic passengers or partaking of cafeteria quality food in the buffet, then you are "free" to shell out more money for their "specialty restaurants."

The bottom line: If you really want a decent dining experience, you have to pay extra for it. It's not really included in the price of the cruise. Some people don't mind the stampede or eating food that's not much better than the local diner. It's just that I expected better after sailing on other cruise lines.

Then there are the drinks: the cruise line offers water, milk, coffee, and tea. For free. Those are the drinks included in the price of your cruise. Anything else and you have to pay for it. And the drinks are not cheap. They come with tax and gratuity added automatically which can drive up the price of most drinks to between $6 and $7. A typical day if you and your wife have a couple drinks in the pub or pool bar, the kids have a few sodas, wine with dinner, taking in a show or going to a club at night can easily cost between $100 and $200.

Then there are the service charges that get added to your bill: $12 per day per person. A family of five can expect to pay $60 per day. There is no guarantee that any of it will go to anyone who directly serves you. In fact, if you read the fine print in the cruise contract "some of it" goes to administration expenses. Once again it adds up to a lot of additional money that the cruiser has to pay and there is no direct connection with the crew. They get it or don't get it regardless of how well they serve you. And you are left paying the bill whether you get good service or not.

Then there's the cost for the excursions, the spas, the pictures, medical treatment if you need it, etc. etc. We paid $5000 for our airfare and the initial cost of the cruise. We paid another $4000 for drinks, specialty restaurants, excursions, a trip to sick bay, and misc. expenses. The add-ons were almost as much as the cost of the cruise and the airfare.

NCL is in the business to make money. They are not satisfied with the revenue they get for taking you for a cruise on one of their big ships. That is only the beginning. Once the ship pulls away from port with you on it, the real profit seeking begins. There is nothing freestyle about anything once the ship sails. If you understand that, and if you are OK with it, then all is fine. However, if you are a family on a tight budget and you expect an all inclusive high quality vacation without shelling out lots of additional money, you have been deceived, and you're in for a rude awakening. Less

Published 12/13/09

Cabin review: IC10057 Inside

We had inside cabins and they were the smallest of any ship we've been on. The rugs were dirty. The showers are nice. The TV is too small and didn't work well (the satellite feed was always on the blink). There is not enough room to put your stuff. There is a wet bar which is nice. The cabin was noisy because the ship creaked constantly.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We went zip lining. It was fun but a little expensive for what you get. We also went to the Boat yard which was interesting. You can swing into the water on a rope off the pier. The beaches are nice. The cab drivers are pretty crazy and I didn't feel safe in their cabs.

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We went on a catamaran up the beach that included swimming with the turtles. It was very nice. They served an excellent meal, plenty of drinks, and they were very friendly. I would recommend it.

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The rain forest is very nice. We went on an ATV adventure. That was a lot of fun. There is something primitive about Samana that is appealing. The beaches are beautiful. The drawback is that the locals are very poor and they hound you for money more than most places, especially the children. Take 20 one dollar bills to hand out to the kids and you will be a superstar.

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Good place to shop. We didn't do an excursion. We bought $2 drinks from the locals, walked around, and shopped. Most of the people were friendly. They will put the monkeys on your head and try to rip you off if you are not careful. All in all, I like St. Kitts.

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Visit Virgin Gorda. We went on a private tour with Patouche charters and it was the best tour that we have ever taken. Fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone.

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