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This was the fifth cruise my sisters and I have taken and our fourth time on the Dawn. This was the last sailing of the Dawn out of Boston before it relocates to New York. There was an air of sadness hanging over the cruise - and not just because our bid to upgrade to the Garden Villa was not high enough to secure the suite. There was a sense of sadness because some staff was staying with the Dawn and others would be moving on to other ships. The crew is like family and everyone I spoke with shared how much they enjoyed working with their team and management. It was almost palpable, especially as our two week cruise was drawing to a close and it would also be the end of Jose and Patty performing for all the New Englanders. They definitely had a cult following of repeat customers. There was also a feeling of cutting corners. We started cruising together in 2011 and we have noticed a lot more corner cutting. My four sisters and I are all Platinum Latitudes now and we were looking forward to sharing the Platinum perk box of four Godiva chocolates between the five of us (one box per cabin, which makes no sense when it’s five individuals sharing a cabin) but we found out that stopped two years ago. Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seemed to be less house keeping staff. I hardly saw any staff walking in the hallways. Our room steward, Depender, was always, always working - a lot more than any previous steward we’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Another thing: pictures taken in the specialty restaurants are NOT available or included in the picture packages. The photographer comes back to the restaurant with your pictures and you purchase then and there or lose the pictures. This is a big change and seems like a really petty ploy to charge more money. Normally we would have a lot more pictures to choose from at the end of the trip. This time we had very few because most of the time we declined the photographer in the specialty restaurants. We didn’t want to waste the photographer’s time. if we weren’t 100% sure we would purchase the pictures. We were in Suite 12526 - with a large balcony. All five of us fit by utilizing the murphy bed, sleeper sofa and a roll-away bed that our steward brought in. The last cruise we did (Boston - NOLA repo in 2016) was the same sized suite but no balcony, which I don’t think we will do again. The balcony really made a difference for our small crowd and we used it all the time. The wall of windows made our suite seem so much larger. The Cruise Critic Meet and Greet was a huge success. I mean that literally. Our cruise board was VERY active and the coordinator for the Meet and Greet, PanamaTiger with assistance from his darling wife, was always posting updates for the reception and creating a buzz. Also, my sister, lotsofkids, had a drawing for some very nice LL Bean tote bags that she had originally made for family members who said they would go on the cruise with us but then dropped out. She opened the raffle to Birthdays/Anniversaries/Celebrations happening on the cruise. She also made magnets of the itinerary and gave one to everyone, which was great because we stuck ours to the wall. The Meet and Greet had so many people (over 150!) that the gathering was moved to the Bliss Lounge. It was really nice to meet the staff and to meet all the people from the board who have been chatting up the cruise for months. Dining options - there are always so many choices. Breakfast, if I wasn’t trying to get off the ship quickly for a shore excursion, was at Cagney’s. This suite perk is the number one reason why I like being in a suite. The staff knew my name within two days. Citi, I believe she was the assistant manager, made an effort to speak with every guest every morning. She was such a friendly, warm soul and I hope to be on another cruise with her again some day. I frequented the buffet when I needed a quick lunch and/or had missed the window for Cagney’s. Often times, after shore days, we’d be back on board in that window of time when it’s too late for lunch for a little while till dinner. The selection at the buffet at that time was underwhelming. Hamburgers, hotdogs, pasta and possibly an Indian dish. The menu didn’t vary very much. We each had a combination of six specialty dinners and enjoyed our visits to Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Cabo’s, La Cuccina and Teppanyaki. Dinner at the restaurants was always a major time sink - sometimes two hours! However, for in and out service, Teppanyaki was the way to go. We were shuffled out in under 45 minutes. I’m not a fan of feeling like I’m part of an assembly line, but the seafood was cooked to perfection. If you have a chance to get the singing chef, you’ve lucked out. He was very entertaining. For a quicker, yet still elevated dining experience that didn’t require using the dining package, we relied on Bamboo. It was quicker than the other restaurants and I could make an entire meal out of just appetizers. For shore days we did a combination of NCL excursion (St. Thomas), resorts we booked ourselves (Antigua, St. Lucia, Tortola, San Juan) and winging it to a random beach (St. Maarten, St. Kitts). By far, my favorite was the Sandals resort in St. Lucia except for the stinging jellyfish (at least I suspect it was jellyfish) which made swimming in the ocean painfully impossible. We had a day pass and our room had a soaking tub on the balcony. It would have been extremely romantic if I were there with my husband and not my sisters. My least favorite shore day was the Turtle Experience in Antigua that was booked thru NCL only because there was not enough time. A lot of time was wasted getting forty people off the boat and into the water, and then there was only maybe an hour in the water, with most of it not being free to snorkel and see, but rather to listen to a lecture. Ours was the first tour of the day and then there was another scheduled for the afternoon. It felt very rushed and crowded. I crossed Maho Beach in St. Maarten off my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to visit the beach that is on the flight path for incoming airplanes. However, when we got there it was disappointing to see how small the beach actually was and how crowded, especially as the day wore on. All the pictures I’ve seen show the barrier fence to be quite tall. It was actually maybe four feet at most. We got there early and were able to secure a couple of chairs and umbrella for $30US. We were right up against the road so I was concerned for the safety of our belongings. I should have been more concerned for our shoes - I rescued a few from drifting off with the incoming tide. I snorkeled in the water and found a fair supply of sea glass, but it was concerning how much raw, sharp, broken glass was in the water as well. I’d definitely suggest water shoes for next time. There is a still a lot of recovery needed on all the islands and we could see lots of damage. The people are still hurting and looking forward to the cruise ships bringing tourists and their expendable dollars. I felt it the most in St. Kitts where going into a shopping market and anyone with a stall was clamoring for me to make a purchase, any purchase. It was overwhelming and claustrophobic. Our taxi driver made it very clear not to go walking off alone. It was a wonderful cruise with great staff and fabulous memories with my sisters. We were the Yip Yips on Halloween (I was the red one) and were delighted to win “funniest costume.” I especially enjoyed knitting with a group of crafters every sea day morning and got to know some very interesting women and see their works in progress. It was also fun (and somewhat challenging) to sail thru a hurricane that was heading up the east coast as we were heading south. Then again, I find fun in just about anything - and did you know that walking in 16 to 20 foot seas counts as stairs and will close all three rings on your IWatch in a couple of hours just by walking around the ship? Will I do it again? Absolutely! I want to go a cruise tomorrow! However, I can’t plan the next one until after my husband forgets the pain of my 3 week vacation without him. Maybe he just needs to go on a cruise with me.

Dawn's Last Hurrah in Boston Before Heading to New York

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by IslandGirl247

Trip Details
This was the fifth cruise my sisters and I have taken and our fourth time on the Dawn. This was the last sailing of the Dawn out of Boston before it relocates to New York.

There was an air of sadness hanging over the cruise - and not just because our bid to upgrade to the Garden Villa was not high enough to secure the suite. There was a sense of sadness because some staff was staying with the Dawn and others would be moving on to other ships. The crew is like family and everyone I spoke with shared how much they enjoyed working with their team and management. It was almost palpable, especially as our two week cruise was drawing to a close and it would also be the end of Jose and Patty performing for all the New Englanders. They definitely had a cult following of repeat customers.

There was also a feeling of cutting corners. We started cruising together in 2011 and we have noticed a lot more corner cutting. My four sisters and I are all Platinum Latitudes now and we were looking forward to sharing the Platinum perk box of four Godiva chocolates between the five of us (one box per cabin, which makes no sense when it’s five individuals sharing a cabin) but we found out that stopped two years ago. Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seemed to be less house keeping staff. I hardly saw any staff walking in the hallways. Our room steward, Depender, was always, always working - a lot more than any previous steward we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Another thing: pictures taken in the specialty restaurants are NOT available or included in the picture packages. The photographer comes back to the restaurant with your pictures and you purchase then and there or lose the pictures. This is a big change and seems like a really petty ploy to charge more money. Normally we would have a lot more pictures to choose from at the end of the trip. This time we had very few because most of the time we declined the photographer in the specialty restaurants. We didn’t want to waste the photographer’s time. if we weren’t 100% sure we would purchase the pictures.

We were in Suite 12526 - with a large balcony. All five of us fit by utilizing the murphy bed, sleeper sofa and a roll-away bed that our steward brought in. The last cruise we did (Boston - NOLA repo in 2016) was the same sized suite but no balcony, which I don’t think we will do again. The balcony really made a difference for our small crowd and we used it all the time. The wall of windows made our suite seem so much larger.

The Cruise Critic Meet and Greet was a huge success. I mean that literally. Our cruise board was VERY active and the coordinator for the Meet and Greet, PanamaTiger with assistance from his darling wife, was always posting updates for the reception and creating a buzz. Also, my sister, lotsofkids, had a drawing for some very nice LL Bean tote bags that she had originally made for family members who said they would go on the cruise with us but then dropped out. She opened the raffle to Birthdays/Anniversaries/Celebrations happening on the cruise. She also made magnets of the itinerary and gave one to everyone, which was great because we stuck ours to the wall. The Meet and Greet had so many people (over 150!) that the gathering was moved to the Bliss Lounge. It was really nice to meet the staff and to meet all the people from the board who have been chatting up the cruise for months.

Dining options - there are always so many choices. Breakfast, if I wasn’t trying to get off the ship quickly for a shore excursion, was at Cagney’s. This suite perk is the number one reason why I like being in a suite. The staff knew my name within two days. Citi, I believe she was the assistant manager, made an effort to speak with every guest every morning. She was such a friendly, warm soul and I hope to be on another cruise with her again some day. I frequented the buffet when I needed a quick lunch and/or had missed the window for Cagney’s. Often times, after shore days, we’d be back on board in that window of time when it’s too late for lunch for a little while till dinner. The selection at the buffet at that time was underwhelming. Hamburgers, hotdogs, pasta and possibly an Indian dish. The menu didn’t vary very much.

We each had a combination of six specialty dinners and enjoyed our visits to Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Cabo’s, La Cuccina and Teppanyaki. Dinner at the restaurants was always a major time sink - sometimes two hours! However, for in and out service, Teppanyaki was the way to go. We were shuffled out in under 45 minutes. I’m not a fan of feeling like I’m part of an assembly line, but the seafood was cooked to perfection. If you have a chance to get the singing chef, you’ve lucked out. He was very entertaining. For a quicker, yet still elevated dining experience that didn’t require using the dining package, we relied on Bamboo. It was quicker than the other restaurants and I could make an entire meal out of just appetizers.

For shore days we did a combination of NCL excursion (St. Thomas), resorts we booked ourselves (Antigua, St. Lucia, Tortola, San Juan) and winging it to a random beach (St. Maarten, St. Kitts). By far, my favorite was the Sandals resort in St. Lucia except for the stinging jellyfish (at least I suspect it was jellyfish) which made swimming in the ocean painfully impossible. We had a day pass and our room had a soaking tub on the balcony. It would have been extremely romantic if I were there with my husband and not my sisters. My least favorite shore day was the Turtle Experience in Antigua that was booked thru NCL only because there was not enough time. A lot of time was wasted getting forty people off the boat and into the water, and then there was only maybe an hour in the water, with most of it not being free to snorkel and see, but rather to listen to a lecture. Ours was the first tour of the day and then there was another scheduled for the afternoon. It felt very rushed and crowded.

I crossed Maho Beach in St. Maarten off my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to visit the beach that is on the flight path for incoming airplanes. However, when we got there it was disappointing to see how small the beach actually was and how crowded, especially as the day wore on. All the pictures I’ve seen show the barrier fence to be quite tall. It was actually maybe four feet at most. We got there early and were able to secure a couple of chairs and umbrella for $30US. We were right up against the road so I was concerned for the safety of our belongings. I should have been more concerned for our shoes - I rescued a few from drifting off with the incoming tide. I snorkeled in the water and found a fair supply of sea glass, but it was concerning how much raw, sharp, broken glass was in the water as well. I’d definitely suggest water shoes for next time.

There is a still a lot of recovery needed on all the islands and we could see lots of damage. The people are still hurting and looking forward to the cruise ships bringing tourists and their expendable dollars. I felt it the most in St. Kitts where going into a shopping market and anyone with a stall was clamoring for me to make a purchase, any purchase. It was overwhelming and claustrophobic. Our taxi driver made it very clear not to go walking off alone.

It was a wonderful cruise with great staff and fabulous memories with my sisters. We were the Yip Yips on Halloween (I was the red one) and were delighted to win “funniest costume.” I especially enjoyed knitting with a group of crafters every sea day morning and got to know some very interesting women and see their works in progress. It was also fun (and somewhat challenging) to sail thru a hurricane that was heading up the east coast as we were heading south. Then again, I find fun in just about anything - and did you know that walking in 16 to 20 foot seas counts as stairs and will close all three rings on your IWatch in a couple of hours just by walking around the ship?

Will I do it again? Absolutely! I want to go a cruise tomorrow! However, I can’t plan the next one until after my husband forgets the pain of my 3 week vacation without him. Maybe he just needs to go on a cruise with me.
IslandGirl247’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Cabin Review

Family Suite
Cabin SJ 12526
The bank of windows and large balcony really elevate this suite. We really enjoyed the balcony at every opportunity. We easily fit five adult women by creatively utilizing ALL available storage space (put the PDF's under the bed!), the Murphy bed, the sofa bed AND a roll away bed (that we kept at the foot of the king sized bed).
Deck 12 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • St. Maarten
    Took a cab to Maho Beach. Arrive early to get a chair and umbrella ($10US each). The beach gets more crowded as the day goes on. It is really neat to have incoming planes flying overhead. The crowd yells HELLO. Small beach right up against the road. No pressure to order from the bar/restaurant. The water was beautiful. Sharp glass in the water. Bring water shoes.
    View All 4,688 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Maarten Cruise Port Review
  • Turtle Swim
    Overcrowded and rushed. The water was delightful and we did see a few turtles and stingrays, but the amount of time actually in the water was too short. It took a long time for forty people to exit the boat and get into the water. We were definitely on a schedule so the boat could get back for their afternoon sailing. I would have given it an excellent rating if we had more time.
    View All 81 Turtle Swim Reviews