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We chose this cruise because it went to some southern Caribbean islands we hadn't visited, it was the duration we wanted, and it was reasonably priced. We enjoyed the cruise very much. We like cruising from San Juan Puerto Rico (as opposed to the continental United States) because San Juan is closer to these islands and therefore, there are fewer sea days. We did stay in the Dreams Miramar Hotel in San Juan the night before embarking on the cruise and enjoyed our stay there. We brought wine on board. NCL requires a $15 corkage fee per bottle, unlike other ships we have sailed. We don't like that NCL's beverage package and onboard alcoholic drinks are expensive. We have been on the Dawn in previous cruises. It has been refurbished since the last time we were on it so the decor has been updated. We like the size of the ship and generally liked the amenities. However, we have liked the water slides and miniature golf that have been on other cruise ships but not on this one. For dining, we went to the Garden Buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Aqua and Venetian restaurants for dinner a few nights. We refuse to pay for the speciality restaurants. We generally liked the food at the Garden Buffet but we thought there wasn't enough variety and we got tired of eating the same food every night which was why we went to the Venetian one night and Aqua for 3 nights. Some food stayed on the Buffet too long and got dried out. Regarding the Venetian and Aqua, we were disappointed that there wasn't a good selection of salads. We found fish to generally be thin and overcooked (especially the hake). Although many of the waiters/waitresses worked hard and provided good service, it took a lot of time to get served at these restaurants. The musical entertainment and shows were outstanding. We generally aren't fans of comedians and ventriloquists so we didn't attend those shows. We also didn't participate in any of the group activities and game shows. The service was outstanding. Our cabin steward did an excellent job and was very friendly and helpful. All other service providers on the ship were friendly and helpful. We liked all of the ports we visited. We didn't care for the embarkation/disembarking dock (the Pan Am dock in San Juan). We much prefer the Old San Juan dock area where the Carnival Cruise ship embarks. We didn't like the Curacao and Barbados dock locations because they were farther away from the port cities than the docks for the other cruise ships. We didn't like the St. Lucia docking location because we had to tender.

Great Caribbean Vacation

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by 2acruising

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Inside
We chose this cruise because it went to some southern Caribbean islands we hadn't visited, it was the duration we wanted, and it was reasonably priced. We enjoyed the cruise very much. We like cruising from San Juan Puerto Rico (as opposed to the continental United States) because San Juan is closer to these islands and therefore, there are fewer sea days. We did stay in the Dreams Miramar Hotel in San Juan the night before embarking on the cruise and enjoyed our stay there.

We brought wine on board. NCL requires a $15 corkage fee per bottle, unlike other ships we have sailed. We don't like that NCL's beverage package and onboard alcoholic drinks are expensive.

We have been on the Dawn in previous cruises. It has been refurbished since the last time we were on it so the decor has been updated. We like the size of the ship and generally liked the amenities. However, we have liked the water slides and miniature golf that have been on other cruise ships but not on this one.

For dining, we went to the Garden Buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Aqua and Venetian restaurants for dinner a few nights. We refuse to pay for the speciality restaurants. We generally liked the food at the Garden Buffet but we thought there wasn't enough variety and we got tired of eating the same food every night which was why we went to the Venetian one night and Aqua for 3 nights. Some food stayed on the Buffet too long and got dried out. Regarding the Venetian and Aqua, we were disappointed that there wasn't a good selection of salads. We found fish to generally be thin and overcooked (especially the hake). Although many of the waiters/waitresses worked hard and provided good service, it took a lot of time to get served at these restaurants.

The musical entertainment and shows were outstanding. We generally aren't fans of comedians and ventriloquists so we didn't attend those shows. We also didn't participate in any of the group activities and game shows.

The service was outstanding. Our cabin steward did an excellent job and was very friendly and helpful. All other service providers on the ship were friendly and helpful.

We liked all of the ports we visited. We didn't care for the embarkation/disembarking dock (the Pan Am dock in San Juan). We much prefer the Old San Juan dock area where the Carnival Cruise ship embarks. We didn't like the Curacao and Barbados dock locations because they were farther away from the port cities than the docks for the other cruise ships. We didn't like the St. Lucia docking location because we had to tender.
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Inside
Cabin IB 9071
We are value vacationers so we intentially chose the rooms that don't have windows or balconies. The cabin bed was comfortable and the cabin had plenty of room for our stuff so it was fine with us. The only issue we had was that our toilet was slow to flush at times. Sometimes it would take 30 minutes for the toilet to flush. We called housekeeping one time and the toilet eventually flushed but it didn't improve the situation.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    We were planning to take the NCL sponsored kayak and snorkel tour. However, the tour was cancelled because of the weather. Therefore, we walked around St. John's on our own. The town was somewhat difficult to walk around because there was a lack of sidewalks and some of the existing sidewalks were in disrepair. However, the town was interesting. We went to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda for $3 pp. We stopped at a local restaurant and got drinks.
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  • Aruba
    We walked to Sufside Beach which is about a mile from the cruise port. We went to Reflections Beach Bar and for $12, we got 2 beach chairs. We could have gotten an umbrella for an additional $6. We split a quesadilla ($13) and got 2 beers ($10). The walk to the beach was along a nice trail, with a couple of statues on the way. I was concerned about the beach because I had read reviews regarding the presence of seaweed and the proximity to the airport. Although there was seaweed farther out in the water, there was plenty of area to swim that didn't have seaweed. The airport was at one end of the beach and didn't bother us. The beach has beautiful white sand and clear, blue water. We liked that the beach was natural and surrounded by trees instead of hotels. We like walking the beach and there was plenty of area to do that.
    We enjoyed the beach and would consider going there again if we visit Aruba.
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  • Barbados
    For the third time, we went to Boatyard Beach Club. It took us about 40 minutes, since our cruise ship was docked the farthest away of any of the ships (it would normally be a 30 min. walk). The Boatyard is always a good time and reasonably priced. For $25 pp, it includes 2 chairs and umbrella, snorkeling cruise, free drink, use of "toys" (rope swing, slide, trampoline) and a ride back to the cruise port. I paid an additional $5 to use a locker. At 1 pm, they had happy hour so we purchased aditional drinks for $5.
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  • Curacao
    Our plan was to go to the Blue Bay Beach Club. However, after being told by the tourist information center that a taxi would cost us $60, we decided to walk around town on our own. The town was colorful and interesting. We took the self guided walking tour which was easy to follow. Since it was Sunday, I had read that many of the attractions would be closed. However, we found out that the Maritime Museum was opened. The cost was $6.50 per person. We enjoyed the museum and the tour.
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  • Grenada
    We took the water taxi ($10 pp roundtrip) to Grand Anse Beach. Note:Before you board the water taxi, make sure that your bills don't have any tears. My $20 bill had a tear in it and the water taxi operator wouldn't accept it. Luckily, I had another one that didn't have a tear. We got beach chairs and an umbrella for $20. The price was supposed to include wifi and restrooms. However, wifi was limited to 60 users (we had to wait until some people left) and there was no restroom because the adjacent restaurant was closed. No problem. We walked to the nearby market, used restrooms,and bought beer for $3 each. The beach has beautiful white sand and clear, blue water. We enjoyed walking the beach.
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  • City Tour
    After the cruise, we were standing in the taxi line and were approached by someone from SJ Happy Tours who offered to take us on a 3 hour tour of New and Old San Juan and then to the airport. Since we had a late flight, we decided to participate in this tour. We were glad we did.
    The tour started in the Condado area of San Juan where we were driven through the hotels, restaurants, shops and beaches of this area. We enjoyed this area and are contemplating taking a vacation here in the future. This part of the tour included a 15 min. stop at a convenience store near the beach.
    The next area of the tour was in Old San Juan and included a 10 min. and later a 45 min. stop. The tour operator provided a good overview of the history, buildings, statues, and forts in this area.
    The tour driver has lived in San Juan his whole life and provided a good tour of the City and general information about the island and all of the amenities. We were taken to the airport in plenty of time. I would recommend this tour.
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  • St. Kitts
    After getting off the ship, we went to the taxi stand before the tourist information building and secured a taxi with Le Matt tours. It cost us $14 pp roundtrip for a trip to Cockleshell Beach with a stop at Timothy Hill Overlook on the way. We were dropped off at Reggae Beach Bar and rented 2 chairs and an umbrella for $20. Cockleshell Beach has beautiful white sand and clear, blue water. The snorkeling was mediocre but we did see a few fish. Drinks were expensive at Reggae so we walked down the beach and got beers at another beach bar for $2 each. Overall, we were pleased with Cockleshell Beach and Le Matt tours.
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  • Island Tour
    We had to tender to St. Lucia. We were concerned that this would delay us getting to our tour, but it didn't turn out to be an issue.
    This is the third time we have used Cosol Tours. I booked this tour ahead of time through their website. Baptist was our tour guide. He was informative and entertaining. The tour is $75 pp which is very reasonable for what it includes and is paid in cash after the tour. The tour is a full day van tour and includes a stop at a banana plantation, sulphur springs mud bath, waterfall, and boat ride/snorkeling at Sugar Beach. Food and drinks are included. This tour is hard to beat.
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