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We took the 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise on the NCL Dawn in Feb 2019. This was our fifth NCL cruise in 5 years. We did take one seven day cruise on the Dawn five years ago. Also, two cruises on the Spirit, and a 14-day Panama Canal trip on the NCL Star, departing from Miami and landing in Los Angeles. Comments: Food and service was generally excellent. The Venetian and Aqua have the same menu. We usually dined early, around 530-6 to get to the 7pm shows. O’Sheehan’s pub was perfect for quick breakfasts and lunches coming back from morning excursions. The meals were smaller, and they served a favorite Newcastle Brown on tap. The food is better quality and there is table service We had a few quick salads from the buffet, eaten by the pool and one quick grab and go breakfast on an early shore day. If we had a nine a.m. or later shore excursion, we took the time to have breakfast at the Venetian, MUCH better than the buffet. In the past we dined at the Chinese restaurant for lighter dinners. This cruise we ate there only once, since we had the 4 free upgrade dining package. Our speciality dining experiences were at Le Bistro for Valentines Day, La Cucina for Italian, Los Lobos for Mexican and Cagney’s. We would have gone back to Cagneys but by the time we checked it was sold out the entire cruise. We would have enjoyed a pool side grill out but none were offered. Entertainment was about average, both in the evening shows and music in the Atrium and Gatsby’s. Both venues were similar to what we recall on past cruise. here was not a “special element” as visible as in past cruises. Maybe we have done too much cruising but we did skip a few of the evening shows, including Elements, that we’ve seen a few times already. The comedian, mentalist and magician were good. The ventriloquist was interesting. I’m sure the entertainment varies on each cruise. We did not take part in many of the Bliss lounge activities (Deal or No Deal, pull tabs, Bingo etc) and are not gamblers or dancers. We did enjoy the Newleywed game, always a hoot. I’d say our favorite evening activity was just to sip a drink and listen to music. We’ll comment separately on the shore excursions we did take in that section of reviews. Part of our booking deal was a $50 excursion credit/port so we planned to take a modest NCL excursion on each stop. The best was Bonaire Eco to mangrove swamp followed by Orchid world in Barbados in 2nd place. We had excellent weather, which is of course sheer luck. No rain on any of the nine shore days other than a shower while we waited for a bus one morning. This was our first time with a balcony and we’ll never go back to a port or inside cabin. The loveseat and few extra feet of room was nice but the best part was the balcony itself: amazing you can use it at sea with little wind problems. They also have a small coffeemaker so we could wake up and settle the tummy with some banana bread we’d bring in the day before. Yes, you can get basic coffee and a croissant from room service but that would require us to be up and somewhat dressed at a certain time, not for us on vacation! Besides the dining package and shore excursion credit, another deal for early booking was the free Unlimited beverage package. That includes sodas and alcoholic drinks by the glass up to $15 (and yes, there are premium liquors and wines that cost more). However, you do pay NCL’s estimate of gratuity based on 10 drinks/person/day. We didn’t drink half that but it still saved us close to $1000. They also should offer the premium coffees free as part of this UBP. They are planning to start offering a super beverage package that includes coffees, water and juice, but we were told that won’t be given out free, ever. We buffered our cruise with 14 days in Florida prior and 2 days after the cruise, and we arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2 days early to tour old San Juan for a day. The embarkation process was slowed 30 mins due to a terminal power outage crashing NCL’s computers. We still got on close to our 12:30 time. The disembarkation process in San Jose was perfect. There is a van service at San Juan offering $10 pp trips to the airport (NCL charges $30 pp) so we got lucky. There is not much to do at the SJU airport and a mob of people there. Plan to have a book and charged phone along (very few power outlets, long lines at restrooms and restaurants). Overall, the cruise was a lot of fun! It was the second best of the four cruises we have taken on on NCL, after the incredible European cruise. It was really a 4.5* cruise so we’ll give it 4*. This one’s about the perfect length and VERY busy, but that’s what we wanted and got to see 80% of the islands we haven’t seen.

Great busy cruise, lots of great island stops

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by S_MN_Warmth_Seekers

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
We took the 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise on the NCL Dawn in Feb 2019. This was our fifth NCL cruise in 5 years. We did take one seven day cruise on the Dawn five years ago. Also, two cruises on the Spirit, and a 14-day Panama Canal trip on the NCL Star, departing from Miami and landing in Los Angeles. Comments:

Food and service was generally excellent. The Venetian and Aqua have the same menu. We usually dined early, around 530-6 to get to the 7pm shows. O’Sheehan’s pub was perfect for quick breakfasts and lunches coming back from morning excursions. The meals were smaller, and they served a favorite Newcastle Brown on tap. The food is better quality and there is table service We had a few quick salads from the buffet, eaten by the pool and one quick grab and go breakfast on an early shore day. If we had a nine a.m. or later shore excursion, we took the time to have breakfast at the Venetian, MUCH better than the buffet. In the past we dined at the Chinese restaurant for lighter dinners. This cruise we ate there only once, since we had the 4 free upgrade dining package. Our speciality dining experiences were at Le Bistro for Valentines Day, La Cucina for Italian, Los Lobos for Mexican and Cagney’s. We would have gone back to Cagneys but by the time we checked it was sold out the entire cruise. We would have enjoyed a pool side grill out but none were offered.

Entertainment was about average, both in the evening shows and music in the Atrium and Gatsby’s. Both venues were similar to what we recall on past cruise. here was not a “special element” as visible as in past cruises. Maybe we have done too much cruising but we did skip a few of the evening shows, including Elements, that we’ve seen a few times already. The comedian, mentalist and magician were good. The ventriloquist was interesting. I’m sure the entertainment varies on each cruise. We did not take part in many of the Bliss lounge activities (Deal or No Deal, pull tabs, Bingo etc) and are not gamblers or dancers. We did enjoy the Newleywed game, always a hoot. I’d say our favorite evening activity was just to sip a drink and listen to music.

We’ll comment separately on the shore excursions we did take in that section of reviews. Part of our booking deal was a $50 excursion credit/port so we planned to take a modest NCL excursion on each stop. The best was Bonaire Eco to mangrove swamp followed by Orchid world in Barbados in 2nd place.

We had excellent weather, which is of course sheer luck. No rain on any of the nine shore days other than a shower while we waited for a bus one morning. This was our first time with a balcony and we’ll never go back to a port or inside cabin. The loveseat and few extra feet of room was nice but the best part was the balcony itself: amazing you can use it at sea with little wind problems. They also have a small coffeemaker so we could wake up and settle the tummy with some banana bread we’d bring in the day before. Yes, you can get basic coffee and a croissant from room service but that would require us to be up and somewhat dressed at a certain time, not for us on vacation!

Besides the dining package and shore excursion credit, another deal for early booking was the free Unlimited beverage package. That includes sodas and alcoholic drinks by the glass up to $15 (and yes, there are premium liquors and wines that cost more). However, you do pay NCL’s estimate of gratuity based on 10 drinks/person/day. We didn’t drink half that but it still saved us close to $1000. They also should offer the premium coffees free as part of this UBP. They are planning to start offering a super beverage package that includes coffees, water and juice, but we were told that won’t be given out free, ever.

We buffered our cruise with 14 days in Florida prior and 2 days after the cruise, and we arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2 days early to tour old San Juan for a day. The embarkation process was slowed 30 mins due to a terminal power outage crashing NCL’s computers. We still got on close to our 12:30 time. The disembarkation process in San Jose was perfect. There is a van service at San Juan offering $10 pp trips to the airport (NCL charges $30 pp) so we got lucky. There is not much to do at the SJU airport and a mob of people there. Plan to have a book and charged phone along (very few power outlets, long lines at restrooms and restaurants).

Overall, the cruise was a lot of fun! It was the second best of the four cruises we have taken on on NCL, after the incredible European cruise. It was really a 4.5* cruise so we’ll give it 4*. This one’s about the perfect length and VERY busy, but that’s what we wanted and got to see 80% of the islands we haven’t seen.
S_MN_Warmth_Seekers’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony
Cabin BA 9612
Our first balcony and in mid ships it was great with slightly more room letting in a lot of light. Quiet but only 50 ft to a "secret" swing door entrance to the 3rd floor balcony in the Atrium, nicer spot to listen to music in the evening. Plus one floor down to O'Sheehans for a quick breakfast.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews