Pros: Great itinerary but go in October if you want to see the peak color of Autumn leaves. Great staff and service. Surf and Turf dinner at Cagney's was by far the best meal of the entire cruise. There wasn't a lot of overt selling of products during this cruise like on some other cruiselines. O'Sheehan's offers an alternative to the big restaurants and it's great for breakfast. Aqua and Cagney's were outstanding. The staff on the Dawn were outstanding.
Cons: NCL Dawn now has a Starbucks Coffee Shop that's not included in the premium beverage package and that was very disappointing. Bottled water has been removed from the "premium" beverage package so now they can make more money by selling bottled water! Another disappointment. Beware: Don't try to bring even a single bottle of water onto the ship. They are now making you dispose of water bottles or dump out the water. That's pretty low! There's no place inside this ship to watch the scenery passing by or to watch for belugas or whales while in the Saguenay, Canada, area except for the very noisy atrium area, which is now a venue for performers and is usually filled to overflowing with people sitting in folding chairs. In fact, there's no longer any quiet areas except for the small library or your cabin. The food in the French restaurant was more steak house than French. Just because it has a sauce on it doesn't make it French. "Castle potatoes" were just fingerling potatoes. Artichokes were listed as a vegetable but it ended up being a green sauce. In fact, throughout the entire cruise, in all the restaurants, there were very few actual vegetables offered. Carrots ended up to be three carrot curls. La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, seemed to be more steakhouse than Italian. The pasta dishes were limited and cliché. The biggest surprise was the amount of meat offered on the menu. Italian usually doesn't mean meat to me. More inventive pasta dishes, please. The Venetian restaurant seemed to be way below par in the quality of the food and the service. The servers in this restaurant couldn't even describe the evening's dishes! Aqua was like a totally different level of service and quality of food! We never returned to the Venetian once we discovered how different the two "main" restaurants were! The quality of the evening entertainment in the theater was disappointing and there was only one duo of musicians that were very good but they played almost every single evening and it got very repetitive. The versions of bowling, etc offered during the day/sea days took about 15 minutes so that everyone got a turn. These games took place in hallways and again, weren't worth the effort of standing around while 25-30 people took their turn. This itinerary included an overnight at Quebec but because we docked at Pier 30, getting out at night in this area and getting to the venues, the historic district, the restaurants was so inconvenient that we didn't venture out. Pier 30 also had giant spotlights that shined onto the starboard side of the ship the entire night. It was so bright that we had to close our curtains and therefore missed the beautiful night view of Quebec. If you have an overnight in Quebec, you need to check which pier you'll be docked. Skip any cruise that docks at Pier 30 in Quebec, especially if it's an overnight.
Beware of the noise filtering into this cabin. Chair scraping all the time from somewhere (never could figure out where). Tenders being off-loaded and harbor pilot boat coming alongside right below our balcony early in the morning. If you like watching these activities at all hours, then this is the cabin for you. These balconies are very small. Balcony chairs and tiny table are set sideways to appear to give more room. Cord for hairdryer is hard-wired into the wall so there was never enough cord to make it easy to dry my hair, no matter how I tried to stretch it. Forget it and bring your own travel hair dryer. I had the room steward remove the coffee pot, cups, etc from the shelf since there was so little drawer/storage in the cabin. That helped! There's only one 110V plug available in the cabin so bring a USB charger for phones, kindles, cameras. There's only three drawers and four shelves inside the closet, which are hard to get to. The shower and toilet area within the bathroom actually have sliding doors but the opening is very small and tight, maybe only two feet of opening? I kept bumping into them and had to walk into the toilet area sideways and I'm not a big person. Once inside the shower, it's very spacious. No travel size shampoo, cream rinse, etc anymore. There are dispensers by the sink and in the shower for soap/shampoo. There's a magnifying mirror in the bathroom.
Bar Harbor is now very touristy but you can still find some gems of local shops if you get off the main street. We found Side Street Cafe, ordered their lobster roll, which had eight ounces (and full claw meat) of lobster on it with very light mayo, Old Bay seasoning and no celery or filler!
We sought out the Nova Scotia Genealogy Archive building, which was quite a hike (uphill) to search for an ancestor but there were no records that went back that far. The staff was incredible and did all they could to help us find information but there was none to be found. We walked the boardwalk and headed to the Halifax Distillery company and did a rum tasting. The young man that was working there was very helpful but the manager found other things for him to do after she arrived. Too bad. He was full of knowledge about their product and we really enjoyed learning about it. That manager didn't interact with us at all.
Having already done the touristy excursion on a previous cruise, we chose to explore on our own and find my favorite shop here, Best of Cape Breton, 154 Bentinick St. If you have any Irish blood in you, this is where you need to go! This is not a tourist trap shop. They have quality items at great prices. We then sought out the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse to have an Irish coffee. It was wonderful! We ordered the lobster roll sliders but we should have only ordered Irish fare in this Irish Alehouse. The amount of lobster on these sliders was barely there. Lesson learned. There are churches that are open to the public when a cruise ship is in and the residents are very proud of their history.