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We sailed on NCL Pride of Aloha to the islands of Hawaii way back and had a really great time but we chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary and that it sailed from New York and not Florida. Anything that shortens flying time is a bonus! Since then it's been Celebrity pretty much every time. Anywho, after a hideous drive into Manhattan due to a 'non pick-up' at JFK by NCL (we had to arrange our own transport. NCL refunded the cost) we spent two nights at the Marriott Marquis. A beautiful hotel in Times Square! We dined at the Hard Rock Cafe on the first night becoming well aware of the high cost of NYC and a poor exchange rate! The next day we made our way to the Hard Rock at Yankee Stadium, taking the subway. Quite an experience! (I'm a HRC pin collector). The weather was bright but very cold due to high winds coming off the Hudson so our sightseeing was limited to Grand Central Station and a couple of other places. The Saturday morning we were transported to the Norwegian Dawn and boarded without any hassle, our stateroom was ready for us and the luggage was already outside the door! Our first impression of the ship was positive, the public areas had recently been upgraded and we were impressed with the layout and facilities. The cabin was however a little disappointing in size and the lack of storage was apparent as we began to unpack. It didn't spoil the holiday. The cabin steward was very attentive and cheerful as one has come to expect on cruises these days. As usual the first thing was to get to the Garden Cafe buffet to get a snack and our traditional 'first beer of the cruise'. We had a free drinks package plus free wifi, pre-paid gratuities and various other 'sweeteners' that came with our booking. Result! The food was pretty standard fare in a very pleasant area on deck 12. We ate there every day for breakfast and even a couple of evenings. We never dined in the main dining rooms, The Venetian or The Aqua! Most unusual for us as we love the rapport and banter that usually comes with dining at the same table every evening. The reason was some of the entertainment was at a time that would have clashed with 'normal' dining times. We ate in Bamboo, an oriental restaurant a couple of times, lovely Chinese and Thai food. Also O'Sheehan's (get the pun) bar and grille. It offered Chicken wings, burgers, fish and chips, hot dogs etc. etc. done to a high standard. These are free-to-dine places, no cover charge. I have to say, the amount of dining options on this ship are extraordinary! I think there are fourteen in all!! This brings me on to the music and entertainment. I have been a musician and entertainer for most of my life so my opinions and view of things entertainment are perhaps skewed and analytical compared to some people. Overall the entertainment was of a high standard. The production cast and their shows were superb and well rehearsed. The guest artistes, especially Jackie Barr, US stand-up comic, were great! The house orchestra was very good and accomplished too but an attempt to do a tribute to Doris Day was perhaps misjudged? DD had SUCH a perfect voice that any tribute MUST be of exceptional quality, it wasn't I'm afraid. The 'party' band Sonata on the other hand were EXCEPTIONAL! No genre of popular music was beyond their capabilities. From Louis Armstrong to Michael Jackson. From AC/DC to Abba. Nothing was beyond them. Superb guys!! The two lead singers (male and female) were flawless. A pity the same cannot be said about the Reggae band. The band themselves were good musicians but the female singer was pretty dire. Not that she couldn't sing but she was 'all over the shop'! She didn't seem to know some of the songs and the band struggled to find where she was in some of the numbers. More rehearsal guys. Also on board were a duo who appeared in the Atrium most days. From the little we saw of them they were OK and the female half was really good. The solo guitarist/singer was adequate, I have heard better in my local social club. Ditto the solo pianist/singer. Not really good enough NCL. There are a million acts 'out there' who could do a better job. The next subject, although linked to the previous category, was the so called back ground music on board. Bearing in mind the average age was conservatively 65, the type of music and the volume at which it was played we totally inappropriate! It became such an issue that, after two days at sea, we could no longer stand to be on deck, poolside. The constant 'four on the floor' dance music played by the DJ was excruciating and played a high volume to boot. This was exacerbated by the appearance daily of the aforesaid Reggae band. The bass boomed out across the open areas and destroyed any chance of resting or playing one's own music via headphones. Come on NCL, take a look at your audience and tailor the music to suit please. I appreciate there were younger people on board who perhaps appreciated the choice of material and the volume it was presented at, but majority rules eh? The itinerary was very much to our taste. The Caribbean is such a magical place! We have been back many time since we started cruising in the 1990's and we still love it. We now take tours with local firms and, along with a few other folks, we have a great experience usually. SO much less expensive than booking on board! One thing we noticed this time, when we tried to book a road-train tour of both Curacao and Bonaire we found that the ship had monopolised the entire days availability so no one else could get a look-in! This is something we hadn't experienced on previous cruises. Perhaps you have. All the islands were as we remembered them, perhaps a little more built up than on a previous visit? To be expected I guess. Beautiful places with magical people! I won't list the entire itinerary as it's been published already. Take time to see the islands and not just the shopping! Finally, disembarkation. I'll sum it up in one, a NIGHTMARE! It transpired that the previous ship had been blown into one of the gantries and destroyed it making our docking troublesome to say the least. The consequence, all passengers had to leave the ship via one exit! The main problems were caused by a large percentage of passengers trying to disembark carrying their own luggage. Why would you want to do that? We were booked to do a tour of NYC and surrounding areas simply to pass the time until our 19.30 from JFK to LHR. We thought it would be much better than sitting around the airport for many hours. WRONG! By the time we finally got off the ship, about two hours late, there was but an hour or so before we had to transport a few of the people on the bus to La Guardia in Queens NY!! By the time we had accomplished that task (La Guardia is undergoing MAJOR upgrades) we then had to drive directly to JFK. No time to get to the proposed sights of NYC! At $99 each it was not a good idea. We have asked for a refund but have yet to hear back from NCL. To sum up. We thoroughly enjoyed the holiday! Sure there were quibbles along the way, no cruise is 100% perfect, but we came away feeling rested and ready for the next six months until the next one on Celebrity Eclipse! We would recommend the Norwegian Dawn highly, although it is showing signs of age, it's still a lovely ship with many qualities. Great crew, cruise staff and entertainers.

First time with NCL for 14 years.

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by wheeljammer

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
We sailed on NCL Pride of Aloha to the islands of Hawaii way back and had a really great time but we chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary and that it sailed from New York and not Florida. Anything that shortens flying time is a bonus! Since then it's been Celebrity pretty much every time. Anywho, after a hideous drive into Manhattan due to a 'non pick-up' at JFK by NCL (we had to arrange our own transport. NCL refunded the cost) we spent two nights at the Marriott Marquis. A beautiful hotel in Times Square! We dined at the Hard Rock Cafe on the first night becoming well aware of the high cost of NYC and a poor exchange rate! The next day we made our way to the Hard Rock at Yankee Stadium, taking the subway. Quite an experience! (I'm a HRC pin collector). The weather was bright but very cold due to high winds coming off the Hudson so our sightseeing was limited to Grand Central Station and a couple of other places.

The Saturday morning we were transported to the Norwegian Dawn and boarded without any hassle, our stateroom was ready for us and the luggage was already outside the door! Our first impression of the ship was positive, the public areas had recently been upgraded and we were impressed with the layout and facilities. The cabin was however a little disappointing in size and the lack of storage was apparent as we began to unpack. It didn't spoil the holiday. The cabin steward was very attentive and cheerful as one has come to expect on cruises these days. As usual the first thing was to get to the Garden Cafe buffet to get a snack and our traditional 'first beer of the cruise'. We had a free drinks package plus free wifi, pre-paid gratuities and various other 'sweeteners' that came with our booking. Result! The food was pretty standard fare in a very pleasant area on deck 12. We ate there every day for breakfast and even a couple of evenings. We never dined in the main dining rooms, The Venetian or The Aqua! Most unusual for us as we love the rapport and banter that usually comes with dining at the same table every evening. The reason was some of the entertainment was at a time that would have clashed with 'normal' dining times. We ate in Bamboo, an oriental restaurant a couple of times, lovely Chinese and Thai food. Also O'Sheehan's (get the pun) bar and grille. It offered Chicken wings, burgers, fish and chips, hot dogs etc. etc. done to a high standard. These are free-to-dine places, no cover charge. I have to say, the amount of dining options on this ship are extraordinary! I think there are fourteen in all!!

This brings me on to the music and entertainment. I have been a musician and entertainer for most of my life so my opinions and view of things entertainment are perhaps skewed and analytical compared to some people. Overall the entertainment was of a high standard. The production cast and their shows were superb and well rehearsed. The guest artistes, especially Jackie Barr, US stand-up comic, were great! The house orchestra was very good and accomplished too but an attempt to do a tribute to Doris Day was perhaps misjudged? DD had SUCH a perfect voice that any tribute MUST be of exceptional quality, it wasn't I'm afraid. The 'party' band Sonata on the other hand were EXCEPTIONAL! No genre of popular music was beyond their capabilities. From Louis Armstrong to Michael Jackson. From AC/DC to Abba. Nothing was beyond them. Superb guys!! The two lead singers (male and female) were flawless. A pity the same cannot be said about the Reggae band. The band themselves were good musicians but the female singer was pretty dire. Not that she couldn't sing but she was 'all over the shop'! She didn't seem to know some of the songs and the band struggled to find where she was in some of the numbers. More rehearsal guys. Also on board were a duo who appeared in the Atrium most days. From the little we saw of them they were OK and the female half was really good. The solo guitarist/singer was adequate, I have heard better in my local social club. Ditto the solo pianist/singer. Not really good enough NCL. There are a million acts 'out there' who could do a better job. The next subject, although linked to the previous category, was the so called back ground music on board. Bearing in mind the average age was conservatively 65, the type of music and the volume at which it was played we totally inappropriate! It became such an issue that, after two days at sea, we could no longer stand to be on deck, poolside. The constant 'four on the floor' dance music played by the DJ was excruciating and played a high volume to boot. This was exacerbated by the appearance daily of the aforesaid Reggae band. The bass boomed out across the open areas and destroyed any chance of resting or playing one's own music via headphones. Come on NCL, take a look at your audience and tailor the music to suit please. I appreciate there were younger people on board who perhaps appreciated the choice of material and the volume it was presented at, but majority rules eh?

The itinerary was very much to our taste. The Caribbean is such a magical place! We have been back many time since we started cruising in the 1990's and we still love it. We now take tours with local firms and, along with a few other folks, we have a great experience usually. SO much less expensive than booking on board! One thing we noticed this time, when we tried to book a road-train tour of both Curacao and Bonaire we found that the ship had monopolised the entire days availability so no one else could get a look-in! This is something we hadn't experienced on previous cruises. Perhaps you have. All the islands were as we remembered them, perhaps a little more built up than on a previous visit? To be expected I guess. Beautiful places with magical people! I won't list the entire itinerary as it's been published already. Take time to see the islands and not just the shopping!

Finally, disembarkation. I'll sum it up in one, a NIGHTMARE! It transpired that the previous ship had been blown into one of the gantries and destroyed it making our docking troublesome to say the least. The consequence, all passengers had to leave the ship via one exit! The main problems were caused by a large percentage of passengers trying to disembark carrying their own luggage. Why would you want to do that? We were booked to do a tour of NYC and surrounding areas simply to pass the time until our 19.30 from JFK to LHR. We thought it would be much better than sitting around the airport for many hours. WRONG! By the time we finally got off the ship, about two hours late, there was but an hour or so before we had to transport a few of the people on the bus to La Guardia in Queens NY!! By the time we had accomplished that task (La Guardia is undergoing MAJOR upgrades) we then had to drive directly to JFK. No time to get to the proposed sights of NYC! At $99 each it was not a good idea. We have asked for a refund but have yet to hear back from NCL.

To sum up. We thoroughly enjoyed the holiday! Sure there were quibbles along the way, no cruise is 100% perfect, but we came away feeling rested and ready for the next six months until the next one on Celebrity Eclipse! We would recommend the Norwegian Dawn highly, although it is showing signs of age, it's still a lovely ship with many qualities. Great crew, cruise staff and entertainers.
wheeljammer’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BC
Covered this already, but smaller than average, not too much storage.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews