Norwegian Dawn Review

4.0 / 5.0
3,039 reviews

NCL let us down in Africa and Madagascar

Review for Africa Cruise on Norwegian Dawn
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First Time Cruiser • Age 50s

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Sail Date: Feb 2024

We've used Norwegian for all our cruises and after this one we hit the Platinum level Latitudes. We've experienced some amazing things cruising with NCL, but this cruise has been awful. Only two redeeming things we've had in 12 days. The first was a dinner at their new Mexican restaurant Los Lobos Cantina. The food was excellent, the service was exceptional. We also always book the Mandara Spa Thermal Suite pass. The spa is the best way to relax after a full day of excursions. The Spa staff was as always very helpful and treat guests like we are special, not just average Jane and Joe. Aside from that one hour dinner, and use of the Spa Thermal Lounge, this was a real stinker. The unified tone from the rest of the staff was complete indifference. Cagney's steaks (at a $60 cover charge) were cold on arrival and undercooked. The garlic mushrooms were the most likely candidate for my wife getting food poisoning causing both of us to be quarantined for 24 hours in our room. This was our Valentine's day dinner and my wife spent all night in the bathroom bursting from both ends. We then missed our excursion to Mossel Bay. The medical officer and nurse were nice, they checked up on us periodically and ensured we wouldn't incur charges for the room service so I could eat while quarantined. We have avoided the onboard mushrooms needless to say. Our experience with the other non-complimentry restaurants was the same as Cagneys, indifferent staff who couldn't care less about service. I bought the soda package for myself because we don't drink alcohol and I like to have a Coke now and then. I was charged 5 bucks for every soda until I went twice to the "guest service" desk and complained. The food and beverage manager was reluctant to refund even though I paid $100 for the unlimited package. The cruise entertainment was stale consisting of a second rate poorly excecuted magic show, a guy who played a pan flute, and some guy who was featured on Britain's got talent. The lounge acts were performed by a Philippine cover band that sounded like karaoke at the local Korean restaurant playing old Beatles and 70s disco. Our stateroom was surrounded by smokers. We reported them to "guest services" 4 times before they were fined the $250 for smoking in a non-smoking room. The plumbing on our deck was constantly backed up and made our bathroom smell like feces and urine everyday. We had a bottle of air freshener that helped.

Only one of our shore excursions lived up to what was written, a safari to see the big 5 animals in their park. What made it special was the tour guide not NCL. After the food poisoning we refused to eat the local fruits and lunches provided by the vendors. The food was pretty scary looking anyway. The people in Madagascar are very poor, so wherever we went we were pummeled by locals selling magnets and trinkets. That's not their fault and we purchased as much as we could to help them, but NCL sent us out into the slums to get berated by hungry locals. At the beginning of the voyage we purchased a $1000 package for future NCL cruises, before this cruise we were always satisfied if not happy with our VERY EXPENSIVE vacation. So we are trapped into at least 2 more cruises with NCL; so we will look to generic Caribbean destinations on their new ships so we get the most bang for our buck. The Dawn is a beat up old ship. It mirrors all the other Dawn class, Sun class, and Jewel class ships. We decided to go on this cruise for the destinations and not the ship. It would be nice if they would scrap these old vessels and send some of the nicer newer ships to the exotic locations, which is why we haven't booked a voyage to southeast Asia yet. All these cruises are on old ships that we have no interest in sailing on again and again. We have to use NCL again which right now is a total bummer. We have heard that several of the other lines have exceptional service, ships, food, and destinations. NCL has been good up until now and if they pick up their game we are happy to continue towards our Saphire Latitudes. Unfortunately, we've spent lots of our expensive online time looking at other cruise lines while idle in the spa or eating our powdered scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast.

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The people of Madagascar really tried to make us feel welcome, they are very friendly. It is a 3rd world port. We would have rather gone somewhere else.

Nosy Be

We tendered in and were taken back by the living conditions these people have. They gave us a 1st rate welcome and treated us to Lemurs on our shoulders!

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