Norwegian Dawn Review

4.0 / 5.0
3,044 reviews

Did Norwegian know where we going?

Review for Africa Cruise on Norwegian Dawn
User Avatar
First Time Cruiser • Age 60s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Mar 2024

I was disappointed with this cruise. I think NCL had a chance to make it something special but chose not to. We had only sailed on Norwegian once before and had not particularly enjoyed it but the itinerary that NCL originally offered with stops in West Africa, Cape Verde and Morocco was so unusual and interesting that we decided to give Norwegian another go. The first disappointment was that shortly after we had made the final payment NCL announced a major change in that it dropped the Cape Verde and Morocco stops. never received a specific explanation for the change but some passengers were told it was for fuel efficiency which seems very odd when we had to sail past Morocco to reach the substitute stops in Spain, Motril and Alcudia.

Embarkation in Cape Town was chaotic with no NCL staff in evidence in the area where passengers were waiting to be called forward. There was a very long queue in the check in area. It took us over 90 minutes to be processed and to get on the ship. Our cabin on Deck 9 forward was clean and comfortable but we didn't get to see our cabin steward until the next day. My luggage was very late to arrive so I went to dinner in clothes in my hand luggage from our stay in Capetown - the advantage of NCL's very casual dress code. So a poor start was followed by several other disappointments. I thought the entertainment programme over the 3 weeks was very poor with only 2 production shows in that time. There were several quizzes each day and these were well attended but questions were often repeated and at least twice the whole quiz was repeated. My biggest disappointment was the seaday that preceded our crossing of the equator - a first for me - as there were no activities to mark it. I did have a meeting with Cruise director to talk about this and she said that the ship did not have the correct health and safety protocols in place to do anything. She said it would be impossible to produce certificates to mark the crossing but several days later a generic certificate was in fact delivered to each cabin. There were so many problems on this ship that I cannot detail them all but one major problem was with communication announcements being very difficult to hear such as the Captain announcing the cancellation of our stop in Gambia. This was blamed on a high tide and a shallow navigation channel both factors that were known about in advance. NCL did not seem to have prepared for the possible problems that would come in calling at ports unexperienced at handling a large number of tourists, for instance the lack of shuttle buses at our Ivory Coast stop which meant that people not on official trips were not allowed off the ship. There was an outbreak of some sort of gastro enteritis on the ship after about 3 days and restrictions in the buffet were still in place when we left the ship 18 days later. Both of us were ill so NCL made a profit from us as it cut down our appetites for food and drink. The final insult was that we had paid £204 for trips in Gambia which were cancelled but the refund was paid in cash in US dollars so we now need to exchange this at a cost to us. There were some good points like the fresh rolls at dinner in the evening, the fun of the Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant and the interesting people we met. The dining and housekeeping staff were great but I think the management staff of the ship were lacking. NCL's Freestyle doesn't suit us but I might have been prepared to go NCL again if a similar interesting and good value itinerary was on offer but after such a poor experience 'Never NCL again' really does mean never. .

Cabin Review

Port Reviews


We did the NCL official tour and had a police escort all day which was a new experience for us, The tour guides were very inexperienced and our guide had very little English so was unable to explain what we were seeing. I found the visit to the orphanage very distressing and there seemed to be no way to make a donation to help out with its work. We stopped very briefly at a botanic garden which was lovely but we had no chance to explore. I think there is some work to be done with the local travel agencies to develop the tourist offering here.

9 Helpful Votes
previous reviewnext review

Find a Norwegian Dawn Cruise from $1,099

Any Month

Get special cruise deals, expert advice, insider tips and more.By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

© 1995—2024, The Independent Traveler, Inc.