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Background: We are a young family with mom in between jobs which gave us this specific time in late August to travel. We had been on the Norwegian Majesty once before and were totally unimpressed which made me swear off NCL. Well, then we wanted to take our 11 month old with us somewhere and figured the anytime dining and more casual atmosphere of NCL might be worth another shot. Overall, our experience with NCL was definitely better this time, but there was just enough wrong with it that I will stick to our other two favorite cruise lines from now on. Hotel info: Boston hotels are pricey! We stayed in the Bulfinch hotel for 2 nights prior to our cruise in the north part of downtown which was conveniently within walking distance of most major tourist destinations while being in a reasonably quiet area. We stayed in a king "suite" which was about $220 a night (including taxes). Au Bon Pain was literally a block away providing a good, cheap breakfast. They provided a pack and play for the infant. Travel to Port of Embarkation: On check out day, we were offered use of their transport van to take us to the pier for $25 for the family and luggage. Given the amount of luggage we had and the car seat, we happily obliged. We had a great, friendly driver and were glad we chose that option. Embarkation: We arrived to the pier around noon and it was very busy with a very long line to drop off luggage with the porters. I've never seen anything like it. I was hoping after we dropped off our luggage we'd be done with most of the waiting, but we still waited a while to actually check in. Definitely a weak spot overall in our cruise. Ship info: The Dawn is a very pretty ship, but she has a few flaws. So much of the public areas have been taken up with restaurants that there really isn't enough public room area for everyone. Most of the public rooms are in the middle of the ship meaning that there are no public room areas with good outside views. Generally, the Lido deck was always so painfully crowded that we only went there in the mornings on port days. The buffet was so crowded in the mornings and at lunch that we usually avoided it. Fellow passengers: These were mostly families from the New England and Massachusetts area. There were about 800 kids onboard and you could tell it, too. I will not cruise again during summer break. Most of the kids were generally well behaved but sometimes you would see groups of loud kids wandering about who were way too young to be doing so unsupervised. I don't know how else to say this without sounding really snobbish, but the crowd was a kind of Jersey Shore-ish. Loud, badly tattooed, badly dressed, and overall uncouth. There were people who showed up to the buffet without bathing suit coverups and who showed up in bathrobes. Kids Programs: There was no formal program for the under 2 crowd but they do have an Under 2 Zoo which is basically a big playroom with play mats on the floor and lots of toys. It looks like a standard day care room. We were very grateful to bring our son there so he could crawl around and have different toys to play with each day. We only saw 2 other families utilizing the space the whole week, so I hope NCL continues this. Entertainment: This is where NCL shines. The entertainment was great. Obviously we were limited in what we could see due to having an infant with us, and much of the entertainment was quite late at night which is the only reason I give them a 5 instead of a 5+. Second City was very funny, and we enjoyed the Who's the Boss game show which is like the newlywed game between parents and kids. We enjoyed the evening music in the Spinnaker. Dining: I was pleasantly surprised by how good the dining was compared to our last cruise in some ways but was disappointed in other ways. We tried 2 specialty restaurants: La Cucina and Bamboo. My husband had diarrhea, and I vomited after eating at La Cucina. Bamboo had great appetizers, soups, and desserts, but the entrees were seriously no different than what we could have had at the buffet. I mean, they were exactly the same. The buffet for dinner was generally better than expected, especially the make your own pasta bar, pizza, and fondue, and was not too busy. We ate breakfast in the main dining room most days. Lunch was all over the place. Blue Lagoon was pretty good. We enjoyed the tomato soup in particular. The changing dinner menu in the MDR was good but definitely limited. No doubt, NCL is really trying to push people into the specialty restaurants at night which really isn't fair given how much they charge for cruise fare. Service: Could not have asked for better. The staff work so hard and were so obliging to every request. The really doted over our son. I have only praise in this area. Disembarkation: This was only slightly better than embarkation. If you didn't have the earliest color luggage tags called, it probably took quite a while to get off. Definitely plan to walk your own stuff off or get the early luggage tags.

6th cruise, 2nd with NCL, 1st with infant!

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by croozymooner

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2011
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Background: We are a young family with mom in between jobs which gave us this specific time in late August to travel. We had been on the Norwegian Majesty once before and were totally unimpressed which made me swear off NCL. Well, then we wanted to take our 11 month old with us somewhere and figured the anytime dining and more casual atmosphere of NCL might be worth another shot. Overall, our experience with NCL was definitely better this time, but there was just enough wrong with it that I will stick to our other two favorite cruise lines from now on.



Hotel info: Boston hotels are pricey! We stayed in the Bulfinch hotel for 2 nights prior to our cruise in the north part of downtown which was conveniently within walking distance of most major tourist destinations while being in a reasonably quiet area. We stayed in a king "suite" which was about $220 a night (including taxes). Au Bon Pain was literally a block away providing a good, cheap breakfast. They provided a pack and play for the infant.



Travel to Port of Embarkation: On check out day, we were offered use of their transport van to take us to the pier for $25 for the family and luggage. Given the amount of luggage we had and the car seat, we happily obliged. We had a great, friendly driver and were glad we chose that option.



Embarkation: We arrived to the pier around noon and it was very busy with a very long line to drop off luggage with the porters. I've never seen anything like it. I was hoping after we dropped off our luggage we'd be done with most of the waiting, but we still waited a while to actually check in. Definitely a weak spot overall in our cruise.



Ship info: The Dawn is a very pretty ship, but she has a few flaws. So much of the public areas have been taken up with restaurants that there really isn't enough public room area for everyone. Most of the public rooms are in the middle of the ship meaning that there are no public room areas with good outside views. Generally, the Lido deck was always so painfully crowded that we only went there in the mornings on port days. The buffet was so crowded in the mornings and at lunch that we usually avoided it.



Fellow passengers: These were mostly families from the New England and Massachusetts area. There were about 800 kids onboard and you could tell it, too. I will not cruise again during summer break. Most of the kids were generally well behaved but sometimes you would see groups of loud kids wandering about who were way too young to be doing so unsupervised. I don't know how else to say this without sounding really snobbish, but the crowd was a kind of Jersey Shore-ish. Loud, badly tattooed, badly dressed, and overall uncouth. There were people who showed up to the buffet without bathing suit coverups and who showed up in bathrobes.



Kids Programs: There was no formal program for the under 2 crowd but they do have an Under 2 Zoo which is basically a big playroom with play mats on the floor and lots of toys. It looks like a standard day care room. We were very grateful to bring our son there so he could crawl around and have different toys to play with each day. We only saw 2 other families utilizing the space the whole week, so I hope NCL continues this.

Entertainment: This is where NCL shines. The entertainment was great. Obviously we were limited in what we could see due to having an infant with us, and much of the entertainment was quite late at night which is the only reason I give them a 5 instead of a 5+. Second City was very funny, and we enjoyed the Who's the Boss game show which is like the newlywed game between parents and kids. We enjoyed the evening music in the Spinnaker.



Dining: I was pleasantly surprised by how good the dining was compared to our last cruise in some ways but was disappointed in other ways. We tried 2 specialty restaurants: La Cucina and Bamboo. My husband had diarrhea, and I vomited after eating at La Cucina. Bamboo had great appetizers, soups, and desserts, but the entrees were seriously no different than what we could have had at the buffet. I mean, they were exactly the same. The buffet for dinner was generally better than expected, especially the make your own pasta bar, pizza, and fondue, and was not too busy. We ate breakfast in the main dining room most days. Lunch was all over the place. Blue Lagoon was pretty good. We enjoyed the tomato soup in particular. The changing dinner menu in the MDR was good but definitely limited. No doubt, NCL is really trying to push people into the specialty restaurants at night which really isn't fair given how much they charge for cruise fare.



Service: Could not have asked for better. The staff work so hard and were so obliging to every request. The really doted over our son. I have only praise in this area.



Disembarkation: This was only slightly better than embarkation. If you didn't have the earliest color luggage tags called, it probably took quite a while to get off. Definitely plan to walk your own stuff off or get the early luggage tags.
croozymooner’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA 11650
We were in 11650 (mid ship mini suite) was certainly a very nice cabin and perfect for a family of 3. With the pack and play, we moved one of the dining table chairs and the small coffee table onto the balcony (very generously sized balcony) which left plenty of room for the pack and play though it did block part of the couch. The bathroom and full size bathtub were great. We were underneath the Garden Cafe (the buffet) which was quite noisy at times. The noise was that of people and carts rolling and wasn't bothersome while we were awake, but I am a very light sleeper, and it did bother me early in the morning. Unfortunately, most of the mini-suites are underneath noisy areas which is really annoying. Mattresses were a bit hard and uncomfortable but not terrible. There was lots of storage space but only two very small drawers. Of note, the closet has a light in the back you can turn on to see your stuff better.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • King's Wharf
    Bermuda was okay but it will probably be a while before we return. There is no tendering at King's Wharf which is always a plus. The King's Wharf area itself certainly has enough to do for a full afternoon which is nice. The Bermuda museum/fort right there is very good and worth the $10 per person if you make the walk up to the Commissioner's house. Shopping right around the port is also decent for souvenirs. The first day, a Sunday, we took a ship excursion to Horseshoe Bay Beach. Very little is open on Sundays in Bermuda. The bus drivers had been on strike right before we got there, and I wasn't sure if they would be available or not, so we went ahead and paid $28 each for a trip to the beach and back with a bit of a detour on the way back for some photo opportunities/touring. Turns out the drivers ended their strike right before we got there but we still felt the excursion was worth it given how easy it was. The beach really was gorgeous. Slightly crowded feeling but not too much so. It was $11 to rent an umbrella or any kind of chair if you were interested plus a $5 refundable deposit.
    The next day we took the ferry to Hamilton to wander around. It was $4 per person each way. Hamilton was a bit disappointing to me. The museum closed at 2pm so we missed it. Shopping and restaurants were very expensive. We saw a nice Anglican church and walked up to Fort Hamilton which was nice but quite a hot hike. Not much else to do without taking a bus. Given the later start to the day (didn't leave the ship until noon) and the fact that everything closes at about 5pm, that just wasn't going to work. The 6pm ferry on the way back to the ship was very crowded to the point that I was worried about getting on the ferry. We arrived early for the ferry and the guy there tried to have us line up which just resulted in us being at the back of a line that was totally un-enforced when other people showed up and pushed to the front.
    Tuesday, the day we left, we stayed around the port which was enjoyable. Next time, I would spend an additional day at the beautiful beaches, suck up the taxi charges and just taxi it somewhere fun like the zoo/aquarium, or go to St. George's. Between the bus driver strike and the ferry experience, I'm just not that enamored with what a pain it is getting around in Bermuda. Others obviously disagree.
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