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Sail Date: May 2004
I give this cruise two thumbs up. My sister and I planned this cruise and it went above and beyond our expectations. This was my sister's first cruise and it was my second cruise but first with Norwegian. We boarded the Norwegian Dawn ... Read More
I give this cruise two thumbs up. My sister and I planned this cruise and it went above and beyond our expectations. This was my sister's first cruise and it was my second cruise but first with Norwegian. We boarded the Norwegian Dawn out of NYC on May 24th. The ship is amazing. There is plenty to do for everyone. We were in Cabin #5650 and although it was rather small (as many cruise cabins are) it was very clean which is most important. They did a wonderful job with keeping our cabin neat and clean. If there was anything you needed, they were right there to deliver it to you. As for the entertainment, we couldn't get over the numerous activities that would take place on a daily basis. There was always something to do no matter what time of day it was. We enjoyed this very much. We were entertained by Fabio who was incredibly talented. Fabio kept everyone mesmerized with his talent ..."Exciting No". We enjoyed him very much. We also give two thumbs up to the Karaoke that is offered in Dazzles each night. This was very entertaining as well. It's surprising to see that the person you were sitting next to in one of the restaurants has a hidden secret talent within them. Bollywood was a very good show in the Stardust Theater and we enjoyed the comedy acts as well. Speaking of comedy....the Cruise Director, Paul and the Assistant Cruise Director, Mike (from Canada)were absolutely amazing...loved them! What a pair! They continued to make everyone laugh and keep everyone motivated throughout the cruise. No matter where you were, they would appear and get the crowd going. It seemed they were on 24/7. I don't know how they do it. I enjoyed their entertainment the most and hope to see them again in the future. The dining on the Norwegian Dawn was incredible. Our favorite restaurant was the Venetian. The Venetian was very fancy and offered a wide variety of entrees. We dined here a lot. Just as we were finished one meal, our next dish was promptly brought over. The service was excellent. The staff did a wonderful job. The only place that we didn't really care for was the Blue Lagoon but we only stopped there once when we were limited to time and wanted to grab a quick bite. The food seemed a bit greasy but this may have been the choice we made as far as the food was concerned. We also ordered room service and the food was unexpectedly satisfying. It was delivered quick as well and we ordered many different items. The Java Hut had great coffee. We enjoyed a cup there each morning along with there variety of pastries. The Hotel Director, Klaus, was a great help to us as well. He noticed we were standing at the Oasis Pool while enjoying the entertainment and asked us if we would like chairs to sit down. Two chairs were promptly brought over and he gave me his card and advised me to use it if I ever needed anything else throughout our stay. Rob kept us entertained with trivia in the Star Bar with other fellow passengers. That was fun! We had the opportunity to meet a lot of people while on board. I look forward to cruising with the Norwegian Dawn again. All in all the ship was unbelievable. We will definitely plan another cruise on this ship. I miss it already. It's tough to get back to reality after enjoying the luxury of all that was offered on board. Great job to everyone ..you do a wonderful job. Keep up the great work and ...see you soon!!! =) Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
I must say, I was quite disappointed with this cruise, after all the hype I heard about it. I travelled with my husband and 18 other people, including my 2 nieces (ages 3 years old and 6 months old), sister and brother-in-law, parents, 2 ... Read More
I must say, I was quite disappointed with this cruise, after all the hype I heard about it. I travelled with my husband and 18 other people, including my 2 nieces (ages 3 years old and 6 months old), sister and brother-in-law, parents, 2 friends of my parents with their 14-year-old daughter and her friend, aunt, uncle and cousins (23 years old and 17 years old), and our 2 neighbors with their 2 children (ages 9 years old and 10 months old). So, we had a variety of ages in our group. The ship itself was beautiful and not too difficult to get around. The artwork was nice and the ship was not overdone or too loud. The Venetian Dining Room was the most elegant looking restaurant we ate in, and the Pearly Kings Pub was the nicest looking bar in my opinion. Most of the food tasted good, but much of it was way too salty. In the Italian restaurant my mother had to send back the chicken parmigiana because it just tasted like salt. Salsas was a really good restaurant, as far as food goes. Service on this ship was another story... The service was terrible everywhere we went, except for the room steward who was excellent. It took us about 3 hours each night to eat dinner, whether all 20 of us ate together or just a few of us (2 or 4) ate together at a time. The service was way too slow. Bar service was much quicker, but of course it was...we have to pay extra for it!!! At breakfast on the last morning, it took them 10-15 minutes just to give us menus after we sat down! And the table next to us, who sat down after us, had already gotten menus and ordered their breakfast at that time! We were told on the first day of the cruise (by the Maitre D') that you cannot reserve a table in the Venetian dining room, but you can only reserve in Aqua (another dining room). So we reserved for Aqua each night for 20 of us, and cancelled early in the day if we did not plan to eat altogether. The last night of the cruise, we decided to try out the Venetian (slightly different menu), so we got there at 5:30 when it opened to assure getting a table or even 2 or 3 tables to accommodate all of us. When we got to the Venetian, we were told that we should have made a reservation in advance! But we were told that we could not make reservations!!! Too much inconsistency on this ship. The crew should all get together and get their "facts" straight. Even in Salsa restaurant, where the food was great, the service was poor. It took 3 and a half hours for 6 of us to eat dinner. We arrived at 6:30 and got out of there at 10:00! Way too long for dinner. We ate breakfast at the buffet one morning and it was terrible. Even the made-to-order waffles were like rubber! And the pancakes were even worse! I was sorry we did that on the one morning, and we went back to the dining room the following morning and continued eating breakfast there everyday. I wonder if the service was any better in the restaurants with a cover charge. I am starting to wonder if that is the gimmick Norwegian Cruise Line has going here with this "freestyle" cruising they have...perhaps if I paid extra each night to eat in one of the three specialty restaurants with a cover charge, I would have been treated better? We opted not to eat at those places since we had so many other choices. But they tell you that you cannot make reservations in advance for the specialty restaurants (including Italian and Mexican, with no cover charge), unless it is the day of the reservation or the day before. And reservations began at 8AM. Then how come when I went to reserve the Italian restaurant at 8AM when the reservation desk opened, I was told it was booked up for the next day? I thought you couldn't make reservations more than a day in advance...hmm, another thing gone wrong. Again, they need to get their facts straight. Now we come to the entertainment. Overall, very good. The cruise director was excellent, nice and really funny. The bands were all really good. I also like it that they had karaoke every night and that you had to be over 21 after 11PM. That seemed fair to me, and kids got to do karaoke earlier in the evening, from 8PM. 70s/80s night was really good, as was the deck party on Caribbean night. I had one problem with the entertainment...the Star Seeker Talent Show. I participated in this. It is like any other cruise talent show (which I do on every cruise we go on), but this one is a contest. Three or 4 judges (employees on board the ship) choose a winner from up to 10 people performing, any talent basically. Most people sang. I did not participate in this to win, just for fun like on the other cruises I was on. The prize for the winner was a chance to win a free cruise for 2 and perform in the shows on that same cruise, ship and sail date to be determined by NCL. Basically, the show is videotaped by NCL and the video portion of the winner's performance is sent to NCL, along with winners on every NCL ship. The final winner of the free cruise and chance to perform on a ship is chosen from those videos. It said specifically in the "Freestyle Daily" activity sheet that all participants must be at least 18 years of age in order to participate. However, a couple of girls (teenagers under 18) showed up to the rehearsal and basically made a big stink about the age requirement and asked to speak to the person in charge. The girl with the loudest mouth claimed that she was 18. They let he in the show. Another girl also got into the show (could not have been more than 14 if even that old!). So, we get to rehearsal, and the girl that made the big stink about the age requirement practices second, after this one man that sang. Now they told us we can just go after we rehearse, and they told us where to meet for the show that night. This girl decided to stay, sat down with her mother in the front row and laughed at every person that performed (about 2 or 3 more before I rehearsed). I thought that was really rude, and it was obvious enough where they could have stopped them from doing it but no one said anything to them. I left after I rehearsed (I was 5th to rehearse or so). We get to the show, and 7 of us performed. Everyone did very well. I thought for sure the last woman that sang should win. She has the nicest voice, great stage presence, she was gorgeous and the audience absolutely loved her and gave her a standing ovation. We all thought (for the most part except for a certain someone) that she should win and that she would be the winner. They announced the winner, and it was the girl that made a big stink about the age requirement and laughed at everyone. I know she is not 18 years old because my husband was sitting right next to her grandmother, and she told the judges (after the fact) that the girl is only 14!! What kind of cruise line doesn't check for the age of the people in the show, when they are supposedly trying to hire someone to perform on a cruise ship? In my opinion, they chose her as the winner because they knew from the original signing up that she was underage and they don't have to give her a free cruise. I am assuming that due to the fact that she is only 14, she cannot work on a ship and therefore is disqualified. And they let her ruin it for the rest of the people that were legitimately in the show. I felt bad particularly for the one that should have won. Overall, I was disappointed with this cruise, to put it mildly. I do not want to ever cruise with NCL again, as this was my second experience with them, and the first one was basically the same. I think freestyle cruising is good because you can sit down to dinner anytime, but bad for that reason also. Too long a wait if you did not have a nightly reservation for the same time or get there at 5:30 when the dining room opens. And they claim you can stay in your cabin until you leave the ship on the last morning, but my cousins were kicked out of their cabin long before anyone was able to leave the ship. Not fair. I will definitely go back to either Royal Caribbean or Carnival next time. Better food, better service, better age regulations, better cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
My wife and I celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary on the Dawn the W/O 4/18. We had an excellent time. I read far too many reviews and was quite upset that I may have booked the cruise from Hell based on what I had read. HAVE NO FEARS! ... Read More
My wife and I celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary on the Dawn the W/O 4/18. We had an excellent time. I read far too many reviews and was quite upset that I may have booked the cruise from Hell based on what I had read. HAVE NO FEARS! This was a marvelous cruise at a reasonable price. We had a very clean room with a balcony. In spite of hearing that the help on board wasn't happy or helpful because of the auto gratuity charge. We found the help to be friendly and very accommodating. We did not run into a language barrier as was stated in many comments and reviews. We ate in the Venetian, Aqua, Impressions, and Le Bistro. Each meal we had was beyond our expectations. We tried the Garden Buffet and this wasn't something for us. I guess if this was a place you ate at regularly because of families and not wanting to eat in a formal setting you might understand why people have said there was cafeteria food on board. The chocolate buffet was stupendous! The Casino was small but fine with us we're not big gamblers. Spent $50.00 won $25.00 and ran off grateful to have lost only $25.00. The ports of call were just what we expected. We went to Kennedy Space center and Miami Beach. Here's a tip...Don't buy the bus pass in Miami for $18.00 a piece. You can take a taxi to the Bayshore Mall 5 minutes away and spend the day there...there was enough to do there, I had wanted to experience Cuban food so we went to South Beach and ate at Gloria Esteban's Cubano restaurant. We found out we could experience a similar taste of Cuba at the Mall. However it was fun in South Beach and we did enjoy the food we had, dining on the sidewalk in an outdoor cafe was well worth the time and money for us. The private island was fun, the weather was sunny and warm. It was quite a surprise to have the water as cold as it was. Too cold for me to enjoy. Nassau was a good time. There were 800 children on board the ship. They did not get in our way. One reason for this was that we didn't go to the pool too often 'cause there was so much else to do. We also ate late each evening at 9 o'clock or later...we usually don't eat at home most nights until 8 anyway. We saw most every show and thought it to be of Broadway caliber, (we've seen many Broadway shows). GO ON THIS CRUISE, YOU'LL HAVE A GOOD TIME. YES WE ARE GOING BACK AGAIN SOON. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
Our 2nd Dawn cruise within a year, our 3rd overall, and this time including first time cruisers, two daughters and two young grandkids. We had an easy embarkation, from arriving early with no traffic, parking at the pier, and using our ... Read More
Our 2nd Dawn cruise within a year, our 3rd overall, and this time including first time cruisers, two daughters and two young grandkids. We had an easy embarkation, from arriving early with no traffic, parking at the pier, and using our Latitudes card for quick access. The major difference for us this time was a very nice experience with Kid's Krew. Though we picked and chose times to let the kids partake in the activities, they enjoyed it very much, and want to go again. As we had experienced in June/02, the freestyle dining is a great way to go, as we liked the opportunity to choose our dining preferences based on what we were doing that particular day, and that goes for the type of food, and the time of dining. We also are not interested in formal attire. Le Bistro and Cagney's were outstanding, as was Venetian for the inclusive restaurants. Entertainment is very high quality, especially the Jean Ryan Productions, and the musical performances were excellent, and of a nice variety. We did not take any NCL excursions other than the south Beach shuttle, as we were content with 3 simple beach days and a trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom by rental car. Our only complaint of the cruise was the shortened day at Nassau, as the scheduled 7 - 2 day was in actuality, less than 4 hours, as we were not cleared off the ship until after 10. They need a full day there, and a half-day at the island. The staff and service throughout the ship were outstanding, and that includes the personal contact we had with some of the operational managers, made available through the Latitudes meeting. Our cabins were spotless, and our stewards outstanding, and friendly. Same goes for the restaurant staff. No truth to the claims that freestyle results in no incentive to provide such quality service. We ended the cruise with our smoothest debarkation, and look forward to another cruise on the Dawn one day, maybe a winter cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
The Norwegian Dawn cruise from NYC to the Bahamas April 25, 2004 was as great a cruise as I've been on. The weather was a challenge the first few days with some light rain but that didn't dampen the spirits of the guests onboard. ... Read More
The Norwegian Dawn cruise from NYC to the Bahamas April 25, 2004 was as great a cruise as I've been on. The weather was a challenge the first few days with some light rain but that didn't dampen the spirits of the guests onboard. Plenty of onboard activities to keep busy. The ship itself is a grand one, very clean throughout. We had a super cabin steward who took care of our every need. Food was exceptional. We tended to dine in the Venetian Dining Room more often, although the other venues we tried were excellent as well. Staff were all very upbeat and friendly. The freestyle cruise experience is very accommodating and we enjoyed it more than the other cruise lines we've used. Entertainment for our taste was fair but most people we spoke with enjoyed most everything. The shore excursions in the ports of call were varied and seemed to have something for just about everyone. This was our first time in a cabin with a balcony and I'd have to say we probably won't sail without one in the future. It's spectacular to be able to see things from your own cabin. Especially the Statue of Liberty and New York City skyline as you leave NY. Embarkation went fairly quickly although once disembarked back in NY it was very confusing and frustrating trying to get to our car and leave. Driving in was great.....plenty of parking at a rate of $22.00/day. We drove in with friends so that cut the driving/parking expense in half. Overall I would highly recommend this cruise and intend on using the NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
I am writing to all you mothers out there with young children! My advice is to stay home rather than to be cramped in these extremely small cabins for 7 days where you lose your sanity!!! If you are someone who likes to spend time in ... Read More
I am writing to all you mothers out there with young children! My advice is to stay home rather than to be cramped in these extremely small cabins for 7 days where you lose your sanity!!! If you are someone who likes to spend time in your cabin, or someone who has children, make sure you have enough money to book a suite or don't go! When my husband and I booked this cruise for April (Easter) vacation, we investigated the cabin size and services provided on the Norwegian Dawn. We read that the cabins were average to above average in size and that this new "freestyle cruising" was the best idea for families that decide to go on a cruise. We booked an Oceanview Stateroom with a Balcony. Our room was 166 square feet. I thought this would be an OK size for our family because other ships had much smaller cabins and I figured 166 square feet was spacious by comparison. After an hour and 1/2 of waiting on lines to enter the ship, we were pointed in the direction of our stateroom. I had held my 2 year old for nearly two hours while my husband lugged our bags, stroller, playpen (which we brought to use as a crib)to our stateroom. When we entered the room, our jaws dropped! This stateroom was not even big enough to hold our luggage comfortably! The bed was what looked like a "full" sized bed rather than a queen. My daughter was not old enough to sleep on the sofa, but there was no room to open it up anyway! The only room that you have to stand is in the place that the sofa bed opens up, which is right in front of the balcony doors. I hate to keep harping on the size of the room, but I am a creature of comfort. I like lots of room to spread out and I like to retreat to my room to enjoy the quiet. I simply could not enjoy spending time in this closet that they consider a room! The balcony was only big enough to hold two chairs. It was very cramped for my husband and I and we were not able to enjoy it. We could not venture out onto the balcony after our daughter went to sleep because we had to put her crib in front of the balcony doors! There wasn't any other space to put it, unless we blocked our route to the bathroom for the entire night! As for the freestyle cruising, we have nothing to compare it to. This was our first cruise. We enjoyed having the option of where to dine, however, we did not like having to pay extra for specialty restaurants that ought to be included for the price we were paying. I would recommend eating at Cagney's Steakhouse if you want to pay the money. The food was delicious and the views from that restaurant are superb! We ate at LeBistro and the food there was incredible as well. Lastly, we tried the Mexican food (Salsa) which was mediocre. The food was average aboard the rest of the ship. The service aboard the ship was very good. The entertainment was very good. My husband and I enjoyed the comedy shows. The Kid's Program was excellent! Our daughter was excited to go and play there for a large part of each day. As far as the ports of call, it takes too long to get off the boat! However, we went to Sea world on the Port Canaveral day. I took a day of shopping while we were in Miami. The private island in the bahamas was nice but the beach is simply to crowded to enjoy. The day at Nassau is too short. Lastly, I think this week got off to a bad start because the Monday at sea was very rough. Many people became sick, including my husband and daughter. My daughter threw-up. We were stuck in a very small cabin with the boat rocking ferociously back and forth. This got the cruise off to a bad start and my husband and I just could not enjoy time together in our cabin. Parts of this trip were fine, however, if you enjoy your space, go with a mini-suite or above----or just don't go! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
We just returned from a 7 day Bahamas cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. First let me give you a little history on the ships I have sailed in the past 3 years. Last year we sailed on Celebrity Summit. A year prior to that we sailed on RCI ... Read More
We just returned from a 7 day Bahamas cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. First let me give you a little history on the ships I have sailed in the past 3 years. Last year we sailed on Celebrity Summit. A year prior to that we sailed on RCI Splendor of the seas. I have sailed other ships but they were smaller and so I will not compare this ship to those smaller ones. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 and on the Dawn a little after 1:00. We breezed thought the lines and the staff was very friendly and efficient at check in. We were a family of 7 staying in 3 staterooms. One inside deck 10, one Mini suite on deck 11 and the opal penthouse on deck 11. I was a bit worried that we would have a hard time staying together during embarking especially considering we were traveling with ages from 4 to 91. To my delight it went very smoothly. We all had are luggage by 5 pm which was the earliest I have ever gotten our luggage. STATEROOMS: My mother in-law had an inside cabin # 10585 the cabin was very clean. Having sailed with inside cabins on the Summit and Splendor, we found the Dawns inside to be a little tighter. However the bathroom with the separate shower made up for the size of the cabin. Our 2 kids stayed in this cabin with my mother in-law and she remarked how it was nice that 1 could be in the shower, 1 using the toilet and she could use the sink to get ready. One other complaint was she heard noises from above which was a crew only area. It wasn't horrible but certainly noticeable. Wife and I had the mini suite cabin # 11100. It was certainly a nice cabin. Again the cabin was small compared to the balconies on Summit and Splendor. Having the tub and toilet and sink separated was enjoyable for the wife and me as well. The sofa bed is not what I had expected. It wasn't like the kind of sofa beds that we have at home that folds out to reveal the mattress. Instead of removing cushions, you simply pulled it out and the back of the sofa became the other half of the bed. I will warn you that it is a pretty firm bed. It was fine for our girls when they stayed with us but as an adult I could not do 7 days on it. Our bed, 2 twins put together, was very comfortable. Best I have slept in on any ship! We had plenty of pillows and blankets. Another small complaint one of our blankets had 2 cigarette burns on it. A little unsettling. The balcony had to chairs that also reclined but not to a full lounger. We enjoyed the balcony immensely. My mother and grand mother had a penthouse. Cabin # 11530 the opal suite. It was really nice. Having never sailed in a real suite we have nothing to compare it to. I enjoyed the whirlpool tub that overlooked the ocean with a plasma TV. The separate shower had 4 shower heads that could blow every hair off your body. It was awesome. The toilet was kind of cramped considering the size of the cabin. The bathroom also had 2 large sinks and even a digital scale. The master cabin was very nice with a 25" TV with DVD. A privacy curtain to partition it off from the bathroom. In the main sitting room we had another 25" TV with DVD. 2 nice arm chairs with a nice oval coffee table and a small love seat. In the corner was a table with 4 chairs. Plenty of glasses were supplied in cabinets in the wall. Between the sleeping quarters and the sitting room was pocket doors with frosted glass. In the back was the 2nd bedroom with no windows with a fold down bed and a pull out couch. It had a small 15" TV and a phone. It had its own bathroom. For a family it would be great. However for my 65 year old mother it was extremely uncomfortable to sleep on the pull out sofa in the back room. By the third night I decided to call Lani her butler and asked her to bring up a mattress cover to make it more comfortable. She did and it made it better but still nothing like the regular beds on the ship. The balcony was nice with a small white table and 2 teak lounge chairs with a nice blue padding. 2 small complaints, 1 the love seat was a little uncomfortable and I think they should have a sink in the bar area of the sitting room. All cabins had a small fridge which was nice to bring snacks down for latter. STAFF: I must admit this was a big concern of mine. I had read many bad reviews about the staff. In the 7 days on board I don't think I passed any staff with out getting a big smile and a good morning or what have you. The staff was as good as RCI and better then Celebrity and Princess. They were always ready to accommodate any request. Our cabin stewards were great. The staff in all the restaurants that we ate in were also very nice. The cruise director Rick was awesome even though we know he does the same shtick every week he made you feel as though it was his first. A truly fun cruise director. Far superior to the cruise director on the Summit who acted as though he was at work and did not like his job. Every staff member made a point to give special attention to our kids. The kids crew staff was better then the Summit. I thought maybe RCI was tad better in the kid's area but then again our cruise on the Dawn had over 400 kids so they had their hands full. Again they did a great job. I had read reviews that mentioned people were not happy with Amanda the concierge for the penthouses. She never introduced herself or even made an effort to make you feel comfortable. Not a big deal but more of a waste for the cruise line. Restaurants: I had no interests in all the restaurants. Again heard quite a few bad reports and I had always enjoyed eating in the main restaurants with the same waiter at the same time. What was I thinking? I will have a hard time going back to another cruise line where I have to go through the "cattle call" line into the dinning room. We enjoyed eating where and when we wanted to. And also wearing what we wanted to. What a great concept. The food varied from very good to awesome. LA BISTRO was really nice. It was neat eating next to 48 million dollars worth of art. Never ate a meal while looking at an original Van Gogh. Favorite food here was the escargot. Very intimate place to have dinner. There is a service charge to eat here. Well worth it. CAGNEYS steak house was also awesome. Enjoyed it so much went back a second time. Favorite was crab cakes for appetizer porter steak and Banana flambE. The surf and turf was also good but the size of the lobster was a small tail and a claw. BAMBOO sushi bar was good. The selection of sushi for all you can eat was limited but I enjoyed it. Probably my least favorite meal. $10.00 service charge. Teppenyaki was a lot of fun. It's kind of like Benyhanna where they cook on your table and put a little show on. The kids liked it as well as the food. The soup was so so but I loved the sea scallops. Ate here twice. Service was great here we were even serenaded by a waitress. She sang "I only have eyes for you" it was neat. Also a service charge. SALSA awesome!! Loved the fajitas and onion blossom. Service again quick and enjoyable. This restaurants has the best views from the windows. VENETIAN was good. We ate there for the captains farewell dinner. The oysters were really good but the lobster tail was Very small. Smallest I have ever seen so I just ordered a few extra with no problems. A little line to get in but nothing like I am use to on other ships going into the main dinning room. No charge GARDEN CAFÉ was good to very good. Ate breakfast here once and most lunches. I thought it was as good as Celebrity Summits buffet and better then RCI's buffet. The kids had fun serving themselves at the miniature kids buffet. No charge. NY DELI which was in the back of the CAFÉ was very good. Enjoyed having BLT's which I must say they (NCL) has the best bacon around. No charge POOL SIDE BBQ ribs and burgers by the pool for lunch was also fun and good. No charge. BLUE LAGOON was a good place to get a snack like chips chicken wings and French fries with cheese and bacon. No charge. ROOM SERVICE most mornings I had breakfast in my mom's penthouse and got eggs benedict. Very good always arrived warm not cold. The butler would ring us to let us know she was on her way with our food. She would set the table for us with a table cloth and silver ware. I will certainly miss my eggs benedict. No charge. Restaurants I did not get to try: AQUA, IMPRESSIONS, LA TRATTORIA. So many choices and so little time. BARS AND LOUNGES: My drink of choice is 7&7 and my mom Gin and tonic. They were the strongest then any other ship. I felt that I got my moneys worth. The pina coladas and other frozen drink specials were average probably could use a little more liquor. When we did have one of the frozen drink specials I would just order an extra shot. STAR BAR was good and small nice view of the pool area. The sound here made it a little hard to have a conversation when it got crowded. A good Place for a martini. TOPSIDERS BAR by the pool was good. I liked the fact that it had a long bar so it was always easy to walk up and get a drink. On the summit I always had to wait to get a spot close enough to the bar to order. SPINAKER LOUNGE was a nice place to have a drink. I liked going to the front corner where it over hung the ship so you could see the side of the ship as it sailed through the water. You can really get a feel of how big the Dawn is. This corner over hang is directly above where the captain is when he is docking her. A really nice view. The art decoish chairs in this lounge were fun too. You must lay on the big red couch as you first enter the lounge on the right. Very comfortable and nice to snuggle with your loved one. SALSA BAR was a nice place to have a drink before you eat at salsa's. THE PEARLY KINGS PUB was nice. Some days they had fish and chips here. The chairs were a little uncomfortable for some one my size 6'1". The back of the chair hit my back in an uncomfortable spot. JAVA CAFÉ was a good spot to people watch. It's located in the atrium. They made a very good Irish Coffee. Strong! You have to try the raspberry tart! Awesome. DAZZLES LOUNGE was a nice place. Nothing special but nice. This is where the art auction was held. Free champagne. At night they had a guitarist that was enjoyable to listen to. GATSBYS CHAMPAGNE lounge located outside of La Bistro was nice too. They would have a piano player at night. Through out the cruise you could always find a place with an entertainer almost to fault. We found it a little hard to find a quite bar to have a conversation. The other problem with the bars and lounges is that there wasn't a bar that had windows that looked directly out to the water. They were either in side with no windows or you had to look out a window over some decking and through the railings. On RCI I enjoyed the views you could get from their signature Viking crown lounges. This would not hinder me from booking with NCL but worth mentioning. I guess the lack of views is something you give up for having so many outside cabins which keeps the price down for those cabins. PUBLIC AREAS: Deck space was abundant if you ventured towards the front on the upper deck they have a nice Jacuzzi all they way forward that was a good place to get away. OASIS POOL was a good place to hang if you didn't have kids. There are 4 Jacuzzis here and 2 pools. I wasn't crazy about the stadium style seating but it grew on me. It gives more room for lounge chairs and so I think it was a bit easier then other ships to find a space to lay out. T-REX CENTER was average. The kid's ball pit looked fun. The kids loved it. T-REX POOL was a real plus. We could be with our kids and not bother others who were not traveling with kids. 2 water slides a pool and a Jacuzzi. Being at the back of the ship it seemed a bit less windy then the main pool during sea days. The Dawn had the hottest Jacuzzi's of any ship I have been on. Usually, on other ships I felt that they could be hotter. Not on the Dawn. They also allowed you to have a drink in the Jacuzzi which was nice. Another plus.. Pools were open late! On RCI and Celebrity they closed at 6. ELDORADO SPA fitness CENTER. I was pleasantly surprised with this area. It has 2 Jacuzzi's and a heated lap pool. I still prefer the inside pools on Celebrity and RCI. The Dawn did have a nice sauna and steam room. STARDUST THEATER is well laid out. The balcony seats were a great place to watch the shows. You get a nice unobstructed view of the stage. Chairs were comfortable. cinema was nice and comfortable too. They have 3 showings a day. VIDEO ZONE had lots of video games and you could use cash which was nicer then Summit where the kids use the room card and charged $30.00 worth of games! LIBRARY had some good books. Nice seating and very quite. SHUFFLES CARD ROOM had the regular games. Nice views of the ocean from in here. INTERNET CAFÉ had plenty of computers however I chose to stay away from my email and internet addiction. GALLERIA SHOPS is more like a little department store rather then a cluster of small shops. I kind of prefer this way because wife and I and kids all did our shopping and only had to sign for our purchases once instead of going in and out of different shops. DAWN CLUB CASINO was spacious more so then other ships. Wife tossed $20.00 away in about 2.5 minutes. THE promenade DECK was by far better then my past cruises. It rapped all the way around the ship. Nice place to sit and walk. Pretty cool looking off the back as we were steaming our way back to NY. What a wake! Entertainment: I am not one for shows on a ship. They all have the same cheesy feel. However Bollywood was great. It is nothing like anything I have seen on any cruise ship. It isn't Vegas but for a ship WOW! NEGATIVES: The programming on the stateroom TV a bit weak. They did have CNN so at least I could keep up on the daily events. My main complaint which I heard over and over again from fellow passengers is the ship lay out. At time you would end up at a dead end. I think the design is the best they could do with out having to loose a few restaurants or bars. So I will take the poor lay out before I would give up all the dining choices. Positives: The food, service, drinks, dinning options, sailing out of NY and all the other things that I have mentioned through out this review. SIDE NOTE: I think the space that the Garden Villa takes up would be better served as a lounge/bar. I was told that they sail frequently empty. Maybe they should have a 20-50 dollar raffle on the first day and if you win you get free use of the villa. I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise on the Dawn and I look forward to sailing her again. So much I wanted to do but didn't have time. This is the first ship where I got off and would consider doing again. After a week on other ships you have the feeling of "seen and done that". Not on the Dawn. So maybe come Feb 05 I will return to this ship and line. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
This was our first cruise and I must say it was the most relaxing vacation we've had. This is truly an easy vacation, even with children. Our children are 9 and 13 and they had so much fun. My son was in the supervised program of ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I must say it was the most relaxing vacation we've had. This is truly an easy vacation, even with children. Our children are 9 and 13 and they had so much fun. My son was in the supervised program of 10-12 year olds and they had things going on throughout the day and my daughter started in the teen center and ending up making lots of friends and just doing things with them. My husband and I got to go to dinner, see shows and sunbathe without having to worry about the kids. If we were together, great, if not - oh well, its their vacation too! The casino was fun too. I didn't realize that iced tea was free so I wouldn't have bought a soda card for my son, I didn't want him drinking too much soda anyway. I did, however, buy my daughter the teen passport because you get the 20 free drinks for the 30.00 or whatever it was, better deal than buying them. The ship was beautiful - very grand. I felt like I was in a 5 star resort every day. I thought our stateroom was very nice. We had two beds, a trundle that pulled out in the center of the two beds and one that folded out from the wall over one of the beds. My son slept in that bed - he loved it. Housekeeping comes in and sets it all up in the evening and cleans it all up in the morning - that was so nice - they do an excellent job. Closet space was plenty and draws also - we all had one or two. The bathroom is big - not tiny - a nice size shower to the left-a separate sink area in the middle and a toilet with a sliding door to your right. Technically 3 people could be in the bathroom at the same time. The only time it got tight is when we were all trying to get ready. One has to sit and get out of the way. Our favorite restaurant was the Venetian. The garden buffet was good but we like to sit and get served. Breakfast in the Venetian was yummy. Reservations for some of the surcharge restaurants was fairly simple - just make them a day in advance to be sure and get one, although we got into Cagney's within 2 hours (maybe just luck). Make sure to bring sweats and sweatshirts - you get chilly after sunning all day - especially if you get sunburn - bring aloe or afterburn - they ran out on the ship and we had to buy it elsewhere the next day. Also ladies don't get stuck without your feminine products - they are expensive on the ship and they don't sell tampons. If you get seasick, they have meds at the reception. We hit some wind which caused rough seas. We were unable to go to the private island and alot of people got seasick - it was a really rough ride that day. The meds they gave us worked wonderfully and was back to normal soon after, saw alot of people wearing the patches behind their ear - guess thats good for people who get seasick really bad. I never get sick but did this time. The crew were great, all the servers and bar people great. Getting on the ship was a breeze. We got to NY at 11 am and was on the ship eating lunch by 12:30 - no lie - easy as pie. We had our luggage before dinner. We carried our bathing suits in our carry on so we could be in the Jacuzzi sailing out of NY. Getting off at all the ports was painless and quick. didn't get to go to the private island because the seas were too rough but my neighbor went the week before us and he said it was just too packed - said everyone got off the boat which took a long time because they have to shuttle you to shore and then you couldn't move once everyone had their chairs etc set up on the beach. Said we didn't miss anything, but we were still sad because we wanted to snorkel. don't bring a blow dryer - they have one. They said don't do the pontoon boat excursion - said it sucked. If you want any other info, just email, will be glad to give you some insight. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Have cruised 9 times, 8 of which was with NCL, and although the Dawn was a beautiful ship, and the food was fantastic...I doubt if I would ever leave from NYC again... The seas were extremely rough for almost two days, and even some of ... Read More
Have cruised 9 times, 8 of which was with NCL, and although the Dawn was a beautiful ship, and the food was fantastic...I doubt if I would ever leave from NYC again... The seas were extremely rough for almost two days, and even some of the crew was experiencing mal-de-mer. Fortunately for my husband and I, we were fine in that department, but...we were awake for two nights due to the tossing of the ship which at times was so bad, you almost sat up in bed!! The restaurants were lovely, the food excellent!! Venetian (main restaurant) was at the very back of the boat, and had gorgeous ceiling to floor glass windows which afforded an indescribable view, also, Cagney's Steak House was spectacular!! Amazing from start to finish! I had the Filet Mignon, while Steve feasted on Lobster. It was so fantastic, we did it twice that week....! We also ate at Salsa, the mexican restaurant, which is lovely, and overlooks the atrium. It also had the added bonus of live, but quiet, dinner music which really added to the charm. The public spaces were very tasteful, and although it is a fairly big ship, they managed to make all the areas cosy and inviting. I found the Java Cafe to be quite the magnet, as I was there approximately 3 times a day for a latte and biscotti! The Casino was a good size, with a nice mix of slots and tables, and we were pretty lucky!! At the end of the week, we had broke even, and that is considered lucky in my book. We had an inside cabin, which was smallish, but very well planned out, and the shower was great, with plenty of room. A plus!!! (Warning!! Lift your feet HIGH, before stepping in or out of the shower, as I broke a toe on the extremely high ledge, and limped around after day 2!!! In closing, I would recommend the Dawn highly, but if possible, try not to leave NYC in the winter months, as the Atlantic seems to be at its worst. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I have to say that this was an excellent cruise and I would recommend it to anyone. I've been on 5 different cruises, 3 different cruise lines and NCL beats them all by a mile. This was a honeymoon cruise and my husband was a first ... Read More
I have to say that this was an excellent cruise and I would recommend it to anyone. I've been on 5 different cruises, 3 different cruise lines and NCL beats them all by a mile. This was a honeymoon cruise and my husband was a first time cruiser. Neither of us had ever been to NYC so that alone was a great treat. Flying in from Utah we were at the dock several hours early, in fact the ship hadn't even pulled in from its previous embarkation. The crew at the dock was amazing! They took our bags and stored them for us so that we could catch some sightseeing before boarding the ship. They were extremely helpful. The whole process of getting on and off the ship was painless. The food was wonderful, the freestyle cruising is certainly the way to cruise. We did miss the private island port due to rough water but we didn't mind. We found plenty to do onboard to keep us busy. Both stops in Florida were great, in Miami take the bar-hoping tour, the tour guide is a blast. We had an inside-cabin which was small but the bathroom was huge compared to other cruise lines. The stewards were excellent, very friendly and eager to help. It's a beautiful ship, it will be hard to top! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Embarkation: We knew from the message boards here on CruiseCritic that the Dawn would be late coming into NYC. So we arrived accordingly at 4 pm (normally sailing time) and found no lines. We were assigned a boarding number and were on the ... Read More
Embarkation: We knew from the message boards here on CruiseCritic that the Dawn would be late coming into NYC. So we arrived accordingly at 4 pm (normally sailing time) and found no lines. We were assigned a boarding number and were on the ship in less than an hour. Our balcony stateroom was beautiful - well worth the $75 per person upgrade we'd been offered from obst. oceanview! Plenty of room for all our things, and a nice place to spend some quiet, private time whenever we wanted. We explored the ship - the biggest we've been on, but easy to get around. Dinner at Impressions, one of the main dining restaurants, was wonderful - our favorite restaurant by the end. The Dawn didn't leave until almost 10 pm, as it took longer to refuel than thought. Got hungry at about 11 pm but there was no place to grab a snack (the 24-hour Blue Lagoon was overrun) so called room service. Estimate of a 45 minute wait happily turned into 15. Sea Day #1: Unfortunately muster drill was set for 10 am, same time as our cruisecritic get-together, so didn't meet everyone we'd hoped to. Plenty of activities to choose from throughout the day, although admittedly not as many appealed to us as on our trip last year on the Carnival Inspiration. Since it was still only the first day of March, the weather wasn't quite warm enough to spend time around the pool. Chocoholic Buffet - surprisingly, nothing appealed there either! I was expecting more actual chocolate and pastries and less cake. Desserts overall on this cruise were not as good as I'd hoped. Petit fours after one dinner were made with Rice Krispies! Rest of the food was excellent. Exercise: I opted for the $5 yoga class (also a charge for spinning classes) and found the small studio to be too crowded, with no sight line to the instructor. Other classes (kickboxing, zumba) were not nearly as full; Pilates was full but no charge. This was the only formal night, so in our respective long black dress and collared-shirt with tie (no jacket) we went to dinner at the reservations-only but no cover charge Salsa's. Excellent tortilla chips, too-spicy fajitas. Service was a bit slow, and we had to ask for our bill (we'd ordered sangrias) twice, so we were late for the Jean Ann Ryan Co. Webber production show. The show itself was good, but if you're not a fan of Andrew Lloyd, it can get monotonous. "Who Wants to be a Bazzillionaire?" game after the show also got monotonous, as the contestant was getting too many hints at correct answers and wasn't very entertaining. John, the asstistant cruise director, should have picked a new contestant. Casino was open, so won a little at the slots and retired. Cape Canaveral: As we left NYC late, we got in to Canaveral at 11 am, about 2 hours late, which caused problems for some with theme park plans. The Captain did, however, extend our stay in port for an hour that night. Breakfast earlier at the main dining Venetian was crowded, as everyone was killing time onboard; service a little slow. We opted to stay on the ship and eat lunch rather than stand in the LONG line to get off, and instead left at about 1:30 pm for Kennedy Space Center. The shuttle van fare there and back (Art's Transportation) was $50 for two people - almost as much as the admission to KSC, more if you count the tip!! Internet research pre-trip hadn't revealed any cheaper way to get there, though. After about a 20-min drive (you can see KSC from the ship, but it's across the water and a roundabout way by car) we were dropped at KSC with an arrangement of pick-up at 5:30 (altho the sign at KSC said they closed at 6 pm, the driver said they closed at 5:30. Still don't know which was right...). We hadn't been to Kennedy in a long time, so there was a lot of new things to see and do - especially on the bus tour, which took about 2-1/2 hours. That left us with an hour to spend at the "main" center, enough time, though, to see the Space Shuttle exhibit, the memorial, rocket garden, and both the past and future in space exhibits. No time for the IMAX movies, which are included in admission. Maybe we should have stood in the long line? Saw enough, though, and were back on board at 6 pm, so beat the Disney crowd to dinner at the Venetian, another main dining restaurant. It was Italian night, so the dinner fit the decor, and the food was good overall. Chocolate souffle was one of the few desserts I finished. The night's entertainment was seeing the movie "Chicago" on the big screen in the Stardust Theatre, and then relaxing in the adults-only whirlpool at the spa. Miami: The ship got in on time at 9 am, but we opted again to stay onboard a while and relax by the pool. Not too much planned by way of onboard activities, anyway. We had booked the 2:30 South Beach Segway tour and so took the Hopper bus down to South Beach (included in the $45 per person excursion) and found the Segway tour guide (no help from the bus driver or NCL - our group of five on the tour had to wander around a little to find him at the bus pick-up stop). We followed the tour guide to the rental shop (a block and a half from the beach) and had our lesson and practice before we set off back to Ocean Drive. We mostly went along the "boardwalk", a little away from the art-deco buildings of Ocean Drive, but the Segways were a good way to save our feet and see the architecture. We'd wished we'd booked an earlier tour, though, as the last bus left at 4:30 and we only had enough time on the beach to touch the water and trudge back to the bus. We opted to have dinner at the Garden Cafe buffet, where we breakfasted and lunched most days also. I heard some complaints, but I found the buffet food to be better overall than most buffets at home (one exception: salad bar much better on the Inspiration). We found seats early for the JAR Co. production show South Beach Rave, which was the closest we got to Miami at night, as the ship left at 6 pm. Good show. Great Stirrup Cay: The weather was again, perfect, as we sailed in to Great Stirrup Cay at 8 am. We waited until about 10 to take the tender over to the private island, and set up camp on the right-hand side of the beach, near the boat rentals, but far from the crowds. The water was much colder than we'd expected, so we didn't snorkel or swim. After our requisite time in the sun, and an $8 Bahama Mama in a souvenir cup, we walked to the island's little Straw Market, made no purchases, and then had some of the BBQ lunch. The BBQ is permanent, a flat grill on concrete, under a pavilion, rather than the charcoal-type grills we'd expected. Also found seats under another pavilion at picnic tables, out of the sun. Not a lot of choices for health-conscious or vegetarians (compared to onboard, there's a veggie buffet at lunch every day). After a little more exploring we headed back to the ship, and spent the afternoon at the spa pool, which was definitely warmer than the water around the ship. Floor to ceiling windows gave us a view out the back of the ship of the private island until sailing time. Another fitness class, Kardio Kick Boxing, proved much less crowded (only 4 people) and definitely challenging. I earned dessert! Caribbean dinner at the third main dining restaurant, Aqua, was very tasty and unique. For once, the Cooking Light option (Carib chicken stew) was good! Didn't see any desserts I liked, so the kickboxing was even more effective. Again, great service (considering you never see the same server twice with Freestyle) but we did have to wait a bit to be seated at this peak time. We didn't stay long after the Artistry of Dominique began - a violinist and then, we heard later, her husband, a comedian. We did go to the Not so Newlywed Game, which was pretty tame compared to other cruises. Nassau, Bahamas: We docked early at Nassau and were the first of what ended up being five cruise ships there that day. The famous hair-braiding ladies must not have been in full swing yet, as we weren't really approached. Our first stop was a horse-drawn carriage ride, with photos taken by a man who I thought was going to steal our camera, but then only asked for a tip (we gave $2, one for each photo taken). Our guide, Molly, gave us a polite but cynical tour of downtown ("Bahamas is for making booze and babies"). The horse, Showtime, was a pro. Fare was $10 each. Next stop, Atlantis, on Paradise Island, for a $4 each van ride. We made our donation at the casino, then wandered around the nearly-empty grounds (still pretty early) and wandered into the Dig, the Atlantis Aquarium. It took us until we hit the gift shop to realize that this was actually the PAID guided tour, and we were doing it backward at no charge. We didn't see the other half of the Aquarium, with the predator tunnel, though. So we came out at the lobby cafe, and walked around the rest of Atlantis, where security was now in place and we weren't able to get back into the beach area we'd stumbled into before. Water taxi back was $3 one-way and not a long wait. A very friendly guide gave us a talk on Nassau and Paradise (formerly Hog) Island as we made our way back to Nassau (again, tips encouraged). Ah, the hair ladies awaited, but weren't overly pushy. A quick stop at the Del Sol shop for our free NCL color-changing tote bag and ring, and then on to the Straw Market, where overfed cruisers tried to squeeze past each other to look at "local" souvenirs. Some of the wood carvings were nice, but we mostly saw T-shirts and cheap-looking straw bags. Again, I was surprised that the vendors weren't more pushy. Our last stop was at the Pirate Museum, where we had a coupon for $2 off admission (making it $10 each) and a free rum punch. After the first "Pirates of the Caribbean"-like room (which they'll let you peek at to decide if you want the tour) there was mostly dioramas and a few artifacts at the end. The rum punch made it better! We made it back on board in plenty of time for the 2 pm sail-off (the Disney Wonder was staying til 11 pm - we were jealous), with very good feelings about Nassau. Despite what we'd heard, the natives were friendly (friendlier than on Aruba) and we had had a very good time in the Bahamas. The ship pulled away at 2:10 pm, then surprisingly, went back to the pier to pick up an unhappy couple who'd missed the boat! Incredible! So kudos to Captain Hoydal, but we hope you haven't set a precedent. The Wonder's onlookers cheered as the couple hopped aboard. We were having lunch at the 24-hour Blue Lagoon, the menu items not to my taste, but passable. They tend to forget the diners out on the deck, though. The rest of the day was at sea, headed back to NY. Our second time at Bingo (this was the "cheap" game, although Bingo onboard the Dawn has been the most expensive so far of our four cruises). While Bingo was finishing up, I headed to a Zumba class (pretty easy and uncrowded), then did a mile around the Promenade, then barely made the Pilates matwork class (some moves were difficult, even after I've been doing Winsor at home). Again, I earned my dessert. It was Lobster night, so we dined for the second time at Impressions, where we turned a 75 minute wait into immediate seating by agreeing to dine with strangers, who turned out to be a single friendly woman from Connecticut whose husband only ate at the Blue Lagoon. We enjoyed our dinner, and out of four desserts ordered, found the best was the crepes souffle. Good souffles on the Dawn! The rice krispie petit fours were very disappointing. The best show on the cruise was Bollywood, mostly for the Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics. They should make more of the fact that Lance Ringnald, a two-time US Olympic gymnast, is part of the show (he had his own show the next night). Afterward was the requisite, but well-deserved tribute to the staff, crew and officers of the Dawn. Sea Day #2: The air was surprisingly warm as we woke up at sea and brought breakfast to our balcony. I opted for another Pilates class (9:30 am) as Bingo card sales began, but made it in time for the first game a half hour later anyway. Double the price, and lost again. They did give away a free cruise (any length, anywhere) to those who had gotten raffle tickets from this and past Bingo game participation. Pastry demonstration at 11:30 am was less than exciting - marzipan. A relatively well-informed nutrition lecture at 11:30 (Candi needs to brush up on her knowledge of fats, though), along with the other 5 classes and the 6 miles around the Promenade, qualified me to pick up my free (earned!) Sports Afloat T-shirt later in the day. Another BBQ lunch on the pool deck (all told, I think there were four), then relaxing at the bow whirlpool and lying in the sun for as long as possible. The weather showed we were going North at about 3:30 pm or so - the sun disappeared, and the wind started to get a little chilly, driving us finally inside and into warmer clothes. Our last dinner onboard was at the cover-charge Bamboo (we booked an early 6:30 reservation, which qualified us for 50% off the $10 cover). Maybe it pays to pay - the food was excellent (best ahi I've ever had), the service even a little more attentive than in the dining rooms. Ginger creme brulee was too sweet, though, with no taste of ginger. Last pro show onboard - a variety show, with a 25-minute segment devoted to Lance Ringnald's gymnastic skills (thoroughly enjoyed) and the singing of Eric Reid, one of the Jean Ann Ryan cast members. I didn't care for Reid, good voice, but way over-theatrical! Others around us seemed to like him, though. Next stop was the Liars' Club game, which I think one had to be drinking to enjoy (so I enjoyed) and then the guest Talent Show, which had some "gong-show" caliber and some very good talent. The winner was from Montreal, singing a very pro-sounding "Angels". We weren't tired, but there wasn't much else to do but go to bed. Disembarkation: We were sailing past the Statue of Liberty at 7 am, just as predicted, and were at the dock by 8. The best part of Freestyle is being able to stay in your stateroom until your luggage tag color is called, so we brought breakfast down and relaxed as we waited for our color. We were called at about 10:40 and quickly passed through the lines, and were on the way home before 11 am. OVERALL: A great cruise. Some things above I'm nitpicking - really, the Dawn gave us one of our best cruise experiences (the other being our first cruise on the Celebrity Century for our honeymoon). The weather was perfect, the staff attentive and polite, the food was excellent considering the mass production, and we enjoyed ourselves at every port of call, especially Nassau. We definitely like Freestyle Cruising! We'd love to go again on the Dawn, maybe the 10-day down to the southern Caribbean, next year! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
REVIEW: NORWEGIAN DAWN New Year's Eve Cruise 2003 This was our third New Years cruise, our first on NCL. My wife and daughter (age 11) have been on Holland America (5+), Carnival (2), Celebrity (1) all thru the Caribbean, Alaska, ... Read More
REVIEW: NORWEGIAN DAWN New Year's Eve Cruise 2003 This was our third New Years cruise, our first on NCL. My wife and daughter (age 11) have been on Holland America (5+), Carnival (2), Celebrity (1) all thru the Caribbean, Alaska, Bermuda and New England and think we know our way around ships, so NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" was an interesting new option. It had a few plusses... but many minuses. EMBARKATION: We chose this cruise because it left from NYC, avoiding the need to fly at the holidays during an orange alert. We've sailed out of NY several times and knew the drill, but NCL's was one of the smoothest embarkations ever, thanks in part to the pre-registration process for passengers on the NCL website. We arrived at the Passenger Ship Terminal about 12 noon, paid $168 to park for the week, and were thru the lines and on the ship in about an hour. We departed spot on time at 4 pm in time to enjoy the harbor at twilight. RESTAURANTS One of the big selling points of "Freestyle Cruising" was the choice of restaurants and no fixed "seatings". We tried most of them, especially enjoying Le Bistro (at a surcharge of $12.50 per person). The Tex Mex eatery was only so-so... sort of like a Scandinavian's idea of Mexican food. And Bamboo, the "all you can eat" sushi parlor was a rip-off. There's a $10 surcharge and only a limited selection of sushi, much of it pre-made and refrigerated. Anything more exotic than a tuna roll is priced a la carte. Most nights we went to the two big restaurants, the Venetian and Aqua. The food was good, though the portions were small and service, though harried, was slow. The upstairs buffet restaurant, "The Garden", was pretty good though usually crowded. It's "NY style deli" was mediocre. The 24 hour "Blue Lagoon" was pretty good and very popular with teens. Don't miss the "Chocoholic's Buffet", an afternoon exercise in obscene consumption of mass quantities of food by hordes of morbidly obese passengers. There were two "formal" nights, both optional. I only saw a very few tuxedos and a smattering of business suits. Another plus for "Freestyle Cruising"... you can wear resort casual attire any night you wish without feeling under-dressed . THE SPA My wife and daughter both went and said they enjoyed it : massage, nails, hair. As with all cruise spas, go up to the Spa and book early as soon as you get on board, especially if you want a massage on the first day at sea. Prepare for sticker shock when you get the bill. KIDS CREW This kids program was a big disappointment. On Carnival our daughter could sign herself in and out and come and go and she pleased. On NCL, any kid under 13 must be signed in and out by a parent... at least a 15 min. inconvenience for one of us as we had to go all the way to the top rear of the ship just to do paperwork. The counselors were mediocre, often sitting watching TV with the kids instead of leading activities. The final day at sea one of them even discouraged our daughter from even showing up instead of doing her job. She was tired and seemed intent on getting some rest instead of working with the kids. As a consequence, our daughter sat around complaining of being bored instead of being engaged with kids her own age. At holiday time all of the cruise lines bring on extra staff to handle the kids... usually barter work unemployed young people from Canada. They get a "free cruise" in return for a few hours a day working with the kids. What paying passengers get is unpaid staffers with a bad attitude... kids who think they're on a cruise, instead of working a job. SERVICE The staff has to be given marks for trying. With 2,700+ passengers on this sell-out cruise, they were kept busy. But the food servers need a lot more training. While gracious, always referring to us as "sir" and "Madame", they lacked the profession panache we've come to expect in the main dining room of cruise ships. A few examples... In the Venetian: My wife drinks decaf. The waiter started pouring regular coffee (about an inch) before she stopped him. He went to get the decaf and tried to keep pouring, creating a half-caf mixture. Instead, he should have removed the mistaken half-pour and brought a fresh cup. Another... at lunch, also in the Venetian, we had a Thai salad which we both thought was much too salty . When we mentioned this to the waiter , she said "Oh, I've never had that dish." What she should have said was "I'm so sorry. Can I bring you anything else, and please let me share your comments with the Chef." At diner in Aqua, the server inquired how I wanted my leg of lamb cooked, and I asked for medium-rare. When she brought the lamb, she said that only medium was available.... period. She should have come see me as soon as she knew the situation, explained their error, and offered me the menu to select something else if I didn't want medium. It was ungracious and not focused on the needs of the diner. We noticed that the servers are rotated throughout the ship's various restaurants, buffets, snack bars, etc. Our head waiter one night was mopping floors in the buffet the next day. I guess NCL figures they can use a staffer anywhere, but there's a trade-off. Servers don't learn the fine points of excellent service that's appropriate in a formal dining room. In fact, we thought the servers in the Venetian seemed stressed and were often confused about where tables were, leading us to wonder if they are trying to compensate for inexperience or poor training. My wife's pet peeve about the Venetian, the main dining room: Guests arrive at the top of a flight of stairs that go down into the dining room. The "greeter" inquires about the number in the party, decides where to seat you, then calls the table number down the stairs. The space and noise in the room requires the "greeter" to call the number loudly and sometimes repeatedly, and it made my wife feel like we were dining at IHOP. Not very classy or personal, certainly not the way a formal dining room should be run. TIPPING How do you motivate a staff when they all share tips ($10 a day per person)? On most ships with fixed seatings you get to know the waiter, they go out of their way to please you and are rewarded accordingly. On NCL you may never see the same waiter again, so the service is cordial but just so-so. Some waiters, bar tenders and cabin stewards were wonderful. Most were just adequate. THE SHIP We had two cabins... an outside twin with a balcony and an inside single. They were both fine... smaller than on Carnival, but well appointed. The showers were bigger than on most ships, but why no bar soap? The ship is quite new, and it shows. The public rooms are lovely and very tastefully decorated. The ship was spotless, even after a very messy New Year's Eve. Cleanliness and hygiene were a top priority with hand-washing lessons on the TV and waterless sanitizing stations greeting you at every restaurant. It paid off... none of us got at all sick. THE PORTS We rarely chose a cruise by its itinerary. It's the calendar that dictates our choice. But we were pleased with the two US ports on this cruise... Port Canaveral and Miami. The tour options at both were phenomenal. Nassau was nothing new to us (and only a 6 hour stop). NCL's "private island" Great Stirrup Cay was nice, but far too small for our mob. The biggest surprise was our first and last days, leaving and returning to NYC, sailing along the East Coast. I was fearful of gale winds and blizzards, but it was sunny, calm and in the 50's. ENTERTAINMENT The stage shows were spectacular, especially "Bollywood", one of the most creative such shows I've ever seen at sea. The ship's big band was excellent as was the magician / comedian. But celebrity comedian Jimmy (Dyn-o-mite) "JJ" Walker was just awful... not funny and on stage three nights! I'd have much rather seen some newcomer than witness this has-been! Another plus... a big movie theater showing almost first-run titles (repeated the next few days on the in-cabin TV system). A negative... NCL charges $3.95 for daily "newspapers" (photocopied satellite versions of the NY Times, Wall St. Journal, etc.) which other cruise lines disperse for free. And the TV only offers CNN, TNT and ESPN. Why no local channels while in port??? NEW YEARS EVE Here, NCL scored big points. Admittedly, they were hawking their own champagne all evening. But there were free glasses of bubbly for all to toast in the new year at midnight as well as hats, noise makers, streamers and little glow-sticks. The mob scene around the pool on the top deck was festive, unlike on Carnival last year where it was filled with over-boozed, under-aged teens... a bit scary for my daughter. The scene in the Spinnaker Lounge was even more civilized thanks to the big band and a definitely more adult crowd. DISEMBARKATION This is easily the worst part of any cruise... the mad crush to get off the ship. But here again, NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" scored major points. While we arrived on time at 8 am at the dock in NYC, there was no mandate that we had to vacate our cabins and sit in the public rooms as on every other cruise line. So, we enjoyed a leisurely sit-down breakfast in the Venetian restaurant and lolled in our cabin for another 90 minutes before our "color" was called. We strolled off the ship about noon, found our bags, cleared Customs and were in our car driving home in about 15 minutes... amazing! WORDS OF ADVICE ? As soon as you're on board, book dinner reservations at the specialty restaurants. They accept reservations 48 hours in advance (ie on Tues. you can book for that night and Wed.), so book early for the best times. ? If you don't have a reservation, eat early (by 6 pm) or late (after 8:30 pm) and you'll never have to wait. ? Get a soda card (actually a sticker on your key-card). It's $28.75 for the week, but worth it if you drink a lot of soda. ? Bring your own soap. The cabins only offer liquid soap and shampoo. If anyone has any specific questions, I'm happy to answer them as best I can. Others' comments have been most helpful in the past, so I'm happy to reciprocate. Just e-mail me at jim@mediatrainer.tv Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
November 2003 What the New York metropolitan area needed was a year-round cruise ship to provide a cruising option for those who would like to cruise and have the convenience of do it out of New York City. Norwegian Cruise Line has moved ... Read More
November 2003 What the New York metropolitan area needed was a year-round cruise ship to provide a cruising option for those who would like to cruise and have the convenience of do it out of New York City. Norwegian Cruise Line has moved into this long overlooked market with the DAWN, a beautiful ship staffed by attentive and friendly people who provide quality service. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION The embarkation/disembarkation process is run smoothly by NCL. The problem is with the poorly designed and poorly managed process of getting to and from the ship. The traffic and crowd control is an embarrassment to the City of New York. On the days we left and returned not a single police officer could be seen helping with the traffic situation. If New York is going to attract an increased cruise business they must deal with updating this cruise facility. ITINERARY The itinerary on the DAWN includes: stops in Florida, Port Canaveral and Miami (for our trip Fort Lauderdale was substituted for Miami due to street demonstrations in Miami), Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private Caribbean island. In Port Canaveral we signed up for the transfer to Disney World. The trip cost $28 round trip and was an easy way of getting there and back. We arrived in Disney World at 11:00am and left promptly at 6:00pm. At Nassau you dock basically at the town and a 5 minute walk puts you in the center of the shopping district. Great Stirrup Cay is a pleasant stop with tenders taking you to and from the ship. The beach is not as extensive as other private islands (Disney's Castaway Cay or Holland America's Half Moon Cay), but there are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas available. One suggestion here is that more attention be paid to keeping the beach cleaner prior to bringing the passengers to this beach for the day. THE SHIP This is a remarkable ship. It is beautiful, quiet running, clean and beautifully appointed. There are 10 restaurants and we managed to eat in 8 of them during the cruise. The food, without exception, was excellent. The Garden Cafe on deck 12 has a vegetarian buffet lunch which was impressive. Le Bistro is not to be missed; you have elegant dining in a beautiful setting. Cagney's Steakhouse was also a positive experience. The ship's staff was friendly and was always there to help, if help was needed. Entertainment was excellent and we enjoyed the shows and the more intimate piano bar entertainers. SUMMARY The DAWN provided us with a completely positive experience. We enjoyed the ship so much that we are planning to book either the 10 or 11 day Southern Caribbean itinerary for next year. I also would not hesitate to book the 7 day itinerary again, just to spend time relaxing on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
Sail Date: November 2003
This was a wonderful cruise that exceeded my expectations in almost every way. There was one small service glitch that was upsetting on the last day, which I will address later, but I am not allowing it to taint the memories of this ... Read More
This was a wonderful cruise that exceeded my expectations in almost every way. There was one small service glitch that was upsetting on the last day, which I will address later, but I am not allowing it to taint the memories of this amazing cruise experience. Travelers: I had planned to go on this trip with a friend that I always travel with, but she became ill at the last minute, so I invited my 79 year old grandmother. At first I was concerned that she would not be able to keep up with my high energy activity level and I thought I might be slowed down, or be forced to spend my days alone. It turned out she was an excellent travel partner. Spending time alone: There are a few points I would like to make about the prospect of being alone on this ship, as on my sea days I was by myself while my grandmother played bridge. This ship has plenty of activities to participate in that facilitate interaction with passengers, and I found the environment to be very friendly and upbeat where one could meet people throughout the day just about anywhere. And no, I'm not naturally extroverted, but I found plenty of interaction with fun people whenever I wanted it. Also, I did not attend singles parties, but they have them on the first night, broken down by age groups. Several people who were traveling alone met and became friends, or in some cases more than friends, for the duration of the trip. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at 11:30 AM on Sunday. Arriving at this time, when the cruise line suggests 1PM, has always worked to my advantage, because usually I'm on the ship in no time and taking photos before it's all crowded. Not this time. I didn't realize that "freestyle disembarkation" meant that people were just getting off the ship at that time. Usually they kick you to the curb by the crack of dawn. We stood in line for about an hour before they let us inside to the next line, where we waited to get on line to check in (yes by now we stood in three) then we went to the next line to get the key card and then the final line to get photos taken and get on the ship. Confused yet? We were, because they had no signs to tell you where to go each time, so we found out by word of mouth and by getting on wrong lines a few times. We do have Latitudes (past passenger program) which is supposed to make it easier, but the line for that was just about the same length. So I think the total was about two and a half hours. On the positive note, it was nice to sleep in on the morning when the cruise ended. As I waited in line for embarkation, I knew I'd appreciate this when my time came, so I was not too impatient. The Cabin: I am very picky and all noise bothers me at night, so I purposely booked a cabin in the very bottom in the inside (#4579) hoping to find quiet. This was a category K, one of the lowest. They wanted to book me a guarantee category, but I forced a cabin assignment so there'd be no surprises. My grandmother was concerned about this cabin down in the "dungeon" but to her surprise, it was very nice and spacious and we didn't miss the window too much. We tuned the TV to the outside camera which served the purpose of a window for us. Fortunately this room was in a quiet location. You can hear other passengers in the hall or neighboring rooms if they are talking loud or banging around, but this was not a problem as it never became excessive. I have heard people on the upper decks talk about noise above their cabins and things that sound like heavy items dragging repeatedly across the floor keeping them up all night. We did not hear anything of that nature. We were also in a good location for minimal rocking during rough seas. When the ship was rocking, however, there is an orchestra of rattles and squeaks in the ceiling of the cabin. This didn't bother me as it melded together as a constant sound because it was so continuous. Also, I travel with a "white noise" machine that masks little annoying sounds. The cabin had adequate amenities like a small fridge, hairdryer, one outlet, TV, safe, and a decent sized bathroom with a nice sized shower. The shower had a sliding glass door so you are not attacked by a curtain and you don't have water all over the floor. There is liquid shower gel and shampoo in a dispenser. There is no bar soap. I brought an extension cord, realizing there was only one outlet and I have multiple appliances. I ran it under my bed so my nightlight and "white noise" alarm clock could sit on the night table. Keep in mind, there is no clock in the room, and if you have an inside cabin, it is pitch dark without a night light. The beds were very comfortable. Everything was very clean and this is something else I'm normally very picky about. The cabin is decorated in cheerful bold tropical colors, and there were plenty of mirrors to help it feel spacious. Drawer space in this cabin was lacking for two people, and I lived mainly out of my suitcase and off one shelf. There were only three small drawers, but plenty of closet space for hanging items. I didn't have many hanging items since the dress code is mainly casual. I had one dress for "formal" night, and the rest were khakis or slacks and sweaters (yes, sweaters. They really ran the AC cold even thought the outdoor air was never above 75 degrees). Passengers: We found a great variety of passengers on board. There were many families with small children. They were well contained for the most part in the extensive children's program, but it was hard to have a meal without a screaming baby or whining child somewhere nearby (my grandmother thought this was cute, but I found it less than adorable). Throughout the buffet area there were always tons of noisy children. This was less prevalent in the dining rooms, but there was still no getting away entirely unless you go to a specialty restaurant. With that in mind, this is a very good choice for families with children because they really cater to this. The children's pool area on the back of the ship is like an entire water park with giant dinosaurs and water slides and nooks and crannies of pools and sprinklers, and even a hot tub. There are fully packed schedules for children of all different age groups. We met several passengers traveling single, and some younger people traveling with an older relative, like myself. There were also a good many young couples, middle aged married couples, or people traveling with groups of friends. I saw a good variety of all ages. I think almost 90 percent were from New York, and the rest from New Jersey and Connecticut. There were a few foreigners, but who knows? They might have been from New York too. I think they must have run a local special or something because they filled the ship to full capacity within the last few weeks before sailing. We got a great deal and so did everyone else we spoke too. Everyone we met was very friendly and seemed to be having a good time. Dining: There are at least ten restaurants on this ship. We ate at five: The Venetian (traditional dining), The Aqua (Contemporary Traditional), The Garden Cafe (the Buffet), Le Bistro (French specialty with $12 cover), and Bamboo (Asian specialty with $10 cover or ala carte sushi or $10 all-u-can-eat sushi). • The Venetian The food here was good and the service was polite, but it took about 2 hours to get through a meal even though the dining room was not busy. We thought it was a fluke the first time, so we tried again, and the same thing happened. The ambience of this dining room is very nice. This is the largest one with sweeping sea views from the rear. I had the best salmon dinner one night here, but we went elsewhere for meals for the rest of the cruise. • The Aqua The food here was also good and service was much more attentive and quick. The room was nicely decorated in teals and blue with a water theme, but it is smaller and more cramped than the Venetian. If you do not pick a location carefully, there could be plenty of foot traffic brushing by behind your chair. It is also noisier with clanging dishes and busy bus stations due to its condensed layout. • Le Bistro This normally has a cover charge of $12 per person but we tried this because we won dinner for two here at the Latitudes party drawing. We found the service to be excellent and the presentation of the food was great. Very gourmet looking upon delivery, however, the flavor was no better than in the regular "included" restaurants. I had the salmon (as I always seem to) and my grandmother had filet mignon. Everything tasted just okay, but service was impeccable and ambience was great. • Garden Cafe For some reason my grandmother enjoyed this noisy crowded buffet and as a result, we went here everyday for breakfast and lunch. When I say noisy and crowded, I speak relatively because it is better than many I've tried on other ships, but I always find this kind of dining chaotic. There seemed to be a good variety of food here that was about the same quality of what would be found in the dining room. There are several stations of regular food, a vegetarian station (which went unmarked and people got confused), a NY deli, and a children's buffet with a special seating area (although as I said before, children are found throughout). There is also a fresh fruit station, dessert station, and cheese selection, as well as some freshly cooked "pick your ingredients and they'll cook it" setup. In the morning this is eggs and omelets, and at lunch, it might be a pasta dish or something, and at dinner, carved meat (I was horrified to see a whole sucking pig being carved one day with its head looking at me with olives for eyeballs). Also, they provide antiseptic towelettes where you pick up your tray and silverware. There is a sign stating to "Please Use". I think the intention was for people to wipe their hands before they touch the buffet utensils, but I didn't see anyone do it. Knowing this, I followed suit and used the wipes after I touched all the germy handles, being careful to only take food from the back of the bins. • Bamboo This is the "Asian Fusion" restaurant with a $10 cover ($5 if between 5:30 and 6:30) or ala carte sushi. They also have all-u-can-eat sushi for $10 where you take all that you want from a conveyor belt that rotates around the bar with dishes of sushi selections (this is amusing to see). The selections were varied, but they were missing some of my favorites, so I opted for ala carte. I spent $4 for 2 rolls (12 pieces) and was full. They threw in a 3rd roll (6 more pieces) complimentary. With this I got a seaweed salad, miso soup, green tea ice cream and coconut ice cream (yes, two desserts). My grandmother spent $5 and got Peking duck and shrimp tempura, along with all the appetizers and dessert. The service was absolutely terrific and the food was the best here! The ambience is very nice and open as this overlooks the piano bar on the deck below. You can listen to music from the piano bar as you dine and people-watch. My grandmother does not care for this kind of food, otherwise I would have dined here everyday. Entertainment: I made a point to attend all the shows I could during this trip. The major production shows were very good. The dancers and singers from the Jean Ann Ryan Company were excellent and there were even some very capable acrobats that never ceased to amaze the crowd. There were 3 major shows in the Stardust Theater: South Beach Rave, Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Bollywood (I still don't know what the name means, but this is a huge show that everyone loves with acrobats swinging from ceilings and amazing feats of flexibility and dance moves). The theater is very impressive and the sightlines are unobstructed. I found there was a lack of legroom though unless you were on an end, and I'm not tall. There is one row with lots of leg room, but this is used as an aisle throughout the show. Bring sweaters because there are AC vents that blow out of the setback in front of you. Then there is also the "Welcome Aboard variety show", the typical ventriloquist/comedian with audience participation which was just okay, and the usual passenger talent show on the final night. In the Spinnaker Lounge, which is the forward facing and very unusually furnished club on deck 12, there was nightly musical entertainment. This also serves as an observation lounge. (If you go all the way up to the front and into where the glass enclosure juts out under the bridge, you can see a very cool view of the length of the ship. This was particularly fun for observing huge swells during rough seas as they splashed up thirteen stories high.) We heard and excellent singing trio called Modal Magic. There were different themes each night. They also played outdoors by the pool. We also saw a comedian named Bob Ramsen who was surprisingly hilarious! He did three shows, all three of which I saw, and the first one was by far the best. He seems at first like he is very disorganized, stumbling with words and like he is going to stink. He even tells some very bad jokes at times. But this unpolished natural way about him accents the comedy. I laughed so hard I was in pain and so was my grandmother. We were in tears practically rolling. And I will tell you, it is typically very unlikely for me to roll with laughter at a comedian unless he is Jerry Seinfeld or equivalent. On several occasions we also enjoyed the pianist/singer Pamela Stanley who played nightly in Gatsby's. This is a piano bar that serves as almost a second smaller atrium. The performances were themed each night, for example: Broadway Favorites, Jazz, or Classics. She was excellent. Public Areas: This is probably the most attractive ship I have ever been on. It is brightly decorated but not gaudy. There is pleasingly colorful artwork throughout. There is a several (at least 4 or 5) deck high central atrium with sculptures, skylight, waterfalls, and glass elevators. There is artificial foliage throughout, but it is tasteful. Lighting is subdued and contributes to the ambience. There is a huge wraparound promenade on deck 6. This is nice for walks, but no jogging is allowed. There is jogging on one of the decks above the pool area. The pool area is very nice. There is one main pool which is a very good size, and there is also a smaller wading pool. This is separated by the stage for entertainment. There are also four hot tubs in this area as well as a large forward facing hot tub on one of the upper decks. The children's pool area is very impressive on the back of the ship, as I mentioned earlier. I actually used the children's hot tub because the children were all in the adult pool on the one day I went to use it, and I had the whole children's area to myself. There is also a very well equipped fitness center and the usual classes. Some are free and some require a fee, anywhere from $5 for yoga to $25 for weight training and body fat/metabolism analysis (these are the ones I did). There is one instructor not to be missed. Debbie led many of the classes and did informative fitness lectures (nutrition, weight training). Unfortunately for us passengers, she is leaving in January '04 to start her own fitness training business in NYC. She was a very captivating and painfully honest instructor with a great sense of humor. The other instructor, Mike from Australia, really kicked our butts and I was in pain for 3 days with sore muscles I didn't know I had. He was very good as well. If you participate in 12 classes, you get a free t-shirt at the end. Walking on your own counts too as long as you log the miles. Easy to miss if you're not looking for it is the Spa with its indoor pool and two Jacuzzis. This pool is nice for lap swimming as it is shallow but spacious, and it is maintained at 98 degrees. The one Jacuzzi is like the others outdoors, only it's inside. The other one is a big square thing with a giant chaise lounge shaped metal grate "bed" thing under the water that provides room for four or five people or so to lay and relax as the jets pulse from underneath. My only problem with this is that the water was a little to deep to lay comfortably with my head out of water. Otherwise, it's very relaxing and you feel as though you are in the lap of luxury. One thing about this ship that I wish were different, but is the case on most new ships, is that there is no place to get away from bright light and watch the moon and stars. I guess it's a safety thing. Also, on the upper decks, there are glass panels attached beyond the railing, all the way around, so you have to stick the camera in the small spaces in between to get a clear shot, or look out one eye to view something if the glass is dirty. This was most likely to cut down on wind, and to provide safety. The promenade was always lit as bright as day. I guess as far as open decks, I like to forgo safety and have the darkness and openness. This is a personal preference since I know I will not be jumping over, but I can see where this would be a concern for children, or drunk adults. On some newer ships, darkness and solitude can be found on open aft stairwells, but this ship had none of those. Ports: • Port Canaveral We went to Epcot. We took the shuttle from the ship for $28 per person. The commute was a little over an hour. I already had Disney passes, but for those who did not, the cost was an additional $50 or so per person. We knew that there would not be enough time, but some time is better than none. For Epcot, one needs about two days to do it entirely. We had about five or six hours by the time we got there. I know the park so I was able to prioritize, and we did three "countries" and four "future pavilions" and a little innovations, which is where they showcase futuristic technology. There was no resting or eating. No time for that. I think that someone would be able to do the Magic Kingdom effectively in the time allotted, and that is where most people went, especially those with children. • Miami We did not do a tour with the cruise ship. Instead we took a cab to the new Parrot Jungle Island. http://www.parrotjungle.com/jsps/ This was nice, but not as nice as the old Parrot Jungle was when it was in Coral Gables. It looks like they are trying to fit it into a location that is more convenient for business, but is it missing the beautiful massive gardens it had before. By the way, this costs about $23 per person, plus $12 total for the cab there. Those who booked through the ship paid over $50. On the way back, we paid $1.25 each for the public bus which took us to Bayside Market (right near the pier) where we caught the Duck Tour http://ticketing.ducktoursmiami.com/ for $21-$24 per person (senior and adult). This is a two hour amphibious tour in a vehicle that turns from a truck to a boat. It drives around the city and through South Beach with the guide narrating, and then it drives right into the water and sails around the homes of the rich and famous. They supply each of us with a duck whistle so we can act like fools and have fun. I would recommend this tour highly. It is a good value and was a fun novelty. • Nassau Due to rough seas, we went to Nassau on the day we were supposed to go to Great Stirrup Cay (NCL "private" island). We had a full day in Nassau when we had been expecting only a few hours. I guess this was a good thing. We went ashore and I was scrambling to find some information about the submarine tour or something of that nature. Since the seas were rough, all small boat things were not running. So we did an island tour with a local guide for $25 per person. We negotiated $20 but ended up giving the full amount because we thought he was so great. His name is Sterling and you should definitely ask for him! We discovered him in the tourist information building as he was holding a sign advertising an "Island Tour." The local guide is definitely the way to go! We went in a group of seven in a minibus. We saw all of Nassau, and we toured three different socioeconomic areas (poor, middle class, and wealthy). We got out and observed a local fish market as they prepared conch and various other freshly caught fish. He showed us two forts, each with their own guides who work for tips, and also the Queen's Staircase. He also gave us a tour of Atlantis, and he was very knowledgeable and thorough. We went throughout Paradise Island in detail and saw all the homes. He narrated throughout and he knew all the history. • Great Stirrup Cay This was the first time I had ever been to one of these "Private" Islands. We had beautiful weather for a day at the beach. We arrived early and were allowed to start tendering over at about 7AM. I got over there by about 9AM and it was definitely not looking too private with 2000 people on the beach. But overall it was very nice. The cruise line rents snorkeling gear, but I brought my own. Vests are required and provided for free. There are also guided marine tours which are included, although I had trouble keeping up as I kept fooling with my mask which was leaking and the surf was a little rough. I always enjoy snorkeling, but this was not the best if you are looking for quality and variety of the reef. For the casual snorkeler, this was fine. There seemed to be plenty of beach chairs if you walk down a bit and don't attempt to settle right where the tender lets out. One thing to note: I discovered I had been eaten alive by sand fleas, which did not become apparent until the next day. The lifeguard warned me, and I put on Off lotion, but it was too late. Other than snorkeling, included were a festive live Caribbean band, volleyball, ping pong, and a big buffet barbecue with fresh fruit and some Chinese giant wok creation (this wok was like four feet in diameter!). I didn't try the food because I knew we had to be back on the ship at 1PM and would eat there. It smelled and looked delicious though! There was also non motorized water equipment rental available (kayaks, floats, etc...). The day was enjoyable and pretty much what I expected. Staff and Service: I've read other reviews which had caused me to be concerned, but I found that the staff was wonderful in all the dining areas. There were times when the wait was long, but this seemed to be because the wait person was handling too many tables. They were always consistently courteous, and they were apologetic when there was a longer wait. I saw what they went through, and there was no way they could have moved faster. I have experienced the freestyle thing twice before, and I did see rude service on other NCL ships, but not this one. We almost never saw our cabin steward, but she always did a nice job. I guess this is generally preferable to most people. There was the occasional "towel animal" and the nightly chocolate mint on the pillow. Disembarkation: The "glitch" which threatened to taint the memory came on the last day during disembarkation. I became horribly ill two nights before the cruise ended. I thought it was the lobster in the Aqua (which tasted "off") and became sick to my stomach, badly. The very next night it happened to my grandmother all night and into the morning of disembarkation. By this time I realized it was probably "that stomach virus". So I requested to get her off the ship before that crowd spills out into the terminal, when you inevitably will end up waiting two hours for a cab. She could hardly get out of bed, never mind deal with that. I also didn't think other passengers would enjoy being crowded up against someone getting intermittently sick. After lots of arguing, they allowed her to get "wheelchair assisted" disembarkation. They brought a guy down to roll her to the door where we get out, but then he left without further instructions. I asked for help with the chair, since I had both our rolling carry-ons, as well as my backpack, and I could not roll the chair too. My grandmother could walk off if she had to, but they said to get out early, the person must occupy the wheelchair. So I strapped my suitcase to my back, and my backpack onto the other rolling suitcase, and tried to push this chair over the raised doorways with one hand as three staff members stood there. No one could help. They could not use their walkie-talkies that were strapped to their sides to call someone. Well after that, they came running out to tell me that I can't take the wheelchair off the ship without a staff member to help, but they could not provide a staff member. So it's a good thing she could walk, because if she really couldn't, I would have had to strap her to my back too. Anyway, this effort resulted in us being third in line for a cab and was well worth the trouble. I just think they could have been less rude and much more helpful. I was very angry with this. Other than this, we had a wonderful time and I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, especially those who are local to NYC. And even if, like me, you think you've been to more exciting places than the Bahamas, this ship is a great experience in and of itself. It's also really neat to sail from one climate to the next, from the snow and cold into the warm Bahamas breeze. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
Freestyle Cruising: A New Alternative I had such a wonderful time on the Norwegian Dawn. Two of the best selling points that Norwegian Dawn offers on its cruises is leaving from my home port of New York, and its Freestyle Cruising. We ... Read More
Freestyle Cruising: A New Alternative I had such a wonderful time on the Norwegian Dawn. Two of the best selling points that Norwegian Dawn offers on its cruises is leaving from my home port of New York, and its Freestyle Cruising. We were on board and in our stateroom less than 2 hours after leaving our house in Queens. We had a room with a balcony on which each morning we enjoyed our room-service coffee. A convenient mini- refrigerator in the room was where we kept bottled water and dinner leftovers. Freestyle Cruising, which means less regimen, and more options, was what got my husband, Anthony, to go on the trip with me. With this new "style" of cruising, there is no formal night, and dress is often casual. Even so, we dressed up for dinner on most nights. There are ten restaurants on board, and we ate at a different one every night at different times, waiting until we were good and hungry. There were many activities for us to do, either alone or together. Anthony spent time in the gym, internet room and the library. I took a kick-boxing class and a German language lesson and went to the movies. Together, we took meringue and waltz classes, and walked several miles around the deck. Keeping active even earned us free t-shirts. Speaking of free, there were many things to be had throughout the ship for free. Free champagne at the art auctions, free bingo cards left in your room; and in the casino there was free Lady Luck Rum Punch, a free raffle and free pulls on the giant slot machine for prizes. I applied for the free Casino at Sea Card, on which your slot plays accumulate points that can be redeemed for various things, but I didn't play enough to make it worthwhile. Although I was armed with the books "Slot Smarts" and "Idiots Guide to Gambling," I didn't gamble as much as I would have liked to. There was too much to do all over the ship, and my husband wasn't into gambling on this trip. But when I did hit the slots (I visited the casino almost every day), I had a great time. Twice I cashed in my winnings and ran to the reception desk to put the money towards my tab on the ship. Several times, I found credit in the machines, and had a great time gambling with the "found money." I focused my play on the IGT red, white and blue, three wheel two coin slot machines, and enjoyed some success. I didn't keep track of how I did, but I think I probably came out even. While food was available around the clock, (there was a 24 hour restaurant, plus room service) there were no midnight buffets like on other cruises, but there were midnight snacks served in the Casino, which was a clever way to draw people in. The food and the choices of dining venues were almost overwhelming. There were several barbecues poolside, but lines were long (although they moved fast), the smoke blew into our faces, and the hamburgers and hotdogs were overcooked, tasteless and cold most of the time. After the first barbecue, we vowed no more. The buffets were terrific, with a myriad of choices, and a great opportunity to overeat. We tried to stay away from them, and if not, to limit our selections to healthy choices, like the delicious Vegetarian Indian Buffet. Of the on-board restaurants with surcharges for dining, we chose two: the All-You-Can-Eat Sushi buffet, for $10 per person, which was a disappointment, and Cagney's Steakhouse for $12.75 per person, which was wonderful. At the sushi bar, the food was served in little dishes on a conveyor belt. A draw back of this is that if somebody sits next to you and grabs the dish you were eyeing off the conveyor belt before it got to you, you are out of luck. In such a case, you can have the waiter bring you the sushi. Still, the selection and choices were limited. The steak at Cagney's was superb, as was the wine steward's suggestion for a lovely bottle of wine ($22). The service was a little pushy, and for every sip of wine we took, somebody was instantly there to pour in more (even when we said no, they continued to come back). In this way, we unintentionally polished off the whole bottle before dinner was served, something we don't usually do. The next night at Impressions, a restaurant with no surcharge, we had a steak as equally delicious as the one we paid for. On another night, all restaurants had lobster on the menu. But there was also duck, which I love, so the two of us ordered 3 entries - 2 lobster dinners plus the duck, all delicious. Here, the service was almost aggressive; the server insisted on removing the lobster from the shell despite my husband asking her not to. This surprised us. While reservations were suggested in the specialty restaurants, we never made any and had no trouble being seated where ever and whenever we wanted. By far my favorite restaurant was Salsa's, nearly secluded on the 13th deck, dark and cozy, with delicious tapas (appetizers), sangrias and margaritas and no surcharge. Of all the food, the biggest disappointment were the desserts and pastries. They were bland and ordinary. Even to Anthony, who has quite a sweet tooth, they were not good enough to tempt him into over indulging. The Freestyle disembarkation went fairly smoothly, better than other cruises I have been on. We were allowed to stay in our room until 11 A.M., and had the option of keeping our luggage. In this way we were quickly off the ship and home in Flushing, by 12:15 p.m. It if wasn't for the fact that we left our digital camera in the taxi that drove us home, the vacation would have been perfect. But even this was mitigated by our traveler's insurance, which covered the monetary loss. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
August 10 -- Got on the ship at 3:20pm went to our cabin and chilled until dinner time. Then we ate dinner and went to a show and then to bed. August 11 -- I went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast. Then I walked around. Then I went down ... Read More
August 10 -- Got on the ship at 3:20pm went to our cabin and chilled until dinner time. Then we ate dinner and went to a show and then to bed. August 11 -- I went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast. Then I walked around. Then I went down to our cabin, watched some TV, and took a nap. After doing that, my Grandpa and I went for ice cream by the pool. (they had ice cream every day but it was really melted because they only packed it in ice). I also went for a swim in the pool. After that we went to our cabin to get ready for dinner. We went to dinner and then to a show. After the show my grandparents went to sleep and my father and I ordered room service. I had roast beef on rye while my father had turkey on French bread. We also had two iced teas to drink. And then we went to sleep. August 12 -- Today we were in Port Canaveral, Florida We woke up at 7:30am because our tour left at 8:15am. We had breakfast in the Ventical restaurant. After breakfast we got on a bus to go to Universal Studios. It was really hot on the bus because they didn't have AC. Here is a list and information on the rides we went on: Jaws: I thought this ride was fun but it may be scary for children under 10. You ride in a boat and there is a fake shark trying to attack your boat. Also there is a part where you are close to fire and you can feel the heat of the fire on your face. But in the end you get back safely. Earthquake: A very fun ride. When you get on the ride after they talk to you the train moves out of the station and you go to another station for the earthquake. There is a lot of noise and the train shakes a lot. Also there is fire close to you. Men in Black (last ride) This ride was very cool. You shoot these ray guns at aliens and at the other car. (Long lines for double riders, go in the single rider line) If you go in single you will get in the same car but not in the same row. Also this ride spins a lot, it may make children dizzy. There was a long wait to get on these rides plus we had to go back to our ship. After we got back to the boat we went to dinner and a show. Then just as last night my grandparents went to bed and my father and I had room service then we went to bed. August 13 -- Today we were in Miami, Florida. We went on the Everglades airboat ride. We got in a bus for a hour ride. We got there and we got the front seat in the airboat. They gave us earplugs so the noise wouldn't hurt our ears. We went slowly at first but then we picked up speed. We stopped and our guide told us about the Everglades. We saw crocodiles bite each other. Then we went back to the bus, went back to the ship and had dinner. Than we went to a show and to bed. August 14 -- Today we were in Nassau, Bahamas. Went on a tour called " see and sea". We got on a boat and went out to another boat in the ocean. We changed boats and then we went down below and saw all kinds of fish swimming outside the boat. That was cool. Then we got off the boat and we got on a tour bus and we took a guided tour around Nassau. Then we went back to the ship, ate dinner and went to a show. Then we went to the Blue Lagoon and then to bed. August 15 -- Today we were at Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. This is NCL's private island. We had a lot of fun swimming and eating there. Then we got back on the boat and went to our cabin to take a nap. Then we went to dinner and to a show. Than we went to sleep. August 16 -- Today was our last day at sea. We woke up at 10:00am and went to breakfast. Then we went back to our cabin and we just chilled out to dinner. After dinner we went to the show and then to bed. August 17 -- Got off the ship at 11:00am. Had to wait a long time for my uncle to pick us up. I had a great cruise and I would cruise with NCL anytime. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
We left on the Norwegian Dawn on August 24th. This was our 15th Cruise, and I will try to be very objective. There were 4 of us, my wife and myself (early 50's) my daughter 23, son 20. We took a limousine to the port, and we are happy ... Read More
We left on the Norwegian Dawn on August 24th. This was our 15th Cruise, and I will try to be very objective. There were 4 of us, my wife and myself (early 50's) my daughter 23, son 20. We took a limousine to the port, and we are happy we did. The traffic was horrendous since there were five or six ships in port that day. The crowds were heavy, but the embarkation was very efficient. We were on the ship within 15 minutes of our dropoff. We were assigned to a balcony cabin on the 8th deck and the kids had an outside cabin on the 4th. The rooms were fine, and the bathrooms were nicer than most others. The room stewards were very nice and efficient. No complaints here. Getting around the ship was easier than alot of ships. Most decks went all the way through. We left at 5:00 p.m. and it was pouring. The rain dampened the castoff party which is usually alot of fun, especially leaving from New York where you pass the Statute of Liberty. The second day at sea was also poor weather. Third day we were in Cape Canaveral. We went to Cocoa Beach, $15 by cab. Glad we went early, because the rain came at about 1:00. We went back to the ship, and it rained the rest of the day. Next morning, we were in Miami. Guess what-RAIN. It rained all day, and we stayed on the ship. I wonder what people that had purchased tours did. I hope they got their money back because the weather was terrible. The following morning we were in Nassau. It poured before we left the ship, but it was beautiful the rest of the day. We went to Cable Beach. The beach was very nice and the hotels permitted ship passengers to used their chairs. We stayed until about 2 and then did a little shopping downtown before returning to the ship. The next day was Stirrup Cay-NCL's private island. If you want to get chairs and umbrellas you better get there early. We were on the second tender over, and had no problem. The people that came later had-like after 8:30 had lots of problems. It is nice having a beach day on a private island, but unlike other one we have been to-this one is very very crowded and people seemed to on top of each other. They should find a way to spread out the crowds or find another island. It would have made it much more enjoyable if it wasn't so crowded. The last day was at sea, and after a thunderstorm in the morning, the weather improved and we had a nice day by the pool. The ship- The ship was very nice, but the decorating left alot to be desired. The entire staff was very friendly. I really didn't see much difference in the way they treated the passengers even though there isn't direct tipping. The food. This is where I will rate the ship below par. We generally ate at the buffet for breakfast. I didn't find much difference between the breakfast buffet here and on other ships. It was mediocre. The coffee is pretty bad- which is the case on alot of ships. They should find a way to improve this. We ate lunch either at the buffet or the outside barbecue. I would rate the food at the buffet as adequate, and the barbecue about the same. We ate 3 dinners in specialty restaurants(2 were extra charge)and 4 in the regular restaurants. Of the non-pay restaurants, we like the Impressions the best. We found it to be a nice atmosphere and a nice wait staff. We liked the Aqua the least. They have a all female wait staff, and ours wasn't very friendly. The food in these restaurants was below par compared to other cruises we have been on. The selection was limited and many of the dishes were bland and not tasty. They should have at least had a pasta dish at every meal for those that are non meat, non fish eaters. Most ships used to have a pasta course, but I guess NCL has cut that course out. The soups were poor. The only really good part of the meal was the deserts. The specialty restaurants were vastly superior. We ate at Bistro-$12.50 cover, and Cagneys Steak house-$17.50 cover. We enjoyed our meals very much there, but resented having to pay a cover to enjoy a meal that should have been the quality of all of the meals. I feel NCL is sending a message that if you want superior food-you will have to go to a cover charge restaurant to receive it. We also ate a Salsa-tex-mex that had no cover charge,but you needed reservations. The food here also was superior to the other non-pay restaurants. Be aware that especially on Friday-lobster nite-the wait at the restaurants can be over an hour.By the way-the lobster was tough and not great. Conclusion- I won't sail out of New York again. The positive is that you don't have to fly, but the negative outweighs the positive. The Atlantic can be rough and the weather can be poor. You have a much better chance in the Islands for the weather and smoother seas. NCL is a very good way to go for first time cruisers. I would rate it a 6 out of 10. There is nothing we hated, but not alot stood out as exceptional. They seemed to try hard, but they need to get their act together-especially in the restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
This is my 5th NCL cruise, and my first on a "freestyle" ship, and I am disappointed with the whole freestyle idea. Of course, you can do what you want when you want, but you have to pay for it! (Or as one performer at the show ... Read More
This is my 5th NCL cruise, and my first on a "freestyle" ship, and I am disappointed with the whole freestyle idea. Of course, you can do what you want when you want, but you have to pay for it! (Or as one performer at the show quipped, "Freestyle means a $10 cover charge.") Let me start by saying that embarkation in New York was very smooth. They had a special check-in area for Latitudes members. All in all, the process went very well. We're a bunch of traditionalists in my family, and we knew even before the cruise that we didn't want to do the freestyle dining. Rather, we wanted to have the same restaurant, same table, same server, every night. And it worked out well, since the 3 main non-paying restaurants have just about the same menu. (The other "alternative" restaurants charge between $10 and $17.50 cover.) We chose the Venetian Dining Room, and lucked out with Mario, our maitre d' and Iustina, our waitress. Originally, we were told we could only get set dinner times for 5:30, 6:00, 8:30 or 9:00 and that we should try a few restaurants before making our decision, but we persisted and requested an 8:00 seating every night ... and got it. Wow! Was it great to pass by the lines of people waiting for dinner at 8 PM, so we could get to the Maitre d' (who knew our name) and say "We're here!" Freestyle may be good for some, but we like to be on a schedule. The food was very good, but not excellent. The rack of lamb was very good, but the lobster tail was tough. Also, as an enticement to get you off the private island, they scheduled the chocoholic buffet (the only grand buffet of the whole cruise) at 2:00 in the afternoon. This was really weird! And all the sand they had to clean up in the dining room! Also, because there is no main or late seating, the wait staff doesn't serenade or dance for you. Otherwise, they'd be doing it 5 times a night. I kinda miss this fun part of cruising. The food in the Garden Cafe (buffet) is good. I don't know why they offer Indian food every day. Does it have mass appeal? The executive chef is Indian, but still ... Also, the New York deli is nowhere near New York quality. Otherwise, the buffet food is good and varied. I know I'm going from topic to topic here, but allow me to comment "freestyle": The camp: The kids' camp was a big disappointment. Unlike Carnival, for instance, the ship charges for babysitting when it is in port. We only had 2 days at sea. The camp is becoming a nice profit center! Also, the area for the 2-5 year-olds was extremely small; the 6-9 year-olds get a much bigger room. There are not as many things to do as on Carnival either. I remember the Carnival kids' program having something new every hour, but on the Dawn, there was hardly anything planned! The ship: The ship is new and beautiful. Everything is clean. The rooms are small. The bathrooms need more shelf space. The door separating the toilet from the rest of the bathroom is a nice feature, as is the sliding shower door. We had 2 kids in our room, so one used an overhead bunk bed and the other used a trundle bed that slid out from one of the regular beds. The walls between the cabins are thin, but the ride is very smooth. The ports: Port Canaveral has a very nice port area. We skipped the very expensive shore excursions throughout this cruise, and did our own thing. In Port Canaveral, we went to Kennedy Space Center, and paid one-third what the ship was charging. For the $28 we spent per adult ticket, Kennedy Space Center was a real bargain! In Miami it rained all day, and we didn't leave the ship. (Of course, those with the shore excursions got very wet!) My complaint is, the ship came up with rainy day contingency plans at 11 AM, which is really late! They ran a movie for the kids at the camp, and line dancing for adults, as well as a movie in the cinema. They should have had a schedule of constant movies in the cinema all day! Another thing, this ship will be running out of New York all year round. Why did it not build a retractable roof over the pool for rainy days, as well as for cruises during the fall, winter and spring? Rather, they have a lap pool in the spa, but they charge $10 per person to get in, and no one over 15 is allowed. Again, money, money, money! Nassau: We went to Cable Beach. It was beautiful. Well worth it. Ask your cab driver to take you to the beach at the Wyndham Hotel. The private island: As in the past, Great Stirrup Cay is wonderful, although it can get a bit crowded. My recommendation is ... get yourselves some extra hot dog or hamburger buns from the buffet to feed the fish. They come right up to you. It's very cool! On the negative side, every toilet in the ladies' room was unflushable. It was gross. The shows: This was, by far, the best part of the cruise. The Jean Ann Ryan Company never fails to delight and excite. They put on three shows, a South Beach revue, the songs of Andrew Lloyd Weber, and the exotic Bollywood, which I really doubt anyone in the audience under 20 understood. Also, the Norwegian Dawn band was phenomenal, full of energy and great sounds! The cruise director, Rich Clesen, is very energetic. He used to be a stand-up comic, and it shows. One of the shows not to be missed is the crew talent show. Now, I happened to be in the Star Seekers talent show, but they take it far too seriously. Whereas passenger talent shows used to be fun, they now have a big audition process to weed people out, and the ultimate goal is that the winner could possibly get a contract to perform aboard NCL ships. My disappointments: They are marketing this freestyle biz in your face a bit too much. They put the alternative dining venues' menus in your mailbox every day, or thrust them at you in the lobby. Even the waiters wear buttons that say, "Aloha. Ask me about cruising to Hawaii." Please ... don't these poor people have enough to do ... you want them to pitch cruises, too! The gift shop is all the way in the back of the ship, not in a central location. It was always empty, and the prices are horrendous ($97 for a man's Hawaiian shirt, $150 for a pair of shoes!) Basically, NCL is cutting costs everywhere: No more bar soap in the bathrooms, you have to pump your hand soap, shower gel and shampoo. No more free fruit punch or lemonade throughout the day, just water and iced tea. The bingo games are something like $19.99, $29.99 and $39.00 for the cards. A 5x7 photo is $9.99. If you want to buy your embarkation photo, you have to buy it along with a photo of the ship and a keychain, and the whole package is $19.99. You cannot buy the photo alone. The mixed drinks at the bars cost as much as they would in the city. The restaurant cuts costs by eliminating the bus person and wine steward (there is a server and a runner). No one comes around with a selection of rolls at breakfast; there is just a small basket at your table. Well, I guess I've done enough complaining. Here's something good: Debarkation: This part was really good. You can hang out in your room until you leave, so you're not stuck in some lounge with hundreds of others. Our orange tickets were called last, so we got off the ship at 11:30! Would I sail with Norwegian again? I'm not sure. This is not the Norwegian I was on even 4 years ago. Thanks for reading. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
There has been a new dawn on the cruise industry. The m/s norwegian dawn is an absolutely amazing ship that i describe as indescribable, but i will try my best to let you know what a fabulous time i had and what a fabulous vessel this is. ... Read More
There has been a new dawn on the cruise industry. The m/s norwegian dawn is an absolutely amazing ship that i describe as indescribable, but i will try my best to let you know what a fabulous time i had and what a fabulous vessel this is. i went with my father and mother, 57 and 46 respectively, my sisters, 20 and 22, a long time friend of the family, age 50 and a boyfriend of my 20 year old sister, age 26. all of us had a simply marvelous time. "to the ship:" the dawn is much more elegant than i expected. the grand atrium was not obtrusive compared to most of the new ships. it was three decks high (main reception and java cafe, the optional salsa restaurant and the internet cafe) and was never very crowded. the only time i had to wait on line there was for the midnight buffet which was at 2:00 pm when we left ncl's private island. the most advertised feature of an ncl cruise is being able to freestyle cruise. the norwegian dawn, star, sky and sun were all built with this in mind. for those who do not know what freestyle cruising is, it is being able to dine when you want with whom you want and, pretty much where what you want. in other words this is even more like a resort/hotel at sea. this worked very well for us, although we chose to make reservations every once in a while. the ten restaurants were beautiful and the food absolutely could not have been better.the main "oasis pool" was more than adequate but was crowded on the days at sea, which is how most ships are. the sister ship, Norwegian star, has two water slides at her pool, but they were not installed on the dawn, most likely because of space, and it was definitely a good move. i cannot say enough about the entertainment, from the shows in the stardust theater which were like eye candy to the games that the hilarious and talented cruise staff put on. everything was amusing and entertaining. "i ate the entire time..." i am very surprised that when i look up the word gluttony, a picture of the venetian restaurant onboard the dawn is not there! our party of seven used the freestyle dining concept and went to all the included restaurants besides impressions, because of a line. [tip- each day make reservations at whatever restaurant at which you wish to eat to be on the safe side]. our favorite was the venetian. it is such a classy and beautiful restaurant. we asked and of course received the same table and great waiter, minon, almost each time we went, however, there is no guarantee for this preference. the food all over the ship was simply irresistible and scrumptious! even the b.b.q by the pool had ribs, steaks, clams and so on, even a fantastic paella. i have heard fabulous things about the optional, restaurants especially le bistro, a french cuisine restaurant. it is home to original masterpieces by van gogh, Renoir, monet, andy Warhol and matisse! for those who are booked on the dawn this should be helpful: included restaurants: venetian, aqua, impressions, trattoria, garden cafe (buffet), and the blue lagoon. optional; extra fee restaurants (reservations are needed): le bistro $12.50 cover charge, cagney's steak house $17.50, bamboo $10 cover charge, teppanyaki a la carte pricing (asian food being cooked hibachi style right in front of you). ports from your back door: new york-at sea- port canaveral-miami-nassau-great stirrup cay (ncl's private island)-at sea-new york embarkation went very smoothly, unlike what i have read from other cruise ships that left from miami. [tip/reminder- fill out those bahama cards before you go to leave from the port of new york]. day at sea- fun filled, most of my day was spent at the pool, but a person in our party did as many scheduled activities as possible. we also had the opportunity to meet the concierge, amanda and the hotel manager, klaus. we were very lucky to be invited to the captain's cocktail party which was great. they had the very important crew members there to chat with and we had a great time with them. that night we had formal night at the venetian, then danced, karaoked and gambled the night a way. port canaveral- optional shore tours to kennedy space center, orlando parks, and cocoa beach. we met up with family and went up to new smyrna beach. miami- great port. [tip- don't take shuttle to south beach, just catch a cab]. we went to south beach and walked around the stores. nassau- did the awesome dive-in program that brought us to a fantastic reef to snorkel. then my sister, her boyfriend and i took a taxi to cable beach by atlantis and rented jet skis. it was incredible great stirrup cay- i rented a vest and went snorkeling and was in the water pretty much the whole time. get the earliest tender possible for an umbrella. i was entertained the entire cruise. the shows were really amazing and so much better then the average vegas/cruise show. they had stunning singers, dancers, sets, music, effects and so on. the cruise director, kieron buffrey was fantastic. he was very quick and good with all ages and took care of those people who need to be talked to and taken care of. the rest of the cruise staff was so much fun. we loved the crew and the crew loved us! my advice: ask and you shall receive! the norwegian dawn has an impressive and fantastic crew. they are from 64 different nations and do a fantastic job with a smile on their faces and a greeting when you walked by. we made friends with misha, a dancer, klaus, the hotel manager, kieron, the cruise director and we especially loved the cruise directors staff, especially leona. we found the crew and staff to be gracious in every way. the lap of luxury! the largest suites on any cruise ship are on this ship. the garden villa suites are two opulent, indulgent and spacious three bedroom, 5,350 square feet suites on deck 14 overlooking the pool, and the ocean. each one has and outdoor patio with a hot tub and panoramic views. my parents had a category ba balcony stateroom and it looked off the aft/stern of the ship. there were only a few that looked out on the back. i had an inside room category jj and it was adequate and i needed nothing more and nothing less. my sisters and the friend that was traveling with us asked for an upgrade and in this busy season, they received it. so ask and you might (most likely shall) receive. i hate goodbyes: i tried the express disembarkation and after a tiny bit of a wait on line, i was out. when they called my floor, i went to the gangway with all of my bags and they swiped my cards and i was off at 10:30 and we were cleared at 10:00. because of this wonderful concept of freestyle cruising, we had another nice breakfast at the venetian. it went very smoothly. overall: this was an amazing ship and it has been a memorable trip. i highly recommend this ship to anyone (especially those in the new york metro area. t is very convenient leaving from nyc). it is indescribable. you have to try it for yourselves! 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Sail Date: July 2003
We returned yesterday from a wonderful NCL Dawn cruise to Florida and the Bahamas. After reading some negative comments on these boards, i was a bit concerned prior to sailing, but had and absolutely wonderful cruise vacation, and would ... Read More
We returned yesterday from a wonderful NCL Dawn cruise to Florida and the Bahamas. After reading some negative comments on these boards, i was a bit concerned prior to sailing, but had and absolutely wonderful cruise vacation, and would recommend this ship to anyone! bus service: prompt and efficient. (note that you will arrive later at the pier when taking the bus service -- approximately 1:30 pm) and also you cannot use express debarkation, but this was not a problem and the bus made the trip to new york stress free. embarkation: relatively smooth, although arriving in the afternoon makes the lines longer. go early (11:30 am) if you can. cabin: category g, obstructed view outside cabin with four people. large enough for our needs. little drawer space. mainly shelves and closet. pack lightly. nice vanity. spacious bathroom. refrigerator, safe, hairdryer (good one), coffeemaker. bring small plastic food containers. take creamers from buffet for coffee and put in frig. leave hairdryer home. didn't need over the door shoe holder. fourth bed is on floor, not bunk style so floor space is limited when beds are turned down. view was good. little obstruction from lifeboats. restaurants: we ate dinner mainly in impressions, which was wonderful! service from paul and anak was great! the three main restaurants have the same dinner menu, so it is a matter of which one you like best. we ate at the venetian the first evening and is was very nice but not as personal as impressions. if you are prone to motion sickness, do not sit by the back windows in the venetian. they are floor to ceiling and are over the engine and this was unsettling to some. we ate at la trattoria one night and found the food to be excellent there as well. we did not eat at salsa, or any of the surcharge restaurants, since we enjoyed the food so much in the main restaurants. tip: ask to see the menu book at reception the first evening, and decide based on that which nights you would like to try a specialty restaurant. breakfast in the venetian was delightful, and i also enjoyed the garden cafe. we had lunch on deck each day. great barbecued ribs! sunday: prime rib monday: formal night (optional)- beef wellington tuesday: italian dinner-shrimp scampi wednesday: president's dinner- lbj's steak thursday: caribbean night-we ate at la trattoria since this was our least favorite menu in the main restaurants friday: farewell dinner- lobster & filet! saturday: chef's dinner - veal scaloppini entertainment: really enjoyed the south beach rave, also bollywood was good. we missed the music of the night show. bands were all excellent, in particular the house band, the ironics, and roots link. violinist Dominique eva and her juggling husband were good, but she was a very talented musician doing a lot of schmaltzy showbizzy stuff. the comedian, chris clobber, was hysterical! best entertainment on the ship. more of a cerebral comic, but very funny. i believe he is leaving the ship though. movies are run several times a day in the cinema. they are ones that are out on video and have been edited to a pg-13 format. shore excursions: only took one - sea island adventure in nassau. went to a beautiful island which was much less crowded than ncl's and had a nice lunch. it was a bit overprice, but very enjoyable. in port canaveral we used art's transportation to get to the space center and saved $17 per person. space center was okay, but i think cocoa beach is your best bet in the hot months. stayed on the ship and enjoyed the pool and facilities in miami. great stirrup cay is beautiful, but much too crowded for this size ship. tip: bobk said he went to the hilton in nassau for $15 pp and had a great day on the beach. this is an 8 minute walk from the ship. gym: husband said it was the nicest he's seen on a ship. i worked on putting on, rather than taking off pounds! spa: didn't use. casino: didn't use. bingo: one game -- too expensive! too much else to do! shops: nice but pricey. photos: nice selection, typical ship prices. soda program: didn't use. (ice tea is free) teen passport: get one of these if you have a teen-smoothies are great! teen program: kids went the first night, met friends and then just stayed with them the rest of the cruise. they only went to the movies for teens after that. make you teen go the first night or they will not find many kids there after that. talent show: what an amazingly talented group of people! my son was the pianist and i was very proud of him, but i was so impressed with the talent that these passengers had. many were as good as professionals! library: nice selection pool: too small for this size ship, but otherwise nicely designed. there was no smell of smoke in my cabin which was on the smoking side of the ship. the food was great, the staff was courteous, and this was one of the best cruises i have been on! as the comedian said, "some people will complain about anything. if there is a whole in the side of the ship, complain. if there are not enough raisins in you oatmeal, please be quiet!" 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Sail Date: May 2003
Getting to the Pier -- This was the first time that we ever went to the NYC piers, so we used a car service for transportation. The ride from Long Island went rather smoothly (about 1 hour). Only those cars using the parking garage were ... Read More
Getting to the Pier -- This was the first time that we ever went to the NYC piers, so we used a car service for transportation. The ride from Long Island went rather smoothly (about 1 hour). Only those cars using the parking garage were allowed to enter the garage area so, due to drop-offs and pick-ups, traffic along 12th Ave was horrendous. It took about an additional 30 minutes to drive from W 59th down to W 52nd St. For our return home I called the limo company and had the car meet us on 11th Ave and W 52nd St, which was much easier. For those of you that are using a cab or car service, and don't mind carrying your luggage, I would suggest that you approach the pier from below W 52nd and get dropped off across the street from the ship. Just carry your luggage across 12th Ave at the traffic light. Embarkation -- We arrived at the pier at approx 11:15 AM, and were on the ship within 30 minutes of giving our luggage to the porters. There didn't appear to be a separate check-in for Lattitude members, however, if you identified yourself as a member to the NCL staff on hand, you were pulled out of line and sent directly to an available check-in rep. CC Meeting -- We missed it. After returning the life preservers to our cabin following the muster drill, we found that our luggage had already arrived. We took that opportunity to unpack everything. By the time we got to the top deck, the weather turned nasty. We're really sorry we weren't able to connect with all the folks we chatted with the past few months. Cabin -- My wife and I had absolutely no problem finding our cabin. We were on Deck 9 in cabin 9226 (starboard - aft). The cabin contained a queen size bed (which I believe was actually wider than our normal queen size at home) and a sofa that opened up into a 3rd bed. Since it was just the 2 of us, it stayed closed. The balcony had a small table and 2 chairs (1 that reclined). The luggage fit nicely under the bed and we had plenty of space for our clothing; · Closet · 3 drawers · 4 shelves in the closet · 2 shelves to the right and left of the closet. There's a mini fridge in the room that we kept stocked with a case of bottle water we brought on board. The electronic safe was easy to use. Plenty of room in the bathroom. The sliding doors that separated the shower, sink and toilet were a nice touch. We actually kept the balcony doors open most of the cruise and had the TV tuned to the music stations. This made for some peaceful times whenever we were relaxing in the sun. Freestyle Dining - Restaurants - Food Absolutely no complaints about the food or the restaurants. The only restaurants we missed were Cagney's and Bamboo. We ate in the Garden Cafe once and preferred to stay away from it because of the crowds. The Freestyle atmosphere really catered to my wife and me. We actually preferred to sit at a table for 2 each night and, with the exception of the last night on board, never had to wait for a table at all. We rarely ate dinner before 8 PM and had lunch on board only 2 times as I recall....one of which was on the 1st day we arrived. We used room service for a continental breakfast on the days we were in port to make it easier to get off the ship for the excursions. Speaking of room service, our orders were never late and consistently brought within 5 minutes of the times we requested. We always received a telephone call alerting us to the fact that the order was being delivered. We were very comfortable with the resort casual dress code for dinner. Monday evening was formal night and we did not feel out-of-place because we chose to remain casual. I did, however, wear a summer suit on Friday because it was my 50th birthday. Shore Excursions -- We booked all of our excursions ahead of time through the NCL website and found the tickets waiting for us in the cabin when we arrived on 5/25. Universal/Orlando was great (our 1st time there). I highly recommend the margaritas at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. We enjoyed Miami's Key Biscayne Heritage Bike Tour in addition to Nassau's Seaworld Explorer. We were a bit disappointed that we were unable to go ashore at Great Stirrup Cay. The water was rather rough which made it difficult and dangerous for the tenders to take on and drop off the passengers. Very understandable. Entertainment -- The Jean Ann Ryan Dance Company was all they were cracked up to be. Immensely talented and high energy. Too bad they performed for only 3 nights. The David Lucas show, and the show by his wife Ava, was equally entertaining. We missed the Crew Show on Friday night. The late night shows in the Spinnaker Lounge were a great way to end the evenings. We also had a blast at the poolside parties. We always took the time to sit in wherever there was a lounge performer, whether it be a piano player or a singer. The Dixieland Band that performed in the Pearly Kings Pub was neat. After Thought -- Our excitement going into the cruise was at a fever pitch, and we anticipated nothing short of a fabulous vacation. Our cruise far exceeded our expectations and we're already making plans to cruise the Dawn again when my wife turns 50 in 2 years. From time to time we did hear complaints. My opinion is that if you go on board looking for the negatives, you will find them. The complaint that sticks in my mind was uttered by a woman who said she could not get to the cabin door while the bathroom door was wide open. I haven't figured out if she was complaining about the cabin set-up, or the fact that she didn't have the foresight to close the bathroom door. Come to think of it, I couldn't step onto the balcony while the sliding glass door was closed (my sarcasm for the day). My point is, for those that are booked on the Dawn and those considering it, if you go on board anticipating a cruise that will be nothing short of fabulous..... that's exactly what you will leave the ship with. Read Less

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