5 Norwegian Dawn Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

This was our first cuise with NCL and it was the best!! We had the easiest & quickest embarkation ever!! Arrived at Miami port @11:30 and waited 1 hour to board the ship. You receive your room card, account setup and picture at the ... Read More
This was our first cuise with NCL and it was the best!! We had the easiest & quickest embarkation ever!! Arrived at Miami port @11:30 and waited 1 hour to board the ship. You receive your room card, account setup and picture at the terminal so when you board the ship there is no further delays. Room wasn't ready till 2:00, as advised, so we had lunch at the Venetian Dining Room @1:00 and then relaxed at Oasis Pool till room was ready. We had a balcony room on deck 9. Room was good location on ship, not far from the elevators. There were 2 chairs and table on balcony. We ate breakfast there on port days as we would order room service as we were arriving in port...another reason I love cruising!! The Venetian Dining Room was our favorite place to eat. The Aqua was ok but we enjoyed the service and atmosphere at the Venetian. We always had breakfast & supper at the Venetian and booked 2 of the specialty restaurants - Teppenaki & Cagney's which were both ok, but I wouldn't book specialties again as food is great in the dining room. There was never a wait for the dining room. Entertainment on the Dawn was great. We went to the early show every evening in the Stardust Theater. They have impressionist, comedian, illusionist, hypnotist and the entertainment crew who are excellent. The staff are very attentive and always pleasant and there to help. At the gangway on the port return the crew are dancing and offering water & cold cloths which are quite refreshing and welcoming!! They are the best!! Here's a review of port excursions which I booked independently from the ship: - Samana, DR - Razor Tours - ATV Tour - 5 hour tour around Samana. There was a lot of rain the day before so we couldn't get to the falls and beach but we were taken around the town and to another beach, which was ok. - Tortola, BVI - taxi tour from pier. I recommend to book a tour as the taxi from the dock wasn't that great. You have to wait for the taxi to fill before they will leave. After 20 minutes of waiting and twice checking with the driver, he unwillingly took us on the tour. - Philipsburg, St.Maarten - Bernard's Tour - Excellent tour of St.Maarten including iguana farm, Marigot Sarafina's Pastry store is a must do!!),Orient Beach,& Maho Beach to watch the planes land. My favorite port!! - St.John's, Antigua - Segway Antigua tour - 2 hour tour on segway which was fun and then as long as you want on Miller's by the Sea beach which is very calm & quiet...relaxing!! - Roseau, Dominica - Nature Isle Explorers - wonderful day of exploring at Champagne Beach for snorkelling, Titou Gorge was very refeshing and to see Trafalgar Falls and relax in Screws Spa. Another excellent day!! - Bridgetown, Barbados - Scenic Barbados Tour - drive around Barbados, visited Gun Hill, old church, Bathsheba & then relaxed at Coconut Court Beach. Ok tour nothing extra. - Basseterre, St.Kitts - amazing tour with Royston Tours in his "go anywhere" van!! We saw wonderful St.Kitts in a unique way. We drove thru town and saw Independence Square, visited Romney Manor & Caribelle Batik (cool place,lunch at Brimstone Hill Fortress, Black Rock, Timothy Hill (amazing view) & saw South Friar's Beach. Awesome Tour!! De-embarkation was as well. We did walk off with our luggage as our flight left Miami @11:30. We could leave the ship @8:00, went thru customs quickly as there was nobody waiting there and outside to get shared shuttle to airport ($20 pp). Smooth sailing all the way!! We love Freestyle cruising and would certainly cruise with NCL again. Our best cruise yet!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
As a first time cruiser, I had several unfounded reservations about cruising, but after a 10 day trip on the Norwegian Dawn in the Garden Villa, I've turned over a new leaf. I feel like I could dedicate an entire review to Gian our ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, I had several unfounded reservations about cruising, but after a 10 day trip on the Norwegian Dawn in the Garden Villa, I've turned over a new leaf. I feel like I could dedicate an entire review to Gian our butler, and those of you who have had that profound pleasure know what Im talking about. There were 7 people in our room and 3 of them were under four years of age. Whether Gian was cutting up pancakes for my discerning two year old, or showing up in the nick of time with a clean bottle for my loud son, or more frequently tending to our absurd food requests while half in the bag, Gian was the absolute consummate and able gentleman. Although our group rarely ate at the same time or ordered from the same restaurant and exhibited a distinct inability to keep track of a key-card for any more than a few hours, Gian took care of everything with a reassuring smile. My primary issue with cruising, was the idea of being in a small room. Problem solved... The Dawn has a magnificent Garden Villa with countless ammenties and plenty of space. You can see the layout and pictures online, but it really exceeded my expectations. Its a short walk out through the back of the garden to the Kids pool area and basketball court. The other perceived issue I had about cruising was adhering to an aggressive schedule and not being able to spend extra time at places that I like. This fear held true in some respects, but I can live with it. It was quite entertaining to open your eyes in the morning, slide the curtain to the side and find a totally new island to buy a tee-shirt on. My normal routine in the morning was to gingerly descend the half-flight of stairs for some crab-cake benedict at Cagney's, and marvel at how much work the crew had done before I managed to stumble out of bed. These cruise ships are quite large of course, and I never got to see what giants from the Jurassic period they must keep chained up below to tie these ships up to the pier in the morning. In any case, picking your excursions carefully seems very important. We did a third-party ATV excursion on Sumana with Terry where at some point we tasted the local coffee, coconut, cocoa and fruit. If I took anything away from that experience, its that the fruit I get in New York should be called something else. If you like golf, play at the Sandy Lane country club on Barbados. Great course, gorgeous area and great bloody mary's. The port area of Barbados is terrible, so get to the far west of the island as soon as you can. We Zip-Lined on beautiful St Kitts, which I would certainly recommend. Its not as death-defying as it sounds, but the views are incredible. I though the food on the ship was pretty good. I didn't eat at any of the buffets, but the restaurants were solid. The Bistro and Bamboo were my favorites while La Cucina and Teppanyaki were serviceable. I did not make it to Moderna, but heard good reports from our group. As for the entertainment, late nights in the Spinaker Lounge were a lot of fun, and there was usually a cash texas-holdem game at night. The magic show (prestidigitator), was so good that I didn't speak for a long time afterwards. I didn't see most of the other shows, but our group liked second city and the kids loved Bollywood. By all accounts however, the comedian needs to retire. The service overall was without parallel and apparently dominated by Filipinos. Id like to ship a Philippine Island up to the metropolitan area and glue it to Manhattan. The whole crew was cordial, professional and always willing to go out of their way to solve your silly issue. LIKES: Piano in the room. ( on tippy-toes, my one year old thinks he's Glenn Gould, so that was a plus) Caribbean sunsets on the private deck. Steam room and rain shower in the garden. Finger sandwiches and hot wings served in the room, post excursion. Cell phones on the ship for the suites. Port wine with a cigar in the havana club. Gian. DISLIKES: Internet access not included in the garden villa. I think this is just an oversight but it can't cost me an extra $100 USD if I forget to hit the "Logout" button and my time expires. Being on the starboard side of the ship, it would have been nice if the sun set in the east while we were traveling north. Gian's name should be added parenthetically on the side of the ship... Norwegian Dawn (with Gian!) or something similar. Overall, this was a great vacation, and we will be booking another one soon. Since this was our first cruise, I have nothing to compare it to, so this review may not be terribly insightful, but perhaps it would be of interest to a skeptical would-be cruiser. I would be interested in finding other ships with similar accomodations and service. Incidentally, what the hell does freestyle cruising mean? Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
First time on NCL...The DAWN...Loved our ship, love our trip. We arrived a day early Saturday 1/14 ( left a snow storm in Cleveland) Rented a car for the day went shopping for a few cruise essentials we were told we would need ( soda, ... Read More
First time on NCL...The DAWN...Loved our ship, love our trip. We arrived a day early Saturday 1/14 ( left a snow storm in Cleveland) Rented a car for the day went shopping for a few cruise essentials we were told we would need ( soda, Water prepacked snacks- crackers, cookies and fruit drops) The Cruise: Dropped the car off at Hertz (downtown Miami) and had a shuttle to the port. Checked in terminal B. Embarkation was OK. At about 11:45 the boat was ready for us to board. When they called for the Latitudes members, a huge line formed. This was over half of the people waiting to board. The only negative was the pictures taking was hold up the line (so to find out, this happens every time you get off the boat). Once on board, we were ushered to the feeding "Trough" ...I joke about the Trough but to be honest we loved the buffet style food (lines can be long at the start of the line -- salad bar, you can skip to section 2 "hot Indian, Chinese, pizza" or 3 "deli" but section 3 was only open for lunch). Our state rooms were ready before 2. The luggage was delivered to the room for us by 3:30, except the duffel bag with soda, water and snacks. (More about that later) Room: Our room was a midship interior, with rooms about us, and rooms below us. So there was very little noise. We book the Dawn, knowing that it went in for refurbishment, out friends were on it when the motor mishap happened last February 2011. The room is smaller than most other ship and cruise lines, but we were not in it much except for sleeping, and cleaning up. The room was clean and had lots of closet space. We had our bed made up to a queen/king. The only pain was the table at the end of the bed, limited the space a little. (Note: when you book your rooms, look to see if your room has tendril and bunk, unless you have 3-4 people don't book one of those, more space to store under the bed) The Ship: The ship was set up nice, again not being on here before, didn't notice the changes (like the spinnaker lounge in aft, shops up bow). The ship was almost always clean; it seemed that the crew on this ship was pride in their work. I did make one big notice, as we were walking through buffet the second morning, one of the crew officers, who I know wasn't part of the kitchen/bar staff, was walking through, and cleaned off a table on his way to the front of the boat. This gave me the impression in my head "IT'S NOT YOUR JOB, IT'S NOT MY JOB, IT'S OUR JOB" On several occasions, I saw this occurring. I was impressed how they worked together. Food: Having not been on a cruise before, and reading some of the reviews. Food subjective, depending on the age of your crowd, we depend on the meals that are served. We ate at the garden buffet almost every day. Why? We could try things that we never might have ordered before. The deli and Panini station was great, the Indian (south) Vegetarian dishes are great; the pizza to me was so-so. The cheese cakes in the buffet were more like pudding with toms of gelatin added (good cheese cake in Venetian -- at lunch last day at sea, and Aqua -- ate there last night for dinner) We also created a stir, we could get the pound cake/butter cake between 4-4:30, take it to the ice cream shop (only open till 5) and have the bar drizzle chocolate syrup over it. The key to beat the crowds is not to eat during the prime times. We ate breakfast about 6:45 - 7 am, lunch around 11 and dinner around 4-5 for dinner. We ate maybe a little smaller meals, but buffet was open most nights till 11pm (late night had wings, spring rolls, pizza) and blue lagoon 24x7. (I tried the wings, I was not impressed, and there are places that have wing night ever of the week). We did eat at Cagney's steak house. The filets were pretty good, we each had 10oz and girlfriend shocked the waiter and wanted a second 5 oz. Cheese cake was great. Service: I have to say, every staff member I spoke to was happy and smiling. They always said "hello". I'll tell you something I found worked great, Take note of their name. When you address them by their name, the smile gets bigger. When I would see them every time there after, they made a point to say "good morning or good afternoon" I want to give a shout out to some of the great staff I encountered: Garry B. bar waiter in the Gatsby lounge ( made sure I had great drinks every night -- knew my name and order after 1 day ( went every night for at least 1 drink), Room steward - I Made Yasa deck 9 mid ship portside (sounds like MAR-DAY) - very friendly, took care of ever need, ice twice a day in the room. He always had a smile and address everyday always asked how our day was and what we did. We tried to make towel animals for him (we were failing) He made towels a based on what we said we had done for the day (monkeys- based on ST KITTS, not missing snow at home-made the iceman). Cosmin from the gift shop went looking for a sweatshirt in storage for a particular size. Hugo -- cook in the morning made me the best omelets. I know I'm missing some people, but these people made a huge impression on our stay. Entertainment: First of all, I was able to get a little closer to the entertainers, since most came down to the Gatsby lounge. I got a chance to hear great stories from Dave Heenan (about New York clubs and Jay Leno), I was hypnotized when the impersonator (Greg London) and hypnotist (Tim Triplett) walked into the bar (had a blast), and the Great evening pianist Jay "Jaybird" Chalmers. We went to just about all the shows. Dave Heenan the comedian, he was funny, but he was having some trouble with the older crowd. We will be going to see him when he comes to Cleveland in May. The illusionist, since the ship had power issue back stage, he did his card trick which was projected on the BIG screen above the stage. This was GREAT, no matter how hard you watched you could not follow quick enough to see how it was done. The Hypnotist, I had a one on one the night before and volunteered during the first show. I was the shoe stealer. I also went to the late adult show (volunteered again) and gave birth to twins. Make sure you see his seminars he offers and hypnosis. I had a blast every night with Jay Chalmers in the Gatsby; he played some great music and took lots of request from the crowd. He played the piano, key board, bass peddles and drum machine. He was great and was his first cruise ship gig since river boats about 10 years ago. (He's got a lot of talent, lot of talent). We went to the crew show; make sure you don't miss this show and the fountain. The house band with Sam on bass and wife and singer Margi were great, and very friendly with guest. Funny story: We got a note to come down and retrieve our bag. Well, I went to stand in the line for "the naughty room". Seems as though they thought I had stashed beer (coke cola) and put Vodka in my water bottles (they took a few to shake and watch for bubbles). Since I had nothing, they seem mad they didn't catch me with anything (because I didn't try to sneak anything). I have no problems with it. So people are mad they took booze (stored to retrieve later) or had to pay a cork fee for a $5 bottle of wine. BUT EVERYTHING on ALL sites say NO BOOZE, most cruises are like that. (Failure of people to read was a major issue of this cruise) Disappointments: The only thing was the pool is small and limited amount of hot tubs. A few important jobs were filled with people that didn't speak or understand English well (hostess to book paid restaurant reservations, and front desk people at least 3 of them), and the ART AUCTION people seem to be a little full of themselves, annoying, and not very friendly unless you were bidding or buying. Tips: come prepared to have a goodtime, be friendly and tell everyone, guest and staff, "good morning or good afternoon". Shop before you get on the boat for water and soda. If you need cash money-take advancement in a charge to your boat account in the casino. The fee was $3 per $100. Cheaper then ATM on islands and boat ATM. would have cost me $10 between my bank and machine in fees. Takes the stairs often, our cruise was an average age of 68 (lots in their 70's, 80's and 90's) so the elevator wait can be long. Being our first cruise, we had nothing to compare to. I know cabins and ships all very cruise line to cruise line. We loved NCL because it fits our style, and the structure we are trying to get away from when we go on vacation. The more demanding you are, the more disappointed you will be. There were a lot of people on their 8-14th cruise with NCL, there is a reason why. We are booking a trip for Jan/Feb. 2013. Let loose and go with the flow. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
To celebrate my 60th birthday my husband & I decided to do our 1st ever cruise. We wanted to do something exciting & that none of our friends in Australia had done before so after a lot of research we opted for a Norwegian Cruise ... Read More
To celebrate my 60th birthday my husband & I decided to do our 1st ever cruise. We wanted to do something exciting & that none of our friends in Australia had done before so after a lot of research we opted for a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Southern Caribbean cruise which included the ports of Samana, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados & St Kitts.(the last 3 ports were the ones that we wanted to see the most) We asked another couple to join us on this incredible journey & booked 2 staterooms on the Norwegian Dawn's cruise from Miami 11th Feb 2011 to 20th Feb 2011.This cruise was booked in Feb 2010 as we didnt want to miss out on this amazing adventure. We were so excited when booking the Dawn but that was to be squashed a number of times throughout the cruise. The 1st disappointment was the day we boarded 11th Feb 2011 as the ship was over two & a half hours late leaving Miami ( of well we must have got the time wrong).After we had been sailing for approx. 2 hours the captain announced over the PA system that there was an engine problem & that we were going to miss our 1st port of call Samana Dominican Republic & spending a second day cruising to Tortola. He advised that there were technicians on board trying to fix the problem & that he expected that they would resolve it asap & to compensate everyone for the inconvenience each stateroom would be credited $100 to their on board account. We were all upset with missing Samana as we had booked a tour to swim with Sea Lions. As there was nothing we could do about it we consoled ourselves with the thought that we still had 4 ports to look forward to. On Monday 14th Feb we arrived at Tortola - Great!! , but when we were disembarking there was an overwhelming stench emitting from the corridors of Deck 5. It smelt as if 1000 soiled baby nappies(diapers) had been changed at once, obviously there was a problem with the sewerage system as well as the engine. After we reboarded & were cruising again the captain announced that the problematic engine had been fixed & we would continue with the original itinerary - what a relief!! On Tuesday 15th Feb we arrived at Antigua eagerly anticipating our swim with the Stringrays. This was an awesome experience BUT once again our day was shattered. As we were having our evening meal the captain announced that the problem engine had broken down again so therefore we would not be going to Barbados or St Kitts instead we would be going to St Maartens & St Thomas. Whoopie, if we had wanted to go to these ports we would have booked another cruise which included these. When this announcement was made at approx. 9pm the captain also advised the the Shore Excursion staff were trying to contact tour operators at these ports so that passengers would have something available to do. We had organised to meet friends in Barbados so once again we had been let down by NCL. This time each stateroom was only credited $50 per port missed. Wednesday 16th Feb after having breakfast we went down to the tour desk for information about available tours of St Maartens. We were surprised that most of the tours had already gone between 8am & 9am. The only one available was the Beach Bash so we opted for that. Thursday 17th Feb whilst having breakfast the captain advised that there was good news, the problematic engine had been fixed so therefore instead of leaving St Thomas at 2pm we would now leave at 5pm. Yipee - it still wasnt one of the ports that was from the original itinerary. After all these disappointments we couldnt imagine anything else happening but we were WRONG. Two nights out from our return to Miami there was a "Code Bravo" announcement. The captain advised that there was a fire on Deck 4 & they were hoping to have it under control shortly. Even though this code bravo was declared we were not evacuated from our stateroom on Deck 5. I would have thought that safety of the ship's passengers would have been paramount in this situation. It seems that to change the itinerary was to do with passenger safety(as advised by the captain on a has number of occasions) but a fire didnt warrant an evacuation. Go figure?? As well as all the above I would like to advise that one of the elevators in the Grand Atrium was out of service for the entire cruise. A second elevator wasnt working on the morning of disembarking at Miami. On top of all this there were a number of ladies restrooms where the toilets were out of order especially on the pool level. The ceilings were also leaking on a number of levels. By far the biggest indignation of the cruise had to be when we received a letter from the captain 2 nights before disembarking. Quote:- "First, we want to clarify that engine repair we encountered during this cruise was not related to any past itinerary modification. On Friday, February 11,2011, as soon as we were aware that the current itinerary would need to be modified, I made an announcement prior to our departure regarding the situation and informed you of the change of itinerary, cancelling Samana, Dominican Republic. At that time, we extended the option to all guests to cancel and disembark the ship should they chose to do so." THIS IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE AS THERE WAS NO SUCH ANNOUNCEMENT AS AN OPTION TO CANCEL THE CRUISE. In summary NCL & Norwegian Dawn only delivered 40% on the cruise that was booked & paid for. To be offered a 10% discount off a future cruise is insulting & disdainful as the travel expenses from Australia would outweigh any discount offered. I realise that an itinerary may need changes due to bad weather or something else beyond NCL's control but it is NOT ACCEPTABLE to have it changed due to ongoing engine problems that has plagued the Norwegian Dawn & that NCL were aware of. As 60% on the original ports were either cancelled or changed a refund cheque for this amount should be forthcoming. Finally this will be the 1st & last cruise taken with NCL & of course there will not be any recommendation to family, friends or associates expect to stay away from NCL Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
The boarding procedures in Miami were extremely well organised. Within the hour we were on board. And even though the rooms were not ready yet, we could walk around the ship and enjoy the lunch buffet on deck 12. It was amazing as we think ... Read More
The boarding procedures in Miami were extremely well organised. Within the hour we were on board. And even though the rooms were not ready yet, we could walk around the ship and enjoy the lunch buffet on deck 12. It was amazing as we think all of the food options are. The selection of food to choose from is endless and the quality is superb. The stateroom we were in was very good; small of course, but clean and efficiently organised. We had no problems stowing our stuff and getting around. The balcony is must have we think. Over the 9 days we visited all restaurants and all of them were extremely good. Very good service and friendly waiters. Entertainment is well organised as well. There is lots of stuff to do for almost every liking. The entertainment crew does its utmost best to involve guests in the activities. A few minor points then: The internet facilities are a waste of money. The speed is slow and they do not allow you to use the interesting capabilities like Skype although they 'forget' to mention that anywhere. So we ordered internet and after discovering Skype didn't work we had to go through the trouble of reversing our order. We found the photographers extremely annoying. If you and your partner enjoy a nice romantic dinner in a restaurant they come unannounced and try to make pictures of you. They don't ask, they just do. On top of that they hang them in an area where everyone can see them. There is apparently no sense of privacy. All in all however, an enjoyable experience we will definitely repeat someday. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Norwegian Dawn Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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