7 Norwegian Dawn Cruise Reviews for Holiday Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

After years of cruising the Caribbean, we've seen a lot of ports and islands. A cruise is all about experiencing something new. So it was great to visit four new ports on this cruise. And these islands did not disappoint. Some ... Read More
After years of cruising the Caribbean, we've seen a lot of ports and islands. A cruise is all about experiencing something new. So it was great to visit four new ports on this cruise. And these islands did not disappoint. Some people complained that the islands looked alike; but not to me! They were quite the mixture of volcanic and coral islands, of regimented and laid-back islands, of populous and lightly peopled islands. Kudos to NCL for putting together a great itinerary. And the price was excellent. Friends ask if I got a good deal on a cruise. Yes -- if I'm going, I got a good deal. This time, it cost about $47 per day per person for an ocean view cabin (including the on-board credits.) A cruise from a gulf coast city would be more convenient; but even paying for flights to Miami did not make this an expensive vacation. If I'm going to Miami, I'm also driving south the day before my cruise. We rented a car from Enterprise. Stopped in Florida City to visit a great fruit stand called Robert Is Here (it's on the road to Everglades NP); got some weird tasting fruit this time, but I would never find anything like it at my hometown supermarket. Drove further south to Key Largo, and had dinner at the Fish House restaurant; wonderful fresh Mahi Mahi. As it was already dark, we spent the night in an inexpensive road-side motel. The next day, Enterprise gave us a ride to the cruise port; and the rental charge for the car ($25) was less than the price of a taxi from the airport ($40). Got to the cruise port about 12:30. The line was already backed up way around the terminal building. But it moved fast. Here's some free advice to those people who complain how slow it all is -- fill out your documents on-line (yes, duh). How strange it is to see people arguing with the gate agents when they should have already known what to expect. Anyway, we were on the ship by 1:30 but the rooms were not ready. So we went to the Venetian Restaurant for a leisurely (and tasty!) lunch. By the time we finished eating, the rooms were done, so we dropped off our carry-on luggage and went in search of an umbrella drink. First sea day, attended the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. What a great bunch of folks! Of course, I felt like we were already friends after talking with them on the CC Roll Call board and on the FaceBook group that somebody started. Once you book this cruise, get on the Roll Call and make some friends. I saw most of these CC & FB folks many times during the cruise, and it was great to skip the meeting rituals. FOOD SERVICE Wish I could remember every meal, because most of them were great. We almost always ate in the Venetian Restaurant. Never ate at a pay-extra restaurant. Went to the cafeteria for lunch a couple of times. Food everywhere was consistently good, though the selection left something to be desired. The Venetian was sometimes very slow for dinner -- we had a half hour wait in the bar several times. Each dinner included a mystery entrée - it was supposed to be representative of food on the island which we were to visit the next day. The fish dishes were good, though definitely not as good as fresh fish. Only one day was I badly disappointed; we must have been going to the home port of Mrs. Paul, because we were served fish sticks. Yuck. However, this was my fifth cruise on NCL, and it was the first one where the desserts were mostly good; but really, NCL -- lose the recipes that involve gelatin. Food service was excellent. The wait staff was always good, especially the younger waitresses who spent the time to talk with us. NCL: if you are reading this, these waitresses are an asset; they reminded me of a couple of assistant waiters on the old and incredibly lamented SS Norway. I appreciate efficient service, but friendly service is even better. One complaint -- the people who seated us were unable to arrange shared tables (we like talking to people we have just met). One time we were paraded twice from front to back of the dining room while the host looked for a table. But we discovered that if we ate breakfast as soon as the restaurant opened, we would almost always be seated at a table next to people who arrived there at the same time we did. One breakfast treat that I am happy to have stumbled across. On the Tortola day, the Venetian opened early. We sat at the back, near the huge windows. The captain took the ship on a winding excursion between islands. Breathtaking! Thanks to the Venetian staff who tried to keep the place a little more upscale for dinner. If you want to wear shorts and a tee shirt, there are other options. Please don't try to browbeat the manager into making an exception for you. I felt really bad for a young man when his father claimed he was twelve (twelve and younger kids are allowed to wear shorts). The manager looked up his picture and told the father that the kid was fourteen. The poor teenager -- he was mortified by his father's lie. Best dinner of the cruise was Christmas Eve. Finally -- a good selection of appetizers and entrées. Rating for food service -- four out of five stars. PORTS I recommend the review of the NCL Dawn posted by Sea Dawg (November, 2011). If you are on a budget, or just like the bragging rights on saving money, check it out. Personally, I'd rather have a great tour than the absolute cheapest price. If you've got one thing on an island that you want to do, the public bus may be your best bet. Regardless, the Dawg is a great resource on what you should have to pay. I printed out his review and read it each day that we were stopping at a port. Samana. Tender port. Got a free tender ride to Cayo Levantado and hung out all day on the beach. NCL may start charging for this in the future. They really should treat this like a private island, and offer ship's lunch on the beach. Tortola. Decided at the last minute to take a ship's tour on a catamaran with a stop to snorkel and a beach break. Well worth the $70. People with more expensive snorkeling tours also went to Norman's island. Great beach with sting rays, large fish, diving pelicans, Boobie birds, and a bar right beside the water. St Martin. Been there, done that (many, many times). So we just walked to town and hung out by this bar that had dollar beers. Walked all over town looking for sunglasses. Local group was doing a living statues thing - it was oddly entertaining. And free. Antigua. Went shopping, looking for a musical instrument store; lots of rumors, but no instruments. There were many stores (not necessarily duty free). Finally gave up and joined a $30 ship's tour to a private beach with unlimited rum punch. Dominica. My favorite island. I had arranged a tour with Bumpiing Tours ($60, all day). There was a tender ride from the ship, which most people didn't know about, and which caused them (and us) to be late. We took a six mile hike up and down steep hills, through the rain forest -- rained the whole time, thankfully -- to a spectacular waterfall. Then drove to a narrow canyon for a swim to a waterfall in a cave, and got to jump off the waterfall and float back downstream. And then drove to a hot spring which was way too hot for my tastes. And finally went swimming on champagne reef. I am still worn out from this tour. If you are fit, do this one! Nothing better in the Caribbean. Barbados. Way over-populated island with lots of rich people and ostentatious houses. Still, driving tour was inexpensive. We had several children on the bus, and they wanted to see the monkeys. I paid the fee, just so I wouldn't be sitting around waiting for them. And surprise, the monkeys were great. They are free to roam, and visit the facility for food. They run between your feet and chatter from trees right beside your ear. Fun! The rest of the tour was not so much fun. Yams and sugar cane only go so far. Still, if you are impressed with homes of the rich and famous, your driver will be more than happy to show you each and every mansion on Barbados. St Kitts. We wanted to go to the beach, but the water looked a little rough. So we prowled through town and finally joined a $15 tour around the island in an open-air safari truck. Our driver must have watched too many Steve McQueen movies -- he careened down narrow paths on two wheels, narrowly missing people, animals and other vehicles; my wife left finger indentations by tightly gripping the roll bar. But this tour took us to good stuff - a beach with lava formations and an old mansion with a great botanical garden. We even went to a beach lined with little bars. And we arrived back at the ship in one piece. My wife gives this tour a white-knuckled, thumbs up. Rating for islands -- five out of five. THE SHIP Cabins. We had an ocean view cabin with a picture window. Very cramped, but it did have adequate closet space and dresser drawers. Hard to get into bed without crawling (no way was there room for a third passenger). Shower was adequate, sink and counter okay, toilet stall was miniscule. NCL put a sliding door between toilet and counter; I had to squeeze through the opening. No room to shut the door; but why would you want to shut a transparent glass door? We try to walk up stairs instead of riding the slow elevators (except for the day after our Dominica tour), and let me tell you it is a looong way from deck five to the swimming pool on thirteen. Public facilities. Always crowded. I guess nobody wanted to stay in their cabins. Somewhere I read that the room with best view on the ship had been converted to cabins; I would have liked to have hung out in some place like that. Pools were also very crowded. Why only one adult pool on a ship of this size? Mistake! Nice kid's pool, except the kids all went to the main pool. Hot tubs always crowded. No reason to put up signs saying "six person maximum" or "adults only" when the kids can't read English. Ship music. Lots of piano players and singers. But for some reason, most were finished by 9:00. I would have liked some music late at night (guess that NCL thinks this would detract from the casino.) Most of the singers were not bad, but one evening of listening was plenty. Dawn Show Band is excellent; even if you don't like jazz bands, you can appreciate their musicianship. Pool band New Seasons was way too good to keep by the pool, and in fact they played in indoor venues at night; their reggae is great, but C&W music is not their thing; they did a couple of instrumental sets, and these were excellent. Lobby singers Lucky Duo were pretty good; but female half of duo quite obviously likes some songs better than others -- she really sells some music and kind of frowns her way through others. Comedian on board was really an excellent singer -- I wish he had done more songs and less humor; he was probably a good comedian for old people from New York and Boston, but by the time this Midwesterner had translated his accent, the joke was past and the comedian was complaining that nobody was laughing. Ship entertainment. The singing and dancing shows were excellent. By all means, don't miss the production called Bollywood. Magician was impressive but even his spectacular magic (making a helicopter appear on stage) was not real impressive; I don't know why this was. Hypnotist tried to bore the audience to sleep (I guess this is part of the technique, but surely there's some way to make the first half hour a little more entertaining.) Boy band from Branson was energetic, but relied more on audio effects than on their own singing; at one point they asked the audience to stand up, so I stood up and walked out. British singer/pianist lady is a very accomplished musician, but needs a few more cruises to learn how to entertain an audience. A male singer and impressionist was quite good at singing, though his impressions were not always spot-on; still his songs were very well done and were quite a lot of fun to listen to. Second City troop was outstanding -- especially their late night show; I would go see them every night if they would perform that often. Casino. I didn't gamble, but did walk through a couple of times. The place was like a morgue. Nobody smiling, nobody winning. People on the ship did not brag about winning big. Even the bingo and ship lottery had no winners. Weird. Rating for the ship -- three stars out of five. IN GENERAL. Best thing -- food workers; it is amazing that restaurant staff will work so hard without reward from their customers, I credit the workers themselves and the supervisory staff. Poorest thing -- NCL management. It seems they take every opportunity to make a buck. So many extra charges. Other cruise lines take opportunities to build customer loyalty by offering some things gratis. Well, the ice cream bar was free, but a pizza oven in the buffet restaurant would have added to the friendliness of the ship. Confusion -- hotel management. One day, our cabin steward ran out of beach towels. Since we were going to a beach the next day, we called housekeeping. Somebody came and brought us a towel. Then somebody else brought us a complete set of bathroom towels. Then the steward stopped by the next day to apologize. We were not upset, the first guy with a beach towel fixed the problem. The Norwegian Dawn needs to communicate better with itself. Confusion -- restaurant management. I'm irritated that it was so difficult to share a table with somebody else. We volunteered to do so at every opportunity, to no avail. Other ships, even other NCL ships do it better. A couple of years ago on the Norwegian Sun, the host each time asked it we were willing to share a table, and always found us a table to share with another English speaking couple. Free style? They must mean expensive style, since the cost of most of the restaurants is in addition to the cost of the cruise. Free would be if you could just sit down in a restaurant, at the time you previously agreed on, without paying anything extra. Just about everybody I spoke to likes the so-called free style, so maybe I'm different than the main stream cruiser. Other lines do it better by offering both assigned seating and the option for other restaurants. Bad-on-ya, Norwegian Dawn, for not taking reservations at the main dining rooms and for making us wait so long for a table. Most unusual thing - pub crawl. We got 5+ drinks for $25, played dumb drinking games, and went around the ship acting drunk and trying to annoy our fellow passengers. Kind of fun. I felt like a twenty-something. Overall rating -- four stars out of five. This cruise was better than I had expected. Wouldn't take much for me to give the ship a much better score. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We have had several cruises with other lines, but this was our first with Norwegian cruise line (NCL). If you have never cruised before, you will think that this is a perfectly respectable cruise line, a perfectly respectable ship with ... Read More
We have had several cruises with other lines, but this was our first with Norwegian cruise line (NCL). If you have never cruised before, you will think that this is a perfectly respectable cruise line, a perfectly respectable ship with perfectly respectable food and service. But if you have cruised with other - even non luxury - lines, such as Celebrity, you immediately notice the differences and those differences start bugging you after a while. In our opinion, the biggest draw of NCL - the so-called freestyle cruising that allows you to eat your dinner at any time - is their biggest mistake, their Achilles's Heel. in most other lines, you are given a time to come to dinner and you have a fixed set of servers, who get to know you and cater their service according to your taste. At NCL, you go whenever you want and therefore sit at wherever is available. Hence, a different server every night. Since the servers are not going to serve you again, and since the gratuities are fixed and billed to your stateroom, they have no incentive to go the extra mile, and guess what? they don't! To make matters worse, we were told that starting soon, NCL will not allow you to contest the gratuity, and it will be charged to your account no matter what. If that happens, then there will be no decent service. Food: Completely uninspiring. Your standard American fare. If you want anything ethnic, you need to go to their specialty restaurants and pay extra - on top of what you have already paid! On celebrity, for example, there is a sushi bar where you can eat to your heart's content (and good sushi, too!). On NCL, you have to pay extra for the sushi... or the Chinese...or even the Italian for heaven's sake. Yes, you read that right, you have to pay for pasta! How about some more creative cuisines, such as Thai, Turkish / Greek / Mediterranean ...? Fuggetabautit! Ship: Dawn is an old ship, as far as cruise ships are concerned. It has been refurbished in 2006, but still shows it age. In our cabin, the shower control dials were broken, and there was mold in the shower tank. Rooms are small, which are to be expected, but not as well designed. While the room size is probably similar to those of other lines of the same category, it feels like the room is smaller. The ship also has relatively fewer amenities. No rock climbing wall, no second pool, no mini golf or similar other activities. Cruise Director: The Dawn has the worst cruise director we have ever seen in a ship. The guy tried too hard to make jokes, all of which were bad. Staff: The most non-diverse staff of any line we have seen so far. In general, you will see a very rich diversity of nationalities among the staff. It seemed like 80% of Dawn's staff are from Philippines. Few were excellent in all respects, but some could not even speak proper English. Itinerary: This was the biggest draw for us. The ship called in Samana, Tortola, St. Martin, Antigua, Barbados and St. Kitts in a 10 day cruise. With the exception of Samana - which has great potential to be an excellent port, perhaps in 10 years - all ports offered excellent beaches, history, vistas and shopping. Entertainment: Their main stage shows were - with the exception of one comedian - were surprisingly good. However, a couple of them were guest shows and may not be on the Dawn the next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Departed Miami for Southern Caribbean on 25/12/2011,returned 4/1/2012,had a great time.For value for money,my wife and I thought that the Norwegian Dawn couldn't be faulted.I won't bore everybody with every detail,so I've ... Read More
Departed Miami for Southern Caribbean on 25/12/2011,returned 4/1/2012,had a great time.For value for money,my wife and I thought that the Norwegian Dawn couldn't be faulted.I won't bore everybody with every detail,so I've condensed the good points and the very few minuses below. GOOD The restaurants aboard the boat were great!For breakfast,you could have a different breakfast every morning out of the ten if you wanted to,there was a great selection to select from. I cannot comment about lunches (I was always so full from breakfast to partake!),so we never had one. The dinners at night were of a pretty high quality,even those in the regular Venetian restaurant where no supplement was required.Yes,occasionally at peak times there may have been a 10-15 minute wait,but there were plenty of very reasonably priced bars nearby to relax with a pre-dinner drink as you waited for the pager to bleep to tell you that your table was ready. We only tried the Brazilian restaurant from the speciality ones,seemed pointless paying out extra when the regular food was so good,but it was great nontheless!The chef kept on bringing out an array of beautifully cooked meat until we almost had to beg him to stop doing so,we were soooo full! The selection of destinations was great,a diverse choice,every one was different (Dom Rep,Tortola,St Maarten,Antigua,Barbados,St Kitts).Apart from a light early shower in both Dom Rep and Barbados,the weather was great!The variety of shore excursions couldn't be faulted too,there was something for everyone,and reasonably priced too (mind,the rate of the £ against the $ is great for us at the moment which was great for us). The boat itself was very good.The cabin (we were on floor 10 with a balcony) was always kept clean,and if we requested anything extra,coffee/milk etc,it was always there straight away.The cabin staff were very friendly and helpful,well worth their end of cruise tip!The boat was well maintained too,as far as we found,everything was clean and in working order. The staff,EVERYWHERE,we found were great! VERY friendly and helpful,the vast majority were from the Philippines,but there were staff from around the globe,the male members knew as much about English soccer as myself(though we didn't share the same teams!),we built up a good rapport with some of them.I couldn't fault a single one of them in any way apart from the blonde girl on the Shore Excursions desk,whils't she wasn't rude,she,lets say,wouldn't do anything more for you than the minimum she had to. Overall though,it was great! NOT SO GOOD The evening entertainment was poor.The timing of the shows,7pm and 9pm are too early,people are still having their dinners then,8pm and 10pm would be much better. There should be more signs erected to stop people walking around the jogging track,when I say walking,I mean as in carrying towels and wearing flip-flops,clearly not exercising.It can be frustrating as a jogger having to constantly stop/start/stop/start.... I was surprised how guests,mainly American,were allowed to take drinks into the jacuzzi.It wouldn't be a problem if the vessel they were in was of plastic,but they were in pint glasses.Had one smashed,the consequences are self explanatory. Our biggest gripe,BY FAR,through no fault of the boat nor NCL,was the number of greedy "anything for nothing" Americans in the restaurants.The amount of food they piled onto their plates,and didn't even touch,was shameful and disgraceful.The worst occasion was when I saw one woman pick up TWELVE slices of cake (6 banana and six brownies).All bar two banana cakes went straight into the bin untouched.It's not fair on other cruisers who wanted that cake,only to find the platter bare when they went up for some.Some Americans went from one free restaurant to another at will,consuming 10% of their food,if that,then leaving the rest,before descending on another place,then another eaterie,doing likewise.NCL ought to appoint persons in an official capacity to prevent this.This isn't myself having an anti-American rant,but the fact was that it was just the Americans doing this.Why can't they just have what they NEED instead of taking what they CAN unchecked??I'm know it's a cultural thing,but on an international,cosmopolitan holiday,it's known as bad manners. SUMMARY To those thinking about cruising,this cruise takes some beating for what you'll spend.Yes,I'm sure there will be better cruises out there,but,you'll certainly need deeper pockets or a heavier wallet to beat this one.Go for it!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My husband and I sailed on the Dawn from 12/17 to 12/26/2010. This was our second Christmas cruise - both of which have been on NCL ships. We loved it so much, we've already booked next Christmas on the Pearl - and are bringing family ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Dawn from 12/17 to 12/26/2010. This was our second Christmas cruise - both of which have been on NCL ships. We loved it so much, we've already booked next Christmas on the Pearl - and are bringing family along. We met a group of people on our Cruise Critic board before the cruise. We had a great time with them from the Meet & Greet until we were together on the last night as a team for The Quest! It really added a layer of fun to the cruise. The crew of this ship stood out for us - top to bottom. Captain Sverre Sovdsnes - aka "Captain Smashing" - gave a little introductory speech for each port first thing in the morning. We would find ourselves scrambling to find the TV's remote so we could hear his speech! He always made us laugh - especially since he ended each speech with "Have a Smashing day!". Then entire senior staff of this crew was very visible. Not a night went by when we did not see at least one, sometimes two, of the crew in the dining rooms making sure everyone was having a good time. Daniel, the Cruise Director, is new to his position, but he's excellent at his job! The Second City crew took great delight in making fun of his obvious youth. (If anyone finds a lost Pokemon, please return it to Daniel!) Our team managed to make him blush during The Quest. It was a lot of fun, and Daniel was a great MC for all the game-shows. Our room stewards, Joeffry and Bernard (Deck 10 Aft, port side) were amazing! They took care of all our requests promptly, and they were always smiling and laughing. Such a difference to the ones we had last year on the Spirit, who I'm not sure I even met. In the Spinnaker Lounge, we met a Jr. Bar Server, Jessie. She made sure we always found each other if we arrived separately. Jessie knew our favorite drinks, and she made some great suggestions, too. Also, we ran into Jessie on the pier helping organize shore excursions. She was in training to switch positions. Jessie helped us out in both areas. She's very good at her job - and incredibly sweet! We met another Bar Server, Christina, in Gatsby's Lounge, who was also very good at what she does. Christina made sure we found a table, had munchies, and always remembered our favorite drinks. She made us feel very much at home while we listened to Greg Lupton play the piano. Greg is lots of fun and a gifted musician. We enjoyed meeting him - and sharing a late-night snack with him in the Blue Lagoon. He's very approachable and a lot of laughs. Dave Heenan was the featured comedian. His "adults only" show was hilarious! Wow. Had to buy his DVD! All the shows were fantastic, but the Holiday Show was even better! The crew is very talented! We hope the crew on the Pearl is as friendly and out-going as the crew on the Dawn! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This is only my second cruise but I was disappointed with the Dawn. I cruised before on the Costa Atlantica, last Thanksgiving, and my same friend and I were busy, busy all the time with fun activities. The list of activities on the Dawn ... Read More
This is only my second cruise but I was disappointed with the Dawn. I cruised before on the Costa Atlantica, last Thanksgiving, and my same friend and I were busy, busy all the time with fun activities. The list of activities on the Dawn left a lot to be desired. I feel like if you were the type of person who did not want to do physical activities but would rather sit and listen to lectures, then you would be very happy with the Dawn. This cruise was definitely geared more for people who, perhaps, were older, or at least who did not like physical activity. The ship's auditorium is in desperate need of renovation. All of the chairs lean down and by the end of the show, you felt as if you were going to slide out. We were constantly pushing ourselves back into our seats. Also, the space between your seat and the seat in front of you made the space on airplanes look like a lounge chair. I could not sit in my seat without hitting my knees on the back of the chair in front of me. I am 5'11, and there was only one row of seats that had enough room that we could sit comfortably. The staff was excellent. The ship was clean. The food was good. I got my money's worth. But, when I got off of the Dawn, I was glad to be going home. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Well to start this review off, it is not going to be a bad review,but a critical one. We knew before we left that the ship was down 1 engine and that we would be arriving in the different ports a few minutes late each day. We did not have ... Read More
Well to start this review off, it is not going to be a bad review,but a critical one. We knew before we left that the ship was down 1 engine and that we would be arriving in the different ports a few minutes late each day. We did not have a problem with that at all and the excursion companies we worked with were very understanding.But what my wife and I found out later was that,I had been talking with a crew member on the first day and he informed me that the ship was down an engine. I told him I was aware of that and he informed me that we were sailing without the stabilizers out. I didn't realize this could be done. He told me that the Officers get a bonus on fuel conservation and that running with the stabilizers out saves on fuel. This would explain the excessive swaying of the ship. Excessive swaying is an understatement...the ship store sold out of Bonine the first day. I have been on several cruises and this by FAR was the roughest one yet. The captain told us that it was due to a weather front in the area,possibly so-I'm not a weather man. But the captains log on the cabin TV stated that the highest seas we had were 4-7.5 ft. swells and a moderate wind. I can say this much that I have been in rougher water before, and the ship never moved as much as this one. It was terrible !!! Now, on the other hand, my wife was talking to someone and she was informed that the reason was basically the same except that the reason for them running without the stabilizers out was that it put less strain on the remaining 3 engines...either way..a LOT of people were very sick. This did not leave a good impression on a lot of first time cruisers that we talked with. If this would of been my first cruise, I would never do another one. It's a good thing that My wife,daughter & I know, that it is usually not like this. As far as the free style cruising, I can take it or leave it. It depends on the person. If you prefer the personal touch, then free style might not be for you. If you are really into the excursions and not picky about what time you have dinner, then you will probably like free style. But to sum it all up we had a wonderful time met a whole lot of new friends and have already put a deposit down on another cruise with NCL. The food on this ship was not the best we have had but it wasn't the worst either. I did have a problem paying extra for the various speciality restaurants,French,Tex-Mex,Asian,Steak etc. They ranged in price from $10.00 to $25.00 pp extra. We payed extra for the Tex-Mex which was pretty good, and also payed extra for the Sushi/Asian, which was $15.00. The Sushi was AWESOME.The food on the buffet was tolerable and the Blue lagoon was pretty good. Especially the cheese cake late at night after the shows. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow again! We got home last night. I'm convinced cruising is THEE way to travel. MUCH preferable to flying hours into a single destination, spending a few days then flying hours back home. I read many of the ... Read More
Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow again! We got home last night. I'm convinced cruising is THEE way to travel. MUCH preferable to flying hours into a single destination, spending a few days then flying hours back home. I read many of the negative reviews and some of the positive reviews before we left and again after we returned last night. The specifics are well explored on this website, so I'll just comment on our impressions. Dining: For "budget cruisers", for free meals (i.e. included in your cruise price) you have your choice of a fun diner (Blue Lagoon), the main, double-sided buffet-style dining hall with floor to ceiling windows (Garden Cafe) and The (beautiful, elegant) Venetian for those times you want a more formal dining experience. We thought the food in each was delicious, hot and varied. The NCL-Dawn also has 4-5 "prix-fixed" restaurants...you pay $10 to $25 per person (depending upon the restaurant) and choose anything you want from the 4-6 course menu. Half the menu doesn't change and the other half changes daily. We tried Cagney's (steakhouse), Salsa (sort of Tex-Mex) and Le Bistro (French) and had delicious experiences in all three. We didn't "find" The Venetian until the last night on board, the ship is so big! Service: we didn't need to ask for much. Our room was made up and towels refreshed when we returned from breakfast. Our stateroom was freshened again while we were out for dinner and entertainment. Our coffee pot didn't work. Our steward exchanged it for another within 30 minutes of our calling for service. Another day we discovered our door had stopped locking upon closing it. We called for service, received concerned attention to it, and it was repaired by the time we returned from our excursion (shore trip). Everywhere we went on the ship, there is always someone there to bring a drink. Entertainment: was good. The entertainment IS, however, "white bread"...not very diverse except for those of Anglo, light-skinned Latin and Asian decent. There is one "watered-down" reggae band. I was surprised that not a single African-American singer, dancer, comedian was anywhere to be found. There were two on the Cruise Director's staff, but they weren't performers. Bingo Boy is silly. David Heenan, the comedian, was funny. The various singers were good. However I was most impressed with the production company of singers and dancers that did the nightly shows. The very hard-working dancer-singers were obviously ballet-trained. A different show each night. The Ballywood show was amazing considering the rocking ship could have caused an injury, yet the dancers were as acrobatic as I've seen on land. My hat is off to the Cruise Director, John. He's quite sharp and he runs a well-oiled operation, a testament to his 11 years with NCL. But he can certainly improve racial diversity amongst the entertainment. Dallas, Texas alone has world-class African American singers and dancers - they're out there...improve the recruitment process. Shore excursions: We preferred sight-seeing combined with historical information about the island. NCL offers many, many excursions in each port. But we found we could duplicate the excursions NCL offered for about 33% to 60% of the NCL price. At every port there are scores of taxi drivers that are sanctioned by the local tourist bureau just outside the Tourist Information desk area. In most cases the Tourist Info desk personnel will direct you to a specific taxi driver. The drivers have vans and some have cars. When the driver has a van, he or she will need to get at least 6-8 people to make the trip cost effective and you can pick which trip and the van you want to ride in. When the driver has a car, you get to make up your itinerary and he still narrates as you explore. We negotiated a price that covered the sights we wanted to take in, making it clear what time we wanted to return to the ship. You don't pay the driver until you get back to the ship. Though we could have done the same when we decided to enjoy the island train excursion on St Kitts, we chose to book through NCL for that one excursion. We have incredible video from our excursions on each island. Email me if you'd like our driver's cell numbers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
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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