209 Norwegian Dawn Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

We would definitely choose NCL again. The variety of ports was very good and the time in ports was just right (all day). The only drawback with leaving from Boston was the 3 days down and 3 days back with no sea days in between ports. ... Read More
We would definitely choose NCL again. The variety of ports was very good and the time in ports was just right (all day). The only drawback with leaving from Boston was the 3 days down and 3 days back with no sea days in between ports. Understandable given the distance and length of cruise so not a deal-breaker. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze both in Boston and at ports of call. We had friends in Boston who dropped us off and picked us up. It was not a difficult port to get to or through from that standpoint. Roughly 85% of the cruisers were from Boston and most had been on the Dawn many times. We were told it is the friendliest NCL ship of the line and our experience would confirm that. Guest services was very helpful, everyone acted like they were enjoying their jobs, the entertainment was very good and the food was excellent. We did four specialty restaurants on a dining package: Le Bistro, Cagney's Steak, Tappenyaki, Moderno. All were very good but I think we were most impressed with Moderno. Given the size limitations who would have expected a great Brazilian steakhouse on a ship? Not us! But it was just excellent. I also liked the fact that the food service staff was very sensitive to people with food allergies and could accommodate or make menu suggestions for my GF issue. I could always find something to eat and did not get sick at all. Overall, I would recommend NCL cruises and in particular the Norwegian Dawn. It's not a huge ship but definitely a good one! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I was interested in seeing the southern Caribbean, had done Western several times. I liked to cruise with NCL until this cruise, it had always been my favorite. Embarkation was a form of torture. Had I not booked hotel and transfer, ... Read More
I was interested in seeing the southern Caribbean, had done Western several times. I liked to cruise with NCL until this cruise, it had always been my favorite. Embarkation was a form of torture. Had I not booked hotel and transfer, it would have been fine, but with all the buses arriving together it took over an hour just to get in the building from the bus parking lot. The Dawn was reconditioned in 2016 and I think what they did was just put in more “specialty” restaurants that you have to pay for. The buffet was below average for any ship I’ve been on. Every night there was a lot of Indian food. Set up for the buffet was ridiculous, instead of going in a circle, each side ended, making it constantly crowded. O’Sheehan’s had the best food, it was great and the service was great. The entertainment was great. Lots of variety. The itinerary was just what I was looking for. Key West,Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire,Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman. Cabin service was good, pleasant employees. I would love to do this itinerary again on a different ship. I had issues with the booking and very disappointing response from customer service. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The rooms were fine and overall the ship was nice. This was my first NCL cruise and since I am in my 40s I figured I would be Ok with NCL, since the crazy young crowd isn't always my thing. (we didn't have children with us ... Read More
The rooms were fine and overall the ship was nice. This was my first NCL cruise and since I am in my 40s I figured I would be Ok with NCL, since the crazy young crowd isn't always my thing. (we didn't have children with us either) The travel agent encouraged us to try it and I can say I like Carnival much better. The staff was just so so, not as friendly or engaging. Food was SUB PAR in comparison to Carnival. Entertainment was weak. I prefer comedy clubs and some dancing, doesn't have to be a crazy party but I was honestly bored on my cruise aside from the ports of call and my departure city. I won't give NCL another try, just not worth it. I can say that my CABIN STEWARD was fantastic. Otherwise the staff were just lack luster to say the least. They allowed for children to hog hot tubs and areas that were supposed to be more adult as well. I am sorry, (not) but as an adult I paid more to be there than your kids did and in my opinion, the rules should be followed, otherwise why have them. On a plus side embarkation and disembarkation were seamless (the baggage handlers were great as well). Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
This was our 4th NCL cruise and 10th cruise total. We had an early time to check in at the port but then had to wait two hours to embark. I guess they are trying to stagger folks but I don't think we would have shown up that early had ... Read More
This was our 4th NCL cruise and 10th cruise total. We had an early time to check in at the port but then had to wait two hours to embark. I guess they are trying to stagger folks but I don't think we would have shown up that early had I know we wouldn't be able to get on for 2 hours. We got the Ultimate Beverage Package and certainly enjoyed it. We had an inside room this time. We are definitely used to having at least a balcony but the folks we were traveling with only wanted to pay for an inside and we wanted to stay close together. It was actually fairly large with quite a bit of storage and shelf space for being an inside room. The ship layout could be a little confusing but we eventually learned our way around. The entertainment was great! We loved all the shows and also the karaoke, bandaoke (we had never heard of that before), the White Hot party and Sailaway party. That was all a great time. The food was just okay. Our first night we went to Aqua and dinner took almost 3 hours (and we left before dessert so we could get seats for the show). We watched other tabes sit after us and leave before so I think it was just our table. We also never got refills of water. We had great experiences in both main dining rooms every night after that so I'm not sure what happened there. One thing that is disappointing is the lack of special dishes on their "formal" nights. Most other lines do something extra nice for entrees and desserts those nights but not NCL. Also I was under the impression that the Venetian was the more formal of the two and had a dress code but that was never enforced so even the dress up or not night had folks in their tshirts and shorts there. Our room steward was also disappointing. She was very friendly but when she would make up the room, it was done pretty haphazardly, there was only ice a couple of times, no pen or paper to write a note, and we are fairly certain that she rehung our wet dirty towels from the floor multiple times. They would even be folded on the rack and still wet. We only ever asked her for one thing, an egg crate because the bed was so hard. We never got it and I never asked again. Even our water glasses were left dirty multiple times. Also, at least 3 of the public women's rooms were overflowing water on the floor. I get it's an older ship and will have its problems, but three different restrooms for the entire cruise? Gross! The last reason I rated this cruise just "average" is because of all the cigarette smoke. They allowed smoking on the entire right side of the pool deck (which meant you were enveloped in a cloud if you just needed to walk through that side) but also the smoke smell carried well over to the other side of the pool. We couldn't even enjoy the hot tub. It was also allowed on the right side of deck 7 (the outdoor deck) which made it difficult to be out there if you just wanted to walk or if we were porting and you wanted to watch. Maybe smoke doesn't bother everyone but it gives me an instant headache when I smell it. So in summary, we thought the room was awesome as far as the size. The entertainment was great and the ports were great. The bars were always a good time too and had several yummy cocktails. The food was just okay, nothing special. Our cabin steward was a bit of a mess, and the allowed smoking was pretty crazy. Plus the women's public restrooms were gross. We would still probably go on another NCL cruise in the future but definitely not this ship. I also don't feel like I get much for being a Latitudes member so that doesn't really entice me much. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We like the freestyle cruising of Norwegian. There is no appointed place or time for a given room. The list of things to do is extensive on sea days and even enough to keep most busy even on port of call days. Activities include: ... Read More
We like the freestyle cruising of Norwegian. There is no appointed place or time for a given room. The list of things to do is extensive on sea days and even enough to keep most busy even on port of call days. Activities include: Fitness center, small library, Trivia, Sudoku, Ping Pong - Shuffleboard - Beanbag toss tournaments. Presentations on books and subjects, dance and card playing basic instruction. Entertainment included - comedians (yes more than one) - singing, shows, entertainment provided by the crew, game shows, sing alongs, piano playing, dancing Food - 7 specialty (for a price) Restaurants, 1 informal buffet, several grills, 2 -be served restaurants. We ate at them all (except the Sushi specialty restaurant). And of them the best was the non-specialty main dining room Restaurant (Aqua) on prime rib night. The meat was perfect as was the rest of the meal. Of the Specialty eateries - We liked them all - Japanese, French (escargots were excellent), Italian, Chinese, Steak House, Brazilian, It is hard to chose the best. BE AWARE - reservations are required at the Specialty Restaurants, if you do not plan in advance times can be a little odd. This seemed to bother some guests far more than others - it was fine with us. The Activities staff was wonderful as was all of the Restaurant Staff. Housekeeping was average. I went on one Shore Excursion - Advice - AVOID Palm Beach Reef Snorkeling on Bonaire in Kralendijk - the Reef is pretty dead (but is coming back slowly). Fitness center was quite nice. Generally we liked the ports of call. Nothing Specific to say about them though Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We just returned from our 12 day journey on the Dawn. We were a family of 5 traveling in two different rooms (my sister was the lucky duck with a gorgeous suite and we had a balcony). We had a wonderful time as usual. Most of the staff ... Read More
We just returned from our 12 day journey on the Dawn. We were a family of 5 traveling in two different rooms (my sister was the lucky duck with a gorgeous suite and we had a balcony). We had a wonderful time as usual. Most of the staff were awesome. One of the bar servers, Shem, was most amazing! After our first drink, he knew who we were by name. We were fortunate to spend a lot of time with him. He was from St. Lucia and he told us all about his country. My husband was reading a book on all of the different islands and Shem gave him a "homework" assignment to read about St. Lucia, which my husband happily did. Shem gave him a "quiz", which my husband passed with flying colors. Shem made us feel more like a friend than a guest and it was appreciated. The majority of the cruise director staff were great as well, with our favorites being Joey, Alvin and Franco. I know they get paid to make sure we have a great time, but it felt like they enjoyed what they were doing and enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed theirs. We tried to do as many activities as time and scheduling would allow and particularly liked the trivia with Franco. It was always a good time. We also went to karaoke quite a bit (I was actually tied for Karaoke Idol winner). I would say that although we had fun doing it, that activity seems to be more of something they have to do than something they want to do. I'd recommend they actually invest some money into it. There were quite a few of us there and it always felt like it was just a pain in the rear end for them and they didn't seem to enjoy it. There was no enthusiasm at all and most of the staff that did it, didn't know how to run the equipment. Bandeoke was also another activity that I think they would rather poke their eyes with hot sticks than do it. My two cents is that if you are going to offer the activity, don't treat it like it's a chore. The only real negative is regarding the lack of organization when we had to go through customs in St. Thomas. On paper, it looked great, but it was a mess! Those of us with excursions were supposed to have priority, but there were no staff members making sure that happened and so people without tickets for excursions lined up when they shouldn't have which meant people that followed the rules and waited until we were supposed to line up stood in long lines panicking that we weren't going to make our excursion. Having never done an excursion before, I didn't realize that they would wait for you and the staff didn't let us know that so I stood in a long line thinking I was going to miss my excursion (just a little anxiety there!). We did a lot of dining in the specialty restaurants and they were all great (especially Cagney's). I did notice that the buffet seemed to serve the same thing day after day and for a 12 day cruise, that can get a little boring. The shows that we saw were all good, especially the Oh What a Night tribute. We also did the Mystery Lunch with Second City and had a blast. We caught a couple of the game shows as well and thought they were great (especially Joey and the Jeopardy game show!) The casino was okay. Being someone who partakes in that "sin" quite often, I found their machines a little "tight". I also thought the bingo was a little expensive compared to what I'm used to paying for a whole night of bingo versus 45 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my 2nd time on Dawn & I wasn't that keen on it the 1st time but being with the Cruzin Cuzins & seeing all the places we did made me like it a lot. Maybe it grows on you. The group really made the cruise for me as a ... Read More
This was my 2nd time on Dawn & I wasn't that keen on it the 1st time but being with the Cruzin Cuzins & seeing all the places we did made me like it a lot. Maybe it grows on you. The group really made the cruise for me as a lot of them had cruised together before so they arranged a lot to do on the ship as well as got group hotel bookings for the pre & post cruise hotels, It was nice to be part of a group as I was cruising solo again! I arrived in Boston the night before the cruise & stayed at the Embassy Suites which was a great hotel with included breakfast & also snacks & a drink in the evening, both plentiful & yummy. It was a rainy cool day in Boston but I still accomplished my goal of eating at Wahlburgers by taking the commuter ferry over to Hingham. It would have been a lovely trip had I been able to see the sights! The hotel had a free shuttle that took you to the airport where you could access transportation to the downtown area. Went by the prearranged shuttle ($10) around 10:15 & was on the ship quite quickly since I had gold status. I went for lunch to Blue Lagoon & had 2 bowls of the tomato soup I had enjoyed last time as well as the strawberry pound cake. Went to sign up for internet, saw my cabin 4616 a porthole cabin by the medical centre so very quiet, then went on the ship's tour with Alvin. I had never seen so many people on a tour, there must have been 100 of us!! I went to pretty much all the shows which I enjoyed, only played Bingo once as it was expensive, used my last slot play coupon in the casino & did crafts with Shirley or Alvin quite often. The Cuzins got together on sea days to play LCR which was a lot of fun. We also had a cabin crawl/poker run with branded items given at most stops, did a slot pull, had a large M&M with gift exchange & a horse race which was exciting & profitable to some. We had a group photo taken by the stairs to remember the cruise I found the cruise staff to be great. The CD was good, the other activity people like Alvin & Shirley helpful & fun, my cabin steward Gusti very good & the internet guy, Murray was a gem. He helped me so much with my new smart phone & I phone when I had problems & was very patient & pleasant. Patti & Jose were great as before & managed to fill the theatre on the 2 occasions they performed there.The hypnotist was good too & did several shows.. I had not liked the theatre on Dawn last time but maybe it was because I was recovering from knee surgery & the seats were quite close together. This time I sat in more spacious seats in the balcony where one could set their drink on the floor since there's no table or cupholder available. I did trivias, watched a movie, cooking demos, games shows just generally kept busy having fun. I grabbed a popcorn most nights from Pearly Kings to eat while I watched tv. I must say the channel choices on NCL are poor, Carnival is so much better . I ate at Moderno, LeBistro (thanks Anita) & Bamboo pay restaurants & enjoyed them all. There was a mini buffet some mornings outside Moderno which was a nice option but overall I tried all the free places & never had a bad meal. I had been to all the ports on this repo cruise before except New Orleans but found something new to do at each place. Thinking back on this cruise, the nice people I met & the things I saw makes me very happy!.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
A great itinerary with a good mix of sea days and ports. This was our third cruise on the Dawn and we like it more each time. We thought the menu and quality of food has really improved since our last NCL cruise last November. At that time ... Read More
A great itinerary with a good mix of sea days and ports. This was our third cruise on the Dawn and we like it more each time. We thought the menu and quality of food has really improved since our last NCL cruise last November. At that time we did a back to back cruise on the Jewel out of New Orleans. We still enjoyed that, but the menu and entertainment was repetitious. That was not the case on the 14 day cruise. We ate in the MDR every night except two dinners in Le Bistro, and we enjoyed all of the meals. This year we have cruised on 3 different cruise lines, and by far, NCL has the best entertainment. Nothing like a live house band, especially when they are so good. As far as ports, we really love San Juan and that was one reason we went on this cruise. We mostly just go to beaches, and all of the ports had a great beach, so we were happy. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
If anyone is debating between Norwegian Cruise Line and another cruise line. I strongly suggest Norwegian. I have been on the Dawn, and am already planning a second. I have also been on a Royal Caribbean and Blue Cruise Turkey, so I have ... Read More
If anyone is debating between Norwegian Cruise Line and another cruise line. I strongly suggest Norwegian. I have been on the Dawn, and am already planning a second. I have also been on a Royal Caribbean and Blue Cruise Turkey, so I have a bit of experience with cruises. The reason I recommend Norwegian so strongly is because of the personal experience I received and how everyone on the cruise is extremely helpful. Even if they are on their break they will do everything to make your experience more enjoyable. They also encourage you to participate in the many activities on the ship, and include everyone in the parties on deck. Personally, the people who made my experience the best was on the Norwegian Dawn.Their names were Amplifly, Violet, Kitty Kat, Romeo, Caesar and Rondy, although I only knew them for 12 days, I would like to call them all my friends and wish them the best of luck, they deserve it. Even though I only had 12 days with them all, the experience they gave me was so welcoming and personal that I fell in love with the experience. Even the waiters made an advance to get to know you. The staff, food, service, and ship itself was amazing beyond belief. Although the ship is smaller, I don't see it as a down side. I would much rather get a personal experience on the boat, then have a bigger one. There is so much more that I could say about Norwegian Cruise Line but I think you understand that Norwegian is the most amazing cruise line I have been on and am proud to say that I am looking forward to another one in 2016. Once again, I strongly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We have just returned from our first cruise on Norwegian cruise lines (Norwegian Dawn). We have previously cruised on Carnival and Princess. We had heard so much and read so many reviews on Norwegian good ad bad about food and ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise on Norwegian cruise lines (Norwegian Dawn). We have previously cruised on Carnival and Princess. We had heard so much and read so many reviews on Norwegian good ad bad about food and entertainment we were skeptical but were willing to find out. Now that we have I can now report back. 1. Food (B+) We found contrary to some reviews the food was quite good,The Aqua and Venetian dining rooms were very good we did not ever have a bad meal at either venue. The menu feature a couple of changes every night atmosphere was nice and the servers were always on top of things it was especially nice to eat whenever you wanted and did not have to participate in Formal night if you did not wish to. The Garden Cafe was good for breakfast and lunches nice variety of food and very tasty. The Barbeques that they had outside the garden cafe was an extra bonus again very good. Did not try any specialty restaurants .2.Entertainment (B) Patti and Jose drew a big crowd every time they played, the band Great Ideas was out favorite very easy to listen and dance to. Shows at the Stardust theater were very entertaining and comedian Tim Kaminski was very funny getting people involved in his show a lot of laughs!! 3. Cabins (D) Only because we had an inside cabin which we did not mind because we did not spend a lot of time in them,but ours was right underneath La Cucina restaurant. Every night around 1-2am when they cleaned the galley it was like rolling thunder made may calls to the front desk about the noise mostly to no avail. 4)Ship layout (B) Very nice maybe not as glitzy as some we have been on but very nice non the less. Overall it was a very nice cruise and I would have no problem cruising with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We had not been on a 2 week cruise before so were a little anxious if we would enjoy it. We shouldn't have worried - it was brilliant, the entertainment was excellent, there was something for everyone, the entertainers came and went ... Read More
We had not been on a 2 week cruise before so were a little anxious if we would enjoy it. We shouldn't have worried - it was brilliant, the entertainment was excellent, there was something for everyone, the entertainers came and went and there was wonderful variety including a Jersey Boys tribute, Tim Kominski a great comedian and Harry O' Flanagan, an Irish singer & comedian + many others! We loved Ariel in the piano bar and thought the showband was second to none - we would have liked to have seen more of them. The food was excellent - we preferred the Venetian at night but enjoyed others too. The cruise director was fantastic, great sense of humour and pitched everything just right. The staff were all great particularly as this was around the time of the typhoon in the Philippines & many of them were of Phillipino origin - I don't know how they coped, many of them did not know if their families were alive or not - so not surprising they weren't laughing & joking. All the staff were helpful & friendly without being obtrusive - all in all a fantastic cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
BACKGROUND: My wife and I are both 55+ and now cruise at least twice a year. We’re Platinum on Princess & Carnival, have also cruised Celebrity but this was our first cruise on Norwegian. We were looking for a cruise with good rates ... Read More
BACKGROUND: My wife and I are both 55+ and now cruise at least twice a year. We’re Platinum on Princess & Carnival, have also cruised Celebrity but this was our first cruise on Norwegian. We were looking for a cruise with good rates to some place(s) we haven’t been and this repositioning itinerary was just the ticket (St. Thomas, Aruba, Curacao, Cozumel with "new” ports of Antigua + Barbados). Our AAA travel agent got us an upgrade to mini-suite on deck 11 just below the Grand Café and an extra $100 OBC (kudos to Carol). Since I am a former teacher (5 years was enough) I decided to give letter grades for each component I reviewed. Notes to Norwegian newbies: 1. Be sure to sign in when you do muster drill. We didn’t know we had to sign in and received a note saying we need to do another muster drill. We explained we went to the 1st one but didn’t know we had to sign in so they didn’t hold us for the 2nd drill. It wasn’t a BIG deal but still an unnecessary inconvenience. 2. This ship has no "Do Not Disturb” cards to hang on the cabin door  instead there is a wheel next to the door that rotates to show "Welcome”, "Make Up Cabin”, "Turn Down Cabin” and "Do Not Disturb”. 3. Check the daily paper for drink specials  ours were in the Spinnaker Lounge from 5-7 PM. 4. On Embarkation day, forget the Lido deck and have lunch in the Venetian Dining Room  it’s less congested and you can relax. ARRIVAL + BOSTON: We booked our Jet Blue flight from Central New York State (Syracuse) to arrive on the day of the cruise. The taxi to the pier was $30 including $5 tip. Embarkation itself was pretty painless and we were onboard by 12:30 PM and were told our cabins were ready  WOW that was easy! Embarkation = A THE CABIN: We were on Deck 11 aft cabin 11176  one deck below Lido. The mini "suite was GREAT with just one flight of stairs up to the Garden Café which was opposite the Fitness Center. There is plenty of storage space on the closet shelves and in the closet itself BUT the closet doors open toward the bed so you have to maneuver around to get stuff out. Even though storage was ample, we decided to store the suitcases under the bed which gave us even more room. The bathroom had a TUB  imagine that! The tub/shower had great water pressure and sliding glass doors which were a nice touch and the toilet area had a door also. Even though we were underneath the Garden Café, we were under the end of the room and hardly ever heard carts or chairs moving above us. We asked the room steward for a mattress topper since the bed was a tad firm. Our room steward Chris was very pleasant, helpful and never showed any sign of negativity (we gave him an extra $55 @ cruise end). He also spoke English well so there were no communication issues and we even spoke several times. Cabin = A, attendants = A+ THE FOOD: Norwegian has Freestyle dining so you eat when and where you want. Venetian Dining Room: We had lunch there on embarkation day and several dinners also. The wait time was not long at all, service was very good, the food was of good quality and the choices were many. One side of the menu stays the same but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since I could enjoy the daily special one night and then order from the "usual” side the next. We had TWO evenings of superb Surf & Turf dinners and (contrary to what some people observed) the lobsters were full lobsters (not halves) and we were given two lobsters each at the 2nd Surf & Turf dinner. YOWZA!! A Aqua Dining Room: This is the more "casual dress” dining room where we had several dinners. The menu is pretty much the same as the Venetian and the food & service was of good quality. A Blue Lagoon: This is the casual dining room in the Atrium area. The menu is always the same but it is open 24 hours and serves up some good breakfasts, fish & fries, chicken sandwiches, chef salad and a host of other food items. In addition, you can enjoy the entertainment in the Atrium while you eat. A Teppenyaki: We decided to try this Asian specialty restaurant ($25 p/p) because we had some OBC to use up. It was very interesting to watch the chefs go thru their "show” while they spun eggs around, flipped utensils in the air and other such acrobatics while preparing the food. We definitely didn’t go away hungry. A+ Garden Cafe: There is probably something bad I could write about the lines, the choices, the food temperature, the presentation, the lack of seating etc but I’m on vacation to enjoy myself and not find fault with the small stuff. Once we became accustomed to the layout and the best times to eat, things were fine. There were certain machines that had both skim milk and regular milk while others had regular milk and half & half. Some juice machines had strawberry/kiwi & mango flavored water while others had real orange and cranberry juice. Once you found out where stuff was, it was pretty much a certainty it would always be found there. The pizza on the buffet wasn’t that good but I probably helped my weight by not eating much of it. Salads & finger foods are my mainstay anyway and I never walked away hungry. B Bar service: Mostly frequented the Spinnaker Grill. Bartender was friendly & made good drinks - I tipped him extra. A Room service: Never used it. No grade Other Specialty restaurants or Bimini Grill: Never used them. No grade Soda/drink packages: Never used them. No grade SHORE EXCURSIONS: More info for each is in the Shore Excursion Reviews St .Thomas: We opted for the St John Catamaran Champagne & Snorkeling excursion. B+/A- Antigua: After reading glowing reviews on Cruise Critic, we booked with "Lawrence of Antigua”. A Barbados: The Barbados Beach Break was an inexpensive excursion plus the beach was very nice and we had the use of lounges and an umbrella. A Curacao: We didn’t book an excursion but shopped for souvenirs and see the city. No grade but a good time. Aruba: We booked the Kuckoo Kanukoo beach excursion. A drive to the usual tourist spots ending at a beach. A Cozumel: Our snorkel excursion was cancelled due to low demand so we did the Jose Cuervo Tequila tasting. Woo hoo - - - what an afternoon! I’m surprised I still remember some of the things we learned about tequila. A Tampa: We booked the city tour thru the ship at the end of the cruise. If you want an overview of Tampa, this is a good way to get it. A OTHER SERVICES/MISC: The Internet Cafe is on Deck 9 and has about 12 terminals and several Internet "plans”. You could pay 75 cents per minute, purchase 100 minutes or 250 minutes. On the first day you could get add’l free minutes if you bought a plan. We opted for the 100 minute + 10 minutes free ($60 including activation) plan just to check e-mail a few times during the week. BE AWARE ----- the service is painfully S-L-O-W. On the last day when everyone is working on confirming flights, the system w/b really slow. C We didn’t use the Spa although I used the gym in the early afternoons so I had no issues with finding an open T-mill, elliptical or life cycle. The treadmills, elliptical and pedal machines were in great shape and the weight machines were primo. Gym = A- We didn’t buy any photo packages and ignored most photographers who tried to snap our pix. No grade We didn’t go to the casino. No grade Cruise Director and staff were often seen before shows in the Stardust Theater and around the ship. Nice people without being annoying. A We used Passengers’ Service desk to get printout of our charges and they were courteous and professional. A The boutiques/stores had their usual "sales” which were mostly for old stock and watches. We only bought a couple of small souvenirs. C We didn’t go to any of the clubs at night  not enough time it seems but we did listen to Jose & Patti in the Atrium on several occasions. A We attended most of the Stardust Theater shows "Band On The Run”, "Oh What A Night” (Part 1 + 2), "Oceans Apart”, Michael Johns (comedian/hypnotist), Tim Kiminsky (comedian). Overall a grade of A DEBARKATION: We ate our breakfast in our cabin using food we brought down the day before and then waited inside Stardust Theater for our Tampa tour to get on the buses. Things were a little disjointed when we went on deck and joined in with the regular walk off passengers. We were in the wrong line then there was a problem with the card reading machine but we finally made it to the terminal to pick up our bags, go thru customs and board our busses. WHEW…It wasn’t a nightmare by any stretch but I wish some of the powers that be could streamline things a bit better. All that pushing and shoving …it’s like a Black Friday sale at Walmart or Macy’s. C OVERALL: Fourteen days seemed so-o-o-o long when we started but it ended all too soon (that line could probably be the theme of a country song). It was also great to start off with $300 OBC which we spent on the mandatory tips, shore excursions, drinks specialty dining and internet. The ship may have twenty four hundred people but it’s big enough so that we never felt crowded. Just don’t wait until "rush hour” to eat or go to the shows. I now see how/why some people are Norwegian fanatics  it’s a great brand with a great product. We enjoyed it so much we purchased a $250 Future Cruise Certificate and we’re booked on the Dawn reposition from Tampa back to Boston in April of 2014 and I’m confident it will be just as enjoyable. I would recommend this ship & itinerary and give it an overall grade of a tad more than "A-" so that will round up to A   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We left the port in Tampa on April 21. Embarkation was easy, efficient, and very pleasant. Everyone we came in contact with was so friendly and helpful. By 2:00 p.m. we were having cocktails and lunch on the pool deck. It was one of ... Read More
We left the port in Tampa on April 21. Embarkation was easy, efficient, and very pleasant. Everyone we came in contact with was so friendly and helpful. By 2:00 p.m. we were having cocktails and lunch on the pool deck. It was one of the very few cloudy days on our trip. The Dawn is an older ship and although it is well maintained, it could use a face lift in a few areas, mostly on the pool deck. The loungers are not comfortable and need to be replaced as well as some of the wicker tables and chairs. Our stateroom 9175, although small, was adequate and had pretty good storage for such a tiny room. The bed was not as comfortable as we would have liked. It was kept clean and well-stocked at all times. There are more activities on the Dawn and something for everyone. The cruise director, Gio was outstanding. He has an abundance of energy and is always upbeat and fun. The entertainment on Norwegian is the best of any ship we have been on. Dining on the Dawn provides many options. There are two main dining rooms, the buffet dining room and several specialty restaurants. The food was very good in both the Venetian and Aqua dining rooms, although the service was painfully slow in the Aqua. The Garden Cafe was always consistently good. One of our favorite features was the outdoor BBQ by the pool on our sea days. The chefs cooked up hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, kebobs and steaks. There were salads and sides as well. It was always delicious. There are many shore excursions provided by Norwegian for the passenger's safety and convenience if they are not comfortable making their own arrangements. They are generally well planned and guarantee that you will get back to the ship on time. We have also booked some great shore excursions by reading the reviews. We had three days at sea on the return trip as this was a repositioning cruise that ended in Boston. The weather was rather cold the last two days, but there were numerous activities on the ship all day and night, so really no reason to ever get bored. The shows were outstanding and fun. The comedians were hilarious. Afternoon shows were added on our final sea days. When we arrived in Boston on May 3, we had the whole day to tour this wonderful city and wished we had planned on staying for another day or two. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We arrived for embarkation on the Dawn around 1:30 - couldn't have been easier, two of us are latitudes members, and we breezed through, with a very friendly employee, telling the non cruiser how much fun she would have! We went ... Read More
We arrived for embarkation on the Dawn around 1:30 - couldn't have been easier, two of us are latitudes members, and we breezed through, with a very friendly employee, telling the non cruiser how much fun she would have! We went directly to our state room on Deck 9 with a balcony. The itinerary was perfect. I loved how there were six sea days that really enabled you to enjoy what the ship has to offer. It was nice not having to get up and out to do a port every day. Our first port was Jamaica, had never been before, we went to Ochos Rios. We had not planned an excursion, we were going to shop and go to Margaritaville for lunch. We could not walk 4 feet without being hounded about taxis, having our hair braided, or buying pharmaceuticals! We did buy a few souvenirs and had an entertaining lunch. Curacao was next, we met a couple getting off the ship who asked if we would share a cab with them, to see the north western part of the island with them. We did, and saw the most amazing scenery. There was a place where the waves fill a basin in the rock, called Pistol Mouth - and when it is full the water shoots straight up in the air, amazing! We also went to the salt ponds where we saw the pink flamingoes! Walked around the town, but the stores had all closed at 6pm, and we wasted time, getting free wifi in Starbucks! Next was Aruba, went to Eagle beach, absolutely beautiful, did some shopping, stopped for a drink at LocalStore. St Maarten is where our first ship planned excursion was. Two of us had done this before and loved it, so we booked Orient Beach. It is on the French side of the island, so we were brought by bus, given a rum punch on arrival, we had beach chairs, a lovely free lunch with another drink, and transport back to the ship. The beach is beautiful, although big waves, and yes, it is beside the nude beach! But far enough away that, you don't have to see anything if you don't want to! I think Orient beach is beautiful a d would go again for a third time! Next was St. Thomas which I have been to multiple times. Not my favorite, too commercial. So we decided to book an excursion, last minute with the ship. It was snorkelling at Turtle Bay, which we went to by catamaran, that picked us up at the ship. It was PERFECT! We were about 25 from the ship, stopped at the Marriott, and picked up probably a other 30 people, and off we went. We snorkelled for about an hour, saw some really neat fish, then back on the catamaran, and the bar opens, music on for our sail back to the ship. Great staff on "the Cat", we had a wonderful day! We had 3 sea days at the end, to sail up to Boston, it definitely did cool down, but we were lucky enough to have sun every day! We spent one night in Boston, and just want to note, that we went and saw the memorial for the marathon bombing. It was truly heartfelt to see all the love and support people have for, one of the greatest cities. Boston Strong!! We booked the 3 specialty restaurants, that were offered before the cruise. The stipulation being that you had to dine in one of them on embarkation night. We later found out that was when they had lobster in the main dining room! So our first restaurant was La Cucina where we had a really good meal. They also gave us a free bottle of wine for booking the three restaurants. Le Bistro was next. They sat the three of us at a table for 6 right in front of the kitchen! Wasn't the best, although, I had beef tenderloin, which was too well done, but I was full after eating appetizers, so I should have returned it, but did not. The third restaurant was Cagneys where we all agree was the best meal on the ship. I can't even pinpoint one dish - they were all amazing! The two main dining rooms were good, although, we were slightly disappointed in the service, at the Venetian. We did buy the Ultimate Beverage package, which means all your alcohol is include. Works pretty well for the most part, although there are a couple of kinks to work out. For the most part the Dawn has a fantastic hard working crew! Can't say enough about our favorite bartender, Dominggus, in the Pearly Kings Pub, along with Val and Eva. Poolside, we had I Made and Nennette who looked after us so well. We made friends with Magdalena, (bar manager?) we will miss you! And a great big thank you to Geo and his entertainment staff for some great shows and keeping us laughing for 12 days! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My husband and I a big fans of repositioning cruising. The longer length gives much more time to really unwind and the more numerous sea days are the best. It is especially wonderful returning to your homeport and not having to face a ... Read More
My husband and I a big fans of repositioning cruising. The longer length gives much more time to really unwind and the more numerous sea days are the best. It is especially wonderful returning to your homeport and not having to face a final day of airport stress. This was a rare vacation that was focused on relaxation and doing it "freestyle." We made few plans, booked no shore excursions, and except for a salon appointment, did not worry once about schedules, The NCL Dawn is one of the smaller NCL ships, so it lacks a few of the big ticket amenities like water park, bowling and rock climbing. It is showing its age a bit, but was generally well maintained and clean. The pool and spa are a bit smaller than on other NCL ships we have sailed on. Overall we were satisfield with the many dining options and the casino. We did not go to a single show (highly unusual) but there was a wide variety and reports from other passengers were that they were fun. Our previous experience with NCL entertainment is that it is better than most cruiselines. The weather was wonderful for the entire cruise and the ports of Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten and St. Thomas are among our favorites, although we were not that fond of Ocho Rios, Jamaica. My husband and I cruised in a 2 bedroom suite. The small second bedroom served as my walk-in closet and dressing room. The second bathroom is a blessing when getting ready for a day ashore or evening events. As suite guests, as well as Platinum level Latittudes members of NCL, we were able to enjoy many ammenities. Priority boarding and disembarking, butler and concierge service, special parties and other perks are well worth the upgrades and loyalty. We each celebrated a birthday and our wedding anniversary during the trip, and it was very special. Room, casino and dining staff made sure the celebration was festive. We cannot say enough about the friendly and attentive staff that made our vacation great. A highlight was the Chef's Table dinner. Incredible food and wine and a chance to meet great fellow passengers. The private galley tour with the head chef the following day was an extra special treat. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
First of all, We have cruised with NCL before and will do it again, but NOT with the DAWN.. We whare expecting a nice ship that was refurbished some years ago... But I was very disappointed, the overall feeling was that the whole ship was ... Read More
First of all, We have cruised with NCL before and will do it again, but NOT with the DAWN.. We whare expecting a nice ship that was refurbished some years ago... But I was very disappointed, the overall feeling was that the whole ship was a "cheaper" issue of some of the sister ships... The reason we keep on going back is the freestyle dining, this is a system we enjoy very much, and is the main feature that we go on with NCL. We had great expectations for the big trip with our children and grandchildren that we wanted to experience both the cruise and the caribbean. For people from Norway this is a very adventorous journey filled with exitement and very different life than we are used to.. The embarkation was very good, we where boarding quite early and it was smooth and quickly served... Guiding to the cabin and the cabin itself was also good enough, we had 3 cabins beside each other with balconies so that was very good from our agency: Cruisedeals.com , Mr Eric Muhlitner did a great job for us.. On our first days that where at sea, we enjoyed the ship, and saw our first disappointments.. First, the main restaurant, The Garden Cafe, it was not nice. The whole system felt cheap, and like an old ship , stressful, food was quite ok, but the whole feeling of the restaurant was like an old McDonalds restaurant. The other issue we knew, but we had not thought much about it before entering the ship, is that NCL in our opinion has more and more restaurants wich all has an extra payment to eat there, it seems thay need to earn some more money. And in out opinion this ship looked like they dont have enough money to make it nice.. Venetian Dining rooom was a bit better, a bit more style, but the staff was very stressed, the food took a very long time, even if it was breakfast or dinner, lots of bad seatings with staff running arount the tables for getting to others, we had not any real good experiances here actually. Breakfast was good. Dinner was just OK.. AQUA Main Dining, was a very "closed" restaurant, the dinner was also just ok, good meat, but the rest was average, but staff was a bit less stressed here, and lokked like thay had a bit more time, and they also served quicker than at the Venetian. BAMBOO restaurant,was a mixed experience, good staff, food was one evening excellent, another evening it was no good, not warm, and not good... very few visitors, and overall an average experience. TEPPANYAKI, we had experienced this at other NCL ships and enjoyed bothe the food and the show very much. This time it was not any experienced chef, the show was really poor, he lost knifes , spatels and the trics was not very good. The food however was good as always, but the show was a disappointment, and even more as you pay 25 dollar per person extra, it was no good... The Bars and grills at the pool was ok, and we did not feel any pushy staff for getting drinks or anything, they where very good actually. The food is always average at such places in my opinion. easy to make an ok burger and chips... It could however improved the icecream for children, we had great problems finding it for our grandson, and for the whole main pool area was not very friendly for children.. And for the children area I will come back after this restaurant review BLUE LAGOON, nice place for a snack, but too few snacks, and again, very different result... Chicken wings was great, good and tasty, some of the other plates was no good, served cold etc... staff was late, and took a long time to serve.. CAGNEY STEAK HOUSE. Should be the top of restaurant at the ship I guess... Not very good winelist. menu was ok, but not more.... Meat was very mixed, some was very good, and some was just average.. But service was good, and overall feeling was that this was a nice place, but the food was not as good as expected. LA CUCINA.. Sorry to say, another average restaurant.. especially as there is an extra fee... A very good thing here was the pizza we took every time as a "starter" on the middle of the table for everyone to take, that was really good and tasty. But the rest of the experiance was average, small menu, som food good, but also some that did not taste anything, especially the pasta. LE BISTRO we did not visit, when we checked the menu, it was nothing that we felt like eating at that time, by all means this was 8 days out in the cruise so we was a bit "tired" of much food.... MODERNO CHURRASCARIA... Again a mixed experience.. We, the parents, did really not see any of the meat other than well done, and a bit too chewy, in our opinion then not the best meat from the start... Those of our children that like most of their meat well done, they enjoyed this place very good.. One of the problems was also that the meat came too fast, there was no time to enjoy the different tastes of the different meat until they came back, and we did not understand if there was any system on the serving, and the different meat, so the whole experience was a bit of a mess... Not a place for us, but for those whol like a well done steak, it will be ok. SUSHI we did not try, as we are not very fond of that, but the restaurant was not very cozy, more like a fast food place in our opinion. The room service (used mostly for an early breakfast enjoyed at the balcony) was very nice, they came mainly 15 minutes before we orderd but called in beforehand and all was good, the meny coul maybe be chenged some from day to day ? Overall , the eating at the ship was a very mixed experience, but the average is quite far below what we expected after our past cruising. And also, amny of the restaurants and staff seemed to be a result of that the ship needed to save money, and to cut costs, so we will never cruise with DAWN again.. ALSO, an important change with DAWN from the other ships we attended, the aft outside restauirant. THE GREAT OUTDOORS is not at the DAWN, that is a great disappointment for people wanting to sit outside while cruising.. At DAWN it is the childrens place.. This childrens place is small, but nice, but it could easily contain some more things to do for children.. And may be somewhere to get water and maybe icecream as thay wanted to stay there for a time.. The worst thing was actually to find it.. For most people we had to go thruogh the spa/training area to come to this part of the boat... As a boat newly renovated this was quite unbeleaveble, the designer should have been fired.... Actually also whenwe experience several other restaurants (As the Garden cafe) and others , they have done a bad job in our opinion.. Another issue is the children department inside.. When a child comes from Norway, it of course speak norwegian and not english, not a problem from child to child, but if there are some things needed to be said from adult to child it needs to be understood.. Maybe in terms of crisis, or just some messages to be told... Our Grandson , wich is 3,5 years, could not attend here, as he did not want to be with someone he could not understand, and as his mother or father wanted then to be with him, that is not allowed, and they where sendt to another room for infants, and of course with infants toys... This was a great disappointment. I understand the safety issue for having unknown adults in the department, but then there really should have been some possibilities for such cases, this a huge disappointment in our cruise with our family. The shows at evening was great , many nice evenings at the theatre.. The dancing evenings is not our thing, so we did not attend.. That is actually one thing I could suggest on the ships and that is to have some "conserts" with more themes, like blues, pop, jazz in special rooms.. where there was also possible to sit and talk and listen.. This ship was overall a bit like a cruise for older people all over in our opinion, should be a good ship for children with families, but in my opinion absolutely the opposite feeling.. THE PORTS. SAMANA, No one wants to go to this city obviously, it is our second stop here, and last time visitors just went back to the ship after 20 minutes in land. This time NCL had given foc the tour to the beach at Cayo Levantado, and that beach is really very nice.. Only problem is that there are not enough sunbeds when you come late, but the sand is nice and white, the water is amazing, just a very nice experience at the beach. But as said before, no one wants to go ashore to the city.. TORTOLA, A nice harbour and island wit some beautiful beaches... Take a trip oout to the other side of the island and have a look at the beautiful scenery while you go over the hills... No actual shopping place in my mind. We stayed the day at Long Beach, very nice,, ST. KITTS, a very nice place to shop, good prices a lot of shops, and easy to reach... The beach is right on the other side of the shopping street and is also nice... Do a lot of shopping here.. Here we did shop some jewelry, and then stayed the rest of the time at the city beach. ANTIGUA, has some of the really best beaches I have even seen... We just took a taxi out to a beach that the taxi driver reccomend us, and it was a true beautyful place.... As they have 360 different beaches I guess it is nice also to have a drive through the island, and there are also a lot of celebrities having houses on this island, Eric Clapton has his house an rehab centes Crossroaeds at this island also.. DOMINICA is truly the island , likely to SAMANA that I dont understand why is in the programme..The city is truly badly looking, dangerous to walk in the city, and no beaches... They say it is important as a rainforest place, but then it shoul not be so much tourism there I guess.. But the place gave us nothing. We and our grandson went ashore for 30 minutes and then went back to the ship.. Our children went to go on the ziplines and had a good time. BARBADOS, again a nice place, to shop, to go swimming, nice town, we found a great beach right outside town, and I dont remember the name.. As our main point is to relax, go swimming, lay in the sun,most of these islands is perfect for us.. So the initiary was good, but Samana and Dominica could be chenged into more exiting places.. An overall opinion about this cruise.. The ship in our opinion is not very nice comparing to others... NCL should improve the restaurants and the menues on those that are paid extra , this was no good value for that money. Childrens should have better premises, those who comes from countries not speaking english has a problem at this ship, so we suggest to try another one, may be another cruise line also.. The initiary of the trip is good, and we love the cruising vacation. Staff is always ready to help, and are very nice and do their best. Bu, sorry to say, we will not og with DAWN again... we loved to go on the SUN, wich has a much more stylish lay out, even though it is the sister ship, it gives you a whole different atmosphere, and seems more quiet, not so stressful, and much, much more style.. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
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
We started cruising on Norwegian over 15 years ago and they are our favorite cruise line. We love the Freestyle cruising and the Dawn did not disappoint us. The ship was very nice in every respect and the crew was terrific. The ... Read More
We started cruising on Norwegian over 15 years ago and they are our favorite cruise line. We love the Freestyle cruising and the Dawn did not disappoint us. The ship was very nice in every respect and the crew was terrific. The entertainment was excellent, as well. We only ate in the main dining room and the food was good, sometimes great. If we didn't care for the menu, we used the Grden Cafe and the food was always good. We really like this size ship as it is large enough to have all the ammenities, but no so big as to make you feel lost. We thought the aft facing balcony was just great although I wouldn't recommend it if you have motion sickness. We had the opportunity to have dinner with the Captain and his wife. What a treat. He then invited us for a tour of the Bridge. It was awesome. We would recommend the Dawn if you like a nice relaxed cruise. If you are looking for a more formal cruise experience, I would recommend Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
flew to Miami arriving morning of the cruise (7 am). Killed some time at airport as was too early to head to Port. Took a cab to port I believe $24 fixed fare (2 cab as was traveling with mu wife, 5 children and our teenagers friend). ... Read More
flew to Miami arriving morning of the cruise (7 am). Killed some time at airport as was too early to head to Port. Took a cab to port I believe $24 fixed fare (2 cab as was traveling with mu wife, 5 children and our teenagers friend). Short drive to Port. Porters checked in our luggage. Then waited in a short line (which grew longer) as they had not yet opened the doors to check in. We has arrived at port approx 9:30 am. They were checking in the ship employees first. Then went through security and checked in relatively quickly. We are seasoned cruises but his was our first NCL cruise. Typical check in process except they automatically activate all the people in cabin (even young children) stateroom key to be active with the credit card. The check in person advised us when on ship to go to purser to deactivate the children's charge ability as in recent cruise a child had spent $900 at the video arcade without his parent knowing until the end of cruise. All other ships I have been on children were automatically not connected to the credit card. Was short line on ship to get the kids cards deactivated. Not a big deal but seems like a unnecessary step. Waited about 1 1/2hrs before they started boarding the ship. quick board. Not able to go to cabin until about 2 or 3 pm. I will not do a day to day review: Just some thoughts: dining: I like anytime dining. most cruise lines have this now as a option not mandatory as with NCL. Only had to wait 15-20 mins for dinner (prime time) for our party of 8 first 2-4 days of the cruise after that no wait. FOOD: I was disappointment with the variety of food on the open seat dining rooms. We ate dinner mainly at the venitian. Found the atmosphere there to be more like other cruise lines. More elegant then the Aqua. Both dining areas serve basically the same dinner choices. Desserts were fair, sometimes good but very limited choices on the changing menu. They have s set menu everyday with appetizer, entree, dessert choices the same the entire cruise. Then each day a appetizer/entree/dessert selection that changes. Even with those "changing" menus there was not very much variety. They have a "chefs special" entree that changes each night as well. Unfortunately it is not printed on the menu. Your waiter tells you what it is (many times hard just before you are ready to order). Would be much more helpful to have it posted at the door or a card with it on the table. Food itself was good. But again was disappointed with the variety. Luckily we went to dinner the the first (i belive perhaps second night) this was the only time they served lobster the entire 11 night cruise. Cagneys steakhouse has lobster $8 (in addition to the $25) specilaty charge. Lido deck buffet: ate breakfast there always. over all good. not to hard to find a seat. had a nice "kids" section which my 7,8,10 yr old liked (small child chairs, tables and there own small buffet line with food). Lunch was ok. not great. Had a deli daily and a hot buffet line and desserts. Late night snack was very limited. Pizza good, some desserts and hamburgers/hotdogs (not very appealing). Chocolate buffet (one time event i believe 8-10:30 Pm) had a good variety. It was in the lido deck buffet. The time of it was not ideal as too soon after dinner. Should have started at 9 and went to midnight. There is a 24 hr free restaurant with a fixed menu: has a decent breakfast choices, It is sit down, order form a waiter. Nice area with views out the ship or views down to the atrium where there is a late night movie and 7-11 pm musical entertainment. Lunch/dinner there is fixed menu (cheeseburger, fish and chips, chicken wings, panini sandwich. starter wonton soup or chicken noodle, spinach/cheese and tortilla chips and for dessert cheesecake or strawberry shortcake. The burgers were great (angus beef-much better than the buffet) and the wings were good. You could also order food there to go. Never had a wait. We did not eat at any of the specialty pay restaurant. Was going to eat at Cagneys steakhouse but never got around to it. Plus the added cost was higher then i wanted especially traveling with 8. By the way the steak in the "free" dining rooms was not very good. Could tell they chose cheaper cuts otherwise so as not to be close to competing with the specialty restaurants. Specialty restaurants never seemed to be busy. Always had openings. Many times seemed empty. SHIP ITSELF: typically cruise ship. Had no complaints. Show room was good. Pool was good. Cabin we almost always get a inside. Use our money for other things. Cabin was very small compared to all the other ships I have been on. Layout was poor. When bunk was down could not see the tv. Closet space very limited. I would avoid this cabin and this part of the hall. Ship layout plan gives no clue that it is a ship crew "party area". Noisy, laughing, music, partying form the crew starts about 8 pm and goes on until early in the morning EVERYDAY. We were happy we at least had 3-4 cabins away form the "emergency only/crew only" door that ended the hallway. STAFF: excellent overall. cabin steward was great (even stored some of our luggage that would not fit easily in our cabins). Wait staff overall good. Aqua dining room wait staff did not seem to be up to par. I have never seen wait staff stand around and "talk" with each other so much. Entertainment was good on board. variety good. The comedian they brought on board was horrible though. Kids Crew (kids club): Our 7,9,11 yrs old liked it. But the variety of activities was limited. Also activities in port were not included you had to pay extra for these. I have never had that on any other cruise lines. Smoking: we do not smoke. Smoking around the pool was annoying. Also the "cigar" lounge needs much much better ventilation the smell goes very far down the hallways and into the other non smoking areas. I am always amazed that the engineers can't have better ventilation that "sucks " the smoke out. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We had booked Samana Zip line months before the cruise.(we actually had done zip line in Samana on a Holland America cruise dec 2011. When we arrived at the ship first day was a note form shore excursion stating the tour had been cancelled. Talked to shore excursion person later who told us they have not done that excursion for months because of safety concerns. Not sure why they still have it for sale on the NCL website???? frustrating. The free shore excursion to Cayo isaland in Samana was great. Well appreciated. This is like other "private" cruise line islands we have been on before. Some members of our party did zip line/canopy excursion in Dominica and liked it but it was not just zip lines. Was other "obstacle course like things" Which was "scarier" to my wife. She "did not feel safe". The guides on the excursion were not very helpful. She enjoyed the Samana Zip line and felt much safer in December. Dominca: took taxi ($20pp roundtrip) to CHampagne neach (is a rock beach) excellent snorkeling best the entire trip. champagne like bubbles stream up in some places on the reef. Overall I enjoyed the cruise. But there has not been a cruise that I have not liked. I am not sure how this cruise compares to other NCL cruises/ships. Before This cruise ewe were planing on a Dec 2012 cruise on the same ship but have decided against it. Compared to our other recent cruises (Holland America, carnival and more distant RCCL and Princess) we are planning to to book with one of those lines for our next cruise this year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We have the best vacation ever on the March 18th 10 day sailing on the Dawn. Embarkation was a breeze even though there was a huge line up of people, we expecting a long wait, it was pretty smooth. We got to the port at about 12:30 and ... Read More
We have the best vacation ever on the March 18th 10 day sailing on the Dawn. Embarkation was a breeze even though there was a huge line up of people, we expecting a long wait, it was pretty smooth. We got to the port at about 12:30 and I think we were on the pool deck by 1:30 at the latest. I went straight to the Garden Cafe for my first meal on the ship. Our room was incredible. We decided to get an oceanview for this trip and it was worth every penny! I loved the size of our room and I was surprise at how spacious it turned out to be. I loved having the window to look out and see the ocean and have natural sunlight peek into the room in the morning. It was a nice wake up call. Food: We ate in the main dining rooms, both the Aqua and the Venetian. I personally think that the Aqua had better service even though the Venetian is supposed to be the fancier of the two. Again, not that service was slow but I find the Aqua was better. Food was great every night and there was always a special daily menu and I ended up always ordering from it each night. From lobster tail to ribs to crème brulee, the nightly specials were awesome. Of course there was also the regular nightly items that my husband ordered from a few nights, always satisfied his palate. We ate at Teppanyaki with another couple, some people rave about it, my hubby and I would never go back. Food was ok, but I would have preferred being in the regular dining room that night. My in laws went to Moderno one night absolutely loved it. Garden cafe always great, they had indian food almost daily and being a huge fan of the cuisine, I ate a lot of it and it was great! Definitely something for everyone to eat. Breakfast was good and loved the omelets that were made for you on the spot. Staff: The staff on the Dawn was superb!!!!!! The cruise director Paul Scally and the staff, WOW!!! We are the type that participate in every possible event throughout the ship so we got to know everyone working there and everyone knew us. Our room steward, Ariel, was incredible. We celebrated our 3rd year wedding anniversary and the day of, I guess he noticed our cards and he made 2 doves out of towels and a heart shaped out of chocolates on the bed. Incredibly sweet he was! Entertainment: Jose and Patti we met last year on the Dawn and they were back good as ever. They played mostly in the atrium and we would pass by and listen to them. My favorite comedian, Dave Heenan, amazing as always. I bought his dvd on this trip. The hypnotist and magician was awesome. The second city group were impressive as well! Samana: We did a private zip lining excursion with Tours with Terry, cannot say enough good words about this tour. NCL offered a free excursion to Cayo Levantado which is a beach, my inlaws enjoyed it there. Tortola: Did a private dolphin swim excursion, I don't know about other people but this was my first dolphin experience and probably my last. We walked back to the ship as we noticed that the cab ride there was super short. We stopped of at a few bars along the way back for a few drinks. Antigua: We did a NCL excursion on a pirate ship. It was a lot of fun. We went snorkeling with them and on the way back all you can drink rum punch, beer and non-alcoholic beverages were served. St Marten: Most of my family members went to Maho beach for the planes, they had an awesome time. I went shopping and went to a beach right by the port. Great island!! One of my favorites. Barbados: We booked a beach break through NCL and thoroughly enjoyed it! St Kitts: Ladies Ladies, this is the land of purse replicas!! Louis Vuittons and Coach purses everywhere!!!! I only had about an hour to shop because we had booked a 3 ½ hour long snorkel excursion. Loved St Kitts Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
I always find these reviews helpful so I feel I should do my share in providing a review as well. We had the most wonderful cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. We picked this cruise mainly because of the Ports of call - many we haven't ... Read More
I always find these reviews helpful so I feel I should do my share in providing a review as well. We had the most wonderful cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. We picked this cruise mainly because of the Ports of call - many we haven't seen before. I'll elaborate on a few topics below: Dining: We dined mainly in the Venetian. Found the menu to be varied and tasty each night. The only specialty restaurant we did was Bamboo because I'm on this Asian kick lately. It was wonderful. The wait staff were so friendly and we never felt "hurried" as I've read in other reviews. One negative: Their pancakes and waffles have much to be desired. We never at the buffet as I don't care for buffets. We always did breakfast in the Venetian and it was always good - minus the pancakes and waffles of course. Fitness Center - When we cruised Princess last year I didn't like the fitness center. I loved the Dawn's fitness center. My hubby and I vowed each day we would make a point of it and stuck with it. We also made sure to walk on the promendade each day. Six times around is nearly two miles. This will really help in keeping the weight down, which is already difficult on a cruise. I highly recommend that. Entertainment - I know a thing or two about the entertainment industry and please believe me...this ship knows what they are doing. I've heard some singers on other ships that would sometimes make you cringe. Most of these folks could be professional. The sound and acoustics in the Stardust was great. You will really enjoy each night's perfomances. Excursions: We did the beach day on the Dom Republic, ATV ride around St. Marteen. There were only 6 riders so it was great. Beautiful island. Did the catamaran ride to Jost Van Dyke - one of the most beautiful and serene Caribbean beaches I ever have seen. Did the zipline in Barbados. The group was too large - maybe 30 - so most of the time it was just waiting. I've done it once and probably won't again. I thought it would be a little more thrilling. The pirate ship/snorkel on Antigua was a blast. The hosts make sure you have a great time. We didn't do an excursion on St. Kitts. I've read that the port shopping is great. It was. Spent probably 3 hours shopping. The island is beautiful. Stateroom - We had a balcony and we found the room to be smaller than on Carnival and Princess. It was layed out odd where my husband and I seemed to always run into each other. But the flip side of that is that it's by far the best bathroom on any ship. Good water pressure, hot water and larger size shower. We always seem to luck out with great cabin stewards. Everyone is so friendly on the ship and always trying to make sure your needs are met and you are happy happy happy! I do applaud Norwegian for the importance in handwashing. Way to go! We will for sure be back to Norwegian as we loved the free style cruising. I can only hope you enjoy your vacation half as much as we did. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Background Info: My wife and I were on the February 15 Southern Caribbean 11 Day sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. It was our 13th cruise overall and 3rd with NCL. This is our 2nd cruise on the Dawn and we have also been on the Pearl. Other ... Read More
Background Info: My wife and I were on the February 15 Southern Caribbean 11 Day sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. It was our 13th cruise overall and 3rd with NCL. This is our 2nd cruise on the Dawn and we have also been on the Pearl. Other cruises include 9 Carnival & 1 Royal Caribbean. Pre-Cruise: We flew into Miami a day early arriving around 4:00 p.m. Living in Michigan; we always fly in the day before we cruise (even though this is the year without a winter in Michigan and most of North America). The cab ride to the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay cost $30 including tip and took about 25 minutes. The Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay is a nice hotel in a bad location. When I say "bad" -- I mean there are very few options to pick up last minute needs (i.e. soda, sunscreen, etc...) or have dinner. There is not a Walgreens, Rite Aid or grocery store within 1.5 miles of the hotel. Right next door is a Double Tree hotel that has an underground mall with a few shops and restaurants but no place to buy cases of pop (we don't call it soda in Michigan). We ate dinner at a little deli and picked up a couple of bottles of liquor. The good news is a Publix grocery store will be opening soon that is an easy 10 minute walk from this hotel so this problem will be remedied in the near future. The room was spacious and modern with an excellent view of Biscayne Bay. Wi-Fi is NOT free in the room but can be purchased for $14.95 per day. I'm thinking it was free in the lobby as an inordinate number of people with their laptops and tablets could be found there. Not positive about that though. The workout facility was very good and free to use. There were plenty of treadmills and elliptical machines as well as weights. The price of the hotel worked for me ($150 on a discount website including all taxes). The next morning we caught a cab to the port. It was only about a 10 minute ride and cost $15 including tip. Embarkation: Extremely smooth! We arrived at the port around 10:45, checked in by 11:00, onboard by 11:50. Easy Cheesy! We boarded the ship and immediately spotted a couple from our Cruise Critic Roll call and struck up a conversation. After 10 minutes we all headed off to the Venetian for lunch. In all or our previous cruises this was the 1st time we did not go to the buffet for embarkation lunch. What a difference! No fighting for a seat, no dodging people pulling 4 suitcases and no screaming kids. This will be standard operating procedure on embarkation day for all future cruises. The muster drill was quick and easy (no life preserver required). I was a little surprised how many of the passengers were talking and not paying attention to the crew especially in light of recent events. Then it was off to the Unofficial, Unsanctioned, and Unauthorized Cruise Critic Meet N' Greet at Topsiders Bar. What a blast! We had a great turnout and immediately established new friendships (and renewed old ones) with the most wonderfully diverse group of delightful, interesting, and comical folks we have ever had the pleasure of cruising with. I knew right then we were in for a great cruise. We returned to our cabin to find a note indicating I had been summoned to the infamous "Naughty Room". The luggage in question was a cooler bag filled with a case of Diet Coke and Coke Zero (which is allowed by NCL so I was not breaking any rules.) I had to stand in line for 45 minutes to retrieve a perfectly legal cooler bag. They could have easily opened the bag and determined it was nothing but pop and saved us both the time. Not only that but I had to haul it up to the 9th deck from the 4th deck by myself. No offer of assistance at all. I was not happy. So I decided to stop at the Guest Services desk and asked to speak to the Hotel Director. The clerk asked what the problem was and I relayed the above to her. She asked what could be done to resolve the situation. I told that I felt dinner was in order. She told me it could be anywhere but Teppanyaki. No problem - I'll take Le Bistro. I was satisfied with NCL's response. Ship: The ship's decor can be described as subdued and relaxing. The atrium had an outdoor/natural feel to it with faux trees, wicker chairs and a waterfall. In the middle was Java Bar in which you could get coffee drinks as well as the hard stuff. Behind the Java Bar, was a riser that served as a stage for some of the musical acts. The Dawn has been refurbished since our last cruise on her in January 2011. The Spinnaker lounge has been moved and no longer has large window to look out but it is still a good place to watch a show and have a drink. It is nicely decorated in tans and browns. Also, the shops have been moved and as well as the photo gallery. No problems with the changes. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 9 forward port side (#9566). The bed was comfortable and had many pillows. The bathroom was functional. The shower was big enough and had a door instead of a curtain which kept the floor dry. The toilet was sectioned off in an area that could be made more private by closing the sliding frosted door. It was snug with the door closed but not impossible. One opportunity for improvement was the sofa sleeper. It looked a little worn out and should be replaced. The TV was a nice flat screen (last year it was an old school picture tube TV). We did not have a lounger on our balcony. It was 2 chairs and a table. Other balconies had 1 lounger and a chair (along with a table.) I imagine you can have a lounger if you ask the room steward. It was not a problem for us. The air conditioning worked great. Closet/drawer space was not an issue as there were only two of us and we pack lightly. As I mentioned earlier, we brought a cooler bag loaded with a case of Diet Coke and Coke Zero each. Every evening I left the room steward (Bago) a note requesting he fill it with ice every day (along with a couple of bucks for his extra effort). He exceeded our expectations throughout the cruise. Dining We dined at the following Specialty Restaurants: Le Bistro -- Both DW and I had the filet mignon. The steaks were cooked perfectly. For appetizers, I had the 4 Mushroom soup and grilled asparagus. Both were delicious especially the mushroom soup. I could have eaten an entire bucket of it. DW had French onion soup and the spring salad with duck for her appetizers and enjoyed both. Dessert was crème brulee and it was sinful. Also, the coffee is served in a French press and is fantastic. There is a $20 cover charge. Le Bistro continues to be our favorite. La Cucina -- We dined with new friends we met from our roll call and had a great time. This is the Italian cuisine restaurant and has carries a $10 cover charge. We each had the chicken parmesan along with Caesar salads and they were very good. For desert, DW had a Panna Cotta sampler (amaretto, chocolate and lemon) and I had a scoop of ice cream. DW liked the amaretto and chocolate but did not care for the lemon. We both thought it was worth the cover charge. Cagney's Steakhouse -- We celebrated my 39th birthday here. Well maybe it was 8th time I celebrated my 39th birthday.....but who's counting? For appetizers I had the shrimp cocktail and lobster bisque. There are only 3 shrimp in the shrimp cocktail so feel free to order a double. DW also had the lobster bisque and a Caesar salad for her apps. We both loved the lobster bisque. For dinner, I had the filet mignon and DW had the roasted half chicken. Neither disappointed. For dessert, I had the cheesecake with strawberry compote and she had the espresso brownie with ice cream. I liked my desert but DW thought the brownie was dry and left most of it. The cover charge is $25 and is definitely worth the money. Dining Rooms - We only had dinner in the Aqua dining room but visited the Venetian for breakfast and lunch. Based on our experience on the Dawn last year we enjoyed the ambiance of the Aqua much more as it seem more like a dining room. The Venetian felt like a loud banquet hall to us. The food quality was for the most part good. As has been the case for awhile now, the right side of the menu stays the same all week while the left side changes daily. We really like the broccoli bisque on the everyday menu. My favorite meal was the Strip Steak and New Orleans Shrimp. I was pleased with the service. Last year, this was a source of frustration as at times as the pace of service was slow. Not the case this year. We never spent more than 50 minutes at dinner from start to finish. Bravo! Garden Cafe -- This is an efficient buffet with good variety. There were different stations that allowed the lines to move freely. I never waited more than 5 minutes for my morning mushroom and cheese omelet or eggs over medium for DW. The variety of options for breakfast and lunch was impressive. A hit for us was the macaroni and cheese. It had a little kick to it. DW liked the chicken Caesar wraps. The fruit was awesome as usual. The pizza was thin crust and not too bad. Usually buffet food is bland but this food was hardly bland in my opinion. Finding a seat could be a chore at peak times but that's no different than any other ship I've been on. Blue Lagoon -- You can go there 24/7 and get a sit down meal (carry-outs were not a problem either -- just walk up to the counter.) I really liked the wings and burgers. A few members of our roll call enjoyed breakfast there several times and raved about it. We did not have breakfast there this cruise but have in the past and could not agree more. No lines, no looking for a seat. Just sit down and enjoy. Room Service -- A nice varied menu and the food was pretty good. We only ordered once and it took about 25 minutes. Note: there is a $3.95 service charge for orders after Midnight. Entertainment Cruise Director: Paul Scally was our CD and was an absolute dud. Now, a CD isn't a really big factor in our cruise experience but he was nearly invisible. I guess after being fortunate enough to have sailed with Matt Baker last year all CDs will forever be a distant 2nd. Dave Heenan -- Very funny man that did not have to resort gutter humor or dropping f-bombs to be funny. Did not see him as much this year but did enjoy the times we saw him. He also sings and has a pretty good voice. It's not ground breaking humor but he was entertaining. Jeri Saeger-- What a voice! Her show was mostly Broadway show tunes as she has starred in many productions and was well attended (even the 9:30 show). A great show that I would recommend. Jose' and Patti -- This husband and wife duo performed primarily in the Grand Atrium but also in the Spinnaker Lounge. You name the genre and they played it. They played music from the 30's all the way to contemporary hits. Their shows generally had had themes. One night it was country music in the "Grand Ole Atrium", another night it was "Music through the Decades" yet another it was "Flashback to the 60's". Our favorite continues to be the Neil Diamond Show which was performed with the entire show band in the Spinnaker Lounge. Plan to get there at least 45 minutes before the show to get a good seat. It is a little late (10:30 pm) but worth it. Jose' sounds just like the Neil including the New York accent. They opened the show "America" which got the entire crowded pumped up and it took off from there. They are extremely fan friendly - even encouraging folks to stop up and say hello during their short breaks. Jose' also does a spot on Johnny Cash. I loved their version of "Folsom Prison Blues". Still the best musical act we have ever seen/heard on a cruise ship. Production Shows -- There were two production shows in the Stardust. We did not see either. They were "Band on the Run" and "Bollywood". We saw BOTR last year and enjoyed it but decided to do something else this year. Some friends saw "Bollywood" and liked it. Their words were "do not judge it by the first 10 minutes as it starts a little slow". Second City Comedy -- We went to the improv show and thought it was funny. They do a nice job getting the audience involved in the show. We would have liked to have attended more of their shows but the timing just never worked with our plans. Miscellaneous Entertainment: Radim Zenki -- Mandolin and Flute music. He is talented for sure but it was just not our style. Jump Band -- A typical cruise party band. They played music that everyone knew and were enjoyable but not memorable. Benjy -- He played piano and sang easy listening type music in Gatsby's Lounge (at least that is where we saw him perform.) A nice way to enjoy a late night cocktail with the one you love. New Season -- This was the pool band and they filled the bill nicely. They played a blend of familiar pop songs and added in the mandatory Caribbean touch. The best part was they played at a sound level that still allowed you to have a conversation with the person next to you without shouting. The shows were at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm with the 1st show definitely being the more attended of the two. The 9:00 pm shows were barely half full and good seats could be had right up to show time. Overall, the entertainment on this cruise exceeded our expectation. I was a little hard on Paul Scally earlier in my review but I realize that arranging the onboard entertainment is a big part of the CD's job so I have to give credit to him for putting it all together. Fitness Center The equipment was varied and in good shape. I'm a runner and enjoy the treadmills with the TV that you could just plug your headphones into watch movie, news, etc.... There is no charge to use the fitness center. However, if you want to use the sauna/steam room/showers you must purchase the spa pass. One thing I did not care for was that the T-Rex Kiddie Pool and Play area was located just in front of the fitness center with a connecting door. Consequently, parents and "little darlings" were wandering in and out. Sometimes the kids would jump on the equipment or leave a trail of water and ear piercing shrieks despite the fact there was a sign clearly stating "No One Under16 Allowed". NCL needs to address issue and enforce their policies. Ports of Call Samana, Dominican Republic -- NCL is offering free trips to Cayo Levantado so we took advantage. The beach is nice, the water is clear and the drinks are good. The food, well, not so much. Save your appetite for the ship and drink your lunch on the island. We enjoyed pina coladas served in a dug out pineapple for $5 each. They were tasty but not very strong. I mentioned it to the barkeep before my 2nd and he made sure to pour it accordingly. It is a nice beach, especially now that it is free (NCL used to charge $49 pp for the excursion) For those booking a private excursion in Samana you should be aware that the order of tenders is as follows: 1. Those on NCL Excursions in Samana 2. Those going to Cayo Levantado 3. Those going to Samana for private excursions NCL was upfront saying that the tenders to Samana would not begin until most of the folks going to Cayo Levantado had been tendered. They stated this would be approximately 1 hour after the tenders commenced. Not sure if this was reality but I did not hear of anyone missing their private excursion in Samana. Tortola, BVI -- We went to Jost Van Dyke on an excursion we booked through NCL for $89 pp. It was supposed to be a high power speed boat that would get us there in 25 minutes but we received a letter from NCL stating that due to "local logistical reasons" we would be transported via catamaran instead. Consequently, the trip took about an hour. This cut our time on JVD by about an hour. Bummer. The catamaran ride was nice, but not nearly as nice as another hour on JVD would have been. We anchored about 30 yards from shore, hopped off the boat and swam in. It was only about 15 yards of swimming as I was able to stand up at that point and walk in (I'm 5' 10"). The deck hand packed up our personal items and brought them to shore in a dry container. Once ashore, we grabbed a couple of chairs in front of the world famous Soggy Dollar Bar and imbibed several of their signature drink - The Painkiller (A Sunny Drink for Shady People). Several members of our roll call were there which only added to the fun! It was day that I will always remember. Pictures do not do this place justice. You have to see it for yourself. We are fortunate to have visited many beaches in our travels but this is #1 for sure. On the ride back to Tortola, the crew served rum punch. But then they broke out the hard stuff. They stuck a bottle of tequila in one end of a floatie noodle then handed you the other end and poured the tequila in. Kind of like a "beer bong" for those of you familiar with those. I tried one.........or maybe two. I forget. After the tequila ran out -- they switched to whiskey. Dancing and revelry ensued. St. Maarten -- After much research we decided to visit the Karakter Beach Lounge and Restaurant on Simpson Bay Beach (pronounced care-actor). We were not disappointed. Not only was the beach nice but the food, drinks and service were outstanding. It is the only beach bar where food was served on china at my beach chair. They also had these bags that they would fill with ice to keep your wine bottle cold while you lounged on the beach. It is located right next to the runway of the airport. The planes do not take off and land over your head but rather to your side. The views were still magnificent. They were more than happy to call us a taxi for the return trip to the port. The only issue we had was getting there. Our taxi/van driver drove around aimlessly for 15 minutes until we saw a sign and pointed him in the right direction. What was most frustrating was he would not look at the map I had printed off of Karakter's website with directions. So make sure your driver knows where he is going BEFORE you get in the taxi. Antigua - We spent a glorious day at Valley Church Beach enjoying sand, sun, food and drinks with another couple from our Roll Call. The Bar/Restaurant was called The Nest. I also got an hour massage for $40. We had food from the beach grill. Nothing fancy...just burgers and chicken. Drinks were in the $5-$6 range. Beers were 6 for $20. I did not try it but was told the rum punch was tasty (and strong). The interesting part of the trip was we took the bus to and from the beach. Having done this last year, we were confident it would be easy. The cost is $1.50 pp each way. We saved money and got there fast. We were the 1st cruisers on the beach that morning....even beat the taxis there. I'd be happy to share the details on how to take the bus. Just send me an e-mail to the address at the end of this review. Dominica -- We did an excursion touring the Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls with Beno Nature tours. He did a nice job showing us the sights and giving us a flavor for life on Dominica. It would definitely recommend this tour. Cost was $50 pp plus two $5 site passes for a total of $60 pp. We were lucky enough to be in Dominica on Fat Tuesday which coincided with the final day of their Carnivale Celebration. There was a parade through the streets of Rouseau with people dressed in colorful costumes, loud music and drinking. The locals really seemed to enjoy all of the requests for pictures. The partying went on all day and was still going on when we pulled out of port at 6:00PM. In fact, we could still hear the music almost a mile at sea. Barbados - We were in port from 7:00 am - 5:00 pm so we decided to make a trip to Crane Beach. I pre-arranged transportation through Johnson Tours. Round trip cost was $76. Our driver picked us up at 8:00 and dropped us off at the public entrance by 8:50. We navigated the stairs/rocks fairly easily but we are both in good shape. Those with shorter legs will have a more difficult time as there are times where one has to really stretch. The key is to TAKE YOUR TIME and you will be fine. Once on the beach, we rented 2 chairs and an umbrella for $20. The water was warm and the sun was hot. It was very windy the day we were there and sand was everywhere. One big negative was there were no public restrooms. For lunch, I walked up the road to Cutters Deli (10 minute walk at the most) and bought a couple of roast beef sandwiches and cokes for lunch (and use the bathroom). Our driver picked us up at 3:00 sharp as requested and we were on board by 4:00. Overall, we enjoyed our trip to Crane Beach but would probably try another beach next time as there are so many great beaches on Barbados. St. Kitts -- We went on "The Tour" with Grey's Island Excursions. The tour covered Romney Manor (which included the Batik factory and gardens) as well as the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (a British built fortress in the 1700's). Cost was $39 per person and worth every penny. The tour was conducted by the owner Thenford Grey and was probably the best island tour I have ever taken. He is extremely experienced and knowledgeable. No wonder he is so highly recommended on the St. Kitts message board here on cruise critic. Debarkation A breeze! We did self walk off. We were off the ship and though Customs by 7:45 a.m. Used SAS Transportation for the ride back to Fort Lauderdale. It was the same price as last year - $15 per person. Cruise Critic Roll Call This is our 3rd NCL cruise and the Roll Calls just keep getting better all the time! We made so many new friends on this trip through the roll call. From the meet and greets (both official and unofficial) to dinners to the Martini tastings this group enhanced our cruise experience immensely. Thanks to all of you! Random Thoughts Something new this cruise. When we arrived in our cabin on embarkation day there was a stack of "coupons" for each of the various onboard credits we had received (probably 5 in total). You now have to sign the back of each coupon and take them to Guest Services for the OBC to be activated. Not a big deal but something to be aware of. Keep an eye out for whale sightings when you are leaving Samana. DW was on our balcony and saw two of them. New favorite drink of the trip. Dirty Banana. A member of our roll call introduced the drink and it spread like wildfire. Pretty soon we were all drinking them. Rumor has it you could not get a banana anywhere on the ship on debarkation morning. The pool was closed for three hours on the 2nd to last sea day because of, yep, you guessed it. There was a dookie in the pool. That is how long it takes to empty, sanitize and refill the main pool. To make it even better, it was during the hottest part of the day. (Not to say there would be a better part of the day for it to happen). It was a real drag for us as our pattern is to sun for 15-20 minutes then jump in the pool for a minute to cool down. We repeat this all day. Needless to say this derailed that plan for us as well as just about everyone else. Not holding NCL responsible at all. Just the selfish individual that put themselves ahead of everyone else on the ship. The all-u-can stuff in the bag laundry special for $24.95 was offered twice on our cruise. We used it once and thought it was worth the money. You'd be surprised how much you can cram in there. They said it would take 2 day but ours came back after 1 day. Try the Martini Tastings at least once. They are held at 4:00 pm on all sea days in Gatsby's Bar. You get 5 different martinis for $15. You can have your own or share. We shared. The tasting lasts an hour. At least the "official" tasting lasts an hour. Our Roll Call group was there for a couple more hours carrying on. We went to the tasting on the last sea day and they handed out the recipes to all of the martinis made at all of the tastings that cruise. Best bargain on the ship. The chair saving on the pool decks was unusually bad. One guy next to us saved two lounge chairs for 3 hours as several people were looking for seats. When I called him out on it -- he called me rude. Go figure. Weather was fabulous! We had a couple of 10-15 minute rain showers the morning we were in Antigua and 15 minutes in Dominica (we were in the rain forest after all). Other than that it was dry during the day. Did not feel "nickel and dimed" at all. I decided what extras I was willing to pay for. NCL takes the Cruise Critic Meet and Greets very seriously. It was attended by the Captain and all the department heads. Each one introduced themselves and described their area of responsibility. At the end of their description each and every one of them gave their direct phone # with instructions to call them if we had any issues at all. There was also a short Q & A session. Light refreshments were provided. The crew of the Dawn is the friendliest I have ever sailed with. From the officers to the bartenders to the room stewards, they all go out of their way to be friendly. Rarely did we pass an NCL employee that did not make eye contact and say "hello". Did not feel like drinks were being pushed on me. It's easy to say "No thank you". It was an extremely diverse crowd as there were more French Canadians and Europeans than any of my previous cruises. The only difference I noticed was that some of the announcements were made in multiple languages. I would guess that 60% of the passengers were from the USA. Summary I say this all the time but it's really true. This was our favorite cruise so far. The itinerary was interesting, the crew was fantastic and the entertainment was excellent. When you combine all that with making new friends then you have the recipe for a great time. And that's exactly what this cruise was "A Great Time". I think DW summed it up best when she said that this cruise was like "Summer Camp for Adults". If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them here or via e-mail at Patrick.Seely@wowway.com Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We just got back from 11 nights on the NCL Dawn. We have been on over thirty cruises and honestly have lost track of the exact number. I booked this cruise in May of 2011 and from the beginning had so many problems with reservations ... Read More
We just got back from 11 nights on the NCL Dawn. We have been on over thirty cruises and honestly have lost track of the exact number. I booked this cruise in May of 2011 and from the beginning had so many problems with reservations that I was convinced that we would never do another NCL cruise again after this was over. But..........that is no longer the case. This was our third NCL Dawn cruise. We have been on many other NCL ships (many are not even around anymore) but really liked the length of the Dawn and the itineary so decided to go again. This was our first 2BR Penthouse. The last time on the Dawn we were in a minisuite and although it was nice; a minisuite is not so much better than a regular standard cabin. This time we decided to go for the PH and it was amazing. The cabin was beautiful but its the staff that made this cruise so wonderful. They are all so genuinely kind and most will go out of their way for you. Of course you always run into the slackers but the majority of the staff gives you 110%. The food was delicious. My only complaints are: 1. Dry towels should be available more frequently by the pool. 2. NCL shows are all the same. We have cruised so many times on NCL and unfortunately can not take advantage of the shows because they are all ones we have seen so many times before. 3. My kids are 11 and 12 and the kids club was very babyish for them. There should be another age group so the 11 and 12 year olds do not have to be with 6 year olds Those really are my only complaints. And great job to our cabin steward Garfield. He was quiet but so so so friendly and professional. Also we were thankful for David the concierge and Wayne and Leon in the DR. One morning in the Garden Buffet, I asked a waiter for grapefruit juice and he told me no.....but Wayne overheard and got so angry at the other waiter for telling me there was no GFJ and got it for me right away. The Dawn was perfection. Reservationists for NCL need work. They really do not have a clue about any of the ships. And not all NCL ships/staff are the same. The Dawn was without a doubt the best. Thanks NCL Dawn for a wonderful vacation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
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 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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