208 Norwegian Dawn Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

This was a ten night cruise to Barbados and other islands in the Lesser Antilles. It was our third time sailing on the Dawn, our tenth with NCL and our thirty-third cruise overall. We live on the Southwest coast of Florida so cruising out ... Read More
This was a ten night cruise to Barbados and other islands in the Lesser Antilles. It was our third time sailing on the Dawn, our tenth with NCL and our thirty-third cruise overall. We live on the Southwest coast of Florida so cruising out of Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami is most convenient. We usually drive over to Miami the day before the cruise to avoid any last minute rush or unanticipated travel glitches. We stay one night in a Quality Inn near the airport which allows free parking for up to 30 days and also offers free shuttle service to the port. There are several excellent Cuban restaurants nearby to help set the mood for a Caribbean cruise and the hotel includes a complimentary breakfast. Then, it's off to the port arriving around noon to see an undisciplined line of humanity snaking out of the building, down an alley, back up the alley and ending about another 300 feet later. Somehow, the majority were inside within 15 minutes. Check-in at the counter was also seamless and efficient and it should be since they conduct this rodeo multiple times each week. The good news ends there. Having successfully side-stepped the photographers minefield we arrive at the Garden Cafe, better known as the Feeding Trough, at peak feeding frenzy. NCL offers a bag check service for carry-on's but few take advantage of it, preferring to double-park their stuff under the crowded, undersized tables and in the sparse traffic aisles. This circus occurs on every ship on embarkation day. To avoid this you can grab a poolside table and take turns bringing food back or check to see if the main dining room happens to be open for lunch while in port. It rarely is. From here on we'll hit the high points and low points only. I assume you don't care to hear about anything that's considered average, standard, mundane or simply boring. The Dawn went into dry dock in May and converted the popular Spinnaker Lounge on deck twelve into suites. No longer can guests enjoy the 180 degree view with a bar during sail-away. It was also an excellent gathering space during the day plus a nighttime venue that was regularly filled with dancers and groups of partiers. The Spinnaker has been moved aft to a windowless lower deck and when we dropped in for a drink before dinner, only one other couple occupied a table. While on board we discovered this conversion had also taken place on the Dawn's sister ship, the Star. We have cancelled our April, 2012, 14 day Star repositioning from Tampa to New York. Overall, the ship is in relatively good shape if you can overlook a broken mirror in the elevator, duct tape over old signs, and some out of order public toilets. In keeping with management's marketing obsession the atrium is now cluttered daily with tables offering discounted merchandise that people didn't want on previous cruises. This greatly impedes traffic, distracts from what could be an attractive lounging area and causes generally docile adults to morph into "Black Friday" shopping mode. Our cabin on deck 9 served its purpose but if it had been six inches shorter in either direction it would have been most uncomfortable. The dirty, stained, paper thin carpet must not have gotten the memo about the dry dock refurbishing. Our efficient Room Steward did a marvelous job of cleaning the room but there wasn't anything she could do to improve that nasty carpet. Breakfast in the Garden Cafe offers everything anyone could possibly want including omelets, eggs to order and even pizza one morning. Sticky buns loaded with pecans were a welcomed surprise each day. The staff is overly accommodating and friendly for this time of morning and the "people watching" is always entertaining. Some even arrive in their PJ's and a big smile. The Jazz Brunch sounded like fun, but there was a fee attached so we passed on it. Lunch, in the same place, offers a large variety including an excellent deli, steam table fare, salads, soups, Italian, Indian, German and a hit or miss carving station. Hits include a moist, perfectly roasted turkey and a gigantic, melt in your mouth, bone-in pork roast. Where do they find hogs this size? Misses include a small, skinny, dismembered chicken and a rectangular piece of tough, tasteless beef that they would drag out every few days, saw off a few slices and return it to its cage. Another strange entree was beef stroganoff that included beets and red bell peppers. Colorful indeed. Dinner in the Aqua dining room is much quieter than in the MDR, which enhances conversation and the wait staff seems to enjoy your company. We received excellent service every night and made it a point to arrive for dinner by 6:00pm, thus avoiding waiting in line for a table. What ever happened to shrimp cocktail? With the exception of cheesecake, desserts seemed to be the product of some experiment that went terribly wrong. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to mess up a chocolate dessert, but it was done daily. Other abundant items appeared to be cloned Twinkies injected with a kind of gelatinous paste that I suspect would glow in the dark if given a chance. Breads, while light and airy, contained little flavor and I think were simply marking time before they could be used for bread pudding. Highlights on the entertainment calendar included an excellent house band, CD Paul Scally's act, Sinatra night in the Atrium and the high energy, high volume dance troupe. The Jean-Ann Ryan dance troupe is now history on the Dawn, the Pearl and I suspect other NCL ships as well. We were on the Pearl in January and the house band was also missing. All dance numbers were done rather amateurishly using "canned" music. Poor management decisions like these contribute to my impression of NCL having become the Walmart of all cruise lines. The unique itinerary and price combined to make this an interesting and affordable cruise with our balcony cabin on deck nine costing little more than a window cabin on a lower deck. This cruise included ports in the Dominican Republic, Tortola, St. Maarten, Antigua, Barbadoes, Saint Kitts and three days at sea. The rough edges of Samana, D.R. were smoothed off by the ship offering free tender service to the private island of Cayo Levantado which has a picture perfect beach and beautiful palms offering plenty of shade. Be sure to visit Saint Kitts shops and pick up several bottles of an excellent, locally produced vanilla flavored rum. Strange Behavior: Having our dinner interrupted by a staff member wanting to sign us up for a special Indian dinner at a special price--NCL now charges for a ship's tour, how tacky?--Watching a guy order two steak dinners and finishing them before we finished one--Hearing the Captain describe Samana as "Rustic" and having the CD announce it was too rough to board tenders for town but tenders are now available to take passengers to the private island--Watching a featured performer drop two slices of bacon on the floor, ignoring them, then shelling two eggs littering the table top with shells, discarding the yolks and eating only the whites with ketchup. Yucky and poor manners to boot. Disembarkation in Miami went smoothly until we were told by the Taxi dispatcher to stand in a very long line while she tried to figure out how to get us into taxi's. As we obediently waited in line, several disembarking passengers walked up and hopped into taxi's, bidding us farewell as they left the port. While the line got longer and longer we suggested the dispatcher should get some help since it was obvious she didn't know what she was doing. What a mess! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was the 10th cruise for my wife and I. We are empty-nesters, mid 50's. Have cruised on 5 different lines, but as of late our preferred cruiseline has been Norwegian. We have found the freestyle concept works well with us, we ... Read More
This was the 10th cruise for my wife and I. We are empty-nesters, mid 50's. Have cruised on 5 different lines, but as of late our preferred cruiseline has been Norwegian. We have found the freestyle concept works well with us, we love the freedom to dine anytime we want, with a great selection of venues to choose from. We took a 3 day cruise on the Sky right before this cruise, with a 2 day break before we set out on the Dawn. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and took the SAS shuttle to the port of Miami for the Sky cruise. After we disembarked Sky, we rented a car from Alamo (free shuttle from port) and stayed in beautiful Pompano Beach for 2 days. November is really a slow season for this area, we were able to score a 2 bedroom Wyndam Resort timeshare for only $150 per night. Did some Fort Lauderale sightseeing while we were in town, if you are looking for something to do, check out the Carrie B water tour. $22 for a 1.5 hour cruise around Fort Lauderdale. Get to see how the rich and famous live! We dropped off our rental at 10am, boarded the shuttle to the port and were on board just after 11am. As this ship came from Boston with no pax aboard, all rooms were ready as soon as we boarded which was great!. Explored the ship a bit and ended up at the Bimini bar for a bucket of beer. Met up with the CC group for an informal Meet and Greet, then it was off to muster drill. On the Dawn you still have to report to your muster station, but no life jackets required. So what did we think about the Dawn? After cruising on the Sky, Jewel, and Epic we had a pretty good idea of what to expect, and the ship lived up to and exceeded some of our expectations. Embarkation - best ever, but mostly due to the fact that the ship was empty prior to our arrival. We were on board and in our room shortly after 11am. Food - We chose to eat mostly in the specialty restaurants. We found long waits to get into either main dining room between 5-7pm each night. Even so, we did try Aqua twice on this cruise. The food was OK. Nothing really special, but not bad either. Service was good, no complaints. There is a new menu item now called "Regional Specialty", but the wait staff never volunteered what it was. I did ask the second time we were there, and it was a pina colada chicken. I tried it and it wasn't too bad. Not sure what they served on the other 10 nights, but if you like surprises, be sure to ask. LeBistro and Cagneys were both fantastic on this ship. Loved the open kitchen where you get to see the chefs in action. Food was very good in both venues. Be warned that if you try one of these, you will want to return! The Asian restaurant was also very good, we ordered about 4 entrees and all were top notch. Actually had too much food, but we did our best to put it all away. The Italian restaurant was mediocre, but we had a 2-4-1 coupon so for $10 it was ok. Very good service and atmosphere, but the menu does leave a bit to be desired. Moderno - we did not like this restaurant. Salad bar was nothing to write home about and we only had 3 gaucho's come to our table in the hour that we were there. The red/green card was useless when they are that slow. To top it off, the meat was not very good and a bottle of wine we wanted was not available and they never offered to look elsewhere on the ship for it. One thing to note is that reservations for any of the restaurants were never needed except for Tepanaki. Except for the last night, none of the restaurants were more than half full. We did eat breakfast and lunches at the buffet, NCL does a great job here, especially for lunch. We just loved the little sandwiches they make and the sausage/hot dog station. No complaints. We also had some late night wings in Blue Lagoon which were delicious. Entertainment - this ship had it all! Band on the Run, The hypnotist, Geri Sager (Broadway Star), the magician, Second City, Bollywood and even the Paul Scally show were all very good. We normally don't take in many shows, on this ship we hardly missed one. Ports - This was the main reason we took this cruise and we were not disappointed. We took ad-hoc tours (outside the ship) on all the islands except Samana where we decided to stay aboard. The best part was that in 5 out of 7 ports we were the only ship in port. No crowds on shore! Cabin - we had a mid-ship balcony, it was clean and roomy enough for the two of us. The split bathrooms are nice, doors on both the shower and toilet. our room steward was not the best, he never introduced himself and didn't do much more than make our bed and replace towels. One night the trap went on the sink when he was cleaning, and instead of calling a plumber, he simply placed a trash can under the trap to catch the water. We went down to guest services and it was repaired within an hour. Anyway, his service or lack of did nothing to detract from our enjoyment of this cruise. Casino - My wife and I usually spend quite a bit of time here, we found the Dawn casino to be on the small side and many of the slot machines were dated. Never had any big wins, but the casino hosts and wait staff on this ship were top notch. We received some good comps from them and they seemed to truly appreciate having us on board which we enjoyed. Debarkation - Smooth as silk. We did the self carry and were off the ship before 9am. SAS shuttle was waiting for us, and whisked us off to FLL for our flight back to Buffalo. Overall Impressions - Dawn is a great ship, and the 11 day South Caribbean cruise hits some really good ports. If anything could be improved, I would have to say the main dining room food selections. We never really found anything that said WOW to us, but that was OK. We love the specialty restaurants, the atmosphere and intimate setting makes the evening special for us compared to eating with 700 other people in the main dining room. Other than our room steward and one bartender in the casino, we found the entire crew of the Dawn to be very good. They were outgoing and seemed to genuinely care about us as a customer. My wife said this was her best cruise ever, and I have to agree with her. The combination of a sparkling ship, great crew, wonderful restaurants and fantastic ports made for a very memorable vacation. Photos from our cruise can be seen here: http://travel.webshots.com/album/581879136NVbKVL Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I booked this trip nearly a year in advance directly thru NCL. The cruise was selected primarily because of the itinerary - specifically Tortola. Had I read some of the Cruise Critic reviews before booking, I may have done something ... Read More
I booked this trip nearly a year in advance directly thru NCL. The cruise was selected primarily because of the itinerary - specifically Tortola. Had I read some of the Cruise Critic reviews before booking, I may have done something differently, but nonetheless, we sailed. Our trip began on a Sunday, we left the airport hotel around 11am with a shuttle - I believe it was $20/person, and arrived comfortably at the ship's terminal about 25 mins. later. There was already a line forming outside the doors, so we had our luggage whisked off and we began the snaking of the line thru security, and up to the check-in window. All when relatively quickly, no hitches, and we were on the ship shortly after 12:00pm. The hallways to all the rooms were sealed off, so we took our overnight bags with us and headed directly to the spa. It's our habit to book the spa pool packages whenever available. We both enjoy the peace and quite; the extra $30/day was worth it to us ($149/person). The passes are limited to 50 male/50 female, so we make sure we've secured a pass. On this particular sailing, I don't think they sold out. There was only one day that we felt a bit of a crowd, and I believe that was our first port day where the spa advertised a $30 port day spa pass. I would say that we never saw more than a dozen people in there at one time after that. Once we had our passes we headed to lunch in one of the two main dining rooms - The Venetian. We were one of only 3 tables seated when we arrived (not that many more seated by the time we left). Our service was attentive, but not intrusive. We found the waiter to be pleasant, unhurried (as he should have been), and we had a nice relaxing lunch. We ordered the tampande' as a starter, I had the Cobb salad, and I honestly can't remember my husbands entree, but we both were satisfied with the meal. After lunch, we moved to the pool area while checking out some of the other public rooms. The pool deck was nice enough. We ended up spending a lot of time there over the course of the cruise. The only day that I recall there being a shortage (or so it seemed) of chairs was the last sea day before returning to Miami. That was our best weather sea day, and the last; both my have played a factor. As a matter of fact, the chairs were in so short of supply that a couple next to us had a manager come by and remove article that another couple had laying on their chairs (saving them) since 7:30am - we know, because we had been out there continuously since then, the couple NEVER showed up. About 2 hours later, a woman came by and acted indignant that her belongings had been set to the side. Well, after a short protest with the couple next to us (and we had their back), she realized she had no leg to stand on - picked up their things and left. The was the ONLY time I saw the management act on the "no saving chairs" policy. Usually, after 2:30-3pm, the pool area begins to empty out. Our room was ready around 2:30 so we headed back. For the first time, we booked an aft balcony. I was a bit unsure after reading some comments on the message boards here about possible noise issues. I can only speak for the two of us, but we did not find any sounds too loud or disruptive. There is no "engine" noise whatsoever, and the sound of the water we found to be comparable to any balcony we've ever occupied. We would totally book another aft room! As for the room it's self - it's exactly the same size (both room and balcony) to any other standard balcony on the ship. This is not a suite size room. I will also say that on the last day, we were one of the last to leave our room (9am was the deadline), and the doors to the other aft-facing rooms were open. We peeked in and I can tell you that they were not much bigger than ours - these are not penthouse rooms by any stretch! Personally, we were very happy with our choice. The bathroom, while tiny per usual, we found to be nice in that the toilet had its own dividing door, and the shower was a walk-in with a sliding door. There was an adequate amount of storage with a shelf below the sink and a built in waste basket. The ventilation was good as well. The bedroom consisted of a queen bed, sofa and small square table. There was a built-in desk and shelf area, and a second built-in mirrored "make-up" area. The closet and draw space was plenty for us, and of course your bags get stored under the bed. Room was clean, carpet was clean; it was nice. Now the downside of the room: Our bed was VERY firm. VERY firm. Neither of us is overly picky about our mattresses, but we do sleep with memory foam at home. I asked "Mo" our cabin steward (who, btw, was a doll and we tipped heavily at the end of the cruise for his extra efforts) for an egg-crate type mattress pad, and he brought us one that next day, and it was on the bed for our second night. Made a huge difference! If you like a softer bed, ask for the mattress pad. Second negative about the room - the lowest drawer would not stay closed, at all. Not just with the boat motion, it rolled right back out as soon as you tried to close it. Needless to say, the first couple of days we had some 'ankle-biting' going on! We asked for a repair that never happened. The last "negative" about the room was our mini-frig. I wasn't cold at all the first day. I thought maybe it had been off for some reason and took a bit to cool down again. By the second day we realized it simply wasn't working. We called for maintance on that and saw a requisition copy in our room the next day. Apparently someone from maintainence came in and worked on it, but it never really got "cold". It was cooler; you could tell it was on, but definitely not a refrigerator. Those last two items may be minor, but I don't think they should be insurmountable fixes either. Let me jump to entertainment: We saw all but two shows onboard. We thoroughly enjoyed all of them. My husband was brought onstage during the magician's act, and I was hypnotized on stage the next night! The last show, "Bollywood" was excellent! Much better entertainment than we've experienced on previous cruises. The two comedy acts were the weakest of the bunch, but even those were entertaining. The band by the pool was good, if not repetitive (same song, different day). We were never awake late enough to catch the DJ in Spinnaker, but everyone who did seemed to enjoy. Overall, I would give the entertainment a "THUMBS UP". The cruise director John Salley was a hoot, and his comedy show (second to last night) was a good one to catch. Now for the food: I'm not going to give you a meal by meal run-down. Let's just say that the main dining room experience was completely under-whelming. The cover charge restaurant meals on the other hand were all tasty - La Mondero, and Le Bistro being worth the cover, La Cucina not so much. We're not gourmets, nor are we picky eaters, but honestly, this was the worst cruise ship food we've had in a long, long time. We had breakfast every morning in the 'cafeteria'. It was fine, no complaints there - what you saw was what you got. Lunches were varied. We had two of the pool-side barbeques that were fine; good burgers and grilled chicken. The salads were ok, uninventive, under seasoned, but ok - same as what you found in the cafeteria. We had 2 lunches in Venetian, the rest were either in the cafeteria or in port. Dinner is where they fall flat. My advice, skip dessert altogether - with the exception of the flan in La Mondero the first night, there was not a single dessert that we tried for the rest of the 10 days that was worth the calories. The meals in Venetian, Aqua (where we ate twice), and Blue Lagoon I would equate to sitting down at your local chain lunch/dinner restaurant. Passable, but barely. TGIFriday's served on white tablecloths. We traveled the menu searching for something tasty, but were disappointed over and over. The food experience left us with a sour taste (no pun) for this cruise line altogether - so much so that we have informally decided it was probably our last NCL cruise. It's not that they CAN'T produce a good meal, they do in the specialty restaurants, they just want to charge you (AGAIN) for it. We didn't feel that this cruise warranted an additional $40-50/night for a good dining experience. Why should we $400-500 for the food we should be served in the first place? Ports of Call: There again, good and bad. Let me start by saying we did not book any excursions thru NCL. OK, Samana- BAD. I don't want to take the space here to go into all the gossip about the day, but let's just say that NCL will divert their passengers to Cayo Laventado - a small island off the coast of Samana - for a free beach day. Don't pay for this excursion, you'll be offered it for free. We both enjoyed our beach day there, but we didn't try to get to Samana as some others had (and were denied). We LOVED Tortola because we had booked an excursion outside the ship with BVI 360. Sam Henry is the operator - pleasant guy. He drove us over to the West End, where we boarded a small boat to whisk us over to Jost Van Dyke. IF you are beach people, DO NOT MISS this trip. Jost was the best beach we experienced on this trip. Also, don't be put off by the note that you need to "swim to shore". Neither of us are swimmers (does dog-paddling count?), but the distance was probably 50 feet tops. After 5 or 6 strokes you can touch bottom - no worries there; AND they summoned a dingy to carry our belongings over to shore, so if need be, you could ride in that. Our least favorite port was Antigua, but we never ventured past the shopping district, and the vendors and street people there were obnoxious. We did here good things about the beaches there! My husband loved St. Kitts. I enjoyed it as well, but Jost was still my favorite. On St. Kitts we got a cab outside the terminal gates with "Sam the Man". He was a hoot. If you want/need a safe ride in St. Kitts, look for Sam. Anyway, he drove us to Shipwreck Bar & Grill on Friar's Beach. Lovely "cast-away" sort of feel. Rustic, but comfortable, relaxing - a perfect last port of call for us. We really enjoy our beach time. Other friends we made on board did a lot of the cultural tours and most I think were happy with those. Being from the far north, we knew our days of sun and sand were very limited, so we took full advantage! One of our routines on board was a night-cap in the Star Bar up on Deck 13, opposite Cagney's. It was always quite, with a piano playing until 9:30 or so. Rayshelle was a delightful waitress; and the bartender mixed up a mean martini. That was one of the most pleasant memories of the ship. Now, a word about the "service charge" that NCL dictates. I mentioned that we tipped our cabin steward as we left the ship. When I handed him the tip, I explained that I wasn't sure how much of our $25/day he would see, so I wanted to make sure he got what he deserved. He told me that even he wasn't sure how much he got because it was simply part of his salary. Hmmmm. So, basically, these employees don't receive a "tip". How do we as passengers even know that they receive anything? I mean, are their wages that much higher than other cruise lines? Maybe, I don't know. But our take on that policy is that the employees basically have no financial motivation to go 'above and beyond'. All and all it was a good cruise. With some extra effort in the dining rooms it could have been a great cruise. But, I think we'll be back with Celebrity on our next sailing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
1st - This was my mother's first cruise and she relished the ship, the decor, the shows, the employees, the main dinning rooms and she was amazed how much people eat at the buffet and there are always people going thru the buffet ... Read More
1st - This was my mother's first cruise and she relished the ship, the decor, the shows, the employees, the main dinning rooms and she was amazed how much people eat at the buffet and there are always people going thru the buffet line... 8th cruise - 3rd time on the dawn and I just loved it!!! I think price vs product, it is awesome. Lets not kid ourselves, this cruise was a great price compared to other lines, so if you decided to splurge that you can or you can stick to your budget. It is totally up to the customer. We had an inside cabin on deck 9 and decided to do the spa pass and it was great, just to be able to get away from the noise was well worth the price for us. I always do an inside cabin and save on the price and spoil ourselves with the spa pass. We are never in the room except to sleep and get change and it was a very comfortable room. The food at the dinning room were not as upscale as the the restaurant that you paid a cover charge but their food and portions were awesome and I felt comfortable asking for more. The speciality restaurant were very good, again we made the decision to spend extra and to do what we wanted. I do miss not having the captain dinner, love it when we did it last year... I love the option of being able to eat when I want and to do what I want... The employees were awesome and professional as always. They smile and that is a plus to me. I find some of the passengers need to understand that there is 2000 other passengers on the ship. It always make me think how other people can be rude from all around the world. The ports were awesome, Tortola (BVI360 Jost VanDyke, WOW!!), Samana (Cayo Levantado, free and nice beach), Antigua (NCL excursion, visit and beach and WOW!!! we had a private beach, visited someones home, awesome!!!), Barbados (NCL Tea Plantation, good but would not redo), St.Kitts (took a taxis to Shipwreck Bar, black sand and awesome beach!!), St.Marteen (NCL Orient Beach, tour guide was great!!!, beach nice!!) We stayed at the Sheraton Miami airport and got a shuttle to Port, good price and taxi back was about $26 for the ride, parking $60.00 for 10 days. Beds were heavenly and no noise. Hotel price is good. I can honestly say that the prices for drinks are expensive on the ship (beer bucket is a good deal) but again there are options, the drinks in ports are cheap and there is always water, tea and juice. It is always your choice of how much you want to spend while on your cruise. I love NCL for that option. I will most probably cruise again with NCL, I will also most probably try other cruise lines. But for a 10 day cruise, this cruise was the most affordable for myself and my mother. I like to be free while on a cruise in the sense NO set schedule. This cruise was for creating memories in time and it was 100% accomplished!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This is my 5th NCL cruise and my 4th time on the Dawn (3 other times were prior to the refurb) and I have to say that in almost every area NCL exceeded my expectations. The embarkation in Miami was fast and we were onboard in less that ... Read More
This is my 5th NCL cruise and my 4th time on the Dawn (3 other times were prior to the refurb) and I have to say that in almost every area NCL exceeded my expectations. The embarkation in Miami was fast and we were onboard in less that 15 minutes even though we went at 12:00PM. Cabins were not ready yet, which was fine, so they directed us to the buffet and pool where we got to enjoy the Miami sunshine for about 30 minutes before we could head down to check out our cabin and put away our luggage. Our luggage came within 2 hours and we were unpacked before sailing. The refurb helped clean up a few ragged carpets and for the most part helped the ship. The only thing that they changed which I didn't think was for the better was moving the Blue Lagoon (diner style) restaurant to a more formal space. It was odd to eat that kind of food in a formal setting but the food was good none the less. Main dining rooms were good for cruise ship fair (some food was much better than others) but the staff and the overall dining experience was good. It was nice to have a few items as a permanent menu choice as well as nightly specials so you could order something you liked again. Breakfast buffet was far superior to any other cruise I have been on with Eggs Benedict, eggs and omelets to order and waffles every day. Lunch at the buffet was better than average with the only thing I didn't care for being the pizza. It wasn't really pizza, rather, it was thin bread (kind of pita like) with pizza toppings. Specialty restaurants were outstanding!!!! We ate in Le Bistro, Cagney's (twice), and La Cucina and would gladly pay the extra money for the food and service we received. I would recommend saving $100-$200 just to experience these restaurants. Even if you add it into the total cost of your cruise from the beginning it is 10000% worth it. The ports we visited were wonderful as well. There was a variety of shore excursions ( although we didn't take any) as well as independent tours to take in each stop.Pool area is laid out well with the tiers of deck chairs you can be quite far away from the pool and still hear/see everything. We had amazing weather so getting a chair was hard at times unless you wanted to sit in the shade 2 decks away from the pool. Get there early if you want a good seat! It was also nice that the pool was open from 5AM-11PM so you could take a dip or relax in the hot tub after dinner. Entertainment was good overall. Cruise director Paul Scally was hilarious and did a stand up show that was outstanding! Second City was funny and the magician had some good tricks. Since this was a longer cruise some acts reappeared which I didn't care for but from what other guests said they were fine both times. Only negatives I would say are a lack of activities during the days at sea. Other cruise lines offer more in terms of lectures, games, arts & crafts, etc. but NCL had the 1st Casino by the pool that I have seen which is pretty cool. Overall, great cruise that I would recommend to anyone looking for an affordable vacation with good food and lots of options. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We just come back from this 11 day southern Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. The boat was beautiful but the public spaces lacked seating. The Stardust theater was big and the seating was done that everyone could see. The leg room ... Read More
We just come back from this 11 day southern Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. The boat was beautiful but the public spaces lacked seating. The Stardust theater was big and the seating was done that everyone could see. The leg room was a bit short. The bathroom in the cabin was the biggest one we have seen on any of our other sailings, especially the shower. The cabin was a bit small. With the two twins pushed together, there as only space on the one side of the bed to get out. The other person had to crawl over the bed. The food at the main dinning rooms were good but lack variety. Half the menu did not change every night. It stayed the same for all 11 days. The other half did change but did not offer a great variety. I felt like if I wanted variety, such as Italian, Mexican or steak, they wanted us to go to the special restaurants that had an up charge to eat there. We choose not to eat at any additional charge restaurant. The Garden Cafe was average, no better than say the "Golden Coral". It had a big variety, but just the same each day. The one item I did like was the carving station. The meat there was tasty. The seating in the Garden Cafe was so tight, that once people were seated you could not get through the aisles. Very tight. We did eat at the Blue Lagoon, after we found out there was no up charge. The food here was good and offered several meals, but once again the menu did not change. My husband manage to catch a cold on board and we went to see the doctor. Upon walking in the door we were told the charge was $110.00 to see the doctor plus and prescriptions medicines. We walked out. They should have a fee more like $20 to $30 plus medication and passengers would use them and then not infect other passengers. By the time we arrive back in Miami, many people on board were coughing and sick. Drinks were too expensive at $8.95 or more each and draft beers at $5.50 is too much. I usually play Bingo but when I saw the prices that start at $39 up to $69 I choose not to play. The winnings were only $150 per game and I had to spend at least $39 to have a chance. No thanks. The best part was the entertainment on board. All the shows were great. The ship board cast were very good and talented. The comedian was funny and the shows had good variety. Before each show, the Assistant Cruise Director was selling pull tabs. Just another way to get money from the passengers. Seems like every time you turned around, NCL was looking for money. Another money maker for them was the internet. They offered several packages, one at $150, $100 and a pay as you go, at $.75 per minute. I did use these services on a pay as I go plan, which I thought was very expensive. I only used it to communicate with our son a few times during the voyage. Many of the passengers took their laptops off the ship with them at port and used the free Wi-Fi there. We have cruised many times over the years, we like some of the changes, like freestyle dinning but don't like up charges and all the other additional charges and overpriced drinks, bingo and internet. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Norwegian Dawn 11/02/11 - 11/13/11 I am not a first time cruiser nor a first time cruiser with NCL ... but I haven't sailed with NCL in the past 2 years ... I have sailed on the Pearl, Jewel, and the Sun. The Dawn is my least ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn 11/02/11 - 11/13/11 I am not a first time cruiser nor a first time cruiser with NCL ... but I haven't sailed with NCL in the past 2 years ... I have sailed on the Pearl, Jewel, and the Sun. The Dawn is my least favorite NCL ship for many reasons. Embarkation in Miami was typical with a 20 minute embarkation. Nothing special one way or the other. Once we were aboard, we settled in at the Bimini Bar to meet other Cruise Critic folks. So far, so good ... the folks from Cruise Critic are awesome and were the highlight of the cruise! From there, most things went downhill. The ship is reasonably clean and in "OK" condition. It is not pristine ... broken mirrors in elevators, an ice/water machine in the buffet line that was broken for the entire cruise, broken backs on chaise lounges ... not awful but annoying. On the plus side, hand sanitizers and reminders to "wash your hands" are everywhere. The cabin was "OK" ... clean but had a few items in disrepair ... very leaky faucet, sliding panel in bathroom kept falling off the slides, annoying sounds (squeaks and rattles) in the ceiling. Housekeeping staff was friendly but appeared overworked. Our cabin wasn't made up until after 2pm despite using the "make up cabin" sign each day at 6:30am. After a few days we mostly gave up and just obtained fresh towels when we needed them ... if the room wasn't done until evening it didn't really impact our activities. Please keep in mind I have sailed with NCL frequently up to 2 years ago. On this cruise, the food was mediocre at best. Clearly not at all like the NCL of 2 years ago. Main dining in both the Venetian and Aqua suffered from both poor service and poor quality. To put it another way, I would rather eat at Ruby Tuesdays or Outback! ... and did I mention the dining room music is so LOUD you can't have a conversation with people at your table? The Garden Cafe (buffet) was better than main dining. Pretty typical but you could put together a decent meal by "grazing" from one section to another. Lunch meals at the "Deli" in the buffet had good selections of Knockwurst, Bratwurst, sausages, sandwiches and salads ... actually, quite good. The Blue Lagoon on deck 8 serves wings, burgers, chicken fingers, fish and chips ... but again the service was terrible with bad attitudes and sloooooow taking of orders and delivery .... and forget about a a refill of your water glass. Once again, the music was so loud you couldn't wait to get out. The Bimini Grill on deck 14 which serves burgers, dogs and fries was actually a decent choice but had hours of operation that were a bit odd ... closed at 6pm when you might just want a burger for dinner. We did not eat at any of the numerous specialty restaurants on the ship ... I assumed that if the "regular" meals were mediocre the Up-Charge dining wasn't much better ... besides, by this time, I wasn't about to pay extra. It appears NCL has decided to hold down the cost of cruising by providing poor service (fewer crew members) and mediocre regular meals while attempting to boost revenue thru Up-Charged dining. Topside around the pool it was obvious there were fewer crew members ... you seldom were asked if you wanted bar service ... mostly, if you wanted a drink, you went to the bar yourself (good news/bad news depending on your viewpoint). Pool Band was awful ... nuf' said. Entertainment and other activities were pretty good ... plenty to do if you wanted to. Production company (singers/dancers) were quite good. Pursers Desk and Excursion Desk were very good ... smiles and competency ... a pleasant change. The ports and excursions were fine ... a trip to Jost Van Dyke (from Tortola) was worth every penny and I'm still smiling! It's a "bucket list" experience! Overall, regardless of price, I would think hard about another NCL cruise. I'll be sailing Princess next month (I've been on Princess a few times but not in the last 2 years) so it will probably be a valid comparison. Thanks to the nice folks we met from Cruise Critic and the great Scuba Diving in Barbados and St. Kitts, we still enjoyed our vacation ... not much praise for NCL though. Bye the way, did I mention the Tapas Bar is gone and the Dawn Class ships don't have a "Great Outdoors" (the outside dining on the stern of Jewel Class and the Sun)? ... 2 features I REALLY miss. The Tapas Bar was replaced with an Up-Charge Brazilian Restaurant ... yup ... more Up-Charge and less "included". Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Here is a review of the 11 night cruise that sailed on 11/02/11 and returned 11/13/11. This is my first time on NCL and unless I get a knockout deal like I did this time, it may be my last. My wife and I were able to get a mid-ship ... Read More
Here is a review of the 11 night cruise that sailed on 11/02/11 and returned 11/13/11. This is my first time on NCL and unless I get a knockout deal like I did this time, it may be my last. My wife and I were able to get a mid-ship mini-suite with balcony while our 2 children sailed for free. Embarkation out of Miami I thought was a breeze. There was a minimal wait, 15-20 minutes, but once things got flowing it went very quick, with no hitches at all. In fact it may have been one of the smoothest boardings in the 10 cruises we have done. Once on the ship, the staff was pleasant enough, but soon after we noticed a lot of small things that were really minor, but I guess we were surprised that they were not addressed. Especially since the ship sailed empty from Boston so there were a few days to really go over the ship. Things like missing elevator buttons, missing and or broken signs in the elevator. Small trim around the ship, again damaged or missing. It just seemed odd, as we sailed on Carnival twice before and the rest with RCL i think we were expecting a step up in "class" if you will from those other 2 lines. Once in the room, we found it spacious, neat and clean of course. Balcony was of decent size, with one reclining chair and one regular chair with matching small table for our use. Looking out from our balcony to the overhang from deck 12 we noticed large sponges wedged in a few places on the overhang for a reason I can't even guess at. Unsightly but not bothersome. One huge difference from RCL and a major sticking point for us was the fact that the kids camp was free only when we were sailing. When docked it is $10 an hour for 2 children, which altered our plans on port days. Admittedly I did not look into this as i assumed they were like RCL, and you know what happens when you assume. Anyhow, the kids seemed to like the kids camp, but were not crazy over it like on RCL. It seems that they kept playing the same games, and there was not much free play. The children did say they staff was friendly and really like "Animal" and "wiggles", 2 members of the kids camp staff. The food was overall just OK, with the Aqua dining room, serving fairly bland tasting dishes, with shockingly poor service, on every night we went there. Orders were wrong, no bar service whatsoever, coffee served 10 minutes before dessert arrived. Again a lot of little things. Venetian dining room seemed to offer a bit better tasting food with much better service. Waits were minimal on most nights for both dining rooms. The Blue Lagoon on deck 8 serves comfort food, wings, burgers, chicken fingers, fish and chips. An decent option from the buffet slop on deck 12, but again the service in the Blue Lagoon matched the Aqua. The staff was mostly inattentive and one time down right surly. Once cheesecake was served, with the coffee that was ordered with it showing up 5 minutes later, another gaff was getting numerous bones stuck in my throat from the fish. In 35 years of eating fish & chips I have never come across bones in that meal until the Dawn. Once again small details that they missed, though the fish bones goof was kinda major & a bit scary until I dislodged them. The Garden Cafe on deck 12 is the buffet, and it is was most buffets are , mass quantities of bland food. The carving station selection was always dry, never were green vegetables offered unless they were in the Indian section and that was only occasionally and was always steamed broccoli. I know onion adds a lot of flavor to dishes, but it seemed like ever side dish, rice with veggies, or the hash browns etc had onion in them. Being allergic to onions, made my options slim in the cafe, but seeing the food was pretty much uneventful I don't think I missed much. More cafe misses were the oatmeal. Every day but one it was as runny as soup. The orange juice is not really orange juice but an orange juice cocktail with high fructose corn syrup listed as one of the first ingredients. Yes I looked at the empty carton as a worker was refilling the station, which he snatched out of my hands as if I was trying take his wallet or something. On the plus side for the cafe I found the made to order omelet stations on point, and the happy, happy, washy , washy lady spraying hand sanitizer seemed to be genuinely liking what she was doing. The Bimini Bar & Grill on deck 14 which serves burgers, dogs and fries from 2 to 6 pm was a decent choice, as most of the crowd choose the Garden Cafe buffet on deck 12, it left us no fighting to find a table, or waiting for more food to come out, though it was a bit windy up there at times. We did not eat at any of the numerous specialty restaurants on the ship, but I will say it did smell great as we walked past them. The best meal I had was when they did a cookout on the pool deck on one of the sea days. Burgers, dogs & chicken cooked over charcoal was a nice break from the bland dining rooms. They had a killer looking giant wok filled with pasta, sausage and veggies, which i had to avoid do to the onions. It sure looked and smelled great. Sprinkles the Ice Cream bar on the pool deck was a really nice feature, serving what seemed to be real ice cream from 12 to 5:30 or so. On one of the first days on board we checked a game of Monopoly out from the Library. I was shocked to find the game was missing 90% of the pieces. I understand a few things may go missing but the game had no dice, no money etc, who checks these things? This is the stuff that bugs me. We found the entertainment on board pretty boring, especially the special guests. I understand comedy is subjective, some find certain things funny that others don't, but the fat comedian, was exceptionally boring, and he is the Grandfather of the Dawn, so i guess it's just me on that one, because somebody must like him if he's around that long. The trivia games are usually read by someone whose English is obviously a SECOND language, with many interruptions to repeat, or spell out something they just read. That got old by day 4. They kept saying your playing for cheap, crappy plastic prizes, and hats off to NCL for being upfront. The giveaways were truly throwaways. Better prizes are certainly needed down the road. The music talent on the ship was decent, with the reggae band the best of the lot. I found them to be very listenable no matter what venue they were playing in. The highlight was the cabin and the person who was responsible for it's upkeep. He did a fantastic job and really kept up with giant messes me and the kids made. On won't go into the ports, it's all in what you do there. I will say one thing, Samana avoid it at all costs. Overall it was an OK cruise we had a great time on all the Islands after Samana, I just think that the Dawn needs more polish and attention to details, it was a good cruise for the price. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We went on the 9 day southern Caribbean cruise out of Miami that left port on April 22nd. We arrived at the port of Miami about 11:30 and check in went fast. We were on-board about 12:15. Our cabin would not be ready till after 1:00 so we ... Read More
We went on the 9 day southern Caribbean cruise out of Miami that left port on April 22nd. We arrived at the port of Miami about 11:30 and check in went fast. We were on-board about 12:15. Our cabin would not be ready till after 1:00 so we headed up to the buffet on deck 12. I walked around the stations and was disappointed on the selection that they had. I tried the pizza and was tasted like it was from frozen. On Princess and Royal Caribbean you can make a meal from there pizza I took a bite and left on the table. Most of what they had tasted like it was left over from the past cruise or from a mix. This ship is set for dry dock after this cruise and not a minuet too soon all over the ship was bucket to catch leaks from the ceiling about 10- 25 buckets and towels around the ship. we went to our cabin an inside on deck 10 and it was fine, the bed was comfortable and had a real shower not a tube shower on most. I have been on 25 plus cruises in the past 20 years this it where NCL needs to step it up. Food! Looks like there cutting back on that the selections were not great a lot of pork and chicken. Forget about a scrimp cocktail if you want that $15 the food for the most part came cold and took a while till it got to you. on the night they had lobster tails it came cold and rubbery. The entertainment was good. We had Matt Baker on his last cruise with NCL. This man is a talent was most enjoyable and will be hard to fill his shoes. I know that all cruise lines are cutting back but NCL takes to a new level. On the night they had scrimp I order the scrimp scampi. It was 3 yes 3 small scrimp with some rice that was the entree. They almost want you to go to there 8 per fee restaurants just so you can get a decent meal.I went to check out the spa from the moment we want in the sales pitch began we had a 20 minuet tour and ask about using the steam room guess what they charge you a minimum of $35 a day just to use an on board facility. I don't think Princess or Royal Caribbean does. Based on the other Cruise line we have been on NCK didn't measure up. I would not recommend this line when there are other choices out there Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We had a great time. It was my first cruise, my wife's third cruise but first with NCL. We had a great time. Glad I read the horror stories upon our return. Common sense says never cruise or spend time in a resort during Spring break ... Read More
We had a great time. It was my first cruise, my wife's third cruise but first with NCL. We had a great time. Glad I read the horror stories upon our return. Common sense says never cruise or spend time in a resort during Spring break anywhere. The Dawn had some things that were tired but I didn't find it intolerable. It was headed to dry dock for refurbish work once we got back to Miami.We flew into Miami the day before and enjoyed dining on the water. It allowed us to relax and take our time the next morning before boarding the ship. Embarkation went smoothly as we stood on the front of the ship. The room had more size than we imagined. We were mid ship on the 5th with a window. It was quiet. In the future, we'll most likely upgrade to a suite with a balcony.The entertainment for the most part was good. Second City was good when scripted, but the improv family night was pretty much a miss for us. The onboard singers were good and made for some good entertainment. We enjoyed sitting in the Gatsby drinking champagne cocktails and listening to the music. We also enjoy sitting on the deck below the Bemini bar to read. The servers would deliver the drinks and were very nice. The drinks at any of the bars were always very good. I only had one poorly made drink the entire time.The food was good and the service was great. We ate a couple of times in the Venetian but it always seemed too busy. We ate once in Aqua which was good. We ate at the Blue Lagoon when we were in the mood for pub food. We ate in the buffet most of the time because of the large variety of options. My biggest disappointment with the food was the desserts. They were for the most part, not very good.. We ate only once at the Salsa for a change of pace.We did not sign up for the excursions as we thought they were a bit pricey. Samana didn't have much since we didn't do an excursion, but we shopped a little and sat by the water enjoying the view over a couple of beers. Tortola, Barbados and St. Kitts were fun adventures. We joined other people on shore and had taxi vans take us on a tour. It was very inexpensive and interesting to learn about each place. We also enjoyed the stops along the way. Antigua for us was more about the shopping. We enjoyed the shopping pretty much every place we stopped.We found the staff overall to be very helpful, very friendly, and we enjoyed talking to them and learning about their home.We'll cruise again with NCL. We will most likely pick a larger, newer ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We were excited to finally get to go on an NCL cruise. The Dawn, at first, seemed fine. However, as the cruise went on, we noticed more and more buckets catching water drips from the ceilings and towels laid down on the floor as well. One ... Read More
We were excited to finally get to go on an NCL cruise. The Dawn, at first, seemed fine. However, as the cruise went on, we noticed more and more buckets catching water drips from the ceilings and towels laid down on the floor as well. One of the public bathrooms near the main pool and elevator had "water" all over the floor and didn't seem taken care of anymore. We were excited also about the dining options but then figured out that there were more "pay-extra-to-eat" restaurants than the "free" restaurants. We ate mostly at the free ones and that meant really 2 sit down options. Of course there was still the buffet and the 24-hr dining option but as far as sit down free dinner restaurants, it's basically the Aqua and the Venetian. Both had good food. Nothing to write home about. All in our party were honestly not impressed. The kids play room was excellent. I have 3 children, all in different age groups and all had a great time. We hardly saw our teenager, she made many new friends, and all the teens had to be back in their rooms by 1am. The kids pool, which is where we spent most of our at-sea days, was a lot of fun. The kids were there for many hours each day. However, you have to supervise your children while they are there and there's hardly any shade. If you are in the shade, you can't keep an eye on your kids. There also weren't enough seats for adults to sit on while the children played. Lastly, we had some older kids and even some adults that were using the kids pool/slide making it harder for the little ones to get to play there. NCL should provide some occasional supervision for those purposes. The shows were great, the buffet food was pretty good actually. The desserts weren't though. Only option for free drinks were water, iced tea and coffee. If your kids don't drink tea or water, you're in trouble. Offering juices or lemonade would have been nice. Our cruise director was AWESOME! I'd follow him anywhere! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
On April 07th, we embarked on our first cruise. It left from Miami and we had absolutely no problems embarking. It was simple and quick.The ship - The Dawn is a beautiful ship. Sure it could use a bit of updating in the areas of carpet ... Read More
On April 07th, we embarked on our first cruise. It left from Miami and we had absolutely no problems embarking. It was simple and quick.The ship - The Dawn is a beautiful ship. Sure it could use a bit of updating in the areas of carpet but the decor is still impressive. Our statement had an oceanview, was clean and had plenty of space and storage for everything. It was quiet at night. Our steward took excellent care of us during our voyage.The food - I loved the food! I am a very picky, health conscious eater and I was quite impressed with the variety. The desserts were fabulous. We ate at the Garden Cafe, the Venetian, Aqua, Blue Lagoon, Impressions and the Salsa. Both of the main dining rooms are as good as the restaurants where you have to pay a surcharge. The entertainment - Wow... Second City performed several times. We saw a hypnotist, stand up comedian, illusionist, a ballywood/cirque de soleil type of show and another show put on by the Dawns' production team. I enjoyed all of the shows. We participated in the Quest game show... loads of fun!The ship during the day - there is no lack of things to do. We attended sessions on improving your memory, self-hypnosis, art auctions, etc. Lots of quiet spaces for reading. Nice pool area. The bars - nice! Great drinks. Good service. Good performers.The excursions - we did a NCL excursion in each stop. My favourite was the Brewers Beach... what a spot. I felt very safe and looked after in each location. We did a beach excursion in each spot and still had time to return to the port and do a bit of shopping. St. Kitts had the best shopping.Disembarkment - was a breeze. All and all, it was a wonderful, stress-free week. I would definitely take another NCL cruise! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This is my review of my recent Norwegian DAWN Cruise. After reading all the recent negative reviews I was nervous. I disagree with all the negative reviews except for the food. I did see buckets, I counted 9 throughout my trip. They ... Read More
This is my review of my recent Norwegian DAWN Cruise. After reading all the recent negative reviews I was nervous. I disagree with all the negative reviews except for the food. I did see buckets, I counted 9 throughout my trip. They didn't bother me at all. All the workers on the ship were as polite as they could be. Everyone smiled and went out of their way to help if needed. We purchased the soda card and never had a problem getting a soda anywhere on the ship. Even the staff at the buffet would take an order for a soda with a smile. We never had any trouble finding a table for 5 at the buffet, plenty were available at all different times. We did not find anyone pushing us to buy anything. I'll start with embarkation. No problem checking in but there was a delay in boarding the ship because of problems with the guests on the private charter, which sailed the week before us. We checked in about 11:45, we boarded about 1:30 and the rooms were ready about 2:30. We had lunch in the Venetian, it was OK. Here's my only negative of the entire cruise, the food. I was not happy with the food on this cruise. I've been on Norwegian, I've also been on the Dawn and the food went way down hill. The selections were boring and most were tasteless. My best meals in the MDR was the chicken from the every day menu, the lobster and the ceasar salad. One night the special in the MDR was Mexican Meatballs, really? Meatballs? They tasted like taco meat. The best desert all week was the chocolate truffle cake on the everyday menu. The deserts were all pudding or flan like. There was no actual cake. It was like something they would serve in a retirement community cafeteria. The service was excellent, no problem there. We found that the service and atmosphere in the Aqua was much better than the Venetian. The Venetian always seemed very hectic. We dined at Salsa, Cagney's and Impressions. Was not impressed at all with the food in either place. The best thing we had in Salsa was the crab dip they put on the table with the chips. Impressions was just plain bad. The appetizers were good but the meal was bad. Service, again GREAT! We celebrated my DD15 birthday in Cagney's on Thursday. Again, the service was great but the food just good. I had the Lobster, $35.00, and I found it to be good but it was no better than the free one I had on Saturday and the MDR. It was not one big tail but two small ones, looked just like the one from the MDR. My mother had the Lamb Chops and said they were FABULOUS, DH had the filet and enjoyed it. The buffet for breakfast and lunch were great. Plenty of choices for everyone. And who could resist those pretzel rolls at lunch!? I ate my fair share. I traveled with a peanut allergy and everyone onboard was very helpful and knowledgeable and I was very comfortable eating what they suggested was safe for me. I had no problems. We went to all the shows, they were all great! The only one that was so/so was the Hypnotist, the Mesmerizing Brenda Kaye. The ventriloquist was very funny!! Matt Baker, the cruise director, and Asly, the assistant were the BEST. We loved them! The late night game shows were hysterical. The Liars Club is not to be missed! Bingo, I thought, was a ripoff. They made so much money and probably only gave away about 30 or 40% of it. Not too expensive to play but the prizes just weren't adding up. Dave Heenan, the comedian, was GREAT! Patti and Jose in the Atrium drew a big crowd but I could take or leave them. We're not drinkers so I can't comment on the bars or bar service.The pool area was always crowded on sea days, but that's the way it is on all ships. We had no problem finding places to sit but never anywhere near the pool. Lots of great places to sit, relax and read a book throughout the ship. We used the game room a few times and enjoyed the games they supplied. Were were in the handicapped accessible room 8620. I have pictures if anyone wants to see them. It was the first room right past the Salsa Restaurant. The room was very nice, plenty of room to accommodate. We had an obstructed ocean view full sized window. The view was beautiful. The only obstruction was a life boat but it was under and above the window. We could see straight out. The only thing with that room is that the kitchen for Salsa is right across the hall and sometimes the smells of different foods would take over our cabin. Also another thing that might bother some but did not bother us is the Atrium is so close and you could here the music very loudly in the room. If you're an early sleeper that might be a problem.All ports of call were great. In Samana we did the Cayo Levatado beach escape. It was beautiful. We were the only ship there so it wasn't crowded at all. I would suggest not eating there though. The food was bad and not worth paying for when you could get it free on the ship. Tortola just some shopping, nothing close though, lots of walking. DH went fly fishing for Tarpon. He booked it independently through the computer. He had a great time but caught no Tarpon. Antigua DD and DH went zip lining. They had an awesome time. Barbados snorkeling with sea turtles, EXCELLENT! St Kitts, shopping, EXCELLENT area to shop! DH went golfing with Aaron the NIKE golf pro aboard the Dawn.The teen club was non-existent. There were only about 30 teens on board and only 2 really showed up to join. The counselor in the teen club was not very friendly and did not go out of her way to introduce herself to my DD or the 1 other teen. DD did not go back. She was a bit disappointed but enjoyed her time with us seeing the shows and enjoying the ship. The casino, well, I made a pretty good deposit. That's all I can say about that. We had a great trip and would definitely cruise the Dawn again. Hopefully they will address the bad food reviews. I would love to answer any questions if anyone has any. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Background: My wife and I were on the March 25 Southern Caribbean 9 Day sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. We had previously sailed on Princess the past three springs to the Caribbean.Pre-Cruise: We flew into Miami the day before the cruise ... Read More
Background: My wife and I were on the March 25 Southern Caribbean 9 Day sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. We had previously sailed on Princess the past three springs to the Caribbean.Pre-Cruise: We flew into Miami the day before the cruise and took a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel near the Port of Miami.The Intercontinental-Using tips from the Cruise Critic Ports Board we were able to get a very good last minute rate from LastMinuteTravel. Our total cost was less than if we had stayed at other hotels we were considering near the Blue Lagoon Area by MIA. This is a large hotel located on Biscayne Bay very close to the port. It is close to Bayside Marketplace which has many restaurants along with some shops and is the starting point for both land and water tours. We ate lunch at Bayside and did an afternoon and evening tour of Miami Beach. The next morning we picked up breakfast at the Starbuck's in the lobby of the hotel and after eating took a short cab ride to the pier. We were extremely happy with the IC. Embarkation: We arrived around 12:30. Everything went smoothly. Porters took our tagged luggage right from our cab driver and we got in line to enter the terminal building. We were done with check in at about 1:00 and were ready to proceed through security. We had water in our carry on bags and this resulted in an extra step for an inspection of all our carry on luggage. It would have been much easier if we had just put the water in our tag bags that we gave to the porters. Even with the delay we were on the ship by 1:15. GRADE A-Ship: The condition of the ship was much better than what we expected from recent reports. Sure it is need of it's impending refurbishment, but we did not let any minor age problems ruin our vacation. Seats are worn in the theater, televisions, towels and bedding need replacing in the rooms, and there are a few leaks here and there by so what? We had wonderful weather, met great new friends, and the itinerary was the best of our four Caribbean cruises. The ship layout was basically a scaled down version of the larger ships we had previously cruised on. Buffet and pools near the top, atrium with shops and most restaurants on middle decks, theater forward, and bars & lounges scattered throughout the ship. We thought that the muster drill on NCL was much better and quicker than on Princess and liked that no life vests were required.GRADE B Stateroom: We had an oceanview cabin on Deck 8 aft. I had done a lot of research prior to booking this cabin which was the last one before the suites in the back. We had other cabins above us and the Galeria Shops right below. The location was perfect and we heard very little noise during our nine days. The room itself is in need of refurbishment. As mentioned above, the bedding is worn, towels need to be replaced, and the television is in very bad shape. The room size was a bit smaller than comparable staterooms we have stayed in on Princess. One big plus however is the shower. It was much larger than those on Princess. One other difference is that all soaps, shampoo, and body wash come out of pump dispensers. There was no hair conditioner so make sure you bring your own. GRADE C Dining: We enjoyed the concept of Freestyle Dining. We did not make any reservations other than one brunch during our nine days. Except for one night, we were always able to get a table for two at any dining location we went to. We did not eat at the specialty restaurants. Our meals were mostly at the Main Dining Rooms Aqua and Venetian along with some meals at the Garden Cafe and Blue Lagoon.Venetian & Aqua-We found Venetian to be much better than Aqua in terms of service and ambiance. Entering the Venetian by going down an ornate staircase, being greeted by servers on the steps, listening to piano music while you ate, and having ocean views on three sides of the room made for a much more enjoyable meal. We also thought that actual table service was quite better in the Venetian. We were eating off of the same menu but the experience was just nicer and more relaxing in the Venetian. As for the quality of food, we thought appetizers, soups, salads, steaks, and most meat dishes were very good but were shocked at how few good desserts there were. Other than bread pudding it seemed as though a lot of the selections were jello like out of molds. Garden Cafe and Blue Lagoon-We found the foods at the buffet to be very average. Breakfast was good but lunch and dinner offerings were lacking. Most nights we would go up to the Garden Cafe, look at what was available and then go down to the Main Dining Rooms. Again desserts seemed jello like with the only bright spot being the Chocoholic Buffet that was offered one night. The Blue Lagoon had fish and chips, chicken wings, soups, hot dogs, and hamburgers and such but again we thought it was just average.Jose' and Patti Brunch-This was the highlight eating event for us. It was held in the Venetian Dining Room and included a Breakfast, Bread and Dessert items buffet style along with being able to additionally order a meal off of a limited menu from the Le Bistro Restaurant. It was a great value for a cover charge of $15. We a grilled fillet with bearnaise sauce, tiger shrimp, potatoes, and broccoli along with the items from the brunch buffet. Chateaubriand, Salmon, and other items were also available on the Le Bistro Menu. For this occasion the desserts were fantastic (creme brule, etc.). In addition, you got to enjoy the great music of Jose' and Patti while you dined.General food notes-Coffee was very good, soft serve ice cream was available in the afternoon at the Garden Cafe, hand dipped ice cream was available in three flavors at Sprinkles from 12-5 and pizza was also available at the Garden Cafe. There was a poolside BBQ on all sea days and you could get grilled items at the Bimini Bar & Grill two decks up from the pool. GRADE BEntertainment: This is the area where NCL excelled. We attended all shows that were presented in the theater. Two of the three production shows were excellent, Band on the Run and Bollywood. The Cruise Director Matt Baker was the best ever. Also good were Comedian Dave Heenan, Second City, Magician Greg Gleason, Juggler Mark Angelo, and Hypnotist Brenda Kaye. Our favorite of all were Jose' and Patti. They performed throughout the nine days in various locations doing many different shows with a musical library of close to 1,000 songs. They are amazing. We also liked the final nights productions show that was followed by staff coming on stage and thanking you for cruising with NCL. They also lined up and thanked you as you were leaving the theater. A nice touch. GRADE A+Cabin Service: We received excellent service from our cabin attendants on this cruise. The ice bucket was always full, room serviced when requested, and towel animals at turn down at night. Only negative was having to ask for pool towels some nights. We like NCL's use of a rotating sign built into the stateroom door. You can select Make Up Room, Turn Down Service, Do Not Disturb, or Welcome. GRADE A-El Dorado Spa: We signed up for the Spa Pass for the entirety of the cruise. It was limited to 50 people of each sex. It included use of a coed lap pool, two hot tubs, and a quiet viewing area off the back of the ship. All the facilities were indoors and adult only. The woman's locker room included a sauna and steam room while the man's had a sauna, steam room, and Japanese hot and cold plunge baths. There were also separate woman's and man's quiet reading rooms. We enjoyed our peaceful time relaxing in the spa and met many new friends there.GRADE ADisembarkation: Very easy. NCL lets you pick your time to disembark. We had a set time because we were going on an excursion. We met in the theater and were led off of the ship, picked up our luggage, went through customs, loaded on a bus and were off to the Everglades and on to MIA. Very Easy. GRADE APorts: See Ports Review Section except for Samana. Wonderful time on Cayo Levantado. Did NCL Cayo Levantado Beach Escape with Seal Lion Adventure. Resort tenders take you right from ship to private island. Beach was beautiful. Spent time with female sea lion on land and then with male in water. Highly Recommend.Overall: We truly enjoyed our cruise on the NCL Dawn. GRADE A- Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This cruise was wonderful! From the time we checked in to when we left, the staff was attentive, efficient, and very friendly making sure all our needs were met.The room was small, but certainly sufficient for our needs. It was always ... Read More
This cruise was wonderful! From the time we checked in to when we left, the staff was attentive, efficient, and very friendly making sure all our needs were met.The room was small, but certainly sufficient for our needs. It was always clean and ready for us. The balcony had 2 chairs, one that reclined and a table so you could sit out there and just enjoy the ocean or looking at the ports when we were docked.The food was great! We did go to 4 specialty restaurants and really enjoyed them. Most of the mornings and afternoons we went to the buffet. The selection of fruits and salads was great and we did have corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's day. We went to the Venetian Restaurant a few times and often seated where we could see the ocean from the large windows.The excursions offered many different options from adventure to just sitting and taking an island tour. In St. Kitts we did some shopping and then asked at a taxi stand for an hour tour. It was $30 for the taxi and the driver took us to some beautiful areas. In Antigua we did the kayaking adventure that also included snorkeling. It was such fun and the guide was patient and knowledgeable.The entertainment was very good. The cruise director, Matt Baker, was just great! The shows were varied and good, the comedians were fantastic. There was always some type of activity happening. Although we did not travel with children, there was a section of the ship reserved for them. They had their own pools as well as arcades for the older children and a basketball court. All in all, the freestyle cruising is the way to go for us. Eating wherever we wanted and whenever we wanted was just great. And unless you want to, there is no need for fancy clothes. Thank you Matt Baker and the entire crew of the Norwegian Dawn for a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We were quite concerned about travelling on the Dawn considering the terrible things we read about it...buckets collecting water, dirty, terrible service, falling apart! However, we had a wonderful time on a great ship. Everything from ... Read More
We were quite concerned about travelling on the Dawn considering the terrible things we read about it...buckets collecting water, dirty, terrible service, falling apart! However, we had a wonderful time on a great ship. Everything from embarkation (which only took about 15 minutes even at 1pm) to debarkation was smooth and stress free.Ship: The ship is very nice. Overall not as nice as the Gem but still really nice. We did not see one bucket collecting water and she is certainly not falling apart. Of course there are things that could be upgraded like carpeting in some areas, some repainting, etc. but these things are so minor. How can they ruin your vacation??Staff: We never found the staff to be anything but friendly and helpful. One must remember that new staff are always being trained and they may not know as much as the next person. Give them a break! Food: The food, as always, was really good. We did eat in two speciality restaurants and there were great. We mostly ate in the Venetian dining room. I have to eat GF so I was quite nervous about taking my first GF cruise. We talked to the Maitre D as soon as we got on board and he explained that I would order my dinners from the main dining room the evening before. Easy enough. There is ONE dedicated wait staff to take care of all special dietary requirements in the dining room. This is amazing and makes you feel much more comfortable. He brought me my meals and GF bread every dinner and would bring me the menu for the next night to order. Gluten-free food: Overall my meals were good. Let's face it, eating gluten free is not going to taste the same as not. It's just the way it is. However, I was able to order nearly everything on the menu and it was made GF. Desserts were sometimes an issue but you can always have flour less chocolate cake or mousse. Two great choices! The lasagna I had was the only thing that wasn't good - it didn't have any noodles! Other then that I had rice pasta, steak, chicken... etc. with GF sauces. Again, not the same as "normal" sauces but good nonetheless. I didn't get sick ONCE! And that is amazing as I am very sensitive. I stayed away from the buffet except to have salad.One suggestion I would have for NCL is to make available a list of gluten free foods they have on board. You can get GF English muffins (yummy), bread, waffles in the dining room but if you ask at the buffet, most of the time they don't know what you are talking about. Best to stick with the dining room. However, there were probably other GF options that I didn't know about. This is where a list would be helpful.Ports: Samana, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados and St. Kitts - all wonderful. We did mostly adventure type activities. We loved these ports and would certainly do them again.Overall, a wonderful cruise. Thanks NCL! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
My wife and I cruised w/ another couple both of us having cruised similar itinerary on the Pearl in 2008.Our 4th NCL and their 2nd NCL cruise.Our 7th cruise and their 10th overall.So let me begin. EMBARKATION:a breeze once they started ... Read More
My wife and I cruised w/ another couple both of us having cruised similar itinerary on the Pearl in 2008.Our 4th NCL and their 2nd NCL cruise.Our 7th cruise and their 10th overall.So let me begin. EMBARKATION:a breeze once they started process.We arrived at port 10:30 and on boat 11:30.No problems. CABIN:usual small inside deck 10 midships.Lot of noise from behind cabin at night.Asked for eggcrate for bed which helped a lot.Cabin steward exceptional.Had problem w/ water in sink/shower that would not get below scalding.6 phone calls and 45 min wait for plumber.Entire shower appliance replaced later so no further issues.Closet door hinge broken but not a big issue as ship headed for dry dock in April. PUBLIC AREAS:Generally well maintained but needing refurb.1 hot tub down entire cruise.No water slide.Small pool.Usual too smokey casino.Way too lax w/ smoking policy for those of us not wishing the stench.Slow,slow ,slow elevators??Nice atrium area. DINING:what happened NCL??Aqua way too small.Venetian nice but wait staff slow beyond reason (3 hr dinner 1 night)and disorganized.Menu selections were a joke when compared to the Pearl or other lines we have been on.$10 pp for mexican food, are they nuts???Lobster night; so add fish and lots of rice to plate and hope we won't ask for more lobster, is this the new plan???No cold soups offered.Desserts were just plain boring and w/ few selections other than the anytime ones.Strawberry souffle was the only great one we had.Tappenyaki @ $25 pp.Only 2 grills.I got 2 shrimp5 scallops,approx 4 oz steak, 5 bites of lobster, and all the rice I wanted.Not even close NCL.The Pearl this ship is NOT!!Thank God for the Blue Lagoon and Garden cafe.Had breakfast in Venetian 1 am.Cold food,cinnamon on the cold buttermilk pancakes and just generally poor quality.Back to the Garden cafe from then on.Blue Lagoon many nights for great wings,won-ton soup,burgers,etc.Pool side B-B-Que served burnt to a crisp burgers and wok style items that were generally good.Well maybe next cruise will be better. BARS:better priced than Carnival Spirit 12/10, and good service and quality.2 for 1 martini's at the Star bar were great deal.Need better priced beer buckets and better selection of drafts. ENTERTAINMENT:comedian was funny,magician so-so,shows so-so,2nd City very funny,game shows O.K.,need more late night comedians/variety.Pool side band good when they played.Would play 15-20 min then break for 30-60 min???Had a DJ that played canned music w/ good variety. DISEMBARKATION:walked off w/ luggage at 9:30 w/ no problems. SUMMARY:not what we expected of our beloved NCL in terms of food or entertainment.If not for Matt Baker the cruise director, the entertainment would have been a complete flop.We will be looking at other lines in the future unfortunately as our Dec/2010 Carnival cruise food was so much superior to this cruise food and the entertainment was better as well for far less money.Perhaps NCL can clean up their act and this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We just disembarked yesterday, and feel overall NCL gives a good cruise for the money. Of course, all reviews are going to be based on a cruiser's expectations and requirements. My husband and I enjoy cruising and enjoy quiet time, ... Read More
We just disembarked yesterday, and feel overall NCL gives a good cruise for the money. Of course, all reviews are going to be based on a cruiser's expectations and requirements. My husband and I enjoy cruising and enjoy quiet time, enjoying the ocean, and spending time with each other. We expect a quiet, peaceful cruise, good food, good liquor, and good service. It's always planned to be a romantic experience and since we want it to be somewhat upscale, we generally book either the bigger Penthouse cabin (the 2 bedroom - for the fabulous bathroom) up to an Owners Suite. On this ship, we knew the Owners Suite was pretty dark, just like the one we were in on the Pride of America, and once on the Pearl, so we went back to the Deluxe Penthouse for this one. This ship is a bit older than some, but still in good shape. The crew was really good, thought it still didn't quite match the crew we have experienced in the past with the Pearl and Jewel. Some notes:Spa: Excellent as always. Of course, it's more of a Steiner product than an NCL product, but we love indulging in spa treatments the entire cruise. Kudos to Steiner. Shore Excursions: We rarely do them anymore. Often the entire 'theme' of the excursion changes by the time you're on board the crowded little bus. For instance, on this one when we booked a rum factory tour a few months ago online with NCL, the website said it would be Mt. Gay. By the time we were on the bus, it was now 'Four Corners', I think, and there was no real educational experience there - no info on making rum - just walked us through some computerized rooms that now mixed and distilled the rum. And the finished product was not that good - no really aged rums there. When we did Hawaii last year, we rented a car in every port and did our own thing and it was a fabulous vacation for us...we never wanted to go back to the ship (because of the kids - see noise below. )Noise: We like to cruise in March to coincide with our anniversary and the weather is usually quite good. We chose the 9 day cruise because we had hoped it wouldn't be over run with unsupervised, loud, spoiled, out-of-control kids. We were very, very wrong. I guess in my day, we expected spring break to be 5 days. Obviously these days, parents take their kids out of school for anything. We have no problem with kids, as long as they act appropriately and as long as their parents don't turn their little darlings loose to wreak havoc on the ship and other guests, while they selfishly eat and drink themselves into a stupor. When we've been on European cruises, we find the European passengers with children have great kids. But not Americans. It's one of our biggest complaints about NCL. This time, kids that had broken into meeting rooms above our cabin, at night, and it sounded as if they were breaking through the floor. And then there's the constant door-bell ringing all night long. Have these children never seen a doorbell before? And the behavior, even in the 'suite' dining area of children is really awful... loud, rude, running from one end to another, throwing tantrums. Unbelievable. The parents aren't held accountable for their children and the cruise staff seems unable to control them. Food: The food continues a downward spiral. At home, we eat almost 98% organic, drink healthy, filtered water, and rarely eat meat. The bottled water sold on the ship is rated 'F' by the agencies who rate water for health. So it's either pay $6 for a bottle of 'F' rated water, or drink whatever was pumped out of a municipal source, containing arsenic and fluoride and other toxins. Just try to find decent seafood or fish on this ship. It's all salmon that's too old (and way too strong), or maybe occasionally shrimp are offered, and we've had some bad scallops. I did have some excellent seared tuna as an appetizer in the Tex-Mex restaurant, but...the service was bad there, as was the rest of the food. We stay away from the buffet (or trough, as we call it) because the noise factor is through the roof and the glutony is really awful to watch. We generally do not eat in the main dining room because of the service. So we're in specialty restaurants every night. Cagneys as always, was good. We were there for breakfast and lunch every day, and we had dinner there twice. We rarely eat beef, but the beef there is quite good. About 3 years ago (and prior to that) Cagneys generally had fresh seared tuna but alas, no longer. Just the usual slab of salmon. We were at Le Bistro twice. Also good. I did have swordfish there that was very good. We ate at the Asian Fusion restaurant once and there were a few seafood entrees available, and then we went for sushi another night - also good. We generally have been horribly disappointed in the Italian restaurants in the past but tried it again this time and found it to be good. Again - salmon (UGH) but the rest was ok. Trends: We are concerned that NCL is trending downward. The menu selections become fewer and fewer every cruise. (we generally cruise every 6 - 9 months). The quality of the food is going downhill. They once had fabulous soups at lunch in Cagneys and now? Chicken Noodle every day. They once had a fresh, new menu for lunch in Cagneys every day and now it's the same thing every single day. The breads have always been good in the past, even though I rarely eat white flour, but the breads on this cruise were dry and even tasted as if they'd been frozen previously (they had that 'refrigerator' taste). I hate to see them losing their 'edge' when it comes to inventive menu options....and any truly healthy menu options they had previously have faded away. The one big indulgence for us are the cocktails - and this time, we found that NCL no longer stocks top-quality citron vodka...no, no Grey Goose Citron, no Ketel One Citron, And I don't believe they had any really good single-malt scotches either. None of the good ones. Just Absolute Citron and Svedka Citron in Vodka land. Absolute is fine with tonic, but not in a martini...and I feel Svedka has zero smoothness. My husband likes Hendricks Gin but there was none of that either. I mean, they make a really big margin on alcohol - you'd think they'd carry the big-ticket items! Overall, our experience with NCL just seems to be more questionable every time. A few years back, we saw them improving a great deal - great strides. Now? It seems they're going downhill. We have always loved them because we feel they're an honorable company. We try to stay on the 'upper end' when it comes to a booking so we can perhaps segregate ourselves from the pandemonium. I'm wondering if they're not trying to reposition themselves for 'brat cruising'? Yes, I know I sound whiny but I guess I'm just disappointed that a very good company continues to try to 'cheap it down' these days. I understand that they have to appeal to various levels of cruisers, but it seems that the higher-end choices have disappeared for those who are willing to pay for them. And we have considered some of the other smaller ships, but their mean passenger age is 20 - 30 years older than we are. We are very active and are not ready for that 'set' yet. :::sigh:::: We're going to give it a few more tries, though, hoping that perhaps it's just the Dawn and not company-wide. I've just booked us on a Panama Canal next spring on the Pearl. We love the Pearl so am hoping no one brings their kids on a 14 day cruise after spring break time. And we'll do a 4 nighter little 'getaway' on the Sky again, the end of September or early October, since kids will be in school then, we hope. We've done that several times with good results. If these don't go well, then I guess it may be time to look at other cruising options or maybe head to Europe more often. (Problem with Europe is it's too cold when we like to cruise in the Spring and Fall). Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Having since cruised "back" with Carnival Cruise Line, I stand by my original review of the Norwegian Dawn. It seems that nothing has changed on the Dawn. We were on the cruise last February 2011 where the Dawn was ... Read More
Having since cruised "back" with Carnival Cruise Line, I stand by my original review of the Norwegian Dawn. It seems that nothing has changed on the Dawn. We were on the cruise last February 2011 where the Dawn was incapicitated by the loss of its engines and we limped from port to port; ports not originally on the itinerary. From the inconvenience of cancelling our excursions to the poor customer service received, the inability of the room stewards to clean our room, the poor quality of the food and the overall shabby condition of the ship, to the overpriced and slow internet service, we were happy to return to the great services that Carnival has always provided. On a positive note, the waiters and bar service was great on the Lido and the Bimini Bar has the best burgers and fries!! Probably the best time on the Lido of any ship we have cruised on! We will only ever cruise with Carnival. I can honestly state that we have never had a bad experience on any of their cruise ships. We cruised Carnival this summer and will be onboard again in February. I understand that every cruiser has a different expectation of good service and I respect their perceptions and opinions on what constitutes a great or poor cruise experience. I was especially shocked at the attitude of some of the members on this website who felt that they could criticize my perception of the service we received and my experiences of a vacation that did not live up to my expectations. This forum should be free from negative comments aimed toward the reviewers' opinions. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
The boarding procedures in Miami were extremely well organised. Within the hour we were on board. And even though the rooms were not ready yet, we could walk around the ship and enjoy the lunch buffet on deck 12. It was amazing as we think ... Read More
The boarding procedures in Miami were extremely well organised. Within the hour we were on board. And even though the rooms were not ready yet, we could walk around the ship and enjoy the lunch buffet on deck 12. It was amazing as we think all of the food options are. The selection of food to choose from is endless and the quality is superb. The stateroom we were in was very good; small of course, but clean and efficiently organised. We had no problems stowing our stuff and getting around. The balcony is must have we think. Over the 9 days we visited all restaurants and all of them were extremely good. Very good service and friendly waiters. Entertainment is well organised as well. There is lots of stuff to do for almost every liking. The entertainment crew does its utmost best to involve guests in the activities. A few minor points then: The internet facilities are a waste of money. The speed is slow and they do not allow you to use the interesting capabilities like Skype although they 'forget' to mention that anywhere. So we ordered internet and after discovering Skype didn't work we had to go through the trouble of reversing our order. We found the photographers extremely annoying. If you and your partner enjoy a nice romantic dinner in a restaurant they come unannounced and try to make pictures of you. They don't ask, they just do. On top of that they hang them in an area where everyone can see them. There is apparently no sense of privacy. All in all however, an enjoyable experience we will definitely repeat someday. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Feb 25th to March 6th 2011 Found this cruise to be so/so .It did not live up to our expectations, We found the food to be O.K, no standout meals to speak of, but nice variety and always something found. The kids loved the Blue ... Read More
Feb 25th to March 6th 2011 Found this cruise to be so/so .It did not live up to our expectations, We found the food to be O.K, no standout meals to speak of, but nice variety and always something found. The kids loved the Blue Lagoon. Aqua was fats and efficient, Venetian , slow and lots of errors in plates, but beautiful room decor. Matt Baker is hilarious! and perfectly suited for his job, as for the rest of the entertainment crew...not so much. On our previous cruises we felt much more attached to the personnel, they spoke to you, made you feel like a family, in a very sincere way, I found NCL personnel focused on their own interests rather than the guests. Jose and Patti...fabulous!! Magician...Great!! Production shows and Comedian...not so much Cabins were very workable, lots of small storage areas, especially with 4 in a room. Stewards were stealth like, very good. Ship was a mishmash of themes and decor, none of which I found tasteful or elegant. Great pool area, always a seat somewhere to be found, stadium seating is a great use of space. Annoyed by the constant drink, art auction, bingo, casino, announcements, photo poses...I felt like I was constantly being pitched at. We did have 2 very negative events during our cruise and bad enough to make me not consider another NCL cruise anytime soon. Both were reported on board/ Guest Services/Maitre D, and by email to the corporate offices, no reply yet. We still enjoyed the islands , the weather, time with our kids and just being off work. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My wife and I just got off the dawn, and the ship is barely 10 years old and looks in pretty good shape. The crew were engaged in ongoing maintenance varnishing the hand rails, painting etc. as they should be. The meeting with the ... Read More
My wife and I just got off the dawn, and the ship is barely 10 years old and looks in pretty good shape. The crew were engaged in ongoing maintenance varnishing the hand rails, painting etc. as they should be. The meeting with the cruise critics was opened by the "Company man" flanked by the skipper, saying that the comments that the ship was unsafe were very unfair. They arrived in Miami with 2 engines, someone told the captain that the faulty engine was fixed, the skipper took her out and the engine failed again. They sent out a repair crew to "fix" the engine and the cruise continued on 3 engines. The comment from one of the passengers was "why don't you tell us what is going on?" Good question. The stop at Samana was a dead loss for us. I walk 4 miles a day and thought that I'd walk on shore to get my mileage in, not! They have the most annoying and aggressive sales people I've ever encountered. There was nothing at the place we stopped to see so stay on board or try one of the tours. With 2000 people on board I know you can't please everyone but for those of us who need to keep in touch with the outside world a better selection of T.V. would help a lot. There were 500 Canadians on board but no Canadian T.V. You could cut out FOX news, all I learned in a week was that there was a Democrat in the White house and worse he was black and lots of republicans are very upset. The Pearly King Pub would get more business if it had some variety of games on their screens. Also there was a couple of entertainers in the foyer next to the pub and they were very popular with some of the passengers, the passengers came and took the chairs from the pub, hurting both venues. The ship arrived 2 hrs. late in Miami, no explanation, but after that disembarkation worked fine. All in all if you want to visit 5 different islands and not pack and unpack all the time this is the only way to go. 9 days is a bit much and I feel kind of cruised out. A passenger had a medical emergency on the way back from Barbadoes and the ship stopped to let her off at St. Martaan. A very decent thing to do! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My husband and I sailed NCL dawn Feb 11- 21 2011. A few hours after boarding, I believe, It was announced ,but not in the staterooms, that there was engine problems and we wouldn't be stopping in Samana D.P.. These engine problems ... Read More
My husband and I sailed NCL dawn Feb 11- 21 2011. A few hours after boarding, I believe, It was announced ,but not in the staterooms, that there was engine problems and we wouldn't be stopping in Samana D.P.. These engine problems were known months before but they continue to sail and take peoples money. They let some individuals and possibly some travel agents know there were minor problems and that they would be arriving late in the Dom. Rep due to engine problems, never that it would be cancelled totally. Our travel agent absolutely got no info on any problems. Lying by omission. They said there was an engineer on board and they would have it fixed by the time we arrived at what is now our first port. We got to the other 2 islands on our itinerary, Tortola and Antigua. When sailing out of the second port, again the captain announced , not sure if all areas received this one, that we are having more engine problems and would not be going to Barbados and St. Kitts our last 2 ports on our itinerary. At first we thought it was a joke but I guess not. We would turn back towards Miami and stop at St. Maartin and St Thomas to make up for the islands missed. These island shop keepers seemed to know weeks ago that we were coming but NCL made it look like it was a instant decision because of unforeseen problems. The itinerary is not looking at all like we booked. Two out of 5 islands are as scheduled, 60% failure. We chose the itinerary strictly for the ports it had outlined and now we are not going there. Quite an expensive adventure, not to see what we paid for. Our stateroom was on deck 11 just below the gardens cafe. All hours of the night and early in the morning we could hear pots, pans and carts moving . It sounded like there was vents leading right into our cabin .We told the desk about it the first 2 consecutive nights and they said they would do something about it and never. This continued every night. We bought ear plugs for the remaining days. On the 3rd night when we never bothered to say anything anymore we were awakened in the night by a worker walking into our room asking us if the noise was still bothering us. What a shock to find someone entering our room ,awakened by the light from the hall shining in. It seems they arrived a few days late or received the message late, not a shock with this ship. Plastic buckets lined the ships halls and stairwells catching water leaking from light fixtures, etc. Quite a fire hazard, I think. Mildew smell prevelant. Trim was held up with duct tape .A lovely feature on a ship??? Elevators not working. Not all coffee stations working. Freestyle cruising means you stand in line at the dining room doors for and hour and wait to get in when there is a table available, no mentioning earlier that you can book a table which then isn't freestyle to me. This ship is a WRECK .The straw that broke the camels back was the letter received a few nights before disembarking from the captain. He stating that he announced the engine problems prior to us leaving. I beg to differ We believe we were already sailing or at least minutes away .He stated these problems were unforeseen and that it was announced , but main desk admitted it was not announced in the cabins ,therefore only some people got the announcement, but they CAN make announcements in the cabins. Not sure why they wouldn't. He also stated that we had a choice to disembark. This part was not announced and not known. Maybe we were supposed to jump overboard to get off. .The stories just kept contradicting each other. He is trying to dig himself out of a hole as people are now furious. The next night, after 11:00pm an announcement was made, even in the rooms this time, if you can believe it by now, code BRAVO, BRAVO, Baggage dept. was called to area deck 4 and crew to respond. Twice this was announced. The passengers in these areas were evacuated with no reasons and were just to stand in the staircase areas with pj's on and walkers and given no further instruction. Some crew were in and out of a meeting room right next probably being told what to say to passengers, like every other problem, the reasonings from the workers sounded all rehearsed. Some of the passengers called the desk and were told it was a fire drill, he wondered why at this time of the night. NO truthful answer again. Now people want the captain to tell them what is going on and he finally admits a fire but says the area of concern is the incinerator and nothing to worry about. Just smoke Isn't that what an incinerator is for. It is getting harder to believe anything they say. NCL saved thousands of $'s by not going to Barbados , reducing fuel consumption and we also traveled at half speed to all our ports also reducing fuel usage. We never received compensations for this other than $200. credit towards our account and a whopping $5.90 in taxes, it's hard to believe that they think we are that gullable. That does not begin to add up to their saved costs which we should have received. This ships sailing with not all engines working could have been putting passengers at risk if seas would have been bad and not enough power to ride them to safety. I wouldn't send my dog on any of their ships as who knows where you might end up. Their deceipt is unbelievable. They take your money and run. Didn't know FREESTYLE CRUISING meant they will pick any port as they feel like it that day. We will never go NCL again. By the way, this same ship was continuing on, a back to back cruise with some of the same passengers for another 5 days. They were a little concerned they would have to paddle their way there. DISASTER!, DISASTER!, DISASTER! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Disclaimer: observations based on only one previous cruise, the other also with the DAWN on the same itinerary last year. On which we had stellar service and off at all ports within 15 minutes of scheduled dock time. General review: ... Read More
Disclaimer: observations based on only one previous cruise, the other also with the DAWN on the same itinerary last year. On which we had stellar service and off at all ports within 15 minutes of scheduled dock time. General review: Cruise went good, pretty much as expected. Never did see the buckets collecting water from leaks that people had been talking about. There were delays getting docked/anchored clearing customs at every port except St Kitts including returning to Miami. Dont know if it was due to ship, Capt., customs paperwork or what but was a bit of a bummer at a couple stops where we had excursions scheduled first thing. Only minor issues we had on board were room stewards that couldn't seem to figure out we had 4 people in our room and routinely left us only 3 towels and two washcloths and also didnt refill the soap. No biggie. Also the elevators midship did not work that well. One was out of service the whole cruise and additional one was out of service getting worked on part of the time. There are certainly minor things needing repair if you are looking for issues but overall I thought the ship was in fair/good condition. Food and entertainment were good, Aqua service very slow so stick with the Venetian. Buffet food was very good but some more variety day to day would be nice. After 9 days I am definitely ready for a home cooked meal Inbound Travel: Usually fly United (coach) but used delta miles for this flight. Thought seats weren't quite as comfortable as united but what seats are flying from west coast to east coast. Almost missed Atlanta conection due to weather but plane was held for 26 minutes, just enough time for us to make it as they were closing the doors! Arrived one day early in Miami and stayed at Baymont Inn. They had mixed reviews on trip advisor. DONT believe the good reviews ! Very dirty floors throughout the motel cracked tile and stained carpet. Room floors were dirty, walls were smudged with dirt, cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, shower curtain pulling out of wall. I could go on but this is supposed to be a cruise review, Just DONT stay here! We took their airport shuttle back to airport and caught a taxi to the port for the flat rate of $24. Motel wanted to charge us $70 for their port shuttle and tried to convince us they didnt know anything about flat rate from airport to cruise port and that a taxi could end up costing us $90 (yeah right) The flat rate from airport is indeed $24 Boarding: Went very well, arrived at cruise terminal at about 12:15 and made it through all the lines and were eating in the garden cafe by 1:15 Room: 4 people (2 were 11,13 year old daughters) in an inside room works but definitely tight. The floor we found to be dirty when we slid the beds together to pull out the bottom bed. Stewards cleaned it up when they turned down the cabin. Had some other minor problems with room stewards mentioned above. Ports: SAMANA; Capt. said weather prevented us from tendering from both sides of the ship so tendering was a bit of a lengthy process (seas didnt seem that bad to me but I guess thats why he gets the big bucks). We were on the first non-NCL booked excursion tender and didnt get to the dock until 12:30 Tendering process did seem more organized than our last cruise on the DAWN though. Staff actually checked our tender ticket numbers and turned line jumpers back while last time it seemed to be a free for all once tenders started. Had a great excursion with toursamanawithterry doing the el limon horseback excursion. Missed out on part of the tour due to the late arrival at the dock (the stop at his family property, which we enjoyed last time ) Caught the last tenders at 430 TORTOLA; arrived at dock late again. Scheduled docking 930 and we weren't off the boat until 1030. All the people on the excursion we booked were from the Dawn though so we all made it. Had a great trip with TORTOLA charters to JostVanDyke. My girls loved laying on the catamaran trampoline as we crossed over to JVD. No charge for chairs on the beach. My girls and I were the only ones that went with Bill snorkleing and we had a good time. Bill caught a green sea turtle that my daughter spotted and they were thrilled to be able to touch it :) Weather had clouded the water at all the stops so snorkleing was not as good as last time we were here. One of the last on the ship again :) ANTIGUA; late again getting cleared through customs. Took a cab to Long Bay for the day. Nice beach but water was very cloudy compared to last time we were here so virtually ni snorkleing available. $32 for cab to beach $5 for 1 chair $10 for umbrella BARBADOS; scheduled at dock for 10:30 we were off by 11:15 (getting better) We took a cab to Paynes Bay for $26 (public buses are available for $1 per person and run every half hour) Nice beach with various water sport rentals available. Snorkle, kayak, jet ski etc. Two chairs with umbrella $10, My daughter and I swam out about 80 yards and swam with three differant turtles (mask/flipper rental $12). Wife and daughters rented jet ski for half hour ( negotiated for $40 instead of $50) St KITTS; finally got off ship at a decent time, within 15 minutes of scheduled dock time. Took a cab to Friars, liked this beach with ok snorkleing on a small reef right off shore. Mask/fins $10 , 2chairs and umbrella $10. Lots of green monkies and mongoose in bushes right by the beach. (HINT for snorkleing, wad bread in the palm of your hand and shake out in the water. The fish will even come eat out of your hand.) Disembarkation: Arrived in Miami 2and1/2 hours late. Did walk off with baggage and not able to leave boat untill 9:20 I am glad we didnt have flight out untill tomorrow. I heard some saying they had a 9:30am today flight ooops, not a good idea. Overall a good vacation but I think the next vacation for our young family will be a destination vacation, just not enough time at each port to satisfy our explorations. I wish more cruises had overnight stops. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We were on the NCL Dawn for a Southern Caribbean cruise on Feb. 11th, 2011; a 9 day / 5 port cruise. This was the first time ever sailing with NCL or any other cruise line. We picked this specific cruise with our friends, latitude ... Read More
We were on the NCL Dawn for a Southern Caribbean cruise on Feb. 11th, 2011; a 9 day / 5 port cruise. This was the first time ever sailing with NCL or any other cruise line. We picked this specific cruise with our friends, latitude members who have been on 4 other NCL cruises. They stated only good things regarding this cruise line (great service, food, and how clean the ships are). We booked this trip five and a half months prior to sailing. We also picked this cruise specifically for these 5 ports and feel dissatisfaction of the cruise when we ended up going to only 2 of the 5 ports from the initial schedule. The first indication we were questioning was leaving the Miami port 2 hours later than scheduled. During this time, the Captain made an announcement regarding engine problems, and with technicians on board to help fix this issue, he expected they would be able to resolve the problem and be able to leave soon. We thought the engine was fixed, since we left Miami at about 6:00pm. Once at sea, the Captain again advised us there were still technical problems with an engine and we were going to miss our first port due to a drop in speed (Samana, DR cancelled).We were disappointed since we had an excursion planned, and also a second sea day was added until our next port. We made Tortolla and Antigua ports and had a good time. After leaving Antigua, around 7:30pm, the Captain made another announcement of a change in the Itinerary, AGAIN. Unfortunately the engine repairs were unsuccessful and the final 2 ports were cancelled (Barbados and St. Kitts). The ship was rescheduled to 2 different ports (St. Maarten and St. Thomas). If we wanted to go to these ports, we would have booked a different cruise and paid a $1000.00 less. Instead of a pricy Southern Caribbean cruise, we were given an Eastern Caribbean cruise for the price of a Southern. We did not like the excursions offered for St. Maarten, so we decided to just walk around. While in the shopping area, we were informed by the owner of a jewelry store that they knew about a week prior to our arrival (NCL Dawn). When we mentioned that we only found out the night before arriving to St. Maarten, he was very surprised. We on the other hand were insulted and upset at the cruise line. All over the ship, there were plastic buckets to catch water leaking from the ceilings. Also, most of the times in the women's washrooms, at least 2 of the toilets were out of order or overflowing and the ones that were functional, doors wouldn't lock. The last and greatest indignation was a letter form the Captain we received 2 nights before the cruise ended. In the letter, he stated that when he made the announcement prior to our departure in Miami, regarding the engine problem, he extended the option to all guests to cancel and disembark the ship should we chose to do so. Miraculously, the captain had announced at our last port how the engine was now repaired...Yeah! First of all, after speaking to other passengers, that announcement was NEVER made over the public address system. NCL knew about the engine problems before we set sail and had ample time to inform its guests before getting on the ship. The only nice thing was the crew was doing their best. This does not, however, make up for the complete mess that the rest of the cruise has been due to corporate decisions. We did not get what we paid for. This is something different than weather or 'unexpected' mechanical problems. Some of these problems may seem minor, but when added together, this is major, and we were left with a bad taste in our mouths. They only offered us $200.00 OBC per stateroom and 10% off a future cruise but taken within a year. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Norwegian Dawn Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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