208 Norwegian Dawn Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

embarkation: Easy. We live locally so we arrived at 2.Others complained who arrived early. room. Adequate. Great hairdryer. Brought my own toiletries. Service. Friendly. Valentino and his partner great stewards. The Maitre D from ... Read More
embarkation: Easy. We live locally so we arrived at 2.Others complained who arrived early. room. Adequate. Great hairdryer. Brought my own toiletries. Service. Friendly. Valentino and his partner great stewards. The Maitre D from Jamaica talked to you every eve. in the Venetian. Talked with interest. Food. Good. Ate at the Venetian . Went on this cruise for the itinerary not the food. Salads good. Asparagus every night. Vanilla ice cream and fresh pineapple. Their desserts were their weak point. Ate at the Bistro by the pianist. He was Italian. Made for a romantic dinner. entertainment. Above average. Loved it all. I think this was the best ship for entertainment. They want you to linger,to drink..... Matt baker always great. This was the third time with him. Cruises need animators not just CD. Ports. Great. I love the long day in Tortola. There are so many choices in port.Semana, though not a beautiful town,but once you get out into the country it is gorgeous. We did the horse back ride and swam in the beautiful el limon waterfall. Next time I want to go to Playa Rincon. Weather was great,just missed Tomas. Ship: a bit aged. Get rid of the plastic plants. I think they people on the older ships by tantalizing them with good itineraries. I cruise for the excursions and if the food and entertainment is good then its a bonus. The negatives were. Lots of people in the Garden buffet and no place to eat at the back of the ship. You had to pay to use steam room. Guilty feelings for not ordering drinks all day and night. Positives. entertainment and itinerary. Would cruise NCL again Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was my first time on NCL and we went on the Dawn out of Miami. I have been on 18 other cruises 11 with Royal Caribbean and 7 with Carnival and I have to say this will probably be my last with NCL. I was not impressed. We arrived at ... Read More
This was my first time on NCL and we went on the Dawn out of Miami. I have been on 18 other cruises 11 with Royal Caribbean and 7 with Carnival and I have to say this will probably be my last with NCL. I was not impressed. We arrived at the cruise terminal at 11 am after driving from Orlando. We didn't get on the boat until after 1 pm something about homeland security checking the ship. We traveled with 3 other family members who flew in from NJ. Our cabin was very nice and the bathroom rather big which was nice. You can tell this was an older ship it had a lot of wear in public places and in the room The safe had all the numbers worn away on it. The dining room food I was not impressed at all. The same dining room menu for the whole cruise. None of us liked that and even what we did have in the dining room was just ok. We did the buffet a few nights and the food there was not bad. I have never been on a cruise where there were so many people in the buffet for dinner. Not a good sign. All the other cruises I have been on the buffet had hardly anyone in them which is a good sign that people were eating at the dining room. We ate at Teppanyaki and Salsa specialty restaurants and that was also just OK. The specialty restaurants were empty almost all cruise. Only one pool on this ship(besides the Trex pool for kids)and thank god the ship was not sold out otherwise you would not be able to move in that one pool. The shows were not that great. Comedian was funny along with the ventriloquist and the only other show I liked was Bollywood. The ports we went to were Dominican Republic,Antigua,Tortola,St. Kitts and Barbados. I would do these ports again but probably not Dominican Republic. I chose this ship for the itinerary but next time I will look to other cruise lines. I will stick to Royal Caribbean and Carnival where I have always had great times with great food and entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We are a middle aged couple doing our third cruise our first trip with Norwegian Cruise Line and we came away with a positive impression of this cruise line and it's ship Dawn. We are sold on the freestyle concept offered by Norwegian ... Read More
We are a middle aged couple doing our third cruise our first trip with Norwegian Cruise Line and we came away with a positive impression of this cruise line and it's ship Dawn. We are sold on the freestyle concept offered by Norwegian as this suites our personal tastes more so than our previous trips with Princess and Carnival. There was nothing we can honestly say that was a disappointment on this 12 day repositioning cruise from NYC to points Southern Caribbean and final destination Miami. Embarkation/Disembarkation. Have to give NCL full marks as they were organized and all went smoothly. When we arrived at the Port Terminal in NYC it took no longer than half an hour to clear security, process documentation/check in/picture/room cards and in the balcony stateroom. Disembarkation took longer but NCL had the departures color coded by time, however there were delays at American Customs because some passengers didn't have their declaration cards documented properly. NCL emphasized to complete your forms and have proper identification readily available for inspection but some didn't seem to heed this. NCL and American Customs can't be faulted for subsequent delays. Balcony Stateroom. We were on the 10th deck mid-ship and the room was very nice. The two room Stewarts were excellent/courteous and went about their business quietly and efficiently , nothing was missed, even the ice bucket was filled up every day. On initial entry we thought to room to be a good size but lacking in closet space, however there is room under the bed to store suitcases(we had three) so that freed up space in the closet. Towels/shampoo/hand soap/and other bathroom items were stocked as needed on a daily basis. There was a full shower which was nice and the balcony was spacious. No issues there. Dining Rooms/Food. As mentioned previously, the freestyle struck a chord with us. Most of our meals(breakfast,lunch,dinner) were at the main dining rooms(Aqua/Venetian). Both venues were very good in regards to food and service - no issues there from us. We also ate one night at the French Le Bistro and another night at Cagney's Steak house. We found the service at those to be a step more personalized than both main dining rooms and food quality was very good. If you want a rare steak(which I like) at Cagney's that is what you got. At the Le Bistro I asked for lamb medium- well and that is what I got. Also, if you are a wine enthusiast like me, the selection was good and the prices very fair. If you check closely you can get a classified old world vintage $25-30 range. Sometimes you had to wait 10-15 minutes for seating at both main dining rooms if you wish to seat by yourselves, if you didn't mind sharing a table no delays at all. We wanted to seat by ourselves so a short delay wasn't an issue with us. As for dress, being freestyle you saw it all and nobody really cared, at least that was our impression. I think there was one or two nights with a dress up or not - most if not all didn't. I counted three/four couples with shirt/tie/dress and I think there was one gent in a tux. Fair enough! I wore my jeans/sandals and t-shirt most nights because it is..... well freestyle - full stop. We didn't eat at the buffet as to us this was like a cafeteria style, three star serve yourself all inclusive. It was crowded, people jostling for positions/tables and noisy, kinda like a glorified take out. This is just our personal viewpoint on buffets in general, others may, of course have different viewpoints Norwegian Dawn Like any cruise ship, it will take a few days to find yourself around and get a feel for all locations. As far as this particular cruise went , there were no items that we felt required attention of the general ship staff. We didn't witness any in your face pushing of products/services, certainly there was advertizing(what ship doesn't) but a lot of that was done on first day embarkation. The few times we did ask questions on items, the ships staff were courteous and responsive. A good mix of passengers young/old/middle age and elderly, and some disabled people as well. All got along, were respectful and we didn't witness any loud/rude/obnoxious behaviour. Ship entertainment was good(I am not into it much but significant other was) and her commentary suggested it was first rate. There was a good ship show band and the Cruise Director(Matt Baker) was quite lively with a very pleasing personality. Port Stops. We stopped in the Dominican Republic, Netherlands Antilles, Honduras and Mexico and we arranged tours through the shipboard customer tour on the day of embarkation so as to have a good selection. We opted on shore days to tour that included a beach stop rather than a continuous bus trip and we did this more for relaxation purposes. The beach stops were associated with an all inclusive resort which were quite nice and the staff at the resorts were friendly and the price included the use of the facilities(food and drinks). The tours were well organized in our view and the staff seemed genuinely interested in pointing out the various sites and points of interest as we drove along. It seemed to me there were plenty of tours/activities to satisfy all interests at the various ports however be advised touring isn't cheap if you book/arrange through the NCL ship facility and there usually are alternative ways to tour on your own and probably cheaper. Conclusion. We were quite happy with the 12 day repositioning Norwegian Dawn cruise and certainly feel NCL exceeded our expectations in service/quality by a wide margin. Granted, no cruise is in perfect order and we, no doubt overlooked issues that may be of concern to other guests on this ship and that is fair as well. We liked the size of the Dawn Class ships as didn't feel crowded and herded around as experienced on the larger ships we cruised on. This cruise was in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary and I celebrated my 59th birthday the last day onboard. NCL acknowledged it which we felt was a nice touch. Not being a high maintenance couple, we sat back and enjoyed a splendid 12 day vacation. What more can you ask for and we will certainly use the services of Norwegian Cruise Lines in the near future. I am willing to answer any specific questions, contact me at nshea0563@rogers.com Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Embarkation, well this was our 5th cruise with NCL never a problem, same goes for getting off the ship. Public areas were plentiful and spacious with great views, something for everyone was active to quiet from sunny to shady. ... Read More
Embarkation, well this was our 5th cruise with NCL never a problem, same goes for getting off the ship. Public areas were plentiful and spacious with great views, something for everyone was active to quiet from sunny to shady. Cabin Balcony Room 9 mid ship - Carpet needed to be replaced, across hall from the Internet cafe, we thought that might be a problem was it was not. The safe needs to be repaired four times we had to call to get it reset. Overall a good room. For us having a balcony room, if we can afford it, if there is a great last minute deal is the way to go, we had the sliding door open every night and listened to the ocean. We have had inside cabins and window rooms in the past on other cruises because at the time that is all we could afford. This was our second balcony room and there is nothing like it. Fitness room was adequate, Basketball court had dead spots, ceiling net was to low and one rim was badly bent. The golf cage clubs were terrible, one club face actually broke and flew through the air. Oh the jogging track forget about it, many blind corners and people walk on the track all the time, better off to use the treadmill in the fitness center. Food was a little bit under average but plentiful, we ate at the buffet except for two nights (one night was lobster night). Main restaurant food was sub par - we decided to use the buffet because because at least you could see the dish in advance. We cruise for value so we never eat at the specialty restaurants, our philosophy is we already paid for an all inclusive vacation why pay more? The total on-board account after our trip was 288 bucks the amount for the mandatory tips. If you care about value, please dont let NCL nickle and dime you. NCL's old philosophy used to be the product will draw customers and we will charge a fair price, now it appears they are trying to earn money by charging high prices for excursions and other on board amenities. Entertainment - The best ever of my NCL experiences, the production shows were great. Jenine the main dancer, acrobat was fantastic along with the whole cast, the voices of the entertainers were first class, Second City was very funny, The Magician was great. Jose and Patti, always plenty of quality music to listen to. The negatives - some of the ports are horrible the little bay in Samana was beautiful however you really cant explore the island by yourself that is how NCL gets you by their excursions, charging near 60 bucks just to go to a beach for one person. The same goes for Roataan. I would prefer they just dock out at their private island in the Bahamas so one could tender to the beach every day at no charge. Again we did not pay for the excursions and just stayed on the ship in Roataan and Samana. Aruba and Curaco were great safe places with beautiful beaches, in Curaco you can book an impromptu tour and beach run for 15 bucks a person from a local company, in Aruba you can take the public bus system all over the island we went to Eagle beach a few minutes down the road it costs us $2.50 a piece round trip, let's see NCL price for a beach $120 for two people vs $5 round trip. You just cant to this in Samana and Roataan. If you are planning on spending money on board then please to a cost analysis vs an all inclusive at a great beach resort. For those of you who might be contemplating a trip on epic, please read the negative reviews on this site, we docked next to it, it was ugly and stacked upon one another, even though it can hold 4000 people it is only 200 feet longer than the DAWN (holds 2000). Reviews state the ship is very smoky, you must walk thru the casino on deck 6 to get across the ship, you can go on deck 7 but the casino has no ceiling so smoke goes to deck 7, there is no promenade deck on the epic, the open spaces that make up cruising are gone on the epic, it is crowded, the main theatre only holds 681, you need reservations to see the main shows, the buffet is extremely crowded and hard to find places to sit, some balcony rooms are open so items fall on your balcony. Please do your research. We were going to book on the epic thinking a new ship it must be great, then when we parked next to it and saw that is looked like a crowded container ship and we started to do a little research. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We were poking around on NCL's "Hot Deals" page and came across this 12 day repositioning cruise. Norwegian's DAWN serves the New York City market during the spring and summer but gets "repositioned" to the ... Read More
We were poking around on NCL's "Hot Deals" page and came across this 12 day repositioning cruise. Norwegian's DAWN serves the New York City market during the spring and summer but gets "repositioned" to the Miami market for the winter. These cruises are popular and come with some pretty reasonable prices. A couple clicks later and we were in. This was our third cruise and our second on DAWN. When we cruised on DAWN last year from NYC through Canada and New England we had a balcony cabin and frankly have gotten spoiled. Balconies are great and we've gotten to really like the wall to wall and floor to ceiling window they provide. Of course having a place to sit and watch the world go by isn't to shabby either. Sailing out of New York harbor was really special this time around. DAWN has been sailing from New York for eight years but will be returning to Boston in the spring. This was her final departure from New York so passing by the Statue of Liberty was done with much fanfare. This was an absolutely wonderful cruise for us. In 12 days we stopped in 5 ports which meant we had lots of sea days mixed in. We enjoy the sea days because the pace is much more relaxed. The weather and sea conditions don't get any better. In fact, Roatan Honduras was hit by a hurricane 4 days after we left the area, whew! In addition, passengers were predominantly adults with 46 different nationalities represented. We were told that around 800 of the 2200 passengers were non-US citizens with the largest group being from Germany. We must be easy to please because we had no complaints about the food, our cabin, the ship, or the service. We did run into a couple who said this was their 17th cruise... their first and last on NCL. When asked why they mentioned the lack of "formal bridge card games" and the "lack of lectures on topics like local wildlife and fauna". Sounded like nitpicking to me but like I said, we're easy to please... Our first port was Samana in the Dominican Republic. You know that things are "rustic" when the cruise line has no shopping venues to suggest. Word on the ship was to make your way to one of several beaches. We didn't want to spend the day on a beach so we found an excursion titled "Waterfall Hike". This excursion was rated an activity level 3 and said to expect to get dirty. Traveling to/from the trailhead was an eye opener in itself and I managed to capture some images that will remind me of how lucky we are to live here in the USA. At the trailhead, we were encouraged to leave our sneakers behind and wear boots which everyone did. Conditions were HOT and MUGGY and the trail was narrow, steep, rocky, and covered in ankle deep mud. It most definitely was a challenge! We were told to bring swimwear but the waterfall was muddy water so we did not go in for a swim. Some of the others did. We gave the excursion a 5 star rating because we SURVIVED in spite of being the oldest people on the trail. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was our 9th cruise, 4th with NCL. After positive experiences on the Spirit and absolutely FABULOUS EVERYTHING on the Jewel, we booked the Dawn. We booked waaaaay in advance and were pre-assigned our "balcony" room ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise, 4th with NCL. After positive experiences on the Spirit and absolutely FABULOUS EVERYTHING on the Jewel, we booked the Dawn. We booked waaaaay in advance and were pre-assigned our "balcony" room which appeared to be in the perfect location; midship forward. The pictures on-line looked just fine and it was an upgraded balcony room. Expensive, but we thought worth it since it WAS a 9 day cruise. EMBARKATION: A breeze. Zip, you're on. SHIP: We weren't prepared for a VERY WORN ship in need of MAJOR repair or replacement of elevator buttons, carpeting, pool tiles (color completely worn off), everything wood/teak, faded plastic palm trees (rather funny), etc. Generally good layout, easy to get around. Card rooms, plenty of lounges, theater big enough to seat everyone. Loved it. Pool area has tierd lounge chair areas so you always have a good view of the tiny pool area. There's not much room to dance on the pool deck and none at all if the lounge chairs are out. STATEROOM: "Ugh, we have to live in this for 9 days? and look at .... that?????" We opened the cabin door and looked straight out at a huge, floor to ceiling, wall to wall steel plate with a giant window cut out instead of the balcony that was in the pictures both on Internet and in print. The paint was flaking off & had covered the flooring & dark blue fabric of the chairs, rust stains were streaming down the white paint, the light fixture was literally HANGING OUT of the ceiling. It was like a slum apartment. Interior cleaning & maintenance of room so neglected that drips of some scary, unknown substance and dust were covering the walls, pictures & mirrors, hair filled the air intake on the blow dryer and the buttons on the safe were completely worn off. There were directions on the door but with no way to read the buttons, you couldn't use the safe!!! Let's not even talk about the carpet. We kept our shoes on. BEDDING: Lumpy, hard pillows, a mattress of iron and pilled, crispy sheets. Go ahead, ask: How did we sleep? BATHROOM: A bright spot. Clean and everything worked. YEAH! It was better than the room. But, forget any simple cheap "luxuries.". No, no no! No tiny toiletries for us! We spend almost $2,000 for a cruise but we no get shower cap, solid soap nor conditioner. I may not even use them, but the cheapest of hotels these days provide those things!!! Come on, NCL, make me feel just a little special! SERVICE: We reported problems to the front desk and they just kept elevating it to another level, another person, another non-english comprehending nodding head. We gave up. There was only so much time we were going to spend to get things repaired and cleaned. No other balcony cabins were available, we were at sea, we were STUCK & NCL knew it so did nothing. They all smile and are very, very nice, but just NOTHING gets changed. You feel like your in the "Twilight Zone" at times. DINING: The buffet is all you need. Really. We're food snobs from New Orleans and that buffet is so international and extensive we LOVED IT! Lamb, shrimp cocktails, hearts of palm, fresh crepes filled with chocolate, eggs benedict - YES! All on the buffet. For a little steak or one night of lobster, or if you like dressing up more go ahead and go to the main dining room but it's not as interesting as that international buffet. SPECIALTY DINING: Save your money. The ambiance is really nice and we had a good time but the food was very bland. For instance: Bamboo - $15 upcharge. Unremarkable menu, shrimp fried in wanton wrapper with no seasoning whatsoever on a bed of lettuce, the sushi downright terrible and the desserts were not so hot. They did go out of their way to find a bottle of pinor noir for us when it wasn't on the wine list. It was the young, smart, energetic waitstaff that made it an evening, NOT THE FOOD. ENTERTAINMENT: Really well done. CD was very energetic, fun and dedicated. He seemed to love people and his job. Dancing with the Stars was absolutely brilliant and the show dancers, musicians & singers were first rate. Nice that many of them are able to move about and interact with the passengers. The singers were the best we've ever heard. They had a Tina Turner wannabe that sang and acted her heart out. The other full time band could turn out believable 40's to the current tunes; even did Led Zepplin. That was one talented, hard working band. Guest DJ's did their best to cater to the crowd and the white night disco dance had lots of energy. Outside Reggae gets monotonous. How much liberation and discontent music can you stand to listen to even if it is done with steel drums & a Carribbean beat??? ACTIVITIES: Lots of them really, But, they lean too heavily toward gambling. More dancing outside and interactive games would be nice. The seminars and workshops with the comedians were a step in the right direction. PORTS & EXCURSIONS: Sun, surf & even a UNESCO site. Very good. You will always find something interesting to do no matter what your interests are. Samana is a challenge - not sure why they go there. Skinny dogs and dust?? We didnt' quite get it compared to the other FABULOUS ports of call. SPECIAL ALERT: Everything's an extra: Want orange juice after 10 a.m. from room service? That'll be $1.95 per glass..... no I'm not kidding! Tour of the ship which used to be a free activity we all attended ... sorry, FEE APPLIES!! A 45 minute workout? $35 plus tip!!! This goes on and on ........ SUMMARY: Next cruise we'll go on Cruise Critic to literally see the balcony type & room position, check the age of the ship or time since a refurb and probably try another cruise line. NCL's cut back in a lot of areas to save money. Some understandable but not necessarily a good idea. The crew are what brings people back to NCL, not the hotel. We're still cruisers but it'll be a while before we're ready to go NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Our NCL Dawn Experience- My husband and I are avid cruisers and have decided that freestyle cruising was definitely for us. We have sailed on 6 different cruise lines and never, never been as disappointed in the food as we were on this ... Read More
Our NCL Dawn Experience- My husband and I are avid cruisers and have decided that freestyle cruising was definitely for us. We have sailed on 6 different cruise lines and never, never been as disappointed in the food as we were on this cruise. The first night we tried to keep an open mind even though the dining room did not serve as nice a meal as any of our local chain restaurants. The 2nd day was at sea, we expected as usual some special offering in the main dining room. After going to the cruise critic members meet and greet we were very discouraged to see the menu for dinner. It involved the regular menu which was a left page full of things you could have every night, like chicken, fish and chips, and a small steak---and the right hand side would have one soup, one salad, and 2 new entrees and 1 vegetarian dish. That night it was braised short ribs and a vegetarian dish that sounded awful. We asked an officer at the meeting why the food was so disappointing so far. She said that they had a new chef and were experimenting with a new menu. She was sure we would get more "special" meals offered later in the cruise. So, we decided that that night would be a good time to try a specialty restaurant since there was nothing on either menu that sounded tasteful. IF you don't want to be a passenger guinea pig for the NCL menu testing, read further: We made a reservation and went to the Bamboo, and ate their "Asian Fusion" menu. Being from California and having eaten oriental food from around the world, we did have some high expectations. The first course was a little promising as the Chicken salad dish was a bit unique. But after ordering 10 other dishes to eat family style, as they were very small portions, we found we could barely swallow some of the items down. The "sauces" were all the same and ketchup based. All the meat was in large, flavorless chunks and there were almost no Chinese flavors we recognized. My husband grew up near China town and is somewhat of a experienced Chinese food expert. We ended up leaving the table with most of the dishes barely touched. We felt that if we were going to eat those kind of calories at least they should be tasty and worth the workout in the gym which we had planned. The "pork ribs" where short ribs from the dining room's menu with some brown sauce and sesame seeds. Communication with NCL: We felt like asking for our $30 back that we had to pay to dine there. We went to talk to the Latitudes lady hoping that someone would explain what had gone so wrong with the food. After all we had recently sailed on the NCL Sun, twice actually, and never had any complaints about their food except that we had wanted an offering of shrimp cocktail once in awhile in the dining room. The Latitudes lady acted surprised and said that was her favorite restaurant, and we looked at her in stunned surprise. Then she did admit that the DAWN was doing an experiment with their menus for the fleet, by not changing the left side main menu and offering the same exact thing every night with just a few new entrees on the right. We told her the experiment wasn't working and we were very disappointed that NCL chose to cut corners on this so much. We understand economic realities, but doesn't most everyone go on cruises in part to have good dining experiences and have quality meals? She said she would give our cabin number to the man in charge of the restaurants. He did call us back the next day but his only reply was that Asian Fusion was different and should not taste like any Chinese food we have had before. (Which is quite interesting considering the dishes had names like Kung Pow Chicken, Mandarin Shrimp, Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Pork, etc. just like any other Chinese restaurant....) He offered to make us a reservation at any other restaurant or the dining room, which puzzled us as we knew perfectly well how to make a reservation. That was clearly not the problem--rather that there was no where we felt confident we could get a good meal. During the rest of this 9 day cruise we would like to report that the food improved. However, this did happen only once, when they offered Prime Rib the 2nd to the last night before the cruise ended. Unfortunately all our impressions had been solidified by that point. We had one night with olive oil soaked Mexican skirt steak which left us the rest of the evening to try and cleanse the taste away. Another night with Pork Scaloppini that my husband had to spit out after taking a bite, and I just put to the side for the server to take back. It was a breaded pork cutlet, I think, but all we could taste was the baked on bread covering. They did have a lobster night, but it consisted of one small piece of lobster (overcooked by the comments of everyone at tables around us) and a much bigger piece of grouper. And again no shrimp cocktail as other lines had offered every night. The desserts were passable but they basically just changed the flavor of the cheesecake every night to have something "new". The chocolate mouse on the left was very good and rich, but not to have it every night..... By the way the breakfast and lunch menus never changed. At the last 2 sea days we decided to try the buffet upstairs, which we usually never go to on other cruises, as we like more quiet and relaxed dining, but we were desperate for some variety. Unfortunately we went through the line with the mobs of people, and had only been able to select some fruit that looked appealing. They had run out of many items early on this cruise, or else were rationing them to make it through--this included such things as pineapple, brown sugar, sour cream, cream cheese, etc. Actually the highlight of most meals was the soups--they did have an excellent soup chef. Their salads however were mostly lettuce and mediocre. Now for the good news--If you happen to go on this cruise the best place to eat was open 24 hours and was called the Blue Lagoon. It was the same kitchen we think that made the room service food, but it was set up like a little diner and although it had a very limited menu, those items were delicious!. It billed itself as comfort food, and offered a wonderful tomato bisque soup that was so hot when delivered we had to wait for it to cool, along with buffalo wings, chicken strips, fish and chips (much better than dining room), hamburgers and hot dogs. It also offered fresh hot breakfasts of omelets, eggs, french toast, etc. All these items were cooked immediately after ordering and brought hot and fresh to your table. We resorted many days to eating here when the dining room menus were terribly uninspiring :-) This became "our place" when we wanted a hot, quick, and tasty meal we could count on. We even told the head of the food on the ship this was our favorite dining place. At first we had thought that we might be too picky about the food??? But then everywhere we went we heard other people complaining about the food. The only ones who didn't say anything were first time cruisers who hadn't known exactly what to expect--although a few of them said they were disappointed from what they had been lead to believe. All the experienced cruisers we met on shore excursions, in the halls, at the shows, etc. were dramatically upset about the food. Several had paid extra and tried all of the so-called specialty restaurants and said they had wasted their money. The only one that seemed to serve the quality that was expected was the Tex-Mex restaurant. We ended our cruise with this being a dark mark against the whole experience since we faced it every day. No matter how wonderful the ports--and they were for the most part--no matter how excellent the stewards were in their cabin service--and they were for the most part, and no matter how fun the entertainment was--and it was exceptional, probably the highlight of this particular cruise, ---the taint of the disappointing quality and variety of the food seemed to always come back to us. Cabins-nice sized cabins but a bit smaller than on the last ship for a balcony and it took us 6 nights of request to get the middle "bump" in our bed with some padding so we didn't wake up with a back ache. Entertainment was very well done--only objected to P-G 13 gestures and humor at 7:30 dinner shows that families were at. Wish they'd keep the suggestive dancing and dirty jokes for the later evening "adults only" entertainment. As a side note--the embarkation was smooth and efficient as NCL always does. This has been our 4th NCL cruise and the disembarkation did surprise us. We were walking off the ship on our own to catch our plane and had to wait more than an hour on the outside deck in a line with hundreds of people before we could begin walking towards customs. As if that wasn't tough enough, there were no cruise officers or personnel overseeing this "line"--no roping off of the area where we were supposed to line up--so several of our fellow passengers came out 5 minutes before we got off the ship, with their drinks in hand, decided they were too good or something to go to the end of the line and wait like the rest of us. So when the line started moving at least 50 people just merged in right ahead of of those of us who had formed an orderly line and waited by that time 80 minutes or so. They ignored the cries of those in line to go to the end of the line and just muscled their way forward. NCL does need to monitor these disembarkation lines if they insist we form them and have to line up so long in advance. We are debating rather to sail on another NCL cruise after this experience. We are one cruise from Silver status but don't know if it is worth chancing the bad dining room experience and overall poor food quality...... We will put shore excursions here: Samana-Went to Cayo Levantado and it was excellent. After hearing about everyone else's excursions think we made the right choice and would do that private beach again. Tortola-Had done the Baths on earlier cruise so did Clear Waters of Van Jost. Very nice but way too crowded with private yachts. Should cordon off place for swimmers or visitor's from cruises or something. No where to snorkel. Antigua-our original excursion on Sub-Cat was cancelled by company so we did Pirates on Black Swan. Fun crew and swinging off boat on rope and gang plank, but beach was mediocre. Would not repeat. Barbados-our favorite excursion to swim with sea turtles. They were wonderful and we would go see them again. Beach was not worth it but should stay by boat and snorkle. St. Kitts-beautiful volcanic island--took Island tour and loved the Fortress on top of the hill. Think we've see it all however and would probably not repeat. Would definitely not go to Cockleshell beach as there was no swimming or snorkeling to speak up, and no-see-ums let their marks on our legs as souvenirs. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We just got back from our 9 night cruise on the Norwegian Dawn to the Southern Caribbean. Hopefully my review will cover most aspects of our trip. Embarkation in Miami was easy and painless. As soon as you enter the terminal, you ... Read More
We just got back from our 9 night cruise on the Norwegian Dawn to the Southern Caribbean. Hopefully my review will cover most aspects of our trip. Embarkation in Miami was easy and painless. As soon as you enter the terminal, you immediately go through the x-ray process, and then on to check-in. Since we were Suite guests, there is a separate line for check-in, as well as a small office for this process to occur in a quiet, more relaxed setting. As a Suite guest, you can make dinner reservations for the entire cruise at check-in time via the concierge, who greeted us during our check-in. Another perk of being in a Suite is supposedly being taken right to your cabin by NCL personnel. One of the Butlers escorted us and another couple to the ship, but then left us to escort the other couple to their cabin. Perhaps this was due to the fact that we had sailed the Dawn before, and they just assumed we could find our own way. However, in our last 3 cruises on NCL, all in Suites, we have yet to be escorted to our cabin. Not a big deal, but it is a promised perk for Suite guests. Our cabin was on Deck 10 aft, cabin 10228. This is a category AD stateroom, which is known as a Romance Suite. The cabin size is great at approximately 290 square feet and with about a 100 square foot balcony. The bathroom was very nice, and is the same as what you would expect in Categories AC, AE, AF and AG. It was broken down into 3 'compartments'. There was the toilet on the right, the sink in the middle, and a bathtub with a very nice shower head on the left. The bathroom is probably about 54 square feet alone. The toilet and the shower both have nice sliding doors, but since they are clear glass, there really is no privacy if 2 people want to use the bathroom at the same time. High quality soaps, shampoo and conditioner are provided and refilled as necessary. Someone at NCL clearly has a sense of humor, as there was a scale in the bathroom. No good can come from getting on a bathroom scale during a cruise. The bedding and pillows in the cabin were super comfy, and the cabin was extremely quite. This made for some great sleeping. The balcony for the AD Suite is the largest of the AFT Suites, but you generally pay a hefty premium for this category over the AFT AE Suites. Some of the nice perks of this category stateroom were having a Butler (Ravi), and a Concierge (Anshuman). We had Ravi last year on the Dawn as well, and loved having him again this year. Ravi brought an afternoon snack to the room every evening around 5pm. The other notable things Ravi did for us was deliver breakfast to our room on several mornings, including debarkation day, as well as dinner on several evenings. Since we were in a Suite, the room service breakfast menu was expanded compared to the lower category staterooms. For example, you could order almost anything that is available at the buffet. Ravi also brought MANY plates of food for us from the Blue Lagoon all week during our sail away happy hours. Anshuman, the concierge, is available to help with tender tickets and priority reservations for dinner. NCL generally allows you to only make dinner reservations for the same day or the following day. With the concierge, you could actually make all of your reservations on the first day, if you knew where you wanted to eat that far in advance. Anshuman actually was able to make a reservation for us for 10 people at the Italian restaurant (Impressions) only hours before dinner, so that was a great help to us. Anshuman seems to be everywhere on the ship, and really makes you feel like you are his only guests. Our cabin Stewards were Daya and Eleser, and they were great. Our room was always perfect, and they made us several towel animals during the week. The always had a smile on their faces and took time to say hello to us every time we saw them. Other Suite perks include... - You can order room service from any menu on the ship, rather than the normal room service only menu, as long as the restaurant is actually open. In other words, you can't order dinner from a restaurant at 1am, if the restaurant closed at 10:30pm. The only exceptions to this are Tappenyaki and Sushi, which you cannot order at any time in your cabin, for obvious reasons. You still have to pay the same fee for the specialty restaurants even if have it delivered to your cabin. - Upgraded towels and robes. The Terry robes were nice, but too heavy for the Caribbean. We actually asked Ravi to bring us the Waffle Robes that they have in the Mini-Suites, as they breathe much better. He obliged with no problem. The towels are huge and very plush. - Cagney's restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch for Suite guests only, so it is not extremely crowded, and a nice quiet alternative to the buffet. It is free of charge for breakfast and lunch, and the meals here were excellent. - A larger TV in the room with a selection of DVDs that can be obtained from the Butler. There is a list in the room of about 80 available movies. - A coffee/cappuccino machine in the room. Making coffee was a piece of cake, but we did not get creative enough to make cappuccino. Saturday morning, our first day at sea, we had our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle. We had a great turn out of approximately 80 people. NCL's Meet & Mingles are done very well, as we had about 8 officers plus the Cruise Director introduce themselves and make themselves available for questions. The Dawn also has a random drawing to allow guests to dine with an officer, which makes for a special dinner. Ok, let's talk food, shall we? The Garden Cafe is a decent buffet style restaurant with many choices. The Dawn does not have the 'action stations' of the newer NCL ships, but the layout is still very good. The food in the Garden Cafe was very good for the most part, and there are a large number of choices. If you can't find something good to eat here, you have not tried very hard. Breakfast is served here until about 11:30am, which is great for late sleepers. You can also get breakfast items at the Blue Lagoon, although since we never tried it, I can't comment on the menu or quality. Dinner on this ship is full of choices. There are about 11 different choices when you count room service. We did not eat in all of them during this cruise, but here are the details of the ones we did get to experience. We ate at 1 of the 'Specialty' Restaurants that have a cover charge. We also ate at Impressions, which serves Italian food. This is also one of the 'specialty' restaurants on the Dawn, and has a $10 per person cover charge. The menu has quite a few choices for food, and while we don't think the Bolognese sauce was as good as on previous NCL cruises, the meal was still very good. The scenery and atmosphere of this restaurant were first rate. You would never even think you were on a cruise ship, but rather, a fine restaurant anywhere in the world. All in all, a meal like this would probably run you about $50-$60 for 2 in any fine restaurant, so at $20, it was still a good deal. Aqua is one of the 2 main dining rooms. It is not like a traditional dining room on a cruise. Most ships main dining rooms are large, brightly lit rooms. This restaurant had nice subdued lighting, and was broken up into sections more like a traditional land restaurant. Our meal here was very good, although the chef obviously has an issue with cooking steaks. I ordered mine medium rare, and it came out well done. The next night we had dinner delivered to our room from this restaurant, and I ordered the steak rare, hoping it would be closer to medium rare, which it was. Ahmed, the Maitre D' in Aqua was very friendly and a lot of fun. Venetian is the other of the 2 main dining rooms. It is more of the traditional cruise ship restaurant, very large and brightly lit. Our meal here was also very good. Other nights for dinner were spent at the Garden Cafe and the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is open 24 hours a day. There is a limited menu here, but you can order as much as you want, and there is no charge. Chicken wings, Hot Dogs, Fish & Chips, Chicken Strips were all very good, as well as an extremely delicious Panini. The menu includes a few other items including burgers, but I never tried anything else other than the items listed above. This is the only restaurant that is open very late, so if you are hungry after midnight, you have 3 choices, the Blue Lagoon, the Casino for light snacks, or room service. We did try the regular room service menu on this trip on 2 occasions. I am not sure if the room service menu is different for suites, but the BLT's were very good on the one night we ordered them. The Personal Pizzas we ordered on a different night were nothing special. The pizza in the Garden Cafe was MUCH better. We also took advantage of the expanded Suite breakfast menu. This was great on those mornings when you will be doing excursions off the ship, and do not want to spend time going to the restaurants. You hang the card on your door at night with the choice of items you want, the time you want them delivered, and you are done. It is very nice to sit on your balcony first thing in the morning enjoying breakfast. The pool area was very nice, but unfortunately very crowded. There is only 1 pool here, and there was WAY too many little kids in the pool jumping in on top of people. NCL is trying to cut down on the chair hogs by charging $25 for lost towels. I guess they figure that people will not be as likely to leave an unattended towel if it might disappear and end up costing them $25. I'm not sure it solves this purpose, as I saw more chairs with towels on them than people. The pool has a nice wading area around it, so you can sit in 6 inches of water if you just want to get wet without going into the pool. Oddly enough, the crew starts taking the deck chairs off the deck at about 6pm, so the pool deck all but closes down early. There is some very good food served at 'The Bimini Bar & Grill' above the pool deck. The pool deck band was excellent, but they did not seem to play long enough during the day, and the breaks lasted too long. This seems to be the same on all NCL ships. I don't understand how the pool band plays for only about 2.5 total hours (if that) during sea days. In addition, I wish they would have played at night, perhaps in the Spinnaker Lounge, since they were quite good. The casino is nicely colored, and a decent size, but WAY too smoky. There are light snacks offered in here late in the evenings, for those who are hungry and don't want to leave the casino. The other places on the ship to comment about were the galleria on the ship, and some of the other bars and lounges. The galleria was very large, but out of the way in the aft part of Deck 7. Most ships force you through the shopping area every which way you go, but this ship is laid out differently. As far as the bars go, there are several on this ship, but there seems to be almost a non-existent night life on this ship, unless you were 20 and like hip hop music. The Star Bar piano player ended by 10pm each night and the performer in Gatsby's lounge also ended well before midnight. The Spinnaker lounge hosted a few shows during the week as well as the 'white-hot' party and 'Quest', but was underutilized during the evenings on most nights. I'm not sure why they did not have a disco here later in the evenings, but they continued to use the much smaller (and more wide open) Dazzles lounge. Unfortunately, Dazzles lounge is directly underneath several cabins on Deck 8, so they had to turn the volume down in the evenings so as not to disturb those guests. They could have solved this by using Spinnaker more. Perhaps the 20 year olds liked the music being played, but in my opinion, the DJ's on the NCL ships are horrible. It would have been nice for the Dawn to use the Spinnaker lounge for a DJ that would cater to the 35-55 crowd and leave Dazzles to the 18-25 crowd. Unfortunately, they do not do this on any of the NCL cruises we have been on. The Dawn is definitely not the ship for you if you are a late night person looking for activity. The pool deck closes very early, except for the night of the deck party, which was a HUGE disappointment. The specialty bars all seemed to be closed by midnight, and if you stayed up past midnight, there was very little to do on this ship. This was very disappointing, but par for the course for NCL. One last part of the ship to talk about is the Stardust Theater, which I have commented on in past reviews of the Jewel Class Ships, but my comments very much pertain to the Dawn class ships as well. This is the main theater for shows and is fairly large. However, there are several problems with this theater. First, this is the worst design of a theater I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The seats are like an old movie theater, not a cruise ship or Vegas style lounge. The seats are very narrow and have no leg room. It is very difficult to get into a row without stepping on other people. There are no drink holders, or room for anything for that matter. The 'wings' on the outside of the theater have no aisle along the walls, so you have to climb over everyone to sit in the outer sections of the theater. The seats along the outside edge of the theater are useless anyway due to obstructed views, so they would be better off removing those seats in favor of another access point for these outer sections. In addition, don't dare sit up in the balcony sections, as the views are absolutely horrible. Whoever designed this theater should find themselves out of work, as this is absolutely the worst flaw of an otherwise well laid out ship. I would not be surprised to see NCL totally redo this theater one day when the ship is in for refurbishment. The other complaint I have with the theater is that on most nights, the show times were at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. In my opinion, this is just way too early, with very few activities to do after the shows are over. There needed to be more 10:30pm shows for people who wanted to eat between 8 and 10. Otherwise, you cannot make either show. And one last point here. NCL should prevent people from entering the theater once the show begins. Nothing is worse than people climbing over me in the dark and interrupting me even though I managed to make it on time. The days in port were very good. The only negative was that the Dawn had to tender in to Samana. This means that you cannot just walk off the ship and be at the port, you have to take a small boat (usually the ships lifeboats) to the destination. Of course, this takes time. There is time spent waiting for the tenders, and time spent on the boat ride in to the dock. If you have a tour excursion that you purchased through the ship, you get priority so that you won't miss your tour. If you do not have a tour with the ship, you have to wait for the others to disembark first. You also need to get a tender ticket so that you can disembark when your ticket is called. Luckily as a Suite guest, you get VIP tendering via the Concierge, so it eliminates this issue. We did excursions in Tortola and Antigua. In Tortola, we went to Jost Van Dyke and absorbed our share of 'Painkillers' This place should be renamed 'Caribbean Bliss' as I don't think there is a more laid back place to soak up sun and adult beverages. In Antigua we did a great Catamaran tour which lasts about 5 1/2 hours. There is a snorkel stop, lots of sailing, and about 75 minutes of beach time. In between this was an open bar and a great lunch onboard the cat. Disembarkation day on NCL is done very well. Breakfast was being served in the main dining room, as well as the buffet. This is a far cry from Royal Caribbean or Carnival, which throw you off the ship early in the morning with very few food choices. NCL is first rate here, and guests were not completely off of the ship until after 10am. Since they do the disembarking in stages, there is not too much waiting around. As Suite guests, we had VIP disembarking privileges, should we choose to use them to get off the ship early if we wanted to. We chose not to, but our luggage was easily found in the VIP area. A few last points about our trip on the Dawn... - The crew, especially Hugo (The Hotel Director), Anshuman, and Ravi were fantastic. If you are lucky enough to have dinner with Hugo one evening during your cruise, you will be sure to enjoy it. Hugo and his crew are one of the biggest draws for the Dawn and one of the main reasons we sailed it 2 years in a row. Shona (The Cruise Director) and Ray-Ray (Assistant Cruise Director) are part of a very friendly activities staff. - The elevators were pretty quick, compared to other ships we have been on, especially the larger RCCL ships. - There are cameras EVERYWHERE on this ship. We always joke that they were keeping track of all the food we ate so they could bill us a food surcharge at the end of the cruise. - There are none of the cool LCDs around the ship to tell you the status of any restaurant on the ship as there are on the Jewel Class ships. They would show which of the restaurants were open, and how full they were. This was pretty informative. Hopefully when they put the Dawn in dry dock next year, these will be added. - There is no interactive TV in the guest staterooms. On other lines, you could check your onboard account balance, as well as order excursions, etc. I hope they add this to NCL's ships in the near future. It would be nice if they tied this in to the system that shows the currently available restaurant seating like on the Jewel Class ships. - The Dawn is definitely starting to show its age, although the ship is extremely well maintained, and the crew was constantly cleaning the common areas all week long. They do a great job keeping the ship looking good. We sailed this ship last year, and while it has aged, it has done so gracefully. 99% of the crew we interacted with was extremely friendly and pleasant. Kudos to Daya and Eleser, our cabin stewards. We never had to ask for anything. - The Bollywood show was excellent. It is similar to a Cirque Du Soleil show, and should not be missed. It is as good as any show you will ever see on a ship. Dave Heenan, the comedian was good in the welcome show and had a very good late night show in the Spinnaker. The Magician Greg Gleason, had a great magic show, but his second show based on ESP was bland and lacking in my opinion. - The Dazzles lounge supposedly has a curfew at midnight for anyone under 18, yet every night, we saw kids we knew were under 18 in the lounge after midnight. NCL did not enforce this very well, and to make matters worse, the DJ played music to cater to this age group, rather than the average age of the majority of the people in the lounge. Needless to say, the adults did not stay out in this lounge very late each night. NCL needs to choose an older DJ and cater more to the adults on this ship, which are actually paying for most of the fares. - Keep in mind that NCL handles tips differently than other lines. They automatically add a $12 per person gratuity to your onboard account to cover tips for your stateroom attendants and waiters. Also keep in mind that if you are in a Suite, these automatic gratuities DO NOT cover the services of the Butler or Concierge, so you need to tip them separately according to the services they provide. - I am not sure why NCL allows small kids in the 'White Hot' Party or shows like the Liars Club. These clearly should be adult only events/shows. I mean who wants to go to a nightclub and be surrounded by kids. There should be more adult only types of activities. And then there are the parents (haha) of these kids that need to take parenting classes. Why you would have your 8 year old kids in a show that is clearly geared toward adults with adult language is beyond me. Shame on all of you for subjecting your kids to that and us to your kids. Taking this further, in my opinion there should be a curfew for anyone under 18 on any cruise ship. Again, I am not sure how parents leave their 14-17 year old kids completely unsupervised until 2am or later. - Cost Cuts. Latitudes pins are gone, although there was a nice Latitudes happy hour party on one of the last days of the cruise. I realize it's not a big thing for some, but I happen to like my Latitudes pins that I have received during our past NCL cruises. How much can these really cost NCL? Also, as seems to be consistent with other lines today, no more chocolates on the pillow at night. Not a big deal really...I'd rather have my Latitudes pin. I hear NCL is going to be changing the Latitudes program soon. I sure hope it does not get the same treatment as the NCL MasterCard did about a year ago. Remember how bad that change was? I wish NCL would give credits based on cabin category the way RCCL does. On RCCL if you sail in a suite, you get 2 cruise credits rather than just 1. On NCL, you get one cruise credit regardless if you are in a $499 inside cabin or a $4500 Owners Suite. Gone too are the welcome aboard glass of champagne. Unusually absent this year on the Dawn were comment cards. Perhaps eliminating these is a cost saving measure, but I'm not sure this is a smart move by NCL. I, for one, filled out my comment card on every cruise. I think these are invaluable in allowing the cruise line to figure out where it's doing well and where it needs to improve. In addition, NCL seems to make it extra difficult to send comments to them. I don't believe they provide an email address anywhere on their website to allow for feedback, but rather they provide a mailing address, which to me is FAR more inconvenient. - And then there are the Photos. In my opinion, NCL's photo prices are too high, especially given the fact that they are not shooting film, but rather digital photos. And the prices are also too high given the crappy quality of the pictures their amateur photographers shoot. They do not know how to properly crop or properly frame a subject for an 8x10, so often peoples heads are at the very top edge of the photo, making it almost impossible to frame the picture. Whatever they pay these people is too much, as the quality of the photos does not deserve these high prices. In addition, perhaps it was the lack of quality or the high prices that resulted in thousands of pictures going unsold and thrown away. I saw this firsthand on the very last night of the cruise before the photo shop closed. Maybe if the prices were more reasonable, and the quality was better, they would sell more photos. In addition, this was such a waste of so much paper, that you would think NCL would come up with a way for people to view their photos on a monitor before they printed them out. Disneyworld does this by giving you a plastic card that contains references to all of your pictures, and then you can view them before deciding to buy. No paper is wasted this way, and the benefits of doing business this way saves lots of money on paper and chemicals. I hope NCL adopts this type of system in the near future. It would be more economical as well as more environmentally friendly. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise very much. Our room was incredible with a fantastic view from the balcony. The ship is laid out well, and is easy to navigate. The food was excellent and never left you looking for anything with all the choices there were. However, the lack of evening entertainment and night life was disappointing, as it has been on our past Norwegian cruises. We had a great time on this trip, due in part to the crew and the itinerary, but mainly due to the great people that we sailed with and met during our cruise. And in the end, that's what makes a vacation special to me. Good Luck and Bon Voyage!!! A special thanks to....Marnie & Hunter, Dave & Sandy, Ray & Heather, Ray & Jackie, Brenda & Curtis, the Slot Pull crew, and of course, my Foof. You guys made this trip unforgettable!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We sailed to the Southern Caribbean on the Dawn in mid March. Weather was fantastic. My overall impression of the trip was good. As always what you put into any venture effects what you get out of it. These are my impressions. Embarkation: ... Read More
We sailed to the Southern Caribbean on the Dawn in mid March. Weather was fantastic. My overall impression of the trip was good. As always what you put into any venture effects what you get out of it. These are my impressions. Embarkation: To this end NCL reigns supreme. I have never had a bad experience and again this was true. We arrived at 11:15 am and was setting in the Venetian enjoying lunch before noon. The ship: The Dawn is a beautiful ship and well maintained. Getting around can be a little confusing but as time passes, it's a breeze. I especially like that the Casino of situated where you need to make an effort to get there. Many other ships put it in a path that forces you to go through it but not so on the Dawn. Post: The itinerary was excellent, I even enjoyed Samana, which I did have some reservations on. I don't like to Tender but the Dawn crew made it an efficient process. All the other ports were docked and no problem getting around. Dining: Well this is an area which I did have some disappointments. We ate in the Venetion all but one night. For the most part service was excellent. We did however have one unpleasant evening where we had dirty plates in front of us for over 20 minutes. I would excuse this if they were busy, but this was not the case, it was more of a lack of attention. But like I said this was only 1 of 9. As for the food, I think NCL may need to work a little on the menu, It was not as good as we have experienced on other NCL cruises. I think the problem for me lies more in selection than quality. What I tried was good, but the variety that I expected was not there. Specialty restaurants were available but we did not use them. We will have to explore this more on future cruises. I almost forgot the Buffets, they were excellent and we never had a problem finding something we liked. Cabin Staff: Excellent, never a problem, room was kept clean and serviced through out the cruise. Definite, hats off to the cabin staff. Entertainment was so-so. To be honest I have bragged on previous cruises but on this I would call it adequate only, although the crew skit was the high point. Maintenance: I realize that there is a concerted need for continuous maintenance on any ship. We had the unfortunate luck to have a major task going on just outside our cabin for most of the cruise. Although an effort was made to keep disruption at a minimum it was an inconvenience, one of which we forgive due to the need. Disembarkation: Best ever of any cruise. From the time we met in the Bamboo lounge until we were leaving in our rental car for Orlando...under an hour. absolutely fantastic. Hands off to NCL, Miami Cabs, and Budget for making my most dreaded part of the trip, the best ever. All and all, we had a positive experience. A high point was our meet and greet for cruise critics member. We had two gatherings and NCL supported us very professionally. We had over 50 members attend. It was great putting faces on otherwise names and nicknames. I'm glad that NCL supports Cruise Critics and hope they continue in the future. We plan to do the 5 day cruise to Cozumel and Grand Cayman next spring and see that the Dawn is scheduled for that itinerary. We will be looking forward to seeing a great ship again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our 4th cruise overall and our 2nd on NCL (One other cruise on Celebrity and one on Royal Caribbean). We had not been on NCL for 13 years and a lot has changed. We really enjoyed the concept of Freestyle Cruising but we felt that ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise overall and our 2nd on NCL (One other cruise on Celebrity and one on Royal Caribbean). We had not been on NCL for 13 years and a lot has changed. We really enjoyed the concept of Freestyle Cruising but we felt that it had it's drawbacks too. I was truly disappointed in the service we received on board. I felt that the waiters / waitresses at all of the restaurants (both of the main dining rooms and at the two specialty restaurants we went to) were very cold and impersonal since we essentially had a different one every meal. We did receive excellent, friendly service from one server in particular and we requested her everytime we went back to the Venetian. In addition,our Cabin Steward was not very friendly and barely said two words to us the entire 9 days. Our previous cruise was on Royal Caribbean and the service was excellent. Our cabin steward was addressing us by name on the first day and greeting us daily in the hallways when we would see him. The wait staff on Royal was also much more personal and friendly...not only in the dining rooms where they got to know you because of the assigned tables, but even at the buffet dining area and all of the bars. On both NCL and Royal Caribbean, we purchased a "soda sticker" for our fountain drinks and never had a problem getting the drinks we ordered poolside on Royal Caribbean. However, on the NCL Dawn, there were several instances when we would order a soda, show our card with the sticker, and the waiter would never bring us our drink so we had to either order again with someone else or go up to the bar to get it ourselves. It felt as if since we were not ordering a drink that they were going to get more profit and a tip from, they could care less about bringing it to us. We also had an unfortunate incident with the guest service desk when we called to inquire about a room service menu that our cabin did not have. The employee spoke to my husband like he was an idiot..."all of the cabins have them...you have to look in the binder". When my husband told him we had only a hard cover book and not a binder, he was told "Well it's in there you just have to look". When I physically went to the guest service desk, another employee gave me the menu and confirmed that several cabins were missing the binder and that they did not have extras to give to us at this time. The first associate could have simply sent a copy of the menu down to our cabin instead of assuming we just couldn't find ours. On a more positive note, the Youth Program Staff was great. They were very attentive and my daughter enjoyed going there almost everyday. I enjoyed the itinerary and the shore excursions we purchased. The only drawback to the itinerary was that 5 ports in 5 days was a bit exhausting. I wish there was at least one day at sea in between to help break up the hustle a bit. NCL also did a good job of correcting a problem with our luggage. On the day we arrived at the ship, there were on and off rain showers. Even though it wasn't raining when we turned over our luggage at the port, later that evening when our luggage was delivered and we began to unpack, the outer 2-3 layers of clothing in each suitcase was soaked. When we went to guest services, they were quick to offer us complimentary express laundry service (apparently the same thing happended to a lot of people). We also enjoyed the entertainment on board and the fitness center was well equipped. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves but I don't think I'll be using NCL again for our future cruises when there are so many other options out there. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our fifteenth cruise and our seventh with NCL. We chose this cruise due to the ports of call and reasonable last minute price. We stayed at the La Quinta near the Airport for less than $100 a night including free transport to the ... Read More
This was our fifteenth cruise and our seventh with NCL. We chose this cruise due to the ports of call and reasonable last minute price. We stayed at the La Quinta near the Airport for less than $100 a night including free transport to the ship and free parking during our cruise. The shuttle back to the La Quinta cost $20 for 2 people. It worked out great! The Ship: I found our cabin to be very clean with an adequately sized bathroom. The room itself was small with an uncomfortable floor plan. It was so dark we kept banging into the table and chair on a nightly basis. The bed was very comfortable. We were right above the Stardust Theater so during the practices and the shows it was quite noisy, but very quiet during the night. We appreciated the refrigerator in our room. Our room stewards did an excellent job and were very personable! The public areas were always clean, the atrium was very nice. What I liked best about the ship was the great crew! Most were very helpful and just plain interesting to talk to! I also enjoyed the Latitudes parties. We just made the Silver status which meant we not only got one invite to a very nice cocktail reception, but a second invite to a wine and cheese party! Both were very nice with live music and free drinks! One of my favorite shipboard experiences was getting in the hot tub that is all by itself in the forward part of the ship on the first sea day in the early morning during a rainstorm. There was absolutely no one around! What I really disliked the most about this ship was the floor plan. The whole back of the ship is devoted to a play/pool area for the kid which is great for the kids! So we were left to lounge in the noisy pool area, the windy forward portion of the ship, or the very noisy kid- screaming aft area! If we were able to find a non-windy area anywhere to relax, it seemed inevitable a smoker came along and set up their spot directly upwind. They can smoke anywhere outside they want to. Also, I like to eat outside with a view, no such place on this ship unless you lug your food up to the Bimini Bar and hope you are not surrounded by smokers and then the view is primarily of the pool. There is also the Blue Lagoon on the 7th deck which has a limited menu of comfort foods. The only other option is by the pool or inside looking through dirty glass. The front portion and sides of the ship have these annoying dirty glass panels so while cruising in and out of the ports, I found myself trying to take my photos in the small areas between the dirty glass! What a terribly designed ship! The other disappointment was the high fee just to use the spa. The gym is still free and it is very nice. The food: Not bad in the buffet and dining room, especially if you like vegetarian. I was always able to find something good to eat. NCL definitely pushes the specialty restaurants on this ship. The lobster tacos at Salsas were my favorite as well as the appetizers at Bamboo. The chocolate buffet was really lame! Instead of chocolate covered strawberries, they had chocolate covered dried figs probably left over from the breakfast buffet and more of that nasty flavorless gelatin like desserts that can always be found at the buffet only with a chocolate twist to them! Yuck! Don't waste your time and don't bother to bring your camera. Entertainment: The cruise director Shona was very enthusiastic and did a wonderful job. The Jean Ann Ryan Production was fantastic with great shows! The Second City Comedians were hilarious, and the Memory seminar by Greg Gleason was probably the best "class" I have ever had on a ship! The Stardust Theater itself was very uncomfortable with cramped little seats and once again a terrible floor plan. The primary reason we went on this cruise which were the ports of call, which were great! Samana: We went with Terry on his horseback ride to El Limon tour. It depends on how many people that are on the tour, but we were charged $65 pp plus a $5-15 tip for your horse guide. This was one of the best tours I have ever experienced and I have taken hundreds of tours. Terry is from the US. He is very nice and knowledgeable. We stopped at his property in the mountains, had a tour of his neighbor's house, went to the El Limon trailhead, hopped on our horses and rode to the Falls, went for a swim (the Falls were beautiful), had a great lunch at the restaurant (all included in the tour price), and stopped at a gift shop, before being dropped off at the tender area. All drinks including local beer were included. Tortola: We took Egbert's Tour of the Bath's. It was a decent tour, but we also were slightly disappointed! Our sole deciding factor on using Egbert was the "fast" direct boat ride to the Baths and the "fast" boat ride back to the ship. When I found Egbert outside the port terminal I told him that was the whole reason we were going with him. He nodded and asked us to wait a few more minutes which turned into about 20-30 while he drummed up more business. Then he informed us that he couldn't go directly to the Baths that we would have to take the cabs from the Marina, but he was only going to charge $35 which included "whatever we wanted" but in reality was free rum punch, water, and soda. As I watched him try to get others on the trip, he seemed to be a bit of a fast talker telling people whatever they wanted to hear to get them on the boat. A red flag went up for me, but still we decided to go with him, since we had waited this long. So here are the Pros and Cons from our experience: Pros: -He had 2 boats. We were in the one he said was 42ft. Nice boat! -The boat was right outside the cruise port terminal, much closer than Speedy's. Very short walk to his boat. -Free water, cokes, and rum punch. -The Baths are beautiful! Cons: -The smaller boat-not so nice! _Egbert not truthful about how long the boat ride was going to be. It took an HOUR to get there and over an HOUR to return! We never did get an adequate explanation why. When my husband made a comment about how slow we were going on the return, Egbert's female assistant replied "what do you want to bully him". I found that comment odd. Of course not, we just wanted an explanation. -Speedy's Ferry as well as other boats zoomed past us. Which meant by the time we arrived at the Baths, they were CROWDED! They were so crowded going through the caves, we had to wait in long lines to scramble through them. Not a particularly enjoyable experience! -We were locked in to the time we could return, and could not just hop on the ferry at an earlier time, which, since the Baths were so crowded is something we definitely would have done. -We were not given much of an informational tour at all, so do your research. The only time we were ever really spoken to was at the end and that was to remind us to tip his staff. -We only had 45 minutes left in port when we returned to the cruise port, not the 2 hours Egbert said we were going to have. Antigua: We rented an economy car from Hertz. It wasn't the most enjoyable experience due to having to drive on the left, potholes, a terrible map, and no street signs, actually very minimal signs! We spent about an hour lost. The highlight was meeting two local kids who hopped in our car and guided us to Devil's Bridge in return for a ride to Long Bay where we found a nice beach bar and went for a swim. I would not recommend renting a car there and wouldn't do it again! Barbados: We had a private tour booked through Glory Tours. It was a very nice tour but kind of a hassle due to a miscommunication of a confirmation e-mail which we never received. The tour itself gave us a great overview of the island which is beautiful, but a little seedy in areas especially with the smell of marijuana smoke wafting out of bushes and buildings. We found the armed security guards that were present at the major tourist sites a little alarming and were glad we had decided not to tour the island on our own. ST Kitt's: We did Royston's tour of ST Kitts. We found him outside the main terminal wearing his yellow shirt holding his Royston sign. There were a total of 7 of us on this tour and his open air bus was comfortable. He did a great job showing us the highlights which included Brimstone Hill, the Batik factory, some volcanic black rock formations, Cockleshell beach, a roadside stand where I got to hold a diaper adorned baby monkey?, his Father's shop, his house, another roadside stand where I bought a very unique inexpensive banana peel doll done by a local artist named Sarah Murray in Parson's Village, as well as some of Royston's favorite secret scenic spots which were absolutely phenomenal. We got to really see the lush landscape of rainforests (with lots of monkeys), uncrowded beaches, sugarcane fields, dormant volcanoes, as well as ruins of old plantations one of which belonged to Thomas Jefferson's family. Royston bought us a picnic lunch of Roti with plans of eating it on the beach. However, the no see-ums or whatever they are called there, were out in full force so we decided to eat in the van while he drove to another spectacular viewpoint high on a hill. St Kitts was my favorite port during this cruise, primarily because of Royston's very thoughtful tour. He greatly exceeded our expectations and gave us one of the best, most adventurous tours we have ever had. Overall, the cruise was a great value and I would definitely sail with NCL again, although if it was the Dawn, it would definitely have to have a great itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Embarkation was extremely efficient. We boarded early and were on the ship by noon. Our cabin was forward on deck four. The cabin steward was excellent. Plenty of room in our interior cabin. Beds were very comfortable. Shower was powerful. ... Read More
Embarkation was extremely efficient. We boarded early and were on the ship by noon. Our cabin was forward on deck four. The cabin steward was excellent. Plenty of room in our interior cabin. Beds were very comfortable. Shower was powerful. Our cabin was very noisy with loud sounds when you were trying to sleep. It sounded like a whirling sound a drier makes as well as a clunking noise reminiscent of a bowling ball dropping. Very annoying for a light sleeper. Ship tried to change our cabin but the only room available was nosier than our original cabin. Enough with complaining. The entertainment was great. Jose and Patti were so entertaining with their songs of all decades that we went back night after night to watch them again. Dave Heenan, the comedian, was so funny, and likewise we went to all 3 shows he did. His adult show was the funniest. The magician, Greg Gleason, was amazing. His close up magic show was excellent. I could not figure out how he did any of his mystifying illusions. His lecture on increasing your memory was excellent. I only wish I wasn't as sleepy as I was during that session because I had trouble remembering it. The cruise staff led by Shona Blair was one of the best we have ever encountered. Sidney was one of our favorites. This was going to be his last cruise for a while. He will make an excellent cruise director some day. He is so charming and funny. And can he dance! Another favorite was the Progressive Trivia with Beverly. Very entertaining for a trivia buff. We learned a lot from our friend Beverly. There were so many activities you never had a dull moment. There was Liar's Club ,Ray-Ray, the assistant cruise director, was hysterical-what a dry wit he has, and Quest which is completely off the wall. Second City also performed. Their show was a little different but entertaining. If you like acrobatics you might like Bollywood. My personal favorite was the Therma Spa. It cost about $189 for a couple for 9 days. For that price you were able to use the spa from 8 AM till 10 PM. They have an indoor lap pool set at 82 degrees, a powerful jacuzzi, and a modified jacuzzi with a chaise. The location was enclosed in the back of the ship. They had lounge chairs arranged around the back window that went from one side of the ship to the other. They had hot tea, cold juice and ice water to help refresh you after the the warm waters. It was so relaxing and quiet. Very few people took advantage of the area because of the cost. I felt it was worth it. Another memorable treat was a special dinner my husband and I shared with Cruise Director Shona Blair and Gene from the Jean Ryan Dancers. We won the drawing for the captain's party and they were the 2 celebrities seated at our table. It was such a treat. All the wine we cared to drink with wonderful conversation. We will never forget how well we were treated. Every time Shona saw us after that day she always said hello, addressed us by name, and new what city we came from as well as our upcoming travel plans That is amazing that she has such a good memory. She must attend Greg Gleason's memory show often. The Cruise Talent show was also entertaining. Some really talented employees aboard. The Fountains was so funny. Shona really had the audience fooled with this one. We had seen it before on the NCL Jewel and knew what was coming. We loved all the ports of call. St. Kitts was our favorite. It was very reminiscent of Hawaii. We were surprised there were no beaches within walking distance of any of the ports of call. The shopping was fun. The southern Caribbean population is much friendlier than those of the eastern and western Caribbean. This cruise occurred during Passover and Easter and we were pleasantly surprised that NCL catered to both religious holidays. Church service for the Christians and a Seder for the members of the Jewish faith. Debarkation went as smoothly as embarkation and a good time was had by all. All in all, we had a marvelous time on the Dawn. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Loved everything about the cruise. The layout of the ship was nice, the food was great, the route was awesome! Embarkation took less than 10 minutes! Had lunch in the dining room, delicious. Room location - 10th floor forward - close to ... Read More
Loved everything about the cruise. The layout of the ship was nice, the food was great, the route was awesome! Embarkation took less than 10 minutes! Had lunch in the dining room, delicious. Room location - 10th floor forward - close to everything. Samana - Cayo Levantado offered through NCL. Gorgeous beach & great swimming. Tortola, BVI - Jost VanDyke offered through NCL. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT - awesome! St John's - Beach Escape offered through NCL. Lunch included, ok beach. Barbados - Scenic Barbados Tour. Nice tour and then brought to a private resort for use of the beach & loung chair. St Kitts - Tour, lunch & beach massage with Captain Sunshine (Kenny). He's great. Felt very comfortable with him, the massage on the beach was really nice. Very accomodating and reasonably priced. www.stkittscaptainsunshine.com The entertainment on the ship: Magician: just ok. Comedian: just ok. Dancers: very good. Jose & Patti: Hands down the VERY best we've ever seen. Went to their show every night, get there early or it's standing room only. The vacation went very quickly. We loved everything! Can't wait to do this one again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Our 3rd cruise with NCL (Dream, Sun, Dawn), and 4th overall ... this was a great itinerary and overall trip. Good mix of passengers on this trip ... families (some with little ones, some with teens), younger couples (us), middle-aged ... Read More
Our 3rd cruise with NCL (Dream, Sun, Dawn), and 4th overall ... this was a great itinerary and overall trip. Good mix of passengers on this trip ... families (some with little ones, some with teens), younger couples (us), middle-aged couples, and many experienced cruises as well. Please see below for commentary on areas throughout the ship! Embarkation / Disembarkation (A): We arrived at the ship around noon, and were on the boat eating lunch by about 12:30 (ideal). We chose to get off the boat a bit later (10am), and were through customs by about 10:45 ... pretty nice process! Cabin (B+): In our 4 cruises, we have experienced the Inside, Outside, & Balcony staterooms. Being able to get out in the fresh air (or let it in to your cabin) makes the Balcony worth it for us. Great space, larger shower space on the Dawn made this a good place to stay. Food (A): In our 9 nights, we ate at the Venetian Main Dining Room (A), the Aqua Main Dining Room (B-), Impressions Italian (B), Salsas Tex-Mex (A-), Bamboo Asian (A), and the Garden Cafe Buffet (B+ ... Breakfast & Lunch Only). I thought that the main dining room food was much improved over our past NCL trips, and I would definitely recommend Venetian many times over Aqua. The Garden Cafe had a great assortment of choice for both breakfast (including waffle and omelet bars), and lunch. The setup and size of the buffet was adequate to accommodate the crowds of anytime eaters. We enjoyed the food and service of the 3 specialty restaurants that we visited, and would return to them all in the future! Entertainment (B): Not being much for musicals, etc., I focused my attention on going to see the Comedian Dave Heenan, and several other niche shows (Patty & Jose, The Second City, Adult Karaoke). The entertainment company on the boat was great as well (just not as much my cup of tea). There is always lots going on ... a little something for everyone! Props to Caribbean Wave out by the pool ... great sounds to relax to. Fitness Center (A): Great space that was never crowded ... ample amounts of treadmills and ellipticals for use, as well as machines and some free-weights. Good luck trying to run on the treadmill at full speed ahead ... run at your own risk! Sports Court (D): I walked up to see it, and was not impressed. Kind of hidden in the back of the boat. I would have liked to play some b-ball or v-ball, but the space just didn't call my name. Bars (A): We spent a good deal of time at the Pearly Kings Pub, and I would recommend this a great place for a pint, or to watch a game, or participate in karaoke. Topsiders at the pool ... can't beat the location! Take advantage of the 6 for 5 beer "helmets" ... one of a few great drink values onboard. Star Bar (home of the 2-for-1 martinis from 8-10pm) ... take advantage of this deal if you can ... take 'em with you to the show, or relax and enjoy the piano. Overall, how can you score bars low ... it's impossible. Overall (A): Great itinerary, loved the ship, food, service, and stateroom. Would definitely recommend this trip to those thinking about taking a cruise. Only complaint with NCL ... they are pretty aggressive in trying to offer bar service, pretty much wherever you go (especially by the pool or at the shows). Just tell them no thanks, and enjoy the sun (or show)! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We just returned from the Dawn on a back-to-back cruise from March 7th to the 21st. The first leg was a 5 day to the western Caribbean(Grand Cayman and Cozumel) the second leg was a 9 day to the southern Caribbean(Samana, Tortola, Antigua, ... Read More
We just returned from the Dawn on a back-to-back cruise from March 7th to the 21st. The first leg was a 5 day to the western Caribbean(Grand Cayman and Cozumel) the second leg was a 9 day to the southern Caribbean(Samana, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados, St Kitt's) "Overall, the cruise was wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We love the freestyle cruising and also the "suite" life and we now would go no other way. When we first arrived at the ship we were directed to the VIP check-in which was in a room situated directly after we passed through security. However, when we first entered the room we wondered if we had made a mistake when booking this cruise. Unknown to us, it was spring break week and there were 6 young fellows who had booked one of the suites and obviously they had begun their pre-cruise celebrating early in the morning. They were severely intoxicated and extremely belligerent and when we saw this we thought that we were in for some unpleasant times. However, this turned out to be an anomaly. There were over 1200 students on the ship and even the ship's crew were concerned that they were in for some interesting times over the first 5 days of the cruise. All of these fears went for not as it was a pleasure to be around all these young people. They all thoroughly enjoyed themselves but at all times were polite and respectful. After a very smooth and quick check-in we had expected to be escorted to our suite (we had read about this in previous reviews) but this did not happen. I think this was mainly due to the fact that Anshuman, the concierge, was trying to control these young men and minimize their impact on the other passengers and therefore he could not attend to the other suite passengers under his control. We were grateful for his intervention and so off to our suite we went. Accomodations We were in an AD category suite (10726) which, although it was lovely, did not really fit the description. It is called a romance suite but there is nothing about it that gives you the romantic feeling. Luckily we don't need anything to give us that romantic feeling....LOL. The room was quite spacious and the balcony was amazing as it had enough room to accommodate two large recliners and a small table. The bathroom was a tad small but it really didn't matter to us because it is not a place where you spend a whole lot of time. There was a huge closet and quite sufficient storage for the rest of our clothes. The room had an espresso/cappuccino machine which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was a real treat to start every morning with a cup or two of espresso on the spacious deck. On the first day of each leg of the back-to-back cruise we had a chilled bottle of champagne delivered to our room. We also had arranged for a bar setup which was there when we first arrived on the ship. We did this because we enjoy having a cocktail on our balcony each evening before we go out to dinner and did not want to try and smuggle libations onto the ship and risk being sent to the "naughty room". One of the things that we did bring onto the ship was a supply of Coke whenever we were in port due to the fact that the ship only serves Pepsi and I am a loyal Coke drinker. There is no problem bringing any amount of soda or water onto the ship. I have seen numerous comments on other sites comparing the forward and aft cabins and so I thought I would give our opinions as we have stayed in both ends. We found that the aft cabins were much more quiet than the fwd cabins. Also, you get the sound of the wake at the aft which is quite soothing. I have also seen comments about soot from the stack on your balcony as well as debris and we did not experience either. The only thing that we did experience was water from upper decks. Whenever they cleaned the upper decks at night they would sweep the excess off the edge and it would then fall onto the balcony causing your chair cushions to get wet(we got around this by folding up the cushions at night). We were on deck 10 which had less of an over-hang which was great for tanning but also let a lot more water to fall on the balcony. If you were on one of the lower decks, the over-hang is much more and so it limits the amount of water that falls onto the balcony. One other thing that we noticed on the fwd cabins was that the dividers between the balconies were not full height and therefore the privacy was very limited. We were in a fwd cabin on the Sun and the dividers were full size and therefore you had total privacy...... I guess each ship is different. Staff Our butler was Akhmad who was a very nice and pleasant individual. He ensured that we always had lots of coffee, fresh glasses and the ice bucket was always filled. Every day he would deliver a plate of h'or d'oeuvres which we enjoyed with our pre-dinner cocktails. We are not very demanding people and so we do not use the services of the butler as other individuals but it is nice to know that he is there to attend to any special requests. Our cabin stewards were Maria and Ronald who were also very nice people that always kept our cabin neat and clean. The concierge was Anshuman who is also quite pleasant. We only used his services to make dinner arrangements so again we probably didn't take full advantage of having him available to us. The only disappointment that we had with him was when I asked him if it was possible to have our bar setup replenished (under estimated our need when requested). He said that he would check into it for us but never did get back to us with an answer. I guess we could have pursued the matter but I am the type of an individual that doesn't chase after someone that doesn't respond to a request. It would have been nice, however, to receive an answer no matter whether it is yes or no. We also enjoyed all of the staff in the various restaurants.....all very pleasant and personable. All in all, we feel that Norwegian have excellent staff at all levels who make your cruise experience very enjoyable. Dining We had breakfast most mornings and lunch in Cagney's restaurant which we view as one of the real perks to the suites. It is an opportunity to eat in a quiet environment and it is much more pleasant than fighting the masses in the buffet lines. This has always been one of my pet peeves when you have buffet lines in either a resort or on a ship. Some people do not understand the concept of lining up and waiting your turn as opposed to butting into a line or reaching across you to get at one of the dishes. We choose to dine mostly in the specialty restaurants as we find that it is a much more pleasant environment despite the fact that there is an additional cost. We found that the Bistro and the Italian restaurants were our favourite ones that both served very good dishes. We tried the Teppanyaki restaurant one night but we found that the food was quite salty and otherwise rather tasteless. We went to Cagney's steak house a few times but did not have very good experiences. This was our second time on the Dawn and the last time we had excellent meals so this time it was a disappointment. The first night my steak was under cooked and so I left most of it on the plate. They did offer to bring something else but I declined. The next time that we went to this restaurant we had a much better experience. However, the third time, we were dining with new friends of ours and both my and the other gentleman's steaks were under cooked. This time they did re-cook our steaks but the second effort was not much of an improvement. I was not surprised however because I could never cook a perfect medium rare steak in under 7 minutes. We did eat in the main dining room a few times and found that the food was very good but it lacked the atmosphere. Overall, despite the bad experiences, we enjoyed the food. Quite often on various message boards I have seen questions about wine packages so I thought that I would add a comment here.......The Dawn did offer a wine package that could be purchased on the first two days of the cruise. You could purchase 4 bottles for a 5 day cruise or 8 bottles for a 9 day cruise(didn't quite understand the math here). If you chose one of the packages you received a 20% discount on the price of the wine. Sounds reasonable, except for the fact that you had to select your wines at time of purchase, and, only had a choice of 5 or 6 reds and 5 or 6 whites which were at both ends of the price scale. Personally, I like to have more of a selection when selecting wines and I also like to select the wine the night that I have it with dinner. It also doesn't make much sense to me to purchase a more expensive bottle of wine just because you are getting a 20% discount....sort of defeats the purpose. As previously mentioned, we purchased a bar setup prior to boarding which we found to be rather reasonable. They have a selection of various liquors that can be purchased in your stateroom. We paid $63 for a 1 litre bottle of Bacardi Superior which, at first glance may seem expensive but is much less than the cost of a drink at any of the bars(slightly under $7 for rum). You certainly get a lot more than 9 drinks from a litre bottle unless you tend to like your drinks on the strong side. We find that this allows you relax and enjoy a libation in the comfortable peace and quiet of your suite as well as avoiding the trip to the "naughty" room. Entertainment This was one aspect of the cruise that we found quite disappointing. Again, our last experience on the Dawn was totally opposite. We are not ones to go to the theatre shows so we cannot comment on the quality of that entertainment. We prefer to go to one of the lounges and sit and relax and listen to music. Previously, the Dawn had excellent performers who were excellent entertainers. However, this year the theme seemed to be piano players. The lounge in the main atrium as well as Gatsby's lounge had three piano players who played the piano well but that's all they did. There was one other piano player who sang as well but again was not much of a performer. The interesting thing about this person was that we saw him perform one night with the stage band and he was excellent. I guess that the other type of venue was not his strong side. There was a couple that played in one of the lounges every night but again were not what you would call top level performers. One other thing that we found odd was the almost non-existent celebration of St Patrick's day.....it was more or less a non event. The last time on this ship there was an Irish sing-along in the pub as well as lots of Irish music in the lounges at night....this year.....nothing. The entertainment is not all that important to us on a cruise but I'm sure that it is for others and so I think that Norwegian needs to kick it up a notch. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. This being our second cruise on the Dawn, we found that the first cruise was better. Although, it is a nice ship, we found that the Dawn is looking "tired". Interestingly, we met a couple on the ship and the husband was a retired sailor who spent 23 years in the navy. So, who better than someone like him to offer an opinion of the shape of the ship and he agreed with our observations. For example, the on-going work on replacing the plumbing system goes on and for three days only ½ of the internet cafe was available due to the fact that they ripped up the carpets and put in new ones. I think the Dawn needs some time in dry dock to perform an upgrade without trying to do it on the fly. We were on the Sun last year and found state of the ship to be of a much better quality. Hope this has in some way provided useful information to some and if there are other questions please feel free to contact me. Can't wait until the next sailing. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We sailed on the Dawn on March 12, 2010 out of Miami. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. On Friday morning easy express picked us up and took us to the port of Miami. If you are looking for a ... Read More
We sailed on the Dawn on March 12, 2010 out of Miami. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. On Friday morning easy express picked us up and took us to the port of Miami. If you are looking for a shuttle service to Miami check out easyexpress.com for a good price. We were very happy with the service. We arrived at the port around 12:30 Friday morning. We walked in and only had to wait about 5 minutes to get checked in. We are NCL Latitudes members so we get to go through that line. They were doing a good job of moving people through the lines. We went to the ship and were very excited to see how big it is. She is a beautiful ship. Our room was not ready so we went to the Venetian dining room and had lunch. Lunch was really good and the staff in the dining hall were very friendly. By the time we finished lunch our cabin was ready so we went to check it out. Our room stewards were in the hall and greeted us by name as we opened the door. Marlen and Menard were very good room stewards and we enjoyed speaking with them every day. The room was very clean and stayed that way all week. We were impressed. We then decided to take a stroll around the ship and figure out where things were located. The spa offers a relaxation area for $189.00 per couple for the cruise. It has a lap pool, regular hot tub, reclining hot tub, quiet room, lounge chairs along a row of windows, steam room, sauna, showers, water, juice and tea. I probably forgot something but for the most part that is everything. We decided to pay the 189.00 and have use of the relaxation spa for the week. For us the money was very well spent. We are not sun worshipers so being able to be in the pool and hot tubs without sunscreen or worrying about burning was great. Most days we had the lap pool to ourselves for at least 20 minutes before anyone else showed up. The area was never very crowded and it was very relaxing. If you like lying in the sun this may not be for you. It is a lot of money, but since we spend money on very little on the ship it fit our budget. Okay, Patti and Jose are a must see on the ship. They are in Dazzles most nights and as the cruise goes on and people find them it is harder and harder to get a seat. We caught their act almost every night. We also enjoyed the piano player Kiti. I can't remember her last name. She was good. The band Rhythm and Harmony are also good. We saw Bollywood in the Stardust and enjoyed it. Dave Hennen was also very funny. The magician was pretty good too. They were all in the Stardust. We did not see any other shows. Oh, do not miss the crew talent show in the Stardust. It was great. I think we enjoyed that more than anything else. We went to karaoke most nights at the Pearly King Pub. We had a great time with several others singing at night. Dining Halls. We ate most nights at Aqua because it was right by our room. It is one of the main dining halls and we really enjoyed the food. The service was great and the staff was very friendly. We ate at the Venetian a few nights and enjoyed the staff in there also. The service was a little slower than at the Aqua but the food was just as good. We ate in the Garden Cafe for breakfast everyday. We also ate lunch there a few times. The food was good and we got our nightly ice-cream there. They also had a chocolate fountain at night so we had to have chocolate dipped fruit every night. We also ate at the Blue Lagoon several times. Mostly for lunch. But my husband has to have his nightly french fries from there. Their menu is small but good. The cheese cake, chicken wings, chicken strips and fries are all really good. Their chef salad was pretty good too. The cruise director and her staff are fabulous. We had a great time with all of them. They are very high energy and really keep things moving on the ship. Our only problem the whole cruise was with our toilet. It was flushing slow when we first got on the ship and only got worse as the week went on. By the last 2 days it wouldn't flush at all. We told our room stewards and they had someone come try to fix it. But it would only flush a couple times after the fix and then wouldn't flush again. Hopefully they were able to get it fixed before the ship sailed out that afternoon. We hooked up with the people from our roll call and really had a great time with them. We shared several tours together. A few of us got together every night for karaoke and to have dinner. This was our first time to use the roll call but will definitely do it again. Some of us are hoping to sail together again soon. I think this is the best cruise we have ever done. It was our 7th with NCL and we are looking forward to sailing with them again. We will definitely cruise on the Dawn again. She is a beautiful ship with a great crew and we really had a great relaxing time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We live in Miami so have taken a lot of cruises-usually once a year-on a lot of the major cruise lines (Royal, Carnival, Holland, Celebrity, Costa, Dolphin) and have done the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe on cruises. Food This was our ... Read More
We live in Miami so have taken a lot of cruises-usually once a year-on a lot of the major cruise lines (Royal, Carnival, Holland, Celebrity, Costa, Dolphin) and have done the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe on cruises. Food This was our first time on NCL and we really liked it. We were scared about the Freestyle dining because we did not like it in Alaska on Holland but they only had the 2 regular dining rooms. NCL Dawn has 6 specialty restaurants, plus the 2 dining rooms, the upstairs buffet, and a 24 cafe. We had decided to try all the specialty restaurants before we got on board. We like the intimate atmosphere of the smaller restaurants. Most nights, we would feed our kids in the buffet or 24 hour restaurant...then send them to Kids club from 7-10:30pm and then have our dinner/show date with a table for two...what a great end of a day after a day of sightseeing. The food on board was average cruise food...not spectacular, not too bad. That includes the specialty restaurants which was a bit disappointing since you are paying more for them. On other lines, the specialty restaurants are much better quality but I did not find that on NCL. When I cruise NCL again, I do not think I would go to the specialty restaurants again. If I had to choose a favorite, it was Teppanyaki and the Sushi. We were not impressed at all with Cagney's steakhouse...in fact, all the beef on board had a very strong beef taste (not sure how to describe it). We did love the spicy chicken wings at the Blue Lagoon (24 hour restaurant)...the Blue Lagoon was also a hidden gem for breakfast. There was a limited menu but was always empty and the food was prepared fresh (omelettes) so it was better than the buffet. Yohan (Sr. Sous chef from the Garden Grill) was great with getting me information for my daughter who was allergic to eggs and nuts. He sent her special eggless choclate chip cookies to our cabin a couple of times during our cruise and she had a standing order of eggless pancakes for breakfast. Itinerary I loved the 9 night cruise and the itinerary. After five straight days of ports, the last 2 sea days really allowed you recoup and relax. We loved Antigua and Tortola (Virgin Gorda Baths), thought Barbados and Samana was OK, and was disappointed by the beach in St. Kitts. See individual reviews. Entertainment The broadway style shows were EXCELLENT...we really liked the Band on the Run show and Bollywood. The South Beach Rave was also pretty good. We were not too impressed by the comedian and magician. The cruise director Shona and Asst Cruise Director Ray-Ray were exellent (along with their staff). My only comment was that the entertainment/music on the ship between 9-11pm was geared towards the older (60-70's crowd) instead of the (30-40's crowd that had kids on board) since the disco did not open until 11 or 11:30pm when kids were out of camp. We figured this out after the first couple of nights of going to the 7:30pm show so switched to going to the 9:30pm show and going to dinner at 8pm instead of 6pm. Kids Club Our kids loved going to camp. The counselors were amazing, they did an awesome job. Thank you Silver Star, Smile, Superfly, and Panda for taking such good care of our kids. The facilities were awesome, they had a play structure like a mini-Chuck e Cheese with crawl tunnels and ball pits excepts everything was spotless clean. The T-Rex kids pool was also a lot of fun with some small and big slides...we spent a lot of time there. Spa We purchased the cruise pass for the thermal suite (steam, sauna, lap pool, whirpools) which was $119 single and $189 couple. It was a bit too pricey but we did enjoy our time there since it gave you a nice place to relax. If you want to avoid being out in the sun, this is a great place. I do think the price should be a bit lower for the pass. Cabin 8128 We loved this cabin, it was a handicap cabin so the room and bathroom felt spacious. It was located above Blue Lagoon and we were worried about being directly above the 24 hour restaurant but we did not hear a sound. We loved being at the back of the ship (close to the elevators/stair to get up to the kids club and kids pool, gym/spa, and buffet restaurant) and 1 deck down from all the entertainment areas. If we had the choice, we would select this outside cabin again. The partial view was fine...you can see directly out but the top of the lifeboat is flush with the bottom part of your window...not a problem for us. A plus is that your window is protected so you do not hear the water or rain pounding on your window as we learned when talking to other passengers about the storm the first night. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
NCL Dawn Cruise 9-day (Eastern/Southern Caribbean) 2 from Buffalo NY & 5 from Rochester: nephew, wife and 3 teenage children - 2 girls. Second cruise for wife and me. Reserved balcony stateroom on deck 10. Thursday, February 11: SW ... Read More
NCL Dawn Cruise 9-day (Eastern/Southern Caribbean) 2 from Buffalo NY & 5 from Rochester: nephew, wife and 3 teenage children - 2 girls. Second cruise for wife and me. Reserved balcony stateroom on deck 10. Thursday, February 11: SW Air Flight from BUF to FLL. Fortunately, booked direct flight; many east coast flights were cancelled due to snow storm. Plenty of stories from NCL passengers who had to scramble to get to Port of Miami on time, or who knew of others who couldn't get there at all. We rented one-way van from Dollar Rental from FLL to MIA. Stayed at LaQuinta East (Miami Airport) for $105 each room (with breakfast). During the cruise, we did some things as a couple, or foursome, or all seven. The three teens were free to join us or not, and spent at least half the time "on their own." They enjoy good food, so were always interested in what our dinner plans were. In ports, they were with their parents all the time. Friday, February 12: Took free hotel shuttle to port. (Be sure to sign-up for shuttle as soon as possible at the hotel; it will be busy.) We boarded ship at about 2:00 - easy process that moved along quickly. Went to Venetian dining room for lunch - rather than buffet (as suggested by others on forum) - relaxed & not busy. Toured ship; watched departure at 4:00 PM; dinner later at Venetian. Reserved Le Bistro French Restaurant for Saturday ($25 pp). Luggage arrived at 5 & 7PM. We like the balcony room; settled in. Long day - easy sleep. Saturday, February 13 (at sea): Cloudy all day- some drizzle. Morning run for about 4 miles (5 laps/mile). Track is narrow, some tight turns; not many joggers, but too many walkers (even with strollers) in spite of "Jogging Only" signs. Perhaps they could add - "Walkers please use deck 7." After a few days of this, we would suggest this if we lapped people - since the mere "excuse us" or "track please" didn't seem to do the trick. Went to Venetian for brunch, and were told OJ (with our mushroom omelets) would cost extra since it was lunch time - I mean really!! (We learned to keep some cranberry/orange combo drinks in our room fridge every day.) Did more exploring. Nice dinner at Le Bistro - excellent lamb chops. Made reservation for special Valentine's Day dinner Sunday ($45 pp special menu w/ wine and lobster). Casino and walking around. Sunday, February 14 (Samana, DR): Tender port. We had been told that there wasn't much to do or see at Samana, so we signed up for tender to Cayo Lavantado - private island. Nice beach (finally, some warmth & sun; remember we're from Buffalo), and a few stands to buy souvenirs; food available. Not much snorkeling. (Kind of expensive -$59 pp - for shuttle to beach & a couple of chairs.) Le Bistro was as good as advertised! Monday, February 15 (Tortola, BVI): Nephew and wife had done a "Dolphin Discovery" before, and wanted the highest level of experience - and of course most expensive, so they booked it online for our group of 7. Left ship, and after plenty of offers for taxis, tours, etc, we settled on Benjamin, and his open-air taxi --- just right for 7. Great guy! He took us to the Dolphin Discovery area, and gave us his cell phone number for pick up and later transport to beach. The dolphin experience was great fun! We were in the larger area that included the nursery-with some females and offspring in training. We all did the "dorsal drag" and "foot push" (each with 2 dolphins). Great way to experience the power they have! Plenty of photo-ops, and their video and pictures are available for sale - of course. (Had to buy some.) Benjamin took us to Cane Bay Beach on the other side of the island (very hilly) - excellent ride (who needs a roller coaster?) He stopped several times for photos - terrific views. Nice beach and restaurant for lunch with rum punch or Carib beers. We bought some local rum to take on board. Benjamin picked us up to return to ship. We didn't allow enough time for a stop at the rum distillery - wish we had. We decided to use a few of the kids' Sprite bottles to bring the rum onboard. (Goes great with that cranberry/orange). Find Benjamin when you're in Tortola, or call local 545-4246. Dinner at Venetian. Tuesday, February 16 (Antigua): We decided to find a cab to the beach. All taxi fares are fixed by distance, and 4 can travel for the same price as 2. We met Rick & Allison (St. Catherine's, Ont.) who were on the RCL ship in port - also looking for a beach. We found Anthony who drove us to Runaway Bay - with a beach bar (swings instead of bar stools on the beach side), and the usual local color. Tony returned as agreed for return to the pier; he took us for a bit of sightseeing, including a trip through a beautiful Sandal's Resort. We had dinner at Cagney's ($25 pp) - excellent; had to have some extra cocktail shrimp (they were that good)! Wednesday, February 17 (Barbados): Nephew had booked a snorkel trip on the Silver Moon 3 catamaran that included a shipwreck and area where sea turtles are common. Beautiful day for a sail; lunch and drinks were good. The only problem was that the sea had been unsettled earlier, so conditions were cloudy - all in all, a fun time. Barbados has a nice large shopping mall at the pier. It includes a small Post Office, and while I was buying a few stamps, dear wife decided to stop in the nearby jewelry store. .. a great deal & it does pay to "bargain"...still the most expensive stamps I'll ever buy. Venetian for dinner (with new pendant). Thursday, February 18 (St. Kitts): Decided we needed one more beach on our last island. Again, found another couple and went to Cockleshell Beach by taxi with Colleen (pronounced Co-leen) Francis, nice lady (local cell 663-7418). Rented some chairs, and thoroughly enjoyed the day - including an aloe massage from Shona "The lady with the healin' hands." We'd recommend her to others. Returned to the pier area on time to enjoy more of St. Kitts, and some drinks at the open-air bar. This may have been our favorite island. Back to Cagney's for dinner. Friday, February 19 (at sea): Mix of sun and clouds, but OK for the pool. Dinner at Impressions ($10 pp) for Osso Bucco. Saturday, February 20 (at sea): Sunny, very calm for the Atlantic; getting cooler as we head North. More pool time and some poolside Blackjack. Packed for departure and went to the Venetian. Left ship Sunday AM, and back to FLL. A few hints and comments: Items we brought and used: refillable water bottles and coffee mugs, extension cord, clothes pins (to dry clothes in shower or balcony), "cheese-wiz" (fish love it), binoculars, Ziploc bags, small LED flashlight, plenty of $2 bills. The Venetian Restaurant was good, but we thought the specialty restaurants were worth the extra money. At the Venetian, we thought the lamb and roast pork were among the better items. For AM coffee, I usually went up 2 decks to the Garden Buffet with our mugs, and also kept large glasses of cranberry/orange juice in the room fridge. (We had requested that it be emptied for our use, and the staff just moved the "chargeable" items to the shelf above.) I kept a tray in our room. Room service was fine and on time, but I like to get coffee when we get up, and don't plan on what time that will be. We ran most mornings on the jogging track, and then went to the buffet to try for a healthy breakfast - usually by the pool. (We had to try to compensate for our dinners.) We liked the "freestyle" dining. The buffet was fine for breakfast, lunch or snacks. The poolside Barbeque was OK. NCL seems to do more "selling" than RCCL. The fitness classes ($25), and photos seemed too expensive. They could cut the prices in half, and have more people in the classes. They would certainly have many more pictures in peoples' homes, where they would be good PR for the cruise line. Balcony stateroom would be a very high priority for next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Norwegian Dawn - February 26th 9 day Southern Caribbean This was our second time on the Dawn. The first time it was just my wife and I. We are late 20's and this time we were travelling with our daughter, age 8, son, age 5, and my ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn - February 26th 9 day Southern Caribbean This was our second time on the Dawn. The first time it was just my wife and I. We are late 20's and this time we were travelling with our daughter, age 8, son, age 5, and my mother and sister. This was our kids and my sisters first cruise. We stayed in AB suite 11530 and they had a connecting AF Minisuite. We stayed the night at Miami Doral Golf Resort. Got it through Priceline for $115 a night, but not really that great of hotel. Nice enough, but a long way from the airport and port. Probably wouldn't stay here again, would pick my own hotel next time like we usually do. We used QLS transportation to bring us to our hotel and then again the next morning to bring us to the port ($60 each way for the six of us). We waited at the airport for over an hour for our luggage and they were right there to pick us up when we got our luggage finally. Next morning we were off to the port. We arrived about 12:30 to the port and we were to our room in no time. Anshuman was our concierge and Nelson was our butler. Anshuman informed us when meeting him that my mother and sister would be treated to our suite perks as well. This held true throughout the cruise as they were able to join us at Cagney's for breakfast and lunch, have priority embarkation, priority tendering, and priority disembarkation with us. The AB suite was amazing. Ahhhh that bathroom with the great views from the tub and shower. It was perfect for the four of us and the kids LOVED having their own little room. We felt Anshuman did his job very well. He was attentive and took care of our needs. We do not request or require a lot from either our concierge or our butler and felt they both did a good job. Anshuman was always at Cagney's when we were there to greet us and wish us a good day. Nelson also did his job well and got us anything we required. We did feel that Ravi did a slightly better job last year on the Dawn than Nelson, just as far as attentiveness. Our vacation was excellent and I will try and break it down to sections. Food: Overall the food was very good. Of course you had some things that weren't perfect but you could always go and get something else if you were still hungry! Breakfast we ate various places. Cagney's was always excellent. The buffet was well, a buffet. Good food but usually lukewarm unless you got the made-to-order omelets or waffles. The buffet was always packed and a mad-house for breakfast. We much preferred the quiet atmosphere of Cagney's. Suite room service we had once and that was enough. Food was cold and left a lot to be desired. Lunch we were usually at port since we had 5 port days in a row. Embarkation day we ate at Cagney's and it was good but service lacked. However, they were swamped (of course) then and service was great the rest of the week. Ate at Aqua once and it was ok, and Blue Lagoon once and it was good. Dinner we split between Aqua, Venetian, and the Buffet mostly. The aqua was usually good, but had better service at the Venetian. The buffet was surprisingly good a couple of evenings and good overall if you can handle the crowds!! Our kids were happy with just about all the meals they received in all the dining venues. My daughter loved the pasta station at the buffet and they both loved the New York Strip steak on the anytime menu for the dining room. The new dining room menus seemed to have about the same quality and choices as what we experienced last year on the Dawn. We ate at Cagney's on the next to last sea day. This was the only specialty restaurant we dined in. The filet was delicious but I doubt I would pay the $25 pp fee again since we thought the rest of the food on the ship was good as well. For the kids we asked about splitting a meal for them but they said they would be charged half price whether they split it or not. Worked for us, so we just ordered them both a meal and they thoroughly enjoyed their filets as well! Service The service was excellent just as it was on our last Dawn cruise. We were on the Eurodam last October and the friendliness just didn't seem the same as it is on Norwegian. Every employee you meet greets you with a smile and a "good morning" or "how are you?" as you pass them. Again, this was our first cruise with our kids so we weren't sure what to expect for them. The crew LOVES kids. They would always greet them and seemed to enjoy interacting with them. Our cabin stewards were great as well - very unobtrusive but very efficient. Entertainment We had seen all of the entertainment on our previous Dawn cruise last year so we kind of just chose the ones we knew were good and the kids would enjoy. We saw the first show by the Jean Ann Ryan Co. with the kids and they weren't too impressed. We also took them to see the juggler which they really enjoyed. My wife and I watched the newly-wed game show, and we took the kids to Bollywood which they also enjoyed. Never did play bingo as we spent too much last year on it and never won anything. The kids kept us busier than usual so we didn't have "extra" time to find things to do! ? Ports First off, we didn't do any excursions through NCL. We booked all of our own based on recommendations mainly found on CC. Our first port of call was Samana. We were here last year and did the whale watching trip through NCL and went to Cayo Levantado beach. This time around we decided to book a group and go to Playa Rincon beach with Casa Dorado. We got off the tender and found them right away and got into the taxi for the bumpy 45 minute ride. After the taxi ride we were transferred to boats and then taken to the beach. Honestly, it was a pretty beach, but I don't see it as being rated as one of the top in the world as I have read. I know people look for different things when visiting beaches, but I have seen easily a dozen that I would probably rank above it. Again, just my opinion. Overall it was a nice beach, but kind of rough water the day we were there. If we do book a cruise that stops in Samana again, I think we would opt for the ship excursion to Cayo Levantado beach and spend the day there. A short tender ride away, more beach time, and to me a better beach as long you are the only cruise ship in port that day. Tortola - We decided to catch a taxi when we arrived and headed to Brewer's Bay. ($7pp each way) We were hoping to get in some good snorkeling as we had heard this was the place! Unfortunately, the surf was high and mighty the day we were there and you couldn't see two feet in front of your face as the water was so cloudy. Swam out a couple of times, but couldn't see anything. Hope to maybe try this place again next time with better luck. Wish we would have taken the kids to Virgin Gorda Baths as we did that last year on our own and really enjoyed it. Oh well, next time. ? Antigua - We used Serenity Vacations and Tours and booked Long bay Beach with them. ($21 adults and $15 kids). The driver was excellent and gave us a tour as we went along to the beach. Before we stopped at Long Bay he took us to Devil's Bridge. Amazing place! Beautiful scenery and great pictures! Then we went to Long Bay to spend the day. Now this is a beach!! By far the best beach of the 5 we stopped at all week. Beautiful white sand, calm waters, and could see 15 feet straight to the bottom. We swam out a little to the reef and saw beautiful coral and many fish. Could have spent all week on this beach... we will be back for sure!! Barbados - This was our fist time here so we wanted to see the much talked about turtles. We decided to book with Shasa Tours ($80 adults $40 kids). Jason and Tess are great, and it was nice to have a little seclusion with 5 ships in port that day!!! We did the 5 hour sail with lunch, but I think that might have been a little long for our kids who probably would have been better with the 3 hour sail. Overall a great day, but we were very tired when we were done. We snorkeled on a reef instead of the shipwreck since there were so many cruise ships docked, and the turtles didn't disappoint! They served us a great lunch then we went and spent a little time on the beach before taking the taxi back to port. St. Kitts - We booked a tour with Royston after reading so much about him here ($40 adults $5 kids) We knew he had an "open air" van but that was ok. He had all the windows out and we had a nice breeze and great ride the whole time even though it was HOT the day we were there! We had requested to go to Brimstone Hill, the rainforest, to see some monkeys for the kids, and beach time. He got us all that and more! We ended up making a stop at the Batik Factory and walked around a little there. The kids got to hold a little vervet monkey (diaper and all) and take pictures with him. Royston tipped the guy with the monkey and also paid our admission to Brimstone Hill. After Brimstone hill we decided to not go around the whole island and instead head to cockleshell beach. Our original plan was to head to South Friars Bay but the water was choppy and we had enough of choppy water this week ? We drove above South Friars on the beautiful scenic drive to cockleshell where we arrived later in the day so got a discount on chairs and umbrellas. It was a nice beach, but pretty rocky and full of various shells which the kids loved. Royston is a great guy and will go wherever you want to go. He got us lunch and had a cooler full of drinks which was greatly appreciated. The way back to port he took us the scenic way around some beautiful homes perched high up on the hills. Another great day. Highly recommend using Royston! Best money we spent for a tour!! Kids Club Our kids did not use the kids club at all during the cruise. We took them with us just about everywhere we went and they had a great time. We had taken them to the open house for the kids club and they didn't seem that interested so we didn't push it. We planned on keeping them with us most of the time and it worked out perfect. Besides that, it gave us some great time together away from work, school, and hectic home schedules. They had a blast at the T-Rex pools and made some friends there as well. Casino We were booked through CAS with a 17% discount off both our rooms. As you all know they have changed their point system to what is typical of a Harrahs property in earning your tier score there (ie. $5 slot play equals 1 point). They might try to tell you that you are earning the same amount of rewards as before, but you are not. I played through over $12,000 and got back $75 towards my onboard charges...not near as good as last year on the Dawn....enough about that. ? Our last two sea days on the way back to Miami were rougher seas, pretty cloudy, and cool. Not the best sailing weather, but no one got sea sick, and it gave us time to heal our sunburns from the islands!! The last sea day was interesting, they announced they saw a life boat floating in the ocean so we would have to stop and check it out. They stopped the Dawn and we did at least one whole circle before they announced it was empty and probably blew off another vessel. Disembarkation was a breeze. Anshuman met us at 9am and escorted us off the Dawn. Walked outside and caught a shuttle van to MIA and arrived home safely. Overall it was an awesome cruise!! The kids are begging to go on another one already so we will have to put those 3 future cruise credits we purchased to work!! Would we sail the Dawn again? I don't know. This was the first time we have the sailed the same ship a second time. This might sound weird but we really missed that first impression as you walk on the ship and going from room to room and discovering where everything is and just the feeling of something new and different. Of course we still loved our cruise and the Dawn, but there are many other NCL ships to try!! Have my eye on the Epic in the Mediterranean next year!! Norwegian Dawn - February 26th 9 day Southern Caribbean This was our eighth cruise and our second on the Dawn. All of our previous cruises have just been my wife and I. We are late 20's and this time we were travelling with our daughter, age 8, son, age 5, and my mother and sister. This was our kids and my sisters first cruise. We stayed in AB suite 11530 and they had a connecting AF Minisuite. I decided to write up a review since I enjoy reading others so much before going on our cruises. We stayed the night at Miami Doral Golf Resort. We got it through Priceline for $115 a night, but not really that great of a hotel. Nice enough, but a long way from the airport and port. Probably wouldn't stay here again, as I would pick my own hotel next time like we usually do. We used QLS transportation to bring us to our hotel and then again the next morning to bring us to the port ($60 each way for the six of us). We waited at the airport for over an hour for our luggage and they were right there to pick us up when we got our luggage finally. Next morning we were off to the port. We arrived about 12:30 to the port and we were to our room in no time. Anshuman was our concierge and Nelson was our butler. Anshuman informed us when meeting him that my mother and sister would be treated to our suite perks as well. This held true throughout the cruise as they were able to join us at Cagney's for breakfast and lunch, have priority embarkation, priority tendering, and priority disembarkation with us. The AB suite was amazing. Ahhhh that bathroom with the great views from the tub and shower. It was perfect for the four of us and the kids LOVED having their own little room. We felt Anshuman did his job very well. He was attentive and took care of our needs. We do not request or require a lot from either our concierge or our butler and felt they both did a good job. Anshuman was always at Cagney's when we were there to greet us and wish us a good day. Nelson also did his job well and got us anything we required. We did feel that Ravi did a slightly better job last year on the Dawn than Nelson, just as far as attentiveness. Our vacation was excellent and I will try to break the long review down into sections for easy skimming... Food: Overall the food was very good. Of course you had some things that weren't perfect but you could always go and get something else if you were still hungry! Breakfast we ate various places. Cagney's was always excellent. The buffet was well, a buffet. Good food but usually lukewarm unless you got the made-to-order omelets or waffles. The buffet was always packed and a mad-house for breakfast. We much preferred the quiet atmosphere of Cagney's. Suite room service we had once and that was enough. Food was cold and left a lot to be desired. Lunch we were usually at port since we had 5 port days in a row. Embarkation day we ate at Cagney's and it was good but service lacked. However, they were swamped (of course) then and service was great the rest of the week. Ate at Aqua once and it was ok, and Blue Lagoon once and it was good. Dinner we split between Aqua, Venetian, and the Buffet mostly. The aqua was usually good, but had better service at the Venetian. The buffet was surprisingly good a couple of evenings and good overall if you can handle the crowds!! Our kids were happy with just about all the meals they received in all the dining venues. My daughter loved the pasta station at the buffet and they both loved the New York Strip steak on the anytime menu for the dining room. The new dining room menus seemed to have about the same quality and choices as what we experienced last year on the Dawn. We ate at Cagney's on the next to last sea day. This was the only specialty restaurant we dined in. The filet was delicious but I doubt I would pay the $25 pp fee again since we thought the rest of the food on the ship was good as well. For the kids we asked about splitting a meal for them but they said they would be charged half price whether they split it or not. Worked for us, so we just ordered them both a meal and they thoroughly enjoyed their filets as well! Service The service was excellent just as it was on our last Dawn cruise. We were on the Eurodam last October and the friendliness just didn't seem the same as it is on Norwegian. Every employee you meet greets you with a smile and a "good morning" or "how are you?" as you pass them. Again, this was our first cruise with our kids so we weren't sure what to expect for them. The crew LOVES kids. They would always greet them and seemed to enjoy interacting with them. Our cabin stewards were great as well - very unobtrusive but very efficient. Entertainment We had seen all of the entertainment on our previous Dawn cruise last year so we kind of just chose the ones we knew were good and the kids would enjoy. We saw the first show by the Jean Ann Ryan Co. with the kids and they weren't too impressed. We also took them to see the juggler which they really enjoyed. My wife and I watched the newly-wed game show, and we took the kids to Bollywood which they also enjoyed. Never did play bingo as we spent too much last year on it and never won anything. The kids kept us busier than usual so we didn't have "extra" time to find things to do! ? Ports First off, we didn't do any excursions through NCL. We booked all of our own based on recommendations mainly found on CC. Our first port of call was Samana. We were here last year and did the whale watching trip through NCL and went to Cayo Levantado beach. This time around we decided to book a group and go to Playa Rincon beach with Casa Dorado. We got off the tender and found them right away and got into the taxi for the bumpy 45 minute ride. After the taxi ride we were transferred to boats and then taken to the beach. Honestly, it was a pretty beach, but I don't see it as being rated as one of the top in the world as I have read. I know people look for different things when visiting beaches, but I have seen easily a dozen that I would probably rank above it. Again, just my opinion. Overall it was a nice beach, but kind of rough water the day we were there. If we do book a cruise that stops in Samana again, I think we would opt for the ship excursion to Cayo Levantado beach and spend the day there. A short tender ride away, more beach time, and to me a better beach as long you are the only cruise ship in port that day. Tortola - We decided to catch a taxi when we arrived and headed to Brewer's Bay. ($7pp each way) We were hoping to get in some good snorkeling as we had heard this was the place! Unfortunately, the surf was high and mighty the day we were there and you couldn't see two feet in front of your face as the water was so cloudy. Swam out a couple of times, but couldn't see anything. Hope to maybe try this place again next time with better luck. Wish we would have taken the kids to Virgin Gorda Baths as we did that last year on our own and really enjoyed it. Oh well, next time. ? Antigua - We used Serenity Vacations and Tours and booked Long bay Beach with them. ($21 adults and $15 kids). The driver was excellent and gave us a tour as we went along to the beach. Before we stopped at Long Bay he took us to Devil's Bridge. Amazing place! Beautiful scenery and great pictures! Then we went to Long Bay to spend the day. Now this is a beach!! By far the best beach of the 5 we stopped at all week. Beautiful white sand, calm waters, and could see 15 feet straight to the bottom. We swam out a little to the reef and saw beautiful coral and many fish. Could have spent all week on this beach... we will be back for sure!! Barbados - This was our fist time here so we wanted to see the much talked about turtles. We decided to book with Shasa Tours ($80 adults $40 kids). Jason and Tess are great, and it was nice to have a little seclusion with 5 ships in port that day!!! We did the 5 hour sail with lunch, but I think that might have been a little long for our kids who probably would have been better with the 3 hour sail. Overall a great day, but we were very tired when we were done. We snorkeled on a reef instead of the shipwreck since there were so many cruise ships docked, and the turtles didn't disappoint! They served us a great lunch then we went and spent a little time on the beach before taking the taxi back to port. St. Kitts - We booked a tour with Royston after reading so much about him here ($40 adults $5 kids) We knew he had an "open air" van but that was ok. He had all the windows out and we had a nice breeze and great ride the whole time even though it was HOT the day we were there! We had requested to go to Brimstone Hill, the rainforest, to see some monkeys for the kids, and beach time. He got us all that and more! We ended up making a stop at the Batik Factory and walked around a little there. The kids got to hold a little vervet monkey (diaper and all) and take pictures with him. Royston tipped the guy with the monkey and also paid our admission to Brimstone Hill. After Brimstone hill we decided to not go around the whole island and instead head to cockleshell beach. Our original plan was to head to South Friars Bay but the water was choppy and we had enough of choppy water this week ? We drove above South Friars on the beautiful scenic drive to cockleshell where we arrived later in the day so got a discount on chairs and umbrellas. It was a nice beach, but pretty rocky and full of various shells which the kids loved. Royston is a great guy and will go wherever you want to go. He got us lunch and had a cooler full of drinks which was greatly appreciated. The way back to port he took us the scenic way around some beautiful homes perched high up on the hills. Another great day. Highly recommend using Royston! Best money we spent for a tour!! Kids Club Our kids did not use the kids club at all during the cruise. We took them with us just about everywhere we went and they had a great time. We had taken them to the open house for the kids club and they didn't seem that interested so we didn't push it. We planned on keeping them with us most of the time and it worked out perfect. Besides that, it gave us some great time together away from work, school, and hectic home schedules. They had a blast at the T-Rex pools and made some friends there as well. Casino We were booked through CAS with a 17% discount off both our rooms. As you all know they have changed their point system to what is typical of a Harrahs property in earning your tier score there (ie. $5 slot play equals 1 point). They might try to tell you that you are earning the same amount of rewards as before, but you are not. I played through over $12,000 and got back $75 towards my onboard charges...not near as good as last year on the Dawn....enough about that. ? Our last two sea days on the way back to Miami were rougher seas, pretty cloudy, and cool. Not the best sailing weather, but no one got sea sick, and it gave us time to heal our sunburns from the islands!! The last sea day was interesting, they announced they saw a life boat floating in the ocean so we would have to stop and check it out. They stopped the Dawn and we did at least one whole circle before they announced it was empty and probably blew off another vessel. Disembarkation was a breeze. Anshuman met us at 9am and escorted us off the Dawn. Walked outside and caught a shuttle van to MIA and arrived home safely. Overall it was an awesome cruise!! The kids are begging to go on another one already so we will have to put those 3 future cruise credits we purchased to work!! Would we sail the Dawn again? I don't know. This was the first time we have sailed the same ship a second time. This might sound weird but we really missed that first impression as you walk on the ship and just going from room to room and discovering where everything is and the feeling of something new and different. We knew what to expect I guess and that took away a little of the fun in it all. Of course we still loved our cruise and the Dawn, but there are many other NCL ships to try!! Have my eye on the Epic in the Mediterranean next year!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Overall this was a great vacation. We sailed 9 days total, 5 ports, and 3 whole days at sea. We had a total of 7 in our party (all family, no kids). I'll try to keep this review to the point. embarkation: Smooth. We arrived ... Read More
Overall this was a great vacation. We sailed 9 days total, 5 ports, and 3 whole days at sea. We had a total of 7 in our party (all family, no kids). I'll try to keep this review to the point. embarkation: Smooth. We arrived shortly after 11 am and go through fine. We waited about 1/2 hour before they started allowing us on the ship and were on board before noon. We went straight to the pool to hang out and have drink. We met DeePak who was a great waiter/bartender. He was very nice and we signed up for the pub crawl for Day 2. Cruise Director Matt made sure we had a "gOOd" time! :-) He's quite a talented harmonica player. On a previous NCL cruise we had Simon and I prefer Simon over Matt but Matt was good and entertaining. Assistant Cruise Director George (Georges Gorgeous)was good as well as were the other staff (Luz, Chelsea, Peter, and Alvin). Luz taught me how to Cha Cha and Salsa Dance. Chelsea taught me how to Zumba. Alvin hosted the Pub Crawl and showed us a great time and we met a ton of new friends. Food - We own a restaurant which serves Certified Angus Beef, Prime. The steaks on board are "Select" so I wasn't impressed with the steaks. I thought shrimp and lobster were rather small too (again, compared to what we serve in our restaurant). We went to Cagney's one night and were disappointed in the quality of the meat. For $25 we expected a better grade meat than the dinning rooms. However, service was way above par. We at at Teppanyaki for $25 per person as well and was very good! Entertainment and food was delicious! Service was also excellent. Aqua and The Venetian - food was average. (Again, remember we own a restaurant so we know food well. The average person may feel food was excellent.) Service first and second nights were slow. Had to wait almost 15 minutes for water, 15 minutes for bread basket. Drink refills were slow. When we ordered more than one meal or asked for alterations, sometimes waitstaff rolled their eyes but did provide us with what we asked for with a smile once served. Blue Lagoon - 12 to go! (Wings that is!) We loved ordering the chicken wings to go to take to our room or the pub while we enjoyed social hours and watched football. Service at the Lagoon was great. Garden Cafe - Typical Buffet food. Not much to say here. You can't have super high expectations at a buffet. Sanitation was great, Washy, Washy = Happy, Happy! :-) Room Steward - was good. Towel animals were great! We only had 1 robe, asked steward for another and we had it the next day. Steward did miss a dirty used wash cloth upon our check in but other than that did a very nice job and was attentive. He never did restock the "packets" for napkin disposal in our room. However, I did not ask as I was embarrassed to ask such a thing. So just made sure I wrapped my items accordingly. Casino - staff was very nice and accommodating. Shows - We went to a few of the main shows and all were great. I love music and they had quite a few musicians on board however my husband doesn't so I didn't listen to them their whole shows. We did book the Behind the Scenes Tour and would highly recommend it! A great glimpse into the crew areas of the ship and how things work. Room - We upgraded from a BA Balcony to a Mini-Suite and enjoyed the extra room, separate toilet, and bathtub. Bathtub is a little high and inside of tub seemed smaller, not as wide as home. I had a problem I should have reported but didn't cause I don't like to complain. Our shower and sink water were not hot. At best, lukewarm, even turned to 50. However, my husband said sometimes he got hot water. I showered first so maybe I warmed it up for him??? Or maybe he lied so I wouldn't complain. :-) I don't know but was happy to come home to a hot shower. Bed - was not comfortable and hard. Could have used fluffier pillows. Balcony - good sized. The ship is older and the wear shows. One thing I didn't like about the balcony is the walls are slanted up therefore when you look out over the railing and look towards the forward or aft, you can view all of your neighbors! :-) I mean it's possible to walk to your neighbors room from balcony to balcony without any problems. I like it to be a little more private on my balcony. Carpets - We also own a flooring store so we pay attention to carpet. We loved the carpet on the pearl and I think the Dawn could use more brightly colored, patterned carpets. Carpet was in fairly good shape but I found it boring. Atrium - beautiful! Lots of music/bands in the atrium. Beautiful, stunning actually. Overall the Dawn is an older ship and it shows in some areas. She will have some upgrades done while in dry dock this spring. We felt the ship needed more open areas for eating/dinning. On the Pearl, the Garden Cafe goes in the aft of the ship and is open for eating as well as there's a bar. The Dawn didn't have that and we missed that part. Only outside areas were by pool. Several nights we had very strong winds so pool deck was closed. Disembarkation - smooth. We did easy walk off and got in line around 7:20 and were at Miami Airport shortly after 8 a.m. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Embarkation: Flawless. We were on the ship within 20-25 minutes of arriving at the Port of Miami.Disembarkation: Flawless. We "self-disembarked" and were off the ship by 8:15.Cabin: Our inside cabin was the smallest we ever had. ... Read More
Embarkation: Flawless. We were on the ship within 20-25 minutes of arriving at the Port of Miami.Disembarkation: Flawless. We "self-disembarked" and were off the ship by 8:15.Cabin: Our inside cabin was the smallest we ever had. However, the shower was probably the biggest.Entertainment: On the whole above average. The stage shows were good and Jose and Patti were fantastic! This cruise line doesn't know what they have in this duo!Housekeeping: The carpet in our stateroom wasn't vacuumed until day 7, even though there was sand everywhere from day 3. There were stains and cigarette burns in the carpet. The roof in the outside hallway was leaking in various places, and there were buckets and debris evident the entire cruise.Food: This was the absolute worst food we have experienced in 12 cruises. The breakfast buffet didn't change for 9 days. 9 days of potatoes with green peppers and onions! The dining room food at dinner was a bland, tasteless. tough conglomeration of barely edible choices. We wondered if this wasn't done by design to force you into one of the surcharge restaurants to get a decent meal. This is the first cruise we have ever been on that did not feature escargot or creme brulee at least once during the cruise. However, if you wanted to pay $25 to eat at Cagney's both items were on the menu. Every dessert I tasted on this ship tasted like it came out of a Jello box. The chocolate extravaganza was heavily promoted and drew many people who were hugely disappointed in what was presented.Casino: Another disappointment. 6 to 5 Blackjack payoff is a ripoff. $10 minimum on crap table was ridiculous and kept people off the table.Summary: Back to the "traditional" cruise lines for us! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Embarkation was a breeze, as a latitudes member we went to that queue and it was shorter than the other line. We breezed through all the embarkation stuff and were on board in no time. Our room was ready but the bathroom had not been ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze, as a latitudes member we went to that queue and it was shorter than the other line. We breezed through all the embarkation stuff and were on board in no time. Our room was ready but the bathroom had not been cleaned, so we called house keeping and reported it and set off to explore the ship. When we returned a few hours later it was all taken care of. We went on excursions in Samana, Antigua, Barbados and St. Kitts. In Samana we went whale watching and saw numerous whales surfacing and tail flapping. There was a little confusion on the return to the ship. They dropped us off on a remote beach and after some talking we were able to get on a boat taking some other people to an island and then they took us back to the ship. On Antigua we went on the SubCat and that was very interesting, this is a new excursion as they have only been doing this for 6 months so hopefully they make it work. The little cove where they start from is very nice and the ride was pretty cool. On Barbados we went to view the Concorde and it was very cool and worth the money, but the rest of the tour was a joke. The guide driving the taxi would talk to the other people in the front of the taxi but those of us in the back could not hear him. They took us to a little bar out in the sticks for some rum punch and this was pretty Mickey Mouse as we stayed there for much more time than was needed and then we ended up having very little other time in Port. On St. Kitts we did the little train and it was a very neat, very nice narrated tour of part of the Island with great views. They also served us drinks, we had a fantastic Banana Daiquiri. They also had some local ladies come on and sing for us, it was very nice. We lucked out and got to the end of the ride ready to board our buses just as a rain storm hit. But the driver and crew made sure that we didn't get too wet. On the way back to Port the Driver gave us a great narrated tour and it was very nice with lots of interesting information about things that we saw on the way. The entertainment on the ship was great, the Jean Ann Ryan group was very good as usual. The magician was very good and we went to everything he offered during the cruise. Dave the comedian was very good also. We tried to go listen to the group playing in Dazzles who must have been very good as they were packed all the time and we couldn't get a seat. We ate at the buffet for all our meals but two as it was the most convenient and the food was fine. We ate at Cagney's toward the end of the cruise and had a very good steak, one of the best I have had in a long time. The service was excellent and it was well worth the extra money paid. The last night we were aboard we ate at Teppenyaki and it was excellent also and a very good show. The chef did a fantastic job and was very good to watch as he did his thing preparing the meal. When we got back to Miami we did the Everglades tour to take us back to the airport and it was also a very interesting tour. We saw a lot of Alligators and other birds and the like. The whole experience was very good and it is worth the money paid. This was our 5th cruise and we were never at a lose for something to do and can't wait for our next NCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We cruised on NCL Norwegian Dawn from Miami to the southern Caribbean. The ship was very nice and we took the advice from a cruise reviewer and went directly to the Venetian Restaurant for lunch when we got on the ship. Our cabin was small ... Read More
We cruised on NCL Norwegian Dawn from Miami to the southern Caribbean. The ship was very nice and we took the advice from a cruise reviewer and went directly to the Venetian Restaurant for lunch when we got on the ship. Our cabin was small but the shower in the bathroom was the largest we'd ever seen on a cruise ship.The square table in the corner was a real nuisance trying to get around that edge of the bed. We were disappointed in the surcharge at most of the restaurants. They tried to tell us that the cost was what we'd pay for a tip back home in a restaurant, but we've never paid $10 per person for a tip, let alone $25! We ate all our breakfasts and lunches in the Garden Cafe- the food was very good, and our dinners in the Venetian. The food there was adequate but nothing spectacular. The staff was very nice except for a few exceptions. Our toilet wouldn't flush on 5 of the days, but after reporting it, it was taken care of fairly quickly - something to do with a problem with the vacuum lines. They offered to move us to another room after the 4th time, but we stayed put as we were pretty well settled in by then. The entertainment was excellent. We found the Dazzle Lounge show with Jose and Patti to be exceptional, and spent most evenings there, before and after the shows in the theater. The shore excursions were very expensive, so we found our own tours in the ports through local taxi companies.There was a $2.50 charge for a bottle of water when you left the ship in port, so we bought water in the port for less than 1/2 the cost and brought some back on board with us to refill bottles for future days. There weren't very many chairs out on the decks for sitting. On sea days, we found the Spinnaker Lounge to be a nice quiet place to read during the day, the card rooms were nice to play cards, but be sure to take a sweater. The Salsa restaurant also was a great place to play cards during the day.The pictures taken were disappointing - mostly only 8x10's. If you wanted to get 5x7's, you had to buy the 8x10's first. Our first port was Samana, Dominican Republic. We didn't find an excursion we wanted to spend the money on, so we didn't go ashore. We were advised that it wasn't safe to go ashore unless you were going on an excursion. Many of the excursions sent boats out to the ships to pick up passengers. Many of us stayed aboard ship. We couldn't understand why they would even stop in a port that wasn't safe for people to go in to. Very disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We went on a 14 day Southern Caribbean we was great. on a scale 1-100 I give this cruise a 95. There were a few little things here and there but Overall the ship is very clean. The Staff is very good, i could care less for the cruise ... Read More
We went on a 14 day Southern Caribbean we was great. on a scale 1-100 I give this cruise a 95. There were a few little things here and there but Overall the ship is very clean. The Staff is very good, i could care less for the cruise director didnt see him much at events and when we did it was for very short time. Ports of call were Samana Dominican Repulic- Poor part of DR so book an excursion and you will have a great time. If you go to port you will be disappointed. we did a snorkel and it was fun a lot of rum=punch :) Tortola- Wodenrful, we did a snotkel catamaran and it was great time clear waters. Antigua- Amazing, we did a Pirate ship with snorkel of a wreck, walk the plank and swing rope. Also went to a beach and had drinks. St. Lucia - DONT DO THE BUS TOUR. It was horrible 4 hours on a bus to see a waterfall for 20 minutes. Other people went to the beach and said it was great. St. Kitts - WE WANT TO MOVE THERE RIGHT OF WAY. This place is beautiful the people are great and the island is just oh my god pretty. We did a snorkel on a dive boat went and snorkeled at two different places where the huides cought turtles showed them to us and released them. Saw sea snakes and stingrays. I would recommend this cruise to any one who wants to relax, We also paid $189 for the lenght of the cruise to access a spa anytime we wnated to use the indoor pool , the jaquzzie and the hydro pool, plus relax area and saunas. BEWARE - the spa are is closed on the last night at 8 pm which kind of upset us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow again! We got home last night. I'm convinced cruising is THEE way to travel. MUCH preferable to flying hours into a single destination, spending a few days then flying hours back home. I read many of the ... Read More
Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow again! We got home last night. I'm convinced cruising is THEE way to travel. MUCH preferable to flying hours into a single destination, spending a few days then flying hours back home. I read many of the negative reviews and some of the positive reviews before we left and again after we returned last night. The specifics are well explored on this website, so I'll just comment on our impressions. Dining: For "budget cruisers", for free meals (i.e. included in your cruise price) you have your choice of a fun diner (Blue Lagoon), the main, double-sided buffet-style dining hall with floor to ceiling windows (Garden Cafe) and The (beautiful, elegant) Venetian for those times you want a more formal dining experience. We thought the food in each was delicious, hot and varied. The NCL-Dawn also has 4-5 "prix-fixed" restaurants...you pay $10 to $25 per person (depending upon the restaurant) and choose anything you want from the 4-6 course menu. Half the menu doesn't change and the other half changes daily. We tried Cagney's (steakhouse), Salsa (sort of Tex-Mex) and Le Bistro (French) and had delicious experiences in all three. We didn't "find" The Venetian until the last night on board, the ship is so big! Service: we didn't need to ask for much. Our room was made up and towels refreshed when we returned from breakfast. Our stateroom was freshened again while we were out for dinner and entertainment. Our coffee pot didn't work. Our steward exchanged it for another within 30 minutes of our calling for service. Another day we discovered our door had stopped locking upon closing it. We called for service, received concerned attention to it, and it was repaired by the time we returned from our excursion (shore trip). Everywhere we went on the ship, there is always someone there to bring a drink. Entertainment: was good. The entertainment IS, however, "white bread"...not very diverse except for those of Anglo, light-skinned Latin and Asian decent. There is one "watered-down" reggae band. I was surprised that not a single African-American singer, dancer, comedian was anywhere to be found. There were two on the Cruise Director's staff, but they weren't performers. Bingo Boy is silly. David Heenan, the comedian, was funny. The various singers were good. However I was most impressed with the production company of singers and dancers that did the nightly shows. The very hard-working dancer-singers were obviously ballet-trained. A different show each night. The Ballywood show was amazing considering the rocking ship could have caused an injury, yet the dancers were as acrobatic as I've seen on land. My hat is off to the Cruise Director, John. He's quite sharp and he runs a well-oiled operation, a testament to his 11 years with NCL. But he can certainly improve racial diversity amongst the entertainment. Dallas, Texas alone has world-class African American singers and dancers - they're out there...improve the recruitment process. Shore excursions: We preferred sight-seeing combined with historical information about the island. NCL offers many, many excursions in each port. But we found we could duplicate the excursions NCL offered for about 33% to 60% of the NCL price. At every port there are scores of taxi drivers that are sanctioned by the local tourist bureau just outside the Tourist Information desk area. In most cases the Tourist Info desk personnel will direct you to a specific taxi driver. The drivers have vans and some have cars. When the driver has a van, he or she will need to get at least 6-8 people to make the trip cost effective and you can pick which trip and the van you want to ride in. When the driver has a car, you get to make up your itinerary and he still narrates as you explore. We negotiated a price that covered the sights we wanted to take in, making it clear what time we wanted to return to the ship. You don't pay the driver until you get back to the ship. Though we could have done the same when we decided to enjoy the island train excursion on St Kitts, we chose to book through NCL for that one excursion. We have incredible video from our excursions on each island. Email me if you'd like our driver's cell numbers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Norwegian Dawn Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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