87 Norwegian Dawn Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because of its remarkable itinerary, as did eight of our friends- in a total of 5 cabins. Although not as relaxing as our previous amazing Epic transAtlantic cruise 11/4/18, it was a wonderful opportunity to stop and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its remarkable itinerary, as did eight of our friends- in a total of 5 cabins. Although not as relaxing as our previous amazing Epic transAtlantic cruise 11/4/18, it was a wonderful opportunity to stop and see islands I had not yet ever visited before to decide if I want to return to them again, despite being so busy almost daily. I had never previously been to Bonaire, St. Lucia, Barbados nor St. Kitts. I did shore excursions at six of the 8 islands we visited l, to better experience them, partly because of the $50/cabin per destination early booking enticement. Also, Many of the ship staff were equally as professional & servicial as on previous NCL cruises, on the Escape, Getaway and Epic, which continues to be a major reason for our choosing NCL repeatedly in past 3 years. Our cabin steward, Paul Navarro was wonderful, and Marneil & Jaylord in the Venetian restaurant were extremely attentive and friendly handling the needs of our table for 10 for 5 of the 10 nights. Those 3 went above and beyond expectations. We kept requesting Marneil for her excellent service. Kasey & Alvin, and Jasmine in Aqua were very cordial and more NCL assets. The food is excellent overall, but some standout examples were exceptional- coconut shrimp (Aqua), mushroom soup and chocolate Napoleon (Bistro), braised beef short ribs over pasta (Aqua), paella (Aqua), surf & turf (Cagney’s), calamari, and gnocchi with pesto (la Cucina), and shrimp quesadilla and skirt steak (Los Lobos), among others. The sidecar in Cagneys & Tropical Paloma in Los Lobos were excellently prepared drinks. The daily soup offerings in Garden café were only average to a soup hound , as I am. This was my 23rd lifetime cruise, 6 now with NCL, the 4 most recent, plus Starward & Southward Long ago in my teens. I know what I’m looking for in future cruises. The entertainment was excellent on the Dawn this trip, especially the aerialists and vocalists/dancers, only exceeded by the entertainment on the Epic crossing, especially the Epic Beatles. Keep up the good work. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This is our fourth cruise with Norwegian. I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the cruise line. I like the smaller ships like the Dawn because you do not have to make reservations for the shows and the main dining. I have had really good ... Read More
This is our fourth cruise with Norwegian. I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the cruise line. I like the smaller ships like the Dawn because you do not have to make reservations for the shows and the main dining. I have had really good experiences so far on all four of our cruises with Norwegian. The staff is so friendly and accommodating. This trip had a great itinerary. Nine beautiful Southern Caribbean Islands and only one sea day. I was worried at first that it would be too many islands at one time but it didn't feel rushed. We did excursions for almost every island except for two, but it still felt very relaxing. Enjoyed the cruise so much we have booked a cruise for next year with Norwegian. A seven day Mediterranean out of Greece. We will be on the Dawn again. Now I have something to look forward to for 2020. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Great size ship. Not too big. Norwegian Ships always provides first class service, amenities, food and entertainment. The ports of call were varied and safe. The excursions were awesome. Couldn’t beat the weather. The registration ... Read More
Great size ship. Not too big. Norwegian Ships always provides first class service, amenities, food and entertainment. The ports of call were varied and safe. The excursions were awesome. Couldn’t beat the weather. The registration and de-barking process was swift and efficient. The speciality restaurants were as fine as the best in any City. The waiters are extremely well trained and attentive to one’s every need. Our cabin steward was new;; however, he went out of his way to perform his responsibilities very well. The hostesses, and bar personnel learned your favourites quickly and by the third day knew what you wanted before you placed an order. The ship was spotless and employees were present everywhere cleaning and putting final touches on the ships interior. The constant attention to the hygiene of everyone on board is remarkable. The washy washy, happy happy, theme made the process fun and effortless. We have cruised on other lines; however, we now patronize Norwegian due to the consistent delivery of all of the above. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This is the first time cruiseing with NCL and our experience was great. My only down side was the age range of the cruisers since we are a younger couple. My big plus was how great our room was and how clean and how the turn down ... Read More
This is the first time cruiseing with NCL and our experience was great. My only down side was the age range of the cruisers since we are a younger couple. My big plus was how great our room was and how clean and how the turn down service was amazing. Our stateroom steward was Eko Miftakhul Najib he made our cruise experience great. Also the cruise director was amazing and keeping the party going and I loved his jokes. The dinning was very good but desert options where not my favorite. The excursions where diverse and every since excursion was memorable and good experience. The ship was updated and the staff was friendly. The photo center was great we enjoyed the photos that where purchased. We enjoyed taking photos from one paticular photographer I can’t remember her name exacts but she was a younger girl from South Africa. She was great and she made our trip memorable. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We decided to sail out of San Juan because of the iitenerary. It did not disappoint. Barbados and St. Lucia were great ports. The Virgin Islands were good as well. I like NCLfreestyle ways. Everyone on board was friendly and went out of ... Read More
We decided to sail out of San Juan because of the iitenerary. It did not disappoint. Barbados and St. Lucia were great ports. The Virgin Islands were good as well. I like NCLfreestyle ways. Everyone on board was friendly and went out of their way to make your experience a good one. The room stewards are on point Adrian was ours and he was great. Pedro the entertainment director does a good job. The not so newlywed game had me in tears literally. I advise booking some speciality restaurants and booking early. They fill up fast. The complimentary restaurants get old after a while. The Dawn is an older smaller ship. It wears its age well. The ship is well cleaned. The staff is great. The dock party was a blast. NCL entertain better than carnival in my opinion. Moving the white party indoors because of weather was premature. Ended up being beautiful outside. Overall, it was a great trip. There are a lot of free giveaways in port. Check the insert of you daily entertainment publishing. Oh to my surprise, the drinks on NCL were poten. Not cheap, 10-15 each. But strong and tasty. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We traveled as a family with two adult children and their spouses. We found the boat in excellent condition, like new almost. The ship is a bit smaller than some of the mega ships we have been on and we found that quite refreshing. ... Read More
We traveled as a family with two adult children and their spouses. We found the boat in excellent condition, like new almost. The ship is a bit smaller than some of the mega ships we have been on and we found that quite refreshing. The lay out of the boat and signage makes navigating the boat easy. There are a wide range of activities more than you can do. Something for everybody. Good restaurants, be sure to book specialty restaurants early. Many of them sold out on our cruise. We found the sit down restaurants, venition and aqua much better than the buffet. The cruise next program is excellent. You get half of any future cruise deposit as an onboard credit to spend on your current cruise, an incredible value. Our only complaint was the bedding was not comfortable , but our room steward quickly got us some extra padding that fixed this. This ship is an incredible value. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise because of the port of call. We had never sailed to the southern Caribbean and 6 of the 8 stops were all new islands for us. We were not disappointed with the quality of the beaches, easy aces to them, shopping etc. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the port of call. We had never sailed to the southern Caribbean and 6 of the 8 stops were all new islands for us. We were not disappointed with the quality of the beaches, easy aces to them, shopping etc. We are not your typical tourist who book excursions for every stop. We do our own thing as we get off the ship. Getting cabs to and from the beaches are fairly easy and if you feel for a short 2-3 hour tour you can easily get them on and around the ship as you get off and you pay much less. Sometime they need 2-4 pax to complete the cab ride and you can negotiate them, as we did. As an example, St-Lucia, $25/per for a 2.5 hour tour with the caves which we paid $9 at the gate. I believe it was 2x the amount with the ship excursions. The food onboard was very good, for those of you, like us, who had never done "freestyle" dinning before, it is actually quite good. The longuest we ever waited in line at the Venetian dinning room or Aqua was less than 5min. A la carte dining, we only did La Cucina (Italian) was delicious and the extra was approx $30/per. The Asian restaurant (complementary) is a must. Reserve in advance as it does get full every night. We had one deception, that is the choice of more exotic foods such as lobsters, crabs, etc...Probably available in the Specialty restaurant for a fee but not in the main dinning rooms (Venetian/Aqua) and buffet Garden Cafe. We are convinced that it is probably due to the the cruise line trying to maintain pricing. Of the food that was available, it was very tasty but regular diner food. But good. The entertainment was awesome. A few musical, magic, comedian, and the Element finale was truly Vegas like quality. There is typically 2 showing and ample room. The staff is extremely charming, and if you ever sail on this ship and come across "Washy Washy" in the Garden Cafe, you will understand this statement....lollll We had a balcony state room and we were very please, We were on the 10th floor at the aft of the ship and everything was great. A word of caution to those who upgrade to a suit on the 11th floor, we met a couple who were just below the Garden Cafe (buffet) restaurant and the chair sliding noise was constant all day during all meals. Unfortunately, there was no solution from guest services for them other than propose ear plugs!!!!! So please choose your room (if on the 11th) at the front of the ship. In conclusion, we would definitely sail with Norwegian again, Pedro the cruise director was often in and around and very friendly. When speaking with some other guest we realized that we had a better price than some of them, we got ours through Selloff Vacations.com (Canada). For us it was a great value! Thank you Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I went on the cruise because of the price and itinerary…it didn’t disappoint. I was solo and the solo program is great. Geeofel Villanueva was our coordinator and did a fantastic job! This was my first Norwegian cruise. My biggest ... Read More
I went on the cruise because of the price and itinerary…it didn’t disappoint. I was solo and the solo program is great. Geeofel Villanueva was our coordinator and did a fantastic job! This was my first Norwegian cruise. My biggest complaint was the lack of activities and that the Freestyle Daily and app were incorrect. Activities listed in the Daily weren’t on the app. Activity locations were wrong in the Daily and app. The daily programs on other cruise lines are better. There was normally only two activities to choose from and neither were very exciting. The production shows were subpar. Besides those things, the cruise was very good. The cabin was very nice. The itinerary was excellent. The staff was absolutely fantastic, especially Geeo. All of the staff I interacted with remembered my name. The staff was friendly and helpful. The Cruise Director, Pedro, was too low energy for my taste. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Southern Caribbean was on our list of cruises we had been looking forward to. This cruise with NCL hit every Island we wanted to visit. The ship is a smaller and older ship but, with the upgrades they have made to the Dawn, we thought ... Read More
Southern Caribbean was on our list of cruises we had been looking forward to. This cruise with NCL hit every Island we wanted to visit. The ship is a smaller and older ship but, with the upgrades they have made to the Dawn, we thought were really well thought out. The pool is small so if you are looking to go for a swim it would be hard to do. They do have plenty of spots you can lay out for sun bathing. They have walking track, golf net, ping pong, basketball, soccer and even an outside pool and play area for kids. I highly suggest everyone when they can take the ship tour. They have a few shops on the ship to shop at but we really don't do any shopping on ships. The photo lab, computer lab are in the same area. Shore excursion, Cruise next and Customer service are easy to access. The atrium area is not that big but, they have tried to put seating areas around the cafe and up above on the next floor. We were upgraded from a balcony to a family suite that we put a bid on. We really liked all the space in our cabin. The decor was nice. We had a couch two chairs and a separate table with four chairs. The bathroom had a tub and a separate shower area that we really liked along with two sinks. We would diffidently recommend this cabin. We had the dinning package plus we are Platinum so we also had two other diners we could eat at. We liked every restaurant we were in and thought there were many menu items to choose from. The entertainment was really good every night we went. We also listened to the music at one of the bars that changed from night to night. Since we were at a port every day, we had a tour every day and did not take advantage of the day to day activities. We also did not go to any of the pool parties, or ship parties they had. Our service was really good. Our room steward was on top of everything we asked for. The butler had snacks in our room every day and was always asking if we needed anything. We picked excursions that explored the islands that we went to. There was only one tour that we did not like and that was the Historical Island Tour on St Lucia. This was one of the Islands we thought we really wanted to explore. The tour stopped at three stops which was a historic house, a Fort and a fishing village. The area's that we drove through were shacks. The fishing village had many stands to buy souvenirs but, they actually hide the fishing village and we only had 20 minutes to look around the area. All the tours that we went on the other islands were ones that showed off the area's. All the ports you could either walk off and explore or take a taxi to the downtown area's. We would diffidently go back to all the islands we went to and try doing other tours. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Our family cruised because we wanted to celebrate our parents !!! 50 years of marriage There was 22 of us and we made wonderful memories . We didn’t care for our day at sea so much, had a few people with motion sickness but that ... Read More
Our family cruised because we wanted to celebrate our parents !!! 50 years of marriage There was 22 of us and we made wonderful memories . We didn’t care for our day at sea so much, had a few people with motion sickness but that quickly passed . The staff was amazing “washy washy” of course won our hearts !!! The specialty restaurants was fantastic, the breakfast buffet got really old really fast !!! The bartender las where rockstars and not to mention the housekeeper!!!! Keep up the good work !!!! Our excursions went smoothly. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze we loved the ice cold wash cloths we where welcomed with for our faces on the hot days . We spent a lot of nights playing fun family games on deck . We didn’t really care for the small pool area it was always crowded . Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We loved our time on the Dawn. I truly cannot say enough - it was my first and my husband's third cruise. Everything went beautifully and we had many romantic, fun memories. I cannot wait to cruise again! The staff were ... Read More
We loved our time on the Dawn. I truly cannot say enough - it was my first and my husband's third cruise. Everything went beautifully and we had many romantic, fun memories. I cannot wait to cruise again! The staff were exceptional. We felt pampered, appreciated and were utterly relaxed upon our return home. We did a wine tasting, lots of shore excursions, trivia, the comedy show, a game show and had a blast. My husband got onstage and we laughed till our sides hurt. It was a vacation that I wasn't ready to head home from. Having a balcony mid-ship made the cruise so enjoyable. Sipping coffee with the beautiful views is heaven for us. The staff made it the incredible experience, everyone seems happy to help you have a great cruise. Warm, kind and friendly; they offer service I have never experienced in my life to date. Thank you NCL Dawn! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was our 20th cruise with NCL. We choose this cruise because we live about 50miles inland form Boston. We have been on the Dawn multiple times. We like the crew and the layout of the ship. We have found we don't care for the ... Read More
This was our 20th cruise with NCL. We choose this cruise because we live about 50miles inland form Boston. We have been on the Dawn multiple times. We like the crew and the layout of the ship. We have found we don't care for the large mega ships, and really enjoy the longer cruises. We find we are able to relax more with 10 or more days. We have sailed with many of the people that we have met on Cruise critics in the past, and made some good friends. It was nice to be able to sail to the Carribean without have to fly, stay in a hotel then fly again home. We used Worcester Airport Limo service share van to and from the port. We were picked up at our door and delivered to the ship. We arrived at the port and there was a computer problem causing them to process people very slowly, stopping the line frequently to ease the crowding up at check in. This was the longest we ever waited to check in. Once we were on, up to O'Sheehan's we went. People have learned about this gem, it was crowded. By 2p our rooms were ready. We were greeted by our room Steward Carlo Baladiang. He was one of the best Steward we have ever had. Our room was always done when ever we came back, even if it was only for 30min and we went back because we forgot something. I never needed to ask for anything. We like to have coffee and fruit from room service each morning, it was always on time or early. Then to O"Sheehans for breakfast. We ate in Cagney's twice ,Los Lobos twice and La Cucina twice., Bamboo once. We cannot complain about the food, except that they have take some cuts of beef of the menu that were there when we were on in September. Because the Dawn have been home port in Boston we have been lucky to have sailed with her 10 time, We have become friends with several crew members, and have been fortunate to sail multiple times with several. And some we have sailed with on other ships. I wanted to make a special shout out to Erwin Banares Osheehans and Bimini, Desiree Araneta and Cheryl Senarin the Atruim, Arthur Pitago(aka "King Arthur"), Rickson Dias (this young man never stops),Arron Jean, Lawrance Alfoneso, Alexender Pamkar all from O"Sheehans these people all helped make our trip so much fun. We did several excursions some we will do again and some not. Antigua the Catamaran Snorkle and Beach Lunch= Excellent we have done this before and will do again if we get back to Antigua .St Marteen Golden Eagle Snorkle= Good St Lucia Between the Pitons Catermaran-Not the best. The staff was not very attentive and the boat had very few railings, makeing movement when in motion not comfortble, Several disabled people on this boat made me very nervous when they tried to move aroud the boat, the stafff did not assist. Tortola =We went over to the Soggy Dollar on the Escspe to Jost VanDyke. We have done this before and again it was a fun time. Patti and Jose were on again and we listend most nights. These entertainers are so personable and entertainng. They remember you by name, from past cruises. Several years go they learned a song for us that was played at our wedding, and play at least one or twice each cruise we have sailed with them. We are platinum pluis and were off the ship by 9:30. We were booked for a share van home, but Worcester Limo had a Town Car in the area,so we weent home in style. We were home by 10:30. What a way to end a cruise Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was the fifth cruise my sisters and I have taken and our fourth time on the Dawn. This was the last sailing of the Dawn out of Boston before it relocates to New York. There was an air of sadness hanging over the cruise - and not ... Read More
This was the fifth cruise my sisters and I have taken and our fourth time on the Dawn. This was the last sailing of the Dawn out of Boston before it relocates to New York. There was an air of sadness hanging over the cruise - and not just because our bid to upgrade to the Garden Villa was not high enough to secure the suite. There was a sense of sadness because some staff was staying with the Dawn and others would be moving on to other ships. The crew is like family and everyone I spoke with shared how much they enjoyed working with their team and management. It was almost palpable, especially as our two week cruise was drawing to a close and it would also be the end of Jose and Patty performing for all the New Englanders. They definitely had a cult following of repeat customers. There was also a feeling of cutting corners. We started cruising together in 2011 and we have noticed a lot more corner cutting. My four sisters and I are all Platinum Latitudes now and we were looking forward to sharing the Platinum perk box of four Godiva chocolates between the five of us (one box per cabin, which makes no sense when it’s five individuals sharing a cabin) but we found out that stopped two years ago. Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seemed to be less house keeping staff. I hardly saw any staff walking in the hallways. Our room steward, Depender, was always, always working - a lot more than any previous steward we’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Another thing: pictures taken in the specialty restaurants are NOT available or included in the picture packages. The photographer comes back to the restaurant with your pictures and you purchase then and there or lose the pictures. This is a big change and seems like a really petty ploy to charge more money. Normally we would have a lot more pictures to choose from at the end of the trip. This time we had very few because most of the time we declined the photographer in the specialty restaurants. We didn’t want to waste the photographer’s time. if we weren’t 100% sure we would purchase the pictures. We were in Suite 12526 - with a large balcony. All five of us fit by utilizing the murphy bed, sleeper sofa and a roll-away bed that our steward brought in. The last cruise we did (Boston - NOLA repo in 2016) was the same sized suite but no balcony, which I don’t think we will do again. The balcony really made a difference for our small crowd and we used it all the time. The wall of windows made our suite seem so much larger. The Cruise Critic Meet and Greet was a huge success. I mean that literally. Our cruise board was VERY active and the coordinator for the Meet and Greet, PanamaTiger with assistance from his darling wife, was always posting updates for the reception and creating a buzz. Also, my sister, lotsofkids, had a drawing for some very nice LL Bean tote bags that she had originally made for family members who said they would go on the cruise with us but then dropped out. She opened the raffle to Birthdays/Anniversaries/Celebrations happening on the cruise. She also made magnets of the itinerary and gave one to everyone, which was great because we stuck ours to the wall. The Meet and Greet had so many people (over 150!) that the gathering was moved to the Bliss Lounge. It was really nice to meet the staff and to meet all the people from the board who have been chatting up the cruise for months. Dining options - there are always so many choices. Breakfast, if I wasn’t trying to get off the ship quickly for a shore excursion, was at Cagney’s. This suite perk is the number one reason why I like being in a suite. The staff knew my name within two days. Citi, I believe she was the assistant manager, made an effort to speak with every guest every morning. She was such a friendly, warm soul and I hope to be on another cruise with her again some day. I frequented the buffet when I needed a quick lunch and/or had missed the window for Cagney’s. Often times, after shore days, we’d be back on board in that window of time when it’s too late for lunch for a little while till dinner. The selection at the buffet at that time was underwhelming. Hamburgers, hotdogs, pasta and possibly an Indian dish. The menu didn’t vary very much. We each had a combination of six specialty dinners and enjoyed our visits to Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Cabo’s, La Cuccina and Teppanyaki. Dinner at the restaurants was always a major time sink - sometimes two hours! However, for in and out service, Teppanyaki was the way to go. We were shuffled out in under 45 minutes. I’m not a fan of feeling like I’m part of an assembly line, but the seafood was cooked to perfection. If you have a chance to get the singing chef, you’ve lucked out. He was very entertaining. For a quicker, yet still elevated dining experience that didn’t require using the dining package, we relied on Bamboo. It was quicker than the other restaurants and I could make an entire meal out of just appetizers. For shore days we did a combination of NCL excursion (St. Thomas), resorts we booked ourselves (Antigua, St. Lucia, Tortola, San Juan) and winging it to a random beach (St. Maarten, St. Kitts). By far, my favorite was the Sandals resort in St. Lucia except for the stinging jellyfish (at least I suspect it was jellyfish) which made swimming in the ocean painfully impossible. We had a day pass and our room had a soaking tub on the balcony. It would have been extremely romantic if I were there with my husband and not my sisters. My least favorite shore day was the Turtle Experience in Antigua that was booked thru NCL only because there was not enough time. A lot of time was wasted getting forty people off the boat and into the water, and then there was only maybe an hour in the water, with most of it not being free to snorkel and see, but rather to listen to a lecture. Ours was the first tour of the day and then there was another scheduled for the afternoon. It felt very rushed and crowded. I crossed Maho Beach in St. Maarten off my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to visit the beach that is on the flight path for incoming airplanes. However, when we got there it was disappointing to see how small the beach actually was and how crowded, especially as the day wore on. All the pictures I’ve seen show the barrier fence to be quite tall. It was actually maybe four feet at most. We got there early and were able to secure a couple of chairs and umbrella for $30US. We were right up against the road so I was concerned for the safety of our belongings. I should have been more concerned for our shoes - I rescued a few from drifting off with the incoming tide. I snorkeled in the water and found a fair supply of sea glass, but it was concerning how much raw, sharp, broken glass was in the water as well. I’d definitely suggest water shoes for next time. There is a still a lot of recovery needed on all the islands and we could see lots of damage. The people are still hurting and looking forward to the cruise ships bringing tourists and their expendable dollars. I felt it the most in St. Kitts where going into a shopping market and anyone with a stall was clamoring for me to make a purchase, any purchase. It was overwhelming and claustrophobic. Our taxi driver made it very clear not to go walking off alone. It was a wonderful cruise with great staff and fabulous memories with my sisters. We were the Yip Yips on Halloween (I was the red one) and were delighted to win “funniest costume.” I especially enjoyed knitting with a group of crafters every sea day morning and got to know some very interesting women and see their works in progress. It was also fun (and somewhat challenging) to sail thru a hurricane that was heading up the east coast as we were heading south. Then again, I find fun in just about anything - and did you know that walking in 16 to 20 foot seas counts as stairs and will close all three rings on your IWatch in a couple of hours just by walking around the ship? Will I do it again? Absolutely! I want to go a cruise tomorrow! However, I can’t plan the next one until after my husband forgets the pain of my 3 week vacation without him. Maybe he just needs to go on a cruise with me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was the first time this cruise was offered, Boston to the Caribbean and back to Boston. The 6 sea days, 3 down and 3 back were something, including the Nor'easter that had the boat really rolling for about 24 hours. That storm ... Read More
This was the first time this cruise was offered, Boston to the Caribbean and back to Boston. The 6 sea days, 3 down and 3 back were something, including the Nor'easter that had the boat really rolling for about 24 hours. That storm was the first sea day, luckily this cruise was mostly experienced cruisers who just laid low for the day. We enjoyed the trip down just the same. It was followed by 7 days in the Caribbean. We had been to some of the islands before, but this time the weather was hot and oppressive, St. Thomas and especially St. Martin. Still we enjoyed the ship and the warm weather with air-conditioning nearby on the ship. Great to get away from the New England cold in November. The train ride on St. Kitts was a highlight, expensive but beautiful sights, nice breezes, and lots of rum punch. A group of local women sang folk songs along the way too on the train. A great tour, don't miss it. There was a lively Roll Call before the cruise, and a large Meet and Greet. I organized the gift exchange and was thrilled to have over 50 people joining in. There was a slot pull too, and I heard people enjoyed themselves. The Red Sox won the World Series during the cruise and Norwegian televised it both in the cabins and the bars. The ship was celebrating till 4am we heard. This is a great cruise if you have two weeks, very relaxing and just right in length. They are running it twice in 2019, spring and fall. For those who like to know Pedro Serra was the cruise director, he and his staff were great and kept things going all the time. Andreas Sommerfeld was Food and Beverage Director, Alaine Magnier was the Hotel Director, Captain Martin Holmqvist, and Ariel Timbang Executive Chef. The food was great, love the Indian food in the Garden Cafe. It seemed improved over our cruise on the Dawn last year. The ship is clean and everything worked in our cabin. The Dawn leaves Boston and the Gem will replace her next year, the crew even threw us a good by Boston party. The crew is the best ever on the Dawn we will miss them !! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had an awesome time. Service was great. Staff incredibly friendly and efficient. Almost no kids on this trip. Adults used the kids pool area. We had a balcony cabin deck 11. Loved it. We had the best room steward ever. Food was ... Read More
We had an awesome time. Service was great. Staff incredibly friendly and efficient. Almost no kids on this trip. Adults used the kids pool area. We had a balcony cabin deck 11. Loved it. We had the best room steward ever. Food was excellent. Loved the new menus in the main dining rooms. Not a fan of new menus in the specialty restaurants. Entertainment was very good and there was always multiple things going on all over the ship every night. Rough first sea day with 16-20 ft waves. The captain was keeping us updated the entire time. We never felt unsafe. The ship was very clean and well maintained. The best part was the crew. Everyone of them worked so hard but always had a smile and made us feel pampered and special. Will miss the Dawn out of Boston. I hope the Gem is just as good. The itinerary was great. 7 eastern Caribbean islands. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Everything was just perfect from room Steward Adrian to the dining room Venetian Staff. Rodelio and Thelma just perfect. The entertainment was amazing as always. We have no complaints about anything. Weather behaved but a couple of days ... Read More
Everything was just perfect from room Steward Adrian to the dining room Venetian Staff. Rodelio and Thelma just perfect. The entertainment was amazing as always. We have no complaints about anything. Weather behaved but a couple of days was rainy and stormy can't argue with Mother Nature and we stayed in our stateroom Balcony. We always get a balcony prices are very reasonable. We'll miss the Dawn out of Boston but we'll see the Gem next time. Or may even fly to New York because it will be the 4th time on the Dawn. Wev'e sailed on the Island Princess and the Royal princess but we still say Norwegian Cruise line is the best. The entertainment was much different on this cruise. Elements put on a different show coming down on bunji cords so great. The best comedians omg they were so funny Julie Barr had me in stitches and also Sam Fedele was also funny. Great Cruise !! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
A great itinerary with a good mix of sea days and ports. This was our third cruise on the Dawn and we like it more each time. We thought the menu and quality of food has really improved since our last NCL cruise last November. At that time ... Read More
A great itinerary with a good mix of sea days and ports. This was our third cruise on the Dawn and we like it more each time. We thought the menu and quality of food has really improved since our last NCL cruise last November. At that time we did a back to back cruise on the Jewel out of New Orleans. We still enjoyed that, but the menu and entertainment was repetitious. That was not the case on the 14 day cruise. We ate in the MDR every night except two dinners in Le Bistro, and we enjoyed all of the meals. This year we have cruised on 3 different cruise lines, and by far, NCL has the best entertainment. Nothing like a live house band, especially when they are so good. As far as ports, we really love San Juan and that was one reason we went on this cruise. We mostly just go to beaches, and all of the ports had a great beach, so we were happy. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
If anyone is debating between Norwegian Cruise Line and another cruise line. I strongly suggest Norwegian. I have been on the Dawn, and am already planning a second. I have also been on a Royal Caribbean and Blue Cruise Turkey, so I have ... Read More
If anyone is debating between Norwegian Cruise Line and another cruise line. I strongly suggest Norwegian. I have been on the Dawn, and am already planning a second. I have also been on a Royal Caribbean and Blue Cruise Turkey, so I have a bit of experience with cruises. The reason I recommend Norwegian so strongly is because of the personal experience I received and how everyone on the cruise is extremely helpful. Even if they are on their break they will do everything to make your experience more enjoyable. They also encourage you to participate in the many activities on the ship, and include everyone in the parties on deck. Personally, the people who made my experience the best was on the Norwegian Dawn.Their names were Amplifly, Violet, Kitty Kat, Romeo, Caesar and Rondy, although I only knew them for 12 days, I would like to call them all my friends and wish them the best of luck, they deserve it. Even though I only had 12 days with them all, the experience they gave me was so welcoming and personal that I fell in love with the experience. Even the waiters made an advance to get to know you. The staff, food, service, and ship itself was amazing beyond belief. Although the ship is smaller, I don't see it as a down side. I would much rather get a personal experience on the boat, then have a bigger one. There is so much more that I could say about Norwegian Cruise Line but I think you understand that Norwegian is the most amazing cruise line I have been on and am proud to say that I am looking forward to another one in 2016. Once again, I strongly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We have just returned from our first cruise on Norwegian cruise lines (Norwegian Dawn). We have previously cruised on Carnival and Princess. We had heard so much and read so many reviews on Norwegian good ad bad about food and ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise on Norwegian cruise lines (Norwegian Dawn). We have previously cruised on Carnival and Princess. We had heard so much and read so many reviews on Norwegian good ad bad about food and entertainment we were skeptical but were willing to find out. Now that we have I can now report back. 1. Food (B+) We found contrary to some reviews the food was quite good,The Aqua and Venetian dining rooms were very good we did not ever have a bad meal at either venue. The menu feature a couple of changes every night atmosphere was nice and the servers were always on top of things it was especially nice to eat whenever you wanted and did not have to participate in Formal night if you did not wish to. The Garden Cafe was good for breakfast and lunches nice variety of food and very tasty. The Barbeques that they had outside the garden cafe was an extra bonus again very good. Did not try any specialty restaurants .2.Entertainment (B) Patti and Jose drew a big crowd every time they played, the band Great Ideas was out favorite very easy to listen and dance to. Shows at the Stardust theater were very entertaining and comedian Tim Kaminski was very funny getting people involved in his show a lot of laughs!! 3. Cabins (D) Only because we had an inside cabin which we did not mind because we did not spend a lot of time in them,but ours was right underneath La Cucina restaurant. Every night around 1-2am when they cleaned the galley it was like rolling thunder made may calls to the front desk about the noise mostly to no avail. 4)Ship layout (B) Very nice maybe not as glitzy as some we have been on but very nice non the less. Overall it was a very nice cruise and I would have no problem cruising with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
BACKGROUND: My wife and I are both 55+ and now cruise at least twice a year. We’re Platinum on Princess & Carnival, have also cruised Celebrity but this was our first cruise on Norwegian. We were looking for a cruise with good rates ... Read More
BACKGROUND: My wife and I are both 55+ and now cruise at least twice a year. We’re Platinum on Princess & Carnival, have also cruised Celebrity but this was our first cruise on Norwegian. We were looking for a cruise with good rates to some place(s) we haven’t been and this repositioning itinerary was just the ticket (St. Thomas, Aruba, Curacao, Cozumel with "new” ports of Antigua + Barbados). Our AAA travel agent got us an upgrade to mini-suite on deck 11 just below the Grand Café and an extra $100 OBC (kudos to Carol). Since I am a former teacher (5 years was enough) I decided to give letter grades for each component I reviewed. Notes to Norwegian newbies: 1. Be sure to sign in when you do muster drill. We didn’t know we had to sign in and received a note saying we need to do another muster drill. We explained we went to the 1st one but didn’t know we had to sign in so they didn’t hold us for the 2nd drill. It wasn’t a BIG deal but still an unnecessary inconvenience. 2. This ship has no "Do Not Disturb” cards to hang on the cabin door  instead there is a wheel next to the door that rotates to show "Welcome”, "Make Up Cabin”, "Turn Down Cabin” and "Do Not Disturb”. 3. Check the daily paper for drink specials  ours were in the Spinnaker Lounge from 5-7 PM. 4. On Embarkation day, forget the Lido deck and have lunch in the Venetian Dining Room  it’s less congested and you can relax. ARRIVAL + BOSTON: We booked our Jet Blue flight from Central New York State (Syracuse) to arrive on the day of the cruise. The taxi to the pier was $30 including $5 tip. Embarkation itself was pretty painless and we were onboard by 12:30 PM and were told our cabins were ready  WOW that was easy! Embarkation = A THE CABIN: We were on Deck 11 aft cabin 11176  one deck below Lido. The mini "suite was GREAT with just one flight of stairs up to the Garden Café which was opposite the Fitness Center. There is plenty of storage space on the closet shelves and in the closet itself BUT the closet doors open toward the bed so you have to maneuver around to get stuff out. Even though storage was ample, we decided to store the suitcases under the bed which gave us even more room. The bathroom had a TUB  imagine that! The tub/shower had great water pressure and sliding glass doors which were a nice touch and the toilet area had a door also. Even though we were underneath the Garden Café, we were under the end of the room and hardly ever heard carts or chairs moving above us. We asked the room steward for a mattress topper since the bed was a tad firm. Our room steward Chris was very pleasant, helpful and never showed any sign of negativity (we gave him an extra $55 @ cruise end). He also spoke English well so there were no communication issues and we even spoke several times. Cabin = A, attendants = A+ THE FOOD: Norwegian has Freestyle dining so you eat when and where you want. Venetian Dining Room: We had lunch there on embarkation day and several dinners also. The wait time was not long at all, service was very good, the food was of good quality and the choices were many. One side of the menu stays the same but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since I could enjoy the daily special one night and then order from the "usual” side the next. We had TWO evenings of superb Surf & Turf dinners and (contrary to what some people observed) the lobsters were full lobsters (not halves) and we were given two lobsters each at the 2nd Surf & Turf dinner. YOWZA!! A Aqua Dining Room: This is the more "casual dress” dining room where we had several dinners. The menu is pretty much the same as the Venetian and the food & service was of good quality. A Blue Lagoon: This is the casual dining room in the Atrium area. The menu is always the same but it is open 24 hours and serves up some good breakfasts, fish & fries, chicken sandwiches, chef salad and a host of other food items. In addition, you can enjoy the entertainment in the Atrium while you eat. A Teppenyaki: We decided to try this Asian specialty restaurant ($25 p/p) because we had some OBC to use up. It was very interesting to watch the chefs go thru their "show” while they spun eggs around, flipped utensils in the air and other such acrobatics while preparing the food. We definitely didn’t go away hungry. A+ Garden Cafe: There is probably something bad I could write about the lines, the choices, the food temperature, the presentation, the lack of seating etc but I’m on vacation to enjoy myself and not find fault with the small stuff. Once we became accustomed to the layout and the best times to eat, things were fine. There were certain machines that had both skim milk and regular milk while others had regular milk and half & half. Some juice machines had strawberry/kiwi & mango flavored water while others had real orange and cranberry juice. Once you found out where stuff was, it was pretty much a certainty it would always be found there. The pizza on the buffet wasn’t that good but I probably helped my weight by not eating much of it. Salads & finger foods are my mainstay anyway and I never walked away hungry. B Bar service: Mostly frequented the Spinnaker Grill. Bartender was friendly & made good drinks - I tipped him extra. A Room service: Never used it. No grade Other Specialty restaurants or Bimini Grill: Never used them. No grade Soda/drink packages: Never used them. No grade SHORE EXCURSIONS: More info for each is in the Shore Excursion Reviews St .Thomas: We opted for the St John Catamaran Champagne & Snorkeling excursion. B+/A- Antigua: After reading glowing reviews on Cruise Critic, we booked with "Lawrence of Antigua”. A Barbados: The Barbados Beach Break was an inexpensive excursion plus the beach was very nice and we had the use of lounges and an umbrella. A Curacao: We didn’t book an excursion but shopped for souvenirs and see the city. No grade but a good time. Aruba: We booked the Kuckoo Kanukoo beach excursion. A drive to the usual tourist spots ending at a beach. A Cozumel: Our snorkel excursion was cancelled due to low demand so we did the Jose Cuervo Tequila tasting. Woo hoo - - - what an afternoon! I’m surprised I still remember some of the things we learned about tequila. A Tampa: We booked the city tour thru the ship at the end of the cruise. If you want an overview of Tampa, this is a good way to get it. A OTHER SERVICES/MISC: The Internet Cafe is on Deck 9 and has about 12 terminals and several Internet "plans”. You could pay 75 cents per minute, purchase 100 minutes or 250 minutes. On the first day you could get add’l free minutes if you bought a plan. We opted for the 100 minute + 10 minutes free ($60 including activation) plan just to check e-mail a few times during the week. BE AWARE ----- the service is painfully S-L-O-W. On the last day when everyone is working on confirming flights, the system w/b really slow. C We didn’t use the Spa although I used the gym in the early afternoons so I had no issues with finding an open T-mill, elliptical or life cycle. The treadmills, elliptical and pedal machines were in great shape and the weight machines were primo. Gym = A- We didn’t buy any photo packages and ignored most photographers who tried to snap our pix. No grade We didn’t go to the casino. No grade Cruise Director and staff were often seen before shows in the Stardust Theater and around the ship. Nice people without being annoying. A We used Passengers’ Service desk to get printout of our charges and they were courteous and professional. A The boutiques/stores had their usual "sales” which were mostly for old stock and watches. We only bought a couple of small souvenirs. C We didn’t go to any of the clubs at night  not enough time it seems but we did listen to Jose & Patti in the Atrium on several occasions. A We attended most of the Stardust Theater shows "Band On The Run”, "Oh What A Night” (Part 1 + 2), "Oceans Apart”, Michael Johns (comedian/hypnotist), Tim Kiminsky (comedian). Overall a grade of A DEBARKATION: We ate our breakfast in our cabin using food we brought down the day before and then waited inside Stardust Theater for our Tampa tour to get on the buses. Things were a little disjointed when we went on deck and joined in with the regular walk off passengers. We were in the wrong line then there was a problem with the card reading machine but we finally made it to the terminal to pick up our bags, go thru customs and board our busses. WHEW…It wasn’t a nightmare by any stretch but I wish some of the powers that be could streamline things a bit better. All that pushing and shoving …it’s like a Black Friday sale at Walmart or Macy’s. C OVERALL: Fourteen days seemed so-o-o-o long when we started but it ended all too soon (that line could probably be the theme of a country song). It was also great to start off with $300 OBC which we spent on the mandatory tips, shore excursions, drinks specialty dining and internet. The ship may have twenty four hundred people but it’s big enough so that we never felt crowded. Just don’t wait until "rush hour” to eat or go to the shows. I now see how/why some people are Norwegian fanatics  it’s a great brand with a great product. We enjoyed it so much we purchased a $250 Future Cruise Certificate and we’re booked on the Dawn reposition from Tampa back to Boston in April of 2014 and I’m confident it will be just as enjoyable. I would recommend this ship & itinerary and give it an overall grade of a tad more than "A-" so that will round up to A   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
My husband and I a big fans of repositioning cruising. The longer length gives much more time to really unwind and the more numerous sea days are the best. It is especially wonderful returning to your homeport and not having to face a ... Read More
My husband and I a big fans of repositioning cruising. The longer length gives much more time to really unwind and the more numerous sea days are the best. It is especially wonderful returning to your homeport and not having to face a final day of airport stress. This was a rare vacation that was focused on relaxation and doing it "freestyle." We made few plans, booked no shore excursions, and except for a salon appointment, did not worry once about schedules, The NCL Dawn is one of the smaller NCL ships, so it lacks a few of the big ticket amenities like water park, bowling and rock climbing. It is showing its age a bit, but was generally well maintained and clean. The pool and spa are a bit smaller than on other NCL ships we have sailed on. Overall we were satisfield with the many dining options and the casino. We did not go to a single show (highly unusual) but there was a wide variety and reports from other passengers were that they were fun. Our previous experience with NCL entertainment is that it is better than most cruiselines. The weather was wonderful for the entire cruise and the ports of Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten and St. Thomas are among our favorites, although we were not that fond of Ocho Rios, Jamaica. My husband and I cruised in a 2 bedroom suite. The small second bedroom served as my walk-in closet and dressing room. The second bathroom is a blessing when getting ready for a day ashore or evening events. As suite guests, as well as Platinum level Latittudes members of NCL, we were able to enjoy many ammenities. Priority boarding and disembarking, butler and concierge service, special parties and other perks are well worth the upgrades and loyalty. We each celebrated a birthday and our wedding anniversary during the trip, and it was very special. Room, casino and dining staff made sure the celebration was festive. We cannot say enough about the friendly and attentive staff that made our vacation great. A highlight was the Chef's Table dinner. Incredible food and wine and a chance to meet great fellow passengers. The private galley tour with the head chef the following day was an extra special treat. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was our first cuise with NCL and it was the best!! We had the easiest & quickest embarkation ever!! Arrived at Miami port @11:30 and waited 1 hour to board the ship. You receive your room card, account setup and picture at the ... Read More
This was our first cuise with NCL and it was the best!! We had the easiest & quickest embarkation ever!! Arrived at Miami port @11:30 and waited 1 hour to board the ship. You receive your room card, account setup and picture at the terminal so when you board the ship there is no further delays. Room wasn't ready till 2:00, as advised, so we had lunch at the Venetian Dining Room @1:00 and then relaxed at Oasis Pool till room was ready. We had a balcony room on deck 9. Room was good location on ship, not far from the elevators. There were 2 chairs and table on balcony. We ate breakfast there on port days as we would order room service as we were arriving in port...another reason I love cruising!! The Venetian Dining Room was our favorite place to eat. The Aqua was ok but we enjoyed the service and atmosphere at the Venetian. We always had breakfast & supper at the Venetian and booked 2 of the specialty restaurants - Teppenaki & Cagney's which were both ok, but I wouldn't book specialties again as food is great in the dining room. There was never a wait for the dining room. Entertainment on the Dawn was great. We went to the early show every evening in the Stardust Theater. They have impressionist, comedian, illusionist, hypnotist and the entertainment crew who are excellent. The staff are very attentive and always pleasant and there to help. At the gangway on the port return the crew are dancing and offering water & cold cloths which are quite refreshing and welcoming!! They are the best!! Here's a review of port excursions which I booked independently from the ship: - Samana, DR - Razor Tours - ATV Tour - 5 hour tour around Samana. There was a lot of rain the day before so we couldn't get to the falls and beach but we were taken around the town and to another beach, which was ok. - Tortola, BVI - taxi tour from pier. I recommend to book a tour as the taxi from the dock wasn't that great. You have to wait for the taxi to fill before they will leave. After 20 minutes of waiting and twice checking with the driver, he unwillingly took us on the tour. - Philipsburg, St.Maarten - Bernard's Tour - Excellent tour of St.Maarten including iguana farm, Marigot Sarafina's Pastry store is a must do!!),Orient Beach,& Maho Beach to watch the planes land. My favorite port!! - St.John's, Antigua - Segway Antigua tour - 2 hour tour on segway which was fun and then as long as you want on Miller's by the Sea beach which is very calm & quiet...relaxing!! - Roseau, Dominica - Nature Isle Explorers - wonderful day of exploring at Champagne Beach for snorkelling, Titou Gorge was very refeshing and to see Trafalgar Falls and relax in Screws Spa. Another excellent day!! - Bridgetown, Barbados - Scenic Barbados Tour - drive around Barbados, visited Gun Hill, old church, Bathsheba & then relaxed at Coconut Court Beach. Ok tour nothing extra. - Basseterre, St.Kitts - amazing tour with Royston Tours in his "go anywhere" van!! We saw wonderful St.Kitts in a unique way. We drove thru town and saw Independence Square, visited Romney Manor & Caribelle Batik (cool place,lunch at Brimstone Hill Fortress, Black Rock, Timothy Hill (amazing view) & saw South Friar's Beach. Awesome Tour!! De-embarkation was as well. We did walk off with our luggage as our flight left Miami @11:30. We could leave the ship @8:00, went thru customs quickly as there was nobody waiting there and outside to get shared shuttle to airport ($20 pp). Smooth sailing all the way!! We love Freestyle cruising and would certainly cruise with NCL again. Our best cruise yet!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We started cruising on Norwegian over 15 years ago and they are our favorite cruise line. We love the Freestyle cruising and the Dawn did not disappoint us. The ship was very nice in every respect and the crew was terrific. The ... Read More
We started cruising on Norwegian over 15 years ago and they are our favorite cruise line. We love the Freestyle cruising and the Dawn did not disappoint us. The ship was very nice in every respect and the crew was terrific. The entertainment was excellent, as well. We only ate in the main dining room and the food was good, sometimes great. If we didn't care for the menu, we used the Grden Cafe and the food was always good. We really like this size ship as it is large enough to have all the ammenities, but no so big as to make you feel lost. We thought the aft facing balcony was just great although I wouldn't recommend it if you have motion sickness. We had the opportunity to have dinner with the Captain and his wife. What a treat. He then invited us for a tour of the Bridge. It was awesome. We would recommend the Dawn if you like a nice relaxed cruise. If you are looking for a more formal cruise experience, I would recommend Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We have the best vacation ever on the March 18th 10 day sailing on the Dawn. Embarkation was a breeze even though there was a huge line up of people, we expecting a long wait, it was pretty smooth. We got to the port at about 12:30 and ... Read More
We have the best vacation ever on the March 18th 10 day sailing on the Dawn. Embarkation was a breeze even though there was a huge line up of people, we expecting a long wait, it was pretty smooth. We got to the port at about 12:30 and I think we were on the pool deck by 1:30 at the latest. I went straight to the Garden Cafe for my first meal on the ship. Our room was incredible. We decided to get an oceanview for this trip and it was worth every penny! I loved the size of our room and I was surprise at how spacious it turned out to be. I loved having the window to look out and see the ocean and have natural sunlight peek into the room in the morning. It was a nice wake up call. Food: We ate in the main dining rooms, both the Aqua and the Venetian. I personally think that the Aqua had better service even though the Venetian is supposed to be the fancier of the two. Again, not that service was slow but I find the Aqua was better. Food was great every night and there was always a special daily menu and I ended up always ordering from it each night. From lobster tail to ribs to crème brulee, the nightly specials were awesome. Of course there was also the regular nightly items that my husband ordered from a few nights, always satisfied his palate. We ate at Teppanyaki with another couple, some people rave about it, my hubby and I would never go back. Food was ok, but I would have preferred being in the regular dining room that night. My in laws went to Moderno one night absolutely loved it. Garden cafe always great, they had indian food almost daily and being a huge fan of the cuisine, I ate a lot of it and it was great! Definitely something for everyone to eat. Breakfast was good and loved the omelets that were made for you on the spot. Staff: The staff on the Dawn was superb!!!!!! The cruise director Paul Scally and the staff, WOW!!! We are the type that participate in every possible event throughout the ship so we got to know everyone working there and everyone knew us. Our room steward, Ariel, was incredible. We celebrated our 3rd year wedding anniversary and the day of, I guess he noticed our cards and he made 2 doves out of towels and a heart shaped out of chocolates on the bed. Incredibly sweet he was! Entertainment: Jose and Patti we met last year on the Dawn and they were back good as ever. They played mostly in the atrium and we would pass by and listen to them. My favorite comedian, Dave Heenan, amazing as always. I bought his dvd on this trip. The hypnotist and magician was awesome. The second city group were impressive as well! Samana: We did a private zip lining excursion with Tours with Terry, cannot say enough good words about this tour. NCL offered a free excursion to Cayo Levantado which is a beach, my inlaws enjoyed it there. Tortola: Did a private dolphin swim excursion, I don't know about other people but this was my first dolphin experience and probably my last. We walked back to the ship as we noticed that the cab ride there was super short. We stopped of at a few bars along the way back for a few drinks. Antigua: We did a NCL excursion on a pirate ship. It was a lot of fun. We went snorkeling with them and on the way back all you can drink rum punch, beer and non-alcoholic beverages were served. St Marten: Most of my family members went to Maho beach for the planes, they had an awesome time. I went shopping and went to a beach right by the port. Great island!! One of my favorites. Barbados: We booked a beach break through NCL and thoroughly enjoyed it! St Kitts: Ladies Ladies, this is the land of purse replicas!! Louis Vuittons and Coach purses everywhere!!!! I only had about an hour to shop because we had booked a 3 ½ hour long snorkel excursion. Loved St Kitts Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Background Info: My wife and I were on the February 15 Southern Caribbean 11 Day sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. It was our 13th cruise overall and 3rd with NCL. This is our 2nd cruise on the Dawn and we have also been on the Pearl. Other ... Read More
Background Info: My wife and I were on the February 15 Southern Caribbean 11 Day sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. It was our 13th cruise overall and 3rd with NCL. This is our 2nd cruise on the Dawn and we have also been on the Pearl. Other cruises include 9 Carnival & 1 Royal Caribbean. Pre-Cruise: We flew into Miami a day early arriving around 4:00 p.m. Living in Michigan; we always fly in the day before we cruise (even though this is the year without a winter in Michigan and most of North America). The cab ride to the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay cost $30 including tip and took about 25 minutes. The Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay is a nice hotel in a bad location. When I say "bad" -- I mean there are very few options to pick up last minute needs (i.e. soda, sunscreen, etc...) or have dinner. There is not a Walgreens, Rite Aid or grocery store within 1.5 miles of the hotel. Right next door is a Double Tree hotel that has an underground mall with a few shops and restaurants but no place to buy cases of pop (we don't call it soda in Michigan). We ate dinner at a little deli and picked up a couple of bottles of liquor. The good news is a Publix grocery store will be opening soon that is an easy 10 minute walk from this hotel so this problem will be remedied in the near future. The room was spacious and modern with an excellent view of Biscayne Bay. Wi-Fi is NOT free in the room but can be purchased for $14.95 per day. I'm thinking it was free in the lobby as an inordinate number of people with their laptops and tablets could be found there. Not positive about that though. The workout facility was very good and free to use. There were plenty of treadmills and elliptical machines as well as weights. The price of the hotel worked for me ($150 on a discount website including all taxes). The next morning we caught a cab to the port. It was only about a 10 minute ride and cost $15 including tip. Embarkation: Extremely smooth! We arrived at the port around 10:45, checked in by 11:00, onboard by 11:50. Easy Cheesy! We boarded the ship and immediately spotted a couple from our Cruise Critic Roll call and struck up a conversation. After 10 minutes we all headed off to the Venetian for lunch. In all or our previous cruises this was the 1st time we did not go to the buffet for embarkation lunch. What a difference! No fighting for a seat, no dodging people pulling 4 suitcases and no screaming kids. This will be standard operating procedure on embarkation day for all future cruises. The muster drill was quick and easy (no life preserver required). I was a little surprised how many of the passengers were talking and not paying attention to the crew especially in light of recent events. Then it was off to the Unofficial, Unsanctioned, and Unauthorized Cruise Critic Meet N' Greet at Topsiders Bar. What a blast! We had a great turnout and immediately established new friendships (and renewed old ones) with the most wonderfully diverse group of delightful, interesting, and comical folks we have ever had the pleasure of cruising with. I knew right then we were in for a great cruise. We returned to our cabin to find a note indicating I had been summoned to the infamous "Naughty Room". The luggage in question was a cooler bag filled with a case of Diet Coke and Coke Zero (which is allowed by NCL so I was not breaking any rules.) I had to stand in line for 45 minutes to retrieve a perfectly legal cooler bag. They could have easily opened the bag and determined it was nothing but pop and saved us both the time. Not only that but I had to haul it up to the 9th deck from the 4th deck by myself. No offer of assistance at all. I was not happy. So I decided to stop at the Guest Services desk and asked to speak to the Hotel Director. The clerk asked what the problem was and I relayed the above to her. She asked what could be done to resolve the situation. I told that I felt dinner was in order. She told me it could be anywhere but Teppanyaki. No problem - I'll take Le Bistro. I was satisfied with NCL's response. Ship: The ship's decor can be described as subdued and relaxing. The atrium had an outdoor/natural feel to it with faux trees, wicker chairs and a waterfall. In the middle was Java Bar in which you could get coffee drinks as well as the hard stuff. Behind the Java Bar, was a riser that served as a stage for some of the musical acts. The Dawn has been refurbished since our last cruise on her in January 2011. The Spinnaker lounge has been moved and no longer has large window to look out but it is still a good place to watch a show and have a drink. It is nicely decorated in tans and browns. Also, the shops have been moved and as well as the photo gallery. No problems with the changes. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 9 forward port side (#9566). The bed was comfortable and had many pillows. The bathroom was functional. The shower was big enough and had a door instead of a curtain which kept the floor dry. The toilet was sectioned off in an area that could be made more private by closing the sliding frosted door. It was snug with the door closed but not impossible. One opportunity for improvement was the sofa sleeper. It looked a little worn out and should be replaced. The TV was a nice flat screen (last year it was an old school picture tube TV). We did not have a lounger on our balcony. It was 2 chairs and a table. Other balconies had 1 lounger and a chair (along with a table.) I imagine you can have a lounger if you ask the room steward. It was not a problem for us. The air conditioning worked great. Closet/drawer space was not an issue as there were only two of us and we pack lightly. As I mentioned earlier, we brought a cooler bag loaded with a case of Diet Coke and Coke Zero each. Every evening I left the room steward (Bago) a note requesting he fill it with ice every day (along with a couple of bucks for his extra effort). He exceeded our expectations throughout the cruise. Dining We dined at the following Specialty Restaurants: Le Bistro -- Both DW and I had the filet mignon. The steaks were cooked perfectly. For appetizers, I had the 4 Mushroom soup and grilled asparagus. Both were delicious especially the mushroom soup. I could have eaten an entire bucket of it. DW had French onion soup and the spring salad with duck for her appetizers and enjoyed both. Dessert was crème brulee and it was sinful. Also, the coffee is served in a French press and is fantastic. There is a $20 cover charge. Le Bistro continues to be our favorite. La Cucina -- We dined with new friends we met from our roll call and had a great time. This is the Italian cuisine restaurant and has carries a $10 cover charge. We each had the chicken parmesan along with Caesar salads and they were very good. For desert, DW had a Panna Cotta sampler (amaretto, chocolate and lemon) and I had a scoop of ice cream. DW liked the amaretto and chocolate but did not care for the lemon. We both thought it was worth the cover charge. Cagney's Steakhouse -- We celebrated my 39th birthday here. Well maybe it was 8th time I celebrated my 39th birthday.....but who's counting? For appetizers I had the shrimp cocktail and lobster bisque. There are only 3 shrimp in the shrimp cocktail so feel free to order a double. DW also had the lobster bisque and a Caesar salad for her apps. We both loved the lobster bisque. For dinner, I had the filet mignon and DW had the roasted half chicken. Neither disappointed. For dessert, I had the cheesecake with strawberry compote and she had the espresso brownie with ice cream. I liked my desert but DW thought the brownie was dry and left most of it. The cover charge is $25 and is definitely worth the money. Dining Rooms - We only had dinner in the Aqua dining room but visited the Venetian for breakfast and lunch. Based on our experience on the Dawn last year we enjoyed the ambiance of the Aqua much more as it seem more like a dining room. The Venetian felt like a loud banquet hall to us. The food quality was for the most part good. As has been the case for awhile now, the right side of the menu stays the same all week while the left side changes daily. We really like the broccoli bisque on the everyday menu. My favorite meal was the Strip Steak and New Orleans Shrimp. I was pleased with the service. Last year, this was a source of frustration as at times as the pace of service was slow. Not the case this year. We never spent more than 50 minutes at dinner from start to finish. Bravo! Garden Cafe -- This is an efficient buffet with good variety. There were different stations that allowed the lines to move freely. I never waited more than 5 minutes for my morning mushroom and cheese omelet or eggs over medium for DW. The variety of options for breakfast and lunch was impressive. A hit for us was the macaroni and cheese. It had a little kick to it. DW liked the chicken Caesar wraps. The fruit was awesome as usual. The pizza was thin crust and not too bad. Usually buffet food is bland but this food was hardly bland in my opinion. Finding a seat could be a chore at peak times but that's no different than any other ship I've been on. Blue Lagoon -- You can go there 24/7 and get a sit down meal (carry-outs were not a problem either -- just walk up to the counter.) I really liked the wings and burgers. A few members of our roll call enjoyed breakfast there several times and raved about it. We did not have breakfast there this cruise but have in the past and could not agree more. No lines, no looking for a seat. Just sit down and enjoy. Room Service -- A nice varied menu and the food was pretty good. We only ordered once and it took about 25 minutes. Note: there is a $3.95 service charge for orders after Midnight. Entertainment Cruise Director: Paul Scally was our CD and was an absolute dud. Now, a CD isn't a really big factor in our cruise experience but he was nearly invisible. I guess after being fortunate enough to have sailed with Matt Baker last year all CDs will forever be a distant 2nd. Dave Heenan -- Very funny man that did not have to resort gutter humor or dropping f-bombs to be funny. Did not see him as much this year but did enjoy the times we saw him. He also sings and has a pretty good voice. It's not ground breaking humor but he was entertaining. Jeri Saeger-- What a voice! Her show was mostly Broadway show tunes as she has starred in many productions and was well attended (even the 9:30 show). A great show that I would recommend. Jose' and Patti -- This husband and wife duo performed primarily in the Grand Atrium but also in the Spinnaker Lounge. You name the genre and they played it. They played music from the 30's all the way to contemporary hits. Their shows generally had had themes. One night it was country music in the "Grand Ole Atrium", another night it was "Music through the Decades" yet another it was "Flashback to the 60's". Our favorite continues to be the Neil Diamond Show which was performed with the entire show band in the Spinnaker Lounge. Plan to get there at least 45 minutes before the show to get a good seat. It is a little late (10:30 pm) but worth it. Jose' sounds just like the Neil including the New York accent. They opened the show "America" which got the entire crowded pumped up and it took off from there. They are extremely fan friendly - even encouraging folks to stop up and say hello during their short breaks. Jose' also does a spot on Johnny Cash. I loved their version of "Folsom Prison Blues". Still the best musical act we have ever seen/heard on a cruise ship. Production Shows -- There were two production shows in the Stardust. We did not see either. They were "Band on the Run" and "Bollywood". We saw BOTR last year and enjoyed it but decided to do something else this year. Some friends saw "Bollywood" and liked it. Their words were "do not judge it by the first 10 minutes as it starts a little slow". Second City Comedy -- We went to the improv show and thought it was funny. They do a nice job getting the audience involved in the show. We would have liked to have attended more of their shows but the timing just never worked with our plans. Miscellaneous Entertainment: Radim Zenki -- Mandolin and Flute music. He is talented for sure but it was just not our style. Jump Band -- A typical cruise party band. They played music that everyone knew and were enjoyable but not memorable. Benjy -- He played piano and sang easy listening type music in Gatsby's Lounge (at least that is where we saw him perform.) A nice way to enjoy a late night cocktail with the one you love. New Season -- This was the pool band and they filled the bill nicely. They played a blend of familiar pop songs and added in the mandatory Caribbean touch. The best part was they played at a sound level that still allowed you to have a conversation with the person next to you without shouting. The shows were at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm with the 1st show definitely being the more attended of the two. The 9:00 pm shows were barely half full and good seats could be had right up to show time. Overall, the entertainment on this cruise exceeded our expectation. I was a little hard on Paul Scally earlier in my review but I realize that arranging the onboard entertainment is a big part of the CD's job so I have to give credit to him for putting it all together. Fitness Center The equipment was varied and in good shape. I'm a runner and enjoy the treadmills with the TV that you could just plug your headphones into watch movie, news, etc.... There is no charge to use the fitness center. However, if you want to use the sauna/steam room/showers you must purchase the spa pass. One thing I did not care for was that the T-Rex Kiddie Pool and Play area was located just in front of the fitness center with a connecting door. Consequently, parents and "little darlings" were wandering in and out. Sometimes the kids would jump on the equipment or leave a trail of water and ear piercing shrieks despite the fact there was a sign clearly stating "No One Under16 Allowed". NCL needs to address issue and enforce their policies. Ports of Call Samana, Dominican Republic -- NCL is offering free trips to Cayo Levantado so we took advantage. The beach is nice, the water is clear and the drinks are good. The food, well, not so much. Save your appetite for the ship and drink your lunch on the island. We enjoyed pina coladas served in a dug out pineapple for $5 each. They were tasty but not very strong. I mentioned it to the barkeep before my 2nd and he made sure to pour it accordingly. It is a nice beach, especially now that it is free (NCL used to charge $49 pp for the excursion) For those booking a private excursion in Samana you should be aware that the order of tenders is as follows: 1. Those on NCL Excursions in Samana 2. Those going to Cayo Levantado 3. Those going to Samana for private excursions NCL was upfront saying that the tenders to Samana would not begin until most of the folks going to Cayo Levantado had been tendered. They stated this would be approximately 1 hour after the tenders commenced. Not sure if this was reality but I did not hear of anyone missing their private excursion in Samana. Tortola, BVI -- We went to Jost Van Dyke on an excursion we booked through NCL for $89 pp. It was supposed to be a high power speed boat that would get us there in 25 minutes but we received a letter from NCL stating that due to "local logistical reasons" we would be transported via catamaran instead. Consequently, the trip took about an hour. This cut our time on JVD by about an hour. Bummer. The catamaran ride was nice, but not nearly as nice as another hour on JVD would have been. We anchored about 30 yards from shore, hopped off the boat and swam in. It was only about 15 yards of swimming as I was able to stand up at that point and walk in (I'm 5' 10"). The deck hand packed up our personal items and brought them to shore in a dry container. Once ashore, we grabbed a couple of chairs in front of the world famous Soggy Dollar Bar and imbibed several of their signature drink - The Painkiller (A Sunny Drink for Shady People). Several members of our roll call were there which only added to the fun! It was day that I will always remember. Pictures do not do this place justice. You have to see it for yourself. We are fortunate to have visited many beaches in our travels but this is #1 for sure. On the ride back to Tortola, the crew served rum punch. But then they broke out the hard stuff. They stuck a bottle of tequila in one end of a floatie noodle then handed you the other end and poured the tequila in. Kind of like a "beer bong" for those of you familiar with those. I tried one.........or maybe two. I forget. After the tequila ran out -- they switched to whiskey. Dancing and revelry ensued. St. Maarten -- After much research we decided to visit the Karakter Beach Lounge and Restaurant on Simpson Bay Beach (pronounced care-actor). We were not disappointed. Not only was the beach nice but the food, drinks and service were outstanding. It is the only beach bar where food was served on china at my beach chair. They also had these bags that they would fill with ice to keep your wine bottle cold while you lounged on the beach. It is located right next to the runway of the airport. The planes do not take off and land over your head but rather to your side. The views were still magnificent. They were more than happy to call us a taxi for the return trip to the port. The only issue we had was getting there. Our taxi/van driver drove around aimlessly for 15 minutes until we saw a sign and pointed him in the right direction. What was most frustrating was he would not look at the map I had printed off of Karakter's website with directions. So make sure your driver knows where he is going BEFORE you get in the taxi. Antigua - We spent a glorious day at Valley Church Beach enjoying sand, sun, food and drinks with another couple from our Roll Call. The Bar/Restaurant was called The Nest. I also got an hour massage for $40. We had food from the beach grill. Nothing fancy...just burgers and chicken. Drinks were in the $5-$6 range. Beers were 6 for $20. I did not try it but was told the rum punch was tasty (and strong). The interesting part of the trip was we took the bus to and from the beach. Having done this last year, we were confident it would be easy. The cost is $1.50 pp each way. We saved money and got there fast. We were the 1st cruisers on the beach that morning....even beat the taxis there. I'd be happy to share the details on how to take the bus. Just send me an e-mail to the address at the end of this review. Dominica -- We did an excursion touring the Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls with Beno Nature tours. He did a nice job showing us the sights and giving us a flavor for life on Dominica. It would definitely recommend this tour. Cost was $50 pp plus two $5 site passes for a total of $60 pp. We were lucky enough to be in Dominica on Fat Tuesday which coincided with the final day of their Carnivale Celebration. There was a parade through the streets of Rouseau with people dressed in colorful costumes, loud music and drinking. The locals really seemed to enjoy all of the requests for pictures. The partying went on all day and was still going on when we pulled out of port at 6:00PM. In fact, we could still hear the music almost a mile at sea. Barbados - We were in port from 7:00 am - 5:00 pm so we decided to make a trip to Crane Beach. I pre-arranged transportation through Johnson Tours. Round trip cost was $76. Our driver picked us up at 8:00 and dropped us off at the public entrance by 8:50. We navigated the stairs/rocks fairly easily but we are both in good shape. Those with shorter legs will have a more difficult time as there are times where one has to really stretch. The key is to TAKE YOUR TIME and you will be fine. Once on the beach, we rented 2 chairs and an umbrella for $20. The water was warm and the sun was hot. It was very windy the day we were there and sand was everywhere. One big negative was there were no public restrooms. For lunch, I walked up the road to Cutters Deli (10 minute walk at the most) and bought a couple of roast beef sandwiches and cokes for lunch (and use the bathroom). Our driver picked us up at 3:00 sharp as requested and we were on board by 4:00. Overall, we enjoyed our trip to Crane Beach but would probably try another beach next time as there are so many great beaches on Barbados. St. Kitts -- We went on "The Tour" with Grey's Island Excursions. The tour covered Romney Manor (which included the Batik factory and gardens) as well as the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (a British built fortress in the 1700's). Cost was $39 per person and worth every penny. The tour was conducted by the owner Thenford Grey and was probably the best island tour I have ever taken. He is extremely experienced and knowledgeable. No wonder he is so highly recommended on the St. Kitts message board here on cruise critic. Debarkation A breeze! We did self walk off. We were off the ship and though Customs by 7:45 a.m. Used SAS Transportation for the ride back to Fort Lauderdale. It was the same price as last year - $15 per person. Cruise Critic Roll Call This is our 3rd NCL cruise and the Roll Calls just keep getting better all the time! We made so many new friends on this trip through the roll call. From the meet and greets (both official and unofficial) to dinners to the Martini tastings this group enhanced our cruise experience immensely. Thanks to all of you! Random Thoughts Something new this cruise. When we arrived in our cabin on embarkation day there was a stack of "coupons" for each of the various onboard credits we had received (probably 5 in total). You now have to sign the back of each coupon and take them to Guest Services for the OBC to be activated. Not a big deal but something to be aware of. Keep an eye out for whale sightings when you are leaving Samana. DW was on our balcony and saw two of them. New favorite drink of the trip. Dirty Banana. A member of our roll call introduced the drink and it spread like wildfire. Pretty soon we were all drinking them. Rumor has it you could not get a banana anywhere on the ship on debarkation morning. The pool was closed for three hours on the 2nd to last sea day because of, yep, you guessed it. There was a dookie in the pool. That is how long it takes to empty, sanitize and refill the main pool. To make it even better, it was during the hottest part of the day. (Not to say there would be a better part of the day for it to happen). It was a real drag for us as our pattern is to sun for 15-20 minutes then jump in the pool for a minute to cool down. We repeat this all day. Needless to say this derailed that plan for us as well as just about everyone else. Not holding NCL responsible at all. Just the selfish individual that put themselves ahead of everyone else on the ship. The all-u-can stuff in the bag laundry special for $24.95 was offered twice on our cruise. We used it once and thought it was worth the money. You'd be surprised how much you can cram in there. They said it would take 2 day but ours came back after 1 day. Try the Martini Tastings at least once. They are held at 4:00 pm on all sea days in Gatsby's Bar. You get 5 different martinis for $15. You can have your own or share. We shared. The tasting lasts an hour. At least the "official" tasting lasts an hour. Our Roll Call group was there for a couple more hours carrying on. We went to the tasting on the last sea day and they handed out the recipes to all of the martinis made at all of the tastings that cruise. Best bargain on the ship. The chair saving on the pool decks was unusually bad. One guy next to us saved two lounge chairs for 3 hours as several people were looking for seats. When I called him out on it -- he called me rude. Go figure. Weather was fabulous! We had a couple of 10-15 minute rain showers the morning we were in Antigua and 15 minutes in Dominica (we were in the rain forest after all). Other than that it was dry during the day. Did not feel "nickel and dimed" at all. I decided what extras I was willing to pay for. NCL takes the Cruise Critic Meet and Greets very seriously. It was attended by the Captain and all the department heads. Each one introduced themselves and described their area of responsibility. At the end of their description each and every one of them gave their direct phone # with instructions to call them if we had any issues at all. There was also a short Q & A session. Light refreshments were provided. The crew of the Dawn is the friendliest I have ever sailed with. From the officers to the bartenders to the room stewards, they all go out of their way to be friendly. Rarely did we pass an NCL employee that did not make eye contact and say "hello". Did not feel like drinks were being pushed on me. It's easy to say "No thank you". It was an extremely diverse crowd as there were more French Canadians and Europeans than any of my previous cruises. The only difference I noticed was that some of the announcements were made in multiple languages. I would guess that 60% of the passengers were from the USA. Summary I say this all the time but it's really true. This was our favorite cruise so far. The itinerary was interesting, the crew was fantastic and the entertainment was excellent. When you combine all that with making new friends then you have the recipe for a great time. And that's exactly what this cruise was "A Great Time". I think DW summed it up best when she said that this cruise was like "Summer Camp for Adults". If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them here or via e-mail at Patrick.Seely@wowway.com Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
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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