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3,088 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

Just returned from the Thanksgiving cruise on the Spirit and we had a truly wonderful time. The ship is really beautiful and interesting, and as many people have said is like a smaller version of the Dawn. I see that there are quite a lot ... Read More
Just returned from the Thanksgiving cruise on the Spirit and we had a truly wonderful time. The ship is really beautiful and interesting, and as many people have said is like a smaller version of the Dawn. I see that there are quite a lot of negative reviews cropping up, I was expecting that, as there were many unhappy people on the cruise, complaining about various things, and whilst I agree there is room for improvement in some areas, our cruise certainly not spoiled in any way. I have only cruised twice and of course am no expert, but I have traveled a lot and taken many vacations overseas, and have yet to find a vacation that is completely problem free - I think how you handle it depends on your vacation enjoyment. We arrived at the pier around 11am. We were in our cabin by noon. We are both non-US citizens and Latitudes members and there was some initial confusion as to where exactly we should go; up the stairs, sent back down, sent back up, sent back down. Blimey, I'd had a work-out before I even got my keycard!! We were also very lucky and managed to get an upgrade; we had booked a G cat. porthole cabin and were upgraded to a D cat. window cabin which was great, however that lead to confusion later - more on that to follow. But apart from that everything was hassle free and after a celebratory glass of wine in our cabin and unpacking the items in our hand luggage we headed to Windows for lunch overlooking the Hudson River. After that we explored the ship some more, viewed some menus in reception, enquired about formal night(s) and after learning that there was no discounted price for any of the specialty restaurants decided not to rush into booking them straight away until we had a plan of action. It was very cold for sail-away; we persevered until the Statue of Liberty before finally giving up and going to Galaxy of the Stars for the passing under the Verrazano Bridge. By now it was after 6pm so we headed back to our room to see if our luggage had arrived. It hadn't. Was this because of the wine we packed we wondered.......? But no, it was because of the cabin upgrade, our luggage didn't follow us. So we went to the original cabin, and sure enough, the luggage was there outside the cabin all alone so we decided to just take it ourselves to our new cabin. What I didn't realize however at this point, was that my husband had pre-ordered some flowers through NCL and of course they didn't make it to the new cabin either. Without me knowing, he had gone to reception and enquired about this, and shortly after that the flowers were delivered to our cabin, and the message card a day or two later. The first night we ate at the Garden Room and had Prime Rib. I'm no expert on Prime Rib but to me, and my hubbie, it tasted great. After a couple of drinks at Champagne Charlies, which turned out to be one of our favorite places, we had an early(ish) night after an action packed day!! The food and restaurants in general we found to be pretty good. We actually preferred the decor of the restaurants on the Spirit to those on the Dawn. Granted, it wasn't always what you would call 'gourmet', but I never had a reason to complain about any of the food or the service. I haven't cruised with any other lines so I obviously can't compare, but we enjoyed pretty much every meal we had, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.... ....Apart from Raffles buffet that is, but I didn't expect great things here, we only went there for breakfast twice and it if you go at prime time it is utter chaos. But it was on the Dawn too. The food tasted good, the made-to-order omelettes were great, and once you'd fought your way through the crowds, avoided the children running round your feet, dodged the spills on the floor, finally found a coffee cup to put your coffee in, and ahhhhhhhhhhh you sit down to find that the food has gone cold. If you are able to go to Windows instead for your breakfast I highly recommend doing so. We tried two specialty restaurants; Teppanyaki and Le Bistro. Both were excellent and well worth the extra money, not just for the high quality of food but more for the dining experience. We had a wonderful four course dinner at Le Bistro which lasted two hours. I'm sure you could speed it up if you wished, but we chose it that way and even though we thought we would explode with all the food, we just HAD to order the chocolate fondue... La Trattoria was a bit of a disappointment, not for the quality of food but more for the small selection; I'm sure I've seen menus posted for 'made-to-order pizza' and other meat/fish dishes, but there are only five pasta dishes as entrees on the entire menu. No chicken parm either. It also isn't a separate restaurant, just a sectioned-off part of Raffles buffet, but with candles and Italian table decorations. The lights aren't dimmed though and it was just lacking something, even though they made an effort to give extra special service and a wine sommelier was available, I just feel they could have made it better decoration/ambience wise - although we noted that it was the same on the Dawn. Having said that, the pasta I had was extremely good, as were the breads and olives they put on the table to begin with. We both really enjoyed Windows and Garden Room for dinner; we were trying to cut a few costs here and there with this being an un-planned 'splurge' of a vacation and we were able to do this, with a nice mix of main restaurants and specialty restaurants, it worked out well for us. We spent about $500 less on our onboard account by doing this, cutting down on the expensive excursions and taking some wine on board for consumption in our cabin. But we still had an action packed time and didn't feel at all like we were missing out on anything. As for entertainment; we saw quite a few shows too, and enjoyed most of them. My least favorite was the last night; the farewell variety night, it just didn't seem to work and I expected more of a finale. I did however really enjoy the other magic shows, and the opera singer was very good. We spent a few late nights at Galaxy too; we saw the Liars club, the adults only comedy show, the 'ship n males', all of which were pretty funny. The only planned excursion through NCL we did was in Bermuda; the EZ Rider (or Lazy rider as I called it) bike and hike tour. It was fantastic!! Our favorite day in fact. The bikes are power assisted so even though you're pedaling, they assist you, so you can go up hills really easily. And I'm not particularly fit. They take you on a well planned tour for just over two hours through the hills of the west side of Bermuda and it is just stunning, the views are amazing. It feels really safe too, with the tour leader (an older chap) leading the way at the front, and his son at the back, you are well protected, and they are very patient. I think there was about 25 in our tour, ranging from teenagers to people in perhaps their 50's - all the locals wave at you and truck drivers honk their horns and we were all 'ringing our bells' back at them - it was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it. In St. Maarten we took a cab to Orient beach; it was just gorgeous - we were there by 9am and drinking Bloody Mary's by 9.01 and it was just so nice and peaceful so early, we loved it and spent a lot of time bobbing about in the beautiful clear water. Be warned though, areas of this beach are nudists and they do wander from their area into the main part of the beach, ooh err........We left the beach a little early in time to try a jet ski in the main harbor - I have to say that riding around our ship on a jet-ski is a unique experience - we loved it! St. Thomas - We expected to dock at the main fixed Havensight pier but instead docked at Crown Bay, 3.5 miles away. But we didn't realize this, and set off walking from the ship to the shopping area, which turned out to be quite a walk and we ended up getting a little sunburned. Once there though, the shopping area is very pretty. The shops and little cafes are really cute and after lunch we went on the Sky-Ride to Paradise Point. At $16 each it was well worth it, the views are amazing and whilst sitting at the top having a beer we could see the Spirit all the way in the distance, and I was quietly thinking to myself, what if we saw it set off without us........Luckily it didn't, we were back in plenty of time, but took a cab back, as my blisters hurt from the walk there!! The Tivoli pool area - it did get VERY crowded. On the Thursday, Thanksgiving, as this was an 'at sea' day we thought we'd try the pool area for half a day or so and got up at 7.30 to get a good spot. Almost EVERY sun bed was covered with a towel/cap/book/you name it, but NO people. That annoyed me a little. As it turned out the weather wasn't so good later that day so we eventually gave up and did indoor activities and tried the hot tub later on the afternoon. I agree with the folks that have said there isn't enough room round the pool, all the room is at the back, overlooking the kids area, my photos will show you. The gym - I liked this gym, because the elliptical machines and treadmills overlooked the ocean, and what could be nicer? It does get crowded at peak times though, one morning at 8am I couldn't get on any of the above machines and had to try something else, but apart from that I liked it a lot. The Aqua Swim is a little strange - the concept of swimming against the current in a teeny pool is fine on land, but when you put that with the movement of the ship you're all over the place and can't really get a good workout. The Dawn Spa area was better for us, with the indoor lap pool and hot tub. Our cabin was fine; about the size we expected, the shower is better than ours at home and whilst there was definitely a lot of creaks and other ship noises throughout the night, that I can accept, but the herd of elephants in the cabin directly above us was slightly frustrating. The hair dryer, oh my word!!! Don't get me started on that thing. You can't take your own because of the voltage situation, so here's the solution; get ready down at the Spa. Have a leisurely sauna followed by a shower with plenty of space, and use the 'normal' hair dryer they have there. Much better than using that thing they have in the cabins. It was a bumpy ride. We noticed the difference between this and the movement on the Dawn almost immediately and put it down to either a smaller ship or time of year. I did struggle a couple of times getting around the ship or our cabin and found myself bumping into walls on more than one occasion. But fortunately we did not get sea sick, and our cabin was loaded with pills just in case!! I did see 'barf bags' allover the ship, in public areas, but didn't see anyone actually get sick, although a few did look unhappy. I'm not sure of the reason for the rockiness, I'm not experienced enough to comment, and I don't know why they didn't fill the pool on the Bermuda day; we didn't get back from our excursion until late and went straight for lunch upon our return so I didn't see. But what I did see later that day is the seas suddenly change and just one big bump made the pool go so crazy that within seconds all the children were panicking, as well as the parents of course, and when the crew were jumping in to drag out the kids it made you realize how serious this could potentially be. Now, scary as it was to see that, and the photo I've attached doesn't really show it too well (I have video if anyone wants to see) - but can you really blame the ship for that? I don't know - maybe you can - but that seemed to be the turning point for many people and after that I just saw groups of people complaining and saying they were unhappy with the cruise and were going to take back the $10 per day service charge from their account. It also seemed to be a turning point for the stability of the ship because from this moment it became completely stable and calm for the entire journey home, in our opinion anyway. Maybe they changed something at this point to accommodate for the rough seas, I don't know, but it did seem to get a lot smoother after this incident. Anyway, the absolute worst part of the entire cruise was trying to get off the ship. And I know that's normal for everybody, but more so for non-US Citizens. We had to be at the Garden Room by 8am. At 10am we were still there. There was a teeny little lady, with a teenier voice, trying to handle a crowd of 250 or more, and the system was just embarrassing. She whispered, then shouted, then screamed each person's room number to hand back their passports. Once she'd located the appropriate passenger, she had to climb over everybody's bags, suitcases, children, prams, strollers, legs, to give the documentation back. This took a loooooooong time. Once that part was over you had wait for the appropriate luggage tag number to be called. We were last. Surely there must be an easier way; how about a couple more crew? Would save a lot of hassle. With the line at Immigration, it was a three hour process. Talk about back to Manhattan with a bump. But we expected it, we had the same experience on the Dawn. And we are lucky enough to have a short cab ride back to our apartment. Overall we had a truly excellent time, sure, a couple of bumps here and there but it's all part of the adventure to us. I feel bad for all the folks out there that didn't have good time, that's a shame. But all I can do is tell you about our particular experience, and please, don't be put off trying the Spirit; in addition to hearing negative comments I also heard a lot of good ones too. For photos: http://spaces.msn.com/members/nicolanyc/ - click on the right-most icon under the small pictures to see the larger versions! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
To give this review some perspective, I am writing it as a frequent cruiser, having cruised 8 times with Carnival and once with Princess within the last 4 years. I cruise with my wife, friends and sometimes our children who are in their ... Read More
To give this review some perspective, I am writing it as a frequent cruiser, having cruised 8 times with Carnival and once with Princess within the last 4 years. I cruise with my wife, friends and sometimes our children who are in their mid twenties. We are in our mid to late 50s, but are active for our age and enjoy beaches and snorkeling in most ports. We cruised in late May to Bermuda, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay. As we usually find with any trip, some things were good, some things were not so good. Overall we had a relaxing and enjoyable cruise that was well worth the money we spent. However, we decided that we would not cruise NCL again for two reasons: 1. The food quality was well below what we have had on the other cruise lines and 2. NCL doesnt seem to be able to handle crowds of people as well as other ships we have been on. This was our first time to cruise out of NY. We took the train to NY, and caught a taxi to the port with no problems. I hesitated to leave my luggage with a handler near the street curb, but I was assured by a few nearby staff that it would be OK which it was. We started boarding about noon, a pretty much routine and painless process. My impression of the Dawn was that it was a beautiful, colorful, classy ship with marble staircases, lots of greenery and art, and showing little or no signs of wear. The staff seemed very friendly and did their job well. We had an interior room that was nicely appointed, but because of the closet location, it was annoying that my wife and I kept bumping into each other in that room. The bathroom seemed fine and relatively roomy. Beds were very comfortable. The digital temperature control on the wall worked well and we were able to maintain a temperature that was perfect for us. Now heres the big comment: the menu was boring and the food was rather poor in quality. Each night when we read the menu posted on the dining room (the same menu in all 3 main dining rooms) we couldnt find anything that sounded exciting. It seems that NCL must want to cheap it up on food so they served lots of pasta, rice and crowd-type dishes. Dinner desserts also were, for the most part, not very exciting. For example, one main dish was oxtail stew. So I ended up eating fish most nights which was almost acceptable. My beef-loving wife couldnt find beef anywhere, so she ended up ordering chicken twice that must have been sitting under a heat lamp for hours since it was all dried out. And the tasty shrimp and lobster that we always get with Carnival was nowhere to be found unless you went to one of the three pay-extra specialty restaurants. Both of us did love the freestyle dining concept though that allowed us to show up for dinner at almost any time between 5:30 and 10. The lunch time buffets and sandwiches also seemed inferior to what we were used to with the other cruise lines. Each item was given a fancy name, but the substance looked like something out of a can. The burgers and fries seemed OK if thats what you want. The lunchtime desserts were the worst. On Carnival, there were always several great looking desserts making it a hard decision which to pick. But on the Dawn, the desserts all looked like the same boring pound cake with a little bit of color on top. Fortunately, there was fruit which was always my dessert. And fortunately again, Im eating more vegetarian these days and NCL had a few mediocre vegetarian dishes. I suppose one could get by with what they provided if you weren't too picky. The Dawn did offer three pay-extra restaurants which I found very difficult to reserve. We did try the French Bistro and the food there was good but not great. I was, however, impressed as we ate dinner inches from a priceless original Van Gogh painting. I'm sure I enjoyed that more than dinner. There are 4 priceless originals in that restaurant. On a few lunch days, NCL has a barbecue by the pool that includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and ribs. This is pretty cool .. but. the burgers are a bit dry and I spent ten minutes looking a rib over for something edible on it other than sauce. Also the ice cream they hand out by the pool is a baby cone that shows how cheap NCL is with the food. The ice cream was tasty though. Of the free beverages, the only thing you can get is tea and coffee. And NCL serves the ice tea in those cute little glasses that annoyingly hold only about 5 ounces. I guess they think that 5 ounces of liquid is enough in the blazing Bahama sun. Either that or they want you to encourage you to purchase the alcoholic drinks. Watch out for that beverage line because the main traffic passes through the same aisle and you are very likely to be bumped and spill your beverage. After leaving NY we had an enjoyable day at sea and we arrived at Bermuda at Kings Wharf. Bermuda was beautiful! Kings Wharf is a bit isolated from the rest of Bermuda, but ferries and bus service were readily available. We chose to walk to the nearby snorkel park which was only a ten minute walk, but I didnt snorkel since it was early in the day and the air hadnt warmed up yet. So we decided to grab a bus and head for Horseshoe beach. This beach was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen (and Ive seen many beautiful ones). The big rocks sticking out of the water added lots of character. The sand was wonderfully soft and pink, and there was a lunch stand at one end. I did snorkel here a little and found the 73 deg water to be pretty nice. Saw some nice coral and some fish and took lots of photos. I hope to return there soon. Again a day at sea that was great and relaxing, although deck space for sunning seemed hard to find. We did manage to find a spot that worked for us. I couldn't seem to get a table in the pool area to enjoy an outside lunch. The next day when we arrived at Great Stirrup Key, a storm front had passed through leaving rain and waves too high for us to tender to shore. So that port was canceled and we went earlier than planned to Nassau. A bit of a disappointment but you cant plan the weather. Our stop in Nassau went well and we visited the Atlantis and saw all the aquariums. The beach there is very big and probably the best beach around. Time at this port is broken up. You only have a few hours in the evening and a few hours the next morning. But some people managed to do and see more than we did with that time. After Nassau, we headed back to NY and had another great relaxing day at sea. For our entire cruise, I found the seas to be remarkably calm. Possibly also the ship may have stabilizers that help a lot. Maybe we just got lucky. I didnt find much on the entertainment listing that interested me so we didnt take in any shows. Maybe others would like the entertainment they provide. We did however like the little on-board movie theater that was showing good movies three times a day. We also liked the gym which was spacious and well equipped. Having a little time to work out is a luxury that I don't normally seem to have. Also the indoor pool area near the gym was very nice and we enjoyed uncrowded time in the pool, hot tubs, and saunas. We arrived in NY on time. Disembarkation seemed pretty routine. We did have difficulty getting a taxi from the port. I had expected a bunch of taxis to be there but found only one or two. So we were forced to drag our (overpacked) luggage downstairs and across the street to a taxi stand&but still we couldnt catch a cab. Finally we paid twice the cab fare and caught a limo. All in all we did enjoy this cruise. I don't think that there is such a thing as a bad cruise. If you don't care much about the food, the Dawn might be OK for you. But next time we will cruise with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
OK gang, let me begin by telling you that this was my 4th cruise, having already sailed on Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean before embarking on this NCL cruise. Embarkation- Not really a problem. The setting in NYC is rather ... Read More
OK gang, let me begin by telling you that this was my 4th cruise, having already sailed on Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean before embarking on this NCL cruise. Embarkation- Not really a problem. The setting in NYC is rather gloomy- you step into a building resembling a large aircraft hanger, which is typical of the facilities used by cruise lines. The staff charged with "greeting" new passengers was a mix of happy and less than ambitious folks. Since we live only an hour away and were traveling with our 10 month old, we opted to park upstairs and pay the weekly rate of $180 (a RT limo would have cost just as much). Arriving at 11:45 we were onboard by 12:30- check-in was a breeze. Public Space- The Dawn is very easy on the eyes. The common areas, including the atrium and pools, are well appointed. The ship doesn't really show any wear and tear in these areas. As it relates to the main pool deck, be reminded that since this ship is on the "smaller" side of the megaships, deck space is at a premium, regardless of whether you desire a deck chair in the sun or table and chair in the shade. The "chair hogs" were out in full force, especially on the days at sea. I've mentioned the main pool, and the ship also offers a "kiddie" pool. Note that if your child is in a stroller, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get to the kiddie pool deck without going down a staircase. There is no elevator access and the only other means is to cut through the gym aerobics studio- one of the trainers even remarked as to "how stupid of a setup" it was. The pools were overwatched by men whose job it was to point and whistle at every little deviation from appropriate pool conduct. Walking too fast? Whistle. Raising your voice? Whistle. At one point, there were whistles every other minute, and their routine grew tired quickly. Upkeep on the pool deck is big for me, as we tend to spend a lot of time outside. One thing I noticed on NCL as opposed to Celebrity is that their deck personnel are less than motivated. By this I mean that their personnel would let glasses/dishes accumulate on an outside table, to the point where you couldn't put any fresh glasses or plates down, and only by your asking did they remove the offending pieces. In my eyes, if you as an employee pass an empty glass, pick it up, it's that simple. The same goes for towels which are not being used, such as those rolled up into balls and laying on the deck. Cabin- We had a BB Balcony Cabin amidships on deck 9. It was myself, my wife and our 10 month old in the cabin. The cabin was well appointed in layout and amenities. The balcony was a nice size, enough for 2 deck chairs and a small table. The cabin was also appointed with a pull-out chair which doubled as sleeping for the 3rd person, but we of course opted to bring out own pack-n-play along for our son to sleep in. For those parents in a similar setup, don't rely upon the cruise line to supply the crib or pack-n-play if it can be avoided- from what I saw of the pieces in the hallway BEFORE they were set up, they are old and dirty- not what you would want your child sleeping in by any means. Stateroom attendants were courteous and responsive, but did not go over the top. One thing which struck me as odd was prior to the lifeboat drill, I approached our steward and requested a lifejacket for my son. He told me that he would bring it to the cabin later in the evening. Now, wouldn't it make more sense for the jacket to be provided to you in advance of the drill, so as to ensure full compliance? No towel animals (I don't care one way or the other) but I know that it's a big deal to some of you. The room was turned over promptly by the Steward, made even easier with the "wheel" outside your room, whereby you could select "do not disturb," "turn down bed," and "make up cabin." Storage was ample, with plenty of room in the closet for 2 large suitcases and clothes hanging above, coupled with additional space in the adjacent shelves and drawers. Central air control is a nice touch. Shower was roomy enough for me, though the toilet is somewhat claustrophobic- but what can you expect- on a cruise you know what kind of bathroom you will end up with so there aren't any surprises. Sheet quality- poor, very pilly and felt as if they had been washed since the ship first took to the water. Upgrading the linens more than once every 4 or 5 years may been in order. Dining- Ah the important category for many of us. We did not partake in room service, so I don't have a comment for you there. Breakfast buffet- good. They have enough stations so that waiting time is very limited, and food selection was good. I like that everyone is asked to use the "sanitizing station" to clean their hands prior to picking up a tray- you can never be too careful. Lunch buffet- just "OK". The dishes tended to be repetitive and lines were somewhat longer. Note that you do have free iced T, juice and of course coffee, milk and hot tea/hot chocolate available at all times. Dinner- We ate in one specialty restaurant, Bamboo- opting for the Hibachi with private chef. We were in a group of 13 and the room held up to 20- 10 people to a chef. Food presentation was good, quality was very good and it was certainly entertaining. For main dining purposes, you have 3 options for traditional dining room settings- we opted for the Venetian which was on deck 4 AFT. Let me begin by telling you that I walked in with a certain expectation as far as quality and presentation of the food was concerned, and the expectation was not met. The menu was "average" at best and presentation was less than original. Ordering that shrimp cocktail? Beware, you will be presented with a small bowl of "egg roll shrimp"- very, very mini. Appetizers were adequate but not stimulating, but deserts seemed to be the hit of the table. In the end, I guess that you could say the food was sufficient but if you asked me to give you details as to any entree consumed in the main dining room, I wouldn't be able to do so. Ask me the same question about a Celebrity Cruise from 3 years ago and my eyes will immediately open as I give you detail upon detail. Entertainment/Casino: Onboard entertainment was good, especially the "Bollywood" show. The Stardust Theater is beautiful, great sightlines and plenty of room. If the juggler/comedian is on your cruise, do everything possible to avoid the show- it's a complete train wreck. I've never met anyone who was so "un-entertaining"- 90% of the audience members had left by the midpoint of the show, myself included. Casino is a good size and while I'm not a big gambler ($40 spent on this cruise), it did seem like there was enough variety to go around. Itinerary- Very important. The stop in Bermuda can't be missed. Be sure to take the ferry to Hamilton and do some shopping. The downtown is very well-kept and you could certainly fare much worse, like downtown Nassau, which we spent all of 30 minutes in. The in-between for us was NCL's private island, where tender service brought you to a beach with chairs, umbrellas, facilities and a buffet lunch. Do yourself a favor and sign up for a tender early the day before, it will ensure that you get to the island before the masses later in the day, and that you can still land a pretty decent spot on the beach, along with umbrella/chair. Nassau I can do without- Atlantis doesn't really impress me much and I've been to the Bahamas already, so I imagine that a first time visitor will certainly have enough time to see a sight or two. Recap- All in all, it was a good cruise, since we didn't have to hop on an airplane and the port is less than an hour from our home. The food wasn't up to our expectations but the cabin was pleasantly surprising. A cruise like this is certainly what you make of it. We didn't walk on thinking that it was a Raddisson or Silver Sea cruise, and I feel as though NCL did "just enough" to justify your paying decent $ to travel over the memorial day weekend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Overall I had a wonderful wonderful cruise. I have no regrets sailing NCL and the Dawn is a beautiful clean ship. Overall the food was reasonable and save for a dud cabin steward service was good. The freestyle option was great.. I was ... Read More
Overall I had a wonderful wonderful cruise. I have no regrets sailing NCL and the Dawn is a beautiful clean ship. Overall the food was reasonable and save for a dud cabin steward service was good. The freestyle option was great.. I was able to totally relax and managed to leave behind all my cares and worries and to me that defines a vacation. Nonetheless there are issues that had the potential to significantly detract from our vacation and there is no doubt that over the years as cruising gains in popularity the lines have realized that they need to deliver less and less to the cruising public and clearly more and more is being cut from the quality product that was cruising. This is true among all lines and NCL is no different. We were booked on the Norwegian Dawn out of NYC on May 13  May 20, 2006 Embarkation: An absolute dream. Arrived at around 12pm and we were literally in the atrium within 30 mins. With one ship in port (aside from Freedom of the Seas) there was no traffic and no fuss and I could not have asked for an easier or more hassle free process. Whether that was NCL, P&O ports or NYC my hats off to them all. Entertainment: Superb. The shows were incredible and featured a hypnotist (Dr Trance) who had a G rated and then a PG-17 show both of which were hysterical. The comedian/magician was excellent and the ships on board entertainment crew were very good. The cruise director was superb although on the last night learned unfortunately that his nephew was sick and had to leave the next day to Australia. Drinks and drink selections The daily drinks were a little on the pricey side esp when given in a souvenir glass that you dont really want. One of the bar servers offered me the option of the souvenir cup but most just brought it anyway. The standard drink menu though was very reasonable in pricing and very broad in options. I did not get a soda card but found the sodas very reasonable in price. Kids Crew Excellent, kids loved it and did not want to leave at the end of each session. The kept them well entertained and made it special for them. It would be nice though if the port hours were better. The kids pool was excellent although a couple of times parents had to intervene when older teens got rowdy and put the little kids at risk. It really should be NCL that polices that an not a parent. Kids menu was great and the Kids cafe is a really nice touch Ports of call. Nice choices although the hours slated for Nassau do not allow any real sightseeing. The ship arrives at 8pm and leaves at 11:30am the next morning. Great if you are an all night casino fan; lousy if you want to do something beachy. We had to miss the private Island, which was disappointing, but to stay would have been crazy given the weather. It seems that most passengers accepted the captains decision in good faith and I heard little in the way of grumbling. Cabin: This was my biggest issue: The cabin in general a minisuite (11100) was attractive and well laid out. The separate toilet and bath were a nice feature and the walk in closet like wise a nice feature (walk in if you are not a 6 footer). It is somewhat deceiving in calling it a mini suite as the reality is that it is no bigger than RCLs D1 category balcony cabin or Disney's standard cabin and in truth if you are two adults and two kids, a minisuite is the cheapest balconied option. Had it not been for the CC boards I would never have known that we had the services of a concierge and his cards introducing his services to us only arrived on day 3. Our cabin steward was lousy and that is the best word I can find to describe him. On our arrival I opened the coffee maker to find the last guests coffee sachet still in the brewer and the coffee jug dirty. The lasts guests pacifier was on the counter and the draws featured a bathing suite also from the last guest. The bathroom featured a razor from the last guest as well. Now whilst I do not for a moment believe that I am the first occupant of any room I like to forget that my cabin has been used by thousands before me and generally a clean cabin goes a long way to making me forget that. When however the personal effects of the previous guests are staring you in the face it is harder to forget that fact. I like to believe and I hope and pray that at least the sheets and comforter cover were changed. Both of these were not changed at all during the cruise and whilst I dont think that they need to be changed daily a midweek change would have been nice. The pillow covers all had little fluff balls on them suggesting their age. The ice bucket had grime on it and dried milk was streaked down the cabinet. The rest of the ship was immaculate and so I have to believe that my cabin was just the victim of a very lazy Steward. The cabin service the remainder of the week was mediocre at best. He made one towel animal  a feature, which my kids love and missed and did a mediocre job of organizing. Smoking: I know that this is an emotional issue but cruise lines need to wake up. The reality is that more and more US cities are becoming smoke free and with little debate as to the dangers of second hand smoke I wonder why ships are so slow in banning smoking in common areas. I am happy to say that I can, as a combined resident of NYC and NJ, go for days without even smelling the waft of smoke and yet on vacation I have to be affronted by it at every turn. I do not want to deprive the smokers of their rights but we have rights as well and my right not to have to come out of a public gathering coughing, choked up and smelling is something that NCL and others ignore. I wanted to go to the art auction but within 15 mins of getting my paddle and tagging pictures the smoke arrived. No matter where I moved there was smoke following me. The result was that I left the auction. Now believe me I was not planning on buying a 60K Chagall but at the same time I usually spend a couple of K on artwork  on this cruise I did not. Then off to the casino and here again I was affronted with the smell and so I left  here again NCL lost out on my donation. If NCL wants to do the right thing they should make a couple of bars smoking bars and the rest non smoking and any bar that is being used for a public gathering like lecture or auction should be non smoking. The casino should likewise have a smoking and non-smoking section. I at least could leave the poor croupiers have no choice but to suck up the smoke into their lungs all night. It always amazes me that if I went around passing gas I would be considered socially inappropriate and yet smoking is not  funny as natural gas does not destroy the lungs or permeate your clothing and yet cigarette smoke does Food: At the outset let me say that I dont buy the fact that because a cruise is preparing for 2000 3000 odd souls that we should have to put up with poor food quality. All of us that cruised in the height of the golden age (7-10 years ago) know that even then the ships were almost as big and the food choices were superb and quality was excellent. I also dont think that after paying the prices that some of us are paying for cruises that we should have to pay a further 80 dollars for a family of four to have to go to a pay restaurant for a decent meal. Having said that I found the food on NCL Dawn to be the ultimate paradox. Dishes that are usually difficult to do well were done superbly an (vegetarian curry choices, chicken Tikka, Tuna tartar and a host of others), and dishes that should be a cinch to carry out were a dismal failure (pasta with marinara sauce, in fact most pasta choices were overdone and devoid of taste). Overall I would say that 30% of the food was excellent; 40 good and 30% really bad. The barbecue was very disappointing as on the first day they had chicken and ribs and every barbecue thereafter was hot dogs and hamburgers only (I stand corrected  one day there was a paella.) The desserts at dinner were mostly very good but the ones at the buffet and chocolate buffet were mostly tasteless although they looked amazing. The buffet I see gets a lot of complaints but I was impressed with it. The hours were very user friendly and between the Deli, the pizza, the make your own soup, the vegetarian curries and then the regular food the selection was excellent. Since the buffet food invariably sits out longer it naturally is going to be a little less gourmet and a little overdone than restaurant food. When compared with a recent Disney cruise I would say that Disney had more interesting options but the quality and taste was better on the dawn. Disembarkation: As much as a dream embarkation was so disembarkation was a nightmare. Granted there were three ships in port that day but I was led to believe that free style allowed a leisurely breakfast and then disembarkation at your leisure &NOT&. breakfast was cleared by 9:30 am and by the time our color was called was 11:45 am. Let me repeat again -- Despite all I had a wonderful wonderful cruise. I have no regrets sailing NCL and the Dawn is a beautiful clean ship. Overall the food was reasonable and save for a dud cabin steward service was good. The freestyle option was great. My next cruise is on RCL EOS and then FOS and I am looking forward to both. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
My husband and I cruised on the Dawn 7-day Bermuda/Bahamas, 5/20-5/27/06. We were enticed by this itinerary because of the addition of Bermuda, which is our favorite destination and the 3+ sea days. Since theres numerous reviews of the ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the Dawn 7-day Bermuda/Bahamas, 5/20-5/27/06. We were enticed by this itinerary because of the addition of Bermuda, which is our favorite destination and the 3+ sea days. Since theres numerous reviews of the Dawn, I will try to discuss the differences between this cruise and our previous trips on the Dawn 2004 and 2005. Embarkation: With 3 large ships in NYC the pier was overflowing with people. We arrived at 11:00 AM with slight delay up the ramp. DH dropped me off with the luggage at the curb and parked the car. The porters were only helping disembarking passengers so we rolled our luggage to the entrance and porters loaded them on large carts. We waited upstairs in the latitudes/suite waiting area and boarding began by 12:30 and on board by 1 PM. Very smooth process with many NCL employees to direct passengers and answer questions. The ship was a little late departing, 5 PM, and they took attendance at the muster drill. Since it was windy outside, we watched sailaway from the Garden Cafe windows and decided to view the NJ/Staten Island/Statue of Liberty side &. Ship and Cabin: The fire doors to the cabins were closed with notices that they will be available at 2 PM. Since we booked a few weeks before, we chose an Inside GTY and was given an inside cabin midship deck 10. Very convenient for using the stairs, 2 decks up to the pool, several decks down to restaurants. Having balcony BB in the past we were very surprised how small this inside cabin was, but we managed just fine and enough room to store our clothes and toiletries, and put the luggage under the bed. We actually liked the bathroom better, same sliding glass door for the shower but the toilet was not in a closet& seemed more spacious. The cabin was not serviced the first evening, bed not turned down, no fresh towels, ice and glasses, just the next days newsletter shoved under the door. We thought we were in for a fun week and neglected since we had an inside, as opposed to the great service for balcony cabins on the previous 2 Dawn cruises. (we really hate to complain, but will if necessary). Well, no need to worry, the cabin service was good all week beginning the next morning. Food/Meals/Drinks: (see 10 day menus posted by nj_cruisers, the days are different for this cruise but the menus are identical): Thanks nj_cruisers, for posting. http://community.webshots.com/album/546965658SXugcy We enjoyed each meal except where noted. Sat- Bon Voyage dinner (Day 1 menu) we ate in Le Bistro this night Sun- French dinner (Day 7 menu), optional formal, grilled strip loin and monkfish; steak was cooked medium as ordered Mon- Chef's dinner (Day 3 menu), beef stroganoff and salmon in honey glaze Tues- Italian dinner (Day 4 menu), grilled swordfish, and risotto with baby shrimp; could they spare the shrimp? about a teaspoon of 1/8" shrimp on top- couldn't even taste them Wed- Caribbean dinner (Day 5 menu) both of us had tortellini with chardonnay sauce; was actually alfredo sauce but very good, ordered steamed vegetables on the side Thurs- Captains dinner (Day 2 menu)  both of us had lobster tail, a funky brownish sauce on top but the lobster was good, regular single lobster tail not the smaller half tails served on the last 2 Dawn cruises Fri- Freestyle (Day 6 menu) grilled leg of lamb and tandoori chicken; was a boneless chicken breast, a little wet on the outside and slightly spicy, no vegetables served with the chicken. While we are not picky eaters, we sometimes were not thrilled with the menu choices. On the past Dawn cruises, there were several entrEe choices each night which appealed to us but on this cruise it was often difficult to get excited about one. We were fortunate to be seated near the windows on most evenings and ate in Aqua once, Impressions twice, and Venetian 3 times. The service was wonderful in all restaurants except for the 1 dinner in Aqua. Le Bistro was wonderful but the only problem was when requesting a 7 PM reservation on the first night, they were filled, so we chose 6:30 PM but the restaurant was only half full the whole evening. My husband ordered the Fire Star and he was in heaven.. what a presentation. My filet mignon was excellent and cooked as ordered, medium. We passed on the chocolate fondue this time but the crème brulee was to die for and DH enjoyed the vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberry sauce. The service, as usual, was wonderful. No discounts for any specialty restaurants this cruise. We thought the quality of the food in the buffet for lunch, was better than in the past. The desserts were mainly tasteless and DH kept asking me if we took the sugar-free by mistake. By contrast, the desserts in the main restaurants were very good. Dont miss the made to order pasta& didnt find it till Wed. since it was in the middle of the vegetarian counter. DH asked for pesto sauce, one day, and since it was not offered that day the server insisted to go downstairs and get it, but DH told him it was not necessary. Now, thats service! Breakfast in the buffet was not great, with the same offerings daily, food cold, soggy pre-made eggs, smoked salmon not offered daily, and long lines for the made-to-order omelets/ fresh eggs. We managed to eat breakfast in the Venetian 3 times and the service and food quality were excellent, with several different offerings daily. The Bimini bar offered hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries daily. The poolside BBQ was offered 3 times, with different offerings each time in addition to hamburgers and hot dogs; ribs, sausage, chicken, pasta stir fry, rice stir fry & The chocolate buffet was offered one night at 11:15 PM as opposed to mid afternoon on our previous cruises. We preferred it at this time but others complained of the change.. Maybe Ill start a poll? We enjoyed the choices we made and managed to get a variety. We attended the Margarita tasting $15/person but you can share.. a variety of 4 full size drinks & woohoo, lotsa fun was had by all & We love the pina coladas on this ship and manage to have several a day. We would order the regular size for $5.50 (plus 15% tip) as opposed to the $8 (+ tip). Never measured the difference.. is it a bargain? The last sea day they offered us the $8 drink for $7& They brought back the beer buckets (actually champagne buckets)& buy 5 beers get the 6th free. DH liked the standard gin martini, up w olives .. $7.75 for Beefeaters, large size. Good prices for drinks and beers compared to our usual NY prices at home. DH ordered a bottle of wine in Le Bistro, drank half, and had the rest 2 nights later in Impressions. The waiter made a face when we said it was from 2 nights ago, but we joked and got him to laugh & no problem & Entertainment: We really enjoyed Dan Hodge in Gatsbys &, Modal Magic in Spinnaker. Fire & Ice, Caribbean Wave, and Best of Friends were OK. We found the Star Bar for the first time this cruise and Steve Garey is very good; this bar is smoke-free. We love production shows and NCL probably has the most talented musicians, singers, and performers of any cruise weve been on. Having seen South Beach Rave and Bollywood in the past we chose to skip them. We enjoyed the magic/comedy of Ed Alonzo.. laugh out loud for us. The hypnotist, Dr. Trance, was entertaining and amusing but did not embarrass or humiliate the volunteers. We caught one game show The Weakest Link (between dinner and main show) and thought it was pretty lame and only about 10 people in the audience. We thought the Liars Club was hilarious, but not for everyones taste, and definitely risquE and the Spinnaker was standing-room-only. We missed the the crew show (always a highlight, but afternoon this cruise) but caught the Fountains segment on TV & silly but very funny. The cruise director was Mike Szwajkowski and he was young, pleasant, funny, witty, and entertaining& what a pleasure. Ports: We have been to Bermuda many times before, most recently last Oct. so we planned on winging it. Our favorites from the Dockyards would be a bus or taxi to Horseshoe Bay Beach or the ferry to Hamilton. It was very windy this day but clear skies mid 70s. We walked off the ship at 9 AM and went to the shopping area which opened at 9:30 AM. Stopped at the Snorkel Park, no admission charge, and heard its very good snorkeling here. Although small, the beach is pristine, the water clear and brilliant blue, and they had chairs and umbrellas for rent (although none were up; maybe the high winds). Theres a snack bar with outdoor, bar pavilion upstairs. We had our favorite Bermuda drink, Rum Swizzle, and sat on high deck chairs with beautiful views of the beach and water& pure heaven & There was a group of NCL officers (~8) meeting with Snorkel Park management & wonder what they were planning? Back on board, by 2 PM and had the forward hot tub to ourselves and great lounge chairs with wonderful views for sailaway. BTW, the ship left about a half hour late due to passengers who arrived late, after the ship pulled away from the dock and were imposed a hefty fine (didnt see them, but surmised from the captains announcement and chatter on board). We had been to GSC before so we chose to remain on board and get prime lounge chairs on the stadium seating. We had breakfast in the Venetian with a window view of NCLs island and RCLs private island, with a ship anchored there.. who knew the islands were right next to each other. It rained early morning and was cloudy most of the day but the sun came out mid afternoon and with no wind, we decided to move to the shade. We have never seen the ocean so smooth; not a wave or ripple. The ship departed at 4 PM and we were lucky to get a rear window table in the Venetian for dinner, as the ship pulled into Nassau; .. what a wonderful view. We had planned on taking a taxi to Atlantis (been there before) for some gambling and to view The Digs but stayed on-board instead. A few NCL sponsored shops in town were open till 10 PM. We ventured into Nassau for some shopping the next morning at 9 AM and was back on board by 10:30 AM and again got our prime lounge chairs, in the shade, for sailaway. Sea Days: Since were early risers, and prefer to be away from the pool crowds, we never had a problem getting lounge chairs before 11 AM. Although we had many cloudy days the weather was good for relaxing, reading, swimming, hot tubs &. This was probably one of the smoothest seas weve had. Weve cruised out of NY many times and have experienced the sea condition gamut and got lucky on this one. The chair hogs were in full force and people were upset when they left their towels on the chairs, to return and find them taken. Signs were posted that your belongings would be removed after 30 min of non-use. DH and I would take turns to get a plate of food for lunch or drinks, and bring it back to the chair & no problem. Disembarkation: We signed up for self disembarkation on Thurs. and upon bringing the form to the reception desk, they verified we were US citizens and we must be able to carry off all luggage unassisted. We docked early, 7AM (docs said 10 AM) and announcement for self assist was made at 8 AM. We were on deck 10 and tried to get an elevator for 10 min -impossible, carried our luggage down to deck 7, and followed a very organized line off the ship. Took the pier elevator to the parking level, walked over to the next pier where our car was parked and was on the Henry Hudson parkway by 8:30 AM& excellent! We had a wonderful cruise on the Dawn and it was very relaxing. The service was great in all venues and every crew member pleasant, friendly, and seemed happy to be there (except once in Aqua mustve been a bad day for him). The ship was very clean and crew members constantly working. We really enjoy the flexibility of Freestyle Cruising which works very well on the Dawn and will keep us coming back. Were pleased with the changing itinerary from year to year out of NY, and would not hesitate to cruise on the Dawn and with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Wife and I sailed to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. This was our first cruise. I would have preferred a Transatlantic, but people advised us to take a shorter cruise to see " if we liked it". Apparently (and surprisingly) ... Read More
Wife and I sailed to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. This was our first cruise. I would have preferred a Transatlantic, but people advised us to take a shorter cruise to see " if we liked it". Apparently (and surprisingly) cruising is not for everyone. We are in our fifties, both very active, but also not very sociable, and somewhat snobbish. Overall we enjoyed the trip despite two unfortunate events that could have turned this into a cruise from hell. More about that later. We will sail again and now know what to look for . We flew to New York from Western Canada and had an excellent 3 days in that great city before embarkation, but that put us $2500 in the hole even before setting foot on the ship and encouraged a certain reticence about splurging on the ship. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at 12 noon and were in our cabin by 12:30 and this is despite throwing a hissy fit when NCL tried to take our passports from us . The poor woman we were dealing with immediately called her supervisor, who calmly gave us a disclaimer to sign and let us keep our passports. The whole episode took 4 minutes. I was impressed.We had originally booked an inside cabin but a week before sailing we got a call from NCL to upgrade on a "special deal" to an outside cabin with balcony. I took it and that turned out to be a very good move. The BA cabin was superb. I know a little bit about interior design and this was a master class. The balcony itself was the icing on the cake, because I found that the thing I enjoyed most about the cruise was sitting on the balcony reading a book, dozing off, or just looking at the ocean. First bad event: I wanted to use the seven days to upgrade my fitness.. Thus early morning on the first day at sea I got on the treadmill. The sea was quite rough and the boat was lurching which you notice immediately on a treadmill. After a few minutes on the treadmill, we seemed to hit a bump in the ocean which threw me off stride and somehow I managed to jar my back. This left me bent over and crippled in some pain for the next few days. Can't blame NCL for that though. After hearing one of our travellers complain about paying $50 for a bottle of wine with his meal, we decided to abstain for the length of the cruise consoling ourselves with the "soda fountain" option only. This is unlimited pop over the week for $40 paid up front. Frankly it was a ripoff. Not once did I get a decent Coke. It was always heavily diluted. I asked for cans but they wanted to charge me extra for them. Beware of this nasty little scheme. Service on the ship was exemplary. That goes for the waiters, cabin cleaning staff and miscellaneous crew. They were so friendly and efficient, it was unnatural and almost creepy. Still high fives to the staff. As part of our cheapskate approach, we decided to eat only in the main restaurants which were included in the fare. I think that is not a bad plan. Overall I consider the food very edible, occasionally very good and rarely did I leave something on my plate. Deserts were perhaps the weakest part of their suite. This food business is all relative of course. If you live in a city which has good cuisine - say NY or New Orleans - and you are accustomed to eat out often, Norwegian food will disappoint you. But for us, where most restaurant food at home is quite pricey but little more than mush, it was very acceptable and I looked forward to meals. We always asked for and received, what I think was the best seat on the ship, right at the back of the Venetian Room, having an unhindered and expansive view of the Ocean. Second bad event: After two days, my wife developed a sore throat which led inevitably - ho hum - to a bad cold which clipped her wings quite a bit. Can't blame NCL for this either.I thought the entertainment was pathetic, particularly that offered in the main Stardust Lounge. The magician and the hypnotist - both main attractions on separate nights - were so bad , I was embarrassed for them. We left. The Ann Ryan dance group that put on two separate "extravaganza's". Let me just say that I have seen high school shows better than those. Also the cruise Director - Matt somebody- started to get on my nerves after a while. Americans are in awe of anyone who speaks with a British accent. Not me. I thought he was a twit. Compliments to the behaviour of my fellow PASSENGERS. What a cross section of ages, genders, languages and origins! But everyone behaved quite civilly. Excursions: For the day in Bermuda we took the local bus to Paradise Beach (?) and had a good time there. It was the finest sand I had ever seen on a beach, and slightly tinged pink. But while very good, It was not a world class beach of the type we have experienced in Australia and South Africa. Also the water was cold. Nassau? The less said the better. Though I liked the aquarium at Atlantis, the whole place is a dump. Maybe even a dangerous dump Toward the end of the cruise we became friendly with a few couples who were very experienced cruisers. While we had enjoyed ourselves, I noted that they were not particularly impressed with NCL and both couples, independently, recommended that we take our next cruise with Princess. We shall see. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Norwegian Dawn Review Sail date: 5/27/06 to Bermuda and The Bahamas Background information: I traveled on the NCL Dawn with my 76 year old mother. She picked this cruise line after seeing it on The Apprentice and because it sailed out ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn Review Sail date: 5/27/06 to Bermuda and The Bahamas Background information: I traveled on the NCL Dawn with my 76 year old mother. She picked this cruise line after seeing it on The Apprentice and because it sailed out of New York City and seemed like a good value. I booked air travel from my home in Texas on my own to New York, met up with her (she lives in NYC) and we traveled on our own to the port. Stateroom: We booked guaranteed outside and got a cabin on deck 8 with an obstructed view, though we could see out very well. The room itself was comfortable. Bathroom had shower only and with just a curtain to separate it from the rest of the bathroom, it more or less flooded the bathroom with every shower (there are drains, but depending on the motion of the ship, they didnt get all the water). The cabin had a small table, plenty of storage space for clothing, and a vanity area that I used more as a desk. It has the only electrical outlet in the room. I wish Id brought an extension cord or power stripthere is only the one power outlet in the room and I have way more than 1 gadget that needed to be recharged. It is a grounded (3 prong) outlet. There is also a 220 volt outlet for the hair dryer and coffee maker. Ship Info: The ship is a beauty. Very new, clean, nicely decorated. There are a ton of public rooms on the ship and all are very nice. Only complaint is that it was tough to find a lounge chair in the sun (or even the shade). Not nearly enough chairs for the size of the ship and despite the posted signs saying it is not allowed, people reserved them all day long by leaving their stuff on them. Dining: The food was the worst part of the experience. The food in the main dining rooms (Venetian, Aqua, Impressionsall have the same menu each night) was not very good at allmeat and fish were routinely overcooked (if you want medium, order medium rare). I was disappointed in nearly everything I tried. A lot of the items are variations on a theme (I swear I had the same fruit cocktail 4 times with different names but tasting exactly the same). Even the desserts were often a disappointmentorder 2 or more so youll find something you like. Portions also were small. Food temperatures often were not right either. We didnt get to try the specialty restaurants (getting a reservation after the first day on board was nearly impossibleapparently the rest of the passengers had heard how not-good the food was in the main restaurants and had made advance reservations). The food at the buffet reminded me of the cafeteria at my college, which isnt a compliment. But there was plenty of food there and it was almost always open. We ordered room service for breakfast most days and it was delivered on time or early (they call first, which is a nice touch). It was an acceptable continental breakfast. Activities: Bingo is completely insanefor $75 you could purchase a wireless computer with 72 cards on it that you just hold and watch as it automatically records the numbers called and tells you when you are 1 number away and when you have bingo. You can buy the regular paper cards (3 per game for $25 or 6 for $35) but the only people who won at the 1 bingo contest we attended all had the computers. The casino was equally priceyonly a few slot machines took quarters, the rest were dollars. The nice thing is that the casino is at the far end of the ship instead of in the middle of everything like on most ships. We went to a few other on-board activities (mostly on sea days) and they were enjoyable and interestingparticularly a class on improving your memory. You have to pay $60/cruise (or $15/day) for access to the indoor lap pool, sauna, hydrotherapy pool (it rocks) and relaxation suite. The pass is money well spent. I often had the place to myself in late afternoon and evening (its open until 10pm). If you want a quiet place to swim laps, relax, or sit in the hot tub or hydrotherapy pool, its a great investment. The fitness studio was a great size and I enjoyed using it very much. There were a dozen or more treadmills, 4 elliptical machines, and a collection of bikes and stair-climbers, plus free weights and Cybex equipment. Classes (which I didnt try) are offered for a fee (yoga, Pilates, spinning). Service: Our room steward was very friendly and did a great job, though I wish hed kept a more consistent schedule of when he came through in the morning and evening. My mother spent a good deal of time in the cabin (she was hesitant to venture out alone and didnt always want to do what I was doing) and she didnt want to be in his way, though she often was. If we knew when generally he was going to be making up the room, we would have been certain to be elsewhere, but it varied by several hours depending on the day. We tried all three main restaurants. The food is the same, but service was best in Aqua (its the medium-sized dining room). But even there it was often rushed and inattentive. My water glass often sat empty for 5 minutes or more and on a couple of dining occasions it didnt get refilled unless I asked. The waitstaff were generally nice, they just seemed overwhelmed and werent working as a team. Often people were waiting to be seated when there were plenty of empty tables because the hostess didnt have anyone to show the people to their tables. I didnt understand why she didnt just do it. We waited about 10 minutes one night when we were told no one was available to take us to a table. Entertainment: We didnt go to a lot of the shows, but the ones we went to were generally good and better than previous cruises Ive been on. The cruise director was a nice enough guy and pretty funny. Shore Excursions/Itinerary: I think this is a fairly new itinerary for NCL. We sailed from NYC, at sea, in Bermuda 8-4pm, at sea, GSC private island 8am-3pm, Nassau 8pm-following noon, at sea, back to NYC. Bermuda is beautiful and a million times nicer than most of the Caribbean (more beauty, less poverty, super-nice people). I did the Rising Son Catamaran Sail & Swim excursion. The crew was fun, but the boat was crowded. Decent snorkeling at the beach where they stop. Plenty of rum punch. The private island was OK, but again not nearly enough lounge chairs (they had maybe 50-75 of them and all were taken by the time I got there, and I was on the second tender). The rest are sand chairs where you are sitting up straight. There were more than enough of those, but they arent as comfortable. I was surprised to see so many fish with all the people in the water. Take a packet of cereal with you if you really want to see lots of fish (but be warned that they will swarm youtoss the packet a little ways from where you are if you dont want to see the fish THAT close up). Also, be sure to pick up a tender ticket the previous day as soon as they start handing them out, or youll be stuck on the ship for hours waiting for a tender to the island. Nassau was nice for shopping, no really incredible deals but good duty-free shopping. Some of the shops were open from 8-10pm on the night we docked, but downtown was pretty abandoned and unless you wanted to take a taxi to the Atlantis, there wasnt much to see or do. The following morning I went ashore to shop at 8:45 and discovered that the stores open between 9 and 9:30. We had to be back aboard at 11:30, which didnt leave much time. If you chose a shore excursion in Nassau you would have had no shopping time at all. Embarking/Disembarking: In general, the cruise was very well organized. There was minimal waiting on either end of the cruise and plenty of helpful people around. NCL seems to have thought through ways to avoid crowding, except when it comes to their restaurants. I took the NCL transfer back to the airport and my mom grabbed a taxi without a problem. One other thing to note: if you arent from NYC, you might think twice before booking any cruise that departs from there. The vast, vast majority of the passengers were from New York and they were generally rude, pushy, impatient, loudeverything New Yorkers are famous for. Having grown up in NYC and then living in the Midwest and then the southwest the past 18 years, it was interesting for me to watch the non-New Yorkers on the ship react to the New Yorkersits a clash of cultures (and FYI, the New Yorkers dont think theyre being rude at all, its just their way). If you dont think youd like living amidst a NY crowd for a week, think about departing from somewhere else. Summary: All in all, Id say we got what we paid for, which was a value-priced cruise on a very lovely ship and a nice time away in beautiful places. The food and service in the dining room was the only downside, but if you booked early for the alternative restaurants, you might have a better experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
My husband, daughter (20) and I have been on quite a few cruises. We lived in Atlanta and would drive down to Florida for last minute cruises whenever the price was right. NCL and Princess were the only two lines we had not sailed on, ... Read More
My husband, daughter (20) and I have been on quite a few cruises. We lived in Atlanta and would drive down to Florida for last minute cruises whenever the price was right. NCL and Princess were the only two lines we had not sailed on, therefore, when we moved to Connecticut and found a good price for The NCL Spirit out of New York for 8 days May 20 to the 28. Since we could drive to the port to eliminate the airfare we booked it. This turned out to be a big mistake. Our ride to New York was uneventful until we got to the Henry Hudson Parkway. It was fleet week and it took us 1 1/2 hours to go about 3 miles to the terminal. There was general confusion and a lot of traffic. There was no info on unloading but once we got a porter all went smoothly, however, it was no comparison to the ease of the Florida Ports. Parking was very expensive $180 for the week. Inside the terminal there was little direction and we were call up to check in only to find someone else had skipped ahead of us not once, but twice. We had to stand in line in front of a check in person after we had stood in the big check in line. The ship was nice but not spectacular. We did feel crowded everywhere on this ship which surprised us as we had been on smaller ships without being with so many people all the time. The crew did a bad job of enforcing the no saving of seat rule on deck and in the theater. Cabins were a fair size and nicely laid out. The cabin staff were cool at best and we did not get the folded towel animals and other little amenities we were used to on other ships. The colors were a bit garish and the beds hard as a rock and narrow. The food was the worst in the industry. The service in the dining rooms was very slow. The buffet was not kept full and there were long waits for the stations to be refilled. I am not a fan of Oriental food so I did not like 90% of what was served. There were many, many complaints about the food and a lot of people vowed not to sail NCL again. The Blue Lagoon put mustard, ketchup and Worcester sauce in the ground meat before they cook the hamburgers. UGH! The fries were good and the shepherds pie also. The barbecue by the pool from 12 to 2 was acceptable. The desserts were awful with the only things being acceptable the english pound cake and the cookies. The chocolate buffet proved to be the biggest disappointment of all. Guests that went to the steak place said it was the worst steak that they had ever had. We missed the midnight buffets that other ships have and they had too many extra pay restaurants. The food and the service in these places was inferior and not worth the money. The Italian restaurant was a joke. They sectioned off a portion of the buffet area and called it a restaurant. The food was ok but the capacity was small the totally booked by mid cruise. Room service is good but one morning we got two breakfasts and we only received the fill out menu on our first day. Don't order the sandwiches. The best food is from the kids menu with the grilled cheese and individual pizzas from room service the best of the lot. The entertainment was ok and the cast worked hard. The at sea activities were mediocre and there was a constant barrage of things to get you to spend your money on. It was difficult to find free things to do. The activities for young adults was minimal. Drinks were totally overpriced and the soda card cost $50 each for the 8 days. At the end of the cruise the liquor pick-up was unorganized and they handed out the liquor purchased on the islands much faster than what was purchased onboard. It took 10 times longer to get the onboard purchases than the island ones. NCL needs to get organized and cater to American tastes. We will not sail this line again as we did not get the service or food quality we have come to expect from a cruise line. We rank this line at the bottom of the list. Our advice is to pay the extra money and depart from one of the Southern ports and book Carnival for fun activities, and any other line for quality food. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We sailed on the Dawn from June 17-24 out of New York down to Bermuda and the Bahamas. We actually won this cruise for two people, but decided to bring our 9 year old son and 13 year old daughter to make it a family trip because we watched ... Read More
We sailed on the Dawn from June 17-24 out of New York down to Bermuda and the Bahamas. We actually won this cruise for two people, but decided to bring our 9 year old son and 13 year old daughter to make it a family trip because we watched the Regis & Kelly show last year and they had so many family activities, we thought it would be great fun for all of us. We upgraded the "free" cabin to a mini-suite. It accommodated the four of us reasonably comfortably, and the balcony was a big plus. PORTS/ITINERARY: I was quite disappointed with the amount of time we spent in ports. We arrived in Bermuda late and still were required to be back on board the ship by 3:00. None of the pre-arranged tours appealed to us, so we decided to do some exploring on our own. We got off the ship and headed to the tourist/transit information building just off the ship. There we bought tokens for the bus that brought us to Horseshoe Beach. That was one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen, however, a word to the wise and adventurous: skip that main beach where it dumps you off and climb over a couple rocks and tidepools to get to your own, almost secluded beach. From there we took a private taxi ($12) to Hamilton and did some shopping. We bought liquor at a store that didn't even make us carry it back on board the ship - they delivered it to the ship for us so we weren't stuck lugging it around. We were at sea another full day and a half after Bermuda. We arrived at their private island - Great Stirrup Cay - after 11:00 a.m. (two or three hours late). Disembarking was a nightmare since the 'tenders' could only carry 300 passengers at a time and all 2,400 people wanted to get off the ship. It's a MUST to get disembarkation cards the evening before (and that line was an hour long, also), in order to get your place in the cattle call. It took us about an hour and a half between the time our number was called to step foot on land. The beach was SO crowded and the weather was unbearably hot. Beach rentals such as umbrellas and rafts are just one more way they attempted to nickle and dime us to death, so we passed. The beach is on the leeward side of the island, meaning no waves, no breeze. 2,400 people crammed onto a very small beach is no fun, so we left after an hour. The upside: the ship was practically empty, so we got a lounge chair at the pool area easily, which is next to impossible on sea days unless you go up at 7:00 a.m. to reserve your chair, which is against the rules, but nobody pays attention. Our next stop: Nassau, Bahamas. We arrived late into Nassau - around 9:00 p.m., but the generous merchants (who are in cahoots with the cruise line) stayed open until 11:00 p.m. so people could shop at their ridiculously priced stores. The ship was departing Nassau the next day at noon, so we had to get the kids out of bed EARLY so we could get out to enjoy the very small amount of time to explore the island. Again, we opted against the cruise-sponsored tours, and took a taxi to Paradise Beach to rent wave-runners (jetskis). Paradise Beach is the public beach right next to the hotel Atlantis. A word to the wise: bring cash if you want to rent jetskis, because the beach vendors don't accept credit cards. We had to go into the Atlantis hotel to get cash from their casino and getting back onto the public beach from their private beach isn't allowed. If you do want to rent jetskis, they ask for $120 for an hour, but that price is negotiable. We were in a hurry, so we rented them for a half hour for $40. THE FOOD: The ship is fabulous! The restaurants that charge a premium are well worth the extra money. I wasn't inclined to spend it at first, but after eating in the Garde Cafe (cafeteria style) for just one meal, we decided we wanted to splurge and eat well on our cruise. Another hint: make your reservations for ALL your restaurants right when you get on board. That way you can choose the days and times you want to eat. However, if you choose not to keep your reservations, they will charge you $5 per person cancelation fee if not canceled within 24 hours. Le Bistro was an amazing French restaurant. The food was scrumptious and the service was impeccable. Well worth the $12.50 cover. We ordered as much food as we wanted, which included two desserts each for the kids and appetizers, salads, filet mignon, etc. Simply amazing! Cagney's Steakhouse was also fabulous. The service was great and the food was as good, if not better, than Morton's or Ruth's Chris. We ordered a bottle of Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner for $85 a bottle, which is only $20 more than the winery charges. If you're a wine connoisseur, you'll understand that this was a worthy purchase. La Trattoria does not have a cover charge, but you do need to make reservations. The food here was also wonderful! Teppanyaki/Sushi was comparable to Benihana and the food was very good. Overall, the drinks were overpriced and not worth the $7-$10 they charge for them. We purchased a soda wrist band for our son for about $16 for the week and he was able to have free Coke or Sprite whenever he wanted it. We also purchased the coupon book of 20 "smoothies" for our daughter and it worked out to about $2 per smoothie. We all shared those because they were very sweet drinks. KID'S ACTIVITIES: My 9 year old son would have been placed in a group of 6-9 year old children had we opted for him to attend kids' club. Our 13 year old daughter would have been in a group with 13-17 year olds, so she decided to stick with us the whole time. Our 13 year old is on the young side of 13, so she wasn't interested in hanging out with 17 year olds. Toward the end of the cruise, all the teens were hanging out in the stairwells, which was beginning to get annoying. I was sadly disappointed that the only reason this ship gets good reviews for "families" is that parents can ditch their kids by putting them into these clubs (i.e., day care) and have time on their own. To me, "family vacation" means you spend time WITH your children. Quite frankly, there were absolutely no "family" activities. When we wanted to swim during the day on sea days, the activities around the pool were raunchy and completely inappropriate for children of any age. "Miss Norwegian Dawn" was a competition amongst men, who thought it was funny to gyrate their bodies and stick their swimsuit area in women's faces. Sorry - completely inappropriate. I'm not a prude and can laugh with the rest of them, but when my 13 year old daughter is trying to enjoy the one public pool that's appropriate for her age (and without a cover charge like the one in the spa), I am offended. The video arcade was a decent distraction, but if the machines "eat" your quarters (most of them required several quarters for play), it took an act of the sea gods to get someone up there to refund the lost money. ENTERTAINMENT: We found the evening entertainment on board to be pleasant. There was time for families to attend shows and then later, usually around 10:45 p.m., the entertainment was geared strictly toward adults - exactly as it should be. We were able to enjoy both family and adult entertainment and this was a big plus. The kids were safe in the cabin ordering room service at 11:00 p.m. Heck, they were on vacation too and don't get the opportunity to order room service twice a day normally! TIPPING: We were charged $10 per day per person over 12, and $5 per day for our 9 year old as gratuities. This was in ADDITION to the 15% tipping that is AUTOMATICALLY charged for any beverages. My husband didn't realize they were charging 15% on drinks and would add a buck every time he signed a receipt. We also tipped extra on premium dinners as the service was outstanding. LAUNDRY? Shockingly enough, there was a mini laundromat on our floor (11th). That was a mixed blessing because it meant I could do laundry if need be. All of the sudden, clothing rationing went out the window and I found myself doing laundry on my vacation. That's the life of a mom. OVERALL: The ship is huge, lovely, mostly clean (our stateroom's mirrors and windows were smudged, and we actually found a half eaten slice of pizza under our bed), but VERY crowded. I don't recommend this cruise to anyone wanting to get away from people. Take a Windjammer cruise if you want solitude. The cafeteria food is just okay, but you can get burgers, fries, fried foods, salads and the like cooked to order at the Blue Lagoon restaurant 24/7. Then there's room service, but the menu is quite limited and they're not willing to make any exceptions. We would get food at Blue Lagoon and take it back to our room if we wanted to sit because that restaurant was always packed. Would I take an NCL cruise again? Probably not. The one big benefit is the freestyle dining, but you do need to pay the extra cover charges if you want to eat GREAT food. I wouldn't recommend this ship to families who want to spend family time together, but if you are okay putting your children in day care, you can have adult time. The port visits were entirely too short and their private island was pathetic. And, although the two adults cruised for "free," all the upgrades and bringing the children cost over $3,600, so it wasn't necessarily "free." Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
After reading so many negative reviews, I didn't expect much. We received a good rate via the internet that guaranteed an outside cabin. We were given an obstructed view (lifeboats) and a very small room. We called to be sure our ... Read More
After reading so many negative reviews, I didn't expect much. We received a good rate via the internet that guaranteed an outside cabin. We were given an obstructed view (lifeboats) and a very small room. We called to be sure our cabin had a coffee maker as I had seen a review saying it has just a kettle. After being assured there was a brew type coffee maker-a kettle was in our room. The reviewers know more than the cruise line. Boarding was quick but our pictures had been transposed-so we had to have them redone at the entrance to the ship. A nice surprise was the restaurants-service was excellent! The wait staff in all areas tried to meet your expectations. One Hostess,in particular, made our an impression with her professionalism. Unfortunately, that can't be said of the social directors. A murder mystery supper had people lined up at one deck for almost 20 minutes. Then we were told to go to the deck above. No apology-just the woman in charge saying go ahead report me-who cares. Some who had waited were elderly and had been assured that they were in the right place. While the weather wasn't great, we did have beautiful weather the day we reached their private island. The set-up for tender tickets took too long with long lines. However, the boarding and return was well done. The island itself was wall to wall chairs and we were really on top of one another. The Dawn had good entertainment and a really good casino staff. The lounge staff aren't too pushy except on the day you get on-they push drinks in their special glass that is way overpriced . They bring it automatically -so you have to insist they return it and most passengers don't want the bother. I think our trip was okay for the price paid. I must say New Yorkers are very friendly cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Embarkation was a breeze. My sister and I flew into LGA from different originations and met at the baggage pick up. Took a taxi to the cruise port ($40) arrived around 1pm. We were on board by 1:20. We first ate at the buffet on the 12th ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze. My sister and I flew into LGA from different originations and met at the baggage pick up. Took a taxi to the cruise port ($40) arrived around 1pm. We were on board by 1:20. We first ate at the buffet on the 12th floor, then went on a self guided toured of the ship. We made reservations at each gourmet restaurant as we passed by. Getting on and off the ship in Bermuda was a breeze. We took the public bus to Horseshoe Beach. Fantastic beach, waves sometimes large enough to body surf into the beach. It was everything we had hoped for in a Bermuda beach. Public transportation officials were adamant that folks were dry and clothed prior to entering the vehicles. There is a charge for use of the Spa. Last year it was free. I was surprised and disappointed that the steam room, sauna, lap pool and two Jacuzzis were available only at an additional cost. The private Cay took longer. NCL provided tender tickets the afternoon of the day prior for those willing to wait in line for hours. We didnt. Picked ours up late in the day when there was no line and reached beach about 10:30 am. Fantastic beach again, water was wonderful, many fish swimming with us! Typical cook out foods available. We did hear folks complaining that there was no ice tea available. The shows were great (we didnt attend the night we ported into Nassau). Both Ann Ryan productions had excellent dancers and performers. The lead female vocal in Miami Nights was a little weak. The comedy show is well worth seeing and we were very impressed with Action comedian. Nassau disembarkation was a breeze. We ate prior to leaving the ship and noted many folks coming back onboard as we departed about 8:30. We took a taxi over to Atlantis. The aquarium walk around was excellent and is as good as the Baltimore and Boston aquariums -- its also free. There are multiple denominations of slot machines at Atlantis. After hours of playing nickel, dime and quarter machines, we found the dollar Wheel of Fortune machines at least paid some money. The Straw Market is about two blocks away from the dock. There were bargains to be found if you were willing to negotiate. The most unusual trinkets were flowers made from fish scales, being crafted as you watched. These unique items were produced in different colors and were made into brooches or necklace icons. Cagneys Steakhouse: Excellent Boston Lobster and Filet Mignon. Seating at solid tables and enough space between tables. Side dishes of vegetables were good and the dessert was excellent. Le Bistro: Excellent Filet Mignon, Sea Bass was not mild, but the sauce and vegetables were to die for. Seating was crowded; if you were on a deuce the table next to you was less than 4 inches away. We were also on the aisle, with wait staff constantly hustling past you. We recommend that you request a wall table when you make your reservations. Teppanyaki: Typical seating and fare for the Japanese Hibachi. There are two hibachis which seat a total of 19 diners. Dinner reservations are accepted for 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30. We enjoyed the chefs entertainment and both of us ordered the Imperial Feast for an additional small fee. The Imperial Feast included a piece of sushi, soup, salad, fried rice, vegetables, filet mignon, shrimp and scallops. The only disappointment was the green tea and coconut ice cream, which were not as good tasting as we are accustomed. Overall, it was an excellent meal with healthy portions. Bamboo: Offered a variety of Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes. We actually ate here the evening of the Captains dinner. We were seated quickly at one of the main dining halls. The noise was unbearable. We made a quick decision to try Bamboo instead of having the Lobster tails and the loud confusion. It was an excellent choice for us. Salsa: There is no charge here, but requires a reservation. The service was outstanding in this establishment. Food portions were excellent, the food tasty and desserts great! The seating is an open balcony over the live easy listening band in the lobby coffee shop. A great variety of tapas are offered as well as Mexican dishes. After eating here, we made it a point to have late afternoon coffee in the lobby bar to listen to the band. Sushi Bar: The conveyer belt brings selected sushi to patrons. You may also order a la carte from the extensive menu. It was an excellent lunch! The buffet was a disappointment. We could never find pieces of fresh fruit, with the exception of the melon and pineapple cut fruit combo on every buffet. The quality and selections were limited, though there are three different food lines. The desserts were the same gelatin creations almost every day. Last year in the evenings they had a soup cart set up and ice cream cart set up, which they have now incorporated into the deli line. Compared to other cruise lines and past NCL cruises this buffet scored the lowest in our book! The Bimini Bar has a grill which served burgers and hot dogs and fries, daily for lunch. The quality of burgers was good, but how many burgers do you want for lunch on a vacation? The cruise offered the typical contests by the pool each day at sea, and the Spinnaker Lounge audience participation events each evening were very entertaining. The younger crowd seemed to be having a wonderful time late into the morning hours in Dazzles. (We noted on our way to our cabin after spending hours in the casino each evening.) We enjoy gambling and vacations frequently include casinos. We were shocked that twice during this cruise; casino managers went to tables and asked for money from patrons they said had been paid out in error. We had never seen this in our lives! Here you have a patron betting $45 a hand and the casino wants $15 back??? From three hands ago? Another time it was at the Craps table. The manager wanted a $5 side bet paid back, supposedly paid out in error. If this were a land based casino we would never ever go back. This was the most disturbing event of the whole cruise to us. Disembarkment back in NYC was delayed. We both missed our flights and had to change the reservations. NCL allowed us courtesy calls but didnt offer any other assistance. Leaving the ship, it looked like more than 50% of the guests were taking the Express&carry your own luggage off. NCL never announced on the loud speaker that Express folks could leave the ship. We were in the hallway and followed the crowd out. Taxis were plentiful from those arriving for the next cruise. All in all we enjoyed the cruise. If we hadnt been on other cruises we wouldnt know the difference in food quality provided on the buffet. The ports were excellent as were the gourmet restaurants. We lucked out with perfect weather for the whole cruise. We are looking at Royal Caribbean or Holland American for our November cruise as we have never been disappointed in their buffets nor seen casino managers asking for cash back based on dealer errors. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
As a first time cruiser, I was apprehensive about this trip. It could not have been better. Living in NJ, we left at 11:00am and reached the pier at 11:45am. We were greeted by a porter who took our luggage & guided us to the ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, I was apprehensive about this trip. It could not have been better. Living in NJ, we left at 11:00am and reached the pier at 11:45am. We were greeted by a porter who took our luggage & guided us to the embarking station. We sailed thru the photo, doc check and credit card area (just a tip-complete the customs form BEFORE going thru this area) and were on the ship by 12:20pm. After a quick look around, we went up to the buffet to grab lunch. We were pleased with the selections. Next,they were offering tours of the spa and we tagged along. All of the facilities were beautiful and the massages sounded great but VERY expensive. Our room (stateroom w/balcony-deck 10) was ready at 2:00 and we found our luggage already there. The room was immaculate and having the balcony gave us the feel of a larger space. The shower had a glass door which gave some privacy. There was a shelf above the bathroom sink that easily fit most of our toiletries. The closet was stocked with hangers and we had plenty to spare. By putting the suitcases under the bed we had no problem with space. We brought soda & water but didn't really need it. Hubby bought the soda card-worked out fine. The only problem that we had with the room was that it took 2 days to get the cabin steward to remove the fridge contents. We tried to take advantage of a lot of on board activities-Had a ball at both margarita clinics-good buy too-4 drinks for $15. Met lots of interesting people from around the world. Did some of the trivia games- lots of fun- art auction (do people really spend that much money on art on a cruise ship?) Went to Makeup clinic-( a real push to buy the product).The ship entertainment was very good-Second City comedy was probably the best, but Bollywood and the Dance Troupe were very good too. I liked the fact that they came out after the show to visit with the audience & take photos. Matt Baker,the cruise director, was outstanding. Where he gets his 24/7 energy, I don't know! Pool activities were hampered on several occasions by rain, but when it was nice, the staff made the most of the time-hairy chest contests, ice sculpting, calypso band, barbecues, pool olympics, etc. Also went to the towel animal making class-fun to watch. The lounges were nice places to relax, the main band (Best of Friends) always drew a lot of people. They sang a nice mix-Beatles, Eagles, Show tunes, light music, etc. Drinks were cheaper there too. The pool was always pretty full-people had to make up for the rainy days-I enjoyed the hot tub even though it was a little crowded. The smaller section of the pool-the 4' had a very steep ladder which was hard to get into. The food was good-not great. Free style is nice, but you still have to make reservations at the specialty restaurants. I had the best salmon ever at Aqua. My daughter loved the Italian and my husband liked Cagney's (cover charge) the best. The Venetian was great for sit down breakfasts, but avoid the pasta with almond in alfredo sauce for dinner-Gooey & absolutely no flavor. There was never a problem with a jean issue-saw no one in jeans at any meals. The Staff- everyone- was wonderful-friendly,courteous, accommodating, and many staff members even remembered and called my granddaughter by name. Tours- we did the Long boat tour in Bermuda with a stop in Hamilton-very good history of area & plenty of time to shop. Parasailing on the private island was great- but nervewracking-skip the City tour & Pirate Museum in Nassau- going thru poor areas with debris & decay is not an enjoyable site. The Museum was very good though. My daughter did the Atlantis tour & said it was great. We docked at 8:00am, had breakfast at 9:00, thru ship debarkation & customs by 10:00am and home by 11:00. It can't get any better! Overall Opinion- Beautiful,immaculate ship,wonderful staff, lots to do, food quality & selection needs to be upgraded. Met wonderful people-even one of our cruise critic members! Too bad NCL doesn't have a meet & greet for us! Am already planning when we can go again!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Norwegian Dawn - Bermuda/Bahamas 06/03/2006 This was our first ever cruise, we chose NCL because of free style cruising, price and sailing out of NY. Embarkation I am not a US Citizen so when we arrived we got to go on the Non-US ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn - Bermuda/Bahamas 06/03/2006 This was our first ever cruise, we chose NCL because of free style cruising, price and sailing out of NY. Embarkation I am not a US Citizen so when we arrived we got to go on the Non-US line which was much faster and pretty much got to walk straight on to the ship. We arrived at about 2pm so got to go straight to our room. The NCL staff at the port were very friendly and efficient. The Ship The Dawn is a beautiful ship and was very easy to navigate around; we were in an aft balcony cabin on deck 9. It was very spacious and well organized, and having a balcony was great. I spent quite a bit of time reading on the balcony. All the staff we met were very friendly, courteous and helpful and all were smiling. The entire ship seems to be very well maintained and very clean. They seem to be very conscientious about hygiene and health, which is very reassuring. Our only complaint with NCL was the itinerary. We did have one small issue with our cabin, in that the bed sheets did not seem to have been changed from the previous sailing, but we made a complaint to the room steward and it was rectified immediately. Itinerary As this was our first cruise I think we were a bit disappointed with the itinerary, probably because we had such high expectations and we didn't realize how long a day at sea could be. If we cruise again it will be on an itinerary with less sea days. We had 3 which was too many for us. Bermuda was our first port of call and despite rain, we still went on a glass bottom boat snorkel trip and then had time to take the ferry into Hamilton. And had a great time, we would definitely like to go back to Bermuda. We then had another day at sea, which we decided to spend in the Spa, mainly because the weather wasn't great and the pool deck was too loud and crowded. The Spa was practically deserted with its own pool and 2 hot tubs. The next stop was Great Stirrup Cay, we got tender tickets the day before for the 2nd tender of the day but decided to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast before heading over. We arrived at 11am and were still able to find 2 chairs under an umbrella. We went snorkeling which was great and swam with rays and enjoyed the beach BBQ. Nassau was a bit of a let down, we arrived in the evening when everything was closed and there was nothing to see or do, the whole area seemed very seedy and run down. The next day we went to Paradise Island which was ok but not very interesting. I don't think I will go to Nassau again. Food We pretty much ate nearly everywhere so here is a brief run down. We found alcohol on the ship to be very expensive even compared to NYC. We did not get the soda card as for us it did not work out as a good value; I think we spent less then $15 on soft drinks when the card cost $45. Venetian -- one of the main restaurants. We ate lunch here on one of the sea days, though very beautiful, the service was terrible as was the food and menu. We never ate here again. Impressions -- one of the main restaurants. We had dinner here on formal night; the atmosphere and service were very nice, though it took a long time to get a glass of wine. We had the steak and lobster, everything was good and it was very relaxing, especially when compared to Venetian. Le Bistro -- Pay restaurant $15 per person. I loved Le Bistro, it was very quiet and the service was excellent as was the food, also who can beat sitting next to an original Van Gogh. If you go here definitely try the chocolate fondue, it is to die for. Cagnys Steak House -- Pay restaurant $20 per person. Service was slow, but the food and wine was excellent as was the atmosphere, highly recommended. We can't decide if Cagnys or Le Bistro was better. Garden Buffet -- Included restaurant. We ate breakfast here every day, good selection and made to order waffles and omelets. Lunch and dinner selections were ok, but got boring after a while as they didn't really change. Trattoria -- Included restaurant. Only open in the evenings when they converted part of the buffet to make an Italian eatery. Atmosphere was ok, as always service was good, menu was a little limited but if you like salad and fresh pasta it's pretty good. Salsa -- Included restaurant. Salsa was a bit disappointing, we had heard a lot of good things about it. It is located in the atrium and there is usually a band or piano playing below the restaurant which is nice. Service was ok, but the food was terrible. And we did not go back. Blue Lagoon - Included 24 hour fast food joint, very good wings and fish and chips, but service was very slow and disorganized. Entertainment There seemed to be a lot going on on the ship, but we didn't take part in any of the activities. We attended an art auction out of curiosity, and saw the Bollywood show which was great kind of a spin off of Moulin Rouge. We also tried out the casino and hung out by the pool and in the spa. Overall We enjoyed ourselves, but I am not sure we would cruise again. We did not like being on the ship's schedule and prefer to go off and do our own thing. After a couple of days, the ship felt a bit claustrophobic. If we go on another cruise we will look at the itinerary very carefully as we would want more time in the ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
We went with NCL because we were honeymooners and liked the freestyle cruise atmosphere dealing with the food. We did not want to have to eat with other people! We also liked the itinerary, I wanted to see Bermuda. Getting on the ship ... Read More
We went with NCL because we were honeymooners and liked the freestyle cruise atmosphere dealing with the food. We did not want to have to eat with other people! We also liked the itinerary, I wanted to see Bermuda. Getting on the ship was bad, we sat at the pier for 4 hours, the ship did not get back into port until 11:00, one hour late. I would suggest getting there early, no later than 12:30 or you will be sitting in line forever! Once on the ship we went straight to our cabin, Mini-suite AF on deck 11. Our luggage was delivered less than an hour after we got to our room. Our room staff was great! We never really gave them enough time to clean the room, but they managed with what time we gave them! Reservations: Make the week's reservations on the first day. We made the mistake of waiting till that day to try and get in at one of the speciality restaurants. We only made it to Cagney's ($10 pp cover charge) and Salsa (both of which were amazing) We ate in the Garden Cafe for breakfast and lunch and ended up there for dinner most nights too! The soda card was worth it ($50) and sneak some alcohol on if you can because the drink prices were outrageous!! Look for the late night 2 for 1 deals in the casino to get you money's worth! Bermuda was beautiful. Take the bus to horseshoe bay and then hang around the dockyard. I would skip the private island. It was hot and crowded. But the fish come up and swim around your legs, so if that is something you like, then go for it. Nassau was such a short time, we went to Atlantis and did enjoy that. The public beach nearby is very nice. Went to Senor frogs and got a $13.00 margarita! It was fun though! Do the express disembarkment we were out within an hour of docking. Matt Baker was the Cruise Director, he was ok, but his staff was great. Go to the pub crawl and the trivia nights. Overall the ship was beautiful and the staff was great! Don't tip because it is already included with your drink bill and at the end of the cruise ($10 pp per day) We will cruise NCL again, once you are Lattitude members you get better perks and easier check in and out! Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Prior to taking this cruise, we had studied the CC board intensely. One common theme we found was that the food and service were sub-par. WERE THEY ON THE SAME SHIP WE WERE? Embarkation was a bit of a mess due to the Dawn returning to New ... Read More
Prior to taking this cruise, we had studied the CC board intensely. One common theme we found was that the food and service were sub-par. WERE THEY ON THE SAME SHIP WE WERE? Embarkation was a bit of a mess due to the Dawn returning to New York 3 hours late. OK, that happens. The weather had been pretty bad the past week up here. But one that was over and they started calling passengers by class, things went smoothly. (One issue though: NYC is VERY serious about scanning baggage. We thought we could carry on all of our bags, but were forbidden to do so. One of the NCL employees got us a supervisor that explained our bags were too big to fit in the X-Ray machines. OK, I can understand that. So we checked our bags and went back to wait until we were called.) Once we got on board, we went to the Garden Cafe to eat and wait for our rooms to be ready. They were actually ready earlier than they said. We decided to book a balcony suite, the lower end of the food chain. All I can say was that the room was remarkable. On our last cruise (NCL Majesty 8/05), we book an oceanview cabin. It looked like a cabin on a ship, and we had to climb all over each other just to get in and out of bed. The upgrade was well worth it. The walls were wood-paneled, the room was big enough to move around in and the bathroom had an actual tub with a shower. The sink area was a nice size, all things considered. The toilet was in a little space with a sliding door for some privacy. The beds were pushed together to make a big one (Queen-szie I think!) And there was a sitting area with a couch that folded out to a double bed. There was also a table and two chairs. This was separated by a very nice, very heavy room-darkening curtain. Next, there was a sliding glass door leading to a nice-sized balcony with two recliners. It was a wonderful room all around. We tend to keep to ourselves a lot, so the fact that the Oasis pool was always overcrowded and loud didn't mean much to us. Everybody there seemed to having a good time, though. Just not our cup of sake'. We had a very lucky break in the position of our cabin. We were the last cabin on the right side of the ship. We were five feet away from the Spa. They had the most incredible heated Lap Pool along with a HydroTherapy Spa and a regular hot tub. We started every morning in the Hydro Spa and the Pool. What a way to start your day! Take note, they have started charging for the use of this Spa it is $15 per day or $60 per cruise. Well worth it from our perspective. They also has a very nice workout room that is free to use. The food we found to be very good. The Garden Cafe is typical steam-table cafeteria food. Except it was a bit better quality. They always had a Deli Counter and a Vegetarian line. The all night restaurant, The Blue Lagoon, was much better than what we had on the Majesty. The Majesty was an open deck grill with hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. This place had class! The Blue Lagoon had Shepherd's Pie, Singapore fried noodles, Cantonese fried rice, fish and chips, along with the usual fare of hamburgers and hot dogs. Great food, especially after a night of drinking! The three main dining rooms had very nice decor, especially the Venetian Room. I heard many complaints from people that the menu was always the same in all three restaurants. Duh! These are the ship dining rooms. The could have had plastic walls and fancy names like DINING ROOM 1, etc... I give NCL points for trying to make your experience different in any way they can. The food at the three main dining rooms (Venetian Room, Aqua and Impressions), was all very good. And the service was excellent. The specialty restaurants were also excellent. Salsa had some of the best Tex-Mex I've eaten. The Tapas selection was great! Cagney's Steak House was wonderful, and worth the extra charge (so I believe). The Bamboo restaurant had a very good Sushi Bar, with all you can eat rolls for $10/person, along with regular sushi at ala carte pricing. We are sushi-lovers and did not go for any other asian cuisine there. Maybe next trip! Le Bistro was a fabulous encounter. There are four masterpieces hanging in the restaurant, including one Van Gogh. The food was marvelous and the service was impeccable. The bars on the ship had a different motif. All were great. One thing I would like to mention: They did not push drinks like they did on our last cruise. They were around when you needed one, but were always polite and never pushy. One of our favorites is Gatsby's, with a 1930's motif. We had a wonderful time almost every night there. The have an incredible entertainer named Dan Hodge. He is a true showman. If you go see him, tell him Dan send his regards! For those of you who enjoy a good cigar, the Havana club is right there. They have some great cougars, but the don't really stock what they say is on the wall. Just go to the humidor and pick a nice one! The casino was done very well, lots of slots and Black Jack tables (my game), also 3 Card Poker, Baccarat and the increasingly popular Texas Hold 'Em. Someone I met on the cruise won $1400 there! The time on Bermuda was too short! Our last cruise had us docked at St. George for 3 1/2 days. Eight hours wasn't enough. We took the ferry over to Hamilton and walked around. We found this fabulous restaurant in Hamilton called the New Captains table. It had the best fish I have every eaten, no joke! Give them a try when you go there. You won't regret it! The snorkeling and Beach Party at Great Stirrup Cay was nice. It was just too hot for us! We went early and were back on the boat by Noon. It was nice to have the boat to ourselves. One thing to beware of: DON'T"T LEAVE YOUR FOOD UNATTENDED! If you walk away for even one minute, there will be a flock of birds descending on your food like locust. We say it happen twice. Two people left their food to get beers, and 200 birds descended! Where is Tippi Hedron when you need her! The other time, the people sitting in front of us at the beach left to go swimming, and about 50 birds cleaned their leftovers! The only thing I didn't care for was the trip to Nassau. It got there at 8PM and we had to leave at Noon the next day. On top of that, many of the stores that were going to stay open past 8PM did not. Mostly the T-shirt joints and the jewelry store. Despite the supposed discounts, I think a lot of the prices were not reasonable at all. Hello Kitty earrings were $600! Granted they were platinum and diamond, but still... We had an excellent time overall I don't understand all of the complaining. One guy was complaining about EVERYTHING! Come to find out, someone else chose the trip and also paid for it. Where is the gratitude? We had a wonderful time. The food was great, the service was excellent. We could not have asked for a better vacation! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
My wife and I took a family cruise with my family on the June 17th cruise of the Dawn. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean before we were excited to see how traditional cruising would match up with freestyle cruising. Here are our ... Read More
My wife and I took a family cruise with my family on the June 17th cruise of the Dawn. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean before we were excited to see how traditional cruising would match up with freestyle cruising. Here are our experiences.... Getting on the ship in New York was very easy, quick and not a problem at all. We took a bus service to the dock, we were immediately greeted by someone who took our luggage and told us it would be in out room by 7:00 or so. We walked in waited in in line for about 5 minutes, checked in got our sea passes and were on the boat in no time at all. As for the ship, I have to say it first impression it was nicer, bigger and laid out must better than the Royal Caribbean ship we took, which was the Serenade of the Seas. Once we could get to our rooms, about 2:00p.m. we were again surprised at the size of the room and the bathroom (seasoned cruisers will know what I mean). Now for the rest of the cruise here are our pros & cons... Pros: The rooms were huge and bathrooms were big for a cruise. Much more restaurants to try than Royal Caribbean. And not just pay ones, free ones and the food was excellent. The staff was great. Here's a little tip, if you want to just have a drink, go to the Salsa cafe. They have these little areas where you can sit and ask for some salsa and chips. It is a great place to sit and relax. Great Stirrup Cay was unbelievable! Get there early to get a chair and a raft. The rafts are a lot of fun, grab a drink and just float around all day. We saw 2 shows, Bollywood and the opener. Both we very good and the cruise director Matt Baker was very funny. Cons: Very few thing to comment on. One was the pool situation is a disaster. We were at sea for 4 days and every day it was a battle to get a chair. My advice is to be a "Chair Hog" Get up at 7:00 a.m. and go out and get a chair otherwise you will not have a chair or a spot to sit all day. There is really no tip here it really is that bad. Second downfall is that other than the Blue Lagoon and room service, there is no real "pick on" food. After a good booze feast we all like a little chips or something and it really is hard to find something at midnight. So overall how did we like it? GREAT!! It's vacation how could you not. Comparing the two are like comparing apples and oranges. I think NCL is more fun if you are going with people or family. We had a blast. The Spinnaker Lounge is a ton of fun every night, Great Stirrup Cay is amazing. Is the food 5 star restaurant, no but is it terrible food, no. It very, very good. Does the waiter/ess wait on you hand and foot, no, but they take good care of you. Rooms are clean, food is excellent, alcohol is alcohol. My advice is if you are looking for a romantic getaway and want to be pampered and get the royal treatment, go on Royal Caribbean. It is a lot more romantic, the wait staff gets to know you, it's more of a relaxed laid back feel. If you are going with people or family I highly recommend NCL & freestyle cruising. It is more a fun, partying feel. More bars, more theme things, more to do with people. I loved NCL and the Dawn. Great trip great vacation, great ship, great time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
An introduction - My husband and I are both 28 and went on the Dawn for our 1 year anniversary. I am a licensed clinical social worker and my husband works in finance. We have both lived in Manhattan for 5 years. My DH has been on 2 RCCL ... Read More
An introduction - My husband and I are both 28 and went on the Dawn for our 1 year anniversary. I am a licensed clinical social worker and my husband works in finance. We have both lived in Manhattan for 5 years. My DH has been on 2 RCCL cruises and I have been on 1 RCCL cruise. We decided to do NCL b/c we didn't want to fly to FL to get on a boat and could only take a week off of work. We arrived at the port in NYC around 11:30am - after a 10 minute cab ride from our apartment. We waited maybe 45 minutes and started boarding the ship. Took no time at all. The Dawn is a beautiful ship, well maintained and very clean. We had lunch right away the Venetian - I had a veggie burger which I hated and my husband had a hamburger. I asked for BBQ sauce and they said they didn't have any - I was a little worried. After reading CC boards, we went and made our reservations for the week at Bamboo, Salsa, and La Trattoria. Had no trouble getting the day and time we wanted. We booked a balcony guarantee and were placed in a BA level room on deck 10. 10016. The room was fine - we were able to fit everything and unpack. The bathroom was a nice size and the way they compartmentalize everything made it seem bigger. We did find underwear under our bed when we were unpacking and had to call the room steward to come clean them up... He laughed as he was doing it. Our room was kept clean, make-up and turn service was always quick. We didn't have any requests so we didn't see the room steward often. Only got 2 towel animals. I am a kid at heart so I would have liked more. As far as the food, I was not a fan. I am picky but I found everything too salty or not done the way I like it. I did love the mac and cheese in the Blue Lagoon and managed to eat Caesar Salad, baked potato, and french fries at every meal. I did like the soups however. My husband liked everything. We ate in the main dining rooms 4 nights and Salsas, LA Trattoria, and Bamboo 1 night each. I liked Bamboo the best. My husband liked Salsa's. I am used to eating in NYC restaurants so it was tough for me. I didn't like the food on our last cruise either... We got up early each day and got our pool chairs. We loved hanging out on the deck and relaxing all day. We went to all of the shows and really enjoyed them. Loved Bollywood. I also went to 2 art auctions, didn't buy anything but enjoyed watching. My husband used the gym every day and seemed to like it. Bermuda is amazing and we did a snorkeling excursion there. I want to go back for vacation. We had been to Atlantis in November for 4 nights so we just walked around Nassau and did some shopping. Wish we were docked all day instead of night. One of my biggest complaints was the smoking. We are non-smokers and smoking is basically outlawed in NYC and NJ. I was not used to the smoking in the bars and was not able to hang out there too long. The cruise director Matt and his staff were great and enjoyed them. We found the staff friendly but since we didn't have any requests, nothing was done out of the ordinary for us. We liked freestyle but we think we enjoyed the "traditional" seatings better. We liked getting to know our waiter on the last cruise. We tried to talk to the waiters and find out more about them but they didn't seem to be too interested. The coolest thing was we saw 3 schools of dolphins in the ocean when we heading back to NYC -- I think we were off the coast of NC. It was amazing to see them jumping the water. Disembarkation was fine. Got off when our color was called and we were home 15 minutes after leaving the ship! Overall, we had a great trip for the price and the ease of living in NYC and taking the ship out of NYC. We would definitely do it again if it meant not flying to Fl! I would give the ship 3 1/2 stars out of 5. Please post any questions. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on the dawn. Just want to say up front that I have been reading these Cruise Critic reviews for months now and I am very excited to leave one myself. Lets get started. Embarkation -- I felt like a ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on the dawn. Just want to say up front that I have been reading these Cruise Critic reviews for months now and I am very excited to leave one myself. Lets get started. Embarkation -- I felt like a rock star because I work at the pier so I basically just flashed my badge and saved us 2 hrs in line! So that was cool. First impression of the ship was not what I expected. Don't get me wrong the ship is beautiful and very clean but just not as visually impressive as some of the other lines I have been on. The layout was a little weird at first but we got used to it very quickly. There is no one room that gives you a wow factor, but they are all very nice. The casino is fairly large with all the usual games and machines, however there is no Caribbean stud which was odd. The stardust theater is nice and the shows there were very good. Most impressive was Bollywood. The magician was pretty awful. Second city was pretty entertaining however. Pearly kings pub was a cool spot, don't miss the pub crawl if u like to drink and have a good time. The spinnaker lounge was a nice spot but was often crowded because they try to have some of the most popular shows in there like the quest which was a blast. I was most disappointed with the club dazzles because it is such a tiny lounge, not even really a club at all. Very tiny dance floor. However the music is good, drinks are good and there is still plenty of room to dance. But clubs that I have seen on the other lines completely blow this one out of the water. The food was average to good. The buffets had the usual stuff. Breakfasts were good if u had the fresh eggs and waffles. I usually went for the lighter fair such as cereal, yogurt and fruit. You cant go wrong, they have everything. Lunches were just ok. The hot food was usually pretty bland, once in a while they had a nice chicken dish. Desserts and cookies were good. You cant go wrong with a burger, fries or a sandwich. The outdoor BBQ's were very good. They had things like chicken, fried rice and pasta. Very tasty. Service varied, they were unbelievably awesome in the blue lagoon, very hard working staff. The dining rooms were spotty, just depends who you get. The main dining rooms were always very good. I liked Aqua the best. I found it to be the best service wise and also the quickest. If you are looking for a more intimate but still something free, go to impressions. It is a bit more elegant. The Venetian was ok, somewhat noisy and more crowded. We only ate at one specialty restaurant and that was Cagney's. It was nice, not sure if id pay the 20 bucks again. The steak was excellent but you can also get a nice steak every night in any dining room for free. I suggest to make reservations for La trattoria and Salsa right away because these are free especially restaurants and fill up immediately. You can always get a table at Cagney's, le bistro or Bamboo the 3rd or 4th day into the cruise. The Blue lagoon rocked. There was nothing better than going dancing and drinking and then making a pit stop at about 3am at the Blue lagoon for such things as lo mein, burgers, chili, fries, potato skins, fried rice, salad, wonton soup, chicken fingers and fish and chips. Really tasty food! The cabin is a just that. Small but functional, there were three of us in there and I have no complaints. The activities were just average. There wasn't really much to do besides sit by the pool on sea days. You could gamble maybe but I don't recommend it lol. They did have a few activities such as bingo and a few other classes and seminars which were ok. The gym is very nice and we went there occasionally on sea days. The lap pool is nice but not worth 15 bucks a day. Bermuda was awesome, the beaches are so spectacular that by the time u get to the Bahamas, it's not even worth getting off the boat. Id take a ride to the atlantis though just to take a look around and maybe go jet skiing. I think that's about it, be prepared to spend a lot of money, don't sneak liquor on because they will find it, liquor is so cheap in the shopping mall but you don't get it until friday. I recommend buying it early because it sells out along with the cigarettes. If you go on this cruise with a good crowd, I promise a good time. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
As someone who hasnt cruised in 20 years, my first reaction when my hubby told me that hed booked a cruise, was panic. You see, wed been on a ship previously that ran into a tropical depression. Since I suffer from motion sickness just ... Read More
As someone who hasnt cruised in 20 years, my first reaction when my hubby told me that hed booked a cruise, was panic. You see, wed been on a ship previously that ran into a tropical depression. Since I suffer from motion sickness just being a passenger in a car, it wasnt the best experience in the world. Thankfully, I found cruise critic and the many cruisers, so willing to share information. Within a few short days, my mind was at ease and I was on a mission to have a great time. We arrived at the pier early on the morning of our embarkation. The porter promptly tagged our luggage (and a case of water) at the curb and we were on our way. There were a relatively small number of people inside the terminal, and we were immediately given seats. The women working in the terminal, assisting passengers, were just wonderful  helpful, pleasant, knowledgeable and just firm enough to keep things organized as the check in stations had not yet opened. Shortly, I spotted several fellow cc flashers and their blinking lights. It was really very nice to meet people so early on (thanks Suzann for the flashers!). It was also a great experience, to run into some friendly faces during the week onboard. In the terminal, the check in areas opened shortly. NCL provided coffee and munchies, which was a very welcoming gesture. The ship had arrived to port a bit late, however, we moved along very quickly and smoothly. We were very happy that we had arrived early, as the many hundreds that came after us had to stand in a long line for some time. Before we knew it, we were on the ship. As new cruisers, we were a bit unsure of what to do (we couldnt get into our room until 2:00pm), so we took a tour of the ship and decided to grab some lunch at the garden cafe. This lunch is probably what gives the food on this ship a bad name. It was overcooked, steam-warmed banquet food with very little taste. Frankly, I wish we had skipped it. Do not allow this first impression to skew your ideas of the food on the Dawn!! Our meals at Le Bistro (more on this later) were some of the best dining experiences we've ever had. Following lunch, we went to the atrium and asked a few questions that were answered with a smile. We happen to be a family of individuals with food allergies, so we addressed the topic. Much to our surprise and delight, the front desk phoned Marlon Bryan, maitred (I believe) and his attention was outstanding. He took the time to review meal choices and ingredients. At one point, he even brought us a package of pasta, so that we would be comfortable with the ingredients. During the course of the week, Roosdin Muhammad, assistant maitred in training, became our contact with regard to food issues. His attention was extraordinary. He has a lovely demeanor and always gave the impression that our needs were paramount. He is truly a great asset to NCL. This personalized service from the food service personnel will certainly weigh heavily when we choose our next cruise. As a parent with a child with food allergies, it was such a great comfort to know that the staff was well equipped and willing to accommodate our needs. Many in the food industry are not always willing to go the extra mile. The staff of the Dawn certainly was. Whenever we mentioned the food allergy, the wait staff always offered to double check ingredient lists. We didnt have a single incident all week, with regard to allergies. After this, we went to check out our cabin and met our lovely room steward, Romeo. He was a friendly man and treated us like royalty. Our teen was delighted to see the famed towel animals arrive at night. One in particular gave us perhaps, the greatest laugh of our cruise, as we walked into our cabin late one evening to our cute, unexpected visitor. Romeo, really went the extra mile. There were the standard niceties such as the chocolate mint on our pillow and our cabin always had fresh towels, which we truly appreciated. He even replenished the refrigerator with the bottles of water we had brought. Romeo truly made our stay delightful, which wasnt always easy in our room, which was on the small side (we booked to late and there werent any larger cabins available). Once settled in our cabin, we realized that we would need a real meal for dinner, so we took a walk to the restaurant Bamboo, and booked a 5:30pm reservation for Teppanyaki (based on some cc suggestions). The ship departed late and we got caught up in the beautiful view of the NY harbor and the Statue of Liberty, and we missed our reservation. We truly felt awful and hurried to the restaurant to extend our apologies. Fortunately, the hostess offered us a table in Bamboo, which we accepted. This was the beginning of what became a week of wonderful meals. I feel the need to go into detail here, since I have read and heard that the food on ships is not very good, and we experienced, quite the contrary. At Bamboo, we were seated in a banquette table facing a window, and there we were delighted with several Asian influenced items from the menu. We had several dishes between us: Chinese chicken salad with wonton skins (my favorite - would love this recipe), stir fried chicken with bamboo shoots (even our teenager enjoyed this, order the plain white rice), stir fried beef and the teriyaki salmon. For dessert, we enjoyed an outstanding gingered crème brulee (I would have licked the dish if I could, lol!), a mediocre Thai pancake with coconut ice cream and green tea ice cream. After this meal, we truly looked forward to visiting the other restaurants onboard as it was clear that the kitchen and staff could truly cook! Throughout the week, we visited several restaurants, all of which were very good (even to a very finicky, self admitted, foodie). It took a little while to figure out which restaurants we wanted to eat at and the process of going about getting a table there, having never sailed on the ship. We didnt book right away and as such, we found it a bit difficult to get reservations  which we didnt expect on a cruise ship. Although you can always be seated in one of the main dining rooms, we preferred the specialty ones. It was frustrating for us to sit in a restaurant while having dinner, watching people being turned away when there were clearly tables available (this was observed at the specialty restaurants only). We do understand that tables are held for certain customers(mini-suites etc.), however it should be noted and perhaps reviewed by NCL that a current inside cabin customer, has the potential to be a future occupant of a larger suite in the future. We heard many people remark that they were disappointed to find that they were turned away from certain restaurants, yet there were clearly spaces available  throughout the course of an evening. Luckily, we were very fortunate (not only once, but twice) to reserve a table at Le Bistro which was truly something special. We ended up in the outer wine cellar area of the restaurant on our 1st full day at sea, for a late dinner. We were treated to wonderful meal, great service and lovely music courtesy of the fantastic piano man nearby. It made for a magical evening of people watching (it was the 1st formal night and passersby looked divine) and amazing food. We enjoyed the asparagus with hollandaise, escargots (buttery and garlicky) , the wonderful French onion soup, the almost soufflE-like cream of mushroom soup, the seared tuna, spinach salad, chicken with tiger prawn mousse, sea bass and the filet with foie gras (not all on the 1st night!). The main selections were delicious but most of the vegetables that served as accompaniment on the plates werent worth taking up valuable room in ones stomach. Save the precious room for dessert! We somehow managed to fit in the fabulous chocolate fondue with fresh fruit, which seemed a bit richer and more flavorful the first night we were there, although still worth having on the second night we dined. We also enjoyed a very sweet but nevertheless delicious, buttery, rich crepe suzette. Crème Brulee was yummy. The chocolate nougat cake was good but tasted like it was mass produced and less like a specialty of the restaurant. As part of the Cruise Critic group, we enjoyed a very special meal that we will not forget in La Trattoria. The food and service were absolutely outstanding and the company was even better. We dined with some very special people (our fellow cc members) and considered ourselves very fortunate to be among them. Thanks to Hugo and Tony for sharing their time, stories and wonderful food. Another evening, we had dinner at Teppanyaki with a generous and genuine cc member who, along with her husband, exudes all things good about life. She is already in such great demand that we will not reveal her identity but she knows who she is, and we are so fortunate to have crossed paths with her. The dinner at Teppanyaki was a delightful show, and we were truly impressed by the chefs attentiveness to our food allergy issue  especially since he had to prepare meals for many people. This chef (I wish I could give his name) changed his utensils several times to avoid cross contamination with regard to foods being prepared. We so appreciated his effort. It was truly impressive! If you enjoy sushi, the sushi bar is worth a trip and the $10.00 all you can eat is a bargain. We found it to be less crowded than some of the other restaurants and the food is very fresh. The sushi chefs were also very willing to please and made several special items. We enjoyed a dinner at Aqua, with its beautiful dEcor and ceiling of twinkling lights and were surprised by the tastiness of the several Cooking Light selections available. Again, as with the other restaurants, service was terrific and we didn't have any wait for a table. As people that need our morning coffee fix, most of our days began with a pot of coffee and some fruit from room service. Service was prompt and we appreciated the call that came, about 5 minutes prior to arrival. It served as a great wakeup call, as delivery came at the exact time we requested. We ordered dry cereal on 3 days but only received a bowl on 1 - not a big deal for us but you might want to give a gentle reminder. We did request a large pot of coffee and received one each day, which was wonderful! On several mornings, we stopped by the garden cafe (we gave it another chance) for breakfast. Much to our surprise, there were many items that were very good for breakfast. We especially liked the very sweet muesli and dried fruits, the fresh fruit (which was lovely), the made to order omelets and waffles with whipped cream, and the warm croissants (which were fresh and warm, unlike those wed had in the Venetian), macerated strawberries and chocolate sauce (although this was always empty). There was a nice selection of dry cereals too&for both children and adults. We are late risers and wed have breakfast quite late (only made it to the Venetian once), so wed just grab something easy for lunch -- usually a hot dog/hamburger at the Bimini bar or a plate of fruit, which wed take to the pool area. The Blue Lagoon was also available for some interesting items like shepherds pie and chili. Speaking of pool area -- the worst of this ship was witnessed there. It was nearly impossible to get a lounge chair at the pool (although there was room for a dip in the pretty pool) and some people were vultures when it came to possessing chairs! Everyday, people were arguing about chairs  be prepared. One very rude woman actually took someones belongings (bags and all) off her chairs (I witnessed this) as the woman was standing right there drying off. Ive really never seen anything like it, truly. This woman also pulled my husbands towel off of his chair, just as he got up to get a drink from the bar. I was still sitting there. It was amazing. I know that NCL cant possibly police the behavior of its guests, however, I think they should consider implementing a system similar to the one that they use in the spa (they charge for admittance and it is a beautiful atmosphere). A small charge should be added if youd like to reserve a lounge chair  available on 1st come, 1st served basis. This would alleviate the chair hogs and would prevent those entitled from removing personal belongings. From what I witnessed, I was honestly surprised that no one got physical. Having said this, the pool was a great place, complete with Jacuzzis and usually live music. There was a selection of food, drinks, and ice cream available. The music really added to the island atmosphere and by late afternoon, you could sit and relax with pleasure - and see people just enjoying themselves. Toward the front of the ship, there is also a less frequented hot tub and the view is amazing. For additional relaxation, the spa is wonderful, albeit pricey. The staff is lovely and very helpful. Complete with juice bar, there is also a terrific gym for workouts and a schedule of interesting classes available. There is also a special teen menu of services. The day spent in Bermuda was fantastic. We intended to take a ferry to Hamilton but missed it, so we decided to purchase a bus pass ($10.00 pp for the day) and take the local. We met a lovely woman who shared all sorts of info with us and enjoyed her conversation. As we passed by some of the most spectacular beaches, we decided to forget about shopping and sightseeing in Hamilton, and instead spent the day at the beach in Horseshoe Bay. We had an incredible time, lounging on chairs under a rental umbrella (both available for a fee), enjoying the gorgeous turquoise water and pink tinged sand (we wore our bathing suits, but there are changing facilities available - there were refreshments too). Our day was spectacular! The water was warm and calm and there is a cove which served as a natural kiddie pool for the young children. Unfortunately, there was a bus strike in the afternoon and we never made it to Hamilton but we were aided by a transportation worker who hailed us a cab and we were back to the ship in no time. The cab driver was so gracious to us and as a credit to the integrity of Bermuda and its fantastic people; they refunded our bus fare at the window at the pier. We feel you have to enjoy the best of what the local area has to offer. In Bermuda, it was the beach and the people! Great Stirrup Cay is what you might imagine a huge beach party/bbq would look like - very crowded, music, food, hair braiding, hammocks, snorkeling etc. The tenders (boats from the ship) are just a short ride (maybe 10 minutes) and it was a pretty calm ride. Although there were many people, everything was very well organized. If we hadnt spent time on the beach in Bermuda, we might be disappointed that there was so little room on the beach, but really, it was fine and we had a great day. Parasailing looked fantastic. Nassau wasnt much of a destination (arriving at 8pm and departing noon the next day) and we decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the pool area since it was less crowed. We didnt find the itinerary to Nassau much of a draw, having been there several times before. Perhaps if you wanted to gamble at the Atlantis or do one of the planned excursions, you might venture there. We found the casino on the ship to be very agreeable, although I personally would like to see that smoking is limited since it is a small venue. I would have liked to spend a bit more time there but could only take the smoke for short periods. We managed to be a bit lucky early in the week and had great fun with the tournaments toward the end of the week. We liked the very easy going atmosphere as most people were there merely to have some fun. We took advantage of the many entertainment opportunities onboard including bingo, the art auctions, illusionist show, the Bollywood show, and the famous Quest (adults only), which was a real hoot. We witnessed many people using the gaming rooms and the library. We didnt utilize the cinema. The little ones in the kids club were having such a great time and their parents couldnt say enough good things about the program. It was a delight to see them parading occasionally around the ship, singing and waving. The video arcade was a bit too small and the options for teens were pretty limited. Although there is a teen club for them, most of the teens I spoke with said that they really werent interested in the activities (mine included). Luckily, there were others on board and they formed friendships and had fun. As you can probably tell, our vacation on the Dawn was superb. The service from the staff was as good as weve experienced anywhere - outstanding on all levels. The food was nothing like we expected, far better. The ship was very clean and the decor was Asian influenced and very attractive. We really wanted a relaxing vacation and chose not to do any of the excursions, but many looked interesting. Disembarkation was a breeze and we appreciated the fact that we could do it as we wished...either by express (taking our own bags) or in a more leisurely way. This was a wonderful experience for our family and the most relaxing vacation weve ever taken. Hopefully, you will also have the fantastic experience of sailing out of New York on this great ship! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This was our first cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Dawn. We had 4 balcony staterooms on deck 8 between each of the nine members of our family. There were two in each room and 3 in one room. This included: myself, my husband, our 3 ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Dawn. We had 4 balcony staterooms on deck 8 between each of the nine members of our family. There were two in each room and 3 in one room. This included: myself, my husband, our 3 children (ages 10, 13, and 16), my mother, my 2 aunts and my aunts grandson (age 9). We are all from the New York, New Jersey area. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at about 12:15 and parked the van in the parking lot. The porters took our luggage and we entered the terminal. We did not have to wait at all in the holding area, we went right through to the check in area and were processed very quickly, walked onto the ship after a group photo and were sitting in the Venetian Dining room having a nice lunch by 1:00. The food was very good and the service wonderful. After lunch, we went to make reservations at Salsas for Monday. Our rooms were ready by then, so we dropped off our carry-ons and checked out the rooms. The Balcony cabins were very nice with enough room for everything. The shower water pressure was terrific and the balcony was so nice to relax on. The muster drill for us was held in the beautiful Stardust theatre. We were very comfortable in our seats. It was short and painless. After the muster drill we changed into our bathing suits and headed to the pool area for the sail away barbecue party. We got 4 lounge chairs in a row on the 2nd tier of the pool deck and watched the sailaway from there. The atmosphere was festive with a band playing and the staff cooking the food. My sons loved the food, (hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs etc) unfortunately I was still full from lunch so I didnt eat then. My husband was busy taking lots of pictures as we sailed away. My kids swam in the pool. And some of us went back to the room to unpack. Food: We had dinner in all three restaurants, main restaurants and Salsas once. Even though we were a party of nine, we never had to wait more than a few minutes to be seated and we ate between 6 and 7 every night. The food was excellent except for at Salsas when the ribs were very tough. We loved Impressions and Aqua best, they were more intimate and the waiters and service were excellent. All of the food was really good in the main restaurants. For breakfast we ate at the Garden Cafe buffet, which had a very good selection including fresh made waffles and made to order omelets. We also went there for lunch and they had a nice pasta station and Deli section among many other hot choices. We never had a problem finding something we liked. Also, Ice cream cones were available in the afternoon by the pool. On Tuesday at 11:15 pm there was a Chocoholic Buffet. We arrived at about 10:45 to get on line and were pretty close to the front. The chocolate fountain was yummy, they dipped fruit on sticks into the chocolate. There were pastries, ice cream, cookies and lots of beautiful chocolate sculptures made by the chefs. Entertainment: The entertainment on the ship was fantastic all week! The welcome aboard party the first night with our Cruise Director Matt Baker was a lot of fun. He was so great all week, very talented and funny. He made the cruise so memorable for us!!! We loved him! At the 70s disco party that night he dressed up as Austin Powers and we had a good time dancing with the village people! The seas were a little rough that first night so the boat was rocking a bit during dancing! All of the shows were really great, especially the Second City Comedians, they were so funny with their skits and improvisational comedy. The Magician and the Action Comedy show were really excellent too. We went to every show and dance party! Ports of Call: First stop was Bermuda, we got off the ship and took the bus to Horseshoe Bay beach, it had to be the most beautiful beach I have ever seen! We stayed for a few hours and then it started to rain on and off. We then took the bus back to the ship and had lunch at the buffet. We got off the ship and went shopping for souvenirs around the pier area. Wish we had more time to see Bermuda! We departed at 5:00. On Wednesday morning we arrived at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas (the ships private island) at about 10:30. We got the first tender over to the island because we had booked snorkeling excursions. The island was very beautiful and the water an amazing blue color and very calm. They had a barbecue, band, limbo contest, and a small straw market there. That was a lot of fun. The only problem was trying to get back on the tender. There was a long wait in the heat. We think that there was a medical problem on the tender right before us. I saw a women pass out and was brought a wheelchair so we had a long wait for the next tender. It was extremely hot that day. Later that day at about 8:00 pm we arrived in Nassau, the nine of us took a minibus ($4 each) to Atlantis with a very nice cabdriver. We walked around the Aquarium (the dig), which was free at night. And a few of us hit the casino. The rest of us just walked around the hotel a bit. It was beautiful! The same cab driver picked us up at 11:15 and took us back to the ship. The next morning we went on the Thriller powerboat ride, that was a lot of fun. They gave us a tour of the island and a fun fast ride too at times! Although we wish it was even faster (we like speed). We ended up right in front of the huge straw market and did lots of shopping there. It was fun haggling with those people. I really got some nice things for great prices! Then back to the ship for a 12:00 sailaway. We registered the kids for the kids crew, but they never went. They had so much fun with us and met kids on the ship. I heard it was a lot of fun by some of the passengers. We loved the Freestyle concept and never had any problems waiting to get into any restaurant with a party of nine. We had a wonderful first cruise and would love to do it again. Maybe on the New Norwegian Gem! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
A bit of background -- this was our first cruise  me, husband and 13-year old daughter. We splurged a bit and had an AB Penthouse Suite  the Topaz  on Deck 11, the starboard side -- which was wonderful. We flew into NYC from California ... Read More
A bit of background -- this was our first cruise  me, husband and 13-year old daughter. We splurged a bit and had an AB Penthouse Suite  the Topaz  on Deck 11, the starboard side -- which was wonderful. We flew into NYC from California Friday night (the 21st)  got delayed in Chicago because of the thunderstorms in the NYC area  but made it to our hotel by 11:00 pm. Next morning, we got to the ship around 10:30  turns out that was a little early as we had to wait in the Lattitudes/Suites area for about an hour and 45 minutes  but it was fun watching all of the people coming and going  and we were escorted through the process, met Claudio our concierge, and were on the ship around 11:45 or so. We went to the Venetian for lunch which was nice  and then walked around until about 1:30 getting to know where things were, etc. The Dawn is really a beautiful ship. Our bags arrived around 2:00 which was great. We unpacked, took some pictures and then headed to the muster drill in the Stardust ballroom. Then went out on deck for the sail away party  we took lots of great pictures of the NYC skyline. Dinner that night at Impressions. Ill segment the rest of the review into the following areas: Part 1: Our Cabin, Restaurants, Part 2: Staff, Shows and Activities, Part 3: Ports of Call and Miscellaneous. Our Cabin In a word, unbelievable. The suite had so much room  more than enough closet space and drawers  and our daughter had her own bedroom and bath which she loved. Four TVs. The master bathroom is amazing  beautiful  all wood, glass  a TV over the whirlpool tub and the shower had a full length window directly overlooking the ocean. The shower had a hand spray, top stray and body sprays  it was about 15 square feet in size. NICE!! Also, a nice eating area and living room  and a beautiful balcony with teak lounge chairs. I LOVED IT. There was also a portable phone that you could take with you anywhere on the ship. This suite was perfect for three people -- would be great for two, but obviously you would be paying for space you wouldnt use. Restaurants We ate at Impressions, the Venetian, Aqua, Salsas, Cagneys, Le Bistro, Bamboo, the Garden Cafe and the Blue Lagoon. I think it was a toss-up as to our favorite restaurant  between Cagneys and Bamboo. The steak was very good at Cagneys. The service everywhere was wonderful. We were fortunate to have been invited to dinner at Cagneys with our Cruise Critic friends  thanks to Wake Gazer and Sharon for setting it up! And hi to Dolly Girl, Jim and Ariel! At Cagneys, Hugo, the hotel director, and Tony, the food and beverage director, joined us for dessert which was very nice. We were definitely starting to get very spoiled with all of the VIP treatment. . . . Le Bistro was also excellent  the filet was buttery and delicious and what an amazing time dining among all of the famous Impressionist paintings. We also had dinner with our CC friends at Impressions on lobster night (Thursday). A great time. Our daughter hung out at the Garden Cafe and the Blue Lagoon all week  she enjoyed meeting and chilling there with her new-found friends. Out of all of the restaurants, Salsas was probably our least favorite and this was most likely due to being from California (and DH frequently traveling on business), so the bar for Tex-Mex food with us was pretty high. We thought the food at Salsas was so-so, but the location/view was great. Bamboo was excellent  our waiter kept bringing more and more food  even though we didnt order it! And it was all delicious. Staff The staff on the Dawn could not have been nicer nor have done anything more to make our cruise special. We were only on the ship the first day for about 3 hours when Claudio, our concierge, came over and re-introduced himself (we had met him first during embarkation.) He was so nice and very helpful throughout the week. Then our butler, Anshuman, came and introduced himself. He treated us like royalty all week with wonderful breakfasts in our suite, hors doeuvres for our CC cocktail party before dinner at Impressions, etc. He was always available and did a great job. Our room stewards, Edgar and Rafael  did a great job as well  they always greeted us by name and the suite was always spotless  amazing how they always know when you are there and arent there! We also enjoyed meeting many of the other crew members at the captains VIP cocktail party, the dinner at Cagneys and at the Cruise Critic meeting on Sunday  in addition to Hugo and Tony, we met Jaime (Hugos assistant), Matt Baker, the cruise director, and Island, the group services coordinator. Everyone was so nice, helpful and interesting to talk to. Show and Activities Matt Baker was a trip  he was quite a showman and made all of the activities even funnier than they would have been just on their own. We went to the New Newlywed game (VERY funny), Battle of the Sexes, Quest (pretty amazing what people will do . . .), the Crew Show and Liars Club. We also saw Fountains  hilarious. As for the shows  they were spectacular  the Jean Ann Ryan shows  South Beach Revue and Bollywood  were unforgettable. And we always had GREAT seats in the balcony thanks to Claudio!! We also really enjoyed Second City  Nancy, Tofer and the rest -- they were hilarious and so good at what they do! The timing of all of the evening shows was very good  there was usually a show in the Stardust Ballroom at 7:30 and 9:30, and an activity in the Spinnaker Lounge at 8:45 and 10:45. We also did the progressive trivia game in the Pearly Kings each day, the Martini Clinic (we shared the martinis because if we didnt, we wouldnt have been able to stand up . . ), the Ryder Cup golf challenge, bingo and also enjoyed relaxing by the pools. DH also worked out quite a bit and was impressed with the facility. He also enjoyed walking the perimeter of the Promenade on Deck 7. Our daughter went to the Teen Club the first night and then she simply met the other teens each day  usually at the pool, the Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. They did some of the activities but mostly just roamed around in a pack. DD loved having this kind of freedom  we began by insisting she use the walkie talkies, but by mid-cruise we simply had her check in with us a couple of times during the day and it worked out fine. She told us this was the best vacation of my life. Ports of Call Bermuda was beautiful  we went on the Ultimate Catamaran Snorkel and it was a lot of fun  they have kayaks and floats as well if you dont want to snorkel. We also walked around Kings Wharf. Wish we had had more time in Bermuda to see Hamilton and Horseshoe Beach, but it was nice even to just get a taste of this beautiful island. Great Stirrup Cay was a lot of fun  we were on the first tender and got an umbrella and chairs no problem. It was VERY HOT  make sure you use lots of sunscreen there  it is imperative. The water was crystal clear. We really loved this stop. Our daughter was in seventh heaven. The barbecue was good and it was a very festive party-like atmosphere. Nassau  had dinner in Bamboo that night and then we walked around downtown Nassau. The next day we were up early and took at cab over to Atlantis. A pretty amazing property  you have to see it if you havent already. We then walked around Nassau some more (the shops, etc.) and got back on the ship around 10:30. Miscellaneous We found the soda card to be a good deal  we bought one and had a lot of diet cokes between us. The Teen Passport we could have skipped  our daughter really didnt use it that much but she did enjoy the smoothies when she had them. The CC suggestion to bring a power strip was very helpful as was the suggestion of an over-the-door shoe bag. Also, there are lots of opportunities for photos  they take your picture everywhere and post them in the photo gallery  but there is no obligation. You can also pose for formal photos/portraits if you like. In terms of any issues or problems, there were only a couple  and they were very minor. 1. My daily WSJ delivery was sometimes a bit sporadic, but WHATEVER! Whenever I asked about it, about three people were immediately ON IT!! And the paper always appeared shortly thereafter. 2. There was a problem with the amount we were charged for the Bermuda snorkeling excursion  the woman at the Issues and Discrepancies desk said they couldnt fix it there but that I had to deal with Miami after the cruise. It would have been nice if this could have been taken care of while I was there, but not a huge deal. They do have backup of all of your onboard charges which is helpful. End of Cruise and Overall Disembarkation was a little slow because of a broken gangway. But Claudio kept us informed  we waited in the Stardust Ballroom which was fine. We got off around 11:10 or so. After the cruise, we spent two nights in NYC which was a great way to end our vacation. Overall, this was a VERY enjoyable vacation  from the staff to the ship itself, the cabin, the entertainment, food, ports, etc. DH was so relaxed he kept asking me what day it was. We will definitely be doing it again. This was a cruise we will always remember and we cant wait to cruise with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This was the first time my husband and I cruised with Norwegian, we have only done RC cruises, but with all the "HYPE" of Freestyle, we thought we would give it a try. Like most couples after a stressful year, we look so ... Read More
This was the first time my husband and I cruised with Norwegian, we have only done RC cruises, but with all the "HYPE" of Freestyle, we thought we would give it a try. Like most couples after a stressful year, we look so forward to one week of heaven. We received anything BUT heaven, more like purgatory on water. Embarkation was a laugh, you stand on line line a bunch of others waiting to be fed. Upon entering the ship, you are asked to clean your hands (for what I do not know, the ship was kept like a NYC street, garbage everywhere). The stateroom, was small, not even a wet bar to hold water. No room service for breakfast. Entertainment or should I say lack there of. It was a joke! The food was the absolute worst, small portions, not well planned or very good tasting. As for the FREEstyle" if you don't make a reservation even in the main dining rooms you are still waiting. The specialty restaurants were a little better, but for the price why should you have to pay extra to get a somewhat decent meal. Overall, I must say NEVER NEVER again. This was truly the worst vacation experience of my life. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
I realize that many people already stated that the hurricane cancelled our plans to ncl private island and bahamas. Therefor, we went to Bermuda, Bermuda and Bermuda! Yes, it was two days of rough seas and seasick folks. I'm not sure ... Read More
I realize that many people already stated that the hurricane cancelled our plans to ncl private island and bahamas. Therefor, we went to Bermuda, Bermuda and Bermuda! Yes, it was two days of rough seas and seasick folks. I'm not sure if I was sick from the boat rocking or from the quality of the food. This was my first and last cruise. I have always heard the food is abundant and awesome. Well the abundant part is true, but the awesome part would only be allowed from an ex con! Where do these people eat that can rate this substandard cafeteria food and good? I must say that my daughter did enjoy herself and the directors of the kids were very energetic and nice. However, I foolishly expected big pools for us to go swimming in. Well there was one pool no bigger than my living room and that was for over 2,000 people! It was ice cold sea water! We didn't need to worry about all 2,000 people wanting to go in. There was four circular hot tubs that 6 people could fit in, so if my math is correct 6x4=24. That leaves 1,976 people with no pool or hot tub at any given moment. Oh but I splurged and paid $10 to go in a warm pool inside the weight room, only thing they wouldn't let my daughter come in with me, so this was her birthday gift for us to go on a vacation together and we couldn't even swim together. Unless we wanted to reenact the seen from the Titanic and watch our lips turn blue and freeze to death! By the end of the trip my daughter had pink eye, strep throat, and an ear infection. Oh they let me see the ship doctor, who prescribed childrens Tylenol for strep throat and only charged me $95 for that medical advice! My friend who came with us also got sick a few days after the cruise from hell. She is still sick and no one can figure out what;s wrong, I think it was from that ship. They show a movie of how they recycle the septic water to drinking water. Thats what I want to see as I sip a glass of water after throwing up from sea sickness. Made me feel so much better to know that only a few short hours ago this very water was coming out of someone's ass! Well people don't let me discourage you from cruising, just don't choose the Dawn! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
well it was my first cruise... It was great...well except for the weather, the ship rocked and rocked for at least 4 days.... loads of ppl sick. the ship itself is awesome! what a sight to see! took me a few days to find my way around...ha ... Read More
well it was my first cruise... It was great...well except for the weather, the ship rocked and rocked for at least 4 days.... loads of ppl sick. the ship itself is awesome! what a sight to see! took me a few days to find my way around...ha ha ha.. the food wasn't bad at all, lots of complaints from ppl but I actually thought it was pretty good, Cagneys Steak House was fantastic! my kids loved the cruise. The kids program is great for kids of all ages and my kids couldn't wait to go back every day! The room....lol smalllllll but clean clean clean! the housekeeping staff is outside your door almost all day to make sure u didn't need anything.. and if u did, they were right there for u. 2 THUMBS UP! The entertainment was also fabulous, great shows for all ages to enjoy! our CD Jimmy and his staff were fantastic, friendly and very entertaining! Always something to do or see on the DAWN! Just watch out for the BINGO! way way way too expensive! and u only play like 4 games during one session.... that was a rip off I thought! We were suppose to hit Bermuda for a half day then on the their private island, (GSC) and then to Nassau....but due to hurricane we had to stay in Bermuda for 3 more days which wouldn't have been bad except we had to tender to the island then back to sea at night then back to Bermuda then back to sea then back to Bermuda.....that was awful! and we really weren't given much info on what to do in Bermuda except a few shore excursions which I will get to in a minute. we stayed one night at the actual dock! but even that was awful because we couldn't dock until 8 pm and then everything on the island was closed... so there was nothing to do at all there. Watch out ppl for the shore excursions!!!!! book it yourself, DO NOT BOOK THROUGH THE CRUISE LINE! one thing we wanted to do would have cost us close to 400.00, we decided to do it ourselves and it only cost 40 bucks! that's right, 40 dollars! not sure why the cruise line wanted to charge us 400 to do something that only cost 40 bucks for a family of 4! so 2 thumbs down to NCL for that big boo boo! All I can say ppl is that if u don't mind rocking back and forth alot, NEVER EVER book a cruise in hurricane season. getting on and off the ship was no problem at all.... we got to the pier at 10:30 am, had our room keys etc... by 10:40 am, all we had to do was wait til the ship was cleared and was on board by NOON! getting off we thought was going to be bad.... they call your floor by colors, we were the last color called but we were off the ship before 11 am! so kudos to NCL for that! fantastic! So in closing let me just say that if it wasn't for the bad weather, I would have had the best time of my life! Next time I know when NOT to book a cruise. I will also book with NCL again, I loved the ship and all it had to offer..... the DRINKS were the same price as if I was in a bar in NYC...so that was cool! HAVE FUN ALL THAT WILL BE SAILING ON THE DAWN! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Hey every1, just got off the Dawn from our great cruiseee here's what I gotta say. We got to the piers around 11:45 gave our luggage to the guys to take on the ship and then headed in, went through the metal detectors and then we ... Read More
Hey every1, just got off the Dawn from our great cruiseee here's what I gotta say. We got to the piers around 11:45 gave our luggage to the guys to take on the ship and then headed in, went through the metal detectors and then we were there at the desk where we give the lady or man all of our papers and everything then we were on the ship at this time it was like 12:15 and were very impressed that we were already on the ship No1 said anything about what time the rooms would be ready so we went to our room which was 8606 and it was all ready- we put our luggage in our room and made our way to the Garden Cafe for lunch- the room was very small, we are a family of 4 and were in an obstructed ocean view room and it was tight but we made the best of it-- we asked if there were any upgrades or upsells and they said that this ship is sold out and there are no more cabins--so we just dealt with the cabin we had which was very nice but just too small for 4 people-- we are used to balcony rooms but the Dawn's balcony rooms only accommodate up to 3 people. For the restaurants we did not make any reservations till the second day of our cruise they did not let us book any till the second day for some reason and they set up a desk in the main Atrium on the second day to make reservations- I thought there would be a big line but I was actually the only person there making reservations and we booked La Trattoria and Salsas. Garden Cafe-- Garden Cafe wasn't bad but I wouldn't say it was great, the food was ok if you wanted a quick lunch and the food was pretty much the same every day with only a very few things changing-- we mostly ate in the Garden Cafe for breakfast and lunch Venetian- One of the main dining rooms-- was pretty good, excellent service, but again I wouldn't say the food was excellent it was just o.k. and whatever you do don't order the pasta or anything with tomato sauce because it taste like 1's from a jar. Also, the menu selections on some nights were not good -I had to order once from the always available menu which because I did not like any of the featured items. So, mainly food is good but not great but hey I gotta be happy cause I'm on vacation and service was excellent. La Trattoria- We ate here our second night of the cruise they had an ok selection I ordered the lasagna which the sauce tasted worse then the ones from a jar and I also ordered a pizza which tasted like one of those microwaveable 1's -- not too impressed but service was good and I gotta be happy cause im on vacation. Salsas- We ate here our 5th night of the cruise, food was ok- I ordered the ribs and was supposed to get a full rack and only got half so I asked the waiter if I can have another half a rack and he brought me out a half of a half but I ate it and I still had dessert so I was ok -- dessert I ordered which tasted like the fried noodles u get when u order chinese food with some cinnamon on them, wasn't too impressed so I ordered some ice cream which was of course good. Overall, Salsas was good but again didn't impress me. Blue Lagoon-- 24 hour place, pretty good for a late night snack wouldn't make anything from here a meal- I recommend the stir fry, tomato soup, and the wonton soup-- the wings were ok but not that great. The Chef's cakes of the day never changed and were always banana bread, vanilla pound cake, and sugar free marble pound cake- I recommend the banana cake which was very good. We tried getting chairs by the pool but this was a sold out cruise so it was nearly impossibly because all the chair hogs got up at 6 am and put there towels on all of the chairs-- so we had to think of a way to beat the chair hogs but there was no way so we had to join them and become chair hogs ourselves so that's what we did- we got up at 7am and not only laid out towels on the chairs but put shirts on them 2-- then we would go and eat breakfast- it seemed to work as we had our chairs the 2 days we were chair hogs. Bahamas-- Was ok kind of sleazy, I guess went to the Straw Market got asked a few times if I wanted to buy drugs and just walked away and didn't answer these people- although most of the people are very nice there were some trying to sell drugs to my 12 year old sister which was crazy- after the Straw Market we took a cab to the Atlantis which was very nice-- we took a cab 4 bucks per person not bad- Atlantis was nice the aquarium part was nice they also have a really nice beach and a big casino which I lost in. After Atlantis we hit a big thunderstorm, so we headed back to the ship. Great Stirrup Cay-- Nice little island they have a beach and small straw market in the back but you can't wheel and deal with these people so do all the wheelen and dealen in the Bahamas Straw Market-- they have a nice BBQ setup they also have fruit and cakes and bars all over. The day we were there in was a cloudy day and eventually started raining, so we just walked around the straw market and ate at the BBQ I would of loved to stay on the beach but the weather didn't let us Bermuda-- Had to be my favorite port- the water here is crystal clear and so niceee- nothing really to do in Kings Wharf they have a little mall at the clocktower and they have a beach called snorkel beach but we didn't want to stay at the beach all day so we took a ferry to Hamilton which is kind of the city part of Bermuda -- Hamilton is a nice little town we did all of our souvenir shopping and went in all the stores it was pretty nice we just walked around and hung out then we took the ferry back walked around kingd wharf a little more and went back on the ship-- Bermuda is very nice! We had the new Cruise Director Jimmy on board as we were his second cruise on the Dawn-- he was very nice and seemed to have everything well organized. When you see him around the ship he would always say Hi and ask how your day was. He's a nice guy. Latitudes Rewards-- We took advantage of this new thing there doing if you put $250 down on a future cruise you get $100 on board credit for the cruise you are on which isn't a bad deal since you have 250 bucks down on a next cruise plus you get 100 bucks subtracted from you final payment on the cruise you're on now. You have 18 months to book your cruise and 3 years to set sail on it. So, we'll be booking the next cruise soon. Disembarkation was fine, we were one of the first people off because when you do the Latitudes rewards they give you luggage tags which make you the first group of people that get off the ship. This was my cruise and it was a great vacation! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
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