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1,192 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

This is my ninth cruise on the DAWN. 16th with NCL. 24 overall cruises. I have come to appreciate and enjoy the ship, food, entertainment and staff of the Dawn a great deal. I give all these areas high marks. EMBARKATION: This process ... Read More
This is my ninth cruise on the DAWN. 16th with NCL. 24 overall cruises. I have come to appreciate and enjoy the ship, food, entertainment and staff of the Dawn a great deal. I give all these areas high marks. EMBARKATION: This process was a nightmare, as usual. I arrived at the pier at 10:45 AM . Not NCL's fault, but the workers at the pier, most unfriendly set of people I have ever met. Once upstairs to the Latitude area, There was the usual coffee, tea, hot chocolate set up with the additions of assorted pound cake. We were led down to the security area for check in at about noonish . I was the put on another line for the check in where I got my cards and sent to yet another line for embarkation photos. I was onboard by 12:30 and was told the cabins would not be ready till 3 PM. I waited in the Java Cafe for a little bit ordered my Vanilla Latte' and talked to Marissa and Lisa, wonderful members of the bar staff who always has a smile for me. I then decided to go up to my cabin to put away my suitcase and jacket. My cabin BA balcony was already done. The Latitude Department sent a wine and fruit basket as well as tasty treats though out the week. Cabin: The Cabin was clean and set up in a king bed configuration. I had brought along my 5 year old niece, so I decided she would sleep on the pull out couch. I left a note for the room stewards to empty the mini bar and leave the bottom section off her bed so I can use the balcony door. They were great. Mini bar was emptied that night as well as the bed set up. She was also treated to towel animals every night. Off to the balcony for some last minute phone calls and a glass of wine. I did notice that the balcony was freshly painted and the railings were all varnished. The furniture was clean. Muster drill was at 3:30 PM. Restaurant reservations were being taken in Salsas the entire week. The Internet Cafe ran a special today only that if you signed up for a package you got additional free minutes. The largest packed offered is 250 minutes for $100- with 20 minutes free. If your a Latitude member, just tell the manager and you get another 20 minutes free. Cruise Rewards program is back up to $250 deposit with a $100- OBC right then. It's a great program if you plan to sail NCL within the next 2.5 years. That $250- deposit holds an entire cabin for you regardless of how many ore in it. No extra deposit is required. Things I noticed most since the dry dock. Impression of Italy was the biggest change. There are now 3 TV's in Pearly Kings Pub. The paint and railings all look fantastic. The ship was very clean and I always saw workers cleaning inside and out. The upholstery in the Garden Cafe is all new and so far spotless. The Garden Cafe seemed to have the most changes besides the new upholstering's, there are no more trays and no more railings to run your try along. The food was fantastic and I loved the variety offered each meal. Tonight's show was the Welcome Board show hosted by Matt Baker our cruise director. ITINERARY: The ports of call (NY, 1 Sea Days, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay, 1 Sea Day, Bermuda, 1 Sea Day, NY ) FIRST SEA DAY: They had NO trivia in Pearly Kings at 9 AM this cruise :( I am horrible at trivia, but as a morning person it was fun to watch. 1 PM Latitudes party. Free drinks, Dance contest, raffles and just an over all good time. we met the Captain and his head officers including the Hotel Director Jacques Le Tallec, Food and Beverage JP Seidel and his staff, Matt Baker the Cruise Director and many and his staff. Tonight was also the VIP party with again the Captain and the staff. I didn't like that this was on the same day as the Latitudes party, seemed like too much scheduling for one day. I liked it much better when it was later in the week. Evening attire "dress up" I saw everything to formal gowns to jeans. That's the best about NCL. The one thing I did notice was a man in Pearly Kings who told me he had only brought on shorts, no pants at all, due to the "whatever" ads and he was not admitted to the dining rooms. I don't know if he was actually turned away or just didn't take the chance? I ate at Impression of Italy. I was so happy to see the Italian restaurant finally getting it's own permanent place. The new menu is fantastic with table side service of the antipasto. Very nice touch! Nassau: I pre-booked the zoo and garden excursion. It was a nice trip around Nassau by bus and then 1.5 hours in the zoo itself. There are plenty of beautiful birds loose and you can feed the parrots at a certain time. There are also Flamingos walking around and some beautiful peacocks. The restrooms were clean, there is a gift shop as well as a concession stand to get a cold drink. Great Stirrup Cay - Beautiful beach day. I was on one of the first tenders out to the island, They have added lounge chairs to the island which was very nice for those of us who hate the low sand beach chairs. They had tandem Parasailing going on, a great BBQ and plenty of activities throughout the day. There is a straw market tucked in the back which sold just about everything, as well as hair braiding. We returned to the ship and decided to check out the T-Rex kids pool area. On the bottom there is a see saw, and another play apparatus. Up the stairs there is 2 large slides that went into there own pool on either side of a nice sized kids pool that only went to about 2.5 feet deep and a hot tub. The area was well maintained and very clean. There is a shower there also. There is a smaller slide into a smaller pool for younger children (maybe the 2-4 year olds) Sea Day - My niece spent all three sessions in Kids Club. They were just fantastic and kept the children very busy and well entertained. They were open 9-noon, 2-5 and then 7-10 pm. You could have kept your child there till 1 am for an extra fee. Kings Wharf, Bermuda- We just walked around the Dockyard and did some shopping. We headed for the Clocktowers, where there are a lot of the same stores that are in Hamilton. I was told that since not many ships will be in Hamilton anymore, more and more will be moving to the Dockyard. We also spent a lot of time at the Glass Works shop and watched them make the most beautiful things. Tonight was Le Bistro. Fantastic as usual and yes they have the chocolate fondue, just ask. SEA DAY - Another fantastic day at kids club. They had a Pirate Parade in the morning, Dora surprise in the afternoon and a pajama party at night. Today was the Chocoholic buffet. It was a big hit as usual. The line went around to the gift shop and back through the atrium. Tonight was the second "dress up" night. I found more people were dressed up tonight then on the first "dress up" night. The show tonight was Bollywood and the tribute by the Officers, staff and crew. This a MUST DO event. Debarkation tags were in the cabin last night. Packing started and we were sailing on what seemed like glass. The pool deck was packed, even though it was chilly. Yes the CHAIR HOGS are still here. I was doing the last minute packing and writing out thank you cards. Debarkation- Easy as usual. I noticed a lot of people did self-debark that was promoted the second to last day. Once off there were more than enough porters ready to help. SHIP and STAFF: I appreciate all the updates that took place in the short time of dry dock. It has really made a difference seeing my last cruise on the Dawn was only 6 weeks ago. I always enjoy everything about this ship. The food was consistently top notch. The staff was always friendly and helpful and made me feel like I was truly a welcomed guest aboard the ship. There were plenty of activities to enjoy aboard ship on the days at sea. The movie theatre had a good selection of current movies, as well as 2 movie channels on the stateroom televisions. Kids Club was just fantastic with the kids and they never seemed bored. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We sailed on June 16 from NY on an air-cruise package from NCL. A NCL rep was waiting for us at La Guardia baggage claim. Everything was a breeze. We were at the pier by 2pm and in our cabin by 2:45! The line appeared long upon arrival, ... Read More
We sailed on June 16 from NY on an air-cruise package from NCL. A NCL rep was waiting for us at La Guardia baggage claim. Everything was a breeze. We were at the pier by 2pm and in our cabin by 2:45! The line appeared long upon arrival, but moved rapidly. Freestyle cruising was a relaxing change from the Carnival cruise we enjoyed previously. We made dinner reservations for the first two nights upon boarding and then explored the ship. Saturday evening- Le Bistro. Fantastic service and superb meal. One tip-ask for regular water to avoid being charged for bottled or mineral water at dinner. The chocolate fondue for dessert is delicious! Sunday- Day at sea was great. Breakfast at Venetian was peaceful and of better quality than the Garden Cafe buffet. Look for dolphins behind the boat! Lobster night in Aqua was decent. Monday- Enjoyed massages at the spa before reaching the Bahamas. Fantastic and reasonably priced!! Dolphin Encounter in Nassau was worth every penny. Dinner at Salsa was delicious... the best golden margaritas ever! Tuesday- First tender to Great Stirrup Cay. Loved parasailing and enjoyed the beautiful beach. Went back to the Dawn for a late lunch and enjoyed the pool and hot tub without the crowds! Wait for disembarkation on the bench seats in the hallway by Le Bistro. It is a straight shot down the steps to the gangways! No crowd, no standing around in stairwells. Had dinner at Cagney's late that night. Delicious! Have a martini at the Star Bar first, very romantic! Wednesday- Day at sea. Enjoyed the pool deck, played some shuffleboard and bingo. Enjoyed the adults only hot tub at the front of the ship. Dinner at Bamboo was terrific! Thursday- Bermuda was lovely! Took a bus tour to Horseshoe Beach. Enjoyed the ride and driver information as much as the amazing pink sand. Went back and took advantage of an empty ship again. Poolside seats and pina coladas. It was like we had the ship to ourselves! Dinner at Salsa again, we enjoyed it so much the first time and NO COVER! Friday- At sea. Weather was windy and cool, so we stayed indoors. Lost at bingo, but had some luck with the slots. Dinner at Bamboo again. You have to try to squid appetizer and banana spring rolls for dessert! Saturday- Did not want to return to reality, but disembarkation was amazingly efficient. No complaints. Freestyle is great! We had our doubts after reading some of the reviews on this website. The surcharge restaurant meals were well worth the extra expense. Alcohol was reasonably priced. Service was very good. Garden Cafe or Bimini Grill was convenient and tasty for lunch each day. The entertainment was good. We went to most evening shows in the Stardust. Our favorites were Band on the Run and Second City. The Dawn is beautiful and immaculate. The crew were friendly and hard working. Matt Baker (wikki wikki waa) and his staff were lots of fun. A cruise is as relaxing or as busy as you want it to be. NCL makes it easy to set your own pace and enjoy yourself. We certainly did! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We live in Malawi in Africa, and this was our first time on a cruise. We chose Norwegian Dawn because of Freestyle cruising and having a friend we wanted to visit in New York + a bit of a yen to see Bermuda in particular. I love ... Read More
We live in Malawi in Africa, and this was our first time on a cruise. We chose Norwegian Dawn because of Freestyle cruising and having a friend we wanted to visit in New York + a bit of a yen to see Bermuda in particular. I love researching holidays, and cruise sites like this one were happy hunting grounds for me! Embarkation was a pretty good experience, though it looked pretty grim at first sight. We got there at 10.00am just as things were opening so, not surprisingly, we were near the front of the queue. Half an hour later would probably have been a better idea as they had to finish letting people off before we could get on. They took our passports away at this point, which always spooks those of us who live in this part of the world. The next day we started to worry about the requirement for photo id at immigration as the passports were our only photo ids. I went to the guest services counter & they explained we would all be receiving a photocopy of the passport id page later that evening. I used guest services about 5 times during the cruise- ten out of ten every time. Ports of call We didn't really like the look of Nassau very much, but we had a fantastic time on the America's Cup activity- highly recommended for all ages from about 10 upwards. One of the crew turned out to have a brother in law living in the same city as us (Lilongwe). It was really beautiful to be on these yachts with mighty masts and working the winches etc + the sense of a race all added fun and spice. Private Island was a bit of a misnomer for us. Two thousand eight hundred passengers on one beach is private??? However, it was very pleasant and beautiful water. Mighty long wait to return on the tender boats though. I had a nice walk to the lighthouse on the other side of the island. A hat was a must- the sun is really strong. Bermuda- we really loved this island- just what we hoped it would be. I used the official website to choose a lovely beach area called Jobson's cove next to Warwick Long beach. Taxi drivers very friendly and reliable about coming back for us. Also walked around Hamilton and generally really liked everything about the island and also the Naval Dockyard where we docked. Had a E3 bus to Greenford in the dockyard for some reason- that was the bus I used to catch to school when I lived in London! The cruise and the ship We loved it. We all did our own things to a great extent, and met up for meals- I loved hanging around the spa ($15 per day seemed fine to me for almost exclusive use of pools and spas and saunas + i could pop up to the gym too.) I would have liked a bit more in the way of intellectually stretching or cultural activities but they did lay on a load of things every day. My wife mainly wanted to read and relax on the balcony but did pilates, golf lessons etc. A balcony is a must in our opinion- we had a mini suite between three of us and didn't feel too cramped though we are used to living in big, airy houses over here. Very well designed cabin and excellently constructed- no noise insulation problems. Our daughter (11 years old) never wanted to leave the kids club. She really liked having fairly narrow age bands like 9-12 years. Very good entertainment and theatre quality but we did lodge a complaint about people being allowed in late- we tried sitting at the front to minimize the sense of disruption this caused but some of these people went searching for a seat at the front even though they were late. At least 100 people came in during the first half hour of every show we watched- because they knew they could. Very unfair on the performers. We mainly ate evening meals in the specialty restaurants- liked them all especially Le Bistro. Found evening meal at the Venetian (free) less impressive than the menu sounded. The buffet for lunch was a great choice we thought despite many negative reviews I had read. Venetian and room service excellent for breakfast. We didn't think this was a great way to meet people as freestyle means families tending to dine together and our experience was lots of pleasant "drift in, drift out" conversations with fellow passengers rather than deep and meaningful stuff. Actually, we rather liked the sense of reserve we felt to be there. Thought it might be a bit of a New Yorker thing as most passengers were from there. I really have to admire the way America manages to create fantastic value for money aimed squarely at the middle end of the market people like us.I really thought the cruise was superb value though we did run up quite a bill as one tends to do on holiday! Cruise director (Matt baker) was a tour de force- we really admired his skill in so many different situations. Disembarkation a breeze. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We were on the May 5-13 sailing. I have been on on 25 or 30 ships (including troop ships - as a "passenger"). Yes, I'm getting on in age. The embarkation in NY, was as usual a bit confusing. However, it is really not ... Read More
We were on the May 5-13 sailing. I have been on on 25 or 30 ships (including troop ships - as a "passenger"). Yes, I'm getting on in age. The embarkation in NY, was as usual a bit confusing. However, it is really not painful. Parking at the pier is easy. You drop off your companion and all your luggage - you'll see it next outside your cabin door. Finding parking is easy. There are clear signs to the parking area. When parked take the escalator and meet your traveling companion. Check-in was simple, but we were supposed to get a VIP line, which did not occur. In any case, it was only 1/2 hour check-in. Rather than wait until they let passengers on the ship, we went for a walk along the pier. If you go to the right out of the terminal there is a nice park a few blocks away. Just remember to get back to the ship. We elected to eat lunch at Windows and were very pleased. We got a table along the back window, and had a very nice lunch. Our cabin was an OS. The room is divided in two, with a separating door. When you enter, there a dining area, table, four chairs. Also, this area has its own 1/2 bathroom. Straight ahead is the living room area. There is a love sofa, two nice chairs, cocktail table, TV, and entrance to balcony. The balcony is much smaller that that on the Dawn. The bedroom and bath areas were in the other half of the cabin. The bedroom is queen bed. There are plenty of drawers and storage areas. There is also a second TV, and a second phone. The bathroom was great. There is hot-tub with two large windows. Shower was huge (for a ship), enough room for 2 people. Best part was a porthole in the shower, which when we returned to NY, I saw Lady Liberty from. Two sinks are also provided (nice). The butler, Christina, was very nice; however, we are not into room service. We did not use her much, except to keep the frig filled with ginger ale. Lisa Meyer, the concierge (sp), was also very nice. Always smiling, full of energy, and meeting your requests. The cabin steward, Ricardo, was as usual for cabin stewards, excellent. The ship, in general, was as most cruise ships, clean and well maintained. The entertainment was good not great. We enjoy almost every act that tries hard. We may not like that particular performance, but if they clearly are doing their best, we accept that. On this ship, there are 3 acts other that the ships company. 1) Second city was good with a standard show for impromptu acts. 2) Sharkbait a juggling act was very good in the main show room. Funny and enjoyable. We did not go to their show on deck 12. 3) Steve Treage (sp) is a good classically trained singer. Don't want to be snobbish, but some opera arias are not for cruise ships. Most of his stuff was Broadway songs. His Old Man River was very good. The NCL production company was long on energy, but short on talent. I enjoy any hi-energy show, so I was pleased with them. The food was good. I liked the station setup in the buffet. You can skip the long lines and go directly to the food you want. Also, they have 2 cooks at every lunch. One Wok, and one craving some kind of chicken dish. Of course, they have all the usual buffet stuff. One thing, they really need to give out treys. Carrying a plate full of food can be tricky. We liked Cagney's T-bone very much, and Asian Shogun was very good. Food in the main restaurants was always good, with very good service. excursions - Bermuda was rained out. Tortola - The ship booked snorkel on the Endeavor was excellent. Very good crew, and some great snorkeling. They take you to 2 sites. One good, and one great. The great one is to the "caves". You swim into the caves for a different snorkel adventure. Outside the caves the water is xtal clear to about 40 feet. Tons of fish. I saw 2 barracudas plus a wide variety of fish. St Thomas - We went to Coral world by cab ($9.00 per person) and walked to Coki beach (about 100 yards). Great beach - enjoy. Debarkation - great, we got VIP off. In 20 mins were off ship, and on NJ Turnpike. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Embarkation was a breeze. A work pal and I took different modes of transport to NY. I was afraid that Ernesto would hamper air travel from DC, so took Amtrak, she kept her flight without any delays or problems. We met at the pier at 11 am ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze. A work pal and I took different modes of transport to NY. I was afraid that Ernesto would hamper air travel from DC, so took Amtrak, she kept her flight without any delays or problems. We met at the pier at 11 am and were on board by 1:00. (The ship was 2 hours late arriving. We did hear that folks arriving later than us waited in line for longer). We first ate at the buffet on the 12th floor, then went on a self guided toured of the ship. We were able to make reservations for the gourmet restaurants in the lobby, which was quick, painless and easier than traveling to each restaurant. St. Thomas: I took the excursion which offered a ferry to St. John and then a bus ride to the National Park. Not to be missed it's gorgeous. Rain showers put a damper on swimming the full afternoon, but it was well worth the time and cost. Tortola: Took an excursion to the beach, Garden Bay. It was delightful! I loved the water; there were stands to purchase trinkets at the beach. Outside of the pier, there was a straw market set up on return from the excursion. Again, trinkets were available for purchase. I found the sellers willing to discount items. Getting on and off the ship in Bermuda was a breeze. This time I walked ten minutes to the Snorkel Park and was not disappointed at all. The water was as beautiful as expected and there were multitudes of fish to see. The Park also offers slides for children. There is no charge to enter the Park, rental fees for chairs and umbrellas. Snack bar doesn't sell bottled water, but juices and sodas. Food prices were extremely high at the snack bar, so eat at the ship first (hot dogs $6, hamburgers $8.50). The gym provided all the equipment anyone could want. The Aquaswim was a great alternative to the pool if you wanted to swim for exercise. There are two and a sign reads, ½ hour limit per person. It was great! The shows were ok and entertaining. The comedy shows were ok. I missed Radio Days which other folks on the ship loved. Cagney's 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. ($20-$25) Sushi Bar: Was outstanding! The two chefs were efficient and friendly. The al la carte menu is so inexpensive and there is an extensive menu. This was my favorite spot for lunch. ($2 per order) Service was outstanding! Shogun: Offers a selection of Chinese dishes and you can also order Sushi. ($12.50-$15). Service was outstanding! La Trattoria: Requires reservations but there is no charge. They petition off about 25% of the buffet and offer Italian dishes. The food was ok but service was outstanding! The Main dining rooms were as busy and hectic as you would expect. The food quality was ok and I wasn't impressed with the service but for the price, how can you beat it? The restaurants and buffet food was much better than I anticipated after being on the Dawn in June. In fact it was great! The buffet: For breakfast there is made to order omelets and waffles and at lunch made to order stir fry noodles. Tea time offered the usual assortment of pastries and my favorite scones with cream hand dipped ice cream and tea sandwiches. The Bar above the pool has a grill which served pork burgers and sausages and fries, daily for lunch. The quality of pork burgers was excellent and this place offered a variety of interesting salads and sauces each day. In a nutshell, I wasn't anticipating the great quality and variety of the food on the Spirit, so I was well pleased and surprised. NCL should take a look at the differences between the offerings on the Dawn and Spirit and get the Spirit chefs on board! The cruise offered the typical contests by the pool each day at sea. The casino was a lot of fun and the machines were hitting enough that folks kept at it. They have the ticket in ticket out system for ease. They offered a Texas Holder tournament, a slot tournament and a Black jack Tournament. All were great fun! Disembarkment NYC was simple and timely - we choose Express and were in taxis by 8:30am. All in all the cruise was so much better than expected. The ports were excellent as were the gourmet restaurants. It's ironic that the Dawn is rated higher (June cruise) as the Spirit was delightful and less expensive. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Background Information: My husband and I are both in our early 30s and we were among the few New Jersey residents on our voyage. This was my fourth cruise (two previous cruises on NCL), but this was my husband's first cruise. Travel ... Read More
Background Information: My husband and I are both in our early 30s and we were among the few New Jersey residents on our voyage. This was my fourth cruise (two previous cruises on NCL), but this was my husband's first cruise. Travel to Port of Embarkation: Due to reading cruise critic, I discovered the idea of traveling to the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal in Weehawken, NJ and taking the ferry to Manhattan. First of all, this avoids all NY and tunnel for people traveling outside of NY and second, it is less expensive. A roundtrip ferry tickets cost $11 (a coupon is available in the entertainment book for buy one get one free) and parking is $66 for the week. We walked to the pier (about 10 minute walk), but a taxi would've only been $5. Embarkation Process: We arrived at the pier at noon and the first group had already started boarding. We waited about 40 minutes before the let us into the registration line because of a computer malfunction on the NCL end for registration and key card. Once in that area, there was a separate latitudes line (much shorter) breezing through and we were on the ship and eating lunch by 1:25pm. The rooms were ready by 2:00 pm. Ship Info: The Dawn is a beautiful ship. Yes, it is a large ship but after a few days you become accustomed to the ship and realize how easy it is to maneuver. The workers were persistently working to maintain the ship from varnishing the wood rails to painting the outside while we were docked. The facilities were top notch, a large gym for those inclined to use it and a beautiful spa for those desiring the extra pampering. True, the pool should be larger for the amount of guest and there never seemed to be enough lounge chairs by the pool. To me, I was happy sitting on my balcony and it never bothered me plus I was glad to have a slight shield from the sun. Stateroom: Our balcony stateroom was mid-ship on the port side and we couldn't have been more pleased by the size. The bed was large and comfortable. We had a lovely sitting area with a desk and the balcony was adequate in size for two people. We had plenty of room to unpack all of our suitcases in the drawers and the closet. I did bring extra hangers from home to supplement the supply of hangers. We brought a power strip for extra outlets. We had a refrigerator where we stored plenty of bottled water we brought from home. The hair dryer was adequate in power. The bathroom was nicely laid out in three parts, shower, sink, and toilet. We had plenty of room for all our toiletries. Conditioning shampoo and shower gel is provided via a dispenser. We brought our own toiletry supplies so I cannot comment on the quality of those items. Over all, we were pleased with our stateroom. Dining: One's dining experience on a cruise is very subjective. Overall, we were pleased with our meals on the Dawn. We ate most breakfasts in the Venetian (the main dining room) and enjoyed our meals. The Cooking Light pancakes are very good. The scrambled eggs leave a bit to be desired but fried eggs are cooked well&.on NCL, tell them well done instead of over hard if you don't want your yolk to run. My husband enjoyed the coffee and I enjoyed the tea selection from the wooden chest, a special touch that always reminds me of my first cruise. Room service serves a nice continental breakfast which we enjoyed on our balcony one morning. However, it was a bit difficult for two people to eat on the balcony with the small table provided. Lunches in the Venetian were very good. The final day at sea they served a Thai chicken salad with a citrus vinaigrette and mango which tasted incredible. We ate lunch once at the Bimini Grill (hamburgers and fries were good), Blue Lagoon (hot dogs were quite tasty) and once at the buffet not quite so successful. We did not try the fresh deli section of the buffet so I cannot comment on those items. We enjoyed our meals at Cagney's, Le Bistro, and the hibachi room at Bamboo. The hibachi room at Bamboo was well worth the $12/person charge for shrimp and filet mignon. The chef was entertaining and the food tasted incredible. The fried rice rivals any hibachi restaurant on shore and there was an abundance of food you don't find at home. Dinner in the traditional dining rooms also was very good. We preferred the smaller atmosphere of Aqua to the business of the Venetian. Next time, we will try Impressions. Salsa (the Tex-Mex restaurant) had excellent appetizers and desserts but the entrees fell a bit short. The sangria more than made up for the entrees. The soda card is worth it for soda drinkers. Even if you do not break even ($40.25 and each soda is about $1.75 with a tip), it is more convenient than signing for a soda every time you wanted one. Service: We had exceptional service from our cabin stewards to the wait staff in the restaurants. Our room was kept spotless the entire cruise¬ a speck of sand remained from our beach excursions in Bermuda. Our stewards were James and Cesar and they were incredible. Our room was always ready when we needed it to be. Everyone had a dial near their door on the outside to communicate with your stewards; you need to use it to let them know that you are not in your room. The waiters and waitresses worked hard and were extremely accommodating. Room service always arrived in a timely fashion. Everyone had a smile and friendly words. Activities: We enjoyed our time on the cruise. We went to the casino and though I was disappointed there were no $5 blackjack tables, we managed to have fun at a Let it Ride table with some friendly dealers. There was an abundance of slot machines with a good variety. We also played bingo with the old fashioned paper cards and though we lost, we had a good time. For anyone scheduled to go on the Dawn and enjoy martinis, you must go the martini tasting $15 for 4 good sized martinis and you get to learn a little bit about how to make them. It was quite an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. One down note the internet café was a bit slow. Here's a tip if you bring your own laptop write your e-mails in a word document offline and then send them on line. You'll save some minutes. Entertainment: The entertainment on the ship was outstanding as most NCL cruises are. Bollywood (the big production show) was breathtaking and we were all amazed that they did it all on a moving ship. The Second City Comedy Troupe did a skit and improve show that was hilarious, we are still laughing about it a week later. The juggler (Romano Frederiani) and the magician (Matthew Fallon) both were excellent. The night game shows were enjoyable and we had the most fun just watching other people at the game show. Jimmy did a great job as cruise director considering he has only been on the ship a short time. Shore Excursions: We originally had shore excursions booked but all were cancelled. We were slated to go on the Bermuda Bell Helmet dive but that was cancelled due to a medical emergency of the operator. We had shore excursions planned for the private island and the Bahamas but we never made it to those destinations due to the hurricane. NCL handled the itinerary change the best they could and we were pleased the outcome. We stayed the entire time in Bermuda and enjoyed paradise on our own (who could complain?) We bought a two day travel pass and explored Bermuda on our own. We had a great time and are looking forward to returning to Bermuda. Disembarkation: We did express disembarkation and carried our luggage off the ship. From the announcement to the time off the ship was about 20-30 minutes. The worst part was waiting for an elevator to go to the deck where the gangway was located. We took a cab to the ferry terminal and we were home in NJ by 10:30 am, leaving the ship's stateroom at about 9:00 am. Summary: A cruise is what you want it to be. We made the most of it and had a blast. Do attend the cruise critic meet and greet. Thanks to Sherrie for arranging it for our cruise. We met two other young couples and enjoyed their company throughout the remainder of the cruise. If you plan on cruising again, do the cruise rewards program. It is a $250 deposit on your next cruise but you'll receive a $100 instant ship board credit for the cruise you are on and you'll be automatically upgraded to Latitudes Gold for the next cruise. It's a win-win situation. On our cruise there were a few changes&.sangria in Salsa is now only by the glass not by the pitcher, Latitudes members no longer get a 15% discount at the Spinnaker lounge, and there were no 2 for 1 offer for early dining at the specialty restaurants. Our cruise was completely sold out so they may have made these changes due to the booked status of the ship. We can't wait to return to the Dawn! Read Less
Sail Date August 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
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
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
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
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