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571 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

The week before my cruise left,  someone came on this board ranting about how bad the Dawn was, with no supporting facts. I am not saying the ship is terrible, but it is lacking. I am not a really picky traveler- But I am very observant, ... Read More
The week before my cruise left,  someone came on this board ranting about how bad the Dawn was, with no supporting facts. I am not saying the ship is terrible, but it is lacking. I am not a really picky traveler- But I am very observant, and really get peeved when the basics are missed. A little background, my husband and I love to travel. We are 38/43 y/o and have no children. We take at least 3 vacations a year, with at least one being a cruise or all inclusive to someplace warm. We are native New Yorkers. NCL Dawn: This is a ship that was built for Free Style Cruising. I have free styled before on the NCL Sea in 2001, but that ship was not built for Free Style. This was my 5th Cruise .  We sailed from NY to Bermuda for 7 days starting on May 17th 2009. We missed the staff at the meet and greet for Cruise Critics- we were a bit late.. but it was nice to meet other  reviewers. I almost feel bad my review is so negative, but nothing really impressed me about this ship ROOMs/SERVICE: Balcony Cabin 9180: Check in went very smooth and quick. Our room was 'ready' by 2:00pm. As I was putting my luggage under the bed- I discovered the mat that should have been put on the bed, to protect the bedding from the luggage.(Little late) . Check out bathroom - the shower had not been cleaned. There was still someone's belongings in there (empty shampoo bottle, a scrunchy, used wash cloth-)  I call housekeeping and report it. Leave for about 2 hours ,return, still the same. After  turn down service = still the same. Called again.. Next morning's scheduled cleaning finally took care of it, after I left a note stuck to the shower door. (don't forget to pack the post it notes!) This is the first cruise we have been on that we NEVER met our room steward, don't know his name. and wasn't too impressed with the service.  As the week went on, we never had our allotted towel supply (2 bath and 2 face and 2 wash clothes) . We always had to dismantle the towel animals to replenish our towel supply.  (are they kidding??) it was VERY frustrating. I should have lowered his tip - but I know he worked hard to keep the room clean and gets paid squat.. so I didnt make a big deal out of it. Compared to Carnival: The rooms are definitely smaller.. On the plus side though- the balcony has sliders (on Carnival they have swing doors which take up space) .and the chairs on the deck are much more comfortable.  They don't have the magnetized door stop (common on Carnival) so there is a lot more door slamming- as people coma and go from their cabins. Kiwi - the 'shopping ' guru- supplied wrong facts about where ships were going to be in port - we all awoke Friday am to the Princess   Caribbean Princess being in port and another 3,000 people trying to get to other 'parts' of Bermuda.  He recommended everyone go to St George on Friday since there will be no ships there, well we went on Wednesday and watched the last ship leave, and had the whole town to ourselves. If you waited til Friday- the wait for the ferry/bus would be crazy.  Sinan "Bingo Boy-" Assistant Cruise Director thinks "bleating' like a goat is a pleasant thing to hear multiple times over - and the MSOT annoying giggle. White Hot party- last day at sea, tell us at end of cruise to save something white to wear.. petty, but annoying! If you purchased liquor on board, you have to line up and pick it up yourself the last night at sea. It was highly unorganized and again disappointing. Hundreds of bags/boxes lined up in no particular order. SPA: Upon arriving on the ship I wanted to make my appointment. I am offered the first one tomorrow morning.. The appointment was for 8:00 am then later that evening they announced we had to set our clocks ahead- which meant I had to get up for a 7:00 am  appt. (she could have mentioned that!) . They also promised a wakeup call- which never happened. Had I missed my appointment I would have had to pay. Luckily my brain was still in 'work mode' and woke me up at 5:45- which was now 6:45- so I made it to my appt in time. The hot stone massage was okay. The room was noisy- the music was too tinny  .Music not very 'spa-ey' almost Mexican lots of drums. Someone was vacuuming the room next door!! SHIP LAYOUT: On the deck with most of the restaurants and lounges, casino etc.. it is a very congested layout. It has everyone funneling thru a very tight space-  make a left then a right - at the 'intersection' is the entry to Le Bistro and outside this area is a lounge so people stop to listen to the music and it creates amazing congestion.  Poor use of deck space: Wide open spaces with no chairs- very few 'shady' spots. Don't get me started on the Garden Villas (end of review) Walking track- 7th level Promenade- tunnel-like one lane wide at some points. Jogging Track - 13th level - goes thru upper pool deck - very heavy traffic /obstacles. FOOD: RESTAURANTS: The champagne when you board-  nice touch. Sprinkles: Ice Cream Parlor- open 12 - 5. And one scoop is basically a tablespoon of ice cream. I finally learned to ask for 3 scoops so some ice-cream would actually peak out of the top of the cone. I guess I got  spoiled with the self serve 24 on Carnival ships- although  they had interesting flavors and it's not soft serve. Cannot comment on the soft serve at the buffet, since it never seemed open when I was there. Trying to save money- decided to try Aqua- there was a 45 minute wait for a table. (6:30 arrival) Venetian for Breakfast- watery scrambled eggs from the buffet.. Venetian for Dinner- very good. Food is on par with other ships. Food in Dining Rooms is equivalent to Carnival , although service again was questionable. Slow, disorganized. But not too bad. Same food everynight with one 'specail' lacks imagination and kind of forces people to buffet it or pay for it. Formal Night.. it was a little weird the wait-staff was wearing T-shirts advertising the Monte Carlo pm. Even the piped in music in the Venetian dining room was WEIRD - U2- Talking Heads, Elton John- its like someone's ipod set on random..Make a play list! With dinner appropriate music Chocolate Buffet- all 4 stations of the Garden Cafe are open, but for most meals only one station was open and the dessert was clear on the other side of the ship. Pool Side BBQ- the daily newsletter says it is open from Noon until whenever and my husband and I joked that it would be opt until 'whenever- Joann gets there' needless to say it closed right when we decided to eat which was 1:30. I wouldn't exactly call that 'whenever' Blue Lagoon: open 24 hours. When the whole day was a wash due to rain, the dining room was only open for 1.5 hours for lunch (ok on a sunny day- cause most people are not going to dress to go eat) but they need to recognize it's raining and people may want to take advantage of the dining room. We went to Blue Lagoon and it was Crazy busy. This is just poor planning. PAY RESTAURANTS: Cagney's- Outstanding steak. Excellent service. Outstanding food. Delicious.                       Teppanyaka-our chef must have still been in training- he wasn't very good at the 'show' of the hibachi table. The food was excellent.  I feel NCL had a good concept for free style, but have turned it into an opportunity to charge more money for what was once standard in cruising. The lack of menu choices, the waits, I truly am not a convert to Free Style. I missed shows due to unexpected waits for tables. I really don't think I mind knowing I have to eat at 6:30 with a bunch of strangers, since I know after that I will get to see the show. I don't see it as a 'schedule' as much as a 'no-brainer' - as opposed to figuring our where are you going to eat and fit in the show also. SHOWS: First show of the cruise, Kevin Neenen, He was very funny, but seating was tough - everyone stuck to the end of the rows and they should have asked people to move in to allow every seat to be filled . Luckily we had eaten at Tappenyaki and we had met  a very nice family who had booked  a Garden Villa-(more on that later), so we got to sit with them in their reserved seats. The Band on the Run show was very entertaining. Missed most of the other due to conflicts with dinner/other commitments. TOURS: Bus Tour- Overview of Bermuda. Okay but its basically a 5-hour bus ride around Bermuda, with some interesting tidbits thrown in. Can't say it's worth the money, a  good tour book and the daily pass for the buses and ferry could have accomplished the same thing for a lot less price. But we did stop in St. George on a Good day when there were no boats in dock . Glass Bottom Bermuda Triangle- Captain Kirk - Tells us most Bermudians, don't believe in Bermuda Triangle, but  quick enough to sell the tour. Suppose to be a cash bar- one drink and then they had none left. Expected more information on the Bermuda Triangle. Same information from the bus tour was hoping for more affordable drinks- wound up with one free Rum Swizzle. Ferries- and Buses- buy the daily pass and go explore. The buses all link and the ferries are very relaxing. Everyone is helpful . The review of my ship basically ends here- unless you are interested in the Garden Villa cabins. Any questions feel free to contact me. The Garden Villa- We had met 'Ed' and after the show on the first night he invited us to his cabin for a nightcap. I'm thinking I couldn't invite someone to my balcony cabin cause someone of the 3 would have to sit on the bed. But we take the elevator (need a room key to access the 14th deck!) Keeping in mind I did not see the 'bedroom's" this was the most AMAZING space on a ship, but also the BIGGEST waste of space. Just keep in mind, while laying around the pool, those curved mirrored windows overlooking you is the Garden Villas! As you enter and turning to the left you pass the 3 bedrooms (each with its own Bathroom- with tubs and showers) then a full galley (that's ship-talk for a kitchen) you then enter this grand space.. a dining room table, serving area, grand piano, huge desk (laptop and internet provided) full bar - choice of 6 bottles. couch, various chairs.. AMAZING. It includes full butler and concierge service, and room service from the restaurant menus if that is what you want. If you were to go to the right and thru the next door you are now in the 'garden' full 8 person Jacuzzi, 2 picnic tables that seat 6 and 4 respectfully. 4 lounge chairs with cushions (much better than those on the deck) a trellis with vines - a sauna.. statuary, fountains.. you get the picture! You can then climb the stairs and there is a TREMENDOUS deck - the equivalent of the Sports deck from the back of the ship- which is just wide-open space! Unbelievable.. this was truly over the top, and this guy agreed, there is no point in this space!!I truly felt like I was traveling in steerage after visiting this mecca of indulgence Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
First off, although this review is going to come out negative, I want to start by saying the staff, the facilities, shows, etc were all pretty much flawless for us.   We had no problems with anyone and enjoyed ourselves on our 7 day ... Read More
First off, although this review is going to come out negative, I want to start by saying the staff, the facilities, shows, etc were all pretty much flawless for us.   We had no problems with anyone and enjoyed ourselves on our 7 day Bermuda cruise on the Dawn.   Our problem all relate to NCL and maybe the whole "freestyle cruising" concept as it relates to us.   That and the nitpicking extra fees they hit you with everywhere.   It really did get to the point where my wife & I had running jokes about what extra things they'd charge you for next.As for background, this was my 3rd cruise (RC & a small local outfit in South America  a few years back).   My wife had also gone on a Holland America cruise and another NCL with her family prior to us getting married.   We had wanted to go to Bermuda and had considered flying but liked we could take one locally without having to book airline fares and could just take a train to NYC to catch it.   We weren't overly particular about when we went and booked online about a month prior after having considered the RC one out of Bayonne.   We liked the extra day this one offered in Bermuda and were actually as equally curious about trying a different linenot to say we had any problems with RC which was my first cruise about 3 years ago and I loved.   We booked a balcony and ended up on the 10th floor.Others have commented that the shows hadn't been updated or whatever.  We hadn't seen them so they were all new to us.   They were very good in our opinion.  Our room was always clean and our room steward couldn't have been friendlier.  The tours we took were fine (maybe pricey but we knew that when we booked).   Generally speaking the staff were friendly.   But that's about where the good really ends.As I said, we wanted the extra day in Bermuda so took NCL's trip vs the RC which only gave 2 days in Bermuda.  But why does this ship deliberately take an extra day to get there?   Out of Boston, they give 4 days in Bermuda on a 7 day trip.  And seeing as they return a day quicker than to get there, it's not an issue of distance to get there.  Do they just want you in their casinos an extra day?   Is it getting the docking at King's Wharf an extra day?  I really don't know, but is annoying.  But at least we knew this was the case up front.   But the things we didn't know all started to add up such that the "nit picks" became irritating.    Biggest on this list is the food.   If your a vegetarian like my wife, don't even consider this boat.   Unless you like buffet dining, you'll go away hungry.   She's no fanatic about pushing her views on others, but because the 2 general dining rooms have fixed menus every day of the week, she had one choice each on each of those menusand one was macaroni & cheese!!!!   Now they claim you can go to all the special restaurants but in checking the menu's on them, unless she wanted spaghetti (italian restaurant) or a vegetarian burrioto (tex mex), those were about the only other things she could get.  And you have to pay extra for that right!!!   No offense but vegetarian food is dirt cheap.  And you really don't have to be that creative to come up with some options.   She ended up eating appetizers for her ontray.   Put another way, on our 50 person cruise in south america, she had more choices than on this boat.   They said they just expanded the menus to be different at the 2 free restaurants.   Imagine having but one choice!   The buffet did offer more options but we aren't exactly the kind of people who want to eat in a buffet all the time.  I guess we are the kinds who do like to get dressed up for dinner from time to time.  But it was strange how half of the buffet was generally closed creating lines longer than need be.   And why they had to stick meat in things like hash browns was beyond her.   As I said, she's not pushy about those who eat meat with the exception of foir grois which she believes should be outlawed entirely as many places do.  Decide for yourself if you'll eat it, but as expected, this cruise line serves it.On the first day, we walked around the ship and got the tour of the gym, spa, etc.  Never saw such a hard sell to sign up for a spa/gym packages in our life.  Was probably the first hint of things to come.    Maybe the extra day at sea is to get you into the spa?   Or to buy a detox, botox, or accupuncture sessions.  As for the gym, we learned riding stationary bikes was extra, treadmills and elipticals free.  What's special about exercise bikes?   And organized classes were extra.   Later in the week she went to a "doctor run" program for toning trouble spots and it was another hard sell for detox sessions!Walking around the ship we found that table tennis was free (if the wind tunnel location allowed you to play), while billiards was pay.  Luckily the walking track (though funneled down at one end) and the jogging track (goes through the pool area so problem during crowded times) weren't something they could charge for.   And speaking of ship tours, they had a sign posted to "sign up for the backstage ship tour before it fills (extra fees apply)".   There were no fees for this on RC and they seemed proud to show off their ship.   How's giving a ship tour costing NCL anything???    On the first day they also try to sell you overpriced bottles of wine to drink on the cruise.   We passed and bought the wine by the glass method.   We preferred the RC method of buying a bottle off the menu (I think they had up front packages as well) and them holding leftovers for the next meal.  Maybe NCL does let you take the leftover bottles out with you, but if they don't, that's kind of screwy.  But since you don't know what "restaurant" you'll be in the next night, not sure how it would work if they don't.The next day was a rainout (maybe they were happy getting people into the casino).   We showed up at Bingo.  Now maybe we haven't kept up with technology but we kind of like the "joy" of punching the holes and getting one number away.   Well, what a shock when Bingo Boy basically told people, that you won't win if you get the paper cards and really need to buy the "show me the money" package.   Well, considering that paying double gets you some electronic gizmo that gets preloaded with like 100 electronic cards compared to the paper version of 6 punchout games, I can see why he would say that.   Your almost throwing away your money not upgrading (aka spending more).  But what's the fun in just sitting there watching a machine play?   Maybe that's how true gamblers do it, but frankly, they ruined the fun in even bingo for us.   The art "auction" was similar to what we had seen on RC.   Give you booze and hope you buy something.  Claim your getting a great deal.  Some of the art was even the same prints as on Royal Carribbean  (Max, etc).   Later in the cruise, the "deals" became better and more freebies given away (free until you learn about outrageous framing and shipping costs).   Anyway, I know that's a separate company doing it but still...   Just kind of falls in the same category.   Just like when we found out that the cruise line gets kickbacks by recommending certain island shops to buy at.   So much for claiming these are stores where we guarantee the quality (we found this out when we got the "register your purchases form" from NCL on the last day of the cruise and saw how they get promotional payments from the stores.)   Geez...   They also do the portrait thing.   The one we liked the best unfortunately was a cruise line advertisement.   We did end up taking our 2nd choice and the welcome aboard prints.  We just happened to luck out in buying them on the "sale day".   We didn't know that up front but as we should have expected, the longer you wait, the cheaper the pictures get as they try to get anything for them.The 2nd day at sea was bright and sunny and everyone grabbed seats by the pool.   Would have been nice if they enforced their rules about not allowing people to just hold chairs forever but they didn't.   We ended up being to late to get anything in viewing area of the pool area.   They did have the lunch "bbq" but nothing vegetarian.   I ate it, but we headed to the buffet yet again for my wife.One extreme positive was the embarkation in Bermuda.   Couldn't have been quicker.   Only complaint is the lack of warning that another big ship was coming into the dock the last day which created massive congestion trying to catch ferry & bus.  But did give us opportunity to talk to the people on the other boat.   Princess line.   Of course our interest was meals and they assured us their choices were way better for vegetarians and these people weren't even vegetarian.We did like the shows but my wife isn't much into improv so the 2nd city thing wasn't up her ally.   But the fact that part of the show was a "cutdown" sketch of Carnival Cruise was something really not needed.   It was nice deciding when you wanted to eat to decide on a day to day basis on what show to go to.   I'll give free styling that much.On the last day, they hit you for the gratuity bill.   We aren't cheap by any means but it still is resentful for them to decide how much they deserve.   We would have preferred to give our room stewards more and the restaurant staff less.  There's apparently no way to do this.Anyway, it's sad that things like this are the things I remember.   And it really wouldn't be that hard for them to fix.   But until they do, we really can't see us going on NCL again. 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Sail Date May 2009
This was my fifth cruise and my wife's second. We decided to try NCL out, as we sailed HAL last year and while the service was amazing the crowd was quite old. We booked online and felt the rate for the room was competitive to other ... Read More
This was my fifth cruise and my wife's second. We decided to try NCL out, as we sailed HAL last year and while the service was amazing the crowd was quite old. We booked online and felt the rate for the room was competitive to other lines out there, plus sailing from New York is always a plus. By the end of our 7-day vacation there were definite high and low points to the trip which I will try to break down for you. First we'll tackle the good points: 1. Entertainment- The shows and options available were really good and we found ourselves going to more events than our HAL cruise last year. The inclusion of members from the comedy troupe Second City is a great time and since we both love improv, it was a frequent show of ours. Also Greg Gleason put on not only three fantastic magic shows but also had a great memory seminar that convinced me to drop $60 on a DVD. Entertainment was a big plus of this trip. 2. Dining Options- There are no shortages of places to eat on the Dawn. The most impressive was their 24-hour 'diner' that had many options and didn't feel like a lame excuse of '24-hour food' (I'm looking at *you* Carnival). Aside from the Blue Lagoon, buffet and Venetian restaurant, we counted eight other places to eat. Choosing a place to eat was more difficult than choosing what to eat! 3. Cruise Director- Pedro was a fantastic C.D. and he felt personable. I knew our free time was in good hands. 4. Excursion Options- On par with other cruises where there were tons of things to choose from in Bermuda. The not-so-good parts: 1. Housekeeping- Out of seven nights, our room was properly made up no more than four or five. The bed was made 'half-way' with the sheets not even fully pulled out from under the comforter. We received a total of three towel animals, which is unheard of to NOT get one, and our cabin steward decided we didn't need a 'time change' card on our final night when Daylight Savings was ending. It's a good thing we paid attention to the news and the Cruise Director's mentioning of it. It also took day three and us complaining to the front desk for them to bring us a portfolio with ship's information & room service menu. 2. Finances & Charges - This is the biggest gripe we had with the trip. NCL must be short for 'Nickel' because you are "nickeled and dimed" the entire cruise. Want to eat at a 'specialty' restaurant? That'll cost extra. Want an extra pool-side towel? That's a $25 deposit. Don't touch anything in your mini-fridge because there is a tab waiting for you. We simply put a bottle of Evian from the shelf into the fridge and we were charged for it. It's a good thing we ended up drinking it three days later. Charges for many daily ship-board activities, automatic gratuity charge on a cup of coffee, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. We figure the charges were almost another half of our original ticket price, tacked onto the end. 3. Excursion Choices- Bermuda is a nice place but the water sure is cold in October! NCL should show discretion as to what excursions are offered based on the time of the year. A Snuba excursion we paid for was non-refundable 48-hours before docking in port, meaning it's essentially non-refundable. A better selection that is season-appropriate would have helped. Aside from that, our 5-hour island tour ran over an hour late which caused us to miss things we wanted to do on our own. Best excursion- Dockyard Segway tour. 4. Food & Desserts- Food is the cornerstone of any cruise and NCL did well in this department for dinner meals. Unfortunately it stopped there. Buffet food for breakfast was cold almost half of the trip. Lunch left a lot to be desired as well. By far the biggest disappointment were the deserts. There was more than one occasion where we took one bite of a cake or pie and let it go to the trash. The 'choc-o-holic buffet' was a nightmare. Not only was it in the buffet, which only holds 1/8 of the ship but not one thing was good. My wife and I sampled over 10 different chocolate items and all were poor in one way or another. Stale cookies, mousse that had the consistency of Jell-O, and just disappointing deserts ruined it all. Even the fondue was bad. My recommendation: skip the desert and get some fruit instead. Overall, NCL has some strong points and their 'freestyle' system has some good ideas. Perhaps with improvements in the future with their 'F3' (freestyle version 3.0) it will improve but for now we will try other cruise lines on our future vacations. So far, HAL still ranks #1 in service. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Review of NCL Dawn to Bermuda, 10/26/08, Cabin 10730 aft. 1st NCL cruise. Previous: RC, HAL, Celeb, Princess. Me (47) & Mom (68), No Shore Excursions booked. 1st time to Bermuda Let's begin... we flew into LaGuardia the ... Read More
Review of NCL Dawn to Bermuda, 10/26/08, Cabin 10730 aft. 1st NCL cruise. Previous: RC, HAL, Celeb, Princess. Me (47) & Mom (68), No Shore Excursions booked. 1st time to Bermuda Let's begin... we flew into LaGuardia the same day of the cruise - best transportation to the Port from the airport was "Super Shuttle" 16.00 per person, but this shuttle makes many stops along the way - we had plenty of time to see the sights of NY along the way. Arrived at Port early, but check in very fast and smooth, would have been on board by 11:30 but the Coast Guard was doing some inspection so this caused a 1 hour delay, we waited comfortably in chairs but there were no refreshments offered by NCL?? Wonder why? Enter ship: champagne and OJ, nice touch, off to Garden Buffet. I have had better food. We were told rooms would be ready by 2pm. and yes they were. We had a standard balcony room aft cabin, with larger balcony that we really enjoyed. Furniture a little worn, TV from 1965, bathroom shower bigger than I have seen, with soap and shampoo dispenser. Coffee maker in room, never used it, the sugars on the tray were old and moldy. Left cabin about 3:30, our luggage had already arrived and was outside in the hall. Left a note for room steward to make twin beds, and asked for a few extras, most of which were granted by the time we returned, but still no sign of room steward?? Muster drill - same as usual. Off to the Progressive trivia @ Dazzles where I made new friends.. and we won! Whoo hoo, Next is dinner at Venetian (Main dining room, no fee) where we were sat with a couple who were very sweet - but our server was not very pleasant. I ordered a dish that was pasta and should have had beef chunks as described by the waiter, but there was no meat.. I would have told the waiter, but he never returned to see if we were ok. We arrived late to the show due to very slow service at dinner, no seats were available.. we left for the Casino where I heard rumors of the machines being tight.. No big winning for me.. off to bed on what seemed like a hard mattress, but was able to get a good nights rest despite the semi rough seas. I think we have a baby next door. Day 2, Room Service coffee right on time as we noted on the card we left out on the door the night before. CC meeting in Dazzles - great turnout - and NCL had 7 staff members present - this was impressive compared to other lines. Lunch in Venetian, steak sandwich.. not good. Next off to Spa for tour.. Oh its beautiful.. and the cost is $20.00/day or $75.00 per week, or $140.00 per couple per week. We decided to wait.. and the sales pitches for spa treatments were pretty heavy.. we had to get out of there.. saying "maybe later" but being told we should really book now.. Too much pressure here. Looking for Java cafe.. can't find it. Pool area looks pretty busy - windy out - but warm and sunny. Had a snack at Blue Lagoon, Spinach artichoke dip and chicken wings.. not impressed. 2pm stopped in the cabin.. still have not seen the room steward.. but while I was in the bathroom he came in and opened the door.. so our meeting was a surprise. I exited the bathroom and he introduced himself Raul, and he said he worked with Josh (whom I never met). That was the last time I saw Raul, but our room was cleaned daily, and we had towel animals 4 times, so no complaints there, but nothing special to report either. Progressive Trivia - same team.. we lost our 1st place status, I'll be back tomorrow for a rematch. Dinner at Venetian with CC members (pre-arranged for 20) Optional formal night, I opted out, Lobster tail dinner, I ordered double tails and got them no problem.. they were ok, I've had better. Mom had beef Wellington that had some indefinable brown substance in it. Service in Venetian better - still not what I am used to in the main dining areas.. I believe the freestyle dining has taken away the personal touch of the wait staff and lessened the incentive to be professional and friendly. I miss getting to know the wait staff and tablemates. I hear rumors about Cagney's being good - but besides the $20.00 cover.. you pay extra for Lobster and Crab legs.. I'm not going there. Day 3, Room service ½ hour early today. Morning Trivia in Pub with Mikee.. he is a sweetie. Breakfast at Garden Buffet, a madhouse as expected, much like the other cruise lines, but the food was sub standard.. with the exceptions of having eggs made to order, or a waffle made on the spot.. everything else was just so so. Mom went to the spa for a French Manicure.. her bill was more than she anticipated.. with service charges she thought were a tip.. but the spa tech told her no.,. that was her wages not tip.. so Mom paid extra for a tip, bout a bottle of polish for $8.00, and the grand total = $60.00.. but that's not the bad news.. her nails looked awful.. they were not dry.. so she had smudged them.. they should be ashamed to charge this for such a shoddy job. Lesson learned for us. Super windy today, rough seas.. pool chairs available everywhere.. everyone must be at Bingo. Restroom stop... no toilet paper in any of the 5 stalls.. dirty. Lunch at Venetian up by the big window.. such a nice view, but I thought we were in the kids club.. kids everywhere.. crying, throwing food.. what a mess. I ordered Mahi Mahi - good but never have seen bones in it before this.. Oh and there was a hair on my plate.. I didn't tell mom.. things were bad enough already with her staring at her nails in disbelief. Mom went to get cash from ATM..it's broken,.. and there is only one. Main desk tells her sorry, and that can not do cash advance or take checks.. basically telling her she is out of luck. Later Mom learns she can get cash advance in the Casino.. now why didn't the front desk tell her that? What happened to customer service? Back at room called room service .. phone rang 5 thousand times. Tried again a few min later, only 4 rings.. Asked for cheese and crackers, not on menu, was told NO, and not in a friendly way. Trivia - we won our trophy back. Dinner later at Garden Buffet, food was less than fair. Where is this Pedro guy ( Cruise Director) ? I heard he was good.. I have my doubts. Day 4, Arrived in Bermuda 9am, cold and windy. Met CC friends in Aqua for breakfast.. and learned that this is open for balcony passengers.. we didn't know this. I guess there is supposed to be something in our room to tell us this.. we found the card on the shelf above the TV on the last day. Anyway breakfast in Aqua was great.. food good.. service was soooooo much better. Now this is what we are used to. Exit ship, bought a ferry/bus pass for 3 days @ $28.00 each. Hopped right on the ferry docked right in front of our ship.. no walking.. off to Hamilton (20 min). Shopped in Hamilton.. then we had to walk up hill for a few blocks to the bus station. Got on the bus (after the driver was rude to me) and off to St. George, stopping at Swizzle Inn along the way for lunch. Food was good.. not too expensive, and the Rum swizzle was pretty strong. Bus stop right out front - back on bus to St. George.. a little shopping while asking for directions to the trolley to do a short tour.. Trolley not running today.. don't know why. Town square Carriage tour was our next thought.. we had a driver named "Shawn" and a carriage for 4, charge was $40.00 for ½ hr or $80.00 for an hour.. that was for all 4 of us, so for $10.00 each we opted for the ½ hour, which ended up being about 45 min.. and it was Fantastic! Shawn was very nice, polite, and knowledgeable.. I would recommend this tour of St. George to anyone.. Well worth it.. and Shawn made it Special for us. **** Ask him to stop at Glass bottom beach for you.. he will, and you can get all kinds of sea glass..for free. Next we take the ferry from St. George back to Dockyard.. 40 min.. very nice ride. Trivia again.. lost the trophy. Dinner tonight.. will try Venetian again, they have Turkey and dressing on the menu. We are seated at a table for 2.. having waited only a few min, and it is about 8pm. After about 15 min, I asked if we had a server at all? We were finally waited on.. without an apology.. while several tables all around us were sat and waited on and were eating. Again.. the incentive for tips is the motivation wait staff need to provide a better service.. here it is non existent. Food was just ok. Again we are late for the show because of slow service. Late night Comedy at Spinnaker's lounge.. place is packed.. come early if you can to get a good seat. Comedian was very good, adults only.. followed by QUEST.. adult game show... hey there is that Pedro guy, I'm not impressed. Back to the cabin.. Received mail saying "Congrats we have been chosen to dine with Hotel Mgr for Thursday night.. problem>>> we have already signed up for the Murder Mystery dinner (120 people only) had to decline dinner with Hotel Mgr.. unfortunately, because I had plenty to discuss. Pool side party tonight - complete with bubbles flying everywhere.. small turn out - windy and cold. Day 5: Breakfast again with the heard.. too late for Aqua today, they stop at 9:30am. I found a juice bar.. they do fresh squeezed OJ.. $3.50, plus added gratuity - total $4.03, ridiculous price.. but very tasty as compared to the OJ cocktail. Today we left the ship and boarded the "free" trolley right outside the ship that makes 7 stops in various areas in the Dockyard. Beautiful day.. I think everyone is at the beaches today.. shopped at Clocktower Mall, had ice cream, visited the Glassworks (must see) bought a rum cake. Back on the ship for Trivia.. we won again!!! Snack at Blue Lagoon.. Mom had Wonton soup.. yuck!, I had the fish and chips.. pretty good. Finally found the Java Cafe.. right across from the reception desk.. I thought it was a bar. 5pm meet in Stardust for Murder Mystery. Dinner at Aqua (Prime Rib.. pretty good) with arranged group while reading from our scripts to solve a mystery, fun. Next 2nd City show.. I'm excited.. I have heard great things, but disappointed.. as were many others from comments I have heard. Chocolate Buffet held in the Garden Buffet.. what a NIGHTMARE! I think every passenger turned out for this 1-hour event.. and it was near impossible to even identify where the lines started or ended.. NCL needs to really rethink this event. So many people, including ourselves, left disgusted about this set up. Very disappointing. Next stop Star Bar for "Name that tune" very nice atmosphere and host.. songs were for Senior generation mostly, but passengers were having lots of fun.. and I learned this was the only event here like this.. what a shame there were not more of them. Now outside to the Pool area for the Country Bash.. windy and a bit chilly, but good music.. and plenty of people singing along and dancing. Stopped at Photo shop, 19.95 for one photo - to top it off the staff guy was rude to Mom.. not happy with him. Mikee who does games and trivia's.. he should be given a huge raise.. he is always smiling and talking to the passengers.. what a joy he was. Day 6: Last day in Bermuda. Where is Raul (room attendant)? Breakfast in Aqua.. very nice again. Off the ship ( very easy, no lines ) take the "free" trolley to the bus stop, hopped the bus for Horseshoe Bay. Off at the bus stop.. walked down a long steep hill to the beach.. OHHH how beautiful.. then just a few short steps away is Jobson's cove.. what a beautiful place to see. Water is a bit chilly, but some are swimming anyhow, the sand is so soft.. and not really pink like I had expected, but rather a tan color with what looks to me like sprinkles of paprika in it. Still very pretty. Chair rentals are $10.00 each, and there is a small cafe for lunch items and drinks, a changing area and restrooms. Going back to the bus stop we took a shuttle up the hill (you can take it down as well) for only $1.00 per person.. how nice. Across the street from the bus stop is a little Italian restaurant.. they open at 12 I think.. they let us use the bathroom without ordering anything.. so nice of this guy, I wanted to mention it, and the place is very cute and quaint.. didn't eat there this time, need to get back to the ship. Took bus back to Dockyard.. and have enough time for lunch.. stopped at Frog and Onion.. Not as good as I heard, I had a pasta dish, and Mom had the Pasty.. which I liked better than the pasta. The soda and ice tea tasted funny..water was ok, meals were about $15-$17 each. Back to the ship sail away. Progressive Trivia again.. we lost Dinner @ Aqua with CC group, 14 of us, nice turn out, good service. Butternut squash soup is really god. I wonder what the captain looks like.. never saw him.. but hear his announcements daily..sometimes he sounds like he is bored to tears. Next off to the show "Bollywood" what a fantastic show.. the entertainers were excellent.. one of the best shows at sea for me. Don't miss this one. It's Halloween, and am dressed in costume and headed to Spinnakers for the party.. Again organization is lacking and the majority of passengers wait in a line for at least 40 min before parading across the stage..over 60 people.. tired of this I move on to Dazzles where there is to be another Halloween bash.. but NO.. just some folks dancing to terribly loud music. OK - I'll try the Casino.. here is where the party is.. Staff all in costumes.. jam packed with people.. games.. prizes.. food.. apparently they want you to come to the casino..wonder why? Day 7: at sea, breakfast at Blue Lagoon.. you can get made to order eggs, omelets and the food is basically the same as Aqua, but much faster. Went to Q& A with Pedro and some Crew at Java (good thing I finally found this place) I remarked about the lack of service relating to freestyle dining in the main dining room.. the response was a defensive one claiming that people were generally happy with being able to choose when and where they wish to eat and that passengers are generally happy with the service. I don't think they have experienced what I have.. then they might feel differently. We are able to decide what time to leave the ship for disembarking, and pick up luggage tags at the reception area. Made reservations for Salsa for tonight. Went to Majority Rules game show - run by Mikee, lots of fun. Last night for Progressive Trivia - and MY team WON the grand prize.. whooo hooo! Lots of prizes.. what fun!! Off to the last show.. the Crew show.. very nice. Stop at the Casino.. no luck. Karaoke at Dazzles.. met up with some CC buddies.. very nice time. Luggage out in hall by 1am. Enjoyed balcony for last time.. a little chilly out there - but relaxing. Day 8: Passing the Statue of Liberty at 7am.. arrived at port 7:30. Went to breakfast at Venetian, ate with same couple we had dinner with the first night.. what a nice way to end the cruise. Back to the room to gather last belongings. Where is Raul?? Well no extra tipping here. Disembarking process moved quickly - even in baggage area and customs.. lines kept moving. *** Suggestion for those looking for transportation.. as you exit baggage area .. walk straight across the street to Taxi Cab Station.. flat rate back to LaGuardia was $35.00, and we had a great driver. *** Beware.. there are gypsy cab drivers requesting your service.. they have black town cars usually, and they are not to be trusted.. take the Yellow cab for safety. Summary: Would I book another NCL cruise?? Probably not. I am not a fan of Freestyle dining mostly because I don't care to pay extra for other dining venues and prefer the service associated with assigned seating. The entertainment on NCL was above average, while the service in general as well as the quality of the food was poor in my opinion.. in comparison to RC and HAL. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Returned home earlier today after our NCL Dawn Bermuda cruise. We were impressed at how well NYC handles its embarkation and debarkation procedures. On and off the ship in a breeze. Job well done, NYC We sailed with a group of 40 and ... Read More
Returned home earlier today after our NCL Dawn Bermuda cruise. We were impressed at how well NYC handles its embarkation and debarkation procedures. On and off the ship in a breeze. Job well done, NYC We sailed with a group of 40 and the general consensus was that the ship was well maintained and pleasing to the eye, but Freestyle concept left a lot to be desired. Cabins were not ready until 2pm so EVERYONE ended up in the Garden Cafe Took a walk out to the pool deck and was SHOCKED at how tiny the one and only pool for the whole ship was. I could already imagine the crowds that would be there on sea days. Don't quite understand the point of the T Rex kids pool if all the kids were in the main pool Cabins were nice but those who booked 4 in a room were quite shocked that there weren't 2 upper and 2 lower beds as is the case in most standard cabins. Rather there was only one upper bed and the 4th bed was stowed under one of the lower beds and was placed between the two lowers which meant 3 were sleeping in a row. It must have been quite a chore to get out of bed without disturbing others. Luckily it was just my wife and I in our cabin so we didn't have to deal with that dilemma. Still trying to figure out the point of the translucent sliding door in the bathroom to close when using the toilet. Even with that panel closed there was no way anyone was coming in to wash their hands!! Stewards were pleasant and did a good job. If you used that sliding disk under the cabin number just outside the door they knew when you were out of the room so they could come in to make up the room and to turn down the bed. Buffet food is buffet food; what can I say... been on enough cruises to know what to expect. We did enjoy the deck barbecues, especially the chicken. Ice cream cones by the pool was a nice touch too. Drink prices for mixed drinks came out to about $7.50 incl. tip. Beer was cheaper; Martini type drinks more.. Freestyle Dinner Experience.... Wherever you want-Whenever you want. They got the first part down good, they still need to get the "whenever you want" down pat. It was obvious that the poor hostesses who stood by the dining room doors yelling out cabin numbers to people who were sitting on the staircases giving them real dirty looks would much rather have not been there! They looked frazzled at times. Trying to get reservations was a futile attempt and after awhile we just got dressed and went to a restaurant and said whenever we eat is when we eat... the wait was generally around 30 minutes. Although we were a group of 40 we did not eat together so it wasn't as if they were trying to seat 40 in one shot. Everyone in our group agreed the Freestyle experience wasn't for them and were very disappointed in that aspect of the cruise. The dining room food was good. Although the servers were pleasant one could tell they were very rushed to get meals out as fast as possible. As soon as one course was picked up it was just a matter of seconds before the next course was in front of you. They apologized profusely that they were setting the tables as we were seated. Activities: Basically you could go to Bingo, then to some sort of alcohol tasting, back to bingo, then to an art auction, then to another alcohol tasting, followed by another round of bingo! Announcements were made by assistant cruise director Demetri, and yes, we occasionally saw the cruise director Pedro out on the pool deck on the smoking side having a cigarette and looking pretty... he didn't do much else IMHO to motivate anyone whatsoever. They had an evening pool deck party one evening which was probably attended by about 20 adults and the usual groups of teens which hung out after the sun went down because they were bored. There was also a White Hot Night Party... we went to take a peek and the teens were having a blast! Thought it was meant for adults only Chocolate Buffet in Garden Cafe. TOTAL MASS CONFUSION>>>> They had staff directing guests from end to end and you ended up where you started... Total chaos and once we finally saw what was available we agreed that it wasn't worth the hassle. Bollywood was OK if you like Cirque de Soleil type show. Adult comedian did a pretty good job of keeping everyone laughing. There were about 10 kids in our group aged 10-17 and they didn't care for the Kids Club at all. This was obvious since all the kids seemed to be roaming the ship and hanging around from morning till late at night (especially once dinner was over). I was surprised that on the last evening of the cruise when we got our luggage tags and customs forms that there were no comment cards given out. We've ALWAYS gotten them (the ones that say that they value our opinion). P.S. BERMUDA WAS WONDERFUL! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Embarkation onto the ship for this cruise was AWESOME!!! It left Sunday so getting into the dock in New York was easy with little traffic (I live in NJ and drove there). We got there around 10am and was on board pretty quickly after that. ... Read More
Embarkation onto the ship for this cruise was AWESOME!!! It left Sunday so getting into the dock in New York was easy with little traffic (I live in NJ and drove there). We got there around 10am and was on board pretty quickly after that. We even forgot our boarding tickets at home but were able to talk to NCL folks and we got on no problem. Public rooms were nice and easy enough to get around in. It was my second time so I guess I kind of knew where everything was already. All the rooms I used (which really weren't that much) were fine. We had an inside cabin in J category (8153) which was the 2nd time we had it. As always the cabins are small but was enough for 2 adults and 2 small children (7, 4). My one complaint with the cabin is that the walls are PAPER thin and you can hear EVERYTHING through them. So when the neighbors come in yelling at their kids you can hear every word. My guess is that that's probably common among many cruise ships. The deck pool and fitness center were ok as well. They had the usual stuff you would expect ... treadmills, bikes, dumbbells. Not a lot of heavy stuff for the muscle heads though or pullup stuff. More just the basics for the average person. Didn't take any classes so I can't comment on that. As far as rates ... I'm going with a 3 since the overall service wasn't really as good as I expected. Was much better the first time on this cruise the year before. They didn't really match up the timing of the kids clubs opening and dining reservations which made the dining service VERY slow that first night compared to the other nights ... other restaurants the service was hit or miss. Some VERY good ... some not so good. Seems like I paid a lot for what I eventually got. Some of the excursion prices I thought were much too pricey considering you could grab a bus on Bermuda and pay about 75% less doing it on your own. That's just me though. Bermuda is probably an exception island since you can pretty much go anywhere safely. Kids club was really great. This is a huge selling point for my with 2 kids. And the hours of 9am - 10:30pm really make it easy for you to plan out your day and grab them for lunch whenever. Also it lessens the traffic through most of the restaurants during lunch/dinner because parents are stuck to a particular time to feed their kids. They've got this one down pat with the exception of maybe the first day on board. Dining was hit or miss. I have a nut and gluten food allergy so I'm REALLY picky when it comes to food. One nice thing is that every menu states to tell the waiter about any food allergies you have. Definitely a good thing. They do have a variety of food items for your allergies that you can have at least in my case (gluten-free bread, pizza, etc). In fact .. the gluten free pizza i had was one of the best I've ever had since I found out i had celiac. The bad part was that service was hit or miss depending on which restaurant. The French was by far the best restaurant. Italian was good ... the rest I could take or leave. The service at those are not so good at least on this cruise. Stuff taking entirely WAY too long to get to us. When you're with kids that's definitely not a good thing as they get antsy. I also had one incident at the Venetian where they gave me a regular english muffin instead of the gluten-free one. I had already bitten into it too (luckily hadn't swallowed anything) when they came over and told me the kitchen gave them the wrong one. Had to spit it out. Close call that really didn't leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling about eating there. Also had another incident in the Venetian where a glass broke in one our friend's child's mouth. No real damage done but kind of hard to believe the glass broke. She does have a tendency to bite on which most likely had something to do with it. But can't believe it was weak enough to break. That could have been a disaster. Luckily it wasn't. Entertainment was ok. We didn't really see many shows but the bands were ok ... typical cheesy ... but ok. Served their purpose (and I've been in cover bands so I know what to look for). I liked the Casinos ... although I only broke even. My wife won in blackjack so I guess you have a good outlook when you win! :-) Service I'm giving a 3 as well. Mostly had to do with food. All other services I thought were good (ie room, concierge, shore excursion, security,etc) Wife said the massage on board was "ok" and was annoyed they had to pay an extra $10 to sit in the "sitting room" after. They complained about that and got it for free. They were really annoyed about that though after paying for the massage ... and amount for the trip. They just felt NCL was skimping on that and didn't feel "luxurious". My golf outing was good though. Rented good clubs from the ship and played Riddel's bay in Bermuda. Definitely a nice course. Value for the money ... the food service wasn't as good as I would have liked so I'm giving it a 3 for the value for money paid. Overall cruise I'm giving a 3 as well since I have had better cruises to Bermuda. Also don't like the fact that it can only port in the Dockyards instead of Hamilton and St. George. Definitely like those ports better (Hamilton being my favorite). Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Norwegian Dawn Sailing out of NYC to Bermuda Aug. 24th - Aug. 31st FIRST TIME CRUISERS WHO TRAVELED: Myself, husband, and our 2 girls....ages 3 ½ and almost 6 ½. HISTORY: This was our very first cruise. This was also our ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn Sailing out of NYC to Bermuda Aug. 24th - Aug. 31st FIRST TIME CRUISERS WHO TRAVELED: Myself, husband, and our 2 girls....ages 3 ½ and almost 6 ½. HISTORY: This was our very first cruise. This was also our first visit to Bermuda. Our vacations have mostly consisted of Sandals and Sandals Beaches vacations. We have always wanted to cruise, and decided to give it a try. With the airline rates being so high, and since we live in NJ , a cruise seemed like the way to go.....besides it being so easy to get to the pier. Royal Caribbean left out of NJ, but it was only a 5 day cruise to Bermuda. We wanted a 7 day vacation and that's why we chose NCL out of NY. EMBARKATION: Went nice and smooth. Here is where I met cruisebermuda on line. She says "hey, are you mammaof2girls?" and that was the freakiest yet coolest thing!...... Never meeting someone yet they know and recognize you (we all wore the mardi gras necklaces)!!! Neither I nor any of my family members had passports, and there were no problems at all. We had all our birth certificates, along w/ our Driver's License and all was fine. You will start needing passports for this trip to Bermuda in July 2009, for anyone who is interested to know. If you don't have a passport, not a problem at all as of now. Soda: We brought along two 6-packs of soda. We took it apart and just stuffed them in our carry ons. This was one of the best things we could have done!!! We had our room steward empty the fridge and the coffee maker, so we can have more room. And all our sodas fit in the fridge and we had something to drink with dinner (and lunch too, if we chose to). I also brought along those single servings of lemonade. We didn't use these as much as I would have liked to. I guess I sort of 'forgot" I had them. They would have come in handy since no juices are ever offered at all (for free) for lunch or dinner (I wrote more about that in the "food" section). After the champagne is given out when you first aboard the ship, everyone starts piling up in the main atrium. We shortly hit the garden buffet and were able to get a table with no problem. However, shortly after that, it became PACKED. So I was glad we got to the Garden buffet...which I think was a little before 12 noon. If you are hungry, I suggest you make your way quickly to deck 12 to the garden buffet. You will get a table if you're quick about it. But if you wait and hang around the atrium for a bit, you will arrive at the Garden Buffet very hungry and having to wait around or look for an open table. THE SHIP: Beautiful ship. We have nothing to compare it against since it's our first cruise, but it was very pretty. The coloring throughout....the carpets, the atrium....everything was really nice. The staff works extremely hard at what they do on the ship. You always see them working, working and working! STAFF: I was expecting a bit more "going out of their way friendliness" with the staff......but don't get me wrong, no one was rude. Let me explain: There were a lot that did say "hi" and smiled, but no one really went out of their way. I felt for the most part, most people did the bare minimum and that was it. However, at times it wasn't surprising to have crew members in the garden cafe, and sometimes even in the hallways to just pass you by and not going out of their way to say hi and talk to you....perhaps just a smile. I am thinking that maybe my expectations were high because at Sandals, it doesn't matter what the staff is doing....they literally go out of their way to talk to you and the kids and make you feel real special. A lot of the times it was basic greetings (sometimes not at all), but nothing like they were going out of their way for you. It's just hard getting 5-star treatment at all our vacations and then going on my first cruise and friendliness is a bit of a much lesser standard here, as far as "going out of their way" is concerned. Don't get me wrong, the crew was nice, but not overly friendly. Again, I think this is the Sandals comparison creeping up on me....which I know I shouldn't compare as they are 2 different types of vacations. The staff takes great care in helping to make the ship look as good as it does. They work very hard and you will always see them cleaning, wiping, scrubbing, etc. We felt the room stewards were the friendliest. Ours was Alex (he introduced himself) and he always made a point to say hi to my children and to go down to their level and talk w/ them. The Cruise Director is Pedro, and the asst. CD is Dimitri. The first time I saw Pedro wasn't until Wed. at the Garden Cafe (not counting the times he hosted a show). FOOD: DH wasn't thrilled w/ the fact that you are charged to eat at the specialty restaurants, so we just ate at one....Salsas. We enjoyed Salsas. I just had to try the Il Popo and the lobster tacos, and yes they are everything that you hear about. YUM. They don't cheapen the size of the lobster that is in those tacos, which is nice. During other dinner nights, we ate at the Venetian twice and Aqua twice. We ate around 5:30-6 pm. No wait. If you come after 6:15, service is longer and when you are done eating you will see a ridiculous line. We felt the food was very good at the main dining rooms. Every day their menu changes....and they also have a section of food on the menu that they have all the time. Please note the appetizers and entrees are pretty small portions. Do NOT hesitate to order more than one!!!! DH usually ordered 2 or 3 entrees and we always ordered a bunch of appetizers (every last crumb got eaten from us...nothing ever wasted! LOL). Had we just ordered one appetizer and one entrEe, we would have walked out of there hungry still. DH liked the service in Aqua better.....maybe it was those particular waitresses that we had. They really took the time to talk to our children, and they were really very, very nice and friendly. My 3 ½ yr. old fell asleep in Venetian twice......we believe it is their comfy chairs. LOL We saw a lot of pple in those main dining rooms wearing shorts, and extremely casual. I thought that wasn't allowed? Oh well. My girls ate off the adult menu in the main dining rooms. All except the last night, my oldest wasn't fond of the menu so she asked for pizza and spaghetti w/ red meat sauce. Do not ask for spaghetti with red meat sauce. It was awful. I mean literally awful tasting. I don't know how they made it, but even DH said it was awful. The cheese tortellini from the menu is sooooo good. My 3 yr. old really liked that. The asparagus and scallops appetizer - do not order just one. Those scallops were super tiny ....3 of them. So like I said, the appetizers are very small portions (and entrees too). I enjoyed the salad w/ walnut dressing and the watermelon salad too. The salmon w/ capers is delish. They serve it with these really long and flat egg noodles. Yum. We really enjoyed the food at the main dining rooms for sure! ? OMG, and the ship has the best hotdogs ever!!!!!! YUM! Try one (or two, or three....! LOL) GARDEN CAFÉ: Unfortunately, we never got to eat at Venetian for breakfast. ? They serve it only until 9:30 am and we were a bunch of sleepy heads I guess. The Garden Cafe gets very crowded, and a lot of times for breakfast and lunch you need to walk up and down to try and find an open table. A lot of times there were none, so we just had to wait for someone to finish. Food was good here....a lot of different variety. There is something for everyone. Expect a long wait on the omelet station. I never had any because the line was so ridiculous, and they only have the one station. Something that we were not impressed with: the drinks (and I'm not talking about alcoholic drinks). Ok, so for breakfast they have the water, OJ, cranberry juice and most of the time apple juice as well, where you just press that button and you pour it right into your glass. But once lunch rolled around, they took out all the juices and only water was offered (ok, there's also non-sweetened iced tea). DH and I felt: Why be cheap about it? I heard people on this board talk about them having lemonade....what a joke. Do you want to know the only time we saw the lemonade? On our last full day during breakfast....and that was it. There were never any juices ever offered for lunch or dinner - ever. A TIP: If you do want juice for lunch or dinner, go to the kids cafe, even if you are not a kid. They usually have apple juice in one of those pitchers right by the station. So we would get our apple juice there. Dh and I felt that they should have had those juices offered for lunches or dinner ...but that was not the case. Again, they only have them during breakfast only. We thought that was so lame. Chocolate Buffet: It's from 10:30-11:30 pm. Get there at 10:15 pm and you'll be fine. Get there any later, have fun standing on the longest line you ever saw. Seriously. I got there at 10:15 pm, and the line was already starting. I suggest you do the same. The chocolate buffet wasn't as 'extravagant' and 'over the top' as I was picturing it to be. But we enjoyed it. Something different. My 3 yr. old is a chocolate LOVER, so we were excited to share that experience w/ her. OUR CABIN: We were on Deck 10, inside cabin 10567. A little tight for 4 people, but we managed. It was small, but I thought it was going to be even smaller than that. I guess I was expecting the worst. We were hardly there....only to sleep so it was ok for us. It was a little tight especially around the closet/bathroom area (can't have the closet and bathroom door open at the same time). My girls LOVED when we went back to the cabin when they made it up for us at night...and to see the towel animals they did that night. Take note that the towel animals aren't done the first and last night of the cruise. Of course I took pics of all the different animals they did. ? I did bring post-it notes, and that was a GREAT WAY to communicate w/ the room steward. Even though we seen him all the time, he's busy with a billion other rooms and left notes as a reminder anyway. There was one birth bed (which I was told there was 2 berth beds) . And there were 2 twin beds and at night they took the rollaway bed from under and put it by the twin beds, so it looked like one big bed from one wall to the other. Some nights my 6 yr. old slept in the berth bed and during the last 4 nights, she slept with us and all 4 of us were snuggled on the "one big bed". Take note that if the berth bed is down, you can't see the tv!!! Had the tv been on the side where the vanity mirror is, you can watch tv with the berth bed down, but that wasn't the case. The berth bed gets in the way of the tv. We liked to unwind and put the tv on before bed. Also, I did bring a nigh light but it didn't fit into the outlet (the nighlight would have needed to be placed upside down, but couldn't do that because there was no room for the bulb). So what we did instead....which worked wonderfully....was we left the closet light on! Opened the closet door just a bit so some of the light emits out. I thought that was a great idea! ? So my girls were able to see in the dark if they needed to go to the bathroom. For all you about to go on a cruise, leave the nightlight at home. It's one less thing to pack and why take it when you can use the dim closet light. ? ENTERTAINMENT: We were extremely happy with the entertainment shows. The comedian (the name is escaping me right now), my husband loved. The magician....Gleason, was awesome. And The Bollywood show is a do not miss. Great entertainment. The Fairwell Show is comprised of both the magician and comedian....1/2 hr. each. During the magician only show on the 2nd night, DH, myself and our 2 girls chose seating in the first row. We got our seats ½ hr. before show time . It wasn't until 3 min. before show time that a NCL staff member says to us that we cannot sit there. "Why?", we asked. Because kids were not allowed in the first row. We tell him that we've been here for ½ hr. and how come you didn't say anything sooner because now all the seats were filled. Yea, we were a little pissed (especially my 6 yr. old). Fortunately, someone in the 2nd row said we can have their seats cuz they were going to go in the first row. So during the magician show, we did see other kids in the first row on the other side!!!! What was up with that and how come they never mentioned anything to them about not sitting there?? I just kept my mouth shut, and I really wanted to say something to that guy....but just dropped it. Anyway, for one of the events, the magician chose my 6 yr. old for his next trick. And she got chosen for the best one. It was one where she had to sit there on the stage with the magician while he told this story and it was so beautiful. The 'trick' was at the end having to do with a string. So at the end he gives her his cd, which is for sale at the end of the show. Well, would you believe, and this is no lie, my child was a celebrity for 2 days!!! After the show, tons of people recognized her and came up to her saying how she did a good job and this and that. In elevators, people recognized her, and in the restaurants and hallways...and even the next day....people spotted her as being the girl on stage w/ the magician. People even came up to my husband at the gym saying "wasn't your daughter the one......" We were absolutely amazed at her "celebrity status" and all the attention she received from other people on the ship anywhere she went, that they recognized her as being the one on stage w/ the magician. ? The magician also gave her a playing card and told her if she puts it under her pillow at night that it will turn into a whole deck of magic cards. Well, would you believe, as chance would have it that we did have a deck of playing cards in our luggage. So when she fell asleep, we put that deck of cards under her pillow where she put the one card that the magician gave her. You should have seen her face when she woke up. She was extremely excited that "the magician was right! Look! It turned into a whole deck of magic cards!" It really was too cute. POOLS: We did not go in the big pool....at all. No thank you. We felt the pool was much too small for all those people. I wouldn't even set my feet in there. Extremely crowded. The T-Rex pools are where my kids spent their time in on sea days. It was good for them, however there were some times where suddenly you see these adults in the tiny pool. I'm talking about the 10ft. round one...and there's a little slide going in there. So you have this tiny pool with about 6 adults standing around it in at one time. Yea, we were getting pretty annoyed. That left no room for my kids to swim and splash around. If you have to be standing there with your baby, than maybe the baby is just too little to be in there then. As for the other adults, I have no idea why they were in there....but come on people! Let the kids who are already in there be able to enjoy themselves. You are in the way!!!!! Also, it was annoying seeing these older kids try and go in that tiny pool (again, I'm talking about the tiny 10ft. round one). So, there was a staff member on duty that worked around there, and DH and I wouldn't hesitate to call him and point them out and he would tell them that they shouldn't be in there....that it's for younger kids. When we didn't see that staff member around, yes, I would take it upon myself to nicely tell those older kids that they shouldn't be there, that this pool is for little children. Call me mean and to mind my own business, but hey.....there is no reason why these 13 yr. old kids should be in there. They can get the little ones hurt. THE ARCADE: To us it was a joke. Most of the games cost $1.00 to play, and these games aren't even new. We're talking over 10 yrs. old. Also, to add insult to injury....1/2 of the games were out of order. While the arcade isn't a big deal to us, I just wanted to mention this in case there were other pple with kids who are interested in the arcade. KIDS CREW: My 6 ½ yr. old didn't seem too impressed with it. My 3 ½ yr. old, on the other hand, seemed to LOVE it. We never had them there during the day. If they were there it was for a couple hours in the evening. We left the choice of going there for my oldest and if she didn't want to go, we didn't make her (like we saw so many parents do! It was heart breaking to see/hear a child SCREAMING and clinging on because they didn't want to go and the parents just 'forcing' them to!!). The counselors seemed great. And my 3 yr. old's favorite was Panda. Panda actually started crying when she said goodbye to my Angelina. It was so sweet. ? When they are in the play gym area, you can go outside on the deck and 'spy' on your child. That's what we did just to see what our little one was up to. LOL It was quite funny and fun to do for a little bit. Beepers: That first day when we registered my kids for the camp (after we ate lunch), I asked about beepers (since my 3 ¾ yr. old is not potty trained yet)...and one of the girls tried to tell me that they can't us a beeper for her. When I asked why she proceeds to tell me that they only have 5 beepers, and they save them for the 2 yr. olds...the ones who are really not potty trained and are in diapers. And this is after I tell her my child has some issues and is delayed. Uh, just because my kid is in pull ups doesn't make her any less trained than a 2 yr. old in diapers. But later on that night when we did drop her off, I got a beeper with no problem. I mention this in case they try to say the same for your 'older' non-potty trained child. BERMUDA: We didn't go around much in Bermuda. We actually went to the same beach for the 3 days...Horseshoe Beach. It was so beautiful and we loved it. When you walk in there's a cove w/ rocks and such, which is a calmer and shallower area. Then you have the regular beach with the crashing of the waves. Our girls spent time at both areas. The calmer section to hang out and for them to swim without the intimidation and the regular beach section for more excitement (to run away from the waves as they come). We probably would have explored more and perhaps went to more places, but my 3 ½ yr. old was very off-ish. A couple things happened to her which resulted in her being cranky on and off.....one of them having to do with potty training incident (she wouldn't go poop on the potty no more after the automatic flushed kicked in and SCARED her half to death, so when poop-time came, it was extremely stressful on us all....and then another incident of her getting whacked in the forehead pretty good by a door, and spending time in the dr. office then her throwing up all her pain medication. That happened the first day we were in Bermuda...right before we hit the beach.). So my itinerary was to go and see more things, but that just didn't happen. That's okay though. We were happy we got to spend our time on such a beautiful beach in Bermuda. The cruise staff does not check if you have food in your bags when you leave the ship while in port, so I took it upon myself to pack some stuff from the Garden Cafe to the beach. This was the best thing we could have done. I packed dry cereal, croissants, Danish, and some apples or bananas. This is what my girls ate when they were hungry. Everyone else you see on the beach is eating snacks that they brought too from the ship. There was a time I got flamed for mentioning this on this board (when I mentioned about bringing a couple cookies offshore), and on the beach it was obvious I was not the only one who did this. EVERYONE was eating stuff that they got from the ship. They do have a place at Horseshoe Beach where you can buy food. But the prices are expensive. $5.00 for a hamburger and like $15.00 for fish and fries......very expensive. My snacks helped curb the hunger so when we left the beach, we would shower up and be ready for dinner. Bring lots of ziplog bags (large and small ones). This came in handy to store those snacks (and dirty or wet swimwear, etc.). ;) Don't waste your time in trying to bring some sand home. I had some in a little ziplock bag, and it showed up in the xray machine when we got back on the ship, and they had to take it away. They put my sand in a pile with about 5 other containers/bags of sand that others had too. LOL We also brought 2 big sports water bottles. We filled them up w/ water and ice so at the beach you don't have to worry about being thirsty or buying the expensive drinks there. TRANSPORTATION: We took the bus to Horseshoe Bay, and it takes 25 min. You then have to walk down this hill....a few minutes of a walk then you get to the beach. On your way back from the beach, there's a guy who will take you back up the hill for $1.00/per person. Kids under 10, I believe, are free. So for $2 each day...that little ride from him was sooooo worth it!!!! After a long day at the beach, you're hot and hungry.....no way do you want to walk up that hill with the kids and beach bags, etc. TIP: They say kids 5 and under are free for the busses and transportation in Bermuda. My oldest is 6 ½ and nothing was asked so we never paid for her fare. It's very easy to get away with having your "little older than 5 yr. old child" not pay. I'm not trying to be sneaky about anything, just honest with you. When you go up to the ticket booth, you just say "....for 2 adults" and they don't even ask you about the kids or even look at them to see what age they are. Same w/ on the busses. The bus drivers are very, very lax. DISEMBARKATION I'm so glad we chose to do a self disembark and take care of our own luggage. We were in our car by 7:45 am!!! We could have had breakfast and left our luggage in our room and retrieve it after breakfast....but we just wanted to start heading home. I'm not sure when the first times of disembarkation was, but I'm glad we were one of a small handful that decided to take our own and do it early. No waiting to find our luggage, no wait on customs....it was easy breezy!! It was a lot of walking all the way out to our final stop: our car!! OTHER TIPS: - The movie that is currently playing in the movie theater, is the same movie that is playing in your cabin tv. I forgot what channel it is, but we did find this out. - Keep in mind that if you want "Bermuda" souvenirs, there are more items that say "Bermuda" off the ship. There were more "Norwegian Dawn" items ON the ship. I mention this, because we were specifically looking for items that said Bermuda instead of NCL, and most of that will be found off the ship. - On down times, watch some of the NCL stations on the tv. You learn a lot about the crystal caves, the aquarium, etc. and lots of the other places you read about on this board! - In the Garden Cafe, apple juice can be found at the kids station during lunch and dinner. Since they take them away for lunch and dinner, you can get your apple juice from there. - T-Rex pool - Don't hesitate to call the staff member on duty or talk to him about older kids in the little pool, etc. He helped us with that, and after a while we started taking upon ourselves to politely tell those older kids that this pool is for little children. TO SUM IT UP: All in all, it was a good trip. We had a lot of fun and anything beats staying at home. Would I want to cruise again? Sure. However, my husband would want to try a different line first. I would want to see if there is a higher class of service as far as exceptional service and other little things that I feel could be a bit better on another cruise line. DH probably had a bit more complaints, or maybe 'annoyances' is a better word, than me and felt stronger on how he felt about them. I think though, that cruising just may not be for him. Some of it could also be a NCL thing. He is, however, willing to do/try another cruise......Royal Caribbean or Celebrity, before totally discounting cruising all together when it could just be the NCL experience for him. If another cruise doesn't work out for him, then we'll cough it up as him just being a resort type of guy. For him, he didn't like the whole "sailing on a crowded ship for 4 days" thing while only being on an island for 3 days. For him, he likes to be able to go from the pool, to the beach, to his room, back to the beach, etc. if he wanted to with ease. He felt claustrophobic on the ship he says....too many people all around and no 'elbow room' and felt like he was always on top of pple. LOL. This is why I feel a cruise may not fit his needs too much. He felt it was "too much" running around and traveling just to get to a beach....walk for 10 min, get the bus, walk back here, etc. He's more of a guy who wants to get there, and be there and be able to get back with ease. So I am happy though, that he is willing to try another cruise...but w/ another cruise line. The surcharge restaurants didn't sit well with him either. He feels that a cruise line who makes tons of money and we pay a pretty decent ticket fare, that they should have that included.....or minimally, at least the juices should be included for lunch/dinner instead of taking them away after breakfast. But these are his opinions and he's entitled to that. Just be careful because there may be some select items on the specialty menus that cost an additional surcharge on top of the initial surcharge. But I think a resort may suit my DH better. But, we shall see if a different cruise line does it for him. ;) You just never know! You will enjoy your cruise. We did. Despite some of our 'complaints' or "annoyances", I feel some of them had to do with the cruising aspect of it, and some had to do with the NCL aspect and some had to do with my higher expectations of things that just weren't there at times. But that's okay. None of that ruined our trip. ? Despite any of this, I never knew or heard of a vacation that I wished I rather be home. Myself, my husband and my kids did enjoy ourselves and we made the most of it as it beats being home. ? I do look forward in cruising again, and I'm glad that my DH is willing to give another cruise line a shot before he throws the ol' cruising towel in. ? I hope you found this useful and possibly informative, and thank you for taking the time to read my review. *This review is also posted in the NCL section, where you can ask me any questions. :) ~Dawn Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We just got back from a six day cruise to Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Spirit. My DH and I were joined on this sailing by my Nephew and his girlfriend. We were in an AC suite and my Nephew was in a balcony a few cabins down. As all of ... Read More
We just got back from a six day cruise to Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Spirit. My DH and I were joined on this sailing by my Nephew and his girlfriend. We were in an AC suite and my Nephew was in a balcony a few cabins down. As all of you had read the itinerary for this sailing was changed at the last minute to Bermuda due to the impending storms. This was fine with us as the ship is just as much of a destination. We had just been to Bermuda in May on the Dawn so I find myself making comparisons to that trip as well as the other 3 times we have been on the Spirit. The ship was due to sail at 4:00 pm but at that time there were still people boarding the ship and we waved good-bye to the Dawn as she pulled out of port. We were then told that there was a customs issue followed by a medical emergency. At about 6:00 pm we were then told that there was a problem with the ships engine - actually a fuse that powers it and we would be underway shortly. We pulled out of port at 8:15. Alls well that ends well. The suite - We have stayed in this exact suite before and there are a few additions. We now had an espresso maker and the mattress was changed to a new one on Wednesday. The furniture was somewhat stained and starting to look like it could use an overhaul but the room was kept immaculately clean. The bedspreads are replaced by white covered comforters which is a big improvement. All toiletries are Elemis. The Ship itself is clean and well maintained but could use a sprucing up which I think it will get when it goes into drydock. The staff was 99 % wonderful so you really can't ask for more. Food and pricing - We ate at all the specialty restaurants. La Trattoria now has a 10.00 cover and in my opinion on this ship- is not worth it. The menu is limited and there were things that the Dawn had on the menu that this venue did not. Two of our crew had pasta that was not really good. There was nothing outstanding about this restaurant. The Main Dining Room food was good. Also different menu. On lobster night the Dawn had a nice size lobster tail and then veggies ect. On this ship it was a very small tail and Grouper with rice and veggie. It was good. Cagney's - was very good as was le Bistro. We also ate at Shogun and Teppanyaki. Shogun was really very good. Teppanyaki we had issues with. My Nephew has food allergies to sesame - so bad that he carries an epipen. I informed the waitress, and then he told them. When salad came out - you guessed it - sesame in the salad. We saw it but never made a big deal about it. About 5 minutes later they must have realized what they did and brought him a new one and grabbed the other away. So please be careful if you have these problems. On the other hand in Shogun they could have not been more accommodating. The thing that gets me is that all the specialty restaurants have cover charges - which is fine - they have all gone up in price from last year but everything goes up - now they have premium items that cost above and beyond the cover. I just felt that was pushing it. Entertainment - There were two shows - On the Radio and Broadway show tunes - both of which we had seen before. There was Second City, a Magician and a Comic. All were ok. They had Monte Carlo night and the White Hot Party. There were NO deck parties which I found odd - they had them on the Dawn just a few months ago as well as all the above. As you have read there are no longer any pool games or that kind of stuff. There was a band at the pool twice as well as the NCL show band was at the Bier Garden once. They did have karaoke every night at the Bier Garden - family from 8-11 and adult at 11 till whenever. They are looking to make it a more sedate atmosphere. Our cruise Director was Darin who was leaving the ship after our sailing. We have had him before but because of the changes we didn't see him around as much. Bermuda - was beautiful but we really didn't go too far as we had done this all a few months ago. We did some shopping and then spent the morning at Snorkel Park to be able to get in the water for a while. We did go into Hamilton. All in all it was a nice cruise and we got out of it what we wanted. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
My husband and I are in our 30's and we included our 3 teenagers 15-14-12 on our recent trip. We spent 4 days prior to the cruise in NYC seeing all the necessary sites. Honestly, the cruise was more like a vacation from NY after ... Read More
My husband and I are in our 30's and we included our 3 teenagers 15-14-12 on our recent trip. We spent 4 days prior to the cruise in NYC seeing all the necessary sites. Honestly, the cruise was more like a vacation from NY after spending the previous 4 days running around like crazy through NY trying to absorb it all. We were exhausted! Our itinerary was originally Florida and Bahamas, but Hanna shook things up a bit in the Bahamas so we went to Bermuda instead. Having been on 4 previous cruises, my husband and I had an idea of what to expect during embarkation and so forth, although this was our first cruise with NCL. We arrived to the pier at 12pm and actually stepped foot onboard at approximately 2:45pm. A very long process compared to what we have experienced previously. We grabbed a quick bite to eat in Raffles and started taking the kids around to get familiar with the boat. We were due to leave the pier at 5pm, however, we never left until after 7pm due to some sort of engine problem. The cabins are average and similar to other cruise lines. We elected outside cabins with windows as oppose to a balcony for obvious reasons with the teenagers. We had 2 cabins right next to one another. The bathroom was actually larger and had two sliding glass doors between the shower, vanity and the toilet. We were disappointed with the 13" TV and quality of the bed mattresses. Additionally, you can hear most everything taking place overhead and next to you during the night. We were also disappointed with the overall quality of the ship, taking into consideration the age of the ship. The first few nights we ate in Windows. The freestyle is nice and we never had a significant wait. Reservations are only required for large parties of 10 or more. They claim resort casual as the dress code, although we did discover there truly was no adherent dress code. Windows is designated their only "dress up" dining room but also required pants according to the newsletter. We followed the dresscode only to be seated next to people in their shorts and tank tops. The food was not exceptional. They offered a variety, however, I did not expect artificial crab in the hot and sour crab soup. After being disappointed the first couple nights we elected to dine at Le Bistro requiring an additional $15 cover charge per person. It was not mentioned that there is an additional charge ontop of the cover charge for certain food items on the menu, such as lobster. This was an additional $10. Bermuda is beautiful. We had a wonderful time and were able to book an excursion despite everyone racing to book all their excursions at the same time because we didn't know where we were going until the morning of the cruise. I do recommend booking through the cruise line as oppose to independently, because if it does get cancelled you are not scrambling for refunds from varies shore excursion providers. We chose this particular cruise due to the stop in Florida to take the kids to Universal Studios. The excursion was cancelled but I didn't have to take care of anything for a refund because NCL handled it for us. I do recommend the snorkeling excursion we took with the Restless Native Catamaran crew...honestly one of the best excursions we have taken over the years. The water was crystal clear and 80 degrees...perfect! The following day was horrible weather with Hanna stretching to the east. The route home also came with bad weather and a rough ride. The teenagers actually enjoyed their activities with the other kids in their age groups. No real complaints there. NCL also automatically charge you $10 per person, per day for gratuities to be split with the entire staff. I felt this to be a disservice to their employees. While others excelled, their coworkers who didn't are receiving the same benefits. It was also interesting that most of the staff didn't start to pay attention to the passengers until the last day at sea. Our cabin steward was the only person I felt obligated to acknowledge his efforts to make out stay more comfortable. We concluded that we will not be cruising with NCL in the future despite the convenience of the freestyle cruising. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Just got back from Norwegian Dawn cruise to Bermuda. This was my first cruise & I guess there were good & bad parts...here goes... GOOD: The cruise ship is beautiful. It is very clean & large, there was great maid service, ... Read More
Just got back from Norwegian Dawn cruise to Bermuda. This was my first cruise & I guess there were good & bad parts...here goes... GOOD: The cruise ship is beautiful. It is very clean & large, there was great maid service, & very good food in the "free" restaurants. Embarking & return were quite smooth. BAD: Front Desk-every time I tried to ask them something I got a different response! Restaurants: After paying a fairly expensive price for a balcony room they really have some nerve charging an ADDITIONAL price for MOST of their restaurants. Seriously! Pictures: Yes, it's nice to take pictures but not only were they overpriced, they were taken in the main entry-way and made it very difficult to get through every evening. I felt that any time they thought they could get money out of you they tried to! Even BINGO started at $34 but we were told you don't have a chance at winning unless you play with the $70 boards...honestly $70 to play BINGO? The cruise director was TERRIBLE! The only time he tried to tell us what was going on was if there was money for NCL to make (example only mentioned BINGO or the art auction or the meeting to book future cruises). If I heard him say "drop your hotdogs for smashing bingo" one more time I might have slapped him! All of the drinks including a soda had an automatic 15% tip added to the bill. The art auction was a joke! Nothing comes framed and they charge an additional $50 to ship the artwork! Also, there was very limited nightlife and the shows were TERRIBLE! I saw better in my 10th grade drama class! I would take another cruise but DEFINITELY NOT with NCL! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
May 11th, 2008. What a way to celebrate Mothers Day as poor Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death. From our nearby cabin on the same deck, we could see the flashing light on the floating life jacket someone had ... Read More
May 11th, 2008. What a way to celebrate Mothers Day as poor Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death. From our nearby cabin on the same deck, we could see the flashing light on the floating life jacket someone had tossed to the seas in an attempt to reach her. We watched in awe from our own Balcony as the ship dispatched a rescue boat and quickly recovered the life jacket, with no-one attached. As hope began to dwindle, the Captain (along with the Coast Guard) made a valiant effort for several hours circling the area in the wake of increasingly stormy seas. Just one announcement was made from the bridge that evening. The original plan was to outrun or sidestep the oncoming storm over the Atlantic, but now delayed by the (necessary) attempted rescue mission, we would be forced to endure 36 hours of the roughest waters and highest seas of the year, with waves from 27 to 42 feet and winds up to 40 mph. Oddly enough, I slept like a baby, being rocked to sleep, as others feared for their lives and the life of the woman overboard. It wasn't until late next morning that the Captain informed us of the tragic loss at sea, and that our ship was seaworthy enough to continue through the storm. When my wife and I finally attempted to leave the cabin, we saw all the barf bags put around the ship, and the few brave seasick souls wandering the halls, we realized we were better off HORIZONTAL for as long as possible. Waiting in our cabin, we figured that at any time now, the ship's cruise director and entertainment staff would do SOMETHING to comfort the guests and take our minds off everything that was going on. No such luck. For the next two days, the ship looked like a ghost town. When people started getting bored, looking for games, activities, distractions, communication and camaraderie from the crew...their was none to be had. Little did we know that most of the crew were in their LAST MONTH of a ten month contract, and couldn't wait to get off the boat and back home to their families. For whatever reasons, after 30+ cruises, we have never seen lower morale, friendliness or competency of the staff OR crew. The ONLY announcements that would be made for the rest of the cruise was when they had something to sell you like jackpot bingo or the art auctions or a casino tournament. At Sprinkles Ice Cream Parlor on the (drained) pool deck, there was NEVER any sprinkles available, or toppings, or cups, or chocolate ice cream. Where are the sprinkles at sprinkles we asked. We were told it's just a name. How about some chocolate syrup? Sorry, it's all gone stale. Because of the sea conditions, all outdoor pools and hot tubs had to be drained. This included the equally miserable voyage BACK to NY as well. Well, at least we had TWO cabin stewards to attend to our stateroom, and leave us ONE bath towel nightly (total) for the both of us. After sleeping in on the morning of the severe storm, we saw them both outside in the hallway and requested that our cabin be made up. They told us NO, it would mean they have to work overtime, and that we should call the reception desk for help. Of course the one-touch buttons on the in-cabin phone NEVER worked, so good luck trying to get someone to answer. They did however, call us two days later about a soda spill on he carpet that we had reported on Day 1. At this point, let me rewind our story to BEFORE the cruise, when the Compass Rewards department of NCL delayed a certificate we had been awarded (through their Bank Of America MasterCard program) and the NCL reservations dept. overcharged a cruise amount not authorized by us. It is in the process of being straightened out and correct credits applied. Oh well, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. And you really can't blame the rude thugs who welcome you at embarkation at the Port Of New York, because they may not work directly for NCL? When we were sitting in the waiting area before going through security, my wife asked approx. how much longer it might take. So this NASTY security agent yells "FIVE HOURS....3 Hours, maybe 3 Minutes, I don't know what you people want me to tell, you...how would I know, I just work here! Now just stay seated and you have to WAIT like everyone else". I videotaped HER and many other incidents of rudeness and thoughtlessness that I can't wait to edit and send to NCL (and upload to YouTube). But being a cruise out of NEW YORK, we figured let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Once onboard, the ship IS drop-dead beautiful (for lack of a better term) and has one of the best layouts of public lounges and passenger deck space that we've ever seen. The welcome glasses of Champagne are a nice touch, even of you are NOT personally escorted to your stateroom, as some lines still do. Of course the ravenous New York crowd, many with their luggage still in tow, had to gridlock the grand-atrium lobby to make reservations for the week at all the alternative dining venues before even making their way to their cabins. The average age of THIS crowd seemed to be a little too old even for Holland America! (But we're on NCL). Being in our 40's, and knowing that we'll be seniors one day, I'm not going to make any disparaging remarks here, but let's just say that the "mature" crowd you get on Celebrity or Princess out of Florida or even Europe are a tad more refined then their East Coast counterparts. We knew we'd have to make our own FUN on this ship (This ain't even Carnival), and thank God we brought the travel-scrabble with us and I've got unlimited email access through my iPhone! By the time we got to Bermuda, I was actually THRILLED to be paying $2 per minute to call the office and hear about problems AWAY from the cruise! Okay, so what went so wrong? Can you really blame NCL for the stormy seas, or the poor woman who went overboard? (NOT due to the stormy seas). NO. However, one would expect that at fearful times fraught with endless hours of BOREDOM and SEASICKNESS aboard ship, with many outdoor decks closed off for safety reasons...that the staff and crew would have a PLAN B to comfort and entertain the guests. Perhaps some more announcements not to worry. Perhaps the Calypso band playing out on deck even if pools were drained. Perhaps extended hours at the buffet, or the opening of the other restaurants BEFORE 5:30 PM Perhaps a complimentary open bar for an hour or two. Perhaps an impromtu game or activity in the daytime, BEFORE the late evening shows. (No hairy chest or knobby knees contests here!) Perhaps the quartet playing during the day when you could hear a pin drop. Perhaps a MOVIE or TWO added to the Cinema's schedule of night-time only flicks. No such thoughtfulness here. WE spoke with many 1st time cruisers who were horrified at the whole experience and vowed never to cruise again. But now, let's talk about what went RIGHT. And some things were GREAT! ***The Buffalo Wings at the 24 hour Blue Lagoon are GREAT. (Included) ***The Fresh Fruit Smoothies served at all bars are GREAT. ($6.90 each) ***All of the non-included restaurants are WONDERFUL and worth the added service charge, with our favorite being "Impressions" Italian Restaurant also the best value ($10.00 pp) Beware, however of screaming babies being brought everywhere, including those ambient upscale dining venues, as well as the disco at midnight! Few parents thought to arrange for babysitting or ever considered their child's sleeping patterns. ***NCL's Childrens Activities Programs are great, and we heard nothing but raves about them from parents who were NOT total yahoos. ***The nightime entertainment, lounges, production shows were all VERY GOOD even if their was limited dancing (other than disco). We participated in the Second City Comedy Troupe shows and workshops and even starred in a lame-o version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (with 5 people sitting in the audience) ***BERMUDA. Being docked for 3 days at Royal Navy Dockyard and being able to come and go from the ship 24/7 is GREAT! The ferry boats all run on schedule to take you to Hamilton and St. George AND our highlight of the week was renting out own scooters, (my wife doesn't drive, but they will rent to anyone over 16) and speeding around the winding roads in the rain while looking at the seascape instead of the road ahead. Oh, what a RUSH! ***The SPA. The ONE time we were able to use it, was GREAT! They only allow a limited number of guests at one time, so you never feel crowded. And it's ADULTS ONLY!!! So NO screaming babies! There are male, female and co-ed relaxation rooms overlooking the aft. / ships wake. Steam rooms, sauna, etc. The cost is $20 per day per person or $75 for unlimited use all week. We had opted for the unlimited use of the Spa's heated indoor pool, jacuzzi and hydrotherapy tub, all of which were closed on the seas days as well. On the last day, I firmly requested a full refund of the $140 (for 2) Spa up-charge and they did comply (albeit begrudgingly and without apology). ***If you are celebrating an ANNIVERSARY, you will have a special song sung to you at dinner. It's the only song they know, and we heard it many times. (We don't want to ruin the surprise for you). ***The Forward (BOW) Jacuzzi behind the Bimini Bar (hot dogs and hamburgers) above the pool deck. Secluded, overlooking the ocean and away rom the noise. If it ever had water in it on a sea day,this would have been our favorite spot. ***The Casino has slots and every table game except for Caribbean Stud Poker, which is probably a good thing as it curtailed my donation from being higher. They put out a little munchie buffet every evening. ***The Chocoholic Buffet, albeit ill-timed and placed. Get there EARLY so after waiting on a 45 minute long snaking line, YOU won't find all the chocolate covered strawberries and apples gone while the late show has already started. All in all, how can we complain? Okay, so we did have to spend approx. $92,000 on two MasterCards to accumulate enough Compass Rewards points to be awarded FOUR $500 certificates good towards this $2,000 cruise for two. We took a chance went in OFF-SEASON to Bermuda on the very rough Atlantic Ocean, before our certificates were to expire. Each day onboard felt like a week, but now that we're home for a few hours we're asking "How did a week go by so fast?" And how can we be THIS hungry again so soon? Writing this review, as I look out the window from our 21st floor condo in Guttenberg, NJ. I see the Norwegian Dawn leaving again (weather is still bad) with another 2,000+ "FreeStyling" it, thankful that we are home safe and alive, and looking forward to our next cruise in January...which thankfully will NOT be on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Because of the horrible and unsettling announcement 4 hours into the voyage that some poor soul had fallen overboard, this became a very complicated and difficult cruise to truly enjoy. However the following are some observations on the ... Read More
Because of the horrible and unsettling announcement 4 hours into the voyage that some poor soul had fallen overboard, this became a very complicated and difficult cruise to truly enjoy. However the following are some observations on the May 11 NCL Dawn sailing out of NYC to Bermuda: Embarkation: traffic around and into the pier can be a problem so allow plenty of time. From arrival time (about noon) at the pier to boarding was about an hour; rooms were ready about 1:30 PM. Luggage arrived about 5PM. Ship: our room was inferior compared to other ships we have sailed on. The carpet was worn and stained, the mirror behind the bed had 2 big grease stains on it and hadn't been cleaned in a while; the balcony was very dirty. However in general, the public areas on the ship were very clean and in great shape. Cabin Steward: she never introduced herself and we finally sought her out in the evening. While she was friendly enough, our simple requests for a bottle of water or filling the soap dispenser always required several reminders. I always give an advance tip of $40 but this time it had no affect on the level of service. Entertainment: this was a big disappointment. The 3 Jean Ryan productions were good, especially "Band on the Run" which is a new version of a show we have seen before. Bollywood was also good and very creative; the Miami show was entertaining. All the rest was pretty bad; I have see better piano players at high school recitals. Dining: I am not sure of the value of the NCL upgrade called "2.0"; the food was much the same as our experience on the NCL Star in 2007. The Venetian and Aqua dining rooms were very well run; service was great and the food very good. Bamboo has a similar menu to PF Chang's (Asian fusion) and the food is also very good. Impressions is well worth the modest $10 cover charge; the food is excellent. Salsa is one of the better venues but if I hadn't befriended some of the staff, I would have never gotten a table. It seemed like they were doing a favor by accommodating diners, but by 9 PM the place was usually empty. Cagney's was a huge disappointment; a long wait and very over-rated. Again, getting seated seemed like some over-complicated ordeal While seating is a little close, the Blue Lagoon serves some great appetizers, burgers and wings. Although we usually avoid buffets, there is a Deli station in the buffet restaurant that prepares some great NY style sandwiches! Casino: some of the staff were very poorly trained and unfamiliar with pay-off procedures and gambling rules. However free drinks are finally offered (to players with an NCL players card) and no fee is charged for obtaining money against your ship-board account. We won about $800 on slots and another $1,000 on table games; some was returned to the casino but most was applied against our account. Staff: Friendly but nearing the end of their contract and no doubt anxious to go home. This is a very tough job and you have to respect them for maintaining such a positive attitude with so many over-demanding and over-indulgent passengers. Disembarkation: NCL does such a great job with this; the colored tags drive an efficient and painless process. On the final day, we had a nice breakfast in the Venetian and afterwards waited for about 45 minutes in our cabin for our color to be announced. From then, it took less than 45 minutes to clear US Customs, retrieve our luggage and be on our way to the Newark airport. Weather: be forewarned, there is a reason why the price for a spring cruise to Bermuda is so low. While the weather on the island may be pleasant enough, the Atlantic is very unpredictable anytime but can be particularly hostile during this time of the year. While on the ocean to and from Bermuda we experienced storms, gale force winds and waves from 18' to 42' almost the entire time. One afternoon, my wife and I were sitting at the window by Le Bistro and the ship hit a wave that covered the entire window and we were virtually looking into the ocean, A passenger walking in the hallway actually got wet from sea water that penetrated the window seal. Another time, I was standing on our 10th floor balcony watching the ocean and suddenly I was looking at a totally white wall of ocean spray. I loved this wild aspect of the cruise but I am sure I was in the minority. Bermuda; beautiful, safe, historic; without a doubt one of the best ports we have ever visited. Conclusion; the Dawn is a very good ship that offers great value. Feel free to email with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We took a cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. We left on April 20th and returned April 27th. Myself, my husband and our 2 1/2 year old daughter all went. We left from Manhattan, which was nice. From where we live it was easy to get to ... Read More
We took a cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. We left on April 20th and returned April 27th. Myself, my husband and our 2 1/2 year old daughter all went. We left from Manhattan, which was nice. From where we live it was easy to get to the port, parking was not a problem. For the week it cost $210.00 to park at the pier. Getting on the ship took about 1-1 1/2 hours total. It was not too bad but with a 2 1/2 year old it was a long wait. Once on the ship we went to our room. We booked an inside cabin. It was small, smaller then Carnival or Disney but was clean. For the most part the ship was in good shape. Everything was clean except for the windows. They often looked dirty. The ship was VERY crowded. It was spring break for many school so there were LOTS of children. It was difficult to find a seat at the buffet for lunch or breakfast. Also we had to wait approx. 30 minutes to eat in the main dining rooms for dinner. If you were not in a rush it was not such a big deal but with a 2 1/2 year old it was too much. The food for the most part was fine. We ate in the Venetian, Aqua, Salsa, Impressions and Cagney's. Impressions was fair, Aqua, Salsa and Venetian were good, I'd say Cagney's was the best (but it also cost the most). The buffet was fine for breakfast and lunch but again it was SOOO crowded. My daughter went to the kids program most evenings so we could enjoy a few hours by ourselves. It was usually crowded, but the staff seemed caring. She often cried when we left her but was fine when we picked her up. The kids pool section was nice. She really enjoyed the slide and going into the pool. However, I fell a lifeguard should be on duty there at all times. Many kids were running around, not following directions and being fairly rude. Twice medical staff had to come to tend to a child who was must due to others not following the rules. We did not use the adult pool, most days were chilly. Very few seemed to use the main pool at all. Bermuda was beautiful, although not very warm. The first day and a half we spent outside Hamilton. They needed to tender us to shore. It was a pain, poorly run. We had to wait at least an hour to get on and off the boat to get to Bermuda. There were MANY upset people. By the second day many of the tours were sold out. We decided to take the bus ourselves to Horseshoe Bay Beach. It coast us $10.00 round trip by bus. The bus was staff, reliable and cheap (a great way to see the island). Horseshoe Bay is a public beach. They had bathrooms, food and was free to get into. We only spent about an hour there since it was chilly. The last day we were in the dockyard. It was east to get on and off the ship. They had a free trolly to see the dockyard. It was so beautiful. They had a snorkel park, a shopping area, a museum and some places to eat in the dockyard area. Getting off the ship we did the express disembarkation. So did many others. We waited about 1-1/2 hours to get off the ship. The cruise overall was not bad just crowded, The weather also could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
I'm an active 61, my wife an active 58. We are not prone to any physical disabilities and would like to think we act "youngish" for our age... so if you're looking for observations by some sour-grapes-cruisers this one ... Read More
I'm an active 61, my wife an active 58. We are not prone to any physical disabilities and would like to think we act "youngish" for our age... so if you're looking for observations by some sour-grapes-cruisers this one may not be for you ! The "Gem" is a much prettier ship than the ghastly photos of it on the internet would have you perceive. It's clean, (fairly) well managed, has a lot of stuff to do for the younger set (rock walls, baby-sitting facilities, etc.), and like most ships has good, and not-so-good qualities. The good: The music... Selwyn Wright & Taylor (?) are both unique and wonderful piano players, two of the best I've heard, and as a former musician myself you'd best off believe me on my assessment of the two. "Ken", a singing jazz oriented guitarist is top notch, and a female guitarist/vocalist who tends to be more pop orients is also well worth hearing and built-up a substantial fan-base during the voyage. With the exception of the Alto sax player "Dale", the stage band is marginal at best... almost embarrassingly so at times. If you have a critical ear stay away from them. The comedian (Ross) was both funny & clean... a rare and positive combination. The magician was predictable and seemed to rely as much on dramatics as skill during his presentation. All-in-all a far better than average talent line-up... especially if they put their stage band out-to-sea. The rooms: We had a balcony cabin. Considering how low-end the ports were on the trip we felt the cabin costs were too high, the cabin size too small, and if you like to lay around a take a TV break once-in-a-while you'll find the only thing worse than the size of the tiny screens is the pitiful reception the ship offers you. Yes, you can pay extra for a movie... but pleeeeaaaasssseeee ! If the damned reception isn't watchable you'd think they'd put a movie on just to let you see s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g ! The food: The Main dining room... 3-stars out of 10 (go to Celebrity if you and your stomach are really good friends). The breakfast buffet was pretty good, but very repetitive... many people complained... but they're probably the same ones that would complain equally even if everything was great (and the breakfast buffet really wasn't half-bad). "La Cucina", Le Bistro, and a Japanese restaurant all charged extra, but I'm glad we ate at them. the ship often features a "Happy Hour" at these and other restaurants where you can eat at half-off the regular additional service charge. You've just got to be willing to eat as early at 5:30. Not really a bad deal, a great alternative to an otherwise mundane dining menu. Some folks complained about the staff of the ship... they are just "complainers", the staff was friendly and professional. We cruise 2-3 times a year... and NO, we would not highly recommend this ship for an upscale experience, but if you have kids or are planning a more relaxed and less finicky approach to a getaway this ship may be just what you're looking for. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
My husband and I traveled with our 4-year old daughter on the Dawn out of New York two weeks ago on the last sailing of the 7-day Bahamas/Bermuda itinerary before school started. It was a good cruise with beautiful weather, but there are ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with our 4-year old daughter on the Dawn out of New York two weeks ago on the last sailing of the 7-day Bahamas/Bermuda itinerary before school started. It was a good cruise with beautiful weather, but there are definitely some things I would like to highlight to other cruisers considering the Dawn or any NCL ship. First off, we didn't expect the ship to have 2700 people on it! They advertise the capacity as 2200, but the timing of this cruise attracted many families and the 800 children on-board must have been stuffed in third berths or who-knows-where. We usually prefer ships with less than 1300 passengers, so I knew my husband's comfort zone was going to be a bit challenged with this cruise chosen for the nearby departure location and kid-friendly activities...but 2700 people put all of us over the edge. The main problem for me was "THE DIN." It was so loud in the Garden Cafe (at all times) and around the pool that a relaxing buffet meal or poolside experience was not achievable. My daughter thought the kids area looked fun, but the T-Rex pool and kids room were so crowded and noisy at all times she repeatedly vetoed those options. We did find some quieter areas to hang out at and she did have a wonderful time on the trip. Despite the din and crowded environment, we found the passengers generally polite and personable and our only encounters with rude behavior came from the ship's staff (!!). More on that later. So, I guess the lesson here on booking on NCL is to have your travel agent really check into the number of guests expected, not just the published capacity. Of course, when you book early, who knows how full it will get. When they announced the 2700 passenger number on the first night, I felt we were terribly duped. Is this standard practice? The best parts of our cruise were the beautiful dEcor of this relatively new ship, the cabin (suite with a verandah on deck 11...we had adjoining rooms with our sister-in-law and niece and this worked wonderfully for the kids), the entertainment which appealed to all ages, and the variety of activities. The worst parts of the cruise were the service (across the whole ship—very impersonal and plainly unhelpful), the long embarkation process, the noise, and the freestyle dining. So, let's review the good parts. The ship is beautiful, clean, well laid-out, and easy to navigate. Our cabin was spacious, well appointed, and we really used and enjoyed the verandah. I had no worries my daughter would fall overboard. We enjoyed the entertainment--the juggler Freidiani was awesome and lots of fun, the Bollywood revue was incredible and the various lounge singers sang popular songs appealing to the 30 to 50 crowd. The Second City Improv group was also great, and our 11-year old niece was thrilled to participate in the improv workshops. The ship offered lots of good lectures and activities our entire family could enjoy. They could have offered more movies at the cinema—especially kids movies given the huge under-10 population. NCL—ever heard of a Disney flick every once in a while?? It seemed the cinema was underutilized. I was surprised it was relatively small. Now, on to the regrettable portions of the cruise (I'll try not to whine, I promise). Let me just say that we are fairly experienced cruisers—7 cruises before parenthood, 3 since—and we have come to expect good service from a friendly staff. We don't belabor the staff with lots of special requests, we have always found the food good on every cruise line, and we understand there are lots of people wanting service simultaneously. Having said that, we were ASTOUNDED at the flippant demeanor of the staff, especially the shore excursion desk and in the dining room. I attribute this deterioration of attitude and service performance to the much-touted "freestyle dining." In short, the dining room staff treats you impersonally (and at some times poorly) simply because they can get away with it—they will likely never wait on you again on the cruise! Repeatedly, the staff was distracted and the hostess dragged us all over the dining room because she didn't know the table numbers. The different restaurant options were fine, and we tried Impressions (Italian), Teppanyaki (Japanese) and Cagney's (Steak). We liked the decor and food in the main Venetian Dining room and often ate breakfast and dinner there. It was a bit quieter. Impressions was quite good, the food at Cagney's was disappointing, and the Teppanyaki was fine (kids loved it). The whole reservation process is a bit of a pain, but understandably necessary given the freestyle set-up. We tried repeatedly to book Teppanyaki, and the response was always "It's booked." Period. No explanation, no helpful hints about getting in the next day. When we finally got in at 5:30PM on a port day (a desperate move, but we managed it fine), I was amazed that this restaurant only seats 20 people. No wonder it was impossible to get reservations! You would think the reservations staff could explain it during my daily reservation quest. Some might disagree, but I longed for the old fashioned "early seating" at the dining room with the same waiter every night. Oh, how I longed for the experience of our last cruise where our waiter awaited us nightly with a plate of fruit for my daughter, my husband's iced tea, a friendly smile and greeting BY NAME. There's a new one for NCL—the stewards or waiters knowing anyone's name--the passengers are all interchangeable and transient with NCL, and the staff rarely crack a smile. The food on the Dawn was very good, and the kid's menu is available at all the restaurants (to our relief). I liked the fact that the portions in all the restaurants weren't too large…just the right size considering you are indulging in appetizers, salads, main course and of course, dessert. We found the main restaurants, Venetian and Aqua, very nice. The Venetian was our favorite because of the elegant decor, and higher "grander" ceilings, and the view out the back of the ship. The cabin stewards work very hard, were personable, but seemed to have way more cabins on the Dawn than on other cruise lines. We saw our steward twice. I think I read that a two-steward team handles 27 cabins. Wow! That's a lot of rooms. One noteworthy and telling interchange occurred on Day 1 when my husband talked to the shore excursion people. We had booked all our excursions weeks before the cruise, but there was some problem highlighted about my husband's diving excursion. Please note that the opportunity to dive in Bermuda was one of the reasons why we chose this cruise. So, my husband headed off to the desk where he was told that because he had not dived within the past year, he couldn't take the excursion. No where was this stipulation written or communicated when we booked the cruise or the excursions. When my husband requested the written policy, they couldn't come up with any written document. Divers beware!! This was extremely annoying and disappointing…and happened less than 30 minutes after our interminable embarkation process. On shore we stood on line for 1-1/4 hours (with a 4 year old). All other cruise lines we have sailed (Crystal, Windstar, Carnival, Holland America, and Princess) do this embarkation process effortlessly…NCL take note. I must say that parking at the cruise terminal in Manhattan was a breeze, and the rate was fantastic for Manhattan. As for the ports, we found Nassau and Stirrup Cay pleasant. We enjoyed the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island and were able to tour all the aquariums after our "submarine" shore excursion ended at 4PM. The glass-sided sub was good, especially since snorkeling wasn't a sure option with our 4-year-old. Taking a taxi to the Atlantis from the port only costs $4 per person. You could spend the entire day at Atlantis—it's lovely. The day at Stirrup Cay was good, and we were lucky we heeded the advice seen on this forum to "Go early, leave early, lest you endure the long tender line." The island has lots of picnic tables with umbrellas and areas in the shade. Snorkeling was best by the rocks. It wasn't exactly "getting away from it all" with 2700 fellow passengers all around, but perhaps if you hike around the island you can find more serenity and escape the noise. Bermuda was idyllic, and we found the ferry/bus system very easy to use. After taking the ferry to Hamilton, we travelled to Horseshoe Bay by public bus. The beach was crowded (we saw lots of telltale blue striped towels from the ship), but again, just take a little walk beyond the rocks and things were more serene. The surf was rough for the littlest ones, but there was a nice lagoon behind some rocks which was perfect for the toddler/under 6 set. The water was a bit too churned up to do any serious snorkeling at Horseshoe Bay. They have nice showers and bathroom area (free). We opted to take the bus back around the western arm of the island to the ship and had quite a fun and wild ride. Our glass bottom boat ride tour at 3:20 left right from the dock and was quite enjoyable—but the reef wasn't as prolific with fish as Nassau. I would take a trip back to Bermuda any day. Well, this review has been quite lengthy and I applaud your fortitude if you're still reading my diatribe. In summary, we had a nice family vacation, an overall good cruise, but we probably will not be sailing on NCL again. Other cruise lines combine a casual dress code with the "dining room plus other restaurants" in a way that preserves the essence of cruising…a relaxing, serene environment with friendly, personal service and a "yes" attitude. NCL needs improvement. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
My names Dante and I'm 28 Years old. I have cruised 5 times before Disney Magic and Wonder - FL to Bahamas Celebrity Horizon and Zenith - NY to Bermuda Royal Caribbean Jewel Of The Sea - Boston to Bermuda, Puerto Rico, ST Martin ... Read More
My names Dante and I'm 28 Years old. I have cruised 5 times before Disney Magic and Wonder - FL to Bahamas Celebrity Horizon and Zenith - NY to Bermuda Royal Caribbean Jewel Of The Sea - Boston to Bermuda, Puerto Rico, ST Martin and ST Thomas Now it is Six with NCL Sprit - NY to Bermuda, St Thomas and Tortola; which is the subject of this review I and the group I was with, my parents, Wife, Sister, Brother and his soon to be wife, weren't all that impressed with the Sprit and this cruise. Don't get me wrong we had a great time and the vacation was memorable. The ship was clean and the crew friendly, I'm am also glad most of the 'bad' reviews I had read beforehand missed the mark about NCL and this ship in particular. It's just that I would categories this cruise as the worst I have been on and that the free style dining was more of a hassle and hindrance then helpful. Once again don't get me wrong 'worst' in the last science doesn't mean bad or terrible, just not as good as my past experiences on cruises. Dining: I do not believe 'Free Style' is all its cracked up to be. For our party to sit we needed to make a reservation, unfortunate unless you make a reservation at 7am the previous day your going to be eating during show times. My mother made it a point to wake up at 7 every morning to make the next days reservations and then go back to sleep. In my book that isn't "free style" its work on your vacation. Main dining room food was good, but it was not great, since great food is one of the reasons I enjoy cruising it was a let down. The wait staff in the main dinning rooms also seemed over worked, they where all very pleasant, but they lacked the intimacy you get with other Curies lines, another reason why 'Free Style' is not for me. The specialty restaurants had the 'great' food. But you have to pay extra for it, while on other cruise lines I have been on both the main dining rooms and their specialty restraints served great food. My family and I took to eating at the specialty restaurants when we could get a reservation because the food was much better. Raffles Court & Terrace: The buffet was not what I expected. While with any buffet you should expect lines and food that isn't all that great, it is my opinion that the other cruise lines I have taken had better food and better variety. The place was a over packed mad house when it was feeding time. We stopped going to the buffet after the second day. We would take our breakfast in the main dining room, the food was fresher and tasted a lot better. We would eat lunch in either a specialty restaurant, the main dining room or the Blue Lagoon Cafe. Chocolate Buffet. Every other ship I have ever been on had a desert buffet to die for, and they set it up all nice a pretty that it was almost a shame to eat it. On this ship, they needed to keep you in the dark while you eat so that you couldn't see how bad it was (and for those of you who weren't their, they really did keep us in the dark). The place was a mob seen, no organization. They had the whole ship at one time come in through both the aft and forward doors, forming two sets of lines that opposed each other and making a mess of everything. The desert wasn't even good, I've tasted better form an Entenmann's box. And what was the deal with having the Quest and the Chocolate Buffet at the same time? Blue Lagoon Cafe: Man do I feel sorry for the wait staff that works there. The place is over crowded and unless someone orders a drink, they don't get a tip. The food was good but I did not enjoy the flocks of teenagers who hung out there, most not ordering anything. It was a nice selection of faster foods and appetizers from soup to burgers to potato skins. Being open 23 hours a day made it the place for a late night snack. Shogun Asian Restaurant Sushi and Sashimi: I do not I like sushi, but the party I was with liked it so we went to the Shogun for lunch one day. The menu seemed go for a sushi restaurant and according to those who ate, they like the sushi a lot. Be careful they allow you to eat as much as you want for one cover charge, but the portions they give you are big so don't over order. Though I told them I was not eating with the group, the wait staff encouraged me to sample other peoples orders at no cover charge. I did not take them up on that offer, but it was a nice one indeed. Le Bistro French Restaurant: The menu here did not apply to us so we never eat at this restaurant, judging by how good the other specialty restaurants where I am sure this one was good as well if you like what they serve. Teppanyaki: We had one of the most memorable times eating at the hibachi grill that they have in this restaurant. I don't normally like Asian foods and never eat it on my own, but I loved everything put in front of us at this restraint. The Entertaining chief cooking our food made the meal awesome and I would love to go back there if only I could. Cagney's Steakhouse: We eat at this restaurant twice. The first night they sat us in our own little room (there where 7 of us) and it was awesome and intimate. The wait staff where attentive and worth the $40 tip we left them on top of the cover charge. The food was also great, but be warned there are two cover charges at this restaurant $20 just to sit and have the regular menu items and $10 more if you want the three select menu items (Surf and Turf, Whole Lobster, and I cant remember the third). The regular menu items include everything you would find at a stake house from NY Strip to Half a Lobster. They allow you to order more then one item for one cover charge, so instead of the Surf and Turf I recommend the NY Strip (or any regular menu stake) and the whole lobster. It was the best lobster I've ever had I believe. The second time we went wasn't as good, they sat us at a table meant for 6 people so it was a bit cramped. The wait staff seemed to be much less attentive and since the table was in the corner it was difficult and annoying when they tried to serve us. Of course the food was just as good. La Trattoria: Does not have a cover charge which is good because its an ad hock setup restraint in part of the Raffles Court buffet room that is closed off at night. While the atmosphere was like eating at a place that was a buffet hours earlier the food was good and worth the price 'free' (or price of the ticket if you want to look at it like that) The Garden Room Main Restaurant and Windows Main Restaurant: These two restaurants served the same foods, and basically where the same restraint split down the middle. Windows was bigger and had a better decor then the Garden. The Garden was smaller and so more intimate. There where 7 of us intimacy was not what we needed so we only eat at the Garden one night. Had it been just my wife and I we might have gone there instead of Windows. The food at these main dining rooms was nothing compared to the specialty restaurants, but it was enjoyable. The wait staff where pleasant but seemed over worked, there was no real connection. Bier Garten Grill: This was a small little grill area just to the left of the Bar as well as a large serving stand on the pool deck one floor down. The serving stand was not open all the time but the Grill seemed to be open when we needed it to be, Check the website for times as I don't remember. The food was hamburgers and hot dogs, one day they had a taco bar set up. Can't really go wrong with a grilled hamburger so the food was decent (better then the buffet) Room Service: like with any cruise the menu items where of little verity. But I will say they did offer a selection of real sandwiches, which I have never seen done on past cruises. They where also very prompt with the food and or drink, which is one point of complaint I had with the past ships. Public Rooms: Ship Capacity was a big problem. There where way to many people shoved on to a ship that could not accommodate them all. Stardust Theater: The worst example of over crowding came when someone had the bright idea to have only one show time and on two nights no less. How the hell do you come to the decision that its ok for half the people on the ship to not see the show they paid for? Luckily for my family and I we saw this debacle coming down the line and showed up early, we where able to sit in balcony seats every night (good view form up there). I feel sorry for the people who had to stand to watch the shows, and even more so for those who couldn't even fit in the standing room. The Theater itself, although to small, was nice and modern. I recommend getting to the show times a bit early and sitting in the few balcony seats they have (the closer to the stage the better). They are nice box seats for you and your companion and down have a cover charge like the seats directly in front of the stage do. The Tivoli Pool and Deck area: Deck chairs are always a problem on cruise ships, but the Sprit wins the prize in this category at least. This however didn't bother me, I'm not the type to sit in the sun. But I thought I would through it in just for completeness sake. However the funny thing was there where always more chairs tide up around the deck, I wonder why they crew didn't let them out? The pool was two small for the amount of guests on the ship. Other wise it was a pool like any other pool. Galaxy Of the Stars Observation Lounge: The area was over packed during late night events and the cruise give away raffle. The Quest was a crazy adult game played in the Galaxy one night. I'm surprised no one got severely hurt doing this game. While it was a lot of fun, they must have been braking some kind of code for having so many people shoved into one place. The Lounge itself is decorated nicely and the big sea viewing windows where nice to sit in front of and have a drink in the comfy chairs. Don't miss the Captains Bridge room down the spiral stair case just to the left of the stage. Grand Centrum: Clean and efficient. The Stores where small but acuminating. No one was ever playing the grand piano at the center of the stair case, which would have been nice while sipping coffee at ship tucked away in the corner of deck 7. Buccaneer's Wet & Wild Maharajah's Casino: It was a Casino like every other on the high seas. Maharini's Lounge & Nightclub: This was a cute area with the beds and the east Asian dEcor. What they did in this room at night however was more boring then fun. My wife is really into the club seen and she said they music they would play was lame. I could care less for this type of thing so it didn't bother me much. Champagne Charlie's Champagne Bar: Great place to hand out, have a drink and listen to some of the best entertainment on the ship (cause god knows it wasn't in the Stardust Theater). Its an open area and the singers stand right in front of the balcony to deck 7 Grand Centrum. They have a few seats right up front that are nice if you can get them. Henry's Pub: One of the best place to be on the ship I think, quaint and out of the way. Not many people are in hear when there are no events going on and even when they have events its not an unimaginable crowd. The Indian bartender (sorry I'm terrible with names) was great and so was his staff. I think the Bear tasting conducted by the bartender was one of the best, if not the best, events on the ship. The bartender gave a long an entertaining schpeal about beer during the tasting. In fact his little act was so good that when we singed up for the Margarita tasting latter in the week I was so disappointed because they didn't do anything but server the Margaritas. Aquaswim: My wife and My sister tried this and said they enjoyed it Hot Tubs: not much use for a Hot Tub in hot whether so we did not use them. My suggestion would be to use the one in the kiddy pool area, it always seemed empty at night. Roman Spa & Fitness Center: My wife used both of these and enjoyed them. Jogging/Walking Track: This is in the worst place. I challenge you to jog around deck 12 with all the sun bathers and party animals around, bet you wont get very far. The Card Room: The Card Room was just that. It was clean and orderly. The wife and I played a game of chess more then once and hand fun. The Library: This is where they have the computers. It looked ok. Starlight Video Arcade: We walked through this once, it was bigger then I thought it would be. It's the Kids Casino. Cabins: The Cabin was clean but smaller then past ships I was on. The Bathrooms however where bigger then any ship I've been on which was a pulse. We had a balcony room on deck 10, which is also nice. I recommend taking the seat cushion off the couch in the room and sleeping out side on the balcony, its very peaceful and the cushion is just as comfortable as the bed. The bed was very very hard. Entertainment: The production entrainment on this ship was the worst I have ever seen. If it where not for the juggling team Shark Bait I may have found a way to shoot my self because of how bad things where. Shark Bait where not great jugglers by any stretch of the imagination, but I give them kudos for being able to do the things they did on a ship that moved as much as this one did, and more importantly for having the energy and the ability to make their routine juggling worth watching. The singers and dancers seemed to have talent where they needed to, but the shows themselves stank. Who ever is in charge of producing these things really needs to up their budget a little more. They need better costumes, some scenery would be nice, but most of all more creative is what is needed. Erase for a moment the talented singers and dancers and it was like watching a talent show at camp rather then the production entertainment it should have been. I've been on much smaller ships with ticket prices lower then we paid for this cruise and they had shows that blew you away. Brenda Kaye's hypnoses shows, where ok but I have seen much better and her stage presence was severely lacking. I don't even think she knew what she was going to say or do half the time, it all seemed thrown together at the last minuet. Which is surprising since I believe she said working the entertainment beat, cruise ships at the moment, was what she quite her hypnoses practice to do. The improve comedy 'something or other city' was not funny at all. And the technical director turned magician was terrible, he should keep his day job making sure the stage lights work and forget about his silly act of palming a quarter and shoving it into a cock can. I find it really sad that Shark Bate was the best show on this ship, while they where good, they where a b-list act. The Singers and Dancers should have been the headline but weren't. The other entertainment on the ship was good. The band and keyboardist playing at Champagne Charlie's where great to listen to. Although the band only had a hand full of songs they played and played them over and over again. On board Activities: Ship activities. I've been on 5 other cruises before this one with RCCL, Celebrity, and Disney, I would have to say that the Free Style Daily was not as good as the other five ship's I've been on. Sure they had all the things they should have, belly flop competition and ect. But it all seemed low budget compared to my other experiences. Some of the better things we did only accommodated a few people, like the Beer tasting, and its sad when it's the daily trivia your looking forward to. 'Power Point' does not make for an interesting cruise experience. Anyone go to the Virtual Ship tour? I'm an engineer so a virtual ship tour with Q&A with the Captain and the ships Head Engineer is right up my ally. What I got was a crappie Power Point presentation, with pictures you could hardly see (I was in the front row) and a cruise director who seemed disinterested in giving the "Virtual Tour" - The Q&A was good though. Brenda Kaye said every time you fall asleep and wake up again you are hypnotized, so I guess I can count my self to be one of the lucky people she hypnotized on the ship. Yes, I went to her "Hypnotism Revealed" lecture. Boy was it a snoozer, I could barley read what she had on her power points. Shore Excursions: The Shore Exclusions where good I suppose, not any worse then on other ships I've been on. I would say it was the port of calls that weren't all that great. We took a Catamaran in ST Thomas a 4 our sail and snorkel. Unfortunately some dumb mother who forgot that just because she was on vacation doesn't mean she stops being a mom messed up the excursion of us. On the way out to snorkeling sight she let her little girl, couldn't be more then 5 years old, run around unattended. Now ST Thomas has some pretty ruff water so the Catamaran was being bounced all over the place, fun for an adult dangerous for a five year old all by her self. Well, luckily, with the help of my father the little girl didn't fall over board. But half way through the trip to the snorkel sight the child bashed her head on something and started to bleed quite a lot. The Captain of the ship turned the ship around and slowly (to above any more bumps) took as back to the pear. He did take us out again once the little girl and her absent mother where off the ship, but we lost a good 1 and half hours. In Tortola we went to the beach. I really don't know why people say this is the untapped resource of the Caribbean. It was a dump and the people where very unfriendly. Bermuda was Awesome of course, we took a ferry to Hamilton and a buss to the Beach. My next cruise will be a 7 day at Bermuda one. Embarkation: Embarkation was not so good. To many people field in at the same time and if you weren't lucky enough to get one of the seats they put out you stood for a very long time. After standing for a long time waiting for them to call you in, you stood on another really long line waiting to be checked in. Not a good way to start a vacation. Service: The Cruise Director and his Staff where the least best (again a better term then worst) I have ever seen in my cruising. Darien seemed fake and shallow, someone I expect to find managing a local retail store and kissing ass for a promotion. He's also the cruise Director that I had seen less of then any other I have cruised with. In fact I think his assistant Ray was a better Director then he was, and more accessible and seen. Those who appeared to be next inline on the staff (Jill, Mat, Sherma ect) all seemed less professional then the crew on ships I've been on in the past. At times it seamed I was at summer camp rather then a cruise ship. Just to be clear there where members of the entertainment staff that did live up to my expectations, so in that regard it wasn't all bad. There was no connection between the wait and bar staff, most of them where pleasant but none of them where willing to go the extra mile. While on the Royal Caribbean Jewel Of The Sea we wanted for nothing. The service staff was at our beechen call (It helps to tip generously), but on the Sprit its like you have to kill someone to get noticed (even after tipping generously - which we stopped half way through the trip when it was not paying off). On the Jewel we had the bar staff balancing our drinks on their heads just to make us smile, on the Sprit all they where interested in was pushing buckets of beer so that they could get a bigger mandatory gratuity on every order. On the Jewel, I know almost every bar staff members name, cause they went out of their way to be your friend, know what you wanted to drink before you asked for it and ect. We exchanged e-mail addresses with some of them, and one guy wanted to call me and my wife up at home the next time he was in the states just to say hi (and he did). On the Sprit there was nothing. Is this another causality of free style? The waitress at Henry's Pub however was very nice and friendly, she was the one saving grace for the lot of them. We continued to tip he nicely when we where in there. I think I've written enough of the bad things I've seen on this ship to make my point why I rank it as the lest best ship I've been on. But just incase your still reading I have one more thing. The stuff above where just things that put me off but other wise really didn't affect my trip much, but this next thing makes my blood boil. Our group also made it to the margarita tasting, there where 7 of us, but only three of us where doing the tasting. During the tasting of the Blue Hawaiian margarita my brothers girl friend blacked out/fainted and painfully hit her head on the table. For a moment it looked to me like she was having a very small seizure (just in case your wondering, she was not drinking the Margaritas). While my brother held his girl friend from falling on the floor, I jumped from our table and asked the bartender for help, telling him that a woman had fainted and need someone. He looked at me blankly as if I was joking with him or something or as if he didn't care. I asked him again for help a little more forcefully and this time he nodded his head, and told another person in back of the bare area to get help. Satisfied I walk back to our table to see how things where going. My brothers girl friend, thankfully, had regained consciousness but she did not look good, pail and shaking. A minuet or two later a waiter comes over and asks if everything is all right. We so no and explain that we asked the bartender to get help. He walks away. The Bartender then comes by to see how things are, and then says something that floors me. He asks if she wants someone to come get her in a while chair. This is a good few minuets after I already believed he was getting someone for her. Not about to quibble over it for obvious reasons we tell him yes to get someone with a wheel chair. We waited a hand full of more minuets for someone to arrive. The Bartender is back to serving drinks, the wait staff is waiting, and the party goes one. What does not show up is someone with a wheel chair. By this time my brother's girlfriend is doing better and looking better, and he and her decided they had better go back to the cabin to lye down. So they go. The story thankfully turns out good and in an hour or so she was back to her old self again thankfully When they went to go lie down, I went to the front desk to lodge a complaint. I wasn't angry. If you knew me, you'd know I'm not one to get agree. My complaint was not to get anyone into trouble or to cause trouble. It was to inform those who should care about a deficiency in their system, so that the next person this happens to gets the help they need. The receptionist was pleasant, but what she told me was ridiculous she said she was sorry, and that they would look into the matter. Then she tired make an excuse for the incident, she tried to make me believe that perhaps, just perhaps, there was another medical emergence at that exact time that was calling on the resources of all those capable of helping, which is why no one came. My brothers girlfriend thankfully just fainted, but what happens if she or someone else really was having a seizure, a heart attack, or something else that requires immediate medical response? Luckily I have never had to experience the medical staff on the other cruises I've been on so I can't compare. Maybe all cruise ships are deficient in this area and I'm being to hard on the Sprit. But I know now how the Sprit is, and all I can do is hope other ships are better. I wont cruise with this ship again though. The Ship: I have never been on a ship that rocked and shook as much as this ship did. From beginning to end there was not a moment of this cruise that the ship was not shaking except when it was standing still. For me particularly I don't mind it much, I don't get seasick and truth be told its kind of nice to be rocked to sleep. But my wife, whom also has never been seasick before this cruise, stop going to the "Galaxy of the Stars Observation Lounge" because it moved just to much up there. This was a hassle because a lot of activities where done there, so either I missed the activity or I left my wife behind. I'm not an oceanographer, so forgive me if there is an outside force this week that caused this movement beyond the control of NCL that I am ignorant of. But the whether was great, and I have cruised the same waters with smaller and bigger, older and newer ships then the sprit, and through worse whether and none of them shook like this ship did. And come on, if the ship does have a history of shaking, which was stated by Darien during the "virtual tour" of the ship, you'd think they'd do something about the constant clamoring of the chandeliers in the Windows Restaurant. By my estimations all it would take would be a bead of wax just under each overlapping peace of glass(or what ever material it is made of). The DEcor of the ship is great. The Asian feel to everything is nice and different for a group from Long Island New York. The Ship was very clean and had everything a ship should have, although things where to small, just to put that into context I have been on even small ships and didn't feel that way. Its not so much the size but the amount of people. Rates: The Rates where Fair, if they had not been I would have called this trip a disaster. All of the nuisances I described above would have been full blown show stoppers if I had thought I was not getting near to my moneys worth. But we got this cruise on a deal. The Drinks where a bit more expensive then I remember my last cruise being and the pictures to. But that could just be a sign of the time. We took the Jewel a year and a half ago. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Our July 14 cruise was our 4th on the Dawn and our 8th NCL. We always had great praise for NCL and in particular their ships the Dreamward (now the Norwegian Dream) and the Dawn. Although we enjoyed some of the things we had alwaysloved ... Read More
Our July 14 cruise was our 4th on the Dawn and our 8th NCL. We always had great praise for NCL and in particular their ships the Dreamward (now the Norwegian Dream) and the Dawn. Although we enjoyed some of the things we had alwaysloved about the Dawn, we came home this time feeling disappointed. First I'll comment on the good things. As always, the ship's design is something we don't tire of - the beautiful atrium, excellent music and shows (although deafeningly loud in the Stardust theater) and comfortable and cheerful cabins with excellent housekeeping services. One feature of the Dawn that we are particularly fond of is the Blue Lagoon. As far as we're concerned, it beats any midnight buffet and it's open 24/7. I also want to say that NCL is to be commended for being pro-active about placing hand sanitizers throughout the ship where they can't be missed instead of just at the restaurant entrances. So why did we come home disappointed with this cruise? In the past, we felt that we had done our part in paying for our trip and NCL did its part in delivering the enjoyable cruise we expected. This time it became obvious before long that NCL was focusing on cost-cutting and aggressive marketing on board. The restaurant menus were not as good as they had been and the prices of the specialty restaurants were high. A case in point is Le Bistro which had always been a first-night must for us when sailing NCL. Absent from the menu were entrees featuring filet of beef and Chilean sea bass, as there had been in the past, and the restaurant's signature dessert - chocolate fondue - was no longer listed. (They did make it for us on request). What particularly bothered me was that, alongside the regular menu was a "chef's special menu," featuring foie gras, lamb and different desserts - at $10 over and above the $15 premium for the regular menu. I think this was in poor taste and it was the start of my feeling that NCL was trying to squeeze additional money out of passengers who had already paid enough for a one-week vacation. Among the biggest things that took away from our enjoyment of this cruise were the aggressive promotion of gambling and NCL photography. Time was when bingo games on ships were just something to keep passengers occupied when it was raining. This time it seemed like the air was punctuated with the announcements of "big jackpots" along with raffles, lottos, etc. Even when gambling in the casino, there were people coming up to you asking if you wanted to buy a lotto ticket and the casino itself was extended to the pool deck - blackjack tables and wheel of fortune by the pool! The takeover by NCL photographers was perhaps the worst. The beautiful atrium couldn't be enjoyed because passengers walking through had to step over drop cloths and side-step wires, stopping every few seconds so as not to get in the way of a camera snapping a picture. it was as though anyone not getting a picture taken was an intruder in the atrium. And the posting of photos on the walls! Toward the end of the cruise, it looked like a wallpaper of photos up and down narrow hallways with some passengers scanning the walls for their pictures while others were simply trying to pass through. I heard one man grumble about people walking in front of him and I resisted the impulse to say "this is a passageway not an art gallery." The Latitudes party was cold and brief. The ship's officers did not shake hands, canapes were passed a couple of times quickly and drinks of choice were not available this time. It used to be that a guest could get a house brand gin and tonic or Scotch if they didn't care for the sweet drinks like rum punch the waiters carried around on trays. I don't think this is too much to ask at a "thank you" party for people who like NCL enough to keep coming back. The disappointment about not getting to enjoy Nassau didn't help, especially when it was announced that there would be only a $50 onboard credit per cabin. But after the aforementioned things that characterized this cruise - why am I not surprised? This was not the same Norwegian Dawn we had sailed in the past. Too bad. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
This cruise was our 8th cruise, the second and last on Norwegian. Getting on the ship was fairly easy as we were lattitude members, so after waiting for a wedding party to get on, we were second. We could not go to our rooms until 2:00 so ... Read More
This cruise was our 8th cruise, the second and last on Norwegian. Getting on the ship was fairly easy as we were lattitude members, so after waiting for a wedding party to get on, we were second. We could not go to our rooms until 2:00 so we went to the Windows dining room for lunch. I felt very optimistic as the room was very pretty and tastefully decorated. The salad was very good, the tilapia fish was fair. After that it was mostly downhill. It was my husband, myself and 19 year old son. The cabin was pretty nice and we were pleasantly surprised with the shower and the bathroom was larger than on some other ships. We got unpacked and got settled in and were eagerly awaiting a good time. My son was the only one that had a good time and even he said it was the worst cruise yet. The cruise director was only seen at shows in the evening and was not your typical energetic cruise director. I don't even know if he had an assistant cruise director as most ships do. I doubt if I would recognize him, as we saw so little of him. There was nothing going on at the pool deck. Some bad musicians now and then. The pool was so deep at one end you could not stand up. The kiddie pool at the rear of the ship was very nice, but there was no supervision and it was a bit rowdy at times. The free-style sounds good, but you usually had to wait to be seated, so I would prefer having a seat and a scheduled time, so that you could just walk in when ready. The waitstaff, left something to be desired. I asked for chocolate milk at one meal and the waitress (Dorothy) laughed and said that was for babies. However, she did bring the milk. I never asked for it again. I thought cruises were supposed to make you feel like royalty instead of an idiot. Another time in the Garden restaurant, our Waiter did not even ask if we wanted coffee. Very disappointing. We ate upstairs at the buffet 4 out of the 8 nights. The food was passable in the dining rooms and just plain boring at the buffet. The Blue Lagoon, which was open 24 hours had some good buffalo wings. The lobster we had early in the cruise rather than the last night, which is the norm, was tough and tasteless. No butter was served with it. After paying so much for the cruise, I refuse to pay extra for their specialty restaurants. You should be able to get excellent meals for the price you pay for a cruise. All in all, the food was bad. The nightly shows were pretty poor except for a couple. Some of the shows were only performed once instead of twice and therefore, when it was one performance for the entire ship, not everyone could get in. One night I saw an elderly gentleman trying to get into the theater after the show had started and they shut the doors. He was told in a very unkind manner that he could not come in. His family was already in there and he was told to enter through the balcony. Well, an elderly gentlemen navigating a dark theater from the balcony. Needless to say, he did not go in to find his family. Now on to the shore excursions. I had booked an excursion from St. Thomas to St. Johns, as we had been to St. Thomas 3 times. When we got to the gangway to go out, they would not let us off the ship. We were told to go back to our room and wait for the security. Low and behold, an hour later, after WE HAD MISSED OUR EXCURSION, security arrived with a drug sniffing dog. We were told this was a random check and they were not even sorry that we missed an excursion, I had booked months ago on line. They did refund the money. The dog entered our room and was told "find it". Well, of course, he found nothing. We don't even drink. I was so angry and embarrassed and sorry to have missed St. Johns. No one seemed to care! Then the day before, we had booked and excursion to the Virgin Gorda Baths. Well, they said it was tough, but I had no idea how tough. However, I did make it through the caves and was glad i did, but then, I slipped on a slippery rock and went down. My two week old digital camera no longer worked and will never work again. Granted that was my fault, but it only seemed to add to the bad experience we were having on this cruise. Our room staff was pretty good, but we did have to go down and get our luggage tags and all the papers needed to get off the ship. My travel agent warned me against Norwegian, and I now agree with her. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
After reading so many negative reviews, I didn't expect much. We received a good rate via the internet that guaranteed an outside cabin. We were given an obstructed view (lifeboats) and a very small room. We called to be sure our ... Read More
After reading so many negative reviews, I didn't expect much. We received a good rate via the internet that guaranteed an outside cabin. We were given an obstructed view (lifeboats) and a very small room. We called to be sure our cabin had a coffee maker as I had seen a review saying it has just a kettle. After being assured there was a brew type coffee maker-a kettle was in our room. The reviewers know more than the cruise line. Boarding was quick but our pictures had been transposed-so we had to have them redone at the entrance to the ship. A nice surprise was the restaurants-service was excellent! The wait staff in all areas tried to meet your expectations. One Hostess,in particular, made our an impression with her professionalism. Unfortunately, that can't be said of the social directors. A murder mystery supper had people lined up at one deck for almost 20 minutes. Then we were told to go to the deck above. No apology-just the woman in charge saying go ahead report me-who cares. Some who had waited were elderly and had been assured that they were in the right place. While the weather wasn't great, we did have beautiful weather the day we reached their private island. The set-up for tender tickets took too long with long lines. However, the boarding and return was well done. The island itself was wall to wall chairs and we were really on top of one another. The Dawn had good entertainment and a really good casino staff. The lounge staff aren't too pushy except on the day you get on-they push drinks in their special glass that is way overpriced . They bring it automatically -so you have to insist they return it and most passengers don't want the bother. I think our trip was okay for the price paid. I must say New Yorkers are very friendly cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
To give this review some perspective, I am writing it as a frequent cruiser, having cruised 8 times with Carnival and once with Princess within the last 4 years. I cruise with my wife, friends and sometimes our children who are in their ... Read More
To give this review some perspective, I am writing it as a frequent cruiser, having cruised 8 times with Carnival and once with Princess within the last 4 years. I cruise with my wife, friends and sometimes our children who are in their mid twenties. We are in our mid to late 50s, but are active for our age and enjoy beaches and snorkeling in most ports. We cruised in late May to Bermuda, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay. As we usually find with any trip, some things were good, some things were not so good. Overall we had a relaxing and enjoyable cruise that was well worth the money we spent. However, we decided that we would not cruise NCL again for two reasons: 1. The food quality was well below what we have had on the other cruise lines and 2. NCL doesnt seem to be able to handle crowds of people as well as other ships we have been on. This was our first time to cruise out of NY. We took the train to NY, and caught a taxi to the port with no problems. I hesitated to leave my luggage with a handler near the street curb, but I was assured by a few nearby staff that it would be OK which it was. We started boarding about noon, a pretty much routine and painless process. My impression of the Dawn was that it was a beautiful, colorful, classy ship with marble staircases, lots of greenery and art, and showing little or no signs of wear. The staff seemed very friendly and did their job well. We had an interior room that was nicely appointed, but because of the closet location, it was annoying that my wife and I kept bumping into each other in that room. The bathroom seemed fine and relatively roomy. Beds were very comfortable. The digital temperature control on the wall worked well and we were able to maintain a temperature that was perfect for us. Now heres the big comment: the menu was boring and the food was rather poor in quality. Each night when we read the menu posted on the dining room (the same menu in all 3 main dining rooms) we couldnt find anything that sounded exciting. It seems that NCL must want to cheap it up on food so they served lots of pasta, rice and crowd-type dishes. Dinner desserts also were, for the most part, not very exciting. For example, one main dish was oxtail stew. So I ended up eating fish most nights which was almost acceptable. My beef-loving wife couldnt find beef anywhere, so she ended up ordering chicken twice that must have been sitting under a heat lamp for hours since it was all dried out. And the tasty shrimp and lobster that we always get with Carnival was nowhere to be found unless you went to one of the three pay-extra specialty restaurants. Both of us did love the freestyle dining concept though that allowed us to show up for dinner at almost any time between 5:30 and 10. The lunch time buffets and sandwiches also seemed inferior to what we were used to with the other cruise lines. Each item was given a fancy name, but the substance looked like something out of a can. The burgers and fries seemed OK if thats what you want. The lunchtime desserts were the worst. On Carnival, there were always several great looking desserts making it a hard decision which to pick. But on the Dawn, the desserts all looked like the same boring pound cake with a little bit of color on top. Fortunately, there was fruit which was always my dessert. And fortunately again, Im eating more vegetarian these days and NCL had a few mediocre vegetarian dishes. I suppose one could get by with what they provided if you weren't too picky. The Dawn did offer three pay-extra restaurants which I found very difficult to reserve. We did try the French Bistro and the food there was good but not great. I was, however, impressed as we ate dinner inches from a priceless original Van Gogh painting. I'm sure I enjoyed that more than dinner. There are 4 priceless originals in that restaurant. On a few lunch days, NCL has a barbecue by the pool that includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and ribs. This is pretty cool .. but. the burgers are a bit dry and I spent ten minutes looking a rib over for something edible on it other than sauce. Also the ice cream they hand out by the pool is a baby cone that shows how cheap NCL is with the food. The ice cream was tasty though. Of the free beverages, the only thing you can get is tea and coffee. And NCL serves the ice tea in those cute little glasses that annoyingly hold only about 5 ounces. I guess they think that 5 ounces of liquid is enough in the blazing Bahama sun. Either that or they want you to encourage you to purchase the alcoholic drinks. Watch out for that beverage line because the main traffic passes through the same aisle and you are very likely to be bumped and spill your beverage. After leaving NY we had an enjoyable day at sea and we arrived at Bermuda at Kings Wharf. Bermuda was beautiful! Kings Wharf is a bit isolated from the rest of Bermuda, but ferries and bus service were readily available. We chose to walk to the nearby snorkel park which was only a ten minute walk, but I didnt snorkel since it was early in the day and the air hadnt warmed up yet. So we decided to grab a bus and head for Horseshoe beach. This beach was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen (and Ive seen many beautiful ones). The big rocks sticking out of the water added lots of character. The sand was wonderfully soft and pink, and there was a lunch stand at one end. I did snorkel here a little and found the 73 deg water to be pretty nice. Saw some nice coral and some fish and took lots of photos. I hope to return there soon. Again a day at sea that was great and relaxing, although deck space for sunning seemed hard to find. We did manage to find a spot that worked for us. I couldn't seem to get a table in the pool area to enjoy an outside lunch. The next day when we arrived at Great Stirrup Key, a storm front had passed through leaving rain and waves too high for us to tender to shore. So that port was canceled and we went earlier than planned to Nassau. A bit of a disappointment but you cant plan the weather. Our stop in Nassau went well and we visited the Atlantis and saw all the aquariums. The beach there is very big and probably the best beach around. Time at this port is broken up. You only have a few hours in the evening and a few hours the next morning. But some people managed to do and see more than we did with that time. After Nassau, we headed back to NY and had another great relaxing day at sea. For our entire cruise, I found the seas to be remarkably calm. Possibly also the ship may have stabilizers that help a lot. Maybe we just got lucky. I didnt find much on the entertainment listing that interested me so we didnt take in any shows. Maybe others would like the entertainment they provide. We did however like the little on-board movie theater that was showing good movies three times a day. We also liked the gym which was spacious and well equipped. Having a little time to work out is a luxury that I don't normally seem to have. Also the indoor pool area near the gym was very nice and we enjoyed uncrowded time in the pool, hot tubs, and saunas. We arrived in NY on time. Disembarkation seemed pretty routine. We did have difficulty getting a taxi from the port. I had expected a bunch of taxis to be there but found only one or two. So we were forced to drag our (overpacked) luggage downstairs and across the street to a taxi stand&but still we couldnt catch a cab. Finally we paid twice the cab fare and caught a limo. All in all we did enjoy this cruise. I don't think that there is such a thing as a bad cruise. If you don't care much about the food, the Dawn might be OK for you. But next time we will cruise with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
OK gang, let me begin by telling you that this was my 4th cruise, having already sailed on Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean before embarking on this NCL cruise. Embarkation- Not really a problem. The setting in NYC is rather ... Read More
OK gang, let me begin by telling you that this was my 4th cruise, having already sailed on Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean before embarking on this NCL cruise. Embarkation- Not really a problem. The setting in NYC is rather gloomy- you step into a building resembling a large aircraft hanger, which is typical of the facilities used by cruise lines. The staff charged with "greeting" new passengers was a mix of happy and less than ambitious folks. Since we live only an hour away and were traveling with our 10 month old, we opted to park upstairs and pay the weekly rate of $180 (a RT limo would have cost just as much). Arriving at 11:45 we were onboard by 12:30- check-in was a breeze. Public Space- The Dawn is very easy on the eyes. The common areas, including the atrium and pools, are well appointed. The ship doesn't really show any wear and tear in these areas. As it relates to the main pool deck, be reminded that since this ship is on the "smaller" side of the megaships, deck space is at a premium, regardless of whether you desire a deck chair in the sun or table and chair in the shade. The "chair hogs" were out in full force, especially on the days at sea. I've mentioned the main pool, and the ship also offers a "kiddie" pool. Note that if your child is in a stroller, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get to the kiddie pool deck without going down a staircase. There is no elevator access and the only other means is to cut through the gym aerobics studio- one of the trainers even remarked as to "how stupid of a setup" it was. The pools were overwatched by men whose job it was to point and whistle at every little deviation from appropriate pool conduct. Walking too fast? Whistle. Raising your voice? Whistle. At one point, there were whistles every other minute, and their routine grew tired quickly. Upkeep on the pool deck is big for me, as we tend to spend a lot of time outside. One thing I noticed on NCL as opposed to Celebrity is that their deck personnel are less than motivated. By this I mean that their personnel would let glasses/dishes accumulate on an outside table, to the point where you couldn't put any fresh glasses or plates down, and only by your asking did they remove the offending pieces. In my eyes, if you as an employee pass an empty glass, pick it up, it's that simple. The same goes for towels which are not being used, such as those rolled up into balls and laying on the deck. Cabin- We had a BB Balcony Cabin amidships on deck 9. It was myself, my wife and our 10 month old in the cabin. The cabin was well appointed in layout and amenities. The balcony was a nice size, enough for 2 deck chairs and a small table. The cabin was also appointed with a pull-out chair which doubled as sleeping for the 3rd person, but we of course opted to bring out own pack-n-play along for our son to sleep in. For those parents in a similar setup, don't rely upon the cruise line to supply the crib or pack-n-play if it can be avoided- from what I saw of the pieces in the hallway BEFORE they were set up, they are old and dirty- not what you would want your child sleeping in by any means. Stateroom attendants were courteous and responsive, but did not go over the top. One thing which struck me as odd was prior to the lifeboat drill, I approached our steward and requested a lifejacket for my son. He told me that he would bring it to the cabin later in the evening. Now, wouldn't it make more sense for the jacket to be provided to you in advance of the drill, so as to ensure full compliance? No towel animals (I don't care one way or the other) but I know that it's a big deal to some of you. The room was turned over promptly by the Steward, made even easier with the "wheel" outside your room, whereby you could select "do not disturb," "turn down bed," and "make up cabin." Storage was ample, with plenty of room in the closet for 2 large suitcases and clothes hanging above, coupled with additional space in the adjacent shelves and drawers. Central air control is a nice touch. Shower was roomy enough for me, though the toilet is somewhat claustrophobic- but what can you expect- on a cruise you know what kind of bathroom you will end up with so there aren't any surprises. Sheet quality- poor, very pilly and felt as if they had been washed since the ship first took to the water. Upgrading the linens more than once every 4 or 5 years may been in order. Dining- Ah the important category for many of us. We did not partake in room service, so I don't have a comment for you there. Breakfast buffet- good. They have enough stations so that waiting time is very limited, and food selection was good. I like that everyone is asked to use the "sanitizing station" to clean their hands prior to picking up a tray- you can never be too careful. Lunch buffet- just "OK". The dishes tended to be repetitive and lines were somewhat longer. Note that you do have free iced T, juice and of course coffee, milk and hot tea/hot chocolate available at all times. Dinner- We ate in one specialty restaurant, Bamboo- opting for the Hibachi with private chef. We were in a group of 13 and the room held up to 20- 10 people to a chef. Food presentation was good, quality was very good and it was certainly entertaining. For main dining purposes, you have 3 options for traditional dining room settings- we opted for the Venetian which was on deck 4 AFT. Let me begin by telling you that I walked in with a certain expectation as far as quality and presentation of the food was concerned, and the expectation was not met. The menu was "average" at best and presentation was less than original. Ordering that shrimp cocktail? Beware, you will be presented with a small bowl of "egg roll shrimp"- very, very mini. Appetizers were adequate but not stimulating, but deserts seemed to be the hit of the table. In the end, I guess that you could say the food was sufficient but if you asked me to give you details as to any entree consumed in the main dining room, I wouldn't be able to do so. Ask me the same question about a Celebrity Cruise from 3 years ago and my eyes will immediately open as I give you detail upon detail. Entertainment/Casino: Onboard entertainment was good, especially the "Bollywood" show. The Stardust Theater is beautiful, great sightlines and plenty of room. If the juggler/comedian is on your cruise, do everything possible to avoid the show- it's a complete train wreck. I've never met anyone who was so "un-entertaining"- 90% of the audience members had left by the midpoint of the show, myself included. Casino is a good size and while I'm not a big gambler ($40 spent on this cruise), it did seem like there was enough variety to go around. Itinerary- Very important. The stop in Bermuda can't be missed. Be sure to take the ferry to Hamilton and do some shopping. The downtown is very well-kept and you could certainly fare much worse, like downtown Nassau, which we spent all of 30 minutes in. The in-between for us was NCL's private island, where tender service brought you to a beach with chairs, umbrellas, facilities and a buffet lunch. Do yourself a favor and sign up for a tender early the day before, it will ensure that you get to the island before the masses later in the day, and that you can still land a pretty decent spot on the beach, along with umbrella/chair. Nassau I can do without- Atlantis doesn't really impress me much and I've been to the Bahamas already, so I imagine that a first time visitor will certainly have enough time to see a sight or two. Recap- All in all, it was a good cruise, since we didn't have to hop on an airplane and the port is less than an hour from our home. The food wasn't up to our expectations but the cabin was pleasantly surprising. A cruise like this is certainly what you make of it. We didn't walk on thinking that it was a Raddisson or Silver Sea cruise, and I feel as though NCL did "just enough" to justify your paying decent $ to travel over the memorial day weekend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
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