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776 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

First I have to admit, we were very concerned when we read the large number of negative reviews concerning the Norwegian Dawn. Everything from bad food to surly crew was outlined in the reviews and we were concerned that these reviews were ... Read More
First I have to admit, we were very concerned when we read the large number of negative reviews concerning the Norwegian Dawn. Everything from bad food to surly crew was outlined in the reviews and we were concerned that these reviews were accurate and would result in a less than enjoyable experience on board the Dawn. A little background on us. We are a 50ish couple who have taken 15 cruises in the past 10 years. We have sailed Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Princess. We are experienced cruisers who have always enjoyed every cruise we have been on. We have a saying, there is no bad cruise, some are just better than others. This brings us to the Dawn. We arrived at the Port of New York at approximately 10:00 am on Sunday, April 25 for our 7 day cruise. We have found that by arriving early, you can generally get on the ship fairly quickly and can be on deck eating lunch by the time the lines form to embark. Our system did let us down a bit this cruise as the Dawn was going through a Coast Guard inspection and were not able to actually get on board until around Noon. We found the embarkation procedures to be well thought out and very simple to board the ship. After we got onboard, we went to the Welcome Aboard Buffet and had our first sample of the quality and taste of the food on the Dawn. Remember that one of the biggest criticisms of the Dawn was the quality of the food. We thought the lunch buffet was excellent and the food well prepared and very good. In comparison to the other cruise lines we have been on, it was completely comparable, no better and no worse. After sitting on the deck for awhile, where we were greeted by an extremely friendly and welcoming crew, our room was ready around 2:00. This is one of the downsides to freestyle cruising. Since the previous guests are allowed to remain in their stateroom until disembarkation, the rooms are ready a little later than other cruise lines. Our room was very clean and very nice (as was the rest of the ship). We initially felt it was smaller than some of the other cruise lines, but later decided that because of the King Size bed, it simply felt smaller. On a high note, in addition to the King Sized Bed, there was also a 4 cup coffee maker in the room and the shower much larger than we have seen on other ships. We really thought this was a nice touch. Our luggage arrived very quickly and we were unpacked and off to explore the ship. We located the casino, several bars and checked out the dining menu for that first evening. The casino had very tight slots. This continued throughout the cruise. Probably the tightest slot machines we have encountered in our cruising history. We had a late afternoon snack in the Blue Lagoon on deck 7. Probably the best kept secret on the cruise ship. A small "diner" serving wings, salads, burgers, Spinach and Artichoke dip, chicken tenders, soups and typical "diner food". This became one of our favorite places to grab a quick snack. Everything we sampled was very, very good. We awoke the following morning to heavy seas and cool temps. We went up to the buffet for breakfast and again found the quality of the food excellent. We roamed the ship and were repeatedly greeted by a very friendly staff and crew. We also had lunch in the buffet and felt it was very good. We went to an art auction in the afternoon. If you have never gone to one of the auctions, this is an excellent place to get very good buys on top quality art. In the evening, we had dinner in the Blue Lagoon and went to the casino. Christina at the Casino Bar became our bartender of choice as she was pleasant and very efficient. Later that night, we went to see the Newlywed and Not So Newlywed Game show. Typical passenger involved activity, but funny and quite enjoyable and entertaining. To bed fairly early as the rough seas and high wind continued. Awoke Tuesday to 10 foot seas and 38 Knot winds. Water very rough (not cruise ship's fault). We ate breakfast at the buffet and had a very enjoyable meal. The biscuits and gravy were excellent. Walked the walking track this morning. This was quite an experience as you had to time your walk to the wave action. The weather remains very cool and seas very rough. We decided on a light lunch at the Blue Lagoon and were impressed by the quality, taste and freshness of the food. We went to a second art auction in the afternoon and then sat by the pool and enjoyed a few drinks. The service was, as usual, excellent. We decided to go to the Dining Room for dinner. I had a well seasoned and tender steak which was cooked perfectly and Mary had the Lobster which was also very good. The cheese cake and apple tart were excellent. We awoke the next morning to smooth seas and sunshine. Arrived in Bermuda and was tied up at the dock at 7:45. The Breakfast buffet was very good as were the lunch and dinner buffet. We shopped in the Boatyard area during the morning and took a tour (Homes and Hideways of the Rich and Famous) which was also very good and interesting. The casino was closed while in Port. The second day in Bermuda we went to Saint Georges. This was a small village about 45 minutes from Hamilton. There was very little in the area, but we had a nice lunch at the Whitehorse Pub. It was very good, but also very expensive. $70 for two lunches and a Rum Swizzles each. We rode the ferry back to the boatyard and had dinner at the buffet. Again it was very good. The last day in Bermuda, we shopped in Hamilton and returned to the ship early. We went up to the Sail Away party at the pool deck and enjoyed the band very much. Later in the evening, we went to the Bollywood show and found it to be acrobatic and very entertaining. Left port on time for the return voyage to New York. The last day at sea was rough and cool. Fortunately the sun was shining so the cool air was comfortable. We arrived back in New York the following morning and was tied up at dock about 15 minutes late. Disembarkation was smooth. Overall, the bad reviews we read on line were, in our opinion, incorrect. We found the food tasty and well prepared and the crew and ship were very nice. Perhaps we do not have the same extremely high expectations other cruisers have had, but overall we thought the cruise was a good value for the money and in fact we are discussing going on the Dawn out of Miami in November or December later this year. Do not be disheartened by the other reviews, this cruise was as nice as any of our other 14 cruises. Like any cruise, there are things you like and things you don't, but don't be concerned about the food or the staff on the Dawn. They were both great. Happy Cruising. If you have questions about this ship or cruising in general, please e-mail me at cweathers@comcast.net. Please include "Cruise Info" in your subject Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My husband and I, both in our early 60's, just returned from a week's cruise from NYC to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. After reading the reviews, I was baffled since NCL has a good reputation and I couldn't see from my ... Read More
My husband and I, both in our early 60's, just returned from a week's cruise from NYC to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. After reading the reviews, I was baffled since NCL has a good reputation and I couldn't see from my past experience how the Dawn could be so much worse than the Pride of America which I sailed on a few years ago in Hawaii. Here are my impressions and some tips based on eight other cruises and fifteen years as a travel agent: 1. I didn't take the NCL transfers offered from the airport to the pier. They were $50pp each way. I went online through Orbitz and booked a car through Carmel's and paid $40 each way for TWO. Rather than paying $200, we paid $80! Savings #1. 2. I had read the reviews of the restaurants and must say that we found that the food ranged from good to average. Impressions (Italian) $10-$15 cover charge. Good food. Cagney's Steakhouse $25pp overpriced. The food wasn't bad: it just wasn't great. My husband ate at the Sushi Bar several times for $15 each time and found it wonderful. One couldn't eat all the sushi one wanted in a restaurant for that cost. The Blue Lagoon has good fast food including delicious tomato soup, burgers and wings. 24 hour service makes it ideal for a quick lunch or late night snack. Garden Cafe In a word, confusing. Several lines which served almost but not exactly the same foods. When you went down one side, you had to turn around and come back through the whole restaurant. They needed s better circulation pattern to make it a continuous flow from one area to another or they needed to serve exactly the same thing on each line. Confusing, but the food was ok and one could certainly find something to make him happy. Aqua Restaurant. Good food but they have those darned tables with a bench/banquette on the back and chairs on the front which means you are elbow to elbow with strangers, whether you want to be or not. What's wrong with a table for two? There were few in the restaurant. Shore excursions: We were in Kings Wharf for two nights. No fear of being left if you took independent tours. Here's the scoop: We booked a taxi (met him out front as we left the ship and agreed on a price and time frame) He charged $110 for a 3 to 3 1/2 hour private tour in his taxi. We went everywhere the tour bus went and saw the island from every angle, including views from hillside streets that the buses could NOT negotiate. The NCL tour was $79.00 per person. Their trip is 4 hours but they stopped for lunch. Rather than $160, we paid $110. Savings #2! Other tours? Unless they involve snorkeling or water-based activities, we found we could buy a bus/ferry pass for $28 per person and go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We LOVED it. We got three days unlimited use of both the excellent ferry service (fun to get on one and just ride around the island) and the clean, efficient and friendly bus line. The bus is the same one used by the locals and school kids and we loved interacting with them. The locals are well educated, friendly and very mannerly. Buy the pass in the building right as you get off the ship. Things to do in the Dockyard (Kings Wharf) There is a small beach within walking distance of the ship. It's clean and has a bar and snorkeling equipment. It's called the Snorkel Park and it's free. There is a shopping center with a restaurant and shops ranging from cheap souvenirs to hand made jewelry. There is a Bonefish Grill which serves seafood. NOT part of the American chain but good food. There is a pharmacy and also a small round (?) building in which to buy soft drinks to take on the ship. They were $1.50 (including Diet Coke which wasn't sold on-board) versus the $2.25 on-board for a Diet Pepsi. They had no problem with us taking it on-board. Things you might want to know: You can order from a list of newspapers and have them delivered to your room. They print them from the internet, I suppose, and they are up-to-date. We wish we had known it from the beginning since we missed local news from our daily paper. They do have CNN and FOX on the tv, but no other news channels so we went all week somewhat in the dark. You can purchase a bottle of wine and they will hold it in the galley until you want it again. We bought one in Cagney's and my husband drank from it for three nights. The bottle of Merlot was $28 which is cheaper than by the glass. You can also purchase a bottle of liquor to be set up in your stateroom! They charge up to $60 for the bottle and a $3 set up fee but you don't have to spend the money per drink. Savings #3! Rooms: We had a balcony room in the bow of the ship on deck 10. There was a fair amount of foul weather on the trip down and I really think lower decks are less prone to rolling. Plus, they are cheaper! We had a sofa and a refrigerator and room on the balcony for two chairs and a very small table. Fine for just the two of us. The rooms were clean, well serviced and in good shape. The bath had a glass sliding door between the toilet and the sink and plenty of room in the shower. There is a hair dryer in each cabin and there is ONE 120v. plug. Entertainment: Lacking! There is a show put on by the Jean Ann Ryan dance troupe and it was good sometimes and not so good sometimes. The magician and comedians were ok ...just ok. There is, of course, the art auction and bingo every day but they charge for the bingo. There were some games around the pool and that area was heavily used. There is a small hot tub on deck 13 behind the bar, which was used by the older folks. It was right on the bow of the ship and was quieter and had a great view. The main pool was typical of main pools...full of people and heavily used. We were on this cruise in mid-October and there were few kids on-board so I can't comment on how it would be if there were more children. Feel free to contact me if you have questions. I had a good time on this trip and found it a good deal. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was our second cruise, both on the Dawn. Our first was in 2006, and while the ship was great (good food, service, entertainment, etc) the itinerary was not; we only spent 8 hours in Bermuda (which we loved) and the sea was too rough ... Read More
This was our second cruise, both on the Dawn. Our first was in 2006, and while the ship was great (good food, service, entertainment, etc) the itinerary was not; we only spent 8 hours in Bermuda (which we loved) and the sea was too rough for the private island, so we spent longer in the Bahamas (which we didn't love), had a mediocre glass-bottom boat trip, and spent 2 hours trying to get a cab from the pier to Penn Station. I give it 4 stars; great time aboard, mediocre itinerary, tough getting home. This time, we booked a cruise with 3 days in Bermuda, and found cheap parking (Enterprise Parking) 2 blocks away. Embarkation & disembarkation were easy (don't do "easy walk-off; it's a LONG line), and we loved Bermuda. Alas, being aboard the Dawn was not as much fun, due to negative changes in the food, service, and especially the spa. 3 years ago, there was no extra charge for spa pool/jacuzzi/sauna/showers; now they charge $20 each per day or $150 per couple for the whole cruise. Since we didn't plan to use it in port, we decided against the $150 plan and scheduled massages using the $40 credit they gave us at the spa opening raffle. We had been told we could use the spa if we had appointments that day, but when we tried to they wanted another $20 each to let us use the spa before or after our massages! Instead, we hit the hot tubs by the Oasis pool, which were crowded but free. Having the spa off limits—even before & after expensive massages—was very disappointing. This is only one example of a "nickle and dime" attitude that also hurt the service. On our previous cruise, automatic tips were optional; we tipped well and got good service. Now they are mandatory, and the service has suffered. When we got good service and tipped extra, the servers were so grateful that it is obvious no one tips beyond the mandatory amount—which explains why the service was often slow and some of the servers were surly. We discovered that the way to get good service is to find someone interested in working for an extra tip, tip them well, and look for them next time. The highlight of poor service—but also of the Dawn's willingness to recover—was our anniversary dinner at Le Bistro. While the food was excellent, from the moment the Captain and his party of 7 sat down at a table next to us, we were ignored; a uniformed member of the Captain's party had to tell a server to take away our empty plates. Though we had ordered before the Captain arrived, his party finished their deserts and left before we could even get a desert menu. My wife was so upset by 2 hours of being ignored that she called and complained—whereupon they gave us another meal at Le Bistro without the extra $15 charge, and when we arrived gave us a complimentary bottle of wine. The service at our second dinner was as excellent as the food, and my wife called her Crème Brule the best desert she had ever eaten. Inconsistent service, but a good recovery. The food was usually good, but not as fresh as on our previous cruise, and having the same menu in the main dining halls got to be a bit of a bore. We enjoyed the “meet and great” reception they gave Cruise Critic’s roll call members; thanks to “Lilcruzr” for setting it up. We met several people there (and elsewhere) who were fun to chat with. Our balcony room was fine, but narrower than last time. Our room stewards were much more attentive, though, and they left 4 towel animals—nice touch. The entertainment was good but inconsistent. The highlight was an incredible Tina Turner review; Bollywood and Second City were good. The magician was weak, though, the pool band made every song sound like Bob Marley, and we giggled at a pianist doing Elton John with a strong Serbian accent (“Daniel ees traveling tonight on de plane...”). Bermuda was wonderful, though the weather was too rough for my helmet dive excursion. Get a 3-day bus/ferry pass. Horseshoe Bay was excellent, as was Snorkel Park. Skip Echo Bay; facilities are for hotel guests only. We loved Crystal Caves, though my wife found them claustrophobic. We enjoyed Saint George, though we were unable to hook up with the horse carriage tour and took a trolley tour that was okay. We had a hard time finding reasonable lunch places, so we got food from a salad bar at a grocery store for a lovely picnic in a park—spending about 1/3 as much. I also give this cruise 4 stars, for reasons that are the complete opposite of last time. The itinerary and logistics were great, but the food and service were inconsistent, and the “nickle and dime” attitude was annoying, particularly regarding the spa. If the time onboard had been as enjoyable as it was on our previous cruise, I would give 5 stars. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
My wife and I have cruised on NCL many times, and have been very happy with the level of service we have received. However on this particular cruise on the Norwegian Spirit we were left feeling somewhat disappointed,somewhere between our ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised on NCL many times, and have been very happy with the level of service we have received. However on this particular cruise on the Norwegian Spirit we were left feeling somewhat disappointed,somewhere between our last NCL cruise in April and this one, we noticed a significant decline in the quality of the food and the entertainment. This cruise was taken to celebrate our daughters 30th birthday, along with her she was accompanied by her new fiancee and two of their friends from Keene New Hampshire. The boarding procedure at the Port of Boston was a little chaotic, but surprisingly it went very quickly. Once on the ship we were given a glass of champagne, then we headed off to Raffles Buffet for some lunch. When we arrived at our cabin, there were some minor issues, one of them were some ugly looking stains on the sheets and the comforter!!, that was not pleasant!! There was also some lights that were not working, and we were short on towels and a bath mat. To their credit however, all these issues were resolved very quickly. I suppose my disappointment revolved around the food in the specialty restaurants, as well as some of the entertainment. Firstly, lets talk about the specialty restaurants, the biggest disappointment was the quality in Cagney's!! normally a very very good restaurant. This time the food was sub standard, not cooked as requested, and service lacking. The other one was Teppanyaki, a very popular place to eat and always difficult to get a reservation. This one requires that you can only book 24 hours out, so if you forget!! there is no way you will get in the following night. The one on the Spirit is smaller than some of the others in the NCL fleet, this one only holds 12 at a time. We managed to get the last reservation at 9.30pm!! normally this is far too late for us to eat, but because its always a fun experience we felt it was worth it. We arrived on time and our orders were taken, the servers then started to deliver our appetizers.Normally during this time the Teppanyaki cook starts to do his thing,but for some reason he was missing, so here we are our starters completed, but no sign of the cook himself!!! I went to the maitre di and inquired as to where he was? ( the time was now 10.00pm) as I ws speaking to him, the cook showed up and then began to cook the main courses. This is normally the most entertaining part of the meal, but we got the distinct impression that as this was the last reservation for that evening, he just wanted it over with. The food itself was very good, but overall considering the $25 per person charge, a very disappointing meal. The service and food in La Trattoria ( Mama's Kitchen) was also sub standard and sadly disappointing. The highlight of the specialty restaurants was the Le Bistro, always a favorite of ours,and I am pleased to say it was still very good!! The buffet was pretty good, always chaotic on the first couple of days, but once passengers find their way around it improves greatly. There are two main dining rooms. one is Windows and the other is The Garden. Out of these two, The Garden was much better, mainly due to service and not the food which was fine in both. Now on to the entertainment around the ship, apart from a couple of singers who performed in Charlie's Champagne Bar, it was below par compared to the other NCL cruises we have been on. The duo at Charlie's were excellent, the problem was, that it led to the place being so crowded and sometimes impossible unless you were there very early, to get a table. If you were lucky to get a seat, most times there were only two waiters taking drink orders, so if you had dinner reservations, you barely had time to get your drink before taking with you to the restaurant. A big disappointment was the NCL dancers and singers, without doubt the poorest assemble I have ever seen on an NCL cruise ship. For the first time ever we left the shows before they ended. The other entertainment that was on around the ship was very good, for example Second City and the perennial game shows which were excellent and very popular. Other positives were the staff around the ship, who I must say were were very friendly and always had time to say hello and smile.Our cabin steward in particular (Charles) and his assistant were terrific. The ship itself is very pretty and tastefully decorated,and kept very clean. Overall I just want to say that it was still a a very enjoyable cruise, I think that due to other NCL cruises we have been on, this one fell short of our expectations. As for Bermuda, we just loved the island, so isolated, yet so civilized. We did a private tour on our first day with a company called "Unique Vacations" the owner is Judith O Connor, I would highly recommend her company for anyone who is looking for an in depth look at the wonderful sites this island has to offer, on top of that she has lived there all her life and is so friendly and knowledgeable. If you go to www.uniquevacations.com you can find out more information on the different tours they offer. The other highlight was with "Jesse James Cruises" we did a snorkeling trip with them, and to be honest this was the best snorkeling we have ever done. The equipment was first class and the snorkeling locations were brilliant. You can look them up at http://www.jessiejames.bm/index.asp We left Bermuda early on the morning of the 9th of September, that particular day was calm and the weather very good. However during the night and the next day we had a pretty good storm going, winds topping 55 mph, and swells over 40ft. I always enjoy this type of weather, but my wife unfortunately does not,so she had a miserable last day at sea. The debarkation in Boston went really well and we were off the ship by 9.00am, so a very nice cruise overall, a lovely ship, and the staff absolutely wonderful. I am hoping that this was just a one off with NCL, because we have cruised with them the most, and would like that to continue. One thing though that is bothering me more and more these days is the nickle and diming that seems to be on the increase on cruise ships, I know its not just NCL, but for me its pretty irritating to be honest. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We arrived at the pier at noon and headed for the Latitudes member line which in and of itself was quite long, but still short compared to the "regular" line. While we waited there were TVs around showing the new EPIC ship, it ... Read More
We arrived at the pier at noon and headed for the Latitudes member line which in and of itself was quite long, but still short compared to the "regular" line. While we waited there were TVs around showing the new EPIC ship, it looks very cool! The wait to check in was about 30 minutes, not bad. As usual you were greeted with hand sanitizer and champagne. CABIN: We were in an inside cabin on deck 10 FWD (#10587), cabins were ready around 2pm and we received our luggage maybe around 5pm. For 2 people the size of the room was fine, especially when you don't spend much time there. We had a 1 large suitcase and 1 medium sized. We put the medium bad into the large and they fit standing up in the closet so they were out of the way. The room was clean. The bathroom was showing some signs of age. I.e. The clothes line in the shower didn't retract back and was starting to look a bit grimy. Our safe did not work, but within 30 minutes of me calling about it they came to fix it and after that it was no problem at all. My only gripe with an inside room is the darkness in the morning. You never know what time it is. Your cell phone is acting wacky because you are at sea so you can't rely on that for the time (half the time it was on California time...very strange!) and the only way to see the time was to look at the display on the phone, which is dark, so you'd need to turn on the light to see it. Next time I would bring little clock that is visible in the dark. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and always got our room clean and turned down quickly. SHIP: Some people say that the ship is looking old, but I didn't really get that feeling. I thought it looked great. The Dawn is the same model ship as the Gem which we sailed last year. One of the things that we loved on the Gem was the bar and sitting area at the back of the ship on I think it was deck 12. The Dawn didn't have anything at the back of the ship except for the kids' pool, so we missed that. Our sailing was completely sold out, but I never really felt like I was crowded by loads of people. POOL: While the chairs right around the pool were always filled up, we never had a problem getting a chair if we walked towards the front of the ship. This at times seemed better because the speakers around the pool are VERY loud, almost too loud, you couldn't even talk to the person next to you with out screaming. Don't get me wrong, I'm only 35 and the band at the pool was great, but the speakers could be lowered just a bit. SPA: On the first day at sea it was overcast and sitting on the deck it was pretty windy and a bit cold, so we decided to buy the day passes for the Spa pool. It consists of a lap pool as well as a salt water jacuzzi and a regular chlorine jacuzzi. You also have access to the lockers and changing rooms which include showers, a sauna and steam room. The padded lounge chairs are facing full length windows overlooking the back of the ship, talk about relaxing! It was a great place to take a little nap. FOOD: There has been much talk about the new static menus and I could see if you never ate in a specialty restaurant you'd get bored, but we didn't mind it. The daily chef specials were posted at the beginning of the cruise so it was easy to plan where you wanted to eat. We ate at both dining rooms. Venetian is the bigger grand dining room and I felt that things tended to take more time there. Aqua is the smaller dining room which had more of a cozy feel to it. Both were good. I wasn't overly impressed by the food, but they were good. I definitely recommend the mushroom ravioli appetizer in Aqua, which was delicious! We also ate in 3 of the specialty restaurants. Impressions (Italian) was very good and for $10pp, it was a bargain. Le Bistro (French), what can I say, I mean foie gras and duck confit for $15pp, I mean come on!! It was fabulous! Everything we had there was heavenly and the service was great. On the last night we went to Cagney's Steakhouse which is $25pp. I have been to quite a few NYC steakhouses and Cagney's in my opinion has some of them beat! The ribeyes, were like they say on the menu..."like butta"! The sautEed mushrooms were so flavorful and perfectly cooked and the cream spinach was light and delicious. It was a wonderful meal and well worth the price. We mostly did the buffet for breakfast and lunch which was pretty good; I had no complaints about it. We also snacked at Blue Lagoon. Here service is a bit spotty, sometimes it's quick, sometimes only 1 of your orders comes. However the food was pretty good. This is where you go to get water/tea/coffee after the buffet closes at night since it is always open. STAFF: The crew was great and we got to chat with quite a few of them. They were always happy and helpful no matter where you were on the ship. BERMUDA: What a beautiful island. We opted not to take any excursions so we bought a 3 day transportation pass that worked for both the buses and ferries and traveled around on our own. Horshoe Bay is a beautiful beach and does get crowded. If you keep walking towards the rocks at the far end of the beach it gets quieter and you can find a near empty beach, definitely worth seeing. We stopped at Church Bay, but I wasn't impressed. The day we went it was very windy so there was no way you could snorkel and the beach is pretty small. We moved on the Elbow beach, which was pretty quiet. We did spend an hour or 2 at the Snorkel park, it was fine, the snorkeling was good since the water was so calm. The beach itself is small and a little rocky but if you're going in the water, it's good. We took the ferry to Hamilton to walk around there and did a little shopping. If you need to check your email, the library provides 30 minutes free Internet access per day. We went over to St. George as well, but got there to late to go into the churches and town hall, but it is a nice little town with some shops. All in all it was a lovely cruise. If anyone has any questions, let me know! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We are a family of 4 (kids - 10 & 11). We've been on Carnival and Royal before. Embarkation We arrived at the pier at noon and was on board before 1pm. We had a mini suite, so NCL had a separate line for all balcony, ... Read More
We are a family of 4 (kids - 10 & 11). We've been on Carnival and Royal before. Embarkation We arrived at the pier at noon and was on board before 1pm. We had a mini suite, so NCL had a separate line for all balcony, suites and mini suites. We didn't wait on line for anything at all. The whole process was quite smooth. Cabin Our cabin was ready by 2pm and by around 4pm, our luggage was there. One nice thing about the mini suite was that the bathroom had a tub in it. The bathroom was definitely bigger. We had ample storage room for our clothes. My husband being 6'4" tall really enjoyed having a bathtub to shower instead of a stall. The room was kep clean all the time. As far as extra amenities, we had a bar of soap, small bottle of lotion, and a shower cap. I didn't like the self-dispensing shower gel that was in the tub, it was too watery, so I used the soap instead. We never had the issue of not having enough towels. When we first got into our cabin, my husband noticed one of the towels had some stains on it. He told the steward, and it was replaced when he came to turn down the cabin. The kids were really tired on the first night, so they wanted to go to bed a little early (around 9pm). However, being the first night, the stewards were all busy transporting all the luggage to the room. My husband told our steward that the kids were tired, he immediately dropped everything and set the pullout sofa for the kids. We had towel animals everynight. I didn't ask the steward to empty out the fridge, I just pushed everything aside and put our 4 big bottles of water in the fridge. Public Area We didn't go to the pool at all. It was packed everyday, but if you go very early in the morning and late at night, then it's empty. We didn't like sitting out in the sun, so we didn't even go to the pool deck that much. On the main deck, you can only go from one end of the ship to the other through one side of the ship. That long hallway became very congested all the time. There were only a few shops to browse through. Kids Program The kids' program was horrible. My kids went to one craft thing and they cancelled it. They were going to play monkey ball with the 6 to 9 yr-olds instead. My kids didn't want to play with the little guys, so we left. When I looked through the programs that they had for the entire duration, they really had nothing exciting for the kids. My husband and I didn't mind having the kids with us anyway. Entertainment We really liked the singing and dancing shows. They were very good. We didn't care too much about the Second City and the comedian Dave. We also enjoyed the magic show and his memory seminar. There were a lot of music going on in other areas. We particularly liked the guy Bernie Martini. He was very talented. We also did the ballroom dancing lessons which were good. We also attended a cooking demo by the executive chef. He was a very funny guy. However, some people didn't appreciate his humor and found him annoying. We didn't participate in the Bingo. It was very expensive. NCL pushed the bingo every night before every show began. Food There are 2 MDR's - Venetian and Aqua. Venetian was grand while Aqua was cozy. We ate there pretty much for all dinners and some lunch. Venetain and Aqua had their own menus, but they were not that much difference between them. The daily chef's selections were the same for both. We ate dinner at 5:30pm every night and we didn't have to wait at all. Try to avoid dinner between 6:30pm and 9pm. That's when you definitely have to wait. Both menus pretty much had a beef dish, a chicken dish, a seafood dish, and a vegetarian dish. The food was fine, not bad, but nothing to write home about. We went to Le Bistro one night and the food was definitely better. The portions in the dinning rooms were kind of small for appetizer. Make sure you ask how many pieces were there and just order more. The Garden Cafe was just your normal buffet food. We didn't like eating buffet food that much, so we only ate there when we had to grab something quick. We were not a family of hamburger and hot dog either, so we didn't go to the Pool deck BBQ. We even went to Venetain for breakfast. We didn't like the crowd at the buffet for breakfast. We tried Blue Lagoon a few times, it's fine if you just need a small snack. The wait staff were fine. They were not rude at all, but not very attentive. There was one dessert that they served during luch that I really liked, so I asked the waitress to see if I could have that for dinner. She said that's only for lunch, not dinner. When I was on Royal, the waiter was more than happy to accomodate whatever I needed. Bermuda It was absolutely beautiful! I wouldn't going back there again. Unfortunately, instead of having 2 1/2 days there, we only had 1 1/2 beacuse of the hurricane. We had to leave on Thursday afternoon instead of Friday afternoon. NCL refunded our port charges of $20 p.p. We took a ferry to St. George and walked around for about 2 hours. Then we took a bus to Crystal Cave. It was worth it. Then we went to Hamilton, but we didn't have much time left, so we didn't do that much there. Things were definitely expensive in Bermuda. I tried the Fish Chowder with the sherry rum sauce, it was a unique taste. I liked it. If you decide to purchase the transportation pass, make sure you factor in the frequency of the buses. You might have to wait 45min. or longer for the next bus if you miss one. We also did the Helmet dive the next morning. That was really the highlight of the day. You were walking at the bottom of the ocean (approx. 15ft deep) and touched some of the fish. They could take pictures for you down there for $15 p.p. plus $10 for the CD. They download all the pictures for you on a CD. Debarkation Since we only had one big suitcase and 2 carryons. We decided to do the easy walkoff. We left the ship at 9am and were home by 10:30am. All in all, this was not a bad cruise. Our expectation was not very high for NCL and everything was within that. My first choice will still be Royal. I will only go on NCL if the itineray fits me. I would not go on a more than 7-day cruise with NCL since you are going to look at the same menu day after day. There were some good choices (I especially liked the Indian dish on the chef selection one night), but it could get a little boring. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
First of all, I do want to report we had a wonderful time. I think many times a cruise is what you make of it. We certainly had good attitudes about everything. As far as background travel information on me, this is my 4th cruise (first ... Read More
First of all, I do want to report we had a wonderful time. I think many times a cruise is what you make of it. We certainly had good attitudes about everything. As far as background travel information on me, this is my 4th cruise (first time with Carnival, two Royal Caribbeans and this one). However, the last cruise I ever took was 10 years ago on our honeymoon. Things in the industry have certainly changed and not really for the better at the end of the day. Embarkation: Was a breeze at Black Falcon Pier. We arrived at the busiest time (around noon) waited happily in line, had already checked our luggage with a porter and got our cruise card. We got onboard on deck 7 to a staff member handing out champage (it wasn't great but it was free!) or orange juice to kids. Told to go to deck 12 where a buffet and music was awaiting. I had been told by a previous cruiser that there was no food available until after the muster drill at 3:30 but this was definitely not true. I think if you arrived after 2, you might have been out of luck. Wear your bathing suit or bring it in your carryon....I didn't and regretted that I couldn't just jump in the pool on that hot embarkation day (luggage didn't get to the room until 6 pm as promised). Staff: overall very friendly people. A few not so much, but honestly, we talked to so many crew members who LOVE Boston to Bermuda because we are good drinkers and tippers. Ship: overall a very nice ship. We wished the main pool was bigger because at sea it was so crowded. The kids pool looked great but I heard from families that it could be so crowded at any given time. There is a huge phenomenon called "Chair Hogs"...they will take any/all lounge chairs and hoard them for hours with no one on them. Our cruise was fully booked and at times, it was a bit overwhelming (I actually knew of people who avoided Raffles the buffet because of that reason). Outdoor basketball court, golf cages, jogging track, an indoor decent gym, a lap pool indoors, many restaurants and pubs. Our Cabin: we were mid-ship on 9th deck (9101). A cabin that supposedly could hold 4 people (I'm not really sure I want to test that out). Beds were a bit hard but ok. Our bathroom configuration was actually more open and larger than the people across the hall who had a balcony. Here's the big problem with our room: the NOISE! Oh man, every evening we could hear the entire sets of all the lounge singers directly below us. It was wild because those same people directly across the hall from us (9102) couldn't hear a thing! We had a tv, a fridge (I called and requested one ahead of time). Didn't see our room stewards Christian and Alit a lot but that was because of our crazy coming and goings. Dining: this was the part that struck me the most as having changed (and perhaps it has changed with EVERY cruise line). However, for a couple like us, the freestyling cruising wasn't as great for me as the traditional route. First of all, I liked the entertainment that dining used to be on other cruises. It was always a show. Yes, the meal time itself was slower, but we met so many people and got close relationships. As it was, hubby and I are very social so we found a way to connect with lots of people. But I personally missed getting to know a group of people every night, the same waitstaff. The food itself, was very hit and miss. We had the best meal the entire week at Cagney's steakhouse. We had to pay for it to get it great. And not only that, it was supposed to be $25 per person but once you saw the "Surf and Turf" on the menu, you have to get that at $35 per person! It was awesome, but I think on principle alone, it kind of smarted to have to pay for food! I was always used to it being totally inclusive. Some meals at Windows were ok, some not so great....very hit and miss there but generally good service. Nickel and diming: someone on cruise critic used that term and it applies. How about being at Windows (the free restaurant) for a breakfast and seeing a girl with a tray of different sized orange juices asking "would you like fresh squeezed orange juice" and seeing the sign that says small $2.50 large $3.50. Or how about being at Cagney's (already paying $70 per couple before anything else) and someone asking, "would you like to buy a rose for the lady?"...again, more money. How bout at Blue Lagoon (a great 24/7 dining place), however, if you want jumbo shrimp you can buy them for $15 for 8 of them or crab legs if you're really feeling rich! Every day the announcements will include more stuff to buy like bingo cards, which is really ridiculous because you won't win unless you buy the electronic machine. I never saw anyone win bingo on a little paper card. After a while I felt assaulted with advertisements. I will say buy your liquor on the ship, it is ridiculously cheap (captain morgan for $10, captain morgan private stock for $18, bailey's for $10). Entertainment: was overall good with a few things I wouldn't have gone to. I really enjoyed the Second City comedy show but the illusionist had an ego as big as the ship. I may be biased against the lounge singers because if I ever attempted a nap in my cabin, it was all I could hear! Definitely go to the Not so Newlywed Games, the Perfect Couple game, the Quest. We heard Jane L. Powell singing-she was pretty good though some people didn't care for her style of music. We LOVED the white hot party, even though many other people got annoyed at all the kids who snuck in (they initially did kick them out, but they always got right back in!). Sit or stand by the pool when at sea around 2:30, the games are a riot. Bars: We spent a good deal of time in all the bars (yes, we made a great time of it!) Did a lot of singing at Henry's Pub. Definitely get the buckets of beer (6 for about $25 depending on type). Also a must go to (if you like martinis) is the martini tasting at Champagne Charlie's (best $15 I ever spent). Ed is a master mixologist and makes you 5 martinis and serves it with plenty of entertaining trivia. He's the best and I am now loving the lychee saketini martini! It happens 3 times during the cruise. WE also did the pub crawl on Sunday night. For $25 it was overpriced, yet great fun. The drinks were YUCKY! But the people were great. Unfortunately at the last bar (it was 11 pm by this time), an angry mother was screaming at the crew near our group complaining about our reckless and obnoxious behavior (being a mother of two, I was sort of wondering why her kid was sitting at the bar at 11 pm, but whatever)..... Internet: I should have bought the 250 minutes for $100 but I thought that was ridiculous to be on the internet for that long on a cruise! I was wrong and ended up buying three packages. This was due to the fact that my children were home and I needed to keep in touch since our friends were watching them and I was nervous. Internet was slow but intact and I got my messages across through Facebook. If you are unlucky enough not to be on Facebook (and the people you need to get messages to) you will be paying an additional $4 per email to send!!!!!So get on Facebook! or use your cell phone (I didn't because our boys are young and didn't want them to get sad hearing our voices). Disembarkation: We didn't get our luggage outside our cabin in time (2 am-yikes we were out having fun still!) so we had to do early walk off at 9:15. What a line! I think more people than not are opting to just walk off. Went right through customs easily. Just handed my paper and off we went. Both embarkation and disembarkation nice experiences and the customs staff was really pleasant. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This was considered a bonus cruise as we usually cruise once a year. With our daughters each bringing a friend and cramming them in an inside room for 4, and without airfare (we drove from Maine), the cruise was a reasonable way to visit ... Read More
This was considered a bonus cruise as we usually cruise once a year. With our daughters each bringing a friend and cramming them in an inside room for 4, and without airfare (we drove from Maine), the cruise was a reasonable way to visit Bermuda. My wife and I cruised to Bermuda 17 years ago on RCCL's Song of America so we looked forward to revisiting the island. Our drive from home to Boston's port took just under 2 hours. The friend traveling with our youngest daughter flew in from Montana, but had left her passport back home. Thank God she was born in Maine so we were able to secure her birth certificate as we left for Boston. It proved to be fortunate we were departing on a Friday or the town hall would have been closed. Embarkation was fairly quick. Left luggage with a porter and waited in line for about 30 minutes. On board within 45 minutes of arriving. Parked at cruise port garage. Easy. As with all lunches, food was available in the buffet line in Raffles or on deck, where there was always a noon-time bbque of some sort. The buffet food was about the same as any other cruise we've been on. No real complaints. Loved the pool deck bbque each day, and the food at the Bier Garten and Blue Lagoon wwas always good. We ate dinner the first 2 nights in Windows Dining Room. Ricky was our first waiter and he was quite fun. The view is amazing but the food was so-so. The second night we had terrible service as the server just didn't seem pleasant or that she even wanted to be there. This prompted one of the few complaints I have made on a cruise. Felix, the Maitre D, was willing to do anything to address our concern, but we ended up trying The Garden Dining Room the next night. There we met Chuna, who was our server for the rest of the cruise. What a delight. In fact, we found every staff member in the Garden Dining Room to be professional, polite, and fun. Our girls even commented on the difference between the 2 dining rooms. While I admit it was nice not having to get dressed up each night, with a party of 6, we chose to make reservations for the dining rooms. We could only choose from 2 times: 5:30 or 8:30, or we could wait in line for other times, and the lines were long much of the time. We felt the food quality was pretty consistent and good in The Garden Room. We did not venture into any of the specialty restaurants. The ship is clean and modest. It is small compared to the last few ships we have been on, thus pool space is a little tight on sea days and the kids programs did not have lots of space or the modern toys other ships have. The front desk staff, the cruise director staff, and the hotel staff were excellent. Paul, the CD, was energetic and present. He happens to have a great singing voice as well. The night time entertainment was quite good on most counts. Only the magician seemed lack luster but Jane Powell, a singer, was just amazing, and the ship's dance troupe did an excellent job as well. We also enjoyed the Second City Troupe that was on board. The last night was the crew talent show and should not be missed. Awesome talent by the 'regular' staff. Bermuda. Get the 3 day bus/ferry pass. We went to Tobacco Bay - AWESOME, tranquil, good snorkeling, and food available. We went to Horseshoe Bay - pretty but crowded and expensive treats. We also went to Snorkel Park, where the snorkeling is best just to the left of the rocks by the yellow pole. We also did Church Bay, where the snorkeling (try left side) was superb, but seas of little rough. Beach had some sea glass. Next time, based on passenger feedback, we'll try St Catherine's beach (next to Tobacco) and Warwick Beach (next to Horseshoe) and Shelly Beach. Shopping is high end mostly and we did not try any island eateries. Would we do this cruise again? YES. Would we try NCL again? YES. But we prefer the traditional type of dining, where you really get to know your wait staff. Is RCCL still our favorite cruise line? YES, but every cruise we have taken, including this one, has its good points, and we really don't have any major complaints. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
First of all Boston is a beautiful city. It was our first trip to Boston and loved the hotel and ease of getting around on foot. It was a simple drive to Black Falcon and the parking was nice at only $15/night at the port. The only thing ... Read More
First of all Boston is a beautiful city. It was our first trip to Boston and loved the hotel and ease of getting around on foot. It was a simple drive to Black Falcon and the parking was nice at only $15/night at the port. The only thing that surprised us about the port was that there were no porters to pick up the luggage when we arrived and we had to park and then carry our luggage. Not a huge deal but not as easy as we have experienced in the past. We arrived around 11:15 and were on the ship before noon. We were in a suite so we got to skip the regular line but it wasn't that long a line anyway and it was moving quickly. We were able to board the ship and drop our carry on in the room before we went searching. The ship was as beautiful as everyone said it was. There was champagne and orange juice being handed out everywhere. This is a nice touch. We went to Cagney's for lunch which was a suite benefit. This was our first time in a suite and really enjoyed the perk of having lunch and breakfast at Cagney's. The service here was excellent, always! Such cheerful staff probably because Cagney's is not that busy at those times of day. Our room was ready at 2 and it was lovely. Very spacious, clean and we loved the cappacino maker when it worked. Our butler, Jose, spent 2 days getting it fixed. There was also an issue with the air conditioner. It was very cold in the room and the thermostat wouldn't turn down. There was someone there to fix it immediately and it was completed within an hour. The only problem we had with the Spirit was the service in the main restaurant, Windows. Although the meals are the same in the Garden Room, the service in Windows was substandard. We didn't get our coffee and it took a very long time for the meal. The Garden Room was the exact opposite. The waiter's we had there were amazing and we never had to wait long for meals or coffee. We didn't get in the pool. The only time we wanted to go it was closed because apparently someone let there child in there and the kid did something in the pool! The only other time we went to go in it was our last sea day and by the time we got to the pool it was pouring rain. Oh well. Most of the time the pool was too crowded. There is only 1 small pool and there were 2500 people on the ship. The shows were pretty good. We especially enjoyed On the Radio. There was one singer named Adam who was very, very good. Other than the shows I thought there was a lack of things to do on the ship. There weren't too many interesting activities. Bermuda is the most beautiful place I've ever been. I loved Tobacco Bay (we almost had the whole place to ourselves), Horseshoe Bay was spectacular (we went at around 4 when the place was empty), the Aquarium and Zoo was awesome and the Crystal Caves I could have done without. All in all, I can't wait to visit there again although I would like to go to Bermuda on NCL Dawn. Although I liked the Spirit, I think I like the Dawn better. Overall, I think that anyone who cruises the Spirit will have a great time. We sure did. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This was our 7th cruise, the 2nd we've taked with our 3 boys (8, 11, 13) the previous one with the family was 5 years ago on Celebrity. We've also cruised on RCCL. This time we chose NCL because of the Freestyle Cruise concept; ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise, the 2nd we've taked with our 3 boys (8, 11, 13) the previous one with the family was 5 years ago on Celebrity. We've also cruised on RCCL. This time we chose NCL because of the Freestyle Cruise concept; prefering not to buy & pack formal cloathes for the family. This was a big deal for us: dressing the family for dinner was a major factor why we haven't cruised with the kids more frequently (we enjoy dinner in a sit down dinning room rather than at the casual buffets). Overall, we had a great time on the Spirit and would cruise on NCL again. That said, we quickly found a real downside to the Freestyle concept....service in the dining room. On other cruise lines, your wait staff would jump through hoops for you because they knew there was a nice tip coming at the end of the cruise. Since dinner is open seating, you were essentially guaranteed a different waiter every night without the "tip" motivation so service was inconsistent (NCL charges your account a flat service charge which is devided among the whole crew). The other downside was waiting for a table during peak times in the main dinning rooms (Windows and Garden). On the 2nd night of the cruise, we were told the wait in the Garden restuarnt would be 30 minutes; it actually was 55 minutes. Once we were seated, service was horrible....dirty plates left on the table, water glasses consistently empty, over two hours for the meal. We were quite upset and complained to the Guest Services desk. To NCL's credit, they put us in touch with the Head Waiter at the Garden restaurant who gave us a standing reservation at the same table for the rest of the cruise. Kenny, our newly assigned waiter, was outstanding and provided service that was as good, if not better, than any cruise we've been. Previous reviews were mixed on the quality and variety of food in the main dinning rooms. We were pleasently surprised with the food...we found it to be mostly excellent and essentially on par with our earlier crusing experiences. Food in the buffet was excellent as well. While we generally liked the ship, the rooms were smaller than other cruise lines we've been on. An unexpected impact of this was crowding....smaller rooms translates to more passengers sharing public spaces. This was particularly evident in the main pool and at Raffles, the buffet dinning room where it was often quite difficult to find a table during peak breakfast and lunch hours. In addition, a lot of space on the ship has been dedicated to the speciality (up charge) restaurants. Compared to other cruise lines, this resulted in less open space for other recreational activities. While the Spirit was a nice ship, we found the RCCL and Celebrity ships we've previously cruised on a bit more upscale. We loved the Second City shows and the kids got a kick out of the magic act....the variety shows were less then what we had hoped for. Rest of the cruise was great. Bermuda is beautiful and look forward to returning. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I've always been close to home on my birthday since it falls around the Fourth of July weekend and there is usually some type of family gathering.  As this was an extra special birthday (all birthdays should be special), I wanted to ... Read More
I've always been close to home on my birthday since it falls around the Fourth of July weekend and there is usually some type of family gathering.  As this was an extra special birthday (all birthdays should be special), I wanted to celebrate differently by going on a cruise for the first time.  It started out with only my adult son accompanying me (since my husband could not deal with the possibility of getting seasick) and ended up including my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew.  I preferred to sail from New York for convenience and ease and I wanted a cruise that was had the most casual dress codes.  NCL's freestyle cruising concept appealed to my son and me not just because of its dress code, but for its dining policy of eating whenever, wherever, and with whomever instead of assigned seating times and restaurants.  The length of the Bermuda cruise (8 days, 7 nights) seemed to best fit our needs since we like to see a place more in depth than a day here and a day there.  With this cruise, we had almost 3 full days in Bermuda.     Embarkation and Sail Away Thanks to one of the detailed Cruise Critic forum posts, I was able to familiarize myself with the process of embarkation in advance.  As native New Yorkers, the pier was only a taxi ride away.  We arrived around 11:30 AM thinking we would be among the first only to find a lot of people already there.  Nevertheless, the process of taking our luggage, going through security checkpoints, and check-in was all completed within 45 minutesmuch more efficient and less painful than at airports.  (They took photos that do not appear on our room key cards, but are embedded into their system so once the card is swiped, the photo appears on their terminal.)  As we departed the area, the first of many photos to be taken by the ship's photographers was taken to be displayed and sold later.  We were greeted at the Dawn's entrance with champagne (orange juice for non-drinkers and children).  There was live music coming from the atrium already, but we proceeded to locate our cabin, knowing that it may not be ready.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was ready, but then noticed that the two beds were combined when we had specifically asked for 2 separate beds.  Not a problemthey promised that it would be fixed by 8PM but it was done before the end of the afternoon. The mandatory muster (lifeboat) drill at 3:30 was very well organized.  We proceeded to our drill locations (listed on our room cards) and we lined up on deck right underneath our lifeboats.  We were given instructions on securing our life jackets.  After the drill, we returned our life jackets to our rooms and the cruise began! We could not have asked for nicer weather for the Sail Away.  Highlights were passing the Statue of Liberty seen from the top deck and singing "God Bless America" with a group of people.  Then I was thrilled to see my former my high school in Brooklyn from the water, and felt some sadness seeing my mom's old apartment near that.  Sailing under the Verrazano Bridge was exciting when it seemed the smoke stacks of the Dawn would touch the underside of the bridge!  When we returned to our rooms after this, our luggage had already been delivered to our doors, ahead of schedule; we were happily able to unpack and feel settled way before dinner. Stateroom I was fully aware that cruise cabins are much smaller than hotel rooms and since we are used to staying in large hotel rooms/suites on land vacations, I booked a balcony room just to have a more room.  Also, I booked mid-ship for maximum stability which turned out to be a great choice—we were on deck 10.  We found the room small as expected, but were impressed that it was furnished so efficiently.  The mirrors at the head of the bed gave the illusion of a larger room.  The single nightstand separates the two beds.  Both the nightstand and the coffee table have a shelf underneath for additional storage space.  Beds were very comfortable (perfect firmness) with fluffy comforters.  There is a full length mirror in the room, but you cannot use it to see full length if your room if your room is configured with 2 single beds since one of the beds is against the wall and mirror.  If your room is made with one queen, then there is a space where you can stand in front of the mirror.  This was not a problem for us since there are enough mirrors in the room.    There was a small convertible sofa next to the beds which we used only as a sofa.  If the sofa bed was in use as a bed, the only way to get to the balcony would be to climb over the bed and the coffee table would have to be moved.  In the corner by the balcony was a desk unit (ice bucket here) that incorporated a shelf for the small TV and another storage shelf on top of it.  In the opposite corner and leading from the entranceway was another unit which composed the vanity with hairdryer and cushioned stool, 3 drawers in addition to counter space for the coffee maker, stocked coffee, tea, and bottled water, and a well-stocked mini-fridge.  In order to use the fridge for your own purposes, you must remove the contents, but be sure to put everything back as you will be charged for the items removed.  Also with this unit is the lighted closet with ample hangers and 6 shelves within for clothes.  There is ample room on the closet floor for luggage storage.  Finally, next to that was the life jacket storage bins and the room safe.  The bathroom was adequate—I liked the faucet in the sink coming out sideways instead of the standard front facing ones.  I don't know if that is standard for all ships.  Our bathroom had a sliding door divider between the toilet and the sink/shower area.  Normally, this would be a great idea, but in this case, it seems wasted because the toilet area is so small that a tall or big person's knee would prevent the sliding door from closing.   I noticed that my niece/nephew's "inside" room did not have this divider in the bathroom resulting in a more comfortable-appearing bathroom layout.  The one disappointment in the bathroom was the lack of supplied toiletries.  The only supplied items were a shower cap and a bottle of lotion.  There was no bar soap (although there was a bar soap holder in the shower).  Sink soap and bath soap was all in liquid form attached to the wall in dispensers.  I'm assuming this is for neatness and economy, but since I did not know this in advance to bring our own, we ended up not having conditioner for our hair and used the liquid bath soap as our shampoo.  We noticed that although there was an ash tray in the bathroom, fortunately, there was no cigarette odor in the cabin from smoke permeating the fabrics like you can find in a "smoking" hotel room. The lighting was ample—in fact, more than I expected.  There were no lamps, but all either recessed or wall lighting.  Headboard globes were great for night reading.  Carpeting in the rooms is whimsical and beach themed with starfish and there was a fish print as art on the wall in shades of blue.  One negative about our room location was the fact that the communal ice chest was situated right outside our door.  This is comparable to having a hotel room right next to the ice dispenseryou hear everyone filling up with ice.  Not bothersome during the day, but it served as a wakeup call in the mornings.  I guess an ice machine on every floor and walking the length of the ship would be too much walking for people.  Placing near the three elevator banks can be a compromise solution.  However, if this is a cruise ship standard, and the locations are always the same, the locations should be noted on ships' deck plans so people can make informed choices at the time of choosing a cabin.           Ship Not having been on another ship with which to compare, I found this ship to be huge and beautiful thus providing many photo ops.  The public areas were all tastefully decorated, yet colorful and fun.  Exploring each deck was an adventure in itself—it takes a while to familiarize yourself with the locations of everything especially since the 3 elevator banks make it more difficult to memorize the direction to turn once off the elevator.    Most of the activities are on Decks 6-7 and 11-14.  The majority of the staterooms are on the decks in-between.  On Deck 6-7, there's the Stardust Theater.  Yes, the theatre spans 2 floors and the stadium style seating provides unobstructed views.  Also on Deck 6 is the Dawn Club Casino, Gatsby's Lounge, and 3 restaurants, Aqua, Le Bistro, and Impressions.  The latter two charge a cover and therefore considered the premium restaurants.  The Venetian restaurant is actually on Deck 6, but the entrance is on Deck 7 and the ocean view is grand since it's in the back of the ship.  Because of its location, movement was more apparent on the rough sea days.  Also on Deck 7 is the Grand Atrium which is especially lovely in the evening when it is lit up with its glass elevators.  The Atrium is the hub where you find the Reception Desk, the Cruise Consultant, and the Shore Excursions Desk.  Although the Internet Cafe is listed as being on Deck 9, it is easier to access that from the Atrium on Deck 7.  It is visible from there and you reach it by walking up the curved staircase.  Internet access is very expensive and I didn't use it, but it is good to know that it is available in case of need.  As you glance up, take note of the stained glass ceilings on the left and right sides.  The remainder of Deck 7 consists of restaurants, shops, and lounges:  Blue Lagoon (looks like a 24 hour fast-food place), Bamboo & Sushi (premium restaurant), Teppanyaki (premium restaurant), Galleria Gift Shop (main shop for souvenirs), Photo Gallery, Java Cafe, Pearly King's Pub, Dazzles Lounge, and Sake Bar. The two places I did not use or visit are the Salsa Restaurant and Bar on Deck 8 and the El Dorado Spa and Salon on Deck 11.  There's an indoor pool and Jacuzzi here along with the sauna and steam bath for an additional charge.  The most festive outdoor part of the ship was by the Oasis pool and Topsiders Bar on Deck 12.  It was always hopping with live music and it is there that the Sail Away poolside barbecues take place.  The hot tubs are also here and were always crowded.  Two blackjack tables by the pool were a nice touch so people can play while getting fresh air instead of being indoors.  The Garden Cafe is on this deck as well; this is the main buffet restaurant on the Dawn offering unobstructed ocean views on both sides.  Also on Deck 12 is the Cinema which is a reduced size movie theater showing films and occasionally live presentations.  To contrast the lively pool area, there are quiet areas on this Deck too.  The Library has a decent selection of books with comfortable chairs; the Shuffles Card Room has card tables set up for cards, Scrabble, checkers, jigsaw puzzles, and provides an assortment of board games.  The Art Gallery has exhibits to stimulate the intellect.  This quiet area was especially popular on the rainy and cool days.  The Fitness Center is also on this Deck and it has a wide variety of equipment and weights.  If you don't work out, you can always dance the night away at the Spinnaker Lounge on this Deck or play Bingo here during the day.  Kids have their own T-Rex pool and with themed slides on the rear (aft) of this deck.  A single coin-operated pool table is near the Garden Cafe.  There is a Chapel on Deck 12 in the front, but I never saw it. Deck 13 is the sports deck with a Golf Driving Net, Shuffleboard, and two human chess boards.  You can do your morning walk on the jogging/walking track here.  The Video Zone (arcade) is also on this deck, but it was disappointingly small with a poor variety of games.  The Kids Center and Teen Center is on this deck as well as the Star Bar and another hot tub which I never visited.  Cagney's Steakhouse is on this deck and is the most expensive of the premium restaurants.  By the way there were ping pong tables, but I seem to recall that they were on one of the lower decks, not 13.  Deck 14 has the Bimini Bar which is outdoors and only open weather permitting along with the basketball/volleyball court (in need of new balls). There are dispensers of hand disinfectants placed all around the ship and at the entrance of every restaurant.  Their visibility and availability is a great idea to promote awareness even though people do not use them all the time.  At the entrance to the buffet, however, there is a crew member stationed with a spray container for a mandatory spritzing of our hands.  I do not know whether this procedure was only implemented after the H1N1 flu outbreak, but it should be continued. Dining As stated earlier, I did not want to be locked into a certain dining time for any meal during vacation.  Also, from all the stories about the enormous amount of food available on a cruise, I was determined not to gain weight from this cruise.  Therefore, on most days, I tried to adhere to my usual two meals a day instead of the continuous food and snacks offered on the cruise.  Basically, there are four sit-down restaurants that are included in your cruise price (Aqua, Venetian, Garden Cafe buffet, and Blue Lagoon Cafe) and 6 premium restaurants that charge a cover that ranges from $10-$25 per person (Cagney's Steakhouse, Le Bistro, Bamboo & Sushi, Teppanyaki, Impressions, and Salsa).  With this large selection, there should be no problem finding a suitable dining location.     Since we did not care for the selections at the Garden Cafe for lunch on embarkation day, we tried the Blue Lagoon for a quick lunch on Monday after searching the deck for New York Deli (as listed in the newsletter) which turned out to be merely the sandwich station of the Garden Cafe!  We thought that was a little deceptive since the way it was listed gave us the impression that it was a separate restaurant, not just a part of the Garden Cafe.  Also, for people who are familiar with authentic NY deli restaurants, this was nowhere near that...it was basically an assortment of cold cuts and breads—not the thick hot corned beef or pastrami sandwiches you expect to see.  By the way, I noticed a separate listing for Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar which I never found either.  I have a feeling it is the ice cream station of the Garden Cafe and I am glad time was not spent searching for a separate ice cream bar named Sprinkles.       Anyway, there's a funny story at Blue Lagoon where we ended up dining that Monday, but it did not end funny.  Because of the limited selections, my son chose chicken tenders and fries and I chose wonton noodle soup.  Normally, wonton noodle soup consists of some wontons and noodles in a bowl of soup.  When the waiter asked me "how many?", I said "one", meaning one order.  Since he gave me a strange look and asked me how many wontons I wanted, I then thought he meant we needed to choose how many pieces of wontons we want in the soup.  So I responded "8 wontons".  When my son ordered his chicken tenders, he was asked "how many?"  We looked at him and said "how many tenders?"  He said "yes".  So not knowing how large those pieces were, I said to order 6 just in case they were the size of small chicken nuggets.  What resulted was they started bringing out 8 cups of soup each with a single wonton and no noodles.  I managed to stop them and took only 1 cup since it was not what I expected anyway.  The soup tasted like flavored salt water.  They started bringing out 6 plates with 2 chicken tenders on each with fries and we ended up taking only 2 plates, but they were able to give the others to other people who ordered them.  Clearly a comedy of errors—the waiter must have been new.  The story turned bad after my son got sick about an hour after eating there, but fortunately, he was better within 24 hours.  The next morning, we made it to the Garden Cafe (buffet) during breakfast hours and enjoyed the breakfast selections much more than their lunch fare so for the rest of the trip, we had a late breakfast instead of lunch at the Garden Cafe.  Except for the long lines at the omelet station, it was quick and tasty since we did not have to wait for service.  They should have more omelet stations to accommodate the crowds.  I was happy that they always had the option of egg whites at the omelet station.  Also, I heard that the waffles were not well done enough even when requested, and that's probably a result of the lines as well.  We never went to the buffet for dinner because there were so many other service restaurants from which to choose.  I walked to the buffet one night at dinner and saw the selections offered.  They were much better at dinner time than at lunch, but I cannot say anything about the taste since I never ate there at dinner.  Although the lunch and dinner selections vary by meal, the buffet menu remains the same each day of the week. For dinner, we started out on our first two nights at the Venetian.  The dEcor of this restaurant is the most elegant of all the non-premium restaurants.  There was no wait for a table for two, but for larger parties, reservations are recommended to save waiting time.  The menu for each restaurant is the same each night, but there is a special unique to each restaurant every night.  As a newbie cruiser, it was strange to be able to order anything you want at a table service restaurant.  In other words, if you prefer 3 appetizers instead of an entrEe or in addition to an entree, you can do that.  If you want multiple desserts, you can do that too.  If you don't like the entrEe after tasting it, you can order something else.  After discovering these options, I wonder why anyone would want to eat in a buffet with lower food quality.  Favorites at the Venetian are the hot shrimp scampi appetizer and the pork medallions entrEe.  My guess is that the buffet caters more to families with kids who may not eat the fancier prepared foods and to people who need to eat in a rush in order to do other things.  The third night, we dined at Aqua which was just as good an experience as Venetian.  The dEcor is totally opposite that of Venetian; Venetian was old world elegance and Aqua was modern lighting with an ocean theme.  While the food was good in both, and the servers were pleasant, the service was a bit slow for my taste and we did not even dine during peak dining times.  We always had dinner after the first show which turned out to be around 8:45.  The advice is to allow plenty of time if you want to eat prior to the shows.  On the days we were in port, we ate dinner in Bermuda (see Port section) because I feel that part of experiencing a new place is eating locally. For the last two dinners, we wanted to try a specialty restaurant (premium) and after reviewing the menus, we decided on Impressions, the Italian Place.  DEcor here is simple and tasteful with Impressionist paintings and murals as decorations.  The waiter here was so wonderful and it was the first time the manager came out and visited each table to check on everyone.  I told him that my only regret was that I did not discover his restaurant earlier on the cruise.  Our experience was so good that we decided to go back on the next night (final night) with the rest of our family.  The manager came out and remembered what I said to him the night before and seemed genuinely happy that I did come back.  Favorites at Impressions was the calamari appetizer, rib eye steak that was done just as asked in an Italian sauce, and tiramisu.  One nice touchthey changed our napkins as soon as they saw that we wore dark slacks.  I asked them why they gave us a dark napkin and their reply was so we wouldn't get lint on our dark slacks—that's a first for me.  We also had two birthday celebrations during our cruise.  The ship gives you a very nicely decorated cake that feeds 6 for each birthday and the staff sings "Happy Birthday," and for anniversary celebrations, they sing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." On Thursday night, there was a Chocoholic Buffet at 10PM which was mobbed way beyond my expectations.  There, the ice sculptures that I understand are traditional at midnight buffets were displayed.  I was not impressed by the quality of the chocolate desserts, but people seemed to be really enjoying themthe variety available was beyond imagination.  Chocolate dipped skewers of fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, and honeydew) are not for me—I'll just stick to strawberries.  I was happy the midnight buffet did not exist on this ship because I think it is just overkill with all the food available during the day.  (I hear it is being, or has been, phased out at other cruise lines too.)  There are even small snack buffets during the day and evening at the casino so you do not have to leave it if you get hungry. Since there is no formal night on this ship, I did not hear of a Captain's Table night dining event.  We were informed that the Captain was dining one afternoon at one of the premium restaurants, but that was all.  Since I favor freestyle cruising, not having this formal night did not affect me at all.  We saw the Captain when the officers and crew were recognized at the end of one of the shows and the Captain was available for pictures on one of the days for those interested.  A lot of people stay away from the premium restaurants because they feel that food is already included in the price of the cruise so why should they pay extra?  I agree with that to a certain extent, but once I ate at Impressions, I could see, feel, and taste the difference.  The extra expense would probably be wasted on families with young children, but for adults, I now feel it is well worth it.  The one change I think NCL should make is that soft drinks should be included in the premium restaurants.  Although I think soft drinks should be included in every meal, it seems to be an industry-wide practice to charge extra for them.  Since the premium restaurants already charge extra to dine, I feel they could absorb the extra $2+ dollars for a soda.  It can get tiring drinking the included iced tea and water every night.  Activities                            There were so many activities from which to choose and not enough time to do all I wanted while trying to get some R&R at the same time.  Thanks to a post of another CC member, I knew to read the "Freestyle Daily" newsletter that is delivered to the room every night from beginning to end.  This gives the schedule of the next day's activities so you can plan your day.  In the event you do not read your newsletter, the Cruise Director, John I. comes on the intercom every morning to announce the major activities they want to promote for the day—usually the ones with extra charges.  His overly cheerful and energetic announcements were welcome to some and irritated others when he kept promising the "pink sand beaches of Bermuda" and wishing everyone a "crackin' crackerjack smashing day".  In all fairness, John did perform his job well since he always seemed to be everywhere on the ship—we don't understand how one can be so full of energy after dancing on deck till wee hours and get up so early to make those announcements—lots of caffeine? Activities ranged from physical activities to quiet activities and from group activities to individual activities so there is something for everyone.  Some of the physical activities are fitness classes, basketball open play, country line dancing, swing dance lessons, soccer open play, and shuffleboard tournaments.  For the adult video game lover, there are adult Wii tournaments including bowling, boxing, and tennis.  For ones who like to learn, there is a large variety of seminars, eg. fragrance, rum, art, collecting, and fitness.  Demonstrations are given in cooking and ice sculpting.  Tastings are also on the agenda.  Bingo is almost a daily routine.  There is even an art auction.  I noticed an emphasis in jewelry and art—perhaps the assumption is made that cruisers have money to invest in these items.  The Cinema shows not first-run, but fairly recent movies throughout the day.  The Casino offers gaming lessons as well as slot, blackjack, and Texas Hold'em tournaments. Because I loved the towel animals on my bed, I attended the towel folding demonstration and was so fascinated I ended up buying the CD on impulse.  Thinking back, how useful is this skill unless work in the field or own a B&B?  I also attended the most interesting Memory Seminar, but I didn't buy the DVD course that was offered since it would probably end up gathering dust on the shelf. The one activity I did not care for was the Pub Crawl which happened twice during the cruise to my knowledge.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, one pays a fee and visits 5 bars with the group in an hour and gets a drink at each bar.  The group is led by a Crawl Master (crew member) and as it travels on the ship from bar to bar, the members raise a ruckus.  The first time I heard it, I thought there was a fight or riot on board.  We were warned that they were coming into the casino (because there was a bar inside) and the group numbered around 100.  This happened during a blackjack tournament and the players could not even hear the dealer's instructions—the noise level was deafening.  Yes, those people are having the time of their lives, but at the same time, they should stay within their areas and not be disruptive to others who are in the midst of enjoying other activities.  Service As I mentioned previously, service tended to be slow in the restaurants, but the servers were always pleasant.  The problem may not be with the servers, but with the kitchen.  I did not order room service at all so I do not know whether that was quicker.  The service in the premium restaurant seemed quicker maybe due to the smaller size of the place and therefore fewer people.  Room stewards and stewardesses were friendly and efficient.  They seem to be much quicker in making up the room than hotel housekeeping services.  The nightly turn down service with chocolate and the towel animal was a nice touch.  I missed seeing 2 animals because on the first 2 nights, we had the "do not disturb" sign on.  This was a result of tips for hotel stays when put the sign up to give the impression that someone is in the room in order to prevent theft.  On a cruise ship, be sure not to put the "do not disturb" on unless you want to miss your chocolate and towel animal.  Crew members were friendly and helpful—you are always greeted as they pass you in the halls.  On our first day, we noticed that our room was unusually cold.  Wearing a sweater in the public areas is fine, but the room was too cold for sleep comfort.  We found that the thermostat was broken since we tried the warmest setting and then no fan, and cold air was still blowing out of the vent.  When I went downstairs to report this, they sent someone up right away—in fact he was there before we walked back to the room.  Apparently, there is a sensor on the balcony frame and the balcony door was off its track (I was wondering why the door was so hard to open and close).  He got it back on track, opened the thermostat, adjusted it with his computer, and we were comfy for the rest of the trip. The captain kept us informed in advance when there was going to be rougher sailing.  We had two days of that; barf bags were placed all over the ship in the public areas, but I did not notice anyone needing to use it (at least not in public). Entertainment     In addition to almost continuous music of various styles throughout the ship in the lounges, there was different entertainment in the Stardust Theater every night with two shows per night.  The lounges had singers and musicians playing tributes to various artists such as the Beatles, Motown, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Elton John, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkel, and male crooners. There were also game shows throughout the week and karaoke, but we did not get a chance to attend any of them. We liked going to the earlier show at the Stardust as it was less crowded and we were able to get great seats closer to show time rather than sit in the theater and wait for half an hour.  There were eight different evening shows and we attended 6-1/2 of them.  We missed half of the Crew Talent show due to a dinner reservation conflict on our final night.  What we saw of the talent show impressed us.  Our favorite shows were the 70s show (Band on the Run) and the Bollywood show.  We felt that the Gleason Magic show of illusions was not as entertaining as his daytime Closeup Magic Show with cards earlier in the week.  The illusions were typical of the ones you see in Vegas, nothing different.  If you go for the "staged" illusions, then you will enjoy Gleason's evening show—for me, the "closeup" card tricks are more amazing and Gleason does some I have never seen before.  The first show was the most disappointing because it was entirely presented by comedian Dave Heenan who, in our opinion, was not particularly funny.  We could tell our sentiments were shared by hearing the comments of others leaving the theatre.  He appears again at the Farewell show together with magician Greg Gleason where he presents some funnier lines.  Do not let any disappointment of the first show keep you from attending the rest of the shows—each show is different and they get better! Port      After a rough Tuesday at sea, it was nice to open the curtains to see land, King's Wharf and Royal Naval Dockyard.  We slept through the docking.  However, after hearing our Cruise Director John repeatedly telling us about the "pink sand beaches of BERMUDA", it was disappointing to see the overcast skies and torrential downpours later in the day.  Our cabin was located on the starboard side of the ship and for the next 2 days, we were able to watch all the action on land from our balcony.  To prepare for this trip, I had requested information from the Bermuda Tourism office and had made a list of the "must-sees" in the 2-1/2 days we were there.  I had been told that the shore excursions booked through the ship are considerably more expensive than ones you can book on your own since the ship has to profit on these and you're also paying for the convenience of having it done for you.  The only shore excursion we considered was the 5 hour Bermuda Island Tour by bus which would have given us an overview of the island.  However, by the time I inquired about this, it was already booked up for the first day.  There were openings for the second day, but we opted not to do it because that would have defeated the purpose of taking it because we would not have time to revisit in depth the sites we liked on the tour (the few stops on the tour were short in length).  It turned out to be a wise choice because we got to cover everything we really wanted to cover by purchasing a 3-day transportation pass for $28.  As our itinerary turned out, we really only needed a two day pass.  The only thing lacking was the expert commentary of a tour guide.  Getting on and off the ship daily was quick and painless as long as your passport and room key was presented. Bus stops in Bermuda are not always easily visible.  The more popular ones are market by gray stone huts and a pole painted pink or blue to show the direction.  Others are only marked with the painted pole which can be easily missed.  If you are from the U.S., crossing the street may take some getting used to since Bermudans drive on the right side and I found myself constantly looking in the wrong direction for traffic.         First Day in Bermuda (Wednesday) After purchasing the transportation passes, we headed for the ferry to Hamilton (capital).  Once in Hamilton, we took a short walk to the Customs House where we got our passports stamped—it is the only place where they stamp them in Bermuda.  We walked briefly around the streets of Hamilton towards the main bus depot which turned out to be merely a street lined with the various buses, not a building that I was expecting.  This is their hub.  We took the #1 bus to Crystal Caves where we took a most enjoyable and informative guided tour down to the depths of the cave...great photo ops in here.  If you like caves, and have the time, visit both Crystal and Fantasy Caves at a combo admission price—the formations are different inside.  After the caves, we continued by bus to St. George at the other end of Bermuda.  The bus route passes scenic areas such pastel colored homes and golf courses.  Unfortunately, the rain came down heavily as soon as we arrived at St. George so even with hastily purchased rain ponchos, it was not very pleasant walking around.  We ended up seeing the historic St. Peter's Church only from the outside and King's Square with its stock and pillory from inside a gift shop.  We missed the Unfinished Cathedral.  Experiencing a Bermudan "afternoon tea" would have been nice too, but we did not have the time after waiting out the rain.    From St. George, we took the bus back to Hamilton and dined at the well-known Hog Penny on pub fare such as fish and chips and Bermudan onion rings served on a whimsical sailboat dish while waiting for the weekly Wednesday Summer Evening Festival on Front Street.  After dinner, we were disappointed to discover that the festival was cancelled due to the heavy rain earlier in the day.  They could have had it had they known that it would be sunny and clear by evening.  Since all of the stores along Front Street were either closed or closing, it was back to King's Wharf on the ferry.  We were surprised that the Front Street stores closed so early especially during tourist season.    Second Day in Bermuda (Thursday)  This was our only completely sunny day on the islands and the 100 percent humidity made it really sticky hot even though the temperature was only in the 80s.  We took advantage of the weather to max out our sightseeing along the scenic south shore.  First we took the #7 bus to Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.  In the hot sun, it was quite a trek up the hill from the bus stop to the base of the lighthouse.  Then, the 185 steps to the top made the climb worthwhile because it was so cool and windy at the top and the 360 degree view on a clear day was breathtaking.  Our next stop was to check out a pink sand beach on the south shore and we chose to sample the famous Horseshoe Bay Beach.  Being from the northeast, our beaches always have broken shells among other "stuff" mixed in with the sand and the water is never clear, so the pure soft sands of Horseshoe Bay with the beautiful turquoise water crashing among the rocks which formed calm coves were a sight to behold.  From a distance, you really do not see the pink, but if you look closely, you will see the pink granules and we were able to zoom in for photo verification.  We even got a special treat of seeing a lifeguard pull a man-of-war out of the surf with its stinger longer than I ever imagined it could be.  After walking the entire beach, we were hot and exhausted so we took the "best $2 ride" in a van up the hill to the bus stop and got some interesting tid-bits of island information from the driver on the way up the hill.    Hopping back on the bus, we continued on the south shore until the end of the line and transferred to the next bus to cover the rest of the island including some golf courses and ending at St. George where we were able to see the sites we missed the previous day due to the rain.  Returning to King's Wharf from St. George by ferry gave us the longest of the ferry rides (45 minutes) and from the top deck, you get the sea spray along with wonderful views of the north side of Bermuda.  Since this was our final night in Bermuda, we decided to dine locally at the Frog and Onion pub in Dockyard.  This pub's dEcor is very unusual and historical.  We could not leave Bermuda without trying their famous fish chowder.  Not being a fish soup type, I was leery of it, but it turned out to be pretty tasty.  Word of warning—the waitress gave us a bottle of sherry pepper sauce to mix in with the chowder and I am grateful that we tasted it before pouring it—that's all I am going to say.  Needless to say, we did not use it at all after tasting it and the waitress thought our horrified reaction was amusing!    Third Day in Bermuda (Friday)  We planned to stay close to the ship on this last partial day since we didn't want to miss the ship due to any transportation delays.  Therefore, we saved this day to explore the Royal Naval Dockyard area on foot and do our souvenir shopping.  It rained again around noon, but we anticipated that and had our ponchos with us.  We spent the most time visiting Dockyard Glassworks and Bermuda Rum Cake Company.  At Glassworks, there is a demonstration of glassblowing and the items of all price ranges are for sale.  If you buy glass figures with a local legend behind them, you are given the legend on paper at the time of purchase.  At Rum Cake, you can taste the various flavors to your heart's content before deciding on your purchase (chocolate and traditional were my favorites).  The cakes come in various sizes and they are more costly than the brands sold on the ship and elsewhere, but you should buy the real thingmade with Gosling's rum. We also stopped by Snorkel Park, a free beach area which really seemed to be out of place in the fortress environment of Dockyard.  However, it is the only place within walking distance from the ship if you want a last minute beach experience.  We stumbled upon it during our walk since it was not advertised anywhere and wonder whether this is a locals' place.  It was like an oasis in the middle of a shopping area.  While we are on the topic, my nephew took a Shore Excursion to go Snuba since the rest of us were not interested.  As evident by the word, it is a cross between snorkeling and scuba with no experience necessary.  He had a good experience, but thought the training period took longer than the actual time under water.  He thought the oxygen supply should have lasted longer.  I had not planned to go to Dolphin Quest because I had already done a dolphin encounter in the Florida Keys years ago, but since it was in the area, I thought that I could just get a glimpse of these lovable mammals from the outside since I had not seen any in the ocean on the sail down.  No chance—you cannot see anything from the outside, so do not bother walking in that direction unless you are planning to pay to enter.  We also stopped at Bermuda Clayworks, Makin' Waves (chain souvenir shop), and Dockyard Pharmacy which is more of a souvenir shop too.  This pharmacy has the cheapest bottled water to be found in the area if you need some for the rest of your trip.  (I drink the ship's water during meals, but prefer our own bottled water in the room and to carry around.  On this last morning in Bermuda, I wanted to fill a bottle up with the ship's water from the buffet since we were running low.  We found black pieces of ? in the water coming out from the water dispenser.  This was the only time we found this during the cruise, but it made us go out looking for bottled water.)  If time permitted, we would have visited the Craft Market, the Clocktower Shopping Mall and possibly the Commissioner's House.  We considered the Segway tour of the Dockyard area which would have included the Commissioner's House, but the idea of wearing a helmet in such humidity was not appealing.  Instead, for a final overview prior to departure, we took the cute white free shuttle train from the wharf and stayed on without getting off for a round trip around Dockyard.  Back on board the Dawn, there was another lively Sail Away party on the pool deck complete with barbecue.  Disembarkation     Disembarkation was timely and efficient.  We picked up color coded luggage tags Saturday according to the time we wanted to depart the next morning starting from 8AM through 10:10AM.  Our customs declaration form was left by our door the previous evening.  We opted for the yellow tags which were the latest departure to allow for a more leisurely breakfast.  Luggage was left outside the door by 1AM the previous night for pick up.  Sunday morning, disembarkation was announced by color.  Customs clearance was simple—separate lines for U.S. citizens and othersthe only question asked of us was whether we brought back liquor or cigarettes which we did not and we were free to go.  The key here is to be honest in your declaration and not bring back any forbidden items. Summary My first cruise was a very enjoyable experience except for the two days of rough seas, but that was out of NCL's control.  Walking around wobbly is not enjoyable, but at least our group managed not to get sick all the way.  The small staterooms take some getting used to when compared to hotel rooms.  I would appreciate seeing stateroom comparisons to those of other cruise lines.  There were only five negatives that can be fixed easily:  1) Eliminate the pub crawl or at least, if it is a popular money-making activity for the ship, stop only in outdoor bars where the noise level would be less disruptive, 2) ideally only allow smoking at the casino bar, or at least have non-smoking tables in the casino—one can move from a slot machine to avoid smoke easier than one can move in the midst of a table game when a smoker joins a table and blows smoke in your face, 3) have more toiletries available such as shampoo and conditioner or at least inform the passengers of what is included so we can bring what we need, 4) eliminate the $25 minimum Seabucks redemption policy—not everyone is rich enough to go on another cruise within 18 months—setting the redemption limit to none or a lower amount may be generate a little less revenue for NCL, but would foster greater good will with the passengers to make them feel that at least they got something back for all the money they "donated".  After all, Vegas casinos apply credit to bills for much less than $25, and 5) eliminate the soft drink beverage charge at premium restaurants. Bermudans are friendly and go out of their way to be helpful.  A map, bus and ferry schedule is a must and will easily get you around.  The streets of Bermuda are immaculate—there are horse-drawn carriages, but I never saw or smelled any waste.  Items are expensive compared to New York pricesprobably a result of Bermuda being an island and isolated.  Restaurants tend to be more expensive than what you can find in New York as well.  Weather was much more humid than we expected—very much like a Florida summerI expected cool winds blowing in from the water even during the sunny days.  I give the bus drivers kudos for their skill at driving so speedily on the winding roads—I do not think I saw a straight road except for the downtown area of Hamilton and even then, when the roads were straight, a lot of streets were slanted and hilly like San Francisco.      For the overall experience, the Dawn was a great choice for my son and me because of its freestyle atmosphere.  Some other veteran cruisers in our group preferred the traditional cruise with set dining and formal nights.  All interaction with crew was positive.  The public areas on the ship were always clean—always noticed someone vacuuming.  My answers to my friends' questions, "When is your next cruise?" and "Will you go on another cruise?" are "I don't know yet" and "Yes, I would try another one because I love the cruise experience (travelling as a group, but separating as you wish for activities), but without the feeling of constant movement on the bad days."  I welcome feedback—I thought the Dawn was huge, but how much less movement would an even larger ship have? 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Sail Date July 2009
Ship: Norwegian Dawn is a beautiful ship. Me, my husband, and 2 of my kids sailed on her from July 5,2009 till July 12, 2009 and all of us had an enjoyable time! There was no mess on the Dawn. She was clean, and cleaners cleaned it EVERY ... Read More
Ship: Norwegian Dawn is a beautiful ship. Me, my husband, and 2 of my kids sailed on her from July 5,2009 till July 12, 2009 and all of us had an enjoyable time! There was no mess on the Dawn. She was clean, and cleaners cleaned it EVERY day, trying to work hard!Embarkation: We don't live that far from Manhattan, NY. We just drove their by car, and it took us about 40 min to get their. We didn't have a really long wait. We got into the port and they gave us a number card, so you should hold on to it until they call your number. We just had to wait about 20 min for that. Then they called our number and let us in the ship. The cabins weren't ready till 2 pm so we had to go eat lunch, then come back at 2 pm.Cabin: When we got into our Ocean-view cabin, our luggage's weren't their yet, so we just looked at our cabin, then took a tour around the cruise which was beautiful! (The cabin was VERY neat and clean)Pool: Pool was okay. There were pieces of hair in the pool, but I didn't mind. There were 2 pools, and 4 Jacuzzis which was great. In the pool deck, they had showers if you wanted to just go inside and shower with your swimming suit.Buffet: The morning breakfast buffet was amazing! In the mornings they serve... cereal with milk (any type of milk.. chocolate milk, and regular milk, etc..), they also served pancakes, omelets with any type of ingredients you want on it and it took less than 3 min. They also had different types of fruits, and desert cakes. For lunch in the buffet, they served salmon fish/fried fish, soups, salads, macaroni, fried chicken, and more...Restaurants: If you were hungry in the middle of the day and all the restaurants/buffets were closed, you can go visit "Blue Lagoon" and enjoy french fries with chicken there. We loved Venetian Restaurant. We went their for 5 days, then we went to an Aqua Restaurant, but that restaurant was not so good. Ports: We had 1 island just for 3 days, Kings Wharf, Bermuda, which was okay, but it rained there for 1 day. The 1st day of the island, we caught a bus, and went to the beach. The 2nd day, we went to the Bermuda Mall which was okay. 3rd day, it rained but we still went out of the cruise and just took a tour to the museum, then aquarium.The service in this ship was okay. In our cabin, we had neighbors next door, that had a Suite, with about 40 people. They didn't let us sleep at ALL, so we complained, and also called those neighbors, and told them to keep it down a little, but I guess that didn't help. They constantly kept running, jumping, yelling, and banging on the walls.All in all, this was a wonderful cruise week. I recommend this cruise to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Background Information My wife, 15 year old son and I just got back from a wonderful cruise upon the Norwegian Dawn.  It was my 10th cruise (7th NCL) and my wife's 7th cruise (4th NCL).  We've also been on Royal Caribbean, ... Read More
Background Information My wife, 15 year old son and I just got back from a wonderful cruise upon the Norwegian Dawn.  It was my 10th cruise (7th NCL) and my wife's 7th cruise (4th NCL).  We've also been on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Princess.  Generally, we look for the adventure cruise.  We like to climb, dive, snorkel and go horseback riding.  As for the ship, good entertainment is a must as is an enjoyable dining experience. Travel To Port of Embarkation We drove to the Port of Manhattan on Sunday morning, not expecting any traffic.  We arrived at the terminal at 11:30, in exactly the amount of time predicted by Google Maps.  Directed to park on the roof, security cleared us, asked us to unload our luggage and park.  By the time I got from the car to where my wife and son were waiting with the luggage, the luggage that had already been taken by the porters.  Very efficient.  We then went downstairs to the check-in lines.  There were plenty of people to direct us very quickly through the entire process.  We practically ran the whole way from the parking lot to the ship.  I've never gone through this process as fluidly.  Amazing.  The only downside was that parking was $210 for the week.  However, considering that we did not have to fly, it was a bargain. As an added bonus, our luggage was in our stateroom in about an hour and a half. Thank you to all of the folks that worked so hard to make this experience great! Stateroom We had a room with a window.  It wasn't the biggest room, but it wasn't the smallest I've been in.  There were 6 drawers and a number of well laid-out shelves.  The room was excellently maintained.  It was clean and definitely didn't look warn.  The only issue was that the draw slides squeaked...loudly.  I can't complain at all about this.  However, my wife and son can since they were the ones that were woken up at 6 AM when I went into the drawer the first day for my gym clothes.  After that, I made sure to set the clothes out the night before. Ship Info This was a fantastic ship.  It was so obvious that the maintenance crew worked above and beyond to keep the ship crisp and stunning.  We were on the very similar Norwegian Spirit a couple of years back and found the two ships to be very similar.  The Spirit was decorated in a classier manner, but the layouts on both were similar and mostly easy.  The Dawn's ornamentation had a very fun feel to it, punctuated with Andy Warhol prints and Caribbean blues.  It was however severely missing well placed floor maps near the elevators and stairwells.  Instead the ship used a list of locations with arrows.  Another thing that seemed to be missing from the Dawn was a symbol system that easily identified which side of the ship you were on.  Some ships have patterns in the carpeting or wall coverings that point to the front of the ship.  Between the symbols and good signage, you never have a problem turning the wrong way.  The Dawn lacked both but was still fairly easy to figure out. Dining The food really was good...very good.  As (almost) always, NCL did a great job on the presentation and the flavor of the food.  I did have one piece of steak that was overcooked.  But I was tired and did not feel the need to send it back. The breakfast menu was a standard cruise breakfast menu.  We tried to start out our day in the dining room so we could do at least one thing as a family. We were not particularly impressed with the lunch menu.  In fact, there really wasn't anything on it that was any good.  The first day, I was severely disappointed by the cheese-steak.   I am sure the chef has never been to South Philly.  And, if he ever goes there, he should hang his head in shame.  The rest of the menu wasn't much better.  I was shocked at how bad the cheesecake was until someone pointed out that it was the no-sugar-added cheesecake.  It wasn't bad for a no-sugar-added cheesecake...but still nowhere near worth it. As for dinner, I had Surf and Turf almost every night.  Not because I wanted to, but because it was about the only thing on the menu that I would eat.  NCL was experimenting with a new concept: one menu in each of the two main dining rooms that doesn't change all week.  Yes, the Venetian and Aqua had different menus, but not all that different.  Once you take out the pork, fish and lamb dishes (I eat none of them), there were only 4 entrees to choose from on each menu...and one of those was macaroni and cheese.  They did have a chef's special that changed, but it was one item, the same for both dining rooms and almost always fish.  I don't generally eat fish.  I found two things on each menu that kind of excited me for a total of four dishes.  But, what was I supposed to do on day 5?  Get bored.  Yes, bored with ship food.  That has NEVER happened to me in the past.  I know, there was an easy solution.  But we don't like going to the specialty restaurants.  We like going to the main dining rooms.  We usually get to know the waiters pretty quickly and like the formal atmosphere.  We also delight in opening the menu each night and knowing that it will be unique and different.  I can get better Tex-Mex or sushi here at home for less money.  For example, their French Restaurant (Le Bistro) is an extra 15 a person...unless you want steak or lobster.  If so, add another 15 a person.  Yes, 30 bucks.  I've done the specialty restaurants before and thought that the experience wasn't the traditional cruise experience that I liked (but without time constraints thanks to the Freestyle concept). I know I am not the only person who is hoping (praying, wishing, begging) for this experiment to fail.  Most of the people with whom I spoke (and I spoke with a LOT of people) agreed with me. Activities Wow, have these come a long way.  My wife and I usually do the wine tasting and on Celebrity ships, we always go to the lectures.  But, now the lectures are on NCL...but BETTER!!!  The Second City comedy group was running the lectures.  They were fantastic.  Too bad that was their last week on the ship.  I hope they are bringing on a replacement group.  As for the alcohol classes, they had martini tasting, beer tasting and so many more.  In addition, the ship's magician also ran an "improve your memory" seminar (which I forgot to go to).  The sports activities were also great.  They were plentiful and varied.  They even had adult dodge ball.  Don't ask how this went down.  It wasn't pretty.  And, they held a pub crawl where they encouraged people to get absolutely blitzed, but provided chaperones so they were funny to watch, but left the other passengers alone.  Maybe I should have included "watching the pub crawl" under entertainment?  Either way, NCL really did a great job here. Children's Clubs This was one of the better programs I have seen on a ship.  I was particularly impressed with two counselors who were nick-named Popsicle and Crocodile.  Yes, they went by those names regardless of the age group with which they worked.  I asked why they didn't change names when working with the older kids.  Apparently, NCL switches their assignments with some regularity.  This is great for the counselors since it gives them a wide range of experiences.  It is so difficult to get good people for this role.  Crocodile had just graduated with a teaching degree.  I know the cruise lines don't pay well.  However, a varied experience is so much more valuable when creating that resume.  Kudos to NCL for treating their counselors well and to the counselors who did such a great job with the kids.  And, I'd like to thank the fantastic counselors who led the littlest of tykes around the ship singing.  I know it wasn't intended as entertainment for us adults, but it really was nice to see. Service Impeccable.  I guess that is not enough of a review of the service...but it is as accurate as you can get.  I don't gauge service by the proximity to a perfect experience.  I like to see mistakes.  It is how the crew fixes their errors that shows the quality of the service.  The crew of the Dawn rose to every "occasion" that was tossed our way.  Questions: easily answered.  Missing buffet silverware: immediately brought right to us.  Lack of towels: resolved (with two phone calls, but still resolved). We did have a few issues.  I had to talk to the head of housekeeping (or whatever it is called on a ship) about the towel animals.  We really appreciated them when left on the bed, but wish they would have used clean, DRY towels.  Once spoken to, we did not have another issue.  We also didn't get another towel animal. Entertainment NCL always delivers in this category.  The song and dance numbers were impressive; even more so when you consider that the ship was constantly moving.  You have to consider that then stage is limited in size and that there is not much room to store and swap sets.  But, with that in mind, the acrobats out-did themselves and the dancers always delighted the crowds with their prowess and costumes. The comedian (Dave Heenan) could not have been better.  He controlled the stage, interacted flawlessly with the audience, was personable and interactive with the guests (outside the show) and was even immensely funny.  We had been on another cruise with him in the past, were overjoyed to see he was on the Dawn and were most definitely not let down. Port & Shore Excursions We always book excursions while in port.  We like knowing that the ship will wait if an NCL sponsored trip is late.  The extra expense is well worth it if you consider it as insurance.  However, being that we were on Bermuda for several days and did not have to worry about the ship sailing into the sunset (while we watched from the shore), we primarily scheduled our own activities. I went Scuba Diving with Blue Water Divers and had a fantastic time.  The divemasters were phenomenal.  While diving, my wife and son went to Snorkel Park (in walking distance of the pier) and had a wonderful time.  It wasn't the best snorkeling, but it was just right for them. We also got bus/ferry passes and visited the Aquarium and Crystal Caves.  These were very nice and are well worth seeing.  One thing to note is that you don't need to do both caves.  The Crystal Cave is the best of the two.  Fantasy Cave is not really necessary for your trip...unless you are a geologist and want a more unique, humid cave exhibiting less common formations.  It is just not as much of a "typical" cave. My wife and son did book the Rising Son Catamaran excursion through NCL and were most happy that they did.  The excursion provided snorkel gear and even kayaks.  The boat was clean and well maintained.  The crew made their experience memorable. Disembarkation As usual, I was awake and out of the room by 6:30 AM...even though we set the clocks ahead the night before.  I spent my morning on the deck of the Dawn, watching the ship glide effortlessly past the New York City skyline.  If you've never returned to the US in this manner, you absolutely have to change your plans to do so.  Watching the buildings slowly rise and the Statue of Liberty pass on the port side is awe inspiring.  This is intensified if your ancestors came into this country via Ellis Island.  It was all there. Getting off the ship was perfect.  I really am impressed with the Manhattan facilities.  Our luggage was easy to find and the Customs line wasn't even all that bad.  Getting to our car and subsequently out of the city was also very easy.  However, about an hour after getting on the road (we had a 3 hour trip), we were already hungry...and there was no buffet in site. Summary This was one of the BEST cruises I've ever been on...or at least it would have been if the evening menu was not so boring, bland and distasteful.  As of right now, this menu is only on the Dawn.  However, they want to roll it out to the rest of the fleet.  Unfortunately, we are already booked on the Spirit out of New Orleans early next year.  If not, I would not book it until I knew that the experimental menu was not going to be used. If you've never been on a cruise before, I am sure the new menu (the most popular items, but same items every night) would be interesting and maybe even exciting.  After all, you can get surf and turf every night.  However, for those of us that cruise regularly, it will not be so desirable. Think of it this way:  I was just on a cruise and now, in 6 months I have to spend a week eating the same things?  I know what I didn't like.  I know what I'm going to be forced to eat.  If they varied the menu and I didn't like what was on the menu that night (it has happened before), then there is always tomorrow.  This time, tomorrow was today.  I've never before wanted to go to the buffet for dinner. NCL, if you are reading this, please abandon the menu experiment.  I had recently made the decision that we were going to stay with NCL for most future cruises (we still want to try Disney).  But, if the menus will be that boring in the future...well, there is always Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We were fortunate to be able to get a fabulous price on a suite on the Spirit.  We were told we'd be entitled to Priority Embarkation and Debarkation - we asked what this meant and were told we could board the ship one hour earlier ... Read More
We were fortunate to be able to get a fabulous price on a suite on the Spirit.  We were told we'd be entitled to Priority Embarkation and Debarkation - we asked what this meant and were told we could board the ship one hour earlier than usual boarding time and that there would be a separate line for priority embarkation.  When we got to the terminal, which was a mob scene, I approached 3 separate NCL staffers, none of whom knew why the terminal was not yet allowing the passengers inside.   The NCL staff did not seem to know what was going on - they seemed confused.  When we were finally alowed in, check-in was a chore as they were having computer problems but we finally got checked in and escorted to the Concierge lounge and then onto the ship, directly to our cabin.The suite was fantastic - a dining area, with capuccino machine and refrigerator; living room area with large flat-screen tv and DVD player, and a small balcony.  The bedroom was separate, with another smaller flat-screen tv, plenty of large drawers, large closet with drawers and 2 safes;  sliding doors between the bedroom/bath area and the living room/dining room area.  The bath tub was a jacuzzi, with a large picture window - you could sit in the tub and watch the ocean, if you so desired.  Separate large glass door shower and separate room for the toilet, also with glass door.  Two sinks, a separate vanity with separate lights for each area - in the shower, tub, sinks, vanity, bedroom, living room, dining area and balcony.This also included a Butler and Concierge along with the cabin steward.  The service was fantastic and with a suite you could order a full hot breakfast every day.  Other amenities included no charge breakfast and lunch at one of their premium restaurants (Cagney's), invitations to special events and priority seating in different venues.The room and the service was top-notch - if you can get a deal on a suite - go for nothing less.We saw the other cabin types when we came onto the ship as the doors to many of the cabins were open and they standard cabin is smaller than usual, something others have mentioned in other reviews, although the beds all seem to be very large - we had an oversized Queen (it might have been a King) and it looked like many of the standard cabins had the same size bed.There was a lot of very loud music - we booked the cabin to be  away from music and we were 2 floors below the Galaxy of the Stars, a lounge where many of the music venues were held and on some nights, we couldn't sleep as the music easily blared down through 2 floors - if you like peace and quiet late at night - the cabins on 10 forward are not for you.We ate at some of the premium restaurants - great steak at Cagneys and LeBistro, great Sushi at Shogun.  Food in main dining room was good too - all the food was like a laxative to us, however, so if you have a sensitive stomach, stick to a large breakfast, salad at lunch and grilled food at night.Entertainment was good - some of the music was very good but way too loud - Stardust Theater was very comfortable seating arrangement.  Pool deck crowded but there were lounges all around the top decks and plenty of places to get sun.  Also nice seating on Promenade deck out of the sun - loved walking around the decks.The public spaces on the ship were very attractive, all the service personnel were very friendly and responsive and I rate the service highly. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This cruise makes the 5th time my husband and I have cruised - and the second time using NCL.  This is my first review for Cruise Critic.Embarkation and Day 1We arrived in Boston the night before just to hedge our bets against any airline ... Read More
This cruise makes the 5th time my husband and I have cruised - and the second time using NCL.  This is my first review for Cruise Critic.Embarkation and Day 1We arrived in Boston the night before just to hedge our bets against any airline delays.  Although we knew we would not be allowed to check in or get on the ship until at least noon, we decided to get to the Terminal somewhat early.  Thank goodness we did - we were able to hand over our bags and get in line pretty quickly (around 10:15am) despite the fact we had no idea where the line really was (nothing was marked and the representatives standing around were not much help - I think we ended up in the crew's line at first...).  Once we secured our place in line, it became obvious as time went on that the line became a crowd - not terribly organized.  However, once we made it in and checked in, the rest was pretty smooth.  We were on board by noon.First impression of the ship was that it's very beautiful - the Japanese art and decor were lovely.  Once on board we were handed a glass of champagne (nice touch) and we went immediately to the "alternate dining" counter because we intended to dine at several of the cover-charge restaurants during the trip.  The young ladies behind the counter were more interested in talking among themselves than being attentive to us.  We made our selections, dropped our carry-on bags in our room and went on our way exploring the ship.  By 4pm we settled ourselves inside in the Galaxy of the Stars so we could watch the ship leave.  Sadly, several of the huge windows were completely damaged by water intrusion between the panes - you couldn't see out of them.  Given the recent time in dry-dock for the ship's refit, I'm surprised there were so many bad windows on the ship.  In Galaxy, you can take the stairs down to an observation area to watch what's going on on the Bridge.  Once we pulled away, we decided to take the spa tour and were escorted around the spa by a member of the spa staff.  This is where the hard-selling began.  My husband and I were both interested in making appointments, but we had not had a chance to look over the services menu long enough or finished the tour without being badgered over and over about booking something right then.CabinThe room was smaller than I remembered other balcony staterooms being on other ships.  The color scheme of the carpet and decor was really ugly - not in keeping with how nice the public areas were.  Our bed was a good size, but very, very hard.  The bathroom had a persistent sewer-gas smell to it so we kept the door closed at all times. The shower was a decent size and had a sliding door, which is appreciated instead of dealing with billowing shower curtains and wet floors.  The lighting in the bathroom was not good, and yellowish, so ladies will appreciate it when I say - don't try and do your makeup in there!  The balcony was standard in width, but in depth, it was very narrow.  Still - comfortable for two to sit outside.  We rarely saw our cabin steward unless we passed him in the hall, and it was impossible to reach him when attempting to dial him on the phone.  It would simply ring busy.The weather was very rough that evening and all the next day - the "Report form the Bridge" on the TV showed us in 18 foot seas - many around the ship were seasick - luckily my husband and I don't mind rough seas.  We had dinner in the Gardens dining room.  The food was quite good.  Got pitched to buy roses every time we sat down to eat in any restaurant.Day 2This was a sea day.  We decided to go with the spa treatments - I got a hot stone massage and my husband a mani-pedi.  Again - the hard sell was on.  No sooner had my masseuse started my massage before she was pitching me on other spa services.  I politely declined.  The massage continued, I was relaxing and enjoying it very much until...she pitched me again.  Have I ever had a facial?  Again, I declined.  I was very uncomfortable being put in this position - I'm used to the pitch at the end of the treatment for the various creams and such, but during?   By the time I was done she'd already rushed out to the acupucturist to set me up with a consultation I didn't ask for.  Pretty awkward.  As it turned out, my husband was pitched during his services too, so I guess that's what NCL wants them to do.Most of our lunches were in Raffles and the food was quite good.  My husband visited Raffles often for the corned beef hash and chicken! Went to the Martini Tasting ($15 per person) which was fun.We ate dinner in Shogun that evening.  The food was ok, but the service was somewhat dismissive.  I was a bit disappointed.Days 3, 4, 5 BermudaWe arrived in Bermuda about 11AM and given the weather was still a little dicey, we took our time and had a late breakfast in Windows (wonderful salmon eggs benedict!).  We were off the ship by 1:00 and explored the Dockyard area including the Maritime Museum and the Clocktower Mall.  Topped off with a mid-day snack at the Frog and Onion Pub and cocktail at the beachside Hammerhead Bar.With no pressure to be back to the ship by a certain time, we felt no need to book shore excursions in Bermuda though the ship.  There's plenty to do and see on your own and transportation is easy.The next day we bought the 2-day Ferry/Bus pass (absolute bargain) and set out on the ferry for St. George.  The public transportation is run very efficiently and the busses and ferries are neat as a pin.  We explored St. George a while then headed on the bus to the Crystal Caves then to the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo.  The Caves were very interesting - be prepared to climb a lot of stairs!  The Aquarium and Zoo were ok.That evening we ate in Windows and dressed a little better since we understood the main dining room was not casual during dinner service.  We had to be put on a waiting list (one of the few drawbacks to Freestyle dining is occasionally you have to wait for a table).  As we were waiting, we realized the dress code isn't enforced.  Many were seated in t-shirts, shorts, or swimsuit cover-ups with flip flops. I was very surprised they were not turned away to the Garden restaurant since that is supposed to be the more casual of the two.  Service in Windows was a bit chaotic.  We caught the magic show that evening.  At best it was ok.  It was the only show we saw on the trip.The next day we spent in Hamilton and walked down Front Street to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute which had a cool Titanic display.  After lunch at the Hog Penny (get the Bermuda Fish Chowder!) the weather began to turn so we headed back to the ship on the Ferry.That evening we treated ourselves to the Enchanted Evening Dinner.  It's worth every penny of the $65 per person.  Tables are set up in the Art Gallery among all the beautiful art pieces, and it's limited to a small number of couples (no more than 30, I think).  The setting is very intimate and the 5-course meal comes complete with wine for each course and a visit from the Executive Chef.  The meal was spectacular and the chosen wines for each course were all very good. The service was impeccable (thanks, Kelton!).  The next two days were sea days that we spent in the casino, hitting the bingo games, or outside by the pool.  Of note is that even though Bermuda had passed legislation recently to allow cruise ships to open their casinos after 10:30 PM while docked in port, this cruise closed the casino completely throughout the entire visit to Bermuda.  Bingo can get pretty expensive - they spend at least 30 minutes going through the numerous packages you can buy before you get to play.  One of the packages was $129!We had dinner in Le Bistro - the food was excellent, service decent.  Le Bistro is pretty small and has an "open kitchen" which tended to be pretty noisy if you're seated close to it as we were.  On our last night we ate at Cagney's - the best of the specialty restaurants in my opinion.  The setting was quiet, the service very good, and the food was terrific. DisembarkationWe chose to take our luggage off ourselves, so it was a snap.  We were able to leave along with the first group off and we were through customs by 10AM.Overall, the cruise was quite nice.  I just wish there was more to do that doesn't cost extra.  We expected to pay for the specialty restaurants, but stuff to keep you busy or entertained generally had a price tag on it too. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
NCL SpiritReview: June 12-19, 2009Boston to BermudaBackground information: My wife and I are in our twenties and enjoy cruising. Our last cruise was on RCCL Mariner of the Seas and that was fantastic. Previously we sailed on the NCL Dawn ... Read More
NCL SpiritReview: June 12-19, 2009Boston to BermudaBackground information: My wife and I are in our twenties and enjoy cruising. Our last cruise was on RCCL Mariner of the Seas and that was fantastic. Previously we sailed on the NCL Dawn and had a mixed experience. We weren't anxious to sail NCL again but chose to do so because of proximity to the port and the destination- Bermuda. I also had read good things about the Spirit. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Both were great. We are Latitudes members and enjoyed the much quicker Latitudes line. I had read previously that the Latitudes line is often longer, but this was not the case at this time. The Ship (Design and DEcor): Beautiful. One of the reasons I didn't like the Dawn is because I found it a bit loud and tacky. I found the Spirit to be more understated, classy and attractive. The ship was easy to navigate and get around. Age showed here and there (tile work, some windows, paneling) but the carpets were beautiful. It is something I have never noticed before but I found the carpeting around the ship to be very nice.The Cabin: We had an inside cabin, 5581. It was nice, pretty standard. There was some evidence of the ship's age in the cabin, but it was fine. We don't spend a lot of money on the cabin because we usually don't spend too much time in it. The cabin stewards did a nice job. Food/ Dining Room Service: Overall, we found the food to be very good. We ate in Raffles buffet, which always boasted a good selection of food. For dinner we ate the first two nights in Windows. This is the prettier of the two main dining rooms- but the service was extremely slow. We like a nice relaxed dinner but waiting 30 minutes for a Pepsi is unacceptable. After these two frustrating meals, I spoke to the matre'd of Windows. He was apologetic and sent a bottle of wine to our next meal. (We ate in Garden after that with a great waiter, Marcial.) The last night we ate in Le Bistro- it was nice. Our travel agent paid for it and we enjoyed it. However, I would have been disappointed had I paid for it. Spa- I had two massages, which were very good. Idy was the name of the therapist. I highly recommend her. The steam and sauna are free here and require no purchase to use. The aquaswim area is also free. I was unhappy with the spa manager- see my customer service paragraph later.Entertainment- The onboard music was wonderful. I enjoyed each band and singer. I also enjoyed the production shows. They weren't anything to write home about, but they were enjoyable. Don't miss "The Cat's Pajamas" if they are on your ship. They are very talented. The magician didn't thrill me. I didn't see the cruise director (Paul Scally) as much as I have seen the CD on pervious cruises. I thought he stood more on the sidelines. This doesn't make or break a cruise by any means for me, but I have had much better.NCL U- I attended all three of the martini tastings with Gede in Champagne Charlie's. Let me tell you, these were great. They were informative, delicious and a good value- not to mention, fun! There weren't enough people to do it on the final offering, but Gede made us all free martinis and those that did show had a blast.Bermuda- Bermuda was great and I think 3 days there was perfect. We did the transportation pass, which was a great value. We had no need to purchase any excursions. We used the busses and ferries to go to St. George's, Hamilton, The Swizzle Inn and Horshoe Bay Beach. It was a lot of fun.Customer Service- As I mentioned before, I brought my concern about the speed of dinner service to the attention of the person at the service desk. She was very apologetic, understanding and attentive. She had the marte'd come to speak with me and help resolve the situation. My experience on the last day was nothing like the first. On Friday morning I noticed extra charges on my account, about $300 worth. (Buckets of beer that I did not drink and a very expensive massage treatment that I did not receive.) I went to the on-board credit desk to deal with this and after about an hour, we straightened it out. You see, after my first massage I went to retrieve my card from the attendant and she had lost it. She assured me the original card would be deactivated and she brought me a new one. No harm done, or so I thought. It turns out that someone found that card (or stole it) and used it throughout the cruise. Even though it was deactivated, staff can charge the room manually. Multiple bar staff and spa staff did so. I even saw the receipts that the thief signed in my name (with my cabin number printed on it!!.) You can imagine I was quite upset by this. Once the attendant from the on-board credit desk reversed the faulty charges, he brought Bruno over from customer service. Let me tell you, he was not the least apologetic, helpful or even friendly. I advice all NCL Spirit passengers who have a customer service issue to stay clear from him. He repeated the same line over and over again about how the system deactivated and there is no way this could have happened. Ten minutes later he admitted that staff could enter information manually. I was beyond frustrated and asked to speak to his supervisor. He instead gave me the corporate address to write to. Let me also say, that mistakes happen, and I realize that this wasn't the end of the world. I just wanted to help stop this from happening to anyone else and suggest that staff not be able to manually enter charges. It really put a bitter taste in my mouth as I departed the ship. Overall- it was a good cruise. We had a nice time, and it was very affordable. The food was good, the ship was beautiful and we enjoyed our time both on the ship and in Bermuda. The staff were usually nice and friendly, but I don't think NCL has really gotten Freestyle perfected. It is a great concept, but until I can have a good meal, with good service, I will prefer traditional. I enjoyed the flexibility but not the decline in service (especially in Windows.) It really was a nice vacation, but I cannot help feel a bit violated by my card getting stolen and insulted by the lack of response from NCL.Would I recommend this cruise? YES. If I hadn't had the poor customer service experience, I would say, ABSOLUTLEY YES. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This was my second time on an NCL cruise and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip! The passengers were mostly New Englander's, and were very warm and friendly and down-to-earth. Highlights of the cruise for me were: 1. The Martini ... Read More
This was my second time on an NCL cruise and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip! The passengers were mostly New Englander's, and were very warm and friendly and down-to-earth. Highlights of the cruise for me were: 1. The Martini Tastings! Gede, the Martini Master, gave a wonderful presentation on the history of martini's and demonstrated his talents in making a variety of martini's for us to taste (5). For $15, this was well worth it! The "tastings" were more like small glasses, and after 5 of these, I could barely walk back to my cabin. I was out of commission for the next few hours after that, although we all had lots of fun laughing hysterically over nothing!  2. Le Bistro- By far, the best meal I had on the ship and well worth the extra cover charge. The escargots were to die for, the roasted rack of lamb was superb, the cream of mushroom soup was heavenly, the Cline Zinfandel a perfect complement to the meal. We didn't have room for dessert after our meal, but I ordered the Creme Brulee anyway, and was not disappointed. Our wait staff was excellent and made the experience a real treat for us. 3. Sushi!! We ate sushi twice, the first and last nights, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! The fish was fresh and the rolls were creative and interesting, and yummy!!! The sake portions were extremely small, and overpriced, so don't even bother. 4. The Amar Orchestra! These guys were fabulous! They're a group of older Polish men and a very handsome young trumpet player who they joked was 16! His trumpet playing was impeccable and really enhanced the sound of the band. The clarinet/sax player was also fabulous as was the trombone player. We made sure to catch their various performances throughout the week and were never disappointed. The Dixieland set at the Bier Garden was great, and the highlight was the Glenn Miller set in the Galaxy. They also did a great jazz set at Champagne Charlie's that we really enjoyed.  5. The cruise director, Paul Scally! This was our second time with Paul this year, and he's the best! He really knows how to work the crowd and get people excited. And he's totally adorable! Downsides of the cruise were: 1. The small cabins. We were lucky to have a balcony, but were surprised at how small the room was. Not even a couch to sit on, just two small club chairs. The balcony was small, but helped to make the room feel bigger. The bed was comfortable, and sheets were soft. The bathroom was small, but good shower and hot water. They need to add 120 volt outlets in the room; there was only one, and not enough to charge our various electronic gadgets. Also, it said not to dry your hair there, because of the wattage limit, and the bathroom hair dryer was totally unacceptable. I used the dryer in the "forbidden outlet" anyway, and fortunately, nothing bad happened! 2. Casino was closed on port days! 3. Shops were small and uninteresting. All in all, this was a great cruise experience and I would definitely recommend it. Bermuda is beautiful and although we didn't have the best weather, the beaches were great and the sand unlike anywhere I've ever been. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This was our 15th cruise and our 3rd with NCL.  We found embarkation in Boston to be just okay, long lines however as Lattitudes members we were able to step right up and were on board in a matter of minutes.  The ship is attractive and ... Read More
This was our 15th cruise and our 3rd with NCL.  We found embarkation in Boston to be just okay, long lines however as Lattitudes members we were able to step right up and were on board in a matter of minutes.  The ship is attractive and decorated nicely.  Our room (fifth floor, outside cabin) was larger than I anticipated and the bed was quite comfortable.  Our room was always clean and very well kept by our stewards.  The shower in the bathroom was the largest we have ever encountered on any cruise ship.  The bathroom (toilet) area however left a lot to be desired.  We met a gentleman in the hot tub one afternoon that said he was too large for the toilet in his room and had to go to the public areas to use the bathroom.  The bed was comfortable and we were able to keep the room at a nice temperature.We had beautiful weather and were always able to find a lounge chair by the pool or up on the sundeck.  My husband hated the fact though that there was always loud, blaring music at the pool, no place to really go and have down time unless you went to the back of the ship on the sundeck.  Bermuda had changed alot since we were last there.  The Dockyard area is nice and we spent a pleasant afternoon walking around the various shops and stopping by snorkel park.  The next day we took the ferry to Hamilton, so much more has been built on Front Street since our last visit.  I feel like it has lost a lot of its charm.The production shows on the ship were marvelous, the Cat's Pajamas are not to be missed.  I found the cruise director a bit lackluster and never ran into or saw him around the ship.  It was disappointing that so many of the activities cost money now.  We did not eat in any of the pay restaurants.  The food in the Garden room/Windows was excellent and we found something good to eat each night.  The Blue Lagoon was marvelous but didn't get to eat there till the last day.  I would say have your lunch there.  Lunch in Raffles buffet was disappointing; a lot of the night before left overs.One suggestion would be to watch your bills.  I never paid the same amount twice for the same drink no matter what bar I was in.Would I do this trip again?  Maybe....the main thing is it departs from Boston so no air travel.  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My wife and I traveled on the NCL Spirit, Boston to Bermuda, on 6/26/09. We reserved one balcony room on the 11th deck. This is our second cruise, both on NCL. Last June we cruised to Bermuda on the NCL Dream. Overall, the Spirit cruise ... Read More
My wife and I traveled on the NCL Spirit, Boston to Bermuda, on 6/26/09. We reserved one balcony room on the 11th deck. This is our second cruise, both on NCL. Last June we cruised to Bermuda on the NCL Dream. Overall, the Spirit cruise was enjoyable and recommended. We are 50 years old.One disclosure before I continue. I organized the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet for this trip, but otherwise my wife and I are just regular tourists. However, NCL knew who I was and we may have received some preferential treatment. For example, almost daily both the ship's concierge and group events coordinator called the room to check on our stay.  Also, the few times I needed service, it was attended to very quickly. I attribute both to NCL's commitment to customer service.  However, my active participation on these boards and the likelihood of me writing a CC review may have been a factor.   Day 1 Embarkation: Arrived just before 11am at Black Falcon Pier. Folks were lined up as check-in had not opened yet. The plan was to drop bags and wife at the pier and then park. As soon as we pulled up, a porter arrived promptly and took our bags. Don't forget to tip the porters - they are not NCL, these guys are union longshoreman handling your luggage, they do a good job, and you'll want to treat them properly. The DW went to stand in line and I parked the car in the pier garage, $105 for the week. As I walked back to the ship, I took some photos of the Spirit. By the time I arrived the line had started to move - check-in opened at 11:15. Lines moved well. We cleared security, checked in with NCL, and we were on the ship in under an hour. Good experience. Day 1 - Afternoon/Evening: Passengers arrive in the impressive atrium lobby, bubbly flowing and a band playing. The ship's staff is out in force to greet the passengers - you'll even see some members of the Stardust Theatre's production company dressed all spiffy and greeting folks.  In the atrium, we signed up for a spa massage - the spa would turn out to be somewhat negative experience in an otherwise enjoyable trip - and also reserved dinner at two specialty restaurants, LeBistro and the Asian one, which has three names depending on whether you are having Sushi, attending the teppanyaki show, or just ordering off the Asian menu, but is all the same place. We walked the ship, there was a brief downpour, and had lunch - staterooms are not available generally until 2PM. The Spirit is a nice ship and has a strong Asian theme in the decoration.  It's very nice, much larger and better laid out than the NCL Dream (and it did not smell).  We had a very pleasant lunch in a quiet, nearly vacant Windows MDR, still tied to the pier.  The food was as I remembered: well prepared, tasty, and precision portions exact for one person. Service was attentive and prompt. We tried our room around 1:30 and it was available - clean, well appointed, the Captain's Choice wine/fruit basket I ordered laid out.  I thought the room smaller than the NCL Dream balcony room last year (not as deep). However, the room is comfortable for two people and we don't spend much time in the room anyways. The balcony is just the right size for two. Precision portions. There is no refrigerator, but we had one last year on the Dream and did not use it much.  As for room decoration, which gets comments in many reviews, it's either garish or bright and festive, depending on your outlook. I did not mind at all, although I noticed by the end of the cruise the wildly patterned curtains were replaced with a set of plain beige ones. In the room is a hair dryer, shampoo and soap (on wall dispensers), extra pillows, two beach towels, and your regular towels and linens. There's no iron but NCL provides discounted pressing services the first day. Our room steward was Edwin. He and the second steward were excellent throughout the cruise.  Edwin always greeted me by name, and was attentive and thorough. Lots of towel animals. Ice in the room every day. They work very hard. There were two issues with the room. First, the room safe did not work on arrival. I told Edwin and he had a repairman in the room within minutes to fix it. Second, one of the bed side lamps had a broken switch and would not always turn on. We did not report it, but Edwin noticed it during the cruise and had it repaired. He was good. Tip your room stewards often and well. Muster is at 3:30. You must attend, but don't arrive early as you will stand around. It's crowded, but ends quickly. Make sure your name is marked as present. The boat departed at 4 PM and we were escorted out of the harbor by two small Coast Guard boats (complete with 50 mm guns) and a Boston Police boat. It was a beautiful, sunny departure. Weather was pretty good the entire trip, sometimes spectacular. BTW, stateroooms on Deck 11 will get noise from the Sun Deck above. We were under the Tivoli Pool area, port side.  Noise was noticeable in the afternoon while napping (kids running) and early in the morning, it sounds like furniture being dragged around, starting at 6:30. Overnight, there was no noise. This was a negligible issue. The first evening the production companies provide an opening introductory "Welcome Aboard" show that featured bits from all the acts.  The main theatre, Stardust, is large, well designed, with good site lines.  Paul Scally is the CD and we found him to be very fun during the trip.  However his opening monologue needs to be punched up, came over kind of flat, and he was actually heckled by some drunken boor in the back ("Get off!").  That was unfortunate and undeserved.  Paul was great throughout the trip. Day 2 - First Day at Sea: We ordered room service in the morning, as we did almost every day so that we would have coffee and tea in the room - this is free. Room service is prompt. The CC M&G was held mid-morning in Henry's Pub and several CC folks came out. We were greeted by the group events coordinator. A ships officer, the head of housekeeping, attended as did the CD. NCL laid out some breakfast foods. It was low key and a nice way to meet people from CC. Well done NCL. We had scheduled a spa massage afterwards, which was professionally done. However, at the end while drowsy, relaxed, pleasantly woozy, they start with the hard sell. This is not the way to end a massage, trying to sell $60 bottles of body cream and your next appointment. Also, the bill didn't seem to line up with what we ordered and was more expensive than originally pitched. Anyways we got out as quickly as we could and I was disappointed. I know the spa is run by a vendor, but NCL should pay attention to what is going on there. I cannot recommend the spa. Stay away unless you must. We grabbed a quick bite in Raffles and then attended the excellent wine & food tasting event mid-day ($15pp). The tasting is greatly improved over last year as they now serve small bits of food to taste with the wines. So in addition to the five wines (Riesling, sauv blanc, chard, pinot noir, cab), each person receives a plate containing wedges of apple and lemon, slices of steak and salmon, salt, and soft cheese with a spicy hot peppercorn coating. This is to demonstrate how sweetness, sourness, saltiness, etc in your food interacts with the wine.  So you sip the Chardonnay to taste it, then eat a piece of salmon and taste the chard a second time, you understand what food does to the wine and why some wines work and some do not. This is all done under the direction of the ship's wine steward and it was a bit of a revelation. If you ever wondered why one wine goes so well with a particular food and another doesn't, this event is for you. I'd estimate the retail value of the wines in the $12 to $18 range and they are decent everyday wines. Highly recommended. A comment on Raffles buffet:  it's a necessary evil.  It's a way to get a quick meal.  It's great for families because the kids can get whatever they want. Raffles is never my first choice, but I ate there more times than I'd like to admit because of the convenience. The food is ok. Later Day 2 on a whim, we also attended the Martini Testing in Champagne Charlie's ($15pp).  This was well attended - large crowd. Five cocktails were served over 45 minutes or so. The first was a delicious dirty Grey Goose martini.  The remaining four were also cocktails (lemondrop, pomegranate?, appletini, chocolate) and, depending on your definition of what a martini is or is not, were delicious but not my idea of a martini.  It was a bit slow getting the drinks out to the crowd as there must have been 75 people attending.  However by the time the third drink was served, everyone was buzzed, the place became a party, and no one cared when or whether the next one was going to arrived. The bartender had an ongoing narration that was somewhat hampered by a faulty PA, but was interesting and entertaining nonetheless.  At the end, he performed some neat bartender tricks.  Recommended. Dinner was Sushi and Asian food at the Asian restaurant ($15pp).  Service was top notch, the best on the ship.  The sushi was good and fresh but not very adventurous. I did return a few days later and had it again. Recommended. The show in the Stardust Theatre was the production company's "On Broadway". It was very good. The company comes out and sings Broadway hits pretty much nonstop for 45 minutes, with several costume changes. The performers are talented and enthusiastic and exceeded my expectations for a cruise ship company.  It was very enjoyable and afterwards the company stayed for a meet and greet with the audience. Day 3:  We arrive at Bermuda on time, tying up to a new wharf built this past year. It's Heritage Wharf, adjacent to King's Wharf. You won't even see this wharf on local maps yet, but it's there!  We deboarded after lunch and explored the Dockyard. The Dockyard is an old naval base whose buildings have been repurposed for the cruise ship business, so there are gift shops, bakery, pharmacy, restaurants, and pubs retrofitted into the old stone buildings. It's pleasant but it is not a town and not much is really happening. You can walk around and see everything in about two hours. My suggestion is move to the more interesting places on the island. The problem is that the Spirit arrives in Bermuda on Sunday and not all transportation options are available. However, you can grab a bus to one of the big south shore beaches with no problems, just check the schedules to make sure you have a ride back.  After we walked the Dockyard, I found an idle taxi across from the pharmacy. The driver Carlton agreed to a 3 hr tour of the island for $80 total.  This is much less than the NCL taxi excursion rate of $60pp. There are several older retired gentlemen operating cabs around the Dockyard and are happy to oblige. This was a highlight of the trip and great fun.  We drove down almost to Hamilton, using back roads and main roads, and then back up South Road along the beaches.  We drove by the Michael Douglas compound in Warwick.  We stopped several times to walk around: the Somerset drawbridge ("World's Smallest"), the Scaur Hill Fort, Gibb's Lighthouse, and a scenic overlook along South Road.  It was a beautiful, warm, breezy Bermuda day - great outing. Carlton was an interesting older gentleman with a distinctive outlook on life and he peppered his narration with all sorts of sociological commentary. Highly Recommend. Dinner on the ship at LeBistro ($15pp). The food was well prepared, tasty. Service was fine.  I was not blown away by anything there, but if you want a nice French meal in a small, romantically lit restaurant, then you will like LeBistro. At night, the Second City was performing in the Stardust Theatre.  This was a reasonably funny show, with some clunkers about cruise ship life but most of the show was performing classic Second City acts.  It would have been better if they had prefaced the skits by telling us who had written them ("This was a famous Belushi skit" for example)  There's some talent there, but the comedy is not always the best - the  team is much better doing improv than the skits.  Mild Recommendation. Day 4: We decide to spend Monday in St. George. We grabbed the 9:15 SeaExpress ferry from the Dockyard and it is a very nice trip across the island.  Arriving in the harbor at St George, through the town cut, is always fun. We headed right up to Tobacco Bay for snorkeling and sunning. This beach is small, very popular and will get busy, so go early. It has full services (food, facilities) and is my favorite spot when the crowds are small. Highly recommended. After lunch we walked to Fort St Catherine for a tour. The fort was closed last year for renovations so this year it is spiffy. It's a very old, historic British fort in very good shape, almost no tourists there.  Recommended. We returned to St George and briefly walked around the town. This is a gorgeous town and you should explore fully.  In the late afternoon, we grabbed the #10 bus to Hamilton, stopping at the Swizzle Inn for a snack and a Rum Swizzle. Highly Recommended.  In the early evening we reboarded the bus to Hamilton. In Hamilton, we walked down to the pier and found a ferry back to the Dockyard. One note on the ferry system. SeaExpress now has a ferry shuttle from Hamilton direct to the new Heritage Wharf, in addition to the ferry that runs to the Dockyard. The shuttle picks up and drops off practically at the gangway to the NCL Spirit, so look for it on the right as you exit the customs building and you'll save yourself a 10 minute walk. That night we watched the magic show, starring magician Richard Burr and his wife Josette.  It was small budget, cruise ship magic performed by a skilled and likable practitioner of the craft.  Much of the magic would work better with a small audience sitting close up and not in such a large theatre with a packed crowd.  Mild recommendation. Day 5:  We had scheduled a 3 hour snorkeling excursion with Jessie James tours for Tuesday 9:15 AM ($65pp).  It is booked with a credit card, but you have to show up with cash or traveler's cheques to pay. So, of course just before 9 AM, the room safe refuses to open and I can't get my cash.  I called the front desk and requested assistance, telling them I had an excursion in 25 minutes. I feared the worse, that we'd miss the boat, and we are in a mild panic, but in less than 10 minutes security arrived, opened the safe, and we were on our way. Thank you NCL. The Jessie James excursion was a lot of fun. Captain Jimmy O'Connor is the personable owner of the long time and successful little excursion company named after his parents (Jessie and James) and he was leading our group this day. He runs the snorkeling excursion in a small pontoon boat.  It's lightweight and very fast, and fits 15 plus crew comfortably. The advantage of this boat is the speed getting from place to place, the small # of people, and the closeness to the water - you literally slip over the side of the pontoon into the water from where you sit.  The downside is that it is small and Capt. Jimmy will not take it out to the reefs (5 miles out) in windy weather due to safety concerns - so this day we snorkeled along the main islands. It was great but I hope to get out to the reefs the next time to see the two 19th century shipwrecks there.  Highly Recommended. Day 6:  We leave port at 6 AM, unfortunate as last year the boat stayed almost until noon. However, the weather was good and we spent the day in Deck 13 loungers overlooking the pool. Chair hogs ran rampant on Deck 12, particularly the family that grabbed six primo poolside loungers early, but didn't bother to show for hours, until after noon - I'm guessing that was at least a four hour primetime hog, maybe longer. Person after person, hour after hour, came out to find a chair - people that actually wanted to sit in the sun by the pool - and were banished to some far corner because of hogs.  This is a problem without a solution I'm afraid and Spirit had hogs galore that day.  Dinner that night in La Trattoria ($10), which is actually part of the Raffles area segregated with curtains.  The antipasto trolley was a highlight.  The food and service was good, although I thought the wife's chicken parm a bit bland. That night in the Stardust Theatre, the production company put on their show, "On the Radio".  Like the earlier show it was well executed and enjoyable, putting on 45 minutes of radio hits. Day 7: Gorgeous weather day.  We found loungers early and sat outside all morning and into the early afternoon.  Hogs were not such a problem this day.  In the afternoon we attended the close up magic show, where the magician Richard Burr does card and coin tricks. You really need to be sitting at the table when he does it and we were in a balcony.  It was enjoyable and we were happy to be out of the sun for a bit.  That night was the closing Farewell Variety Show.  Thien Fu is an engaging juggler/comedian who basically sells the audience Henny Youngman's act and does it well, despite his sometimes thick accent. This was followed by the crew talent show, which was very appealing and won the crowd over.  Lots of talent and charisma on staff.  Day 8:  Departure day.  Walked off the Spirit by 9am, home by 10am. Overall, it was a pleasant cruise and we had no serious issues outside the spa experience.  I wish the stay in Bermuda was longer, and maybe next time I might just fly direct and stay the week.  NCL runs a good ship, they book you at a reasonable rate but then offer a lot of pay-as-you-go services.  Be careful how you spend your money once on board.  As a CC M&G coordinator I may have received service that the regular guest did not.  It seemed like I was getting A-1 service the entire time, but it may just be my cynical soul. On the other hand, you may want to organize your cruise's M&G, just in case.  A good trip on a good cruise line.  Highly recommended, for New Englanders especially! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My wife and I are 50+ and our son is 21 with down syndrome generally speaking we were pleased with our first cruise on NCl.I will start with the positives and get to the negatives later.Embarkation:     This went very smoothly. We were ... Read More
My wife and I are 50+ and our son is 21 with down syndrome generally speaking we were pleased with our first cruise on NCl.I will start with the positives and get to the negatives later.Embarkation:     This went very smoothly. We were with a group and arrived by bus at 1:45. We were completely through the process and in our cabin by 2:15 with champagne and OJ in hand.The staff involved in embarkation were very friendly and helpful.cabin:   We had a minisuite on deck 11 aft. The cabin wasn't the largest we've stayed in but was large enough for the three of us. We had a queen size bed for the two of us and my son had the pull out couch which was fine for him. The bathroom was average in size but had a tub-shower and toilet that were separated by sliding doors. My son brought his portable DVD player with DVDs but only used it twice.The TV had two movie channels which my son used often.Our cabin steward was Marlon. He was very friendly and did his best to meet our needs. We always had ice without asking. He cleared out the minifridge so we could fill it with our soda.The balcony was small but I really enjoyed sitting out on the balcony with coffee and a novel.Entertainment:    We didn't catch all the shows but found the shows we did see to be excellent.The dancers,singers,comics,magician all did a fantastic job. Don't miss Fountains, this was our favorite all week. We did participate in the bingo sessions and actually won two bingos.Other reviewers complain of the high cost. The lowest price package was $34 and the highest varied between $89 and $124.What kept us coming back to the sessions was Sinon(Bingo Boy). He was very entertaining.  The casino was a lot of fun the blackjack tables had $5 and $10 minimums as well as larger amounts.My wife loved the slots and did quite well.The dealers and staff were very friendly.   We went to the Spinnaker lounge at night. The music was great. My son loves to dance and he doesn't care if it's with someone else or by himself.He was often stopped by fellow cruisers saying Oh you're the dancer.   Shona was the CD.She was very friendly.She was able to get people involed with out being pushy.Dining:    We ate most dinners in the Venetian.We found the food to be good to very good.We ate at the Garden Cafe and found the food selection and quality to be good for a buffet. Because we had a balcony cabin we were able to eat breakfast in the Aqua restaurant.We found this to be exceptional.We also ate several times at the Blue Lagoon. This was a comfort food venue so the food was typical for fast food places. We didn't eat at the extra chge restaurants but my sister-in-law ,who was with our group,did and she really liked Cagney's.    There were some negatives that took place on the cruise. The biggest one happened our first day in Bermuda. My wife fell and broke her wrist. We walked right back to the ship to the infirmary. The staff did a great job but because of the break we had to go to the ER in Bermuda. We spent our first day there. the staff at the ER were great.The Doctor wanted to operate but said we could wait until we got home.They put her in a soft cast. My wife will be operated on tomorrow. This was one of the reasons we didn't eat in any of the pay restaurants.The second day we stayed on board and relaxed by the pool.The third day in Bermuda we walked around King"s Wharf and visited the shops. Although we missed the beaches this was our 9th trip to Bermuda so we had been there before.   The only other major negative was having to wait in line to dine. The most convenient time for us to dine was at 6:30.There was always a line.There has to be a better way.Maybe using a beeper .They wouldn't let you make reservations until after 8 PM.They did try to push the pay restaurants so that it felt that if you wanted better food you should eat there.   All in all, the ship was beautiful and spotless and the crew and staff great but we prefer regular dining over the freestyle.         Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We picked this cruise based on 2 main factors, it was close enough to drive to the port, for us a 12 hour drive and we had always wanted to go to Bermuda.  When the chance came up for this last minute cruise we grabbed it, one of our ... Read More
We picked this cruise based on 2 main factors, it was close enough to drive to the port, for us a 12 hour drive and we had always wanted to go to Bermuda.  When the chance came up for this last minute cruise we grabbed it, one of our better cruise decisions for sure.My husband and I have over 25 cruise to our credit and over 300 days onboard ship.  We have always enjoyed all our cruises and managed to see places we have only dreamed about.  This cruise to Bermuda, while our shortest cruise at 7 days, was one of our best.This was only our second NCL cruise and it certainly will not be our last.  We have decided that we love the Freestyle cruising NCL offers.  We have cruised Azamara which also offers Freestyle dining and we loved it.  However, NCL offers a very affordable version and is a great alternative.We arrived in Boston to board the Spirit around noon.  The line to check in was over an hour long, but did keep moving and was organized.  It was the longest check in for us ever, but it was great to talk to fellow cruisers and believe me it was worth the wait.Once on board we dropped our carryon bags to our stateroom.  The room was smaller than alot of other balcony rooms but well appointed and very clean.  The balcony was the very smallest balcony I  have ever had, but it was still nice to have it.  Our location at the aft elevators was great as the Dining room and Theatre were at the rear of the ship.  Great location for sure.The dining room we ate at every evening was Windows,  the food and the service was outstanding.  We are always concerned that mandatory service charges rather than tipping would decrease service.  We were wrong, the service could not have been better.  As the food was so good we never ate in any of the 6 alternative restaurants.  In fact we never talked to anyone who did and most of them felt they ,did not want to pay extra. I would agree.  The food in Raffles, the buffet restaurant was very disappointing so we only did the odd meal there if we were in a hurry,  The food in The Blue Lagoon, which is open 24 hours is outstanding, the best chicken tenders I have ever had and my husband loved their chicken wings. As for the entertainment on board, I would give it a high rating.  Lots of different things going on and there was something for everyone.  As for Bermuda itself, amazing.  We docked for 3 days at the Naval Dockyard, where it was only a ferry ride or bus ride to Hamilton or St Georges.  A 3 day bus pass is 28 dollars and it is good for the ferry as well.  We managed to go the whole length of the Island, hopping off and on the bus as we saw fit.  So much to see and do.  if you just want to relax at the beach, there are some of the world's best beaches in Bermuda.  A quiet and tranquil Island, Bermuda will not disappointed.  we definitely plan on returning. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
    We had booked this cruise along with 25 family members for a family get together. The only other cruise we have done was Celebrity Zenith to Bermuda years ago. We drove to Boston because we only live about 8 hours away.     ... Read More
    We had booked this cruise along with 25 family members for a family get together. The only other cruise we have done was Celebrity Zenith to Bermuda years ago. We drove to Boston because we only live about 8 hours away.     Having been to Boston a few times already, we didn't do any excursions prior to boarding. A lot of us booked this package deal with Comfort Inn Boston where you booked a room, parked your car and took a shuttle to the port terminal for $ 170.00. Very reasonable, in my opinion.     Embarkation: This was tricky. We opted to take a 11:00 shuttle to the pier because I knew the rooms wouldn't be ready until 2, and you couldn't board before 12. Some other family members did the 10 a.m. shuttle, too early, I thought, but maybe it paid off, as when we got there at 11:30, there were already on board, and we waited an hour and a half to check in, so we didn't get on the ship until 1 p.m. Going through the line, it was very organized and there was lots of staff to answer questions.   We had a 6 year old with us and she loved the kid's water park and there was lots of activities for her to do with the kid's club. There was also 'tweens traveling in the group and one of them was 12 and couldn't be in the older group, she had to stay with the 10-12 years olds, which was not fun for her. And they would not be flexible with the rules for her and so she didn't have much fun.     Food and service: like many have written before, the food is OK, not bad, not great. We went to both Windows and Garden for dinner only, although food was very good, it took a long time, as in 2 hours long! So if you want to see the shows, go early, or go to Raffles. We went to Raffles, always for breakfast and lunch. They had lots of choices, but the desserts were minimal. We went to Blue Lagoon almost every night for a burger because they were really good. That was the only place that was open all the time, as room service took a long time, like 2 hours!   Our cabin stewards were always really nice and helpful and overall everyone on board always greeted you with a smile and a hello. I thought our cabin was average size, lots of great storage spaces, fitted all of our luggage and dive gear no problem.     Overall the ship was nice and very clean. I always saw people cleaning everywhere. I was also glad that it was mandatory to sanitize our hands everywhere we went.  We only did one excursion and that was the glass bottom boat tour, because my daughter has never seen the ocean and I wanted her to see what kind of fish there was. It was a nice relaxing tour, which took us along the coast and down on the other side of Somerset Bridge.   I scuba dive, so I had booked some diving excursions through Blue Water Divers in Somerset Bridge because it's a lot cheaper than to book through the ship. It's only 15 minutes away by bus so it's a good way to go if you want to scuba dive. Entertainment: it was overall OK, not great. The Broadway show, was good, Second City was OK, some of it was funny but a lot of it wasn't. Richard Burr, the magician, was good but I've seen better magic shows elsewhere. The Farewell Variety Show was good too. Activities: Although there seemed to be a lot of activities scheduled, like others have mentioned, it's all extra fees. Most of the activities have something with alcohol in it e.g. martini tastings, wine and food pairings, etc. So if you like that kind of thing, you'll enjoy the cruise. The only activity I ever did was the Trivia game, and that was fun. but the rest of time, the only thing I did was lie around on the deck, in the pool, or the jacuzzies, and so did the rest of our group. Disembarkation: I don't know if this is common everywhere, but the way it was set up totally irked me. All the non-US people like us had to be there at 7 a.m. in the theatre so that Customs can come and we can do our paperwork before we get off, hoping to do the early 8 a.m. disembarkation. But, they didn't show up until 8 a.m.! so we were all pretty upset, until we all decided to go for breakfast and realized all the early people who opted to take their own luggage and get off early were still waiting until at least 9 a.m. to get off, so we took out time and had a nice breakfast. By the time we were done eating, we didn't wait long to get off the ship and we were off by 10 a.m. It is a lot easier to get your own luggage off because I've heard trying to find yours takes forever! The only thing that really infuriated me was that the first morning at sea was really rough, I mean REALLY rough, as in people were getting sick everywhere, and my daughter got sick and needed one of those bracelets. They had just run out, and my daughter never got sick in travel, so I never thought to pack anything for motion sickness, but I was mad that how can a ship run out of something that's so much needed by a lot of people? So,overall, everyone had a great time in Bermuda, but being on the ship was different. It'a nice clean ship, but I saw the same issues that has been posted here before, so I can't say I was shocked. Although it was obvious that staff tried hard to make the trip enjoyable, I can kinda tell the cruise was trying to save money here and there by charging you for everything. I did like Freestyle dining and not having to dress up, and not worrying about a schedule,that was great. I may or may not cruise again with NCL, but I would want to try other cruises like Disney, as others in the group said Disney is much better. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I suppose it's always best to start at the beginning with embarkation.  We sailed on the Norwegian Spirit out of Boston during the week of May 22d to May 29th.  The process of getting on the ship was not unexpectedly chaotic and ... Read More
I suppose it's always best to start at the beginning with embarkation.  We sailed on the Norwegian Spirit out of Boston during the week of May 22d to May 29th.  The process of getting on the ship was not unexpectedly chaotic and unorganized in large part due to a large wedding which took place on the ship the first day. The wedding party had priority for getting onboard and numerous visitor passes were issued.  There were 2 lines of passengers waiting to board, one of which was for crew and Latitudes members and the other of which was for first timers.  This was not really clearly explained and we ended up in the wrong line (we are Latitudes guests) which probably delayed our boarding by about 15 minutes or so.  Nonetheless we were on board before noon and were settled in our stateroom by around 2:00 pm.The balcony stateroom which we were assigned was perfectly situated mid ship, was comfortable and offered us a full view of the Dockyard when we arrived at Heritage Pier.  We were directly across from the small tunnel opening to Snorkel Beach and were able to watch passengers scurry back and forth between the ship and the Dockyard.  We were somewhat surprised that the room did not come with a refrigerator, but we probably could have requested one had we chose to do so.  Our stateroom attendants, Lucy and Uzel, were courteous, friendly, capable and unobtrusive as were the far majority of the crew with whom we interacted during the 7 days and nights.  During the week we had dinner at the following venues:  Windows Restaurant (3 times), the Bistro, Cagney's, Garden Restaurant and the evening buffet once each.  The food and service at the specialty restaurants was worth the additional charge in our opinion and this view was shared by many of our fellow passengers.  The offerings in terms of the various courses at these 2 restaurants were certainly a significant upgrade over what was offered in the main dining areas.  We would certainly recommend eating at either restaurant.  The food and service at Windows and the Garden Restaurant was fine with only one minor flaw and that was an entree which was cold.  We obviously returned it and the situation was rectified quickly and satisfactorily.  The evening buffet was expectedly uneventful with Indian, Asian, pasta dishes and a roast beef carving station.  I tried some of the Indian dishes which were just OK, the roast beef was far too rare for my taste and another passenger remarked that they really enjoyed the meat sauce which accompanied their pasta.Breakfasts were always at the buffet and were omelets and eggs to order for me, scrambled for my wife and of the 3 meats, the ham, followed by the sausage were our favorites.  The bacon was generally overcooked and not very good in our opinion.  We generally had lunch at the Bier Garten and Blue Lagoon and the latter had some interesting offerings like fish and chips and chicken wings, neither of which was all that remarkable, but we found the food there to be better than what was offered near the pool and on Deck 13.  As far as entertainment, we attended the Broadway Revue which consisted primarily of music from Hair Spray and Wicked, the Four Seasons tribute group and the magician.  They were all OK and filled about 35 to 40 minutes of time in the evenings.  Fellow passengers seemed to enjoy the Second City Comedy shows which we did not attend.  The ship was generally pretty lively in the evening both around the pool and in the Galaxy night club.  The pool deck bands were average at best.We had phenomenal weather except for our last sea day, glassy seas coming and going and thoroughly enjoyed spending all 3 days at the Royal Naval Dockyard and Snorkel Beach.  This was our 4th trip from Boston to Bermuda over the last 5 years so we did not really have a need nor desire to revisit lovely St. George and bustling Hamilton on this trip.  At the end of the week, we both agreed that this recent voyage was the best so far and we are already looking forward to our next slow boat from Boston to Bermuda.  Be more than happy to try to answer any questions others may have reference getting around the island, must see spots or just about anything else.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
This is my wife and I's first time on NCL but we have cruised on three other lines. Cruse left out of NY which is a 2 1/2 hour drive for us from home. Being able to drive to the embarkation point was a major reason for taking the ... Read More
This is my wife and I's first time on NCL but we have cruised on three other lines. Cruse left out of NY which is a 2 1/2 hour drive for us from home. Being able to drive to the embarkation point was a major reason for taking the NCL Dawn and the fact that we had not been to Bermuda before. Being in driving distance is nice but be aware that parking is a real problem. Parking at the port was $210.00 for the week but the alternatives were not particularly attractive either. The train from where we live (north east Maryland) is just as expensive and the bus was not appealing to me. Both of the latter would have additionally required cabbing from Penn station. First impressions of the ship were positive. We liked the funky exterior paint job, including the promenade deck. After spending some time exploring, we both felt the interiors lacked a common theme. When leaving one area of the ship and entering another, there did not seem to be a unifying thread in decor, color, etc. to tie them together. We had a balcony room and the balconies are smaller than other lines we have used. The room itself was probably the smallest we have had and the storage areas are pretty minimal - basically one set of smallish drawers and a second set inside the closet. The best part of the stateroom is the bathroom, head and shoulders above any others we have used, pun intended. The separate shower and toilet with sliding doors works great when two people are trying to get ready at the same time. Additionally, the shower was nice and big and I wasn't constantly brushing up against a clammy wet curtain. We thought about trying some of the additional pay eateries on the ship, but ultimately stuck with the included restaurants. Actually, I won a raffle ticket in the casino for a free dinner in Bamboo, the asian spot. We checked the menu but didn't find anything compelling so we didn't use the coupon. It seemed like there were promotions all week for Bamboo and it was never close to full when we walked by. Maybe this is an option that just does not have a wide enough appeal to justify the space. Food in the dining rooms was fine, had a couple of good steaks. Also, I liked being able to have breakfast in Aqua and both that I did were wonderful. Lot of people said they like the wings at Blue Lagoon - I thought they were fair at best. Bermuda is great. Snorkeled, walked around, checked out the historical sights. No excursions, we tend to go our own way most of the time. Best bargain in town is the unlimited bus/ferry pass. $20.00 for two days and no worries about cost to get from place to place. Impressions: Shopping area on the ship too condensed - we like separate shops to wander through. Picture gallery was blocking the corridor and should have a better place for people to stand and look. 2nd City show was inappropriate for this cruise - I don't know who vetted this one. Magician was crappy - fake feet still showing from bottom of 'saw him in half box' after he jumps down at end. He also brought out his kid to look cute and take up the last 10 minutes instead of actually doing additional tricks. Casino was the tightest I have experienced, land or sea, bar none. We enjoyed the duo that sang in Dazzles a couple of nights. All and all - we had a great time and NCL was fine. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Cruised to Bermuda on 10-26-08. We booked a balcony room as we found a great deal online for $549 per person. The extra space provided by the balcony makes for a more enjoyable stay. The rooms are small but kept pretty clean. Although, ... Read More
Cruised to Bermuda on 10-26-08. We booked a balcony room as we found a great deal online for $549 per person. The extra space provided by the balcony makes for a more enjoyable stay. The rooms are small but kept pretty clean. Although, on the last night the clean white duvet cover slipped off part of the comforter and to my horrified surprise there was a huge yellow stain just underneath were I had been sleeping the entire week. Washed or not (?!?!?) that comforter should have been trashed, not put on a bed again. Bathrobes are provided and are a nice touch, but only fit well if you are a small female and looked funny on my husband. The room stewards were friendly and courteous. Offered water, ice and provided itineraries nightly. If you purchased anything out of the mini-bar you had to ask for things to be replaced which is inconvenient. Very surprised by the fresh cookies one night but disappointed in not receiving towel animals the entire stay. Room service is wonderful and can be taken advantage of any time of day/night. Just don't ask for anything other than on the room service menu as the response is rude and NO. The breakfast card was convenient and it was always nice to have mediocre coffee to wake up to before venturing out of your room for the day. (If you want GOOD STRONG coffee visit the Java Cafe.) If you order the hamburger/hotdog don't forget to ask for condiments or you will be eating it dry. The chicken soup was always delicious, as was the BLT. The restaurants were OK. The service and standards lacking compared to other cruiselines. If you want GOOD service eat at one of the many "cover charge" restaurants. The Filet Mignon at Cagney's was wonderful and cooked to perfection. We had a fun time eating at Salsa with the live entertainment. We ordered the II Popo which was amazing. We didn't attend many shows as much time was spent in the Casino. Other reviews remarked on the 'Tight' slots, but we just couldn't stop winning!!! Without spending much money we won 2 Jackpots of $1600 on a dollar 3 real machine and $1800 on the penny 50 lions machine. I was able to buy myself a beautiful ring onboard with the winnings! We also won many other small cashouts of 500, 300, 200, etc just to keep us going. The casino service was wonderful and staff friendly. They started to Comp many of our drinks and would bring us over our usual ordered drinks without even asking when entering the casino. On the last night they gave us a card to drink for free in the casino. We didn't use the pools or the hot tubs but they looked clean and refreshing. The kids pool had a cute waterslide the children enjoyed. It was always easy to find a lounger to relax in the sun, and staff was always available for drink service. Against the cruisline's recommendations we rented a scooter to get around the island. You are able to park it right outside the ship. We were able to see and do so much in this way. Be prepared for winding roads and crazy drivers out there. Having experience with motorbikes is a plus. We were able to see the whole island, visit many of the beautiful beaches, Horseshoe Bay not one to be missed. The Botanical gardens were fun but somewhat out of season. If you are not afraid of heights and want to see wonderful views, visit the Gibbshill lighthouse and charming giftshop. The dockyard has many nice shops including the clocktower mall. The Museum and dolphin quest were fun. It was a little to cold for jet ski tours but something I would like to do in the future. Overall My Bermuda cruise experience was fun and enjoyable as well as relaxing. The staff, service, and free dining lacking compared to Royal Caribbean and carnival but wouldn't hesitate to book again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
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