1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Norwegian Cruise Line
  4. Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise Reviews

1,193 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

This was my first time on the Dawn. And I'm ready to book for next year. My Husband and I are in our mid 50's. Last year we sailed on the Crown to Bermuda to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We has such a great time we ... Read More
This was my first time on the Dawn. And I'm ready to book for next year. My Husband and I are in our mid 50's. Last year we sailed on the Crown to Bermuda to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We has such a great time we decided to go again. We checked in at the Latitude counter. Within 15 minutes we were on the Dawn drinking champagne. We went up to the Garden Cafe for lunch. Very impressive for a buffet. We left NY about 15 minutes after scheduled time. Luggage was outside our room before 6pm. Dinner was in the Aqua restaurant. We had as very relaxing dinner. Food was very good. Went to the night club later in the evening and was happy to find out that our Cruise Director Pedro Sierra from our last cruise was on this ship. The entertainment was great. Even Dave Hennan, who we saw last year. I thought he was even funnier this time. Ballywood was unbelievable. The things these artists did were unbelievable. Two night we watched a great magic act also. Breakfast either at the buffet or the Venetian was extremely satisfying, as was lunch. We went to the Latitudes cocktail party which served free drinks and snacks, and won dinner for two at Bamboo, the chinese restaurant. The food was the best we had. At the first art auction they had a raffle at the end and I won a picture. It is valued over $600.00. ( I checked the internet when I came home to confirm the price)I only had to pay the $35.00 for shipping. I also treated myself to the spa. I had a massage and a facial. I have had a few over the years but it couldn't compare with the one I had on the Ship I must admit, coming home was the worst. The Captain announced we were going to hit rough water. That was an understatement. I called home and my Mom told me there was a Hurricane where we were heading. We hit over 50 mile an hour winds. The ship was a rocking. The barf bags were put out for all who needed. My husband and I had the patch and did not feel sick at all. All the outside decks were roped off so you could not go out side. Disembarkation was a snap. We chose our time. We were a half hour late getting into NY because of the rough water. So we got off a half hour late. Found our luggage right away , got through Customs fast and were off back to Connecticut. Did the storm scare me? YEAH. Would I go in October again. Can't wait. I'm booking tomorrow on the Dawn Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
A friend and I sailed on the October 5th-12th cruise on the NCL Dawn; without a doubt this cruise rates up there as one of the best cruises I have ever taken. I've cruised 9 times, if I remember correctly, overall; 6 with NCL, 2 with ... Read More
A friend and I sailed on the October 5th-12th cruise on the NCL Dawn; without a doubt this cruise rates up there as one of the best cruises I have ever taken. I've cruised 9 times, if I remember correctly, overall; 6 with NCL, 2 with Holland America and 1 with Carnival. This was my friend's first cruise. I would say that I have converted her into a "cruiser" after experiencing this cruise. A friend drove us to the pier on Sunday. At one point I was worried that we would arrive too early, but then we hit the traffic. Because of the Avon Walk and the MS Bike marathon, it took us forever to get the last couple of blocks. We finally arrived at the pier about 10:45. We handed our luggage over to the porters and proceeded to check-in. Check-in was a breeze, took maybe 5 minutes. We then went to the VIP waiting room. Very soon Anshuman, the Concierge, greeted us all and explained some of the penthouse perks. Since I've sailed a penthouse before I was prepared and gave Anshuman our list of restaurant reservations for the week. We were then led onto the ship. The cabins were not yet ready, so we grabbed our champagne and proceeded to walk around the ship some and then went up to Cagney's to get some free food samples. I'm not much of a buffet fan, so we proceeded to Venetian for lunch. To be honest, I don't remember what I had, except for the chilled Banana soup, but I do remember that we totally enjoyed a leisurely lunch! At around 1:30 they announced the cabins were ready, so we made our way to our cabin, 11060, an AB suite. I absolutely love the AB's. The bathroom is to die for and the fact that it has 2 full bathrooms certainly comes in handy when 2 women are travelling. Before we had even finished looking around and checking out everything in the cabin, our butler Anoop came in to introduce himself and take our order for that night's goodies. I can't say enough about Anoop, he anticipated our every whim and need without being intrusive. Anyone who gets Anoop as their butler is in for a real treat! We enjoyed our complimentary champagne on the balcony and by then it was time for the muster drill. The drill was quick and painless. We then proceeded up to the pool deck for sail away. It's been many years since I've departed from NYC and I totally forgot what a beautiful experience it is. Our cabin stewards were great; kept the cabin spotless and left towel animals every night. I've read some recent reviews about the Dawn being dirty and showing her age; I can't disagree more. I never saw anything out of place nor did I see anything that showed age. In fact, the Dawn was and still is my favorite NCL ship. We had very nice CC Roll Call, which I joined very late since I booked the cruise at the last minute. There was a formal Meet'n'Greet on Monday at the Star Bar. NCL put out coffee, tea and pastries. They sent the Hotel Director, the Chef, the Food and Beverage Manager, the Cruise Director and probably other officers that I don't remember. It was nice to actually meet some of the officers and to hear what they had to say. We signed up for the "dinner with the officers" at the Meet'n'Greet. Thanks to Cruise Critic, I was pretty sure that we would be picked if we signed up at the Meet'n'Greet. Food & Drink: Day 1 (Sunday) we ate at Salsa. Originally our reservations were for 7:30, but we were hungry so we made our way to the restaurant about 45 minutes early. There was no problem seating us early. The food and service were excellent; the lobster tacos and Il Popo were outstanding - so were the margarita's! The wait staff was very friendly, helping us with suggestions and when we couldn't decide on something they just brought both items. Day 2 (Monday) we dined in Aqua, we both wanted lobster. There was no wait and we were seated immediately. The service was very good, prompt and willing to make changes to the menu based on our requests. The meal wasn't my favorite for the cruise, but I certainly was happy with what I ordered. Day 3 (Tuesday) we dined at Cagney's. What can I say, Cagney's has always been my favorite and it still lived up to my expectations. We both had the shrimp cocktail, salad and steak. Between us we had the strip steak and the filet, both of which were excellent. The filet was so tender it could be cut with a fork. The meats were cooked exactly to order. We ordered 2 different desserts so that we could try them both and neither of them disappointed us. In my opinion, the surcharge for Cagney's is well worth it. Day 4 (Wednesday) we dined at Impressions. The service was very good, but I can't say that I was impressed with the food. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my meal but it certainly wasn't, in my opinion, great Italian food. From reading a lot of reviews, I have a feeling that this is totally a regional issue. I've read reviews from people who live in an area with very good Tex-Mex food who didn't like Salsa, yet Salsa was one of my favorites. Since I lived and worked near NYC for most of my life and have travelled many times to Italy, I'm used to very good Italian food and I think that's why I was disappointed with Impressions. Day 5 (Thursday) we dined with Pedro, the Cruise Director, at Venetian. It was an enjoyable dinner talking with Pedro about his experiences with NCL. The food was quite good. The service was outstanding and the entire table enjoyed their dinner with Pedro. Day 6 (Friday) we dined at Le Bistro. We had a great table, wonderful attentive service and outstanding food. If I could eat more I would have ordered another round of escargots! I had the rack of lamb; it was delicious, tender and cooked to perfection. If people had to pick just a couple of surcharge restaurants, then they should certainly add Le Bistro to that list. Day 7 (Saturday) we decided to dine again at Salsa. We had totally enjoyed our first dinner of the cruise there and decided to also have our last dinner of the cruise there. We ordered the exact same things again and weren't disappointed in either the food or the service. Breakfast was mostly at Cagney's. This is a new perk for penthouses and I loved it. I agree with all of the CC posters, the Eggs Benedict are to die for! I had them 3 times. We would constantly run into Anshuman at Cagney's where he would greet us, ask us how we were doing and see if there was anything else that he could do for us. Had room service breakfast once and breakfast at the buffet once. The buffet was OK for what we wanted, quick and plentiful, we were in a rush to get to the beach. Room service breakfast was great. Anoop brought everything we ordered on time and hot. He then proceeded to set the table and place all of our food out for us. Thanks Anoop! We didn't eat lunch every day, especially if we had a large breakfast. We did have one lunch at Cagney's (excellent) and snacks at both Bimini and Blue Lagoon. The hot pretzels at Bimini were great and the Chicken Wings at Blue Lagoon are still very good. Activities: There was something going on all day and night, it would have been impossible to be bored. I'm not a gambler, so I can't comment on the Casino. I would have liked to participate in progressive trivia, but as other posters have said, it wasn't at a good time. If I were NCL, I would move this to either morning or early afternoon. My friend used either the running track or the gym every day and totally enjoyed her work-outs. She did say that she got a great work-out running the track if it was windy that day! We attended both the Italian and the French wine tasting. Had a blast at both of them and even learned some things about wine. They were well worth the $15 charge. You got 4 glasses of wine at both, 2 white and 2 red. At the Italian tasting you also got a glass of sparkling wine. I was totally impressed when we walked into the Italian tasting, the server called me by name! I remembered her from the first day's lunch at Venetian, but how on earth did she remember me! I'm sorry that I didn't have my glasses on so that I could see her name plate; I would have liked to write a note to NCL about her. On the last sea day we attended the Jazz Brunch ($15/pp). It was so worth it! I can't believe how much food I ate. After we placed our breakfast order (which wasn't a small order) our waiter talked us into also ordering steak and shrimp. I'm so glad he did, it was excellent. We caught Jose & Patti once, but we ended up really enjoying Bernie at Gatsby's. Once we caught his show the first time, we ended up going to see him every night. We had a ball with Bernie and all of the great people that we met at Gatsby's. We must have been there quite a few times; all of the servers knew what we would order to drink. All we had to say was "we'll have the usual" and our drinks would magically appear! We caught all of the Jean Ann Ryan production shows and totally enjoyed all of them. My favorite was Band on the Run. South Beach was just OK, in my opinion; we expected more salsa type dancing. Bollywood was a great show to watch, I can't believe the moves on some of the performers. Bermuda: Bermuda is an absolutely beautiful island and a great port to be docked for 3 days. This was my first time to be docked at the Dockyard and I was pleasantly surprised. There was a nice shopping plaza right at the Dockyard, although the prices were typical Bermuda (high). We took a Catamaran cruise on the first day in Bermuda. It was just OK, not worth the money in my opinion. Although a lot of that impression is probably due to the fact that the weather wasn't all that great on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, we spent the day at Horseshoe Bay. What a beautiful beach! The beach has a concession type food stand and bathroom and shower facilities. We rented beach chairs for $15/pp; you got $5 deposit back when you returned the chair. The weather was perfect and the water temperature was still warm. On Friday, we took a Glass Bottom boat tour that included snorkeling. This excursion was great. The crew was a lot of fun, kept everyone laughing the entire time. The water and snorkeling were great on this tour, as were the Rum Swizzles on the way back! After we got back from this excursion, we spent the afternoon roaming the shops at the Dockyard. While we were roaming, we ran into Anoop. It was so different seeing him in regular clothes! We had to stop at the Frog & Onion Pub for a drink and some delicious onion rings. Since both of us were looking for a totally relaxing beach vacation, we didn't bother going to either Hamilton or St. George's. I've been to Bermuda before and have been to both Hamilton and St. George's so it wasn't a great loss for me. If you've never been to Bermuda, then I would definitely recommend going to both places, or at a minimum get to one of them. It's been about 8 years since I've been to Bermuda; I had forgotten how much I love this island. I definitely won't wait another 8 years to go back. Disembarkation: I slept in, so I missed cruising under the Verrazano Bridge, but I was up in time to see the Statue of Liberty. We had a leisurely breakfast at Cagney's and left the ship about 10AM. The lines were not long at that point. We found our luggage quickly and I tried to find a porter to assist us with our luggage. Along comes Anshuman, who quickly found us a porter and wished us a safe trip home. We breezed through Customs and Immigration and we were headed home by 10:30. In Summary: The Dawn remains my favorite ship; I love everything about the Dawn, the cabins, public spaces, atrium, food and especially the crew. All of the crew that we came into contact with were extremely friendly, while still being professional. My past 4 cruises with NCL have all been in a penthouse, but I can sincerely say that this cruise brought the penthouse to a new level. In the past, I've never had a Concierge who so loved his job and went out of his way to make sure that everything about your cruise was perfect. At one point I mentioned to Anshuman that I'd love to see the Garden Villa. I'm thinking about booking a Garden Villa for a 2010 cruise and I wanted to see it in person. As it turns out, I met a woman who was in the Garden Villa on Friday night in the "smoking room". This very gracious lady invited us up to the Villa on Saturday for wine and cheese. We had a great time, Mr. Hugo (the Hotel Director), Anshuman, Anoop and Henry (the Villa butler) were all there to answer any questions and to make sure that we all had a great time. I was pleasantly surprised that white wine was served, until I found out that Anoop knew what we drank. Of course he did, that's just one of the things that made Anoop a great Butler! I enjoyed this cruise so much that for the first time I bought a cruise rewards certificate while on board. I can't wait to cruise again, probably on the Dawn. I can only hope that if Anshuman and Anoop have moved onto other ships when I cruise again, that their replacements live up to the expectations that I now have for both a Concierge and a Butler. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We enjoyed an easy ride to the pier on Sunday in New York and the Dawn the only ship at the Manhattan terminal. As suite Latitude passengers, we were directed to the VIP lounge where we were escorted aboard at 11:30AM by our excellent ... Read More
We enjoyed an easy ride to the pier on Sunday in New York and the Dawn the only ship at the Manhattan terminal. As suite Latitude passengers, we were directed to the VIP lounge where we were escorted aboard at 11:30AM by our excellent concierge Anshuman from India. We had a pleasant lunch at the nearly empty Garden Cafe and then proceeded to our cabin where we were greeted by our cabin stewards Angel and Salam from the Philippines. They graciously consented to make some unusual changes in bed arrangements. The penthouse cabin was roomy, very clean and with much storage space. We were impressed by the new 2.0 bedding, linens and robes. DINING: We had dinner twice at the Italian Impressions of Italy restaurant. We always favored Impressions for dinner on our previous Dawn cruises when it was one of the Main restaurants. The dinner was sumptuous and more than the average person can easily consume. It included appetizers (excellent anti-pasto), choice of pastas and toppings, pizza to order, main entrees and wonderful Italian desserts. On most evenings we dined in the main restaurant Aqua which we found smaller and less crowded than the elegant Venetian. Meals were outstanding there on the second and next to the last nights featuring some of our favorites including lobster, duck and rack of lamb. The service was always first rate and well supervised by an attentive Maitre 'D- Judi from Romania. We had dinner one night in Cagney's where they surprised one of our group with a large birthday cake. As in the past the food and service at Cagney's was the very best. We were honored to be invited to dinner one evening in the Venetian with the Captain who was very personable and interesting. We usually enjoyed lunch in the buffet as the lunch menu in Venetian was rather limited. We were delighted to have breakfast in Cagney's with superb choices and away from the crowds in the buffet. Our only complaint with the food on the Dawn was the limited menu at the now extra charge Salsa Tex-Mex restaurant. We always enjoyed dining there in the past because of its delightful ambience with its beautiful stained glass ceiling and music from the attractive soaring atrium. However, our former favorites, Shrimp Frajita and Mahi-Mahi were no longer on the menu as well as our favorite desserts Cranberry-Pecan Cake and Mexican Cheesecake. Salsa was almost empty every evening and obviously many passengers felt was not the worth the new extra charge. ENTERTAINMENT- Good to see talented trumpeter Larry Lockwood again leading the Dawn showband and hosting Big Band night in Spinnaker's Lounge. Two fine pianists Fabrizio Caligaris and Bernie Martini performed nightly in the atrium and Gatsby's. Jose and Patti, a talented couple performed nightly to SRO crowds in Dazzles. The production shows in the Stardust Theatre were entertaining and the performers energetic and talented. However, "Bollywood" and "South Beach Rave" have been on the Dawn many years now and it's time for some new productions. The undistinguished musical score of Bollywood hardly deserves such a long run on the Dawn. I'm sure most passengers would prefer a musical with more recognizable music. The comedian Dave Heenan has been on the Dawn before and he needs some new material. FITNESS PROGRAMS- We found the no-fee fitness classes poorly scheduled and with mediocre instructors. The for fee classes like Yoga were very unexceptional. The Dawn's fitness options and instructors were much better prior to the current Steiner era. We appreciated the Oasis pool being open at 6AM for early lap swimmers. However, there was some confusion there regarding children? The Freestyle Daily stated that the Oasis Jacuzzis and pool, deck 12, were for adults only but a sign at the pool stated "children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult?" We often saw unaccompanied young children in the Oasis pool and jacuzzis with no control by the pool attendant. BERMUDA- Our favorite island port did not disappoint. Sunny days in the 70's and no rain enabled us to enjoy the beaches and snorkeling. STAFF- As in the past, the Dawn staff, ably supervised by a very attentive Hotel Director Hugo Vanosmael was first rate and a joy to sail with. The senior staff was very welcoming to our large CruiseCritic.com roll call group aptly named the "Dawn's Dockyard Dynamos." We proudly wore our name badges, creatively designed by Terri and Bob and our meet and greet was organized to perfection by a familiar cruisemate Snorklin' Barb. SUMMARY- Our 5th cruise on the Dawn could not have been better and we look forward to sailing our favorite ship to our favorite island again in October 2009. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We had never contemplated sailing to Bermuda from New York as Boston is a much closer port for us. Why drive 4 hours instead of 45 minutes and pay double to park? Not to mention the cost of gas with prices being what they are now days. ... Read More
We had never contemplated sailing to Bermuda from New York as Boston is a much closer port for us. Why drive 4 hours instead of 45 minutes and pay double to park? Not to mention the cost of gas with prices being what they are now days. That changed in August of 2007 when I stumbled on an apparent glitch on the NCL website...an oceanview guarantee for $149pp??? "Oh, this can't be right" I thought, as I reached for my credit card. I typed in my information as requested and 'lo and behold, the booking went through! I ran around the office telling everyone about this spectacular find, only to have people hesitate, "I should really check with my husband first." What? Were they out of their minds? Worst case NCL says "Oops" and gives you back your deposit. I posted my find on a travel website and 4 lucky people got to book before NCL corrected the price to $749 (or $799 for non-Latitudes). I emailed my DH and told him that I'd booked the Dawn out of NYC for the week of October 12, 2008 for $643.98. The phone immediately rang as he asked what the heck was I thinking? He didn't want to sail out of NYC! We sail from Boston to Bermuda and to a more desirable port! I explained that the price I quoted was it. The total. Including all port fees and taxes. He said, cool, I'd love to check out NYC in October. Shortly after booking we noticed that our account showed an additional $1200 due. What followed were a few stressful days of working with an excellent PCC at NCL. She worked diligently with the billing department and after a tense week we were all locked in. She recommended that we pay in full to protect the booking. We happily agreed. For the next year or so, my companions and I gloated over our good fortune (and checked our reservations apprehensively, still waiting for the "oops!" that never came). Time passed ever so slowly but October 2008 finally neared. We grew excited about our first cruise on the Dawn. So many NCL cruisers list her as their favorite that we could not wait to see her for ourselves. In the couple of months prior to our cruise some of the reviews coming in were negative, but we disregarded that. We've never had a cruise that we didn't like (okay, there was the one two-nighter that we took, but that's another story). As they day grew near, we hooked up with some nice people on our roll call and arranged to join them on their bus to NYC rather than drive in (we did have the truck gassed up in case they turned out to be crazy or the limo company unreliable). Emails flew back and forth as we exchanged information and details. The cruise that we had booked nearly 14 months ago was mere days away. Hallelujah!!! A flurry of packing ensued and lists were methodically checked and double-checked until we were ready to head out. We left our house the day before the cruise to meet up with friends in Connecticut. I had booked the cruise for them when I had discovered the anomaly. They had been on vacation at the time, but I was pretty confident that they wouldn't mind me spending their money for them. We celebrated our last night before the cruise with some seriously great pizza and cocktails before forcing ourselves to go to sleep. It turns out that our roll call peeps weren't crazy and the bus showed up early. I called to let them know that we were one our way to get them. Vacation was finally here!!! The ride on the bus was interesting as it took us through the streets of Harlem. We craned our necks as we took in this famous area and I wished I had my camera handy when we passed the historic Apollo Theater. Once at the pier, the porters pounced and whisked our bags away before we knew it. We promised our traveling companions that we'd chat at the meet and greet the following day and then began the check-in process. Actually that started with security, followed by (oddly...to us anyway) the embarkation photo, THEN check-in. The paperwork was processed quickly and we received our key cards. We were directed where to sit while we waited for boarding to commence and got the pleasant news that we'd be boarding early. The Dawn was ready to go and we were sipping champagne by 11:45 am! Woo-hoo! As we were too early for lunch at the Venetian, I went to the reservation desk on deck 7 and made our dinner reservations for the first two nights. As I waited in the short line I took in the beautiful central atrium with its soaring staircases and glass elevators. Much nicer than the squat ceiling on the Gem which leaves me feeling closed in. We then spotted one of our roll call members ("Hey, Monte!") and joined him and his wonderful wife for lunch. The embarkation day lunch menu is unfortunately pretty much the same as it has been for the last year and a half, but the food is still good. Our service was a bit slow (we sat for a long period with dirty dishes in front of us waiting to be cleared), but as I can honestly say this was the only time we experienced slow restaurant service on the cruise, I have to attribute it to the chaos of embarkation day. When we left the dining room it wasn't two o'clock yet (the magic room-ready hour) but we took a shot thinking we could at least drop off our carry-on bags. Our room was ready though, with the champagne I'd ordered chilling, so we quickly unpacked. The room was clean and a good size. I continue to love the bathrooms on the newer NCL ships, especially the showers, which are huge compared to what you find on the Majesty and the Dream. We flipped through the cruise ship flotsam that is ever-present on the bedspread and found an invitation to the VIP cocktail party the following evening. Drat! This was at exactly the time we'd made reservations for LeBistro. Well a quick phone call to Anshuman, the concierge, changed our reservation from Monday to Tuesday. Killing time until the muster drill, we made our way around the specialty restaurants and found that they do have samples out as advertised. It would be nice if they had them labeled and gave you a spot to put your used spoons, though! The Dawn has bars scattered around the ship (including a sports bar and champagne bar) rather than the "bar central" layout found on the Gem. I like the Dawn's layout better as it's more suited to finding nooks and crannies to relax. The muster drill was a snap and made a bit more enjoyable by the bottle of bubbly we'd just consumed. A notable lack of passengers at the drill made think that the ship wasn't full. Rather than 5-6 rows deep we only had a couple of rows of cruisers at our station. That's okay by us! After dropping off our life jackets in our cabin, up to the Spinnaker Lounge we went for Sail Away. Avoiding the masses appeals to us and we had a great view of the Statue of Liberty as we cruised on by. Arriving back at our cabin we found that a fruit basket with a complimentary bottle of wine had been delivered. A nice little thank you for being a Gold Latitudes member! Dinner that evening was Cagney's which was as good as always. I've really gotta try that veal chop for myself some time. The chop is DH's meal of choice and the bites I've had are fantastic. I tend to stick with the filet mignon, which is very good, but perhaps not worth the service charge. I had the bananas foster for dessert and was a bit disappointed as it was a little heavy on the orange juice, but the crème brulee was fabulous as always. Sea days are always "veg" days for us, and this was no exception. The only thing on our plate was the Meet and Greet at 4:00 in the Star Bar. A quick perusal of the Freestyle Daily informed us that there was a martini tasting in the same location at 3:00. Could the timing have been any better? I think not! The martini tasting was good and the martinis poured with a generous hand. I wish the bar manager had explained more about the martinis we were consuming and the process by which they are made (ala Armando on the Gem), but it was still fun. We met another couple that we had chatted with on the boards and the roll call and that made a fun time even better...especially when we all made plans to meet up at the Frog and Onion at Dockyard for a few cocktails on Wednesday night! The martini tasting segued neatly into the M&G. We had a good turn out and the ship's officers who were present included the Hotel Director, the Food and Beverage Manager, the Restaurant Manager and the Cruise Director. Anyone who has attended a M&G knows that not only is this a great opportunity to meet up with your fellow roll call members, but it's a chance to talk with the officers and bring up anything that's on your mind. The Hotel Director, Hugo Vanosmael was one of the best we've encountered as far as his obvious love of his job and sincere wish to make this the best cruise we've ever had. At the end of the M&G the group coordinator came around and gave us the opportunity to put our names in for a drawing to dine with the ship's officers. This was offered to all passengers in the Freestyle Daily as well. Everyone I spoke with who had put their names in during the M&G greet were selected. After the M&G we gussied up before attending the VIP cocktail party in Spinnaker's. As usual this was a great event and a chance to talk with officers one-on-one. The only downer was being accosted by a woman who's company turned photos taken on the ship turned into oil paintings. I wasn't there for a sales pitch and quickly made my escape. DH talked with Hugo about the ship's capacity...Hugo insisted that the ship was full, but the ease with which we continued to find seating out doors and at the buffet told another tale. The cocktail party was smack in the middle of the dinner hour so we made our way to the Blue Lagoon for a quick snack. The Buffalo wings remain yummy and the service remains mediocre at best. I don't understand why the service at the Blue Lagoon is consistently poor (waiters standing with their backs to you, studiously ignoring you), but the food is good and quick. Tuesday is a day that we're normally all geared up to sail into St. George when we're sailing from Boston. Unfortunately on the Dawn this was another sea day to build up the anticipation for Bermuda. Oh well, another day to relax and soak up some sun. Before our planned dinner at LeBistro we decided to meet for cocktails at Gatsby's. There we were serenaded by a talented but loud pianist. Shouting to make ourselves heard over the din killed some of the relaxation we had achieved, however we were soon to make our way into the restaurant. As we waited patiently in line at the reservation desk, the couple ahead of us was seated outside the restaurant...right next to the piano player! We exchanged glances of horror as we approached the desk and sighs of relief as we were escorted in to the restaurant. Even more pleasant was being led to the best seat in the house right next to the amazing Renoir that graces this lovely room. LeBistro, what can I say? The food and service was exquisite as always. We thoroughly enjoyed the new menu and found the old favorites (escargot and mushroom soup) to be as amazing as always. Anshuman stopped by to greet us and make sure that we were enjoying our visit on the beautiful Dawn. It is attention to detail like that that makes for a memorable vacation. The next day...Bermuda! And we almost missed sailing in! For the first time ever, we over slept and were awakened by our traveling companions calling our room. We shot out of bed and quickly made ourselves presentable so we could watch our arrival at Dockyard, to which we had never sailed before. Dockyard does not have the charm of St. George (what does really?), but it is not unpleasant. Our friends who were expecting a port that was stacked with industrial containers (as experienced at port in Barbados on another cruise) were pleasantly surprised. We decided to take our guests on a quick tour of Dockyard for orientation. An hour of roaming around Dockyard was enough (as almost everything was still closed) so we caught the ferry to Hamilton. What a great mode of transportation this is. 15 minutes by ferry vs. 60 minutes by bus. If you love to shop, Hamilton is for you. It is also a pretty city. However as we aren't shoppers, we opted for some lunch. A quick inquiry at a Visitor's Information Center gave us the location of the Hog Penny (which claims to be the inspiration for the TV show Cheers). Some great food was had here. DH states that this was the best Bermudian fish chowder that he's had in nine trips now, and I have to say the bangers n' mash were some of the best that I've had. I pulled out the ferry schedule and realized there was a ferry leaving in less than an hour, so we bolted down our food to catch that ferry. Not that it would have been tragic to spend another hour in Hamilton, but hey, if we didn't have to, why? Our next scheduled activity was meeting up with our roll call peeps at the Frog and Onion. What a wonderful time we had. We spent a couple of hours getting to know each other and sampling some good locally brewed beers (and at a good price too!) Okay, maybe not such a good price, as DH reminds me that our group spent $140.... ON BEER! Of course there were eight of us...and that included tip! Deciding that we needed some food we headed back to the ship and noticed the signs posted advertising deals at Bamboo and Salsa. Correctly deducing that they were trying to drum up business, we chose Bamboo and were seated immediately. The food at Bamboo was delicious and well worth the cover charge. I was really pleased with the sweet and sour pork which was far better than what I can get locally. Thursday we decided to go to Church Bay which is supposed to be one of the best spots on the island for snorkeling. There is an express bus that runs from Dockyard to Horseshoe Bay Beach, but as Church Bay is on the way, they graciously added our stop. Only four of us left the bus at Church Bay while the rest of the passengers went on to Horseshoe Bay Beach, which also made us feel good about our decision. Walking down the stairs leading to Church Bay we were greeted by a spectacular view of glittering blue water and coral formations that indicated there would be some excellent snorkeling indeed. Only one other couple was at the beach when we arrived. By the time we left, around 12:30, the beach was just starting to fill up. It's nice to not be "towel-to-towel" with your fellow cruise mates. I don't often snorkel and didn't on this occasion, but DH reported some truly excellent snorkeling as did our friends. However after a couple of hours we were ready to move on and make our way to the new Swizzle Inn on the south shore. On the bus we met up with new friends from our previous night at the Frog and Onion and we all passed a pleasant couple of hours enjoying a lunch consisting of appetizers (conch fritters are a must!) and pitchers of rum swizzle. Yum! I'm happy to report that the pitchers are just as good and flow just as freely as at the original Swizzle Inn at Bailey's Bay. Opting to take the bus back to Dockyard, we witnessed something quintessentially Bermudian. After our many visits to this lovely island, we've long since learned that a "Good Morning" and a "Good Afternoon" go a long way. Bermudians have good manners and demonstrating that you do too will make your visit on this island thoroughly enjoyable. Our bus driver took this passion for etiquette one step further. A group of people were getting on the bus before us and enquired if this bus went to Dockyard. Our driver replied, "Good afternoon." Again the question was asked, "Does this bus go to Dockyard?" and again the reply was "Good afternoon." Well, they didn't need to be asked a third time! This time the young woman replied, "Good afternoon" and the bus driver immediately explained that this bus would not take us to Dockyard but she would drop us at a stop where we could connect with that bus. The entire exchange gave DH and I quite the chuckle. At the next stop, the scene was played out again as a gentleman at the stop asked if the bus went to Dockyard. However after two "Good afternoons" without a civil reply, the bus driver shut the door in the man's face and sped off!!!! I thought this was a bit much, but still found it hilarious. Shortly after this encounter our bus started to emit a foul order and soon an alarm was going off. The bus driver pulled off at the nearest bus stop and contacted dispatch to let them know that her bus had overheated. I was impressed that a replacement bus was pulling up behind ours within 10 minutes or so. However, we didn't get far as the new bus had a problem with the driver's seat not allowing her to lower it enough. After calling into the microphone "My feet aren't touching the floor," a few times, she determined she could drive...for one more stop. Off of the bus we all went again while a second bus arrived for her. (I have to admire how quickly they dispatched replacement busses!) Another bus arrived which clearly stated "Dockyard" on the front. I ended up on this bus, while my DH and friends ended up on another. The bus with the "too high seat" turned into a "Dockyard Express" bus and my friends arrived at Dockyard before I did. Go figure. Well, that added a little adventure to our day! That evening we went to Pearly Kings to catch up on sports and ended up listening to the guitar player who arrived (sorry, I have no idea what his name was) to entertain us. DH ran up to the room for something and came back with an envelope that he hadn't opened. Boo! It was luggage tags! What the heck? Why am I getting luggage tags when we have two full days of cruising left?! (I later realized it was because we were receiving the tags for Gold/Platinum Latitudes members). I jammed them in my pocket and ordered a couple of Sam Smith's to ease the pain. After singing along to our favorite Jimmy Buffet, Billy Joel and Van Morrison tunes, we decided to head to the Garden Cafe for dinner. I do like that NCL makes this area nicer in the evening with the addition of the white table linens and flickering candles. Following dinner we walked around Dockyard for a bit and eventually found ourselves up at Spinnaker's Lounge to watch the Liar's Club (very funny) with our Frog and Onion peeps. On Friday we had another glorious day and we opted to stay in Dockyard. DH and the husband of the couple we were traveling with had brought travel fishing poles to try their hand at fishing. DH actually caught a small tuna! I just wandered around, did some shopping (including restocking our supply of sparkling water for the cabin), generally relaxed and wistfully counted down our time to departure. That departure was somewhat delayed as the ship waited for an ambulance that would be taking a passenger from the ship. The ambulance finally arrived and the EMT's whisked a gurney up the gangway. They returned with a woman with a cervical collar on who waved to passengers as she was loaded onto the waiting ambulance. The ambulance hadn't pulled away when the first lines were being cast into the water. Soon the Dawn was drifting away from the pier and we were on our way home. We quickly dressed for dinner (actually cocktails as we were meeting at Gatsby's), and dashed to deck 6. As we were sipping martinis (and cringing because we'd forgotten about "too loud piano player guy") DH drew our attention to the starboard windows. There the familiar sight of Fort St. Catherine's greeted us so we all rushed to the window to catch this fleeting glimpse of St. George. "Wow, doesn't the skyline look weird without the old Club Med there??" "Oh, and there's the Town Cut!" A wave of nostalgia swamps us as we turn away from St. George and Bermuda and make our way to Impressions where we had dinner reservations. Impressions was very good. The beef carpaccio was tasty, but sliced far too thin (you had to scrape it up off of the plate). I had the pizza as an appetizer and was relieved that they'd scaled back the size (on the Gem the pizzas were more than enough for a meal). The lobster ravioli was very good although the sauce was different than what I'd had before. DH had the osso buco which he thoroughly enjoyed. Saturday, the last day, is always consumed by the gloomy task of packing and wishing the cruise weren't yet over. This trip even more so as every aspect of the cruise had been so thoroughly enjoyable. A little after 1:00 pm, our luck with the weather turned and the skies went from bright and sunny to ominously black. The temperature plummeted and the wind whipped up. The seas jumped to 15 feet or so, the winds to around 50 mph and out came the piles of barf bags at the elevators! Thankfully motion bothers DH and I not at all (and honestly we've experienced much worse). Other than the weather keeping us inside for the rest of the day, it did nothing to put a damper on our trip. It dawned on me as I planned to pack that I needed to get luggage tags for our friends who are not yet Gold so that we could all disembark at the same time. A quick call to the Cruise Consultant desk and the matter was taken care of. It's nice to know that you can do this! As we packed we enjoyed the bottle of wine that came with our fruit basket. On our last cruise the wine had been, well, awful. This time we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was quite drinkable. Apparently fellow CCer's who had assured us that we'd just received an "off" bottle last time were correct! As is traditional for us on the last night, we had dinner up in the buffet which was consistently good throughout the cruise. We eventually made our way down to Pearly Kings to watch the Red Sox game. Despite the motion of the ship, Pearly Kings was packed with baseball fans and we enjoyed hanging out there for awhile. Then it was back up to the room and putting the bags out in the hallway. Now you know your cruise is pretty much over! The following morning we awakened just in time to see the Statue of Liberty as we slowly sailed by. I hate the last morning on the ship. Vacation is over and I just want to be on my way home. DH ran up to the buffet and brought us back breakfast and we waited...and waited...and waited in the middle of the Hudson. Finally it was announced that we were waiting for a tug boat to help us to the pier as the current was too strong for the ship to maneuver herself. Finally, about 45 minutes late we were able to leave the ship. This truly was our best cruise ever. All of the stars were aligned to bring us the best ship in the fleet, the best crew, and the best people to sail with. The only thing keeping us going at this point is the knowledge that we'll be on the Gem in less than 3 months! ? Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Just got back from our first cruise to Bermuda. Reviewer back round: Wife and I are in our early 50's, this was our 6th cruise and 4th on NCL. We have sailed Carnival and Princess as well. The embarkation was a snap as we drove ... Read More
Just got back from our first cruise to Bermuda. Reviewer back round: Wife and I are in our early 50's, this was our 6th cruise and 4th on NCL. We have sailed Carnival and Princess as well. The embarkation was a snap as we drove in from NJ, and we were on the ship in about 15 minutes. Had lunch in the Venetian and just as we finished the room ready announcement was made. We had a Mini Suite on deck 11 aft portside. Room was ok but not laid out too well. The only outlet in the room was in the hallway from the door to the sleeping area. Not by the TV and refrigerator etc. where all the shelf space was. Made for some tedious phone and camera charging, as well as some inventive extension cord routing! The door to the balcony was partially blocked by the minibar-fridge, only 1 small shelf in the bathroom for your stuff (not enough).The Mini suites on the NCL Sun are laid out way better. Our cabin steward came by 15 minutes after we got in the room. Still can't say his name, but I tipped him $50.00 right off the bat and asked for lots of ice. I had ordered a bar setup in the cabin and on the last cruise finding ice was a real chore. Well that was the right move, as we had ice delivered to the room two times a day, as well as great service. Couldn't' ask for anything more...except the $4.00 bag of peanuts with a July 2008 expiration date in the mini bar to be replaced. Service in almost all instances was friendly and efficient. Went to the C.C. meet and greet in the Star Bar on Monday morning. I was embarrassed that there were more NCL crew and officers attending then cruisers. They did a great job greeting us and answering questions and truly took our M+G seriously. Too bad all the roll call posters that said they would be there did not show up. Bermuda was really beautiful, prices are high and the people friendly and the roads harrowing! The bus and ferry pass is the way to go if you want to see things rather then taking a quick glance if you were to drive on you own. We did not do any organized excursions NCL or otherwise. All the food was for the most part was good and tasty. The exception would be the hot soups that were very salty and did not taste of the ingredients they were made from. All in all we had a very enjoyable cruise with little if any surprises or drama. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Background: My husband & I are both in our late 50's. We traveled with another couple on this cruise. This was our 14th or 15th time on the Norwegian Dawn. I am fortunate to be involved in the travel industry and have cruised ... Read More
Background: My husband & I are both in our late 50's. We traveled with another couple on this cruise. This was our 14th or 15th time on the Norwegian Dawn. I am fortunate to be involved in the travel industry and have cruised many times in the last 10 years or so. I seem to always want to come back "home" to the Dawn because it's convenient, has a great selection of dining options and most of all, the best crew. Day 1, Sunday: We arrived at the pier @ 11:30. There was a lot of chaos going on due to an electrical fire which had started earlier that morning at the pier. Regardless, we were on the ship within ½ hr & greeted by the crew serving free champagne & orange juice. Because the cabins were not ready at this time, we headed straight for the Venetian Dining Room for lunch. The Garden Cafe was also open for a buffet lunch but we prefer the formal dining room. By the time we finished our lunch we were able to go to our cabins. Our balcony cabin on deck 9 was convenient, clean & if you're organized, spacious. I found that placing my clothes on wire hangers in the suitcase is the easiest way for me. We remove the wood hangers which take up way too much room & just hang up our clothes when we unpack the suitcase. There were Elemis products (liquid soap, shower soap, shampoo/conditioner & lotion) & the new bedding is very crisp, clean & white. The new beds are very hard but amazingly very comfortable. We met our room steward, Torro, and he was very excited about making our stay this week as comfortable as possible. Our bags came to our cabin about 2 hrs later. We unpacked then went for a walk around the ship, made dinner reservations for the Teppanyaki restaurant, and did the muster drill. Sail away was beautiful even though the weather was very damp & foggy. Sailing under the Verazanno Bridge is not to be missed! Also, would like to note that NCL uses one of the card rooms now for Latitude members (past passengers) to stop by at any time for coffee, tea, hot chocolate, danish & cookies. Any one can actually stop by here. Nice touch! Dinner at Teppanyaki was very good & the crew went out of their way to cook my food separately due to my shellfish allergy. Most people don't know it but you can add sushi to your meal at no extra cost. On the dessert menu, there's the strangest looking ice cream I've ever seen. Looks like a ravioli filled with ice cream. At night, there was a "Welcome Aboard" show that we entered late & only saw the last 20 mins or so. After spending a little time at the casino, (I'm not sure if it was my imagination, but, it seems there are more 1 cent & 5 cent machines than 25 cent machines now.) we all retired to our cabins. There was a cute little towel animal created on our bed this evening & every evening afterwards. We slept with our balcony door opened just enough to hear the ocean. The seas were moderate & we sailed smoothly. Our friends, however, had a cabin on deck 4 and had to shut the curtain on the window in order not to see the waves smack against their cabin. They said it wasn't rough, just too low. We were instructed to turn our clock ahead 1 hour tonight. Here's a list of some other things available on embarkation day from the Freestyle Daily: shore excursion videos, spa tours, fitness center tour, kid's & teen's center tour, poolside music (great Caribbean band-Sound Bytes), Sail away party, free gaming lessons, ship tour, trivia, liquor tasting, singles get together, live music in various locations, movies in the cinema, karaoke, late night bon voyage party. Day 2, Monday: Put out the room service card the evening before for coffee delivery, but it never came. Neither did the wake up call. This happened the next morning also, but after that, both came on time. Had breakfast in the Venetian Dining room. No wait, service excellent, food excellent. Eggs are offered, any style, but the scrambled looked like the instant stuff. 10:30 was our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. Our thread was extremely small & although about 20 were expected, more like 10 showed up. Nevertheless, the crew stopped by which was very much appreciated. As someone from Cruise Critics stated, there may have been more crew members there than Cruise Critics! Free coffee, danish, etc, was provided for us. Spent most of the day either on a lounge chair by the pool and up by the Bimini Bar which quickly became my favorite place to hang out & read my book on days at sea. Breezy, and snack food at my fingertips, who can ask for more. All kinds of burgers, hotdogs, chicken sandwiches, fries & yummy fat pretzels. Drinks were pretty expensive even with ordering the special of the day, which were about $6.75 w/o the souvenir glass. Tonight was the "formal" night. There's really no such thing anymore on NCL & everyone was dressed nicely, but hardly anyone "formal". Most men wore sports jackets. We had dinner in the Aqua restaurant which we enjoyed. A ½ lobster tail is in a combo plate along with other seafood. Couldn't help but wonder if this new combo dish was created deliberately to deter those that might want extra lobster. In the past, it was much easier for those lobster lovers to ask for a few tails. Now, it would mean another combo plate? After dinner, we saw the production show "Band on the Run", which was very good. Here's a list of some other things available today from the Freestyle Daily: yoga, stretch, catholic mass, trivia, spa seminars, shore excursion presentation, basketball, casino tournaments, golf putting tournament, wine tasting, Second City show, volleyball tournament, martini tasting, beers of Europe tasting, bingo (of course), dance lessons, singles social, pictures with the captain, movies in the cinema, not-so-newlywed game, Monte Carlo night. We had another night with moderate seas, and smooth sailing. Day 3, Tuesday: We woke up to a pretty nice day with moderate seas. We had breakfast in the Venetian Dining room. There was no wait & our food was delivered quickly & hot. We took a walk around the outside promenade and enjoyed looking at the murals along the walls. We then went to the pool area and relaxed the day away. The pool area was much more crowded than yesterday and most chairs were taken by 11 am. I find that the 2nd day at sea is my favorite day. By this point, I'm relaxed, unpacked & ready for my vacation! Some of us had lunch at the Bimini Bar and some went to the Garden Buffet. The dining room is also open for lunch. There's a great reggae band by the pool, "Flex", and they pretty much played all day long. There was also a raffle today you can participate in with the winners having dinner with the ship's officers. I can't remember where we had dinner tonight. Here's a list of some other things available today from the Freestyle Daily: crossword, trivia...etc, spa seminars, Second City Improv, Tapas & Sangria tasting, Rum seminar, ice carving demo, Mojito tasting, casino tournaments, Whiskey & Bourbon tasting, magician & juggler show, 70s Disco party. Day 4, Wednesday: Woke up to partly sunny skies & watched the ship enter into Bermuda from the balcony of our cabin. Beach towels were delivered to our cabin. Make sure you don't misplace these or you'll be charged a fee. When you return from the beach or pool, just place your towels on the floor of your bathroom & your room steward will replace them with clean ones. After breakfast, we walked off the ship and purchased our bus/ferry pass. As soon as you get off the ship, the ticket window is located below at the Bermuda customs building. Since we only needed transportation today for Horseshoe Bay Beach and for tonight to get to Hamilton, we purchased a 1 day pass @ $12.00 pp. Individual ride tokens would have cost $4 each time. We boarded an express bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach & the ride took about 20 mins. It was a pleasant ride along the coast with nice views. From the bus stop, you need to walk a little down hill to the beach. The beach was not too crowded and we found a spot toward the sheltered cove on the right, not too far from the restrooms & concession stand. Horseshoe is so beautiful with secluded areas, wide pink sand beach, and lots of fish. The cove area on the right is extremely calm and surrounded by small rocky hills that some people enjoyed climbing. Our day at the beach ended very quickly when the storm clouds came in. Before we knew it, we were being sand blasted from the wind & eventually soaked from the rain. We thought the weather might get better, but the strong showers came again in no time at all. We decided to head back for the ship & hopped on the van ($1 pp) that takes you back up the hill to catch the bus back. Bermuda customs will ask to see your ship card & photo ID before getting back on the ship. We had a snack at the Blue Lagoon. Here you'll find great fish & chips, chicken tenders, buffalo chicken wings, fries, and soups. Its open 24 hours. We decided to have a quick dinner @ the Garden Buffet. What a pleasant surprise this was! There was a very good selection of meats, sea foods, salads, vegetables & casseroles. The desserts were the usuals, along with flan, freshly made crepes & a chocolate fountain with fresh fruits. The lighting is low, there are tablecloths & fresh flowers on the tables too. In the future, we're going to make it a point to eat here more often. There was a production show this evening but we missed it because we went over to Hamilton. The ferry stop is located at the pier & the ride is about 20 mins. or less. There's a harbor festival held each week in season. Unfortunately, Hamilton is not what it was 2 or 3 years ago. Most of the shops & restaurants were closed down. Some looked as though they were being renovated & I'm hoping this is the case, for this is truly a charming area to visit. There was a great Caribbean band playing & lots of people dancing in the streets. Back on the ship, we went to see the adult only comedy act at midnight. We also made a short stop at the casino. I sort of missed the movement of the ship this evening when it was time for bed. Day 5, Thursday: Woke up to partly sunny skies again. A bit windier out today & eventually our Kayaking excursion was cancelled. Decided to walk along the Dockyard & do some window shopping. Most of the prices were high and except for the clay factory, most of the items were not that interesting. I managed to find a beautiful pair of earrings for my granddaughter at the jewelry shop located way in the back of the building. Dinner tonight was at Le Bistro & as always we were not disappointed. Had the best beef tenderloin & the others ordered rack of lamb. I highly recommend this restaurant if you are thinking of trying one of the specialty restaurants. The menu is extensive, the food's delicious & you can't beat dining in a room surrounded by original great masterpieces of art. I was also delighted to find out the chocolate fondue is back for dessert. Today, NCL offered a laundry special. Any amount of clothes you can fit into the bag will be washed, dried & folded for $20. Here's a list of some other things available today from the NCL Freestyle Daily: aerobics....etc, country line dancing lessons, ladies night @ the spa ($89 for 2 hrs of pampering!) Jackpot Bingo, Second City show, Beer Fest & country western night, chocoholic buffet, Liars Club with the staff (very funny..try not to miss),Adult Quest Game. We heard from others that during the Quest Game, passengers participated on stage with male & female clothing switch in the dark & it was outrageously funny. Day 6, Friday: Finally woke up to sunshine & no wind! Decided to walk over to Snorkel Park Beach located at the pier. This is a perfect spot for those that just don't want to bother with taking buses & want the convenience of a beach close by. However, it's not as beautiful as Horseshoe. Snorkel Beach is man made. There's no admission charge. You can rent chairs, umbrella, beach toys & snorkel equipment. There's also restrooms a bar & restaurant. The beach is clean & there was plenty of fish to see, even when standing along the shore. We decided since the weather was so nice & we were having such a great time relaxing & talking with fellow passengers at the beach to stay here all day. Got back on the ship around 4 pm, and enjoyed the view sailing out of Bermuda from the promenade deck. We heard that a few people missed the ship including a nun. I sincerely hope that they made it. This evening, we finally made it over to the Salsa restaurant area. We had the best sangria filled with fruit. The glass was so large we ended up bringing it to dinner. We enjoyed complimentary tapas & listened to the trio-Tres Pilotos. Dinner this evening was at Aqua again. At first we tried the Venetian, but there was a long wait. Aqua seems to be the better choice for dinner, serving the same menu with little or no wait. Another lobster combo dinner was offered this evening. Tonight's production show was my favorite: Bollywood. I've seen this show a dozen times & it still captures my attention. It's the best show at sea in my opinion. After the show, there's a farewell event with many of the ship's crew & officers appearing on stage to thank all & say good-bye, along with their rendition of "We Are The World". I couldn't help but feel a little blue when I realized our cruise was just about over. I had met so many wonderful people this week. We attended the "White Hot Party" in Spinnaker Lounge later that evening. You can purchase a tee shirt on board or just remember to pack a white top. The usual dance music with fake snow flakes coming down, special lighting, and glow in the dark strips. Some of the crew, including the cruise director wore angel wings. NCL is trying very hard to create some new ideas.....but....sorry, this didn't work at all, and it wasn't impressive at all. We moved our clocks back tonight & gained an hour sleep. The ship was moving pretty quickly tonight & I enjoyed the movement of ship & was grateful the seas were calm. Here's a list of some other things available today from the NCL Freestyle Daily: aerobics....etc, grandparent's tea party, latitudes get together. Day 7, Saturday: Temperatures today were definitely low but still comfortable enough to enjoy outdoors. We really didn't do much today except relish our last hours on the ship. We packed early so we wouldn't have to worry about it later. This evening we had dinner at the Venetian restaurant, then attended the Crew Talent Show. There are very talented crew members on this ship! This evening in the casino, the piano player, Fabrizio, who usually plays the piano in a very nice open area by the cigar room & martini bar, sang Frank Sinatra style along with the ship's orchestra. We found it entertaining but I'm not so sure those who were playing appreciated the distraction. We placed our luggage out in the hallway by 1 am. The ship was traveling quickly again this evening and the ride was smooth. Actually, regardless of the fact that we left NY with some of tropical storm Kyle still lingering, our entire cruise was extremely smooth. Here's a list of some other things available today from the NCL Freestyle Daily: aerobics....etc, free cruise Bingo, magic lessons, Margarita tasting, question & answer session with the ship's captain & hotel director, Second City Improv, farewell show with the comedian & magician. Day 8, Sunday: We woke up early, had breakfast in the dining room & were off the ship by 9:45 am. There was no wait at all to get off. Many passengers decided to carry their own luggage off and it seemed they were waiting longer than those of us who stayed on the ship a little longer. We had no problem finding our luggage at the terminal, but there was some confusion as to where our car service was going to pick us up. We were on the bottom level & needed to take the elevator up 1 level. Conclusion: I didn't notice much difference with NCL's new menu, and I actually missed some of the items that are no longer offered. The soups were all very good & so were most of the appetizers. Pasta dishes weren't very creative & desserts in the dining room are still all cruise line standard of being just so-so. There's a huge improvement in the Garden Buffet selections & atmosphere. I don't think that I could ever have anything really negative to say about the Norwegian Dawn. The staff continues to be exceptional & they truly want to help make your cruise perfect. Special thanks to Anshuman Sumbli (concierge) who consistently went out of his way to make our week extra special. He is truly devoted to his job & I wish him much success (and at least 1 good night of rest). Thank you also to our room steward-Torro-who kept our room so neat & made us the cute towel animals, John, the asst hotel director, the waiters & waitresses, and Pedro, the Cruise Director. Pedro (who looks a little like Tom Hanks) is a genuinely nice person, has a great sense of humor & we enjoyed our numerous chats with him. We also met many nice passengers this week. We all agreed that the people on this cruise were very friendly and interesting to talk with. I'm already looking into the 2 night cruise to nowhere in May 2009 when I can return to my "home away from home", the Norwegian Dawn. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them! maryann2@comcast.net Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
I cruised on the Dawn August 10-17 to Bermuda with my husband and parents. My husband and I are 30 and 24 respectively...my parents are 48 and 52. My parents cruised once before (with me when I was 14) on Carnival. My husband and I have ... Read More
I cruised on the Dawn August 10-17 to Bermuda with my husband and parents. My husband and I are 30 and 24 respectively...my parents are 48 and 52. My parents cruised once before (with me when I was 14) on Carnival. My husband and I have cruised together twice before, but this was the first NCL cruise for all. Embarkation: We booked a bus transfer with Yankee Trails in upstate NY. If you live in the Albany area, this is an ideal way to get to the pier in NYC. $80 round trip per person, and it drops you directly at the pier—no trains or cabs needed. Driver was very friendly and got us there early—we were at the pier by 10:15am. Check in was a breeze. We were very early so we were sitting in our seats with a boarding number by 10:45. We were first told boarding would begin around 12:15, but were very happy when they actually began around 11:30. You were given a boarding number when you checked in—I'm not sure how these worked because many people that showed up AFTER us got boarding numbers lower than we did. Oh well, it didn't really matter in the end. Rooms: My husband and I were in cabin 4608, oceanview (porthole). It was nothing fancy but very nice with quite a lot of storage space. This was the first cruise where I actually felt the hair dryer on board was powerful enough to be effective...I didn't use my own all week. The bathrooms were definitely more spacious than cruises past...ladies, I could shave my legs comfortably, now THAT is saying something!! Also this is an ideal location...we were right near an elevator, and literally 2 doors down from where you get on/off the ship in Bermuda. My only complaint about the room was that, in the entire 7 days, we did not ONCE meet our room stewards. We were in/out of the room just as much as we have been on other cruises, but they never introduced themselves. I didn't even know their names until we found a little paper tucked on a top shelf that stated them. This made it hard for me to want to pay the daily service charge so that they got tipped. My parents were in cabin 8560, balcony. They loved it, it was really a great room. My husband and I ordered the Bon Voyage gift package for them, which was arranged before they got to the room. It was very festive and came with a cake—they loved it. They really enjoyed their room stewards and enjoyed the advantages that NCL gives balcony guests (robes in the room, and able to book specialty restaurants 48 hrs in advance, instead of 24). Food: We truly became food connoisseurs on this trip! We tried as many restaurants on board as possible. Here's a rundown... -Garden Cafe: This was where lunch was served on Day 1, and we ate breakfast here every day. The selection is good, no complaints there, and we were always able to get a window seat. The only thing is that it is VERY crowded on the first day during lunch...it got very chaotic and stressful at times. NCL should open up more eating options at this time (more on this in a bit). -Venetian Dining Room: 1 of 2 main dining rooms. Very elegant. We ate dinner here once and lunch once. Both times we got a window seat looking out the back of the ship—spectacular. Food was great, service was great. **I have heard many CC members say that the Venetian is open for lunch on the first day. This was NOT the case. We (and several others that heard the rumor) went to the Venetian for lunch upon boarding and were told it would not be opening. They had a staff member stationed there to tell us this. Even when we pushed the issue, they insisted. Not sure if NCL read our reviews and caught on that people were trying to eat there!! -Aqua: 2nd main dining room. We had dinner here twice, and my parents had breakfast here once (they only allow balcony stateroom guests to eat breakfast here, FYI. My parents did see others turned away.). I loved the atmosphere here. Menu is always the same as Venetian. For those that care: lobster night is Monday and Friday in Aqua and Venetian! -Cagney's: The steakhouse, $25 cover. We ate here Sunday night. Amazing food though we were miffed at the $10 extra charge for surf and turf, and other big dishes. Nice atmosphere, we had a window looking over the railing on deck. -Le Bistro: My parents ate here Monday night (we were enjoying lobsters at Aqua). They LOVED it. Said it was very elegant/romantic, excellent service, exceptional food. $25 pp. -Bamboo: We ate the regular Asian fusion menu (not sushi or teppanyaki) on Thursday night. Very good, reminded me of PF Chang's. $15 pp. Teppanyaki is $25. -Salsa: Ate here Friday, Tex-Mex. This was the only day I really felt I had to be ROLLED out of the place...so much good food!! We had more plates on our table than we knew what to do with. Definitely highly recommended. $10 pp. -Blue Lagoon: My family is convinced that there is some sort of addictive illegal substance in the wings here. Of course I kid, but you get what I mean. We each got at least 3-4 plates of wings here during the week, you must try them!! The other food is good as well but the wings are what draws people. It's open 24 hrs too which is great. A note about reservations: we found this process VERY easy. We never had trouble getting a reservation when we wanted it, even if we waited until the day of. I was worried about this beforehand but quickly realized I did not have to be. And, the longest wait we had at Venetian/Aqua was only 20 minutes. Bars/Lounges: There was a wide variety of atmospheres to choose from here. My husband and I favored the laid-back Pearly King's Pub...they also have 3 flat screens where we were able to watch Olympic coverage! Star Bar is very classy, Bernie Martini was often the piano entertainment there and he was awesome. Gatsby's (the champagne bar) was similar. Dazzles is more of a nightclub feel...the high school and college crowd definitely took it over most nights, but we did watch some entertaining karaoke here as well. Only complaint about drink service: the staff on the pool deck pushed the "buy 5 beers, get 1 free" deal WAY TOO HARD. Every staff member asked us if we wanted this, and when we said no, they would keep on by saying, "Are you sure?..." If I say no, I mean no. It was very frustrating. Entertainment: The Dawn had a wide variety of entertainment available. Pedro was the Cruise Director, he was great. The comedian, Dave Heenan, performed 3 times and we really enjoyed him (especially the adult show!). The magician, Greg Gleason, is definitely worth seeing...I left both of his shows completely in awe! We had mixed feelings on the stage shows with the Jean Ann Ryan Company. There were 3 (Band on the Run, South Beach Rave, and Bollywood). Bollywood was the best of the three...because it focused more on dancing than singing. The singing left a lot to be desired, and we actually left the SBR show early because it wasn't very good. Dancing was impressive though. There was a Beatles review show in the Spinnaker lounge one night, this was great. We also attended the Not-So-Newlywed game show on one of the sea days, which made for some great laughs. We missed the first Second City show, but we caught their adult-only show later in the week and it was HILARIOUS. Definitely don't miss it. Other Amenities: As others have said, the Oasis pool (deck 12) gets very crowded, and fast. However, if you don't absolute NEED to have a deck chair near the pool, this is not a problem. We always got great sunny spots at the front of the ship on deck 13, and there were many other options as well. Also some shady spots for the less sun-inclined, mostly on deck 12. There are 4 hot tubs near the Oasis pool, and another adult one at the front of the ship as well. -Casino: Casino is very well-equipped and has a good bar. My husband and I each played $20...he lost it all, and I left with $60, so in the end we won! My only complaint about the casino is that it is VERY smoky...our clothes reeked every time we left. -Salon/Spa/Gym: We did not use these but we walked around a bit, seemed to have many fitness options and a very nice spa. Also good jogging and walking tracks outside. Bermuda: Amazing. There is no other way to describe it! My parents were there once before for their honeymoon, I'd been there twice as part of a marine research trip, and my husband had never been—so we had a lot of interesting perspectives. On Wednesday, we took the ferry to Hamilton. The ferry leaves right from King's Wharf and goes from 8am to 11pm. Very affordable, and only a half hour ride (as compared to the hour-long bus). Dropped us off right on Front Street in Hamilton. We did lots of shopping, visited the Sessions House, Fort Hamilton, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Definitely climb the tower at the cathedral, the views make it worth it!! We ate lunch at the Pickled Onion on Front Street (very good, I had a great veal tortellini). And of course, the people were SO nice. Where in the US can you pull out a map and have a stranger come up and ask if you'd like assistance? Maybe I'm a cynical New Yorker, but I was impressed. We left Hamilton around 4pm and headed back to the ship. FYI, they have a street festival on Front Street on Wednesdays, but we were pretty tired from the day so we didn't stick around. Got dinner at the Frog and Onion Pub at the dockyard (excellent fish and chips, not so great beer), then headed back to the ship. Thursday we rented scooters from Oleander Scooters at the dockyard. These were $85 per scooter and you get them for a full 24 hours. A few notes about scooters: NCL very (very very very) strongly recommends you not use them. This is mainly a liability issue since they approximate 3-10 cruise passengers get hurt on them each cruise. So realize that you are taking that risk if you rent one. Bermudians drive on the left, the roads are narrow, and people will pass you in no-pass zones. That said, it is hands down the BEST way to see the island. I truly believe we got such a better experience in Bermuda this day than anyone that solely used buses/ferries to get around. We were able to explore the island end to end, and even go into some of the less-explored villages. I highly recommend it. We basically drove the island end-to-end, stopping at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (another one that is worth the climb), Church Bay, the Swizzle Inn (had a great lunch here!), St. George's, Somerset Village, Tobacco Bay, and several other spots. We drove past the Crystal Caves and the Botanical Gardens as well. This took us nearly the whole day, we got some amazing photos, and we were exhausted when we got back to King's Wharf—but worth it. This was our best day by far. Friday my parents decided to stick around King's Wharf and explore the Clocktower Mall and Maritime Museum. My husband and I took the bus from the dockyard (buy tickets at the same place where the ferry tickets are) to Horseshoe Bay. We left early (on the 8:45am bus) and were some of the very first people to the beach. This is a great beach, with chair/umbrella rentals, food, bathrooms, etc. It did get a bit crowded at times but it didn't bother us. Be aware that they will not rent umbrellas if it is too windy that day—unfortunately that was the case for us, but we made do. There is also a little side beach here with smaller waves, which was favored by people with young kids. It was an easy bus ride back to the ship—we returned around 3:30 and got ready for the ships' 5pm departure. Debarkation: We opted to do the Express Debarkation—you can leave the ship anytime between 6:45am and 9:15am, as long as you can carry all of your luggage off yourself. My parents got up around 5:45 to get pictures of NYC as we came in. My husband and I slept until 7:00, then we all met for a leisurely breakfast and didn't get off the ship until about 8:45. I really enjoyed this method of debarkation, and it took us less than 10 minutes to get from the ship, through customs, and off to the departure area to meet our transfer. Kudos to NCL for this! All in all—we had a great time. I have to say I think the food was better than any other cruise we've been on. And "freestyling" is great because you really do get maximum flexibility in your schedule each day. My only real complaint is all the charges in the restaurants—I would rather pay more for the cruise up front, than have to pay an extra $10 (when I already paid $25) at a specialty restaurant for food. NCL does seem to nickel-and-dime more than other lines, and I imagine it's because they charge less up front. I heard one little kid say to his dad, "Nothing on this cruise is free. They lied about that." Funny but true! We all agree we would cruise NCL again (and definitely return to Bermuda)!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Our cruise to Bermuda left on Aug. 17th--we arrived via limousine at around noon and quickly entered the ship. Since our stateroom was not ready, we toured the ship and grabbed lunch at the Garden Cafe. The ship was spotless and it is ... Read More
Our cruise to Bermuda left on Aug. 17th--we arrived via limousine at around noon and quickly entered the ship. Since our stateroom was not ready, we toured the ship and grabbed lunch at the Garden Cafe. The ship was spotless and it is amazing that they can turn it around in 8 hours. At around 2 we entered our balcony stateroom--it was neat and clean-balcony contained 2 chairs and a small table, when our luggage arrived (2 large suitcases and a duffel bag, my better half easily stored everything. the bathroom was clean and the stall shower was more than adequate for our needs. A sliding door between the toilet and sink/shower was a nice addition. We then changed and headed to the pool on deck 12. Most of the lounge chairs had already been taken, but with several rows leading to deck 13, we quickly stake out our territory. At 4:30 the ship began its trek to Bermuda. Staff: We found the staff to be courteous and professional. Our cabin attendants anticipated our every need and were fantastic. Food: Most of the time we grabbed breakfast and lunch at the Garden Cafe. There was a wide variety of hot and cold foods to satisfy any appetite. Avoid the "New York Deli" section--unless you like mystery meat--my wife and I could not identify several selections and the turkey did not appear to be breast meat, but the old style turkey rolls. No pastrami or corned beef--Mayor Bloomberg should sue NCL to change the name. Dinners were just ok in the Venetian and Aqua dining rooms--the artwork on display is beautiful. Specialty restaurants (with cover charges): We dined twice in LeBistro--the food and service were perfect--don't miss the escargot--the best I have ever had!!! Cagney's steakhouse was also worth the surcharge--excellent steaks and a wonderful veal chop. We also dined at Salsa-nice Tex-Mex place. The only place that did not live up to expectations was Bamboo--described as "Pan-Asian"--you can get the same food at your local chinese take out place and save the surcharge. All restaurants have an excellent wine list--prices range from $30 to $200+ a bottle. We had an excellent Spanish red (Crianza-$36) on several evenings. Prior to the cruise, we were told to avoid the italian restaurant (Impressions) as it was nothing special, but several people we met thought it was good. The Freestyle dining--eat when you want-no set times--may not be to everyone's liking, but we found it enjoyable. Reservations were easy to obtain and dining in resort casual was great. Activities/Entertainment--The Freestyle Daily list all ship's activities--the usual Bingo, Trivia, Karaoke, art auctions and the like. We preferred to sit by the pool and relax. The musicians playing in the various public areas and lounges were fine. The magician, Greg Gleason was fantastic--we are still trying to figure out how he did some of his tricks. Dave Heenan the comedian, kept us in stitches--he was great. they also have a group of performers from Second City--their show was ok. The production shows featured the Jean Ryan dancers--their big show was "Bollywood" and was very entertaining. All in all we thought the shows were very entertaining. BERMUDA We docked at King's Wharf Bermuda on Wednesday, August 20th. We took the ferry to St. Georges, a bus to Hamilton and another bus back to the dockyard. The houses are pretty, prices are expensive and there are no bargains to be found. I fished on Thursday while the better half went to the spa. 40 fisherman, 1 fish caught in two hours, but an enjoyable morning nonetheless. In the afternoon, we went to Horseshoe bay, which is rated one of the top beaches in the world--it was nice. Most of the beaches are small--there were lifeguards and a place to rent chairs/umbrellas, restrooms and a place to get drinks and snacks. Took a sunset catamaran cruise--which was very relaxing, helped in part by the "free" rum swizzles. On our last day in port, we took a tour of the island, including stops at the Bermuda Aquarium (small but nice) and the Crystal Caves which was awesome. The ship left promptly at 5pm and we heard that 3 passengers did not make it. In summary, a very relaxing trip! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This is my first time on the Dawn. We were a big party of 15 people, both children and adults. All of us had inner, no frills cabins, and were very happy with the accommodations. Departure: Very easy to get on the ship. By 12:30 ... Read More
This is my first time on the Dawn. We were a big party of 15 people, both children and adults. All of us had inner, no frills cabins, and were very happy with the accommodations. Departure: Very easy to get on the ship. By 12:30 we had all met in the dining room of the Venetian and had a nice lunch with a beautiful view of Manhattan. The food was a B+ and the service was an A. The staff was very friendly and accommodating to our group of 15. After lunch, we toured our cabins. Our cabin was very clean. The carpet was a bit worn, but that was like that throughout the hallway. We unpacked and toured the ship. By 4:00pm we were cruising, enjoying the sites of NYC, and having a few drinks. Dinner on night was was very hectic. The wait for the Venetian and Aqua was too long so we had dinner at the Garden Cafe. This was a full ship, and also the first night, so I wasn't put off by the crowds. The dinner at the Garden Cafe was very good. First cruise day - spent a lot of it at the T-Rex pool with the kids. It's a crowded area, but we had seats at the hot tub area. My only complaint is really with the parents. Many parents did not watch their children. I saw a brother beating up on his sister and brother and they left crying in search of their mother. Limited staff at the pool. Throughout the cruise, many parents were very lax with their children, not watching them, not preventing bad behavior, not correcting bad behavior. I even saw a mother drop off her 9 year old daughter at the Stardust Theatre alone to watch a show. This same mother drank herself through this cruise, and I even saw her tell her daughter to 'shut up'. Other parents let their children run wild and I saw many underage kids drunk. This was the worst part of my cruise. In addition to parents not watching their children, I encountered many 'adults' who were loud, rude, and obnoxious. The poor staff had to put up with these people all the time, throughout the whole summer. I felt for the staff. Dinner that night was at the Venetian. My BIL did not like the service and complained to the Asst. Maitre D. Mr. Malik. Not only did we receive improved service, but this continued throughout the entire cruise and we were treated great. The next night, they had set aside special tables for us and we had dedicated servers. Mr. Malik is a true professional and went out of his way with his staff to make the cruise a great experience. He also sent my sister and BIL a bottle of wine, two plates of chocolate strawberries, and a plate of hors deouvers (sp) to their cabin. Truly first class man. Another incident. I got injured by some doors near the Blue Lagoon Cafe. The waitress a true gem and got me ice, patted my arm, and called security. I was wheeled to the infirmary for treatment and not charged. The cruise line handle me with professionalism , care and compassion. All in all, a great cruise. I rate the food a B+ to an A. We ate at the Venetian (beautiful dining room), Aqua (contemporary & pretty), and the Garden Cafe. We bought the teen smoothie book and used it throughout our cruise for smoothies and sodas. Very much worth its value and they took the drink coupons from teens, as well as adults and children. The staff was exceptional and very professional. They represent 61 countries and were very helpful and friendly. Making dinner reservations for the Venetian or Aqua was very easy and we had no problems to accommodate our group of 15. Loved the game room and library. Clean and comfortable rooms. The main pool area was always crowded, but you can find quieter areas near the main pool. Beware of worn flip flops...tripping hazards by the pool due to wet pavement! The shows were very good, too. Saw Gleason the Magician (excellent) and Bollywood (also excellent). Bermuda was beautiful. Check out Warwick Bay Beach...a beautiful, secluded gem. Loved the bus system. Very expensive for souvenirs, but I have photos to remind me of our wonderful stay. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
CRUISE: NCL Dawn 7 day to Bermuda August 24-31/08 HISTORY: 4th cruise all with NCL, 2nd on Dawn. Traveling 4 myself 48, wife 50, daughter 21, daughter 19 all in 1 inside cabin deck 10. NYC: We live just outside ... Read More
CRUISE: NCL Dawn 7 day to Bermuda August 24-31/08 HISTORY: 4th cruise all with NCL, 2nd on Dawn. Traveling 4 myself 48, wife 50, daughter 21, daughter 19 all in 1 inside cabin deck 10. NYC: We live just outside of Niagara Falls ON just over the Canada/US border. We traveled by Amtrak from Niagara Falls NY to Penn station the day prior to cruise. Stayed mid town Times Square Marriott, one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed at. Took short cab ride 7 minutes to the pier, fare was $ 6.50. Once again enjoyed our time in NYC, the city offers so much, and we have available so little time. EMBARKATION: The quickest, easiest embarkation we have ever experienced. Arrived at the pier at approx 11:15 and were on board prior to noon. It was a nice touch to receive that day's Freestyle daily in the cruise terminal prior to boarding. We were warmly greeted with a waiting glass of champagne ( O.J. is also available) Explored the ship a little, tried to get into Venetian for lunch however it was closed due to some function - there was a double wedding ceremony taking place in Spinnakers so assume that is why Venetian was not available Settled for lunch in the Garden cafe, by this time tables were impossible to find but we did find a table out at the pool deck. Rooms were available approx at 1:45. Through the roll call for this cruise we had all agreed to wear Mardi gras beads to help identify one another. This did work as we met a few from the roll call. Many staff asked us about the beads as they stated seeing many boarding passengers with them. SHIP/CABIN: Having sailed 3 times previous we have learned 2 things. To pack a little less and how to arrange the cabin to make it work for 4 adults. We must have done something right because the cabin felt like it had more moving around room. Our room stewards never formally introduced themselves to us, something they went out of the way to do on our previous GEM cruise. But we did see them many times in the hallway and they were pleasant but quiet. They kept the room relatively clean (it could have used more vacuuming) was always well stocked with towels and was always prepared for either the day or night. The ship in itself is very clean, they were always vacuuming stairs, polishing hand railings, cleaning the public bathrooms etc. The ship is a little tricky to move around in, there are a few dead ends, but there are maps and signs everywhere and if you read them you have no problems. STAFF: The staff was pleasant enough and for the most part efficient however to me they appeared a little tired. I believe this was due to two things. This cruise was the last one of the season to Bermuda, and I think they were looking forward to a change of scenery and it was also the last cruise of the summer season. There were over 700 children onboard. The children for the most part were well behaved but they did cause extra work, many times there were spills in the Garden cafe, in the elevators, etc. that the staff was constantly having to clean up. The CD was Pedro who we met at the Meet & Greet. He was very engaging and recognized us throughout the cruise and often engaged us in conversation. We saw him at every function however he was at his funniest and most relaxed at the Liars Club show. Between himself and the Comedian Dave Heehan they almost turned the Liars Club into a Just for Laughs festival and we laughed harder here than at any other event. FOOD/RESTAURANTS: Food is always the most subjective of areas. We have fairly neutral tastes, generally liking anything we don't have to prepare, cook or clean up after ward. We ate 1 dinner at a specialty restaurant. We feel we can cruise more often if we keep our onboard expenses relatively low. Therefore since we have already basically paid for meals why pay more. That being said Impressions was very good, the food excellent and service very good. However we don't think we will do this in the future. We ate the rest of dinners in either Venetian or Aqua and the food was always very good. Selection excellent. Twice they served Lobster tails. Now the tails are not very big and I asked for and received a second tail both nights. Service was better, more efficient and quicker in the Aqua then in the Venetian. Sometimes it was painfully slow in the Venetian. We generally ate prior to 6:30 and had little trouble getting a table. One evening after attending the Latitudes reception which did not get out until after 6:30 we found ourselves in the middle of the rush for seating. Both the Venetian and Aqua were backed up considerably and we reluctantly opted for the Garden cafe. The food was OK, a table was easy to find, but this was not our first choice for dinner. We ate most of our lunches in the Venetian and the selection was very good and the service generally quicker. The Garden cafe was the choice each morning for breakfast. The food again was very good with a wide variety of choices. The omelet station and waffle station sometimes had long lines but the staff manning them were very efficient and the line moved quite quickly. We sometimes had to look hard but we always found a table for the four of us. Blue Lagoon has some of the best wings I have ever had, and that is saying something as we live a stones throw from the wing capital - Buffalo and have enjoyed many a sampling in the area. Serve was very quick at Blue Lagoon. Drink prices were comparable to back home, and cheaper than many tourist areas and attractions we have experienced. Drinks did include an automatic 15% tip added on. ENTERTAINMENT: My only complaint is I wasn't able to clone myself to take in all of the entrainment they had going on during this cruise. The musical entertain was second to none on this cruise. Most evenings we enjoyed the FANTASTIC DUO of Jose & Patti in Dazzles Lounge. If you remotely like Neil Diamond do not miss their tribute show. One evening this duo decided to perform 1 song from each of the 1930's, 40's 50's 60's 70's 80's 90's and 2000's. How many music acts do you know that have that kind of range. Sounds Bytes were also very good in Spinnakers as was Angel Magaso in the Pearly King's Pub. Dave Heenan we found was funnier this time than on a previous cruise. The Magic of Greg Gleason was the same as previously seen on a another cruise and wasn't much better the second time around. The troupe from Second City had some funny moments but was generally weaker than other Second City troupes we have seen. We did not catch any of the Jean Ryan Dance group as we had seem the shows previously. We did enjoy morning trivia, dance lessons and the games shows. With the introduction of Freestyle 2.0 there is some entertainment changes: there is no long the New Years eve party this has been replaced with White Hot Nights. This appeared to be a hit with the younger crowd, even thought I did stick my head in for a while. One thing I found strange was that they scheduled the deck party for the same night NCL sponsored a street party in Bermuda. Because of this the deck party was very poorly attended as was a western theme night the next night. There were no pool games or activities at all, perhaps a victim of freestyle 2.0. AMENITIES: The pool is small and usually very crowded though one late afternoon in Bermuda when most people were ashore we did get into the pool. The Dawn does offer extra pool side seating with its tiered seating area, and we could usually find a seat in this area, however NCL does need to do a better job of enforcing its policy of not hogging lounge chairs. Traveling with 3 women in 1 cabin sharing 1 bathroom they treat me to a week at the spa. This way I can shower etc there and free up the cabin bathroom for them. Little do they know this is quite the treat for me. Each day at around 4:00 or 4:30 I would go to the spa for approx 1 ½ hours. At this time it was never very crowded, sometimes there was only myself and 2 or 3 others there. Each day I would do some laps in the pool and at the end of the week I had my time down to where I could challenge Michael Phelps. That's of course if he gave me a 5 lap head start in a 6 lap race. I also enjoyed the hot tub and thermo pool each day, and completed my stay with a nice shower and my own private, enormous change room. The gym was well equipped and was never over crowded. BERMUDA: Perhaps the most beautiful, friendliest Island we have ever been to. Living on the Great Lakes it saddens me to see what water should really look like. Bermand has the most pristine, cleanest water I have ever seem. My 19 year old and I enjoyed an amazing snorkel excursion to a reef and ship wreck. It was unbelievable. The bus /ferry system cost $12 for a day pass, $20 for 2 days & $ 28 for 3 days and is easy to use My only complaint about Bermuda is that being docked at King's Wharf/ The Dockyard everything is a minimum of 1 hour away. This does add considerably to your travel time to and from. St. Catharines beach was very nice and had some very good snorkeling. THINGS I WOULD CHANGE IF I WAS THE CEO OF NCL: Change the Jean Ryan dance group into either new shows or a different type of entertainment. Do not have the Latitudes reception at 5:30. NCL wants people to attend as this is generally a sales presentation but by the time you get out you're smack in the middle of the dinner rush, schedule this for 3 or 4 o'clock. Have the deck party on the night prior to arriving in Bermuda as to conflict with Island activities. Have every room attendant introduce themselves or at least leave a card with names and contact information. CONCLUSION: Of course the experiences above are ours alone, there were over 2500 passengers on this cruise and each had a different experience. The changes I mention above were minor and did not effective the overall enjoyment of the cruise. We had a fantastic time on our 4th NCL cruise. The saddest day of a cruise is disembarkation day (which we choose express and were off by 8:00 a.m. - only because of transportation arrangements). The next day is little brighter as we begin to look forward to cruise #5 : December 27 on the Gem. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We sailed out of N.Y. on Sun. 7-6-08 on NCL dawn.Our group of 23 ranged in age from 13 to 80+.We had first time cruisers and veteran cruisers. We occupied cabins8017,8019,8021, 8139 ,8151, 8153,8155, 8157, 8159 and mine 8161.This is my 7th ... Read More
We sailed out of N.Y. on Sun. 7-6-08 on NCL dawn.Our group of 23 ranged in age from 13 to 80+.We had first time cruisers and veteran cruisers. We occupied cabins8017,8019,8021, 8139 ,8151, 8153,8155, 8157, 8159 and mine 8161.This is my 7th cruise . It was just my husband and I. We are in our mid 40`s traveling with a bunch of friends. Three came with families ( teens), some singles, some widows and widowers, in-laws and scuba fanatics. We were a mixed bunch . Leaving from the NY port was disorganized , long lines going in ,no baggage carriers at first, the lines inside were changed as two ships were both leaving .Once with NCL we could relax with our comp. Champagne. The Venetian was not open till 5:30 p.m. we waited outside of it to make sure. The buffet was open .We waited and ate at the Venetian. This was my first time doing freestyle. Our group had mixed reviews. The veteran cruiser prefers the scheduled meal times and would have liked us all to be at dinner at the same time. We were able to get reservations at Cagney`s****($20pp cover-groups should use the coupon in your coupon book it`s only good for the first night). The first thing we did on the ship was rush to book this and we had to eat at 9pm.We did groups of 14 -21 two other nights at 7 p.m..We booked last minute and only had a 10 minute wait for one night at the Venetian*** and 3 separate tables near each other for the other night at the Aqua***. I did not mind at all and on all three nights had early dinners at other restaurants at 5:30 p.m.(Yes I am an eating machine! see my food critic reviews below).Most of our group liked picking when and where to eat and going their own way. On our previous RCL cruise the kids and teens ate at Johnny Rockets every night and that had a small cover charge$$$. Here the kids and some grown ups ate at Blue Lagoon** for a similar food type and had the Salsa bar rstrnt *** , Bimini grill, pool side BBQ`s , sprinkles ice cream** (NO sprinkles just ice cream)and Garden Cafe buffet and N.Y. Deli as other no cover charge options. We also ate 2 nights at Le Bistro**** ($15 pp cover charge)(see anniversary / honeymoon package below). Others in the group ate at Impressions for Italian(cover charge $10) and hated it. No one ate at the Asian restaurants Bamboo &sushi bar and Teppanyaki (varied cover charge).A large part of our group ate at the Garden Cafe buffet as this was a very informal venue- they said it was very good. I did hear a lot of other passengers complaining that Free Style was not as free as they would have liked --it was mostly about the dress code. Certain restaurants required no shorts ,tanks or tee-shirts at Dinner. You did not need a jacket and tie --but could wear them if your wife forced you to because she likes to dress up (I was the only one on the ship in a beaded gown-poor Hubby). There were always informal restaurants to choose from so if you hate to wear pants ask before you make a reservation especially at the cover charge restaurants because canceled reservations are charged the cover for two if not canceled before 4:30 p.m. You don`t need to make reservations for most restaurants , menus are posted outside each one with the dress code so explore and pick what you like. The ship was colorful and well laid out once you realize what floors to avoid as you can`t walk fore to aft on certain floors( just go one up or down). The restaurants went from elegant to fun in their decor. The Atrium was beautiful .The pool area was crowded and our sun bathing teens had trouble getting a lounge. We used the hot tub on a port day to relax and had it to ourselves. Our gamblers liked the casino but certificate raffle winners beware :two people won free entries to tournaments but missed them as no time was posted on them- ASK when you win them. The Galleria gift shop holds lot`s of raffles - hold on to your receipts and get raffle tickets when you make purchases even in the atrium(they forget to give them to you-and miss print drawing times so ask).You must be present to win so on "fill in raffles" only put "family name" down so any one in your cabin can go and beware they overlap with all the other things you can choose to do or not do (a high lighter came in helpful to mark what we liked in the dailies ). The costume jewelry and t-shirts were a good buy .Free Liquor tasting was fun (if buying it`s one liter per person now) I liked it so much I was asked if I`d like a bowl!!No one used the gym but the massage service was very good. We loved the art gallery auctions and free champagne(-I would make mimosas with my O.J.) We are not art buffs normally but loved the auctions it`s fun even while not bidding. The "not so newlywed game" was fun, the Bollywood show ***, The second city shows were enjoyed by some of our group as was the Gleason`s magic show ,the others got fair to poor reviews .The cruise director was very friendly "drop your pancakes and sausages" the staff was very friendly and very helpful 95% of the time. Some of them were outstanding. All in all a very nice ship. Our cabins were very nice. Though ours and 8159 had a lot of noise coming from above us (lot`s of kids or a mech. Room???) I loved the sliding glass door on the shower. If you bring lot`s of toiletries try an over the door shoe holder to hold your tubes and bottles but there is an adequate shelf for those with a normal amount of "stuff".Bring a blow dryer if you don`t want to use their wimpy one. Bring a multi plug or power bar if you have lot`s to plug in. Ask for an egg crate for on the mattress if you need one I have a bad back and I did. I also brought extra plastic slacks hangers as I bring a lot of clothes. The draws held our under and bed garments and hair brushes, curling iron and blow dryer (the plug is on the vanity in the room not in the bathroom). Bring an alarm clock as there is no clock in the room. We also brought a collapsible cooler and garbage bags to line it as we like lot`s of ice our steward kept it filled and emptied it when it needed it .We brought large plastic cups for water, orange juice and cranberry juice and for my husband to use with his soda card. They do not want you to fill sport bottles as it is a health issue???At first we had trouble using the cups but I spoke to the head of food & beverage and he said he would speak to the staff and we never had trouble again. Usually you get a cup when you buy the soda card but do to the upgrade to 2.0 the new cups were not in yet . They would be adequate for a normal drinker but we drink 10 - 20 glasses a day. If you like O.J .& cran. Other than in the morning stock up at bkft and put it in your frig. Or cooler. Have your steward empty your frig of it`s stock so you have room. The frig. Is small. When taking food back to your room that you will put in the frig. Ask for the food on a small plate w/ wrap on it (there regular size plates are too big.).I always ask for desserts to go if I am full and enjoy 2 later when hungry. Port of call :.We docked at King`s Wharf in Bermuda. Leaving the ship and getting back on was a breeze. We would come back to the ship for lunch and dinner. We got the transportation pass for 2 days ($20pp).The bus ride (ours had A.C.) to Hamilton was like a tour: try not to get on a crowded one (they stop and pick up passengers along the way). Beware they drive fast!!We shopped on front street ** and later went to the street fair(only Wed. night) for more shopping **.We took the ferry back to King`s Wharf (25 min.) and enjoyed the views and A.C.= very nice boats. Our 2nd port day we took the ferry to St .George (45 min.) we walked around then took the bus to the Crystal caves( $46 for 2 for both caves) If you can only do one cave pick the fantasy cave (more color less broken stalactites). Then we ate at Baily`s Ice cream parlor *** ($10 for 2 two scoops w/ choc. Cone).Then we had a frozen Rum Swizzle at the Swizzle Inn ($17 + $3 tip).Then we were off to a beach. We hate crowds so we picked John Smith Bay (Jobsons cove was our 2nd choice).It was secluded and lovely, surrounded by hills and trees with grassy knolls and bordered by dark coral reefs. Then we took the bus back to ST .George to see the perfume factory (last tour is 4:30 p.m.).and Somers garden **.Then the ferry back to K.W. to the ship. Our last day we booked the "Restless Native Catamaran"***($89pp)-the cookies and rum swizzles and cheese and crackers were great and our snorkel lovers enjoyed it.Maureen S. did an excellent job as our tour guide. We then checked out the mall* (you can buy Bermuda perfume here ) ,the glass factory *** and the Rum Cake factory **(check around for prices we found it cheaper down the road). Some of our group who did not get the transportation passes hated being docked at King`s Wharf and would never cruise to that port again. We had no trouble getting all over the island and enjoyed having 3 days at one port so we never had to rush back to the ship. Plus the ships docked at the other port had to leave 1 day early due to Bertha. I liked freestyle and would bring my 14 and 18 year old on an NCL cruise (it`s better then RCL for teens). I took advantage of NCL`s future cruise program to save on per person deposits ($250 per cabin instead of $250 per person) we got a $100 shipboard credit on this cruise and can book within 12 months for as far away as 30 months (7-12-09 to book and 1-12-11 to sail). It is also fully refundable (W/I 30 days) so if I change my mind I get my $150 back. If I do keep it I get the whole $250 deposit off my future cruise( and the previously spent $100 credit.). I hope this review was helpful. I am trying Princess Cruises next in Sept. w\ my Mom. Then NCL again with the kids. About the Honeymoon/Anniversary PKG: 1.Sparkling wine & choc. Covered strawberries in cabin 1st day *** 2.dinner for 2 at Le Bistro w/ bottle of red or white table wine **** 3.Champagne & cake party Tue 4 p.m.*** 4.5x7 portrait taken at cake party (they take a few) *** 5.canapes to cabin Fri.btwn 5-6 pm *** all this for $89 call travel agent 2 weeks before to book Food review BKFT: Venetian: eggs benedict w/ extra Canadian bacon extra hollandaise **** 3 out of 4 days * 1 day hash brown potatoes, corned beef hash(real not canned),bacon, french toast, sausage, bagel- all rated**** LUNCH : Sun: Buffet garden café: roast beef * lamb** Mon:Venetian:.sweet&sour grouper fried rice***steak sandwich*** Tue:udon noodles prawns & pork ***veg.fried rice **** calamari**pastrami sand *** Wed:Blue Lagoon: Hotwings*** Panini**Fish n chips***Fries*** Thur: Ate in Bermuda Fri:Venetian:fish n chips *** udon noodle w/ scallops** broc. Ced. Soup** BBQ wings*** Sat: Blue lagoon: fish n chips *** wanton soup*** wings*** Fries***hamburger*** DINNER:SUN:Venetian: tart**** soup****Jerk chicken**** CAGNEYS group review:crabcake**** Portabella Mushroom W/crabmeat****Lobster bisque soup* ceaser salad*** prime rib****lobster tail($10 more)****garlic mash potato***T bone *** Cagney fries**** onion rings*** filet mignon*** wedge salad****Cag.chef salad**** shrimp cocktail*** clam chowder**creamed spinach* Cheesecake**** Lockwood and Orville were Fantabulous waiters MON:Venetian:lobster*** sirloin steak** beef wellington*tortellini** chicken*** salmon*** TUE:Le Bistro: escargot***onion soup*** cream mushroom soup in bread bowl*** seared scallops**** lamb chops****sirloin steak for 2($10pp=$20)***(not worth extra$$) crepes suz.***choc. Napoleon***anniversary cake** WED:Venetian:spring roll*chilled avocado shrimp soup** prime rib****Tilapia w/jasmine rice **quesadilla*** cappuccino mousse in choc.cup**** THUR:Aqua:artichoke salad***scallops***cauliflower soup***duck salad*flounder***beef stroganoff***sirloinsteak***farfarel sausage &peppers**peanutbutter pie***bavarian cream* CHOCOLATE BUFFET:in Garden Café got on line at 9:40 opened at 10 PM ** FRI:Salsa:Beef fajita***ribs***pork spring roll*** nacho grande*** Venetian:lobster w/shrimp scallops snapper & mussels over pasta*** SAT:LeBistro: scallops**** onion soup**** rack lamb**** assorted wursts*** Cappuccino is available for free at Bkft, Lunch and Dinner Check Daily for drink specials:$4.95 Margarita, 2 for 1 Martini, Refills on daily special drink are less, and if you like wine with dinner bring on your own large bottle for the $15 corking fee (must pay even if you uncork it)they hold it and you just request it at any restaurant or you can keep it in your room. RATINGS *poor - fair **OK ***good ****excellent Over all the food was *** The secret to not gaining a ton is using the stairs instead of the elevator. Sweet Sailings! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was my third time to Bermuda - with three different cruise lines. Although we thought we only could go with Celebrity, Celebrity does not offer Bermuda from NY any more. We read lots of reviews and figured we'd give NCL a try. I ... Read More
This was my third time to Bermuda - with three different cruise lines. Although we thought we only could go with Celebrity, Celebrity does not offer Bermuda from NY any more. We read lots of reviews and figured we'd give NCL a try. I can't stress enough how smooth everything was from the time we checked in, had our champagne toast as we boarded, and found our way around the ship. This did take a few days to figure out. It is not necessary to eat in any of the specialty restaurants since the Venetian offered great food. We did try Salsa (nothing special) and LeBistro (very good). If I go back again, I will not go to any specialty restaurant. The longest we had to wait was maybe 30 mins, but we hung out in Pearly's Pub and had a drink beforehand. It became our meeting spot since we were with a group of 10. I preferred the buffet for breakfast and lunch because I can get a little impatient waiting for food. For those meals, it was better to pick a little of everything I wanted. They had a fresh waffle station and fresh egg station - it was great. It was nice to have a non-hurried dinner and some nights it took almost 2 hours. Of course, my family are big eaters and had 2 - 3 appetizers and entrEes at every meal. The servers were happy to serve you as many as you wanted. My brother had 3 servings of the pecan crusted snapper which was EXCELLENT. The Venetian also had lobster tails on Tuesday and Friday and you could order more than one of them also. Deserts were also excellent - look for the coconut rice pudding. Entertainment was great. Dave the comedian was so funny and it was nice to see him mingle with passengers around the ship. We even met him hailing a cab after the cruise in NYC. The Bollywood show cannot be missed and I have a new admiration for Elton John because Jeff played one mean piano. I prefer to sit up close so we got to the shows about 30 mins prior. Great cruise, great service, no complaints - except of course saying goodbye to Bermuda. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Embarkation: My family (Myself, 21year old male, my brother, 18, my sister, 11 and my parents) drove from right outside Philadelphia (West Chester, PA) to NYC in our own car. We got to the pier in NYC around 10:00am. There was a lot of ... Read More
Embarkation: My family (Myself, 21year old male, my brother, 18, my sister, 11 and my parents) drove from right outside Philadelphia (West Chester, PA) to NYC in our own car. We got to the pier in NYC around 10:00am. There was a lot of traffic by the pier, mostly because the Norwegian Spirit and Dawn were still disembarking, and a lot of new people were trying to drop their bags off and park. No help came to our car to help us with our bags, so my father and I grabbed everything out ourselves and brought the bags inside the terminal, were we handed the bags to a porter who took them from there. Parking was very easy right above the pier ($30/day), and we quickly moved down to the check-in area. We embarked at pier 92, it was pretty dirty inside, and at the time there was no special Latitudes check-in area. We only had to wait about 5 minutes or so, and the most miserable woman I think I've ever met helped us. She was rude, and messed up our embarkation cards (my father and I have the same name.). We got seated in about the sixth row back in the embarkation hall. The "boarding time" in the hall said 1:00pm, but we were through security and on the ship by about 12:30pm. I was kind of disappointed that there was no food or drink being served by NCL. In the past, they have had free coffee, water, snacks, etc. I first noticed my card was messed up when we boarded the Dawn, and my father's picture showed up when they scanned my card instead of my own picture. We went to the front desk, and they were very nice in fixing everything. We went to Venetian for lunch, and then it was time to go to our staterooms. We had two very nice room stewards on Deck 9. They were great and always made sure to ask how we were doing. The sailaway party was great. It was very, very hot outside but the atmosphere and sights were amazing. You really can't beat sailing out from NYC. We went to Aqua for dinner, because there was a huge hold up in Venetian around 7:30pm. It seemed like everyone on the ship was trying to get to dinner at the same time. Day 1 at Sea: A very relaxing day mostly sent poolside reading and getting the occasional drink. Great weather all day long. I attended to Cruise Critic M&G, which was very fun. Ate a delicious meal at Cagney's and went to the "Band on the Run" show at nighttime followed by some Casino and watching some karaoke. Day 2 at Sea: Another awesome day outside with little to no wind. Since they really don't need two sea days to get from NYC to Bermuda, the ship only was averaging 11-12 knots. A slight breeze at times, but I don't think I felt the ship rock once during these two days at sea. I went to Salsa (no cover charge) for dinner and it was very good. I then attended Monte Carlo night, where I donated some money to the Casino, but at least I was getting free drinks with my Player's Card. Yes, the drinks are FREE (limited menu) when you are playing tables or slots. (Much easier to get a drink when playing tables though.) Be sure to bring some tipping money. I tipped the usual $1/drink. At night I went to the 70's party in the Spinnaker and I had a great time. King's Wharf, Bermuda (Day 1): By the time I woke up for breakfast at 8:30am we were already docked. We bought the 3-Day ferry/bus pass (Tip: CASH ONLY). It was very reasonable, and Bermuda is so easy to get around. It is defiantly my favorite port of call, although a little on the expensive side. On this day I took a ferry with my family into Hamilton (About a 25 minute trip) we walked Front Street for a little bit, then we took a bus from the Bus Depot to the West End. The beaches are amazing, but I don't understand why so many people always flock to Horseshoe Bay when there is 10 equally beautiful beaches right next door. I was back onboard by 4:30pm or so to sit by the pool and enjoy a drink. Another relaxing late afternoon by the pool then we were off to Impressions for dinner. The South Beach Show followed this, and it was very entertaining. . I went to the late night adult comedy show with my brother in the Spinnaker at 11:30pm and I had a great time. Around this time I had a letter on my cabin door stating that my brother, my sister, and me were chosen to eat with the Staff Captain, and my parent's were chosen to eat with the Captain. I entered our cabin number's in the "Random drawing" at the Cruise Critic M&G. A lot of fellow Cruise Critic members were chosen to eat with other officers as well. King's Wharf, Bermuda (Day 2): I bought my parent's a golf outing at Tucker's Point for Mother's/Father's day, so I took my brother and sister into St. George's (45 minutes by ferry). We walked the town a little bit then went over to Tobacco by and St. Catherine's beach. (About a 15-minute walk from St. George's.) We had a relaxing day on the beach. I went on a 45 minute "Wave Runner Tour" with my sister. It was $80 total for the both of us, and someone escorted us (also on a wave runner) from St. Catherine's beach, into St. George's Harbor, and into another smaller Harbor. The sights were AMAZING! We saw beautiful beaches, Loggerhead turtles, and we got to wave run right near the Norwegian Dream and Majesty who were docked at St. George. Well worth the money, and those wave runner's are so fun to drive!! We took the ferry back to the ship and were again back onboard by 4:30pm. We got a bite to eat at Blue Lagoon (PACKED around this time on port days.). Dining with the Staff Captain was great. It was an experience that I will not forget and there were two other women at my table who were a delight to eat with. The wine & beer was on NCL. What a great time! I just went to watch some Karaoke in the evening, and had a fun night. King's Wharf, Bermuda (Day 3): On this day I again took the ferry over to St. George's and got a taxi to go to the original Swizzle Inn. ($18 total) I had my Rum Swizzle and a few appetizers, and then we took the "scenic route" back to the ship by taking a public bus all the way to Hamilton. We walked around Hamilton for a little while, and then we were back onboard the ship by 3:00pm. My dad and I enjoyed watching people run back to the ship at 4:30pm, and we were off by 5pm. It got really windy, but it was a great afternoon. I went to Venetian again for dinner and had an OK dinner service. Right after dinner, I went to the White Hot Party, and went to see Jose and Patti and some Karaoke again. I noticed the ship really picking up speed. There was a little bit of rocking, but nothing bad whatsoever. We were averaging about 19 knots on the way back to NYC. 3rd Day at Sea: Another relaxing day on the sea spent mostly poolside. I had my usually couple of drinks and just relaxed. I went to the International Crew Show in the Spinnaker, and really enjoyed it. My parents were asked to come have a drink in an Owner's Suite, and of course I tagged along. The suite was awesome. Beautifully decorated and extremely spacious. For our final dinner we went to Cagney's again. We had another great dinner service. We ate pretty late, so I did not get the chance to attend the Farewell Show. I had a few drinks at the bar, but went to bed pretty early. Disembarkation Day, NYC: I woke up around 6:30am to watch us pull into NYC. It was very overcast out, but the sights were great. We pulled into the Pier at 8:00am on the dot. I had on final breakfast in the Venetian (The buffet was PACKED) and the waited in Salsa for our luggage tag to be called. Norwegian lets you choose the time you get off the ship, which is a real plus. (Tip: The line for the Express Walk Off must have been the length of the whole entire ship. Just choose a luggage tag color, much easier!) We had to walk from pier 88 to pier 92 were our car was parked, but it was easy getting out of NYC, and we were back home in West Chester, PA by 12:30pm. Restaurant Mini-Reviews: Venetian: Breakfast: Typical menu, everything cooked to order, service is a little bit slow, and some days it took some waiting to get your food. Lunch: Hit or miss, either I really liked a few things on the menu, or I hated everything, in which case I went to the buffet. Dinner: I only ate here twice for dinner during the whole cruise. Service was OK and so was the food. I think NCL's specialty restaurants blow this place out of the water (Service, Speed, and Food wise). Aqua: I only ate here once for dinner. The atmosphere was much more intimate and dark then that of Venetian, which was more open and loud. If you want a little bit more intimate setting this is the place to go. The only thing I noticed is that Aqua and Venetian had similar but different menus. I didn't figure this out till about the fourth day of the cruise, so check of both menus before you dine! Cagney's: My personal favorite. $20 cover is a little bit hefty, but it is worth every penny. I loved all of their food on that menu. Great intimate setting, quiet, and good service. This restaurant cannot be beat. Salsa: Great Mexican food with a great atmosphere. A very open restaurant overlooking the grand atrium. The one thing I liked about this was a live "Mexican Music" style band that played all throughout dinner. Impressions: Great food for the low surcharge ($10). Beats out the main restaurant by far, and I am a huge Italian Food fan, so this place was great. Also much more quiet then the main restaurant. I did notice that the menu DRASTICALLY changed from that of the Norwegian Sun's Italian restaurant when I was onboard in March, 2008. I think it's a bit of a downgraded menu, but the food is still great. Blue Lagoon: 24 Hour Food=Awesome. Typical snack foods. I noticed it was very understaffed, and the staff didn't seem to enjoy being servers there. The food came out pretty quick though, and I usually went down around 5pm to get some wings to bring up by the pool bar. I noticed the Buffalo wings and the Fish and Chips have changed since I was on the NCL Sun. The wings were much much bigger, and instead of getting "fish sticks" you got one large piece of breaded fish. Bimini Bar & Grill: Burgers, Hot Dogs, French Fries just about all day long. A good hangout in the late afternoon if you want to get out of the sun. They had awesome soft pretzels! Garden Cafe (Buffet): Much better food then I have had in the past at NCL buffets. Lots of selections to please just about any taste. I'm not really much of a buffet person for any meal, so I really only came in here for a quick snack or sandwich. Poolside BBQ: Typical BBQ foods everyday. They did seem to have one "specialty item" everyday. One day there was PPQ pork, and another day they were grilling up Ribs. Public Areas: All of the public areas were all very clean. My least favorite was the Pearly King's Pub. It is kind of in a bad spot, and I never noticed a crowd there. If you plan to go to the pool, get there early! It fills up very fast! The Dawn is beautiful overall. Entertainment: Jean Ann Ryan Company: "Band on the Run" was my personal favorite show. Their "South Beach Rave" was also very good. I did not attend the first day's "Here's What's to Come Show" so I cannot comment here. I also did not attend "Bollywood" The singers and dancers are extremely talented, and are great to watch. 70's Party: My personal favorite of the cruise, the live music by Sound Bytes was great, and a lot of people were dancing all night long. Sound Bytes: A great (all Filipino) band. I enjoyed listening to them all cruise. Upryzin': Your typical "Caribbean Music" band. Always nice to hear that kind of music while sitting poolside. Jose and Patti: A MUST see, they are truly an entertaining duo that cannot be missed. Peter Sasso- Funny comedian, I really enjoyed his late night adult comedy show. The International Crew Show and Fountains: They have since moved this show to the Spinnaker Lounge (It used to be held in the Stardust Theatre) very entertaining and it drew a great bog crowd. I have seen Fountains before on the Sun, but it is still hilarious every time you go. NCL's Monte Carlo Night: Held in the Casino, this gets PACKED. All of the staff and crew wore "Tuxedo" T-shirts all day leading up to the party. There was music and dancers walking around, but this mostly just got people in the Casino. NCL's White Hot Night Party: Again, the Crew wore white t-shorts advertising the event, and there were signs posted all around the ship. In the beginning of the party (Held in the Spinnaker) it was pretty dead and slow. It heated up a little bit afterwards but I think most people were watching either Jose and Patti, listing to the Piano Player (I forget his name but he drew a commanding crowd by the end of the cruise.) or participating in Karaoke. The ice sculptures, snow machines, and dance/techno music were all a fun time though. Cruise Director: Pedro Serra- Pretty decent. He did not really "participate" in as many things as I have seen CD's do in the past. I believe it was his last week as his replacement was tailing him everywhere he went. Staff/Crew: The only bar waiter I got to know well during this cruise was Emerson (Bar Server). He works on the pool deck during the day and always wears a white Dos Equis hat. He was great to talk to and an awesome server. If you are going on the Dawn soon, defiantly get a drink from him! He sprays you with water when he serves you your drink, which was very refreshing during a hot day! Arlene (Casino Attendant): It is only her 1st contract and 3rd week on the Dawn, but she is very nice! I also ran into the Food & Beverage Manager a lot. He knew me by name by the middle of the cruise, and he always made sure everything was OK. A very nice man from France! Cruise Critic M&G: About 20 people turned out to the event, and all of the big wigs showed up to talk to us. It went for about an hour, and was very good. The Dawn also has a night were a few lucky cabins get to eat with Officers of the Dawn. Anyone who wanted to could "put their cabin number in the hat" at the M&G. I had the opportunity of dining with the Staff Captain, and my parents had the opportunity of sitting at the Captain's table. A great experience, although I don't think it was a truly "Random" drawing, as I noticed almost everyone from the M&G was at an officer's table. A nice touch by NCL, and the drinks were on them. We also got a picture sent to our stateroom on the last night of the cruise of the dinner. It came in a plain envelope that said "Compliments of NCL" inside. It was very nice of them to do this. Freestyle 2.0: I would say its is about 85% implemented. New bedding and pillows are great, the menus and some food has changed a bit. Some hot tubs are "Adult Only" and there are drink flags on every lounge chair, although this did not seem to stop the staff asking me if I wanted a bucked every 15 minutes! I did not order room service so I cannot comment on this. I did get a glass of champagne when I embarked, which was a nice touch. I really enjoy NCL's Freestyle concept, and I always have a great time when sailing with them. I have been on the Spirit, Sun, and Dawn now and absolutely love it. I have a trip booked on the Dawn for next March, which I am already looking forward to! The Dawn is a beautiful ship. Very spacious and it did not feel too "crowded." I loved the layout and the atmosphere. This was a very enjoyable vacation to Bermuda, and I plan to go back again someday soon. Downsides (If there really can be any!) to this Cruise: *Miserable check in Lady- Anyone know who I can write to about this? Is she an employee of NCL? *No beer taps worked- I know this is minor but I enjoyed the beers that "should have been" on tap. I got the same answers from the bar staff every time- "The beer is too warm." Or "The beer is too foamy." Or "Maybe it will be fixed tomorrow." All lame excuses. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
"7-Night Bermuda" Aboard Norwegian Dawn "Shores distant shores, there's where I'm headed for." - Guy Clark Graduation Present Cruise. Aren't we cool parents - this was a high school graduation ... Read More
"7-Night Bermuda" Aboard Norwegian Dawn "Shores distant shores, there's where I'm headed for." - Guy Clark Graduation Present Cruise. Aren't we cool parents - this was a high school graduation present for our younger son (age 17). D & I had cruised twice previously to Bermuda, and we'd always talked up a storm about it. So when faced with what he might want for a graduation present, rather than money, or a party, he chose to see Bermuda, and spending 8 days on a luxury cruise ship was the icing on the cake. Our older son (age 22) came too. Price was $910/person booked through Expedia.com. Plus, we pre-booked through NCL $160/person for two excursions. Destination Review first and Ship & Port Review to follow. Time at Sea. Two and a half tranquil days of cruising expired prior to reaching King's Wharf, Bermuda. "There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves. The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor. For the most part, in this tropical [cruising] life, a sublime uneventfulness invests you; you hear no news; read no gazettes; extras with startling accounts of commonplace never delude you into unnecessary excitements; you hear of no domestic afflictions; bankrupt securities; fall of stocks; are never troubled with the thought of what you shall have for dinner." ~ Herman Melville (Moby Dick) Three days on the island, and then the cruise back to New York took one and a half days. Bermuda. It is simply one of the most beautiful islands that you can cruise to. I can't add much to that. Instead, I'll relate a story. Isle of Devils. Early Spanish and Portuguese captains referred to Bermuda by this name. On our two sail & snorkel excursions, we were given two different stories as to why. First, early legends spoke of spirits or devils howling throughout the night in the wooded areas all over the islands. The noises are now thought to have been the callings of birds (most likely the Bermuda Petrel or Cahow). The second story was that the islands were named because of the perpetual wrecking of ships in nearly a complete circle around the islands, now known to have been caused by the submerged northern half of the extinct volcano that formed the islands. Pick a story, I like them both. King's Wharf. DAWN docked at King's Wharf, just as SPIRIT did in 2004. Dockyard Tram. Previously, there had been trams available at the Dockyard for excursion tours, but this time around, there was also a tram for just transporting people around the facilities. It consisted of four open-air, 4-abreast, 6-row seating cars, pulled by a cute little "Thomas the Tank" styled steam engine replica (propane driven). It made one continuous loop with stops at King's Wharf, the bus & ferry terminal, Clocktower Mall, and Snorkel Park / Maritime Museum. It was convenient only if it happened to be where you were, when you wanted to ride it. Its slow progress, and even slower loading/unloading, usually meant that waiting for it was futile and walking was faster. Ramparts [Afternoon, Day 6]. I had read that entrance to the Maritime Museum included access to a portion of the ramparts (fortification walls surrounding the Fortress Keep and partially the Dockyard). The ramparts, which are an average of 40ft high, afford you a good view out over the ocean. I figured that if the ramparts were accessible from the Museum, then they were probably accessible from other points within the Dockyard. It took my younger son & I only a short time to find an old earthen ramp behind the Craft Market that lead up to the top. It was overgrown with weeds but not blocked off - fair game as far as we were concerned - and up we climbed. The rampart walls, made of solid stone, were (by my guess) at least 25ft wide, with about a 4ft tall 'railing' of stone lining each side. Walking along the ramparts, I can only imagine, must be eerily similar to walking along the top of the Great Wall of China (scenery there would be different). Periodically along the railings were openings, where, I assume, the battlement guns once were located. We did find a number of old circular cannon pivot posts and rails. We walked as far as the Fortress Keep itself, but, in our attempt to get to a position with an unobstructed view of the ocean, we were thwarted by a gap in the fortification walls that was way too wide for us to cross. Clocktower Mall. We visited the mall and craft shops on a few occasions. My wife, D, loves this shopping area. To the Beach! [Day 4]. Our first day on Bermuda, and our plans were to introduce the boys to one of our all-time favorite beach spots, Horseshoe Bay and South Shore Park. We figured on spending most of the daylight hours there today. Picked up 4 all-day bus/ferry passes at the convenient ticket counter right alongside the ship (still $12 each) and hopped on the little wharf Tram which happened to be sitting there at the time (no doubt, waiting for us). A quick ride to the end of the wharf and we hopped off at the first stop, the bus and ferry terminals. 10-minutes or so waiting for the right bus and off we went. We actually caught the Horseshoe Bay Express Bus rather than the normal commuter bus, no stops, Dockyard-to-Bay in approximately 25 minutes. Horseshoe Bay [11am-5pm, Day 4]. As we reached the end of the bay entrance path, rounded the corner, and saw the foliage open up to the spectacular view that D & I have come to love, I said to the boys "Welcome to Horseshoe Bay". What can I add to what I have already stated many times before about Horseshoe Bay. Beautiful, simply beautiful. Today the weather was perfect, mid 80s, and the sun was shining. The wide beachfront definitely contained far more vacationers than I had ever seen here before, but there was still ample room for us to spread out our blanket and clam our little piece of paradise. We were about 30 ft back from the water's edge. Early June, so the water temperature was pretty cold. My younger son & I decided that it was far too cold to just amble in, so we had to make a run for it and jump in full bore. 2-minutes in and you had already long forgotten that initial shock. D & older son exclaimed that the water was too cold, and spent the rest of the day just periodically getting their feet wet but never really opting for the full-body shock. Younger son & I decided that it was time to snorkel. South Shore Park is a phenomenally picturesque 2-mile stretch encompassing 12 of Bermuda's finest pink sand beaches and bays, of which Horseshoe Bay is included. After lunch, the boys & I walked along the water's edge route through the beach accesses, hiked around and over the craggy rocks (and the boys sometimes climbed up them), and generally made our way sightseeing through the bays and inlets as far as (I guess) about Chaplin Bay. Even though I'd done this twice before, I could never tire of this scenery, and of course, I took photos all the way. I even took a photo of my two sons posed in front of the same craggy rocks that my brother & I had posed in front of almost 30-yrars earlier! Snorkeling Horseshoe Bay / South Shore Park [Day 4]. We snorkeled on two separate occasions today, once in the morning for about an hour, and once in the afternoon, in/out of the water 3 or 4 times, and totaling maybe 1 1/2 hours. In the morning, we explored the western side of Horseshoe Bay, starting from the area adjacent to Port Royal Cove and arcing out all along the rocky fringe, passed the rock isles and rubble and the stonehole formation, and all the way out to the large mushroom-shaped rock at the outermost extent of the bay. Our afternoon snorkeling session took us through the South Shore Park outcroppings in/around Peel Rock Cove, and then around the small rock and reef formations offshore of Butts, Middle, and Wafer Rocks Beaches. Fish Seen While Snorkeling. It was a bright & sunny day, so visibility to the eye was good, however, the sea was rough, and constant wave action continuously stirred up bits of sand and sediment, so the underwater photos were less clear than I would have liked. We did see the largest parrotfish that I have ever spotted in the Atlantic/Caribbean, a Rainbow Parrotfish, one rivaling in size to any that I had seen in Hawaii. OK, the list: * Parrotfish: Rainbow Parrotfish. This was the impressively big fish that we saw today, 3 ft at least! Blue Parrotfish, we saw a 2 ft one. Stoplight Parrotfish. Saw several in the 18-20 inch range. Yellowtail Parrotfish. Yellowtail Parrotfish - Initial. Striped & Princess Parrotfish juveniles. Identical looking. * Grunts: White Grunt and Bluestripe Grunt. * Snappers: Bluestripe Snapper and Yellowtail Snapper. * Tiger Grouper. * Sergeant Major (damselfish). * Surgeonfish / Tangs: Ocean Surgeonfish, Blue Tang (several in the dark lavender color), Yellowtail Tang (2nd phase immature Blue Tang). * Blue Head (and other wrasses). * Silver Chub / Bermuda Chub. * Cleaning Goby. Sail & Snorkel Excursions. For the second and third days spent on Bermuda, [Days 5 & 6 of the cruise], we had pre-booked excursions months ahead of time. The first was to be an in-shore experience (possibly the same or similar excursion as one that D & I had enjoyed tremendously in 2004), and the second was to be an offshore, fringe reef, open snorkeling experience. Both were extremely enjoyable, but neither one worked out exactly as we had envisioned. Both excursions wound up sailing to the same spot, Hawkins Island, albeit by different tactics and different routes. I'm going to sort-of present them together here, highlighting the similarities and differences, and then talk about the two days snorkeling in/around Hawkins Island in a combined delivery. Sailboats. Both Rising Son (Restless Native) and Aristocat were sailing Catamarans (Cats), vessels with two thin, parallel hulls, with a large structural interior cabin that spans between them. Hawkins Island, with an area of 5 acres, is the westernmost of the large islands in a grouping of dozens of islands stretching in an arc across Great Sound from the Salt Kettle peninsula. It is located in nearly the center of the sound. It was originally named Elizabeth's and then Tatem Island, but was renamed Hawkins after the Royal Navy bought it in 1809 to use as a prison island. It is now privately owned, with no ferry service and no public access. Restless Native Catamaran Cruise & Snorkel [Day 5, 1pm]. 3 1/2 hours, $89. Boat name "Rising Son" "The fun begins the moment you step aboard this spacious and comfortable catamaran. Sail to a secluded and picturesque cove where you can snorkel in shallow water, sunbathe in the roomy hammocks aboard the boat, or just relax in the comfort of the interior cabin with its full amenities. You'll even be entertained with stories about Bermuda's history, culture and geology and learn more about the underwater world." While queuing up on the wharf, I found out from the excursion coordinator that the Beez family, who had taken us on the 2004 excursion, had since sold the boat. She then introduced me to the new owner/captain. He told me that we would not be going to Spanish Point today because the wind direction would not permit it. We would be sailing to an equally pristine location called Hawkins Island. The crew consisted of Nigel the captain (or "Stretch" as his Dad called him), his father "Pops" the rather amusing narrator, and the cookie baker / sail handler Tom. Pops was very personable, and gave us a lot of Bermudian stories and information, delivered in a light and comic fashion, flipped through some photos of fish we might be seeing, and then we had cookies. Rising Son was as an in-shore, sailing, pink catamaran, 50 ft long x 21 ft wide, and had a 60 ft mast. The forward deck of the vessel, in front of the cabin, was made of two large canvas trampolines strung between the twin hulls and the center structure. The three of us, D, younger son & I claimed spots on the trampoline, but older son preferred to ride inside the cabin. Hanging out on the trampoline during the sailing, watching the water rush under you, made this an ideal spot for the cruise. I counted 18 guests aboard. Each of the two Cat hulls was approximately 2 1/2 ft wide, and the aft ends were fitted with a 50 hP outboard motor each. This Cat was designed primarily for sailing, with the motors for short periods of assistance. Snorkelers entered the water using a unique set of stairs that was lowered from the forward center structure, right into the water, so the bottom step was close to the sandy bottom. You simply walked right off the boat and into the beautiful water. BTW: This was the same Cat that we had been on for the 2004 excursion. There is also now a Rising Son II catamaran operating in Bermuda, but she's a larger Offshore Cat, 60ft x 30ft. Rising Son left/returned King's Wharf directly through the ferry outlet, and almost immediately hoisted both the mainsail and jib. On Rising Son, the sails were hoisted manually, with hand-operated winches. We then sailed roughly south across Great Sound, and as we swung to the west we passed close by both Two Rock Pass and then Long Island. Still under sail, we cut in between Kappa Rock and Hawkins Island, and then around the southern end of Hawkins Island inside of Alpha Island. Once past Alpha, we dropped the sails, motored into Hawkins Cove, and anchored. After snorkeling, we motored out of the cove, hoisted the sails, and set out to the west from the island, around Lambda Rock and Pearl Island, and then north across Great Sound. We sailed up to the southern side of Ireland Island South, dropped the sails, and slowly motored along the Ireland Islands on the lookout for sea turtles. We spent about 15-minutes slowly making our way towards King's Wharf, during which time we had more than a dozen sightings of sea turtles. Catamaran Coral Reef Snorkel [Day 6, 9:30am]. 3 hours, $69. Boat name "Aristocat" I'll provide the excursion text only to explain what should have been, but as I stated, this excursion did not end up going offshore. "Relax on deck and enjoy complimentary soft drinks while our crew provides an informative commentary on the island and the fascinating undersea ecosystem. After a leisurely cruise you'll find yourself moored in a magical deep blue oasis, the northernmost coral reef in the world, where you're bordered by fringe reef on all sides. Immerse yourself in crystal-clear waters and explore the pristine reef. Following snorkeling, we'll hoist the sails and enjoy a relaxing sail home." Even though we had a good time on this excursion, I would have to say that in my mind this constituted the greatest disappointment of the whole cruise. Younger son & I had really been looking forward to the open water snorkel out on the ring reef, and to add insult to injury, we went back to nearly the same spot as we had been to the previous day. Again, a three-person crew, the Captain and a female narrator/instructor (never got their names), and a young male sail handler named Mario (native of St Thomas, USVI). They were not nearly as personable as Rising Son's crew, and the narration was sort of dry. Aristocat was designed as a large, heavy-duty, off-shore, motor-sailing catamaran, painted white, significantly larger overall, 55 ft long x 30 ft wide, with a 65 ft mast (with a longer boom so it supported a larger mainsail). The foredeck was a hard structure, over which were thrown 20 or so soft foam sun mats. D and older son rode inside the large cabin on the way out/back (the interior salon as they called it, large enough to have a walk-around center bar and fully-equipped galley). Younger son & I, having missed out on the opportunity to claim a sun mat, basically either stood along the outboard deck railings or sat atop the cabin roof. The Aristocat, being larger, was floating on twin hulls that were by my estimate at least 4 ft wide. No outboards this time, this boat had inboard diesel engines housed in each hull, driving roughly 18-inch diameter propellers (we looked at them when we were snorkeling). Entrance to the water was out and over the aft end of either hull, using a set of steps formed right into the hull itself. The lowest step ended just about at the waterline, so you had to drop into the water. I forgot to count, but there were probably around 25 guests aboard. Aristocrat left/returned King's Wharf through the South Basin and out the small opening in the sea wall, motored for a while, then hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the Genoa. On Aristocat, the mainsail and the Genoa were deployed automatically, with a hidden electronic winches. We sailed somewhat along the Ireland Islands, but then straight for Hawkins Island. We came in exactly as before, past Kappa Rock and Alpha Island, and again anchored in Hawkins Cove. After snorkeling, we exited around Hawkins exactly as we entered, under power, and once past Kappa Rock made a bee-line straight for Kings Wharf. They did hoist the sails sometime during this trip back, but they were luffing the entire time, so we were strictly motoring. Two Days / One Island / Two Different Snorkeling Spots. Each snorkel session lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Younger son & I would stay out in the water until they'd blow the horn at us, and we were always the last ones back on the boat. On the second boat, Aristocat, we asked the captain how long we were to snorkel, and if they'd blow a horn. He said that we had about 1 1/2 hours, but everyone always returned before that, so they rarely used the horn. The first minute in the water, he asked me "We're not returning 'till they blow the horn, are we?" I answered "No way!" Why anyone would cut their snorkeling short is a mystery to me. Could they be that desperate to start downing Rum Swizzles? Hawkins Cove [Rising Son, 1st Snorkel Excursion]. The northwestern side of Hawkins Island forms a large semi-circular cove named appropriately, Hawkins Cove. It is bounded on the north by the northwest point (I'll call it Hawkins Point) of the island, which juts out predominantly into Great Sound, pointing somewhat towards Alpha Island. On our first day snorkeling at Hawkins Island, the crew of Rising Son asked that we snorkel within the bounds of Hawkins Cove (remember, this was to be an in-shore snorkel). The Cove supported a lot of sea grass, some bunches of oval soft corals, a lot of large schools of small fish, and an abundance of silver porgies. The northern edge of the cove was the best area. Younger son & I did wrap around the point for the last 15 minutes, saw the lower-most area of the reef, some larger examples of fish seen in the cove, and a number of parrotfish not seen in the cove. Hawkins / Lambda Island [Aristocat, 2nd Snorkel Excursion]. The second time, knowing that there was a nice reef north of where we snorkeled yesterday, younger son & I swam straight for Hawkins Point. We spent nearly the entire time snorkeling in the triangular-shaped 'Reef', north of the point, bounded by Lambda Island and Lambda Rock. This was a much more rewarding spot, deeper, and with a much more established coral reef. In actuality, the whole time that I was snorkeling, I didn't realize that Lambda Island was separate from Hawkins Island. I found out later when I downloaded a map. It was a little more obvious to see that Lambda Rock was separated (which I named because I couldn't actually find any reference to it). We saw a very large number of parrotfish, snappers and grunts, and a more than a dozen new fish that I hadn't before seen in the Atlantic / Caribbean. We even saw a big lobster. Fish Seen. * Silver Porgy. The most abundant fish on both reefs. Saucereye Porgy. * Grunts: French, Bluestripe, we saw uncountable numbers of these two; Caesar, Smallmouth, Sailors Choice (sailors grunt), saw these to a lesser extent, but still plentiful. * Snappers: Schoolmaster and Bluestripe , again, many, many of these two. * Parrotfish: Nowhere in the Atlantic / Caribbean do I think that I've ever seen this many different parrotfish varieties all in one place (listed largest-to-smallest). Blue Parrotfish, Blue Parrotfish - Initial, Queen Parrotfish, Queen Parrotfish - Initial, Redband Parrotfish, Redband Parrotfish - Initial, Redtail Parrotfish, Yellowtail Parrotfish, Yellowtail Parrotfish - Initial, Princess Parrotfish, Striped Parrotfish, Striped Parrotfish & Princess Parrotfish juveniles, identical looking. * Hogfish, a very big fish that I'd never seen before. Spotfin Hogfish, another I hadn't seen. * Butterflyfish: Four Eye Butterflyfish, which D was the first to spot, and Spotfin Butterflyfish, saw only one. * Sergeant Major * Ocean Surgeonfish * Silver & Bermuda Chubs * Slippery Dick and Slippery Dick Juvenile, a name always good for a laugh. * Squirrelfish & Longspine Squirrelfish * Barred Hamlet * Rock Hind Grouper * Sea Bream * Gray Triggerfish * Whitespot Filefish * Scrawled Cowfish * Remora. Usually found attached to sharks or sea turtles. I didn't know that they got as big as the free-swimming pair we saw here, at least 3 ft long, and they swam circles around us for a good 3-4 minutes. I told my younger son to kick them if they got too near. * Ballyhoo, saw these in the water around the boat when the crew through some crackers overboard. * Caribbean Spiny Lobster, judging by the antennae, which are equal to the body size, this one was about 12-14 inches. * Sea Cucumbers: Black Sea Cucumber, Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber (a competitor for the best name), Golden Sea Cucumber. Ending the Excursions. Of course, both of these sail & snorkel excursions included complimentary Rum Swizzles on the way back to King's Wharf. D got the party recipe from the crew on the Aristocat. Bermuda Rum Swizzle: 1/2 of a 2-liter bottle of Bermuda Black Seal Rum, 1 can pineapple juice, 1 can orange juice, 7 splashes of Grenadine. Ship & Port Review Port of New York, Boarding/Embarkation & Departure Manhattan Cruise Ship Terminal is located between 48th and 54th Streets off 12th Ave, on the west side of Manhattan. We had stayed in our customary Fairfield Inn in NJ the previous night, so it was only about a 30-minute drive with no traffic on a Sunday morning. We drove up 12th Ave to 55th Street where there was a left-hand side exit / U-Turn that leads you up a ramp to the drop off / loading area of the terminal complex. After what seemed like an eternity (10 minutes) staring up at the beautiful NCL Dawn and NCL Spirit, while waiting to make the final U-turn off 12 Ave, I finally dropped off D, sons, and all of the luggage to be checked. Then up I drove to the rooftop, where they now REALLY fleece you for the privilege of the parking convenience $30/day $210 for the 7 night cruise! . Embarking: I was back down to get in line for early check-in by exactly 11am. But NO! We were stopped by an exceedingly rude terminal employee who kept insisting that we sit on the metal chairs and wait because the early check-in was closed (even though we could see a good 20-or-so passengers still in line), and because the Latitudes Lounge was also closed (despite our protests that we were Latitudes members and that we saw plenty of people up there already). No explanation from him, just some illegible grumbling. After a few minutes D did get an explanation from a much more helpful terminal employee. NCL cuts off the early check-in line at 11am (take note of this CC members), and the Latitudes Lounge had been reserved for a wedding party (more on that later). However, by 11:50 our row was called, and through the metal detectors and X-rays we went. Into the special queue for Latitudes members, where there was absolutely no line, quickly processed, photos, and we were 'swiped' aboard for the first time by a few ticks after noon. Bubbly Welcome. A nice cold glass of champagne was handed to us as we crossed through the door to the Atrium. D said it was pretty tasty bubbly too. I tried to get my older son to take some, but he opted for the orange juice that was offered. I told him Lesson #1 of cruising - never pass up free booze! New York Harbor. Departure [5:15pm]. Ships in Port. Our ship, the Norwegian Dawn was docked at Pier 92, the Norwegian Spirit, which we've been on twice previously, was docked at Pier 88. The NCL Spirit left Pier 88 exactly at 5pm, and we pulled away shortly thereafter. The cruise pier is located on the western side of Manhattan, on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. We were guided out into the center of the river by Tugboats, and then sailed south to the end of the Hudson River into Upper New York Bay where we followed the shipping channel, passed through The Narrows, the Lower Bay, the Raritan Bay, and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean. Highlights Along the Route. Leaving Manhattan Pier, you see a lot of highlights along the Hudson River and Upper Bay. Empire State Building, Castle Point, Hoboken, Governor's Island, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Norwegian Dawn - Ship Review. CruiseCritic: DAWN is the second ship of the Superstar Class, the second class in the NCL fleet to be designed specifically for the line's Freestyle Cruising concept. SHIP FACTS - Norwegian Dawn; Ship classification - Large passenger; Ship length 972 feet; Tonnage 94,000; Year entered service 2002; Decks 14; Total cabins 1112; Passenger capacity 2224 (2/cabin); Total crew 1318; Passenger to Crew 2 to 1; Speed 22 knots; Sister Ships - NCL Superstar Class (Star, Jewel, Pearl, Gem, Pride of Hawaii) Our Opinions. At the time of this cruise, this was the largest ship that D & I had been on. The length became obvious the first night, as we walked from our cabin (all the way forward) to the Venetian Dining Room (all the way aft). This is by no means a complaint, because I loved all of the extra room aboard. D seemed to think that it was just a little bit too large, preferring the size of her still favorite NCL Spirit. I'll give my quick review in bullet form. The Good * "Bubbly Welcome" - a welcome aboard glass of champagne that's part of the new "Freestyle 2.0" movement. Nice touch. * Oasis Pool Terrace. Nice feature. With the vast number of sunning lounges available on the terrace and sun deck, there was ample room for all around the pool. We were always able to find a table, if not always in the shade. * Art on Board. Impressive. I am by no means even an amateur art enthusiast, but I felt something strong and alluring about standing in the presence of the master works displayed in Le Bistro. I also liked the Warhol painting of Marylyn Monroe. * Comedian (Peter Sasso) and Magician (Greg Gleason). Both were excellent. * Staggering number of restaurants/eateries (I count 14) to choose from. * Venetian Dining Room. Elegant. Now that's what a dining at sea should look like. I could only imagine the true perfection of this room if it were to have the 2-deck Palladian windows from the NCL Spirit. * Impressions of Italy. Very good quality Italian fare - and that's coming from 100% Italians. Nice paintings too. * Salsa (no fee boutique) Restaurant. Nice setting and a very nice dinner menu. * Three story Stardust Theater. As elaborate, and bigger, than anything on Broadway. The Bad and the Ugly * Availability/selection of alcohol was poor. Booze does not make/break our cruise, but . . . No draft beer was available at any of the bars (with taps). I kept getting the excuse that 'something' was wrong with the draft beer delivery system. What? Did every damn draft system on the ship experience a failure during this cruise? We were on a cruise to Bermuda, and there was no ginger beer available in order to mix Dark & Stormy(s) - the "National Drink" of Bermuda. * Impressions of Italy. Made both lists. Here because take note there is now a $10 surcharge. * What happened to the competitions? Once for ping-pong and once for shuffleboard (then we gave up), my son and I showed up for scheduled competitions, only to have no NCL staff member show up to organize the event. Cruise Director & Staff: CD Pedro Serra (Portugal), hosted many shows and participated in a few more; Assistant CD Kristine Celis (Philippines), hostess of a few game shows; Sydney (St Lucia), hosted most of the trivia games, filling out Maddy Maneu (Romania), and Jacinto Aure, Henry Vgalino, Alvin Salvo, and John Arainas (all from Philippines). I don't really think that they were all that good, not nearly as open and friendly as past staffs we've experienced. I'm forming the opinion now, that CD staffs on older, smaller, less glamorous cruise ships tend to try a lot harder at pleasing the passengers, possibly to make up for the perceived sub-par ship. Principle Crew Members: Captain Trygve Vorren (Norway); Executive Officer Karl Bengtesson (Sweedon); Chief Engineer Per Akerstorm (Sweedon). Entertainment & Activities Aboard Oasis Pool Area is the main pool area, featuring the main Oasis Pool, an enormous Oasis Jacuzzi (that could fit at least 10-15 people on the sitting platforms near the jets and another equal amount standing in the center), plus 4 Hot Tubs (2 shaded and 2 open). Oasis Terrace has chaise lounges set up in an amphitheater arrangement, and there were tables set up amongst them so you can eat as well as sunbathe and overlook the pool activities. Along the deck around the pool, there were many shaded tables and chairs, and counting the terrace, there were more lounge chairs than I've ever seen before. As always, there was a Bandstand for entertainment. The bandstand sat on a raised platform between the Oasis Pool and the Jacuzzi - with no dance floor space anywhere around it. * Upryzin' was the name of the ship's 'Party Band'. From Jamaica, a female lead singer, drums, keyboard, and one guitarist. Only the female sang. Again, lots of Bob Marley covers (they were from Jamaica after all), but they also did a lot of pop songs. The music was good, and enjoyable, but the band really didn't have much in the way of inspiring presentation. * Sailaway Party from New York [5pm, Day 1], Sailaway Party from Bermuda [5pm, Day 6]. These were both pretty low key affairs, the party band was playing, the waiters were hocking the 'drink of the day", but not much else going on to identify these as parties. We've experience much better ones. * Ice Carving Demo [afternoon, Day 5]. The carver was given 10 minutes to perform his feat. The audience was asked to try to figure out what he was carving. Older son guessed that it was an eagle (I cheated, because I'd seen so many of these before), and I guessed a swan, which is what it turned out to be. Sunning Area, on either side above the pool (which actually continued forward wrapping 3/4 all the way around Deck 13), had decorative faux palm trees festively looking like something out Miami Beach. There were many additional lounge chairs and even additional tables & chairs. All the way forward on the Sun Deck was a less crowded Hot Tub that hardly ever had anyone in it. As I stated earlier, with the vast number of sunning lounges available around the pool, terrace, and sun deck, there was ample room for all. While we couldn't always find a table in the shade, were always at least able to find a table. We spent most of the afternoons of the at-sea days around the pool, entering/exiting the main pool and the Jacuzzi. Not really at all during the day, but during several evenings, we spent some time in the hot tubs (both boys said that they were too hot to sit in during the day). Topsiders (Pool) Bar was a full bar that formed a large arc spanning entirely across the boat, in close proximity to ample eye candy from the pool, sunning areas, and hot tubs. The drinks were teeny-tiny from here and the beer taps weren't functioning. They did, however, serve 16oz domestic beer bottles (I had Miller Genuine Draft) for the same price as 12oz imported beers. Nestled in between the two arc of the bar was . . . Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar, tucked between the two sides of Topsiders Bar, right at poolside. It offered free ice cream cones in three flavors, generally chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but a few times they brought out other flavors like butter pecan and once I saw chocolate chip. Younger son made good use of this service. Stardust Theater, which spans THREE decks, 1,150-seat theater, designed to resemble a European opera house. It was wide open on the lower level, with no obstructions from the balcony level that wrapped all the way from stage-left to stage-right, so all of the sightlines appeared to be very good. Vegas-style shows and musicals were shown nightly. The chairs were very comfortable too, except for the fact that the rows were tightly spaced, leaving little leg room (and I fit comfortable in planes, so this was really tight), but more bothersome, there was no easy way to get by all of the super-early squatters that usually too the seats at the end of the rows. To me, if I came that early, I'd claim center seats. For the big shows, we tended to get there at least 20-minutes early, and we never failed to get about the 10th or so row, right in the center, perfect seats as far as we were concerned. * Welcome Aboard Show [9pm, Day 1]. Peter Sasso headlined, more on that in a minute. First, there were short performances: "Keyboard Melodies" pianist Mike Stone, who played a couple of quick diddies on the piano - convincing us that we weren't going to see his shows (he mostly played the small stage between Gatsby's Champagne Bar and the Wine Cellar). Next "music from the heart" singer Marcus Dagan sang the Niel Diamond tune "Sweet Caroline" (D liked him). Then "Acoustic Folk Rock" Pilipino guitarist Angel Magaso sang the John Denver song "Rocky Mountain High" - which sounded a little funny with a Hispanic accent. Last was a short dance scene performed by the Jean Ann Ryan Company - lots of fast leg kicking, cane spinning, hat flipping, a whole stage of action, all to the music provided by the Dawn Showband. * Peter Sasso. He started off with a lengthy, hilariously funny stand-up comedy. Side-splitting funny stuff. Then he began his funny juggling routine. Sasso asked for volunteers from the audience and my older son jumped up. I told my wife, who was sitting next to me, to tell him not to volunteer for this guy. We'd seen his show before, they have always been very funny, and he has always embarrassed the hell out of his volunteers. He picked my son and a drunk, country hick-looking guy. As my son walked up on stage, Sasso said he looked like Harry Potter on Crack. The other guy he called Gomer Pyle on Ludes. Through a funny rendition of participation juggling, Sasso plays each of them as the fool. In the end, he let Gomer Pyle go, and kept older son on stage for a finale of (supposedly) flicking a cigarette out of his mouth with a bowling pin that he was juggling. * Gleason's Magic [9:30pm, Day 2]. A few quick magician's tricks, and then he did several stage illusions using his wife and two of the female dancers from the Jean Ann Ryan Company. Sticking blades through a woman in a box, sawing a woman in half, and then a very good one, placing a woman in a tall box, which he rolled up" from the top down and the bottom up - so that her head and her feet were only a foot apart - and then unrolled her. It was a very amusing show. * Band on the Run [9:30, Day 3]. A Vegas-styled stage show with lots of beautiful women in a whole slew of fancy costumes (yes, there were a few men thrown in there), lots of dancing, lots of scene changes, all to a background of 70(s) and 80(s) popular tunes. The dancers were definitely a cut above previous ones we've seen, the singing voices were about average. But I would say that this shoe did hold my interest, far less monotony than these types of shows in the past. * Bollywood [9:30, Day 6]. Billed as an even bigger better production, but honestly, I didn't like it as much. Far East, Egyptian, Middle East, I couldn't get a handle on what was trying to be conveyed in the show. * Farewell Variety Show [9:30, Day 7]. Sasso Comedy & Gleason Magic, a half-hour each, both were entertaining, but the shorter format shows were not as good as either's full-length shows. Sasso did a number of jokes about marriage/life that seemed familiar, similar to ones we must have heard before in one of his shows. Dawn Club Casino, located along the corridor and across the deck, offered the typical assortment of slot machines, Roulette (one 'live' table and two digital roulette tables), Blackjack, Craps, Let It Ride, and Caribbean Stud Poker. The casino also maintained a Spin the Wheel and a Blackjack table out on the Oasis Pool Deck. Dawn Club Bar full service to casino goers without their needing to leave the tables. Spinnaker Lounge had large, panoramic, horizontal windows facing the bow, a beautiful-looking place to either see a variety of shows, or a good place where I could while-away the early morning hours reading or watching the ship's progress looking out over the bow. * Dance Lesson: Cha-Cha [1pm, Day 2]. Older son attended. He said that it was embarrassing to go up so he stayed in the seats and watched-and-learned. * Laugh Till You Drop [3:15, Day 2]. Peter Sasso, in his Welcome Aboard Show, promised to deliver 200 jokes in 45-minutes during this show. A lot of very quick jokes, a good number of quick laughs, but overall not as funny as his first stage show. * Newlywed / Not-So-Newlywed Game Show [8:45pm, Day 2]. Always a classically-funny show aboard. The newlyweds from the New York Terminal Latitudes Lounge were one of the contestant pairs, but no senile-old couple, just a few married from 10 to 28 years. Some of the standard questions were asked of the ladies first: "Strangest place having made love", "My husband has a big ________", "My husband loves me because of my ________", and "What cartoon character best describes your husband on your wedding night". We only stayed for the first half, because we wanted to see the Gleason Magic Show. These two shows were poorly timed. * What's My Line Game Show [2pm, Day 3]. Panel of Pedro Serra (CD), Peter Sasso, Greg Gleason, and the young woman from the Second City Troupe. This was a game show where the panelists tried to guess the occupation of several passenger contestants (1) Electric Lineman/Splicer, (2) Bounty Hunter Agency owner, and (3) Dairy Farm Tour Guide. Both Pedro and Peter were very funny. Peter kept saying things like "We can rule out door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, correct? I ask because I used to be one . . ." Then he would go into a funny joke-story. * Memory Seminar [2:45, Day 3]. Hosted by Greg Gleason, introductions to a few visual-oriented memory techniques, where you would associate either page numbers with contents on the page, or people's names with physical features, all by visualizing some picture in your mind (usually with some word-rhyming connection also). Interesting, but not entirely useful, for ma anyway. * Late Night Comedy - Adults Only [11:30pm, Day 4]. Peter Sasso with an adults-only show. It was hilarious. My younger son says that it was probably the funniest show of them all. * Liar's club [10:45, Day 5]. Same four panelists Pedro Serra, Peter Sasso, Greg Gleason, and Second City woman. This show, a very strange word was selected - 4 words that I'd never heard of - and three of the four panelists would "lie" about its definition, using funny explanations, while one would actually be telling the truth. The audience, split into 8 groups, was then polled to try to come up with which panelist was telling the truth. * The Quest - Adult Game Show [11:45, Day 5]. A faux scavenger hunt within the lounge. Teams were first asked to find mundane things, and then more-and-more personal objects like bras and panties (which the women contestants had to strip out of), then perform funny acts on the stage like inch worms, or women riding their 'donkey' men, and for the finale, a man and a woman had to switch clothes (while the stage lights were turned off). Entertaining. * Ballroom Dancing Lesson: Samba [2pm, Day 7]. Older son again attended. Just watched from the seat again, but had a good time anyway. * Disembarkation Talk [11:30am, Day 7]. Pedro Serra explained Customs forms requirements, liquor and purchases limits, He gave a few facts/figures about the current cruise: There was 96% occupancy, (that's ~2150 passengers using the 2224 stated capacity); 1100 crew (60 nationalities); and 1500 lbs of chocolate was consumed in the Chocoholic buffet (that's 0.7 lbs of chocolate/person - someone at more than their share, 'cause none of us ate 0.7 lbs) Pearly Kings Pub was styled as an English pub, dark, rich wooden tables & chairs, a number of artworks depicting English scenes (including a portrait of Queen Elizabeth) a dart board, and two large flat-screen TVs on either side of the bar. Two observations: I had read beforehand, on CruiseCritic, that this bar was supposed to carry a number of offbeat British beers on draft. I had no such luck - no draft available. In addition, I had also been mislead to believe that this bar functioned as the ship's sport bar, since it had the large-screen TVs. Boulderdash! One of the TVs was never turned on. On the second TV was connected a Nintendo Wii game machine, which was set up for free open play. Now, the only type of games that I saw being played were sports (baseball, boxing, tennis) - does that qualify it as the sports bar? * Nintendo Wii Tournaments: Tennis [2pm, Day 2]. Older Son played. He reached the finals but lost to young girl. Boxing [10:30pm, Day 2]. Both sons played. I watched the second half of this one. Older son was already eliminated. Younger one fought through 3 more rounds while I watched, and he eventually took 2nd place. The girl who won was around 15 years old, and had a much different technique of duck-and-covers followed by furiously boxing. Bowling [1:30pm, Day 6]. The tournament was conducted with partners, each alternated frames. Older son partnered with a 13-14 year old girl. They took second place, with a score of 212, the winners had a 222. * Morning & Afternoon Trivia(s). Trivia sessions were run every day at 9:30am (Morning) and 5:30pm (Afternoon). We only made a few of these (didn't win any), as the morning ones were held just about the time when D & sons were getting up, and during the afternoon ones we always seemed to be doing something else. Well, here's the ones we made: [Afternoon, Day 2], Gold & Gemstones theme, scored 9/20. [Afternoon, Day 3]; Fun Facts theme, scored 13/20. [Morning, Day 7], World Geography theme, scored 11/20. [Afternoon, Day 7], Fun Facts theme, scored 11/20. Movie Cinema was a small movie-house styled theater (145-guest capacity according to NCL) that played the latest video-released movies. This was a nice touch on the ship, however, three complaints. The movie projector was of a very poor quality (on a multi-million dollar ship there's no excuse for that). The screen was square, completely the wrong aspect ratio to display movies, and better suited for overhead projector presentations. The movie schedule didn't follow that in the daily planner nor the one posted outside the cinema. * Movies. During the course of the cruise, we stopped in and saw a few movies. "Narnia - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", "Blades of Glory", "Flushed Away" and watched portions of "P.S. I Love You", "Pursuit of Happiness" and "I am Legend" . * Destino [11:15am, Day 7]. This was a very unique short-format movie, a collaborative work of Walt Disney and Salvadore Dali. Production was halted by WWII, and it was never finished in the lifetimes of either of these two. In 1999, Walt Disney's nephew Roy Edward Disney unearthed it, and decided to complete it, 58 years after its original intended release. As I saw it, the story followed a female as she danced through many versions of surreal scenery that had to be inspired by Dalí. There were a couple of words spoken, but mostly it was set to music. Wikipedia: The six-minute short follows the love story of Chronos (the Titan who is the father of Zeus) and the ill-fated love he has for a mortal female. The sound track features a song by the Mexican composer, Armando Dominguez. * History of Ocean Travel [2pm, Day 7]. NCL "U" presentation. Was not as informative or as interesting as it could have been. Done as a PowerPoint presentation, he covered some late 1800s cruise ships, showing old photos and giving some basic facts about ship size and speed, then to the "great liners" of the 1920-30s (and the numerous disasters), and then jumped all the way to Y2K ships and beyond. I guess no one cruised between 1930-2000? The delivery was pretty dry too. * Close-Up Magic Show [5pm, Day 7]. Greg Gleason with nothing but a small table and a pack of cards (well, he only showed us one pack of cards, but I suspect that there were more). He pulled me out of the audience to sit right next to him throughout most of the show. I tried as hard as I could to discern how he was pulling off the tricks, but I couldn't tell. Then he staked me with $500 to play him five hands of poker. Using only 10 cards, and no matter how I shuffled and selected cards, he always beat me. Somehow the 10 cards kept changing values, but I couldn't catch him switching them out. This was the second of such shows that we've seen aboard cruise ships, and they are one of the most entertaining shows of all. Dazzles Lounge. Strange décor with alternating red and blue plush chairs, sofas, tables and lamps, in a room almost exclusively painted gold. This was the ship's 'high tech' modern dance lounge - considered to be the ship's 'post-teen' nightclub/disco. It mainly functioned as the ship's Karaoke Bar. * I/we passed this lounge often, as it was located all the way forward on Deck 7, the deck that we most frequently used for traversing fore-and-aft in the ship, and it was located right at the forward elevators/stairs that provided the easiest access to our staterooms. Most of the afternoon long, it was a venue for live music, either easy listening music performed by Jose & Patti (husband & wife duo), or light Country & Western performed by Angel Magaso (Pilipino "Acoustic Folk Rock" guitarist). After dinner, until fairly late in the evening, it functioned as a Karaoke Bar. And believe me, I heard some pretty-bad performances as I walked by a number of times. Well, I did see one good performance, a young girl singing "I will survive". For late night, the DJ and modern dance music came out, and Dazzles became the ship's nightclub/disco. * This was the 'club' where my older son tended to hang out with his shipboard friends. Teen Club, disco-styled, but with no booze. It was small, but did have an air-hockey table and a foozball table that we all played on Day 1. The rear section of the Teen Club was a Video Arcade with a number of machines. These were coin-operated, and I couldn't quite figure out why anyone would pay to play when there was always the Nintendo Wii set up for free open play in the Pearly Kings Pub. This was, however, the quickest point of entry from the aft end of the Sun Deck. Grand Atrium, was very showy, but kind-of oddly designed in my opinion. The half with all of the Passenger-Service Counters (shore excursions, reception), was two deck high, further aft it became two and then three decks high where the Salsa Restaurant was located, and as you walked still further aft, the 'pocket' bank of three glass exterior elevators stretched five decks high. At the lowest level, beneath Salsa and at the base of the elevators, was the Java Café - for a surcharge - serving pastries, cookies, and specialty coffees. Wrapping around the Java Café was a grand staircase that gave access to the two decks above. At the center level of the staircase was what I'll call the Atrium Stage. * Quarter Notes, was the band that played daily on the Atrium Stage, and filled the Atrium and Salsa Restaurant with enjoyable easy listening / pop music. They consisted of a female lead singer and a 4-person band behind her (guitar, keyboard, drums, big cello or whatever the cello-like instrument is that you play by hand without a bow). All of the members were of Asian decent. Shopping Galleria. Unlike some ships where the shopping is supposed to represent a mall, this Galleria was laid out like a single, large department store, but of course, with duty-free shopping. There were areas for clothing, jewelry, alcohol, sundries, souvenirs, NCL logo items, etc. Ports of Call shop was located near the Atrium, and it carried cosmetics and perfumes, and a T-Shirt sale near the end of the cruise. Promenade was the Deck 7 wrap-around, wooden-decked, strolling and leisurely activity area. Lots of brightly-colored murals of people out on the town adorned the walls as you circled the ship. There were three shuffleboard courts and two man-sized chess boards, along with a number of cloth and wooden lounge chairs and sitting chairs, and the outdoor picnic table eating area of the Blue Lagoon 24/7 café. * We strolled around up here on several occasions. D especially liked looking over the stern at the trailing waves from here, and our younger son liked pretending to jump or throw his mother overboard from this level. Me, I just enjoyed the breeze. * Younger son & I played several games of shuffleboard during the cruise. These were marathon affairs (and we only played to 50 points), because we are both way better at knocking our opponents off their point squares than in scoring points ourselves. We let D play a game or two also. * Ping Pong Tournament [1:30pm, Day 3] and Shuffleboard Tournament [4pm, Day 3]. Younger son & I went to both of these, but, no-show from the CD staff to direct the competitions. Both times, we stayed and played anyway, ping-pong versus a few other passengers, and shuffleboard against one another. The no-show ping-pong was really a disappointment because he & I had enjoyed immensely playing in these tournaments on the previous cruise. Older son showed up for a Basketball Tournament, but like our experience, no staff member showed up to run it. Bimini Bar & Grill, sort-of overlooking the pool, but from a very high perch at the top of the Oasis Terrace, way up on Deck 14. NCL states "wonderful tropical frozen drinks and snacks in a colorful Key West-style setting". Tropical drinks, no, and nothing reminded me of Key West. It was nice and really breezy up there, but no draft beer again. As for the statement "sounds of the pool below can almost make you believe that you're on famous Bimini Beach" - well, with all that wind, I couldn't hear a thing. Didn't try the lunchtime grilled fare here. El Dorado Fitness Center is located one level above the El Dorado Spa on Deck 11. Up-to-date fitness equipment, a good number of cardio machines and some free weights too. Younger son said it was a real nice gym, but all of the dumbbells were out of order (the weights, not the passengers) and hard to find because their weights were unlabeled. Sports Court had golf driving nets and above them a netted volleyball/basketball court area. Boys said that they didn't like this area at all - too many people running around and yelling all the time - and it was hard to find because no elevator went up there, so you could only access it from outside. Art on board Dawn There are four impressionist master works on exhibit, each representing outstanding works from different periods in the artists' lives. All are displayed in Norwegian Dawn's signature Le Bistro restaurant. (The Monet is worth over $10 Million!) * Monet "Vétheuil De Soleil" (Vethueil in Sunshine) - Claude Monet (1840-1926). Sold for $10,006,320 at Christie's London, 7/9/2002. * Van Gogh "Un Parc Au Printemps" (A Park in Spring) - Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). Estimated value $6-8 Million. * Matisse "Nu Au Turban" (Nude with Turban) - Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Sold for $3,670,051 at Christie's London, 6/21/93. * Renoir "La Baigneuse" (The Bather) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Sold for $3,191,500 at Sotheby's London, 6/28/99. * In addition, Norwegian Dawn displays 20 signed and numbered Warhol silkscreen prints in two of its expansive stairwells. Dining Aboard DAWN. Dawn has 13 restaurants / dining options, with plenty of variety and the Freestyle policy means that you can pretty much eat anything at almost any time. Overall, the food was very good, although we felt that the service was a little slow in the dining rooms. There are 4 levels of dining aboard Dawn: o Casual Eateries: Garden Café (buffet); Blue Lagoon; The Grill; Bimini Grill o Main Dining Rooms: Venetian; Aqua o Boutique (no fee, reservations): Salsa o Specialty (surcharge): Impressions of Italy; Le Bistro; Cagney's; Bamboo; Teppanyaki Room; Sushi & Sake Bar Garden Cafe [Casual] is the primary buffet that served breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. B'fast featured the usual no-surprise breakfast choices (lots of fruit, omelets and eggs made to order, fresh Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, etc.), which we ate practically every morning. At lunchtime, it featured a variety of offerings, on four buffet lines, including a New York deli sandwich section. Dinner was much the same style as lunch (different offerings). * We ate pretty much every breakfast here (principally the cook-to-order stuff), and at least half of our lunches (the boys had a lot of made-to-order pasta dishes and D & I ran the gamut and tried all that they had to offer. We also had one dinner here [Day 5] after returning from our day ashore. * Chocoholics Buffet [10pm, Day 5]. We each ate or fill, which I have always noticed, is a good deal less that many of the passengers eat. My favorite offering was the chocolate covered bananas. There weren't as many food carvings as I'd seen in these events before, but they did have four large ice sculptures on display, backlit with blue lights. Blue Lagoon [Casual], open 24-hours, tucked just off the Atrium, a fast-food joint. Offerings were American standards (burgers, dogs, fries, hot wings, chicken tenders, fish-n-chips) to Asian (wonton soup, fried rice). Blue Lagoon also had nice outdoor seating on the Promenade. * We made use of the Blue Lagoon on several occasions for in-between-meals and late-night snacking. We stopped in one afternoon early in the cruise when we tried out the hot wings and chicken tenders. The wings were fried and crunchy, but as for hot - they were not. Maybe a poor 2 on a scale of 1-to-5. We stopped in on two other occasions. One evening after a late-night stroll around the Promenade, when we sat outside in the beautiful evening breeze. I tried the Wonton Soup - OK. We wanted D to try the wings. A second evening after playing a game or two of shuffelboard, they got wings again, while I got the grilled chicken sandwich. * It goes without saying that my older son liked the hot wings here. He only made three sit-down dinners with us, and every time that I asked him what he had eaten for dinner - he always responded "I had hot wings." He said that it was a great place to go to after Dazzles, and all of his friends went there for wings. The Grill [Casual]. One of the highlights of the days at sea were the daily cookouts at the ad-hock set-up grill poolside. We ate lunch from this venue, supplementing it with salads, etc from Garden Café, three or four times during the cruise. Featuring all sorts of BBQ fare cooked on huge Weber-like grills - burgers, dogs, chicken, sausage, pork chops, ribs. There is also the outdoor Bimini Bar & Grill, but we never tried it. Venetian [Main Dining Room] was the more traditional cruise-like dining room where we ate most of out sit-down dinners. It was gorgeous, decorated with huge murals depicting scenes of Venice. Because it's all the way aft, it has a huge series of panoramic windows stretching across the entire back wall and offering incredible views off the stern. You enter down a fancy staircase running on either side of a Venus deMilo statue. * We ate three dinners in the Venetian Dining Room, Day 1 Dinner, Day 3 Dinner, Day 7 Dinner. Highlights The cold soups are always a hit with D. I especially enjoyed the Roast Leg of Lamb, and the Louisiana Red Snapper. Younger son had Tortellini (3 times counting Aqua), and tried Salmon the last night - he said it was good. Aqua [Main Dining Room] was a more contemporary room with lots of aqua colored glass made to look like water flowing, and colorful ceramic murals of what I'm guessing were Asian mermaids. Definitely more surreal than impressionist, those murals were curious to me, and kept me wondering whether they were complimentary or derogatory of Asian women. * Lobster Night - Dinner Day 2. We went to the Venetian, a little after 7:30pm, and were informed that there was a 45-minute wait. I asked the hostess to call the Aqua to inquire about the wait there - None! So we hopped over to Aqua and got seated. Once again, the lobster tails were broiled, and once again they were overcooked in our opinions. I had two anyway (they were both overcooked). They should boil them. Salsa Restaurant [Boutique, reservations required, but No Fee]. Tex-Mex and Spanish-style are the fare here. According to CruiseCritic, this was the most popular and most difficult restaurant to get a reservation for. Strangely located, wrapping-around the second deck of the Atrium, but it might have one of the nicest-looking ceilings that I've ever seen afloat, stained glass and backlit. Within the center of the circular arc Salsa Restaurant is the Salsa Bar, a full service bar that offers 'proprietary recipe' home-made sangria (which we tried) and serves a constantly changing assortment of hot and cold Spanish Tapas. * Day 4 Dinner, all four of us. I tried to get reservations for Day 3, but the only opening was after 9:30pm. So, one of the first things that I did the morning of Day 4 was to set up these reservations for 7:30pm. There were great sight-lines over the side of the ship from our window table. I tried a Margarita while D had the House Sangria. Even though it should have been better, the margarita wasn't too good, so I switched to sangria, which was a little bit too fruity, but none-the-less tasty. Everyone agreed that they liked the food here. Younger son had a huge nachos platter appetizer and a large burrito (that he said was OK). I had Mexican spring rolls and Sizzlin' Chicken Fajitas. D & older son both had the Baby-Back pork ribs, which they said were pretty tasty. Impressions of Italy [Specialty Restaurant, $10/person surcharge]. Italian food is always very popular, and an additional big draw here is that it's decorated with an impressionist art collection, not the masterworks, but still some very nice paintings. Each painting was fairly large, with paintings filling the entire wall space and between the windows on all four sides of the restaurant. * Day 6 Dinner, all four of us. Again, with an early-morning reservation, we got 6:30pm. This place also pleased all of us. The boys each shared a small pizza, and each supplemented that with a pasta dish. Younger son really liked his Fettuccini Alfredo. D & I both had veal cutlet marsala as our main dishes and I got 'frute de marre" (fruits of the sea) in aburitto (angry, i.e. spicy) sauce over penne, while D had their basil pesto. Everything was very tasty - and I would have to rate my pasta dish as excellent. Le Bistro [Specialty, surcharge $15-25] - didn't eat there. One distinctive highlight of this restaurant is its collection of four Impressionist masterpieces (Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, and Monet); which I went in to see and photograph on several occasions. Return / Disembarking I was the only one awake to see our return under the Varazzano Bridge and into New York Harbor. We had made good time and were due to dock at 8am. NCL gives the passengers a number of choices for times to disembark. You can choose Express Walk-Off, which starts the earliest, but you can't utilize the luggage service and you have to carry off every one of your suitcases by yourself. After that, you can choose when you want to disembark buy picking out the associated color-coded tags. Regular disembarking started at 9am, and a different color code was called each 20-minute interval up to 11am. Knowing that last time younger son & D missed breakfast because they didn't get up in enough time, I opted for the brown tags, signifying the next-to-last disembarking time, 10:40. We had b'fast, then we dragged older son out of bead, sat for a few minutes on the benches of Deck 7, and then exited without anyone in front of us at 10:25am. Found our suitcases, found a porter, quickly went through Customs (no charge even though we were slightly over the liquor allowance), grabbed the car, loaded, and off we went by 11am. Cruise #6 Summary, Observations, and Conclusions Once again an excellent cruise, as we immensely enjoyed the flexibility of the NCL Freestyle Policy. Younger son partook of most of the onboard entertainment with us, while older son preferred to stay at the one place that some of the friends he made aboard were hanging out. We tried two specialty restaurants, the Tex-Mex "Salsa" and the Italian "Impressions", and very much enjoyed both. I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed with the Cruise Director's staff though. Excursions. One full day at Horseshoe Bay was again wonderful. The two sailing & snorkeling excursions both wound up going to nearly the same spot, even though one was to be off-shore. Younger son & I still thoroughly enjoyed the snorkeling. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We sailed from New York on the Norwegian Dawn on May 11th, 2008. Yes, it was the cruise where a woman went overboard and was lost at sea. We did have high seas, up to 42 feet, 3 out of 3 days at sea yet we had a very good time! This was ... Read More
We sailed from New York on the Norwegian Dawn on May 11th, 2008. Yes, it was the cruise where a woman went overboard and was lost at sea. We did have high seas, up to 42 feet, 3 out of 3 days at sea yet we had a very good time! This was my 7th cruise, the second on Norwegian. We live in NJ so only had a short ride by bus to NYC and it was the easiest time I have ever had getting to a cruise terminal. The embarkation was orderly but required some patience. We arrived early so they checked us in and we had to sit and wait to board for about an hour. Boarding began around 12:00. On the way up the gangway they spray antibacterial spray on everyone's hands, this is done throughout the cruise when you renter the ship. There was a glass of champagne waiting and the reservation desk for the specialty restaurants was right in the main lobby and very easy to make reservations for first and second night. The ship is beautiful and very well maintained for a ship built in 2002. There was a lot of creaking on the high seas but other than that I thought it was very nice. There isn't a lot of space on the pool deck but the weather during our cruise didn't permit us to be outside much. The activities onboard are really lacking. I am not sure what the cruise director does on this ship other than plan Bingo games and announce other activities that generate additional revenue for the cruise line. This was probably the worst cruise director I have ever seen. The service was just okay. Our room steward had to put our bed together when we arrived and later in the cruise had to replace a light bulb and put a comforter on our mattress since it was so hard and she did this right away. The room was neat but needed to be vacuumed under the bed. I spoke to the steward and she said they used to have 13 cabins to take care of and now they are required to take care of 33! The waiters were not that friendly and this is where I hate tips being included automatically. I like traditional dining with the same waiter every night a tipping at the end of the cruise. I think Norwegian should have one traditional and one Freestyle main dining room. The inside stateroom on deck 10 was nice. I really like the bathroom which has a shower with a tile floor and actual doors instead of a shower curtain. We had plenty of storage for two but I wouldn't put anymore than that in one of these rooms. The beds were harder than rocks but they are supposed to be changing this during the 2.0 conversion. In the high seas the wooden closet/vanity unit creaked all night and made it very hard to sleep. It actually sounded like the ship was coming apart on our days at sea. The dining was very good. I have read a lot of bad things but we enjoyed 90% of our meals. Salsa was free and great! The lobster tacos and the mango sundae are the best and I am sure they will start charging for this soon. We had dinner in La Bistro the first night and it good but not great I guess I missed it because most people thought it was wonderful. We also tried Impressions and it was good as well. I loved the chicken parmesan but not the lobster ravioli (they only give you 4). Lobster night in the main dining room was the best meal in there by far. I liked all of the Cooking Light items that I tried especially the apple pie and mahi-mahi. I suggest the buffet for breakfast since this was awful in the main dining room. The entertainment was very good. I liked all but the Second City shows. The Bollywood show is great and shouldn't be missed. I thought both the comedian and magician were very good. We LOVED Bermuda and we really liked the idea of parking the ship for 3 days and coming and going as you please. It was like having a hotel and free dining pass right on the island. Get the 3 day bus and ferry pass for $28 it is a steal! We went to Crystal caves, the Swizzle Inn, Horseshoe Bay Beach, Gibbs Lighthouse, Hamilton to shop and go to the parks, St. Georges to see St. Peters… it was great! Finally disembarkation was easy. We did the express and were off the ship by 9:00 it gets 5 stars and I hope all ships start to do this. You have to be able to carry all of your luggage off to do express but if you can I definitely suggest it. We had a good time and would go again. Most of the bad things were not Norwegians fault. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
NCL Dawn Review 5/18, Kids/Penthouse/Pics Ship: NCL Dawn Date Sailed: 5/18/08 - 5/25/08 Sailed To: Kings Wharf, Bermuda Passengers: 2 adults, 2 boys, ages 6 ½ and 2.75 Room: Penthouse Suite 11030, Starboard Butler: Jeffrey Concierge: ... Read More
NCL Dawn Review 5/18, Kids/Penthouse/Pics Ship: NCL Dawn Date Sailed: 5/18/08 - 5/25/08 Sailed To: Kings Wharf, Bermuda Passengers: 2 adults, 2 boys, ages 6 ½ and 2.75 Room: Penthouse Suite 11030, Starboard Butler: Jeffrey Concierge: Anca (and Maria, Asst Concierge) Seas: Calm, hit "rough" and "moderate" twice but very manageable Meds: Bonine, 1 every 24 hrs for adults, 1 childrens every 24 hrs for 6 ½ year old and 1/3 every 24 hrs for 2.75 year old Penthouse 11030 Pics http://photos.walmart.com/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=30546189/a=10777069_10777069/t_=10777069 This cruise was an Anniversary gift from my parents. It is their 50th wedding anniversary this June and our 10th in September. Due to health considerations for my mother, a vacation out of NYC was ideal. We traveled with our two young sons. Embarkation: For us it was a breeze. We left our home in Northern NJ at 11am and were in the check in area at noon. We met Anca right away and she walked us on personally up that really neat glass gangplank. Another girl showed us to our suite and we hung out there for a while. Being starboard, we saw the hustle and bustle of the port of NYC. Within minutes Jeffrey, our Butler, came by and introduced himself. At precisely 4:00 pm we were moving and on our way. My parents joined us on the balcony to watch the sights go by. The Statue of Liberty was so neat to see being so high up and close. Passing under the Verazanno Bridge was quite bittersweet for us - one of my husbands oldest and dearest friends jumped off the bridge back in April of 2001. Shortly after we were in open water and on our way. Muster drill went well and then we headed off to the buffet for dinner - what a zoo!! Seas were nice and calm for Monday and Tuesday sea days. Monday afternoon we had an unexpected Code Oscar rescue operation where someone spotted a body floating. After about 90 minutes we moved on. It was really neat to see the ship slow to a stop in the middle of the ocean and the crew gear up for a recovery mission. Tuesday overnight into Wednesday morning became rough seas as we got closer to Bermuda. I could tell the seas had changed by the fact I had to steady myself more often but thanks to the Bonine, I never felt queasy or uneasy, neither did my husband. The kids never complained, ate normally and slept like charms. Weather in Bermuda was not so great - it was like gale force winds on Weds and Thurs and overcast but warm. Friday the sun broke out and we spent the morning at Snorkel Park with the kids. In the afternoon my husband and I took the Dockyard Segway tour. It was *awesome!! Lots of fun and a great way to learn about the area. Tidbit of advice - if you want to do that tour, book it direct with Segway on your first day there, it will save you $15. Its $89 if you book thru NCL, $75 if you book with Segway. Can't miss them - go over towards the Bone Fish Grill and look for the bright yellow double decker bus. WE found the food to be very good. For dinner, we went to Venetian twice, Aqua twice, Cagney's once, Garden Buffet once. Breakfast most mornings we ordered in and once we went to Venetian which was really good. Loved the wings at Blue Lagoon. LOVED Salsa, but unfortunately we did not eat there. Went there Saturday night after dinner for a drink (GREAT sangria) and sat at the bar/prep area and watched all the good food go by. Had to have a bowl of Tortilla soup which was awesome, and a flan. Kids Club: Our kids enjoyed it, although we always had "drama" when we dropped them off. This was NOT a function of the Club itself, rather our kids until they got used to the place. My husband and I both work full time and when we go on vacation, our kids just really enjoy spending time with us and often don't want to be separated from us for too long. They were very good about my younger son's food allergies, and we always brought a few snacks for him to have. Everyone knew them by name and were always very friendly. Twice we dropped them there after their dinner and went out to eat ourselves. AB Penthouse: The upgrade to the AB Penthouse was *clearly the highlight. I've heard many people say that the room isn't very important, but those of you with young kids know that it can be very important. The boys had a great little room all to themselves, it was quiet, cozy and dark like a cave. They took 3 hour naps each day and enjoyed the DVD players (If I hear the theme song from Curious George ONE MORE TIME I will scream!!) The jacuzzi tub in the master bath was fantastic - I swear my kids took 2 baths a day because they loved looking at the ocean. The shower, with the floor to ceiling window was amazing - LOVED showering while sailing the seas. The bedding in the master was great, 2nd day they upgraded our mattresses and linens. Storage was plentiful - lots of unused drawers and cabinets and we had a lot of stuff! Having Jeffrey, our butler, was fantastic - he was very conscious of my son's food allergies and was very helpful in making sure he got the right food. Overall thoughts post-cruise: Bearing in mind that we did not have a say in booking this cruise (remind you, it was a gift from my parents) we had a great time. I can't say I'd go out and book another cruise tomorrow - just our opinion - but we surely did make the best out of it. As we always do, my husband and I enjoyed marveling in our surroundings - being amazed by "how they do this", a city on the water! Food, drink, entertainment, hotel, fitness, pools, etc! Amazing all of this is bobbing around in the ocean at any given moment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
BACKGROUND - Our family of seven was on the Dawn's 5/18 sailing from New York to Bermuda. The family consists of Dad and Mom (both 53) our two sons (ages 20 and 15) and our three daughters (23, 18 and 17). This was our fourth cruise ... Read More
BACKGROUND - Our family of seven was on the Dawn's 5/18 sailing from New York to Bermuda. The family consists of Dad and Mom (both 53) our two sons (ages 20 and 15) and our three daughters (23, 18 and 17). This was our fourth cruise and our second trip to Bermuda. Previous itineraries include Hawaii (Pride of Aloha) and the Caribbean last summer out of Port Canaveral on RCI's Mariner of the Seas (a very tough act to follow!) We had resisted cruising for many years because we prefer to set our own itinerary and meal times. Freestyle with 3 consecutive days in port is pretty much our ideal cruise for that reason. We have also found that cruising is a particularly good vacation choice for families wanting to travel with teens and young adult kids. It works well because it removes the necessity for everyone to participate in the same activities, and adhere to the same wake up times and meal times. We can all come and go as we please and still end up spending plenty of time together. EMBARKATION - Very smooth. Since we live on Long Island, we simply took the Long Island Railroad into Penn Station and then a short cab ride (2 cabs in our case due to having 7 people) over to the Pier. We could easily have walked if not for the luggage. If you do this, leave from the 8th Avenue exit of Penn (runs uptown) and tell the driver to leave you off at the corner of 12th and 49th, as it can be a waste of time (with the meter running!) to sit in the traffic entering the pier. The Latitudes check in line is considerably shorter, so don't forget to look for it if you are entitled to use it. We had done the on line check in, so it was quick considering we had multiple cabins and various family members using several different credit cards for shipboard accounts. We did get a little "attitude" from the woman managing the line who wanted us to spit up and go to two different check in agents at the counter. We know from experience that splitting invariably results in mistakes that we end up having to straighten out later, so we all stuck with one agent. To be fair, the woman may not have realized we were a single family. We were onboard by 12:30 (alas, I spotted no champagne greeters) and went directly to the Venetian for lunch, as other posters had advised. They do steer everyone firmly towards the buffet for some reason. The crew man welcoming us aboard went so far as to tell me that the Venetian was not open. I told him politely that I preferred to check anyway. Sure enough, the Venetian was open and is, indeed, a far better lunch option than joining the hoards at the buffet. Anticipation was high and we had a lovely lunch, admiring the pretty room. The chilled banana mango cream soup was a stand out. CABIN - Since it was past one o'clock when we finished lunch, we headed for our cabins. No announcement had been made yet but our cabins were ready and we were pleased with them. The bathrooms were actually the best we've had so far on any cruise; surprisingly big shower with a glass door and a big magnifying mirror built into the main mirror. (Nice to know if you wear contact lenses.) The storage in the bathroom and cabin was very adequate for 2 to 3 people and the rooms were clean and nicely appointed with attractive wood trim. There is a safe and and a fridge in each room and the fridges are actually nice and cold, which is an improvement over the pretty useless ones we've had on other cruises. We did have two dislikes relative to the cabin. First, if you are using the fourth bed, the configuration is awkward and results in the loss of both night tables (no place to put your glasses or an alarm clock). Other ships we had been on had two upper and two lower berths in their quads. The Dawn has an upper and lower on one side of the room and just a lower berth on the other side. The fourth bed slides out from under one of the lower beds and pops up between the two lowers, creating 3 beds with no space at all between them. It wasn't as bad as we thought at first, but it does make it difficult to get out of bed without disturbing others and it's annoying to have to get out of bed to see what time it is in an inside cabin. Had I known in advance, I would have brought along a clock with a large enough illuminated dial to be seen from across the room. A suggestion for NCL: (I hear they read these things.) RCI ships have one channel on the TV that is simply a large, dimly lit clock that can be easily seen all night from the beds. Its a great feature and probably hardly costs them a cent. I know the Dawn is just about to get the bedding upgraded. Several of us found the present mattresses pretty hard. After the first night we also asked the cabin steward for "regular" pillows, as the oversized square ones provided proved too high and big to sleep on comfortably. The "real pillows" were promptly and cheerfully provided. SHIP - The Dawn is truly a beautiful ship. I was pleasantly surprised to find the decor colors, although quite bright, fun, appealing and not overdone. The atrium is lovely and there is almost always very pleasant live music there. The Java Bar and Salsa, both in the atrium, provide very pleasant places to sit and people watch. The cinema and the library and the internet cafe were all a cut above the norm and the card/game rooms were pleasant and quiet without the usual sense of isolation thanks to large expanses of glass. We also liked the stadium seating in the Stardust Theatre and around the pool and the fact that the pool was conveniently located with food and drinks available at both ends with no great hike involved. I do have to say I found the Dawn to be one of those ships that's a bit hard to learn your way around on. Lots of dead ends and areas where you must go to one floor to access part of another floor. Still, wandering around a cruise ship is hardly a terrible burden, lol. Afterall, there is food and a frozen cocktail around many of those wrong turns :) We loved the atmosphere on the Dawn - lively without being frantic and relaxing yet never boring. No megaphones at the pool, thank goodness, and no "announcement happy" Cruise Director on the loudspeaker too often. On one of our previous cruises the CD had a very "in your face" style and seemed to fancy herself some sort of minor celebrity. Pedro's style was much more to our liking. Several people have mentioned on these boards how nice the musical atmosphere is on the Dawn - lots of varied live music in public areas throughout the ship. We definitely agree. When strolling or lingering over coffee or a drink, the music definitely lends an air of "relaxed good cheer" for lack of a better term. There is a slight downside to it though, if you are in search of quiet during the daytime. Even when areas like the Spinnaker are unused, there is piped in music that is loud enough to be distracting if you've hoped to curl up on one of those nice sofas with a good book for awhile. On previous cruises DH and I had always enjoyed the promenade for quiet conversation and reading. It's shaded and away from the noise up on the pool deck. We were disconcerted to find that there are NO deck loungers or even chairs on the Dawn's promenade. We had never encountered that before and were disappointed. If a disco is important, you should also be aware that the Dawn lacks one. DH and I hardly noticed this, but our 2 older kids felt the lack late in the evenings. The new theme parties do go a long way to make up for this, though. The Dawn has a very good gym and an absolutely heavenly spa with a warm tranquil indoor pool, a Thelassotherapy pool, hot tub and a (limited) number of cushy loungers facing aft looking out over the wake through floor to ceiling windows. Easily my favorite place on this ship!!! ACTIVITIES/ENTERTAINMENT - We're not much for organized daytime activities so I can't comment on them except to say that there seemed to be a nice selection of varied stuff to do in the dailies. We did go to one and enjoyed it. It was a Memory Improvement Seminar. We do like the evening shows a great deal, especially the main ones in the Stardust Theatre. We thought Bollywood and South Beach Rave were excellent and Band on the Run was fine. The Welcome Aboard show the first night was a bit weak - too much talking and not enough "show" except for the first act. The magician was entertaining and we really enjoyed Sasso, the comedian. Very funny guy and personable too. I know Second City gets very mixed reviews. My husband enjoyed it very much but I found it very boring. I think it's because he appreciates the talent involved in improv whereas I prefer the sort of thing with sets and costumes. Very nice cinema on the Dawn but the movies always seemed to not work out for us time-wise. I do wish they would have run them more frequently. SERVICE/FOOD - We found the crew unfailingly cheerful, friendly and helpful. If you are looking for special treatment and fawning I think you will find fault with all the mass market cruise lines. Everyone we came in contact with was doing his or her job efficiently and had a pleasant manner. We're not high maintenance so that's fine with us. One evening there was a mix up in seating us at dinner and the head steward immediately stopped by our table to explain, just on the off chance we were upset. The front desk was very patient and very responsive to any sort of problem. Towel animals appeared and rooms were made up and turned down quickly. We were very happy with the service on all levels. We also enjoyed the food, both in the main dining rooms and at the buffet. I liked everything I was served. We love that NCL always has some Indian food on the buffet. The ice cream and soups were particularly good and I saw some really nice cuts of meat being carved even on the buffet. Eggs Benedict was very good. The french toast at breakfast was a stand out. Beef Wellington was the very best thing I had all week - melt in your mouth perfect steak. The only negatives were that the danish have always been out in the air too long and, of course, the scrambled eggs are awful, as they are on every ship buffet. Plenty of fresh fruit was always available and the vegetables offered were truly good, except for the potatoes for some reason. Overall, the food was interesting, varied and nicely presented. We tried Salsa on our last evening and loved it. One of our sons went to Impressions with friends and reported that he was a bit disappointed. KIDS/TEEN CLUB - Our two teens did register but there were only about 35 teenagers on this cruise as it was not a school break. Therefore, for no fault of the staff, there just wasn't usually enough attendance for the organized teen activities on this cruise. Nevertheless, the teens who were onboard did manage to find each other pretty quickly. Although we have no small kids of our own anymore, we did see the kids' staff leading groups of little ones through various areas of the ship several times and they always looked like they were having a blast. They'd be dressed up like pirates and singing songs as they walked along. Very cute! The kids/teens/arcade area of the ship looked very good, especially the T-Rex kids' pool. The kids also had their own child-sized buffet area within the main buffet, which was well used and very convenient for parents. SHORE EXCURSIONS - We didn't do any organized shore excursions as Bermuda is very much a place better enjoyed on your own, in my opinion. We rented scooters from Oleander for the full three days and the fun we had on them was a very important part of our trip. We were able to get off the ship by 8 AM the first day and were down at the South Shore Beaches shortly thereafter. We took a walk starting at Horseshoe Bay and continuing along through Chapin, Stonehole, Jobson's Cove and Warwick Long Bay. Beautiful walk but, since it wasn't much of a day for swimming (very strong wind!) we had time to continue on to the Botanical Gardens. I'm an avid gardener so I expected to really enjoy the Gardens but I have to say it's pretty skippable and would be unbearable in the summer heat and humidity I suspect. We took Harbor Road back up to the West End, taking some back road detours just for fun. Whichever roads you choose Bermuda is unfailingly scenic, so getting there was always half the fun. We returned to the ship for dinner, planning to attend a tour of private homes and gardens in the early evening and then Harbor Night in Hamilton. It turned out the Harbor Night was cancelled due to the high winds, though. The next morning we took the ferry to Hamilton (you can take scooters on the Hamilton ferry, but not on the one to St. George) and then rode through town (a bit hairy what with driving on the left in traffic) and up the hill to Fort Hamilton. I recommend this stop highly. Nice view and interesting underground tunnels combined with a very pretty walk through what used to be the moat. The moat is dry and full of tropical plants with a path meandering around it. Very nice way to spend and hour or so. I liked the jungle in the moat better than the Botanical Gardens. We continued on the North Road (some breathtaking views!) out to Saint George. Stopped by the Unfinished Church and Tobacco Bay and then looped around the Alexandra Battery in search of the rumored "sea glass cave". We found it easily, right where others had told us (follow the sea wall between the beach and the battery to the rocks where it ends - the cave is right in the back of the rocks). We were in luck, as it was low tide, and easily scooped up several quart sized baggies of very nice beach glass for my husband's collection. We stopped to take pictures in a moongate across from the beach and then continued our loop back into the town of St. George. We walked around the shops a bit, stuck ourselves into the stocks and all that, and then had lunch at the White Horse Tavern. By happy coincidence, we ran into our oldest son at the White Horse. He had slept in and just come over by ferry with a group he'd met onboard the ship. I had heard that there are underground limestone caves you can actually swim in at the Grotto Bay Resort. Right after lunch we went to check those out and we thought they were really special and well worth seeking out. There are two of them, quite large and just as pretty as Crystal Caves, which we'd already seen on our last trip to Bermuda. The water is cold but crystal clear and swimming in a cave is a pretty cool experience. Our next stop was Bailey's Ice Cream, located right across the road from the Swizzle Inn. I'd like to have stopped in but rum swizzles and scooters don't mix well, so we went for the ice cream instead. Bailey's gets very high marks - homemade and lots of great flavors to choose from. I had the Bailey's Irish Cream and it was fantastic. While we were enjoying our ice cream the skies clouded over and it started to rain pretty heavily. We waited it out for awhile but then donned our trusty dollar store ponchos and rode through it all the way back to Hamilton. The storm, accompanied by some very strong winds, made that ride into what is sure to become a classic in the annals of our family memories, lol. Needless to say, we opted for the shortcut and took the ferry from Hamilton the rest of the way back to the Dockyard. We spent our final day in Bermuda swimming in Jobson's Cove, which was idyllic. We took the road up to the Gibbs Hill lighthouse on the way back. This proved to be another very worthwhile stop. We also stopped for awhile at Scaur Hill Fort and I very much enjoyed the small butterfly garden I found there. (It's down on the hillside by the old rail trail.) Hundreds of butterflies and morning glories the size of saucers. We had left ourselves a little time for souvenir shopping (bought rum cakes and Christmas tree ornaments) back at the Dockyard. We turned our rental scooters in with small pangs of sadness and headed back to the ship for sailaway. Once of the nice things about a cruise is that even when you leave your destination you still have a sea day or two to look forward to. I also want to mention that the people at Oleander are not only friendly and efficient - they are honest too. One of our daughters left her wallet (containing credit cards and $200 in cash!) in the scooter compartment. When she realized the mistake and called their office, they told her not to worry because they had found it and were holding it. DEBARKATION - Since we live in NY and had no flight to catch, I took the advice of other cruise critic members and we spent our last morning aboard relaxing rather than standing around in the long lines snaking through the ship. We chose the luggage tags that would be called last, checked everything but two tiny carry ons, had a relaxing breakfast in one of the main dining rooms and then sat out on the pool deck until our color was called. It was past 11 when we were called, we were almost the last ones off the ship and it great to relax on deck for another couple of hours just as we had done every morning at sea. Actually I had planned to see the 8 AM movie but slept late and would have had to forego that last eggs Benedict to catch the movie. SUMMARY - Beautiful ship, beautiful island, reasonably priced vacation. Seven happy cruisers here! We would be happy to cruise on the Dawn again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Previous cruises: Carnival Victory, Voyager of the Seas(twice), QM2, Norwegian Spirit, Crown Princess This cruise is our 7th and our first without kids. We took it to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We chose this cruise for a couple ... Read More
Previous cruises: Carnival Victory, Voyager of the Seas(twice), QM2, Norwegian Spirit, Crown Princess This cruise is our 7th and our first without kids. We took it to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We chose this cruise for a couple reasons: 1. itinerary. We absolutely love Bermuda, We had also considered the Explorer of the Seas because we love the Voyager class ships but their itinerary was 5 days with 2 days in Bermuda while the Dawn was 7 days with three in Bermuda. 2. Price. Our TA had a block of rooms reserved at a price no one could match. So cheaper price and more days won out over nicer ship. EMBARKATION: A We arrived at the pier via the New York Waterway Ferry at 11 A.M. Check in was quick and easy. We received a card with our boarding number. Ours was 10. Boarding was scheduled to start at 12:30 P.M. but actually started at 12 noon. Coffee and tea were available while waiting. There was also a hot dog stand which had a long line. This amazed me. I do not understand why people would pay a high price for a hot dog and soda when in a short time enormous amounts of food would be available to them on the ship at no additional cost. Upon boarding our hands were sprayed with sanitizer and we were welcomed with champagne. There was no non alcoholic option for the kids or for those who don't drink. DINING: B We immediately went to the Garden Cafe where the food was plentiful and very basic. It wasn't crowded yet as we were one of the first groups to board. This was the first ship we've been on that actually had a kids buffet built for their height. The Garden Cafe is set up in several sections. One for desserts, one with a carving station , one with a pasta station and one which served as a deli For some reason NCL put the pasta station in the middle of the buffet. since it only served one person at a time this held up the line for all meals. The chef working the station was friendly and patient and the variety of pasta options was good. The daily pizza was also very good. The ice cream on board was of excellent quality but limited in flavors available. when 2.0 is fully implemented there will be soft serve available. Breakfast in the Garden Cafe offered nice variety. we ate breakfast here on port days so we could get off the ship earlier. We also ate many of our lunches here since the dining room menu was not to our liking for lunch. The sail away party at the pool was great with hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and corn on the cob all prepared on huge kettle grills. We had dinner the first night in the Venetian dining room. Although a nice room with large windows it doesn't make sense to have a restaurant in the aft of the ship where you feel the motion while you eat. The food was good and the servers wonderful, but the room was chaotic and noisy. Breakfasts in the Venetian were wonderful. I always had eggs made to order with bacon or corned beef hash, melon, toast and silver dollar pancakes with blueberry compote. My wife always had eggs and grits. She tried the cream of wheat one day but said it was lumpy. We ate our other dinners in the Aqua dining room, mid ship where the motion was less pronounced and the service more organized. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants. We thought about Impressions but they just added a fee for this cruise. The food was always good but the choices were limited. The baby shrimp cocktail was OK but more like the old jarred seafood cocktail my mom bought when I was a kid. The other cruise lines I've been on offered better choices and quality. We also had lunches (and late night snacks) at Blue Lagoon. This small venue on the starboard side of deck 7 offers comfort food like wings, burgers and fries, fish and chips, tuna melts, mac and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly. You can eat inside or on the promenade. It can be a busy place. We ate there several times ordering several items each time and they always would forget one item. The food here was very good and is available 24 hours. A word about Freestyle dining. Unless you like to wait, go to dinner early. Also there are limited options for no charge restaurants. the Norwegian Spirit has a better system with electronic screens showing wait times and pagers for those waiting. One women we talked to in line at Aqua on the 4th day asked us what the charge was. When we told her there was no charge she looked shocked. She thought all the restaurants had a charge and had paid the previous 3 days to eat at the specialty restaurants. Personally i prefer traditional. Princess has a good idea offering traditional or "personal choice". CABIN: B We had an Ocean View Cabin on Deck 5 two doors down from the mid ship elevators and stairs (cabin 5608). This gave us easy access to Aqua on deck 6 and going ashore from deck 4. While people returning to the ship were waiting for elevators, we could just walk one flight up. Normally we would get a balcony but because our TA had such a good deal on this category cabin we took it. This worked out well since the weather probably would not have allowed us much use of a balcony. The cabin itself was adequate with good storage and a comfortable bed. Compared to other cruises we've been on, this cabin was more like Motel 6, adequate and functional but nothing special. The shower was nice. Our steward, Edwin was always helpful and friendly. First thing we had him do was put the beds together. He also provided towel animals each night, the cutest being a mouse made from a washcloth. About an hour after arriving at our room room service dropped by with a gift from our TA, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. They were wonderful! MEET AND GREET: C I was looking forward to this. There were about 50 people on our roll call but less than 10 showed up. I enjoyed meeting those who did come. NCL provided danishes, juices, coffee and tea. We had a chance to talk with the head of food services and with the person responsible for fleet wide implementation of Freestyle 2.0 SHOWS: B For the most part the shows were typical cruise shows with singing and dancing. The comedian was lame. We missed the magician. Bollywood was fantastic. These dancers were incredible gymnasts. We liked having the indoor movie theater and watched National Treasure and 27 Dresses. We can now cross those off our Netflix list! ACTIVITIES: C Limited. There seemed to be less to do on the Dawn than any I've been on. There was one pool table on deck 12 which was taken out of service for the last 3 days of the cruise. There were 2 ping pong tables, a huge chess board, shuffleboard, a small basketball court, jogging track and a cage for golfing. We also used the well equipped gym. The Dawn has a reading room, a game room, which was always crowded, a library and an internet cafe where the speed was pretty good. Card readers were available in case you want to send pictures back home. Price was expensive compared to other ships -- 75 cents per minute. it was cheaper if you bought a bulk plan and on Friday night they offered 2 hours at half price. There were also very few announcements which is what I like. For my wife and me there is nothing better than sitting in a lounge chair on the promenade reading a book. We don't need a lot of activities. Unfortunately due to high winds and rough seas most days we were able to sit on the promenade only on our last sea day. The other days we sat up in Salsa which had comfortable tables and chairs looking out over the ocean. NCL also needs more chairs on the promenade. There were only about 8 on each side and some were broken. WEATHER: B Cool, cloudy, windy with rough seas. Some people got sick. We did not. We actually enjoyed being rocked to sleep at night. One night while anchored in the Great sound outside of Hamilton we heard a large bang. It seems as if the Bermudian, a ferry being used as a tender Got caught up in a wave and banged into the ship. The front railing of the ferry was broken off and a small scratch and paint were left on the Dawn. Our last sea day offered moderate seas and was the calmest by far. POOLS: B Unfortunately the weather did not allow for swimming although some of the kids used the outdoor pools and hot tubs. I did not like the fact that the Dawn has a pool side casino. The chairs in the pool area have plastic flags you put up if you want to order a drink. Otherwise, the servers don't bother you. My wife and I enjoyed using the spa pool which was indoors aft and never too busy. Hot drinks and coffee were provided along with cookies, There were cushioned lounge chairs looking out over the back of the ship. Changing rooms, robes and towels were provided. We went to the spa every day. On some days the pool became a wave pool with splashing waves that actually hit the ceiling!! It wasn't until the last day that we read in the Freestyle Daily that the spa pool cost $20 per day or $140 per week per couple. No one ever asked us to pay but if they did we probably would have since it really was a highlight on the ship and we enjoyed it so much. KID'S PROGRAM: B My wife and I were traveling without kids for the first time. We did hear that there were 850 pre teens on board (it was a school vacation week) and that the kid's staff was somewhat overwhelmed. We never noticed the kids being a problem. In fact, except for the Garden Cafe, the ship never felt crowded BERMUDA: A+++ Wonderful as ever. Partly sunny this first day. Those taking excursions got a special ferry tender from the ship at 8 A. M. I'm glad we did because there was lots of confusion for others leaving the ship. the tendering process was confusing as you had to first get a tender ticket and then wait until your group number was called. On our first day we took the Trolly Ocean Discovery Tour. The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute was excellent. You don't have to take an excursion to visit. It is located about 15 minutes on foot outside of Hamilton. After the tour we ate a a local restaurant called the Lobster Pot. I had a scrumptious fried fish sandwich while my wife enjoyed a lobster/crab cake sandwich. The food was great and priced nicely but the lemonade was expensive costing half the price of our meal!. In Bermuda gratuities are automatically placed on the bill. we also walked along Front Street in Bermuda and visited Par La Ville Park which is just beautiful. We had no trouble getting a tender back to the ship since they were running back and forth regularly as they filled. We had hoped to go back in the evening for a street festival that is held every Wednesday, but the festivals don't start until April 30, the week after our trip. On our second day, which was cloudy, we tendered in and (no problems getting a tender ticket or getting off the ship). The waters were rough and we went through a rainstorm (the only rain we had while in Bermuda). Several got sick on the rough waters. Once in Hamilton the rain had stopped. We took a bus from Hamilton to St. George via the north shore. The bus ride in itself was like a tour with beautiful vistas. Transportation is easy and inexpensive. For $12 we had an unlimited pass for the ferries and buses that day. you can also buy 3 day passes. St. george is a quaint colonial town with a number of sights. It was less crowded after the Norwegian Majesty left at noon. We visited St. Peter's church, the town square, the perfumery and the unfinished church. We also walked to Tobacco bay beach and Fort St. Catherine, which is closed for renovations). At the bus station in St. George we were able to by the New York Post and USA Today. Special newspapers from around the world are available on the ship, delivered to your stateroom at $3.95 each per day. Too rich for me. RCCL and Princess always printed a digest of the NY Times at no cost. We tendered back to the ship for the sail away to the Dockyard. After dinner we spent the evening walking around the dockyard and dropping g in at Snorkel Park On the third day in Bermuda, a bright and sunny day, we took the Easy Rider Bike excursion. This took us to to places we had not seen before as we biked local roads and the Bermuda Railroad pathway. It was easy to do, informative and very well run. We rode about 7.5 miles. Helmets, and water were provided along with a ferry ride back to the ship. This was probably the best excursion we've taken in our 3 trips to Bermuda. After a quick lunch onboard we went out to Snorkel Park It was windy and the water was too cold so after a brief time we went to the clock tower mall before setting out our beach towels in a park near the mall where we spent the rest of the afternoon resting. Soon it was time to return to the ship for the sad fact of sail away and the trip home. After the evening show we went to the Chocoholic Buffet, which was really nothing special. We were rocked to sleep by the roughest seas of the trip. THE SHIP ITSELF: B The Dawn, built in 2002 is a clean and functional ship. It has all the basics: pools, casino, lounges, restaurants, theater, etc. but there really is nothing special about it. There was no WOW factor. There was nothing that would draw us back other than price or itinerary. It was a good basic ship that provided a good cruise experience. For the same itinerary I would gladly go on the Dawn again. Otherwise I would choose another line. The Norwegian Spirit has better amenities and character. One thing we noticed was the smell of vanilla. It was always present in the theater and used as aroma therapy throughout the ship at times when people might otherwise get upset. We noticed it in the lounge when lining up for tender tickets and in all the stairwells when disembarking on the last day. THE CREW: A The crew on this ship was outstanding. They provided excellent service, were always friendly and helpful. We had some confusion with the staff at the excursion desk double booking us on tours on consecutive days, but they resolved the problem well with no hassle. The only real issue was that none of this crew had ever been to Bermuda and could not answer basic questions about the port. This was the Dawn's first trip to Bermuda. NCL has been sailing to Bermuda for years and should have had some people knowledgeable about Bermuda transferred from other ships to help. DISEMBARKATION: A This is where freestyle stands out. if you can carry your own luggage you can walk off the ship anytime after immigration clears it. If not, you can choose your color tag depending on when you want to get off. On the last day NCL runs early morning movies and has the pool open. you can leave at your leisure as long as you do so by 10:45 A.M. We got up early the last day to watch the ship come into New York harbor. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Venetian. As we passed Ground Zero the music switched from the normal background music to Sinatra singing "New York, New York". The rest of the way was all Sinatra. We docked at exactly 8 A.M., as expected. Everything on this ship was always right on time. When we left New York we started pulling out at exactly at 4 P.M. on the dot. Of all my cruises, this was the only one that left on time! At 9 A.M. we went to our cabin to get our luggage and join the line of people using express checkout. More than a third of those on the ship were using this option. As we walked to the back of the line a second gangway was opened and we walked off the ship with no waiting. We were off the ship by 9:15, caught the 9:30 ferry to Weehawken and were home by 10:10 basking in the memories of a fun week at sea. All in all a very fine week... and i only gained 5 pounds! For pictures visit http://web.mac.com/pekrause/Site/Norwegian_Dawn_to_Bermuda.html Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Personal Background Information: I am a female in my late 40s, traveled with my mother age 68. I live in New Jersey, she lives in Canada Travel To Port of Embarkation: This was my second cruise to Bermuda and my mothers first cruise. We ... Read More
Personal Background Information: I am a female in my late 40s, traveled with my mother age 68. I live in New Jersey, she lives in Canada Travel To Port of Embarkation: This was my second cruise to Bermuda and my mothers first cruise. We drove from NJ to Manhattan. Breezed through the Lincoln Tunnel, but did hit some traffic on the East Highway (12th St) between 50th and 55th. Embarkation: Very smooth, on board with glass on champagne within 30 minutes of pier arrival Stateroom: Mini suite was larger than expected with a lovely wall mural. Bathroom was a very good size with a tub and separate toilet area. It was clean and the curtain that divides the room came in handy when one of our party wanted to read late into the night. Ship Info: The Dawn is about 5 or 6 years old and is in good condition. Very clean and well designed. She compares favorably with the brand new NCL Gem. Dining: Ate at several restaurants. The buffet I give 4 stars, the main dining room only gets 2 stars. Le Bistro is a surcharge restaurant and deserves five stars. Bamboo is a pay restaurant and I would give it 3.5 stars. Salsas is a free restaurant and I rate that one at 4 stars. Room service was prompt and quality was good. Staff Service: Exceptional, our room stewards were friendly and professional. Wait staff across the ship was great. Spa massage lady named Gemma was too sweet to believe. Entertainment: Saw one show in the theatre, it was very good. Variety of music and bands in different venues around the ship were very good, but sometimes the music overlapped in an annoying way. Shore Excursions: Toured on our own. April/May is great walking weather in Bermuda with average temps in the low 70s. Disembarkation: A lot of people wanted to take advantage of express debarking and it was a bit of a zoo at first, but eventually the lines started moving at a good pace. Summary: A very pleasant cruise, which met or exceeded my expectations. I look forward to sailing NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
This is 3 pages from the best cruise out of 27 taken by us. So enjoy the read: Up at 3AM to pack dress & get to airport for 6AM flight. Continental was very welcoming, took luggage as computer stated & gave us coupons for a FREE ... Read More
This is 3 pages from the best cruise out of 27 taken by us. So enjoy the read: Up at 3AM to pack dress & get to airport for 6AM flight. Continental was very welcoming, took luggage as computer stated & gave us coupons for a FREE cocktail. Plane was a sell out to Newark, no one on Dawn's cruise that we talked to. Arrived in Newark at 7:20AM, got out luggage which arrived quickly & proceeded to get a call to Super Shuttle that we are there for pickup. 8 minutes til a man with our name on a sign arrived. So we got in with another couple that he picked up at their home in NJ. To the terminal we go & porters take luggage & we go inside. Delightful ladies welcome us, ask if we are on Dawn to Bermuda which we said Yes! Then they tell us to have seats next to the other couple & we are the first 2 boarding in 3 hours. So the 4 of us sit, get jokes from the gals who learn the 4 of us are Latitude members but the point to the coffee & coffeecake coming out or us to enjoy that the upstairs area has none & we board before them. So OJ, coffee, hot water for tea & date nut or vanilla coffeecake, which was quite good. Then more people arrive and have a seat after being told that the seats are in order for boarding, so do not leave or you lose your place. Then we see a group of folks joining us from a transfer from JFK. The room is filling with 1000 seats there. Time to board after the suites & top Latitude members board, which we counted about 30. Then up & inside we go with our tickets, credit card & passports and instant purple cards are given to us. We are told to go right with the suite folks for lunch. That got us into an elevator, we saw no champagne being passed out, no escort at 11AM but we are headed to 6 as we pushed for Venetian. The doors are closed as they open at NOON, so we go for a walk up the stairs there & see The Galleria (general store that is tax/duty free), Bamboo, photo gallery, and the Stardust Theater so back we go to the open door & a lovely gal greeting us. We get a table for 2 at the windows AFT and what a lovely restaurant that feels like Venice Italy. The paintings, the lighting fixtures which resemble cactus seen in Bermuda, the gold mirror tiles on the ceiling and the mirrors that are gold tone on the walls. Green chairs with white tablecloths make for a great wake up for the colored carpet with a blue background. We had shrimp stir fry, brandy creme brulee & cappuccino. We never found a free machine anywhere on Dawn & we told we can buy it at Java Cafe. But it is free in the dining rooms for lunch & dinner & it is the best I have ever had. After lunch we got in the elevator & went to 11 & the big door was open so we went to the 5th door next to a suite (with 2 numbers atop the doorbell). Big bed with white duvet, white pillow cases & white sheet. Balcony had 2 loungers that were missing the leg area & a small table. Then the counter with safe at the top, 14" TV to the right, the fridge which Jerry & his partner who we barely saw came in with a fruit bowl with 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 orange for the 2 of us. We heard that we are to get a FRUIT BASKET. So Jerry doubled it with green apples not red. He cleared out the fridge & top of cabinet & gave us a bottle of water for FREE. Our liter of Finlandia Vodka was there with the ice bucket & glasses on a mirror tray. That was atop a 2 seater table that one of will not fit into unless we can move the coffee table. But we never used it so no problem, as it was good for storage of everything for the day. So luggage showed about 4, so we were unpacked & ready for dinner at 5:30PM at Venetian. Very tiny shrimp cocktail, an excellent blueberry soup with whipped cream in the center, excellent salad of 5 lettuces, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and a very thick blue cheese dressing. Then the roast pork that melted in your mouth with double stuffed potatoes. We saw the Executive Chef making the rounds to know everything was very good. We were impressed. Then cappuccino for me Latte for Jerry & ice cream that was very creamy & a cookie pushed in it. We both are quite pooped, so back to our Mini we went & I hit the tub for a soak & Jerry notices that the Daily we have is very small print when the Special Needs Dept had called us to confirm LARGE PRINT Dailies & Menus for Jerry. So a call to the C/S folks got a gal up to us who asked how large & he drew the size. An hour later she is back with a 10 page daily for him. That is Service!!!! And every day at 4PM it showed under the door. Jerry hits a long shower to relax & we both just layed in bed to listen to the CNN news & we both fell asleep & CNN disappeared. 12 hours of sleep with the great rocking feature of cruising & that is what we call rest & relaxation. MONDAY: We awake, shower & dress and Jerry has the daily with items circled with the great set up of chronological order of what is happening from Morning, Afternoon & After Dark. Breakfast at Venetian with the best Eggs Benedict ever on a cruise and 2 pieces of french toast on the side. That was my daily breakfast & I love that they leave the carafe of coffee on the table. So 9AM to the casino for the Spin to Win slot machine after showing our CAS cards (also purple) to the guy. NOTHING! So onto NCL U lecture on digital photography, and we were surprised as they were meeting the other couple from the Cruise Terminal. He is a lecturer & wife is his Assistant. They get a 4th floor inside for his work and they are Bermuda for 2 months, then off for a month & onto Panama Canal & S America in February which we may do also. Then at 11AM Cruise Rewards has a champagne party which we meet Candace the Cruise Consultant & her assistant Edward. 2 very nice, very friendly people who know their job very well. We signed up for the $250 deposit to be used for our next cruise & instantly $100 credit shows on your bill. You also get a list of goodies for Cruise Rewards members. Bamboo is BOGO meal for once during the cruise, that was for next night for us. Now they have a drawing for $20 casino credit for slots & BINGO it is my number!!!! Candance hears me say "what a great birthday present" and tells everyone to sing to me. 2PM was Second City with "Before They Were Stars" with videos of various SC performers from Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, to 30 Rock's Tina Fey. 2 guys new to the troupe presented it & told of their excitement working in Chicago & Las Vegas with the troupe of 8 members in each location. When we returned to the mini there is a card & bottle of Chardonnay (El Terra) on the table. The card states to bring it to the dining room that night for dinner, so the bottle & the card went with us. The greatest waiter ever named St Hugh from Jamaica was a show in himself with us. He tells us what is the best on the menu and this was DRESS UP OR NOT night and I am in NCL Tux shirt & shorts & Jerry in dockers & polo as were many others. A sea day is a restful day or get educated day on NCL. So after dinner & with my cappuccino a large piece of cake for both of us and we are surrounded by all the waiters & an Officer in navy blue dress uniform with gold bands. Whipped dream with raspberries between the layers and HB in sugar quite solid on the top. What a great celebration of another year for me. So it is MONTE CARLO NIGHT with every NCL employee in the tux TShirts which Jerry bought for me to wear also. Great drinks, cashed in my $20 prize which was quite different. You pick any slot that has the circular logo on it & insert the card, press 2 for game, 1 for prize & 1,2,3,4 for pin & $20 credit & that is the slot machine you play. No cashing out of you lose it all. I am told a lady won $970 the last cruise on the machine with the $20 prize, but it just ate it fast for me. Now they have a champagne tower with every lady pouring champagne from the magnum into the top glass. Took an hour to fill so everyone got one. Then girls in their tux shirts show with Las Vegas showgirl headpieces dancing around what looked like Hawaiian style. Then the guy get going with with bottles & shakers up in the air and dancing around. TUESDAY: Another 11 hours but now I am being stabbed by a spring. Dear Jerry, the steward got some padding for the bed which made it OK. Our next door neighbor was commenting on the omelet man as well as the waffle man upstairs, so we head to the meal stations which is still buffet style but an area for omelette's to be made while you wait as well as waffles. Both men we delightful with jokes & clues on good stuff to do in Bermuda. One commented on the loss of the dining for $5 or $10 onboard purchase to go to restaurants on the island. He loved doing it with friends. Both told us Hamilton's Castle with the moat to walk thru is amazing. They even knew the streets to walk to get there. Breakfast was a surprise there, but that was it was long lines the rest of the cruise. Jerry found a guy at the end who has English muffins being toasted fresh for you with toppings. Orange marmalade for me...... At 9:45AM we are back in NCL U with "Get the Picture" followed by another guy with "Destination: Bermuda, it Origins". Sure better than the shopping guy's talk. We lasted 5 minutes with him. Other than souvenirs for workers for Jerry & our bird sitter who loves jewelry I get her, that is it for shopping for us. Lunch again at Venetian, I just love the place as does Jerry. St Hugh is always looking out for us. He makes our meals with his jokes. He also knows what to suggest to us to get & sometimes 2 different items per person. Today I am having all the appetizers since the meals do nothing for me. I had cold Asian noodles that were clear with chicken & veggies diced teeny tiny in it with a sauce that was no too good. So our St Hugh took it & had them rinse it off & put sweet & sour in it, BOY WAS THAT GOOD! SO I had 2! Russian Borscht (Beet soup), shrimp and mussels and something else. Jerry had a cheese steak sandwich which he ate with a fork & knife it was so messy but delicious. But the fries were pretty dry, so he would not have them again. Now he gets a fried mashed potato which St Hugh loves. So that was a must for the rest of the cruise. Even for me who hates potatoes. After dinner we learned that I had a MAJOR LOSS; that 5PM was ladies night in casino with $10 free slot play for 5 points on your card. That was worth $1000 of play with the crazy rates they are using. $167 per point for VP & $120 per point for slots. Works on nickels also, but over 2000 plays to get a point. Pull your card out before you get a point & all that play is lost. When one of the casino staff saw me getting ready to leave with 120 to go & told me not to pull out mycard. Play it to -0- before you pull it out. I yelled for $5 to get the points. We had a point a night basically. The smoke gets to you & the machines were so cold. So for 3 nights of casino we got 3 points each. Now we were to have a joint account. So if that is 3 total, then the average is twice what I quoted. Onto the Stardust Theater for BAND ON THE RUN & this was such a great show compared to others we have seen on RCCL, Celebrity, Carnival & Princess. Jean Ann Ryan sure knows her talent since her 2 shows were incredible. We were about 12 rows up, and the folks selling instant win strips for half an hour before the show was a bit aggravating. Very few cocktail pushers. A guy behind us won $5 after spending $25. WEDNESDAY: Up at 8am to get breakfast at Venetian & off the ship we went with a few other folks that early. What a great city, with beautiful buildings from the 1800's and others that need repair but do not look like they are interested. Liked the city, met some great people there who are so proud of their very clean island. Wish the USA was... So we walked a good 20 blocks by 20 blocks and went back to the ship to learn lunch was OVER at Venetian. So buffet gets us with a great pasta station with 8 different pastas to choose from and 10 containers of items to fry in the pan & then you choose the sauce you want from Alfredo to Boulanaisse which I took with everything on it & double Italian sausage. That was a major meal. The Galleria was having a $15 shop inside with the same jewelry that RCCL & Celebrity has in their shop. So a great CZ necklace & earrings for our friend taking care of our African Grey & our home. Rum cake for us to munch on at home. Then we met the Reservationist for balconies + and she got us into Salsa that night at 5:30PM. So we had the great Il Popo which is a big metal structure with metals fingers ticking out that beef & chicken is stuck to. Excellent salsa with homemade chips til the showpiece meal arrived. You get plate of pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa, jalapeños, etc to go with it. This was a meal! And it is FREE....... "South Beach Wave" was the show in the Stardust but I was ready for bed, forget the soaking in the tub, I was out before Jerry got out of the shower. THURSDAY: Today we leave for Hamilton at 9AM and the sky is quite dark. It rained last night as the balcony & loungers have puddles. SO off to Venetian for breakfast & down to get Blue tickets for the tender which was a ferry that carries 700 folks. We can see the anchor is out & heard it in the restaurant which is AFT, so that is some chain. We are told that the waves may carry the ship around the anchor so folks in staterooms all get the view of Hamilton & islands surrounding it. We are told to look for the buoys that mark sunken ships, planes & the coral that can damage a ship badly. We saw some coral that was quite colorful. Amazing how clear the water is. But way too chilly for swimming for us. Our weatherman stated cold water to snorkel so we left the gear at home. So we spend the night here so 2 days of Hamilton. We did the Maritime museum, learning how Bermuda was discovered and all the cannons that were never fired once in a war. Loads a major money jewelry stores, stockbrokers, restaurants with some quite expensive food. We even walked thru a grocery store to see what they have that we don't. Not as much as our grocery stores like Giant Eagle which is a city in itself. More like a butcher for meat sooner than packages all over. Back to the ship on a lifeboat with both doors open. It is chilly as Bermuda was 60's and windy & we have some major waves out here. The ride was exciting & a great couple seated with us mentioned that they came over on #16 lifeboat which the waves were crashing over it and water was coming all over everyone from the ceiling. So they didn't want to get soaked again. I am seeing waves coming to the floor & yelled to the guy, who is taking a nap, to close the doors & as he did a major wave went over us but no leaks. We made it back to a CODE ALPHA as we entered our mini. All the stewards are rushing down the hall. If I remembered right ALPHA is medical. Later the Captain gets on the PA to inform us that the party was treated in the medical area & was doing OK. But now we are seeing a lifeboat taking people with a stretcher. SO not sure if the same party or someone else that needed immediate care. We saw no aircraft at all in Bermuda. No planes, copters, nothing. Very quiet and beautiful. So back to the mini & do some laundry across from 11092. 3 washers on the bottom & 3 dryers atop them. So we put Tide in one with 3 days worth of clothes & then went to the mini for some fruit & to see what was on TV which wasn't much but NCL stuff. No CNN, ESPN & no network stations at all during the cruise. So Jerry takes the clothes back & I am cleaning out the 3 lint filters that no one else did. Do not want another Carnival cruise with flaming laundry room. No one else doing theirs. But our mail has a LAUNDRY SPECIAL. They have a NCL Laundry Bag & $20 for all you fit in it. But for free I did ours in an hour. Good only on THURSDAY & you leave ht bag on your bed with completed laundry slip & 7:30PM they pick them up & you get them back Saturday evening for you to pack.FRIDAY: We leave Hamilton at 4PM as last tender. So we were up early, breakfast at Venetian then to the tender to Hamilton as we planned to do Fort Hamilton with it's moat. We got the streets from Jerry, our steward & it was too bad he couldn't go with us. So up & down streets til we got to the Z going up with a yellow handle on the walkway. The whole walk is straight uphill. Major exercise for us. So we had a seat at the top on an old wooden bend that was very thick & heavy. The view was incredible in all 4 directions. What the homes have to be enjoying there. WOW! So then down the long road to the Fort. The signage tells you everything you need to know, so no tour guides or the voice overs on tape about what you see. Just read...... So we saw the 3 big cannons and the views from each of the waterways. Then you walk the Fort & see the see thru areas that rifles went into to shoot at anyone breaking into the dry moat. So now we walk it that surrounds the entire Fort. The trees, plants, and critters such as our tour guide who was a red headed rooster walking ahead of us & he'd stop & turn around to see if we are coming. He would put out feathers almost like he is telling us what happened at that very spot over the years. Very funny addition to this enormous place. Then some screaming birds that got him to rush into the plants like they want to eat him. Met folks going the opposite way asking what we saw so far. Then we are finished, it is 2PM so back to the tender before the mad rush for 4PM. Got there to get the ferry back to the ship for a relaxing ride for our final site of Hamilton. We both showered, dressed for dinner in nice shirts & slacks & that was 2nd lobster night but it was a mixture of fish, lobster pieces, shrimp and anything else they could dice up & put over pasta in Alfredo sauce. So we passed on that. I had Hungarian food, speatzels & purple cabbage on pork which just melted in my mouth. I even had second on it. No desert as I was full but not for my cappuccino which I had 2. Jerry had meatloaf which I hate but he loves. I make him one & he slices it for lunch for the week. Tonite is BOLLYWOOD night & what another great Jean Ann Ryan show with great singing & aerials with 10 people. We were again row 12 & it was right in front of us. I thought the guy flipping in the air so fast was going to kick my head. Then the paper snow in the air gave another great surprise to all. To the area left of us were close to 30 3-5 year olds watching the show with adults. It was roped off for them to be seated in. Very nice also that at the end of the Ryan shows you get to chat with the cast. They love hearing that they were the best of 25 cruises we've been on. I told them their boss knows her job & they will be famous with her. SATURDAY: We both are exclaiming that we pack tonite to leave tomorrow. How fast a week went onboard, but takes forever to get to embarkation after booking the cruise. NOT FAIR! So to breakfast & to Spinnaker at 9:45 for Candance & Edward giving us a presentation of future cruises thru 2009 on NCL. We have 3 weeks of vacation left & she had a 19 night Panama Canal (Seattle-Miami) cruise on September 21 which we may do. That will pay for the air. So up at 8AM breakfast at Venetian and the last NCL U photography lecture with our good friend for the cruise who we met arriving at 8AM at the NYC Cruise Terminal. He never told us he worked for them. Then a disembarkation seminar with Pedro the CD. Good to know what we are to do where & when. So after dinner we pack & put it out for collection by 1AM. We have grey tags that we got after the talk, they do not send them to the staterooms. Another NCL first over other cruise lines is that we stay in our mini til GREY is called then we leave. Great since not many are with us at 10:45AM. Good presentation given by Pedro. Lunch at Venetian and then to Second City at 1PM for NCL U "Humor" with the 8 people onboard. Nothing prewritten it is all ad lib, but we stated to them that they have done this for how long and we told to everyone's delight that they boarded with us to start the cruise til September. So the Ad lib was great. 3 gals & 5 guys. Never heard of any of them but will be looking out for them. NCL U had "Submarines" but not for us so we took the Salsa bar Margarita Madness of NCL U. They teach you to make them and if you want one to drink they were $5 less a nickel. NCL U also had "Global Beer Tasting" which we don't drink beer but I thought I'd mention it for folks going on the cruise. Then back to Venetian for our last supper with our Saint. He filled the table with appetizers & dinners, so we are very full to make it home tomorrow without starving. Major hug fest after with many joining him thanking us for sailing NCL. We told them we'd be back. We heard Sept/Oct they do Canada/NE, so we may do it. We will decide in July after final payment to get the biggest bang for the buck. Last entertainment for us was the "Star Seeker" talent show with 10 folks competing from piano playing to singing, as we made it thru 4 & were tired for an early day tomorrow. So up to pack, put out what we wear home & pack everything else. Then to the bathroom: toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrushes all stay, everything else gets packed. My aerosol can of preservative free saline solution for my contacts stays with the disinfecting container. So bags are in hallway after a very funny happening. Jerry is naked & goes for his robe, which is being laundered for the next guests, so how is he to get suitcases in the hallway? So he has to get dressed to do it. That was the best comedy act of the night. So to bed we go & about 4 AM it felt like it could snow. So we closed the balcony door. Fell back asleep til the horn went off at 6AM, and that is one wake up call for everyone. But fog has us wrapped in it & where we are we can't see anything. So we got up since Venetian serves breakfast from 6:30AM-8:30AM & Buffet is 6AM-9AM. So sleep in & starve. We see folks in line with luggage as we went for the elevator to 7 for Venetian, which yes they are 6 but you go down the stairs to 6 to enter. So we learned on day 1. So major breakfast with fruit, eggs, bacon, country potatoes which have peppers diced in them. But we are late getting docked, and we can see 10 floors of buildings from the balcony & it is COLD! 40's in NYC. We have a message on our cell that Super Shuttle is getting us at 11AM at pier 88 but red is now 10:30AM so we went with them. Luggage were the first 2 we saw & now major line for customs. Then a lady in line ahead of us has a red suitcase with a gentleman on the outside pointing at it stating it is his. He calls for police who come & take the red suitcase & woman. It is his suitcase, his name is large print on the tag, she stole it off the luggage area. So NYPD have her with him writing away the charges. But customs is smiles to us welcoming us back home & we are off for the shuttle to Newark. Plane is early, we board, & back to CLE by 4PM. We both keep stating what a great cruise, what great items from coffeemaker in the room with 8 cups of coffee for FREE. The fresh fruit for snacking. The great people we met from crew members to cruisers, especially the Canadians who we seem to be magnetized to. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that last night Candance had a drawing with her future cruise presentation with $20 slot credits, to keychains & photos, and then she announces the major prize from Park West - a $650 piece of art. I WON IT! I chose "Annabella" by Linda Le Kniff with a fabric outline with black trimmed in 14 KT gold frame. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
We are a family of 5 and first time cruisers with 3 boys 12, 16 & 19. We vacation at various resorts regularly but were always hesitant to cruise due to the perceived close quarters on a ship. Even though there were times when you had ... Read More
We are a family of 5 and first time cruisers with 3 boys 12, 16 & 19. We vacation at various resorts regularly but were always hesitant to cruise due to the perceived close quarters on a ship. Even though there were times when you had to deal with crowds, for the most part it wasn't an issue. I'll start with restaurants. We ate at the Venetian twice, Bamboo, Cagney's, Aqua and Impressions twice. The restaurants are beautiful, the service staff was very pleasant and the food was fantastic at each and every restaurant. The service charge for the Bamboo, Cagney's and Impressions was well worth it. The major negative for the entire trip was the very difficult reservation process. Toward the end of the week you had to wake up at 6:45am and stand in line for 15 minutes to get a decent reservation at any of the restaurants. I'm an early riser so this didn't bother me, however many people on board hated this procedure. The Dawn must change this. The buffet was fine and was always good for a late night snack. The entertainment was excellent and easily off-broadway or better caliber. The main theater seats about 1,000 and is also very beautiful. One tip is to seat yourself 20 - 30 minutes early. You can get 10th row center stage seats every time. Our Cruise Director Jimmy and his staff were very humorous and did a great job attempting to keep everyone entertained at all times. The late night entertainment was very good. The pool area was crowded but we could always manage to find a place to sit. Get to the pool early to reserve some seats, everyone does it. Everyday was a pool party complete with pool side barbeque, live island music, pool side bars, hot tubs etc. The book of coupons for the frozen drinks was a bargain for us. The casino was was nice enough to let me leave with more money than I came with. The fitness center got crowded at times but was adequate. There were numerous places on board for our kids to explore which kept them from getting bored. We had mixed reviews on the destinations. Nassau was OK. The Aquarium at the Atlantis was worth going to. The public beach we went to was just OK. The cruise line's island was a great day of snorkeling. Definitely rent one of the large inflatable rafts if you have a group doing some snorkeling. Find a picnic table under some palm trees away from the crowded beach. We could easily have spent a full week in Bermuda. I have nothing but great things to say about this beautiful place. The beach at Horseshoe Bay was incredible and probably the nicest beach I have ever been to. The bus ride on the narrow roads to the beach will rival most thrill rides. The people were naturally courteous. Just a great destination. Overall The Dawn was a beautiful ship with a great staff and enough entertainment to keep you busy and on the go at all times. The ship was always clean. The staff was always pleasant and smiling. the food was always good. We were very impressed. We had read some bad reviews about the Dawn but found all of them untrue or blown out of proportion. If you can't enjoy yourself on the Dawn then it was your own fault. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
The Dawn definitely met our expectations, and I would highly recommend NCL and the Norwegian Dawn. This was my 10th cruise and my fiance's first. We had a great time and would take this ship again. The highlights were Bermuda, the ... Read More
The Dawn definitely met our expectations, and I would highly recommend NCL and the Norwegian Dawn. This was my 10th cruise and my fiance's first. We had a great time and would take this ship again. The highlights were Bermuda, the ship itself (beautiful!) and the crew. Embarkation was decent - fairly well organized but we did end up in a line. Total time about an hour from the time we got to the pier to the time we boarded the ship. One engine was broken, so we got to Nassau very late and didn't get off the ship. They offered us a $50 shipboard credit. Not a big deal to us, but I did feel badly for those who had planned activities in the Bahamas. Great Stirrup Cay was OK. The tenders were large but there was still an awful line to get back to the ship, and it was hot, hot, hot! Definitely have water while in line. The beach was nice but crowded and so hot! There was a nice BBQ, some shopping, and rafts for rent. Bermuda was lovely. The Dockyard is a cheap tourist trap, except for the Glassworks and Rum Cake Company...though you will pay $12 for a tiny cake. Most people took the ferry to Hamilton, where there is better shopping and eating. The ferry and bus tokens can be purchased at the dock, where you can also get a map. We were directed to Horseshoe Bay for the beach, as it's off the bus stop. This is obviously a cruise passenger spot, as everyone there had the matching NCL towels. The beach was free and very pretty but again crowded. If you are adventurous, I would suggest a less crowded beach. The beach plus lunch in Hamilton left little time for anything else. Bermuda has some great historic sites that we unfortunately missed. We found the people of Bermuda to be a bit unfriendly and stuck-up but still enjoyed it. Lines to get on and off the ship to Bermuda were minimal. The ship itself is beautiful and kept in pristine condition. We were in an inside room, which was small even for a ship. However, it was well-equipped with a hairdryer, plenty of towels, coffee pot (instant coffee and tea only), and a mini bar. The room stewards were so friendly and accommodating. Any time we needed extra towels, they were there immediately, and they also made some wonderful towel animals. (One note: NCL is strict about pool towels. There is a set number per room, and if you lose one, it's $25. You can get extra towels by the pool for a $25 charge which is returned to you when you return the towel.) Public areas were nice. The Stardust Theater was two stories and had a lovely balcony. There is an atrium that is several stories. Warhol prints decorate the stairwells. It is perhaps less tacky than other ships. The gym and Mandara spa were exceptional. Gym had a lot of top of the line equipment but filled up early. By late afternoon, the gym would clear out. Exercise classes are either free or $10 for pilates, yoga, and spinning. Spa treatments booked early. Specials were offered almost daily but good only for the next day. Prices dropped on days at port. The best deals were "20-20-20" (20 minutes each of three treatments) and "25-25" (25 minutes each of two treatments) for $89. Otherwise you will pay $179 for a 1 ½ hour seaweed massage or $139 for a 50-minutes hot stone massage. For $15 a day, you could access the spa's indoor lap pool, hydrapool, hot tub, steam room, and sauna. There are comfy chairs lined up along the window. It's secluded, relaxing, and quiet - definitely worth $15! One drawback was the pool area. It was always busy and filled with unruly kids. (We were disappointed that there were a lot of ill-behaved kids on the ship and parents who seemed to turn a blind eye to their antics.) There were four hot tubs, a main pool, and a small plunge pool. This is where the hairy chest contest, etc. took place. There was a small stage off the pool where bands played. Kids were always in the hot tubs. Lounge chairs were scarce. Despite NCL's "strict" no saving chairs policy, people would leave their towels on the chairs all day and never return. The best place for a little quiet was at the forward where there is an adults only hot tub. It is also quiet enough there that you can't hear the loud music by the pool. Music was excellent. There were more bands on this ship than any other I've been on, and they played a great variety. The shows were also some of the best I've seen and a good variety. There was a dance/acrobatic show, Bollywood, magic by Greg Gleason (www.gleasonmagic.com), and juggling by Romano Frediani. Bingo was a huge rip-off, with cards starting at $29. There were the usual leisure offerings - napkin folding, crafts, slot tournaments, etc. but also several golf lectures. There was a little too much hype for buying stuff onboard and in ports. I was quite disappointed that the ship endorsed a Bermuda jewelry store of questionable quality - I guess if the store pays NCL enough, they will endorse anything. The casino was nice. The photos are a fiasco. It's hard to find them in the photo gallery, and prices fluctuate daily. Of course, the day there is a special, half the pictures seem to be missing. There are baskets containing thousands of photos, so if you are patient, you can sort through them. We had our portrait taken, but the quality was nothing special. Food: NCL is obsessive with the idea of clean hands. There are sensor-activated antibacterial liquid dispensers throughout the ship and at the entrance to all restaurants. They do have a crew member at each restaurant ensuring that you disinfect your hands before you eat. Service at all restaurants was excellent. Overall the food was good but not great. The restaurants all had different and unique dEcor. Aqua was more modern, with blue glass and twinkle lights on the ceiling. The Venetian had paintings of Venice on the walls and ornate gold columns. These restaurants served standard cruise fare that was substantial and good - typical cruise food, no cover charge. The buffet, Garden Cafe, had food out nearly all day long and was very extensive (more so than other ships) but was nothing special. There was a nice poolside BBQ on sunny days. The 24 hour restaurant was kid-friendly fast food that wasn't too good. The French restaurant, Le Bistro ($15 cover), had paintings by Matisse and Monet and beautiful Versace chargers that I spent the evening drooling over. Food was very good and my favorite on the ship. Cagney's steakhouse ($20 cover) had a good steak and ample sized portions but it was no Morton's. The Tex-Mex/tapas restaurant was good and overlooked an atrium. There was no cover. Bamboo had a $10 cover ($15 for sushi). The ambience was nice. Food was decent - thinly cut steak was thickly cut and somewhat frozen. Sushi was OK. In general, the fish on the ship was not fresh (but still pretty good). Alcoholic beverages are rather affordable (regular prices). Wine starts at around $20 a bottle. If you buy a bottle and don't finish it, they will store the wine for you. You just present them with a ticket at any restaurant, and they will retrieve the wine for you. This proved to be simple and economical. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Well this was my first cruise with my girlfriend and I. We loved it. I live in NJ, she lives in NY, so we chose to sail out of NY. Now for the details, I will keep this kind of short and simple, because I hate reading really long ... Read More
Well this was my first cruise with my girlfriend and I. We loved it. I live in NJ, she lives in NY, so we chose to sail out of NY. Now for the details, I will keep this kind of short and simple, because I hate reading really long reviews... Ship - The NCL dawn is really nice ship, well layed out and we were able to find our way around after first day easily. Only 1 minor complaint, there is only 1 main pool, and can be crowded at times. Ship is very clean Overall. Cabin - Sorry, correction on the cabin category, we booked ocean view stateroom category BA room-10730, not AB(penthouse). The way I can describe the room is comfortably cozy, beds were really comfy, and shower was great. Note to all people, get a balcony room at the very least, it is so worth it. We had a great room off the back of the boat looking at the wake while sailing. Also people considering the penthouse suites , or (Romance suites)off the back of the boat, to me they are not worth the extra money for the amount of time you spend in the room. I have personally went into both categories to get an idea for future cruise, and I will stick with category (BA). They are slightly bigger. But if you are loaded then go for it. Also peeked into the owners suites up front, category (AA). Now these are truly worth the extra money if you have the money. OK enough about the rooms... Itinerary - We did 3 islands on this cruise. Nassau was first, not worth it. Dirty and they beg for money, only go to Paradise Island were Atlantis is, thats what people said. We did dolphin encounter (definitely worth it) so we really didn't get to do nassau, which worked out anyway. But hit up the STARBUCKS before you get back on the boat. Next was Great Stirrup Cay, it was nice but crowded. Last was Bermuda, now this place is truly clean, people are nice you feel safe here, and has the best beaches in the world. Food - To all people who complain so much about food, all I can say is shut up!, after reading dozens of reviews before cruising, I was thinking the food would be a horror show while ship. Overall food was good to great on this ship, depending on where you chose to eat. The best are the specialty restaurants, people pay the extra $15-$20 per person and trust me. Main Dining room was good, the only thing that sucked was room service, they were fast, but food sucked. Oh yeh, buffet was not that bad, if you did not like one item therewere 50 other things to try...We liked the freestyle dining, and liked having our own table for 2 every night. Overall food was very good, Staff - Our room attendants were very nice, we gave them i think like $15 extra in tips. Also all food and drink servers were very nice. cruise director (Matt) was funny, and very good at his job. He makes the best of it, don't forget most of the staff work a 7 day work week, and have no 2 day weekend. Overall staff was great. Tips and Hints - Play bingo on last day of cruise, because its really not cheap to play, and pots are the biggest at the end of cruise. There is a Texas HoldemPoker table in casino, its $1/$2 no limit. Get on line for chocoholic buffet early, or else forget about it. On disembarkation morning, relax and hang out in your room to avoid the masses of people in main areas,wait for your color tag on your luggage to be called. Well, I tried to keep it as short as possible. Im sure I left couple of little things out, but I hope I was helpful in giving new cruisers a little insight on cruising. We had a great time, enjoy your on vacation. Read a couple of reviews and take a little information from each, don't let reviews ruin you thoughts about cruising because cruising is great, and we will definitely do it again, and will probably go with NCL again, they are great. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Let me start off by saying last year was our first cruise and it was also on the Dawn, I did not write a review mainly because a few things and staff members were so bad and I had nothing to compare it to well now I do This will be short ... Read More
Let me start off by saying last year was our first cruise and it was also on the Dawn, I did not write a review mainly because a few things and staff members were so bad and I had nothing to compare it to well now I do This will be short but I will be happy to answer any questions for you future Dawn cruisers. Leaving New York: This year we arrived Late about 1pm good thing they were having credit card problems with their computers so we had to wait on a long line to get through customs but as soon as we got through a lady with a sign for penthouse and villas was right there then we met our Concierge: Mareike then we were on in 5 minutes She is really great no problems at all she actually called a few times and is really sweet big difference from last year. First sea day: Was a little rough 12 ft swells no big deal. We made every port on time Bahamas: We were a few minutes early Great time there they do sell the one day passes for the pool at Atlantis its $75 for kids more for adults. GSC: Was great perfect weather we were in the water all day BBQ was good do bring a cooler for drinks great tip I got from CC. Bermuda: Fantastic we did horseshoe bay we had lunch there hotdogs great fries and popcorn chicken expensive $5 for fries when I said something to the server he gave us a free hotdog, Also bring the cooler we spoke about We did the bus pass easy a perfect day. Ok now for the food: Venetian: Great! we ate there the first day for lunch waiting for the rooms to be ready which was at 2 so pretty much right after we sat down Great sandwiches and soups service was also great my father ate dinner and lunch there most days and we had what they call dress up night there AKA lobster night. Le Bistro: Excellent! our server was Cinderella she was good the Maitre d was super nice great! we had French onion soup lobster martini and braised short ribs falls off the bone with a Filet Mignon like butter and of course Fondue! Bamboo: Great! Our server's Nerie and Miesel are Awesome! the maitre d also great. My son had the all the Sushi you can eat and he really ate a lot and loved it. I had the Hot and Sour soup the best I ever had. Spring rolls great and dumplings good and beef with broccoli it was good and fried banana spring rolls with ice cream yum. The staff is really amazing great night out! Blue Lagoon: Good! Perfect for when you want fast finger food the wings are really good. Garden cafe Buffet: Good not great its a Buffet! perfect for breakfast and lunch when you're not sure what you want to eat so you just eat everything my son loved the Ramen soup I only had the desserts bread pudding DeLish! Salsa: Ok! The food was very good as it was last year. The server was the worst I wish I knew his name really bad! asked if we wanted drinks before dinner when I said no he made a face and mind you some in our party had wine they bought then during the meal he asked again as if the cokes didn't cost enough and at the end if we wanted mexican coffee and when I said no the face and a nasty tone not good and not that others in our party didn't have sambucca oh well he made the dinner just OK yuck. Impressions of Italy: I did not eat there others in our party did they did not like it I ate there last year before the change wasn't so good. Cagney's: Again I didn't eat there but others in my party said it was Ok no big deal. Chocolate Buffet: Hello its all Chocolate it was Amazing! Poolside BBQ: Good! We had hotdogs and burgers and pasta perfect for poolside Bimini Grill: Great! Burgers, Hotdogs and fries the bartender is lots of fun! Sprinkles Ice Cream: Great! we had a cone almost everyday the change the flavors! Our Cabin: We stayed in an AB cabin again same as last year Awesome love it! I did walk down and looked at one of the Owners suites really nice and big, but I still love the AB and my laptop worked great in the cabin after buying the plan from the Internet Cafe nice women working there but she said it would not work in the room it does! Ok I'm on a roll speaking of rolls great rolls and bread in all the restaurants! This Review would not be complete without telling about A Wonderful butler named Ravi just some info on us we have had Butler service in some of the top hotels and he far exceeded our expectations. Ravi our wonderful Butler: From the moment we met him he had a smile on his face he made us feel right at home! He stopped in everyday without us having to call and when we did call he was happy to hear from us! We had breakfast almost everyday in the room snacks and a lunch and one dinner. If I had a problem or felt unsure of something he would be the first person I would call. If your are going on the dawn in the near future staying in an AB cabin you are in for a treat! Great Job on NCL's part they found a true treasure. He will be going on vacation the end of September he said. I hope to see him back on the Dawn he would making booking the Dawn again a No-Brainer! Oh and he is getting married in October his face lit up as he told us Congrats to them!!! Casino: Great! Well what can I say its a gamble and I lost my Butt off! But I did see others win. The staff is great as is all the servers! Room stewards: Excellent! Tito and Greg Super nice guys room was kept clean they remembered our names and used them made us towel animals every night we asked them to as soon as we met them and some days we got 2! I brought lots of chocolate from home snickers m&m's lots of stuff and told them to take some anytime They really liked that. Matt Baker: Great same as last year very fun! Bollywood: Excellent! Again lol Kids Crew: Excellent my son went about 4 days and 3 nights had a ball! great staff kids have a good time. Chair Hogs: Ncl got smart they now charge you $25 if you lose a towel guess what I had no problems finding a chair but I did leave my towels on my chairs for 5 minutes to take my son to the restroom and guess what someone took one not cool but it was a wal-mart towel I brought same blue and white stripes so no big deal. Leaving the Dawn This time I asked Ravi what time is the best to order breakfast and use that as a wake-up call we were in no hurry to leave with the VIPs he said 9 and make our way off about 1030 and that worked great we left the ship about 10:25 after they called the last color a breeze no line no wait just walked right off perfect! This was like a different cruise compared to last year im glad we gave NCL another try we had an amazing time great cruise!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
This was our first time cruising. My husband and I were accompanied on this cruise (7/28-8/4) by our two daughters, ages 10 and 17, along with my parents who have cruised a few times before, but never on the Norwegian line. Prior to ... Read More
This was our first time cruising. My husband and I were accompanied on this cruise (7/28-8/4) by our two daughters, ages 10 and 17, along with my parents who have cruised a few times before, but never on the Norwegian line. Prior to departure, we filled out our preboarding information on the NCL website. We brought our e-documents with us, along with our passports. Embarkation took place in New York city. We drove to the Manhattan Terminal from Massachusetts. We left early in the morning and arrived in NYC at approximately 9:15AM. Parking for the week was $168 and due upon arrival. There were representatives inside to point us in the correct direction to check-in. We found all of them to be pleasant and helpful. We found check-in to be surprisingly simple. We handed the representative our e-documents and she took the necessary papers and returned the rest of the information to us. Each one of us had to have our picture taken, complete a customs form for the Bahamas, and then we received our room card keys. We were then seated in a large open area for approximately an hour and then we went through customs. We had our embarkation photo taken, and then proceeded to board the ship. We decided to have lunch in the Venetian, but found out it wouldn't open for lunch until 12:30PM, so we ate lunch at the Garden Cafe (Food Court.) We enjoyed the Garden Cafe and ate breakfast there most mornings. We ate lunch there a couple of times. Our rooms were ready around 2PM. The ship was filled to capacity and we didn't receive our luggage in our room until after dinner. I was concerned about the dinner dress code, but after a quick phone call found out that what we were wearing was fine since it was embarkation day. We ate dinner at Impressions (Italian restaurant) and enjoyed it. It became one of our favorites. The Norwegian Dawn is a lovely ship! It is colorful and filled with beautiful artwork. It holds 2,224 guests and 1,086 crew members. The Dawn was built in 2002 and refurbished in 2005. It was docked in Boston, MA in the Spring of 2007 to fix engine problems. We did not experience any engine problems on our cruise and arrived at all ports on time. We stayed in an Inside Cabin. Although it was cozy for the four of us, we made it work. Thanks to a wonderful picture posted on "Web shots", we placed our beds in a "U" formation and our youngest daughter slept on the Pullman bed. We left the TV Web Cam on a few nights and enjoyed waking to the beautiful sunshine. The small fridge in the room was perfect to store our soda cans in. (Yes, we brought our own soda on board and it worked out perfectly for us.) We did however, purchase the "unlimited soda card" for our 10 year old ($16.00) and the Teen "Passport booklet" with 20 non-alcoholic drink tickets ($34.50) for our 17 year old. We found the bathroom to be pretty spacious and we all enjoyed the shower. We always had hot water at any time during the day and good water pressure. We always had plenty of clean towels supplied twice daily. Activities were definitely plentiful on the Dawn. There was Bingo, Arts & Crafts, Karaoke, A Belly Flop contest, "Mr. Hairy Chest" competition, Enrichment Lectures, "Wii" competitions, Aerobics, Cooking Demos, and the list goes on. There was Sooo much to chose from. We enjoyed playing cards and Yahtzee in the Shuffles room. Our favorite pasttime was sitting on the pool deck in the beautiful sunshine, and listening to the great music. My husband worked out each morning in the Eldorado Fitness Center. It was well maintained and the equipment was first rate. My mother enjoyed speed walking around the jogging track each morning. Restaurants were plentiful on the Dawn, however, our one problem was trying to make a reservation to eat at Salsa's. We never had the opportunity to eat there. It was disappointing, since it was the one restaurant our teenage daughter wanted to eat at. We tried to make reservations early in the morning, and during the afternoon for the next day, but to no avail. My father was very disappointed. He even spoke to someone at the Reception Desk, but no one helped us. The restaurant reservation system was really our only complaint of the Dawn. There were two people sitting in Salsa's restaurant who took reservations by phone, and from those lining up. There needs to be a better system. We tried calling, but the phone line was frequently busy. AS for Dining, we ate at Impressions, the Venetian, Aqua, Blue Lagoon Cafe, the Garden Cafe, the Poolside BBQ, Bimini Grill and at Sprinkles Ice Cream. We enjoyed the food, but we all thought that the main dining rooms, Aqua and the Venetian, should offer a wider variety of items to chose from. We found the menus to be very limited. We did have a lovely breakfast in the Venetian one morning. AS for the Chocoholic Buffet..........Who could ask for anything more??? It was wonderful! It was so nice to see that they had a sugar free section as well. Our daughters enjoyed ordering room service. Service on the Dawn was found to be very good. Our stateroom was always cleaned twice daily. We found the staff to be pleasant and helpful. We were always greeted pleasantly by the staff while walking through the hallways, and throughout the ship. We enjoyed the service in most of the dining rooms. The Venetian's servers weren't quite as friendly as in Aqua or Impressions, but they were adequate. We found the service in Aqua and Impressions to be terrific. We loved Maria, Melinda and Melody! They always stopped by while in the Garden Cafe to say "Hello" and to make sure we were having a "Good" time. Our cruise director was Matt Baker. We enjoyed him very much. Bundle of energy. He always wanted to make sure everyone was having a "GOOD" time! I'd still like to know how he can tumble from the audience on to the stage in the Stardust Theater! Impressive! (Okay, my husband just informed me about the trampoline. (Sorry,I never saw it!) We thoroughly enjoyed the shows in the Stardust Theater at night! We loved "Band on the Run" and "Bollywood!" The cast was terrific! We enjoyed having a priest on board, and being able to attend the church services. Our youngest daughter enjoyed the Kid's Club. She was a "Navigator." They met in the "Teen Disco" during the day. Although our daughter was busy swimming, etc. during the beginning of our cruise, she was happy to participate in the Kid's Club during the last couple of days of the cruise. She made some nice friends. She even participated in a talent show. We didn't participate in any shore excursions. We chose to go to a beach in the Bahamas and to shop. We all enjoyed it. Both of our daughters had their hair braided while in the Bahamas too. They had fun! We all enjoyed Great Stirrup Cay! The water was beautiful! We had beach chairs right by the water, while my parents got chairs and a picnic table in the shade. My husband and mother took a walk to the lighthouse. They enjoyed their walk and saw iguanas and other pretty sights. Although the beach was a bit crowded, we had anticipated it, so it didn't bother us. The beach bbq was tasty and we enjoyed looking in the straw market too. We enjoyed Bermuda. We took the ferry to Hamilton (Nice ride!) Unfortunately, we were there on a holiday and because of that, bus service was limited. We chose to go to Crystal Caves. We enjoyed the caves, but wish we had time to go to Horseshoe Bay too. Because of the limited bus schedule, we didn't have the time to do both. So, we completed our day by strolling around the Clock Tower Mall. We thought Bermuda was beautiful. The colors, the water, the greenery, just beautiful. Disembarkation was fine. We got breakfast at the Garden Cafe, and ate it pool side while the ship docked in NYC. It was beautiful sailing under the bridge! We returned to our room and had our luggage ready to disembark the ship. Since we had a lengthy drive home, we chose to do "Express" disembarkation. We chose to carry our own luggage off of the ship. We waited in line, but it was pretty quick moving and orderly. We were off the ship and in our car by 9:20AM. We enjoyed our cruise and we would sail NCL again. My parents enjoyed the NCL experience, but still enjoy RCI better. They found the freestyle dining to take away from the cruise experience a bit. The dinner reservation system was found to be difficult and we hope they can make changes to the system so that all guests get the opportunity to try a restaurant of their choice. We enjoyed the staff, and found them to be hard working and pleasant. Entertainment was first rate! Embarkation and Disembarkation were found to be easy. It is definitely a vacation that we will all remember! Yes, we all had a "GOOD" time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click