992 Norwegian Dawn Bermuda Cruise Reviews

This is my wife and I's first time on NCL but we have cruised on three other lines. Cruse left out of NY which is a 2 1/2 hour drive for us from home. Being able to drive to the embarkation point was a major reason for taking the ... Read More
This is my wife and I's first time on NCL but we have cruised on three other lines. Cruse left out of NY which is a 2 1/2 hour drive for us from home. Being able to drive to the embarkation point was a major reason for taking the NCL Dawn and the fact that we had not been to Bermuda before. Being in driving distance is nice but be aware that parking is a real problem. Parking at the port was $210.00 for the week but the alternatives were not particularly attractive either. The train from where we live (north east Maryland) is just as expensive and the bus was not appealing to me. Both of the latter would have additionally required cabbing from Penn station. First impressions of the ship were positive. We liked the funky exterior paint job, including the promenade deck. After spending some time exploring, we both felt the interiors lacked a common theme. When leaving one area of the ship and entering another, there did not seem to be a unifying thread in decor, color, etc. to tie them together. We had a balcony room and the balconies are smaller than other lines we have used. The room itself was probably the smallest we have had and the storage areas are pretty minimal - basically one set of smallish drawers and a second set inside the closet. The best part of the stateroom is the bathroom, head and shoulders above any others we have used, pun intended. The separate shower and toilet with sliding doors works great when two people are trying to get ready at the same time. Additionally, the shower was nice and big and I wasn't constantly brushing up against a clammy wet curtain. We thought about trying some of the additional pay eateries on the ship, but ultimately stuck with the included restaurants. Actually, I won a raffle ticket in the casino for a free dinner in Bamboo, the asian spot. We checked the menu but didn't find anything compelling so we didn't use the coupon. It seemed like there were promotions all week for Bamboo and it was never close to full when we walked by. Maybe this is an option that just does not have a wide enough appeal to justify the space. Food in the dining rooms was fine, had a couple of good steaks. Also, I liked being able to have breakfast in Aqua and both that I did were wonderful. Lot of people said they like the wings at Blue Lagoon - I thought they were fair at best. Bermuda is great. Snorkeled, walked around, checked out the historical sights. No excursions, we tend to go our own way most of the time. Best bargain in town is the unlimited bus/ferry pass. $20.00 for two days and no worries about cost to get from place to place. Impressions: Shopping area on the ship too condensed - we like separate shops to wander through. Picture gallery was blocking the corridor and should have a better place for people to stand and look. 2nd City show was inappropriate for this cruise - I don't know who vetted this one. Magician was crappy - fake feet still showing from bottom of 'saw him in half box' after he jumps down at end. He also brought out his kid to look cute and take up the last 10 minutes instead of actually doing additional tricks. Casino was the tightest I have experienced, land or sea, bar none. We enjoyed the duo that sang in Dazzles a couple of nights. All and all - we had a great time and NCL was fine. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Well this is my first review so I will try to keep it flowing and honest, but please bear with me. My wife and I are in our late 20's and have been on three cruises each before. We took the Crown to Bermuda in 2006 on our anniversary ... Read More
Well this is my first review so I will try to keep it flowing and honest, but please bear with me. My wife and I are in our late 20's and have been on three cruises each before. We took the Crown to Bermuda in 2006 on our anniversary and had a horrible experience but after some positive feedback from some friends on other NCL cruises, we decided to try again with the Dawn. We celebrated our two year anniversary on the boat, and we are both very happy we decided to do so! So what lies ahead is my best attempt at a review. Just a heads up, I love food, which you will find as you read along. Day 1: Arrived at the pier at 10:30, sped through the latitudes line and were checked in by 10:45. We were given group six and sat with other to wait. They started with number three and by the second call of groups, we were ready to dock. Entering on Deck 7 is a beautiful sight. We were immediately given our glass of campaign and then headed right to the reservation desk. We booked for Salsa for that night and Cagney's on Tuesday for our anniversary. We had a mini-suite (more on this later) and I don't know if that allowed us to book a couple days in advance or not. With all the people behind us, I think the woman was just happy to give me what I wanted and I was thankful as well. ? We then headed to the Garden Cafe for lunch, which was very good. Excellent chilled banana soup, surprisingly good pizza, and pretty cool stations like the pasta one. We then took our own private tour of the ship walking around checking all the areas out. Major tip here, go to all the specialty restaurants. They have samples on spoons to try! At about 1:30 an announcement was made that our rooms were ready and we checked out our room. Loved the mini suite (11026)! Decent size balcony, nice layout, not a single complaint about the room. That first night we ate at Salsa. The lobster tacos were pretty good, but were served in a hard shell (we found this odd). You get a nice amount of salsa, guacamole, etc with chips and can ask for more. The Sangria is awesome and highly recommended! The welcome aboard show was good, however being that we saw Dave Heenan in the past, he had zero new jokes. We left early. Late night snack at blue lagoon. Awesome wings, but my wife did not really love her spinach and artichoke dip. She said it was edible, but not recommended. Day 2: Day at sea. Spent most of the day relaxing. Went to Aqua for breakfast which was excellent. The hash browns are great. Service was excellent, extremely fast. Lunch was in the Garden Cafe and the pretzel bread is quite a standout. I would see people taking handfuls back to their rooms. Great stuff. While my wife went to the spa, I hung out in the Casino. As I was at the bar watching sports center, Pedro was there and hung out with my talking football. He remembered me from a cruise back on the Crown in 06. Great guy. Later that day was the meet and great which was well attended. Pedro, the captain, the hotel director and I think the head chef were all present. Later that night was dinner in Venetian. We had no wait at all and found that there wasn't a single wait for us at either dinning room. Service was again good and we had the lobster dish which was good, not great. I thought the lobster was too tough. I had some wings from blue lagoon again and attempted to sit in the pearly king pub with a beer to watch the Monday night football game, but could not because it was back so I headed back to the room. On this night, instead of chocolate on our pillows, we found chocolate chip cookies!! Newlywed game was this night, it was funny. We also sat and listened to Jose and Patti, but they weren't really our style, although they were good. We loved Berni Martini and spent almost every night in Gatsby's listening to him. Day 3: Breakfast in Garden Cafe. Same food as aqua, except there was cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing and chocolate croissants. Neither of these was available in aqua. On this day we attended our first NCL U which was the Sangria and Tapas one. It was great. They head bartender shows you how to make Sangria and the chef for Salsa teaches you how to make some of the tapas. They also give you recipes for both so you can make them on your own when you go home. At this point the boat was pretty rocky,. We were fine but many others seemed to be bothered by the swaying. We then went over the Pearly King Pub for Wii bowling tournament. This was a great place to hang out. Felix, the cruise director staff member that runs games in the pub, is hysterical. My wife rocked at Wii bowling, but neither of us scored high enough for the finals. We attended the latitudes event which was surprisingly a lot of fun. Free drinks were handed out and there were a ton of giveaways. Dinner at Cagney's for our anniversary. I was not impressed. The shrimp cocktail were big, but tough. The lobster bisque was horrible. Maybe I am a brat, but my steak (the rib eye) was flavorless. My wife did not like her crab cakes either, which were covered in guacamole, which we both found strange. Later that night we listened to some more Bernie Martini, then headed to bed. Day 4: Bermuda! Elbow beach, Swizzle Inn and a lot of shopping in Hamilton. We bought the three day bus pass, made it very easy to get around the island. At night we attended the pub games which were pretty funny. Lots of little NCL prizes. Felix is great and I suggest going to this. We capped off the night with a drink at Gatsby's listening to Bernie Martini. Day 5: Bermuda! Horseshoe Bay, lunch at lobster pot, Bermuda Aquarium and some more shopping. We were selected to have dinner this evening with the cruise consultant manager Candace. We did notice that all cruise critic members who entered the "drawing" were all assigned someone. Candace was very nice, and did not attempt to sell us any cruise rewards which we were thankful for. Later that night we went to the Chocolate buffet. This was pretty good to average. Get their early and fill your plate. Whatever you do, do not try the chocolate sushi. Absolutely horrible! We made some friends from Massachusetts here and joined their team for the Quest game. Prior to that we all watched the Liar's club which was surprisingly funny. The Quest game is nuts, and a lot of fun. I had a little help from a fellow cruise critic member's wife... lol. We came in third and were pretty happy. Day 6: Bermuda! Horseshoe Bay, lunch at the Beach Bistro and final souvenir shopping at Hamilton and Dockyard. We were back on the boat early enough to attend some more trivia with Felix. No prizes this time, but still a fun experience. The boat was late leaving because of a medical emergency. Later that evening you could feel it getting somewhat rocky as the captain was trying to make up time, but for the most part everything was tolerable. We attended Second City which was awesome. It is a shame that they kept them hidden until the last couple of nights on the boat. Day 7: Boat was really rocky during the day. My wife and I attended the perfect couple game. The crowd voted for us to win, but they gave the prizes to someone else. We were still happy with the bags that we got as consolation prizes. Back to the boat. It was so rocky, that the captain announced that it was safest to stay off of the outside decks. He also reported that there were 50 MPH wind gusts. It was raining outside as well and was just downright miserable. I was able to eat a little something, but my wife was very nauseous. There were those little throw up bags all over the boat. I toughed it and attended Second City late that night. I was one of 4 people there... It was bad. For me, the sea band wristbands really helped. My wife wasn't sick, but she didn't feel well enough to move around. Disembarkation: Arrived in NY on time, but were out in the water delayed a half hour due to high winds. We chose the 9:30 time, and departed the boat closer to 10. Getting through customs was slow, but not that bad. We were back home by 11:00. Overall it was a great cruise. I highly recommended it to all! One word of advice about the soda pass. We bought it and I think it was a waste of money. The staff were angry anytime you showed it to them, and you need to drink 50 sodas a day to make even. Also, they use flat soda for the soda passes, but fresh cans if you order the soda straight up. The bartenders in the Spinnaker Lounge were the only ones that didn't give me a hard time so I went there every day. Great guys. Check them out! Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
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
We are in our early 50's and have been on 9 cruises. This was our fourth time to Bermuda and first time on the Dawn. I have been on the NCL Spirit twice and love the Freestyle concept. We take a bus from PA to Port Authority Bus ... Read More
We are in our early 50's and have been on 9 cruises. This was our fourth time to Bermuda and first time on the Dawn. I have been on the NCL Spirit twice and love the Freestyle concept. We take a bus from PA to Port Authority Bus Terminal and a cab to the dock. Arrived about 11 a.m. and were on the ship by 11:30. Simple and fast moving lines. Love the welcome aboard drink. We were able to check our carryon bag at Dazzles lounge where they store it for you and give you a receipt and the item can be picked up when the cabins are ready at 2:00 p.m. I really appreciated this service. We had lunch in the Garden Buffet and the food selection was always good and my only observation is the set up of this buffet. It is U shaped with many selections so you must navigate the entire room in order to see what is there. This is the case with breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you get your breakfast on the left side of the buffet, the toast is all the way in the back corner of the right side. The drink stations are also disjointed and we laughed all week about how you must circle the entire area just to get a cup of coffee. The coffee is on one side, the sugar around the corner and the cream at the other end. Be sure and try the cold soups at the Garden Buffet. Yummy!!! I had the banana, pistachio (to die for!) and black cherry. Our outside cabin seemed small on first view but sufficient for the two of us for the week. It is set up nicely with shelves above the desk area and in the closet and two sets of drawers. Our luggage fit under the bed. Love the bathrooms with the sink area in the center, shower on the right with sliding door (no shower curtains sticking to you!) and the commode on the other side. The bed was the most comfortable ever and I slept soundly every night. The upgraded bedding was also very comfy with a down comfortable and soft sheets. Wish I would have asked what the mattress topper was made of as I haven't had a decent night's sleep in our bed since being back home. The food was excellent in the Aqua and Venetian dining rooms. DH is a picky eater and found something on the menu each night we dined there. Lobster was served twice that week. The first formal night it was a half of a lobster tail served with grouper and drawn butter. Excellent!!! Desserts on this ship are also very very good. I could tell a huge difference in the food since my first NCL cruise in May of 2006. We also loved the Blue Lagoon on Deck 7 and went for breakfast a few mornings and a good place to get coffee early in the morning. The entertainment was very good in the theatre. The dancers were very professional and the comedian Dave Heenan is a real riot. He is very personable and nice to talk to when seen all over the ship. The magician was good but his comedy lacking. This was our first cruise where we went to the show every night. Do not miss the crew's talent show. Excellent!! Also very good is the Bollywood show which has acrobatics and again, very professional. Aslo be sure and attend the Liar's Club show in the Spinnaker Lounge. Really funny!! There is a very good piano player in Gatsby's Bar and Dazzles features Jose and Patti a duo who does 60's, 70's, and a Neil Diamond song show. Not our cup of tea but they packed the area every night. We played Wii Boxing one day in Pearly's Pub and that was fun. Bermuda.......ahhh Bermuda, our favorite destination. We buy the bus and ferry pass and went to Horseshoe Bay twice and Tobacco Bay. Love the view when walking up the small hill behind the refreshment stand and seeing the beautiful blue lagoons down below. Embarrassed to say that we still have not made it over to Harbor Nights in our four trips there. We love the beach, touring around on the bus and ferry and once back on the ship, enjoy dinner and the ship environment. Our Meet and Mingle was very nice and the Hotel Director and Manager attended and they were very informative. Pedro the Cruise Director was very good and a really good sense of humor. With the new 2.0 there are no longer pool games on sea days but a reggae type band who played two sets each day. There was a medical emergency on our first sea day and only limited information at 11 pm with an announcement that the ship had turned around, the speed was increased and we were heading back to NYC. I looked out our cabin window and could not believe how fast we were traveling! We heard the next day that the Captain and crew were up all night, and a Coast Guard helicopter landed on the ship at 3 a.m. to airlift the passenger off. The ship then turned around and speeded back toward Bermuda and we arrived on schedule. Very impressive that the emergency was handled so swiftly and hoping all is well with the passenger. A wonderful vacation on the Dawn and my only complaint is that it had to end!! 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
We sailed on the Aug 3 New York-Bermuda run; Frank Tartaro's review "Dawn Disaster" pretty much sums up our experience, though we ate in fewer restaurants than they did. Embarkation was the easiest I've ever ... Read More
We sailed on the Aug 3 New York-Bermuda run; Frank Tartaro's review "Dawn Disaster" pretty much sums up our experience, though we ate in fewer restaurants than they did. Embarkation was the easiest I've ever encountered, as was disembarkation. Alas, everything in between was much less satisfactory. Our balcony cabin on deck 10 was adequate, nothing more. On previous ships the balcony was large enough for two lounge chairs; here only two chairs, not loungers, fit. Likewise the bathroom was as small as any I have ever seen on a ship and the smallest I have ever seen in a balcony grade cabin. The cabin itself was also tight, though we got used to it. The room stewards kept the cabin clean, and, unlike others on this cruise, ours did introduce themselves. The food was a major disappointment. We ate in Aqua the first night and hated the room, disliked our lackadaisical server and thought the food was mediocre. We ate in the Venetian on four nights and enjoyed that more, though the food was again mediocre at best and almost always too salty. I agree with the reviewer who wondered what the kitchen did to the prime rib; it was unlike any I have ever encountered and I fervently hope never to encounter it again. Salsa was an improvement, as was the sushi bar. Both of those meals were quite good, though nothing better than we can get locally in the New York area. We might have tried Impressions (Italian) or the steak house, but quite frankly, I resent paying extra for food on a ship. This was my 21st sailing and I have watched the nickel and diming of passengers grow apace; I for one dislike the trend! I have subscribed to "Cruise Travel" magazine for years and have read with interest the ongoing discussion of freestyle cruising versus the traditional sit-at-the-same-table approach. I understand both sides of the argument but having now sampled Norwegian Line's version, I opt for traditional! One image that was truly shocking was of dozens of people standing outside the two main (free) restaurants on the first night, waiting for tables. Actually only half were standing; the others were sitting on the steps. This is NOT an image NCL uses in its brochure, and hardly matches one's expectations of shipboard dining! To be fair, things did get better as the days passed, but this is the first time on any cruise ever that I have waited, even a minute, for a table. The other aspect of this cruise that was completely unsatisfactory was the tendering ashore. At King's Wharf the ship doesn't even offer free transport; one must purchase a ride on a large local ferry. That turned out to be a blessing, however, as we learned when we "sailed" a mile into the harbor for the third day in Bermuda. There we boarded another local ferry that took over 30 minutes to load and another 30 to unload. TOTALLY unacceptable! I can't comment on the ship's entertainment because we don't go to shows or take part in activities. We cruise to relax, read and spend time together, preferably in a lounge chair on our balcony - we'll book with another line for that. Oh, one last comment: NCL claims to require "resort casual" attire in the ship's public rooms after 5pm - don't believe it! We saw plenty of shorts, t-shirts and worse in the dining rooms. Elegance, you are sorely missed! Read Less
Sail Date August 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
Since I got so much great information on cruising from this site, thought I should pay it back with a detailed (and long) review of the Dawn 8/17 sail out of NY...It was my husband and myself (late 30s, if it matters) We had a fantastic ... Read More
Since I got so much great information on cruising from this site, thought I should pay it back with a detailed (and long) review of the Dawn 8/17 sail out of NY...It was my husband and myself (late 30s, if it matters) We had a fantastic time, but as we did not do too much of the entertainment, I can't really rate it. If you have a question about the Dawn, let me know and I will try to answer. Here's what we did... Embarkation: Got to the pier at 11:15 and was paying corkage on my wine (4 bottles) about 3 minutes later! No big deal, got it all paid and was all processed and on the boat by about 11:45. We had a mini-suite and went into a special line to get processed, but I don't think the line for regular rooms was any longer. Very smooth process, I was drinking my free champagne in no time (yes, it was cheap, but not the worst I've ever had) Rooms were not ready so we checked our hand luggage (very easy) and explored the ship-I have to say the whole ship looked spotless and the staff was very friendly. We made reservations at Le Bistro for that night and Salsa the next-no problem getting 7:30 each night. I did excursions on-line a few weeks ago so that was taken care of. Toured the gym and signed up for Yoga-4 classes for 30 bucks-I suggest you bring your own mat-it takes up very little space and is cleaner! Gym looks great, tons of machines and classes We went to the Venetian for lunch, I did not like my entrEe (Thai noodles with Beef) so I sent it back and got EXCELLENT risotto instead, my husband had good quiche. Good service, no issues. Our room was ready so we went to check it out-we were in a forward mini-suite on 11-I must say, our room was SPOTLESS and all set up. Everything gleamed, and our gin had been delivered. All through the trip, our stewards (Renato and Claudia) were excellent, every request filled, always a smile, towel animals every night (for what that's worth) and a spotless room. Dinner at Le Bistro-Best service all week (and all service was generally very good) -excellent food, highlights include rack of lamb, mushroom soup and asparagus with orange sabayon. The chocolate fondue was just okay-none of the deserts really did it for me all week. Also, the shipboard wines by the glass list is generally very good. $20 cover per person, I would say it was worth it. Gave money to the Casino, went to bed. The new bedding on board, by the way was great-very plush and comfy, higher quality sheets. Sea Day 1-Room service coffee, then to the Gym for 8:30 yoga and a workout. Yoga was good-45 minutes of mixed Asana/Bikram. The gym was crowded, but after class I had no problem getting a machine. I suggest you wipe it down before using; no one seems to wipe the machines when they are done and they do not post instructions to do so. I realize I sound like a clean freak, but with that many people on a boat-better safe then sick! Breakfast at The Garden-Very crowded, very noisy, but decent for breakfast. My complaint about the Garden is that they put all the action food stations (omelet's, waffles, pasta etc) in the middle of the line, so it clogs everything up. They also arrange the salad bar backwards (lettuce last) so it slows things down-not a huge problem, but interesting nonetheless. Went out to the deck to relax-The pool area was PACKED. I mean really crowded in a way that was completely unappealing to me. The pool scene was probably great for kids and teens, and no one seemed to have "held" chairs, they all looked used, but I wanted less people. We went up to the front of the boat by the adults only hot tub and it was so much nicer-quiet, breezy, and mellow. It was perfect up there. Did the Garden for lunch, good salad bar fare and an ice tea, nothing special but just what I wanted. My husband liked the deli and the carving board. We had dinner at Salsa (yes, $10 cover now, but no charge for lobster tacos). Maybe it was an off night, maybe I thought it would be so much better because of everyone's raves, but I was generally unimpressed. The large circular layout makes service a challenge (staff can't always see you). Black Bean Soup was excellent, Lobster Tacos tough and over cooked and the El Popo (kind of silly, actually) was over cooked and cold by the time it reached us. Blah deserts and my husband sent back his margarita-it was not too good. The pros were excellent soup, salsa and chips, but I would have been just as happy at the Venetian. Cocktail, casino, bed Sea Day 2-Yoga, Gym, Breakfast (Garden), Deck, Lunch (Garden), Deck Got a chance to walk through the stores-good selection of cologne and perfume, t-shirts, any toiletry you may have forgotten. Just okay with jewelry, but that's subjective. Boy, do they push this "new, amazing, fossil gem" called ammelite (sp?) Not my style. They also push the Park West Art gallery. I got a chance to check out the spa-Could not believe they do Botox and Restylne on board! I wonder how many people would actually do that on a ship. I must say, I was getting sick of all the sales pitches-the jewelry, the botox, the art-they have at least 3 TV channels dedicated to it and the whole Freestyle Daily is devoted to selling stuff. They put tons of flyers in your room too. It got to be too much. Dinner at Aqua-nice, not too crowded, good food, walked in at 8pm and was seated immediately. Service was pleasant. I would recommend the salmon (always available), roast pork loin, black bean soup, shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad. We wandered into the theatre for part of the dance review-looked pretty good, nothing great. Called it an early night. Bermuda Day 1-just read the little note in our room about being able to go to Aqua for breakfast as a mini-suite (and balcony) perk-this is the way to go! No crowds, very mellow and great cappuccino, but you need to get there by 9:30. We wandered around the naval dockyard and visited the clock tower shops before heading back to the ship to have lunch and change for the excursion-we did the kayak trip. It was very nice, good views of the fish and reefs, but I would have liked more actual exercise and kayaking. This is a good introduction for anyone who wants to try kayaking and suitable for kids as young as 4 or 5 (not sure what the NCL age requirements are) The nine beach resort portion of the trip could be longer, but it was nice. We had dinner at Impressions, the Italian restaurant ($10 cover and we just walked in and got a table at about 8:15) and it was one of the best deals going-the food was excellent (highlights include the antipasti trolley with tri-colored salad, pasta e fagioli, shrimp risotto, and osso bucco with polenta. Best desert of the whole trip-the tiramisu. We listened to music in Gatsby's before going to the cabin to watch a movie. Bermuda Day 2-husband played golf and had a great time-but FYI, the excursion cost of golf does not include taxi fare to the course-for him it was $40 each way, but he split the ride back with another cruiser. I did the gym and then had a massage-last minute choice and as it was a port day they could fit me in. I had a great massage-very knowledgeable technician, not talking, no sales pitch. Just how I like it. We went shopping in Hamilton in the afternoon, took the bus in-45 minute ride for $4 and you get to see the island, we took the ferry back. All shops in Hamilton seem to close by 5:30, with Wednesday being the late night. We had dinner at the Venetian and the food and service were both great. We had really good Prime Rib. Bermuda Day 3-We went on the mountain bike tour-it was very nice and goes through an old railway that has been converted to a bike trail-very nice scenery and good exercise, I could have ridden longer. Back to the 9 beach resort for a swim (part of the excursion) and then back in time for lunch and sail away. I am sure we could have done more in Bermuda, but we really wanted to just relax. It was also nice having the ship empty out a bit. Apparently, 3 people missed the boat in Bermuda. We saw the most interesting thing from our balcony-as we left Bermuda, the pilot boat pulled along side us and seemed to take on someone's luggage (the people we left behind?) and then one person got OFF the Dawn (by rope ladder) and got on the pilot boat. One of the crew members said that the Dawn is always piloted out of Bermuda by a local pilot who then leaves the boat; apparently the coral around Bermuda is tough to navigate. Can anyone confirm? It was really interesting to watch. We had dinner at Bamboo-sushi and Chinese food-Service was really good, the sushi was just average, did not seem like high grade sushi fish. I highly recommend the Asian BBQ ribs, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Beef and Broc, and the Sesame chicken. I think you could also make a great meal there out of the appetizers. The cover ($20 per person) was not worth the sushi, but the other food was good. I would not recommend going if all you wanted was great sushi. Cocktails, Casino, Movie, Bed Sea Day 3-Yoga, Gym, Breakfast The morning was gray and chilly so we wandered around, saw a movie, packed a bit, had lunch. It started to clear so we went to the sun deck and hung out. Last dinner at Impressions again (the pay restaurants seemed more crowded the last night). We had our luggage out side by 12 and turned in with our chocolate chip cookies (way better than the buffet ones!) Debarkation-Venetian breakfast. The line for walk offs was long and messy, but we were lucky enough to have VIP debarkation-off the boat by 9:15, in the car by 10. All in all, GREAT cruise. Every member of the Dawn staff was gracious and eager to please, the ship was spotless, food ranged from adequate to excellent, with no real clunkers. Best Advice- • Bring a power strip • NCL will find all alcohol! Don't stress. Pay the corkage, get a bar set up or whatever, but if you sneak it, they WILL find it! I brought some nice bottles and had no issue bringing them into the dining room • Try the dining room breakfast if you can get up that early-it was a very civilized way to start the day • If you want to eat free-the dining rooms are an excellent choice • The forward sun deck stays pretty calm-no crowds, music is muted, very relaxing. Most people don't find it until day 3 or 4! • Get a balcony if you can-I loved watch the sea go by! • Pack half of what you think you will need! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
So here we go. Our family (the 4 of us; 2 adults 2 kids 10 and 3; my inlaws, aunt and uncle, and their daughter and companion) a total of 10 traveled on the Dawn to Bermuda on 8/10/08. We have all cruised extensively and chose the Dawn ... Read More
So here we go. Our family (the 4 of us; 2 adults 2 kids 10 and 3; my inlaws, aunt and uncle, and their daughter and companion) a total of 10 traveled on the Dawn to Bermuda on 8/10/08. We have all cruised extensively and chose the Dawn because of the freestyle dining and it was the only ship that did a 7 night Bermuda from NYC. Embarkation - what a breeze. We thought we were off to a GREAT start! Arrived at 1030 and boarded by 1130! When we boarded we were told to go the buffet at the Garden Cafe. The crew was adamant that the Venetian was CLOSED. NOT TRUE! It opens at 1230! They will insist and insist and insist that it is not open! ARRGGHHHH. For its' size, the Dawn feels very crowded. The public areas and especially the pool are not well thought out at all. There is only one pool you can swim in on the entire ship (unless you want to pay $$ to use the indoor pool). They consider their tiny 4 foot pool as another one but, really. Don't get me wrong we had some good times in the pool especially on Saturday when the seas were rough and it was one giant, fun wave pool! They do have the T-Rex kids pool on the aft of the ship and it is difficult to get to. You must walk down very steep stairs or walk through the gym which children are not allowed. No one supervises it and small children were getting squashed by the bigger (and in my opinion much too old to be there 12-18) ones coming down the slides. Our activities consisted of quality family time together which we had, interruption free and with wonderful weather! Now to the service. The bartenders were wonderful. Very eager and at times pushy to serve you. Not a problem and never a wait. As to the service in the main (FREE) dining rooms. What to say but such a BIG disappointment. Rude, unattentive, and unaccommodating. FYI you need reservations for freestyle dining in the main dining rooms if you are a party larger than 5 people. Even then be prepared to wait up to 2 hrs. They only do reservation before 6 or after 8. So much for eat when you want and where. The only "when you want" is at the buffet. We didn't do any excursions through NCL. We bought the 3 day combo pass and used the buses and ferries. We went to Horseshoe Bay 2x (beautiful pink sand and water!!! We wasted time going to the dirty and raunchy Snorkel Park near the ship in King's Wharf. Don't go. Cigarette butts everywhere, broken glass and they play xrated music with families there. Also ventured to the original Swizzle Inn out by the airport. Arrive before 6pm to get a table. Swizzle Inn and Swagger out! LOL Our "mini-suite" was larger than a balcony and comfortable for the 4 of us. If only it was clean! Our balcony had hair everywhere and dirt and grime and dirty, sticky glass. There are NO suite benefits in the mini-suite as I was assured by NCL's booking department. It is NO different than a balcony cabin other than its' size. Dining - I highly recommend Cagney's!!! $20 per adult, $10 for kids 12 and under and kids I believe under 5 are free. Service was EXCELLENT as was the food. The extra $10 for lobster or crab or any other upgrades are worth is because you get 2 lobster tails or an entire bowl of King crab legs!!!! La Salsa was the same with EXCELLENT everything - now $10 per adult, $5 for kids 12 and under and the same for 5 and under (free). Impressions was also very good (same fee as La Salsa). The Sushi Bar was really good!!!! $15 for adults and $7.50 for kids 12 and under. Blue Lagoon, the diner, has the BEST chicken wings!!!! Service is a bit slow but they are so overworked there and you cannot fault them! It could be 2x the size and it will still be packed. They do serve breakfast there and not too many people know this so it is very good! The Venetian - YUCK! Service was terrible as were the portion sizes and the lack-luster food! I mean you are with children, have a personality, it wouldn't kill you! Honestly, only the caribbean staff or staff from India or Indonesia made any effort at all to smile or play around with the kids. We didn't do the kids club but many happy children were marching around the ship all painted up and sing. Entertainment... We did the magic show and the kids enjoyed it. The comedian is very inappropriate for the kids! So, in summation. Would we travel with NCL again? NO, NO, NO. Would I recommend them for your first cruise, sure why not. You will only move up from NCL with any other cruise line. The service you received in the paying restaurant is the service you get on ANY OTHER CRUISE LINE on any give day/time in any of their restaurants. I believe something has been lost in translation with the "FREESTYLE" concept. The old school staff know how to treat you but the newer, younger and primarily Filipino staff haven't a clue!!!!!! Disembarkation was also a breeze. We chose the Red tags which are the last ones off. Be prepared to be off by 930 because we thought we'd be off later because on embarkation people were still getting off at 1030! One more thing. My in-laws have been traveling to Bermuda for 40 years. Their last visit was 5 years ago. They were VERY disappointed at how RUDE many of the locals were. You really get the feeling they DON'T want you there nor do they want or need your business. Horseshoe Bay was beautiful but I certainly wouldn't travel that distance just for that!!!! We have been to Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Maarten and Martin, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Cancun, Cabo, Oaxaca, and so many more. We have stayed and cruised at these islands and found the people so very nice!! So, if you haven't cruise with NCL- go for it you will be in for a pleasant surprise on the next cruise line you book. If you have, well make the best of it and enjoy time with your family as we did! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Embarkation onto the ship for this cruise was AWESOME!!! It left Sunday so getting into the dock in New York was easy with little traffic (I live in NJ and drove there). We got there around 10am and was on board pretty quickly after that. ... Read More
Embarkation onto the ship for this cruise was AWESOME!!! It left Sunday so getting into the dock in New York was easy with little traffic (I live in NJ and drove there). We got there around 10am and was on board pretty quickly after that. We even forgot our boarding tickets at home but were able to talk to NCL folks and we got on no problem. Public rooms were nice and easy enough to get around in. It was my second time so I guess I kind of knew where everything was already. All the rooms I used (which really weren't that much) were fine. We had an inside cabin in J category (8153) which was the 2nd time we had it. As always the cabins are small but was enough for 2 adults and 2 small children (7, 4). My one complaint with the cabin is that the walls are PAPER thin and you can hear EVERYTHING through them. So when the neighbors come in yelling at their kids you can hear every word. My guess is that that's probably common among many cruise ships. The deck pool and fitness center were ok as well. They had the usual stuff you would expect ... treadmills, bikes, dumbbells. Not a lot of heavy stuff for the muscle heads though or pullup stuff. More just the basics for the average person. Didn't take any classes so I can't comment on that. As far as rates ... I'm going with a 3 since the overall service wasn't really as good as I expected. Was much better the first time on this cruise the year before. They didn't really match up the timing of the kids clubs opening and dining reservations which made the dining service VERY slow that first night compared to the other nights ... other restaurants the service was hit or miss. Some VERY good ... some not so good. Seems like I paid a lot for what I eventually got. Some of the excursion prices I thought were much too pricey considering you could grab a bus on Bermuda and pay about 75% less doing it on your own. That's just me though. Bermuda is probably an exception island since you can pretty much go anywhere safely. Kids club was really great. This is a huge selling point for my with 2 kids. And the hours of 9am - 10:30pm really make it easy for you to plan out your day and grab them for lunch whenever. Also it lessens the traffic through most of the restaurants during lunch/dinner because parents are stuck to a particular time to feed their kids. They've got this one down pat with the exception of maybe the first day on board. Dining was hit or miss. I have a nut and gluten food allergy so I'm REALLY picky when it comes to food. One nice thing is that every menu states to tell the waiter about any food allergies you have. Definitely a good thing. They do have a variety of food items for your allergies that you can have at least in my case (gluten-free bread, pizza, etc). In fact .. the gluten free pizza i had was one of the best I've ever had since I found out i had celiac. The bad part was that service was hit or miss depending on which restaurant. The French was by far the best restaurant. Italian was good ... the rest I could take or leave. The service at those are not so good at least on this cruise. Stuff taking entirely WAY too long to get to us. When you're with kids that's definitely not a good thing as they get antsy. I also had one incident at the Venetian where they gave me a regular english muffin instead of the gluten-free one. I had already bitten into it too (luckily hadn't swallowed anything) when they came over and told me the kitchen gave them the wrong one. Had to spit it out. Close call that really didn't leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling about eating there. Also had another incident in the Venetian where a glass broke in one our friend's child's mouth. No real damage done but kind of hard to believe the glass broke. She does have a tendency to bite on which most likely had something to do with it. But can't believe it was weak enough to break. That could have been a disaster. Luckily it wasn't. Entertainment was ok. We didn't really see many shows but the bands were ok ... typical cheesy ... but ok. Served their purpose (and I've been in cover bands so I know what to look for). I liked the Casinos ... although I only broke even. My wife won in blackjack so I guess you have a good outlook when you win! :-) Service I'm giving a 3 as well. Mostly had to do with food. All other services I thought were good (ie room, concierge, shore excursion, security,etc) Wife said the massage on board was "ok" and was annoyed they had to pay an extra $10 to sit in the "sitting room" after. They complained about that and got it for free. They were really annoyed about that though after paying for the massage ... and amount for the trip. They just felt NCL was skimping on that and didn't feel "luxurious". My golf outing was good though. Rented good clubs from the ship and played Riddel's bay in Bermuda. Definitely a nice course. Value for the money ... the food service wasn't as good as I would have liked so I'm giving it a 3 for the value for money paid. Overall cruise I'm giving a 3 as well since I have had better cruises to Bermuda. Also don't like the fact that it can only port in the Dockyards instead of Hamilton and St. George. Definitely like those ports better (Hamilton being my favorite). Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
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
This was our first cruise ever, and also our first time to Bermuda. The trip was our honeymoon-we were married on August 2, 2008 and left on the Dawn on August 3, 2008! (We were a little tired that night!) We are 28 and 29 years old. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever, and also our first time to Bermuda. The trip was our honeymoon-we were married on August 2, 2008 and left on the Dawn on August 3, 2008! (We were a little tired that night!) We are 28 and 29 years old. We took the train from Providence, RI to Penn Station, NY. The train was fine and getting to the Dawn from Penn Station was easy and inexpensive by taxi (we gave him $10 and that was the fare and tip). EMBARKATION: Smooth and easy! There were alot of people there when we arrived at noon, but NCL made it easy to follow where we were supposed to go. The service people who gave us our key cards and checked us in were extremely friendly and quick. We were on the ship, receiving our champagne toast within 20 minutes of arriving at the port! STATEROOM: We had a balcony in the FWD of the ship. We had a hulled balcony, but we loved it. We could hang our towels and bathing suits out without worrying they would be swept away in the wind! The room was kept clean every day by our room stewards and when we asked for the ice bucket to be refilled every day, they complied. It was clean and just the right size for two people. ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT: There was so much to do! My husband and I went to some of the shows in the theater: -Band on the Run-This was a show that featured music from the 70's. Kind of cheesy, but you could tell the Jean Ryan Company really put alot into the singing and dancing. -Bollywood-Another Jean Ryan production, and much better than Band on the Run. This was the show that mixed Cirque De Soleil and Moulin Rouge. Very well presented and the gymnastics were very entertaining! -Dave Heenan-Comedian. He was SO FUNNY! We were glad to catch him the last night. Other than the shows, there was always something going on. We saw the Second City improv group (unfortunately we missed their show in the theater because we were in port that night-I think NCL should hold off on shows until we are back in the water!). We also attended the Pub Crawl, which included alot of fun games and ended at the Disco night. The Disco night was a band playing 70's music that everyone could dance to. Very fun! We went to Monte Carlo night, but it was in the Casino, so we watched the Joker and the Showgirls for a little while then went back to the room. We liked the White Hot Party, which was a club atmosphere that had black lights and played 80's and 90's music. There were alot of teenagers there, though, and it made us feel a little "too old" to be there (even though they played music from OUR generation! haha). Karaoke was fun, but they had a limited selection of karaoke songs. Also, Jose and his wife were excellent. We saw them in Dazzles lounge a couple of nights-they sang all kinds of songs very well. BERMUDA AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: We loved Bermuda! Horseshoe Bay is a MUST! The pink sand beach and clear blue water was beautiful! In Dockyard, we went to the Frog and Onion Pub for some great "Bermudian" food. My husband got the Big Ben there-a 55oz locally brewed beer! We also went to Beethoven's Pub, which was great for lunch. The Rum Cake factory and Glassblowing shop is right in Dockyard. We also went to Hamilton and visited the Crystal Caves. They were beautiful and not to be missed! Down the street, we ended the day at the Swizzle Inn, where we wrote our names on the wall. Those Rum Swizzles are a little dangerous! haha We went on two shore excursions through NCL while in Bermuda: The Dolphin Encounter- so much fun. We learned alot and got to really play with the dolphins. We were so glad that we did this excursion! We also did the Night Snorkel - (note: we went to the same place to do a snorkel during the day since we had never snorkeled before-it was $20 for both of us.) The Night Snorkel consisted of snorkeling while holding a flashlight below the water. I don't know why that costs $78 per person as opposed to $20 for both people, but I guess NCL has to make their money. We happened to have a bad guide who basically took off snorkeling without us and we ended up swimming to catch up with him instead of snorkeling. We complained to the company (Fantasea) and NCL and got 20% off. It is not an excursion I would recommend or do again. Overall, Bermuda was beautiful and we were so happy to be there! DINING ON SHIP- We went to alot of specialty restaurants because we wanted to treat ourselves on our honeymoon. We went to Cagney's (the Filet Mignon is DELICIOUS!), Salsa (I don't know why they charge for this now-the nachos had CHEESE SAUCE on them instead of baked on cheese. Otherwise, the food was pretty good.), Bamboo (the appetizers are better than the entrees. I think they should group the Sushi bar and Sake bar with Bamboo-it's not worth it to pay $15 for bamboo then another $15 for sushi to me, and no one ever seemed to be at the sushi bar.), and Le Bistro (OUT OF THIS WORLD! The food was so good and the service was outstanding. We wished we had eaten there every night!). The buffet was great for breakfast. They also opened Aqua for breakfast for the balcony staterooms, which was a nice extra. We ate at the Blue Lagoon a couple of times. It got very busy sometimes and it seemed to throw the staff off a little. But their chicken wings were great! The poolside BBQ was also very tasty. When we went to Aqua for dinner one night, we were a little disappointed. It could be that we spoiled ourselves with specialty restaurants all week, but the quality of food there seemed to plummet from the standards of the specialty restaurants. DISEMBARKATION-Just as smooth as embarkation. We chose to get off the ship at the last time (10am). There was a line that they kept us in for about 20 minutes to get off the ship. The crew was saying something about the Customs people being overwhelmed. But once we got moving, it was smooth and fast. We took another taxi back to Penn Station and waited for our train. Overall, the trip was EXCELLENT. I would recommend this cruise to anyone! We are already trying to get a group of our friends together for another cruise! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Norwegian Dawn Sailing out of NYC to Bermuda Aug. 24th - Aug. 31st FIRST TIME CRUISERS WHO TRAVELED: Myself, husband, and our 2 girls....ages 3 ½ and almost 6 ½. HISTORY: This was our very first cruise. This was also our ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn Sailing out of NYC to Bermuda Aug. 24th - Aug. 31st FIRST TIME CRUISERS WHO TRAVELED: Myself, husband, and our 2 girls....ages 3 ½ and almost 6 ½. HISTORY: This was our very first cruise. This was also our first visit to Bermuda. Our vacations have mostly consisted of Sandals and Sandals Beaches vacations. We have always wanted to cruise, and decided to give it a try. With the airline rates being so high, and since we live in NJ , a cruise seemed like the way to go.....besides it being so easy to get to the pier. Royal Caribbean left out of NJ, but it was only a 5 day cruise to Bermuda. We wanted a 7 day vacation and that's why we chose NCL out of NY. EMBARKATION: Went nice and smooth. Here is where I met cruisebermuda on line. She says "hey, are you mammaof2girls?" and that was the freakiest yet coolest thing!...... Never meeting someone yet they know and recognize you (we all wore the mardi gras necklaces)!!! Neither I nor any of my family members had passports, and there were no problems at all. We had all our birth certificates, along w/ our Driver's License and all was fine. You will start needing passports for this trip to Bermuda in July 2009, for anyone who is interested to know. If you don't have a passport, not a problem at all as of now. Soda: We brought along two 6-packs of soda. We took it apart and just stuffed them in our carry ons. This was one of the best things we could have done!!! We had our room steward empty the fridge and the coffee maker, so we can have more room. And all our sodas fit in the fridge and we had something to drink with dinner (and lunch too, if we chose to). I also brought along those single servings of lemonade. We didn't use these as much as I would have liked to. I guess I sort of 'forgot" I had them. They would have come in handy since no juices are ever offered at all (for free) for lunch or dinner (I wrote more about that in the "food" section). After the champagne is given out when you first aboard the ship, everyone starts piling up in the main atrium. We shortly hit the garden buffet and were able to get a table with no problem. However, shortly after that, it became PACKED. So I was glad we got to the Garden buffet...which I think was a little before 12 noon. If you are hungry, I suggest you make your way quickly to deck 12 to the garden buffet. You will get a table if you're quick about it. But if you wait and hang around the atrium for a bit, you will arrive at the Garden Buffet very hungry and having to wait around or look for an open table. THE SHIP: Beautiful ship. We have nothing to compare it against since it's our first cruise, but it was very pretty. The coloring throughout....the carpets, the atrium....everything was really nice. The staff works extremely hard at what they do on the ship. You always see them working, working and working! STAFF: I was expecting a bit more "going out of their way friendliness" with the staff......but don't get me wrong, no one was rude. Let me explain: There were a lot that did say "hi" and smiled, but no one really went out of their way. I felt for the most part, most people did the bare minimum and that was it. However, at times it wasn't surprising to have crew members in the garden cafe, and sometimes even in the hallways to just pass you by and not going out of their way to say hi and talk to you....perhaps just a smile. I am thinking that maybe my expectations were high because at Sandals, it doesn't matter what the staff is doing....they literally go out of their way to talk to you and the kids and make you feel real special. A lot of the times it was basic greetings (sometimes not at all), but nothing like they were going out of their way for you. It's just hard getting 5-star treatment at all our vacations and then going on my first cruise and friendliness is a bit of a much lesser standard here, as far as "going out of their way" is concerned. Don't get me wrong, the crew was nice, but not overly friendly. Again, I think this is the Sandals comparison creeping up on me....which I know I shouldn't compare as they are 2 different types of vacations. The staff takes great care in helping to make the ship look as good as it does. They work very hard and you will always see them cleaning, wiping, scrubbing, etc. We felt the room stewards were the friendliest. Ours was Alex (he introduced himself) and he always made a point to say hi to my children and to go down to their level and talk w/ them. The Cruise Director is Pedro, and the asst. CD is Dimitri. The first time I saw Pedro wasn't until Wed. at the Garden Cafe (not counting the times he hosted a show). FOOD: DH wasn't thrilled w/ the fact that you are charged to eat at the specialty restaurants, so we just ate at one....Salsas. We enjoyed Salsas. I just had to try the Il Popo and the lobster tacos, and yes they are everything that you hear about. YUM. They don't cheapen the size of the lobster that is in those tacos, which is nice. During other dinner nights, we ate at the Venetian twice and Aqua twice. We ate around 5:30-6 pm. No wait. If you come after 6:15, service is longer and when you are done eating you will see a ridiculous line. We felt the food was very good at the main dining rooms. Every day their menu changes....and they also have a section of food on the menu that they have all the time. Please note the appetizers and entrees are pretty small portions. Do NOT hesitate to order more than one!!!! DH usually ordered 2 or 3 entrees and we always ordered a bunch of appetizers (every last crumb got eaten from us...nothing ever wasted! LOL). Had we just ordered one appetizer and one entrEe, we would have walked out of there hungry still. DH liked the service in Aqua better.....maybe it was those particular waitresses that we had. They really took the time to talk to our children, and they were really very, very nice and friendly. My 3 ½ yr. old fell asleep in Venetian twice......we believe it is their comfy chairs. LOL We saw a lot of pple in those main dining rooms wearing shorts, and extremely casual. I thought that wasn't allowed? Oh well. My girls ate off the adult menu in the main dining rooms. All except the last night, my oldest wasn't fond of the menu so she asked for pizza and spaghetti w/ red meat sauce. Do not ask for spaghetti with red meat sauce. It was awful. I mean literally awful tasting. I don't know how they made it, but even DH said it was awful. The cheese tortellini from the menu is sooooo good. My 3 yr. old really liked that. The asparagus and scallops appetizer - do not order just one. Those scallops were super tiny ....3 of them. So like I said, the appetizers are very small portions (and entrees too). I enjoyed the salad w/ walnut dressing and the watermelon salad too. The salmon w/ capers is delish. They serve it with these really long and flat egg noodles. Yum. We really enjoyed the food at the main dining rooms for sure! ? OMG, and the ship has the best hotdogs ever!!!!!! YUM! Try one (or two, or three....! LOL) GARDEN CAFÉ: Unfortunately, we never got to eat at Venetian for breakfast. ? They serve it only until 9:30 am and we were a bunch of sleepy heads I guess. The Garden Cafe gets very crowded, and a lot of times for breakfast and lunch you need to walk up and down to try and find an open table. A lot of times there were none, so we just had to wait for someone to finish. Food was good here....a lot of different variety. There is something for everyone. Expect a long wait on the omelet station. I never had any because the line was so ridiculous, and they only have the one station. Something that we were not impressed with: the drinks (and I'm not talking about alcoholic drinks). Ok, so for breakfast they have the water, OJ, cranberry juice and most of the time apple juice as well, where you just press that button and you pour it right into your glass. But once lunch rolled around, they took out all the juices and only water was offered (ok, there's also non-sweetened iced tea). DH and I felt: Why be cheap about it? I heard people on this board talk about them having lemonade....what a joke. Do you want to know the only time we saw the lemonade? On our last full day during breakfast....and that was it. There were never any juices ever offered for lunch or dinner - ever. A TIP: If you do want juice for lunch or dinner, go to the kids cafe, even if you are not a kid. They usually have apple juice in one of those pitchers right by the station. So we would get our apple juice there. Dh and I felt that they should have had those juices offered for lunches or dinner ...but that was not the case. Again, they only have them during breakfast only. We thought that was so lame. Chocolate Buffet: It's from 10:30-11:30 pm. Get there at 10:15 pm and you'll be fine. Get there any later, have fun standing on the longest line you ever saw. Seriously. I got there at 10:15 pm, and the line was already starting. I suggest you do the same. The chocolate buffet wasn't as 'extravagant' and 'over the top' as I was picturing it to be. But we enjoyed it. Something different. My 3 yr. old is a chocolate LOVER, so we were excited to share that experience w/ her. OUR CABIN: We were on Deck 10, inside cabin 10567. A little tight for 4 people, but we managed. It was small, but I thought it was going to be even smaller than that. I guess I was expecting the worst. We were hardly there....only to sleep so it was ok for us. It was a little tight especially around the closet/bathroom area (can't have the closet and bathroom door open at the same time). My girls LOVED when we went back to the cabin when they made it up for us at night...and to see the towel animals they did that night. Take note that the towel animals aren't done the first and last night of the cruise. Of course I took pics of all the different animals they did. ? I did bring post-it notes, and that was a GREAT WAY to communicate w/ the room steward. Even though we seen him all the time, he's busy with a billion other rooms and left notes as a reminder anyway. There was one birth bed (which I was told there was 2 berth beds) . And there were 2 twin beds and at night they took the rollaway bed from under and put it by the twin beds, so it looked like one big bed from one wall to the other. Some nights my 6 yr. old slept in the berth bed and during the last 4 nights, she slept with us and all 4 of us were snuggled on the "one big bed". Take note that if the berth bed is down, you can't see the tv!!! Had the tv been on the side where the vanity mirror is, you can watch tv with the berth bed down, but that wasn't the case. The berth bed gets in the way of the tv. We liked to unwind and put the tv on before bed. Also, I did bring a nigh light but it didn't fit into the outlet (the nighlight would have needed to be placed upside down, but couldn't do that because there was no room for the bulb). So what we did instead....which worked wonderfully....was we left the closet light on! Opened the closet door just a bit so some of the light emits out. I thought that was a great idea! ? So my girls were able to see in the dark if they needed to go to the bathroom. For all you about to go on a cruise, leave the nightlight at home. It's one less thing to pack and why take it when you can use the dim closet light. ? ENTERTAINMENT: We were extremely happy with the entertainment shows. The comedian (the name is escaping me right now), my husband loved. The magician....Gleason, was awesome. And The Bollywood show is a do not miss. Great entertainment. The Fairwell Show is comprised of both the magician and comedian....1/2 hr. each. During the magician only show on the 2nd night, DH, myself and our 2 girls chose seating in the first row. We got our seats ½ hr. before show time . It wasn't until 3 min. before show time that a NCL staff member says to us that we cannot sit there. "Why?", we asked. Because kids were not allowed in the first row. We tell him that we've been here for ½ hr. and how come you didn't say anything sooner because now all the seats were filled. Yea, we were a little pissed (especially my 6 yr. old). Fortunately, someone in the 2nd row said we can have their seats cuz they were going to go in the first row. So during the magician show, we did see other kids in the first row on the other side!!!! What was up with that and how come they never mentioned anything to them about not sitting there?? I just kept my mouth shut, and I really wanted to say something to that guy....but just dropped it. Anyway, for one of the events, the magician chose my 6 yr. old for his next trick. And she got chosen for the best one. It was one where she had to sit there on the stage with the magician while he told this story and it was so beautiful. The 'trick' was at the end having to do with a string. So at the end he gives her his cd, which is for sale at the end of the show. Well, would you believe, and this is no lie, my child was a celebrity for 2 days!!! After the show, tons of people recognized her and came up to her saying how she did a good job and this and that. In elevators, people recognized her, and in the restaurants and hallways...and even the next day....people spotted her as being the girl on stage w/ the magician. People even came up to my husband at the gym saying "wasn't your daughter the one......" We were absolutely amazed at her "celebrity status" and all the attention she received from other people on the ship anywhere she went, that they recognized her as being the one on stage w/ the magician. ? The magician also gave her a playing card and told her if she puts it under her pillow at night that it will turn into a whole deck of magic cards. Well, would you believe, as chance would have it that we did have a deck of playing cards in our luggage. So when she fell asleep, we put that deck of cards under her pillow where she put the one card that the magician gave her. You should have seen her face when she woke up. She was extremely excited that "the magician was right! Look! It turned into a whole deck of magic cards!" It really was too cute. POOLS: We did not go in the big pool....at all. No thank you. We felt the pool was much too small for all those people. I wouldn't even set my feet in there. Extremely crowded. The T-Rex pools are where my kids spent their time in on sea days. It was good for them, however there were some times where suddenly you see these adults in the tiny pool. I'm talking about the 10ft. round one...and there's a little slide going in there. So you have this tiny pool with about 6 adults standing around it in at one time. Yea, we were getting pretty annoyed. That left no room for my kids to swim and splash around. If you have to be standing there with your baby, than maybe the baby is just too little to be in there then. As for the other adults, I have no idea why they were in there....but come on people! Let the kids who are already in there be able to enjoy themselves. You are in the way!!!!! Also, it was annoying seeing these older kids try and go in that tiny pool (again, I'm talking about the tiny 10ft. round one). So, there was a staff member on duty that worked around there, and DH and I wouldn't hesitate to call him and point them out and he would tell them that they shouldn't be in there....that it's for younger kids. When we didn't see that staff member around, yes, I would take it upon myself to nicely tell those older kids that they shouldn't be there, that this pool is for little children. Call me mean and to mind my own business, but hey.....there is no reason why these 13 yr. old kids should be in there. They can get the little ones hurt. THE ARCADE: To us it was a joke. Most of the games cost $1.00 to play, and these games aren't even new. We're talking over 10 yrs. old. Also, to add insult to injury....1/2 of the games were out of order. While the arcade isn't a big deal to us, I just wanted to mention this in case there were other pple with kids who are interested in the arcade. KIDS CREW: My 6 ½ yr. old didn't seem too impressed with it. My 3 ½ yr. old, on the other hand, seemed to LOVE it. We never had them there during the day. If they were there it was for a couple hours in the evening. We left the choice of going there for my oldest and if she didn't want to go, we didn't make her (like we saw so many parents do! It was heart breaking to see/hear a child SCREAMING and clinging on because they didn't want to go and the parents just 'forcing' them to!!). The counselors seemed great. And my 3 yr. old's favorite was Panda. Panda actually started crying when she said goodbye to my Angelina. It was so sweet. ? When they are in the play gym area, you can go outside on the deck and 'spy' on your child. That's what we did just to see what our little one was up to. LOL It was quite funny and fun to do for a little bit. Beepers: That first day when we registered my kids for the camp (after we ate lunch), I asked about beepers (since my 3 ¾ yr. old is not potty trained yet)...and one of the girls tried to tell me that they can't us a beeper for her. When I asked why she proceeds to tell me that they only have 5 beepers, and they save them for the 2 yr. olds...the ones who are really not potty trained and are in diapers. And this is after I tell her my child has some issues and is delayed. Uh, just because my kid is in pull ups doesn't make her any less trained than a 2 yr. old in diapers. But later on that night when we did drop her off, I got a beeper with no problem. I mention this in case they try to say the same for your 'older' non-potty trained child. BERMUDA: We didn't go around much in Bermuda. We actually went to the same beach for the 3 days...Horseshoe Beach. It was so beautiful and we loved it. When you walk in there's a cove w/ rocks and such, which is a calmer and shallower area. Then you have the regular beach with the crashing of the waves. Our girls spent time at both areas. The calmer section to hang out and for them to swim without the intimidation and the regular beach section for more excitement (to run away from the waves as they come). We probably would have explored more and perhaps went to more places, but my 3 ½ yr. old was very off-ish. A couple things happened to her which resulted in her being cranky on and off.....one of them having to do with potty training incident (she wouldn't go poop on the potty no more after the automatic flushed kicked in and SCARED her half to death, so when poop-time came, it was extremely stressful on us all....and then another incident of her getting whacked in the forehead pretty good by a door, and spending time in the dr. office then her throwing up all her pain medication. That happened the first day we were in Bermuda...right before we hit the beach.). So my itinerary was to go and see more things, but that just didn't happen. That's okay though. We were happy we got to spend our time on such a beautiful beach in Bermuda. The cruise staff does not check if you have food in your bags when you leave the ship while in port, so I took it upon myself to pack some stuff from the Garden Cafe to the beach. This was the best thing we could have done. I packed dry cereal, croissants, Danish, and some apples or bananas. This is what my girls ate when they were hungry. Everyone else you see on the beach is eating snacks that they brought too from the ship. There was a time I got flamed for mentioning this on this board (when I mentioned about bringing a couple cookies offshore), and on the beach it was obvious I was not the only one who did this. EVERYONE was eating stuff that they got from the ship. They do have a place at Horseshoe Beach where you can buy food. But the prices are expensive. $5.00 for a hamburger and like $15.00 for fish and fries......very expensive. My snacks helped curb the hunger so when we left the beach, we would shower up and be ready for dinner. Bring lots of ziplog bags (large and small ones). This came in handy to store those snacks (and dirty or wet swimwear, etc.). ;) Don't waste your time in trying to bring some sand home. I had some in a little ziplock bag, and it showed up in the xray machine when we got back on the ship, and they had to take it away. They put my sand in a pile with about 5 other containers/bags of sand that others had too. LOL We also brought 2 big sports water bottles. We filled them up w/ water and ice so at the beach you don't have to worry about being thirsty or buying the expensive drinks there. TRANSPORTATION: We took the bus to Horseshoe Bay, and it takes 25 min. You then have to walk down this hill....a few minutes of a walk then you get to the beach. On your way back from the beach, there's a guy who will take you back up the hill for $1.00/per person. Kids under 10, I believe, are free. So for $2 each day...that little ride from him was sooooo worth it!!!! After a long day at the beach, you're hot and hungry.....no way do you want to walk up that hill with the kids and beach bags, etc. TIP: They say kids 5 and under are free for the busses and transportation in Bermuda. My oldest is 6 ½ and nothing was asked so we never paid for her fare. It's very easy to get away with having your "little older than 5 yr. old child" not pay. I'm not trying to be sneaky about anything, just honest with you. When you go up to the ticket booth, you just say "....for 2 adults" and they don't even ask you about the kids or even look at them to see what age they are. Same w/ on the busses. The bus drivers are very, very lax. DISEMBARKATION I'm so glad we chose to do a self disembark and take care of our own luggage. We were in our car by 7:45 am!!! We could have had breakfast and left our luggage in our room and retrieve it after breakfast....but we just wanted to start heading home. I'm not sure when the first times of disembarkation was, but I'm glad we were one of a small handful that decided to take our own and do it early. No waiting to find our luggage, no wait on customs....it was easy breezy!! It was a lot of walking all the way out to our final stop: our car!! OTHER TIPS: - The movie that is currently playing in the movie theater, is the same movie that is playing in your cabin tv. I forgot what channel it is, but we did find this out. - Keep in mind that if you want "Bermuda" souvenirs, there are more items that say "Bermuda" off the ship. There were more "Norwegian Dawn" items ON the ship. I mention this, because we were specifically looking for items that said Bermuda instead of NCL, and most of that will be found off the ship. - On down times, watch some of the NCL stations on the tv. You learn a lot about the crystal caves, the aquarium, etc. and lots of the other places you read about on this board! - In the Garden Cafe, apple juice can be found at the kids station during lunch and dinner. Since they take them away for lunch and dinner, you can get your apple juice from there. - T-Rex pool - Don't hesitate to call the staff member on duty or talk to him about older kids in the little pool, etc. He helped us with that, and after a while we started taking upon ourselves to politely tell those older kids that this pool is for little children. TO SUM IT UP: All in all, it was a good trip. We had a lot of fun and anything beats staying at home. Would I want to cruise again? Sure. However, my husband would want to try a different line first. I would want to see if there is a higher class of service as far as exceptional service and other little things that I feel could be a bit better on another cruise line. DH probably had a bit more complaints, or maybe 'annoyances' is a better word, than me and felt stronger on how he felt about them. I think though, that cruising just may not be for him. Some of it could also be a NCL thing. He is, however, willing to do/try another cruise......Royal Caribbean or Celebrity, before totally discounting cruising all together when it could just be the NCL experience for him. If another cruise doesn't work out for him, then we'll cough it up as him just being a resort type of guy. For him, he didn't like the whole "sailing on a crowded ship for 4 days" thing while only being on an island for 3 days. For him, he likes to be able to go from the pool, to the beach, to his room, back to the beach, etc. if he wanted to with ease. He felt claustrophobic on the ship he says....too many people all around and no 'elbow room' and felt like he was always on top of pple. LOL. This is why I feel a cruise may not fit his needs too much. He felt it was "too much" running around and traveling just to get to a beach....walk for 10 min, get the bus, walk back here, etc. He's more of a guy who wants to get there, and be there and be able to get back with ease. So I am happy though, that he is willing to try another cruise...but w/ another cruise line. The surcharge restaurants didn't sit well with him either. He feels that a cruise line who makes tons of money and we pay a pretty decent ticket fare, that they should have that included.....or minimally, at least the juices should be included for lunch/dinner instead of taking them away after breakfast. But these are his opinions and he's entitled to that. Just be careful because there may be some select items on the specialty menus that cost an additional surcharge on top of the initial surcharge. But I think a resort may suit my DH better. But, we shall see if a different cruise line does it for him. ;) You just never know! You will enjoy your cruise. We did. Despite some of our 'complaints' or "annoyances", I feel some of them had to do with the cruising aspect of it, and some had to do with the NCL aspect and some had to do with my higher expectations of things that just weren't there at times. But that's okay. None of that ruined our trip. ? Despite any of this, I never knew or heard of a vacation that I wished I rather be home. Myself, my husband and my kids did enjoy ourselves and we made the most of it as it beats being home. ? I do look forward in cruising again, and I'm glad that my DH is willing to give another cruise line a shot before he throws the ol' cruising towel in. ? I hope you found this useful and possibly informative, and thank you for taking the time to read my review. *This review is also posted in the NCL section, where you can ask me any questions. :) ~Dawn Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
EMBARKATION - Cruise on Aug 24th. We had a group of (5)families,(4)leaving from Central NJ and one family meeting us from S.I. NY. 16 of us were picked up in NJ at about 9:00 arrived at the pier about 10:15. The ship was disembarking the ... Read More
EMBARKATION - Cruise on Aug 24th. We had a group of (5)families,(4)leaving from Central NJ and one family meeting us from S.I. NY. 16 of us were picked up in NJ at about 9:00 arrived at the pier about 10:15. The ship was disembarking the passengers from the previous week so there was a large crowd of people. Once at the pier we required two porters and caught them as they were escorting disembarking passengers. Once inside the terminal there was absolutely no line since we were a bit early. Check-in was smooth as silk. We received our boarding passes and cards and checked our 10 magnums of wine. The families decided to split the $15 corking fees and trust me this was a major savings. We waited about 45 minutes for our number to be called and this was not an issue since all of our kids had ipods and/or mini sony playstations. We boarded the ship about noon greeted with some cheap champagne (nice touch) but an offer of beer would have been better. SHIP - Once on the ship each family purchased 2 soda cards each one for our kids ($28) and one for adults ($50). You won't need one for each person, waste of money. The ship appeared to be clean for the most part and by now we were all hungry and found our way to the Garden Cafe. There was a wide selection of food most of it was fair at best, for lunch. Most of the guys drank beer so get the bucket of beer, buy 5 get one free turned out to be good deal compared to most sport stadiums. ROOMS - We were on deck 8 with an obstructed view but you could still see the ocean. Frank and Philip were our stewards 2 really nice guys who did want we needed & quickly. The room was okay for the 4 of us. Plenty of draw space, sliding door shower, nice size, comfortable beds. Not enough outlets for ipods, cells and kid's games. 2 Families had mini-suites and both were happy with them. FOOD - We made reservations for Salsa which we enjoyed. Good food, decent service $10 cover, great view, kids wanted the buffet anyway. One of our friends went to Cagney's & raved about it. We went to the Venetian every night, 8:30 seating & enjoyed the food (especially the CoQ Co Vin and Lobster night), service & our wine. If you go to the Venetian you must ask for Honeylyn to serve you. Without a doubt the best in the business and she made it worth it. She is truly an exceptional server who really cares about her passengers. We tipped her every night and she deserved it. We did not try any other restaurants. The outdoor BBQ was a hit, food was good. Garden Cafe for breakfast early, Get there before 8:00 BARS - We had a great guy named Vincent who works at the Oasis Pool. He was fantastic. After the first day he wouldn't even ask for the soda cards he would just keep bringing them, we went through many a 6 pack of beer the days we stayed on board and Vincent insured they were ice cold. Also with the umbrella drinks the ladies would have Vincent knew we had purchased them before and would not charge us the extra $2, because we never carried the original glasses around. The other bar we hit often at night was the Pearly Pub, a young lady named Timme from Hungary was wonderful and remembered our names each night. Gatsby's was decent, Salsa bar had the most disappointing bartender, no personality.STAFF - most of the staff were okay, but some stood out. Yael from the Blue Lagoon was very nice. Vincent the drink guy by the pool kept on top of things, Julia from Salsa's was very sweet. Our room stewards Frank and Philip were great. Honeylyn from Venetian by far heads and shoulders above everyone. Timme from the Pearly Pub was very friendly. The one place the service lacked was in the Garden Cafe, most of the staff took their time to get you a soda, silverware or even clean the table, otherwise service was fair. POOL - The worst. When we first saw it we thought it was the kiddie pool, boy were we disappointed. The water gets dirty by the end of the day since it is not chlorinated. The lounges are plentiful we were able to save 10-12 lounges in the morning right by the pool before 8 am but you will need someone to watch them if you are going to be more than 30 minutes. The drink pushers are a bit annoying except for Vincent. I could have a beer in one hand & a bucket at my feet and they will still ask you. ENTERTAINMENT - the comedy show with Dave Heenan was okay at best. Some of his jokes were as old. He is full of life though. The Bollywood show was very good, dont miss it. The magician was impressive and the Elton John impersonator was very enjoyable.BERMUDA - what can you say that is not a positive. The weather was simply beautiful except for one morning. We attempted to go to Tobacco Bay (40 minutes by ferry) on the first day at port, but the rain forced us back to the ship. Of course once back on the ship it got sunny and we decided to go to Horseshoe Bay (25 minutes by bus)spent a couple of hours at Horsehoe and had a great time. Wonderful beach, warm crystal blue water, great rock formations. Walk down to Jobsons cove and you will get some unforgettable pictures. Some might want to take the buck boys taxi up the hill when you leave, but most of us trekked it up the hill. Next day went to Tobacco Bay for snorkling by ferry asked for directions and had about a 10 minute walk to the bay. Make sure you get a van back to the ferry well worth it. Tobacco Bay was beautiful, they could of cleaned the beach area a bit better but the bay is a sight to see. Make sure you bring your own snorkle and mask and you will see an array of fish the further and deeper you go. One of my friends opened a bag of chips underwater and it was amazing to see how close these fish come to you. Just a wonderful day in a paradise. DISEMBARKATION - was a pleasant surprise. We were all able to carry our own luggage off so there was no set time. It was minutes to disembark and go through customs to our awaiting Bus. MISCELLANESOUS - Bring your own water bottles or buy them in Bermuda. Bring a power strip. Definitely bring an assortment of medicinal pills medications and bandages, the ship stores close while at port in Bermuda. Bring your own snorkle equipment if you plan to go. Bring an alarm clock since there are none in the cabin. The per day per person gratuity is a major rip off but we gave extra to those who deserved it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This review may be lengthy, but I wanted to warn people off this ship before they waste their hard earned money. My wife and I sailed on the NCL Dawn from New York to Bermuda on August 3, 2008 and returned August 10, 2008 along with ... Read More
This review may be lengthy, but I wanted to warn people off this ship before they waste their hard earned money. My wife and I sailed on the NCL Dawn from New York to Bermuda on August 3, 2008 and returned August 10, 2008 along with eight of our cousins. We had a balcony cabin on Deck 8. Our cousins booked 3 cabins with windows on Deck 9. Our ages range from 15 to 57. EMBARKATION: Our cousins arrived at the pier at 12 noon and flew right through the boarding process. My wife and I arrived at 1 PM and were greeted by a line that spanned the length of the Passenger Ship Terminal. There was one line for two ships, the NCL Dawn and the NCL Spirit. There were no porters or luggage carts to help with the luggage until you reached the main entrance to the terminal which took about 45 minutes. Once inside the terminal our ID and boarding pass was checked and our carry-ons were scanned. This went very smoothly. The next line was to arrange for our on-board credit and to obtain our key cards. This line took about another ½ hour. We boarded the ship at 2:30 PM. We were not offered any welcoming champagne although other people were walking around with a glass in each hand. Asked how to get to our cabin so we could drop off our carry-ons we were told the cabins were not ready. An announcement was made around 3:15 PM that the cabins were ready. CABINS: The cabin was of adequate size with enough storage space for the two of us. We got a cabin with a balcony because I am a smoker and my wife isn't. The balcony was well worth the additional cost. The room was kept very clean by our room stewards, but the balcony area was totally ignored. Every morning I had to clean the balcony myself, i.e., empty the ash tray, wipe down the table and chairs, etc. I left a napkin on the balcony that I used to clean up on the first morning and the same napkin was still there on the last day. CABIN STEWARDS: As stated above, the stewards kept the room very clean but ignored the balcony. Neither steward introduced themselves and till today we do not know their names. On the first night, the steward handed me two pieces of candy and a bingo card in the hallway and said goodnight. This was repeated a couple of times. On other nights, we would return to our cabin and find the bed beautifully turned down with chocolates on the pillow and animals crafted out of towels on the bed. DINING: What can I say. Unless you want to pay extra for dinner every night, do not expect much. We ate breakfast at the buffet every day except one. The breakfast offerings at the buffet were diverse and the quality was good. If you want eggs, an omelet or waffles, expect to wait on a long line. One morning we went to the Venetian for the longest breakfast ever. The waiter kept disappearing for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Coffee cups were never refilled. I ordered Eggs Benedict and they were served dried out and cold. Breakfast took almost 2 hours to complete. Dinner was an experience. The first night we ate in the Venetian (free). The waiter was totally disinterested in what he was doing. Once again he would disappear for long periods of time. Three of us ordered steaks. The steaks were about 1/4 inch thick, overcooked and dried out. We asked for A-1 Steak Sauce in the hope of salvaging the meal. We were give HP sauce which did nothing to help. Dinner took about 2 hours. This scenario was repeated the only other time we ate at the Venetian. The other free restaurant on board is Aqua. The wait staff at Aqua was much more attentive and friendly with the exception of the drink server. One night 5 of us arrived and were seated at our table. We asked to order drinks while we waited for the rest of our party. We were told by the drink server that we would have to wait for the rest of our party because she did not want to walk back and forth with separate drink orders. When we told her we did not want to wait, she said she would not take our drink order until the entire party was seated. I called over the waiter and requested the drink server be removed from our table. He immediately took care of the situation. The quality of food was a little better than at the Venetian. This could be because the food was served hot. The lobster was overcooked and you only got drawn butter if you requested it. If you are going to eat in a free restaurant, eat at Aqua. We tried 3 of the added charge restaurants. The first one we ate at was Tappanayaki, the Japanese restaurant located inside Bamboo. This restaurant carried a $25/head charge. Once we were seated, we were told we had exactly 1 hour 15 minutes to complete our dinner. If we did not finish in the allotted time, we would have to carry our plates out to the Bamboo to complete our dinner. It seems strange that we would be given a time limit to eat in a much as we had just spent $250 plus drinks for the privilege of eating here. The food was just OK. I ordered the steak and shrimp combo. The shrimp was delicious but the steak was overcooked. We were continually offered more fried rice as a way of filling us up because the portions were small. The Italian restaurant, Impressions, was good. This restaurant carried a $10/head cover charge. With the exception of having to ask for plates so we could eat the antipasto they had on the table, the service was very good. Food was served promptly and hot. This was well worth the extra 10 bucks. On the last night we ate at Cagney's Steakhouse. This carried a $20/head cover charge. If you ordered things like lobster or crab legs an additional $10 per item was added to the cover. We made a reservation for 5:45 hoping to beat the crowd but the restaurant was packed. Service was good and the staff was very attentive. I ordered a porterhouse steak medium rare and it was delicious. When I asked the waiter why I could not get a steak like that in the free restaurants, he said it was because they wanted you to pay extra for quality food. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on the ship was OK. The shows in the Stardust was varied. The comedian was funny, the magician was run of the mill. The main feature was the Jean Ray Ann Troupe. The dancing and costumes were good, the singing was bad. Every night in the Stardust you were attacked by cruise staff members trying to sell you raffle tickets. The entertainment in the lounges was basically the same every night with the entertainers rotating venues. If you were not into karaoke, all entertainment ended at 11:30 PM. PORTS OF CALL: Kings Wharf (Royal Naval Dockyard): King's Wharf was very nice. It is basically a shopping area with a small beach and a couple of restaurants and bars. This port is very conveniently located. You can buy a three day, $28 transportation pass and come and go as you please. St Georges is only a 20 minute ferry ride from King's Wharf while Hamilton is only a 25 minute ride. We took the ferry into Hamilton twice in the same day. We also took a bus to Horseshoe Bay and spent a beautiful day on the beach. It should be noted that if you want to see any of the tourist attractions go early. Most attractions close for the day between 2 and 4 PM. Hamilton: We spent time in Hamilton while we were docked at King's Wharf so we decided to go to St. Georges. This day was a complete nightmare. You get 8 hours from the time the ship anchors until the time it leaves for home. The ship anchors out in the ocean as it is too large for the dock in Hamilton. We went down to get the tender to Hamilton. We waited 35 minutes before we were loaded onto a life boat that was used for a tender. The life boat was hot and smelled of the exhaust fumes. It took another 25 minutes to reach the dock in Hamilton. We went to the bus terminal and enjoyed the 50 minute ride into St. Georges. After an enjoyable 3 hours in St. Georges, we returned to the bus stop for the trip back to Hamilton. We were told the last tender was at 4 PM. We tried to beat the crowd back to the ship and arrived at the tender area at 3 PM. By this time there was about 500 people ahead of us on line for the tender. We were told by someone on line that they were there for 45 minutes without seeing a tender arrive. We asked a NCL staff member how long the wait would be and he said they were having trouble getting the tenders in because of sea traffic. He also said a ferry boat was coming in due to the large crowd. We finally got on the ferry after an hour wait. We were told by a ferry worker that this takes place every week From my perch on the upper deck of the ferry, I heard a count of over 500 people crammed onto the ferry. After the 25 minute ride back to the ship it took another half hour to get off the ferry. We finally arrived at the elevator on the ship at 5:02 PM, two hours after we got on line for the tender. When we went to complain at the reception desk we were told there was nothing that can be done and this was an unusual occurrence. When we told her the ferry employee said this happens every week she basically called us liars. CONCLUSION: If you want to have an enjoyable cruise, avoid this ship at all cost. Freestyle sailing means NCL is free to charge you extra for services you would normally get for free, i.e., a decent meal, courteous service, etc. Three out of the eight hours we were anchored in Hamilton were spent using the tender. When you complain, you are insulted. The restaurant staff in the Venetian is extremely slow and disinterested. If you ask for something you get a nasty look. Our cousin bought a watch in the gift shop that needed a couple of links removed. When she went to pick it up the crystal was smashed. When she asked for a refund she was told "We are here to make money, not issue refunds". If you want to purchase a photo you must buy an 8" x 10" photo at $25 each in order to earn the right to buy a 5" x 7" copy of the same photo. If you are not into karaoke, the only entertainment option after 11:30 PM is to go to the casino. This was my seventh cruise and the worst cruise I have ever been on. 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
EMBARKATION - We had a group of (5)families,(4)leaving from Central NJ and one family meeting us from S.I. NY. 16 of us were picked up in NJ at about 9:00 arrived at the pier about 10:15. The ship was disembarking the passengers from the ... Read More
EMBARKATION - We had a group of (5)families,(4)leaving from Central NJ and one family meeting us from S.I. NY. 16 of us were picked up in NJ at about 9:00 arrived at the pier about 10:15. The ship was disembarking the passengers from the previous week so there was a large crowd of people. Once at the pier we required two porters and caught them as they were escorting disembarking passengers. Once inside the terminal there was absolutely no line since we were a bit early. Check-in was smooth as silk. We received our boarding passes and cards and checked our 10 magnums of wine. The families decided to split the $15 corking fees and trust me this was a major savings. We waited about 45 minutes for our number to be called and this was not an issue since all of our kids had ipods and/or mini sony playstations. We boarded the ship about noon greeted with some cheap champagne (nice touch) but an offer of beer would have been better. SHIP - Once on the ship each family purchased 2 soda cards each one for our kids ($28) and one for adults ($50). You won't need one for each person, waste of money. The ship appeared to be clean for the most part and by now we were all hungry and found our way to the Garden Cafe. There was a wide selection of food most of it was fair at best, for lunch. Most of the guys drank beer so get the bucket of beer, buy 5 get one free turned out to be good deal compared to most sport stadiums. ROOMS - We were on deck 8 with an obstructed view but you could still see the ocean. Frank and Philip were our stewards 2 really nice guys who did want we needed & quickly. The room was okay for the 4 of us. Plenty of draw space, sliding door shower, nice size, comfortable beds. Not enough outlets for ipods, cells and kid's games. 2 Families had mini-suites and both were happy with them. FOOD - We made reservations for Salsa which we enjoyed. Good food, decent service $10 cover, great view, kids wanted the buffet anyway. One of our friends went to Cagney's & raved about it. We went to the Venetian every night, 8:30 seating & enjoyed the food (especially the CoQ Co Vin and Lobster night), service & our wine. If you go to the Venetian you must ask for Honeylyn to serve you. Without a doubt the best in the business and she made it worth it. She is truly an exceptional server who really cares about her passengers. We tipped her every night and she deserved it. We did not try any other restaurants. The outdoor BBQ was a hit, food was good. Garden Cafe for breakfast early, Get there before 8:00 BARS - We had a great guy named Vincent who works at the Oasis Pool. He was fantastic. After the first day he wouldn't even ask for the soda cards he would just keep bringing them, we went through many a 6 pack of beer the days we stayed on board and Vincent insured they were ice cold. Also with the umbrella drinks the ladies would have Vincent knew we had purchased them before and would not charge us the extra $2, because we never carried the original glasses around. The other bar we hit often at night was the Pearly Pub, a young lady named Timme from Hungary was wonderful and remembered our names each night. Gatsby's was decent, Salsa bar had the most disappointing bartender, no personality. STAFF - most of the staff were okay, but some stood out. Yael from the Blue Lagoon was very nice. Vincent the drink guy by the pool kept on top of things, Julia from Salsa's was very sweet. Our room stewards Frank and Philip were great. Honeylyn from Venetian by far heads and shoulders above everyone. Timme from the Pearly Pub was very friendly. The one place the service lacked was in the Garden Cafe, most of the staff took their time to get you a soda, silverware or even clean the table, otherwise service was fair. POOL - The worst. When we first saw it we thought it was the kiddie pool, boy were we disappointed. The water gets dirty by the end of the day since it is not chlorinated. The lounges are plentiful we were able to save 10-12 lounges in the morning right by the pool before 8 am but you will need someone to watch them if you are going to be more than 30 minutes. The drink pushers are a bit annoying except for Vincent. I could have a beer in one hand & a bucket at my feet and they will still ask you. ENTERTAINMENT - the comedy show with Dave Heenan was okay at best. Some of his jokes were as old. He is full of life though. The Bollywood show was very good, don't miss it. The magician was impressive and the Elton John impersonator was very enjoyable. BERMUDA - what can you say that is not a positive. The weather was simply beautiful except for one morning. We attempted to go to Tobacco Bay (40 minutes by ferry) on the first day at port, but the rain forced us back to the ship. Of course once back on the ship it got sunny and we decided to go to Horseshoe Bay (25 minutes by bus)spent a couple of hours at Horseshoe and had a great time. Wonderful beach, warm crystal blue water, great rock formations. Walk down to Jobsons cove and you will get some unforgettable pictures. Some might want to take the buck boys taxi up the hill when you leave, but most of us trekked it up the hill. Next day went to Tobacco Bay for snorkeling by ferry asked for directions and had about a 10 minute walk to the bay. Make sure you get a van back to the ferry well worth it. Tobacco Bay was beautiful, they could of cleaned the beach area a bit better but the bay is a sight to see. Make sure you bring your own snorkel and mask and you will see an array of fish the further and deeper you go. One of my friends opened a bag of chips underwater and it was amazing to see how close these fish come to you. Just a wonderful day in a paradise. DISEMBARKATION - was a pleasant surprise. We were all able to carry our own luggage off so there was no set time. It was minutes to disembark and go through customs to our awaiting Bus. MISCELLANEOUS - Bring your own water bottles or buy them in Bermuda. Bring a power strip. Definitely bring an assortment of medicinal pills medications and bandages, the ship stores close while at port in Bermuda. Bring your own snorkel equipment if you plan to go. Bring an alarm clock since there are none in the cabin. The per day per person gratuity is a major rip off but we gave extra to those who deserved it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
1. Embarkation was smooth and easy but one of us needed a wheelchair from the curb only to be told that you must go inside about 400 feet from the curb to get a wheelchair- figure that one out! 2. Initial room impression was good only to ... Read More
1. Embarkation was smooth and easy but one of us needed a wheelchair from the curb only to be told that you must go inside about 400 feet from the curb to get a wheelchair- figure that one out! 2. Initial room impression was good only to find hair in the sheets and a less-than-clean bathroom. 3. Apparently, "Freestyle" means "nickel and dime" as any time you want to eat somewhere other than the two dining rooms, Aqua and Venetian, you are required to pay a cover charge. Not the worst thing in the world but the food in the Aqua and Venetian were absolutely horrible for dinner leaving us no other option but to pay the cover to eat elsewhere. Unfortunately, once you pay the cover charge you are also subject to paying even more for certain items on the menu. As an example, it was insulting to pay a $20 cover charge for entry to the mexican restaurant. To pay $20 for something like chicken fajitas is horrendous. To pay $20 for entry to Impressions, the Italian restaurant is equally as bad- $20 to get a bowl of pasta- and, frankly, it was the worst plate of pasta imaginable. Someone in our party commented that the food is intentionally bad in the Aqua and Venetian so people will be forced to pay more and east elsewhere. 3. Contacting the front desk or restaurant reservations is the worst. Phone rings and rings until the phone goes dead or you get a fast busy. 4. No enforcement of polices at the pool "Adult-only" Jacuzzis always had young children in it. It seems that no one at any time was looking after enforcing any policies while aboard. 5. Apparently theres not much to do for young adults because at all hours of day and night packs of teenagers who were too young to buy alcohol were walking around with bottles of beer, etc. 6. Almost no scheduled activities aside from "rip-off" bingo and "rip-off" artwork for sale. 7. No food late at night except for Blue Lagoon which is a fast-fried-food area and on two nights there was a 45 minute wait to sit and even for takeout. Imagine being on a cruise and not being able to go somewhere and get something to eat without waiting an hour. 8. Internet access was awful slow. 9. Overall, only a small handful of wait staff smiled and were friendly, the rest seemed cold without any desire to get what you want or assist in any way. "obnoxious" is a great description for the majority of staff. 10. Excursions in Bermuda didn't even include Scuba diving for people who were certified, only the Discover Scuba for beginners. Overall, the worst cruise I've taken. Dirty rooms, poor service, few activities. If you want to go on a cruise, get drunk and let your teenagers stay out all night the Dawn is for you. If you want something with the slightest amount of class and good service go elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We went to Bermuda on 8/24 on the Dawn. All in all, this was a great trip! My husband and I lived in Bermuda for 7 years and this was our first time back with our children (ages 8, 8 and 6) since leaving the island 5 years ago (we are US ... Read More
We went to Bermuda on 8/24 on the Dawn. All in all, this was a great trip! My husband and I lived in Bermuda for 7 years and this was our first time back with our children (ages 8, 8 and 6) since leaving the island 5 years ago (we are US citizens and were there for work). We have never cruised before and were really excited about traveling back via ship. We stayed in an AB penthouse suite and it was worth every penny. Lovely room, lovely balcony. The room was spotless when we boarded around 12 o'clock. It only took a matter of minutes to check our bags, check in and board the ship. Our children loved the room, especially all the TVs and their own little bedroom. We had a butler, Carmen, who was especially sweet and polite. We tried several of the specialty restaurants and we were pleased with all... Teppanyaki with the kids was a real treat, hubby and I had dinners at Le Bistro and Cagney's which were both wonderful, and we took the kids to Impressions the last night. We also ate in the main dining rooms, Aqua and Venetian. Both were fine. The specialty restaurants were better and worth the "cover charge", in my opinion. Servers were all nice and pleasant and accommodating. We ate with friends at Impressions the last night and one of the children didn't like his pizza, so our waitress brought another entree for him, with a smile! My kids tasted calamari for the first time that night and loved it... and the waitress appeared with plates of calamari for all the children at the table. I couldn't decide between 2 entrees and the waitress brought me a sample of one. If you go to Impressions and Elena is your waitress, you will be delighted. We did breakfast in our room or Cagney's every morning. Never braved the Garden Cafe until lunch or dinner time. My kids loved the pasta and bread assortments at the Garden Cafe. We had read that the Venetian would be open for lunch the first day and it was not. We waited until 1 o'clock and the poolside barbecue was perfect. The Garden Cafe was really really busy that first day. Unless you are famished, just wait for the barbecue. I was constantly impressed with the pleasant attitude of everyone working aboard the Dawn. Smiles and greetings from almost everyone. The employees were constantly cleaning, polishing, vacuuming every surface. The T Rex pool and main pool were busy. We expected this. My kids didn't care and loved both pools. And if my kids are happy.... I am happy too! My kids did the Kids Club a few times but they weren't impressed. There were 700 children on our sailing (Pedro announced this on the last night) , so maybe there were just too many kids to control. The bathrooms in the Kids Club seemed to be a problem on our sailing. One night my daughter was told she could not use the bathroom there because it was stopped up. The next night, I asked about the toilets when dropping off my children in the Kids Club and was told by one of the staff they were not working properly and they had been having problems. This kind of problem should be addressed immediately. It's not really fair to expect children to "hold it" until their parents arrive. I think my daughter was too shy to press the issue and ask that someone take her to the bathroom down the hall. I imagine they would have if she seemed to be in dire need. On another night, my son went to the bathroom in the Kids Club and complained to me later that the floor was wet (yuck). (They make the children take off their shoes upon entering the Kids Club.) It seems they should ask the children to put their shoes back on before using the bathroom if the floors are wet. I hope they correct the plumbing problems in the Kids Club. My kids weren't too impressed with the activities and were very sad that they couldn't go the Magic Show with the Kids Club (there were too many kids on the ship, we were told). This all made ME kind of sad, because the Kids Club was a big selling point for me with this cruise. I never planned to leave my kids there for the entire day, but it was nice to have the option to bring them to the Kids Club and enjoy a dinner with my husband. Once I realized my kids weren't enjoying it and that there were some plumbing issues that could turn into health issues, we stopped using the facility. We went to the 70s show, the South Beach Rave, Bollywood and the show on the last night with the magician and the comedian. We all liked Bollywood the best. In Bermuda, we did our own excursions... went to the aquarium, Horseshoe Bay, Warwick Long Bay, Gibb's Hill Lighthouse and into Hamilton. It's a lovely island and I was excited to get back and see it all again. The ferries and buses are so convenient and clean. Cab drivers are also very courteous and helpful. I had a great time on this cruise (despite the Kids Club woes...) and loved the food in the specialty restaurants and the pleasant workers on the ship. Our room was wonderful! The ship was beautiful! We'll talk about this vacation for a long time! 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
Returned home earlier today after our NCL Dawn Bermuda cruise. We were impressed at how well NYC handles its embarkation and debarkation procedures. On and off the ship in a breeze. Job well done, NYC We sailed with a group of 40 and ... Read More
Returned home earlier today after our NCL Dawn Bermuda cruise. We were impressed at how well NYC handles its embarkation and debarkation procedures. On and off the ship in a breeze. Job well done, NYC We sailed with a group of 40 and the general consensus was that the ship was well maintained and pleasing to the eye, but Freestyle concept left a lot to be desired. Cabins were not ready until 2pm so EVERYONE ended up in the Garden Cafe Took a walk out to the pool deck and was SHOCKED at how tiny the one and only pool for the whole ship was. I could already imagine the crowds that would be there on sea days. Don't quite understand the point of the T Rex kids pool if all the kids were in the main pool Cabins were nice but those who booked 4 in a room were quite shocked that there weren't 2 upper and 2 lower beds as is the case in most standard cabins. Rather there was only one upper bed and the 4th bed was stowed under one of the lower beds and was placed between the two lowers which meant 3 were sleeping in a row. It must have been quite a chore to get out of bed without disturbing others. Luckily it was just my wife and I in our cabin so we didn't have to deal with that dilemma. Still trying to figure out the point of the translucent sliding door in the bathroom to close when using the toilet. Even with that panel closed there was no way anyone was coming in to wash their hands!! Stewards were pleasant and did a good job. If you used that sliding disk under the cabin number just outside the door they knew when you were out of the room so they could come in to make up the room and to turn down the bed. Buffet food is buffet food; what can I say... been on enough cruises to know what to expect. We did enjoy the deck barbecues, especially the chicken. Ice cream cones by the pool was a nice touch too. Drink prices for mixed drinks came out to about $7.50 incl. tip. Beer was cheaper; Martini type drinks more.. Freestyle Dinner Experience.... Wherever you want-Whenever you want. They got the first part down good, they still need to get the "whenever you want" down pat. It was obvious that the poor hostesses who stood by the dining room doors yelling out cabin numbers to people who were sitting on the staircases giving them real dirty looks would much rather have not been there! They looked frazzled at times. Trying to get reservations was a futile attempt and after awhile we just got dressed and went to a restaurant and said whenever we eat is when we eat... the wait was generally around 30 minutes. Although we were a group of 40 we did not eat together so it wasn't as if they were trying to seat 40 in one shot. Everyone in our group agreed the Freestyle experience wasn't for them and were very disappointed in that aspect of the cruise. The dining room food was good. Although the servers were pleasant one could tell they were very rushed to get meals out as fast as possible. As soon as one course was picked up it was just a matter of seconds before the next course was in front of you. They apologized profusely that they were setting the tables as we were seated. Activities: Basically you could go to Bingo, then to some sort of alcohol tasting, back to bingo, then to an art auction, then to another alcohol tasting, followed by another round of bingo! Announcements were made by assistant cruise director Demetri, and yes, we occasionally saw the cruise director Pedro out on the pool deck on the smoking side having a cigarette and looking pretty... he didn't do much else IMHO to motivate anyone whatsoever. They had an evening pool deck party one evening which was probably attended by about 20 adults and the usual groups of teens which hung out after the sun went down because they were bored. There was also a White Hot Night Party... we went to take a peek and the teens were having a blast! Thought it was meant for adults only Chocolate Buffet in Garden Cafe. TOTAL MASS CONFUSION>>>> They had staff directing guests from end to end and you ended up where you started... Total chaos and once we finally saw what was available we agreed that it wasn't worth the hassle. Bollywood was OK if you like Cirque de Soleil type show. Adult comedian did a pretty good job of keeping everyone laughing. There were about 10 kids in our group aged 10-17 and they didn't care for the Kids Club at all. This was obvious since all the kids seemed to be roaming the ship and hanging around from morning till late at night (especially once dinner was over). I was surprised that on the last evening of the cruise when we got our luggage tags and customs forms that there were no comment cards given out. We've ALWAYS gotten them (the ones that say that they value our opinion). P.S. BERMUDA WAS WONDERFUL! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
I have been on previous cruises with Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. I traveled with family including a child of 8 and a handicapped person. Lets start out with embarkation. I gave this a 5+. It was the smoothest embark on to a ship ... Read More
I have been on previous cruises with Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. I traveled with family including a child of 8 and a handicapped person. Lets start out with embarkation. I gave this a 5+. It was the smoothest embark on to a ship I have ever encountered. We were greeted with champagne and/or OJ. Nice touch. I arrived in NY by 11:00am, on the ship and eating lunch by 12:00pm. That was the highlight. The restaurants, exception of Aqua and Venetian were all extra money. I paid more for this cruise than any previous cruises and I have to pay for dinner???? Reservations were only taken for 5:45pm and 8:45pm, otherwise you had to wait in line. The menu at the "FREE" restaurants were limited, guessing that you had to pay extra for different meals. The only drinks offered, iced tea and water. Not even soda or punch or lemonade with meals. When asked if my daughter could have milk or juice with dinner, it was brought after she had eaten. This cruise line is the cheapest I have ever encountered. I had my condiments applied for me, c'mon, can't I have more ketchup, syrup, whip cream? If the restaurant states that it is open till 10:00pm...the doors are shut by 9:15. I found many of times there was no where to eat. Are you kidding me???? The Blue Lagoon is open 24-7, but it has seating for 20 people. The Garden Cafe has two sides for buffet lines. My cruise was sold out and for the most part only one side of the buffet was open(for 3,000 people). The staff is friendly, but distant. They are not expecting the extra tips so give mediocre service. My cabin stewards were helpful, friendly and accommodating as were the staff at the Kids Crew. But the dinning staff were there just to serve. There weren't enough of them either. Every night our waiter was overworked with tables and dinner often took 2 hours. On previous cruises, by day 2 your wait staff knows your drink preference and has it waiting for your arrival to the table. Each night I felt compelled to tip the waiter for his hard work. More $$$. Kids Crew.... My daughter had a great time with them. There were 700 children on board. My only complaint,(and this is not with the KC staff)it is with NCL, no beepers. I'm guessing NCL is to cheap to provide enough beepers. Not even to handicap children. I was forever running back there to check on her. Again, not staff problem. Loved the activities. On Disney Cruises, there is a cabin card swipe so there can be no confusion of what child is with who and of course they have beepers and phones. Only a sign out signature system on NCL that is not checked enough. Security in Kids Crew should be improved. My daughter was brought out to another family, who has a daughter with her same name. NOT GOOD. T-Rex pool is small with one crew member enforcing the rules. C'Mon people, it says no swim diapers. If you child is wearing them, stay home. They are to little to enjoy a cruise. And parents the T-Rex pool and hot tubs are for children. At one point there were more adults in the TREX hot tub than children. Good Grief! The entertainment was below par. Jose and Patti were the highlight for shows. EXCELLENT. They were unfortunately located in a small lounge. Never enough seating for their show. The main shows at night were horrible. One was about South Beach music and another Bollywood. No thank you. We left both. Our cabin was on deck eight. We heard the Salsa restaurant trio singing all night in our cabin. I have never been on a cruise where you heard everything surrounding you. Above, below, in the hall and the lounge midship. The lady in the cabin next door had coughing fits throughout the night, every night. FOR HANDICAP PEOPLE.. The ship has alot of dead ends. Only certain elevators go all the way up or all the way down. Hallways to cabins are small/thin for a small travel scooter. Restaurants were to small to bring scooter all the way to some tables. Bermuda was beautiful, would go back there in a heartbeat. The people were eager to help you find a beach, shop , dine. Wonderful Island to visit. Weather was awesome. Beaches were spectacular. THE ONE BIG BIG PLUS I WILL GIVE NCL....YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DRESS UP FOR ANYTHING. CASUAL ATTIRE IN ANY RESTAURANT. SOME PEOPLE DINED IN JEANS, SOME IN SHORTS, SOME IN SWIMSUITS. Disembarkation was easy and swift. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Waited 35 minutes for a wheelchair at embarkation. Was worth the wait as the walk to get on the ship is a long one. Will rent an electric scooter next time as there is a lot of walking on the ship in order to get from one place to the ... Read More
Waited 35 minutes for a wheelchair at embarkation. Was worth the wait as the walk to get on the ship is a long one. Will rent an electric scooter next time as there is a lot of walking on the ship in order to get from one place to the other. Lots of parents had a stroller for the little ones. If you plan on taking the stroller on some excursions, they only allow umbrella strollers. Cabin had comfy bed and lots of storage. However, it was the first time I recall hearing conversations from the adjoining cabin and music late at night kept us awake. I think we were above a lounge. You might want to check out the location of your cabin. Ours was near the elevator (good for us) and was partially obstructed but we still had a view. Food everywhere and, for the most part, it was good. However, NCL has gone overboard with extra charges for specialty restaurants. Won a freebie to the specialty brunch. Was good but nothing that different from what was offered in buffet/dinning rooms (except for the chateaubriand). You can ask for anything extra in regular dinning and they manage to get it for you (extra lobster tail, different potato or veggie). Staff is very accommodating. Warning on the PRIME RIB ! It did not resemble the prime rib that I know. Appeared to have been cooked/microwaved ?? in a different sort of way. Menus in Venetian & Aqua dinning rooms are the same. Ate in Le Bistro and was somewhat disappointed. We ate there on a previous cruise and it was better. This time, rack of lamb was chewy and the fruit for the chocolate fondue was cut up in tiny pieces making it difficult to dip. Shows were good but seemed somewhat repetitious. Jean Ryan dancers and singers. Be warned that the music in the theatre is very loud even when we sat in the back row. Not good for sensitive ears or for those who wear a hearing aid. Also, theatre and all public rooms were COLD so bring jackets for the little ones and wraps for yourself. Temps in the cabins are self-regulating. Some good movies, games in the card room, and a special room with coffee/tea for Latitude members. I was about to pay for a one hour trolley tour/shopping at the Dockyard shops when I found out that there is a free tram that takes you to a few shops/crafts and to the nearby Snorkel Beach. Met a family that liked this free beach since the water was shallow and the kids could see fish.Some people who wanted to go further bought bus/ferry passes right at the dock. On our previous cruises, pool lounge chairs were available under the overhangs for those who like shade. All these lounges have been replaced by tables & chairs making it difficult to find a shady spot for a lounge. No hassle leaving the ship. They let you pick the time that you want to leave. Very organized. A good time but NCL has to stop turning "freestyle" into "paystyle". Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Norwegian Dawn Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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