996 Norwegian Dawn Bermuda Cruise Reviews

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
We travelled from Boston to sail on the Norwegian Dawn and stayed before the cruise at the Radisson Hotel in NYC on Lexington. This was a beautiful hotel and had a great location, away from the craziness of Times Square but close to ... Read More
We travelled from Boston to sail on the Norwegian Dawn and stayed before the cruise at the Radisson Hotel in NYC on Lexington. This was a beautiful hotel and had a great location, away from the craziness of Times Square but close to everything. Embarkation was good but we waited in line for quite a while but we are patient people so this was no problem. Our cabin was very nice with a balcony which we used a lot even though Bermuda was extremely hot. There was a surprising amount of space in the cabin to store our clothes etc and our room stewards were just wonderful. Nothing was too much of a problem. We realized that the ship was docking in the sleepy part of Bermuda but we would suggest that you find a better itinerary than this one. It was so quiet at the Dockyard and every day we had to catch a bus or ferry to get to a good part of the island. If you are looking to get away from the world then this one is for you ! Entertainment in the main show lounge was very good and we enjoyed the shows however we have to say that the duo in the cocktail lounge was not very good. All he sang was Neil Diamond and when we actually asked for a request he told us to wait until they did their main Neil Diamond show ! Needless to say we were all "Neil Diamond" out by the end of the cruise ! His girlfriend in the duo talked more than she sang - Luckily the ship was big enough to provide a variety of entertainment and we enjoyed the pianist very much. Dave Heenan the comedian was fantastic and we think he is the best be have ever seen. The food was outstanding and we did not have one bad meal - the service was prompt and every crew member we met was very polite and accommodating. Disembarkation was very good and quick. We loved this beautiful ship and would definitely sail on NCL again and on the Dawn - but with a different itinerary ! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
The only reason we sailed on NCL again was to go to Bermuda and sought of use the cruise ship for a hotel since it docks there for three days. How could we go wrong? It went wrong!!! Embarkation- The pier was a mad house with taxis and ... Read More
The only reason we sailed on NCL again was to go to Bermuda and sought of use the cruise ship for a hotel since it docks there for three days. How could we go wrong? It went wrong!!! Embarkation- The pier was a mad house with taxis and traffic on the west side by the port, that was no fault to NCL. Checked my bags and the process was pretty smooth got on the ship in under an hour. Went up top for a couple frozen drinks and then got swarmed every 5 minutes for the next hour by as many as 5 waiters asking if we wanted another, they push the souvenir glasses with the drinks for 8.95 and the refill is 6.95, but make sure they know you already have a souvenir glass otherwise another 8.95 one will pops up in your face, it happened to me I was double souvenir fisted. I'll take it over having no waiter service at all, but really it was too much. Did you say soda card? nah they don't push that one at all. If you like soda ask for it because that deal is actually now a secret. Ship- Is very nice but very hard to navigate around as there are dead-ends on certain floors. Very colorful and cheerful Food- Was pretty good we opt'd for Salas three nights which had good mexican food, we ate in Bermuda the nights we were there. We recommed the Pickled Onion in Hamilton- the food there was excellent.Entertainment- The had some nice shows, Jose and Patti were our favorite band. Customer care- This is where NCL falls behind other cruise lines and for that alone we pulled back our tips and tipped those who did a good job making our vacation more enjoyable. FYI pulling your tips back is like a crime -"I have to get my Supervisor for you to do that, the smaller people get forgotten when you do that, such as the Maitre'ds the waiters. You have to fill out this form why you want your tip money back-BLah blah blah--- I don't pay the salaries of people whom I don't even use or encounter on a cruise(such as the Maitre'D) we didn't go to the main dining room once, waiters I tip after dinner and drink waiters get tips on top of the 15% THEY ALREADY TAKE OUT- I NEED NCL TO STOP THINKING FOR ME- When you read the Casino part of my review you might understand a bit more.Casino- All I can say is Wow!!!!!!!! My wife and I love to gamble, slots and some table games and as long as the customer service is good, we will drop anywhere from two to three thousand in a casino on any given trip. We actually plan on losing that much going in. Ok -day one I lost three hundred that I brought with me on the ship and took out Five hundred from the casino on my casino card. My wife later that day lost all of her money and then took out one thousand dollars on her casino card. So if your doing the adding we lost ALL the money we brought on the ship and had fifteen hundred of their money in our pockets. The next day I lost some more money and my wife gave me a hundred dollar bill to play slots . I went to cash this money in at the casino window for twenties and was told that the Bill was no good that it was counterfeit. The Manager practically stared through me as if I was a low life as she checked it over about three times and said sir this bill is no good we have to take it for safe keeping and an investigation. Well you can imagine I began to lose it as I explained that I got the bill from my wife who got the bill from you. I was then told by the manager that there was no way we could have received the bill from them because every big bill that passes through their window gets checked in a machine and by hand. Well the way it was presented to me by them it was like calling me a liar to my face and I lost it. I went got my wife, who became upset because she knew exactly where she got those hundreds from and had to have the rest of the bills she was given checked and the BIG casino boss was called down from the back room. They basically told me that there was nothing that they could do for me at this time and that an investigation with the casino cameras would attempted to be conducted and if the investigation couldn't determine the origin of the fake bill that we were out the hundred dollars as it was being vouchered to the US treasury. I was pissed and their lack of customer care or even tact leads me to this statement I will never Ever Ever sail on NCL again!!!!!.......The Hundred dollars wasn't the problem it's how they looked and treated us which ticks me off.....Why????? Because later that night they left a message from on my cabin phone voice mail stating they caught on their cameras where the bill had entered the casino from one of their table games and in fact the bill was given to my wife by them in error and I could come and pick up one hundred dollars at my leisure from the casino, there was a simple we are sorry for the inconvience this may have caused you at the end of the message....... I am sorry but that's just not enough, if I could only explain how attacked we felt , when we were being told it couldn't be their fault ahhhhhhhhh, well no more casino for us and for what is usually a part of vacation that we enjoy, that part of our vacation was gone. Disembarkation- The secret is out everyone is starting to opt for the express checkout which had long lines running around the ship with conflicting directions from crew members scattered around the hallways. We were later informed that one of the elevators in the terminal was not working whiched caused the heavy delays getting off the ship. Bigger problem was there were no taxis outside the cruise terminal... Why ? Because the west side highway was closed due to a marathon in New York and many families had to drag luggage as many as two large avenues down to get Cabs that were stuck in heavy traffic jams. Where was NCL with any guidance or information for their passengers during this confusing situatation? Bottom line is they didn't care- We were all leaving why should they? Done with NCL -Royal Caribbean just booked two cruises next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Just got back from Norwegian Dawn cruise to Bermuda. This was my first cruise & I guess there were good & bad parts...here goes... GOOD: The cruise ship is beautiful. It is very clean & large, there was great maid service, ... Read More
Just got back from Norwegian Dawn cruise to Bermuda. This was my first cruise & I guess there were good & bad parts...here goes... GOOD: The cruise ship is beautiful. It is very clean & large, there was great maid service, & very good food in the "free" restaurants. Embarking & return were quite smooth. BAD: Front Desk-every time I tried to ask them something I got a different response! Restaurants: After paying a fairly expensive price for a balcony room they really have some nerve charging an ADDITIONAL price for MOST of their restaurants. Seriously! Pictures: Yes, it's nice to take pictures but not only were they overpriced, they were taken in the main entry-way and made it very difficult to get through every evening. I felt that any time they thought they could get money out of you they tried to! Even BINGO started at $34 but we were told you don't have a chance at winning unless you play with the $70 boards...honestly $70 to play BINGO? The cruise director was TERRIBLE! The only time he tried to tell us what was going on was if there was money for NCL to make (example only mentioned BINGO or the art auction or the meeting to book future cruises). If I heard him say "drop your hotdogs for smashing bingo" one more time I might have slapped him! All of the drinks including a soda had an automatic 15% tip added to the bill. The art auction was a joke! Nothing comes framed and they charge an additional $50 to ship the artwork! Also, there was very limited nightlife and the shows were TERRIBLE! I saw better in my 10th grade drama class! I would take another cruise but DEFINITELY NOT with NCL! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We sailed out of N.Y. on Sun. 7-6-08 on NCL dawn.Our group of 23 ranged in age from 13 to 80+.We had first time cruisers and veteran cruisers. We occupied cabins8017,8019,8021, 8139 ,8151, 8153,8155, 8157, 8159 and mine 8161.This is my 7th ... Read More
We sailed out of N.Y. on Sun. 7-6-08 on NCL dawn.Our group of 23 ranged in age from 13 to 80+.We had first time cruisers and veteran cruisers. We occupied cabins8017,8019,8021, 8139 ,8151, 8153,8155, 8157, 8159 and mine 8161.This is my 7th cruise . It was just my husband and I. We are in our mid 40`s traveling with a bunch of friends. Three came with families ( teens), some singles, some widows and widowers, in-laws and scuba fanatics. We were a mixed bunch . Leaving from the NY port was disorganized , long lines going in ,no baggage carriers at first, the lines inside were changed as two ships were both leaving .Once with NCL we could relax with our comp. Champagne. The Venetian was not open till 5:30 p.m. we waited outside of it to make sure. The buffet was open .We waited and ate at the Venetian. This was my first time doing freestyle. Our group had mixed reviews. The veteran cruiser prefers the scheduled meal times and would have liked us all to be at dinner at the same time. We were able to get reservations at Cagney`s****($20pp cover-groups should use the coupon in your coupon book it`s only good for the first night). The first thing we did on the ship was rush to book this and we had to eat at 9pm.We did groups of 14 -21 two other nights at 7 p.m..We booked last minute and only had a 10 minute wait for one night at the Venetian*** and 3 separate tables near each other for the other night at the Aqua***. I did not mind at all and on all three nights had early dinners at other restaurants at 5:30 p.m.(Yes I am an eating machine! see my food critic reviews below).Most of our group liked picking when and where to eat and going their own way. On our previous RCL cruise the kids and teens ate at Johnny Rockets every night and that had a small cover charge$$$. Here the kids and some grown ups ate at Blue Lagoon** for a similar food type and had the Salsa bar rstrnt *** , Bimini grill, pool side BBQ`s , sprinkles ice cream** (NO sprinkles just ice cream)and Garden Cafe buffet and N.Y. Deli as other no cover charge options. We also ate 2 nights at Le Bistro**** ($15 pp cover charge)(see anniversary / honeymoon package below). Others in the group ate at Impressions for Italian(cover charge $10) and hated it. No one ate at the Asian restaurants Bamboo &sushi bar and Teppanyaki (varied cover charge).A large part of our group ate at the Garden Cafe buffet as this was a very informal venue- they said it was very good. I did hear a lot of other passengers complaining that Free Style was not as free as they would have liked --it was mostly about the dress code. Certain restaurants required no shorts ,tanks or tee-shirts at Dinner. You did not need a jacket and tie --but could wear them if your wife forced you to because she likes to dress up (I was the only one on the ship in a beaded gown-poor Hubby). There were always informal restaurants to choose from so if you hate to wear pants ask before you make a reservation especially at the cover charge restaurants because canceled reservations are charged the cover for two if not canceled before 4:30 p.m. You don`t need to make reservations for most restaurants , menus are posted outside each one with the dress code so explore and pick what you like. The ship was colorful and well laid out once you realize what floors to avoid as you can`t walk fore to aft on certain floors( just go one up or down). The restaurants went from elegant to fun in their decor. The Atrium was beautiful .The pool area was crowded and our sun bathing teens had trouble getting a lounge. We used the hot tub on a port day to relax and had it to ourselves. Our gamblers liked the casino but certificate raffle winners beware :two people won free entries to tournaments but missed them as no time was posted on them- ASK when you win them. The Galleria gift shop holds lot`s of raffles - hold on to your receipts and get raffle tickets when you make purchases even in the atrium(they forget to give them to you-and miss print drawing times so ask).You must be present to win so on "fill in raffles" only put "family name" down so any one in your cabin can go and beware they overlap with all the other things you can choose to do or not do (a high lighter came in helpful to mark what we liked in the dailies ). The costume jewelry and t-shirts were a good buy .Free Liquor tasting was fun (if buying it`s one liter per person now) I liked it so much I was asked if I`d like a bowl!!No one used the gym but the massage service was very good. We loved the art gallery auctions and free champagne(-I would make mimosas with my O.J.) We are not art buffs normally but loved the auctions it`s fun even while not bidding. The "not so newlywed game" was fun, the Bollywood show ***, The second city shows were enjoyed by some of our group as was the Gleason`s magic show ,the others got fair to poor reviews .The cruise director was very friendly "drop your pancakes and sausages" the staff was very friendly and very helpful 95% of the time. Some of them were outstanding. All in all a very nice ship. Our cabins were very nice. Though ours and 8159 had a lot of noise coming from above us (lot`s of kids or a mech. Room???) I loved the sliding glass door on the shower. If you bring lot`s of toiletries try an over the door shoe holder to hold your tubes and bottles but there is an adequate shelf for those with a normal amount of "stuff".Bring a blow dryer if you don`t want to use their wimpy one. Bring a multi plug or power bar if you have lot`s to plug in. Ask for an egg crate for on the mattress if you need one I have a bad back and I did. I also brought extra plastic slacks hangers as I bring a lot of clothes. The draws held our under and bed garments and hair brushes, curling iron and blow dryer (the plug is on the vanity in the room not in the bathroom). Bring an alarm clock as there is no clock in the room. We also brought a collapsible cooler and garbage bags to line it as we like lot`s of ice our steward kept it filled and emptied it when it needed it .We brought large plastic cups for water, orange juice and cranberry juice and for my husband to use with his soda card. They do not want you to fill sport bottles as it is a health issue???At first we had trouble using the cups but I spoke to the head of food & beverage and he said he would speak to the staff and we never had trouble again. Usually you get a cup when you buy the soda card but do to the upgrade to 2.0 the new cups were not in yet . They would be adequate for a normal drinker but we drink 10 - 20 glasses a day. If you like O.J .& cran. Other than in the morning stock up at bkft and put it in your frig. Or cooler. Have your steward empty your frig of it`s stock so you have room. The frig. Is small. When taking food back to your room that you will put in the frig. Ask for the food on a small plate w/ wrap on it (there regular size plates are too big.).I always ask for desserts to go if I am full and enjoy 2 later when hungry. Port of call :.We docked at King`s Wharf in Bermuda. Leaving the ship and getting back on was a breeze. We would come back to the ship for lunch and dinner. We got the transportation pass for 2 days ($20pp).The bus ride (ours had A.C.) to Hamilton was like a tour: try not to get on a crowded one (they stop and pick up passengers along the way). Beware they drive fast!!We shopped on front street ** and later went to the street fair(only Wed. night) for more shopping **.We took the ferry back to King`s Wharf (25 min.) and enjoyed the views and A.C.= very nice boats. Our 2nd port day we took the ferry to St .George (45 min.) we walked around then took the bus to the Crystal caves( $46 for 2 for both caves) If you can only do one cave pick the fantasy cave (more color less broken stalactites). Then we ate at Baily`s Ice cream parlor *** ($10 for 2 two scoops w/ choc. Cone).Then we had a frozen Rum Swizzle at the Swizzle Inn ($17 + $3 tip).Then we were off to a beach. We hate crowds so we picked John Smith Bay (Jobsons cove was our 2nd choice).It was secluded and lovely, surrounded by hills and trees with grassy knolls and bordered by dark coral reefs. Then we took the bus back to ST .George to see the perfume factory (last tour is 4:30 p.m.).and Somers garden **.Then the ferry back to K.W. to the ship. Our last day we booked the "Restless Native Catamaran"***($89pp)-the cookies and rum swizzles and cheese and crackers were great and our snorkel lovers enjoyed it.Maureen S. did an excellent job as our tour guide. We then checked out the mall* (you can buy Bermuda perfume here ) ,the glass factory *** and the Rum Cake factory **(check around for prices we found it cheaper down the road). Some of our group who did not get the transportation passes hated being docked at King`s Wharf and would never cruise to that port again. We had no trouble getting all over the island and enjoyed having 3 days at one port so we never had to rush back to the ship. Plus the ships docked at the other port had to leave 1 day early due to Bertha. I liked freestyle and would bring my 14 and 18 year old on an NCL cruise (it`s better then RCL for teens). I took advantage of NCL`s future cruise program to save on per person deposits ($250 per cabin instead of $250 per person) we got a $100 shipboard credit on this cruise and can book within 12 months for as far away as 30 months (7-12-09 to book and 1-12-11 to sail). It is also fully refundable (W/I 30 days) so if I change my mind I get my $150 back. If I do keep it I get the whole $250 deposit off my future cruise( and the previously spent $100 credit.). I hope this review was helpful. I am trying Princess Cruises next in Sept. w\ my Mom. Then NCL again with the kids. About the Honeymoon/Anniversary PKG: 1.Sparkling wine & choc. Covered strawberries in cabin 1st day *** 2.dinner for 2 at Le Bistro w/ bottle of red or white table wine **** 3.Champagne & cake party Tue 4 p.m.*** 4.5x7 portrait taken at cake party (they take a few) *** 5.canapes to cabin Fri.btwn 5-6 pm *** all this for $89 call travel agent 2 weeks before to book Food review BKFT: Venetian: eggs benedict w/ extra Canadian bacon extra hollandaise **** 3 out of 4 days * 1 day hash brown potatoes, corned beef hash(real not canned),bacon, french toast, sausage, bagel- all rated**** LUNCH : Sun: Buffet garden café: roast beef * lamb** Mon:Venetian:.sweet&sour grouper fried rice***steak sandwich*** Tue:udon noodles prawns & pork ***veg.fried rice **** calamari**pastrami sand *** Wed:Blue Lagoon: Hotwings*** Panini**Fish n chips***Fries*** Thur: Ate in Bermuda Fri:Venetian:fish n chips *** udon noodle w/ scallops** broc. Ced. Soup** BBQ wings*** Sat: Blue lagoon: fish n chips *** wanton soup*** wings*** Fries***hamburger*** DINNER:SUN:Venetian: tart**** soup****Jerk chicken**** CAGNEYS group review:crabcake**** Portabella Mushroom W/crabmeat****Lobster bisque soup* ceaser salad*** prime rib****lobster tail($10 more)****garlic mash potato***T bone *** Cagney fries**** onion rings*** filet mignon*** wedge salad****Cag.chef salad**** shrimp cocktail*** clam chowder**creamed spinach* Cheesecake**** Lockwood and Orville were Fantabulous waiters MON:Venetian:lobster*** sirloin steak** beef wellington*tortellini** chicken*** salmon*** TUE:Le Bistro: escargot***onion soup*** cream mushroom soup in bread bowl*** seared scallops**** lamb chops****sirloin steak for 2($10pp=$20)***(not worth extra$$) crepes suz.***choc. Napoleon***anniversary cake** WED:Venetian:spring roll*chilled avocado shrimp soup** prime rib****Tilapia w/jasmine rice **quesadilla*** cappuccino mousse in choc.cup**** THUR:Aqua:artichoke salad***scallops***cauliflower soup***duck salad*flounder***beef stroganoff***sirloinsteak***farfarel sausage &peppers**peanutbutter pie***bavarian cream* CHOCOLATE BUFFET:in Garden Café got on line at 9:40 opened at 10 PM ** FRI:Salsa:Beef fajita***ribs***pork spring roll*** nacho grande*** Venetian:lobster w/shrimp scallops snapper & mussels over pasta*** SAT:LeBistro: scallops**** onion soup**** rack lamb**** assorted wursts*** Cappuccino is available for free at Bkft, Lunch and Dinner Check Daily for drink specials:$4.95 Margarita, 2 for 1 Martini, Refills on daily special drink are less, and if you like wine with dinner bring on your own large bottle for the $15 corking fee (must pay even if you uncork it)they hold it and you just request it at any restaurant or you can keep it in your room. RATINGS *poor - fair **OK ***good ****excellent Over all the food was *** The secret to not gaining a ton is using the stairs instead of the elevator. Sweet Sailings! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We have cruised to Bermuda 8 times now in the past 9 years. This cruise was BY FAR the worst. This cruise makes me really miss the old Zenith (Celebrity). 1) Embarkation - Check In was fast and efficient. The room was never completely ... Read More
We have cruised to Bermuda 8 times now in the past 9 years. This cruise was BY FAR the worst. This cruise makes me really miss the old Zenith (Celebrity). 1) Embarkation - Check In was fast and efficient. The room was never completely cleared of debris from the previous passengers, after numerous attempts to communicate this with room steward. 2) The Pool - Staff on board refused to enforce their own posted rules. Specifically, children jumping from the Hot Tub into the adult pool. Children went into pools with just regular diapers and/or swim diapers, a blatant violation of posted rules. This was an obvious health concern and safety, which is also addressed later. 3) Pool Area - Signs posted prohibit the reserving of sun chairs, but EVERYONE did it, and NOTHING was done about it. One nasty staff member, who was also in charge of the POOL TOWELS, reminded us of the rule in a stern and nasty manner, but refused to do anything about the above mentioned children / Hot Tub issue. 4) Restaurants - Service was ALWAYS slow at best. Food was MOSTLY mediocre at best. We were chided for wearing shorts on the Salsa restaurant, but EVERYONE else was doing it. In Aqua, it took 10 minutes to bring cocktail sauce for the shrimp cocktail. In addition, the person who took our drink order was nasty, especially when she realized we had presented a ticket for an already opened bottle of wine that was being saved for us. At Cagney's, the appetizers were served barely warm, and the meats were not cooked correctly - a medium steak came out well done. In the Venetian, the Eggs Benedict was served on a mushy untoasted English muffin. In the Blue Lagoon, we were blatantly ignored, had to beg to have the table cleaned and be given eating utensils. Of course, the food order was wrong. The buffet was a joke - as some items could only be reached by people with extremely long arms, and the prongs used to pick up food were awful. 5) Reservations - Could not reach restaurant reservation desk via phone. When we went to that desk in lobby, the person was just standing around. You would think she would be on the phone the whole time. 6) Bar Staff - Extremely aggressive in attempting to get drink orders. For example, we were approached by 5 different people in a 10 minute period poolside. This is not necessary. Mixed drinks were OK, but expensive. They did not communicate the option of purchasing drinks in Souvenir glasses versus regular glasses, as the former would cost $2 or more additional per drink. 7) Room steward / room service - we literally had to beg for ice and pitchers of water. 3 people in our party needed water to take multiple medications. Water could only be obtained via room service, which would take an hour or more. On previous cruises, a pitcher was provided in each room. The room steward did not clean the rooms properly - he would lave dirty glasses and filled garbage cans. 8) Service Charges - NCL does not make it plainly obvious that they charge $10 per person per day service charge as a forced gratuity. Whenever we cruised on Celebrity, we were given guidelines for tipping, but in the end, we made the determination. 9) Ship Cleanliness - This ship was a germ fest. Waiters walked around coughing into plates. Hairs were found in foods on more than one occasion. Bathroom glasses were cleaned by running hot water into them. If this ship was subject to health regulations as do NYC restaurants, they would have been shut down. 2 people in our party contracted conjunctivitis, and one had an intestinal virus on board, and another came home with a sinus infection. 10) Customer Service - Any time we expressed concerns about the above issues, the staff member was defensive, rather than being apologetic. At times, they would blame us for the problems we encountered! For example, we were blamed for having our room cards deactivated, because we supposedly carried them together! Sorry, we did not walk into a magnetic field! No attempts were made to correct the issues - not even the obligatory apologetic bottle of cheap champagne was not offered! In summary, we wouldn't go back if they gave us a suite for free. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was my third time to Bermuda - with three different cruise lines. Although we thought we only could go with Celebrity, Celebrity does not offer Bermuda from NY any more. We read lots of reviews and figured we'd give NCL a try. I ... Read More
This was my third time to Bermuda - with three different cruise lines. Although we thought we only could go with Celebrity, Celebrity does not offer Bermuda from NY any more. We read lots of reviews and figured we'd give NCL a try. I can't stress enough how smooth everything was from the time we checked in, had our champagne toast as we boarded, and found our way around the ship. This did take a few days to figure out. It is not necessary to eat in any of the specialty restaurants since the Venetian offered great food. We did try Salsa (nothing special) and LeBistro (very good). If I go back again, I will not go to any specialty restaurant. The longest we had to wait was maybe 30 mins, but we hung out in Pearly's Pub and had a drink beforehand. It became our meeting spot since we were with a group of 10. I preferred the buffet for breakfast and lunch because I can get a little impatient waiting for food. For those meals, it was better to pick a little of everything I wanted. They had a fresh waffle station and fresh egg station - it was great. It was nice to have a non-hurried dinner and some nights it took almost 2 hours. Of course, my family are big eaters and had 2 - 3 appetizers and entrEes at every meal. The servers were happy to serve you as many as you wanted. My brother had 3 servings of the pecan crusted snapper which was EXCELLENT. The Venetian also had lobster tails on Tuesday and Friday and you could order more than one of them also. Deserts were also excellent - look for the coconut rice pudding. Entertainment was great. Dave the comedian was so funny and it was nice to see him mingle with passengers around the ship. We even met him hailing a cab after the cruise in NYC. The Bollywood show cannot be missed and I have a new admiration for Elton John because Jeff played one mean piano. I prefer to sit up close so we got to the shows about 30 mins prior. Great cruise, great service, no complaints - except of course saying goodbye to Bermuda. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was my second cruise with NCL, having sailed previously on the Gem in February 2008. I traveled with my husband and three daughters (ages 21 months, 6, and 7). We booked the cruise based on great destination, price, convenience, and ... Read More
This was my second cruise with NCL, having sailed previously on the Gem in February 2008. I traveled with my husband and three daughters (ages 21 months, 6, and 7). We booked the cruise based on great destination, price, convenience, and kids' activities. My birthday also fell during the week of the cruise. We are a pretty low-maintenance kind of family, other than some basic needs for the kids. Our feelings about our cruise on the Dawn were mixed. I'll let you read on and decide for yourself. EMBARKATION: We drove from Queens to Manhattan and parked in the long term lot where we paid the $200+ fee in advance. Check in was very smooth, and after a short wait we boarded the ship. It was a madhouse inside. We had a great deal of trouble navigating with a stroller, carry on bags, and two other small children. We headed to the buffet which was jammed. I had to go from table to table begging other passengers for their unused utensils because there were few to be found. Got into a minor verbal altercation with an aggressive man who tried to take chairs away from my table when my husband and kids went up to the buffet for some dessert. He threatened to get a staff member to take the chairs from me, as if I were making up some imaginary family who actually needed to sit down when they returned with their food. (I was particularly offended by this because I am the type of person who hates to save seats for people and I usually never do it because I believe that if you want a good seat you should show up early and put your butt in it.) The whole buffet area was quite an ugly scene. I will be sure to head to Venetian instead of the buffet if we ever sail on the Dawn again. CABIN: By 2:00 we were allowed to go into our cabins. We had two inside staterooms on Deck 11 AFT. As I entered my cabin it was decorated with birthday balloons and streamers, and a birthday cake sat on the vanity. My husband had arranged it. Only problem was, this was Sunday and my birthday wasn't until Wednesday, and the birthday greeting had my daughter's name on it instead of mine! (This was NCL's fault, not my husband's. I'll mention more about this later.) The cabin layout was the same as the one I had on the Gem, although the condition of the room was much worse. I immediately noticed that the carpet was stained and worn. Upon heading into the bathroom I saw thick dust on the toiletry shelf and on the mirror. Toothpaste splatters were visible all over the shower door. Small patches of rust and mold could be found round the bottom of the door and along the clothesline that spans across the shower stall. When we unpacked and put our suitcases under the beds, we also found more dust and crumbs from prior guests. The quality of the housekeeping was not great throughout the trip. It seems like the cabin stewards have too many cabins to maintain and that they are quite rushed to turn over the ship quickly as the old passengers disembark and new ones board. This could account for a lack of attention to detail which eventually leads to the overall deterioration of the staterooms. I also found it hard to contact the stewards when we had a problem or request. On the Gem our cabin stewards left little calling cards, to introduce themselves and to provide a direct number, should we need them. That made me feel much more comfortable asking for what I needed, rather than having to go through a third party. Another problem was the noise. I would never book an AFT room again. There was constant clanging, banging, and the sound of what seemed to be a freight elevator right behind the walls of our cabin. Thank goodness I had my iPod to help drown out noise so I could fall asleep at night. My cabin on the Gem was Deck 11 Midship and I never had such terrible noise. KIDS CREW & T-REX POOL: My two big girls loved going to the kids club. Their favorite activities included a junior version of White Hot Night in the Teen Disco, and the farewell pajama party. Booger, Crocodile and Lollipop were their counselors for the majority of the cruise. They were all quite friendly and engaging. The T-Rex pool was a fun area where the kids could slide, swim and splash in a safe environment. It was a little hard to get to with the little one, though. Lots of up and down stairs. We eventually found a shortcut through the gym that made it easier. We tried to be considerate and not drip all over the workout areas, so no one seemed to mind us walking through. DINING: The single best food item I tasted was the pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, served at Blue Lagoon. The food at Impressions Italian restaurant was quite good, as was the food at Salsa, the Mexican restaurant. The staff at both of those restaurants was exceptional as well. We had several dinners at Venetian which were good, too. However, with a toddler, it was difficult to eat in the more formal settings because she can't sit still for very long. That's why we were grateful for the Kids Cafe at the buffet. We were always able to get a pint-sized table where our kids could be kids as they ate. We were also grateful for the Kids Cafe because much of the time the food at that mini-buffet was better than the adult buffet offerings. I frequently saw adults raiding the kiddie buffet for pizza, chicken tenders, fries, and cookies. I understood why. How many times can a person eat greasy hamburgers and hot dogs, dried out meat, undercooked, lukewarm pasta, coconut rice and curry? Despite having such a large buffet area, I found the choices to be limited, and to be repeated too often. The poolside barbecues weren't great either. The meat was bone dry. Something else that I found troublesome was the availability of food at various times of the day. At any given time of day, a section (or sections) of the buffet were closed. Most times, if we didn't show up for rush hour lunch or dinner servings, we were forced to choose from a narrow selection at the NY Deli section. This experience again differs from my experience on the Gem where my kids could get hot chocolate, mozzarella sticks and soft-serve ice cream at 10:30 pm when they left the kids club. I know, there's always room service, but anyone who knows hungry kids knows that it's hard for them to wait ½ hour for room service to show up. Overall, I would have to say that no one should go on the Dawn expecting to eat themselves silly on an abundance of great food. BERMUDA: Lovely, lovely, lovely! We are not beach people, but we just couldn’t miss the chance to test the turquoise waters. One quick and easy beach to get to if you don’t want to schlep little ones on buses and ferries, or take a pricey taxi ride is Snorkel Park. It is in walking distance from the ship. It’s small, and not picture postcard perfect, but it has good amenities like bathrooms, showers, umbrella/chair/sand toy rentals and Hammerhead’s restaurant/bar. The water is very calm and shallow, perfect for little ones. I love that we were docked for nearly three full days in one location and could get on and off the ship at will. We docked during the annual Cup Match (cricket), so lots of stores and restaurants were closed, but the shops at the dockyard were adequate for our shopping needs. Skip the aquarium and zoo, especially if you’re a New Yorker. The place nothing compared to what we’re used to in Coney Island and the Bronx. We didn’t go to Horseshoe Bay beach, but we know people who said it was a can’t miss, so check it out. I would definitely go back to Bermuda again with or without NCL. MISCELLANEOUS: The birthday mix-up continued on my real birthday when the cake showed up over an hour later than scheduled, and the cabin was not decorated. My husband ended up having to go to reception to get his money back. When we returned from dinner that night the room was finally decorated again. Too much hassle for a service my husband paid for that was supposed to be a convenience for him and a nice surprise for me. Speaking of surprises, my husband bought me a beautiful ring for my birthday. He bought it in the jewelry store on the Dawn. The ring was on sale at a great price and it was duty free. I love it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
First- overall a very good cruise, No problems at the pier in New York, we are a family of 6 from Long Island. We took the LIRR to pen station then 2 cabs to the pier. Total cost $55, compared with $210 to park at the pier for a week, ... Read More
First- overall a very good cruise, No problems at the pier in New York, we are a family of 6 from Long Island. We took the LIRR to pen station then 2 cabs to the pier. Total cost $55, compared with $210 to park at the pier for a week, and $180 each way for a limo. Once on board only the Garden Cafe was open for lunch. We received a printed sheet at the pier that said the Venetian would open for lunch at 12:30, but it never opened. staff stated we should go to the Garden Cafe and the info we received was wrong. Freestyle cruising- not so free. Half the restaurants on the ship have a cover charge from $10 TO $20 per person, then once your in those restaurants some menu items cost an additional $10. We ate in the Venetian, Aqua, The Garden Cafe, and Salsa for dinner, all were very good. we didn't feel it was necessary to pay to eat in one of the other restaurants. We heard that Salsa was going to have a cover charge after our cruise. We also had snacks often at the Blue Lagoon at all hours. Everything there is also good. We Purchased 2 teen passports on the first day. Each passport has 20 coupons that can be used in any restaurant or bar for a can of soda or a nonalcohol frozen drink. We found this to be a good deal since drinks were so expensive on board. We passed on the unlimited soda deal. It seemed very expensive, and we don't drink that much soda. The Garden Cafe has Juices avail for free only for breakfast. If you want any juices later in the day, bring some glasses of juice back to your refrigerator in your cabin. Chocolate milk is also avail. for breakfast, but you have to ask for it. Chocoholic Buffet- 10:00 Thursday night @ the Garden Cafe. It opened 20 mins early. Nothing special here. all the same stuff thats avail all week at lunch and dinner. If you miss it, you can get a piece of Chocolate cake for lunch the next day. In Bermuda we purchased bus/ferry passes. 2 day pass $20. Third day we stayed near the ship, so a 3 day pass wasn't necessary. On wed. we went by bus to Horseshoe beach. Very nice beach. Beach chairs and umbrellas avail for rent for $10 each. Also a snack bar at Horseshoe. Long steep down hill walk to the beach from the bus. $1 per person taxi ride back to the bus stop is well worth the $1. Elbow Beach the second day wasn't so nice. We went to the public section of the beach. No facilities there, and a much smaller beach than Horseshoe. You might want to skip Elbow. Third day spent at Snorkel beach. It's a 5-10 min walk from the ship. Plenty to do at Snorkel beach. Rentals of snorkel gear- $20 (bring your own mask and snorkel from home) paddle boat rentals and jet ski rentals avail. Beach chairs and umbrellas $10. Snack bar and Bar at Snorkel Beach is very expensive (frozen drinks up to $18 each). Bring your own snacks and drinks. There is a mini-mart at Dockyard. The water is only waste deep at Snorkel park. Bring beach type shoes to wear in the water, lots of rocks and coral. lots of fish to see. Many people come out of the water with small lacerations to feet who didn't have shoes on. Entertainment- Dave Heenan- very funny, see the family show and his adult only show. You won't be disappointed. Magician Greg Gleason also very good, he has a few shows during the week. singers Jose & his wife Patti- very good, they sing almost every night. Several other shows, all were okay. Leaving the ship back in New York- we opted for the carry your own bags off the ship. I heard that people on past cruises stand in lines wrapped around the ship waiting to get off. we ate and was ready to leave @ 7:30 sunday morn. We walked right off without another passenger in sight. By 8:15 we were at Penn Station and on the way home. Have a good time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
My husband and I just returned from Bermuda via the Norwegian Dawn on the 29th of June. We had a very good time and completely enjoyed ourselves as we were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. We have never sailed before, so be ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from Bermuda via the Norwegian Dawn on the 29th of June. We had a very good time and completely enjoyed ourselves as we were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. We have never sailed before, so be aware that our opinion is limited. The ship was beautiful and it seemed to be in good repair. We witnessed on many occasions the crew cleaning, painting, and washing the ship. The only thing that was not "clean" on the ship were the carpets. There were stains and places were the seams were coming up. It stuck out to us because it did not have the same standards as the rest of the ship. Our stateroom was small but adequate for two people. We had plenty of storage space for our things. The shower was better than expected!! Our steward, Boris, was incredible! Great service with a smile and very friendly. We completely enjoyed our balcony room. The food on the ship was much better than we expected.(After reading so many reviews here.) We love GOOD food, and we both cook....yes, gourmet! We ate at the Venetian, Aqua, Le Bistro, Sushi, Bamboo, Blue Lagoon, and Garden Cafe. We were especially impressed with the Venetian and Aqua!! Their food was excellent, service was great. Our dinner at Le Bistro was EXCELLENT!! The service was great and food fabulous. We are BIG sushi fans and eat it frequently. The only meal that we were very disappointed in the cruise was our Bamboo / Sushi dinner. It was a MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT!!! Blue Lagoon.....GREAT!!! We love to eat hot wings and they were really good. Garden Cafe, is good if you like the buffet style of eating. It is not our first choice, but we did dine there a few times because of time constraints and it was decent. We did enjoy some of the entertainment, but it got old really quick. The singers sing the same song....over, and over, and over again. We personally did not feel that most of the entertainment was clean enough for small ears. We were thankful that our children were not there. Lots of sexual innuendos and sexually provocative dancing. Greg Gleason is a great magician, and Dave Heenan is extremely funny (when it is clean). What we were disappointed in is the amount of time that the crew spent trying to sell us something!! From photos, to purchasing beverages to go with dinner, to lottery tickets, raffles tickets, drinks while we were sitting by the pool, drinks while we were watching a show.....etc. It was endless. We thought it was crazy!! And.....it was crazy!!! We overheard a Dad telling his daughter on the last day,"How on earth did we rack up 5,000.00 on this boat?" Simple, we take them up on everything they offer you and you will indeed spend that much on board. The Pool.....get there early on sea days or you will not get a chair. We actually watched a fight take place because someone "reserved" chair with their beach towels. The chairs were vacant for at least 2 hours so someone moved in on the territory. The lady finally came to claim her "reserved" chairs, which you are not supposed to do, and screamed and yelled at two young girls for taking her chairs. It was crazy!! Pool was very small for the ship and the amount of people on board. We will try a different cruise line in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Background: I (43 yo married female) traveled with my husband (42) and soon to be five year old daughter. My husband and I have been on two Celebrity cruises (Summit and Mercury) and enjoyed both of those immensely. This itinerary met our ... Read More
Background: I (43 yo married female) traveled with my husband (42) and soon to be five year old daughter. My husband and I have been on two Celebrity cruises (Summit and Mercury) and enjoyed both of those immensely. This itinerary met our needs and time constraints and New York was an easy drive for us (Alexandria, VA). We chose to make a weekend of it in New York so we arrived there on Friday. Embarkation: This was terrific. We were in an AB suite so we had priority embarkation. Our cabin was ready when we boarded (I think around noon) and we proceeded to the Venetian Dining Room for lunch. Cabin: Our cabin (11030) was beautiful. It was far more spacious than the sky suites we've had on Celebrity. I have no complaints about the cabin or it's maintenance. It was immaculate. Service: Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with the overall service onboard. There were exceptions to that: Anca, the concierge was wonderful as were our cabin stewards Jerry and Pedro. The counselors in the kids club couldn't have been any better and our daughter adored them. I can't say anyone else met the standards we were used to on Celebrity. Our butler, Jeffrey, was pleasant enough but seemed to do the minimum he needed to do to get tipped. Food: This is where I'd say Celebrity beats NCL hands down. We ate at Le Bistro (when our daughter was in the kids club), Salsa (twice), Impressions (twice), Bamboo, and Aqua. Le Bistro was a huge disappointment. Maybe we are used to really good restaurants here in the DC area, but I expected a good meal and they didn't deliver. For instance, we brought three bottles of wine onboard and paid the $15 corking fee. One bottle was an expensive Brunello from 1995. When they decantered the bottle, they poured the entire bottle into the decanter. I'm not a sommelier, and I know that the bottle is bound to have sediment and to leave the last bit in there. The assistant maitre d (who also id'd himself as the sommelier), didn't have a clue. The first meal at Salsa was good, the second not so good. Bamboo was good as was the sushi bar, Impressions was fair. I'd honestly say the meal I ate at Aqua was close to the best dinner I had (which doesn't say much for the "specialty" restaurants). We were lucky to be able to have breakfast and lunch at Cagney's (which is a lovely perk for suite guests) as the in suite breakfast was cold the few times we tried it. Children's Activities: This was perhaps the best thing NCL has to offer. My daughter adored her experiences in the kid's club and we couldn't drag her away from the T-Rex pool. This would be the number one reason I"d go back to NCL. Entertainment: I'd say the entertainment was quite good although I only went to the magic show and the Bollywood night. The positives of Freestyle: loved the open dining, although we did make reservations a few nights; The negatives of Freestyle: I was appalled at what some people consider proper attire. I saw bathing suit bottoms in specialty restaurants (there was a woman wearing a swim mini one night in Salsa), and lots of shorts in Le Bistro. My favorite was the guy wearing the football jersey and jeans on formal night in Impressions. Tacky, tacky, tacky---that's all I can say. It dumbs down the whole cruise experience and would be the one reason I wouldn't return to NCL. Overall, it was a good cruise. If I hadn't been on Celebrity before, I'd probably have thought it better. We'll probably try Disney next or maybe revisit Celebrity. My husband wants to do something more premium like Crystal or Seaborne, but my daughter's not ready for that yet. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
"7-Night Bermuda" Aboard Norwegian Dawn "Shores distant shores, there's where I'm headed for." - Guy Clark Graduation Present Cruise. Aren't we cool parents - this was a high school graduation ... Read More
"7-Night Bermuda" Aboard Norwegian Dawn "Shores distant shores, there's where I'm headed for." - Guy Clark Graduation Present Cruise. Aren't we cool parents - this was a high school graduation present for our younger son (age 17). D & I had cruised twice previously to Bermuda, and we'd always talked up a storm about it. So when faced with what he might want for a graduation present, rather than money, or a party, he chose to see Bermuda, and spending 8 days on a luxury cruise ship was the icing on the cake. Our older son (age 22) came too. Price was $910/person booked through Expedia.com. Plus, we pre-booked through NCL $160/person for two excursions. Destination Review first and Ship & Port Review to follow. Time at Sea. Two and a half tranquil days of cruising expired prior to reaching King's Wharf, Bermuda. "There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves. The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor. For the most part, in this tropical [cruising] life, a sublime uneventfulness invests you; you hear no news; read no gazettes; extras with startling accounts of commonplace never delude you into unnecessary excitements; you hear of no domestic afflictions; bankrupt securities; fall of stocks; are never troubled with the thought of what you shall have for dinner." ~ Herman Melville (Moby Dick) Three days on the island, and then the cruise back to New York took one and a half days. Bermuda. It is simply one of the most beautiful islands that you can cruise to. I can't add much to that. Instead, I'll relate a story. Isle of Devils. Early Spanish and Portuguese captains referred to Bermuda by this name. On our two sail & snorkel excursions, we were given two different stories as to why. First, early legends spoke of spirits or devils howling throughout the night in the wooded areas all over the islands. The noises are now thought to have been the callings of birds (most likely the Bermuda Petrel or Cahow). The second story was that the islands were named because of the perpetual wrecking of ships in nearly a complete circle around the islands, now known to have been caused by the submerged northern half of the extinct volcano that formed the islands. Pick a story, I like them both. King's Wharf. DAWN docked at King's Wharf, just as SPIRIT did in 2004. Dockyard Tram. Previously, there had been trams available at the Dockyard for excursion tours, but this time around, there was also a tram for just transporting people around the facilities. It consisted of four open-air, 4-abreast, 6-row seating cars, pulled by a cute little "Thomas the Tank" styled steam engine replica (propane driven). It made one continuous loop with stops at King's Wharf, the bus & ferry terminal, Clocktower Mall, and Snorkel Park / Maritime Museum. It was convenient only if it happened to be where you were, when you wanted to ride it. Its slow progress, and even slower loading/unloading, usually meant that waiting for it was futile and walking was faster. Ramparts [Afternoon, Day 6]. I had read that entrance to the Maritime Museum included access to a portion of the ramparts (fortification walls surrounding the Fortress Keep and partially the Dockyard). The ramparts, which are an average of 40ft high, afford you a good view out over the ocean. I figured that if the ramparts were accessible from the Museum, then they were probably accessible from other points within the Dockyard. It took my younger son & I only a short time to find an old earthen ramp behind the Craft Market that lead up to the top. It was overgrown with weeds but not blocked off - fair game as far as we were concerned - and up we climbed. The rampart walls, made of solid stone, were (by my guess) at least 25ft wide, with about a 4ft tall 'railing' of stone lining each side. Walking along the ramparts, I can only imagine, must be eerily similar to walking along the top of the Great Wall of China (scenery there would be different). Periodically along the railings were openings, where, I assume, the battlement guns once were located. We did find a number of old circular cannon pivot posts and rails. We walked as far as the Fortress Keep itself, but, in our attempt to get to a position with an unobstructed view of the ocean, we were thwarted by a gap in the fortification walls that was way too wide for us to cross. Clocktower Mall. We visited the mall and craft shops on a few occasions. My wife, D, loves this shopping area. To the Beach! [Day 4]. Our first day on Bermuda, and our plans were to introduce the boys to one of our all-time favorite beach spots, Horseshoe Bay and South Shore Park. We figured on spending most of the daylight hours there today. Picked up 4 all-day bus/ferry passes at the convenient ticket counter right alongside the ship (still $12 each) and hopped on the little wharf Tram which happened to be sitting there at the time (no doubt, waiting for us). A quick ride to the end of the wharf and we hopped off at the first stop, the bus and ferry terminals. 10-minutes or so waiting for the right bus and off we went. We actually caught the Horseshoe Bay Express Bus rather than the normal commuter bus, no stops, Dockyard-to-Bay in approximately 25 minutes. Horseshoe Bay [11am-5pm, Day 4]. As we reached the end of the bay entrance path, rounded the corner, and saw the foliage open up to the spectacular view that D & I have come to love, I said to the boys "Welcome to Horseshoe Bay". What can I add to what I have already stated many times before about Horseshoe Bay. Beautiful, simply beautiful. Today the weather was perfect, mid 80s, and the sun was shining. The wide beachfront definitely contained far more vacationers than I had ever seen here before, but there was still ample room for us to spread out our blanket and clam our little piece of paradise. We were about 30 ft back from the water's edge. Early June, so the water temperature was pretty cold. My younger son & I decided that it was far too cold to just amble in, so we had to make a run for it and jump in full bore. 2-minutes in and you had already long forgotten that initial shock. D & older son exclaimed that the water was too cold, and spent the rest of the day just periodically getting their feet wet but never really opting for the full-body shock. Younger son & I decided that it was time to snorkel. South Shore Park is a phenomenally picturesque 2-mile stretch encompassing 12 of Bermuda's finest pink sand beaches and bays, of which Horseshoe Bay is included. After lunch, the boys & I walked along the water's edge route through the beach accesses, hiked around and over the craggy rocks (and the boys sometimes climbed up them), and generally made our way sightseeing through the bays and inlets as far as (I guess) about Chaplin Bay. Even though I'd done this twice before, I could never tire of this scenery, and of course, I took photos all the way. I even took a photo of my two sons posed in front of the same craggy rocks that my brother & I had posed in front of almost 30-yrars earlier! Snorkeling Horseshoe Bay / South Shore Park [Day 4]. We snorkeled on two separate occasions today, once in the morning for about an hour, and once in the afternoon, in/out of the water 3 or 4 times, and totaling maybe 1 1/2 hours. In the morning, we explored the western side of Horseshoe Bay, starting from the area adjacent to Port Royal Cove and arcing out all along the rocky fringe, passed the rock isles and rubble and the stonehole formation, and all the way out to the large mushroom-shaped rock at the outermost extent of the bay. Our afternoon snorkeling session took us through the South Shore Park outcroppings in/around Peel Rock Cove, and then around the small rock and reef formations offshore of Butts, Middle, and Wafer Rocks Beaches. Fish Seen While Snorkeling. It was a bright & sunny day, so visibility to the eye was good, however, the sea was rough, and constant wave action continuously stirred up bits of sand and sediment, so the underwater photos were less clear than I would have liked. We did see the largest parrotfish that I have ever spotted in the Atlantic/Caribbean, a Rainbow Parrotfish, one rivaling in size to any that I had seen in Hawaii. OK, the list: * Parrotfish: Rainbow Parrotfish. This was the impressively big fish that we saw today, 3 ft at least! Blue Parrotfish, we saw a 2 ft one. Stoplight Parrotfish. Saw several in the 18-20 inch range. Yellowtail Parrotfish. Yellowtail Parrotfish - Initial. Striped & Princess Parrotfish juveniles. Identical looking. * Grunts: White Grunt and Bluestripe Grunt. * Snappers: Bluestripe Snapper and Yellowtail Snapper. * Tiger Grouper. * Sergeant Major (damselfish). * Surgeonfish / Tangs: Ocean Surgeonfish, Blue Tang (several in the dark lavender color), Yellowtail Tang (2nd phase immature Blue Tang). * Blue Head (and other wrasses). * Silver Chub / Bermuda Chub. * Cleaning Goby. Sail & Snorkel Excursions. For the second and third days spent on Bermuda, [Days 5 & 6 of the cruise], we had pre-booked excursions months ahead of time. The first was to be an in-shore experience (possibly the same or similar excursion as one that D & I had enjoyed tremendously in 2004), and the second was to be an offshore, fringe reef, open snorkeling experience. Both were extremely enjoyable, but neither one worked out exactly as we had envisioned. Both excursions wound up sailing to the same spot, Hawkins Island, albeit by different tactics and different routes. I'm going to sort-of present them together here, highlighting the similarities and differences, and then talk about the two days snorkeling in/around Hawkins Island in a combined delivery. Sailboats. Both Rising Son (Restless Native) and Aristocat were sailing Catamarans (Cats), vessels with two thin, parallel hulls, with a large structural interior cabin that spans between them. Hawkins Island, with an area of 5 acres, is the westernmost of the large islands in a grouping of dozens of islands stretching in an arc across Great Sound from the Salt Kettle peninsula. It is located in nearly the center of the sound. It was originally named Elizabeth's and then Tatem Island, but was renamed Hawkins after the Royal Navy bought it in 1809 to use as a prison island. It is now privately owned, with no ferry service and no public access. Restless Native Catamaran Cruise & Snorkel [Day 5, 1pm]. 3 1/2 hours, $89. Boat name "Rising Son" "The fun begins the moment you step aboard this spacious and comfortable catamaran. Sail to a secluded and picturesque cove where you can snorkel in shallow water, sunbathe in the roomy hammocks aboard the boat, or just relax in the comfort of the interior cabin with its full amenities. You'll even be entertained with stories about Bermuda's history, culture and geology and learn more about the underwater world." While queuing up on the wharf, I found out from the excursion coordinator that the Beez family, who had taken us on the 2004 excursion, had since sold the boat. She then introduced me to the new owner/captain. He told me that we would not be going to Spanish Point today because the wind direction would not permit it. We would be sailing to an equally pristine location called Hawkins Island. The crew consisted of Nigel the captain (or "Stretch" as his Dad called him), his father "Pops" the rather amusing narrator, and the cookie baker / sail handler Tom. Pops was very personable, and gave us a lot of Bermudian stories and information, delivered in a light and comic fashion, flipped through some photos of fish we might be seeing, and then we had cookies. Rising Son was as an in-shore, sailing, pink catamaran, 50 ft long x 21 ft wide, and had a 60 ft mast. The forward deck of the vessel, in front of the cabin, was made of two large canvas trampolines strung between the twin hulls and the center structure. The three of us, D, younger son & I claimed spots on the trampoline, but older son preferred to ride inside the cabin. Hanging out on the trampoline during the sailing, watching the water rush under you, made this an ideal spot for the cruise. I counted 18 guests aboard. Each of the two Cat hulls was approximately 2 1/2 ft wide, and the aft ends were fitted with a 50 hP outboard motor each. This Cat was designed primarily for sailing, with the motors for short periods of assistance. Snorkelers entered the water using a unique set of stairs that was lowered from the forward center structure, right into the water, so the bottom step was close to the sandy bottom. You simply walked right off the boat and into the beautiful water. BTW: This was the same Cat that we had been on for the 2004 excursion. There is also now a Rising Son II catamaran operating in Bermuda, but she's a larger Offshore Cat, 60ft x 30ft. Rising Son left/returned King's Wharf directly through the ferry outlet, and almost immediately hoisted both the mainsail and jib. On Rising Son, the sails were hoisted manually, with hand-operated winches. We then sailed roughly south across Great Sound, and as we swung to the west we passed close by both Two Rock Pass and then Long Island. Still under sail, we cut in between Kappa Rock and Hawkins Island, and then around the southern end of Hawkins Island inside of Alpha Island. Once past Alpha, we dropped the sails, motored into Hawkins Cove, and anchored. After snorkeling, we motored out of the cove, hoisted the sails, and set out to the west from the island, around Lambda Rock and Pearl Island, and then north across Great Sound. We sailed up to the southern side of Ireland Island South, dropped the sails, and slowly motored along the Ireland Islands on the lookout for sea turtles. We spent about 15-minutes slowly making our way towards King's Wharf, during which time we had more than a dozen sightings of sea turtles. Catamaran Coral Reef Snorkel [Day 6, 9:30am]. 3 hours, $69. Boat name "Aristocat" I'll provide the excursion text only to explain what should have been, but as I stated, this excursion did not end up going offshore. "Relax on deck and enjoy complimentary soft drinks while our crew provides an informative commentary on the island and the fascinating undersea ecosystem. After a leisurely cruise you'll find yourself moored in a magical deep blue oasis, the northernmost coral reef in the world, where you're bordered by fringe reef on all sides. Immerse yourself in crystal-clear waters and explore the pristine reef. Following snorkeling, we'll hoist the sails and enjoy a relaxing sail home." Even though we had a good time on this excursion, I would have to say that in my mind this constituted the greatest disappointment of the whole cruise. Younger son & I had really been looking forward to the open water snorkel out on the ring reef, and to add insult to injury, we went back to nearly the same spot as we had been to the previous day. Again, a three-person crew, the Captain and a female narrator/instructor (never got their names), and a young male sail handler named Mario (native of St Thomas, USVI). They were not nearly as personable as Rising Son's crew, and the narration was sort of dry. Aristocat was designed as a large, heavy-duty, off-shore, motor-sailing catamaran, painted white, significantly larger overall, 55 ft long x 30 ft wide, with a 65 ft mast (with a longer boom so it supported a larger mainsail). The foredeck was a hard structure, over which were thrown 20 or so soft foam sun mats. D and older son rode inside the large cabin on the way out/back (the interior salon as they called it, large enough to have a walk-around center bar and fully-equipped galley). Younger son & I, having missed out on the opportunity to claim a sun mat, basically either stood along the outboard deck railings or sat atop the cabin roof. The Aristocat, being larger, was floating on twin hulls that were by my estimate at least 4 ft wide. No outboards this time, this boat had inboard diesel engines housed in each hull, driving roughly 18-inch diameter propellers (we looked at them when we were snorkeling). Entrance to the water was out and over the aft end of either hull, using a set of steps formed right into the hull itself. The lowest step ended just about at the waterline, so you had to drop into the water. I forgot to count, but there were probably around 25 guests aboard. Aristocrat left/returned King's Wharf through the South Basin and out the small opening in the sea wall, motored for a while, then hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the Genoa. On Aristocat, the mainsail and the Genoa were deployed automatically, with a hidden electronic winches. We sailed somewhat along the Ireland Islands, but then straight for Hawkins Island. We came in exactly as before, past Kappa Rock and Alpha Island, and again anchored in Hawkins Cove. After snorkeling, we exited around Hawkins exactly as we entered, under power, and once past Kappa Rock made a bee-line straight for Kings Wharf. They did hoist the sails sometime during this trip back, but they were luffing the entire time, so we were strictly motoring. Two Days / One Island / Two Different Snorkeling Spots. Each snorkel session lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Younger son & I would stay out in the water until they'd blow the horn at us, and we were always the last ones back on the boat. On the second boat, Aristocat, we asked the captain how long we were to snorkel, and if they'd blow a horn. He said that we had about 1 1/2 hours, but everyone always returned before that, so they rarely used the horn. The first minute in the water, he asked me "We're not returning 'till they blow the horn, are we?" I answered "No way!" Why anyone would cut their snorkeling short is a mystery to me. Could they be that desperate to start downing Rum Swizzles? Hawkins Cove [Rising Son, 1st Snorkel Excursion]. The northwestern side of Hawkins Island forms a large semi-circular cove named appropriately, Hawkins Cove. It is bounded on the north by the northwest point (I'll call it Hawkins Point) of the island, which juts out predominantly into Great Sound, pointing somewhat towards Alpha Island. On our first day snorkeling at Hawkins Island, the crew of Rising Son asked that we snorkel within the bounds of Hawkins Cove (remember, this was to be an in-shore snorkel). The Cove supported a lot of sea grass, some bunches of oval soft corals, a lot of large schools of small fish, and an abundance of silver porgies. The northern edge of the cove was the best area. Younger son & I did wrap around the point for the last 15 minutes, saw the lower-most area of the reef, some larger examples of fish seen in the cove, and a number of parrotfish not seen in the cove. Hawkins / Lambda Island [Aristocat, 2nd Snorkel Excursion]. The second time, knowing that there was a nice reef north of where we snorkeled yesterday, younger son & I swam straight for Hawkins Point. We spent nearly the entire time snorkeling in the triangular-shaped 'Reef', north of the point, bounded by Lambda Island and Lambda Rock. This was a much more rewarding spot, deeper, and with a much more established coral reef. In actuality, the whole time that I was snorkeling, I didn't realize that Lambda Island was separate from Hawkins Island. I found out later when I downloaded a map. It was a little more obvious to see that Lambda Rock was separated (which I named because I couldn't actually find any reference to it). We saw a very large number of parrotfish, snappers and grunts, and a more than a dozen new fish that I hadn't before seen in the Atlantic / Caribbean. We even saw a big lobster. Fish Seen. * Silver Porgy. The most abundant fish on both reefs. Saucereye Porgy. * Grunts: French, Bluestripe, we saw uncountable numbers of these two; Caesar, Smallmouth, Sailors Choice (sailors grunt), saw these to a lesser extent, but still plentiful. * Snappers: Schoolmaster and Bluestripe , again, many, many of these two. * Parrotfish: Nowhere in the Atlantic / Caribbean do I think that I've ever seen this many different parrotfish varieties all in one place (listed largest-to-smallest). Blue Parrotfish, Blue Parrotfish - Initial, Queen Parrotfish, Queen Parrotfish - Initial, Redband Parrotfish, Redband Parrotfish - Initial, Redtail Parrotfish, Yellowtail Parrotfish, Yellowtail Parrotfish - Initial, Princess Parrotfish, Striped Parrotfish, Striped Parrotfish & Princess Parrotfish juveniles, identical looking. * Hogfish, a very big fish that I'd never seen before. Spotfin Hogfish, another I hadn't seen. * Butterflyfish: Four Eye Butterflyfish, which D was the first to spot, and Spotfin Butterflyfish, saw only one. * Sergeant Major * Ocean Surgeonfish * Silver & Bermuda Chubs * Slippery Dick and Slippery Dick Juvenile, a name always good for a laugh. * Squirrelfish & Longspine Squirrelfish * Barred Hamlet * Rock Hind Grouper * Sea Bream * Gray Triggerfish * Whitespot Filefish * Scrawled Cowfish * Remora. Usually found attached to sharks or sea turtles. I didn't know that they got as big as the free-swimming pair we saw here, at least 3 ft long, and they swam circles around us for a good 3-4 minutes. I told my younger son to kick them if they got too near. * Ballyhoo, saw these in the water around the boat when the crew through some crackers overboard. * Caribbean Spiny Lobster, judging by the antennae, which are equal to the body size, this one was about 12-14 inches. * Sea Cucumbers: Black Sea Cucumber, Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber (a competitor for the best name), Golden Sea Cucumber. Ending the Excursions. Of course, both of these sail & snorkel excursions included complimentary Rum Swizzles on the way back to King's Wharf. D got the party recipe from the crew on the Aristocat. Bermuda Rum Swizzle: 1/2 of a 2-liter bottle of Bermuda Black Seal Rum, 1 can pineapple juice, 1 can orange juice, 7 splashes of Grenadine. Ship & Port Review Port of New York, Boarding/Embarkation & Departure Manhattan Cruise Ship Terminal is located between 48th and 54th Streets off 12th Ave, on the west side of Manhattan. We had stayed in our customary Fairfield Inn in NJ the previous night, so it was only about a 30-minute drive with no traffic on a Sunday morning. We drove up 12th Ave to 55th Street where there was a left-hand side exit / U-Turn that leads you up a ramp to the drop off / loading area of the terminal complex. After what seemed like an eternity (10 minutes) staring up at the beautiful NCL Dawn and NCL Spirit, while waiting to make the final U-turn off 12 Ave, I finally dropped off D, sons, and all of the luggage to be checked. Then up I drove to the rooftop, where they now REALLY fleece you for the privilege of the parking convenience $30/day $210 for the 7 night cruise! . Embarking: I was back down to get in line for early check-in by exactly 11am. But NO! We were stopped by an exceedingly rude terminal employee who kept insisting that we sit on the metal chairs and wait because the early check-in was closed (even though we could see a good 20-or-so passengers still in line), and because the Latitudes Lounge was also closed (despite our protests that we were Latitudes members and that we saw plenty of people up there already). No explanation from him, just some illegible grumbling. After a few minutes D did get an explanation from a much more helpful terminal employee. NCL cuts off the early check-in line at 11am (take note of this CC members), and the Latitudes Lounge had been reserved for a wedding party (more on that later). However, by 11:50 our row was called, and through the metal detectors and X-rays we went. Into the special queue for Latitudes members, where there was absolutely no line, quickly processed, photos, and we were 'swiped' aboard for the first time by a few ticks after noon. Bubbly Welcome. A nice cold glass of champagne was handed to us as we crossed through the door to the Atrium. D said it was pretty tasty bubbly too. I tried to get my older son to take some, but he opted for the orange juice that was offered. I told him Lesson #1 of cruising - never pass up free booze! New York Harbor. Departure [5:15pm]. Ships in Port. Our ship, the Norwegian Dawn was docked at Pier 92, the Norwegian Spirit, which we've been on twice previously, was docked at Pier 88. The NCL Spirit left Pier 88 exactly at 5pm, and we pulled away shortly thereafter. The cruise pier is located on the western side of Manhattan, on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. We were guided out into the center of the river by Tugboats, and then sailed south to the end of the Hudson River into Upper New York Bay where we followed the shipping channel, passed through The Narrows, the Lower Bay, the Raritan Bay, and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean. Highlights Along the Route. Leaving Manhattan Pier, you see a lot of highlights along the Hudson River and Upper Bay. Empire State Building, Castle Point, Hoboken, Governor's Island, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Norwegian Dawn - Ship Review. CruiseCritic: DAWN is the second ship of the Superstar Class, the second class in the NCL fleet to be designed specifically for the line's Freestyle Cruising concept. SHIP FACTS - Norwegian Dawn; Ship classification - Large passenger; Ship length 972 feet; Tonnage 94,000; Year entered service 2002; Decks 14; Total cabins 1112; Passenger capacity 2224 (2/cabin); Total crew 1318; Passenger to Crew 2 to 1; Speed 22 knots; Sister Ships - NCL Superstar Class (Star, Jewel, Pearl, Gem, Pride of Hawaii) Our Opinions. At the time of this cruise, this was the largest ship that D & I had been on. The length became obvious the first night, as we walked from our cabin (all the way forward) to the Venetian Dining Room (all the way aft). This is by no means a complaint, because I loved all of the extra room aboard. D seemed to think that it was just a little bit too large, preferring the size of her still favorite NCL Spirit. I'll give my quick review in bullet form. The Good * "Bubbly Welcome" - a welcome aboard glass of champagne that's part of the new "Freestyle 2.0" movement. Nice touch. * Oasis Pool Terrace. Nice feature. With the vast number of sunning lounges available on the terrace and sun deck, there was ample room for all around the pool. We were always able to find a table, if not always in the shade. * Art on Board. Impressive. I am by no means even an amateur art enthusiast, but I felt something strong and alluring about standing in the presence of the master works displayed in Le Bistro. I also liked the Warhol painting of Marylyn Monroe. * Comedian (Peter Sasso) and Magician (Greg Gleason). Both were excellent. * Staggering number of restaurants/eateries (I count 14) to choose from. * Venetian Dining Room. Elegant. Now that's what a dining at sea should look like. I could only imagine the true perfection of this room if it were to have the 2-deck Palladian windows from the NCL Spirit. * Impressions of Italy. Very good quality Italian fare - and that's coming from 100% Italians. Nice paintings too. * Salsa (no fee boutique) Restaurant. Nice setting and a very nice dinner menu. * Three story Stardust Theater. As elaborate, and bigger, than anything on Broadway. The Bad and the Ugly * Availability/selection of alcohol was poor. Booze does not make/break our cruise, but . . . No draft beer was available at any of the bars (with taps). I kept getting the excuse that 'something' was wrong with the draft beer delivery system. What? Did every damn draft system on the ship experience a failure during this cruise? We were on a cruise to Bermuda, and there was no ginger beer available in order to mix Dark & Stormy(s) - the "National Drink" of Bermuda. * Impressions of Italy. Made both lists. Here because take note there is now a $10 surcharge. * What happened to the competitions? Once for ping-pong and once for shuffleboard (then we gave up), my son and I showed up for scheduled competitions, only to have no NCL staff member show up to organize the event. Cruise Director & Staff: CD Pedro Serra (Portugal), hosted many shows and participated in a few more; Assistant CD Kristine Celis (Philippines), hostess of a few game shows; Sydney (St Lucia), hosted most of the trivia games, filling out Maddy Maneu (Romania), and Jacinto Aure, Henry Vgalino, Alvin Salvo, and John Arainas (all from Philippines). I don't really think that they were all that good, not nearly as open and friendly as past staffs we've experienced. I'm forming the opinion now, that CD staffs on older, smaller, less glamorous cruise ships tend to try a lot harder at pleasing the passengers, possibly to make up for the perceived sub-par ship. Principle Crew Members: Captain Trygve Vorren (Norway); Executive Officer Karl Bengtesson (Sweedon); Chief Engineer Per Akerstorm (Sweedon). Entertainment & Activities Aboard Oasis Pool Area is the main pool area, featuring the main Oasis Pool, an enormous Oasis Jacuzzi (that could fit at least 10-15 people on the sitting platforms near the jets and another equal amount standing in the center), plus 4 Hot Tubs (2 shaded and 2 open). Oasis Terrace has chaise lounges set up in an amphitheater arrangement, and there were tables set up amongst them so you can eat as well as sunbathe and overlook the pool activities. Along the deck around the pool, there were many shaded tables and chairs, and counting the terrace, there were more lounge chairs than I've ever seen before. As always, there was a Bandstand for entertainment. The bandstand sat on a raised platform between the Oasis Pool and the Jacuzzi - with no dance floor space anywhere around it. * Upryzin' was the name of the ship's 'Party Band'. From Jamaica, a female lead singer, drums, keyboard, and one guitarist. Only the female sang. Again, lots of Bob Marley covers (they were from Jamaica after all), but they also did a lot of pop songs. The music was good, and enjoyable, but the band really didn't have much in the way of inspiring presentation. * Sailaway Party from New York [5pm, Day 1], Sailaway Party from Bermuda [5pm, Day 6]. These were both pretty low key affairs, the party band was playing, the waiters were hocking the 'drink of the day", but not much else going on to identify these as parties. We've experience much better ones. * Ice Carving Demo [afternoon, Day 5]. The carver was given 10 minutes to perform his feat. The audience was asked to try to figure out what he was carving. Older son guessed that it was an eagle (I cheated, because I'd seen so many of these before), and I guessed a swan, which is what it turned out to be. Sunning Area, on either side above the pool (which actually continued forward wrapping 3/4 all the way around Deck 13), had decorative faux palm trees festively looking like something out Miami Beach. There were many additional lounge chairs and even additional tables & chairs. All the way forward on the Sun Deck was a less crowded Hot Tub that hardly ever had anyone in it. As I stated earlier, with the vast number of sunning lounges available around the pool, terrace, and sun deck, there was ample room for all. While we couldn't always find a table in the shade, were always at least able to find a table. We spent most of the afternoons of the at-sea days around the pool, entering/exiting the main pool and the Jacuzzi. Not really at all during the day, but during several evenings, we spent some time in the hot tubs (both boys said that they were too hot to sit in during the day). Topsiders (Pool) Bar was a full bar that formed a large arc spanning entirely across the boat, in close proximity to ample eye candy from the pool, sunning areas, and hot tubs. The drinks were teeny-tiny from here and the beer taps weren't functioning. They did, however, serve 16oz domestic beer bottles (I had Miller Genuine Draft) for the same price as 12oz imported beers. Nestled in between the two arc of the bar was . . . Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar, tucked between the two sides of Topsiders Bar, right at poolside. It offered free ice cream cones in three flavors, generally chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but a few times they brought out other flavors like butter pecan and once I saw chocolate chip. Younger son made good use of this service. Stardust Theater, which spans THREE decks, 1,150-seat theater, designed to resemble a European opera house. It was wide open on the lower level, with no obstructions from the balcony level that wrapped all the way from stage-left to stage-right, so all of the sightlines appeared to be very good. Vegas-style shows and musicals were shown nightly. The chairs were very comfortable too, except for the fact that the rows were tightly spaced, leaving little leg room (and I fit comfortable in planes, so this was really tight), but more bothersome, there was no easy way to get by all of the super-early squatters that usually too the seats at the end of the rows. To me, if I came that early, I'd claim center seats. For the big shows, we tended to get there at least 20-minutes early, and we never failed to get about the 10th or so row, right in the center, perfect seats as far as we were concerned. * Welcome Aboard Show [9pm, Day 1]. Peter Sasso headlined, more on that in a minute. First, there were short performances: "Keyboard Melodies" pianist Mike Stone, who played a couple of quick diddies on the piano - convincing us that we weren't going to see his shows (he mostly played the small stage between Gatsby's Champagne Bar and the Wine Cellar). Next "music from the heart" singer Marcus Dagan sang the Niel Diamond tune "Sweet Caroline" (D liked him). Then "Acoustic Folk Rock" Pilipino guitarist Angel Magaso sang the John Denver song "Rocky Mountain High" - which sounded a little funny with a Hispanic accent. Last was a short dance scene performed by the Jean Ann Ryan Company - lots of fast leg kicking, cane spinning, hat flipping, a whole stage of action, all to the music provided by the Dawn Showband. * Peter Sasso. He started off with a lengthy, hilariously funny stand-up comedy. Side-splitting funny stuff. Then he began his funny juggling routine. Sasso asked for volunteers from the audience and my older son jumped up. I told my wife, who was sitting next to me, to tell him not to volunteer for this guy. We'd seen his show before, they have always been very funny, and he has always embarrassed the hell out of his volunteers. He picked my son and a drunk, country hick-looking guy. As my son walked up on stage, Sasso said he looked like Harry Potter on Crack. The other guy he called Gomer Pyle on Ludes. Through a funny rendition of participation juggling, Sasso plays each of them as the fool. In the end, he let Gomer Pyle go, and kept older son on stage for a finale of (supposedly) flicking a cigarette out of his mouth with a bowling pin that he was juggling. * Gleason's Magic [9:30pm, Day 2]. A few quick magician's tricks, and then he did several stage illusions using his wife and two of the female dancers from the Jean Ann Ryan Company. Sticking blades through a woman in a box, sawing a woman in half, and then a very good one, placing a woman in a tall box, which he rolled up" from the top down and the bottom up - so that her head and her feet were only a foot apart - and then unrolled her. It was a very amusing show. * Band on the Run [9:30, Day 3]. A Vegas-styled stage show with lots of beautiful women in a whole slew of fancy costumes (yes, there were a few men thrown in there), lots of dancing, lots of scene changes, all to a background of 70(s) and 80(s) popular tunes. The dancers were definitely a cut above previous ones we've seen, the singing voices were about average. But I would say that this shoe did hold my interest, far less monotony than these types of shows in the past. * Bollywood [9:30, Day 6]. Billed as an even bigger better production, but honestly, I didn't like it as much. Far East, Egyptian, Middle East, I couldn't get a handle on what was trying to be conveyed in the show. * Farewell Variety Show [9:30, Day 7]. Sasso Comedy & Gleason Magic, a half-hour each, both were entertaining, but the shorter format shows were not as good as either's full-length shows. Sasso did a number of jokes about marriage/life that seemed familiar, similar to ones we must have heard before in one of his shows. Dawn Club Casino, located along the corridor and across the deck, offered the typical assortment of slot machines, Roulette (one 'live' table and two digital roulette tables), Blackjack, Craps, Let It Ride, and Caribbean Stud Poker. The casino also maintained a Spin the Wheel and a Blackjack table out on the Oasis Pool Deck. Dawn Club Bar full service to casino goers without their needing to leave the tables. Spinnaker Lounge had large, panoramic, horizontal windows facing the bow, a beautiful-looking place to either see a variety of shows, or a good place where I could while-away the early morning hours reading or watching the ship's progress looking out over the bow. * Dance Lesson: Cha-Cha [1pm, Day 2]. Older son attended. He said that it was embarrassing to go up so he stayed in the seats and watched-and-learned. * Laugh Till You Drop [3:15, Day 2]. Peter Sasso, in his Welcome Aboard Show, promised to deliver 200 jokes in 45-minutes during this show. A lot of very quick jokes, a good number of quick laughs, but overall not as funny as his first stage show. * Newlywed / Not-So-Newlywed Game Show [8:45pm, Day 2]. Always a classically-funny show aboard. The newlyweds from the New York Terminal Latitudes Lounge were one of the contestant pairs, but no senile-old couple, just a few married from 10 to 28 years. Some of the standard questions were asked of the ladies first: "Strangest place having made love", "My husband has a big ________", "My husband loves me because of my ________", and "What cartoon character best describes your husband on your wedding night". We only stayed for the first half, because we wanted to see the Gleason Magic Show. These two shows were poorly timed. * What's My Line Game Show [2pm, Day 3]. Panel of Pedro Serra (CD), Peter Sasso, Greg Gleason, and the young woman from the Second City Troupe. This was a game show where the panelists tried to guess the occupation of several passenger contestants (1) Electric Lineman/Splicer, (2) Bounty Hunter Agency owner, and (3) Dairy Farm Tour Guide. Both Pedro and Peter were very funny. Peter kept saying things like "We can rule out door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, correct? I ask because I used to be one . . ." Then he would go into a funny joke-story. * Memory Seminar [2:45, Day 3]. Hosted by Greg Gleason, introductions to a few visual-oriented memory techniques, where you would associate either page numbers with contents on the page, or people's names with physical features, all by visualizing some picture in your mind (usually with some word-rhyming connection also). Interesting, but not entirely useful, for ma anyway. * Late Night Comedy - Adults Only [11:30pm, Day 4]. Peter Sasso with an adults-only show. It was hilarious. My younger son says that it was probably the funniest show of them all. * Liar's club [10:45, Day 5]. Same four panelists Pedro Serra, Peter Sasso, Greg Gleason, and Second City woman. This show, a very strange word was selected - 4 words that I'd never heard of - and three of the four panelists would "lie" about its definition, using funny explanations, while one would actually be telling the truth. The audience, split into 8 groups, was then polled to try to come up with which panelist was telling the truth. * The Quest - Adult Game Show [11:45, Day 5]. A faux scavenger hunt within the lounge. Teams were first asked to find mundane things, and then more-and-more personal objects like bras and panties (which the women contestants had to strip out of), then perform funny acts on the stage like inch worms, or women riding their 'donkey' men, and for the finale, a man and a woman had to switch clothes (while the stage lights were turned off). Entertaining. * Ballroom Dancing Lesson: Samba [2pm, Day 7]. Older son again attended. Just watched from the seat again, but had a good time anyway. * Disembarkation Talk [11:30am, Day 7]. Pedro Serra explained Customs forms requirements, liquor and purchases limits, He gave a few facts/figures about the current cruise: There was 96% occupancy, (that's ~2150 passengers using the 2224 stated capacity); 1100 crew (60 nationalities); and 1500 lbs of chocolate was consumed in the Chocoholic buffet (that's 0.7 lbs of chocolate/person - someone at more than their share, 'cause none of us ate 0.7 lbs) Pearly Kings Pub was styled as an English pub, dark, rich wooden tables & chairs, a number of artworks depicting English scenes (including a portrait of Queen Elizabeth) a dart board, and two large flat-screen TVs on either side of the bar. Two observations: I had read beforehand, on CruiseCritic, that this bar was supposed to carry a number of offbeat British beers on draft. I had no such luck - no draft available. In addition, I had also been mislead to believe that this bar functioned as the ship's sport bar, since it had the large-screen TVs. Boulderdash! One of the TVs was never turned on. On the second TV was connected a Nintendo Wii game machine, which was set up for free open play. Now, the only type of games that I saw being played were sports (baseball, boxing, tennis) - does that qualify it as the sports bar? * Nintendo Wii Tournaments: Tennis [2pm, Day 2]. Older Son played. He reached the finals but lost to young girl. Boxing [10:30pm, Day 2]. Both sons played. I watched the second half of this one. Older son was already eliminated. Younger one fought through 3 more rounds while I watched, and he eventually took 2nd place. The girl who won was around 15 years old, and had a much different technique of duck-and-covers followed by furiously boxing. Bowling [1:30pm, Day 6]. The tournament was conducted with partners, each alternated frames. Older son partnered with a 13-14 year old girl. They took second place, with a score of 212, the winners had a 222. * Morning & Afternoon Trivia(s). Trivia sessions were run every day at 9:30am (Morning) and 5:30pm (Afternoon). We only made a few of these (didn't win any), as the morning ones were held just about the time when D & sons were getting up, and during the afternoon ones we always seemed to be doing something else. Well, here's the ones we made: [Afternoon, Day 2], Gold & Gemstones theme, scored 9/20. [Afternoon, Day 3]; Fun Facts theme, scored 13/20. [Morning, Day 7], World Geography theme, scored 11/20. [Afternoon, Day 7], Fun Facts theme, scored 11/20. Movie Cinema was a small movie-house styled theater (145-guest capacity according to NCL) that played the latest video-released movies. This was a nice touch on the ship, however, three complaints. The movie projector was of a very poor quality (on a multi-million dollar ship there's no excuse for that). The screen was square, completely the wrong aspect ratio to display movies, and better suited for overhead projector presentations. The movie schedule didn't follow that in the daily planner nor the one posted outside the cinema. * Movies. During the course of the cruise, we stopped in and saw a few movies. "Narnia - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", "Blades of Glory", "Flushed Away" and watched portions of "P.S. I Love You", "Pursuit of Happiness" and "I am Legend" . * Destino [11:15am, Day 7]. This was a very unique short-format movie, a collaborative work of Walt Disney and Salvadore Dali. Production was halted by WWII, and it was never finished in the lifetimes of either of these two. In 1999, Walt Disney's nephew Roy Edward Disney unearthed it, and decided to complete it, 58 years after its original intended release. As I saw it, the story followed a female as she danced through many versions of surreal scenery that had to be inspired by Dalí. There were a couple of words spoken, but mostly it was set to music. Wikipedia: The six-minute short follows the love story of Chronos (the Titan who is the father of Zeus) and the ill-fated love he has for a mortal female. The sound track features a song by the Mexican composer, Armando Dominguez. * History of Ocean Travel [2pm, Day 7]. NCL "U" presentation. Was not as informative or as interesting as it could have been. Done as a PowerPoint presentation, he covered some late 1800s cruise ships, showing old photos and giving some basic facts about ship size and speed, then to the "great liners" of the 1920-30s (and the numerous disasters), and then jumped all the way to Y2K ships and beyond. I guess no one cruised between 1930-2000? The delivery was pretty dry too. * Close-Up Magic Show [5pm, Day 7]. Greg Gleason with nothing but a small table and a pack of cards (well, he only showed us one pack of cards, but I suspect that there were more). He pulled me out of the audience to sit right next to him throughout most of the show. I tried as hard as I could to discern how he was pulling off the tricks, but I couldn't tell. Then he staked me with $500 to play him five hands of poker. Using only 10 cards, and no matter how I shuffled and selected cards, he always beat me. Somehow the 10 cards kept changing values, but I couldn't catch him switching them out. This was the second of such shows that we've seen aboard cruise ships, and they are one of the most entertaining shows of all. Dazzles Lounge. Strange décor with alternating red and blue plush chairs, sofas, tables and lamps, in a room almost exclusively painted gold. This was the ship's 'high tech' modern dance lounge - considered to be the ship's 'post-teen' nightclub/disco. It mainly functioned as the ship's Karaoke Bar. * I/we passed this lounge often, as it was located all the way forward on Deck 7, the deck that we most frequently used for traversing fore-and-aft in the ship, and it was located right at the forward elevators/stairs that provided the easiest access to our staterooms. Most of the afternoon long, it was a venue for live music, either easy listening music performed by Jose & Patti (husband & wife duo), or light Country & Western performed by Angel Magaso (Pilipino "Acoustic Folk Rock" guitarist). After dinner, until fairly late in the evening, it functioned as a Karaoke Bar. And believe me, I heard some pretty-bad performances as I walked by a number of times. Well, I did see one good performance, a young girl singing "I will survive". For late night, the DJ and modern dance music came out, and Dazzles became the ship's nightclub/disco. * This was the 'club' where my older son tended to hang out with his shipboard friends. Teen Club, disco-styled, but with no booze. It was small, but did have an air-hockey table and a foozball table that we all played on Day 1. The rear section of the Teen Club was a Video Arcade with a number of machines. These were coin-operated, and I couldn't quite figure out why anyone would pay to play when there was always the Nintendo Wii set up for free open play in the Pearly Kings Pub. This was, however, the quickest point of entry from the aft end of the Sun Deck. Grand Atrium, was very showy, but kind-of oddly designed in my opinion. The half with all of the Passenger-Service Counters (shore excursions, reception), was two deck high, further aft it became two and then three decks high where the Salsa Restaurant was located, and as you walked still further aft, the 'pocket' bank of three glass exterior elevators stretched five decks high. At the lowest level, beneath Salsa and at the base of the elevators, was the Java Café - for a surcharge - serving pastries, cookies, and specialty coffees. Wrapping around the Java Café was a grand staircase that gave access to the two decks above. At the center level of the staircase was what I'll call the Atrium Stage. * Quarter Notes, was the band that played daily on the Atrium Stage, and filled the Atrium and Salsa Restaurant with enjoyable easy listening / pop music. They consisted of a female lead singer and a 4-person band behind her (guitar, keyboard, drums, big cello or whatever the cello-like instrument is that you play by hand without a bow). All of the members were of Asian decent. Shopping Galleria. Unlike some ships where the shopping is supposed to represent a mall, this Galleria was laid out like a single, large department store, but of course, with duty-free shopping. There were areas for clothing, jewelry, alcohol, sundries, souvenirs, NCL logo items, etc. Ports of Call shop was located near the Atrium, and it carried cosmetics and perfumes, and a T-Shirt sale near the end of the cruise. Promenade was the Deck 7 wrap-around, wooden-decked, strolling and leisurely activity area. Lots of brightly-colored murals of people out on the town adorned the walls as you circled the ship. There were three shuffleboard courts and two man-sized chess boards, along with a number of cloth and wooden lounge chairs and sitting chairs, and the outdoor picnic table eating area of the Blue Lagoon 24/7 café. * We strolled around up here on several occasions. D especially liked looking over the stern at the trailing waves from here, and our younger son liked pretending to jump or throw his mother overboard from this level. Me, I just enjoyed the breeze. * Younger son & I played several games of shuffleboard during the cruise. These were marathon affairs (and we only played to 50 points), because we are both way better at knocking our opponents off their point squares than in scoring points ourselves. We let D play a game or two also. * Ping Pong Tournament [1:30pm, Day 3] and Shuffleboard Tournament [4pm, Day 3]. Younger son & I went to both of these, but, no-show from the CD staff to direct the competitions. Both times, we stayed and played anyway, ping-pong versus a few other passengers, and shuffleboard against one another. The no-show ping-pong was really a disappointment because he & I had enjoyed immensely playing in these tournaments on the previous cruise. Older son showed up for a Basketball Tournament, but like our experience, no staff member showed up to run it. Bimini Bar & Grill, sort-of overlooking the pool, but from a very high perch at the top of the Oasis Terrace, way up on Deck 14. NCL states "wonderful tropical frozen drinks and snacks in a colorful Key West-style setting". Tropical drinks, no, and nothing reminded me of Key West. It was nice and really breezy up there, but no draft beer again. As for the statement "sounds of the pool below can almost make you believe that you're on famous Bimini Beach" - well, with all that wind, I couldn't hear a thing. Didn't try the lunchtime grilled fare here. El Dorado Fitness Center is located one level above the El Dorado Spa on Deck 11. Up-to-date fitness equipment, a good number of cardio machines and some free weights too. Younger son said it was a real nice gym, but all of the dumbbells were out of order (the weights, not the passengers) and hard to find because their weights were unlabeled. Sports Court had golf driving nets and above them a netted volleyball/basketball court area. Boys said that they didn't like this area at all - too many people running around and yelling all the time - and it was hard to find because no elevator went up there, so you could only access it from outside. Art on board Dawn There are four impressionist master works on exhibit, each representing outstanding works from different periods in the artists' lives. All are displayed in Norwegian Dawn's signature Le Bistro restaurant. (The Monet is worth over $10 Million!) * Monet "Vétheuil De Soleil" (Vethueil in Sunshine) - Claude Monet (1840-1926). Sold for $10,006,320 at Christie's London, 7/9/2002. * Van Gogh "Un Parc Au Printemps" (A Park in Spring) - Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). Estimated value $6-8 Million. * Matisse "Nu Au Turban" (Nude with Turban) - Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Sold for $3,670,051 at Christie's London, 6/21/93. * Renoir "La Baigneuse" (The Bather) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Sold for $3,191,500 at Sotheby's London, 6/28/99. * In addition, Norwegian Dawn displays 20 signed and numbered Warhol silkscreen prints in two of its expansive stairwells. Dining Aboard DAWN. Dawn has 13 restaurants / dining options, with plenty of variety and the Freestyle policy means that you can pretty much eat anything at almost any time. Overall, the food was very good, although we felt that the service was a little slow in the dining rooms. There are 4 levels of dining aboard Dawn: o Casual Eateries: Garden Café (buffet); Blue Lagoon; The Grill; Bimini Grill o Main Dining Rooms: Venetian; Aqua o Boutique (no fee, reservations): Salsa o Specialty (surcharge): Impressions of Italy; Le Bistro; Cagney's; Bamboo; Teppanyaki Room; Sushi & Sake Bar Garden Cafe [Casual] is the primary buffet that served breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. B'fast featured the usual no-surprise breakfast choices (lots of fruit, omelets and eggs made to order, fresh Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, etc.), which we ate practically every morning. At lunchtime, it featured a variety of offerings, on four buffet lines, including a New York deli sandwich section. Dinner was much the same style as lunch (different offerings). * We ate pretty much every breakfast here (principally the cook-to-order stuff), and at least half of our lunches (the boys had a lot of made-to-order pasta dishes and D & I ran the gamut and tried all that they had to offer. We also had one dinner here [Day 5] after returning from our day ashore. * Chocoholics Buffet [10pm, Day 5]. We each ate or fill, which I have always noticed, is a good deal less that many of the passengers eat. My favorite offering was the chocolate covered bananas. There weren't as many food carvings as I'd seen in these events before, but they did have four large ice sculptures on display, backlit with blue lights. Blue Lagoon [Casual], open 24-hours, tucked just off the Atrium, a fast-food joint. Offerings were American standards (burgers, dogs, fries, hot wings, chicken tenders, fish-n-chips) to Asian (wonton soup, fried rice). Blue Lagoon also had nice outdoor seating on the Promenade. * We made use of the Blue Lagoon on several occasions for in-between-meals and late-night snacking. We stopped in one afternoon early in the cruise when we tried out the hot wings and chicken tenders. The wings were fried and crunchy, but as for hot - they were not. Maybe a poor 2 on a scale of 1-to-5. We stopped in on two other occasions. One evening after a late-night stroll around the Promenade, when we sat outside in the beautiful evening breeze. I tried the Wonton Soup - OK. We wanted D to try the wings. A second evening after playing a game or two of shuffelboard, they got wings again, while I got the grilled chicken sandwich. * It goes without saying that my older son liked the hot wings here. He only made three sit-down dinners with us, and every time that I asked him what he had eaten for dinner - he always responded "I had hot wings." He said that it was a great place to go to after Dazzles, and all of his friends went there for wings. The Grill [Casual]. One of the highlights of the days at sea were the daily cookouts at the ad-hock set-up grill poolside. We ate lunch from this venue, supplementing it with salads, etc from Garden Café, three or four times during the cruise. Featuring all sorts of BBQ fare cooked on huge Weber-like grills - burgers, dogs, chicken, sausage, pork chops, ribs. There is also the outdoor Bimini Bar & Grill, but we never tried it. Venetian [Main Dining Room] was the more traditional cruise-like dining room where we ate most of out sit-down dinners. It was gorgeous, decorated with huge murals depicting scenes of Venice. Because it's all the way aft, it has a huge series of panoramic windows stretching across the entire back wall and offering incredible views off the stern. You enter down a fancy staircase running on either side of a Venus deMilo statue. * We ate three dinners in the Venetian Dining Room, Day 1 Dinner, Day 3 Dinner, Day 7 Dinner. Highlights The cold soups are always a hit with D. I especially enjoyed the Roast Leg of Lamb, and the Louisiana Red Snapper. Younger son had Tortellini (3 times counting Aqua), and tried Salmon the last night - he said it was good. Aqua [Main Dining Room] was a more contemporary room with lots of aqua colored glass made to look like water flowing, and colorful ceramic murals of what I'm guessing were Asian mermaids. Definitely more surreal than impressionist, those murals were curious to me, and kept me wondering whether they were complimentary or derogatory of Asian women. * Lobster Night - Dinner Day 2. We went to the Venetian, a little after 7:30pm, and were informed that there was a 45-minute wait. I asked the hostess to call the Aqua to inquire about the wait there - None! So we hopped over to Aqua and got seated. Once again, the lobster tails were broiled, and once again they were overcooked in our opinions. I had two anyway (they were both overcooked). They should boil them. Salsa Restaurant [Boutique, reservations required, but No Fee]. Tex-Mex and Spanish-style are the fare here. According to CruiseCritic, this was the most popular and most difficult restaurant to get a reservation for. Strangely located, wrapping-around the second deck of the Atrium, but it might have one of the nicest-looking ceilings that I've ever seen afloat, stained glass and backlit. Within the center of the circular arc Salsa Restaurant is the Salsa Bar, a full service bar that offers 'proprietary recipe' home-made sangria (which we tried) and serves a constantly changing assortment of hot and cold Spanish Tapas. * Day 4 Dinner, all four of us. I tried to get reservations for Day 3, but the only opening was after 9:30pm. So, one of the first things that I did the morning of Day 4 was to set up these reservations for 7:30pm. There were great sight-lines over the side of the ship from our window table. I tried a Margarita while D had the House Sangria. Even though it should have been better, the margarita wasn't too good, so I switched to sangria, which was a little bit too fruity, but none-the-less tasty. Everyone agreed that they liked the food here. Younger son had a huge nachos platter appetizer and a large burrito (that he said was OK). I had Mexican spring rolls and Sizzlin' Chicken Fajitas. D & older son both had the Baby-Back pork ribs, which they said were pretty tasty. Impressions of Italy [Specialty Restaurant, $10/person surcharge]. Italian food is always very popular, and an additional big draw here is that it's decorated with an impressionist art collection, not the masterworks, but still some very nice paintings. Each painting was fairly large, with paintings filling the entire wall space and between the windows on all four sides of the restaurant. * Day 6 Dinner, all four of us. Again, with an early-morning reservation, we got 6:30pm. This place also pleased all of us. The boys each shared a small pizza, and each supplemented that with a pasta dish. Younger son really liked his Fettuccini Alfredo. D & I both had veal cutlet marsala as our main dishes and I got 'frute de marre" (fruits of the sea) in aburitto (angry, i.e. spicy) sauce over penne, while D had their basil pesto. Everything was very tasty - and I would have to rate my pasta dish as excellent. Le Bistro [Specialty, surcharge $15-25] - didn't eat there. One distinctive highlight of this restaurant is its collection of four Impressionist masterpieces (Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, and Monet); which I went in to see and photograph on several occasions. Return / Disembarking I was the only one awake to see our return under the Varazzano Bridge and into New York Harbor. We had made good time and were due to dock at 8am. NCL gives the passengers a number of choices for times to disembark. You can choose Express Walk-Off, which starts the earliest, but you can't utilize the luggage service and you have to carry off every one of your suitcases by yourself. After that, you can choose when you want to disembark buy picking out the associated color-coded tags. Regular disembarking started at 9am, and a different color code was called each 20-minute interval up to 11am. Knowing that last time younger son & D missed breakfast because they didn't get up in enough time, I opted for the brown tags, signifying the next-to-last disembarking time, 10:40. We had b'fast, then we dragged older son out of bead, sat for a few minutes on the benches of Deck 7, and then exited without anyone in front of us at 10:25am. Found our suitcases, found a porter, quickly went through Customs (no charge even though we were slightly over the liquor allowance), grabbed the car, loaded, and off we went by 11am. Cruise #6 Summary, Observations, and Conclusions Once again an excellent cruise, as we immensely enjoyed the flexibility of the NCL Freestyle Policy. Younger son partook of most of the onboard entertainment with us, while older son preferred to stay at the one place that some of the friends he made aboard were hanging out. We tried two specialty restaurants, the Tex-Mex "Salsa" and the Italian "Impressions", and very much enjoyed both. I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed with the Cruise Director's staff though. Excursions. One full day at Horseshoe Bay was again wonderful. The two sailing & snorkeling excursions both wound up going to nearly the same spot, even though one was to be off-shore. Younger son & I still thoroughly enjoyed the snorkeling. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Sail Date: June 29, 2008. NYC/Bermuda Background: My wife, two daughters (10 & 13) and I. My wife and I are in our mid-forties. This was our third cruise - our first two were on Princess on their Grand-class ships which hold 3000 ... Read More
Sail Date: June 29, 2008. NYC/Bermuda Background: My wife, two daughters (10 & 13) and I. My wife and I are in our mid-forties. This was our third cruise - our first two were on Princess on their Grand-class ships which hold 3000 passengers. We are low-maintenance people and don't expect people to wait on us hand-and-foot. Embarkation: We drove to NYC and parked at the pier. I made sure we came from the North because I'd read that sometimes coming from the South it can be a pain to turn into the terminal. We arrived at around 11AM, dropped our bags off with, and tipped the porters, drove to the lot where we paid $210 for seven nights upfront, had the dogs sniff our vehicle for bombs and then parked the van knowing that it would be safe and secure for our trip. We were on the ship by 12:00 and waiting for the Venetian to open at 12:30. We enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch overlooking the Hudson River waiting for our cabin to be ready, which it was around 2PM. We thought about looking around the ship but dragging all our carry-on luggage about bumping into others dragging their carry-ons about wasn't all that appealing. Disembarkation: The breakfast buffet was very crowded that morning but getting off the ship went very smoothly. We had chosen to be with the last group off scheduled for 9:45AM but they called our color at 8:45AM, a full one hour ahead of schedule. We hadn't expected them to be that early so we just stuck to our original schedule despite the repeated calls for everyone to leave the ship. By the time we left around 9:45 there were still lots of passengers milling about onboard. We claimed our baggage, put it into the van and spent most of the day in Manhattan (we got half-priced theatre tickets same day). If you are going to spend the day in NYC while leaving your vehicle at the pier, be careful - the signs on the parking lot say it is open until 6PM, some pier staff said 5PM and other staff had no idea. We returned at 4:50PM and the terminal building was totally closed up. I had to run down to 55th St. from 46th St. to run up the car ramp (parking is on the roof) and then all the way back, but not after having to climb an 8 ft. fence! Everything was chained shut and I was getting a little worried but fortunately the exit ramp was still open. Next time I would just go in through the exit, but hey, I got a workout. Cabins: We had a single cabin for four. On Princess, the two extra beds fold down from the wall but on the Dawn, only one bed was on the wall while the fourth slides out from under one of the main beds. When the cabin is turned down, most of the floor space is taken up by the three beds which makes it quite cramped. With our girls getting bigger next time we'll get two cabins. The 3rd and 4th bed mattresses were quite hard. As a pleasant surprise, the shower was much larger than expected and very nice. Other than that the cabin was pretty much typical in terms of closets, storage space, amenities, etc. Our room stewards were cordial but too busy to chat - boy do they ever work hard! My youngest loved the towel animals and chocolates on the pillows. Entertainment: This is very much a personal taste thing, but here is my take: Jean Ann Ryan Company: Band on the Run - Excellent song & dance show as long as you enjoy '70's music, My 10 yr old was bored stiff. Jean Ann Ryan Company: South Beach Rave - I didn't enjoy it. If you like Miami/Latin music you might have a different opinion. Jean Ann Ryan Company: Bollywood - This got many good reviews. It's very Cirque du Soleil-ish, I thought it was OK, my wife really enjoyed it. Second City: Loved it, very funny. A good part of the show is improv so it could be hit and miss. We had a new troupe that had only been on the ship for about four weeks so some previous negative reviews on this board may not be applicable. Dave Heenan: Comedian - not bad though most humor is for an older audience. My 10 year old missed most of the jokes. He's from NYC and much of his comedy has a local flavor but my guess is that 85-95% of the passengers were locals anyway. Greg Gleason: Excellent magician, great sleight of hand stuff. Jeffrey Allen: Great piano player and singer - a born entertainer. His Elton John tribute show was excellent for music and humor and he got the only standing ovation I've ever seen on a cruise ship, and from a tough New York crowd nonetheless. At the end of every show in the main theatre the Cruise Director would always follow the act to make some announcements. It was unbelievable how many people just rudely got up and left as he was speaking. Dining: We didn't go to any of the specialty restaurants except Salsa (no cover charge). I found the food, in general, to be quite good. I think the quality of the food has a lot to do with the particular head chef onboard because on our previous Princess cruises, one had great food while the other had mediocre food. We stuck with the main dining rooms for dinner and the buffets for lunch/breakfast. We are not fine diners so that was good for us. Drinks are expensive though - $8 plus tip for a non-alcoholic smoothie. We generally went to dinner around 6PM and didn't have to wait for a table unlike many of the other reviewers. On the Bermuda days we usually had a big late breakfast and skipped lunch while out and about. That worked out well as skipping a few meals in a week of gluttony was probably not a bad thing. A few pet peeves: 1) In the buffet you often had to hunt around to find cutlery sets; 2) The buffet always ran out of fresh fruit (except whole apples and oranges) at the end of the evening when we were looking for a post-show snack; 3) Didn't go to the chocaholic buffet - the line was ridiculous. - if NCL is going to continue with this, they need to do it better. Fitness Center: Very clean with lots of modern equipment (ellipticals, treadmills, etc), each with its own TV screen. Be sure to bring your own earbuds if you want sound. It's right at the top/rear of the ship and it was tough being there on one of the rough sea days when many people were seasick. I enjoyed the rubberized running track with the constant ocean breeze keeping me cool. What I didn't enjoy was people laying their loungers ACROSS the running track - what are those people thinking???? Anyone for Steeplechase? Fellow Passengers: I like the concept of Freestyle Cruising and not having to dress up while on vacation, however I wonder if this attracts a different kind of cruise passenger. Our cabin was located within a group of cabins occupied by an extended family who would converse loudly outside our room, or yell to each other down the hall at all hours of the day or night. Their teenaged kids would often be drunk, yelling in their rooms (which straddled ours) late into the night, kicking the walls, slamming doors, etc. We met some very nice people on the cruise but also encountered some real boors which is in stark contrast to our previous cruises (Alaska and Caribbean), though perhaps the specific itinerary may have something to do with it. Bermuda: I've fallen in love with Bermuda! What an absolutely gorgeous place - temperate climate, beautiful blue water, pink sand beaches, colorful houses, clean streets, etc. etc. The local people were so friendly and helpful to confused tourists. We got the 3-day bus/ferry passes and did St. George, Hamilton and Horseshoe Bay on different days. We also went to the Crystal Caves to view the stalactites/stalagmites. In my opinion it was overpriced ($16/adult, $8/child Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Background Information: I am a 20 year old female traveling with my parents (in their 40's) my sister (15) my brother (13) and my boyfriend (19). This was my first Norwegian Cruise though I have sailed on Carnival 3 times and ... Read More
Background Information: I am a 20 year old female traveling with my parents (in their 40's) my sister (15) my brother (13) and my boyfriend (19). This was my first Norwegian Cruise though I have sailed on Carnival 3 times and Celebrity once. June 15, 2008- Day 1 I live in Philadelphia, PA, just two short hours from NYC so we had a limo pick us up at our house and drive us to the port. We didn't hit any traffic and got to the port at about 1:00. Embarkation went very smoothly, and was perhaps the best embarkation of all the cruises I have been on thus far. However, it seemed that we moved along quickly because guests staying in balconies and mini-suites were ushered to the front, and onto the boat, while I saw a lot of other people sitting in chairs waiting for numbers to be called. Luckily, we were staying in a balcony so we were onto the boat quite quickly. Our pictures were taken for our key cards and all those under the age of 21 had a corner of their card snipped off, so that they could not purchase alcohol. However, with parental permission guests under the age of 21 are able to purchase beer or wine after going to the front desk and getting a new card. My parents and I tried to do this, but were told that I would only be able to purchase wine or beer, whereas I was hoping to be able to get cocktails, etc. My parents and I decided to let it go, and whenever I wanted to order a drink, used their card. It wasn't a big deal. We were greeted with free champagne or orange juice as we arrived on the boat, so that was a nice touch. We went straight to lunch at the Venetian, as some other cruise reviewers had suggested. I would definitely recommend doing this as well, because there was no wait, as many people did not know the dining room was open. Most people headed straight to the buffet. The Venetian is huge with a great view of the ocean. It's a beautiful dining room with very nice murals on the wall. Our waiter Orville was great, and the food was excellent. We especially enjoyed the chilled banana soup and the American club sandwich. After lunch, we purchased soda cards. I would definitely recommend buying a card if you are an avid soda drinker or prefer drinks other than iced tea and water because that's pretty much all that was on the boat for free. I was surprised that there was no lemonade as I had often seen on other cruises. One thing I will say about the soda cards though, is that the bartenders are not happy when they see that little sticker on your card because they do not make any money off of it, like they do when you purchase a drink. We also made reservations at Cagney's Steakhouse for the following night with no problem. Then we went to check out our staterooms. As I mentioned, we had a balcony. My sister, boyfriend and I shared one room that connected with my parents and my brother. The rooms were a bit smaller than we were used to from previously cruising with Carnival but they were big enough. My sister and I shared a bed which was actually two twin beds pushed together, and my boyfriend slept on a couch that pulled out into bed. The couch was extremely hard and uncomfortable though, and my boyfriend mentioned that a few times throughout the trip. One complaint I have about the rooms, was that there was not enough drawer space. After checking out our rooms we decided to take a walk around the ship. There was a BBQ outside as we prepared to leave NYC. We were set to leave at 4:00 but left 2.5 hours late. We were told it was because we were, "waiting for necessary supplies" later which I found out was toilet paper. While we were out walking we met the cruise director John Ibrahim, who was very friendly and went out of his way to say hello to my sister and I. The boat finally left and we saw some very nice views of the Statue of Liberty. Later that evening, we decided to try out the Blue Lagoon, whose wings got rave reviews on many of the sites I read before my trip, but I was not impressed by them. I did enjoy the chicken fingers though. One thing that confuses me about the blue lagoon is why it is a sit-down restaurant. I think it would do much better as a buffet, because the servers there were not very pleasant and often mixed up orders. As it is comfort food I think it would make sense to let people take as much or as little as they want, as the portions were kind of small. We went to the Welcome Aboard show which featured a few of the different musicians and entertainers on the boat. We also listened to the comedy of Dave Heenan, who was pretty funny, although extremely loud. We were hoping to get dinner after the show but was told that the dining rooms were closed. We were upset because it was only 10:15 and the Freestyle Daily told us that the dining rooms were open until "whenever". Day 2- June 16, 2008- Day at Sea Because we did not get to the breakfast buffet before 10:00 AM there was only one line open and the line was very long. I didn't understand why there are 4 buffet lines with only one open. The food was okay. It is extremely difficult to get chairs by the pool. My dad and brother woke up at 7:00 AM on a day at sea to try to get seats by the pool, or in the stadium seating area, and it was already filled! We always managed to find a few chairs on Deck 13 though. There was really no entertainment going on near the pool, which surprised me. Usually there are games and contests, and the pool is a center of activity. However, not on the Dawn. I was also disappointed that there was no soft-serve ice cream machine like on Carnival. There is an ice cream place called Sprinkles with a server, but the ice cream is not soft- serve and is not open after 3:00 PM. Very odd. I would recommend buying a souvenir cup for drinks because if you carry it around with you and use it whenever you buy a drink, you get 2$ off your bill, which we definitely took advantage of. The Dawn didn't have as many drink options as some other cruises but I enjoyed the classic Margarita. There is only one main pool and there are 4 hot tubs all of which are very nice. One thing I love about cruises, is the formal pictures. However, on the Dawn the layout is very strange. Instead of having a walkway for people to get through, the set for the picture takes up the whole area, and people either have to wait until your finished taking a picture or walk through, which many rudely did. The show was excellent tonight. We enjoyed Gleason Magic. He was truly incredible, though he tried very hard to sell his DVD's the entire cruise, which was a bit annoying. Then we headed to Cagney's for dinner which was really nothing specially and definitely not worth the extra charge. The service wasn't spectacular either. Attached to Cagney's is the Star Bar with an excellent pianist though. After dinner, we found ourselves bored, and looked in the daily and saw that there really were no activities going on at night. I was disappointed. Day 3- June 17, 2008- Day at Sea Today we just laid by the pool and relaxed. We attended an afternoon memory seminar by the magician Greg Gleason who is also a memory expert. He was impressive, but once again used all his time trying to sell his DVD. We went to dinner at Aqua, which is the other dining room. It is smaller than the Venetian and more intimate. I loved the sparkling lights on the ceiling. We saw the show Band on the Run featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Co. which was FABULOUS. I absolutely loved the singers and dancers, and their shows were truly professional and amazing. Later, we went and watched family karaoke. Day 4- June 18, 2008- Bermuda We woke up and we were in Bermuda, docked at Kings Wharf. I was upset to be docked there because it is extremely far from Hamilton (the main town) and St. Georges. It's about 20 minutes from Hamilton and 50 from St. George's. The weather was not great when we woke up, so we decided to go to both Hamilton and St. Georges. We purchased a 3-day bus pass for $28.00 for adults and $14.00 for kids. This is a great deal, and I would recommend it. St. Georges was a bit boring, but we walked around and had a good time anyway. We took the ferry back to Kings Wharf, where we learned Snorkel Park was just a 10 minute walk from our boat. It was a very nice beach, so we stayed there and relaxed as the sun had decided to come out. We decided to go back to the boat and had dinner at the Venetian which was excellent. Later, we went to see the show South Beach Rave featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Co. again which was great. There was also a deck party held but not many people attended. We went and had some fun dancing. Then we went to see the late night comedy of Dave Heenan which was okay. I was starting to get annoyed by his loudness and some of his jokes, but my boyfriend and dad thought he was hilarious. Day 5- June 19, 2008- Bermuda We took the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach which is absolutely beautiful and a must-see in Bermuda. The one drawback is that the bus drops you off at the top of a humongous hill that you must walk down to get to the beach but on the way back up, there is a taxi service that is $1 per person to take you back up the hill. We took advantage of it, and it was a dollar well spent. Horseshoe Bay Beach allows people to purchase chairs, umbrellas and food. It also has public bathrooms which was nice. It was very clean and well-maintained. My parents complained that we were on transportation more than we were anywhere in Bermuda, but I didn't mind because every bus ride felt like a tour. The views from the window were gorgeous. We then took the bus to Hamilton and did some shopping. I would recommend going to the store Spinnakers. We bought a ton of stuff there, and everything was pretty cheap. That night we ate at Salsa which was absolutely amazing. The one strange thing was that its located above the lobby of the ship so people would walk through in bathing suits, etc. It was very weird. The service was not good, but I have no complaints about the food, especially the fajitas. The dinner was extremely long due to poor service, and we had to skip dessert to make the show. The show tonight featured Second City, an improv/comedy troupe. They included the audience a lot, and were very funny. The one thing that really made me angry at every show we went to was how rude people were. When the show was winding down or the performers left the stage but the Cruise Director came on to talk, so many people stood up and left and blocked the view of the people who actually wanted to hear what was going on. We then went to the Liars Club, which featured John and Archie (CD and assistant CD) Greg Gleason, and Dave Heenan. It was funny though Dave the comedian tried to turn it into his own personal comedy show, which was annoying. We wanted to go to chocolate buffet but the line was pretty much the length of the ship, and I don't have the patience for that. Then we watched Quest, which was also a funny game sort of thing. Day 6- June 20, 2008- Bermuda Our last day in Bermuda. We took a bus to Elbow Beach, which was nice. It started to rain though and we needed to leave. The boat left Bermuda and we got ready to go see the final Jean Ann Ryan Co. show. The show was called Bollywood and was SPECTACULAR. It was a mix of Indian music (which didn't originally appeal to me) and Cirque du Soleil and it was absolutely amazing. Then we headed to dinner at the Venetian where we were told we would have a 45 minute wait, and after giving them our room number were seated in 5 minutes. Balcony and suites have priority on this boat, which was nice for us, but I can understand how it would upset others. The boat was going extremely fast tonight, and it was the only night I could actually feel it. We went to the White Hot party in the Spinnaker Lounge for a bit, which was fun. Day 7-June 21, 2008- Day at Sea We hung out by the pool in the morning. It was difficult to get chairs again. Then we went to the Sleight of Hand Close up Magic with Greg Gleason, where he showed how he did some of his card tricks. I got to be his assistant for a trick which was fun. We went to TV show trivia which was very hard. Later we had dinner at Aqua, which was just okay. We went to the Farewell show and saw more magic and more comedy. They sort of seemed to use the same entertainers over and over again, with no variety. Day 8- June 22, 2008- Back in NYC Disembarkation was a NIGHTMARE. The express walk-off people had not even gotten off the ship by the time the colors were supposed to be lining up. The line took up the whole length of the ship and I was very happy to be back on solid ground after 2 hours of waiting. To give NCL credit though, they pulled into a different port than the one we left from, and it was apparently smaller. OVERALL: I enjoyed the trip. There were some definite things I would change though: For instance, the whole concept of freestyle 2.0. I did not feel relaxed of "freestyle" at all. I spent more time planning my own schedule than following one like on a different cruise. Not having a dining time made it difficult to plan ahead and to attend shows. Also I did not like the dress code, because it was very awkward to be all dressed up and sitting next to people who just came back from the pool. I personally enjoy dressing nice, and going to eat with other people who are dressed the same. It turned a fancy restaurant into a not fancy restaurant. Overall, I would definitely cruise again, but NCL would not be my first choice. If anyone has further questions please feel free to contact me at jessicallawlor@gmail.com . Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Embarkation: My family (Myself, 21year old male, my brother, 18, my sister, 11 and my parents) drove from right outside Philadelphia (West Chester, PA) to NYC in our own car. We got to the pier in NYC around 10:00am. There was a lot of ... Read More
Embarkation: My family (Myself, 21year old male, my brother, 18, my sister, 11 and my parents) drove from right outside Philadelphia (West Chester, PA) to NYC in our own car. We got to the pier in NYC around 10:00am. There was a lot of traffic by the pier, mostly because the Norwegian Spirit and Dawn were still disembarking, and a lot of new people were trying to drop their bags off and park. No help came to our car to help us with our bags, so my father and I grabbed everything out ourselves and brought the bags inside the terminal, were we handed the bags to a porter who took them from there. Parking was very easy right above the pier ($30/day), and we quickly moved down to the check-in area. We embarked at pier 92, it was pretty dirty inside, and at the time there was no special Latitudes check-in area. We only had to wait about 5 minutes or so, and the most miserable woman I think I've ever met helped us. She was rude, and messed up our embarkation cards (my father and I have the same name.). We got seated in about the sixth row back in the embarkation hall. The "boarding time" in the hall said 1:00pm, but we were through security and on the ship by about 12:30pm. I was kind of disappointed that there was no food or drink being served by NCL. In the past, they have had free coffee, water, snacks, etc. I first noticed my card was messed up when we boarded the Dawn, and my father's picture showed up when they scanned my card instead of my own picture. We went to the front desk, and they were very nice in fixing everything. We went to Venetian for lunch, and then it was time to go to our staterooms. We had two very nice room stewards on Deck 9. They were great and always made sure to ask how we were doing. The sailaway party was great. It was very, very hot outside but the atmosphere and sights were amazing. You really can't beat sailing out from NYC. We went to Aqua for dinner, because there was a huge hold up in Venetian around 7:30pm. It seemed like everyone on the ship was trying to get to dinner at the same time. Day 1 at Sea: A very relaxing day mostly sent poolside reading and getting the occasional drink. Great weather all day long. I attended to Cruise Critic M&G, which was very fun. Ate a delicious meal at Cagney's and went to the "Band on the Run" show at nighttime followed by some Casino and watching some karaoke. Day 2 at Sea: Another awesome day outside with little to no wind. Since they really don't need two sea days to get from NYC to Bermuda, the ship only was averaging 11-12 knots. A slight breeze at times, but I don't think I felt the ship rock once during these two days at sea. I went to Salsa (no cover charge) for dinner and it was very good. I then attended Monte Carlo night, where I donated some money to the Casino, but at least I was getting free drinks with my Player's Card. Yes, the drinks are FREE (limited menu) when you are playing tables or slots. (Much easier to get a drink when playing tables though.) Be sure to bring some tipping money. I tipped the usual $1/drink. At night I went to the 70's party in the Spinnaker and I had a great time. King's Wharf, Bermuda (Day 1): By the time I woke up for breakfast at 8:30am we were already docked. We bought the 3-Day ferry/bus pass (Tip: CASH ONLY). It was very reasonable, and Bermuda is so easy to get around. It is defiantly my favorite port of call, although a little on the expensive side. On this day I took a ferry with my family into Hamilton (About a 25 minute trip) we walked Front Street for a little bit, then we took a bus from the Bus Depot to the West End. The beaches are amazing, but I don't understand why so many people always flock to Horseshoe Bay when there is 10 equally beautiful beaches right next door. I was back onboard by 4:30pm or so to sit by the pool and enjoy a drink. Another relaxing late afternoon by the pool then we were off to Impressions for dinner. The South Beach Show followed this, and it was very entertaining. . I went to the late night adult comedy show with my brother in the Spinnaker at 11:30pm and I had a great time. Around this time I had a letter on my cabin door stating that my brother, my sister, and me were chosen to eat with the Staff Captain, and my parent's were chosen to eat with the Captain. I entered our cabin number's in the "Random drawing" at the Cruise Critic M&G. A lot of fellow Cruise Critic members were chosen to eat with other officers as well. King's Wharf, Bermuda (Day 2): I bought my parent's a golf outing at Tucker's Point for Mother's/Father's day, so I took my brother and sister into St. George's (45 minutes by ferry). We walked the town a little bit then went over to Tobacco by and St. Catherine's beach. (About a 15-minute walk from St. George's.) We had a relaxing day on the beach. I went on a 45 minute "Wave Runner Tour" with my sister. It was $80 total for the both of us, and someone escorted us (also on a wave runner) from St. Catherine's beach, into St. George's Harbor, and into another smaller Harbor. The sights were AMAZING! We saw beautiful beaches, Loggerhead turtles, and we got to wave run right near the Norwegian Dream and Majesty who were docked at St. George. Well worth the money, and those wave runner's are so fun to drive!! We took the ferry back to the ship and were again back onboard by 4:30pm. We got a bite to eat at Blue Lagoon (PACKED around this time on port days.). Dining with the Staff Captain was great. It was an experience that I will not forget and there were two other women at my table who were a delight to eat with. The wine & beer was on NCL. What a great time! I just went to watch some Karaoke in the evening, and had a fun night. King's Wharf, Bermuda (Day 3): On this day I again took the ferry over to St. George's and got a taxi to go to the original Swizzle Inn. ($18 total) I had my Rum Swizzle and a few appetizers, and then we took the "scenic route" back to the ship by taking a public bus all the way to Hamilton. We walked around Hamilton for a little while, and then we were back onboard the ship by 3:00pm. My dad and I enjoyed watching people run back to the ship at 4:30pm, and we were off by 5pm. It got really windy, but it was a great afternoon. I went to Venetian again for dinner and had an OK dinner service. Right after dinner, I went to the White Hot Party, and went to see Jose and Patti and some Karaoke again. I noticed the ship really picking up speed. There was a little bit of rocking, but nothing bad whatsoever. We were averaging about 19 knots on the way back to NYC. 3rd Day at Sea: Another relaxing day on the sea spent mostly poolside. I had my usually couple of drinks and just relaxed. I went to the International Crew Show in the Spinnaker, and really enjoyed it. My parents were asked to come have a drink in an Owner's Suite, and of course I tagged along. The suite was awesome. Beautifully decorated and extremely spacious. For our final dinner we went to Cagney's again. We had another great dinner service. We ate pretty late, so I did not get the chance to attend the Farewell Show. I had a few drinks at the bar, but went to bed pretty early. Disembarkation Day, NYC: I woke up around 6:30am to watch us pull into NYC. It was very overcast out, but the sights were great. We pulled into the Pier at 8:00am on the dot. I had on final breakfast in the Venetian (The buffet was PACKED) and the waited in Salsa for our luggage tag to be called. Norwegian lets you choose the time you get off the ship, which is a real plus. (Tip: The line for the Express Walk Off must have been the length of the whole entire ship. Just choose a luggage tag color, much easier!) We had to walk from pier 88 to pier 92 were our car was parked, but it was easy getting out of NYC, and we were back home in West Chester, PA by 12:30pm. Restaurant Mini-Reviews: Venetian: Breakfast: Typical menu, everything cooked to order, service is a little bit slow, and some days it took some waiting to get your food. Lunch: Hit or miss, either I really liked a few things on the menu, or I hated everything, in which case I went to the buffet. Dinner: I only ate here twice for dinner during the whole cruise. Service was OK and so was the food. I think NCL's specialty restaurants blow this place out of the water (Service, Speed, and Food wise). Aqua: I only ate here once for dinner. The atmosphere was much more intimate and dark then that of Venetian, which was more open and loud. If you want a little bit more intimate setting this is the place to go. The only thing I noticed is that Aqua and Venetian had similar but different menus. I didn't figure this out till about the fourth day of the cruise, so check of both menus before you dine! Cagney's: My personal favorite. $20 cover is a little bit hefty, but it is worth every penny. I loved all of their food on that menu. Great intimate setting, quiet, and good service. This restaurant cannot be beat. Salsa: Great Mexican food with a great atmosphere. A very open restaurant overlooking the grand atrium. The one thing I liked about this was a live "Mexican Music" style band that played all throughout dinner. Impressions: Great food for the low surcharge ($10). Beats out the main restaurant by far, and I am a huge Italian Food fan, so this place was great. Also much more quiet then the main restaurant. I did notice that the menu DRASTICALLY changed from that of the Norwegian Sun's Italian restaurant when I was onboard in March, 2008. I think it's a bit of a downgraded menu, but the food is still great. Blue Lagoon: 24 Hour Food=Awesome. Typical snack foods. I noticed it was very understaffed, and the staff didn't seem to enjoy being servers there. The food came out pretty quick though, and I usually went down around 5pm to get some wings to bring up by the pool bar. I noticed the Buffalo wings and the Fish and Chips have changed since I was on the NCL Sun. The wings were much much bigger, and instead of getting "fish sticks" you got one large piece of breaded fish. Bimini Bar & Grill: Burgers, Hot Dogs, French Fries just about all day long. A good hangout in the late afternoon if you want to get out of the sun. They had awesome soft pretzels! Garden Cafe (Buffet): Much better food then I have had in the past at NCL buffets. Lots of selections to please just about any taste. I'm not really much of a buffet person for any meal, so I really only came in here for a quick snack or sandwich. Poolside BBQ: Typical BBQ foods everyday. They did seem to have one "specialty item" everyday. One day there was PPQ pork, and another day they were grilling up Ribs. Public Areas: All of the public areas were all very clean. My least favorite was the Pearly King's Pub. It is kind of in a bad spot, and I never noticed a crowd there. If you plan to go to the pool, get there early! It fills up very fast! The Dawn is beautiful overall. Entertainment: Jean Ann Ryan Company: "Band on the Run" was my personal favorite show. Their "South Beach Rave" was also very good. I did not attend the first day's "Here's What's to Come Show" so I cannot comment here. I also did not attend "Bollywood" The singers and dancers are extremely talented, and are great to watch. 70's Party: My personal favorite of the cruise, the live music by Sound Bytes was great, and a lot of people were dancing all night long. Sound Bytes: A great (all Filipino) band. I enjoyed listening to them all cruise. Upryzin': Your typical "Caribbean Music" band. Always nice to hear that kind of music while sitting poolside. Jose and Patti: A MUST see, they are truly an entertaining duo that cannot be missed. Peter Sasso- Funny comedian, I really enjoyed his late night adult comedy show. The International Crew Show and Fountains: They have since moved this show to the Spinnaker Lounge (It used to be held in the Stardust Theatre) very entertaining and it drew a great bog crowd. I have seen Fountains before on the Sun, but it is still hilarious every time you go. NCL's Monte Carlo Night: Held in the Casino, this gets PACKED. All of the staff and crew wore "Tuxedo" T-shirts all day leading up to the party. There was music and dancers walking around, but this mostly just got people in the Casino. NCL's White Hot Night Party: Again, the Crew wore white t-shorts advertising the event, and there were signs posted all around the ship. In the beginning of the party (Held in the Spinnaker) it was pretty dead and slow. It heated up a little bit afterwards but I think most people were watching either Jose and Patti, listing to the Piano Player (I forget his name but he drew a commanding crowd by the end of the cruise.) or participating in Karaoke. The ice sculptures, snow machines, and dance/techno music were all a fun time though. Cruise Director: Pedro Serra- Pretty decent. He did not really "participate" in as many things as I have seen CD's do in the past. I believe it was his last week as his replacement was tailing him everywhere he went. Staff/Crew: The only bar waiter I got to know well during this cruise was Emerson (Bar Server). He works on the pool deck during the day and always wears a white Dos Equis hat. He was great to talk to and an awesome server. If you are going on the Dawn soon, defiantly get a drink from him! He sprays you with water when he serves you your drink, which was very refreshing during a hot day! Arlene (Casino Attendant): It is only her 1st contract and 3rd week on the Dawn, but she is very nice! I also ran into the Food & Beverage Manager a lot. He knew me by name by the middle of the cruise, and he always made sure everything was OK. A very nice man from France! Cruise Critic M&G: About 20 people turned out to the event, and all of the big wigs showed up to talk to us. It went for about an hour, and was very good. The Dawn also has a night were a few lucky cabins get to eat with Officers of the Dawn. Anyone who wanted to could "put their cabin number in the hat" at the M&G. I had the opportunity of dining with the Staff Captain, and my parents had the opportunity of sitting at the Captain's table. A great experience, although I don't think it was a truly "Random" drawing, as I noticed almost everyone from the M&G was at an officer's table. A nice touch by NCL, and the drinks were on them. We also got a picture sent to our stateroom on the last night of the cruise of the dinner. It came in a plain envelope that said "Compliments of NCL" inside. It was very nice of them to do this. Freestyle 2.0: I would say its is about 85% implemented. New bedding and pillows are great, the menus and some food has changed a bit. Some hot tubs are "Adult Only" and there are drink flags on every lounge chair, although this did not seem to stop the staff asking me if I wanted a bucked every 15 minutes! I did not order room service so I cannot comment on this. I did get a glass of champagne when I embarked, which was a nice touch. I really enjoy NCL's Freestyle concept, and I always have a great time when sailing with them. I have been on the Spirit, Sun, and Dawn now and absolutely love it. I have a trip booked on the Dawn for next March, which I am already looking forward to! The Dawn is a beautiful ship. Very spacious and it did not feel too "crowded." I loved the layout and the atmosphere. This was a very enjoyable vacation to Bermuda, and I plan to go back again someday soon. Downsides (If there really can be any!) to this Cruise: *Miserable check in Lady- Anyone know who I can write to about this? Is she an employee of NCL? *No beer taps worked- I know this is minor but I enjoyed the beers that "should have been" on tap. I got the same answers from the bar staff every time- "The beer is too warm." Or "The beer is too foamy." Or "Maybe it will be fixed tomorrow." All lame excuses. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Things we liked: The comedian, the magician, the shows. Overall the entertainment experience was very good, except for the one Karaoke Person (Marianna was here name) who thought she was the singing sensation of the world. She was OK at ... Read More
Things we liked: The comedian, the magician, the shows. Overall the entertainment experience was very good, except for the one Karaoke Person (Marianna was here name) who thought she was the singing sensation of the world. She was OK at absolute best. One night she walked off because she thought the song was out of key. OK lady, get a grip, it's Karaoke, not American Idol. That was annoying but fun to watch someone get so upset over Karaoke. The shore excursions were obscene as far as cost. For two people it would have been at least $150 for the meekest of excursions. If you want to do anything other than tour the Island, you will have to shell out some major $$$$. You would think Norwegian Cruise Lines could negotiate better rates being the big company that they are. I also learned that the port of call shop owners pay Norwegian to promote their stores and services and stay open later than there normal business hours but The Cruise did not promote any of those stores on board to help out those local shop owners. That seems kind of shady to me. The whole "FreeStyle" experience as Norwegian calls it was a joke. I say that because their definition of "FreeStyle" means that you can do what you want, when you wants without being tied to a schedule as far a dining is concerned. They say you don't need to need to make reservations to eat. But if you don't you will not be eating until at least 8:30 every night and then you will miss the shows. So make your reservations. Also, the idea of charging more to eat in certain restaurants over another is kind of a joke. The best free restaurant is Salsa and the best "fee" restaurant is Le Bistro. If you plan on eating in any of the other restaurants, Cagney's (a steakhouse) is $20 per person, plus unto $15 extra per person depending on the dinner you choose. The worst was Aqua. This place promotes itself as a more healthy place, but none of the food had much flavor. The whole dining experience ruined the cruise. On a positive note, the wait and service staff was very friendly and very courteous. If you want to sit on the deck, they say you can't save chairs for anyone on any of the decks. However this is not enforced. I saw one lady save 6 chairs by herself while she waited on her friends, who never showed up. I thought that was rude but none of the staff would tell her that was against policy even when we asked them to inform her of that. Overall, it was an OK cruise, not outstanding. In retrospect we should have gone with a Royal Caribbean cruise. They don't have the $tring$ attached that the FreeStyle Cruises have. If you sail this ship, be prepared to spend extra money enjoying the type of food that other ships offer for free. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Because of the horrible and unsettling announcement 4 hours into the voyage that some poor soul had fallen overboard, this became a very complicated and difficult cruise to truly enjoy. However the following are some observations on the ... Read More
Because of the horrible and unsettling announcement 4 hours into the voyage that some poor soul had fallen overboard, this became a very complicated and difficult cruise to truly enjoy. However the following are some observations on the May 11 NCL Dawn sailing out of NYC to Bermuda: Embarkation: traffic around and into the pier can be a problem so allow plenty of time. From arrival time (about noon) at the pier to boarding was about an hour; rooms were ready about 1:30 PM. Luggage arrived about 5PM. Ship: our room was inferior compared to other ships we have sailed on. The carpet was worn and stained, the mirror behind the bed had 2 big grease stains on it and hadn't been cleaned in a while; the balcony was very dirty. However in general, the public areas on the ship were very clean and in great shape. Cabin Steward: she never introduced herself and we finally sought her out in the evening. While she was friendly enough, our simple requests for a bottle of water or filling the soap dispenser always required several reminders. I always give an advance tip of $40 but this time it had no affect on the level of service. Entertainment: this was a big disappointment. The 3 Jean Ryan productions were good, especially "Band on the Run" which is a new version of a show we have seen before. Bollywood was also good and very creative; the Miami show was entertaining. All the rest was pretty bad; I have see better piano players at high school recitals. Dining: I am not sure of the value of the NCL upgrade called "2.0"; the food was much the same as our experience on the NCL Star in 2007. The Venetian and Aqua dining rooms were very well run; service was great and the food very good. Bamboo has a similar menu to PF Chang's (Asian fusion) and the food is also very good. Impressions is well worth the modest $10 cover charge; the food is excellent. Salsa is one of the better venues but if I hadn't befriended some of the staff, I would have never gotten a table. It seemed like they were doing a favor by accommodating diners, but by 9 PM the place was usually empty. Cagney's was a huge disappointment; a long wait and very over-rated. Again, getting seated seemed like some over-complicated ordeal While seating is a little close, the Blue Lagoon serves some great appetizers, burgers and wings. Although we usually avoid buffets, there is a Deli station in the buffet restaurant that prepares some great NY style sandwiches! Casino: some of the staff were very poorly trained and unfamiliar with pay-off procedures and gambling rules. However free drinks are finally offered (to players with an NCL players card) and no fee is charged for obtaining money against your ship-board account. We won about $800 on slots and another $1,000 on table games; some was returned to the casino but most was applied against our account. Staff: Friendly but nearing the end of their contract and no doubt anxious to go home. This is a very tough job and you have to respect them for maintaining such a positive attitude with so many over-demanding and over-indulgent passengers. Disembarkation: NCL does such a great job with this; the colored tags drive an efficient and painless process. On the final day, we had a nice breakfast in the Venetian and afterwards waited for about 45 minutes in our cabin for our color to be announced. From then, it took less than 45 minutes to clear US Customs, retrieve our luggage and be on our way to the Newark airport. Weather: be forewarned, there is a reason why the price for a spring cruise to Bermuda is so low. While the weather on the island may be pleasant enough, the Atlantic is very unpredictable anytime but can be particularly hostile during this time of the year. While on the ocean to and from Bermuda we experienced storms, gale force winds and waves from 18' to 42' almost the entire time. One afternoon, my wife and I were sitting at the window by Le Bistro and the ship hit a wave that covered the entire window and we were virtually looking into the ocean, A passenger walking in the hallway actually got wet from sea water that penetrated the window seal. Another time, I was standing on our 10th floor balcony watching the ocean and suddenly I was looking at a totally white wall of ocean spray. I loved this wild aspect of the cruise but I am sure I was in the minority. Bermuda; beautiful, safe, historic; without a doubt one of the best ports we have ever visited. Conclusion; the Dawn is a very good ship that offers great value. Feel free to email with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
May 11th, 2008. What a way to celebrate Mothers Day as poor Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death. From our nearby cabin on the same deck, we could see the flashing light on the floating life jacket someone had ... Read More
May 11th, 2008. What a way to celebrate Mothers Day as poor Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death. From our nearby cabin on the same deck, we could see the flashing light on the floating life jacket someone had tossed to the seas in an attempt to reach her. We watched in awe from our own Balcony as the ship dispatched a rescue boat and quickly recovered the life jacket, with no-one attached. As hope began to dwindle, the Captain (along with the Coast Guard) made a valiant effort for several hours circling the area in the wake of increasingly stormy seas. Just one announcement was made from the bridge that evening. The original plan was to outrun or sidestep the oncoming storm over the Atlantic, but now delayed by the (necessary) attempted rescue mission, we would be forced to endure 36 hours of the roughest waters and highest seas of the year, with waves from 27 to 42 feet and winds up to 40 mph. Oddly enough, I slept like a baby, being rocked to sleep, as others feared for their lives and the life of the woman overboard. It wasn't until late next morning that the Captain informed us of the tragic loss at sea, and that our ship was seaworthy enough to continue through the storm. When my wife and I finally attempted to leave the cabin, we saw all the barf bags put around the ship, and the few brave seasick souls wandering the halls, we realized we were better off HORIZONTAL for as long as possible. Waiting in our cabin, we figured that at any time now, the ship's cruise director and entertainment staff would do SOMETHING to comfort the guests and take our minds off everything that was going on. No such luck. For the next two days, the ship looked like a ghost town. When people started getting bored, looking for games, activities, distractions, communication and camaraderie from the crew...their was none to be had. Little did we know that most of the crew were in their LAST MONTH of a ten month contract, and couldn't wait to get off the boat and back home to their families. For whatever reasons, after 30+ cruises, we have never seen lower morale, friendliness or competency of the staff OR crew. The ONLY announcements that would be made for the rest of the cruise was when they had something to sell you like jackpot bingo or the art auctions or a casino tournament. At Sprinkles Ice Cream Parlor on the (drained) pool deck, there was NEVER any sprinkles available, or toppings, or cups, or chocolate ice cream. Where are the sprinkles at sprinkles we asked. We were told it's just a name. How about some chocolate syrup? Sorry, it's all gone stale. Because of the sea conditions, all outdoor pools and hot tubs had to be drained. This included the equally miserable voyage BACK to NY as well. Well, at least we had TWO cabin stewards to attend to our stateroom, and leave us ONE bath towel nightly (total) for the both of us. After sleeping in on the morning of the severe storm, we saw them both outside in the hallway and requested that our cabin be made up. They told us NO, it would mean they have to work overtime, and that we should call the reception desk for help. Of course the one-touch buttons on the in-cabin phone NEVER worked, so good luck trying to get someone to answer. They did however, call us two days later about a soda spill on he carpet that we had reported on Day 1. At this point, let me rewind our story to BEFORE the cruise, when the Compass Rewards department of NCL delayed a certificate we had been awarded (through their Bank Of America MasterCard program) and the NCL reservations dept. overcharged a cruise amount not authorized by us. It is in the process of being straightened out and correct credits applied. Oh well, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. And you really can't blame the rude thugs who welcome you at embarkation at the Port Of New York, because they may not work directly for NCL? When we were sitting in the waiting area before going through security, my wife asked approx. how much longer it might take. So this NASTY security agent yells "FIVE HOURS....3 Hours, maybe 3 Minutes, I don't know what you people want me to tell, you...how would I know, I just work here! Now just stay seated and you have to WAIT like everyone else". I videotaped HER and many other incidents of rudeness and thoughtlessness that I can't wait to edit and send to NCL (and upload to YouTube). But being a cruise out of NEW YORK, we figured let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Once onboard, the ship IS drop-dead beautiful (for lack of a better term) and has one of the best layouts of public lounges and passenger deck space that we've ever seen. The welcome glasses of Champagne are a nice touch, even of you are NOT personally escorted to your stateroom, as some lines still do. Of course the ravenous New York crowd, many with their luggage still in tow, had to gridlock the grand-atrium lobby to make reservations for the week at all the alternative dining venues before even making their way to their cabins. The average age of THIS crowd seemed to be a little too old even for Holland America! (But we're on NCL). Being in our 40's, and knowing that we'll be seniors one day, I'm not going to make any disparaging remarks here, but let's just say that the "mature" crowd you get on Celebrity or Princess out of Florida or even Europe are a tad more refined then their East Coast counterparts. We knew we'd have to make our own FUN on this ship (This ain't even Carnival), and thank God we brought the travel-scrabble with us and I've got unlimited email access through my iPhone! By the time we got to Bermuda, I was actually THRILLED to be paying $2 per minute to call the office and hear about problems AWAY from the cruise! Okay, so what went so wrong? Can you really blame NCL for the stormy seas, or the poor woman who went overboard? (NOT due to the stormy seas). NO. However, one would expect that at fearful times fraught with endless hours of BOREDOM and SEASICKNESS aboard ship, with many outdoor decks closed off for safety reasons...that the staff and crew would have a PLAN B to comfort and entertain the guests. Perhaps some more announcements not to worry. Perhaps the Calypso band playing out on deck even if pools were drained. Perhaps extended hours at the buffet, or the opening of the other restaurants BEFORE 5:30 PM Perhaps a complimentary open bar for an hour or two. Perhaps an impromtu game or activity in the daytime, BEFORE the late evening shows. (No hairy chest or knobby knees contests here!) Perhaps the quartet playing during the day when you could hear a pin drop. Perhaps a MOVIE or TWO added to the Cinema's schedule of night-time only flicks. No such thoughtfulness here. WE spoke with many 1st time cruisers who were horrified at the whole experience and vowed never to cruise again. But now, let's talk about what went RIGHT. And some things were GREAT! ***The Buffalo Wings at the 24 hour Blue Lagoon are GREAT. (Included) ***The Fresh Fruit Smoothies served at all bars are GREAT. ($6.90 each) ***All of the non-included restaurants are WONDERFUL and worth the added service charge, with our favorite being "Impressions" Italian Restaurant also the best value ($10.00 pp) Beware, however of screaming babies being brought everywhere, including those ambient upscale dining venues, as well as the disco at midnight! Few parents thought to arrange for babysitting or ever considered their child's sleeping patterns. ***NCL's Childrens Activities Programs are great, and we heard nothing but raves about them from parents who were NOT total yahoos. ***The nightime entertainment, lounges, production shows were all VERY GOOD even if their was limited dancing (other than disco). We participated in the Second City Comedy Troupe shows and workshops and even starred in a lame-o version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (with 5 people sitting in the audience) ***BERMUDA. Being docked for 3 days at Royal Navy Dockyard and being able to come and go from the ship 24/7 is GREAT! The ferry boats all run on schedule to take you to Hamilton and St. George AND our highlight of the week was renting out own scooters, (my wife doesn't drive, but they will rent to anyone over 16) and speeding around the winding roads in the rain while looking at the seascape instead of the road ahead. Oh, what a RUSH! ***The SPA. The ONE time we were able to use it, was GREAT! They only allow a limited number of guests at one time, so you never feel crowded. And it's ADULTS ONLY!!! So NO screaming babies! There are male, female and co-ed relaxation rooms overlooking the aft. / ships wake. Steam rooms, sauna, etc. The cost is $20 per day per person or $75 for unlimited use all week. We had opted for the unlimited use of the Spa's heated indoor pool, jacuzzi and hydrotherapy tub, all of which were closed on the seas days as well. On the last day, I firmly requested a full refund of the $140 (for 2) Spa up-charge and they did comply (albeit begrudgingly and without apology). ***If you are celebrating an ANNIVERSARY, you will have a special song sung to you at dinner. It's the only song they know, and we heard it many times. (We don't want to ruin the surprise for you). ***The Forward (BOW) Jacuzzi behind the Bimini Bar (hot dogs and hamburgers) above the pool deck. Secluded, overlooking the ocean and away rom the noise. If it ever had water in it on a sea day,this would have been our favorite spot. ***The Casino has slots and every table game except for Caribbean Stud Poker, which is probably a good thing as it curtailed my donation from being higher. They put out a little munchie buffet every evening. ***The Chocoholic Buffet, albeit ill-timed and placed. Get there EARLY so after waiting on a 45 minute long snaking line, YOU won't find all the chocolate covered strawberries and apples gone while the late show has already started. All in all, how can we complain? Okay, so we did have to spend approx. $92,000 on two MasterCards to accumulate enough Compass Rewards points to be awarded FOUR $500 certificates good towards this $2,000 cruise for two. We took a chance went in OFF-SEASON to Bermuda on the very rough Atlantic Ocean, before our certificates were to expire. Each day onboard felt like a week, but now that we're home for a few hours we're asking "How did a week go by so fast?" And how can we be THIS hungry again so soon? Writing this review, as I look out the window from our 21st floor condo in Guttenberg, NJ. I see the Norwegian Dawn leaving again (weather is still bad) with another 2,000+ "FreeStyling" it, thankful that we are home safe and alive, and looking forward to our next cruise in January...which thankfully will NOT be on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We sailed from New York on the Norwegian Dawn on May 11th, 2008. Yes, it was the cruise where a woman went overboard and was lost at sea. We did have high seas, up to 42 feet, 3 out of 3 days at sea yet we had a very good time! This was ... Read More
We sailed from New York on the Norwegian Dawn on May 11th, 2008. Yes, it was the cruise where a woman went overboard and was lost at sea. We did have high seas, up to 42 feet, 3 out of 3 days at sea yet we had a very good time! This was my 7th cruise, the second on Norwegian. We live in NJ so only had a short ride by bus to NYC and it was the easiest time I have ever had getting to a cruise terminal. The embarkation was orderly but required some patience. We arrived early so they checked us in and we had to sit and wait to board for about an hour. Boarding began around 12:00. On the way up the gangway they spray antibacterial spray on everyone's hands, this is done throughout the cruise when you renter the ship. There was a glass of champagne waiting and the reservation desk for the specialty restaurants was right in the main lobby and very easy to make reservations for first and second night. The ship is beautiful and very well maintained for a ship built in 2002. There was a lot of creaking on the high seas but other than that I thought it was very nice. There isn't a lot of space on the pool deck but the weather during our cruise didn't permit us to be outside much. The activities onboard are really lacking. I am not sure what the cruise director does on this ship other than plan Bingo games and announce other activities that generate additional revenue for the cruise line. This was probably the worst cruise director I have ever seen. The service was just okay. Our room steward had to put our bed together when we arrived and later in the cruise had to replace a light bulb and put a comforter on our mattress since it was so hard and she did this right away. The room was neat but needed to be vacuumed under the bed. I spoke to the steward and she said they used to have 13 cabins to take care of and now they are required to take care of 33! The waiters were not that friendly and this is where I hate tips being included automatically. I like traditional dining with the same waiter every night a tipping at the end of the cruise. I think Norwegian should have one traditional and one Freestyle main dining room. The inside stateroom on deck 10 was nice. I really like the bathroom which has a shower with a tile floor and actual doors instead of a shower curtain. We had plenty of storage for two but I wouldn't put anymore than that in one of these rooms. The beds were harder than rocks but they are supposed to be changing this during the 2.0 conversion. In the high seas the wooden closet/vanity unit creaked all night and made it very hard to sleep. It actually sounded like the ship was coming apart on our days at sea. The dining was very good. I have read a lot of bad things but we enjoyed 90% of our meals. Salsa was free and great! The lobster tacos and the mango sundae are the best and I am sure they will start charging for this soon. We had dinner in La Bistro the first night and it good but not great I guess I missed it because most people thought it was wonderful. We also tried Impressions and it was good as well. I loved the chicken parmesan but not the lobster ravioli (they only give you 4). Lobster night in the main dining room was the best meal in there by far. I liked all of the Cooking Light items that I tried especially the apple pie and mahi-mahi. I suggest the buffet for breakfast since this was awful in the main dining room. The entertainment was very good. I liked all but the Second City shows. The Bollywood show is great and shouldn't be missed. I thought both the comedian and magician were very good. We LOVED Bermuda and we really liked the idea of parking the ship for 3 days and coming and going as you please. It was like having a hotel and free dining pass right on the island. Get the 3 day bus and ferry pass for $28 it is a steal! We went to Crystal caves, the Swizzle Inn, Horseshoe Bay Beach, Gibbs Lighthouse, Hamilton to shop and go to the parks, St. Georges to see St. Peters… it was great! Finally disembarkation was easy. We did the express and were off the ship by 9:00 it gets 5 stars and I hope all ships start to do this. You have to be able to carry all of your luggage off to do express but if you can I definitely suggest it. We had a good time and would go again. Most of the bad things were not Norwegians fault. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
May 11th from NY to Bermuda. By now most have heard about the unfortunate tragedy that occurred on our trip to Bermuda (Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death) and I want to say upfront that I thought the ... Read More
May 11th from NY to Bermuda. By now most have heard about the unfortunate tragedy that occurred on our trip to Bermuda (Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death) and I want to say upfront that I thought the ship's captain was pretty good about keeping the passengers abreast of the evenings events. And I can't blame NCL for the 40+ foot waves and 50+ mph winds we had to deal with all the way to Bermuda BUT I can place blame on them for not having any alternative "rainy day" activities planned. Think about it - the pools/hot tubs were drained all the way to and from Bermuda. Maybe the cruise staff could have found alternative activities for the passengers. As I would say to my friend - "There is always the casino". As a side note, they serve free drinks (well drinks and beer) to passengers playing using their casino card!! There was a rum tasting event in the Pearly Pub that was almost cancelled due to the weather??? It was in a bar what did that have to do with the weather outside?? As for food, I thought it was very bland and lacked choices. I had eggs and an english muffing most mornings and pasta and veggies most lunches. The night of "surf and more surf" was dry and over cooked and I love seafood. How sad for me.. The best dessert I had all week was vanilla ice cream and even that was not all that good. We went to Cagney's on Monday night (2nd night of the trip) and I asked for a glass of Pinot Noir to go with my dinner and they told me they only had 3 bottles left for the trip and I could only buy it by the bottle. 3 bottles?? We left NYC the day before.. I think I might have gained 1lb on my all you can eat cruise.. The cabin - I thought it was a bit small but adequate for sleeping. Thankfully we had a balcony so it gave us a bit more space. The ship was in the process of being upgraded during the cruise so mid-week we were given new pillows. They were more decoration that utility so I asked our cabin steward for another pillow. The ship should have compensated the passengers for their troubles - maybe an hour or two of free drinks? Maybe an onboard credit of $25 - 50 a person, maybe the staff could have engaged us a bit more.. Something. Overall this was a disappointing cruise but it wont stop me from cruising again but it wont be on NCL unless its free. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
BACKGROUND - Our family of seven was on the Dawn's 5/18 sailing from New York to Bermuda. The family consists of Dad and Mom (both 53) our two sons (ages 20 and 15) and our three daughters (23, 18 and 17). This was our fourth cruise ... Read More
BACKGROUND - Our family of seven was on the Dawn's 5/18 sailing from New York to Bermuda. The family consists of Dad and Mom (both 53) our two sons (ages 20 and 15) and our three daughters (23, 18 and 17). This was our fourth cruise and our second trip to Bermuda. Previous itineraries include Hawaii (Pride of Aloha) and the Caribbean last summer out of Port Canaveral on RCI's Mariner of the Seas (a very tough act to follow!) We had resisted cruising for many years because we prefer to set our own itinerary and meal times. Freestyle with 3 consecutive days in port is pretty much our ideal cruise for that reason. We have also found that cruising is a particularly good vacation choice for families wanting to travel with teens and young adult kids. It works well because it removes the necessity for everyone to participate in the same activities, and adhere to the same wake up times and meal times. We can all come and go as we please and still end up spending plenty of time together. EMBARKATION - Very smooth. Since we live on Long Island, we simply took the Long Island Railroad into Penn Station and then a short cab ride (2 cabs in our case due to having 7 people) over to the Pier. We could easily have walked if not for the luggage. If you do this, leave from the 8th Avenue exit of Penn (runs uptown) and tell the driver to leave you off at the corner of 12th and 49th, as it can be a waste of time (with the meter running!) to sit in the traffic entering the pier. The Latitudes check in line is considerably shorter, so don't forget to look for it if you are entitled to use it. We had done the on line check in, so it was quick considering we had multiple cabins and various family members using several different credit cards for shipboard accounts. We did get a little "attitude" from the woman managing the line who wanted us to spit up and go to two different check in agents at the counter. We know from experience that splitting invariably results in mistakes that we end up having to straighten out later, so we all stuck with one agent. To be fair, the woman may not have realized we were a single family. We were onboard by 12:30 (alas, I spotted no champagne greeters) and went directly to the Venetian for lunch, as other posters had advised. They do steer everyone firmly towards the buffet for some reason. The crew man welcoming us aboard went so far as to tell me that the Venetian was not open. I told him politely that I preferred to check anyway. Sure enough, the Venetian was open and is, indeed, a far better lunch option than joining the hoards at the buffet. Anticipation was high and we had a lovely lunch, admiring the pretty room. The chilled banana mango cream soup was a stand out. CABIN - Since it was past one o'clock when we finished lunch, we headed for our cabins. No announcement had been made yet but our cabins were ready and we were pleased with them. The bathrooms were actually the best we've had so far on any cruise; surprisingly big shower with a glass door and a big magnifying mirror built into the main mirror. (Nice to know if you wear contact lenses.) The storage in the bathroom and cabin was very adequate for 2 to 3 people and the rooms were clean and nicely appointed with attractive wood trim. There is a safe and and a fridge in each room and the fridges are actually nice and cold, which is an improvement over the pretty useless ones we've had on other cruises. We did have two dislikes relative to the cabin. First, if you are using the fourth bed, the configuration is awkward and results in the loss of both night tables (no place to put your glasses or an alarm clock). Other ships we had been on had two upper and two lower berths in their quads. The Dawn has an upper and lower on one side of the room and just a lower berth on the other side. The fourth bed slides out from under one of the lower beds and pops up between the two lowers, creating 3 beds with no space at all between them. It wasn't as bad as we thought at first, but it does make it difficult to get out of bed without disturbing others and it's annoying to have to get out of bed to see what time it is in an inside cabin. Had I known in advance, I would have brought along a clock with a large enough illuminated dial to be seen from across the room. A suggestion for NCL: (I hear they read these things.) RCI ships have one channel on the TV that is simply a large, dimly lit clock that can be easily seen all night from the beds. Its a great feature and probably hardly costs them a cent. I know the Dawn is just about to get the bedding upgraded. Several of us found the present mattresses pretty hard. After the first night we also asked the cabin steward for "regular" pillows, as the oversized square ones provided proved too high and big to sleep on comfortably. The "real pillows" were promptly and cheerfully provided. SHIP - The Dawn is truly a beautiful ship. I was pleasantly surprised to find the decor colors, although quite bright, fun, appealing and not overdone. The atrium is lovely and there is almost always very pleasant live music there. The Java Bar and Salsa, both in the atrium, provide very pleasant places to sit and people watch. The cinema and the library and the internet cafe were all a cut above the norm and the card/game rooms were pleasant and quiet without the usual sense of isolation thanks to large expanses of glass. We also liked the stadium seating in the Stardust Theatre and around the pool and the fact that the pool was conveniently located with food and drinks available at both ends with no great hike involved. I do have to say I found the Dawn to be one of those ships that's a bit hard to learn your way around on. Lots of dead ends and areas where you must go to one floor to access part of another floor. Still, wandering around a cruise ship is hardly a terrible burden, lol. Afterall, there is food and a frozen cocktail around many of those wrong turns :) We loved the atmosphere on the Dawn - lively without being frantic and relaxing yet never boring. No megaphones at the pool, thank goodness, and no "announcement happy" Cruise Director on the loudspeaker too often. On one of our previous cruises the CD had a very "in your face" style and seemed to fancy herself some sort of minor celebrity. Pedro's style was much more to our liking. Several people have mentioned on these boards how nice the musical atmosphere is on the Dawn - lots of varied live music in public areas throughout the ship. We definitely agree. When strolling or lingering over coffee or a drink, the music definitely lends an air of "relaxed good cheer" for lack of a better term. There is a slight downside to it though, if you are in search of quiet during the daytime. Even when areas like the Spinnaker are unused, there is piped in music that is loud enough to be distracting if you've hoped to curl up on one of those nice sofas with a good book for awhile. On previous cruises DH and I had always enjoyed the promenade for quiet conversation and reading. It's shaded and away from the noise up on the pool deck. We were disconcerted to find that there are NO deck loungers or even chairs on the Dawn's promenade. We had never encountered that before and were disappointed. If a disco is important, you should also be aware that the Dawn lacks one. DH and I hardly noticed this, but our 2 older kids felt the lack late in the evenings. The new theme parties do go a long way to make up for this, though. The Dawn has a very good gym and an absolutely heavenly spa with a warm tranquil indoor pool, a Thelassotherapy pool, hot tub and a (limited) number of cushy loungers facing aft looking out over the wake through floor to ceiling windows. Easily my favorite place on this ship!!! ACTIVITIES/ENTERTAINMENT - We're not much for organized daytime activities so I can't comment on them except to say that there seemed to be a nice selection of varied stuff to do in the dailies. We did go to one and enjoyed it. It was a Memory Improvement Seminar. We do like the evening shows a great deal, especially the main ones in the Stardust Theatre. We thought Bollywood and South Beach Rave were excellent and Band on the Run was fine. The Welcome Aboard show the first night was a bit weak - too much talking and not enough "show" except for the first act. The magician was entertaining and we really enjoyed Sasso, the comedian. Very funny guy and personable too. I know Second City gets very mixed reviews. My husband enjoyed it very much but I found it very boring. I think it's because he appreciates the talent involved in improv whereas I prefer the sort of thing with sets and costumes. Very nice cinema on the Dawn but the movies always seemed to not work out for us time-wise. I do wish they would have run them more frequently. SERVICE/FOOD - We found the crew unfailingly cheerful, friendly and helpful. If you are looking for special treatment and fawning I think you will find fault with all the mass market cruise lines. Everyone we came in contact with was doing his or her job efficiently and had a pleasant manner. We're not high maintenance so that's fine with us. One evening there was a mix up in seating us at dinner and the head steward immediately stopped by our table to explain, just on the off chance we were upset. The front desk was very patient and very responsive to any sort of problem. Towel animals appeared and rooms were made up and turned down quickly. We were very happy with the service on all levels. We also enjoyed the food, both in the main dining rooms and at the buffet. I liked everything I was served. We love that NCL always has some Indian food on the buffet. The ice cream and soups were particularly good and I saw some really nice cuts of meat being carved even on the buffet. Eggs Benedict was very good. The french toast at breakfast was a stand out. Beef Wellington was the very best thing I had all week - melt in your mouth perfect steak. The only negatives were that the danish have always been out in the air too long and, of course, the scrambled eggs are awful, as they are on every ship buffet. Plenty of fresh fruit was always available and the vegetables offered were truly good, except for the potatoes for some reason. Overall, the food was interesting, varied and nicely presented. We tried Salsa on our last evening and loved it. One of our sons went to Impressions with friends and reported that he was a bit disappointed. KIDS/TEEN CLUB - Our two teens did register but there were only about 35 teenagers on this cruise as it was not a school break. Therefore, for no fault of the staff, there just wasn't usually enough attendance for the organized teen activities on this cruise. Nevertheless, the teens who were onboard did manage to find each other pretty quickly. Although we have no small kids of our own anymore, we did see the kids' staff leading groups of little ones through various areas of the ship several times and they always looked like they were having a blast. They'd be dressed up like pirates and singing songs as they walked along. Very cute! The kids/teens/arcade area of the ship looked very good, especially the T-Rex kids' pool. The kids also had their own child-sized buffet area within the main buffet, which was well used and very convenient for parents. SHORE EXCURSIONS - We didn't do any organized shore excursions as Bermuda is very much a place better enjoyed on your own, in my opinion. We rented scooters from Oleander for the full three days and the fun we had on them was a very important part of our trip. We were able to get off the ship by 8 AM the first day and were down at the South Shore Beaches shortly thereafter. We took a walk starting at Horseshoe Bay and continuing along through Chapin, Stonehole, Jobson's Cove and Warwick Long Bay. Beautiful walk but, since it wasn't much of a day for swimming (very strong wind!) we had time to continue on to the Botanical Gardens. I'm an avid gardener so I expected to really enjoy the Gardens but I have to say it's pretty skippable and would be unbearable in the summer heat and humidity I suspect. We took Harbor Road back up to the West End, taking some back road detours just for fun. Whichever roads you choose Bermuda is unfailingly scenic, so getting there was always half the fun. We returned to the ship for dinner, planning to attend a tour of private homes and gardens in the early evening and then Harbor Night in Hamilton. It turned out the Harbor Night was cancelled due to the high winds, though. The next morning we took the ferry to Hamilton (you can take scooters on the Hamilton ferry, but not on the one to St. George) and then rode through town (a bit hairy what with driving on the left in traffic) and up the hill to Fort Hamilton. I recommend this stop highly. Nice view and interesting underground tunnels combined with a very pretty walk through what used to be the moat. The moat is dry and full of tropical plants with a path meandering around it. Very nice way to spend and hour or so. I liked the jungle in the moat better than the Botanical Gardens. We continued on the North Road (some breathtaking views!) out to Saint George. Stopped by the Unfinished Church and Tobacco Bay and then looped around the Alexandra Battery in search of the rumored "sea glass cave". We found it easily, right where others had told us (follow the sea wall between the beach and the battery to the rocks where it ends - the cave is right in the back of the rocks). We were in luck, as it was low tide, and easily scooped up several quart sized baggies of very nice beach glass for my husband's collection. We stopped to take pictures in a moongate across from the beach and then continued our loop back into the town of St. George. We walked around the shops a bit, stuck ourselves into the stocks and all that, and then had lunch at the White Horse Tavern. By happy coincidence, we ran into our oldest son at the White Horse. He had slept in and just come over by ferry with a group he'd met onboard the ship. I had heard that there are underground limestone caves you can actually swim in at the Grotto Bay Resort. Right after lunch we went to check those out and we thought they were really special and well worth seeking out. There are two of them, quite large and just as pretty as Crystal Caves, which we'd already seen on our last trip to Bermuda. The water is cold but crystal clear and swimming in a cave is a pretty cool experience. Our next stop was Bailey's Ice Cream, located right across the road from the Swizzle Inn. I'd like to have stopped in but rum swizzles and scooters don't mix well, so we went for the ice cream instead. Bailey's gets very high marks - homemade and lots of great flavors to choose from. I had the Bailey's Irish Cream and it was fantastic. While we were enjoying our ice cream the skies clouded over and it started to rain pretty heavily. We waited it out for awhile but then donned our trusty dollar store ponchos and rode through it all the way back to Hamilton. The storm, accompanied by some very strong winds, made that ride into what is sure to become a classic in the annals of our family memories, lol. Needless to say, we opted for the shortcut and took the ferry from Hamilton the rest of the way back to the Dockyard. We spent our final day in Bermuda swimming in Jobson's Cove, which was idyllic. We took the road up to the Gibbs Hill lighthouse on the way back. This proved to be another very worthwhile stop. We also stopped for awhile at Scaur Hill Fort and I very much enjoyed the small butterfly garden I found there. (It's down on the hillside by the old rail trail.) Hundreds of butterflies and morning glories the size of saucers. We had left ourselves a little time for souvenir shopping (bought rum cakes and Christmas tree ornaments) back at the Dockyard. We turned our rental scooters in with small pangs of sadness and headed back to the ship for sailaway. Once of the nice things about a cruise is that even when you leave your destination you still have a sea day or two to look forward to. I also want to mention that the people at Oleander are not only friendly and efficient - they are honest too. One of our daughters left her wallet (containing credit cards and $200 in cash!) in the scooter compartment. When she realized the mistake and called their office, they told her not to worry because they had found it and were holding it. DEBARKATION - Since we live in NY and had no flight to catch, I took the advice of other cruise critic members and we spent our last morning aboard relaxing rather than standing around in the long lines snaking through the ship. We chose the luggage tags that would be called last, checked everything but two tiny carry ons, had a relaxing breakfast in one of the main dining rooms and then sat out on the pool deck until our color was called. It was past 11 when we were called, we were almost the last ones off the ship and it great to relax on deck for another couple of hours just as we had done every morning at sea. Actually I had planned to see the 8 AM movie but slept late and would have had to forego that last eggs Benedict to catch the movie. SUMMARY - Beautiful ship, beautiful island, reasonably priced vacation. Seven happy cruisers here! We would be happy to cruise on the Dawn again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Our May cruise on the Dawn had a very interesting start.  In the middle of dinner on our first night a announcement was made that there was a man over board and the ship was going to assist the coast guard on a search and rescue. We were ... Read More
Our May cruise on the Dawn had a very interesting start.  In the middle of dinner on our first night a announcement was made that there was a man over board and the ship was going to assist the coast guard on a search and rescue. We were all very sorry to hear the tragic events for one of our fellow passengers. After several hours of searching with no results our ship continued its journey to Bermuda. Its hard to complain about the cruise when you think about the poor lady who lost her life but these are things you need to know to make your cruise great. This was our first time "free style cruising" and it was great. Eat when you want and the lines were not bad at all. The longest wait for a table in the main dining room was 15-20 minutes.Definately book reservation for the mexican restaurant Salsa. It books up quick and the food is good and its part of the dining program so no need to pay more. We didn't try any of the pay restaurants because the choices for the included restaurants were good. Looking at the crowds no many people went to them either. The mini suites were great. Well worth the money and a good thing because we spent the first 3 days at sea in the room as the seas were so rough. Due to the tragic accident we could not out run a storm and found ourselves right in the middle of it. 20+ foot swells knocked the ship around. Barf bags were all over the ship as people were losing it. A few elderly folks took some bad falls as the ship went side to side. The pool was not open for the first 3 days at sea as the seas were so rough. Great wings at the Blue lagoon I must have had about 100 of them. The soda program is a waste! Sounds good in theory but its so hard to get a soda that you just give up. Its almost impossible to get the staff to get you a soda during dinner. Takes them forever. When you order a soda they ask you "soda program?" when you say yes they give this look like oh crap. In short save yourselves the $50 and don't get the soda card. The buffet was good. They were very quick to keep items fresh. Our room was on deck 11 so it was easy to run up for a bite any time. Activities didn't feel like they were well announced as we missed quite a few. Problem no clocks in the room. Bring your own travel alarm clock. Bermuda get the 2 day bus and ferry pass no need to get the 3 day pass. First day hit Hamilton, second day St George third day stay local at Kings Wharf. Ship- Nice Food-Good Free style- Great Family Friendly- Excellent They have a kiddie buffet Soda program- Stinks Bermuda- Expensive Read Less
Sail Date May 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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