998 Norwegian Dawn Bermuda Cruise Reviews

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
We sailed out of NY May 4th. Embarkation was a breeze. One of my parents uses a wheelchair and everyone was very helpful in getting her taken care of. There was always someone looking out for her and moving her along quickly. Wait time ... Read More
We sailed out of NY May 4th. Embarkation was a breeze. One of my parents uses a wheelchair and everyone was very helpful in getting her taken care of. There was always someone looking out for her and moving her along quickly. Wait time to go on board not very long. There is a long gangway to get on the ship but it was easy to maneuver the wheelchair onto. Champagne waiting when we entered. No nonalcoholic drink offered when you entered though. I had read on the cruise boards to make your reservations right away at the front desk there in the main lobby when we got on. I had no trouble making that nights and the next nights reservation. Really had no trouble getting whatever restaurant we wanted when we wanted it. Cagney's was great. I sent the folks to Le Bistro with the anniversary package and they loved that also. Went to Impressions also and that was good as well. I found that the Bingo was very expensive and the drinks were a little overpriced as well. On the second sea day I found that there was not enough to do. Bermuda was great. Comfortable temperatures the whole time. We went fishing but it was early in the season and not much to offer. Too cold to go swimming. I think I would save Bermuda for the summer months if I were to go again. Entertainment - Dave Heenan was really funny especially in the 18+ show one night. Magician was just okay. Bollywood was okay. THe rest of the production numbers were loud and just okay. The Second City troupe has got to go. I think that was the worst show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Lots of people got up and left. All in all a great cruise and a lovely ship. The layout with the Venetian and Aqua dining rooms was a little confusing as you could not get through on certain decks. Would I sail NCL again? Yes. Loved the not dressing up part. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
NCL Dawn Review 5/18, Kids/Penthouse/Pics Ship: NCL Dawn Date Sailed: 5/18/08 - 5/25/08 Sailed To: Kings Wharf, Bermuda Passengers: 2 adults, 2 boys, ages 6 ½ and 2.75 Room: Penthouse Suite 11030, Starboard Butler: Jeffrey Concierge: ... Read More
NCL Dawn Review 5/18, Kids/Penthouse/Pics Ship: NCL Dawn Date Sailed: 5/18/08 - 5/25/08 Sailed To: Kings Wharf, Bermuda Passengers: 2 adults, 2 boys, ages 6 ½ and 2.75 Room: Penthouse Suite 11030, Starboard Butler: Jeffrey Concierge: Anca (and Maria, Asst Concierge) Seas: Calm, hit "rough" and "moderate" twice but very manageable Meds: Bonine, 1 every 24 hrs for adults, 1 childrens every 24 hrs for 6 ½ year old and 1/3 every 24 hrs for 2.75 year old Penthouse 11030 Pics http://photos.walmart.com/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=30546189/a=10777069_10777069/t_=10777069 This cruise was an Anniversary gift from my parents. It is their 50th wedding anniversary this June and our 10th in September. Due to health considerations for my mother, a vacation out of NYC was ideal. We traveled with our two young sons. Embarkation: For us it was a breeze. We left our home in Northern NJ at 11am and were in the check in area at noon. We met Anca right away and she walked us on personally up that really neat glass gangplank. Another girl showed us to our suite and we hung out there for a while. Being starboard, we saw the hustle and bustle of the port of NYC. Within minutes Jeffrey, our Butler, came by and introduced himself. At precisely 4:00 pm we were moving and on our way. My parents joined us on the balcony to watch the sights go by. The Statue of Liberty was so neat to see being so high up and close. Passing under the Verazanno Bridge was quite bittersweet for us - one of my husbands oldest and dearest friends jumped off the bridge back in April of 2001. Shortly after we were in open water and on our way. Muster drill went well and then we headed off to the buffet for dinner - what a zoo!! Seas were nice and calm for Monday and Tuesday sea days. Monday afternoon we had an unexpected Code Oscar rescue operation where someone spotted a body floating. After about 90 minutes we moved on. It was really neat to see the ship slow to a stop in the middle of the ocean and the crew gear up for a recovery mission. Tuesday overnight into Wednesday morning became rough seas as we got closer to Bermuda. I could tell the seas had changed by the fact I had to steady myself more often but thanks to the Bonine, I never felt queasy or uneasy, neither did my husband. The kids never complained, ate normally and slept like charms. Weather in Bermuda was not so great - it was like gale force winds on Weds and Thurs and overcast but warm. Friday the sun broke out and we spent the morning at Snorkel Park with the kids. In the afternoon my husband and I took the Dockyard Segway tour. It was *awesome!! Lots of fun and a great way to learn about the area. Tidbit of advice - if you want to do that tour, book it direct with Segway on your first day there, it will save you $15. Its $89 if you book thru NCL, $75 if you book with Segway. Can't miss them - go over towards the Bone Fish Grill and look for the bright yellow double decker bus. WE found the food to be very good. For dinner, we went to Venetian twice, Aqua twice, Cagney's once, Garden Buffet once. Breakfast most mornings we ordered in and once we went to Venetian which was really good. Loved the wings at Blue Lagoon. LOVED Salsa, but unfortunately we did not eat there. Went there Saturday night after dinner for a drink (GREAT sangria) and sat at the bar/prep area and watched all the good food go by. Had to have a bowl of Tortilla soup which was awesome, and a flan. Kids Club: Our kids enjoyed it, although we always had "drama" when we dropped them off. This was NOT a function of the Club itself, rather our kids until they got used to the place. My husband and I both work full time and when we go on vacation, our kids just really enjoy spending time with us and often don't want to be separated from us for too long. They were very good about my younger son's food allergies, and we always brought a few snacks for him to have. Everyone knew them by name and were always very friendly. Twice we dropped them there after their dinner and went out to eat ourselves. AB Penthouse: The upgrade to the AB Penthouse was *clearly the highlight. I've heard many people say that the room isn't very important, but those of you with young kids know that it can be very important. The boys had a great little room all to themselves, it was quiet, cozy and dark like a cave. They took 3 hour naps each day and enjoyed the DVD players (If I hear the theme song from Curious George ONE MORE TIME I will scream!!) The jacuzzi tub in the master bath was fantastic - I swear my kids took 2 baths a day because they loved looking at the ocean. The shower, with the floor to ceiling window was amazing - LOVED showering while sailing the seas. The bedding in the master was great, 2nd day they upgraded our mattresses and linens. Storage was plentiful - lots of unused drawers and cabinets and we had a lot of stuff! Having Jeffrey, our butler, was fantastic - he was very conscious of my son's food allergies and was very helpful in making sure he got the right food. Overall thoughts post-cruise: Bearing in mind that we did not have a say in booking this cruise (remind you, it was a gift from my parents) we had a great time. I can't say I'd go out and book another cruise tomorrow - just our opinion - but we surely did make the best out of it. As we always do, my husband and I enjoyed marveling in our surroundings - being amazed by "how they do this", a city on the water! Food, drink, entertainment, hotel, fitness, pools, etc! Amazing all of this is bobbing around in the ocean at any given moment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived on Sunday 4/20 at Noon and we were on the ship at 1:10. Not bad. This was my 3rd NCL cruise, but I have not sailed with them since 1998. My last 6 cruises have been with Carnival. I was looking for a ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived on Sunday 4/20 at Noon and we were on the ship at 1:10. Not bad. This was my 3rd NCL cruise, but I have not sailed with them since 1998. My last 6 cruises have been with Carnival. I was looking for a change from the Carnival scene. I must say I was disappointed. When we first got on the ship we were greeted by champagne. I would have preferred it to have been a map of the ship. If you want one you have to ask for it from the reception desk. If you are traveling with kids the camp seems pretty good for the younger kids. My daughter is 14 and they really didn't have a great program for her age group. I found the scheduled on-board activities to be lame and very few activities offered. We had 2 days at sea and nothing was planned for around the pool where most of the people were hanging out. Maybe this is due to the fact that it is still cool out. I am not sure. Ship: The ship is really pretty. Our room was a nice size, but when they put my daughter's bed down for the evening it would block the access onto the balcony. You had to climb over the bed to go out the sliding glass door. The bathroom setup was nice except if you are a larger adult I could see you having space issues. The door into the toilet area was really narrow. The corridors were single file. I think they were about 3 feet wide at most. The public rooms were kept very clean. Entertainment: The bands were mediocre at best. They band playing in the Spinnaker had a new lead singer who didn't know the words to most of the songs. The Piano players at Gatsbys were all pretty good. The comedian was ok although I think he stole a lot of his material from others. He reminded me of the guy from the last comic standing. I think they called him cave man? Not sure who stole from who but I had a real strong sense of deja vu! The magician was really good. The Guitar player in Pearly Kings was by far the best on the ship. His name was Aaron Noone. Dining: The tables in the Garden Cafe were too close together and every time someone passed behind you or sat behind you they would bump into your chair. The setup of the Garden Cafe was very confusing too. Often the plates were in the middle of the buffet line. The menus were all new so the crew seemed clueless. The freestyle dining was ok. I liked being able to choose when I could go to dinner. Even though they said you could make reservations we were told at the Venetian that they did not take reservations for groups under 6. As a party of 3 we had to wait 30 -40 minutes to get seated if we wanted to eat before 08:00 PM. They also did not enforce the dress code. Every night we would see men and women wearing blue jeans and t-shirts in the dining room. A lot of men wearing baseball caps also. Kids in pajamas. If you are looking for a Filet mignon you will be disappointed. They removed it from the general dining menu. You will have to pay extra at the steak house for that. I missed having the same waiter every night. Overall, the food was ok. Nothing to write home about. A lot of the time it arrived cold. I like being able to sit down and have my drink arrive without having to continually ask for it. So I would put up with being told when to eat. The Blue Lagoon should be avoided if you are in a hurry. We waited 30 minutes to order on 4/25/08 (14:35 Ship time), and another 35 to get our food. My daughter ordered mozzarella sticks that were served to another table and then had to wait another 20 for them to be made again. It appeared they had give staff off and no one knew what to do. They called in reinforcements from the other dining rooms to try and help but they really were not familiar with the menu or the table numbers. They were delivering the food to the wrong tables. Drinks and bars: The drinks are pricey. You will pay more than most ships. A bucket of beer ran about 20 bucks (5 beers). They were running a buy 5 get one free special. But still seemed like a lot for beer. A glass of wine was $7. The cheapest bottle of wine was 25 before the gratuity. They permit 18 year olds to drink with parents permission. According to the ship this is for wine and beer only but we saw a group drinking mixed drinks. I really was turned off by the parents providing alcohol to under age kids (18-20). I am not sure if they even checked the age because one girl even stated to security that she would be 18 in 6 weeks. He didn't seem to care that she was under age. The waiters for the shows were none existent, so if you want a drink bring it with you. The last night we went to see the show and my daughter ordered a soda from the waiter and he never delivered it. Beware the times given on the Program of the day, as I call it. They list that the Blue Lagoon is always open but I found out they close between 04:00 - 05:00. Most of the bars close around 01:00 even though they say whenever. We found that the Pearly Kings pub liked to close around 12:30 - 01:00 regardless of the crowd. Going ashore: The only other thing I want to point out is if they are using tenders leave plenty of extra time. We arrived in Hamilton on Wednesday and they seemed to be confused on how to get people off the ship. They were using the life boats as tenders, and gave out tickets. It seemed really unorganized. It took my family over an hour to get off once they called our ticket number. Once on shore getting around was a breeze. Buy the 3 day pass and just hop on a bus or ferry. If you want a good place to eat we were recommended a restaurant called "the Spot". We did not eat there but the menu seemed reasonable. We were told it is frequented by the locals. Re-boarding the ship in Hamilton took a long time too. We waited about 45 minutes for a tender to arrive at the dock. The following day we had the choice to re-board the ship by 3:00PM for the sail over to the Dockyards or you could meet the ship there. After the experience with getting on and off via tenders we decided to meet the ship in the dockyards. The last ferry from St Georges to the dockyard is at 6:10 PM. Disembarkation: We waited in comfort in the spinnaker lounge the only problem is that the announcements were not broadcast into the lounge so I you had to jump up and run out into the hallway to hear the announcements. They were about 25 -30 minutes behind in letting people off the ship. So pick an earlier time to get off if you need to meet a limo or a ride. My conclusion is that I probably will not sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
This was our 7th cruise, 1st on NCL. Never again. Having sailed only on Holland America, this cruise came as a disappointing shock. LOUD music(?) greeted us and never stopped. Ironically, the captain's voice and instructions could ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise, 1st on NCL. Never again. Having sailed only on Holland America, this cruise came as a disappointing shock. LOUD music(?) greeted us and never stopped. Ironically, the captain's voice and instructions could not be heard over the din. The only quiet place we could find in over 7 days was our own cabin - into which the captain's voice was not projected unless you had the TV on! Oh, the TV. It worked only 2 nights "because we are having trouble with our satellite." "We apologize for the inconvenience." I've never heard that phrase as often as I did last week. We did look forward to watching the ship leave the harbor from the forward lounge. Unfortunately it stank of sewage both inside and out. We tried going back each night and it was the same; one waiter, a few passengers, and an unusable, gorgeous space. Each time we entered, gagged, and left. The ship was filthy; our cabin still reeked of former passengers. Cabinets, drawers, windows all contained handprints of prior passengers. Dust and grease everywhere. Trim on closet cabinetry missing; worn looking frayed furniture. Rubber bath mat was filthy and made entire bathroom stink through out cruise. In 7 days onboard, linen was changed only once; when we requested it. On several days pillows were merely turned over instead of changed. A 12 inch tear on duvet cover; solution? Turn it over! No room service to speak of; either "too busy" "unavailable" "too late" or they simply didn't answer their line. When breakfast did arrive, it was cold, sugar or salt or pepper or cream was missing and had to be requested. Everything felt on the cheap, and we felt resented for requesting ordinary condiments. Coffee arrived in stained, tarnished and dented carafes. Were we in steerage? My husband became our room service, running back and forth to the cafeteria line to bring semi-dry cold food -- and a cup of tea, for which room service was too busy. In Cagney's, with its $20/person surcharge, we were told the steak my husband wanted would cost an additional $10. Total misrepresentation! And drinks through out the ship were exorbitantly priced! Great food in the pricey restaurants, but unadorned, bland, leftovers in the others. At dinner one evening, the lady at the table across from ours began coughing severely. As she continued I realized she couldn't speak and her coughing worsened. I rushed to her table prepared to perform the Heimlich maneuver, but first I took her hand and asked if could talk. She could, but barely, and I stayed with her until the episode passed. She was embarrassed at having made a scene - yet she had definite medical issues which could easily have resulted in tragedy and needed immediate attention. After I had been with her for several minutes, a waiter meekly approached, said nothing, looked helpless, and left before I did. On the last night we went to the talent show to hear a friend play piano. We arrived a bit late and it was dark. The stair railing ended mid-way down the steps. We wanted to be in the first row. I have trouble seeing in the dark but expected an usher with a flashlight. No such thing. Although I was holding my husband's arm, with no arm rail I missed last step and fell, landing on my hands and knees. (Had major hand surgery 3 mos ago) My husband picked me up, no one else to help. FINALLY: I have multiple neurological problems which are not apparent to most; but I have significant balance problems and walk with difficulty. So does my friend, the piano player in the talent show. After he finished he walked slowly off the stage, weaving with stiff legs as he did so. The talent show pointed to him, laughing, saying that he (my friend) must have a few too many before the show! WOW, he said, look at that! That's really bad!! As he laughed he encouraged the entire audience to laugh, too! My talented friend slowly, warily left the stage embarrassed by everyone's laughter. Great fun!!! Some mercy, please! Not all of us consider ourselves disabled, but many of us DO have invisible problems and we all manage these problems as best we can! Overall, the staff was insensitive, rude, sparse, unskilled, unfriendly, and lazy. One last note: on embarkation, guests were met with a glass of champagne! Great move for all the children and non-drinkers! Then, an unescorted free-for-all to the cabins. So it was noisy non-service for the remainder of the week. I overheard someone say NCL stood for NO CLASS LINE. Ditto. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
We took a cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. We left on April 20th and returned April 27th. Myself, my husband and our 2 1/2 year old daughter all went. We left from Manhattan, which was nice. From where we live it was easy to get to ... Read More
We took a cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. We left on April 20th and returned April 27th. Myself, my husband and our 2 1/2 year old daughter all went. We left from Manhattan, which was nice. From where we live it was easy to get to the port, parking was not a problem. For the week it cost $210.00 to park at the pier. Getting on the ship took about 1-1 1/2 hours total. It was not too bad but with a 2 1/2 year old it was a long wait. Once on the ship we went to our room. We booked an inside cabin. It was small, smaller then Carnival or Disney but was clean. For the most part the ship was in good shape. Everything was clean except for the windows. They often looked dirty. The ship was VERY crowded. It was spring break for many school so there were LOTS of children. It was difficult to find a seat at the buffet for lunch or breakfast. Also we had to wait approx. 30 minutes to eat in the main dining rooms for dinner. If you were not in a rush it was not such a big deal but with a 2 1/2 year old it was too much. The food for the most part was fine. We ate in the Venetian, Aqua, Salsa, Impressions and Cagney's. Impressions was fair, Aqua, Salsa and Venetian were good, I'd say Cagney's was the best (but it also cost the most). The buffet was fine for breakfast and lunch but again it was SOOO crowded. My daughter went to the kids program most evenings so we could enjoy a few hours by ourselves. It was usually crowded, but the staff seemed caring. She often cried when we left her but was fine when we picked her up. The kids pool section was nice. She really enjoyed the slide and going into the pool. However, I fell a lifeguard should be on duty there at all times. Many kids were running around, not following directions and being fairly rude. Twice medical staff had to come to tend to a child who was must due to others not following the rules. We did not use the adult pool, most days were chilly. Very few seemed to use the main pool at all. Bermuda was beautiful, although not very warm. The first day and a half we spent outside Hamilton. They needed to tender us to shore. It was a pain, poorly run. We had to wait at least an hour to get on and off the boat to get to Bermuda. There were MANY upset people. By the second day many of the tours were sold out. We decided to take the bus ourselves to Horseshoe Bay Beach. It coast us $10.00 round trip by bus. The bus was staff, reliable and cheap (a great way to see the island). Horseshoe Bay is a public beach. They had bathrooms, food and was free to get into. We only spent about an hour there since it was chilly. The last day we were in the dockyard. It was east to get on and off the ship. They had a free trolly to see the dockyard. It was so beautiful. They had a snorkel park, a shopping area, a museum and some places to eat in the dockyard area. Getting off the ship we did the express disembarkation. So did many others. We waited about 1-1/2 hours to get off the ship. The cruise overall was not bad just crowded, The weather also could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Background Information: Travelled with kids (2 girls ages 11 and 14, 2 boys ages 11 and 14), 2 couples in mid 40s. Half of group were seasoned cruisers on RCCL, Carnival, Holland, Cunard) and other half have never been on a cruise before. ... Read More
Background Information: Travelled with kids (2 girls ages 11 and 14, 2 boys ages 11 and 14), 2 couples in mid 40s. Half of group were seasoned cruisers on RCCL, Carnival, Holland, Cunard) and other half have never been on a cruise before. My first time with NCL (9 RCCL, 3 Carnival, 1 Holland, 1 Cunard) We could have driven to Manhattan port terminal on Sunday morning (April 20th - the Pope was in town this weekend) - our friends did it in 3 hours flat from Shrewsbury, MA. Note - as of April 1st - parking is now $240 for 7 night cruise at the port. We, however, took Amtrak from Prov to Penn Station RT. Taxi to hotel was $15 with tip. The train was fine. Hotel Info: Stayed one night pre-cruise at Millennium Broadway Hotel near Times Square. Excellent location, great price $284 via Travelzoo deal. Front desk service (I believe his name was Tabur?)was excellent and they checked us in early. Had renovated room on 40th floor. Starbucks, Irish Pub, Toys R Us only a few steps from the hotel - literally. Sunday, took taxi to port - I believe it was also around $15-$20. Embarkation - the usual wait and hurry up, cattle call. No one really likes waiting. However, it was well organized and we were onboard by 12:30pm. Ship Info: NCL Dawn is a beautiful well maintained ship. One of the cleanest I have ever been on.I also liked the layout of the pool area much more than any other cruise line. RCCL comes in second in that category. NCL has "stadium" seating facing the pool area - so it is easy to see the hot tubs and the pool if your kids are swimming or walking around getting something to eat or drink. There are also plenty of deck chairs on all levels in different nooks of the ship - people did tend to save seats near the pool -but we somehow managed to find deck chairs when we needed them. Activities/Entertainment: Pedro the cruise director was excellent, entertaining, funny and not annoying. The shows were very good. Comedian was very good, magician very good, Bollywood show was EXCELLENT (Jean Ryan Dance Group - very very talented). One of best I have seen on a cruise ship. Second City comedy troupe - just okay. Plenty of things to do - or not to do. The choice is yours. The usual Bingo, casino, spa, classes (yoga, pilates, napkin folding, sushi making, all kinds of things), wine tastings, beer tasting (which was worth $15 and fun, 5 beers to taste, a trivia quiz with prizes for each team, and some other fun things, and then with your receipt - you get a complimentary beer of your choice when you show it at the Pearly Pub - also have great acoustic guitarist for entertainment in there). Service: overall - not the best. But to be fair, seasoned NCL cruisers said that this cruise was off on service and not the usual great service that they have received on past cruises. I give it a 6 in regards to the restaurants for service. There were a few people who were stellar (Kenneth, Noel and Egbert at the pool area who went above and beyond - I give them a solid 9). Cabin: We had an oceanview on the 8th floor midship-aft. Great location, one floor down was the Blue Lagoon, shopping galleria, Pearly's Pub, the centrum area. 2 floors down was the Venetian. Elevator to 12th floor - right at the Buffet and pool area. Perfect spot overall. Room was clean, enough storage space, excellent professional grade hairdryer, TV was lame and small (they need to upgrade these to larger flat screens), the bathroom was laid out excellent. Toilet in separate area and the shower glass sliding door. Best layout of all cruise ships I have been on (this does not include if you ever stayed in suites, etc - just for inside, outside and basic balcony rooms). Our room stewards - I give them a solid 8. They were like ghosts who did an excellent job of keeping the room clean without you noticing them around - you would go to breakfast and come back 30 minutes or so later - and the room was spotless again. I left extra cash at the start of the cruise and asked about bath robes for the week and some extra little things - all were delivered. Only thing missing was towel animals and perhaps some fun interaction with the kids (which you get on other lines) - but really, does that matter in the long run? Shore Excursions: We were tendered first 2 days in Bermuda and then one day at King's Wharf dock. We decided not to participate in the planned tours. These sold out quickly. We decided to go on our own, bought bus passes (3 days for 2 adults and 1 child cost $70) - well worth it. Taxis are very expensive. The (pink) bus service is excellent, they drive really fast - but still felt safe and convenient - not anything like buses in NYC, Boston, or even any other island I have been on. We visited the Fantasy and Crystal Caves near Hamilton. Very very cool. The stairs in the Fantasy are extremely steep - I do not recommend for kids under 8 or for the elderly if they have trouble walking or anyone with knee, hip issues. The Crystal Caves are more manageable. Wear sneakers or really comfortable shoes too. The Rum Swizzle Inn is outside of the Caves Park - take right out of Caves entrance and right at ice cream parlor, you will see the Swizzle Inn across the street. Great pub food munchies and loved the Rum Swizzles. The residents of Bermuda are extremely nice and very polite - so make sure to say hello or ask questions - they really are friendly and want to be helpful. The weather was also not that great the first 4-5 days of cruise - cloudy, some rain, some sun, in the mid 60s - but even a "lousy" day in paradise is better than a great day in the office :-) The last day in Bermuda was gorgeous though and we went to Horseshoe Bay Beach - it is a MUST SEE. Dining: All food was very good - even the buffet (except for the scrambled eggs - good grief). Bimini above the pool area had awesome burgers and fries...Salsa's - very good tex mex. Venetian and Aqua - kind of boring menus at times - but food was good (but lobster tail was dry). Blue Lagoon cafe was VERY good - comfort foods like meatloaf, chicken wings, fish and chips, potato skins, etc. - open pretty much 24 hours a day. The kids ate there alot. And great pit stop at 3am - haha. Like we need more food. Cagney's's was $25 pp - it was very good. Our friends went to Le Bistro and said the surf and turf were excellent. Impressions Italian - they now also charge $10 pp - we did not go. Teppanyaki was $25 pp extra - I cancelled that one right away - are they kidding me? We can get Teppanyaki - Hibachi at our own Japanese restaurant for that price... Didn't we already pay for meals in the cruise ticket price? Come to find out that almost all the restaurants charge $10-$25 per person (Cagney, Le Bistro, Impressions, Bamboo, Teppanyaki, Sushi (just so-so sushi-don't bother). In fact, I would not be surprised that they tack on a charge to Salsa's next ! Nickel and dimed to DEATH with the food and beverages. A vodka and soda in a small rock glass was $8.00. Are you kidding me? Drinks of the day were $8.95 with a souvenir glass, $6.95 without - but in a smaller glass. You COULD get a refill with the souvenir glass for $6.95, or maybe $6.50, or even $5.95. Sometimes, they would try to charge you the $8.95 again even though you were getting a "refill". My comment on this - is that the prices were inconsistent and sneaky - if you did not look at your receipt carefully - they took advantage. The only deal was the bucket of beers (get 6 for the price of 5). I know you should not have to do this, but probably a good idea that you find a favorite pool bar server, give him or her a great tip to start off your cruise and stick with that person. We were given some cool beer kuzis, a beer opener, etc and great service overall. To be fair, there were SOME drink specials at the Star Bar some afternoons (2 martinis for price of 1)or $4.95 margaritas at Salsa's from 2pm to 4pm, that type of thing. Children's Clubs: Our kids did not participate at all. They thought it was lame. It did not look lame at all. But I find age 11 and up prefer to hang out with their friends, go in the hot tub, pool, play basketball, eat at the buffets and cafes, go to some of the shows, and hang out in the rooms. (The kids clubs are GREAT for age 4 to 10, from my past experiences with my kids.). I felt very safe with my 11 yr old daughter walking around the ship (with the 14 yr old girl, not alone, of course). This was school break vacation for NY and MA and there were a lot of kids on board. But never did I experience any kids or teenagers acting inappropriately or feel overly crowded. Disembarkation - always a mini nightmare in my opinion. If you do Express Debarkation - You can leave at any time you would like with your suitcases off the ship. Either boogie out of there right away or- My advice, if you do this and you don't have to catch a flight - take your time - have a sit down breakfast, head back to the room for a bit to freshen up and bring your bags up to 12th floor- sit by the pool (buffet and bars are open even during debarkation at the pool area). And head out around 10am. Take the elevator near the front of the ship, down to the 7th floor (near the Stardust Theater) and hopefully, if you are lucky like we were - they will have another exit ramp open to disembark. Note that even though they may call colored tags to debark - you have the right to join in that line out of the ship ! You go thru customs - not that bad. Then if you are catching a taxi, it might be quite congested. If you drove your car - awesome. Our friends were out of there in no time at all !! If you did not drive, better off with a limo/car service (they approach you in the terminal). It's worth the $40 to me - to not have to wait, beat the traffic, and get to Penn station or airport or wherever in a less stressful manner. Overall - I give NCL Dawn a 7. If they didn't charge for so many dining venues and the drink prices were more in line with the other cruise lines - I would go on NCL again. But I think RCCL and Carnival overall are a better choice for a family vacation and more reasonably priced overall. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Previous cruises: Carnival Victory, Voyager of the Seas(twice), QM2, Norwegian Spirit, Crown Princess This cruise is our 7th and our first without kids. We took it to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We chose this cruise for a couple ... Read More
Previous cruises: Carnival Victory, Voyager of the Seas(twice), QM2, Norwegian Spirit, Crown Princess This cruise is our 7th and our first without kids. We took it to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We chose this cruise for a couple reasons: 1. itinerary. We absolutely love Bermuda, We had also considered the Explorer of the Seas because we love the Voyager class ships but their itinerary was 5 days with 2 days in Bermuda while the Dawn was 7 days with three in Bermuda. 2. Price. Our TA had a block of rooms reserved at a price no one could match. So cheaper price and more days won out over nicer ship. EMBARKATION: A We arrived at the pier via the New York Waterway Ferry at 11 A.M. Check in was quick and easy. We received a card with our boarding number. Ours was 10. Boarding was scheduled to start at 12:30 P.M. but actually started at 12 noon. Coffee and tea were available while waiting. There was also a hot dog stand which had a long line. This amazed me. I do not understand why people would pay a high price for a hot dog and soda when in a short time enormous amounts of food would be available to them on the ship at no additional cost. Upon boarding our hands were sprayed with sanitizer and we were welcomed with champagne. There was no non alcoholic option for the kids or for those who don't drink. DINING: B We immediately went to the Garden Cafe where the food was plentiful and very basic. It wasn't crowded yet as we were one of the first groups to board. This was the first ship we've been on that actually had a kids buffet built for their height. The Garden Cafe is set up in several sections. One for desserts, one with a carving station , one with a pasta station and one which served as a deli For some reason NCL put the pasta station in the middle of the buffet. since it only served one person at a time this held up the line for all meals. The chef working the station was friendly and patient and the variety of pasta options was good. The daily pizza was also very good. The ice cream on board was of excellent quality but limited in flavors available. when 2.0 is fully implemented there will be soft serve available. Breakfast in the Garden Cafe offered nice variety. we ate breakfast here on port days so we could get off the ship earlier. We also ate many of our lunches here since the dining room menu was not to our liking for lunch. The sail away party at the pool was great with hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and corn on the cob all prepared on huge kettle grills. We had dinner the first night in the Venetian dining room. Although a nice room with large windows it doesn't make sense to have a restaurant in the aft of the ship where you feel the motion while you eat. The food was good and the servers wonderful, but the room was chaotic and noisy. Breakfasts in the Venetian were wonderful. I always had eggs made to order with bacon or corned beef hash, melon, toast and silver dollar pancakes with blueberry compote. My wife always had eggs and grits. She tried the cream of wheat one day but said it was lumpy. We ate our other dinners in the Aqua dining room, mid ship where the motion was less pronounced and the service more organized. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants. We thought about Impressions but they just added a fee for this cruise. The food was always good but the choices were limited. The baby shrimp cocktail was OK but more like the old jarred seafood cocktail my mom bought when I was a kid. The other cruise lines I've been on offered better choices and quality. We also had lunches (and late night snacks) at Blue Lagoon. This small venue on the starboard side of deck 7 offers comfort food like wings, burgers and fries, fish and chips, tuna melts, mac and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly. You can eat inside or on the promenade. It can be a busy place. We ate there several times ordering several items each time and they always would forget one item. The food here was very good and is available 24 hours. A word about Freestyle dining. Unless you like to wait, go to dinner early. Also there are limited options for no charge restaurants. the Norwegian Spirit has a better system with electronic screens showing wait times and pagers for those waiting. One women we talked to in line at Aqua on the 4th day asked us what the charge was. When we told her there was no charge she looked shocked. She thought all the restaurants had a charge and had paid the previous 3 days to eat at the specialty restaurants. Personally i prefer traditional. Princess has a good idea offering traditional or "personal choice". CABIN: B We had an Ocean View Cabin on Deck 5 two doors down from the mid ship elevators and stairs (cabin 5608). This gave us easy access to Aqua on deck 6 and going ashore from deck 4. While people returning to the ship were waiting for elevators, we could just walk one flight up. Normally we would get a balcony but because our TA had such a good deal on this category cabin we took it. This worked out well since the weather probably would not have allowed us much use of a balcony. The cabin itself was adequate with good storage and a comfortable bed. Compared to other cruises we've been on, this cabin was more like Motel 6, adequate and functional but nothing special. The shower was nice. Our steward, Edwin was always helpful and friendly. First thing we had him do was put the beds together. He also provided towel animals each night, the cutest being a mouse made from a washcloth. About an hour after arriving at our room room service dropped by with a gift from our TA, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. They were wonderful! MEET AND GREET: C I was looking forward to this. There were about 50 people on our roll call but less than 10 showed up. I enjoyed meeting those who did come. NCL provided danishes, juices, coffee and tea. We had a chance to talk with the head of food services and with the person responsible for fleet wide implementation of Freestyle 2.0 SHOWS: B For the most part the shows were typical cruise shows with singing and dancing. The comedian was lame. We missed the magician. Bollywood was fantastic. These dancers were incredible gymnasts. We liked having the indoor movie theater and watched National Treasure and 27 Dresses. We can now cross those off our Netflix list! ACTIVITIES: C Limited. There seemed to be less to do on the Dawn than any I've been on. There was one pool table on deck 12 which was taken out of service for the last 3 days of the cruise. There were 2 ping pong tables, a huge chess board, shuffleboard, a small basketball court, jogging track and a cage for golfing. We also used the well equipped gym. The Dawn has a reading room, a game room, which was always crowded, a library and an internet cafe where the speed was pretty good. Card readers were available in case you want to send pictures back home. Price was expensive compared to other ships -- 75 cents per minute. it was cheaper if you bought a bulk plan and on Friday night they offered 2 hours at half price. There were also very few announcements which is what I like. For my wife and me there is nothing better than sitting in a lounge chair on the promenade reading a book. We don't need a lot of activities. Unfortunately due to high winds and rough seas most days we were able to sit on the promenade only on our last sea day. The other days we sat up in Salsa which had comfortable tables and chairs looking out over the ocean. NCL also needs more chairs on the promenade. There were only about 8 on each side and some were broken. WEATHER: B Cool, cloudy, windy with rough seas. Some people got sick. We did not. We actually enjoyed being rocked to sleep at night. One night while anchored in the Great sound outside of Hamilton we heard a large bang. It seems as if the Bermudian, a ferry being used as a tender Got caught up in a wave and banged into the ship. The front railing of the ferry was broken off and a small scratch and paint were left on the Dawn. Our last sea day offered moderate seas and was the calmest by far. POOLS: B Unfortunately the weather did not allow for swimming although some of the kids used the outdoor pools and hot tubs. I did not like the fact that the Dawn has a pool side casino. The chairs in the pool area have plastic flags you put up if you want to order a drink. Otherwise, the servers don't bother you. My wife and I enjoyed using the spa pool which was indoors aft and never too busy. Hot drinks and coffee were provided along with cookies, There were cushioned lounge chairs looking out over the back of the ship. Changing rooms, robes and towels were provided. We went to the spa every day. On some days the pool became a wave pool with splashing waves that actually hit the ceiling!! It wasn't until the last day that we read in the Freestyle Daily that the spa pool cost $20 per day or $140 per week per couple. No one ever asked us to pay but if they did we probably would have since it really was a highlight on the ship and we enjoyed it so much. KID'S PROGRAM: B My wife and I were traveling without kids for the first time. We did hear that there were 850 pre teens on board (it was a school vacation week) and that the kid's staff was somewhat overwhelmed. We never noticed the kids being a problem. In fact, except for the Garden Cafe, the ship never felt crowded BERMUDA: A+++ Wonderful as ever. Partly sunny this first day. Those taking excursions got a special ferry tender from the ship at 8 A. M. I'm glad we did because there was lots of confusion for others leaving the ship. the tendering process was confusing as you had to first get a tender ticket and then wait until your group number was called. On our first day we took the Trolly Ocean Discovery Tour. The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute was excellent. You don't have to take an excursion to visit. It is located about 15 minutes on foot outside of Hamilton. After the tour we ate a a local restaurant called the Lobster Pot. I had a scrumptious fried fish sandwich while my wife enjoyed a lobster/crab cake sandwich. The food was great and priced nicely but the lemonade was expensive costing half the price of our meal!. In Bermuda gratuities are automatically placed on the bill. we also walked along Front Street in Bermuda and visited Par La Ville Park which is just beautiful. We had no trouble getting a tender back to the ship since they were running back and forth regularly as they filled. We had hoped to go back in the evening for a street festival that is held every Wednesday, but the festivals don't start until April 30, the week after our trip. On our second day, which was cloudy, we tendered in and (no problems getting a tender ticket or getting off the ship). The waters were rough and we went through a rainstorm (the only rain we had while in Bermuda). Several got sick on the rough waters. Once in Hamilton the rain had stopped. We took a bus from Hamilton to St. George via the north shore. The bus ride in itself was like a tour with beautiful vistas. Transportation is easy and inexpensive. For $12 we had an unlimited pass for the ferries and buses that day. you can also buy 3 day passes. St. george is a quaint colonial town with a number of sights. It was less crowded after the Norwegian Majesty left at noon. We visited St. Peter's church, the town square, the perfumery and the unfinished church. We also walked to Tobacco bay beach and Fort St. Catherine, which is closed for renovations). At the bus station in St. George we were able to by the New York Post and USA Today. Special newspapers from around the world are available on the ship, delivered to your stateroom at $3.95 each per day. Too rich for me. RCCL and Princess always printed a digest of the NY Times at no cost. We tendered back to the ship for the sail away to the Dockyard. After dinner we spent the evening walking around the dockyard and dropping g in at Snorkel Park On the third day in Bermuda, a bright and sunny day, we took the Easy Rider Bike excursion. This took us to to places we had not seen before as we biked local roads and the Bermuda Railroad pathway. It was easy to do, informative and very well run. We rode about 7.5 miles. Helmets, and water were provided along with a ferry ride back to the ship. This was probably the best excursion we've taken in our 3 trips to Bermuda. After a quick lunch onboard we went out to Snorkel Park It was windy and the water was too cold so after a brief time we went to the clock tower mall before setting out our beach towels in a park near the mall where we spent the rest of the afternoon resting. Soon it was time to return to the ship for the sad fact of sail away and the trip home. After the evening show we went to the Chocoholic Buffet, which was really nothing special. We were rocked to sleep by the roughest seas of the trip. THE SHIP ITSELF: B The Dawn, built in 2002 is a clean and functional ship. It has all the basics: pools, casino, lounges, restaurants, theater, etc. but there really is nothing special about it. There was no WOW factor. There was nothing that would draw us back other than price or itinerary. It was a good basic ship that provided a good cruise experience. For the same itinerary I would gladly go on the Dawn again. Otherwise I would choose another line. The Norwegian Spirit has better amenities and character. One thing we noticed was the smell of vanilla. It was always present in the theater and used as aroma therapy throughout the ship at times when people might otherwise get upset. We noticed it in the lounge when lining up for tender tickets and in all the stairwells when disembarking on the last day. THE CREW: A The crew on this ship was outstanding. They provided excellent service, were always friendly and helpful. We had some confusion with the staff at the excursion desk double booking us on tours on consecutive days, but they resolved the problem well with no hassle. The only real issue was that none of this crew had ever been to Bermuda and could not answer basic questions about the port. This was the Dawn's first trip to Bermuda. NCL has been sailing to Bermuda for years and should have had some people knowledgeable about Bermuda transferred from other ships to help. DISEMBARKATION: A This is where freestyle stands out. if you can carry your own luggage you can walk off the ship anytime after immigration clears it. If not, you can choose your color tag depending on when you want to get off. On the last day NCL runs early morning movies and has the pool open. you can leave at your leisure as long as you do so by 10:45 A.M. We got up early the last day to watch the ship come into New York harbor. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Venetian. As we passed Ground Zero the music switched from the normal background music to Sinatra singing "New York, New York". The rest of the way was all Sinatra. We docked at exactly 8 A.M., as expected. Everything on this ship was always right on time. When we left New York we started pulling out at exactly at 4 P.M. on the dot. Of all my cruises, this was the only one that left on time! At 9 A.M. we went to our cabin to get our luggage and join the line of people using express checkout. More than a third of those on the ship were using this option. As we walked to the back of the line a second gangway was opened and we walked off the ship with no waiting. We were off the ship by 9:15, caught the 9:30 ferry to Weehawken and were home by 10:10 basking in the memories of a fun week at sea. All in all a very fine week... and i only gained 5 pounds! For pictures visit http://web.mac.com/pekrause/Site/Norwegian_Dawn_to_Bermuda.html Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
This is 3 pages from the best cruise out of 27 taken by us. So enjoy the read: Up at 3AM to pack dress & get to airport for 6AM flight. Continental was very welcoming, took luggage as computer stated & gave us coupons for a FREE ... Read More
This is 3 pages from the best cruise out of 27 taken by us. So enjoy the read: Up at 3AM to pack dress & get to airport for 6AM flight. Continental was very welcoming, took luggage as computer stated & gave us coupons for a FREE cocktail. Plane was a sell out to Newark, no one on Dawn's cruise that we talked to. Arrived in Newark at 7:20AM, got out luggage which arrived quickly & proceeded to get a call to Super Shuttle that we are there for pickup. 8 minutes til a man with our name on a sign arrived. So we got in with another couple that he picked up at their home in NJ. To the terminal we go & porters take luggage & we go inside. Delightful ladies welcome us, ask if we are on Dawn to Bermuda which we said Yes! Then they tell us to have seats next to the other couple & we are the first 2 boarding in 3 hours. So the 4 of us sit, get jokes from the gals who learn the 4 of us are Latitude members but the point to the coffee & coffeecake coming out or us to enjoy that the upstairs area has none & we board before them. So OJ, coffee, hot water for tea & date nut or vanilla coffeecake, which was quite good. Then more people arrive and have a seat after being told that the seats are in order for boarding, so do not leave or you lose your place. Then we see a group of folks joining us from a transfer from JFK. The room is filling with 1000 seats there. Time to board after the suites & top Latitude members board, which we counted about 30. Then up & inside we go with our tickets, credit card & passports and instant purple cards are given to us. We are told to go right with the suite folks for lunch. That got us into an elevator, we saw no champagne being passed out, no escort at 11AM but we are headed to 6 as we pushed for Venetian. The doors are closed as they open at NOON, so we go for a walk up the stairs there & see The Galleria (general store that is tax/duty free), Bamboo, photo gallery, and the Stardust Theater so back we go to the open door & a lovely gal greeting us. We get a table for 2 at the windows AFT and what a lovely restaurant that feels like Venice Italy. The paintings, the lighting fixtures which resemble cactus seen in Bermuda, the gold mirror tiles on the ceiling and the mirrors that are gold tone on the walls. Green chairs with white tablecloths make for a great wake up for the colored carpet with a blue background. We had shrimp stir fry, brandy creme brulee & cappuccino. We never found a free machine anywhere on Dawn & we told we can buy it at Java Cafe. But it is free in the dining rooms for lunch & dinner & it is the best I have ever had. After lunch we got in the elevator & went to 11 & the big door was open so we went to the 5th door next to a suite (with 2 numbers atop the doorbell). Big bed with white duvet, white pillow cases & white sheet. Balcony had 2 loungers that were missing the leg area & a small table. Then the counter with safe at the top, 14" TV to the right, the fridge which Jerry & his partner who we barely saw came in with a fruit bowl with 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 orange for the 2 of us. We heard that we are to get a FRUIT BASKET. So Jerry doubled it with green apples not red. He cleared out the fridge & top of cabinet & gave us a bottle of water for FREE. Our liter of Finlandia Vodka was there with the ice bucket & glasses on a mirror tray. That was atop a 2 seater table that one of will not fit into unless we can move the coffee table. But we never used it so no problem, as it was good for storage of everything for the day. So luggage showed about 4, so we were unpacked & ready for dinner at 5:30PM at Venetian. Very tiny shrimp cocktail, an excellent blueberry soup with whipped cream in the center, excellent salad of 5 lettuces, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and a very thick blue cheese dressing. Then the roast pork that melted in your mouth with double stuffed potatoes. We saw the Executive Chef making the rounds to know everything was very good. We were impressed. Then cappuccino for me Latte for Jerry & ice cream that was very creamy & a cookie pushed in it. We both are quite pooped, so back to our Mini we went & I hit the tub for a soak & Jerry notices that the Daily we have is very small print when the Special Needs Dept had called us to confirm LARGE PRINT Dailies & Menus for Jerry. So a call to the C/S folks got a gal up to us who asked how large & he drew the size. An hour later she is back with a 10 page daily for him. That is Service!!!! And every day at 4PM it showed under the door. Jerry hits a long shower to relax & we both just layed in bed to listen to the CNN news & we both fell asleep & CNN disappeared. 12 hours of sleep with the great rocking feature of cruising & that is what we call rest & relaxation. MONDAY: We awake, shower & dress and Jerry has the daily with items circled with the great set up of chronological order of what is happening from Morning, Afternoon & After Dark. Breakfast at Venetian with the best Eggs Benedict ever on a cruise and 2 pieces of french toast on the side. That was my daily breakfast & I love that they leave the carafe of coffee on the table. So 9AM to the casino for the Spin to Win slot machine after showing our CAS cards (also purple) to the guy. NOTHING! So onto NCL U lecture on digital photography, and we were surprised as they were meeting the other couple from the Cruise Terminal. He is a lecturer & wife is his Assistant. They get a 4th floor inside for his work and they are Bermuda for 2 months, then off for a month & onto Panama Canal & S America in February which we may do also. Then at 11AM Cruise Rewards has a champagne party which we meet Candace the Cruise Consultant & her assistant Edward. 2 very nice, very friendly people who know their job very well. We signed up for the $250 deposit to be used for our next cruise & instantly $100 credit shows on your bill. You also get a list of goodies for Cruise Rewards members. Bamboo is BOGO meal for once during the cruise, that was for next night for us. Now they have a drawing for $20 casino credit for slots & BINGO it is my number!!!! Candance hears me say "what a great birthday present" and tells everyone to sing to me. 2PM was Second City with "Before They Were Stars" with videos of various SC performers from Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, to 30 Rock's Tina Fey. 2 guys new to the troupe presented it & told of their excitement working in Chicago & Las Vegas with the troupe of 8 members in each location. When we returned to the mini there is a card & bottle of Chardonnay (El Terra) on the table. The card states to bring it to the dining room that night for dinner, so the bottle & the card went with us. The greatest waiter ever named St Hugh from Jamaica was a show in himself with us. He tells us what is the best on the menu and this was DRESS UP OR NOT night and I am in NCL Tux shirt & shorts & Jerry in dockers & polo as were many others. A sea day is a restful day or get educated day on NCL. So after dinner & with my cappuccino a large piece of cake for both of us and we are surrounded by all the waiters & an Officer in navy blue dress uniform with gold bands. Whipped dream with raspberries between the layers and HB in sugar quite solid on the top. What a great celebration of another year for me. So it is MONTE CARLO NIGHT with every NCL employee in the tux TShirts which Jerry bought for me to wear also. Great drinks, cashed in my $20 prize which was quite different. You pick any slot that has the circular logo on it & insert the card, press 2 for game, 1 for prize & 1,2,3,4 for pin & $20 credit & that is the slot machine you play. No cashing out of you lose it all. I am told a lady won $970 the last cruise on the machine with the $20 prize, but it just ate it fast for me. Now they have a champagne tower with every lady pouring champagne from the magnum into the top glass. Took an hour to fill so everyone got one. Then girls in their tux shirts show with Las Vegas showgirl headpieces dancing around what looked like Hawaiian style. Then the guy get going with with bottles & shakers up in the air and dancing around. TUESDAY: Another 11 hours but now I am being stabbed by a spring. Dear Jerry, the steward got some padding for the bed which made it OK. Our next door neighbor was commenting on the omelet man as well as the waffle man upstairs, so we head to the meal stations which is still buffet style but an area for omelette's to be made while you wait as well as waffles. Both men we delightful with jokes & clues on good stuff to do in Bermuda. One commented on the loss of the dining for $5 or $10 onboard purchase to go to restaurants on the island. He loved doing it with friends. Both told us Hamilton's Castle with the moat to walk thru is amazing. They even knew the streets to walk to get there. Breakfast was a surprise there, but that was it was long lines the rest of the cruise. Jerry found a guy at the end who has English muffins being toasted fresh for you with toppings. Orange marmalade for me...... At 9:45AM we are back in NCL U with "Get the Picture" followed by another guy with "Destination: Bermuda, it Origins". Sure better than the shopping guy's talk. We lasted 5 minutes with him. Other than souvenirs for workers for Jerry & our bird sitter who loves jewelry I get her, that is it for shopping for us. Lunch again at Venetian, I just love the place as does Jerry. St Hugh is always looking out for us. He makes our meals with his jokes. He also knows what to suggest to us to get & sometimes 2 different items per person. Today I am having all the appetizers since the meals do nothing for me. I had cold Asian noodles that were clear with chicken & veggies diced teeny tiny in it with a sauce that was no too good. So our St Hugh took it & had them rinse it off & put sweet & sour in it, BOY WAS THAT GOOD! SO I had 2! Russian Borscht (Beet soup), shrimp and mussels and something else. Jerry had a cheese steak sandwich which he ate with a fork & knife it was so messy but delicious. But the fries were pretty dry, so he would not have them again. Now he gets a fried mashed potato which St Hugh loves. So that was a must for the rest of the cruise. Even for me who hates potatoes. After dinner we learned that I had a MAJOR LOSS; that 5PM was ladies night in casino with $10 free slot play for 5 points on your card. That was worth $1000 of play with the crazy rates they are using. $167 per point for VP & $120 per point for slots. Works on nickels also, but over 2000 plays to get a point. Pull your card out before you get a point & all that play is lost. When one of the casino staff saw me getting ready to leave with 120 to go & told me not to pull out mycard. Play it to -0- before you pull it out. I yelled for $5 to get the points. We had a point a night basically. The smoke gets to you & the machines were so cold. So for 3 nights of casino we got 3 points each. Now we were to have a joint account. So if that is 3 total, then the average is twice what I quoted. Onto the Stardust Theater for BAND ON THE RUN & this was such a great show compared to others we have seen on RCCL, Celebrity, Carnival & Princess. Jean Ann Ryan sure knows her talent since her 2 shows were incredible. We were about 12 rows up, and the folks selling instant win strips for half an hour before the show was a bit aggravating. Very few cocktail pushers. A guy behind us won $5 after spending $25. WEDNESDAY: Up at 8am to get breakfast at Venetian & off the ship we went with a few other folks that early. What a great city, with beautiful buildings from the 1800's and others that need repair but do not look like they are interested. Liked the city, met some great people there who are so proud of their very clean island. Wish the USA was... So we walked a good 20 blocks by 20 blocks and went back to the ship to learn lunch was OVER at Venetian. So buffet gets us with a great pasta station with 8 different pastas to choose from and 10 containers of items to fry in the pan & then you choose the sauce you want from Alfredo to Boulanaisse which I took with everything on it & double Italian sausage. That was a major meal. The Galleria was having a $15 shop inside with the same jewelry that RCCL & Celebrity has in their shop. So a great CZ necklace & earrings for our friend taking care of our African Grey & our home. Rum cake for us to munch on at home. Then we met the Reservationist for balconies + and she got us into Salsa that night at 5:30PM. So we had the great Il Popo which is a big metal structure with metals fingers ticking out that beef & chicken is stuck to. Excellent salsa with homemade chips til the showpiece meal arrived. You get plate of pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa, jalapeños, etc to go with it. This was a meal! And it is FREE....... "South Beach Wave" was the show in the Stardust but I was ready for bed, forget the soaking in the tub, I was out before Jerry got out of the shower. THURSDAY: Today we leave for Hamilton at 9AM and the sky is quite dark. It rained last night as the balcony & loungers have puddles. SO off to Venetian for breakfast & down to get Blue tickets for the tender which was a ferry that carries 700 folks. We can see the anchor is out & heard it in the restaurant which is AFT, so that is some chain. We are told that the waves may carry the ship around the anchor so folks in staterooms all get the view of Hamilton & islands surrounding it. We are told to look for the buoys that mark sunken ships, planes & the coral that can damage a ship badly. We saw some coral that was quite colorful. Amazing how clear the water is. But way too chilly for swimming for us. Our weatherman stated cold water to snorkel so we left the gear at home. So we spend the night here so 2 days of Hamilton. We did the Maritime museum, learning how Bermuda was discovered and all the cannons that were never fired once in a war. Loads a major money jewelry stores, stockbrokers, restaurants with some quite expensive food. We even walked thru a grocery store to see what they have that we don't. Not as much as our grocery stores like Giant Eagle which is a city in itself. More like a butcher for meat sooner than packages all over. Back to the ship on a lifeboat with both doors open. It is chilly as Bermuda was 60's and windy & we have some major waves out here. The ride was exciting & a great couple seated with us mentioned that they came over on #16 lifeboat which the waves were crashing over it and water was coming all over everyone from the ceiling. So they didn't want to get soaked again. I am seeing waves coming to the floor & yelled to the guy, who is taking a nap, to close the doors & as he did a major wave went over us but no leaks. We made it back to a CODE ALPHA as we entered our mini. All the stewards are rushing down the hall. If I remembered right ALPHA is medical. Later the Captain gets on the PA to inform us that the party was treated in the medical area & was doing OK. But now we are seeing a lifeboat taking people with a stretcher. SO not sure if the same party or someone else that needed immediate care. We saw no aircraft at all in Bermuda. No planes, copters, nothing. Very quiet and beautiful. So back to the mini & do some laundry across from 11092. 3 washers on the bottom & 3 dryers atop them. So we put Tide in one with 3 days worth of clothes & then went to the mini for some fruit & to see what was on TV which wasn't much but NCL stuff. No CNN, ESPN & no network stations at all during the cruise. So Jerry takes the clothes back & I am cleaning out the 3 lint filters that no one else did. Do not want another Carnival cruise with flaming laundry room. No one else doing theirs. But our mail has a LAUNDRY SPECIAL. They have a NCL Laundry Bag & $20 for all you fit in it. But for free I did ours in an hour. Good only on THURSDAY & you leave ht bag on your bed with completed laundry slip & 7:30PM they pick them up & you get them back Saturday evening for you to pack.FRIDAY: We leave Hamilton at 4PM as last tender. So we were up early, breakfast at Venetian then to the tender to Hamilton as we planned to do Fort Hamilton with it's moat. We got the streets from Jerry, our steward & it was too bad he couldn't go with us. So up & down streets til we got to the Z going up with a yellow handle on the walkway. The whole walk is straight uphill. Major exercise for us. So we had a seat at the top on an old wooden bend that was very thick & heavy. The view was incredible in all 4 directions. What the homes have to be enjoying there. WOW! So then down the long road to the Fort. The signage tells you everything you need to know, so no tour guides or the voice overs on tape about what you see. Just read...... So we saw the 3 big cannons and the views from each of the waterways. Then you walk the Fort & see the see thru areas that rifles went into to shoot at anyone breaking into the dry moat. So now we walk it that surrounds the entire Fort. The trees, plants, and critters such as our tour guide who was a red headed rooster walking ahead of us & he'd stop & turn around to see if we are coming. He would put out feathers almost like he is telling us what happened at that very spot over the years. Very funny addition to this enormous place. Then some screaming birds that got him to rush into the plants like they want to eat him. Met folks going the opposite way asking what we saw so far. Then we are finished, it is 2PM so back to the tender before the mad rush for 4PM. Got there to get the ferry back to the ship for a relaxing ride for our final site of Hamilton. We both showered, dressed for dinner in nice shirts & slacks & that was 2nd lobster night but it was a mixture of fish, lobster pieces, shrimp and anything else they could dice up & put over pasta in Alfredo sauce. So we passed on that. I had Hungarian food, speatzels & purple cabbage on pork which just melted in my mouth. I even had second on it. No desert as I was full but not for my cappuccino which I had 2. Jerry had meatloaf which I hate but he loves. I make him one & he slices it for lunch for the week. Tonite is BOLLYWOOD night & what another great Jean Ann Ryan show with great singing & aerials with 10 people. We were again row 12 & it was right in front of us. I thought the guy flipping in the air so fast was going to kick my head. Then the paper snow in the air gave another great surprise to all. To the area left of us were close to 30 3-5 year olds watching the show with adults. It was roped off for them to be seated in. Very nice also that at the end of the Ryan shows you get to chat with the cast. They love hearing that they were the best of 25 cruises we've been on. I told them their boss knows her job & they will be famous with her. SATURDAY: We both are exclaiming that we pack tonite to leave tomorrow. How fast a week went onboard, but takes forever to get to embarkation after booking the cruise. NOT FAIR! So to breakfast & to Spinnaker at 9:45 for Candance & Edward giving us a presentation of future cruises thru 2009 on NCL. We have 3 weeks of vacation left & she had a 19 night Panama Canal (Seattle-Miami) cruise on September 21 which we may do. That will pay for the air. So up at 8AM breakfast at Venetian and the last NCL U photography lecture with our good friend for the cruise who we met arriving at 8AM at the NYC Cruise Terminal. He never told us he worked for them. Then a disembarkation seminar with Pedro the CD. Good to know what we are to do where & when. So after dinner we pack & put it out for collection by 1AM. We have grey tags that we got after the talk, they do not send them to the staterooms. Another NCL first over other cruise lines is that we stay in our mini til GREY is called then we leave. Great since not many are with us at 10:45AM. Good presentation given by Pedro. Lunch at Venetian and then to Second City at 1PM for NCL U "Humor" with the 8 people onboard. Nothing prewritten it is all ad lib, but we stated to them that they have done this for how long and we told to everyone's delight that they boarded with us to start the cruise til September. So the Ad lib was great. 3 gals & 5 guys. Never heard of any of them but will be looking out for them. NCL U had "Submarines" but not for us so we took the Salsa bar Margarita Madness of NCL U. They teach you to make them and if you want one to drink they were $5 less a nickel. NCL U also had "Global Beer Tasting" which we don't drink beer but I thought I'd mention it for folks going on the cruise. Then back to Venetian for our last supper with our Saint. He filled the table with appetizers & dinners, so we are very full to make it home tomorrow without starving. Major hug fest after with many joining him thanking us for sailing NCL. We told them we'd be back. We heard Sept/Oct they do Canada/NE, so we may do it. We will decide in July after final payment to get the biggest bang for the buck. Last entertainment for us was the "Star Seeker" talent show with 10 folks competing from piano playing to singing, as we made it thru 4 & were tired for an early day tomorrow. So up to pack, put out what we wear home & pack everything else. Then to the bathroom: toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrushes all stay, everything else gets packed. My aerosol can of preservative free saline solution for my contacts stays with the disinfecting container. So bags are in hallway after a very funny happening. Jerry is naked & goes for his robe, which is being laundered for the next guests, so how is he to get suitcases in the hallway? So he has to get dressed to do it. That was the best comedy act of the night. So to bed we go & about 4 AM it felt like it could snow. So we closed the balcony door. Fell back asleep til the horn went off at 6AM, and that is one wake up call for everyone. But fog has us wrapped in it & where we are we can't see anything. So we got up since Venetian serves breakfast from 6:30AM-8:30AM & Buffet is 6AM-9AM. So sleep in & starve. We see folks in line with luggage as we went for the elevator to 7 for Venetian, which yes they are 6 but you go down the stairs to 6 to enter. So we learned on day 1. So major breakfast with fruit, eggs, bacon, country potatoes which have peppers diced in them. But we are late getting docked, and we can see 10 floors of buildings from the balcony & it is COLD! 40's in NYC. We have a message on our cell that Super Shuttle is getting us at 11AM at pier 88 but red is now 10:30AM so we went with them. Luggage were the first 2 we saw & now major line for customs. Then a lady in line ahead of us has a red suitcase with a gentleman on the outside pointing at it stating it is his. He calls for police who come & take the red suitcase & woman. It is his suitcase, his name is large print on the tag, she stole it off the luggage area. So NYPD have her with him writing away the charges. But customs is smiles to us welcoming us back home & we are off for the shuttle to Newark. Plane is early, we board, & back to CLE by 4PM. We both keep stating what a great cruise, what great items from coffeemaker in the room with 8 cups of coffee for FREE. The fresh fruit for snacking. The great people we met from crew members to cruisers, especially the Canadians who we seem to be magnetized to. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that last night Candance had a drawing with her future cruise presentation with $20 slot credits, to keychains & photos, and then she announces the major prize from Park West - a $650 piece of art. I WON IT! I chose "Annabella" by Linda Le Kniff with a fabric outline with black trimmed in 14 KT gold frame. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Personal Background Information: I am a female in my late 40s, traveled with my mother age 68. I live in New Jersey, she lives in Canada Travel To Port of Embarkation: This was my second cruise to Bermuda and my mothers first cruise. We ... Read More
Personal Background Information: I am a female in my late 40s, traveled with my mother age 68. I live in New Jersey, she lives in Canada Travel To Port of Embarkation: This was my second cruise to Bermuda and my mothers first cruise. We drove from NJ to Manhattan. Breezed through the Lincoln Tunnel, but did hit some traffic on the East Highway (12th St) between 50th and 55th. Embarkation: Very smooth, on board with glass on champagne within 30 minutes of pier arrival Stateroom: Mini suite was larger than expected with a lovely wall mural. Bathroom was a very good size with a tub and separate toilet area. It was clean and the curtain that divides the room came in handy when one of our party wanted to read late into the night. Ship Info: The Dawn is about 5 or 6 years old and is in good condition. Very clean and well designed. She compares favorably with the brand new NCL Gem. Dining: Ate at several restaurants. The buffet I give 4 stars, the main dining room only gets 2 stars. Le Bistro is a surcharge restaurant and deserves five stars. Bamboo is a pay restaurant and I would give it 3.5 stars. Salsas is a free restaurant and I rate that one at 4 stars. Room service was prompt and quality was good. Staff Service: Exceptional, our room stewards were friendly and professional. Wait staff across the ship was great. Spa massage lady named Gemma was too sweet to believe. Entertainment: Saw one show in the theatre, it was very good. Variety of music and bands in different venues around the ship were very good, but sometimes the music overlapped in an annoying way. Shore Excursions: Toured on our own. April/May is great walking weather in Bermuda with average temps in the low 70s. Disembarkation: A lot of people wanted to take advantage of express debarking and it was a bit of a zoo at first, but eventually the lines started moving at a good pace. Summary: A very pleasant cruise, which met or exceeded my expectations. I look forward to sailing NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
This was our first, two adults and one 8 yr. old. Embarking went better than expected; Disembarking was horrible!! The ship was beautiful and well laid out. The musicians playing above the Java Cafe were fantastic. The shows (magician, ... Read More
This was our first, two adults and one 8 yr. old. Embarking went better than expected; Disembarking was horrible!! The ship was beautiful and well laid out. The musicians playing above the Java Cafe were fantastic. The shows (magician, comedian, Bollywood) were great. I would skip the improv's next time; totally horrible; I'll never get that 45 min. of my life back.... The Hamburgers and hot dogs were fantastic. I enjoyed all the food but didn't appreciate the added costs for some of the dining. I could fairly accept 5-10 dollars but after paying for the cruise, I think 15-25 dollars is unacceptable. I think the price of drinks was highway robbery. I got very frustrated when asking for Ice Tea; rather I had to ask as much as three times in most cases. To top that off, the Ice Tea would not be turned on until lunch (as I was told); ridiculous; are we not suppose to drink Ice tea with breakfast? I thought the activity menu was impressive looking but when you read into it, it rather boring. I think the cruise director could have done a better job with daytime activities; we did find some morning and afternoons boring especially when the weather wasn't so great to go to a pool and/or sit in the sun. We had an inside cabin on deck 8. Not to bad except that the cabinet doors and drawers need better locking devices; during the rough seas, they would open and bang. We had to pile suit cases to hold them closed so that we could sleep. Overall, not to bad for a first time cruise. I would probably consider another NCL someday but not sure about Bermuda. There were some nice things about Bermuda (beach, shopping and a bus ride that was like a tour) but nothing that would rush me back. My only advise to others is watch your charge card bill daily. It's easy to get caught up passing your ship card off and often thus forgetting that it's your charge and you will get another bill in addition to the cost of your cruise. I think there should be at least one cash restaurant and bar and I think drinks in the casino should have a cash and charge option; cash is accepted for gaming, why not drinks, what's the difference. Thanks again NCL and we'll keep you in mind if we do this again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
My husband and I traveled with our 4-year old daughter on the Dawn out of New York two weeks ago on the last sailing of the 7-day Bahamas/Bermuda itinerary before school started. It was a good cruise with beautiful weather, but there are ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with our 4-year old daughter on the Dawn out of New York two weeks ago on the last sailing of the 7-day Bahamas/Bermuda itinerary before school started. It was a good cruise with beautiful weather, but there are definitely some things I would like to highlight to other cruisers considering the Dawn or any NCL ship. First off, we didn't expect the ship to have 2700 people on it! They advertise the capacity as 2200, but the timing of this cruise attracted many families and the 800 children on-board must have been stuffed in third berths or who-knows-where. We usually prefer ships with less than 1300 passengers, so I knew my husband's comfort zone was going to be a bit challenged with this cruise chosen for the nearby departure location and kid-friendly activities...but 2700 people put all of us over the edge. The main problem for me was "THE DIN." It was so loud in the Garden Cafe (at all times) and around the pool that a relaxing buffet meal or poolside experience was not achievable. My daughter thought the kids area looked fun, but the T-Rex pool and kids room were so crowded and noisy at all times she repeatedly vetoed those options. We did find some quieter areas to hang out at and she did have a wonderful time on the trip. Despite the din and crowded environment, we found the passengers generally polite and personable and our only encounters with rude behavior came from the ship's staff (!!). More on that later. So, I guess the lesson here on booking on NCL is to have your travel agent really check into the number of guests expected, not just the published capacity. Of course, when you book early, who knows how full it will get. When they announced the 2700 passenger number on the first night, I felt we were terribly duped. Is this standard practice? The best parts of our cruise were the beautiful dEcor of this relatively new ship, the cabin (suite with a verandah on deck 11...we had adjoining rooms with our sister-in-law and niece and this worked wonderfully for the kids), the entertainment which appealed to all ages, and the variety of activities. The worst parts of the cruise were the service (across the whole ship—very impersonal and plainly unhelpful), the long embarkation process, the noise, and the freestyle dining. So, let's review the good parts. The ship is beautiful, clean, well laid-out, and easy to navigate. Our cabin was spacious, well appointed, and we really used and enjoyed the verandah. I had no worries my daughter would fall overboard. We enjoyed the entertainment--the juggler Freidiani was awesome and lots of fun, the Bollywood revue was incredible and the various lounge singers sang popular songs appealing to the 30 to 50 crowd. The Second City Improv group was also great, and our 11-year old niece was thrilled to participate in the improv workshops. The ship offered lots of good lectures and activities our entire family could enjoy. They could have offered more movies at the cinema—especially kids movies given the huge under-10 population. NCL—ever heard of a Disney flick every once in a while?? It seemed the cinema was underutilized. I was surprised it was relatively small. Now, on to the regrettable portions of the cruise (I'll try not to whine, I promise). Let me just say that we are fairly experienced cruisers—7 cruises before parenthood, 3 since—and we have come to expect good service from a friendly staff. We don't belabor the staff with lots of special requests, we have always found the food good on every cruise line, and we understand there are lots of people wanting service simultaneously. Having said that, we were ASTOUNDED at the flippant demeanor of the staff, especially the shore excursion desk and in the dining room. I attribute this deterioration of attitude and service performance to the much-touted "freestyle dining." In short, the dining room staff treats you impersonally (and at some times poorly) simply because they can get away with it—they will likely never wait on you again on the cruise! Repeatedly, the staff was distracted and the hostess dragged us all over the dining room because she didn't know the table numbers. The different restaurant options were fine, and we tried Impressions (Italian), Teppanyaki (Japanese) and Cagney's (Steak). We liked the decor and food in the main Venetian Dining room and often ate breakfast and dinner there. It was a bit quieter. Impressions was quite good, the food at Cagney's was disappointing, and the Teppanyaki was fine (kids loved it). The whole reservation process is a bit of a pain, but understandably necessary given the freestyle set-up. We tried repeatedly to book Teppanyaki, and the response was always "It's booked." Period. No explanation, no helpful hints about getting in the next day. When we finally got in at 5:30PM on a port day (a desperate move, but we managed it fine), I was amazed that this restaurant only seats 20 people. No wonder it was impossible to get reservations! You would think the reservations staff could explain it during my daily reservation quest. Some might disagree, but I longed for the old fashioned "early seating" at the dining room with the same waiter every night. Oh, how I longed for the experience of our last cruise where our waiter awaited us nightly with a plate of fruit for my daughter, my husband's iced tea, a friendly smile and greeting BY NAME. There's a new one for NCL—the stewards or waiters knowing anyone's name--the passengers are all interchangeable and transient with NCL, and the staff rarely crack a smile. The food on the Dawn was very good, and the kid's menu is available at all the restaurants (to our relief). I liked the fact that the portions in all the restaurants weren't too large…just the right size considering you are indulging in appetizers, salads, main course and of course, dessert. We found the main restaurants, Venetian and Aqua, very nice. The Venetian was our favorite because of the elegant decor, and higher "grander" ceilings, and the view out the back of the ship. The cabin stewards work very hard, were personable, but seemed to have way more cabins on the Dawn than on other cruise lines. We saw our steward twice. I think I read that a two-steward team handles 27 cabins. Wow! That's a lot of rooms. One noteworthy and telling interchange occurred on Day 1 when my husband talked to the shore excursion people. We had booked all our excursions weeks before the cruise, but there was some problem highlighted about my husband's diving excursion. Please note that the opportunity to dive in Bermuda was one of the reasons why we chose this cruise. So, my husband headed off to the desk where he was told that because he had not dived within the past year, he couldn't take the excursion. No where was this stipulation written or communicated when we booked the cruise or the excursions. When my husband requested the written policy, they couldn't come up with any written document. Divers beware!! This was extremely annoying and disappointing…and happened less than 30 minutes after our interminable embarkation process. On shore we stood on line for 1-1/4 hours (with a 4 year old). All other cruise lines we have sailed (Crystal, Windstar, Carnival, Holland America, and Princess) do this embarkation process effortlessly…NCL take note. I must say that parking at the cruise terminal in Manhattan was a breeze, and the rate was fantastic for Manhattan. As for the ports, we found Nassau and Stirrup Cay pleasant. We enjoyed the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island and were able to tour all the aquariums after our "submarine" shore excursion ended at 4PM. The glass-sided sub was good, especially since snorkeling wasn't a sure option with our 4-year-old. Taking a taxi to the Atlantis from the port only costs $4 per person. You could spend the entire day at Atlantis—it's lovely. The day at Stirrup Cay was good, and we were lucky we heeded the advice seen on this forum to "Go early, leave early, lest you endure the long tender line." The island has lots of picnic tables with umbrellas and areas in the shade. Snorkeling was best by the rocks. It wasn't exactly "getting away from it all" with 2700 fellow passengers all around, but perhaps if you hike around the island you can find more serenity and escape the noise. Bermuda was idyllic, and we found the ferry/bus system very easy to use. After taking the ferry to Hamilton, we travelled to Horseshoe Bay by public bus. The beach was crowded (we saw lots of telltale blue striped towels from the ship), but again, just take a little walk beyond the rocks and things were more serene. The surf was rough for the littlest ones, but there was a nice lagoon behind some rocks which was perfect for the toddler/under 6 set. The water was a bit too churned up to do any serious snorkeling at Horseshoe Bay. They have nice showers and bathroom area (free). We opted to take the bus back around the western arm of the island to the ship and had quite a fun and wild ride. Our glass bottom boat ride tour at 3:20 left right from the dock and was quite enjoyable—but the reef wasn't as prolific with fish as Nassau. I would take a trip back to Bermuda any day. Well, this review has been quite lengthy and I applaud your fortitude if you're still reading my diatribe. In summary, we had a nice family vacation, an overall good cruise, but we probably will not be sailing on NCL again. Other cruise lines combine a casual dress code with the "dining room plus other restaurants" in a way that preserves the essence of cruising…a relaxing, serene environment with friendly, personal service and a "yes" attitude. NCL needs improvement. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. This will probably be a long review wanted to warn you before you started reading.. So, to start at the beginning that would be Parking. Not bad at all pretty convenient actually. If only ... Read More
Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. This will probably be a long review wanted to warn you before you started reading.. So, to start at the beginning that would be Parking. Not bad at all pretty convenient actually. If only Embarkation was such a breeze. It was a LONG wait. Since I had to use the LR My hubby and friends got on line first. I was told I was NOT able to catch up with them and needed to stand at the end of the line. Not 2 mins later a group came that had the rest of their group in the front of the line came and the same woman told me 1 person to wait at the end of the line allowed these 4 people to go and meet their group. I was a little annoyed at that. Finally I catch up to the rest of my group to wait 1.5 - 2hours to get on the ship. We arrived at the port around 12:30 ish and we arrived on board and directly to our room at 2pm. Although people on the boards mentioned that the Venetian would be opened for Lunch on Embarkation day we were told it WAS NOT opened. Could be that we didn't get on the ship in time. Off to the buffet we went. After we ate in the buffet and headed back to our room ,after searching and searching for a free table to eat at, Our luggage had arrived. Over all that process was relatively painless. Next I would like to touch on the "FREESTYLE" dining. HATED IT! Unfortunately I am not an early bird especially on vacation so we were only able to obtain reservations one night in Salsas which was very good. But we got that on the last night on the cruise. The service in the Venetian was HORRID. After the 30-40 min wait for a table we were seated and the servers were not very attentive at all. We did not even receive water or bread for about 30 mins after being seated. I know service is different in "fancy' restaurants but that seemed too long to even get water. The servers helper kept apologizing for the servers attitude and rudeness. I appreciated the apology but I felt bad for the "helper". Okay its the first nite right... Lets assume they were "in the weeds" and we will give them the benefit of the doubt. 2nd nite in Venetian same issues.. long wait time bad service. Breakfast was even worse. Aqua had much better service we ate there most times after the Venetian fiascos. We did sit down at the Blue Lagoon is that what its called? To get "comfort" food one day and we waited over 30 mins for a server to come to the table next to us she said I will put this order in and be right back. We watched her put their order in and go to the other side of the cafe and clean unoccupied tables and 10 mins later still hadn't returned to take our order. Needless to say we left and didn't get our comfort food that nite. Next time we went we did get service. But the table next to us was delivered 3 plates of food that they didn't order. Actually they hadn't even placed an order yet. Unreal!!! Although the food was basically good. Not horrible but nothing to rave about either. The buffet was boring.. same food over and over. Entertainment: We did see Fredereni or whatever his name was he was good. Unfortunately most nites we were still trying to get seated or eating so we missed most of the shows. That was unfortunate I did hear alot of people say that Second City was great! Daytime entertainment? I couldn't find much I wanted to do that didn't cost extra. The things I did find were either during my sleep time or unfortunately when I was eating or waiting to eat so I didn't do much on the ship. I mean it does say something for the "entertainment" when all of the shuffleboards were full all day. Who plays shuffleboard on a cruise anymore. LOTS of people on NCL!!! That should be a clue Islands: GORGEOUS!!! The islands were beautiful and gave us something to do. Although after we came home from the Private Island I developed a severe reaction to something all over my face. In the brochure they said there was some poison tree on the island. I did ask the dr what the cure is for this rash and he said he never heard of any such "poison tree". This irritated me since it was in THEIR brochure. Anyway... In Nassau if you want to shop take a later Excursion as all the shops close at 5:30pm and you are in port till like 2amish. We just took a local bus tour of the island. Like i said earlier the island is BEAUTIFUL. In Bermuda if you like to shop alot don't take the bus if you need to get back for a PM excursion it takes quite a while to get there. What else is there to cover .. Perhaps the LARGE amount of people on the ship there were 800+ kids which put the ship at capacity at 2600 people. Although there were only a few that were mischievous I think just that they were there overwhelmed the room stewards and wait staff. I didn't find many friendly staff. The room steward although he did fill your request didn't speak hardly at all. The wait staff never smiled or at least most of them. Don't want to say NONE were but many weren't. Overall I wouldn't go on NCL again. The worst part was the lack of activities on ship. I really look forward to having things to do. Perhaps I just was being cheap and should have paid extra for things like the martini "club" and Margarita tastings and such. But I didn't feel like I should have to pay everyday for a fun activity. In closing I do want to say I did enjoy the itinerary and the ship itself was beautiful. I did enjoy the paintings on Deck 7 they were cute. I also enjoyed my larger shower than say Carnival or Princess but the room was smaller itself. I LOVED the balcony! But overall the service was underpar and the food was OK not great. The Maitre D in Aqua did tell us that the Dawn is the lowest rated ship in their fleet. I know the NCL ers out there that love freestyle will criticize this review but I wanted to share my less than enjoyable experience. I do want to say that a mediocre vacation is better than a good day at work! Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
We are a family of 5 and first time cruisers with 3 boys 12, 16 & 19. We vacation at various resorts regularly but were always hesitant to cruise due to the perceived close quarters on a ship. Even though there were times when you had ... Read More
We are a family of 5 and first time cruisers with 3 boys 12, 16 & 19. We vacation at various resorts regularly but were always hesitant to cruise due to the perceived close quarters on a ship. Even though there were times when you had to deal with crowds, for the most part it wasn't an issue. I'll start with restaurants. We ate at the Venetian twice, Bamboo, Cagney's, Aqua and Impressions twice. The restaurants are beautiful, the service staff was very pleasant and the food was fantastic at each and every restaurant. The service charge for the Bamboo, Cagney's and Impressions was well worth it. The major negative for the entire trip was the very difficult reservation process. Toward the end of the week you had to wake up at 6:45am and stand in line for 15 minutes to get a decent reservation at any of the restaurants. I'm an early riser so this didn't bother me, however many people on board hated this procedure. The Dawn must change this. The buffet was fine and was always good for a late night snack. The entertainment was excellent and easily off-broadway or better caliber. The main theater seats about 1,000 and is also very beautiful. One tip is to seat yourself 20 - 30 minutes early. You can get 10th row center stage seats every time. Our Cruise Director Jimmy and his staff were very humorous and did a great job attempting to keep everyone entertained at all times. The late night entertainment was very good. The pool area was crowded but we could always manage to find a place to sit. Get to the pool early to reserve some seats, everyone does it. Everyday was a pool party complete with pool side barbeque, live island music, pool side bars, hot tubs etc. The book of coupons for the frozen drinks was a bargain for us. The casino was was nice enough to let me leave with more money than I came with. The fitness center got crowded at times but was adequate. There were numerous places on board for our kids to explore which kept them from getting bored. We had mixed reviews on the destinations. Nassau was OK. The Aquarium at the Atlantis was worth going to. The public beach we went to was just OK. The cruise line's island was a great day of snorkeling. Definitely rent one of the large inflatable rafts if you have a group doing some snorkeling. Find a picnic table under some palm trees away from the crowded beach. We could easily have spent a full week in Bermuda. I have nothing but great things to say about this beautiful place. The beach at Horseshoe Bay was incredible and probably the nicest beach I have ever been to. The bus ride on the narrow roads to the beach will rival most thrill rides. The people were naturally courteous. Just a great destination. Overall The Dawn was a beautiful ship with a great staff and enough entertainment to keep you busy and on the go at all times. The ship was always clean. The staff was always pleasant and smiling. the food was always good. We were very impressed. We had read some bad reviews about the Dawn but found all of them untrue or blown out of proportion. If you can't enjoy yourself on the Dawn then it was your own fault. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Well this was my first cruise with my girlfriend and I. We loved it. I live in NJ, she lives in NY, so we chose to sail out of NY. Now for the details, I will keep this kind of short and simple, because I hate reading really long ... Read More
Well this was my first cruise with my girlfriend and I. We loved it. I live in NJ, she lives in NY, so we chose to sail out of NY. Now for the details, I will keep this kind of short and simple, because I hate reading really long reviews... Ship - The NCL dawn is really nice ship, well layed out and we were able to find our way around after first day easily. Only 1 minor complaint, there is only 1 main pool, and can be crowded at times. Ship is very clean Overall. Cabin - Sorry, correction on the cabin category, we booked ocean view stateroom category BA room-10730, not AB(penthouse). The way I can describe the room is comfortably cozy, beds were really comfy, and shower was great. Note to all people, get a balcony room at the very least, it is so worth it. We had a great room off the back of the boat looking at the wake while sailing. Also people considering the penthouse suites , or (Romance suites)off the back of the boat, to me they are not worth the extra money for the amount of time you spend in the room. I have personally went into both categories to get an idea for future cruise, and I will stick with category (BA). They are slightly bigger. But if you are loaded then go for it. Also peeked into the owners suites up front, category (AA). Now these are truly worth the extra money if you have the money. OK enough about the rooms... Itinerary - We did 3 islands on this cruise. Nassau was first, not worth it. Dirty and they beg for money, only go to Paradise Island were Atlantis is, thats what people said. We did dolphin encounter (definitely worth it) so we really didn't get to do nassau, which worked out anyway. But hit up the STARBUCKS before you get back on the boat. Next was Great Stirrup Cay, it was nice but crowded. Last was Bermuda, now this place is truly clean, people are nice you feel safe here, and has the best beaches in the world. Food - To all people who complain so much about food, all I can say is shut up!, after reading dozens of reviews before cruising, I was thinking the food would be a horror show while ship. Overall food was good to great on this ship, depending on where you chose to eat. The best are the specialty restaurants, people pay the extra $15-$20 per person and trust me. Main Dining room was good, the only thing that sucked was room service, they were fast, but food sucked. Oh yeh, buffet was not that bad, if you did not like one item therewere 50 other things to try...We liked the freestyle dining, and liked having our own table for 2 every night. Overall food was very good, Staff - Our room attendants were very nice, we gave them i think like $15 extra in tips. Also all food and drink servers were very nice. cruise director (Matt) was funny, and very good at his job. He makes the best of it, don't forget most of the staff work a 7 day work week, and have no 2 day weekend. Overall staff was great. Tips and Hints - Play bingo on last day of cruise, because its really not cheap to play, and pots are the biggest at the end of cruise. There is a Texas HoldemPoker table in casino, its $1/$2 no limit. Get on line for chocoholic buffet early, or else forget about it. On disembarkation morning, relax and hang out in your room to avoid the masses of people in main areas,wait for your color tag on your luggage to be called. Well, I tried to keep it as short as possible. Im sure I left couple of little things out, but I hope I was helpful in giving new cruisers a little insight on cruising. We had a great time, enjoy your on vacation. Read a couple of reviews and take a little information from each, don't let reviews ruin you thoughts about cruising because cruising is great, and we will definitely do it again, and will probably go with NCL again, they are great. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Our July 14 cruise was our 4th on the Dawn and our 8th NCL. We always had great praise for NCL and in particular their ships the Dreamward (now the Norwegian Dream) and the Dawn. Although we enjoyed some of the things we had alwaysloved ... Read More
Our July 14 cruise was our 4th on the Dawn and our 8th NCL. We always had great praise for NCL and in particular their ships the Dreamward (now the Norwegian Dream) and the Dawn. Although we enjoyed some of the things we had alwaysloved about the Dawn, we came home this time feeling disappointed. First I'll comment on the good things. As always, the ship's design is something we don't tire of - the beautiful atrium, excellent music and shows (although deafeningly loud in the Stardust theater) and comfortable and cheerful cabins with excellent housekeeping services. One feature of the Dawn that we are particularly fond of is the Blue Lagoon. As far as we're concerned, it beats any midnight buffet and it's open 24/7. I also want to say that NCL is to be commended for being pro-active about placing hand sanitizers throughout the ship where they can't be missed instead of just at the restaurant entrances. So why did we come home disappointed with this cruise? In the past, we felt that we had done our part in paying for our trip and NCL did its part in delivering the enjoyable cruise we expected. This time it became obvious before long that NCL was focusing on cost-cutting and aggressive marketing on board. The restaurant menus were not as good as they had been and the prices of the specialty restaurants were high. A case in point is Le Bistro which had always been a first-night must for us when sailing NCL. Absent from the menu were entrees featuring filet of beef and Chilean sea bass, as there had been in the past, and the restaurant's signature dessert - chocolate fondue - was no longer listed. (They did make it for us on request). What particularly bothered me was that, alongside the regular menu was a "chef's special menu," featuring foie gras, lamb and different desserts - at $10 over and above the $15 premium for the regular menu. I think this was in poor taste and it was the start of my feeling that NCL was trying to squeeze additional money out of passengers who had already paid enough for a one-week vacation. Among the biggest things that took away from our enjoyment of this cruise were the aggressive promotion of gambling and NCL photography. Time was when bingo games on ships were just something to keep passengers occupied when it was raining. This time it seemed like the air was punctuated with the announcements of "big jackpots" along with raffles, lottos, etc. Even when gambling in the casino, there were people coming up to you asking if you wanted to buy a lotto ticket and the casino itself was extended to the pool deck - blackjack tables and wheel of fortune by the pool! The takeover by NCL photographers was perhaps the worst. The beautiful atrium couldn't be enjoyed because passengers walking through had to step over drop cloths and side-step wires, stopping every few seconds so as not to get in the way of a camera snapping a picture. it was as though anyone not getting a picture taken was an intruder in the atrium. And the posting of photos on the walls! Toward the end of the cruise, it looked like a wallpaper of photos up and down narrow hallways with some passengers scanning the walls for their pictures while others were simply trying to pass through. I heard one man grumble about people walking in front of him and I resisted the impulse to say "this is a passageway not an art gallery." The Latitudes party was cold and brief. The ship's officers did not shake hands, canapes were passed a couple of times quickly and drinks of choice were not available this time. It used to be that a guest could get a house brand gin and tonic or Scotch if they didn't care for the sweet drinks like rum punch the waiters carried around on trays. I don't think this is too much to ask at a "thank you" party for people who like NCL enough to keep coming back. The disappointment about not getting to enjoy Nassau didn't help, especially when it was announced that there would be only a $50 onboard credit per cabin. But after the aforementioned things that characterized this cruise - why am I not surprised? This was not the same Norwegian Dawn we had sailed in the past. Too bad. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
This was our first time cruising. My husband and I were accompanied on this cruise (7/28-8/4) by our two daughters, ages 10 and 17, along with my parents who have cruised a few times before, but never on the Norwegian line. Prior to ... Read More
This was our first time cruising. My husband and I were accompanied on this cruise (7/28-8/4) by our two daughters, ages 10 and 17, along with my parents who have cruised a few times before, but never on the Norwegian line. Prior to departure, we filled out our preboarding information on the NCL website. We brought our e-documents with us, along with our passports. Embarkation took place in New York city. We drove to the Manhattan Terminal from Massachusetts. We left early in the morning and arrived in NYC at approximately 9:15AM. Parking for the week was $168 and due upon arrival. There were representatives inside to point us in the correct direction to check-in. We found all of them to be pleasant and helpful. We found check-in to be surprisingly simple. We handed the representative our e-documents and she took the necessary papers and returned the rest of the information to us. Each one of us had to have our picture taken, complete a customs form for the Bahamas, and then we received our room card keys. We were then seated in a large open area for approximately an hour and then we went through customs. We had our embarkation photo taken, and then proceeded to board the ship. We decided to have lunch in the Venetian, but found out it wouldn't open for lunch until 12:30PM, so we ate lunch at the Garden Cafe (Food Court.) We enjoyed the Garden Cafe and ate breakfast there most mornings. We ate lunch there a couple of times. Our rooms were ready around 2PM. The ship was filled to capacity and we didn't receive our luggage in our room until after dinner. I was concerned about the dinner dress code, but after a quick phone call found out that what we were wearing was fine since it was embarkation day. We ate dinner at Impressions (Italian restaurant) and enjoyed it. It became one of our favorites. The Norwegian Dawn is a lovely ship! It is colorful and filled with beautiful artwork. It holds 2,224 guests and 1,086 crew members. The Dawn was built in 2002 and refurbished in 2005. It was docked in Boston, MA in the Spring of 2007 to fix engine problems. We did not experience any engine problems on our cruise and arrived at all ports on time. We stayed in an Inside Cabin. Although it was cozy for the four of us, we made it work. Thanks to a wonderful picture posted on "Web shots", we placed our beds in a "U" formation and our youngest daughter slept on the Pullman bed. We left the TV Web Cam on a few nights and enjoyed waking to the beautiful sunshine. The small fridge in the room was perfect to store our soda cans in. (Yes, we brought our own soda on board and it worked out perfectly for us.) We did however, purchase the "unlimited soda card" for our 10 year old ($16.00) and the Teen "Passport booklet" with 20 non-alcoholic drink tickets ($34.50) for our 17 year old. We found the bathroom to be pretty spacious and we all enjoyed the shower. We always had hot water at any time during the day and good water pressure. We always had plenty of clean towels supplied twice daily. Activities were definitely plentiful on the Dawn. There was Bingo, Arts & Crafts, Karaoke, A Belly Flop contest, "Mr. Hairy Chest" competition, Enrichment Lectures, "Wii" competitions, Aerobics, Cooking Demos, and the list goes on. There was Sooo much to chose from. We enjoyed playing cards and Yahtzee in the Shuffles room. Our favorite pasttime was sitting on the pool deck in the beautiful sunshine, and listening to the great music. My husband worked out each morning in the Eldorado Fitness Center. It was well maintained and the equipment was first rate. My mother enjoyed speed walking around the jogging track each morning. Restaurants were plentiful on the Dawn, however, our one problem was trying to make a reservation to eat at Salsa's. We never had the opportunity to eat there. It was disappointing, since it was the one restaurant our teenage daughter wanted to eat at. We tried to make reservations early in the morning, and during the afternoon for the next day, but to no avail. My father was very disappointed. He even spoke to someone at the Reception Desk, but no one helped us. The restaurant reservation system was really our only complaint of the Dawn. There were two people sitting in Salsa's restaurant who took reservations by phone, and from those lining up. There needs to be a better system. We tried calling, but the phone line was frequently busy. AS for Dining, we ate at Impressions, the Venetian, Aqua, Blue Lagoon Cafe, the Garden Cafe, the Poolside BBQ, Bimini Grill and at Sprinkles Ice Cream. We enjoyed the food, but we all thought that the main dining rooms, Aqua and the Venetian, should offer a wider variety of items to chose from. We found the menus to be very limited. We did have a lovely breakfast in the Venetian one morning. AS for the Chocoholic Buffet..........Who could ask for anything more??? It was wonderful! It was so nice to see that they had a sugar free section as well. Our daughters enjoyed ordering room service. Service on the Dawn was found to be very good. Our stateroom was always cleaned twice daily. We found the staff to be pleasant and helpful. We were always greeted pleasantly by the staff while walking through the hallways, and throughout the ship. We enjoyed the service in most of the dining rooms. The Venetian's servers weren't quite as friendly as in Aqua or Impressions, but they were adequate. We found the service in Aqua and Impressions to be terrific. We loved Maria, Melinda and Melody! They always stopped by while in the Garden Cafe to say "Hello" and to make sure we were having a "Good" time. Our cruise director was Matt Baker. We enjoyed him very much. Bundle of energy. He always wanted to make sure everyone was having a "GOOD" time! I'd still like to know how he can tumble from the audience on to the stage in the Stardust Theater! Impressive! (Okay, my husband just informed me about the trampoline. (Sorry,I never saw it!) We thoroughly enjoyed the shows in the Stardust Theater at night! We loved "Band on the Run" and "Bollywood!" The cast was terrific! We enjoyed having a priest on board, and being able to attend the church services. Our youngest daughter enjoyed the Kid's Club. She was a "Navigator." They met in the "Teen Disco" during the day. Although our daughter was busy swimming, etc. during the beginning of our cruise, she was happy to participate in the Kid's Club during the last couple of days of the cruise. She made some nice friends. She even participated in a talent show. We didn't participate in any shore excursions. We chose to go to a beach in the Bahamas and to shop. We all enjoyed it. Both of our daughters had their hair braided while in the Bahamas too. They had fun! We all enjoyed Great Stirrup Cay! The water was beautiful! We had beach chairs right by the water, while my parents got chairs and a picnic table in the shade. My husband and mother took a walk to the lighthouse. They enjoyed their walk and saw iguanas and other pretty sights. Although the beach was a bit crowded, we had anticipated it, so it didn't bother us. The beach bbq was tasty and we enjoyed looking in the straw market too. We enjoyed Bermuda. We took the ferry to Hamilton (Nice ride!) Unfortunately, we were there on a holiday and because of that, bus service was limited. We chose to go to Crystal Caves. We enjoyed the caves, but wish we had time to go to Horseshoe Bay too. Because of the limited bus schedule, we didn't have the time to do both. So, we completed our day by strolling around the Clock Tower Mall. We thought Bermuda was beautiful. The colors, the water, the greenery, just beautiful. Disembarkation was fine. We got breakfast at the Garden Cafe, and ate it pool side while the ship docked in NYC. It was beautiful sailing under the bridge! We returned to our room and had our luggage ready to disembark the ship. Since we had a lengthy drive home, we chose to do "Express" disembarkation. We chose to carry our own luggage off of the ship. We waited in line, but it was pretty quick moving and orderly. We were off the ship and in our car by 9:20AM. We enjoyed our cruise and we would sail NCL again. My parents enjoyed the NCL experience, but still enjoy RCI better. They found the freestyle dining to take away from the cruise experience a bit. The dinner reservation system was found to be difficult and we hope they can make changes to the system so that all guests get the opportunity to try a restaurant of their choice. We enjoyed the staff, and found them to be hard working and pleasant. Entertainment was first rate! Embarkation and Disembarkation were found to be easy. It is definitely a vacation that we will all remember! Yes, we all had a "GOOD" time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Nowegian Dawn - Bermuda, Bahamas This was my first cruise with NCL in thirteen years. My last cruise was on the Norway back in 1994. That cruise left a bad taste in my mouth with NCL. The Norway herself was outstanding and a one of a ... Read More
Nowegian Dawn - Bermuda, Bahamas This was my first cruise with NCL in thirteen years. My last cruise was on the Norway back in 1994. That cruise left a bad taste in my mouth with NCL. The Norway herself was outstanding and a one of a kind ship but the rest of the cruise left a lot to be desired. This cruise renewed my faith in NCL once again as this was the cruise line that started my addiction to cruising back in 1986 with the tiny 16,000 ton Starward. I am not going to go into the ports of call as that is discussed enough on the boards. I will keep my comments to the ship, NCL and some comparisons between NCL and RCI. Pre-Stay - Stayed in New York at the Doubletree Suites in Times Square. http://www.doubletree.com/en/dt/hotels/index.jhtml?ctyhocn=LGASFDT The hotel is in the heart of the theatre district. The hotel itself was nice with a very friendly staff. The only drawback was once stepping outside of the hotel it felt like I walked into a blender. People going in every direction. It was Crazy. Other than that I would stay here again. Also the hotel was only about a fifteen minute ride to the pier on a Saturday morning. Not bad at all. Check-In - Arrived at the pier in New York around 10:30 and there were already about 100 guests there for check-in. Due to the cabin that we booked we were able to receive VIP check-in and we were on board around noon. Luggage arrived around 2:00. We snuck to the room to drop off our carry-on luggage and then went to find lunch. Decided to skip the lido dining room and eat in Venetians which was very good that day. All together a very easy check in process. As good as I have received on Royal Caribbean. One note about the pier in New York. The traffic is a nightmare of trying to get in and out here. The cab drivers do not have a lot of patience with one another. Thank goodness we did not have a lot of ships in port. I can only imagine how that would be. Ship - The Dawn entered service in late 2002. She comes in at just under 92,000 tons. Just about the same size at the Radiance class ships. Prior to the cruise I had looked at many photos of the ship and was not sure about the bright colors but I have to say that the ship was very nicely decorated. Yes she is colorful but is done in a nice tasteful way. She does not have the WOW effect that you find on the Radiance class ships of RCI but she was very well maintained and clean. She did not look five years old. It was also easy to find your way around the Dawn. She does lack an adult's only solarium and has one main pool area with a smaller pool for the kids located on the aft area of the ship. There is also a pool located indoors in the spa area. I liked that the Dawn had a bar and grill out near the pool area called the Bimini Bar and Grill. Here, burgers, dogs, fries were served along with pizza and drinks. This is one area lacking on the Radiance class so that folks do not have to go to the Windjammer and can stay near the pool. One thing that I did not like about the upper decks is the glass railing that runs around deck 13. The glass is head high with about a five inch space in between the glass but I missed the lower railings. You had to walk towards the aft section to get the lower railings. One nice thing on the Dawn was the laundry rooms for those wanting to wash clothes. The laundry rooms contained three washers and dryers. They were free. The only thing that you had to pay for was the detergent which was $1.00 a box or bring your own. I'm not sure how many were on each deck or if each cabin deck had them but this room was located midship on deck 10. The ship also has one of the best cinemas at sea and they did a much better job than RCI with the show times of their movies. NCL has also added hull art to the ships in their fleet. I was not a big fan at all of this but the more time I spent on the promenade deck looking at it, the more it grew on me. It is different and by the end of the week I decided that I liked it. Dining - Okay this is where the big difference between RCI and NCL comes into play. Prior to this cruise I had read so many different opinions on the Freestyle concept that I wasn't sure about it. IMHO it all comes down to what one likes in cruising. Having now cruised for twenty-one years, I am over the dressing up, being at dinner at a certain time and sitting with folks that I do not know. I want to be able to eat dinner when I want, dress casually and enjoy a table with just my immediate party. NCL delivered and I did not have to go to the lido dining room to get it. Again due to the cabin booked we had the use of a concierge to book all of our reservations for the various dining rooms. We actually only used the Concierge twice and booked all of the other nights on our own as it was just as easy to call the reservations desk as it was the concierge. Only once did we not get the time wanted but it was my fault as I had actually forgotten to call and reserve until 3:00 in the afternoon. It still worked out as we just chose a different dining room to eat in. The Dawn has several different dining areas on board. Two regular dining rooms called The Venetian located aft with very nice large windows and a view of the ships wake and Aqua located midship. Both dining rooms offer the same menus which change each night. Also on board is the Asian themed dining room Bamboo that also contains a Sushi Bar, Sake Bar and Teppanyaki. Italian Impressions serves up great Italian and Salsa satisfies your cravings for Tex-Mex. Le Bistro for those wanting French and Cagney's Steakhouse for the beef lovers. Of course there are the casual dining options such as the New York Deli, Garden Cafe (lido dining room) and Blue Lagoon which is a 24 hour cafe where one can order snacks such as burgers, wings, etc. Plenty of dining options to satisfy most anyone. I have always thought that when it comes to food that the subject is highly subjective so each person's opinion may differ from mine. I found the food on the Dawn to be overall good but lacking in some areas. Several of the dining rooms have a cover charge. Le Bistro, Bamboo and Cagney's have a cover charge that ranges from $10.00 to $20.00. We ate at Cagney's and were disappointed. The steaks were tough and fatty. Not what I expected at all. A few lunches in the Venetian were not that good but I do believe that I made some wrong choices from the menu. The most disappointing thing was the buffet. Very poor. Tried it one day early in the cruise and did not return. Also NCL only offers up water and tea in the lido dining room. The tea was instant and undrinkable. It looked like mud water it was so dark and brown. RCI blows NCL away with the Windjammer. Many more choices. NCL did use charcoal grills on the sea days by the pool and grilled up burgers, hot dogs and chicken which were great. Salsa's and Italian Impressions were very good. We ate at these two locations a total of four nights. Dinner one night in the Venetian was underwhelming as my steak was once again tough. It basically tasted the same as what was served up in Cagney's that cost an extra $20.00. Overall I liked having the choice of different dining locations with different themes and menus. Also being able to pick the time each evening was nice as there was no rush to get back to the room and to get cleaned up for dinner. Left plenty of time for pre dinner drinks and the best thing was no formal nights. I truly believe that the Freestyle/Anytime dining concept is the future of cruising as more and more cruise lines are now trying this concept and are also working hard to bring in new cruisers. I hope that it works on RCI so that guests who prefer this type of dining can be accommodated along with the guests that prefer traditional. Both types of dining should be able to co-exist. Cabin - We had cabin #10500 which is located on deck 10 all the way forward overlooking the bow of the ship. I wasn't sure how I would like a cabin facing the front of the ship and the wind but it was not a problem at all and would book it again. This was a category AC Penthouse. I would compare it to the size of a Grand Suite on the Radiance class. It was very nicely set up with a sitting area, dining area, a large two sided closet that could be opened from front or back. The bathroom contained a tub and a separate water closet. I do think that NCL takes care of their suite guests a little better than RCI. The prices are about the same on each line but NCL does include a butler and concierge. Also we were allowed to order from any of the dining room menus on the ship for dinner and a full breakfast. There were no limitations as to what we could order. Non suite guests have a more limited breakfast menu. This is a negative compared to RCI. The butler would bring in the food and set up everything for your breakfast, lunch or dinner. He would return after you were finished and clean everything up. This was a nice touch that RCI should look into. When arriving the first day you had in your cabin a fresh fruit basket, a bottle of Evian and champagne on ice and fresh flowers which I believe is what RCI is now giving suite guests. Each day a plate of special treats are dropped off in your cabin which is again similar to what RCI does. All very nice. Each evening during turn down service, the room steward would remove the bed spread and replace it with a duvet similar to the ones that RCI uses. The sofa in this room makes into a single bed and was more comfortable than those on RCI. Service - I found the service on the Dawn equal to what I have experienced on each of my RCI cruises. Very professional, friendly and working very hard to make my sure that each guest had a great time. We only had two crew members the entire time which were not friendly. Both were in the Venetian dining room. Maybe they were just having a bad day. A lot of the CC members write about the service lacking when tips are added to ones on board account. We did not find this. The crew worked just as hard as if they were expecting the gratuities at the end of the cruise and of course those folks received more from us. We had the best bartender that I have ever met by the name of Eka. She tended the bar in Gatsby's. This was the every night place for drinks. All in all, very impressed with the level of service on this ship. A+!!!!!!!!!! Closing thoughts - The Dawn has been having difficulty with her engines and was dry-docked in late May and early June to correct the situation. We had problems on our cruise that made us arrive late at our first port. We received a $50.00 per cabin credit to our on board accounts. Many folks were not happy but Nassau is Nassau and I can take it or leave it. I feel in many areas that NCL equals that of RCI. Very good service along with clean and well maintained ships and good entertainment. The food was hit or miss but overall not bad even though I may have sounded critical in some areas. There are things that I like about both cruise lines. IMHO no one can match the beauty or WOW factor that RCI has with their ships. RCI has a very nice past guest program that I think is the best in the industry. IMHO they are truly the leader in these two categories. On NCL I loved the Freestyle concept by being able to choose from all the different dining venues on board and when I wanted to dine. The suite amenities were nicer on NCL. Other than that I did not see a huge difference between the two. I have booked another cruise on NCL for next year along with a cruise back on the Liberty of the Seas. I now have two cruise lines to choose from but truthfully RCI is still my favorite because no one can match the WOW factor....... Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
The Dawn definitely met our expectations, and I would highly recommend NCL and the Norwegian Dawn. This was my 10th cruise and my fiance's first. We had a great time and would take this ship again. The highlights were Bermuda, the ... Read More
The Dawn definitely met our expectations, and I would highly recommend NCL and the Norwegian Dawn. This was my 10th cruise and my fiance's first. We had a great time and would take this ship again. The highlights were Bermuda, the ship itself (beautiful!) and the crew. Embarkation was decent - fairly well organized but we did end up in a line. Total time about an hour from the time we got to the pier to the time we boarded the ship. One engine was broken, so we got to Nassau very late and didn't get off the ship. They offered us a $50 shipboard credit. Not a big deal to us, but I did feel badly for those who had planned activities in the Bahamas. Great Stirrup Cay was OK. The tenders were large but there was still an awful line to get back to the ship, and it was hot, hot, hot! Definitely have water while in line. The beach was nice but crowded and so hot! There was a nice BBQ, some shopping, and rafts for rent. Bermuda was lovely. The Dockyard is a cheap tourist trap, except for the Glassworks and Rum Cake Company...though you will pay $12 for a tiny cake. Most people took the ferry to Hamilton, where there is better shopping and eating. The ferry and bus tokens can be purchased at the dock, where you can also get a map. We were directed to Horseshoe Bay for the beach, as it's off the bus stop. This is obviously a cruise passenger spot, as everyone there had the matching NCL towels. The beach was free and very pretty but again crowded. If you are adventurous, I would suggest a less crowded beach. The beach plus lunch in Hamilton left little time for anything else. Bermuda has some great historic sites that we unfortunately missed. We found the people of Bermuda to be a bit unfriendly and stuck-up but still enjoyed it. Lines to get on and off the ship to Bermuda were minimal. The ship itself is beautiful and kept in pristine condition. We were in an inside room, which was small even for a ship. However, it was well-equipped with a hairdryer, plenty of towels, coffee pot (instant coffee and tea only), and a mini bar. The room stewards were so friendly and accommodating. Any time we needed extra towels, they were there immediately, and they also made some wonderful towel animals. (One note: NCL is strict about pool towels. There is a set number per room, and if you lose one, it's $25. You can get extra towels by the pool for a $25 charge which is returned to you when you return the towel.) Public areas were nice. The Stardust Theater was two stories and had a lovely balcony. There is an atrium that is several stories. Warhol prints decorate the stairwells. It is perhaps less tacky than other ships. The gym and Mandara spa were exceptional. Gym had a lot of top of the line equipment but filled up early. By late afternoon, the gym would clear out. Exercise classes are either free or $10 for pilates, yoga, and spinning. Spa treatments booked early. Specials were offered almost daily but good only for the next day. Prices dropped on days at port. The best deals were "20-20-20" (20 minutes each of three treatments) and "25-25" (25 minutes each of two treatments) for $89. Otherwise you will pay $179 for a 1 ½ hour seaweed massage or $139 for a 50-minutes hot stone massage. For $15 a day, you could access the spa's indoor lap pool, hydrapool, hot tub, steam room, and sauna. There are comfy chairs lined up along the window. It's secluded, relaxing, and quiet - definitely worth $15! One drawback was the pool area. It was always busy and filled with unruly kids. (We were disappointed that there were a lot of ill-behaved kids on the ship and parents who seemed to turn a blind eye to their antics.) There were four hot tubs, a main pool, and a small plunge pool. This is where the hairy chest contest, etc. took place. There was a small stage off the pool where bands played. Kids were always in the hot tubs. Lounge chairs were scarce. Despite NCL's "strict" no saving chairs policy, people would leave their towels on the chairs all day and never return. The best place for a little quiet was at the forward where there is an adults only hot tub. It is also quiet enough there that you can't hear the loud music by the pool. Music was excellent. There were more bands on this ship than any other I've been on, and they played a great variety. The shows were also some of the best I've seen and a good variety. There was a dance/acrobatic show, Bollywood, magic by Greg Gleason (www.gleasonmagic.com), and juggling by Romano Frediani. Bingo was a huge rip-off, with cards starting at $29. There were the usual leisure offerings - napkin folding, crafts, slot tournaments, etc. but also several golf lectures. There was a little too much hype for buying stuff onboard and in ports. I was quite disappointed that the ship endorsed a Bermuda jewelry store of questionable quality - I guess if the store pays NCL enough, they will endorse anything. The casino was nice. The photos are a fiasco. It's hard to find them in the photo gallery, and prices fluctuate daily. Of course, the day there is a special, half the pictures seem to be missing. There are baskets containing thousands of photos, so if you are patient, you can sort through them. We had our portrait taken, but the quality was nothing special. Food: NCL is obsessive with the idea of clean hands. There are sensor-activated antibacterial liquid dispensers throughout the ship and at the entrance to all restaurants. They do have a crew member at each restaurant ensuring that you disinfect your hands before you eat. Service at all restaurants was excellent. Overall the food was good but not great. The restaurants all had different and unique dEcor. Aqua was more modern, with blue glass and twinkle lights on the ceiling. The Venetian had paintings of Venice on the walls and ornate gold columns. These restaurants served standard cruise fare that was substantial and good - typical cruise food, no cover charge. The buffet, Garden Cafe, had food out nearly all day long and was very extensive (more so than other ships) but was nothing special. There was a nice poolside BBQ on sunny days. The 24 hour restaurant was kid-friendly fast food that wasn't too good. The French restaurant, Le Bistro ($15 cover), had paintings by Matisse and Monet and beautiful Versace chargers that I spent the evening drooling over. Food was very good and my favorite on the ship. Cagney's steakhouse ($20 cover) had a good steak and ample sized portions but it was no Morton's. The Tex-Mex/tapas restaurant was good and overlooked an atrium. There was no cover. Bamboo had a $10 cover ($15 for sushi). The ambience was nice. Food was decent - thinly cut steak was thickly cut and somewhat frozen. Sushi was OK. In general, the fish on the ship was not fresh (but still pretty good). Alcoholic beverages are rather affordable (regular prices). Wine starts at around $20 a bottle. If you buy a bottle and don't finish it, they will store the wine for you. You just present them with a ticket at any restaurant, and they will retrieve the wine for you. This proved to be simple and economical. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Let me start off by saying last year was our first cruise and it was also on the Dawn, I did not write a review mainly because a few things and staff members were so bad and I had nothing to compare it to well now I do This will be short ... Read More
Let me start off by saying last year was our first cruise and it was also on the Dawn, I did not write a review mainly because a few things and staff members were so bad and I had nothing to compare it to well now I do This will be short but I will be happy to answer any questions for you future Dawn cruisers. Leaving New York: This year we arrived Late about 1pm good thing they were having credit card problems with their computers so we had to wait on a long line to get through customs but as soon as we got through a lady with a sign for penthouse and villas was right there then we met our Concierge: Mareike then we were on in 5 minutes She is really great no problems at all she actually called a few times and is really sweet big difference from last year. First sea day: Was a little rough 12 ft swells no big deal. We made every port on time Bahamas: We were a few minutes early Great time there they do sell the one day passes for the pool at Atlantis its $75 for kids more for adults. GSC: Was great perfect weather we were in the water all day BBQ was good do bring a cooler for drinks great tip I got from CC. Bermuda: Fantastic we did horseshoe bay we had lunch there hotdogs great fries and popcorn chicken expensive $5 for fries when I said something to the server he gave us a free hotdog, Also bring the cooler we spoke about We did the bus pass easy a perfect day. Ok now for the food: Venetian: Great! we ate there the first day for lunch waiting for the rooms to be ready which was at 2 so pretty much right after we sat down Great sandwiches and soups service was also great my father ate dinner and lunch there most days and we had what they call dress up night there AKA lobster night. Le Bistro: Excellent! our server was Cinderella she was good the Maitre d was super nice great! we had French onion soup lobster martini and braised short ribs falls off the bone with a Filet Mignon like butter and of course Fondue! Bamboo: Great! Our server's Nerie and Miesel are Awesome! the maitre d also great. My son had the all the Sushi you can eat and he really ate a lot and loved it. I had the Hot and Sour soup the best I ever had. Spring rolls great and dumplings good and beef with broccoli it was good and fried banana spring rolls with ice cream yum. The staff is really amazing great night out! Blue Lagoon: Good! Perfect for when you want fast finger food the wings are really good. Garden cafe Buffet: Good not great its a Buffet! perfect for breakfast and lunch when you're not sure what you want to eat so you just eat everything my son loved the Ramen soup I only had the desserts bread pudding DeLish! Salsa: Ok! The food was very good as it was last year. The server was the worst I wish I knew his name really bad! asked if we wanted drinks before dinner when I said no he made a face and mind you some in our party had wine they bought then during the meal he asked again as if the cokes didn't cost enough and at the end if we wanted mexican coffee and when I said no the face and a nasty tone not good and not that others in our party didn't have sambucca oh well he made the dinner just OK yuck. Impressions of Italy: I did not eat there others in our party did they did not like it I ate there last year before the change wasn't so good. Cagney's: Again I didn't eat there but others in my party said it was Ok no big deal. Chocolate Buffet: Hello its all Chocolate it was Amazing! Poolside BBQ: Good! We had hotdogs and burgers and pasta perfect for poolside Bimini Grill: Great! Burgers, Hotdogs and fries the bartender is lots of fun! Sprinkles Ice Cream: Great! we had a cone almost everyday the change the flavors! Our Cabin: We stayed in an AB cabin again same as last year Awesome love it! I did walk down and looked at one of the Owners suites really nice and big, but I still love the AB and my laptop worked great in the cabin after buying the plan from the Internet Cafe nice women working there but she said it would not work in the room it does! Ok I'm on a roll speaking of rolls great rolls and bread in all the restaurants! This Review would not be complete without telling about A Wonderful butler named Ravi just some info on us we have had Butler service in some of the top hotels and he far exceeded our expectations. Ravi our wonderful Butler: From the moment we met him he had a smile on his face he made us feel right at home! He stopped in everyday without us having to call and when we did call he was happy to hear from us! We had breakfast almost everyday in the room snacks and a lunch and one dinner. If I had a problem or felt unsure of something he would be the first person I would call. If your are going on the dawn in the near future staying in an AB cabin you are in for a treat! Great Job on NCL's part they found a true treasure. He will be going on vacation the end of September he said. I hope to see him back on the Dawn he would making booking the Dawn again a No-Brainer! Oh and he is getting married in October his face lit up as he told us Congrats to them!!! Casino: Great! Well what can I say its a gamble and I lost my Butt off! But I did see others win. The staff is great as is all the servers! Room stewards: Excellent! Tito and Greg Super nice guys room was kept clean they remembered our names and used them made us towel animals every night we asked them to as soon as we met them and some days we got 2! I brought lots of chocolate from home snickers m&m's lots of stuff and told them to take some anytime They really liked that. Matt Baker: Great same as last year very fun! Bollywood: Excellent! Again lol Kids Crew: Excellent my son went about 4 days and 3 nights had a ball! great staff kids have a good time. Chair Hogs: Ncl got smart they now charge you $25 if you lose a towel guess what I had no problems finding a chair but I did leave my towels on my chairs for 5 minutes to take my son to the restroom and guess what someone took one not cool but it was a wal-mart towel I brought same blue and white stripes so no big deal. Leaving the Dawn This time I asked Ravi what time is the best to order breakfast and use that as a wake-up call we were in no hurry to leave with the VIPs he said 9 and make our way off about 1030 and that worked great we left the ship about 10:25 after they called the last color a breeze no line no wait just walked right off perfect! This was like a different cruise compared to last year im glad we gave NCL another try we had an amazing time great cruise!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
This is my ninth cruise on the DAWN. 16th with NCL. 24 overall cruises. I have come to appreciate and enjoy the ship, food, entertainment and staff of the Dawn a great deal. I give all these areas high marks. EMBARKATION: This process ... Read More
This is my ninth cruise on the DAWN. 16th with NCL. 24 overall cruises. I have come to appreciate and enjoy the ship, food, entertainment and staff of the Dawn a great deal. I give all these areas high marks. EMBARKATION: This process was a nightmare, as usual. I arrived at the pier at 10:45 AM . Not NCL's fault, but the workers at the pier, most unfriendly set of people I have ever met. Once upstairs to the Latitude area, There was the usual coffee, tea, hot chocolate set up with the additions of assorted pound cake. We were led down to the security area for check in at about noonish . I was the put on another line for the check in where I got my cards and sent to yet another line for embarkation photos. I was onboard by 12:30 and was told the cabins would not be ready till 3 PM. I waited in the Java Cafe for a little bit ordered my Vanilla Latte' and talked to Marissa and Lisa, wonderful members of the bar staff who always has a smile for me. I then decided to go up to my cabin to put away my suitcase and jacket. My cabin BA balcony was already done. The Latitude Department sent a wine and fruit basket as well as tasty treats though out the week. Cabin: The Cabin was clean and set up in a king bed configuration. I had brought along my 5 year old niece, so I decided she would sleep on the pull out couch. I left a note for the room stewards to empty the mini bar and leave the bottom section off her bed so I can use the balcony door. They were great. Mini bar was emptied that night as well as the bed set up. She was also treated to towel animals every night. Off to the balcony for some last minute phone calls and a glass of wine. I did notice that the balcony was freshly painted and the railings were all varnished. The furniture was clean. Muster drill was at 3:30 PM. Restaurant reservations were being taken in Salsas the entire week. The Internet Cafe ran a special today only that if you signed up for a package you got additional free minutes. The largest packed offered is 250 minutes for $100- with 20 minutes free. If your a Latitude member, just tell the manager and you get another 20 minutes free. Cruise Rewards program is back up to $250 deposit with a $100- OBC right then. It's a great program if you plan to sail NCL within the next 2.5 years. That $250- deposit holds an entire cabin for you regardless of how many ore in it. No extra deposit is required. Things I noticed most since the dry dock. Impression of Italy was the biggest change. There are now 3 TV's in Pearly Kings Pub. The paint and railings all look fantastic. The ship was very clean and I always saw workers cleaning inside and out. The upholstery in the Garden Cafe is all new and so far spotless. The Garden Cafe seemed to have the most changes besides the new upholstering's, there are no more trays and no more railings to run your try along. The food was fantastic and I loved the variety offered each meal. Tonight's show was the Welcome Board show hosted by Matt Baker our cruise director. ITINERARY: The ports of call (NY, 1 Sea Days, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay, 1 Sea Day, Bermuda, 1 Sea Day, NY ) FIRST SEA DAY: They had NO trivia in Pearly Kings at 9 AM this cruise :( I am horrible at trivia, but as a morning person it was fun to watch. 1 PM Latitudes party. Free drinks, Dance contest, raffles and just an over all good time. we met the Captain and his head officers including the Hotel Director Jacques Le Tallec, Food and Beverage JP Seidel and his staff, Matt Baker the Cruise Director and many and his staff. Tonight was also the VIP party with again the Captain and the staff. I didn't like that this was on the same day as the Latitudes party, seemed like too much scheduling for one day. I liked it much better when it was later in the week. Evening attire "dress up" I saw everything to formal gowns to jeans. That's the best about NCL. The one thing I did notice was a man in Pearly Kings who told me he had only brought on shorts, no pants at all, due to the "whatever" ads and he was not admitted to the dining rooms. I don't know if he was actually turned away or just didn't take the chance? I ate at Impression of Italy. I was so happy to see the Italian restaurant finally getting it's own permanent place. The new menu is fantastic with table side service of the antipasto. Very nice touch! Nassau: I pre-booked the zoo and garden excursion. It was a nice trip around Nassau by bus and then 1.5 hours in the zoo itself. There are plenty of beautiful birds loose and you can feed the parrots at a certain time. There are also Flamingos walking around and some beautiful peacocks. The restrooms were clean, there is a gift shop as well as a concession stand to get a cold drink. Great Stirrup Cay - Beautiful beach day. I was on one of the first tenders out to the island, They have added lounge chairs to the island which was very nice for those of us who hate the low sand beach chairs. They had tandem Parasailing going on, a great BBQ and plenty of activities throughout the day. There is a straw market tucked in the back which sold just about everything, as well as hair braiding. We returned to the ship and decided to check out the T-Rex kids pool area. On the bottom there is a see saw, and another play apparatus. Up the stairs there is 2 large slides that went into there own pool on either side of a nice sized kids pool that only went to about 2.5 feet deep and a hot tub. The area was well maintained and very clean. There is a shower there also. There is a smaller slide into a smaller pool for younger children (maybe the 2-4 year olds) Sea Day - My niece spent all three sessions in Kids Club. They were just fantastic and kept the children very busy and well entertained. They were open 9-noon, 2-5 and then 7-10 pm. You could have kept your child there till 1 am for an extra fee. Kings Wharf, Bermuda- We just walked around the Dockyard and did some shopping. We headed for the Clocktowers, where there are a lot of the same stores that are in Hamilton. I was told that since not many ships will be in Hamilton anymore, more and more will be moving to the Dockyard. We also spent a lot of time at the Glass Works shop and watched them make the most beautiful things. Tonight was Le Bistro. Fantastic as usual and yes they have the chocolate fondue, just ask. SEA DAY - Another fantastic day at kids club. They had a Pirate Parade in the morning, Dora surprise in the afternoon and a pajama party at night. Today was the Chocoholic buffet. It was a big hit as usual. The line went around to the gift shop and back through the atrium. Tonight was the second "dress up" night. I found more people were dressed up tonight then on the first "dress up" night. The show tonight was Bollywood and the tribute by the Officers, staff and crew. This a MUST DO event. Debarkation tags were in the cabin last night. Packing started and we were sailing on what seemed like glass. The pool deck was packed, even though it was chilly. Yes the CHAIR HOGS are still here. I was doing the last minute packing and writing out thank you cards. Debarkation- Easy as usual. I noticed a lot of people did self-debark that was promoted the second to last day. Once off there were more than enough porters ready to help. SHIP and STAFF: I appreciate all the updates that took place in the short time of dry dock. It has really made a difference seeing my last cruise on the Dawn was only 6 weeks ago. I always enjoy everything about this ship. The food was consistently top notch. The staff was always friendly and helpful and made me feel like I was truly a welcomed guest aboard the ship. There were plenty of activities to enjoy aboard ship on the days at sea. The movie theatre had a good selection of current movies, as well as 2 movie channels on the stateroom televisions. Kids Club was just fantastic with the kids and they never seemed bored. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Norwegian dawn is beautiful. Our whole family was just amazed with this ship so clean. All those workers worked around the clock I think to keep everything wonderful for us. Disembarkation went smooth.Got there around 11am waited in line ... Read More
Norwegian dawn is beautiful. Our whole family was just amazed with this ship so clean. All those workers worked around the clock I think to keep everything wonderful for us. Disembarkation went smooth.Got there around 11am waited in line and on ship by noon and eating, eating, eating. The food was excellent, reservations in the Italian rest and Salsa was hard to make. Everything was always booked up. We had to finally take a reservation at 9:30 at night just to eat at the Italian restaurant. Salsa was also very good. Make your reservations early in morning. The barbeque was good but I thought by Thursday they may have changed the menu to much hamburger and hot dogs chicken. Our older kids liked Blue Lagoon having wings etc. was right up their alley. The pool was small for all those people. Mostly kids were all in it. KIDS: I have two but I never let my kids run wild. 7am they're running up and down the aisles. Turning everyones stateroom so no one gets service. Kids pushing all the buttons in elevators and we were at a show at night and 10-12 years olds (WHICH SHOULD KNOW BETTER) came running in the show they were playing hide and go seek. This would be my only beef about this cruise. Norwegian was great but people please control your kids and watch them. Bermuda was wonderful and we all had a great time and wonderful weather. We will certainly go back in a heart beat on the DAWN. Entertainment was good. Activities were okay. Except for their Bingo they pushed not to much. My stateroom service was very good. They took very good care of us. Liked that the bathroom was big and also our stateroom. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We sailed on June 16 from NY on an air-cruise package from NCL. A NCL rep was waiting for us at La Guardia baggage claim. Everything was a breeze. We were at the pier by 2pm and in our cabin by 2:45! The line appeared long upon arrival, ... Read More
We sailed on June 16 from NY on an air-cruise package from NCL. A NCL rep was waiting for us at La Guardia baggage claim. Everything was a breeze. We were at the pier by 2pm and in our cabin by 2:45! The line appeared long upon arrival, but moved rapidly. Freestyle cruising was a relaxing change from the Carnival cruise we enjoyed previously. We made dinner reservations for the first two nights upon boarding and then explored the ship. Saturday evening- Le Bistro. Fantastic service and superb meal. One tip-ask for regular water to avoid being charged for bottled or mineral water at dinner. The chocolate fondue for dessert is delicious! Sunday- Day at sea was great. Breakfast at Venetian was peaceful and of better quality than the Garden Cafe buffet. Look for dolphins behind the boat! Lobster night in Aqua was decent. Monday- Enjoyed massages at the spa before reaching the Bahamas. Fantastic and reasonably priced!! Dolphin Encounter in Nassau was worth every penny. Dinner at Salsa was delicious... the best golden margaritas ever! Tuesday- First tender to Great Stirrup Cay. Loved parasailing and enjoyed the beautiful beach. Went back to the Dawn for a late lunch and enjoyed the pool and hot tub without the crowds! Wait for disembarkation on the bench seats in the hallway by Le Bistro. It is a straight shot down the steps to the gangways! No crowd, no standing around in stairwells. Had dinner at Cagney's late that night. Delicious! Have a martini at the Star Bar first, very romantic! Wednesday- Day at sea. Enjoyed the pool deck, played some shuffleboard and bingo. Enjoyed the adults only hot tub at the front of the ship. Dinner at Bamboo was terrific! Thursday- Bermuda was lovely! Took a bus tour to Horseshoe Beach. Enjoyed the ride and driver information as much as the amazing pink sand. Went back and took advantage of an empty ship again. Poolside seats and pina coladas. It was like we had the ship to ourselves! Dinner at Salsa again, we enjoyed it so much the first time and NO COVER! Friday- At sea. Weather was windy and cool, so we stayed indoors. Lost at bingo, but had some luck with the slots. Dinner at Bamboo again. You have to try to squid appetizer and banana spring rolls for dessert! Saturday- Did not want to return to reality, but disembarkation was amazingly efficient. No complaints. Freestyle is great! We had our doubts after reading some of the reviews on this website. The surcharge restaurant meals were well worth the extra expense. Alcohol was reasonably priced. Service was very good. Garden Cafe or Bimini Grill was convenient and tasty for lunch each day. The entertainment was good. We went to most evening shows in the Stardust. Our favorites were Band on the Run and Second City. The Dawn is beautiful and immaculate. The crew were friendly and hard working. Matt Baker (wikki wikki waa) and his staff were lots of fun. A cruise is as relaxing or as busy as you want it to be. NCL makes it easy to set your own pace and enjoy yourself. We certainly did! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We live in Malawi in Africa, and this was our first time on a cruise. We chose Norwegian Dawn because of Freestyle cruising and having a friend we wanted to visit in New York + a bit of a yen to see Bermuda in particular. I love ... Read More
We live in Malawi in Africa, and this was our first time on a cruise. We chose Norwegian Dawn because of Freestyle cruising and having a friend we wanted to visit in New York + a bit of a yen to see Bermuda in particular. I love researching holidays, and cruise sites like this one were happy hunting grounds for me! Embarkation was a pretty good experience, though it looked pretty grim at first sight. We got there at 10.00am just as things were opening so, not surprisingly, we were near the front of the queue. Half an hour later would probably have been a better idea as they had to finish letting people off before we could get on. They took our passports away at this point, which always spooks those of us who live in this part of the world. The next day we started to worry about the requirement for photo id at immigration as the passports were our only photo ids. I went to the guest services counter & they explained we would all be receiving a photocopy of the passport id page later that evening. I used guest services about 5 times during the cruise- ten out of ten every time. Ports of call We didn't really like the look of Nassau very much, but we had a fantastic time on the America's Cup activity- highly recommended for all ages from about 10 upwards. One of the crew turned out to have a brother in law living in the same city as us (Lilongwe). It was really beautiful to be on these yachts with mighty masts and working the winches etc + the sense of a race all added fun and spice. Private Island was a bit of a misnomer for us. Two thousand eight hundred passengers on one beach is private??? However, it was very pleasant and beautiful water. Mighty long wait to return on the tender boats though. I had a nice walk to the lighthouse on the other side of the island. A hat was a must- the sun is really strong. Bermuda- we really loved this island- just what we hoped it would be. I used the official website to choose a lovely beach area called Jobson's cove next to Warwick Long beach. Taxi drivers very friendly and reliable about coming back for us. Also walked around Hamilton and generally really liked everything about the island and also the Naval Dockyard where we docked. Had a E3 bus to Greenford in the dockyard for some reason- that was the bus I used to catch to school when I lived in London! The cruise and the ship We loved it. We all did our own things to a great extent, and met up for meals- I loved hanging around the spa ($15 per day seemed fine to me for almost exclusive use of pools and spas and saunas + i could pop up to the gym too.) I would have liked a bit more in the way of intellectually stretching or cultural activities but they did lay on a load of things every day. My wife mainly wanted to read and relax on the balcony but did pilates, golf lessons etc. A balcony is a must in our opinion- we had a mini suite between three of us and didn't feel too cramped though we are used to living in big, airy houses over here. Very well designed cabin and excellently constructed- no noise insulation problems. Our daughter (11 years old) never wanted to leave the kids club. She really liked having fairly narrow age bands like 9-12 years. Very good entertainment and theatre quality but we did lodge a complaint about people being allowed in late- we tried sitting at the front to minimize the sense of disruption this caused but some of these people went searching for a seat at the front even though they were late. At least 100 people came in during the first half hour of every show we watched- because they knew they could. Very unfair on the performers. We mainly ate evening meals in the specialty restaurants- liked them all especially Le Bistro. Found evening meal at the Venetian (free) less impressive than the menu sounded. The buffet for lunch was a great choice we thought despite many negative reviews I had read. Venetian and room service excellent for breakfast. We didn't think this was a great way to meet people as freestyle means families tending to dine together and our experience was lots of pleasant "drift in, drift out" conversations with fellow passengers rather than deep and meaningful stuff. Actually, we rather liked the sense of reserve we felt to be there. Thought it might be a bit of a New Yorker thing as most passengers were from there. I really have to admire the way America manages to create fantastic value for money aimed squarely at the middle end of the market people like us.I really thought the cruise was superb value though we did run up quite a bill as one tends to do on holiday! Cruise director (Matt baker) was a tour de force- we really admired his skill in so many different situations. Disembarkation a breeze. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
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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