188 Norwegian Dawn Bermuda Cruise Reviews

Review of NCL Dawn to Bermuda, 10/26/08, Cabin 10730 aft. 1st NCL cruise. Previous: RC, HAL, Celeb, Princess. Me (47) & Mom (68), No Shore Excursions booked. 1st time to Bermuda Let's begin... we flew into LaGuardia the ... Read More
Review of NCL Dawn to Bermuda, 10/26/08, Cabin 10730 aft. 1st NCL cruise. Previous: RC, HAL, Celeb, Princess. Me (47) & Mom (68), No Shore Excursions booked. 1st time to Bermuda Let's begin... we flew into LaGuardia the same day of the cruise - best transportation to the Port from the airport was "Super Shuttle" 16.00 per person, but this shuttle makes many stops along the way - we had plenty of time to see the sights of NY along the way. Arrived at Port early, but check in very fast and smooth, would have been on board by 11:30 but the Coast Guard was doing some inspection so this caused a 1 hour delay, we waited comfortably in chairs but there were no refreshments offered by NCL?? Wonder why? Enter ship: champagne and OJ, nice touch, off to Garden Buffet. I have had better food. We were told rooms would be ready by 2pm. and yes they were. We had a standard balcony room aft cabin, with larger balcony that we really enjoyed. Furniture a little worn, TV from 1965, bathroom shower bigger than I have seen, with soap and shampoo dispenser. Coffee maker in room, never used it, the sugars on the tray were old and moldy. Left cabin about 3:30, our luggage had already arrived and was outside in the hall. Left a note for room steward to make twin beds, and asked for a few extras, most of which were granted by the time we returned, but still no sign of room steward?? Muster drill - same as usual. Off to the Progressive trivia @ Dazzles where I made new friends.. and we won! Whoo hoo, Next is dinner at Venetian (Main dining room, no fee) where we were sat with a couple who were very sweet - but our server was not very pleasant. I ordered a dish that was pasta and should have had beef chunks as described by the waiter, but there was no meat.. I would have told the waiter, but he never returned to see if we were ok. We arrived late to the show due to very slow service at dinner, no seats were available.. we left for the Casino where I heard rumors of the machines being tight.. No big winning for me.. off to bed on what seemed like a hard mattress, but was able to get a good nights rest despite the semi rough seas. I think we have a baby next door. Day 2, Room Service coffee right on time as we noted on the card we left out on the door the night before. CC meeting in Dazzles - great turnout - and NCL had 7 staff members present - this was impressive compared to other lines. Lunch in Venetian, steak sandwich.. not good. Next off to Spa for tour.. Oh its beautiful.. and the cost is $20.00/day or $75.00 per week, or $140.00 per couple per week. We decided to wait.. and the sales pitches for spa treatments were pretty heavy.. we had to get out of there.. saying "maybe later" but being told we should really book now.. Too much pressure here. Looking for Java cafe.. can't find it. Pool area looks pretty busy - windy out - but warm and sunny. Had a snack at Blue Lagoon, Spinach artichoke dip and chicken wings.. not impressed. 2pm stopped in the cabin.. still have not seen the room steward.. but while I was in the bathroom he came in and opened the door.. so our meeting was a surprise. I exited the bathroom and he introduced himself Raul, and he said he worked with Josh (whom I never met). That was the last time I saw Raul, but our room was cleaned daily, and we had towel animals 4 times, so no complaints there, but nothing special to report either. Progressive Trivia - same team.. we lost our 1st place status, I'll be back tomorrow for a rematch. Dinner at Venetian with CC members (pre-arranged for 20) Optional formal night, I opted out, Lobster tail dinner, I ordered double tails and got them no problem.. they were ok, I've had better. Mom had beef Wellington that had some indefinable brown substance in it. Service in Venetian better - still not what I am used to in the main dining areas.. I believe the freestyle dining has taken away the personal touch of the wait staff and lessened the incentive to be professional and friendly. I miss getting to know the wait staff and tablemates. I hear rumors about Cagney's being good - but besides the $20.00 cover.. you pay extra for Lobster and Crab legs.. I'm not going there. Day 3, Room service ½ hour early today. Morning Trivia in Pub with Mikee.. he is a sweetie. Breakfast at Garden Buffet, a madhouse as expected, much like the other cruise lines, but the food was sub standard.. with the exceptions of having eggs made to order, or a waffle made on the spot.. everything else was just so so. Mom went to the spa for a French Manicure.. her bill was more than she anticipated.. with service charges she thought were a tip.. but the spa tech told her no.,. that was her wages not tip.. so Mom paid extra for a tip, bout a bottle of polish for $8.00, and the grand total = $60.00.. but that's not the bad news.. her nails looked awful.. they were not dry.. so she had smudged them.. they should be ashamed to charge this for such a shoddy job. Lesson learned for us. Super windy today, rough seas.. pool chairs available everywhere.. everyone must be at Bingo. Restroom stop... no toilet paper in any of the 5 stalls.. dirty. Lunch at Venetian up by the big window.. such a nice view, but I thought we were in the kids club.. kids everywhere.. crying, throwing food.. what a mess. I ordered Mahi Mahi - good but never have seen bones in it before this.. Oh and there was a hair on my plate.. I didn't tell mom.. things were bad enough already with her staring at her nails in disbelief. Mom went to get cash from ATM..it's broken,.. and there is only one. Main desk tells her sorry, and that can not do cash advance or take checks.. basically telling her she is out of luck. Later Mom learns she can get cash advance in the Casino.. now why didn't the front desk tell her that? What happened to customer service? Back at room called room service .. phone rang 5 thousand times. Tried again a few min later, only 4 rings.. Asked for cheese and crackers, not on menu, was told NO, and not in a friendly way. Trivia - we won our trophy back. Dinner later at Garden Buffet, food was less than fair. Where is this Pedro guy ( Cruise Director) ? I heard he was good.. I have my doubts. Day 4, Arrived in Bermuda 9am, cold and windy. Met CC friends in Aqua for breakfast.. and learned that this is open for balcony passengers.. we didn't know this. I guess there is supposed to be something in our room to tell us this.. we found the card on the shelf above the TV on the last day. Anyway breakfast in Aqua was great.. food good.. service was soooooo much better. Now this is what we are used to. Exit ship, bought a ferry/bus pass for 3 days @ $28.00 each. Hopped right on the ferry docked right in front of our ship.. no walking.. off to Hamilton (20 min). Shopped in Hamilton.. then we had to walk up hill for a few blocks to the bus station. Got on the bus (after the driver was rude to me) and off to St. George, stopping at Swizzle Inn along the way for lunch. Food was good.. not too expensive, and the Rum swizzle was pretty strong. Bus stop right out front - back on bus to St. George.. a little shopping while asking for directions to the trolley to do a short tour.. Trolley not running today.. don't know why. Town square Carriage tour was our next thought.. we had a driver named "Shawn" and a carriage for 4, charge was $40.00 for ½ hr or $80.00 for an hour.. that was for all 4 of us, so for $10.00 each we opted for the ½ hour, which ended up being about 45 min.. and it was Fantastic! Shawn was very nice, polite, and knowledgeable.. I would recommend this tour of St. George to anyone.. Well worth it.. and Shawn made it Special for us. **** Ask him to stop at Glass bottom beach for you.. he will, and you can get all kinds of sea glass..for free. Next we take the ferry from St. George back to Dockyard.. 40 min.. very nice ride. Trivia again.. lost the trophy. Dinner tonight.. will try Venetian again, they have Turkey and dressing on the menu. We are seated at a table for 2.. having waited only a few min, and it is about 8pm. After about 15 min, I asked if we had a server at all? We were finally waited on.. without an apology.. while several tables all around us were sat and waited on and were eating. Again.. the incentive for tips is the motivation wait staff need to provide a better service.. here it is non existent. Food was just ok. Again we are late for the show because of slow service. Late night Comedy at Spinnaker's lounge.. place is packed.. come early if you can to get a good seat. Comedian was very good, adults only.. followed by QUEST.. adult game show... hey there is that Pedro guy, I'm not impressed. Back to the cabin.. Received mail saying "Congrats we have been chosen to dine with Hotel Mgr for Thursday night.. problem>>> we have already signed up for the Murder Mystery dinner (120 people only) had to decline dinner with Hotel Mgr.. unfortunately, because I had plenty to discuss. Pool side party tonight - complete with bubbles flying everywhere.. small turn out - windy and cold. Day 5: Breakfast again with the heard.. too late for Aqua today, they stop at 9:30am. I found a juice bar.. they do fresh squeezed OJ.. $3.50, plus added gratuity - total $4.03, ridiculous price.. but very tasty as compared to the OJ cocktail. Today we left the ship and boarded the "free" trolley right outside the ship that makes 7 stops in various areas in the Dockyard. Beautiful day.. I think everyone is at the beaches today.. shopped at Clocktower Mall, had ice cream, visited the Glassworks (must see) bought a rum cake. Back on the ship for Trivia.. we won again!!! Snack at Blue Lagoon.. Mom had Wonton soup.. yuck!, I had the fish and chips.. pretty good. Finally found the Java Cafe.. right across from the reception desk.. I thought it was a bar. 5pm meet in Stardust for Murder Mystery. Dinner at Aqua (Prime Rib.. pretty good) with arranged group while reading from our scripts to solve a mystery, fun. Next 2nd City show.. I'm excited.. I have heard great things, but disappointed.. as were many others from comments I have heard. Chocolate Buffet held in the Garden Buffet.. what a NIGHTMARE! I think every passenger turned out for this 1-hour event.. and it was near impossible to even identify where the lines started or ended.. NCL needs to really rethink this event. So many people, including ourselves, left disgusted about this set up. Very disappointing. Next stop Star Bar for "Name that tune" very nice atmosphere and host.. songs were for Senior generation mostly, but passengers were having lots of fun.. and I learned this was the only event here like this.. what a shame there were not more of them. Now outside to the Pool area for the Country Bash.. windy and a bit chilly, but good music.. and plenty of people singing along and dancing. Stopped at Photo shop, 19.95 for one photo - to top it off the staff guy was rude to Mom.. not happy with him. Mikee who does games and trivia's.. he should be given a huge raise.. he is always smiling and talking to the passengers.. what a joy he was. Day 6: Last day in Bermuda. Where is Raul (room attendant)? Breakfast in Aqua.. very nice again. Off the ship ( very easy, no lines ) take the "free" trolley to the bus stop, hopped the bus for Horseshoe Bay. Off at the bus stop.. walked down a long steep hill to the beach.. OHHH how beautiful.. then just a few short steps away is Jobson's cove.. what a beautiful place to see. Water is a bit chilly, but some are swimming anyhow, the sand is so soft.. and not really pink like I had expected, but rather a tan color with what looks to me like sprinkles of paprika in it. Still very pretty. Chair rentals are $10.00 each, and there is a small cafe for lunch items and drinks, a changing area and restrooms. Going back to the bus stop we took a shuttle up the hill (you can take it down as well) for only $1.00 per person.. how nice. Across the street from the bus stop is a little Italian restaurant.. they open at 12 I think.. they let us use the bathroom without ordering anything.. so nice of this guy, I wanted to mention it, and the place is very cute and quaint.. didn't eat there this time, need to get back to the ship. Took bus back to Dockyard.. and have enough time for lunch.. stopped at Frog and Onion.. Not as good as I heard, I had a pasta dish, and Mom had the Pasty.. which I liked better than the pasta. The soda and ice tea tasted funny..water was ok, meals were about $15-$17 each. Back to the ship sail away. Progressive Trivia again.. we lost Dinner @ Aqua with CC group, 14 of us, nice turn out, good service. Butternut squash soup is really god. I wonder what the captain looks like.. never saw him.. but hear his announcements daily..sometimes he sounds like he is bored to tears. Next off to the show "Bollywood" what a fantastic show.. the entertainers were excellent.. one of the best shows at sea for me. Don't miss this one. It's Halloween, and am dressed in costume and headed to Spinnakers for the party.. Again organization is lacking and the majority of passengers wait in a line for at least 40 min before parading across the stage..over 60 people.. tired of this I move on to Dazzles where there is to be another Halloween bash.. but NO.. just some folks dancing to terribly loud music. OK - I'll try the Casino.. here is where the party is.. Staff all in costumes.. jam packed with people.. games.. prizes.. food.. apparently they want you to come to the casino..wonder why? Day 7: at sea, breakfast at Blue Lagoon.. you can get made to order eggs, omelets and the food is basically the same as Aqua, but much faster. Went to Q& A with Pedro and some Crew at Java (good thing I finally found this place) I remarked about the lack of service relating to freestyle dining in the main dining room.. the response was a defensive one claiming that people were generally happy with being able to choose when and where they wish to eat and that passengers are generally happy with the service. I don't think they have experienced what I have.. then they might feel differently. We are able to decide what time to leave the ship for disembarking, and pick up luggage tags at the reception area. Made reservations for Salsa for tonight. Went to Majority Rules game show - run by Mikee, lots of fun. Last night for Progressive Trivia - and MY team WON the grand prize.. whooo hooo! Lots of prizes.. what fun!! Off to the last show.. the Crew show.. very nice. Stop at the Casino.. no luck. Karaoke at Dazzles.. met up with some CC buddies.. very nice time. Luggage out in hall by 1am. Enjoyed balcony for last time.. a little chilly out there - but relaxing. Day 8: Passing the Statue of Liberty at 7am.. arrived at port 7:30. Went to breakfast at Venetian, ate with same couple we had dinner with the first night.. what a nice way to end the cruise. Back to the room to gather last belongings. Where is Raul?? Well no extra tipping here. Disembarking process moved quickly - even in baggage area and customs.. lines kept moving. *** Suggestion for those looking for transportation.. as you exit baggage area .. walk straight across the street to Taxi Cab Station.. flat rate back to LaGuardia was $35.00, and we had a great driver. *** Beware.. there are gypsy cab drivers requesting your service.. they have black town cars usually, and they are not to be trusted.. take the Yellow cab for safety. Summary: Would I book another NCL cruise?? Probably not. I am not a fan of Freestyle dining mostly because I don't care to pay extra for other dining venues and prefer the service associated with assigned seating. The entertainment on NCL was above average, while the service in general as well as the quality of the food was poor in my opinion.. in comparison to RC and HAL. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Embarkation onto the ship for this cruise was AWESOME!!! It left Sunday so getting into the dock in New York was easy with little traffic (I live in NJ and drove there). We got there around 10am and was on board pretty quickly after that. ... Read More
Embarkation onto the ship for this cruise was AWESOME!!! It left Sunday so getting into the dock in New York was easy with little traffic (I live in NJ and drove there). We got there around 10am and was on board pretty quickly after that. We even forgot our boarding tickets at home but were able to talk to NCL folks and we got on no problem. Public rooms were nice and easy enough to get around in. It was my second time so I guess I kind of knew where everything was already. All the rooms I used (which really weren't that much) were fine. We had an inside cabin in J category (8153) which was the 2nd time we had it. As always the cabins are small but was enough for 2 adults and 2 small children (7, 4). My one complaint with the cabin is that the walls are PAPER thin and you can hear EVERYTHING through them. So when the neighbors come in yelling at their kids you can hear every word. My guess is that that's probably common among many cruise ships. The deck pool and fitness center were ok as well. They had the usual stuff you would expect ... treadmills, bikes, dumbbells. Not a lot of heavy stuff for the muscle heads though or pullup stuff. More just the basics for the average person. Didn't take any classes so I can't comment on that. As far as rates ... I'm going with a 3 since the overall service wasn't really as good as I expected. Was much better the first time on this cruise the year before. They didn't really match up the timing of the kids clubs opening and dining reservations which made the dining service VERY slow that first night compared to the other nights ... other restaurants the service was hit or miss. Some VERY good ... some not so good. Seems like I paid a lot for what I eventually got. Some of the excursion prices I thought were much too pricey considering you could grab a bus on Bermuda and pay about 75% less doing it on your own. That's just me though. Bermuda is probably an exception island since you can pretty much go anywhere safely. Kids club was really great. This is a huge selling point for my with 2 kids. And the hours of 9am - 10:30pm really make it easy for you to plan out your day and grab them for lunch whenever. Also it lessens the traffic through most of the restaurants during lunch/dinner because parents are stuck to a particular time to feed their kids. They've got this one down pat with the exception of maybe the first day on board. Dining was hit or miss. I have a nut and gluten food allergy so I'm REALLY picky when it comes to food. One nice thing is that every menu states to tell the waiter about any food allergies you have. Definitely a good thing. They do have a variety of food items for your allergies that you can have at least in my case (gluten-free bread, pizza, etc). In fact .. the gluten free pizza i had was one of the best I've ever had since I found out i had celiac. The bad part was that service was hit or miss depending on which restaurant. The French was by far the best restaurant. Italian was good ... the rest I could take or leave. The service at those are not so good at least on this cruise. Stuff taking entirely WAY too long to get to us. When you're with kids that's definitely not a good thing as they get antsy. I also had one incident at the Venetian where they gave me a regular english muffin instead of the gluten-free one. I had already bitten into it too (luckily hadn't swallowed anything) when they came over and told me the kitchen gave them the wrong one. Had to spit it out. Close call that really didn't leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling about eating there. Also had another incident in the Venetian where a glass broke in one our friend's child's mouth. No real damage done but kind of hard to believe the glass broke. She does have a tendency to bite on which most likely had something to do with it. But can't believe it was weak enough to break. That could have been a disaster. Luckily it wasn't. Entertainment was ok. We didn't really see many shows but the bands were ok ... typical cheesy ... but ok. Served their purpose (and I've been in cover bands so I know what to look for). I liked the Casinos ... although I only broke even. My wife won in blackjack so I guess you have a good outlook when you win! :-) Service I'm giving a 3 as well. Mostly had to do with food. All other services I thought were good (ie room, concierge, shore excursion, security,etc) Wife said the massage on board was "ok" and was annoyed they had to pay an extra $10 to sit in the "sitting room" after. They complained about that and got it for free. They were really annoyed about that though after paying for the massage ... and amount for the trip. They just felt NCL was skimping on that and didn't feel "luxurious". My golf outing was good though. Rented good clubs from the ship and played Riddel's bay in Bermuda. Definitely a nice course. Value for the money ... the food service wasn't as good as I would have liked so I'm giving it a 3 for the value for money paid. Overall cruise I'm giving a 3 as well since I have had better cruises to Bermuda. Also don't like the fact that it can only port in the Dockyards instead of Hamilton and St. George. Definitely like those ports better (Hamilton being my favorite). Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Norwegian Dawn Sailing out of NYC to Bermuda Aug. 24th - Aug. 31st FIRST TIME CRUISERS WHO TRAVELED: Myself, husband, and our 2 girls....ages 3 ½ and almost 6 ½. HISTORY: This was our very first cruise. This was also our ... Read More
Norwegian Dawn Sailing out of NYC to Bermuda Aug. 24th - Aug. 31st FIRST TIME CRUISERS WHO TRAVELED: Myself, husband, and our 2 girls....ages 3 ½ and almost 6 ½. HISTORY: This was our very first cruise. This was also our first visit to Bermuda. Our vacations have mostly consisted of Sandals and Sandals Beaches vacations. We have always wanted to cruise, and decided to give it a try. With the airline rates being so high, and since we live in NJ , a cruise seemed like the way to go.....besides it being so easy to get to the pier. Royal Caribbean left out of NJ, but it was only a 5 day cruise to Bermuda. We wanted a 7 day vacation and that's why we chose NCL out of NY. EMBARKATION: Went nice and smooth. Here is where I met cruisebermuda on line. She says "hey, are you mammaof2girls?" and that was the freakiest yet coolest thing!...... Never meeting someone yet they know and recognize you (we all wore the mardi gras necklaces)!!! Neither I nor any of my family members had passports, and there were no problems at all. We had all our birth certificates, along w/ our Driver's License and all was fine. You will start needing passports for this trip to Bermuda in July 2009, for anyone who is interested to know. If you don't have a passport, not a problem at all as of now. Soda: We brought along two 6-packs of soda. We took it apart and just stuffed them in our carry ons. This was one of the best things we could have done!!! We had our room steward empty the fridge and the coffee maker, so we can have more room. And all our sodas fit in the fridge and we had something to drink with dinner (and lunch too, if we chose to). I also brought along those single servings of lemonade. We didn't use these as much as I would have liked to. I guess I sort of 'forgot" I had them. They would have come in handy since no juices are ever offered at all (for free) for lunch or dinner (I wrote more about that in the "food" section). After the champagne is given out when you first aboard the ship, everyone starts piling up in the main atrium. We shortly hit the garden buffet and were able to get a table with no problem. However, shortly after that, it became PACKED. So I was glad we got to the Garden buffet...which I think was a little before 12 noon. If you are hungry, I suggest you make your way quickly to deck 12 to the garden buffet. You will get a table if you're quick about it. But if you wait and hang around the atrium for a bit, you will arrive at the Garden Buffet very hungry and having to wait around or look for an open table. THE SHIP: Beautiful ship. We have nothing to compare it against since it's our first cruise, but it was very pretty. The coloring throughout....the carpets, the atrium....everything was really nice. The staff works extremely hard at what they do on the ship. You always see them working, working and working! STAFF: I was expecting a bit more "going out of their way friendliness" with the staff......but don't get me wrong, no one was rude. Let me explain: There were a lot that did say "hi" and smiled, but no one really went out of their way. I felt for the most part, most people did the bare minimum and that was it. However, at times it wasn't surprising to have crew members in the garden cafe, and sometimes even in the hallways to just pass you by and not going out of their way to say hi and talk to you....perhaps just a smile. I am thinking that maybe my expectations were high because at Sandals, it doesn't matter what the staff is doing....they literally go out of their way to talk to you and the kids and make you feel real special. A lot of the times it was basic greetings (sometimes not at all), but nothing like they were going out of their way for you. It's just hard getting 5-star treatment at all our vacations and then going on my first cruise and friendliness is a bit of a much lesser standard here, as far as "going out of their way" is concerned. Don't get me wrong, the crew was nice, but not overly friendly. Again, I think this is the Sandals comparison creeping up on me....which I know I shouldn't compare as they are 2 different types of vacations. The staff takes great care in helping to make the ship look as good as it does. They work very hard and you will always see them cleaning, wiping, scrubbing, etc. We felt the room stewards were the friendliest. Ours was Alex (he introduced himself) and he always made a point to say hi to my children and to go down to their level and talk w/ them. The Cruise Director is Pedro, and the asst. CD is Dimitri. The first time I saw Pedro wasn't until Wed. at the Garden Cafe (not counting the times he hosted a show). FOOD: DH wasn't thrilled w/ the fact that you are charged to eat at the specialty restaurants, so we just ate at one....Salsas. We enjoyed Salsas. I just had to try the Il Popo and the lobster tacos, and yes they are everything that you hear about. YUM. They don't cheapen the size of the lobster that is in those tacos, which is nice. During other dinner nights, we ate at the Venetian twice and Aqua twice. We ate around 5:30-6 pm. No wait. If you come after 6:15, service is longer and when you are done eating you will see a ridiculous line. We felt the food was very good at the main dining rooms. Every day their menu changes....and they also have a section of food on the menu that they have all the time. Please note the appetizers and entrees are pretty small portions. Do NOT hesitate to order more than one!!!! DH usually ordered 2 or 3 entrees and we always ordered a bunch of appetizers (every last crumb got eaten from us...nothing ever wasted! LOL). Had we just ordered one appetizer and one entrEe, we would have walked out of there hungry still. DH liked the service in Aqua better.....maybe it was those particular waitresses that we had. They really took the time to talk to our children, and they were really very, very nice and friendly. My 3 ½ yr. old fell asleep in Venetian twice......we believe it is their comfy chairs. LOL We saw a lot of pple in those main dining rooms wearing shorts, and extremely casual. I thought that wasn't allowed? Oh well. My girls ate off the adult menu in the main dining rooms. All except the last night, my oldest wasn't fond of the menu so she asked for pizza and spaghetti w/ red meat sauce. Do not ask for spaghetti with red meat sauce. It was awful. I mean literally awful tasting. I don't know how they made it, but even DH said it was awful. The cheese tortellini from the menu is sooooo good. My 3 yr. old really liked that. The asparagus and scallops appetizer - do not order just one. Those scallops were super tiny ....3 of them. So like I said, the appetizers are very small portions (and entrees too). I enjoyed the salad w/ walnut dressing and the watermelon salad too. The salmon w/ capers is delish. They serve it with these really long and flat egg noodles. Yum. We really enjoyed the food at the main dining rooms for sure! ? OMG, and the ship has the best hotdogs ever!!!!!! YUM! Try one (or two, or three....! LOL) GARDEN CAFÉ: Unfortunately, we never got to eat at Venetian for breakfast. ? They serve it only until 9:30 am and we were a bunch of sleepy heads I guess. The Garden Cafe gets very crowded, and a lot of times for breakfast and lunch you need to walk up and down to try and find an open table. A lot of times there were none, so we just had to wait for someone to finish. Food was good here....a lot of different variety. There is something for everyone. Expect a long wait on the omelet station. I never had any because the line was so ridiculous, and they only have the one station. Something that we were not impressed with: the drinks (and I'm not talking about alcoholic drinks). Ok, so for breakfast they have the water, OJ, cranberry juice and most of the time apple juice as well, where you just press that button and you pour it right into your glass. But once lunch rolled around, they took out all the juices and only water was offered (ok, there's also non-sweetened iced tea). DH and I felt: Why be cheap about it? I heard people on this board talk about them having lemonade....what a joke. Do you want to know the only time we saw the lemonade? On our last full day during breakfast....and that was it. There were never any juices ever offered for lunch or dinner - ever. A TIP: If you do want juice for lunch or dinner, go to the kids cafe, even if you are not a kid. They usually have apple juice in one of those pitchers right by the station. So we would get our apple juice there. Dh and I felt that they should have had those juices offered for lunches or dinner ...but that was not the case. Again, they only have them during breakfast only. We thought that was so lame. Chocolate Buffet: It's from 10:30-11:30 pm. Get there at 10:15 pm and you'll be fine. Get there any later, have fun standing on the longest line you ever saw. Seriously. I got there at 10:15 pm, and the line was already starting. I suggest you do the same. The chocolate buffet wasn't as 'extravagant' and 'over the top' as I was picturing it to be. But we enjoyed it. Something different. My 3 yr. old is a chocolate LOVER, so we were excited to share that experience w/ her. OUR CABIN: We were on Deck 10, inside cabin 10567. A little tight for 4 people, but we managed. It was small, but I thought it was going to be even smaller than that. I guess I was expecting the worst. We were hardly there....only to sleep so it was ok for us. It was a little tight especially around the closet/bathroom area (can't have the closet and bathroom door open at the same time). My girls LOVED when we went back to the cabin when they made it up for us at night...and to see the towel animals they did that night. Take note that the towel animals aren't done the first and last night of the cruise. Of course I took pics of all the different animals they did. ? I did bring post-it notes, and that was a GREAT WAY to communicate w/ the room steward. Even though we seen him all the time, he's busy with a billion other rooms and left notes as a reminder anyway. There was one birth bed (which I was told there was 2 berth beds) . And there were 2 twin beds and at night they took the rollaway bed from under and put it by the twin beds, so it looked like one big bed from one wall to the other. Some nights my 6 yr. old slept in the berth bed and during the last 4 nights, she slept with us and all 4 of us were snuggled on the "one big bed". Take note that if the berth bed is down, you can't see the tv!!! Had the tv been on the side where the vanity mirror is, you can watch tv with the berth bed down, but that wasn't the case. The berth bed gets in the way of the tv. We liked to unwind and put the tv on before bed. Also, I did bring a nigh light but it didn't fit into the outlet (the nighlight would have needed to be placed upside down, but couldn't do that because there was no room for the bulb). So what we did instead....which worked wonderfully....was we left the closet light on! Opened the closet door just a bit so some of the light emits out. I thought that was a great idea! ? So my girls were able to see in the dark if they needed to go to the bathroom. For all you about to go on a cruise, leave the nightlight at home. It's one less thing to pack and why take it when you can use the dim closet light. ? ENTERTAINMENT: We were extremely happy with the entertainment shows. The comedian (the name is escaping me right now), my husband loved. The magician....Gleason, was awesome. And The Bollywood show is a do not miss. Great entertainment. The Fairwell Show is comprised of both the magician and comedian....1/2 hr. each. During the magician only show on the 2nd night, DH, myself and our 2 girls chose seating in the first row. We got our seats ½ hr. before show time . It wasn't until 3 min. before show time that a NCL staff member says to us that we cannot sit there. "Why?", we asked. Because kids were not allowed in the first row. We tell him that we've been here for ½ hr. and how come you didn't say anything sooner because now all the seats were filled. Yea, we were a little pissed (especially my 6 yr. old). Fortunately, someone in the 2nd row said we can have their seats cuz they were going to go in the first row. So during the magician show, we did see other kids in the first row on the other side!!!! What was up with that and how come they never mentioned anything to them about not sitting there?? I just kept my mouth shut, and I really wanted to say something to that guy....but just dropped it. Anyway, for one of the events, the magician chose my 6 yr. old for his next trick. And she got chosen for the best one. It was one where she had to sit there on the stage with the magician while he told this story and it was so beautiful. The 'trick' was at the end having to do with a string. So at the end he gives her his cd, which is for sale at the end of the show. Well, would you believe, and this is no lie, my child was a celebrity for 2 days!!! After the show, tons of people recognized her and came up to her saying how she did a good job and this and that. In elevators, people recognized her, and in the restaurants and hallways...and even the next day....people spotted her as being the girl on stage w/ the magician. People even came up to my husband at the gym saying "wasn't your daughter the one......" We were absolutely amazed at her "celebrity status" and all the attention she received from other people on the ship anywhere she went, that they recognized her as being the one on stage w/ the magician. ? The magician also gave her a playing card and told her if she puts it under her pillow at night that it will turn into a whole deck of magic cards. Well, would you believe, as chance would have it that we did have a deck of playing cards in our luggage. So when she fell asleep, we put that deck of cards under her pillow where she put the one card that the magician gave her. You should have seen her face when she woke up. She was extremely excited that "the magician was right! Look! It turned into a whole deck of magic cards!" It really was too cute. POOLS: We did not go in the big pool....at all. No thank you. We felt the pool was much too small for all those people. I wouldn't even set my feet in there. Extremely crowded. The T-Rex pools are where my kids spent their time in on sea days. It was good for them, however there were some times where suddenly you see these adults in the tiny pool. I'm talking about the 10ft. round one...and there's a little slide going in there. So you have this tiny pool with about 6 adults standing around it in at one time. Yea, we were getting pretty annoyed. That left no room for my kids to swim and splash around. If you have to be standing there with your baby, than maybe the baby is just too little to be in there then. As for the other adults, I have no idea why they were in there....but come on people! Let the kids who are already in there be able to enjoy themselves. You are in the way!!!!! Also, it was annoying seeing these older kids try and go in that tiny pool (again, I'm talking about the tiny 10ft. round one). So, there was a staff member on duty that worked around there, and DH and I wouldn't hesitate to call him and point them out and he would tell them that they shouldn't be in there....that it's for younger kids. When we didn't see that staff member around, yes, I would take it upon myself to nicely tell those older kids that they shouldn't be there, that this pool is for little children. Call me mean and to mind my own business, but hey.....there is no reason why these 13 yr. old kids should be in there. They can get the little ones hurt. THE ARCADE: To us it was a joke. Most of the games cost $1.00 to play, and these games aren't even new. We're talking over 10 yrs. old. Also, to add insult to injury....1/2 of the games were out of order. While the arcade isn't a big deal to us, I just wanted to mention this in case there were other pple with kids who are interested in the arcade. KIDS CREW: My 6 ½ yr. old didn't seem too impressed with it. My 3 ½ yr. old, on the other hand, seemed to LOVE it. We never had them there during the day. If they were there it was for a couple hours in the evening. We left the choice of going there for my oldest and if she didn't want to go, we didn't make her (like we saw so many parents do! It was heart breaking to see/hear a child SCREAMING and clinging on because they didn't want to go and the parents just 'forcing' them to!!). The counselors seemed great. And my 3 yr. old's favorite was Panda. Panda actually started crying when she said goodbye to my Angelina. It was so sweet. ? When they are in the play gym area, you can go outside on the deck and 'spy' on your child. That's what we did just to see what our little one was up to. LOL It was quite funny and fun to do for a little bit. Beepers: That first day when we registered my kids for the camp (after we ate lunch), I asked about beepers (since my 3 ¾ yr. old is not potty trained yet)...and one of the girls tried to tell me that they can't us a beeper for her. When I asked why she proceeds to tell me that they only have 5 beepers, and they save them for the 2 yr. olds...the ones who are really not potty trained and are in diapers. And this is after I tell her my child has some issues and is delayed. Uh, just because my kid is in pull ups doesn't make her any less trained than a 2 yr. old in diapers. But later on that night when we did drop her off, I got a beeper with no problem. I mention this in case they try to say the same for your 'older' non-potty trained child. BERMUDA: We didn't go around much in Bermuda. We actually went to the same beach for the 3 days...Horseshoe Beach. It was so beautiful and we loved it. When you walk in there's a cove w/ rocks and such, which is a calmer and shallower area. Then you have the regular beach with the crashing of the waves. Our girls spent time at both areas. The calmer section to hang out and for them to swim without the intimidation and the regular beach section for more excitement (to run away from the waves as they come). We probably would have explored more and perhaps went to more places, but my 3 ½ yr. old was very off-ish. A couple things happened to her which resulted in her being cranky on and off.....one of them having to do with potty training incident (she wouldn't go poop on the potty no more after the automatic flushed kicked in and SCARED her half to death, so when poop-time came, it was extremely stressful on us all....and then another incident of her getting whacked in the forehead pretty good by a door, and spending time in the dr. office then her throwing up all her pain medication. That happened the first day we were in Bermuda...right before we hit the beach.). So my itinerary was to go and see more things, but that just didn't happen. That's okay though. We were happy we got to spend our time on such a beautiful beach in Bermuda. The cruise staff does not check if you have food in your bags when you leave the ship while in port, so I took it upon myself to pack some stuff from the Garden Cafe to the beach. This was the best thing we could have done. I packed dry cereal, croissants, Danish, and some apples or bananas. This is what my girls ate when they were hungry. Everyone else you see on the beach is eating snacks that they brought too from the ship. There was a time I got flamed for mentioning this on this board (when I mentioned about bringing a couple cookies offshore), and on the beach it was obvious I was not the only one who did this. EVERYONE was eating stuff that they got from the ship. They do have a place at Horseshoe Beach where you can buy food. But the prices are expensive. $5.00 for a hamburger and like $15.00 for fish and fries......very expensive. My snacks helped curb the hunger so when we left the beach, we would shower up and be ready for dinner. Bring lots of ziplog bags (large and small ones). This came in handy to store those snacks (and dirty or wet swimwear, etc.). ;) Don't waste your time in trying to bring some sand home. I had some in a little ziplock bag, and it showed up in the xray machine when we got back on the ship, and they had to take it away. They put my sand in a pile with about 5 other containers/bags of sand that others had too. LOL We also brought 2 big sports water bottles. We filled them up w/ water and ice so at the beach you don't have to worry about being thirsty or buying the expensive drinks there. TRANSPORTATION: We took the bus to Horseshoe Bay, and it takes 25 min. You then have to walk down this hill....a few minutes of a walk then you get to the beach. On your way back from the beach, there's a guy who will take you back up the hill for $1.00/per person. Kids under 10, I believe, are free. So for $2 each day...that little ride from him was sooooo worth it!!!! After a long day at the beach, you're hot and hungry.....no way do you want to walk up that hill with the kids and beach bags, etc. TIP: They say kids 5 and under are free for the busses and transportation in Bermuda. My oldest is 6 ½ and nothing was asked so we never paid for her fare. It's very easy to get away with having your "little older than 5 yr. old child" not pay. I'm not trying to be sneaky about anything, just honest with you. When you go up to the ticket booth, you just say "....for 2 adults" and they don't even ask you about the kids or even look at them to see what age they are. Same w/ on the busses. The bus drivers are very, very lax. DISEMBARKATION I'm so glad we chose to do a self disembark and take care of our own luggage. We were in our car by 7:45 am!!! We could have had breakfast and left our luggage in our room and retrieve it after breakfast....but we just wanted to start heading home. I'm not sure when the first times of disembarkation was, but I'm glad we were one of a small handful that decided to take our own and do it early. No waiting to find our luggage, no wait on customs....it was easy breezy!! It was a lot of walking all the way out to our final stop: our car!! OTHER TIPS: - The movie that is currently playing in the movie theater, is the same movie that is playing in your cabin tv. I forgot what channel it is, but we did find this out. - Keep in mind that if you want "Bermuda" souvenirs, there are more items that say "Bermuda" off the ship. There were more "Norwegian Dawn" items ON the ship. I mention this, because we were specifically looking for items that said Bermuda instead of NCL, and most of that will be found off the ship. - On down times, watch some of the NCL stations on the tv. You learn a lot about the crystal caves, the aquarium, etc. and lots of the other places you read about on this board! - In the Garden Cafe, apple juice can be found at the kids station during lunch and dinner. Since they take them away for lunch and dinner, you can get your apple juice from there. - T-Rex pool - Don't hesitate to call the staff member on duty or talk to him about older kids in the little pool, etc. He helped us with that, and after a while we started taking upon ourselves to politely tell those older kids that this pool is for little children. TO SUM IT UP: All in all, it was a good trip. We had a lot of fun and anything beats staying at home. Would I want to cruise again? Sure. However, my husband would want to try a different line first. I would want to see if there is a higher class of service as far as exceptional service and other little things that I feel could be a bit better on another cruise line. DH probably had a bit more complaints, or maybe 'annoyances' is a better word, than me and felt stronger on how he felt about them. I think though, that cruising just may not be for him. Some of it could also be a NCL thing. He is, however, willing to do/try another cruise......Royal Caribbean or Celebrity, before totally discounting cruising all together when it could just be the NCL experience for him. If another cruise doesn't work out for him, then we'll cough it up as him just being a resort type of guy. For him, he didn't like the whole "sailing on a crowded ship for 4 days" thing while only being on an island for 3 days. For him, he likes to be able to go from the pool, to the beach, to his room, back to the beach, etc. if he wanted to with ease. He felt claustrophobic on the ship he says....too many people all around and no 'elbow room' and felt like he was always on top of pple. LOL. This is why I feel a cruise may not fit his needs too much. He felt it was "too much" running around and traveling just to get to a beach....walk for 10 min, get the bus, walk back here, etc. He's more of a guy who wants to get there, and be there and be able to get back with ease. So I am happy though, that he is willing to try another cruise...but w/ another cruise line. The surcharge restaurants didn't sit well with him either. He feels that a cruise line who makes tons of money and we pay a pretty decent ticket fare, that they should have that included.....or minimally, at least the juices should be included for lunch/dinner instead of taking them away after breakfast. But these are his opinions and he's entitled to that. Just be careful because there may be some select items on the specialty menus that cost an additional surcharge on top of the initial surcharge. But I think a resort may suit my DH better. But, we shall see if a different cruise line does it for him. ;) You just never know! You will enjoy your cruise. We did. Despite some of our 'complaints' or "annoyances", I feel some of them had to do with the cruising aspect of it, and some had to do with the NCL aspect and some had to do with my higher expectations of things that just weren't there at times. But that's okay. None of that ruined our trip. ? Despite any of this, I never knew or heard of a vacation that I wished I rather be home. Myself, my husband and my kids did enjoy ourselves and we made the most of it as it beats being home. ? I do look forward in cruising again, and I'm glad that my DH is willing to give another cruise line a shot before he throws the ol' cruising towel in. ? I hope you found this useful and possibly informative, and thank you for taking the time to read my review. *This review is also posted in the NCL section, where you can ask me any questions. :) ~Dawn Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Returned home earlier today after our NCL Dawn Bermuda cruise. We were impressed at how well NYC handles its embarkation and debarkation procedures. On and off the ship in a breeze. Job well done, NYC We sailed with a group of 40 and ... Read More
Returned home earlier today after our NCL Dawn Bermuda cruise. We were impressed at how well NYC handles its embarkation and debarkation procedures. On and off the ship in a breeze. Job well done, NYC We sailed with a group of 40 and the general consensus was that the ship was well maintained and pleasing to the eye, but Freestyle concept left a lot to be desired. Cabins were not ready until 2pm so EVERYONE ended up in the Garden Cafe Took a walk out to the pool deck and was SHOCKED at how tiny the one and only pool for the whole ship was. I could already imagine the crowds that would be there on sea days. Don't quite understand the point of the T Rex kids pool if all the kids were in the main pool Cabins were nice but those who booked 4 in a room were quite shocked that there weren't 2 upper and 2 lower beds as is the case in most standard cabins. Rather there was only one upper bed and the 4th bed was stowed under one of the lower beds and was placed between the two lowers which meant 3 were sleeping in a row. It must have been quite a chore to get out of bed without disturbing others. Luckily it was just my wife and I in our cabin so we didn't have to deal with that dilemma. Still trying to figure out the point of the translucent sliding door in the bathroom to close when using the toilet. Even with that panel closed there was no way anyone was coming in to wash their hands!! Stewards were pleasant and did a good job. If you used that sliding disk under the cabin number just outside the door they knew when you were out of the room so they could come in to make up the room and to turn down the bed. Buffet food is buffet food; what can I say... been on enough cruises to know what to expect. We did enjoy the deck barbecues, especially the chicken. Ice cream cones by the pool was a nice touch too. Drink prices for mixed drinks came out to about $7.50 incl. tip. Beer was cheaper; Martini type drinks more.. Freestyle Dinner Experience.... Wherever you want-Whenever you want. They got the first part down good, they still need to get the "whenever you want" down pat. It was obvious that the poor hostesses who stood by the dining room doors yelling out cabin numbers to people who were sitting on the staircases giving them real dirty looks would much rather have not been there! They looked frazzled at times. Trying to get reservations was a futile attempt and after awhile we just got dressed and went to a restaurant and said whenever we eat is when we eat... the wait was generally around 30 minutes. Although we were a group of 40 we did not eat together so it wasn't as if they were trying to seat 40 in one shot. Everyone in our group agreed the Freestyle experience wasn't for them and were very disappointed in that aspect of the cruise. The dining room food was good. Although the servers were pleasant one could tell they were very rushed to get meals out as fast as possible. As soon as one course was picked up it was just a matter of seconds before the next course was in front of you. They apologized profusely that they were setting the tables as we were seated. Activities: Basically you could go to Bingo, then to some sort of alcohol tasting, back to bingo, then to an art auction, then to another alcohol tasting, followed by another round of bingo! Announcements were made by assistant cruise director Demetri, and yes, we occasionally saw the cruise director Pedro out on the pool deck on the smoking side having a cigarette and looking pretty... he didn't do much else IMHO to motivate anyone whatsoever. They had an evening pool deck party one evening which was probably attended by about 20 adults and the usual groups of teens which hung out after the sun went down because they were bored. There was also a White Hot Night Party... we went to take a peek and the teens were having a blast! Thought it was meant for adults only Chocolate Buffet in Garden Cafe. TOTAL MASS CONFUSION>>>> They had staff directing guests from end to end and you ended up where you started... Total chaos and once we finally saw what was available we agreed that it wasn't worth the hassle. Bollywood was OK if you like Cirque de Soleil type show. Adult comedian did a pretty good job of keeping everyone laughing. There were about 10 kids in our group aged 10-17 and they didn't care for the Kids Club at all. This was obvious since all the kids seemed to be roaming the ship and hanging around from morning till late at night (especially once dinner was over). I was surprised that on the last evening of the cruise when we got our luggage tags and customs forms that there were no comment cards given out. We've ALWAYS gotten them (the ones that say that they value our opinion). P.S. BERMUDA WAS WONDERFUL! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Just got back from Norwegian Dawn cruise to Bermuda. This was my first cruise & I guess there were good & bad parts...here goes... GOOD: The cruise ship is beautiful. It is very clean & large, there was great maid service, ... Read More
Just got back from Norwegian Dawn cruise to Bermuda. This was my first cruise & I guess there were good & bad parts...here goes... GOOD: The cruise ship is beautiful. It is very clean & large, there was great maid service, & very good food in the "free" restaurants. Embarking & return were quite smooth. BAD: Front Desk-every time I tried to ask them something I got a different response! Restaurants: After paying a fairly expensive price for a balcony room they really have some nerve charging an ADDITIONAL price for MOST of their restaurants. Seriously! Pictures: Yes, it's nice to take pictures but not only were they overpriced, they were taken in the main entry-way and made it very difficult to get through every evening. I felt that any time they thought they could get money out of you they tried to! Even BINGO started at $34 but we were told you don't have a chance at winning unless you play with the $70 boards...honestly $70 to play BINGO? The cruise director was TERRIBLE! The only time he tried to tell us what was going on was if there was money for NCL to make (example only mentioned BINGO or the art auction or the meeting to book future cruises). If I heard him say "drop your hotdogs for smashing bingo" one more time I might have slapped him! All of the drinks including a soda had an automatic 15% tip added to the bill. The art auction was a joke! Nothing comes framed and they charge an additional $50 to ship the artwork! Also, there was very limited nightlife and the shows were TERRIBLE! I saw better in my 10th grade drama class! I would take another cruise but DEFINITELY NOT with NCL! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Because of the horrible and unsettling announcement 4 hours into the voyage that some poor soul had fallen overboard, this became a very complicated and difficult cruise to truly enjoy. However the following are some observations on the ... Read More
Because of the horrible and unsettling announcement 4 hours into the voyage that some poor soul had fallen overboard, this became a very complicated and difficult cruise to truly enjoy. However the following are some observations on the May 11 NCL Dawn sailing out of NYC to Bermuda: Embarkation: traffic around and into the pier can be a problem so allow plenty of time. From arrival time (about noon) at the pier to boarding was about an hour; rooms were ready about 1:30 PM. Luggage arrived about 5PM. Ship: our room was inferior compared to other ships we have sailed on. The carpet was worn and stained, the mirror behind the bed had 2 big grease stains on it and hadn't been cleaned in a while; the balcony was very dirty. However in general, the public areas on the ship were very clean and in great shape. Cabin Steward: she never introduced herself and we finally sought her out in the evening. While she was friendly enough, our simple requests for a bottle of water or filling the soap dispenser always required several reminders. I always give an advance tip of $40 but this time it had no affect on the level of service. Entertainment: this was a big disappointment. The 3 Jean Ryan productions were good, especially "Band on the Run" which is a new version of a show we have seen before. Bollywood was also good and very creative; the Miami show was entertaining. All the rest was pretty bad; I have see better piano players at high school recitals. Dining: I am not sure of the value of the NCL upgrade called "2.0"; the food was much the same as our experience on the NCL Star in 2007. The Venetian and Aqua dining rooms were very well run; service was great and the food very good. Bamboo has a similar menu to PF Chang's (Asian fusion) and the food is also very good. Impressions is well worth the modest $10 cover charge; the food is excellent. Salsa is one of the better venues but if I hadn't befriended some of the staff, I would have never gotten a table. It seemed like they were doing a favor by accommodating diners, but by 9 PM the place was usually empty. Cagney's was a huge disappointment; a long wait and very over-rated. Again, getting seated seemed like some over-complicated ordeal While seating is a little close, the Blue Lagoon serves some great appetizers, burgers and wings. Although we usually avoid buffets, there is a Deli station in the buffet restaurant that prepares some great NY style sandwiches! Casino: some of the staff were very poorly trained and unfamiliar with pay-off procedures and gambling rules. However free drinks are finally offered (to players with an NCL players card) and no fee is charged for obtaining money against your ship-board account. We won about $800 on slots and another $1,000 on table games; some was returned to the casino but most was applied against our account. Staff: Friendly but nearing the end of their contract and no doubt anxious to go home. This is a very tough job and you have to respect them for maintaining such a positive attitude with so many over-demanding and over-indulgent passengers. Disembarkation: NCL does such a great job with this; the colored tags drive an efficient and painless process. On the final day, we had a nice breakfast in the Venetian and afterwards waited for about 45 minutes in our cabin for our color to be announced. From then, it took less than 45 minutes to clear US Customs, retrieve our luggage and be on our way to the Newark airport. Weather: be forewarned, there is a reason why the price for a spring cruise to Bermuda is so low. While the weather on the island may be pleasant enough, the Atlantic is very unpredictable anytime but can be particularly hostile during this time of the year. While on the ocean to and from Bermuda we experienced storms, gale force winds and waves from 18' to 42' almost the entire time. One afternoon, my wife and I were sitting at the window by Le Bistro and the ship hit a wave that covered the entire window and we were virtually looking into the ocean, A passenger walking in the hallway actually got wet from sea water that penetrated the window seal. Another time, I was standing on our 10th floor balcony watching the ocean and suddenly I was looking at a totally white wall of ocean spray. I loved this wild aspect of the cruise but I am sure I was in the minority. Bermuda; beautiful, safe, historic; without a doubt one of the best ports we have ever visited. Conclusion; the Dawn is a very good ship that offers great value. Feel free to email with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
May 11th, 2008. What a way to celebrate Mothers Day as poor Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death. From our nearby cabin on the same deck, we could see the flashing light on the floating life jacket someone had ... Read More
May 11th, 2008. What a way to celebrate Mothers Day as poor Mindy Jordan went over her balcony railing, plunging to her death. From our nearby cabin on the same deck, we could see the flashing light on the floating life jacket someone had tossed to the seas in an attempt to reach her. We watched in awe from our own Balcony as the ship dispatched a rescue boat and quickly recovered the life jacket, with no-one attached. As hope began to dwindle, the Captain (along with the Coast Guard) made a valiant effort for several hours circling the area in the wake of increasingly stormy seas. Just one announcement was made from the bridge that evening. The original plan was to outrun or sidestep the oncoming storm over the Atlantic, but now delayed by the (necessary) attempted rescue mission, we would be forced to endure 36 hours of the roughest waters and highest seas of the year, with waves from 27 to 42 feet and winds up to 40 mph. Oddly enough, I slept like a baby, being rocked to sleep, as others feared for their lives and the life of the woman overboard. It wasn't until late next morning that the Captain informed us of the tragic loss at sea, and that our ship was seaworthy enough to continue through the storm. When my wife and I finally attempted to leave the cabin, we saw all the barf bags put around the ship, and the few brave seasick souls wandering the halls, we realized we were better off HORIZONTAL for as long as possible. Waiting in our cabin, we figured that at any time now, the ship's cruise director and entertainment staff would do SOMETHING to comfort the guests and take our minds off everything that was going on. No such luck. For the next two days, the ship looked like a ghost town. When people started getting bored, looking for games, activities, distractions, communication and camaraderie from the crew...their was none to be had. Little did we know that most of the crew were in their LAST MONTH of a ten month contract, and couldn't wait to get off the boat and back home to their families. For whatever reasons, after 30+ cruises, we have never seen lower morale, friendliness or competency of the staff OR crew. The ONLY announcements that would be made for the rest of the cruise was when they had something to sell you like jackpot bingo or the art auctions or a casino tournament. At Sprinkles Ice Cream Parlor on the (drained) pool deck, there was NEVER any sprinkles available, or toppings, or cups, or chocolate ice cream. Where are the sprinkles at sprinkles we asked. We were told it's just a name. How about some chocolate syrup? Sorry, it's all gone stale. Because of the sea conditions, all outdoor pools and hot tubs had to be drained. This included the equally miserable voyage BACK to NY as well. Well, at least we had TWO cabin stewards to attend to our stateroom, and leave us ONE bath towel nightly (total) for the both of us. After sleeping in on the morning of the severe storm, we saw them both outside in the hallway and requested that our cabin be made up. They told us NO, it would mean they have to work overtime, and that we should call the reception desk for help. Of course the one-touch buttons on the in-cabin phone NEVER worked, so good luck trying to get someone to answer. They did however, call us two days later about a soda spill on he carpet that we had reported on Day 1. At this point, let me rewind our story to BEFORE the cruise, when the Compass Rewards department of NCL delayed a certificate we had been awarded (through their Bank Of America MasterCard program) and the NCL reservations dept. overcharged a cruise amount not authorized by us. It is in the process of being straightened out and correct credits applied. Oh well, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. And you really can't blame the rude thugs who welcome you at embarkation at the Port Of New York, because they may not work directly for NCL? When we were sitting in the waiting area before going through security, my wife asked approx. how much longer it might take. So this NASTY security agent yells "FIVE HOURS....3 Hours, maybe 3 Minutes, I don't know what you people want me to tell, you...how would I know, I just work here! Now just stay seated and you have to WAIT like everyone else". I videotaped HER and many other incidents of rudeness and thoughtlessness that I can't wait to edit and send to NCL (and upload to YouTube). But being a cruise out of NEW YORK, we figured let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Once onboard, the ship IS drop-dead beautiful (for lack of a better term) and has one of the best layouts of public lounges and passenger deck space that we've ever seen. The welcome glasses of Champagne are a nice touch, even of you are NOT personally escorted to your stateroom, as some lines still do. Of course the ravenous New York crowd, many with their luggage still in tow, had to gridlock the grand-atrium lobby to make reservations for the week at all the alternative dining venues before even making their way to their cabins. The average age of THIS crowd seemed to be a little too old even for Holland America! (But we're on NCL). Being in our 40's, and knowing that we'll be seniors one day, I'm not going to make any disparaging remarks here, but let's just say that the "mature" crowd you get on Celebrity or Princess out of Florida or even Europe are a tad more refined then their East Coast counterparts. We knew we'd have to make our own FUN on this ship (This ain't even Carnival), and thank God we brought the travel-scrabble with us and I've got unlimited email access through my iPhone! By the time we got to Bermuda, I was actually THRILLED to be paying $2 per minute to call the office and hear about problems AWAY from the cruise! Okay, so what went so wrong? Can you really blame NCL for the stormy seas, or the poor woman who went overboard? (NOT due to the stormy seas). NO. However, one would expect that at fearful times fraught with endless hours of BOREDOM and SEASICKNESS aboard ship, with many outdoor decks closed off for safety reasons...that the staff and crew would have a PLAN B to comfort and entertain the guests. Perhaps some more announcements not to worry. Perhaps the Calypso band playing out on deck even if pools were drained. Perhaps extended hours at the buffet, or the opening of the other restaurants BEFORE 5:30 PM Perhaps a complimentary open bar for an hour or two. Perhaps an impromtu game or activity in the daytime, BEFORE the late evening shows. (No hairy chest or knobby knees contests here!) Perhaps the quartet playing during the day when you could hear a pin drop. Perhaps a MOVIE or TWO added to the Cinema's schedule of night-time only flicks. No such thoughtfulness here. WE spoke with many 1st time cruisers who were horrified at the whole experience and vowed never to cruise again. But now, let's talk about what went RIGHT. And some things were GREAT! ***The Buffalo Wings at the 24 hour Blue Lagoon are GREAT. (Included) ***The Fresh Fruit Smoothies served at all bars are GREAT. ($6.90 each) ***All of the non-included restaurants are WONDERFUL and worth the added service charge, with our favorite being "Impressions" Italian Restaurant also the best value ($10.00 pp) Beware, however of screaming babies being brought everywhere, including those ambient upscale dining venues, as well as the disco at midnight! Few parents thought to arrange for babysitting or ever considered their child's sleeping patterns. ***NCL's Childrens Activities Programs are great, and we heard nothing but raves about them from parents who were NOT total yahoos. ***The nightime entertainment, lounges, production shows were all VERY GOOD even if their was limited dancing (other than disco). We participated in the Second City Comedy Troupe shows and workshops and even starred in a lame-o version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (with 5 people sitting in the audience) ***BERMUDA. Being docked for 3 days at Royal Navy Dockyard and being able to come and go from the ship 24/7 is GREAT! The ferry boats all run on schedule to take you to Hamilton and St. George AND our highlight of the week was renting out own scooters, (my wife doesn't drive, but they will rent to anyone over 16) and speeding around the winding roads in the rain while looking at the seascape instead of the road ahead. Oh, what a RUSH! ***The SPA. The ONE time we were able to use it, was GREAT! They only allow a limited number of guests at one time, so you never feel crowded. And it's ADULTS ONLY!!! So NO screaming babies! There are male, female and co-ed relaxation rooms overlooking the aft. / ships wake. Steam rooms, sauna, etc. The cost is $20 per day per person or $75 for unlimited use all week. We had opted for the unlimited use of the Spa's heated indoor pool, jacuzzi and hydrotherapy tub, all of which were closed on the seas days as well. On the last day, I firmly requested a full refund of the $140 (for 2) Spa up-charge and they did comply (albeit begrudgingly and without apology). ***If you are celebrating an ANNIVERSARY, you will have a special song sung to you at dinner. It's the only song they know, and we heard it many times. (We don't want to ruin the surprise for you). ***The Forward (BOW) Jacuzzi behind the Bimini Bar (hot dogs and hamburgers) above the pool deck. Secluded, overlooking the ocean and away rom the noise. If it ever had water in it on a sea day,this would have been our favorite spot. ***The Casino has slots and every table game except for Caribbean Stud Poker, which is probably a good thing as it curtailed my donation from being higher. They put out a little munchie buffet every evening. ***The Chocoholic Buffet, albeit ill-timed and placed. Get there EARLY so after waiting on a 45 minute long snaking line, YOU won't find all the chocolate covered strawberries and apples gone while the late show has already started. All in all, how can we complain? Okay, so we did have to spend approx. $92,000 on two MasterCards to accumulate enough Compass Rewards points to be awarded FOUR $500 certificates good towards this $2,000 cruise for two. We took a chance went in OFF-SEASON to Bermuda on the very rough Atlantic Ocean, before our certificates were to expire. Each day onboard felt like a week, but now that we're home for a few hours we're asking "How did a week go by so fast?" And how can we be THIS hungry again so soon? Writing this review, as I look out the window from our 21st floor condo in Guttenberg, NJ. I see the Norwegian Dawn leaving again (weather is still bad) with another 2,000+ "FreeStyling" it, thankful that we are home safe and alive, and looking forward to our next cruise in January...which thankfully will NOT be on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We 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
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
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
After reading so many negative reviews, I didn't expect much. We received a good rate via the internet that guaranteed an outside cabin. We were given an obstructed view (lifeboats) and a very small room. We called to be sure our ... Read More
After reading so many negative reviews, I didn't expect much. We received a good rate via the internet that guaranteed an outside cabin. We were given an obstructed view (lifeboats) and a very small room. We called to be sure our cabin had a coffee maker as I had seen a review saying it has just a kettle. After being assured there was a brew type coffee maker-a kettle was in our room. The reviewers know more than the cruise line. Boarding was quick but our pictures had been transposed-so we had to have them redone at the entrance to the ship. A nice surprise was the restaurants-service was excellent! The wait staff in all areas tried to meet your expectations. One Hostess,in particular, made our an impression with her professionalism. Unfortunately, that can't be said of the social directors. A murder mystery supper had people lined up at one deck for almost 20 minutes. Then we were told to go to the deck above. No apology-just the woman in charge saying go ahead report me-who cares. Some who had waited were elderly and had been assured that they were in the right place. While the weather wasn't great, we did have beautiful weather the day we reached their private island. The set-up for tender tickets took too long with long lines. However, the boarding and return was well done. The island itself was wall to wall chairs and we were really on top of one another. The Dawn had good entertainment and a really good casino staff. The lounge staff aren't too pushy except on the day you get on-they push drinks in their special glass that is way overpriced . They bring it automatically -so you have to insist they return it and most passengers don't want the bother. I think our trip was okay for the price paid. I must say New Yorkers are very friendly cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
To give this review some perspective, I am writing it as a frequent cruiser, having cruised 8 times with Carnival and once with Princess within the last 4 years. I cruise with my wife, friends and sometimes our children who are in their ... Read More
To give this review some perspective, I am writing it as a frequent cruiser, having cruised 8 times with Carnival and once with Princess within the last 4 years. I cruise with my wife, friends and sometimes our children who are in their mid twenties. We are in our mid to late 50s, but are active for our age and enjoy beaches and snorkeling in most ports. We cruised in late May to Bermuda, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay. As we usually find with any trip, some things were good, some things were not so good. Overall we had a relaxing and enjoyable cruise that was well worth the money we spent. However, we decided that we would not cruise NCL again for two reasons: 1. The food quality was well below what we have had on the other cruise lines and 2. NCL doesnt seem to be able to handle crowds of people as well as other ships we have been on. This was our first time to cruise out of NY. We took the train to NY, and caught a taxi to the port with no problems. I hesitated to leave my luggage with a handler near the street curb, but I was assured by a few nearby staff that it would be OK which it was. We started boarding about noon, a pretty much routine and painless process. My impression of the Dawn was that it was a beautiful, colorful, classy ship with marble staircases, lots of greenery and art, and showing little or no signs of wear. The staff seemed very friendly and did their job well. We had an interior room that was nicely appointed, but because of the closet location, it was annoying that my wife and I kept bumping into each other in that room. The bathroom seemed fine and relatively roomy. Beds were very comfortable. The digital temperature control on the wall worked well and we were able to maintain a temperature that was perfect for us. Now heres the big comment: the menu was boring and the food was rather poor in quality. Each night when we read the menu posted on the dining room (the same menu in all 3 main dining rooms) we couldnt find anything that sounded exciting. It seems that NCL must want to cheap it up on food so they served lots of pasta, rice and crowd-type dishes. Dinner desserts also were, for the most part, not very exciting. For example, one main dish was oxtail stew. So I ended up eating fish most nights which was almost acceptable. My beef-loving wife couldnt find beef anywhere, so she ended up ordering chicken twice that must have been sitting under a heat lamp for hours since it was all dried out. And the tasty shrimp and lobster that we always get with Carnival was nowhere to be found unless you went to one of the three pay-extra specialty restaurants. Both of us did love the freestyle dining concept though that allowed us to show up for dinner at almost any time between 5:30 and 10. The lunch time buffets and sandwiches also seemed inferior to what we were used to with the other cruise lines. Each item was given a fancy name, but the substance looked like something out of a can. The burgers and fries seemed OK if thats what you want. The lunchtime desserts were the worst. On Carnival, there were always several great looking desserts making it a hard decision which to pick. But on the Dawn, the desserts all looked like the same boring pound cake with a little bit of color on top. Fortunately, there was fruit which was always my dessert. And fortunately again, Im eating more vegetarian these days and NCL had a few mediocre vegetarian dishes. I suppose one could get by with what they provided if you weren't too picky. The Dawn did offer three pay-extra restaurants which I found very difficult to reserve. We did try the French Bistro and the food there was good but not great. I was, however, impressed as we ate dinner inches from a priceless original Van Gogh painting. I'm sure I enjoyed that more than dinner. There are 4 priceless originals in that restaurant. On a few lunch days, NCL has a barbecue by the pool that includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and ribs. This is pretty cool .. but. the burgers are a bit dry and I spent ten minutes looking a rib over for something edible on it other than sauce. Also the ice cream they hand out by the pool is a baby cone that shows how cheap NCL is with the food. The ice cream was tasty though. Of the free beverages, the only thing you can get is tea and coffee. And NCL serves the ice tea in those cute little glasses that annoyingly hold only about 5 ounces. I guess they think that 5 ounces of liquid is enough in the blazing Bahama sun. Either that or they want you to encourage you to purchase the alcoholic drinks. Watch out for that beverage line because the main traffic passes through the same aisle and you are very likely to be bumped and spill your beverage. After leaving NY we had an enjoyable day at sea and we arrived at Bermuda at Kings Wharf. Bermuda was beautiful! Kings Wharf is a bit isolated from the rest of Bermuda, but ferries and bus service were readily available. We chose to walk to the nearby snorkel park which was only a ten minute walk, but I didnt snorkel since it was early in the day and the air hadnt warmed up yet. So we decided to grab a bus and head for Horseshoe beach. This beach was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen (and Ive seen many beautiful ones). The big rocks sticking out of the water added lots of character. The sand was wonderfully soft and pink, and there was a lunch stand at one end. I did snorkel here a little and found the 73 deg water to be pretty nice. Saw some nice coral and some fish and took lots of photos. I hope to return there soon. Again a day at sea that was great and relaxing, although deck space for sunning seemed hard to find. We did manage to find a spot that worked for us. I couldn't seem to get a table in the pool area to enjoy an outside lunch. The next day when we arrived at Great Stirrup Key, a storm front had passed through leaving rain and waves too high for us to tender to shore. So that port was canceled and we went earlier than planned to Nassau. A bit of a disappointment but you cant plan the weather. Our stop in Nassau went well and we visited the Atlantis and saw all the aquariums. The beach there is very big and probably the best beach around. Time at this port is broken up. You only have a few hours in the evening and a few hours the next morning. But some people managed to do and see more than we did with that time. After Nassau, we headed back to NY and had another great relaxing day at sea. For our entire cruise, I found the seas to be remarkably calm. Possibly also the ship may have stabilizers that help a lot. Maybe we just got lucky. I didnt find much on the entertainment listing that interested me so we didnt take in any shows. Maybe others would like the entertainment they provide. We did however like the little on-board movie theater that was showing good movies three times a day. We also liked the gym which was spacious and well equipped. Having a little time to work out is a luxury that I don't normally seem to have. Also the indoor pool area near the gym was very nice and we enjoyed uncrowded time in the pool, hot tubs, and saunas. We arrived in NY on time. Disembarkation seemed pretty routine. We did have difficulty getting a taxi from the port. I had expected a bunch of taxis to be there but found only one or two. So we were forced to drag our (overpacked) luggage downstairs and across the street to a taxi stand&but still we couldnt catch a cab. Finally we paid twice the cab fare and caught a limo. All in all we did enjoy this cruise. I don't think that there is such a thing as a bad cruise. If you don't care much about the food, the Dawn might be OK for you. But next time we will cruise with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
OK gang, let me begin by telling you that this was my 4th cruise, having already sailed on Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean before embarking on this NCL cruise. Embarkation- Not really a problem. The setting in NYC is rather ... Read More
OK gang, let me begin by telling you that this was my 4th cruise, having already sailed on Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean before embarking on this NCL cruise. Embarkation- Not really a problem. The setting in NYC is rather gloomy- you step into a building resembling a large aircraft hanger, which is typical of the facilities used by cruise lines. The staff charged with "greeting" new passengers was a mix of happy and less than ambitious folks. Since we live only an hour away and were traveling with our 10 month old, we opted to park upstairs and pay the weekly rate of $180 (a RT limo would have cost just as much). Arriving at 11:45 we were onboard by 12:30- check-in was a breeze. Public Space- The Dawn is very easy on the eyes. The common areas, including the atrium and pools, are well appointed. The ship doesn't really show any wear and tear in these areas. As it relates to the main pool deck, be reminded that since this ship is on the "smaller" side of the megaships, deck space is at a premium, regardless of whether you desire a deck chair in the sun or table and chair in the shade. The "chair hogs" were out in full force, especially on the days at sea. I've mentioned the main pool, and the ship also offers a "kiddie" pool. Note that if your child is in a stroller, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get to the kiddie pool deck without going down a staircase. There is no elevator access and the only other means is to cut through the gym aerobics studio- one of the trainers even remarked as to "how stupid of a setup" it was. The pools were overwatched by men whose job it was to point and whistle at every little deviation from appropriate pool conduct. Walking too fast? Whistle. Raising your voice? Whistle. At one point, there were whistles every other minute, and their routine grew tired quickly. Upkeep on the pool deck is big for me, as we tend to spend a lot of time outside. One thing I noticed on NCL as opposed to Celebrity is that their deck personnel are less than motivated. By this I mean that their personnel would let glasses/dishes accumulate on an outside table, to the point where you couldn't put any fresh glasses or plates down, and only by your asking did they remove the offending pieces. In my eyes, if you as an employee pass an empty glass, pick it up, it's that simple. The same goes for towels which are not being used, such as those rolled up into balls and laying on the deck. Cabin- We had a BB Balcony Cabin amidships on deck 9. It was myself, my wife and our 10 month old in the cabin. The cabin was well appointed in layout and amenities. The balcony was a nice size, enough for 2 deck chairs and a small table. The cabin was also appointed with a pull-out chair which doubled as sleeping for the 3rd person, but we of course opted to bring out own pack-n-play along for our son to sleep in. For those parents in a similar setup, don't rely upon the cruise line to supply the crib or pack-n-play if it can be avoided- from what I saw of the pieces in the hallway BEFORE they were set up, they are old and dirty- not what you would want your child sleeping in by any means. Stateroom attendants were courteous and responsive, but did not go over the top. One thing which struck me as odd was prior to the lifeboat drill, I approached our steward and requested a lifejacket for my son. He told me that he would bring it to the cabin later in the evening. Now, wouldn't it make more sense for the jacket to be provided to you in advance of the drill, so as to ensure full compliance? No towel animals (I don't care one way or the other) but I know that it's a big deal to some of you. The room was turned over promptly by the Steward, made even easier with the "wheel" outside your room, whereby you could select "do not disturb," "turn down bed," and "make up cabin." Storage was ample, with plenty of room in the closet for 2 large suitcases and clothes hanging above, coupled with additional space in the adjacent shelves and drawers. Central air control is a nice touch. Shower was roomy enough for me, though the toilet is somewhat claustrophobic- but what can you expect- on a cruise you know what kind of bathroom you will end up with so there aren't any surprises. Sheet quality- poor, very pilly and felt as if they had been washed since the ship first took to the water. Upgrading the linens more than once every 4 or 5 years may been in order. Dining- Ah the important category for many of us. We did not partake in room service, so I don't have a comment for you there. Breakfast buffet- good. They have enough stations so that waiting time is very limited, and food selection was good. I like that everyone is asked to use the "sanitizing station" to clean their hands prior to picking up a tray- you can never be too careful. Lunch buffet- just "OK". The dishes tended to be repetitive and lines were somewhat longer. Note that you do have free iced T, juice and of course coffee, milk and hot tea/hot chocolate available at all times. Dinner- We ate in one specialty restaurant, Bamboo- opting for the Hibachi with private chef. We were in a group of 13 and the room held up to 20- 10 people to a chef. Food presentation was good, quality was very good and it was certainly entertaining. For main dining purposes, you have 3 options for traditional dining room settings- we opted for the Venetian which was on deck 4 AFT. Let me begin by telling you that I walked in with a certain expectation as far as quality and presentation of the food was concerned, and the expectation was not met. The menu was "average" at best and presentation was less than original. Ordering that shrimp cocktail? Beware, you will be presented with a small bowl of "egg roll shrimp"- very, very mini. Appetizers were adequate but not stimulating, but deserts seemed to be the hit of the table. In the end, I guess that you could say the food was sufficient but if you asked me to give you details as to any entree consumed in the main dining room, I wouldn't be able to do so. Ask me the same question about a Celebrity Cruise from 3 years ago and my eyes will immediately open as I give you detail upon detail. Entertainment/Casino: Onboard entertainment was good, especially the "Bollywood" show. The Stardust Theater is beautiful, great sightlines and plenty of room. If the juggler/comedian is on your cruise, do everything possible to avoid the show- it's a complete train wreck. I've never met anyone who was so "un-entertaining"- 90% of the audience members had left by the midpoint of the show, myself included. Casino is a good size and while I'm not a big gambler ($40 spent on this cruise), it did seem like there was enough variety to go around. Itinerary- Very important. The stop in Bermuda can't be missed. Be sure to take the ferry to Hamilton and do some shopping. The downtown is very well-kept and you could certainly fare much worse, like downtown Nassau, which we spent all of 30 minutes in. The in-between for us was NCL's private island, where tender service brought you to a beach with chairs, umbrellas, facilities and a buffet lunch. Do yourself a favor and sign up for a tender early the day before, it will ensure that you get to the island before the masses later in the day, and that you can still land a pretty decent spot on the beach, along with umbrella/chair. Nassau I can do without- Atlantis doesn't really impress me much and I've been to the Bahamas already, so I imagine that a first time visitor will certainly have enough time to see a sight or two. Recap- All in all, it was a good cruise, since we didn't have to hop on an airplane and the port is less than an hour from our home. The food wasn't up to our expectations but the cabin was pleasantly surprising. A cruise like this is certainly what you make of it. We didn't walk on thinking that it was a Raddisson or Silver Sea cruise, and I feel as though NCL did "just enough" to justify your paying decent $ to travel over the memorial day weekend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
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 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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