Since I got so much great information on cruising from this site, thought I should pay it back with a detailed (and long) review of the Dawn 8/17 sail out of NY...It was my husband and myself (late 30s, if it matters) We had a fantastic ... Read More
Since I got so much great information on cruising from this site, thought I should pay it back with a detailed (and long) review of the Dawn 8/17 sail out of NY...It was my husband and myself (late 30s, if it matters) We had a fantastic time, but as we did not do too much of the entertainment, I can't really rate it. If you have a question about the Dawn, let me know and I will try to answer.
Here's what we did...
Embarkation: Got to the pier at 11:15 and was paying corkage on my wine (4 bottles) about 3 minutes later! No big deal, got it all paid and was all processed and on the boat by about 11:45. We had a mini-suite and went into a special line to get processed, but I don't think the line for regular rooms was any longer. Very smooth process, I was drinking my free champagne in no time (yes, it was cheap, but not the worst I've ever had)
Rooms were not ready so we checked our hand luggage (very easy) and explored the ship-I have to say the whole ship looked spotless and the staff was very friendly. We made reservations at Le Bistro for that night and Salsa the next-no problem getting 7:30 each night. I did excursions on-line a few weeks ago so that was taken care of.
Toured the gym and signed up for Yoga-4 classes for 30 bucks-I suggest you bring your own mat-it takes up very little space and is cleaner! Gym looks great, tons of machines and classes
We went to the Venetian for lunch, I did not like my entrEe (Thai noodles with Beef) so I sent it back and got EXCELLENT risotto instead, my husband had good quiche. Good service, no issues.
Our room was ready so we went to check it out-we were in a forward mini-suite on 11-I must say, our room was SPOTLESS and all set up. Everything gleamed, and our gin had been delivered. All through the trip, our stewards (Renato and Claudia) were excellent, every request filled, always a smile, towel animals every night (for what that's worth) and a spotless room.
Dinner at Le Bistro-Best service all week (and all service was generally very good) -excellent food, highlights include rack of lamb, mushroom soup and asparagus with orange sabayon. The chocolate fondue was just okay-none of the deserts really did it for me all week. Also, the shipboard wines by the glass list is generally very good. $20 cover per person, I would say it was worth it.
Gave money to the Casino, went to bed. The new bedding on board, by the way was great-very plush and comfy, higher quality sheets.
Sea Day 1-Room service coffee, then to the Gym for 8:30 yoga and a workout. Yoga was good-45 minutes of mixed Asana/Bikram. The gym was crowded, but after class I had no problem getting a machine. I suggest you wipe it down before using; no one seems to wipe the machines when they are done and they do not post instructions to do so. I realize I sound like a clean freak, but with that many people on a boat-better safe then sick!
Breakfast at The Garden-Very crowded, very noisy, but decent for breakfast. My complaint about the Garden is that they put all the action food stations (omelet's, waffles, pasta etc) in the middle of the line, so it clogs everything up. They also arrange the salad bar backwards (lettuce last) so it slows things down-not a huge problem, but interesting nonetheless.
Went out to the deck to relax-The pool area was PACKED. I mean really crowded in a way that was completely unappealing to me. The pool scene was probably great for kids and teens, and no one seemed to have "held" chairs, they all looked used, but I wanted less people. We went up to the front of the boat by the adults only hot tub and it was so much nicer-quiet, breezy, and mellow. It was perfect up there.
Did the Garden for lunch, good salad bar fare and an ice tea, nothing special but just what I wanted. My husband liked the deli and the carving board.
We had dinner at Salsa (yes, $10 cover now, but no charge for lobster tacos). Maybe it was an off night, maybe I thought it would be so much better because of everyone's raves, but I was generally unimpressed. The large circular layout makes service a challenge (staff can't always see you). Black Bean Soup was excellent, Lobster Tacos tough and over cooked and the El Popo (kind of silly, actually) was over cooked and cold by the time it reached us. Blah deserts and my husband sent back his margarita-it was not too good. The pros were excellent soup, salsa and chips, but I would have been just as happy at the Venetian.
Cocktail, casino, bed
Sea Day 2-Yoga, Gym, Breakfast (Garden), Deck, Lunch (Garden), Deck
Got a chance to walk through the stores-good selection of cologne and perfume, t-shirts, any toiletry you may have forgotten. Just okay with jewelry, but that's subjective.
Boy, do they push this "new, amazing, fossil gem" called ammelite (sp?) Not my style. They also push the Park West Art gallery. I got a chance to check out the spa-Could not believe they do Botox and Restylne on board! I wonder how many people would actually do that on a ship. I must say, I was getting sick of all the sales pitches-the jewelry, the botox, the art-they have at least 3 TV channels dedicated to it and the whole Freestyle Daily is devoted to selling stuff. They put tons of flyers in your room too. It got to be too much.
Dinner at Aqua-nice, not too crowded, good food, walked in at 8pm and was seated immediately. Service was pleasant. I would recommend the salmon (always available), roast pork loin, black bean soup, shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad. We wandered into the theatre for part of the dance review-looked pretty good, nothing great. Called it an early night.
Bermuda Day 1-just read the little note in our room about being able to go to Aqua for breakfast as a mini-suite (and balcony) perk-this is the way to go! No crowds, very mellow and great cappuccino, but you need to get there by 9:30.
We wandered around the naval dockyard and visited the clock tower shops before heading back to the ship to have lunch and change for the excursion-we did the kayak trip. It was very nice, good views of the fish and reefs, but I would have liked more actual exercise and kayaking. This is a good introduction for anyone who wants to try kayaking and suitable for kids as young as 4 or 5 (not sure what the NCL age requirements are) The nine beach resort portion of the trip could be longer, but it was nice.
We had dinner at Impressions, the Italian restaurant ($10 cover and we just walked in and got a table at about 8:15) and it was one of the best deals going-the food was excellent (highlights include the antipasti trolley with tri-colored salad, pasta e fagioli, shrimp risotto, and osso bucco with polenta. Best desert of the whole trip-the tiramisu.
We listened to music in Gatsby's before going to the cabin to watch a movie.
Bermuda Day 2-husband played golf and had a great time-but FYI, the excursion cost of golf does not include taxi fare to the course-for him it was $40 each way, but he split the ride back with another cruiser. I did the gym and then had a massage-last minute choice and as it was a port day they could fit me in. I had a great massage-very knowledgeable technician, not talking, no sales pitch. Just how I like it.
We went shopping in Hamilton in the afternoon, took the bus in-45 minute ride for $4 and you get to see the island, we took the ferry back. All shops in Hamilton seem to close by 5:30, with Wednesday being the late night.
We had dinner at the Venetian and the food and service were both great. We had really good Prime Rib.
Bermuda Day 3-We went on the mountain bike tour-it was very nice and goes through an old railway that has been converted to a bike trail-very nice scenery and good exercise, I could have ridden longer. Back to the 9 beach resort for a swim (part of the excursion) and then back in time for lunch and sail away. I am sure we could have done more in Bermuda, but we really wanted to just relax. It was also nice having the ship empty out a bit. Apparently, 3 people missed the boat in Bermuda.
We saw the most interesting thing from our balcony-as we left Bermuda, the pilot boat pulled along side us and seemed to take on someone's luggage (the people we left behind?) and then one person got OFF the Dawn (by rope ladder) and got on the pilot boat. One of the crew members said that the Dawn is always piloted out of Bermuda by a local pilot who then leaves the boat; apparently the coral around Bermuda is tough to navigate. Can anyone confirm? It was really interesting to watch.
We had dinner at Bamboo-sushi and Chinese food-Service was really good, the sushi was just average, did not seem like high grade sushi fish. I highly recommend the Asian BBQ ribs, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Beef and Broc, and the Sesame chicken. I think you could also make a great meal there out of the appetizers. The cover ($20 per person) was not worth the sushi, but the other food was good. I would not recommend going if all you wanted was great sushi.
Cocktails, Casino, Movie, Bed
Sea Day 3-Yoga, Gym, Breakfast
The morning was gray and chilly so we wandered around, saw a movie, packed a bit, had lunch. It started to clear so we went to the sun deck and hung out.
Last dinner at Impressions again (the pay restaurants seemed more crowded the last night). We had our luggage out side by 12 and turned in with our chocolate chip cookies (way better than the buffet ones!)
Debarkation-Venetian breakfast. The line for walk offs was long and messy, but we were lucky enough to have VIP debarkation-off the boat by 9:15, in the car by 10.
All in all, GREAT cruise. Every member of the Dawn staff was gracious and eager to please, the ship was spotless, food ranged from adequate to excellent, with no real clunkers. Best Advice- • Bring a power strip • NCL will find all alcohol! Don't stress. Pay the corkage, get a bar set up or whatever, but if you sneak it, they WILL find it! I brought some nice bottles and had no issue bringing them into the dining room • Try the dining room breakfast if you can get up that early-it was a very civilized way to start the day • If you want to eat free-the dining rooms are an excellent choice • The forward sun deck stays pretty calm-no crowds, music is muted, very relaxing. Most people don't find it until day 3 or 4! • Get a balcony if you can-I loved watch the sea go by! • Pack half of what you think you will need! Read Less