We took this same cruise last Summer (pre-dry dock) so I will be comparing the two cruises. We had a wonderful cruise and thought all the changes made the Ship look like new. The were 5 of us on this cruise. There was my wife (Nancy) ... Read More
We took this same cruise last Summer (pre-dry dock) so I will be comparing the two cruises. We had a wonderful cruise and thought all the changes made the Ship look like new. The were 5 of us on this cruise. There was my wife (Nancy) and I (John). There was my son (Johnny) who turned 21 on the cruise. The final 2 were my daughter (Amber) and her Fiancé Brandon (who would like to be referred to as "Legit" for his Ping-Pong and Basketball talents on the ship) both in their mid 20's. Nancy and I had the UBP promo and went crazy with it. We are not big drinkers but thought we would take advantage of this deal to try out many, many drinks. We slept over Amber's apartment in Milford NH on Wednesday August 4th which would get us 45 minutes closer to Port. I know that timing and location can make or break many aspects of a vacation. I think both were working in our favor because we had few issues with drink lines, crowded pools or negative experiences.
Day One, Friday August 5th:
We left early on the 5th assuming we would hit a lot of Boston traffic. We left at 8:30am for a 10:30am check in. There was very light traffic and we got to the port at 9:40am. We were all parked, checked in and seated by 10am. The time went by fast and we were boarded by Noon. Once on board we got our first drinks and then headed to the Venetian for lunch. This is probably our only negative comment on the rehab. I think the person who selected the pictures for the Venetian must have been on the UBP promo also, they were hideous. By the time we left the Venetian our inside cabin, 5th floor was ready and we dropped off our bags. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Pool, hot tub, drinking and watching the poolside entertainment. At 7pm we went to the Venetian for dinner. After dinner we went to different locations around the ship to listen to different music. Our evening ended with chicken wings at O'Sheehan's and then we all passed out by midnight. (miles walked around ship today was 5.34)
Day Two, Saturday August 6th:
We lost an hour (set clocks ahead) so we had breakfast at 9am. First on the agenda was
the Ping-Pong tournament which was won by my future SIL (legit). The rest of the
afternoon we hung out at the pool/hot tub. Late afternoon we did our own thing.
Amber and Johnny entered the Shuffleboard tournament and won third place. "Legit"
played basketball. Nancy and I watched "Deal or No Deal" and then watched the
"Close Up show of Dave DaVinci (very good show). To save time, we decided to eat
our dinner at the Garden Cafe. We ate and changed our clothes and went to the 7pm
showing of "Band on the Run (my favorite show)". After the show we went to the hot
tub. We changed our clothes and went to O'Sheehan's for wings and other snacks. We
ate, drank, and listened to the "Masquerade Duo". We then proceeded to the Bliss
Lounge to listen to some 70's music. It was 2am when we went to bed.
(miles walked around ship today was 3.0)
Day Three, Sunday August 7th:
Today we had our only sit down breakfast, which was at O'Sheehan's. It was time
for the ship to dock in Bermuda so we went to the top deck to watch. We packed up
our snorkel gear and headed off the ship to Snorkel Park Beach which is a short walk
from the Ship. On our previous two cruises there was no charge for the beach on
Sundays. This time there was a $5.00 charge per person. We put on our water shoes
and snorkeled 1:30pm-3:30pm. The swimmers were stirring up the sand so the
visibility was not as clear in the shallower water. Once we got out a little deeper we
saw many more fish. We headed back to the ship at 4pm leaving Amber and Johnny
at the beach to get more sun. We all showered and went to Bamboo for dinner. The
food was very good but the service was the slowest we experienced all week. After
dinner we went to the "Who wants to be a Billionaire" at 8pm. This was run very
poorly. Every time the contestant was going to get the answer wrong they would steer
him towards the right answer. At 9pm we watched the show, "Showdown" which is
similar to the TV show "the Voice". This was another very good show. After the show
we went to the "Island Night Deck Party" on the Pool deck. We sampled some late
night snacks at the Garden Cafe. After the Party we took our nightly trip to
O'Sheehan's for chicken wings. After eating the kids went out and we headed to bed
at 1am. (miles walked around ship and dockyard today was 7.7)
Day Four, Monday August 8th:
We all met up at 8am for breakfast at Garden Cafe. Johnny gave Amber and "Legit" a
Jet Ski excursion (for a birthday and Engagement gift) and we gave Johnny a Jet Ski
excursion for part of his 21st birthday gift. They had to be at the KS Sports office at
9am to sign waivers for the 9:31am departure. In Bermuda you cannot rent a Jet Ski
on your own. You get your own Jet Ski but you ride out with a "leader" and a total of
6 riders. As they road out on their Skis we took pictures. I wanted to take pictures of
them returning from the deck of the Dawn so we headed back. The tour takes 75
minutes which gave us time to walk back to the ship, take some pictures of the ship. go
up to the 12th deck, get a drink and get set up in the front of the ship for pictures. I
was able to take about 25 decent pictures until Nancy realized I was taking pictures of
the wrong group. I re-adjusted and then was able to take pictures of my actual family.
Once they were done they met us at the Garden Cafe for lunch. All three of them
loved the Jet Ski experience and wanted to do it again. After lunch we left the ship and
took a ride (complimentary) on the train that tours the Dockyard. We got off at the
"Bermuda Fun Golf" (mini golf) and played a round (thanks Legit and Amber) at $15
a player. This was a lot of fun. The sun was intense but the course and views were
gorgeous. We left the golf and visited all the stores on the Dockyard. Johnny bought
some Cuban cigars and we bought a bowl for my Mother. We went back to the Dawn
at 5pm. We showered and dressed for 7pm dinner at the Aqua. We had a great
waitress (Nancy) and our best meal of the trip so far. We went to the 9pm "Second
City" Comedy Show. We didn't care a lot for the show a year ago and we didn't like it
any better this year. Once the show was over we went to O'Sheehan's for more wings
and snacks. We have another early day tomorrow so we all went to bed around
midnight. (miles walked around ship and dockyard today was 9.5)
Day Five, Tuesday August 9th:
We met early for breakfast at 8am. We had a 9am Catamaran/Snorkel excursion. I
chose the "Restless Native" for four reasons. It had the best reviews, the best cost, the
longest time out and the best "treats". The Catamaran tied up right near the Dawn and
we all chose a nice comfortable spot on the netting with large bean bag pillows. The
40 minute ride was smooth and relaxing. We anchored close to a small private beach.
You could swim, sunbathe, use a paddleboard, kayak or snorkel. Complimentary
water, juice, rum swizzles or fresh cooked chocolate chip cookies were at our disposal.
We got back at 12:30pm. Amber and Legit went shopping. The rest of us went up to
the pool area. We all met up and went to O'Sheehan's for a delicious lunch. After
lunch we went back to the 12th/13th deck to watch the Ship depart from Bermuda at
5pm. The Dawn left almost an hour late because two separate couple decided to
saunter back to the Ship to the Jeers of their fellow cruisers. I'm not sure but at one
point it looked like a security car was sent out to find the stragglers? Once the ship
was out at Sea we went to the 7pm "Dave DaVinci show". We all liked the show but it
wasn't one of our favorites. As good as his close-up show was (couldn't figure out how
he did the illusions) the night show with the bigger props was a lot easier to figure out.
Back to the Aqua we went and had our second best meal of the cruise. We were
hoping to have a drink and celebrate my sons 21st birthday at midnight. Johnny had
gotten so much sun and little sleep over the previous 3 days that he didn't feel well and
fell asleep at 11pm so we would have to celebrate on his actual birthday, August 10th.
We decorated the room with balloons, pictures and banners and went to bed.
(miles walked around ship and dockyard today was 3.2)
Day Six, Wednesday August 10th:
We woke up early and gave Johnny his Birthday cupcake and gift. Johnny was glad
that the clocks were set back and he could enjoy a 25 hour Birthday. We all went up
to the Garden Cafe for breakfast at 9am. Nancy and I went to a show called "Bar bets
and Tricks" which was fun. After the show we hung around the pool (clean water)
until 1:30pm. We entered another Ping-Pong tournament (Legit won again) and
played some family Shuffleboard. Nancy and I ate lunch at O'Sheehan's so that we
could watch the Dave DaVinci Q&A that was happening in the Atrium. Back to the
pool again until 5pm. We went to Venetian for a Birthday dinner. Our waitress
(Baby) was great. The staff sang Happy Birthday to my son and brought him a cake
for dessert. After dinner we went to the 9pm "Elements Show", which was very good.
Once the show was over we went to the "White Hot Party" on the pool deck until
12:30am. We went to the cabin and the kids went to the After Party.
(miles walked around ship today was 4.8)
Day Seven, Thursday August 11th:
We had breakfast in the Garden Cafe at 9am. We spent the day around the pool. we
entered our last Ping-Pong tournament of the cruise and Legit won the trifecta. We
went to lunch at O'Sheehan's and then entered the final Shuffleboard tournament of
the cruise. Amber/Johnny won first place and Nancy/Legit got second place. Nancy
and I went to the "Crew Talent Show" which was very good. We went to the 7pm
show of "The Ineffable Two". This Duo replaced "Jocko and Maria". Jocko and
Maria were very good but I thought the new duo was better. Their acrobatic skills
were similar but we thought that the dance skills of Stefanie and Maksym were much
superior. We went for a late dinner at the Venetian. We collected our prizes for the
week at the Library and then went to the cabin to pack and had our bags in the hallway
just before midnight. We dropped by the Bliss Lounge for one last visit and then had
our nightly plate of chicken wings at O'Sheehan's. Our favorite wings were Chai
(heavy favorite), Buffalo, Barbecue and Jamaican Jerk. We went to bed at 1am.
(miles walked around ship today was 4.0)
Departure Day, Friday August 12th:
We set the alarm to wake us at 8am. We had the 9:55am exit (Pink) tickets. We did
the final packing of our carry-off bags and then headed up to the Garden Cafe for our
last meal. All the bars were closed so we couldn't get a "final breakfast drink". We
finished breakfast and took some final pictures. Our color was called about 10
minutes early and we were off the ship and back in our car by 10:30am. I'm not sure
why the security seemed so lax getting off the ship but it made for a quick exit.
Restaurants: We only eat at the complimentary restaurants and most of the food was
delicious. The only item that we all thought was bland was the "pasta to order" at the
Garden Cafe. We had one lunch and two dinners at the Venetian and we loved all the
meals. The room was beautiful and (as mentioned earlier) the only negative was the
paintings. We had two dinners at Aqua (my favorite restaurant) and they were the best
of the trip. Two of the best dishes were the Chicken Parm and the Beef dish. We ate at
the Bamboo Restaurant once (Amber's favorite). The service here was extremely slow
but the food was good and we enjoyed our meals. We had chicken wings at
O'Sheehan's every day (Chai and Buffalo were our favorite). We had two lunches at
O'Sheehan's and one dinner (fried seafood buffet). The food was very good. Some of
our favorites were Caesar Salad (Johnny ate every day), Wings, Open Face Beef
Sandwich, fries, soups and Reubens. This was also a great location to relax while
listening to entertainment in the Atrium. Garden Cafe was our go-to restaurant. We
did six of our breakfast here (did one sit down in O'Sheehan's), most lunches and Late
Night Snacks. Our only complaint was the made-to-order pasta station. The
sauce/pasta was very bland. We thought all the other foods were very good. We
thought the greatest food improvement was the pizza.
Upgrades/refurb: We thought that all the refurbishment made the ship look new. As
mentioned, the only thing we really hated on the ship were the paintings in the
Venetian. I guess that's pretty good if that's all we could find wrong.
Food: We thought that the majority of food on the ship was from very good to excellent.
Some of our favorites were the wings, reubens and open face sandwiches
(at O'Sheehan's), beef, chicken parm, pasta dishes, Philly cheesesteak and fish (at the
Venetian and Aqua), soup and several entrees (at the Bamboo), omelets, pizza, nachos,
meats, taragon chicken and buffalo wings (at Garden Cafe). Many good appetizers but
my two favorites were the scallops and breaded mushrooms.
Lighting- I need to start this by saying that everything needing lighting in the Star Dust
lounge was enhanced by the new lighting affects, which I assume was added during
the re-hab. The quality and crispness of the lasers/lights was incredible.
Band on the Run- my favorite show. Lots of singing and dancing. The new group of
singers/dancers seemed to be an upgrade from last year.
Showdown- Excellent singing presented in a show-like format.
Second City Improv- We aren't big fans of Improv so we aren't big fans of this show.
The nightime show which had a lot of scripted comedy was much better than the
unscripted show in the Bliss Lounge.
The Ineffable Two- very entertaining dance/acrobatic show. Only new show on the
ship. Much better than previous acrobatic show that we saw on ship last year.
Elements- very good show with a mix of many of the talents from the weeks shows.
Dave DaVinci- We think he is a very good entertainer. His "close up" show was
great, his night time show was decent. He used big props that gave away the
illusions at night. Also enjoyed his Q&A and Bird Show.
The music performers around the ship Masquerade Duo, Ariel, The Dawn Show band,
Manila Soul and Caribbean Wave, were all very good
Ocean Ride: This was the smoothest cruise I have ever been on. No rough seas and any
rain we got was at night.
UBP: We are not big drinkers but the UBP promo was a great opportunity for us to try
new drinks and we were able to hang out at all the bars at some point. Out of the five
of us only Nancy and I had the package. I won't mention how many drinks we had but
it was a lot. We spent $198 on prepaid tips for the package and $17 for Boston drink
taxes before we were in International waters. For $215 (the usual cost would be over
$1000) it was a fun and different experience.
Service: Service was excellent, almost everywhere. We didn't experience any employees
with bad attitudes. Bamboo was the only place where service was extremely slow.
Bermuda: Not much I can say that everyone doesn't know already. Gorgeous Island
with beautiful beaches and lots of things to do.
Snorkel Beach- This is not a place to bring the family swimming. It has many sharp
rocks and the beach is made up of mostly rocks. You should wear water shoes if you
are going in the water. We have gone to this beach on each of our trips to Bermuda.
The snorkeling is very good and it is inexpensive and close to the Ship.
Jet Skis- We rented two at KS Sports at the Dockyard. If you take the earliest
excursion of the day you save about $20 per Jet Ski rental. Kids loved this excursion.
I would recommend booking in advance directly with KS Sports.
Catamaran/Snorkel Excursion- This was a lot of fun. We did the early tour on the last
day in Bermuda. This is a 3 1/2 hour tour. Cookies, Swizzles, Juice and water are all
included plus free use of noodles, snorkel gear, paddleboards and kayaks. Cost was
$65 a person. I would recommend booking in advance directly with "Restless
Bar/Drinks: With the UBP package promo the bars were very popular. NCL did a
decent job dealing with the crowds. During sea days and during deck parties they put
a smaller bar on the side of the pool. On sea days they also had one or two carts
moving around the 13th deck. During peak times there were as many as 8 bartenders
working the pool bar. There was always a bar without a line somewhere on the ship.
If one bar had a long line we just went to another bar. I was surprised that bars weren't
more crowded. Drinks sometimes varied from bar to bar.
Misc: We didn't have any problems with our toilets. There were a few "out of orders"
signs on the public restrooms. We had a great time using the Pool, Hot tubs and public
areas. The Sports court and golf netting looked brand new. The other activities were
all in good shape. Only issue was that there was an accident in the pool during the first
Bermuda day (pool water can't be changed when ship is in port) which forced the pool
to be closed during the days in Bermuda. This did not affect us because we spent all
three days in Bermuda but I feel bad for anyone staying on the ship who couldn't keep
cool during these days. During the pool days after we left Bermuda I noticed that their
was an NCL employee constantly monitoring the pool and blowing his whistle when
swimmers were violating rules (this was long over due). I heard a couple of rumors.
One was that this was a result from the accident that closed the pool and NCL did not
want to close the pool twice in one cruise. The second rumor I heard was that several
cruisers complained about kids violating the pool rules and this was the NCL response
(good response NCL). Read Less