253 Norwegian Dawn Bermuda Cruise Reviews

We flew into Boston two days before the cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn Boston Logan. The suite was clean and it provided a great place to rest. We used their shuttle to travel to Target and to get to the train station to visit the ... Read More
We flew into Boston two days before the cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn Boston Logan. The suite was clean and it provided a great place to rest. We used their shuttle to travel to Target and to get to the train station to visit the Freedom Trail. The hotel staff was excellent. One of the staff members even took us to the train station, helped us purchase the tickets and then made sure we fully understood what stop we needed to get off. On Friday, my mother, wife and I took at taxi (around $36.) to the Port of Boston at 11 a.m. and were escorted to the VIP check-in. Karabi, the Concierge greeted us and we were taken to a holding area with juice, coffee...and few minutes later a butler arrived to escort us to our suite. Suite 9006 (Owners Suite with two balconies) was available and in tip top shape. We were invited to explore the cabin, ship and have lunch at Cagney's until the 3:30 p.m. muster drill. It was nice walking on the ship and being taken directly to our cabin even though the other cabins were not ready until 1:30 p.m. The service on this ship was excellent, in fact, the best I have experienced on any other NCL ship. Our butler, Juremar took care of our every want/need and delivered our meals, snacks and kept the Lavazza stocked. We had a "hot" breakfast delivered almost everyday. It was nice sitting on the balcony or in the dining room having breakfast without having to fight the crowds. Edna, our steward was a work horse and she was our vacation hero. My mother misplaced her toothbrush and Edna volunteered to go to port and purchase her a new one. Simple requests like two bathmats were met without any hesitation. Karabi, the Concierge made our vacation by completing the dream team. She reviewed our dinner schedule and made changes so that we could attend the VIP cocktail, Platinum Latitude and Cruise Critic parties. In addition, on the final day she confirmed our airline reservations, and printed our boarding passes. During the cruise we met another great couple and they were able to join us for dinner at Cagney's with a quick change to our reservation. Our suite, 9006, Owners Suite with two balconies was beautiful and it provided enough space for three adults. The side balcony had a dining table and four chairs and the front balcony had two padded chaises, a table, and a side chair. This was our second front facing balcony and only at full sail was it unusable due to wind. The rest of the time it was great. Just be aware that there is no privacy due to the Bridge and an upper viewing deck located directly above. My mother slept like a baby on the pull out sofa in the living room. The stateroom had a full bath and a guest bath with a sink and toilet. The main bath had a walk-in shower, Jacuzzi tub, double sinks and plenty of plush towels. Off of the bath is a "strange" little walk in closet with two safes. The closet seems like an after thought and it offers very little storage. NOTE to anyone booking this cabin...there is very little storage space so you have to be creative. We were able to close the doors between the bedroom and living area to give everyone privacy. There was a Lavazza coffee maker in the bar area and we thoroughly enjoyed the coffee on demand. The OS comes with three bottles of alcohol and our butler delivered OJ and Tomato Juice to us daily and he kept the refrigerator stocked with soda's, tonic water, limes and lemons. There were three "older" poor quality televisions and one DVD player. This cabin is not like the OS on the Epic; however, the service more than made up for the lack of technology and WOW. Bermuda was beautiful; however, in my opinion not as welcoming as the Caribbean. The people, although polite, were a little reserved. The island had beautiful beaches but we found little else of to keep our interests. The shopping was local, expensive and it lacked variety. We were informed by one of our tour guides that they (Bermuda) has about as many cruise ships as they want and they don't want to be run over like the Caribbean. (Understand; however, I don't see the harm of offering a few outdoor cafes, daiquiri or interesting shops next to the cruise dock.) On the first day we went to Snorkel Beach. It was very small and due to high winds we were unable to use an umbrella for shade. We did see fish; however, not a huge variety. We had a good time, but I wouldn't do this beach again. I found the service lacking, even disorganized and I had to secure my own chaise lounges despite having booked through the NCL web site. On the second day in Bermuda we booked a private tour of the island. During the 5 hour tour we were driven over the entire "hook" of the island and we received a great overview. Ralph, our guide, was thorough and proud of his country and glad to show it off. We were driven to Hamilton and watched to gossiping wench being punished. Afterward we were returned to the ship. The ship is showing its age; however, it is still a beautiful vessel. I noticed that NCL needs to pay more attention to upkeep and conduct some general maintenance. Our cabin (9006) had rust on the balconies, minor fraying of the carpets and worn upholstery in the living room. The electronics were very outdated and I struggled with trying to find the right time because most of the televisions did not recognize the year 2014. Regardless, we made it work and we did not let it hamper our wonderful cruise. We found that the ship was easy to navigate; however, the elevators are SLOW. We purchased the Specialty Dining package and ate at Cagney's, La Bistro, La Cucina, and Tappanyaki restaurants. Cagney's was awesome and the service was great. Magnolia, our server, was professional, fun and extra special. We had several meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) and we were never disappointed. La Bistro was good and the food was flavorful. La Cucina was a big disappointment. The food was dry and over cooked. By far, the worst Italian that we have eaten on any of NCL's ships. We have sailed on many NCL ships and have always enjoyed the Italian but not on this ship. Tappanyaki was another disappointment. The "show" was canned, dry and it matched the food. The rice was overcooked and tasteless...mush. The filet was tough and under seasoned. I walked away calling the meal "one note" nothing stood out and everything tasted bland. One special treat that we purchased was the spa passes. Loved it! It was well worth the money. My wife and I would go each morning for about an hour and just relax without the hassles of fighting to find a chaise by the main pool. Only draw back was an older gentleman who kept running around telling everyone to "shut up" and stop talking because he was reading a book. This put a damper on anyone who would talk...even with inside voices. He even did this when a staff member would ask a guest a question. The only place I experienced very poor service was in the spa. My wife and I were ignored by the front desk and then scolded for not waiting for them to acknowledge us after they ignored us. Oh well. On the last sea day we did a bridge tour. The officer was thoughtful, insightful and willing to answer everyone's questions. (On another line, we had a bridge tour and after searching us with a wand, inspecting our bags, we were escorted in, given a 5 minute tour and then shuffled out.) Thumbs up to NCL. Debarkation was painless and quick. We met concierge at 9 a.m. in the Stardust lounge and were escorted to Immigration and Customs which were located on the ship by the gangway. (Have not seen that in a while...it works.) Overall, our experience on the Dawn was excellent and we would sail it again. We were pleasantly surprised by the service and we are grateful to the hard working crew who made our vacation special. Looking forward to an upcoming sailing on another small ship, the Sun, in January 2015. We have been on several big ships (Epic, Freedom of the Seas) and I am convinced that the personal service goes away with the larger vessels and massive peoples. We love NCL and trust them with our vacations.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We recently returned from a wonderful cruise on the NCL Dawn out of Boston to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. All-in-all we had a wonderful time. Our embarkation could not have gone smoother. We arrived around 10:30, checked in ... Read More
We recently returned from a wonderful cruise on the NCL Dawn out of Boston to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. All-in-all we had a wonderful time. Our embarkation could not have gone smoother. We arrived around 10:30, checked in within minutes, waited about an hour and boarded and were having lunch by noon. Our stateroom was ready before we finished lunch. While the Dawn is one of NCL's oldest ships, they do a great job of maintaining it. Other than a few spots you would never now the ship is 12+ years old. For example, we saw them loading 200-300 new pool lounge chairs in Boston. We kept an eye out and saw them placed all around the sun decks. Dawn's layout is a bit quirky, but you get used to it. We rarely felt crowded. Maybe a few times in the buffet and by the pool. As we have experienced on every cruise we've taken the crew is outstanding. Please take a few minutes to ask them about their families and their history. Their stories are heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. I believe, it makes you appreciate their work ethic and sacrifices a bit more. We ate in the Venetian every night for dinner. On our 4th night, we had an incredible waiter, Komang. We asked for him each night after. On our 30th Anniversary, they brought us a cake an "sang" a song to us. The food over all is good, not great. As others have reviewed, there has been a bit of a decline in the quality of the food over the recent years. Personally, I believe this is strategic as they try to push people to the up charge restaurants. The buffet was open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day with plenty of options. The shows overall were good. It was a mix shows that included music, dance, magic, comedy, and acrobatics. In the piano bar, Gatsby's, they had a Singer/Piano Player, Carlos Leal, who was amazing. We watched him every night for 1-2 hours. All and all we had an excellent time and would not hesitate to cruise on the Dawn again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
For background, I have sailed RCC and HA in suites only. This cruise we booked middle middle 9120 which sailing after Arthur was a blessing. Overall the room, a mid ship balcony was nice. Enough room for the two of us, the bathroom was ... Read More
For background, I have sailed RCC and HA in suites only. This cruise we booked middle middle 9120 which sailing after Arthur was a blessing. Overall the room, a mid ship balcony was nice. Enough room for the two of us, the bathroom was larger than I thought it would be. The room steward was excellent, hardworking and worthy of the extra tip he got. We brought a case of bottle water with luggage tag, worked like a charm. We brought our own wine with the corkage fee....good deal! We booked four specialty meals, this is where it gets interesting. First, Cagneys, pretty bad when what was memorable was the creamed corn! It's not Mortons or anything close and not worth the $30 extra fee. La Cucina was our second specialty. I had the Osso Bucco which was not braised enough, my wife had some sort of pork cutlet in a cream sauce that looked like it was a kid's meal. Bamboo was the third......Excellent. Le Bistro was the fourth....Excellent!!! Blue lagoon was frequented and was very good for a quick breakfast or lunch. We did use the Venetian dining room for a few meals and was good. The Ship itself is laid out well and getting around was easy, the elevators (all working) were not as slow as some have said. There were plenty of activities to keep you busy if you wanted, or plenty of spaces to get lost in a book or play cards. Yes, the boat is not in perfect condition but what boat is! The crew was friendly, some had a problem with English but understood what you needed. Everyone was very helpful and efficient. The casino was OK. We booked through Casino at Sea so we had the free drink card which was nice. We asked for Pai Gow the first day, they flipped a table from Black Jack To Pai Gow and left it the whole week.....very tough ie lost every time we played. Three card poker was good with the six card bonus, sat next to a Lady who hit a Royal for $5000, I hit a straight flush for $1000. The casino seems to go by its own rules, we had an incident with a dealer giving away one of our playing spots with other tables open....never experienced that before....when asked about this The Pit boss said its common policy but believe me it is not! They let us leave the casino believing we were disrespected, not very good customer service. We were told the next day that the Casino manager was made aware of the situation and had several opportunities to explain but never did.....again terrible customer service. Overall the casino was big and had enough of a mix of games that if you wanted some entertainment you could find it. Bermuda was Bermuda. Great Beaches and great weather. People are friendly and helpful. Would I cruise this ship again? Yes I would, I loved Freesyle cruising....when we travel," the plan is there is no plan". The Balcony stateroom was sufficient for two and comfortable. The food was good, not excellent not mediocre...no cooking or clean up is always pretty good, No? Just relax Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was our first time cruising with NCL. We chose this cruise because we live in Massachusetts and did not want to deal with airfare. We parked at the terminal and boarded the ship by 12:30. We ate lunch on board and enjoyed the music on ... Read More
This was our first time cruising with NCL. We chose this cruise because we live in Massachusetts and did not want to deal with airfare. We parked at the terminal and boarded the ship by 12:30. We ate lunch on board and enjoyed the music on Deck 12 (the deck with the pool and the Garden Café). My husband and I were traveling with a 15 year old and a 13 year old and our parents. Our cabin number was 8000 and my parents cabin number was 11016. We did not have a balcony, but they did. We spent so little time in the room that we did not need a balcony, but my parents used theirs each evening. Our cabin steward, Vincent, was very nice (knew the names of everyone on the floor on the first day) and my parents really like their steward as well. The cruise ship was full, but we were always able to find deck chairs. We got up around 8 each morning and went right to deck 12. We chose seats in the sun facing the pool and my parents chose seats in the shade to the side of the pool. The most crowded pool days were the second and last days of the cruise. There is only one pool that everyone can use and four hot tubs. We were always able to get into the pool and hot tubs and the wait in line at the Garden Café for breakfast and/or lunch was never that long. The only time we waited is if we chose to use the Omelet Station/Pasta Station because these items are cooked to order. The Omelet Chefs are fantastic and very eager to please. Please note that when the pool deck gets wet it is VERY slippery for those who wear flip flops. The pool bar was usually the most crowded, so it was best to use a waiter/waitress if you didn't mind waiting a bit for a drink. The other option was Topsiders on Deck 13. The wait at that bar was not as long. Most nights we ate at Aqua or Venetian. We did eat at La Cucina and Le Bistro and found that the food was just is good in the complimentary dining rooms. There was no lobster night, although lobster was served in pasta on the last night of the cruise. Charles Gonsalves was the best waiter we had during the cruise (at dinner in Aqua). He absolutely loves his job, has a great sense of humor, and is incredibly eager to please. We filled out a Vacation Hero form for Charles and enjoyed Aqua so much because of him! Teppanyaki was always full and many people said it was the best pay restaurant on board. My kids enjoyed doing some things with the Teen Club as well as things they met with friends they met on board. There is basketball, shuffleboard, oversized chess and checkers, an arcade, and more. The daily newsletter highlights all of the events that are taking place each day and there truly is something for everyone. We did not use the Casino but played Deal or No Deal and Bingo when it was offered. We thought Deal or No Deal was a rip off (very difficult to win anything at all), and preferred Bingo. My daughter had her hair done at the spa by Ricardo. He was another Vacation Hero. His kindness and customer service skills were amazing and he did a fantastic job with my daughter's up-do. When we were in Bermuda we went to Horseshoe Beach (you can rent chairs and umbrellas there), Snorkel Beach (rent chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, peddle boats, snorkel gear), and we went on the Rising Sun Catamaran Excursion. This was fantastic! We snorkeled, learned all about Bermuda, used paddleboards and kayaks, and were treated to Rum Punch on the way home. So much fun!! Every show on the cruise was terrific - even my kids did not want to miss them!! TIPS: Bring post it notes if traveling with other people so you can leave notes for them on the door or in your room. It is expensive to text and walkie talkies did not work. If you go to Horseshoe Beach, bring a roll or bread with you. Break it up and drop it in the water and gorgeous fish will swarm around for you to see. The free dining rooms often have a wait after 6pm. Do not expect to walk right in at any time if the ship is filled to capacity. Bring Advil or any bathroom supplies with you. They are very expensive on board ($5.99 for a travel size bottle of Advil). Finally, if you like cruise/reggae music, the JamRoc band is great! They play on Deck 12 near the pool. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. It is the morning of July 4th, and I just got back from my first family cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. Hurricane Arthur loomed behind us, spinning wildly in our wake. Luckily, neither Arthur's deadly ... Read More
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. It is the morning of July 4th, and I just got back from my first family cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. Hurricane Arthur loomed behind us, spinning wildly in our wake. Luckily, neither Arthur's deadly winds or the violent flushing of my stateroom toilet could engulf me before I safely arrived in Boston. A week earlier, I first boarded the Dawn with my wife, my 22-year-old daughter, my 24-year-old son, his girlfriend, and a couple I have been friends with for many years now. We booked three rooms on the 11th floor. My wife and I booked a mini-suite, to allow for extra room for our daughter to stay. Our friends booked a Balcony room down the hall, and our son booked an inside stateroom with his girlfriend. Embarkation Upon arrival, we set our luggage down on the pavement (in my son's girlfriend's case, she set her entire closet down). Within minutes, a porter was there to check our luggage for us. Now, never having been on this type of vacation, I dipped into my wallet and slyly slipped the man three dollar bills for his trouble. That's just the kind of guy I am. I did not realize that my friend (a seasoned cruiser) gave him a ten dollar bill, exposing my sometimes frugal 'masshole' tendencies. I then proceeded to be teased about this indiscretion for the rest of the trip. Take my advice and tip the burly porter man. The Rooms The Mini-Suite was great when everything was working (key word: working). The bathroom size was bigger than the balcony room bathroom. The mini-suite room had a bath tub and shower, where the balcony room only had a shower and seemed smaller in size if only by a few inches. I was able to notice the difference. I noticed also that the mini-suite had a slightly bigger balcony and a bigger mini-fridge than the balcony room. However, Day 1: I noticed my mini- fridge wasn't getting cold, so I called the Service Desk and had to have the mini-fridge replaced the next day. My wife brought wine and paid a corking fee of $60, and I had to hear her sigh in contempt, "White Zin doesn't taste good warm". The ice bucket looked like a kids beach bucket. Day 2: Mini-fridge was fixed. I thought the bad part was over. Just a little hiccup; but now my wife was free to drink her wine in peace. As they say, happy wife=happy life. Now for the Ugly. The toilet decided to stop flushing. Most of the 11th floor was out of order. This went on for up to seven or eight very uncomfortable hours (as you can imagine). They had a main line clog. This happened two more times, once while in Bermuda, and on the day we pulled out of Bermuda. Like I said, the room was great when everything was working. But that wasn't always the case. It got to the point where we decided 'test flushing' before attempting to use the toilet was the best method. Port & Excursions The three days in Bermuda were beautiful. In particular, I have to say the Rum Swizzle Excursion was one of my favorite parts of the trip and well worth the money. We also visited the Crystal Caves, which was different to say the least. 83 steps down were easier than the 83 steps back up. We went to Horseshoe Bay Beach. It was flawless: silky smooth sand and no rocks on the beach or in the water. The views were stunning. We went to Snorkel Beach the last day because we didn't want to travel too far on our last day in port, knowing we would need to be back on the ship by five. It was a bit rocky, but was still a nice beach day in Bermuda. I admit it was better than the beaches in MA. One important thing to note when visiting Bermuda: unless you are staying in the Royal Naval Dockyard, you will need to travel (i.e. buses, cabs, ferries) to get around the island. That being said, the bus drivers and cab drivers were crazy. Good luck driving a moped. Our bus driver almost ran one over. They drive on the opposite side of the street in Bermuda. No thanks. Ship Services They were friendly enough through all of our cabin problems, and our cabin steward (Guisti) didn't speak English well, but he was the best. He was very friendly. The cabin was always made up and turned down on time. He made cool animals from the towels that my whole family loved. His smile was infectious. So even when the toilets weren't flushing, it was hard to stay mad around him. Even with the tipping fees included everyday, we left him an extra tip in a thank you card. Honestly, who knows how the tips get split up by the ship's bosses, and I thought Guisti went above and beyond to help our family enjoy the cruise and deserved the extra tip. Activities Good luck finding a seat by the pool, especially on the days when the ship is at sea. My daughter especially always wanted to go lay out in the sun on the top deck, and was often disappointed when every single lounge chair was taken. Put your towel out early if you want a good spot. Activities were numerous and if you didn't care for them, you could just do your own thing (which is what I did). Entertainment The shows were great. Most last around 45 minutes to an hour in the Stardust Theatre at night. All are worth going to, but I highly recommend the comedian, Band on the Run, Second City, and don't miss the finale show. Dining (Mostly thumbs down) The food was hit or miss, but mostly miss unfortunately. The two main dining rooms serve the same menu from the same kitchen every night, The Aqua is more mid-ship and you don't feel the ship rocking as much when the seas are choppy. You are less likely to get sick there (from the sea at least). But the only dining that was a 5 star that we ate at was Cagney's Steak House. It was well worth the $30 per person. The 16 oz. Rib eye steaks were out of this world. They use Black Angus meat. The free main restaurants do not. So do your =self a favor and book Cagney's at least once to break up the cafeteria tasting food in the Aqua and Venetian. If you are an avid Patriots fan like me, you might find yourself calling the Venetian the Vinatierian. The two are not related, if you were wondering. The Blue Lagoon saved me for breakfast and lunch. It is open 24 hours a day. The Garden Cafe was always way too busy. We had trouble finding seating and the atmosphere was much better in the Blue Lagoon. Plus, they serve you during lunch hours. There are a lot less people there too which is a plus, because people are going to get on your nerves sooner or later. For every nice person you meet, there's one rude one. Disembarkation It was not as smooth as getting on, but I think it was more of the same. Not Norwegian's fault. I'd blame it on the rude people you just got done spending 7 days on the ship with. The urge to punch them in the face reaches its peak during disembarkation. Again, there are some nice people you'll meet, but the rude and ignorant people will stand out. Summary Glad I went? (Yes) Would I go again? Maybe, maybe not. We'll see. Tips: Bring bottled water. They charge for bottled water. Don't let rude people ruin your planned relaxing vacation. The elevators will drive you nuts!!! Have fun. Washy Washy, Happy Happy   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
When we first entered our room, we went out to the balcony. There were toenail clippings on the floor. The balcony floor was kind of like gravel with some rust. It wasn't a smooth surface that was painted or textured. The cabin itself ... Read More
When we first entered our room, we went out to the balcony. There were toenail clippings on the floor. The balcony floor was kind of like gravel with some rust. It wasn't a smooth surface that was painted or textured. The cabin itself was dusty and someone had left stickers from their clothing tags on the walls. There are only soap dispensers in the bathroom for hand soap, shampoo and shower gel. If you like to use a bar of soap, bring one. The gift shop sells them for $3. If you like conditioner, bring it or buy it on board for $12.99 (pantene). The worst part of the cruise, for us, was our cabin location. Cabin 11682 was across from the aft elevators and stairway. It was very noisy, not only because of loud people but there was a guy that vacuumed outside our door at 2:30 am on more than one morning. Our cabin was just outside the salon, which doesn't seem like a loud place. The fitness center was upstairs from the salon so maybe the heavy feet were on their way to the gym or the buffet. We were assigned the cabin after booking over the phone so we didn't have the luxury of choice. One of our suitcases was temporarily lost but was found at guest services. Many people had lost bags and waited in very long lines. There were notices sent to our cabin that asked if anyone had another persons luggage sent to their room by mistake days after we set sail. There were photos of three bags and a vague list of what they contained. This cruise line does not send you bag tags. You can print them on line and staple them to your bags. I printed and folded them according to the directions and also laminated them with clear packing tape. One still came off. It is absolutely no wonder because I saw the "porters" chucking the suitcases (and I mean throwing them high and hard) into metal cages for the forklifts to move. Pack carefully and secure those handmade tags. Also, the tags were all the same color. You might think they would color code them by floor for easier sorting. Even the temporary tags provided at the dock were all brown.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
we just finished a cruise on norwegian dawn to bermuda for 7 days. this was our 47th anniversary. our room steward, muhammad, was excellent. waiters and other sevice people were also excellent. we travel mostly on carnival and i have to ... Read More
we just finished a cruise on norwegian dawn to bermuda for 7 days. this was our 47th anniversary. our room steward, muhammad, was excellent. waiters and other sevice people were also excellent. we travel mostly on carnival and i have to say the food on the dawn is a little better than carnival and they have more selections. problem no. 1 - first night i wore shorts to venetian restaurant and they were welcomed. next 6 nights my bermuda shorts were not allowd and like others wearing bermuda shorts we were turned away. only problem there was on 3 nights i saw men wearing dungarees allowed in this restaurant. really dungarees over bermuda shorts on a cruise to bermuda. maitre d allowed this. problem no. 2 - we left on friday may 9th and on may 10th i went to the spa and used the gym, steam, sauna and showered and shaved. my wife did the same on monday, except shave. 2 nights later i went to the spa and was refused entry unless i paid $30 for the day. head supervisor nikki strandraw was the woman who stop me from entering. i have been on 6 carnival cruises and there are no hidden spa fees. i read everthing about norwegian dawn rules and there is no mention as to spa fees. fittness center is listed as a no fees. for a great reasonable meal at the dockyard head to freeport seafood restaurant just past the clocktower mall. for a great adventure take a bus ride to hamilton. i was on a ride in disney world like that.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This is a detailed review of our recent voyage on the Norwegian Dawn from Boston to Bermuda. Overall synopsis - this was a good cruise and we enjoyed our first experience on NCL, though some of the finer details prevented this from being a ... Read More
This is a detailed review of our recent voyage on the Norwegian Dawn from Boston to Bermuda. Overall synopsis - this was a good cruise and we enjoyed our first experience on NCL, though some of the finer details prevented this from being a truly exceptional experience. BACKGROUND This was my 6th cruise (1st on NCL, 2 on Princess, 2 on RCCL, 1 on Celebrity) and my wife's 3rd (1st on NCL, 1 on Princess, 1 on Celebrity). We chose this itinerary specifically because of the extra time provided in Bermuda (almost three full days), along with an excellent price on balcony staterooms when we booked. We drove from our home in Dallas to the port in Boston and back. Yes, we really did do that. Needless to say, the first day, which would be a sea day, would be much welcomed as a day to rest and recharge. EMBARKATION Based on the distance we had to travel, we couldn't realistically make it to Boston Thursday night, so we stayed in Hartford and drove the remaining hour and a half Friday morning. We made it downtown about a quarter to noon, and had no trouble at all finding the cruise terminal or the parking garage, with ample signage both from the Mass Pike and from the nearby surface streets. I much preferred the terminal area itself to the dock in Ft. Lauderdale, which can be a real zoo depending on when you go. Check-in itself was a long process, with long lines to stand in to both drop off bags with a porter, and to formally check-in at the desk. The lines moved steadily, and everything was reasonably well organized, but it took about an hour and 15 minutes to get on the ship. Bottom line is, if you detest lines, plan to arrive either very early (by 11 A.M.) or later (after 2 P.M.). On the positive side, our cabin was ready for us when we boarded, and unlike other cruise lines, the Venetian dining room is open for lunch, not just the Garden Cafe (the buffet). I highly recommend heading to the main dining room - apparently not too many people know that you can have lunch there on embarkation day, so there were only a handful of other people there. That was a nice way to unwind and relax after the drive in, and all the lines. SHIP Pretty much as expected. The ship was clean, and the "Grand Atrium" area was beautiful (I thought the fake flames in the lamps were especially cool). I've read the complaints about the layout of the ship being confusing, but I really didn't find that to be the case at all. Yes, some sections of the ship are only accessible via specific elevators or stairs, but I thought locations and directions were marked well, and one tour around the ship was enough to figure out what was where. As other reviews have noted, the pool on Deck 12 tends to get WAY overcrowded. I usually waited until after dinner to try hot tubs to avoid the crowds; I actually prefer a quick relaxing soak before going to bed, so it worked for me, but if you want to use one during the middle of the day, it can be a challenge. TIP: there is a 5th "secret" hot tub up on Deck 13 at the forward end of the ship. It was often easier to find that one empty, though unfortunately, also seemed to be frequently out of service. The duty free shops are your typical cruise ship experience, with plenty of overpriced jewelry and watches for those who like to spend money. I will say, the shops had some ridiculously cheap prices on liquor after leaving Bermuda, equivalent to what you would find in duty free shops in Asian airports like Singapore, Bangkok, etc. One thing I did appreciate was that the hard shopping sell we experienced on our last Princess cruise to Alaska was absent on this particular sailing. There was a shopping presentation on Bermuda, of course, but it wasn't really done in a pushy way (and the shopping director, Jason, is hilarious). Being mid-May, the crowd on our ship was probably a little older than what you would find during the summer, and thus the overall mood on the ship was fairly subdued. Again, that's our personal preference, and one reason why we picked a May sailing date. The one thing I missed was a sitting area in the aft of the ship to watch the wake and stare out at the sea. On the last two ships I've been on (Celebrity Infinity and Golden Princess), the buffet has an outdoor area where you can do this. Not so on the Dawn, where the aft is taken up by the Fitness Center. The only place to look out the aft is on the walking deck on Deck 7, but the path is pretty narrow through here, and there's no place to sit. CABIN We loved our cabin! We booked a balcony "guarantee" cabin, and ended up being assigned a room at the forward end of Deck 9. The layout of the room was great for us, with a queen bed and a sofa sleeper that ended up being used for storing the junk we'd obtained both on the ship and in Bermuda :) I would imagine, though, that when the sofa sleeper is extended out, it would be a tight squeeze, and would block access to the balcony. Speaking of the balcony, from the outside, it appeared to be smaller than the balconies mid-ship, but I'm not sure if this was true, or if they just appeared that way because of the covering that wraps around the sides. The covering was a big advantage, though, as it provided both cover from the rain and a wind break (and it was raining on sailaway day, and very windy on our first at-sea day, so this came in handy), and provided additional privacy from the neighbors. Yes, the bathroom is small, though we managed. I did like the extra cubby holes around the clothes drawer, which came in handy for storing trinkets and such until we had a chance to pack them on the last day. We had no issues with noise from the theater two decks below (though by the time we returned to our room from dinner, the show was usually over anyway), and with the Spinnaker Lounge at the opposite end of the ship, the cabin was quiet and peaceful. Our cabin steward was nice enough, though was nothing really special. He kept our room and bathroom clean, but sometimes forgot to replace our pool towels. I just wasn't particularly wowed by the level of service. We did enjoy the towel animals, though :) DINING We ate primarily in the Venetian main dining room, but also had one dinner at Moderno (the churrascaria), one dinner at the Garden Cafe, and one lunch at the Blue Lagoon. While in Bermuda, we ate lunch on the island, which I'll talk about later. I had previously read the mixed reviews of the dining experience in the Venetian, and didn't really see where the criticisms came from. For dinner, there were at least six changing main course options daily, and I found the quality of food perfectly fine. No, it isn't to the level of a Michelin 3-star restaurant, but this is a cruise ship that has to cater to 1,000+ guests for dinner. We are late eaters and generally went for dinner between 8 and 8:30, and only had to wait for a table once - only about 10 minutes, and we were given coupons for a free drink for the trouble. Where I did have an issue was lunch, where the menu was EXACTLY the same on embarkation day and our first at-sea day, and on the two at-sea days after leaving Bermuda. The Garden Cafe was fine. We ate there mostly for breakfast, and never had trouble finding a table or had to wait in line to get our food (they had three serving lines open at all times). My wife had a made-to-order pasta the one night we ate dinner there, and said it was very good. The chicken wings and chicken fingers at Blue Lagoon are tasty, and would make for an excellent midnight snack if you're out late. Moderno was good, but not outstanding, and if I didn't have some extra onboard credit to burn, probably wouldn't pay the $20 pp cover charge to go again. If you do decide to go, ask for extra helpings of the picanha - it was delicious! Service levels were a bit hit-and-miss. All of the wait staff were polite enough, but some lacked polish. For example, some didn't automatically ask if we wanted soft drinks or drinks from the bar. On the last night, both the waiter and assistant waiter disappeared for long periods of time (and most nights, the assistant waiter didn't introduce themselves, and were rarely seen). And unlike on other cruise lines, the head waiters were pretty much completely AWOL. I think we had one ask about our experience one time. Some of this may be attributable to the "Freestyle" dining concept, and now having had the chance to compare both "anytime" dining and traditional fixed dining, I definitely prefer fixed dining times. BERMUDA In a word - incredible! It is a wonderful island, and we had a great time there (just wish we could have been there even longer). If you're a beach person, you really have to come to Bermuda at least once; the combination of pink sand and turquoise-blue water is truly breathtaking. We took two ship sponsored shore excursions, both in the evening - the Bermuda Triangle Evening Cruise and the Sunset Catamaran Swizzle Cruise. I was a bit disappointed in the Bermuda Triangle cruise. You go out a ways and see the reefs and a portion of a shipwreck from a glass-bottomed boat, which was fine enough, and there are the typical cheesy jokes on the way out about getting lost out there. But I was expecting something like a fake pirate takeover or some ghost stories, which we didn't get. The Sunset Swizzle Cruise was good (a flaming orange sunset through some clouds was spectacular), though some of the same jokes we heard the night before were recycled, and the swizzles were markedly light on the rum (but free and plentiful). Otherwise, I can only repeat what others have said repeatedly - save some money, buy a transit pass, and piece together your own tour of Bermuda. For those planning to buy a bus/ferry pass, keep in mind that there are FOUR ways to get one - from the ship's front desk, from the Heritage Wharf building, from a small white shack at the end of the pier, and from the ferry terminal (cash only if you don't buy from the ship). If one spot is crowded, just try one of the other three. On Sunday, we toured around the Dockyard, including lunch at the famous Frog & Onion Pub, the Clocktower Mall, and the Bermuda Maritime Museum (we didn't do the Dolphin Quest, though). On Monday, we took the ferry to St. George's, spent about 4 hours there including lunch at the , and then bused back to the ship via Hamilton and the Gibbs Hill lighthouse. And finally on Tuesday, we took the bus to Horseshoe Bay, walked along the coast to Warwick Long Bay, then hopped back on the bus to Hamilton to have lunch at The Lobster Pot (well worth a visit) and walk around downtown for a bit before catching the ferry back to the ship. In hindsight, we really should have switched around the Sunday and Tuesday itineraries to be able to see more of Hamilton. The weather was near-perfect the whole time, with daytime temperatures in the 72-75 range and sunny skies. Yes, it's humid, but what do you expect - you're on a subtropical island. If you go to St. George's, here's a suggested self-guided tour that will take up most of a single day. Take the ferry over (45 minutes), and walk to Alexandra Battery Beach (30 minute walk at a leisurely pace, but a little uphill). There's a small pink sand beach and fort there, and a little bit of sea glass that you can pick through. Then walk north to Fort St. Catherine, 20-25 minutes at a leisurely pace. There are spectacular views of the water along the way, and the fort and adjacent beach are worth visiting ($7 pp entrance fee for the fort). Then walk north to Tobacco Bay Beach, 10-15 minutes, a very pretty (but popular) pink sand beach. Finally, walk back to St. George's town, 20-30 minutes, but mostly downhill. You can see the unfinished church on the way. You can spend some time in the town itself if you wish. Take bus #1 or #3 back to Hamilton, stopping at the Crystal Caves if desired (we didn't go - you can also use routes 10 or 11 if you don't want to see the caves). Finally, take the ferry or bus #7 or 8 back to the Dockyard. You've just done the same tour offered by the cruise line, but at a fraction of the cost. DO NOT attempt to do this on Tuesday (departure day), as you won't have enough time. TIP: If you need internet, the Bermuda Arts Center offers 14 hours of WiFi (the log on-log off variety) for $5. It was a little cranky, but worked most of the time, though it isn't fast enough to support Skype, Vonage, etc. You can pick up a signal from open areas on the starboard side of the ship, including balconies. Purchase online and they'll give you 2 extra hours free, or you can buy the password at the Bermuda Arts Center itself for $5 for 12 hours of WiFi. Much cheaper than the ship's internet or roaming fees if you need to get online. ENTERTAINMENT We were both disappointed that Bollywood is apparently no longer running, but we did make it to the Elements and Luminescence shows. I wanted to catch Second City, but couldn't make our schedule work out. Elements struck me as a kind of poor-man's version of the old show "EFX" that used to run at the MGM Grand in Vegas. The production quality and choreography was pretty good by cruise line standards, but I don't know, it just lacked the "wow" factor for me - the show had several opportunities to cross the threshold from good to great, but it just never quite got there. The scene with the aerial acrobatics in the fake snow was pretty cool, though, which brings us to the second show, Luminescence. The same acrobats have their own full-length show. This show was awesome. There were a couple of scenes where you were just left shaking your head, in a "how the **** did they do that" kind of way. Definitely glad we went to that one. I also caught a small portion of the late night pool party on the night we left Bermuda, which featured a couple of singers doing covers of 80s bands. Those guys were pretty good, though after a long day of hiking through the islands, I was exhausted and couldn't stay for the whole thing. My wife and I both being on the geeky side, we would have preferred more "enrichment"-type activities like history/cultural lectures. There was only one on Day 2 about Bermuda, and frankly, it was mostly about selling NCL shore excursions, instead of about the history and culture of Bermuda itself. We should probably just learn to lighten up a little... DISEMBARKATION We thought about using the "self-service" disembarkation, but with two heavy suitcases that would have to be lugged down two floors and through narrow corridors on Deck 7, decided to get some luggage tags instead and let NCL get our bags to the terminal. I was up fairly early and grabbed some tags for the earliest disembarkation tags (9:10 A.M.), but when we went to lunch a few hours later, plenty were still available. I found out why - pretty much everyone decided to use self-disembarkation, which made me glad I didn't. While heading over to the photo gallery Friday morning to use up the last of our credit, I could see that the line stretched all the way down the port side of the deck, and more than halfway back through the starboard side. That wouldn't have been fun. Our color was called on-time, but the lines were still long and stopped moving altogether for close to 10 minutes. We had our bags and were at our car in the garage in about 40 minutes, though. Overall, not terrible. My advice: get some luggage tags instead of using the self-service option. You'll probably get out at about the same time, anyway, given how bad the lines looked in the early going. SUMMARY Overall we had no significant complaints. The itinerary is great, the ship is very nice and well-maintained, our cabin was everything we expected, and of course, Bermuda is wonderful. We never went hungry, and the staff were polite and helpful, if not the most efficient or polished. While there were some rough edges that made this cruise just short of being exceptional, it was still a good cruise. No, service isn't to the level of a Princess or Celebrity, but you won't pay as much, either, making NCL a good value proposition. My wife and I would cruise with NCL again in the future without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was only my second cruise ever so I am, by no means, an experienced cruiser. I'll split this review up by category. Embarkation: Staff were extremely helpful and nice. I forgot my passport at home (3 hours away) and they ... Read More
This was only my second cruise ever so I am, by no means, an experienced cruiser. I'll split this review up by category. Embarkation: Staff were extremely helpful and nice. I forgot my passport at home (3 hours away) and they allowed me to have my friend fax over my birth certificate. That saved the day! Embarkation was very easy and fast. Food: Food in the main dining rooms was very good and I like being able to have soup AND salad or two desserts. Portions are smaller, but that was actually a good thing. We got to sample more foods when we wanted to and didn't feel overly stuffed. The one complaint I have is that service can often be slow. Be prepared to wait for that refill on your beverage. The Blue Lagoon had good food, but they were VERY slow. As a result, we didn't go back. The wait was awful. Restaurants were really good. We ate at Teppanyaki, Moderno, and Cagney's. Cagney's was my favorite, by far. Buffet was so-so. It was decent, but I was expecting a little better. And it was a zoo at breakfast if you got there any later than 8 am. The one thing I will mention that was annoying was that we had the most awful time with salt shakers. I have no idea why, but every single one we picked up, without exception, was either empty or clogged. I don't think they put rice in the shakers to prevent moisture. Cabins: I liked the cabin, but the tables really should be replaced. The ones in our cabin showed a lot wear. The bathroom was small, or course, but the toilet area was absolutely TINY! I had to go through the door sideways because my shoulders are a little broad. However, the shower had plenty of room and I liked that a lot. The water coming from the sink faucet often wasn't cold. I could deal with cool or room temp, but it was actually HOT when I was brushing my teeth. We had three people in our room so we had to use the pullout sofa. When it was opened, there was barely any walking room so we put our two tables out on the balcony all week just so the early risers could go on the balcony in the morning without running an obstacle course. And the pullout sofa was the hardest thing I have ever slept on. I put the comforter under me, folded another comforter into fours and put that under me, and my hips were still killing me in the morning. It really was like sleeping on a table. I liked the bedding and the beds were comfortable enough. Crew: Everyone was very friendly and we were always greeted when we came across a crew member in the hall. Entertainment: We saw Second City, which was good. Although some of their skits were a little hit or miss. Bollywood was good. We went to bingo. I thought it was very expensive. Smallest package was 39.00 for three cards and they only play three games. We caught the tail end of The Perfect Couple and that was pretty funny. Pool: Small and crowded, same as most ships. Chair hogs were in full swing like usual too. That's about it. It was a great ship and we enjoyed ourselves, but NCL needs to work on the comfort level in their cabins.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
BACKGROUND - We had three suites (including the Deluxe Owner's Suite 12002) all in a row and one inside cabin across the hall. This was a family reunion for my sisters and I (5 of us in the graceful grip of middle age), daughter and ... Read More
BACKGROUND - We had three suites (including the Deluxe Owner's Suite 12002) all in a row and one inside cabin across the hall. This was a family reunion for my sisters and I (5 of us in the graceful grip of middle age), daughter and nieces (5 cute young things between the ages of 21 and 36) and cousin and his family (3 adults handling middle age better than me and 3 adorable 20somethings). His son and girlfriend would be getting married on the cruise on the second day. PRE and APRES CRUISE: Stayed at the Hyatt Harborside at the airport for 2 nights prior to the cruise. INCREDIBLE views from the hotel. We booked months ago and got a fabulous room rate and, when my sister checked in, she got a free upgrade to a view room. Stunning view any time of day and we sat out on the patio for a late dinner and watched the city. I realized after the cruise that I had left my toothbrush charger at the hotel. They had it bagged with a note stating the date and room number. I have never had luck getting a lost item back from a hotel before. I was dancing in the lobby. High end bathroom products in the room. I liked them so much I took them with me on the cruise (I'm not a fan of liquid bath soap). After the cruise we stayed at the Norwood Residence Inn. Again, booked months ago for a great rate. We booked this hotel because it was a central location to family and where we grew up. The bed was not as luxurious as the Hyatt or our Deluxe Owner's Suite, but the layout of the room was very smart and the kitchen was appreciated. Also free wifi (not free at the Hyatt) was appreciated since I immediately started uploading pictures to Facebook as soon as we checked in. EMBARKATION and DISEMBARKATION: Easy peasy both ways. Large group, priority boarding.... (and they allowed our newlyweds from the inside cabin to have all the same suite perks as us and board with us) we were probably very intimidating, but we were herded well. A gentleman of distinguished age at Boston tried to tell us (rudely) to go one way and a woman came up and got us to where we needed to be and put him in his place (she rocked!). With disembarkation we were all leaving at different times. I left with 2 sisters around 8am to avoid lines and get a rental car at the airport. I got out to the terminal and asked a sister "what about Customs?" Sister said "that was it." Huh? They never even asked me for my Customs form! THE CREW: Renato, our room steward, was fabulous! He had a charming, engaging personality. Every time I saw him in the hallway he had a smile and a greeting. I really enjoyed seeing him and saying hi, friend! Our butler, Lozano, was quiet yet diligent. We put him to work on the day of the wedding (Saturday early evening) and he followed through with all of our requests. Actually, all the crew I encountered were friendly and helpful. They work exceptionally hard to give us an effortless vacation. THE SHIP: The Dawn is tired. It seems as if Norwegian is trying to get as many more miles out of her as possible while ignoring some details that are begging for attention. One of the windows in our suite is broken. On previous reviews I have read, the window was broken long ago and has yet to be fixed. There is some brown moisture running down the window sill. The light in the shower didn't work for days. We never complained about it  we just showered in the dimness  but I guess someone decided to change the light bulb eventually. The twinkle lights did not work over the spa ever. That was a bit sad. It would have been a nice detail, but not a big enough deal to complain about. There was lots of fresh paint signs everywhere they were busy putting fresh coats on the shuffle board and cabin door frames, but the bigger stuff, such as the window, would be much harder to replace when there is such a short turn around between cruises, but it would make a big difference to the guests staying in that suite. THE FOOD. I am always amazed that people complain about the food in their reviews. Actually, I am always amazed at how much people complain in their reviews in general. You are on vacation! Let it go! You are in control of your happiness. Stop complaining and find some gratitude that you have an opportunity to take a vacation in the first place. Such first world problems. Seriously. I found most of the menu choices to be high quality. I had a salmon and risotto dish in Cagney's upon embarkation and found it to be excessively salty. I told our server and she immediately took it away and brought a double order of shrimp cocktail. It thought that was exceptional service on her part. We tried a lot of the restaurants and definitely had our favorites: Cagney's  Definitely the sweetest suite perk! I had breakfast and lunch at Cag's almost every day. So dignified and relaxing. The crab cakes (breakfast) were smaller than on the Pearl, but that's ok. I do not like poached eggs and they accommodated my request for over hard eggs and no sauce, no problem. Actually, whenever possible, all my requests were handled very well. I had a few lunches at Cag's and, by Thursday, learned the trick of ordering appetizers instead of the usual ap, entre and dessert. I think I ordered 3 aps that day and no dessert. LOL. There is so much food consumption on the boat that one must get creative in cutting at least ONE calorie. ;-) The running joke after any meal was ok, what do we eat next? Le Bistro - We all enjoyed the meal, but be warned  it took over 3 hours due to exceptionally slow service! We pre booked and pre-paid for the dinner before the cruise so they would be able to accommodate all sixteen of us after the wedding. It would have been impossible to seat all of us together had we waited till cruising to make the reservation. Side note: they had a drink - I never found out what it was  that was to die for. The rim of the glass was coated in sugar. It was incredible enough that I think I may have had four. Or five. Not sure. By the end of dinner (3 or so hours later), I was completely trashed. It was the only time I drank on the cruise (except one night when we listened to the Bob Marley tribute band and all I had was one Long Island Iced Tea. La Cuccina - my favorite  everything we tried was fabulous  especially the flatbread pizza, (which we all shared) and, between the five of us, I think we tried a little of everything on the menu. The girls (who can handle the calorie binge better than us middle aged folks) ordered multiple aps and desserts. We ate it all. Oh, the humanity! Moderno - a new experience for me and I enjoyed the concept of gauchos walking around with stacks of meat, once I understood the procedure. I'm not a big meat eater, but all that I tried (I do NOT like lamb) was delicious and the salad bar had some really tasty options  the shrimp and tomato salad was yummy. The Venetian  people complain about it, but I thought the food was very good (I had the smoked salmon) and the staff was very attentive and accommodating, even when more and more of our group kept showing up to join us. Aqua  the server seemed to have an attitude, but maybe it was an off day for her. I let it go and enjoyed a solitary lunch of wonton soup (yum) and fish and chips (good). One of my sisters joined me at the end, which was really nice, but the server was visibly unhappy with another guest. No big deal. I usually left a tip with every meal ($1 to $2), just because I enjoy giving back for good service, but that was the one meal I did not leave a tip. The Buffet  I was pleasantly surprised. On our last cruise on the Pearl, I did not like the buffet at all. On the Dawn I found lots of options. I really liked the Indian selections and got them most of the time. I think it was Friday night when they had a fried sweet potato thing. If you find it, try it. It was YUM! It was a decent option if we were looking for something to eat (because, it seemed, we were eating. All. The. Time.) during odd hours. THE WEDDING  okay, Norwegian charges an arm and a leg, plus your first child in order to give you a wedding. I am talking thousands of dollars. What did we do? Well, one sister did most of it. She coordinated with her Norwegian travel pro, butler, photographer etc and we did it for little money yet we got big bang results. We borrowed pedestals with flowers, we brought tulle, lights and ribbon with us and made an arch with the pedestals. She and I flew in from out of state so we shipped to our sisters in Boston and Rhode Island all that we needed, including rose petal, giant (20x20) paper butterflies and handmade wedding favors, then hand carried them on board. The room was transformed into a beautiful wedding setting. We ordered appetizers and got 3 cakes delivered and then we made the 3 cakes into a beautiful wedding cake. If you need more details or pictures, I'm sure my sister and I would be happy to share. The younger girls (sister of the groom and nieces) used all of the decorations from the ceremony to dress up the inside cabin for the newlyweds. Even all the room stewards and butlers were coming in to see because it looked AMAZING! Renato created kissing swans out of towels to go on the bed, under the draped tulle oh my goodness! And my sister had a door magnet printed up from vista prints that said Just Married! with their names. It really was one of the most beautiful, intimate weddings I've ever attended. Also, instead of paying for a photography package ($$$), we let the photographers know that we'd be having a wedding in our suite and should they have time to take pictures, it would be appreciated if they could come by. The photographer, Helena, came and did a lovely job. We didn't buy the wedding package, but between all of us, we must have purchased at least $400 worth of pictures. Day one of Bermuda we did a dive tour with Hartley's Dive Tours. The review is below. The second day of Bermuda, one sister and I headed out to Hamilton on the ferry (we bought bus passes highly recommend, although in my haste I bought a 3 day and only needed 2). We both found Hamilton to be really pretty, with interesting architecture, but it was gawd-awful hot and humid and all the shops were full of over-priced junk from China you find everywhere else. So, we got on a bus and met up with the rest of our sisters at a beach that wants to stay secluded and unnamed. Lots of folks went to Horseshoe Bay (Cove?) and it was really busy. Buy a bus pass and discover on your own. Don't go where everyone else goes. I wish I had made it to the caves or glass beach, but there just wasn't enough time to do everything. No worries. It just means I must go back again! Oh, bummer. ;-) FYI: NCL strongly advises NOT renting scooters and mopeds on Bermuda. I have a very difficult time with left side driving so knew it wouldn't be a good idea for me. However, other folks did rent mopeds and that evening at dinner I saw a few people with very large bandages covering road rash wounds from moped accidents. Take the warning seriously. The third day of Bermuda had the tropical storm Gabriel coming back in (it had blown out at the beginning of the cruise, but changed its mind). The captain came on the in room loud speaker around 8am to say that we would be leaving early (3pm) to avoid the storm. Everyone went off and did their own thing. One sister and I decided to stay close by and discover the Navy Yard. As the morning wore on the winds picked up. We got back on board with plenty of time to spare. We were supposed to set sail at 3pm, which came and went with no departure. The winds were really picking up by then. At 3:30 or so the captain came on loud speaker and announced we'd be staying in port until the next morning in order to ride out the storm. Yippee! We were allowed to get off ship so I went off to go to the pharmacy nearby to get band aids for a bad wound I got when I decided to Tango with some limestone. The pharmacy was already closed (as soon as a ship leaves, all the stores close up and everyone goes home) so I walked around some more. The wind was getting more intense, sand was blowing into my eyes and I was seriously concerned about getting hit in the head by flying debris, so I headed back to ship. FYI: If you do need band aids you can get regular sized ones for free from the main desk in the Atrium on the 7th floor. If you need larger ones, they will give them to you for free at the doctor's office on the 4th floor. I found that out after limping to the already closed pharmacy. FINAL NOTE ON BERMUDA - Clean and so incredibly friendly. EVERYONE we encountered was friendly and helpful. An older gentleman on one of the buses helped us find our stop and gave us some great tips. We left a shoe at a bus stop (long story) and were able to get it back by way of the manager of Captain Kirk's Coral Reef Adventures and her brother in law on a scooter. Yes, I understand that they rely on the tourists and the ships, but everyone I met was so incredibly charming and helpful. I just wish I had more time to really enjoy it and see everything. WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY  I ran out of clothes. I packed sparingly. I did not take into consideration that I would go through a complete ensemble walking off ship in the middle of a tropical storm and getting completely drenched by salty sea spray. Granted, I was on a ten day trip, including the cruise and a high school reunion, but I wish I had packed more shirts, beachy dresses and underwear. Luckily, one of my sisters is a Platinum Latitudes member and she gets one free laundry drop per cruise. She let me use it. I just did underwear and jeans tho, as everything gets blasted in hot water and dryer and I couldn't trust them with my shirts. OTHER  in our party we had seven young women (my daughter, nieces, second cousin and second-cousin to be) in our party. For most of a year prior to the cruise I kept my eye out for seven items for every day of the seven day cruise so I could make suite treats. Each day's treats for 7 girls was in a ziplock bag that was labeled for that day. I gave my butler a $10 tip on the first day and then followed through with an additional tip at the end of the cruise. He and I agreed that I would leave a ziplock bag under the desk each morning and he'd place the treats in the girls suite each evening. It worked out so well that they didn't know who was leaving them lip gloss, funny head bands, wax lips, etc. and I enjoyed watching their excitement. I finally spilled the beans and told them it was me on Wednesday. Wednesday night the girls had a slumber party, all of them wearing NCL robes, wax lips and fuzzy headbands. They even crashed the buffet. You're welcome for that visual. ;-) One last thing. For the new occupants of room 12002, I hope you enjoy the glow in the dark googly eyes (Archie McPhee's) that I stuck up all over the place, including on the inside of the commode door, in the shower, on windows, on the TV, etc. I'm sure that Renato, the room steward, didn't find them ALL. Congratulations. You made it to the end of my review. Now go and enjoy your cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Boston to Bermuda Cruise We flew to Boston from Charleston a day before our NCL Dawn cruise so we could spend a day in Boston. We took an early flight and arrived in Boston about 9:45AM. We booked a room at the Hyatt Boston Harbor which ... Read More
Boston to Bermuda Cruise We flew to Boston from Charleston a day before our NCL Dawn cruise so we could spend a day in Boston. We took an early flight and arrived in Boston about 9:45AM. We booked a room at the Hyatt Boston Harbor which was next to the airport and right across the harbor from Boston's North End. Our stay at Hyatt Boston Harbor far exceeded our expectations. We only waited about 3-5 minutes for the shuttle to pick us up at the airport. The shuttle driver was friendly and shared his knowledge of the city also offering recommendations for dining. The two gentlemen at the front, Louie and Roberto, were by far the two best people we have ever encountered during a hotel stay, and we travel quite a bit. These guys made us feel as if we were the two most important guests in the hotel. They let us check-in as soon as we got there and put us in a hypo allergenic room which was beautiful, roomy,clean and had a great view of the Harbor and Boston. The water taxi could not have been more convenient. We wished we had more than a day there before heading out on our cruise. We took the water taxi over to Boston. Tickets are $17.00 each but Louie and Roberto at the front desk gave us two free round trip passes! Once off the taxi we headed up to Hanover Street where there are tons of Italian restaurants and bakeries. We took our shuttle drivers advise and headed to Modern Bakery to try their Lobster Tail which was delicious! Handmade, crispy shells shaped into a lobster tail filled with their "lobster tail cream" composed of homemade whipped cream, yellow cream, and ricotta cheese. We got one and split it. From there we strolled through the streets up to the Old North Church, which is where the lanterns were used to warn how the British were coming; one if by land. Time for more food! We headed to Neptune Oyster, also recommended by the folks at the hotel. We had a Maine Lobster Roll and a bowl of Boston Clam Chowder. The Lobster Roll was okay, I think we could have had one just as good for half the price somewhere else, but the chowder was excellent. From there we saw a few more sites went to Quincy Market and then headed by to the Italian district for dinner. On the way we stopped by The Green Dragon Tavern, where we met Michael Szkolka who is a tour guide / historian for Lessons in Liberty, a walking tour company. He was sitting at the bar, still in his British red coat garb and as we came in the seats next to him became available so we sat next to him and had a great time. We sat for a while chatting and drinking Green Monsta IPA, hoppiness in a bottle! Once again it was time to eat and we wondered the streets ending up at Regina Pizza. It was the best pizza I've had since leaving New York back in '97. The place was packed, but service was excellent and our wait was short. Any wait would have been worth it. After dinner we headed back to our hotel and as we entered our room we found a bottle of wine along with a nice card from the guys down at the front desk. I'm telling you they were awesome. After a great night's sleep we got up and headed to the cruise ship which was about 15-20 minutes by taxi from the hotel. We arrived at the port about 11:00 and check-in was fast and problem free. They did not start boarding until 11:30 so we were on board by 12:00 found a bar and around 1:00 it was announced that our rooms were ready. We had a category BA balcony stateroom. Like most staterooms it was cramped and that's okay, but they had a couple tables that just didn't seem to fit. No matter what you did with them they just seemed out of place. I liked the bathroom. It had a roomy shower with a sliding door instead of a curtain and the toilet also had a sliding door (for that extra privacy when you need it). The balcony was average but, it had old rotting cork flooring that tracked back into the room, and forget about standing on it in socks. It really needs to be replaced. But, it served its purpose of giving me a quiet place to relax and watch the sea roll by. There were two dining rooms on board, The Venetian and Aqua. The first night we found our way into Aqua. Mistake number one! This was a horrible room. The ceilings were low, totally lacking any kind of decor,LOUD The waiter staff was all over the place, it was very chaotic. I had the steak and lobster. The lobster was mushy and mealy and I could not even cut the steak. And did I mention it was LOUD! It was a total disappointment. It might as well have been a Denny's. Fortunately, it was last only bad meal we had during the cruise. The second night we had dinner at Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian steak house where they bring the different meats to your table and cut your portions right there. We had a great meal and a great time here. There was a $20. Per person surcharge, but it was well worth it, we even included an extra tip. Alvin, the assistant maitre d', was very attentive not only there in the restaurant, but throughout the cruise. He just seemed to be everywhere we turned around with a smile and helping hand. The follow nights we ate in the Venetian Dining room which was very nice. It was more of what you would expect from a dining room on a cruise ship. Very ornate, high ceilings, very organized wait staff. We even had breakfast and lunch there a couple times. Another great place to eat we found was The Blue Lagoon. It like Moderno Churrascaria was located on Deck Eight overlooking the atrium and lobby. This was basically good old bar food; Fish and Chips, Buffalo Wings, Burgers and the like. I don't know if many people even knew it was there, it was never busy and always good! We checked out the Sushi Bar which was really good. They charge ala carte prices, but we had a nice meal for about $14.00 total. Last but not least The Garden Buffet was good with a wide variety of food and, again a very attentive wait staff. The entertainment on board was top notch. The ship's resident comedian was Tim Kaminski, who we had sailed which before on NCL Majesty a few years back. It did a number of shows throughout the week and all were hysterical. He also hosted a number of events on board and was very approachable when you ran into him. They also had The Second City comedy group, again very funny! The production cast and crew put on a couple of shows. The first was Band On The Run, featuring music from the 70's and a second show Bollywood which we missed but people we spoke with said it was great. The bands in the clubs were dynamite. In the atrium each night was a duo, Jose and Patti. They offer a different theme of music each night 50's, 60's, Country. They pretty much packed the Atrium every night. They had a piano bar, a band playing dance club music, a band that played up on the Lido deck, the show band. I know most cruise lines offer all the same thing, but every one of the acts we saw really impressed us. They had an internet cafe on board I would avoid. They had a pretty hefty usage fee and it was SLOW! I only logged on to print boarding passes for our flight home after the cruise. Normally, this procedure takes about five or six minutes to do. It took me 20 minutes, at .75 per minute! They did credit me back half the money but I would advise give the computer a break and enjoy all there is on board. Our one port was Bermuda. Bermuda is a beautiful place. Their beaches are breathtaking especially on the South Shore (the pink sand beaches). The South Shore has a series of beaches running a couple miles along the shoreline with amazing rock formations jutting out of the water and cliffs along the coast.. We got off the ship and got a bus /ferry pass and rode to Horseshoe Bay. There were restrooms and food and drinks. We could not believe how beautiful the beach rocks and water was. The water was crystal clear and a perfect temperature. We hiked down through the other beaches to Warwick Long Bay. At one point we came across a couple and the fella said he had been jumping off this cliff into the ocean. I had to try it. Mistake number 2! I hit the bottom, luckily I landed on my ass, but it's still sore. Unfortunately, we our first two days there were Sunday and Labor and just about every place was closed. But we still had fun. Make sure you go to St George and see the dunking of the wench. They do it every day at noon. It is a great production and if you are lucky you may get picked as a dunker, like me! We also made a stop at the Crystal Cave. If you go to Crystal Cave ask if Ron is working and try to get on his tour. This guy was priceless; part tour guide, part story teller, part comedian. Half the time he sounded like Boris Karloff, whether that was what he was going for I don't know but he was a hoot. Take the ferry whenever you can over the bus. The bus drivers we had were crazy. One of them made a sudden stop and everyone really got a jolt. One lady fell off her seat into the aisle. He turned around and started yelling at her! "Why are you on the floor? What's the matter with you? You can't seat in a seat? You need a seatbelt? No one else fell on the floor. Why are you on the floor? I don't understand you." Not once did he ask if she was okay. It was the craziest thing I ever saw. She didn't say a word. She just got back up in her seat. We were lucky enough to be invite to a sail away party up in the Garden Villa suite. It was occupied by a cruise critic member we met at the Meet and Mingle. This suite is 6694 sq. ft.! It included three bedrooms, a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath, living with a piano. Outside a covered dining area, hot tub, changing rooms and stair case going up to the top level overlooking the lido deck with a nice set of chaise loungers . I am attaching some pictures because it is really hard to describe. Overall we had a great time. If you ever go out on the NCL Dawn I 'm sure you will too. Just avoid the Aqua dining room! Debarkation went smoothly. NCL offers you your choice of when you want to get off the ship. You pick up your luggage tags the day before debarkation and they are color coded. The color determines the time you get off. We got off 9:15 and our luggage was easy to find in the terminal. Walked out the front door and stepped right into a taxi to the airport.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Everyone on Cruise Critic loves Bermuda and you can minimally add me to list. While it may not be my favorite location, I would go back again. Chose this cruise based on two factors: Bermuda and going out of Boston. Both were wise ... Read More
Everyone on Cruise Critic loves Bermuda and you can minimally add me to list. While it may not be my favorite location, I would go back again. Chose this cruise based on two factors: Bermuda and going out of Boston. Both were wise choices. Thanks to all the wonderful people of Boston who were the vast majority on this cruise. Some of the nicest and politest patrons on any cruise I have been on in 16 excursions. The boat and only choice was NCL which was secondary. NCL Dawn has not faired well on many reviews and I expected to be disappointed and was willing to live with that based on the criteria stated above. Everything from Day 1 Exceeded my low or lowered expectations. Was in the OK Class partially blocked window view, I would take this room in a heartbeat for the low price I paid. Light came in well and you could see over the boat. As stated by everyone, do not book a room in the AFT on Deck 8. We were just forward of midship near the front elevator and heard little to no noise. The room was more than adequate for the price and knew that it would be smaller based on room size indicated. Bathrooms well layed out but did not like that they rigged the shower not to have very hot water. Think McDonalds Coffee and lawsuits. You can get around this with a Phillips Screw Driver if you are so inclined. Two free restaurants.. This really involves your own taste and personal choice since this is reflected differently by a good number of authors. Loved Venetian and thought the Aqua was a serious downgrade. Again personal choices and how you choose to dress. Venetian has a much stricter dress code. Note: A BIG THAT A BOY for the combination of Sergio Clair and Mary Jane who were no less that a fabulous combination. Best ever and that ranked high on my list. What a CLASS ACT... If you choose to seek them out, PLEASE TIP THEM WELL! They provide Exceptional Service and that demands abover average compensation. Pay restaurants worthwhile but we found the service in the main dining room Exceptional and how can you top EXCEPTIONAL! Food was much better than most reviews lead you to beleive. Boat was in better shape than I was again lead to believe. Staff was all over keeping railings and walls freshly painted. Tim Kaminsky wsa the best comedian ever experienced on a cruise and WHAT A FOLLOWING he has...He held a comedic session in the middle of a Sea Day and People left the pool to go to see him. AN OVER PACKED HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF A SEA DAY? Kudos to you Mr. K ... I have never seen such a huge following of cruisers... Guess that they read alot of Cruise Critic Reviews who praise him for a reason. Bermuda is one of the islands where it makes no sense to by sight seeing from NCL... As everyone indicates, take a Cab the first day to the beach since the bus is a bad option on Sundays. Yes it is forty dollars each way but your goal is to get to the beach, not to spend time on a bus. Note, YOU NEED TO RENT AN Umbrella and consider renting chairs. Sun is WAY too instence not to have an umbrella. Note: Hotels in Boston and the East Coast are not cheap! Worth noting before seeking out the before the cruise hotel which is always a must to prevent missing the cruise for any reason. Cruise Director Matt: Sorry Matt, Based on a scale of 10, you only rate a 3-4. Rachel: Good lucks take people a long way and hope that yours never fades since your voice is similar to scratching an LP of which you will have no idea of what this or a phonograph record ever was... Matre D's in restaurant: Nice Job Jose and to the quaint sophisticated man in charge..Sorry I dont remember his name but anyone from NCL reading this will know who I am talking about. All NCL staff worked hard and fully met my expectations! One head waitress in the Venetian was very bizzarre and again NCL should know who she is and I would ask for someone else if she attempted to wait on my table a second time. Boarding was brutal going through the lines. Abused by several people in line, shame on me for not getting names... This subject was previously discussed by other writers. Once you get to the counter, they are EXTREMELY EFFECIENT and somehow you forget about being abused while in line. Multiple incidences when going through initial security. OVERALL RATING: 9 out of 10. This is not the latest and greatest in terms of ships but was very nice and SUPPOSEDLY rated as number 2 of all NCL vessels by passengers. Thanks again to every cruiser from the Boston Area and a dedicated staff. Edna our steward was also a kind soul and the world needs more of them.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Before we boarded, we were surprised you can't register your credit card online. Glich #1. If you have a porter walking toward the back of the line offering to take your luggage, TAKE HIM UP ON IT. The entire wait was just for a ... Read More
Before we boarded, we were surprised you can't register your credit card online. Glich #1. If you have a porter walking toward the back of the line offering to take your luggage, TAKE HIM UP ON IT. The entire wait was just for a porter. They remove your luggage before you enter to check in. Check in was fast/smooth. Watch the lines. We were in a long line and they opened another one, much shorter. The bon voyage party was VERY loud in the outside pool deck. I guess loud=fun! The dining rooms were fine. The 472-seat Venetian was faster, service-wise, than the 344-seat Aqua, but the Aqua had windows, while the Venetian was decorated tastefully with huge murals showing scenes of Venice. Though not hasty, service is generally prompt. The hardest part was being able to join others at a table for 6 or 8. It seemed foreign to the maitre d'. I have been to Bermuda about 8 times, 3 by ship. I have stopped in Hamilton, St. George's and this time, Port Royal. By far, Port Royal is the least accessible by motor bike. You drive at least 7 miles before you see any scenery. Not fun. The mopeds are much faster than I remember 14 years ago and at my age (66), they were more difficult to maneuver. Getting them up on the kickstand was a challenge, too. The mopeds are also VERY EXPENSIVE. They charge $50 for one day and then add $30 for insurance. If you are renting for 3 days, the insurance is only $10 a day ($30 total), but for a one day rental, it's prohibitive. I rented the bikes all 8 times before, but things are different now. There are more deaths and serious injuries. The mopeds I rented before went about 35 MPH tops. I pushed this to almost 45 with no problem. If you want to rent, but are a little skittish, try doing it on a Sunday when there's less traffic. Also, you can take the ferry right from Port Royal to the town of Hamilton with you moped in tow. This is not so for the ferry from Port Royal to St. George's. I hope that changes. We sailed 7/19/13. In Boston the temps had been over 88 degrees for several days. When we arrived in Bermuda, we had more of the same, making it harder to use the mopeds. Our sweat made it difficult to maneuver the speed hand grips. The heat was brutal. We loved using the ferries, however. We bought a 15-ride ferry tickets EACH. For 3 days, that was way too much. One would have been too much. We used the ferries about 6 times in 3 days; we would have used them 8 or 10 at the most if we hadn't used the mopeds one day. Don't buy the 3 days pass at the tourist office right off the ship. Walk a little farther and you will see outside a trailer type building with a man selling the tickets. It's much cheaper to buy the 15 ride set for $30 and that would be enough for 2, rather than paying about $35 each for the pass. St George's is always worthwhile. We were there at 12N and got to see the daily dunking. It was at the main square and it's the best video I think we have ever filmed...a cute show (free and outdoors). They find two local "law breakers." One (the man) was from the audience and the gal trollop was a local who made the show. She was perfect for the role and really played it up. She got dunked but good. The bar servers in the casino were really nice. My BF got a FREE drink card the 2nd day...hate to think what he lost to deserve this... We also got an invite to an upscale dinner with a bottle of wine, compliments of the casino. They treat you better than Princess. We arrived home and in less than 3 weeks, we were offered 2 FREE CRUISES (one each) on NCL, compliments of TWIN RIVERS. When we were on the Bermuda cruise, a few people were telling us they met others who had won the same way and were on our cruise. We hadn't been to Twin Rivers in over a year. What a shock. We would definitely take the Bermuda cruise again...and may be at that! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Fabulous first cruise! Embarkation was very smooth and we loved our balcony cabin. Service throughout the cruise was fantastic. The crew wants to do anything they can to make your stay great. We especially appreciated how the cruise ... Read More
Fabulous first cruise! Embarkation was very smooth and we loved our balcony cabin. Service throughout the cruise was fantastic. The crew wants to do anything they can to make your stay great. We especially appreciated how the cruise director and his staff made us feel so welcome on the ship and they work extremely hard to entertain us. Food in the buffet is just OK. I would highly recommend booking a trio of the upscale restaurants you won't be disappointed. We went to the Italian, French and steak house. All fantastic! Check out the wine tasting in Le Bistro it was a great value and fun! Drinks on board are delicious and not light on the alcohol. Also the prices of drinks were very reasonable.I loved having the soda package with the insulated cup. Coffee on the ship is not great so we went to Java cafe and paid for our coffee every morning. I didn't mind a bit heading down there. I met some really nice people and had great conversations. The Barris ta Lydia is so sweet and knew my name and my coffee order as I approached her. There is lots to do on the ship but we loved sitting in the sun on deck 13 and then swimming in the pool on the other side of the live band. I think it is a decent value for what you get but do prepare yourself for the sticker shock of your on board bill at the end! The spa was wonderful and the quiet area in there is so relaxing. Ask for Sarah in the spa she is fabulous for any of the treatments. I got one of the best facials I've ever had. Excellent vacation and no seasickness despite the choppy seas! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Group: We traveled in a group of 18, ranging in age from 14 months to 65...Booked 5 cabins (3 inside staterooms on deck 12, Family Suite on 12, and a Mini Suite on 11) No Special needs required... Embarkation: Boarded in Boston, ... Read More
Group: We traveled in a group of 18, ranging in age from 14 months to 65...Booked 5 cabins (3 inside staterooms on deck 12, Family Suite on 12, and a Mini Suite on 11) No Special needs required... Embarkation: Boarded in Boston, convenient location, Porters were quick and attentive...Security screening was painless...They allowed all members of our party to priority board even though only 1 room was a suite, which was nice...Got to the terminal at 10:30am, and we were on board by 11:15...Rooms were not ready yet so we had lunch and walked 1 time around deck 12...All rooms were ready by 12:30 Public Rooms: The only room I would consider a public room that wasn't an entertainment venue was the Library which accommodated @ 40 guest...It was clean, well lit, with comfortable chairs and had an adequate variety of books and games...There was always a handful of Guest using the facility at all hours... Cabin: We stayed in the (SJ) Family Suite 12012...We didn't want a balcony because our 4 Children staying with us are 6 and Under...Room was Large, with a King Size Bed, a Full Size Sofa pull out, and a Full size Murphy Bed...There was also a Dining table with four chairs, a coffee table w/ two Chairs, and a shelf/ Seat that was in front of the Full wall Windows...Bathroom was bigger than our bathroom at home, with a Double sink vanity, Tub, and a Stand up shower...Our Butler Maurice was nice but we really didn't require his services much, Same with the concierge Virginia...They also are not included in the Mandatory tipping of 12 per day per person, so you have to tip them separatly (Recommended tip is $10 pp per day) Which I felt was high considering they had failed to deliver a Anniversary cake and Birthday cake on separate occasions to guests in our party, We adjusted there tips accordingly...Our Steward Renato was great...Fitness/Recreation: We walked through the gym area which was very open and had up to date equipment...The Basketball court left much to be desired, the netting to prevent the ball from going over board was low (Maybe 10.5 Ft.) Rims were under 9 Ft...So there was not many outside shots making it to the net...Golf Nets were also in poor shape, Starboard side net had no plastic tees so you could only use Irons, and the ones provided were in BAD shape (5 iron snapped on one shot)Port side net was better with tees and drivers... Dining: Suite Guests get breakfast and lunch from Cagney's daily...Food there was excellent when we used it (Let other party member use it when we didn't)...The only premium restaurant we went to was Moderno, Food was good, Service Not so much, There was suppose to be @ 10 different meats to try, after the 4th one the started repeating stuff we already tried...There was 6 adults at the table and when the sides were delivered the potatoes (Which were amazing) only had about a teaspoon for each person, so we had requested more, the waiter seemed annoyed...The dress codes were not enforced at all, as pants and collered shirts were supposed to be required at Venetian, but people came in wearing shorts and flip flops, We ate there once because we did adhere to the dress code and did't want to dress up because it was very hot...Aqua (The other main dining area) had very good food, but the decor needs updating...Wait staff was excellent everywhere but Aqua on the final night (2 out of 3 night was great)...We did use the buffet a fair amount for breakfast and lunch, Breakfast was better than I expected after reading some reviews on this site...Lunch was hit or miss as they incorporated ethnic foods on different days, and on those days got stuck with burgers...The kids loved the kids cafe area with the kid sized tables and buffet, my only issue with this was there was a sign that stated KIDS ONLY BUFFET but it was common for adult to raid the buffet...They only had one attendant for the area who also had other common areas to attend to and some times the food would run out and not replenished fast enough... Entertainment: The shows were OK...There was a new Comedian(Not Kaminsky) who was kind of funny (Geared for the older crowd 60+)...Game shows were good, Not-so-Newlywed show, and deal or no deal were both entertaining...Karaoke in the Pearly King was very good believe it or not...Casino was smokey but not as bad as some reviews make it out to be, (I have never been a smoker) you don't have to avoid the whole sixth floor...The main pool area does get crowded especially when there is the Mens sexy leg contest and the Ladies Booty shaking contest...There was plenty of seating on regular days, and there wasn't many people reserving chairs...The T-Rex pool area for kids was bigger than portrayed Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
OVERVIEW: Please note, this cruise was booked as a super last minute deal for us. And, driving this was largely a matter of convenience - (we live literally a few miles away from the Boston cruise port) and destination (we always wanted to ... Read More
OVERVIEW: Please note, this cruise was booked as a super last minute deal for us. And, driving this was largely a matter of convenience - (we live literally a few miles away from the Boston cruise port) and destination (we always wanted to go to Bermuda and this seemed like the way to go given how expensive everything over there is). Lastly, the itinerary was perfect; most cruises stay at a place for barely 8 hours, allowing time to do just one thing. Staying here for 3 full days was the way to go, and in my opinion, the cruise industry needs more itineraries like this. As an FYI, our last cruise a few months back was Celebrity Silhouette. We were constantly making comparisons to this ship throughout our cruise on Dawn, and that's a bit unfair. Because of this, it was at times hard to take pictures of and around the ship... But it does help to know where Dawn falls short compared with a premium cruise liner. This all being said, my review of Dawn needs to be evaluated against these primary criteria (destination, price, itinerary). ITINERARY: ( A+ ) Its no wonder why this is rated as the top Bermuda itinerary. Many ships come here for just a day or they arrive in the evening and claim to stay 3 days when it's really only 1.5 since they leave in the afternoon on the third day. As noted above, the destination and departure port were a strong driver of us choosing this particular cruise. We rented a scooter for 2 days and easily explored the whole island. IMO this is the best and easiest way to go; just beware left-hand side drive!! SHIP: ( C ) Dawn is an older NCL ship, and a haphazard one at that. There is no unifying theme, and its very poorly laid out. Compared to Silhouette, it falls very short on details. For example, you have to walk through a smoke filled casino to get to the theatre, or the rug is in poor shape or tearing apart at the seams, etc. The decor is very dated, and while it was refurbished last year, changing the paint job on a car does not make it any younger. If I were flying to Miami for a "cruise vacation," I would have certainly never chosen a ship like this. See more on the POOL section below. Also, another disappointment was that, compared to every other cruise I've taken, on this one there was no captain’s party (meet and greet for the captain and senior officers) and no event (even in daily newspaper or otherwise) announcing who the hotel director, CD, captain, head chef, etc and other ship VIPs were until the very end of the cruise. ACTIVITIES/ENTERTAINMENT: ( A ) This far exceeded expectations. Only complaint is that the main seats in the theatre were very uncomfortable and in disrepair, and could have used even more live music than already provided. The comedian Sam Fedele was hilarious and received a standing ovation, as did the acrobats. The Second City troupe was hilarious as well. Bollywood is a must see. All of these received standing ovations and far exceeded typical cruise-entertainment faire. Another surprise was the CD. I would rank Gio among the top 2 or 3 in about 10 cruises I've taken. He's quite a good looking guy I take it, as many ladies were oogling over him, including the one I was with ;). Very energetic and funny, really knows how to help people have a good time. He held an extremely funny newlywed show and taught an informative salsa class. I think he was having an affair with the shopping lady Rachel! Casino entertainment - I'm not a big gambler but my observations on a few games I’m familiar with: Blackjack - they use continuous shufflers here, which are very unfavorable to the player. Unless you're playing $25 or $50 / hand, expect to see these instead of traditional decks. First time seeing them on a cruise casino ship. This might be to discourage card counters. Roulette - American style which has two zeroes instead of one...the additional zero slightly further increases the house's edge. But overall the vibe on the ship was much more “fun” than Celebrity, which stresses more of the laid-back elegant and contemporary modern luxury, as opposed to doing things like hairy leg contests, booty-shaking contests, and newly wed game shows. POOL: ( C- ) The pool and surrounding area was very ill-conceived and poorly thought-out. There is not a lot of space for deck chairs around the pool, and one has to go up flights of stairs to find deck chairs if you aren't lucky enough to grab some of the very few around the pool. The water is salty and the pool is 6 feet all around, making it hard to stand up in the water for average people like me. Also, it gets extremely crowded on sea days and there's lots and lots of children running around (not unexpected given timing of cruise). Expect to bump into lots of people while using the pool because it cannot support the # of passengers on the ship. Difference with Celebrity: NCL makes you put a $25 deposit if you use towels at the pool, likely to deter people from taking towels home. This comes across as cheap and unclassy. Celebrity does no such thing and encourages people to take and use whatever they need. SERVICE: ( C+ ) My take after doing freestyle cruising is this: it's a lot like the communist system - sounds great on paper but in practice it's a whole other thing. The beauty of freestyle on this trip was that we were free to explore the island and stay out very late (as we did both evenings). So a flexible 10pm dinner time worked out well for us. However, because you have different servers each night, I don't think there is any incentive for waiters to perform, as I'm sure all gratuities go into a pool and are distributed communist style. This kind of system also makes me less inclined to give more than the minimum since no one "performed" beyond. So I would say the service was not bad, but lacked attentiveness and attention to details and promptness, something that was the norm on Celebrity, always. We ate at a steak specialty restaurant for free (see ROOM section). I would say it was good, but not as 'memorable' and as 'awesome' as some other reviewers have raved about. The service was up a notch and how it should be (probably because tips go directly to them; who knew that incentives matter!). We had to go to a specialty restaurant to get the same service that comes with a normal non-specialty dinner at Celebrity. Had we paid for this meal, I don't think it would've been worth it. I ordered ribeye steak and told them to cook it rare; it came back medium. Still good, but not WOW compared to some of Boston's best steak houses. PRICE: ( A ) We had wanted to go to Bermuda this summer and had been tracking this cruise for a while, but the prices were a bit higher than we were willing to pay. About a few weeks before sail date, we noticed some major downwards movements. We booked it at a level that I think was the bottom for our category type; I know people who paid 2X or more than what we did for the same thing. This was an extraordinary vacation value for us! But... ROOM (Inside Cabin 8163): ( C- ) Because we paid so less for an inside guarantee cabin, we received a room way at the back of the ship, right above the Spinnaker Lounge, where parties are held till late night. We could hear the songs and music and had to use earplugs (which didn’t work) to go to bed. The vibration from the bass was super strong each night. We checked with a few of our neighbors and this was the case for them as well (all of them had also paid around what we did … interesting). Also the cabins were paper-thin and we could hear EVERYTHING (yes, everything) going on in our neighbors' cabins. At first, I felt bad to complain since we paid so little for this cruise. After some encouragement from gf and neighbors (who complained as well), they were kind enough to offer us a complimentary dinner at Cagney’s (their “premium” steakhouse) and a free bottle of wine - something I would value at around $100. Our neighbors received this also. And upon checkout, we found they added an additional $200 in on board credits to our account - WOW! Way to go for NCL to exceed expectations in handling such a situation. Neither expected nor necessary, but very much appreciated!! Key difference with Celebrity: room was light on details and amenities, we had to call reception to fix our thermostat and non flushing toilet more than once, and soap dispenser and quality of soaps were not so great. FOOD: ( A ) This was the biggest positive surprise of the cruise. Given NCL's position as a CCL competitor and entry level line, I thought the food would suffer, but some of the dishes were as good as I could expect on a premium line like Seabourn. Even if I paid 2X as much, I would have still felt that the food was up to par for dollar paid. The garden cafe buffet is a bit disorganized and haphazard and not as open and wide as other buffets I've been to, but the generally great quality of food made up for this. More options for breakfast maybe instead of the same things everyday? I thought the regular restaurants were good enough that if I were not offered the dinner at Cagney’s I probably would not have visited any specialty restaurants. Most were empty most nights except the Teppanyaki, which always seemed to be booked solid. EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: ( A ) Getting on was easy enough since we just took public transport from our home. We were on board within 30 mins. I recommend carrying your bags on, if you can, to save time. The freestyle concept extends to disembarkation as well as this was some of the easiest getting on and off I experienced ever cruising. From this, we were able to easily take the T and were home within 30 minutes. FELLOW PASSENGERS: No grade here as this has no bearing...But I would say they are very similar to Carnival passengers...for many this might be a trip of a lifetime or trip of the year. Many were simply blown away at this cruise in some of the categories I rated "C" above. This differs from Celebrity in that the average passenger there is well traveled, usually a seasoned cruiser, and are well into/established their careers. Lots and lots of kids as well. Just my general, non-specific, observations… OVERALL: ( B+ / A- ) Dawn is the ship to choose for destination, not service or for a premium cruising experience. Dawn lacks on the small details (unifying themes, service, etc). If you can get it for a great price, all the better. For us, the biggest drivers of this cruise were price, ease of getting to the port from home, and destination. If things were different, and I would have paid the asking prices of 2-3 months prior to sail date, I would have been very unhappy. I would have ordinarily ranked this around a C+ / B- experience if the other driving factors weren't so strong. Note that the mathematical average of all the grades above is a solid B, but I'm using my reviewer discretion and giving the Dawn the benefit by giving it a higher rating! I would consider doing it again if these criteria above all made sense in the future, though probably not anytime soon as I like to explore new places, and probably with friends! I'm glad I got to visit Bermuda this way though and would recommend others to do it bearing all the above in mind.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Well here is my trip review--booked this trip only 19 days before departure and then spent the days scrambling to get it together and learn about the island, replacing swim suits that were making that dreaded crinkly elastic noise and ... Read More
Well here is my trip review--booked this trip only 19 days before departure and then spent the days scrambling to get it together and learn about the island, replacing swim suits that were making that dreaded crinkly elastic noise and thanks to all the amazing Mega Breakaway reviews it was a lot easier. We knew we wanted to go to Bermuda and were able to snag the last SC-2 bedroom available for half the price of the Breakaway (if one were available according to CFsh). We had a SC suite on the Star Dec 2011 and it was OK, not great, loved the suite but were underwhelmed by the perks. I am happy to report that the perks on the Dawn were outstanding! So on Thursday afternoon 6/6 my family flew to Boston and stayed in the Hampton Logan. It was OK. The free shuttle never picked us up at the airport, so we took a cab, and there were some issues with the front desk regarding getting two rooms close together (were promised connecting when booking directly with the hotel). Would probably choose another hotel if staying in Boston again, but late bookers take what's left. Ate dinner at Jeveli's in North Boston--a classic Italian-American old school restaurant. Food was good and prices were reasonable--and the theme from "The Godfather" kept running through my head.Woke up on Friday to rain and the beginnings of Tropical Storm Andrea--very ugly, but we were all excited to get on the ship. Cab to ship was pretty painless, stopped to pick up some cans of Coke at a mini-mart on the way. Checking in around 10:40 was easy, no lines even if we were not priority. Escorted to the suite area around 11:00 and met Virginia our Concierge, and Flor our Butler. Flor escorted us onto the ship at around 11:45. We were able to drop off our carry-ons and had a great lunch at Cagney's. We all felt that the food and service at Cagney's was much better than Dec 2011 on the Star. Before sailaway, the Captain came on and said that the tropical storm would be effecting us starting after dinner. Captain Paul said it would get a little worse--and then a little more worse, and then worse than that and then a little more worse than before and then it would start getting better late in the afternoon of Saturday. Boy was he not kidding! It was a wild ride and very few left their cabins on Saturday morning. The weather in Bermuda was beautiful all three days to make up for the stormy passage.My ten year old daughter was not excited to be signed up for the kids club. She had a great time on the Spirit and a horrible time on the Star and hardly used it at all--there were just too many kids in too small a space. On the flight to Boston we had a discussion about going to the kids club--she didn't want to even check it out. So on Friday afternoon we (yes I forced her) to go take a look at Splash Academy. It has been remodeled and is much better than the dark curtains separating the areas on the Star. She got her wrist band which is not removable--much to her dismay. We met Janet from NCL corporate who is in charge of the program, and shared our likes and dislikes of past ships and programs. She wants feedback and seems to be a go-getter. My daughter ended up loving the kid's club--she learned to juggle and balance feathers and throw and catch devil sticks for the circus show. The theme nights were fun--pirates, survivor and spy stuff, to name a few. The counselors were outstanding and all knew her name. There were about 160 kids under 18 on board. That number is expected to more than double in the next couple of weeks as NE schools start summer vacation. So Kudos to Splash Academy for a great week.My soon to be 18 year old had a good time in the teen club. there were 16 teens signed up. The room was great with large flop pillows and game systems and dance floor. She had a good time with many of the activities--Would You Rather and learning some new dances, and made some friends by the end of the week.She really liked the counselor Simba from Canada.Our room steward was Terry. He was fabulous and when we would turn the dial on our room to "make up" or "turn down" it was done quickly. He made an amazing array of towel animals and was very personable. He hosted the towel animal demonstration this week.Flor, our butler, was sweet and efficient. We didn't do any in-room dining this week, but she did always answer the phone quickly. Our toilets stopped working and I called her and within minutes they were fixed, and she followed up with us to make sure it was fixed. Our fruit bowl was replenished and we received more cookies and treats than could possibly be good for us.Virginia the Concierge was great. We waited in no lines, we had invitations to all the parties, early admission to the chocolate buffet, priority disembarkation on our first day in Bermuda, reserved seating, etc.My husband has some medical issues that are not obvious to the casual observer due to after effects from chemo, so what the average able-bodied visitor to Bermuda might do was not practical for us. Long walks and standing on packed buses or lines was not an option for us as a group. So we spent more than the average visitor on taxis. On Sunday we reserved a day pass at Coco Reef,(just east of Elbow Beach) which included lunch, pool, private beach, chairs, and umbrellas, showers and bathroom facilities for $49 for those over age 12, just the cost of lunch for children. I thought it was a good deal and the lunch was yummy. It cost about $42 for the taxi (25% Sunday surcharge). Did see a few washed up Portuguese man of war jellyfish, so do watch out for these.On Monday we spent the day at Horseshoe Bay Beach. Took a taxi for around $27 + tip and rented chairs and umbrellas. The surf was very high but It was fun for us to body-surf. It also was fun to explore the coves on both sides and there were some large, well fed parrot fish in the cove just to the right as you enter the beach. The beach truly is spectacular with the rocks and soft sand and clear water.On Tuesday we thought about going to St George, but really wanted more time in the water, so we returned to Horseshoe very early in the morning and stayed until lunchtime. The surf was a little less rough and my youngest really enjoyed playing in the water and snorkeling in the cove. We grabbed a taxi back--which was very easy--and had them drop us at snorkel park. We were curious about what was out there, and having our own gear made it inexpensive. A good ways out there was quite a bit of some purple coral and sea fans and a variety of fish and one cannon. There was a pretty good rip current that was trying to pull me further out, so do be careful. This is also definitely a place to wear your water shoes, as the rocks are rough. Maybe next time we will book a snorkel tour from a boat, but after going through the tropical storm, I just wanted some land time. The beach at snorkel park was very crowded--we just snorkeled a while and walked back to the ship to shower and change. We shopped for a few hours in the dockyard--fun to watch the glass blowing, and made a few purchases for co-workers and family.The food we had on board was overall very good. We only ate in one specialty restaurant--Moderno. It was good, though it was kind of strange--the picador kept walking past us with the meat and did not serve us even though our table was green side up. I finally said something to the waiter after only getting five of the courses and it taking an hour and a half. It was just too long a wait for me and truth be told I am more of a seafood/chicken person. I didn't think the salad bar was that great either. Good concept, poorly executed. The meat eaters in my family thought the meat was good, with the exception of the pork ribs which were tough.Breakfast and lunch at Cagney's was soooo much better than on the Star. We didn't feel like dinner after the large lunches. We ate twice at the aft main dining room, twice at the mid ship main dining room, and once each at blue lagoon, Moderno and the buffet. We were happy with the selection and quality of what was offered. The entertainment was a mixed bag for us. We really enjoyed the band Midnight Review on the Star, on the Dawn, there was no real bluesy/rock music to dance or listen to which was disappointing. The acrobat team put on an excellent show. Band on the Run was OK and Bollywood was entertaining. Second City was having an off night or the group just didn't work well together for us, and we usually enjoy them. That brings me to the comedian, Tim Kaminsky. His shows were a riot. He was also very visible on the ship, often to be found in Pearly Kings. In fact, he was there for trivia, and lo and behold he wanted to switch papers with my group--all I could think was please let a few of my answers be right!! I don't want to be an elephant or flying monkey or the butt of jokes for cruises to come. We actually ended up winning and he was very funny with my 10 year old playing with the popcorn handshake gag. (check out his bling! wow is all I can say!) . They no longer make you carry around slips of paper for chatskies at the end of the cruise for participating in games. We won 2 beach balls, a deck of cards and 4 can coolers during the week. We all liked Gio the Cruise Director and staff with the exception of the assistant who we found overbearing. Fountains was great with Tim Kaminsky participating. I tried out Bingo for the first time--guess I'm not a bingo fan--cause I would like to have that hour of my life back.The week was over all too soon--boy those last sea days go quick! We did priority disembarkation with assistance. We left our stateroom at 8:40 walked off the ship at 8:45, through security, found our luggage and were in a cab at 9:00. We got to the airport by 9:15 ($27 cab ride +tip) and were at the gate bored to tears at 9:30 for a 11:40 flight. There was no line to get through security at 9:15, but by 10:00 there was a long wait--so if you have a early flight and no priority disembark you might want to do easy walk off. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Background This was my tenth cruise, third on Norwegian (second time on the Dawn, once on the Gem). We will be going on Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas next February (we booked that before this.) We have been on 3 Royal ... Read More
Background This was my tenth cruise, third on Norwegian (second time on the Dawn, once on the Gem). We will be going on Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas next February (we booked that before this.) We have been on 3 Royal Caribbean cruises (with another booked for February, a 10-night E. Caribbean cruise on the Legend of the Seas), 2 Holland America cruises, one Carnival, and one on MSC. Embarkation / First Day If you have read my previous reviews, including mine from the Dawn this week last year, we have had some extremely easy check-in/embarkation processes (Baltimore, Boston, Cape Liberty, etc.), as well as some more difficult ones (Manhattan). Last year, embarkation was very easy in Boston. Last year, we waited on a 20-minute line for a porter and then we were on the ship within 5-6 minutes. This year, we had no line for a porter and we were on the ship about 10 minutes after arriving at the pier. Getting off the gangway gave that same party-esque feeling that felt like a corny gimmick they picked up from Carnival. They did a bit too much to entice guests to buy soda and spa packages, and it started to get annoying quickly. The ship left the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal at around 4 p.m, and we were off. Service Service on the Norwegian Dawn is 1000% better than on the Gem, but then again, that's the difference between New York and Boston (I'm a New Yorker and I'm saying this.) Staff in the restaurants were great as well, though sometimes unresponsive and forgetful. The cruise director, Gio (or Antonio Banderas, I couldn't tell), was a bit mediocre. I didn't even see him until the day we left Bermuda (the fifth day). But after that, he was everywhere I was. The worst part of the cruise was that we NEVER (not once) met our Cabin Steward. Actually, he didn't even clean our room half the time. We had to make our beds by ourselves. Guest Services tried to fix this, but to no avail. Other than that, however, we had no real problems with service like we did on the Gem.. Service in the dining rooms was mostly fine. Guest Services was fine. No problems, other than the cabin steward. Cabin Other than having no cabin steward, our room was pretty poor as well. First off, it was isolated in an area of four rooms, RIGHT next to the Stardust Theater and across the hall from the Casino. The other bad thing about our cabin was that it showed many signs of wear & tear, and it looked as if it were on its last legs. Our window was so dirty that it was 75% covered in dirt and dried streams of water, making it very hard to look out. There were also paint chips, missing pieces in the shower, a toilet that only flushed half of the time, and many more problems. Our other family cabin, 5132, was the complete opposite, and was operated much better than ours. It was amazing how much nicer and friendlier the crew were on this ship were compared to that of the Gem. Everyone would say 'hello', 'how are you?', etc. and it even got to the point where some of them would randomly run down a line of people high-fiving them. Crew was much better than on the Gem. On the first night, one of the cabins complained about noise and required that the HEAVY fire door to be closed. Sure enough, it kept closed and we had to open and close it ourselves, or else the guy would complain to Guest Services. There was one time, on night 5, that we opened the door for the pizza delivery guy for thirty seconds. The guy complained and demanded that I be kicked out of my own cabin. Sure enough, because he was a Gold Latitudes member, security responded quickly and asked that I stay out of my room. The other bad thing about our cabin was that it showed many signs of wear & tear, and it looked as if it were on its last legs. Our window was so dirty that it was 75% covered in dirt and dried streams of water, making it very hard to look out. There were also paint chips, missing pieces in the shower, a toilet that only flushed half of the time, and many more problems. Our other family cabin, 5132, was the complete opposite, and was operated much better than ours. Entertainment Entertainment, in my opinion, took a step down in comparison to last year (but not compared to February on the Gem). The one thing that was better entertainment-wise was the comedian, Tim Kaminski. Tim, a 2001 Comedy Hall of Fame inductee, had 3 shows, hosted the Quest, and made more of an appearance than Gio, the cruise director. It was actually Tim's final cruise on the Dawn after a span of 12 straight weeks, but he will be back early August. He was great, while the other guest headliner, wasn't. Allexy and Sally are a duo telling a love story supposedly through opera, but nothing was made clear during the show and it was one of (if not the worst) show on the cruise. The Second City was bland, as it was on the Gem and last year on the Dawn. The Three Production Cast Shows: Pure Variety (night 3, or 4? I don.t remember): Didn't see this show, but I heard it was just OK. Band On The Run (night 5): As it was last year, this was my favorite show. Featuring the songs and life of the '70s, the grand opening of Club BOTR (Band On The Run) has arrived and everyone is celebrating, through music that it.) Bollywood (night 7): This was the weirdest show of them all. A Hindu-Indian themed Acrobatics show that made no sense. The only reason that I saw this show was to see the Crew finale song afterward, something I always enjoy seeing, though often a depressing sign. Activities Activities once again lacking on Norwegian ships. Not much to do last year, not much to do on the Gem, not that much to do now. Although there were more scheduled OSA (Organized Ship-wide Activities) than last year, there was still a lack of things to do. The Freestyle Daily (the ship's program and scheduling paper) was not as packed with activities as, let's say, Royal Caribbean's Daily Compass, but it had ENOUGH things to do to keep everyone busy. Things were especially slow on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, the three days that we were in Bermuda. Splash Academy Kid's Club / Entourage Teen Club The Splash Academy was great as always, and the Entourage Teen Club have both taken a big step up compared to how they were on the Gem and on the Dawn. These little things are what matter, and NCL has definitely addressed SOME, not all, but some of these issues. The Teen Club was still hardly ever open, only opening from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. on port days and 2 intervals of 3-4 hours throughout the day on Sea Days. Also, unlike Royal Caribbean and Carnival who divide their Teen Programs into two age groups (12-14 and 15-17), NCL keeps their teens all in one age group, 13-17 year olds. They also make no exceptions to let 12 year olds in, which other lines have 12 as the starting age for the program. Splash Academy was divided into three age groups, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. But still, both programs took a step up from last year. Dining The food was about the same as it was on my previous two NCL cruises. The food was just OK. Nothing special, but it wasn't bad either. Here's a rundown of all the restaurants that we went to: Garden Cafe: This was the Lido Deck buffet on the ship. It was nothing special, but it wasn't great either. Choices were very limited, and it had the same foods every day/night. I have to say, the Garden was better on the Gem, which at least had rotating menu choices nightly and a better layout. Aqua Main Dining Room: The Aqua was one of two MDRs on the Dawn, the other being the Venetian. These restaurants have the same menu which rotates nightly. We ate at Aqua on the first night, but we did not get to go to the Venetian (although we did last year.) The food was pretty good, but it still can't compare to the food on Royal Caribbean. One thing that I still don't understand that NCL does is that they have Lobster night on the first night. Moderno Churrascaria: Moderno is the Brazillian Steakhouse on the ship. This was one of our favorite meals on the ship (although it was our least favorite on the Gem.) Conquistadors (as NCL calls them), come around slicing meats off of huge "kabobs". That was in the top three meals on this ship, in my opinion. Cagney's Steakhouse: A New York-style steakhouse that had several kinds of steaks and other meats. It was pretty good, but no Peter Luger. Bamboo Asian Fusion: As was the case last year, Bamboo was not very good. This happened to be one of our favorite meals on the Gem, but our least favorite on the Dawn. For what seemed to be an extensive menu, the menu was still very limited. teppanyaki: Our favorite meal on the ship. teppanyaki is the Japanese Hibachi-style restaurant on the ship. With seating for just 24 people, we weren't even able to get a reservation here until the last seating on the last night. There were several different menu choices that chefs would then cook right in front of your eyes. It's dinner and a show. Blue Lagoon: The ship's 24/7 diner-style restaurant. This was my go-to place at 1 a.m. every night for pretty much all-American food. I loved the Blue Lagoon.One night, I was there at 3 a.m. The guy at the table was ordering an he wanted a grilled cheese. He was angry to find out that they couldn't make him a grilled cheese, so he said "Do you have bread (yes). Do you have cheese (yes). Just take them both, slap them together, and put them on a grill and there you go, a grilled cheese." The guy said they couldn't do it. Then the guy said "I see you have a cheeseburger. Let m have a cheeseburger without the burger." The waiter walked away, murmuring to himself. That may not sound funny, but it may have been the funniest moment of the trip for me. NCL's Pizza 24/7 service: NCL's $5 pizza happened to not be that bad. Not that good, but not that bad. I wouldn't compare it to Pizza Hut, but I wouldn't say that it's as good as a fresh pie from the best NYC pizzeria. Let's not get carried away here. The Shops Onboard (Dufry Shops): The shops were good, IF you weren't looking for Norwegian Dawn merchandise. There was no apparel that said "Norwegian Dawn"on it. Things that said "Bermuda" and "NCL" were the norm. Jewelry, Bijoux Terner merchandise, liquor, and tobacco were all up to par, and everything was duty free. Disembarkation Disembarkation on the Dawn was set up in a very odd way. Once our tag color was called (we happened to have the latest one), we would be called to the exterior promenade, Deck 7 mid. From there, the line to get off the ship went all the way around the promenade, to the gangway on the Port side of the ship (we were starboard). We were on line, with at least 25-30 other people behind us. Those people all found a way to cut in front of everyone and we ended up being the LAST (literally, the last) people off the ship. It was a bit creepy, actually. From there, a Customs officer was waiting at the tail-end of the gangway to just take our Customs form. No questioning, no searching, no passports needed. From there, we took the escalator down to the luggage area. We found our luggage as soon as we got down (we were the last ones off, so we had the last luggage), and we left the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal about 6 minutes after getting off the ship. Bermuda Bermuda, as it was last year, was beautiful. We docked around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, 4 1/2 hours ahead of the scheduled 11 a.m., due to a medical emergency. On Sunday, we did a Glass-bottomed Boat Tour of the island. That was pretty fun, getting to see to island's coral system and fish. Monday, we went to Horseshoe Beach, the most acclaimed beach in Bermuda. We got there via a taxi, Psalm's Mini Bus Service. We tipped him extra to then come back and take us to Hamilton, where we wanted to spend the night. He completely stuck us up, and ditched us. DO NOT TAKE THIS TAXI SERVICE!!!!!! Use anyone else, there were boatloads of them by the ship (Pun intended.) On Monday night, we went into Hamilton to have dinner. We ate at the Pickled Onion,which happened to be very good. On Tuesday, we stayed local and did a very challenging mini golf course right in the Dockyard. Also, we had the Dockyard to ourselves, as there were no other ships in port over that three day span (the Grandeur of the Seas was supposed to dock adjacent to us at King's Wharf, but the ship was still under repair from it's fire back in May.) Heritage Wharf, where we docked, was still under renovation as officials continued to extend the wharf to comfortably berth the brand new Norwegian Breakaway Overall / Final Thoughts Overall, the ship happened to already show some signs of wear and tear, as well as some aging. For a ship that was just refurbished in 2011, that wasn't the best sign for NCL. But still, this time around on the Gem happened to be better than the first. We all had a great time. The second day (a sea day), happened to be EXTREMELY rough as we caught wind and rough waves from a storm off the coast of Washington, D.C. Nearly half of the ship was bedridden, an that was the cause of the medical emergency that forced a passenger off the ship early the next morning. The ship was nice, despite it's aging interior. Boston to Bermuda on the Dawn is actually the only itinerary of its kind from Boston, and it was definitely unique. We also had the Dockyard to ourselves, as there were no other ships in port over that three day span (the Grandeur of the Seas was supposed to dock adjacent to us at King's Wharf, but the ship was still under repair from it's fire back in May.) Heritage Wharf, where we docked, was still under renovation as officials continued to extend the wharf to comfortably berth the brand new Norwegian Breakaway. But still, we all had a great time and remember to Cruise Like a Norwegian on the Norwegian Dawn.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The cruise started under stormy skies, with a tropical storm approaching. Seas at one point were 18-27 feet with gale force winds. This caused the closing of the Promenade deck, so we stayed indoors for the trip to Bermuda. There was ... Read More
The cruise started under stormy skies, with a tropical storm approaching. Seas at one point were 18-27 feet with gale force winds. This caused the closing of the Promenade deck, so we stayed indoors for the trip to Bermuda. There was plenty to explore on the inside of the ship, so that was fine. First thing, get yourself a soda package before you start getting charged individually for soft drinks. The food was good, but I didn't eat in any of the standard dining rooms. I typically started at the breakfast buffet, which had a nice selection of healthy choices daily. The hibachi restaurant was a great option for dinner - be sure to make reservations early to ensure you get a spot. There are only two tables/grills available for each seating. The food was well worth it! The ship arrived in Bermuda at the Naval Dockyard. Great spot for exploring, shopping and dining. If you miss the ferry ride back, you can always take the bus - it just takes a bit longer. Better than trying to rent a moped, as the roads are scarily narrow, the locals drive very fast, and those from the US will be challenged to get acclimated to driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. Better to let the bus driver manage that! Back on the ship the entertainment was top notch, as was the service. I had the best room steward ever, Marcel. Each day he greeted me with a smile and would check in frequently to make sure I had everything I needed. Truly outstanding! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Both my room and the food were overall pretty gross. There were splatter marks on the walls both in the cabin and bathroom. Mold/dirt built up in glass door sliders in bathroom. Food residue stains in carpet where it wasn't cleaned ... Read More
Both my room and the food were overall pretty gross. There were splatter marks on the walls both in the cabin and bathroom. Mold/dirt built up in glass door sliders in bathroom. Food residue stains in carpet where it wasn't cleaned very well. The grossest part was when I went to move the ottoman and it had grease all over the back of it. I didn't bother complaining because I heard the people in the cabin next to me already complaining, and I felt bad for the girl in charge of our cabin. The cabin clearly needed a deep cleaning, apart from the quick clean they get when they are occupied. The bed seemed clean, so I let it go. The bed was also incredibly uncomfortable. The mattress was really thin and hard. Twice I needed Tylenol in the morning because I was so sore from sleeping on it. I also was ill for the majority of the vacation. I had diarrhea within 24 hours of getting on the boat, and had it for the duration of my vacation. It basically ruined my vacation because some days I had to use the bathroom at least a dozen times a day and had stomach pains. I obviously can't prove that I was sick because of the boat, but I know I was completely fine before. Lastly, the food was really bad. REALLY bad. The buffet was a hit or miss. I avoided anything with mayo in it because I had bad potato salad the last time I was on the Dawn (though at least that only made me sick for one night, not a week). There were burgers every day, and they tasted like the frozen kind. Some of the things were tasty, like the quinoa salad, roasted chilled veggies, kung pao chicken, but alot of things looked like cafeteria type food. I remember seeing "boiled potatoes" as a side on the last day, just cut up potatoes still in the boil water, and thinking that they had really given up. Aqua and the Venetian were basically the same restaurant with the same menu that did not vary much from night to night. There really wasn't much love in the food. Most of it was ok, but nothing memorable. A few things were gross, like the paper thin, grey "ribeye", and the tasteless gnocchi dish. Also there was a problem with sand and dirt in the salad mix. Twice there was a considerable amount of sand in my salad in the dining room, like almost every bite. Once at the buffet there was a small clump of soil in the mixed greens on my plate. It's really no wonder I was ill. Anyway, we figured we would pay extra and try the other restaurants on the ship that charge a cover. Cagney's Steakhouse was absolutely delicious, so at least there's that. The ribeye was a a real steak, cooked to perfection. The baked potato soup was also delicious. The service was impeccable. At $30 a head, though, we could not afford this every night. We did manage to eat there twice, and it was the only food I enjoyed on the trip. We also tried La Cucina, which was $15 per head, but it was just as bad as the main dining rooms, maybe even worse. They were clearly short staffed. Our waiter never got to check on us after we got our food. I don't blame him because he was clearly overworked. We got the lobster fettucine and the chicken parm, and both were gross. The chicken parm was tasteless and mushy. The lobster fettucine was really fishy tasting, just disgusting. We just couldn't even eat them; total waste of money. The good parts of the trip were the staff and entertainment. I enjoyed all of the shows I went to. Tim Kaminski and the Second City were both very funny and entertaining, and the Bollywood show on the last night was absolutely stunning. I enjoyed the humor of the entertainment staff as well. The entire staff I encountered on the boat were very nice, polite, cheery, helpful, and went out of their way; really a great crew. I will be trying another cruise line instead in the future. I like that Norwegian cruises out of Boston, and they seem cheaper than other cruise lines, but really, they're not if you have to pay extra for edible food. Even decent coffee costs extra. There is tasteless coffee in the buffet, but decent coffee from the cafe costs $2-$4 at the cafe. Same for espresso. Free on carnival, $2.50 per shot on Norwegian. Carnival was less than $100 more per person, but the food was soooo much better. Carnival doesn't have a good rep anymore, either, so I think next time we will probably try Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
General Comments: This was our first cruise since becoming parents and we had our six month old daughter with us. We had breakfast and lunch at Cagneys and dinner at a specialty restaurant every night. We chose this cruise for ... Read More
General Comments: This was our first cruise since becoming parents and we had our six month old daughter with us. We had breakfast and lunch at Cagneys and dinner at a specialty restaurant every night. We chose this cruise for convenience and generally prefer cruises with less sea days and more destinations. This was also our first time in a suite on NCL. Baby Logistics: NCL would have provided a pack and play as a crib but we had our own with us. The staff were great with our baby always wanting to see (and touch) her. We had too much stuff to move it all by ourselves (pack and play, case of water, 3 bags, diaper bag, stroller, etc etc) but a porter was willing to come and load up our bags (they said they only do this for people with babies / elderly / disabled). We tipped him well and he recognized us at the end of the cruise and carried all our bags to our car for us. No problem eating at specialty restaurants with the baby, they always found a table for us with space for the stroller, and it was always near the entrance in case she got fussy and we had to get her out of there quick (so she didn't disturb other diners). No problem getting around the ship, we usually didn't wait too long for elevators, and we could squeeze past the room stewards carts in the corridors (this was with a 22.75 inch wide stroller, our regular stroller would have been too wide). On deck 7 you can go outside and walk around the ship, great way to get the baby to nap. Had to take the baby out of the stroller for security every time we got on the ship. The Bad: The humidity was too much for our daughter so we spent most of the at sea time in our room. Food at Cagneys was variable, coffee wasn't good (water not hot enough to brew the coffee properly), medium steak at dinner was dry and not seared enough, medium steak at breakfast on the other hand was perfect. We didn't see much of the butler, he brought a plate of snacks every night at 5pm, the only other time we saw him was as we were leaving on the last day - he got a smaller than planned tip. Our butler last year on MSC Fantasia was much better and in general MSC seemed to have a better suite offering than NCL. Our room was showing it's age - the coffee machine broke (had to call twice, the first time they just unplugged it and plugged it back in but it was still broken), the toilet wouldn't flush (with no foreign objects involved, this happened twice, both times they fixed it without entering our room), the curtain by the balcony was badly worn and missing a way to tie it back, half the curtain around the bed area was missing, there was a loose section of wood trim, the seat in the closet area fell apart (the seat was attached to the base loosely with two screws that were too small for the holes), and one part of the wood railing on the balcony had an inch of vertical movement if you leaned on it. When we got to our room for the first time it already had someones bags and valuables in it - apparently the butler had taken then to the wrong room where they dropped off their stuff and went to lunch. The Good: Check in and boarding was simple, drop off the bags, take the elevator up one floor, through security, pay corkage on our wine, escorted past the lines to the next checkin desk, then escorted to the vip waiting area where we met the concierge and were escorted directly to our suite. Our room steward was excellent, always said hi and wanted to see our daughter, made up our room the moment we left it and set the "make room up" flag. We gave him most of the tip we had planned to give to the butler as he was around more often and did more for us. The room was a good size and we loved the aft balcony looking out at the ship's wake. Most of the food in the specialty restaurants was excellent and service was prompt and accurate. The concierge was great, made all our dinner reservations at the times we wanted, always said hello when she saw us, made disembarkation simple. We didn't go to any shows (baby fell asleep at 7.30 every night) but we did get to enjoy piano music at Gatsby's most evenings. Massages at the spa were very good, and the spa/gym in general were high quality. Repeated upsell attempts at the spa were annoying. Bermuda was a nice island to visit, we stayed around the dockyard the first day (museum is interesting and good value, not impressed with the clock tower shops), the second day we had a taxi for six hours (driven by Dennis Hollis, really nice guy, $40/hr), and the third day we took the ferry to Hamilton to look around the shops and get lunch. Weather was perfect (except for the humidity), calm seas both ways and sunny every day, just a couple of passing showers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
A bit about me: I've become an avid cruiser, and this was my 19th cruise since I started in 2007. This was my 6th time on NCL. (And the title of this review refers to the very stressful time at work right before I took this trip!) ... Read More
A bit about me: I've become an avid cruiser, and this was my 19th cruise since I started in 2007. This was my 6th time on NCL. (And the title of this review refers to the very stressful time at work right before I took this trip!) DAY 1 -- BOSTON I arrived into Boston the night before the cruise and stayed at the Westin Waterfront, which is only a half-mile from the Cruiseport Boston terminal. It's a very nice hotel, adjacent to the convention center, although there's nothing else in the immediate area. I walked to the cruise terminal where I met up with Jake, my buddy for the cruise. Jake has Platinum status on NCL, and we were immediately directed to an available agent to check in. It was 11:15 am and embarkation had not yet begun, so we were assigned to boarding group #1 (due to the Platinum status). Boarding started about 30 minutes later. Cruiseport Boston was recently renovated and it's a pleasant place to start a vacation. Jake and I sailed the Dawn on an 11-night Caribbean cruise in January, so we were quite familiar with the ship. Although it's a bit older than the fancier ships of late, it was recently refurbished and it is very well maintained; plus it has all of the features you'd expect of a modern cruise ship. We headed to the very ornate Venetian dining room for lunch, which is the nicer of the two main dining areas. (The other one, Aqua, sadly has the bland decor of a Denny's with tile mosaics scattered along the walls.) It seemed that most passengers headed up to the Garden Cafe buffet for lunch, as the Venetian only had a handful of diners. The lunch menu had a wide range of options, from salads and sandwiches to hearty entrees. I had an appetizer of calamari followed by a NY strip steak. An announcement was made at 1 pm that the cabins were now available, an hour earlier than what was originally stated. We had an oceanview cabin (5630) with a picture window. (The cabins on Deck 4 have porthole windows.) Everything in the room was in order, and we had no issues throughout the week. Our friendly stateroom attendant Owen (who always greeted us by name!) kept everything in excellent condition. Since our bags were tagged with Platinum priority tags, they were delivered within the next hour, and we were completely unpacked before the 3:15 safety drill. It was a warm, sunny day in Boston, so our sail out was especially nice as we passed by Logan Airport and the harbor islands. Jake and I took advantage of a dining offer that NCL had recently introduced: pre-book reservations online for Cagney's, Le Bistro and La Cucina, and save $8 per person. In addition, we had a coupon printed off of NCL's Facebook page that offered a free bottle of wine in any specialty restaurant on the first night of your cruise. Tonight's dinner was in Le Bistro. I recalled the excellent meal I had here in January, and despite my understanding that I should try something new, I ended up ordering the same items: "Les Quatre Cornets" (salad-filled mini waffle cones), escargot and "Duo de Canard" (duck breast and duck confit). All were delicious! We went to the Star Bar for the nightly "GLBT Informal Gathering" and met several other passengers. Later we went to the Spinnaker Lounge, where the "celebrity DJ" was spinning. In January, the celebrity DJ was awful -- but this time, it was DJ Suga Ray, and not only did he spin a great set of music, he was also very friendly. DJ Keith, Dawn's resident DJ, was also back since we saw him in January, and he remembered us. Between the two of them, we knew we were in for some great music this week! Another familiar face was Liga who works in the Dawn's photo department. This was Jake's third time sailing with her, and my second. She was able to hang out with us several nights in Spinnaker. We also chatted with Paul Scally, the Cruise Director. This was my third time sailing with Paul Scally -- the first time was on my first NCL cruise on the Pearl, when Paul was the assistant CD; and the second time was on the Spirit. Something I really enjoy about NCL is the loyalty of its staff and crew, and being able to see them again on future cruises! DAY 2 -- AT SEA A nice, sunny day at sea. We had breakfast in the Venetian, which had an extensive breakfast menu. Then Jake hosted the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in the Star Bar, where the captain and the entire senior staff showed up and introduced themselves. (NCL staff always makes a strong showing at the Cruise Critic gatherings!) Afterwards we did a fun cabin crawl / poker game. The highlight was seeing one of the Owner's Suites, which was a sprawling 721-square-foot suite with a large living room, a dining alcove, a bedroom, a large bathroom, a dressing area and two balconies. (Sigh...some day...) Another highlight of the day was the martini tasting at Gatsby's, for which I joined a few other Cruise Critic passengers. I actually didn't know how much it cost when I sat down and handed over my key card. There were about 40 participants, and the event was hosted by one of the bar managers who described each of the five martinis. They were very sizeable portions, and by the end I was feeling quite happy! And when the bill came, I was pleasantly surprised: the tasting was only $15! Following an early dinner at Venetian, we saw the first full production show: Band on the Run. This is an energetic song and dance show featuring disco and classic rock music. The production cast included two male and two female singers, and unfortunately they were not very good. One male singer, a blond-haired young man with incredible abs, was clearly cast for his looks and not his singing ability. But the excellent dancers and the show band compensated for the singing -- in fact, the musicians sometimes drowned out the singers, which wasn't a bad thing at all... After the show, we went to the GLBT gathering in the Star Bar. About ten of us were sitting in a group near four other passengers who had obviously been drinking quite a bit. As we chatted, we kept noticing them staring at us and making somewhat loud, homophobic comments. One member of our group was a police officer who had earlier met the Dawn's head of security. He excused himself and contacted security -- in no time at all, two security officers were there and made their presence known to the drunk, rude passengers. They left shortly thereafter. It was a wonderful response from the Dawn's security team!! DAY 3 -- BERMUDA (1st Day) This day started earlier than anyone on board had expected -- an announcement came over the speakers through all passenger cabins at 5:00 in the morning: a teenager was missing and the staff was trying to locate him. A second announcement came about 15 minutes later. I had trouble falling back asleep as I was dreading the next step: making everyone muster so that the crew could do a head count and sweep the ship, in case the kid had jumped/fallen overboard. (Thankfully, that was not the case. We later heard that he was found in another passenger cabin.) Due to the restless night, I decided to sleep in instead of getting up to watch our arrival into Bermuda. When I woke up, we were already docked. We had lunch in the Venetian where we got to see Dewi, one of our favorite servers from the January cruise! (Also working today was another favorite server, Michael.) After lunch, we got off the ship and explored the Royal Naval Dockyard area. I had been to Hamilton once for only one day, so the rest of Bermuda was new to me. This area is a combination of historical sites and shopping; the dominating feature is the Bermuda Maritime Museum which exists within an old fort. Also here are several restaurants/bars, a glassblowing studio, a mall, several specialty shops and a large pharmacy with a lunch/coffee counter. You can also catch buses and ferries to other places in Bermuda; however, since today was Sunday and the next day was a public holiday, transit services were running on a limited schedule. Tonight's show was Duo Volgyi, two American aerial acrobats. While their routines were excellent, the overall show needed some polishing: my recommendation would be to scrap the video segments and instead take advantage of the live show band to entertain the audience during the costume changes. Late dinner at Moderno, a Brazilian-style steakhouse where they keep serving you meat until you flip a card from green to red. Everything served was tasty with the exception of the garlic beef (it was dry). We stuffed ourselves! But then we went to Spinnaker's and danced it all off. DAY 4 -- BERMUDA (2nd Day) We slept in after last night's revelry, then met up with Liga and took a taxi to Horseshoe Bay. (Because the buses were running on a limited holiday schedule, we decided to use taxis today. Cost was about $33 each way.) Horseshoe Bay has a long and wide arcing beach, with restrooms/services at one end. It was very pretty, but the surf was unusually rough due to a tropical storm located to our south. We found an alcove just east of the bay which provided some shelter from the pounding surf, and enjoyed the warm water and pink sands. After an early dinner in Venetian and the Signature Chocoholic Buffet in the Garden Cafe, we left the ship and checked out the Harbour Night festival which is held every Monday night in the summer. Vendors set up their tables by the harbor, and a stage hosts live entertainment from local groups and the performers from the docked ships. (RCCL's Enchantment of the Seas was also docked here tonight.) On most other cruises it's very unusual for a ship to be docked overnight, so it was nice to have opportunities to do shoreside activities at night and not have to worry about being back in time for a sailaway. Back on board, we saw Extreme Vegas, a high-energy illusionist and acrobatic show performed by a married duo: Justino and Daniela Zoppe. The show was fantastic, and the illusions kept you scratching your head wondering how they were done. And something you never see on a cruise ship: the final act involved fire! Real, actual, burning hot fire! We knew that many of the ship's crew go out on Monday nights to the nearby Snorkel Park beach club, so we met up with Liga and joined them. The crowd was fun and the music was loud -- a great time was had by all! I left the party a little early so that I could get some rest before tomorrow's adventure. DAY 5 -- BERMUDA (3rd Day) After a quick breakfast in the Garden Cafe, I took the nonstop ferry to St. George. After disembarking the ferry, I was passing by a man dressed in colonial attire when a woman pulled up in a car and asked him, "Are the ferries running today?" He replied (in perfect character), "Madam, fairies don't run -- they FLY!" Armed with a walking tour from a guidebook, I explored the town's sights: the recreation of the ship Deliverance, St. Peter's church, Somers Garden, etc. A highlight was seeing a daily re-enactment of the "dunking of the town gossip" -- amusing yet also somewhat disturbing. After returning to the ship, there was a lively scene on the pier with DJ Keith spinning and the activities and housekeeping staffs dancing as passengers returned. We left Bermuda at 5:30 for a lovely sail through the channel. After a nap, we went to the Star Bar to hang out with new friends, followed by a late dinner at the Venetian -- prime rib night, very tasty. I watched the very funny and entertaining Dancing with the Dawn Stars in Spinnaker, then went to sleep at 12:30 am -- the earliest time yet on this trip! DAY 6 -- AT SEA A very nice day at sea today. After breakfast, we watched the Q&A with Captain Paul, Chief Engineer Patrick and Hotel Director Les. (Les is retired from NCL after many years of service, but occasionally fills in for vacationing hotel directors.) I appreciated their enthusiasm during the Q&A, because I'm sure they're asked the same questions week after week. A very relaxing afternoon followed, and the only activity we participated in was the Latitudes appreciation reception in the Stardust Theater. While we sipped complimentary drinks, the future cruise consultant showed a short promo video about NCL's next ship, Breakaway, and gave out some raffle prizes. We stuffed ourselves for dinner at Cagney's, NCL's steakhouse restaurant. I started with crab cakes, forgetting that I didn't care for them on the last cruise because they had too much breading filler. But the delicious clam chowder, 16 oz. T-bone steak and espresso nut brownie with macadamia ice cream saved the meal! Tonight's main show was the "V" or variety show. In this show, the opening and closing numbers are pre-produced, but the singers and dancers decide on their own acts for the bulk of the show. While this setup should have highlighted the singers' talents, it seemed to exploit their weaknesses instead. The beautiful blond haired singer with the rock-hard abs continued to disappoint. The show was balanced out by good dancing and aerial acrobatics. Cruise Director Paul Scalley's origins are in stand-up comedy in London, and he did a late-night comedy show. I've been on 18 previous cruises and have heard a lot of cruise ship-based humor, but none of it compared to Paul's riotous observations and good-natured ribbing about ourselves at sea. The packed house loved every minute of it. And tonight was the White Hot Party in Spinnakers! It was the largest turnout I've seen for this party on an NCL ship. DJ Suga Ray kept the music going with selections that were well-suited for the younger, Boston-based crowd. DJ Keith took over at 1:30 am and the party was still going strong when I left an hour later. DAY 7 -- AT SEA Today was a recovery day from last night's revelry, and I slept in until noon. (Just as well, as the weather was cloudy with showers in the morning. The sun returned in the afternoon.) After I grabbed a bite at the Garden Cafe, I went to the International Crew Talent Show. The show featured several soloists and a few dance numbers. (It's sad when a member of the ship's kitchen staff is a far better singer than anyone on the production cast.) The show ended with Fountains, a comic routine that involves the cruise activities staff dressed in togas spitting water on each other... (It's actually very funny!) Tonight's dinner was in La Cucina, NCL's Italian restaurant. Coming from an Italian family, I am very picky about Italian food. (You'll never see me eating at an Olive Garden!) And I'm happy that La Cucina always exceeds my expectations for a cruise ship Italian restaurant -- in this case, focaccia bread served with olive oil, pasta e fagioli, tomato and fresh mozzarella salad, and seafood fettuccine were all very good. The final production show of the cruise was Bollywood, an Indian-culture-themed performance that consisted of a love triangle and a battle of good-vs-evil. I was a bit lukewarm about the show when I saw it in January, so I was very delighted to see that the entire show has been revamped since then! The new show cut out most of the singing (with this cast, thank goodness!) and relied on the strengths of the dancers and acrobats to keep the audience entertained. It was a very refreshing reinvention of the show! Following the show was the staff and crew farewell, which allowed all of us the opportunity to give a well-deserved standing ovation to them! We caught the "adults only" Second City improv show in Spinnaker, after passing on their show earlier during the cruise. (We did hear that they're still doing the same comedy sketches that they've been leaning on for years.) Improv comedy can be hit or miss, but on this night they did a pretty good job. Following this was the Quest adult game show, and I gotta say that it was the raunchiest one I've ever seen! I won't go into details, but no one was spared. In fact, after the show I overheard some passengers who had played talking about it, and one young gentleman joked, "I just did some things that I've never done before, and I want to go to the farthest corner of this ship and crawl into a fetal position." But for those of us who were not playing, it was very entertaining. Bravo. DISEMBARKATION DAY We had breakfast in the Venetian, which does a limited breakfast menu on the last morning. Then we collected our carry-on bags from the cabin (we had put out our checked bags in the hall the night before) and hung out in the Star Bar. Since Jake is local and I was staying in Boston for an extra day, we were in no rush to get off the ship. Once the last group was called to disembark, we made our way down to the atrium and said our last goodbyes to some of the fantastic staff and crew we met this week. A funny moment ensued when we entered the terminal and our two checked bags were sitting all by themselves, as we were among the last passengers to leave the ship! SUMMING IT UP In my review of the Dawn in January, I gave it five stars overall. While I really enjoyed the cruise and the experience this time around, I'm going to knock off a star only because I still see room for improvement. NCL has a great product, but there are some recurring weaknesses that I think they can address: There are still too many broadcasts over the PA system advertising revenue-generating activities. I know this revenue is important to the success of the company, but give your passengers some credit -- we know how to read the newsletter. Or find different ways to target your audience without annoying the entire ship with minutes-long commercials over the loudspeakers. Based on what I've heard from other NCL passengers, this is probably their #1 complaint. And #2 would be the main dining rooms. The cuisine could use some upgrades. While the specialty restaurants are very good (and of course revenue-generating), you should concentrate on encouraging/enticing your customers to eat there, instead of forcing them to eat there... A few smaller issues: Consider offering a separate beach towel (of better quality than the pool towel) to guests for going ashore. (Some other lines do this.) You still have those do-not-steal hangers in the closets. I hope you don't put these on Breakaway. We can be trusted with regular hangers. Can you add CNN to the television offerings? Getting all of my news from only Fox News and MSNBC for an entire week has made me a raving left- AND right-winger. I need some balance between the two ends of the political spectrum. But overall...thank you for another amazing vacation! As I've said before, your staff and crew are your strongest resources. Keep them happy, and they will keep us happy! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
My partner set out to sail on July 27th from Boston. Boarding the vessel was relaxed, fast and easy. After walking around for about 45 minutes, we decided to have lunch in the Venetian; one of many lunches and dinners there (more on this ... Read More
My partner set out to sail on July 27th from Boston. Boarding the vessel was relaxed, fast and easy. After walking around for about 45 minutes, we decided to have lunch in the Venetian; one of many lunches and dinners there (more on this later). At about 2 pm our stateroom was ready. We were in stateroom # 5118. Being that this stateroom was a connecting room, I was afraid that this could cause lots of noise but to my surprise, the room was quite quiet. We would sometimes hear a little "windy" noise which we believe to be the vacuum in the aqua dining room (located just above), this never woke us up or bothered us. The bathrooms are on the small side, but really you won't be spending the bulk of your time there. The room was clean, being a germ freak; I had brought a bit of cleaning towels (kills 99% germs) to do some extra "Cleaning" and besides from a little scrubbing this was pretty good for a "hotel"! The bed was very comfortable and the big picture window sure helped the room feel more "open"! The room was centrally located and made it so you couldn't really feel the movement of the ship. The television was good with 18 channels (10 promoting the boat). On the plus side lots of good TV shows when you just feel like doing nothing. Food on the boat was OK, nothing to write home about, but plenty of choice even for the most demanding of guests. We didn't have dinner in any of the paying (extra) restaurants but the Brazilian seems like a great hit (confirmed by friends we made on the boat). The buffet had different specialties every night and some safe bets. All in all plenty of choice, good food and variety, what could ask more? I did fall in love with one plate; the fruit plate offered by room service. I went through at least 2-3 per day. The fruits were just perfectly ripe and juicy. Presentation was nice and service was quick. Perfect for snacks in the morning, afternoon and evening (without the guilty feeling). Portion were on the smaller side in the dining room. If you're very hungry don't be shy and ask for seconds. Bermuda is so beautiful. We could just move there. Heritage wharf is convenient for walking around, catching a bus, taxi, ferry or mini-van. On our first day we meet Donna at the wharf and she drove us to Horseshoe Bay (yes at the bottom of the hill) for 6 dollars. A taxi ride is $28 to $35 dollars depending on traffic and time. Our second day was spent walking Hamilton (about 1 hr) took the bus to the crystal caves (27$ both caves) and then on to St George to visit the town and go to a nearby beach. We took the last ferry back at 6h30 to heritage wharf. Day 3 was spent visiting the museum and the small beach close to the royal navy dockyard. Very nice, clean and surprisingly not too crowded. Our return to Boston was much slower than our way down. I would have enjoyed an extra day in Bermuda rather than the 2 1/2 days at sea. But I do understand that the cruise line makes more money when it's at sea! Great vacation, great price and definitely recommended! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Overall I really enjoyed my first Cruise. I was in room 8566, which is an obstructed view room. It was a mostly unobstructed view, only obstructed by a large red thing. I would totally stay in this room again! I was very concerned about ... Read More
Overall I really enjoyed my first Cruise. I was in room 8566, which is an obstructed view room. It was a mostly unobstructed view, only obstructed by a large red thing. I would totally stay in this room again! I was very concerned about noise, but it was absolutely not a problem! Embarkation want a problem for us. We got to the port at 9, and gave our luggage over before 10 then went and saw Boston for a few hours.... painless :) Things I learned -- remember those tickets you get when booking! You very well might use them! Dont expect to do laundry on the ship, they charge an arm and a leg to do laundry. If you dont mind eating at 5:30 pm, you can get free wine with your dinner at any specialty restaurant towards the end of the cruise. Dont book anything at the spa until the end, you get a better deal. The lobster was only served at the free restaurant the first day. The two free restaurants have the same menu. NCL will only tell you about things in Bermuda that benefit them. I did not do a single NCL excursion. Instead, I found things through trip adviser and Cruise Critic. I was very happy with my own excursions and paid alot less. What made this cruise for me was the was Spa. To be more specific, the week long unlimited spa pass for $119. For $119 you get to use the indoor spa pool, jacuzzi, steam room, lounge area, sauna, or hot tub every day from open till close. We used it every day, which meant that I never had to set foot in the outside pool filled with high schoolers! I also got a massage on this trip and took a yoga class. Personally, I wish I would have stayed away from both. Its really annoying that you pay $100+ for a massage then they still try to sell you products (and IMHO, these products are worthless!!). The yoga class was AWFUL! I go to yoga 2-4 times per week, and love it. The guy who taught my class didn't have any type of certification and couldn't remember the names of the poses... this was a real let down. Also, he was doing more difficult poses that could seriously injure a person who is trying yoga for the first time. I might call NCL about this because it really concerns me. I think these are the only real pieces of advice I can give that might be different from others on this cruise. Over all enjoyed it, but would do some things differently next time :) Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Please excuse the lengthy review, but it is informative and has everything you need to know about the Dawn. Background: This was my eighth cruise, first on Norwegian. We have the Norwegian Gem booked for next February (we booked that ... Read More
Please excuse the lengthy review, but it is informative and has everything you need to know about the Dawn. Background: This was my eighth cruise, first on Norwegian. We have the Norwegian Gem booked for next February (we booked that before this.) We have been on 3 Royal Caribbean cruises, 2 Holland America cruises, one Carnival, and one MSC. Embarkation / First Day If you read my first review on the Explorer of the Seas from February, I mentioned how embarkation was a breeze at Cape Liberty. Embarkation in Boston happened to be even easier, minus the luggage drop-off. There were a limited amount of porters at the pier, and everyone had to wait in a 10-15 line to drop off their luggage. Once we dropped off our luggage, we went up an escalator to Check-in. There was no line for that and we were able to Check-in within 5 minutes. Next we took our embarkation photo and we were off. Getting off of the gangway led us onto the ship's exterior promenade, which was decorated with an arch of balloons and a party-esque feeling. There was music and crew members dancing. Yes, they made too big of a deal for it. The ship left the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal at around 4:50, later than the scheduled 4 p.m. There was an overwhelming amount of luggage that needed to get on to the ship, which delayed our departure. (we still managed to get to Heritage Wharf, Bermuda and hour and a half earlier than the scheduled 11 a.m. on Sunday.) Service Service on the Norwegian Dawn was impeccable. Each crew member that you would see would acknowledge you, saying 'hello' and 'how are you?' The wait staff in all restaurants was great, though slow in the Main Dining Rooms. The cruise director, Johnny Cash-Sanchez (yes, that is his real name) was not a very good one. He was hardly ever seen and he was hardly involved. The assistant cruise director, whose name was also Johnny, was a bit better. Cabin For this cruise, we had Cabin 11016, Mini Suite Category MX (Guarantee.) The cabin looked brand new. We loved the balcony and even the bathroom was bigger than normal. At the beginning of the cruise, a piece from our shower was missing and needed to be replaced. This took quite a bit of time to replace, and we couldn't shower at that time. Our lock also wouldn't unlock at the end of the cruise, that required help too. Entertainment Entertainment was very good on the ship. The best show came up on night 2, where the production crew performed its first of three shows during the cruise. It was called "Band on the Run," named after the Paul McCartney song. It was about the opening of a night club named 'Club BOTR' (Band On The Run.) It featured Classic 70's songs by artists such as Styx, Queen, and Donna Summer. The finale on night seven was a show by the production cast called "Bollywood," which was very odd and creepy. Activities The Norwegian Dawn did not have as many amenities as we had on other cruise ships. For example, there was no rock climbing wall (the ship was advertised to have one) or mini golf course. The shops were also poor. There was also no real 'observation decks,' like the helipads on most of Royal Caribbean's ships. Splash Academy Kid's Club / Entourage Teen Club The Kid's and Teen Centers were inconveniently located on deck 13, aft. They were only accessible from the aft elevators or going through a secret little entrance to the arcade and going in the arcade. My 7-year old daughter liked the Kid's club. She enjoyed it a lot, but my thirteen year old son didn't love it. It was hardly ever open and there were rarely any activities to do. Dining The dining could have also been better on the ship. La Cucina, the Italian restaurant had an Olive Garden-esque feel to it. The food tasted no better. Bamboo, the Asian fusion restaurant was terrible, with a limited food selection, poor food quality, and pretty lame service. Cagney's, the American-style steakhouse was excellent and was one of our favorite meals. Moderno Churasscaria, the Brazilian-style Steakhouse, was our favorite meal this cruise. The service was excellent, and the food was divine. teppanyaki, the Hibachi table set up in a room attached to Bamboo, happened to be a lot better than Bamboo. We love Hibachi, and doing it at sea is no different than going to a Benihana. The Venetian Restaurant is the more elegant of the two Main Dining Rooms on the ship (the other is called Aqua.) Food was adequate and it took over a half-hour for the APPETIZERS to arrive. The Garden Cafe was the ship's lido deck buffet. It was comparable to any other ship buffet, nothing special. The Blue Lagoon "restaurant" is a fast food restaurant, perfect for a quick bite or a midnight snack. It has light breakfast in the morning hours, and serves hamburgers, hot dogs, wings, etc. during the afternoon and night. It is open 24/7. Bermuda We docked at Heritage Wharf (adjacent to King's Wharf) at around 9:45 Monday morning, over an hour ahead of schedule. We actually departed Boston 50 minutes late Friday afternoon also. The island is very nice, and small. There is no poverty, either. Read my Bermuda ports review for more. Disembarkation Disembarkation was easier than normal in Boston. At the end of the gangway, there was a customs officer standing. He took your declarations form, no questioning, searching, or waiting in line needed. Normally, you have to get your luggage first and walk over to a separate section of the terminal to wait in long lines to go to an officer and go through that annoying process. We found our luggage right away, and had to haul it ourselves to the garage, a block and a half away from the terminal. Cruise ship parking was predominantly on the fourth floor, which was annoying. Overall The M/S Norwegian Dawn still looked brand new, after its month-long refurbishment in May 2011. Another down-side was the television. It had less than say, Royal Caribbean's channel listings. The cruise director could have been better. Kudos to Captain Paul Von Knorring for a job well done. Would I recommend it to a friend, maybe or maybe not. It was not our favorite, nor least favorite. Overall, we still had a great week on the M/S Norwegian Dawn. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Norwegian Dawn Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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