253 Norwegian Dawn Bermuda Cruise Reviews

Check in was very fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around 10:30, quickly found a place to unload the car and had a porter quickly take our luggage. We were showed where to check in and then escorted to the VIP waiting area (we ... Read More
Check in was very fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around 10:30, quickly found a place to unload the car and had a porter quickly take our luggage. We were showed where to check in and then escorted to the VIP waiting area (we were in a suite). There were comfortable chairs and tables to wait and there were snacks and drinks provided. Our concierge Anoop greeted us. I was able to also make a reservation for the Teppanyaki Rest. at that time. About 11:00 we were escorted on board, brought to our cabin and was able to drop off our carry ons. We then went to sign the kids up a Kids Crew then head down to the pool area to sign up for the soda program. It was about Noon by then so we went off to Cagney's for lunch: DD at a hamburger (didn't like was overcooked), DS had a NY strip steak( cooked perfect), DH had scallops (which were good), I had the french dip (onions too sweet, too much bread and not enough au jus to dip in). Head back to the pool area got the kids ice cream. About 1:30 head to see if our cabin was ready and it was. ROOM:Couple rips in the wall paper, one cabinet was off its hinge, but all in all the room was clean and nice size. Great balcony had two lounge chairs, I think it would have been better with maybe one lounge chair and 1 chair, but was still great to have the balcony. We meet our room steward, Moe and Butler Jose. We were warned by our TA 2 days before we set sail that there were no pull out couches in the Penthouse to sleep the 2 kids. Our room steward set-up 2 roll aways which we kept up all week, so we were not able to use the small couch to sit at our really the table to sit at. Kids didn't have any issue sleeping on them. Was a bit hard for my DH to get out of and in to bed because of them, but we managed. Our bed was comfortable. There was no DVD, which was part of the reason we moved up to a Suite, but our butler was able to find us one. After checking out our cabin we spent some time exploring the ship. We had a friend traveling with us so we went up to her suite 10726 which had a bigger balcony we watched us leave Boston from there. Kids loved the planes flying overhead. Dinner was in the Aqua Main Dining Room. Lobster was served the first night, but we didn't have it, we live in NE was we get Maine lobster, so it was no big deal. All the food was good. Our suitcases arrived in a few stages, my husbands coming in last around 7:00, which he wasn't too happy about, but got over it quickly. Brought the kids to kids crew around 8:00 and off to the casino. Picked the kids up from camp around 10:30 and they loved it. Day 2 Cagney's for Breakfast: Crab Eggs Benedict were great, DS had pancakes did not care for them, so they brought in a waffle which he did like. Kids did not like the OJ. After breakfast kids off to kids crew. Seas were very rough that day many people were getting seasick. My son and husband were among them, so they spent most of late morning-early afternoon in the cabin. Blue Lagoon for lunch food was good. I went to the culinary demonstrations which was fun. My family was feeling better so we headed to the Venetian for dinner, again food was good. DH thought portions were small. Went to the Pub to listen to karaoke. Cocktails in the Star Bar with the Captain (suite perk) Day 3 Got off the ship after lunch around 12:30 got our 2 day bus pass quickly and jumped on a Special Bus to Horseshoe Bay, was a bit crowded but was able to find space for the 5 of us to relax on the beach. Beach was great, waves were big and water was warm. We had a great day. Took the shuttle back up the hill to the bus stop $2/person and kids under 12 were free well worth it. Had dinner at the Teppanyaki Rest. was great. $25 cover/pp, but kids were 1/2 price. Great "show" and food was great. Saw the magic show at 7:30 the kids really enjoyed it. Day 4 (Bermuda) Breakfast delivered by our Butler. Off the ship around 8:30 and got the 9:00 ferry to Hamilton about 20 minutes. Walked about 5-10 minutes to the bus station jumped on the #11 bus about 1/2 hr and about 10 minutes walk to the caves. Kids enjoyed Crystal Caves. another 10 minute walk to The Swizzle Inn, had to have our Rum Swizzle and had lunch (expensive). Took a bus back to Hamilton and got a ferry back to the dockyard. Went to the Sea Glass Beach that has been mentioned on Cruise Critic, kids enjoyed looking for the glass, but was a bit of a pain getting back to the ship you are kind of in the middle of nowhere. back on board and off to the pool. They liked the kids pool 2.5 ft deep a couple of slides, but not a lot of space for adults to sit. Big pool salt water and crowded and deep. Kids did not enjoy this pool that much. Wanted to go to the Dockyard festival, but it was cancelled. Day 5 last day in Bermuda Late breakfast, headed into the clock tower mall and did a bit of shopping. Went to the Rum Cake and glass blowing (kids like the glass blowing). Kiddie pool. Snack on our balcony as we watched us leave Bermuda. Star Bar that night with a very entertaining bartender Bong. On the return trip to Boston, we still had relatively calm seas. Which was nice compared to our trip to Bermuda. Day 7 We dined at the new specialty restaurant, The Moderno Churrascaria. We did not enjoy the dinner very much, it was fun, but not for us. There is a very elaborate salad bar with lots of interesting choices (tuna and green beans and the soup were yummy). We tried one of each meat that was served for a total of 10 and they were all OK good (Chicken and rib were the best). You need to be very hungry for this restaurant. The service was fantastic. We thought all the crew members were wonderfully at some restaurants the wait staff was cutting my son (6) food which was a break for me. My son and daughter couldn't wait to get back to the cabin to see what towel animal Moe (our room steward) made. We had 13 in total. Our butler svs was not what I thought is was going to be. We barely saw Jose. He brought chocolates maybe 4 out of the 7 days. Maybe part of this was our fault for not asking form more things, but I guess we are not high maintenance people. Asked for MDR menus never got them. Suite Perks: Early embarkation in Boston FANTASTIC Robes Great idea Slippers didn't have any, but I guess we could have asked Dinner Reservations OK we could have easily done them ourselves Cocktail with the Captain and Offices was fun DVD wasn't one in the room had to have Butler find us one Disembarkation in Boston FANTASTIC Kids Crew: Perfect hours Didn't always follow what was in the program No Wii's like NCL had in their description of the place Arcade to load not a wide variety of games Kid Pool was great just need more adult seats Food: Overall everything was good, nothing outstanding, nothing inedible. never was hungry could always find something to eat Kids loved the Kids Cafe in the Garden Cafe FANTASTIC IDEA Ship: All in all was great. A little strange set up but got use to it. Restaurants: Aqua MDR Service was good food was good Venetian MDR Service was good food was good Garden Buffet: Great choices some repetitive food items Blue Lagoon: OK Service food was good Teppanyaki: Service excellent food excellent Modero: Service was good, food was not to our liking Cagney's Breakfast/Lunch (suite Perk) Food and service was great We all enjoyed the cruise. Would I do NCL again maybe, just a few disappointments that have me on the fence. Suite life again, yes mostly because of getting on and off the ship. Bermuda was wonderful this was my second visit would we go again maybe. Wish there were more place to go out of Boston. Loved the idea of no airport hassle. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I went on this cruise with 19 other people to celebrate the 50th birthdays of some of our friends. From the time we were dropped off at Black Falcon Terminal to sitting by the pool probably took an hour. Not too bad. I had been on this ... Read More
I went on this cruise with 19 other people to celebrate the 50th birthdays of some of our friends. From the time we were dropped off at Black Falcon Terminal to sitting by the pool probably took an hour. Not too bad. I had been on this cruise before about 15 years ago so I knew what to expect with the size of the ship and the movement in the ocean. This time the ocean was calmer so the swaying of the ship was minimal. It was my first time experiencing the free style cruise. We always made reservations for dinner and were seated right away. Unfortunately in the two main dining areas Venetian and Aqua it took way too long to finish the meal. We only went to each one of the restaurants once and both took over 3 hours from start to finish. I think that the wait staff is just totally confused about who is where. The music by the pool was great and we always found chairs together. It was great watching the Bruins win on the ship. The room was filled with Bruins' fans which made it all the more fun. Ages ranged from 18 - 80. Unfortunately for me, the Spinnaker started playing techno music around 11:30 for the young crowd. The place pretty much emptied out except for the 18 - 25 year old crowd and there was no place else to dance on the rest of the ship. One night we brought down our "boom box" to an empty bar area and had our own dance party.All in all I had a blast with all of my friends but I just don't think that NCL is up to par with Royal Caribbean. One more thing.. if you buy a drink out of the fancy cups remember that they add $2 onto your price for the cup. If you order another drink give them back the cup and they won't charge you the $2. Also if you buy beer by the bucket (6 beers for the price of 5) remember that the bucket is a rental. You may get charged $5 for the bucket. My sister in law got charge five different times but didn't know until the end when she seen her bill. Luckily she kept all of her receipts and told them that she brought all of the buckets back and they credited her card $25. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Depature from Black Flacon was the worst I have ever seen. Very crowded and confusing. Seemed in years past it was much better organized. However once on board everything was going smoothly. Lunch at the buffet, met up with old cruise ... Read More
Depature from Black Flacon was the worst I have ever seen. Very crowded and confusing. Seemed in years past it was much better organized. However once on board everything was going smoothly. Lunch at the buffet, met up with old cruise friends. Then off to the wonderful cruise critic party. Thanks to our gracious host and organizer for a well planned event. Sorry we didn't stay for the photo but it got way too crowded. We had the easiest muster ever no taking of cabin numbers. We ate most of our dinners in the Venetian which was far superior to the service we had had in Aqua. The room was very pretty and they had a piano player every night. I do have to say however that the best meal we had was in Le Bistro service was so great that the we all tipped an extra 25% for the wonderful service. The buffet was fine for breakfast, however lunch was disappointing as items did not vary much from day to day. It was much better last year. Enjoyed drinks at Cagneys bar not far from the casino most nights and had fun at the Pub. Of course, the Bruins winning it all was extra special. We cracked a bottle of champagne in honor of the event. Had no problem finding chairs at the pool each day, and for the first time in a long time didn't feel hounded for drinks by the staff. Went to all three production shows. I felt they were very good to outstanding. Didn't make it to second city--didn't enjoy them on the Spirit so we passed. We had a BA balcony on the ninth floor, very quiet. Our sliding door however was terrible to open and the people in the room next to us stated that it sounded like an "elephant in heat"every time we opened or closed the door. Mentioned it on day one to the room steward but never fixed. Beds were comfortable, closet tight and I found the room very small. Also, it wasn't very clean for just having come out of dry dock. The Dawn is a pretty ship but very disjointed. I always seemed to be in the wrong corridor or one deck up and had to come down or one deck down and had to go up. There were no places were you could just completely walk from one end to the other. Many of the toilets in the ladies room in the public area were shut down all week and out of order. This left to scrambling from deck to deck to find an empty stall. This is our third year doing the Bermuda run and I think it will be our last for a while. NCL needs to upgrade their inclusive dining room menu as all our favorites are now in the pay restaurants only. Rack of lamb, swordfish, escargot, filet, etc. Otherwise our trip was enjoyable, made especially so by hooking up with old friends and meeting new ones. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My biggest complaint with this cruise was the lack of cream/half-&-half for coffee every morning through the buffet lines. We had it the day we left, then nothing. I did get some in Blue Lagoon one morning, but only after stating my ... Read More
My biggest complaint with this cruise was the lack of cream/half-&-half for coffee every morning through the buffet lines. We had it the day we left, then nothing. I did get some in Blue Lagoon one morning, but only after stating my unhappiness with there being none. And there seemed to be creamers for room service coffee on the 2 mornings we ordered in. We were never given a valid reason for the lack of it (we were told by one server that it was being "saved" for the restaurants.) We were also told they would be restocking it in Bermuda but there wasn't any on the way back, either.Another complaint was no explanation or announcement was ever given for the nearly 2 1/2 hour delay leaving Boston. The Captain never gave a reason at all. A bar waiter told us there was a dispute with the union dock workers refusing to work overtime to put our luggage on-board. Another said jokingly that it wasn't dark enough. I thought that was poor judgement on the staff's part to not inform us.There were some other temporary "glitches" such as issues with water availability in some areas, (which prevented hand-washing in some public bathrooms) and elevator issues and we never did seem to get the hang of finding The Venetian without several attempts! The staff were always extremely helpful and courteous and friendly. We always sat near the pool in the shade and was taken very good card of by "our" waiter Jeffrey. While I would tip extra every now and again, he treated our group no differently with each request, and always referred to us by name!We had a mid-ship mini-suite with a balcony and our steward Allan was awesome! There was plenty of room for my husband and I but I don't think having a third (or fourth, as this cabin can hold) would be very comfortable. While there isn't much drawer space for clothes, I liked having storage space for our luggage under the bed and therefore completely out of the way. I have a bit of trouble with arthritis and would've preferred a shower instead of a tub but loved having a hand-held shower head!We enjoyed the Dawn's entertainment group, very talented dancers and singers and aerialists! The comedian, Dave Heenan, was pretty good but many of his jokes I have read online in past years. The Second City group was fabulous, really enjoyed them. The band that played at the pool during the day had the same sound/songs/beat to every single appearance and that got old very quickly.The food was decent but, as a friend who had just cruised the Dawn told me, the desserts left a little to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My husband and I just finished a great cruise to Bermuda on the Dawn. It was our 11th cruise but our first time on NCL. We were a little nervous trying NCL, but found it to be fine. It was a more relaxed, casual cruise, which was exactly ... Read More
My husband and I just finished a great cruise to Bermuda on the Dawn. It was our 11th cruise but our first time on NCL. We were a little nervous trying NCL, but found it to be fine. It was a more relaxed, casual cruise, which was exactly what we were looking for going to Bermuda. We flew into New York two days pre-cruise (all the week prior praying and keeping an eye on Hurricane Earl!). Everything went well, we had beautiful weather over the weekend. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Times Square. This was a very nice basic hotel with a great location. It was clean and had a decent breakfast. Our room was small but we were there to see the sights, so this did not matter to us. Bed was very comfortable. But it had an old style window unit air conditioner and it blew cold air on us all night. We had to leave it running as it otherwise would have been way too hot. Front desk personnel were very friendly and helpful. One problem was that the street in front of the hotel was blocked off on Sunday for street vendors. The front desk clerk warned us when we checked in that the street would be blocked off on Sunday and to leave before 9:00 am to avoid it but that was too early for us. So we didn't check out until 11:00 am and just rolled our luggage up to another street to try to get a taxi. The first taxi driver said he was waiting on someone (even though his light was on). Our impression was that the cab drivers did not want to take us to the Pier because it was just not far enough away, but it certainly was too far to walk with our luggage. A doorman from the Double Tree Hotel (just around the corner from Comfort Inn) took notice of us rolling suitcases and was incredibly helpful, he just pitched in with assistance and immediately got us a taxi. We were both so grateful! Embarkation: We arrived around 11:30 pm and things were very organized and quick. We were not past cruisers so went to the first timers line, which was actually shorter than the latitudes line. They gave us a number to be called when it was our turn to board, which happened quickly. We were onboard around noon. One thing different was the fact that we had to wait until 2:00 pm to get to our stateroom. We headed up to the Garden Cafe (their buffet) area for lunch and to wait. We were early so not a lot of people there and we found a seat easily (not so much the rest of the trip, the buffet was really busy during peak meal times, which is the case on all cruise lines we have been on). The lines were a little confusing as they had people tend to enter at both ends and converge at the middle. After an hour we decided to explore the ship and found it to be very well maintained and beautiful. The pool area does need some work, especially the wood trim which looked like it needed varnish. Windows really do need cleaning although at the end of the cruise we did see some making an attempt to clean them. We rarely felt the crowds except as mentioned in the buffet area and we did not eat there a lot. Stateroom: Fabulous! They announced we could go to our rooms at 2:00 pm and I have to tell you we were excited! We got lucky and had an aft-facing balcony for the first time. We LOVED it! We always have a tendency to hang out at the back of the ship anyway, so for us it was really wonderful. The only problem with this location was the fact that the spa was above us. They were banging around up there at all hours of the night for some reason. We went up to look during the first day and there were chairs above us. Every morning as well they woke us around 5:00 or 6:00 am. And then it was impossible for us to get back to sleep. The room itself was spacious enough, the closet space fine. We did not care for the shelves in the closet being low, it is hard to see what you place there, but we just put things we did not use much. Plenty of shelf and storage space, although the shelf in the bathroom does not hold enough. Bathroom layout was great! The shower was actually spacious! It was so nice to have shower doors and room. The shower was really the best feature (other than our balcony of course!). The idea of having the toilet separate from the sink and shower is a nice one but does not work well since the sliding doors are see thru! One problem though was the sink. Couldn't seem to find a gentle spot, so when turned on, it just sprayed hard. We were always wiping things down (water splashed everywhere). And the cabin water tasted horrible. The water in the restaurants was fine, so we would always bring back several glasses to our room (they did have a sign in front of the buffet water dispenser requesting guests not fill up water bottles). If you do drink the cabin water, ice helps. The beds were way too hard for us. I asked our steward for a foam topper and he did put one on the 2nd day. The sheets were so nice! Very crisp - I wish I could get mine at home that way! Our balcony was big enough to have a chair and a lounger but the lounger was ripped. I asked our steward to replace it. He took away the torn lounger and replaced it with another chair. Unfortunately we did not get the lounger back, I asked about it and was told it was being repaired. I asked again the 6th night because we had one final sea day and did finally get one. And was it nice to have my "reserved" chair on my own balcony! This was so cool! Ok, we have simple needs ?. Miscellaneous: It was our anniversary and my husband ordered roses to surprise me. They had them in our room when we entered and they were very beautiful. They looked really great all week! Good quality. Smoking Issue: We are non-smokers, so can be very sensitive to smoke. And NCL does allow people to smoke in public areas and in their rooms/balconies. We never had an issue in the public areas. People next to us smoked on their balconies but not often and we felt they were very polite about it. We did have a problem one evening, upon returning to our room we noticed it had a very heavy smoke smell in it. It must have come through ventilation system and fortunately it only occurred one night. Dining: We found the food to be fine. No, it would never be considered gourmet nor even .....great....but it was fine. I LOVED the pretzels rolls! I am a new convert, want to go back just for them. Even though the food did not change much, every day we could find something different from the day before. The desserts were just ok, the chocoholic buffet was nice. My husband has to eat gluten free and this cruise was the best experience in that regard for him. He had emailed the access desk at NCL, they provided him with a list of items he could request, and they did have them available. So very nice. We did eat at one pay restaurant for our 30th anniversary, Le Bistro. It was very good. But that said, we are not fans of paying extra to eat on a cruise so would not normally do so. People wore shorts the first night to the dining room but afterward everyone was dressed appropriately. It could be they did not know or did not have their luggage yet. Service: We found it to be excellent. Our steward was fine. The waiters/servers were great, although they were certainly overworked. Several evenings they were almost running. While we understand times are tough, it might be more advantageous to NCL to make sure they have enough staff to serve people. When your waiter/waitress is almost running, one does feel guilty even for asking for anything. Although they certainly took care of anything we asked. And everyone was very friendly. Even passing someone in the hallway they almost always smiled at one and said hello or good morning, etc. That was very nice and made one feel welcome. Kudos for that! Anil Nagril made sure that my husband had the correct meals since he has to eat gluten free. They were really very proactive about that. Entertainment: This is one area in which we found NCL to truly excel. We enjoyed all the shows except Second City. Bollywood, Band on the Run, juggler Barry John, the musicians, and especially Rosie and Mac of Fire and Ice were fantastic. I Loved Rosie! And Matt Baker, the cruise director, was fantastic. He was talented and very funny. We both loved his "Fountains" show. We laughed so much at this event that we can say it really made our evening. Bermuda: Yes, all they say is true, it is a beautiful place and the people friendly. Although we did see a couple locals go at each other, they seem to be pretty blunt. That was surprising. Everything was so very well organized. We took the ferry and bus which made it so easy to get to where we wanted to be. St Georges is very quaint and enjoyable, lot of history there, which we enjoyed. The Harbor Nights Festival in Hamilton was fun to try the local food and chat with the local vendors (and make purchases). We did not spend too much time in Dockyard area, a couple hours only as we ran out of time. But it was nice to walk around and next trip we hope to do the Maritime Museum. Disembarkation: This is where the problems were. We selected "red" luggage tags which scheduled us to disembark at 9:40 am (only 20 minutes from the last group to be let off). Our flight was in the late afternoon so we were not in a hurry. We did have a noon flight originally and our airline had moved it up 45 minutes. We felt the flight change would be too early, so called the airline and had them change us to a late afternoon flight (at no charge). This turned out to be such a blessing as people were not being let off the ship until late morning. We sat in the Garden Cafe and watched. There would be groups of maybe 20, then nothing, then 20 more, then nothing. It was announced that there was a lot more security in place because it was 9/12. And they had several ships to process. Which certainly makes sense and was something we had not thought of in advance. In the future, we will remember if we travel around these dates to allow extra time. We did get off the ship about 11:30 am. All in all, we had a really fabulous time. So many things on the Dawn we did enjoy. A few things not so much. So, it was basically like every other cruise, in that as soon as we got off the ship, we are saying to each other......Where is our next cruise going to be?? ? Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We have traveled on Royal Caribbean before and chose this cruise on NCL due to its itinerary. We also wanted to try out free style cruising. We booked through our travel agent. Before the cruise we were all speculating and worrying about ... Read More
We have traveled on Royal Caribbean before and chose this cruise on NCL due to its itinerary. We also wanted to try out free style cruising. We booked through our travel agent. Before the cruise we were all speculating and worrying about hurricane Danielle and Earl and were not sure if there would be any changes to the itinerary. Then someone on cc posted that the Dawn had blown an engine on the prior cruise to Bermuda, so amidst all that we set sail on August 29, on time. It was beautiful weather in NY and the captain announced that we will set sail but not sure where, till we get all the info regarding weather and waters. So we kept our fingers crossed for Bermuda. As soon as we were on the ship, we were greeted by the utter chaos of around 900 yelling, screaming, running kids wherever I looked. It seemed like an infestation of kids kids and kids. My first reaction was OH NO! It was crazy! Our room was on deck 10. It was an inside cabin, good enough for the two of us. Had just enough storage and fine enough bathroom space. Our room steward was wonderful and saw to our every comfort. No complaints about the room or its amenities. However, the kids in the rooms next to us made us miserable........thumping on the walls, yelling and screaming, running in the hallways like lunatics. If the kids are like this, I wonder how wild the parents must be! The buffet areas were the same...........yelling, crying kids everywhere. Not one quiet table where you can eat in peace. The buffet had good choice of items and a good variety of food. Plenty of food. The area however was very small and the lines were very long especially at meal times and with kids running around with drinks and plates in their hands, it was disaster. The staff was very hardworking and friendly. I must hand it to them to be kind and patient with so many children and parents growling at them to pick up plates or bring them any thing. I could barely walk through the area without stepping into dropped ice cream or juice or bumping into a kid with his plate full of fries! The dining rooms were a better choice to eat in. They had specials daily and the usual menu. Lunch in the dining room was not bad either. For breakfast we used the buffet since they had nice omelet stations and a variety of breads and fruits. There are several specialty restaurants with a cover charge. Other places to grab a bite are the Blue lagoon and the Bimini grill. Pool area was a disaster! Never had a chance to use the pool due to the crazy kids. Hot tubs with "adults only" signs were full of kids too........I think people need a thorough lesson in English before boarding. What part of "adults only" is hard to understand??? We purchased the weekly spa passes so that we can have a lounge chair and some peace. The thermal suite as they call it is nice. It is peaceful, has a heated pool, a hot tub a therapy tub and lounge chairs, sauna, steam rooms, lockers and other facilities. The gym is nice. It is an adult only facility, but several times I saw small kids having a bicycle race on the stationary bikes, with parents looking on and cheering and other customers waiting their turn to work out on the bikes. Ridiculous! NCL does not know how to enforce of the "adults only" policy. We thought we would be kid free in the restaurants, but NO. NCL had advertised that kids will eat free in specialty restaurants for that week. However, we were lucky enough to encounter none in Le Bistro or Salsa! The common areas on the ship were hangouts for most young teens and tweens. They lay sprawled on the floors preventing people from moving in the hallways. None of them understood the meaning of "excuse me please I need to pass by". It was a rowdy bunch! Several of them we saw smoking on the pool deck late at night. One of them was seen filling up a coke bottle with clear liquid from a bottle in a brown paper bag. It seemed that the parents had abandoned these kids to do whatever they pleased on the ship. Then there were the nice kids too. Very normal, going about their own business, enjoying their vacation and not being a menace or nuisance. Entertainment on the ship was great. The game shows were good, the comedian Dave Heenan was funny, the cruise director Matt Baker rocked! His staff was great. The entertainment on the last night, Bollywood was excellent! The Stardust Theater was a nice place, so was the Spinnaker Lounge where most of the game shows were held. The ship has quiet rooms up on deck 12, where one can go read or play cards or games. There is also a small library on deck 12 and a beautiful chapel for some serene moments. The internet cafe is on deck 9 and had a good number of computers to use. It looks down upon the java bar and the central atrium. The staff in the dining rooms and buffet is wonderful. Always ready to help and constantly working hard, preparing and cleaning. Most of them are from the Philippines and some from India. Very hard working people. I had no complaints about them at all. We had a cruise critics meet and greet on board on the first sea day. The captain and some crew members and the cruise director Matt, introduced themselves to our group. They had arranged for coffee, juice and pastries and we had a nice time meeting those we chatted with online before the cruise. We will most certainly cruise on NCL again, and I am sure there will be nice kids and nicer kids, but we will not choose school vacation time when we are inundated with too many kids to handle. Bermuda was great. We had excellent weather. We left two hours early because the captain wanted to keep us as far ahead of Hurricane Fiona as possible. Captain Sven was wonderful and very communicating. It was great to hear his voice over the PA system every morning briefing us on the storm and sea situations and other things. And, in his words, overall, we had a SMASHINGLY wonderful journey! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Had a wonderful time aboard the Norwegian Dawn. We drove to the pier and were parked($210) by 9:30 am. Easy check-in and were eating in the Venetian Dining room by 12:15! I bought one soda sticker for $50 and my family got good use of it ... Read More
Had a wonderful time aboard the Norwegian Dawn. We drove to the pier and were parked($210) by 9:30 am. Easy check-in and were eating in the Venetian Dining room by 12:15! I bought one soda sticker for $50 and my family got good use of it all week. The ship is beautiful with plenty of lounges, bars and quiet spaces. The entertainment was GREAT! The cruise director Matt Baker was fantastic!!!! He really helped make the cruise a fun time for all. Don't miss the comedian Dave, Second City, the newlywed game, and the quest game. Also, the pub crawl was fun. For only $25, you get 5 drinks at 5 different bars in 55 minutes with games, laughs and prizes along the way. I'm not a big drinker so I purchased only one and my family shared the drinks and the fun! They even give you coupons to use in the casino. So it almost pays for itself. My husband won $120 overall on slots and roulette. Everyday there are drink specials like 2-1 martinis and $4.95 margaritas, etc. The pool does get crowded so wake up early to get a lounge chair. The music and BBQ by the pool were both great. BINGO was OK. I played on other cruises where it was more entertaining so save your money.The food was good. We ate in the main (free) dining rooms and always found something we liked. The strip steak was always enjoyed by someone in our family everyday! If you can't decide, order two meals. Although it looked crowded outside the dining room, we never waited mote than 15 minutes and we were never rushed at the table. I like the idea of freestyle but still miss having the same waiter who gets to know you and your family. The Blue Lagoon was good for something different for lunch. As for Bermuda, the beaches are beautiful!!!!!! Horseshoe Bay remains a favorite but take the time to walk to the opposite side of the beach passed the rocks. There are smaller coves to relax on the beach and swim among the rocks. It really is paradise. Another nice beach is Warwick Longbay Beach similar to Horseshoe Bay but a much easier walk. The best time we had was at Somerset Bridge Watersports where we took the jetski tour......FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!!! Well worth the money. Fast speeds with time to swim and feed the fish at a ship wreck.....amazing!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This is my second cruise. The first was on a Disney ship last summer. I do have input from people who've sailed on every cruise line for comparison sake. The Ship: Good: Common areas are great..especially the Spinnaker Lounge and ... Read More
This is my second cruise. The first was on a Disney ship last summer. I do have input from people who've sailed on every cruise line for comparison sake. The Ship: Good: Common areas are great..especially the Spinnaker Lounge and the Venetian main dining room. I found myself at the Spinnaker more than one afternoon to get away from the herds at the pool to read and enjoy the panoramic view. The Venetian was a big beautiful room at the back of the ship with huge windows. This is what a dining room should look like The okay: the rooms overall were fine if a little beaten up..drawers very noisy opening and closing..but the bad... The carpet was FILTHY. We should not have been allowed to enter our stateroom without this carpet being at least steam cleaned in visible areas. It looked like there were old ketchup stains everywhere. Yuck. The main pool was overcrowded at sea, but great when we were docked in Bermuda. Likewise with the kids pool. At night the hot tubs were overflowing with teenagers trying to be sexy. I like that they have 2 different size water slides for the kids since my toddler isn't much of a swimmer yet, he still got to go down a slide in water he could easily stand up in. The Food: Dining room food was decent to good. Breakfast was ok but very repetitive. Buffet was hit or miss at lunch..some hot dishes were good, some okay, but crowds were an issue at peak times. Overall this buffet was better than Disney in size and variety, but Disney's dinner food was noticeably better. We booked a night at Le Bistro. I was not pleased to find out that the lobsters on the menu had an upcharge of $10 ..from the $20 we already shelled (no pun intended) out. This wasn't indicated anywhere on the menu outside, I only knew of it from my server telling me. Total nonsense, considering lobster tails were on the main menus at the dining rooms with no up-charge. I refused to pay $10 extra on top of the $20, so no lobster for me on this trip..which is enough to make me reconsider ever booking with NCL again. The food at Le Bistro was good but not as good as Disney's upscale restaurant Palo, which was well worth the $15 extra. The service was fine, if a bit slow and forgetful at times. This whole freestyle cruising thing is way overrated when it comes to dining. You'd rather wait 40 minutes for a table than have to show up at 6:30 for dinner? Strange. Since the Venetian holds 400 and the Aqua 100 or so people, and there are 2000+ on the ship, guess what that equates to with no set dining time, even if 500 people stay in the pool? It's not just about the lobster. The constant up-selling and hawking that goes on with this cruise line is just over the top. They really need to tone it down. You can't watch a show without being asked if you want a drink every 2 minutes..can I at least hear one of the comedian's punchlines? The cruise director is on the horn every 5 minutes about some $50 bingo tournament. Enough, NCL!! Speaking of the shows, they were okay, the comedian Dave Heenan had some good jokes and there were some good singers. Not up to snuff with Disney's near Broadway quality productions at sea, but from what I've heard no other cruise line matches that. The not so good: Sailing with other New Yorkers. Even if it's only 20% of the guests who are either Jersey Shore wannabes, snot nosed suburban teenagers, or overwhelming sense of entitlement yuppies, that 20% is enough to give the cruise a distinctively different feel from a cruise made up of a broader section of folks. Cruise lines really need to have some rules about kids 17 and under after certain hours. Why are 7 year olds having spring races down my hallway at 11PM? I've lived in NY all of my life, but I'd rather cruise with Midwesterners and Southerners any day, sorry. Cutting lines, loud mouths, pushy, loads of attitude, one guy in particular getting in the maitre' de's face because they wouldn't let him in wearing shorts a few days earlier.."but hey, I saw you let some kid in the last day of the cruise with shorts". Shut up jerk. It clearly states in every piece of info you get on this cruise that you can't wear shorts in the dining rooms after 5:30!!! CAN YOU READ? This isn't NCL's fault, but just a word of warning to people taking this cruise..prepare for some real jerks. Sailing down the Hudson from midtown, past the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano: awesome, a definite plus as opposed to embarking from, say, Port Canaveral? There is NOTHING there. Looking down the streets of Manhattan from the top deck of the Dawn was an enjoyable experience. Bermuda was lovely and you can't beat the price of cruising there..take a look at how expensive hotels in Bermuda are...ouch. So overall, I'll be trying another cruise line on my next trip..from reviews I see here Carnival is a better experience for similar prices to NCL. I'll have to get back to you on that. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
As first time cruisers we were a little apprehensive since my husband gets motion sickness and I can get a little claustrophobic. We were very pleasantly surprised that neither of us experienced these while on our cruise. While there were ... Read More
As first time cruisers we were a little apprehensive since my husband gets motion sickness and I can get a little claustrophobic. We were very pleasantly surprised that neither of us experienced these while on our cruise. While there were an overabundance of children on the ship (we are empty nesters) it did not pose a problem except at the pool area (more about that later) Good stateroom (balcony room) on the 10th floor aft. Aft was wonderful, very quiet and away from all the hubbub, but close to the Garden Cafe, the Spa and Fitness Center. We spent a good deal of time relaxing on the balcony in our stateroom. We purchased a spa pass ($150 for both of us). A little pricey and we were not thrilled about the extra costs on this cruise, but the spa pass was well worth it. Shallow indoor pool, 2 hot tubs, sauna and steam room (in the locker rooms). Plus comfortable lounges chairs looking out a huge window in the back of the boat. It was never too crowded, was very relaxing and saved us from the overcrowded, noisy, kid-filled pool area. The entertainment was good. A great dance troupe performed several times, a decent comedian and an ok magician. The food in the specialty restaurants was good - not fabulous and like others, we resent paying a cover charge and then some in these restaurants especially when the food is not outstanding, but then again, we admittedly are food snobs. The Venetian and Aqua serve the same menu. The Venetian is a much nicer restaurant. Service at all restaurants was good and very friendly. The Garden Cafe was awful. There are many choices for breakfast lunch and dinner, but tasteless food. They do not use real eggs for omelets or scrambled eggs and if you request fried eggs, they cook then in an inch of oil. Yuck. Waffles, pancakes, French toast looked great but had no taste. We ordered room service for breakfast several days. Lunch was the best meal here with a wide variety of sandwiches, hotdogs, burgers, and hot food. Good soups. Strangely, they offered bottle salad dressings (Kraft) which I never use. The best thing about the Garden Cafe is that you can pick up a quick snack since it's always open. Drinks available (no charge) are iced tea, hot teas, coffee and water. They use very small glasses, though so you're always re-filling. We did not opt for a soda or alcohol package and stuck with the free stuff. That's another nickel & dime thing they do that is very annoying. Sodas should be free. We enjoyed the freestyle cruising as neither one of us wants to get dressed up for dinner every night. We also liked that we could eat when we wanted and where we wanted. We made reservations at the specialty restaurants while on the pier before embarkation. I recommend that you do this as it insures a table with no wait. The pool was ridiculously small. People were so crowded in there all they could do was stand. Hot tubs, the same. Also, so many kids in both, resulting in "pee" pools. It was gross. Also, the pool area was dirty and there was some construction going on that was roped off with police tape. Very unattractive. There is no shade to speak of on the decks with lounge chairs, no umbrellas or overhangs. If you can't take the sun, it's a problem. Another reason for a spa pass Some helpful tips: Bring a small power strip as there is only one outlet in the staterooms. We were able to charge our phones, camera etc, but would have had an issue if we had not brought it. Use the stairs, not the elevators. Easy staircases and the elevators were slow and always crowded. Get the spa pass - especially if you want a relaxing place away from the noise. Rooms are 2 twin beds, or 2 twins pushed together to make an almost king. Ask your steward for a foam topper. This makes it much more comfortable and you can't feel the divide between the beds. We also asked for feather pillows which they delivered right away. We tipped our stewards up front ($20) and again at the end ($40). They were wonderful. If you drink wine, bring it. They do not want you to do this and so give no instructions. They charge a $15 per bottle corkage fee, but this still saves you a ton of money since wine by the glass goes for $8-$12 per glass! And it's not superb wine, either! If you do bring wine, you will not get your luggage delivered to your door. We had to go to a special room to claim our luggage (which had 2 bottles of wine in it) and pay the corkage fee. Annoying, yes, but saved us a lot of money. All in all, it was a good value in spite of extra hidden costs. It cost us about the same as a 7 night stay at an all inclusive (even with the extras). Be careful though, I saw people racking up bill of $2,000 and $3,000 mostly due to drinks. Bermuda was nice, but we had rain for all 3 days, a little disappointing since their beaches are exquisite. We'd go again on this line, but not in the summer. We'd prefer fewer kids on board. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
EMBARKATION: This actually went quite smoothly. We did not encounter any problems or delays. The one minor issue we had was that my cousin's credit cards wouldn't work for some reason. He tried 3 different cards and the machine ... Read More
EMBARKATION: This actually went quite smoothly. We did not encounter any problems or delays. The one minor issue we had was that my cousin's credit cards wouldn't work for some reason. He tried 3 different cards and the machine wouldn't read any of them. Fortunately, he wasn't traveling alone so my mother, his cabin mate, used her card for check-in. I'm not sure what he would have done otherwise. We boarded about noon and they had announced that cabins wouldn't be available until 2:00 so we had lunch at the Garden Cafe buffet and saw a little of the ship before heading to our cabins (9070, 9072, 9076). STATEROOMS: The first thing we noticed was how tiny the room was. This cabin was 166 sq. ft. plus the balcony. The bed and sofa were on top of each other. When the sofa bed was open, you had to get in and out of it and the bed from the end - no access to the sides. That was a bit annoying. When the sofa bed was open, which was most of the time, you also couldn't get to the balcony door. You had to climb on the bed to get out. Fortunately, we had an adjoining room with other members of our party so we usually went through their room to get onto the balcony. Speaking of the balcony, shortly after boarding, I called the desk to have the adjoining cabin doors unlocked and the adjoining balcony doors unlocked. I also reported that we were short one life jacket. We had 2 adult and 1 child jackets but we needed 3 adults. In the same call, I told them that the beds in 9072 needed to be separated. The cabin doors got opened. The balcony door didn't until the next day and the beds didn't get separated until the next day. The correct size life jacket was never taken care of which is a major problem in my opinion. Doesn't say much for their safety priorities. The 2nd day, we asked to have the other adjoining balcony door opened, between 9072 and 9076. They came up and the guy couldn't get it open. He said maintenance would have to do it, but the next day it still hadn't been done. We called again and they came up and opened the wrong door (9076-9078). We called yet again and they finally closed that one and opened the correct one. One problem with opening the balcony doors is that the door swings open to the fore end of the ship which blocked the opening of our sliding door, which was already blocked by the sofa bed. That made using the balcony quite a challenge. The bathroom is quite small, especially the toilet compartment. I'm a thin guy and I had trouble maneuvering in there. I can't imagine how an obese person weighing 250 or 300 pounds could possibly manage. There was very good storage space in the bathroom - a shelf over the sink, the counter around the sink and a shelf under the sink. That was very nice. Plus a wire shelf in the shower. My family doesn't travel light in the toiletries department and we had plenty of space for our stuff. There is a minibar and the prices were actually not that bad. For example, a can of soda was $1.95 on the ship and $2.25 from the minibar. One problem was that we didn't have a price list in our minibar. I got the prices from the next room. Another problem was that they never replaced items used from the minibar. We drank the diet Pepsi from our room one night and took the one from the next room the next night. They billed us for them so they knew they were missing but neither one ever got replaced. The room was clean with one exception. The shelf over the TV was covered with dust. I just read another review written by someone else on the same cruise who was on a different deck and they said the same thing. Sounds like housekeeping needs to add that to their checklist because it isn't getting done. ENTERTAINMENT: Very good. We saw the magician, the Second City troupe (a couple of times) and the Band on the Run 70s show. All were a lot of fun and well worth seeing. Bingo was pricey to play but the prizes were good. I think the smallest jackpot at the start of the trip was over $200 and by the last day, the jackpots were over $700. What we found annoying was them stopping in the middle of bingo to sell other things, like having a one-item art auction to promote the art auctions more. I didn't come and pay $30 to play bingo to have you try and sell me art. If I wanted art, I'd go to the art auction. We attended several activities in the Spinnaker Lounge - game shows, trivia, Second City's improv show - and they were mostly a lot of fun. The Sing it if you know it game was kind of lame and that was the only activity we walked out of. My wife and I are both frequent casino goers in PA and Atlantic City. On the ship, my wife couldn't even step into the casino because the smoke was horrendous. I went in and checked out the games and found the odds to be horrible. Full pay jacks or better video poker, for those familiar with the game, pays 9/6. Onboard, it paid 6/5. Anyone playing that was truly a sucker. The electronic blackjack, I game I enjoy in PA, was a single deck game paying 6:5 for blackjack rather than 3:2. I played that for a while anyway despite the odds. I didn't bother with any live table games. Between the smoke and lousy odds, I saved a lot of money. FOOD AND BEVERAGE: This was one of two areas (service being the other) where this cruise failed to meet our expectations. The Garden Cafe buffet was okay but nothing special. I thought breakfast was actually pretty good. Lunch and dinner were okay but changed very little from day to day (same for breakfast). One thing that really annoyed my daughter was that there was a special kids buffet but they didn't let anyone else eat there. My daughter is 14, so it isn't like she's an adult, but they chased her away from there more than once. And one day, the kids buffet was closed and they had the kids selections in the regular buffet line but would only allow kids to take that stuff. Considering that one of the items was french fries, it was pretty strange to have them telling all of the other guests that they couldn't have any. One complaint about the buffet, and the ship in general, was the ice cream. On prior cruises, there was always at least one self-serve soft serve machine and it was open 24/7. On Dawn, there was one machine and it wasn't always open. It wasn't open at night after 9 or 10. And sometimes, it was manned by a crew member who served it for you, and they weren't very generous. There is also Sprinkles ice cream bar out by the pool. They give you a tiny serving, more like a melon baller than an ice cream scoop. Very stingy. Another buffet service issue is that on each table was a wire basket that held salt and pepper, mustard and ketchup and rolled up napkins with silverware. The staff came around regularly to refill the silverware but was not at all polite about it. Numerous times, they reached right over us to get to the basket, never saying excuse me, never walking around to the side of the table closer to the basket - just reaching across the whole table. We only dined at one specialty restaurant, Le Bistro, on Monday night. It was $20 per person extra. We did it for our anniversary. Even though they knew it was our anniversary, they chose to seat us at the table opposite the kitchen door - not very romantic especially since the place was nearly empty when we entered. The restaurant is very pretty, the food was tasty and nicely presented and the service was great, but neither of us felt that it was worth the extra $40. It wasn't anything above and beyond what the normal meals should be on a cruise. Main dining rooms - We had mixed experiences here. The first night, we ate in the Venetian, the bigger of the 2 MDRs. We had no wait to be seated. I thought our waiter was okay though not overly friendly. My wife, who was seated at the other end of the table (there were 6 of us) thought he was quite inattentive. She ordered a steak medium. It came well done. She sent it back and he replaced it pretty quickly. Knowing she had a problem, the waiter never came back to check on her and make sure the second one was to her liking. Also, her baked potato was hard and underdone. That night, I had the french onion soup which was delicious and the grilled salmon which was good though just slightly dry. The tiramisu was very good. Tuesday night we tried to go to Venetian again only to encounter a mob of people outside the restaurant. The hostess told me there would be a 45 minute wait. There was no way we were doing that, so we went to the buffet instead. That experience was a huge strike against the whole freestyle deal. Nobody should ever have to wait 45 minutes to be seated in the MDR. I read online, though, that that might have been the night lobster was being served in the MDR which can result in a big crowd. Later in the week, the MDRs were much better. We had breakfast there one day and it was excellent in every respect of food and service. We were sorry that we hadn't done breakfast there earlier in the week on the sea days at least. We had lunch at Aqua on Saturday and it was nice. The one complaint was that even though the place was only about 10% filled, they seated us at the table right by the kitchen door where it was noisy and servers constantly zipping by. We picked up and moved a few tables down since the place was nearly empty and we were fine. Our waitress was very good - actually had a sense of humor and joked around with us - the first time that had happened the whole trip. Food was just fine. No complaints. Dinner at Venetian Saturday night was also very nice. We were seated almost immediately at a nice table near the back windows. Server was very attentive and took care of a couple of special requests with no problem and got her fellow servers together to sing happy birthday to my mom (we were cruising to celebrate her 80th). I don't know where that level of service was on the first 3 days of the cruise. Blue Lagoon is another included place on deck 7 and open 24/7 (the only place that is). Burgers, sandwiches, soup, salad, etc. Service was spotty. The 6 of us all ordered together. Five of us got served fairly close together. My cousin's sandwich hadn't come so he asked a server who just said, "It can take some time" and walked off. Sorry, that isn't an acceptable response to a guest. "I'm sorry for the delay. Let me go check on that for you" is what he should have said. Soup was way too salty. Fries were not hot but the place is okay for a quick bite or a late night snack. Also, we asked our waitress for water and a couple of iced teas. She seemed to acknowledge us but never brought them. Turns out the drinks are self-serve but nobody bothered to tell us that. Kind of odd to have a sit-down, table service restaurant but have to get up and get your own drinks. We also ate at the Bimini Bar on Deck 13 overlooking the pool. Burgers, hot dogs and fries. What is nice is they offer beef, turkey and veggie burgers. In fact, I must say that all of the restaurants are mindful of the vegetarians. My daughter, who is a vegetarian, never had a problem finding what to eat. I am not a vegetarian, though I lean that way, and I chose the veggie options several times and they were always quite good. BERMUDA: LOVED IT! This was our first visit and we will absolutely go back. We had a whole list of things we wanted to see and do and only got to a handful of them. We spent Wednesday in Hamilton, Thursday in St. Georges and Friday in the Dockyard area. Definitely get a transportation pass. I guess I should post a separate review of the port features. GENERAL THOUGHTS: This was a fun cruise. We had a good time. The ship is very nice. Food in the included restaurants could have been a bit better, especially the buffet. Service overall throughout the ship was kind of spotty. Many crew members always had a smile and a "hello" as you passed, but a great many more did not. There were numerous times that crew members essentially ignored guests, us and others. For example, walking in various places, crew members would often cut people off or cross in front of then, rather than giving the guest the right of way. We thought that was kind of rude and I heard others making similar comments. There seemed to be an awful lot of selling going on no matter where you went onboard. Whether you were in the buffet, around the pool, in the lobby or participating in an activity, they were trying to sell you something. It got annoying. I think they need to tone it down a bit. We would have liked to have tried more of the specialty restaurants but didn't due to the added cost. I wish they would make it all inclusive like it is at a land resort like Sandals (where we've gone a few times). Even if it means charging a little more for the cruise, psychologically it would be different because you wouldn't be shelling out extra for each meal. It would already be paid for. In conclusion, I think a first-time cruiser would be very satisfied with NCL Dawn. An experienced cruiser, who is naturally going to compare it to prior experiences, may be a bit less satisfied because I don't think it measures up, at least not to the 3 previous cruises we've taken. We enjoyed it but expected a little better than what we got. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Background. I am 35. This was my fourth cruise to Bermuda (twice on Celebrity Horizon and once on HAL Veendam) and my third cruise on the Dawn. I was sailing with a friend who is 34 and had been on the Dawn once before. Embarkation. We ... Read More
Background. I am 35. This was my fourth cruise to Bermuda (twice on Celebrity Horizon and once on HAL Veendam) and my third cruise on the Dawn. I was sailing with a friend who is 34 and had been on the Dawn once before. Embarkation. We arrived at the pier around noon, and were directed to the line for Dawn passengers, which was quite long. After a minute or two, we were directed to another very short line for suite passengers. Within 20 minutes of arriving at the pier, we were being led onto the ship to Cagney's, after receiving individual attention from at least five different staff members at the terminal. A good start, to say the least. Ship. I thought the Dawn looked as great as she did seven years ago when I first sailed. Kudos to NCL! Cabin. We had an AC penthouse suite. The bed and pillows were so comfortable I slept the sleep of the dead each night. There was lots of drawers and hanging space in the closet. There was a capsule-system espresso machine, which we used often. As for cabin decor, the wacky patterns and bold colors could trigger seizures so hopefully NCL will tone that down in a refurbishment. Our cabin had a large forward balcony, with two cushioned lounge chairs and an end table. Since we were only sailing at 11 knots to Bermuda, we were able to use the balcony with no problems. On the way back, when the ship was traveling at 18 knots, you could sit outside and enjoy the warm breeze but it was too windy to eat or drink out on the balcony. Dining. Each morning we ate breakfast at Cagney's, which was a very relaxing and pleasant way to start the day. I usually love the Garden Cafe buffet for breakfast, since I go early enough to avoid the madness. So, for me, being able to eat at Cagney's for breakfast wasn't special, since the pancakes, waffles and other items I usually eat for breakfast are the same as what is served in the Garden Cafe. Nonetheless, it was nice having the same servers for the week. I loved Cagney's for lunch, however. Cagney's was a definite upgrade over the Garden Cafe, which can be a zoo around lunchtime. The food offerings were better too. The kosher chicken and polenta dish is excellent. Cagney's was closed for lunch on Saturday. Suite guests were invited to the Jazz Brunch in Venetian instead. This was a highlight of the cruise. The food was great and the live music and atmosphere were...just, happy. We ate at Aqua and Venetian twice, Salsa's and Impressions once, and grabbed a light dinner at Garden Cafe once. We never had to wait for a table for two at either MDR, even though we went at peak times. The food and service were okay in the MDR and the speciality restaurants we tried. I love that they added panini and crepe stations since my last Dawn cruise five years ago. The crepes were delicious. And both times I ordered one, I noticed other crew members waiting in line for one too. Entertainment. I absolutely loved the JAR production shows. This was my third time watching Bollywood and South Beach Rave and I am still impressed by the versatility and talent of the JAR cast. I also noticed that NCL has added a few new songs to both shows, and has changed dance sequences to suit the strengths of the current performers, so the shows didn't seem stale to me. Band on the Run is a nice addition. I also enjoyed the shows put on by Greg Gleason, the magician. I went to school in Chicago, and love Second City, but must say I thought the Second City show was only okay. I don't think the cast was that great plus the audience really didn't give them much too work with. Some of the audience suggestions were painful to hear. It was like that segment on the Tonight Show when Jay asks people on the street questions a fourth grader would know. Dave Heenan, the comedian, was very popular. You'd see him frequently around the ship, talking to passengers or attending the shows. I personally didn't like his act, or that of any of the very talented (and also very popular) cabaret singers, but I think it goes to show that NCL has something for everyone. I will miss the Dawn when she leaves NY for Boston, primarily because of the JAR shows and overall entertainment. I didn't think the production shows on the Gem were anywhere as good, so hopefully they are better on the Jewel. Cruise director. I didn't think I would like Matt Baker on day one. He has a shtick that he uses that I was sure would grate by day seven. I was wrong, primarily because Matt didn't rely on just the shtick and revealed some surprising talents that I'm not sure where or how a Welsh boy would pick up. I don't want to spoil the surprises for anyone else, but I will say I was impressed by the surprisingly touching rendition of "What a Wonderful World" that he played on the harmonica for Saturday's Jazz Brunch. I usually find CDs annoying, and consider a good CD to be one that tells you what you need to know, introduces the entertainment and avoids trying to entertain you him-or-herself. But NCL's Colin Kerr (the cruise director on my last Dawn cruise) and Matt Baker are two CDs that really enhance the cruise experience IMO. Spa. We purchased a spa pass and spent most afternoons in the spa. After a day in the Bermuda sun, we always looked forward to cooling off in the indoor pool and then relaxing for a bit on the lounge chairs that looked out to sea. While we were in port, the spa was usually empty. However, on sea days, while not too crowded, the spa was usually too noisy since most people disregarded the "quiet zone" sign in the middle of the spa. The Dawn does not have heated tile loungers, which I loved on the Gem, but I loved that it actually has a relatively large indoor pool unlike the Gem. Gym. We usually went to the gym around four. It was busy but we always found a free machine. They had headphones for passenger use and cold towels, which were nice touches. Ship security. I was traveling with a friend who liked to close the casino at night. The morning of the second sea day he described to me a "disturbing" altercation between two drunk passengers the night before. The entire altercation took place over ten minutes as two guys and one of the guy's girlfriend yelled at each other, backed away, exchanged blows, backed away, more words, and then one guy pummeled the other for a bit, and a chair was thrown. When he mentioned the thrown chair, I assumed that that was what he was referring to as being disturbing, and said so. My friend said that wasn't the disturbing part. What disturbed him the most was the response by security. Security was called immediately and within two minutes, two security guards arrive. Correctly assessing the situation, they call for backup and two guards arrive shortly. So far so good, right? What bothered him was that these four (small) guys only tried to stop the fight by politely imploring these drunken thugs: "gentlemen, please calm down". And afterwards, while they did ask the two to leave, the men ignored them and continued to gamble and drink. The two men were tall and burly. The four security guards were short and skinny. I understand their reluctance to intervene because of legitimate concerns for their own personal safety but the safety of all passengers requires a more definitive response. I twisted my friend's arm to report this. We went to the front desk and asked to speak to the hotel director. The receptionist asked us to explain the situation and I got the distinct impression that she didn't understand why we (two people who were neither involved in, or harmed by, the fight) were upset about the situation. Until the end, when she summarized our complaint back to us and incorrectly noted that the two men were escorted out of the casino by security. At which point, we said "No, they were not. They remained in the casino, with the other passengers. And this is what we are upset about". She understood then. We told her that all we wanted was an acknowledgment from the hotel director that our complaint had been heard. Three days later, our concierge, Anoop, told us that the hotel director had heard our complaint and that the two men had been put off the ship. (The funny thing about that was that we saw one of them the first day in Bermuda at the beach, so I don't think they were even thrown off the ship right away since I'd imagine that they would have had to take their belongings off the ship and find a hotel first, which would make getting to the beach by 11 kind of hard.) I hope for the safety of future Dawn passengers that either more security officers or, better yet, larger security officers are hired because having to handle drunken burly passengers seems like something that a ship sailing out of NYC or Boston in the summer would have to do often, so I see no reason why the Dawn should ever be "ill-equipped" to handle this kind of situation. King's Wharf, Royal Navy Dockyard, Bermuda. This was my first cruise to Bermuda where we docked at Kings Wharf. I prefer Hamilton but I really liked Kings Wharf too. It was a nice change of pace. I thought Snorkel Park at night had such a cool vibe plus there are some other bars open too. The buses and ferries were close-by and very convenient. On Wednesday, we went to Horseshoe Bay in the morning and then took the bus to Hamilton for lunch at the Picked Onion, Internet access at the public library, sightseeing, and afternoon tea at the Fairmont. At Horseshoe Bay, we walked all the way down to one of the secluded coves, but the main beach area wasn't that crowded as we were leaving. On Thursday, we took the morning ferry to St Georges and headed to the Perfumery and Tobacco Bay in the morning. It was my first visit to Tobacco Bay, so I'm glad to finally have seen it. But since I don't snorkel and prefer waves, it wasn't my favorite beach. That said, it was like swimming in a very large natural pool, so that was kind of cool. It also wasn't too crowded that morning, but the beach itself is tiny and I would imagine is packed with people later in the day. We again took the bus to Hamilton for a light lunch at the Lemon Tree cafe next to the public library. We spent the rest of the day exploring Hamilton and took the ferry back to the ship. On Friday, we went to Gibbs Lighthouse by bus and then walked down to Church Bay Beach for a swim. The views of Bermuda from the lighthouse and Church Bay itself were gorgeous. Church Bay had lots of snorkelers. Weather. It was very sunny all week. It was a little humid in Bermuda and the temperatures reached ninety degrees in the afternoon. Coming from Connecticut where we in the midst of the hottest July on record, I thought the weather was great since it wasn't as hot or humid as the Northeast was when we left or the day we came back. My California friend thought it was a bit hot for sightseeing, but nice anyway. Service. I had very minor service hiccups on my first two Dawn cruises years back (in 2003 and 2006), and there were none on this one, so I think that service has improved on Dawn. It is hard not to compare the service I received on the Dawn while sailing on a suite to the service on my cruise two month's before on Holland America's Veendam, where I was in a basic lanai cabin, which is one grade below a balcony. The service on the Dawn was good, but the service on Veendam was better. That could be because I didn't require the services of the butler and concierge that the Dawn offers suite guests. So for basic cabin service, I thought HAL had an edge as my cabin was left in a nearly immaculate state each time they cleaned it. Disembarkation. We arrived on schedule to NYC and were docked between the Dawn Princess and the Veendam. We chose to walk off with our luggage and waited ten or so minutes after an announcement was made to leave the ship, thus avoiding having to navigate around the huge lines around the promenade deck as people lined up with their luggage an hour before the announcement. As suite passengers, we we're escorted off the ship by our concierge and were able to bypass the line off the ship but were quickly reintroduced to lines as we entered the pier. That said, it took no more than twenty minutes to leave the ship and grab a taxi. Overall. I loved my cruise to Bermuda on the Dawn. Bermuda was great as always. The weather was nice. We had smooth seas to and from Bermuda. The Dawn staff was friendly. The entertainment and nightlife were varied. Also, because we purchased a spa pass and had a balcony, we were able to avoid the crowds when we wanted to, or be a part of the crowd, when we wanted to, too. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My husband (43) and I (44) cruised NCL for the 1st time. We wanted to compare our experience on NCL to our experience on RCCL last yr. Here is a detailed review: Parking: Parking is a bit insane. You drive up the ramp and are then told ... Read More
My husband (43) and I (44) cruised NCL for the 1st time. We wanted to compare our experience on NCL to our experience on RCCL last yr. Here is a detailed review: Parking: Parking is a bit insane. You drive up the ramp and are then told to make a u-turn in this tiny area..Thankfully we had my husband's small sports car.. The parking fee $210 is paid up front for the duration. Baggage Check Area: Horrible.. No direction whatsoever.. We had to leave our car parked in front to seek out someone to take our bags.. All the while this guy is screaming for parked cars to be moved, yet their employees weren't being attentive enough to take bags, thus eliminating the need to park your car! Embarkation: Not too bad, although we were given the wrong room keys.. Don't know how that happened since she verified our names BEFORE issuing the keys..We were on the ship within 45 minutes...Oh we arrived around 10:45, and had our picture taken around 11:15..On the ship by noon. Ship: Compared to RCCL Majesty of the Seas, this ship is gorgeous. The atrium was absolutely breathtaking. A) Tip- Head to the Venetian (Deck 7) for lunch.. No crowd, great food.. Everyone else will be rushing to eat at the Garden Cafe buffet :) B) Tip- Pick up sea sickness pills at front desk upon boarding ship. These are tiny miracle pills and eliminate the need to use those irritating patches. C) Room- Our room was ready while we were dining at the Venetian. Our luggage came within 1hr of being in our room. The room layout is nicer than Majesty of the Seas..Bathroom was much larger as well.. The room had a stinky stench though as if the carpets needed cleaning.. This stench stayed the entire cruise but got lighter everyday.. D) Room Steward- Never saw the person (male/female).. Cleaned room to our satisfaction but left towel animals only 3 days of the 7 day cruise..This was disappointing too us.. E) Pool - Not large enough. We felt that the pool itself was rather small for the ship capacity.. They have a lovely indoor heated lap pool (Spa), but at $150 per couple we passed on it.. Food: Buffet was as to be expected.. Some good food, some not so good.. Made to order omelets and waffles were the highlight.. Venetian ~ Lunch was much better than dinner..The lobster and steak were both overcooked the one evening we ate there.. The Warm Apple Bread Pudding dessert was the best!!! Aqua~ Atmosphere not as nice as Venetian.. Same exact menu though.. Food was just ok. Salsa - $10pp cover charge..In our opinion this bogus Mexican food was inedible.. Do not waste your money. Drinks: Bucket of beer $32.50..Buy 5 get 6.. They bug the heck out of you the entire cruise to buy these buckets..We passed! Entertainment: WONDERFUL!! Hubby and I were in the Not-So-Newlywed Game Show and had a ball.. Next night hubby was picked for the Dancing with the NCL Stars Show, again had a ball..Next night hubby again was picked this time for Magic Show (wonderful wonderful show)..All white party was also a hit, as well as Dave Heenan's comedy show and Bollywood... The only disappointment was Ray-Ray the assistant cruise director..He just seemed like he didn't want to be there..Shona was just ok... Port: Water was gorgeous.Weather was wonderful all three days.. We went to Snorkel Beach (no charge)..Rented chairs for the day $10 pp, and just relaxed..Night time entertainment in Bermuda is nil... Ferry and bus system was adequate and worth every penny.. Shopping in Bermuda was pricey imo..Make sure to visit the Rum Factory and get your rum cake.. Another recommendation is the local drink (Dark n Stormy)..This is Ginger Beer mixed with Dark Rum..WOW... Disembarkation: We chose the latest time to be off the ship..Went very quickly.. MAKE SURE TO HAVE A PORTER ASSIST YOU WITH YOUR LUGGAGE AT BAGGAGE CHECK... No line no waiting if you have a porter..You simply walk right up to Customs desk and voila, done!! Customs~ Quick and painless.. We bought back more than 1 litre of alcohol per person and documented this on our customs form..Officer never checked our bags.. Overall, we would sail the Dawn again but probably not to Bermuda... Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Our third cruise on the Dawn. We are usually Celebrity Concierge Class passengers or when we travel on NCL we try to take a suite. For a ship in middle age, the Dawn has been immaculately maintained and it was gratifying to observe the ... Read More
Our third cruise on the Dawn. We are usually Celebrity Concierge Class passengers or when we travel on NCL we try to take a suite. For a ship in middle age, the Dawn has been immaculately maintained and it was gratifying to observe the improvements made over the years. We like the NCL Product and the innovations introduced to cruising by NCL, unfortunately for NCL the rest of the industry is fast playing catch-up reducing their lead. The NCL Suite Product definitely has some very rough edges that require polish if they wish to remain up there in the Suite business, very important with the emphasis on the Suite Product with the new Epic. Overall, we really enjoyed the cruise and would travel NCL again. The product remains consistent and their staff incredible with a great attitude. Having said that here are a few minor criticisms that NCL might like to consider addressing if they want to remain market leaders: 1) Suite Check-in New York - This needs rethinking, very poor with very rude probably Contract staff. Having barked at by aggressive staff to then stand in line for suite check-in is unacceptable. The pre-boarding lounge is only used after the paperwork is completed so unlike the delightful stress free experience in Miami where you are first escorted to the lounge where the paperwork is completed while you sit while having a coffee a very calming and soothing experience. 2) New Menus - a subjective observation but a disaster, heavy, heavy dishes like lamb shank while although delicious are more suited for winter not a hot weather destination cruise. No "light" cuisine in sight anywhere. In these tough economic times everyone realized that cuts must be made, but at least be imaginative with the menu planning. 3) Impressions Italian Restaurant - Such a pretty restaurant space, used to be the Aqua in the old days. Such a waste of space in its currest incarnation, this is a complete horror story, with almost crispy pasta and tasteless, unimaginative, poorly spiced, uninspiring sauces. Where is Chef Boyardee when you want him !!!! NCL should be paying you $10.00 for this appology of an Italian Restaurant not the otherway around. 4) Teppanyaki - Overall a fun experience, but here we are on a 50% Asian owned cruise line with a Large Saki bar. Our order of Warm Saki served in a Japanese tea teapot with glass shot glasses, not the customary Saki flask with tiny delicate porcelain saki cups. After pointing out the problem, a whole glass warm bottle of Saki is produced with Green Tea Mugs, then after giving the charming Help instructions on the correct way to serve Saki they admitted that they did not have any proper Saki flasks or cups on Board....Hey NCL, what happened to your Asian heritage ? 5) Fresh squeezed Orange Juice at Cagneys Breakfast - large $3.50 - was so heavily diluted with water it had no resemblance to orange juice except in color. When mentioned to the French F&B Manager he denied that NCL ever diluted fresh orange juice...... sometimes honesty pays, in these situations flat denials just make you loose all credibility. 6) Concierge - another NCL area for improvement ( see my review two years ago on the Jewel about lack of role definition and training for this position ). The guy was everywhere you went, constantly bombarding you with highly personal questions about your day. Maybe it is a cultural thing, but the guest privacy line was definitely crossed. Unprompted, the same invasive questioning issue was also raised by another Suite Guests that I happened to meet on the cruise in the Spa. Although they were made with bad grace, I was given a highly inappropriate lecture by the Concierge about asking for reservations at Aqua. Guests should not be treated as if they had made a violation of school rules, they are adults. Unless I am mistaken, surely this is the whole point of paying a considerable premium for a suite, which to be able to make reservations to avoid standing in line at restaurants. ( See NCL's own website ) ? and finally 7) Great Romance Suite Aft facing Balcony, however the Spa Window washing machine was above us was in use at 9am on a Port Day in Bermuda and at 2am on a return night at sea. This produced a hurricane of water cascading onto the balcony and unacceptable noise resulting in the waking us and drenching of all the lounger pads and flooring. No warning given on Port Day and we very, very narrowly missed getting drenched on the Balcony. For the second washing was woken at 2am at night, the door to the balcony was open, with torrential deluge of water and noise. Why can NCL not warn suite guests in advance so as the lounger pads can be removed or placed in a spot to remain dry ? Although these may seem allot of negative points, they were far out weighed by the positive, great service and genuinely charming staff - so NCL do not worry, we will be back in another suite. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Being that both of my daughters were observant of Kosher, the extensive selection of Kosher options was a deciding factor for this Cruise. Embarkation was smooth and uneventful and we went directly to our cabin. I chose a BB balcony ... Read More
Being that both of my daughters were observant of Kosher, the extensive selection of Kosher options was a deciding factor for this Cruise. Embarkation was smooth and uneventful and we went directly to our cabin. I chose a BB balcony because I am a smoker and my daughters detest it. The balcony cabin was the smallest I've ever seen on a cruise line, and when the third bed was open it was impossible to get onto the balcony without crawling over the third bed. Not a pretty picture. While waiting for our luggage to be delivered to our cabin, we decided to go eat lunch. We went to the buffet and were told that Kosher meals would not be available until dinner time. I then asked to speak with the food service manager and was promptly greeted by the restaurant manager. After explaining to him that my daughters could not eat anything at the the buffet, he suggested they have a cold salad and wait until dinner to get the Kosher meals. After I explained to him that this was not an option he told me he needed to have the meals picked up from the galley and then heated and this could take as much as an hour, but he would personally, take care of it. We waited, and it was well worth the wait. At diner we were greeted by the Maitre"d Ernesto, who seemed to know more about Kosher than we did. He explained to us that we needed to order all the Kosher meals for the next day so they could be brought up from the galley and be ready to be heated. After that all the meals went well and everyone was super nice. As far as the $12 daily bill for gratuities, I had a problem knowing full well that these tips would not go directly to my waiters and busboys, but would be used to pay salaries for the entire crew, I opted out of this on the last evening and gave tips to the appropriate people as the need occurred. As almost every meal was assisted by a Maitr'd, I tip each one of them every meal as well as the waiter and busboy. The room stewards were another pair that I wanted to have on my side, so the very first day I gave them $10 and asked always to have ice, extra pillows and extra towels in my cabin. This worked out to my advantage. (the wheel that squeaks gets oiled). The casino was above average for a cruise line and, while playing(table games) I never payed for a drink. All and all the food was above average, and the entire staff was friendly and very accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
First, let me say that I've been an avid NCL fan since my first NCL Cruise on the Dawn about 6 years ago. I'm booked on my 10th cruise with them in July and have 4 more "Cruise Rewards" to utilize in the pipeline. On ... Read More
First, let me say that I've been an avid NCL fan since my first NCL Cruise on the Dawn about 6 years ago. I'm booked on my 10th cruise with them in July and have 4 more "Cruise Rewards" to utilize in the pipeline. On 5/2/10, myself and my partner embarked on the Dawn to Bermuda. I believe even before stepping foot on Deck 7 we were approached about buying something - and it never ended the entire cruise. They're relentless. NCL: If you need to make more $$$, raise your fares (even more) and stop inundating the passengers with requests to buy crap and spend money on board. Its ever so annoying. The Dawn should have been refurbished 2 or 3 years ago and its beginning to be more obvious all the time. On 3 occasions, we had no COLD water in our cabin. Try even brushing your teeth with scalding water some time. The seats in the Stardust Theater need replacement... they're either broken or so uncomfortable, you feel as though you've been crippled by them when you attempt to stand up after the show. NCL is trying to cut back on entrees in the main dining rooms. I understand the Dawn is the guinea pig for this experiment. They now have only 3 changing entree options at dinner and NONE for lunch. You now have to pay to utilize the Spa Pool and hot tub - when it used to be free. They've obviously cut back on the cleaning of some common areas, such as doorway trim. You can see the grunge around the door handles. No wonder why I came down with upper respiratory infections while sailing on 2 of my last 3 NCL cruises this year. NCL, if you read these things, get your act together, will ya. I don't care to have to return to Princess or RCI. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
First I have to admit, we were very concerned when we read the large number of negative reviews concerning the Norwegian Dawn. Everything from bad food to surly crew was outlined in the reviews and we were concerned that these reviews were ... Read More
First I have to admit, we were very concerned when we read the large number of negative reviews concerning the Norwegian Dawn. Everything from bad food to surly crew was outlined in the reviews and we were concerned that these reviews were accurate and would result in a less than enjoyable experience on board the Dawn. A little background on us. We are a 50ish couple who have taken 15 cruises in the past 10 years. We have sailed Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Princess. We are experienced cruisers who have always enjoyed every cruise we have been on. We have a saying, there is no bad cruise, some are just better than others. This brings us to the Dawn. We arrived at the Port of New York at approximately 10:00 am on Sunday, April 25 for our 7 day cruise. We have found that by arriving early, you can generally get on the ship fairly quickly and can be on deck eating lunch by the time the lines form to embark. Our system did let us down a bit this cruise as the Dawn was going through a Coast Guard inspection and were not able to actually get on board until around Noon. We found the embarkation procedures to be well thought out and very simple to board the ship. After we got onboard, we went to the Welcome Aboard Buffet and had our first sample of the quality and taste of the food on the Dawn. Remember that one of the biggest criticisms of the Dawn was the quality of the food. We thought the lunch buffet was excellent and the food well prepared and very good. In comparison to the other cruise lines we have been on, it was completely comparable, no better and no worse. After sitting on the deck for awhile, where we were greeted by an extremely friendly and welcoming crew, our room was ready around 2:00. This is one of the downsides to freestyle cruising. Since the previous guests are allowed to remain in their stateroom until disembarkation, the rooms are ready a little later than other cruise lines. Our room was very clean and very nice (as was the rest of the ship). We initially felt it was smaller than some of the other cruise lines, but later decided that because of the King Size bed, it simply felt smaller. On a high note, in addition to the King Sized Bed, there was also a 4 cup coffee maker in the room and the shower much larger than we have seen on other ships. We really thought this was a nice touch. Our luggage arrived very quickly and we were unpacked and off to explore the ship. We located the casino, several bars and checked out the dining menu for that first evening. The casino had very tight slots. This continued throughout the cruise. Probably the tightest slot machines we have encountered in our cruising history. We had a late afternoon snack in the Blue Lagoon on deck 7. Probably the best kept secret on the cruise ship. A small "diner" serving wings, salads, burgers, Spinach and Artichoke dip, chicken tenders, soups and typical "diner food". This became one of our favorite places to grab a quick snack. Everything we sampled was very, very good. We awoke the following morning to heavy seas and cool temps. We went up to the buffet for breakfast and again found the quality of the food excellent. We roamed the ship and were repeatedly greeted by a very friendly staff and crew. We also had lunch in the buffet and felt it was very good. We went to an art auction in the afternoon. If you have never gone to one of the auctions, this is an excellent place to get very good buys on top quality art. In the evening, we had dinner in the Blue Lagoon and went to the casino. Christina at the Casino Bar became our bartender of choice as she was pleasant and very efficient. Later that night, we went to see the Newlywed and Not So Newlywed Game show. Typical passenger involved activity, but funny and quite enjoyable and entertaining. To bed fairly early as the rough seas and high wind continued. Awoke Tuesday to 10 foot seas and 38 Knot winds. Water very rough (not cruise ship's fault). We ate breakfast at the buffet and had a very enjoyable meal. The biscuits and gravy were excellent. Walked the walking track this morning. This was quite an experience as you had to time your walk to the wave action. The weather remains very cool and seas very rough. We decided on a light lunch at the Blue Lagoon and were impressed by the quality, taste and freshness of the food. We went to a second art auction in the afternoon and then sat by the pool and enjoyed a few drinks. The service was, as usual, excellent. We decided to go to the Dining Room for dinner. I had a well seasoned and tender steak which was cooked perfectly and Mary had the Lobster which was also very good. The cheese cake and apple tart were excellent. We awoke the next morning to smooth seas and sunshine. Arrived in Bermuda and was tied up at the dock at 7:45. The Breakfast buffet was very good as were the lunch and dinner buffet. We shopped in the Boatyard area during the morning and took a tour (Homes and Hideways of the Rich and Famous) which was also very good and interesting. The casino was closed while in Port. The second day in Bermuda we went to Saint Georges. This was a small village about 45 minutes from Hamilton. There was very little in the area, but we had a nice lunch at the Whitehorse Pub. It was very good, but also very expensive. $70 for two lunches and a Rum Swizzles each. We rode the ferry back to the boatyard and had dinner at the buffet. Again it was very good. The last day in Bermuda, we shopped in Hamilton and returned to the ship early. We went up to the Sail Away party at the pool deck and enjoyed the band very much. Later in the evening, we went to the Bollywood show and found it to be acrobatic and very entertaining. Left port on time for the return voyage to New York. The last day at sea was rough and cool. Fortunately the sun was shining so the cool air was comfortable. We arrived back in New York the following morning and was tied up at dock about 15 minutes late. Disembarkation was smooth. Overall, the bad reviews we read on line were, in our opinion, incorrect. We found the food tasty and well prepared and the crew and ship were very nice. Perhaps we do not have the same extremely high expectations other cruisers have had, but overall we thought the cruise was a good value for the money and in fact we are discussing going on the Dawn out of Miami in November or December later this year. Do not be disheartened by the other reviews, this cruise was as nice as any of our other 14 cruises. Like any cruise, there are things you like and things you don't, but don't be concerned about the food or the staff on the Dawn. They were both great. Happy Cruising. If you have questions about this ship or cruising in general, please e-mail me at cweathers@comcast.net. Please include "Cruise Info" in your subject Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Cruised with our neighbors and teen son and daughter in April. The Dawn is a beautiful ship - public areas, restrooms, cabins all were sparkling clean. I only have prior cruise experience on RC, but the cabins on this ship were great, ... Read More
Cruised with our neighbors and teen son and daughter in April. The Dawn is a beautiful ship - public areas, restrooms, cabins all were sparkling clean. I only have prior cruise experience on RC, but the cabins on this ship were great, plenty of closet/drawer space, excellent use of space, very functional and ergonomically terrific bathrooms. Also very stylish and fit and finish were perfect, no dangling caulk or ill fitting drawers to worry about. Embarkation and debarkation were flawless. Entertainment was terrific, a good mix of production numbers, comedy and magic shows. Did not use the casino, mainly because the house rules were not good for the blackjack player, which is all that interests me (only 6:5 payout on blackjack, what's up with that?). Food in the main dining rooms ranged from ok to excellent, but certainly nothing terrible. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was particularly good, lots of choices and all appeared fresh and well prepared. Room service was one glitch - mainly you couldn't get it! Every time I called I got a busy signal, even trying repeatedly. Very frustrating when you have the late night munchies. When I asked about this, I was told it was just very busy. It would seem to me that if it's that busy they should either have a late night buffet available or more staff for room service. We tried one of the extra cost dining areas, the sushi bar. Definitely not up to the best sushi I've had, I would classify it as better than supermarket, but not as good as my favorite local place. I used the gym twice. It has the usual equipment and was very nice. They even have little TV's to watch on the machines, although staff were not keeping up with cleaning the earphones that are provided (the "used" bin was full, the "clean" bin was empty) - bring your own would be my advice. I didn't use the spa or any other special services. Bermuda is not for everyone. Almost no nightlife, and at least this time of year the beaches were not ready for prime time. But for someone like me, who likes to wander around and see the places I visit, it's perfect. Unlike your typical caribbean island, it's safe, clean, and very accessible via public transport. One day I rented a bike in Hamilton and spent a wonderful few hours cycling most of the island via the railway trail, an abandoned right of way that has been converted to a hiking and bicycle trail. Beautiful views of the island, plus you get to see the island from ground level, where people live, go to school, shop, etc. I like that when I travel. There are even a few touristy spots, like the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, that are nicely set up and very inexpensive. All in all, other than the couple of glitches above, I really enjoyed my vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My husband and I, both in our early 60's, just returned from a week's cruise from NYC to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. After reading the reviews, I was baffled since NCL has a good reputation and I couldn't see from my ... Read More
My husband and I, both in our early 60's, just returned from a week's cruise from NYC to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. After reading the reviews, I was baffled since NCL has a good reputation and I couldn't see from my past experience how the Dawn could be so much worse than the Pride of America which I sailed on a few years ago in Hawaii. Here are my impressions and some tips based on eight other cruises and fifteen years as a travel agent: 1. I didn't take the NCL transfers offered from the airport to the pier. They were $50pp each way. I went online through Orbitz and booked a car through Carmel's and paid $40 each way for TWO. Rather than paying $200, we paid $80! Savings #1. 2. I had read the reviews of the restaurants and must say that we found that the food ranged from good to average. Impressions (Italian) $10-$15 cover charge. Good food. Cagney's Steakhouse $25pp overpriced. The food wasn't bad: it just wasn't great. My husband ate at the Sushi Bar several times for $15 each time and found it wonderful. One couldn't eat all the sushi one wanted in a restaurant for that cost. The Blue Lagoon has good fast food including delicious tomato soup, burgers and wings. 24 hour service makes it ideal for a quick lunch or late night snack. Garden Cafe In a word, confusing. Several lines which served almost but not exactly the same foods. When you went down one side, you had to turn around and come back through the whole restaurant. They needed s better circulation pattern to make it a continuous flow from one area to another or they needed to serve exactly the same thing on each line. Confusing, but the food was ok and one could certainly find something to make him happy. Aqua Restaurant. Good food but they have those darned tables with a bench/banquette on the back and chairs on the front which means you are elbow to elbow with strangers, whether you want to be or not. What's wrong with a table for two? There were few in the restaurant. Shore excursions: We were in Kings Wharf for two nights. No fear of being left if you took independent tours. Here's the scoop: We booked a taxi (met him out front as we left the ship and agreed on a price and time frame) He charged $110 for a 3 to 3 1/2 hour private tour in his taxi. We went everywhere the tour bus went and saw the island from every angle, including views from hillside streets that the buses could NOT negotiate. The NCL tour was $79.00 per person. Their trip is 4 hours but they stopped for lunch. Rather than $160, we paid $110. Savings #2! Other tours? Unless they involve snorkeling or water-based activities, we found we could buy a bus/ferry pass for $28 per person and go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We LOVED it. We got three days unlimited use of both the excellent ferry service (fun to get on one and just ride around the island) and the clean, efficient and friendly bus line. The bus is the same one used by the locals and school kids and we loved interacting with them. The locals are well educated, friendly and very mannerly. Buy the pass in the building right as you get off the ship. Things to do in the Dockyard (Kings Wharf) There is a small beach within walking distance of the ship. It's clean and has a bar and snorkeling equipment. It's called the Snorkel Park and it's free. There is a shopping center with a restaurant and shops ranging from cheap souvenirs to hand made jewelry. There is a Bonefish Grill which serves seafood. NOT part of the American chain but good food. There is a pharmacy and also a small round (?) building in which to buy soft drinks to take on the ship. They were $1.50 (including Diet Coke which wasn't sold on-board) versus the $2.25 on-board for a Diet Pepsi. They had no problem with us taking it on-board. Things you might want to know: You can order from a list of newspapers and have them delivered to your room. They print them from the internet, I suppose, and they are up-to-date. We wish we had known it from the beginning since we missed local news from our daily paper. They do have CNN and FOX on the tv, but no other news channels so we went all week somewhat in the dark. You can purchase a bottle of wine and they will hold it in the galley until you want it again. We bought one in Cagney's and my husband drank from it for three nights. The bottle of Merlot was $28 which is cheaper than by the glass. You can also purchase a bottle of liquor to be set up in your stateroom! They charge up to $60 for the bottle and a $3 set up fee but you don't have to spend the money per drink. Savings #3! Rooms: We had a balcony room in the bow of the ship on deck 10. There was a fair amount of foul weather on the trip down and I really think lower decks are less prone to rolling. Plus, they are cheaper! We had a sofa and a refrigerator and room on the balcony for two chairs and a very small table. Fine for just the two of us. The rooms were clean, well serviced and in good shape. The bath had a glass sliding door between the toilet and the sink and plenty of room in the shower. There is a hair dryer in each cabin and there is ONE 120v. plug. Entertainment: Lacking! There is a show put on by the Jean Ann Ryan dance troupe and it was good sometimes and not so good sometimes. The magician and comedians were ok ...just ok. There is, of course, the art auction and bingo every day but they charge for the bingo. There were some games around the pool and that area was heavily used. There is a small hot tub on deck 13 behind the bar, which was used by the older folks. It was right on the bow of the ship and was quieter and had a great view. The main pool was typical of main pools...full of people and heavily used. We were on this cruise in mid-October and there were few kids on-board so I can't comment on how it would be if there were more children. Feel free to contact me if you have questions. I had a good time on this trip and found it a good deal. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was our second cruise, both on the Dawn. Our first was in 2006, and while the ship was great (good food, service, entertainment, etc) the itinerary was not; we only spent 8 hours in Bermuda (which we loved) and the sea was too rough ... Read More
This was our second cruise, both on the Dawn. Our first was in 2006, and while the ship was great (good food, service, entertainment, etc) the itinerary was not; we only spent 8 hours in Bermuda (which we loved) and the sea was too rough for the private island, so we spent longer in the Bahamas (which we didn't love), had a mediocre glass-bottom boat trip, and spent 2 hours trying to get a cab from the pier to Penn Station. I give it 4 stars; great time aboard, mediocre itinerary, tough getting home. This time, we booked a cruise with 3 days in Bermuda, and found cheap parking (Enterprise Parking) 2 blocks away. Embarkation & disembarkation were easy (don't do "easy walk-off; it's a LONG line), and we loved Bermuda. Alas, being aboard the Dawn was not as much fun, due to negative changes in the food, service, and especially the spa. 3 years ago, there was no extra charge for spa pool/jacuzzi/sauna/showers; now they charge $20 each per day or $150 per couple for the whole cruise. Since we didn't plan to use it in port, we decided against the $150 plan and scheduled massages using the $40 credit they gave us at the spa opening raffle. We had been told we could use the spa if we had appointments that day, but when we tried to they wanted another $20 each to let us use the spa before or after our massages! Instead, we hit the hot tubs by the Oasis pool, which were crowded but free. Having the spa off limits—even before & after expensive massages—was very disappointing. This is only one example of a "nickle and dime" attitude that also hurt the service. On our previous cruise, automatic tips were optional; we tipped well and got good service. Now they are mandatory, and the service has suffered. When we got good service and tipped extra, the servers were so grateful that it is obvious no one tips beyond the mandatory amount—which explains why the service was often slow and some of the servers were surly. We discovered that the way to get good service is to find someone interested in working for an extra tip, tip them well, and look for them next time. The highlight of poor service—but also of the Dawn's willingness to recover—was our anniversary dinner at Le Bistro. While the food was excellent, from the moment the Captain and his party of 7 sat down at a table next to us, we were ignored; a uniformed member of the Captain's party had to tell a server to take away our empty plates. Though we had ordered before the Captain arrived, his party finished their deserts and left before we could even get a desert menu. My wife was so upset by 2 hours of being ignored that she called and complained—whereupon they gave us another meal at Le Bistro without the extra $15 charge, and when we arrived gave us a complimentary bottle of wine. The service at our second dinner was as excellent as the food, and my wife called her Crème Brule the best desert she had ever eaten. Inconsistent service, but a good recovery. The food was usually good, but not as fresh as on our previous cruise, and having the same menu in the main dining halls got to be a bit of a bore. We enjoyed the “meet and great” reception they gave Cruise Critic’s roll call members; thanks to “Lilcruzr” for setting it up. We met several people there (and elsewhere) who were fun to chat with. Our balcony room was fine, but narrower than last time. Our room stewards were much more attentive, though, and they left 4 towel animals—nice touch. The entertainment was good but inconsistent. The highlight was an incredible Tina Turner review; Bollywood and Second City were good. The magician was weak, though, the pool band made every song sound like Bob Marley, and we giggled at a pianist doing Elton John with a strong Serbian accent (“Daniel ees traveling tonight on de plane...”). Bermuda was wonderful, though the weather was too rough for my helmet dive excursion. Get a 3-day bus/ferry pass. Horseshoe Bay was excellent, as was Snorkel Park. Skip Echo Bay; facilities are for hotel guests only. We loved Crystal Caves, though my wife found them claustrophobic. We enjoyed Saint George, though we were unable to hook up with the horse carriage tour and took a trolley tour that was okay. We had a hard time finding reasonable lunch places, so we got food from a salad bar at a grocery store for a lovely picnic in a park—spending about 1/3 as much. I also give this cruise 4 stars, for reasons that are the complete opposite of last time. The itinerary and logistics were great, but the food and service were inconsistent, and the “nickle and dime” attitude was annoying, particularly regarding the spa. If the time onboard had been as enjoyable as it was on our previous cruise, I would give 5 stars. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We arrived at the pier at noon and headed for the Latitudes member line which in and of itself was quite long, but still short compared to the "regular" line. While we waited there were TVs around showing the new EPIC ship, it ... Read More
We arrived at the pier at noon and headed for the Latitudes member line which in and of itself was quite long, but still short compared to the "regular" line. While we waited there were TVs around showing the new EPIC ship, it looks very cool! The wait to check in was about 30 minutes, not bad. As usual you were greeted with hand sanitizer and champagne. CABIN: We were in an inside cabin on deck 10 FWD (#10587), cabins were ready around 2pm and we received our luggage maybe around 5pm. For 2 people the size of the room was fine, especially when you don't spend much time there. We had a 1 large suitcase and 1 medium sized. We put the medium bad into the large and they fit standing up in the closet so they were out of the way. The room was clean. The bathroom was showing some signs of age. I.e. The clothes line in the shower didn't retract back and was starting to look a bit grimy. Our safe did not work, but within 30 minutes of me calling about it they came to fix it and after that it was no problem at all. My only gripe with an inside room is the darkness in the morning. You never know what time it is. Your cell phone is acting wacky because you are at sea so you can't rely on that for the time (half the time it was on California time...very strange!) and the only way to see the time was to look at the display on the phone, which is dark, so you'd need to turn on the light to see it. Next time I would bring little clock that is visible in the dark. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and always got our room clean and turned down quickly. SHIP: Some people say that the ship is looking old, but I didn't really get that feeling. I thought it looked great. The Dawn is the same model ship as the Gem which we sailed last year. One of the things that we loved on the Gem was the bar and sitting area at the back of the ship on I think it was deck 12. The Dawn didn't have anything at the back of the ship except for the kids' pool, so we missed that. Our sailing was completely sold out, but I never really felt like I was crowded by loads of people. POOL: While the chairs right around the pool were always filled up, we never had a problem getting a chair if we walked towards the front of the ship. This at times seemed better because the speakers around the pool are VERY loud, almost too loud, you couldn't even talk to the person next to you with out screaming. Don't get me wrong, I'm only 35 and the band at the pool was great, but the speakers could be lowered just a bit. SPA: On the first day at sea it was overcast and sitting on the deck it was pretty windy and a bit cold, so we decided to buy the day passes for the Spa pool. It consists of a lap pool as well as a salt water jacuzzi and a regular chlorine jacuzzi. You also have access to the lockers and changing rooms which include showers, a sauna and steam room. The padded lounge chairs are facing full length windows overlooking the back of the ship, talk about relaxing! It was a great place to take a little nap. FOOD: There has been much talk about the new static menus and I could see if you never ate in a specialty restaurant you'd get bored, but we didn't mind it. The daily chef specials were posted at the beginning of the cruise so it was easy to plan where you wanted to eat. We ate at both dining rooms. Venetian is the bigger grand dining room and I felt that things tended to take more time there. Aqua is the smaller dining room which had more of a cozy feel to it. Both were good. I wasn't overly impressed by the food, but they were good. I definitely recommend the mushroom ravioli appetizer in Aqua, which was delicious! We also ate in 3 of the specialty restaurants. Impressions (Italian) was very good and for $10pp, it was a bargain. Le Bistro (French), what can I say, I mean foie gras and duck confit for $15pp, I mean come on!! It was fabulous! Everything we had there was heavenly and the service was great. On the last night we went to Cagney's Steakhouse which is $25pp. I have been to quite a few NYC steakhouses and Cagney's in my opinion has some of them beat! The ribeyes, were like they say on the menu..."like butta"! The sautEed mushrooms were so flavorful and perfectly cooked and the cream spinach was light and delicious. It was a wonderful meal and well worth the price. We mostly did the buffet for breakfast and lunch which was pretty good; I had no complaints about it. We also snacked at Blue Lagoon. Here service is a bit spotty, sometimes it's quick, sometimes only 1 of your orders comes. However the food was pretty good. This is where you go to get water/tea/coffee after the buffet closes at night since it is always open. STAFF: The crew was great and we got to chat with quite a few of them. They were always happy and helpful no matter where you were on the ship. BERMUDA: What a beautiful island. We opted not to take any excursions so we bought a 3 day transportation pass that worked for both the buses and ferries and traveled around on our own. Horshoe Bay is a beautiful beach and does get crowded. If you keep walking towards the rocks at the far end of the beach it gets quieter and you can find a near empty beach, definitely worth seeing. We stopped at Church Bay, but I wasn't impressed. The day we went it was very windy so there was no way you could snorkel and the beach is pretty small. We moved on the Elbow beach, which was pretty quiet. We did spend an hour or 2 at the Snorkel park, it was fine, the snorkeling was good since the water was so calm. The beach itself is small and a little rocky but if you're going in the water, it's good. We took the ferry to Hamilton to walk around there and did a little shopping. If you need to check your email, the library provides 30 minutes free Internet access per day. We went over to St. George as well, but got there to late to go into the churches and town hall, but it is a nice little town with some shops. All in all it was a lovely cruise. If anyone has any questions, let me know! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We are a family of 4 (kids - 10 & 11). We've been on Carnival and Royal before. Embarkation We arrived at the pier at noon and was on board before 1pm. We had a mini suite, so NCL had a separate line for all balcony, ... Read More
We are a family of 4 (kids - 10 & 11). We've been on Carnival and Royal before. Embarkation We arrived at the pier at noon and was on board before 1pm. We had a mini suite, so NCL had a separate line for all balcony, suites and mini suites. We didn't wait on line for anything at all. The whole process was quite smooth. Cabin Our cabin was ready by 2pm and by around 4pm, our luggage was there. One nice thing about the mini suite was that the bathroom had a tub in it. The bathroom was definitely bigger. We had ample storage room for our clothes. My husband being 6'4" tall really enjoyed having a bathtub to shower instead of a stall. The room was kep clean all the time. As far as extra amenities, we had a bar of soap, small bottle of lotion, and a shower cap. I didn't like the self-dispensing shower gel that was in the tub, it was too watery, so I used the soap instead. We never had the issue of not having enough towels. When we first got into our cabin, my husband noticed one of the towels had some stains on it. He told the steward, and it was replaced when he came to turn down the cabin. The kids were really tired on the first night, so they wanted to go to bed a little early (around 9pm). However, being the first night, the stewards were all busy transporting all the luggage to the room. My husband told our steward that the kids were tired, he immediately dropped everything and set the pullout sofa for the kids. We had towel animals everynight. I didn't ask the steward to empty out the fridge, I just pushed everything aside and put our 4 big bottles of water in the fridge. Public Area We didn't go to the pool at all. It was packed everyday, but if you go very early in the morning and late at night, then it's empty. We didn't like sitting out in the sun, so we didn't even go to the pool deck that much. On the main deck, you can only go from one end of the ship to the other through one side of the ship. That long hallway became very congested all the time. There were only a few shops to browse through. Kids Program The kids' program was horrible. My kids went to one craft thing and they cancelled it. They were going to play monkey ball with the 6 to 9 yr-olds instead. My kids didn't want to play with the little guys, so we left. When I looked through the programs that they had for the entire duration, they really had nothing exciting for the kids. My husband and I didn't mind having the kids with us anyway. Entertainment We really liked the singing and dancing shows. They were very good. We didn't care too much about the Second City and the comedian Dave. We also enjoyed the magic show and his memory seminar. There were a lot of music going on in other areas. We particularly liked the guy Bernie Martini. He was very talented. We also did the ballroom dancing lessons which were good. We also attended a cooking demo by the executive chef. He was a very funny guy. However, some people didn't appreciate his humor and found him annoying. We didn't participate in the Bingo. It was very expensive. NCL pushed the bingo every night before every show began. Food There are 2 MDR's - Venetian and Aqua. Venetian was grand while Aqua was cozy. We ate there pretty much for all dinners and some lunch. Venetain and Aqua had their own menus, but they were not that much difference between them. The daily chef's selections were the same for both. We ate dinner at 5:30pm every night and we didn't have to wait at all. Try to avoid dinner between 6:30pm and 9pm. That's when you definitely have to wait. Both menus pretty much had a beef dish, a chicken dish, a seafood dish, and a vegetarian dish. The food was fine, not bad, but nothing to write home about. We went to Le Bistro one night and the food was definitely better. The portions in the dinning rooms were kind of small for appetizer. Make sure you ask how many pieces were there and just order more. The Garden Cafe was just your normal buffet food. We didn't like eating buffet food that much, so we only ate there when we had to grab something quick. We were not a family of hamburger and hot dog either, so we didn't go to the Pool deck BBQ. We even went to Venetain for breakfast. We didn't like the crowd at the buffet for breakfast. We tried Blue Lagoon a few times, it's fine if you just need a small snack. The wait staff were fine. They were not rude at all, but not very attentive. There was one dessert that they served during luch that I really liked, so I asked the waitress to see if I could have that for dinner. She said that's only for lunch, not dinner. When I was on Royal, the waiter was more than happy to accomodate whatever I needed. Bermuda It was absolutely beautiful! I wouldn't going back there again. Unfortunately, instead of having 2 1/2 days there, we only had 1 1/2 beacuse of the hurricane. We had to leave on Thursday afternoon instead of Friday afternoon. NCL refunded our port charges of $20 p.p. We took a ferry to St. George and walked around for about 2 hours. Then we took a bus to Crystal Cave. It was worth it. Then we went to Hamilton, but we didn't have much time left, so we didn't do that much there. Things were definitely expensive in Bermuda. I tried the Fish Chowder with the sherry rum sauce, it was a unique taste. I liked it. If you decide to purchase the transportation pass, make sure you factor in the frequency of the buses. You might have to wait 45min. or longer for the next bus if you miss one. We also did the Helmet dive the next morning. That was really the highlight of the day. You were walking at the bottom of the ocean (approx. 15ft deep) and touched some of the fish. They could take pictures for you down there for $15 p.p. plus $10 for the CD. They download all the pictures for you on a CD. Debarkation Since we only had one big suitcase and 2 carryons. We decided to do the easy walkoff. We left the ship at 9am and were home by 10:30am. All in all, this was not a bad cruise. Our expectation was not very high for NCL and everything was within that. My first choice will still be Royal. I will only go on NCL if the itineray fits me. I would not go on a more than 7-day cruise with NCL since you are going to look at the same menu day after day. There were some good choices (I especially liked the Indian dish on the chef selection one night), but it could get a little boring. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I've always been close to home on my birthday since it falls around the Fourth of July weekend and there is usually some type of family gathering.  As this was an extra special birthday (all birthdays should be special), I wanted to ... Read More
I've always been close to home on my birthday since it falls around the Fourth of July weekend and there is usually some type of family gathering.  As this was an extra special birthday (all birthdays should be special), I wanted to celebrate differently by going on a cruise for the first time.  It started out with only my adult son accompanying me (since my husband could not deal with the possibility of getting seasick) and ended up including my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew.  I preferred to sail from New York for convenience and ease and I wanted a cruise that was had the most casual dress codes.  NCL's freestyle cruising concept appealed to my son and me not just because of its dress code, but for its dining policy of eating whenever, wherever, and with whomever instead of assigned seating times and restaurants.  The length of the Bermuda cruise (8 days, 7 nights) seemed to best fit our needs since we like to see a place more in depth than a day here and a day there.  With this cruise, we had almost 3 full days in Bermuda.     Embarkation and Sail Away Thanks to one of the detailed Cruise Critic forum posts, I was able to familiarize myself with the process of embarkation in advance.  As native New Yorkers, the pier was only a taxi ride away.  We arrived around 11:30 AM thinking we would be among the first only to find a lot of people already there.  Nevertheless, the process of taking our luggage, going through security checkpoints, and check-in was all completed within 45 minutesmuch more efficient and less painful than at airports.  (They took photos that do not appear on our room key cards, but are embedded into their system so once the card is swiped, the photo appears on their terminal.)  As we departed the area, the first of many photos to be taken by the ship's photographers was taken to be displayed and sold later.  We were greeted at the Dawn's entrance with champagne (orange juice for non-drinkers and children).  There was live music coming from the atrium already, but we proceeded to locate our cabin, knowing that it may not be ready.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was ready, but then noticed that the two beds were combined when we had specifically asked for 2 separate beds.  Not a problemthey promised that it would be fixed by 8PM but it was done before the end of the afternoon. The mandatory muster (lifeboat) drill at 3:30 was very well organized.  We proceeded to our drill locations (listed on our room cards) and we lined up on deck right underneath our lifeboats.  We were given instructions on securing our life jackets.  After the drill, we returned our life jackets to our rooms and the cruise began! We could not have asked for nicer weather for the Sail Away.  Highlights were passing the Statue of Liberty seen from the top deck and singing "God Bless America" with a group of people.  Then I was thrilled to see my former my high school in Brooklyn from the water, and felt some sadness seeing my mom's old apartment near that.  Sailing under the Verrazano Bridge was exciting when it seemed the smoke stacks of the Dawn would touch the underside of the bridge!  When we returned to our rooms after this, our luggage had already been delivered to our doors, ahead of schedule; we were happily able to unpack and feel settled way before dinner. Stateroom I was fully aware that cruise cabins are much smaller than hotel rooms and since we are used to staying in large hotel rooms/suites on land vacations, I booked a balcony room just to have a more room.  Also, I booked mid-ship for maximum stability which turned out to be a great choice—we were on deck 10.  We found the room small as expected, but were impressed that it was furnished so efficiently.  The mirrors at the head of the bed gave the illusion of a larger room.  The single nightstand separates the two beds.  Both the nightstand and the coffee table have a shelf underneath for additional storage space.  Beds were very comfortable (perfect firmness) with fluffy comforters.  There is a full length mirror in the room, but you cannot use it to see full length if your room if your room is configured with 2 single beds since one of the beds is against the wall and mirror.  If your room is made with one queen, then there is a space where you can stand in front of the mirror.  This was not a problem for us since there are enough mirrors in the room.    There was a small convertible sofa next to the beds which we used only as a sofa.  If the sofa bed was in use as a bed, the only way to get to the balcony would be to climb over the bed and the coffee table would have to be moved.  In the corner by the balcony was a desk unit (ice bucket here) that incorporated a shelf for the small TV and another storage shelf on top of it.  In the opposite corner and leading from the entranceway was another unit which composed the vanity with hairdryer and cushioned stool, 3 drawers in addition to counter space for the coffee maker, stocked coffee, tea, and bottled water, and a well-stocked mini-fridge.  In order to use the fridge for your own purposes, you must remove the contents, but be sure to put everything back as you will be charged for the items removed.  Also with this unit is the lighted closet with ample hangers and 6 shelves within for clothes.  There is ample room on the closet floor for luggage storage.  Finally, next to that was the life jacket storage bins and the room safe.  The bathroom was adequate—I liked the faucet in the sink coming out sideways instead of the standard front facing ones.  I don't know if that is standard for all ships.  Our bathroom had a sliding door divider between the toilet and the sink/shower area.  Normally, this would be a great idea, but in this case, it seems wasted because the toilet area is so small that a tall or big person's knee would prevent the sliding door from closing.   I noticed that my niece/nephew's "inside" room did not have this divider in the bathroom resulting in a more comfortable-appearing bathroom layout.  The one disappointment in the bathroom was the lack of supplied toiletries.  The only supplied items were a shower cap and a bottle of lotion.  There was no bar soap (although there was a bar soap holder in the shower).  Sink soap and bath soap was all in liquid form attached to the wall in dispensers.  I'm assuming this is for neatness and economy, but since I did not know this in advance to bring our own, we ended up not having conditioner for our hair and used the liquid bath soap as our shampoo.  We noticed that although there was an ash tray in the bathroom, fortunately, there was no cigarette odor in the cabin from smoke permeating the fabrics like you can find in a "smoking" hotel room. The lighting was ample—in fact, more than I expected.  There were no lamps, but all either recessed or wall lighting.  Headboard globes were great for night reading.  Carpeting in the rooms is whimsical and beach themed with starfish and there was a fish print as art on the wall in shades of blue.  One negative about our room location was the fact that the communal ice chest was situated right outside our door.  This is comparable to having a hotel room right next to the ice dispenseryou hear everyone filling up with ice.  Not bothersome during the day, but it served as a wakeup call in the mornings.  I guess an ice machine on every floor and walking the length of the ship would be too much walking for people.  Placing near the three elevator banks can be a compromise solution.  However, if this is a cruise ship standard, and the locations are always the same, the locations should be noted on ships' deck plans so people can make informed choices at the time of choosing a cabin.           Ship Not having been on another ship with which to compare, I found this ship to be huge and beautiful thus providing many photo ops.  The public areas were all tastefully decorated, yet colorful and fun.  Exploring each deck was an adventure in itself—it takes a while to familiarize yourself with the locations of everything especially since the 3 elevator banks make it more difficult to memorize the direction to turn once off the elevator.    Most of the activities are on Decks 6-7 and 11-14.  The majority of the staterooms are on the decks in-between.  On Deck 6-7, there's the Stardust Theater.  Yes, the theatre spans 2 floors and the stadium style seating provides unobstructed views.  Also on Deck 6 is the Dawn Club Casino, Gatsby's Lounge, and 3 restaurants, Aqua, Le Bistro, and Impressions.  The latter two charge a cover and therefore considered the premium restaurants.  The Venetian restaurant is actually on Deck 6, but the entrance is on Deck 7 and the ocean view is grand since it's in the back of the ship.  Because of its location, movement was more apparent on the rough sea days.  Also on Deck 7 is the Grand Atrium which is especially lovely in the evening when it is lit up with its glass elevators.  The Atrium is the hub where you find the Reception Desk, the Cruise Consultant, and the Shore Excursions Desk.  Although the Internet Cafe is listed as being on Deck 9, it is easier to access that from the Atrium on Deck 7.  It is visible from there and you reach it by walking up the curved staircase.  Internet access is very expensive and I didn't use it, but it is good to know that it is available in case of need.  As you glance up, take note of the stained glass ceilings on the left and right sides.  The remainder of Deck 7 consists of restaurants, shops, and lounges:  Blue Lagoon (looks like a 24 hour fast-food place), Bamboo & Sushi (premium restaurant), Teppanyaki (premium restaurant), Galleria Gift Shop (main shop for souvenirs), Photo Gallery, Java Cafe, Pearly King's Pub, Dazzles Lounge, and Sake Bar. The two places I did not use or visit are the Salsa Restaurant and Bar on Deck 8 and the El Dorado Spa and Salon on Deck 11.  There's an indoor pool and Jacuzzi here along with the sauna and steam bath for an additional charge.  The most festive outdoor part of the ship was by the Oasis pool and Topsiders Bar on Deck 12.  It was always hopping with live music and it is there that the Sail Away poolside barbecues take place.  The hot tubs are also here and were always crowded.  Two blackjack tables by the pool were a nice touch so people can play while getting fresh air instead of being indoors.  The Garden Cafe is on this deck as well; this is the main buffet restaurant on the Dawn offering unobstructed ocean views on both sides.  Also on Deck 12 is the Cinema which is a reduced size movie theater showing films and occasionally live presentations.  To contrast the lively pool area, there are quiet areas on this Deck too.  The Library has a decent selection of books with comfortable chairs; the Shuffles Card Room has card tables set up for cards, Scrabble, checkers, jigsaw puzzles, and provides an assortment of board games.  The Art Gallery has exhibits to stimulate the intellect.  This quiet area was especially popular on the rainy and cool days.  The Fitness Center is also on this Deck and it has a wide variety of equipment and weights.  If you don't work out, you can always dance the night away at the Spinnaker Lounge on this Deck or play Bingo here during the day.  Kids have their own T-Rex pool and with themed slides on the rear (aft) of this deck.  A single coin-operated pool table is near the Garden Cafe.  There is a Chapel on Deck 12 in the front, but I never saw it. Deck 13 is the sports deck with a Golf Driving Net, Shuffleboard, and two human chess boards.  You can do your morning walk on the jogging/walking track here.  The Video Zone (arcade) is also on this deck, but it was disappointingly small with a poor variety of games.  The Kids Center and Teen Center is on this deck as well as the Star Bar and another hot tub which I never visited.  Cagney's Steakhouse is on this deck and is the most expensive of the premium restaurants.  By the way there were ping pong tables, but I seem to recall that they were on one of the lower decks, not 13.  Deck 14 has the Bimini Bar which is outdoors and only open weather permitting along with the basketball/volleyball court (in need of new balls). There are dispensers of hand disinfectants placed all around the ship and at the entrance of every restaurant.  Their visibility and availability is a great idea to promote awareness even though people do not use them all the time.  At the entrance to the buffet, however, there is a crew member stationed with a spray container for a mandatory spritzing of our hands.  I do not know whether this procedure was only implemented after the H1N1 flu outbreak, but it should be continued. Dining As stated earlier, I did not want to be locked into a certain dining time for any meal during vacation.  Also, from all the stories about the enormous amount of food available on a cruise, I was determined not to gain weight from this cruise.  Therefore, on most days, I tried to adhere to my usual two meals a day instead of the continuous food and snacks offered on the cruise.  Basically, there are four sit-down restaurants that are included in your cruise price (Aqua, Venetian, Garden Cafe buffet, and Blue Lagoon Cafe) and 6 premium restaurants that charge a cover that ranges from $10-$25 per person (Cagney's Steakhouse, Le Bistro, Bamboo & Sushi, Teppanyaki, Impressions, and Salsa).  With this large selection, there should be no problem finding a suitable dining location.     Since we did not care for the selections at the Garden Cafe for lunch on embarkation day, we tried the Blue Lagoon for a quick lunch on Monday after searching the deck for New York Deli (as listed in the newsletter) which turned out to be merely the sandwich station of the Garden Cafe!  We thought that was a little deceptive since the way it was listed gave us the impression that it was a separate restaurant, not just a part of the Garden Cafe.  Also, for people who are familiar with authentic NY deli restaurants, this was nowhere near that...it was basically an assortment of cold cuts and breads—not the thick hot corned beef or pastrami sandwiches you expect to see.  By the way, I noticed a separate listing for Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar which I never found either.  I have a feeling it is the ice cream station of the Garden Cafe and I am glad time was not spent searching for a separate ice cream bar named Sprinkles.       Anyway, there's a funny story at Blue Lagoon where we ended up dining that Monday, but it did not end funny.  Because of the limited selections, my son chose chicken tenders and fries and I chose wonton noodle soup.  Normally, wonton noodle soup consists of some wontons and noodles in a bowl of soup.  When the waiter asked me "how many?", I said "one", meaning one order.  Since he gave me a strange look and asked me how many wontons I wanted, I then thought he meant we needed to choose how many pieces of wontons we want in the soup.  So I responded "8 wontons".  When my son ordered his chicken tenders, he was asked "how many?"  We looked at him and said "how many tenders?"  He said "yes".  So not knowing how large those pieces were, I said to order 6 just in case they were the size of small chicken nuggets.  What resulted was they started bringing out 8 cups of soup each with a single wonton and no noodles.  I managed to stop them and took only 1 cup since it was not what I expected anyway.  The soup tasted like flavored salt water.  They started bringing out 6 plates with 2 chicken tenders on each with fries and we ended up taking only 2 plates, but they were able to give the others to other people who ordered them.  Clearly a comedy of errors—the waiter must have been new.  The story turned bad after my son got sick about an hour after eating there, but fortunately, he was better within 24 hours.  The next morning, we made it to the Garden Cafe (buffet) during breakfast hours and enjoyed the breakfast selections much more than their lunch fare so for the rest of the trip, we had a late breakfast instead of lunch at the Garden Cafe.  Except for the long lines at the omelet station, it was quick and tasty since we did not have to wait for service.  They should have more omelet stations to accommodate the crowds.  I was happy that they always had the option of egg whites at the omelet station.  Also, I heard that the waffles were not well done enough even when requested, and that's probably a result of the lines as well.  We never went to the buffet for dinner because there were so many other service restaurants from which to choose.  I walked to the buffet one night at dinner and saw the selections offered.  They were much better at dinner time than at lunch, but I cannot say anything about the taste since I never ate there at dinner.  Although the lunch and dinner selections vary by meal, the buffet menu remains the same each day of the week. For dinner, we started out on our first two nights at the Venetian.  The dEcor of this restaurant is the most elegant of all the non-premium restaurants.  There was no wait for a table for two, but for larger parties, reservations are recommended to save waiting time.  The menu for each restaurant is the same each night, but there is a special unique to each restaurant every night.  As a newbie cruiser, it was strange to be able to order anything you want at a table service restaurant.  In other words, if you prefer 3 appetizers instead of an entrEe or in addition to an entree, you can do that.  If you want multiple desserts, you can do that too.  If you don't like the entrEe after tasting it, you can order something else.  After discovering these options, I wonder why anyone would want to eat in a buffet with lower food quality.  Favorites at the Venetian are the hot shrimp scampi appetizer and the pork medallions entrEe.  My guess is that the buffet caters more to families with kids who may not eat the fancier prepared foods and to people who need to eat in a rush in order to do other things.  The third night, we dined at Aqua which was just as good an experience as Venetian.  The dEcor is totally opposite that of Venetian; Venetian was old world elegance and Aqua was modern lighting with an ocean theme.  While the food was good in both, and the servers were pleasant, the service was a bit slow for my taste and we did not even dine during peak dining times.  We always had dinner after the first show which turned out to be around 8:45.  The advice is to allow plenty of time if you want to eat prior to the shows.  On the days we were in port, we ate dinner in Bermuda (see Port section) because I feel that part of experiencing a new place is eating locally. For the last two dinners, we wanted to try a specialty restaurant (premium) and after reviewing the menus, we decided on Impressions, the Italian Place.  DEcor here is simple and tasteful with Impressionist paintings and murals as decorations.  The waiter here was so wonderful and it was the first time the manager came out and visited each table to check on everyone.  I told him that my only regret was that I did not discover his restaurant earlier on the cruise.  Our experience was so good that we decided to go back on the next night (final night) with the rest of our family.  The manager came out and remembered what I said to him the night before and seemed genuinely happy that I did come back.  Favorites at Impressions was the calamari appetizer, rib eye steak that was done just as asked in an Italian sauce, and tiramisu.  One nice touchthey changed our napkins as soon as they saw that we wore dark slacks.  I asked them why they gave us a dark napkin and their reply was so we wouldn't get lint on our dark slacks—that's a first for me.  We also had two birthday celebrations during our cruise.  The ship gives you a very nicely decorated cake that feeds 6 for each birthday and the staff sings "Happy Birthday," and for anniversary celebrations, they sing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." On Thursday night, there was a Chocoholic Buffet at 10PM which was mobbed way beyond my expectations.  There, the ice sculptures that I understand are traditional at midnight buffets were displayed.  I was not impressed by the quality of the chocolate desserts, but people seemed to be really enjoying themthe variety available was beyond imagination.  Chocolate dipped skewers of fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, and honeydew) are not for me—I'll just stick to strawberries.  I was happy the midnight buffet did not exist on this ship because I think it is just overkill with all the food available during the day.  (I hear it is being, or has been, phased out at other cruise lines too.)  There are even small snack buffets during the day and evening at the casino so you do not have to leave it if you get hungry. Since there is no formal night on this ship, I did not hear of a Captain's Table night dining event.  We were informed that the Captain was dining one afternoon at one of the premium restaurants, but that was all.  Since I favor freestyle cruising, not having this formal night did not affect me at all.  We saw the Captain when the officers and crew were recognized at the end of one of the shows and the Captain was available for pictures on one of the days for those interested.  A lot of people stay away from the premium restaurants because they feel that food is already included in the price of the cruise so why should they pay extra?  I agree with that to a certain extent, but once I ate at Impressions, I could see, feel, and taste the difference.  The extra expense would probably be wasted on families with young children, but for adults, I now feel it is well worth it.  The one change I think NCL should make is that soft drinks should be included in the premium restaurants.  Although I think soft drinks should be included in every meal, it seems to be an industry-wide practice to charge extra for them.  Since the premium restaurants already charge extra to dine, I feel they could absorb the extra $2+ dollars for a soda.  It can get tiring drinking the included iced tea and water every night.  Activities                            There were so many activities from which to choose and not enough time to do all I wanted while trying to get some R&R at the same time.  Thanks to a post of another CC member, I knew to read the "Freestyle Daily" newsletter that is delivered to the room every night from beginning to end.  This gives the schedule of the next day's activities so you can plan your day.  In the event you do not read your newsletter, the Cruise Director, John I. comes on the intercom every morning to announce the major activities they want to promote for the day—usually the ones with extra charges.  His overly cheerful and energetic announcements were welcome to some and irritated others when he kept promising the "pink sand beaches of Bermuda" and wishing everyone a "crackin' crackerjack smashing day".  In all fairness, John did perform his job well since he always seemed to be everywhere on the ship—we don't understand how one can be so full of energy after dancing on deck till wee hours and get up so early to make those announcements—lots of caffeine? Activities ranged from physical activities to quiet activities and from group activities to individual activities so there is something for everyone.  Some of the physical activities are fitness classes, basketball open play, country line dancing, swing dance lessons, soccer open play, and shuffleboard tournaments.  For the adult video game lover, there are adult Wii tournaments including bowling, boxing, and tennis.  For ones who like to learn, there is a large variety of seminars, eg. fragrance, rum, art, collecting, and fitness.  Demonstrations are given in cooking and ice sculpting.  Tastings are also on the agenda.  Bingo is almost a daily routine.  There is even an art auction.  I noticed an emphasis in jewelry and art—perhaps the assumption is made that cruisers have money to invest in these items.  The Cinema shows not first-run, but fairly recent movies throughout the day.  The Casino offers gaming lessons as well as slot, blackjack, and Texas Hold'em tournaments. Because I loved the towel animals on my bed, I attended the towel folding demonstration and was so fascinated I ended up buying the CD on impulse.  Thinking back, how useful is this skill unless work in the field or own a B&B?  I also attended the most interesting Memory Seminar, but I didn't buy the DVD course that was offered since it would probably end up gathering dust on the shelf. The one activity I did not care for was the Pub Crawl which happened twice during the cruise to my knowledge.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, one pays a fee and visits 5 bars with the group in an hour and gets a drink at each bar.  The group is led by a Crawl Master (crew member) and as it travels on the ship from bar to bar, the members raise a ruckus.  The first time I heard it, I thought there was a fight or riot on board.  We were warned that they were coming into the casino (because there was a bar inside) and the group numbered around 100.  This happened during a blackjack tournament and the players could not even hear the dealer's instructions—the noise level was deafening.  Yes, those people are having the time of their lives, but at the same time, they should stay within their areas and not be disruptive to others who are in the midst of enjoying other activities.  Service As I mentioned previously, service tended to be slow in the restaurants, but the servers were always pleasant.  The problem may not be with the servers, but with the kitchen.  I did not order room service at all so I do not know whether that was quicker.  The service in the premium restaurant seemed quicker maybe due to the smaller size of the place and therefore fewer people.  Room stewards and stewardesses were friendly and efficient.  They seem to be much quicker in making up the room than hotel housekeeping services.  The nightly turn down service with chocolate and the towel animal was a nice touch.  I missed seeing 2 animals because on the first 2 nights, we had the "do not disturb" sign on.  This was a result of tips for hotel stays when put the sign up to give the impression that someone is in the room in order to prevent theft.  On a cruise ship, be sure not to put the "do not disturb" on unless you want to miss your chocolate and towel animal.  Crew members were friendly and helpful—you are always greeted as they pass you in the halls.  On our first day, we noticed that our room was unusually cold.  Wearing a sweater in the public areas is fine, but the room was too cold for sleep comfort.  We found that the thermostat was broken since we tried the warmest setting and then no fan, and cold air was still blowing out of the vent.  When I went downstairs to report this, they sent someone up right away—in fact he was there before we walked back to the room.  Apparently, there is a sensor on the balcony frame and the balcony door was off its track (I was wondering why the door was so hard to open and close).  He got it back on track, opened the thermostat, adjusted it with his computer, and we were comfy for the rest of the trip. The captain kept us informed in advance when there was going to be rougher sailing.  We had two days of that; barf bags were placed all over the ship in the public areas, but I did not notice anyone needing to use it (at least not in public). Entertainment     In addition to almost continuous music of various styles throughout the ship in the lounges, there was different entertainment in the Stardust Theater every night with two shows per night.  The lounges had singers and musicians playing tributes to various artists such as the Beatles, Motown, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Elton John, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkel, and male crooners. There were also game shows throughout the week and karaoke, but we did not get a chance to attend any of them. We liked going to the earlier show at the Stardust as it was less crowded and we were able to get great seats closer to show time rather than sit in the theater and wait for half an hour.  There were eight different evening shows and we attended 6-1/2 of them.  We missed half of the Crew Talent show due to a dinner reservation conflict on our final night.  What we saw of the talent show impressed us.  Our favorite shows were the 70s show (Band on the Run) and the Bollywood show.  We felt that the Gleason Magic show of illusions was not as entertaining as his daytime Closeup Magic Show with cards earlier in the week.  The illusions were typical of the ones you see in Vegas, nothing different.  If you go for the "staged" illusions, then you will enjoy Gleason's evening show—for me, the "closeup" card tricks are more amazing and Gleason does some I have never seen before.  The first show was the most disappointing because it was entirely presented by comedian Dave Heenan who, in our opinion, was not particularly funny.  We could tell our sentiments were shared by hearing the comments of others leaving the theatre.  He appears again at the Farewell show together with magician Greg Gleason where he presents some funnier lines.  Do not let any disappointment of the first show keep you from attending the rest of the shows—each show is different and they get better! Port      After a rough Tuesday at sea, it was nice to open the curtains to see land, King's Wharf and Royal Naval Dockyard.  We slept through the docking.  However, after hearing our Cruise Director John repeatedly telling us about the "pink sand beaches of BERMUDA", it was disappointing to see the overcast skies and torrential downpours later in the day.  Our cabin was located on the starboard side of the ship and for the next 2 days, we were able to watch all the action on land from our balcony.  To prepare for this trip, I had requested information from the Bermuda Tourism office and had made a list of the "must-sees" in the 2-1/2 days we were there.  I had been told that the shore excursions booked through the ship are considerably more expensive than ones you can book on your own since the ship has to profit on these and you're also paying for the convenience of having it done for you.  The only shore excursion we considered was the 5 hour Bermuda Island Tour by bus which would have given us an overview of the island.  However, by the time I inquired about this, it was already booked up for the first day.  There were openings for the second day, but we opted not to do it because that would have defeated the purpose of taking it because we would not have time to revisit in depth the sites we liked on the tour (the few stops on the tour were short in length).  It turned out to be a wise choice because we got to cover everything we really wanted to cover by purchasing a 3-day transportation pass for $28.  As our itinerary turned out, we really only needed a two day pass.  The only thing lacking was the expert commentary of a tour guide.  Getting on and off the ship daily was quick and painless as long as your passport and room key was presented. Bus stops in Bermuda are not always easily visible.  The more popular ones are market by gray stone huts and a pole painted pink or blue to show the direction.  Others are only marked with the painted pole which can be easily missed.  If you are from the U.S., crossing the street may take some getting used to since Bermudans drive on the right side and I found myself constantly looking in the wrong direction for traffic.         First Day in Bermuda (Wednesday) After purchasing the transportation passes, we headed for the ferry to Hamilton (capital).  Once in Hamilton, we took a short walk to the Customs House where we got our passports stamped—it is the only place where they stamp them in Bermuda.  We walked briefly around the streets of Hamilton towards the main bus depot which turned out to be merely a street lined with the various buses, not a building that I was expecting.  This is their hub.  We took the #1 bus to Crystal Caves where we took a most enjoyable and informative guided tour down to the depths of the cave...great photo ops in here.  If you like caves, and have the time, visit both Crystal and Fantasy Caves at a combo admission price—the formations are different inside.  After the caves, we continued by bus to St. George at the other end of Bermuda.  The bus route passes scenic areas such pastel colored homes and golf courses.  Unfortunately, the rain came down heavily as soon as we arrived at St. George so even with hastily purchased rain ponchos, it was not very pleasant walking around.  We ended up seeing the historic St. Peter's Church only from the outside and King's Square with its stock and pillory from inside a gift shop.  We missed the Unfinished Cathedral.  Experiencing a Bermudan "afternoon tea" would have been nice too, but we did not have the time after waiting out the rain.    From St. George, we took the bus back to Hamilton and dined at the well-known Hog Penny on pub fare such as fish and chips and Bermudan onion rings served on a whimsical sailboat dish while waiting for the weekly Wednesday Summer Evening Festival on Front Street.  After dinner, we were disappointed to discover that the festival was cancelled due to the heavy rain earlier in the day.  They could have had it had they known that it would be sunny and clear by evening.  Since all of the stores along Front Street were either closed or closing, it was back to King's Wharf on the ferry.  We were surprised that the Front Street stores closed so early especially during tourist season.    Second Day in Bermuda (Thursday)  This was our only completely sunny day on the islands and the 100 percent humidity made it really sticky hot even though the temperature was only in the 80s.  We took advantage of the weather to max out our sightseeing along the scenic south shore.  First we took the #7 bus to Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.  In the hot sun, it was quite a trek up the hill from the bus stop to the base of the lighthouse.  Then, the 185 steps to the top made the climb worthwhile because it was so cool and windy at the top and the 360 degree view on a clear day was breathtaking.  Our next stop was to check out a pink sand beach on the south shore and we chose to sample the famous Horseshoe Bay Beach.  Being from the northeast, our beaches always have broken shells among other "stuff" mixed in with the sand and the water is never clear, so the pure soft sands of Horseshoe Bay with the beautiful turquoise water crashing among the rocks which formed calm coves were a sight to behold.  From a distance, you really do not see the pink, but if you look closely, you will see the pink granules and we were able to zoom in for photo verification.  We even got a special treat of seeing a lifeguard pull a man-of-war out of the surf with its stinger longer than I ever imagined it could be.  After walking the entire beach, we were hot and exhausted so we took the "best $2 ride" in a van up the hill to the bus stop and got some interesting tid-bits of island information from the driver on the way up the hill.    Hopping back on the bus, we continued on the south shore until the end of the line and transferred to the next bus to cover the rest of the island including some golf courses and ending at St. George where we were able to see the sites we missed the previous day due to the rain.  Returning to King's Wharf from St. George by ferry gave us the longest of the ferry rides (45 minutes) and from the top deck, you get the sea spray along with wonderful views of the north side of Bermuda.  Since this was our final night in Bermuda, we decided to dine locally at the Frog and Onion pub in Dockyard.  This pub's dEcor is very unusual and historical.  We could not leave Bermuda without trying their famous fish chowder.  Not being a fish soup type, I was leery of it, but it turned out to be pretty tasty.  Word of warning—the waitress gave us a bottle of sherry pepper sauce to mix in with the chowder and I am grateful that we tasted it before pouring it—that's all I am going to say.  Needless to say, we did not use it at all after tasting it and the waitress thought our horrified reaction was amusing!    Third Day in Bermuda (Friday)  We planned to stay close to the ship on this last partial day since we didn't want to miss the ship due to any transportation delays.  Therefore, we saved this day to explore the Royal Naval Dockyard area on foot and do our souvenir shopping.  It rained again around noon, but we anticipated that and had our ponchos with us.  We spent the most time visiting Dockyard Glassworks and Bermuda Rum Cake Company.  At Glassworks, there is a demonstration of glassblowing and the items of all price ranges are for sale.  If you buy glass figures with a local legend behind them, you are given the legend on paper at the time of purchase.  At Rum Cake, you can taste the various flavors to your heart's content before deciding on your purchase (chocolate and traditional were my favorites).  The cakes come in various sizes and they are more costly than the brands sold on the ship and elsewhere, but you should buy the real thingmade with Gosling's rum. We also stopped by Snorkel Park, a free beach area which really seemed to be out of place in the fortress environment of Dockyard.  However, it is the only place within walking distance from the ship if you want a last minute beach experience.  We stumbled upon it during our walk since it was not advertised anywhere and wonder whether this is a locals' place.  It was like an oasis in the middle of a shopping area.  While we are on the topic, my nephew took a Shore Excursion to go Snuba since the rest of us were not interested.  As evident by the word, it is a cross between snorkeling and scuba with no experience necessary.  He had a good experience, but thought the training period took longer than the actual time under water.  He thought the oxygen supply should have lasted longer.  I had not planned to go to Dolphin Quest because I had already done a dolphin encounter in the Florida Keys years ago, but since it was in the area, I thought that I could just get a glimpse of these lovable mammals from the outside since I had not seen any in the ocean on the sail down.  No chance—you cannot see anything from the outside, so do not bother walking in that direction unless you are planning to pay to enter.  We also stopped at Bermuda Clayworks, Makin' Waves (chain souvenir shop), and Dockyard Pharmacy which is more of a souvenir shop too.  This pharmacy has the cheapest bottled water to be found in the area if you need some for the rest of your trip.  (I drink the ship's water during meals, but prefer our own bottled water in the room and to carry around.  On this last morning in Bermuda, I wanted to fill a bottle up with the ship's water from the buffet since we were running low.  We found black pieces of ? in the water coming out from the water dispenser.  This was the only time we found this during the cruise, but it made us go out looking for bottled water.)  If time permitted, we would have visited the Craft Market, the Clocktower Shopping Mall and possibly the Commissioner's House.  We considered the Segway tour of the Dockyard area which would have included the Commissioner's House, but the idea of wearing a helmet in such humidity was not appealing.  Instead, for a final overview prior to departure, we took the cute white free shuttle train from the wharf and stayed on without getting off for a round trip around Dockyard.  Back on board the Dawn, there was another lively Sail Away party on the pool deck complete with barbecue.  Disembarkation     Disembarkation was timely and efficient.  We picked up color coded luggage tags Saturday according to the time we wanted to depart the next morning starting from 8AM through 10:10AM.  Our customs declaration form was left by our door the previous evening.  We opted for the yellow tags which were the latest departure to allow for a more leisurely breakfast.  Luggage was left outside the door by 1AM the previous night for pick up.  Sunday morning, disembarkation was announced by color.  Customs clearance was simple—separate lines for U.S. citizens and othersthe only question asked of us was whether we brought back liquor or cigarettes which we did not and we were free to go.  The key here is to be honest in your declaration and not bring back any forbidden items. Summary My first cruise was a very enjoyable experience except for the two days of rough seas, but that was out of NCL's control.  Walking around wobbly is not enjoyable, but at least our group managed not to get sick all the way.  The small staterooms take some getting used to when compared to hotel rooms.  I would appreciate seeing stateroom comparisons to those of other cruise lines.  There were only five negatives that can be fixed easily:  1) Eliminate the pub crawl or at least, if it is a popular money-making activity for the ship, stop only in outdoor bars where the noise level would be less disruptive, 2) ideally only allow smoking at the casino bar, or at least have non-smoking tables in the casino—one can move from a slot machine to avoid smoke easier than one can move in the midst of a table game when a smoker joins a table and blows smoke in your face, 3) have more toiletries available such as shampoo and conditioner or at least inform the passengers of what is included so we can bring what we need, 4) eliminate the $25 minimum Seabucks redemption policy—not everyone is rich enough to go on another cruise within 18 months—setting the redemption limit to none or a lower amount may be generate a little less revenue for NCL, but would foster greater good will with the passengers to make them feel that at least they got something back for all the money they "donated".  After all, Vegas casinos apply credit to bills for much less than $25, and 5) eliminate the soft drink beverage charge at premium restaurants. Bermudans are friendly and go out of their way to be helpful.  A map, bus and ferry schedule is a must and will easily get you around.  The streets of Bermuda are immaculate—there are horse-drawn carriages, but I never saw or smelled any waste.  Items are expensive compared to New York pricesprobably a result of Bermuda being an island and isolated.  Restaurants tend to be more expensive than what you can find in New York as well.  Weather was much more humid than we expected—very much like a Florida summerI expected cool winds blowing in from the water even during the sunny days.  I give the bus drivers kudos for their skill at driving so speedily on the winding roads—I do not think I saw a straight road except for the downtown area of Hamilton and even then, when the roads were straight, a lot of streets were slanted and hilly like San Francisco.      For the overall experience, the Dawn was a great choice for my son and me because of its freestyle atmosphere.  Some other veteran cruisers in our group preferred the traditional cruise with set dining and formal nights.  All interaction with crew was positive.  The public areas on the ship were always clean—always noticed someone vacuuming.  My answers to my friends' questions, "When is your next cruise?" and "Will you go on another cruise?" are "I don't know yet" and "Yes, I would try another one because I love the cruise experience (travelling as a group, but separating as you wish for activities), but without the feeling of constant movement on the bad days."  I welcome feedback—I thought the Dawn was huge, but how much less movement would an even larger ship have? 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Sail Date July 2009
Ship: Norwegian Dawn is a beautiful ship. Me, my husband, and 2 of my kids sailed on her from July 5,2009 till July 12, 2009 and all of us had an enjoyable time! There was no mess on the Dawn. She was clean, and cleaners cleaned it EVERY ... Read More
Ship: Norwegian Dawn is a beautiful ship. Me, my husband, and 2 of my kids sailed on her from July 5,2009 till July 12, 2009 and all of us had an enjoyable time! There was no mess on the Dawn. She was clean, and cleaners cleaned it EVERY day, trying to work hard!Embarkation: We don't live that far from Manhattan, NY. We just drove their by car, and it took us about 40 min to get their. We didn't have a really long wait. We got into the port and they gave us a number card, so you should hold on to it until they call your number. We just had to wait about 20 min for that. Then they called our number and let us in the ship. The cabins weren't ready till 2 pm so we had to go eat lunch, then come back at 2 pm.Cabin: When we got into our Ocean-view cabin, our luggage's weren't their yet, so we just looked at our cabin, then took a tour around the cruise which was beautiful! (The cabin was VERY neat and clean)Pool: Pool was okay. There were pieces of hair in the pool, but I didn't mind. There were 2 pools, and 4 Jacuzzis which was great. In the pool deck, they had showers if you wanted to just go inside and shower with your swimming suit.Buffet: The morning breakfast buffet was amazing! In the mornings they serve... cereal with milk (any type of milk.. chocolate milk, and regular milk, etc..), they also served pancakes, omelets with any type of ingredients you want on it and it took less than 3 min. They also had different types of fruits, and desert cakes. For lunch in the buffet, they served salmon fish/fried fish, soups, salads, macaroni, fried chicken, and more...Restaurants: If you were hungry in the middle of the day and all the restaurants/buffets were closed, you can go visit "Blue Lagoon" and enjoy french fries with chicken there. We loved Venetian Restaurant. We went their for 5 days, then we went to an Aqua Restaurant, but that restaurant was not so good. Ports: We had 1 island just for 3 days, Kings Wharf, Bermuda, which was okay, but it rained there for 1 day. The 1st day of the island, we caught a bus, and went to the beach. The 2nd day, we went to the Bermuda Mall which was okay. 3rd day, it rained but we still went out of the cruise and just took a tour to the museum, then aquarium.The service in this ship was okay. In our cabin, we had neighbors next door, that had a Suite, with about 40 people. They didn't let us sleep at ALL, so we complained, and also called those neighbors, and told them to keep it down a little, but I guess that didn't help. They constantly kept running, jumping, yelling, and banging on the walls.All in all, this was a wonderful cruise week. I recommend this cruise to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Background Information My wife, 15 year old son and I just got back from a wonderful cruise upon the Norwegian Dawn.  It was my 10th cruise (7th NCL) and my wife's 7th cruise (4th NCL).  We've also been on Royal Caribbean, ... Read More
Background Information My wife, 15 year old son and I just got back from a wonderful cruise upon the Norwegian Dawn.  It was my 10th cruise (7th NCL) and my wife's 7th cruise (4th NCL).  We've also been on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Princess.  Generally, we look for the adventure cruise.  We like to climb, dive, snorkel and go horseback riding.  As for the ship, good entertainment is a must as is an enjoyable dining experience. Travel To Port of Embarkation We drove to the Port of Manhattan on Sunday morning, not expecting any traffic.  We arrived at the terminal at 11:30, in exactly the amount of time predicted by Google Maps.  Directed to park on the roof, security cleared us, asked us to unload our luggage and park.  By the time I got from the car to where my wife and son were waiting with the luggage, the luggage that had already been taken by the porters.  Very efficient.  We then went downstairs to the check-in lines.  There were plenty of people to direct us very quickly through the entire process.  We practically ran the whole way from the parking lot to the ship.  I've never gone through this process as fluidly.  Amazing.  The only downside was that parking was $210 for the week.  However, considering that we did not have to fly, it was a bargain. As an added bonus, our luggage was in our stateroom in about an hour and a half. Thank you to all of the folks that worked so hard to make this experience great! Stateroom We had a room with a window.  It wasn't the biggest room, but it wasn't the smallest I've been in.  There were 6 drawers and a number of well laid-out shelves.  The room was excellently maintained.  It was clean and definitely didn't look warn.  The only issue was that the draw slides squeaked...loudly.  I can't complain at all about this.  However, my wife and son can since they were the ones that were woken up at 6 AM when I went into the drawer the first day for my gym clothes.  After that, I made sure to set the clothes out the night before. Ship Info This was a fantastic ship.  It was so obvious that the maintenance crew worked above and beyond to keep the ship crisp and stunning.  We were on the very similar Norwegian Spirit a couple of years back and found the two ships to be very similar.  The Spirit was decorated in a classier manner, but the layouts on both were similar and mostly easy.  The Dawn's ornamentation had a very fun feel to it, punctuated with Andy Warhol prints and Caribbean blues.  It was however severely missing well placed floor maps near the elevators and stairwells.  Instead the ship used a list of locations with arrows.  Another thing that seemed to be missing from the Dawn was a symbol system that easily identified which side of the ship you were on.  Some ships have patterns in the carpeting or wall coverings that point to the front of the ship.  Between the symbols and good signage, you never have a problem turning the wrong way.  The Dawn lacked both but was still fairly easy to figure out. Dining The food really was good...very good.  As (almost) always, NCL did a great job on the presentation and the flavor of the food.  I did have one piece of steak that was overcooked.  But I was tired and did not feel the need to send it back. The breakfast menu was a standard cruise breakfast menu.  We tried to start out our day in the dining room so we could do at least one thing as a family. We were not particularly impressed with the lunch menu.  In fact, there really wasn't anything on it that was any good.  The first day, I was severely disappointed by the cheese-steak.   I am sure the chef has never been to South Philly.  And, if he ever goes there, he should hang his head in shame.  The rest of the menu wasn't much better.  I was shocked at how bad the cheesecake was until someone pointed out that it was the no-sugar-added cheesecake.  It wasn't bad for a no-sugar-added cheesecake...but still nowhere near worth it. As for dinner, I had Surf and Turf almost every night.  Not because I wanted to, but because it was about the only thing on the menu that I would eat.  NCL was experimenting with a new concept: one menu in each of the two main dining rooms that doesn't change all week.  Yes, the Venetian and Aqua had different menus, but not all that different.  Once you take out the pork, fish and lamb dishes (I eat none of them), there were only 4 entrees to choose from on each menu...and one of those was macaroni and cheese.  They did have a chef's special that changed, but it was one item, the same for both dining rooms and almost always fish.  I don't generally eat fish.  I found two things on each menu that kind of excited me for a total of four dishes.  But, what was I supposed to do on day 5?  Get bored.  Yes, bored with ship food.  That has NEVER happened to me in the past.  I know, there was an easy solution.  But we don't like going to the specialty restaurants.  We like going to the main dining rooms.  We usually get to know the waiters pretty quickly and like the formal atmosphere.  We also delight in opening the menu each night and knowing that it will be unique and different.  I can get better Tex-Mex or sushi here at home for less money.  For example, their French Restaurant (Le Bistro) is an extra 15 a person...unless you want steak or lobster.  If so, add another 15 a person.  Yes, 30 bucks.  I've done the specialty restaurants before and thought that the experience wasn't the traditional cruise experience that I liked (but without time constraints thanks to the Freestyle concept). I know I am not the only person who is hoping (praying, wishing, begging) for this experiment to fail.  Most of the people with whom I spoke (and I spoke with a LOT of people) agreed with me. Activities Wow, have these come a long way.  My wife and I usually do the wine tasting and on Celebrity ships, we always go to the lectures.  But, now the lectures are on NCL...but BETTER!!!  The Second City comedy group was running the lectures.  They were fantastic.  Too bad that was their last week on the ship.  I hope they are bringing on a replacement group.  As for the alcohol classes, they had martini tasting, beer tasting and so many more.  In addition, the ship's magician also ran an "improve your memory" seminar (which I forgot to go to).  The sports activities were also great.  They were plentiful and varied.  They even had adult dodge ball.  Don't ask how this went down.  It wasn't pretty.  And, they held a pub crawl where they encouraged people to get absolutely blitzed, but provided chaperones so they were funny to watch, but left the other passengers alone.  Maybe I should have included "watching the pub crawl" under entertainment?  Either way, NCL really did a great job here. Children's Clubs This was one of the better programs I have seen on a ship.  I was particularly impressed with two counselors who were nick-named Popsicle and Crocodile.  Yes, they went by those names regardless of the age group with which they worked.  I asked why they didn't change names when working with the older kids.  Apparently, NCL switches their assignments with some regularity.  This is great for the counselors since it gives them a wide range of experiences.  It is so difficult to get good people for this role.  Crocodile had just graduated with a teaching degree.  I know the cruise lines don't pay well.  However, a varied experience is so much more valuable when creating that resume.  Kudos to NCL for treating their counselors well and to the counselors who did such a great job with the kids.  And, I'd like to thank the fantastic counselors who led the littlest of tykes around the ship singing.  I know it wasn't intended as entertainment for us adults, but it really was nice to see. Service Impeccable.  I guess that is not enough of a review of the service...but it is as accurate as you can get.  I don't gauge service by the proximity to a perfect experience.  I like to see mistakes.  It is how the crew fixes their errors that shows the quality of the service.  The crew of the Dawn rose to every "occasion" that was tossed our way.  Questions: easily answered.  Missing buffet silverware: immediately brought right to us.  Lack of towels: resolved (with two phone calls, but still resolved). We did have a few issues.  I had to talk to the head of housekeeping (or whatever it is called on a ship) about the towel animals.  We really appreciated them when left on the bed, but wish they would have used clean, DRY towels.  Once spoken to, we did not have another issue.  We also didn't get another towel animal. Entertainment NCL always delivers in this category.  The song and dance numbers were impressive; even more so when you consider that the ship was constantly moving.  You have to consider that then stage is limited in size and that there is not much room to store and swap sets.  But, with that in mind, the acrobats out-did themselves and the dancers always delighted the crowds with their prowess and costumes. The comedian (Dave Heenan) could not have been better.  He controlled the stage, interacted flawlessly with the audience, was personable and interactive with the guests (outside the show) and was even immensely funny.  We had been on another cruise with him in the past, were overjoyed to see he was on the Dawn and were most definitely not let down. Port & Shore Excursions We always book excursions while in port.  We like knowing that the ship will wait if an NCL sponsored trip is late.  The extra expense is well worth it if you consider it as insurance.  However, being that we were on Bermuda for several days and did not have to worry about the ship sailing into the sunset (while we watched from the shore), we primarily scheduled our own activities. I went Scuba Diving with Blue Water Divers and had a fantastic time.  The divemasters were phenomenal.  While diving, my wife and son went to Snorkel Park (in walking distance of the pier) and had a wonderful time.  It wasn't the best snorkeling, but it was just right for them. We also got bus/ferry passes and visited the Aquarium and Crystal Caves.  These were very nice and are well worth seeing.  One thing to note is that you don't need to do both caves.  The Crystal Cave is the best of the two.  Fantasy Cave is not really necessary for your trip...unless you are a geologist and want a more unique, humid cave exhibiting less common formations.  It is just not as much of a "typical" cave. My wife and son did book the Rising Son Catamaran excursion through NCL and were most happy that they did.  The excursion provided snorkel gear and even kayaks.  The boat was clean and well maintained.  The crew made their experience memorable. Disembarkation As usual, I was awake and out of the room by 6:30 AM...even though we set the clocks ahead the night before.  I spent my morning on the deck of the Dawn, watching the ship glide effortlessly past the New York City skyline.  If you've never returned to the US in this manner, you absolutely have to change your plans to do so.  Watching the buildings slowly rise and the Statue of Liberty pass on the port side is awe inspiring.  This is intensified if your ancestors came into this country via Ellis Island.  It was all there. Getting off the ship was perfect.  I really am impressed with the Manhattan facilities.  Our luggage was easy to find and the Customs line wasn't even all that bad.  Getting to our car and subsequently out of the city was also very easy.  However, about an hour after getting on the road (we had a 3 hour trip), we were already hungry...and there was no buffet in site. Summary This was one of the BEST cruises I've ever been on...or at least it would have been if the evening menu was not so boring, bland and distasteful.  As of right now, this menu is only on the Dawn.  However, they want to roll it out to the rest of the fleet.  Unfortunately, we are already booked on the Spirit out of New Orleans early next year.  If not, I would not book it until I knew that the experimental menu was not going to be used. If you've never been on a cruise before, I am sure the new menu (the most popular items, but same items every night) would be interesting and maybe even exciting.  After all, you can get surf and turf every night.  However, for those of us that cruise regularly, it will not be so desirable. Think of it this way:  I was just on a cruise and now, in 6 months I have to spend a week eating the same things?  I know what I didn't like.  I know what I'm going to be forced to eat.  If they varied the menu and I didn't like what was on the menu that night (it has happened before), then there is always tomorrow.  This time, tomorrow was today.  I've never before wanted to go to the buffet for dinner. NCL, if you are reading this, please abandon the menu experiment.  I had recently made the decision that we were going to stay with NCL for most future cruises (we still want to try Disney).  But, if the menus will be that boring in the future...well, there is always Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My wife and I are 50+ and our son is 21 with down syndrome generally speaking we were pleased with our first cruise on NCl.I will start with the positives and get to the negatives later.Embarkation:     This went very smoothly. We were ... Read More
My wife and I are 50+ and our son is 21 with down syndrome generally speaking we were pleased with our first cruise on NCl.I will start with the positives and get to the negatives later.Embarkation:     This went very smoothly. We were with a group and arrived by bus at 1:45. We were completely through the process and in our cabin by 2:15 with champagne and OJ in hand.The staff involved in embarkation were very friendly and helpful.cabin:   We had a minisuite on deck 11 aft. The cabin wasn't the largest we've stayed in but was large enough for the three of us. We had a queen size bed for the two of us and my son had the pull out couch which was fine for him. The bathroom was average in size but had a tub-shower and toilet that were separated by sliding doors. My son brought his portable DVD player with DVDs but only used it twice.The TV had two movie channels which my son used often.Our cabin steward was Marlon. He was very friendly and did his best to meet our needs. We always had ice without asking. He cleared out the minifridge so we could fill it with our soda.The balcony was small but I really enjoyed sitting out on the balcony with coffee and a novel.Entertainment:    We didn't catch all the shows but found the shows we did see to be excellent.The dancers,singers,comics,magician all did a fantastic job. Don't miss Fountains, this was our favorite all week. We did participate in the bingo sessions and actually won two bingos.Other reviewers complain of the high cost. The lowest price package was $34 and the highest varied between $89 and $124.What kept us coming back to the sessions was Sinon(Bingo Boy). He was very entertaining.  The casino was a lot of fun the blackjack tables had $5 and $10 minimums as well as larger amounts.My wife loved the slots and did quite well.The dealers and staff were very friendly.   We went to the Spinnaker lounge at night. The music was great. My son loves to dance and he doesn't care if it's with someone else or by himself.He was often stopped by fellow cruisers saying Oh you're the dancer.   Shona was the CD.She was very friendly.She was able to get people involed with out being pushy.Dining:    We ate most dinners in the Venetian.We found the food to be good to very good.We ate at the Garden Cafe and found the food selection and quality to be good for a buffet. Because we had a balcony cabin we were able to eat breakfast in the Aqua restaurant.We found this to be exceptional.We also ate several times at the Blue Lagoon. This was a comfort food venue so the food was typical for fast food places. We didn't eat at the extra chge restaurants but my sister-in-law ,who was with our group,did and she really liked Cagney's.    There were some negatives that took place on the cruise. The biggest one happened our first day in Bermuda. My wife fell and broke her wrist. We walked right back to the ship to the infirmary. The staff did a great job but because of the break we had to go to the ER in Bermuda. We spent our first day there. the staff at the ER were great.The Doctor wanted to operate but said we could wait until we got home.They put her in a soft cast. My wife will be operated on tomorrow. This was one of the reasons we didn't eat in any of the pay restaurants.The second day we stayed on board and relaxed by the pool.The third day in Bermuda we walked around King"s Wharf and visited the shops. Although we missed the beaches this was our 9th trip to Bermuda so we had been there before.   The only other major negative was having to wait in line to dine. The most convenient time for us to dine was at 6:30.There was always a line.There has to be a better way.Maybe using a beeper .They wouldn't let you make reservations until after 8 PM.They did try to push the pay restaurants so that it felt that if you wanted better food you should eat there.   All in all, the ship was beautiful and spotless and the crew and staff great but we prefer regular dining over the freestyle.         Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
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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