I am a 20 year old female traveling with my parents (in their
40's), my sister (15), my brother (13), and my boyfriend (19). This
was my first Norwegian cruise though I have sailed on Carnival 3
times and Celebrity once.
June 15, 2008 -- Day 1 I live in Philadelphia, PA, just two
short hours from NYC so we had a limo pick us up at our house and
drive us to the port. We didn't hit any traffic and got to the port
at about 1:00.
Embarkation went very smoothly, and was perhaps the best
embarkation of all the cruises I have been on thus far. However, it
seemed that we moved along quickly because guests staying in
balconies and mini-suites were ushered to the front, and onto the
boat, while I saw a lot of other people sitting in chairs waiting
for numbers to be called. Luckily, we were staying in a balcony so
we were onto the boat quite quickly.
Our pictures were taken for our key cards and all those under
the age of 21 had a corner of their card snipped off, so that they
not purchase alcohol. However, with parental permission guests
under the age of 21 are able to purchase beer or wine after going
to the front desk and getting a new card. My parents and I tried to
do this, but were told that I would only be able to purchase wine
or beer, whereas I was hoping to be able to get cocktails, etc. My
parents and I decided to let it go, and whenever I wanted to order
a drink, used their card. It wasn't a big deal.
We were greeted with free champagne or orange juice as we
arrived on the boat, so that was a nice touch.
We went straight to lunch at the Venetian, as some other cruise
reviewers had suggested. I would definitely recommend doing this as
well, because there was no wait, as many people did not know the
dining room was open. Most people headed straight to the buffet.
The Venetian is huge with a great view of the ocean. It's a
beautiful dining room with very nice murals on the wall. Our waiter
Orville was great, and the food was excellent. We especially
enjoyed the chilled banana soup and the American club sandwich.
After lunch, we purchased soda cards. I would definitely
recommend buying a card if you are an avid soda drinker or prefer
drinks other than iced tea and water because that's pretty much all
that was on the boat for free. I was surprised that there was no
lemonade as I had often seen on other cruises. One thing I will say
about the soda cards though, is that the bartenders are not happy
when they see that little sticker on your card because they do not
make any money off of it, like they do when you purchase a
We also made reservations at Cagney's Steakhouse for the
following night with no problem.
Then we went to check out our staterooms. As I mentioned, we had
a balcony. My sister, boyfriend and I shared one room that
connected with my parents and my brother. The rooms were a bit
smaller than we were used to from previously cruising with Carnival
but they were big enough. My sister and I shared a bed which was
actually two twin beds pushed together, and my boyfriend slept on a
couch that pulled out into a bed. The couch was extremely hard and
uncomfortable though, and my boyfriend mentioned that a few times
throughout the trip. One complaint I have about the rooms was that
there was not enough drawer space.
After checking out our rooms we decided to take a walk around
the ship. There was a BBQ outside as we prepared to leave NYC. We
were set to leave at 4:00 but left 2.5 hours late. We were told it
was because we were, "waiting for necessary supplies" later which I
found out was toilet paper.
While we were out walking we met the cruise director John
Ibrahim, who was very friendly and went out of his way to say hello
to my sister and I.
The boat finally left and we saw some very nice views of the
Statue of Liberty.
Later that evening, we decided to try out the Blue Lagoon, whose
wings got rave reviews on many of the sites I read before my trip,
but I was not impressed by them. I did enjoy the chicken fingers
though. One thing that confuses me about the blue lagoon is why it
is a sit-down restaurant. I think it would do much better as a
buffet, because the servers there were not very pleasant and often
mixed up orders. As it is comfort food I think it would make sense
to let people take as much or as little as they want, as the
portions were kind of small.
We went to the Welcome Aboard show which featured a few of the
different musicians and entertainers on the boat. We also listened
to the comedy of Dave Heenan, who was pretty funny, although
We were hoping to get dinner after the show but were told that
the dining rooms were closed. We were upset because it was only
10:15 and the Freestyle Daily told us that the dining rooms were
open until "whenever."
June 16, 2008 -- Day 2 (Day at Sea) Because we did not get to
the breakfast buffet before 10:00 AM there was only one line open
and the line was very long. I didn't understand why there are 4
buffet lines with only one open. The food was okay.
It is extremely difficult to get chairs by the pool. My dad and
brother woke up at 7:00 AM on a day at sea to try to get seats by
the pool, or in the stadium seating area, and it was already
filled! We always managed to find a few chairs on Deck 13 though.
There was really no entertainment going on near the pool, which
surprised me. Usually there are games and contests, and the pool is
a center of activity. However, not on the Dawn.
I was also disappointed that there was no soft-serve ice cream
machine like on Carnival. There is an ice cream place called
Sprinkles with a server, but the ice cream is not soft-serve and is
not open after 3:00 PM. Very odd.
I would recommend buying a souvenir cup for drinks because if
you carry it around with you and use it whenever you buy a drink,
you get $2 off your bill, which we definitely took advantage of.
The Dawn didn't have as many drink options as some other cruises
but I enjoyed the classic Margarita.
There is only one main pool and there are 4 hot tubs all of
which are very nice.
One thing I love about cruises is the formal pictures. However,
on the Dawn the layout is very strange. Instead of having a walkway
for people to get through, the set for the picture takes up the
whole area, and people either have to wait until you're finished
taking a picture or walk through, which many rudely did.
The show was excellent tonight. We enjoyed Gleason Magic. He was
truly incredible, though he tried very hard to sell his DVD's the
entire cruise, which was a bit annoying.
Then we headed to Cagney's for dinner which was really nothing
special and definitely not worth the extra charge. The service
wasn't spectacular either. Attached to Cagney's is the Star Bar
with an excellent pianist though.
After dinner, we found ourselves bored, and looked in the daily
and saw that there really were no activities going on at night. I
June 17, 2008 -- Day 3 (Day at Sea) Today we just laid by the
pool and relaxed.
We attended an afternoon memory seminar by the magician Greg
Gleason who is also a memory expert. He was impressive, but once
again used all his time trying to sell his DVD.
We went to dinner at Aqua, which is the other dining room. It is
smaller than the Venetian and more intimate. I loved the sparkling
lights on the ceiling.
We saw the show Band on the Run featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Co.
which was FABULOUS. I absolutely loved the singers and dancers, and
their shows were truly professional and amazing.
Later, we went and watched family karoke.
June 18, 2008 -- Day 4 (Bermuda) We woke up and we were in
Bermuda, docked at Kings Wharf. I was upset to be docked there
because it is extremely far from Hamilton (the main town) and St.
Georges. It's about 20 minutes from Hamilton and 50 from St.
George's. The weather was not great when we woke up, so we decided
to go to both Hamilton and St. Georges. We purchased a 3-day bus
pass for $28.00 for adults and $14.00 for kids. This is a great
deal, and I would recommend it.
St. Georges was a bit boring, but we walked around and had a
good time anyway.
We took the ferry back to Kings Wharf, where we learned Snorkel
Park was just a 10 minute walk from our boat. It was a very nice
beach, so we stayed there and relaxed as the sun had decided to
We decided to go back to the boat and had dinner at the Venetian
which was excellent.
Later, we went to see the show South Beach Rave featuring the
Jean Ann Ryan Co. again which was great.
There was also a deck party held but not many people attended.
We went and had some fun dancing.
Then we went to see the late night comedy of Dave Heenan which
was okay. I was starting to get annoyed by his loudness and some of
his jokes, but my boyfriend and dad thought he was hilarious.
June 19, 2008 -- Day 5 (Bermuda) We took the bus to Horseshoe
Bay Beach which is absolutely beautiful and a must-see in Bermuda.
The one drawback is that the bus drops you off at the top of a
humongous hill that you must walk down to get to the beach, but on
the way back up there is a taxi service that is $1 per person to
take you back up the hill. We took advantage of it, and it was a
dollar well spent.
Horseshoe Bay Beach allows people to purchase chairs, umbrellas
and food. It also has public bathrooms which was nice. It was very
clean and well-maintained.
My parents complained that we were on transportation more than
we were anywhere in Bermuda, but I didn't mind because every bus
ride felt like a tour. The views from the window were gorgeous.
We then took the bus to Hamilton and did some shopping. I would
recommend going to the store Spinnakers. We bought a ton of stuff
there, and everything was pretty cheap.
That night we ate at Salsa which was absolutely amazing. The one
strange thing was that it's located above the lobby of the ship so
people would walk through in bathing suits, etc. It was very weird.
The service was not good, but I have no complaints about the food,
especially the fajitas. The dinner was extremely long due to poor
service, and we had to skip dessert to make the show.
The show tonight featured Second City, an improv/comedy troupe.
They included the audience a lot, and were very funny. The one
thing that really made me angry at every show we went to was how
rude people were. When the show was winding down or the performers
left the stage but the Cruise Director came on to talk, so many
people stood up and left and blocked the view of the people who
actually wanted to hear what was going on.
We then went to the Liars Club, which featured John and Archie
(CD and assistant CD) Greg Gleason, and Dave Heenan. It was funny
though Dave the comedian tried to turn it into his own personal
comedy show, which was annoying.
We wanted to go to the chocolate buffet but the line was pretty
much the length of the ship, and I don't have the patience for
Then we watched Quest, which was also a funny game sort of
June 20, 2008 -- Day 6 (Bermuda) Our last day in Bermuda. We
took a bus to Elbow Beach, which was nice. It started to rain
though and we needed to leave.
The boat left Bermuda and we got ready to go see the final Jean
Ann Ryan Co. show. The show was called Bollywood and was
SPECTACULAR. It was a mix of Indian music (which didn't originally
appeal to me) and Cirque du Soleil and it was absolutely
Then we headed to dinner at the Venetian where we were told we
would have a 45 minute wait, and after giving them our room number
were seated in 5 minutes. Balcony and suites have priority on this
boat, which was nice for us, but I can understand how it would
The boat was going extremely fast tonight, and it was the only
night I could actually feel it.
We went to the White Hot party in the Spinnaker Lounge for a
bit, which was fun.
June 21, 2008 -- Day 7 (Day at Sea) We hung out by the pool in
the morning. It was difficult to get chairs again.
Then we went to the Sleight of Hand Close up Magic with Greg
Gleason, where he showed how he did some of his card tricks. I got
to be his assistant for a trick which was fun.
We went to TV show trivia which was very hard.
Later we had dinner at Aqua, which was just okay.
We went to the Farewell show and saw more magic and more comedy.
They sort of seemed to use the same entertainers over and over
again, with no variety.
June 22, 2008 -- Day 8 (Disembarkation) Disembarkation was a
NIGHTMARE. The express walk-off people had not even gotten off the
ship by the time the colors were supposed to be lining up. The line
took up the whole length of the ship and I was very happy to be
back on solid ground after 2 hours of waiting. To give NCL credit
though, they pulled into a different port than the one we left
from, and it was apparently smaller.
OVERALL I enjoyed the trip. There were some definite things I
would change though. For instance, the whole concept of freestyle
2.0. I did not feel relaxed of "freestyle" at all. I spent more
time planning my own schedule than following one, like I would do
on a different cruise line. Not having a dining time made it
difficult to plan ahead and to attend shows. Also I did not like
the dress code, because it was very awkward to be all dressed up
and sitting next to people who just came back from the pool. I
personally enjoy dressing nice, and going to eat with other people
who are dressed the same. It turned a fancy restaurant into a not
Overall, I would definitely cruise again, but NCL would not be
my first choice. If anyone has further questions please feel free
to contact me at email@example.com