Embarkation:The information we got before the cruise said that embarkation should begin at 2 pm. Since we had to check out from our hotel at noon, we came to the terminal early and that was very good. There were a lot of people in the terminal when we got there and they seemed to be waiting to be allowed to board the ship. We saw the Latitudes check-in line (Latitudes is NCLs program for those who has travelled with them before) and went there. Less than 30 minutes after we arrived to the terminal we were on the ship! That was very fast, especially since we are not American citizens.
The first impression of the Dawn was stunning. The entrance in New York is on deck 7 and the first you see is the Grand Atrium. Since the cabins aren't available before 2 pm we took our hand luggage and jackets and went straight to Garden Café for lunch. After lunch we went to Gatsby's Champagne Bar for a drink while we were waiting for our cabin. We took a glass of Gosset Grand Rosé Champagne. 18 $ each may bea rip-off but as a start of a wonderful cruise it was worth it! Before we went to our cabin we look out through the windows and into the terminal, the lines then seemed to be VERY long so we were happy that we were there early! Then on to the cabin.The cabin:
We had a BB Oceanview Stateroom With Balcony, nr 9576, on deck 9. The interior was nice and the size of it was okay. We didn't used the balcony very much, we had breakfast there two mornings and one afternoon we ordered a bottle of sparkling wine and canapés which we ate/drank there, but it was great to have it and it was definitely worth the extra money (it was only about 200 $ extra compared to an Oceanview Stateroom on deck 8). Overall the cabin was good for the money we wanted to spend but there was one bad thing worth mention, the first two days it was very cold in the cabin. I think that the door to the balcony wasn't enough isolated so we got a cold draught from there.A summary of the Dawn:
The ship is very luxurious. The first impression was that everything was top of the line and I really can't find much to complain about. Why shall I try to find bad things when the ship was so great!? The layout was great and there were no problems to find the way to the lounge or restaurant you wanted to go to even that the ship is enormously big. The sundecks were very good, but we didn't spent much time there. The Dawn has large sundecks for those who want action and company but it also has small calm places to sun for those who prefer that.Restaurants, bars & lounges:
The Dawn has 10 restaurants and 13 bars & lounges.
The three main restaurants are Aqua, Venetian and Impressions. The menu is always the same on those three restaurants so where you want to eat is more a question about interior and service.
Our favourite among the main restaurants was absolutely the Venetian. In my opinion it has the nicest interior and the service was always good. Our best dinner during our cruise was our dinner at the Venetian the last evening. I had "Cajun Pop Corn" (fried crawfish), "Spaghetti a la Milano" and "New York Cheesecake" and everything tasted just great. The Venetian also served breakfast. The breakfast tasted very well and was served at the table but for breakfast I prefer buffé.
Garden Café is the Dawns buffé restaurant. That was the place to go for buffé breakfast. The breakfast there was okay but for me as a Swede the content of it was kind of strange. They had lots of things to choose from but it was hard to find bread that I consider to be decent bread for breakfast, most of the bread they had felt like dessert for me! I never found any sliced cheese to put on the bread either, I guess that Americans don't eat that. I have some things to complain about on the Dawns breakfast service but I'll come back to that later in the review when I list Good and bad things! We ate lunch in Garden Café sometimes and the food was okay but not more. The standard of the food was a little lower than on the average Swedish lunch restaurant but it was good to avoid all the attention from the staff in the main restaurants sometimes! The same with dinner there!
The Dawn also has five restaurants which requires reservations. Three with a cover charge, Le Bistro, Bamboo and Cagney's Steakhouse, and two which are included in the cruisefare, Salsa and La Trattoria. We ate at Le Bistro and Salsa so I can't say anything about the other but they looked nice.
Le Bistro is NCLs French restaurant, which they have on all of their ships. Le Bistro has a cover charge of 15 $. What you pay for is interior and atmosphere. Our dinner there was very nice and all the food was very good but the standard on the food was like in the main restaurants. We will probably go to Le Bistro again on our next cruise. One night on a cruise as long as ours it's worth to pay that extra money.
Salsa is a Mexican restaurant. The food there was very good and the staff that worked there on our cruise was very nice and gave an excellent service. Unfortunately we went there one of the last nights on our cruise so we only ate there once. If we had tried it earlier we would have gone there again. If we ever cruise with the Dawn again, they will enjoy (?) our company more than once!
The 10th restaurant is Blue Lagoon. Blue Lagoon is a 24-hour Snack Bar. We didn't liked the way it looked so we never ate there but I think that the fish & chips we ordered in the pub was the same that was served there and that tasted well, almost as well as on a real English pub!
The 13 bars & lounges are:
1. Stardust Theater. The place for the big shows and informations (like the boring disembarkation information!). I liked the interior and the layout of the theatre but it was to little space for the legs for someone as tall as me. I guess that the theatre had around 1000 seats.
2. Spinnaker Lounge. The place for smaller shows and a place to take a drink and listen to music. The bingo was there too for those who are interested in that. Maybe 500 seats.
3. Dawn Club Casino. We didn't spent many minutes there and even less money! I'm not a casino expert but it looked like they had a good choice of games and slot machines.
4. Dazzles Lounge & Nightclub. We were only there when they presented "Bonus Awards" and then they offered free sparkling wine so that was good! One thing I don't like is that they say that they give away Champagne when sparkling wine is what you get! For me Champagne is Champagne! I understand that they prefer to give people sparkling wine but I think that they shall be honest and say that!
5. The Pearly Kings Pub. THE DAWNS NUMBER ONE PLACE TO GO TO! Just what we want when we are on vacation, an English pub. The Pearly Kings was a very nice place and they had a good selection of beers from the whole world. They offered around 40 kinds of beer (the menu had 44 kinds but they didn't had everything in it) and the staff there was the best on the ship! I will mention them later but they deserves to be mentioned twice, Jeorge and Zalryn. Our barfriends on the Dawn! They deserve all credit they can get!
6. Star Bar. The Dawns Martini bar located on deck 13. That was a very nice place to take a Martini after, or before, dinner. They had live music, grant piano, in the evenings and that was nice but a little too loud if you sat on the wrong place!
7. Gatsby's Champagne Bar. Located outside Le Bistro so we had a glass of wine there before our dinner at Le Bistro. A nice and calm place to sit and relax on.
8. Java Café. Located in the main atrium so the location was good but for some reason we didn't liked it. The chairs were uncomfortable.
9. Havana Club. None of us smoke so we were never there.
10. Wine Cellar. Is mentioned as a lounge or bar in the brochure but I don't think it's either of that, we were not there.
11. Internet Café. It's good to have the opportunity to use the internet on the boat but the prices make it pretty worthless I think. It was a nice place thou but not for surfing the net!
12. Bimini Bar & Grill. We were never there.
13. Topsiders Bar. The bar in the pool area. We didn't spent much time there but it looked like a nice bar. The bad thing there was that when music was played on the scene by the pool, the volume was too high.Entertainment
Of course you can't expect too much from the shows on a ship. We didn't saw any shows with many people dancing and singing, we are not interested in that, so I can't say how the standard was on that.
There were two comedians on the ship which had their shows in Stardust, Peter Sasso and Al Ducharme. Peter Sasso was very funny and we saw both his shows. Al Ducharme was good too but he talked too little and imitated sounds too much. He was good at imitating but it was too much, he should have talked more.
They also had a magician, Greg Gleason. He was good, even thou some of his magic wasn't too hard to see through. They said his show was "live from Las Vegas" but if I had paid to see his show in Las Vegas, I would have been disappointed if I got what I got on the ship! Of course I didn't expect something like "Siegfried & Roy" on the ship so it was okay!
The entertainment in Spinnaker Lounge was often game shows from TV, like Liars Club, Family Feud etc. That was okay entertainment to watch with a drink but not something I would have paid extra to see.
There were also lots of musical entertainment in the bars and lounges around the ship. The standard of that was high and nice to sit and listen to when taking a drink. The only bad thing to say about the musical entertainment is that they played to loud in the poolarea. I'm 35 years old, not especially sensitive to noice and love to play rockmusic as high as possible on my stereo at home but I still think they played to loud! It was no meaning to go up on deck when they served food there in the evenings or afternoons because the music was to loud!
The Norwegian Dawn Crew Show was good but they should have had it in Stardust instead of in Spinnaker Lounge. The best thing was that one of our barfriends, Jeorge, was participating.
The Dawns Cruise Director, Ricky Matthews, was very good so when he was involved in the entertainment, it was extra good!Ports
The ship stopped at six places during the cruise: Ocho Rios, Georgetown, Roatan, Belize City, Cozumel and Great Stirrup Cay. In Ocho Rios and on Roatan the ship stopped by the dock and in the other ports we had to tender.
I have made another, much longer, review on another site where I described all ports and our excursions but I skip that here and hope that I can stay within the 2000 word limit! If you are really interested, I'm sure that you can find my longer review!Good and bad things:
Good things: There were too many good things for mention them all. The food was great, the service was great, the ship was great, the itinerary was great.
What I want to mention is the staff which gave the best impression on us: As mentioned earlier, Jeorge and Zalryn on Pearly Kings. They are the two persons from the Dawn which we will be most happy to see again on our next cruise!
Victor and Tita who took care of our cabin. We have definitely nothing to complain on on how they did their job and they were always very friendly and seemed to be happy all the time!
Jennifer and Seepa who were our waitresses when we ate at Salsa. They gave us excellent service and they were very nice. The Cruise Director Ricky Matthews, very funny and very nice.
Bad things: The overall experience of the cruise was very good but there were a few things which we will remember as not so good: The Breakfast service some days. One restaurant where breakfast is served by the table and one restaurant with buffé breakfast is okay. When we cruised with the Wind around Hawaii they had two restaurants with buffé breakfast, one like Garden Café (Sports bar and grill) and one less casual (The Four seasons) where the service and atmosphere was better, and that was much better but that's not the bad thing I was thinking about on this cruise. The bad thing was that they opened too late some days. For example in Cozumel our meeting time for our shore excursion was 7.00 and Garden Café opened 6.30. I think that 30 minutes from the restaurant opens till we should be in Stardust Theater was too little, especially since we should be on shore the whole day. Garden Café should have opened earlier that day! To be honest, Blue Lagoon served breakfast from 6.00 but Danish & Coffee is not breakfast for me, not when I shall be on shore the whole day!
As I mentioned earlier, those who wants to sell drinks need a system to avoid asking the same people a lot of times in a short period of time. The worst places were in the pool area and on Aqua. I know that their instructions are to sell as much as they can and because of that I want to be nice to everyone who asked me "anything from the bar" but it's not always easy to say no in a nice way when I already have answered that question five times during the last ten minutes! If I say no I mean no, if I change my mind, I can go to the bar myself and order what I want! NCL really needs a system to avoid that.
The volume on the music in the pool area. They must have scared away more people than us with that!
That was all for this cruise! Hopefully I'll be back after next cruise! We really wants to go on an Alaska cruise next time and hopefully they extend some of them so that they are longer than a week when we shall go! By for now!
We are senior citizens with more than fifty cruises. As we live in South Jersey,it cost nearly as much to be driven to NY as to fly out of Atlantic City, to Fla. Also having had some experience with the Gulf stream, it was with some concern that we sailed out of NY.
We need not have worried the ship handled the seas very well.
Boarding the ship was a bit of a Zoo. The pier was crowded with people,children, etc, too many people in to small a space.
The Ship itself was Pretty, the personel were GREAT, Cabin stewarts,Waiters,the smiling,happy personel on this ship were exceptional. So much for the tipping policy. (we usually add tips for special service)
We ate a couple of times in the Cafeteria upstairs, but found it's noise oppressive. It also lacked the fresh fruits we like at breakfast and the salads at lunch. We found it better to eat early in the dinning rooms, before the majority, who like to eat a little later.
The menu selection in the dinning rooms left a lot to be desired, as well as the quality. For the first time cruiser,(which was most of the passengers), they probably thought it was great. It was found that my wife could order "salt free, low fat" from a menu for the following day, which meant we ate in the same dinning room the most of the trip, which actually worked out well. "First cruises are always great".(but) "We do not like open seating", we like to sit long enough with folks to get to know them. For a few meals we sat with the same couple, which we all enjoyed, but not really enough to get to know them.
Seldom do we travel with anyone, and when we do, it becomes hard to meet others. Most of the entertainment was OK (but) The two "Shows" were exceptional. The last show was without a doubt, "The Best" we've ever seen on any cruise ship. (Worth the price of admission)
To sum up----Did we enjoy----Yes---- Would we do it again---NO---Been there ,done that, it was a cheap trip. Next trip----First sitting----better food. Wishing You a GOOD TRIP--------
This was my 10th cruise but my first experience of leaving from NY. Embarkation was excellent...we were on the ship an hour and 15 min. after arriving at the port so I thought we were in for a great cruise.
That was until dinner! We went to the steak restaurant and paid $20 extra for a dinner that was mediocre at best. The next day's breakfast and lunch were awful too. When I complained to the maitre'd, all he would do was give us a complimentary dinner at the same steak place. I think I had one "good" meal in the 10 days of the cruise. VERY disappointing.
On the good side, the entertainment was top notch and the service from the crew was good also. But, they didn't change bed linens the whole cruise and no top sheet so you were using a quilt that hundreds of people used before! Gross!
For sure, I will never choose NCL again!!
The Good: The Norwegian Dawn is a well-appointed, clean ship with helpful staff that are friendly, and go out of their way to accommodate the passenger's requests. The main, and largest, dining room, The Venetian, is at the stern of the ship with the entire back wall of glass. A breathtaking view. The other two traditional restaurants are a smaller and perhaps a little more intimate. The buffet restaurant on deck twelve always offered a good selection at both breakfast and lunch, (we did not eat dinner there). Of course, as with any buffet, ashore or afloat, keeping food hot is difficult. The second to last night, an ensemble cast of singers and dancers staged a production entitled "Bollywood". A show not to be missed.
The Bad: Our meals in the three traditional dining rooms, (the menu was the same in each), were adequate at best in both quality and available menu choice. We tired of the buffet, where serving meals hot is always a challenge, and ate breakfast in the "Venetian" several times. They were also challenged in getting all of the food that was supposed to be served hot tothe table in that state. One day when we ordered a light breakfast from room service, the small carton of milk was three days past it's "best before" date. Of the two free specialty restaurants, the Italian, â?oLa Trattoriaâ? was again lacking in menu choice or quality. The other free specialty restaurant serving Tex-Mex meals restaurant was o.k. but not outstanding. There are several specialty restaurants charging an additional fee of from $10.00 to $20.00 per person, which we did not try. Of the ten nights in which there was entertainment in the main theatre, six or seven nights consisted of a stand up comedian. Although these entertainers were talented, the acts usually lasted no more than 45 minutes, and even funny stand up comedy can become tiresome. Other cruise lines certainly offered a greater mix of acts, including singers, and at least three or more ensemble productions. Expect to pay premium prices for alcoholic beverages. Although all cruise line's prices are what I consider to be excessive, Norwegian's cost, for a domestic U.S. beer for example, is about $1.00 per bottle higher than other ships we have been on.
The Ugly: The Norwegian Dawn is based in New York City and sails from there year round. Of the more than two thousand passengers on this cruise over eighteen hundred were from the U.S., many of them from the New York City area. There were certainly a number of these people doing their best to live up to the caricature of the typical New Yorker; Rude, loud, and obnoxious. After saying "please" and "thank you" a number of times during dinner, one of the serving staff commented to us, "You're not from New York are you?"
Summary: During the cruise many of our fellow passengers expressed the same comments as written above. . In my opinion, the Norwegian Dawn is a "bargain basement" cruise operation. Charge me a few dollars more; upgrade your menus and entertainment, and I might come back.
Booked a very special Anniversary Package Cruise for our 20th.wedding anniversary to the Carribean with NCL following a very successful NCL cruise(Star)from Honolulu in November 2003.
From start to finish it was a complete disaster, NCL spent the entire cruise denying I had paid in advance for the Anniversary Package despite receiving telephone confirmation from Barclaycard VISA that NCL had received full payment more than a month prior to sailing.Despite this NCL have now spent over three years denying responsibility for screwing up our anniversary despite writing and faxing to NCL Chief Executive in Florida.
As for the non existant Anniversary cruise from New York to the Tornado battered Carribean including Cozumel Mexico it was like visiting Berlin immediately following the end of World War Two.
The Dawn was packed full of brash loud mouthed uncouth New Yorkers whose table manners and dress sense were unspeakable, in short they should all have been forced to walk the plank or take their cruise on a ship depositing off shore effluent. NCL are no longer our cruise line of choice as they cannot be trusted to deliver the goods paid for in good faith. TheirChief Executive hasn't the strength of character or ability to admit a mistake and hides behind similarely mindless idiots in their Customer Relations Department in Miami. God forbid I book another NCL cruise.
Preface It's been over a year since Diane and I returned from this cruise. I was going through my reviews and realized I never posted it. Some of the information may be irrelevant at this time but I hope readers will get something out of it and not think of me as an idiot.
Introduction Another September and another last minute cruise. Last year we cruised on the Carnival Legend. This year it was NCL Norwegian Dawn. I was feeling real disappointed that we had not cruised all year. We had planned a September cruise but had to cancel our plans in May. Events made it possible to cruise in September after all and being the 19th I couldn't get us on the ship we had planned for the 22nd but I was able to get us on the Norwegian Dawn for the 25th.
For those of you who have not read any of my reviews of previous cruisesâ?¦Diane absolutely hates to fly. After our November 2004 cruise she made me promise we would not fly for at least 2 years. We had taken the train from Boston to NYC last Septemberand she loved it. This made it possible to book the Dawn out of New York.
Booking We have always used a local travel agency to book our cruises. I, being a cruise consultant wanna be, find the cruise, hotel, car rental, etc. then take to the agent to book it. I found this cruise at Vacations To Go and decided to try on-line booking. With only 6 days to the cruise, I was taking a chance but Lori Ortiz at Vacations To Go handled everything went extremely smooth despite the hurricane which resulted in the closing of the office in Houston. I look forward to booking with Lori again.
Itinerary The itinerary was less than impressive. Port Canaveral, Miami, Great Stirup Cay (NCL's private island) and Nassau. Diane and I do few excursions and prefer to laze around on the ship while others are off enjoying the various ports. We do get off the ship and walk around the local shops for an hour or so than return to the ship. More about this under Excursions.
Embarkation What a difference from last year when embarkation was an absolute disaster. NCL definitely has its act together. We walked into the terminal at 11:12 A.M., checked in our luggage and proceeded to the check-in desk. We were sitting with our coffee all checked-in by 11:30. They had chairs set up and coffee, tea sandwiches and sweets available. Boarding started about 45 minutes later. We were on board and in our cabin at 12:30.
Ship The Norwegian Dawn is a wonderful ship, very clean and well organized. Lots of restaurants and lounges, a library with plenty of reading material, a movie theater, and more. The pool is great and plenty of hot tubs. The tiered area for sunbathing was great leaving the chairs around the pool for swimmers.
Cabin Of course the only thing left was Category N - Deck 4, inside, front of the ship. Being past cruisers with NCL may have helped because we got upgraded to Category J - Deck 8, inside, middle of the ship. This was our first experience with an inside cabin so we went to sleep with the T.V. set to Bridge Cam station (Dark) and woke to Sunshine. It was our porthole window.
The room was larger than I expected and plenty of storage areas. There was a coffee maker which we liked as we are big coffee drinkers.
There is a refrigerator but no mini bar. We picked up a few extra cans of soda at one of the bars and stocked the frig.
Our steward kept our room clean and the ice bucket filled with fresh ice.
Dining There is a huge choose for dining. This was our first experience with freestyle dining. Diane loves it while I prefer traditional cruise style dining. Rather than 1 large Main Dining room there are 3 smaller venues which have no surcharges and require no reservations (Aqua, Impressions and Venetian). Also the Garden Café for buffet style dining and the Blue Lagoon for snacks and open 24 hours.
The food was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the Beef Wellington at Impressions.
Excursions Diane and I are not big on excursions as I mentioned earlier but on this cruise there really was little to do. One thing we like to do in Nassau is to visit a little bar named Iguana's. Unfortunately, for all intent and purposes EVERYTHING was closed. The exceptions were the shops in the terminal, a cheap souvenir shop and a bar. A native beer company was giving out free beer at the bar of which I took full advantage. This was after our traditional Bahama MaMa's which we couldn't have at Iquana's, of course.
The other port worth mentioning was Great Stirup Cay. This is NCL's private island and while it doesn't meet HAL's Half Moon Cay, it offers a nice day on the beach. There are two beaches. One of them is very rocky. I saw a couple of people with cuts on the feet from stubbed toes in the water. NCL puts on a nice spread of hamburgers, corn on the cob, fruit, etc.
Staff and crew Only good things to say about the staff and crew on the Dawn. The wait staff in each dining venue was wonderful. On ships with traditional sitting the wait staff gets to know the guests. They learn there likes and dislikes and close bonds are developed. Open sitting does not offer this opportunity but the wait staff compensates for this and I still felt I was being treated "special" by all of them.
There was one incident at the Chocolate Buffet which was held in the afternoon. An opportunity to take pictures prior to the eating was offered. As you probably know bathing suits and tank tops are not permitted in the dining room. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and was told "tank tops are not permitted in the dining room". After explaining that it was not a tank top but rather a sleeveless shirt, the woman said it didn't matter, I was not permitted in the dining room. I had bought 3 from L.L. Bean at $29 each just before the cruise. That night was formal night. We were dressed appropriately, I in a tuxedo and Diane in a gown and seated next to us was a gentleman in dungarees and a t-shirt. When I mentioned this the head waiter simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Go figure.
Entertainment The various lounges have wonderful entertainment but the Bollywood performance in the Stardust Theater was horrible. We had never walked out of an act but after 10 minutes we did. The performers where fine but the music?
Pictures I have to talk about the onboard photographers in every review. Some day I will find a photographer who can take a picture of a tall person (I'm 6'2") without cutting off my feet or head, because it hasn't happened on any of our cruises.
The 6 photographers are out every night taking the "formal" pictures. With all the complaints I read from people complaining about the picture taking, it's amazing how long the lines are every night to have pictures taken. Just an observation.
Conclusion Diane and I are committed cruisers. The itinerary was disappointing and the Bollywood entertainment was the worst I've seen. But everything else was wonderful and we look forward to again cruising on the Norwegian Dawn again in April 2007.
My husband and I took the 5/29/05 sailing of the Norwegian Dawn. This was our fifth cruise and fourth cruise line.
Embarkation was quick once we got to the pier (it was fleet week in New York and it took us an hour to drive 10 blocks).
Room - we had a balcony room on the 8th deck. The room was laid out well with plenty of storage space. The shower was a nice size but the toilet alcove made you claustrophobic. We only met our room steward once, and the room was kept clean, but he didn't remember our preferences for extra towels and pillows. So after the second request we stopped asking.
Dining - loved freestyle cruising. We really appreciated eating anytime we wanted and not having to get dressed up. We mainly ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet where the food was OK. One major disappointment was the cold cuts at the New York Deli, as my husband said, if there was a deli like this in NY they'd be out of business. The food at the Mexican, Italian, Aqua, Impressions, and Venetian restaurants were all goodand we never had to wait for a table. I especially like the décor at Impressions. Before 6 pm you could have eaten at the surcharge restaurants for half price, so we tried out the Steakhouse. It had excellent steak and service. Room service was efficient but there weren't enough choices. So far no other cruise line can beat the pizza on Carnival. Blue Lagoon (24 hour eatery) had great fish and chips. One item we had everyday was the free popcorn from the English pub. I tried some of the daily specialty drinks and 2 for 1 drink specials. I felt it was good value for the money. The chocolate buffet was a disappointment. After waiting on line for half an hour there were half a dozen kinds of chocolate cake (chocolate with orange, chocolate with raspberry, etc.), some ice cream, and chocolate dipped fruit. I expected more variety (pies, mousses, parfaits, candy).
Entertainment - Colin the cruise director was a riot. We went to all of the shows and they were all good, but we especially liked the game shows. Due to a rainy Florida there was a lot more time on ship than we're use to, but the time was taken up with movies, trivia games, art auctions, and classes. I especially liked the Martini Clinic. For $10 you get to drink 5 different types of martinis. My husband got hooked on the art auctions. One good thing about this art auction was the price included framing. I still have unframed art sitting around from my last cruise. Of course we tried our luck at the casino. Unfortunately luck wasn't shining down on us. But I found I could play at the video poker machines at the bar for a long time on my $10.
Shore Excursions - due to the weather all of the shore excursions in Port Canaveral were canceled except for the ones going to Disney and Universal. We took the duck tour in Miami, which gave you a good overview of the city and bay. We then took a taxi to the Bayside Marketplace for a little souvenir shopping. Within an hour of getting back on ship it rained for the rest of the day. We're not beach people, so we didn't get off the ship at their own island. But the water looked inviting. The main disappointment was the Bahamas. We happened to visit on their Labor Day so only four shops were open on Friday. About a dozen shops stayed open late Thursday night but it was a mad rush to get off the ship at 8 pm since the shops closed at 10. Also, the excursion we booked (Pirate museum and city tour) was canceled only a couple of days before and any of the other excursions we were interested in were full. We did go to Atlantis Thursday night and lose our money in the casino. Atlantis and their aquarium were beautiful.
Disembarkation - we elected to do express check out (which means you carry all of your bags off the ship). It was wonderful. By 9:15 am we were waiting for our ride in the passenger terminal.
Overall it was a good cruise. The one thing that will have us coming back to Norwegian is the freestyle dining.
This was my first time cruising and it will definitely not be my last! I chose the Norwegian Dawn based on the location it departed from (NY) as well as the itenary; Port Canaveral, Miami, and the Bahamas. Being I had never been to Disneyworld (deprived, I know:), how could I resist??
Prior to departing, I read every possible review about the ship and it's stops. While many of those I read had many complaints regarding the freestyle dining experience, I felt the exact opposite! I can honestly say, I don't think I would want to cruise any other way...I guess the people who did not like it were so used to adhering to schedules and did not take well to the change/freedom, but that was not me. I enjoyed the ability to dine when I wanted, where I wanted, and with whom I wanted. Plus with all the onboard activities, you never can be sure when you will have time to eat.
We took the advise of the reviews I read and arrived early-around 12:30pm for a 4:00pm departure. What a breeze!! Everything ran super smoothly and before I knew it,we were on board the massive ship (trust me, the pictures do not do it justice). If you are sailing soon, I would recommend getting there early to beat the last minute rush, so you will be able to tour the ship and your room.
The room (stateroom w/ a porthole) was roomy enough for two. There was plenty of space to place our clothes, etc, even with me packing way too much. The room was spotless and our attendants were awesome; very funny, friendly, and attentive. While I did like my little porthole, next time I am going with a balcony; even though you are not in the room THAT much, it would be nice to be able to sit and watch the sun set...
Now the food... we ate mostly at the pay restaurants and the buffet/poolside bbq. I don't know if the ship has recently made changes w/ their menus or chefs, but the buffet was awesome!! (Alot of the other reviews said the food wasn't that great, especially the buffet). We tried them all-Bamboo (Asian), Cagney's (steakhouse), and Le Bistro. One thing was right; Le Bistro was excellent. If I could do it again, I would totally skip Cagneys and go to Le Bistro again. The portions at Cagneys were nothing to write home about and the meal was only so-so. Le Bistro, on the other hand, was so good we went there twice! The chocolate fondue was very tasty as was the meals. I would recommend trying one of the 'fire starter' meals. Nice to look at and even better to eat. Bamboo was good, so was Salsa's although the portions at Salsa's were very very small. The buffet always had plenty of variety and tasted way too good to be from a buffet. Since I heard so much about the fish and chips, the first day, we stopped at the location to try them out. Apparently, they start serving them at 5:00pm, and we had gotten there over an hour early. Without hesitation, they cooked us up a fresh batch.
The stops were nice. I LOVED Disney and had such a ball there meeting my favorite mouse. The private island was also superb! Even though there was lots of people there, there was plenty of room and food to go around. The weather was beautiful and the ocean was a crystal clear. Lots of good shopping deals to be had there too, so make sure to bring some spending money. My only complaint was with Nassau... there just was not enough time! I would have rather skipped Miami to have extra time there.
The shows were really nice. Go see Bollywood!!! Awesome and is as good as everyone says!! We saw a magician, a comedy troupe, an "Iron Chef" cooking competition, a talent show, and the "Not so newlywed" game. The cooking competition and talent show were quite brief but were nice. The magician was excellent and another must see. The cruise director, Colin Kerr, was soooo funny. Everyone staffwise was extremely nice, polite, always smiling and saying hello. Getting off was a snap too. No horror stories here.
I could go on and on but I will try to limit myself here. Overall, it was a great experience and we had a wonderful time. Yeah, the pool on deck was a little small, but bottom line, there was enough room at all times to take a dip. My only wish is that I had more time-there was so much to do and even though it was a 7 night cruise, not enough time to do it. The ship is beautiful, the food superb, and service you just can't beat. I know others had complaints and maybe I just had an overly grand experience, but I don't think that's the case. I think that whatever bumps the Norwegian Dawn had previously, they were able to work out. My boyfriend and I are planning to go onboard again next year, this time on the Dawn's Caribbean cruise. Or maybe we will try the newest addition to the fleet. But either way, we will be freestyling with Norwegian!
P.S. A couple tips. Pick up some Downey wrinkle release before you go-it is a life saver and works well. Also do bring an alarm clock (if you forget, they do offer wakeup calls), plenty of sunblock, and be prepared to gain between 7-10lbs because I did! And, yes, I did make it to the gym onboard several times! Go figure.