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.
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!!
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.
This was my first Norwegian cruise and it was great. Embarkation from NYC was, as usual, a bit hectic. We arrived at 12:15 and were sent up to the mezzanie level where they provided refreshments, banana bread and small sandwiches. After going through security I was sent to the "Wine" desk. I had brought 2 bottles of champagne and 1 bottle of wine along with me as I was willing to pay the $15 per bottle corkage fee. I was allowed to bring it onboard without a fee as long as I kept it in my room;I was very happy.
Our stateroom was clean but unfortunately not vacuumed (mechanical problems with the vac). The following day all was taken care.
Diner was superb at all the restaurants, Aqua being our favorite. We did not eat at LeBistro nor at Cagneys but had friends who did and enjoyed it tremendously. Our midnight stop was the Blue Lagoon (great fries and buffalo wings). I suggest you make your specialty rest. reservations early.
The shows were fun, especially Bart Rocket, the magician. Bollywood was ok but not fantastic. Now the cruise director, Colin Kerr is extremelyfunny and cares very much about his passengers.
We were hit by a storm (more wind, high seas but no rain)on our return home. The Captain handled that marvelously, keeping us updated on our possible delay and weather conditions. We were onboard an extra day (Mother's day). Colin made sure our day was full of fun things to do. It was unfortunate that the one day Mother's Day cruise was cancelled, but we were grateful to arrive safely. Kudos to the staff, the Captain and to all who made our Mother's day special.
Debarkation was the worse I've experienced but then it was my first NCL. My husband and I look forward to many more pleasant sailings with NCL.
Embarkation was an absolute nightmare. We arrived about 12:45 to find a sea of people standing in one huge room. There were no signs directing us so we assumed we should just join the crowd. I understand that there was a problem with the ship being late and that the passengers had to debark before we could begin our embarkation, but I feel they could have made announcements explaining the problem. After 2 ½ hours we finally were directed to the next room to check in.
The ship is beautiful and immaculate. Sailing out of New York past the Statue of Liberty was absolutely thrilling. After watching the skyline of NY disappear we went inside. My husband & I were sharing an oceanview stateroom with our daughter and my son & his wife had an interior stateroom. Our room was supposed to have a sofa bed and two twin beds made into a queen. There was no sofa bed so my daughter slept on the bed that pulls down from the wall and we left the beds as twins to give her room to climb in & out. The stateroom hasgood storage space and drawers, but the bathroom only has one small shelf to keep anything on. There is a safe and a refrigerator in the room. There is also a kettle with a supply of tea bags and instant coffee, which I loved.
Dining: We ate in the Venetian dining room one night. It was very good. The service was wonderful. It's a beautiful room. We ate at Salsa. It's the Tex-mex restaurant. There is no extra charge but you do need reservations. Everyone enjoyed the meal and the service was very good.
Our favourite was La Trattoria, the Italian restaurant. You will need a reservation, but there is no cover charge. Our waiters were Tudor and Mike. They were a lot of fun and the food was excellent.
We ate in the café a lot. The food was good, but I found there weren't enough "plain" choices for me, for example, when it was Cajun night the food was ALL Cajun.which I don't care for unfortunately. I would have appreciated a little more ordinary variety. The NY deli for lunch was great!
The best thing about all the dining venues is the hand sanitizer stations everywhere. I really appreciated knowing that all the people handling utensils etc. before me had cleaned their hands.
Staff & Crew:
They were friendly and helpful. I found many of them a little reserved which surprised me, but they were very nice if you said hello or talked to them first. Perhaps they were just tired and looking forward to the drydock they were going into right after our sailing.
We didn't see a lot of it, but really enjoyed Bollywood, and the ventriloquist/comedian was hilarious!
All of this is of course my own opinion and I'm sure thousands will love NCL and freestyle cruising. Bottom line I think it just isn't right for us. On RCCL we were treated like gold from the moment we stepped into the terminal at the port. I admit I like being spoiled and freestyle is just a little too "free" for me I suppose. I want to sit in the dining room and be pampered by the waiter who knows us by name & the assistant waiter that brings me my cup of tea as soon as I sit down. And on the nights we don't want to change I'll go eat in the Windjammer Café.