On August 3, 2003, my father, mother and I went on board the Norwegian Dawn in New York City. After being stuck in 2 hours of traffic in New Jersey before the Lincoln Tunnel and an hour of traffic by the cruise terminal, we got to the Dawn (at about 12:45) After parking, we went in line and got on the ship pretty fast. SHIP- This is by far the most beautiful ship that I was on. Its pretty big, but you get used to it after 2 days. Colors and paintings make the ships setting nice. When we got on, the ship was very clean, unlike the Carnival Triumph, which had stains on the carpet. However, as the days went by, there were some various defects. Most were minor, but on the 4th day when we were waiting for the elevator, the doors opened and the elevator rang, but the elevator wasn't there! This is very dangerous and it should be fixed. BE CAUTIOUS!
CABIN- Although the room isn't as big as Carnival's rooms, its adequate enough. The beds are quite comfortable and the bathroom has actual sliding doors forboth the toilet and shower, instead of a curtain. The cabin is also decorated nicely, with wood trim. Our cabin stewardess, Henry, was very good and set our bed up nicely at night.
FOOD- The food was the best I ever had on any cruise line. The quality of the food is far more superior than Carnival's. Since there were various restaurants to chose from, we ate at 6 out of the 10. The Venitian had good food, but it was a little too quiet for us. The Aqua was a nice restaurant with more people and the food was very good, with the exception of Carribian night- the food had good quality, but I didn't like Carribian and neither did my parents. I highly recommend the Bamboo- a Chinese and Japanese restaurant. The food was outstanding and I tried sushi for the first time and it was good. There is a $10.00 per person fee. The Salsa serves Mexican food- it was good overall. La Tritorria is an Italian restaurant that is the buffet in the day time. We didn't like the setting because people kept walking through, but the food was good. The Blue Lagoon is a fast food joint that serves burgers, fries, fish and chips, and Chinese food. This place is good for a snack, but not to dine at.
ENTERTAINMENT-The entertainment was good for the most part. Our cruise director, Rich, was funny. The night shows included 3 performances by the Jean Ann Ryan Company and 4 performances by various performers, 1 was a juggleler and the other was a violin player. All of the night shows were top notch. Other entertaiment included Karaoke, which was good for the first 3 nights, but got worse the last 3 nights because it was the same people over and over and they weren't good at all. BINGO was good, but we never won. My mother and I did a golf putting tournament. We didn't win, but I came out 4th out of 20 people and it was fun. The last night of our cruise had a talent show. It was OK. I am in a bad age group because the activities that are for 13-17 year olds are a bit childish-like a scavenger hunt and the 18-20 year old activities include a dance from 10PM to close everynight. I am 17 years old, but I turn 18 next week. So I didn't want to do scavenger hunts and I didn't want to go the the 18-20 year old party because no one went. So I spent most of the time with my parents.
SERVICE- The service is outstanding. Anything you want is available within 5 minutes, except food at restaurants. The service in the restaurants is good too.
PORTS OF CALL- 1)Port Canavral- We took a cab for $30.00 to the Space Center. When my parents went in 1983, it was free to get in. Now it costs $33.00 per person! My father wasn't going to pay that to see fake space shuttles and fake astronauts. Since we couldn't find a cab, these very nice people brought us back to the ship. 2)Miami- South Beach might look nice on TV, but its all fabricated. There are no museums or attractions to see and the beach is nothing special. We stayed there for 3 hours and went back to the ship. 3)Nassau, Bahamas- This port was pretty good. We took a cab for $4.00 per person to the Atlatis. We spents 2 hours on the beach next to the Atlantis and then went back to Nassau to shop. 4)Great Stirip Cay- This would have been nice if it didn't rain the day we went. When we got on the ferry to go it was sunny. When we got to the island, it was pouring! It stayed like that all day, so we went back to the ship.
OVERALL- The Norwegian Dawn is a great ship- the food, entertainment and service is outstanding. The Florida ports are nothing special, but we liked the Bahamas. I recommend this cruise, but I suggest you go in the winter, when its cooler in the islands, not 93 degrees with 100% humidity.
Boarding was easy. not time consumming as advertized. The ship was perfect and new. Our only complaint is that they were charging "extras" and trying to suck every dollar possible at every turn. Examples: In three of the ten restaurants there was a "cover charge" and even in these restaurants if you ordered certain items (steak and lobster) there was a further charge of $25 per person. The rest of the restaurants were just fine. They have a beautiful exercize room
There is a $10 charge per person per day for tips for service personnel. That was OK with us.We were not stopped from bringing on board our own liquor as is advertized. Ports of call were all pretty much the same. Shore excursions were expensive, and we got much the same from independants on shore for less that half the price charged by NCL. Debarking was a zoo. We arrived in port of NY at 07:30 am and couldn't get off until after 11 am. Some had planes to catch and missed connections.
This is my second cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines - we were on the Sea last April and enjoyed it immensely.
EMBARKATION/SHIP: We got to the pier about 11:15 and we weren't supposed to be let on till noon but since they docked the day before, they must have had plenty of time to get the ship ready as we were on by 11:40. After reading all the horror stories, I figured embarkation would have been a nightmare but it was a breeze. We entered on Deck 6 and made our way up to our Deck (9). We were cabin 9008 with a private balcony (which I HIGHLY recommend!). The cabin was really nice. There were three of us and we didn't feel cramped until at night when they opened the sofa bed. Because of the corner table/shelf, we had to climb over the beds to get to the balcony - but we got used to it. We had heard that there was limited space for clothes, etc. but we made good use of the many shelves, etc. and the three of us had no problem fitting our stuff allover the place. The private balcony is HEAVENLY and well worth the extra $315 to upgrade from an inside cabin. The ship is beautiful - so clean and bright colors everywhere.
The carpeting in our hallway was teal with different colored sea horses, shells, etc. - very tropical. What I was most impressed with on this ship is the Stardust Theater - it is HUGE! I am in the theater business and was very impressed with it. The pool deck was big and plenty of room for everyone. There are four hot tubs on the pool deck and one in the aft of the ship on the sun deck. Also, the kids area has a hot tub and I heard many adults say that they used it in the evenings because there were no kids around and the other adults weren't aware they could use it. But I never had a problem getting into any of the "real" grown-up hot tubs.
FOOD: I have to admit that the only place we ate was in the Garden Café and I was very pleased with the variety they had. There were also 2-3 "action stations" in there where they make omelettes, waffles, sandwiches, tacos, etc. And the dessert buffet is delightful (love the "make your own sundaes"!!). I heard that the other restaurants were very good but we did not partake in them.
ENTERTAINMENT: OUTSTANDING!!! The Jean Ann Ryan Company puts on three wonderful shows. You must not miss "South Beach" or "Bollywood" (note to future cruisers: if you go to the Bollywood Show, sit fourth row, dead center and you will be in for a fun surprise in the beginning of the show!). They had three guest performers: a comedian, Dave Heenan, who we did not care for. David Lucas, a juggler/comedian/musician (sounds weird, huh?! We thought so too and almost didn't go but he was AMAZING!) And Dominique Ava, a contemporary violinist who was outstanding.
CREW/SERVICE: Can't be beat! Our stewardesses were unbelievably friendly and helpful (Thanks Sonja and Ping! : ). Everyone was just so friendly and always smiling.
PORT CANAVERAL/ORLANDO: LOL - I have a good story for this port! We got an excursion to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and we were supposed to depart in our bus to Orlando at 8:30 am. Well, because customs didn't clear the ship till almost 9:30, we got a late start. Then we found out that they were picking us up at 5 pm and we were worried we wouldn't have enough time to do everything (the park closed at 7 and we weren't sailing till 10 so we didn't understand the early pick up time). Half way to Orlando, we started to smell a burning oil smell. I jokingly said to my sister "Watch the bus break down!". Well, within 5 minutes, we were pulled over and everyone was off the bus. The back of the bus was burning and black and there was oil all over the road. Another bus came about 30 minutes later and got us to the park. Luckily, we were able to hit all the rides, etc. before our 5 pm pick-up.
MIAMI: Have never been there and loved it! We bought the Queen Bay Cruise/South Beach Tour excursion and it was great. We saw a bunch of stars homes and they let you shop in BaySide for a little while. That night, there was a South Beach Party on board.
NASSAU: we were there last year and enjoyed it. We did a few new things this year. My sister is a history nut and so we went to Fort Charlotte (very interesting with underground caves, etc.) and Fort Fincastle and we also climbed to the top of the water tower (beautiful views!). We also went to Ardastra Gardens - a conservation/zoo, which we enjoyed. If you are an animal lover (especially birds), this is a fun place. And they have an adorable pot bellied pig that just roams around - too cute!
GREAT STIRRUP CAY (NCL's private island): GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS!!!! I loved this island last year and I loved it again this year!!! I could live there.
The days at sea were not as good, weather-wise, as our last cruise. It rained for ¾ of the first day and the last day it was very cold and windy but there is plenty to do inside.
We loved this cruise and we are planning to go on it again early 2005.
BAHAMAS AND FLORIDA FROM NEW YORK CHECK IN - GREAT 20 MINITES FROM CAB TO ENTERING CABIN
Cabin - Poor Small inside state room 5th deck bathroom not cleaned good enough end of the cruisewe found a pee stain on the mattress cover(they did nothing to make up for it) I didnt even meet my cabin stewart till the last day of the cruise when I complained about the bed.
Over all look of the ship- Great 10th cruise I have taken and it was the best looking pool could have been bigger.
Shore Excursions- Poor Port Canaveral - Wet and Wild water park A ton of mistakes were made, to many to list Nassau - Discover Atlantis / Harbor cruise harbor cruise was a joke less than 10 min. It would have been faster cheaper and alot less walking if I would have taken a cab. $8 for cab both ways and $25 to get in Atlantis aquarium. Great Stirrup Cay rented snorkeling equipment great day really nice water
Resturants - good rated 1-10 10 being best 10 resturants Le Bistro - French -10 cover charge $12.50- $18.50 Bamboo - Asian Fusion- 7 cover charge $10.00 salsa - texmex - 10 no cover La Trattoria -Italian- n/a limted meun diddnt like Cagney- steakhouse- 8 cover charge $17.50- $25.00 Blue Lagoon - burgers, fish and chips stirfry -10 no cover Garden Cafe -buffet - 3 Main resturants Aqua, Venetian, impresstions bad food worst serive.
Major compdlaint on the Norwegian Dawn concerns the 4 mid-ship elevators,which run from deck 4 to deck 13.
Upon exiting these elevators, each passenger is confronted with a portrait, by Andy Warhol, of an unsmiling Mao Tse Tung, which appearin different colors. They can't be missed, they are quite prominently displayed on the opposite wall.
As a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, I am reminded of the thousands of American servicemen, and also our Allies, who are dead, because of Chinese intervention in these conflicts, primarily under the leadership of Chairman Mao.
I am outraged and insulted that Norweigan Cruise Lines has chosen such poor taste in this display. It is an affront to every American that sails on this otherwise magnificent ship.
I have outlined my complaint in a letter to NCL and am calling for a boycott of all their ships by patriotic Americans, until the portraits are removed and a public apology is issued.
Hubby and I flew from CA to Miami the day before the cruise. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Miami International Airport on South Royal Poninica Ave. The room was nothing special, the main enticement here was that they provide a free shuttle to the pier. Embarkation was a breeze. It took only about 20 minutes from the time we stepped into the terminal until we were in our Stateroom. A month before the cruise we received a free upgrade from a deck 8 forward balcony cabin to a deck 9 mid ship balcony cabin.
Before the cruise I began chatting with several my fellow cruisemates who I met through the Cruise Critic website. I encourage everyone to join this site. There were a total of 112 of us who met in person in the Dazzles lounge the day after sail. What a wonderful, fun, friendly, and crazy group of folks. We got together throughout the cruise and did many excursions together as well as a group dinner. It was a total blast, and made the cruise extra special for all involved.
Here is my 1-5 rating. 1 being poor- 5 fabulous. Food : all resturants good to very good. 4 stars Ports: Excellent itinerary. 5 stars Ship: Gorgeous 4.5 stars Service: Polite but slow, could use improvement. 4 stars Entertainment: Great 4.5 stars
Excursions: Book your own, it is much cheaper ! Montego Bay - Can't comment we stayed on the boat
Aruba - We did a snorkeling excursion to the wreck of the Antilla. The water was very rough & choppy but the wreck itself was worth the trip. It takes about 40 minutes out to the site via boat from the cruise dock. Also, did a round the island tour with a taxi driver. This guy was good! We were gone 2.5 hours, and he only charged us $15 each.
Curacao - Took the ship sponsored excursion to Caracas Bay. This was a really great spot. It is a sunken tugboat with tons of various tropical ship. Highly recommended! Grenada - Kathy one of the CC'rs (cruise critics) hosted a group of 55 CC'rs on a tour of this beautiful island through a company called Mandoo Tours, check his website on the Internet. I highly recommend taking one of his tours. Because our group was so large we paid $25 each for a 5-6 hour tour, taking in the plantations and falls, as well as the rest of the island. Thanks Kathy!
Dominica - There were 14 of the CC'rs on this trip. We took Ken Hinterlands tour he also has a website. Went around this fabulous island then to Trafalgar Falls and Ti Tou Gorge. Because our group was over 4 people the cost was $25 each for a 3-4 hour tour. I highly recommend this tour also.
Tortola - Took a cab from the dock with yet more CC'rs to Cane Garden Bay Resort. The scenery is unreal. What a beautiful place. We swam, and rented lounge chairs for $5 a piece. We asked the taxi driver to pick us up in 3 hours and he was there right on time. I can't remember the price for the cab but I think it was about $8 per person round trip. You pay the driver when he returns you to the ship. Its a bargain.
St. Thomas - got off the boat and into a taxi/open air van for a 2 hour island tour. Cost is $20 per person. Then ate lunch and went to Sapphire Beach Resort. This is another Kodak moment. It was so beautiful there. Water is very rough though. We rented lounge chairs for $5 each, and snorkeling equipment for $5 per person for one hour. Watch the snorkeling equipment! We received a total of 2 broken fins, and 1 fin which strap broke shortly after I put them on. They need to invest more money in better equipment.
Newport, Rhode Island - I fell in love with this place. We walked 2 blocks and took the trolley to see the mansions. We did not get off to see the inside of the mansions but did very much enjoy the ride. They have all kinds of cute little shops on Thames Street and elsewhere. Lots of wealth in this town.
Martha's Vineyard - We had 60mph winds and overcast weather while here. Stu, another CC'r had arranged a walking tour with a woman from the Historical Society. There were 14 CC'rs who boarded a public bus $5 per person all day pass, and went to meet her. Boy am I glad we went on this tour. The woman was a total RIOT!!! She had the best personality, not only was she entertaining, but she was extremely articulate as well. I really enjoyed my time here as well, with one exception. The tender ride back to the ship was a harrowing experience. As I mentioned there was 60mph winds so the seas were really rough. You know it is bad when they hand out "Barf Bags" when you get on board. There were some ladies in our tender who thought it was funny to laugh and scream as those LARGE WAVES, brutilized our tenders. What a bunch of pycho's!!!!
Disembarkation in NY was a fiasco. They did NOT begin letting people off of the ship until 2 hours after they were supposed too. Needless to say there were a lot of angry folks. One of the CCr's waited 3 hours for a taxi after getting off of the ship!!! Lots of folks missed their flights. We made it to the Newark airport just in the nick of time. Thank goodness there were only 5 people in front of us in the security line. Now I know why many of the airlines are filing bankruptcy. All in all it was a fantastic trip, made all the more special by our Cruise Critic buddies. Thanks everyone! Keep checking those cruise boards for more from Paljoeysmom.
God bless, wishing you all the best, health, happiness, and prosperity. Hope to see you on a future cruise.
Somewhere off the coast of Grenada while sipping a perfect Martini during Norwegian Dawn's repositioning cruise from Miami to New York via the Caribbean and New England it dawned on me - if you'll pardon the pun - that I was witnessing the (re)birth of a cruise line. I was aboard a brand new ship that seemed to be an innovative hybrid. She is part traditional, part wildly radical in concept.
She is lavishly and uniquely appointed. Her crew is genuinely warm and attentive. Service is efficient yet unobtrusive. In fact I kept wondering if this was NCL. Each time I needed assistance at the Purser, Shore Excursion or Dive-In desks I found the professionalism to be high and a concern for resolving the problem quickly and to my satisfaction.
Cuisine is varied, inventive, tasty and of high quality. There is talented entertainment in every lounge. She's part art museum and exclusive resort. The art on display throughout the ship is literally masterful; her furnishings artful. Norwegian Dawn not only carries works of art, she is a work of art. The attention to detail shows from the quality of her contemporary chandeliers to thenow round the clock availability of NCL's famous cookies in Blue Lagoon Café (once only available during 4-5pm snack time).
There's a feast around every corner both visually and gastronomically. Her ten restaurants range from greasy spoon to silver spoon. Passengers can dine amidst impressive neon or impressionists. The Impressionists: Renoir, Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh. One can dine on A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (well, actually a lovely Seurat reproduction) - even on a Tuesday if preferred. Choices range from Mac 'n Cheese to Mignon with Champagne any day of the week. Special requests were honored in the dining room within reason. A fellow diner asked if he could have a white sauce instead of red on that day's specialty pasta in the Trattoria. "Of course" was the reply. I asked if a particular featured ingredient could be omitted from an entrée served in one of the main dining rooms. "Absolutely!" A Maitre D' overheard my comment that maybe we could skip dessert, enjoy some entertainment and then go to another quieter formal dining room solely for dessert and coffee later on. The Maitre D' politely interjected "We would be delighted if you chose to do so."
Cabin décor is plush in every category and range from economically cozy insides to vast apartments boasting two and even three bedrooms with balconies and private decks.
There is very little "old NCL" about the m/s Norwegian Dawn. Had she debuted as the first ship in a brand new cruise line, this vessel would immediately be classified as premium plus. Her hallmarks would be hailed as superior to Holland America. Her chic would easily exceed Celebrity. She'd royally conquer Princess. Her innovations are more universally appealing than rock climbing walls. And her whimsical and bold interiors are more festive and yet classier than the floating Carnival midways.
Norwegian Dawn is that good. She's sexy. She sizzles! Her interiors are seductive.
However, this masterpiece isn't completely flawless. Even a diamond can be imperfect.
First and foremost, as wonderful as Norwegian Dawn is, she must defy the reputation of her heritage. NCL, once the big kid on the block in the 1970's and most of the 1980's suffered some self inflicted stormy seas. The line bankrupted several acquired and much loved cruise lines. In the late 1990's the cruise line nearly dived into the brink itself and shipboard quality across an inadequate fleet suffered. NCL's passenger ratings plummeted as quality took a nosedive and service became nearly non-existent. NCL has disappointed and alienated thousands of dissatisfied passengers who when asked about the cruise line often repeat the mantra "never again." The cruise line does have many loyalists due in great part to the popularity of its former flagship s/s Norway. I count myself included in this category. The great blue dame is my favorite ship.
NCL must somehow convince travel agents and potential passengers alike to give them one more chance. A cruise on Norwegian Dawn is almost guaranteed to convert most into believers.
This leads me to Norwegian Dawn's second flaw - or more to the point NCL's. Anyone sailing with the line for the first time aboard this ship will no doubt feel let down should they sail on her fleetmates, with the exception of near twin and slightly elder sister Norwegian Star. As comfortable, tasteful and satisfying as the other ships in the fleet may be on their own, they can't compete with Norwegian Dawn. Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Sky come closest in style, shipboard amenities and features on a smaller scale by nearly a third. However NCL will need to be inventive and honest when marketing the various other members of its fleet. A cruise on Norwegian Majesty or Sea is not nearly in the same league as Dawn in just about every respect. I'm speaking from experience, having sailed aboard nearly every class of ship in the NCL fleet on roughly 15 of my 33 cruises. I'm even reconsidering my own booking later this year for Norwegian Dream's long repositioning cruise. It may pale in comparison.
The next major flaw I observed was service in the main dining rooms which are completely open seating for dinner. Much has been written about NCL's "freestyle" (tm) concept so I won't detail how it works (a full explanation is available on the line's website: http://www.ncl.com ). Service, while good overall, is inconsistent. I'll provide a real example to illustrate. Prior to this cruise I met several people online that were also aboard. Our group grew as we met others and periodically a dozen or more of us would dine together. We were often offered adjoining tables as the fastest way of being seated. One night we arrived early enough to catch the late performance of the evening's production show. One table was finished and seated in the theater with twenty minutes to spare. The other table was first being served entrees when the final curtain came down after the show's finale.
This is completely unacceptable and I'm not sure what the answer is except that there seems to be a lack of 'extra hands' floating around the dining room. Aboard ships with traditional dining, section captains or assistant Maitre D's usually fill in as needed to keep things moving at a reasonable pace. If this concept exists on Norwegian Dawn, I didn't observe it. I did notice that when dining during off-peak hours service was nearly flawless. It was rare to wait more than three to five minutes to be seated as long as one avoided arriving as the early show was letting out. I was surprised at how many chose to see the 7:30pm show first and then eat a leisurely dinner afterwards. I settled in to a 9pm dining time with some friends during the second half of the cruise. By then the 8:30 rush had ended and tables emptied in anticipation of the late show at 9:30pm.
The final major problem, as I see it (I tend to ignore minor problems that can occur on any ship), is that freestyle dining is not solo cruiser friendly. As mentioned, I had many new friends aboard with whom I dined. But on three port day evenings I found myself on my own as most of them (nearly all couples) chose intensive days of touring and turned in early. I quickly learned that being able to share a table isn't as easy as NCL portrays. Each time I was greeted with "oh, we'll have to open a new table for you" as if it would be a problem. One night I was told in all three main restaurants "I'm sorry, but we don't have any shares available tonight." I was appalled. To make matters worse, one hostess having just told me to wait a few moments returned and asked "will that be a table for two?" I was flabbergasted and she quickly knew it! I wasn't alone in this experience. One of the other guys related a similar story later on in the cruise. NCL doesn't seem to know how to handle singles for dinner although there seems to be a very sensible solution. Each night there's a single get together listed in the daily program for late evening cocktails. Why not list "singles meet for dinner" and vary the restaurant each evening? This was the first comment included on my comment card.
These annoyances notwithstanding, I disembarked Norwegian Dawn feeling well rested with the impression that I had just experienced a very unique and classy ship. I felt that I had received more than my money's worth. I just have one wish - that Norwegian Dawn's newly announced longer ten and eleven day itineraries from New York City will be expanded. Seven days aboard this glamour gal won't be nearly enough. Neither is just one cruise. Next time you are aboard, look around. You just might find me back!
Recently returned from our cruise on NCL. We had a great time. Embarkation went fairly well. We arrived at the pier by 11:30 and were on the ship by 1:15. Some of our group went with airfare and transfers provided by the cruise line and had to wait for 2 hours at the airport for a shuttle. Needless to say they were not pleased.
Food - was excellent and the freestyle gave you flexibility. We did not dine in any of the extra charge restruants because we were a family of five and had spent enough on cruise fares. Main diningrooms were fine and they each have the same menu each night. Salsa's was very good but you need to make reservations ahead of time. Thursday is lobster night and it was excellent. Don't be shy about ordering extra. It was no problem to do so.
Drinks- Pop card is well worth the 28.50. If you are a beer drinker I suggest buying by the bucket. You get 6 beers for 16.00 domestic and 19.00 for imports. Otherwise a glass of beer costs $4. If you like wine with dinner Isuggest you order some bottles ahead of time. They deliver them to the cabin on the first day or when you tell them you want it. We paid 18 to 20 per bottle and saved 5 - 6 dollars. They allow you to take it into the dining rooms to drink with dinner. Be aware that the drinks in the fancy glasses will cost you $8+. If you want the drink just ask for a regular glass.
Entertainment- Was the best I have ever seen on a cruise ship. This was our 4th cruise and each was on a different line. My favorite was the first show of Andrew Lloyd Weber's music. The magician and juggler were very good.
Laundry- They have self serve laundries that cost nothing but you have to bring soap. Ask at reception because they are hard to find and you have to go through crew only doors. Ours was by room 5100. Make sure you read instructions first as they are different from machines at home.
Ports- If you want to do Dunn's River Falls it is so easy to do on your own and much cheaper. They have taxis waiting at the pier. Round trip was 4.50 per person. Admission was 10.00 per person. You can rent a locker for 8.00 and get 3.00 back when you turn in the key.
Grand Cayman- we went to Royal Palms. It cost 3.00 pp to get in and 3.00 pp for taxi. They rent chairs and mats, paddle boats, jet skis. You can even parasail. Very nice beach. Even have a Subway there.
Costa Maya - Very nice facility with shops, pool, and folk shows. Spent the day by the pool and shopping. Very good snorkeling on the opposite side of pool area. The men in our group chartered a fishing boat. Went to plaza and set it up right there. They were taxied to boat and taken on a 3 hour fishing trip. They caught barracuda, grouper and other. Drinks were included in the price. I think it was 320.00 for 8 people.
Cozumel- Planned on going to Chankanaab Park but never made it. Heard the snorkeling was great but no beach to lay out on. Went to play mini golf at Cozumel Mini Golf. We had a great time. It is owned by a couple from the US. They were very friendly. You can walk to it from the dock. It takes about 10 minutes. Costs 7.50 per person. They give you walkie talkies to order drinks. It is pretty challenging with the roughs and contours. If your looking for something different to do this is it. We had 8 teens with us and they loved it. Located on Calle 1 and 15th. It opens at 11:00 am ships time.
Overall we had a great cruise. Shows were excellent, food was outstanding, ship was beautiful. It was a dream come true for our family.
I sailed the Western Caribbean itinerary on the Norwegian Dawn from March 15-22, 2003. My impressions about different areas of the cruise and service are below:
EMBARKATION: F- Without a doubt the Embarkation (and to a lesser extent the disembarkation) was the most poorly run part of the cruise as well as being one of the most poorly run embarkation processes that I have experienced. I can not emphasize how poorly run this was. When you walk into the pier, there are two lines, one for US citizens and one for non-US citizens. After finishing in that line, we were directed to another line to go into the main waiting area. After we went into the main waiting area, we waited in third line to pick up our room keys/sail and sign cards which went most of the way around the terminal room. After receiving rooms keys, we were directed to yet a fourth line to wait to go have our pictures taken and then to a fifth line to go through security for our unchecked baggage. I don't understand how Disney and Carnival can do this in less than 30minutes yet it took Norwegian over 90 minutes. Anyway, this was a waste of time, Norwegian staff was barely friendly and the personnel from the local security company were rude and very slow.
STATEROOM/MAID SERVICE: B+ We were in Room 5596 which was by the mid-ship elevator on the second level of passenger rooms. This was a Category "D". There were three of us in the room which had two twin beds pushed together to make a queen and a top bunk. While the room was cramped, it was well cleaned, had two desk areas, ample draw space and a great bathroom area. Showers had sliding glass doors, had plenty of hot water and plenty of water pressure. There was a 13 inch television for in room entertainment which included CNN, ESPN, a selection of TV favorites and of course, the "Front of the Ship" channel. The room steward was out of sight but not out of mind. The rooms were cleaned well every AM and turned down and re cleaned in the PM. Two of the days there was one person in the room until at least 1:00 PM and even though the steward was "off duty", the room was still cleaned well.
REST OF SHIP: A+ The Dawn had only been sailing for three months and the ship was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! There is a state of the art theater, as well as multiple lounges. Crew does a great job keeping the ship clean and it was a real pleasure to be on this ship.
KIDS CAMP N/A The last two cruises I have been on, I have had a child..not this one though! I did manage to pick up a copy of the schedule for the kids and it seemed to be packed with activities. During the cruise I spoke with some parents who had kids with them and the response was universal that the kids were having a great time and could not wait to be with the kids camp.
RESTAURANT/FOOD A+ There are 10 restaurants on the Dawn, most of which are free of charge. A few of the restaurants charge a cover fee/a la carte for dinner. We ate at a different restaurant for the first six nights and decided to revisit the Italian venue for our last evening. Wait staff was always pleasant, friendly and eager to assist in any way possible. My favorite was Le Bistro which is a French restaurant. This is one of the places that charges a cover charge ($12.50 per person). Most mornings we ordered room service and our order was always delivered in less than 20 minutes.
STAFF/CREW/CUSTOMER SERVICE: A- With some occasional exceptions, staff and crew were very friendly and tried to respond to questions, concerns and complaints. I had ordered flowers for one of the members of my party which arrived late, without a greeting and with some of the roses broken. I called and spoke with someone at the reception desk who passed on the problem to the Front Office Manager. by later in the day, the issue had been addressed. The office manager informed us there was not anything she could do about the flowers, however she offered to buy us dinner at Le Bistro any night we wanted. When we arrived for dinner, we were also given a bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner.
ENTERTAINMENT: A- Again this was wonderful during the entire week. There was a show of Andrew Lloyd Weber's music, Bollywood (County of India theme) and South Beach (Latin) theme. These productions were about one hour long each and were spectacular. One night there was a ventriloquist (who used audience members as his "dummies" and another night a very high energy juggler/comedian who was superb. The only bad note was a comedian from New York who just did not seem to connect with the audience and spent most of the time trying to insult people who were on the cruise. The first night NCL did Kareoke, it went over so well that they did it again every night thereafter. I spent the first three nights listening late into the night to a former record company VP turned songwriter/singer sing folk and country with his acoustic guitar. He was absolutely great and it was a great way to spend late evenings. There was a piano player in another lounge and there were always lots of people enjoying his show as well.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: B- We signed up for Shore Excursion in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. When we got to Grand Cayman, the sea was too rough for the tender boats to safely load, unload and transport people from the ship to shore so we were not able to go ashore that day. In Ocho Rios, I signed up for a Dolphin Swim and Dunns River Falls. While the sites themselves were exciting, the organization was lacking and the name of the dolphin excursion is misleading. We were ushered onto a bus that first took us to Dunns River Falls. As soon as we got off, those in our party were told that we were being sent to the dolphin swim first. Well when we got there, we had to wait almost two hours for our turn because we had just missed the groups that had gone in. When we did get to go in, we did not really swim with the dolphins, rather we were in the water, treading water when the dolphin came in the area and did some tricks and gave each person a kiss. After noon, we went to Dunns River Falls where we climbed the falls along with many other people. This part was very very exciting and somewhat challenging. I recommend it highly. by the time we finished both parts of the tour, a 3 hour tour had taken almost 6 and we were ready to go back to the ship.
GAMBLING: C We did not spend much time in the Casino but I played some video poker.a game at which I usually hold my own and come close to breaking even when I have played in Las Vegas. It seemed that these machines were set a little tighter as it took virtually no time to lose my first $20 so I gave up while I was ahead of the game. Then again, maybe I just stank that night and played poorly..BINGO cards are extremely over priced compared to other cruise lines and their scratch off type lotto cards which are $5 a piece and guaranteed to be a winner every time. Throughout the entire seven days, I heard of only three occasions (which were announced over the loud speaker) of someone winning more than $1 on the guarantee "win".
DISEMBARKATION: D Another disaster but not quite as bad as the first day. Like many lines, NCL uses color coded tags, but tags are distributed according to the time of your plane departure. The people who were required to report to US Immigration early in the morning did and debarkation should have begun on time at 9:00 AM. It began at 9:45 AM and since we had our car at the pier, we were not allowed to disembark until after 11:00 AM. Even after our tag color was called, we still had to stand in a 15 minute line to get off the ship.
OVERALL B+/A- The Dawn is a great ship to sail on. She is brand new, beautiful, friendly crew and overall great entertainment. It seems that NCL has not yet mastered the little things that separate a very good cruise from an excellent or near perfect voyage. On the day we were supposed to call at Grand Cayman but could not due to sea conditions, the cruise staff quickly put together alternative activities and made the best of an unfortunate situation. I would definitely sail again on the NCL Dawn.hoping some of the current problems might have been resolved by then.
My wife and I sailed on the Dawn with her sister and brother-in-law on March 8th. I would first like to thank all the people who wrote reviews which I read over and over to get info. These reviews really helped me have a great cruise. I have to say straight out the ship is fantastic. This was our sixth cruise with all five previous trips on RCCL. I only tried Norwegian because our group of friends who we have always cruised with could not do it this year so I thought my wife and I would try free style. I like to eat before 7:30pm each night so we had no problem being seated when we wanted. To keep me from going on too long I will just list the good and bad as we experienced it.
- The food was as good or better than what we have had on other cruise ships. Now maybe we were lucky with our choices but we ate in all the resturants except the Bambo. I will state that I would not pay the $17 surcharge at Cagneys again. The foodwas great but not worth the additional charge. I say this because of the quality at the free resturants. On the other hand the Bistro is not to be missed. My favorite meal was the Sea Bass at Aqua. We really enjoyed going to a different place for dinner each night. The other reviewers are correct that if you wait till after the first show and eat around 8:30pm you will probably have a half hour wait. But there is a neat lounge with a piano player right outside Impressions and Aqua so relax and enjoy the entertainment while you wait.
- The entertainment was by far the best we have ever experienced except for the night we saw the Fifth Dimension on the Enchantment of the Seas. I had expected good shows based on the reviews I read but I never expected this good.
- The service on board was very good but then I have never had bad service on a cruise ship. Usually if something goes wrong, and if your nice, they will make it right We had a few foul ups but they were all taken care of. I splurged on this trip and got a mini-suite on deck 11. The consierge, Sara, could not have been nicer. She went out of her way to take care of me. Our cabin stewart, Santiago, did an excellent job and I gave him a little extra at the end. The idea of having the tips added to your bill in no way deminished the service.
- As I stated we stayed in a mini suite (11168) in the aft on the starboard side. In my opinion the extra money spent was well worth it. We enjoyed a balcony for the first time and I will find it difficult to cruise without one again. The Spa in the rear of deck 11 is beautiful and I used the lap pool and hot tub each morning. Sitting in the hot tub and looking out the rear glass wall at the ocean was therapy for a tired soul.
- We sailed the eastern Caribbean and we liked it better than the western. My favorite excursion was the Catamaran sail and snorkle trip in Tortola. Great snorkling. Lynne hurt me in St.Thomas with the purchase of a ring but she and her sister had a great time shopping for it. Magens Bay is breath taking. Some people had stated that they could have done without the stop at San Juan but we took a tour of the city and the capital building and the fort of San Cristabol ( I know I butchered that spelling) were worth the trip.
As you can tell we had a great cruise and I highly recommend this ship. The only negative was the long wait to get on which was due to customs not clearing the ship on time. They were an hour late when we arrived back also. I lost at the casino but the dealers were polite and interesting to talk to. by the way, for the show Ballywood I recommend you sit in row five about midway in. There was a good mix of young and old on board. I turned 55 on the cruise and the young college students on board for spring break were great to be around.