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pswlrw

Back from the Dawn 4/25 - 5/2

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Hello all,

Had a lovely trip on the Dawn last week and wanted to let you all know what my favorites (and not so favorites) were. I got so much great information from these boards, I wanted to give a little back.

THE SHIP - First of all, the Dawn is an absolutely beautiful ship. There is amazing artwork everywhere, including 3 Andy Warhol's series on the stairways (they have removed the Chairman Mao series) and, of course, the amazing originals in LeBistro. However, I did find it quite difficult to navigate around this ship and I prefer a more dramatic and central atrium.

THE ROOM - I stayed in an aft Balcony (BA) and would recommend this room to anyone. The balcony is quite a bit deeper and wider than the standard balcony room (thanks to fellow CC'er Singitalto (Maryann) for confirming when she and her husband came to take a look!) The room is smaller than other balcony cabins I've had (on Triumph and Disney) but very pretty and well laid out especially, as others have posted, the 3 compartment bathroom.

THE STAFF - Our room stewards were fabulous! The girl was very shy, but Ranji (at least I think that's what he told us to call him) was great. He introduced himself to us right away and we got a different towel animal every night. It was my 13 year old daughter and I traveling together so by the third day we had shoes everywhere. When we came back to the cabin we had our "Wall of Shoes" where they had gathered and lined them all so we could find them. For some reason, we just loved this!!

The majority of the crew on board are amazingly cheerful. Particular kudos to Leonardo the Bartender. He is the main guy at Gatsby's everynight, but we saw this man everywhere! Pool bar, Java Cafe, Spinnakers late night - even on Stirrup Cay. Another bartender that works early evenings in Gatsby's would do all sort of pouring stunts and showed my daughter some great tricks (with stirrers, straws, etc.) Dorina was one our waitstaff at Cagneys and she was an absolute pleasure. Another Cagneys' waiter whose name I don't recall actually stood at the table and cracked my friends lobster claw and pulled all the meat out of it for him! When we asked about the flambe of the day he said it was cherries jubilee. When another friend mentioned that she like bananas foster better, he went down 5 decks to get bananas from "a friend of his" and made us all a delicious batch of the Bananas Foster! That is great service. The Star Bar crew are also fabulous and just a pleasure to see their smiling faces when we walked in for our pre-dinner drink or after dinner cigarette break.

ENTERTAINMENT - I must confess, we didn't see a single show, movie or game type event. Although we did see the Sexy Legs contest on the pool deck (Cheryl - Jerry was robbed!) I don't normally do these during a cruise, so it was no reflection on the Dawn. We loved Caribbean Wave (the poolside band) and Modal Magic (top 40's type band - Spinnakers mostly). Tony Payne at Gatsby's was another favorite - does great Frank Sinatra tunes!

THE FOOD/RESTAURANTS - Frankly, I was a little disappointed in the food. We had 3 great meals, several good meals and several mediocre ones. We ate at the buffet only on the day we left and twice for breakfast, then we started going to the Venetian. Our meal at Le Bistro was definitely the best of the cruise but, unfortunately, took 4 hours to complete. I love a leisurely dinner, but there was definitely some sort of a problem going on that was never explained to us, although once we mentioned the problem to our maitre'd, we had 4 people swarming all over us! Should've spoken up sooner. Our waiter was a charming guy, but just seemed overwhelmed. As I mentioned before, Cagneys was excellent on the 2 occasions we ate there. The main restaurants were okay to very good, with the Chauterbriand and Rack of Lamb being particularly good choices.

Sorry this was so long.

Paula

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Thanks for the info! Sounds like a great time! What cabin number were you in? Did you do any shore excursions? If so how were they? How was your weather this time of year? We leave in 20 days!

Allyson

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;05;23;16;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
Till our 10th annivesary cruise without the kids!

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Great info. Thanks. It seems as though September will never get here. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

Did you do any shore excursions? Which ones? I keep hearing how small the private island is - what did you think? Any tips you could pass along would be great.

Thanks alot and glad you had a great time.
G

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Paula, YES, Gerry was robbed [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] At least he got a koozie out of it [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

It was great meeting you. We had an awesome time!

Cheryl

[img]http://www.gifs.net/animate/ag00612_.gif[/img]
Carnival Inspiration 4/01
NCL Majesty 7/02
NCL Dawn 4/04

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Just a few more notes to supplement pswlrw's notes. We also came home yesterday.....today we have the Blue Monday blues.

Anyway, we saw pretty much all of the shows. The Jean Ryan shows are really super. My favorite was the tribute to Broadway. There was also a comedian/juggler who was quite funny and a husband/wife magician pair. There was also a comedian from New York who did a few shows Friday and Saturday. I only saw the first one (the family oriented one) but my husband went to see both of his 18-and-older shows and liked them as well.

The island is smaller than the other private islands we've been to, but still nice. I personally didn't care for the umbrellas which are made of a mesh-like material so the sun comes through them; I'd prefer one that gives complete shade. Also, I prefer the long lounge chairs as opposed to the low-in-the-sand beach chairs that NCL provides. But the water is exceptionally clear and there is a very large area available for calm swimming/snorkeling so you do have some swimming space to yourself.

We were supposed to be at private island on Thursday until 6:00 p.m. but due to bad tendering conditions on Thursday, the captain took us to Nassau instead and then we went to the private island on Friday. Unfortunately, we did not stay until 6:00 p.m. but had to be on the last tender to the ship by 1:00 p.m. I would have preferred a longer day on the island, but I'm glad we got there at all (if the weather was bad again for tendering on Friday, we would have had to cancel the stop all together).

We were traveling with our 11-year-old son, but he stayed with us the whole trip so I don't know anything about the kids programs.

My son is a true beach bum, so all of our shore excursions involved the beach. In Port Canaveral, we went to the Holiday Inn at Cocoa Beach. We were able to use their pool, rest rooms, changing facilities, etc. and of course the beach. It was a nice facility. The beach water was too cold for me that day but my husband and son were in despite the drizzly weather and loved it.

In Miami, we again opted for the beach shore excursion at the Fontainbleau Hilton. A beautiful hotel where we were able to have a private cabana for changing and resting, use of their facilities and beach. The water at the beach in Miami was much warmer and clearer and we all enjoyed it, though we were frequently the only brave souls in the ocean that day, again due to drizzly weather and rough waves.

In Nassau, we just took a taxi on our own to Cabbage Beach near the Atlantis and Sheraton. The Sheraton has outside showers and rest rooms near their pool area and were nice enough to let the cruise passengers use these facilities free of charge. Bahamian natives were at the entrance to the beach if you wanted a beach umbrella or lounge chairs and ladies visited to offer braids or beach wraps for sale.

At the private island, we did not do an excursion either. We just rented a float and relaxed. Had some lunch at the barbecue. Before we knew it, it was time to head back. As I said, we wish this had been a longer stop.

We did not try any of the extra charge restaurants. We agree with some other posters in that since we've already paid for the cruise, we'd rather our meals be included. We did eat at the Tratorria (Italian) restaurant one night and at Salsa (Tex-Mex) one night. Both require reservations but no extra charges. Both were very good.

We never got to visit the Aqua restaurant, but we did eat in the Venetian several times and Impressions once. All were good. I do agree with one previous poster that some of the entrees are fancy and it's hard for kids to find something to their taste. However, the Aqua/Impressions sometimes have slightly different menus from the Venetian so you can check these before you decide where to eat that night. For example, one night, Aqua & Impressions had a sirloin steak encrusted with allspice and peppercorns, but the Venetian had a broiled sirloin steak and baked potato. They are similar, but we were able to opt for the Venetian with just the plain steak.

If there are any other things you're wondering about, post and we'll try to help.

You will love the Dawn and will have a wonderful vacation.

CRUISERS04

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Great report! How did your daughter enjoy the trip? Did she participate in any of the teen activities? If so, was there a fun variety and plenty to do? Thanks for any info.

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cruisers04
Glad you had such a good time. Was the Holiday Inn an excursion or something you planned on your own? Did they charge for use of the facilities and was there dining available? Thanks

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ONTHEOPENSEAS:

The Holiday Inn in Cocoa Beach and the Fontainbleau in Miami were both excursions purchased through the ship. I believe the cost for an adult was $34 and child $27. The facilities (rest rooms, changing facilities, pool) were available for use free of charge. There was a hut where you could rent beach chairs and/or umbrellas. There were at least two beach grills and a restaurant (may be more but that's what we personally saw). We ordered snacks and drinks at the grill by the pool and paid in cash. Same at Fontainbleau.

One word of warning.....I have seen this posted on the boards several times, but it happened to us....we pre-registered our shore excursions on-line a few weeks before we left. Never heard anything and after reading the posts on these boards, we thought we'd better verify with NCL. The day before we left (Saturday), we called NCL and they had absolutely NO record of our bookings. Also, because it was a Saturday, their shore excursion desk was closed and they could not reserve them for us over the phone. We had to wait until we were on board. Once on board, we went directly to the shore excursion desk to book. There was still availability of the Cocoa Beach excursion but we were put on a WAITING LIST for Fontainbleau Miami. Needless to say we were very upset. It ended up working out because several people cancelled because of the drizzly overcast weather we had, but I would advise checking over the phone any shore excursions you've booked on-line.

CRUISERS04

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ONTHEOPENSEAS:

Forgot to mention, the Cocoa Beach excursion stops at Ron Jon Surf Shop also after your day at the Holiday Inn, so you get a chance to shop at their huge store. The bus runs every 30 minutes so you can shop and then pick up the bus when you're ready. Also, there's a Walgreen's right across the street from Ron Jon if you've forgotten anything.

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ally10169:

You asked about the weather, especially 20 days from now. We were on the 4/18 - 4/25 cruise, and had spectacular weather the four port days, sunny and about 80 degrees each day. We were also on the June 6, 2003 Dawn cruise, and also had great weather. In Port Canaveral, we went to epcot for the day, and it was very HOT, at least 90, and uncomfortable for some. Miami was also very hot, upper 80's, but we spent much of the day at South Beach, where ocean breezes made in compfortable. On shore and back on ship, it was hot. Thursday and Friday were great beach days on the respective islands, temps around 80, comfortable breeze.

On the Miami stop my wife and I opted for the beach, while my brother went to the Everglades. We did not want to spend a day in the "swamp" at 90 degrees. It actually wasn't bad for them that day, they had a great excursion, better than they had expected. They did get caught in some T'showeres, surprising to us, as there was not hint of that near the city.

Good luck with the weather, just be prepared for some heat. Be careful on the deck, it can get pretty hot to walk on, and shady spots come at a premium. One hint I recall, was on the top deck towards the front of the ship, starboard side, we found an area in front of some large intake air ducts provided a nice cool breeze no matter whether the ship was moving or not. Check it out if in need of some relief, and depending on the time of day, it provided the option of sun and/or shade. This recent cruise was very windy on board, from the time we boarded until the time we disembarked, so did not that area this time.

Best regards,

Tom

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Thanks for the info. It took a booking more than a year in advance to get that room. We will be in room 10730. Since there are only 6 of these rooms it is very hard to get.(you do mean the two BA's with two romance suites on either side. I missed the posts about the bathrooms. What is a 3 compartment bathroom?. Our only cruise we had on the Dawn was in a AB penthouse and the bathroom was big, even had a TV above the tub.

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Theroos - Were were in 10230. The bathroom is separated into 3 compartments, the toilet has a sliding door, the shower has a sliding door and the sink/mirror is in the middle. While this room may seem a bit small to you after the Suite, I'm sure you will love it as much as we did.

We didn't do any shore excursions through the ship. We had rain at the two florida stops so we just took a cab ($20) to Cocoa Beach, went to RonJon's and then to Captain J's deck bar on the beach where we lunch and a few drinks while the monsoons rolled through! In Miami we took a cab to South Beach, walked around, window shopped and had lunch and drinks.

In Nassau we got a day room at the Sheraton for $89. It was a lovely suite facing the ocean and we really liked being able to use it to shower, etc and just get out of the sun. I think this was definitely worth it for the full day we had, but if you are only there until 2, you can use the Sheraton's facilities for free.

I agree that the private island it way too small, although once you are floating in the water you don't really care!!

My 13 year old never met up with any other kids. She went to the teen meet the first night, but when she got there, it seemed like it was all younger kids (probably running over from a previous event). She ended up going to a movie with some other teens that showed up there, but the rest of the time she actually wanted to hang out with her old mom. Frankly, it will probably be one of the things I treasure most when I look back on this trip in the years to come!

Any other questions - fire away.

Paula

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