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24cruzn

Comments from 5/30/04 Dawn Cruise

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Embarkation: Very organized - took less than 30 minutes. And we were able to carry on our luggage. Make sure you have all your documents and a credit card at hand to speed things up.

 

Stateroom: Booked BE guaranteed balcony. Assigned 9th floor forward near elevator, so we were concerned about noise, but not a problem at all. Staterooms are small but cheerful and functional. Lots of wood hangers and four side shelves for clothes in closet, plus upper shelf. Three drawers for clothes. Our empty suitcases fit under the beds. The bed was very firm but comfortable - pillows could stand improvement. We loved the balcony - had coffee or breakfast on it in morning and in the late afternoon before going to dinner we would enjoy relaxing in the lounge chairs enjoying the beautiful weather. Air conditioner worked beautifully (thank goodness).

 

Bathroom small but adequate. Shower is a good size and water pressure not too bad. Liquid soap and shampoo provided in wall dispenser, but we brought our own. Shelf over sink holds toiletries and two glasses in holders. Also soap dispenser, but ours continually leaked so we kept a tissue or washcloth underneath it. Commode has typical vacuum flush, but ours didn't work twice - seems if one toilet on your line (up to 50) gets stopped up (usually by someone flushing an inappropriate item), all the toilets on that line are affected until the plumber clears the problem. Both times the issue was resolved quickly. I suggest bringing a can of Lysol or other spray deodorizer or disinfectant because there seemed to be a constant "bathroom" smell in the commode area--it's not that the bathroom wasn't cleaned properly, but appeared to come from the pipes. I've never experienced this problem on any other cruise ship.

 

There is a wheel outside your cabin door which lets the cabin steward know when you want your room cleaned, beds turned down or do not disturb. He puts it on welcome when the room is ready. Two problems with this: the wheel is outside, so anyone passing by can move it (could be a problem when anyone looking for some fun decides to change it). Also, if you forget to switch it from Do Not Disturb to Make Up Cabin or Turn Down Bed, the steward will not enter your room.

 

Restaurants: Ate at all three main restaurants - basically the same menu in each one. Venetian was our favorite - located aft deck 6 - opulent, grand staircase and lots of windows. Wait staff was attentive. Impressions was our second choice - beautiful artwork adorned walls. Service was sporadic. Sea bass was loaded with bones, everything else was fine. Aqua was our least favorite - all women staff this restaurant. Service here was very slow and our waitress seemed annoyed every time we asked for something - I thought that was her job, but maybe not. Be sure to allow at least 1-1/2 to 2 hours for dinner, especially if trying to make a show. And realize that you may have a wait to get into any main restaurant. We ate once at La Trattoria - okay but nothing special. Blue Lagoon is good for burgers, soup, lo mein & fried rice. Also you can get coffee there before Garden Cafe breakfast buffet begins. The breakfast buffet was very good and the eggs/omelets waffles/crepe

stations were excellent. Also a toast station. Coffee was strong but not not bitter. Problem with juice machine several times but juice was available on cart serving bloody mary's & mimosas. Had sit-down breakfast in Venetian one morning, but found service slow and portions small. Preferred buffet. We usually ordered coffee/tea from room service before going down to breakfast and ordered breakfast (cereal, fruit, toast) from room service morning of excursion. They call before they come if ordered the night before or deliver within a half-hour if called in. Tipped the deliverer a couple of dollars each time.

 

Entertainment: Production numbers outstanding. Eric Reid belongs on Broadway - he's that good. Thien Fu (juggler/comedian) surprised us - very funny. Alfred & Seymour were rap comedians from LA - I suspect their brand of humor was lost on many of the passengers, but we found them funny. Other comedian was just okay - I've seen better. The biggest surprise was a flamenco guitarist Fabio Zini - he performed poolside, in Dazzles & Spinnakers and the passengers couldn't get enough of him. He had everyone saying "Exciting, no?!" The bands were good and entertained the poolside crowd with their upbeat music. Cruise Director Paul Baya and his assistant Mike did an excellent job and worked well together. Only negative comment: Bingo prices are RIDICULOUS! More people would play more often if the prices were lower.

 

Public Areas: For a ship this size, why is there only one main outdoor pool and why is it more than 5 feet deep. There is a smaller, shallower pool behind the bandstand, but hardly anyone used it - basically occupied by kids. I encountered several people standing on the steps leading into the pool blocking the way who refused to move because they wanted to cool off but couldn't swim and were afraid to go any further. The four hot tubs near the pool were constantly in use and although there are signs prohibiting children under 12 without adult supervision, I saw much younger children alone in the hot tubs. There is a separate children's pool and hot tubs, but there were plenty in the main pool area. I enjoyed the hot tub on deck 13 in the front of the ship. It was never crowded - in fact I rarely saw anyone in it. Plenty of deck chairs if you're not obsessed with sitting near the pool. Lounge chairs also on Deck 7 under the overhang for those looking for a quiet, cool, shady spot to read or rest. Never used the pools in the health club - the weather was too nice to be inside. If they offer poolside massages, take advantage of it - $1 a minute, minimum of 10 minutes - you'll feel like a million bucks. Drinks can be expensive especially if you forget to tell them a "regular" drink, they'll bring you the drink in a souvenier glass - how many souvenier glasses do you really need? If you remember to bring it with you, they'll refill it for less than the original cost. We particularly liked the Star Bar above Topsiders - it's a piano bar and quite romantic and perfect for quiet conversation. Spinnaker's Lounge was good for viewing - in the front of the ship with large windows and plenty of seats. Not big gamblers, but the couple of times I was in the casino there were plenty of slot machines available and spots open at the gaming tables. I made by contribution and didn't win, but had fun.

 

Debarkation: Walked off the ship with our luggage at 10:30 a.m. Grabbed a cab to GCT right in front of the pier. Home around noon. No fuss no muss.

 

Had a great time and the weather in Florida was HOT!! Can't imagine what it will be like in July and August.

 

Hope my comments answer questions you may have. Happy sailing!

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Thanks for the info, especially about the pool.

 

My kids are too big for the little pool in the kids area but 5 ft maybe too high for them to stand around in but ok to swim in.

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Thanks for the info--I have a list going with tips for my cruise, and some of this will definitely be added, especially the point about the deck 13 hot tub and the souvenir glasses. I'll get two of them and then make a point to ask for regular ones!

 

It's a good point, I always travel with air deodorizer. If anyone is interested, you can get a tiny spray can of something called Ozium at most automotive shops. One tiny squirt works really well; I work for a doctor and we use it there too, albeit in a larger can!

 

What time did you get to the pier?

 

Explorer of the Seas (Western Caribbean) 12/7/02

Serenade of the Seas (Canada) 9/25/03

Majesty of the Seas (Bahamas) 2/16/04

Norwegian Dawn (Bahamas) 2/20/05

 

Until we sail the Dawn!

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Great review Sue. Sorry I missed meeting you on the cruise. Not sure I would do the Dawn or NCl as a solo traveler again, but I did have a good time, and it is a beautiful, clean ship. I have a review about ready to post

 

Concur about Aqua, Impressions and the Star Bar. I would recommend Le Bistro and Bamboo if you like Asian food. It is odd about the single deep pool. I lounged on Deck 12 to avoid all the chair savers on the lower level.

 

And, your right, Florida was HOT. I have a review about ready to post.

 

Marty

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Glad you had a good time.

 

Thanks for the info regarding the "wheel" outside the cabin door. So far I've read so many different posts and reviews and I've never heard of this before.

 

Good info to have.

 

G

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We arrived at the pier around noon and were on the ship before 12:30. We timed it perfectly, but the Dawn was the only ship in port that morning. I'm sure things get much crazier when there are three or four ships docked. I strongly suggest packing light and carrying your bags aboard yourself if possible. It really saves time and worry boarding the ship, and on the other end you get to walk off the ship as soon as it's cleared. We didn't wait for the announcement but asked our room steward where we would leave from (6 fore and 7 mid), so I went down to 6 a little before 10, saw they were letting the VIPs off (they had gathered in the Stardust), went back to our cabin, grabbed our stuff and walked off right after them. They swipe your card as you leave, then you hand customs your completed forms, and out you go.

 

Forgot to mention a few things in my previous post. There were several pooside BBQs - the first when you sail away on Sunday, the others on the at sea days. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken, sausage, ribs, corn on the cob, asst'd salads. There was a pooside Caribbean party one night. Band played and Paul and Mike had people up doing various line dances. Get there early if you want to sit on the pool deck. We ended up going up to the Bimini Bar where you couldn't see much but could enjoy the music while you sat and had a drink.

 

There were many activities during the day including shuffleboard, card playing, cooking demonstrations, chocolate buffet, art auctions, napkin folding, wine tasting. The cinema has several showings of a different movie every day. We played trivia in the Pearly Kings Pub and the Bimini Bar several times. Since 9/11 there are no tours of the ship, but there is behind-the-scenes slide show. The library has loads of books and magazines, as well as daily puzzles for your enjoyment. The Galleria shopping area has duty-free liquor, cigarettes, perfume, jewelry, glassware, leather, cruisewear, the usual shipboard souveneirs. I bought perfume in Nassau for much less than it was selling aboard ship, so check ship prices before going ashore in Nassau so you can compare savings.

 

We only had about 300 children on our cruise (mostly preteen), but were told that number would go up to 1100 by mid-June. I suspect our cruise was a LOT quieter than the ones taking place during the summer.

 

We went to Sea World when the ship docked in Port Canaveral - good trip at a reasonable cost but a very long day (9:30 to 6:30) in extremely hot weather. Everybody was dragging when they boarded the bus to return to the ship at 5:15. Spoke to people that evening who had gone to Universal Studios or DisneyWorld - some of them ended up at the infirmaries in both places suffering from heat exhaustion. When the ship docked the next day in Miami, many people did not get off - it was just too hot. You will definitely need a hat, sunglasses, strong sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) when you go ashore. A spray bottle of cold water to cool you down is strongly recommended. We must have bought a dozen bottles of drinking water (what came out of the water fountains at Sea World was gross), so if you have an insulated backpack I suggest filling it with bottles of cold water.

 

Hope this info comes in handy - have a great cruise!

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A couple more things I wanted to share. This was our first freestyle cruise and, although we liked the freedom of where and when to eat, it's a tradeoff for the personal touch we previously found when we were assigned the same table. Your wait staff would learn very quickly your likes and dislikes and would provide those items to you without asking. They knew if you were on a restricted diet and made sure to have items available to meet your needs (sugarfree, lowfat, etc). There was no "checking" for availability - they made it their business to have that information. Also, if you were trying to make a show, they would do their best to get you served and out of the dining room in plenty of time. As it stands now, service is sometimes very slow and the individual attention you get with traditional cruises is missing. But IMO it's worth the sacrifice not to be locked in to a specific time and restaurant. The other benefit of freestyle cruising is when it comes to debarkation. We used to hate being coralled in a public area of the ship while waiting for the ship to be cleared and our color to be called. It was a pleasure to be able to wait in our cabin until we could leave. I'm still not sure how the staff get the rooms ready for the next group of passengers in such a short time, but somehow they do. So, do I recommend freestyle cruising? You bet, but with the understanding that it's not for everyone and has it's good and bad points.

 

The other bit of information is for parents of babies and toddlers still in diapers. Apparently if your child is not yet toilet trained, he or she is not allowed in any pool (even the children's pool). This restriction is posted in the freestyle daily. I couldn't help but overhear a discussion between the cruise director and parents of a one-year old. To say the parents were upset (furious) is putting it mildly. They were unaware of this health law restriction prior to booking the cruise and were outraged when asked to take their child (who was wearing disposable swimups) out of the pool. They had never heard of such a law and wanted to know if this was a U.S. law or just NCL restriction. Don't know what they were told, but they were NOT happy.

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