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Dawn, Bermuda 8/24 - 8/31 thoughts and a few pictures to boot!

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After a Long summer of dealing with my Mother's illness and the joy of our first granddaughter's birth and a previous plan to head to St. Thomas fell through, we decided very last minute to try NCL Dawn out of Boston. We are Cape Codders who live about 85 miles south of Boston and the Dawn sails weekly from Boston, so this cruise would not entail any air travel. This would represent out 20th cruise, having previously cruised with Princess, but primarily with Royal Caribbean. Of late, Celebrity has become our line of preference. Our daughter and son in law cruised this itinerary last summer and enjoyed it! In fact, she actually recommended this cruise to my wife as a great, quick diversion for us. So with some trepidation, we booked just 14 days before the 8/24/12 cruise.

 

With NCL's freestyle cruising, we were unsure of what to expect, so we did spend our free moments learning what we could here on cruise critic about NCL and the Dawn. Booking last minute did not give us a great choice of cabins, in fact, there only were only 3 balconies left when I checked online so we snagged the last BX guarantee cabin. we were assigned cabin 10012, starboard forward. We utilized a travel agent that we've used before, and they credited us with $175 in inboard credit. The price was the same as booking direct with NCL, and booking so close to sail date, I wasn't concerned with having to make changes directly.

 

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Membership in Starwood’s with American Express allows us to stay in most Sheratons and Westins, and with the Black Falcon Terminal being located on the Boston waterfront in South Boston, we able to secure a room at the Westin waterfront, a scant 1/4 mile to the cruise terminal. There is a five story garage across the street from the terminal that has a cruise rate of $16/night for cruise passengers. If you are coming a night early like we did, and you wish to park before embarkation day, you will need to take your parking ticket to the office before you checkout. They Pre-program the parking cards the day of embarkation, otherwise you will not get the discounted rate.

 

The Westin was fine and you will get either a room with a view of the Boston skyline or the cruise terminal. If you like waking up to see your ship out your window, ask for a room overlooking the waterfront. There is a Starbucks in the lobby for a quick breakfast as well as a full service restaurant. West in also features Starbucks coffee in your room gratis!

 

We had our coffee and headed over to the terminal around 10:30. We were greeted by many passengers coming off the ship who were quick to tell us we would have a great time! There were ample personnel available to direct us to the porters to drop our luggage. There is a separate station to get your luggage tags. Where we booked so close to sail date, we did not get them in the mail. Mr. Michael Devlin took very prompt and excellent care of us! Meeting the porters offered them a challenge which resulted in a story for later.

 

Living on Cape Cod, we are very close to a beach within walking distance to our house. We are very use to carrying our chairs and various beach paraphernalia and don't mind walking just a little further to find a quitter spot. My DW is an educator, and we have to travel during breaks in the school schedule. Although we were graced with the birth if our first grandchild this summer, we definitely prefer to spend our vacation time quietly and away from loads of kids. So with that background, and the fact that we love to find quite beaches when we cruise, and most beaches have rental chairs and umbrellas in just one, more crowded location, we decided to bring an umbrella and two small beach chairs with us!!!!!

 

Our luggage consisted of one 21" carry on sized suitcase each and our backpacks. I wrapped a bungee cord around each beach chair on our suitcase, and attached the umbrella to my chair. They were very secure! The porter was up to the challenge of placing them on his cart, and a little extra tip was encouragement for him to see if each piece could arrive intact. I am an avid fan of San Pellegrino sparkling water as my drink of choice, so a 12 pack, well bound with a luggage tag was also added to his cart. More on this luggage saga later.

 

Once the luggage was taken care of, a quick review of our cruise documents and newly arrived, updated passports, we were on our way upstairs to check in. Quick note, check the expiration dates on your passports! The date on our passports had expired in late July, and we had to scramble and used expedited service to get ours in time for the cruise. Ten years of traveling went by much more quickly than I had thought! Little did we realize that when we took our first cruise in 2001 for our 20th anniversary, that we would become frequent cruisers! In fact, I was sure that the trip to the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean's then new ship, the Explorer of the Seas, would be our once in a lifetime trip! My DW reminded me last night, that on that cruise, my most frequent comments were, "the kids would love this"! And so, the next year we brought the kids (the same young lady who with her wonderful husband made us grandparents in June). While my Bride and I waited until we were in our 40's for our first cruise, our kid’s fist cruised in their teens!

 

Wow did I get off topic quickly!!!!! Back to check in, there was absolutely no wait at this time and there were close to 25 stations open. We proceeded directly to an agent with absolutely no wait and after inquiring about any cancellations or upgrade opportunities, were told that that the ship was sailing at full capacity. We were issued our sign and sail card establishing our onboard credit. The next stage was to see the lovely Helen who assigned us to boarding Group 3 and were instructed to take a seat and enjoy the complimentary coffee and juice. We had the obligatory boarding photo taken with the green backdrop for them to assign you a scene. We only wish that we had worn kelly green shirts so that we would have blended into the green screen backdrop, giving us the "float in heads" effect in the pictures! It was probably 10:45 to 11:00 am at this time. A notice was given out to all passengers checking in which informed us that due the impending tropical storm Joyce, that we would arrive in Bermuda at 8:00 am on Sunday rather than 11:00 am, and that the storm could possibly divert the course and the itinerary. Having travelled through Hurricane Francis in 2004 on the Navigator and having our 7 day cruise turn into a 10 day cruise, we were well aware of the dangers of cruising during hurricane season.

 

The terminal began to fill up quickly however, there were still many debarking, so we waited for a bit before boarding. This was fine with me as I still had a few business calls to make and as Murphy's Law always has it, our main printer at my office started making some unnatural sounds two hours before I was leaving. Xerox service is difficult to find on Cape Cod, and although we have backup printers, this is our main workhorse. The office had informed me that the technician was on tear way, and the last few fires extinguished allowing me to begin the vacation with a clear conscience. There are many benefits to owning a small company, but there are also many responsibilities that are inherent as well. I am blessed to have a great team who always step up when I'm gone!

 

The group numbers were starting to be called and within just a few minutes, group 3 was announced. up we went and in no time we were entering the Dawn on deck 7. Being our first time on the Dawn and on NCL for that matter, we decided to acquaint ourselves with ship before we headed to lunch. Knowing that the Venetian dining room was open on boarding day, we took our time to explore and take a few pictures. We wondered for a while expecting that the staterooms would not be available until 1:00 pm or so.

 

The only thing my Bride was adamant about was getting to the spa to secure spa passes for the week. We've thoroughly enjoyed the adult solariums on other cruises where things are a bit quieter, and have fewer children around, and the El Dorado Spa seemed like a perfect spot to chill for the week. The passes were $119 per person and there was no couples rate as has been mentioned many times here on CC ($199/couple) I plan on checking with the Spa Manager to see if that is the case, but well worth it any either rate. On boarding day, the Spa opens after the safety drill. With passes secured, DW happy, it was time for lunch.

 

Knowing that the buffets can be a madhouse upon boarding, we headed to the Venetian dining room for a slower paced meal. We were seated immediately and service was very good. My bride ordered a trio of appetizers and I had the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. It was fine, nothing to write home about, however, we had deemed this cruise as the "Chill Cruise". We specifically agreed not to continuously compare the differences between NCL, Celebrity and RCCL so that we could concentrate on relaxing. That agreement would serve us well throughout the week. As we enjoyed dessert, the announcement was made that the staterooms were available for occupancy!

 

By booking last minute, we took what we could of the remaining 3 balcony staterooms. We were assigned 10012, starboard side fore. It is the first of the balconies without the bulkhead surround. If you look at the ship from the pier or starboard side, the first 4 or 5 balcony cabins from the bridge have more privacy and less of an opening compared to the standard balconies. Here is where we found the starkest difference between the other lines we have travelled, size of stateroom and balcony. NCL has the smallest of them all, and please don't get me wrong, they were both perfectly acceptable, I'm just pointing out the differences.

 

What I forgot to mention was that on our way up to our room, we observed the staging area on our deck for the luggage delivery. As we walked by, I noticed my suitcase. It was very easy to identify, being the only one there with a beach chair and beach umbrella attached! My 12 pack of bottled San Pellegrino, my DW's beach chair were also in view. What was missing was her suitcase. I was concerned that her beach chair was not marked and her suitcase was nowhere to be found. It then dawned on me; she had packed a bottle of wine in her suitcase which she meant to pack in her carry on, meaning only one thing! A trip to the naughty room! My DW who many times only can see in two colors, black and white, who could be nicknamed Polly, as in Polly Pure would not get her suitcase delivered, until she admitted her misdeed, feted up, went through the humiliation of having her bag inspected! She was BUSTED! As you can imagine, I'm rarely in this position of being able to laud anything over her! She is more intelligent, so much more talented and disciplined than I that I just had to relish, if only for a moment, in this indiscretion!

 

In took my luggage, the beach chairs and the water to our room and proceeded to unpack. We looked in the literature provided to see who or where to call to pay the appropriate $15 corkage fee to free the bottle of wine and it's accomplices from the confines of the luggage prison. My duly embarrassed Bride went to Guest Relations to confess her sin and beg for forgiveness to free her unsavory illicit goods. By the time she arrived back to the cabin, I was unpacked. She shared her plight, no luggage until they deliver a letter, reminding her of the guest contract, that she had stowed "illicit goods". Now to be fair and feeling somewhat guilty about piling it on here, she just thought because we were not flying, she could put it in her.

 

By this time, it was close to the mandatory safety drill, so we headed down to our prescribed destination, the Stardust Theater. It took a while for all the guests to fill in, but it was painless, and you were not required to bring your life jacket. We headed back to the cabin, and there it was, hanging on our cabin number plaque, the dreaded scarlet letter! My Bride was required to report to the naughty Rooney to be subjected to the interrogation of the luggage police. Being the loving, caring Husband that I am, I offered to go with her (maybe, just maybe wanting to see her squirm?). The time allotted was between 4 and 6 pm. With the knowledge that she might not be the sole cruiser in this position, we decided to report early, 15 minutes early to be exact! We took the aft elevators down to deck 4, and as the doors opened, there they were, 3 interrogators the along with a uniformed member of security! She sheepishly handed off her letter, identified her bag and the inspection began. There it was the item of contempt, her single bottle of red wine! While my poor Bride was nervously awaiting the all clear, the inspector was more enamored with the Hookah pipe that had been found in the next bag. He thought it was cool! Anyway, after paying the appropriate corkage fee, we were on our way, me grinning ear to ear and she admonishing me about enjoying this much too much!

 

After our adventure, she was anxious to head up to deck for sail away and her appointed drink for this cruise, a dark and stormy, Ginger beer and Gosling Black Rum. First we tried the English Pub to order, but they wouldn't allow the drink outside of the Pub. Proceeding to the Bimini Bar, she was able to get exactly what she wanted. Looking for thee prime sail away vantage point, we found ourselves at the bow of the vessel on the 12 or 13th deck within the Quiet Zone. One sole hot tub, capacity 8 people was a perfect spot to experience the sail from Boston Harbor around our home on Cape Cod and out into Nantucket Sound! The seas were calm and the sail away was very enjoyable! We would come to find the fore quiet zone a relaxing area to lounge, away from the frenzy of the Oasis Pool.

 

I went to use the spa and my Bride went back to the cabin, and as we rounded Provincetown, the Captain announced that whales could be spotted off the starboard side! Feeding humpback whales were abundant and it made me pleased that I had remembered our binoculars! My wife actually was able to capture a few pictures, although barely visible. The whales were one to two miles off the starboard side of the ship.

 

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After the whale adventure, we got ready for the first of our dinner meals on board. This cruise, we decided to book specialty restaurants for six of the seven nights. Our first evening, La Cuccina was booked. Arriving at our pre-booked time of 7:00 PM, we were promptly seated at a table for two by the window. Our very affable waiter was efficient, and the food good. I had read mixed reviews of this venue, some saying it was no better than an Olive Garden. I would agree with that assessment. One note, if you friend NCL on Facebook, there is a coupon for a free bottle of wine if you book a specialty restaurant on debarkation day. There is also an onboard special that you will receive a free bottle of red or white if you schedule your specialty restaurant before 6 PM. We had pre-booked all of our reservations, and found that if you pre-booked three reservations you received a discount. We took advantage of that and booked six nights, two for Cagney’s, two for La Bistro, one each for LaCuccina and Moderna. As you will see later, we amended those choices midweek.

 

We attended the opening night shows and found them entertaining. During the week we determined that there was some very strong talent onboard, from the pianist/singers, to the main atrium duo, to the exciting Extreme Vegas team of Justino and Danielle, and we enjoyed very, very much, the improv comedy of Second City.

 

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Our stateroom attendant, Michael Ramos, was the best that we experienced in our 20 cruises! We met him early our first evening, and made a few requests. A special request was made for feather pillows, two extra towels per day and the removing of the items in the refrigerator. His response was, "Consider it done!", and it most certainly was when we returned after our first evening. He was our Vacation Hero and we acknowledged him financially further our last evening. We returned to our cabin to find the first of our many towel animals that he would leave for us! More to follow!

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Really enjoying your review, can't wait to read more. I am a solo traveler and will be on the Dawn in Novemer. I have cruised on NCL twice and have not yet just sat in one of the venues to listen to the talent onboard or joined in at the various nightly venues. I felt a bit awkward going alone. This time however, I have decided to do most of the activities available and not limit myself. I am going to the White Hot Party, speciality rest., and the shipboard entertainment. Are there different entertainers performing during at the same time or do they space it out? How did you choose and which were your favorites? Any suggestions would be welcomed.

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which means working a lot of hours, so I will try to post another installment this evening! If nothing else, I'll get a few more pictures of our adventures up. I have some amazing pictures of one of the small beaches just past Horseshoe Bay which should inspire anyone to walk an extra 5 to 10 minutes to experience heaven on earth and an absolutely amazing beach!

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The Westin offered either a port or city view, our view was of the city skyline, and literally just a quarter mile to the cruise terminal.

 

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It was illuminated wonderfully at night!

 

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Our first view of the NCL Dawn as we approached the Black Falcon Terminal!

 

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I finally got my bearings and headed down Drydock Avenue to the 5 story parking garage. All cruise parking is on the fourth level, and this was the view from the parking garage. The garage itself is just a couple of blocks to the terminal itself. Be prepared to wait a few minutes for one of the two elevators. When we arrived at the ground level, there was quite a line waiting for an empty car.

 

Parking is flat rate of $16/day for cruise passengers, and you can pay cash at the office or go directly to the exit and pay by credit card. Quick tip is to leave the ticket on your visor in the car so it doesn't get misplaced while on vacation.

 

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We turned the corner and entered the cruise terminal and it was relatively early, say 10:30 or so, many cruisers were disembarking from their week on the Dawn.

 

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Signage was good if you are not familiar with Boston upon disembarkation, and public transportation, our MBTA Silver Line is a very convenient way around Boston.

 

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A very nice gentleman directed us to the luggage tag section as we booked just ten days prior to our cruise. Being from the Cape and living by the beach, we had also decided that since we weren't flying, we would bring our sand chairs and umbrella. Some say we are crazy and that renting chairs is easier. It most certainly is, however, when you see the pictures of the beach that is located a quick 5 to 10 minute walk from Horseshoe Bay, you'll see how wise our decision was!

 

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Being a little compulsive at times, I had my handy cruise folder with me which contained my paperwork, confirmations and prepay receipts. Later in the review, you will understand how important this was on this particular cruise!

 

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With the luggage taken care of, we were up the escalator to the terminal for check in, very few cruisers were here at this time!

 

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There were approximately 15 agents available for check in, and we wasted no time in being processed. Unlike other cruise lines, your seapass card picture is taken at check in. Once complete, a lovely NCL employee ushers you to your first of many pictures that were to be taken for the week.

 

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There were plenty of chairs available and each set were based on a boarding Group. As you are processed, you are given the boarding number. Notice the green screen to the right of the picture, where you first picture is taken. They superimpose a phote of the ship behind you, actually comes out great!

 

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Water and OJ were available for those waiting. It would be over an hour before we would board, and being hyper and bored, I took some random pictures. Here is one of the ship, right outside the terminal window, so close, yet so far!!

 

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I am really enjoying your review and the pictures. We were on the Dawn the week of 8/3. It was our 3rd time on her and our 17th cruise. We really enjoyed ourselves.

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Thanks for the review and pix so far. I'll be on the Dawn for the first time next month, and I can't wait.:D I'd also love to do Bermuda someday on the Breakaway/Peter Max.

 

One of my favorite parts of a cruise is that first glimpse of the ship when heading to the port. That's my giddy moment. Keep it coming!:p

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Loving the review and pictures! It is getting me excited for my first NCL cruise. Too bad it is soooo far away for me:(

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Our boarding group number was 3, and when we were called, we proceeded directly. A nice rainbow of ballons greated us as we boarded.

 

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She may kill me for posting, but this is my Bride of 31 years, and my wonderful travel companion! She was adament about getting us to go away on this cruise. She prefers land based vacations, and we had originally planned on spending 8 days in St. Thomas this week, but our crazy summer of other responsibilities derailed those plans. We weren't sure that we would get away at all, and this cruise was her idea at the very last minute. I'm lucky to have her and thoroughly enjoy traveling alone with her!!

 

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Nothing like hearing the ding of the seapass card being inserted into the card reader!!! There were two lines and no waiting!!

 

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We entered on Deck 7 into the centrum. The first of many nice art pieces throughout the ship. I was camera crazy as we boarded so I was taking pictures of everything. With the trend in reviews moving towards pictorial rememberences, I was anxious to get enough pictures to make it effective. I've been lurking on these boards for many, many years, and rarely post, but realize just how much of my cruising experience has been enhanced from information I have garnered from cruise critic. When we did make the decision to take this cruise, this particular board was my nighttime reading daily before bed. As much as I prefer to lurk than to post, sometimes you just have to give back.

 

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The upsell of soda cards, specialty restaurants, etc. starts as soon as you board. We had prebooked all of our restaurant reservations before we boarded, so no stop for us here. We ended up at all specialty restaurants on this cruise, but we realized that after a few lunches and breakfasts in the Venetian Restaurant, we should of at least tried dinner in this main dining room at least once.

 

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Awesome review. I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. I'm boarding the Dawn a week from tomorrow so that makes it even better!

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Since we had boarded so early, we weren’t yet ready for lunch, and as new NCL cruisers, we decided to stroll around the ship and get our bearings. The joy of a new ship makes me feel like a new cruiser. Being our 20th cruise overall, sometimes it feels like the luster is off the pearl, but boarding a new ship is always brings back that sense of awe that I experience the first time I boarded a cruise ship.

 

My wife and I were honored to be given a trip to San Juan in 1994 as a benefit of receiving an award in my industry. It was the first time I saw a cruise ship gracefully sailing. I was so enamored with the grace and beauty of the ship, and knowing how much my parents had enjoyed cruising, that someday I would take my Bride on a cruise. Our first cruise was for our 20th anniversary in 2001, and I’ll never forget just how amazing the experience was.

 

My first thought after entering the centrum and moving on to our first bank of elevators was how warm the wood veneer was on this ship, and how clean it was. Then I encountered this video screen which kept a running script of the availability of the dining venues on the ship. Since we had pre-booked most of our dinners in specialty restaurants, it didn’t impact us immediately, but was a great idea I thought!

 

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The next thing that made an impact was the lovely art work on each level of the staircases. The diversity of the art, really made you be aware of your surroundings, and having a wife as an artist (she teaches art in our local middle school and is displays her work in a gallery in Provincetown) has given me a greater respect for the many mediums of art. This ship had a great variety, and here are a few examples;

 

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There were so many examples throughout the ship including the dining rooms, and even the ceiling of the Blue Lagoon restaurant. Here are a few more to view;

 

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We took a peak at the Spinnaker Lounge which has been relocated to the aft section of the ship, where we saw many of the shows including the Dating Game, The Love and Marriage Show, Quest and the Adult version of Second City Improv. If you have seen and enjoyed Saturday Night Live, take in the adult show, it was hilarious! Paul Scalley, the Cruise Director is somewhat of an acquired taste, and his late night show was good, but he seemed to be pushing (extensively) stand up routine for his post cruising days, encouraging people to contact him to book or attend his shows this fall in the New England area. The venue was good, but many of these shows filled up, so if you wish to get a decent view of any of these shows, do yourself a favor and get there early.

 

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Here is another picture of the Spinnaker Lounge, not real large, and a lot of good events held here, remember, for a good seat, get there at least 15 minutes early!

 

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We headed down to the Stardust Theater, which was good sized. The production shows were held here, as was Paul Scalley’s late night show. The shows were good, and the dancers very talented, the singers good, but we did leave the Bollywood show early, just not our taste. The show band was very good, with good brass section and an excellent guitarist.

 

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Seat saving was rampant, and NCL has a revenue producing program which I haven’t seen before. Prior to every show, they have long strips of a type of lottery ticket which gives you ten chances on each strip to match like a slot machine to win up to $2000, and included raffle tickets which would qualify you for a drawing for a cruise for 2. They were selling 4 strips for $20 the first night, but 5 strips for $20 the remaining nights. People were buying 2, 3 and 4 packages at a time, and at least 6 of the cruise directors staff were selling them each night before the shown in this venue. What they weren’t doing was enforcing the no seat saving policy. It was embarrassing for some who were holding 10 – 12 seats at a time. Again, don’t plan on walking in at the last minute and try to get center seats, aisle. One hint is that the seats down front on the extreme edges seemed to fill up last. If you are going to go to a show last minute, those might be seats to seek out.

 

Our next stop was the pool area. We spent actually no time here at all! We had booked spa passes as soon as we boarded, so most of time was spent there or at the Quiet Zone at the bow of the ship which featured a small 8 person hot tub. Great views, wind deflectors and no blaring music, and a consistent breeze made this a great alternative to the chair hogging crush of people by the Oasis Pool. This was the absolute quietest this area was all week!

 

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Thanks so much for your superb review. The writing and photography are both professional level.

 

That photo of the 'duo' in the atrium, appear to be Jose and Patti....great performers!

 

The photo of the relocated Spinnaker is my first glimpse. The last time I went down those ramps it was the former galleria shops....

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Thanks so much for your superb review. The writing and photography are both professional level.

 

That photo of the 'duo' in the atrium, appear to be Jose and Patti....great performers!

 

The photo of the relocated Spinnaker is my first glimpse. The last time I went down those ramps it was the former galleria shops....

 

Patti and Jose just re-boarded the Dawn yesterday. They've been on vacation. But they were the duo when we sailed in April.

 

I agree with you, this review is professional level and great planning from the start to put it all together!

~Cindy

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I love all these pictures! I keep reliving exciting memories & moments.

One of my favorite experiences is coming off the gangway and stepping onboard and you captured that like it could be one of my own cruises!

I hope we get to see a photo of you too!

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Thanks so much for your kind words, I'll have a little more time this weekend to finish up. Have some amazing pictures of a small beach near Horshoe Bay that made me so glad we brought our own small beach chairs. Great romantic spot for a quiet day on the beach and well worth it if you are able to walk a bit past the crowds!

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Thanks so much for your kind words, I'll have a little more time this weekend to finish up. Have some amazing pictures of a small beach near Horshoe Bay that made me so glad we brought our own small beach chairs. Great romantic spot for a quiet day on the beach and well worth it if you are able to walk a bit past the crowds!

 

Can't wait! Love all the pictures.

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:DI am really enjoying your review! We were on the Dawn in 2005, before the refurb. It was our first cruise ever, and you are bringing back so many memories. Keep the review coming!!!!And continue to post LOTS of pictures, please.

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Terrific review, and so helpful. Thanks. Loved the explanation of the naughty room. I hear about it a lot on these boards but never knew just what went on.

Oh, and did you marry your lovely bride when she was just 10 years old??:)

Kathy

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