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Boston to Bermuda with Young Kids: August 15, 2014--TONS of photos

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We are a family of five on our first cruise ever! This was also our first trip to Bermuda, so everything was new. I spent about six months here. I mostly lurked, but towards the end I started posting. I learned so much about NCL and Bermuda that I wanted to share our experiences in the hopes that others can benefit (or at least, cruise vicariously with us).

 

My DH and I are in our mid-40s and have three kids: DD is almost 11, DS1 is 8 and DS2 is 6. We normally take very long (2000+ mile) road trips for vacation, so this year, we wanted to do something different. The fact that we could drive under 50 miles to the cruise terminal and unpack only once was highly appealing, and the bonus was we got to visit beautiful Bermuda for three days.

 

We were anxious to get our vacation started, so we arrived at the terminal around 10:30 and were greeted with this:

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The first sign, literally and figuratively, that we were truly on our way.

 

We got through check-in with very little ado. The kids busied themselves while we waited to board...

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The time passed quickly and soon we were headed up the gangplank.

 

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We were certainly ready for some fun!

 

Before I get to our fun, I am going to include the 'ship' photos. I have really enjoyed looking at the photos in other reviews, and I know that many people might not care about all the details of our trip but really just want to see the ship...so I'll put those in these first posts, and then get to the details of our actual cruise and Bermuda.

 

I took some of these photos the first day, but many of them were taken at other times, when people were less abundant. I wondered how many previous reviewers had photos where the ship looked empty, but I figured out some tricks to accomplish this.

 

Anyway, here we go...onto the beautiful Dawn!

 

I don't have photos of every public space, but I'll post what I have.

 

Starting from the ground (water?) up:

 

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One of the two main dining rooms. As far as I could tell, this one never had a dress code for dinner, whereas the Venetian had one on Day 2 and Day 6.

 

It's set up for the art auction, not dinner, in this photo:

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You can't see the twinkling ceiling lights, but those were fun to look at while waiting for dinner.

 

Aqua's counterpart, the Venetian:

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Sorry for the blown out windows in the back. We sat next to those windows for one meal and it's terrific to be able to watch the wake of the ship.

 

I think I've reached my image limit. I'll post this now to get this review started and be back later with more.

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One more of the Venetian of the details on the way back up the stairs:

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One set of elevators are glass so you have a view of the grand atrium.

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There is always something going on there. In addition to entertainment, there were demonstrations and talks. The reception and shore excursion desks, as well as the Java coffee bar are in this area as well.

 

Going up!

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Looking up!

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On the sixth and seventh floors, you can access the Stardust Theater. Every night, there is various types of entertainment.

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Out of image space...posting...

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Continuing our upward journey on the Dawn, we have Blue Lagoon...

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and on the other side,

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These two spaces are open and look down on the atrium.

 

 

There are also stairs which can be used to access the Internet Cafe.

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The plan details, for anyone interested:

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If you can wait until the end of the cruise, you get a deal on the internet:

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Since this was our first cruise, we had to get used to the size of the ship, and I know that the Dawn isn't even all that big, in comparison to others. Still, I couldn't resist taking a photo of a very long hallway.

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I felt like we got a lot of exercise in walking all over the ship.

 

Up on 12, we have the Garden Cafe, which is the buffet. It's nice for it's relative speed. Also, with kids, it's nice to have a place to go which isn't quite as formal as the main or specialty restaurants.

 

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There is a special kids area, where they put kid-friendly food.

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There is usually a space to sit here as well, even when the place is packed, although the seating is also kid-sized.

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The twelfth floor is also where the Oasis Pool is located.

 

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In this photo, we are looking out at Topsiders Bar, which includes Sprinkles ice cream stand.

 

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And at the opposite end, standing above Topsiders. There are many rows of chairs and the Bimini Bar and Grill at the top level.

 

A close up:

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Before we go up to Deck 13, we can also visit the library on the 12th floor.

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The library has some nice comfy chairs in which to relax and read. The hardcover books can be checked out during these times:

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The paperbacks and game selection (checkers, chess, Trivial Pursuit, Chutes and Ladders) are available at any time as they remain unlocked.

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Deck 13 is for active-minded folks.

 

There is the jogging track:

 

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Ping-pong

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Checkers (not open yet so the checkers are missing)

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and chess

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Golf

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Basketball up on Deck 14

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There is also shuffleboard, but I'll save those photos for when we actually played.

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We've now arrived at what was the highlight of DS6's cruise vacation--The T-Rex pool. For those of you with kids, you need to plan accordingly, because it's only open from 9-6.

 

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This is a small hot tub for the kids' area.

 

I realize that these aren't too exciting, because you can't really see the pool (or the slides). I am saving photos where you can see them for the review, because my kids are in them and it'll be part of the story of our trip.

 

There is also a playground with a few things for very young kids. I don't think mine bothered with this.

 

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Again, this is only accessible from 9-6, hence my 'through the glass' image.

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To get back inside to the 13th floor, you can enter a door which leads to the arcade.

 

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If you exit the arcade, you wind up at the entrance to Splash Academy, which is the kids' club. You can also take the more traditional elevator or stairs. ;)

 

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Obviously, not open at this time. On sea days, they are open from 9-12, 2-5 and 7-10:30, with the option to stay from 10:30-1:30 for a fee. On port days, they are open continuously. We did an extra hour one night, and it was $14 for the three kids, which is still cheaper than what we pay our sitter at home. You can see the schedule of activities on the wall. I will try to scan them later for reference.

 

They have a secure check in-check out system, and when you register the kids the first day, they ask you who is allowed to pick them up and only those people can do so. You also supply a password, and are always asked to provide it when you pick the kids up. You need your key card and the kids' cards to do both drop off and pick up.

 

Parents are only allowed in the back rooms during registration, so I took advantage of this to get a few shots.

 

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One more of Splash Academy

 

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Every day when you'd drop the kids off, you'd see a banner like the one above, telling you what the day's theme would be. (This is not the drop off area, but an example of the banner.)

 

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Not of Splash Academy, but to show that the older kids (ages 13-17) also have their own space and things to do.

 

A few more random photos that I didn't include earlier:

 

Each staircase has a landing, and there is artwork on the wall of the landing. I was amused by this one:

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There are these helpful TV screens which show which restaurants have availability. This information is also available on your TV.

 

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In case we've forgotten where we are.

 

I think that's it for the mini-tour. I obviously don't have photos of everything on the ship, but at least some of the kid-friendly places are represented.

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Jan-in-Maine--I see that you are sailing in a few weeks. You are going to have a terrific time.

 

KirkNC--You are welcome. There is a lot more to come.

 

All-ready2cruise--You are welcome. Stay tuned for more.

 

Jimbri--You are welcome. More to come...

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The twelfth floor is also where the Oasis Pool is located.

 

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In this photo, we are looking out at Topsiders Bar, which includes Sprinkles ice cream stand.

 

14817189629_2d6ea0a17f.jpg

And at the opposite end, standing above Topsiders. There are many rows of chairs and the Bimini Bar and Grill at the top level.

 

A close up:

15000788681_d2c5f62df5.jpg

 

Before we go up to Deck 13, we can also visit the library on the 12th floor.

14980872076_3c5e1c1619.jpg

The library has some nice comfy chairs in which to relax and read. The hardcover books can be checked out during these times:

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The paperbacks and game selection (checkers, chess, Trivial Pursuit, Chutes and Ladders) are available at any time as they remain unlocked.

 

I'm glad to see that the Dawn still has the library intact. We were on The Explorer of the Seas last March and to our dismay, there were very few books on the shelves. We heard that RCL, will be removing some of their libraries or reducing them to a few shelves of books.

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Thank you for this marvelous review of my favorite ship. Loved the pictures, which also made wonderful memories for me.

 

I look forward to reading more.

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Barb Nahoumi--The library is a terrific, quiet place to relax, and there were still many, many books. It looked like many folks took advantage of the reading material as well as the games. My older two and I hung out there for awhile one afternoon, and we were the only ones waiting there on debarkation day for our color tag to be called. It's too bad some ships are reducing their book inventory. :( You are very welcome and there will many more photos.

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One last bit before I get into our actual first day...the handouts!

 

I promised I'd scan the Splash Academy schedule. You get the entire week's worth of activities when you register your kids.

 

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Page 2 of the Seals

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The Dolphins

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Page 2 of the Dolphins

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I do not have the schedule for other age groups, but I hope this helps you get an idea of what the activities are like. I'll have more details as I go through our days.

 

You are handed this page when you check in:

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Backside

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My husband liked this map the first day. I pretty much ignored it and used the signs posted on the walls and in elevators.

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Keep it coming. We are thinking about the Dawn as well but I was wondering if the kids would miss the waterslides that some of the other ships have. We are limited to leaving either out of Tampa or New Orleans and for the dates we would be looking at neither ship has the slides.

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This is just the type of review I look for (lots of pics). It is great to be able to get a "sneak peek" at our ship of choice for or next 2 cruises. We have yet to sail the Dawn and seeing your photos sure are making time stand still before our vacation in January. Loving it! Thanks for sharing.

 

 

Pat

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JMHAM1--The slides at the T-Rex pool are very mild compared with the photos I've seen of the newer ships. My kids are mostly daredevils, and they seemed to love them. With that said, this was our first cruise, so they have no basis of comparison.

 

I will also mention that we only really had two days where they could use the slides, though, due to the itinerary and our own plans. Had we known that the kids' area closed at 6, we probably would have changed things up on Friday and gotten into bathing suits more quickly. While we were in port, we were at the beach and my kids didn't even think about the pool. And our last sea day was rainy in the morning and then sweater-cool in the afternoon and evening, so your itinerary would also be something to consider.

 

Pisenor--I love reviews with lots of detail and photos, so I am returning the favor here now. I think you will really enjoy the Dawn, too.

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More handouts...almost done (promise!)

 

Every day, you receive a Freestyle Daily which gives a comprehensive view of what is in store for the next day. Unlike the map which I didn't use and my husband enjoyed, the reverse was true of the Freestyle Dailies. I'd scoop them up and make sure I knew what was happening for the next day.

 

The first day, we picked one up at Guest Services. For the other dailies, they'd be delivered in the evening by the room steward.

 

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Thanks for the review and pics. Looking forward to more.

Never been on Dawn, but I do watch her leave Bermuda on Tuesday evenings on the Bermuda webcam. When we were arriving early Wednesday morning last July on Breakaway, Dawn was just leaving. We passed each other and I realized that she must have stayed an extra night to avoid Hurricane Arthur.

Anyway, thanks for the pix of the kid's pool. Now I know why there are big green and red "monster statues" on one deck!! I could never figure out why they were there!

Looks like you and your family had a wonderful first cruise :)

Happy Sailing!

 

 

 

~Robin

Every Day at Sea is a Great Day

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Almost done with the handouts!

 

Day 1's Daily also had a letter from the captain.

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And on the back, this schedule which I promptly forgot I had.

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Although we did not do any shore excursions, I'll include the schedule and pricing here in case anyone is interested or wants to get an idea of what is available. Prior to our cruise, I read over and over again that given the length of stay on Bermuda, it really wasn't necessary to book tours through the ship. I can see occasions why that might be true, but for us, doing things on our own worked out fine.

 

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Robin--I have watched the Bermuda camera before, but I will probably watch it more often in the upcoming weeks...those monster statues were my son's favorites! We did have a wonderful time, yes. :)

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