Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
teacherman

NCL Dawn????

Recommended Posts

We are considering a 21 night cruise on the NCL Dawn, from Dubai to Cape Town.  We have done many cruises on different lines, but never on NCL.  I realize that reviews are very subjective, and can depend on itinerary, length of cruise, weather, etc., but the recent reviews on this ship are pretty bad.  Can any of you offer advice, especially on how this ship compares to other cruise lines?  All information/advice is welcome.  Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honest question: you've already read many reviews that are bad and now asking for more reviews (I'm assuming hoping for good responses).....   what will make these anonymous reviews any more credible than the ones you've already read? You've been around for 14 years years so you know the game...... fans will promote and haters will hate 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was on The Dawn for 14 days in 2016. Of all the NCL ships that I have done, she was one of my least favorites, but it was still a great cruise. The Dawn does not have all of the bells and whistles of the larger ships - less specialty dining, no big slides,  no Escape Room, no adults only Spice H2O, rock wall, ropes course, mini golf, etc. All that being said, we got to know the crew well. I read a lot of books, the husband and I always pack games and enjoyed our time doing that, the nightly shows were varied and quite good, specialty dining was still good  (Los Lobs is amazing!), and the cruise activities team had some fun events including Progressive Trivia that we enjoyed a lot. We did 14 days on The Escape and enjoyed that much more simply because there was so much more to do. But it is really up to you. Both experiences were pretty great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Dawn is an older ship and considering the size of new ships today also on the smaller side.  Some love smaller ships without all the new modern stuff.  However, the length of your cruise is quite long.  Compare it to some of the older ships on other cruise lines that have been remodeled some.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, teacherman said:

We are considering a 21 night cruise on the NCL Dawn, from Dubai to Cape Town.  We have done many cruises on different lines, but never on NCL.  I realize that reviews are very subjective, and can depend on itinerary, length of cruise, weather, etc., but the recent reviews on this ship are pretty bad.  Can any of you offer advice, especially on how this ship compares to other cruise lines?  All information/advice is welcome.  Thank you.

Just because it is on the internet does not make it true.
 

Sounds like a once in a lifetime cruise. 
 

The millennials are looking for free fall water slides, laser tag, and go karts as features of a “good” ship. 
 

The Dawn is a traditional cruise ship. About 3 years ago, they demo’ed all of the public areas down to the deck plates and rebuilt the ship. The results are in video below. So the interiors of the ship are new. 

 

We sailed on the Dawn to New England and loved the ship. Yeah, everyone is going to complain that the 2000 dinners in the main dining room is not as good, or fresh, or hot has something made to order. Fine. Welcome to cruising. 
 

Edited by BirdTravels

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have cruised on the Dawn 8 times and a lot of them for 14 nights. This ship is perfect size for us. We don’t care for all the toys or crowds of the mega ships. In the evening we have a routine. Dinner, game show, large theatre show, casino then bed. During the day we mainly just relax, sun, pool, cocktails and nap at times( something I never get to do at home). I also like not having to make reservations for everything like you have to on the big ships. I also enjoy getting to know the staff which is easier on smaller ships. To each his own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am on the Dawn right now. Safes are broken and not replaced. Tried to order a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Was told they were sold out (3rd day into a 7 day cruise!). They tried to sell me a pricier bottle. I asked if I could get it at the Sauvignon price and was told no. Ship isn't as decorated as we thought it would be. Restaurants are "freestyle" but restaurants are 'booked' even if there are tons of empty tables because you didn't make a reservations. We sat at a restaurant for an hour and a half eating dinner and saw about half the tables were empty yet people were turned away! Not impressed so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Dawn is my favorite ship. 
 

If you look into my signature, we have been on more than 20 cruises and have been on the Dawn a handful of them. I chose the Dawn for my 50th a couple of years ago. 
 

Why?  It is perfect in size for us. Has the core restaurants like le Bistro.  We are morning people. Me more so than DW.  The night life is great for us. We saw the best Russian aerialists ever. It doesn’t have an ice bar. Who cares. It doesn’t have extra night life areas. Who cares.  
 

Love Los Lobos!
 

I would do a long cruise on her any time and would love it.  If you are like us, no problem.   If your expectations are different, go elsewhere.  I hope to sail her again. 

good luck

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, teacherman said:

We are considering a 21 night cruise on the NCL Dawn, from Dubai to Cape Town.  We have done many cruises on different lines, but never on NCL.  I realize that reviews are very subjective, and can depend on itinerary, length of cruise, weather, etc., but the recent reviews on this ship are pretty bad.  Can any of you offer advice, especially on how this ship compares to other cruise lines?  All information/advice is welcome.  Thank you.

 

the Dawn and Jewel class are about the same size but i like the Dawn better for long cruises because it has an additional speciality restaurant, Los Lobos.

 

when i did a 15day Gem, i bought a 8meal dining package plus i had 2 free as Platinum.

but the only speciality restaurants i like on Jewel class ships are Le Bistro and Cagneys.

it got a little stale alternating between Le Bistro and Cagneys for 9 meals. (Le Bistro and Cagney's werent a choice for the 2nd free Platinum meal.)

 

when i did a long cruise on the Dawn, adding Los Lobos to the dining mix was perfect to break up the monotony. 

 

Plus the final production show on the Dawn was the best i've seen out of all the smaller NCL ships.

 

Edited by fstuff1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this boils down to your cruise style.  I was on the dawn shortly after its dry dock and year later.   Pros.  I loved the general layout of the ship.  I was very easy to get quickly acquainted with it.  I love the passenger to space ratio.  I never had a problem getting a chair anywhere.  I would sail her in a heart beat if what you are looking for is a mid size ship that doesn't have all the big bells and whistles.  If you are going to relax mostly, then she is a great ship.  You you need bowling alleys, rock walls, lazer tag, go karts etc, then she is not the way to go.  

 

As far as how NCL compares to other major mass cruise passenger lines, NCL is more similar than dissimilar. Freestyle dining is great.  I love the restaurants that they have there.  I have been a big fan of their entertainment. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were on the Dawn in 2016 for a 14 day  Canada and New England  cruise. This was shortly after the month long refirb so everything was still very fresh The cruise was port intensive so there was not really that much time for onboard stuff. 

 

We are more destination cruisers in our 60's so the ship is secondary in many respects. We enjoy not having to make reservations for the MDR and have had no issues with the specialty restaurants. We also like not having to reserve your seat at the shows. We have always found someplace on the ship for evening entertainment.

 

I suppose for the younger crowd the newer ships offer the bells and whistles they want - for me I think they are too crowded and the bells and whistles are neither wanted or needed. The Dawn and the rest of the Jewel class are just right.

 

We are going on a 21 day cruise next month on the Gem - SFO to NYC via the Panama Canal for this cruise we booked an Aft suite that is about 3x the size of a balcony. We did this simply so we would have a more enjoyable trip. You might also want to consider an upgrade to a suite for this length of trip. You also get more VIP treatment and the ability to get those empty tables in Cagney's.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were on the Dawn in February 2019 out of San Juan, it was a brilliant cruise, however the roll call organisers must take some credit for that, Joe, Eileen and Ken.

like all cruises they are what you make it, and what you expect from it....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, BirdTravels said:

Just because it is on the internet does not make it true.
 

Sounds like a once in a lifetime cruise. 
 

The millennials are looking for free fall water slides, laser tag, and go karts as features of a “good” ship. 
 

The Dawn is a traditional cruise ship. About 3 years ago, they demo’ed all of the public areas down to the deck plates and rebuilt the ship. The results are in video below. So the interiors of the ship are new. 

 

We sailed on the Dawn to New England and loved the ship. Yeah, everyone is going to complain that the 2000 dinners in the main dining room is not as good, or fresh, or hot has something made to order. Fine. Welcome to cruising. 
 

Thanks for the video.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just did the Dawn the 15-22. 
I cruised with a toddler and wasn't impressed in their kids club but understand smaller ship means less room available for toys and such. My son only spent 2 hours on day 2 there and refused to return after that. We did love that the kid's pool area had an actual pool and not just a splash pad as many other, some even larger, ships.

We stayed in a mini-suite and loved it. Very roomy and the pull-out couch was very comfortable. The safe worked in our room but many others on the ship with us, including another room in our party, the safe did not work. 

 

Ship was short staffed and it showed. Any time we sat down to eat in the main dining rooms it would take 3 hours! And, they were out of Moscato before we even pulled out of port and never did get stocked the entire 8 days. They were out of Pina Colada mixture day 1-3 or so. 

 

As another poster mentioned, we experienced trouble with the "freestyle" dining. Many dining options, including the large main dining rooms, would fill up with reservations and become an hour plus wait to even be seated. We gave up after the 3rd night and just ate at the buffet the rest of the time. We had a server 1 night spill water all over the table and us because, even though she tried 3 times, she missed our cups each time. And that was while we were still "in port" in Tampa (we'd pulled away from the dock but weren't out of the bay yet). Two of the three nights in the main dining party members were not asked at what level they'd like their steak cooked and so it was just always brought out medium rare. 

My sisters kept having issues with their PBP. My middle sister kept being told she didn't look like her photo. The other had to carry around her DL because they kept saying there was no way she was old enough. We also had an issue one night in bliss where, after only 1 drink, both my sisters and 2 cousins were told they were drunk and the bartender wouldn't serve them. 


Guest service employees were rude any time we had to go to them to ask a question. 

 

Entertainment was decent. Not as elaborate as some of the bigger ships but not terrible either. Prices for bingo and deal or no deal were very expensive, but the cruiseline has to make money somewhere.

 

We liked that the ship had a smaller casino. Some of the bigger ships the casino is so large and impossible to get to some areas easily without walking through it. On the Dawn I'll be honest, I didn't even find the casino until day 3 or 4. 

 

The shore excursion desk was a headache for the simple fact they didn't know the information about their own excursions. We booked one that stated ages 3 and under were free but on day 1 they called our room to say my son, age 3, would need a ticket because NCL's policy is anyone 2-12 needs a child ticket. I had to go down to the desk and argue with them. The guy had no idea and kept insisting I had to pay. I had to highlight in the information about the excursion where it said 3 and under were free. Then he had to go to the manager before it got all worked out. Then when the excursion had to be modified (because some of it was canceled due to weather) we went through the issue again. 

 

Our room steward was amazing (sad I didn't catch his name) as was Horace from the buffet area (really all the buffet staff). Chelsea from the jewelry shop was awesome. She's from Roatan (one of our ports) and we had a nice chat about our sons [roughly the same age]. 

Getting off the ship was a nightmare though. I'm not sure if it was NCL or just the port in Tampa, but it took us almost 3 hours to self-disembark. We've done that on all cruises and never taken more than 45 minutes to get off the boat and through customs. Pictures were cute but SO expensive. 

 

Many others on our ship were just as frustrated and disappointed getting off the ship where there were others who weren't bothered by anything. It is all in the eyes of the beholder. 

Edited by FLArmyWife

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As has been said, it all depends on what you are looking for from a cruise. Obviously, Dawn does not have all the "bells and whistles" that the huge ships do, but it also doesn't have all the crowds.

Dawn has all the core NCL specialties. Never had a problem getting table, but we book in advance of cruise. Never had to wait more than 15 minutes for MDR table.

Don't know if you are considering suite class (not mini), but the prices are considerably less than the big boys. We have stayed in basic big room suite and a DOS on her sister ship. The space and amenities were fantastic.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are booked to sail on Dawn in July out of Venice.  

Couple of questions:

Is it true that you CAN make dining reservations in MDR?

Is there the option to make entertainment reservations?

 

Thanks. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Heyref said:

We are booked to sail on Dawn in July out of Venice.  

Couple of questions:

Is it true that you CAN make dining reservations in MDR?

Is there the option to make entertainment reservations?

 

Thanks. 

Yes to MDR reservations.  You can make them online or once on board.

 No to entertainment reservations on the Dawn.  They are not necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was on her in May to the Bahamas and loved it. But that was a 4 day’r. I think I would be bored if I had to spend 21 days aboard, she doesn’t have a lot of options for a long cruise imho.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have cruised aboard the Dawn many times, Boston to Bermuda, repo cruises, and a14 day round trip cruise between Boston and the Caribbean.

 

The Dawn underwent a multi-million dollar rehab, around two years ago.  She's a lovely smaller ship, minus some of the bells and whistles of the larger ones.  That's what I look for on a cruise, plenty of parties blended in with peace and quiet.  That's what the Dawn has.  I don't need or want  a race track, and all that stuff.

 

Pay no attention to Nay sayers.  The Dawn is a very nice ship, with a fantastic crew.  After my 14 day cruise, I still wasn't ready to go home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After 14 years, we sailed the Dawn again this Spring for the 3rd. time and find it to be just as nice, we do missed the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 13 (Gem still has it) but loved the semi-secret hideaway lounge.  Different strokes for different folks, firm mattresses for sleeping and decent food to not go hungry ... that's all we need, especially on a port-intensive itinerary.  More spacious indoor seating in the garden cafe/buffet vs. the Great Outdoors (not usable with adverse weather & sea conditions, etc.) 

 

Pretty good shows in the Stardust Theater and MDR without a need for advanced reservations and ship well laid out - more banks of elevators & stairs to use.  It's a matter of personal expectations and preference, and holding impulses against gourmet dining with refrigerated & flash frozen food. 

 

Two out of our three NCL cruises in 2019 were on the mid-sized ships ... Feel free to run & chase the mega/+ ships as that can result in great deals for us to book.  To each her/his own - just one thing, wishing that NCL improvise and come up with daily lunch menu variations on sea days for the MDR ... not everyone wanted to go food hunting at the buffet.  A daily chef's special for the midday meal was a refreshing change by the middle of our last 14 nights.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, mking8288 said:

After 14 years, we sailed the Dawn again this Spring for the 3rd. time and find it to be just as nice, we do missed the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 13 (Gem still has it) but loved the semi-secret hideaway lounge.  Different strokes for different folks, firm mattresses for sleeping and decent food to not go hungry ... that's all we need, especially on a port-intensive itinerary.  More spacious indoor seating in the garden cafe/buffet vs. the Great Outdoors (not usable with adverse weather & sea conditions, etc.) 

 

.

Hi, where is the the semi-secret hideaway lounge?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, oregonian123 said:

Hi, where is the the semi-secret hideaway lounge?

 

9th floor by the elevator.

overlooks the atrium

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, fstuff1 said:

9th floor by the elevator.

overlooks the atrium

Midship, or you can walk up the stairs from O'Sheahan's.  Used to be the iCafe 

 

IMG_20190513_192730785.jpg

Edited by mking8288

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, mking8288 said:

Midship, or you can walk up the stairs from O'Sheahan's.  Used to be the iCafe 

 

IMG_20190513_192730785.jpg

Where is the iCafe now?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, jaapie said:

Where is the iCafe now?

 

Easily missed it, going toward MDR & Bliss Lounge, opposite photo "shop" 

 

IMG_20190516_081922012.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter Now for a Chance to Win a 7-day Cruise for Two
      • Q&A with InsureMyTrip
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...