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jrs101

Dawn Feb 2 - 12 , 2006 --Trip Report

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Trip Report Feb 2nd - Feb 12th, 2006

Norwegian Dawn out of NYC--eastern Caribbean

 

Relatively new to cruising--only been a cruiser for the last 2 1/2 years, however in that time i've cruised on 3 different cruise lines...Carnival Triump Sept '03, 7 nights, Celebrity Millenium Feb '04, 7 nights, and Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas, Sept '04, 9 nights. So, kind of new to cruising, however 3 relatively recent references.

 

We had a obstructed view on deck 8. Nice room, very simple and well appointed. The only complaint is the lack of a loveseat. On the 3 previous cruises all our cabins had a loveseat. But for some reason NCL felt it necessary to put a desk on the wall where a little love seat could go and a moveable table where the desk should go. Yes, as stated by many, the washrooms are great, but I never closed the door for the toilet area as it was rather clausterphobic, they would be better off to just remove that glass wall. However, the glass enclosed shower is excellent. .

 

NYC--wow, great city, stayed at the hotel Pennsylvania (known as the hotel Transylvania by some for it's eerie turn of the century non renovated interior). Well, that and the mold and the hallways that look like they are out of the movie "the Shining". Haha, well great location though, right across from Madison Sqaure Gardens and a few blocks from Macy's and Times Square.

 

Embarkation--showed up at 1215 and was on board and in the room by 100pm. Seemed like chaos when we first got to the pier--several lines, but no one would tell us what the lines were for, just that we were to line up in them. Then once the process starts everything is really quick.

 

The ship is very beatiful and well kept. The staff were all very friendly and always had a smile.

 

Trip down was rough, but not like some have previously reported. The biggest waves were 10', so there was some rocking. The weather was not the norm as if everyone can remember that week was sooo warm, however we went from 47F on day of embarkation to 67F by same time next afternoon.

 

I was very concerned as I've read every review of the Dawn, and NCL in general and they were very mixed. Add that to a very negative trip my friend had on the initial NCL trip of one of the ships using American staff, I have to admit I was a little anxious on what to expect. On the other hand I can also put things into perspective. Well, even being very level minded, NCL did a great job on many levels. NO rude 'groups' of passengers as previously experienced. Everyone was nice and friendly. The majority were in the 50's + category, however there was a good mix of the infant to 40's also.

 

Food--very limited selections on both the buffet and especially the main restaurants. The service in the main restaurants and the non-fee specialty restaurants was excellent. The main restaurant menus are hit and miss, sometimes very mainstream selections, and often obscure. If you are adventurous you will find some neat things, otherwise view the posted menu prior to entering as you might not see anything you like. The one day I went in as my bf wanted to and I had to pick of the 'always available' menu. However, very important to note that the 'baked potato with accompaniments' should read baked potato with accompaniment' as they no longer bring you salsa/sour cream/grated cheese/chives, all you get is the sour cream. We ate at both Salsa and La Trattoria, and I really liked Salsa's food, the guacamole was excellent. TIP--if you have the munchies and you don't have a reservation at Salsa and want some nachos and guacamole/salsa, then grab a seat in the lounge area in front of Salsa's bar and ask for

them from the bar waiter/waitress. La Trattoria was good as you can always get steak on their menu, however you need to tell them not to do it as per menu if you want an unadulterated steak, if you get it as per the menu it's

covered in a funky sauce. The desserts in the main restaurants are always good In regards to the buffet the lunch buffet is the one to be at as every section is opened and this is the best time of day for selection, whether it's the 'deli (grilled sandwiches avail)/hamburger/sausage' section or the 'indian/vegi' section or the main buffet sections.

The lunch buffet deserts are very limited and plain, however the dinner buffet desserts are YUMMY..so if you hit the buffets at both lunch and dinner you will be able to get a good assortment and at the end of the day happily fulfilled. The breakfast buffet was very simple as also stated by several other trip reports. I would like to commend NCL on the vast array of fresh fruit and vegetables and low calorie salad dressings. The Blue Lagoon restaurant is a good place for a quick meal. And the room service menu is soooooo limited--but if you want a great chicken caesar salad and a sandwich that's about all you'll find. Ok, it's got a few more things on it, but not much more.

 

We never tried the extra fee restaurants but all week they offered them at 50% off for the 530pm sittings.

 

Entertainment (main stage)--some of the Stardust theatre entertainment was excellent and some very hokey. Please note, that just because I might rate something as being hokey, doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining/funny, just that it wasn't original or have that WOW factor. For the 2 production shows, South Beach Rave was 7 out of 10 and Bollywood was 9 out of 10. Very well done. The magician, hokey. Second City was sooooo funny, stayed for their 930 show as the 730 was so good. Comedian/vantriloquest, hokey/good. Comedian -- very good. Singer (tribute to Nat King Cole) , didn't see, but heard it was great.

Entertainment (cruise director and team)--Ricky was the CD, he showed up mid trip. He was very funny, great personality and very entertaining. The games shows/bingo put on by the cruise staff was soooo awful--at least the few that we attended. So unorganized and so many stupid mistakes. On the other hand they were a great asset at the deck parties.

 

Casino--The casino is HUGE. I'm not a big gambler, however I will go donate into the nickel slots on occasion. Was happy to find that they have multi-denominational (0.05 - 2.00) multi game "Game King" (video poker/blackjack/slots) machines at the bar.

 

Ports--not in any particular order--San Juan, I'm not a fan of San Juan so went of for literally 10 minutes. San Juan requires passing through immigration which sucks, especially since it starts at 7am'ish and you are required to line up to talk to an immigration/security inspector whether you get off the boat in San Juan or not. St Maarten--rained 50% of the time, is a great port, as there is a beach right there. Well, a 5 minute walk. No Taxi--YAY. However, this beach is located in a bay, and it was raining, so I can't say on the water clarity on a clear/dry day. The beach is right off a massive boardwalk that features many bars/stores and beach chairs. The chairs are 5.00 with umbrella.

St.Thomas--did Magen's Bay beach, again. Really not a great place for snorkelling, but is good for just laying in the sun and then cooling off in the water. Tortola, now this is a great place. We took a taxi to Cane Garden beach. It's like Magen's Bay, just more compact and more stuff. 5.00 chairs and bar/restaurant. Great Stirrup Cay--now this is when you realize how many people are actually on the ship, when everyone has to tender to this island. Great space and if you are willing to walk away from the crowds then you can find your own piece of paridise--i've noticed alot of able bodied cruisers are freaking lazy. But, Great Stirrup Cay is actually very nice, although the time there sucked--last tender back was 130pm.

 

Trip home was going very well. 2nd last day captain announced that we were making great time and mentioned about the potential blizzard on the east coast. He mentioned that at one point we were doing about 28 knots due to a push from some current. He estimated that we would be in NYC at 8am versus the scheduled 10am. Haha--NOT. At 130pm the wind picked up tremendously and so did the rocking of the boat. The captian dropped this ships speed to bare minimum to reduce the rocking. Needless to say we didn't get into NYC on time. I think the biggest indicator of this was when the CD announced "we will be serving lunch in the venetian and the garden cafe". at 10am we finally picked up the 'pilot' team that would take us up the river. We finally docked at noon'ish. Then the govn. agency has to clear the boat. Then all luggage had to be offloaded and inspected so we were finally off by 3pm. Haha, thank goodness they closed all the airports or I would have been out the cost of my flight home. Debarkation on NCL is awful.

 

Now, it gets better. And no fault of NCL, but (as later explained to us by a man who was nice enough to drive us to Laguardia) there were only a handful of yellow cabs actually working on the day of the "blizzard of 2006". As the driver explained there are normally more cabs at the pier then passengers, but not this day. In the 2 hours we (many many people) froze on the curbside only 10 yellow cabs came up. It got to the point where the taxi 'coordinator' yelled that everyone should do their best to get a private service as it doesn't look good. Once again, no fault of NCL or even the Port of NY. Just the result of bad weather. My bf and I met 5 other stranded people at the airport. 2 ladies from South Carolina, a mother and daughter from Buffalo and a soldier from Virginia. The airport arranged for 130.00 room at a Best Western in Flushings , Queens, with a free shuttle and all 7 of us got rooms there and had dinner together at the hotel. Great group of people, God works in mysterious ways.

 

Even when I was freezing outside trying to figure out what to I was more concerned and upset for the many people whose incoming flights were cancelled. I hope the delay in the ships departure allowed for many people to make their way to the port.

 

Overall I want to try NCL again out of NYC. Some to evaluate my trip, I would give this NCL cruise a score of 80%--lol i'm not considering the debarkation day in this mark as it was totally out of NCL's hands. I should add NCL was so nice while we sat on the ship and waitd to debark...never once did they make us feel that we were in there way of prepping the ship for the new passengers that will be coming on. They had ladies going around with trollies with assorted beverage and cookies/pastries, and let's not forget the full buffet lunch.

 

I'm sorry this is a scattered report, I'm sleep deprived, yet wired. And yes, my spelling/grammar is awful.

 

John RS

 

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Thanks for taking the time to write your report, I really enjoyed it. As we're due to sail on the Dawn in April on an Eastern itinerary it was helpful to hear about the ports of call too.

 

Your comment that "Debarkation on NCL is awful" is surprising as this is usually an area where NCL excels (unless you are a non-US citizen arriving in NYC :eek: ). I can only assume that the weather impacted the normal processes.

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Thanks for taking the time to write your report, I really enjoyed it. As we're due to sail on the Dawn in April on an Eastern itinerary it was helpful to hear about the ports of call too.

 

Your comment that "Debarkation on NCL is awful" is surprising as this is usually an area where NCL excels (unless you are a non-US citizen arriving in NYC :eek: ). I can only assume that the weather impacted the normal processes.

 

Debarkation on the 1/22 sailing of the Dawn was perfect. Didn't even take long to get a cab once we got out of the terminal.

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Thanks for taking the time to write your report, I really enjoyed it. As we're due to sail on the Dawn in April on an Eastern itinerary it was helpful to hear about the ports of call too.

 

Your comment that "Debarkation on NCL is awful" is surprising as this is usually an area where NCL excels (unless you are a non-US citizen arriving in NYC :eek: ). I can only assume that the weather impacted the normal processes.

 

Please explain your comment about being a NON - US citizen and arriving in NYC? What can I expect when I disembark in March?

 

Thanks for your input.

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Please explain your comment about being a NON - US citizen and arriving in NYC? What can I expect when I disembark in March?

 

Thanks for your input.

 

As I haven't sailed in/out of NYC yet I can't give details but I do know that all non-US citizens must gather together (in Stardust Lounge I think) to get clearance from US Customs. It does mean that the Freestyle disembarking doesn't quite work for us. I'm sure there are others who can supply more details, which I'd also appreciate.

 

This is NOT an NCL policy but a US Customs policy. However it is not the case in all US ports. We (non-US citizens) disembarked along with everyone else in Seattle. Not sure why NYC is different.:confused:

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We had to go through the non-US citizen last September. Everyone gathers in the Stardust lounge an hour or 2 before the ship gets into port. The first in the lounge, the first out. This was the most painful part of the cruise (caused us to miss seeing the Statue of Liberty from our balcony) as it was very un-organized... :(

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Thanks for the info David. I had a horrible feeling the timing might mean we would miss the Statue of Liberty.

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Debarkation on NCL is awful.

jrs101 - Could you elaborate on this a little. Do you mean NCL's part was awful or the part on the pier? To me (off the SPIRIT on 2/9) debarkation was great! You get a tag color and when they call it, off you go, if you want. For example, I had VIP debark tags so I could get off at 8:15am (if I wanted) we stayed on board, had breakfast and hung out in our cabin until about 10am and then walked off the ship. No problems inside the terminal, never showed my passport, did not have to stop at customs (only handed my slip to a woman standing there) VERY easy. The only thing that was bad was waiting for a cab and not knowing which line to stand in (after 15 mins I found out we could walk right out the doors to the cabs instead of waiting for the elevator - I dont even know where it was going) and not knowing right off that you need a ticket to get a cab.

 

So, again, can you elaborate on what was actually bad? Thanks!

 

~Intrepid

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DavidMcD and calmac -

 

I am a US citizen so I dont know first hand about non-US customs, but if you read my review of the SPIRIT 1/29-2/9 there is a post from "TorontoGuy" who stated that it was very easy. I know he saw the SoL and chose when he wanted to go to the Stardust for customs. Perhaps you can post there to ask him for details.

 

~Intrepid

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Yes the debarkation process was awful, but like I mentioned the whole final day was "out of NCL's hands". This was due to the blizzard of 2006. The ship arrived late into the port late so it was a chaotic dembarkation process. Normally the debarkation would be at a 'freestyle' pace, allowing for non-US citizens to exit at their leisure, however, since the boat was late we all got called to debark at once.

 

If it was a normal day the debarkation would allow non-us citizens to leave 'freestyle' and the only limitation was that all non-U.S. citizens were off the ship at 10:30 am. Now out of my 4 cruises this one had customs/immigration for non-U.S. in the port building. We exitied the ship via deck 7, and were handed our passports and then we attended the immigration officers in the port terminal. So, no early mornings.

 

As also mentioned I would definately do an NCL cruise out of NYC. The blizzard day was chaos and I'm sure will never happen again to me--knock on wood. I also would like to reiterate how great NCL was to everyone on the ship. They served full buffet breakfast and lunch, as well as breakfast and lunch in the Venetian. In addition they had ladies pushing trolleys throught the lounge areas and they were serving assort beverages and treats.

 

So if you back out the last day it was a super duper great trip. Heck, I finished my trip and had fun, I feel really bad for the Feb 12th cruisers who missed the boat.

 

john

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John, I loved reading your trip report! You've got an awesome outlook on life, and will surely have a great time on any cruise! :D Thanks so much for sharing the details of your trip with us all. One week from tonight I'll be starting my voyage of fun! :)

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Glad to see they restored the half-price deals in the Specialty Restaurants. They didn't offer them on our cruise, the one just before yours.

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