Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Renee_C

Dawn Review 3/5/2006 - 3/16/2006

Recommended Posts

This is a brief reflection of my time on the ship. Please feel free to ask any questions.

 

Brief Version: Very nice cruise. Plan to cruise NCL for a 3rd time. Freestyle is great.

 

Long Version:

 

Emabarkation: got to the pier around 11:30. There were still people disembarking from the ship. Went upstairs to the latitudes area and waited for a bit. Saw Alex (concierge) escort the VIPs. We only had to wait a few more minutes for the Latitudes folks to follow. Not sure exactly how long the process was, but we were on board around 12:30 or 1 pm.

 

This was my 2nd time on the Dawn, so you can't help but compare the two experiences. Overall impressions:

 

Entertainment: Some nights were very good, some were ok. The problem with repeating on the ship is a lot of the entertainment is the same. SouthBeachRave and Bollywood were very good, and my 2nd time seeing them. I heard them say this was their last performance on the Dawn - I am not sure if that was the cast or the whole production. Half of the Second City cast are the ones I saw last year, with a lot of the same skits.

They had a ventriloquist and a juggling pair that were very funny. They also had Eddie Holman on board (he sang the original Hey There Lonely Girl) he was very good.

Cruise Director was Ricky Matthews - I was glad that I liked him (I was worried because we had Colin last time who is in his own league!). Ricky was funny. Also enjoyed Assistant Cruise Director Gabrielle (had her for bingo, trivia, games, etc)

 

Food: The food was good, but as the message boards indicate, something is definitely happening. The portions do seem smaller, so after the 3rd day my husband got in the habit of ordering a 'double Caesar salad' and 'double meat portion'. This worked very well. The new menus are ok, but there were a couple of nights where nothing appealed to us, so we ate elsewhere. One thing that is frustrating is you do not know what the main dining rooms are serving until that day. Sometimes when we checked and tried to make reservations at 8 am for the same night, they only had 9 or 9:30 pm reservations, which is too late for us. It would be nice if we had access to the weeks worth of menus to determine when to do 'specialty'. Also missed the cold soup at dinner - it is at lunch now, but with so many port days you miss a lot of lunches.

 

Specialty Dining: We ate in La Trattoria, Salsas twice, Cagneys twice, and Le Bistro. The food in all of these were very good, service very good.

 

Buffet: We did most breakfasts at the buffet - they have very good made to order omelets and the fresh made waffles are heavenly! I did not eat much of the self-serve food - eggs are too runny for my taste and pancakes were crusty. Bran muffins are great. We only did one lunch at the buffet - it was ok, nothing great.

 

Ice Cream: Very good. Soft serve vanilla and 3 choices of hard. Good topping selection.

 

Chocoholics Buffet: NCL what happened??? Last year the buffet was in the afternoon with an hour reserved for picture taking. This time it was held at 11pm!! With no picture taking time. You could also see a big change in the food. Last year they had whole cakes with labels identifying what they were (ie, chocolate cheesecake, black forest cake, etc). This time it was all 'finger type food' and you did not know what kind you were getting. It didn't really taste that good either.

 

Kids: A lot of kids on board, but most were very well behaved and you didn't really notice them too much.

 

Laundry: Thanks to cruise critic, I knew there was laundry on deck 5. I did not expect other people to know about it too :) . I went there around day 6 and it was packed. I had to go at an 'off' time and it was fine then.

 

Activities: They do have the casino, bingo, trivia, seminars, etc, but I feel they should offer a few more 'entertainment' things in the daytime like they do at night. Nights were always great.

 

Casino: Very nice casino, lot of table game variety. Enter the blackjack and slot tournament a few times. Almost made it to the blackjack finals, but got kicked out in some of the last rounds. Overall I broke even, so I guess that's good.

 

We did excursions booked through the ship for all the ports - I know it is more expensive, but we felt better doing excursions through the ship. Here is a very brief rundown:

 

Jamaica:

Dismbarking was a nightmare. We docked, and the stairs were flooded with people and totally disorganized - people cutting in on different floors. This was the only stop that had a disembarking nightmare. It was much better after this port.

4x4 Jeep Adventure. This included Dunns River Falls. We climbed it - it was very nice, but my husband's foot twisted a few times on the rocks. We also went through cattle plantation and up fern gully. We overlooked the highest point in Jamaica and took nice pictures.

 

Grand Cayman:

Did Stingray City and Reef snorkel. Sting Rays were great - we fed them, held them, kissed them. Reef snorkel was ok, but the water was very choppy. Saw a nurse shark - that was pretty neat. The tour also included a stop at 7 mile beach - I was not too impressed with the beach.

 

Roatan:

Did the Dolphin Encounter with Tabyana Beach. Anthony's key (where the Dolphin Encounter is ) is fabulous- beautiful. We waded into waist deep water and interacted with the dolphins.

Tabyana beach - very very nice beach. Snorkeling there was amazing in my opinion, especailly considering it is right off the beach.

 

Belize:

Jungle trek and Cava tubing. This was the only bad thing on the entire cruise. There were many things wrong with this, I am only going to list a few. Water was almost at a standstill so you had to paddle the entire way. My headlight went out at one point, and had to hang on to my husband's tube. Pitch black. Not fun. The guides were not around (2 guides for 30 people is unacceptable). I actually complained about this trip to NCL- and I am not a complainer - it takes a lot for me to get upset about something.

 

Cozumel:

Did Playa Mia Deluxe Beach Break. Nice beach, water not very clear.

 

Great Stirrup Cay:

Nice as always. Snorkling ok. Water was cool.

 

Disembarkation: Wonderful.

We docked somewhere around 9:15 in New York. Stayed in the cabin for a little bit. Then went to deck 6 and sat on the windowsill outside Le Bistro. They announced Express Disembarkation (which is what we did - this is where you have to take all of your luggage off the ship yourself) at deck 6 forward around 10 am or so - it took about 5 minutes to get off the ship. We got one of the first taxi tickets, and were wisked away to Penn Station and hopped on the 10:37 train.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Others have expressed their dissatisfaction here about the number of guides on the cave tubing shore excursion before. While I believe two should be enough for 30 tubers, how many do you think there should be? Should there be as many as one guide for every tuber, what's your opinion?

Constructive criticisms should include what you think is appropriate.

With a little pre-cruise research should have brought this to your attention, and you may have booked this excursion privately, which have fewer tubers and more guides per tuber.

An earlier reviewer complained about the water being too swift, with yours it was too slow. That's mother nature for you. If people want consistent water flow, you'll have to book a man-made water excursion, as that's the only way to acheive consistent water flow. Then the experience wouldn't be natural and no one would book it. You can't have it both ways......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent review Renee. Personally, I enjoy a review that has both positives and negatives and I trust it much more than one that only complains or only flatters. So thanks for an informative, enjoyable review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

electricron, to clarify a little bit more on the cave tubing...

 

- I did read up beforehand and read both positives and negatives on the cave tubing, as well as the smaller groups when you book independently. I still did not want to go independent - I had not been there before, very nervous on missing the ship, so I went through the ship. I did read some negative reviews and thought how bad can it be? My husband and I are easygoing, adventurous folks, we look for the best in what we do, so I took my chances and booked through the ship.

- The problem with 2 guides for 30 people could have alleviated by the following. When we immersed from the first cave into the sunshine, it would have been nice if the front guide had folks wait on the shore for the rest to catch up. They didn't, and just continued on. We were told in the bus that he would tell us when to do 'butts up' and direct us to to certain paths of current. Unless you were the first 5 people, you could not hear anything. My husband and I literally went down by ourselves - me without a headlamp. There was no guide to even tell them my headlamp went out. Even the guide in the back flew passed us at one point when my husband was hung up in the shallows - he offered no assistance which I thought was very very bad.

- Ideally I would like to see 2 guides for 12 people. This would allow for the group staying together better, and being able to hear the guide explain stuff.

- There are several shallow points on the route where the guide should wait for folks to catch up. They did none of this.

- The overall main problem was the 30 people stretched out over a very wide spanse, and it was impossible to see the guide or hear anything he was saying.

- I totally understand the river flow depends on the rainfall...but when the tour is described as 'floating down the river', it sort of implies a current of some sort. It was really a combination of many factors that contributed to the result that I had. If the river was slow and the guides were good, I might have had a different impression of the excursion. It is just my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome home! Thanks for posting your review~ I love to read about the Dawn.

 

Soooooo, the laundry room isn't as big a secret as we thought. :p Darn! LOL

 

~Connie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review and informative. I will be cruising for the first time with my wife, 2 teenagers (15&16), and parents. My parents are avid cruisers and have been coaxing me for 4-5 years to try it out. Any advice on reservations for Salsas' and any of the other upcharge resturants. thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

xchief291, this was my experience:

 

- when we boarded on Sunday, we made reservations for Monday and Tuesday for Cagneys and Le Bistro - all times were available.

- after that, we made same-day reservations if the dinner menu in the main rooms were not overly appealing. For Salsas and LaTrattoria (these were the no-charge alternatives) times appeared to be limited to 8:30, 9, 9:30 with an occasional 5:30 available. The second time we requested Cagney's, we asked for 5:30 and was able to get it.

 

The reservations we made was for 2 people - if you have 6 people, you may be better off reserving early - I believe these tables are more limited.

 

Also, you can book early in the week and if you decide to cancel you can do so without charge if you cancel within a certain timeframe - double check with the hostess. This would at least guarantee you a reservation at a desired time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One thing that is frustrating is you do not know what the main dining rooms are serving until that day. Sometimes when we checked and tried to make reservations at 8 am for the same night, they only had 9 or 9:30 pm reservations, which is too late for us. It would be nice if we had access to the weeks worth of menus to determine when to do 'specialty'.

Did you try checking for the week's menus at the main reception desk? When I was on the Star, they had the menus available for perusal. Don't know if that's the case on the Dawn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

johnql -

 

Yes I did enquire at the reception desk when I boarded if I could see the week's menus. They told me it was unavailable, as they do not know what is being served each night in advance. (I did think this was an odd response from them..the menus appear set)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johnql -

 

Yes I did enquire at the reception desk when I boarded if I could see the week's menus. They told me it was unavailable, as they do not know what is being served each night in advance. (I did think this was an odd response from them..the menus appear set)

 

Very odd - I wonder if this is because the "tweaking" of the menus mentioned on previous threads.

 

BTW - thanks so much for your review - you have a nice writing style - very descriptive and informative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards
      • NCL Sail-Away Giveaway Sweepstakes - Win a 7-Day Cruise on Norwegian Joy!
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Community Contests
      • 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...