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NCL Dawn Review - 5/20/06 sailing to Bermuda - Long

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We are a married couple in our late 40’s. We chose the Dawn cruise based on the price and itinerary which included Bermuda, Nassau, and the NCL private island. We used $1,000 in certificates from our NCL Mastercard to help pay for the cruise. Sailing on the 5/20/06 with the Norwegian Dawn was our 3rd cruise with NCL and 6th cruise overall. We have also sailed on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. It was also our first cruise with just my DW and myself and we looked forward to taking a cruise that did not have a lot of families and children.

 

Day One

 

We live in CT and downtown Manhattan is only a 1 ½ hour drive. We left our home at 9:30am and arrived at the parking lot just before 11:00am. There were three cruise ships at the pier that morning (Dawn, Spirit, and the Carnival Legend), so it was a little congested. We decided to drive straight up to the parking lot instead of stopping to drop off the luggage with the porters. We had seen on their website that the parking authority would accept credit cards for payment, but when we pulled up, the attendant said the machine was down and that we would have to pay in cash for the $168 weekly parking fee. Once we had our car cleared to enter the parking lot by security, we found a spot to park near the entrance and elevators. We lucked out in that a porter’s cart was sitting near our car. So, we loaded our 4 pieces of luggage onto it and rolled it over to the large freight elevators they use. Once downstairs, we found a porter to add our luggage to the cart for our deck location on the ship.

 

As we were directed towards the check-in area, we saw a sign for garden villa, suites, and Latitude members pointing to a set of stairs leading to a waiting area that was above the larger general waiting area. We walked up and found a pair of chairs to use while biding our time before being called to board. They had finger foods along with coffee and tea sitting on a table. There was no water or ice tea though and we saw several people walk down to the small shop at the entrance to buy water. There was a delay with embarkation due to some kind of immigration issue with disembarking passengers from the previous cruise. Around 12:30 or so, everyone in the upper waiting were asked to proceed down the stairs and be the first group to go through the metal detectors and then sign in to receive their ID cards. We had read that you could bring soda on board, so we had 2 24-packs of diet Coke in one of our carry-ons. At the metal detectors, the gentleman asked if it was soda and passed us through without opening the bag.

 

As we walked up to the ramp for boarding, we were handed a paper stating that the cabins would not be available until 2:00pm and that we were free to go to any of the public areas until then. It also listed the dining areas that would be opened for our use. The ramp leading up to the ship is very steep and we wondered how tough it would be to try pushing a person in a wheelchair up to the top. We chose to go to the Venetian dining room for a sit-down lunch instead of going up to the Garden Café buffet rooms. We also stopped by the reception desk to ask for a copy of the daily menus for the general dining rooms for the week. They gave us a photocopy of every menu, including the specialty restaurants. If we desired, we could make reservations for the specialty restaurants right there in the atrium. We decided to only use the general dining rooms instead of the specialty ones. I guess we are old-school in thinking that a cruise is all inclusive and that paying extra for food is unneeded.

 

We had booked a guaranteed inside cabin (we wanted to avoid the morning sun and sleep in) and were assigned to cabin 11019 which is the most forward inside cabin on deck 11. After 2:00pm, we went to our room and found our 2 suitcases waiting there. The first thing we did was un-pack our clothes and stow our luggage under one of the beds. For two people, there was plenty of storage space with four drawers and two shelves along with another four shelves that were inside the closet. The closet contained several coat hangers on two racks. If you used both racks, you could hang several shirt length garments. The bottom rack could be folded up to allow the hanging of longer garments. There is a small fridge in the cabin. When we went to load our sodas that we brought on board with us, we found the fridge to be stocked with beer, soda, and shooters. As we left our room to go topside for the sailaway, we asked our stewards to take away the items in the fridge which they did immediately. The fridge could easily hold the 24 cans of soda.

 

After the lifeboat drill (which was held in the Stardust Lounge for our section), we headed up to the Bimini Grill on deck 13 to find a spot under the canopy for shade for the sailaway. We are beer drinkers and when we asked a waiter for a pair of beers, he told us that we could order 6 beers and only pay for 5. They call it a helmet special, but they don’t use the helmets anymore, just champagne buckets. Due to the delay of off-going passengers in the morning, we did not pull away from the pier until 5:00pm. The Norwegian Spirit followed us immediately. The view of the Statue of Liberty was terrific. The setting sunlight was reflecting off of the gold torch.

 

We had read great things about the CD for the cruise, Matt Baker. But, once we saw the Freestyle daily, the CD mentioned was Mike Szwajowski who was flown in to fill in for Matt Baker who had to leave for a family emergency. He had been serving as CD on the Jewel. After dinner, we went to the pub trivia in the Pearly King’s Pub. After that we went to the welcome aboard show hosted by Mike the CD. There was a very funny comic magician, Ed Alonzo along with a singer named Dan Hodges. The show band led by Larry Lockwood was very good.

 

Day Two

 

Day two was a day at sea. We are not sun worshippers, so we checked out the ship to spot shady spots to sit and relax. On deck 12 under the Bimini grill, there are some areas covered that have deck chairs. We found out that the areas surrounding the pool that are covered are set up with permanent tables and chairs. We were able to pull some deck chairs under the cover near one of the Jacuzzis. Two of the Jacuzzis have shades over them. Our favorite thing to do was to sit in one of those covered Jacuzzis and then take a quick dip in the smaller pool that is between the band stand and the Ice Cream bar called Sprinkles. The pool is 4 feet deep and about 15 feet by 15 feet around. There is some whirlpool action on two sides of the pool along with benches to sit on while in the pool. There is only one steep ladder to use in getting in and out of the pool, maybe that is why so few people were using it. But, there usually was a shady side of the pool during the day. Another empty Jacuzzi could be found on deck 13 in from of the Bimini Grill. There never seemed to be anyone using it, but there are no shady spots near it.

 

Another area we discovered was the Mandara spa. It had two Jacuzzis and a lap pool that are all inside and provide a great view from the aft of the ship. One of the Jacuzzis was a lay down type that was very relaxing. I would imagine that these pools were very busy during the cold weather months of sailing. There are only a few deck chairs though and they were always being used.

 

I am a runner and used the jogging track found on deck 13. Five laps equaled one mile. There are a few spots where it is very narrow and can be problematic if someone is standing there or pushing a baby cart towards the children’s pool area found in the aft. Most people were considerate and moved over when I would yell out excuse me as I approached them.

 

In the morning we attended a Champagne Preview of the Bonus Rewards program. We had heard about this program from message boards, so we knew we were going to sign up. They offered free champagne and Mimosas to all who attended.

 

Also in the afternoon, we went to Trivia Madness led by the Assistant CD Ingrid. You played as teams with other people. She would ask questions and someone from the team had to run up with the answer written on a piece of paper to the desk she had set up within 15 seconds. If you were correct, your team would get a point. But, if you were very inventive in the way you demonstrated your enthusiasm in having a correct answer, your team would get an extra point. After a few questions, teams were really getting into ways of getting Ingrid’s attention. One time, our team got up and did leg kicks in unison. Overall it was a fun time. The winners got to receive a coveted bookmark or water bottle, more about that later.

 

We had an early dinner and then went to the Pearly Kings Pub for the Progressive Trivia Contest led by Gabrielle. We paired up with a young couple from Georgia as a team where we would be playing each night and our scores would be accumulated. This turned into a very enjoyable event for us. There were teams from Liverpool England, upstate New York, New Jersey, and other parts of the country. One team of four young men from NJ were very entertaining as they would groan out when the correct answer was announced and one of them knew it, but they written down something else. It was fun hearing those words that every trivia nut loves to hear; “How do you know that?” when you were the only team that got the correct answer.

 

The evening’s big show was the South Beach Rave featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Company. The dancing was phenomenal, but the singers were just OK. It seemed that half of the songs were sung in Spanish so that was lost to me, but overall the show was very good and entertaining. After that, we went up to the Spinnaker Lounge for the Newlywed not so newlywed show and the 70’s Disco Groove Party Dance. Both were funny with the usual questions being asked of the married couples and people from the audience asked to act out Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” or dance like John Travolta.

 

After midnight, we went to the Casino Bar where they were offering a 2 for 1 special on drinks which included domestic beers. We bought a plastic shopping bag with us and ordered 10 beers which we brought up to our cabin and put into the fridge for the next day.

 

Day Three

 

This is the day at King’s Wharf in Bermuda. We were there from 8:00am to 5:00pm. The ship is too big to dock at Hamilton, so they use the pier at King’s Wharf. We spoke with several people that took the water taxi over to Hamilton as there were more shops and cafes there. We just walked off the ship and took a short walk over to the Clock Tower Mall where we found several shops. I stopped by an internet café called the Swiss Connection and bought 30 minutes of internet access for only $5. On the Dawn, they wanted 75 cents a minute unless you purchased large blocks of time. After leaving the Mall we walked back to the ship, stopping by clay works and glass works shops. As we walked back, we watched the Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas sail into Hamilton.

 

Since the majority of people were off the ship, we wanted to get back and take advantage of no crowds by the pools. We had a relaxing time poolside laying in the shade and drinking our beers we bought in the casino. A waiter came by and gave us a bucket with ice to keep them cold.

 

We went back for another round of progressive trivia before heading off to dinner.

 

The evening’s entertainment was the Second City Troupe with improvisational comedy sketches and song in the Stardust Lounge. Some of the skits were funny.

 

Day Four

 

This is another day at sea. The weather was cloudy and the seas were extremely calm, it was like looking at a mirror.

 

This is the day they have the private reception for Latitudes members with the Captain and his staff. They had free cocktails and beers for the returning guests and gave out some small prizes. In past cruises, they would always have the final prize in the drawings be a free 7-day cruise for two, but I guess they have stopped that. In the afternoon, we went to another round of trivia madness with Ingrid and the teams obviously had taken the time to come up with fun ways to get her attention.

 

We also went to a Musical trivia contest held by one of the piano playing lounge singers as well as another round of progressive trivia before going to dinner.

 

The big show in the Stardust lounge was a hypnotist which we skipped. Instead we went to the Spinnaker Lounge to watch the Family Feud Game Show, Big Band Show Tunes, and then the 50’s & 60’s Rock-n-Roll Sock Hop. All were very entertaining and they had people from the audience acting like Elvis during the Sock Hop.

 

They had another 2 for 1 special at the Casino, so we went down after midnight to stock up.

 

Day Five

 

Today is the day the ship arrives at Great Stirrup Cay for the morning and early afternoon before sailing off to Nassau. If you think you will be able to sleep in, forget about it. Starting at 8:00am, they are constantly making announcements about getting tender tickets and then which tickets can be used to take a tender to the private island. We have been to the island twice, so we were planning to stay on board and take advantage of the small crowd poolside. We heard several people complain that by the time they got over to the beach, it was packed with fellow cruisers. The key seemed to be either go very early in the morning or later on in the early afternoon. While at the island, they was a Royal Caribbean ship nearby using their private island which was smaller, but appeared to have a much larger beach area the Grand Stirrup Cay. I took the time to go for a run topside before breakfast. The ship sailed away to head off to Nassau by 4:00pm.

 

After a relaxing afternoon in the Mandara Spa pools, we went to play in our progressive trivia before going to dinner.

 

The ship arrived in Nassau around 8:00pm. We had been to Nassau before, so we decided to stay on board. We were told that some shops in town would remain open until 10:00pm, but I think most people that went off took a cab to the Atlantis Casino or walked over to the Senor Frogs and/or Hard Rock Café in town. At the same time, they were two other cruise ships at the piers; the Carnival Sensation and the RCCL Sovereign of the Seas, both of which we had sailed on before..

 

There were two shows in the Stardust Lounge. The first was an international crew show where crew members came out to sing and dance. The ending was a very funny skit called Fountains. I don’t want to ruin the surprise. But if they are having it, you should go to see it. The second show was the comic magician Ed Alonzo again. He was very funny and entertaining.

 

Day Six

 

This day we stayed in Nassau until noon before sailing away to return back to NYC. We took a chance and found a pair of deck chairs in the Mandara Spa. We took dips in the Jacuzzis and pool and then relaxed as we sailed away from Nassau, watching the view from the aft windows in the spa.

 

Starting at 5:30pm they had a Murder Mystery Dinner in the Venetian Restaurant for those people that signed up for it. The couple from Georgia that played with us during the progressive trivia contests said that it was fun to participate in.

 

The show in the Stardust Theater was Bollywood. This was a terrific show with dancing and acrobatics. It is worth going to see. After that we headed up to the Spinnaker Lounge for the Liar’s Club, which was funny.

 

After midnight they had the final 2 for 1 drink special in the Casino.

 

Day Seven

 

This was the last day at sea for us. We headed down to the Pearly Kings Pub for the Irish sing-a-long at 2:30pm with Dan Hodges. Then we staked out two deck chairs in the shade to watch the waves go by for the rest of the afternoon.

 

Before dinner, we headed down to the final progressive trivia contest with Gabrielle. Our team won the overall contest and we each received a tote bag with some NCL goodies. This was a fun event that let us get a chance to meet other people.

 

There was a farewell variety show in the Stardust Lounge that had the CD, Mike telling jokes along with singing by Gabrielle and Dan Hodges. After that we went to the Spinnaker lounge to watch the hypnotist, Dr. Trance put on a show which was very funny.

 

Finally, we headed up to our cabin to pack up our two suitcases and to put them out into the hallway for collection.

 

Final Morning

 

We arrived into NYC harbor, early on Saturday morning. They started announcing disembarkation colors as early as 8:00am. They had breakfast available in the buffets until 9:30am, so we headed up for breakfast and a final leisurely stroll around the ship before returning to our cabin to get our carry on bags and left the ship by 9:30am. It was fleet week in the harbor, so there were several navy ships at the piers next to our ship. We found our luggage very quickly and we back to our car and pulling out of the parking lot by 9:45am.

 

Dining

 

We did not take advantage of any of the specialty restaurants. There were three main dining rooms that we used: Aqua, Venetian, and Impressions. Aqua is the smallest of the three and seemed to be the noisiest. We never had to wait for a table for two at any time during the week. We went at various times, from 5:30pm to 8:00pm and never had a problem.

 

The selection was varied with meat, fish, and vegetarian options. I never had a problem finding something to eat as I am very adventurous (by the way, Oxtail Stew tastes just like pot roast). My wife, on the other hand, only likes steak and a baked potato. She was able to get a steak every evening. We had read that even though they don’t show it, you can order a strip loin steak in the main dining rooms. One evening, we were in the Venetian and ordered the steak. The waitress said that it was not available, the second waiter said that they could get a steak from the children’s menu. They made us feel uncomfortable in asking for the steak so we left and went to the Impressions dining room. When the waiter came to us, my wife asked if she could get a steak and the waiter said that that would not be a problem. After the meal, we met up with the maitre d’, we told him of our story and he said that the steak was available in all of the main dining rooms every evening.

 

Freestyle

 

This was our first cruise on a ship designed for freestyle. We found the room stewards, waiters, waitresses, and bar waiters to be more than friendly and accommodating. We enjoyed the freedom of when and where we would eat. Getting on and off of the ship was smooth, leisurely, and quick.

 

Cruise Director and Staff

 

With Mike the CD just arriving on the ship, I think he was still finding his way with the staff. Overall he was OK, he liked to make deadpan jokes and then tap the microphone when everyone would groan. He could do a few magic tricks and was very good at introducing the various acts at the theaters. The assistant CD, Ingrid was very quick witted and worked well with the staff especially Alvin. Gabrielle was a terrific singer and easy to talk with. They announced that she was about to go the NCL Wind as the Assistant CD.

 

Overall

 

This cruise’s itinerary had 3 and ½ days at sea which we found to be very relaxing. I hope to post copies of the Freestyle Dailies and Menus in the near future. The ship is well laid out. We never had a sense of being crowded as we walked around the ship. We never had to wait too long for an elevator. The weather was calm so we never experienced any real rocking on the ship as we sailed. There are some beautiful pieces of art around the ship as well.

 

We really enjoyed our cruise and look forward to our October cruise on a sister ship of the Dawn, the Star while cruising on the Mexican Riviera.

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Thanks for the very good review. Sailing on the 10th of June and we are looking for a relaxful cruise. The spa area sounds very inviting. Also will try 2 of the speciality restaurants and will also review them. Been to Nassau many times and like most of the stores, do you know if they are open in the morning.

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Thanks for the very good review. Sailing on the 10th of June and we are looking for a relaxful cruise. The spa area sounds very inviting. Also will try 2 of the speciality restaurants and will also review them. Been to Nassau many times and like most of the stores, do you know if they are open in the morning.

 

I don't think the stores in Nassau opened until 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning.

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Thanks for the great review, I am sailing the Dawn as a guest for the first time for my honeymoon in August. I used to be the singer in the production company on the Majesty, and can't wait, to experience this cruise without having to work!

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Outstanding review. This has to be one of the best reviews I have read. It gives you a real idea of what to expect on this cruise. Thank you in advance for wanting to post the Freestyle Daily and Menus. I am sure this will be very helpful to many upcoming cruisers.:)

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Thanks for a great review. DH and I are on this cruise in August, and you've made it all seem very real and wonderful.

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CTCruisers ~

 

Well written review.

Thanks for taking the time:)

 

Hope your Oct., cruise on the Star is as wonderful as your Dawn cruise.

 

I LOVE the Dawn and Bermuda.

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CTCruisers,

Thank you for that great review. It sure made me want to be back on the Dawn very soon.

Jackie

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my wife and i were thinking about this Cruise (we are experienced cruisers) and about bringing our baby - he would be 5 months old - we thought the sea days and relax ports would be easy with a baby - wonderning anyones thoughts on bringing a baby on a cruise.

 

-thanks

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Siednarb,

I can't tell you first hand, but there were many people with small babies in strollers on our last cruise. They sure seemed to be having a good time and I don't remember ever hearing any of them cry.

Jackie

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CT- Just wanted to thak you again for the menu's and freestyle's. They really helped plan our days onboard - we had such a great cruise! There were a few changes (to be expected) ...

 

We loved Bermuda and GSC - But the best part was having all the info you provided - thanks thanks thanks...:D

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Thanks for the review. Are the pools in the Spa area still free on the Dawn? I really enjoyed the time I spent in there last year on our cruise. I will miss them while on the Sun next month.

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On the 6/10/06 sailing there was a $15/day or $65 (or $60 I didn't pay it) for the week fee. We were NOT happy...:( One of the very few down sides to our week.

 

We did have a great time - hope you do too.:)

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Thank you for a very thorough review. I've been curious as to how many laps = 1 mile and you've answered my question! Thanks also for the menus - very helpful in planning.

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We're leaving in 29 days on our first cruise which happens to be on the Dawn. This review was very informative. Thanks.

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CT I loved your review. Sailing on the Dawn in October, our first cruise on NCL (3 previous cruises on Celebrity).

 

Could you please email the dailies & menues to me at cruisingruth@aol.com

 

Thanks ever so much!

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