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DaisyL

Dawn review, 7-day Bermuda/Bahamas 5/20/06

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My husband and I cruised on the Dawn 7-day Bermuda/Bahamas, 5/20-5/27/06. We were enticed by this itinerary because of the addition of Bermuda, which is our favorite destination and the 3+ sea days.

Since there’s numerous reviews of the Dawn, I will try to discuss the differences between this cruise and our previous trips on the Dawn 2004 and 2005.

Embarkation: With 3 large ships in NYC the pier was overflowing with people. We arrived at 11:00 AM with slight delay up the ramp. DH dropped me off with the luggage at the curb and parked the car. The porters were only helping disembarking passengers so we rolled our luggage to the entrance and porters loaded them on large carts. We waited upstairs in the latitudes/suite waiting area and boarding began by 12:30 and on board by 1 PM. Very smooth process with many NCL employees to direct passengers and answer questions.

The ship was a little late departing, 5 PM, and they took attendance at the muster drill .. a first for us .. Since it was windy outside, we watched sailaway from the Garden Café windows and decided to view the NJ/Staten Island/Statue of Liberty side….

Ship and Cabin: The fire doors to the cabins were closed with notices that they will be available at 2 PM. Since we booked a few weeks before, we chose an Inside GTY and was given an inside cabin midship deck 10. Very convenient for using the stairs, 2 decks up to the pool, several decks down to restaurants. Having balcony BB in the past we were very surprised how small this inside cabin was, but we managed just fine and enough room to store our clothes and toiletries, and put the luggage under the bed. We actually liked the bathroom better, same sliding glass door for the shower but the toilet was not in a ‘closet’… seemed more spacious.

The cabin was not serviced the first evening, bed not turned down, no fresh towels, ice and glasses, just the next days newsletter shoved under the door. We thought we were in for a ‘fun’ week and neglected since we had an inside, as opposed to the great service for balcony cabins on the previous 2 Dawn cruises. (we really hate to complain, but will if necessary). Well, no need to worry, the cabin service was good all week beginning the next morning.

Food/Meals/Drinks: (see 10 day menus posted by nj_cruisers, the days are different for this cruise but the menus are identical): Thanks nj_cruisers, for posting.

 

http://community.webshots.com/album/546965658SXugcy

 

We enjoyed each meal except where noted.

 

Sat- Bon Voyage dinner (Day 1 menu) we ate in Le Bistro this night

Sun- French dinner (Day 7 menu), optional formal, grilled strip loin and monkfish; steak was cooked medium as ordered

Mon- Chef's dinner (Day 3 menu), beef stroganoff and salmon in honey glaze

Tues- Italian dinner (Day 4 menu), grilled swordfish, and risotto with baby shrimp; could they spare the shrimp? about a teaspoon of 1/8" shrimp on top- couldn't even taste them

Wed- Caribbean dinner (Day 5 menu) both of us had tortellini with chardonnay sauce; was actually alfredo sauce but very good, ordered steamed vegetables on the side

Thurs- Captains dinner (Day 2 menu) – both of us had lobster tail, a funky brownish sauce on top but the lobster was good, regular single lobster tail not the smaller half tails served on the last 2 Dawn cruises

Fri- Freestyle (Day 6 menu) grilled leg of lamb and tandoori chicken; was a boneless chicken breast, a little wet on the outside and slightly spicy, no vegetables served with the chicken.

 

While we are not picky eaters, we sometimes were not thrilled with the menu choices. On the past Dawn cruises, there were several entrée choices each night which appealed to us but on this cruise it was often difficult to get excited about one.

We were fortunate to be seated near the windows on most evenings and ate in Aqua once, Impressions twice, and Venetian 3 times. The service was wonderful in all restaurants except for the 1 dinner in Aqua.

Le Bistro was wonderful but the only problem was when requesting a 7 PM reservation on the first night, they were ‘filled’, so we chose 6:30 PM but the restaurant was only half full the whole evening. My husband ordered the Fire Star and he was in heaven.. what a presentation. My filet mignon was excellent and cooked as ordered, medium. We passed on the chocolate fondue this time but the crème brulee was ‘to die for’ and DH enjoyed the vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberry sauce. The service, as usual, was wonderful. No discounts for any specialty restaurants this cruise.

We thought the quality of the food in the buffet for lunch, was better than in the past. The desserts were mainly tasteless and DH kept asking me if we took the sugar-free by mistake. By contrast, the desserts in the main restaurants were very good. Don’t miss the made to order pasta… didn’t find it till Wed. since it was in the middle of the vegetarian counter. DH asked for pesto sauce, one day, and since it was not offered that day the server insisted to go downstairs and get it, but DH told him it was not necessary. Now, that’s service!

Breakfast in the buffet was not great, with the same offerings daily, food cold, soggy pre-made eggs, smoked salmon not offered daily, and long lines for the made-to-order omelets/ fresh eggs. We managed to eat breakfast in the Venetian 3 times and the service and food quality were excellent, with several different offerings daily.

The Bimini bar offered hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries daily. The poolside BBQ was offered 3 times, with different offerings each time in addition to hamburgers and hot dogs; ribs, sausage, chicken, pasta stir fry, rice stir fry …

The chocolate buffet was offered one night at 11:15 PM as opposed to mid afternoon on our previous cruises. We preferred it at this time but others complained of the change.. Maybe I’ll start a poll? We enjoyed the choices we made and managed to get a variety.

We attended the Margarita tasting $15/person but you can share.. a variety of 4 full size drinks … woohoo, lotsa fun was had by all …

We love the pina coladas on this ship and manage to have several a day. We would order the ‘regular’ size for $5.50 (plus 15% tip) as opposed to the $8 (+ tip). Never measured the difference.. is it a bargain? The last sea day they offered us the $8 drink for $7… They brought back the beer buckets (actually champagne buckets)… buy 5 beers get the 6th free. DH liked the standard gin martini, ‘up w olives’ .. $7.75 for Beefeaters, large size. Good prices for drinks and beers compared to our usual NY prices at home. DH ordered a bottle of wine in Le Bistro, drank half, and had the rest 2 nights later in Impressions. The waiter made a face when we said it was from 2 nights ago, but we joked and got him to laugh … no problem …

Entertainment: We really enjoyed Dan Hodge in Gatsby’s &, Modal Magic in Spinnaker. Fire & Ice, Caribbean Wave, and Best of Friends were OK. We ‘found’ the Star Bar for the first time this cruise and Steve Garey is very good; this bar is smoke-free.

We love production shows and NCL probably has the most talented musicians, singers, and performers of any cruise we’ve been on. Having seen South Beach Rave and Bollywood in the past we chose to skip them. We enjoyed the magic/comedy of Ed Alonzo.. laugh out loud for us. The hypnotist, Dr. Trance, was entertaining and amusing but did not embarrass or humiliate the volunteers.

We caught one game show ‘The Weakest Link’ (between dinner and main show) and thought it was pretty lame and only about 10 people in the audience. We thought the ‘Liars Club’ was hilarious, but not for everyone’s taste, and definitely risqué and the Spinnaker was standing-room-only. We missed the the crew show (always a highlight, but afternoon this cruise) but caught the ‘Fountains’ segment on TV … silly but very funny.

The cruise director was Mike Szwajkowski and he was young, pleasant, funny, witty, and entertaining… what a pleasure.

Ports: We have been to Bermuda many times before, most recently last Oct. so we planned on winging it. Our favorites from the Dockyards would be a bus or taxi to Horseshoe Bay Beach or the ferry to Hamilton. It was very windy this day but clear skies mid 70s. We walked off the ship at 9 AM and went to the shopping area which opened at 9:30 AM. Stopped at the Snorkel Park, no admission charge, and heard it’s very good snorkeling here. Although small, the beach is pristine, the water clear and brilliant blue, and they had chairs and umbrellas for rent (although none were up; maybe the high winds). There’s a snack bar with outdoor, bar pavilion upstairs. We had our favorite Bermuda drink, Rum Swizzle, and sat on high deck chairs with beautiful views of the beach and water… pure heaven … There was a group of NCL officers (~8) meeting with Snorkel Park management … wonder what they were planning?

Back on board, by 2 PM and had the forward hot tub to ourselves and great lounge chairs with wonderful views for sailaway. BTW, the ship left about a half hour late due to passengers who arrived late, after the ship pulled away from the dock and were imposed a hefty fine (didn’t see it, but surmised from the captain’s announcement and chatter on board).

We had been to GSC before so we chose to remain on board and get prime lounge chairs on the ‘stadium seating’. We had breakfast in the Venetian with a window view of NCL’s island and RCL’s private island, with a ship anchored there.. who knew the islands were right next to each other. It rained early morning and was cloudy most of the day but the sun came out mid afternoon and with no wind, we decided to move to the shade. We have never seen the ocean so smooth; not a wave or ripple.

The ship departed at 4 PM and we were lucky to get a rear window table in the Venetian for dinner, as the ship pulled into Nassau; .. what a wonderful view. We had planned on taking a taxi to Atlantis (been there before) for some gambling and to view ‘The Digs’ but stayed on-board instead. A few NCL sponsored shops in town were open till 10 PM. We ventured into Nassau for some shopping the next morning at 9 AM and was back on board by 10:30 AM and again got our prime lounge chairs, in the shade, for sailaway.

Sea Days: Since we’re early risers, and prefer to be away from the pool crowds, we never had a problem getting lounge chairs before 11 AM. Although we had many cloudy days the weather was good for relaxing, reading, swimming, hot tubs …. This was probably one of the smoothest seas we’ve had. We’ve cruised out of NY many times and have experienced the sea condition gamut and got lucky on this one.

The chair hogs were in full force and people were upset when they left their towels on the chairs, to return and find them taken. Signs were posted that your belongings would be removed after 30 min of non-use. DH and I would take turns to get a plate of food for lunch or drinks, and bring it back to the chair … no problem.

Disembarkation: We signed up for self disembarkation on Thurs. and upon bringing the form to the reception desk, they verified we were US citizens and we must be able to carry off all luggage unassisted. We docked early, 7AM (docs said 10 AM) and announcement for self assist was made at 8 AM. We were on deck 10 and tried to get an elevator for 10 min -impossible, carried our luggage down to deck 7, and followed a very organized line off the ship. Took the pier elevator to the parking level, walked over to the next pier where our car was parked and was on the Henry Hudson parkway by 8:30 AM… excellent!

We had a wonderful cruise on the Dawn and it was very relaxing. The service was great in all venues and every crew member pleasant, friendly, and seemed happy to be there (except once in Aqua –must’ve been a bad day for him). The ship was very clean and crew members constantly working.

We really enjoy the flexibility of ‘Freestyle Cruising’ which works very well on the Dawn and will keep us coming back. We’re pleased with the changing itinerary from year to year out of NY, and would not hesitate to cruise on the Dawn and with NCL again.

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Was on the Dawn in april and I have to agree with you about the reservations. After the 3rd day they were all booked, but the restaurants were half filled.

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DaisyL.,

 

Thanks for the great in depth info. It really helps. We are sailing on the Dawn on 6/24. Can't wait!

 

:)

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I agree with your assessment of the food. We got off the ship the day you got on. No choices. It was the only thing I really dinged them on with the service questionaire at the end of the cruise.

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Considering that NCL books reservations for the speciality restaurants for a few tables every 10 to 20 minutes, and it takes up to two hours to eat the several courses, you will notice that they are half empty most of the time. More than likely the only time you'll see the speciality restaurants full will be around 8 PM.

 

If NCL allowed you to dine at 7 PM in a half empty restaurant without reservations, more than likely they would have to turn away diners with reservations later in the evening.

 

Aren't you asking too much?

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Considering that NCL books reservations for the speciality restaurants for a few tables every 10 to 20 minutes, and it takes up to two hours to eat the several courses, you will notice that they are half empty most of the time. More than likely the only time you'll see the speciality restaurants full will be around 8 PM.

 

If NCL allowed you to dine at 7 PM in a half empty restaurant without reservations, more than likely they would have to turn away diners with reservations later in the evening.

 

Aren't you asking too much?

 

Good point!

Forget it..you are fighting a losing battle!

They don't get it;)

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I was on the same cruise & I agree about the menus. Our first night we ate at the Venetain. There was nothing for my wife to eat there. We had to go to the Garden Cafe & get her something to eat. La Bistro was excellent. We ate there twice & loved it. I had the combo & the presentation is great! The fondu is also great. The Itlaian resturant was good but they also were telling people they were booked & it was half empty both times we were there.

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Considering that NCL books reservations for the speciality restaurants for a few tables every 10 to 20 minutes, and it takes up to two hours to eat the several courses, you will notice that they are half empty most of the time. More than likely the only time you'll see the speciality restaurants full will be around 8 PM.

 

If NCL allowed you to dine at 7 PM in a half empty restaurant without reservations, more than likely they would have to turn away diners with reservations later in the evening.

 

Aren't you asking too much?

 

Don, what you say makes a lot of sense but we made a reservation as soon as we boarded with the Latitudes/Suite group and they said 7 PM was not available. I guess I was a little harsh in saying it was a 'problem' but should have said 'bewildered' since the restaurant was only half full that entire evening.

 

What I did not add in my review, is that they sat us at a table for 2, about 6 inches away from another table of 2, while every other table for 2 or 4 was empty, and remained that way. There were several large tables of groups scattered around. Maybe they had a lot of no-shows or were saving the tables for suite passengers' concierge to reserve.

 

I would have asked, but I didn't want the other couple to think it was a reflection on them, but there was no privacy, for either couple.

 

As I said, the restaurant and service at Le Bistro was wonderful, and we had a lovely time.

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Thanks all for the compliments on my review... This is my first review ever... After all I have learned on these boards and having my questions answered, I thought I would contribute for a change..

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Great review Daisy! Rather than start another review thread for the same cruise, I thought I'd just add mine to this for a double dose of long reviews. I'm sure there will be some repetition, but a good cruise can never get enough praise. Hope you don't mind.

 

Anyhow here goes:

 

Fresh off the 5/20 – 5/27/06 Dawn sailing to Bermuda / Bahamas. We (My GF and I) are in our mid-20’s, but never felt out of place as we struck up good conversation and played the games with people of all ages. The average age if I had to venture a guess would be in the 40’s, but there was never a moment where it was just all kids or all senior citizens.

 

In the “Freestyle” spirit, here’s a freestyle review where I’ll just put down anything that comes to mind for each of the categories:

 

ITINERARY: Never been to Bermuda or Bahamas, so I had a great time and made the best of it in all the ports.

 

The weather was gorgeous in Bermuda, bright and sunny the entire time. From King’s Wharf, we took the bus (#7) to Horseshoe Bay, spent a little time wandering the beach and collecting the pink sand. We then continued to Hamilton for some souvenirs and caught the noon ferry back to King's Wharf for our excursion. Did the Bermuda Bell Helmet Dive thru NCL and had a blast even though the fishes mostly refused to eat from our hands. Water temp. was about 72, so it was a bit chilly. Each group dive was about 30 minutes underwater with 6 people per group. We had a full boat for four groups, so it felt a little rushed and there was a lot of time spent waiting as the groups took turns going down. We later found out that another family booked direct with Hartley’s (another helmet diving company in Bermuda) and got a better deal. They paid $10/pp less and got about 55 minutes underwater along with free photos because they were the only group during that time. So if anyone if planning to do helmet diving here, you might want to try booking direct with Hartley’s to get a better deal. We picked up some Bermuda Rum cake by King’s Wharf (I’m eating the Rum Swizzle flavor now – delicious). As we left King’s Wharf, it was fun to watch a late–arriving couple almost get left behind. (I’m guessing because they didn’t bother to adjust their clocks). The captain made a nice announcement and caused a crowd of people to gather at the Promenade Deck (Deck 7) to watch them get back on. Fortunately, they were tendered back on via the tugboat used to push the Dawn toward the pier.

 

Great Stirrup Cay was nothing special. We had pretty much a cloudy day there with the sun peeking out near the very end as we were about to leave. It’s basically a stretch of beach full of beach chairs with a cove in front that allows for some very good snorkeling. There should be no trouble finding beach chairs and umbrellas as long you didn’t stay near the middle lane where the tenders came and went. I didn’t do any snorkeling myself, but I was able to walk out in the water to about neck level with my swim goggles on and stick my head underwater to see the fish where the snorkelers were. It also helped that I brought along some corn flakes (thanks to some reading on this board) and was able to lure a bunch of the fish around me for a feeding frenzy. I overheard others say they saw stingrays and other colorful fishes. Not much else to do on the rest of the island. There were hammocks for the loungers, volleyball nets, and ping pong tables. The BBQ lunch was chicken, a burger, or a hot dog.

 

Due to the 8pm arrival in Nassau, most of the shops were closed already, leaving you with only Atlantis, Senor Frogs, or stay on the ship overnight. When you walk out of the terminal building, you will be flooded with cab drivers looking to take you to Atlantis ($4 per person). We headed to Atlantis that night to tour the Digs for free. In the morning, we walked to the Queen’s Staircase, and the water tower and fort at the top of the Staircase to get some good views of Nassau. Walked back to Bay St. by 9AM, when most of the stores and the Straw Market opened and did some shopping until it was time to board. As others have said, the Straw Market is not for those who don’t like closed quarters with no A/C. For the most part, all the vendors sold more or less the same items (straw bags, hats, fans, wood-carvings, shell jewelry & necklaces, etc.). Be sure to bargain on every thing! They will always start with an inflated price; you should in turn offer a rock bottom price, and you can usually agree to something in between that is reasonable.

 

EMBARKATION: Embarkation was chaotic. With 3 ships on port at once, it was a traffic nightmare, so I didn't get there as early as I had hoped. We arrived sometime near noon and didn't get on board until about 2PM. Our departure was delayed about an hour because a significant number of people were delayed due to the traffic. Once you got pass security screening, setting up the S&S card, and taking the embarkation photos they will sell you, it was smooth sailing as soon as you set foot on the ship. Everyone boards right into the Grand Atrium on Deck 7. As others had previously advised, we headed right to Venetian for a sit down lunch after dropping off our luggage. It was then off to make restaurant reservations. The people at the booth set up at the Grand Atrium told everyone they were only allowed to make reservations for that night. Reservations for the rest of the week were to begin the following day. However, as I passed the other specialty restaurants later that day, I was able to make reservations for the rest of the week.

 

Sailaway was nice on forward Deck 13 with the traditional Statue of Liberty salute and under the Verrazano. Two couples were already in the hot tub by the time we passed under the Verrazano Bridge. The Spirit was also on our tail as we headed out to sea.

 

STATEROOM: We had an inside room on Deck 5. This worked out very conveniently for us as boarding and leaving the ship at the other ports and tenders (at GSC) took place from the gangways on Deck 4, so it was a short flight of stairs to and from the ports. Barely felt any movement in the room, even on the rockiest days where it was felt on the higher decks. There was some vibrations felt when the engines started up, but quiet otherwise even though we were somewhere under the main galley or Aqua. The room provided adequate space with enough closet space and shelves for 2 people who packed in moderation. There is a tiny 13” TV with a variety of channels ranging from CNN, ESPN, movies on TNT, to channels dedicated to shopping, shore excursions, dining, ship technical info, and the bridge camera. There are two twin beds that can be combined for a full sized-bed. We also had a fold-down bed and another pullout-bed underneath the “main” beds. The fridge is stocked with small bottles of liquor, juices, and bottled water. We had everything cleared out so we could put our own drinks in instead. The bathroom was very clean and had plenty of counter space for bathroom goods. Very good water pressure throughout, and the sliding partition eliminates the cling-to-your-legs shower curtain. Overall, the room was kept very clean throughout, but I didn't stay in there much anyway. One of our room stewards was pleasant and always greeted us; the other looked like he wanted to hang himself, with a constant frown. We left a note the first night requesting towel animals and received two (rabbit & dog), but heard others that received one every night and some that received nothing the entire week. When I pushed our beds together for the first night, I found a pair of 46” waist khaki pants that I guess the previous cruise left behind. Needless to say, I put it in the trash can and let the stewards remove it later.

 

DINING: Tried Le Bistro, La Trattoria, Salsa, Teppanyanki and ate in all of the main dining rooms at least once, including Blue Lagoon. Coming from NYC where there is an abundance of great restaurants, it’s unfair to compare these restaurants to 5-star standards. If you’re looking for top-notch food, you’ll be disappointed. But overall, the food quality was very good with a decent variety each day. There was always a beef, fish/seafood, pasta, and vegetarian entrée every night (as well as the usual grilled chicken, salmon, Caesar salad available all the time).

 

My favorite dining room was the Venetian, so we tried to go there for all our meals. (It is the only restaurant open for all 3 meals other than the buffet & Blue Lagoon which is 24hrs.). There are windows on both sides and across the entire aft (rear) of the ship, so it was fairly easy to get a window seat. The breakfast menu offers everything you can find in the Garden Buffet plus Eggs Benedict, eggs made any style, and more juice variety (tomato, pineapple, etc.). The lunch menu varied every day as well, but the most memorable things were the delicious chilled fruit soups – definitely something to try.

 

Impressions and Le Bistro has almost the same classical ambiance as Venetian except the lights are dimmer and they’re both cozier/smaller venues. In Le Bistro, you can dine right next to authentic artwork from Matisse, Van Gogh, etc. for the $15 cover charge. The filet mignon was good and very tender, but again, nothing special if you’ve had good steak from a reputable NYC restaurant. If you want good pictures of the artwork, go when Le Bistro is not ready for dinner as the lights are left on then and you simply walk in to snap photos.

 

Aqua offers a more modern décor with blue glass all around. Not as many window seats as it is located in the middle of the ship. This was our probably our least favorite of the 3 main dining venues (Impressions, Venetian, Aqua).

 

La Trattoria is simply half of the Garden Cafe / Buffet closed off during the dining hours. I’d say the food was on par with Romano’s Macaroni Grill – nothing spectacular, but it was good nonetheless. Cheesecake and tiramisu are disappointing if you’ve eaten in good NYC restaurants. This was also the only restaurant where we had to wait about 15 minutes (for a 9PM reservation).

 

Salsa is located on Deck 8 overlooking the Grand Atrium. The food here was pretty good and tasty. I’d compare it to Chevy’s (the Tex-Mex chain restaurant). The good thing about this Salsa is that you can choose a window seat or you can choose a table overlooking the Atrium and catch a live music band playing.

 

The Teppanyaki is actually a part of Bamboo, the Asian cuisine restaurant. It’s hibachi, exactly like Benihana, where the chefs entertain you while cooking your foods in front of you. There is only one room that seats 18 and almost everyone we ate with agreed that this was the best overall dining experience of all the specialty restaurants. I went with the $15 Imperial feast which features a 7 oz. filet mignon, shrimps and scallops. There were also single choices for $10 and combos (steak & scallop, steak & chicken, etc.) for $12.

 

The Blue Lagoon was a nice stop for a quick bite featuring fast food items such as a salad, hot dogs, chicken fingers, buffalo wings, burgers, etc. It does offer food around the clock, but I stopped by here for water and ice tea more than the food.

 

The Garden Buffet is your typical buffet. There are a few lines sometimes with slightly different offerings. If one line is long, just walk to the next and chances are there is no line and you get almost the same food. The food wasn’t terrible by any means, but I was more disgusted at the amount of food people managed to pile on their plates, only to leave behind probably half of it to go to waste. If you want a seat here, avoid the prime dining hours (8-9AM breakfast, noon-1 for lunch, 7-8PM for dinner). We frequented the omelet and waffle stations whenever we decided on a quick breakfast here.

 

The Chocoholic Buffet took place in Venetian at 11PM one night during the middle of the week. It was announced during the CD’s summary of the evening activities and advertised in the lower right hand corner of the cover of the Daily (as opposed to being listed according to time), so it might be easy to miss if you happen not to pass by Deck 7 where the line formed to go in through the Pearly King’s Pub. Most of the pastries offered were the same from the buffet during the day, but we went mainly to take photos of the chocolate art pieces and ice sculptures, so it didn’t bother us that the chocolate wasn’t out of the world.

 

ENTERTAINMENT: There were plenty of activities and shows to keep everyone busy throughout the day. During the day, there were the usuals such as bingo, art auctions, movie screenings, trivia challenges, martini/margarita clinics, arts & crafts, and pool games. We learned how to fold cloth napkins as well as the towel animals. We took part in a few of the trivia challenges. I only played in the final bingo where they had to give away the grand jackpot of $2300 (I was one number away along with only 3-4 others, but alas, someone else took it down solo). The Casino wasn’t too bad to me as I ended up winning a little. We caught most of the major production shows that took place at 7:30PM or 9:30PM. The Second City improv comedy, Dr. Trance's Hypnosis (PG version), the International Crew Show ("Fountains" was hilarious), and Bollywood were all very good shows. South Beach Rave was ok IMO. It is comparable to Rent in terms of dancing, loud music, and energy, but lacking on the singing. The late night shows were also good. We caught the Liar’s Club, Not so Newlywed game, Dr. Trance’s R-Rated version of the Hypnosis show, and the Second City improv. All provided good laughs. But you had to get to Spinnaker’s early to even get a seat or a good standing spot to see the more popular shows (Liar’s club, Hypnosis show, Not so Newlywed game). In terms of live music, Dan Hodge was excellent at Gatsby’s. He sang to various themes each night (Irish, 60’s, 70’s, classic rock, Beatles, etc.) The Dawn’s Show Band was also terrific when they had performances on some evenings. The late night karaoke is like watching the first few episodes of American Idol – some were pretty good, others provided a good laugh.

 

PUBLIC AREAS: The main pool seems small for such a large number of passengers. Of course the chair hoggers were in full effect on the sea days, but I opted for the forward decks to catch my rays and always found chairs available. There were plenty of hot tubs available throughout the day (the “secret” tub at Deck 13 forward is usually the best bet, followed by the indoor tubs in the Gym/Spa). The indoor lap pool is really not deep enough (3’) do any decent swimming as my legs would hit the floor.

 

The gym is well stocked and clean. The elliptical machines and treadmills were usually crowded during the morning workout hours (7 – 8AM), otherwise it usually wasn’t too crowded when I went there early in the day or mid-morning. I used the jogging lap once, but prefer the wider Promenade deck that goes around the entire ship. To stay in shape, we also took the stairs from deck to deck instead of waiting forever for elevators.

 

The Galleria stocked the typical NCL logo goods, jewelry, snacks, liquor, cigarettes, rum cake, etc. Nothing really worth purchasing IMO, unless it’s duty-free liquor (which they hold until the very last day anyway). If you intend on purchasing any jewelry from the store there, make sure you bargain with them and ask for any kind of discount you can get. I saw so many people just pay the full price on the tag. I simply asked for a “better price”, then returned with a lowball offer and bargained up to receive about 10% off.

 

CRUISE DIRECTOR / STAFF: Mike Szwajkowski was the CD. We thought he was excellent and very entertaining. Looks like a young David Schwimmer. He was very funny, witty, and energetic, ready with something sharp to say to get a laugh out of you. We didn't see him around the ship mingling or socializing too much, but he was at most of the "main" activities / shows and made a good host. I don't know if he was telling the truth or not, but for the next few weeks, he will be on different ships (one out of Boston and the Jewel in the Meditteranean) and then he will be back as the permanent CD on the Dawn. The rest of his staff (Ingrid the Bingo Queen, Alvin the sidekick, Paul with the English accent who looks like Sean William Scott) all worked well at their various activities and had good chemistry when they worked together.

 

DISEMBARKATION: No problems at all. We arrived early (7AM), so missed the return views home of the Statue and the sail up the Hudson. Express checkout started at 8AM, but we were still having breakfast in Venetian. At around 9:15, we walked off with all our baggage (without doing the Express) when our tag color was called. Just handed the port agent our Customs form and exited. No checking of passports, bags, etc. Walked over to 11th Ave. to get picked up and head on home.

 

MISC: The only thing that bugged us was NCL’s non-flexible policy regarding photos. There was a deal where if we purchased two dining photos @$14.99 each (two 6x8’s with a theme border on one), we could receive a third free. However, we didn’t take a 3rd couple shot (they also take single shots after each couple shot) and certainly didn’t want photos of just one of us. So we asked if we could instead take our embarkation photos (one 5x7, and three wallet shots) instead. They were selling the embarkation photos at $19.99 because it came with a nice folio. We simply asked to have just the photos, but they refused because it was “policy”. In the end we ended up having them duplicate a set of the dining photos (two 6x8’s), even after speaking to the supervisor and explaining that it makes no economical sense because they would be throwing away the smaller embarkation photos anyway (we weren’t going to buy them separately) and they didn’t have to reprint the larger photos for us. Several others were also angry because they also did not take enough dining photos and weren’t allowed to have any other pictures to substitute.

 

OVERALL: We certainly had a good time and enjoyed ourselves. The Freestyle concept allows us to dine alone when we want to or ask newly-met strangers to join us if we wanted. The Dawn is a remarkable ship and never felt overly crowded. It took a few days to nail down the location of everything on the ship (the pictures in the staircases are a major help), but as long as you have the proper orientation (forward, stern, port starboard. There were plenty of spaces to do whatever you wanted, be it sit in a hot tub to drink and relax, sunbathe, play some board games, enjoy the ocean views, find a quiet place to read, the Dawn has it all. The itinerary is very nice if you’ve never been to Bermuda or the Bahamas. Timewise, they probably could allot more time to Nassau instead of GSC. But you’ll make the best of it anyway. If they don’t change the itinerary, I can definitely see myself going for a second round to try the various things I didn’t get to this time around. I think I’ll try another cruise line to compare, but again, we certainly had a blast on the Dawn.

 

TIPS:

-Grab some extra pool towels and store them in your room. When it comes time to get off the ship, you can simply pack them in your bag and walk right off instead of lining up to check one out. I know some will get on my case about this as it is circumventing NCL’s towel loan policy, but I’d like to think most of us are responsible enough to bring it back on board. Saved me plenty of time as I went straight from my stateroom to exit off the gangway one deck below (instead of running up to the atrium or the main pool).

 

-For those who like to take the daily free spin in the casino, there were actually two chances on some days to spin and win a free specialty dinner or another cruise. The slot machine is pretty much right in the middle of the casino and there is an NCL employee in a red vest standing next to it during the free spin hours. If you’re catching any of the production shows, you can always swing on through the casino before or after and the take the spin.

 

-Leaving on the TV to the bridge camera channel (for Inside rooms) isn’t always the best idea because it is still bright enough compared to the pitch black of the room that it may bother those who can’t sleep with any light. (It also sets up a creepy Poltergiest / The Ring scenario....). Instead, to have some light I left the light on in our closet and opened one of the doors. That provided just enough light for me to not walk into anything if I needed to use the bathroom. The bridge camera worked nicely during the day to see what the weather was like or if the ship was in port yet.

 

-The power strip definitely came in handy. We had camera chargers as well as a plug-in alarm clock that had batteries as back-up, so one plug was definitely not enough.

 

-If you volunteer for certain activities, you usually get a little prize / souvenir for free. (Volunteer to be the Bingo verifier and you get a free strip of Krak-it pull tab cards, volunteer for a game show and you get a tote bag with goodies or a water bottle).

 

-All of the major crew shows and important talks are replayed on the TV, so if you miss any of it, you can almost always watch it again the next day.

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Right back at ya .. great review Maxima... The more the merrier ... I was really disappointed we were not able to meet you and other CC cruisers since the Star Bar was booked for a private party ...

 

This particlur week is fantastic for cruising, since schools are in session not too many kids and last year Feb.-10 day (not President's week) was mostly the retirement crowd. We cruised last year the same week on the Carnival Legend and it was pretty much the same crowd and it's a big plus that it's not yet hurricane season.

 

My DH and I are 50ish but we treated our son (22 yo -2nd time cruiser) and his GF (25 yo- first time cruiser) to a cruise for his college graduation last year. They were disappointed when they couldn't join us again this year but you know how it is for the newly employed; no vacation time and no funds ... ;) We were flattered that they would even consider vacationing with us.

 

Oh, one more thing, in the future, just ask the room steward to push the beds together.

 

Thanks for adding your post, ... TTYL

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I was on the same cruise & I agree about the menus. Our first night we ate at the Venetain. There was nothing for my wife to eat there. We had to go to the Garden Cafe & get her something to eat. La Bistro was excellent. We ate there twice & loved it. I had the combo & the presentation is great! The fondu is also great. The Itlaian resturant was good but they also were telling people they were booked & it was half empty both times we were there.

 

We found the same thing each time we walked by a specialty dining room. There were plenty of empty tables, but they said they were all booked up.

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