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speakertosuits

Norwegian Dawn 5/20/2006 Another Review

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Summary: Our second cruise on the Dawn was better in some respects and not so good in others. Bermuda was a treat, the weather was much better (no double hurricanes) but the variety of offerings in the three main dining venues seems to have decreased. Still , we like the Dawn and would consider a longer sailing in the future.

Background: Mary and I (Bob) are a late 50s couple, white collar professional types with no kids. This is our 22nd cruise, mostly Holland America, Celebrity and our fourth NCL (two on the SS Norway in 1983 and 2001 and the Dawn on September 2005). We have cruised in the Caribbean, Alaska, a Panama Canal transit, transatlantic crossings and Hawaii.

The Itinerary: The Dawn leaves NYC on 4PM Saturday, at sea Sunday, Bermuda (8 AM to 5 PM) Monday, at sea Tuesday, Great Stirrup Cay on Wednesday (7AM to 4 PM), Nassau, Bahamas Wednesday night (arrive 8PM), depart Nassau Thursday at noon, at sea Thursday afternoon and Friday and back to NYC on Saturday (10AM).

The Ship: Much has been written about the Dawn, suffice it to say the ship looked reasonably well maintained and, if not elegant, at least nicely decorated. The Dawn is about 91,000 Gross Register Tons and can carry about 2,300 pax. There are 10 passenger decks with most of the public spaces are on decks 6 and 7 including the main dining rooms, two of the three extra tariff restaurants and other venues. Deck 12 and 13 have the pool area, the Garden Cafe, several bars, cinema and open sun areas. T he Bimini bar and grill is on deck 14 forward. While the pool area is small for a ship this size, there is an amphitheatre like area extending from deck 12 to 14 forward for sunning. On this particular cruise, the pool area was well populated but the pool was fairly empty as were the Jacuzzis. We could always find a shaded space to park our towels and glasses while we swam and to dry out afterwards. There are four Jacuzzis around the pool area, two back by the bar and ice cream stand have shade and a fifth is forward of the Bimini Grill. There is also a small deep pool between the two shaded Jacuzzis that is cooler and more shaded; it also has some bubble action going though not as vigorous as the Jacuzzis. However, there is only a vertical ladder to climb in and out and the water is too shallow to jump into.

Like all modern ships, the Dawn has a lot of fire resistant finishes with little exposed wood. The finishes and decorations did a good job of mimicking wood grain or stone and conveyed a sense of 1903’s Art Deco styling.

Pre-cruise: We live in Brooklyn so it is normally a 30 minute ride by car service to the pier (pier 90 on 50th street). Traffic was particularly hideous Saturday May 20th with the Ninth Ave Food Festival and other goings on that munged up traffic flow. Since there were three ships in that day (Carnival Legend, Dawn and the NCL Spirit), we had our driver drop us off at 50th and12th Ave on the northbound side and we walked across to the pier. There are escalators and elevators that will take you and your luggage from street level to the departure/arrival deck. Since we had upgraded our cabin and did not have new luggage tags, a porter cross checked our NCL confirmation email with a list at the porter station, inspected our ID (passport or driver’s license) and tagged our bags for our cabin. Once inside, after early check-in, suite and Latitudes pax would go upstairs to a special waiting area. Check-in started a bit after noon and within 5 minutes, we were boarding the Dawn. After dropping off the bags in the cabin, we went to lunch in the Venetian Dining Room, a much better alternative to the Garden Café when boarding. Two of the three pieces of luggage we checked arrived by 2 PM, the third did not arrive until departure time.

The Cabin: Cabin 8670 (deck 8) is a rearward facing penthouse about 13 ½ feet wide by 22 feet long, the veranda is about 3 to 5 feet deep (cabin 290 sq ft; veranda 60 sq ft). The bathroom which has a separate tub and toilet compartments opens into a dressing area with a vanity desk and mirror, double dresser and mirrored door closet. There is extensive use of faux wood finishes that gives the suite a more retro look. The dressing area opens into the rest of the cabin which has a king bed, a four chair dining table, couch and side chair, round coffee table and desk. The closet can also be opened from the cabin hallway so two people can access the closet simultaneously. There is a 27 inch TV with built-in CD/DVD player, mini-fridge and coffeemaker/bar setup. The mini-fridge is now stocked with drinks and snack you pay extra for. Our room steward removed that stuff at our request. In the suites, the concierge (Claudio Schulze) sent around some tea sandwiches, chocolate covered strawberries and other goodies from time to time so being able to store that stuff in the fridge for later nibbling is very convenient. Drawer and storage space is more than adequate for two.

The only real problem is that most of the circuits are 220 with one 110 plug by the vanity desk and one in the bathroom, so bring either a 220 converter and plug or a power strip if you need to recharge your electronics. Several people have commented that they like having an aft cabin, while we did enjoy being mesmerized by the wake, the cavitation noise made it difficult to talk on the veranda. On the other hand, there was virtually no wind, spray or rain intruding on to the veranda. Some of the pillows were musty smelling, however, the cabin stewards quickly replaced them and all was well.

Weather: Unlike last September where we had to deal with hurricanes Nate and Ophelia, we had rough weather and rain only on Monday crossing the Gulf Stream to Bermuda and Friday coming up the coast near the Carolinas and again near Richmond Virginia. Bermuda itself was warm and partly sunny with a fresh breeze that kept you cool in the sun. Tuesday sailing from Bermuda to GSC, there was little if any wind and the seas were glass smooth. GSC was rainy when we first arrived but the rain cleared out and the rest of the day was cloudy. Thursday morning was overcast and humid and partly sunny after we left. Friday was cloudy and windy near Cape Fear. Saturday sailing into NYC was foggy and warm.

The Ports: The Dawn docked at Kings Wharf, Bermuda at the northwest end of the main island. After walking around the Royal Dockyards a bit, we took the water ferry to Hamilton ($4 one way). The water ferry docks around a small inlet from the cruise ship pier where there is a small trailer that sells tokens for the bus and ferry system. The dockyards has a small shopping mall, some craft shops and the Maritime museum. There is a small outdoor market near the ferry dock and the bus stop is near by as well.

In Hamilton, we shopped for sherry and rum pepper sauce which is a Bermuda specialty and is an excellent seasoning for soups and other stuff. The best prices for that and other foodstuffs is at the Marketplace on Church Street just east of Burnaby Street. The Hog Penny Pub on Burnaby Street was very crowded for lunch and we were directed to the Pickled Onion on Front Street owned by the people who own Hog Penny. The place was spacious, service was efficient and the food satisfying.

We did not go ashore at GSC, preferring to stay by the pool which was cool and breezy (and no sand to deal with). Only a few stores were open that night in Nassau.. A number of cruisers went to the Atlantis Casino on neighboring Paradise Island. Thursday morning we walked around downtown for a bit and bought some souvenirs and headed back to the ship.

Dining: The food in the dining rooms (Venetian, Aqua and Impressions) was good, but there is less variety. Last year while they all served the same basic entrées, they each put a slightly different spin on the meals they served. Venetian did Italian, Aqua Californian and Impressions neo-French, now they all are the same. While that may cut costs and make prep work easier, having the different styles in the main dining venues provided additional diversity that is now gone. For dinner the first course elections consisted of one or two salads, one or two appetizers and one or two soups. There were five dinner entrees with one red meat, one poultry, one seafood, one vegetarian and a pasta entree. You can always get a Caesar salad, grilled salmon or chicken breast and steak (not listed on the menu but still available. The Garden Café had a regular buffet, a so called New York Deli and a vegetarian buffet. The regular buffet was fine for our tastes if you stayed away from the steam table burgers, hot dogs and fries. We did not try the deli section, so we cannot comment. On the other hand, the vegetarian buffet offered surprisingly good Indian entrees. Burgers were cooked to order at the Bimini grill, unfortunately, they are cooked medium well. Did not try the pizza since cruise ship pizza is not all that good and is usually reheated to boot.

There are five specialty restaurants three of which are extra tariff. Of the three extra tariff restaurants, we tried Le Bistro which was quite good. The more upscale selections and quieter dining space were well worth the extra cost. We tried Bamboo’s $10 all you can eat sushi lunch and the selections and quality were good. The tapas offerings at the bar at Salas were interesting and much better than the standard bar chow offered elsewhere. The theme nights for the main dining venues were 50s/60s on Tuesday night and Caribbean on Wednesday night.

The Pax: Since this is the week leading into Memorial Day, there were a number of children and teens but they were not obviously obstreperous. Although the ship sold out, it did not feel crowded. I noticed that the majority of pax tended to be blue collar or non-professional white collar types. While not the type of people one would find on HAL or even Celebrity; there were few upper class meltdowns over minor lapses in service and even fewer pretentious twits. Most of pax seemed quite happy to be on the Dawn. There was a broad ethnic mix with Caribbean, Russian, Asian, Hispanic and other minorities. Sort of like Brooklyn afloat.

Miscellaneous: We had signed on to Cruise Critics and planned a meet and mingle party for the Star Bar, however, the ship left late and the Star Bar was taken over for a private function. If you do a meet and mingle party, someplace like the Spinnaker Lounge might be better. Also a second party the first sea day is also a good idea.

NCL held the Latitudes member party on Tuesday afternoon. That evening, there was a separate party for suite pax. They should consider having those parties on separate sea days in the future.

The Staff: They made an effort to be friendly and outgoing and not just for tips since part of the Freestyle cruising concept is that tips are pooled and a $10/day/person service charge is added to your on-board account. The dining room staff is polished in their presentation for the most part and is very willing to get you extra portions or to cajole you into taking dessert. The bar staff is quite congenial, engaging and efficient. The cabin staff was efficient and unobtrusive in keeping the cabin clean and turned down in the evening. Like the pax, the staff comes from a broad mix of nationalities with Asian, Caribbean and eastern European predominating. Living in Brooklyn, Mary and I were quite comfortable with the various versions of accented English. Although there is a $10/pp charge to cover tips, we provided additional tips to the room stewards, butler and concierge as well as our regular bar staff. While we did spend more in tips than normal, we felt the service was worth the extra cost.

Entertainment: We normally do not attend the evening entertainment, but we did see the South Beach Rave and the two Second City shows. The singing and dancing at South Beach Rave was good but the sound system in the main showroom was over loud as though they were trying to make up for lack of talent with volume. Not necessary and very annoying. There is a Second City comedy troupe on board and they were very good. We saw both their evening shows as well as their afternoon comedy clinic. The music was a bit sedate, on our September cruise, we had a very good blue-rock band which was missing this time around.

Post cruise: Not much to say since we live in NYC. If possible do take advantage of express checkout where you can disembark early if you can carry off your luggage. We arrived at the Verazzano about 6 AM and docked shortly before 7 AM. Express checkout goes by deck with decks10 and 11 called first then decks 8 and 9. Once off the ship, if you are going to take a taxi, they are plentiful, but you must get a numbered ticket from the taxi dispatcher since taxis are dispatched based on those numbered tickets. We got off the ship by about 8:20 AM. Once we got out ticket, getting a cab was quick and we were home by 9 AM.

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The Pax: Since this is the week leading into Memorial Day, there were a number of children and teens but they were not obviously obstreperous. Although the ship sold out, it did not feel crowded. I noticed that the majority of pax tended to be blue collar or non-professional white collar types. While not the type of people one would find on HAL or even Celebrity; there were few upper class meltdowns over minor lapses in service and even fewer pretentious twits. Most of pax seemed quite happy to be on the Dawn. There was a broad ethnic mix with Caribbean, Russian, Asian, Hispanic and other minorities. Sort of like Brooklyn afloat.

 

A review is nice, but some of your commentary was NOT necessary. Furthermore, on what do you base your expert opinion of a passenger who tends to be "blue collar or non-professional white collar types" ???????? Long hair? Jeans instead of Dockers? Go back to HAL.

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Ouch - who are you the mind police??? This person is entitled to an opinion, and it sounded to me as if the OP enjoyed the mix of passengers AND the fact that there were few pretentious twits. I want to thank the OP for this review this is an itinerary I was thinking of taking and ANY insight is helpful.

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Why can't people be allowed to say what they need to say - I agree that it sounded like they were describing the kind of people and enjoyed it.

 

Thanx for the review!

We are going July1st!

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Actually, if things are the same as when we were on the Dawn, Speakertosuits description of the diversity in the make up of the pax population was completely accurate!

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Actually, if things are the same as when we were on the Dawn, Speakertosuits description of the diversity in the make up of the pax population was completely accurate!

 

I agree...and we thoroughly enjoy them all...well, almost;)

 

The pax., complaining about waiting for an elevator when everyone and their mother are embarking really get to me:( Chill out and go for a drink:)

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Folks, my apologies if I in turn offended you by my response.

 

My point was that the classifications of people was unnecessary. It was the wording that offended me. IMHO, had the OP stated that there was a lot of diversity in the pax population, that would have done the trick without insult - to me or anyone who have chosen not to comment.

 

I do offer that we've always felt comfortable and greatly enjoyed ourselves on each of our Dawn cruises, no matter what class, nationality or religion were among us. Like the Captain will always state, there are no social or racial boundaries on their ships and unlike other places (or countries) it works!

 

Barb

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Speakertosuitsut,

Thank you for your review. Nice job, and I'm glad you enjoyed the Dawn.

Jackie

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thanks for the review! i enjoy all reviews - good and bad - and being as candid as possible is welcomed. everyone looks for different things when booking a cruise, so throwing out details that others may not is not only allowed but appreciated (at least by me). i sail out on the dawn on saturday... can't wait!

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thanks for the review! i enjoy all reviews - good and bad - and being as candid as possible is welcomed. everyone looks for different things when booking a cruise, so throwing out details that others may not is not only allowed but appreciated (at least by me). i sail out on the dawn on saturday... can't wait!

Rapunzel,

Lucky you! We will be on the Majesty on Sunday, but the Dawn is one of my favorite ships. Have a great time.

Jackie

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rapunzel4040. Glad you found the review useful, that why I write them. I hope you have a great time on the Dawn. Bermuda is perhaps the best port on this itinerary but the water was cold (I checked Oceanweather.com for wave conditions and water temps before leaving). Jewelfine, by July the water should be warm in Bermuda as well. Check out some of the websites like this one http://www.bermudatourism.com/65.aspx

 

One additional note. Go to the crew show which was on Thursday afternoon, there are some really talented people on the staff and we enjoyed the show. If you are lucky, they may close with a routine called "Fountains". You really should see it.

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rapunzel4040. Glad you found the review useful, that why I write them. I hope you have a great time on the Dawn. Bermuda is perhaps the best port on this itinerary but the water was cold (I checked Oceanweather.com for wave conditions and water temps before leaving). Jewelfine, by July the water should be warm in Bermuda as well. Check out some of the websites like this one http://www.bermudatourism.com/65.aspx

 

One additional note. Go to the crew show which was on Thursday afternoon, there are some really talented people on the staff and we enjoyed the show. If you are lucky, they may close with a routine called "Fountains". You really should see it.

I think your appraisal of those cruising is one thing that makes NCL a little different from many lines: it doesn't have a class nitch like other ships. I enjoy NCL for that reason and it appears you did also; maybe your wording could have been a little gentler so as not to offend, but your point was well taken. NMNita

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I think your appraisal of those cruising is one thing that makes NCL a little different from many lines: it doesn't have a class nitch like other ships. I enjoy NCL for that reason and it appears you did also; maybe your wording could have been a little gentler so as not to offend, but your point was well taken. NMNita

 

We have cruised out of NY many times on the NCL Dawn, Celebrity Horizon/Zenith, and Carnival Legend and have found the mix of passengers on these three lines to be the same, albeit different average age; more families during school vacations and more couples or older crowd during 'off' season.

 

No 'class nitch' on these ships ... And that's what we enjoy,also. The passengers are a cross-section of people living in the tri-state area or vacationing in NYC...

 

I don't know about RCL or Princess out of NY/NJ .. I will need to try them.

 

HAL, Cunard and the upscale lines, are out of my price range so I don't know the mix out of NY..

 

Speaker, too bad we did not get to meet you and the CC group on this cruise with the Star Bar closed to us...

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Sailing out of NYC offers a number of advantages. Not having to fly to the port of embarkation is one big plus given the cost of flying, the cattlecar conditionsand the security hassles. Since we generally go a day or two before in case the weather turns bad the day of departure (one cruise we were on sailed half full due to severe weather in Florida and NYC the day of sailing), we save the cost of hotels and meals out with an NYC departure. We certainly do like the diversity of people on NYC cruises. Having cruised out of Florida for many years, we have found there is a larger proportion of people from the midwest and southeast are on these cruises. Good people, but maybe just a little too white bread for our tastes.

 

HAL caters to an older, more tradition minded clientele with a willingness to spend money for attentive, professional service. Celebrity caters to a middle age crowd who also have money, just not as much as the HAL crowd. Having said that, each cruise has a different pax load. In any case, YMMV. Taking the advise of one poster to this thread, we are going on HAL's Noordam this October and their per diems are lower than NCL's. Perhaps pre-Memorial day cruises are more profitable.

 

Sorry we missed you DaisyL. May be we will meet up again on NCL or another line.

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One additional note. Go to the crew show which was on Thursday afternoon, there are some really talented people on the staff and we enjoyed the show. If you are lucky, they may close with a routine called "Fountains". You really should see it.

 

We enjoyed the crew talent show on the Jewel and yes, were fortunate enough to see "Fountains." Hilarious! And it's not something one can even put into words, you have to see it! :-D

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Speakertosuits, thanks for the review. DH and I are on this cruise August 5th so it was good to hear your point of view about what to expect.

You said you stayed on board at Great Stirrup Key. Did many people do that? It actually sounds like a great way to enjoy the ship for a day.

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Hi,

 

I keep hearing about "Fountains" I'm leaving this Saturday (6/17) and I hope they offer it.

 

Thank you for your tips!

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Speakertosuits, thanks for the review. DH and I are on this cruise August 5th so it was good to hear your point of view about what to expect.

 

You said you stayed on board at Great Stirrup Key. Did many people do that? It actually sounds like a great way to enjoy the ship for a day.

 

We also stayed aboard. The ship was pretty empty. We enjoyed being almost alone.

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