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Norwegian Dawn Review 7/1 - 7/8

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I traveled with my husband(42), myself(40) and two children( 9 ½ and 10 ½ yrs old). We were all first time cruisers.


Embarkation: We live about an hour from NYC, so we drove to the pier.

We arrived at 12:30pm. The pier was very crowded. We pulled up to the pier, unloaded the luggage and I drove the car to the parking deck above the pier.

The Good: Being able to drive instead of fly; Unloading the car and parking were very very easy. It took about 10 minutes.

The Bad: Being corralled into the waiting area. We waited for about 1 hour in the first waiting area until our line started to move.

The Ugly: waiting for another 1 ½ hour in the second waiting area to get our sail and sign cards and board the ship.


We finally were onboard the ship at about 3pm. From reading the cc posts, we went straight to the restaurants to make reservations for the specialty restaurants. We stopped at Salsas first to make a 7:30 reservation for the first night. The hostess at Salsa’s was also kind enough to call Cagney’s to make reservation for the 2nd night, July 2nd. After Salsa’s, we stopped by to make a reservation for Le Bistro for the middle of the week.

Feeling great about the accomplishment of having all of our specialty restaurant reservations, we headed to the Venetian for lunch. I knew that they closed at 2:30pm from reading the cc posts, but thought that maybe they would be open late because so many people were delayed getting on the ship. No such luck, they were closed. We headed to the Garden buffet for lunch; but more on the food later….


The Ship is very very large. It was very clean and well maintained. It seemed like crew members were always in sight cleaning or fixing something. Our cabin was an oceanview. The cabin was small(as expected). But, there was plenty of storage space for all four of us; as long as we kept organized. I had always heard that bathrooms on ships were extremely small. I did not find this in our cabin. The cabin and bathroom were fine(even for all four of us while trying to get ready for dinner).

The Good: Newness and cleanliness of ship; our cabin; and the TREX kids pool. I don’t have anything to compare since the Dawn was our first cruise, but the ship was very clean and kept up. Our cabin worked for us. I thought that the size would be a problem, but it really was not. Our cabin steward was great. He kept the room spotless and restocked with towels, etc... We had towel animals 4 of the 7 nights. Kids loved them especially when they had their sunglasses on them. My 9 yr old daughter loved the TREX kids pool/slides. This was a big relief since we did not/could not get near the Oasis pool on most days!!!!(see below)

The Bad: The size of the ship. Not that this is really bad. But, it does take a few days to get used to where you are(forward vs. aft, which deck etc…)

The Ugly: The Oasis pool. The pool is extremely small for the number of passengers. We did not spend a lot of time here because of the SMALL pool size and the number of rude chair hogging people. I know there are many stories about this. But, I have never seen so many rude people. Not only the chair hoggers, but the people that move the chairs around so that they are right one top of others. At one point, there was no available space on the upper sun deck to walk through. I would think that this is safety issue, but crew members did not move the chairs and allowed the chairs to remain blocking the walkways.


Food(for the most part) was very good. I have only three complaints. The Caribbean dinner night was awful(almost inedible). I know food is subjective, but all four of us did not like dinner this night. 2nd complaint- Salsa. If you enjoy Mexican food, this might not be for you. The food tasted a little bit like Taco Bell. My third complaint is the service we received at Le Bistro. We dined at Le Bistro the night we were arriving in Nassau. The waitress was very rushed. I commented on this to her. And she agreed and told us that the faster they served and finished up, the quicker the crew could get off the boat and enjoy Nassau. I have heard great reviews about Le Bistro, but all I can say is watch what night you book your reservation. You may not get the service you expect.

The Great/Good: Cagney’s and Aqua. The appetizers at Cagney’s were awesome. The filet mignon was the best I have ever had. We also really liked Aqua; we ate there twice. We enjoyed the smaller atmosphere and service was excellent.

The Bad: Food at Salsa tastes at little better than Taco bell and the Caribbean dinner night.

The Ugly: service at Le Bistro; Since this is pay restaurant, I would expect the service to be top notch all the time. Also, the Garden Buffet seemed like a Ponderosa buffet. To be fair, I don‘t like to eat at buffets in general...


Staff: The staff was generally okay. There were a few outstanding crew members. But, for the most part I found most to be very aloof as if they were doing you a favor by doing their jobs. Also, on more than one occasion, we were told "I'm sorry, this is ‘NCL’ policy". An example was the shuffleboard. We arrived to play at 6:00pm on the last sea day only to find a crew member locking the equipment in the storage rack. My kids were very excited that we did not have to wait in line to play. We asked the crew member if he could leave the storage rack unlocked for ½ hr so that we could play a quick game. Nope- it is 'NCL policy' to lock up the equipment at 6pm and he was just following the policy. It is the little things(and some bigger as listed below) like this that I think would have made a difference it our overall experience..

The Good: Our cabin stewards; hostess at Salsa who called Cagney’s to make reservations; Waiter Alex from Aqua.

The Bad: Kid’s crew. We booked on NCL based on the belief that the cruise would be full of kids and that my girls would enjoy the Kid’s crew. My daughters are very close in age at 9 ½ and 10 ½ yrs old. The Kid’s crew staff refused to even consider that my 9 1/2 could be part of the 10-12 group. I know that it is 'NCL policy'. I heard that many times during the week. But, when you have an almost 9 ½ yr old in a group with 6 yr olds watching Mr. Bubbles… Not good…..We wound up not using Kid’s crew, which in the end turned out fine. My daughters made friends with other children who also refused to go to kid’s crew.

The Ugly: Can’t say that anything was really ugly.


Entertainment was very good! We went to all of the shows accept the Talent show.

The Good: Jean Ryan Dancers. We really enjoyed both the South Beach Rave and the Bollywood shows. The Casino; my husband loves playing blackjack. He even wound up being a little ahead by the end of the week

The Bad: I have to say I did not like Matt Baker. I found him to be a very corny. To be fair, this did not impact my vacation at all.

The Ugly: Bingo. We don’t usually play bingo, but the kids were interested. So, on our first full day at sea, we went to the morning session of bingo . The kids were hooked. We played throughout the week. We played both the paper bingo and the automatic machines. My complaint is that on the last day at sea, the prices to play bingo were doubled. Bingo was not cheap fun in the first place at $55 dollars for the machine that played around 72 games. On the last day, the price of the machine was raised to $110. I know that the number of games played increased, but come on. It is these little annoying things that take away from the trip. My husband commented on the price change to Ingrid - the bingo queen. To her credit, she agreed about the unfairness of the price changing on the last day. She has also complained to NCL management regarding this ‘policy’


The Good: Bermuda was beautiful; would definitely go back(maybe on another cruise that docks for a few days); Great Stirrup Cay was a great beach day.; Excursion to Atlantis

The Bad: Limited time in each of the ports; Great Stirrup Cay is way to small for the number of passengers on the Dawn; we also encountered rude beach hogging; chair hogging people here

The Ugly: Nassau. I definitely would not want to walk alone at night.


Disembarkation: It was a breeze. We were docked at about 8:15am and off the boat at about 9:00am. We did the express disembarkation which could not have been more simple. We were off the ship and in our car and on the West Side highway within 10 minutes.


Overall: We enjoyed our first cruise. There were a few annoyances that took away from the overall experience like the inflexibility of the NCL policies regarding Kids crew, the Bingo price change and the aloofness of most of the staff. And in hindsight, I would have picked a cruise that had more port days and less sea days. Next time, I might try another cruise line to see if their service is a little better…

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Great Review Jsil! We are going on the Dawn for the first time (100 days but who's counting:D ) and I love to read about "her"!


Thanks for sharing!


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