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Cruising Tammy

Dawn Review 10/22-10/29

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Ok, let me start by saying I am writing this review for people who have never cruised on the Dawn before. I know that the experienced cruisers who love NCL will not be happy with my review. But my intention is just to give a heads up to the new cruisers.

I was on the Dawn from 10/22 - 10/29. Let me explain that I had cruised previously on the Dawn last year, in an inside cabin. This cruise, my fiancé and I decided to treat ourselves to a balcony room. We booked a balcony in the middle of the ship, because becoming sea sick is a huge fear of mine.

One week before our cruise, NCL called me and offered me an upgrade to a Penthouse Suite on the 9th floor, for just an additional $400. It sounded like a great deal, and while I was talking to the woman on the phone, I jumped on my computer to find out the location of this suite. Unfortunately it was room 9000, which is directly in front of the ship. I told the NCL woman that I was skeptical of becoming sick from all the motion. She assured me that the stabilizers on the ship were wonderful, and I wouldn't feel a thing. So we booked it.

Embarkation was fine. Because we were Latitude Members who previously cruised with NCL, we had a special waiting area with sandwiches and drinks. Once the NCL employees found out we were in a Penthouse, we were treated even better. I felt like the red carpet was rolled out for us, and we suddenly were "above" everyone else. We were personally escorted to our concierge, Simone.

We got on the ship by 12:30 and were instructed rooms were being cleaned and all rooms would be available to passengers at 2:00. So we went to the Garden Cafe for some buffet food while we waited.

2:00 came and we finally were able to go to our suite. It was so impressive, huge and beautiful. We had a queen size bed, a living room area, a dining table with 4 chairs. I had a vanity with a separate entrance hallway to it. The bathroom had a full bathtub. And there was so much closet and drawer space to unpack and put away all of our stuff. We actually had empty drawers left over.

Then we went out to our balcony. This thing should've been called a deck, because it was almost as big as my deck at home. We could've easily entertained 20-30 people comfortably on this balcony. There were 2 lounge chairs on the balcony, and just a small table in between the chairs.

We were impressed with everything up until this point.

Then we started to pull out of port, and we wanted to stand on our balcony to watch all the sites of NYC. Well, the wind that whipped around that balcony was unbearable. I hadn't even given thought to the wind being a terrible factor for us, since we were in the front of the ship. But it was. So we sat in our cabin and watched out the window instead.

We soon realized as time went on that we were not going to be able to enjoy our spacious balcony, unless we were in port and not moving. :-(

And when we did dock in ports, we split our time there between getting off the boat to site see, and shop, and the other half was laying on our balcony.

So when all was said and done, not much time was spent on our balcony at all. I wish I would've stuck with my original plan of having an ordinary balcony. I know I would've enjoyed that more.

Also, our last day at sea we got stuck in a storm. Saturday morning around 5AM we were woken to everything in our room shifting around, and everything falling all over the place. So much for those great stabilizers. You couldn't walk around my cabin at all. During the day, the seas got a little better, but then it got worse at night. At one point housekeeping knocked on my door late, and informed me that the capt. wanted them to take the furniture off of my balcony. When they opened my door to the balcony, you could see the water just crashing on my balcony. And the wind was unbelievable. I was told that my cabin happened to be one of the rooms that were hit by those 30 foot waves that caused all that damage on the Dawn last May.

Needless to say after hearing that, I was unable to sleep the rest of the night. It was the worse experience I had out of all the cruises I had been on.

I understand that NCL has no control over the weather conditions, but I was just annoyed that the woman who sold me the upgrade had insisted the stabilizers were so good in the front I wouldn't feel a thing. That was a flat out lie. And I honestly believe why this room didn't sell, was because people are aware of it's history. That's why I was offered such a great deal on it.

Honestly, if I was offered this deal again, even as a free upgrade, I wouldn't take it. It was not worth it at all.

Ok, enough about my Penthouse Suite nightmare. Just keep this in mind if you're ever offered a "deal" and it's one of the suites in the front of the ship.

FOOD: I'm really not trying to sound negative, but the food was nothing to write home about.

 

For some reason, all the meats they had at their bbq's were never hot. Maybe they were close to warm, but things that were taken off the grill in front of me, tasted room temperature at best.

There was always hot dogs, burgers, and sausage being grilled. There were a few days they offered steak and pork chops, but this meat was dry, unseasoned, and room temperature.

We did frequent the Garden Cafe a lot, for their buffets. There didn't seem to be much variety.

Breakfast was the same buffet style you'd find on all cruises. There are omelet, toast and waffle stations. There was only one person making omelets, so the line was long. And the waffle and toast stations they had, the people would make the waffles and toast ahead of time, and then the food wood sit there cold.

Lunch and dinner at the buffet were pretty much the same food.

Lots of baked chicken served over and over different ways. Boxed pizza that was never hot was available at the buffet all the time too. There were rice dishes prepared different ways all the time too.

There is a vegetarian part of the buffet that had a pasta station set up sometimes.

There was also a part of the buffet in the back of the Garden Cafe called the NY Deli. This was open everyday at lunch, occasionally at dinner. And from 10 PM to midnight you can catch something to eat in here. There were always hot dogs and hamburgers available here with fries. And most of the time they had sliced cold cuts (ham, turkey, cheeses, salami) for sandwiches. The rolls for the sandwiches were always fresh, I will say that. But sometimes the cold cuts didn't look so fresh. Obviously they're packaged, and not sliced fresh due to the fact they have to last for a week. But I saw salami one day that looked very gray, and not good.

There are also salads and pickles available for sides with your sandwich.

I did not go to the main dining room at all for dinners. Unfortunately my fiancé does not like to wait long for his food, and we had met some passengers the 1st day who complained about their wait for their food in the formal dining room. I knew that shot my chances of going there for dinner. :-(

We did eat at Salsa's, which is a Mexican restaurant that's free of charge. They have delicious appetizers, and different Spanish meals for dinner. You can also order dinners such as ribs or meatloaf too. It was very easy to get reservations for this restaurant.

The La Trottoria (I think I spelled that right) was also another free restaurant. This room was part of the Garden Cafe which was transformed into an Italian restaurant in the evenings. The food was good here too.

I refused to eat at any of the restaurants that had a cover charge.

A few side notes in regards to food and drink.

There is an ice cream bar located in the middle of the topsiders bar on the 12th deck. I wouldn't call it an ice cream bar. It's open only from noon till about 4 or 5 PM. And they will give you 1 scoop of ice cream on a cone. There's not an option of having a bowl of ice cream. Nor or there any toppings to put on your ice cream.

Blue Lagoon, is located on the 7th floor, and is a great place for snacks. They have good chicken wings, mac and cheese, stir fried rice, potato skins with bacon and cheese, etc. This is a great place to stop in if you just want a small bite to hold you over. They're open 24 hours.

DRINKS:

Alcoholic - They are reasonably priced drinks, between $5 and $6. Make sure you specify to your waiter you do not need a souvenir glass, otherwise your drink runs about $8. Also, whether you order your drink at the bar yourself or from a waiter, you will have a 15% gratuity charge added to your order. So save the trip of getting up, and have your waiter do the work for you. :-)

Non-Alcoholic - Cranberry, Apple and Orange juices are offered free to you in the mornings at the buffet. Once lunch time comes, these juices disappear. The only cold drinks you're offered for free are unsweetened iced tea, and water.

One of my gripes with NCL is their limited choices of non-alcholic drinks. I purchased a soda card for $40.25. And I read the rules that the card is meant for soda only. But I don't understand why I can't order o.j. or cranberry juice at the bars with this card, for free? I'm not looking for alcohol with them. And the juices are served every morning for free.

I hate iced tea, and do not trust their water machines, so I had no choice to drink soda. But drinking soda 7 days straight all afternoon and night can really make you feel so bloated.

I've traveled on Carnival 2x, and I love that they have lemonade and fruit punch free all day long. And there are stations set up for these drinks.

With my soda card on NCL, you have to wait on bar lines to order a soda, and the bartenders aren't quick or eager to help you, since there's no gratuity involved.

There is no place in the buffet areas to get a soda. You have to leave your eating area, find a bar, wait on line and then get 1 glass of soda. God forbid they give you 2 glasses, so you don't have to get back up in the middle of your meal for another drink. They think you're scamming them to give the soda to someone else.

I realize this post is extremely long, and I haven't touched on the ports or disembarkation. If anyone has questions, feel free to ask, and I will respond.

I'm sorry if I rambled on so long. :-(

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Hi Tammy,

 

Thanks for your review! I was on the cruise right after you so I know how bad that wind storm was. Imagine flying at 25,000 feet dipping and rocking while coming into NYC!

 

The food in the main dining rooms has definitely become a common theme throughout the threads lately. Unfortunate especially because many people don't want to spend the money to eat in the specialty restaurants.

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Hi Tammy!

 

 

Am I glad I read your review because I forgot how much we did NOT like our cruise on the Dawn this past March! I way toying with going back on either the Dawn or the Spirit next Spring but I think that I will stay away! You brought back all ofthe things I didn't like the first time..

 

1. The buffet was the worst I have ever eaten at. Very small variety of food and, like you, I hate iced tea and had nothing else to drink except soda the entire week.

 

2. No adults only pool (like Carnival has)

 

3. The main showroom had absolutely no leg room at all! You were squashed up against the row seats in front of you. All I could think about while I was in there was how soon the show would be over so I could get up and leave... I love Carnival as they have big, roomy seats and aisles...with tables to place your drinks!

 

We did have a nice oceanview room.. Our steward kept forgetting to leave clean washcloths and I even had to call for toilet paper! The ship itself was very nice...no complaints there. Found out that even though the restaurants are free, you still needed to make reservations days ahead of time or you were out of luck.

 

Bingo was very expensive so we rarely played..only the final game! I did enjoy the casino though...!!

 

Maybe if I could get a fantastic, cheap rate I might do it one more time but I will skip all the shows the next time! I am a Carnival girl but we have already taken all the Carnival cruises out of NY at least once each!

 

Oh Well! Being on any cruise is better than not being on a cruise!!

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Tammy,

 

Sorry you didn't enjoy your Penthouse Suite 9000. Wind is always an issue when sailing. The reason the front penthouses don't sell is because of price not their location. Cabin 9000 wasn't one of the cabins hit by the "Rogue Wave". It as 10506, 9502 & 9506 on the other side.

 

The stabilizers on the Dawn are very good, but they are located behind your cabin. The bow of any ship is going to take the brunt of all the big waves and there's nothing that can be done to change that fact. For people prone to motion sickness, the best place is low and in the middle.

 

Since you had a penthouse, you could have had the Concierge make reservations for ANY restaurant for you and you wouldn't have to wait. We do it all then time. You could have had dinner in your cabin also. The butler would have brought you any juices and kept you fridge stocked with them. It took us a cruise to figure out how to use the Concierge's & Butler's services. It's really a plus.

 

We're sailing at the end of January and have a penthouse in the stern. You can use this balcony when sailing.

 

I have read many bad things about the food from the last few cruises and hope that it is cleared up by the time we sail.

 

Hope your next cruise is better.

 

Monty

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Monty wrote:

"The butler would have brought you any juices and kept you fridge stocked with them. It took us a cruise to figure out how to use the Concierge's & Butler's services. It's really a plus."

 

We did have the butler keep our fridge stocked with juice, but we weren't in the room for all meals, so we were inconvenienced using the soda card.

 

I wish I had really researched how to use my butler and concierge. I know now I didn't use them to even 25% of what they could've done for us. :-(

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Thank you for the review! It brought me back to my Dawn cruise last may, we had also traveled on the Dawn previously. While i know there are alot of die-hard NCL cruisers out there, i am with the OP on this one. NCL has really gone downhill and i have chosen not to spend my hard earned money on a sub-standard product. Just an FYI to the OP, their are so many other options out of the NY/NJ area now, that you need not look back to NCL. I just returned from a phenomenal cruise on the Explorer of the Seas 3 weeks ago :D.....Happy Cruising......

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I wish I had really researched how to use my butler and concierge. I know now I didn't use them to even 25% of what they could've done for us. :-(

 

Too bad you didn't research the room too but I understand that through an upsell that would be difficult because you need to make a decision quickly... often the wind on the balcony is discussed here. Some love the forwards and others don't. I personally have not stayed in one but visited one while the ship was sailing. They would not be for me due to the wind. However, there are many people that love them including the people we visited that were staying in one.

 

Still though, your upsell price along with the amenities that you did not use much (concierge) is a great value for a penthouse.

 

I just want to comment too that it seems strange that a person would not even try the main dining rooms based on one persons experience of slow service. What do the two of you do in a land based restaurant? Slow service can happen there and it sometimes happens on a cruise too. I'm not trying to flame, I just find it interesting and what a pain that will be for your future. Do you never go out to dinner because the service might be slow?

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Thanks for the review.

 

I am sorry you didn't come to this board before you took the upgrade. We could have given you some advice. Most of the land side employees of NCL haven't been on a cruise and they really can't tell you what the rooms are like. We would have told you about what the butler could do for you. As for the up and down stabilizers have absolutely nothing to do with that. What they control is the yawing/rolling from side to side. No ship can do anything about the up and down although some ride it better than others. As someone else has said, the closer you are to the center of the ship, the less you feel the up and down as it stays pretty much where it is, both the front and back of the ship go up and down more than the center. Most of the mass market lines are the same about soda but some do have lemonaid available. If your room was stocked with juices, I would have just taken a can with me...or ordered extra for breakfast. In any case it does sound like there was plenty of food available....hope your next cruise is better.

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I just want to comment too that it seems strange that a person would not even try the main dining rooms based on one persons experience of slow service. What do the two of you do in a land based restaurant? Slow service can happen there and it sometimes happens on a cruise too. I'm not trying to flame, I just find it interesting and what a pain that will be for your future. Do you never go out to dinner because the service might be slow?

 

 

No, I rarely go out to nice restaurants with my fiance, due to this fact. I could kill him at times.:mad: But that's what my sister is for. We dine together a lot instead. :)

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No, I rarely go out to nice restaurants with my fiance, due to this fact. I could kill him at times.:mad: But that's what my sister is for. We dine together a lot instead. :)

 

Good for you! :)

 

BTW, nice name Tammy!

 

I am Tami otherwise known as CruisingfromMN

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We just returned from the Dawn and stayed in 9500 (got an upsell also). I had read all the 'warnings' on here and prepared for the worst. I have to say that the best part of the cruise was the cabin! I don't think I would ever want a different spot on the ship. Leaving NY it was very cold on the balcony but we bundled up and enjoyed the sights. The next morning I woke up and expected it to be unbearable & it was absolutely gorgeous out there we had coffee on the lounge chairs. Yes, while sailing it was breezy but not unbearable IMO. I was very surprised how nice it was out there. We used it every day, not just in port, as did alot of the people around us.

 

We had one very rough night that we did not sleep. I'm sure it was better in the middle of the ship but even when we were at sea, I always felt the motion, even in the center of the ship. I think it's something you have to consider when you're coming to/from NY in the Atlantic.

 

I'm not trying to disagree with you, just wanted to share my experience since I loved the suite & I was on the 11/5-11/12 cruise!!! I do agree about the food, we avoided the buffets but we went to the specialty restaurants. For an extra $40, going to the steakhouse was worth it and it wasn't going to break us. We also used the butler & had breakfast in our room every day & had him bring in one dinner. This was our first cruise and I tried to do my research before hand. I do agree with you about the non-alcoholic drinks, there should be more offered. And the ice cream was a joke! We got it once and it tasted terrible. Maybe we had a bad batch but it wasn't worth eating.

 

We found ourselves coming out for a bit but then going back to the peacefulness of the cabin & balcony. I cannot stress how much I loved it out on the balconey, even while sailing. And our weather wasn't great.

 

This first cruise was definitely an experience. I guess we are lucky to have our first one in a penthouse suite! I just wish we had picked a different week becuase it seems like it was on off week for the Dawn (although we loved the staff).

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We just returned from the Dawn and stayed in 9500 (got an upsell also). I had read all the 'warnings' on here and prepared for the worst. I have to say that the best part of the cruise was the cabin! I don't think I would ever want a different spot on the ship. Leaving NY it was very cold on the balcony but we bundled up and enjoyed the sights. The next morning I woke up and expected it to be unbearable & it was absolutely gorgeous out there we had coffee on the lounge chairs. Yes, while sailing it was breezy but not unbearable IMO. I was very surprised how nice it was out there. We used it every day, not just in port, as did alot of the people around us.

 

We had one very rough night that we did not sleep. I'm sure it was better in the middle of the ship but even when we were at sea, I always felt the motion, even in the center of the ship. I think it's something you have to consider when you're coming to/from NY in the Atlantic.

 

I'm not trying to disagree with you, just wanted to share my experience since I loved the suite & I was on the 11/5-11/12 cruise!!! I do agree about the food, we avoided the buffets but we went to the specialty restaurants. For an extra $40, going to the steakhouse was worth it and it wasn't going to break us. We also used the butler & had breakfast in our room every day & had him bring in one dinner. This was our first cruise and I tried to do my research before hand. I do agree with you about the non-alcoholic drinks, there should be more offered. And the ice cream was a joke! We got it once and it tasted terrible. Maybe we had a bad batch but it wasn't worth eating.

 

We found ourselves coming out for a bit but then going back to the peacefulness of the cabin & balcony. I cannot stress how much I loved it out on the balconey, even while sailing. And our weather wasn't great.

 

This first cruise was definitely an experience. I guess we are lucky to have our first one in a penthouse suite! I just wish we had picked a different week becuase it seems like it was on off week for the Dawn (although we loved the staff).

there should never be an off week on a cruise ship, we work to hard for such a short vacation and the ships staff needs to be well aware of the high percentage of repeat passengers so they don`t have a off week and allow someone to have a mediocre cruise and quite possibly lose to another cruise line.after 12 years of cruising other lines this is our first NCL cruise and i hope its not our last due to an off week, thanks for the review.

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You were willing to pay $400.00 for an upsell but not $20.00 dollars for a great meal. Why?

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