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John & Liz

Dawn Review - Part 1 of 2

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I think I read every NCL Dawn review on these boards before we first boarded her on October 10th. There is an enormous wealth of information out there. Others have done wonderful jobs detailing the ship’s decor, restaurants, bars, theater and other areas of the ship.

 

In writing my comments, I chose to focus on observations that either haven not be covered in the past or differed from what I had expected.

 

This was our first cruise. We’re a couple in our mid 40s and traveled with our ten-year-old son. We were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. Traditional cruises had simply never appealed to us, they seemed to regimented. Then we heard about the NCL’s “Free Style Dining” and became intrigued.

 

Our trip began on the 7:45 am NCL bus from Providence. We left Providence after 8 am. It was a quick four-hour trip to NYC that included a scenic drive through the Bronx and Central Park, a treat for those on the bus who had never been to the city. There was a long delay before we reached the ship. A bomb scare at the pier that morning that led to a two-plus hour back up.

 

One benefit to traveling by bus: we didn’t have to touch our luggage again. It was eventually delivered to the hall outside our cabin. The crew at the pier asked for a $2.00 tip per person and we were encouraged to tip our driver whatever we wanted.

 

The terminal building and the NCL check in process can be improved. It is organized chaos at best with long lines feeding into other lines with various security and documentation checkpoints. We had pre-registered a few days before and despite information to the contrary on NCL’s web site, all of our information was in their systems.

 

We arrived in our cabin shortly after 2:30.

 

We were in a cabin with a balcony # 10580, mid-ship, port side. I expected a cabin roughly the size of the smallest hotel room I had ever stayed in. It was smaller than that. Our room stewards stopped by to say hello and to see if there was anything we needed. At 6’6” I’m a big guy. Head clearance was a concern but was rarely as issue all week although my feet hung off the bed every night.

 

It should be noted that an oft-recommended item on these boards caused one of our bags to be confiscated during the luggage screening process. We received a note on our door that we had to ‘report to the principle’s office’ to retrieve our confiscated luggage and surrender that item. The item that caused this issue was a simple clothes steamer.

 

The mandatory lifeboat drill was at 3:30. We decided to delay our exploration of the ship and stayed in the cabin until then. The drill is one of those necessary evils. Once done, we went aback to the cabin to dump our vests. We realized the ship was leaving.

 

Fearing long lines, we thought that this would be a good moment to go to the front desk to resolve an issue with our son’s key card not working. We also chose to book the shore excursions we had chosen. No one was at the nearby shore excursion desk but I was able to quickly fill out a form requesting registration for the three trips we had chosen.

 

We then headed up to the Star Bar to meet our on-line CC Pals. The get together never really materialized so we decided to begin exploring the ship. We began aft and toured the kid’s pool area and fitness center. Then we went down stairs and wandered through the spa. The pool there was bigger than I had expected. We then headed through the Garden Buffet and out to the Oasis pool area. There were people eating everywhere. We decided to hold off and have an early dinner at one of the major restaurants.

 

We went to the Spinnaker Lounge and had a drink while we enjoyed the view. Then we headed back to the room to unpack and prepare for our first dinner.

 

We chose the Venetian. The restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived around 5:45. We asked for a table by the back windows that looked out to the ship’s wake. As we were seated the hostess noted our shorts and sneakers and asked that we dress more appropriately for dinner in the coming nights.

 

 

Food

 

We would eat at the Venetian two more times in the week ahead. No reservations were required, we were always seated promptly and the service was always impeccable. One interesting note: at our waiter’s urging, we ordered a bottle of wine our first night although we felt like only a single glass each. At the end of the meal he offered to tag and store the wine for use at another meal. Or, if we chose, we could take the wine back to our cabin. We chose to store the wine and finished it during a dinner a couple of nights later.

 

We also dined at La Tratorria, Aqua, Le Bistro, and Salsa the food and service was excellent at each. We had lunch at the Blue Lagoon once and despite the fact the restaurant was nearly empty, found the food mediocre and wait staff that seemed distracted and desperate to be anywhere but there.

 

Our dinner at Le Bistro was part of the $79.00 anniversary package and one of the highlights of our week. It was the only extra-charge meal we had all week. We both ordered the surf and turf that came with filet mignon and three lobster tails and we also chose the famous chocolate fondue desert. As we ate desert two waiters came and asked us to hold hands across the table. They presented us with a cake in honor of our anniversary as they sang a rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” It was a very touching moment.

 

A couple of comments: We were struck by the hawking of bottled water (an extra charge) after we were seated which was immediately followed by the waiter explaining that our free dinner package didn’t apply to the entire menu. Note to NCL: Charge more for the package and avoid the awkward moment of a waiter having to explain the limitations of this ‘free meal.’

 

We used room service as our wake up call each morning. We ordered a full pot of coffee, orange juice and muffins and enjoyed those as we sat on our balcony watching each sunrise.

 

Breakfast each day was always at the breakfast buffet in the Garden Buffet. We chose not to go to one of the formal restaurants after hearing that breakfast there could stretch out to a two-hour meal. We had better things to do at that time of day!

 

Special Events:

 

The Chocolate Buffet was held in the Venetian at 2 PM on Monday. This is a beautifully- created feast with virtually any chocolate creation you can imagine.

 

The Martini Clinic was held in the Star Bar at 3 PM on Monday. TIP: If offered a choice, choose VODKA not gin. This ‘clinic’ is a great way to learn about and enjoy five different martinis in 90-minutes.

 

Itinerary

 

The Captain announced late Monday afternoon that there was an itinerary change. We would not be going to the Private Island due to storm damage. We’d spend Thursday night in Nassau, departing at 11 am Friday morning.

 

The Excursions

 

Cape Canaveral – the NASA Up Close tour.

 

This was an expensive tour. ($105 Adults/$75 Child). First, a bus transports you from the ship to NASA as a guide gives you some background on the events of the day and some history and background on the area.

 

Once arriving at NASA and heading into the visitor’s center, it’s time to board another bus while a “space-program expert” narrates a fact-filled tour. The first stop is a walking tour of the International Space Station Center building. Then it’s back into the bus for a drive past the current Space Shuttle Launch Pads A and B, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Shuttle Runway/Landing Facility, the Crawler Transporter and Crawlerway. Afterwards, you go back in time via multimedia to experience a launch in the actual control room used in the 1960s. Then you’re allowed to wander on your own through the massive Apollo/Saturn V facility. The highlights here include the Apollo Astronaut Transport Vehicle, a massive real Saturn V rocket.

 

You’re on your own for lunch. Be warned that NASA lunch facility won’t take your NCL key and the expensive cardboard pizza and warm burgers will have your longing for the good food back on the Dawn. Finally, it’s onto the IMAX Theater for your choice of one of two films. We saw the wonderful “Space Station 3D” film.

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It should be noted that an oft-recommended item on these boards caused one of our bags to be confiscated during the luggage screening process. We received a note on our door that we had to ‘report to the principle’s office’ to retrieve our confiscated luggage and surrender that item. The item that caused this issue was a simple clothes steamer.

OMG your kidding right? :eek:

Irons perhaps, but a clothes steamer? :confused:

Never ever heard of any fire that was started by a clothes steamer.:rolleyes:

I guess I will have to add that one to my "cruiser unfriendly" list. ;)

 

 

 

We then headed up to the Star Bar to meet our on-line CC Pals. The get together never really materialized so we decided to begin exploring the ship.
Ya know I think that happens a lot. People mean well when they plan those thing on the boards but then the excitment of boarding the ship and exploring just takes one to another world or there are things one has to attend to etc, and the next thing ya know it's time for dinner.

 

 

As we were seated the hostess noted our shorts and sneakers and asked that we dress more appropriately for dinner in the coming nights.
Hmmm... Probably an unnecessary comment since many cruisers do not get their luggage till late and have to dine in whatever they are wearing. Ours never showed up until 8 PM. However, giving her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she did not want you to be embarrassed :o if you thougt it was OK and decided to wear shorts the next day. Oh well...no biggy I guess.

 

 

A couple of comments: We were struck by the hawking of bottled water (an extra charge) after we were seated which was immediately followed by the waiter explaining that our free dinner package didn’t apply to the entire menu. Note to NCL: Charge more for the package and avoid the awkward moment of a waiter having to explain the limitations of this ‘free meal.’
I agree...or perhaps they can have a "deluxe" package that includes the higher priced items that way it's all settled before you go.

Great review BTW. !

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