CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Dawn Bahamas September 28, 2003

My boyfriend and I did the NCL bus ($50 p.p. roundtrip) from Baltimore to NYC. Easy, on time, nice motorcoach with restroom - plus it's $27 per night ($189 for the week)to park at the port in NYC. Embarkation was slow through security - long lines - but once to check in things went smoothly.

The ship is gorgeous inside! We had a balcony category BB cabin on Deck 9 aft (note that for best views throughout the cruise, get a cabin on the port side of the ship). The cabin was spacious - little refrigerator, TV, phone with voice mail, shower gel and shampoo, full size blow dryer, etc. Note that NCL does not provide robes (so I "borrowed" one from the spa for the week). Our cabin stewards were quiet and did a good job.

We ate at most of the specialty restaurants. Our favorite was Bamboo - both the sushi bar (try the spicy tuna roll) as well as the Teppanaki (Japanese Steak House). LeBistro was also wonderful and you dine with the Masters - original paintings by Renoir, Monet, Matisse, and Van Gogh - on loan from the Malaysian gentlemen who owns Star Cruises which is the parent company of NCL. We also ate in Venetian, Impressions, Aqua, and Cagney's Steakhouse - all were very good and we especially enjoyed the table side service in Cagney's.

Overall the dining was very good. Note we did not eat at the 24 hour diner. Room service was also good - our orders were always correct and it never took more than 15 minutes to receive our order. Freestyle is nice! We did dress for the formal nights - about 50% were dressed and alot of other weren't - your choice - we enjoy wearing our black tie garb - where else do you get to go black tie?? I also had my hair done in the salon by Tina - she did a great job and was a lovely girl.

Ports were good. We opted to stay on the ship in Port Canaveral and had a spa day. We purchased the Deluxe Romance Package in advance of the cruise - just $330 per couple for a whole list of items which would have cost $150 more if purchased separately (see your NCL brochure for details). The spa is wonderful!! Always quiet, no children, clean, and the services (massages/wraps) were excellent. The spa manager is from Ireland and she was wonderful - very friendly and helpful.

Great Stirrup Cay was nice - good beach day - the beach is actually small (this "island" is much smaller than RCCL's Labadee) so we really didn't have alot of choice other than to pack ourselves in like sardines. But, you can rent rafts, snorkel equipment, etc and we spent the day with new found friends (total of 8 of us) and had a great time.

Nassau is Nassau. We ended up heading to Sandals to check out the resort but did stop through the Straw Market. Nassau has a new cruise building that you have to walk through to enter/leave the pier - it's nice and a little easier than the metal barriers from the past.

We stayed on the ship in Miami (hangovers from the 70 and 80's Deck party the night before) but we have been to Miami several times so wasn't a big deal. We talked with folks that did the aquarium and really enjoyed it - the Miami aquarium is much smaller than Seaworld and you can get up close to teh animals. They also have a wonderful manatee rescue program that educates folks on the habitat and boater safety.

The onboard entertainment was superb!! I have been on 15 plus cruises over the last 6 years and by far NCL was the best! They have a contract (unlike other cruise lines) with the Jean Ann Ryan Company which provides wonderful entertainment - the South Beach and Bollywood shows were both wonderful. NCL is also the only cruise line with use of Andrew Lloyd Webber' music - great show and the couple that sang Phantom of the Opera were awesome - we were on our feet screaming when the singer did the opera portion at the end - she was superb! The deck parties were great too - we met alot of great people and had a very good time. The cruise director, Rich Clesen, was also good but he told us he was leaving for another ship.

Another highlight of the cruise was the piano music in Gatsbys outside of the Impressions Restaurant. A performer, Pamela Stanley, sang and played the piano - she was incredible!! We went every evening and if she's onboard when you cruise - ask her to play Popsicle Toes - great song. We also purchased her CD she was that good! Lovely lady with lots of talent!

We particularly enjoyed the disembarkation process -with the Freestyle Cruising you can stay in your cabin until your color code is called. We got up, finished packing, went for a leisurely breakfast, then just waited in our cabin (watched a movie) until we were called about 11:00 a.m. (we were late off since we were on an NCL bus and didn't need to catch a flight, etc.). Bus ride back to Baltimore and we were home at 3:30 without the hassles of driving to or from NYC (or the parking costs!).

Word to the wise - don't have your film developed onboard - one roll of 35 mm double prints costs $20! Unlike Carnival where film developing is just $9 (and saves you the trip to WalMart when you get home) but $20 was just too much.

Also, bottled water is $3 so we take a couple of empty bottles and fill them in the spa/gym from the filtered water fountains - saves alot of money throughout the week.

We had nothing to complain about except the long line at security to board the ship. It was an excellent cruise and NCL has really cornered the market with Freestyle Cruising. We enjoyed this cruise immensely and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it!

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