This was our third cruise in three years. First being Celebrity Infinity, November 2001, Carnival Imagination, August 2002 (with three young adults in tow) and now the Norwegian Dawn November 2003. We went with friends that were also celebrating a 27th wedding anniversary.
Getting to the pier was great from Connecticut. We certainly enjoyed not having to deal with an airline and hoping there would be no problems. We had received a phone call that the ship was boarding at 12 and leaving at 4. That was not the truth. We arrived at the pier at 11:30 to find that we were herded to a staging area. The best place to be is the upper seating area - they let those people aboard first. We did not start boarding until 1:30. The process was quick and before we knew it we were at our cabin with balony. It was a great room though smaller than the Infinity cabin with balcony. Our friends were in the next cabin and the cabin steward was able to open the door inbetween the two balconies so we had a much larger space to enjoy the view.
We quickly unpacked and went to find the buffet lunch in the Garden Cafe. Food was good after not eating since breakfast. The ship finally left at 5 and we braved the cold to see the Statue of Liberty. We tried the Impressions Dining Room and found it very intimate and attractive. The show was the typical ship show and was very entertaining.
by Monday afternoon it was warm enough to wear shorts outside. We explored the ship and decided that we would try some of the cover charge restaurants.
Our idea of a cruise vacation is to relax! Well we tried but there was always something we wanted to do! My husband got lucky in the casino the first night and walked out a winner. I must say that I found the slots paid out much better than the other cruise ships. My only complaint is how many people smoke. The casino was the only spot I found that there was not one area that was smoke free. Even if you stayed 5 minutes your clothes came out reeking of the fumes.
Our day at Port Canaveral we spent at the Kennedy Space Center. I thought 7 hours was going to be long enough - not! We still missed several of the major exhibits in the front of the center due to all the imax stuff and presentations we went to.
Next day we did the Everglades Boat Ride. Great seeing alligators right next to you looking hungry!
The Dawn is a beautiful ship - our cabin was always cleaned up and we certainly loved seeing what towel animal we would walk in to see in the evening. Our cabin had been decorated for my birthday by my kids our 2nd day out. A delicious cake was provided from the kitchen.
Our destinations got changed the next day - we went to Nassau instead of the private island. We took a taxi to the Atlantis. My advice - do not do the aquarium tour unless you want to hear a sales pitch on the hotel. Go to the lower floor and see the fish tanks yourself and save yourself $25.00. My husband opted out of the tour and stayed in the great casino that they had there. He saw a fellow cruise passenger win $4,000. Took a walk to Cabbage Beach but did not stay because we knew we had a beach day the next day. We ate at Le Bistro that evening - great service and food. It was certainly worth the $12.50.
Well, so much for the beach the next day - the winds were so bad they could not get the tenders to the island. We ended up with another day at sea. Once the announcment was made I went and claimed a lounge chair for the day. I must say that even on the days at sea on the Imagination there were enough chairs. It did not appear that way on the Dawn. That night was the lobster night - we ate in the Venetian Room where we had been going for breakfast most days. The seas were rough that day and once I got a whiff of the lobster I could not even stomach my grilled chicken. I was the only non fish eater of the group. That is one thing we thought - they offer alot of fish on the menu for dinner. The freestyle dining is nice but I really do like meeting people from around the country/world.
Another thing we noticed is the way that rules are broken on the ship. If it says "no children in the first three rows of the theater" what do we see? Children in those rows and no one correcting the situation. If it says "18 years old to participate in games" what do we see? 10 year olds playing the games. No consistency. I have yet to figure out how parents get their children out of school for these vacations. Another thing is the people walking around the ship with lite cigarettes - even after many notices in the newspaper every morning I always saw someone not obeying the request. Also, who would bring a newborn/toddler? I know they offer the kids clubs but I would be a nervous wreck with a toddler running around the decks.
Saturday was another day at sea and we enjoyed the outdoors as much as we could. You could tell we were going north - by later afternoon it was very brisk outside. Our last night on board and we ate at Salsas - it was fantastic and no cover charge! As far as I was concerned the meal was the best I had all week. The portions were ample and probably should have been split. My husband is still talking about the fajitas. A nice restaurant with impeccable service. It was great having the music group play in the lobby during our dinner.
Our dembarkation wasn't as bad as previous cruises since we got to stay in the cabins and wait for the announcements. What annoys us is the non US citizens that know they have to go the upper lounge to visit Customs/Immigration. They know what they have to do but procrastinate. Also the folks that don't clear up their ship accounts. That is what adds additional time to getting off the ship.
I would certainly do the Dawn again but perhaps a longer trip to get to a much warmer climate. The advantage of leaving out of NYC is fantastic. All in all I would recommend this ship to anyone and can't wait to start planning our next trip aboard a ship!