Preface It's been over a year since Diane and I returned from this cruise. I was going through my reviews and realized I never posted it. Some of the information may be irrelevant at this time but I hope readers will get something out of it and not think of me as an idiot.
Introduction Another September and another last minute cruise. Last year we cruised on the Carnival Legend. This year it was NCL Norwegian Dawn. I was feeling real disappointed that we had not cruised all year. We had planned a September cruise but had to cancel our plans in May. Events made it possible to cruise in September after all and being the 19th I couldn't get us on the ship we had planned for the 22nd but I was able to get us on the Norwegian Dawn for the 25th.
For those of you who have not read any of my reviews of previous cruisesâ?¦Diane absolutely hates to fly. After our November 2004 cruise she made me promise we would not fly for at least 2 years. We had taken the train from Boston to NYC last September and she loved it. This made it possible to book the Dawn out of New York.
Booking We have always used a local travel agency to book our cruises. I, being a cruise consultant wanna be, find the cruise, hotel, car rental, etc. then take to the agent to book it. I found this cruise at Vacations To Go and decided to try on-line booking. With only 6 days to the cruise, I was taking a chance but Lori Ortiz at Vacations To Go handled everything went extremely smooth despite the hurricane which resulted in the closing of the office in Houston. I look forward to booking with Lori again.
Itinerary The itinerary was less than impressive. Port Canaveral, Miami, Great Stirup Cay (NCL's private island) and Nassau. Diane and I do few excursions and prefer to laze around on the ship while others are off enjoying the various ports. We do get off the ship and walk around the local shops for an hour or so than return to the ship. More about this under Excursions.
Embarkation What a difference from last year when embarkation was an absolute disaster. NCL definitely has its act together. We walked into the terminal at 11:12 A.M., checked in our luggage and proceeded to the check-in desk. We were sitting with our coffee all checked-in by 11:30. They had chairs set up and coffee, tea sandwiches and sweets available. Boarding started about 45 minutes later. We were on board and in our cabin at 12:30.
Ship The Norwegian Dawn is a wonderful ship, very clean and well organized. Lots of restaurants and lounges, a library with plenty of reading material, a movie theater, and more. The pool is great and plenty of hot tubs. The tiered area for sunbathing was great leaving the chairs around the pool for swimmers.
Cabin Of course the only thing left was Category N - Deck 4, inside, front of the ship. Being past cruisers with NCL may have helped because we got upgraded to Category J - Deck 8, inside, middle of the ship. This was our first experience with an inside cabin so we went to sleep with the T.V. set to Bridge Cam station (Dark) and woke to Sunshine. It was our porthole window.
The room was larger than I expected and plenty of storage areas. There was a coffee maker which we liked as we are big coffee drinkers.
There is a refrigerator but no mini bar. We picked up a few extra cans of soda at one of the bars and stocked the frig.
Our steward kept our room clean and the ice bucket filled with fresh ice.
Dining There is a huge choose for dining. This was our first experience with freestyle dining. Diane loves it while I prefer traditional cruise style dining. Rather than 1 large Main Dining room there are 3 smaller venues which have no surcharges and require no reservations (Aqua, Impressions and Venetian). Also the Garden Café for buffet style dining and the Blue Lagoon for snacks and open 24 hours.
The food was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the Beef Wellington at Impressions.
Excursions Diane and I are not big on excursions as I mentioned earlier but on this cruise there really was little to do. One thing we like to do in Nassau is to visit a little bar named Iguana's. Unfortunately, for all intent and purposes EVERYTHING was closed. The exceptions were the shops in the terminal, a cheap souvenir shop and a bar. A native beer company was giving out free beer at the bar of which I took full advantage. This was after our traditional Bahama MaMa's which we couldn't have at Iquana's, of course.
The other port worth mentioning was Great Stirup Cay. This is NCL's private island and while it doesn't meet HAL's Half Moon Cay, it offers a nice day on the beach. There are two beaches. One of them is very rocky. I saw a couple of people with cuts on the feet from stubbed toes in the water. NCL puts on a nice spread of hamburgers, corn on the cob, fruit, etc.
Staff and crew Only good things to say about the staff and crew on the Dawn. The wait staff in each dining venue was wonderful. On ships with traditional sitting the wait staff gets to know the guests. They learn there likes and dislikes and close bonds are developed. Open sitting does not offer this opportunity but the wait staff compensates for this and I still felt I was being treated "special" by all of them.
There was one incident at the Chocolate Buffet which was held in the afternoon. An opportunity to take pictures prior to the eating was offered. As you probably know bathing suits and tank tops are not permitted in the dining room. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and was told "tank tops are not permitted in the dining room". After explaining that it was not a tank top but rather a sleeveless shirt, the woman said it didn't matter, I was not permitted in the dining room. I had bought 3 from L.L. Bean at $29 each just before the cruise. That night was formal night. We were dressed appropriately, I in a tuxedo and Diane in a gown and seated next to us was a gentleman in dungarees and a t-shirt. When I mentioned this the head waiter simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Go figure.
Entertainment The various lounges have wonderful entertainment but the Bollywood performance in the Stardust Theater was horrible. We had never walked out of an act but after 10 minutes we did. The performers where fine but the music?
Pictures I have to talk about the onboard photographers in every review. Some day I will find a photographer who can take a picture of a tall person (I'm 6'2") without cutting off my feet or head, because it hasn't happened on any of our cruises.
The 6 photographers are out every night taking the "formal" pictures. With all the complaints I read from people complaining about the picture taking, it's amazing how long the lines are every night to have pictures taken. Just an observation.
Conclusion Diane and I are committed cruisers. The itinerary was disappointing and the Bollywood entertainment was the worst I've seen. But everything else was wonderful and we look forward to again cruising on the Norwegian Dawn again in April 2007.