My wife and I just returned from the 9/1/07 Labor Day weekend "Cruise to No Where" from NYC and had a very positive experience. We booked this short getaway cruise to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary without our kids (ages 7 and 9). This was our 7th cruise (2nd with NCL, 2 w/Princess, 3 w/Carnival) and our first cruise to Nowhere. You can bet that it won't be our last. We had read all the reader reviews about the Dawn, but found the one written by Cruise Critic's editor, Carolyn Spencer Brown (7/03/2007) "My Cruise to Nowhere on Norwegian Spirit" to be the most helpful in preparing for this one-night experience.
The weather was a beautiful 80 degrees, partly cloudy, summer sunny afternoon. We arrived at the port at 12:00 p.m., parked our car on the pier rooftop parking lot ($25.00) and were on the ship by 12:30 p.m. The embarkation process was orderly and organized. Once on board, we headed to Salsa, one of the ship's restaurants, to review the menus of all the other restaurants and to make our dinner reservations. Based on all of the positive reviews that we had read, we booked a 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation in Le Bistro (extra fee of $15 per person). Since NCL does not allow passengers to go to their staterooms until 2:00 p.m., we lugged our overnight bag down to the Venetian for a very lovely sit-down lunch experience. The Venetian is one of the ship's main dining rooms that was actually open for lunch -- very unusual compared to any of our other cruise experiences where only a "buffet" lunch is served. A lovely female waiter team (Romanian and Yugoslavian) provided us with a very cheerful and pleasant experience. After our delicious lunch, we checked out the two other dining choices and concluded that we had made the right choice for lunch.
At 2:00 p.m. we went to our balcony room (#10026) to quickly unpack and change into our bathing suits. The beautifully decorated cabin was much smaller than what we had experienced on Carnival and Princess; the storage space was adequate, but not generous. The bathroom was very unique in that it was a three-part design -- the shower and toilet areas are equipped with sliding glass privacy doors to allow multiple users at one time. There was also a mini-fridge that was empty, so we filled it with our bottle of white wine that we had packed in our overnight bag. We spent a lot of time on our balcony and highly recommend same for the one-night experience.
We then went upstairs to the open pool deck area and easily found two lounge chairs, where we placed our towels and nickknacks. Since the "pool party" did not appear to be in full swing yet, we decided to take a self guided tour of the ship's public areas and to get to know our way around the ship. We tried the "one scoop" ice cream cone at Sprinkles, but greatly missed the self serve soft ice cream and frozen yogurt machines that are typically found on Carnival ships. After the 3:30 p.m. life jacket drill, we returned to the Lido Deck for the Deck Party send-off. At 4:00 p.m., an elaborate outdoor poolside BBQ (pork ribs, hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken) and a live Asian party band were in full swing. We picked at the delicious ribs and grilled chicken and drank our frozen Pina Coladas. When the ship finally left the pier at 4:45 p.m., we headed to the Jacuzzi tub located in the front of the ship. Here we had a beautiful view of Manhattan, New Jersey, Statue of Liberty and Verazanno Bridge. As we approached the tip of Manhattan, we left the Jacuzzi and went to our port side room, which is on the right side of the ship facing New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty. There we sat on our balcony and admired the Statue of Liberty, passing boats, Staten Island Ferry and Verazanno Bridge.Already 6:00 p.m., we headed down to Le Bistro for dinner. We were seated between the Renoir (valued at $30 million) and Monet paintings, which were both situated behind bullet proof glass. The low lighting, candle light (battery operated), soft background music and small size created an intimate, romantic atmosphere. To our surprise and luck, the female waiter team that had served us at lunch, were also assigned to our table at Le Bistro. We each ordered a glass of wine and found the four-course French service dinner to be outstanding and the food heavenly! The lobster martini, escargot, French onion soup, large salmon filet and chocolate mouse all were fantastic. Pay the extra $15 a head; you won't be sorry you did!
We were not at all impressed with the 8:30 p.m. show "Band on the Run," but sat through the same anyway. Then we went to Spinnakers and danced to the music provided by that great Asian band. At 10:30 p.m., after the band stopped playing, we participated in a very hilarious, adult only, audience participation game show called "Quest." It was raucous, R-rated entertainment that kept you laughing until midnight. During the show, the MC also entertained us with his outstanding juggling talents.
Still awake, we headed to the casino to play some video poker. I was very surprised that the minimum table was $10.00. Additionally, an elaborate hot "buffet" was set up in the middle of the casino for all to enjoy -- very unusual compared to any of our other cruise experiences where only drinks (not food) are served. This tactic was obviously done to keep the gamblers in the casino for extended periods. After playing for 45 minutes (losing only $10.00 at video poker), the smoke was getting to us, so we decided to head back to the room to spend some time on our balcony, where we heard the waves crashing against the ship and admired the clear sky, stars and moonlit ocean. What a wonderful way to end the night.
Between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. we sat on our balcony and watched the sunrise and our slow approach under the Verazanno Bridge. There were no clouds in the sky and the weather was perfect. At 7:30 a.m., we went down to the Venetian for a very lovely sit-down breakfast experience. We were seated at a table that was situated closest to the rear windows of the dining room (facing the Verazanno Bridge and Manhattan skyline). The view was incredibly awesome and a wonderful way to end our wedding anniversary celebration. At 9:00 a.m. they announced that passengers on our deck should begin to disembark the ship. We did not experience any lines and just walked off the ship.
We would definitely recommend the NCL Dawn, and especially her one-night "Cruise to Nowhere" for a quick, reasonably priced (base ticket -- $336 per couple) romantic getaway without the kids.