I am a 20 year old female traveling with my parents (in their 40's), my sister (15), my brother (13), and my boyfriend (19). This was my first Norwegian cruise though I have sailed on Carnival 3 times and Celebrity once.
June 15, 2008 -- Day 1 I live in Philadelphia, PA, just two short hours from NYC so we had a limo pick us up at our house and drive us to the port. We didn't hit any traffic and got to the port at about 1:00.
Embarkation went very smoothly, and was perhaps the best embarkation of all the cruises I have been on thus far. However, it seemed that we moved along quickly because guests staying in balconies and mini-suites were ushered to the front, and onto the boat, while I saw a lot of other people sitting in chairs waiting for numbers to be called. Luckily, we were staying in a balcony so we were onto the boat quite quickly.
Our pictures were taken for our key cards and all those under the age of 21 had a corner of their card snipped off, so that they could not purchase alcohol. However, with parental permission guests under the age of 21 are able to purchase beer or wine after going to the front desk and getting a new card. My parents and I tried to do this, but were told that I would only be able to purchase wine or beer, whereas I was hoping to be able to get cocktails, etc. My parents and I decided to let it go, and whenever I wanted to order a drink, used their card. It wasn't a big deal.
We were greeted with free champagne or orange juice as we arrived on the boat, so that was a nice touch.
We went straight to lunch at the Venetian, as some other cruise reviewers had suggested. I would definitely recommend doing this as well, because there was no wait, as many people did not know the dining room was open. Most people headed straight to the buffet. The Venetian is huge with a great view of the ocean. It's a beautiful dining room with very nice murals on the wall. Our waiter Orville was great, and the food was excellent. We especially enjoyed the chilled banana soup and the American club sandwich.
After lunch, we purchased soda cards. I would definitely recommend buying a card if you are an avid soda drinker or prefer drinks other than iced tea and water because that's pretty much all that was on the boat for free. I was surprised that there was no lemonade as I had often seen on other cruises. One thing I will say about the soda cards though, is that the bartenders are not happy when they see that little sticker on your card because they do not make any money off of it, like they do when you purchase a drink.
We also made reservations at Cagney's Steakhouse for the following night with no problem.
Then we went to check out our staterooms. As I mentioned, we had a balcony. My sister, boyfriend and I shared one room that connected with my parents and my brother. The rooms were a bit smaller than we were used to from previously cruising with Carnival but they were big enough. My sister and I shared a bed which was actually two twin beds pushed together, and my boyfriend slept on a couch that pulled out into a bed. The couch was extremely hard and uncomfortable though, and my boyfriend mentioned that a few times throughout the trip. One complaint I have about the rooms was that there was not enough drawer space.
After checking out our rooms we decided to take a walk around the ship. There was a BBQ outside as we prepared to leave NYC. We were set to leave at 4:00 but left 2.5 hours late. We were told it was because we were, "waiting for necessary supplies" later which I found out was toilet paper.
While we were out walking we met the cruise director John Ibrahim, who was very friendly and went out of his way to say hello to my sister and I.
The boat finally left and we saw some very nice views of the Statue of Liberty.
Later that evening, we decided to try out the Blue Lagoon, whose wings got rave reviews on many of the sites I read before my trip, but I was not impressed by them. I did enjoy the chicken fingers though. One thing that confuses me about the blue lagoon is why it is a sit-down restaurant. I think it would do much better as a buffet, because the servers there were not very pleasant and often mixed up orders. As it is comfort food I think it would make sense to let people take as much or as little as they want, as the portions were kind of small.
We went to the Welcome Aboard show which featured a few of the different musicians and entertainers on the boat. We also listened to the comedy of Dave Heenan, who was pretty funny, although extremely loud.
We were hoping to get dinner after the show but were told that the dining rooms were closed. We were upset because it was only 10:15 and the Freestyle Daily told us that the dining rooms were open until "whenever."
June 16, 2008 -- Day 2 (Day at Sea) Because we did not get to the breakfast buffet before 10:00 AM there was only one line open and the line was very long. I didn't understand why there are 4 buffet lines with only one open. The food was okay.
It is extremely difficult to get chairs by the pool. My dad and brother woke up at 7:00 AM on a day at sea to try to get seats by the pool, or in the stadium seating area, and it was already filled! We always managed to find a few chairs on Deck 13 though. There was really no entertainment going on near the pool, which surprised me. Usually there are games and contests, and the pool is a center of activity. However, not on the Dawn.
I was also disappointed that there was no soft-serve ice cream machine like on Carnival. There is an ice cream place called Sprinkles with a server, but the ice cream is not soft-serve and is not open after 3:00 PM. Very odd.
I would recommend buying a souvenir cup for drinks because if you carry it around with you and use it whenever you buy a drink, you get $2 off your bill, which we definitely took advantage of. The Dawn didn't have as many drink options as some other cruises but I enjoyed the classic Margarita.
There is only one main pool and there are 4 hot tubs all of which are very nice.
One thing I love about cruises is the formal pictures. However, on the Dawn the layout is very strange. Instead of having a walkway for people to get through, the set for the picture takes up the whole area, and people either have to wait until you're finished taking a picture or walk through, which many rudely did.
The show was excellent tonight. We enjoyed Gleason Magic. He was truly incredible, though he tried very hard to sell his DVD's the entire cruise, which was a bit annoying.
Then we headed to Cagney's for dinner which was really nothing special and definitely not worth the extra charge. The service wasn't spectacular either. Attached to Cagney's is the Star Bar with an excellent pianist though.
After dinner, we found ourselves bored, and looked in the daily and saw that there really were no activities going on at night. I was disappointed.
June 17, 2008 -- Day 3 (Day at Sea) Today we just laid by the pool and relaxed.
We attended an afternoon memory seminar by the magician Greg Gleason who is also a memory expert. He was impressive, but once again used all his time trying to sell his DVD.
We went to dinner at Aqua, which is the other dining room. It is smaller than the Venetian and more intimate. I loved the sparkling lights on the ceiling.
We saw the show Band on the Run featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Co. which was FABULOUS. I absolutely loved the singers and dancers, and their shows were truly professional and amazing.
Later, we went and watched family karoke.
June 18, 2008 -- Day 4 (Bermuda) We woke up and we were in Bermuda, docked at Kings Wharf. I was upset to be docked there because it is extremely far from Hamilton (the main town) and St. Georges. It's about 20 minutes from Hamilton and 50 from St. George's. The weather was not great when we woke up, so we decided to go to both Hamilton and St. Georges. We purchased a 3-day bus pass for $28.00 for adults and $14.00 for kids. This is a great deal, and I would recommend it.
St. Georges was a bit boring, but we walked around and had a good time anyway.
We took the ferry back to Kings Wharf, where we learned Snorkel Park was just a 10 minute walk from our boat. It was a very nice beach, so we stayed there and relaxed as the sun had decided to come out.
We decided to go back to the boat and had dinner at the Venetian which was excellent.
Later, we went to see the show South Beach Rave featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Co. again which was great.
There was also a deck party held but not many people attended. We went and had some fun dancing.
Then we went to see the late night comedy of Dave Heenan which was okay. I was starting to get annoyed by his loudness and some of his jokes, but my boyfriend and dad thought he was hilarious.
June 19, 2008 -- Day 5 (Bermuda) We took the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach which is absolutely beautiful and a must-see in Bermuda. The one drawback is that the bus drops you off at the top of a humongous hill that you must walk down to get to the beach, but on the way back up there is a taxi service that is $1 per person to take you back up the hill. We took advantage of it, and it was a dollar well spent.
Horseshoe Bay Beach allows people to purchase chairs, umbrellas and food. It also has public bathrooms which was nice. It was very clean and well-maintained.
My parents complained that we were on transportation more than we were anywhere in Bermuda, but I didn't mind because every bus ride felt like a tour. The views from the window were gorgeous.
We then took the bus to Hamilton and did some shopping. I would recommend going to the store Spinnakers. We bought a ton of stuff there, and everything was pretty cheap.
That night we ate at Salsa which was absolutely amazing. The one strange thing was that it's located above the lobby of the ship so people would walk through in bathing suits, etc. It was very weird. The service was not good, but I have no complaints about the food, especially the fajitas. The dinner was extremely long due to poor service, and we had to skip dessert to make the show.
The show tonight featured Second City, an improv/comedy troupe. They included the audience a lot, and were very funny. The one thing that really made me angry at every show we went to was how rude people were. When the show was winding down or the performers left the stage but the Cruise Director came on to talk, so many people stood up and left and blocked the view of the people who actually wanted to hear what was going on.
We then went to the Liars Club, which featured John and Archie (CD and assistant CD) Greg Gleason, and Dave Heenan. It was funny though Dave the comedian tried to turn it into his own personal comedy show, which was annoying.
We wanted to go to the chocolate buffet but the line was pretty much the length of the ship, and I don't have the patience for that.
Then we watched Quest, which was also a funny game sort of thing.
June 20, 2008 -- Day 6 (Bermuda) Our last day in Bermuda. We took a bus to Elbow Beach, which was nice. It started to rain though and we needed to leave.
The boat left Bermuda and we got ready to go see the final Jean Ann Ryan Co. show. The show was called Bollywood and was SPECTACULAR. It was a mix of Indian music (which didn't originally appeal to me) and Cirque du Soleil and it was absolutely amazing.
Then we headed to dinner at the Venetian where we were told we would have a 45 minute wait, and after giving them our room number were seated in 5 minutes. Balcony and suites have priority on this boat, which was nice for us, but I can understand how it would upset others.
The boat was going extremely fast tonight, and it was the only night I could actually feel it.
We went to the White Hot party in the Spinnaker Lounge for a bit, which was fun.
June 21, 2008 -- Day 7 (Day at Sea) We hung out by the pool in the morning. It was difficult to get chairs again.
Then we went to the Sleight of Hand Close up Magic with Greg Gleason, where he showed how he did some of his card tricks. I got to be his assistant for a trick which was fun.
We went to TV show trivia which was very hard.
Later we had dinner at Aqua, which was just okay.
We went to the Farewell show and saw more magic and more comedy. They sort of seemed to use the same entertainers over and over again, with no variety.
June 22, 2008 -- Day 8 (Disembarkation) Disembarkation was a NIGHTMARE. The express walk-off people had not even gotten off the ship by the time the colors were supposed to be lining up. The line took up the whole length of the ship and I was very happy to be back on solid ground after 2 hours of waiting. To give NCL credit though, they pulled into a different port than the one we left from, and it was apparently smaller.
OVERALL I enjoyed the trip. There were some definite things I would change though. For instance, the whole concept of freestyle 2.0. I did not feel relaxed of "freestyle" at all. I spent more time planning my own schedule than following one, like I would do on a different cruise line. Not having a dining time made it difficult to plan ahead and to attend shows. Also I did not like the dress code, because it was very awkward to be all dressed up and sitting next to people who just came back from the pool. I personally enjoy dressing nice, and going to eat with other people who are dressed the same. It turned a fancy restaurant into a not fancy restaurant.
Overall, I would definitely cruise again, but NCL would not be my first choice. If anyone has further questions please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org