I wanted to post a few notes about my experience on the NCL Dawn out of NYC to Bermuda. My partner and I have been on about a dozen cruises each and have always Chosen Royal Caribbean with the exception of two Carnival cruises and the most recent trip on NCL. Leaving from NYC was amazing as we live in Tribeca and were only a 10 min cab ride away from the pier, something we had never experienced before always having left from Florida or Puerto Rico.
I must admit that I thought the Dawn was a little cheesy looking at first sight with the brightly colored painted hull. Upon arriving we were greeted on the ship with a glass of champagne which I thought was a nice touch. The only problem is I later found out they serve free drinks when you arrive so that you wont care how worn out and tired your stateroom is. We had a balcony stateroom on Deck 10. The carpet was worn out and stained and the front of one of the 3 drawers provided litteraly came off in my hands when I went to open it. the bathroom was divided into 3 compartments, the shower (obviously) the sink was in the middle and the toilet was in its own smaller room (if that can be imagined) the extra wall put up could have been used to provide more shelf space since there was one tiny shelf above the sink and not enough space (esp for a gay man with alot of skin care products, lol) joking aside it made an already small space seem even more cramped.
We were traveling with friends of ours and one of the couples were put in a room that smelled so strongly of smoke that it was not inhaitable at all. We found out upon speaking with the hotel director that ALL of the staterooms on the ship are smoking optional!! We were extremely disapointed about that to say the least. Smoking up on deck is one thing but in a cramped space like a cruise ship cabin just seems stupid to me. They were moved to another room but it seemed to be in the same condition as ours.
I am not sure what I was expecting in regards to Freestyle cruising but it was not what I had hoped it would be. They make it sound like there are going to be plenty of options for dining but not so much. The only two dining options that did not cost more money served the SAME food every night. The buffet food at the cafe was also the same every day and aside from breakfast where they actually served breakfast foods lunch and dinner were a strange mix of foods that didnt include anything to make a sandwich and the dinner foods were oily at best. The staff maintaining the cafe were slow at best and you had to pretty much beg for clean silverware and napkins.
The staff that is in charge of taking photos and running the photo gallery were rude and challenged us several times when we declined to purchase the overly priced prints wanting to know why we didnt want them!!! I feel bad complaining but we have never been so disapointed by the overal service and condition on board a cruise ship. All of this and price wise, was not that big of a difference from Royal Caribbean where we have always been impressed by the service and condition of the ships and staterooms.
We did have fun overal but I think that it was mostly due to the company of my friends. We were pretty much all on the same page as far as the service goes and I was sorry that my friend Jill took her first cruise and didnt get to experience how good it CAN be when things are done right.
Next time we will def be back on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity