We just returned from our 8th cruise, the first on Norwegian Cruise Lines. I wanted to try the Freestyle Cruising, and I must admit, it was very enjoyable. Eating what you want when you want and not having to dress up, a very relaxing cruise. The Norwegian Dawn is a beautiful ship, however it is at times hard to navigate, very poorly designed.
The embarkation process is a nightmare, Norwegian needs to take some lessons from Celebrity or RCC. You get off the bus and go stand in a line, after you get to a window and give all your documentation, you go into another room, where you are asked to take a seat until they are ready for you. When they are ready you get into another line to pick up your key, then they usher you to another line to the photographer. We bypassed that line, how many pictures can you use. Once inside we thought we were being led to our room, instead our guide dropped us off at the elevator, what she did not tell us, was that we had to go up the stairs to another floor, walk halfway down the ship, come back down the stairs and find our room.
The rooms were adequate, nothing special, small in comparison to other lines, nice bathroom, however nowhere to put anything away, just the shelves above the sink. Stall shower was roomy enough. The rooms were lacking in drawer space, we had three drawers.
The food on the ship was good, not great, the service was very good and the quality of the drinks were good.
The shows were good, the Juggler Comedian was great!!! He was the highlight of the entertainment. They did a tribute to Andrew Lloyd Weber, which was outstanding. They also do the usual game shows, which we thought were not of the quality of other lines, in fact we stopped going to see them.
The casino was fine, I admit to winning my share.
The ship seems to have a knack for trying to suck every dime out of your pocket, i.e. Bingo was overpriced, they try and talk you into using these electronic games, where you can play twice a many games with the touch of a button. The cost is $59.00. One the last day you can choose from the $ 59.00 machine, or if you are very brave, you can try one for $ 119.00 or $ 159.00, a little steep for me I'll stick to the paper cards. The last day of the bingo when no one hit the jackpot, it was only up to $ 1,400.00. One other lines I have seen the game go as high as $ 6,000.00. I wonder what Norwegian does with the extra money.
I did have a small problem on the ship, and whoever I approached did not seem to want to put me in touch with a manager. Finally I went to the casino, and spoke to that manager although this is not where the problem originated. He took my complaint to the proper person and I was satisfied with the result.
We only did one excursion in Costa Maya, a snorkeling trip which was absolutely not worth the money. It was a trip that said you could snorkel from the beach, so you get the idea that you may be able to lay on the beach. Trouble is there are four beach chairs, and they have brought about 40 people to this beach.
All in all I would say that we had a very enjoyable trip, Norwegian Cruise line lacks the polish that other cruise lines have mastered.
However, for the most part it was a good cruise, nice ship, just bring plenty of money.
I did see some complaints in other reviews regarding the tips that are automatically placed on your bill, I had no complaints about the service that I received, so the automatic tipping worked well for us.
Debarkation was a little different. Most of the other lines deliver your baggage tags to your room, on the Dawn you have to go pick them up youself. We waited a little longer to get off the ship then on other ships but you were not rushed in any way to get out of your cabin. They kept making annoucements that it was taking so long because of the added security and that customs was checking your bags, etc. But we saw no evidence of that when we left the ship. If you have a cruise booked on this ship, I am sure you will have a good time. If it is your first cruise, keep in mind that other cruise lines do things a little differently, so this ship is not indicative of what to expect from all cruise lines. Happy Cruising!!!!!!!