We just returned from a 7 day Bahamas cruise on the Norwegian Dawn. First let me give you a little history on the ships I have sailed in the past 3 years. Last year we sailed on Celebrity Summit. A year prior to that we sailed on RCI Splendor of the seas. I have sailed other ships but they were smaller and so I will not compare this ship to those smaller ones.
EMBARKATION: We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 and on the Dawn a little after 1:00. We breezed thought the lines and the staff was very friendly and efficient at check in. We were a family of 7 staying in 3 staterooms. One inside deck 10, one Mini suite on deck 11 and the opal penthouse on deck 11. I was a bit worried that we would have a hard time staying together during embarking especially considering we were traveling with ages from 4 to 91. To my delight it went very smoothly. We all had are luggage by 5 pm which was the earliest I have ever gotten our luggage.
STATEROOMS: My mother in-law had an inside cabin # 10585 the cabin was very clean. Having sailed with inside cabins on the Summit and Splendor, we found the Dawns inside to be a little tighter. However the bathroom with the separate shower made up for the size of the cabin. Our 2 kids stayed in this cabin with my mother in-law and she remarked how it was nice that 1 could be in the shower, 1 using the toilet and she could use the sink to get ready. One other complaint was she heard noises from above which was a crew only area. It wasn’t horrible but certainly noticeable. Wife and I had the mini suite cabin # 11100. It was certainly a nice cabin. Again the cabin was small compared to the balconies on Summit and Splendor. Having the tub and toilet and sink separated was enjoyable for the wife and me as well. The sofa bed is not what I had expected. It wasn’t like the kind of sofa beds that we have at home that folds out to reveal the mattress. Instead of removing cushions, you simply pulled it out and the back of the sofa became the other half of the bed. I will warn you that it is a pretty firm bed. It was fine for our girls when they stayed with us but as an adult I could not do 7 days on it. Our bed, 2 twins put together, was very comfortable. Best I have slept in on any ship! We had plenty of pillows and blankets. Another small complaint one of our blankets had 2 cigarette burns on it. A little unsettling. The balcony had to chairs that also reclined but not to a full lounger. We enjoyed the balcony immensely. My mother and grand mother had a penthouse. Cabin # 11530 the opal suite. It was really nice. Having never sailed in a real suite we have nothing to compare it to. I enjoyed the whirlpool tub that overlooked the ocean with a plasma TV. The separate shower had 4 shower heads that could blow every hair off your body. It was awesome. The toilet was kind of cramped considering the size of the cabin. The bathroom also had 2 large sinks and even a digital scale. The master cabin was very nice with a 25” TV with DVD. A privacy curtain to partition it off from the bathroom. In the main sitting room we had another 25” TV with DVD. 2 nice arm chairs with a nice oval coffee table and a small love seat. In the corner was a table with 4 chairs. Plenty of glasses were supplied in cabinets in the wall. Between the sleeping quarters and the sitting room was pocket doors with frosted glass. In the back was the 2nd bedroom with no windows with a fold down bed and a pull out couch. It had a small 15” TV and a phone. It had its own bathroom. For a family it would be great. However for my 65 year old mother it was extremely uncomfortable to sleep on the pull out sofa in the back room. By the third night I decided to call Lani her butler and asked her to bring up a mattress cover to make it more comfortable. She did and it made it better but still nothing like the regular beds on the ship. The balcony was nice with a small white table and 2 teak lounge chairs with a nice blue padding. 2 small complaints, 1 the love seat was a little uncomfortable and I think they should have a sink in the bar area of the sitting room. All cabins had a small fridge which was nice to bring snacks down for latter.
STAFF: I must admit this was a big concern of mine. I had read many bad reviews about the staff. In the 7 days on board I don’t think I passed any staff with out getting a big smile and a good morning or what have you. The staff was as good as RCI and better then Celebrity and Princess. They were always ready to accommodate any request. Our cabin stewards were great. The staff in all the restaurants that we ate in were also very nice. The cruise director Rick was awesome even though we know he does the same shtick every week he made you feel as though it was his first. A truly fun cruise director. Far superior to the cruise director on the Summit who acted as though he was at work and did not like his job. Every staff member made a point to give special attention to our kids. The kids crew staff was better then the Summit. I thought maybe RCI was tad better in the kid’s area but then again our cruise on the Dawn had over 400 kids so they had their hands full. Again they did a great job. I had read reviews that mentioned people were not happy with Amanda the concierge for the penthouses. She never introduced herself or even made an effort to make you feel comfortable. Not a big deal but more of a waste for the cruise line.
RESTURAUNTS: I had no interests in all the restaurants. Again heard quite a few bad reports and I had always enjoyed eating in the main restaurants with the same waiter at the same time. What was I thinking? I will have a hard time going back to another cruise line where I have to go through the “cattle call” line into the dinning room. We enjoyed eating where and when we wanted to. And also wearing what we wanted to. What a great concept. The food varied from very good to awesome. LA BISTRO was really nice. It was neat eating next to 48 million dollars worth of art. Never ate a meal while looking at an original Van Gogh. Favorite food here was the escargot. Very intimate place to have dinner. There is a service charge to eat here. Well worth it. CAGNEYS steak house was also awesome. Enjoyed it so much went back a second time. Favorite was crab cakes for appetizer porter steak and Banana flambé. The surf and turf was also good but the size of the lobster was a small tail and a claw. BAMBOO sushi bar was good. The selection of sushi for all you can eat was limited but I enjoyed it. Probably my least favorite meal. $10.00 service charge. Teppenyaki was a lot of fun. It’s kind of like Benyhanna where they cook on your table and put a little show on. The kids liked it as well as the food. The soup was so so but I loved the sea scallops. Ate here twice. Service was great here we were even serenaded by a waitress. She sang “I only have eyes for you” it was neat. Also a service charge. SALSA awesome!! Loved the fajitas and onion blossom. Service again quick and enjoyable. This restaurants has the best views from the windows. VENETIAN was good. We ate there for the captains farewell dinner. The oysters were really good but the lobster tail was Very small. Smallest I have ever seen so I just ordered a few extra with no problems. A little line to get in but nothing like I am use to on other ships going into the main dinning room. No charge GARDEN CAFÉ was good to very good. Ate breakfast here once and most lunches. I thought it was as good as Celebrity Summits buffet and better then RCI’s buffet. The kids had fun serving themselves at the miniature kids buffet. No charge. NY DELI which was in the back of the CAFÉ was very good. Enjoyed having BLT’s which I must say they (NCL) has the best bacon around. No charge POOL SIDE BBQ ribs and burgers by the pool for lunch was also fun and good. No charge. BLUE LAGOON was a good place to get a snack like chips chicken wings and French fries with cheese and bacon. No charge. ROOM SERVICE most mornings I had breakfast in my mom’s penthouse and got eggs benedict. Very good always arrived warm not cold. The butler would ring us to let us know she was on her way with our food. She would set the table for us with a table cloth and silver ware. I will certainly miss my eggs benedict. No charge. Restaurants I did not get to try: AQUA, IMPRESSIONS, LA TRATTORIA. So many choices and so little time.
BARS AND LOUNGES: My drink of choice is 7&7 and my mom Gin and tonic. They were the strongest then any other ship. I felt that I got my moneys worth. The pina coladas and other frozen drink specials were average probably could use a little more liquor. When we did have one of the frozen drink specials I would just order an extra shot. STAR BAR was good and small nice view of the pool area. The sound here made it a little hard to have a conversation when it got crowded. A good Place for a martini. TOPSIDERS BAR by the pool was good. I liked the fact that it had a long bar so it was always easy to walk up and get a drink. On the summit I always had to wait to get a spot close enough to the bar to order. SPINAKER LOUNGE was a nice place to have a drink. I liked going to the front corner where it over hung the ship so you could see the side of the ship as it sailed through the water. You can really get a feel of how big the Dawn is. This corner over hang is directly above where the captain is when he is docking her. A really nice view. The art decoish chairs in this lounge were fun too. You must lay on the big red couch as you first enter the lounge on the right. Very comfortable and nice to snuggle with your loved one. SALSA BAR was a nice place to have a drink before you eat at salsa’s. THE PEARLY KINGS PUB was nice. Some days they had fish and chips here. The chairs were a little uncomfortable for some one my size 6’1”. The back of the chair hit my back in an uncomfortable spot. JAVA CAFÉ was a good spot to people watch. It’s located in the atrium. They made a very good Irish Coffee. Strong! You have to try the raspberry tart! Awesome. DAZZLES LOUNGE was a nice place. Nothing special but nice. This is where the art auction was held. Free champagne. At night they had a guitarist that was enjoyable to listen to. GATSBYS CHAMPAGNE lounge located outside of La Bistro was nice too. They would have a piano player at night. Through out the cruise you could always find a place with an entertainer almost to fault. We found it a little hard to find a quite bar to have a conversation. The other problem with the bars and lounges is that there wasn’t a bar that had windows that looked directly out to the water. They were either in side with no windows or you had to look out a window over some decking and through the railings. On RCI I enjoyed the views you could get from their signature Viking crown lounges. This would not hinder me from booking with NCL but worth mentioning. I guess the lack of views is something you give up for having so many outside cabins which keeps the price down for those cabins.
PUBLIC AREAS: Deck space was abundant if you ventured towards the front on the upper deck they have a nice Jacuzzi all they way forward that was a good place to get away. OASIS POOL was a good place to hang if you didn’t have kids. There are 4 Jacuzzis here and 2 pools. I wasn’t crazy about the stadium style seating but it grew on me. It gives more room for lounge chairs and so I think it was a bit easier then other ships to find a space to lay out. T-REX CENTER was average. The kid’s ball pit looked fun. The kids loved it. T-REX POOL was a real plus. We could be with our kids and not bother others who were not traveling with kids. 2 water slides a pool and a Jacuzzi. Being at the back of the ship it seemed a bit less windy then the main pool during sea days. The Dawn had the hottest Jacuzzi’s of any ship I have been on. Usually, on other ships I felt that they could be hotter. Not on the Dawn. They also allowed you to have a drink in the Jacuzzi which was nice. Another plus.. Pools were open late! On RCI and Celebrity they closed at 6. ELDORADO SPA FITTNESS CENTER. I was pleasantly surprised with this area. It has 2 Jacuzzi’s and a heated lap pool. I still prefer the inside pools on Celebrity and RCI. The Dawn did have a nice sauna and steam room. STARDUST THEATER is well laid out. The balcony seats were a great place to watch the shows. You get a nice unobstructed view of the stage. Chairs were comfortable. CINEMMA was nice and comfortable too. They have 3 showings a day. VIDEO ZONE had lots of video games and you could use cash which was nicer then Summit where the kids use the room card and charged $30.00 worth of games! LIBRARY had some good books. Nice seating and very quite. SHUFFLES CARD ROOM had the regular games. Nice views of the ocean from in here. INTERNET CAFÉ had plenty of computers however I chose to stay away from my email and internet addiction. GALLERIA SHOPS is more like a little department store rather then a cluster of small shops. I kind of prefer this way because wife and I and kids all did our shopping and only had to sign for our purchases once instead of going in and out of different shops. DAWN CLUB CASINO was spacious more so then other ships. Wife tossed $20.00 away in about 2.5 minutes. THE PROMEANDE DECK was by far better then my past cruises. It rapped all the way around the ship. Nice place to sit and walk. Pretty cool looking off the back as we were steaming our way back to NY. What a wake!
ENTERAINMENT: I am not one for shows on a ship. They all have the same cheesy feel. However Bollywood was great. It is nothing like anything I have seen on any cruise ship. It isn’t Vegas but for a ship WOW!
NEGATIVES: The programming on the stateroom TV a bit weak. They did have CNN so at least I could keep up on the daily events. My main complaint which I heard over and over again from fellow passengers is the ship lay out. At time you would end up at a dead end. I think the design is the best they could do with out having to loose a few restaurants or bars. So I will take the poor lay out before I would give up all the dining choices.
POSSIITVES: The food, service, drinks, dinning options, sailing out of NY and all the other things that I have mentioned through out this review.
SIDE NOTE: I think the space that the Garden Villa takes up would be better served as a lounge/bar. I was told that they sail frequently empty. Maybe they should have a 20-50 dollar raffle on the first day and if you win you get free use of the villa.
I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise on the Dawn and I look forward to sailing her again. So much I wanted to do but didn’t have time. This is the first ship where I got off and would consider doing again. After a week on other ships you have the feeling of “seen and done that”. Not on the Dawn. So maybe come Feb 05 I will return to this ship and line
This is by far one of the best and most thorough reviews I have read to date on the Dawn. Thank you there is some great information here. We leave on March 28 and can not wait. We are traveling with 6 friends. We have outside cabins. Two on the 9th floor and 2 on the 10th. Is it easy with the dead ends to get back and forth between decks?
Thank you for your detailed honest information. My family and I are cruising for the first time and it is enlightening to finally read a critique that is honest w/specific information to back what had been said (instead of flying off the deep end w/negativity as I've have read on some reviews).
I really feel confident now realizing that mishaps will take place anywhere you go, it is in ones' attitude that will govern the outcome of any vacation wether perfect or not. I am so looking forward to spending quality time w/my family having not to answer to the mundane tasks of everyday life, that to me is a blessing from God itself. So if He decides to give us perfect weather, no traffic, courteous service people, etc, we will be be that much more blessed!
Thanks and glad to hear that your trip was memorable!
A bit more of my cruise history. Including the Dawn I have taken 6 cruises. All my other cruises were to the Caribbean. They were all 10 day except for my last cruise.
PORTS: PORT CANAVERAL After 5 cruises that were port intensive and have always spent port days off the ship we decided to spend the day on the Dawn. It was great. Most of the families went to Disney so the ship was pretty empty. I never thought I would be one for staying aboard during port days but the Dawn made it very enjoyable. I highly recommend taking this day to stay on the Dawn unless you want to do Disney or NASA. MIAMAI: I wanted to stay on the Dawn but a former employee of mine lives in Miami and we wanted to get together so we met at South Beach. I am glad that I want and saw S.B. I will probably not go back. The restaurants and bars seemed dirty but then again I just got off a beautiful clean new ship. The beach is nice. Just a little warning some people here go topless!
GREAT STIRRUP CAY Again, I wanted to stay on the Dawn but I felt an obligation to take the kids to the beach and so we boarded the tender to take us ashore. I have never been on a tender that actually beaches it self to let you off onto the beach. The straw market was a little high. I would advise that you save your shopping $$ for Nassau. They have a big bathroom on the island. The band played. The BBQ was good. Nothing special. The beach was a little small. It got crowded but it was bearable. They have plenty of bar service where you use your room card to purchase. The straw market here you have to use cash. There is a nice light house to see and a few nature trails to explore. There is also a jetty that you are allowed to walk out on. They do have personnel stationed out there for safety. Snorkeling was pretty good for my 9 year old. Not sure how good it would be for an adult since I did not try. Be careful that there are a lot of small rocks in the water and also it gets deep pretty quick.. As you bored back on the tender they have water spraying to get the sand off your feet so that you can but your shoes or sandals on after you take your seat. NASSAU having never been here I was interested to see the Island. They have lots of stores to by silver gold cigars shirts etc. You will be hounded by hair braiders and straw market owners. It is not as bad as I have seen in Jamaica but still noticeable. I was pleasantly surprised with the island. I just may have to take the family for a long weekend at the Atlantis which was clearly visible from the ship. We were the first ship in. I watched the other cruise ships dock. First we saw the Disney Wonder. Looks like a real nice ship with a little of the “classic ocean liner” look. Then we watched RCI Explorer of the seas. She is big but not as big as I would have thought. Then we saw Holland Americans ms Zuiderdam WOW what a beautiful ship. I was a little disappointed with an early departure. 2pm but I guess we had to make some time up so we could be NY Sunday morning.
About the lay out........It is by no means a maze. You should have no problem. Compared to the other ships it was just a bit more confusing. There are maps of the ship every where so if you do get a bit turned around you should be able to get on track fairly easier. The lay out requires you to have to walk through bars at times to get to your destination. enjoy and have fun.