I've never been on the dawn but have been on a NCL cruise with my then 4yr old on the ncl jewel and also took her on carnival glory at age 2.
One thing positive i can say about carnival is thier kids program, awesome! thats where I'll end positives for carnival....now onto ncl.....We went on the ncl jewel last april with her and the kids area was PACKED! They have activities for all the age groups. It was so packed when we went that they had to move the 4yrs and younger to the movie room so all the bigger kids had the toddler area (the movie room was smaller and there was less toddlers compared to the older kids) So the little ones hardly got to use the jungle gym. I was a bit mad. I do remember going by the area where they had the bigger kids and they looked a bit bored. sitting in a circle talking . There was an arcade too.
If I had to compare the kids program to carnival, carnival wins with flying colors. Maybe the dawn is better for kids?? also the time of year you go, if you are going spring break time (like we did) its gonna be busy with kids.
Having said all that....we still booked another cruise with ncl but it is a little longer in length. Sometimes that too detors families from crowding ships with kids...sometimes not. Overall we did have a great time and she had fun making crafts.
DOLPHIN OCEAN BREEZE 1993
CARNIVAL CELEBRATION 1999
CARNIVAL GLORY 2004
NCL JEWEL 4/9/2006
DISNEY WONDER 6/15/06
NCL SUN 1/23/07 (girls trip!)
NCL PEARL 3/30/07
RCCI MAJESTY OF THE SEAS 8/27/07
NCL Sky 8/31/09 (Mom's Bday Cruise)
Disney Magic 10/17/09 with the baby!!
Next Cruise...NCL Dawn 6/6/10 NYC to Bermuda ;-)
Normally NCL has a great reputation for their kids program. I guess for Kimbo is wasn't quite as true. Yes, Carnival does have better facilities but not necessarily a better program. Overall I don't think you can go wrong with either line. both are very family friendly. NMnita