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Discussion in 'Norwegian Cruise Lines' started by Darthdaddy, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. Darthdaddy

    Darthdaddy Guest

    <<Below is material I posted in the review section. Perhaps it would be more useful to folks searching the NCL-specific board. Regardless, these are some of my impressions following 5/10/09 cruise from NYC to Bermuda...>>

    In light of some negative reviews I have to throw my 2-cents in concerning NCL Dawn. My wife and I and another couple sailed to Bermuda out of NYC on 5/10/09. It was not perfect and there were things that we felt could be improved but, overall, we were very pleased with the cruise.

    Embarkation was very easy. Sailing out of NYC is pretty neat. This is not unique to NCL, but is a benefit of the Dawn's home port, nonetheless. I give this a B+.

    We booked an inside cabin and found it quite acceptable for the two of us. This is tough to grade...Is it as nice as a balcony? No. Would more room be nice? Sure. Did we have any problems? Not really. As many have said, if you tend to spend little time in the cabin, you won't mind it at all. If you like to sit on your private balcony (who doesn't, right!), you will have to balance things yourself. We feel that we got excellent value with the inside cabin.

    Food was ok. Nothing was bad, but nothing was great. The buffet was adequate, but we've had better on other cruises. Seating in the buffet area is a hassle. Traffic does not flow well. I think it is inherent in the design of the ship. This was probably the most stressful part of the cruise. Main dining rooms were ok. Again, good, but not great. "Freestyle" cruising means no set time to eat and no fixed table partners. We don't mind it either way. The flexibility worked well, particularly since we could stay in Bermuda without feeling pressured to get back for dinner. We might have waited 10 minutes to seated on two occasions. The other evenings we had no wait whatsoever. Portions were smaller than other cruises. Some may object, but I thought it made sense...save us from ourselves and cut down on the massive waste. If one of us wanted to try multiple items, we were always accommodated, so it's not as though we went hungry. Service was generally good---but not great. Grade = B-

    Specialty restaurants are a feature of NCL's food service. There is a steak house, a French bistro, a Tex-Mex place, a pan-Asian restaurant, an Italian place and probably a couple more. There is a surcharge to eat in each of these restaurants. An additional surcharge may apply to particular menu items in each venue. We did not eat in any of these restaurants, so I can't comment on the food. They are much smaller than the 2 main dining rooms and the decor tended to be nicer. Still, whether it is worth the extra $$$ is truly a matter of taste.

    Entertainment was outstanding. We are not night owls and would have been perfectly pleased to turn in relatively early. However, the entertainment throughout the ship was so good that we enjoyed it night after night. The big stage shows were good. The mucical acts in the various lounges and smaller venues were really terrific. "Josie and Patti" were flat out wonderful. The comedian was ok, as was the 2nd City troupe. Entertainment gets an enthusiastic A+.

    Spa and gym were very nice. We got the spa pass which allowed access to lap pool, inside hot tubs, sauna, steam room, relaxation areas. We did not purchase massage, botox, Restylin or similar services. Exercise area was large and well equiped. Mid-morning was busy, but no problem getting on machines at other times of day. I give the spa and gym an A grade.

    Pool area was easily as good as other ships. All pools will be small and limited. This is a function of being on a ship. Still, the Dawn's pool area was pleasant. There was adequate lounge area around the pools. The wait staff were INSANELY pushy. This was the least enjoyable aspect of the cruise. For those with little kids, the separate pool/water park in the aft section of ship looked well designed. There were not a lot of small kids on our cruise, but the ones on board seemed to have fun. The pool / sun areas get a solid B.

    We did not go in the casino, so I can't give it a rating. It was larger than I expected and seemed busy, but not uncomfortably crowded.

    Debarkation was pretty easy, too. We chose to put our luggage out for the porters. You are expected to select a time at which you would like to leave the ship, i.e., 8:15am, 9:00am, 10:15am, etc. Baggage tags are color coded to a corresponding debarkation time. I think bags were supposed to be out by 1:00am. We almost missed it, because we were so late getting back from Josie and Patti's last show. Many people elect to carry their own bags...these folks can walk off as soon as the ship clears customs. We chose to take our time during breakfast and "hang out" for a bit longer. Once our color baggage tags were called, we left, picked up our bags, walked through customs and were in a taxi to Penn Station within minutes.

    On an absolute scale I suppose NCL ranks in the middle tier. There are certainly fancier cruise lines with better food and more attentive service. However, we did not pay for that level of amenities and/or service. We received excellent value for our $$$ and will not hesitate to sail NCL again.

  2. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    thanks for an objective review. I wish everyone would be so honest. You are right, most things are not perfect and I have only been on one perfect cruise: it was our first cruise, and if we took it today, after about 25 cruises we wouldn't think it was perfect. There is something magical about the "first" anything I have always thought.

    I only have one question for you, other than the flow in the buffet, which isn't all that great (better than Princess i will add) what cruise line or lines do you think have better buffets? I only ask, because we think NCL has improved their 1000 times over and I don't think any buffets are great, whether on land or sea. They are mainly meant to grab a quick bite in a relaxed setting. I am not arguing with you, just wondering what line you think offers a better one?

  3. Darthdaddy

    Darthdaddy Guest

    Re: NCL DAWN--buffet answer

    I feel that the Disney buffet is better than NCL.
    Overall, Disney food was better. Stations for omelets and other special items were less disruptive. Dessert station was better.
    Beverage selection on NCL was awfully weak. I do not understand why soda is such a big deal on NCL. I REALLY do not understand why their was no cream/milk near the coffee machine on NCL. I watched person after person after person go to the coffee machine, look around for cream/milk, and then have to walk to end of the beverage island to use the milk dispenser. Speaking of milk...why no chocolate milk? The soft serve ice cream machine on the Dawn was a bad joke. There was routinely a lengthy line because the machine was p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y slow. This caused back up of line for people who couldn't get to the cake/pie area. This was not well done at all.

    Seating at any buffet can be problematic. I thought seating on Dawn was insufficient. On Disney Magic & Wonder there is a really nice al fresco area immediately beyond the buffet line. In order to eat outside on the Dawn it is necessary to backtrack from the end of the buffet line, go through the commotion of people searching for tables, exit the dining area, navigate a passageway and hope to find a table around the pool area. This was a hassle.

    As I commented before, we are happy with the value we received on the Dawn. Still, some improvements could be made at little or no cost.
  4. nmnita

    nmnita Guest

    Re: NCL DAWN--buffet answer

    thanks for clarifying that. Yes, there is always room for improvement. As for the buffets or food period NCL compared with Disney, I think we have to consider Disney,even when they run specials which is rare is about 50 to 100% more than NCL, RCI, Princess and Carnival..


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