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Overall Rating
Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions

Age: 51


Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Dawn

Sailing Date: 2009-12-13

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Pros: Very nice ship, slightly on the tacky side, but good tacky, fun. Very clean, restaurants never crowded despite full cruise. Cabin small but the balcony was cheap and very pleasant. Fun atmosphere. Easy to escape the action, which was plentiful.

Cons: THE FOOD and RESTAURANT SERVICE. Both were ghastly.
Constantly trying to get you to spend money: on bingo, art auctions, raffles, drinks you think are free, upscale restaurants, drinks, cokes, shore excursions, future cruises, and the list goes on. Very disorganized tender services to shore.

I booked this cruise during a quick sale and got a balcony cabin for $249 per person, so I feel I got my money's worth and then some, but I did end up spending $500+ on extras during a five day cruise, and I'm cheap and didn't really buy much.

Embarkation: Very well organized, very easy and quick, but a long way from taxi to cabin. Once on the ship, cabins were not ready so we went to have lunch at the main buffet restaurant. It was the most crowded of the whole cruise because it was the only place open and there was nowhere else to go until cabins were ready. The first lunch was awful, but that was the theme of this cruise. No matter where you went or what you paid, the food was bland, the service inattentive. It was bland on an entirely new level. I have never cruised before and dreaded mealtime. I felt like I was shoveling food in and not one bite during the entire cruise, save for a few things, was worth the calories.
It was really irritating on deck when they offered us a drink and then asked for our room card to pay for it. It seemed like it was gratis. I just handed it back and said no thanks.

I mentioned the selling. it was non-stop. Every show began with the cruise director trying to get everyone to but strips of raffle tickets. They constantly pushed the art auction, bingo, excursions, drinks everywhere, photos. It got obnoxious after a while. It seemed like all of the staff that were so busy trying to sell you stuff could have been better used upgrading the level of service.

The ports were fine, but the tender services were slow. you had to get tender tickets and then wait in long lines, but getting back was easy.

All in all, I have cruised on Celebrity, Chrystal and now NCL. NCL doesn't compare with those lines on any level, but I did like the relaxing quality of the freestyle cruising. I loved having choices and not having to wear formal clothes. That was almost worth the lousy food and service, but not quite.

When you go on a cruise, you go for the food and service. NCL really needs to deal with this.

RESTAURANTS AND FOOD. I ate in several restaurants and will say a little about each.
BAMBOO chinese restaurant: Absolutely the worst chinese food I have ever had. Chow Fon, which is a dish made with broad noodles in a brown sauce, came with thin noodles in a chicken-like thin broth. The dumplings were terrible, the food was all deep-fried and lacked flavor. The waiter knew nothing about the menu, couldn't recommend a thing. But it was half price for the cruise, at $5 per person so it wasn't too much of a waste of money. It was bad, but not nearly as bad as the tex-mex restaurant which was even worse. First, the service was terrible. There were two other tables in the entire restaurant with people, but it took them 30 minutes to get to our table. We had to ask for what was billed as a free margarita, and what came was more like a sampler size taste of a margarita. WE ordered lobster tacos which were worse than Taco Bell's worst offering, salty, no lobster and just bad. The chips were straight out of the bag, and accompanied by dips that lasted for about one chip each.

the Italian restaurant was the best of the lot. We had a fairly decent meal there. I had Osso buco which was pretty good, and Caesar salad, which was identical to the Caesar available at all the other restaurants, not good. The dessert was decent but again, the service was so bad that we thought about not tipping the waiter. They just didn't seem to care that we were so poorly attended to.

They had a few barbeques on the deck at the pool. Horrible. I wondered how they could screw up something so simple as a barbeque.

The rest of the meals were taken in the buffet and NY Deli. It was a bit tricky to figure out when the lines were open and which side was open. They seemed constantly to be closing one side or closing early or opening late. I went there many times and the lines were closed. It got a little frustrating. The NY Deli had fries and burgers sitting in buffet trays in water, which made them very unappetizing. Without a single exception, every time I went the fries were cold and I had to request they cook me new fries, which they did every time I asked. There was a lot of variety, but everything was bad. The salad bar area was limited and had just a few dressings, and the ubiquitous Caesar salad which someone made for you. By the third day I just couldn't find anything that looked appetizing. the breads were all stale and unexciting, the desserts were terrible, more like bad cafeteria desserts you would find at your local high school.

There was an ice cream stand with sugar free chocolate, vanilla and strawberry as the only three choices throughout the cruise. If all you like is normal chocolate ice cream you could forget eating that.

All in all, if you like to eat on cruises and your palate is even slightly sophisticated, you will be sorely disappointed.

CABIN: Very nice, clean and comfortable. The bed was a little hard, but there was room enough for two big suitcases underneath, and enough closet space for two. There were two comfortable chairs on our balcony and the view was great. The TV was limited on channels and an old style tiny TV, but who goes on a cruise to watch TV? Most of the channels were cruise ship channels trying to sell you things, which was the second theme of the cruise. The shower was big enough, but if I was really a large person, I would have been squeezed. It is pretty much impossible for more than one person to be in the bathroom or at the closet area at the same time. There was ample water pressure and hot water, the toilet worked well. There was a stocked mini-bar with items available at a cost, and one was a bottle of water costing $6. I thought it was extremely tacky that they did not give complimentary water. There was no noise factor at all. I couldn't hear my neighbors or activity in the hallway.

SHOWS. Pretty decent. A great theatre, great venue for watching shows, but on one show nights, there were not enough seats for everyone. They had two Broadway style dance shows with ample talent, even if the shows themselves were a bit tacky and lacking any real interest. The magician was very good, except when he was selling his memory tapes, and the Second City comedy group were great.

Drink prices were between $5 for a beer to $10 for a martini. But the duty free prices were great. I bought absolut Vodka for $12 per liter. You just can't drink them until the last night.

CASINO: The casino was good, but I couldn't get a seat at a $5 blackjack table most of the time because they were full, and the $10, and $25 tables were completely empty. You'd think they'd open a few more $5 tables.

The bingo was really an example of bad organization. They call it for 11:30. You get there, then at 11:30 they start upselling to get you to buy packages up to $100. Then everyone in the room has to buy their packages which took an hour. I didn't win, but I'm not bitter! It was fun once it got underway.

The game room was very nicely laid out, but the games were missing pieces, were badly beaten up. Only cards were viable if you didn't bring your own. I couldn't even find enough chips to play backgammon.

POOL: The pool is not large but it seemed like there was enough room for everyone who wanted to swim. There were endless lounge chairs at the pool, and we paid for the use of the indoor pool at the spa which was a wise investment. It was lovely, quiet with two jacuzzis, steam, sauna, etc. Very nice at $110 per couple for five days. Never anyone else in there.

GYM: Very very nice. Lots of machines, all with individual TV screens, classes that cost $10, jogging track.

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