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Age: 44


Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Dawn

Sailing Date: 2011-01-16

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

This was my 3rd cruise, all on NCL, first time on the Dawn. Based on the previous cruises, we had high expectations for this cruise. And while we had a great time during the excursions, we were quite disappointed by the ship.

The food in the standard restaurants was substandard, I did not make it through a single meal without sending back inedible food. I would have expected to have comparable food quality across the different cruise ships of the same line, but nope. The problem must be in the management of the ship. During a tour behind the scenes I learned that each of the restaurants have their own galley, and the food in those speciality restaurants I tried was good to excellent - considering we had to pay cover charges between 10$ and 25$.

The Dawn is 5 years older than the Pearl and that was quite evident from the condition of the stateroom. The bathroom smelled horrifically of mold and sewage which was very discomforting and made me look forward to getting home every morning... Service was ok, nothing special, especially considering we had a suite. I had experienced suite/VIP treatment last year, with exceptional service from the Concierge and the butler; this trip, we barely saw the Concierge, often she didn't even great when passing us in the public areas, and our butler was clearly overwhelmed, just as we were underwhelmed by their service. Not even towel art...

The onboard activities on the Dawn also were not as good as on the Pearl: the activity staff was arrogant and more than annoying. The best activity on the ship I participated at was the behind the scenes tour on the last day at sea - very recommendable, we saw a lot, from the galleys to the environmental department and laundry and ended on the bridge - very informative and great experience. Less so the spa experience: previously I had to beat the spa ladies offering service off me - this time, the Australian woman at the reception barely took note of me and I ended up not even booking all the treatments I had planned on doing because I couldn't stand her arrogance. The one treatment I had was good.

I booked excursions for all ports and enjoyed every single one of them. Most fun were the catamaran trips (bring waterproof bag with change of clothes and hold on to your shoes!) in BVI and Antigua as well as the tranquil railroad trip in St. Kitts - the 8 mph speed allows taking lots of pictures and seeing many interesting back alley site and whomever we passed waved excitingly at us - great fun!

Overall, the cruise was nice but not great. Service was much below the level I experienced on the Pearl. On the pearl, the majority of the staff was from the Philippines and were wonderful. On the Dawn, the majority of the staff was from India, and the level of friendliness and service was just not the same. In my opinion, the Dawn suffers from management weaknesses - the age of the ship poses some challenges but the there is no excuse for the lower quality in food and service. I'm not booking another cruise on the Dawn, nor her sister ships.

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