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Dan and Dawn Estela

Age: 38

Occupation:Retail manager

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Dawn

Sailing Date: 2012-04-21

Itinerary: Boston To Bermuda

I would like to summarize our first family cruise with the statement that within 3 hours of being home I was searching for my next cruise on NCL! We are a family 4 cruising for the first time. Children ages 10 and 8. We had a lot of unanswered questions we would like to answer for other families.

KIDS CREW IS AWESOME!!! The kids wanted to do so much it was hard to keep them out of there. We went into this hoping our children would go to the kids crew for maybe two hours a day. Within the first full day they had set their schedule with the kids crew and their activities. We did eat every meal except one together. They did a kids dinner with the kids crew one night. We had to force our ten year old to leave the crew and enjoy the shows. I wish they would schedule free play during at least one show a night. My wife and I loved all the shows. The kids loved Extreme Vegas. Second City and Bollywood were above their heads. (Great experience anyway) Staff was very friendly and attentive. Plenty of them around, we didn't ask for much but when we did it was accommodated right away. Overall a great first time experience for family of 4. Cruising is a terrific value!!!

Venetian and buffet were terrific restaurants. We ate at the buffet for breakfast most lunches and late night snacking due to timing of activities. We eat at chain restaurants mostly while at home and found the buffet equal to this. The main dining rooms had a step up from that. The menu was a little too much for our 8 year old but a kids menu is always available.

My wife 10yr and myself always found something tasty to order. We tried two pay restaurants Cagney's (make reservations early it will book up) and Moderno. We enjoyed the food at both but preferred Moderno. (Excellent Food, Probably not for the kids). Moderno was a take your time restaurant a great date night for us. My only complaint was the time it took to get drinks (Alcohol or not) The bars were always crowded and during dinner you could get one soda but not a second easily and dinner would take an hour and a half. (for the best I drank a lot of water) We all had the soda package for this cruise hindsight being 20/20 we won't buy that package again. All milk, iced tea, and water are free throughout the cruise. Overall all we miss the food a lot and loved the service in all the restaurants.

An example of great service would be a beautiful treat for us was when we were going through the buffet line a staff member offered to take our 8yo's plate and walked with her through the line. This wasn't necessary but it was a kind and appreciated gesture. These little things helped us relax and made the vacation extra special. Alcohol drinks are expensive ranging from 7 to 11 dollars. We did not drink a lot so we can't complain about this. (My wife says the Banana Daiquiri was worth the cost.)

We had an ocean view state room on deck 5. All things considered we are looking to book the same room again maybe obstructed to save some cost. The room is small (No surprise there) There was no privacy for a family of four. Three of the beds were pushed together forming one big bed and one bed was above another and that is our only complaint. Lots of storage space for your clothes. We were amazed. All of our clothes fit in the drawers and of course we over packed. We spent no time here, We received room service most mornings for coffee and croissants the kids ate more. Then we were showered and out the door only coming back to change for meals and remove bathing suits. The kids were there less. We considered two staterooms and the mini-suite but considering how little we were in the room it is not worth the cost.

A+ for kids crew and entertainment. We enjoyed the piano music in the bars as well as Patti and Jose singing around the ship. Spinnaker lounge was too noisy for us and the poolside bands were also too loud, you certainly couldn't have a conversation unless you were yelling. Hot tubs were very relaxing and we had no problem getting into them. The pool was chilly and is more of a dip pool to cool off opposed to a swimming pool. Most kids are at the main pool because parents have to watch their kids at the kids pool. Kids pool is not part of kids crew. The teenagers are the only problem. They are splashing and horse playing in and around the pool while older people are trying to read and relax. This lasts about 30 minutes before they get bored and move on to another part of the ship. They were not in the bars or restaurants. We mainly saw them hanging out in stairwells as we brought or retrieved our children from the kids crew.

We toured the spa (beautiful with great deals) but did not find time for the spa or the gym although we intended to workout at least three times. We took the stairs most times and walked a lot throughout the ship, I did play family dodge ball with my son and had a lot of fun doing so.

We made our excursion plans months in advance and I'm glad we did, it saved us from standing at the desk trying to figure out what we were going to do. The first day in Bermuda we opted to swim with dolphins. It was quite pricey but at the same time, we wanted our kids to experience this. My wife and I had done so on our honeymoon but we went again and it was a good thing we did. We did not anticipate our adventurous 8 year old becoming nervous about swimming with the dolphins and touching them. Beware, we went in April and the water was COLD! Even with wet suits we were all feeling cold. The next day we went on The Glass Bottom Boat and snorkeling excursion. This was quite inexpensive and worth the cost. The guides were not great but they brought us out to the shipwreck HMS Vixon. The snorkeling was fantastic. We were in 4 feet of water and fish were everywhere. This was a great experience for my wife and kids who had never snorkeled before. I have been before but have to say this was the best I've ever experienced.

If you did not go on an excursion in Bermuda I don't know what you would end up doing on this island. The stores are not great, there is a small beach next to the dolphin excursion which was nice to go to and didn't cost a thing. All in all, if you go to Bermuda go on an excursion even though it might be overpriced, if not there isn't much to do on this island.

Overall our trip was fantastic. We are a fairly easy going family and didn't have any complaints. We did hear others complaining about service, costs, weather (like anyone besides mother nature can fix that), etc. We thought it was a great experience and definitely worth the cost for all you get. There is a gratuity fee that they charge everyone, and goes to the staff (waiters, bartenders, room stewards, etc.), this does not go to the kids crew however. We went to the front desk and had them take off $100 from our kids fee so that we could give that money to the kids crew considering the last 2 days they were in there for almost the whole day and evening.

The biggest problem is finding time to relax, there is so much to do on the cruise and so many things we wanted to experience that we were just exhausted. Can't wait to go again but I think we're looking at the Bahamas next time and we'll go a little later in the year. April is still a little early and weather can be unpredictable. Thank-you Norwegian for a great family vacation.

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