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Herb Dolphins

Age: 73

Occupation:Retired Fire Officer

Number of Cruises: 24

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Dawn

Sailing Date: February 10th, 2005

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

BOARDING- Due to a medical emergency enroute to New York, the ship was 4 hours late arriving. While we had to wait hours to board, you had to feel sorry for the passengers getting off the ship who missed their flights and other connections. NCL tried to make our long wait on the pier as pleasant as possible by having crew members serve sandwiches and soft drinks which were much appreciated. After finally boarding around 5PM, we made reservations for table 5 overlooking the atrium at the Salsa restaurant where we could dine to the familiar music of Anna Y Los Vientos. They recognized us and played many of our favorite songs. It was good to be back for our third cruise on the Dawn.

STAFF- We always felt the greatest asset of this beautiful ship was its staff. From the Hotel Manager Klaus to our efficient cabin stewards Melaini and Victor, we received the royal treatment. Our concierge Ruth from Austria was always available and very helpful. Cruise Director Colin from Scotland was always humorous and entertaining. The Executive Chef Norbert from Germany satisfied our every culinary desire. The dining room personnel were uniformly courteous and efficient and we were particularly impressed by the many young ladies from Romania who spoke English flawlessly and served with flair and friendliness. We appreciated the dance instructors Roman and Svetlana from Russia and the dance hostsBob & David. Jenni, the cruise consultant from South Africa was most helpful in providing information on ports and future bookings. The excursion desk handled the confusion resulting from our itinerary changes very well. The management team of this ship can take a bow for the stellar performance of their crew.

DINING- We had breakfast every morning at table no.1 in the elegant Venetian dining room where the food and service were outstanding with special mention for Dimitri from Romania and Virginia from the Philippines. We often had lunch in the Venetian where the menu was especially good on sea days. At dinner, we always gravitated to Impressions where we were expertly served by a cadre of young ladies named Simona, Elena, Gionina, Luminata, Ramona and Alice whom we affectionately dubbed our "Romanian All-Stars," ably supervised by personable Edgar from Honduras. Of the specialty restaurants, we enjoyed Salsa (prawn frajita), La Trottoria (Fruit de Mare) and Bamboo (Peking Duck). We rarely ate at the Garden Cafe buffet as it was often crowded and chaotic. The poolside luncheon barbecues were very popular. One morning a Bavarian brunch was held at the Bimini Bar on deck 14 where passengers enjoyed weisswurst and bratwurst accompanied by the rousing oom-pah music of the Dawn band. The 24 hour Blue Lagoon served tasty wok dishes and good wonton soup. Dining at all locations was superb and we had no complaints about any of them.

FITNESS CLASSES- We were disappointed in the changes made in the fitness classes by Steiner's. On our previous Dawn cruise in November, we enjoyed numerous fitness classes at no extra charge throughout the day performed with skill and dedication by Candi and Erin. There had been a nominal $5. charge for yoga and cycling classes. On this cruise, there were fewer no charge classes at inconvenient times (8AM and 5PM) and the yoga, cycling and formerly free pilates were now $10. classes paid in advance. Most classes were poorly attended where they were very popular on our previous cruise. To add insult to injury, the "In Motion On The Ocean" T-shirts previously awarded fitness attendees on former cruises have now been eliminated (they are now for sale). It would appear Steiner's is more interested in a few people attending paid classes than encouraging many people to improve their fitness. I justice to the new instructors Phil and Johann, they were talented but could have been better utilized providing more no-fee classes during the day.

MUSIC- We have been on many cruise ships and we have found the musicians on the Dawn to be without equal. Anna Y Los Vientos, the talented quartet from the Philippines who performed nightly just above the Java Cafe in the atrium were so popular that many passengers danced to their music on the terrazo floor in front of the reception desk. Nathan and Randy performed nightly at the grand piano in the atrium providing excellent dinner music to the diners just above in the Salsa restaurant. The Dawn house band, led by trumpeter extraordinaire were first rate whether playing dance music in the Spinnaker Lounge especially on big band night or in the Stardust Theatre. Modal Magic, a contemporary group was outstanding in Spinnakers Lounge on Valentine's night when they performed "The Best Romantic Love Songs" with skill and flair demonstrating the could also do justice to the golden oldies. We did miss Pamala Stanley who had previously perfomed nightly to SRO crowds in Gatsby's.

ENTERTAINMENT- The Jean Ann Ryan company were talented and energetic but they really have to get some new shows as we have now seen "South Beach Rave" and "Bollywood" three times. On one of the final nights, they sang in Spinnakers where their talent was not fully utilized singing mostly unfamiliar songs from undistinguished musicals. The 2nd City comedy troupe is not to everyone's taste. Improv comedy is difficult and hit or miss. Some people loved it, others walked out. We thought comedian/ventriloquist Michael Siegfried was hilarious and singers Carla Capps and Chris Riggins were well received.

PORTS- Due to our late departure from New York, our first port was San Juan instead of St. Thomas where we spent a full day later. Barbados had to be deleted from the itinerary. We enjoyed going to beaches on our own in Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. We did a snorkeling excursion in our final port of Tortola. Weather was mostly good at all ports.

A FEW NEGATIVES- Some of the bar lounges were small and very smoky. We felt sorry for the piano player in the Star Bar and we avoided the trivia contests in the Pearly King's Pub because the smoke was intolerable. Needless to say, we avoided the casino for the same reason. Finally, if you have a choice, mail your post cards in St. Thomas rather than San Juan as the ones we mailed there arrived days after we got home.

CONCLUSION- A memorable cruise on a beautiful ship staffed by an outstanding crew. What better way for us to spend the final night our cruise than to dance in the atrium to Anna Y Los Vientos performing their beautiful rendition of "I'll Be Seeing You?" Hopefully, we will be seeing many of our friends on the Dawn on a future NCL cruise.

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