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Age: 33


Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Dawn

Sailing Date: March 26th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

First off...any vacation (from work) is a good the attitude I always take with me. So, me having a good time is not necessarily dependant on whether somebody can bend over backwards for me...but it will determine how much more I will tip. With that being said, here is my review of the NCL Dawn.

This was our second cruise with NCL. The first time was on the NCL Star spring of 2005.

We arrived at the cruiseport at 11:30am. It was already packed with people waiting to get onto the ship. If you are a latitude member, you go to the second level. It basically means you will get onto the ship before first-time cruisers. I do hope they turn down the heat because it was stuffy and hot on the mezzanine level (low ceiling didn't help). They served water and bakery (sweet breads like banana bread) while you waited. This was available for all (main level where first-time cruisers waited and second level where latitude members waited). We got onto the ship at 12:30pm.

The ship was beautiful. Pretty similar to the Star (sister ship). We had 8 people in our party. We had cabins 5050, 5058 and 5060. These cabins sleep 4 people. There was a pullout single (from underneath one of the single beds) bed and a pullout from the wall (bunk bed). The pullout from underneath was hard... you may ask for a mattress cover. The space was well laid out and exactly the same as the Star.

Service: I found there was an overall inconsistency amongst all staff. There were some cruise staff very friendly and outgoing. They will greet you as you walk pass or come up to you and offer their assistance with a smile...on the other hand, there were some who just kept to themselves. They don't look at you as you pass which does not offer you a hospitable, welcoming, friendly feeling. You will get this impression as you embark and throughout. Just to compare, the Star was not so. I found the service on the Star to be superior to the Dawn.

Food: The quality of food was very average and very much like your local family restaurant. The buffet had a good selection...but pretty much the same choices for the entire cruise. It was a little tiring after a few days. The Dawn did not have a separate station like the Star did for freshly cut fruit. The omelet station was part of the one of the buffet lines (long waits in the line most of the time). The quality of the buffet was very typical and nothing special. Now to the dining rooms...let me just say, it was very average everyday food. Nothing special and nothing fancy. The meat offering may be different on the entree, but the sides were exactly the same as the buffet. (I often wondered if they just scoop from the same massive pot.) We tried one of the paying restaurants, Bamboo. It was disappointing. Don't eat the Korean ribs. It was a huge plate of ribs that tasted like something from TV dinner boxes (don't let the size fool was dried and without flavor). The peking duck was along the same lines. The presentation looks appealg...but you will quickly learn that real peking duck does not taste like that. The so-called duck meat tasted like it was defrosted in the microwave and brought to our table. The edaname was very salty. It wasn't all bad. The teriyaki salmon was good. It was juicy and tasty. The sushi was average. There was a saving grace..the all-you can eat ice cream...and the toppings alongside.

The entertainment was average. I only caught the magic show as I was not able to get away with a 1 year old stuck to my left hip. Bingo was so expensive..I can recall exactly..$35 for 4 games or ~60 for a superbingo (ie many games using a machine). The payout in an average game was a little over $100 (only!!). We only played because we promised our 5 year old. We found the overall spirit of the ship to be quick subdued...perhaps a slightly older crowd than the STar?? Not as much tempo and humor (and beach ball, etc giveaways at the night shows).

I will not go into the ports..just that if you like hot and spicy some of the bottled hot sauce they sell at the stores (belize or cozumel is where I saw them)..they are hot and tasty.

Overall, it was not the best cruise we had. It's actually the lowest ranked compared to Princess (first cruise), then the Star and lastly the Dawn. So would I cruise with NCL again? Maybe. But not because the Dawn cruise was not the best cruise experience...because NCL is responsive and understanding to families and families who want the cruise experience without having to pay a premium with young kids. The didn't charge a cruise fare for our 2 kids. They have good programs for kids onboard. We know NCL is not the best cruiseline out there but it fits our present family position. Regardless of the not so perfect service or food, we still had a great time.

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