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Jonathan & Jennifer Menges

Age: 32

Occupation:Sales Manager and Homemaker

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Dawn

Sailing Date: October 30th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

NCL Dawn was the first cruise my husband and I had ever booked. Although we are young, we were not interested in the "younger crowd" and wanted to have a relaxing vacation with each other.

Unlike many other people older than us, we did not desire the "traditional" cruise experience. Neither of us were interested necessarily in dining with others (although we did on two occasions) or the other formalities present on other cruise lines. NCL attracted us because it offered a more private vacation on a ship, without the hassles of sharing a wine bottle or worrying that your new dining mate doesn't speak good English.

Embarkation: We went swiftly through the lines, especially since we arrived early. Our only trouble was arriving in NYC with a cab driver who could not understand where we wanted to go. The staff was enormously friendly and everything went exactly as planned. Since we traveled shortly after a hurricane, Cozumel & Great Stirrup Cay was no longer on our itinerary. We were informed of the change right away.

Walking in to a six story atrium is like a dream. It's hard to believe you are on a ship. Uniformed attendants pointed us in the right direction and we found our room relatively easily.

Stateroom: VERY nice! The bathroom was large (as I had read about) and our balcony was quite lovely. Not as large as some, but we were grateful to have it. Although we had some issues with space, we made due. One of the lifesavers on this ship was FREE SELF SERVICE LAUNDRY! Could not be better! I wish NCL would make this standard on more of their ships. Even though it was a drag to do laundry midway through our cruise, we came home with a suitcase full of clean clothes, and it wasn't a terrible hassle.

Food: Overall, quite good. The Garden Cafe was spotty; some very good things, some not so good. The quality there could be described as "average". On an 11 night cruise, some of the choices became monotonous. We became huge fans of BLUE LAGOON - the 24 hour snack stop. Their chicken nuggets are just yummy, and the burgers offered are well cooked and surprisingly tender.

Service: While I have read some bad reviews about service, I can't say I experienced that. Most of the service was good. Some of it was slow, but we didn't expect much. Also, we were seated alone (as many other cruisers were) and I'm sure that contributes to the slower service times. Breakfasts in WINDOWS were excellent, though dining times were short. We were surprised to find the ship much quieter during the evening hours, especially as the restaurants closed.

Disembarkation: We did experience delays on disembarkation but overall it was not a bad experience. During shore excursions, we definitely experienced some delays! It was better to wait until later for ports where we didn't have something scheduled.

NCL is a wonderful cruise line, but it is not for the "hoity-toity" cruiser who thinks a cruise is all about impeccable food for free, service fit for presidents, or a pristine, upscale experience. For the money, the ships are very pleasant, the food is overall quite good, the service is excellent, and the experience is relaxing and wonderful.

Sail the Dawn - you will love it!

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