Norwegian Dawn 2011 Review

The Norwegian Dawn takes the honor as the only ship that I have ever sailed twice. I enjoyed it on my first sailing, also to Bermuda, but departing from NYC. Since it was conveniently leaving from Boston and returning to Bermuda, I thought that it would be good to give the Dawn another try, especially since she has recently come out of drydock. And honestly, I needed a cruise.

NCL Dawn
NCL Dawn

We arrived at Black Falcon terminal around 11:30am and found the lines for registration very short. We didn’t wait in line more than 2 minutes before we were called to the counter. Just before we approached the counter, we received a tag with a number on it, which told us which group we would be in when the ship began boarding. Well, check-in went swiftly and by the time we had checked in, we were able to walk right onto the ship without waiting for numbers to be called. I miss the welcome champagne that NCL used to offer upon boarding. Even though it wasn’t the best champagne, it made a good first impression. We still had a pleasant welcome aboard through a balloon arch.

Welcome Aboard the Dawn
Welcome Aboard the Dawn

Being just about noon, we assumed that the rooms wouldn’t be ready; typically they are open around 2:00pm. I explored the ship and waited for my companion to return to the ship after taking care of parking arrangements. The party had already started and I observed many folks carrying beer helmets and even some already in the pools and hot tubs.

Right before we headed to lunch, we heard the announcement that the cabins were ready. Unlike many other times when this announcement is made, there was no mass rush to the elevators, nor were the elevators full when they stopped at our floor. Maybe the embarkation goddess was watching out for us. After we dropped our bags off, we headed to Venetian for a full-service lunch. Usually, there are few people who select this option, with the majority going to the Garden Cafe. The majority was still at the Garden Buffet, but there were quite a few more people taking advantage of sit-down service in Venetian.

As we walked into the Venetian, I recognized the hostess from the last time that I had sailed on the Dawn. Seeing a familiar and friendly face was a good way to start the day. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and then prepared for the muster drill. My favorite dish on the lunch menu had been the Grilled Portobello Mushroom. That is still there, but is now an appetizer and a much smaller portion.

Muster Drill
The safety drill gets shorter and shorter with every cruise that I take. Carrying PFD’s (don’t confuse this with a PDF) is no longer required, nor is lining up on the deck. Our muster station was in Venetian, back by the aft windows. The drill went quickly; not one single person blew the whistle on the jacket- mostly because they didn’t have a jacket. That made me wonder if using the jackets might be a health issue. Just think of all the people who have touched those jackets, played with the light and entertained themselves by blowing into the whistle. I don’t even want to think about it.

We enjoyed the view after the drill and stayed at our table waiting for the rest of the crowd to exit. A man approached to look at the pier and began ranting about his life. Did we look like therapists? Our sign wasn’t out. We listened and let him rant on. He quit and turned around to leave, but after just a few steps, he returned to tell us some more details of his travails. Finally, he left for good.

We pulled out on time and got some sprinkles. Our drive to the port was a mix of rain and sun and it seemed that we brought the rain with us. It was just a light misting. As we passed by Castle Island, I had to ask what it was. It seemed so familiar, but when was I there before? It was at the infamous Tall Ship festival long ago. It has a special place in our family history as an event that we didn’t laugh about then, but can now look back and find a bit of humor in the experience. We had a good laugh about it and proceeded to find a sail away drink, but somehow we got sidetracked and never found that drink until right before dinner.

Castle Island
Castle Island

Cabin 8603
Although I had sailed the Dawn before, but in a balcony cabin, I hadn’t noticed how paper-thin the walls were. Being sensitive to noise, I would have remembered that. We could hear conversations from our neighbors and also other noises that we didn’t want to hear. I will only say that the woman said “Oh” many times successively. We left and found something else to listen to.

Jess was our diligent room steward. He kept our room clean, made us a variety of towel animals and even found me a feather pillow. We used our other pillows to put on the window ledge at night to block the light. Both of us have light issues and a totally dark room is our goal. Total darkness is one major advantage of an inside cabin for us. For others, the total darkness is a negative. I wish that all the ships installed the magnetic curtains like they use on the Epic. It was such a convenience to totally darken the room with the magic of magnets.(That doesn’t include that blue light on the bedside lamps, which required something be set on them to block their glare.)

We had two interesting features in our cabin. The toilet required a multitude of pushes of the button to flush it. Even then, there was a long flush delay after we gave up on button pushing. We would hear the toilet suddenly flush after we had left the room.

I had a glider bed. When I got in the bed, the mattress would move back and forth several inches. The bed itself didn’t move, just the top part of the bed. It didn’t really bother me, but moved a lot more on the rough sea day. I kept forgetting to tell Jess and finally let him know the last night of the cruise.

I am pretty sure that there must have been a huge group of people who hadn’t eaten for a year who joined this cruise.
The excessive gluttony (is that redundant?) and the excessive waste make me wonder about some of these people. Have they never seen food before? Do they have willpower issues? It is certainly tempting to try the variety of food on offer at the Garden Cafe, but taking a bit here and a bite there might be a good strategy.

We usually ate breakfast in the Garden Cafe just because it was quick and easy. And we didn’t eat breakfast everyday. Well, we didn’t eat any of the meals everyday because of our schedule. If we had late breakfast, we just skipped lunch and had an early dinner. When exploring Bermuda, we ate breakfast and then had either a very late lunch or early dinner. We always planned on trying the pizza, but even with our early dinner, we weren’t hungry for food later in the evening.

We found a pleasant server names Jason in the Venetian and requested to be seated in his area. Only one time did we need to wait, but it was worth it to us. Even though NCL offers the Freestyle dining plan, it is possible to request to be seated in the area where your favorite server is assigned.

The Blue Lagoon offers food 24 hours per day and has a good selection of comfort food. This was our venue of choice for our late lunches or early dinners. We thought that we should try Cagney’s because of its reputation. The food and service were great, but neither of us were able to finish the entire meal. The portions were too large for us. The staff insisted that we try dessert after we said that we had no room for anything else. Easily coerced, we requested a very small piece of their chocolate dessert, which was wonderful. We felt bad that we couldn’t finish our excellent meals. We felt worse that we essentially wasted the surcharge as well. We have to try everything once.

The Freestyle Dailies (several samples in the tab above.) listed all sorts of entertainment with something to suit a variety of tastes. Neither of us are really show people and can entertain ourselves. The only show that we attended was Second City. We had good intentions of attending the Memory workshop, but forgot. Other guests found it informative and interesting. In the evenings, we enjoyed a variety of performers in the different lounges.

We came prepared for the White Hot Party and were all dressed and ready to go. But, our trip back got rather rough and as my traveling companion was seasick at the beginning of the trip, we didn’t want to chance that. We also didn’t want to work too hard to stand upright or walk in a straight line.

To Be Continued…

Sail Away

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