NCL Dawn Review

The Epic launches next summer and it is surely a very different ship. Several areas have private access, for example, the studios. The rooms are petite, but guest have access to their own living area which included a bar, pool tables and other diversions. We have booked space for Novermber 2010. Please join us to experience this exciting new ship. Contact us using the link above.

NCL is known for its Freestyle Cruising philosophy and it is probably fair to say that the other cruise lines have copied some of this style of cruising.
We were fortunate to get a behind the scenes tour of the ship and to see how the ships, especially the galley, have been purpose built for Freestyle cruising.
Now, if you haven’t cruised with NCL or if it has been years since you cruised with NCL, you may not be familiar with the Freestyle concept. It does need some explanation as it seems that some of our fellow cruisers equated it with free range cruising or thought it meant that they were free to do, act and dress however they pleased. This is something that NCL needs to nip in the bud quickly before it gets out of hand and turns into the NoStyle concept.

Basically, Freestyle best illustrates itself in the dining arena. This cruise line has no fixed dining seats or dining times. You may choose to dine at whatever time you wish and with whomever you want. We were shocked to find absolutely no wait and only a few diners in the Aqua restaurant at 7:00 pm, when we had expected to wait a few minutes to dine at this prime time. Fortunately, we sat down immediately. Then the show began. There is no formal entertainment in the Aqua, which has the same menu as The Venetian, the main dining room, but in a smaller setting. We oohed and aahed when our fellow passengers showed up in their fancy duds – baseball caps, sweat pants and ratty t-shirt (an ever attractive choice for a morbidly obese woman), torn jeans and shorts and, of course, acceptable neatly dressed folks in clean, jeans, dresses, ties and jackets or suitable clothes for dining in a very pleasant atmosphere. Fortunately, we did not experience what a fellow passenger had the extreme pleasure of seeing in the Garden buffet – a large, shirtless man. How appetizing.

Wearing Sweats in the Aqua Restaurant
Wearing Sweats and T-Shirt in the Aqua Dining Room.

NCL used to have a dining venue that didn’t allow jeans. We certainly have nothing against jeans but do expect that cruisers should know in advance that following decorum is requested in certain areas. But, we no longer see mention of any dining room having a minimum dress code. We wondered if these people go to nice restaurants at home, dressed so inappropriately. Freestyle need not be a bum fest with people doing whatever they please. Another passenger told us that a sloppily dressed slob mentioned that he loved Freestlye because he could dress any way that he wanted.

There are definitely advantages to not having to dine at a certain time as it offers a lot of flexibility. As an example, the ferries from King’s Wharf to St. George experienced some problems, thus setting us several hours behind our intended schedule. Thanks to Freestyle, we had no worries about making it back for a specific dining time. We simply did what we wanted to and returned when it was convenient for us. We even wore what we had worn the entire day – resort casual clothes, the norm that NCL wrongly assumes that guests will wear.

Certainly, a good number of cruisers do have some concept of etiquette and have good manners and dress appropriately. In fact, there are many repeat passengers on this cruise who have appropriate social skills and have left their torn jeans and hairy backs a secret to the others sailing. We rarely comment on the good experiences on the ship, but rather take note of the events or situations that deeply offend us. What can you say about a nicely dressed, mannerly person with whom you have sailed? Isn’t the hairy, bare-chested, obese slob much more memorable? Of course, but then again it all depends on your personal life experiences and the way you live. Some might find nothing offensive about what some of us perceive as inappropriate, poorly raised, ill-mannered, socially inept, egotistical slobs.

Feet up on the back of chairs in Gatsby's
It’s hard to be surreptitious and get a good photo of the sandals perched on the back of a chair in Gatsby’s. Believe it our not, another woman in this group also had her feet up on the back of the chairs. Disgusting.

It is definitely best to think about the witty, engaging, interesting passengers that we did meet on the cruise. It should be noted that NCL seems to attract a very diverse demographic. We found people from all social, economic and educational levels. It intrigued us that so many of the passengers have sailed the Dawn several times because they enjoy the ship immensely. That in itself speaks highly for the ship and the crew, a crew that we found very friendly, courteous and happy with their jobs.

Come back to hear more about the Dawn.

Sail Away.

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