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This was our first time on Norwegian, and overall our favorite cruise yet. Of course, our experience wasn't better in EVERY category, but in most categories it beat out the other lines. The Dawn is meticulously maintained. I did not notice any wear-and-tear on the ship, and it is a beautiful ship. It felt easier to find our way around than other ships we'd been on. Embarkation was a breeze, and debarkation better than the other ships we'd been on. There is a dizzying selection of bars, specialty restaurants, and free dining venues. The drinks were not watered down at all, and I loved the unique signature drinks offered. We visited 4 specialty restaurants and ALL were outstanding. La Cucina has the best chef on the ship in my opinion. The food in O'Sheehan's (a free venue) was very good, and the main dining rooms were ok for dinner (but breakfast disappointed us.) Bamboo provided extremely slow service and the food was underwhelming. We hated the buffet - both for the food and the chaos. The casino was pretty good - I especially enjoyed an electronic table game that offered roulette, baccarat, and sicbo with a minimum $1 bet (the kind of machine that shows a dealer on a video screen.) The thermal spa was incredibly relaxing, with a lap pool (I just used it to cool down), heated loungers, sauna and steam room, relaxation rooms, and two different types of hot tubs. I wish I'd had more time to spend in there. The entertainment was by far the best I've experienced on a ship. We saw 3 shows in the showroom that were all outstanding. Smokers of cigars, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes will really appreciate the very nice, beautifully furnished cigar lounge on board which was very convenient to all of the action on the ship, including several restaurants. The deck area had some nice furnishings besides the usual deck loungers you see on ships. Service was always courteous and polite - but not all servers seemed as enthusiastic or friendly as those on other ships. There were many exceptions however, who provided some of the best service we've ever had. Our cabin steward did not meet expectations for us. He left dirty glasses in the room on a couple of occasions and missed our turn-down one night, but everything else was fine. We couldn't believe how huge our balcony cabin was - which we were only lucky enough to get thanks to the upgrade bid program on Norwegian so it was our first time in a balcony. I will never book interior again after that. We had the Southern Caribbean itinerary out of San Juan, and we loved every port so much we will definitely make a point of sailing this itinerary again. We did not like our experience with many of our fellow cruise passengers - but that was not Norwegian's fault. Apparently someone gave, through charity, hundreds of people a free cruise on this particular sailing, and our experience with these people was that most I encountered (not all) were extremely rude and inconsiderate and acted entitled. I was lucky in that I speak some Spanish and could communicate with them because they would completely ignore people speaking to them in English asking to get by to get off an elevator and things like that (even if you don't speak English, body language is clear enough when you want to get off an elevator - and they were still ignored!) Again, not Norwegian's fault - and hopefully it was only this sailing. I would absolutely not hesitate to sail on Norwegian and the Dawn in particular again. I would like to see them stop charging for specialty coffee and sparkling water if you have the drink package, though. Other lines do not charge for these if you have the drink package, and we are heavy specialty coffee drinkers so that was a huge disappointment for us, especially when the prices were higher than Starbucks!

Our best cruise yet, meticulously maintained ship!

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by GlamorousGirl

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Aft-Facing Balcony
This was our first time on Norwegian, and overall our favorite cruise yet. Of course, our experience wasn't better in EVERY category, but in most categories it beat out the other lines. The Dawn is meticulously maintained. I did not notice any wear-and-tear on the ship, and it is a beautiful ship. It felt easier to find our way around than other ships we'd been on. Embarkation was a breeze, and debarkation better than the other ships we'd been on. There is a dizzying selection of bars, specialty restaurants, and free dining venues. The drinks were not watered down at all, and I loved the unique signature drinks offered. We visited 4 specialty restaurants and ALL were outstanding. La Cucina has the best chef on the ship in my opinion. The food in O'Sheehan's (a free venue) was very good, and the main dining rooms were ok for dinner (but breakfast disappointed us.) Bamboo provided extremely slow service and the food was underwhelming. We hated the buffet - both for the food and the chaos. The casino was pretty good - I especially enjoyed an electronic table game that offered roulette, baccarat, and sicbo with a minimum $1 bet (the kind of machine that shows a dealer on a video screen.) The thermal spa was incredibly relaxing, with a lap pool (I just used it to cool down), heated loungers, sauna and steam room, relaxation rooms, and two different types of hot tubs. I wish I'd had more time to spend in there. The entertainment was by far the best I've experienced on a ship. We saw 3 shows in the showroom that were all outstanding. Smokers of cigars, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes will really appreciate the very nice, beautifully furnished cigar lounge on board which was very convenient to all of the action on the ship, including several restaurants. The deck area had some nice furnishings besides the usual deck loungers you see on ships. Service was always courteous and polite - but not all servers seemed as enthusiastic or friendly as those on other ships. There were many exceptions however, who provided some of the best service we've ever had. Our cabin steward did not meet expectations for us. He left dirty glasses in the room on a couple of occasions and missed our turn-down one night, but everything else was fine. We couldn't believe how huge our balcony cabin was - which we were only lucky enough to get thanks to the upgrade bid program on Norwegian so it was our first time in a balcony. I will never book interior again after that. We had the Southern Caribbean itinerary out of San Juan, and we loved every port so much we will definitely make a point of sailing this itinerary again. We did not like our experience with many of our fellow cruise passengers - but that was not Norwegian's fault. Apparently someone gave, through charity, hundreds of people a free cruise on this particular sailing, and our experience with these people was that most I encountered (not all) were extremely rude and inconsiderate and acted entitled. I was lucky in that I speak some Spanish and could communicate with them because they would completely ignore people speaking to them in English asking to get by to get off an elevator and things like that (even if you don't speak English, body language is clear enough when you want to get off an elevator - and they were still ignored!) Again, not Norwegian's fault - and hopefully it was only this sailing. I would absolutely not hesitate to sail on Norwegian and the Dawn in particular again. I would like to see them stop charging for specialty coffee and sparkling water if you have the drink package, though. Other lines do not charge for these if you have the drink package, and we are heavy specialty coffee drinkers so that was a huge disappointment for us, especially when the prices were higher than Starbucks!
GlamorousGirl’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Aft-Facing Balcony
Cabin B1
We were lucky to have been upgraded to this cabin through the upgrade bid program, and I was absolutely thrilled with how roomy and nicely furnished the cabin was. Compared to other lines, Norwegian gives you more space in the sleeping area and less in the bathroom - and I prefer it that way. So the bathroom was cramped, but I was fine with that. Plenty of room to walk around in the sleeping area, couch sitting area, plenty of storage with large closet and lots of shelves and drawers. There was a fridge but it was a minibar so we didn't use it. Balcony was amazing!
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    I did a self-guided tour around town and was underwhelmed. City was very poor and streets were dirty. There are some interesting sites, like a beautiful church that I was drawn to, but when I got there I saw that there was graffiti on the wall around the church. It was so disappointing that historic landmarks like this were not being protected. I would have gave it "one star," however, the views of the island from the ship, especially the sunset, were incredible, so that bumped my rating up a couple of stars. We were supposed to go to St. Maarten instead of here but didn't because of the hurricane. I can see why Antigua was a backup.
    View All 1,546 Antigua Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Monkey Encounter
    Best excursion I have ever taken. We were literally surrounded by the monkeys, and were able to get as close as about a foot away from them. It was fascinating to watch them interact with each other - everything from grooming each other to getting into spats over the food. They were jumping around in the trees, sitting around eating, and interacting with the other animals (yes, there were peacocks, tortoises, and deer too!) It was an unforgettable experience. The tour also included a couple of scenic stops with more great photo opportunities as well as a 4x4 experience that, rather than some "4x4 experiences," actually went though a jungle area on a true 4x4 type path.
    View All 13 Monkey Encounter Reviews
  • San Juan
    We stayed in a hotel in San Juan the night before and night after the cruise, and did a self-guided tour. The Fort was incredible and an absolute must-see for any visitor to San Juan. The National Park Service is doing an amazing job at maintaining it, and it's a fascinating look at San Juan history. Admission is only $7. Old town has some beautiful architecture in lovely pastel colors, but wear-and-tear is evident. Outside of the touristy areas I found my limited knowledge of Spanish extremely helpful as some of the people I encountered did not speak English.
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  • Scenic Railway
    Spectacular views around the island, including lush green mountains, black sand beaches, and pastel dotted villages. Train moved slowly enough for good pictures. Free drinks were served. Only downside was open-air level of train was crowded. Everyone had a place to sit, but some not in ideal locations for photographing. I was lucky and managed to get a corner, so I could get great photos at least from one side. Downstairs there is an air-conditioned area with tables and large windows.
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  • Magen Bay Beach
    I booked the Magen Bay Beach with shopping downtown. I hesitated, because I'd heard Magen Bay Beach was badly damaged after the hurricane, however, I did not witness this. The beach was beautiful, and I can understand why National Geographic called it one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. The water was a very comfortable temperature and crystal clear, and the sand was very powdery. I wish I'd had more time here. The shopping portion I booked not for the shopping but to take a self-guided tour through the town to see the architecture, and I was not disappointed. The shuttle let us off in a great spot to explore the town and the buildings were beautiful. St. Thomas is very well-maintained and clean (although some hurricane damage was evident.) Lots of historic colonial buildings to see. I had some time so I went to the shopping area too. Most of the shops sold goods I can get at home - which I wasn't interested in. Lots of jewelry and high end. The best shop sold art by local artists - beautiful paintings, photographs, and drawings. I'm an art history major in college and I can tell you - these were great. I picked up 3 artworks. There was also a flea market area with lots of souvenirs and the like. I was happy to find a nice cap for $4. As for the shopping closer to the ship, after the excursion, I liked those shops a lot better. More affordable goods and more souvenirs.
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