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Our two families sailed on NCL for Christmas last year and had so much fun that we decided to do New Years this year. Sailing out of San Juan on the NCL Dawn was easier than expected. Taxis have a set price per zone plus $1 per bag. Our hotel was near the airport and cost $20 plus bag fee. An Uber XL cost $14 for the 10-12 minute ride to the pier. We arrived on time and there were no lines and we were on the ship in minutes. We had a balcony and inside stateroom for our party. The walk in shower with good water pressure was spacious. No complaints at all with the cabin. Our stewardess Dorina was always smiling, pleasant and funny! She was a joy to see every day. In fact, when guest services dropped the ball on handling our defective safe, Dorina stepped in and had security present in 5 minutes! The bartenders work very hard on this ship. Two really stood out: Ian at the Bimini bar and Arthur at Topsiders. Ian took his time to make the drinks properly and was courteous. He made serving you more personable. Arthur hands down makes the BEST margaritas on the ship! The man is a wizard. While all our servers were very professional, we had only one kink for service at Le Bistro. Two of us had the specialty dining package while the other two did not. The waiter switched the check so we had to pay for 1 dinner that was supposed to be on specialty dining and did not for the other. The difference was about $25 extra we had to pay. Rather than argue about it we just ate the difference. However the next time evening that we dined there, and the food was really really good especially the seafood medley appetizer, we got the same waiter! I pedantically explained which two people had specialty dining and who did not BEFORE we ordered. He screwed up the checks AGAIN and we had to pay about $25 extra. I brought it to his attention and after much waiting he returned and mumbled that it was all fixed and we left. It wasn't fixed at all. This is a minor thing that didn't ruin our cruise but it was an unprofessional thing that I'd expect at a Denny's or Burger King; not on NCL. While our server (Agnelo) was a pleasant and smiling person he needs more training. So my recommendation is if you get him as your server then ask for another. We also dined at Cagneys and had a great meal. I liked the atmosphere at Le Bistro better though. With regard to the entertainment, the dancers and singers were excellent! Elements is a big stage production and a must see. We actually met a group of performers on the beach one day, including Emily and Lucy, and spoke with them. They were the nicest of people. Also a big shout out to the movie skit crew show. That was a really good low-budget performance that had us in stitches! As for the ship itself, it was easy to navigate around but for the life of me I don't get the space for the dinosaurs on the aft deck. I'd make seating and even a bar/grill like the Jade rather than that kid zone. In all the times I passed that section, I never saw any kids there. Which tells me it is under utilized space. Overall, the Dawn is a nice ship but we prefer the layout of the Jade better. The ship did not feel crowded at all even on the at sea day especially when compared to the Epic. There were plenty of loungers to go around. Lastly, the southern Caribbean itinerary was a show stopper! Fantastic. I'd do it again.

Another fabulous cruise on NCL with only minor kinks...

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review by Mushinatsea

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
Our two families sailed on NCL for Christmas last year and had so much fun that we decided to do New Years this year. Sailing out of San Juan on the NCL Dawn was easier than expected. Taxis have a set price per zone plus $1 per bag. Our hotel was near the airport and cost $20 plus bag fee. An Uber XL cost $14 for the 10-12 minute ride to the pier. We arrived on time and there were no lines and we were on the ship in minutes. We had a balcony and inside stateroom for our party. The walk in shower with good water pressure was spacious. No complaints at all with the cabin. Our stewardess Dorina was always smiling, pleasant and funny! She was a joy to see every day. In fact, when guest services dropped the ball on handling our defective safe, Dorina stepped in and had security present in 5 minutes! The bartenders work very hard on this ship. Two really stood out: Ian at the Bimini bar and Arthur at Topsiders. Ian took his time to make the drinks properly and was courteous. He made serving you more personable. Arthur hands down makes the BEST margaritas on the ship! The man is a wizard. While all our servers were very professional, we had only one kink for service at Le Bistro. Two of us had the specialty dining package while the other two did not. The waiter switched the check so we had to pay for 1 dinner that was supposed to be on specialty dining and did not for the other. The difference was about $25 extra we had to pay. Rather than argue about it we just ate the difference. However the next time evening that we dined there, and the food was really really good especially the seafood medley appetizer, we got the same waiter! I pedantically explained which two people had specialty dining and who did not BEFORE we ordered. He screwed up the checks AGAIN and we had to pay about $25 extra. I brought it to his attention and after much waiting he returned and mumbled that it was all fixed and we left. It wasn't fixed at all. This is a minor thing that didn't ruin our cruise but it was an unprofessional thing that I'd expect at a Denny's or Burger King; not on NCL. While our server (Agnelo) was a pleasant and smiling person he needs more training. So my recommendation is if you get him as your server then ask for another. We also dined at Cagneys and had a great meal. I liked the atmosphere at Le Bistro better though. With regard to the entertainment, the dancers and singers were excellent! Elements is a big stage production and a must see. We actually met a group of performers on the beach one day, including Emily and Lucy, and spoke with them. They were the nicest of people. Also a big shout out to the movie skit crew show. That was a really good low-budget performance that had us in stitches! As for the ship itself, it was easy to navigate around but for the life of me I don't get the space for the dinosaurs on the aft deck. I'd make seating and even a bar/grill like the Jade rather than that kid zone. In all the times I passed that section, I never saw any kids there. Which tells me it is under utilized space. Overall, the Dawn is a nice ship but we prefer the layout of the Jade better. The ship did not feel crowded at all even on the at sea day especially when compared to the Epic. There were plenty of loungers to go around. Lastly, the southern Caribbean itinerary was a show stopper! Fantastic. I'd do it again.
Mushinatsea’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BC 10060
This balcony had a closet with several shelves. The restoom had a large walk-in shower and was rather spacious I though. Bring a nighlight or battery candle to navigate the room at night as it is pitch black. NCL needs to follow Carnivals lead by installing motion sensored baseboard lights.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Catamaran Sail
    This excursion is a solid B compared to our experience with Cool Runnings which was a solid A+. There were about 83 people on board (compared to about 22 on Cool Runnings) but it was not full or overcrowded. We saw tons of fish on the reef and had lots of beach time as well. One could hike up the hill to the old fort. Lunch was ok but not as good as Cool Runnings.
    View All 96 Catamaran Sail Reviews
  • Barbados
    Hands down the BEST excursion we've had over 5 cruises. Read TripAdvisor and you'll see 5000 5 star reviews. Awesome time by a group of guys who know how to provide service. We saw turtles, fish, ship wrecks and ate really good food and had an over the top fun time on their Catamaran snorkel adventure.
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  • St. Lucia
    This was supposed to start with land and sail back to the ship by sea. The tour operator switched the route so we sailed down the Pitons first. The crew was trying to serve "rocket fuel" rum punch at 10 am! Nobody was drinking! They were out of their minds! Once at Souffieire, our group got separated but we were assured that we would meet again...we never did. They did the land part separtely. We only met again for the bus ride back to port. Their lame excuse for switching the itinerary was that shuttle buses were in short supply that morning. The tour has huge potential but failed in our opinion. The plantation house is set with breathtaking views of a sea. The lunch served included chicken and fish and was very good. Drivers were excellent. Except for one thing. Half way back to port the driver stopped on the road. A person ran up to the tour guide. We waited and waited and finally the person came back with what looked like two garbage bags full of laundry! How unprofessional for the tour guide to do personal business on our excursion! We still gave her a tip but not near as much as we would normally have given. BTW, use a restroom prior to departing for the port because the one stop halfway there charges $1 to use the restroom. I would not do this tour again.
    View All 12,794 St. Lucia Cruise Port Reviews
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  • St. Thomas
    about a 20 minute taxi ride for $20 RT per person to Secret Harbor. This is a recently re-opened beach resort with a bar, grill and restrooms. Chairs cost extra and are only for guests. Bring snorkel gear as we say turtles and a fair amount of fish. Beers cost $5 and a pizza cost $15.
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  • Tortola
    For $16 RT per person, a bus screams in low gear over the mountain to the west side of the island and Cane Garden Bay. The views are excellent. An added bonus is AT&T service from St Thomas in the distance. The grill is slow even on island time. Do not waste your time there. The restrooms have showers. Overall, a nice experence on a wide sandy beach without rocks or seaweed.
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