July 2015 - Norwegian Dawn to Bermuda
Departing and returning to Boston was such an easy experience for us who are used to the long day of flying to get to a cruise port! There were 4 of us, booked into 2 staterooms with balconies. The rooms were fine, with ample storage space, except for the suitcases which remained in front of the couch as there was no where else to put it. The steward, Wayan, was fantastic - so friendly and accommodating. In fact, the entire staff went out of its way to be helpful and pleasant. Our beds were like concrete, so we asked Wayan for pads to soften them, which he found. We neglected to make reservations in any of the added-cost restaurants when we first boarded, and after a few days found there were none to be had, so we ate exclusively in the included restaurants. The food was very good, and we really liked the service and ambiance of the Venetian, so we ate there most of the time. The buffet always had plenty of choices for all meals and the food there was pretty good. as was the afternoon barbeque on the pool deck. Hint: bring a water bottle to fill in the buffet as they charge for water anywhere outside the dining rooms. The nightly entertainment in the theater was superb - don't miss it! We also enjoyed the nightly game shows in the Spinnaker lounge. The gym is well-equipped and roomy, and you can get a good walk on the promenade - 4 times around is a little more than a mile (helps to keep the weight gain down!)
The negatives have to do with the pool and the drinking. There are 1 too many days at sea, especially since the pool is tiny and the area is crowded, with plenty of smokers! The amount of heavy drinking at all hours of the day is astounding, even among adults with young kids with them! Most offensive was the fact that teenagers are allowed to drink all they want (I was told that those 18-20 are served if their parents sign a form, but I swear some of the kids were barely 17 or 16.) They formed a group on one side of the pool - acting rowdy and obnoxious. At one point it was like a frat party, complete with a funnel and tube for drinking games followed by cannonballing into the pool! No one stopped them, though there were plenty of people with little kids watching. What they do is not my business, but the fact that it made sitting by the pool so uncomfortable was. That night I complained to the staff, and I must admit I saw security around the pool the next day (which was very choppy and windy so it was hard to tell the effect.) If you choose not to sit by the pool, there are plenty of activities to entertain you.
Last thing - Bermuda was beautiful! I've never seen anyplace so clean and the people are very friendly. On the first day we took a taxi tour of the island. The drive's name is One Leg (seriously - he had one leg!) He told us he is a Blue Flag driver (licensed guide) but it turned out he wasn't. He was colorful but stretched the tour to make it 5 hours ($50 an hour), which was at least an hour too long. Make sure you get a real blue flag taxi if you do this. We did stop at amazing places, including the Sea Glass Beach, Swizzle Inn for a drink, lots of gorgeous beaches and historic sites. He recommended we spend the next day at Warwick Long Bay beach, especially the coves, which we did. We rented chairs and sat at Jobsen's Cove (at Warwick), which is now my favorite beach! The sand was truly pink, with bits of brightly colored (blue, green, pink, etc.) coral in it. The cove is gorgeous, with calm turquoise water surrounded by rock formations. There were neon-colored parrot fish and schools of silver fries (minnows) swimming in the cove - none of which bothered anyone. It was nirvana! The 3rd day we went by ferry to St. George (pretty town to walk through but nothing much to do except for the nice tour of the Lily perfume factory - you have to ask for the tour in a small historic home.) Took a bus to the Grotto caves, which underwhelmed us, then back to Hamilton for the ferry back to Dockyard. $19 buys you a day pass for any bus/ferry transportation on the island. I prefer to hire a knowledgeable driver who gets us where we want to go directly and tells us what we are looking at. The self-guided brochure in St. George was not very helpful or interesting.
Overall - a fun experience. If you're not big into the drinking crowd, go in the spring or fall and have a great time! Say "hi" to Wayan, midship on the 9th floor!