July 2015 - Norwegian Dawn to Bermuda
Cruisers- Our last cruise was 5 years ago. We sailed on the “Spirit” out of Boston for my Mother’s 75th Birthday. We booked 5 cabins for 14 people. This Cruise was just the 4 of us (2 in their 50’s, daughter 22, Son 19).
Friday July 10th - Day 1
We left my mother's at 9:15am and arrived at the Cruiseport at 10am. We dropped my wife and son off with the bags, then my daughter and I parked the car at the parking garage (cruise rate of $20 a day). After a very short walk we were at the Port. The 4 large bags and a 12-pack of Ginger Ale were checked with a Porter. There were no lines and we were all checked in by 10:45am. We were group #6 and got on the Ship by Noon. We went directly to the Venetian for a delicious lunch. We were seated at the window. After lunch we walked around the ship and then went to the "Sail Away Party". At 5:30pm we had dinner at Aqua. At 7pm we went to the "Welcome Aboard Show". This was big disappointment. It was an intro to some of the staff, a boring video and previews of 3 of the weeks upcoming shows. After the show we went up to the walkway on Deck #7 to watch the sunset. We were thrilled to see two unusual things. First we saw a sailing ship on the horizon. I would swear that I was looking at a haunted Ghost Ship sailing across in mist. Then between the Cruise Ship and the "Ghost Ship" we saw a whale. After watching the sunset we walked around the ship. First we listened "Masquerade Duo". We liked them and would catch some of their music every time they played. We then went to the Spinnaker and listened to the group "Great Ideas". We finished our evening with a stop at the Blue Lagoon. We had hot chicken wings (which were very good), tomato soup (very good) and Spinach & Artichoke Dip (had an aftertaste, no one liked it). We set the clocks ahead one hour and went to bed by 11pm (earliest of the week). The kids went up to the hot tub.
Saturday July 11th - Day 2
We woke at 9am and went to the Garden Cafe for the buffet breakfast. After breakfast we walked around the track and then used the treadmills. At 1pm my wife and I went to DaVinci's behind the scenes Bird Show. He demonstrated how they train, raised and use their flock of 9 parrots in his shows. While we watched the show, My daughter relaxed in the sun and Son worked out at the gym. We all met at 2pm for the lunch buffet. After lunch we went into the pool and hot tubs and hung around the Oasis Pool area. We walked around the ship and then met at the cabin to get ready for dinner. We went to the Venetian at 5pm with my son insisting he could wear shorts. We were stopped at the door and he was told to go back to the cabin to change into long pants.
At 7pm we went to the "Band on the Run Show" which we all liked very much. We listened to the "Masquerade Duo" for a while. We went up to the buffet to eat some shrimp and then to the "Blue Lagoon" for some wings. After eating we went to the Spinnaker to listen to "Great Ideas". We headed back to the cabin and went to bed midnight.
Sunday July 12th - Day 3 (first Bermuda day) -
Got up at 9am. Watched the ship dock in Bermuda and then used the treadmill in the gym. Met everyone at the buffet at 10:30am. We wanted to let the crowds exiting the ship thin out so we played a few games of shuffleboard. We left the ship at Noon and walked over to Snorkel Beach. We snorkeled for two and a half hours. On the way back to the ship we stopped to buy 8 bus tokens for the trip to Somerset Boat Rentals on Monday. The total for the 8 tokens was $22 because it was such a short drive (15 minutes). We were back on the ship by 3pm. We showered and went to Bamboo at 5:30pm. This time my son was wearing a tank top and was sent back to the cabin to change. Even with the limited menu (no real traditional appetizers) we thought the meal was very good. My son finally got his Mahi-Mahi that he had been craving. We left the restaurant in time to make the 7pm show of "Jocko and Maria" which we thought was very good. After the show we went to watch the game show "Deal or No Deal". This would be the first of 3 "Deal or No Deal" shows we would watch this week. After the game show was over we looked at the Thomas Kinkade paintings and then spent the rest of the evening going from one venue to another listening to music. We had a late night snack and in bed by midnight.
Monday July 13th - Day 4 (2nd Bermuda day)-
This was the day that we had reserved our Whaler from Somerset Boat Rentals. This was supposed to be our highlight of the trip but they were predicting rain/thunder/wind just 2 days before we left home. We woke at 7am (only set the alarm clock for this day and departure day). We ate breakfast and left the ship by 8am. We walked to the bus stop which is located over by Snorkel Beach. We caught the 8:20am #7 bus to Somerset. We got to Somerset by 8:45am. We rented a 13' Boston Whaler ($145) and a set of fishing gear ($18) which comes with a rod, tackle box and bait (squid). They supplied a cooler with ice and water. Gas was a separate fee and cost us $20, so the total for the day was $183. This turned out to be the most expensive excursion that we have ever taken. The actual cost of this excursion was approximately $700 if you count the video camera and digital camera that we destroyed, by getting them submerged in salt water. We were given an orientation and headed out at 9:30am for 4 hours. In hindsight I wish we would have rented the boat for 6 hours instead of 4. We did everything we wanted to but had to cut our time shorter than we wanted. In the 4 hours we were able to go to the Vixen Shipwreck to feed the fish (wish we had time to snorkel with them), we stopped at a small deserted island where we swam and snorkeled (wish we had time to visit more islands). My son explored the island and got some pictures of the "long tail bird" nesting in a small space in the coral. We fished in 2 or 3 spots (wish we could have done more fishing) and Amber caught a fish. We visited the Dawn from the water and then explored the Bay on the way back to the Somerset Docks. On the way back we saw 6 Sea Turtles, some nesting birds and "something" that stuck it's neck about 2 feet out of the water. For some reason the trip on the ocean side of Bermuda was very calm but the Bay had much higher waves than we expected? Because of this we performed, what turned out to be a rarity. We were able to get the entire boat filled with more than 6" of water. As we saw our backpack with the camera and video camera equipment submerged in over 6" of water, we knew that this would become our most expensive excursion in our lives. Our next camera/video will be waterproof. We are hoping that the video and pictures from the first 3 days can be salvaged when we get home. An interesting thing to know. We went to the Front Desk, Internet Cafe and Photo Shop on the Dawn to see if they could check out the camera chip. The ships computer software doesn't allow this anywhere on the ship to protect it from viruses (makes sense, never thought of it). We were at the bus stop at 2pm and back on the ship by 3:30pm. The bus stop at Somerset is strange. There is no actual bus stop other than a blue pole in the middle of overgrown brush. I was feeling the affects of too much sun and didn't feel well the rest of the night. We went to the buffet for dinner so we wouldn't have to change. At 8pm we went to the "Family Feud Game Show". This was probably the worst run entertainment on the ship the whole week. The 2 people running the game were constantly misinterpreting the answers, giving credit to the wrong teams and a host of other errors. You could tell that the software used for this show was very dated which probably contributed to some of the issues. We then went down to the Stardust Theater to watch NCL's version of the TV show "The Voice". This was actually very enjoyable. At 11pm I went back to the cabin while the other three went to the Blue Lagoon.
Tuesday July 14th - Day 5 (3rd Bermuda day)
We woke up at 8am and went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast at 9am. We left the ship at 10am to walk around the Dockyard. We checked out all the stores and the small mall where we purchased rum, shot glasses, Cuban Cigars and a few other trinkets. We looked at the Glassworks and sampled the Rum cakes at the Rum Cake Factory. At 1pm we went over to see if we could rent a Jet Ski but they were all booked up for the rest of the day. The kids decided they wanted to rent a Kayak. We went back to the Ship for lunch. After lunch my wife and I stayed on the ship and the kids went to Snorkel Beach to rent a Kayak for an hour. My wife and I did a mile around the deck until we noticed the kids coming back to the ship at 4pm. The kids changed clothes and then we went up to the buffet. The ship departed Bermuda at 5:30pm. After dinner we went to the gift shop to buy an ornament and a watch. At 6pm we went to a free Rum Tasting. There were several tastings during the week of the cruise. Once the shopping was done we went to the "Da Vinchi Illusionist show" then watched another "Deal or No Deal" show. We walked a mile around the deck, watched the "Battle of the Sexes Show" in the Spinnaker, watched another performance of "Masquerade Duo" in the Atrium and then were in bed by midnight. The news from the Captain tonight was that we were heading into a rough storm overnight with waves of 16-20 feet. Not looking forward to that.
Wednesday July 15th - Day 6
We woke to 8-12 foot waves which were suppose to hit 16-20 feet. I was the first one to breakfast at 8am. It seemed like everyone was on a straddled schedule today so I ended up having four small breakfasts, one with each family member. We went to the pool at 9:45am. My daughter laid in the sun, I went into the pool. For the 10 of us in the pool this was a lot of fun. We had our own private wave pool. The waves in the pool were over 2 feet high and splashing the first row of lawn chairs. Our fun was short lived as the strong/high waves were releasing a mold-like black substance into the pool. At 10:30am the pool was closed and drained and not used again for the rest of the day. We went back and forth between the buffet eating light snacks and drinking mint tea to settle our stomachs. The seas were getting rough my friends! We went to the Cabaret in the Spinnaker at 1:30pm. My wife was the only one in the group that liked it. Singing was very good, just not our taste. My son and I played Corn Hole in the lobby and then we all decided to take a short nap before going to dinner and the show. We modified our plans a little. We decided to still do the 7pm "Second City Comedy Show" but changed our dinner to 8pm. We aren't big Improv fans but this show was good. We did like the prepared skits better than the Improv but enjoyed the show as a whole. After the show we went to the "Aqua" for dinner. My Son bought 2 Cuban cigars in Bermuda. We found out today that he couldn't take them off the ship. We checked out the "White Hot Party" at 10:30pm, got a cup of coffee and he smoked one on the outside deck. We went back to the cabin at 11:30pm. My kids went to the Party. My wife and I went to bed at midnight, the kids came in at 3:30am.
Thursday July 16th - Day 7-
This was the last day of the cruise. I got up at 7:30am and went to breakfast with my daughter. The seas had final calmed down at 5am. The weather was windy, a little cool with clouds. We are hoping that we get some sun on our last cruise day. The sun did come out but it was still cool and windy. We wanted to go in the pool for one last swim but the air and water were a little too cool for us to enjoy it. We did use the hot tubs and sat in the sun for a couple of hours. While the kids stayed at the Oasis Pool area my wife and I had a delicious lunch at the Venetian. On our way back to the pool area we went to a "Future Cruise Preview" lecture. After the information session we went to the Atrium and picked up our departure tags. We like to hang out on the ship for as long as we can so we took the 10am time slot (Salmon). We spent the rest of the day poolside listening to the band play music, snacking and packing. The bags needed to be in the hallway by midnight. The first show of "Elements" was scheduled for 6:30 pm because the setup of the staging was so complicated. It was suggested that people get to the theater by 6pm. We got to the "Stardust Theater" just before 6pm and the line to get in was backed up past the gift shop. The show was very good and includes elements (not why it was called this) of many of the performances that we saw this week. After the show there was a parade of people down the aisle and onto the stage) from all the departments on the ship. They carried their countries flags and the Cabin Stewards all carried one of their towel animals. We went from the theater to the Venetian Restaurant. We had switched out 5:30pm reservation to 8pm which was a great move. There was a huge line of people from the Show in line for dinner. We were in our seat within 10 minutes for another great meal (Prime Rib). After dinner we went to the 10pm (over 18) "2nd City Improv Show" which was held in an overcrowded Spinnaker. There were no scripted skits at this show, just Improv. Unlike their earlier show (which was very good), this show was horrible. We actually left the Spinnaker before the show ended and went back to the cabin. My Son went up on deck to smoke his last cigar and was out talking to some other cruisers. We finished packing, put the 4 bags in the hallway, set the alarm for 8am and went to bed at 1am.
Friday July 17th - Departure Day
We woke at 7am. We finished packing our carry-off bags and were out of the room by 9am. We got breakfast at the buffet and sat by the Oasis pool until our color (Salmon 10am) was called. We ate and watched the dancers rehearse for the "sail away party" that they would perform on the next cruise which was at 4pm today. Our color was called a little early and we were off the ship and in our car by 10:30am. We dropped my daughter at her apartment and were home (Southern NH) by 1:30pm.
Restaurants- Because of all the varied reviews I have read, the food on the ship worried me the most. The food in all of the “complimentary” restaurants was excellent in our opinion. We had a couple of individual items that we didn’t like but everything else was above average in the both the MDRs and the Buffet. The wings and tomato soup was very good in the Blue Lagoon. We did the MDRs for 5 dinners and 2 lunches and all the meals were excellent. We couldn’t believe the amount of steak available at many of the meals. Supposedly this is the only cruise line that has food available (not including room service) 24 hours a day. To our surprise several nonalcoholic drinks were available all day for free. They were coffee, tea, lemon aid, kiwi/strawberry flavored water, mango flavored water and ice tea. During the actual meals there was also juice, chocolate milk, skim milk and regular milk available. For a good part of the day there was soft serve ice cream available at the buffet and hard ice cream (3 flavors a day) available near the pool. Both had toppings and syrups to add to your ice cream. We went to the earliest seating possible on most nights and got out of the restaurant in time for the early show.
Service- The service for the most part was wonderful. We were greeted with a smile and a hello every time we passed an employee. Bussing service and servers were quick and efficient in the buffet and MDRs. Water glasses were always filled. Dirty dishes were removed immediately. Our only issue was with our Cabin Steward. He never introduced himself and we never met him. We never got ice in our ice bucket or beer buckets. He never refilled our tissues, soaps or toilet paper. We needed to grab the stuff off the carts when they were in the hallway. We do know he existed because our bed was made in the morning and turned down in the evening. We also got towel animals only 4 out of 7 nights.
Lines/crowds- I guess timing is everything but we did not hit many crowds or lines. We passed the ice cream areas many times and there was no line. We never waited more than 5 minutes to be seated in the MDRs. Other than the main line entering the buffet there were minimal crowds. (Hint: Do not wait in the main line. Check out the secondary lines and you will usually find a shorter/quicker line. Also, you will be told that the buffet lines are all the same. Every line seems to have a few different items than the others so check them all out). No problem getting seats at shows. We liked to use the stairs but when we did use the elevators the waits were less than 2 minutes. Only place that the service/lines were a problem were at the bars.
Entertainment- We liked most of the dancing and singing. We enjoyed moving from venue to venue every night to listen to the different music groups. The Band "New Generation" (played at the pool) was good. Karaoke was packed every night and we would stop by to hear a few songs. Our favorite shows were "Band on the Run", "Jocka and Maria" and "Elements". The worst show was the "unscripted 2nd City Show" (horrible) and the "Welcome Aboard Variety Show". I thought that all the shows in the past were over an hour but all the shows on this cruise were under an hour long? Not sure if the shows got shorter or my memory has?
Ship- I had read many reports about the condition of the ship so I paid extra attention to it's condition when I walked around. The Ship looked like it was in very good shape to me. Employees were constantly cooking, cleaning, vacuuming and painting on the ship and in port.
Packing- There was nothing that we didn't pack that I regretted not having. We did pack an alarm clock which came in handy and brought a power strip which was crucial (only one outlet in cabin). We used water shoes at the beaches and when we went snorkeling. We brought 2 pairs of flippers which we didn't use. We also brought snacks and water for our day on the Whaler, which we never used. We also brought on a case of soda which was unnecessary. If we left these items at home we could have gone without our biggest carryon bag.
Bermuda- Not much I can say about the island that you don't know. Beautiful, friendly, lots to do and a great place to spend a vacation.