One of Norwegian's best itineraries
Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review to Canada, New England, New York
Ship: Norwegian Dawn
Cabin Type: Inside
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 8 years ago
In September 2008 we took the Norwegian Dawn on the New England/Canadian itinerary. This was our fourth time on Norwegian, and fifth total cruising (having been on Royal Caribbean for the first outing). While we are not in love with Norwegian, we do seem to end up on this line a lot as it goes where we want to go, frequently leaves from New York and is relatively inexpensive. Norwegian is not the classiest of the cruise lines, but let me be up front: We are very budget-conscious travelers, and Norwegian is great for that. For a seven-day cruise and six ports of call, $518 (including port charges & fuel surcharges) is unreal. It went even less if you were willing to wait til the last minute to book. You'll hear people say that you are nickel-and-dimed to death, but that's fairly common on all the lines and there are ways to avoid that if you really want to.
We tend to enjoy the non-Freestyle experience more, but of course Norwegian is the pioneer of Freestyling. Having said that, the Dawn is a fine ship, well-maintained and clean and the service was also quite good. We had an inside stateroom on the 8th floor and our room stewards (Wayne and Frankie) did a terrific job. We don't bother with a outside view or balcony because we're hardly ever in the room anyway. The only drawback is not having the light outside as a signal to rise and shine, but with the wake up call service, do you really need that? We ate primarily in the Venetian dining room, which is lovely, and the service there was excellent as well. It did seem as if the better you dressed for meals, the more likely they were to seat you at a window table. Nothing wrong with that. We've seen the food quality and preparation decline a bit over time since our first cruise with Norwegian but it seems now as if it's back to its earlier standards. However, if you're looking for top quality food R/C was better. We do not pay extra to dine in the specialty restaurants, but don't bother with the Garden Cafe either (no variety). We were (somewhat) surprised to see the extra charges now applied to the indoor pool and sauna; however since we went in the third week of September it was still warm enough to enjoy the outdoor (heated) pool and hot tubs instead. A bonus: They weren't crowded and it was easy to snag a couple of lounge chairs.
One thing we did notice is that the amount of on-board activities has been declining. There's simply not as much to do as there used to be. We especially missed the lack of dance lessons, as this is something we've always enjoyed. There were some great "NCL-U" sessions which offered a kind of history lesson of the locations we were visiting; this was especially valuable given the historic ports of our trip. We learned a lot. The old standbys like the so-called *Art*" auction, murder mystery dinner and portrait taking are all still there, but the new thing seems to be the push of the new Cruise Rewards program (they give you a $$ credit for booking your next cruise while still onboard). The program itself sounds fine, but we didn't need to hear about it all day, every day. A little more subtlety would have gone a long way. The headline entertainment was a little weak and the last night's program was advertised as "the world premiere of Fountains"....strange, we saw Fountains on our last two trips at least.....but granted it is funny. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to catch it. Some things, like the "Not-So-Newlywed" game are standard on every cruise, and this one didn't disappoint - it's always great for a laugh. The benefits of the Latitude program have dwindled to next to nothing. A nice touch, however, was being served champagne upon embarkation, and you didn't have to be a Latitudes member to enjoy it.
Overall, we really enjoyed this cruise and would recommend it for the budget-conscious traveller looking to depart from the east coast.
Pros: Great itinerary/ports
Cons: Declining activities