Excellent Family Cruise
We are a family of first time cruisers. My wife and I, 3 children - daughter 10, daughter 8, and son 6, cruised on Norwegian Dawn on August 14 to Bermuda.
We were a little hesitant to cruise with our children, and a little hesitant overall based on some of the reviews I had read prior to departure.
Each one of us had a wonderful time. We had two "sideways" inside cabins on Deck 12. Perfect location - on the same deck as the main pool, library, Garden Buffet, Spa (adults only), kids' Splash Academy, and T-Rex pool (for kids). The main pool area was often busy and loud, but once through the sliding doors towards the cabins a sound could not be heard.
I had read a lot about this being an "older" ship and in need of updating and repair. In our experience this could not be further from the truth. The ship was immaculate, tastefully decorated, elegant, and staff were ever-present - cleaning , helping, and, with VERY few exceptions, quite friendly. We all loved the ship, the crew, and all of the many different locations onboard one could find to relax and enjoy. There was ALWAYS something (sometimes too many choices) going on to satisfy everyone of every age. As beautiful as Bermuda is, and it most certainly is picturesque, all of us found the Dawn to be the highlight of the vacation.
Splash Academy was absolutely flawless. Our kids can be a bit picky and we were anxious they would like it and want to attend. They LOVED it and wanted to go almost anytime they could. The staff didn't just keep them in the Academy, they had excellent activities, themes, adventures, and even had the kids put on a circus show in the main Theatre on Thursday. Awesome for the kids. Very safe, adults can't even enter the Academy after Day 1, wrist bands, passwords and room keys all utilized for security. First rate in every way.
The food was outstanding. We ate at Venetian, Bamboo, Blue Lagoon, and The Garden Buffet. The buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner had an incredible variety of dishes from angus burgers to Asian and Indian dishes I can't pronounce. My wife and I were amazed at how fresh, varied and delicious each of the offerings were. And that was at the Buffet!! As an aside the Buffet is HUGE!! Really can't overstate how great it was- made to order waffles, omelettes, carving stations each night, Lamb, Prime Rib, Turkey... also nice that it was open from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm. Whew!
Venetian was beautiful. Food was excellent, with good choices available. A little tougher for us with younger children, but a definite can't miss multiple visit choice.
Bamboo was nice. Not as great in terms of atmosphere and/or menu selections, but the food was delicious and, of course, you can order as much as you care to eat.
Blue Lagoon was a favorite. Great atmosphere off of Atrium, food was delicious (especially the buffalo wings) and was so nice to have a couple of late night/early morning stops there as a treat. In reviews I read prior to cruise I got the impression it was more "cafeteria" style, but it is not. Sit down, waiter, menu.
We did not get any beverage package. Kids did not need at all. Unlimited 24/7 milk, choc. milk, juice, flavored water (delicious strawberry and mango...), hot chocolate, tea... Also my wife and I are BIG coffee drinkers and were very pleasantly surprised by the unlimited and very easy access to coffee all over the ship. It was Lavazza brand, and it was very good.
Room 12307 and 12039. Perfect for the 5 of us to "share" plenty of room to move around and unpack. Small Fridge was very handy. Simple but, very clean, bathroom well appointed and our steward Alberto was outstanding. Was always available. Friendly, responsive and went above and beyond for us without our asking. Cleaned room each morning, and turn down service with towel animals and chocolates each night. Remember these we were the least expensive Inside Cabins on the ship!
Bermuda was incredibly beautiful. Horseshoe Bay the best beach I've ever seen. Fish were all around, water was everything you imagine it to be. Gorgeously clear and turquoise.
This Cruise exceeded all expectations. Ship, food, and crew.
A few suggestions/tips: Embarkation was easy. Call up groups by #'s based on priority, not by arrival time. Got there at 1030 on ship by 11:45.
Disembarkation: Take the last color off ship (around 10) relax enjoy breakfast, coffee and last mimosa and let everyone else stand in line before you walk off the ship with a few other smart people.
Bring power strip. No need for beach towels. Bring goggles/mask for swimming seeing tropical fish. See Elements and David Davinci (magician). Both shows incredible. Elements was Cirque caliber believe it or not. Snorkel Bay was ok, but would never go again. Too many other spectacular beaches even if you can't just walk. Go to the "far side" of Horseshoe Bay beach. Worth the extra bit of walk as there is cove after cove and bay after bay on the other side. It was like having our own private cove away from the crowds. My wife and I had one "date night" and went to Cagney's. Worth every penny (upcharge of 29 per person). Apps, soup, entrée, dessert all excellent. My wife got 16 oz. boneless ribeye and said it was best she ever had. I got 18 oz. bone-in ribeye and it was hard to disagree. 250 dollar meal at Morton's or Capital Grill. Bring case of water for in-room fridge. Get room on deck 12. Perfect location rooms all new as of 2011 refurbishment. Our big splurge was the Thermal Suite on-board. Absolutely beautiful. Indoor pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, private changing rooms and showers. Quiet sitting areas with best view on ship Floor to ceiling windows Aft. Teak loungers, fresh robes and towels, live plants, great tea and ambient music floating through the silence was serenity at its best. Only able to use for approximately 5 hours but would definitely do it again. 139 dollars on ship; 119 if booked before cruise. My wife and I got a taste of the "Rich and Famous" with that. Located directly under kids section of ship too, so that was a nice plus.
We will definitely return on Norwegian, and thank Vacation Outlet for making the process so easy.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Tips included in review. One other here: We got ear patch on Amazon and they worked like a charm (I think). None of us were remotely sea sick.