The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western

Experience: 2-3 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 13

Overall Rating:

3 out of 5
Verified Review
7 Night Western Caribbean (New Orleans Roundtrip)
Sail Date: March 13, 2016
Ship: Norwegian Dawn
Cabin Type: Balcony
Cabin Number: 9698
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 2 years ago

  1) Ship surprisingly good shape.
  2) Clean and well staffed.
  3) Love having a balcony! Roomy, and have a nice view, inside & out.
  4) Great food! Seriously. No bad meals, the entire trip. Top notch!
  4a) And the service staff in the restaurants were really great.
  5) Steakhouse was excellent.
  6) Motion of ship pretty slight, even in larger swells. Didn't have trouble sleeping, even in choppy seas.
  7) Room steward was fabulous!
  8) Cool that there's a bow cam. Wish it was clearer. HD upgrade?
  9) The nightly shows in the theater were quite high caliber. We thoroughly enjoyed them. That David De Vinci & wife show is great!

  1) Sales speech over room intercom that woke everyone @ 9:45 am, on the first day at sea!?!  Seriously!?!  WTF? Someone should be fired over that.
  2) Workers cleaning decks above ours drops water, sand and debris on our deck almost daily! Really?! Could they not coordinate a "top-down" cleaning method, so that all deck balconies get cleaned? I know our own room steward had already cleaned ours on at least 2 of those occasions. 
  3) Pool crowded with rowdy people most of the day.
  4) Loud music poolside, obnoxious and sometimes even live - & obnoxious!
  5) Bow cam poor image.
  6) Maintenance of ship during port calls disturbs guests who have stayed aboard.
  7) Balcony glass doors and outside (on deck) glass quite dirty, and outside ones never cleaned on entire cruise. (Balcony door glass cleaned a number of times.)
  8) Cabin needed more American style electrical plugs. There was only one. We have 2 cell phones and a tablet.
  9) Like that the ship's position and speed and weather are available on a TV channel...but the info was pretty inaccurate...especially the weather. Speed often missing.


  1) When tendering, NCL takes all of their own shore excursion people first. Expect a few hours before "your time" to get to shore. Makes it difficult to impossible to use a non NCL tour operator at those ports.
  2) The "parade of staff" through the theater, so that everyone can "thank them" by applause was embarrassing, for BOTH the passengers and the staff. Whose idiotic idea was that? I work in a public service position, and I don't work for applause. Sure, a thank you is great. But, I do what I do because I like the work and they pay me to do it!
  3) A LOT of sales pitches. I mean, a LOT! The "assistant cruise director" is essentially just a salesman. Did you know that they have over 100 staff members dedicated to the cassino?! Does that tell you how much money they make off of it??
  4) Difficult to get reservations for the "specialty" restaurants. Makes it hard to use that dining "credit" !!
  5) And, you lose what you don't use. Plus, corrections to your account must be made on board the ship...which means long lines the morning of departure.
  6) Apparently, they are counting on you not being willing to wait in line, or just hope you won't notice the discrepancies!


Port Notes:

  Cozumel) Beautiful Island, but not very big or populated. Lots to do, in different excursions. Mayan ruins are small and insignificant historically. Easy to get tours off of the ship, and they are much cheaper than aboard. 6 cruise ships here at same time!

Belize City) Again, beautiful place. Very small and unpopulated country. Most people speak English.  Using the tenders a pain. Be advised that NCL will give all of their own tours priority in getting off the ship.
Small tourist area at the port, with loud music. 3 cruise ships here. Tour guides very proud of their country. Don't recommend that you wander alone, as Belize has had violence issues.

Roatan, Honduras) Best port yet! 😄 Absolutely gorgeous scenery. Clean port, dock and pier. Nice shops right there. And lots of tours available for much cheaper than aboard the ship. Glass bottom boat tour was awesome. Took about 500 pictures. Also did the monkey and bird place, and around island tour.

Costa Maya) Unless you are into Mayan ruins, this is totally a "stay aboard the ship" port. But: There's a very small village within walking distance, or a $2 (per person) cab ride away. It has nice beaches and a lot of people who want to sell you trinkets & souvenirs, or drinks & food. It was pleasant to sit under an umbrella and drink soda.


OVERALL:  I DID enjoy the cruise, and will cruise again...maybe even with Norwegian.  But, I did want you to be aware of all those annoying things.

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
ALL of the food was great. Even in the "lowly" Garden Café, which is a simple buffet.

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
We didn't do a lot of them, but what we did was fun. Went to a number of the "main" evening shows in the theater. High quality.


5 out of 5
Make sure you see the David De Vinci magic / illusionist show. 1st rate.

Children's Programs

Did not use any.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Top notch. No question. They are glad you are there, and show it. Sampson, our room steward was fabulous.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
Not a new ship, but in fantastic shape.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
I really liked having a balcony. It makes the room seem much bigger. And, you have some privacy, if you just want to "hang out" in your room. You can still sit and watch the world go by...

Ship Tip

Lots of stairs and elevators. A room near them is beneficial, but not too close, or you may get some "people noise" from there. Use the top levels, when watching the boat coming in or out of a port. Nice views. Level 13, but accessible from 12, next to the pool.

1 out of 5
Alaska Airlines connections in and out of here for catching a cruise pretty inconvenient. Had to arrive a day early. Then, on departure, had nothing to do with out bags! Could not check them early, since Alaska Airlines had no one at their counter.
5 out of 5
Shore excursions a LOT cheaper off of the ship.
1 out of 5
Tendering a pain. Slow, and cumbersome.
5 out of 5
Best stop of the trip! Beautiful island. Lots to do.
3 out of 5
Not really a lot here, unless you want to go tour the Mayan ruins.
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