May 2016 - 10 Night Western Caribbean (Tampa Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Dawn
Last year I was planning to write a review about my bad experience with Norwegian Sun during my cruise to Alaska but later decided not to do it. This year I took another cruise with NCL on Norwegian Dawn to the western Caribbean. It was the last trip of Norwegian Dawn before the multimillion dollar renovation and it came as no surprise that the ship was outdated and stained. But my review isn’t going to be about that, just let me mention that we did not use the pool and jacuzzis because they were old and dirty. Hopefully these problems will be fixed during the renovation, so there is no need to mention them.
But the renovation project by itself brought up another completely different problem normally not encountered on other ships. NCL decided to save time and money and start renovation during the cruise by performing some work at sea. It was very inconvenient and annoying having piles of plywood stocked on decks, workers removing old paint and repainting, and so on. Some of the passengers reported workers entering their cabins to perform work on their balconies.
Lesson learned: do not book a trip on a ship right before it is scheduled for dry dock.
Now on to things that can’t be fixed by renovation. First of all, I could not stop comparing this ship to a Norwegian Sun. Even though the Norwegian Sun is smaller than the Norwegian Dawn (78,309 GT vs 92,250 GT) inside, the ocean view and balcony cabins on the Sun are bigger than on the Dawn. Our tiny oceanview cabin was entirely occupied by the bed, leaving us no room for any movement other than going in and out.
The cabin service was almost nonexistent. On the sixth day of our cruise we ran out of soap - both hard soap and body wash. We discovered this only when we returned from the offshore excursion, and it took three phone calls to the Help desk and a lot of waiting to get the supplies.
The entertainment was boring even compared to the Sun and the TV on board the ship was running same the movies all 10 days.
We all know Latitudes Rewards Program is not the best in the industry. For example, as a silver member on Cunard I receive one free hour of Internet, and I do not have to buy any of their Internet packages. As a silver member on NCL I receive only 30 minutes free and only if I buy the 250 minute Internet package. But when I bought the 250 minute Internet package on Norwegian Dawn I did not receive my Latitudes rewards. I tried to talk to several people: the Internet manager, Help desk, and the Hotel manager without any results. The Internet manager I talked to first was very rude and did not listen to my complaint at all.
To be objective I should mention a few good things about this cruise. First and foremost the food was not bad at all. We loved the Le Bistro and Modesto restaurants and the food in the main dining restaurant and buffet was OK.
Of course buffet could have had more variety, and some improvements could be made, like advising the waiters not to grab plates without asking permission.
The ports of calls we visited during this cruise were also good. In my opinion it was a very good combination of exciting destinations to reach in one cruise. But this brings me to another matter often discussed on various forums by fellow passengers: not enough time in port. Even when our ship was scheduled to be in most ports from 8 AM until 5 PM the real timeframe for the passengers to be offshore was from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. In most ports sometimes even less. This is definitely not long enough to enjoy time offshore in a new port. Sometimes the distance to the next destination dictates a short time period that the ship can stay in port. Not in our case. Four of our ports of calls where in very close proximity to each other, sometimes less than 200 miles
(the distance from Costa Maya to Cozumel) but we still did not stay in port long enough.
I wish Cruise companies will reconsider their position on this matter.