Dec. 9–16, 2007
by Mary & Vincent
The Norwegian Dawn is a colorful ship
with a hull decorated with streamers and leaping dolphins, which has
been in service five years, yet
it doesn't show its age. This was our fifth Norwegian cruise and our
first on the Dawn. We had a wonderful much needed rest and made
several new friends.
Captain Hakan Svedung runs a tight
ship, with high priority on safety. Monday, the first full day at
sea, he announced a change in course in order to avoid Tropical
Storm Olga. We no longer headed for Samana, Dominican Republic, a
pity since there are usually whale sightings in the bay. Instead, we
were off to Tortola, BVI in relatively high seas. We also met Hotel
Director Jacques Le Tallec, who proved to be every bit as charming
as his name. He aims to please and to that end he keeps his
attention on the needs and wishes of the passengers. He visited us
in our mini suite and asked how we were getting along and if we
needed anything. Vincent mentioned that there were no upholstered
chairs and “Presto” two comfortable armchairs appeared in just a few
minutes. We also met the Concierge Yahira Suazo and she was not only
beautiful, but very helpful and accommodating.
Floridians have the distinct
advantage over others when it comes to cruising--we don't have to
take a plane to start our vacations, But, we still have to brave
I-95 and its propensity for traffic jams and time delaying
accidents. On Sunday mornings all this is much easier. From our home
in Boca Raton, it is a mere forty-five minute drive to the Port of
Miami; on Dec. 9th we
arrived at the pier at 12:45 and had a rather slow but thorough
We were in a special check-in line for
wheelchair passengers. There were mixed signals from the Pier
personnel and the Norwegian personnel. The ship's workers were
attempting to streamline the process, while the Pier personnel were
slower and less organized: i.e., “Wait here!” “Come forward!” “Wait
there!” And finally, “Come forward” Our photos were taken, and we
went all the way to the end of the pier to collect the photo
boarding pass. Then we had to return all the way back to board. The
logistics for this process should be improved. The on ramps were
very steep, so if you are in a wheelchair put on your safety belt.
They were even more necessary during debarkation. We took
thirty-five minutes for check-in and one hour total to board.
We wanted to check on reservations for the
Venetian Dining Room, but were told that there were none, just come
early to request a table near the entrance. Freestyle Cruising is a
plus for cruisers since they are not held to specific times or
places for dinner, rather each evening can be a special dinner
unique from all others on board.
The Norwegian Dawn was built in Pappenburg, Germany and entered
service December 2002. She is 965 feet long and 105 feet in the
beam. With a tonnage of 92,250, her draft is only 27 feet and her
top speed is 25 knots. The Dawn has 15 passenger decks, 12
elevators, 1,112 cabins, a guest capacity of 2224 and a crew of
1,126 (a good guest to crew ratio).
The ships newspaper, “FREESTYLE DAILY”
lists all twenty-two dining venues
and their hours. Like the
personality of this ship (easy going), there are a whole range of
dining venues from the very formal Venetian Dining Room to the very
casual Blue Lagoon. We did our utmost to try them all and were
amazed by the changing ambiance from one site to another.
Midship is the airy atrium with its many
crystal sculptures. This cruise the Christmas decorations added to
the ship's beauty. Like all Norwegian ships the decor is simple,
with beautiful woods included. We especially enjoyed the Venetian
with its aft wall of windows each decorated with a huge lit wreath.
Mini suite 11616 on Deck 11 is huge and sparingly furnished, which
is perfect for this wheelchair accessible cabin. However, the
entrance is situated in a narrow corridor which makes it difficult
to enter and exit in a wheelchair. This cabin could have been
positioned several feet either to the left or the right and thus
avoided this problem, since the corridor widens out in either
direction, except for this one bottle neck.
When entering on the right there is a exceedingly
large bathroom with safety rails all around. There is a huge shower
with a seat and rails--very handy--a single sink and two
shelves for toiletries. Next there is a king size bed with the
ubiquitous heavy white quilt. We had this last item replaced with a
top sheet and light weight blanket. The bed is flanked by two night
tables each with two shelves, but no drawers. There are nice reading
lamps on the wall.
When entering on the left there are
shelves and a triple armoire with hanger sections and more shelves.
Next there is a vanity/desk with coffee/tea maker plus amenities.
There is a long and rather firm couch in green; then a TV console
with three drawers, a safe, a small refrigerator, and then a
kitchenette-style set of a table and two chairs. Of course, there were
also the two armchairs which Hotel Director Mr. Le Tallec provided. There are
a wall of windows to the balcony, which is twice the size of a
regular one. On it were two recliners, two chairs, and a table. How
The room had lots of warm cherry wood
and blue carpeting with a starfish motif. Our stewards were
Henriques and Marlon, both of who were very helpful and cordial.
They aimed to please and did so very well.
FOOD & SERVICE
The service was always tip top and given with a smile. Freestyle
cruising is excellent, but passengers should always be aware that
they may not encounter the same waiters more than once. Vincent
always like to tip individually for excellent service over and above
the prepaid gratuities. We certainly enjoyed the variety of the many
restaurants: Le Bistro, French; Cagney's, American Steakhouse,
featuring surf and turf and live lobsters; Impressions, Italian with
an excellent antipasti Cart; Bamboo, Asian Fusion; Teppanyaki,
Japanese; and the Venetian, Continental. Executive Chef Christophe
Belin should be proud of the richness of the variety and superb
execution of the various cuisines. He has the portion sizes exact!
On many cruises we have complained of grossly over sized portions;
we have even asked if we could order ½ portions, or we resorted to
sharing an entree to avoid wasting good food. But, Chef Christophe
has presented the perfectly sized portions. For those really big
eaters (gourmands) who want more, they will be happy to know that
they can order as many appetizers, soups, salads, pasta dishes,
entrees and desserts as they desire. They will all be brought with a
We did our level best to sample it all
and the following are some items that should not be missed:
At Le Bistro, try the lobster &
scallop martini, Escargot Bourguignonne, Warm goat cheese tart,
Onion soup, Braised Short rib and Grilled Beef Filet, and for
dessert Apple Tartin a la mode; at Bamboo, the Asian restaurant, try
the Edamame (fresh Soybeans), Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura (light as
feathers), Spring rolls, Pot stickers, Corn & Crab soup, Teriyaki
steak and for dessert order the succulent Banana Spring roll with
vanilla ice cream and strawberry dip. Forget the Matcha ice cream
(green tea). Almost every one who tried it at Teppanyaki ended up
leaving it. We were told one must cultivate a taste for it, but at
this time our taste buds were not pleased with it. Don't forget to
say hello to Asst. Maitre D'Rattaya Boonyrat who adds grace and
charm to the experience. We are also grateful to restaurant Manager
Kaya Aydin who is responsible for all restaurants aboard which run
like clockwork. We spoke with him on several occasions and
congratulated him on his great accomplishment.
On this cruise we did not have the
opportunity to dine at Cagney's Steakhouse, but from our last cruise
on the Norwegian Jewel we remember that we had an excellent dinner.
Cagney's menu has some of our favorite dishes: Great Jumbo Lump Crab
cakes and Cardini's Original Caesar salad; a 14oz. Prime Rib, a
12 oz. Veal chop; desserts include N.Y. Cheesecake, Banana Foster
Flambé and a terrific Artisan Cheese Trolley.
Expressions is the Italian restaurant
where reservations are required, but there is no fee. The antipasti
are served table side from a food cart; the minestrone is
recommended; let your imagination run wild and create your own pasta
course from several types of pasta and as many sauces! The Veal
Marsala was great, and for dessert Tiramisu.
In the Venetian
Dining Room Vincent was happy to once again have the potato gnocchi
with Gorgonzola sauce. It was excellent! The Freestyle Cruising on
Norwegian allows passengers to act as if they are in a small city.
Thus, Norwegian has created the variety of venues on its ships which
are undeniably “Cities Afloat.”
The must not miss spectacular Jean Ann Ryan Dance Company, they are
wonderfully capable athletic, acrobatic and graceful dancers. The
singers are in fine voice , but once again extremely loud! A sound
check is definitely in order. The “FREESTYLE DAILY” nicely lists all
the special activities and parties on board, while on the back were
listed Bar, Restaurant, and Library hours and locations. There are
excellent Spa & Gym facilities plus the usual constant array of
daily activities: Bingo (high purses), Bridge & Chess Tournaments,
Basketball and Trivia games, etc, etc.
PORTS OF CALL
Miami, FL Depart: 4:00pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. Samara, Dominican Republic: Canceled due to Tropical
Day 4. Tortola, BVI Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 3:30pm
The ship docked at the cruise terminal in Road Town, a short
distance from downtown where the shops are.
St. Thomas, USVI Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 3:30pm
Mandatory US Immigration inspection for all guests. Great port for
shopping. Mary's favorite shop: Mr. Tablecloth.
Day 6. At Sea
Day 7. Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas Arrive: 9:00am Depart:
NCL's private island has beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear
Miami, FL Arrive: 7:00am
The morning of debarkation, if you prefer, continental breakfast may
be served in your stateroom. This is a rare occurrence since most
cruise lines do not have room service on debarkation day. They also
serve breakfast in the main dining room and at the buffet. We
arranged to have wheelchair assistance from our room, so in less
than half an hour we completed debarkation and by 9:30 we were on
our way home. Excellent, fast, simple and well assisted. Kudos
to the crew.
This was a very good cruise. Even though both of us have been
afflicted by limited mobility problems, we managed to get around the
ship, at times sharing Mary's motorized wheelchair. Rest and
relaxation have been the key words on this cruise, without much
physical activities and island tours, we have enjoyed the “Free
We'll be cruising on NCL ships again,
while on board we have booked a future cruise. Our next cruise,
however, will be on Costa Fortuna Jan. 27th, and on Feb.
19th we'll embark on the Star Princess for a memorable
cruise to Antarctica. Happy Cruising!