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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Cruise Line

December 16-18, 2002
Christening 'Sneak Preview' Cruise

by Linda Coffman

The "Berth" of a New Dawn—NORWEGIAN DAWN

Broadway stars weren't the only ones shining on a crisp New York night. All eyes were on Norwegian Cruise Line's glittering new ship as Norwegian Dawn made her heralded debut performance in the first of her two new homeports.

Norwegian Dawn pays homage to her dual homeports, depicting her innovative itineraries with evocative artwork on her hull. The starboard side sports playful dolphins reflecting the ship's Caribbean itinerary from Miami and the port side features New York City's leading lady, the Statue of Liberty, signifying the ship's Bahamas and Florida itinerary from The Big Apple.

The ship's hull also features reproduced signatures of 20th Century masters Renoir, Matisse, Van Gogh, Monet and Pop icon Andy Warhol. Norwegian Dawn has a stunning collection of original oil paintings by the Impressionist artists in its signature Le Bistro restaurant. Elsewhere on the ship passengers find a collection of Pop Art featuring original signed works by Warhol.

Purpose-built for NCL's Freestyle Cruising concept, Norwegian Dawn has more of everything passengers could possibly desire. More dining options, a variety of entertainment selections, an enormous spa, and expanded facilities for children and teens. All of this on a ship dedicated to the freedom of choice. Finally, passengers can tailor a cruise vacation to fit their personal tastes, not someone else's. 

Norwegian Dawn's array of traditional and exotic eateries tempts even the least adventurous palate to sample the cornucopia of international cuisines. Ten eateries and only seven nights to try them them all—it's a floating food festival! What's your pleasure?

  • Venetian—One of two main restaurants with an opulent Venetian-inspired decor and six-course menus created by master chefs, members of the international gourmet society, Chaîne des Rôisseurs 
  • Aqua—The second main restaurant serving contemporary cuisine in an equally contemporary atmosphere, featuring menu choices that range from the popular President's Menu to light, healthy dishes
  • Cagney's Steak House—Aged prime beef, seared to perfection, just the way you like it
  • Le Bistro—Boasting an exquisite collection of Impressionist paintings, NCL's signature upscale French Mediterranean restaurant features gourmet French cuisine
  • Bamboo—Gourmet Asian dining featuring Japanese-Thai-Chinese cuisine and a sushi and sashimi bar
  • Impressions—Reminiscent of Paris in the 1900's, this art-inspired restaurant serves traditional and modern fare
  • Salsa—Overlooking the Grand Atrium, an authentic tapas bar offering a taste of Spain, the Middle East and Mexico with live entertainment and a menu of hot and cold tapas that changes daily
  • La Trattoria—A traditional Italian restaurant where pasta and crispy salads are specialties and authentic Italian desserts are squisito
  • Garden Café/Kid's Café—Buffet style indoor/outdoor eatery open around the clock with special kid-sized serving buffet and tables
  • Blue Lagoon—Diner-style eatery offering snacks and fast-food around the clock

For attacks of the munchies, head for Bimini Bar and Grill, the lively Key West-style beach bar overlooking the Oasis Pool for snacks or satisfy your sweet tooth with ice cream, sherbets, and sundaes at Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar. Of course, room service never closes and dining on one's private balcony is a sublime treat. 

While there is a charge for the upscale restaurants, no one is pressured to dine in them. Colin Veitch, President & CEO of NCL, explains the dining fees are levied for capacity control, not exclusivity. On my short cruise, the specialty restaurants were booked solid. I sampled Ginza, as well as the Versailles and Aqua restaurants, Market Café, Java Café, and room service. I haven't been able to look at my scale without guilt—I think it was the caviar and goose liver pâté canapés that did in my diet, though.]

~ Venetian Restaurant ~
My choice for most elegant meal setting

This is Freestyle Cruising and passengers can choose resort casual attire every night or dress up for a special dinner. Formal attire during one evening is optional with one or more restaurants set aside for those who don't want to forgo this shipboard tradition. The only "dress code" caveat is that no jeans, t-shirts, shorts, cut-offs, tank tops are allowed in any of the restaurants at dinner. Most of my fellow passengers selected an array of "country club casual" outfits, ranging from pant-and-top ensembles to cocktail dresses. Except for a handful of gentlemen in tuxedos, I spotted very few ties but numerous sport coats. Pack light and think mix 'n match with various accessories. Without assigned dinner partners, it's unlikely that anyone will notice a "repeated" garment.

Freestyle Cruising offers the flexibility of dining when you wish and with whom you choose. What a concept... eating when you're actually hungry! However, cruise traditionalists who prefer the same table and waiter every night at a certain time can simply inform the Maitre d' and those  arrangements will be made. For parents who want to share a romantic dinner for two, the Kid's Crew program and group babysitting solves the problem of child care.

So many categories, how can you pick one? Although there are over two dozen fare categories listed in the brochures, Norwegian Dawn's accommodations range from Standard Inside and Oceanview Staterooms to Oceanview staterooms with Balconies, Mini-Suites, Penthouses, Romance Suites, Owner's suites, and the fantastic Garden Villas. More than 70% of all staterooms are outside.

All staterooms have gleaming light cherry wood cabinetry and paneling accents, a small refrigerator and personal safe for valuables, as well as in-cabin coffee service to heat water for tea or instant coffee. A professional style hairdryer with real power is mounted over each dressing table. Bathroom amenities include shampoo and soap dispensers and hold your hats... most bathrooms are split into sections! Yes, the toilet is separated from the sink area by a wall and sliding glass door. The shower is roomy and also has a sliding glass door. No more clinging shower curtain!

At 172 square feet, the standard Oceanview Staterooms are generous. Even Inside Staterooms are cheery and the  clever use of primary colors and strategically placed mirrors achieves an open feeling.

One of the most desirable of all stateroom amenities is a balcony and a whopping 70% of Norwegian Star's outside staterooms have them. Book yours fast—Oceanview Staterooms with Balconies are a hot seller. Mini-Suites with a balcony are even more desirable with additional square footage, generous storage, and bathtubs.

Stepping up in posh and space, Penthouses and Owner's Suites are some of the chicest digs at sea. To tempt newlyweds and couples celebrating a second honeymoon, the choice of elegant Romance Suites with their soft billowy fabrics afford a luxurious hideaway for two. Penthouses, named for gems and artists, come in a variety of decor styles and a knowledgeable travel agent is a necessity when selecting one.

~ Garden Villa ~ 
Private Garden & Patio

The pièce de résistance are the two Garden Villas. High atop the Norwegian Star, they are the ultimate in opulence. With living room, dining room, three bedrooms with luxury baths, and more toys than I could count, they are a floating fantasy. Occupants need only step outside to enjoy a relaxing soak in their hot tub or al fresco dining in their private garden. Have the butler serve cocktails while I slip into my specially-designed robe (a silky fabric lined in terrycloth). Okay... I'm through daydreaming, but it is a lovely castle in the air. Mr. Veitch confided they are not at a loss for occupants, even at rates that make my gold card tremble.

For large families, interconnecting standard staterooms and suites can create a two to five bedroom area and passengers with disabilities haven't been overlooked—twenty cabins of various types have been designed for their special needs.

Continued --> Norwegian Dawn Preview (Part 2)

Photos © Author's Collection & Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

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