NCL Dawn Cruising Review

Norwegian Cruise Lines

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San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola, Great Stirrup Cay

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Embarkation Port of Miami, Florida

Embarkation 1/5 Saturday, April 19, 2003
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Miami
Embarkation Port of Miami
At Sea
San Juan
St. Thomas
Tortola
At Sea
Great Stirrup Cay
Disembarkation

Taxi to Cruise Ship Pier

Keycard

Departing at 11:30 from the hotel, the tax ride was about 20 minutes long and the final fare was $14.75 NCL has preregistration available via the website below. Note: if you are driving to the pier and wish to park the week there, you will be charged on entrance by the port authority (keep in mind they only accept cash, no credit cards).

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NCL Advance Registration

Embarkation

The Dawn at the Pier

I arrived at noon to the cruise ship pier, amidst a flurry of activity. This is the time when the ship has a short window to do a turnaround. Guests depart from the last cruise, and are usually off by 10am, along with about 2,000 bags. Then the ship is resupplied with pallets of food, sprits, and dry goods, enough to last seven days. Before entering the building, we were handed a health survey (which was never collected) because of recent SARs outbreaks around the world. We were also instructed to fill out a BVI immigration form, which was not included in the cruise prepackage. Once inside, even with the masses of people, I got signed in, and had a digital photo taken within about 15 minutes. They swipe your credit card for onboard charges at this point, which efficiently processes everything you need.

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Boarding the Ship

Front Desk Staff

After a security check, I boarded on deck six for my cabin on deck 8, 8636. My first impression of the interior of the ship was awe. The center atrium was skirted by beautiful cherry paneling, stained glass (painted) lights, and a wonderful terraced system of lounges and restaurants. This is the newest ship I have ever been on, first sailing four months prior. I got to my cabin on deck 8, to find that it was not yet ready for me, so I went into the center atrium lounge to type some notes on first impressions. There's no real advantage to boarding early, since nothing is ready yet. I'd recommend enjoying Miami, get a late checkout at your hotel, and getting to the cruise ship pier around 3pm. I did this on the Norwegian Sun a few weeks prior and breezed through everything- no lines and everything was ready.

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Exploring the ship

Cabin 8636

The ship is huge, and immaculately designed. In every public space your eyes are just illuminated from one interesting decoration to the next. A grand piano in the center atrium provides elegant background music as you begin your cruise.

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Cast Off

South Beach as Seen From the Ship Channel

After the mandatory lifeboat drill, the ship departed the pier around 5:00 pm. It was a beautiful sunny, South Florida day, and as the ship passed South Beach at the end of the Government Cut channel, you could see hordes of people enjoying the Easter Weekend near the water.

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Dinner at Cagney's Steak House

Steak and Lobster

After my ritual sunset martini at Spinnaker's (top of the ship forward deck 12) I took my group out to dinner at Cagney's Steak House. Earlier, I had purchased a "soda sticker" for $28.75 thinking that a few soda's a day at $1.50 plus auto gratuity would add up after a while. The decor at Cagney's is just beautiful. NCL has done such a wonderful job with this ship, the interior appointments really stand out. I ordered the crab cakes and surf-and-turf. Regular entree's are $17.50 and mine was $25.00 (they make no differentiation in prices for kids). The food was very good, but not as good as my dinner the night before at Smith and Wollensky's. The service was mediocre, and I could barely understand my waiter (combination of the Croatian language barrier and the loudness in the steakhouse). Interesting note- if you want another portion of the steak, you have to pay another $17.50 I read somewhere that the specialty restaurants had a cover mainly for crowd control, don't believe it. I love the variety of restaurants, but again, I don't like paying for my food if I've already paid for the cruise. While it's a small detail, since I was picking up the cover for the group of us at the table, I wanted to use my soda stamp to cover the $10 in sodas consumed (I figured that my investment would be paid off in a hurry at this rate). Wrong. It only works in "some" bars and only if you tell them in advance. Of course, nobody mentions this when you get it. So far, my soda stamp, for all-you-can-consume soda, has gone from $28.75, to $38.75 and climbing. What I thought was a good deal, didn't turn out as advertised. There's nothing "free" in Freestyle cruising !

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Spinnaker's

Spinnaker's

After dinner went to listen to the piano bar player on Deck 6, then went up to Spinnaker's for the rest of the evening for enjoyable cover-band music and then later on it was a DJ spinning tunes. Spinnaker's seemed to be the late-evening gathering place for most people, and it's set up for a variety of entertainment. I love it, because it's surrounded by windows overlooking the ocean during the day, and in the evening, it's terraced levels is perfect for singles, couples and groups to enjoy any form of musical or dancing venues. The decor in this room is quite interesting. Again, NCL has outdone themselves. There are a variety of unique chairs which are both a charm to look at, and very posh to sit in. Extremely comfortable.

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Late Evening

Unique Chairs at Spinnaker's

Getting back to the room at 2:30am... I tried the room service, which was there in about 20 minutes. The ship was having some movement to it, and the room was creaking a bit (which surprised me since it's a brand new ship). The azipod propulsion system is completely vibration free and very quiet. It's so quiet, it's noticeable.

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Dining at Cagney's

Cagney's

Cagney's Steakhouse onboard the Dawn is appointed with rich Cherry wood paneling.

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Dining at Cagney's

Cagney's

Cagney's is located aft of amidships, and is next to the elevators at the top of the Grand Atrium.

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Keycard

KeyCard

At the pier you are issued a Keycard which not only opens your cabin room door, but is used as your onboard credit card.

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Latitudes

Latitudes

Latitudes members have some discounts available on the ship. The biggest and best discount is a 20% discount on drinks at Spinnaker's. On the Sun this discount was automatically applied, but on the Dawn, you have to tell them you want the discount, or you won't get it, even though everything is computerized (at least this was my experience). You get invited to a Latitudes member cocktail party where NCL sells you future cruises. Keep an eye on prices, because from what I've seen is that the first cabins sold on the cruise are the most expensive. As time goes on, and if the ship does not fill up, huge discounts are offered a few months before the ship sails. The best bookings are through the mega-cruise shops and Travelocity. Booking through the NCL online site will results in the most expensive cruise, while booking through other sources will result in immediate 30% or more savings.

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Daily Newsletter

Newsletter

What to know what is happening ? A daily newsletter is provided in your cabin, with events and times.

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Additional Photographs: Embarkation 1/5

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Photo Highlights from this Day ... for all photos, please click on the < or > as indicated above. There are as many as five sets of photos for each day of the cruise.

Related Information

General Info
NCL Dawn Information
San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola, Great Stirrup Cay
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