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15 days on the NORWEGIAN DAWN (part1)

15 days on the NORWEGIAN DAWN (part1)

Postby Skier Pete » 03 May 2011 15:16

I thought I would try a narrative style review in which the reader may feel they are on the cruise with me. Part 1 deals with the choice of cruise, the embarkation, the cabin and the dining.



Choice of itinerary
We decided to take a 2 week Caribbean cruise for this year’s Easter school holiday. And so all travel arrangements had to fit into the period between Saturday 16th April and Monday 2nd May with the cruise beginning on Sunday the 17th May. A search of the net gave very few choices that fitted the bill; either they were 7days or had Saturday sailings. This left us with the NCL Norwegian Dawn, back to back, western (5 day) and southern (9 day) Caribbean cruises which fitted the requirements exactly. The itinerary which included 5 days and sea and 8 ports of call (six of which were new to us) was very appealing especially as the cruise started with a day at sea and ended with two days at sea.

Western Caribbean

Day 1:-- embarkation at Miami; day 2:-- at sea; day 3:-- Grand Cayman; day 4:-- Cozumel; day 5:- -at sea; day 6:-- Miami (for disembarkation/ embarkation of the two cruises)

Southern Caribbean

Day 7 (or 1 of the second cruise, the reason for stating this will become known later in the review):-- at sea; day 8(2):--Samana; day 9(3):- -Tortola(BVI); day 10(4):--Antigua:--day 11(5)Barbados; day 12(6):-- St. Kitts; day 13(7):-- at sea; day 14(8):-- at sea; day 15(9):- disembarkation at Miami

Choice of Cabin
Given that there were five days; at sea one sailing West, one sailing East, one sailing South west and two sailing North East, I decided that to maximise the use of the balcony for sunshine and so opted for a balcony on the stern of the ship (we’re not too concerned about movement). The other main consideration was that Mrs Skier Pete (Mrs.SP) hates having balconies that are overlooked, so this pointed in the direction of Deck 10. This gave the choice of either a balcony stateroom (choice of 2) of a penthouse suite (choice of 4 called “Romance” suites). On balance, the size of the room(~250 sq. ft.) and of the balcony( 111sq. ft.) along with the enhanced benefits of a suite swung the choice in favour of the suite, so I chose 10228 as it was one of the two nearer the centreline of the ship than the other two.
In addition to “upgrading”, for the want of a better word, to the suite I upgraded the flight as well so as benefit from increased legroom, seat reclining and baggage allowance, and the fact that the 2-4-2 seat arrangement allowed us to have a pair of seats on our own (Mrs.SP hates sitting next to people she doesn’t know on aircraft). Included in the deal was an overnight in Miami (at the Courtyard Marriot hotel, NCL also use the Sofitel) and all transfers.

Embarkation
As suite guests (NCL call them VIPs, I never been a VIP before) we were had a fast tracked embarkation. (There were significant queues for the other guests). This meant we were shown into a separate room with nice sofas to sit on whilst waiting and were served light snacks and drinks by NCL staff. After only 3-4 minutes we were quickly taken through the formalities of setting up the on-board account and escorted to the ship with a few other guests to the ship. Then it went wrong. When boarding, everybody at every port was met by the “Washy, Washy, Staff” who ensured nobody got on board without sanitizing their hands by spraying your hands for you in a very light–hearted and friendly way. [This was also standard practice when using the buffets and approximately 90% of the time when using the other restaurants (shame it wasn’t 100%), having said that hand sanitizers were always available in prominent positions] Back to the narrative:- during the “washy, washy” event we lost our escort, they are supposed to escort you to your suite. Undaunted we asked at guest relations who suggested we have lunch first and they would arrange for us to be taken to our room. In the end we had lunch in the Garden Café Buffet (Deck 12), which was the typical cruise line fare nothing special, but perfectly nice buffet food with a wide choice available, before making our own way to our cabin (we knew where it was and it saved going down to deck 7 before going back up to deck 10).

The Stateroom
On arrival at our cabin we were greeted by our cabin stewards, Romeo and Joseph, who showed us in. Just as we were being shown in our butler, Flor, introduced herself and gave us a tour of the facilities and the workings of the coffee making machine. Her duties (or shall I say the ones we used) included the servicing of the aforementioned machine, delivering and laying out breakfast in the cabin, when required, and the daily delivery of afternoon snacks/ hores d’oeurves. She also made sure we were aware of the complimentary Sparkling wine (Blanquette de Blanc, which I personally prefer to champagne), flower arrangement and chocolate covered strawberries. These complimentary “gifts” were repeated on day 6 as it was deemed to be the start of our second cruise.
A little later our concierge, Anoop, made himself known to us. A small point of interest is that neither the butler nor the concierge are included in the Service Charge arrangements but rely on Gratuities only.
The room was furnished with a very large Double bed (not two singles pushed together) as befits a “Romance” suite, a dining table and four chairs, an easy chair and foot stool a, a two seat settee, and writing desk area and a separate make-up/ dressing table and chair.
There was a large hanging cupboard, with double doors on both sides (you could frighten your other half by accident if you open the second set of doors unexpectedly), plenty of drawers (14 in all but none were double width, all were about 12 inches wide), two additional smallish cupboards with shelving which contained not one but two safes (his ‘n’ hers?) The suite was completed by a bath room “suite”, which contained the “throne” (which had its own sliding semi see-through door separating it from the sink area and the bath/shower area. Why do NCL like see through loo doors) and the bath with shower which itself had sliding partitions so no clinging shower curtain or wet floors ( nice touch).
The make-up area was equipped with a wired in powerful hair drier and surprise, surprise a UK standard 13amp plug socket. Very useful for chargers.
Finally there was the balcony, as mentioned 111 sq. ft. with two wicker loungers with padded mattresses and a small wicker coffee table.


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The coffee machine

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Week 1 treats

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Week 2 treats with week 1 flowers

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The all important hair drier ( note 13 amp socket)

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Typical daily treats

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Dining
As VIPS (I like the sound of that so I’ll use it in this review) we were privileged to use “Cagney’s” (a $25 cover charge in the evenings) for civilised breakfasts and lunches. We only ever had breakfast there or in our room, and ate lunches in there unless we off the ship during the 12.00 to 1.30 opening times when we had very nice lunches in the self-service buffet which had surprisingly few queues and no difficulty in finding a table.
Evening meals we had mainly in the Venetian MDR (there was also the Aqua MDR, exactly the same menus as the Venetian). We preferred the Venetian as it had a higher roof and nicer décor and appeared somehow more elegant. The food and service were of a high standard. The menu had a permanent choice (7 starters, 5 mains, 8 desserts/cheese) as well as daily alternatives:- Three courses with 3 starters, 5 mains and 2 desserts.
Alternative dining (with varying cover charges) was available in seven restaurants and in the 24 hour grill and on the pool deck grill. (Important note here :-There is 24 hour food available and for families there was free soft ice-cream in the buffet and scoop type ice-cream on the pool deck. I know these things are important too some people) Free tea/ coffee was always available at the 24 hour grill.
We dined in the alternative dining on 3 occasions and found the Asian fusion Bamboo restaurant to be excellent and worth the extra $15pp,” Impressions Italian” was good but hard to justify the extra $10pp, and Cagney's was excellent but a bit steep at $25pp especially as we used it FOC for breakfast and lunch.
Skiing comes 1st; Cruising a close 2nd

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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby Dave » 03 May 2011 15:22

Great stuff Pete. My favourite bit so far has got to be the coffee machine. Wow! :D
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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby Skier Pete » 03 May 2011 15:27

Dave wrote:Great stuff Pete. My favourite bit so far has got to be the coffee machine. Wow! :D

Do you like the "stlye".

The coffee machine was great, when it worked, we had to have it changed twice due do malfunction, god bless our butler for her efforts in keeping us in coffee and tea( did i mention it also made tea)

Pete
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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby Vinny Turner » 03 May 2011 15:43

Great review so far Pete. Looking forward to part 2. Like Dave, I'm impressed with the coffee machine.

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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby grannyM » 03 May 2011 16:25

Very nice review Pete. It all sounds very posh, and why not? That coffee machine does look brilliant. Looking forward to the next part and you're overall view of NCL. :)
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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby Mungo » 03 May 2011 17:25

I like the coffee machine too! :D

Great review! Thanks! ;)
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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby JollyJill » 03 May 2011 17:39

Thanks for the review Pete. VIPs eh? It's nice to be spoiled (not that I would know). Maybe we should upgrade to a suite one day.
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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby Janet » 03 May 2011 21:56

Great review Pete, that coffee machine would frighten the life out of me,scared it would blow up cause I am hopeless with machines

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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby bobbyboy » 04 May 2011 02:06

Great so far Pete...............how the other half live ;)

Am I the only one to have spotted the pronunciation of the complimentary wine? :lol: ......wine dupp more like :)

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Re: 15 days on the DAWN (part1)

Postby Gemma » 04 May 2011 06:41

My first cruise was on the Gem (hence my screen name) and I still have a soft spot for NCL. I used to check in on the NCL forum regularly on CC. Posters used to write that "No one does suite life better than NCL". They also boasted about the top Courtyard and Garden villas - claimed to be "a ship within a ship".
Cagneys for breakfast and lunch is a popular perk. There were countless posts of people who were staying in suites but had friends/relatives in cabins, sorry staterooms, and wanted them to join them in Cagneys.
Anyway, what's your opinion of the suite compared to others you've been on ?
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