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Norwegian  Cruises aboard the Norwegian Dawn
Above: Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship.

Passenger reviews

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Ship Details
Began service:2002
Guest capacity: 2,240
Total staff: 1,100
Length: 965 feet
Passenger decks: 15
CDC inspection score: 99

Norwegian Dawn Overview

The Norwegian Dawn cruise ship departs from New York, NY.

Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to Bahamas, Western Caribbean and Southern, Caribbean .

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Bahamas, Western Caribbean and Southern, Caribbean.

Norwegian Dawn, the third ship in the NCL fleet to be designed to accommodate its Freestyle Dining concept, is a blend of the best features of a cruise experience and a land resort. There's the excitement of a new port most every day and a sense of camaraderie that comes from traveling with the same group of people for the whole voyage. And there's a wonderful atmosphere of casual flexibility. The dining concept allows you the freedom of choosing when, where and with whom you dine. The "Freestyle" concept is not limited to dining, of course, but allows passengers to make choices. Dress formally on formal night? Or not. Take in the early musical performance? Or the late show? The spa's open until 11pm most nights, the fitness center and Internet cafe are around-the-clock operations. And disembarkation is the most painless ever -- there's no out-at-dawn boot.

Ultimately, this is a fun, easy-going, and relaxing ship that is designed to please a wide variety of travelers and first-time cruisers.


Staterooms, in varying sizes and categories, are decorated in primary colors. Standard inside and outside staterooms have the usual twin/queen bed configurations.

One incentive to upgrade from inside to outside is the bathroom: in outside cabins, like balcony staterooms and suites, it's laid out in a three-part design. The shower (bathtubs for minisuites and beyond) has a sliding glass door as does the toilet compartment.

Balcony cabins come with a small seating area, with a couch that opens up to make a twin-sized bed (the main difference between these and the minisuites, which are simply larger, is that the latter's couch is a double-sized bed). It's important to note (for those sleeping on the pull-out) that it's rock hard. Our steward solved that problem by giving us an extra duvet to put under the sheet.

Storage space is adequate but not generous. Balconies are outfitted with mesh adjustable chairs and a small table.

There's a variety of in-cabin entertainment on television, including CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network and ESPN, plus a variety of movies and sitcoms. One nice touch is in-cabin coffee makers. One oddity (for those bringing along laptops to plug in) is that, for Americans, the only 220-volt outlet is by the vanity, not by the table. Ask at ship's reception for an adapter. There's also an empty mini-fridge.

NCL has made much ado about its two Garden Villas. These are fabulous and could be worth the $26,000 per villa charge -- particularly if you split it with a group of friends. Each has a private outdoor garden area (didn't quite get the use of fake plants) with a whirlpool. Each also has a private sunbathing deck and steam room.


Norwegian Dawn has ten restaurants plus a handful of casual options. Themes range from Benihana-style Teppanyaki to fish-n-chips. Overall, food and service were good in quality.

It's important to mention that evening dining hours are from 5:30 pm - 11 pm but passengers must be seated by 10:30pm. There's a reservation desk in the main lobby that's open from 9am. - 5pm and passengers are permitted to book just one day in advance. Otherwise, you can call the restaurant directly after 5:30pm. Lastly, Norwegian Dawn has teamed up with Cooking Light magazine -- menus in the dining room, as well as offerings on the buffet, feature lighter fare at lunch and dinner.

Here's a rundown:

Traditionally speaking, the ship's three "main" restaurants differ mostly in terms of atmosphere. The 472-seat Venetian, which is the most cruise-like, is smaller than most cruise line dining rooms, and decorated tastefully with huge murals depicting scenes of Venice. Because the Venetian is aft, it's overlooked by huge windows stretching across the entire wall offering incredible views. There are plenty of tables for two. The 344-seat Aqua features a more contemporary look and menu. It's also (we think) cruise-dom's only all-female operated restaurant (including maitre d'). Impressions, with 236 seats, is the most intimate in size but is otherwise as traditional as Venetian. Food-wise, menus are nearly identical at all three restaurants.

Some of Norwegian Dawn's boutique restaurants, where advance reservations are highly recommended, have per-person surcharges, some don't. Of the latter, our dinner at Salsa, the Tex-Mex eatery was a stand-out. The restaurant also offers tapas and house-made sangria. Less successful was La Trattoria, the ship's Italian restaurant. The 24-hour Blue Lagoon is a fast-food joint and frequently packed. It is one of the few restaurants to have outdoor seating.

There are three specialty restaurants that charge a service fee but offer the best food and service onboard. Le Bistro ($15.00) features a French menu, mostly traditional fare. Desserts also are wonderful. One highlight of this restaurant is its collection of four Impressionist masterpieces --Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir and Monet.

Cagney's Steakhouse ($20) is a Morton's-like establishment featuring Angus beef, lamb, and seafood -- with sides, like rice, mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, served family style. Bamboo ($12.50) is a combination of Thai, Japanese and Chinese. There's a sake bar, a Teppanyaki room (a'la Benihana and a la carte) and a sushi bar which features an "all you can eat for $10" deal.

Ultra casual options: One of the highlights of our cruise was the daily cookouts held poolside. Featuring all sorts of the usual barbecue fare -- from burgers to ribs to corn on the cob, the cookouts were held at lunchtime on sea days and during the early dinner seating on port days. The Garden Cafe is the buffet area, featuring the usual breakfast choices. At lunchtime, one end features delicious vegetarian Indian offerings. Another casual choice is the Bimini Grill where, during lunch hours, the grill cooked up burgers, hot dogs and fries.

There's 24-hour room service from a relatively limited menu. Sprinkles, tucked between two ends of the Topsiders' Bar (poolside) offers free ice cream.


While Norwegian Dawn offers the usual fare during the day (sea days) -- bingo, art auctions, arts & crafts -- there is also an emphasis on lifestyle-improvement topics, particularly concerning health and wellness.

But the highlight of Dawn's entertainment offerings has to be each evening's "main event," held in the Stardust Theater. The ship features a variety of bands, playing everything from classical to Latino to torch songs. Most of Norwegian Dawn's nine bars offer some kind of entertainment. Favorites included the Salsa Bar for margaritas, the Pearly Kings Pub for offbeat British beers, and the Bimini Bar, way up on Deck 14, for gorgeous views and wonderful tropical frozen drinks.

Fitness & Recreation

Norwegian Dawn offers a wide range of fitness and recreation services. The El Dorado Spa and Beauty Center offer up-to-date fitness equipment and a glass-paneled room for classes in yoga, stretching, aerobics and Pilates. Yoga and Pilates are among those that come with a $5 surcharge.

The spa itself is beautiful and serene. Operated by Hawaii-based Mandara (which is owned by Steiner), the treatments are a bit more exotic, with Hawaiian and Polynesian influences. Guests purchasing a treatment are permitted to use a relaxation room with padded wicker loungers. Mens' and womens' locker rooms feature a sauna and a steamroom.

The best part is the spa's indoor lap-pool (it's an adequate size for swimmers who want exercise). The only problem is passengers occasionally missed the concept of lap swimming and treated it as an alternative to the main pool. There's also a whirlpool and a hydro-pool. Another neat feature found in the spa is the juice bar, with all sorts of healthful drinks; all require an extra charge.

In the main pool area there's a plunge pool and a regular pool, plus two whirlpools. There's another whirlpool tucked away on Deck 13 that's hard to find. There's also a bandstand for entertainment. Chaise lounges and tables are set up in amphitheater mode so you can eat and sunbathe.

Sports activities include a jogging track (strangely narrow, walkers are better off on the wider wrap-around promenade on Deck 7). There are golf driving nets, shuffleboard, a man-sized chess board, volleyball/basketball courts, paddle tennis and horseshoes.

Public Areas

Indoor activities on Norwegian Dawn are primarily concentrated on Decks 6 and 7. The Grand Atrium, with its glass-domed ceiling, is the hub. Here you'll find passenger-service counters, a boutique with fabulous glassware, and the Java Cafe. Circling around a balcony a deck above is La Salsa and its bar.

Beyond the boutique on Deck 6, you'll find the rest of the shops. Unlike some ships where the shopping area is supposed to represent a mall, this Galleria is laid out like an elegant duty-free shop. There are areas for jewelry, cosmetics and perfumes, stylish casual-wear (Tommy Bahama is a mainstay), and souvenirs.

The Dawn Club Casino -- located along the corridor leading to the Stardust Theater, offers the usual slot machines and games. The Internet Cafe has 17 terminals; NCL also offers wireless access. Passengers can bring their own laptops or rent one. Rates at the cafe itself are the standard 75 cents per minute. Packages are available (100 minutes for $55, 250 minutes for $100); there's a $3.95 activation fee. Wireless fees vary. A wireless card rental costs $10 a day and then there are time packages (250 minutes for $100, 100 minutes for $55 and 33 minutes for $25). To rent a laptop, be prepared to pay $35 a day.

Another series of indoor activity rooms is located on Deck 12. There you'll find the library, a game room with lots of card tables, a cinema, and a really pretty writing room with comfy couches that overlook the sea.


The children's facilities on Norwegian Dawn are some of the best in the fleet -- and truly make this a ship that's ideal for families.

The main center of action is the T-Rex, which includes a play gym, movie theater, computer center and even a Snoozes sleeping area for late night sleep-overs. Adjacent, there's a T-Rex kids' pool,complete with downsized lounge chairs, a water slide, and a whirlpool.

Kids under two sail for non commissionable fares and taxes. Over two, children pay a child's rate, which varies. Kids under 3 aren't required to tip. For those ages 3 - 12, suggested gratuities are $5 per child per day; 13 and up $10 per day. "Kid's Crew" is divided into three age groups. Junior Sailors (2 - 5), First Mates and Navigators (6 - 12), and Teens (13 - 17). Games are organized on NCL's Great Stirrup Cay.

Only group sitting is available; evenings from 10pm - 1am; in port from 9 am - 5pm. Cost is $5 per child per hour; the second child is $3. Port sitting for parents whose children are "on beepers" -- meaning they still wear diapers or Pull-Ups -- is not available (company policy) as the beepers do not work on land. NCL also has developed a fleet-wide discipline policy. The four-step set of rules includes warning, time-out, suspension and dismissal stages.

For teens, there's a video arcade and a disco-styled teen club.

For all ages (under 18) there are daily planned activities though no shore excursion offerings.

Expert Norwegian Dawn reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Bahamas, Western Caribbean and Southern, Caribbean .


Discount Code

Norwegian Dawn cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Norwegian Dawn Score: 99

Cruise Critic: Norwegian Dawn
The Cruise Critic gives NCL's Norwegian Dawn a 4-ribbon rating.

Web links

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Request a brochure, or find a travel agent who represents Norwegian Cruise Line at the company's official Web site.

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