By Bob Hoelscher
Although I endeavor to report on as many cruise experiences as I can, there are many more cruise products on the market than I can cover myself. So I turned to my longtime friends veteran worldwide cruisers Jon and Bess London for a review of their seven-night sailing from Tampa aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Dawn, which has port calls at Roatan, Honduras; Belize; and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Excerpts of Jon’s detailed evaluation follow.
“Overall, our balcony cabin on deck 10 was very comfortable, with the two beds together in a queen configuration. However, storage space in the cabin was poorly designed compared to our experience on other ships.
“Food on the Dawn was better than that we’ve experienced on recent Holland America and Princess cruises. This applies to the ‘included’ meals in the main dining room and buffet and the ‘surcharge’ restaurants. We dined in the Venetian Restaurant [main dining room] the first night and were favorably impressed. The servers were attentive and friendly and really seemed to care. We ate most lunches and some breakfasts in the buffet and found the food to be consistently hot and tasty. The variety offered was excellent, and it was generally possible to find seats, even during prime breakfast and lunch hours, unlike our experience on other ships recently.
“We tried all of the restaurants onboard except the Teppanyaki. In each case, with one exception [Bamboo, the Asian noodle restaurant], the menus provided good variety, and we were pleased with the taste and presentation of the food and with the attentiveness and friendliness of the servers. The one standout specialty restaurant was Moderno, even though neither of us is a big meat-eater and Moderno is a Brazilian steakhouse. What we liked at Moderno was the extensive salad bar, one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. The food at La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, was excellent, as were our dinners in Cagney’s Steakhouse. Fortunately, we took advantage of the specialty restaurant ‘book ahead’ service and had most of our dinners reserved in advance.
“The Dawn had excellent entertainment overall. The production shows were top-notch, with the aerialists the prime standouts. One was entirely devoted to the aerialists, and it was of a caliber that resembled the best Cirque shows. The Friday-night show featured Greg London, who imitates major stars. His impressions were spot-on, and in my opinion, he lived up to his ‘Vegas-quality’ billing. The Duo Luna that played in various lounges during the cruise was excellent, as was Impac, the ship’s dance band, which expertly covered Motown and R&B hits from the ’60s and ’70s.
“We had a great time overall. My observation is that Norwegian Cruise Line has a reputation of being ‘lower class’ than Princess, Holland, etc. I did not find it so.”