cruises

Norwegian Dawn Review

No longer among the newest, hottest ships, yet it’s still a solid choice for would-be cruisers, particularly families.

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Built in 2002, the Norwegian Dawn was one of the first cruise ships designed to accommodate the line’s then-revolutionary “Freestyle” concept of cruising that brought a more relaxed structure to on-board life. As on other Norwegian ships, passengers can choose when and where to eat in the vessel’s many restaurants, dress it up or dress it down, and choose their own entertainment options (from a fairly diverse set of choices). The food in each of the Dawn’s two main dining rooms is complimentary, but a number of other eateries come with an extra charge and most beverages are not included. Norwegian Cruise Line offers varying beverage packages, though.

While nearly a decade old, the Dawn has just emerged from an extensive overhaul in dry dock that, among other things, brought 58 additional cabins (nearly half of which were new suites). It’s a good vessel on which to bring your whole family, have a reunion or just hang out with friends, as long as you’re not looking for a formal environment.

The Norwegian Dawn is no longer the newest ship at sea, but it’s still a solid choice for vacationers looking for an affordable, big ship getaway — particularly if you live in New England. The Dawn is one of just a handful of vessels that sail regularly out of Boston, offering spring, summer and fall sailings to Bermuda and Canada for as little as $349 per person per week. That makes it a no-muss, no-fuss option for Northeasterners who want to skip the expense of flying to the big cruise hubs in Florida to reach a ship (just drive up to the pier, park and away you go).

Unlike other ships sailing out of Boston (which in recent years have included the Carnival Glory and Holland America’s Maasdam), the Dawn offers a wide range of restaurants on board, including eateries serving Asian, French, Italian and Brazilian cuisine, a sushi bar and a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. As on other Norwegian Cruise Line ships, there’s no fixed dinner seating, with passengers eating when they want and where they want on a nightly basis — a formula that will appeal to people who don’t want to be tied down to the more structured schedule found on some ships.

Just don’t expect gourmet dining. We found the food in many of the eateries to be on par with the chain restaurants found across America (think Olive Garden for Italian). The only restaurants that really impressed us were the Asian cuisine-serving Bamboo and French eatery Le Bistro (both of which come with an extra fee).

The Dawn is a particularly good choice for families looking for a cruise out of the New England area, given its wide range of family-friendly on-board activities and lively deck-top pool areas. Starting in late 2012, in addition to sailing out of Boston, the Dawn also will spend several months in the winter sailing out of Tampa, making it a good choice, too, for families in the Southeastern USA who want to avoid a long drive (or expensive flight) to reach the many ships sailing out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

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Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Cabins
  3. Dining
  4. Drinks & Nightlife
  5. Activities
  6. Kids, Service, and Other Details
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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