Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Dawn Ship Review

Norwegian Dawn was the second of NCL’s revolutionary Star-class ships. Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.

In the year 2000, NCL decided that cruising had become too stuffy, so it began redesigning its onboard programs and its ships to be more casual, down-to-earth, and just plain fun. The 91,740-ton, 2,224-guest Norwegian Dawn and her sister ship, Norwegian Star, were some of the first fruits of that makeover. Launched in 2002, Dawn offers a festive atmoshere, great entertainment, a slew of restaurants, awesome children’s centers and outdoor play spaces, fun decor, fantastic suites, and comfortable standard staterooms, all at a fair price. She’s also looking extra-spiffy due to a major May 2011 makeover that added new features and modernized some old ones.

From Dawn’s bow, festive streamers and dancing dolphins painted on the hull add a playful touch that was designed to say, “Hey! Come aboard. We have fun in here.”

Public Rooms & Entertainment On Norwegian Dawn

The Venitian Restaurant displays a modern, yet distinctly European, feel. Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Inside, the mood continues from the moment you step into the atrium lobby, with its fantasy furniture and artwork. An explosion of bright Miami-style colors set the tone in both the public rooms and accommodations, and a dash of contemporary and art deco styling elevates things in some of the ship’s fancier restaurants and lounges.

Like all the NCL ships, Dawn shines when it comes to entertainment. The multi-deck Stardust Theater seats more than 1,000 guests for some of the best production shows in the cruise world, as well as performances by the great Second City comedy troupe. In the stern on Deck 7, the Spinnaker Lounge hosts late-night music and dancing. Gamblers head to the expansive Dawn Club Casino on Deck 6, while those with a taste for sophistication lounge stylishly at Gatsby’s Champagne Bar, or go all Hemmingway at the Havana Club cigar lounge. Beer more your thing? Try the Pearly King’s Pub, a raucous English-style pub offering piano entertainment and big-screen TVs for sports. Other public rooms include a library, an Internet center, a a coffee bar, and a sake bar attached to the ship’s Asian restaurant.

Family Cruising On Norwegian Dawn

Kids get a huge, bright play area outfitted with cozy TV rooms, a huge climbing maze, and great crafts, play, and computer areas. Outside, there’s a fantastic, dinosaur-themed kids’ pool area with a paddling pool, water slides, and a kid-size Jacuzzi. A new “Under 2 Zoo” room offers activities specifically for the toddler set, with parents accompanying. Teens get their own hangout space and disco.

Dining On Norwegian Dawn

At dinnertime, guests can choose among 11 different restaurants:

  • The main Aqua and Venetian dining rooms
  • Le Bistro, the most formal restaurant onboard, serving French and continental cuisine
  • Bamboo, for Asian food
  • The Teppanyaki Room, where chefs prepare your meal at a tableside grill, Japanese style
  • A sushi bar
  • Cagney’s, a classic steakhouse with an attached, 1930s-style bar for cocktails before or after dinner
  • La Cucina, serving casual, family-style Italian meals
  • The Garden Cafe buffet restaurant
  • The casual Blue Lagoon, serving comfort food 24 hours a day
  • A new South American–style steakhouse called Moderno Churrascaria, where servers circulate among the tables with a huge selection of grilled meats

There are also the usual outdoor grills and indoor snack spots during the day, plus room service, and you can even order pizza 24 hours a day for $5 per pie, delivered to you anywhere on the ship.

Pools & Fitness On Norwegian Dawn

Outdoors, Dawn’s resort-like pool deck is hedged to port and starboard by a row of palm-tree-shaped street lamps, framing a large pool and six hot tubs. Up in the bow on that same deck is the ship’s amazing spa, with its multiple treatment rooms, saunas, beauty salon, and calming relaxation center with its own aquatherapy pool. Guests enter into a sunlit, multi-deck foyer full of plants and Mayan reliefs, with a juice bar on one side. Inside, the spa is centered on an indoor pool room featuring a large lap pool (the largest indoor pool at sea, according to NCL), a hot tub, a jet-massage pool, and wooden deck chairs in a sunny lounging area. A large fitness center is next door, and there’s a jogging track and a basketball/volleyball court outside. Up in the bow on Deck 13, there’s an out-of-the-way sunning spot with a hot tub and deck chairs, all looking out over the bow.

Staterooms & Suites On Norwegian Dawn

One of the Mini-suites aboard Norwegian Dawn. Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Standard staterooms are comfortable if not plush, decorated in bright fabrics and woody paneling and accents. Furniture tends to be a bit spindly and insubstantial, but overall the rooms are pleasant and livable, with TVs, minibars, well-designed bathrooms, and, in a little less than half the outside cabins, smallish but acceptable private balconies. Outsides range from about 159 to 203 square feet.

At the high end, the ship offers 10 different categories of suites, from the incredible Garden Villa — with its three separate bedrooms, living room, dining room, private garden with hot tub, and outdoor dining area and terrace — down to the 283-square-foot Mini-Suite.

Norwegian Cruise Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
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One Comment

  • NCL Spoiled our vacation. That’s correct NCL spoiled our vacation. This was a very expensive vacation so I wanted to be very careful. I called NCL to book 7 days cruise for my family 2 adults and 2 children. The agent told me there is very good deal. Take two ocean view rooms and if he book one room with one adult and one child and another room with one adult and one child I will save money. I said its not possible because as a family we want to stay in one room. He said one of that room will have 4 beds so you can stay in one room and ignore other room. I said its okay as long as we all 4 can stay in one room and save money its fine. When we went to ship it was not the case we got two rooms but only two single beds in each room. All 7 days we had to wife and I had to stay in a different room with one of our kid. Anyways this my story but something you must double-check if you have an ocean view room. If your confirmation or invoice says room type “OX” you are in trouble. Because don’t look at the picture next to “OX” type..OX means they can give you any type of room, read the details. Worst service because when you call for these issues you can only one answer they can not do anything about it.


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