After a refurbishment in 2016, the 2,340-passenger Norwegian Dawn emerged looking contemporary. Look for exciting new spaces, like the upscale Los Lobos Cantina, and fresh décor across the ship. While the ship doesn't have the line's latest amusement-park-like offerings (no ropes course, no aqua park), Norwegian Dawn does continue to provide lots of options, including restaurants that range from a Brazilian steakhouse to 24-hour pizza delivery — and 12 bars and lounges. In addition to choices, you'll get Norwegian's popular "Freestyle Cruising," which allows you to dine whenever you like rather than at fixed early and late seatings.
What We Love
Giant Suites: Norwegian Dawn's three-bedroom Garden Villa suites are — at a whopping 6,693 square feet — the largest at sea. They come with a private garden, outdoor dining area, and a hot tub. Not a big spender? There are comfortable, if not huge, cabins for the rest of us.
Indoor and Outdoor Pools: Indoor pools are rare on ships, and Norwegian Dawn's indoor lap pool is the longest at sea. The outdoor Oasis Pool, with its four hot tubs, is also larger than ones you'll find on many vessels. The separate dinosaur-themed kids pool — with its slides, splash pool, and two whirlpools — is a draw for families with children of all ages.
Best Known For
Improv Comedy: Prepare to laugh at the improvisational antics of a troupe from Chicago's Second City. The raunchy late night show is particularly hilarious.
Casino Action: Norwegian's casinos are highly rated by players, and this ship's over-the-top casino has everything from table games to slot machines, mini-baccarat, and Let It Ride. There's even a VIP room for high rollers.
Choices, Choices: You'll find more than enough dining options to fill your entire cruise, including hibachi at Teppanyaki, steak at Cagney's, and Mexican fare at Los Lobos. There's no shortage of bars or lounges either, with options including a Champagne bar, a mojito bar, and a wine bar.
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Who It's Best For
The Casual Crowd: You don't have to dress up in the evening — ever — because there aren't any formal nights.
Families with Kids: This ship works particularly well for multigenerational family groups. Kids can hang out at the Splash Academy (where teens get their own club), while grown-ups relax — or work out, if they're feeling virtuous — at the large El Dorado Spa and fitness center.
Cruisers from the Northeast: Norwegian Dawn is an especially convenient choice for cruisers within driving distance to Boston (the ship's homeport), where it sets sail to Bermuda, New England and Canada, or the Caribbean.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Don't Improvise Dinner: The idea of Freestyle Cruising is that you can choose where you want to eat, when, and with whom ... but that doesn't mean you don’t need a reservation. Show up without one, and you may have to wait for a table.
Plan to Spend Extra on Dining: The better restaurants, such as the Japanese-style Teppanyaki grill and French Le Bistro, have à la carte pricing. Any room service beyond continental breakfast also carries a fee.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.
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Norwegian Dawn at a Glance
- Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Class: Dawn
- Number of Passengers: 2340
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2002
- Refurbish Date: 2016
- Columbia and Snake Rivers
- Hudson River
- Mississippi River
- New England and Canada
- Ohio and Tennessee Rivers
- Panama Canal
- Repositioning Cruises
- Southeast Rivers
- Southern Caribbean