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Change isn't good for NCL Dawn!

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Cruised the DAWN 3 times and will not cruise it again! The first 2 times (plus the one NCL Spirit cruise)were incredible and wonderful! Those of you seeing Free Style for the first time aren't seeing what started the whole venture. It was soooo much better until recently. There were no reservations, a small fee only for a specialty dinner not the whole specialty restaurant and the food, service and entertainment out did Carnival in most everything!It wasn't a party ship, but had opportunities to have a good time-lots of night activities. It wasn't a Kids Cruise ship, but always had the special pool and kids activities for them, leaving the adult pool for adults and older children. It always had a relaxed, non schedule kind of agenda and met most every need in entertainment, culture and excursions with little impact on the pocketbook. So why have I changed my mind about the Dawn? It is now the ship that is trying to become "like the others" and failing at it. Reservations in Main Dining halls AND fees everywhere! Food that suggests true cuisine and fails. Entertainment that is the same over and over again. Kids in the adult pools-diapers and all! Spa filled with those that drank way too early in the day and probably never paid for the spa rooms. Drinking games (Pub Crawl)in the middle of the day leaving participants drunk, loud and obnoxious!No towels at the pool. No lockers in the spa. No room in the dining room. Sitting us with complete strangers! (whatever happened to Free-Style!)No benefit to being a Bronze Member (4 cruises with NCL) What a mess. I have written the company and told them that they had a good thing going and have ruined the uniqueness of their plan. I will not travel Dawn again and, from the reviews here about other NCL ships, may not travel NCL again.

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    We cruised NCL a couple years ago - and it was a terrible experience. We will never again go anywhere on NCL. (Have cruised Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Oceania, so it's not like we don't have any experience with cruising)

    Aside from the horrible food and mediocre service, what we noticed was how many of the passengers were just plain slobs.

    Sorry, I know I will be flamed for this, but it was so bad!

    We are pretty casual, not into the formal scene at all, but we were seated next to people who looked as if they had just cleaned out their garages - and that was in one of the specialty restaurants. Greasy tennis shoes, grey sweatpants, and baseball caps at dinner. The worst was the guy who decided to check all his voice mail messages with his phone on speaker.

    We tried to go into the dinner buffet one evening and practically got trampled by 350-pound people who were so intent on piling their plates sky-high they didn't even look where they were going.

    Ugh. Never again.

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    Free style is certainly not for everyone. But one can insulate yourselves from the less than properly dressed or behaved to some extent by adjusting some of your own dining and activities schedules in order to clear away from the herd mentalities. For one, I would suggest dining in the most formal restaurants on board, the free and the supplemented ones, our choices are the Venetian (free), Le Bistro, and Cagney's. The ayce buffet is out of bounds for us for the most part, attracting all comers regardless of attire and cleanliness, and I have an issue with passengers with unwashed/ contaminated hands handling the same utensils I will be picking up.
    Another more casual option is the Aqua restaurant located on deck 6 in the center of the ship.
    In all cases, it would be wisest to chose a time other than the most popular in order to dine, and or make reservations.

    The NCL Dawn remains one of my favorite ships to cruise on, having done so over ten times in the past three years. IMO, it's not the ship that makes the cruise, but the staff and crew, and they have been awesome! Even after the recent crew 'purge' in the spring of 2013, where the best of the best were transferred to the new NCL Breakaway, the remaining crew and replacements are still great!

    Not to belittle any level of latitudes programs, but the real attention and benefits come to you after you reach gold and platinum status, and trust me, there is a difference. I go through the same situation with several of the cruise lines that we visit, and until we establish higher ranking in each rewards program, we are just another passenger hoping for attention.

    Yes, there are more luxurious cruise lines out there, and there are less so, but NCL works for us.

    I might add this.........Do you want to be treated better than most others on board? Then you need to make the investment of making friends with members of the staff and crew. Be genuinely friendly and appreciative to all of them as they work very hard and long hours, but 'groom' a few that are in a position to offer you additional benefits and comps. A few extra dollars tip here and there certainly makes a difference. A graceful, and heartfelt compliment also goes a long way.
    Think of cruise ships as just huge floating hotels, because these are what they are. Act accordingly, and you will be amazed at how well you can get treated.

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