Just like I promised, here is a review post of my awesome vacation (Spring Break) aboard Norwegian Dawn to Roatan, Honduras, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel. I'll break it down into categories for ease of reading.
Booking: All reservations can be made on the NCL website or through any website offering cruises at discounted rates. My friend made our reservation on the NCL website. It was really convenient and she was sent all our information so we could have our boarding passes and luggage tags printed. We were emailed with reminders, things to know before we cruise, what to pack and how to reserve excursions.
Travel: DO NOT travel without 2 valid forms of identification whether it be your passport, state ID, driver's license, school ID, green card, etc. For international students, your passport and I-20 are required because your school ID will not suffice. Remember that if your cruise is leaving the country, you will go through customs on re-entry just like you did when you arrived in the U.S. So have everything on you if not, you'll be shipped home or you can join the Norwegian team :D
What to pack: Take enough clothes including one formal wear and one all-white outfit, a maxi dress. In summary, don't pack only shorts because some restaurants on-board have strict dress codes. Toiletries, beach towel (you'll pay if you lose the ones placed in your room), comfortable shoes for excursions and any other essentials should find their way into your suitcase(s). Take enough money too.
Food: Of course you want to know that while you're miles away from your kitchen, you'll have access to good food. There are 5 restaurants serving FREE food; it comes with your cruise reservation. My friend and I ate at these complimentary restaurants for the entire cruise duration, except for our last dinner which was a pre-birthday celebration. In addition, there are 5 Specialty Restaurants serving Italian, Pan Asian, Brazilian steakhouse , a sushi bar, 24/7 Pizza Delivery and more. A cover charge of $15 - $30 per person applies to these restaurants. There's also an outdoor grill by the poolside, an ice cream bar - I was there at least twice a day :D , Champagne and Martini bar.
Rooms: Norwegian Dawn has multiple room styles and floor plans depending on which part of the ship you are on; front, mid-ship, back. These Staterooms as they are called may or may not have a balcony but you have the chance to select your preference when you book your vacation. My recommendation is to get a room with balcony if you can afford it, except you're sea-sick.
Room Service & other crew: I absolutely loved the room service we received on Norwegian Dawn. The staff were so friendly and whenever we got back from our port of call or a show, we were asked about our day and handed the event line-up for the next day with some useful tips. They are always around; all you need to do is poke your head out and you'll find 2 or 3 of them down the hall. When they turn down your room (per your request), you'll walk in to see a folded animal or two hung in the most creative spots in your cabin. The waiters and waitresses were great too. With a crew size of 1,032, you will never have to ring an alarm to get someone to your service.
Entertainment/Activities: Perhaps my best thing about this cruise experience was the array of activities for every age and interest. On our first day at sea, we walked into the library to find Sudoku, a Crossword puzzle and Dawn Trivia; these were printed out everyday. Other activities included the late night Broadway-like shows, Deal or No Deal, Sabbath service, family balloon twisting workshop, Comedy shows with Second City, Bingo, scavenger hunt, ice carving, parties, karaoke, piano and music sessions, couple games, volleyball, health and fitness talks/tips, art auction, to mention but a few. Children had their activities and a playroom called Guppies Room. How cute! Also, on port days, there are activities for those who decide to stay on-board.
Excursions: Now you have to be really smart about these. At the time you make your cruise reservation, the options to book excursions at your destinations are provided. But my friend gathered that these cost way more than booking excursions on your arrival at the port. For example, in Roatan, we paid $100 for a zip-lining, beach and city tour package for 2. But zip-lining alone cost about $175 when booked with Norwegian. So it's a personal preference really. If you know how to bargain and would prefer finding activities and special deals through the local tourists, I'd say wait to find an excursion when you arrive at the port(s). But if you prefer the comfort of having excursions booked for you so you know where you're going way in advance, then book it with the ship. Last minute reservations with the cruise can be made the night before at the Shore Excursion Desk in case you change your mind.
Navigating the ship: On every floor, in every corner, beside every elevator, there's a map of the ship. So you'll never get lost (except on the first day).
Other cool spots: The cruise ship is equipped with a fitness center, spa, casino, pool, hot tub (about 5), Wii room, library, show room, art gallery (there was an art auction), bars and grill. There's also a huge shop with unique jewelry, souvenirs and pretty much any thing you might need.
I can't thank God, my family and my awesome friend, Lami enough for making this trip possible. I can never forget this experience. Norwegian Cruise Line, you have my heart too.
Thanks for reading! :)