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Stinger-pr

Stinger-PR's DAWN of an era: A NCL Dawn review (Thanksgiving week 2018)

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Thanks again for your great review.  We will be on the Dawn in 5 weeks :)  

We were on the Epic last year for spring break and it is a weird ship.  It if wasn't so crowded, it would have been fine, but it was a 4 nighter out of florida, so it was FULL of college kids.  They were well behaved, but there were soooooo many of them and they took over the ship.  There were times that it took 25 minutes to get a drink.  Thank goodness we could get two at a time.  Last year's cruise is the main reason we are doing a 7 nighter out of San Juan.  I figure the college kids will not fly to Puerto Rico to board a ship.  As far as the Epic , it has a weird layout, but I would do it again if we could travel during the off season.  Being a teacher, I am limited to the peak times. 

 

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On 1/16/2019 at 2:42 AM, Stinger-pr said:

It was just after it stopped raining that the other ship that would be accompanying us today, Celebrity’s Reflection had arrived at the dock area at 9:20 (-ish) a.m., turned around and was backing up into her berth just a few hundred feet from the terminal on across from us.

 

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At this point we decide to just go for it and head to shore so we could be at the terminal before the Reflection was properly moored. We were at the gangway around 9:30am and a noticed there were no “gangway photographers”. Hmm… That’s different from Carnival. We then noticed two things:

 

1- The photo ops were being done behind a prop railing with EVERYONE behind you. They couldn’t even position themselves using the ship as their background, as boringly white as it is?

 

2- Dispelling doubts some people may have, there were shuttles taking passengers from the ship to the terminal.

 

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There were two large-ish buses doing the loop but instead of having one going while the other was coming, they were both picking up at the same time, which defaulted in some waiting time between trips. Some people decided to walk all the way but we decided to wait it out.

 

Once at the terminal we took some pictures of the new Welcome to Barbados sign. It was about time they replaces the old ones since they were already beat to hell and worn out.

 

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We continued on to the terminal which is really not much to write home about. I has the usual trinkets and souvenirs shops, along with the usual jewelry staples and a duty free store. We had hoped to find an open WIFI hotspot but contrary to other trips, there were none we could find. The only “open” ones required us to register and validate with emails and we’re not into putting any kind of info down, even when using a VPN service we pay for on our cell phones.

 

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Once you exit the terminal you see the meeting point for the big tour buses to your left and some more shops to the right as well as the walkway towards the taxi stands. We marched on and made our way outside towards the taxi dispatch area where we ran into DW’s co-worker who along with her husband and friends, were waiting to get a tour of the island. After exchanging plans for a few minutes, we were on our way to our destination. We decided to walk past all the taxis and simply make our way on foot to The Boatyard.

 

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Word to the wise: Make sure to take a pic of this rates and make sure the taxi drivers stick to it. For example, The Boatyard is in Carlisle Bay and according to the posted rate, it should be $4 per person US one way to Carlisle Bay but we have NEVER been quoted less than $5 for the trip. The last time we were here the driver told us that "those were old rates" and the sign needed to be updated. Apparently, two years later, it still needs replacing since it was the same as it was last time. This would be my 4th time on the island and DW’s 2nd. Not once had we had an experience with taxis that can be described even close to good. Even though there’s a “dispatch” area, a lot of the drivers are very pushy. All taxis inside the terminal are shared whether you like it or not. If you want a private taxi you have two options: to basically buy-out all other remaining seats or walk outside the terminal and grab one there. Sometimes the drivers wait around for the last one or two passengers while you bake in the sun on a hot van. Last year we waited over 30 minutes and we were basically taken to another van when all passengers got tired of waiting and sweating and got off the van. When another driver saw this, he said he’d take us. Our original driver didn’t even look twice when he saw us leaving with another driver.

 

This is the taxi dispatch area. They simply ask you were you are going and they point you to a driver.

 

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How long was the walk from the Cruise Terminal to the Boatyard ? We are thinking of walking it and just want to make sure its possible and we won't get lost. We will be going on the Dawn in a few weeks!

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16 hours ago, dltvermont said:

 

I hear you on the Fascination, but if I remember right reading your reviews, you have done that itinerary multiple times. We have only done it once and loved it. I never thought of looking at RCL. Will have to take a look at their itinerary. We went to the ABC islands last spring when our Jade itinerary was changed due to the hurricane hitting your area. Love them!

 

Just a heads up, looking at RCL, for the next 16 hours they are having a sale on the southern itinerary our of PR, 60%off second guest.

 

I honestly liked the Fascination. Yes it's old and small but I thought it was just the right size for the type of itinerary it does. Being that it's so port intensive, the ship is secondary to the islands. Still, I'm sure we'd enjoyed another trip on her all the same. That said, we just want to mix up the islands next time and that's why we are planning for sailings that visit the ABC's.

 

Thanks for the heads up about that sale over at RCL. It eased pretty tempting but maybe I'll bite on one of those sales if I end up canceling the Epic booking.

 

Fun fact: I drove just over an hour from where i live tonight just to catch my first ever look at the Epic since it was diverted to San Juan for repairs due to mechanical difficulties. To make matters worse she hit the end of the pier causing one of the platforms where the mooring pylons are located to collapse! She didn't suffer any damage, apparently. She was alongside Celebrity's Edge.

 

 

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11 hours ago, trippingpara said:

Hey Stinger-pr!  So good to see you writing another one of your awesome reviews here on the NCL boards!  We just booked our first NCL cruise to the Baltics for 2020.  It's always good to see a familiar face in the crowd!  As usual, another great review and some awesome photos to boot.  I appreciate some of the comparisons that you've added in between your experience on NCL and Carnival.  That really helps us as we've done the Carnival sailing several times out of PR and always had similar experiences to you on them.  Many thanks my friend!

 

Cheers,

Trip

Hey Trip!! Thanks for stopping by and for your compliments my friend. Your reviews are also top notch and I especially enjoyed your recent one on your Alaska sailing. We definitely grabbed some pointers from you since an Alaskan cruise is also on our radar. Ain't it funny?? People from the States come to PR to escape from the cold of winter and we want to leave the tropics for a week of cold weather. Hahaha....

 

Thanks for following and take care!!

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11 hours ago, juneholaday said:

I did the EPIC this past summer in Europe, Roundtrip Barcelona. I will NEVER book a ship that large again if all 4000+ passenger ships are the same. Could never get into dinner in the MDR. Must make a reservation or wait forever. Ate dinner every night in the buffet. Buffet was excellent though - one of the best I've seen. Could not get into shows unless you booked pre cruise. No elevator mid ships! Only one forward and one aft making them impossibly crowded. Travelling with my parents in their 80's and to have them climb more than 2 or 3 flights of stairs was criminal. Since our itinerary was so port intensive (off the ship at 6:30am, back on at 7pm) we only ate and slept on the ship. I remember walking by the pool saying to my husband that I hope this ship doesn't go to the Caribbean because the pool is much too small for the capacity of passengers. Our cabin steward was amazing but our other two companion cabins on another deck had a terrible time. They couldn't even get ice in their ice buckets all week. And the bathrooms in the cabins.... OMG! The sink is next to the bed. The toilet is in its own cubby and the shower is in its own cubby. The shower was great. The toilet was cramped and stifling. Thank goodness we brought POO-Pouri with us. We were in an inside cabin and there was no light bright enough to read by. The brightest light was in the toilet so makeup application, shaving and reading all took place in there. Our other family members had balcony cabins and so they did all their shaving and makeup on the balcony. At night it was as dark as our inside cabin. Oh, and the a/c didn't get cold enough so my husband and I slept under soaked bath towels to cool us down. Yikes! Please think about your situation before booking this ship. Consider the type of cabin, the age and girth of the passengers, mobility issues and food choices. Fabulous trip and itinerary but the ship I could do without ever again. Best of luck!

I was aware of the design quirks of the Epic when I decided to book so that is not what worries me. Quality of food and service and lack of enough personnel would definitely be very important and those are the points I constantly hear the Epic failing. We'll see...

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9 hours ago, bluehawk47 said:

Thanks again for your great review.  We will be on the Dawn in 5 weeks 🙂

We were on the Epic last year for spring break and it is a weird ship.  It if wasn't so crowded, it would have been fine, but it was a 4 nighter out of florida, so it was FULL of college kids.  They were well behaved, but there were soooooo many of them and they took over the ship.  There were times that it took 25 minutes to get a drink.  Thank goodness we could get two at a time.  Last year's cruise is the main reason we are doing a 7 nighter out of San Juan.  I figure the college kids will not fly to Puerto Rico to board a ship.  As far as the Epic , it has a weird layout, but I would do it again if we could travel during the off season.  Being a teacher, I am limited to the peak times. 

 

Oh, you'd be amazed at how many spring breakers flock down to PR. But my experience is that, at least on land based resorts and hotels, they usually behave ok. Sure, they still like to party and have a good time but they generally behave. March is smack dab in spring break. I just hope, like you said, hopefully they don't fly down to get on a ship.  we'll see...

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3 hours ago, JaysMom2 said:

Yeah it was in the nighttime news locally too. I wonder if the ship had lateral propulsion issues since that pier had wide berths and an angle comfortable enough for it to have come in at a different angle. If I'm not mistaken, it's the first cruise ship to hit a dock here in PR, although the Cataño ferry hit this pier a few weeks ago. Thankfully no one got hurt.

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Hi Stinger-pr...when you had drinks at O'Sheehan's bar were Aaron and Wantu bartending?  They were the BEST on my cruise the week before.  We weren't at full capacity but I still don't know how they remember so many passenger names...

Edited by tacoville

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@Stinger-pr Thanks so much for all the information. We'll be down there a day ahead of the cruise for our NCL Dawn sailing March 24th (flying in on the 23rd), hope it's not too crazy with the spring breakers, lol!!

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On 2/12/2019 at 11:13 PM, Jcdcruise said:

How long was the walk from the Cruise Terminal to the Boatyard ? We are thinking of walking it and just want to make sure its possible and we won't get lost. We will be going on the Dawn in a few weeks!

According to the timestamps from my pictures it was 36 minutes from the terminal exit to the Boatyard entrance. Which I think it wasn't too bad considering we stopped for pictures more than a few times and were walking at a very leisurely pace. The walk is pretty straight forward. Just keep the water to your right as you exit the terminal and once the street turns slight right then a sharp left. Keep walking against the flow of traffic until you reach a bridge to your right. Go across and keep walking until you reach the entrance to Boatyard.

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