We did not reach the Port of Miami before our targeted arrival time of 11 AM. We got there at about 11:50 AM, and the terminal was packed. Our taxi dropped us off and a luggage handler took our luggage and affixed luggage tags to them with our cabin number (which was on our cruise "ticket").
Going through security was a bit tough as we had a toddler on a stroller, but because of that we were able to skip some of the waiting after checking in and receiving our room key cards. We didn't have to wait too long to start boarding as we were allowed to go with the group currently boarding because of the our son on a stroller.
On our previous couple of NCL cruises, we were offered eithe a bubbly drink or juice as we got on board. Not this time though- cost cutting, perhaps. We wanted go to deck 12 for the Garden Cafe to eat lunch, but this was where having a stroller became a bad obstacle. There was a mass of people waiting in front of the elevators, and long waits for the elevators to finally open on floor (deck 7). And even when the elevators became elevator, much of the time we could not get in because our stroller would not fit inside next to the people. What was annoying was one NCL personnel hogging an elevator and reserving it apparently for some other guests more important than everyone else for literally over 10 minutes. We finally got onto an elevator to go upstairs to deck 12, but not until over 20 minutes of waiting.
The Garden Cafe was literally jam packed. We could not find a seat so we sat and ate in the Kid's Area of the cafe with our son. It was sad though to see quite a few people without children come into the area and snatch up seats and tables, while other guests who had kids and strollers were left on the outside looking in. Later on it was announced that one of the main dining rooms was open, a fact that we wish we knew before making the decision to go to the Garden Cafe. Then again it was partly our fault- we didn't get to the cruise port by 11 AM like we wanted, and this was the result.
The cabins were ready by around 2 PM, and we went and took a nap before the mandatory drill at 3:30 PM. We had reserved an inside cabin, but NCL upgraded us to an ocean-view stateroom on deck 4. That was nice of them, though we would find out out that our deck 4 cabin on the Norwegian Dawn are harder to get to than we had experienced. NCL sectioned off a portion of deck 4 as a staging area for dealing with people who had innocently (or not so innocently) brought booze aboard on their luggage. This caused a massive log jam on the stairs and made it much more difficult for us to traverse up and down stairs. The elevator too didn't even allow us to activate deck 4 because of this.
The cabin itself was nice and clean. One thing we noticed that was different from our previous Norwegian Dawn cruise was the flat-screen 26" TV. It was nice especially for the TV to display the channel name before the image of the channel materialized. We asked for a crib and one was delivered after we came back from dinner. It was a nice modern crib, though the sheets were improvised from regular bed sheets, so we chose to use our the baby/toddler bed cover we brought with us. One problem with the room is the drawers make LOUD creaking sounds when opening and closing. This could be an issue if guests of the same cabin have different sleep and wake schedules such as in our case with our toddler.
We had dinner at the Aqua Restaurant as it was lobster night. It was nice that they had a kid's menu too for our 18 month-old son. The polenta cake appetizer was very good. The lobster and fish entree was a bit overcooked. The lobster tail was only half of a full tail, but you could ask for an additional one if you'd liked (we didn't). The key lime pie dessert was good. Our son enjoyed the macaroni and cheese from the kid's menu. Service was very good and food came out reasonably fast.
Then it was on to the show at Stardust Theater. The dancers and singers came out and did a number. Then the cruise director Paul Scally had some funny bits with the audience. A singer came out and she did a solo. Then comedian Dave Heenan came out and was hilarious. Even though much the material was the same as when we last seen him on a previous NCL cruise, he still had me laughing so hard that tears were coming out.
Comedian Dave Heenan was center stage for his own show tonight. Much of the material we've actually seen in his other shows from previous NCL shows. Still funny, but interestingly his opening night performance was funnier.
The "V" show, or the variety show, consisted of dance/singing performances from the Norwegian Dawn production company. Radim Zenkl also performed again with the mandolin and a funky horn-shaped flute. Greg London also gave a preview of his performance for the upcoming night with a trio of songs. Overall the show was quite entertaining. Attendance was way up there, but perhaps just a tad under what Terrance B drew.