Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship: Overview and Things To Do

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Launched in 2002, Norwegian Dawn isn’t exactly the newest ship on the block. However, for some cruisers, she’s the perfect fit for an upcoming vacation. The small-ish ship offers a range of itineraries all across the world, with all the convenience of a mid-sized ship.

Think just enough entertainment and dining options to keep you interested, but not too many to overwhelm you. And don’t worry — if you’re concerned that this ship might be a little too outdated for your tastes, you’ll be glad to know it received a massive overhaul in 2016.

So, wondering what Norwegian Dawn has to offer you and your family? Here’s everything you need to know about this ship, from its history and reno, to ship stats and stateroom and suite options. Plus, we’re covering all the dining, entertainment and other amenities, so you can start planning your on-board itinerary now.

Norwegian Dawn Ship Stats 

As mentioned, Norwegian Dawn is certainly not a large ship. It’s one of the smaller among Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, at 92,250 gross register tonnage (GT). For comparison, the largest ship in the world, currently, is Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, which is more than 236,000 GT, or more than double the size of Norwegian Dawn

  • Gross Tonnage: 92,250
  • Passenger Capacity: 2,340 (Double occupancy)
  • Crew Capacity: 1,032
  • Length: 965 feet

Construction and History

Launched in 2002, Norwegian Dawn first set sail from its shipyard in Germany, heading toward Manhattan for her christening. Already, Norwegian Dawn was making waves. 

The ship was originally intended to be a Star Cruises cruise ship, but then the vessel was passed on to Star Cruises’ subsidiary, Norwegian Cruise Line. Additionally, Norwegian Dawn was the very first of the cruise line’s ships to sport hull art — and, now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an NCL cruise ship that doesn’t offer some striking and colorful hull designs.

Read Also: Norwegian Pearl Cruise Ship – Overview and Things To Do

Unlike many cruise ships, Norwegian Dawn isn’t categorized into a large class of other, similar cruise ships. Instead, it only has one sister ship, Norwegian Star. Norwegian Star premiered first, in 2001. However, together, the ships are known as the Dawn-class.

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship
Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock)

Given that Norwegian Dawn is more than two decades old, the ship would eventually need an expansive overhaul and, in 2016, the ship underwent a dry dock period that included changes to suites, staterooms, restaurants and public spaces.

Additionally, two new restaurants were added to the ship, Los Lobos Cantina, a Mexican restaurant, and O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, which had already become popular at that time on newer Norwegian cruise ships.

Two new bars were added as well: The Cellars, a wine bar that took the place of the ship’s old Pearly King Pub, and Sugarcane Mojito Bar. The old Spinnaker Lounge was also changed into the Bliss Lounge. 

The extensive changes were part of Norwegian Cruise Line’s $400 million fleet upgrade program that kicked off around the same time under a new CEO. The program focused on the cruise line’s 10 oldest ships. 

Staterooms and Suites

Norwegian Dawn offers a range of both staterooms and suites. However, do note that while the staterooms received an overhaul in 2016, they weren’t completely gutted. Accordingly, you’ll notice new furnishings and decor, but the layouts are still the same. So, for staterooms, you can expect…

  • Interior staterooms
  • Oceanview staterooms
  • Balcony staterooms

Interior staterooms have a slightly beach-y feel, and come with minimal floor space and storage. Still, for those who are traveling alone or just with one other person, you’ll find that these staterooms more than meet your basic needs. Additionally, if you’re the type of cruiser who spends all your time in the ship’s public areas versus in your room, you’ll hardly notice the small size.

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: David T London /

The ship’s oceanview staterooms aren’t as nice as what you’ll find on other cruise ships with oceanview staterooms on offer. This is partially due to the oceanview windows. If your oceanview window is situated directly behind your full-size bed, you’re not going to enjoy the view very much, are you?

Sure, you could sit up in bed and take in the sights, but it’s not the same as having a large oceanview window directly across from your pillow, for sightseeing as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. 

Balcony rooms also have that beach-y vibe that you’ll find in the interior staterooms, plus spacious balconies outfitted with furnishings. Here, you will find that the balcony is accessible via a large, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall glass panel, giving you great views from bed (finally!). 

Norwegian Dawn also offers a selection of suites. You’ll be able to choose from…

  • Mini suites
  • Traditional suites
  • Penthouses
  • Owner’s suites
  • Garden villas
  • Family suites

Mini suites aren’t really suites. They’re more like oversized balcony staterooms, because, well … that’s exactly what they are. 

Otherwise, beyond these mini suites, there are more than 60 other suites, including the traditional suites, penthouses, owner’s suites and garden villas. Regardless of which suite you book, you’ll enjoy special amenities such as butler and concierge service, VIP dining, priority service, priority reservations and more. 

Norwegian Dawn The Haven Suite
Norwegian Dawn The Haven Suite (Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line)

Penthouse suites feature large balconies, walk-in closets, large living areas and even dining areas; most penthouses can sleep four people. Owner’s suites likewise sleep four, but have a little more to offer in terms of the bedroom furnishings and bathroom size. The owner’s suite bathrooms also feature whirlpools.

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However, the garden villas are the most impressive suite options on the ship (and Norwegian Cruise Line even boasts that these villas are the largest suite options at sea). At nearly 7,000 square feet, they’re certainly huge. They have space for seven cruisers over two stories, with multiple bedrooms, large bathrooms, and a huge deck. 

Norwegian Dawn The Haven Garden Villa Living Room
Norwegian Dawn The Haven Garden Villa Living Room (Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line)

Lastly, family suites are a little less impressive, as they’re more focused on giving families larger spaces to spread out than treating them to any real luxury. Some family suites come with balconies while others do not. Some come with two bedrooms while others do not. That said, you should be careful about booking a family suite if you specifically want a certain layout. 


Once you have your stateroom or suite picked out, it’s time to eat. For its small size, Norwegian Dawn offers an admirable number of complimentary and specialty dining options. Your complimentary restaurant options, which are bundled into the price of your cruise fare, include…

  • The Aqua, the main dining room, serving American-style fare
  • The Venetian, the secondary main dining room, also serving American-style cuisine
  • Bamboo Asian Restaurant, for Chinese cuisine
  • The Garden Cafe, for breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets
  • O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, for Irish pub classics and brews
  • Topsiders Bar & Grill, for burgers and hot dogs by the pool
Norwegian Dawn La Cucina
Norwegian Dawn La Cucina (Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line)

Specialty, for-an-extra-fee dining options include…

  • La Cucina, an Italian, family-style restaurant
  • Le Bistro, for a French-style fine dining experience
  • Teppanyaki, for Japanese grilling
  • Sushi, an aptly-named sushi bar
  • Los Lobos, the newer a la carte Mexican restaurant
  • Cagney’s Steakhouse, for American-style steakhouse eats
  • Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian-style steakhouse with a huge salad bar
  • Java Cafe, the coffee bar 

You can also order room service for a small convenience fee. 

Bars and Lounges

You can likewise find a wide array of spots around the ship to get a drink only. Here are your options:

  • Havana Club Cigar Bar, for if you want to enjoy a smoke with your drink
  • Gatsby’s Champagne Bar, for piano music and bubbly at night and activities by day
  • The casino bar, for smoking and drinks while you gamble
  • Bliss Lounge, for a range of drinks and live entertainment
  • Bamboo Bar, for a full lineup of sake at the sushi bar
  • The Cellars, the newer wine bar
  • Topsiders Bar, for casual pool-side drinks
  • Los Lobos Tequila Bar, a separate bar inside of Los Lobos, where you can find all things tequila
  • Sugarcane Mojito Bar, for mojitos inside of Modern Churrascaria
  • Bimini Bar, another poolside bar for tropical-style drinks
Norwegian Dawn Sugarcane Mojito Bar
Norwegian Dawn Sugarcane Mojito Bar (Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line)


But you can’t just eat and drink for the duration of your cruise. What can you do to have a little fun?

Catch a show at the Stardust Theater

Norwegian Dawn’s theater is located on decks 6 and 7 and offers musical and dance performances typically every evening. You can also find a random variety act or comedy set. Some daytime performances include family-friendly shows made with kids in mind.

Take advantage of the many daily activities 

There’s a lot going on around the ship on a daily basis, whether you want to take part in some trivia contests or you’d rather partake in an educational wine tasting class. Seminars, art auctions, pool parties — whatever your idea of fun, you can typically find an organized activity that fits your mood and tastes. 

Try your luck at the casino

Grab a drink and hit the slots. The large casino on the ship’s deck six offers slots, blackjack, craps and poker. This is also one of the few areas of the ship where you can smoke at your leisure.

Hit the pool

What’s a cruise without a sea day spent at the pool? There are two pools on deck 12 of Norwegian Dawn. The main pool is for all ages and is surrounded by loungers and hot tubs (there are five hot tubs in total).

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship
Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship (Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line)

The second pool is kids-only. However, if you go up to deck 13, you’ll find a separate waterpark for all ages. Though it doesn’t have a traditional pool, it does have a hot tub. 

Relax at the spa

If your idea of a good time is being pampered at the spa versus splashing at the pool, head to the Mandara Spa. You’ll find a range of treatments on the menu, including more traditional spa services like massages and facials, but also salon services from haircuts and styling to waxing. You can also book medispa treatments, like acupuncture or Botox injections. 


Other amenities that this cruise ship offers include an internet cafe, as well as WiFi. However, you’ll need to pay for the WiFi, even if you just intend on using the cruise line’s concierge app.

Norwegian Dawn Atrium
Norwegian Dawn Atrium (Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line)

Duty-free shops are available for purchasing everything from souvenirs to alcohol, clothes to jewelry. A library offers books and board games for borrowing. A medical center will help you out if you have any unexpected medical needs arise during your cruise. 

Children’s Programming 

Beyond the all-ages children’s areas throughout the ship, such as the waterpark and the kiddy pool on the pool deck, where the whole family can hang out, there are also kids-only spots throughout the ship. The Splash Academy offers programming for three age groups, 3 to 5, 6 to 9 and 10 to 12. Older kids will find a teens club with games and organized activities. 

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Bookings 

If you want to book a Norwegian Dawn cruise, you’ll find that the ship offers sailings to a wide range of destinations. Whether you have your heart set on a Caribbean cruise, a Mediterranean adventure or even a Transatlantic sailing, you’ll find Norwegian itineraries on Norwegian Dawn that are right for you and your family. 

Norwegian Dawn FAQ

What class cruise ship is Norwegian Dawn?

Unlike many cruise ships, Norwegian Dawn isn’t categorized into a large class of other, similar cruise ships. Instead, it only has one sister ship, Norwegian Star. Norwegian Star premiered first, in 2001. However, together, the ships are known as the Dawn-class.

How large is the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship?

Norwegian Dawn is certainly not a large ship. It’s one of the smaller among Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, at 92,250 gross register tonnage (GT). For comparison, the largest ship in the world, currently, is Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, which is more than 236,000 GT, or more than double the size.

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