Art and appetite: cruising USA – Daily Mail
We pull out of New York harbour and glide past the Statue of Liberty. Her iconic torch reaches up in front of the memory of the twin towers. Signs reading ‘We Will Never Forget’ are dotted around the harbour buildings.
Despite the name of the ship - Norwegian Dawn - this trip has the Stars and Stripes stamped though it, port to stern. Over 95 per cent of the passengers are from the US, and just in case further confirmation were needed, a large image of Liberty is painted on the hull.
The ship itself is amazing. The advertising describes it as a floating resort and this is no exaggeration. It boasts 11 restaurants, a casino, spa and beauty centre, gym, cinema, theatre, two swimming-pools and more Jacuzzis than you can shake a stick at.
It is also furnished with some truly fine art. There are original Andy Warhol prints throughout the ship and Le Bistro (one of five speciality restaurants) has an original Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet and Matisse – wow.
This is the inaugural season for the ship and everything has a crisp, pristine newness to it. My cabin looks as though they’ve just taken off the cellophane wrapping.
Many staff are from the Philippines and they glide along model-like in their various themed outfits. There’s one crew member to every two passengers so you only have to look puzzled for a minute before a smiling face offers to help.
As good as the service is, as amazing as the art is, without doubt the number one pull for passengers on this cruise is the food.
Traditional ships have a small number of restaurants with fixed seating times: Norwegian Dawn is radically different. Not only are there no fixed times, but there are differently themed speciality restaurants which allow you to take a culinary tour of the world.
Le Bistro – as you might expect – serves French food, Bamboo serves Japanese, La Trattoria serves Italian, Salsa’s serves Tex-Mex and Cagney’s is a steakhouse. If you get the urge for traditional English food The Pearly King’s pub dishes up fish and chips.
The ship boasts a full gym and running deck, but the restaurants see much more action than the tread-mills. A member of staff revealed it was common for guests to hop from one restaurant to another in a single evening.
Later I discovered that the ship held just over 2,000 passengers but served over 2,700 evening meals. The result of this habitual overeating is not a pretty sight.
Since most of the guests join the Norwegian Dawn for the cruise experience (i.e. to eat) they don’t participate in the excursions. But for me the trips ashore made the holiday.
Activities on offer range from swimming with dolphins (Nassau) to Art Deco tours (Miami) and even having dinner with an astronaut (Kennedy Space centre).
The ship makes travelling both luxurious and effortless. You wake up in a new destination fresh to start the next adventure.
In Port Canaveral I chose the trip to Universal Studios with its fabulous Terminator 2 show that combined live action with cinematic 3D effects. Another wow experience was the Men in Black ride where you travel though town shooting marauding Aliens as you go.
In Miami I visited Little Cuba and watched cigars being made in a factory. In Nassau I snorkelled.
As the ship both starts and ends her voyage in New York I got to take two bites at the Big Apple. I visited the moving scene at Ground Zero, shopped at Macy’s (designer labels 20-30 per cent cheaper than you’d pay in London) and walked around China Town, where you can buy designer copies of more or less anything.
This package is tailor-made for the American market – and it shows. Even the lifts flash ‘have a nice day’ at you as you step out. If you can embrace the culture you will have the trip of a lifetime.
I had a great time, but occasionally found the large slice of apple pie a little difficult to stomach.