NCL Sun Review
March 17-24 Western Caribbean: Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Great Stirrup Cay
Travel Party and background:
6 adults, age range is 35-41. Couples Cruise! This was my 9th cruise. 5 on NCL, 2 on RCL. 1 on Carnival and 1 on Disney. 7th for my husband and one couple and 2nd for the other couple. This was the first on NCL of our four friends. The Sun was our very first cruise 9 years ago! We were excited to cruise her again! This was a last minute cruise for us-there was a great one day sale in December and our friends convinced us to join them on their anniversary cruise. We usually book about 9 months out, so 3 months out was last minute for us! We used an online travel agent because they offered a $25 onboard credit and $70 towards a shore excursion.
We redeemed Priority Club points for the Holiday Inn Express in Cocoa, FL. Not the one on the beach, the one in town. It was right off the expressway, great location. It was 10-15 minutes to Park n Cruise.
We parked at the new Park N Cruise. We arrived about 10:30. I was glad we were early, by the time we parked and checked in, there was a huge line. Apparently, the Sun was late disembarking and that caused a back up in the shuttle process. We only waited about 20 minutes which was fine. Nice shaded area. However, the ride back was chaos! No organization! Shuttles pulled up and people from everywhere just ran to the shuttle. My husband loaded 2 bags, came back to get the ones from me and could not get back on the shuttle. I finally was able to squeeze on that shuttle with our bags while he ran for another shuttle with the other bags. There really needs to be another way of doing things. I was happy to save so much on parking but not sure it was worth it in the end. We had almost decided to take a cab back because it was so chaotic! We have used the shuttle provided by the Radisson several times before and never had an issue. We may have to go back to them if the process at Park N Cruise does not improve.
Smoothest/fastest embarkation that I have ever done! From the time we gave our luggage to the porter till we were sitting on the ship was about 30 minutes! Great service!
One of the things that I have always loved about NCL was the fact that the dining room is open as soon as you walk on the boat! So, after our friends met up with us, that's where we went for lunch. We have been raving about NCL's service and the quality of their food. So of course, lunch service was terrible! Took forever! Food was good, not outstanding but decent. By the time we were done with our extended lunch, our rooms were ready. So we went to unpack our bags and then to explore the ship. We enjoyed sailaway on Deck 12. Yea vacation has really started!!
We went back and forth b/w Seven Seas and Four Seasons. We ate at Il Adagio one night. I must say, I was disappointed in the service in the main dining rooms. Our first dinner in Four Seasons took almost 2.5 hours! The table behind went thru 2 sittings during our stay! A waiter from another table finally took over and we loved him! So, whenever we went back to Four Seasons, we asked for Mark from Jamaica! Great service then, except for one night when he wasn't available. And then service was bad again! Same case with Seven Seas, we found Ling Ling and she was great! The one night we couldn't get her, she ended up at our table anyway because once again, our service was bad! This was really shocking to me! Also, we were not impressed with the food and menu choices. This in no way ruined my vacation, I didn't have to cook and/or clean so I was good! But we have been raving about the food; especially the desserts and we were disappointed. The desserts were not good, really missed the souffles. Our most recent cruise was on Carnival in October and we thought the food and the desserts were much better than NCL. That is something that I would not have said after our last NCL cruise. We did not try room service. We did love the Sports bar! Awesome wings! Really wished that is was open all day like the Blue Lagoon on other ships. We did eat at the buffet for most lunches. It was good! We thought the picnic on GSC was the best out of the 4 private islands that we have been too. It was yummy!! We tended to mainly eat lunch and breakfast at the Great Outdoor cafe. It was never crowded. Although, the inside buffet never seemed overly crowded at the times we were there. The seating could be a problem at times but we just took our stuff to the Sports Bar.
We had a guarantee inside cabin on deck 6A-Oslo. The elevator does not stop at this floor; you get off on 7 and walk down. Sounds like a pain? It wasn't! I have to say I loved this location. Our hallway was so quiet! And we were convenient to everything. Super quiet cabin. Lots of storage. I had drawers I didn't even fill up. The bed was hard so I asked the room steward for something to make it softer. This was added the second day and the bed was wonderful!
I did not like the fact that our towel animals were actually part of our replacement towels. I understand that multiple towels add to the laundry but it bothered me for some reason. I guess we could have asked for extra towels but didn't really think about it at the time. Also, I had taken some of the glasses out from time to time and they weren't replaced until I asked the room steward to do so.
As always, everything was super clean, from cabin to public areas. Staff was very friendly everywhere! They were super efficient in cleaning up in the buffet areas. My husband spent a lot of time in the casino and he thought the staff was great.
We did not attend the Broadway type shows, we did go to see the juggler and the comedian and they were outstanding!! We also enjoyed the trivia. We spent some time in the Windjammer bar listening to Piano Man Joe. If you see him, tell him the single, married, martini ladies said Hi! The Name that Tune trivia was held right after the martini testing. Let's just say that we didn't have much choice but to attend that trivia game because we could not stand! We even split the tasting 3 ways! They were strong!! We also liked hanging out in the observation lounge. Great views! Tino, the one man band, was usually there. He was ok, but we grew tired of it by the end of the cruise. The cruise director, Jamie was wonderful! She was seen all around the ship and handled the activities well. I appreciated the way her announcements were made, in the public areas and hallways, not in the rooms! We thought she did an outstanding job. Dazzles was probably our favorite hangout spot. We enjoyed the adult games shows that were played, even participated in a few! You must go listen to SolPlay! Don't miss the Salute to the Divas show. The singer knocks it out of the ballpark!
Ship did not seem crowded even though it was sold out. We figured that there were probably two in a room as opposed to families in the rooms. There did not seem to be a lot of kids on the cruise. I think we just missed most of the spring breakers!
We knew going into the cruise that the Sun was not a ship with lots of bells and whistles, like rock walls, water slides, etc. That was fine with us, for the price we paid especially. We wanted a relaxing vacation and that is what we got. I think doing your research and knowing what to expect will help to ensure a smooth vacation.
Debarkation: We were lavender-9:25 time slot. Up about 7:30 to get ready and finish packing. Then we met at the Great Outdoor Cafe for one more meal. Easy process once again. One last swipe of our card and it was over?
Now for the ports of call. I did extensive research on cruise critic to determine what we should do at each port. We also had a shore excursion credit that had to be used thru our travel agency. If you are doing this itinerary, bring your own snorkel equipment! It will be money well spent!
This is where we chose to use our credit from our travel agent. We had originally wanted to do Mr. Sanchos but that was not one of our choices. So, we chose a snorkeling activity that was thru Cozumel Watersports. We took at taxi to our meeting location and then Fernando met us there. Very organized from beginning to end. Fernando went out of his way to make sure that everyone knew what they were doing so that we would be safe and have lots of fun! He is very protective and proud of his ocean. His crew was great! I did not snorkel but everyone else in my party did. The range of experience in our group ranged from beginner to advanced diver. They all had a great time! The snorkeling wasn't that impressive but the experience was! Margaritas and rum punch helped close out our excursion. The made on board guacamole was amazing! We took at taxi back to Carlos and Charlie's for a little fun. Then we headed back to the boat. We did not want to be on the list of names they always call out before departure in Cozumel!
This was our third visit to Grand Cayman. Of course this is a tender port. I like the way that NCL does this now, you have to go get your tender ticket and wait for your # to be called. Much better than just standing in a long line waiting to board a tender. I do wish they would do it the night before so that we could sleep in a bit more! But oh well! We were tender #3. It did not take long for them to call us. We shopped around for a bit then we were ready for our beach day. We had decided to spend the day at Royal Palms. It was really hot and humid this day! We took a taxi which was $24 for the 6 of us. The water was a bit cold for my taste. My husband had his own snorkel equipment and he enjoyed the water. Our friends rented equipment and it did not work properly. So they did not enjoy the snorkeling. We had chairs and umbrellas here. There is a cost but a group of fellow cruisers were leaving as we came in and they gave us their chairs and umbrella. So we were happy! We also enjoyed the free WiFi! We did not dock till around noon this day. We ate right before we got off the ship so we would not have to spend a lot of $$ here on the island. It is very pricey! We were starting to get hungry but the kitchen closed before we could place an order, so we decided to head back to the ship. We did a little more shopping on the way back. Royal Palms was nice. There was a pool as well but there was a sign saying that it was not included in our $2 fee. This was news to me; I thought it was included based on what I had read online. Maybe it was, I am not sure because we were enjoying the beach too much to try the pool. Would I go here again? Not sure. I did like the facilities but it did seem a bit crowded. Well worth the $2 to have a bathroom and WiFi! There were 5 or 6 ships in town! Rum Point is where we have spent most of our time previously. I missed it! It is so peaceful there! No issues tendering back. Quick process.
This was the port we were most apprehensive about since we had not been there before. After tons of research we decided to use jamaicaforaday to book a day at the Jewel Dunn River resort. We were the first ones off the ship, one of the dispatch ladies sent us to an area to wait for our driver. This whole process was a little intimidating and looked like pure chaos! However, it seems that it was organized chaos. The ladies knew what they were doing! She even called our driver to let him know we were ready. We had to wait a few minutes but it was not a big deal. Our driver, Maxwell was wonderful, gave us information about the island along the way. He took us inside the Jewel and arranged a time for us to be picked up. We then paid our balance. Note: remember to take an actual print out. They will not accept it from your phone. One of our couples had forgotten theirs, so they had to use one of the computers to print it for the resort. But it all worked out! What an amazing property! We enjoyed the pool the beach, the food and the alcohol! Free Wifi again! Our guys played golf and bocce ball. They were not allowed to snorkel. Apparently, there was an accident involving a snorkeler and a jet ski recently. Disappointing but understandable. I would highly recommend this resort! Our driver was there right at the appointed time to pick us up. He then dropped us at a shopping mall to pick up some souvenirs. We were going to walk back to the ship but a taxi driver told us he would take us back for $1 each. By this time, it looked like rain was imminent so we took him up on his offer. Great day in Jamaica!
Great Stirrup Cay:
Of course, this is also a tender port. Again, we got our tickets earlier in the morning. We were Tender 2. Took a little bit because one of the tenders was tied up carrying supplies and crew over and there was seaweed in the area so they could not use the lifeboats to speed up the process. But before long, we were on the island. Wow! The water here is amazing! The guys said it was the best snorkeling yet. The beach was beautiful! Yes, there is construction but it did not bother us. We enjoyed having our chairs in the water here! A little chilly but doable. We had a lazy day, just relaxing and reading. The buffet was sooo good! Best food yet on a private island. We all agreed that this was our favorite port of call for the cruise. So relaxing! Great way to end the cruise!! Quick tender back here as well. We tendered back around 3:30.