Pre-Cruise & Embarkation: The Adventure Begins
We arrived in Florida a few days before our cruise and spent two nights in the Orlando area at the Westin Imagine and then drove to the Space Coast and stayed at the Sheraton Four Points in Cocoa Beach the night before boarding the ship. We rented a car inexpensively (definitely search online for discount codes) from Budget before and after the cruise.
Upon arrival at the port, we quickly recognized the value of our "VIP" status. We were whisked to the front of the lines for security and check-in and then directly onto the ship and to our special lunch spot in Il Adagio restaurant. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, took advantage of the opportunity to book some dinner reservations - including the Chef's Table - and were excited to learn that the Mystery Lunch was now offered on the Sun. After lunch, we explored the ship before returning to our cabin to unpack. After the Muster Drill, we finished settling in and then decided to have an informal dinner at The Sports Bar. The girls spent some time at the Kids Club while we attended the Welcome Aboard Show the first evening.
We all had a good night's sleep and I was not pleased when I heard the sound of our alarm at 6am. It was Easter Sunday morning and we were arriving in Nassau, The Bahamas. We had an exciting day ahead and need to get dressed, eat breakfast, and meet our concierge, David, just before 8am. He whisked us through a secret passageway and after a brief wait for the boat to finish clearing customs, we headed down the gangplank. My daughters were the first passengers off the ship.
We were surprised to see how many other ships were in port, including the Norwegian Sky. We docked next to the super-sized Carnival Freedom, on the other side of her was The Carnival Dream, the Disney Dream, and Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas.
We waited with others who had signed up for excursions at the same place we had - Blue Lagoon Island's Dolphin Swim (see detailed review below).
After the swim, we did a little souvenir shopping, grabbed some snacks, and then headed to the ferry for our return ride to Nassau. We were surprised to see the Easter Bunny waiting for us with goodies for the kids before we boarded the ferry. After arriving back in town, we wandered to Senor Frogs for a yummy lunch before reboarding the Sun. Once aboard, we freshened up, got a pitcher of White Sangria from Bong in the Sports Bar, and hung out on our balcony as we sailed away.
Once we were on our way again, we dropped the kids off in the Kids Club and headed to play some Bingo - and all we got was a t-shirt We picked up the girls and then participated in a family Easter Scavenger Hunt that took us all over the ship. Once we successfully completed our hunt, we skipped the family Easter party and (after feeding them dinner at the Garden Buffet) dropped the girls back at the Kids Club.
We attended the Broadway Variety Show, "Encore!" - which we both enjoyed. There are definitely some talented performers on board. But in general, the women outshine the men. DH & I then enjoyed some sushi at Ginza before retrieving the girls and heading back to our cabin for the night. The prices per piece were quite reasonable and we managed to eat dinner for $13.
Sea Day #1
We spent our next day at sea. As planned, everyone slept in - except me - and then we headed to the buffet to get the girls some "brunch". After dropping them off at the Kids Club, we headed to the Mystery lunch. We didn't really know what to expect, but were assigned to a table with three other couples & listened to the instructions. Each person assumed a character and received details about that person's life and their perspective on what had happened on the fateful night that Captain Immadead had died. We all made decisions about how much to embellish and reveal as the lunch went on. The company was excellent and the food was pretty darn good, too. in the end, our entire table was swindled as not one of correctly identified the killer among us.
After lunch, we returned to the kids club to see if the girls needed anything and DD2 requested a snack so we did a quick run to the buffet for her before returning her to the kids club for more fun. Then DH and I headed to the Windjammer bar for a martini tasting. We enjoyed tasting traditional vodka & gin martinis, a cosmopolitan, a "French Kiss," and an Espresso martini all while the bartender told us the history of the drink. In the end, I was the fastest to answer a trivia question and won a full size "Dark & Stormy" martini.
We then wandered up to Las Ramblas to participate in the Tequila & Margarita tasting. Here we had two types of Margaritas and three different Tequila shots while learning more about this spirit. By the time we left to pick up the girls, we were both feeling a little tipsy and probably should have had some water and something to eat. But we had been invited with the other suite guests to a Captain's reception & had reservations a Moderno that night so we needed to get changed and ready.
We got all dolled up & headed back out for the 7pm Captain's reception in the Observation Lounge. It was raining and windy out so we found a path that avoided going outside. The reception was very nice, but I had begun not feeling well (did you count all those martinis, margaritas, and shots? What was I thinking?). After a while, we headed to Moderno and I quickly realized that I would not be able to eat anything so I excused myself and let everyone else enjoy dinner. The folks at Moderno took very good care of the family and even sang Happy Birthday to DD1 that night. After dinner, the crew returned to the cabin happy (and stuffed) and everyone got a good night's sleep.
DH and I had scheduled massages at the spa on Tuesday morning, so we all had a quick breakfast at the Buffet and then the girls went to play in the Kids Club while we headed to the spa. DH had a relaxing Swedish Massage while I indulged in a Hot Stone Massage. Both were fabulous. We were feeling refreshed and ready to explore St. Thomas!
We picked up the girls and ordered pizza from room service for lunch while we got ready for our excursion - the jeep safari & beach day (see detailed review below).
After returning to the ship around 5pm, DH & I quickly showered and changed in anticipation of our Chef's Table experience! The girls ate a quick room service meal of mac-n-cheese while we got ready and then we dropped them off for a night of pirates plundering at the Kids Club. We were greeted at the Java Cafe by several of the ship's officers before the Executive Chef, Orwill, escorted us to a private dining area in the Four Seasons restaurant. There he briefly explained the nine course, three wine dinner that lied ahead for the 12 of us who had signed up (at $75/person).
It was fabulous. There really isn't much more to say quite honestly. It was nine courses of heaven. The dinner lasted until 10:15pm and then we found ourselves rushing to pick up the girls. We found them covered in face paint and excited from their evening of pirating. After some good scrubbing, everyone fell into bed happy.
Our planned excursion in San Juan was scheduled for 9am so we knew we needed to get moving. We headed to Il Adagio around 7:45am for breakfast and My oldest surprised our fabulous wait staff by consuming two ham & cheese omelets. Once everyone's bellies were full, we headed off the ship to meet our tour bus. We had booked the "Old San Juan & Bacardi Tour" (detailed review below).
We then chose to get off the bus in the shopping district to enjoy lunch at Vaca Bravo before returning to the ship. After cleaning up, we dropped the girls at the Kids Club so they could enjoy the special Kids Club Dinner buffet while DH & I had a date in Le Bistro. Dinner was fabulous and we left stuffed. After wandering the ship for a bit, we picked up the girls and headed to the comedy & magic show in the Stardust Theatre. We all laughed and enjoyed the show.
Sea Day #2
Thursday was another day at sea and at the girls' request, we spent much of it together. We had breakfast in Il Adagio again and then took the Chef up on his behind the scenes tour offer. It was amazing to see how the kitchens functioned and see how much pride everyone took in their work. After the tour, we browsed the gift shops, played some Bingo, and then ate lunch in the Seven Seas main dining room. The food was good, but the service wasn't up to the standard we'd become accustomed to in the specialty and Suite dining venues.
We spent the afternoon watching the crew talent show and playing trivia & bingo while My oldest participated in a Lego-building contest. That evening, we enjoyed the show (and food, of course!) of Teppanyaki and then went to see "Rock You" in the Stardust Theatre. It was a fun show that DD1 thoroughly enjoyed, but DD2 fell asleep!
Great Stirrup Cay
We woke to a dreary morning as we anchored off the coast of Great Stirrup Cay, but we got up and dressed to head out anyway. We learned later that less than half of the passengers actually got off the ship. We were on the first passenger tender to the island and quickly decided that we'd pass up the Clam Shells we had reserved and just grab loungers on the beach. Shortly after the girls entered the water, the heavens opened and the downpour began. We took shelter under one of the picnic pavilions and I was so happy I'd brought MadLibs for the girls and my book to keep us busy while we waited out the storm.
Once the rain passed, we headed back to the beach. DH & DD2 decided to go for a walk around the island while DD1 snorkeled & I read a book. Then we headed to the barbecue to get some lunch. The food was good and there were lots of options - ribs, pizza, burgers, sausage, fruit, salads, desserts. Everyone was able to find something they enjoyed and then we headed back to the beach.
DH and the girls spent some time in the water and then DD2 came out to lounge with me while DH & DD1 headed to deeper waters to do some more snorkeling. Eventually, they headed off to explore the rest of the island while DD2 napped and I read. Once they returned, and we woke up Sleeping Beauty, we decided to head back to the ship. Once back on board, we showered, began packing, and got ready for our final dinner on board.
We enjoyed a fun dinner at Moderno where Mihaela - who we'd seen at the Murder Mystery Lunch & Chef's Table - took fantastic care of us again. We then slunk back to our cabin one last time. The girls were excited to see that Fidel had left them a towel hamster all snuggled in their bed. We finished the sad job of packing and placed our luggage outside our door and then headed to bed.
Disembarkation: Sadness Sets In
I had trouble sleeping the last night, but when I finally climbed out of bed I discovered that we were already docked in Port Canaveral. We gathered our belongings, said goodbye to our wonderful cabin, and headed to Il Adagio for breakfast.
I made a quick trip to Guest Services to drop off tips for Dilip, David, & Fidel and pick up the Ship's Pin that had never been delivered to my stateroom. We then met David at Windjammer and waited to be escorted off the ship. We sadly said goodbye to the Norwegian Sun at 9am on Saturday, April 14th.
We picked up another rental from Budget (free upgrade to a Ford Explorer!) and drove back to Orlando. We spent a night at the Sheraton Suites at the airport before catching an early flight home.