We just got back from a 7 day Eastern cruise on the Sun. This was our 5th cruise and 2nd on NCL. This cruise fit our budget and timeframe however our kids were a bit disappointed that we didn't go on the new Disney ship It was over 2x what we paid for the NCL cruise, with almost the same itinerary. We spent the night before at the Radisson and used their parking and shuttle service. Going to the port was easy enough, but coming back was entirely different. Check --in at the port was easy and we got our cards and headed on board. Once on board headed made our reservations for the specialty restaurants, got a couple of soda stickers. Then moved up to the main buffet for some lunch. Food seemed like it was going to be good here and it pretty much was for breakfast. There is an omelet bar and waffle station right up front. I don't know why people don't use the buffets at the aft section of the ship. We used them almost exclusively and rarely had to wait in line. There was no waffle station back there, but there was an omelet station. Also a soft serve machine that didn't run out nearly as fast as the one in the buffet. Eating on the fantail for breakfast was always a great way to start our day.
We were on deck 10 mid ship. The room, was small, but functional. There could be some more electrical outlets, but we brought a small powerstrip so it wasn't that big of deal. The bathroom however was way too small and the shower was just about not functional due to the size. You could not keep the floor from getting soaked when taking a shower. Also no bar soap, only a soap and shampoo dispensers. This made taking a shower and getting soap really difficult. When I booked the cruise I specifically asked for a room that would sleep 5 as my two daughters (ages 11, 12) do not do well sleeping the same bed. Either that request got overlooked or NCL can't configure a room to sleep 5. Both girls never got a good night's sleep and several times were up in the middle of the night solving stolen cover battles. Our bed was terribly hard with two very hard pillow and two mostly comfortable pillows. Mid-week I ask our cabin steward for a couple more pillows and that made things better. Our steward was great, kept the room very clean, stocked with ice and towels. We got towel animals every night.
Our first stop was in Nassau. We didn't plan any excursions as we had been there several times in the past. We basically just walked around, did a bit of shopping, got some ice cream and headed back to the ship. The kids used the pools and hot tubs. The pool was closed early on the departure day due to poop. It was also closed coming out of Nassau due to rough seas. The adult pool was closed once due to a kid dumping ice cream on another kid, and that kid jumped into the pool. A couple of bad things regarding the pool, that should be pointed out. Before we ever left Port Canaveral , the kids (many) were in the pools and hot tubs. A woman came up and threw my kids and the kids that they were playing with out of the hot tub so that she could have one by herself. I approached her to find out a) had my kids done something, b) why she felt like she needed to speak to my kids. This woman, obviously intoxicated, lit into me like crazy. She cursed and yelled and said the kids should be up on deck 12 (the little tyke pool). I mentioned that I paid as much for my cruise as she did and my kids and their friends had as much right to the pool and hot tubs as she did. At this point, she wanted to physically fight. I was totally shocked and exchanged some pretty heated words. Instead of making a bad situation worse, I went and got a uniformed officer. As I did, the woman and her partner split up and started to in different directions. I wasn't about to let her get away, so the officer and I followed her to another table away from the pools. She accused me of accosting her and that she had been on other NCL cruises where the kids were only allowed to use the pool on deck 12. The officer took our cabin information and explained to the woman that the kids could use the pool and the hot tubs and the she should not throw anyone out. She grumbled as we walked away, but I never saw her again at the pool.
Another bad incident happened on our sea day and involved a teenager doing back flips into the adult pool. Several other kids, pre-teens and tee ager were also diving and swimming into the pool. Several adults were in the pool and were getting splashed. A member of the cruise director team came by and told the kids to get over into the kid pool. They did, but as soon as he left, they went back to diving and jumping into the adult pool. The staff member came back and threw them out again, but this time the teenager that was doing backflips into the pool got really mouthy and disrespectful. Security had to be called to handle the situation. In both cases, NCL did a great job at handling both these situations. They could have done better patrolling the pool area but mostly everyone followed the rules.
One of the main attractions of NCL for us is the freestyle dining. We like to eat at various times depending on what we're doing for the day. So for this cruise, instead of buying cruise pictures we decided to splurge on some of the specialty restaurants on board. Also the kids ate from the regular menu at half price, so this was a plus as well. We did eat in both MDRs and quite frankly I wasn't impressed with either. The lobster on the first night was good but from there, things just weren't all that great. Not bad, but nothing that we were blown away about. Just a total lack of flavor in most of the food. Service was interesting as well. On our first night, the server never really said a word to us, he just sort of mumbled a lot; maybe his English was not good or something. The servers all seemed to be very busy, but the dining rooms never were full (we ate at different times in the evening) so I don't know why service was so spotty and slow. Desserts were also not all that great either. Again not bad, but just no WOW factor. So for our splurges we ate at Le Bistro and it was outstanding, both in food and service. Il Aldagio was excellent and our server was the best on the trip. East meets West, was just okay although it was my favorite for decor and Teppanyaki is very small and nothing special and not worth the $25 supplement. The chefs though, were very entertaining, but if you ever have been to a Japanese steak house or hibachi then you've seen this one. We didn't try Moderno
We were there with two daughters' ages 11 and 12. We enrolled them in the kids club but we could never get them to go. They have been active in the clubs in previous cruises, but for the last couple as the have moved up to the tween club, there's less real activities and more computer and video games. The club on the Sun seemed sterile and the tweens were not segregated from the smaller kids. My girls were taught to wait their turn, share and be polite. This isn't always the case in these clubs where kids (mostly boys) seem to check their manners when they come to the clubs. This is really the big turn off for the clubs, as both have mentioned that getting to use a video game or computer was difficult and the planned activities were just managed chaos.
Our second stop was St. Thomas. This was a first for us, and we really enjoyed the scenery. We booked the Turtle Bay excursion through NCL simply for the ease to getting it done. The excursion was outstanding. Captain Joe and crew made a great afternoon of snorkeling and diving. The weather was awesome and waters were warm. It was great to set sail, sit back and cruise. After snorkeling the bar was opened up and the rum punch flowed freely. We met some friends that we had made in an earlier show and just had the best time. Our next stop was San Juan, and we just hopped off in Old San Juan and explored the area. We hit both forts (Mondello has awesome views), shopped some of the stores and markets and had some froyo at Blitz on the way back to the ship. (Coconut with mango was the best). Our last stop was Great Stirrup Cay, but as we got up that morning, the skies were very cloudy and then heavy showers came. They had suspended the tenders for a while, but around 1:00pm we went over to the island. All the activities had been cancelled and we got a refund for the slide tickets we bought in advance. There weren't a lot of people around so there were lots of chairs. Unfortunately they started taking down the food and the drinks about an hour after we got there. The kids were able to get something to eat, but my wife and I missed out. I think in lieu of the bad weather, it would have been nice of NCL to extend our time at GSC by a couple of hours, since the run-up back to Port Canaveral would have been fairly short. As we were leaving on one of the last tenders, the sun came out and it was a beautiful day.
. The ship was very clean, and was being maintained throughout the cruise. The common areas were always in good shape. The only negative, I thought the outside of the ship (the Sun painting), seemed drab and faded. I don't think that the outside of the ship got a paint job when the ship was in dry dock last year. The Sun is a smaller, more intimate ship. I like cruising on smaller ships versus the big behemoths and on this trip the ship didn't seem at all full. The restaurants, especially the specialty ones, never seemed full and the MDRs were never full at all. The only areas that were crowded were the pool area and the buffet. There did seem to be a larger percentage of seniors on this ship that we have seen in the past. Another thing to point out about the Sun, it can be confusing to get around some of the public areas. Basically if you want to get to the aft area or the forward areas, it is best to stay on your cabin's floor and then use the forward or aft elevators. Otherwise, going up or down mid-ship, you may end up walking through the Casino or through Dazzles night club to get to some other part of the ship. Also the casino allows smoking and you can really tell that in the areas around the casino.
The shows were good overall. The hypnotist and magician were great. Matt Marcy (Magician) was excellent and did an additional close up magic show. He watched as my daughter showed him a trick and was really impressed (he was very nice). The other show we caught was the "Rock On" show. It was okay and later we met the lead singer in the show. He was very nice, extremely polite and soft spoken. Totally different than the persona he had on stage. The comedian on the last night of shows was also very funny and did a clean but entertaining show.
I must also commend cruise director Jamie and her staff. Jamie was always visible and approachable and truly seems to enjoy what she does. All of the Sun's staff and crew were extremely helpful, polite and professional.
For what we wanted out of this vacation, I would say that NCL met and at times exceeded our expectations. The crew was phenomenal, the stops were great and the food and service in the specialty restaurants was excellent. The kids clubs, crew production shows and food in the MDRs were a bit of a letdown, but nothing that would spoil this great time. Happy Cruising!!