Since we do not drink, gamble, or bake in the sun, our cruising experience focuses primarily on itinerary, quality of service, food, and entertainment. As this was a repositioning cruise, we had no expectations concerning itinerary but were, none the less, disappointed that the stop at the lovely port city of Funchal, Madeira was a mere 5 hours. The other aspects of the cruise important to us were equally disappointing.
Although the Norwegian Sun has a very bright and colorful exterior, the cruise experience itself was quite dull and ordinary. It seems that NCL is offering a strictly economy class of service. On a scale of 6 stars we would give the Sun a weak 3 rating.
An exception was our ocean view stateroom on Deck 4. It was surprisingly spacious, especially with the beds separated, and had more than adequate storage. On the down side, the bathroom is very small. Showering in a 30" diameter shower stall More
presents its own unique challenge.
Of the two main dining rooms, Four Seasons and Seven Seas, the Seven Seas seems a bit more polished. The two have virtually the same limited menu, providing five fixed entrees plus five additional entrees that change daily. The service in both was adequate but hardly memorable. The 6 extra fee specialty restaurants aboard all have more elegant decor and appear to be far more "upscale."
Some hints suggesting the "economy class" status of the cruise include:
Artificial plants and flowers throughout the ship.
No designated enrichment speakers aboard. (Some passengers presented their own "guest" lectures.)
The Library is very small and the Photo Studio is very large.
Limited use of live music in the main theater.
Minimal, and very plain glass and tableware.
Butter in foil wrappers in the main dining rooms.
The main dining menus have no shrimp, oyster, or escargot appetizers, and very limited dessert options.
The primary Garden Cafe buffet is relatively small and has limited variety.
Large "horsy" bottles of ketchup and mustard "decorate" each of the primary buffet tables.
The main entertainment venue, the Stardust Lounge located in the stern, has poor sight lines due to inadequately raked seating and a number of interfering columns. The usual array of comics, vocalists, pianists, magicians, and jugglers performed. While there were some highlights, most were routine. The shipboard troupe of singers and dancers performed adequately but, as is usual aboard ship, they were very loud.
Most of the public gathering areas, lounges, etc. are somewhat gaudy and bustling. The exception is the Observation Lounge on Deck 12 Forward. Its decor has a nautical theme and is done mostly in dark wood, brass, and rattan. While at night it is a throbbing dance spot, during the day it is usually quiet and a great place to relax and read.
Walking around the ship is a challenge. Stateroom numbers do not follow the traditional odd numbers on one side of the ship and even on the other. Corridors are a virtual maze with several ending in dead ends. In some cases moving from bow to stern requires going up a deck and then down again. Deck 5 is a prime example. To reach the main Seven Seas Restaurant (Deck 5 Aft) from the main Atrium on Deck 5, passengers must take the elevator or stairwell up, walk to the stern, and then take the elevator or stairwell down again. In another example, all of Deck 4 is served by only the most forward of the elevator banks. This elevator bank is the only means of access to the entire ship for passengers in any port-side stateroom on Deck 4. There is no link between the starboard and port-side corridors on Deck 4 in the stern. It is impossible to avoid the smoke-filled Casino when walking toward the stern on Deck 7.