As I type this review, we are driving home from Miami, post-cruise. We took a 10 day cruise to the southern Caribbean leaving from Miami and traveling to St. Thomas, Domimica, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Maarten on the NCL Sun. This is our second cruise with NCL; our first was on the Star last year.
THE GOOD: Some of the same cruise staff were on this ship! Jamie, the cruise director from the Star and her staff Beantown Brian and Sinful Sin were all there! They remembered us (because we had won the free cruise in BINGO a year ago) and we enjoyed seeing them and chatting with them throughout the cruise. They are fantastic, fun and really made that cruise fun!!!! BONUS: Sol Play, the most awesome band from the Star and based in Atlanta, Georgia was there too!!!!
Our inside cabin was HUGE. No kidding. We were both shocked at the amount of space we had as well as storage space. Last year, we had a balcony room and we both felt this room was bigger than the balcony room. We had a full length closet, two full length floor to ceiling closets with shelves, a small dresser and another small cupboard which had multiple shelves plus the safe. That was NICE! Last year, every time we opened the sliding door, the room took forever to cool back down. This year, the inside state room stayed very cool the entire cruise.
The ship itself was lovely. We both liked this ship better than the Star. There were two pools and four hot tubs on the pool deck and they were great pools! We had a very romantic dinner at the steakhouse on board and we were treated like royalty, waited on hand and foot and they even brought out an anniversary cake for us and sang. It brought tears to my eyes it was so sweet. The maitre'd (spelling?) was so sweet and thoughtful. It was the BEST meal on the ship and we did not mind spending the extra cover charge to eat there.
Bar staff at the Dazzles Nightclub and Las Ramblas were FANTASTIC! They went out of their way for us, remembering our names and drink orders the minute we got to the bar. Plus, Las Ramblas, the small little tappas bar, which was intimate and cozy, had KILLER white sangria that I fell in love with. The bartender wrote down the recipes for white, red and peach sangrias so I could make them at home.
Disembarkation was as smooth as a baby's bottom! NCL does a fabulous job on what looks like utter chaos to me! We arranged for 9:30 disembarkation and by 10 AM we were at our hotel loading up our car and hittin' the road.
THE BAD: I sent one of my bras to be washed and after two days I asked where it was and they said they lost it. A day later, it arrived on my bed with no explanation. Yet there was a bill attached! Of course they didn't forget that!
Our cabin steward Ghoni was a nice enough guy but he was a bad cabin steward. He paled in comparison to our cabin steward last year on the Star. We had to constantly ask for clean towels, the bed looked like an elephant had layed on it prior to our arrival and he acted like it was normal. The toilet had a leak in it that caused flooding onto the carpeting. When we told him about it, he questioned us as if WE caused it. We woke up and the floor was soaking wet. Not fun in bare feet. He brought a big blower in to dry it out and wanted to run it 24/7 which was like a 747 in our room it was so loud. My husband tried to explain to him that the problem wouldn't go away if the leak wasn't addressed. We called maintenance but they never fixed it. I know this is petty...but...on a ten day cruise, we got ONE towel animal. Some lady told me to complain about it but I felt it was silly to complain about it but I did look forward to it.
Dress code...Okay, I get that NCL is freestyle and I love that about NCL. However, they make a big point of saying there are "dress codes" in all dining rooms except the Four Seasons and the buffets. No shorts allowed. We paid $25 each to go to the steakhouse and we were dressed formally because it was a formal night yet there were people in the steakhouse in shorts and flip flops. We also observed this in the Seven Seas dining room on multiple nights. No shorts means no shorts. We're not snobs but we like to dress nice for dinner and if we wanted to see shorts and flip flops in the formal dining room, we would have gone to the Topsiders buffet. NCL does nothing to enforce that.
The Buffets...people act like it was their LAST MEAL EVER and they were going down on the Titanic so they better eat all they can! I cannot get over the commotion, pushing and shoving and rudeness at the buffets. This was no fault of NCL's but the clientele. The food on the buffets was always very nice, hot, fresh and delicious but the people accessing the buffets made it a miserable experience.
THE UGLY: The excursion staff in a word, sucked. The night before we were in Dominica, we booked a 4x4 Safari expedition at $79 a person. The "excursion expert" told us we were getting the last two open seats on it. GREAT! We were excited. We were told to be at the dock at 9 am for this excursion. We were. At 10 AM, the people handling this excursion finally showed up. My husband and I were last to board it...and there were no seats. In fact, it was so full, children were sitting on the laps of their parents when they really should have had their own seats. It was an open air 4x4 (almost like a military troop transporter). They offered to squeeze me on one and my husband on another. Uhhhh, no. I'm a big girl, he's a big guy, and frankly, we didn't book the excursion to do seperately. We booked it to do together. We were both disappointed. There was an excursion coordinator from NCL at the end of the pier who credited our account and offered to give us another excursion for no charge. We asked what our choices were and at that time, there were no other choices except for a waterfalls and beach tour. BTW, it was cloudy, overcast and sprinkly. Didn't really want to go to a beach BUT didn't just want to stay on the ship either. We wanted to see Dominica so we took it. That excursion didn't leave until 11 so we farted around on the pier for 2 hours waiting for the excursion to finally leave. It was a mini van taxi that was FILLED. There was one small fold down seat that my husband sat on in the back and I rode up front with the driver. Obviously, this tour was overbooked as well and they just stuck us in there. In retrospect, we both wish we wouldn't have gone. Dominica has no infrastructure..the roads are gravel, dirt, covered in pot holes, and for the majority of the trip, the driver could not go over 15 mph. The short 15 minute walk to the waterfalls was a 1/2 hour hike coming and a 1/2 hour hike going thru the rainforest on a path that was 10x worse than the road we traveled. It was rough, difficult to maneuver at times because the path was only wide enough for one person and it POURED down rain on us the entire time. We spent 3 minutes tops at the waterfall and then turned around to come back, uphill, in the rain, no railing, no safe footing...it was awful.
The beach they took us to was pure squalor. There were wild chickens and roosters roaming, garbage on the beach and the area was so poverty stricken that calling the homes shacks would be a compliment. P.S. It rained the entire time at the beach as well. The tour operator was adament we stayed the full 90 minutes there. When we finally got back to the ship and complained, the fine folks at the shore excursion desk said "Well you received it complimentary!" and they didn't care. Doesn't matter if it was complimentary if it was a HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE. They refused to understand that. We cannot believe this excursion would be up to NCL's standards. In fact, we know that Carnival pulled out of Dominca...we know why now!
That's it for the Good, Bad and Ugly. We enjoyed the cruise, we had a fantastic time, we need a vacation to recover from it, the cocktails were wonderful, the White Hot Party was big fun and we met some wonderful people from all around the world!