We started our trip off by flying into Ft. Lauderdale because it is a cheaper flight and lodging is cheaper. We stayed at the very fun Roadway Inn with a hotel manager named Izzy who should be a cruise director. It is a 1950's style hotel that is very clean and comfortable with a great setup for cruisers and delicious seafood to kick start your cruise. We would stay there again in a heartbeat! The only problem was that we were leaving from Miami! I will have to say that the commute there was stressful...and back was even more stressful due to a poorly run shuttle service that works out of the hotel. It has nothing to do with the hotel, but will come directly there to pick you up and is 1/2 as expensive as the other shuttle services. We quickly found out that you pay for what you get! Stay in the same city that you are leaving from to cut down on unnecessary stress! They got us to the boat late and picked us up over an hour late to get us back to the airport after the cruise. More We found the Sun to be a wonderful ship. It is smaller and easy to get from place to place. We were surprised to find it in such great shape. The Captain, hotel officer and restaurant officers were constantly roaming the ship like great administrators to insure that everything was just perfect. It was the friendliest ship that we have been on.
We enjoyed having breakfast each morning on the back of the boat at the great outdoor restaurant. It also has the fabulous self serve soft icecream machine there...soooo good! We liked seeing the food so that we'd have an idea of how tasty it would be. Often in the dining rooms the food seem bland in comparison to the buffet which offered lots of sauces etc. All of the specialty restaurants were great except the food at Adagio, the Italian restaurant. It should have been much better, we were really disappointed. They did have the very best dessert on the ship...the chocolate tart that is spectacular! We could not believe how few people were using the specialty restaurants. NCL should have run some better specials at sail away to fill them up.
We are not party animals, but we enjoyed the quieter areas on the boat with live music as well as the "Quiet Zone" on the 12th floor at the front of the ship. The Captain is very popular with the crew...he runs a tight ship and understands customer service. He has high expectations for the crew and they are the hardest workers we've seen thus far.
The pros definitely outweighed the cons. Some of the problems that we noticed was the poor communication at the front desk with a serious language barrier. The billing method is not a good one and very confusing. The internet service is SLOW and very expensive!!! There is a great deal of waiting in line for the cruise ship excursions...too much time wasted. In the non suite rooms there are 12 hangers, a pitiful blow dryer that won't style your hair but the long tube carrying the hot air will burn your skin!
A note to those who are going on the Sun...take a portable hair dryer, and 4 way plug, a little can of Fabreeze room deodorizer from the travel section at Walmart, and one of those fake flat candles with a bulb flame to act as a night light in your bathroom so that you don't have to turn on your bright bathroom light. Heavy chain smokers still make life tough for the balcony stateroom folks.
A big plus is that the cruise is too long for children and adults took over the kiddie hot tub. We missed not having a thermal suite, but use of the two sets of sauna and steam rooms was free to all! Most of the shows were great, the daily activities were ho hum. There seemed to be many cruisers complaining about the lack of communication at the spa and receiving services that were not what they requested. The crew aims to please...we loved it! Less
We caught a taxi ($7 round trip per person) to spend a fabulous day at the 5 star Hilton resort. We were able to use everything...just as the regular guests...even wifi. All I can say is go to their website and you'll understand why it was such a treat. Finally a beach that you have always wanted to see in the Caribbean! The lunch, towels, plush beach chairs and umbrellas were all included. Snorkeling was impossible due to the waves. Was it worth $55? ABSOLUTELY!!!
This place was one of the most beautiful places on the earth! The rainforest gardens are amazing, the tour of the resort was very educational. The caribe lunch with flying fish and tamarind juice was spectacular. The sulfur springs and complimentary rum punch were wonderful, too. We want to go back to Dominica...it was a beautiful island and pristine. The taxi cab ride was pretty expensive ($20 per person for 7 miles away).
We had already been to St Lucia before for a week and just wanted to snorkel. We went with a well known private tour group suggested by TA and CC (Spencer Ambrose Tours) Nice guy, but a tough tour to work out for cruisers. We couldn't even board his speedboat due to a large fishing boat tied at the only dock. St. Lucia needs to extend that dock for more business. After lots of screaming the big boat finally moved out so that we could get on our boat. Our snorkeling boat also had people on a hiking tour, resort tour, land tour and snorkeling tour. After our boat broke down and we coasted at slow speed for at least 45 minutes until we were rescued by another of his boats...then we had to drop off the other tours at Anse Chastenet and then Soufriere before finally arriving at the Jalousie Plantation. We were not allowed to use any of the resorts facilities unless we rented a $20 beach chair. The ones Spencer provided were fine, but we had planned on buying frozen drinks and getting a massage...which was impossible. The snorkeling was good. The lunch was tasty and consisted of a piece of BBQ chicken, curry spaghetti noodles, potato salad, rice, a 1/2 inch piece of fried plantain and a little piece of yam. Then we had to wait for all the other tours to be picked up before they came back for us. It was a very nice speed boat, but we only had time for snorkeling at Sugar Beach when the internet description promised Anse Chastenet also. We rushed back with all the various tour people and then were delayed by another large boat blocking our chance to dock. There was a line of three other boats behind us. We stressed out over missing the ship, but Spencer took care of us and yelled the other boat off the dock. If I were staying on the island...it would have been fine. Most of our group were in their fifties and got a bit tired of hearing the "Big Bamboo" song (a bit inappropriate) played at least 4-5 times! We did see some large row boats carrying folks to various snorkeling spots for $65, but the sea were too rough for those slow little boats full of people(like sardines). You feel safe in Spencer's nice boat. The tour may be totally different if the boat doesn't break down.
We arranged a beach break at the lovely Holland House on Great Bay. We paid $6 for a four minute round trip ride almost to the hotel on the water taxi. The water was beautiful, but we were almost run down twice by the wave riders. The Holland House was terrific and only cost $7.50 per person for a luxurious beach lounge and umbrella. We had wonderful Roy to wait on us all day and bring delicious drinks and a fabulous lunch. Drinks and lunch were extra, but reasonable with no sanitation worries like some beach bars. The hotel is lovely and the people treated us like royalty. I hate to say it, but we all kept our heads above water...got too many sniffs of sewage from somewhere.
St. Thomas was full of trash on the sidewalks and road. It was the only island on this trip like that. Our snorkel trip was to Honeymoon Beach on St. John Island on a catamaran. We had about 1 hour in the water and the rest a rum punch slow 2 hour ride back. There was too much waiting around and only one hour snorkeling for a 4 1/2 hour excursion was pitiful!