Pretty much every year as many of the women of our family as can make it get together for a cruise. This year there were just 3 of us, 2 baby-boomers and 1 Gen Xer. We were able to share a large inside cabin on the Norwegian Sun with plenty of room to spare. There was enough storage space for all of us with shelves left over, though we could have used more hangers. Probably, if we could have remembered to mention it to our cabin steward, he would have brought some to us.
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale instead of Miami(better prices), and stayed at the Hyatt Pier 66 (always a favorite of our fellow Cruise Critic members). We agree, it was a good choice. It's right on the Water Taxi route, and we spent a fun day on the Water Taxi. It was fun riding right through the cruiseport, past ships we had sailed on in the past.
On cruise day, we took a taxi to the Miami cruiseport. There was someone right there to take our suitcases and direct us to the check-in area, and it was no More
time at all til we were checked in and onboard. Easy peasy! Once onboard we were able to go right to our cabin and drop off our carry-ons, then off to the buffet for lunch (we were too late for the dining room).
We'd been on the Sun before, but since then we've been on the Spirit and the Star, so it took a while to find our way around again, but we eventually got it. The ship still looks great. In looking around the ship, I couldn't find a single thing that looked old or in need of replacement, except possibly the old-style tube TV in our cabin. (Didn't especially care for the fake flowers and greenery in the atrium area, though.) We like the Sun's size. She's big enough to offer lots to do and a variety of places to eat and drink, but not so big that you have to factor in lots of "transportation time" to get from one place to another.
On our first sea day we had our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet, which was well attended by Cruise Critic members and officers of the ship. They gave a brief presentation highlighting what types of services the ship offers, and gave us cards indicating how to reach them with questions or comments. They also arranged for a galley tour with Executive Chef Ricardo Pinheiro, which was fun & informative...you never saw so much sparkling stainless steel!
Each night our wonderful cabin steward, Rocky, left towel animals for us. I'm not sure what there is about towel animals that delights us so much, but they sure do! And the pillow chocolates, too. Then, there were those wonderfully comfortable beds. Between those, and the extra pillows Rocky brought us, and the darkness of an inside cabin, we slept better that we do at home.
Which is good, because there was lots to do during the day. We probably didn't manage to hit half the things we circled in the Freestyle Daily! We didn't really make an effort to attend the trivia sessions (a former favorite) because we're not fans of the way you need to attend all of them and get cards signed to present at the end of the cruise, instead of each session being a complete game. Award the darn prize at the end of each session, even if it's only a pencil!
We found the food to be consistantly good in the dining rooms and buffets. We never had to wait for a table. We can see the difference over the years, as there are fewer choices on the menus than in years past. We missed the cold soups and the escargot. The service isn't as formal (still good service, though) with no fancy-folded napkins, fewer assistant waiters, and our waiter brought the wine, as well. The portions are a bit smaller. Not saying that's a bad thing! One of our group has to eat gluten-free, and when we mentioned that to our waiters, they always checked with the chef and made sure everything they brought out for her was gluten-free. The only extra-fee restaurant we ate in was Moderno, and that was a great experience from start to finish, from quality of food to quality of service. We all enjoyed that (and when do 3 women agree on anything?) and highly recommend it.
We enjoyed the onboard entertainment,and attended each evening's performance. But the big favorite was the cruise staff's performance of "Fountains". Two of us had seen it before, but the third had not, and I thought she might hurt herself from laughing so hard! Seriously, it is that funny! Do not miss it!
We only used the ship's shore excursion at one port, St. Thomas, because there were several ships in port that day, and we have seen before the traffic jam that can happen when several thousand people are trying to get back to their ship at the same time. At each other port we simply got off and took a taxi to what we wanted to see.
Something new that surprised (and delighted) us: the "Welcome Home" ship-side at each port. They put up an awning for shade with some chairs under it, and tables with ice water, fruit punch, cookies, and, at least once, rum punch (free), and had a steward with a tray of cold towels to refresh with. What a great idea! Various officers and cruise staff were there each day, and it felt like a party.
We've noticed that ships tend to have different "happiness levels". On some ships the staff feels stressed-out or like they'd rather be almost anywhere else. This ship feels happy. Everyone seems to work together happily, and seems to have a smile and a pleasant word to each other as they pass. That makes it a great ship to be a passenger on.