Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by grapehound: The Sun Shines in Alaska
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The Sun Shines in Alaska
Our cruise on the Sun was nothing short of fantastic in every way. We started with 2 days in Anchorage to explore the town and took a great wildlife viewing cruise in Seward with Major Marine. We booked our transfers to the ship through Norwegian which would have been flawless, except the driver was 45 minutes late for our pickup. We missed the tunnel to Whittier and were delayed getting to the ship. When we arrived, around 5:30 for a 9 pm departure, there were very long lines for embarkation. After security, check in took place in Dazzles, which was slow but fine. The staff was very cheerful and helped alleviate some of the boredom. Overall, it took about 90 minutes from arriving at the port to getting to our room.
The ship itself is perfectly sized and wonderfully staffed. We dislike all the new gizmos that ships are putting on, so the smaller and simpler Sun was perfect for us. We found navigating the ship to be easy and all the spaces we used were clean, comfortable, More and nicely finished. The Sports Bar is especially well suited to scenic cruising. We didn't go to any of the shows, so I can't comment about the theater or Dazzles. Our balcony cabin was really well laid out with plenty of storage room and a nice sized bathroom (for a cruise ship). Our steward, Grace, was incredibly friendly and sweet and did a great job keeping everything clean (and not hiding the stuff I always leave on the bed). The balcony was great for Alaska, we sat out (in coats and blankets sometimes!) almost every day to watch the scenery and take photos.
The food on the ship, most particularly in the specialty restaurants, was fantastic. We participated in the Chef's Table and it was a can't miss event. Chef Orwill was really wonderful and seemed to enjoy giving us an introduction to the menu and joking with the guests. He also did a really thorough galley tour for our small group that included some of the freezer and prep areas. As logistics enthusiasts, my husband and I were very glad we went and got some fascinating details on how the ship operates. We dined at the Italian restaurant, sushi restaurant, Teppanyaki, and Moderno. All 4 meals were notably good, even for food snobs like us. The pizza at the Italian place is fantastic, the sushi is some of the freshest I've ever had (try the snapper, so good!), and the churrascaria had some wonderfully prepared meat. Teppenyaki was a solid hibachi experience, although the show being performed by 2 filipino men making bad 1950s Chinese jokes made for a strange anthropological evening. Overall, it was well worth the extra cost for these eating experiences. The main dining rooms were fine, but the dishes mostly were bland and underseasoned. It was continental cuisine, with very little variety. There was a nice yellow curry the first night, but after that, chicken breast all the time. It would be really wonderful to see at least one ethnic dish on the menu every night. Mexican, Thai, Indian, anything with spice would be a huge improvement. Chef seemed to indicate that he was doing all he could with it and I believe him. I'm sure we are in the minority of eaters. We did find the Indian items on the buffet to be extremely good and went back for more multiple times. Other than that, the buffet was solid but usually too crowded for us.
A tip on the food: the sushi restaurant is open for lunch on sea days and is filled with both guests and crew members. It was a great experience to see the crew enjoying themselves on their breaks and days off and the food was wonderful (and a great portion for lunch).
The itinerary for the Sun was equally wonderful. We viewed Hubbard Glacier and stopped at Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We also went into Tracy Arm, but regrettably couldn't get close to the glacier due to ice. As for ports, I highly recommend that people walk to Hoonah and not just stay at the dock in Icy Strait. The people were very friendly and we saw multiple whales and eagles at a close distance on the walk to town. we also had the best fried halibut of the trip at Misty Bay Lodge in downtown Hoonah. We did a ship excursion in Juneau (Photo Safari with Gastineau Guiding) and a Dyea Dave bus tour up to the Yukon in Skagway, which were both very good. Ketchikan was by far the highlight, with excellent shopping at Rain Barrel and a floatplane trip with Randy at Mountain Air. Highly recommend both businesses.
Disembarkation in Vancouver was a breeze. We didn't think we had a lot of time, so we did walk off and managed to be the second and third people off the ship (literally!). Customs both at the dock and the airport were streamlined and simple and we had no issues getting to the cab stand at Canada Place and getting to the airport. We made it from the ship to our gate in an hour. Definitely a record!
Excellent cruise on an excellent ship. Can't say enough how much I enjoyed the Sun. Less
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