Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by kjquilts: Outstanding Trip to Alaska on the Norwegian Sun
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Outstanding Trip to Alaska on the Norwegian Sun
This is new itinerary for Norwegian this year - Sun alternating Vancouver BC to Whittier AK and then Whittier AK to Vancouver BC with slight itinerary changes on the return trip. Our Northbound itinerary was Monday - Vancouver BC - Tuesday Cruising Inside Passage - Wednesday Ketchikan 7 to 4 - Thursday Juneau 10 to 8 - Friday Skagway 7 to 8 - Saturday Glacier Bay - Sunday Hubbard Glacier - Monday Whittier AK. We thought the scenery was just amazing - much better than our previous round trip Alaska out of Seattle. The mountains are glorious. Only had a little drizzle a couple of times - most days the high was in high 50's or low 60's but Anchorage was an amazing 79. Seas were very smooth.
There were four of us 60 someones on this sailing - myself, dh and our two best friends. We shared bow balcony stateroom 1002 which was just perfect for the Alaska one way itinerary. We took stretchy bands to tie the curtains back for better view. All of our luggage fit under the bed. It More was our turn for the real bed but we were told couch was comfortable as bed without egg crate. Supplied pillows were on the firm side but received soft one without any problem.
We live in Oregon. Drove to Seattle morning of cruise - parked at the Extra Car parking lot near airport - they took us to Seatac where we caught the light rail to the international stop where we got off and walked about a block to Amtrak station and then took the Amtrak to Vancouver. Needed two taxis to get to the port (they are VERY small, but not very expensive). Boarding at the port was uneventful and didn't take too long.
Most mornings we ordered a pre-breakfast from room service - 4 chocolate croissants, 2 bran muffins, 4 orange juices and regular and decaf coffee. After checking out the balcony views we'd wander back to the Moderno section of the Garden Cafe and finish our breakfast there. The mini buffet section there had everything we wanted/needed with hardly any line at all. We loved the Garden Cafe area on the Sun - plenty of room between tables and the tables themselves are attractive Couple times we took our food to Great Outdoors but usually ate in the Cafe itself or in the Sports Bar next door.
We liked it so well we did most of our lunches here too.
We followed the dress in layers approach and it worked very well. Scarves and gloves were useful in the mornings - especially Glacier Bay Day where I was up at 5 am. Went upstairs to the Observation Lounge and its outside deck since none of my roomies were ready to get up that early. I had staked out a nice side table right next to a window. When room service called to advise they were on their way we had our mini breakfast brought to the Observation Lounge. Stayed there until we got close to the Glacier and then gave up our table and went down to our balcony and spent much of the day there.
Dinners - we ate at both Seven Seas and Four Seasons and didn't really have a preference. We'd look at the posted menus and make our choice. No waiting at all - sometimes we ate around 6 and sometimes around 8. Our platinum LeBistro dinner was wonderful
Our cruise critic meeting was well attended and our leader put together an impromptu cabin crawl that was a lot of fun. We enjoyed visiting with other cc members throughout the cruise.
Because the Sun is older and smaller she doesn't have some of the entertainment options of the bigger ships but Alaska is the main attraction on this cruise. The comedian was really funny. The singers in the Observation Lounge were good and we enjoyed them. There were quite a few dance classes and they were well attended and enjoyable. There are new shows in the works for the Sun - not sure when but they're working on them now.
I got a GLASS Rebellious Fish bowl. Saw them in the LasRamblas bar being used as candleholders and asked nicely if there was any way I could get one ... answer was no. Asked later in the Observation Lounge if any were available ... answer was no. Later in cruise Rebellious Fish was drink of the day and I was going to order one in the Observation Lounge but changed my order when it was going to cost an extra $2.75ish for what I assumed was plastic bowl. The bartender brought me the Rebellious Fish drink anyway (delicious) in the GLASS bowl and didn't charge me extra for it. He got a very nice tip
There were not enough Platinum cruisers to do a separate ship tour for them so we were included in the longer "paid" ship tour. It was a great tour and we really enjoyed it. Highlight - chef (St. Clair?) who when I mentioned really missing the chilled soups said no problem, we can make that for you. On the spot he asked one of the cooks to make a batch of chilled strawberry soup and said it would be waiting for us at the galley that evening. Our server was very surprised but it was in fact waiting and was delicious
There was no chair hog problem Did see a few brave swimmers in the pools. The hot tubs did see some use but not by us.
Ketchikan -- took the free local shuttle to main downtown stop where we caught the local bus (think it was $2) and went to Totem Bight. Came back on the bus and stayed on until the Creek Street stop right by the museum. Went through the museum then wandered Creek Street. Took the free local shuttle back to the ship.
Juneau -- chose a tour at the area right off the ship. We did a 3 1/2 hour tour that included city tour, Mendenhall Glacier and Shrine of St. Therese. This was a very good tour and we really enjoyed it. Had time to wander the shops before and after the tour.
Skagway - did the Dyea Dave tour to Emerald Lake. Price was $79 pp for approximately 7 1/2 hour tour. Scenery was beautiful and we really enjoyed our lunch stop at Carcross. When we got back we had driver drop us off downtown so we could wander the shops. Could have taken the city bus back to the pier for $2 but it was beautiful out and not far so we just walked. Once you reached the pier there is a free shuttle to take you to the ship.
Glacier Bay is still amazingly beautiful. We also really enjoyed Hubbard Glacier. It was extremely foggy (we couldn't see from balcony door to end of balcony) around 6 when we were supposed to be entering the area but the fog did lift and we were able to get fairly close to the glacier itself. After we did the turn and were starting out we went to the Great Outdoors and had breakfast and enjoyed the scenery.
Whittier is tiny. We had prebooked a 3 1/2 hour wildlife transfer tour to Anchorage through Alaska Tour and Travel. We needed to be in the cruise terminal by 9:45 with luggage. The disembarking times for independent travelers were not good - either very early or too late. I went to the main desk and asked for the 8:45 slot as we are platinum members and received the requested luggage tags with no problem. It was interesting - we did not clear customs when we left the ship - simply walked off and got our luggage. The bus was already there waiting and the tour was wonderful. We really enjoyed the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center stop.
Anchorage - our flight was not until 12:30am so we had a lot of time to "kill". We had a car reserved at the Anchorage airport, drove it downtown, parked and started wandering. I tripped over a short piece of metal pipe sticking out of the sidewalk and fell flat - hitting one knee very hard on the way down. Was seriously afraid to try getting up but aside from swelling and very ugly bruising on my knee appear to be ok. Got a temporary ice pack at the Alaska Visitor Center and a bag of ice at the pub where we had lunch and I think that helped. After flying from Anchorage to Seattle we still had a 3 1/2 hour drive to get home. No more red eye flights after cruises for us - - we either get earlier flight out, spend the night and fly the next day, or for this itinerary do a back to back.
We recommend bringing both sunscreen and mosquito repellant as well as camera and binoculars if you are doing an Alaska cruise. Also, when looking for bears along the shore even with good binoculars remember that the distance is much greater than it appears so the bears you are looking for are very small. We saw several bears along the water edge - sometimes they looked like rocks until they moved and you could see their legs. Mountain goats are the same - very tiny.
On our trip back from Emerald Lake we saw a bear eating dandelions right next to the highway. Tour driver screeched to a stop and we were able to get some photos. Here is a link to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where we stopped on our tour transfer from Whittier to Anchorage
We loved this stop and would have loved to spend more time there.
The Sun was our very first Norwegian ship and I'd forgotten how much we loved her. The crew is just wonderful. The ship layout is a little confusing but she's smaller so if you get it wrong it doesn't take long to get where you really want to be. There are lots of places for sitting and sightseeing. She has a real promenade deck and there were some loungers and a couple tables with chairs. We enjoyed this cruise so much we're planning on booking her for one of the longer southern caribbean cruises or possibly an Alaska back to back if they don't change her itineraries in the next couple of years.
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