My wife and I just completed our cruise on the Sun's northbound itinerary departing June 17. It was our first trip to Alaska and our second cruise with NCL. Our previous NCL cruise was a short 3 day Bahamas cruise two years ago, which was vey good all around. We enjoyed the whole freestyle cruising experience and decided to cruise NCL this trip.
First off, Alaska is amazing. I think we would have had a great cruise with anyone. The scenery is majestic and you get the sense of discovery that the first explorers to see Alaska did. Long stretches of pristine coastline and abundant wildlife are everywhere. It was by far the most amazing vacation we have ever experienced. We were lucky with unusual weather - sunny with little to no rain, temps in the mid 60s to mid 70s.
The excursions were had were great, two thru the ship and one on our own. In Ketchikan we hired a private fishing charter thru Northern Lights. The Capt was very friendly, knowledgable and delivered 4 king salmon to our group ranging from 25-30 lbs! Bald eagles were everywhere and the Capt took some herring bait and feed the eagles, which produced great memories and awesome pictures. I highly recommend Capt Ken and Northern Lights Chatters to anyone looking at fishing for salmon in Ketchikan.
In Juneau, we did the two hour helicopter glacier trek thru the ship. It was amazing! We looped over the Juneau ice field with the pilot pointing out interesting facts and landed on the Mendenhall glacier for our trek. The guides were great and helped us put on our equipment - fully supplied by the tour company, and prepared us for our trek. We drank glacier water- fantastic, and were in awe of nature's beauty. We got up close to crevasses - several 75-100 feet deep - just awesome. It was $450 pp, but well worth it! If you want to get some king crab for lunch, go to Tracy's near the dock. Highly recommend the combo of crab cakes, bisque and 1lb of king crab.
Skagway is the smallest town, and to our amazement, the best in terms of old Alaska. There are higher end stores for trinkets and clothes than at the other ports. And there are less jewelry stores than the other ports - could not believe how many there were near the docks in Ketchikan and Juneau. We did the suspension bridge tour, and the train ride is spectacular for scenery. It was enjoyable and our bus driver was great in entertaining us on the way back.
The last two days are visiting Glacier Bay and Hubbard glacier. We got within 200 yards of Margerie glacier and it was ausome. No big calving, but a great experience. We stayed there for 90 min as the Capt rotated the ship in the bay. A Hubbard glacier, we could not get closer than 5 miles due to the ice in the water. Still, it was so large and amazing even from that distance. As for whales, you see them around the ship, but they are far away and I recommend taking a whale watching tour if this is important to you.
As for the Sun, our cabin was very good and our steward was great. The entertainment was good- especially the illusionist, the casino staff were great and the Champagne bar on 7 in the atrium has the most entertaining bartender - Bong! It is not a true champagne bar, but Bong is the best bartender on the ship and well worth the time. We were disappointed with several things on this ship. The food in the Garden Cafe is the same every day - and the BBQ on the pool deck is mostly the same. We ate at the main dining room for lunch the last day and wished we ate her more often. Menus changed more according to other passengers.
The specialty restaurants were ok - east meets west steakhouse was excellent. Sushi was good, the French Le Bistro was so-so. Last NCL cruise, Le Bistro was our favorite. The main restaurant food was just ok - which was a disappointment. The breakfast a la cart was good, but service was not good at all. One morning, the manager stopped to asks us how it was, we told him, and to his credit, he served us personally from there and it was fixed. The Tapas restaurant on 12 was a great find. They have 1/2 price specials on wine - good values in both affordable and high end wines.
I would recommend waiting till last minute to book- prices are dropping to all time lows! Although we were a bit disappointed with NCL on this trip, it was still our best vacation ever for all the other reasons mentioned above. Finally, if there is a cruise critic meet and greet, attend it. All Sr. Officers attended, including the captain, and I was able to approach them later in the cruise to handle things we wanted addressed.