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Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by S_S

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Norwegian Sun
Norwegian Sun
Member Name: S_S
Cruise Date: June 2013
Embarkation: Vancouver
Destination: Alaska
Cabin Category: MB
Cabin Number:
Booking Method:
See More About: Norwegian Sun Cruise Reviews | Alaska Cruise Reviews | NCL Cruise Deals
Member Rating   5.0 out of 5+
Dining 5.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Cabins 5+
Entertainment 4.0
Spa & Fitness Not Rated
Family & Children (By Age Group)
        13-15 4.0
Shore Excursions 5.0
Embarkation 5.0
Service 5.0
Value-for-Money 5.0
Rates 5.0
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Ship Facts: Norwegian Sun Review (by Cruise Critic!) | Norwegian Sun Deck Plans
7 day Alaska cruise - Beautiful scenery, great time (with a teen).

We started our vacation in Vancouver. We had rented an apartment via Airbnb and as it wasn't available till after 5, we headed from the airport to a bike rental place which would store our bags while we rode our bikes in Stanley Park. The Stanley Park route was about 8 miles which was a bit more than we've done for a while but we managed fine and enjoyed the brisk weather and great views of the park and the ocean.

Our apartment host picked us up and took us to the apartment and from there we headed out for dinner. The West End proved to have lots of good restaurants - we tried the Banana Leaf a Malaysian restaurant.

The next day we headed out on foot to explore the Gastown and waterfront area and then in the afternoon on a food tour http://foodietours.ca/. We had a great time, trying out several restaurants and hearing more about the Vancouver food history and scene. Most exciting our son ran into one of his favorite actors coming out of the restaurant and said hi and got a picture too!

Sunday we had breakfast and then went by bus to the mini-Maker Faire that happened to be occurring the same weekend we were there. This faire was bigger than the Phoenix one, but still much smaller than the big one we went to a few years ago in California. From there we headed directly to Granville Island where we'd booked tickets to a comedy show. http://www.vtsl.com/mainstage/index.php, Granville Island also seemed nice, but we got there after most place were closed.

On the last morning we let the kid sleep in and went for a long walk before taking a cab ride to the Cruise Terminal. The boarding process took more than an hour but was very smooth and was mixed with the people boarding the Disney cruise - lots more folks with kids on that cruise than ours...

Once we boarded the ship we were immediately directed to lunch which was our first experience with the sit down restaurant which we ended up visiting a lot. Nice service, and plenty of choices. We usually ended up ordering three courses each time, which was usually good and smaller portions, which was fine with us...

We decided to explore the ship and also find our room. We were on deck 11 in a mini-suite and we made a rule to climb the stairs at all times (see previous mention of three course meals...).

We really liked our room which had a balcony, a sofa/entertainment center section - which turned into a large bed every night for our son and a king size bed for us. Each section could be curtained off which helped reduce the noise and light. The room also had a pretty large bathroom/closet also divided into two, so someone could take a shower while the other person got dressed etc.

The next day was 'at sea' so we spent our time relaxing etc. I enjoyed a line dance class and our son started hanging out at the teen center. We also attended a cruise critic meet & greet - got to meet the captain and other staff.

Our first stop was Ketchikan. In general I wanted to get away from the touristy areas with our time in port, so for this port I booked a kayaking excursion with http://www.kayakketchikan.com/ We took the Orca Cove trip which was a short trip by water taxi to the cove, and about 2.5 hours of paddling. The trip was nice - our group was only 5 and the guide - in two person kayaks - and we were all alone in the area - very quiet and peaceful. We saw a bald eagle, mink and some seals. After all the paddling, we headed back to the water taxi and a smoked salmon snack before going back to town. Ketchikan was our shortest port day, so we headed for lunch (we considered a seafood cafe but determined that crab was too pricey) and instead had lunch at the highly rated, somewhat expensive (and very busy) Burger Queen (halibut sandwiches & fish and chips). Afterwards we walked through Creek Street and headed back to the ship.

The second port day was Juneau. My research showed we could just get to the main attraction on our own - so we didn't book a tour. As we got off the boat, there were many booths offering tours and the same bus ride to Mendenhall Glacier http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/about-forest/offices/?cid=stelprdb5400800. We randomly picked one of them and after a 20 min wait boarded the bus and had a funny driver who told us stories all the way to the park. There we went on the 45 min hike to the waterfall close to the glacier and a short visit to the Visitors Center. It was very cool seeing the glacier up close (relatively) and the scenery and natural surroundings were just great. Definitely worth the visit. Once we arrived back in downtown Juneau, we headed to a restaurant called Pelmeni for lunch. They of course serve - Pelmini (Siberian dumplings) which are a favorite for our family. In fact we happened to already visit the sister restaurant in Bellingham WA a few years ago. We then walked over to see the Alaska State Legislature and joined a tour. Even though Alaska is a very large state, the state capitol is pretty small and we got to see several rooms although they were not in session. After a bit more walking through the usual tourist shops we boarded the ship again. That night we also got a notice from the cruise line that we received a $75 credit - we weren't sure why - the Meet & Greet? but decided to use it for dining at one of the premium restaurants (as we had decided not to spend any extra budget on dining on board).

The final port day was Skagway. I had wanted to do some sort of nature hike and finally found a vendor that ended up working with the cruise line to add the excursion to the ones available through the ship http://www.packerexpeditions.com/skagway-day-tours/denver-valley-wilderness-hike-white-pass-railway-adventure. This was a full day tour which included a bus ride, train ride to the White Pass and a 4 hour hike. We figured booking through the cruise might be better as we wouldn't have any issues if the tour ran late (which was not a problem at all..). The train and scenery were really spectacular and the hike was fun too - if a bit arduous for me at least... I might have been OK with just a bit shorter walk, although early on they split us into a faster and slower group... but we ended up in the faster group. In any case, the guides were very nice and clearly enjoyed living and working in Alaska. After the hike, we caught the train back to town. The kid headed back to the ship and we walked around town a bit before boarding. That night we dined at the French specialty restaurant. The food and service were better than at the normal full service restaurants and we enjoyed the experience but we wouldn't have spent our own money (we used the credit that the cruise line gave us).

The next two days were at sea. The first day was a highlight of the cruise - Glacier Bay National Park. The ship got in early (around 6 AM) so we ordered room service and listened to the announcements over the TV system from the park ranger. The views of the glaciers and the area were incredible, we even saw some bears! That evening we headed out more to sea and for the first time, felt the motion more than before and I ended up getting sea sick (good thing we hadn't planned on the fancier dining that night). But by the next day we were back to calmer seas and to more glaciers at Hubbard Glaciers. The ship could only stay a shorter time this day due to ice, fog and schedule.

For our transit back home, we had booked transportation through the cruise ship as we had a early departure and didn't want to chance missing our flight home. The trip was very smooth and we ended up with about 1 1/2 hours in Anchorage - we stayed on the cruise provided bus to downtown, and then caught another free bus back to the airport.

Highlights - balcony room, Glacier Bay National Park, excursions at our port stops and in general the cruise experience - dining, shows etc.

Our son reported that the teen program was only so so, not super organized and not too many activities - however, he seemed to enjoy it and went every day :)

Low lights - getting seasick, long flights home.


Publication Date: 07/24/13
Read the Alaska ports review by S_S
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