We were given VIP status on this cruise, so it was infinitely more memorable and certainly qualifies as the best cruise we have ever taken!
Embarkation: We didn't know we were VIP - so we didn't skip the line, but embarkation was handled efficiently and quickly. We were on the ship within 20 minutes of arriving at the terminal.
Once we got on the ship, we ate lunch in the main dining room, and enjoyed a quiet meal with superb service. We then went to find our cabin. We chose a balcony cabin on deck 9, so that there would be nothing above or below us except cabins. 9047 was a very nice port side balcony. As we were walking down the hall toward our cabin, our cabin steward, Arnell, greeted us by name - and we had never met him!! He must have somehow looked up our pictures taken at embarkation? We found that our Concierge also recognized us, and called us by name without having met us! That kind of service is usually only found on the luxury lines! Inside our cabin, we found a plate of small sandwiches from the captain - and we were treated to something every afternoon: chocolate covered strawberries, smoked salmon and caviar, chocolate truffles, etc. Truly extraordinary!! We also got to eat breakfast and lunch every day in the specialty restaurant, and found the service to be remarkably caring, efficient, unobtrusive - it is difficult to find enough exclamatory words to describe how we were treated by all the staff and crew - from Tariq Fazal, Brian Wilson, and other directors like the cruise director Richard, to our concierge Leah Rodriguez, our cabin steward, wait staff, group event coordinator, etc. Everyone seemed honestly invested in making our cruise the vacation of a lifetime! I work days, my husband works nights, so even though we have been married 43 years, we NEEDED this time together, and we were blessed to have that.
Meet and Greet:
I was the organizer for our Meet and Greet, and was worried that I would not be able to contact the coordinator on board. She found me, and she was prepared with name tags, a roll call list that gave me everyone's room number, so that we could arrange to share tours, etc. We had a slot pull following the Meet and Greet - and although no one won really big, I think everyone had fun. Everyone who came greeted others, and it was really great to meet them after just 'chatting' on our roll call. The people on cruise critic really are the BEST!!
As I said, we ate breakfast and lunch almost every day in the specialty restaurant. As I said above, we loved the atmosphere, the service, and the food/menu. We did eat in the sports bar once when we were craving hot wings - and that was good once the wait staff figured out that we needed a menu and that we were not simply overflow from the buffet. We had room service only once - but the sandwich was fresh and delicious. It arrived within the 30 minutes they told us it would take to bring to us. We never ordered a pizza - so I cannot comment on that. We ate dinner in the main dining room several nights, and the food was good, came cooked as desired, and at the correct temperature. I do miss the cold, fruit soups!! (Please bring them back, NCL!!) We ate dinner in Teppanyaki, Le Bistro, East Meets West, and Il Adagio. Those meals were presented with flair that you might expect in extremely expensive restaurants and we were never disappointed in the flavor, texture, temperature, service, etc. We feel that the service charge is a fraction of what you would pay on land for a comparable meal. However - if you cannot justify spending more to eat, when you can eat extremely well in the main dining room, then you will always find something to your liking whether that be low calorie, vegetarian, healthy choice, gluten free, etc. We don't drink, so we cannot comment on the quality of wine, mixed drinks, etc. We did purchase a soda card. Sometimes we have found that bartenders may sneer at adults who only drink soda - or they may view us as a nuisance? Whatever the case may have been on other ships, we found on the Sun that the bartenders were at least accommodating, and in the Java Cafe, they truly went out of their way to come to where we were sitting and chatting to refill our soda many, many times - always cheerfully and professionally.
NCL knows how to throw a party, and if you have never gone to the "White Hot Party", you are missing out on a lot of fun!! There were game shows, the typical broadway style reviews, a terrific hypnotist, and we heard that the comedian was hilarious - but we were too exhausted to go to the late show, and we missed the earlier one. The music groups were varied and provided something everyone would enjoy from a Beach Boys night, to a caribbean style band that was not too loud and "in your face" at the pool, to soft jazz singers, to a really talented classical pianist who played Schumann, Chopin, etc. We have found that NCL gets really great entertainers, and yet we were worried that on such a small ship there would not be the quality we have enjoyed on other ships in their fleet. Of course, we didn't have Blue Man Group - but we were certainly not lacking for variety in entertainment!
We arranged for our own guides, rather than taking the ship's tours. However, those we spoke with who did go on the ship's tours really enjoyed them. I will review the guides we used on another thread.
The Sun has a fitness center, sports court, jogging track, etc that you would expect on any cruise ship. The one thing we noticed was that we could always find a seat on the pool deck. There were some chair hogs - but there were enough lounge chairs to accommodate everyone. The spa facilities are beautiful and are staffed well with professionals. On this cruise, as on most NCL cruises, there is a laundry special mid-cruise. You may have any amount of laundry you can pack into their paper bag cleaned and pressed for $25. This is terrific if you want to avoid paying baggage fees with your airline, and you are careful in how you pack!!
As soon as the ship was cleared, people began leaving - but we didn't see the crush of people waiting in line that we have seen elsewhere. With NCL, if you choose to have them check your luggage to your final destination, they will do that. If you are at the other end of the continuum, and you elect to carry your own luggage off, that is fine as well. We packed for the entire vacation in our carry ons, so we simply met our concierge when we were ready, and walked right off the ship.
I am struggling to find anything negative to say about this ship and it's crew - but I fear if I don't find something, others may think this is a biased review. We are not complainers, although we did see some of those on board. I will say that the Sun is an older ship. She is beautifully maintained, and in St. Thomas we saw maintenance men re-painting some parts of her. On our balcony, there were a couple of spots of rust, and there was a small stain on the carpet in our cabin. Otherwise, we always saw housekeeping staff cleaning, polishing, replenishing towels, etc. There was never an offensive smell - even in the well - used public restrooms. The hair dryers are old-fashioned, but I was prepared for this and brought my own hair dryer. If I had not, I could have made the one provided work - it just takes longer. Once in a great while we chose to take the stairs because the elevators were crowded. But this was usually only after coming back aboard at a port. Fans did have to be used to dry carpet adjacent to the pool areas - especially on sea days or if it was raining.
All in all, we loved the smaller size of this ship, the facilities and cabin, the quality of the food, but most of all we loved the crew who always went above and beyond their duty to ensure our comfort! We will definitely sail on the Sun again and again!