My wife and I were on the 11 day Southern Caribbean Sun cruise of December 11th and had a great time. We have been on 20+ cruises with several different lines. Was our 3rd cruise on NCL and 2nd on the Sun. It is an older ship, and not as big as many we have been on, but we prefer the smaller ships, and they maintain it very well. We have grown very fond of the freestyle mode promoted by NCL.
The crew was always very cheerful, polite, and helpful. We are amazed that they can always seem like they are enjoying themselves. Iain Bagshaw was the cruise director, and was very personable when you ran into him around the ship. He was also a magician, and on one of the last sea days put on a magic show in the afternoon in the theatre, which was actually pretty good.
We really enjoy the Great Outdoors area on the back of the ship for breakfast and lunch when we didn't go to the dining room. Great spot outside with tables in sun or shade, and a buffet area that isn't ever More
crowded like the main buffet inside. We also enjoyed going up to the Observation Lounge in the front of the ship for a quiet place in the afternoon with great views.
We just had an inside cabin, but it had a small sofa and plenty of storage, and was more than sufficient since we didn't spend a lot of time in the room. The location on deck 7 forward was convenient for us, but on a couple occasions we were reminded by a noisy group of kids passing by that our room was on the way to where the children's groups meet. But it really wasn't a big deal.
Since I'm on a cruise to relax, and don't care to dress up if I don't have to, we ate every evening in the Four Seasons where you don't have to wear long slacks to dinner. The service was always excellent, and one of the hostesses remembered us by name after the 1st night, regardless of when and where we saw her on the ship. Made us feel special, and she always tried to get us the best table available. The menu items that were available everyday differ slightly between the Four Seasons and Seven Seas restaurants, but something they don't tell you is that you can order something off the other restaurant's menu, since it all comes from the same galley. The Seven Seas has a New York strip steak, which in my opinion was much better than the ribeye served in the Four Seasons. I never had any problem ordering the NY strip while in the Four Seasons.
We find the food on NCL in the main dining rooms to be good in quality, but not as much selection as on some other cruise lines. I understand that if they served 5 star food in the MDR's, nobody would pay to eat in the specialty restaurants. You can always find something good to eat, but I missed not seeing a shrimp cocktail on the menu even one time on an 11 night cruise, when it is available everyday on most other lines. And the only way to get crème brulee is to go to a specialty restaurant. They do not in our opinion have a single “to die for” dessert like warm chocolate melting cake on Carnival, or crème brulee on Celebrity. They do have a cheesecake, but it is not really smooth and creamy like on Princess. Even the Chocoholic Buffet is disappointing, although it looks great. Just nothing on there is really that good. Don't get me wrong, we certainly didn't go hungry. On the plus side I like that they have milk machines at the drink stations where you can get ice cold milk anytime. And besides the soft serve ice cream almost always available in the Great Outdoors, there is also real ice cream available near the main buffet area from noon till 9:30pm, along with fresh made crepes of your choosing. I also really liked the hot wings available in the evenings in the sports bar for a late night snack. And fresh fruit was always available, with fresh pineapple so sweet it almost hurt your mouth. And lots of days they have a BBQ out by the pool area that is very good in the afternoon. And we love that when you are in ports and come back to the ship, they had ice water, lemonade, ice cream, and cookies waiting for you, along with a nice chilled towel to cool you off. It's a nice touch.
Entertainment was good. We went to the show each night, and thought the performers were excellent. But because it's an older and smaller ship, there were no elaborate stage sets and props like on some ships, and we found the sound mixing to be faulty at times. But the performers worked hard and did a good job, and the live band that accompanied the shows was excellent.
Ports of Call – We had never been to Cartegena, Aruba, or Curacao, so took tours at each of those ports. Was easy to pick up a tour at these ports after exiting the ship at a reasonable price, usually about $20 per person. Cartegena was interesting, especially the old fort and the walled city, but like some other places the vendors hound you like crazy to buy their merchandise such as jewelry, hats, t-shirts, etc. Wanted to also go to a beach and snorkel at Aruba, but it was very windy, so we just went back to the ship after the tour. Curacao was a very nice port, and was an easy walk across the Queen Emma bridge (called the swinging old lady as the bridge is on pontoons and the entire bridge swings to allow boats to pass) to the old city, which was very interesting. We have been to St. Martin and St. Thomas many times before, so no tours for us. Took a taxi at St. Thomas to Sapphire Beach for snorkeling. Usually go to Coki, but Sapphire was much less crowded, and snorkeling was almost as good. There were 8 ships in port in St. Martin, so we had to be tendered in. The tender dropped us off in town,where we had never really spent any time before. So we did a little shopping, and then found a picnic table in front of a place with ice cold cheap Coronas, and met the nicest family from the UK. Spent about 3 hours chatting and drinking beer, and just had the nicest time with them.
Debarkation was very quick, and started about 20 minutes before they had told us it would. We did the self-assist and it took maybe 5-10 minutes to exit the ship and get thru Customs. We really enjoyed the cruise, and would not hesitate to go on the Sun again. Less