This is the second time we have sailed on the Norwegian Sun. Our first sailing on the Sun was in late November, 2013 on the 11 day itinerary. At one time it was the largest ship in the NCL fleet, and it pioneered the Freestyle Cruising concept for which NCL is famous. Now, it is one of the smallest NCL ship, and one of the oldest. However, a 2011 facelift has the Sun still a nice ship, and worth a trip aboard. Both times we sailed the ship was full, but the entire cruise it did not seem to be full. We don’t like being in large crowds, and the Sun never felt crowded.
This cruise we had an inside 5-person family cabin on Deck 8. It was surprisingly spacious for our family of four. The Sun is one of the few ships with cabins of this size. For cruising on a budget these cabins are hard to beat.
The crew of the Sun is quite friendly and helpful. You won’t pass a crew member without being greeted with a smile and sincere hello. They are also very helpful. One afternoon I came back aboard after a long shore excursion. My stomach was a little upset, and I wanted some bananas. I went up to the Garden Café, but it was not open yet. The Great Outdoors on the stern was open, but they had no bananas among the fruit on the serving line. I asked one of the food service staff for a banana. She searched every restaurant on Deck 11 and 12, and then continued searching all the way to Deck 5. Ten minutes later she returned with my bananas. Even in little things, this crew is a cut above.
Several crew members from our first cruise on the Sun recognized us, which made our second sailing even more enjoyable. Rajesh Geloth from India is an excellent server in the main restaurant our first cruise, and it was a pleasure to see him again. We requested to be seated in his section for dinner one evening. He did not have any tables available. However, the maître d put us at another table at the back of the restaurant, and sent Rajesh to our table. Rajesh essentially added our table to his already busy serving load. He gave us great, friendly service as always. Request him in whichever dining room he is serving. You will not be disappointed. Patrick Leynes, the assistant cruise director, was wonderful. He recognized us the second we stepped on board, and he made our trip that much more fun every time we went to an activity during sea days. Whenever I had questions, he went out of his way to be helpful. Richard Matic, the cruise director, was wonderful. He is everything a cruise director should be.
The entertainment on the Sun was improved from our last experience. The staff entertainers were better than our last cruise, though the shows were not much better. The Pure Variety show was ok, as was the Rock You Tonight show, but the Burt Bacharach show has a deplorable storyline. The specialty shows by Soul Duo, and celebrity hypnotist, Terrance B, were excellent like they were on our previous cruise. I highly recommend them. The comedian, Don Friesen, was funny and clean (which we really appreciate), vocal impressionist, Tyler Bryce, was intriguing and fun, and Justino Zoppe performed a Las Vegas quality magic show definitely worth seeing. Additionally, Catch a Wave, the Beach Boys tribute band and Paperback Writer, the Beatles tribute band were both amazing and icing on the entertainment cake aboard the Sun. Don’t miss either show.
The destinations on this cruise were all wonderful. I was sick from something I ate the previous day, so I missed St. Thomas. I have posted port reviews elsewhere on Cruise Critic for the other destinations. The links are here:
Dominica - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=42487833#post42487833
Barbados - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=42487876#post42487876
St. Lucia - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=42487902#post42487902
St. Maarten - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=42487920#post42487920
The only thing I wish were different about the itinerary is that there was some space in it. The cruise started with two sea days, then five port days in a row, followed by two sea days. By the fourth port I was starting to get fatigued. Maybe Norwegian can mix up the order of ports. The actual itinerary was two sea days, then St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Maarten, followed by two sea days. Why not do two sea days, then St. Thomas and St. Maarten first? Follow those with a sea day to give the guests some rest, then Barbados, St. Lucia, finish with Dominica, and two sea days back to Miami.
While there are no such things as ideal cruises, there are excellent ones. These islands on this ship and this cruise line add up to excellent. Sadly, this is the last one that the Norwegian Sun will do. It is repositioning to Alaska for the summer, and when it returns to the Caribbean, it will be doing 7-day itineraries out of Tampa. It will be up to the Norwegian Pearl to pick up the 10 and 11-day mantle. These are big shoes to fill, but we are looking forward to seeing how the Pearl rises to the challenge perhaps next year.