This was my fifth cruise and my husband's second. We have previously sailed Carnival and Princess. We flew from Seattle to Miami, spent a night and boarded the Sun on the following day. The embarkation was quick, not well signed and no information given for what to do once aboard. We had a balcony cabin, which was well situated in relationship to the amenities of the ship. Having the balcony was well worth the extra money. I looked forward to our days at sea hoping to enjoy the pool area. The information provided by the cruise line for the pool was very misleading. They promoted their ships with two pools (one aft and one mid-ship), One pool was designated for adults, the other for kids. The pools were side by side and no rules were enforced. The area was too small for the amount of passengers. In order to secure a deck chair, I had to be by the pool no later than 7:30 a.m. No live music was provided until about 11:30 each day, which was a shame because the calypso band that provided that music was the best on-board entertainment they had. They were very good and I wish they had played more often by the pool and for longer periods of time.
The food was mediocre, at best. We went to four specialty restaurants and found the food and service in the two main complementary restaurants as good as the specialty offered. For an 11 day cruise, there was not much variety (disappointing). I did appreciate the healthier offerings of fresh fruit and vegetables and the fish. Lobster was served only once (on the first night). The desserts were terrible.
Some of the entertainers who brought in on specific nights were very good. The entertainers who were a part of the ship's crew were not very good. The cruise director was upbeat and charming. His crew used "cheesy" names that I found rather demeaning. In trying to do a good job, they came off as phony and plastic. We played bingo one afternoon and it was slow torture. Long, drug out, and unbelievably slow.
The PA system on the ship is a joke. None of the announcements can be heard in the cabins and when they are made during peak times of noise on the decks, between the accents and the poor speaker system, you cannot understand a word of what's being said. Any kind of information was at a premium, unless you searched it out and went to the info. desk to ask specific questions. If you did not chose to book shore excursions through the ship, there was basically no info. regarding what to see or do once ashore. There was, however, always a map of shopping offerings who had contracted with the ship for advertisement. We booked all of our excursions ahead from home using information we gleaned from user reviews.
If you sail to Cartagena, Columbia, I highly recommend Lee Miles Tours. We had a private tour with a guide named Sandy and he was amazing. He spent several hours with us touring the highlights of the area and spoke beautiful English. He knew his history and was born and raised in Cartagena. This tour was one of the highlights of the trip. They also went above and beyond their service when we left some coffee we had purchased for friends on the van we had been traveling in. Mr. Miles and Sandy tracked the van down and returned our coffee to our ship before we sailed that day.
Our excursion on Aruba was delightful because we rented a trike through Trikes Aruba. It was an all day tour (with us driving our own trike) of the island. There were four other trikes and one guide trike. The two guides were charming and made the day a lot of fun.
Curacao was beautiful with all of it's colorful buildings. I won't mention the excursion there because it wasn't impressive, but the island is beautiful.
St. Marten was delightful. We toured with Twin Tours and Nel was our driver and guide. He was wonderful and had a great sense of humor. We truly enjoyed all of his narration and information we gleaned from him about the island. Two highlights were time spent at Orient Beach (the nicest beach I have ever been to) and Maho Beach where the jets fly over your heads to reach the landing strip. We loved our day on St. Marten.
St. Thomas was disappointing. I had lived there many years ago and always wanted to return. The hurricane had basically destroyed the island since I had been back. Rebuilding has caused the island to lose much of its charm (as I remembered it). It's much more commercialized now and there are "hawkers" on every corner of town trying to get you to either go into a store or listen to a sales pitch. Our excursion there was a disappointment so I won't mention it. The island is still very beautiful.
Before I close, I will say that Norwegian took every opportunity to sell something....water, soda, booze, bingo cards, raffle tickets, etc.,....it became very annoying. The large theater (where most of the entertainment took place) was frigid cold. Glad we took jackets and we actually asked for blankets. The ship's gym was very nice and the jogging deck was well laid out with mirrors on the corners and drinking fountains along the way. The staff also kept it clean. Our cabin attendant did an excellent job. We also participated in a murder mystery lunch on our last day at sea. We were randomly placed at a table with three other couples, had a fabulous lunch (best meal on the cruise), and each took a role in the mystery. Three hours after we began the mystery was solved and we had made six new friends. We enjoyed it so much that we all met for dinner that night and visited another three hours. I wish this activity had been offered at the beginning of the cruise. It's a really good time.
We were blessed to be able to take this trip and enjoyed much of our time. I would not go back to any of the ports we visited (although I'm glad we experienced them). I would not sail with Norwegian again (although I will cruise again at some point). Hope this information is helpful to you as you select your next vacation.