Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by cjhippo: Superlative Experience!
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
My DH and I are sixty-ish retirees living in Florida. Therefore, we drove to the port and parked in the garage right there. Embarkation was disorganized - workers standing around, asking us what ship we were on, and then pointing in the direction we were already going. There was no organization to entering, just a mass of sheep. There was no separate entrance for Platinum guests like there is in the European ports. After the security scanning, there was a room off to the side marked PRIORITY BOARDING, with a uniformed woman at the door with a clipboard in hand. She was unable to find our name on the sheet, so waved us along like school children.
When we rounded the corner, there was a uniformed man who asked us if we needed help. We explained that we were Platinum but not on the Priority list. He walked us up to the counter and we were checked in immediately. That was the point of change, and after that the entire cruise was wonderful.
Once onboard, we headed for our More cabin. It wasn't "time" yet, but the room looked perfect, so we went in and sat on the couch and rested a bit.. The cabin (8011) had a large picture window, a couch, a desk and chair, and a bed (with those horrid rounded corners at the foot). There was plenty of cabinets, open shelves, and drawers to stow everything and plenty of room in the closet. The bathroom had 3 shelves on either side of the countertop with plenty of room for all toiletries. The shower was rounded, with a curtain that worked better if we sprayed it wet right away - then it didn't cling. The body wash and shampoo was consistently full and very pleasant.
Our steward(ess) was Francia and she was amazing. She was prompt and efficient, and would chat with us in the corridor as we were returning from an excursion or wandering toward dinner. She was extremely creative - her towel animals were always greeting us, and she tweaked them to be special. Her "bunny" had big bunny teeth made with gold-wrapped chocolates!
I must say (and my husband would agree) that every single crew member on the Sun was pleasant, courteous, helpful, friendly, and sociable. Even those with limited English made sure to say hello or good morning, and if they couldn't answer a question for us, would get someone who could. The wait staff in the eating areas were efficient and the bar waiters were excellent and not pesty. The dealers in the casino were wonderful - they were patient and excellent teachers for those of us not knowing how to play a table game. The slots worked well, and I don't remember seeing any machine "down" for longer than an hour or two. We really felt that the crew/staff on the Sun was outstanding, and we filled out about a dozen "Vacation Hero" cards commending the extra-special ones.
Le Bistro, the French specialty dining room, was incredible. We ate there twice, and had impeccable service and exquisite food. It was nowhere near full, and we dined at a window both evenings. The second night I complimented the dinner to the waitress, and she went in and brought the chef out to our table so I could tell him myself how excellent everything was.
The entertainment on the Sun was good, not great. The production company was accomplished and had several superior singers and dancers. Their best show was a Cabaret in the forward lounge where several of them did their favorite Broadway songs. There was a quartet of young men called Oh What a Night! They did Four Seasons songs, and were excellent. The lead singer, George, also did a one-man show which was superb. We also thoroughly enjoyed Jeri Seger (not sure of her last name) who is a tiny little thing with a GIGANTIC voice. We're not fans of aerialists or hypnotists, so we skipped those shows. One afternoon there was a folkloric show by some local entertainers who sang, danced, and played guitars and other instruments and that was very entertaining.
The fitness center was nicely laid out with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows. Seeing the Pacific Ocean during a workout was the only relief from the mind-numbing boredom of a stationary bike. They had "tv" over the handlebars, but it was difficult to see, no sound, and nothing worth seeing anyway. The only complaint I had was that a couple of people thought it was a tea room or something and decided to have a full-blown conversation at a volume level that assured everyone in the room a good listen. Not cool. But, rude people will be rude no matter where they are. (that includes the folk who don't wipe down the machine when they're finished!)
All in all, we had a wonderful cruise. The Panama Canal transit was a full day long, and we had a narrator who shared information about the Canal and the country over the speakers. He made it a very worthwhile day, and if people wanted to know what they were seeing, all they had to do was listen. I was surprised, though, that the ship didn't do anything remarkable to note the 100th Anniversary of the Canal. There was no fanfare, no decor, no mention of such a momentous occasion.
I can't speak to the activities staff's talents, other than selling pull-tabs at the shows or the director introducing the main shows. We didn't join in any of the reindeer games. You know, Trivia, pool activities, game shows, all of that. Been there, done that decades ago.
The library was quite centrally located, which is unusual, as it is usually stuck off in a corner somewhere. The hours it was open for book-borrowing were very limited, and the one cabinet of books to take or leave didn't have any English language books in it at all until the last day. It was also quite small and not a welcoming place at all. NCL would do well to look at their own NCL GEM which has an enormous library as well as a game room. On the Sun, we were always hunting for a place with a table for a game or a quiet place to read.. There were few of the former, and none of the latter. (The forward lounge had promise, but the bar staff was quite chatty and there were groups that would gather for game playing or just drinks and a chat, so that eliminated that reading spot as well. Next cruise - HEADPHONES.
We also had a lot of fun at the art auctions with Park West. We enjoyed the auctions themselves and the hijinks that Sean and Shannon led us on. Charles was an amazing help as well. We learned a great deal, and we are very happy with our purchases from the auctions.
The only true negative was the last day. Many of the passengers were staying on for the cruise to Alaska, but we were disembarking in Los Angeles. The directions printed on the disembarkation notice were simple to follow. However, the directions were not followed by the staff, which announced different directions. People were confused and upset and no one knew what was supposed to be happening. There were lines the entire length of the ship to get into the theater to get the tiny sticker put on the keycard so we could leave the ship. Leaving was out the Starboard door and all the way forward, around the deck, and back to midship on the Port side before we could finally get off. People were tired, hot, sweaty, and grouchy, and there was a great deal of shoving and line chaos through it all. It was perhaps the worst we have ever seen on any ship.
That being said - we would sail again on the Sun in a heartbeat. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the people we met. Although a moderate 2 week cruise, it was one of the happiest overall. The ports were great (except Puerto Chiapas, which was a horrible slum-like big city) and although we hired drivers instead of doing ship excursions, we had wonderful experiences in all the ports. Less
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Cabin review: 8011
This cabin is roomy, the view is super with the nice big window, and there is PLENTY of storage,. There are drawers, shelves, and cabinets and there are even shelves in the bathroom (a fully self-contained bathroom, everything in one. Only complaint would be the couch is really HARD. Well, and my usual complaint of poor lighting for a reading person.
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