We traveled on the Norwegian Sun out of New Orleans on 3/18. We had 6 cabins and travelled as a group. This was supposed to be a fun, family cruise. Most in the party were prior cruisers except for my parents. Unfortunately, due to this experience, I'm not sure we'll be able to get the first time cruisers out again. We (past cruisers) had wonderful experiences cruising on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
First though, the positives... the Itinerary is great, the Embarkation was easy and there were a few really nice crew members. That's about it.
Island Review -
Costa Maya was beautiful and the people were really nice as usual. We shopped a bit then rented three golf carts and rode to the nearby city. It was nice and relaxing. Lots of good buys there and the people were incredibly nice. We got to watch a local shimmy up a tree and pick coconuts then open them. This was pretty nice while sitting on the beach and relaxing.
Guatemala - while it started out raining it cleared relatively quickly. Very lush green was facing our balcony (ok.. along with the shipping dock) but still very pretty green. The people here are genuinely glad to get the cruise business and it is obvious. They were very nice to our entire party. Everything was reasonably priced and nice selection of handmade goods. The sendoff from the people were great. I had read about it and it was a site to watch. Everyone appears to come out, the horns, the sirens, the dances, the genuine hospitality wanting you to come back.
Belize - we didn't do any excursions on this Island but shopped :-). Lots of good buys here as I missed them on the last cruise. I was shopping around for the best buys last time and missed several things I really wanted so.. I went back and got them this time. The prices on this Island are good - you have to negotiate a bit sometimes. It is good to walk the whole area as you can get some really good buys.
Cozumel - we did the ATV beach excursion. This was a bit disappointing but really not in their control. We had done this same excursion on our Carnival Cruise back in 2005. It was an incredible excursion back then. However, due to Hurricane Wilma's destruction we weren't able to travel parallel to the water. Previously, you travelled along the beach, visited a ruin then came back and took a beach break (swimming, lunch served, etc.). However, the head of the group explained that due to the destruction this area wasn't available to them anymore. So, we went down a very bumpy, dusty trail, visited a ruin, a natural lake, a cave and then returned - but it was pretty in some of the areas. The beach break was the disappointing part as instead of getting to take it by ATV, we had to board a van and take it to a nearby resort and use their beach. Again, this wasn't in the control of the excursion and we still enjoyed it.
Ship Review -
Now, I really hate to sound negative but it is really bad when you hate to go back to the ship from the Islands. However, that was the consensus of many on this cruise. I decided to write about this because I really would hate to see someone else go on this cruise and encounter some of the horrible things we encountered.
Between our cabins we experienced, dirty sheets (1st day), no soap in the shower (3rd day) which was found in the middle of a shower, towels with hair on them (they were supposed to be clean).
I would definitely stay away from the Internet. We purchased a set of minutes on the first day only to have them drained the first day. We attempted to find out what happened but their Internet Manager is an Independent Contractor and Norwegian said they aren't responsible. hmmm.. Anyways, we finally resigned to the fact that maybe we had done something wrong on their computers and maybe they were different from the ones we used on Carnival. However, when we saw several people complaining about the same thing every time we were there and I mean several.. then there is a problem with their system and not all those people. This was a costly lesson to the tune of almost $130 for us between the two packages.
Their shows were OK... a few were really good and a few just OK. We really loved Cirque Pan and a few of those type shows. The game shows were good but due to them being held in the Dazzle Lounge you had to get there really early to get seating. Everyone was pretty much standing room only. I'm not sure why they didn't do these in the Stardust during off times of the other shows.
Casino .. we had several of us that gambled. The only bad in this that I can say was that they offer 'Sea Bucks'. This is based on your gambling and using your card to gather points throughout the week. At the end of the week anything over a specific point value and they basically credited that amount to your room. We had someone in our party that had 81 points... bummer though to be told she couldn't get that many because she "didn't drink enough".. hmmmm.. that wasn't documented either.
The food was mediocre at best. Several times things were out in the self serve line and I mean out for like 30-45 minutes out. Also, we had one in our party who was a first time cruiser be "escorted" out of the main dining room due to not having proper attire. They had seated him and he was dressed in nice dress shorts and a nice dress shirt. Granted they have dress attire rules but if they made the mistake they should have handled this differently. They could have explained to him and said after that evening they would not allow it anymore or make a general statement that after that evening dress rules would be enforced. Also, at this same time he was escorted out, seated next to them was a 18 or 19 year old in a tshirt and flip-flops. When this was brought to the attention of the maitre, they were told that "exceptions are made for the younger crowd".
There was very little for the 10-12 age group to do on this ship. They are pretty much limited to the Video Arcade. Lots of activities for the younger (which was adorable) and for the older... but nothing for the inbetween. This could just be improved to make it more friendly for all age groups.
There were many other things but I really don't want to write all negative. There were some nice crew members on this ship who did attempt to assist us with some things. The Casino Host was very nice, the Asst Cruise Director and his crew was very nice, a few of our room stewards were great, front desk staff was good.
We didn't expect luxury. However, based on the money paid you at least expect the basics such as clean sheets, clean glasses, food availability. You expect to leave with a feeling of relaxation and good memories.
I can honestly say that if polled at the line waiting for Customs that out of 10 people probably 7 would say they would never travel this ship again.