As I sit here and type this review, I am somewhat uneasy about what I am about to do. This was my 20+ cruise; my fourth with NCL and my second on the Sun. I am about to write my very first not-so-positive (prefer not to use the word "negative") review!
To being with, the Sun is a weird ship. It was my initial thought when I first sailed her in February, 2008, and it was my final opinion when I sailed this time around. It just doesn't flow properly. To get to one end of the ship from another, you have to go around in loops, up and down and back. The ship is dark, somber and sad looking and is in desperate need of dry-docking for some major renovations.
Cabins: With few exceptions, this will probably be my one and only positive bit of information I will provide for this sailing. Our cabin was fantastic, as was cabin service (Indro and Norman, in case anyone from NCL is reading). The room was always kept immaculate. They were quick too....we would step out for breakfast and return to a clean cabin. I often felt as though they were lurking around the corners waiting for you to leave to get their work done. They did a fine job. Everything we asked for we got in record time. Lots of closet and cabinet space to place everything we brought for 11 days. Balcony was big and comfortable, even though it was a standard balcony. Very little noise was heard from hallways or crew workers. All other cabin stewards were pleasant and extremely helpful too.
Service: Service throughout the ship went from good to fair to downright bad It was apparently depending on the mood of the person you were speaking to. With extremely few exceptions where some people were extremely nice, most were plain rude, not helpful and almost antagonizing, specifically referring to the staff at the Reception Desk. One gentleman I spoke with (perhaps he was tired, it was almost 11pm) about debarkation and our worry that we get to the airport on time, said to me, and I quote: "maybe you should change your flight." I don't think so. NCL has a funny way of handling their debarkation process. Actually, not too funny, they practically could care less whether you need to leave early or not! Most cruise lines we have sailed which involved flights would send to your cabins, days before debarkation, forms to be filled out wherein you would tell them your flight times, and based on this information, they would then provide you with the proper tags to get out early enough so as to not miss your flight. NOT NCL. If you have a flight prior to 1:00pm, you'd best pack light and do the express debarkation which basically means, "carry you own bags." This is what we had to do! We had a 12:05pm flight back Southeast to Miami, all the way from San Francisco!
Entertainment: The shows [on this sailing] were the same ones that were playing when we sailed the Sun in February, 2008. For the Feb sailing, I rated the shows a 5+ and was expecting that although it would be a repeat for us, they would be of the same quality. Unfortunately, the shows were the same but the cast, dancers and singers were not and that made all the difference from a 5+ to a 1. They were horrible!!!!!!!. The singers were off-key, the dancers were not in tune with each other and with the exception of the two Russians who performed their ballet (who were awesome and extremely talented), everyone else could and should be removed from these shows. As far as any other entertainment? Forget it. There was none! The ship is practically dead by 9:30pm and unless you are a gambler, which fortunately we were (or should I say unfortunately since we dropped a few bucks there) there was absolutely nothing to do on this ship. NOTHING.
Dining: What can I say about the food on this cruise to not make it sound too horrible? It was eatable. That's the best I can say. It certainly wasn't great, nor good, nor even fair, just simply eatable. This applies to the two dining rooms and several of the specialty restaurant. I can't even remember one dish, one appetizer or one dessert that earned a "WOW!" Not one!
Shore Excursions: Horribly overpriced! In fact, we cancelled most when we realized we could do so much better on our own, and the one we didn't cancel, we absolutely do not recommend, it is the worse $140 we have ever paid in our lives: "Stone Island Beach Escape" at Mazatlan! It looked like a city dump, in the middle of a deserted area of nothing but trees and one big hut. The horses were ill (literally one was bleeding) and the horse carriage ride was joke! The food offered was a tortilla filled with something that was thinner than a hair net and the only thing going that was any good was the beer but in 6 ounce bottles that you had to keep getting up to get a new one!
Overall: NCL is in trouble!!! BIG TROUBLE and it needs to do something very fast or it will sink…..literally! My first experience with NCL was long ago, my very first cruise. Had nothing to compare it with and the cruise industry was just beginning. My second experience with NCL was many many years later on the Pride of America! That was and remains my only positive view of this cruise line. It was a fantastic sailing, the ship was gorgeous, the staff was nice and my written review of that sailing should suffice in explaining my complete satisfaction with the Pride of America sailing from Honolulu. However, even in Hawaii they appear to be in trouble as evidenced by the fact that less than a year ago they had three ships sailing the Islands and now they only have one! Something is seriously wrong with NCL. Personally, I doubt that I will ever sail them again. At least not until and unless they get their act together. Carnival Royal, Costa, MSC, they've all got their act together and I'll be sailing Celebrity for the first time next year, but I have no doubt they will be as good as everyone says they are!