Overall we had a great time!The ship NCL Sun is in need of refurbishing as it's showing it's wear and tear. We were in an "aft" cabin and have never experienced soot like we had on this cruise but the room stewards who were very good stayed on top of it.The cruise was about 75% full.
Embarkment and Disembarkment for us was a breeze due to being Latitudes gold.
Entertainment The Jean Ann Ryan Company acts were great as was the Skinny German. As for the rest of the entertainment I don't remember much.
FOOD We found the specialty restaurants to be very good, we ate at them most nights with exception of Las Rambles. Reservations were never a problem at early seatings because people were just not spending money on this cruise.We found the food in the Garden Cafe to be fine as far as taste and selection. But because of the confined area there was usually some congestion. They need to make better use of the outside buffet areas "aft ship" and open them for the 3 meals, maybe by taking the most popular stations such as pasta and duplicating them outside. The Sports Bar had amazing fish and chips (real batter and fresh fish)and wings. NCL also ran 2 for 1 drink specials 2 to 3 times during the cruise including buckets of beer.We found all of the staff to be very friendly andpleasing. They also ran the "bags" laundry program 3 times for $20.
Cruise Critic-Roll Call there were approx 30 people in our group. Two meet and greets were setup for the cruise ship where we got together to chat, share stories take pic's and talked about upcoming excursions etc. Overall it was a great group.A special thank you to those that did the arrangement of the above as well as some of the excursions. Some also got together for trivia games and bridge.
PORTS San Francisco we stayed at the Best Western Tuscan Inn at Fisherman's Wharf. This was a great hotel, clean and freshly decorated and close to the pier. The rooms are a little on the small side but for 2 nights it was fine.We were able to walk to the cruise ship pier with out luggage we were that close. Would we recommend this hotel YES! $140 a night or two.
Los Angeles we stayed on the ship.
Acapulco We did the "Shotover Jet Boat Ride/City Tour and Cliff Divers" through Intersol Tours. The ride was a blast and if you haven't seen the divers then you have to go once. The tour cost was $99 and we thought it was good value. We paid for this tour in advance using PayPal.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala This was just an amazing, educational tour. It was arranged by some of the CC team who had arranged for transportation to Antigua and we then did a walking tour of this romantic and charming town. The walking tour was done through Elizabeth Bell and her Antigua Tour Company who comes highly recommended as we could see by the amount of people that were doing the same tour in small groups ahead and behind us.She has also written 5 or 6 books. This walking tour for those that are concerned about walking covers about an eight block area and it's all on flat ground and takes about 2 hours. The cost was $23 for transportation (8 or12 to van) and walking tour was $25. We highly recommend this tour. For lunch we all broke up and went our own way as some wanted to see more and others wanted to eat. We found this little hole in the wall restaurant, we decided to go in and found a lovely courtyard setting inside, we could see the open kitchen area and decided to stay for lunch, the meal was fantastic and reasonably priced. As we sat down we saw pictures on the wall of people who had eaten there such as Bill Clinton (minus blue dress) Ricky Martin and others. The name of the restaurant is La Fonda don't remember the street but I'm sure you can ask and get directions.
Puntarenas Costa Rica We did another tour arranged by CC it was to Turu Ba Ri Park. Some did the tram ride while others did the zipline tour. The tour was done through "Greenway Tours" and was handled by Mario the president of the company. We had a guide and driver who were very good and their vehicle was fairly new. The park itself is about 600 acres. The tram ride had great views and those that did the zipline had a blast. Lunch was included and the food was amazing, fresh, hot and lots of it. The facilities (restaurant and bathrooms) were extremely clean. Note: for this tour you have to pay up front as Greenway has to travel almost 3 hours to the pier and can't afford "no shows". They were prompt at picking and dropping us off in plenty of time. Cost of tour was $99 pp.
Manta Ecuador we did not get off the ship for this port.
Callao(Lima)Peru This for us was our best tour of the whole cruise. We did an NCL ship tour called "Temples Treasures and Horses" as we really wanted to see the peruvian horses. The tour consisted of driving through the Pueblo Libre district to the National Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. We then drove through the shanty town districts to get to the ranch/hacienda which was called "Los Ficus". There are no words to describe this place other than it's picture perfect for an outdoor intimate wedding. The grounds are impeccably kept,as are their happy horses and their stalls. They put on a show of the horses and equipment as well as let a couple people ride them. They also had a 2 day and 6 day old colt. The meal was amazing! It was set up with white linen tables outside but under a roof. The food was fresh,hot and plentiful. They also grow their own organic product which was used in the meals. The hosts were extremely accommodating and couldn't do enough. This tour is only offered to NCL and is limited to 50/60 people. The ranch has only been doing this for about 6 months. The cost was $169 pp and well worth it. Would we do it again YES!
Arica Chile Due to being under the weather we did not do the CC arranged tour. But after starting to feel better we headed out in the afternoon on our own. Just outside the pier gate's is a nice park with a market set up with asst'd goods such as alpaca goods etc. We bought a dozen alpaca scarves for xmas gifts at $3.50 each. We then took a cab (return $15 for 2) up the hilltop for some kodak moments of the city then walked around some. Nice port!
Coquimbo Chile At this port we took a van from outside the pier for I think $5 to $7 pp (1 way) to La Serena, we walked around some and then went to La Recova market that was full of el junko. Wasn't impressed with this port!
Valparaiso Chile (disembarked) At this port we had arranged for a private half day tour with Hector http://sites.google.com/site/privatetourguidechile/ We had Margareta as our guide and Carlos as our driver. This was a great tour as we would have never found these places on our own and plus Val is very hilly. It reminded us a lot of San Francisco with the different colored homes and all the hills. The tour ended with them driving us to our hotel in Vina Del Mar were we spent 3 nights. Cost was $70 pp and well worth it.
Vina Del Mar Chile is the resort area near Val. We stayed at the Hotel Oceanic which was on a cliff hanging over the ocean with spectacular views and sunsets. Its a small family run hotel thats quaint and reasonable at $114 a night which included a great breakfast. Well decorated,clean and with comfortable beds. We ate a couple of dinners here and found the food to be very good, especially the fish soup and blt sandwich which was huge and couldn't finish. The diner was lacking atmosphere I guess because we were the only one's eating there. They also had a huge wine list list and prices were very reasonable. Would we stay there again YES! However you need to know that it's located about a $5 cab ride from the heart of Vina and the casino which we didn't mind as we just wanted to rest and absorb the rays for three days.
Santiago Chile We did a full day tour again with Hector http://sites.google.com/site/privatetourguidechile/ We were picked up at our hotel at 9 am and drove to Santiago with Hector and his driver in a fairly new van. We stopped in Santiago visited the financial area, main shopping area as well as the gov't buildings area including the beautiful gov't palace and an amazing old cathedral. We then went to San Cristobal Park for fabulous views of the city and many kodak moments all the while Hector was giving us cultural and historical info along the way. He also drove us through the million dollar homes area. Then dropped us off at the airport in plenty of time for our flight.
I cannot recommend enough to use Hector for private tours that he can curtail to your needs. He is young, pleasant very, good english and has lived in the USA. He also has numerous contacts for other places and of course Chile. Hector if your reading this thanks again to you and your team!
In closing we would just like to say that we cruise for the itinerary not the ship but are loyal NCL cruisers.