AIDAaura Cruise Review by dockrocker: A sentimental time on an old favorite
A sentimental time on an old favorite
We had the time of our lives going through the Panama Canal on the Sun in April 2004, so when NCL offered a great deal on a September 2009 repo from Vancouver to San Francisco via a quick turn in Alaska, we jumped at it. Other reviewers have complained that the Sun feels small and dated; we're not particularly drawn to the huge, glittery new ships (we don't rock climb very well and we can bowl at home), so we're very fond of this old (only by today's fast-moving cruise ship standards) girl.
She's well maintained and still has a wonderfully friendly staff (shoutout to Marciel in the Champagne Bar, Almira in Four Seasons, and our great room stewards, Xavier and Dewa). The only minor complaint we can come up with -- other than the impossibility of avoiding the smoky casino as you cross the seventh deck -- is that the newer ships are designed with more places to curl up inside during inclement weather, which was most of our trip. The Sun has no dedicated library with seating and More fewer bars and corridor window seats than on the Jewel-class ships. This won't be a problem in future, as the Sun is coming off the Alaska itinerary and returning to the Caribbean.
Captain Tommy Stensrud is a hoot with his morning homilies. He's quite comfortable chatting on the PA, and the passengers developed quite an affection for his friendly monologues. He was extremely considerate about keeping us informed on delays and schedule changes, medical emergencies (both leaving Vancouver and entering San Francisco), mentioning good spots to see whales (we were fortunate enough to see humpbacks breaching and what were probably orcas swimming), narrating along the Inside Passage, and, most kindly, letting us know at exactly what hour we'd be passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. A nice guy and a good captain.
We had an inside guarantee and the cabin was fine; the Sun probably has the best room storage in the fleet. Food was good to excellent, and thank you, NCL, for GREATLY improving your buffet salad bar. I wish NCL did not feel compelled to put alcohol into virtually every dessert and at least half the entrees and appetizers -- alcoholics are numerous and they cruise, too, guys, so please always mention the alcohol on the menu when you use it. Entertainment was just okay, but this is not why we cruise and I think most people liked it fine. The classical guitarist, whose name I have forgotten, was wonderful. A guest lecturer, Nancy Muir, did a fine job with her talks on glaciers and the gold rush, and a fair job (a few factual errors) on her presentation on Alaska's bears. It's good to have people sharing interesting info about the ports that doesn't consist of shilling for Diamonds International, Colombian Emeralds, etc. Not everyone who cruises goes to shop!
Nice trip on a lovely ship -- we thoroughly enjoyed round two on the comfortable and happy Sun and would recommend her to anyone who doesn't need or want the very latest thing in cruise ships. Less
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Cabin review: 6109
6109 -- Quiet location on a half-deck between decks 6 and 7. Don't choose this cabin or any other on the Oslo deck if you can't handle stairs; there are about 10 and no elevator access. Average-sized cabin with the great storage found in all Sun cabins.