Day One My DW and I live in San Francisco, so it was a breeze to get to the Norwegian Sun, docked at Pier 35. We left the house at 10:45 and were dropped off by 11:30, very heavy traffic on King Street because it was the final home game of the Giants, and of course traffic was heavy as we got closer to the pier. The weather was perfect, must have been in the 80”s, I was expecting it to be cool, but it was a beautiful day, not a sign of fog. We were greeted by a porter as we unloaded our luggage, and he happily took our luggage and that of our two friends, I gave him a five dollar tip, because he was very nice.
The check in process was long, it took over one and a half hour to finally be checked in and on the ship. I overheard that three of the computers were down for a while. They broke the line up into two parts, with a chance to sit for a few minutes before continuing to line up for check in. The actual check in was very quick and was over in a matter of minutes. The security check was quick and they seem more concerned with any metal you might be carrying, that with what was in your bags, no one even looked twice at our carry on bag full of soda, it could have been alcohol for all they know. So even thought we didn’t carry any on board, I don’t think that it would have been a problem bring any aboard. After we walked up the ramps, very long ramps, at the end of which we were greeted by the first of the picture takers. We passed on this and proceeded on the ship. We were greeted by hand sanitizers before we arrived at the id card scan to board. There was ample orange juice and sparkling wine being offered to welcome us aboard. We were directed to head for the Garden Café for the welcome aboard lunch, no one offered us the Seven Seas for a sit down lunch. We found out that this option was available later in our Freestyle Daily. The lunch at the buffet as very good, with carved roast beef, rotisserie chicken, salads, hot dogs and hamburgers. However the lines were very long. I remembered from CC that there was a buffet sit up also at the rear of the ship at the Great Outdoor Café, we got hamburgers and hot dogs and salads there and there was no line at all. It was still early and there was ample seating. All in all a very good beginning to our 11 day cruise.
After we ate, at 1:45, we started for our rooms, and were told by quite a few people that the rooms were not ready yet, but as we were trying out our key cards, the announcement came that the rooms were in fact ready. We had booked an inside cabin, category JJ and got room 8318. The room was next to the atrium elevators, but was very quiet. We liked the fact that it was very easy to get to any floor by either elevator or stairs. We brought a night light with us because the room is very dark, and it came in really handy. We went in, the room was in good shape and not as small as we expected an inside to be. We unpacked our carry on luggage and prepared for the 3:30 mandatory life boat drill. We got to our muster station just to heard that because of the slow boarding, the muster was moved to 4:00. The muster, once it got started, went quickly, about 20 minutes, although we almost got heat stroke, standing in the not sun!
Our luggage arrived at around 4:30 and we put everything away until we went back upstairs to watch us go under the bridge, it got very cold, remember to bring a jacket next time. It got colder and colder as we got to the bridge. We had dinner in the Seven Seas restaurant, and service was quick and efficient. The food was good and the portions was more that enough. They still had cold soup, it was peach and delicious. I had the mahi-mahi and it was moist and very tasty, my DW had the leg of lamb, but found it a little too rare, so we switched and both were happy. The vanilla soufflé for dessert was delicious. After dinner, we checked out the casino, signed up for the player’s card, and I paid $10 for $20 in slot play. I won $73, wow! We went to Stardust Lounge for the 9:30 show. They sold crackers before the show and sold quite a bit, but we did not see anyone jumping and shouting “I won!“. The show was very good. The Jean Ryan dancers were beautiful and the singers were good. The comedian, John Pinney was very funny, and he only made a couple of “how small the shower was” jokes, it was a relief. Our cruise director is Pedro Serra. We never did see our room stewards this day and they did not refill our ice nor turned down our beds. The room did have a slight cigarette smell, but not too overwhelming. All in all, a very good start.
Day Two Had breakfast in the Garden Café, which was very crowded, so again went out to the Great Outdoor Café, no lines, eggs cooked easy over, bacon, croissants and fresh fruit. The coffee up here was fresh brewed and very hot and fresh. Taste like Columbian so not for those who like their dark roast. You don’t have to brew your own, because the coffee was very good. We went to our CC meet and greet and had a lot of fun putting faces to the people we talked to on our roll call. Five of the ship’s officers came to speak a little about the ship, very interesting and informative. We did the sit down lunch at the Seven Seas dinning room, they had cold pineapple soup on the menu that was refreshing and delicious. My DW had the meat loaf and I had the sweet and sour grouper, both the dishes were excellent and the portions were just enough to fill us without overwhelming. At 1 pm was the Latitudes cocktail party, the captain was there with some of the ship’s officers, there were prizes given out and all in all, again it was interesting and informative. For dinner tonight we again went to the Seven Seas, it was a formal or not night, so quite a few people were dressed up in formal, but the majority of the people were dressed resort casual, one man was even in shorts and sandals and he was seated. We had the soy sauce duck, lobster and groper and Beef Wellington. Yes, lots of food, but we wanted to try everything. The duck was overcooked, dry and way over salted. The lobster and groper was excellent, but only half a lobster tail. The Beef Wellington was good, but the crust was soggy. There was carrot and orange cold soup, my only complaint about the cold soup was that it is never cold, only slightly cool. Dinner was good and the service as usual was excellent. The Seven Seas was the restaurant to go to, Four Seas was full by 6. The coffee in the dinning room is really hit or miss, sometimes we got served coffee that sat in the carafe too long and it tasted it. On the other hand, the coffee in the buffet was good even at 11 at night. The show tonight was the Jean Ryan dancers doing “Nos Nocias”. It had a lot of energy, but in the end, it was a little boring. The music in most cases was canned, the band just pretended to play, makes you wonder if the singers were actually singing.
Day Three Breakfast at the Great Outdoor Café, same things, I guess they don’t really change the breakfast offerings too much. Will have to try the sit down breakfast to see if there is anything different. Watched the Wii archery demonstration, interesting. Lunch was at the Seven Seas, today they had the fried calamari, very good and crisp. The cold soup was blueberry, and for the first time, it was actually cold. We had the undon noodles, very salty, the beef curry, very tasty but the Nan bread was over salted, the ginger fried rice was very good. Dinner tonight was at La Bistro. We had received two free dinners from our travel agent. The meal was as other Ccs pointed out took almost two hours. We had the escargot, rack of lamb and the boullibyse and for dessert, we had the vanilla Crème Brule. All in all the service was good and the food was more than good, although we did enjoy the main dinning room and probably would not have paid for this. The coffee here was very fresh. The show tonight was the Amazing Brenda Kyle, hypnotist. It was funny, but you wonder how many were actually hypnotized and how many were just going thought the motions. In the casino every night about 11:30 was the lite bites, fresh fruit, egg rolls, pastries, cookies and sandwiches. I guess this is for the late night gamblers and is in place of the midnight buffet.
Day four We are now sailing closer to the coast of Mexico. This morning there was a rainbow to the rear of the ship, and it had rained last night. In the afternoon there were dolphins leaping out of the water. We watched as we neared Cabo to make the turn into the Sea of Cortez. All in all it was a beautiful day, muggy and very hot, makes you wonder how anyone can sit out in the sun for more than 15 minutes. Breakfast and lunch was at the Great Outdoor Café, to both enjoy the view and fresh air. The food was the usual at breakfast, and for lunch were ribs and mahi-mahi. We tried the sandwiches at La Rambles, and found that it was a good place to grab a quick soup and sandwich. Popcorn at the Sports bar. One complaint was that all the TVs only carried one game, no choice. Yes I know, not here to watch TV, but why not, my choice. Watch part of the Myth or Legend game and found it interesting. Dinner was in the Seven Seas, prime rib night! However it was way too well done, even when we ordered it medium rare, it arrived grey, more like pot roast than prime rib. The chill soup was avocado cumber and was not too good. Service for once was iffy. We were not offered horse radish, and I didn’t get a refill on my coffee that I always have with my dinner. The salmon that our friends ordered was way over cooked., and the scallops in polenta was over salted. The show was Elvy Rose and she was great, lots of energy. She sang songs from the fifties, sixties, show tunes and Spanish songs, all in all a lot of fun. Her finale was “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” and it was very well done and moving. John Pinney performed at the Breezes lounge tonight at 10:30. The venue was way too small for the overflowing crowd. It was so crowded that it is a potential fire hazard. Wheel chairs cannot get thought and it got very uncomfortable. On the good side, John was funny and this show with all different jokes was very good. Not too many comedians that I would go to for two show on two nights.
Day Five Finally made land! There were shuttle buses to Los Mochis from the ship that cost $5 for a round trip. My DW and I felt that the bus trip in was the best part of this stop. We were dropped off at the bandstand garden on Obregon across from a church. We walked up Obregon for about three blocks. Did not spend one cent, not a tourist town and not catered to tourist, mostly to locals. There were furniture stores, clothing stores and the Mercado. It had rained early this morning and the streets were very wet and muddy. Good news was that there were no beggars and the only person hustling you was a little boy at the bandstand selling water. There were shopping centers on the way in, but you had to transfer to there on a different shuttle. This town with a population of 450,000 has the usual Diary Queen, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks and Home Depot. It was hot, about 90 and very muggy. We spent about half an hour walking around and return to the ship for lunch. All in all, this is a stop for those taking the train to Copper Canyon, and not for shoppers and for those who want to sight see. Watched part of the Wii bowling after lunch, fun, but more for those without the Wii at home. They offered a movie at 3:00, but this was the same movie playing on your in room TV. We had dinner tonight at the Four Seasons MDR and tonight they were featuring beef stroganoff and roast turkey. Both were good and the turkey was not overdone. The performance tonight was the Antonio Ramirez Mexican Folkloric troop and they were very good, with a maharachi band and dancers. They performed music and folk dances. They had a little ten year old boy playing the violin with the band and he was very talented, he even sang. We finally got hold of a room service menu by going to the reception desk, so we decided to try it tonight. We ordered pepperoni pizza, fruit plate and a peanut butter sandwich. It took about 45 minutes to arrive and we tip the server 2 dollars. The pizza was good, but the big disappointment was the pb and j, it did not have enough pb and the bread was very stale. From the raves on the food thread, I expected something better.
Day six Last night the Copper Canyon train was delay in returning by a rock slide. Their buses did not arrive back to the ship until 5 am! They were on the return train for over 9 hours. The time that they spend at the canyon was only about half an hour, just enough for some pictures and lunch. What an expensive non trip. Since they were late we had a late start on our trip to La Paz and did not arrive until noon instead of ten. This time, our last time here was in 2002, the buses were much better organized from Pichilingue to La Paz. We were among the first 400 people off and it only took about 15 minutes to get on a free shuttle bus. The ride in took about 45 minutes and they dropped us off at the bus terminal. The last time we were here, they had dropped us off about a mile before the terminal. We walked along the Malecon for about a mile then we walked back. We did not see too much interesting or any have to buy items. We did notice that the locals were really limited in their English, which made it hard to bargain. Our total time at La Paz was only about one hour. It is beautiful and has been improved a lot, but few cruise ships come here, so not too much tourist stuff. The last bus was delay returning back to the ship by almost and hour, so again we were late in leaving. Apparently the bus had broken down and a replacement bus had to be sent to pick up the stranded passengers. Tonight we ate at the Four Seasons MDR and they had roast duck, seafood fettuccine and roast loin of pork. The service here was exceptional. It was our friend’s 35th anniversary, so they got a cake and a song, “Let me call you Sweetheart”. The show was the Jean Ryan dancers doing a Cirque Pan, a take off on Peter Pan. It was very lively and had a lot of motion. One criticism I would have is that it seems to about scantily clad women dancing with strange men. Peter Pan as r-rated. It is very funny if you think about it.
Day Seven Mazatlan today. We been here numerous days, so we took the free shuttle from the ship to the port entrance and just shopped around there. Got a few souvenir and my DW got a fifteen minutes back and arm massage for $10. We been here numerous times and did not feel the need to see everything again. Very hot and muggy today. Dinner was at the Four Seasons. We had the tilapia and the roast pork. Again everything was very good. We had dinner with a couple that we meet at the CC meet and greet and we had a great time talking cruising and some of the problems that a wheelchair bound person would have. The show tonight was a magician, Jean Pierre Parent, this man is great with cards and he is very funny. This show did not disappoint in any way. We are now going to the later show, it is less crowded and we pretty much get our choice of seats. We had the chocolate buffet tonight from 10:30-11:30 pm in the Four Seasons MDR. There were ice sculptures, but even thought we got there at 10:45, we had a hard time making out what they were. The cakes were very good and there were a great variety. The petite fours were excellent, and the tiramisu ones were the best. Some people took plates up to the Garden Buffet to eat and a great many of the plates only had one or two bites taken out of a couple of the pieces, what a waste.
Day Eight Today we docked in Puerto Vallarta, right across the street from and huge shopping mall, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. We of course went to explore all of this. The shopping mall is one of the Galleria chain of malls, and contained the usual Burger King, Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Radio Shack and Nike. The big anchor store is called Liverpool, which I guess must be big in Mexico, because this is the second one we have seen on this cruise. It is almost like a Macy’s, with pricey clothing, furniture and etc. It is so big that the street it is on is named Liverpool. Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart are next to each other. We walked around a bit, brought a little take back to work candy for everybody. Nothing you cannot buy at home, lots of fresh produce, but we cannot buy or bring back. Good stop for those who need water, sodas and liquor. Good place for vanilla, two types between 3 and six dollars each. The Corona Vainilla Mexicana was 35 peso and the Usumacinta Mexican Vanilla was 66 pesos. I have no idea what the difference is, but both are listed as being coumarin-free. We also brought a bottle of saffron for 132 pesos for 2 grams, we wanted more, but they were sold our. A cruise came through a week earlier and they had sold out of the saffron. Just visiting these places took up two hours, but again we have been here and have taken all the tours we wanted to. One criticism is that it is a very long walk from the ship to the exit gate and a long walk back to the ship, if they open a gate closer to the ship, it would make life a lot easier. Also, our friend in a wheelchair must have had a really hard time jumping the foot and half high curbs. Dinner at the Seven Seas, tonight we had the roast beef loin, ordered it rare, and it came pink and tender. The show tonight was the comedian, Sam Griesbaum and he was very funny. His bit about his dogs was great. Tonight was the International Carnival Party, that was held in the atrium. The venue is way too small and it was very hard to see much of anything unless you got there very early, but the party had a lot energy.
Day Nine Today’s last stop before we return home is Cabo San Lucas. We stayed aboard and had a leisurely breakfast at 9 and when they stopped issuing tender tickets, we went ashore. Cabo has changed a great deal since we were here last in 2006. The entire waterfront has been built up with new shops, restaurants and even a dolphin experience. Now instead of a walk directly to the Hotel Tesoro, now we have to detour around a flea market and a ton of restaurants. The main street was closed for construction, and it was nice because there are usually a lot of cars. They have a new mall at the end of the wharf area, but it is filled with shops that not one can afford to shop in. Cabo is turning into a rich man’s paradise. For dinner we went to Seven Seas MDR and we had roast leg of lamb tonight. The shop was the guitar playing of Fabio Zuni, he played some classics and some modern tunes. He was not really too funny, but he played a mean guitar.
Day Ten We tried the Seven Seas MDR for breakfast today, and found it a wonderful experience. It was nice to have everything served you and to be able to order from a menu. Everything available was also found in the buffet, but everything was more relaxed and slower. The only problem is that they are only opened from 7:30-9:30 for breakfast. Lunch was a barbeque in the Great Outdoor Café. This was the second one this cruise. They had pork ribs, pork chops, chicken, sausage and fried rice. All was very good, but the lines should be better controlled, fights almost broke out because some people just don’t believe in lines. Dinner was again in the Seven Seas, and tonight was a formal or not night. We chose more casual dress. The dinning room was about a quarter semi formally dressed, a quarter in aloha shirts and the rest in tee shirts and jeans, so the option is really yours. Tonight is the surf and more surf night, and part of the entrée is lobster! They only gave a half of a tail, but we asked for and received two halves, which came to about four ounces of lobster, grilled with other seafood and served over pasta. The show was the Encore finale performed by the Jean Ryan dancers. This was a very good show with numbers from about seven current Broadway shows. Parts of the crew came onto stage afterward to introduce themselves and to thank us for cruising with NCL. Nicely done.
Day Eleven Had dinner in the MDR and caught the farewell crew show and the farewell encore show. Both shows were enjoyable, and the best part was the finale of the crew show, funny!
Embarkation We opted for the anytime, carry your own bags way to get off the ship and it was easy. We finished breakfast at 9, headed to our rooms to get our luggage and were off the ship at 9:15, and home by 10, wow, new record!
Conclusions The Sun is in no way on its final legs, it is very well kept up and is in great shape. I only noticed slight wear and tear on some of the carpeting. The food in the MDR is more than satisfactory for me, and I really have a hard time understanding why anyone would pay for anything else. We ate at the La Bistro restaurant only because we got two dinners as a gift from our travel agent, it was good but the MDR was just as good. I actually overheard a man complaining that all they serve is pork, so much pork that NCL must have gotten a good price on pork. The MDR always had five new entrees every night as well as four items always on the menu. People complaint about the food being the same everyday in the buffet for breakfast, and indeed it is. So we opted to pick and choose what we ate and usually had just a little of a few things so that everyday was a little different from the previous day. I overheard someone in line at the MDR on the last day complaining that they only ate at the buffet for dinner and the food never changed too much. Well, if you went anywhere to any buffet everyday for eleven days then things will usually be the same and with few changes. The entertainment was enjoyable and since it was included with no cost, we have no complaints. It kept you entertained for an hour, so what more can you ask for. Dress was casual, bring a pair of nice jeans and a couple of aloha shirts and you will be fine, and for females, a nice top and pants will more than do. As to shoes, I worn some hard black shoes to dinner, but I saw that a lot of people were wearing their sneakers, so I did too, no problem. The coffee is fine, I would not bother with bring any or making any in my room. If you really need a dark roast fix, then buy it in the Java Café on deck 5. Two very minor complaints, our room stewards never introduced themselves and we never got the only two things we had asked for, a room service menu and to empty the frig. The room service menu we finally got when we went down to reception. We use the ice in the ice bucket to chill our soda and was not the worst for it, but if we needed the frig. to store medicine, then we would have been in trouble. Our other complaint is with the blond waitress, Brutskila, in the Seven Seas, she was not too friendly and she rolled her eyes when we made a simple request, and I really didn’t know if it was because we were Asian or what, gave off bad vibes, but she seemed nice to other guests, maybe because they were not Asian. The crew, at least the service staff, was mostly from the Philippines and I found that in most cases they were polite and pleasant always ready with a smile and a greeting. Bar staff was not intrusive, they were there when you needed them. As to crackers, they pushed it for five minutes before the show, if you are not interested, ignore them. There were a few announcements of activities, but again, not intrusive