We enjoyed every minute of our time on the Norwegian Sun and feel we owe it to the ship and her crew to say that, based on our experience of a 28 day cruise, we found much of the negative comment we have read in the CC reviews difficult to support.
ROCKY START: We had originally booked a cruise on the Star Princess, sailing from Rio de Janiero to Los Angeles. It was only after Princess cancelled the Valparaiso-Los Angeles leg of that cruise that we decided to book our cruise on the Sun. This was for two legs: Buenos Aires to Valparaiso and Valparaiso To Los Angeles. At the same time we booked flights from Sydney to Santiago and San Francisco back home to Sydney. From Santiago it had been our intention to travel to Buenos Aires by coach via Mendoza. In the aftermath of the earthquake in Chile we decided to fly direct from Sydney to Buenos Aires. When we made our booking on the Sun we asked for and were given a balcony on the starboard side. We reasoned this was the side to be on with the ship travelling clockwise around the South American coast. Several weeks after the booking was made NCL altered the second leg of the cruise. Instead of heading north to Los Angeles, the ship would be passing through the Panama Canal and on to Miami. We told our agent in Sydney that we would be happy to keep the booking and made arrangements to travel from Miami to San Francisco at the end of the cruise. Going through the travel documents about two weeks before leaving Sydney one of us noticed a different cabin number on our cruise ticket. It was a port side number. Somehow, when the ship's destination was shifted to Miami we were allocated a different cabin. After learning from the Sydney agent and NCL's Sydney office that the ship was fully booked with no starboard side cabin available, we phoned NCL reservations in Miami where Jack answered the call. Amazingly, Jack found one cabin available on the starboard side. Thank you, Jack!
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: We have cruised on ships of Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean and others. We have invariably enjoyed these cruises. The Sun was our first experience of NCL. We had read some negative reviews of the Sun in CC and were a little apprehensive, wondering if we would be disappointed in the ship. We were not. From the moment we stepped aboard we felt relaxed and unhurried. The crew members we met during embarkation were friendly and cheerful and somehow the ship appeared uncrowded. We carried these impressions with us throughout the cruise
EMBARKATION: Since the Sun will no longer be cruising in South America, there is little point in saying much about the embarkation process in Buenos Aires. Suffice to say, it was as efficiently managed as any we have experienced. It was 35 minutes from the moment we stepped away from our bags outside the terminal to the moment we entered our cabin.
OUR CABIN: We had a balcony cabin forward on the starboard side of Deck 9. We found this a great place to be. More often than not when the ship docked the starboard side and the forward gangways were used, giving us plenty of entertainment. The balcony chairs appeared to be new and were perfectly comfortable. The cabin interior, whilst not voluminous, was more than adequate in size. There was no walk-in wardrobe as we have found on other ships but there was more than enough room both in drawer and hanging space for our belongings. The doors to the wardrobe and bathroom were opposite one another and there was need for a bit of care when exiting the bathroom. The bathroom was compact but we thought as well conceived as any ship bathroom we have encountered. The shower was superb and the shower curtains were fitted ingeniously with vertical rods which prevented the intrusion of the curtain into the cubicle. Cubicle is a misnomer; it was round and had an excellent non-slip floor. Soap and shampoo were provided in dispensers. We asked for and were given a bar of soap. In addition to the main queen sized bed there was a couch that could be converted into a bed when the cabin was occupied by more than two people. Initially we found the couch uncomfortable as it would slip forward whenever someone sat on it. Examination underneath revealed a couple of clips that had to be secured. It was fine after this. There was a coffee maker which the cabin attendants kept stocked with coffee/decaf filters.
DINING: We had read the complaints about the paucity of space in the Garden Cafe, the standard of food on the ship and some rudeness amongst the waiters. The Garden Cafe was where we mostly went for breakfast and lunch. We found it no worse than the buffets we have experienced on other ships and, except on a couple of sea days when it was uncharacteristically crowded, we found we could mostly find a table in the buffet itself. A number of times we took our meal across to the Sports Bar where there was always somewhere to sit. At lunch pizzas and pasta were available in Pacific Heights. The pizzas were good and several times we had pizza with salad from the buffet. The Great Outdoors with its own buffet was a nice place for breakfast in the warmer weather. We ate dinner in the Four Seasons almost every night. We found the food and the service to be generally very good. We ate early, encountered no delay in getting to our table and enjoyed meeting the variety of waiters that comes with freestyle dining. Overall we found the food and service on the Sun to be as good as, if not better than,on any other ship we have cruised on. Our only serious complaint is that the buffet food was not kept warm. We would have thought this an easy problem to rectify.
DISEMBARKATION: We chose to walk off with our bags. This was easy and convenient. For the first time a shore side gangway was connected to the promenade deck for disembarkation. Either this was not announced or, if it was, we missed the announcement. Whatever the case, we disembarked an hour after we could have.
INCIDENTALS: 1. The port information provided by the ship was fairly slight and there were no on board experts whose talks we have enjoyed on other ships. On the other hand the Captain's messages which we really enjoyed and the talks that accompanied the rounding of Cape Horn and the passage through the Panama Canal were excellent. 2. Walking on and off the ship in port was, like the ship herself, relaxed and uncrowded. This was the case even when the tenders were being used.
SUMMATION: The Sun is not as glamorous as some ships we have cruised on but has an understated elegance and charm, together with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that we really enjoyed. It was no surprise to us that several of the crew we spoke to, who had worked on newer larger ships in the NCL fleet, said the Sun was their favorite. The trip around South America is fascinating and on the Sun it was a great, relaxing way to enjoy the experience.