My wife and I were married mid July, she had to have unexpected surgery and subsequently several weeks of radiation treatments. After this she needed some down time to reset her focus. We booked a last minute cruise on the Norwegian sun on 10-23, 2010 - 10-30, 2010 to the Eastern Caribbean. We flew from Norfolk VA to Orlando and then the troubles began. We had planned to take the NCL shuttle to Port Canaveral to the ship. Once we found the NCL staff they informed us that they were having a problem disembarking the ship and that we would have to wait. We waited 3-4 hours until they finally got us a bus to the port. Upon arrival at the terminal there were lines out the doors, which was not unexpected. The problems worsened when they had 3-4 lines funneling into the building all being checked by two personnel for entry into the terminal. Once inside the building we made it through security and then were placed in a holding line which consisted of 10+ long rows of chairs that we all sat in, then they called us to the counters one row at a time to have our photos taken, attach a credit card to our ship card etc. Once you got to the head of your line there were multiple staff taking customers but it was a free for all. The staff would hold up a sign indicating they were available and then customers would RUSH from one line across to the other side of the area to jump in front of the available staff. This process took approximately 1.5 hours. We finally got on the ship at proximately 3:00 PM. We had not eaten since 6:00 AM just before boarding our flight. We went to the buffets with the hope of getting a bite to eat only to find them close because they were getting ready to do the lifeboat drill. Thankfully we had a couple of fiber bars in my wife's pocketbook, which saved us. We finally got a snack about 5:30 PM as the ship was leaving.
The Staff were all very friendly and eager to please. The entertainment was first rate. We did have a problem with our in room safe as well as our room being too warm. One phone call got a fast response and both were corrected in a very timely manor.
The ship was VERY well maintained and cleaned, especially considering it was launched in 2001.
We didn't meet our room Stuart for the first three days of our cruise, but once we did meet him, he was very friendly and helpful.
The food was disappointing, maybe due to us comparing it to Carnival or Royal Caribbean. The buffets were very similar day after day. The sit down restaurants food was good, but not up to what we were used to. To obtain a surf and turf meal you had to go to one of the up-charge specialty restaurants. These up-charge places were excellent. The Ginza, Teppanyaki and East meets West were excellent. But why does NCL force you to go to the up charge restaurants to get the quality we have gotten on carnival and Royal in the regular sit down restaurants? Our dinner at East meets West was the best food we had on the cruise, but for the additional $102.00 it costs, it should have been.
The buffets were poorly constructed with regard to movement. an example is the breakfast buffet. There is an omelet station in the middle of the line, so everyone waiting for omelets backs the complete line up. The lunch buffet has a similar problem with the carving and ice cream areas. These areas of 'bottle necking" would be better placed at a separate island out in the mid dining room so that the buffet line can flow. This is how is was on both of our other cruises with Carnival and Royal. This is a simple ergonomic change that would make a huge difference. On one of our shore excursion days we could not even get lunch at the buffet before we disembarked because the line was completely around the buffet and out onto the pool deck.
Shore excursions were good. We did have one of them canceled. The excursion desk called us at 6:15PM. They left a message that our excursion for the next morning had been canceled and advised us to call them back at their desk by 8:00 PM to schedule an alternative excursion. We got back to our room and got the message at 11:00PM. Luckily we were able to go to the excursion desk in the morning and book a last minute excursion that went very well.
Photo services, again were uncoordinated. One night we went to the main area to get photos taken and found the photographer taking pictures. There were many people sitting around the perimeter talking. We walked up to the area just behind the photographer and a man came up and started yelling saying we had cut in line, we apologize stating we didn't see the line, during this another woman approached and began yelling at that man stating she was next in line. The woman was sitting on the other side of the center area with another large group of people and neither group was aware of the other. A simple series of signs station "photo waiting line" with arrows directing people where to wait would have alleviate this.
Disembarkation was better than embarkation, however we asked to carry our luggage off from the ship and were told we could not, yet in the morning numerous people we doing just that.
Overall I would rate this ship as a 5 on a 1-10 scale. I am sure we will cruise again in the spring. I am just as sure it will NOT be on this ship and an not sure it will be with this cruise line.