Background: We are experienced cruisers and usually drive to Miami to cruise on NCL. We were happy when we heard that NCL was bringing a ship to Port Canaveral, which is nearby, so booked this cruise when we saw an article in the local paper that the Sun had arrived from Europe.
Embarkation: We were dropped at the port by a friend around 11:30 am and were eating by noon. No kidding, it was very quick and easy getting on. No lines and very efficient. We are silver level latitudes members so did get to get in a different line, but the line for everyone else was not long and was moving quickly. Since we knew ahead of time that we probably wouldn't be able to get into our room until around 2pm, we carried on everything we might need, and really only needed our appetite. We got into our room by 1:30.
Stateroom: We chose an deluxe inside cabin because we like to get a good night's sleep and we have found that the inside cabins are very dark. Our room was the largest we've ever had, for an inside cabin. We both had our own closet and chest of drawers and there was a big sofa bed in addition to our bed. The bathroom was average (small) but OK. I made a note to myself to bring along a bar of soap on the next cruise. The liquid soap/shampoo combo in the shower was runny and did not lather well. No shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser or shower cap was provided either. We always had clean towels. We did encounter a problem with our room, I believe it was day #2, there was a wet spot on the carpet in front of the door inside and outside the cabin. We reported it to our cabin steward, but nothing was done. By day 4 we noticed an odor and called the front desk to see if they were going to fix it... they ended up fixing it while we were out snorkeling, but placed a big dryer fan in our room so we couldn't really use the room for that afternoon. To make a long story short, we complained and ended up being compensated fairly by guest services. (extra shipboard credit and a bottle of wine)
Dining: The ship was very clean and everyone working on the ship was very pleasant and helpful. We enjoy NCL's freestyle dining. We only ate in the main dining rooms twice and the food was very good. We lucked out and hit the one night when they serve lobster in the main dining room..(It was the second night of the cruise) and had a delicious lobster and grouper dinner. We love Le Bistro and ate there twice, ordered the filet both times. We have eaten in the steakhouse on other cruises and think that the steak in Le Bistro is just as good for a bit less cover charge. The atmosphere is very comfortable, we sat in a curved booth with pillows... The staff is very attentive and the service is fantastic. We also ate at the Italian restaurant, which was very good, but it has changed since last time we cruised on the SUN and is now "casual" Italian, the menu has changed, still delicious but not as much variety. (I like to cook so like to try things that I don't make at home...)
We ate in Pacific Heights twice. This is not an 'extra charge' restaurant and we loved it. I didn't remember it from last time on the Sun. It is 'hidden' on the 12th floor behind the sports bar. Both nights we ate there it was pretty empty. I'd classify the food as Asian/Mexican/Caribbean fusion. We thought it was very good and would definitely recommend it.
I don't like buffets, but my husband liked the breakfast buffet because it was quicker than the restaurant. It was too crowded and didn't have enough tables. When you could find a table it was usually not wiped clean (I'm not into germs) so I'd get an extra cloth napkin and make myself a little tablecloth. :) I preferred the restaurant for breakfast because I like to sit in a nice clean quiet place and enjoy my meal, not carry my plate around and hope that someone doesn't take it when I go to find a hot tea. Plus I love eggs Benedict, which they don't serve at the buffet.
Activites: We used the gym every day. It is equipped nicely and has just about everything you need. Lots of cardio machines, free weights and machines. We did not take any classes, but they were available (for a fee)
We didn't do any group activities. I did do some shopping in the duty free store. I love Swarovski jewelry and always buy a pair of earrings or two. The salesgirl was very helpful and pleasant. I also bought 2 bottles of Absolut for my friend who drove us to the port. They hold the booze for you until the night before you get off the ship.
Entertainment: We went to every single show and we loved them all. They are excellent and there was a nice variety, every night something different. The theater is spacious and you really don't have to be there when the doors open to get a good seat. It's comfortable and clean. I personally liked the comedian "BUD" the best, he was hilarious.
Shore Excursions: We are both SCUBA certified but decided not to lug all that gear along on this cruise so only brought our snorkeling equipment. We took a cab to Sapphire Beach in St Thomas and had a nice day considering it was raining most of the time and a hurricane had just gone through so the water was a bit rough and stirred up, but hey, we were gonna get wet anyway... I'd go back. There were beach chairs and a small restaurant. There was a dive shop renting all kinds of water sports equipment. I think it would have been a fantastic day if the weather had been better.
We took a cab to Dawn Beach in St Martin. We rented 2 chairs and an umbrella for $10 and had a nice relaxing day. There was lots of reef to explore, but the water was choppy due to the storm that just went through so visibility was not the best, but OK, better than a day at the office...
I took a long walk in Nassau, my husband didn't get off the boat. I had researched snorkeling opportunities and we decided not to snorkel here. We had taken an excursion last summer on the NCL Sky, and it was really good, but decided to be lazy this time.
Disembarkation: We chose to get off last (this is part of the freestyle thing, you choose what time you want to get off) so were able to sleep in and eat a nice breakfast before leaving. We placed our luggage outside our door the night before with color coded tags for the time we selected to disembark. The next morning, we waited for our 'color' to be called and proceeded to deck 5. The lines looked long, but moved fast. We were off, luggage in hand and were going through immigration in about 30 minutes.
In summary, we had a very relaxing, fun filled, entertaining vacation. We have already booked our next cruise (we actually had it booked in July, this one was an extra) on the NCL EPIC for the transatlantic in May. We got a great deal on a mini suite w/balcony. We always use an NCL cruise consultant (over the phone) to book our trips.
Something I'd like to mention is that I get motion sickness pretty easily, and I take Bonine when I cruise. It's over the counter and I take one each night. It really works. The seas were rough especially the last 2 days and we heard of people getting sick. I would have been sick before the ship left the dock if I had not taken my pill. They sell it on the ship, but you really need to take it before you feel sick.