This was our 55th cruise, 11th on NCL, 3rd on Norwegian Sun. We haven't cruised with NCL for six years as we were unhappy the last trip aboard the Sun. We were hoping things had improved during our absence - no improvement noted. Eight of us sailed as a group as we often do.
Boarding took two hours, one hour just to get to the cruise terminal door, then one hour to get to ship. This started the cruise off on a very bad note. Debarkation was nearly as bad. Ship was at the dock at 6 AM, the first passengers departed at 9 AM. NCL tries to blame the Customs and Immigration for the delays. Carnival and Royal Caribbean don't have any problem with having passengers depart by 7:30 AM,after arriving at 6 AM. Maybe Customs and Immigration have a problem with NCL?
Dining room dinners took one and one half to two hours due to insufficient waiters and assistants. The wait staff was running and trying very hard - but it appeared that they were at least 50% understaffed. Obviously, NCL is trying to milk every dollar they can out of the dining business. The food was good about half of the meals - very few salads (2), entrees, or desserts were offered. Another cutback on expenses? In our estimation, Free Style Dining was a disaster.
The first night we ate at the East and West Steak House- pretty good meal, Caesar salad very bland. Second night ate at 7 Seas Restaurant - 55 minutes after sitting down, we were served our soup - mild complaints to the waitress (Olga) caused her to lose her temper and deliver a lecture to our table of eight that we were inconsiderate and obnoxious. First time in our 55 cruises I've heard a cruise line employee yell and insult a group of passengers. Obviously she was very unhappy with her job. I was going to use her name on the comment card at the end of the cruise, but there were no comment cards - only "STYLE" (attaboy) cards were available.
Four Season's Restaurant; The service was just as slow, but not nearly as hectic. All the wait staff was polite. Again, the food was good about half of the meals. We ate at Adagio one evening, again about half of our group enjoyed the food. The serving line arrangement in the Garden Cafe definitely needs improvement or directional signs to improve the passenger flow. Food in Las Ramblas was fair at best.
Sunday we visited Nassau and taxied to the Atlantis Casino. The slot machines were all dirty with cigarette/cigar ashes and butts in the coin trays. Very disgusting, not conducive to spending money there. This was a change since our last visit in September.
Tuesday, the 2nd sea day, the ship stopped dead in the water for a few minutes. The Captain announced there was a minor technical problem and there was nothing to worry about. When we started moving again, it was obvious that we were at a reduced speed. Turns out, the starboard (right) clutch had a failure and we were restricted to the other shaft and propeller at a reduced speed. This caused a change in itinerary, as we could only travel at about 11 knots. St Thomas and St Martin were deleted, Samana, Dominican Republic and Great Stirrup Cay (NCL private island) were substituted. Samana is about the same size as Roatan was 15 years ago - very little to offer. This change in itinerary really upset a lot of the passengers that had been planning on doing their Christmas shopping at St Thomas. Much hostility was present. After much discussion, NCL gave $100 credit per cabin, free photos, one glass of wine per person, reduced rates at the private island and 30% of the value of this cruise to be taken off the next cruise. I wonder how many people will take another cruise with NCL?
Spent a great deal of time in the casino aboard the Norwegian Sun. It was quite clean and had a mostly friendly staff. Casino Manager Grace, Assistant Casino Manager Martin, and Host Sharon were outstanding and gracious. One thing surprised me at the Dice Game: a player was shooting the full length of the table and occasionally missed hitting the end wall - the dealers yelled at him many times and declared "no roll". This yelling was out of place and I stopped gambling immediately - gambling should be fun, not stressful.
The cabins were a little larger than those on the competition's ships and quite comfortable and quiet. The room stewards were very good. The windows were so dirty, little could be seen through them - definitely need cleaning.
The ship was not crowded and quite easy to move about. The public spaces appeared to be neat and clean, with little rust visible on the exterior areas.
I cannot recommend this ship to any prospective customers.