It has come to a recent tradition in our family to go on a cruise over Christmas. This was the third of the last four years to do so. We probably were a little spoiled with last year's last minute deal on the Costa Atlantica, getting a Wellness Suite for next to nothing. This year, we booked far enough in advance, and the best option was the Norwegian Sun, a repeat of a ship we did four years ago. Of our 14 cruises, this is only the second time we've repeated a vessel (Disney Magic being the other).
We had four rooms in our group. A balcony for my in-laws, an oceanview for 3 for my family of five, an inside for my sister-in-law's group of four, and another inside which got our other two stowe aways in the ocean view on the ship. We used it for storage. The balcony cabin was what you would expect. Nice size, well appointed, lots of storage. The oceanview was teeny. We pushed the queen against the wall and the two adults and the two year old slept there. The third bed, which wasn't made to full length accommodated the 7 and 4 year olds. There was very little storage and even less room to walk. The two inside cabins were huge. Lots of storage and lots of space.
Last year, our embarkation was a breeze. Five minutes within arriving at the terminal, we were aboard. On Costa, you do most of the stuff onboard outside of verifying your eligibility to be on the ship. Amazed. This time, not so great. Everyone on land was grumpy. We got yelled at more than a few times. Maybe it was the fact they were working on Christmas. We arrived and were waiting for my in-laws who were inexplicably later than us. As we waited, we were told we should just board. We wanted to all board together. The lady didn't listen, got impatient with us and started to be snappy. While we were waiting for them, another person told us just to board. We said we were waiting for the rest of our party, and he snapped back, "well where are they?" Saying I didn't know, he snapped back, "you should. Just go onboard and wait." When we saw them arrive at the terminal and get through security, we started to get in line and the same woman who told us to board with out them, snapped at us again that we couldn't line up unless everyone in our party was ready. ARGH! Then we start to board, and the land crew tells us different directions to board, starts to get into a short argument and finally lets us on.
Once we got on the ship, things got better. However, there was one thing that put a black mark on this voyage and that was the weather. We know that's out of NCL's control, but we had very little sun on this trip. All but two days were completely cloudy. Our first day at sea was rough. Barf bags were put out all over this ship. One of our party suffered through it. Every time she went to deck 11, she vomited. After day 1, we had smooth seas and no more sea sickness.
Dining was fantastic. All our food was very well done. Main dining rooms were a little slow, however. Last April, we were on the Norwegian Star, and our four-course dinners took just over an hour. This trip, we typically had two hour dinners. Granted we had more people this time. After the second night, they remembered our preferred dining time and the number of seats we needed and held a table for us. That was very accommodating.
Of the 11 of us, 5 were age appropriate for the kids club. My 7-year-old has been on 11 cruises and this was the first time she was willing to go to kids club. The 4-year old and 2-year old were begging to go. The 2-year old even cried the last night we had to take him out and tried to run back in, despite being there for three hours. Whatever went on in there, the kids loved.
Entertainment was good. We saw three shows. Two were music based and were entertaining. Not great, but enjoyable. The juggler, Romano Frediani, was awful. We couldn't decide if he was just a bad juggler or a bad juggler on purpose in order to get laughs. His show was a train wreck and only got good after the audience started heckling.
The casino staff was very knowledgeable and very friendly. In fact, all of the on-board staff was fantastic. A complete 180 of the ground staff.
The only thing that was annoying outside of the weather was presenting to customs first thing in the morning in Key West, our last day. The line was 45 minutes long and not real fun.
Disembarkation was a breeze. No wait at customs and our luggage was waiting for us.