We now have a comparison between cruise lines and will play a little VS in this review.Last year we were on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas for a "training wheels" 4 night cruise.
PRE CRUISE- Spent some time at Jetty Park which is adjacent to the terminals. What a beautiful quiet area even though there were many people there on Saturday morning. It had been 25+ years since I was last there and they have made it a beautiful experience.
EMBARKATION-Arrived around 11:30 and boarded quickly and seamlessly ,same as RCL.
SHIP SIZE/CONDITION- Both ships seem to be about the same size even though RCL holds more passengers due to smaller cabins. Although the Sun is newer it seemed to have more minor flaws.Trim being knocked off here and there in the hallways.Elevator buttons missing numbers to press.Hot water taking 15 minutes to warm up in the AM(Deck 4). No big deal but advantage RCL.
FREEDOM- NCL touts freestyle cruising and by far they win in this category. Come and go as you please as far as dining and leaving the ship at the end of the cruise. Advantage NCL Sun.
FOOD- We are not picky fancy eaters so we did spend a lot of time in the buffets. NCL Sun had no imagination and pretty much repeated itself everyday.The freestyle dining on NCL was nice as you come and go when you please and were seated at your own table if you chose. Advantage-both about the same.
BUFFET LAYOUT- The NCL Sun is poorly designed as your specialty stations are your 1st stop as you enter causing large backups. This round easily goes to RCL.
ONDECK ACTIVITIES- The Sun seemed to lag in this category as there were not as many as RCL.Sailaway party was pretty low key.No big deal to us. Very slight advantage to RCL.
SHIP LAYOUT- The Sun was very broken up and difficult to get around until you figured out the maze. Hard on some decks to get from the forward to the aft without detouring up/down a deck. To get to the shops from the front on deck 7 you had to pass through the casino which is off limits to minors. We did enjoy being on the 4th deck as it passed all the way through the length of the boat and made access easy once we learned our way.Slight advantage RCL
CREW- NCL Sun crew although friendly seemed distracted and many times confused. Almost seemed like it was their first time doing their jobs. If you do the same task daily shouldn't it be quicker and easier and less turmoil? Advantage RCL.
DISEMBARKATION- We chose to walk-off and were top 5 in line at 7:00AM and in our car at 8:00AM. NCL did a nice job keeping the line organized. Did the same last year with RCL. Slight advantage NCL Sun.
OVERALL- Even though the VS challenge may show some advantage to our cruise on RCL last year, by no means would I say this ship or cruise line is below par. We are considering another cruise next year and due to limited dates and options will not hesitate in the least to choose NCL or the NCL Sun again. Had a blast!