This was my first and last cruise with NCL. I was ready to relax and let a week of life float by with good food, fun and rest. While on the NCL Sun, I found none of that.
Positives: The service by NCL agents at Port Canaveral were fun, helpful and very professional. The ship is beautiful--was redone not too long ago. Although it is laid out with a lot of up and downs from floor to floor to reach common areas, once you got the hang of it, it was easy to navigate. We were given the option of what time we wanted to disembark at the end of the cruise and I liked that a lot. Leaving the ship and port was very smooth and quick. The ports we visited were very nice (more information about that later). The bar staff was always cordial and did not make us wait when asking for soft drinks when more lucrative drinks patrons were there to be served as well. There was always someone at dining areas ready to spray your hands with hand sanitizer before entering and they were always More
nice. We found our room to be satisfactory with plenty of storage space to put our items away. There was a refrigerator in our room but was jammed packed with drinks and goodies (for a price) with no room for us to chill our water we had brought.
Cabin: As I said above, the cabin was nice. If you like hard beds, you will be in heaven. I do, so I was happy. Our steward was very impatient and would give us our ice in the middle of the day, and our towel animal which on other cruise lines is reserved for turn-down. We only received turn down one night. My friend liked to sleep and he was always complaining they he was suppose to leave. One day I just told him to forget it and I gave him our dirty towels to exchange. Like another poster, our steward would just pop in and when I told him to leave whatever he had in his hand on the floor, he came completely in and was looking around to see where everyone was. I got a creepy feeling about this. He did it a few times. The bathroom was small. BRING YOUR OWN HAIRDRYER! The hairdyer looks like a vacuum cleaner and is not very strong. Also, the tube gets hot and you can't stand to hold it long at all. I like the indented spaces a long each side of the mirror with metal guards to hold your peronal items. Shower is round and small. Toilet is very uncomfortable to sit on but the seats in the bathrooms around the ship are fine. One night I went to order room service and our steward had taken everything out of our ship information book. I did get a menu from a steward to order from. IT was very strange.
Pool Area: Very nice with 4 hottubs and two pools. There was another pool we heard near the front of the ship but never found it. The children's pool has steps and the adult pool had ladders. Adults often went into the children's pool. There weren't many children on this cruise compared to other lines I have been on. Although the pools and hot tubs are open until 10:30, the crew start stacking chaise lounges and chairs around 6. I had read that before I went on the cruise but really didn't believe it--but it is true. By 7, the deck is cleared and the pools are corded off and the hottubs netted.
One time, I saw a guest get a chaise lounge off the stack and put it down to lay on, and the crew member took it away from her and put it up. The pool deck was packed with people. I thought I would do the same thing until I saw that so my friend and I kept walking and went back to the room.
Entertainment: The entertainment we saw was very good. They had a group-DEL SOL -that entertained in Dazzles and on the pool deck and they were terrific. Elvy was very good and funny. We loved the Liar's Club show. The performers for NCL were also good. I missed the comedian and magician but heard they were good.
General: The doors and hallways were very narrow. Photos prices were high and the characters you posed with were very seedy looking. We attended a scrapbooking class one afternoon. The girl didn't know anything about scrapbooking except 1-2 facts. She showed us what the ship had to sell, gave us a 4x6 of the ship and our cruise course and that was it. Everyone was disappointed. Most of us were experienced scrappers and thought we would be able to make a page (as we had done on other cruise lines. We spent some time helping a few newbies with information. Very lame.
Food: The biggest disappointment of all. The Garden Cafe is very poorly laid out and congested with long lines. Although they have crew making paninis, to order pastas, stir-fry, ice cream and crepes, and paninis, you can never get any unless you are willing to wait in a long line for a long time. Salad bar was set up backwards so you always got your lettuce last. Cesar salad served all the time and was good. Very heavy Indian influence and uncommon dishes like puried spinach with potato chunks in it looked absolutely revolting. Presentation of the food was lacking as well as icing and cleanliness. No straws available. Drinks limited to milk, water and tea. Every time they refilled the tea dispenser, it would be under a new button so you got water sometimes, tea the next when you wanted water. Crew very rude. Glasses were 8 oz so you were always running to refill. I was very disappointed in the food--as were many others. I have never seen so many people eat salad and hamburgers so much in my life. The pizza wasn't good either. We ate in the Four Seasons and our waiter wanted us to hurry up and order. The food was OK, not good or great. We then went to the Seven Seas. Food was a little better as well service but felt we were an inconvenience to the servers. I am easy to please but found most food not worth eating. The steak and fries was tasty. Fries were served day and night---never had a baked potato. Never asked for seconds. Other posters said portions were small--very true. Appetizers were good, especially the portabella mushroom with goat cheese. When you ordered several, the server would give you a disapproving look. Just not fun or satisfying. We never did eat at one of the 7 fee based restaurants. I figured if they couldn't get the free food to be good, why should I pay for the same or just a bit better. Did not go to the chocolate buffet for same reason. In fact, when the servers were advertising it, not many patrons seemed interested. We just figured it was a waste of time when the desserts served in the restaurant were not worth eating. Like us, all of the folks we saw ordered ice cream for dessert. We never heard anyone bragging about the chocolate buffet the next day, so we figured we were right. We ordered room service one night. It didn't take that long but we didn't get what was listed on the menu either. As described in the menu, there was no pickle, no slaw with the sandwiches. The hotdog didn't have the carrot sticks or mustard. The bread was old so I ate the hot dog plain with no bun or condiment. Seven days with 3 sea days is a long time to be on a ship with average to below average food.
Ports: We didn't get off the ship at our first stop in the Bahamas. We have visited the Bahamas many times before and since it was our real first day on the cruise, we decided to chill out and rest.
St Thomas: We took a taxi to Magen's Bay. Their taxis consist of a pick up truck with open air seating benches in the back. That was fine, but the roads are very winding and narrow. So we got a roller coaster ride to the beach. Magen's Bay charges $4 entrance fee. Has covered picnic area and then some picnic tables. No chaise lounges or umbrellas to rent. IT was crowded but very beautiful. The ship was docked. Glad we did shopping before our beach trip.
St Martens: Arranged our own tour with Bernard's tour on the internet. IT was great. The "MAILMAN" was our guide and just a fun informative and caring guide. He had cold sodas, water, rum punch for us all day. The van was air-conditioned. He used a microphone to narrate the trip. We went completely around the island from one country to the next and back again. We stopped for some photos, and then for two hours at Orient Beach. We rented two chairs and umbrellas with a rum drink for $15. Orient Beach is an experience to say the least. The water was beautiful and we had a good time. He made a stop for a man to take creatures from the water and tell us about them. Then we made a quick stop at Maho beach and the airport to experience the planes as they land. Wish we could have stayed longer, but had to leave. The mailman had word there was a wreck which backed up traffic and he wanted to make sure we got back to the boat. WE did and had a wonderful day. I highly recommend Bernard's Tours. Several people from our ship were on the tour and had a great time.
The ship was docked a long with 5 other ships that day.
All in all, we had a good time, but not a super time as we have in Spring breaks past on other lines. I was not impressed at all with NCL. In fact, it was very underwhelmed and glad to get off the ship.
Carnival, RCI and NCL are all about the same price but there is a huge difference in the experience. Have a good time--don't go on NCL. Less