Embarkation at Port Canaveral-excellent. Very simple, easy and quick. We carried on our luggage, arrived around 11 am and were on within 20 mins. Once onboard, there was a bit more chaos-the gangplank put you on the ship on deck 6, directly into the second floor of the atrium (which is very small and it is not that easy to figure out where to go). There were lots of people congregating and a few staff trying to point people to the buffet. We asked which dining room was open for lunch, and we were told Seven Seas (in the back of the ship) would be open, but not until 12:30. Great. So we sat on the ground outside on deck 6 (on the other side of the ship from where people were getting on) and waited.. (*why no tables and chairs on the Promenade deck, NCL?? More complaints on this later...)
The room-better than I expected. We booked an Oceanview with a porthole on deck 4 (#4025). This was the lowest level room we've ever been in, and with the porthole I was expecting the small porthole and a small-ish room (though I know from reviews that the rooms on the Sun are larger than usual). However, when we entered our cabins, around 1:30 (earlier than the originally announced 2pm)- I was pleasantly surprised. The porthole was huge, about the same size as the real windows we were used to-YAY! And the room was good size, though the sofa and coffee table took up a lot of room (as we didnt need the extra sleeping quarters). Tons of storage space, and a normal sized (for a cruise ship) fridge, though it takes a while to cool items down...The bathroom was a little different than I am used to. With a round shower with just a curtain and a very large vanity, with plenty of storage, and a toilet in the middle. The shower should really have a door, as every night we ended up with large puddles in the bathroom (I can only assume they came from the shower, where else?)-this wasnt fun for me and my pregnant bladder that calls for multiple middle of the night bathroom trips...resulting in cold and wet feet in the dark. When we entered the room, there was one issue-one of the drawers was in pieces on the floor. Fortunately, this was fixed within a few hours. Our TV was a new flat screen, though it was small and did not have good picture quality at all. Finally, our remote went missing on day 2 (after our steward had rearranged the beds for us) and despite multiple calls to Guest Services, it took more than 2 days to get it back. Not the end of the world, but a bit of a nuisance, and a bit strange.
The ship-smaller but tons of space, nicely appointed and in good shape. We enjoyed the Sun, there seemed to be tons of extra space, even though this is a "smaller" ship. I guess it is because the top decks arent taken up by Villas, etc? The pool area was large and offered plenty of lounge and table seating. The buffet was a madhouse, small and poorly set up. The Great Outdoors (at the rear of the buffet) was a great alternative to the buffet-skip the buffet (if you can walk through it!) and go all the way back-they serve food there too! Also a GREAT spot to sit and relax, people watch or sight-see. The Observation Lounge on Deck 12 FWD was a gorgeous spot, a hidden gem that is terribly under-utilized. If our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet hadnt been there-I wouldnt have known it existed! Check it out, even though there is never anything going on there. The carpets throughout the ship looked new-they must have been replaced in the Jan dry-dock. Dazzles is a great spot, though its placement makes it a constant pass-through which can be distracting. This leads to my three main complaints about the ship-where are the hallways?? You constantly have to walk through venues (Dazzles, Photo Gallery, Casino, Restaurants, etc) to get where you want to go. Some planning, creating hallways on either one or both sides of the ships, would have been appreciated...but what can you do now, eh? Also, the Promenade deck (deck 6 on this ship-they use it as the jogging/walking track, grr) has always been my favorite chillax place to sit in the shade and watch the ocean flow by. But there are no tables and chairs on this deck on the Sun, which really disappointed me. We found ourselves sitting on the ground just so I could enjoy some time there. I know they want to use it as the Sports deck, but there is DEFINITELY room for some tables and chairs as well. Other folks used this deck for smoking, but they all had to stand. I cant help but think a few drinks placed on the railing were lost at one point or another-which would have been prevented by the placement of tables and chairs. Ok rant about this is over..Finally, my last complaint is the crowding of the atrium with double elevators, then having an additional elevator bay just a few feet off the atrium. Now, I get that more is better, but this is a little ridiculous. The atrium is far too cramped with both bays. The bay on the aft end of the atrium is really all they need, and that would allow for more space in the atrium. Again, not much they can do about this now, though. *Sigh*
The food-good, but not great. My biggest issues were with service timing, no Blue Lagoon and limited buffet options. I'll start with no Blue Lagoon-yes, I know they have the Sports Bar from 5:30pm-5:30am-BUT Blue Lagoon was my savior for the afternoon munchies, on a cruise I ALWAYS seem to get hungry around 2-3-4 in the afternoon. On the Sun, your only options are Room Service (good, but limited selection and slow...45 mins+) and the Great Outdoors (good, but again extremely limited selection-only burgers, dogs and cold cut sandwiches). So with no Blue Lagoon I was often left starving and then of course we would need to eat dinner as soon as we could, which meant we were off to Four Seasons, which opened at 5:30pm. I dont typically get hungry again after dinner, so we only enjoyed the fares at the Sports Bar a few times-and those were really me forcing myself to go because I missed the Spinach and Artichoke dip, the chicken fingers and the chicken sandwiches! I need the 24/7 Blue Lagoon-this will factor strongly in my next cruise choice. Next, the slow service issues. Dinner in the MDR's were almost always painfully slow. I joked that we should have brought a book or the laptop-but it was that bad. I am not sure if it was just us, but I dont think so. I saw many others twiddling their thumbs too! The servers were always polite and provided friendly service, but it was far too slow for me. Finally, the buffet on the Sun is surprisingly small (only one side of the ship vs both as on the other ships I've been on) and very limited options. Most of the food space is taken up by cold cuts, fruits and salad options. Only a very, very small area was the hot foods (usually Indian food-which I LOVE! fortunately...) unless you went outside for burgers and dogs. It is usually a madhouse (as others have said, though I didnt believe it would be that bad...well, it was ) We didnt visit any of the specialty restaurants, just Sports Bar, MDR, Buffet and Las Ramblas-which is poorly used in my opinion. The "tapas" were olives, slices of deli meat and some cheese. Not what I expected, as we have an excellent Tapas restaurant here at home and it has all sorts of great, HOT dishes! They need to do something else with this nice atmosphere restaurant. Even chips and salsa would have improved it for us. One visit was it for us...
The staff-very friendly, but a little unorganized (perhaps because this was only the second cruise on this new run?). Our Cruise Director, Pedro, was friendly and fun, though I hear that once is enough to have him on your cruise, after that his jokes are old and his humor is tiring. I thought he was fine, but certainly not at all memorable. The dining room staff was always pleasant, our steward was friendly and helpful, though not as easy to find as our stewards on previous cruises. The cruise director's staff was friendly and tried to make us excited about Bingo and Instant Wins, but kind of fell short. Not sure if it was them or the crowd...
The entertainment-started out good, but..... The shows started out good, but things went downhill somehow on the second half of the trip. The first show was the standard Welcome Aboard show, which had the usual songs and dances, but also had a bit by the Comedian-who we enjoyed thoroughly. The two female singers are both very talented, and very nice to look at. The two males left something to be desired... The dancers were good, not the best I've seen, but certainly not the worst. Day 2 brought Encore, again the same songs and dances we've seen almost every cruise (songs from various broadway shows). Good time, though I would have liked to see something new. Day 3 brought Elvy Rose, a boisterous female singer/dancer who was entertaining, but once is enough for me. Day 4 was Shout and Late Night comedy-both shows I was REALLY looking forward to. However, my stomach had other plans. I was sick from sun up to sun down. Not sure why-then I was fine the rest of the trip. Day 5 was an action comedian (juggler) who was entertaining, but once you've seen one juggler, you've seen them all in my opinion. Again, once was enough for me. Day 6 was We Will Rock you-again the same songs and dances I've seen almost every cruise, rock music and dances. Entertaining, but still would have liked to see something new. Also, earlier in the day was the crew show-the crew who performed were talented and tried their hardest, but there were issues with sound and timing, and it was a little painful to watch at times. I felt bad for some, and was ready for others to be over, unfortunately. Seemed that there was no one really in charge, organizing who was doing what and when. Perhaps this was because of the new run/new crew? Day 7 brought an encore combination performance by Elvy Rose and Scotty Cavanaugh, the juggler. I really didnt want to go (and I wish I hadnt) but my hubby wanted to go....Like I said before, the first showing for these two was more than enough for me...
The ship had other activities throughout the day-Trivia, Arts and Crafts, Seminars, Dancing classes, etc. The Arts and Crafts were really fun-we got to take home a nice picture frame and a journal. I hear there was also a little keepsake box that we missed. Also, FYI for anyone who likes to spend a little time playing games (hubby and I like to play Scrabble on vacation...) the games are in the Library on Deck 6, all the way in the back of the Library is a little room with tables. No longer in the Lifestyles room (which is now a store) or the card room (which is now an art gallery).
The itinerary-alright for some, I wouldnt do it again. I prefer sea days at the beginning and end, as a wind-up and wind-down, but this itinerary was a bit jumbled. First we visited Cozumel, it was rainy in the AM, then hot and humid throughout the rest of the day. We explored the shops a bit, but then couldnt wait to get back on into the A/C. Next stop was supposed to be a tender in Grand Cayman, but the Captain canceled that because of rough weather. That was the day I was sick all day, so I didnt mind much Next stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica-a jungle environment, far too hot and humid for exploring. I wish we had booked an excursion, but we didnt do well with the planning on this one. We got off, then got right back on the ship. Oh well. Final stop was Great Stirrup Cay, which would have been an EXCELLENT day, had it not been downright chilly and the buffet not inundated with flies! We enjoyed the fairly rough surf for a while and explored the island a bit, but we were cold and wished the sun had poked out before we were setting sail from the island!! I would look forward to visiting this island again, next time hopefully with more sun, warmer weather, and something to stop the incessant flies surrounding the buffet (this really put many off their appetites).
Debarkation-a bit of a mess. FYI-Dont book a flight before noon when sailing out of Port Canaveral! Customs took forever to clear us. Some people missed their flights, though since we had booked ours for 12:35, we were ok and made it with about 30 mins to spare. Keep this in mind, as I hear the week before us they didnt let people off till 10. We got off around 9:35.
Overall-I enjoyed the ship, but wouldnt travel so far (we are in MA) to sail her again. And I wouldnt do the Western Caribbean again. I prefer ports where there is a beach or something else to do within walking distance (and where it is SAFE to do so).