After quite a few years of meaning to do a cruise, we finally got around to it, and why did we wait so long?
I was at a conference in Orlando in January, and the wife and I hopped on the Norweigan Sun for a 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise. Being first time cruisers we were a little unsure about some of the negative reviews in some forums, but being an active member on TripAdvisor I knew not to get too spooked.
What a great experience we had! From the start, the embarkation was efficient and went pretty quickly. There were people stationed along the way, and it was very clear how the process was working and the staff were friendly and helpful. I think it was less than 30 mins from when we dropped off our bags until we were on board the ship. What a feeling to be up on the Observation deck watching the port activity! Had lunch at the Garden Cafe at the rear, very pleasant. It was a limited buffet, but something for pretty much most people and it had a good ambience with a buzz from everyone ready to go cruising.
We chose Norwegian primarily for the Freestyle aspect in terms of wanting to relax, go with the flow and do what we wanted when we wanted and for us, it worked exceptionally well. We really liked the dining choices, with excellent food in the main dining rooms and the specialty restaurants. The sports bar food was a little disappointing, but that was the only negative. The Garden Cafe buffet was a buffet, but the quality of the food was good (especially the fruit) and there was a lot of variety in the hot section. We didn't eat dinner there, but lunch and sometimes breakfast. We really enjoyed the Moderno Cafe for breakfast with their neat breakfast pizzas, and their sandwich and salad bar for lunch was good too. The pool section was really good, they had a reggae band there most days which really added to the mood of the place. We really enjoyed the Champs bar on the 12deck where you could get a good spot to enjoy and pop down for a swim! The bar staff were excellent and got to know us and our preferences, i particularly developed a taste for a drink called Dark & Stormy. I thought the bar prices were pretty reasonable in all.
Our cabin was all that we wanted. Yes they are cosy, but with the balcony it didn't feel too cramped and we had plenty of natural light. We rally enjoyed using the balcony too, to read or simply sit back and relax.
We did a couple of shore excursions, (Grand Cayman and Jamaica) to see the scenery and they were well run and enjoyable. Plenty of time in port to do the trips and shop for gifts etc. The briefing sessions run beforehand were a good idea and helped to know what to expect.
It all went too quickly and we had to leave. The disembarkation process went pretty smoothly really. We chose the self walk off option and given the number of people getting off the ship it was fine.
Overall, a great experience, I felt the cruise was particularly good value for money and we will definitely be going again, and probably with Norwegian as they were excellent. The Sun was a good sized ship for a first time cruise, and we had a good balance between space, and not getting lost. The Casino was good to me as well, so that helped :-). Next time we will try one of the bigger ships to check that out, and then take it from there. Been home 2 weeks, and thinking of our next cruise already, we are hooked!