To give a little background, I set up a family trip for 9, My family with 3 kids 16,13,8 and 2 SIL and Mother and Father in Law, 3 cabins in a row Deck 10 0049, 0050 and 0051. We live in Upstate NY and left on 2/16 to arrive in Port Canaveral on Friday 2/18.
First piece of advice - stay in Port Canaveral - great hotels and stay at the Radisson, for 1 night AND CRUISE PARKING was $160 for the night. Shuttle service was awesome, left hotel at 11:30 ON THE SHIP AND AT LUNCH AT 12:45. Yes, 1:15 for check in, pictures, drop luggage, etc. etc. and had drink in hand in 12:45.
Lunch - Four Seasons is open for lunch on Embarkation, MDR to the left as you enter Deck 5 atrium, just wander left and it is there, also lunch on Pool and Garden Cafe.
Cabins ready at 1:45, couldn't have been any easier. Cabins 0049 - 0051 are Balcony on Deck 10 Aft. Great point of ship as stairs are down hall to Pool, Sports Bar, Great Outdoors, Pool, within 5 minutes of exiting cabin. Cabins had great storage, bathroom was small needing updates and Balcony was worth it. Had My wife and I and our 8 year old daughter on the pull out coach. I slept on the coach one night -very comfortable as well as the King bed.
Dailies - I have them all and will be posting as PDF shortly.
Dinners - At at 4 Seasons, 7 Seas, Sports Bar, Il Daigo and East Meets West. 4 Seasons was good for MDR, 7 Seas service lacking, Sports Bar excellent, Il Daigo and East EXCELLENT. For $10 you must eat at Il Daigo if for no other reason, the room its in, the tables and the view, what a view, you must see to believe, plus food was excellent. You don't have to be there at 4:45 as the doors open, loved this all week. The parade of battery scooters was riot to watch as they waited in line for dinner. Even with a party of 9 - we were sat within 5 minutes of arriving any where for any meal.
Service - Room Steward Herbert, excellent. Bar staff, excellent, MDR staff good, but seemed stressed or thin in #'s, food presented nicely and in good taste.
Ports of Call -
Cozumel - did the NCl excursion to Tulum, Mayan Ruins - can't say enough the pictures don't do it justice. Great day no issues tour guides very good. Small shopping point mid morning, bring WATER, it is real hot and humid, not to mention, the entire week not cloud was in the sky, mid 80's 70% humidity and the SUN. Did not get any time in Cozumel as we arrived right at last call on ferry.
Grand Cayman - went off land and went diving at Eden Rock. 5 minutes from cruise terminal and the cheapest snorkeling you can find with great equipment. $18 USD per person for all, mask, vest, fins, snorkel and the water as blue and clear as you see. Spent 2 hours doing this and then shopped and found ice cream.
Ochos Rios - Did the Mystic Mountain Jamaican Bobsled and Dunns River Falls, this is a self directed excursion, let me explain. You board the shuttle bus for the 5 minute trip to Mystic Mountain. You get your band, and then they place you in line and up the mountain you go on the ski lift. What a trip, the views etc are breath taking. You get up the top and then you decide your timing, shop, watch the dancers, take a swim (the Infinity pool and water slide are great fun and the views for a family picture), ride the ride. When you have had enough of the mountain, back down you go to the parking lot, for the ride to DRF, another 5 minutes. You get placed in a group, given the warnings on the people hawking merchandise and in you go. Climb the falls, takes and hour or so, fight your way out the shops and back to the van and back to the ship. It is on your schedule!!!! - You have all the time to do what you want, just be back by 6:30 pm.
Sea Day - I must add this in as what a day it was. Our oldest turned 16 on this day. We had told NCL of her Sweet 16 prior to boarding and had a card for her cake. We had already made reservations at East Meets West and would be there around 7:15. She had a tiara, button etc announcing her B'Day. What was fun was how the staff interacted with her. They all had a great time, our Cabin Steward built the largest towel animal, it was 5 feet of a person sitting in the bathroom, I will post a picture. it scared the you know what out of my sister in law, as it was dressed in my daughters sun glasses, sneakers, her tank top, baseball hat. Had its legs crossed. The dinner was quality wise exceptional and the service was as well. We had met the Captain and Executive Crew in a private meeting on Sun as we set sail, each one of them saw her on her birthday and commented on it. She has a picture with the Captain that she loves.
One area of improvement - Pictures - not the fact you get them, but the lack of ease of ordering. In the digital age we are in, why there isn't booths to view the photos on a screen is beyond me. The fact they PRINT, thousands of photos for the hope of being bought is insane in this day and age. At Disney ,we have a card that we hand over to every photographer to store all the photos in 1 account and then view nightly. I believe they have something like this on the other NCl ships. But to charge $20 a 8x10 and $14 for a 4x8 is nuts. Not to mention the area of the ship it's in and quick response of the staff. The take pictures in the day and sell at night, got it, understand. But, it has to be done in some better fashion. This needs to be addressed.
Kids Club - I must talk about the Kids Club and Teen Club. Both are OUTSTANDING - period, enough said. Our 8 year old LIVED in the kids club, not my choice hers. Nightly 7 - 10 and then sea days 9 - 12 then 7 - 10. The staff is to be highlighted and applauded for what they do and how they do it. Numbers, Marbles, Booger, we thank you for all you did, the is from Meghan with the crazy H
Teen Club - you should feel good if your kids go, the party's, room, freedom, is something they didn't get a home and loved, and we felt the fact we could find them easily a nice feature.
Debarkation - we walked off the ship with our luggage and were in our car going home at 9:17 AM
Overall - Great Cruise, are we planning another yes, when 2014 for Europe. My In laws have their 50th wedding anniversary and this is there dream trip. We have done Holland, and Celebrity and love them, but the kids CAN't do that type of cruise, I am not sure I can now either. The Freestyle concept has draw backs but also pluses that can't be equaled in the industry now. We told her, she picks the run, we pick the ship. The NCL Sun while being older, 10 years, and in need of some general love, this happens in 2013, was a great ship, great staff and great experience. We will be on whatever ship NCL has there or Epic in Europe and see how it goes.