20 Houston to Caribbean - Western Norwegian Sun Cruise Reviews

My wife and I took our honeymoon cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Sun. This was my 3rd cruise, but first one on Norwegian. It sailed out of port near Houston. I had hurt my back so we were able to use the handicapped line. From what we ... Read More
My wife and I took our honeymoon cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Sun. This was my 3rd cruise, but first one on Norwegian. It sailed out of port near Houston. I had hurt my back so we were able to use the handicapped line. From what we could tell, there was a massive line for boarding that looked like it may have taken hours. As it was, we were able to check in fairly painlessly. We had an inside cabin on one of the highest decks. I didn't know how I would like this, because I had always had window rooms, but we loved it. We're big nappers, so we loved that it was completely dark in our room. Also, for the price, it can't be beat. The room was small, but perfectly big enough for 2 people who had a lot of luggage. We liked that the suitcase fit under the bed. Truth is, we had too much storage space and not enough stuff to put into it. Our room steward, Malena, was great. We saw her in the hallway from time to time, and always managed to tell her hi. She always had our room cleaned. We didn't need to ask her for anything, because she was that good. I especially loved freestyle dining. It was nice to just be able to sit at a table for 2 with my new wife. Our service was always good, and the food was great. We didn't go into this expecting gourmet food, but it was still nicer than we normally ate at home. I think our laid back attitude made the trip better. I don't think we ever complained about anything. We ate at Le Bistro one night, which was nice and fun. It really felt like we were at a fancy restaurant on a date. We also ate at East Meets West on the last nite, and had an amazing steak. Other than that, we ate in the main dining rooms for every meal. I don't think we saw a single show, because we were just so tired by the end of the night. But the few that we were started were very boring, so we decided to leave. There are many opportunities to take photos around the ship, which we did every night, with the theory that the more photos we take, the better chance we have of finding one we really like. There is a bar on the front of the ship with wrap around windows that we sat in a few times and played cards. It was very peaceful in this room, and the sunset at sea was amazing. We went to the pool a few times, and found it to be a really enjoyable atmosphere. Very relaxing. Almost too relaxing. Our first stop was Cozumel. We went to Playa Mia Beach Club, which was nice. They had a buffet and unlimited drinks. We sat on the beach and just enjoyed our time there. Next was Belize. We went on a tour of Altun Ha. We liked this too, because we got a good overview of Belize City. My wife had her braided in town. Next was Roatan. This was by far our favorite place. We had brought some stuff on board to bring to an orphanage on Roatan, so we had to get up very early to go through customs with all the stuff. Looking at Roatan at sunrise was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. It made me think of what Southeast Asia would look like, maybe some hidden Chinese port. Visiting with the children was amazing. Our driver took us to Half Moon Bay. We ate and snorkeled. This was our first time to snorkel, and discovering a whole new world under the sea was incredible. We also enjoyed the people and crafts. Didn't want to leave this port. Disembarkation was a breeze. We ate a leisurely breakfast, then just walked off the ship to our car. Great cruise, and great ship. The Sun will always hold a special place in our heart! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
We sailed the Sun out of Houston from 12/29 thru 1/8, traveling with 4 in a cabin (2 adults, 2 children). We had an excellent time on the Sun. The weather was excellent and the seas were smooth. Except for the 2nd to last evening we hit ... Read More
We sailed the Sun out of Houston from 12/29 thru 1/8, traveling with 4 in a cabin (2 adults, 2 children). We had an excellent time on the Sun. The weather was excellent and the seas were smooth. Except for the 2nd to last evening we hit extremely rough seas, 20  25 ft waves. Many people including my wife were sick. We were in a forward cabin so we had quite a ride. Equivalent to sleeping on a roller coaster! Our itinerary was as follows: Embarkation, at sea, at sea, Great Stirrup Cay, Montego Bay Jamaica, at sea, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, at sea, Disembarkation. Embarkation was a breeze! Never had it this easy getting on a ship. We arrived around noon and was on the ship in less than 5 minutes. This is the first time weve actually checked-in on the ship (as opposed to the port). The Stardust Lounge was set up as the check-in area. We had a great time at all ports with Montego Bay being our favorite. We choose to do our own thing and went to the Sunset Beach Resort. We paid for a day pass which included all food and drinks. They had several pools and water slides for the kids, plus paddle boats and kayaks. A quick $2 taxi ride from the pier and we were there! In Grand Cayman we booked Stingray City with Captain Bryan. It was great. I recommend this excursion due to the fact that we were on a catamaran with only 35 people total. There were other boats there that had literally 100s of people on board. This is our 5th cruise on NCL and our 3rd since Freestyle. We really enjoy the freestyle concept and honestly cant imagine going back to assigned seating. We never had any trouble getting a table and in fact we were always immediately sat. This could be because we dine early in order to get the kids to Kids Club by 7:00pm. Dining room food was very good and certainly much better in preparation and presentation than we are accustomed to eating. For those of you with young children and jam packed schedules, you know what I mean! The Sports Bar after 3:00pm offers an excellent pub menu. The burgers and pizza are much better here than at the buffet. Although I can honestly say that everything I ate off the buffet was good. Except for the scrambled eggs! This I believe is a problem on most every buffet. Go for the omelets! We dined in 3 of the specialty restaurants and had excellent meals each time. The kids really enjoyed the Tepanyaki room. Disembarking was equally as easy, except for the part of finding your luggage and getting through the crowd once of the ship. This was an excellent vacation and we would not hesitate and to sail the Sun or NCL again. Oh yeah........I almost forgot. On New Year's Eve day we rescued 2 refugees off the coast of Cuba, on a makeshift raft. A lifeboat crew was sent out and it was determined that one of them needed medical attention. They brought them aboard and we had to wait for a Coast Guard cutter to come and pick them up. It was all handled very well by the Captain and crew. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Staff friendly and helpful. . . for the most part. However, no dependable information available in ports for handicapped. I happen to be in a power wheelchair. Over and over again I was given inaccurate information about tendering and ... Read More
Staff friendly and helpful. . . for the most part. However, no dependable information available in ports for handicapped. I happen to be in a power wheelchair. Over and over again I was given inaccurate information about tendering and sites by the staff. Also, there is a 4 inch lip from the outer decks to the inside of the ship and my power chair will NOT climb it. Had to go to the outer deck for lifeboat drill and had to have 4 customers help me get my chair back inside. Could not visit the pool area or be part of the sailing away barbecues because of this. At one point, looking for a safe way to go out on the outer deck I fell out of my power chair trying to come back in because it's just not doable. And, I spent the next days in bed in pain. Spoke to the safety director on board who did not seem the least bit caring about the issues. Handicapped folks on our ship were scared at times as we were easily boarded on the 2nd floor of a tender boat only to discover that we'd have to go downstairs (or be carried) and then up 3 stairs to the pier at Grand Cayman. Folks in wheelchairs can be carried downstairs by 4 crew members but it is VERY scary for the customers. And, in my case I walked down the steps and back up to the pier and they carried my power wheelchair. I'd of gladly stayed behind on board the ship had I been told of the inconvenience and lack of ADA safe disembarking from tender boats. In addition, I worried the entire time I was in Grand Cayman about how I was going to handle walking up those same steps I had walked down. I cannot pull my weight up the steps because of a bad back which is why I am in the wheelchair to begin with. If I could NOT have walked at all I would have NOT had a good time. I found the boat to be DEAD when we were in port. The shops, casino, and other stops of interest were closed while we were in port. The ship was like a ghost ship in port. The staff of the NCL Sun was friendly and the disembarking staff helped as much as possible. But, it would have been better if we could have just been told exactly what to expect. We were not. I found my bed in my handicapped inside room to be adequate and comfortable. The room was plenty large enough. All of the rooms did have a smell that was NOT really all that pleasant and did NOT shout CLEAN to me but it was not anything I could actually "see". The restaurants served up fine fare however, we quickly discovered we did NOT like freestyle dining. The NCL staff did give us assigned seating and times and our assigned wait staff was excellent at that point. Prior to that we found the service to be lacking. Our table would fill with dishes and the response to our needs was lacking. We felt it was because the tip was included and they'd get the tip one way or the other. But, when they assigned us wait staff I know they gave us their best staff in the Four Seasons Restaurant. We could not have asked for better than Ben and Arsenio. They were awesome and kept our son occupied with magic and napkin folding. They were great. Our team that cleaned our room was great as well. Ana Maria was sweet and helpful and would hold the door open for me when I'd return to my room. When I got very ill with 107 degree fever due to cellulitis she visited me several times and checked to be sure I was okay and to see if I needed anything extra. She was awesome. But, the issues with the handicap accessibility was like a sore thumb that put a black cloud over our experiences. At first I was told that the tables were too close together so I'd have to get up out of my chair to walk to my table to eat. On some days that was acceptable but on others it was not. And, it made my family angry. And, one day I was told that my power chair that was left where they told me to leave it was in the way! I felt like a second class citizen all the way around because of these things. I think in this day and age there is no excuse that the ships are NOT ADA compliant. I can understand some of the countries not being compliant. I can even understand some of the tenders not being compliant. But, good honest communication with the handicapped was imperative and it was sorely lacking. Thanks, higkp@satx.rr.com Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This is our fourth cruise. First on NCL. The embarkation process went extremely smoothly. From the time our bus arrived at the Houston Port until the time we were in our cabin was about 10 minutes. We arrived at noon hour and had time for ... Read More
This is our fourth cruise. First on NCL. The embarkation process went extremely smoothly. From the time our bus arrived at the Houston Port until the time we were in our cabin was about 10 minutes. We arrived at noon hour and had time for a quick nap. The ship and cabin were in spotless condition. Overall the decor is a little subdued but very functional. The only comment about the food on day one. They advertise an early meal deal for all the speciality restaurants we chose "East meets West" sat in the steak side and then politely told that the special does not include lobster, nor does it include porterhouse and excluded about 1/2 the menu. When it was all said and done the special was not worth it. The only other comment was that on Princess which has speciality restaurants as well. When you are sitting across from your significant other there is nothing more romantic than a basketball hitting the window over your table. This does not happen on Princess. First port stop was Cozumel. The damage there was unbelievable. The people of the this island need the tourists. This is their primary income. So take time to do some shopping and diving. You will feel good. Tendering here took a while but I will address that on the second port. This is our fifth time down to this Island. It will take time for all the repairs to be done. The next port was Belize and this is where we found out if you are not a VIP card carrying passenger or you have not purchased a Ship sponsored tour you will wait, then wait some more then wait additional time all the while you see tenders coming and going and nobody on the ship will tell you when you will be called. Two hours after dropping anchor they called tickets 1-100. We were 121 & 122 another 1/2 hour later and we were on our way. The tender organization was a bit disappointing. All I can say is, if you have plans then be at the champagne bar @ 08:00 to get your tickets early. Our tour planned with http://www.cave-tubing.com/ stayed at the pier waiting for us beyond the agreed upon time. They knew what was up -- the bonus was that when we arrived the tour left right away. This was our highlight of the cruise. These guys looked after us from start to finish. If you want to see more of belize than just the city then this is the tour for you. Third port is Roatan, Honduras. What a beautiful island. You need to take a taxi from the pier to West Island beach. If you a not in the first wave you can get outside the pier area and walk into town. Do some souvenir shopping and sip a cold one. Then the hubbub will have died down and you get a taxi to the west end for 20-30 USD both ways rather than $25 per person one way. The drivers are aggressive and you need to walk away from more than one to get a fair deal. Rest assured the locals say when the cruise ship is not in town the same trip is $5.00 USD Roatan is tied to pier so no line up for tendering. We ate in Le Bistro on one of the at sea days back to Houston. The service and the food were first rate. The chocolate fondue is decadent. Wine prices in the restaurants were reasonable a bottle of Wolf Blass yellow label was $28.00 USD. Pretty much what we would pay in local restaurant. Good: The ship is newer and it shows. The pools and the hot tubs all were clean and in good condition. The exercise/cardio room was well equipped. The outdoor basketball court and volleyball is excellent, except for Diners at restaurant. Embarkation and Disembarkation. Bad: The price of drinks $6 - $9 for most drinks. Do not drink the sangria in Tapas. It is expensive and a cheap imitation. Internet prices .75 per minute with plans that could reduce your charges down to .50 per minute. This is three times what we paid for on Princess. consequence on Princes you sometimes waited 10 - 15 minutes to access a terminal not on the Sun normally only 1-2 stations are busy out of 14. Better off waiting to port when you can get internet at each place for less than $2.00 per hour. Ugly: Tendering. If you are booking a tour on your own do not plan on being on the pier for 2 hours post arrival. Unless you are paying for suites or ship tours you will not be on shore anywhere close to the arrival time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Just sailed on the NCL Sun 10 day New Year Cruise. Here some general insights that fit well with other posts on this board. Did walk on 2 of my own bottles of vintage wine and 2 bottles of champagne. The Xray machine sniffed it out and ... Read More
Just sailed on the NCL Sun 10 day New Year Cruise. Here some general insights that fit well with other posts on this board. Did walk on 2 of my own bottles of vintage wine and 2 bottles of champagne. The Xray machine sniffed it out and I was charged US$ 15 per and given a slip to present when opening at any of the dining rooms. Noticed in the bin (past Xray)that hard booze was being confiscated for the whole cruise to be returned on last day in Tech Style Room. FYI Regardless of where we consumed it you still pay. I also smuggled a bottle in our packed luggage, that one got past the dogs and was toll free. So moral of the story you want drink in room, try smuggling it in; you drinking it in public areas, just pay. Pay restaurants are in fact half price first night. Regular prices as follows: le Bistrot $15, Il Adagio 12.50 East meets West $20 not $15 as in NCL Web Site and Ginza can't remember....thinking $15. The supposed all you can eat at the Sushi Bar for $10 is a farce. It doesn't not include any Sashimi (straight Raw fish)or Nigiri Sushi (raw fish on rice). It only includes Maki Sushi (rolls). New insight not seen in any of my research. Video Arcade on first day from 5:45 to 6:30 pm is supposedly free play. Once my kids hunted someone down past 6 pm, the person just put a bunch of credits in some of the machines (not all) and left. So it was 6 pm until all the credits were gone. 15 minutes in our case. The two formal nights are the nights to avoid the pay dining rooms in my opinion. Free dining in Four Seasons and Seven Seas were very good both these nights. (Ie Lobster and Filet). So I think it's not worth it to pay up on the formal nights. NCL tendering process is horrible. Stood in line for Grand Cayman tender tickets for 2 hours and nobody there organizing or telling you where you stand in line, worked out ok. The situation came to a head when they handed tickets out for Cozumel. No line management, literally hundreds of people clambering around. Passengers getting very agitated, telling other people off. It was a near riot (not joking). NCL hands out tender to control flow at the gangway calling ticket numbers out as they want people to come down to the gangway. There reasoning is for passengers safety. That's a bunch of bull after seeing how unprofessional and unorganized they give out tender tickets. Protect yourself or get proactive forming a line down one of the halls and not around the circular atrium. Some general comments and I will leave for now (still foggy from just getting in). Overall a very good cruise, Average to above average food. Poor to Very good entertainment, (very limited in scope.) but bad staff. My complaint is with the employees.. too many seemed to being going through the motions ..no passion about there job. The housekeepers efficient but no extra effort with my kids. The dining room staff are pleasant and cordial but uninformed about there menu or food choices. plus other things like this. I'd ask for a soup as a first an entree as second(instead of a salad) and lastly another entree as my main. Three nights out of 10 they brought me two entrees at the same time. In the Garden Cafe or Great Outdoors Buffet areas tables would sit uncleared for longer than I would deem reasonable. The tendering issue from before with the employee not recognizing the situation and maybe asking who was there first and which way did the line go, but instead just hands out tickets. They have a volleyball tourney at 2:30 the NCL person would show up and deem that there is not enough people to start, so they left; my bro-in-law rounds up 7 other people who doesn't know and they play a little very informal four on four and have a blast. Same thing at the kids club. Very little things like this that either make me a freak or make me sound like a whiner or would drive some people crazy. Notice I still said overall very good. Lastly unlike the non autograt workers the bar wait staff are worse than Jamaicans. Unbelievable and relentless in there badgering while sitting in any public area to see if you wanted bar service. I was interrupted from my book I was reading poolside 9 times in one hour alone (6 by the same waitress) asking if I wanted bar service. You'd think saying NO the first eight times might have been a clue. Another example walking around in the Great Outdoors Cafe looking for chairs and a clean table with three plates in hand and two kids in toe and being harassed for bar service instead of maybe getting some help finding a table or chairs. Greedy Greedy NCL ..more concerned about the Benjamins rather than true customer service, however, all the lines aren't much different in that regard, others are more subtle perhaps or maybe I just noticed more compared to other cruises. That's all for now. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
14 of us went on the Norwegian Sun for the Christmas Cruise. Most of us have cruised at least once before, all Celebrity. We had about 7 children in our party. I'll be as brief as possible. Embarkation and debarkation went super ... Read More
14 of us went on the Norwegian Sun for the Christmas Cruise. Most of us have cruised at least once before, all Celebrity. We had about 7 children in our party. I'll be as brief as possible. Embarkation and debarkation went super smooth with no glitches whatsoever. Port is small and unattractive but efficient. Overall ship: Very clean and still new looking. Weird walking thru nightclubs and restaurants to get from the ends of the ship. Public rooms are nice. The library and game room were used a lot with our kids. The spa was relaxing and convenient (& free!) with both steam room and sauna in the dressing room area. Dining - Our pet peeve. The food at the free venues was better than what we had read in the reviews. We were expecting frozen dinners and low on taste however we were pleasantly surprised. Plus side: breakfast, many of the deserts, most dinner and lunch items, coffees (I'm a coffee lover) and salads. Negative: chocolate recipe needs a lot of work, perhaps higher quality chocolate; needs quicker service at the main dining rooms so we can see the shows on time. Tried the French bistro (fee) and thought it was just a little better than the main dining rooms. Excursions - Did our own. Rained out in Cancun, Belize and Roatan. Beautiful weather in Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios and Nassau. The best port was Grand Cayman: it was warm, beaches were beautiful and the shopping was pleasant, typical tourist stuff. Ocho Rios had a lot of natural beauty just a short trip into the rain forest with beautiful flowers and ferns. Nassau was has nice nearby beaches; we toured the Atlantis Resort and it was worth the entire stop - plan on it. Staterooms - The inside rooms were average size and were always kept clean. Our attendant always had a great attitude. Entertainment - Very good entertainment with a good mix of dance, acting, magic and music. The Peter Pan show was the best of all. Special - My mother enjoyed the religious services scheduled on some mornings. Free Style - Relaxing not to have to dress up. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
The motel in La Port, Texas, was very clean and comfortable and easy to get to and then the trip to the ship in the morning was a pleasant short ride. Embarkation was easy and pleasant but the walk to the ship was a little tiring. For ... Read More
The motel in La Port, Texas, was very clean and comfortable and easy to get to and then the trip to the ship in the morning was a pleasant short ride. Embarkation was easy and pleasant but the walk to the ship was a little tiring. For seven days the ship was clean, the service was excellent, the food was above expected. I did find the service a little less than good at the best restaurants. The waiters are supposed to serve from the left and pick up from the right but their training is less than desirable: it seems like it would be so simple to adhere to etiquette if they were well trained. Perhaps I am looking for perfection - WELL! The kids in the show really were great individually but the theme and the choreographer missed the boat 'if you will pardon the pun'. The shows were a dismal failure and I think they need to think of the audience instead of what they want to present. Overall, it was a very pleasant trip and I would take it again but after my 18 sailings I would want at least 250 sq ft in the room minimum. And don't get on the back of the ship - the soot from the power stacks inundate the back balconies with black gook. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was our third cruise, had previously been on Holland America-mean age 106, Costa-smokers paradise, and now Norwegian Sun. This was the first time we took our 4 children on a cruise and boy did they LOVE it. Such a fabulous kids club ... Read More
This was our third cruise, had previously been on Holland America-mean age 106, Costa-smokers paradise, and now Norwegian Sun. This was the first time we took our 4 children on a cruise and boy did they LOVE it. Such a fabulous kids club that I had to bribe them to get off the boat in Belize! Got their hair braided, even the 9 year old boy- the ladies called him Little White Bow-Wow, and then they begged to go back to the kids club minders. The food was the best of any cruise we have taken, the staff was amazingly friendly and we were all happy given that Norwegian had upgraded our kids to the balcony room adjoining us for no extra fee. We were particularly lucky with our fellow passengers. It was a Zydeco cruise and had the most terrific time meeting very friendly people from Louisiana and Texas. Everyone would just start talking to you, no matter where you were on ship. It felt like one big party all day long. We loved this cruise so much, that we have booked the Sun again, for April 15th for the Western Caribbean, which is our favourite itinerary. The kids are ecstatic and can't wait to get back on board the Sun! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
My wife and I booked this cruise out of New Orleans because it had 4 ports of call and 2 nights on Bourbon St. at the Crown Astor motel. Hurricane Katrina took care of that. we ended up in houston and 3 ports and cancelled the 2 nights ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise out of New Orleans because it had 4 ports of call and 2 nights on Bourbon St. at the Crown Astor motel. Hurricane Katrina took care of that. we ended up in houston and 3 ports and cancelled the 2 nights they wanted us to take in Houston. so they were supposed to give us a 250$ credit on our shipboard account. NCL flatly refused to give us the 250$ credit. After repeated emails and phone calls to online vacation center I have received 1 response. he said he was shuffling it to another department. that was 10 days ago. They have not heard the last of this. After Hurricane Wilma tore up Cozumel NCL cancelled this port with no substitute port. we tried to cancel but ncl was having none of that. The lady I talked to at the travel agency said NCL was trying to find alternate port and would try to make up for lost port [bull!!] they did absolutely nothing! They didn't even open up the bar for an hour or so. too cheap! Embarkation was a breeze the best I've seen. Debarkation was also the best I've seen. Everybody working on the ship was so friendly and helpful. We were on a balcony and it was the only way to go especially stuck with 4 sea days. However the chairs on the balcony sucked! We had to use the pillows from our room to put on the back to be able to sit in it for more than a minute or 2. The food in the main dining rooms was pretty good. The food in the garden cafe was horrible! I remember school lunchrooms being better than that. Drink prices were outrageous. 8 dollars for a drink! I'd order 6 beers and my wife a drink and it would be over 35$ after tip. Needless to say when we finally got to port I got some beer and rum and didn't buy anymore from the ship. In Belize we did the cave tubing tour with Xtreme cave tubing. Our guide Taz was fantastic! We got a tour of Belize City and cave tubing for half the price of ship tours. Also had lunch for 5 dollars at the park. I highly recommend this! In Roatan we hired a tour guide off the internet named Theris Dixon. We did the island tour with her husband Henry. The island is beautiful and Henry was the best. We had lunch at Half Moon Bay and it was by far the best meal of the week. If interested in doing a tour on your own she and her husband are the ones to see. Her email address is therisdixon@yahoo.com or roatancruiseshiptours.com. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Let me end this by saying we will never cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines again. It's back to Carnival for us.  Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This cruise was an enormous disappointment. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and now Norwegian. The Norwegian Sun "freestyle" should be called "pay-style". The only food on the entire ship that was any ... Read More
This cruise was an enormous disappointment. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and now Norwegian. The Norwegian Sun "freestyle" should be called "pay-style". The only food on the entire ship that was any good at all was in the extra charge restaurants. The service in the surcharge restaurants wasn't nearly as good as what I expected. That said, I'll continue. Norwegian Sun out of Houston on November 13th, 2005. Great embarkation and even better disembarkation. Ship was spotless and I appreciated the hand sanitizer placed around the ship. My balcony cabin was clean and the steward did a good job.....but no towel animals. The entire crew didn't do anything but the bare minimum. The atrium was a disappointment. I expected a more spacious and elegant atrium for such a new and large ship. The freestyle restaurants work well in that you are always in a little niche. You never feel crowded since you are dining with a very small number of passengers. BUT the only food on the entire ship that is edible is in the surcharge restaurants. If you can't get a reservation or don't want to pay the surcharge you are doomed to the buffet or the main dining rooms. I am not that picky but I've seen dog food that looked like it would taste better than the slop at the buffet. I ate in the main dining room one night and was served a bowl of fruit cocktail. Yep, right out of the can with a rubbery piece of banana on top and a piece of smoked salmon on plain old white bread smeared with cream cheese. The service in the main dining room was simply the worst I've ever had on or off ship. The staff walked around empty handed and pretended to look busy. Every 5 minutes one would appear with ONE plate for one person and disappear for 5 more minutes. My iced tea was never refilled even after I requested more. Bad food and worse service. All the desserts looked beautiful but not a single one had any flavor. I honestly don't know how they can bake desserts that have no taste at all but they did. The buffet was awful. A blended mess of foods that didn't even blend well together. Reminded me of college cafeteria days but not nearly as good. The only flavor anything had was what the mayonnaise gave it. Everything had mayonnaise for flavor. The Navy beans in the salad were not even cooked. I'm not kidding. Someone just poured dried beans in the salad and sat it on the buffet. My husband and I had looked forward to this cruise and are sad to say it was a disappointment. Old partially finished cocktails sat next to some of the slot machines for two days. Crew seemed tired and not eager to chat or please. The prices for everything seemed higher than any other ship from 10 dollar Bloody Mary's (made with ketchup, not a mix) to pictures. I spent a lot of time in the casino and never talked to anyone that had any luck. It's back to Carnival for us. Carnival has had the best food and service of any of our cruises. I sincerely hope NCL reads this review. They need all the help they can get. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
I was leery to take this cruise for two reasons, one was that most of the reviews were so-so and the other was that the price was incredibly inexpensive. We paid $1509 total (incl. taxes & port) for the two of us for a balcony room, ... Read More
I was leery to take this cruise for two reasons, one was that most of the reviews were so-so and the other was that the price was incredibly inexpensive. We paid $1509 total (incl. taxes & port) for the two of us for a balcony room, and then received $124 shipboard credit. We went ahead with it with minimal expectations, because the price was so good. In the past we have sailed with Princess, Oceana, RCL, and 2 European barge cruises, for comparison. We were thrilled with this cruise, and would recommend this line highly. We absolutely loved the Freestyle dining, as it was so nice to just walk into the dining room and have them seat you at your convenience. We always went for tables for two. We tried all of the specialty restaurants, and especially loved Le Bistro and Il Adagio, they were superb. We had poor service in East meets West Steakhouse. Other than that, the service was excellent in all the restaurants. The cover charges on the specialty restaurants ranged from $10 to $20 per person, but the first two nights of the cruise they were offering half off of the cover charges. The baker on this ship is excellent, as all of the bread was wonderful. They also do really good red meat, and breakfast in the dining room is awesome. A great wine list, but on the first night only a choice between one red or one white and the reasoning was odd - can only sell Texas wines until they are out to sea - and then they brought us a Beringer Merlot (California)! We did not enjoy the chocoholic buffet, as it became an event of gluttony for most in attendance, but that had nothing to do with the ship. We wore resort casual clothes, no formal, and fit in everywhere. Had a wonderful spa by Claire, worth every penny. The internet cafe is quite pricey at 75 cents per minute, so wait til your on shore if you can. The DVD movie rental is $7.95. The stateroom attendants were very unobtrusive, and kept the room well. In Cozumel we ate and drank at an outdoor restaurant, but most people shopped. We were very late getting off ship, but next time would take the ferry to Playa del Carmen. We thoroughly enjoyed Belize, and hired a private guide through Nacho, who we found on other postings on this web site. Nacho sent Timmy and Sonny, and they were great, and made us laugh all day. We went to the caves, the Zoo (awesome), to lunch at a great place, and on a tour. Roatan, Honduras was our favorite port. It is a beautiful island and we will probably return for a longer period. We had hired a private guide here too, Juan Carlos Rodriguez from IslanderTours dot com. He is one of the best guides we've ever had. Professional, polite, interesting. We went to charming West End Village, all around the island, lovely lunch spot, we fed monkeys from our hands, saw several resorts, and our favorite thing - zip lining. Also known as canopy tours, this is so much fun. I was scared at first, but then got more relaxed. It is quite physical and will leave you exhausted but exhilarated. We would recommend this highly. We thought the cruise line entertainment was rather ordinary, and didn't really enjoy it too much. But the featured entertainers were incredible, first class. The embarkation and debarkation process on ship is smooth and simple, we never had a line on either end, and were off the ship by 7:30 a.m. There's not much negative to say about our experience, we were very happy with our trip and would sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Let's say it that way...this was the worst cruise ever for me and my partner! Embarkation was wonderful...walking on the ship...picture and credit card, all together took 10 minutes. Penthouse was dirty with no much space to walk ... Read More
Let's say it that way...this was the worst cruise ever for me and my partner! Embarkation was wonderful...walking on the ship...picture and credit card, all together took 10 minutes. Penthouse was dirty with no much space to walk around the bed. Glass table had prints on...everywhere dust and walls and curtains dirty like there was a frat party in there the night before. The bed lining was cheap polyester/cotton mix and the mattress was through. I was very considerate, since I know embark is very busy, but it was not cleaned the next day and I called the Concierge in. She didn't really care and room was the same condition for a other 24 hours. I sent a mail to NCL Office in Germany where I booked with. Apologies came from Germany, that night we slept on a foam pad on top of mattress, but cabin still looked the same. Even ash tray on Balcony got only emptied once! Butlers have been ok...just too much in a rush! The rest of the ship was not the cleanest either. The chandelier on the way to the Ital. Restaurant was milky of dust! I have never seen a NCL ship in that shape. The food was mediocre...even in pay restaurants, worst was the baked cakes...you couldn't eat them. Maybe you could use them as weapons. The weather could have not been nicer, missed most of the ports due to hurricanes, but who cares not NCL fault!!! Worst crew member was the Concierge! She had attitude and thought she's something better. Job also not well done and gave me a couple of times a NO...can't!!! Excuse me, investigate, before you say NO! It was just for dinner reserves...how easy is that! If I would find her again...I would disembark a ship...she ruined that vacation. Front Office Staff was not the nicest as well on more then one occasion. Couldn't get a printout of my partner's bill...how funny!Concierge was standing beside and said nothing! Really bad!!! Shows have been nice...even if I have to say I got a bad comment from the show group once at deck. Excuse me! I wear Speedos, since I'm from Europe nothing special for me! Something like this should not happen, that they laugh about the Guests. The Guests are the ones who pay their wages! The Spa was excellent and could have not have a better Spa Manager!!! Top notch as well as Maria the hairdresser. Thank you to the Captain and the Chief Engineer, who invited us one night for dinner. It was really nice! Hotel Director seemed as well to be more busy with working on his tan! He really did not went out and about to be friendly. Even went away and let me stand in a hallway. YES they raised the prices for everything, but that was just a matter of time. Would I cruise on NCL again...YES...after so many cruises on all NCL ships and other cruise lines. Booked the Garden Villa for it's Transatlantic on the Jewel. I just hope NCL will take action against their rude and incompetent crew members!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Embarkation was in Houston after the hurricane blew New Orleans off the map. At 11:00am NCL still didn't have a line for Suites and or Latitudes members open, after a few minutes my wife ask a NCL about express line for Suites and ... Read More
Embarkation was in Houston after the hurricane blew New Orleans off the map. At 11:00am NCL still didn't have a line for Suites and or Latitudes members open, after a few minutes my wife ask a NCL about express line for Suites and Latitudes members they quickly moved us into the Library and Game room for our embarkation cards. The library has a number of lite snacks, juice and water for us. In your Penthouse suite they had a large bowl of fruits and flowers waiting for us. Due to Texas laws the bottle of Champagne could not be given to us after we left port. What a shame not to be able to have a toast while we left port. Over all things went very well with the embarkation in Houston, the few minutes waiting was really not a big problem for us, just nice to be rewarded for always sailing in a Penthouse Suite. We have no complaints for the public rooms and/or service while on the ship, our butlers took great care of us for the cruise even setting up a movie night for us with fresh popped popcorn for us. Henry our butler has been the best we have ever had so far on NCL. We once again enjoyed our time sailing with NCL and will return again soon for another great week at sea. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We had great embarkation at the port of Houston. We arrived early at 11:30 and were allowed to start embarkation. We parked the car in the lot right next to the ship...Very convenient!! Freestyle cruising was great. Especially the ... Read More
We had great embarkation at the port of Houston. We arrived early at 11:30 and were allowed to start embarkation. We parked the car in the lot right next to the ship...Very convenient!! Freestyle cruising was great. Especially the debarkation and the meals! We had one rough day at sea. This was because of hurricane Wilma. Unfortunately we missed Cozumel and Cancun due to the the destruction of the Wilma. I found the Norwegian Sun to be a great ship. Very clean! and the staff was friendly and helpful. I enjoyed the meals. We usually ate at the Seven Seas or the Four seasons. We tried the Garden Buffet and the outside cafe...They were both good also. I like the the Seven Seas and the Four Seasons because I like to treat myself on the cruise. We had a great time in Belize. I had booked on-line with Wet and Wild for cave tubing. We found the little building for the company and they had us wait and wait to try to get a group together. WE waited two hours. I finally said lets forget this and try something else. They put us together with another group. We ended up having six in our party. The guide they gave us was great!! He does groups on his own. I have his E-mail and will give it to you if you need it. I recommend this adventure. You are much better off to book this adventure or any other adventure on Belize once you get to the pier. There are tons of offers and they are a lot cheaper than the cruise line. The legitimate tour guides are in the secure area on the pier. The secure area is very safe. I didn't feel threatened in the other areas but you are harassed by vendors in the free areas. We had a wonderful time in Roatan. I had e-mailed Victor Bodden to have a cab tour ready for us. WE had his cousin. Henri. Henri was fabulous. He took us everywhere. We were going to go on the zip line tour. But the wait was long. We ended up seeing a lot of the country side and the city and then we spent time snorkeling in Half Moon Bay. This is a good place. The reef is close and shallow we saw all kinds of fish and coral. It was great. The hurricane had done some damage to the island. The saltwater had killed a lot of vegetation. All in all I would rate this cruise as great. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Norwegian Sun 10/23/2005 - 10/30/2005 This is our eighth cruise, our third on NCL, and our first on NCL Sun. We are an active, professional couple in our mid-thirties, cruising for the first time with our son, who was 15 months old at ... Read More
Norwegian Sun 10/23/2005 - 10/30/2005 This is our eighth cruise, our third on NCL, and our first on NCL Sun. We are an active, professional couple in our mid-thirties, cruising for the first time with our son, who was 15 months old at the time of the cruise. We were traveling with a group of family & friends which totaled 8 adults, plus our son. As a preamble to this review, this cruise was originally a four port/two sea day cruise leaving out of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, the port was changed to Houston and one of our port days (Playa Del Carmen) was shortened to only a two hour stay on the same port day as Cozumel. NCL gave a $50 per person ($100 max per cabin) credit for these changes. Hurricane Wilma devastated the Yucatan peninsula the Friday before we boarded, so NCL had already re-arranged our itinerary, moving the Cozumel port day from Tuesday to Friday, in hopes that Cozumel might reopen by the end of the week. I think most of us passengers knew that there was little chance that Cozumel would be ready to accept cruise ships even by Friday, after seeing the news coverage. But, we all held out hope that we might make it to Cozumel or that NCL would substitute another port. As the week began, we got no updates as to the situation with the cruise excursion desk still maintaining that we were going to Cozumel on Friday. On Wednesday night, they pulled the Cozumel excursion forms, but still no official announcement was made. We overheard other passengers and even crew members speculating about a substitute port, but still nothing official was stated by the captain. Finally, on Thursday, the captain made an announcement that Cozumel was still closed and Friday would be an at sea day. So, our cruise ended up being a two port/4 sea day cruise, which I think most passengers found incredibly disappointing. And, while most seemed understanding about the weather and the condition of the ports being out of NCLs control, most also thought that NCL should have planned better to have provided us a substitute port. In NCL's defense, the Carnival ship in the area also did not substitute a port for their planned Cozumel visit. Our group was mostly disappointed in the lack of information and communication about the situation throughout the week and the likelihood of a substitute port. Our group felt we were intentionally kept in the dark. As compensation, we got free rum punch on Friday by the pool between 11 am and noon. Our cabin Our balcony cabin on Deck 8 Mid had plenty of room for two adults and we even had a crib added for our 15 month old. The bed, which we believe was the standard "two twins pushed together to make a queen" fit together nicely without the ridge in the middle that we have experienced on a couple of other cruises. There was a mini-fridge, which we used the entire week for our son's bottles and snacks. There was only one outlet in the bathroom marked "for shavers only" and only one outlet in the bedroom, which we were constantly using for the baby monitor, recharging camera/camcorder, etc. We were never able to use the nightlight we had brought. Would have been nice to have a couple of outlets in the bedroom. There was a couch, which we never seemed to use to sit on, but was great for holding all our stuff throughout the day. The room had plenty of closet, shelf, and drawer space. We were surprised that the balcony didn't have plexiglass, just had rails. We would have been able to use it more if it had, but with a 15 month old we had to be extremely careful with him carrying toys, sippy cups, etc out on the balcony for fear he would throw them overboard between the rails. And, we felt that if he had really tried he could have crawled underneath the bottom rail. Our cabin was kept very clean by our steward and his assistant, though we didn't feel that they were quite as attentive as other teams we have had. Though there were three of us, we only got two sets of towels and a call to the Reception Desk one afternoon for another set didn't result in immediate attention, though we did have the third set later that evening when we returned to our room after dinner. One morning, our son spilled milk on his crib sheets, so I took them off, laid them on the bed and used a backup sheet we had brought from home for the rest of the day. They did not replace the soiled sheet with a clean one, so we kept using our backup sheet the remainder of the week. But, when we had to pack that sheet on the last night, not only did they not bring an NCL sheet - they took the crib away. We returned from dinner and immediately called Reception to get our crib returned. It was returned a short time later by our room steward, who never really apologized, but blamed the disappearance on his assistant. Though we have left extra tips for our steward and assistant on other cruises, we didn't feel this team deserved more than the standard tip this cruise. Our room was located near to the cross hallway where two of the atrium elevators were located. However, we rarely experienced much noise except for the night before disembarkation when a group of children (sounded like middle school range) were running up and down the hallway, one of them crying, around midnight until another passenger told them to quiet down and go to their rooms. Then, on disembarkation morning, we were awaken by some staff who were in the hallway talking and laughing loudly at 6:00 am as they folded sheets and got ready for disembarkation. They quickly complied when I peeped my head out the door and asked them to be quiet. The bathroom was an average size, for a cruise ship, but we felt this one had less room for storage and one of the smallest showers we have had. There was a hair dryer, which indeed did get hot and had three power settings. There were soap and shampoo dispensers in the shower and another soap dispenser by the sink, which were always kept full. Everything was in great working order with plenty of hot water and minimal temperature fluctuation, even during peak water usage times - like right before dinner. The ship -- We found the NCL Sun to be quite roomy. Our cruise was almost sold out, but other than at embarkation, the Chocoholic Buffet, and the Reception Desk on the last day, we never had to wait in any long lines. And, even though the immediate pool area was crowded during our three warm at sea days, there seemed to be plenty of open lounge chairs on the other sun decks around the ship. In general, the ship was very clean and tidy. For embarkation, we had pre-purchased NCL airport transfers. Just as expected, there were two ladies near baggage claim with NCL signs welcoming us. We approached, and she crossed our names off her list, instructed us to claim our bags and then come back to her. However, after we had our bags and returned, she was nowhere to be found. We waited at that spot for a while, then one of our party started walking around to find her. We eventually found her at an NCL desk on the other side of the baggage area. She told us the next bus should be leaving in about 30 minutes. After forty five minutes, we overheard her tell another passenger who apparently had been waiting longer than us, that some buses were on the way, but that they had not expected so many of us to come at one time. How can they not know this when we were required to give our plane information to purchase the transfers? After waiting an hour, we were directed to a bus. The transfer to the port took 40 minutes and the bus was clean, air conditioned and the ride was pleasant. We got to the pier at 1:00 pm. We were given color coded passes and told to sit in a waiting area for our color to be called. We only had to sit for about 10 minutes (we were Latitudes members), though others in our party who were not Latitudes members waited 20 minutes. Once called, we showed our passports and cruise tickets, and were directed to the security line. The security line was moving slowly, then stopped moving at all - we could see that they were not letting anyone through the two metal detectors set up. We were told that they had to hold us in the terminal, because the check-in line on the ship was too long. They did have someone walking around with cups of juice and water, which was much appreciated. After about 30 minutes, the security line started moving again and we went through with ease and walked onto the ship via a very long ramp. We were directed to the Stardust lounge, where several representatives were checking passengers in. We had pre-registered on-line before our cruise, so all we had to do for check in was to set up our on-board account with a credit card and have our pictures taken. This went fairly quickly and we were on our way to our cabin, where our luggage was already stacked by the door in the hallway. We immediately went to the buffet, since we had had no food since breakfast, and set off to explore the ship and investigate our dining options for the week. To help us plan our week of dinners, we checked out all the specialty restaurant menus (on a table in the Grand Atrium by the Reception Desk on embarkation day till 5 pm) as well as the Seven Seas and Four Seasons menus for the week (available to browse through at the Reception Desk). We made reservations for two nights - one at Ginza and one at Pacific Heights. Reservations could be made for any day of the cruise till 5 pm each day either at a desk in the Grand Atrium on the 5th floor or by calling from your cabin phone. After 5 pm, you could still go to the restaurant to try to get a reservation for the same night. Following this, we attended the muster drill at 5:30 pm, which seemed well organized and quick. We had no life jacket for our son, but one was brought for him when we asked our cabin steward. For disembarkation, there was an option to keep your luggage and carry it off yourself at your leisure (I think it was called Express Disembarkation) OR you could set your luggage out by 3 am and the porters would take it off the ship for you and you were assigned a color group. We set our luggage out, and waited for our color group to be called the next morning to leave the ship and get our luggage. We were allowed to stay in our cabin or in any of the dining areas or lounge areas while waiting to be called, and we really enjoyed that option versus our previous experiences of being herded to a specific area to wait. Everyone had to be off the ship by 10:00 am. Some general things we liked: the temperature in the public areas on the ship was usually comfortable (we have found other cruises to have the AC turned up way too high); and, we liked that the photography staff did optional portraits almost every night (not just formal night). Some things we didn't like: no free beverage that was caffeine free except water (we would have liked to have a lemonade or fruit punch option); and, we thought that many guests dressed a bit too casual in the evenings. The service -- Aside from the cabin steward staff and the main dining room wait staff, the staff around the ship were very friendly and efficient. We enjoyed the cruise director and his staff and thought they did a good job with entertainment. The food -- This was our second experience with Freestyle dining and we came out of it with the same feelings as with our first experience. On the pro side, we loved the flexibility of eating dinner at any time (restaurants open 5:30 till 10:00 pm, last seating at 9:00 pm). We ate as early as 5:30 pm and as late at 6:30 pm, with a group as small as 4 adults and as large as 7 adults plus highchair. In general, we found that most people ate around 7:00 pm, so the early times were never a problem with getting seated. There was only one night we had to wait for a table at Four Seasons, and that was only for about 10 minutes. Though, the same night in Four Seasons, we also had to wait about 20 minutes for a high chair to be available. And, we liked going to different restaurants with different decor and menu styles. On the con side, we missed the camaraderie you develop with fellow passengers assigned to a big table in a traditional dining arrangement. We also missed having the same wait staff each night, as they really get to know you over the course of the week and know whether you like ground pepper, whether you order from the bar, etc. We ate breakfast each morning in the buffet, which always had a good variety with made to order omelets and waffles. The waffles were great - as long as you got them hot off the griddle. And, we found the two buffet lines outside at the back of the ship to always be much less crowded than the two inside. The tables located by the inside lines were usually always full, but we enjoyed either sitting outside by the pool or at the back of the ship, where there were always tables. And, one cooler morning, we sat at a booth in Pacific Heights which was also very pleasant. They had a juice/coffee station located there for your convenience and it was quieter than over by the buffet line. We ate lunch mostly at the buffet also. Again, the lines at the back of the ship were always less crowded than the main two inside lines - with one of the lines in the back always having hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza. Each day had good variety of hot entrees, desserts, salads, fruit, and bread. We also enjoyed the fresh made sandwiches from Las Ramblas on Deck 12 for some of our lunches. This isn't highly publicized, but was open each day for lunch. Pacific Heights was "Cooking Light" themed. The food was good, though a couple of our group commented that it could have been a bit more seasoned. The service here was very good - the waiter spent extra effort entertaining our 15 month old. The menu was limited and set, and while we really enjoyed our meal there, we never returned because we had already eaten the items we wanted there. The only fee restaurant we tried was Ginza, for the Teppanyaki Grill. It was $12.00 for most of the combination meals (we had Filet and Shrimp). Service was great and the food top quality - definitely the best meal we had all week. Four Seasons and Seven Seas were the two main dining rooms. We ate one night at Seven Seas, but since it was in the back of the ship and you could feel more ship motion and the engines were louder, we ate at Four Seasons the other nights. These two dining rooms usually have the same menu (though there are slight variations). We found the service, in general, to be below our expectations in both. The waiters did not seem to be familiar with the menu items when we asked questions about ingredients, the plates were often not cleared promptly, we often had to ask for drink refills, and one night we were not even asked if we wanted beverages. Some nights, it seemed to take a long time for entrees to arrive and one night we waited a very long time for our desserts. We liked the ice cream/yogurt bar - good ice cream, good variety of flavors and toppings and great hours. The Chocoholic Buffet, held one afternoon in Four Seasons, was a feast for the eyes and stomach with quite a variety of chocolate goodies along with wonderful ice carvings and chocolate displays. The line was very long and there seemed to be quite a bit of confusion on how many lines there actually were going into the dining room and, once in the dining room, the lines then bizarrely split again creating more confusion and bad flow through the food areas. Arriving toward the end of the event, I was disappointed that they had run out of strawberries for chocolate dipping. Were told they were getting more, so I waited, but the promised strawberries never came. While waiting, the lady doing the chocolate dipping allowed a teenager to dip his own fruit, after he handled it on his plate - which I felt was very unsanitary and my thoughts were echoed by other passengers who witnessed it. The entertainment -- On our previous two NCL cruises, we had seen the production shows by the Jean Anne Ryan Company, so we opted to skip those this cruise. They were good to see the first time, but didn’t warrant a repeat performance in our opinion. We really enjoyed both guest comedians. They each did two individual shows on two different nights, plus a combined show on the last night. They also both participated in the Liar’s Club show, along with the cruise director and his assistant. And, one of them also did a short afternoon show in the Observation lounge. Their names were Fred Klett and Peter Sasso. There was the usual Newlywed game, which we always thoroughly enjoy. We also went to see the Friendly Feud, which we enjoyed. We didn’t get a chance to listen to most of the musicians, except for the band who played by the pool and a latin guitarist, both of which we enjoyed. I also attended one of the country line dancing classes, which was very fun, and the fruit & vegetable carving demonstration. There seemed to be a good variety of other lectures, lessons, wine-tastings, etc, but we just didn’t have time to attend any of them. There was Hairy Chest competition by the pool which was entertaining. I made it to the spa for a manicure on the first day, which was a pleasant experience and done very well – it lasted all week. Two of the other ladies in our group got massages (one the Hot Stone Massage and one a Neck/Shoulder massage) and both loved them. There were two nighttime, poolside events. One was the sail away party and the other was an Island party later in the week. There was also a 50’s sock hop night, 70’s night, and two different Karaoke sessions. We didn’t get a chance to attend any of these, however, since our son was traveling with us. Below is a summary of our days in port, so read on for recommendations on things to do. Belize City, Belize -- This is a tender port. The ships have to anchor 4 miles from the pier, which is certainly the longest tender we have ever had. We had booked a shore excursion through NCL prior to boarding – the Cave Tubing and Jungle Trek. We were instructed to go to the Four Seasons dining room at 9:30 and we got there early. It was packed because apparently all the ship tours left from there. They began to call for tours to leave the room and go to the tenders. But, they would call several tours together, which seemed to lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion, both leaving the dining room and finding your tour at the pier. We felt it might have been smoother to only call one tour at a time. Though our tour was supposed to start at 9:30, we didn’t get off the ship, tendered, and on our bus till 10:30 – consequently, our tour returned to the pier about one hour later than scheduled. There is a long bus ride, but watching the scenery and the small communities out the window was nice. We wound our way through the city, and then out on the highway. The last 7 miles to the Jaguar Paw resort was pretty rough (I can't imagine how often they have to change the shocks on those buses!!) On the way, our tour guide gave us a lot of good information about the country and the culture, explained the way of living, and inserted jokes and trivia. In addition, we took some good pictures along the way. Jaguar Paw had bathrooms/changing rooms and they secured our backpacks while we were tubing. The weather was warm and sunny (mid 80's). The water in the river was warm, like unheated pool water. Once I got wet and into the caves, I did get a bit chilly, but didn't find it uncomfortable and it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the excursion. We tubed through Caves #3 and #4. We did about a 40 minute walk, carrying our tubes, through the jungle, and then the tubing part was about 70 minutes. Had to do more paddling with our hands that I had anticipated, but this is a river, so the current is subject to the recent rainfall. We didn't need bug spray the day we went. There were only two places we were told to "pick up our butts" due to shallowness and the guides took turns being motors for us, in a human chain. Saw bats hanging from the ceiling and interesting cave formations. It was a very unique shore excursion. We found the included lunch (rice, chicken, slaw, and bottled Coke) to be very good and filling. And, we saw a pack of Howler monkeys in the tree right above the changing rooms. I would recommend this excursion, whether through the cruise line or through a private company. I will say though that this may be challenging for small kids or non-active adults. Carrying the tubes through the jungle (a fairly level path but with lots of tree roots and general unevenness) would be tough for a small child. Our guide did carry one tube for an elderly lady in our group and I saw some husbands carrying their wives' tubes. The tubes aren't heavy, but are a bit awkward. There was some paddling required for movement as well as for steering, though the guides did often come to act as motors for people as we chained together by hand, especially helping the older folks and the women. We all wore bathing suits; some also wore T-shirts and shorts over bathing suits. And, we took a dry change of clothes and ship towel and sunscreen. Anything you take tubing will get wet, so only a waterproof camera and yourself should be taken on the tubing - everything else can be left securely in a backpack or tote at the resort. Hats or sunglasses should be left in your backpack as the hat will probably get wet and be in the way of your headlamp and the sunglasses are useless in the caves and could easily get lost. Folks wore all sorts of shoes from river sandals, water shoes, old tennis shoes (they will get wet, so don't wear your good ones and socks are useless). Flip flops or mules would not work well, since they may come off in the river. There was a little gift stand at the resort with a few trinkets, and beer and ice cream could be purchased for lunch. Other than that and a tip for the guide, you should take little cash, and they did take US dollars. We only purchased a magnet, so we cannot really attest to the prices, although the same magnet was cheaper at the stores by the dock. Once we arrived back at the pier, we spent about an hour walking around the “Tourism Area” which had some souvenir shops, a couple of bars, and several jewelry stores. Since we were the only ship in port that day and it was getting late, some of the shops had already closed. The area was fenced in from the rest of the city, and we had been discouraged from leaving the area. And, from what we saw from the bus, we didn’t miss anything in the actual city of Belize City. This is definitely not a “walkable” port and the best thing to do is to take an excursion to see the beautiful beaches, snorkel, scuba dive, jungle, go cave tubing, etc. Roatan, Honduras -- This was a gangway port, so no time wasted on tenders. We elected to take an NCL excursion for this port called the Tabyana Beach Party. We made the reservation at the Shore Excursion desk during our cruise. We exited the ship at the time appointed (8 am) to meet our tour on the pier. We were showed to a school bus, and then taken on a 40 minute ride to the Tabyana resort, arriving at 9 am. The beach was beautiful with white, powder soft sand, and lots of shade trees very near the water. The facility had restrooms, changing rooms, bar, outside showers, gift shops, and snorkel gear rental. Lunch was provided as part of the excursion, which was a decent buffet which lasted for 2 hours. The line was always very long, though, from the time they opened till they ended. Lemonade, water, and tea were provided the entire day – though we found that they did run out of lemonade in the afternoon. There was a band that literally played all day and could easily be heard from the water – we enjoyed listening to them. This was a protected beach, so had little wave action and no undertow – great for kids and to just pull a lounge chair into the water’s edge or float on a raft. There seemed to be plenty of lounge chairs and there were bar staff walking around continuously to take orders. There was decent snorkeling right from the beach – water was very clear and a good variety of fish and coral formations. There were men on kayaks who were out in the water to assist and to make sure snorkelers stayed in the safe areas. There were other fee activities at the beach, like parasailing and sea kayaks, but we didn’t try any of them. Starting at 1 pm, the buses returned and began continuous cycles back and forth from the ship. The last bus left at 4 pm. We left around 3:00 and had a very short wait for the bus. Good views of the ship on the return bus trip. We didn’t have time to visit any of the shops within walking distance of the pier. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Just returned from a 7-night cruise to the W. Caribbean on the Sun. What a beautiful ship and wonderful cruise! Hurricane Wilma caused us to miss ports at Roatan and Belize, but we stopped at Cozumel and Vera Cruz. I'm not a fan of ... Read More
Just returned from a 7-night cruise to the W. Caribbean on the Sun. What a beautiful ship and wonderful cruise! Hurricane Wilma caused us to miss ports at Roatan and Belize, but we stopped at Cozumel and Vera Cruz. I'm not a fan of these ports. . .lots of "tourist junk" to buy and very hot and humid! But they were interesting, especially the excursion we took to the countryside at Vera Cruz. My son-in-law took the tour to Chichen Itza (from Playa del Carmen) and said it was terrific. The ship is impeccably clean and attractive. We had an inside cabin, which was roomy and had plenty of storage. We ate only in the main (free) dining rooms and breakfast buffets, and enjoyed the food very much. It was beautifully presented (in the dining rooms) and very tasty. The buffets were good (and fast), if not "gourmet" in quality. Food in the dining rooms was innovative and delicious. We couldn't see how the specialty dining rooms or their food could justify an additional cover charge. We were MORE than satisfied with the "free" dining. The entertainment is nice, but depends on what you enjoy. The dancing shows are not my favorite, but the comedian, Fred Klett, is hilarious and not to be missed. We skipped one or two of the shows and relaxed in our rooms to recover from a day ashore. The in-room TV offered news and different movies--all adequate. The lounges featured excellent singers and pianists. We traveled with my daughter's 4 small children (all under age 7) and they spent most of the day in the Children's Club....they loved it! This gave us adults some respite and time to relax(!) This is our 5th cruise (we've sailed with Carnival and Royal Caribbean), and our second with Norwegian. My advice: you can't go wrong with this ship...in all, a "9 out of 10" experience. Also, if booking a cruise, select your ship carefully, i.e., go with the newer ones if possible and read all the reviews you can. Re the excursions: most are expensive and are "hyped" to appear better than the actual thing. We much prefer to rent a car, if possible, and explore a location on our own. If you're with another couple, this drops the price for exploring an island or port to about $15 per person per day. Service: couldn't have been improved. ALL the servers and personnel were friendly, and especially kind to the small children with us. Our cabin steward had our names memorized (even when he saw us away from our cabins!) the first day. In short, we were pampered! Embarkation wasn't too bad...stood in line for about 45 minutes...Debarkation was faster (15 minutes). Be sure to pre-register on line before the cruise to speed things up. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We are a family of 2 adults & 2 children, aged 4 & 9. This was the first time cruising for my husband and the children, and my 4th time - my first with Norwegian, though. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise & will definitely be ... Read More
We are a family of 2 adults & 2 children, aged 4 & 9. This was the first time cruising for my husband and the children, and my 4th time - my first with Norwegian, though. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise & will definitely be cruising again. After some reviews of the food we were a little concerned about what the quality would be like, but were impressed with the choice, quality and dining arrangements. We loved the freestyle setup as we don't like routine, keeping to a clock or being organised in general! We didn't eat in any of the restaurants which have a cover charge because we were more than happy with the choices available elsewhere. We were in cabin #0127 (inside) and were really happy that it was so roomy & that there was so much storage space, as we were travelling with 4 large Samsonite bags + 2 wheelie bags (we were travelling from Australia for 5 weeks in total). We hardly encountered the cabin attendants - they were very efficient & seemed to have our room done very soon after we left as no matter how long we spent out of our room, it was done when we got back. We took the Chichen Itza tour from Playa del Carmen, which was just fabulous. It's a long trip on the bus, but completely worth it & our Mayan tour guide was very interesting & talked most of the way there, which made the trip go faster. It was very hot & humid there, but just amazing & the lunch provided on the tour was great. We have the most amazing photos & are so happy that we went. The rest of the cruise was slightly different than planned as we chased around the Caribbean by Hurricane Wilma. We were scheduled to visit Belize & Honduras, but instead spent a full day in Cozumel & then a day in Veracruz. Cozumel was interesting & we took our daughters on a horse & buggy ride to look around the island, which was fun. The kids loved visiting the world's smallest Hard Rock Cafe, and we appreciated their cold drinks! Not going to the planned ports simply gives us an excuse to go on another cruise! The only real downside to the cruise (and we managed to avoid/ignore this after a few days) were the constant sales pitches/pushing of "Diamonds International" the whole time. A lot of the "talks" on various subjects turned out to be thinly disguised sales pitches, so we ended up ignoring a lot of the organised stuff & just doing our own thing on board. We can't comment on the kids' club facilities as we didn't even look at them - we did everything as a family. The kids loved the pools, hot tubs, table tennis, volleyball & basketball. We found the crew fantastic & we tipped when we felt anyone had gone out of their way or been particularly helpful, otherwise we let the compulsory daily charge cover most of the tipping. Cheers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Customer Service Issue # 1 - Norwegian's customer service is horrible. Three letters were sent to Norwegian Cruise Lines on September 18, 2005, prior to sailing. One was sent to Latitudes in Florida, one to Customer Service in ... Read More
Customer Service Issue # 1 - Norwegian's customer service is horrible. Three letters were sent to Norwegian Cruise Lines on September 18, 2005, prior to sailing. One was sent to Latitudes in Florida, one to Customer Service in Florida, and one to their main office in Norway. We received a generic postcard postmarked September 29 that one of our letters had been received. Our ship sailed on October 16. As of October 25, two days after returning from the cruise, we still have not received a response. Issue # 2 - Our cruise was originally scheduled to sail out of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the port was changed to Houston. We were told that we had a choice: to cancel our cruise by the end of September for a full refund, or receive a $50 per person credit off of our ship bill. We chose the credit. We did not receive it. At the Customer Service desk when questioning our bill for the missing credit, they refused to give us the credit. We were not "on their list". They did not even apologize. We were given a 1-800 number to call. We are still attempting to get our credit from NCL after returning from the cruise. Restaurant Service and Food The food everywhere we ate was excellent. The service was horrendous at the Seven Seas, which was one of the main restaurants. Had this been a land restaurant we would have left 2 pennies both nights we dined there. They did not refill our water or coffee. They did not come around to see if we needed anything or check on us. They did not brush our table. Every time we needed something, we had to flag someone down. There were six of us. The service at the Four Seasons restaurant, the other main restaurant, was excellent. Service in General The cocktail waiter refused to bring us water when we asked just before a show. He apparently only serviced those who wanted pay drinks. Our room was kept clean, however she did not always replace the glasses we used, and we had to improvise. She did not introduce herself to us. Only once did we get a towel animal in our room. Our experience with automatic tipping on two of four cruises (both NCL) is that with automatic tipping the crew does not try as hard. Only on the two cruises where we chose the tip did we get towel animals every day in our room. The restaurant staff on the cruises where we set the tip went out of their way to make our trip memorable. On the two cruises with automatic tipping, the restaurant staff was mediocre to downright bad, with the exception of the Four Seasons mentioned above. The Casino The casino pit boss was rude. He did not want to take our Casino cards and told us that as we were playing the $5 blackjack table it would not be worthwhile to run our cards. Later in the cruise we discovered that even though we'd been in the casino every day for at least an hour a day, we had not earned even a single point during the entire cruise. We suspect the casino staff did not run our cards at the blackjack table though they appeared to. We immediately earned points at the slot machines where it is automated. Shows and Entertainment Fred Klett, the comedian, was first rate. I do not usually like comics but he was hilarious. I would try to see him again. The Jean Ann Ryan company was enjoyable, though the first two shows were a bit different than the usual song and dance and we did not enjoy them. They were more like plays and we were very bored. The later song and dance shows were very enjoyable. Fabio Zini, the solo guitarist, though talented, should not have been a main feature entertainer, he should have been in one of the lounges. The Mystery Dinner Theater was great fun. Miscellany The ship was clean. There were lots of elevators compared to other ships we'd been on. Our room was bigger than other ships we'd been on. And the pina coladas on all of the NCL ships we've cruised on were quite flavorful. Check In Check in was very pleasant. I had a sprained ankle and they went out of their way to assist me with getting on board. Why we will not sail Norwegian again... Our cruise had many changes due to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma. We were supposed to spend a day each in Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan. We spent two hours in Playa Del Carmen, two days in Cozumel, none at all in Belize or Roatan, and one day in Vera Cruz. With all the changes to this cruise were expecting the service to be exceptional, for them to want to make up for the changes by rolling out the red carpet. However, we encountered the exact opposite. Of the four cruises we have taken, the service overall on the Norwegian Sun was the worst we’ve ever encountered. I feel very badly for those who experienced this as their first cruise. I doubt those folks will ever cruise again. Of the three NCL cruises we’ve taken, all three had itinerary changes. This cruise combined two ports into one day. Originally we were supposed to spend a day in Playa Del Carmen and a day in Cozumel. It was changed to two hours in Playa and then onto Cozumel. Everyone who wanted Cozumel got off at Playa and took a very unpleasant ferry ride (which we had to pay for) to Cozumel, only to discover that the ship had beat us there. We did not make the port of Belize or Roatan due to Hurricane Wilma. We instead spent an extra day in Cozumel, and a day in Vera Cruz. Vera Cruz is a nasty, dirty, industrial port, whose primary function is the shipping industry. It is not well suited for tourism. The water was so filthy that it smelled like raw sewage. We did not dare to go into the water, though our original intention was snorkeling. Few spoke English and we had some difficulty getting information on what to do there. We took a taxi to the fort which is well worth seeing. Other than the fort, I would not recommend Vera Cruz as a place you’d want to visit. NCL did nothing special to smooth over the loss of ports, other than be very rude when we asked why we didn’t receive our $50 per person credit. We were appalled at their attitude over the changes. We would have been very understanding as they could not control the weather had they tried to make up for it in other ways. They did not. Even their website did not reflect the changes until much later, and finding information on weather related changes on their website was like looking for a needle in a haystack. When we went to Royal Caribbean’s website out of curiosity to see how they were handling the hurricane changes, the very first thing we found was their hurricane info, what decisions had been made, how the cruisers would be compensated, and so forth. We have sailed Royal Caribbean before, and where we’d been very loyal to Norwegian Cruise Lines in the past, this being our third cruise with them, we do not intend to sail on Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
First time cruiser here, but I am involved in the hospitality industry, so I have some perspective on what a consumer expects. Embarkation was easy, some waiting involved, but not excessive. No long lines for pictures, some ... Read More
First time cruiser here, but I am involved in the hospitality industry, so I have some perspective on what a consumer expects. Embarkation was easy, some waiting involved, but not excessive. No long lines for pictures, some "herding" occurs, but that's what it takes to deal with large numbers of people. We got to our room in a very reasonable amount of time and we were pleased with our accommodations. Adequately sized cabin with queen bed, fridge, picture window and plenty of storage space. If you need more, I think you brought too much. The advantage to NCL in "Freestyle Cruising" is that casual attire does not require as much storage as multiple nights of formal attire. The bath was adequate and the shower was very functional and pleasant (nice pressure, no dribble) and plenty of hot water. We enjoyed our time in the cabin and the only complaint I had was the odd level of volume on the various ship-provided presentations on the TV. Turn the volume up to hear one production and the next one would break your eardrums. A minor issue really, except when your spouse is napping and you're watching TV. Our first night out, there was a bon-voyage BBQ which was compromised by high winds. They had a hard time keeping the burners lit on their warmers and food was not as hot as it should have been. The seasoning was tasty and there was plenty of food to eat, but it wasn't what it might have been. We ate what we could and that was our meal for the evening. We enjoyed a "Meet and Greet" with other Cruise Critic passengers and then took a walk around the ship before we retired for the evening. While on board we dined at the Garden Cafe for breakfast most mornings, fresh made waffles and omelets were an attraction for us, but there was plenty of other variety as well. Served buffet style, I thought the food was avg/above avg in most cases. At lunch, we usually visited the Garden Cafe or the Outdoor Garden Cafe and enjoyed a similar level of quality and variety. We dined at LeBistro, a cover charge venue, twice because the service and quality of offering was excellent. The filet served there would rival most served in any fine dining establishment in the large cities in the U.S. And the servers worked hard to provide excellent experiences. We took evening meals at the Seven Seas once and the Four Seasons twice and were pleased with both experiences at the Four Seasons and my wife enjoyed her meal at Seven Seas. No problem with seating and only a minor wait one evening at the Four Season. We never tried room service, so no comment there and we drank wine for the most part, so we can't comment on bar service. We enjoyed a few shows while on board, particularly, Fabio Zini, a flamenco guitarist, the Ann Rynd production, Que Noche, and the band that played on the pool deck most of the time, Root Link. We did not other performances, so, again, no comment. As well, we did not choose to cruise for the sake of interactive entertainment, so we cannot comment regarding the cruise director's performance as far as activities are concerned. We chose this cruise over other vacation options because of price and the opportunity it afforded us to just relax, and as far as those issues are concerned I believe that we were satisfied. However, we have returned with some mixed feelings about the trip. Because of damage from Hurricane Wilma, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel were deleted from our itinerary. I know that we can't hold NCL responsible for the conditions there, but it didn't seem that much effort was made to sub any other port either. I heard something about Veracruz not being a suitable port, but the Dream has been putting in there for at least three or four weeks now. Also a reviewer on the Dream for the cruise that sailed out on the Sat before we sailed indicated that the passengers received an onboard credit of $50-$100 for the loss of port visits and shore excursions. We received complimentary rum punch on Friday. The story was that the Capt and the main office both had tried to contact Coz before the ship sailed with no success. Wouldn't that have been the time to seek alternative ports? The Capt's reading of the official letter from NCL concerning the deletion of Coz from the itinerary, after the fact, smacked of disingenuous corporate doublespeak. Now then, we enjoyed ourselves on the ship and we had a good time in Belize and Roatan and we felt that in most cases the service onboard was above average, the food was anywhere from good to excellent, our accommodations were better than expected and we believe we will try another cruise in the future. However, from a customer service/relations standpoint I think NCL failed to appreciate what I could perceive as a significant amount of discontent on the part of many passengers relating to the loss of two port stops, when the average layman could pretty well predict that Coz and Cancun would be devastated beyond any quick fix. Ultimately, I think some of us just were left with a less than wonderful feeling about the way that NCL corporate handled things, but, then again, they were dealing with Wilma too, from what I understand, and maybe that was the cause of some poor corporate to ship communication, but there was time to do what was necessary to placate a significant number of unhappy passengers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Embarkation was a breeze compared to New Orleans. We arrived at 10:30 and after a 30 minute wait, we were the 4th group aboard. There was a separation of Latitudes and non-latitudes members. Our room was not quite ready so we went up to ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze compared to New Orleans. We arrived at 10:30 and after a 30 minute wait, we were the 4th group aboard. There was a separation of Latitudes and non-latitudes members. Our room was not quite ready so we went up to the Garden Cafe for lunch. We went back to the room at 1pm and everything was satisfactory. It was windy upon sail away and dampened the sail away party. We immediately hit 6 foot seas which progressed through to 12 foot throughout the next day. By Tuesday things had calmed down but the lack of information from NCL was on everyone's mind. While we were informed we were skipping Cozumel and PDC(no communication) that was as far as the information went. Formal night was pretty good and we had our photo taken with the Captain. We had heard that NCL had changed vendors for photo and ship stores. Photo prices are still expensive but comparable to the vendor on Carnival. We made our port of call into Belize on time. We did the Lamanai tour and highly recommend it even through our boat suffered an engine loss. We still were able to continue on with the other engine. (Sounds like the Dream) We had a little bit of a scare on the way back on the bus when we heard a loud pop. It turned out to be a passing truck having a tire blow out. We did not enjoy the shows put on by the LeAnn Ryan (SP) group for this ship. The ones on the Dream were much better. The two comedians were a riot. After one song by the guitar picker Zino, everything afterwards was boring. "Exciting? No?" Disappointment definitely set in when the Captain announced that we would not be going to Cozumel and that the port charges for PDC and Cozumel ($28) were going to be refunded. Several people were asking why Costa Maya could not be substituted but got no response. I personally believe a lot of folks will reconsider taking a 7 day cruise that only goes to two ports. The trip back was normal. A second formal night was not offered. A couple of films in the Stardust were offered to kill time. I missed the free cruise by two numbers which meant the lady in front of me received the winning tickets. The disembarkation was orderly. Make sure that you get the luggage tags early from the purser's desk as they are not delivered to your room. We docked at 7am and got off the ship at 9:10am. Retrieval of our luggage and Customs was a breeze. I believe NCL missed the boat by not having better communication or updates for the passengers. Compared to the other lines, they always seem to be last in releasing information. The next day we docked in Roatan where the itinerary was extended by two hours. We did a private diving excursion with a local vendor. The water still had a little sediment in it but overall was excellent. We returned to the ship, cleaned up, ate, and then did some shopping in town. Be prepared for children begging and following you around. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Norwegian Sun Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 3.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 3.5 4.1
Value For Money 3.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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