A great vacation...with a few flaws: Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by universalmind_49

Norwegian Sun 3
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A great vacation...with a few flaws

Sail Date: April 2013
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
My GF and I, 31 and 34, flew directly to Ft. Lauderdale on 4/10, the day of the cruise, and took the SAS shuttle at $15/pp to the Port of Miami, arriving a little after 11:00. Embarkation went smoothly and we were on the ship within 30 minutes.

Once on board, we explored a little and headed to the buffet. Our first reaction to the buffet was, "Where is the rest of it?" The setup is not ideal; there are no "stations," just one long line with two sides and a salad bar in the middle. The two sides have the same prepared items, one side has a carving station and the other a pasta station. Where there is an ice cream bar on the right side, the left side has a stir fry station. We were lucky enough to get a Freestyle Daily when we checked in (not everyone did), so we knew that the Seven Seas MDR was open for lunch and that's where we had our first meal. It wasn't bad.

I don't want to go into every detail about the ship, so I'll focus on a few More things.


The staff was great, particularly the cruise director's staff. Down Under David, Big Ben and Sinful Sin were our favorites; they really turned what could have been a long 11 days into a memorable vacation. I participated in Dancing with the Sun Stars, Karaoke Superstar (coming in 2nd to a professional singer!), the adult hypnosis show, progressive trivia and we did the Perfect Couple game show. All were a lot of fun.

The bartenders and wait staff were very friendly and not overly pushy. I recommend meeting "Bong" at the Champagne Bar or Dazzles early in the cruise. He will keep you entertained. Our stateroom attendant, Rommel, was friendly and funny, but in 11 days we only got three towel animals! We still left him a few extra dollars.

*Note: A lot of the staff we talked to were at or near the end of their contracts, so if you're taking the Sun to Alaska this summer you might not have the same experience we did.

As mentioned in a lot of other reviews, the ship is older but I found it to be in very good shape. It's easy to navigate, seemed to be very accessible for those with special needs, there was never too much of a wait for elevators and it's easy to take the stairs most places because of the ship's size. We almost always take the stairs to try to burn off some of those extra calories.

As far as food goes, the Great Outdoors is a great place to get breakfast. The staff at the omelet stations (or station, if one half of the line is closed) make some pretty good eggs and omelets, but I recommend asking for Crisco spray instead of the two tablespoons of oil they normally put in each pan. The food quality is pretty consistent, whether it's breakfast or late-night snacking.

Pros in the entertainment category, outside of the cruise director's staff, are hard to come by, but there was Terrance B, the hypnotist. His show was entertaining, but we were fairly sure there was no way the people on stage were hypnotized. After I was brought up on stage and participated in his late-night, adult hypnosis show, the jury is still out. I definitely felt relaxed, sort of in a fog, but I knew what was going on the whole time. It was a ton of fun, though, and I had the audience rolling in the aisles, if I do say so myself. It was fun having people come up to me throughout the cruise to talk about it, too.

We didn't hit any weather and the ride was very smooth. The stabilizers really help and neither of us had any issues with motion sickness.


All the great service in the world can't cover up for a bad product, namely the food and drinks. The mixed drinks were inconsistent and generally weak, especially considering the prices. We were more upset about the food, though. We only ate at the MDRs and the buffets and the quality ranged from excellent to terrible. The Seven Seas seemed to have better quality food at dinner, but the service was incredibly slow. The Four Seasons had better service, but we had more problems with the quality of the food (my GF literally poured the excess oil off of her plate of sirloin on night three). As previously noted, the setup of the buffet is terrible and the food is hit-or-miss. I will say, though, that the chicken was always perfectly cooked and very flavorful, whether at the MDR, buffet or the poolside BBQ. Unfortunately the pork was always very dry.

Most frustrating was the fact that there are only four drink machines on the ship for 2,000 passengers. One of them was out of order for all 11 days. So if you want iced tea, lemonade or any of the other "flavor enhanced waters" they offer, you will likely be waiting in line.

I should mention that the MDR dinners are what I look forward to most about cruising, which is why it's my biggest con about the Sun. If you are not as concerned about the food, you probably won't have as big of an issue with this ship as I did. I don't know if Norwegian purposely slacks on the quality in the MDR to get you to pay for the specialty restaurants, but it seemed that way and I didn't like it. I was also hesitant to pay extra for dinner when the dinner included with the price of the cruise was so inconsistent.

The entertainment in the Stardust Theater was...interesting. The singers and dancers were fine - nothing special. Most of them either sung or danced but didn't do both, which I thought was weird. The other entertainers included Bud Andersen, a comedian with a weird style that included starting off on tangents about things like his ex-wife, the six college degrees he holds, getting full custody of his son, his wonderful mother, and other things. He never finished these tangents and overall we found him frustrating to listen to and not that funny. There was also a "dynamic entertainer" called George Solomon who put on the corniest show I've ever seen (half of). It's hard to describe, but he would basically tell a little story and then sing a classic song. Poorly. He is clearly not a trained singer or dancer, but he does both. There was also a pair of Cirque Du Soleil-style acrobats that we found to be boring and unimpressive.

Also, that sewage smell that is mentioned in other reviews definitely exists throughout the ship. It's not always there and it never seemed to be in the same place twice, but don't be surprised if you catch a whiff of it a few times during your cruise.

Disembarking was easy for us because we carried our own luggage off, but the people waiting in line in the halls on deck six seemed pretty upset with the process. I think that is to be expected, though. Lots of people and bags going to the same place and only one way to get there = waiting and frustration.


We are not complainers; we're happy people who understand how hard everyone on these ships works (not to mention the 12-hour days, seven days a week, nine months a year). We also know that we're on vacation and we're going to make the most of it. Keep your expectations realistic and if you want to have a good time, you will! Less

Published 04/23/13

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Port and Shore Excursions

Aruba is beautiful. Period. We hopped on a Fofoti Tours bus for $20/pp that was to take us to the Casibari Rock Formations, an old church (the name of which escapes me), and the California Lighthouse, then drop us off at Palm Beach for two hours, pick us up and take us back to the port. Everything was great until the tour bus never came back to pick us up. The two of us and one solo passenger got off the bus at 4:20 and agreed to meet the driver back at that spot at 6:20. All three of us got back to the meeting point at 6:05 and waited until 6:45. No bus. We were able to hop on one of the DePalm shuttles that happened to be running from one of the casinos past the port to the airport and make it back on board before our 7:30 all-aboard time. Other than the terrible service we received from Fofoti Tours, Aruba was wonderful.
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We didn't book an excursion through the ship. You might want to. We ended up getting a cab for $45 plus tip for three hours, which included a driver and a tour guide. It worked out well because we got a good guide, but he had to take us to the emerald shops he gets kickbacks from. We had no intention of buying anything in those shops and didn't. This was by far the worst port I've ever been in when it comes to locals pushing their wares. Every 10 feet someone was putting hats on our heads, jewelry on our wrists or t-shirts in our faces. I get it, that's how they make money and survive, but it gets really, really frustrating very quickly. The old walled city is lovely despite the peddlers. We went to the Inquisition Palace, which was cool but small. It also includes a Cartagena history museum. Our driver also took us to the new city, which he called Second Miami. It's not something anyone really needs to see and we ended up at an emerald "museum," which was nothing but a big store where you see the emerald workshop. We liked the Fortress and the old town and got lots of great pictures, but didn't really feel comfortable in this port. But hey, at least we can say we went to Colombia :)

We didn't explore the island, just walked around on either side of the bridge. We liked it, though, even though we didn't do much shopping (that's not why we go on vacation). There was plenty to see within walking distance of the port, including an old fort that has been converted into an outdoor shopping mall. And there's a KFC and a Pizza Hut, if you're hungry :)
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We grabbed a cab to Maho Beach, specifically the Sunset Beach Bar, to watch the planes come in and take off for a few hours. It was a lot of fun, but very busy. We didn't eat there; some friends recommended a place called Lee's, so we got a cab to take us there and weren't disappointed. It's right on the main road and any cab driver will know it. They have some of the best BBQ chicken I've ever tasted and the fried plantains are amazing, not to mention the homemade BBQ sauce on the tables. When I was in St. Maarten in 2012, I went on the Golden Eagle sailing catamaran, which took us to Mullet Bay for snorkeling and beach time. That was also a good experience and the crew on the Golden Eagle was great. That trip included drinks, sandwiches and snorkeling equipment. They are also somewhat famous for their YMCA dancing at the end of the excursion.

We took a cab to Red Hook and hopped on the ferry to St. John. The information given to us when we got off of the ship listed the prices incorrectly, so what we thought would be a $10 cab ride was actually $20. It was worth it, though, because St. John is absolutely beautiful (the Charlotte-Amalie ferry doesn't run often enough, so you pretty much have to go to Red Hook where it runs every hour). We went to Caneel Bay and used the beach there. It was sheltered, calm, quiet and the water was crystal clear. We also found a nice little hiking trail about five minutes away from Cruz Bay where the ferry lets out and spent a half hour or so hiking before heading back to the ferry terminal. After getting back to Havensight, where our ship was docked, we did some souvenir shopping and had drinks and tacos at what I think was called the Dog House Saloon. Both the beer and the tacos were fantastic.
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