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BACKGROUND: My wife and I are both retired and have cruised Princess & Carnival multiple times (Platinum level). We’ve cruised with NCL before and decided to do a B2B with RC Brilliance OTS since it also sails from Tampa. Since I spent 5 years as a teacher, I decided to give letter grades for each component I reviewed. ARRIVAL + TAMPA: We booked our Jet Blue flight from Central New York State (Syracuse) to arrive the night before the cruise. The complimentary shuttle to the Crowne Plaza picked us up around 5:30 PM and had us at the hotel within minutes. Check in was a breeze, we set up a shuttle run to the pier ($10 p/p via Blue One) for noon the next day and we settled in for the night. The next morning we ate some bagels that we brought from home took the 1:00 PM shuttle to the pier. The Crowne Plaza staff was helpful, professional & friendly, the pool was nice and the room was complimentary since we had a “Buy One Night, Get One Night Free“ promo Hotel + staff = A EMBARKATION: By the time we got to the ship, the lines were gone and we breezed through with no problem. The cabins were ready so we dropped off our carry-on bags and had lunch at the buffet. Easy peazy (if there is such a phrase) Embarkation = A THE CABIN: We were on Deck 9 aft cabin 9073 – two decks directly below Lido and a few decks above one of the MDR’s. The balcony cabin was roomy enough for us and our luggage, the balcony was a good size (bigger than many on the newer ships) and the bed was comfortable. As usual the closet doors open toward the bathroom door so you have to maneuver around to get stuff out. The bathroom was adequate but a tad smaller than we are used to. We were aware of the dreaded shower curtain having a life of its own so we followed other posters advice and brought over sized clothes pins to put on the bottom of the curtain to keep it in place. The shower had great water pressure but was waaaaay too small for a couple. The actual toilet area was small – I mean really small – I mean really tiny. We had no noise or cigarette smoke problems and there was no heavy elevator traffic or young kids running in the hallway. Our room steward Trian Fernandes was fabulous and we enjoyed talking with him. This was his last cruise before going back home for 3 month vaca and even though he was thinking about going home, he was very pleasant, helpful and never showed any sign that he’d rather be somewhere else (we gave him extra money on day 1 and day 6). We didn’t make many requests of him but when we did, he was quick to oblige. He also spoke English very well so there were no communication issues. One low point (which no one could have anticipated) happened when a cabin down the hall flooded due to a water leak. A small amount of water got under our door and the staff had to vacuum it up and use a “blower” to dry the rug. Guest services fell over themselves apologizing for the inconvenience (which was no big deal) and offered us bottles of wine and a free dinner at a restaurant of our choice. Cabin = A-, attendant = A+ THE FOOD: We like the Freestyle dining so we can eat when and where we want but didn’t go to the MDR’s at all. We ate most meals at the buffet and sat in the outdoor area at the stern of the ship. On the last sea day we ate at the Teppanyaki (courtesy of the ship) which for me was the food highpoint of the cruise. Buffet: Once we found the best times to eat, things were fine. Sometimes you have to hunt around for what you want since not all drink machines are available all the time BUT once you found out where stuff was, it was pretty much a certainty it would always be found there. Some offerings on the buffet weren’t that good but seafood, veggies, salads & fruit were my mainstay anyway and I never walked away hungry. Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon in the morning were among my favorites. B or B+ Bar service: Mostly frequented the bar by the pool - the bartender was busy but made good drinks - I tipped him extra each time. A- Room service: Never used it. No grade Teppanyaki: I admit it was free but we were thinking about eating there anyway. The seating started a little late but they gave us a complimentary bottle of wine (which we finished later in the cabin) and the chicken, steak and shrimp were very good. A+ Soda/drink packages: Never used them. No grade SHORE EXCURSIONS: More info for each is in the Shore Excursion Reviews Roatan: Little French Key - booked on our own. B+ Belize City: We booked the ship’s Bacab Jungle Park excursion. B+ Costa Maya: We booked Ya Ya Beach club on our own. B+ Cozumel: We didn’t book an excursion but shopped for souvenirs. C- OTHER SERVICES/MISC: Internet: We opted for the 100 minute plan + 10 minutes free (~$60 including activation) just so we could check e-mail a few times during the week. BE AWARE ----- the service is painfully SLOW. On the last day when everyone is working on confirming flights, the system w/b really slow. There is Wi-Fi available but I don’t know how well it works. C We didn’t use the Spa although I used the gym in the early afternoons so I had no issues with finding an open T-mill, elliptical or life cycle. The treadmills, elliptical and pedal machines were in great shape and the weight machines were primo. Gym = A- We didn’t buy any photo packages and ignored most photographers who tried to snap our pix. No grade We didn’t go to the casino. No grade Cruise Director and staff were often seen before shows in the Stardust Theater and around the ship. Nice people without being annoying. B+ We used Passengers’ Service desk to get printouts of our charges and the staff was courteous and professional. A- The boutiques/stores had their usual “sales” which were mostly for jewelry, old stock and watches. We only bought a couple of small souvenirs. C We did go to the Welcome Back party in the theater and the Observation Lounge wine and cheese party for the gold/platinum level folks. We went back to the Observation Lounge a few times for drinks and listen to the bands. As usual, we were too tired to attend the White Hot party. A- for what we did do We attended some of the Stardust Theater shows: El Gaucho – a comedian who did some interesting stuff with a member of the audience; Look of Love – a song and dance presentation with music from Burt Bacharach; Richie Minierva – a comedian; Rock You Tonight – another song and dance presentation with a rock & roll flavor. Overall a grade of A- or A DEBARKATION: We ate our breakfast in the Garden Cafe and then waited until they called our tag number to get in the final line which snaked around until we finally left the ship. It wasn’t a nightmare by any stretch but just one of those unpleasant things you have to do. After that we called the Quality Inn for the shuttle to the hotel. B OVERALL: What a great time – good weather, calm seas, lots of food and good value for the price but it ended all too soon. It was also great to start off with $100 OBC which we spent on the ship shore excursion, drinks and internet. The ship never felt crowded. Just don’t wait until “rush hour” to eat or go to the shows. We’re already booked on the NCL Star for a 10 day cruise in Oct of 2016 but we purchased another $250 Future Cruise Certificate for use in the future. I would recommend this ship & itinerary and give it an overall grade of an A-

Norwegian Sun

Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by mojomorris

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Trip Details
BACKGROUND: My wife and I are both retired and have cruised Princess & Carnival multiple times (Platinum level). We’ve cruised with NCL before and decided to do a B2B with RC Brilliance OTS since it also sails from Tampa. Since I spent 5 years as a teacher, I decided to give letter grades for each component I reviewed.

ARRIVAL + TAMPA: We booked our Jet Blue flight from Central New York State (Syracuse) to arrive the night before the cruise. The complimentary shuttle to the Crowne Plaza picked us up around 5:30 PM and had us at the hotel within minutes. Check in was a breeze, we set up a shuttle run to the pier ($10 p/p via Blue One) for noon the next day and we settled in for the night. The next morning we ate some bagels that we brought from home took the 1:00 PM shuttle to the pier. The Crowne Plaza staff was helpful, professional & friendly, the pool was nice and the room was complimentary since we had a “Buy One Night, Get One Night Free“ promo Hotel + staff = A

EMBARKATION: By the time we got to the ship, the lines were gone and we breezed through with no problem. The cabins were ready so we dropped off our carry-on bags and had lunch at the buffet. Easy peazy (if there is such a phrase) Embarkation = A

THE CABIN: We were on Deck 9 aft cabin 9073 – two decks directly below Lido and a few decks above one of the MDR’s. The balcony cabin was roomy enough for us and our luggage, the balcony was a good size (bigger than many on the newer ships) and the bed was comfortable. As usual the closet doors open toward the bathroom door so you have to maneuver around to get stuff out. The bathroom was adequate but a tad smaller than we are used to. We were aware of the dreaded shower curtain having a life of its own so we followed other posters advice and brought over sized clothes pins to put on the bottom of the curtain to keep it in place. The shower had great water pressure but was waaaaay too small for a couple. The actual toilet area was small – I mean really small – I mean really tiny. We had no noise or cigarette smoke problems and there was no heavy elevator traffic or young kids running in the hallway.

Our room steward Trian Fernandes was fabulous and we enjoyed talking with him. This was his last cruise before going back home for 3 month vaca and even though he was thinking about going home, he was very pleasant, helpful and never showed any sign that he’d rather be somewhere else (we gave him extra money on day 1 and day 6). We didn’t make many requests of him but when we did, he was quick to oblige. He also spoke English very well so there were no communication issues. One low point (which no one could have anticipated) happened when a cabin down the hall flooded due to a water leak. A small amount of water got under our door and the staff had to vacuum it up and use a “blower” to dry the rug. Guest services fell over themselves apologizing for the inconvenience (which was no big deal) and offered us bottles of wine and a free dinner at a restaurant of our choice. Cabin = A-, attendant = A+

THE FOOD: We like the Freestyle dining so we can eat when and where we want but didn’t go to the MDR’s at all. We ate most meals at the buffet and sat in the outdoor area at the stern of the ship. On the last sea day we ate at the Teppanyaki (courtesy of the ship) which for me was the food highpoint of the cruise.

Buffet: Once we found the best times to eat, things were fine. Sometimes you have to hunt around for what you want since not all drink machines are available all the time BUT once you found out where stuff was, it was pretty much a certainty it would always be found there. Some offerings on the buffet weren’t that good but seafood, veggies, salads & fruit were my mainstay anyway and I never walked away hungry. Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon in the morning were among my favorites. B or B+

Bar service: Mostly frequented the bar by the pool - the bartender was busy but made good drinks - I tipped him extra each time. A-

Room service: Never used it. No grade

Teppanyaki: I admit it was free but we were thinking about eating there anyway. The seating started a little late but they gave us a complimentary bottle of wine (which we finished later in the cabin) and the chicken, steak and shrimp were very good. A+

Soda/drink packages: Never used them. No grade

SHORE EXCURSIONS: More info for each is in the Shore Excursion Reviews

Roatan: Little French Key - booked on our own. B+

Belize City: We booked the ship’s Bacab Jungle Park excursion. B+

Costa Maya: We booked Ya Ya Beach club on our own. B+

Cozumel: We didn’t book an excursion but shopped for souvenirs. C-

OTHER SERVICES/MISC:

Internet: We opted for the 100 minute plan + 10 minutes free (~$60 including activation) just so we could check e-mail a few times during the week. BE AWARE ----- the service is painfully SLOW. On the last day when everyone is working on confirming flights, the system w/b really slow. There is Wi-Fi available but I don’t know how well it works. C

We didn’t use the Spa although I used the gym in the early afternoons so I had no issues with finding an open T-mill, elliptical or life cycle. The treadmills, elliptical and pedal machines were in great shape and the weight machines were primo. Gym = A-

We didn’t buy any photo packages and ignored most photographers who tried to snap our pix. No grade

We didn’t go to the casino. No grade

Cruise Director and staff were often seen before shows in the Stardust Theater and around the ship. Nice people without being annoying. B+

We used Passengers’ Service desk to get printouts of our charges and the staff was courteous and professional. A-

The boutiques/stores had their usual “sales” which were mostly for jewelry, old stock and watches. We only bought a couple of small souvenirs. C

We did go to the Welcome Back party in the theater and the Observation Lounge wine and cheese party for the gold/platinum level folks. We went back to the Observation Lounge a few times for drinks and listen to the bands. As usual, we were too tired to attend the White Hot party. A- for what we did do

We attended some of the Stardust Theater shows: El Gaucho – a comedian who did some interesting stuff with a member of the audience; Look of Love – a song and dance presentation with music from Burt Bacharach; Richie Minierva – a comedian; Rock You Tonight – another song and dance presentation with a rock & roll flavor. Overall a grade of A- or A

DEBARKATION: We ate our breakfast in the Garden Cafe and then waited until they called our tag number to get in the final line which snaked around until we finally left the ship. It wasn’t a nightmare by any stretch but just one of those unpleasant things you have to do. After that we called the Quality Inn for the shuttle to the hotel. B

OVERALL: What a great time – good weather, calm seas, lots of food and good value for the price but it ended all too soon. It was also great to start off with $100 OBC which we spent on the ship shore excursion, drinks and internet. The ship never felt crowded. Just don’t wait until “rush hour” to eat or go to the shows. We’re already booked on the NCL Star for a 10 day cruise in Oct of 2016 but we purchased another $250 Future Cruise Certificate for use in the future. I would recommend this ship & itinerary and give it an overall grade of an A-
mojomorris’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BD 9073
We were on Deck 9 aft cabin 9073 – two decks directly below Lido and a few decks above one of the MDR’s. The balcony cabin was roomy enough for us and our luggage, the balcony was a good size (bigger than many on the newer ships) and the bed was comfortable. As usual the closet doors open toward the bathroom door so you have to maneuver around to get stuff out. The bathroom was adequate but a tad smaller than we are used to. We were aware of the dreaded shower curtain having a life of its own so we followed other posters advice and brought over sized clothes pins to put on the bottom of the curtain to keep it in place. The shower had great water pressure but was very small. The actual toilet area was really small.
Fjord Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Bacab Jungle Park
    We picked the basic Bacab Jungle Park excursion. There are four different excursions to the park: kayaking, biking, horse riding and the basic relax by the pool. All include lunch and transportation. The only issue is that Belize is a tendering port and you don’t have any time after this excursion to shop . Actually, we were the last group back to the pier to catch the last tender back to the ship but since it was an NCL excursion there was no worry about missing the ship. I'd go back again.
    View All 20 Bacab Jungle Park Reviews
  • Beach
    The biggest issue was finding your way OUT of the shopping area to catch a cab to take you to the Ya Ya Bach Club. Other than that, once you got there it was unlimited drinks and a nice area with umbrella on the beach. Food was not included but you can bring your own or buy at the beach. Wi Fi can be found at several places. Since it’s an open beach, there are peddlers selling things to you but they’re not very pushy and once you say “no, thank you” they leave you alone. You can leave at any time and take a cab back to the pier. It was inexpensive and I'd do it again.
    View All 331 Beach Reviews
  • Cozumel
    it was similar to a Wal Mart on Black Friday. Hordes of people…..and those were just the vendors trying to separate you from your money. There were at least 4 ships in port (possibly more) making shopping like the “Running Of The Bulls at Pamplona (Spain)” It’s just crazy with people and not fun…. We should have done an actual excursion.
    View All 6,660 Cozumel Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cozumel Cruise Port Review
  • Beach
    We booked Little French Key online directly after reading positive reviews on this site as well as Trip Advisor. It was a tad pricey (a bit under $200 for the two if us) & finding the group going there outside the pier area was kinda scary. Every local wants to drive you somewhere or walk with you. Now that I know where you need to meet your group I might go back. The place is really nice but unfortunately it was a windy day with rough waves which limited the snorkeling to the sheltered lagoon….Mother Nature doesn’t care what your plans are.
    View All 388 Beach Reviews