Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by Esperanza7
- Sail Date: February 2016
- Destination: South America
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
We booked this cruise on the Sun 9 months before departure and did a fair amount of research/recommendations beforehand. We knew the ship was older – we knew it was going into dry dock not too long after our cruise and we knew there was a fair possibility of missing ports due to weather conditions and tendering difficulties. It was quite a different cruise itinerary to the ones we normally do.
We decided to spend 3 nights in Valparaiso. Very interesting town and lots of unusual places to visit. The upper part of the town is accessible by walking or funiculars. If you have time a day trip to Viña del Mar is really worth it.
Very strange process with a pre check-in at the cruise terminal. A bus ride from the terminal to the port and then a further check-in on the ship! Not an NCL fault, just the logistics of the port, location, etc.
Meet & Greet
The Meet & Greet was very well attended by almost all the people who signed up. There was also a very good turn out by the senior crew members who came to meet and talk to us. Their presence was appreciated and we had a very enjoyable time socialising. Towards the end of the cruise we had a Cruise Critic Lunch which hopefully was enjoyed by those that attended. Thank you to May for all the help.
State of Ship
The Sun is an older ship and does show signs of wear and tear. However, it wasn’t as bad a some people made out. It does need some modernisation and part of that may be done when she goes into dry dock. Particular areas for me that need to be addressed are the buffet area and also the seating in the theatre which does not have enough gradient from front to back.
There was almost no one in the casino during the two week cruise. Not exactly sure why but it was a shame to see all the croupiers standing at empty tables. Slot machines seemed to be more in favour. I loved a recent cruise we did where the casino was no smoking so didn’t smell. Maybe that could help.
Really nice shopping area with a good selection of products, especially in the area of ‘pharmacy and things you might need’. Probably the best I’ve seen on any cruise ship to date.
Mid ship balcony – deck 9. Comfortable bed, spacious and kept really clean and well serviced by our cabin steward. (He got a Hero report from me!) Never had to ask for anything more than the first time and the cabin was always ready by the time we went back to it. He got to know our routine very quickly! Plenty of storage space and even the bathroom was a bit more spacious than other NCL ships we’ve been on. Would be nice to have a bit bigger table on the balcony and it’s time that the ship went interactive on the television system. Also there should be a channel that picks up announcements made over the loudspeaker system more of the time. You need to know about tenders, port disembarkation, activities, etc. without having to go and open your cabin door to hear them!!.
The majority of crew members were happy, smiling and very friendly. (Always the odd exception!) With the majority of tips prepaid or added automatically, there’s not that tendency to ‘overwork’ the tips!. However, we still tend to give a little extra to those that deserve it.
Overall, there was plenty of food available on the ship at all times! We had the ultimate beverage package which worked very well.
Having read a lot about the new main dining room menus, we decided to try them out before making any decisions regarding speciality restaurants. We found these menus very good. 15 day rotation, so always something different each evening. Plenty of choice, good size portions, favourites kept on the starters menu in addition the daily dishes. All the food was good quality, nicely presented and the hot dishes were hot! Very nice desserts too. We also liked the idea of having 3 ‘a la carte’ items on the menu for those that wanted something different without needing to go to a speciality restaurant. Perfect for families.
MDR Seven seas v Four Seasons
Both main dining rooms were very nice but overall we much preferred the Four Seasons. Really good service and much less ‘busy’ than the Seven Seas. Four seasons waiters were smiling, friendly and Solomon, whose tables we managed to sit on each evening, was both efficient and professional. (Another Hero report!)
Stayed away from this area as much as possible. The design is not good and you have to line to reach the dishes you want. Bit like a school canteen. Food was reasonable with a fair selection. Like most buffet areas there is never enough seating and at busy times that often meant food going cold or having to take it in turns to get your food.
Las Ramblas Tapas Bar
Living in Spain I don’t understand why this venue is actually called a Tapas Bar! About 5 uninteresting dishes on offer and they certainly didn’t look very appetising. I think someone from this department needs to research exactly what a Tapas Bar actually is.
La Cucina (VIP)
The Suit/VIP guests get to use this restaurant exclusively for breakfast & lunch. No complaints here regarding the quality of food or the service. However, the menus remained exactly the same for the entire 15 days. I would also add that these limited menus have not changed for at least the last 3 years!! If you want to eat lunch there every day it’s quite a problem!
Didn’t eventually eat in any of the speciality restaurants. We’ve done this numerous times on other NCL ships but with the MDR food being more than adequate, we didn’t feel it was necessary.
Some shows were better than others but again that’s down to personal taste. We particularly enjoyed the Pampas Diablos. The Sun Showband was very good especially when playing at different venues. Their Dixieland evening in the Windjammer was brilliant and had people standing and sitting all round the aisles surrounding the bar! Greg the pianist was also very entertaining. There is music and dance provided for everyone and of course my favourite ‘The White Hot Party’!
Roberto is a really good cruise director. Always around and very friendly and approachable. He also has a good team.
Plenty of dance classes, lessons, trivia, bingo, exhibitions, lectures, etc. so there was always something you could do.
Ports of Call
Ports of call were almost as planned with the exception of the Falkland Islands where Captain Goran decided the weather conditions were not good enough for tendering. I support his decision (although not a popular one!) as we had already had some problems a few days before in Las Arenas (where lack of information from the ship didn’t help!). Having experienced a situation in Esperance, Australia. where 1100 people were stuck on shore till 11pm at night, it would have been a bad situation in the Falklands where there are very little in the way of facilities. I would add that the Oceania Regatta which was shadowing us and another smaller ship, didn’t dock there that day either. The Captain at least made up for it a bit by getting us to Puerto Madryn a day earlier.
We did three NCL excursions which we enjoyed, Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco & Ushuaia and made our own arrangements for the other ports.
Disembarkation was really easy, having been given back our passports a couple of days before. Again you had to take a bus from the ship to the cruise terminal where your luggage was waiting. As we disembarked about 9.30am we got a bus straight away and there was only a short line for taxis at the terminal.
We stayed 5 days in Buenos Aires. Amazing city and would really like to go back. Stay as long as you can, there’s just so much to see.
Overall we had a really great holiday and NCL remains a favourite cruise line for us as it really suits our life style very well. Additional thanks to Rico for his time and to Domnic. Now looking forward to the Panama Canal next year!!
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