Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by Gregwhiz
- Sail Date: September 2016
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
- Cabin Type: Aft-Facing Balcony
Before we even got on the ship, we had an issue with NCL. This was supposed to be a Mexican Riviera cruise but NCL changed the itinerary to a Panama Canal transit. We had done a Panama Canal transit less than a year ago but decided to stay with this new plan. In fairness, NCL did offer to refund our fare. Curiously, once we decided to stay with this new itinerary, NCL charged us and addition $450 or so in taxes. We did get a $25 credit per person but it all just left a bad taste. Lost a star here.
The lifeboat drill was a joke. It usually is but we did not even practice putting on the life vest. I also did not get the feeling that the crew took it very seriously either.
On our 1st day at sea, I witnessed what appeared to be a near drowning in one of the hot tubs on the pool deck. At around 11am, a very large guest, who probably should not have been in the hot tub in the first place, lost his balance and fell in head first. I seriously doubt he could have righted himself. Luckily, 2 other guest were in the hot tub and able to lend assistance. The funny thing is that I saw NO crew members anywhere. Usually, there are some waiters around but not at this moment. We related the incident to a member of the management team. I noticed that there seemed to be at least 1 crew member around from this point on. I am not blaming NCL for anything but I wonder where everyone was.
Speaking of service and such, I was disappointed by the customer service desk. I was on my way to a shore excursion and wanted to get some change for tips. I was told that the personnel manning the position could not give out change until later in the morning. Huh? That was a head scratcher. I want to add though that I was pleased with the crew other than this situation.
The dining room was OK but there were a number of entrees that cost extra. I expect to pay extra in the specialty restaurants but not in the dining room. We ate in the dining room a couple of times. Once I had a steak which was not too good. Service was fair. We went to the Italian and the French specialty restaurants. I felt both of these were excellent. The rest of the time we ate at the buffet which was good enough. I noticed an odd thing about the way the ship scheduled the buffet line availability. At about the time when a lot of folks were returning from excursions, mid afternoon, there was just the small buffet at the back of the ship open. It seemed a lot of people were hungry just then resulting in longish lines. At other times the lines were not bad and seating available.
Speaking of extra charges, why isn't water included in the Ultimate Beverage Package? Seems odd to pay for this perk and then get nicked extra for a bottle of water. Note to self, bring a water bottle next time and fill up in the room.
This ship had the worst sports bar ever. Mostly they showed was soccer, golf, and tennis. They have NFL football Sunday, Monday night and Thursday night. A number of people wanted to watch the major league baseball playoffs but were told the ship did not get that channel. Lame, lame, lame given the mix of guests on board the ship.
If you like a lot of action in the casino, this might not be the cruise for you. A lot of the time, the game tables were manned but no one was playing. The slots did not seem all that busy either. My favorite game is Craps but too often no one else was playing. I guess there weren't many gamblers on this cruise. Most of the guests were of a retirement age so it may be that many folks turned in early.
The entertainment was good except for the hypnotist. What a waste of vacation time. The show was very poorly attended and we left early. I liked the production numbers the best and was pleased with the 4 Seasons review. My suggestion is to sit in the balcony on deck 7. Great view of the stage.
During our previous transit of the Panama Canal, there was a great deal of cultural enrichment opportunities including history of the canal and port lectures. This was lacking on the Sun. There was a narration as we transited the canal but I felt the lecturer was not at all enthusiastic.
Disembarkation was a mess. We were with the red tag group. We were called an hour later than scheduled. If that weren't enough, during our transfer to the Ft. Lauderdale airport that we purchased from NCL, the bus broke down. We spent an additional 45 minutes before another bus showed up. To make matters worse, some of the guests had to help with the luggage transfer just to speed things up. The corker was when we were all loaded on the "rescue" bus and the driver from the 1st bus went down the aisle looking for tips.Ya just can't make this stuff up.
There were six stops on this itinerary.
Cabo - You need to tender in here. Tendering was slow due to the sea conditions. I felt the crew did a good job dealing with the seas. In this case, we ended up staying in the port.
Acapulco - We saw the cliff divers and the San Diego fort. Be prepared for heat. I thought our guide was going to pass out. The cliff divers were cool but it would not be worth a 2nd visit in my opinion. It would also be easy to do the San Diego fort on your own. It is right across the bridge from where the ship docks.
Guatemala - We climbed the Pacaya volcano. This is a very rigorous excursion that I enjoyed a great deal. If you are not in shape, seriously consider taking one of the horses up. It costs extra but is well worth the view. I highly recommend this excursion.
Nicaragua - We went to the boiling mud pots and toured the cathedral in Leon. This is a very worthwhile excursion. Our guide was great. Be aware that there is not much to do where the ship docks.
Costa Rica - I did the zip line. It was fun and very safe. My wife climbed a waterfall which she enjoyed.
Cartagena - We went to the fort which was fantastic. We had a good guide. Be ready for the heat and humidity. We also went to the old city but got caught in a torrential rain. Oh well.
I hope I wasn't too negative. I did enjoy the cruise but there are a number of ways it could be improved.
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Our steward Tedi did a great job keeping things in order and helping out.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Fort San DiegoInteresting but many of the displays were in Spanish which I cannot read. This is right across from where the ship docks so it would be easy to just visit this site on your own.View All 6 Fort San Diego Reviews
Quebrada Cliff DiversCheck this off the bucket list. Try to get a spot along the wall.View All 22 Quebrada Cliff Divers Reviews
Cabo San LucasEnded up staying in port shopping. Next time we may try snorkeling.View All 1,322 Cabo San Lucas Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Cabo San Lucas Cruise Port Review
San DiegoWe came in the night before and stayed at Humphrey's. They have frequent concerts and a great lounge.View All 291 San Diego Cruise Port Reviews
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