Being in close quarters with your spouse for 17 days, not to mention hundreds of other passengers and crew, sounds like a good way to get cranky and swear off cruising for life. On the contrary, we found ourselves savoring the voyage, enjoying each other and wonderful new friends, regretfully noting the few days remaining as we left each port.
Maybe it was the unique itinerary - a good balance of sea and port days repositioning from San Diego through fascinating and diverse locations in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, northern and central Peru, and northern and central Chile. We envied the few who were staying on to travel past Cape Horn to Buenos Aires and beyond to Rio de Janeiro. The sea days provided a good variety of activities, including Spanish and Bridge lessons, and interesting and informative talks about medical history from the ship's physician, along with everything else you would expect (bingo, casino, trivia, sports, gym, fitness classes, shows, karaoke, art auctions, etc.) The music was great - even for a relatively small ship you could walk from area to area and find different musicians to suit your taste. At the ports you had lots of choices between ship excursions, organizing your own tour, or just taking a taxi. Many of the ports are set up for commercial shipping and you cannot just walk off the ship to a cafe with free wifi - fortunately, free shuttle service is provided to the area where you can find a tour or grab a taxi. The most inconvenient of these is Valparaiso, where we disembarked. First you need a shuttle to take you to the Customs area; then another shuttle out to where you can get a tour or a taxi, or simply hop on the local transit train. Considering the potential for confusion, disembarkation went very smoothly. I hope some of the ports recognize the economic potential in cruise ship traffic and make improvements some day.
There were subtle changes we noticed from our last cruise, one year earlier and also on the Sun. The food was noticeably better. The recent merger with the luxury line Prestige has seemed to have improved Norwegian's food choices, flavor and presentation. Now, if they could only hold off on the salt in their broths and sauces. Service in the dining rooms - specialty and free - was impeccable and staff went out of their way to accommodate requests. They were pro-active in letting guests know: "if you need anything, just ask".
You really notice the difference between a mini-suite and a balcony on the Sun. We had a mini-suite on another ship and the only noticeable difference between the mini-suite and balcony was a bathtub, which we never used. Save your $$ if on any other ship. On the Sun, however, you can see the additional roominess in the main cabin. The sweet spot is the bathroom, which includes a spacious, open clothes closet; lots of drawers for clothing and toiletry storage; and a sit-down vanity with lighted mirror. A glass door separates the vanity and sink area from the bathing area and toilet. It also includes a large tub if you need it (we didn't) although it is high to climb in and out of to take a shower. They could easily do away with the tubs and replace with a large shower.
A beautiful city. Don't expect to go through security before 10:30 - even though the cruise line allows you to pick an arrival time as early as 9:30.
Beautiful bay and beach. You can get a taxi to "Centro" for about $8 to explore the church and square. Good wifi at the Holiday Inn lobby (walking distance to the port). Lots of waterfront restaurants for lunch, snacks or a drink - ask how much their drinks are before you order. We were surprised at one place that charged $4 each for local beer (only $2 at the Centro square).
Not much close to this port. Book a tour or bus to take you to Antigua - about a 2 hour drive with views of the 4 volcanoes in the area. The gods must have been happy to see us as one volcano gave us a show with thick billows of black smoke. We booked the "Antigua on your own" tour from the ship and valued the guide who provided excellent commentary on the geography and social and economic history of the area.