We were looking forward to the cruise from Miami to Los Angeles as a luxurious couple of weeks visiting some exotic ports in Central America as well as going through the Panama Canal.
Boarding was relatively quick and easy, taking less than an hour. We ate in the buffet while the rooms were being prepared and then wandered around looking at the facilities that seemed quite good. We could get into the cabins at around 2pm and the room was large with a decent size window. The cabin was near the end of a dead-end corridor so that it was very quiet for most of the time although there was sometime a little scraping noise from the restaurant above.
The emergency evacuation drill was straightforward, but then I encountered the first problem with bar staff who had no idea how to serve people in the order they arrived. It was like I was invisible as they ignored me and served people who had just arrived. This was a problem with most of the bars throughout the cruise. The only bar which had bartenders that were efficient was at the back of Deck 11. I would say that the bartenders in the Dazzles Bar were particularly surly. Surliness seemed to be a trait of many of the staff on the Norwegian Sun.
We spent quite a bit of time playing trivia and other indoor activities because it was near impossible to get a deckchair around the main pool. It seemed as if people dropped towels and other objects on the deckchairs to reserve them early in the morning and they seemed to be empty for a lot of the day. It would be better if the ship policed its policy that deck chairs were not to be reserved. But, like many other things on the cruise, the staff didn’t seem to care.
We did a couple of shore excursions through the ship and thought they were expensive and not worth the money. You were crammed onto a completely full bus and couldn’t really hear the guide when we went walking. There always seemed to be a lot of time wasted before we got onto the bus. It was also annoying to have to sign a disclaimer before the bus tour commenced. I would have liked to have been able to read the disclaimer before deciding to do the excursion.
We did a day tour from Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala to the Mayan ruins at Tikal. This was the highlight of the cruise. I had wanted to go to Tikal since first going to Mexico in 1984 and I was not disappointed. The excursion was expensive, but it included a one-hour charter flight to Flores, then an hour bus ride to the ruins. We had about 2 hours in the ruins before returning to Flores for lunch and the return flight. I can’t recommend this excursion enough.
We met some people on board who had arranged a private tour in Costa Rica which they let us join and we had a fantastic time. The highlights were the crocodiles and the monkeys. The driver pulled off the road and the guide got out, clapped his hands and yelled “Hey Monkey” and the monkeys came. We did a cruise with the crocodiles which was amazing, and later on walked across a bridge and looked down at about 30 crocodiles milling about.
The food in the buffet was always plentiful and tasty although it was sometimes difficult to get a seat. The freestyle dining in the main dining room was also very good and we never had to wait long for a table.
Now for the negatives. The ship was basically a construction zone as NCL was sanding and resurfacing some of the decks. We weren’t told before departure that they would be working on the ship. They didn’t tell us in advance what would be closed for the day. It was not unusual for half the pool deck to be closed which exacerbated the chronic shortage of deckchairs. We were exposed to lots of particulates in the air from the deck sanding and potential toxic chemicals from the coating put on the deck. There was also a lot of jackhammering and the funnel was cleaned which caused a lot of white stuff to go all over the deck and the passengers sunbathing. Some also went into the outside restaurant which they eventually closed.
A lot of the crew seemed to be reflecting the unhappiness of the passengers and some were surly and not helpful. It didn’t help that there were lots of contractors roaming the corridors wearing NCL identification but who were extremely unpleasant.
The captain addressed a meeting of several hundred concerned (and angry) passengers where he said that it wasn't his fault and he couldn't do anything about the issues. His first question was from an irate passenger and the captain stormed out to boos. I don't believe that we ever saw him again. This was an absolutely pitiful response from the person supposedly in charge of the ship. It seemed that the Guest Relations staff spent a lot of time writing complaints from passengers.
Worst of all, NCL compromised our safety by closing half the muster stations and lifeboats for over 3 days without having a backup evacuation plan. This seems criminally negligent to me and I believe that they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The mandatory evacuation drill became a farce. I asked Guest Relations what the backup plan was, and they said that the closed deck that contained the lifeboats would “probably” be opened. My sister asked and was told that in the event of an emergency the Captain would allocate new muster stations and inform us (no double while he was trying to stop the boat from sinking). Some friends asked and were told to just go to the lifeboats on the other side of the ship that were still open. What a joke.
A couple of days before the end of the cruise the Cruise Director, Jasper, told me that my next cruise should be on Carnival. I can assure him that I would probably be happy with any cruise line that does not put my health and safety at risk for the sake of saving money.
Their response to date had been inadequate and woeful. It was only after the US media started highlighting the problems with the cruise that NCL offered to credit part of the cruise cost paid against a future cruise. That assumes that I would ever trust NCL again.
Don’t waste your money with NCL. Find a reputable cruise line that respects their passengers.
A quite large cabin in a good position with hardly any through traffic in the corridor. A few strange noises at night, but generally quiet. The porthole was quite large.
The fortress was good and there was some time for shopping but the tour was too big. We didn't know that it was a bi-lingual tour so we spent a great deal of time listening to the alternative commentary.View All 48 Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas Reviews
A great small group tour. Saw monkeys, crocodiles.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We did the day excursion to Tikal which was fantastic. Although expensive, it was worth every cent.
The Cliff Divers were good but there was so much indecision before we got on the bus that all of the from row viewing area was gone by the time we arrived. I think it would be better to catch a taxi and maybe eat or buy a drink and view from one of the balconies.View All 28 Quebrada Cliff Divers Reviews
First to a glass factory which was pretty much a waste of time. Then to San Jose del Cabo which was quite underwhelming. We stopped at a restaurant overlooking the beach for a drink which was pretty impressive. I think the best thing to do here would be to get a small group together and hire a boat for some snorkelling.View All undefined undefined Reviews
The blowhole was quite nice and it was good to walk through all of the shops. The walk through the city was good and the free margarita was a great way to end the tour.View All 82 Blowhole Walking Tour Reviews