We thoroughly enjoyed the 18 day Panama Canal full transit cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun! The cruise ports with sea days interspersed allowed for a nice combination of relaxation and activities.
The ship just came out of dry dock and it looked beautiful. All the public rooms including the Spinnaker lounge on the top deck were lovely.
We sailed out of Seattle and had superb weather the entire time.
Our first stop was Victoria and we loved walking through downtown and stopping at the nearby Craigdarroch Castle, government buildings and gorgeous gardens. We met charming locals who were very helpful with directions,
We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge with the sun coming up and it was spectacular. We docked in San Francisco and we took a day trip to Alcatraz. The Alcatraz pier was a leisurely 10 minute walk from where our ship docked. It was a fantastic day there. The tour of Alcatraz was top notch and the views from Alcatraz were gorgeous. Be sure to get tickets for Alcatraz at least a month before your arrival. It is almost impossible to walk up and get a ticket otherwise.
We had a couple sea days after that and I was able to visit the Mandara spa which was very relaxing.
We continued our journey with stops at Cabo, Acapulco, Puntarenas and Cartagena and enjoyed all those ports too. We took a tour in Acapulco and saw the cliff divers and gorgeous views from the mountains surrounding the ocean.
The Panama Canal Transit was a highlight of the trip.
The ship had a narrator on board for the transit and he was very informative and provided excellent commentary the entire day. The transit took most of the daylight hours of one day and it was beautiful. We viewed most of the transit from Deck 6 and we were up close, within an arm’s length of the locks.
Deck 6 on the Sun is a wonderful place to walk for exercise as well as taking in the magnificent ocean views. There were about 25 lounge chairs on this deck and they could have used another 25. Many people liked to relax, read or enjoy the ocean views and the lounge chairs were usually occupied.
Our cabin had new carpet and furniture and was in excellent condition. We had an inside cabin and it was the largest and nicest one we have ever had. It had a separate sofa, lots of storage and floor space. We were on deck 8. Our cabin steward, Jefferson, did a great job of keeping the cabin spotless.
The food was very good in all the venues we tried. We enjoyed the freestyle dining and the main dining rooms had a fine variety of main courses, appetizers, salads, and desserts. The peanut butter cheesecake was a favorite.
We had excellent wait staff including Cherylynn, head waiter in the Moderno during breakfast and lunch and Melroy, waiter in the Four Seasons.
We were impressed by Cruise Director, Jasper and his staff who seemed to work diligently night and day with smiles on their faces. Jasper would close every evening with "remember to worry less and smile more" which is good advice for life in general.
The entertainment was very good too. We had a nice variety of singers, a comedian, magician and juggler.
The casino did not seem that busy on this cruise and the smoke was not too bad. There are only a few areas which allow smoking, which we liked.
The areas that we thought needed improvement were the embarkation and debarkation processes. In Seattle, they ran out of embarkation numbers and this caused a problem. There were many disgruntled guests who felt they had waited in line only to have new arrivals board the ship ahead of them.
Also, Norwegian cruise excursions were given priority debarkation in ports and passengers with independent tour arrangements need to be careful when booking tours so that there is ample time to make travel connections when in port. The itinerary may indicate that the ship is in port from 9-5 but you may not actually get off the ship at that exact time if the ship needs to go through immigration like it did when entering San Francisco from Victoria. If you have early independent travel scheduled and time is of the essence, you may need to go to the areas where the NCL tours are disembarking early. We only found this out incidentally after asking several staff members.
We had a wonderful trip aboard the Norwegian Sun and loved the size of the ship and the excellent crew and amentities. We sailed on the Epic at Thanksgiving, but we actually prefer the Sun!
Thanks to all who made this cruise a favorite memory for our family!