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Norwegian Sun Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,215 Reviews

GREAT Panama Canal Cruise from San Francisco on the Norwegian Sun

Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by JoanieBlon

1 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2017
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Picture Window

We chose this cruise because we wanted to do a full transit of the Panama Canal. It left from San Francisco and sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was wonderful. We also enjoy "Fleet Week" activities by the Blue Angel Navy team while waiting to sail!

We had been on a previous cruise on Norwegian Sun and liked the intimacy of this smaller ship.

We decided to book and Oceanview Stateroom for the first time and were delighted with it!

Freestyle dining was typical of other NCL cruises we have been on ~ decent to good food selections, but nothing outstanding. Dining room service was excellent. We also enjoyed meals in the specialty restaurants Cagney's Steakhouse and La Cucina.

We only attended one evening show, but it was fun. We enjoyed the talented singers and dancers.

Service, in general, was EXCELLENT! No complaints. Bartenders Jeffrey and Jerry, who worked the evening hours in the Champagne Bar (as well as other locations during the day on the ship) were OUTSTANDING! Simply THE BEST bartenders we have EVER encountered ANYWHERE!!! They have taken positions on other NCL ships, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that they might return to the Sun before we sail on her again in March 2019.

We had visited several of the ports in the itinerary on another cruise, but they were OK to see again. We were NOT thrilled with the port of Puerto Chiapas, even though there was a VERY NICE tourist area with a huge palapa roofed building and pool adjacent to the dock. Most of the people enjoying the pool there seemed to be crew members. We would have prefered to call at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which is sometimes offered in the itinerary, so we could see the well preserved historic city of Antigua and near by volcanoes. The city of Tapachula, about 20 miles inland from Puerto Chiapas was definitely NOTHING special. My husband and I have traveled quite extensively in Mexico and this city was a huge disappointment. We took the shuttle back after about 20 minutes.

In Costa Rica, we were redirected to the commercial container port of Puerto Caldera instead of calling at Puntarenas, as scheduled. Apparently there was a Princess ship that had top priority that docked there. The commercial port had NOTHING in the way of tourist attractions or services, as far as we could tell. It was located about 30 minutes from the cruise ship area, so people wanting to visit there had to purchase shuttle tickets at $20 per person, if I heard correctly. We had a private tour booked, so weren't affected.

The transit through the Panama Canal was simply OUTSTANDING! We will be doing it again on the Norwegian Sun in March 2019 as a part of a cruise from Santiago Chile.

Sailing into Cartagena Colombia was wonderful! The tall, white, modern buildings of the modern city skyline were breathtaking. There is a VERY nice tourist area adjacent to the dock with cafes, a zoo, a huge gift shop and more. We took a taxi into the city and did our own walking tour of the historic area with its fantastic, colorful buildings. We were in Cartagena about mid October and it was absolutely SWELTERING and breathless. I have lived in Tampa Florida and south Louisiana for 20+ years and am not bothered by heat and humidity, but THIS took it to a new level! Be prepared to SWEAT!

Disembarkation in Miami was quick and easy. We took the NCL shuttle to the Miami airport. We did not book ANY NCL shore excursions on this trip.

Ports of call were San Francisco, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco (loved this port and would like to visit there again independently!), Puerto Chiapas, Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Panama Canal transit (no stops), Cartagena and Miami.

Would I do this same itinerary again. No, but I am glad that we did it. We will be on the Sun again and will call at Puntarenas (hopefully!), do the Panama Canal transit again, and Cartagena, with the cruise ending in Miami.

JoanieBlon's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Oceanview Picture Window
Cabin OC 7013

Cabin 7013 was the PERFECT cabin for my husband and me. Located mid-ship, just up a small ramp from the Atrium and Champagne Bar, with our favorite bartenders EVER, Jeffrey and Jerry! It was close to stairs and elevators, as well, which made getting around the ship a breeze.

It has sufficient space for 2 adults to be comfortable. One BIG perk in this category on the Sun is that we had a little sofa (bed) to sit on! MUCH nicer than a hard backed chair. There was quite a bit of storage space. The bathroom, although small, was OK for even my 6'3" BIG husband. We liked the cabin so much, we are currently booked in 7012 for an upcoming cruise!

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