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Obviously, we intended to go to Cuba, but...well, that didn't happen. PORTS: This is my #1 purpose for cruising, so it gets a lot of weight on my opinion. After our timely departure from Port Canaveral (smooth, excellent in and out), we were scheduled to arrive in Key West 11 hours later at 3p. Once underway, they shifted it back another half-hour. Even though there were no other ships in Key West, we berthed at the inconvenient Outer Mole, so had to deal with the secure shuttle nonsense, which is basically land-tendering. The last embarkation group was allowed off the ship at 5p, but even if you weren't one of those unfortunates, what a complete waste of a port! We then backtracked way back north, arriving at Freeport, Grand Bahama around 11a. That was fine, I guess, but I'd rather get an earlier start in port than that, too. Enjoyed this port, great snorkeling at Dead Man's Reef. Our third and final port was Nassau, where we FINALLY were allowed to get an early start. Unfortunately, this was the worst of the three ports, and by far the worst port I've ever visited on any cruise. Our privately scheduled tour from Cheryl's Taxi never showed up, so we booked a tour on the street. That was a mistake. Nassau's poor reputation as a port is richly deserved. Obviously, there are many considerations in selecting an itinerary, but this one seemed designed to maximize sailing time at the expense of time in port, which is baffling. We could have had a lovely, full day in Grand Bahamas if we'd have stopped there first, and honestly, anywhere else would have been a better port than Nassau. DINING: The Lido buffet was no better or worse than any other ship's. The regular dining room's lunch and dinner was better than Carnival's but not as good as HAL. The Brazilian upcharge restaurant was totally worth it and I'd wholeheartedly recommend. The Le Bistro upcharge restaurant and the upcharge sushi restaurant were nothing special, wouldn't recommend, wouldn't try again. Would have been just as pleased with the fare in the regular dining room. DRINKING: Cocktails, wine and beer are included in the fare, and it was really nice not to have to run that tab. The liquor selection was quite good, and cocktails were generally well-mixed (I like 'em strong), but service could be hit-or-miss. ENTERTAINMENT: Awful. I love playing trivia and went to two trivia things which were both just...bleak. Karaoke was no better. Gave up on the comedy show after 10-15 minutes. Walked through a lounge where the "entertainment" was uncomfortably homophobic. Seriously? We're still doing this? Ugh. The cruise director was very difficult to understand over the ship's intercom system, to the extent that some of our party didn't know the muster drill was even underway until I telephoned them. They didn't sound the actual alarm until everyone had been standing in the assembly stations for 15 minutes or so. POOL: The pool is both saltwater and highly chlorinated and will absolutely melt your eyeballs right out of your head if you open up underwater. If anything on that ship deserves a cautionary sign, it's that pool. They never put deckchairs on the upper back deck away from the pool noise, which sucks, because that's the only place I actually wanted to sit on the deck because they played music at unendurably loud levels near the pool. I really hate listening to other people's music. STAFF: With a few conspicuous exceptions, the Sun's staff seemed very burnt-out. It's self-evident NCL needs to improve working conditions for its onboard staff. Everyone worked diligently, they all just seemed very exhausted. People need real time off. Period. CONCLUSION: I do sympathize with all the cruise lines that had to hastily change their itineraries, but this itinerary was just rubbish. Key West is ruined by a very late arrival and terribly inconvenient pier, Nassau is basically an enormous souvenir shop full of hustlers. A half-day at the lovely Grand Bahama Island just can't make up for that.

A Mighty Poor Substitute for Cuba

Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by Dread Pirate Anne Bonny

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2019
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Family Inside
Obviously, we intended to go to Cuba, but...well, that didn't happen.

PORTS: This is my #1 purpose for cruising, so it gets a lot of weight on my opinion. After our timely departure from Port Canaveral (smooth, excellent in and out), we were scheduled to arrive in Key West 11 hours later at 3p. Once underway, they shifted it back another half-hour. Even though there were no other ships in Key West, we berthed at the inconvenient Outer Mole, so had to deal with the secure shuttle nonsense, which is basically land-tendering. The last embarkation group was allowed off the ship at 5p, but even if you weren't one of those unfortunates, what a complete waste of a port! We then backtracked way back north, arriving at Freeport, Grand Bahama around 11a. That was fine, I guess, but I'd rather get an earlier start in port than that, too. Enjoyed this port, great snorkeling at Dead Man's Reef. Our third and final port was Nassau, where we FINALLY were allowed to get an early start. Unfortunately, this was the worst of the three ports, and by far the worst port I've ever visited on any cruise. Our privately scheduled tour from Cheryl's Taxi never showed up, so we booked a tour on the street. That was a mistake. Nassau's poor reputation as a port is richly deserved.

Obviously, there are many considerations in selecting an itinerary, but this one seemed designed to maximize sailing time at the expense of time in port, which is baffling. We could have had a lovely, full day in Grand Bahamas if we'd have stopped there first, and honestly, anywhere else would have been a better port than Nassau.

DINING: The Lido buffet was no better or worse than any other ship's. The regular dining room's lunch and dinner was better than Carnival's but not as good as HAL. The Brazilian upcharge restaurant was totally worth it and I'd wholeheartedly recommend. The Le Bistro upcharge restaurant and the upcharge sushi restaurant were nothing special, wouldn't recommend, wouldn't try again. Would have been just as pleased with the fare in the regular dining room.

DRINKING: Cocktails, wine and beer are included in the fare, and it was really nice not to have to run that tab. The liquor selection was quite good, and cocktails were generally well-mixed (I like 'em strong), but service could be hit-or-miss.

ENTERTAINMENT: Awful. I love playing trivia and went to two trivia things which were both just...bleak. Karaoke was no better. Gave up on the comedy show after 10-15 minutes. Walked through a lounge where the "entertainment" was uncomfortably homophobic. Seriously? We're still doing this? Ugh. The cruise director was very difficult to understand over the ship's intercom system, to the extent that some of our party didn't know the muster drill was even underway until I telephoned them. They didn't sound the actual alarm until everyone had been standing in the assembly stations for 15 minutes or so.

POOL: The pool is both saltwater and highly chlorinated and will absolutely melt your eyeballs right out of your head if you open up underwater. If anything on that ship deserves a cautionary sign, it's that pool. They never put deckchairs on the upper back deck away from the pool noise, which sucks, because that's the only place I actually wanted to sit on the deck because they played music at unendurably loud levels near the pool. I really hate listening to other people's music.

STAFF: With a few conspicuous exceptions, the Sun's staff seemed very burnt-out. It's self-evident NCL needs to improve working conditions for its onboard staff. Everyone worked diligently, they all just seemed very exhausted. People need real time off. Period.

CONCLUSION: I do sympathize with all the cruise lines that had to hastily change their itineraries, but this itinerary was just rubbish. Key West is ruined by a very late arrival and terribly inconvenient pier, Nassau is basically an enormous souvenir shop full of hustlers. A half-day at the lovely Grand Bahama Island just can't make up for that.
Dread Pirate Anne Bonny’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Family Inside
Cabin I1
CABINS: Two of us shared a family interior cabin on 9 forward, and it was absolutely outstanding. Scrupulously clean, spacious, quiet, a bedside USB charging port on each side, great lighting, more than adequate storage, the AC was very responsive, everything smelled fine and worked perfectly. Water temperature and pressure was great, but the shower itself is smaller than average.

Service was thorough, prompt, and reliable, if a bit "no-frills." That is to say, if you insist on chocolates on your pillow and daily towel animals, look elsewhere. I could care less about that and would rather the stewards get to bed at a reasonable hour.
Norway Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    Went to Paradise Cove to snorkel Dead Man's Reef. It's not Roatan, but it's definitely better than average for Caribbean snorkling. Very casual beach club. Cold beers, good snacks, nice folks.
    View All 92 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Key West
    We arrive at 330p at the Outer Mole pier, even though there were no ships berthed at either of the two convenient downtown piers. After the usual porting rigamarole, it was 5p before the last debarkation group stepped off the ship, and then they still had to ride the secure trams through the naval installation to downtown. Even those who got off in the early groups to go shopping felt rushed. No private excursion company ran anything during these weird hours. Port was just a complete waste.
    View All 1,802 Key West Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Island Tour
    Cheryl's Taxi blew off our longstanding reservation, then to add insult to injury, they blamed US for their no-show. We're experienced travelers and cruisers, and this has never happened before. We booked a island tour on the roadside, which was a mistake. He drove us to a shop that sells the same rum cake you can buy anywhere, then to a tea shop that claimed to cure cancer (!?!), then to Atlantis, where I guess we were supposed to...wander around the hotel lobby? The only real landmark we saw was the old fort and the Queen's Steps, which was neat. We asked to see the John Watlings Distillery decided to stay, tipped the driver, got some drinks, then walked back to port. I definitely wouldn't recommend anyone do an island tour of Nassau. Actually, I wouldn't recommend anyone even go to Nassau.
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  • Port Canaveral (Orlando)
    This place gets you in and out pronto. Top-notch.
    View All 2,157 Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Port Reviews
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