New holiday tradition: Norwegian Sun Cruise Review by CindyBoMo

Norwegian Sun 5
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

New holiday tradition

Sail Date: December 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
Let me preface this review with the fact that I was a travel agent for 18 years prior to 9/11 but this was only my second cruise. I'm aware of the different types of travelers and what was important or unimportant to me might be different for you.

I decided that staying home for the normal holiday family drama was not in the cards for me and decided to book a vacation that would be relaxing and didn't involve much stress. A cruise was the perfect choice. I waited until 3 weeks prior to departure to book and still got a good fare and was even upgraded.

These cruises are an amazing feat of timing and organization. 2000 guest and 900 staff have to be fed and entertained. I was impressed with the positive and friendly attitudes of all of the staff. It really is amazing considering the sheer volume of humans that roll through a ship week end and week out.

Our cabin 4247 was a typical cruise ship cabin. Everything is tiny, but it was adequate. You can stow 4 More full-size suitcases under the beds and we managed to unpack all of our clothes in the closet and drawers provided. If you care nothing about the room other than a place to sleep, book a cheap cabin and spend your money on excursions. If you like to spend private time alone, book a stateroom with a balcony. If there are more than 2 of you, it's cramped. I shared a room with my 18 year old son and it was easier than I thought it would be. We really were only in the cabin at the same time to sleep.

I enjoyed "Freestyle Cruising" and the choice of restaurants. It was nice to be able to go to the 7 Seas or 4 Seasons for a sit-down dinner without a reservation and whenever I felt hungry. It was also nice to get my new-found friends together for dinner and not be stuck with assigned dining companions.

Cruise ship food is what it is. They are cooking for 2000 people, 3000 if you include the staff. They are also trying to accommodate a multitude of palettes. There was typical American fare as well as a selection of Indian cuisine on the buffet and the salad bar had a great selection. Hamburgers and hotdogs could be found everyday at the buffet as well as freshly grilled on the pool deck in the afternoons.

There is an icecream bar in the main buffet as well as soft serve in the aft buffet. That seemed to be a hit with everyone as there was nearly always a line.

The 7 Seas main dining room is on the 5th deck aft and the food and staff seemed more accommodating than it's sister MDR, 4 Seasons, which is on the same deck mid-ship. We also ate at the French restaurant, Le Bistro, one night (dress up night) and the service was fantastic. Although the table next to us brought an over-tired toddler to a 9PM dinner and she cried which spoiled the atmosphere. (Don't bring your baby to a French bistro at 9PM!)

The White Party: I don't know if it's like this on every cruise, but the first hour is open to everyone including children. The dance floor was a mosh pit of pre-teens. They had to leave after an hour, but then it was 18-22 year olds who were basically standing there not dancing, so no one else could dance either except of the edges of the dance floor. I had heard this party was on the pool deck, but on our cruise it was at Dazzles and really too small a venue to hold everyone.

Smoking: If you smoke you are limited to very few places. The Promenade deck and port sides of the pool deck and deck 12. No smoking in any of the restaurants or bars and there is no cigar bar. You can also smoke in the casino. As of January 2012, no smoking in your cabin unless you have a balcony.

Casino: Total snooze fest!

Shore excursions: Keep in mind that you will not see very much of your destination ports on a cruise. You will see port shopping at port prices. The cruise line does not force you to purchase their excursions, but they do make you fear booking with other vendors. If you book with them and are late returning they will hold the boat, if you book elsewhere they say they will leave you if you are late. You also pay 30-50% more booking through the excursion desk and they are reluctant to refund money if the excursion was a disaster. If you book on your own and pay by credit card, you'll have a better chance of getting your money back if the experience was terrible.

My best advice is to check with the concierge desks of local high-end resorts for recommendations. It might cost you a phone call, but you'll save money in the end. Many islands have large tour operators who can offer all of the same adventures. The internet is also your friend and reading reviews is helpful.

Cocktails, beer, and wine: I found the prices to be comparative to US restaurants. A glass of wine with dinner $15, martini $14, drink of the day $8. If you like wine I believe you can bring it aboard but must pay corkage of $10. It is still cheaper to pay corkage than double the price of a bottle of wine which is what all restaurants do including cruise restaurants. They will tag your bottle and it goes to a cellar and will be available to you no matter what dining room you are eating in.

Tips and Tricks: Water, tea, coffee and milk are the only free drinks. At breakfast there is OJ, cranberry and apple juice but they turn that off after breakfast. If you like juice or soda, buy the softdrink pass for $70 per person, OR you can bring your own. You are allowed to bring aboard cases of water or sodas with your luggage. A large bottle of water on board is $7. This really only works if you are driving to your port.

The number one piece of advice I can give to anyone traveling whether on a cruise or otherwise is relax and smile. Your attitude will be reflected back to you. Kindness and respect is the international currency. If one thing goes badly, take a deep breath and wait for it to pass. If you meet new people who are constantly complaining that everything is awful, avoid them. Attitudes are contagious.

Bottom line, we had a great time, made new friends, saw new places and would go back again. Less

Published 01/04/12

Cabin review: OF4247 Mid-Ship Oceanview Porthole Window

Cabin 4247 I liked the location. It is starboard aft which meant we had a view of the ports as we pulled in and out. It's low and we could watch the wake of the boat. It is also very convenient to the 7 Seas MDR. There are only a few elevators that go all the way down to deck 4. It was very quiet, no foot traffic and far away enough from the 1 elevator we never heard it. Gabina was our cabin steward and she was wonderful.

Read All Mid-Ship Oceanview Porthole Window (OF) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We are fortunate to be able to travel, but I was annoyed at the shop hawkers. You literally could not walk 10 feet without someone yelling at you to come into their shop. There is NO BEACH at the port within walking distance. We took at $15 cab ride to Mr. Sanchos to sit at the beach. There is a fee only if you want to use their water toys, but it's free to sit at the beach on a chaise. There is food and drink available to order. The other side of the island has the better beaches, but it was going to be $30 cab fare.
Read 5492 Cozumel Reviews

This is another place where the beaches are on the other side of the island. Our day there was short, so we shopped (all the same stuff at all the ports) and then found Hammerheads which was a restaurant/bar with a beautiful view and good food. I could have sat there all day. Loved Hammerheads.

I had done a dolphin encounter on another cruise which is different than a dolphin swim. Our guide was sweet and made it cute and fun, but the price for the dolphin encounter was $99 and the swim $149. The only real difference was a 3 second "ride". You put your arms up, the dolphin swims up to face you, you grab the fins and travel about 20 feet. Then you buy the video for $60. If you book a dolphin swim outside of your cruise excursion desk you may find it less expensive and more of a one-on-one experience.

It's beautiful, but egads! You are herded like cattle. I am the type of traveler that when everyone else is going right, I go left. They literally put you in a pen until you've enough people to make a group. You DO NOT have to do this, but there is a guide (who expects to be tipped) at the end of the hike. We snuck out of the pen and went exploring on our own. We found an observation deck and watched the groups (15-20 people) hiking up the falls all holding hands. BLECH! It was like being on a ride at Disney World. Then when you are ready to leave you have to pass through the gauntlet of souvenir peddlers. They all want to shake your hand (this can be a ruse to put something in your hand so watch out). One lady had marijuana put in her hand 4 times before she caught on. If you could go there on an off day, I bet it is very pleasant, but 2-3 cruise ships in port and it's a hot mess.

Great Stirrup Cay is not a selection but it is the private island for NCL. This was a decent experience. They are renovating the facilities, but I was impressed with what they had done so far. There are several beach areas you can enjoy so do a little exploring before you set up camp for the day. There is one section by the "hippo slide", another main area near the food and drinks and water sports, walk a little further and there is a cove for snorkeling and just beyond that another private area. It was clean and nice and the food they served was tasty, especially the bbq ribs. TIP: Renting snorkel gear is $29, you will save money and time by buying your own and bringing it with you to use at ALL of your ports instead of paying every time.

Compare Prices on Norwegian Sun Western Caribbean Cruises

Read more Norwegian Sun cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic’s Norwegian Sun Review >>

Compare Prices on Norwegian Sun Western Caribbean Cruises

Member Since 2012
Enrichment Activities
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Onboard Experience
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
Value for Money
Skip X

See Norwegian Sun deals up to 82% off:

October Deals
Norwegian Sun 71% Loved It

15 Night Panama Canal Cruise
See all Norwegian Sun Deals >>