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447 Norwegian (NCL) Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Reviews

INTRO: I should preface this review by mentioning that my primary criteria for selecting NCL over other cruise lines (we really wanted to go on Disney again) is that I wanted a cruise line that accepted 2-year-olds in the kids' club, ... Read More
INTRO: I should preface this review by mentioning that my primary criteria for selecting NCL over other cruise lines (we really wanted to go on Disney again) is that I wanted a cruise line that accepted 2-year-olds in the kids' club, as my daughter was 2 1/2 during the time of sailing, and my son was just about to turn 6. While Disney has a separate nursery for the under-3 set, NCL allows kids over 2 to play with the "big kids." This turned out to be a stroke of genius, as I'll explain in a moment. All in all, our expectations for NCL were low, and they ended up being exceeded in most areas. CONCIERGE/ROOM/ETC: We've found on past cruises that it really pays to upgrade to a class of service that includes concierge service, and that's what we did for this one, opting for a Penthouse suite (room 9076). The room itself was lovely and laid out very nicely, although it was MUCH smaller than the 1-bedroom suite we had on Disney. I would say that it was perfectly wonderful for a couple, but adding the kids in made things quite tight. My son slept on the pull-out couch and my daughter slept in a pack-n-play that our room steward placed in the living room for us. I was a little disappointed at first because when I booked the NCL rep told me that we had the option for a full-size crib and I thought that my daughter was too big for a pack-and-play. The steward told me that they did have cribs on board but that they had just been found to be "not safe" but some government agency, so they weren't placing them anymore. (Yikes!) Luckily it worked out fine and our steward was incredibly nice in actually removing some furniture for us to make the living room not so cramped. I found the concierge experience to be fantastic and - dare I say? - BETTER than Disney. Luiggi, our concierge, consistently went above and beyond, from tracking down a spare DVD player to offering to lend me his own personal power adapter. He even let me spend over 1/2 an hour on the phone with Continental in his office on the day before we departed. Worth every penny. I also greatly appreciated that we were able to dine in Il Adagio for breakfast and lunch with the other suite passengers. It was so nice to have a quiet relaxed breakfast every morning with the lovely wait staff who seemed to really enjoy seeing my kids and making us all happy. SHIP: The ship was exactly what I would expect from an older ship that has been recently refurbished. A more old fashioned layout than some of the newer ships, but all was clean and presentable. DINING: I thought the dining experience on the ship was the biggest disappointment. While my kids were delighted to ditch us and go to the kids' club every night, by the last night my husband and I were struggling to find something (anything!) on the ship that we wanted to eat. We tried many of the specialty restaurants, most of which were completely empty all the time. Le Bistro was average, nothing to write home about. Il Adagio was OKAY, probably the best of the bunch, but if you've ever had really excellent Italian food this is only passable. The sushi was decent, although the spicy tuna roll was way too spicy and the portions were odd. The main dining rooms were fine as well, but again nothing special. It actually seemed as though the chefs worked as hard as they could to remove all the flavor from the food. I know that everyone's tastes are different, but as someone who has dined at the top restaurants on several continents, this ship often produced dishes that were only a notch above airline food. I was also surprised at how little the menu changed each night. I am used to other cruise lines where there is a completely new menu in the main dining rooms each night, but not so on this ship. Breakfast and lunch in Il Adagio were perfectly fine, although it was again surprising that the menu didn't change throughout the week. KIDS CLUB/AMENITIES: What can I say, my kids loved it! My son in particular was begging me to go to the kids' club every day. The staff was very helpful, for the most part. At times, they were more rigid than I think they needed to be, but I guess I'd rather that than the opposite. The kids' pool was also wonderful! It was just the right size and they loved having the choice of the wading pool or the kids' hot tub. My son also liked swimming in the big pool. PORTS: The ports were secondary for us to just the experience of getting away. That said, we came up with some good things for people with small kids. My reviews of those ports are below. At the private island - HOLY COW. Our visit was cut short because there was a storm coming in and our return tender trip was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. (And I was in NYC on 9/11.) The tender was bouncing around so hard that I expected my husband to lose his grip on my daughter and have her washed away. We were sitting on the top floor of the tender; the folks on the bottom were singing religious hymns. The passengers who were already on board the ship were all out on the balconies, taking videos of the poor chumps stuck in this deathtrap. It took about an hour to unload the tender, people were puking left and right; it really seemed to be an unsafe situation. I have to say, though, that the NLC staff who got us off the ship were incredibly professional and really impressed me with their calm competence. OVERALL: I loved this trip and wouldn't do a thing differently. I don't know if I'll consider NCL again as my kids get older and the kids club thing isn't so much of an issue, but I wouldn't rule it out completely. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I know that sailing on the Epic last year in one of their garden suites really spoiled us. But previously to that we have sailed more than once on the SKY, and found it's service and attention to detail above the norm! So,when we ... Read More
I know that sailing on the Epic last year in one of their garden suites really spoiled us. But previously to that we have sailed more than once on the SKY, and found it's service and attention to detail above the norm! So,when we booked on the SUN, we expected no less that that same experience on the SKY. Needless to say that wasn't the case. I will admit there were some very nice positives aboard the SUN,such as our dinner at the Italian restaurant was fantastic, with both great food and service, worth the extra we paid!! What was really dissappointing was how the quality of the service varied from meal to meal in the dining rooms that were included in the price of the trip. I do not understand how you can go into one dining room for dinner and have a nice experience, and then go the next morning and find that the service was practically nonexistant. It is rather unpleasant to sit and try to enjoy a meal when it finally arrives and have to look at dirty tables that were never reset throughout most of the meal. As to our cabin with a balcony, it was what we expected, with the exception of the clothes closet and its broken light shelf. The service from the cabin steward was basic at most, with no extra effort to please. On our day at sea due to the high winds and waves, we weren't able to go to the beach on Stirrup Kay. That was dissappointing, but very understandable. After spending some time on the pool deck and deciding to spend some time on our balcony relaxing where it was a bit quieter and less windy, we stopped and brought back a bucket of beer well iced. We didn't finish them,but the ice had melted. I would have thought that when we went out to dinner later and our steward freshened the room, it would have been nice to have the remaining beverages on fresh ice... no luck. The casino was mostly buisy, and the only negative there is that they allow smoking in this not too well ventilated area. As I hacwe COPD I was not able to stay too long any time we went. The entertainment was a surprize in that it was rather good! The commedian was funny and though a lot of his humor was bathroom style, It was funny. The stage shows that their entertainmemt group put on were as good as I have seen on any of the ships we have sailed on! Well done by an energentic group and the singers and the chosed songs were really great! Although the seas were a tad rough, the Captain kept the boat from seriously moving about most of the trip, with the exception of our last night when the seas were running up to 10-12 feet. I don't think anyone got much sleep that night. This is not a complaint, but a notation of the reality of sailing in the Caribbean during the stormy season. Finally on the check in and disembarkation procedures, there is a major need for improvement. Beginning with check in and boarding I will run down my observations. We arrived at the port and parked in a private lot(Park n Cruise), taking a shuttle over to the port. No problem there, prompt and reasonable. Checking in wasn't the worst, but knowing that as Latitudes members we could bump to the head of the line at a special location line. You have to watch for the small sign and be bold enough to jump right in that line, or you are faced with a possibly long wait. Getting on board after that was no real problem. What really bugged me was the long wait to disembark. whether it was a NCL problem or it was a problem with the boarder inspection, we never should have had to wait until well after 9AM to leave. I think the problem lay with the fact that there were 2 other ships (Royal Caribbean & Disney) that had gotten into port ahead of us, and they were processed first. Would I sail on the Sun again? They would probably have to offer me a tremendous deal and have improved the service to make it consistently great! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I have always cruised alone but this cruise we chose to cruise with friends and their children. We chose the Sun strictly by price for the families. Day 1: Embarkation day went pretty smooth considering it was a heavy rain ... Read More
My wife and I have always cruised alone but this cruise we chose to cruise with friends and their children. We chose the Sun strictly by price for the families. Day 1: Embarkation day went pretty smooth considering it was a heavy rain fall all day. We were driven to the port by friends and we unloaded under the canopy to drop off the luggage. From the parking lot to getting on board the ship was approximately 45 minutes. Once on board the lines at the buffet were not long and finding a seat was no problem. Not that this was the cruise line's fault but we did not do too much on the first night considering we were in 60 knot winds and 25-30 foot seas. Walking around the ship was an adventure. Most people were either in their staterooms for the night or getting sick on deck. The entertainment on the ship was average, the band on deck called Titanium I believe was too loud. The lead singer was screaming into the mike. Then on I believe was the last sea day they had a female singer with a guitar and a sound box come out. I'm sure she's fine in a lounge singing but on the pool deck her style just seemed to not fit in. The food was good on all levels but did have trouble with the service in the MDR. Dinner on the second night took over 2 hours and when the Maitre De came over to talk we told him that we missed the show and for the rest of the cruise he reserved us a waiter by the name of Dennis Pierre. Excellent waiter who has been with NCL for 15 years. We decided this time to rough it and stay in an inside room so we could be near our friends. We usually do balcony so we weren't expecting much but this inside cabin was great. The first time on a cruise that my wife had more storage space for her clothes then she knew what to do with. It was on the end of a row of cabins and had a 6 foot utility space on the other side so we had no neighbors to worry about making noise. Overall I would give this cruise an above average, knowing it was not Disney or RCCL lines but worth the money we paid. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We are two friends in our early 60's. This was our second transatlantic cruise with NCL. First was on the brand new Gem 4 years ago, so it is not fair to compare the older Sun to the then pristine Gem. That being said, the Sun was ... Read More
We are two friends in our early 60's. This was our second transatlantic cruise with NCL. First was on the brand new Gem 4 years ago, so it is not fair to compare the older Sun to the then pristine Gem. That being said, the Sun was a bit shabby, but certainly in good enough condition that I have no complaints except for one. After about a week, our balcony was covered in salt, which we kept tracking into our cabin. The grit from the salt detracted from the pleasure of being on our balcony, which was a bit rusty and in need of paint. But, any balcony is better than no balcony!To get to Port Canaveral from the Orlando airport, we used the "Cruise Xpress" shuttle. Absolutely fantastic service for about half the price of the other bus shuttles I found on line. I was a bit hesitant to use a company that charged so much less than the others, but I was very pleased with the service and highly recommend Cruise Xpress.Embarkation took about a half hour (we got to the pier at about 1:30 p.m.), and that was with being able to use the Latitudes line. No complaints - and, our luggage was delivered to our cabin by late afternoon, so that was a plus.Balcony cabin was fine - again, a little shabby. The cover on the couch looked old, worn and a bit dirty. Tiny TV, but I was still able to enjoy watching William and Kate's wedding on the small screen. We had the bed separated into twin beds, which left about 7 inches between the end of one bed and the cabinet, so one had to be careful when maneuvering about the cabin. However, I found that there was ample space for luggage and one's belongings. Plenty of drawers and other spaces for clothing and other items. The bathroom was quite small, but big enough for what one needs a bathroom for. I flooded the shower stall only once on a 15 night cruise, and that was when I took a long shower to wash my very long hair. Always had plenty of hot water no matter what time I showered. If you are fussy about soap/shampoo, bring your own rather than use the "mystery" products in the dispensing containers in the bathroom. It seemed that the gap at the bottom of the cabin door was a bit bigger than other ships I have been on, which allowed for noise in the hallway to be heard in our cabin at times.Our cabin steward, Mark, kept our room very clean and tidy, and he always responded to our simple requests efficiently. Mark was always smiling and we were very happy to have him for our cabin steward. It seemed that the majority of the crew on this ship was from the Philippines (as Mark was), and they all seemed friendlier and more helpful than the crew on my last two NCL cruises.The entertainment left something to be desired, but I don't cruise in the hope that there will be fabulous entertainment every night, so I wasn't disappointed as I didn't have high hopes. I'd seen the juggler, Romano Frediani - billed as "one of the most popular shows in NCL history!" - on my previous cruise, the NCL Production Cast performers were better at dancing than singing, the faux Beatles were fun - but not vocally great, and the hypnotist TerranceB was dreary. Maybe other acts were better, but we didn't go to the show each night as we didn't enjoy them all that much. FourEver, the Il Divo knock-offs, were actually quite good. The lounge/bar entertainment wasn't stellar enough to make me want to sit down and order a drink. On the Gem cruise, there was a group called the Alambra Trio (?) whom I listened to at every opportunity, and I missed having an enjoyable lounge band on this cruise. Frankly, the crew talent show was the best entertainment on the Sun transatlantic cruise. The art auctions were entertaining in their own way. I was amazed that there were so many repeat buyers on board. Well, as a friend of mine has to constantly remind me, "there's no arguing taste," or lack thereof. If over-priced Thomas Kinkade and Peter Max items are your cup of tea, by all means, DO NOT miss the art auctions. I attended them simply because I was fascinated that so many people were buying what was offered, and doing so happily. Watching the auction staff operate is another form of high entertainment, and provides a fine example of P.T. Barnum's proclamation that there's a sucker born every minute.The most disappointing thing on this cruise was the lack of educational programs. This was a 15 night cruise, populated primarily by retirees, and the trivia contests were packed. We needed more mental stimulation! On the Gem transatlantic cruise there was a fantastic nautical lecturer who was the highlight of the cruise. The Sun cruise would have been much improved by adding some intellectual entertainment. If nothing else, couldn't NCL have dug up crew members from the ports we were visiting to teach us basic words/phrases in the native language? We were treated to Spanish lessons (though we went to no Spanish speaking countries) by J.J., who was a very good teacher and one of the more entertaining crew members - along with Rommel. They were both very funny and I enjoyed attending the activities they were hosting.The food on this cruise was much better than the food on my other NCL cruises. Yes, the Garden Cafe was crowded, but the crew was very efficient with the clearing of tables, etc. There was a fairly good selection of buffet items available, and most of it was quite tasty, except for the desserts, which were gelatinous and tasteless for the most part. I was very pleased to discover that in the morning the Moderno Churrascaria served healthy breakfast items. I don't eat eggs or meat, and the food available at Moderno - salad, yogurt, fruits, etc. - was just what I wanted to get my day started. The fellow from Romania who manned the Garden Cafe ice cream station in the evening was wonderful - always asking if we were enjoying the cruise, and scooping ice cream as though it was the best job on the ship. His enthusiasm for making sure the ice cream eaters were happy was remarkable, and we always looked forward to seeing him in the evening.We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants, as we didn't want to part with any more money after having paid $130 more each for our balcony cabin than balcony cabins were priced two weeks after we paid for our cruise. My request for an on-board credit for the difference was refused. I was disappointed that the two main dining rooms served the same food. However, the food was very good - significantly superior to other NCL cruises I've been on. There were interesting appetizers and a good variety of choices on each nights menu. Portions were rather small, but if you were still hungry, you have ordered another meal! Personally, I preferred the somewhat small portion size, as it is easy to gain weight on a cruise with food being available all of the time. The dining room desserts were not very good, so after trying them a few times, we stuck to having ice cream at the Garden Cafe at the end of our evening instead of having dessert in the dining room. My only complaint about the dining room food was the "international cheese platter" that was offered every evening. The blue cheese was edible, but the other selection (two portions of the same thing) was an awful tasteless mass of hard white cheese. The dining room staff was wonderful every time we ate in one of the main dining rooms, with the exception of one night when we dined relatively late and our server seemed anxious to get the evening over with. I hate feeling guilty for holding up the dining room staff on the rare occasions when I dine shortly before the dining room closes. Overall, the dining room servers and their assistants were excellent. We ate in the Sports Bar a few times. The food and service there was very good, though there was a chilly wind tunnel effect in the Sports Bar, as the servers had to go outside and bring the food in, so every time the door opened, we got hit with a cold gust of wind. In the late afternoon when the Garden Cafe was closed, there was an area with a small buffet with snack items on the pool deck. Enough items were offered to hold one together between lunch and dinner! Curiously, even though they make their own pizzas on board the Sun and have a pizza oven, the pizzas are NOT very good. As pizza is the world's most perfect food (when properly prepared), I wish NCL would lure a pizza chef from MSC, and then a cruise in the Sun would be close to perfect! Plus, beer or wine are the perfect companions for a great pizza, so NCL would make more money by selling appropriate beverages to with their pizza. Truly, the pizza ovens are Sun are being wasted, and it is a shame they can't make good pizzas.When disembarking, we chose to take our luggage with us instead of having it unloaded for us. When we disembarked in Copenhagen (we left the ship at 9:00 a.m.) it was the most efficient disembarkation I've ever experienced. The luggage for the other passengers was orderly and in well marked areas, and the lines waiting for cabs were not that long as there was a steady stream of cabs available. Since the disembarkation area was rather small, the ease of getting off the ship and into a cab was remarkable.All and all, the transatlantic cruise on the Sun was pleasant and relaxing. As I smoke two cigarettes in my cabin each morning with my coffee while I watch the news, I am grateful that NCL still allows smokers to do so. Would I take another NCL cruise? Absolutely - casual attire and a lack of formality is what I am looking for in a cruise vacation. Just a little more to occupy our brains on a transatlantic cruise with all the sea days, please! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Overall we had a great cruise on the NCL Sun to the Western Caribbean. The many pluses out weighed a few annoying negatives. Here are the pluses: Embarkation: Port Canaveral is really easy to find & the embarkation process went ... Read More
Overall we had a great cruise on the NCL Sun to the Western Caribbean. The many pluses out weighed a few annoying negatives. Here are the pluses: Embarkation: Port Canaveral is really easy to find & the embarkation process went really smooth. We showed up at 10:30 and we were on the ship by 11:15. Note that contrary to what other have said...You do not need to tip the baggage handlers. They have signs stating that they are salaried employees. If someone goes above and beyond...then go ahead and tip them extra.Stateroom: We had a balcony on deck 8. There was plenty of storage space. We had two large suitcases and had plenty of drawers and hanger space for everything. The bathroom is small but very efficient; you can sit on the toilet and brush your teeth at the same time. The new mattresses are extremely comfortable. But the best thing was having a coffee maker in the room!Room Steward: We had a GREAT room steward, Rene. We never needed to ask for anything. The difference between a good room steward and a great one...is one that anticipates your needs. We ended up giving him an extra tip at the end. Thanks, ReneTowel Animals: Thanks to our talented room steward...we had some great towel animals that greeted our return to our cabin. We had a floppy eared rabbit wearing my husband's glasses, a cat perched on the top of the sofa, and a wash cloth mouse in a coffee cup. Thanks again, ReneModerno Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse): Worth the extra money!!! Don't fill up on the salad bar like I did. They let you have everything on the menu...and all meats melt in your mouth. My husband and I ended up walking deck 6 for seven laps right after, just to purge the guilt of eating that much. Il Adagio: Il Adagio was also worth the extra money. Not as great as Moderno Churrascaria...but very enjoyable. If you're looking for fine dinning on this ship...you need to pay extra for it. The food in the main dinning rooms is not as good as it should be. Buffet Staff: Everyone that works in the buffet area are very friendly and quick to offer to get you second cup of coffee....I never had that at a buffet before. I loved the "Washy, Washy" girls...to sprite some rude ridicule that I have heard on this board...They are always smiling no matter what people say to them and keep us healthy.Soda Card: My husband drinks so much soda...that NCL will be rethinking the price after they see how much many sodas my husband drank. Shore Excursions: We had two good ones from NCL and one we arranged on our own. We did the Discover Rio Dulce in Guatemala. We did learn a lot about the culture of the area and saw a lot of wildlife on the trip. I however did not like Livingston, as the locals are VERY aggressive and will not take no for an answer. We ended up following our guide to a local hotel restaurant...where we passed a very agreeable time and enjoyed the local beer. In Belize we took the Barrier Reef Snorkel & Beach Break. The reef was okay but not the best snorkeling that we have ever done. I was disappointed by the low amount of fish...though we did get a close encounter with an eagle ray and we saw some great corral and sea fans...which put it in the very good column. The rum punch is deadly...you were warned. I thought it was week and had three on the way to the beach break & three on the way back to the ship. Now I know why they bring us directly back to the ship. I don't think we would have made it back if the hadn't. In Cozumel we took a taxi to Chankanaab Natural Park...Wow that was the best!! You are just steps from some great snorkeling. You can do the dolphin encounter if you want to. They also have a manatee encounter and a seal show. We just found a great spot on the beach and never moved. They have nice restrooms & a great bar with some great food that they will bring right to your chair on the beach. They also have a large pool, nature trails & Mayan ruin replicas. The taxi cost $10 each way from Port Langosta Pier and we paid $17 each for the park with a coupon that you can get on the web. Entertainment: We enjoyed most of the entertainment offered. I understand that the shows are changing in a few weeks so it would be pointless to review it. They will still be doing the International Crew Show....Which is worth going to. There are some very talented people that are making your beds, serving your food, and mixing your drinks. Minus: Selling, Selling & Selling: The most ANNOYING thing on this cruise was the infomercial type selling going on. At every show and with continues announcements on the loudspeakers, they are selling bingo card, raffles, diamonds, and VERY TACKY art. My husband and I felt like we were trapped on the "infomercial ship". I think this is how NCL off sets their lower price. I would rather pay more for my cruise than listen to this all week.Buffets: The Garden Buffet set up is bass-ackwards ...But NCL knows this!! We all complain about it...and they never change it. The food offerings at both buffets are nothing to right home about. If you're the type of person that "eats to live" it should not bother you, but if you "live to eat" ...don't eat here. Sports Bar: My husband and I tried to get the famous hot wings here twice. We sat for over twenty minutes the first time and could not get anyone to wait on us and walked out. The second time we had to track down a server...Do they want to sell beer here or not??? We finally had our plate of wings...not worth the hassle.Main dinning rooms: The cuts of beef are inferior, full of grizzle and very tough. The fish both times I had it, was over cooked. The deserts are all about presentation and not taste. Salads are just greens...very disappointed. Next time we will pay extra and go to some of the premium restaurants. Key West Stop: One word ....Pointless!! The stop is too short to do anything and too early. Most of the stores and restaurants don't open until we have to leave. NCL would like you to believe that it shorts your debarkation time. But in reality the same line that you're in for customs when you get back would have had an additional emigration officer and it would have only taken them a few seconds to look over your passport. So now you have two long lines to wait in over two days...instead of one line on one day....Smart!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We embarked at Port Canaveral. We took a shuttle there from the Radisson hotel. We were able to park there for free and take a free shuttle. Just tipped the guys well. It was pretty organized there but crowded. NCL Sun was a nice size ... Read More
We embarked at Port Canaveral. We took a shuttle there from the Radisson hotel. We were able to park there for free and take a free shuttle. Just tipped the guys well. It was pretty organized there but crowded. NCL Sun was a nice size ship. It wasn't too big or too small. It was a little awkward to get around to some of the places on the ship. The Seven Seas dining room was hard to find because it was on the 5th floor but you had to take the aft elevators. It was the only thing there on the 5th floor aft. So if you wanted 5th floor mid or forward you had to go up and then back down on a different elevator or remember to use the mid or forward elevators to begin with. You also had to go up and over because you couldn't go through the Four Seasons restaurant either. It is also on the 5th floor. Other than this flaw in the floor plan it was a very nice ship. The Brazilian restaurant was hard to find also. There were some little things that people were being negative about but a minor annoyance to me. Some of the elevator lights were burnt out and you had to figure out if it was going up or down...not hard to do. The other complaint I had was that the indoor cafe buffet shut down certain hours of the day. During that time you had to use the outdoor cafe. No biggie since they are on the same deck. There was also a few hours in the afternoon and late night that you could only get room service which was a limited menu but worked in a pinch. Some of the bars where not manned at all times. We had purchased the soda program and sometimes it was a pain to get a soda. The biggest annoyance was the Garden Buffet. The wait staff there were almost too efficient. They were ready to take empty plates but sometimes you were putting the last bite in your mouth when they were taking the plates. The ice machines seemed to be out of ice a lot. Otherwise, we had a very wonderful trip and nothing big to complain about. The photographers at the ports of call were sometimes obnoxious. I didn't not want my picture taken at some of the ports but was forced to have them taken. That was really annoying. You have to be very very firm to not have your picture taken. Our seas were very calm and hardly any motion on the ship. We had a balcony and it was so wonderful to have coffee there before going to breakfast.We had a wonderful time in Cozumel. It got off to a rocky start with the tour guides being late. Once underway it was wonderful. We did the jeep and snorkel excursion. This was great because we got to drive a manual jeep all around the island. It was 4 people to a jeep (or 3 if that is what was in your party) and we made several stops along the way. We saw a Mayan ruin, saltwater crocodiles, a light house, beach time with snorkeling, and beautiful landscapes. The only drawback to this was there wasn't any real time to shop. By the end of the excursion we were hot and tired and a long walk back to the ship from the jeeps. The tour guides were excellent with knowledge about the island. Easy on and off of the ship.Santo De Tomas Guatemala this port is in a cargo port. No beauty there! there were no cabs at the port or shopping but we found out later that they did not allow cabs onto the pier area. you had to walk out a way on the pier to get a cab and there was a little souvenir store there also. But again we didn't know that at the time so we did not get off the ship. Unless you wanted to know about diamonds international the shopping guy on the ship wasn't helpful. I do not recommend this port unless you do an excursion which were all very physical when we were there. They did have a small band at the dock and what we think was Miss Guatemala!Belize: We had to tender to this port. The tenders were just fine. Pretty good size and very smooth to the pier. The guys on the tenders were great to help people on and off the tenders. We did not have trouble getting back and forth on time. We did an excursion here of Altun Ha ruins and Belize City tour. We had an air conditioned tour bus and the two guides we had were knowledgeable and funny. It took about an hour and a half to travel 26 miles to the ruins. The roads are small and rough but the bus was comfortable. They also stopped at several photo op spots and information was given. At the ruins the guide explained a lot about the ruins and the area. There are some small shops there by locals and some have some nice, interesting things. Others was just junk but it was all good. We enjoyed this tour and would recommend it. There is not much walking except to walk around the ruins. It was very hot and humid but the tour did give us bottled water.I did enjoy Key West but the shipped docked at 7am and none of the shops opened until 9am so not much to do before then but walk around. We took the hop on and off trolley tour. It was good to do to see the area and learn some facts about them. You could get on and off any stop you wanted to but the tour was actually for one loop around. There are 8 different stops and the bus drivers didn't care if you took more than one loop, however, there wasn't much time to do more than one loop if you wanted to get off and see things at some of the stops. It is a short walk from the ship to the main shopping areas. The bars are open early so it is always 5 o'clock there! Would recommend the tour but don't plan on doing anything too early there if you arrive before 9am. I only gave it a 3 since there was nothing to do for 2 hours after getting there.Nassau: When we arrived in port there were 4 other cruise ships there! so lots of people. We did an excursion here of the Blue Lagoon Island and beach break. Would not recommend this tour if you really want beach time. The excursion was for 4-5 hours but it came back early and the beach time was minimal. The dolphin experience is also at this dock. We tendered over to Blue Lagoon Island from the pier where the shipped docked. This took about 20 minutes. Nice smooth ride with beautiful landscape around. The beach had plenty of hammocks to relax in. There was a bar, a picnic area and small, overpriced gift shop there. There are locker rentals available for $5. The rental equipment was expensive. $8 for a noodle for the day! A little outrageous since you can buy your own for a couple of bucks. The beach area wasn't very big and it was filled with water equipment to rent. There was a small area on the other side of the beach to get into the water but not much area to sit around on. There was a covered area to eat at and lunch was included but they started serving it at 10AM!! shortly after we arrived there. Last call for the boat back to the ship was 12:45pm. Not much quality time there. Oh yes, Carnival had a much better looking lunch then NCL did. We got either a hamburger or hot dog, fries, an apple and a drink. We did enjoy the relaxing atmosphere there but the beach experience could have been better. Not worth the effort of changing into bathing suits. the boat ride back from the island dropped us off in town to shop but not much time. It was also a long walk back to the ship from customs. The line was going slowly because the customs guys were giving out Jesus papers and it took them forever.St. Thomas: We did not take an excursion here. Just hopped off and did some shopping. Many touristy shops there at the docks. Taxi's were a little pricey unless you could find a small taxi to take you around. The island is just beautiful. We enjoyed our time there.St. Maarten: We did the Best of St. Maarten and Beach excursion. It was a great way to find out about St. Maarten. We rode on an air conditioned bus and had a great guide. We only one hour at the beach and it was crowded. We sat at the bar there and had a drink and some fries ($6 for a plate). The drink was only $7! We made a stop on the french side to shop in Margot at an outdoor market. Overall it was a great time but the walk from the ship to the bus was quite a haul. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I wanted to write a complete review of the NCL Sun and all that I experienced. Please note that I am not sold out to NCL. While I do love this cruise line for the freestyle aspect, I also love to sail on Princess and RCCL. I am not a ... Read More
I wanted to write a complete review of the NCL Sun and all that I experienced. Please note that I am not sold out to NCL. While I do love this cruise line for the freestyle aspect, I also love to sail on Princess and RCCL. I am not a die hard NCL fan and therefore, I hope this review is viewed as balanced.Pre-Cruise StayWe did not stay at a hotel, but we did rent a car from Orlando International Airport to the cruise port. Had a bit of trouble finding the rental car facility at the port, but once there, everything went smoothly. Rental car facility was adequate, but next time, we would just pay for the transfers. Its a bit of a hassle to get the car, drop it off, then shuttle to the port. Id rather taxi in or shuttle and start my vacation off with little to no frustration. Cruise InformationNCL Sun April 16, 2011, Port Canaveral, Cozumel, Guatemala, Belize and Key West 7 day Cruise.EmbarkmentThe embarkment process was painless. We arrived at the port around 11:30am and immediately was greeted by the friendly porters who took our baggage. We headed in through a pleasant security staff (this surprised me). They even joked with me as I had not had my paperwork out and ready. They were patient and kind and I appreciated how they werent rude at my mistake. Security was a breeze and up to the counter to fill out the health form and immediately to the line to check in. My husband left our cruise tickets on the counter and had to get them....again, another friendly staff member who patiently waited as he went to find it. The staff member joked with me and we chatted a couple minutes and then we were through the line. Got in the usual line of chairs while we waited. We sat for maybe 10 minutes tops and then we were standing and through the line in minutes. Next thing I know, I am on the ship and headed straight to the buffet. Painless! ItineraryA few things about this itinerary...First, the port area in Cozumel is very nice, clean, safe and decent shopping. There were a few pesky tour operators and some of the store owners are a bit pushy, but that happens just bout everywhere you go on the islands. They offer a little carriage ride from the shop to the port shopping area because the pier is quite long. We walked with ease, but for some, this is a long way. Second, Guatemala. I cannot say enough that we did not like this stop for several reasons. First, the water is really dark, green, river water...not the typical beautiful crystal clear waters we typically see in the Caribbean. I am not sure if it was just the weather or if its always this way, but the water is soooo choppy. My friend broke her foot getting into a small boat for her tour. We did the Discover Rio Dulce tour. This is a 30+ minute very rocky boat ride to the river and even then, it wasnt that smooth of a ride. This is NOT for people who get motion sickness even in the slightest. Even with taking motion sickness medicine I was really really sick the whole time. The guide was knowledgeable and kind enough to wait a couple minutes while I gathered myself together from being so sick on the small boat. A friend of ours on the boat (with life jacket) ended up with a really large bruise on his back from hitting the seat over and over. This was through the life jacket to give you a sense at how rough the water was. Plus they drive so incredibly fast, that you pound the water really hard up and down plus the side to side rock. The tour itself was fair. We didnt see much on the river, except for small children who rowed out to our boat to beg for money/sell us shells or flowers. It was so sad. The scene along the way reminded me of Gilligan's Island with grass roofs, etc. Very poor country, but with that said, the tour guide did an outstanding job at offering us a wealth of information about Guatemala and the area. We got a private walking tour in the city which was actually the best part of the tour and then we headed back for the long rough boat ride back to the ship. Third up was Belize, we were unable to get off the ship this day because they used tender boats and the ride to Belize was about 20 minutes. Since I endured a rough day the day prior, I didnt want to put myself through another boat ride the very next day. I do want to mention the awesome shore excursion staff member who very kindly removed/canceled my tour in Belize even though I was past the 48 hour cut off for cancellation. Under the circumstances, they were very helpful, kind and sympathetic. She even offered me some tips on taking tender boats ashore if I decided I was up to it. Even if they wouldnt have canceled for me, we wouldnt have gone, so I was pleased to not have to pay and in turn, we paid for the Behind the Scenes tour on the ship, which was great and I will review later. Finally, Key West. This was sort of a joke. Since it was part of the US, we had to clear customs first thing in the am. We got in a line of about 500+ people when we got there and thought we'd never get through; however, the line moved fairly quickly and they did the best they could. Once through, we were able to leave the ship. On this stop, we only had till noon to be back, so by the time we went through customs and got outside it was about 9am. Where we had docked was the military area and they wouldnt let you walk the pier, so you waited for a trolly and they took you to town. There isnt a choice in this. We got to town and walked around for a couple hours and had to come back. It really wasnt worth stopping honestly. Key West is a neat place, I hope to go back and enjoy it some day. I wish I had more information on the itinerary for this trip, but that is it. The only thing I could add is that I have been to Belize before and did the cave tubing and it was a blast. Room StewardWe had a great guy named Rene. He was very friendly, very good about keeping the room straight for us and having fresh towels, etc. I got a few towel animals, which I love, so that made me smile. I would say he did a really good job overall, but there wasnt anything extraordinary done that week. The RoomThis was the largest "regular" balcony room I have ever had. Maybe because this ship is older and the rooms are slightly bigger, but there was a full size couch and a queen size bed, plus the dresser and makeup area. The bed was super comfy! You know how you can always tell where they put the two twin beds together, its like a dip in the center of the bed...well not on this one! It was seamless and oh so comfy. I love the down comforter and double pillows too! Another thing I loved is the light right at my head that I could turn off after I read my Freestyle Daily and was ready for bed. The TV is small and the old box style. There were a few channels with regular programs on it so if you were tired of watching port reviews, you could see the news, sports and other programs. The bathroom was pretty worn out. The shower is circular and small. If you MUST bend over to get something, your hiney is going to stick to the shower curtain and it may just find its way in your cheeks (he he). BUT...that is the BEST shower head ever! what an awesome and refreshing shower. I didnt use the shampoo provided, so I cant comment, other than it was there. The hairdryer was horrendous! Seriously, it was quite funny after a while. It looks like a vacuum hose and its awkward to hold. It blows cool air and barely comes out. Bring your own hairdryer if you sail on the sun!!! There was good amount of shelves for all your bathroom items and the mirror was a decent size. The floor in the bathroom needed replacing in my room. The closet is good in size. There were several hangers and we had adequate space for our clothes. There are even baskets in the closet that you can organize the clothing. There was a small dresser next to the closet and then another dresser by the vanity. We had plenty of room and there are a bunch of hangers. Balcony was normal size, but we were very disappointed that they didnt open up between rooms. We booked 3 rooms in a row in order to open the doors between balconies for one large area to sit and visit, but we werent able to do this. The balconies are fairly private though.Photo GalleryOk, so this is like a serious traffic jam area. It wouldnt have been too bad, but they set tables up in the middle of the walkway to sell things like jewelry, etc. This caused alot of back up and plus its the main walkway from the theater to the Dazzles nightclub where everything happens. Most of the photographers were really nice, but at each location, it was the exact same poses, almost like it was a list they had to check off. One lady photographer needs some assistance with composition of her pictures. I normally buy alot more pictures and just couldnt find enough good ones to buy this time. Twice in the dining room, they skipped our table. I was starting to feel offended...lol, just kidding. LibraryI dont read, but I thought it was a nice touch that they had 3 puzzles per day in the library. Soduko, Crossword and some trivia. They also had a room to play board games inside the library. Our friends 16 year old son said they had the best couches in the library. Oh so comfy!Theater/ShowsThe theater is really cozy. There are soft chairs and tables in the front area and then the traditional theater seats in the rest of the areas. Its a small theater, but this is a smaller ship than I have sailed in the past. The production cast that was on board this past week was not very good. Im sorry to say that the singing was not very good. The dancing was pretty good, but the singers were fair. I actually left the show. The comedian, juggler and hypnotist were great. The liars club show was the funniest thing I have ever seen on any ship. For those of you who have never seen this game/show, there are 4 people on stage that are given crazy words. Each person must give a definition of this word and the audience must decide who is lying and who is telling the truth. They had the cruise director Shona, then the comedian, juggler and hypnotist as the ones giving their definitions of the words. All of them had the most hilarious stories and definitions to each of the words, you just couldnt stop laughing. By far, the best show Ive seen on the high seas! The international crew show was fantastic. In fact, they have a band made up of several crew members and they were awesome. They should let that girl be the singer for the production shows. I enjoyed the dancing in this show as well. Very nice!Dazzles Night Club/EntertainmentOh what a fun place this is! The 70's party was great. I loved how the crew dressed up in 70's outfits and then they had some people dress up as the village people and perform a little show. It was great. The music was fantastic and there was the house band that played here several nights and they were fantastic! cozy sitting area, a little tight in spots, but adequate. Small dance floor, but enough room for those who wanted to dance. The newlywed game, Karaokee, Wii games, afternoon movies and the "Quest" were some of the fun things happening in this area. For those who havent seen the Quest...it is the funnest game to watch for those who are a little shy and even more fun for those playing. This is a must do, but only if you arent easily offended. This is an adult only game and can get a little crazy! What a great way to end the week. I laughed and laughed and laughed! Thanks NCL for some good entertainment! Also, there was a waiter in this bar each night that remembered that I liked smoothies and came by each night to see if I wanted one. Yeah, I know he was trying to make a sale, but hey, he remembered me and what I liked to drink after waiting on hundreds of others. It made me feel special!Kids ClubsI cant comment on the kids club because we do not have children. I can say that there didnt seem to be many activities for the teens as they always ended up "invading" the adult parties in the evening hours. I say invading only because at the White Hot Party, it turned into a teen dance club and many people left because of this. Maybe it was because it was spring break and there were more teens on board, but just thought Id mention our experience. I never had a problem with unruly kids though. Daily Entertainment/Games/TriviaNCL Sun offered various trivia games, scategories, name that tune, urban legends, word games, etc. throughout the week. There was one lady who didnt have much of a personality, but she wasnt rude, just not overly friendly. One of the people we were with said they encountered a really rude staff member at one of the games. I did not have this experience. The games were really short and quick. I wish we could have played longer. What seemed to be lacking here was poolside games, sexy legs contest, more poolside dancing, etc. Since this ship doesnt have rock climbing, mini golf, etc, I would have liked to have seen more activities. They had more things on sea days, but port days were really slow. DiningOh the dining. Everyone loves to talk about the dining! I am seriously NOT that picky when it comes to eating. I am picky on what types of food I eat, but as long as it tastes pretty good, I dont have to cook it, then Im happy. Ill offer a few things. The buffet was a little lacking compared to the NCL Pearl that I have sailed twice and thoroughly enjoyed/raved about the buffet on that ship. Not alot of choices. They did to pool side BBQ with burgers and hotdogs several days. YUM! The salad was great, the fruit at the buffet was good, but not for room service. They have ice cream all day. Several days they had it dipped in a chocolate fountain. They had soft served and regular ice cream as well as brownies, pound cake, cookies, cobbler, etc. to go with it. This was great and we ate it every day. They also have a self serve ice cream station at the Great Outdoors area. The Sports bar had sandwiches, chicken fingers, etc type food, but I heard the staff here was really rude. I didnt encounter this personally, just got that second hand from someone in our party. The dining room had great service, never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table even with the rush at 6pm. They offered chicken, steak and pasta as standard daily dishes with another menu that changed daily. I really enjoyed the steak from the standard dishes. Lovely deserts to choose from including some sugar free options as well as sherbert for those who cant have ice cream. The pizza was horrendous. Seriously, the worst pizza Ive ever had on a ship. NCL needs to step it up in this department. They did have a nice little buffet by the pizza offering lighter options such as tuna, chicken salad, deli meats, etc. We enjoyed this for lunch one day. Another day we ordered sandwiches to our room for lunch and this we great. Quick service and good food. We ordered room service for breakfast every day. They were right on time each day except for one. They did mess up our order twice, but it was insignificant because we order this as breakfast #1, then hit the buffet for our "main" breakfast. We do love to eat!!Specialty DiningWe tried two placed, the Brazilian Steakhouse and the Regular Steakhouse. I loved the regular steakhouse, had a nice meal, cooked just how I like it, very tasty and worth the money. I got the apple crisp for dessert and it was heavenly. There were a couple waitresses that sang happy birthday to me and they had the best voices! Harmonized and everything. They brought me a delicious coconut cake and it was great! The Clam Chowder soup was pretty good here, but a little salty. I had the New York Strip, it was cooked just like I like it...dead...and still tender. Very good flavor! The Brazilian Steakhouse is unreal. You have all you can eat soup and salad bar. this is not the tradition salad bar, but very unique with a wide variety of items to sample. They warn you not to eat too much to save room for the 10, and I do mean 10 meats they bring to the table. You have a card, one side is red, one side is green. When you need a breather, you put it on red. When you are ready for more meat, you put it on green. After you have tried all them meats, they ask if you want seconds on anything. Plus there were sides, like rice, beans, fried bananas (yummmy) and cheese bread. There was so much food and it was delicious. There were ribs, sausage, chicken, lamb, steak, fillets, etc. Way too much to eat but worth the money for an interesting experience. By the way, there was dessert too!Behind the Scenes TourSo, we couldnt go into Belize because I was over the top of the sea sickness the day before; therefore, we decided to take this tour and Im soooo glad we did. It was $55 per person and it was a 2.5 hour tour. We got to see so much and learned alot about how things operate. We saw many officers including spending about 15 minutes with the captain...what a great guy! We saw the laundry area(very fascinating), the uniform shop as Id call it, the bakery where we sampled fresh bread right from the oven, several kitchens, the prep area, the freezer, storage area, the incinerator, the loading areas, the crew area, the backstage of the theater, and the bridge. I think that was everything. The entire tour was great, everyone was so happy to see us and shared great information and took time to answer questions. The crew in each area was fantastic. The Sui chef gave us hand outs on how many people are fed/meals prepared statistics, which was a nice touch. I really enjoyed this alot and was able to take tons of pictures. Our guide was also fantastic!Future Cruise ConsultantGreat lady! She was so helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. We wanted to try out the Epic and she gave us a preview of her big presentation she was giving that week, which we also attended the presentation. We put a deposit down, but you cannot book a cruise on board like you can on other cruise lines. I found that odd, but that is a NCL policy, so I got the cruise rewards and will book later.CasinoFairly small, but this is a small ship and truthfully, the casino was never filled. One nice touch I wanted to mention is that they had a mini buffet at the entry to the casino one night when I was there. i dont know if this was a nightly thing or just that night, but I was so hungry and appreciated the mini buffet setup just for the casino players. I will also mention that the casino cant open until the ship is about 30 miles from land, so for all those who sat at the machines complaining that they couldnt play immediately after sailaway, they need to take a chill pill! It was about 25 minutes after we set sail if I remember correctly. The PoolThere just isnt enough seating in this small area. There is an adult only and a family pool side by side. There were always children/teens in the adult pool, which is just plain rude on the parents part, but there needs to be a way for NCL to monitor that. Also, the chair hog situation was out of control on the Sun. They need to devote one attendant to walking around, picking up towels and other belongings that are "holding" chairs for hours and hours to allow others who are there NOW to sit down and enjoy the pool This is quite frustrating and I have been known to move things, but I didnt this time. We did have to sit on the wall by the pool as there werent any "empty" chairs one day. After 30 minutes, it needs to be removed and they can come claim their items at the lost and found. People are so darn rude!The Great OutdoorsThis is one of my favorite spots on the ship. Quiet, beautiful breezes, buffet and bar right there and a nice amount of seating. We enjoyed breakfast here every day. Also, the bar tender each morning was so nice to me and kept me loaded up with diet pepsi. I really appreciated him!I hope I covered everything. I feel like I have been writing for hours. This is all I can remember right now, so i hope it was helpful to someone. Overall, I rate this cruise on the NCL Sun as VERY GOOD! Would definitely sail again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Overall Rating as a vacation: BCompared to our previous cruises: C-The Ship: Overall - My first impression of the ship was overall positive, and at the end of the day it remains that way. We read that the ship had recently undergone a ... Read More
Overall Rating as a vacation: BCompared to our previous cruises: C-The Ship: Overall - My first impression of the ship was overall positive, and at the end of the day it remains that way. We read that the ship had recently undergone a multi-million dollar renovation, however that played no bearing on us choosing this particular ship. In fact we did not know anything about the renovations until after we booked. Since I have no idea what the ship looked like previously, or what exactly was renovated, I can only comment on the fact that everything was very clean and every bit up to standards I have come to see on all the other ships I have been on. For lack of a better term, everything looked "new", which is great for one of the oldest ships in NCL's fleet. My wife and I are not picky, and felt the ship more than met our expectations. Room - Considering on our last cruise (on the NCL Jade) we booked a balcony, we expected to have been significantly downgraded by booking an inside cabin. However, when speaking with the NCL reservation staff, we were told there were some available "handicapped accessable" rooms remaining so we booked one of those. That was probably the best decision we made, hands down. The room was huge by cruise standards, easily outsizing our previous NCL balcony room, including the balcony! The two beds were pushed together on one side to make a king for us, with plenty of room to get out on either side of the bed. And that only took up about 1/3 of the space. The other two thirds consisted of a pull-out sofa and enough room to host a small party. On the downside, the TV in our room was a very old 13 incher that had long since seen better days. The brightness was shot so when anything that was supposed to be shown in the dark (ie - an outdoor night scene, or something in a room with the lights out) the entire screen was black. You couldn't see anything. We called a couple of times to get it looked at, but nothing was ever done. Not that it was a huge deal because if you are spending your time in your room watching a dinky TV on a cruise, you're missing the point. Pools - The two main pools were more than adequate for the number of guests, as often they were busy but never "crowded". One was designated as an "adult pool", however that was only loosely enforced. There were 4 shaded jacuzzi tubs situated between the two main pools that we used once. There was an older couple in there with us that was complaining that it wasn't hot enough. (The water seems to be intentionally kept at 98.6 degrees). To us it was warm, but I don't think I would have liked it any warmer than that since it was so hot outside anyway. Casino - The casino was actually very nice and maybe a bit over-sized for the amount of people on board. It was never crowded and most of the blackjack tables went unused. I played roulette one night and was the only one at the wheel. Other times I was there, that too was deserted. My wife is not a big gambler, so she was pleasantly surprised not only by the fact that there were penny, two cent, and nickel slot machines, but just how many of each there were. On the downside, they don't payoff much at all. When I did finish playing roulette, I was up a grand total of $1. (Yep, I won a buck) I took that dollar and went to the two-cent slots to play for a bit. 47 spins later and I hadn't won a single time. So I had the machine give me a receipt for my remaining $.04. Instead of cashing it in, I kept it as proof that I left the casino with more money than I went in with. (Even though since I didn't cash in that's technically not true. I broke even.) My point for this last part was that while they have the small change slots, the return is VERY low and hence not fun enough to be worth your time. Restaurants - During our time on board we ate at only a handful of the restaurants and dining rooms. - The Seven Seas was on deck 5 aft which was almost directly below our room and became our go-to location. Compared to the formal dining rooms on other ships it was just as nice. No complaints at all. Further, we seemed to be seated at a window virtually every trip in, which was very nice. - We also ate at the Brazilian Steakhouse, which was a bit crowded - the tables seemed to be too close together, a bit bland decor-wise, and for some reason "bumpy". It felt like the floor was made of a row of washing machines, all in use at once. Very strange. However, the food MORE than made up for it. This place is a must! - We did eat at the Garden Cafe several times, mostly at lunch, and as everyone else posted, it's pure chaos. You can't get to the plates or silverware without cutting through the ice-cream and drink lines. There are three lines trying to queue up in a space where it's tough for more than one person to walk at a time. When you do get your plates, you need to make sure you have a napkin underneath to make sure you don't burn your hands. And nobody stays in line once they get their plate, they just walk up to what they want so you need to be paying attention or you get yourself and/or your plate knocked around. Then once you finish with your plates, you have to go squeeze back to get your drinks. Unless you eat at off times or don't mind crowds, avoid the Garden Cafe. - The Great Outdoor Cafe is at the aft of the ship, and as it's name implies, it's outside. It's still chaotic, since it is a buffet the same as the Garden Cafe, but as it isn't right next to the main deck & pool the crowds aren't as bad. It's a great place to eat as well if you are in port, or just want a breeze instead of a stuffy dining room. - The Sports Bar was our regular stop for evening munchies. The tables and chairs were both plentiful and comfortable, and there were more than an adequate number of TV screens. The downside was the only station in the Sports Bar was ESPN2. So having 10 screens all watching the same thing seemed a bit overkill. Entertainment areas - - The showroom theater was large and comfortable and for the most part the sight-lines were good. We watched one of the "shows" and the sound and lighting were excellent. The rest of our time there was watching several of the comedians and again, the sound and lighting were great. No problem seeing or hearing anything, even when we were sitting further back. - The conservation lounge is a hidden gem. It was extremely pretty with a private bar. Unfortunately we didn't get around to listening to any music or try some ballroom dancing up there. We had plans to do so, but we always ended up doing something else. - Las Ramblas was our favorite area. It was in the back of the ship on deck 12, and generally very underutilized. There was a female folk singer who appeared nightly that had a simply amazing voice, and the decor was straight from Barcelona. Well done. - Dazzles lounge was a bit of a disappointment. This was supposed to be the go-to nightlife spot, however it was the one place on the ship that I would classify as "too small". The dance floor was completely overwhelmed at times, especially during the "White Hot Party" and when there was a big late night show "standing room only" is an understatement. On a related note, the area to view the onboard pictures doubles as the walkway between the Theater and Dazzles, and if you happen to be looking at photos when a show lets out don't plan on moving from your spot for the next 10 minutes. - The Windjammer is next to Dazzles and is set up very nice. It's away from the Theater so it's much quieter and a great place to have a drink and listen to some jazz or piano music. My personal opinion is this bar could be improved by incorporating a "sing-along piano bar" atmosphere, which I believe would bring in more people and more fun. I, for one, would have been there more. It was pretty much deserted the majority of the time. - The Pool Deck. No real complaints here either. The stage on the one side was more than adequate for the afternoon music, and the pool bar on the other was rarely very crowded if you wanted to get a drink. Minor gripe: on the last day there was an outdoor BBQ which was a good idea in theory, but it took up half of the main deck, limiting the number of lounge chairs for people who wanted to be out in the sun. That mean people had to go other places on the ship to sunbathe and since this was the only place with pools, it was hard to take a quick dip to cool off, then go back to your chair.Food: Garden Cafe/Great Outdoor Cafe - The food in these two restaurants seemed a bit more limited than on other ships. I do admit to being not a fair judge, however, as I was trying (and only partly succeeding) at eating a low carb diet. The breakfasts were complete and it's hard to make a bad egg or bacon. As for lunches though, choices seemed thinner, unless you liked fish. There were plenty of fish dishes. There were always burgers available though, and I admit to enjoying those immensely. We avoided these two restaurants at dinner so I will refrain from comment. Seven Seas Dining Room - The food in here was the best I can remember on any of my cruises. Again, the number of options seemed about one notch down from what I remember in the past, but whatever I ordered was incredible. Brazilian Steakhouse - Wow. Totally worth the price. If it was just the two sirloins and the filet, it would have been worth the price. We also tried the beef ribs and the pork ribs which were decent, and we could have done without either the Chorizo or the other sausage. However the grilled pineapple was also a very big hit, and to be honest we were so full, we never even got around to trying the lime chicken legs and the bacon wrapped chicken breasts. Also, the salad bar was a huge upgrade to what was available in the Garden cafe. Sports Bar - Everything you've heard about the wings was correct. It was the only thing I ever ordered there, and we did so after more than a few late evenings.Bars: Las Ramblas - As I mentioned, the decor here was fantastic. However the chairs were rather uncomfortable, and you couldn't even move from a table to the bar since that had the exact same chairs, just with longer legs. However, the singer (Doolittle?) was the hidden gem of the trip. Staff: Pool - The pool staff left a bit to be desired. Not that we want to be hounded to buy drinks, but the staff seemed few and far between and I had to flag them down if we wanted anything. It was rare that anyone came up to ask. Very strange for a cruise. Room - Our room steward was Johnny, and he seemed to always be hanging in the hallway when we visited our room. He was always pleasant and when he saw we brought a case of soda on board with us (to avoid having to pay for an outrageous soda card) he kept our ice bucket full and a couple of cans chilled at all times. However throughout the week we only ended up with 3 towel animals, and no monkeys! What's up with that? :) Restaurant - The table staff in the Seven Seas was always attentive and polite, but not nearly as social or talkative as I can remember on other trips. No complaints at all with the service however, our glasses were never empty, our food always prompt, and plates cleared timely. Very pleasant. Medical - My wife hurt her foot stepping into a water taxi on the way to our Guatemala excursion, and was bothering her so much that we decided to get it checked out when we got back. The staff was excellent, the female head doctor took charge and was a riot to talk to. We were in, x-rayed, wrapped up and out very quickly, and they gave us a wheelchair to help her get around. Thumbs up here too! Reservation/Security - Here we have an issue. With the two late night fires (especially the first one) there was absolutely no sense of urgency, or any attempt made to calm concerns/fears. Once we were awoken by the horrible burning smell, we tried to call the reception desk. However, after letting the phone ring endlessly without anyone picking up, my wife finally went down to the front desk. The counter lady had zero concern and zero sense of urgency at the matter, regardless of the fact she was not the only one standing there reporting this matter. My wife is among those people who have huge phobias of fire, especially when they are contained on a ship out in the ocean with nowhere to go. About 30 minutes after reporting the matter, a security officer appeared in our hall and began by trying to tell the gathered guests that it "May not be a fire. I think it is that they are burning all the excess plastic waste and may be accidentally venting it through your rooms." That made us feel much better. *sarcasm* The boat isn't burning, but instead it is piping toxic gas into our rooms. He then began looking in various storage closets up and down the halls on the 9th and 10th floors and radioed to people about the strength of the burning odor. Another 20 minutes later a second officer appeared, and this time he pulled us aside and said "I think it's somebody smoking some really bad dope." and the he turned to my wife and said "You know the difference between good dope and bad dope and how awful the bad dope smells..." Seriously? Maintenance - We also had an issue here with the staff about the above TV problem. Again it was a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but for a review it should be mentioned: We called the TV problem in on day 3 and again a couple of days later and nothing was ever done. Granted, we did not spend a lot of time in the room trying to watch, but while we were getting dressed for dinners or the evening it would have been nice to be able to do so at that time. Again, the lack of urgency/care was unacceptable from NCL. Ports of Call: Cozumel - This was our favorite stop. We booked the 3 reef tour and after a brief wait on the pier gathering everyone up we were off on a mini replica of an old pirate ship. The rental equipment was in good shape and the snorkels were in individually wrapped bags and clearly cleaned. They collected the empty bags to ensure nothing ended up overboard. Also, the fins were adjustable which made it much easier and quicker to pass out. On previous trips this process took a lot longer trying to match up everyone with fins to their shoe size. This time we just slipped them on and pulled them tight. There wasn't really much difference between the three reefs, except the third was clearly much deeper than the first two. That made it harder to dive down deep, but also provided us with some much larger fish to look at. The reefs themselves were unspectacular to anyone who has snorkeled before, but the variety of fish more than made up for it. There were quite a few that I hadn't seen before on previous snorkeling trips, including some lionfish/sea robin looking things, stingray, several moray eels, and a couple of barracuda (which I probably got WAY too close to to take pictures of!). After the trip, we were provided with cold beer for the return to the pier. Once ashore, we visited the port shops and made stops in Senor Frogs as well as Carlos & Charlies. We came back with more than our share of souvenirs and fun. Guatemala - This was the huge disappointment of the trip, and the only one that "could have been foreseen". After speaking with NCL representatives over the phone prior to the trip and reviewing the NCL website, we decided to go to the Amatique Bay Resort for the BBQ as our excursion. We signed up online well before the cruise left, and it turned out to be a 100% waste of money. The resort was old and unkempt. The main pool wasn't nearly full, and in fact it was so low that it was a full foot below the skimming filters that there were staff on the sides of the pool with nets trying to keep the water clean. Also, the kids pool was so filthy that with the exception of a couple of locals, parents were keeping their kids clear. Our next issue was that as the excursion did not arrive until 12:30, the locals had gobbled up all of the lounge chairs and we were forced to lay on the uneven tiled concrete ground until a porter was able to round up a few extra from various corners of the resort. Further the "BBQ" was about 6 bins of cheap food: Rice, beans, burgers, some chicken pieces. While obviously this is not NCL's doing, the point is that if we wanted to swim - we could have stayed on the boat. The pool onboard was better - and free. If we wanted to sunbathe, we could have stayed on the boat and had nice lounge chairs and a place to sit - and that was free as well. And finally if we wanted lunch, we could have just eaten at the Garden Cafe, the food was better, both in quality and variety - and free! The good news is that it looks like NCL is no longer offering this excursion so they must have gotten the point. In fact I am not sure they are even returning to Guatemala anymore. Roatan would have been a much nicer stop. Belize - My wife hurt her foot so we were unable to take our planned excursion to go cave tubing, but that didn't keep us from getting off the ship and visiting the port area of Belize City. It definitely had a less "tourist" feel than Cozumel and more authentic "Caribbean" flavor. We stopped at Mamasitas for drinks and spent more money in various shops. Some of the highlights were talking to many of the shop owners who were clearly American, and they all had the same story. "I couldn't take my office job anymore so I packed everything up and moved down here. The money isn't very good, but I'm on vacation everyday and wouldn't change a thing!" I love stories like that. Anyway, this stop was limited only by ourselves and still gets a thumbs up from us! Key West - While we realize this stop needed to be short so we could leave on time to get us back to Port Canaveral on time the following morning, I wish there was still a better way to do this. Maybe make this stop the first one, even if it was in the afternoon and evening? Key West is all about the taverns (Sloppy Joes, Hogs Breath) and watching the sunset and we really couldn't enjoy either. It's hard to belly up to a bar at 8 in the morning. (Although we gave it an effort around 10:30am!). Even the shop owners were complaining that they had to get up early when the NCL ships are in port. Still, Key West is a fabulous and underrated stop with lots to do. We just wish we had more time...Nightlife: Shows - We are not much on the "revue" style shows so this cruise was actually a very pleasant surprise for us. The opening night was the only revue style show we attended, and while it was not up to what we saw on the NCL Jade or any of the Carnival boats, we were still entertained. Where this cruise stood out were the comedians. Having three different ones on board - all with a different style - was a very nice change of pace from what we expected. Ross Bennett was especially great. Both the juggler and the hypnotist were also very good. White Hot Party - We had been to another "White Hot Party" on the NCL Jade and had a total blast. So much so that my wife spent several days looking for just the right outfit to bring specifically for this party. Unfortunately, the Dazzles lounge is neither large enough, nor set up well for this. First of all, there was very little introduction to the party by the crew, and once it started the floor was taken over by High School aged teens. We waited for a bit to see if there was room to go dance but eventually we and the people we were there with decided to go find other things to do. A big letdown. The Chocolate Buffet - This was another letdown, but partly due to such high expectation set by our previous experiences. Instead of huge chocolate sculptures and several large milk/dark/white chocolate fondue fountains, this was pretty much a buffet line of various types of chocolate cake and mousses. We are die-hard "dark chocolate" lovers and were very much looking forward to a dark chocolate fondue fountain to dip some pineapple and banana into. There wasn't one. It was only milk chocolate. It hardly seems fair! :) Anyway, we took a couple of small eclair type things and left. The Quest - This on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. We had not seen this show before anywhere else. It was definitely adult themed and a lot of fun to watch. Our group decided not to participate, but it didn't keep us from enjoying ourselves immensely, and taking lots of pictures. Miss Doolittle - As we mentioned above, she was the find of the trip. We spent several evenings listening to her sing for a while. Great voice, especially with the Celtic music. Keep bringing her back! The Sports Lounge - The only spot for late night munchies. But the only one necessary. We spent some time here eating wings, especially waiting for our room to deodorize after we were forced from our room due to the burning fumes. Embarkation Process: This was easy. We took a cab over from the Radisson after we arrived in town several hours earlier than anticipated and didn't want to wait for our scheduled shuttle time. We were on a short line outside while they checked our passports and tickets, and this was actually the longest wait we had. Once we were in, and through the x-ray we went up the escalator and saw two lines. One had lots of people weaving in and out of the ropes and the other was empty. We asked a lady if there was any "rapid boarding" for previous NCL guests and she waived us through the empty line. She never even asked us for any proof. We stepped up to the counter, got our room keys and were on board within 3 minutes. Very nice.Disembarkation: This was also easy, as we decided to simply walk our bags off ourselves. We slept in a bit, then took an elevator down to the 5th floor and walked right off. There was a huge wait for the Radisson shuttle, but that's another story and has nothing to do with NCL. The NCL process was a piece of cake.Cruise Downsides: Seder (Passover) Dinner - We were planning on attending the onboard Seder dinner and actually signed up for it at the counter. We were told they would be finalizing the time and location. However, the next day we headed back to our room from the pool deck to find out the details and get ready around 5pm when we discovered it was to be held at 5:30. Seder dinners are supposed to be held after sundown so we were left unprepared, and hence we missed it. That was disappointing. From what we heard, it was very nice though. Fire #1 - As we mentioned above, it is always a downside when you get awoken by the smell of smoke & fire. Combined with the lack of urgency of the staff, the time of night that it occurred, the time required for the nauseating odor to leave our room, and the fact we had to get up early in the morning makes it really hard to not put this in a big-time negative column. Fire #2 - The fact that it happened again a couple of nights later, at almost the same time didn't help settle things. While it was corrected much quicker this time, the smell still kept us up late and banished to the Sports Bar until it cleared. And again we had an early morning planned. TV - Covered above. Upsides: No Life jackets: It may be the little things that make you happy, but not being required to wear your life jacket to the drill was very high up there. I HATE wearing those things, so this definitely started our trip off right. :) Summary: We had a great time, but nothing is perfect. You can enjoy your cruise or you can complain about it. We chose to enjoy it, and did so immensely. Would we cruise again? In a heartbeat? Would we sail again on NCL? Probably. (There are other cruise lines we haven't tried yet...) However, to be fair to those looking for an accurate review, we listed the downsides as well as the good things. So, do we have plans to go back to Guatemala? No. :) Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was a 24 night cruise (15 night repositioning and 9 nights in the Baltics).Embarkation was very quick and easy.We had an oceanview cabin that was so small, that the bed was positioned in front of our window. Unless we wanted to climb ... Read More
This was a 24 night cruise (15 night repositioning and 9 nights in the Baltics).Embarkation was very quick and easy.We had an oceanview cabin that was so small, that the bed was positioned in front of our window. Unless we wanted to climb on the bed, we had no view. We had about 6 inches of space between the bed and the walls, so getting we had to walk sideways to get into and out of bed. The room was clean and there was adequate space for our clothing. The windows were filthy and were never washed throughout our 24 night voyage.The Garden Cafe, (buffet) was ordinary and the food was tasteless.We decided to eat all of our meals in the dining room. The variety of the breakfast menu was adequate. We were shocked to see that the lunch menu was the same every day. There was very little to choose from. This is the only cruise that I have been on that did not vary their lunch menu. The dinner menu was adequate at best. It offered five entrees options each night. Some of them appeared to be the same food that was offered the night before with a different sauce and a different name. Overall, the food was good. The desserts were limited. I pretty much stuck to ice cream each night. The biggest joke on the ship was the cheesecake. Someone should inform the chef that cheesecake is not a pudding. The waiters were courteous but incompetent. They really need more training. We finally found an experienced waiter and stuck with him throughout the cruise.Room service was an adventure. I ordered coffee that was sent up quickly and efficiently. However, they sent a coffee pot but never sent a cup. I ordered yogurt and they sent it with a fork instead of a spoon. I ordered Raisin Bran cereal and they sent it up without a bowl.This is still a pretty ship. I love the fact that it is medium size. It is well maintained. However, the public rest rooms were not well kept.The entertainment was wonderful. The production shows were very entertaining. The only problem was that all the entertainment and entertainers repeated their acts during the last nine days of the cruise. This was inexcusable. The theater was mostly empty during these last nine days. When the passengers complained, we were told that the entertainment was booked by the NCL office. Our cruise director Pedro was the best we have ever had.This was a repositioning cruise and at one point we had six straight days at sea. To save money, NCL had no lecturers, Bridge instructors and no other forms of entertainment. They did have a trivia quiz and Name That Tune each day which of course did not cost NCL any money.All in all, we had a good time. However, all this cost cutting by NCL has convinced me to look elsewhere for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I booked my cruise in the UK being unaware that the USA school spring break was the same week. The ship had a high number of young people aged between 18 and 21. This really lifted the atmosphere on the ship and really made the cruise so ... Read More
I booked my cruise in the UK being unaware that the USA school spring break was the same week. The ship had a high number of young people aged between 18 and 21. This really lifted the atmosphere on the ship and really made the cruise so much more fun. Check in at Cape Canaveral went well with no queue at all at the Latitudes desk when we arrived. Boarding was smooth and we only waited about 20 mins after checking in before being able to board. Immediately on boarding the "Hard Sell" began as we were boarded through a lounge area which had desks set up selling everything from Spa treatments to Soda packages to bottles of water for your cabin. This was the start of the hard sell policy adopted by NCL throughout the cruise. Cabins were available from about 2pm. The cabin was a reasonable size and was clean. The bathroom was what you would expect on any average cruise ship. I found the Cabin Steward very helpful and keen to look after us but the standard fell short of what I had experienced on other ships, in particular the Thomson ships I have recently cruised on. The rest of the ship was clean and I exactly what I would expect. The deck areas had enough sun beds even for sea days. There are 2 pools with a bank of hot tubs between. These were very popular with the spring break kids. The food on board was average. The main dining rooms were well laid out and the service was good but again I felt this fell short of the service I had experienced on Thomson ships. The menu was reasonable and so was the food quality but I felt there was a better selection in the self service outlets on board. Wine was expensive ranging from $36 (£27) up plus a compulsory 15% service charge. All bar service drinks have 15% added and there is a $12 per person per day service charge automatically added to your account, tho you can adjust this by calling at the reception desk. On the down side I found the security staff intrusive. ALL bags, including suitcases were searched for alcohol which was confiscated and returned just before you left the ship. In fairness, I suspect the security was increased due to the high number od spring break kids on board but I sometimes felt I was on a prison ship rather than on holiday. At one point there were 4 security staff watching the pool area in the mid afternoon and the entertainment venues in the evening were also heavily policed.I also felt the security staff were "Over zelous" with their search procedures when we were re boarding after being ashore, with some searches being close to intimate. I also found the bar staff annoying with their constant quest to have you buy drinks. When trying to relax in the sun I was constantly being asked if I wanted a drink. It was so bad I even timed this and found I was being asked about 14 times an hour! When I did order a beer,the hard sell continued as they tried to get me to buy a six pack bucket rather than the one drink I asked for. Beers were almost $7 each (£4) Having said all of that, I still enjoyed my cruise. I just wish NCL would back off a little so customers could relax more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
My wife and i just got back from our 2 week cruise on the sun and here is my review. embarkation- very easy, almost to easy, get there early to avoid lines! disembarkation- very easy! the room- we had 0015 a BA balcony... it was a ... Read More
My wife and i just got back from our 2 week cruise on the sun and here is my review. embarkation- very easy, almost to easy, get there early to avoid lines! disembarkation- very easy! the room- we had 0015 a BA balcony... it was a nice size lots of storage room and would sleep 3-4 people as the couch pulls out into a bed. the balcony was fine, two chairs and a small table. it does make a loud noise when u move the chairs on the balcony and we heard that sound alot. the room in right below the fitness center... so we heard loud bangs from 630 am till 11 pm, we complained and after a couple days they moved us to room 0262 . also the door to the balcony( room 0015) made a loud whistle noise when the wind blew and i t was very annoying. both rooms had a bad smell of moldy shower curtain but it wasnt that bad as we had some air freshener. the food- breakfast- lunch- the buffets was very crowed and the ice cream was in the way of people trying to get in the dining room. the buffet was just fair, the food was ok, but very repetative, i had curry chicken like 8 times out of a 14 day cruise. i loved the pretzel rolls. The desserts were very poor compared to our other 2 cruises on the buffet. we only ate one time in the MDR for lunch and didnt care for it so we never went back dinner- the mdr was good nothing to complain about, desserts were good, we loved the creme brulee with chocolate ganache in it. specialty rest- we loved moderno the brazillian steakhouse. the salad bar alone was worth the 20 buck surcharge! the beed was good and the smoked bacon wrapped around chicken breast was our favorite. we ate at le bistro two times, once for valentines day (45 per person cover). it was pretty good but i dont think worth the cover charges. we ate at the east west steakhouse once and the shrimp cocktail was great and the steaks were very good. we enjoyed the sports bar and had the chicken wings and burger and fries. its a great place to go! Entertainment comedian rod long was very good , another comedian andrew kennedy was not very funny but good at impressions. juggler romono frediani was a treat to watch as we watched his show like 3 times since we did the back to back cruise. elvy rose was a singer and she was the best singer on a cruise we have seen. the suns on board production entertainment and dancers was not very good . the worst on the 3 cruises we have been on. cruise directer was shona blair, assistant cd was johnny cash and he was great! also juan who did bingo some was funny! did the white hot party one night and had fun but it didnt last very long. ports of call nassau- very crowded, someone always trying to sell things. wifi at the port building. st thomas- we did the sea lion swim and had fun! st martin- went to orient beach and had a blast, wave runners, and a nice beach, got crowed by midday as 5 ships were in port. cozumel- went to paradise beach, lots of water activities, slides, snorkel gear, floats, trampolines, wave runners, nice pools, bathrooms, all for 14 bucks guatemala- the port is just a shipping port, did the los escobas water fall excersion, interesting rainforest.. the city of santo thomas de castilla was very poor and is sad to ride through it. enjoyed the port though because we were the only ship and those people were so nice and want cruises to come there so bad! they even do a send off to the ship when you leave port BELIZE- did the raiders of the mayan cave excersion- long ride on bus, the cave was neat and the zip lines and rappeling were fun but short. lots of knockoff brands of bags and clothing at the port. key west- nice place - we just walked around and ate some key lime pie on a stick. we had to go through immigration before going on the island, it took forever, many people were upset. the ship- was nice size, looked to be in great shape, two pools, 4 hottubs, golf net, basketball court, ping pong tables overall i'd give the cruise a B Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We were on the Norwegian Sun February 26 Eastern Caribbean sailing out of Port Canaveral. We are in our early to mid 30s, and this is our 3rd cruise with NCL (and third cruise overall). Embarkation was very easy; the terminal at ... Read More
We were on the Norwegian Sun February 26 Eastern Caribbean sailing out of Port Canaveral. We are in our early to mid 30s, and this is our 3rd cruise with NCL (and third cruise overall). Embarkation was very easy; the terminal at Port Canaveral is nice and clean. We arrived around 10:30 am and were able to board the ship around 11:30 am as soon as it was cleared. The suite was very nice. The balcony was very large and had plenty of room for 2 loungers, 2 chairs, a regular table and a small side table. My only complaint with the room was the size of the shower stall. It was extremely small, and I much prefer the normal-sized showers that they have on the Dawn and the Jewel. The tub was huge though, and it had a flexible shower head that allowed one to cleanse with more room than the shower stall. The suite perks were very nice, especially priority embarkation and disembarkation, and our concierge Karin and butler Teodore were fantastic. The ship was not our favorite. The average age of the passengers was quite high, and with the exception of one group of 25-30 early spring breakers, there only seemed to be a handful of people our age. The entertainment seemed to be geared towards the older generation (which makes sense, given the demographics of the passengers - I just wish I had known ahead of time. NCL must expect an older crowd on this sailing, based on the scheduled entertainment and activities). Because of the Sun's smaller size, we felt some of our options were limited. We usually enjoy having a couple drinks at the outdoor bars after dinner, but everything seemed to shut down early on the Sun. The only options at night were the sports bar, the piano bar (Windjammer), or the Observation Lounge. Speaking of the Observation Lounge, the 2-for-1 martini special was nice in theory, but the bar staff seemed to be completely overwhelmed with the demand, even though the lounge wasn't that full. Other couples sitting near us waited about 30 minutes to receive their drinks. One last note about the ship: it is not exactly easy to get around. You can't really walk straight through several of the decks without having to go up or down a staircase or cut through a restaurant or lounge. Despite the Sun not being our favorite ship, we still had a very relaxing and enjoyable cruise. The staff overall provided excellent, friendly service, and we loved having the balcony to relax and enjoy the great weather. The food was OK/edible, but the quality has gone down, in my opinion. There seemed to be fewer entrEe options, though this is purely personal preference. I know you aren't going to get 4-star restaurant quality food in the main dining rooms, but our food on the Dawn and the Jewel seemed to be much better than the Sun. In the main dining room, we had a couple good meals, and several mediocre meals. Il Adagio, the Italian restaurant, was good, but the quality of food there should be the standard for the main dining rooms. Moderno, the Brazilian steakhouse, was pretty good. We still love NCL and will sail with them again - it just has to be on the right ship. We love the freestyle aspect, and the friendly staff. We purchased a cruise reward and are already looking forward to sailing again. The next time though, we want to try the Epic, or at least another ship with more options and hopefully more people our age. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We read that there were coffee makers in the rooms, but this was not the case. This was not a problem though as we were able to order a pot of coffee for each of us from room service. Some days we had it delivered at a specific time, but ... Read More
We read that there were coffee makers in the rooms, but this was not the case. This was not a problem though as we were able to order a pot of coffee for each of us from room service. Some days we had it delivered at a specific time, but others were ordered in the morning and always arrived quickly - like within 10 minutes. Hair dryers are in the stateroom, but they do not have adequate heat or air flow - suggest you bring your own along. You are issued a plastic card that serves as your room key and charge card for the entire trip - but carrying it around would have been easier if we had a plastic pouch/badge holder to wear around our necks (many of the cruisers had ones they got from prior cruise trips). While we had an ocean view room, we would get a balcony room if we had it to do over as we enjoy being outside in the evening or early morning. We discovered that the public areas were basically shut down, including chairs stacked up and tied down, by 6 each evening. If a day at the beach is on your agenda for a port of call, we found that there are beaches that are closer that what the cruise excursion staff tell you. For example, St. Thomas had a beach that was within a few miles that you can taxi too. St. Maarten had a beach within walking distance right along the shopping area. We learned that the cruise line has a "financial" interest in you signing up for their excursions, but there are other options available. This same holds true for "recommended" shopping stores - there are deals to be had everywhere. We loved freestyle dining, but were disappointed that many of the restaurants had a cover to eat at which really did limit what was really available choices. While we have shared our comments, we need to be clear that we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We attended some of the programs, and most were excellent. The cruise staff were always friendly and accommodating and ready to serve. St. Maarten was our favorite port, two for 1 Martini hour was a bargain both in cost and enjoyment, the Seahorse Sail and Snorkel was well worth it, and it was a trip of fun and relaxation of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We decided to start out our cruise with a trip to Walt Disney World first to start out our fun. Our friend from California, Peggy was with us on this one. We booked into the Animal Kingdom 2-bedroom villa in Kadoni Village where our deck ... Read More
We decided to start out our cruise with a trip to Walt Disney World first to start out our fun. Our friend from California, Peggy was with us on this one. We booked into the Animal Kingdom 2-bedroom villa in Kadoni Village where our deck was open to a savannah with animals walking about day and night. Some of those we watched were: giraffe, zebra, ankole cattle, red river hog, okapi, eland, antelope, kudu, impala, wildebeest, africn spoonbill, crowned crane, flamingo, stork ostrich, pelican and vulture. It was wonderful to watch and we got lots of pictures. I will go day to day so hopefully won't miss too much. Jan. 25th we arrived and got unpacked. Our groceries we had ordered arrived in a timely manner and everything was put away. We had a 2-bedroom villa with living room and kitchen...that night we ate at Sanna - a restaurant on the premises. We had bought the delux dining so we had reserved ahead of time all our lunches and dinners. Made it easy to know where to go. We had an early night as everyone was tired. Jan. 26th: Breakfast at Tuskar House in Animal Kingdom was for me - eating with the Characters is always a favorite of mine. It was buffet style and very good. We roamed around Animal Kingdom for the day, taking a safari ride and train, etc. That night we went to Polonisian resort for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner show. It was terrific. Food was flowing and so were the drinks. Back to our room for sleeping. We turned off the lights was could still see the animals outside. I loved the giraffes especially. Jan. 27th: We ate breakfast in and got ready at leisure. We had reservations for lunch at Sci Fi Theater and did Hollywood Studios for this day. Peggy was especially loving the booths here as we actually sat in old cars and watched the big screen during lunch. Fun, fun, fun! We road around on a trolly for a tour and just had a bunch of fun. I got my face painted with a design and it was like being a kid again. We returned to our room and dressed for dinner at the California Grill - our big night out with fireworks. This one I flubbed because I should have realized that people won't give up their tables on time if fireworks are involved. Anyway, it was a fun time and another day in the bucket. Jan. 28th: Friday was our last full day and we ate breakfast in room again. Having all that food available was good, but we had accumulated about 20 snacks that we had not used, so we bought them all at the store in the lodge and took them along on cruise. Lunch that day was at Epcot Living Seas (or whatever it is called now). We had a booth which faced the tanks and it was thrilling to watch all the sea creatures while eating. We explored Epcot that day and ate in Mexico for supper. As we walked along the countries sipping different wines we were approached by an employee who offered us VIP seating for the fireworks starting soon. We accepted and were shown to a front spot on the water. On the veranda above us was the group of Chilian miners who were visiting Disney. What a fun time we had. The fireworks were wonderful and we walked the other half of Epcot to get to the ride back home. We had to take buses most of the time since we were so far away from everything, but it was done in a timely manner. Jan. 29th: Time to leave our little kingdom. We had hired a limo to take us to the port and we arrived at the NCL Sun in style. We were shown on immediately with no lines. Nice to be VIPs....LOL Our luggage arrived, we met oour butler and room stewart (Larry) and decided to go to Teppanyaki for dinner. There were only 3 of us and it was a fun time. Peggy and I decided to buy the wine package and had wine every night with dinner no matter where we wound up. The dance party and welcome aboard was tonight and it was a lot of fun. Stacy Wayne preformed for the first time and was wonderful as usual. Bed time.... Jan. 30th - 1st full day and we are at Nassau in Bahamas. We took Peggy to Atlantis as she had not gone there. We bought the day pass for $25 each and roamed the grounds. We ate at the "cupcake" grill. It looks like a giant cupcake. Downstairs is an acquarium and you can also go through the larger one called the "digs". Beautiful place. That night we tried the new restaurant called Moderno Cehurrascaria or brazalian steakhouse. WOW! you gotta try it! All that different kinds of meat brought out on skewers....WOW! wonderful and delicious. (AND FILLILNG) At 8PM each night Steve and Jim had a dance party. Jan. 31st: Day at sea. Our cruise critic friends had set up a meet and mingle today and although we did show up, there were only about 10 of us. Don't know where the others were but we did get to meet a few. We signed up for 250 minutes of internet for $100.00. We could not get on very much and wound up cancelling and paying $35 for what we used. At 3PM Paul Revere and the Raiders were great and we had a good time, except when one of the waiters spilled a whole tray of drinks on my husband and did not even appologize. He later threw a dry rag at him and left again. I got it wet so Dave could get some of the sticky off. We ate dinner in the regular dining room. I should say here that Virginia paved the way every night where ever we wanted to eat we did not wait in line at all. Most nights we ate at 7PM and by-passed the lines. That was actually fun. We ate breakfast and lunch at DeAlgio (the Italian restaurant) most days where suites got to eat without all the pushing. Loved the attention. Another dance party and got to dance with my favorite fellow... Feb. 1: Day 4 was St. Thomas. The question and answer session was noon to 2PM. We just shopped in St. Thomas till we took a taxi over to town where we were going to go up in gondolas for famous drinks....at top of St. Thomas. On the ride over I realized I did not have my camera with me and sent Dave & Peggy on up to wait while I took another taxi back to try and find it. No luck - it was no where to be found. I had just bought it before cruise and paid a bunch for it. I was of course devistated. We had lunch and went down to Havensite shopping where I found a policewoman named Mary who sat with me and started calling around. The taxi we had left it in was the only one called love cab and was red. She actually found the guy and LOW & BEHOLD! he had my camera. We got to ride to the pier in a cop car and was re-united with my camera - less the money inside. But I was very happy and of course tipped the taxi driver $20.00. What an adventure! Back on board ship, we enjoyed a little rest, ate lunch and later, of course, dinner in dining room. Since it was a full port day, we did not have a show. Feb. 2nd: St. Marteen - Dave & I had a beach day - and Peggy went into town for a little bit. We met up after lunch and at 3PM were the Comets who were just wonderful. I realize I use that word a lot, but what else can you say? The coctail party and Jim & Steve's dance party ended another day. Feb. 3rd: Day 6 was a day at sea and Virginia our conceriege had helped myself and Peggy and Dave to arrange for Jimmy Jay and Chris White to put on a live broadcase with video feed in the DeAlgio restaurant after breakfast with all the stars. It was a fun time for everyone who could squeeze in. Later that day, Gary Pucket of Union Gap fame preformed for us. Jimmy Jay did the dance party that night along with Stacy Wayne as Elvis. It is fun to watch him perform and sing to his lovely wife. Feb. 4th: Last full day at sea. We had Chuck Negron performing with his son and an autograph session with all the stars. Very crowded! Afterwards, the last dinner at LBistro - Thanks Dave & Peggy - I love this restaurant. With all the chocolate fondu. Last dance party and early to bed (Is 1PM early?). We had arranged another limo to the airport and it was fun not to have to ride in a bus. After we left, there was a bomb scare on the Sun which delayed the next cruise a bit. Scarey! All in all, it was another fun rock n roll cruise with Tammy and Concerts at Sea. If I neglected telling about the ship, I guess I was more into the music part of it. Did not see any of the shows, but the Sun just got out of drydock. Our room stewart Larry was generally ok. Our butler Jerome did not live up to other ones we have had, but was mediocre. Virgina, our conceriege was the best! She was always around and doing something for us. Thanks Virginia. That's it for me. Another cruise in the bucket. Some day I will be able to say we have sailed 1000 times - maybe? Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I recently got off the NCL Sun which did a 5 day Mexico cruise before heading into dry dock for 12 days. This was my 5th NCL cruise and I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised. I did have some reservations about sailing on ... Read More
I recently got off the NCL Sun which did a 5 day Mexico cruise before heading into dry dock for 12 days. This was my 5th NCL cruise and I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised. I did have some reservations about sailing on the Sun because it's one of their older ships and I wasn't sure what to expect - boy was I pleasantly pleased. The overall appearance of the ship was really one of a well maintained ship. Sure that was some wear and tear but overall it doesn't look its age. We had an interior cabin on the 10th floor and to my surprise it was the 2nd largest inside cabin that we've ever stayed in. Now the shower was tiny but overall I'd book that same cabin on a 5 day cruise in a heartbeat. It's funny because my wife and I both agreed that we enjoyed our accommodations on the Sun better than we enjoyed our balcony cabin on our last NCL cruise, the Epic. Even though the Epic was newer we felt that due to the layout was too cramped. We had ample storage space as well. On big difference on the Sun was this - we watched the movie Inception in our cabin for free, whereas movies on the Epic were $12.99! Our dining experiences on the Sun consisted of Pacific Heights, Garden Cafe, Las Ramblas, Four Seasons and iL Adagio - twice. The food was acceptable but the service in Pacific Heights and iL Adagio was very good. We never had to wait to be seated. We really liked the location of il Adagio and considering the $10 surcharge we considered it a great bargin. The on-board ship entertainment was typical of what you'd expect - Comedian Bud, juggler Romaneo and special guest singer Elvy Rose in addition to the conventional ship's dancers. For those who haven't seen Elvy Rose this lady is a high energy singer who is, in her own words, loco! It was an enjoyable evening. I believe what made this a nice cruise was the ship's crew. This was one of the friendliest crews that I've encountered. There were smiles EVERYWHERE. From check in to our room cabin attendant, to the waiters, excursion desk and even the casino workers. The other thing I really enjoyed was being close to the ocean. It was nice to be able to walk on deck 6 and just relax and watch the ocean as we sailed along. Another thing I found nice was the coffee bar area on deck 5 with the sitting area. Las Ramblas is also a nice little area to have lunch or to go later at night for drinks and listen to the guitarist. The only dislike about my recent trip on the Sun? Smokey casino. Now it wasn't as bad as when I was on the Epic but when I got home and unpacked the clothes all smelled like smoke. Considering that the NCL Sun is a 10 year old ship and hasn't been refurbished since 2004 it was in surprisingly good shape. The Sun doesn't have an ice bar or a cirque dinner show. The Sun doesn't have a jazz nightclub or Blue Man Group. The Sun doesn't have any water slides or bowling alley's either! Even without all those bells and whistles, I really enjoyed my time on the Sun and especially with the crew! I guess it just goes to show that great customer service will trump the gaudy baubles; at least in my book. Nice job NCL, I'll be back. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Last March, my family and I took a cruise from Miami. Unfortunately that cruise was severely hampered due to torrential rains that left our flight delayed in Boston, and we ended up flying into Miami as our ship was leaving, forcing us to ... Read More
Last March, my family and I took a cruise from Miami. Unfortunately that cruise was severely hampered due to torrential rains that left our flight delayed in Boston, and we ended up flying into Miami as our ship was leaving, forcing us to spend an extra $3000 to fly to Grand Cayman, stay at a hotel, rent a car and catch our ship to go back to Miami. Why we couldn't have gotten on ship on the first stop in key west is beyond me but they said they can't process you through customs there. Regardless, that trip was more chaotic and added stress rather than giving us a chance to relax. Therefore we knew we had to get away, so we booked this Christmas to New years cruise which is the only option for us having a family member who works in the school system. We picked the Sun because we have enjoyed NCL in the past, and the price was right without having to make too many sacrifices. One thing I enjoyed about the Celebrity we took in March was the small size. After being on some cruises that are so large you find new rooms on the final day, the Celebrity was managed within the first day which was great since we only caught the cruise for the last 3 days. The Sun was similar. Not a huge ship, I was able to locate and know the ships rooms quickly and the ship was small on deck which is great when you tell a family member to meet me by the pool and you don't have to go search 3 different pools. Although the ship was full, and not the largest (wasn't small by any means) there never seemed to be a crowded room or deck. There were always room at the theater, deck chairs on the pool deck, room to move about, it was great after experiencing cruises that seemed to be overcrowded. One thing that my family loves is to go on a cruise ship and have the waiter know you and be able to entertain you at dinner, so the freestyle dining was a bit of a throw off. We didn't mind it as much as we thought we would however, many of the waiters still got to know you, were very friendly and attentive, however we did experience a few occasions of wrong orders, long wait times, and bad service. One of the nice things about freestyle is that you can choose when to eat, and the dining room was never full. The food on board was great. The buffets were open just about all the time with a wide selection of food. The ice cream was great and open till 10, the pizza was good but only open till 2 something that is odd, most cruises have late night pizza which is great to grab on the go. The sports bar was a favorite hang out of mine, and the wings that you can order off of a free menu are amazingly addictive. The dining hall food was great as well. I am an adventurous eater, and even when the menu didn't look great everything I had was amazing. It is customary for my family to order 2 appetizers, entree, desert and coffee. The courses were spaced evenly, and although each course contained small portions, the packed a lot of flavor, and came together to form a very filling meal. A few of my favorite dishes included the snapper, Chinese won ton noodles, black bean burger, and the escargot. I ate just about 24/7, and can honestly say that if you are an adventurous eater you will not be disappointed. The activities on the ship may have been less than other ships, but after many cruises, I have realized that all the activities are the same, pool games, newly wed games etc..., and since I was here to just relax, I did not mind. There was enough to do without being overwhelmed with a schedule. Many of the programs are fitness related, and while I did not partake, there is a great yet small gym, and plenty of room to shed some of the calories consumed. The shows were equally good. From comedians, to Broadway plays, to jugglers, and singers, each night provided fascinating entertainment. Each night, we had dinner at 6, a show at 730, hit the casino and donated some money after the show, then attended other entertainment until the late night, including great New Years Eve celebrations. The only downside to this cruise were the Ports. We have always enjoyed Cozumel, however Belize and Guatemala were depressing. There was absolutely nothing in Guatemala, and in Belize we took a horse and carriage ride through the town, and left you feeling sorry for the locals and their poverty. This did not detract so much from the cruise however since I could not leave the boat and be very happy. I know that most ports are very similar, and I do not cruise because of the ports. The final day, and maybe our only day of sun was in Key West. We docked at 7, then it took us over an hour to disembark through customs ( there has to be a better way) and we had to be back on board for 1230. This was disappointing because it was our nicest port and would have been nice to spend more time here. We had some friends who vacation there regularly and took us through town. Leaving the ship was a breeze as we chose to take advantage of the carry off luggage program, and were off the ship in under 20 minutes. Things were very efficient on this cruise with the exception of the key west fiasco. The staff were always friendly and very helpful (even with a few of the customers who I would have had to slapped) I was very pleased with my cruise as it gave me and my family a relaxing vacation, and a worry free week. Although the weather could have been better, we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Sun and would definitely recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
It has come to a recent tradition in our family to go on a cruise over Christmas. This was the third of the last four years to do so. We probably were a little spoiled with last year's last minute deal on the Costa Atlantica, getting ... Read More
It has come to a recent tradition in our family to go on a cruise over Christmas. This was the third of the last four years to do so. We probably were a little spoiled with last year's last minute deal on the Costa Atlantica, getting a Wellness Suite for next to nothing. This year, we booked far enough in advance, and the best option was the Norwegian Sun, a repeat of a ship we did four years ago. Of our 14 cruises, this is only the second time we've repeated a vessel (Disney Magic being the other). We had four rooms in our group. A balcony for my in-laws, an oceanview for 3 for my family of five, an inside for my sister-in-law's group of four, and another inside which got our other two stowe aways in the ocean view on the ship. We used it for storage. The balcony cabin was what you would expect. Nice size, well appointed, lots of storage. The oceanview was teeny. We pushed the queen against the wall and the two adults and the two year old slept there. The third bed, which wasn't made to full length accommodated the 7 and 4 year olds. There was very little storage and even less room to walk. The two inside cabins were huge. Lots of storage and lots of space. Last year, our embarkation was a breeze. Five minutes within arriving at the terminal, we were aboard. On Costa, you do most of the stuff onboard outside of verifying your eligibility to be on the ship. Amazed. This time, not so great. Everyone on land was grumpy. We got yelled at more than a few times. Maybe it was the fact they were working on Christmas. We arrived and were waiting for my in-laws who were inexplicably later than us. As we waited, we were told we should just board. We wanted to all board together. The lady didn't listen, got impatient with us and started to be snappy. While we were waiting for them, another person told us just to board. We said we were waiting for the rest of our party, and he snapped back, "well where are they?" Saying I didn't know, he snapped back, "you should. Just go onboard and wait." When we saw them arrive at the terminal and get through security, we started to get in line and the same woman who told us to board with out them, snapped at us again that we couldn't line up unless everyone in our party was ready. ARGH! Then we start to board, and the land crew tells us different directions to board, starts to get into a short argument and finally lets us on. Once we got on the ship, things got better. However, there was one thing that put a black mark on this voyage and that was the weather. We know that's out of NCL's control, but we had very little sun on this trip. All but two days were completely cloudy. Our first day at sea was rough. Barf bags were put out all over this ship. One of our party suffered through it. Every time she went to deck 11, she vomited. After day 1, we had smooth seas and no more sea sickness. Dining was fantastic. All our food was very well done. Main dining rooms were a little slow, however. Last April, we were on the Norwegian Star, and our four-course dinners took just over an hour. This trip, we typically had two hour dinners. Granted we had more people this time. After the second night, they remembered our preferred dining time and the number of seats we needed and held a table for us. That was very accommodating. Of the 11 of us, 5 were age appropriate for the kids club. My 7-year-old has been on 11 cruises and this was the first time she was willing to go to kids club. The 4-year old and 2-year old were begging to go. The 2-year old even cried the last night we had to take him out and tried to run back in, despite being there for three hours. Whatever went on in there, the kids loved. Entertainment was good. We saw three shows. Two were music based and were entertaining. Not great, but enjoyable. The juggler, Romano Frediani, was awful. We couldn't decide if he was just a bad juggler or a bad juggler on purpose in order to get laughs. His show was a train wreck and only got good after the audience started heckling. The casino staff was very knowledgeable and very friendly. In fact, all of the on-board staff was fantastic. A complete 180 of the ground staff. The only thing that was annoying outside of the weather was presenting to customs first thing in the morning in Key West, our last day. The line was 45 minutes long and not real fun. Disembarkation was a breeze. No wait at customs and our luggage was waiting for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This review hopefully will give information for those that are about to sail on the NCL Sun. This was the 7 day eastern cruise on Nov 6, 2010. This was our first cruise on NCL, but our 22nd overall. We had been warned on other cruises ... Read More
This review hopefully will give information for those that are about to sail on the NCL Sun. This was the 7 day eastern cruise on Nov 6, 2010. This was our first cruise on NCL, but our 22nd overall. We had been warned on other cruises that NCL did not have the best record, but seeing that the Sun was sailing out of Port Canaveral and the recent reviews were not so bad and that the price was attractive, we decided to give it a try. We arrived at the port at about noon; waited several minutes outside to go through security screening; waited about 10-15 minutes in the line for registration and finally we boarded about 12:35. The photo for your identification is taken at the registration desk and not as you enter the ship. This is the first ship that we have been on where you can have a sit down lunch in the main dining room and do not have go to the 11th deck for free-for-all buffet. Earlier reviews complained about the garden cafe being jammed. So we ate in the 7 seas (aft deck 5), had a peaceful lunch and about 2 PM we went to our room that was ready. The boat drill is at 3:30 - don't go until the alarm sounds at 3:30. You will have to wait as it is for about 15 minutes. Do not take you life jacket. Cabin - We we were on deck 8 mid ship in an inside cabin meant for up to 5 people. It was as wide as it was deep. We had double the storage that we needed. The cabin stewards work as a pair and they never introduced themselves but did an excellent job. The room was very quiet and you could not even hear the toilets of the other rooms flushing. There is only one 110 volt and two 220 volt outlets at the desk. Bathroom - there is a hair dryer over the toilet, but it is weak and probably will take twice as long to dry your hair. The bathroom is not equipped with much. There is liquid soap at the sink; liquid shampoo and shower gel in the shower - no bar soap!!! Entertainment - the main theater is aft - not forward and is right over the 7 seas restaurant. The shows are not the best. The production shows were 5 girls singing on Tuesday and the 12 member cast for "encore" which was on Thursday night, which was good. Other nights were single performers. No problem getting a seat - we came at the starting time. Shows are at 7:30 and 9:30. Dining - It is freestyle. We did not go to the speciality dining areas as the two main dining rooms were fine. There were 6 in our group and we had no waiting when we went at 5:45 and 6:30. The 7 seas and 4 seasons serve the same menu. We ate aft in the 7 seas about 6:30 for the first two nights, but we were right over the propellers and we had more vibration and noise, so for the remaining nights we ate in the 4 seasons (mid ship)at 5:45 so we could go to the shows. The food was quite good we thought. Lobster tails, prime rib, etc. The staff was very pleasant. 4 seasons opens at 5:30; 7 seas opens at 6 PM. I brought a sport coat and slacks, but I never used the coat. I did not see anyone with a tux and about 15% of the guys wore a coat of some type. Getting around - like many ships, the galley is between the two dining rooms, so you cannot cross deck 5. On deck 6 you have to walk through the night club. The rear has 4 elevators that serve the garden cafe, the theater, and the 7 seas restaurant - so it can be a little crowded around show time. Forward are 8 elevators. There are two on each side of the atrium and those two that are aft of the atrium get the most use. I used the larger ones that are forward as there is usually no wait. At the ports of call the 4 elevators forward are the ones used as you exit on deck 3. Ports of call - Nassau 5 ships in town - very crowded. St Thomas - very crowded and we did not arrive until 12:30, there a delay, so no one left until 1 PM which was 2 PM local time. So the stairwells were jammed for everyone trying to get off. There was only about 3 hours of day light left. It was drizzling, so we did only a little shopping at the Havensight pier. St Martin - we docked at the new pier right next to the Oasis of the Seas which made us look like a raft. There were many people in port with 4 ships. We did not take it, but the $20 3 hour tour of the whole island is still available at the taxi stand. Remember when you book a ship's tour, it goes rain or shine and is cancelled only due to safety. Booze purchase - St Thomas was 10% less that the ship's prices and St Marteen downtown was 20% less. You are allowed 5 liters per person as long as 1 bottle was a product of St Thomas. Going through customs, the agent asked me how many bottles I had, I said 5, he said have a good day. You have to retrieve your bottles on Friday as they do not deliver them. Saturday - You can stay in your room until 9 AM. On Thursday you go to the lobby to get the tags for your suitcases - you choose what time that you want to get off. We chose the earliest for suitcases to be picked up at the terminal which was lime - green. It really wound up being about the last to get off the ship as there was a jam at the meeting point in the terminal. It was very poorly organized. Overall, if you are in to a relaxed cruise, this may be it it. I was somewhat bored as we had been to the stops and also due to very few activities. The rough seas and so so weather did not help. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was our ninth cruise, the fifth on Norwegian, and the first on the Sun. I am by no means an expert on cruising but I have been enough times now to have comparables to judge from. I am 41 and my wife is 38 and we have also cruised with ... Read More
This was our ninth cruise, the fifth on Norwegian, and the first on the Sun. I am by no means an expert on cruising but I have been enough times now to have comparables to judge from. I am 41 and my wife is 38 and we have also cruised with Carnival and Royal Caribbean. This cruise took us on a seven day trip from Port Canaveral to Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. This was our second embarkation from Port Canaveral and I must say, both times the boarding process was extremely smooth and hassle free. We arrived at the port around 11 am and were walking on the pool deck in less than a half hour. We are inside room folks because I am not a firm believer of paying for the upgraded rooms if we only plan to sleep in it. On this particular cruise, we were upgraded by the cruise line due to a minor technicality on their part, and put in a room on deck 9 that was still inside but slightly larger than the rooms we have been used to. The room had all the standard features you see on the other cruise lines such as a television, fridge, and ample closet space. The bathroom was the usual small but functional room. I found the shower to be a little smaller than what I have remembered but it worked out fine. Our two room stewards we very responsive, polite and I appreciate the fact that they remembered our names each time we pass them when returning to our stateroom. They both did a great job keeping our room tidy for the week. Over all, the Sun is in very good condition. The crew does an exceptional job of keeping all the public areas very clean and well maintained. Despite being a smaller ship than other NCL ships we have been on, all the usual venues were available as far as restaurants, lounges, shopping, casino and dining rooms, but on a slightly smaller scale. We found the casino to be one of the smallest we have seen and it was nice that the Stardust Lounge, where most of the entertainment was done, didn't force you to walk through the casino to get to other locations on the ship when a show was finished. Being a small casino it seemed that the smoke from cigarettes was overpowering and being non-smokers, we found using the casino to be bothersome and chose to spend only a marginal amount of time in there. The Stardust Lounge first appeared to be poorly designed. When we looked at it on the first day it seemed as though many seats would have obstructed views but we found that if we got their early enough, we had choice seats with great visibility each time. It is a small theatre and most shows only ran once so accommodating everyone on this ship was not possible. We were disappointed that quite a few of the activities took place in Dazzles Lounge and seating was very limited with even poorer visibility. Some of the more popular activities such as Norwegian Idol and the Newly Wed game should have been scheduled for the theatre because there was enough room for all who wanted to watch. Let's talk food. My family is generally very easy to please and we can put up with quite a bit of disappointment before allowing it to ruin our vacation. However, and because a lot of people look forward to the food on their cruises, I would not want you to get too excited about the options on the Sun. Although this didn't ruin our vacation, it did overshadow it. The buffet on this ship is the smallest buffet I have ever seen on any of our cruises. It was poorly designed which created severe bottlenecks at the entrances, the food selections were very minimal and usually appeared to be "left-overs" from the dining room's evening meal the night before. Traffic flowed very poorly and it was exceedingly common to see someone cut off others, who had been waiting in line, to reach in for an item. There was clear frustration from most dining in the buffet so we found it easier to eat most of our meals in the dining rooms. The food in the dining rooms always had decent selections and we enjoyed most of our meals. It did seem as thought there was a staffing shortage in the dining rooms. Most cruises we've been on had a waiter and an assistant for each table. On this trip we would have several people servicing our table and in some cases as many as five. What I mean by shortage of staff is that even though we had that many people, there was usually quite a bit of waiting between courses, errors were made with our orders and the wait staff would be serving many other tables scattered around the dining room as opposed to keeping a waitperson centrally located. We did have dinner one night in the East Meets West steakhouse which was worth every penny we had paid extra for. In the "free" dining room the steak that was on the menu one evening was completely tasteless. They served ½ lobster tails on two different occasions during the week and we were hugely disappointed. Being from Maine we are partial to Maine lobster so we don't get too excited about the rock lobster that is served. Furthermore, because the lobster is prepared ahead of time it was over cooked, very tough and dry. Most of the food was good but not the outstanding quality you would expect on a cruise. The entertainment was just ok. There was a comedian named Bud that only made us laugh a few times and a juggler with five Italian names that performed all the same stuff you see from every other juggler. The house entertainment was very good however as they performed some popular Broadway songs from newer Broadway hits. The Cruise Director's staff was entertaining as well and did a good job when presenting different activities. It seemed as though there were times when there weren't a lot of sponsored activities to do on the sea days. If you have done many cruises in the Caribbean you have already been to Nassau and St. Thomas. Both are good places for shopping but I find Nassau to be rather dirty and it surprises me that the locals don't do a better job of keeping up with the maintenance of their streets and buildings so as to be presentable to the thousands of cruisers who get off the ships there each day. We took an NCL sponsored excursion to the Blue Lagoon which was a beautiful secluded beach but the high winds made it difficult to enjoy the day. St. Thomas is better kept and cleaner but unfortunately it rained the day we were there so we just wandered around the local shops. The day at St. Maarten was a first for us and we hired a local driver to take us all around the island to see all the popular spots. He charged us $30 each and we spent two and a half hours with him. Try to get over to the beach by the airport around 1 in the afternoon. You will be astonished at what you see. He stopped where we wanted to stop and took us to a popular shopping area. We got to see both the French and Dutch sides of the island. His English was poor but for the most part we understood the important things he was trying to tell us. At no fault of NCL, we were at the mercy of the hurricane season. We have taken several cruises in November before and never had problems with the seas but this trip, every day and night was rocking and rolling through the waves. We didn't get sea-sick at all but it makes it much harder to get around the ship when you're unable to walk straight. Regardless, we have yet to be completely dissatisfied with any cruise we have been on, like I said we are rather easy to please. Disembarkation was a breeze. We did the self-disembarkation and found the process to be very quick and hassle free. There were people in front of us who left their luggage outside their stateroom the night before who were put back on this ship for failing to follow instructions. Folks who left their luggage out were not allowed to take part in the self-process because their luggage was not ready at the pickup points. Folks with very high standards and expectations would be unhappy with this cruise but for the rest of us, I would have given this cruise a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being exceptional). Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Background information: We're two sisters in our 50s who were taking a cruise for the first time. We chose the Sun because of its freestyle dining plan, because we didn't want to have to get dressed up and because it was leaving ... Read More
Background information: We're two sisters in our 50s who were taking a cruise for the first time. We chose the Sun because of its freestyle dining plan, because we didn't want to have to get dressed up and because it was leaving from Port Canaveral, near where one of us lives. Travel to Port of Embarkation: Because I live nearby, we didn't have to mess with public transportation to get to the port. Ship Info: The Sun was embarking from Port Canaveral, Florida, for the first time - and this was also the first time any NCL ship has left from Port Canaveral. I suspect that the newness of the port to NCL and the crew's inexperience with this particular itinerary may have led to the one major problem - debarkation - that we experienced. More on that later. Stateroom: We loved our stateroom, which was a balcony room on Deck 10. The twin beds were really comfortable, there was more than enough storage for a week's worth of stuff, and we spent hours on the balcony, just reading and watching the sea. The room was spotless (although the sofa upholstery was a little worn-looking), and the bathroom, while small, was fine. My only quibble is that when the beds are made up as twins, there's very little room to get around the bed that's closer to the bathroom. Big deal - we managed. We spent most of our time in our room, on the pool deck and on the deck above the pool and were really happy to find plenty of places that were uncrowded and quiet. The indoor observation lounge was pleasant during windy days, and the outdoor area under awnings at the very rear of the ship couldn't have been nicer. We ate most of our lunches there. Like many people, I used the promenade deck for exercise and was a little disappointed that it doesn't open until 8 each morning. One morning I went to the health club and walked on the treadmill there. There were only about three other people there, and my only complaint is that the large TV screens on the treadmills block your view of the sea! Dining: One of the attractions for me on the Sun was Pacific Heights, which I'd heard was affiliated with Cooking Light magazine and served lighter fare. It turns out that this affiliation died some time back, and our two dinners at Pacific Heights were a little disappointing - just not very interesting, and not especially light. We did have a delicious omelet there one morning (the Pacific Heights breakfasts, for some reason, aren't advertised, and if you want anything other than omelets and waffles you have to bus it in yourself from the buffet). We ate a couple of meals in the Seven Seas main dining room, which was pleasant but, like Pacific Heights, not especially interesting. We also had fairly good tapas a couple of nights at Las Ramblas, which served as dinner. The best meals we had were at Le Bistro ($20 surcharge) and Il Adagio ($10 surcharge). Le Bistro, especially, is a lovely little room, and the food at both places was very good. I celebrated my birthday at Le Bistro, and we were tickled that the servers sang "Happy Birthday" to me (in about four different keys and four different accents) and presented me with a cake. Several couples were celebrating anniversaries, and they got both "Happy Birthday" and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." That was a stitch. Most mornings we ordered breakfast from room service, and that turned out to be great. They always phoned to say it was coming, and it always came exactly when we wanted it. It's nice to be able to start the day quietly in the comfort of your own room. Activities and entertainment: We are not the kind of people who wanted to party heavily or spend a lot of time in organized activities. We sat out by the pool or on our balcony and read a lot of the time. So the organized activities we took part in were minimal -- no bingo, no casino, no beer tastings or trivia games. We did go to several shows in the evenings. Kim Doolittle, the singer and guitarist in Las Ramblas, has a nice voice and played a lot of songs we knew from the '60s and '70s; we enjoyed her. We also enjoyed Jeri Sager, the very talented Broadway-style singer in the Stardust Theatre -- although we would have liked it better if she had chosen songs that aren't performed quite so often. (I suspect that most of the audience loves hearing "Memory" over and over, but we go to a lot of theater at home and would've loved slightly less familiar stuff.) We passed on the magician and comedian and only had contact with the bingo woman (the assistant cruise director, maybe?) on the pool deck. She came on very strong and we found her pretty irritating. Service: Our room stewards on the Norway Deck, Ferdinand and Jonathan, couldn't have been friendlier or more helpful. We also had good service from all of the servers we encountered at dinner in the Seven Seas main dining room, Pacific Heights, Le Bistro and Il Adagio and for drinks at Las Ramblas. I was less impressed with the customer service at the reception desk on Deck 5 and with the few staff members we encountered elsewhere (the duty-free shop, the coffee bar on Deck 5), who did their jobs but were not especially friendly. During the disembarkation fiasco, in Key West and at the end of the cruise, there were way too few staff members around to help us out. Port & Shore Excursions: We did a lot of research before choosing which excursions we did, and it really paid off. In Cozumel, we booked the Nachi Cocum beach club ($49 apiece) and loved it. The club limits its guests to 100 a day, so the beach is uncrowded and quiet. For our $49 we got a day at the beach under a thatched umbrella; all we could drink (I went for the excellent margaritas); a filling lunch of chicken, black beans and rice, plus a delicious flan; and all the blue water we could see. The cab ride from the port to Nachi Cocum took about 10-15 minutes and was $16 each way. To keep in touch with family at home, we also found an internet cafe about six or eight buildings down from the pier where the ship was docked -- $1 for 30 minutes, which is hard to beat. The next day, in Santo Tomas de Castilla, we decided not to go on an excursion but to spend a quiet day on the ship. We'd heard that there wasn't much to do in Santo Tomas and also that the area is very poor and can be dangerous. But we were also happy to stay onboard when most passengers were off on excursions. We did get off and go into the market that's right at the port, where we had a great time looking at and buying some of the gorgeous Guatemalan fabric (tablecloths, bedspreads, placemats, bags and so on) that was for sale. In the market we found a convenient internet cafe, which charged $3 for 30 minutes - again, a bargain, considering that using the internet on the ship cost 75 cents a minute. In Belize City we opted to take one of NCL's excursions, largely because we wanted to see Mayan ruins and they were a pretty good trek from the port. We chose the trip that combined the Altun Ha ruins and a trip down the Old Belize River. A terrific guide named Simone accompanied us on a bus ride that lasted maybe an hour, from the port to Altun Ha. She was full of personality: She gave us lots of information about her country, but she was also very funny and made the trip a pleasure. We spent 45 minutes or an hour at Altun Ha (very extensive and interesting) and then took the bus a short distance to the river bank, where we had a good lunch and then cruised an hour or two down the river back to the Belize City port. Along the way we saw lots of howler monkeys, two or three crocodiles, a bunch of big iguanas, tiny bats, many birds and other wildlife. The boat captain obligingly got close to as many animals as he could so that we could take pictures. This was a terrific trip - our favorite of the cruise. (For internet junkies, in the Belize Tourism Village I asked somebody with a tourism-info badge where to find an internet cafe, and the person gave me a certificate that allowed me to use the internet there for free. Again, what a deal!) I'd been to Key West many times before and had a few specific things I wanted my sister to see. Unfortunately, because of the chaos we had in disembarking (more on that later), our already brief time there was made even shorter and we weren't able to visit the Hemingway House. We did manage to have a lovely breakfast at Latitudes on Sunset Key (you book it through the Westin Hotel and then take a small boat on a 6-minute ride from the cruise ship pier to Sunset Key), and we took the Old Town Trolley ride around the Key West historic district, which at least gave my sister an idea of what the place looks like. We didn't have time to do any more than that. Disembarkation: Getting off the ship at Key West and then again at Port Canaveral was the major trauma of the cruise. In Key West, we were informed the night before that we all would have to go through immigration because we were reentering the U.S. We were told to go to the Starlight Theatre at a certain time the next morning (ours, I think, was around 7:10 a.m.) Unfortunately, the whole system went wildly wrong, and there was a line that seemed to stretch from one end of the ship to the other. Many of us stood in it for an hour or more. When we finally got to the head of the line, there were only two immigration officials to deal with all of us - no wonder it took so long! The whole thing seemed like a snafu between U.S. Immigration and NCL, but there were almost no NCL staff members around to explain what was going on or direct us. I suspect that this problem will be cleared up the next time the Sun hits Key West. The next morning, though, when we arrived back at Port Canaveral, the chaos was even worse. Apparently we all were supposed to have received instructions several days earlier about how to disembark - either to carry our own luggage off or to get a colored tag and disembark at a certain time. I can't speak for others, but my sister and I never received the info, and as first-time cruisers we had no clue what to do. It almost didn't matter, though, because the whole system fell apart, and it seemed as if everybody on the ship was jammed into the public spaces on Deck 5, waiting to get off. We basically waited there, listening to other people whine and moan, from 8 a.m. until about 10:30 a.m., when our color was called and we could disembark. It was mainly frustrating because there was no staff around to tell us what was going on, and the few announcements we heard from the cruise director gave us no useful information at all. And yet ... As I said, we heard a lot of whining during those two chaotic times. We're no Pollyannas, but we quickly realized that there was nothing we could do to make the situation better and we might as well not join the whiners. It was a lot more pleasant to joke about the logjams than to bitch about them, and the time went a lot faster that way. I wouldn't want to repeat the disembarking experience, but life is too short to whine about it. I suspect that NCL will solve the problem very quickly. Summary: We loved our cruise and are suffering post-partum depression big time. A lot of the activities on the Sun weren't exactly aimed at us, but we found lots to our liking, and we were thrilled to be there just about all of the time. I think a cruise is what you make it, and we found the Sun to be just about all we wanted it to be. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
It was the first cruise for 6 of the 8 peoples of our group. So I chose this cruise because of the freestyle and it was right next to Orlando were we spent a week in the theme parks. So. it was very convenient. The ship shows its ... Read More
It was the first cruise for 6 of the 8 peoples of our group. So I chose this cruise because of the freestyle and it was right next to Orlando were we spent a week in the theme parks. So. it was very convenient. The ship shows its age, however, the cabin was one of the best I had in the cruises I have been on. Very large and clean. The sofa would need to be changed, but didn't bother us. Food : In all places we went ( basically 4 seasons and buffet ) the food was always good to great, no problem there. The fact that it was a freestyle cruise, we couldn't have any relationship with our waiters so, the service was ok, not more. At some occasion we have great service but not overall. Ship layout: If we compare to the other ships I was on, the layout somewhat bother me. I don't know, this might be because of the 'not too recent' ship. Nothing too bad, but I don't think the overall layout of the ship was convenient. Disembarkation: Uggh..what a nightmare! Very disorganized. We took the freestyle debarkation option and we had to wait for at least 1h45 minutes in the lobby before getting out. It was not a good experience at all. However, since it was one of the first experience with NCL and Port Canaveral, I am sure this will be much better for the next few cruises. Custom and Immigration tool forever to clear the ship! But this has nothing to do with NCL. Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala I was really sceptical about this port....however, WOW what a nice time. We were greeted by the most warm peoples I have never encountered before ( and I do travel a lot ). We had the best greeting I have never experience in all the cruises I did before. They had set-up a red carpet alley that led us to a wonderful market where we could buy some stuff such as coffee and artisans gifts. We did the Las Escobas Waterfalls excursion, our tour guide was fantastic and gave us a great service. The falls it selves were 'dry' ( so not a lot of falls ) however, we could swim in the natural water within the rain forest. It was also great to simply walk into it. The Best part : Our tour guide told us there would be a sail away show that the peoples would be presenting as a thank you for coming to visit them. The show would be at 7pm. Well, what a touching moment, all of them ( tour guides, bus drivers, taxis drivers, the merchants and some folkloric dancers ) they were all on the pier dancing to the music. It was awesome, while we were leaving the port, some very smart travelers thought of grabbing a white towel to wave goodbye at them from the balcony...So, what do you think happened? Everyone went to their cabin grab a white towel and wave at these marvelous peoples. This was a unique experience that I will always remember. I really want to go back to Guatemala now!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was our second cruise this year on Sun and eighth cruise overall for DDP and me. Previously we have cruised on Celebrity to Alaska, NCL Sun to the Western Caribbean and South American, Atlantis (Gay Charter aboard X) to the Eastern ... Read More
This was our second cruise this year on Sun and eighth cruise overall for DDP and me. Previously we have cruised on Celebrity to Alaska, NCL Sun to the Western Caribbean and South American, Atlantis (Gay Charter aboard X) to the Eastern Caribbean, Eastern Med on NCL Jade, Costa Eastern Caribbean, and Thanksgiving 2008 to the Mexican Riviera on NCL Star. All in all, we had a pretty good experience. We were introducing some friends to cruising and they enjoyed it. Our only real complaints all had to do with delays in embarkation and debarkations. This was Sun's first departure from Cape Canaveral and there were numerous problems both for our departure on October 16th and our return on October 23rd....and chaos reigned during our immigration clearance in Key West. We decided this was the Tardy for the Party Cruise! Precruise We departed RDU aboard Southwest on Friday around 5pm and after an uneventful flight arrived in Orlando. I checked us in exactly 24 hours ahead and we had boarding passes B24 & 25 so not exactly great but we both ended up with aisle seats so no real complaints. For the return, I did the earlybird check in for $10 each and we got A20 & 21 so if you want to be sure you get a good seat, it is probably worth the money. We arrived in Orlando about 10 minutes early and so did one of our friends flying in from Chicago via Airtran. We had rented a car from Avis to get the three of us to Port Canaveral using a coupon from RentalMamma.com, the cost was $44 including all taxes and fees. While DDP collected the luggage, I headed to the Avis counter. On the way there I noticed that my confirmation printout had the "preferred" logo on it and since there was a loooong line in the terminal, I headed on out to the garage to the preferred counter. When I got to the agent she pointed out that I wasn't a preferred customer, the logo on my confirmation was simply letting me know that this location had a preferred desk. I nicely asked if she couldn't go ahead and check me in; she said no that I had to go back inside....so back I went. Of course by now the line was even longer - turns out they had a server issue and had to prepare each person's contract by hand! It wouldn't have bothered me so much but there were four agents working their butts off in the terminal while two of the three at the preferred counter in the garage were doing nothing when I was there the first time nor again 45 minutes later when we went back to the garage to get our car.....oh, well, no biggie/ Not gonna let it ruin our vacation, we were off to Port Canaveral. The drive was quick and easy - would have been quicker and easier if I had of remembered to bring quarters for the toll, but 45 minutes later we were at the Country Inn and Suites and checked in. I had booked about a month pre-cruise on Priceline - $70 plus tax and fee - total of $85. Room was fine, front desk staff pleasant. We were given a parking pass that we didn't need so we could have parked there for the whole cruise even though according to what I read on the great "I worked at Port Canaveral" post, you aren't supposed to be able to when you book through Priceline. Our only complaint with the hotel was the breakfast. It was a madhouse, our first of several that day. Too many people in too small an area and with the exception of the cereal, none of the food including the coffee was very tasty. Wasn't a big deal at the time as we thought we would be having lunch in Sun's MDR by noon or shortly after....but as noted in the headline to this review.....our first lunch like so much else be tardy. Embarkation For reasons that I still can't figure out rather than being at the terminal at 11:30 am as planned, WE were a little tardy getting started and didn't get to the Avis office until about 11:30. We waited maybe 10 minutes for their complementary shuttle, and were off to the ship. After dropping other passengers off at Carnival's Dream and Disney's Magic, there were just the four of us heading around the parking lot to Sun. We quickly hit what looked like a 5 o'clock traffic jam - taxis, cars and shuttles all backed up. The Avis driver mentioned that Sun hadn't started letting passengers off the ship until sometime after 9 am even though it had been in port when she came into work at 6:30. We finally made it to the baggage drop zone, dropped them and then walked to get in the long line waiting to enter the building. We got in line at about noon. We had four other friends who were also joining us on the trip and they had all stayed at the Residence Inn and had arrived at the terminal around 11:15. They texted us that they were in the cattle corral waiting to check in. The line we were in moved relatively quickly and we were through security by 12:30 when we joined the cattle corral. We finally made it to the front of the line so we thought we were home free. It quickly became apparent that at least some of the tardiness was due to the inexperienced agents checking everyone in. Although there were several (six or seven?) manager types moving from one check in station to another, it seemed that almost all the agents were waiting for help. Our agent had to be reminded -by us no less - to go get our key card from those boxes "over there" and then she handed them to us before she took our pictures! After pointing that out to her, we finally had our key cards and headed on over to the "sit in those chairs until you are called" zone. From here we watched row by row go have their embarkation picture taken and head down the glass enclosed walkway to the gangway. After 20-30 minutes, our row was called and off we went. Finally at 1:45 we swiped our keycards and were aboard! So what was usually a 20-30 minute process had taken over an hour and a half. I was pleasantly surprised when Cruise Director Pedro remembered me from our April Round the Horn cruise and greeted me on the other side of the swiping station with a big smile and a "welcome back to Sun!" We quickly headed directly to the Seven Seas Dining Room and had our "we're on vacation" margarita and a very nice, relaxing, lunch before the dining room closed at 2:30. After lunch, we found our rooms and dropped our luggage and headed to the Muster Drill. If memory serves me correctly it was slightly delayed from the planned 3:30 pm. Muster was the usual cluster but it is much nicer now that you don't have to carry or wear your life jackets. We had a good laugh from one of the two slightly tipsy young ladies (with heavy southern accents and margarita glasses in hand) who while discussing what they needed to know should the abandon ship alarm sound, looked up at the lifeboat hanging overhead with its number and port of registration painted on the side, pointed at it and said "NASSAU's all you need to know" After muster, we headed to the Great Outdoors for a shady sailaway....little did we know then that It was going to be a sunset sailaway! Apparently in addition to whatever issues had made the debarkation tardy for the TA passengers, and the issues with the check in agents that made us late boarding, there were also issues with bunkering - loading fuel - so as we sat drinking in the Great Outdoors, we watched Dream, and then Magic leave and then finally shortly after 7 pm, we finally heard the horn and we were off....only 4 hours tardy! After three extra hours of margaritas, we headed to Pacific Heights for a delicious dinner and then after DDP's and my traditional stroll on the deck off to bed we went. Ship & Cabin Sun is scheduled for drydock in January. Hopefully in addition to whatever engine and hull maintenance they do, they will take the opportunity to redo some of the interiors. The ship is clean and well maintained but the interiors are dated and some of the softgoods - sofas in the rooms in particular are worn. Sun has what some say is an unusual layout in that to get to Seven Seas - one of the main dining room on Deck 5 at the stern - you have to first get to the stern via Deck 6 and then go down to Deck 5. . The up and over maneuver has never bothered us and we think having the theater on the stern with the dining room makes it convenient for most. The best part of Sun as far as I am concerned is The Great Outdoors. This large shady space on the stern is great for breakfast, lunch, pre-dinner cocktails, moonlight desserts or just lounging and reading a book. We booked Stateroom 8305 a "deluxe" inside forward on Deck 8 across the hall from our cruise virgins who had an outside with a picture window. The NCL deck plan made our room (and some similar ones nearby) look larger than the typical inside and some difference in the description made us worry that the beds couldn't be combined into one bed. I did lots of asking and looking around Cruise Critic but we weren't sure what we would find until we opened the door and saw one big bed - we both think it was actually bigger than the one we had in our BD in April but maybe that was an optical illusion. We were very pleased with the room layout. Because of its layout, there was lots of open floor space, very generous storage, a full size sofa and none of the tight spaces with corridor, bathroom and closet doors all fighting each other for the same square footage. The room was definitely worth the extra $30 per person it cost us. Entertainment Neither of us typically enjoy the theater shows aboard ship - this cruise was fairly typical in that regard. We went twice and later said we wished we hadn't. The first was for the comedian, Rod Long. He had a couple of funny lines but no more than three! The second was for "Encore". NCL's troupe's salute to several Broadway shows - Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia, Wicked and a few others. It was fine but if we were onboard again, I wouldn't bother going. We didn't go but I heard several other guests discussing BONK, a comedic, physical comedy game show in less than flattering terms. The opposite was true for Jeri Sager, a former Broadway singer. A number of folks said she was a great. I am sorry we missed her. We did become regulars at Progressive Trivia - regular losers! Even with our one perfect day when we got all 20 questions about the 1980s correct we still ended up 5th at the end of the week. At least it was a fun way to start our Pre-Dinner drinking each evening Ports/Sea Days DDP and I have determined that we enjoy being on our own while in port so we did not take any of the ships excursions. Additionally, given our ports, we had decided to take it easy and treat this as a vacation rather than feeling the need to have educational tours. Unless you consider learning about tequila educational! The cruise opened with a sea day and we enjoyed relaxing all day long... from breakfast at The Great Outdoors to pool time to Progressive Trivia to pre-dinner cocktails to our first dinner at the Seven Seas. We had enjoyed the Margarita and Muddling and Beer and Martini tastings on previous trips but unfortunately they only offered the Beer and Martini ones on this cruise....and at a time that didn't work for us. The one Beer tasting we tried to go to, didn't have enough participants so we did our own...more expensive but .... Day 2 found us in Cozumel. I had arranged for Gerry the taxi man to spend four hours showing six of us the east "wild" side of Cozumel. He met us as scheduled and we started with a quick city tour and then headed towards the east side. On the way we visited the Mayan ruins and the Tequila "Museum". The ruins to me were more reminiscent of the Greek ruins we saw at Olympia - foundations, pieces of columns, etc as opposed to the only other Mayan ruins I have seen which were Lamani in Belize. Those were more complete but eroded structures - stepped pyramids, statues, etc. The tequila was (IMHO) a very large glorified retail store - but we enjoyed it. For our $10 per person, we got an ok margarita, learned how tequila was made, tastes of a bunch of different (almond, orange, cherry, coffee) tequilas -including mescal - UGH and some really delicious aged ones. After we had our fill of tequila, we returned to the highway and soon found ourselves at a great little beachside restaurant, Mezcalitos where we enjoyed margaritas, shrimp, fish tacos - all were delicious. At the end of the meal, we were offered as many shots of different tequilas as we wanted all just for leaving a tip with the bartender. The restaurant had a small beach but our time was short so we after having our fill of shrimp and tequila we hit the road continuing around the island getting back to the pier just in time to buy a couple of bottles of duty-free tequila and get back on board. Our next port was Santo Tomas in Guatemala. We had considered several options here - I really wanted to go to the ruins at Quirigua and contacted several tour companies ahead of time. However, because Sun doesn't arrive until late morning, all of the tour companies expressed concern about being able to get there and back in time. While we like arranging our own port excursions, we have never and don't want to ever miss the ship...so we decided we would wait and book something at the pier since so many on Cruise Critic said this could be done and sometimes for a savings. We ended up doing the Dulce River cruise with Happy Fish as their line was the shortest and their hawker was the friendliest. I had corresponded with them via email and had reviews of their tours on Cruise Critic previously so I knew that they were an ok service, Do be prepared for chaos inside the terminal building- tons of folks trying to get you to book with them, music, dancing...all in all a fun place but a bit overwhelming. We waited with our other Happy Fish and after maybe a 30 minute wait we and sixteen others boarded our covered boat and headed off for the river. We enjoyed our day on the river seeing the beautiful country. I will say though that even though I had been warned by some friends who had visited Santo Tomas before, I was surprised by when we were suddenly surrounded by eight or ten kids in dugout canoes hawking trinkets while repeating over and over " un dollar, un dollar un dollar...."at one point, DDP said it was a little too Lord of the Flies for him. After a comfort break, we turned around and went back down river stopping at a small deck built over the river where a hot spring enters it. The more adventuresome in our boat climbed up the hill and visited a cave - I understand it was hot and steamy and presumably smelled of sulpha since the spring did down where we were. We had a beer here - they also had sodas - warm and some snacks and souvenirs to sell. After dipping our feet in the spring (they had dammed it up so you could see how warm it was, we reloaded the boat and continued downstream to Livingston. During our hour long stop here you could either take a quick tour of the city or sit and have a drink and lunch. We had lunch. DDP and I shared an appetizer of delicious grilled shrimp and a big bowl of Tapado - a coconut broth based soup with fish, crab, shrimp, and plantains. Both were enjoyable but we really didn't need but one or the other. We left Livingston and had a nice fast ride back to Santo Tomas. We got back to the pier in plenty of time to do our Christmas shopping in the now much more subdued terminal. There were lots of vendors with beautiful embroidered goods, woven items, carved pieces and of course coffee ready to bring home...so much better than Starbucks. After doing more than our fair share for the Guatemalan economy, we re-boarded Sun and looked forward to what I had been told by previous visitors to Santo Tomas was an incredible farewell from the locals. We were scheduled to depart at 5 and at about 4:30 the local dancers started a show on the pier and all the tour guides cars, taxis and buses lined up behind them. Unfortunately, one of the NCL excursions was tardy for this party and those poor dancers and their drummers ended up performing for a couple of hours. Finally, with blue lights flashing from their police escort, the final bus arrived and we said goodbye to Guatemala. Unfortunately, a number of the locals cars and buses had left by that point so while we got a farewell, I don't think we got the full horn blaring-lights flashing good-bye that Santo Tomas is known for....hopefully next time. Belize was our next port. DDP and I had been there on our first Sun cruise in 2005 and really enjoyed our trip to the Lamani Ruins, but decided to stay aboard and give ourselves an extra sea day by enjoying the ship while almost everyone else tendered ashore We had an enjoyable day sleeping late, a long lazy breakfast and lots (too much given how red we were the next day) of pool time on the almost empty pool deck. Our virgin friends did NCL's excursion to Altun Ha and enjoyed the ruins but said they were not impressed with the tour guide and found the tour somewhat disorganized. The next day was another relaxing day at sea ( I think I am ready for a transatlantic). Due to too much sun the day before we played cards in the shade by the pool and we looked forward to the White Pink (for breast cancer awareness even though none of the promotional material or announcements mentioned it) Hot Party. Because of the large gay group onboard (be patient, I will add my 2cents to that whole discussion at the end of the review) the party was more fun than any other I have attended. After way too many G&Ts and dancing, I stumbled back to bed around 1am which because the clocks were reset that night was really 2 which was much TOO TARDY given what we would encounter the next morning. With our turndown service on Thursday evening, we received a notice informing us that everyone would have to go through immigration after our arrival in Key West. All US citizens needed to visit the officers in the theater while non -US citizens would do the same in the Observation Lounge. I thought to myself, well that won't be too bad, better than doing it off the ship out on the pier in the sun. If I had only known. Each deck had an assigned time to report staring at SIX AM! Thank goodness we were on Deck 8 so didn't have to be there until 6:35. We set the alarm for 6:20, brushed our teeth, slid into yesterday's clothes and headed towards the stern. I thought lets walk on the promenade and see our former home from a new viewpoint. About halfway to the stern, we looked through the windows in Razzles and realized that the line from the theatre extended way back....so we headed inside and discovered the line went all the way to the atrium where it spiraled around.....TWICE. Imagine trying to find the end of a circular line which was constantly growing...and not moving. While standing at what we thought was the end of the line, we saw several disgruntled, rude folks arguing about where the end really was. Some friends who were a few folks ahead of us in line said they had watched the immigration folks boarding around 6:30 so apparently the mess may have started with someone being ...that's right, say it all together..Tardy. BUT, that doesn't explain the complete lack of direction given by NCL. There was no crew helping to keep order. At one point, Pedro the Cruise Director even came on the PA and welcomed everyone to Key West and told us where the gangway was located and other than thanking us for our patience, never mentioned anything unusual was going on. After waiting for 15 minutes or so and getting tired of hearing folks arguing - I am sure my White Hot Pink Party hangover had something to do with my attitude, we headed back to bed. Just before 8, we got up, had a quick breakfast in The Great Outdoors and then headed down to the theater where we had about a 5 minute wait for the officials to glance at our faces and passports and give us a stamp. All in all, NOT the way you want to spend the last real morning of your cruise. If they don't change the procedure and you have been to Key West before, I would advise you to sleep in, and head to your immigration station after the initial rush. After getting our immigration stamp and having NCL punch our key card, we walked off at Pier B in Key West. We were afraid that they weren't allowed to let anyone off the ship until everyone had cleared immigration but that wasn't the case. DDP and I used to live in Key West and still own a house there (if you are interested in a great vacation home in Paradise, get in touch!) and our big plan for the day was to stop by, meet our new tenants, and check on the newly installed roof. We had made arrangements to meet our friends at LaTeDa for a bloody mary at 10 and then we did a quick stroll to the Southernmost Point (its not really but they wanted their picture there anyway) and then wandered up Duval back towards the ship. Given our "all aboard" time of 12:30, there really wasn't time to do very much at all. We got back to the pier about 12 thinking we might beat the crowd-wishful thinking ...it took almost 45 minutes to get back on board. So again, if you don't have to get off the ship in Key West, I wouldn't. It wasn't' worth all the waiting in lines. I said before we left that I wished we were visiting the private island or staying at sea, and I stand by that wish. Sailway from Key West was beautiful and then we had our last lunch in Seven Seas, very relaxing, cool, and comfortable. The afternoon was spent relaxing and wishing the cruise wasn't over. Debarkation DDP and I had a 4 pm flight out of Orlando so we were in no rush to leave the ship. We had pulled 'gray" luggage tags which was scheduled for 9:30 or 9:45 departure. We went up to The Great Outdoors around 8 for breakfast only to discover that no one had yet left the ship. After breakfast, we went back and gathered our hand bags and returned to the stern to wait for our color to be called. Finally around 9:45, Pedro announced that express walkoffs could leave the ship. It was after to 11 before our gray was called. Other than this tardiness, the process was relatively simple and we were in the parking lot to meet the Avis shuttle by 11:40 or so. We hit the road for Orlando by noon and after a nice Vietmanese lunch got to the airport in plenty of time for our flight...which was of course...say it with me...Tardy!!! Food Overall, I remain pleased with NCL's food offerings. This trip we ate in the MDR for lunch twice, dinner 4 times, and in specialty restaurants the other three. There had been much discussion on the NCL board prior to leaving about changes to the MDR menu - more "always available" fewer changing items. This wasn't the case on this trip. The menu was the same as it had been during the first week of our April cruise. Service for us was better in Four Seasons than in Seven Seas but that could have just been the luck of the draw. We only had to wait for a table once - and that was for eight. We were the second big table waiting so we went to the other MDR and walked right in. Highlights of the MDR menu were; watermelon salad - so delicious, beef wellington, and the lobster/grouper entrEe. We had dinner in Pacific Heights one evening and again enjoyed the Chimichurri Steak, which we think is better than any of the steaks in Cagneys/East Meets West. However, the Thai Coconut soup recipe was different that previously and while tasty was too spicy for my taste - it was almost like they forgot to add the coconut milk. We enjoyed our dinner in Il Adiago, the OssoBucco is still one of the best dishes NCL makes, but I personally was very disappointed that they have removed the chocolate torte with dried apricots from the menu. It had been my favorite dessert on NCL since I had it on Jade for my birthday cake. Oh well, my waistline will be the better for it being gone. The rest of my group ate in East Meets West/Ginza for sushi one night. While I enjoy sushi, I don't think it is a meal, so I asked and the maitre d' was fine with me preparing a plate at the buffet and eating with my friends. The buffet offerings that night weren't my favorite but I didn't go hungry. With the exceptions of the two lunches in the MDR, our other meals were eaten in The Great Outdoors. We usually had omlets or other dishes from the stern grill - I love their corn beef hash with over easy eggs and the Muslix is also one of my favorites. Lunch was typically a big salad from the GREAT buffet salad bar and either a calzone from Pacific Heights or a burger from the grill. To my mind, there is not a nicer way to have a meal than sitting on the stern of a cruise ship. DDP and I have just about decided we won't take a cruise that doesn't have an outdoor eating area away from the pool. The other food highlight of the cruise were pre-dinner drinks and appetizers either from Las Ramblas, or wings from The Sports Bar. "THE" Group After booking our cruise, we discovered that there was a large (reportedly 500 strong) group of predominately gay folks on board. Through the gay board on Cruise Critic, I made contact with some of them and in fact considered for awhile becoming an official (rather than just presumed!) part of the group. However, finances and my frugality kept us from doing so. Because of the size of the group, it was hard to miss them and IMHO added much to the fun aspects of the cruise - I have never seen a "Sexy Legs" contest like that one! As gay men, my mini-group enjoyed having some "sistas" on board too. The group had a private party each night in the Observation Lounge from 8-10pm and since the cruise I have heard some rumblings on the boards about that, but the bigger issue that generated lots of post cruise (and apparently some on board from a conversation I overheard at the Reception Desk) were inappropriate activities taking place in public areas. I personally only saw one such activity which was one presumably intoxicated fellow tugging on his friend's suit - which dipped and revealed a little too much of his backside. However, I don' t think it was intentional and if it had of been a straight couple would have been just as accidental and just as inappropriate. There area reports of more inappropriate activites taking place and they may very well have. If so, then just like if they had of taken place by straight folks, it should have been handled by NCL Security and those who were offended should have (as EarlWarren stated on our roll call board) averted their eyes. I believe that the bigger issue for the complainers was not the actions of these few, but more the fact that there was a group of folks onboard different than themselves. I had a great conversation in the hottub one afternoon with a Canadian lady who said it had made her realize how it must feel to be the minority - she said when she got to the check in desk In Canaveral and looked around and saw so many men, she knew something was different. She said, she had enjoyed the cruise and it had given her a new outlook. Another lady I spoke with, said she had never seen so many happy and in love folks. Anyway, as I have posted on the boards, it's the 21st century and if you can't deal with two guys holding hands on their way to dinner, then perhaps you need to rethink your vacation choices. Summary With the exception of the Port Canaveral and Key West issues, it was a great cruise. Hopefully Sun will soon get the tardiness issues resolved. DDP and I enjoy NCL -the price is usually right, we enjoy Freestyle Dining and the informality and have met a lot of great folks aboard and will be cruising them again - apparently so will the cruise virgins - they bought a cruise reward! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
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