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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
There was a lack of information provided prior to embarkation. Shortly after making the reservation, it was changed from a 15 day cruise to a 14 day and the embarkation port was moved from Los Angeles to San Diego because the Acapulco stop ... Read More
There was a lack of information provided prior to embarkation. Shortly after making the reservation, it was changed from a 15 day cruise to a 14 day and the embarkation port was moved from Los Angeles to San Diego because the Acapulco stop was cancelled. We understand that was for safety reasons, but there was no explanation for why we had to lose a day of vacation or had to alter plans to accommodate moving from LA to SD to leave. At embarkation, we were handed a flier that stated we would not be stopping in Cabo San Lucas because of weather. We had all been watching the weather down there for a week and knew what it looked like. This decision could have been made much earlier and notifications could have been sent well before the last minute. We have now lost 1 full day of travel and 2 port stops before even leaving and since this was booked. No other compensation was offered for losing the Cabo stop and there was no mention of attempting to add a different destination to make up for it. We then did not actually set out from SD until several hours after we were supposed to leave and there was no explanation given. As we were told many times from different crew members, the ship had been loaded with new employees for this trip as training experience. It was obvious in multiple ways. Many of the staff members at bars would actually roll their eyes at you for asking for a glass of water as though it was a waste of their time. The wait staff in the main dining rooms was horrible. Our standard time in the Indigo room was running nearly 2 hours for a meal because staff was so slow. We had one night with a 7:15 reservation and we did not get out of there until 9:45. Multiple times we did not even order dessert because it was taking so long to get our food. We also left one night after ordering coffee with dessert and getting everything for the coffee (cups, sugar, and cream) and getting our dessert without ever actually getting any coffee in the cups. On the other side, there were some excellent standout employees. Specifically, our room steward was excellent. Also, there was the waiter at O’Sheehan’s Pub, Ankit (sp), who was always friendly and helpful. Also, the bartender Mo (Mohammed D.) who worked most often in the Casino bar was a major highlight who always greeted us by name, remembered our drinks, and was an overall great guy. All of the staff we interacted with in the specialty dining restaurants were very professional and helpful. We found the buffet to be very boring and lacking in options during the dinner hours and the food quality was average. The main dining room dinner menus were horrible. The options each night were very poor and repetitive. There was always a dish of overcooked beef slices prepared a litle different, there was always a basic white fish that was grilled or broiled, and always a vegetarian dish. The only thing that stood out was the one night for the standard white fish entrée was Tilapia. That is not a compliment. Tilapia should never show up on the menu of any decent restaurant. It is a completely worthless fish with absolutely no flavor or nutritional value. It is primarily used as a base because the only flavor is from the other ingredients it is prepared with. On other cruises I have always looked forward to eating in the main dining room for the quality and variety of the dishes offered. This trip left me disappointed every night. All of our group felt as though the poor menu options and horrible service was a backhanded way to push us into going to the specialty restaurants and paying for a meal. When we boarded the ship our group met for a celebration drink. The bartender informed us that they were required to charge tax while in port. Totally understandable and not an issue at all. What was an issue, or more of an annoyance, was that the ship was scheduled to leave at 4 PM and we didn’t actually leave port until several hours later. We were charged tax on drinks the entire time. While that couple of dollars makes no real difference to us, no announcements were made to explain why we were still in port for hours after we should have left and NCL should have paid those taxes just for the inconvenience. It was another example of poor hospitality. The tender service in Nicaragua was a disaster. Yes, the water was rough and choppy, but that did not explain why only one tender was being used while 5 others were sitting in the water off to the side. We were supposed to be able to leave starting at 10 AM. No announcement was even made until after 11:30 AM to explain that only 1 tender could be used because of the rough seas. That explanation made no sense because the other tenders were clearly visible sitting off to the side of the ship and the water was just as rough when they did finally commence service just before 1:00PM. Also, when they did start service, they only assigned a few people to assist with the transfer of people from the ship to tender. It was dangerous without more employees to help guide people over the step. So we were unable to get off the ship until 3 hours after we made port, but the cruise director made an announcement that they had permission to extend our port stay 1.5 hours. That does not make up for anything and he shouldn’t have made it sound like we owed them a debt of gratitude for getting part of the time back. The biggest complaint we have is in regard to the large amount of money we paid for a balcony stateroom that had a barely usable balcony. The reason for this is because they pressure washed the balcony while we were in port. They blew paint chips all of the deck and furniture on our balcony. They did not clean up the paint chips at all and they were stuck to the chairs. The chairs could only be used if we draped a towel over them to sit on. Also, the pipes above our balcony continued to flake paint chips for the rest of the cruise so even sitting on the balcony was difficult because chips would land on you and any drink/food you had out there. We paid over $2500 extra dollars for that upgrade and it was a waste of money. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise due to the trip through the Panama Canal. Most of the food was mediocre with some good food at the specialty restaurants. All service staff were very congenial and helpful. Many smiles and always ready to help. ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the trip through the Panama Canal. Most of the food was mediocre with some good food at the specialty restaurants. All service staff were very congenial and helpful. Many smiles and always ready to help. Nightly entertainment was excellent. The bed gave backaches to my wife and I. Even though we saw many new mattresses loaded onto the ship and saw them in storage while waiting in line for an hour to get off the ship, we were only provided a foam egg crate mattress topper, which helped, but did not fully satisfy. When I again requested a new mattress, our request was ignored. I reported some maintenance issues, such as several loose safety handrails in the hallways, paint fume odors 3 times in our stateroom, welding fumes on our stateroom, extremely loose steps in the hydro therapy pool, and jets not working in the spa hot tub. It makes me wonder what maintenance issues are lacking in areas not frequented by passengers. We had to miss the first port, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico due to a hurricane; but the ship provided entertainment and activities to pass the time. On the day we arrived in Guatemala, our first stop, no coffee cups or bowls were available for breakfast and plates were hard to find. We were docked, so we were able to get off the ship in good time. Our tour of Antigua, Guatemala was interesting and informative. the tour guide was very good. The next day, we arrived in Nicaragua, where the ship had to anchor and use tenders to get us ashore. We were supposed to leave the ship at 10:15 for our tour but, allegedly due to rough water, the tender service was not in full operation, so we did not leave the ship until after 11:30. It appeared that the crew had not used tenders before or they should have been able to get people off the ship in a timely manner. When working at water's edge, personnel should be required to wear life jackets, in case they fall in. This was standard practice on other cruise lines (and a US requirement) but only about half of the crew were wearing life vests or safety belts while working at the ship/tender departure points. Due to a late departure for our tour, we traveled 3-1/2 hours for a 45 minute tour and a 15 minute grocery store break to obtain snacks for lunch. We returned at 4:35 and the last tender was supposed to return to the ship at 4:30. However, after we returned, we saw a sign showing that the last departure was changed to 6:00; so we could have had a more leisurely tour if that had that decision been made before we departed. At least we were not on the one tender that was stranded in the ocean for 15 to 20 minutes due to engine failure. Another example about inadequate maintenance and poor management. We saw the tender sitting still in the water when we went ashore but at the time, did not know the problem. At my request, my wife and I received a 20% discount on the tour, after losing at least 1/2 of the scheduled time in town on the tour. We enjoyed Peter James singing and playing the piano, which helped smooth things over.Our tour in Costa Rica was a well run tour of a Botanical Garden. The tour guide was excellent and he gave us a good run down about life in Costa Rica. He knew the plants in the garden and aptly answered all questions and gave good discussions. Comedian Tim Kaminski put on a very good show. I had never heard of him, even though he is in the Comedy Hall of Fame. In Cartegena, Columbia, we took a guided tour in rough native canoes operated by boatmen using poles to push the boats. The bus tour guide had such a heavy accent that he was difficult to understand and it was hard to follow his narration. The boatmen did not speak English, which made it difficult for us to get much out of the mangrove boat tour, except on rare occasions when the tour guide was audible. When we arrived at the Grand Cayman Island, we tendered into town in boats provided by the Cayman Islands. The tenders were well organized and got us off the ship in a timely manner, even though we used the same number of ship departure points as we did during the mass confusion of tendering in Nicaragua. We had a nice self guided walk around George Town, Grand Cayman and a leisurely lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. We had a very good meal at the Grand Palace Restaurant aboard ship. The next night, we had an excellent dinner in the Moderno Restaurant on board ship. When we arrived in Tampa, I was happy to easily find our luggage and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly everyone went through Customs. Then came the Tampa Hell tour. We were supposed to have a tour of the city and arrive at the airport in a timely manner. Two people on our bus were concerned about making it to their flight in time, as guaranteed when they made their tour reservation. To make matters worse, after departing the airport, the bus driver pulled over and parked at the curb, with no explanation given. We ended up losing a total of 1-1/2 hours getting away from the cruise terminal. Then the bus finally continued on the way. No narration was provided - a very strange way to take a tour. We finally figured out that we did not have a tour guide and the bus driver did not say a word. After a 10 to 15 minute ride, the bus driver made a u-turn. A few minutes later, he made another U-turn. Since there was no tour guide, or other narration, we presumed that he was lost. We eventually arrived at the University of Tampa, where the bus driver ran over a curb and ran into a signpost. Someone came on board the bus to explain that we were to take a tour of part of the University campus. I asked if we were going to have a tour guide for the rest of our tour. She was just as surprised as us, to find out that we did not have a tour guide. We had a tour of a building that was originally a hotel, although we could not hear much of the tour guide's narration due to the large crowd of attendees. When we got back on the bus, the confusion continued with the bus driver again running over a curb on the way out of the campus. However, we at last had a tour guide on board. Apparently, the bus P.A. system did not work because the tour guide used a small speaker attached to his left hip. When turned toward us, we could hear him. When he turned away we could not. As we followed some other tour buses in our group, one the buses ahead of us was making a u-turn when the bus driver ran up onto the curb and got the bus stuck in the grass and on the curb. We went further down, made a successful u-turn and went past the stranded bus, listing toward its right side, with passengers standing outside and the driver on the other side of the road speaking on a cell phone. The guide said we were about 15 to 20 minutes from the airport. At that time, I said to the guide that we should just head to the airport, while we were still alive! We then proceeded back, passing the cruise terminal and continued on the city semi-tour. Our window was defectively foggy, so that it was difficult for us to clearly see out. We finally made it to the airport where the luggage was eventually off loaded for a rental truck; another mass confusion arrangement that took several minutes to locate all our luggage. Once inside the terminal, our trip continued as planned. trip Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
This was a once in a life time deal to sail to the Panama Canal and see what it was all about. We have sailed on RCL and Princess in the past. Lots of factors involved in deciding on this cruise but location, timing and price where major ... Read More
This was a once in a life time deal to sail to the Panama Canal and see what it was all about. We have sailed on RCL and Princess in the past. Lots of factors involved in deciding on this cruise but location, timing and price where major factors. Not sure if "price point" is where NCL fits in but I somehow thought in my mind that we were signing up for a top notch cruise and we were both very excited. The start of the cruise might have been some clue as to what we were to encounter. The boarding process had been moved to San Diego for some reason ??? Los Angeles has a beautiful terminal that can handle large crowds and do it smoothly. Right from the beginning it appeared that it was rookie status. Simply unloading baggage was confusing and unorganized. "Is this the first time they have done this" seemed to be a common question in regard to handling logistics with this ship and cruise line. The terminal in San Diego is in a nice area with lots to see and do but the process to get on the ship was terrible and I would not recommend it to anyone. Not sure they could screw it up any better???? Next up was the birthday surprise for my wife from my adult children. My son tried to use NCL's website to send a BD gift to my wife and our friend on the ship. The website crashed while he was in the process and had to start over, which ended up causing him to be double billed. There was never an acknowledgement of the gift by NCL to my wife or our friend, just a credit on our bill??? "Is this the first time they have done this"??? Missing Cabo San Lucas was not NCL's fault and I did'nt mind the extra sea days but stopping in Pueto Quetzal was not what we thought it would be. It was nice to get off the ship for a few hours (again the unloading process seemed like a new concept to the staff). Would not go back to Guatemala. The tendering process was worse in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. The captain said it was because the swells were going one direction and the wind was going another,"Is this the first time they have done this"??? The meeting in the Stardust Theater was not organized and just seemed like rookie status. Part of our group finally made it to a tender only to have a motor fail. They floated around in the bay for 1/2 hour while other tenders went by trying while tender 10 captain was trying to restart the motor???? "Is this the first time they have done this"?? We just spent at least 4 days at sea did anyone think to check all of that stuff out to make sure it was ready to go???? Both Guatemala and Nicaragua are disgusting places to visit and really not sure why we stopped there. We did sign up for the Zip Line in Costa Rica and again the boarding process was a mess but the Zip Line Operation was dialed in. Very well run and organized and able to handle the 4-5 buses full of us needing a break from the ship. The Panama Canal was interesting but it might have been more interesting to visit Panama City or Colon while going through the Canal instead of the first two. The locks are amazing and the process was very cool. The history behind this area is incredible and worth investigating. I thought Cartagena Columbia would be a breath of fresh air after the disappointment of the first two stops but..... We signed up for the catamaran transfer to the old city. The city is amazing looking from the water going in. On the way in the catamaran captain warned us about the street vendors. He said just say, "No Garcias" and they will leave you alone. Almost before the boat docked, the vendors were shoving stuff inside the boat trying to get us "rich Americanos" to buy their crap. This continued for a block and half where the entrance into the old city is found, then inside the beautiful old city. As we walked along the streets it continued. The only way to get away from them was to duck into a shop and take a breather. Someone suggested that the street vendors are not locals but from Venezuela as their economy crashes??? Not sure, but what could have been an awesome experience walking around the old city and enjoying the nice people, turned into a battle to avoid a fight with the street vendors because we would not buy from them!!! The shop keepers inside the old city were very nice and very accommodating to us, get rid of the street vendors and I might go back. Next stop was George Town in Grand Cayman. The one bright spot in the cruise. We loved this little island and will find a way to get back there someday. The Rum tour was awesome, our guide was awesome and the people there were great. The sea days weren't bad on the Pearl but they just seemed to lack that extra little something we had experienced on other ships. The Halloween costume party was totally lame and the group that had gone above and beyond to dress up got tossed in the first round, again my thoughts were "Is this the first time they have done this"??? We really wanted to watch the World Series which involved the Dodgers but were told that the ship would have to pay a royalty to get the games and Miami (the head office) wasn't going to do that. So we got days and days of World Cup Soccer instead (not a fan). The best the ship could do was to post the score (only once) on the ships channel. Really, "Is this the first time they have done this"??? The unloading (disembarkation) process in Tampa was an absolute joke. We were given instructions and followed them to a T, but the ship began giving out different directions which conflicted with the pervious instructions. We were supposed to disembark by 0845 but did not leave until 1030. If you are not a fan of waiting for ever in long lines do not unload in Tampa (I am sure it was a combination of the boat staff and the terminal staff, long lines in each area). They tried to say it was everyone else's fault (customs, dock handlers, etc) but I watched as handlers and shore personnel were standing around, "Is this the first time they have done this"?? On previous cruises, it seemed, that as soon as the dock lines were secured the ramps went down, stuff started flying off the ship??? In the past we were actually disappointed to get off the ship and did not want it to end, in this case we were happy to be off and on our way to our next activity. Not sure how this happened but, the one thing NCL did get right was the service staff. From the bartenders to the cabin steward, these hard working people have a clue and were the one thing that would put a smile on our faces. The food was good and the specialty restaurants were nice but, it was hard for them to make up for the deficiencies of the rest of the ship. We were looking for an adventure and I guess that is kinda of what we got. Next time, I think we are booking with Princess. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We are returning customers. Our previous experiences help us deciding to take this trip also. Are we disappointed this time or what. Room is clean. Shows are ok. The restaurants are not what they promoted. There's no free style. ... Read More
We are returning customers. Our previous experiences help us deciding to take this trip also. Are we disappointed this time or what. Room is clean. Shows are ok. The restaurants are not what they promoted. There's no free style. No shorts. No caps, no sleeveless shirts for man but ok for women. Food is unacceptable. Some of the crew members are great. Some look down to you if you order coffee or water. We traveled with Celebrity, MSC, Holland, Princess, Carnival and Norwegian. An advise for the entertainers, stay away from political jocks. Not nowadays. The people are already divided politically as never before. We're on the cruise to get away from this issues. Please, don't build up tension anymore than it already is. Buffett has a large selection of culinary cuisines but the quality is absent. Sugar free sweets are not offered. We hope that the rest of this trip will be fine. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
I always wanted to go through the Panama Canal, its history fascinates me. I also wanted an extended cruise for a bit of "R&R". The price point was good but the on-board costs were disappointing. I feel NCL was in my ... Read More
I always wanted to go through the Panama Canal, its history fascinates me. I also wanted an extended cruise for a bit of "R&R". The price point was good but the on-board costs were disappointing. I feel NCL was in my pocket for every little thing.... a 1 liter bottle of Dasani was $6.60!!! Yes, $6.60 - outrageous. Kids video arcade games are $1.30 per game. Food was okay in the complimentary restaurants and buffets but don't bother with the complimentary steak dinner - the meat quality is less than average which I think is done to encourage cruisers to use their "specialty" (for a charge) Cagney's Steakhouse. The entertainment was merely average. However, the staff couldn't have been nicer - pleasant, friendly, courteous... excellent all around. My major complaint is the embarkation/disembarkation process. Really this needs major attention. The boat left San Diego 2 hours late. I delivered my luggage at 11:15 BUT it was not delivered to my cabin until 8:15. NCL tenders were terrible and have too little capacity to handle excursions. First day, excursions were delayed two hours because of various NCL issues. Cruisers were truly annoyed. It got worse when disembarking at final port. The instructions from staff were contradictory; the bridge communications from Vincent, the cruise director, were just terrible. Very poor communication resulted in delays, misdirection and anger. I am unsure if I will cruise NCL again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
ABOUT MY CRUISE: SHIP/NCL - PRE-BOOKING ITEMS - DON'T DO IT. As items you book are charged diectly to your card at time of booking the item(both excursions and fixed priced dining). I had thought it would all go thru my onboard ... Read More
ABOUT MY CRUISE: SHIP/NCL - PRE-BOOKING ITEMS - DON'T DO IT. As items you book are charged diectly to your card at time of booking the item(both excursions and fixed priced dining). I had thought it would all go thru my onboard account... WRONG. So it quicly got confusing when onboard I canceled my reservation for Moderno. They had no problem canceling. But only becaused I asked, did they refund (to my shipboard account) what I had pre-paid prior to trip on my charge card. Once again - I would recommend NOT PRE-BOOKING anything where you are prompted to input your charge card as this means you will have some charges on visible on your charge card statements while others show in you onboard account. As I had used multiple charge cards it got very confusing very quickley as to what I had already paid for and what I needed to do to get a refund. i had thought that many excursions and things were fully booked so I booked pre trip. But in reality, the day of the departure they open up all excursion/dining. So as long as you book day one you should be able to get what you want. SHIP FOOD ATTRIBUTES- Disappointing in lack of tast, quality, and variety. The main dinning set menu variety was limited and quite bland. Meats dry and medium temp. SHIP FOOD OPERATIONS: Very, very, limited hours/seating for sit down breakfast Very, Very, Very limited hours and available seating for sit-down lunch. To that extent I now call them flash breakfast and flash lunch. Lasting about only 1 to 1.5 hours meaning here and gone before you know it. . The main(free) sit down dining rooms: Note: both have the same menu as each other. The Indigo dining room is small seating around 150-200. Lacks spacionous and windows. More like a indoor mod cafe with no views. The summer palace is more like one would expect. Located out of the way in the back of the ship it was always available for walk up. It is well decorated, airy, and has big windows and floor to ceilng wall on windows on the back. BUFFETS: The Garden Buffet was below average in quality and taste and most importantly tempature. Most items looking well aged and dry. Greatly disappointing for grab and go items such as burgers or sandwhichs. Only hamburgers, dogs, and very limited selection of cold meats(typically a mince meat item-salami and swiss cheese) . Did not see cooked chicke breast or sliced turkey, ham. roast beef, american, or cheed sliced cheease.). I think that to control cost the cooks move at snails pace in reactivley restocking items rather than pro actively. For example, middle of luch rush out of sliced cheese... cook placing cheese one slice at a time on the buffet rather than having full plates of sliced cheese ready to go. Food management did not seem to attend to making sure items were stocked and fresh at all stations during meal times. Main meat carving station- very dispointing quality and selection of entree. Only had prime rib once. Had dry turky, dry pork... and even had meat loaf as a entree. i laughed.. meat loaf and an entree at a carving station!! COOKIES - VERY VERY LIMITED. Only avaible at great outdoors cafe during snack hours 3:30-5. SHIP ENTERTAINMENT: Below average in variety and quality, Some headline acts/performers where repeated over 3-5 days where as typically it is one day(2-3 shows) SHIP DRINK SERVICE: Not really attentive or soliciting drinks. Especially lacking indoors. One must hunt down a server to walk up to bar to really keep glass from being empty. TIPS: SUMMER PALACE FOR SIT DOWN MEALS - INCLUDING BREAKFAST AND LUCH. Seems most people did not know it was there. COOKIES: Bring a zip lock bag and grab a bunch for your for your room from great outdoors cafe snack hours. Be careful as they stop restocking around 4:30. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Chose the cruise because we could see friends and relatives in the San Diego area, sail thru Panama Canal as I have always wanted to do, and then be back home in Florida. Came in a week early to see San Diego, but there was to much too ... Read More
Chose the cruise because we could see friends and relatives in the San Diego area, sail thru Panama Canal as I have always wanted to do, and then be back home in Florida. Came in a week early to see San Diego, but there was to much too see. Pacific Ocean was choppy, and so was the Caribbean, most than usual in Caribbean. Hurricane in Pacific prevented us from stopping at Cabo San Lucas. Embarkation was okay, felt like you were in a warehouse, not a "real" cruiseport. Ship was delayed because of the Dockworkers changing shifts. Norwegian did not care for San Diego port. Our cabin was dim, we like brighter lights. Also you had to get out of bed to turn off the overhead lights, there was not a turnoff at the beds. No place to sit except on the beds, no chair or sofa, really no room. I did have a shower chair which was great. Also like the shower door instead of the curtain. The TV was nice, but the channels were often weak or scrambled. Also it was several days before we even know who had won the World Series. College football was not carried on any sport or regular channels. Room service breakfast was fine, and early on most mornings, chocolate croissant were great. But they usually forgot something once it was our cereal. The Entertainment was good especially liked Duo Quincennesce, the aerialists, Michelle Murlin, the broad way singer, and especially Brenda Kaye the Hypnotist. The staff was also great. Room stewards, the wait staff were all good. My favorite was an African man from Zimbabwe who worked in Tides. He had the nicest smile and we a little each day. I wish I would have got his name, he was so good to talk to, we made some kind of connection. The food was mediocre, not hot when it should be, but lukewarm or cold, this was in the buffet and main dining room, the Summer Palace. But again the wait staff and esp., Annisha who was in charge of special diets tried to get my husband vegetarian meals. His favorite in the Summer Palace was two scoops or mashed potatoes and two little ears of corn on the cob. Some breads and desserts were good, I especially liked the bread pudding at the buffet. The carrot cake in the Summer Palace was esp. good. Over all an average cruise with not enough things to do on sea days. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
This was our fourth time travelling with Norwegian and for the first time we came back a little disappointed. Service, food and cabin were fine but we were particularly disappointed with the entertainment on the ship. We felt the groups ... Read More
This was our fourth time travelling with Norwegian and for the first time we came back a little disappointed. Service, food and cabin were fine but we were particularly disappointed with the entertainment on the ship. We felt the groups and singers round the ship were nowhere near as strong as others we've been on and while the "specialist" entertainers were mixed to say the least. Some were excellent - The Quintessence Aerial duo and The Barricade Boys - some were ok, and some just poor. In particular the woman singer was dreadful and I wasn't impressed with the comedian Tim whose act was very dated and consisted of making members of the audience do stupid things. Also a lot of the acts did two or even three shows during the cruise.The game shows seemed tired and ill thought out. And there were some odd things about the ship itself. Who thought it would be a good idea to put four lanes of bowling in the middle of a lounge?!!? And why was the trivia usually held in the Atrium where there were never enough seats and you had to compete with people visiting guest services etc.? We enjoyed the ports and most of the places visited - San Diego and Cartagena in Colombia especially but compared with the cruise we took with Norwegian to Hawaii last year on the Jewel, the Pearl was a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
Amazing opportunity to cruise through the Panama Canal. Great job by everyone on board. The bartenders were oustanding as well as the waiters and maitredee. From the time we placed our feet on the deck until we left the crew made sure to ... Read More
Amazing opportunity to cruise through the Panama Canal. Great job by everyone on board. The bartenders were oustanding as well as the waiters and maitredee. From the time we placed our feet on the deck until we left the crew made sure to create a wnderful experience. The loss of one of our shore excursions was made up by the great service from the staff. The entertainment was first class from Peter at the piano to the many great shows in the theatre. We were kept well informed with a daily handout that kept us busy for the day. Once in the canal, we were provided with commentary that was very informative. My wife enjoyed the shopping experiences especially the opportunity to win great prizes. The transfer to shore was also handled in a safe yet curteous manner. Too bad both the entry and exit from the ship was horrible. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
My parents and I cruised this repositioning itinerary from San Diego to Tampa primarily because 1) we live in Tampa, and a one-way airfare was appealing, and 2) we had the opportunity to go through the Panama Canal. We also had three other ... Read More
My parents and I cruised this repositioning itinerary from San Diego to Tampa primarily because 1) we live in Tampa, and a one-way airfare was appealing, and 2) we had the opportunity to go through the Panama Canal. We also had three other couples join us, so we had a group of 9 in its entirety. This is my third NCL cruise, and all three trips have been on The Pearl. Embarkation was a nightmare at San Diego until our concierge found us in line and accelerated us through TSA and check-in. We were late leaving San Diego apparently because miscommunication between NCL and union work time and break requirements for dock workers. We didn't get our bags into our room until after we returned from dinner. Not a huge inconvenience, but we do like to get settled ASAP into our room shortly after boarding. Disembarkation at Tampa was extremely easy because we handled our own bags. I understand those waiting on bags to be released in the Tampa port had to wait awhile. We stayed in the Jade suite (2 bedroom/2 bath) as we have done previously. It works perfectly for us - great space, clean, comfortable beds, privacy. Next time, we'll move to deck 10 rather than 11 because of noise (like water flowing) coming from spa area above us. Staying in a suite provides benefit of a concierge and butler. We had the best concierge (Bruno) on the planet. He took complete care of us - including ensuring we had dinner reservations for the 9 of us in combination complimentary and specialty dining, priority embarkation and disembarkation at ports, and other niceties. Our butler (Renato) checked in on us daily, and delivered nice snacks each afternoon. Suites also provide breakfast and lunch access to a specialty restaurant for sit-down, exclusive menu and seating. Avoiding buffet lines and crowds is worth the price of a suite. We had four specialty dining meals. Cagney's is bar-none the best dining experience on board The Pearl. We also enjoyed Moderno and La Cucino. If we could eat every night in a specialty dining restaurant, we probably would. Instead, we had several evenings split between Summer Palace and Indigo. I assume the nightly menus are different between those two complimentary dining options. We enjoyed the food in both restaurants; however, we felt the service was better in Summer Palace. Indigo was often slower. On board evening entertainment was fine - comic acts and aerial artists were great, hypnotist OK, Barricade Boys were good. Daily activities like trivia, bingo, etc. were typical cruise fare. I participated in some of it. Skip the beginner bridge classes - too many people and confusing teaching approach. Fitness center is nice, often crowded, yoga and pilates are offered with a class fee. Spa is overpriced, and I heard from others that the quality was so-so. Due to a hurricane, our first stop at Cabo was dropped unfortunately, but safety obviously needed to take priority. I took the level 3 hiking the Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala. I about died. Its VERY rigorous going up, and the 6-7000 ft altitude doesn't help. Coming down was absolutely treacherous with unprepared trails, rocks of different sizes, ash, etc. I wasn't prepared for this level of effort - and I wasn't alone. Many people needed to pay for horse rides to get to the lava field. I provided feedback to the shore excursion manager that the excursion description in no way accurately described - and set expectations - for the climb. My parents took a bus tour to a town in Guatamala. They were very disappointed with the excursion - lack of restrooms, very rough roads/driving. They also weren't alone in this assessment. One tour was three hours late in its return to the ship. Our stop in San Juan Sur, Nicaragua, was surprisingly delightful. We had high winds upon arrival which delayed tendering operations causing delays. We weren't greatly impacted with this because of our priority disembarkation. We enjoyed our bus tour to Rivas and Lake Nicaragua. I also enjoyed walking the beachside town of San Juan Sur. Locals are very friendly. We didn't take any excursions in Costa Rica because we had been there before. Instead, we walked and taxiied the port area of Puntarenas, a popular tourist destination for Costa Ricans. Cartegena, Colombia was absolutely lovely. We both liked our excursions, particularly enjoying the Old City, fortress, cathedral, etc. Cartegena deserves another visit. Our final stop was in the Caymans, and you can tell that they have a ton of experience dealing with cruise ships and tourists. Their excursions are planned to the T. I enjoyed Sting Ray City. Our highlight was the day going through the Panama Canal. The Pearl's bow was opened and supplied with beverages, cold towels, etc. A tour guide provided audio description of what we were doing and seeing during the entire transit. An absolutely fascinating experience. Here are my additional tips for NCL/The Pearl: 1. Very cool is the Bridge Observation Room, Deck 11, port side. During the day the window blinds will be open and you can see on to the bridge. Plus, there’s ship history, crew pictures, radar screens, charts and so forth to keep you busy for a few minutes. 2. There’s a bunch of onboard duty free shopping available when you're at sea – booze, jewelry, make up, accessories, clothing, perfume, etc. There’s also a small area for sundries you might have forgotten – toiletries, medications, batteries, etc. It is expensive. I had to pay $15 for a box of Nyquil. Try not to forget anything. 3. Guest Services is available in the Atrium. It operates just like a hotel reception. Go check your ship account every few days to make sure your bill is reflecting as correct. That way you don't have to stand in amazingly long lines the last day of your cruise to correct an error. 4. An alternative to waiting in long lines at the shore excursion desk are to 1) fill out an order form and submit through the mail slot or 2) place excursion orders at automated kiosks (hanging on wall throughout the ship). In either case, tickets will be delivered to your room – placed in the slot above your room number on the door frame. 5. Your bathroom is stocked with large dispensers in the shower for body wash and shampoo, small bottles (hotel style) of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower cap, Kleenex, retractable clothesline, and enough bath towels/hand towels/wash cloths to serve an army. A hair dryer is either in your room or bathroom, but situated in front of a mirror. I found enough shelving in the bathroom to store my toiletries. I had plenty of sockets (American plugs) to operate and recharge devices. You will have pool towels in your room that you can bring off the ship (for beach excursions) and drop off as you reboard. 6. Wifi is the one luxury I purchase - unlimited for duration of the cruise. Its expensive, but works fine. Only one device per room can be on the wifi, however, so you just coordinate with others in your cabin when you're kicking them off. You might want to get International service activated on your smart phone if you want to make phone calls or have internet access (without wifi). I didn’t get any texts in or out, but emails just fine. Rather than pay for onboard minutes, many people will just go to dockside restaurants at ports to get free wifi – they all give it to you if you eat or drink in their establishment! In any case, you can coordinate technology needs with the IT manager onboard. I found him very easy to work with. 7. Trying to find quiet is a challenge. The Atrium area is ridiculously loud in the late afternoon to the evening with music acts - makes working with Guest Service, Shore Excursions or CruiseNext office very difficult. Go see them earlier in the day. The Library is quiet, and sometimes Spinnaker Lounge early in the day and in between ship activities. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
I have cruised with Norwegian in the past. I like their "Freestyle" format. There is no set dining time, but you may make reservations for most of the restaurants. The buffets are more than enough to keep you satisfied, but ... Read More
I have cruised with Norwegian in the past. I like their "Freestyle" format. There is no set dining time, but you may make reservations for most of the restaurants. The buffets are more than enough to keep you satisfied, but the "Pub" and dining halls are complementary and a nice change. This cruise was more sea days than port days due to a storm, 5 ports for a 14 day cruise, we had to miss Cabo, but of all the ports we were scheduled for, it was the one I was least likely to get much from. Public area seating was generally good, a couple of activities underestimated the passenger response, but they made adjustments for later activities. I took an inside cabin of the smaller size, mid ship on deck 8. It was just about right for me and my wife, a third person (in the bunk) would have been too much for the size of the cabin. It IS possible to take the cruise and not spend any money on board, if you don't drink alcohol or soda. But you are likely to want to at least get laundry done ($20 for a bag full) and maybe get a souvenir mug with an alcoholic beverage. If you do drink, do the math and figure if the beverage pass is really worth it for you, you have to buy the package for all of the people in your party even if only one of you intends on using it. I, for one, couldn't consume enough liquor to justify the full price of the pass, but YMMV. Hotel staff are great, my cabin attendant was friendly and called me by name every time we met. Room maintenance was prompt and unobtrusive when needed. Entertainment staff was attentive and made it a point to remember you and greet you with a smile.The free activities I attended were craft oriented and included origami, napkin folding, and paper crafts.They also had a couple of liquor "Classes" that you could purchase and listen to a discussion of whisky or bourbon while sampling the wares. I only took one shore excursion but was very happy with it. There was some kind of delay in departure, it didn't affect our port calls, but it did seem to upset some of the passengers, our rooms were available when expected. When boarding in San Diego, the terminal was serving 2 ships at the same time and apparently a bag ended up on the wrong ship and the queues were long. Due to rough seas (4-6 foot swells) at a tendering port, our shore time was delayed from 10 AM until 1 PM, the captain made arrangements to delay departure to allow for more time on shore and for the excursions to have enough time to fulfill their expectations. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First Class, it provides a unique perspective. Our 1st cruise on the Pearl was to Alaska Labor Day week 2017. We booked this cruise shortly thereafter. I was also the CC Coordinator on both Pearl cruises, we had over 70+ couples who joined us on this San Diego - Tampa cruise via the Panama Canal. Staff Officer/Hotel Director Cary (previous experience was the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Director in NYC) is the only NCL Hotel Director that hosts an end of cruise meeting with myself and other CC members that would like to speak to the senior staff. I interacted with many passengers during this 2 week cruise regarding their experiences which enabled me to share some comments/feedback to the Pearl Staff - in addition to my own observations. I won’t be commenting on the day to day of what we did/eat/excursions, etc., but rather comment on our overall experience. I must say that NCL has improved greatly over the past few years and their FreeStyle is refreshing from some of the other cruise lines offerings. The main dining rooms to the specialty restaurants are indeed a treat. Never did we find a menu that was boring or repetitive during our 2 weeks on board, nor were we served anything that wasn’t fresh and tasty. I can’t say that about some of the finer restaurants in America. Even if NCL didn’t have any specialty restaurants, the Main Dining rooms would be superb. But, the specialty restaurants do add a unique experience in ambiance and taste, so if you would like a special evening, you can’t go wrong with whichever one(s) you chose to try. The Pearls staff are top notch, to say the least. The Captain (airplane or ship) sets the tone for the crew and it shows. I observed Officers picking up garbage on the pool deck, and other Officers rearranging lounge chairs in the clubs. The crew observes this so they in turn go the extra mile to serve us. Like I mentioned previously, NCL has risen in the ranks these past few years in my book and I can’t say enough good things about their staff. From the Cabin Stewards/Stewardess’, Pool Bar Servers to our Wait Staff and Bus Boys to the crew that we never see. As the CC Coordinator for this particular cruise, we organized a Halloween Costume Pub Crawl after we left Cartagena, Columbia. We had a lot of CC participants and as a bonus, the Pearl hosted a Haunted House in the Bliss Lounge. That was a fun memorable evening for all. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise! The Cruise Director and staff did a marvelous job of keeping us entertained for many sea days. NCL’s entertainment was top notch, plus a seasoned speaker/expert on the Panama Canal. Yes, we are booking with NCL again and the Pearl in particular. To me, that is the best write up/endorsement that I can make. Thank you NCL Pearl for being the ultimate Vacation Hero! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
We have always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal and found a deal with Norwegian (our favorite cruise line) from San Diego to Tampa. This was our 9th cruise, and we found the San Diego terminal to be the most chaotic. Once ... Read More
We have always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal and found a deal with Norwegian (our favorite cruise line) from San Diego to Tampa. This was our 9th cruise, and we found the San Diego terminal to be the most chaotic. Once onboard, though, we were back with our Norwegian 'family'.....even ran into some crew members that we had met on a previous cruise on the Pearl..........The Cruise Director, Vincent, was hard-working and attentive to our needs. The Front Desk was very helpful. The Excursion Desk members were great. Our first stop, Cabo San Lucas, was cancelled because of Hurricane Willa. That was okay with us. We had other stops in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Cartagena, and Georgetown. We had great excursions at all stops. We always book an Inside cabin---we are only there at night, so we're happy to save money for other things........like excursions. We eat most of our meals in the Garden Cafe. The food is great.......always a great variety. Staff members are great, so sweet and friendly. Entertainment was great. We 'followed' Peter James, in the Piano Bar! We attended most shows in the Stardust Theatre. My favorite was the Aerialists, Megan and her fiance. We don't do the spa, the casino, the bars, the shopping, the photos. We cruise to see the world, to meet people (passengers and crew) from all over, and to learn about new cultures and new countries. Plus, I love the Ocean! I could spend all day standing on the rail watching the waves and the endless sea! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
After cruising on the ncl pride of America in Hawaii I said I would never use nick again. On that cruise I felt the staff thought we were doing them a favor. I only took this cruise because if fit our time frame and iternary. Glad we gave ... Read More
After cruising on the ncl pride of America in Hawaii I said I would never use nick again. On that cruise I felt the staff thought we were doing them a favor. I only took this cruise because if fit our time frame and iternary. Glad we gave nick another chance because this crew and staff we fantastic. We spent our 50 anniversary on this cruise and loved every minute. The only complaints we have is our kids gave us a dining package and we were never notified about it. We found out by accident. And one other thing. We got no advanced notice about the Halloween party or the white hot night so we were not prepared. But overall we loved the cruise and will never forget it. Loved the complacently drink package Althing if I had to buy it I think it is to expensive. I would purchase the dining package again Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Cons -old cruise ship; framework inside hasn't changed -resulting from old design, passengers cannot navigate as easily as on modern ships - traveling portside corridors will not land you at the same places starboard. -soda ... Read More
Cons -old cruise ship; framework inside hasn't changed -resulting from old design, passengers cannot navigate as easily as on modern ships - traveling portside corridors will not land you at the same places starboard. -soda package is a rip off. Soda will come from the bar fountain and at stations without a fountain, cans are used. However, you often get an old can (flat soda) because only slightly half a can pours into one of their cups. So, if the person in front of you orders a Pepsi and then, you're the next guest 15 minutes later to order a Pepsi, you get whatever was leftover in the can from the prior guest. Pathetic policy. -Stardust Auditorium (theatre on the ship) is extremely outdated. The seats are fold down and low to the ground. Very uncomfortable. -Thermal Spa chairs are positioned inside the center of the spa; they should be ideally facing out to the front forward the ships windows. Pros -This is a classic cruise ship; which makes it easily convertible to what an affinity group customizes it to be. This ship is one of the most chartered ships in the US today. -the Filipino staff will cater to your every ask -food is slightly above average; good spread Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
On our NCL cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun, November 2 -- December 2, 2016, the staff was out of control.  Room cleaning was completely substandard.  Staff made little response to requests from the passengers.  Staff retaliated against ... Read More
On our NCL cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun, November 2 -- December 2, 2016, the staff was out of control.  Room cleaning was completely substandard.  Staff made little response to requests from the passengers.  Staff retaliated against "complainers."  In one instance, NCL staff left fresh excrement on the shower curtain of a couple who reported multiple times that they could not turn off the heat in their cabin. Our trip was ruined from the start.  Passengers are telling each other their bad experiences on board and there were numerous complaints. 1) Our stateroom 8312 temperature was too cold - not inhabitable for us.  We could not shut off the freezing cold current of air.  In addition to being so cold, there was mildew everywhere on the bathroom floor and the vent in the room was extremely dirty. 2) We were lied to for about ten days about a possible solution to the cold air. 3) Finally after my husband went to emergency room for uncontrollable shivering and feverish temperature, we were given a "heater" to counter the cold air.  Because of the pipeline from the heater has to be connected to the bathroom exhaust, our room smelled like sewer.  Even people down the hall could smell it and our steward didn't want to come in to our room to do the routing cleaning. 4) The cruise doctor would not admit that my husband's problem was caused by cold temperature in the room even he could not find what was wrong by tests.  5) The bathroom drain was not working well and water was slashing around the bathroom floor for days, before a technician showed up.  The problem was not fixed properly, but the condition got better. 6) Then the sink no longer draining.  Took two different engineers and three days to fix the very clogged, smelly drain. 7) Our room floor carpet became wet from water condensation from the heater, which has no pipeline installed to lead the water away. 8) The cruise finally offered to change our rooms, but said that we could only stay there for four nights and no guarantee the room would have heat.  There would not be room for a heater.  By then, we had no confidence in their words. 9) The cruise staff was so disorganized and miss communicated.  We were told one thing at one time and another the next.  On the morning of arriving Valparaiso, Chile, we were harassed by a front desk officer by ordering us to leave our room or he would send security to throw us out right after we were told to stay in there by another officer.  10) I served meals to my husband who was sick in bed for the entire trip and we had to cancel excursions and let go $650 ship credit. 11) Our complaints met a blind eye by the captain, who told me that "We don't serve individuals."   He admitted that there was no heat in some cabins and most of time there was no heat on the ship at all.  However, some passengers complained that their rooms were roasting hot and some were too cold.  People got sick and complaints were everywhere.  Compare to other cruises we took, NCL Sun was unbelievably worse in their services, room comfort and their willingness to solve problems. We had no room comfort problems on any other ship we sailed. We wrote to management many times.  We were disappointed. We paid over $6,400 for a trip of life time, but we had a miserable time because of bad service leading to illness.   The NCL Sun cruise started on Nov. 2, 2016 from San Diego and ended on Dec. 3, 2016 at the port of Bueno Aires, Argentina, totaling 31 days.  My husband hardly went on shore and he spent most his time in bed. Norwegian Sun staff told us the reason that they continued to work on this ship, because they had no pressure or less pressure.  That explains why the service was bad.   To us, a good service is the management and staff take proactive approach to problem solving.  Show us they care.  But some key staff and officers on Norwegian Sun had bad attitude including lying to make problem go away.  Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
First, the NCL repositioning cruise from San Diego to Valparaiso and then from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires does not sell out. We met dozens of people that booked the first leg - San Diego to Valparaiso the day before departure and paid ... Read More
First, the NCL repositioning cruise from San Diego to Valparaiso and then from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires does not sell out. We met dozens of people that booked the first leg - San Diego to Valparaiso the day before departure and paid under $400.00/person for a very good cabin. Then there were people who were booking the second leg from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires when we were getting close to the end of the first leg and they were getting amazing prices on the second leg with good choices of cabins. If you can, book late and save big money on both of these cruises! The embarkation process in San Diego was delayed and it took much longer to get everyone on the ship, day one. They told us there was a chartered group the week before and they were really taking their time getting off the ship in San Diego. After everything was sorted out the ship left from San Diego late. The Norwegian Sun is one of the smaller ships in their fleet, but the rooms are clean and it appears the normal wear and tear of a cruise ship is being addressed regularly. On this cruise the main decks in the pool area were being refinished so they would mark off an area each day and the sanding and vacuuming would go on all day long. Thus, future passengers would benefit from refinished pool decks. The included options for food consist of a buffet and two dining rooms. There are also six extra charge restaurants on the ship. In the included restaurants the food is average at best. We did not feel that there was a great deal of flavor to many of the dishes served at the buffet or the restaurants. The service at the restaurants and the cabins was good. The personnel working in both the cabins and restaurants did not appear to be overly customer oriented, but were responsive when you engaged them in conversation. Overall, the entertainment on board was marginal each evening. On this 17 night cruise there were only a couple of acts that would be considered good and we spoke to many different guests during the day that agreed with our assessment of the entertainment. The exercise/gym area was split into two rooms. There was a smaller room with all exercise equipment and that room was typically full of people and many people had to wait for exercise machines in the mornings. The other room, next door was the larger of the two rooms and open for groups to use for stretching in the morning. The two pools and deck area is small but the group on this ship did not seem to be too crowded as there were many on the cruise who chose not to be outside much of the day. The Sun also had two golf hitting nets and a table tennis area. In the golf hitting nets there was only left handed clubs and a few old beat up golf balls in each net. If you are a left handed golfer, you’re in luck. The scheduled enrichment talks were not well done and mostly abandoned by the passengers the first week. The daily activities were minimal and not well attended nor well organized and run. The activities started late and were held in venues that did not have enough space for everyone so many people quit attending. In talking to others on the ship some had taken this cruise the year before and told us that the new NCL owners (not sure about the ownership change) had really cut back on everything including the food in the dining rooms, the drink prices had increased significantly and it seemed like their was a mandate from corporate to save money anywhere and everywhere possible. We talked with a number of passengers along the way and found people who thought the cruise was magnificent to those who felt that other cruise lines were better at almost everything on the ship. Everyone has their likes and dislikes when it comes to cruising and you can find someone on your cruise to agree with your point of view. PORTS Huatulco, MX - Has been upgraded in the last 18 months to include more shops, restaurants and bars. There are multiple options for shopping and eating in port, most places have wifi if you purchase food and/or drinks. There are some tours that leave from the port, many taxis are available in port and multiple beaches very close to the cruise dock as well. BTW, the boulevard that goes south from the port to the town is a good place to get a run in for those interested. Chiapas, MX - Very little to nothing available in this port. There are a few shops in the exit area, one with wifi if you buy 2 drinks, but there are so many people on the wifi that you get very little bandwidth, thus a super slow connection. They provide buses to the city for $10.00 round trip and the bus ride is 30 minutes each way. Not much to to do in the port area if you stay for the day. Chiapas is a small Mexican town with some shops, restaurants and bars. There are a few tours offered to local area coffee farms, some small ruins, etc. if you are so inclined. Antigua, Guatemala - The ship ports in an industrial port which is not well designed for tourists and cruise boats. They have tried to provide some shopping and dining options the port area, but those are minimal at best. There are a few shops with Guatemalan clothing and other hand made souvenirs available and all of the vendors accept USD. A couple of bars have opened and provide wifi, however, once again with everyone trying to get on the internet the connection is super slow and comes and goes - mostly goes. At the port there are taxis and multiple tour companies that will take you to Antiqua. The tour company cost is fixed and all charged $45.00 per person the day we were there. We have heard some days it is $50.00 per person. Driving straight to Antigua could be done in and hour, but most of the tour companies will take 1.5 to over 2 hours to get to Antigua. They like to stop multiple times to have you shop at little shops along the way. The tour company uses 12 passenger vans that are older, have 4 rows of seats, all have a flip down/up third seat in each row (which is the most uncomfortable seat in the row) and they put 12 people in a van before they leave for Antigua. If you have back problems you will be uncomfortable within the first hour on the van. The roads are have many bumps and the seats in the vans have very little cushion. We chose Viajes de Guatemala for our tour company and there are 3 or 4 different companies at the port all vying very hard to get your business. We stopped 3 times on the way to Antigua and it took over 2 hours to get there from the port. The tour guide took us to 2 different free museums and wanted us to go shopping at a central area where he could be with us at all times. Some of us wondered off to see the city on our own and were rounded up in 30 minutes to get back with the group. Downtown Antigua would be a very nice place to spend and afternoon and is not at all dangerous for tourists. USD are accepted everywhere and English is spoken by many Guatemalans. There are people walking around selling necklaces and woven items. If we could do it again, we would like to get a ride to Antigua and walk around for the afternoon and then ride back to the port. Our guide followed us very closely and then after we spent about an hour in the town took us to a restaurant on the way out of town where we were expected to buy our lunch. The restaurant was expensive for the town. We were then put back on the van, taken to the cross on the hill above the city for a picture option, put back on the van, taken to another museum for a short stop then to drive back to the ship. We talked to other guests on the ship and some were able to get a van or bus that went to Antigua allowed you to walk around for 3-4 hours then take you back to the port. We think we would look for this option next time as we prefer to spend out time walking about the town and not getting in and out of a van most of the time. Antigua is a very nice place to visit, we never felt uncomfortable in the town and would like to experience more of the town on another visit. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - We have visited many parts of Costa Rica over the years and feel it is most unfortunate that this port may be a first experience for people visiting Costa Rica on a cruise ship. This port is not in any way representative of the Costa Rican people or country. This port is dirty and the people are not gracious and helpful like most of the people in Costa Rica. You can walk from the ship to the city in less than 10 minutes. There are many vendors set up along the sidewalk between the main street and the beach most of which speak English and accept USD for almost anything you want to purchase. Also in this area are a number of outdoor restaurants and most have wifi if you buy something to eat or drink. We recommend leaving the ship and booking a tour at one of the tour companies located in the port area. The street that follows the beach is a good place for a 4 mile run. Zip lining is a great experience in Costa Rica. Salaverry, Peru (Trujillo is the nearest city) - Trujillo is a city of about 1 million people and the majority would be considered very poor in most countries. On the cruise ship we paid $15 for round tip buss transport from the port to the city of Trujillo or you can hire a taxi at the port. There is a main square with free wifi throughout the square (very nice for the city to provide wifi free) and there is a walking mall for about 1/2 mile that has many shops and restaurants. You can also take a city bus or taxi to Chan-Chan which is about 30 minutes by bus - 20 minutes by taxi. There are only a few ATM’s in the city, we discovered one in a Scotiabank along the walking mall. There are not too many souvenir shops in town, but the local people set up a number of tents in the parking lot of the dock area and you can get local products at a fair price from them just before you board the ship. At the port you can use USD and English can be used with the vendors. In the city Spanish is most helpful if you want to eat, drink or buy something along with Peruvian money. There are numerous police all around the town and we never felt threatened or unsafe anywhere in the city of Trujillo. Callao, Peru (Lima) - the port is again an industrial port which requires the cruise line to bus everyone out to the port gates to start their trip to town. We decided to take a taxi as that appeared to be a faster way to get to Lima in the morning. Most of the taxi drivers at the port want to have a day trip out of the port and will try to talk you into hiring them for 4 or 5 hours at about $25 USD per hour. We found a driver that would take us to downtown Lima and drop us off. The taxi ride to downtown Lima from the port gates is approximately 10 miles and due to traffic, excessive stop lights and signs, poor roads and way too much traffic for the roads the trip was almost 45 minutes with a 9:00 a.m. start from the port gates. We experienced the same type of difficulty on the return to the port and the return trip took even longer due to afternoon traffic. You should expect to pay around $25 USD each way in a taxi. One of the passengers decided to try walking from the taxi stop into the town of Callao and was robbed within blocks. We had read on Trip Advisor not to walk in this area and to only take taxi’s or busses from the port to the city. The center of the city is a traditional South American big city (@10 million people) with a square and the government buildings in the center of town. There is a walking mall in the center of town with many shops and restaurants along the way. In the square there are many police officers and tourism officials that can assist you with maps and directions. Most first time visitors to Lima will take the tour of the San Francisco cathedral (about $3.50 USD) as they take you to the catacombs in the basement. The English tour goes about once an hour and can be very crowded, e. g. over 20 people in the group. With so many people in a group it is difficult to hear the guide. Near the cathedral is the presidential palace and they have a changing of the guards ceremony a couple of times a day. There are some shop keepers and taxi drivers that will accept USD but for the most part you need to pay with a credit card or Nuevo Soles. There are many banks in the downtown area and you can also find people with green vests who walk along the streets and they will change your money. Downtown Lima seems safe and free of crime for tourists, we felt safe everywhere we walked in the downtown area. Arica, Chile - An industrial port that requires a shuttle from the ship to the port gates. When you arrive at the port gates the city is just across the street. The locals have set up a number of shops in tents at the park across the street that sell mostly hand made items. These small tent shops want to deal in USD for their hand made items. Some of the shops in town will take USD but most prefer Chilean money. The are plenty of ATM’s throughout the city. From the ship you will see a hill in the city with a large flag of Chili on top. The walk to the top of a hill is moderately strenuous and takes about a half hour to get to the top of the hill from the port gates. On top of the hill there is a small museum, some very old cannons (1867 vintage) and a statue of Jesus. In town there is a pedestrian mall and a narrow street that has mostly bars and restaurants. Many of the bars and restaurants have wifi if you purchase food or drinks. Some of the restaurants you will come across will advertise wifi, but if they have a weak signal you won’t be able to log on and if you do it is extremely slow, so ask people at the tables about the signal before sitting down and ordering. There are a couple of museums in town and some historical statues that you can spend time viewing. It is a nice town and feels safe, however, the waiter at the bar/restaurant we stopped at in the restaurant row area told me to keep my camera in my backpack and not on the table. Be aware of your surroundings as is good advice in any city, especially the tourist areas. Coquimbo, Chile - They are working on many upgrades to this port in 2016 and it appears that in 2017 it will have a very different look. The current status of the port includes a small port building about 200 yards from the ship. The port building has free wifi (1000 passengers and crew really suck up the bandwidth quick) and some tourism representatives to assist you in planning your daily activities. You can walk through the port gates and across the street to the town of Coquimbo which has a couple of main streets that you can shop or sit for coffee, beer or some food. The large cross on the hill can be seen from the ship and almost anywhere in town. We also took the city bus (#1) that you can catch across the street from the port and for 600 Chilean pesos you can ride the bus to La Serena about 10 miles to the north. The bus will take 30 + minutes as it stops many times between the two cities. In La Serena the downtown area is filled with shops, restaurants and many more things to see and do compared to Coquimbo. In the downtown area of La Serena there are many artisan tents with hand made items that are truly one of a kind. Both cities can be toured in one day by using the city bus to go over and back or you can hire a cab right at the port gates. In Coquimbo, two of our fellow passengers were robbed at gun point on one of the switchback stairs going up to the cross on the hill. One can never emphasize enough the importance of traveling in groups and staying in safe areas. The people are very welcoming and we felt safe traveling in both cities. We were lucky to meet a couple on the bus to La Serena that wanted to take us to the downtown area and show us around. Try your Spanish with the passengers on the city bus and you can get a guided tour! Valparaiso, Chile - This was the final stop for this cruise and the beginning of the next cruise to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We spent the day in Valparaiso as the ship was not leaving until the evening. Valparaiso port is quite inconvenient requiring 2 different shuttle busses to get to the port gates. The trip from the ship to the port gates took us 2 hours and when we talked to others on the ship the same trip took many of them over 2 hours and some gave up trying to get to the city after 2 hours. Outside the port gates we were constantly cautioned to keep our camera out of site and wear your backpack on your chest to avoid having anything stolen. We took the city bus (350 Chilean Pesos) from the street across from port gates south to Plaza Sotamayor where we met a guide that does tours for tips. The tour guides hang out at the statue in the middle of the plaza and wear green shirts. The tour was about 2.5 hours and took us through the downtown area with many stops to explain historical buildings and the history behind the entire city. Valparaiso is a very hilly town with a great deal of traffic on narrow streets. The tour was well worth the time and money as the tour guide told us so much about the city and the country. Tour guides are available in multiple languages and when you ask about the tour they will separate you into the language group you feel most comfortable. There are numerous bars/restaurants along the main streets near the plazas and all are inviting with good prices for food and drink. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
Unfortunately this cruise was off to bad start as no one could board for along time & there seemed to be no organisation. Finally on board after 2 hrs. in a queue.. then no cabins were ready for a very long time. Luggage was not ... Read More
Unfortunately this cruise was off to bad start as no one could board for along time & there seemed to be no organisation. Finally on board after 2 hrs. in a queue.. then no cabins were ready for a very long time. Luggage was not delivered til 8pm! In fact we went & collected 1 suitcase our selves, as it had not been delivered. No explanation as to why all these delays. Our cabin was very nice ..after eventually able to get in at 7pm!!! Dinning was much more civilised in the dining rooms than at the Buffett ..where is was often a bun fight.. with people pushing in here & there. The crew were very polite & well mannered, but some were not trained properly in 1st class dining. In the Restaurants , dining plates were removed before the other person had finished their meal. So more training seems to be needed in some areas. This cruise was definitely very American orientated, as most of the passengers were from the USA. Shore excursions were very expensive. The one we took in Costa Rica was for 4&half hours. But it returned to the ship 1 hour early & the last part of our excursion was not fulfilled. I complained on our return & a report was taken, then 1 week later when I enquired I was told we would get a $15- refund each! We heard lots of complaints about various shore excursion/ tours ..but most people didn't not make an official complaint. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2016
We wanted to see the south American experience. As we embarked, we had lunch at the Garden Café. We found the food to be of a very messy quality. Again as we ate breakfast and lunch we found very little variations from day to day. ... Read More
We wanted to see the south American experience. As we embarked, we had lunch at the Garden Café. We found the food to be of a very messy quality. Again as we ate breakfast and lunch we found very little variations from day to day. Too many dishes with Indian seasoning (curry). I do not understand when you have several specialty restaurants, why you have to pay extra for certain cuts of meat in the Four Season dining room (main dining room). The service was great, waiters and assistant maitre D were the most helpful and congenial people. The main dining room was nice but expected more of a higher quality of dinners, this is in comparison to other cruises we have been on. Eight days into our 17 day cruise I came down with food poisoning, (my strong opinion). This required medical assistance from the ship medical staff. I was quarantined to my room for 24 hrs. We had to cancel a special paid excursion for that day. The medical staff was able to have our $200 fair reimbursed. This was the day we were to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Bummer. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
After being on the Epic in February I swore that I would never go onto another Norwegian Cruise again. However friends told me that they had experienced great cruises with Norwegian. When I discovered this cruise in early October with its ... Read More
After being on the Epic in February I swore that I would never go onto another Norwegian Cruise again. However friends told me that they had experienced great cruises with Norwegian. When I discovered this cruise in early October with its unique itinerary and give away price I couldn't refuse. After notifying all my cruise friends about this deal one joined me. Very nice ship it reminded me of a Princess or a smaller RCI ship. Embarkation in San Diego was alright for me but a nightmare for others as the cruiseport is minimal, NCI didn't acknowledge past cruiser except for their highest level. For some it took close to 4 hours. The ship had been chartered for a 5 day booze cruise, they were still waking people up to throw them off at noon. All the public carpets and half the staterooms had to be shampooed. Room were not available until 3PM. Big cheer for the crew as they did a fantastic job cleaning the ship. As this a relocation cruise there were a lot of sea days. Norwegians enrichment program is almost not existent. we had one lecturer who was very Knowledgeable but has a monotone British voice which put people to sleep. The photographic manager gave one 45 minute presentation. Company policy does not allow him to give additional seminars although he indicated he was willing to do so. I have previously attended excellent photographic workshops on Princess which cost the cost cost the cruise line nothing to put on other than photocopying and a few prints. On other ships each day day one of the ships officers would give a presentation on his department. It cost the cruise lines nothing and makes for good informative entertainment. Norwegians shore excursions are very! expensive ! try to book yours privately. Similarly bring a case of wine with you and pay the corkage fee $15 a bottle it will be a better value. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Being in close quarters with your spouse for 17 days, not to mention hundreds of other passengers and crew, sounds like a good way to get cranky and swear off cruising for life. On the contrary, we found ourselves savoring the voyage, ... Read More
Being in close quarters with your spouse for 17 days, not to mention hundreds of other passengers and crew, sounds like a good way to get cranky and swear off cruising for life. On the contrary, we found ourselves savoring the voyage, enjoying each other and wonderful new friends, regretfully noting the few days remaining as we left each port. Maybe it was the unique itinerary - a good balance of sea and port days repositioning from San Diego through fascinating and diverse locations in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, northern and central Peru, and northern and central Chile. We envied the few who were staying on to travel past Cape Horn to Buenos Aires and beyond to Rio de Janeiro. The sea days provided a good variety of activities, including Spanish and Bridge lessons, and interesting and informative talks about medical history from the ship's physician, along with everything else you would expect (bingo, casino, trivia, sports, gym, fitness classes, shows, karaoke, art auctions, etc.) The music was great - even for a relatively small ship you could walk from area to area and find different musicians to suit your taste. At the ports you had lots of choices between ship excursions, organizing your own tour, or just taking a taxi. Many of the ports are set up for commercial shipping and you cannot just walk off the ship to a cafe with free wifi - fortunately, free shuttle service is provided to the area where you can find a tour or grab a taxi. The most inconvenient of these is Valparaiso, where we disembarked. First you need a shuttle to take you to the Customs area; then another shuttle out to where you can get a tour or a taxi, or simply hop on the local transit train. Considering the potential for confusion, disembarkation went very smoothly. I hope some of the ports recognize the economic potential in cruise ship traffic and make improvements some day. There were subtle changes we noticed from our last cruise, one year earlier and also on the Sun. The food was noticeably better. The recent merger with the luxury line Prestige has seemed to have improved Norwegian's food choices, flavor and presentation. Now, if they could only hold off on the salt in their broths and sauces. Service in the dining rooms - specialty and free - was impeccable and staff went out of their way to accommodate requests. They were pro-active in letting guests know: "if you need anything, just ask". The officers and directors were present and visible throughout. Bridge crew, chefs, food and beverage directors, cruise director, guest services and latitudes staff and management interacted frequently and made themselves available to hear from guests. On a cruise of this length you really get to know and appreciate the crew. Everything clicked so that guests could enjoy. That left us free to make some wonderful and unforgettable new friends and memories we will treasure always. It felt like being part of a big, happy, fun family - the kind that accepts and laughs at those moments you do get cranky and leaves you smiling. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
I’m a 34 year old male who sailed solo on the Norwegian Sun from San Diego, CA, USA to Valpraiso, Chile from November 2, 2016 to November 19, 2016. I’ve sailed with many different cruise lines but have found NCL to meet most of my ... Read More
I’m a 34 year old male who sailed solo on the Norwegian Sun from San Diego, CA, USA to Valpraiso, Chile from November 2, 2016 to November 19, 2016. I’ve sailed with many different cruise lines but have found NCL to meet most of my needs and as such this was my 24th cruise with them although my 37th cruise overall. I’ve sailed on other cruise lines including Celebrity, Princess, Carnival and once on Royal Caribbean. How I structure my reviews is on a day by day basis of what I did and my thoughts on what I did. Hope you enjoy the review…. DAY 1 – Embarkation & San Diego Since the ship had just returned from Groove Cruise Cabo, a full ship charter, it took longer than normal for the ship to be cleared to start embarking the next guests. I was on back-to-back with this charter so I didn’t get off the ship until 11AM. Since the ship was still not cleared at that point, I headed to Starbucks and made a few calls before heading back to the terminal. When I arrived back to the terminal, I queued with other guests to get back through security and walked right onto the ship. I’m sure others on this voyage will tell you embarkation was a mess but for me it was super easy! I dined for lunch in Seven Seas where service was fast and friendly while waiting for my new cabin to become available. I swapped from an ocean view on Groove Cruise to a balcony on this cruise. Since the prior cruise went a little longer, rooms were not announced as ready until after 2PM. I just hung out in the dining room until they were ready. Balcony Stateroom – Deck 10 – Cabin 0053 Located right by the aft stairwell, this cabin was in great condition for the ship’s age. Everything functioned as it should have. The noise from above was from chairs and tables being dragged in the Sports Bar. This would happen infrequently so it wasn’t loud or annoying. I’m a night owl so the tables and chairs moving was encountered in the early evening when people were assembling sides for watching football games and the like. The cabin came with a terrycloth robe, soap, lotion, coffee maker (which was changed during the voyage) and a mini-bar. Noise from the aft stairwell was rarely heard and I couldn’t hear my neighbors at any point during the voyage. Since my luggage was waiting for me when the staterooms were marked as ready, I went ahead and unpacked while waiting for muster drill. There was some confusion when muster arrived as my old muster station was on my keycard and not the new one. I looked at the back of the door to make sure mine had moved as I went from forward to aft. I went to the muster station on the door and they saw the keycard and sent me down to the other muster station forward. I got there and they couldn’t find me on the manifest for that station and sent me back aft. I went back to the person and they found me on the list. Turns out when my new keycard was printed at guest services they actually re-printed my old room’s keycard, not the new one so when I tried to get back into my cabin it wouldn’t let me. Quick stop to guest services got that fixed. I headed up on deck to see the Feel Free Sail Away Party. The cruise staff were trying but clearly no one was interested in partying and a few people danced but the few souls hanging around the pool deck were just watching, not participating. The music was what you’d expect for a normal cruise sailing. For me after Groove Cruise, it was culture shock. I stuck around until the cruise staff took off which was about 45 minutes after the start of the party and then went around the ship to catch cast off from different vantage points. At 5:30PM there was the solo traveler’s meet up in the Havana Club. There was a huge group of solos this cruise, largely bolstered by NCL’s offering of a solo cruiser discount on the voyage. Our social hostess for the cruise was Benjeel from the Philippines. Lovely lady but the first night even she was overwhelmed with the sheer number of guests who showed up. Dinner was arranged for solos at two times, 6PM and 8PM. At 6PM most of the solos disappeared and went to the dinner. I stayed behind at the Havana Club and chilled as the Friends of Dorothy was also here at 6:30PM. After the Friends of Dorothy gathering, I headed back to the cabin to get ready for dinner at the Seven Seas dining room. After a nice dinner of I can’t remember what I ate, I headed to the 9PM variety show. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Welcome Aboard Show This was a nice introduction to some of the acts we would see during the early part of the voyage. The production cast performed a couple of dance numbers while the Norwegian Sun show band also performed. A couple of divas came out and did a few songs and the magician came out as well for a few acts. The ship’s senior staff were also introduced during this event. It was entertainment for the night. Afterward, given how exhausted I was from Groove Cruise I went to bed. DAY 2 – SEA DAY After going to bed so early the previous night compared to the last voyage, I was up at 4:30AM wide awake. I purchased the unlimited wifi package and did some work on the balcony as the sun was coming up and then went to breakfast in the main dining room. I love fruit so almost the entire order for breakfast was fresh fruit and yogurt with some French toast on the side. All of it was presented and prepared well. At 11AM there was the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet with the ship’s officers and fellow cruise guests. We took part of the venue at the Observation Lounge for the gathering. All the senior officers were in attendance and offered to assist us in any way with any issues we had before getting off the ship. They all provided us their handy phone numbers which was very nice of them. Brian Watlers, the Hotel Director came over afterward and talked with me a bit as he remembered me from several cruises I’d taken on the Norwegian Jewel. In the early afternoon after a buffet lunch, the ship held the first welcome back party for Latitudes guests. It was so large that they held it in the Stardust Theater. I asked for a Sprite and Vesna Campos, the Food and Beverage Manager saw to it that I received it. I floated around the ship for the rest of the afternoon and got some sun while checking out the DJ’s afternoon pool side set. I got some sun for a bit and then headed back inside to get ready for dinner and the solo’s gathering at 5:30PM. I skipped the solos dinner again tonight in favor of meeting more people at the Friends of Dorothy but there was a large turnout again for the 6PM dinner time. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Las Vegas Tenors I sat for the early show at 7PM and watched these three very talented vocalists perform together and individually to some great tunes spanning many different genres of music. I enjoyed their show and a lot of guests seemed to as well since they received a standing ovation. After the show was over, I went to dinner with some new friends made along the way. Norwegian’s Night Out Party At the encouragement of the solo’s hostess, I checked out the Norwegian’s Night Out in Dazzles Disco. It was all older music as the average age this voyage was 64. I stayed for a couple of songs and watched the cruise staff try and rope people in for dancing and then went to bed. If the music was anything more current than the 60s and 70s, I might have stated but I was exhausted and the music was putting me to sleep. DAY 3 – SEA DAY After working a bit on the wifi and then getting some breakfast it was off to the Behind-The-Scenes ship tour for Platinum Latitudes members being hosted by Andres Dos Santos from the CruiseNEXT desk. We were shown the I-95, ship’s laundry, production back stage in the Stardust Theater and finally the ship’s galley. The tour is hosted at different points by the department heads. It’s a really nice overview of how the behind the scenes on a ship functions and a perk of being a Platinum Latitudes member. Loyalty does have its rewards! After a quick bite to eat for lunch, I went to the gym for a little bit before going up on deck and catching some sun. The sun was setting later so it was perfect. Headed back for a quick shower and change and went to the solos gathering. Tonight I joined the 6PM group at dinner and shared a table with 11 other guests. It was a bit busy with one end of the table being a higher age demographic than me and the other side being about my age. It kind of split up the table along those lines and people were not cross-talking between the two groups. One thing I can’t stand is dining alone at dinner. As a solo traveler, I’m accustomed to doing most things on my own but dining for dinner solo is not my favorite. STARDUST SHOWTIME: DIVAS 2 After seeing a tease of them in the embark day’s variety show, I was skeptical of this performance and whether or not it would be any good. Individually the two can sing nicely but when combined it’s worse than nails being scratched on a chalkboard. The African American vocalist could get higher notes and seemed to be having more fun with it than the other girl. I did stay through the whole performance as I did need something to do before the disco got going. I would not recommend this show. At 10 PM Dazzles flipped to an open format with the DJ Onyx. I stayed for the first few songs which were again stuck in the 70s but it was so quiet. No one was in there except a handful of older people. The scene was dead so I went to bed. Turns out this cruise saved me a fortune in alcohol expenses as I only drink if the nightclub is good and the music makes me want to stay. DAY 4 – SEA DAY After a leisurely working breakfast, I headed to the gym for another workout session. The gym on the Norwegian Sun is well appointed with cardio equipment ranging from elliptical machines and treadmills to bikes and rowing machines. There’s also a number of weight resistance machines working just about every major body part and then there’s a small assortment of free weights. The layout is functional. If you want to do any form of stretching you have to go into the aerobics classroom next door. While there might be a seminar being taught by Bogdan, the personal trainer, you can still use the back of the room without issue so long as you’re quiet. After a nice lunch it was back up to the forward deck to catch some sun and get a nap in. Seems like the sea days were meant to be workout and sun time. While the ship had trivia, bingo and the usual suspects of towel animal folding and fruit carving demonstrations, I just chose the more leisurely route. Tonight at 5:30PM I went to the solos gathering and again accompanied them to dinner. During dinner service this night (I think), Amber Strings came and performed for the dinner service. These girls are amazing and do several classical numbers and different shows throughout the cruise in the atrium and various other venues. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Las Vegas Tenors Wait, didn’t I just review that? Well it’s a long cruise so Las Vegas Tenors came back for a second show with new songs to be sung. Again, these guys did not disappoint and belted out some great favorites from Opera to Rock ‘N Roll hits. When you think of tenors you usually think of boring but these guys really are good. I was happy they had a second show. There was no point even staying up for Dazzle’s Disco as it was advertised as having the 50s and 60s sock hop so I just went to bed. DAY 5 – HUATULCO, MEXICO NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Huatulco Archeological Site and Market Shopping I had myself convinced I wasn’t going to do a shore excursion at this port call and just hang out on the beach right at the end of the pier. Well after 3 sea days and the ship being completely dead after 10PM, I was itching to do something. Elysabeth at the Shore Excursion desk was honest with me and said this shore excursion did contain a bit of shopping but I decided to book it anyway. It turns out due to mobility limitations we didn’t spend that much time shopping and instead spent more time at the ruins!! The Copalita ruins are still being excavated but they give you a peak into Zapotec, Mixtec and Aztec merchant lifestyle and how they went about processing new people into the colony. The tour guide was quite knowledgeable as we were going around the site and had some of the different myths about the site. There’s still a lot of wiggle room on what actually went on here. Given the artifacts that are at a museum as you enter, the guide believed it was more merchant trade compared to any of the other stories! While on this lovely tour I met two Australian ladies as well who made the tour that much more enjoyable! I would recommend this tour! Back on the ship, the two ladies I met on the tour decided to have a drink and get some food at the Great Outdoors. When the ship sailed from Huatulco I was on the Promenade Deck and when the ship swung around to head south the sunset was just amazing. This cruise I got to appreciate nature so much more than usual. In the morning before we arrived there dolphins jumping on the port side of the ship which I watched from my balcony. The sea was kind to me this voyage. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Pure Variety Tonight was the first night full production show by the Sun singers, dancers and showband. Exactly like it sounded like, the show was a variety of different songs that introduced the principal singers in the cast and the dancers to the attending guests. It was a good show!! I attended the 9PM showing after having a lovely dinner in the dining room. Not having anything on the agenda for the next port call, I tried to give Dazzle’s Disco another chance. Tonight’s theme was Dancing Through the Ages. I brought my phone with me to do some work on wifi as I checked it out. Sure enough the music again was stuck in the 70s. Never thought I would dislike the song Twist but it was being played as much as the Cupid Shuffle usually is on a regular 7 day cruise. I was amazed and bored so off to bed I went again! DAY 6 – PUERTO CHIAPAS, MEXICO Like Huatulco I had been to Puerto Chiapas before. I had seen the main city close by and the ruins and archaeological museum which is worth checking out if you’ve never gone before. However, there’s nothing much else to do. I stayed on the ship after breakfast and again did a workout and went out to the hut where the souvenirs were. I wasn’t moved to buy anything. I stopped by the pool where the crew were hanging out briefly and decided to just head back on the ship and give the crew their space. I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed up to the forward sun deck which was empty and laid out. All in all it was a very uneventful day! SPECIALTY DINING: Teppanyaki Tonight I dined with two friends I made the previous day at Teppanyaki. If you’ve never done it before, it’s dinner cooked before your eyes with a little bit of a show. Tonight was a very personal seating as it was just us three and two ladies from the UK. It wasn’t a full table! The show was that much more intimate and the chefs took time to get to know us more. It also allowed us to customize the food with less salt and butter than is customarily use in the food preparation here. I was so thankful! The chefs did an amazing job and earned a little bit of an extra tip for their service. The wait staff were friendly and the hostess did recognize me from a previous cruise on the Jewel. When you cruise so much the crew literally become family, it was so nice to see her again. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Master Magician Greg Gleason The problem with cruising too much is you see some of the entertainers over and over again. This would be one example. If you’ve never seen Greg before he’s got a slew of slight of hand tricks and illusions. However, his show hasn’t changed since the last time I saw it so I didn’t stay for the whole thing. It is worth checking out if you’ve never seen it before though! Between having an excursion in the morning and knowing the disco would be stuck in the 70’s all night, I gave up and went to bed. It was 70’s disco night in Dazzles. DAY 7 – PUERTO QUETZAL, GUATEMALA The first new port on this itinerary for me. I was up early to get some breakfast and see the ship make its approach to the pier. The ship actually docked starboard side so I couldn’t see just how interesting debarking was. The cruise pier was actually just a metal grating and rickety to get to the mainland. I couldn’t wait to get off the thing after debarking the ship. NCL SHORE EXCURSION: COLONIAL ANTIGUA On the drive to the colonial city of Antigua, the tour guide was explaining local customs and the history of this area of Guatemala. What really was fascinating was our passing of the two volcanoes Agua and Fuego. One of them was actually beginning to erupt again. While scary and awe inspiring at the same time, the tour guide assured us we were in no danger. I took several photos and unexpectedly crossed something off my bucket list to see – an exploding volcano. The eruption wasn’t that great or big but still cool to see if you’ve never seen it before. When we arrived to Antigua, we debarked the bus and went to the cathedral and the Central Plaza before heading to the museum. The cobblestone streets and facades reminded me of mainland Spain architecture. It was amazing. Guatemalans are poor and it showed with the number of people who instantly started to follow us the whole time we were in Antigua trying to sell different things to us. When we said no, they would pop up at the next stop selling something else. I truly feel bad for these people but don’t they know this type of harassment will only cause visitors to view their country unfavorably? The tour included a typical Guatemalan lunch at a restaurant not too far from the Jade “museum.” The Jade museum was nothing more than a shopping stop that our guide left us at and then disappeared. He never told us a time to meet back up and this was just a money stop thrown on the tour. The lecture given was more about the quick differences in jade versus fake jade and to get us into their shop instead of teaching us anything. I was not pleased with how this tour ended. The tour guide at that point was flustered with a group of Asian people who were not following directions and messing up the tour for the rest of us. I could’ve ventured off on my own more if I knew the time we had to meet up. I was not happy with this tour or the guide for this. I wish I had written down the tour guides name to warn you for the future. How the second half of the tour went would have me not recommend it for you if you’re considering it. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: CAGNEY’S STEAKHOUSE It was a lovely dinner with great company. I had the shrimp cocktail and Tomahawk steak. The steak was HUGE and so was the bone sticking out of it! It was cooked to order and cooked correctly. The service was absolutely amazing here as the restaurant was fairly quiet. The hostess came over and Vesna, the Food and Beverage Director stopped by to see how dinner service was going. It was a great night and relaxing dinner service. After a long day of touring it was needed! STARDUST SHOWTIME: Comedy of Anthony Padilla I went to the 9PM show and walked in after it started. Comedians are rarely funny on cruise ships or at least for me. I gave this guy 15 minutes and was not impressed and got up and left. I don’t know if guests were just tired or had already left but the theater wasn’t as packed this night either. With a sea day the next day I tried to give the benefit of the doubt to Dazzle’s for some nightlife. It was ballroom night in there. Unfortunately, when that event ended it stayed stuck in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and again I went to bed. My bar bill was safe for another night. DAY 8 – SEA DAY Another sea day, another leisurely working breakfast followed by a work out and then lunch and some sun in the PM. The sea days I had developed a rhythm so it was good to keep it. The ship did offer an assortment of activities to keep one busy if you wanted to stay inside but I just did my own thing. Tonight’s dinner was in the Seven Seas Dining Room aft. The hostess and the maître d for the restaurant greeted us and sat us at a nice table after by the ship’s wake. It was a good dinner service. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Master Magician Greg Gleason I know it’s a long cruise but he was back for a new show. I decided to check out what was going on after the dinner service ended. The 9PM show had already started and I decided to check it out for a bit. Again, if you hadn’t seen his act before then you’d be surprised and amazed. When he started repeating things I had seen before, I took off. Tonight was the awesome 80’s Dance Party in Dazzles. I went and checked it out for a bit and then headed to bed. DAY 9 – PUNTA ARENAS, COSTA RICA I’d been to this port before on a Panama Canal cruise. Having done the tours already which interested me, I was in no rush to get off the ship here. I spent the morning eating leisurely in the restaurant and working. I got off the ship and decided to walk around. Punta Arenas really isn’t that developed besides the free wifi you can get at the end of the pier and from the vendors who have shacks setup going down the street pedaling different foods. There is a shopping area along the water for you to buy different souvenirs. I walked down to the lighthouse at the tip of the little peninsula where the ship docks. If you go out of the pier area and take a left and keep walking along the shore you’ll come to the lighthouse. There’s a beach club down there as well that looked clean and inviting and had some restaurants that looked much cleaner than the ones by the boat. I headed back to the ship to grab a quick bite to eat before going out to explore Punta Arenas to the right side of the pier. This side was not nearly as enjoyable of a walk. The bus station was down here and if I was more adventurous or had done some research I would’ve known that this station would have taken me into a much larger town for a cheap price. Some of the cruise guests opted to do this and reported they had a good time. STARDUST SHOWTIME: ROCK YOU TONIGHT After a leisurely dinner at the Seven Seas aft dining room with good company I checked out the second show (9PM) of Rock You Tonight. It was the Sun production cast’s second production show. I’d seen it before on the Norwegian Sky and it was just as good. The production cast on this ship installed just before Groove Cruise and so they are fresh into their contract with a lot of energy and pizzazz. It showed in how enjoyable the show was! Tonight was the Tropical Deck Party poolside. I decided to give it a shot and didn’t realize it was live vocals by the band Blue Notes. They played some crowd favorites.. It was a bit windy up there but the party was scarcely attended. I went and checked out Dazzle’s Disco and it was completely dead. When Blue Notes finished and took a break I went back to Dazzles and it was still dead. Off to bed I went! Bar bill still safe! DAY 10 – SEA DAY It was a bit cloudy today so I decided to go to the gym this morning like usual after using some wifi at breakfast and being leisurely. I guess some guests opted for a workout for the first time this cruise as the weather was not the greatest. The gym was fairly packed. This is when the number of broken cardio machines became noticeable. Two of the elliptical machines were not functioning and one treadmill was broken. CROSSING THE LINE: TRADITION AT SEA This was a cheeky take on earlier seafaring traditions when crossing the equator. Since it was my first time cross the equator I was dubbed a “pollywog.” Since the location changed due to the winds and the rain up on deck, I missed the pre-sign up for a toga but that was ok. After the pollywogs went and received their anointing by King Neptune (a finger of whipped cream placed on the forehead), I went up and was anointed as well. It was a cheeky ceremony but still fun nonetheless. The cruise staff had fun with it and it was the most attended event I had seen on the ship thus far (even with the night time entertainment on the ship in the theater)! Since the weather wasn’t the greatest, I had some lunch and ventured around the ship. The spa and photo gallery folks could clearly see my boredom and when they didn’t have customers, would converse with me. It was very nice of them do to that. I guess this cruise didn’t have a lot of people buying things in either area leaving the staff friendly and welcoming to talk to all guests! STARDUST SHOWTIME: Stephen Kane Stephen’s act was entirely using a piano. I wasn’t sure what to expect and basically it was a piano recital. He seemed to appease the older crowd in the Stardust theater so kudos to him for that. After about 30 minutes, I decided to leave and get ready for my specialty dinner reservation. SPECIALTY DINING: La Cucina Tonight I had dinner with an old friend from the Norwegian Jewel at La Cucina dining room. It was a nice evening with La Cucina favorites although I can’t honestly remembered what I ordered. The service from Santhil was great! Tonight I asked DJ Onyx to play some more current music. Finally there was some current music in the disco and a group of younger people came crawling out of the wood work and danced the night away. Ok, it was about 1.5 hours but it was the BEST night of the disco the whole cruise to this point!!! DAY 11 – SEA DAY Another leisurely sea day with another leisurely breakfast and some wifi and then off to the gym for a mini workout. After the workout I hung out behind the smoke stack in a wind shelter as it was insanely windy and most of the top deck was closed. I was there until 2PM when a deck hand came by and woke me up from a nap and told me I was not supposed to be there. It was a public area so I was confused by what he was telling me. I told him I was a guest and not crew and he told me that it didn’t matter that due to high winds the area was closed and to leave! I did leave but was dumbfounded by the whole thing as it was the ONLY place besides immediately around the pool that didn’t have wind. I didn’t want to be by the pool as the people down there were doing nothing but complaining the whole cruise about the pool deck being re-surfaced. There was a group of people camped out there everyday who seemed insanely miserable and just wanted to complain about everything. I tried to avoid them at all costs. I just went back to my cabin and chilled for the rest of the afternoon. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Amber Strings After dinner in the Seven Seas dining room, I went to check out the main performance of Amber Strings in the Stardust Theater. Most guests didn’t know they were covering for an entertainer who missed the ship due to flight issues. Amber Strings are a trio of ladies who perform classical favorites with two violins and a cello. They played a host of classical favorites with some introductions to them in between. If you like classical favorites then be sure to check these ladies out! Once their performance was over I strolled past Dazzles where Blue Notes was playing and kept going straight to bed. DAY 12 – SALAVERRY / TRUJILLO, PERU INDEPENDENT TOUR: Trujillo Del Peru Specialized Tours After researching this port, I found there were two things that were critical to see, the Moche Temples and the ruins at Chan Chan. Unfortunately, NCL did not have a tour which combined both of these highlights but this independent provider did. It was a full day tour and custom made on their website for the Sun’s time in port. For a US 30 deposit, they held a spot for you in a comfy air conditioned mini-bus. The tour left out of the port without needing to take any shuttle busses. The tour took us to the Temple of the Moon and past the Temple of the Sun for about 1.5 hours. After a quick tour we headed to downtown Trujillo and the main historic center of the city. We headed to Chan Chan afterward and were in Chan Chan for about 1.5 hours touring the main temple. This tour was on-the-go but I got to see so much and the tour guide was so amazing. You couldn’t beat the price for what was given for information and sites seen. I would definitely recommend this tour provider. SPECIALTY DINING: Moderno Churriscaria After watching two people run down the pier as the ship pulled away, it was time to get ready for a huge feast. The tour did not include lunch (didn’t have the time for it) so I was famished. I dined tonight in Moderno which is a salad bar plus endless amounts of meat delivered to your table. The female passadeur was very friendly and gladly accommodated one of my friend’s special requests about the meat being cooked to well done. Traditionally the meats are served from medium to medium well. All the meats tasted great. During the dinner service, the temperatures moderated a bit in the restaurant. It was a bit chilly when we first arrived. During dinner service Grace, the hostess came over and chatted a bit and then Vesna Campos came over when she came through the restaurant. At one point we were the only guests in the restaurant. It was a great dinner service and a long one. I was HUNGRY! Definitely go here when you’re starving! STARDUST SHOWTIME: What the World Needs Now This was the third production show from the Norwegian Sun production cast and orchestra. This was based on the hits of Burt Bucharach. Again this entertainment was geared to the 1960s time period so it largely sailed over my head. The mood of the show was so mellow and chill it did put me to sleep. Out of the four production shows this cruise, this one was my least favorite. Your perspective might be different given your age. The cast was amazing but the theme of the production was not lively enough for my tastes. No time for anything else tonight but bed! DAY 13 , DAY 14 and DAY 15 – MACCHU PICCHU OVERLAND TOUR A few days before hitting Peru we received an updated itinerary for the Macchu Picchu Tour. Apparently, the local train workers on Peru Rail and Inca Rail were going on strike on the full day we were supposed to be trekking to Macchu Picchu. In order to salvage the trip for guests, the tour operator re-arranged the tour making the first day the day to see Macchu Picchu. Otherwise, the tour would’ve been cancelled. If the tour was cancelled I would have been livid. This tour was the ONLY reason why I booked the cruise! After some initial confusion about baggage it was determined you were allowed one carry-on item and one backpack up to 11 pounds on the train to be brought on the plane. We had to pick up our passports which were collected at the gangway when boarding the ship in San Diego a day prior to arriving in Peru from the shore excursions desk. In them contained the Andean passage ticket and stamp for arrival into Peru. DAY 1 – In the morning I woke up super early and ate in the buffet before heading back to the cabin. The ship had arrived while I was eating breakfast but was no longer moving. Wasn’t sure why we were not proceeding to the dock. I went back to the cabin and finished cleaning up and headed to the theater for the 6:30A meet up time. The Captain was trying to get us in early so we could get off the ship and get to the airport right away. Problem was, the Peruvian navigation pilot didn’t come to the ship until after 6:30PM and so we were no where close to docking at 7AM. This started a snowball effect on the entire day’s travels. When we debarked the ship at 7:30AM we were already behind schedule and headed for the busses immediately as directed. As we were going to leave the port, the busses went to the wrong exit and we had to spend time to loop around and head for the correct exit. Being behind schedule, this didn’t help things. When we got out of the port, we hit the Callao and Lima morning commute traffic. We sat at one intersection with a cop directing traffic for 15 minutes. Traffic was everywhere and our arrival to the airport was one hour past the time the plane was supposed to take off. When we arrived to the airport it was a like a scene out of Home Alone! We dashed through the airport and headed for the plane gate. We had to clear security. We all arrived to the gate to find the plane was already loaded with other people flying to Cusco. They were wondering what the hold up was. When I boarded the plane, the oriental group was again lagging behind taking selfies and other non-sense. When they got on the plane they argued with someone over who was sitting in what seat as some people were split for the short flight. This only further delayed us! By the time the plane was finally loaded and everyone sat down, it took forever to get pushed back from the gate. Being late meant we lost our take off slot and when we finally did push back from the gate we spent 50 minutes sitting on the run way waiting for clearance to take off. When we did finally take off, the flight was fast. Upon arrival into Cusco we were hurried to the baggage area where we were told to go outside and get into 1 of 6 vans outside waiting for us and to head to the train station in Ollanta. I picked van number 5 as the people in it looked the most abled bodied. When we arrived into Cusco that’s when I realized there were people who had no business being on this tour. NCL should insist on people having medical clearance or notes from a doctor saying they’re capable of doing the tour. These people caused further delays with their sluggishness! We took off in the vans for the train station which was normally a 1 hour and 50 minute drive. Since we were going downhill and passing cars, we were making up for lost time. However, we were still past the original itineraries train departure time. Turns out we missed our assigned train. When we arrived to the Ollanta train station there was another two car special train heading for Aguas Calientes. Problem was since we missed our train, this train had other tourists on it. We had to board the train from a dirt road on the opposite side as we were already late. We received a box lunch before boarding the train to eat on the way to Aguas Calientes. Turns out since we were late but not the last van to arrive as one had pulled over en route (presumably for guests to use nature’s restroom as the vans didn’t have one), they ended up missing the train! In total there was not enough room on the train for three tour guides and six guests. We didn’t know this happened until half way through the train ride there when a conductor came through looking for the tour leader. My tour guide Fidel was left behind at Ollanta Train Station. When we arrived to Aguas Calientes we were herded towards the bus stop to board the bus up the hill to Macchu Picchu. We boarded the bus and cut a group of others waiting. They were not too happy about us doing so. When we get up to the entrance there was a bit of chaos trying to figure out how to divide what was 6 groups into 2. While this was going on, they were closing the entry gates to the ruins!! I tried to get the tour guides attention but they were trying to work it out. A couple of other guests and I went through the entry gates since we had the tickets. I wasn’t about to be shut out after this long day of commuting! I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to get back to Cusco but figured if it was this much a mess then they’d wait for me and get me back! Turns out they did get the tour groups into the ruins and when I got my own photos and walked around a bit I bumped into Maria’s group which was moving briskly with the tour. I followed her around and she described many things and moved as fast as she could given the group size. She did a remarkable job in the 1.5 hours we were there. Before I realized they were closing the ruins from the top down and clearing each level, I tried to run up to the top level to get some photos. It was already closed and they were yelling at me to come back down. I was a little bummed about this but still got some great photos. All in all we spent 1.5 hours in this magical wonder of the world. I was happy to have seen it. I would’ve been pissed if I didn’t make it! Was it ideal? Surely not. However, NCL did deliver on seeing the ruins. Most guests could not understand that and the amount of complaining that ensued was just crazy. We got back down to Aguas Calientes to catch a later train out with a boxed dinner to eat on the train provided by another catering company in town. There was a full moon overhead in the vista dome train cars so it lit up the valley we were traveling through quite nicely. We went along a river the whole way back to Ollanta Train Station. While we were on a siding mid-way waiting for another train to head to Aguas Calientes, a lot of guests were complaining about the wait as if NCL could do something about it. When the train finally did pass, it was loaded with police and riot gear. I guess this strike was serious business! After seeing that I was thankful we were going the other way. When we arrived to the train station there were even more cops with swat gear waiting around. We re-boarded the vans to head back to Cusco and since it was all uphill it really did take 1 hour and 50 minutes this time. By the time we arrived to the Hilton Garden Inn in Cusco, it was after 11PM. The carry on luggage was already placed in our assigned rooms and all we had to do was sign and get the room keys. I was exhausted but also dehydrated so I bought two bottled waters for 4 USD. Turns out this was highway robbery and I also didn’t realize I bought two with gas (carbonated). I was too tired to turn them in and went to bed. DAY 2 – Cusco Tour Even though the tour order changed, we were still given an early wake up call and had to be ready by 9AM to depart the hotel for the Cusco city tour. We left promptly and headed for the main square to visit the Koricancha and Cathedral. During this part of the tour we encountered striking teachers from the university in Cusco. Our tour guide actually recognized some of them and he stopped to talk with him. Today we had our tour guide Fidel back. After touring the Cathedral, we went to the Saqsayhuman Fortress in the hills over Cusco. Amazing Incan architecture again on this fortress built high above the city. After a nice tour of the ruins and seeing some more alpacas, we headed to lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant. All the food served were traditional Peruvian cuisine which was welcomed and refreshing given the boxed lunch and dinner the previous day were geared for Americans (ham and cheese sandwiches). After the lunch, we returned late to the Hilton Garden Inn and had some leisure time. I ventured back into the main square area with the NCL tour escort and another lady. Safety in numbers and we were fine! We went to the main square in search of souvenir shopping. We headed down to the end of the main road and found this huge shopping plaza with tons of vendors. Most of them had roughly the same items for sale. When you found something different, you immediately bought it. Here I bought an alpaca wool poncho thing for me and magnets and calendars for gifts back home. We took a cab back to the hotel as the sun was beginning to set. For 4 USD we had a ride back from the market to the hotel door. It was so incredibly cheap!! We had to be back at the hotel for 7PM for the hotel catered dinner. When we had dinner, it wasn’t overly Peruvian fare but more Americanized with three pieces of beef and possibly Peruvian gravy. When dinner was finished I went back to the room to relax and get some sleep. Problem was we had to be up at 4AM for breakfast and up in the lobby to transfer to the airport by 5:15AM! I didn’t sleep hardly at all with this on my mind. DAY 3 – Cusco to Arica, Chile I was up before the alarm clock and went and had the hotel breakfast on the go with some cereal. I was in the lobby on time and we left promptly for the airport. Given the early hour there was no one around on the streets and we watched the sunrise as we were heading to the airport. At the airport we said goodbye to our tour guides and went through security screening. The flight from Cusco to Arica boarded promptly on Peruvian Airlines. The main reason for this was it was a charter flight all to ourselves. We took off for the short 50 minute flight to Arica. When we landed in Arica, we taxied to the gate as another plane was leaving. We waited for about 30 minutes and then were told the jet way was not working and we had to back up and be brought to the only other gate they had at the airport. It was a small airport. We did taxi and then were allowed off the plane. The Chilean authorities, just two of them, were clearing our plane one a time in the terminal. This process took quite a while. I was one of the last to get on the final tour bus to take off in a convoy to the cruise port. During the bus ride back to the port, a local guide provided information about the city of Arica and the surrounding area. She provided a brief history lesson and pointed out things to us as we arrived into the city limits. When were arrived back to the ship it was 10AM Peru time but we didn’t realize the ship jumped ahead two hours while we were off. It was really noon and it was time to eat some lunch! Thank goodness! My hunger won out over taking a city tour in Arica. I stayed on the ship and just took a nap when I finished lunch. I woke up in time to see the ship off. Since we didn’t have a hotel dinner on day 1, NCL refunded the group $100 per person. This was in replacement for the first day’s train food. When we arrived back to the ship, the guests who were displeased with the whole thing went to the shore excursion manager and by the end of the cruise NCL corporate agreed to a $200 additional refund resulting in a total of $300 refunded. The tour cost was $2,099 for a solo. I wasn’t expecting any refund for us as NCL and the tour provider did get us to the ruins, even if it was not ideal. I was happy I got to see the ruins. It’s been on my bucket list forever! Not exactly sure I would return to spend more time there. I think NCL’s reimbursement was ok given the extreme circumstances facing the tour. Maybe I’m just more understanding than most? Tonight, I dined in the aft main dining room alone as I had to get caught up on three days worth of work. Using the wifi and hanging out in the corner I had some pasta as it was the third time in my time on the ship that dinner 4 menu was served. I had some pretty spicy pasta and was thankful for it as I was beginning to get sick with some sort of cold I picked up with all the sleep deprivation in Peru. STARDUST SHOWTIME: Magic Rush with Roman and Svetlana I stopped by the late show (9PM) to catch their performance. These entertainers are professional decorated dancers who chose to include magic in the form of costume changes into their show. The show was ok. The costume changes and layers of costumers you could clearly see from the angle in the balcony I was sitting at (nose bleed). The show flowed ok and was entertaining. I don’t know if I was just exhausted or just hyper aware with all the oxygen at ground level to see how they had arranged all the costumes on their bodies. It was Latin night in Dazzles so I headed to bed. DAY 16 – SEA DAY After a leisurely breakfast and getting some work done, I went for a workout. It was simply too cold outside to go out and sun. The workout took up most of the morning and then after a nice lunch, I relaxed back in the cabin on the balcony for a bit. Before dinner there was the Platinum Latitudes party in the Observation Lounge. There were lots of Platinum guests this cruise. We were left to mingle with the senior management on the ship for a bit before heading to dinner. SPECIALTY DINING: Cagney’s Steakhouse Tonight we celebrated one of my cruise friend’s birthdays at Cagney’s steakhouse. It was her choice of where to go and tonight for a change the steakhouse was packed with people! My dinner consisted of a wedge, the shrimp cocktail and the Tomahawk steak again. The steak was so tender and juicy and cooked to perfection. I loved it again! The wait staff came over and asked for our desserts and then my birthday surprise for my friend came out. She didn’t see it coming and big thank you to Vesna Campos for getting it arranged as a surprise for her without her even having a clue! Big props to the Cagney’s team this trip. Service from the hostess to the wait staff to the cooks behind the scene was just amazing. STARDUST SHOWTIME: World Beat This was the fourth and final production number on the Norwegian Sun. Save the best for last is usually how it works. This show was new to me and I LOVED every last minute of it. Music from around the world represented in costume, dance and vocals. The cast brought such energy for this last production, it was toe tapping and amazing. What a great way to end the cruise! The tributes to Africa and Orient were especially amazing. I wish I could’ve seen it twice! Well done cast! FEATURED PARTY: White Hot Party It’s easy to do because all you do is wear white. Thankfully DJ Onyx took Dazzles out of the stone age for music and finally to current beats. There was definitely some electronic dance music coursing through those speakers. FINALLY!! It was the best night in Dazzles since one night earlier in the cruise. By midnight the format had slowed and flipped to Latin and by 12:30A I was went back, showered and headed to bed. At least the night was energetic enough that I ordered two alcohol drinks. I have to say the new prices for Grey Goose and Sprite were quite sobering. If you’re going to charge per drink more than Boston you’d better give me a Boston pour of alcohol. This measured pour for $11.50 is for the birds. It used to be $8.76 a year and a half ago! DAY 17 – COQUIMBO, CHILE After a morning breakfast it was time to get off the ship and explore with the NCL shore excursion. NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Coquimbo and La Serena We had a young tour guide from the university named Joaquin who was telling us all about the two locations. His personal story seemed more fascinating than the history tour he was giving us. It seemed like this port call wasn’t really meant to be full of history. Coquimbo had suffered from a tsunami recently and so the coastline was rebuilding from that. The buildings are designed to withstand earthquakes but not tsunamis. We made a couple of stops along our journey including to a look out with seals and sculptures where the pirates used to be. From there we headed to a lighthouse for a photo op. The lighthouse was never functionally used. Odd we would be brought to something that was simply a decoration and a tagged (spray painted one) at that. We were supposed to stop at the Archaeological Museum but for whatever reason we were not allowed in. Not sure if the place was closed or not. Finding a useable bathroom at this point was hard to come by as the public toilets in the park were out of order. People split off from the group to go to the toilet and eventually we did find one. We were then dumped at La Recova market to shop for a short bit before reboarding the bus. We headed up the hill to La Serena university to get a panoramic view of the city and Coquimbo where the ship was docked. If it was clearer it would have been picturesque but it was cloudy and cool. Unseasonable according to the tour guide. I was on lucky tour number 13! The recurring 13 theme since the date we left for Macchu Picchu was uncanny! Overall, Joaquin was a good kid. He was trying to pay his way through university getting his business administration degree. He was really young and I was surprised NCL used someone so young for the excursion. He knew his history and was a fluent translator for others on the bus. I guess I just expected something more from NCL for this excursion. It was ok but not something I would recommend. I was sick with a cold at that point so I stayed in the back away from guests and got back on the ship and relaxed. I had a farewell dinner with some of the people I met throughout the voyage in the Seven Seas dining room. Service was leisurely and it was great company. Both of them were staying on to go around the Horn but I had to return home. 22 days on the Norwegian Sun was the longest I’d ever spent on any ship! Tonight I went to the photo gallery to look over the few photos I had taken. I ended up buying a stock photo of the ship in the Panama Canal and a copy of the ships itinerary – both stock photos! One of them had to be re-printed and some Photoshop done as it showed some serious rust along the water line for the Sun. The photo manager saw to it personally and it was ready for me in the morning before I debarked. I walked around the ship a bit and said goodbye to other familiar faces and headed to bed. DAY 18 – VALPRAISO / SANTIAGO, CHILE Since my flight was not until 10PM, I booked a post-cruise shore excursion to help pass the time. NCL SHORE EXCURSION and AIRPORT TRANSFER: Wines, Horses, and Santiago Overview with Transfer Another early morning and off the ship early as the tour disembark time was 7:30AM. Our luggage was brought to the airport for us and all we had to do was disembark. The terminal for the cruise passengers is not on top of where the ship docks but a bus ride away. The ship docks in a container port!! When we bussed to the terminal we had to clear immigration again and go through metal detectors. Karma was instant for a guy who cut me to get off the ship and then cut me again to get into the terminal building. He had two oranges in his pocket from the ship. This was not allowed and we were repeatedly warned. Since the ship had been in Chilean waters for two ports, the customs guy was not impressed and hauled the guy away to fine him! Rudeness of guests this voyage was irritating even during disembark! We traveled to Casablanca Valley and had a tour of the Michael Cole vineyard and had a wine sampling. After the sampling, we were given some free time to shop for the wines. While the wines were cheap, getting them to the USA was an expensive proposition. One lady bought a box of wines to bring home and was going to ship them from the airport!! After we finished at the vineyard we headed over to Estancia el Cuadro for a horse demonstration along with some traditional Chilean folk dancing. After the show we were brought to the wine museum and out to their vineyard to be shown the differences between the grape leaves that make all the different wines. Since it was early in the growing season, most of the grapes were not formed. It was the leaves that you could tell the difference by if you were paying close attention. Pretty neat! We had lunch at Estancia el Cuadro while having some typical Chilean music and folk dances peformed. It was interesting to see different instruments used and one local Chilean instrument which the tour guide explained to me. When she was showing it to me it fell apart into several pieces on the ground. I felt so bad. We got it all fixed up and off she went to a wedding which was being held on site. This place was absolutely stunning and was designed for weddings and functions. When lunch was over we headed to Santiago for a brief overview of the city. During the city tour we stopped at an artisanal village called El Pueblo de Los Dominicos. Full of handicraft items we were given some 25 minutes to shop here. Not nearly enough time to buy anything as the vendors closest to the entrance charged a lot more than if you went to the back. Shopping on this cruise was at a premium on most of the tours and this one was no different. We headed to the Sheraton hotel to dump off guests who booked a post-cruise hotel stay through the cruise line. We then headed for the airport arriving just before 5:30PM. It was a long day and I was thankful to be at the airport knowing the journey to get home was getting closer. The tour did the job of filling the day and keeping me busy. For the price paid, it was ok. SUMMARY This cruise was strictly for Macchu Picchu. I saw what I came on the cruise to accomplish and saw some pretty neat sites along the way. Would I recommend this cruise just for Macchu Picchu? Final answer would be NO. If you want to go and see the ruins, it’s best you do something longer and take into consideration any labor actions that may be happening. I know NCL gave it their best and I can’t fault them for the strike or the logistical mess that was only aggravated by a series of rude guests. The six guests who missed the train and later stayed behind to catch it on the day after we flew to Arica never got to see the ruins. I got off the cruise a happy person for having to experience this wonder of the world! In comparison to Groove Cruise, the cruise prior to this one, this one was very relaxing and sedate. Expect an average age that’s way higher than on NCL’s usual 7 day itineraries. I can’t fault the cruise line for constant catering to the predominant age group on the ship. I made the best of out if that I could and got plenty of sun in as well. The gym was a welcomed addition and something I don’t usually spend that much time in on a cruise. The staff and crew were simply amazing. Vesna Campos, Food and Beverage Director seemed to be everywhere in the afternoon and evening. She runs a tight operation and was always so kind and hospitable when I saw her. I remember her from the Pearl charters. She ran those very well! Such an amazing woman and she knows her stuff! Brian Walters, the Hotel Director who has been with NCL since before I was born (wow!!) was around and always said hello. Mihaela Mocan, the Restaurant Manager would always greet me when I entered the Seven Seas dining room by name and be a friendly face around the ship. I have to give a huge shout out to the photo staff as they would see me roaming the ship and talk with me when I was going through if they weren’t helping customers. They helped to keep me sane in night hours when I would hope for something lively in Dazzles to keep me from going to bed. While it never happened they were always so kind to me no matter at the gangway or in the photo gallery. The singles social hostess Jezibel was also very friendly and always beaming whenever I saw her. I think it was the end of her contract but she was giving all she had to keep the solos happy. Grace, the hostess from La Cucina and Moderno was always a welcoming sight no matter where ever on the ship I bumped into her. Carlos, the concierge who recognized me from the Jewel cruises I did back in 2009 and 2010, was a familiar face and so helpful during the cruise. Carlos saved me from having a complete anxiety attack over NCL’s changed policy about cashing travelers checks (they don’t do it anymore although it’s not published anywhere saying that). I also want to thank Kodi Oliver on the production cast for the warm welcome to the ship when I boarded for Groove Cruise 22 days prior. I would see him around the ship and he’d always say hello. He also hung out with a group of kids who were disabled which he wasn’t obligated to do. Big shout out to him for doing that. Kane on the production cast for being around and a smiling face to talk to when he would be strolling the ship or having lunch or chilling in the buffet. The cast on this ship was far more approachable than any other cast in recent memory. Last but not least Jun Serrano who was my cabin steward. He kept the place tidy and was always around to greet me and ask how my day was. In conclusion, the Sun is a humble ship. While she’s one of the older ships in the NCL fleet, she’s still in good working order. Prior complaints about sewage odors were unfounded as I took the aft stairwell constantly. The guest’s behavior on the ship I can’t fault NCL for but we went through the US election on the ship and besides a group of oriental people being constantly rude, some of the other guests after the election took license to being complete idiots. This cruise had its fill of odd characters. The crew never wavered though and I experienced excellent service no matter where I went! When I’m on NCL ships I feel at home. That’s why I’m leaving again on another NCL cruise one week after getting back from this one!! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Yes, the ingredients in this cruise vacation are a recipe for Awesomesauce! We're a middle aged couple from north/central Massachusetts. A little over a year ago I noticed the value of this unusual annual repo itinerary on ... Read More
Yes, the ingredients in this cruise vacation are a recipe for Awesomesauce! We're a middle aged couple from north/central Massachusetts. A little over a year ago I noticed the value of this unusual annual repo itinerary on this sailing & so we decided to book it for the following year. NCL made raving fans of us years ago with its great food, entertainment, & people. We're seasoned cruisers, but up 'til now we've sailed mostly to the Caribbean except for once thru the Panama canal and once to Bermuda. This cruise vacation involved a 6+ hour flight from Boston to San Diego, a 10+ hour flight from Santiago, Chile to New York, and a short flight from New York to Boston. We also spent 5 nights pre-cruise in 5th floor corner-room accommodations overlooking Broadway and 4th Ave. at The U.S. Grant in the historic and very walk-able Gaslamp District in San Diego. We absolutely loved San Diego...The charm & hospitality of the U.S. Grant (especially that shown to us by Kimber at the front desk.and Umberto & Corey in the Grant Grill) is world class and we loved our stay there...plenty of great food/nightlife in-house or just blocks away. The night we arrived we had late-night eats, drinks, & entertainment in the in-hotel Grant Grill Lounge followed by a much needed good night's sleep. On our first full day in San Diego after sleeping in, we dressed for an amazing 80 degree F. day, had amazing craft drinks at Cafe 21 on 5th Ave, lunched a few steps and an elevator ride away at Rooftop600 (poolside on the roof of the Andaz Hotel, on F Steet) including octopus & sea bass, spent our afternoon at Sea World, and freshened up at the U.S. Grant before enjoying stage-side table seating at the world famous Flamenco dinner show at Cafe Sevilla on 5th Ave. One the second full day my wife shopped at Horton Plaza Mall across the street from the Hotel while I shredded myself to bits at 24 Hour Fitness - Horton Plaza. In the afternoon we visited the San Diego Zoo. The evening kicked off at the Grant Grill in the hotel where we feel we were treated especially well (and I can't thank them enough for a wonderful fine dining experience). Then off to the Lyceum Theater (also just across the street from the hotel) for San Diego Repertory's emotionally moving production of "Disgraced", which I think will prove to be our favorite time spent in San Diego. So well written and acted ..and delivering a not-so-subtle timely message. We capped the evening with a late-night cappuccino and desserts at Bice on 4th Ave. On Day 3, we slept in again, lunched at Operacaffe on 4th Ave., visited museums at Balboa Park (San Diego Air & Space Museum, Botanical Building, and the S.D. Museum of Art), freshened up, then ate 1st & 2nd dinner courses at Allure on 4th Ave...& 3rd, 4th, 5th dinner courses at De'Medici on 5th Ave. We highly recommend the bananas foster for 2 prepared & flambéd table-side at De'Medici & suggest that it perhaps may be the best dessert in San Diego. The remainder of the evening (8 'til late) was enjoyed at "The Shout! House" (Dueling Piano Bar) on 4th Ave. where we sang all night (with the gathered Halloween crowd) between sips. Day 4 began in the gym (24 Hour Fitness - Horton Plaza,) in the AM, lunched at The Taco Stand in La Jolla (awesome cheap eats), visited the seals & sea lions all afternoon at the beach in La Jolla Cove. (For those who don't know, they're wild, but friendly for the most part...its not a zoo or themepark...its just where these cuties choose to hang out) We then headed up (literally) to George's at the Cove (overlooks the cove) for braised short ribs & blackberry mojitos on their rooftop terrace and to watch the sunset...a heavenly magical day. The next morning, our last in San Diego (for now) was a day to sleep in, get up & pack, shave, shower and get ready to Cruise to South America. We would have loved to visit the USS Midway Museum on Harbor Drive, but we simply ran out of time. Mid-morning we said goodbye to the U.S. Grant and cabbed over to the cruise ship pier where we said hello (& embarked) the Norwegian Sun, which would be our new home-away-from-home for the next 17 nights. Lets start with the crew, then the ship, food, entertainment, & ports of call. NCL pioneered "freestyle" cruising and has great food and entertainment at sea for its price-point but the greatest draw for us that keeps us coming back is its people. Working longer days than most Americans do, day in & day out, they somehow remain interesting to talk to, remember our names, and are always pleasant, courteous, polite, & deferential to their guests...even the most "difficult" impossible-to-please guests. I'm always super-motivated/inspired to treat my own customers better following every NCL cruise. Nevis kept our balcony cabin on deck 9 immaculate, well stocked with ice, ran our clothes down to the laundry at strange hours, and made sure our needs were instantly met. Shrinivas and Honorio stood apart from the crowd of pool-deck bar waiters by day (& sommeliers at dinnertime). They never failed to greet us, take time to chat with us, and always seemed to be close at hand & know when our glasses were in need of a refill. Andre, the executive sous-chef on-board always took time out to see how we were doing. No matter which restaurant we chose for dinner, he was always there at some point during the meal, making his rounds, and engaging with his guests...definitely a nice touch. He also dropped by our table to see that we were well fed at the breakfast & lunch buffets when we chose to eat there...seemingly able to be everywhere, all the time. The ship is smaller than most of the NCL ships we've sailed on, but has almost everything their larger ships do for entertainment & dining venues, albeit slightly smaller in scale. Still, they seem no more crowded since the number of guests and crew are proportionate to the size of the ship. I had my second ever massage (& first ever at sea) on the 2nd full sea day...Esperanza's talented fingers (& elbow) melted my worldly cares away. I didn't realize how "un-relaxed" I was before until during & after the massage...(Ahhhhhh) My wife played in the casino a few times and I heard no complaints, 'tho I never set foot in it this time around. The gym was well apportioned with free-weights & decent cardio and weight machines but lacked a simple tower station to do pull ups, dips, & leglifts. There was a seperate adjacent yoga/TRX room too. Bogden, the in-house personal trainer certainly looked like he knew what he was doing 'tho we didn't personally take advantage of his experience. Overall I was happy with the gym and spent a couple hours there every other morning. The pool deck was where we spend most sea day afternoons and it seemed more than adequate in size & scale for the number of people there. The stardust theater was smaller than on the bigger ships and wasn't set up to have aerialists dangling & bungeeiing above the seated attendees (like the newer ships). That said, the venue was able to comfortably accommodate several world class performances during this cruise and we took in the shows almost every night. There were several other seated venues, with bars/barstaff, 2 with dancefloors, to enjoy DJ, live musical & comic performances, trivia & "game-shows", lectures, movies, etc... There's also a whiskey bar, champagne bar, & sports bar, atrium bar, coffee bar...whatever your choice for liquid libation. The food...well nobody goes hungry on a cruise ship. We frequented the several specialty restaurants aboard....Le Bistro (french gourmet) 3 times, Cagney's Steakhouse (traditional steakhouse) twice, Moderno Churrascaria (Brazilian-style steakhouse) twice, La Cucina (Italian) 3 times, Teppanyaki once. We ate dinner twice in the main dining room and 4 nights at the buffet (mostly after port days). We alternated between the buffet and main dining rooms (depending on our whims & how things fell into place) for breakfast everyday and for lunch on sea days. The food and service was consistently exceptional everywhere. We have nothing but great things to say, & I'm a foodie and my wife's worked in mid to high end f&b hospitality her whole life. Everyone I spoke to raved about the entertainment aboard. We loved it all. The main-stage performances spanned several decades & genres of music & styles. In the stardust theater they had The Las Vegas Tenors on a couple different nights (excellent), a Divas (duo) show also out of Vegas, Jeri Sager (Broadway) excellent, a couple nights of Greg Gleason (Magician) really loved his first show with the up close card tricks, several full length live singing/dancing performances with "the Cast" of the Norwegian Sun (sexy broadwayesque variety), & there was a comedian, a piano showman, and a Russian female violinist/comedian, whose names I don't remember. One of our 2 favorite musical acts aboard were a group from Russia called Colibri, They could play anything from the old standards to modern day hits to Spanish songs...a beautiful female singer who sang in English & Spanish equally well, accompanied by an accomplished jazz drummer & keyboardist & a guitar player who sounded just like Carlos Santana (excellent). They improvised every song and made the their own playing sets on the pool deck, in the atrium, and in the observation lounge throughout the cruise. Our other favorite was a female string trio from Poland (violin, viola, cello) playing mostly (but not exclusively) classical music...They could also be found daily in the atrium and observation lounge, and had performances one night on the main-stage in the Stardust Theater...Loved them. There was also a pop/old-top-40ish group called Blue Notes that played mostly the pool deck and Dazzel's Lounge, and a guitar troubadour who played and sang (and people sang along at times) in the atrium and the whiskey bar. There was a piano player who played mostly in the whiskey bar, but we really didn't gel with his particular peculiar style and tended not to stick around there when he was on, 'tho he seemed to have his own following...to each their own, as they say. There were also countless dance classes, yoga classes, painting workshops, game-shows, art raffles, trivia contests, ballroom dancing, and DJ events throughout the cruise running concurrently in the many venues. One small disappointment was the White Hot Party that we had looked forward to. The DJ really catered to the Spanish speaking crowd and most of the club music played at the party was in Spanish and were songs we didn't know. There was a spattering of songs in English, but it was mostly at the beginning and there was less and less as the night went on. It was very noticeable how the non Spanish-speaking crowd cleared out early on. I have nothing against the Latin culture...just think that we personally would have enjoyed NCL's signature party more if more songs we knew (and lyrics we could understand) had been included in the mix. A few things that that I thought the Cruise director's staff did especially well as far as entertainment goes was the Q & A with the Captain, Chief Engineer, & Hotel Director, & their ballroom dancing activities (we are not ballroom dancers ourselves). They had one event that was just ballroom dancing in Dazzle's lounge where some of the Cruise Director's staff kept pulling people out onto the floor...and on another night they had a hilarious mock "DWTS"-type show. Lastly, there's Ports of Call still to discuss. One of the great strengths of this sailing's itinerary for us was that it was so different from previous cruises we've been on. There were a lots of new places to explore/experience that we had never visited before. We've already discussed San Diego, the port of embarkation. After that...: Hualtulco: it was a fine day, a mighty fine day. ..had to be in the 90s...water temperature too...the ocean was like bath water...we chartered a little boat with some friends we made on the ship, another couple, living in San Diego, but originally from Mexico...They're fluent in Spanish & they made sure we were not treated like gringos. Our boat tour brought us around some of the 9 picturesque bays of Huatulco (not sure how many...wasn't really counting..) and then to a beach with great sand where we started at a restaurant's shaded tables before they set up chairs & an umbrella for us on the beach, served us guacamole and let us drink all the bottled boat drinks we bought at the package/variety store earlier. Rolando, our "seaboat captain" had provided the cooler & ice for those drinks. After several hours on the beautiful beach, Rolando came back for us & we hopped back aboard his boat to return to the ship. Puerto Chiapas: another gorgeous day in the 90's. Everyone else aboard ship was heading into town (Tapachula, a bustling traffic ridden city about 40 minutes away) or to the nearby Mayan ruins (which aren't known to be too amazing, as Mayan ruins go)...We grabbed a 15 dollar taxi to Playa Linda, the beach (planned months ago). There was this little restaurant/bar on the beach (the kind with a thatched roof & no walls). The proprietor filled his cooler for us with cervezas & ice (for 7 bucks) and he had the teenage waiter deliver it to a shaded picnic table across the very long beach. we kicked back, put on some tunes, had a few beers and walked the beach. At first, we were the only ones here ...CRAZY!! ...a mucho caliente day, and a huge, empty, beautiful beach (except for a few piles of trash heaped here & there from the weekend (apparently, trash cans have not been invented yet...no trash near the water 'tho). We spent several hours here, and each hour that went by, another couple would show up (none from the cruise ship that we were aware of). I asked one couple where everyone else was on a day like today (as I knew from my research that this is the only beach around) & they told me that it is a workday and people come mostly on the weekends...Hmm??. When the afternoon was drawing to an end, we headed back to the restaurant/bar to drop off their cooler & bottle opener, sat down, had another few cervezas each (5 more dollars), they pulled out this big speaker, hooked it up, & put on some music (in Spanish) for us...And when we were going to hail a taxi, the proprietor of the restaurant offered us a ride back to the ship in his nice Nissan (for free...12 kilometers...I'm as baffeled by that as as you are)...He didn't speak a word of English, and we, not more than a word or two of Spanish, yet he and we managed to carry on a conversation all the way back into port. I handed him a ten-spot when we got back (despite his polite protest) and he seemed rather grateful. Very nice people there. Lots of love to them. We took the road less traveled, & it made all the difference. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala: our 3rd port of call (of 8, not including San Diego). We took a tour bus (our only shore excursion arranged through the ship) to Auto Safari Chapin, and throughout the 1.25 hour ride each way, were were educated about Guatemala, its history, culture, customs, population, volcanoes, agriculture, languages & dialects, imports, exports, religions, indigenous people, & lifestyles. Our guide was an excellent teacher & very passionate about her work & her country. We spent a few hours at the drive-thru safari, with lions, giraffes, monkeys, emus, ostriches, & many other colorful characters walking right up to the vehicle to check us out...At the end was an hour for us to go off and explore the walk-through parts on our own or to grab a bite in their restaurant. However, we had different plans (becoming a pattern lately). We (quietly) asked our guide to hook us up with someone at the safari (who works there) to tell them that I'm an American with money to spend, and my wife would like to feed the giraffes. Less than 5 minutes & ten dollars later, the two of us and a zookeeper were in a vehicle headed back to "Africa", yummy big leafy branches for the giraffes in hand. We spent our last hour socializing with & feeding these tall beauties in an intimate setting. My wife is all about giraffes...so, needless to say, this was another great day. Puntarenas, Costa Rica: We hopped off the ship and hopped into a taxi 10+ kilometers to the all inclusive Double Tree Puntarenas Resort for the day (breakfast, lunch, pools, games, beach, & all the frozen (& non-frozen) drinks one can imagine...Scorcher of a day...had to be well into the 90s...another beauty...Hadn't yet seen a drop of rain this vacation except for the afternoon of the day we went to the zoo in San Diego. Trujillo, Peru: We negotiated a taxi fare for the day & spent most of our time in port at the pre-Mayan Moche Temples: Huaca del Sol & Huaca de La Luna & the pre-Inca Chimu ciudadelas of Chan Chan (UNESCO Heritage Site), stopping briefly at the colonial center of Trujillo for some photos and a break between dig sites, Lima: We spent the day in the Miraflores District of Lima walking along the Malecon De Miraflores (miles of beautified "boardwalk" along the cliffs overlooking the beaches & ocean) in the "nice" part of Lima. We started with a cab ride to Cafe Haiti where we had cappuccinos & pastries and then checked out Parque Central & Parque Kennedy where all the protected & publicly fed homeless cats live. We then walked to the Larcomar Mall built into the cliffs along the Malecon where we lunched and sipped Pisco Sours, the national drink, al fresco at Tanta with a beautiful cliff-side ocean view. We promenaded along the beautiful gardened Malecon for several miles before stopping at Amorelado for gelato & cappachino before cabbing back to the port. Arica, Chile: Another awesome beach day at Playa Laucho, a 2 minute cab ride from the ship. Nice beach with a restaurant/bar with music and service out on the beach ...We imbibed berry/passionfruit mojitos & soaked up the sun spending every available minute on the beach not knowing if the weather further south (on the port days to come) would be "beachy" or not. Coquimbo Chile: The morning and early afternoon was overcast but the sun was supposed to come out. We grabbed a cab to the beach where we walked for miles...stopped, had a Coke & a smile...walked back along the beach for miles...stopped & had good eats & drinks at a local beach restaurant...the sun finally showed itself and burned away the haze, but we had to start heading back to the ship. On our way, we said hello to some wild sea lions that were sunning themselves beside the sidewalk as people just walked by them. We hopped back aboard the ship, freshened up, had more food & Vino at Le Bistro, checked out the Russian violinist/comedian's show in the Stardust Theater, watched the last sunset we'd see this cruise from our balcony, packed our bags, & got some sleep. Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, & Santiago, Chile: We disembarked the Ship at 7:45 AM on the last day and met up with our guide who we had pre-arranged a tour with through Tours by Locals. We chose him based on his ratings and reviews. His name is Leoncio Carrasco and we recommend him. He was knowledgeable, personable, interesting, bilingual, had a large beautiful vehicle, & cared for our safety and the safety of our belongings and luggage. We toured Valparaiso in the morning, partly by vehicle, mostly on foot (with Leon guiding us)...We stopped in an artsy cafe for coffee & tea, walked the beautiful mural walled hills, rode a funicular to the top of one of the hills, shopped at some street vendors and other shops, and the we hopped back in the SUV to visit the seals, sea lions, sea wolves, and pellicans who hang out in mass at the fish market on the ocean...From there we kept the reservations Leon made for us & lunched on the terrace of a very reasonably priced restaurant with excellent food & drinks and a view overlooking the hills of Valparaiso and the ocean. We then proceeded to Vina Del Mar, the high end ocean resort city/town where we visited a Moai from Easter Island, a living working clock made of flowers, and the beach...by noon the sun came out in force and it had turned into a warm beautiful day. We hung out at a beach restaurant and sipped drinks for a while, practicing out terrible Spanish, and cherished the sun knowing how cold Massachusetts would be the following day when we arrived back home. Leon then showed us a smidge of the mountains and vineyards on our way from Vina del Mar to the airport in Santiago, stopping for coffee, tea, & pastries at an excellent countryside cafe on the way. He dropped us off at the airport around 7:30/8:00 or so where we went through security and headed to the VIP lounge to await our 11 PM 10+ hour flight. Another great day....a great last day. If you can't tell, we loved our vacation. We recommend to all: our pre-cruise hotel the U.S. Grant in San Diego, NCL Cruiseline, this particular repositioning itinerary aboard the Norwegian Sun, our chosen "shore excursions"/in-port activities, and our guide in Valparaiso. Thank you for reading...Cheers! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
I’m a 34 year old male who traveled solo on the Norwegian Sun for the full-ship charter called the Groove Cruise. The charter was from October 28 to November 2, 2016. This was my 36th cruise and 23rd time with Norwegian. I had been on ... Read More
I’m a 34 year old male who traveled solo on the Norwegian Sun for the full-ship charter called the Groove Cruise. The charter was from October 28 to November 2, 2016. This was my 36th cruise and 23rd time with Norwegian. I had been on the Norwegian Sun previously in 2008. I’ve tried out other cruise lines including Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. What follows is a review of the cruise and some mentions of entertainment as they were experienced. Embarkation: San Diego The embarkation was better compared to this past Miami Groove Cruise on Norwegian Pearl. There was a miscommunication between the port security, port check in vendor and the NCL corporate security team about NCL’s wine and champagne policy at the beginning. SMS who does their port side operations worked with the other two to get this problem straightened out and a table was setup to pay the corkage fee. NCL was trying not to honor their wine and champagne carry-on policy clearly stated on their website. No information saying this wouldn’t be allowed on charters was ever provided to guests. NCL also on this sailing would not honor the soda package which they did offer on the Norwegian Pearl in January because “it was a charter.” Not sure what NCL’s corporate policy changes at the last minute were trying to accomplish but at the beginning of embark it caused some tense moments in the embark terminal. Once the wine and champagne was worked out, the rest of the embarkation was smooth and efficient. Day 1: San Diego Touring the Ship: The Norwegian Sun is an older ship in the Norwegian fleet. She had just been in a shortened technical dry dock earlier this year so her carpeting was refreshed and overall she looked amazing. The Sun staff do a remarkable job keeping her looking fresh. Given that it was a music charter, the crew had to remove chairs from venues to make room for dancing. Dazzles tables and chairs were emptied out and so were the chairs on the main floor in the theater. The remaining chairs in the theater were covered with plastic sheeting to protect them from any spills. The observation lounge was transformed into a chill lounge with a large blow up igloo. It fit nicely into the lounge and made for some great late night relaxing moments. The pool deck was transformed into a dance venue with production equipment featuring LED walls, sound and lighting. The Great Outdoors venue was cleared of tables and chairs mostly to allow for dancing as the sunset sessions and after hours stages were located here. Stateroom: Oceanview 7007: The ocean view cabin was in great shape. Everything functioned as it should. The cabin steward did a great job of keeping it tidy. A bar of soap was provided in the bathroom besides the normal body wash and shampoo dispenser located in the shower. Due to the previous cruise taking longer to disembark, it put getting the pool stage setup behind schedule. Once it was setup music for the day could be found from Dannic, Thomas Newson and Bamboora. By night the ship transformed itself into a wonderland of glow and glitter as the night’s theme was Shine! This theme is always amazingly creative but always makes me feel bad for the crew as glitter is everywhere! Tonight’s main entertainment featured the sounds of Solidisco, Feenixpawl, EDX and Dancetronauts in the main theater. Other venues on the ship going at night included the casino and the silent disco in Las Ramblas. Day 2: SEA DAY Sleep is hard to come by on Groove Cruise. If you’re getting too much sleep then you’re not doing it right. After about 4 hours of sleep it was time to start day 2 of GC and head to the on-going after hours located at the Great Outdoors with sounds from Pirupa, Mendo and Jaime Narvaez. A standard breakfast buffet was served in the buffet. The main pool stage started up around 11AM with the sounds of Kristina Sky. The day would continue under the sun with the sounds of Kryder and Tom Starr back to back along with Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano. The fun really started when the sunset with live beats from Goldfish who played saxophone right on the pool deck with the beats. This set was amazing! EDX and Antonio Giacca wrapped up the pool deck stage. At 3PM, a giant Twister game was in the sports court. It had a lot of attendees and was a ton of fun. Since it overlooked the pool stage in the basketball court, you were not out of ear shot or visual site of all the action going on poolside. Day time theme was Baby Blue & Pink Party (wear blue or pink). Once the sun had set it was time for the theater to get going along with Dazzles Disco and the Silent Disco in Las Ramblas. Tonight’s entertainment featured the sounds of Bamboora, Thomas Newson, Dannic, Paris and Simo, Monoky, Lujan, Doc Brown & many more supporting artists. The theater was the hopping venue for the night until it closed about 5AM. Tonight’s night theme was dress up like your favorite Celebrity. Many unofficial themes would be had this night. I dressed up as a Minion because they’re a celebrity too! Day 3: CABO SAN LUCAS – DAY 1 After grabbing about four hours of sleep, I rejoined the last couple of hours at the Great Outdoors where the Abyss by Incorrect had moved to. During the early morning hours until Noon featured the music of Anthony Attalla and Cocodrills. Since our arrival was scheduled for Noon into Cabo, there was a few hours of music provided poolside by DMorse and Doc Brown. Doc Brown continued to play pool side until 3PM – well beyond our arrival into Cabo. The party then moved off the ship to ME Cabo. This beach resort hotel had an expansive pool space. Extra equipment was brought in to make it a party for Groove Cruise and it went from 1PM until Midnight with the sounds of Scotty Boy, Croatia Squad, Jonas Blue, Robin Schulz, Denney, Sian and DUBFIRE who was the lead for the night party. The all day theme was Groove Cruise 3000 but it turned more into a pool party day and night. After midnight the party moved to Breathless Cabo which was closer to the tender pier. The night kicked off with the sounds of Lavelle Dupree and continued with Shaun Frank, Dean Mason and featured artist Lost Kings. Between the two venues, I liked the layout of Breathless Cabo more. Less guests went to the Breathless party as there was also an after hours going on the ship. Abyss by Incorrect this night featured the sounds of Toolroom artists Weiss, Mark Knight, Prok and Fitch and closed out with Sydney Blu. DAY 4: CABO The party moved back to the ship around 4AM but I returned about 2AM. When I woke up, Prok and Fitch was still playing at the Great Outdoors. The pool deck stage got going around 11AM and stayed active until the ship weighed anchor and headed back for San Diego. The biggest entertainer of the afternoon was Fedde LeGrand. Since it was Halloween Day, it was Halloween costumes both day and night for the themes. Tonight was the best night of the cruise in my opinion. Trance all night in the Stardust Theater from Adam Scott, Kristina Sky, Orjan Nilsen, Gareth Emery and Super 8 & Tab. It was an amazing night in the theater with friends both old and new on Groove Cruise. Gareth Emery’s set was everything in the world that night. Loved every last minute of it. Orjan Nilsen through down a mean set as well. Kristina Sky is an up and coming artist from the West Coast and her sets are just amazing. It’s my third time experiencing her style on Groove Cruise. DAY 5: SEA DAY Technically the day began a midnight when I was still in the theater until about 4AM. The day began with the Devils and Angels daytime theme only Mother Nature was not cooperating as it was cold, windy and not so sunny. After hours was again on the back deck at the Great Outdoors as it was the most sheltered from the wind. The wind would mess up the main pool stage as well and cause removal of the LED walls. The wind didn’t stop us! Klingande’s playground was on the chilly pool deck all afternoon and while the theme may have been devils and angels, people resorted to onesies to keep warm but still dance. Afternoon beats included sets from Solidisco, Moon Boots, Klingande, SNBRN, Shaun Frank and Stanton Warriors. After a lovely dinner in the mid-ship Four Seasons main dining room, it was time to grab some serious sleep! Sleep is hard to come by on Groove Cruise and you must get some sleep before disembark day. I slept until 2:30AM and got up to catch the last of Audien’s set in the theater before heading upstairs to the Great Outdoors for the closing classics party with Chocolate Puma, DJ Dan and lastly DSK CHK as we were tying up the ropes to the pier in San Diego. DAY 6: DISEMBARK Foreign guests were required to go to the Observation Lounge between 6A and 8A to present themselves to customs. Some guests were not paying attention and this caused delays for everyone else trying to get off the boat. Since the music had stopped, some guests had gone back to their cabin and fell asleep. Disembarkation took much longer than anticipated running well after 11AM. When I did finally get off the ship and clear customs, the lines had abated. NCL did the best they could with disembark given how sleep deprived the guests were. SUMMARY Overall this review was more about the Groove Cruise experience instead of an actual review of the Norwegian Sun. Groove Cruise has many ways to save including the usage of codes like GCVIRGIN which help both new and returning guests. The crew on the Sun were happy to see us and had a blast right alongside us. Service was amazing the whole trip from the dining room to bar staff to guest services. While the food served in the Four Seasons main dining room was a bit salty sometimes, the new fleet menu had various tasty selections. Crew members who were not generally working because the cruise ship did not need production cast, other entertainers and youth counselors were out and about and being helpful for a few hours a day. You would see them with us having a great time too! Minus the Norwegian Cruise Line corporate office trying to change the wine and champagne policy for charters and changing the policy about the soda package on charters, Groove Cruise Cabo was a great success! In case you did not know the Groove Cruise sails twice a year, West Coast in October and Miami in January! Looking forward to the next Groove Cruise! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
This cruise was HORRIBLE. Friday we get an email saying no stop over in Mazatlán. We purchased a cruise for 7day, 3 port adventure. We only stopped in 1 port and was held over night due to maintaince that needed to be done. Of course on ... Read More
This cruise was HORRIBLE. Friday we get an email saying no stop over in Mazatlán. We purchased a cruise for 7day, 3 port adventure. We only stopped in 1 port and was held over night due to maintaince that needed to be done. Of course on our time. which should have been done when no passengers were on board. Carpeting being done in the stairways, dangerous to all. SMELL was aweful through out , I guess due to plumbing. They knew this before we left California, unreal. We were taking friends for their first cruise. They upgraded their cabin, toilet stopped working for 3 days, They paid a lot of money to upgrade! Captain anounces that we will not be stopping in next port. Due to maintance issues taking so long. People were very upset, we even signed a petition! Totally unacceptable on NCL, we want a refund!!! Food was cold and flavorless, $5.00 for a bottle of water? REALLY???? Chinese resturant was food out of a box. NASTY! Only good food was the BBQ in the pool area, but couldn't find a seat. Service was sad, bartender in Java bar told me to go get a Pina Colada at another bar, he was out. We had to go to the bar to get drinks. Small wait staff? Entertainment, comedian was good. Otherwise same thing every night. Couldn't go on a shore excursion, couldn't get to shore. Never again! We were celebrating our 32 anniversary, Read Less
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