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65 Norwegian (NCL) San Diego Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
Sail Date October 2018
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
Sail Date November 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
Sail Date October 2016
Norwegian Sun Cruise 9/30 to 10/14/16 Panama Canal Easiest transfer from San Diego airport to cruise port. My flight arrived on time, I had purchased transfers through NCL. Retrieved luggage and immediately an NCL representative ... Read More
Norwegian Sun Cruise 9/30 to 10/14/16 Panama Canal Easiest transfer from San Diego airport to cruise port. My flight arrived on time, I had purchased transfers through NCL. Retrieved luggage and immediately an NCL representative asked if I was cruising with them, yes I am, and I am on a bus to the port. At the port our luggage was left on the bus to be driven to a location to be placed on the ship, didn’t have to touch it. I asked NCL for wheelchair assistance, I can’t walk up the gangway, unfortunately I was told an hour to 90 minute wait for a chair. I walked up to check-in, told them I had been preapproved for a chair and they immediately got one for me. I was checked in within 5 minutes. As I was leaving to board the ship, Carlos Zarate, Concierge, met me and said that he was at my service for the entire cruise and he would speak to me onboard. I was brought to the Atrium and sat with some wonderful Canadians while NCL finished getting the cabin ready. At 1:30 p.m. my cabin was ready and I went to check it out and unpack my carryon luggage. Within 30 minutes my other luggage arrived, I unpacked it. During that time a cheese and cracker plate was delivered to my cabin, which was wonderful, I didn’t have to go looking for food. I left my cabin to talk to Guest Services because my card didn’t have the Unlimited Soda Package on it. Guest Services said they did not see where I paid for it online, even though I had a copy of all paperwork with me and showed it to them. To make sure I asked if it showed I had paid for 4 specialty meals and five shore excursions. The shore excursions were paid for but again couldn’t find where I paid online for the specialty dining, again, I had copies of all the paperwork. Guest Services said they would make copies of my paperwork, scan it and send it to Miami corporate office to make sure I had paid for these items. I was told I could still get soda, juice and water but would be charged for them until this was settled. I explained that NCL charges a surcharge on all purchases and I was afraid it would be a nightmare to get all of this off of my bill. I was told there was no other way to do this. Guest Services said it would probably be the next day before they heard for corporate. I went to the life boat drill, easiest one I have ever done, it was in Dazzles Lounge, in and out in 10 minutes. Went back to my room and there was a message from Guest Services to please come to the desk. Waited about 10 minutes in line but they had an answer, they found I had paid for everything and gave me a new card with my dining and beverage stamp. I ate at Four Seasons and Seven Seas Main Dining Rooms (MDR). Seven Seas is a more dressed up MDR. If men show up in shorts they are turned away and told to come back when they change, but women can wear shorts, didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Both were good some nights, not so good other nights. Chicken Parmigiana was heavenly, Prime Rib excellent, Cheeseburger and Fries, great. Most food arrived hot and tasty, but a few things arrived cold. I ordered a hot chocolate that was cold when it arrived and had been made with mostly water and no chocolate. I ate 3 of my specialty meals at Cagney’s. I love Cagney’s on any NCL ship. Their steaks melt in your mouth, the White Truffle Parmigiana Cheese Fries were to die for and so was the Caesar Salad. My other specialty was in La Cucina, it was wonderful, I had breakfast there every morning, because of the Concierge and it was wonderful. Entertainment was mediocre. The Sun dancers and singers were good, so those shows were alright. One night they had a man who called himself El Gaucho, a comedian and singer, terrible, Motown Review and Frank Valle Review were fantastic. Hypnotist JayDee was absolutely horrible, passengers were getting up and leaving all throughout his show. I didn’t like that he announced he was a motivational speaker and had three seminars set up onboard to help passengers stop smoking, lose weight or feel better about themselves. I don’t care, either you do your show or do motivational speaking, not both. There was the usual bingo, karaoke, White Hot Party, Sexy Legs Contest, etc. I didn’t attend most of these. I know most people don't go on a cruise to read, but the Sun had the best book stocked library I have seen on a cruise ship. I actually read 8 novels while onboard. Bars/Showrooms, the StarDust Theater was so cold that after two days I caught a cold from sitting there for an hour to watch a show. Dazzles was freezing too. Most other bars were fantastic, speedy service, good drinks and snacks. The Sun had a Crew Talent Contest on the last sea day that was hilarious. In the Atrium on the last night, all of the officers and department heads had a singalong. Only the Sun does this, it took about an hour and after that there was a balloon drop and champagne, it was the most fun I had onboard the ship. The Sun also has a Meet the Ship's Officers, two different days, so you can learn about the ship and ask any and all questions, it was informative and interesting. The Sun also had a Sun Fair, each department, housekeeping, dining, environmental, CruiseNext, Guest Services, Spa, etc. was represented and it was very interesting. Shore Excursions were handled differently than any ship I have been on. If you had a ship excursion, you were given your ticket and told to meet in the StarDust at a certain. When you excursion was called you were brought down either stairs or elevator to the disembarkation point and went ahead of other passengers waiting in line that didn’t have ship excursions. It was the best managed port disembarkation I have ever done. Compliments to whomever came up with this idea. Miami disembarkation was a mess. I had Priority luggage tags, but was told since I had purchased a transfer from NCL I needed to use my Red luggage tags. When I was taken off the ship, Priority luggage was right there, Red luggage was being held up for another hour. I couldn’t use the transfers I purchased because I would have missed my flight so I had to take a taxi to the airport at an additional $32. I am asking NCL for a refund of that money, since I was advised incorrectly. In summary, this was an amazing cruise. The crew helped make it that way, 99% of them were personable and very helpful. My cabin was wonderful, the venues were very easy to walk to and to find when first boarding. Small problems that were cleared up immediately without a problem. Out of 5 stars I would give this cruise a 4 1/2 stars. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I went to San Diego on Thursday, one day before departure. Wyndham San Diego Bayside provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, which is directly across the street from the departure port. The hotel was very nice, the area ... Read More
I went to San Diego on Thursday, one day before departure. Wyndham San Diego Bayside provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, which is directly across the street from the departure port. The hotel was very nice, the area seemed completely safe, and walking around the port area was interesting. Had I understood how beautiful San Diego is, I would have gone a day or two earlier. I'm pretty sure this was my 38th cruise overall, with probably half of those on NCL. I walked over to the ship at about 11 a.m. on departure day and was onboard around 11:30. Lunch was available in the main dining room at 12:00. My bag was delivered before 2 p.m. The ship: was absolutely beautiful. She has been carefully maintained. All the public areas were in tip-top shape. It is very easy to get around on the ship, and the elevators were never crowded. There's a good walking deck, and the gym was fine. Dining: I never had to wait for a table. The food and presentation were excellent and the hostesses and waiters were all fantastic. The passion fruit souffle was my favorite dessert. Scallops for lunch were wonderful. La Cucina is my favorite alternate dining spot, and it did not disappoint. Le Bistro was also a good choice, as was Teppanyaki. I was invited to share the Officer's Table one evening, and this was the only meal where I didn't get exactly what I ordered. I ordered steak, the gentleman next to me ordered steak and lobster tail. When they delivered his entree to me, I just dug right in without realizing what had happened. A little embarrassing, to say the least. Crew: Wow! This is a warm, friendly, energetic and seemingly very happy crew. They were unfailingly polite and helpful. I did notice quite a few people from China. It seems they are "in training" to go on the Joy when she launches. I was especially fond of "Ping, like in ping-pong" in the Atrium Cafe. I taught her to play 'rock, paper, scissors' and we had fun. Entertainment: I think NCL has the best entertainment at sea. The production shows were excellent, and the individual groups and performers were always entertaining. Additionally, the entertainment in the smaller venues was fabulous: Henry Hood on guitar and vocals, Amber Strings for classical afternoons, Inovation for dancing. As an aside, I went to the Atrium one evening around 9 p.m. and the guitarist for Inovation was standing there with his guitar on is back waiting for coffee. He had a big grin on his face, and I asked him why. Turns out the lady who was walking away had just asked him if that thing on his back was a surfboard! One of my favorite things is the crew talent show and this one was a real winner. Cruise Director's Staff: Very good at their jobs. Our trivia competitions were always fun. The only problem was that sometimes there were not enough seats. Cabin: Inside on Deck 5, and I didn't know what to expect. It was one of my favorite cabins ever. It was quite large for an inside, and even had a small sofa. It was only a few steps out to the Atrium for coffee or cocktails. The elevators were handy, and it was never noisy. Gerardo was a very good cabin steward. Ports: All pale in comparison to the transit of the Panama Canal. We stopped in Cabo, Acapulco, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Cartagena, Columbia. I truly loved Costa Rica and Cartagena. The Costa Rican people were very warm and friendly and the country is beautiful. Cartagena's old city is a great walk and the port area had a bird sanctuary. I was invited by new friends to enjoy the transit from a "romance Suite" on deck 8, all the way forward. We sat out there from about 7 am to 4 pm just watching in awe. I had expected the canal to be fascinating, and everybody I spoke to about it assured me that it would be. What was unexpected was the sheer beauty of the lakes and the lush greenery. Or maybe it was the Prosecco. Anyway, it was a bucket list item that exceeded expectations. Overall: Great cruise. Met some wonderful folks from all over the place. Canadians Ray and Barbara, Jane and Gord, and Jim, fellow Texans Babs and Bill, good people from Illinois Craig and Julie. And of course the group from Austin, "I'm with Cindy". Not to mention Steve and Sandy from North Dakota and Arizona, Pat from Toronto and Noel and Helen from the Philippines. The list is too long. Great entertainment, excellent food, tremendous itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I was traveling with my 81 year old mom who has limited mobility. We wanted a cruise with interesting ports we haven't seen before. We both enjoyed the cruise immensely. It was a great blend of interesting places and relaxing sea ... Read More
I was traveling with my 81 year old mom who has limited mobility. We wanted a cruise with interesting ports we haven't seen before. We both enjoyed the cruise immensely. It was a great blend of interesting places and relaxing sea days. This was our fourth cruise, and it was the first time I did not have a list of complaints afterwards. Service was excellent everywhere. Food--We were very impressed with the food on this cruise. We dined at one of the two main dining rooms most every night, and had many excellent meals, and none that were bad. We had delicious ribeye steaks twice at Cagneys. We enjoyed Moderno the churrascuro restaurant but felt that one trip there was plenty. We would have liked it more if there were some dipping sauces for the meat. It got a little boring. We also enjoyed La Cucina. We have learned to avoid the buffets on cruises except for a light snack. The few lunches we had from the buffet were just OK. Embarkation--long lines but smooth. They did not have a good set up for handicapped passengers and it was hard for my mom to stand in a long line. Enrichment activities--really informative documentary on the Panama canal the day before we sailed through it. The day of passage a representative from the canal comes on board and narrates the passage. This was really enjoyable. I would love to have more in-depth information about the various countries we visited. Entertainment--I have little interest in cruise entertainment, but I was very happy to hear the string quartet playing on this trip. We enjoyed them in the dining rooms several nights and in the lounge. I took plenty of books to read but ended up reading 3 I found in the well-stocked library. Fitness--I enjoyed the aerobic dance classes but sometimes they were in the direct sun on the deck and it was wayy too hot. Wish they offered more of those throughout the day. Good walking track that stayed pretty shaded most of the time. Onboard experiences--lots of nice, quiet places for reading, which I appreciated. Most of the outdoor seating was in the sun. It would have been nice to have more shaded areas besides under the lifeboats. We enjoyed the trivia and name that tune games, except the host of name that tunes played way too much of the song and took away the challenge. It would have been nice to have some karaoke earlier than 10:00. Lots of late activities that we missed being early birds. Shore Excersions--these were all chosen to be easy with little physical activity for my mom. There were many fun things like snorkeling and zip lines that we did not do. Cabos San Lucas--did the ship easy excursion. There is not much to see in Cabos. This was a decent overview. We enjoyed the demo at the glass factory. Excellent fish tacos at Molly's in Cabos San Jose. Acapulco--very enjoyable tour with Baldo Gomez at Tours by Rudy. We released baby sea turtles at the refuge, saw lots of different areas of town, the Peace chapel, Los Flamingoes hotel. Fun day. Puerto Quetzal--did the easy shore excursion to Antigua. My mom wasn't feeling well so I went on my own. The shore excursion spent a lot of time in a jade factory/store which didn't interest me, so I went walking through Antigua on my own. A beautiful city not to be missed. Corinto--had a nice tour with Denis of Julio Guides to Leon. Leon was poor and bleak after Antigua. We got an overview of the place, saw the market, murals of the political history which went on too long standing in the heat. We went to a nice cool place for lunch. It was interesting to see but lots of poverty. Costa Rica--excellent tour guide Javier Vargas with Thumbs Up tours. One of the highlights of the trip. Went to macaw sanctuary, crocodile river cruise, and a general tour of the area. Lots of interesting plants and animals explained by our fabulous guide. We learned a lot and had a great time. Not to miss especially with Thumbs Up tours. Cartagena-- Beautiful old town. I would focus solely on that next time. We took an OK tour with Dora. We got an overview of the area and a walking tour of old town, but she rushed us through that to spend 45 mins. In an emerald store. Did not like that part, but Cartagena was one of my favorite spots on the trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We really enjoyed our cruise to South America on the Norwegian Sun. We took the relocation cruise from San Diego around the tip of South America to Buenos Aires. The relocation was wonderful - crossing the equator and visiting Peru. This ... Read More
We really enjoyed our cruise to South America on the Norwegian Sun. We took the relocation cruise from San Diego around the tip of South America to Buenos Aires. The relocation was wonderful - crossing the equator and visiting Peru. This review primarily focuses on the two-week cruise from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires. The embarkation in San Diego was slower than typical. NCL was still getting its act together regarding the customs paperwork. I don’t want to be too hard on NCL since this was their first cruise to South America in many years. It also seemed that several of the passengers slowed things down. The ship was in fine shape. Everything seemed to be working as designed. We spent a lot of time in the hot tubs, swimming pool, gym, dance floors, specialty coffee bar, and promenade deck. I particularly like the promenade deck because it is very wide and has a jogging track (10 laps = 3 miles). As usual, the staff were great. They work very hard, are helpful and friendly. We ate in the buffet and specialty restaurants. The Sun’s buffet serving area is small so they don’t have as large a selection of foods as on other NCL ships. This is somewhat offset if you check the breakfast/lunch food in the Great Outdoors and Moderno, and lunch in the poolside bar-b-que. They had Asian, seafood, Mexican, American and other themed buffets in the evening. We tried almost everything and were happy with the food. We had a good espresso almost every day in the Java Cafe. The specialty restaurants were very good. Everyone has to decide for themselves if it is worth the charge. For example, we tend not to drink alcoholic beverages on the ship because we have decided it is not worth the cost. Our room was clean and in good condition. Our room steward was outstanding. He kept everything clean, stocked and prepped our cabin every night (tidy up cabin, turn down bed, give us list of tomorrow's activities, and gave us our chocolates). Like all NCL staff we dealt with, he was friendly and hardworking. The entertainment staff were great. We took the dance classes, Spanish classes, and danced in the evening. Our cruise had a lecturer that talked about the upcoming ports. His lectures on the cities and sites were extremely helpful. The natural beauty of South America was my favorite part of the cruise. There are three routes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. We sailed part of all three. The coastline, fjords and glaciers in Patagonia are beautiful. Bring a pair of binoculars and a good camera. The weather was wet, windy and cold. We wore long pants, long sleeve shirts, hiking boots, hats and fleece vests ashore on the good weather days. We added waterproof windbreakers and down jackets on cold, wet or windy days. Our cruise was the first of the season, so the weather might be nicer in the middle of their summer. Come prepared for Mother Nature’s weather. The wind and waves conspired to rock the ship at times. The largest waves were only about ten feet but sometimes the wind howled. For example, NCL disabled the sliding doors to the promenade deck for a few days because the winds were so high. Come prepared if you are sensitive to ship motion. We saw many birds, a seal (or sea lion) and a flock of swimming penguins from the ship. Other passengers saw whales and orcas from the ship. We saw hundreds of penguins at a penguin rookery on an excursion. We went on an excursion at almost every port. We always felt safe and well taken care of. The transportation busses were clean and safe. Our guides were friendly and knowledgeable. All spoke good English. Most spoke excellent English. Many were English teachers or English majors at local universities. Tenders were required at many ports. Some of the ports are container ports and you must take a shuttle bus to the port exit. You need to pay attention to customs paperwork. NCL helps as much as they can. They kept our passports and processed some of the customs paperwork behind the scenes. However, you still need to fill out and carry paperwork with you when you go ashore. I recommend bringing photocopies of your passport because you will need your passport information. Make sure you have paid your Argentine Reciprocity Fee if you are a US, Canadian or Australian citizen and flying home out of Argentina. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
The cruise on the NCL Sun was fantastic. The smaller ship allow more relaxation and the ability to enjoy all the ship has to offer. The food in the buffet and main dining room was excellent. We also enjoyed the Le Bistro so much we ... Read More
The cruise on the NCL Sun was fantastic. The smaller ship allow more relaxation and the ability to enjoy all the ship has to offer. The food in the buffet and main dining room was excellent. We also enjoyed the Le Bistro so much we returned two times. We had never had an AFT cabin but found the best cabin of all times. The bathroom was larger than our home bath and even had a "FULL" size tub. There are only 6 of these aft cabins so you have to be sure to reserve on near the center not on the sides. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Pamela (head of housekeeping) was on it! She had our beds separated , a broken door to the mini-bar fixed immediately. One time the toilet didn't flush - panic!, but she had that fixed within 1/2 hr. too. Otherwise the entertainment ... Read More
Pamela (head of housekeeping) was on it! She had our beds separated , a broken door to the mini-bar fixed immediately. One time the toilet didn't flush - panic!, but she had that fixed within 1/2 hr. too. Otherwise the entertainment was the best in a long time and we absolutely enjoyed the cruise to the max. My only complaint really is the split shifts they've assigned the cabin attendants. They are not available as often and we didn't know ours at all or what he even looked like. So they can't possibly get to know your routine. They did have an ice carving demo - fun because there is no place to put one now. The dining room was our preference because the buffet is a mad house at all times and the food was not up to par there. If you can't have fun on this cruise there's something wrong with YOU. I don't know why Manzanillo replaced Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo but it was not a good place or tour. The port is very industrial. The tour was boring. All in all very relaxing trip! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
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
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
Sail Date October 2018
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
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
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
Sail Date November 2016
This was my 3rd NCL cruise and my least favorite ship. There were 5 in our group sharing the rear facing suite and the adjoining stateroom next door. This was an older, much smaller ship and the rooms are much smaller comparatively. The ... Read More
This was my 3rd NCL cruise and my least favorite ship. There were 5 in our group sharing the rear facing suite and the adjoining stateroom next door. This was an older, much smaller ship and the rooms are much smaller comparatively. The food was not as good as on previous cruises. The buffet was boring and the hot foods were usually cold and the salads were warm. The dining room food was good most of the time but desserts were a disappointment and the food service was extremely slow. That said, the Ports of call made for an excellent itinerary. We booked private tours as much as possible to save money and have more flexibility during our excursions. We enjoyed almost all of the ship entertainment and spent a lot of our free time hanging out in the casino. We had priority embarkation so we didn't experience the long process that some of the travelers did but even so it seemed pretty disorganized. I do love the relaxed atmosphere on NCL and the variety of people you meet are always the highlight of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
The NCL Sun is scheduled for a refurbishment in May 2016. Some parts are showing their heavy usage. The floor in the Sports Bar (a great place to bring the buffet food and eat in relative peace) is worn, scarred and haggard for example. ... Read More
The NCL Sun is scheduled for a refurbishment in May 2016. Some parts are showing their heavy usage. The floor in the Sports Bar (a great place to bring the buffet food and eat in relative peace) is worn, scarred and haggard for example. But, in general, the ship is attractive and functional. Our inside cabin was great, having a sitting area and plenty of closet and drawer space for two travelers. The shower, however, with its curtain, and tiny circular arrangement was disappointing. On newer NCL ships (like the Jewel), the shower is larger with a glass door. We were on the 10th deck, Aft, and approximately under the Moderno restaurant and an entrance to the pool. I attempted to get to a lower deck (for noise concerns) quite a bit after I made the initial reservation (and seeing the location because I was on an earlier cruise on this ship). But deck 10 cabin 0122 was almost always quiet with only a couple episodes of loud noises coming from above which was, I believe, crew work. I wouldn't hesitate to have the same cabin again. Our cabin steward, Rodel, was awesome. He seemingly was invisible most of the time but the cabin was always made up properly and promptly. He has talent as an inventive towel artist. When we did see him, he was personable and upbeat. The shipboard entertainment, from the evening shows in the Stardust Theater to the lounge entertainment were all very good to excellent. It was the first cruise for this particular set of singers and dancers in the production cast but they were pretty polished and talented. I enjoyed three lounge acts in particular--Justin Lacey, Into the Drift, and Riley Haupt. The Windjammer bar is a fairly intimate and definitely comfortable place to listen to music. It would be improved if NCL's constant hawking of on-board photos wasn't almost always in view behind the performers. When the photos are removed, there is a great view from the ship but the photos generally cover that. We dined at most of the specialty restaurants except for the sushi restaurant. All were good to excellent. My top picks would be Teppanyaki (also open for lunch on sea days) and Cagney's steak house. NCL threw in the dining package this trip but the prices seem reasonable without the package too. La Cucina (Italian), Le Bistro (French) and Moderno (Churrascaria) were all good also. When the lamb chops came around at Moderno, it was a high point for me there but that was probably eclipsed by the excellent salad bar with lots of high end items. Service in all the restaurants was very good to excellent with no real lapses. The Garden Cafe buffet which I regularly inhabited for breakfast and lunch could be slammed at times. There is plenty of seating if one counts the outside spaces at the stern, the pool area, and my "secret" space-the Sports Bar. But lines could get clogged at times which is probably the nature of shipboard buffets. I have seen more selections (particularly at lunch) on other cruises although there were plenty of nice options at breakfast such as omelet and waffle stations. I did not use the services of a bartender/ bar server during the trip so I can't speak to that. I didn't engage in many of the daytime activities beyond entertainment other than a morning workout in the gym. The gym is well equipped but some of the equipment, notably some of the cycles, were out of order for the whole cruise. Perhaps the upcoming dry dock with include some work in there. We took a city tour of Acapulco (not provided by the ship) and the Cuyutlan Turtle Experience from Manzanillo (a ship tour). The turtle tour included a drive out into the country, and a lunch at a local restaurant. The guide was excellent. But all that was paled by the experience at the center that is attempting to ensure that sea turtles survive. We were able to release baby Green Ridley turtles (born that day) into the Pacific Ocean. I will not soon forget the sight of those little turtles making their way instinctively into the surf. I hope "my" turtle makes it. The glitch or two mentioned in the title all deal with embarkation and disembarkation. I lay part of the blame for the delays on the Port of San Diego not the NCL Sun since on an earlier cruise (from Vancouver) on this ship, embarkation and disembarkation went well. Embarkation: But in San Diego, getting on the ship was about an hour process of standing in line. We arrived at noon and the queue almost filled with entire waiting area. Once close to the actual registration lines, we got to "jump" forward because of previous cruise history, my wait time was less than others who reported 2 hours +. But embarkation was a breeze compared to the "pigs breakfast" that was called "Disembarkation". My bad was that I had an 11:50 a.m. flight which I thought was plenty of time with an 8 a.m. docking and scheduled walk-off. But customs clearance was slow apparently because of...well...I don't know. The Sun intercom kept calling out for passengers with non-US passports finally sounding desperate and resorting to different languages in an attempt get certain passengers to comply. Finally our cabin steward asked us to leave our cabin so he could prepare it for the next cruise so we went to a public area and waited. And waited. With others. Signs said disembarkation had not started. A bit after 9 a.m. I decided to peek outside and saw people were, in fact, disembarking. We made our way to the atrium and found huge lines of people who were queued up. With signs on the video monitors saying that disembarking hadn't begin. I won't go into more details but it took 2 hours to walk off the ship. My suggestion is that NCL could have done a MUCH better job communicating what was happening. Disappointing. Summary: Great cruise. Good food. Great excursion. Very nice cabin for inside. Great service. Awful disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We just returned from another cruise to Mexico on the Norwegian Sun. Overall the experience was good considering we have been on this ship 3 times and to all the ports except Manzanillo. (We originally signed up for this cruise in part ... Read More
We just returned from another cruise to Mexico on the Norwegian Sun. Overall the experience was good considering we have been on this ship 3 times and to all the ports except Manzanillo. (We originally signed up for this cruise in part because it listed Ixpata as one of the stops by it turned out to be Manzanillo). The personal service was good and a highlight of the trip. Our few minor complaints would include not having complimentary airline boarding pass printing at the end of the cruise, excessive smoke in the casino that permeated the entire atrium, and not being able to make a dinner reservation in the main dining rooms every night in order to be seated with the waitstaff of our choice. The room with a balcony perfectly located in the aft area was good with a comfortable bed and great service from the room steward. Because the price of this cruise was excellent, the weather was great, the Port of San Diego very functional and the ship staff outstanding I would recommend the Norwegian Sun as a good choice for a future cruise. (PS: we stayed at the Wyndham Bayside Hotel just across the street from the cruise terminal and the quality of the hotel and walking access to the cruise terminal as well as other tourist sites in San Diego enhanced the quality of our vacation.) Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first time cruising with NCL having sailed only with Princess on prior cruises. We went with no expectations and tried "not" to compare the Sun to the three Princess ships we had sailed but did find ourselves ... Read More
This was our first time cruising with NCL having sailed only with Princess on prior cruises. We went with no expectations and tried "not" to compare the Sun to the three Princess ships we had sailed but did find ourselves comparing a few times. Overall though we were very happy with the experience on board. A much more laid back crowd but then I guess that is what Freestyle cruising is all about. The ship, although a little smaller than the Grand, Golden and Ruby is still a large ship with plenty to keep you busy while at sea. Pool areas were often full during sea days with the good weather but generally were able to find a couple of seats within a short amount of time. Thought the entertainment was good with variety, They changed it up once or twice during the 11 days and brought new entertainers aboard. Food in the dining rooms was excellent IMO, and lunch and dinner in the Garden Cafe was generally quite good as well. The exact same breakfast options everyday get's to be a little boring, but, Princess was no different. We also had the free Ultimate Beverage Package which unlike Princess does not include bottled water, sparkling water or specialty coffees but considering they were throwing it in free with the room I'm not about to complain. We booked a guaranteed inside cabin but they dropped the price dramatically after booking so we called and were upgraded to a picture window ocean view ob deck 9 which was very nice. Enjoyed all ports of call. Acapulco, Manazanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Really not much to see in Manzanillo and all the newest development and resorts are to the North of the Port, although the old downtown is right in Port. All the staff for the most part were friendly. Jonas, Keiran. Elizabeth, Lucas at the bars were our favorite. Dining staff was good. And my wife really loved Encep our room steward who had a different Towel Animal each night we returned to our room. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our experience aboard NCL and I would sail with them again, especially if the price is right. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We love NCL and enjoyed our cruise but I did notice some issues I normally do not see with NCL. I do not know if this is due to the change of the CEO and I know this ship will go to dry dock in the spring. I felt the service was off and ... Read More
We love NCL and enjoyed our cruise but I did notice some issues I normally do not see with NCL. I do not know if this is due to the change of the CEO and I know this ship will go to dry dock in the spring. I felt the service was off and seemed like they needed more staff for the bars and by the pool. Little confusion with getting off the ship that I have never experienced before. Also felt the entertainment was not as good as it normally was. We have purchased a deposit for a future cruise and will have to wait and see what happens in the future. We are Platinum with NCL so we have cruised many times with them and always have been extremely happy. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
2nd cruise on Norwegian, previous one in 2012, found they had developed even more ways to take your $'s than before. If you'd succumbed to some of their newest $ grabs. Raffles, higher gratuities etc. you could easily go over ... Read More
2nd cruise on Norwegian, previous one in 2012, found they had developed even more ways to take your $'s than before. If you'd succumbed to some of their newest $ grabs. Raffles, higher gratuities etc. you could easily go over your budget. Fortunately we had prepaid our shore excursions, gratuities and dining packages. Our biggest issue was that many people had unlimited beverage packages and the bars didn't seem to stop serving them when they should. At times it felt that we were on a party ship. We both had the unlimited beverage cards given to us as part of our cruise package, and enjoyed them in moderation each day. Very glad to have done this cruise and see new places and meet new friends, many of them that we met thanks to Cruise Critic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Our room was wonderful, suite 9202 right under the bridge, so we had a great view. Our butler (Dominic) was fantastic bringing us coffee and hot water every morning promptly at 7am. Couldn't use the coffee maker in our suite because ... Read More
Our room was wonderful, suite 9202 right under the bridge, so we had a great view. Our butler (Dominic) was fantastic bringing us coffee and hot water every morning promptly at 7am. Couldn't use the coffee maker in our suite because it made enough noise to wake up the dead...geez! The one thing that we really could have used was a microwave as the coffee gets cold quickly. Our concierge (Elvina) was very attentive to our needs also. A real nice lady and seemed to find us and check on us while dining. Ah yes, I guess I should list the complaints that we had as well. 1) Unlimited beverages should include water and coffee bar. I can get a straight shot of whiskey for free, but I have to pay for coffee? Who came up with that? 2) The food in Moderno Churrascaria was mediocre at best except for the lamb which was excellent. The service was terrible!!! Even a table behind us told them to go to our table and serve us! The maitre d' called and apologized the next day and sent us a bottle of wine (house red) but we couldn't get it exchanged for the wine that we preferred. Why not? We have a Brazilian place here and you have to beat them off with a stick to keep them from coming to your table! The filet was so overcooked that it was inedible. 3) Excursions are WAY overpriced for what you receive. But we are experienced with cruising, so we wait until the ship docks and then book someone on the dock! 4) Hold on...this should be #1...getting through the line in San Diego was the WORST we have EVER experienced!!! In Seattle, we were taken to a specific area and given coffee and cookies! 5) We tried the buffet a couple times and felt it was lacking in taste and overall variety. And good luck finding a place to sit at busy times...just before docking at a port. It's a shame that you have to have a suite in order to have a good breakfast! The menu offerings in the two dining rooms should change once in awhile...same-o-same-o. The entertainment and the people who ran the shows were fabulous...Tim the comedian was terrific. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The not so good was the food. It was not bad but what you have at home is better. Not what we were expecting. There was plenty of food but a lot of it was very basic and the desserts was sub-par. The staff was great in all departments, ... Read More
The not so good was the food. It was not bad but what you have at home is better. Not what we were expecting. There was plenty of food but a lot of it was very basic and the desserts was sub-par. The staff was great in all departments, very friendly and nice. The ship is in need of updating but it is scheduled in April 2016. The ship was very clean and the décor was nice not flamboyant. Entertainment was good. Average age of this cruise was 61 but they were a very lively group. I would have to say I would prefer to cruise with this age over any other even though we are quite a bit younger. Very nice cruisers on the ship, we enjoyed this very much and will cruise again with NCL and hope to get better food. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
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