This was our first Norwegian cruise. We chose Norwegian Sun because we wanted to go to a place we hadn't before, which was South America. We also wanted a cruise ship that was sailing for both Christmas and NYE. We thought the ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian cruise. We chose Norwegian Sun because we wanted to go to a place we hadn't before, which was South America. We also wanted a cruise ship that was sailing for both Christmas and NYE. We thought the itinerary sounded great because it included 3 countries (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) and some cities we were looking forward to such as Rio. This was our 5th cruise, we have previously cruised on Carnival Splendour, Allure of the Seas, MSC Splendida and Quantum of the Seas. We knew compared to the other ships this one was the smallest so we didn't have super high hopes but even then we were incredibly disappointed with the whole experience. It is important to note that whilst Norwegian might be an American cruise line, this particular cruise most definitely is aimed at the Spanish population. If you only speak English, like my family, you will most definitely be in the small minority of cruise members and you will notice that everything, including entertainment etc is catered towards the Spanish guests and that was perhaps by biggest issue with this cruise.
The only big redeeming quality of this cruise, that we hadn't ever had on any of our other cruises was the free included Ultimate Beverage Package which basically included unlimited free alcoholic drinks including cocktails, beers, wines, spirits etc. Normally the package is ~ USD$70 per person per day and we were cruising for 14 days and we got the drinks package free as part of our ticket. And that was the best part because frankly if you want to enjoy this cruise at all you need to be half buzzed on cocktails through out the day, as I was.
The ship decor is old, tired, dark and tacky and many of the main lounges are badly designed, uncomfortable and depressing. The public areas for buffet etc are also badly designed and cramped. Compared to all our ships, this by far had the worst wow value and was underwhelming with nothing exciting or interesting about it. The one room on the cruise ship I liked was the Observation Lounge on deck 12 forward. It's a huge room, with comfy chairs and full views of the ocean. You would think a place like that would be the main place to be because it was big, had a central area for a band and dance floor and a bar. But the place was always empty and the bar didn't open till 4.00pm and the ship never held any of it's activities there. Instead they were always held in the Dazzles lounge which is a dark, ugly, cramped place.
We had 2 inside cabins on Deck 8 (8319 and 8320). Whilst the cabin was about as spacious as any other cruise ship we've been on, the decor again was old, ugly and tacky and it was clear it needed refurbishing. This cabin aslo had the worst cleanliness compared to all our other cruise cabins. The bathroom always had this horrible, sewage, public toilet kind of smell. And when we first moved in to our cabin, there were crumbled chips on the floor by the wardrobe and it hadn't even been cleaned well. Items were also not replaced as they were used, such as soap or sanitary bag disposers. And for the first 5-6 days the air conditioning in our room wasn't working properly and we would wake up every night sweating because it was so hot. We finally had to break down and ask the maintenance person to come and fix it.
The TV was small and old and the remote barely worked. Also there weren't many channel options and the things that would have been fun to watch on TV were only in spanish which was annoying as my family is from New Zealand and we only speak English.
Probably one of the most annoying aspects was the speaker in our room and right outside our cabin that was super loud and annoying and woke us up every day when the cruise director made his annoying unnecessary announcements starting from 7.30am... So even if you wanted to sleep in, forget about it.
We did appreciate the little towel animals on our bed every night
The dining overall was not bad. The breakfast buffet was limited and exactly the same every day and wasn't that exciting. I used to wait till 11.30am to go to have food, so that I could skip the breakfast food altogether and have the lunch spread. The dinner in the main dining rooms was actually quite good on most nights, with nothing truly disappointing standing out. My family and I do prefer the traditional cruise ship dining where you have a set table and fixed waiter. However on this ship, you chose your own time and venue for dinner. Both restaurants offer the same food, but one of them (Four Seasons) allows informal wear (eg shorts etc).
Service in the dining room was variable depending on what table we were sitting each night and who our waiter was. Some were lovely and others were rude and unhelpful.
Entertainment and Activities:
Seeing as me and my brother are young (early 20s), we like to stay busy and get involved with things around the ship. But this ship had no activities or basically things to do at all during the day. The only thing they held was trivia and bingo in the depressing Dazzles lounge... and those 2 activities are frankly boring. The other ships we've been on had a lot more to offer such as mini golf, ice-skating, roller blading, zip-line, rock- climbing, movies in the theatre, game shows etc etc etc. None of that was here and I spent a lot of my free time in the Observation Lounge reading my book or watching something on my laptop
The night time entertainment was atrocious. After the spectacular entertainment we've been exposed to on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the ones on the Norwegian Sun were so bad sometimes, that we just walked out and left. Even our MSC cruise ship had better entertainment, they always had one new performer/entertainer from each new port, such as dancers, shadow artists, acrobats etc. Whilst the production cast of the Norwegian Sun are very talented, the quality of their performance is so inconsistent and the actual concepts of the shows are so ridiculous and un-entertaining.
There was also not an even spread of entertainment with most nights being a musical performance by some unknown entertainers that weren't good. The cruise had way to many tribute performances and entertainers such as Elton John impersonators, Beatles tribute band, Elvis presley etc. And they were the only performances that night and they were so bad that it was cringe worthy. We literally walked off and left from the Elvis Presley and Elton John shows. It would have been better if they had a better mix of entertainment including comedians, dance, acrobat and other performances that are unique to the area we're visiting (South America).
And because this is basically a spanish cruise, everything is said in spanish first and ten repeated in English and it really ends up getting on your nerves, because it takes the fun out the experience
My favourite shows were the Tango Show, Alberto Sanchez and the Pure Variety show.
The service was disappointing.
Ports and shore Excursions:
We didn't do any of the shore excursions the ship offered for the simple reason that they were ridiculously over-priced, upto quadruple of what you would pay if you didn't do it through the ship. We booked our shore excursions privately on viator.com. The only ones we booked before hand was for Rio de Janeiro. We did Corcovado + Christ the Redeemer, the Plataforma Samba Show and Sugar Loaf mountain. They're the exact same ones offered through the ship but we paid about 1/3 the price. For the other ports, you don't have to book it before hand, you can literally get off the ship and at the port they have companies offering a variety of the same activities but for very little money. Read Less