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34 Norwegian (NCL) South America Cruise Reviews

I was originally booked to go all the way to San Francisco (34 days) on this cruise, but I got off in Los Angeles. Four men from New Orleans who had worked on the ship's life boats and tenders for three weeks helped me off the ship. ... Read More
I was originally booked to go all the way to San Francisco (34 days) on this cruise, but I got off in Los Angeles. Four men from New Orleans who had worked on the ship's life boats and tenders for three weeks helped me off the ship. Then a wonderful man who was a temp worker at the port got a wheelchair and we loaded my bags into it. He whisked me through customs. There is no global entry machine at the port, but I gave my card to the customs agent anyway. I felt really, really sorry for all the foreigners who had to go through US customs at LA. The lines were huge and there was no help. The sewage problem was severe on the ship. I was in an inside cabin by myself. The smell was awful!!! The cabin had old ratty carpet and uncomfortable mattresses on the bed. At one point I saw sewage water come up out of the shower drain. The ship is scheduled for remodeling, but not until 2018! My cabin stewardess was absolutely wonderful. We got to know each other during the 32 days I was on the ship. I speak Spanish fluently so I was not dependent upon the ship's tours. This trip ended up costing a lot! $1500 extra in port charges. $700 extra in the mandatory gratuities. I imagine the cruise line uses those funds to pay the staff. I asked my stewardess if they saw any of the funds and she told me "no". I tipped her well before I left. She was wonderful! I don't think I'll cruise NCL ever again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
The ship is clean and the entertainment very good indeed. Excursions are vastly overpriced. (And not very good at any price). The deal breaker is the food. The "included", or as Norwegian likes to describe it ... Read More
The ship is clean and the entertainment very good indeed. Excursions are vastly overpriced. (And not very good at any price). The deal breaker is the food. The "included", or as Norwegian likes to describe it "complimentary" (what is complimentary about something you have pre-paid?) dining rooms are OK because the food was well served and presented, but was quite unacceptable as far as taste was concerned. For example, all meat dishes were served with a horrible glutinous gravy. Even when the main course was good (I had a marvellous prime rib) this gravy completely spoiled the eating experience. Of course, the dish was served cold, as was pretty much everything. Few vegetables. The buffet was poorly laid out, and the foodstuffs inferior. The first day selection (no decent cold cuts or cheese) never changed. Awful. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Just back from this Cruise from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires with the NCL Sun, all together: cannot recommend. I have seen another comment on an earlier date for this cruise, where someone said "worst cruise ever", well I ... Read More
Just back from this Cruise from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires with the NCL Sun, all together: cannot recommend. I have seen another comment on an earlier date for this cruise, where someone said "worst cruise ever", well I wouldn't share this, but when I had to put the about 15 cruises we have been to in an order, it would probably end on the very bottom of the list. Ok, let's start with the ship: 15 years old, you will see a certain amount of wear and tear, however generally it is well maintained but the interior is somehow old fashioned. Cleanness on board was not really good, e.g. I have never seen one of the glass tables in the theater really clean. Same in our stateroom, the cabinet doors had fingerprints on arrival and throughout the whole tour. I don't blame the stateroom attendant, it just seems that he had too many staterooms to take care for, so he couldn't go that extra mile to make the room really clean. Same for the tables in self service restaurants which looked sometimes dirty. During the cruise we have seen much less cleaning going on in the general areas compared to other cruises. Due to the "free style dining" system, they have five "speciality" restaurants (I will talk about them later) although those are not that big, they take away room for the other dining areas. Just one of them, the 'Moderno' is used for (a limited) breakfast and lunch buffet. So especially during bad weather when they cannot use the outdoor dining the buffet style Garden Restaurant and Moderno are very cramped. Tables are filled most the time making it hard to find an empty seat and you may end up having your breakfast on a bar chair at the bar. On one of the port days most people made excursions and everyone back on board was 3.30p.m. They closed the seated restaurants and even the buffet in the garden restaurant at 3p.m., only one side of the outdoor buffet was open. Well that day (Puerto Madryn) the major excursions were 7.5 hrs long and if at all guest had a boxed lunch in the busses. So when all those guests came back just before departure of the ship it was more than cramped at the buffet. It took them about an hour before they finally opened the other side of the outdoor buffet as well. And we've seen that on other days too, there was a long line at the outside restaurant, but they opened only one side, even though food was sitting on both sides, but they did not open the other side until an hour later. The buffet itself is pretty small, not much of diversity and sometimes long lines waiting. Other than on other cruises we have been to, 90% of the food is real self service, so you take the food yourself not someone behind the counter filling your plate with whatever you want. Having food lined up partly in three rows, it was sometimes even for me, having long arms hard to reach everything without touching or bothering around with other food. Didn't look very hygienic to me, and pretty soon sometimes like a war-zone. Same time they have two restaurants (Seven Seas and Four Seasons) where you will be served at the table, however they open only one of those for breakfast and lunch, which is ok, as most people tend to go to the self service buffet. But I think it would be a good idea to have a breakfast and lunch buffet in one of those restaurants as well. We went most the times to the seated restaurants as we prefer to be served at the table. For dinner they open both, however the menu is the same in both, although the description upfront in all brochures gives the impression that both would have different styles. You can make reservation upfront, which is probably a good decision when you like to eat more around 8.00 p.m. At that time you may have to wait a while for a seat without reservation (they hand out buzzers, so it seems to be some waiting time). You better take a jacket or something else warm to your meals, especially when you get a seat close to the window the A/C is sometimes really freezing cold. However even if you make reservation you will not get the same table every day. Meaning you will have different waiters every time. No chance that your waiter will anticipate your wishes after some days. Also I had the impression no need for (most of) the waiters to offer exceptional service, most likely they will serve you only once. So they don't go an extra mile for an extra tip. Generally we had the impression that staff / guest ratio was not as good as on other cruises we've done. We met our stateroom attendant twice or three time during the whole cruise. On other cruises that was the average we met them per day. Maybe they have to take care for more staterooms than on other ships. Food quality was mostly good although some of the dishes missed a little bit of spices and the deserts are not that good in my personal view. However the variety of the menu is limited and recurring, not only some of the dishes but the whole menu was some days identical. Actually after one week you will have seen all they offer. Well menu included even e.g. Ribeye Steak or Lobster if you are willing to pay around 22 USD. Other than this, as I said, good quality but limited and recurring choices. If you are vegetarian or vegan, forget about. We met a vegetarian couple and she was very sad, as she ended up having the very same meal multiple times. Breakfast menu was the exactly same every day. In my view especially sad was that no cheese (other than cream cheese) was on the menu in the restaurants. The buffet offered one or two sorts of cheese. When I asked the waiter for cheese for breakfast there was at least a chance, that they actually brought me cheese. That again the downside of 'freestyle' dining, different waiter every day. Quality of breakfast was very much moving target. Some days eggs were perfect (for me) sometimes even the egg white was partly fluid. We like to have black tea in the morning, that always required extra waiting time and sometimes the hot water was no longer hot when it reached the table. No idea from how far away waiter had to get this. We love to have breakfast in our stateroom, weather permitting on the balcony. However balcony was no option on this cruise even not in the warmer regions, as there was no table on the balcony. When we booked room service was included, later they changed that to a 7.95$ charge (not 8.00$, just 7.95$, what a bargain) per order, except for continental breakfast in the morning. However the continental breakfast is absolutely basic, no toast, no egg, no fruit. So you most likely end up with 7.95$ for breakfast in the stateroom. After we complained about this change, they granted us 1 free order per day. However not only due to the fact that there was no table on the balcony, but also due to the fact that the service was late twice we decided not to use the room service on this cruise. In regards to variety of the menu the speciality restaurants are even worse, they did not change their menu at all, meaning exactly same dishes offered throughout the 14 days cruise. And the amount of main courses is pretty limited too. Again, food quality in the steakhouse and the Bistro (that's the two we went) was absolutely perfect, service there was very good as well (and yes, they deserved and got their extra tip). However we bought a 3 day dinner package (which gives you 1 main and unlimited starters / sides / deserts for three dinners) we went to the Bistro first and the steakhouse next. Being not a fan of Japanese food and neither the Brazilian style churascaria, it was already not that easy to find something on this limited menu we wanted to have for the third dinner. Yes there is an Italian place as well, but nothing really special Italian dish on that menu (we are in Italy often and love Italian food, however they even don't have vitello tonnato on the menu). If you go more often than three times you may probably end up having the same main twice, especially if you maybe don't want to have seafood or prefer seafood, don't want meat or prefer meat, etc.. There is also ‘Las Ramblas”, a “Tapas Bar”, however all they offer are about six very basic tapas style snacks. And those seemed to be the same every day as well. The Sushi Bar is by the way not included in the Speciality Dining Package. We've been twice to the steakhouse, sushi bar is kind the entrance area of the steakhouse. Both times I haven't seen people eating sushi. One day they offered special chocolate deserts in the main restaurants and (based on the information they hung out) special chocolate deserts plus other deserts in the speciality restaurants. Happened that we've been to the steakhouse that night. Asking for the special chocolate menu the waiter was first uninformed at all, then he called and told us out of his memory which desert would be available (well, he couldn't recall all of them, so he said, ‘basically the same as last cruise’ ). Anyhow we could order it and got it, however if we hadn't seen this before by circumstance (we had looked in one of the main restaurants before) he wouldn't have mentioned it to us. Again, not big deal, but very typical for not giving out information. Very limited selection is also true for wine if you bought the 'Ultimate' beverage package. This 'huge selection' (as advertised) includes 8 different red wines (by glas) out of the total list of 61 red wines. White wines are also eight included, 2 off dry and 6 semi-dry. We complained about this and they gave us one free bottle of nice white wine (Which we liked and appreciated), but didn't change the list. Having 14 days just two different wines to pick from (as I didn't like the other 6 reds at all) is not what I expect from an 'ultimate beverage package'. If you like to get a not included wine (which only comes by bottle) they will give you a 20% rebate. Well, they include wine by glasses, where the bottles range between 30 and 40$ and when you buy a not-included wine which is listed e.g. for 40$ as well, they grant you a 8$ rebate. Do you get the rational behind this (expect getting after your dollars)? I don't get it. Even worse, it was not for sure that you will get all of the included wines in every bar, in between some were sold out in some bars. The entertainment options on board were also limited compared to other cruises. Well entertainment is very much a matter of personal taste and prefers, however evening shows were partly recurring and in my personal view quality of performers were ok, but nothing really special. Not to forget, they had South America / port of call presentation every day which was really good and informative. We also liked the piano man Greg in the Windjammer Bar. (By the way Windjammer Bar and Havana Lounge are both mentioned as Bar options on the ship description. They are not two bars, but just one partly divided by a glas cupboard, making the Havana Lounge a little bit more quiet. But basically these are only two setting sections of the same bar. Well they are good in making descriptions) They offered a 'tour behind the scenes' to kitchen, laundry, etc. but they did charge for this extra. There was the usual bingo, casino, a few dance classes, and q&a with captain and officers, but especially with a large numbers of sea days on this cruise I would have expected more variety in entertainment. The TV system was also pretty outdated. No interactive Information, e.g. assessing your stateroom account or ordering room service, making reservations via the TV system, etc.. I understood they do offer something like this via the wireless Internet. However for that you need to download an App. As I was not willing to pay for the Internet to download this app and did not have any information upfront, I could not use this App. TV offered BBC, Fox, MSNBC and I believe three movie channels, however, there was not easy to find out when which film will start. As far as I have seen when I switched to those channels, the selection of movies was very limited (I actually noticed four different movies, but again I can't tell for sure, as there was no schedule available) Occasionally they showed a movie in the theater, but I believe just once or twice. One TV channel was used for round the clock repeating advertisement for next cruises, but even that was not really informative, just standard 'we go to great places', one channel was for round the clock repeating safety advices, well I didn't see the point to get information throughout the cruise about how the security drill which took place the first day will operate or how tender operations will operate when there is no more tender port to come. One channel was the view from bridge which was also occasional used for announcements about the cruise, but very limited. One channel was for recorded theater shows and other recorded events another one showed information about ongoing events etc. however this was kind of a slide show with changing slides, many of them about the casino and other advertisement. To get some real information you had to watch this channel probably more than 15 minutes or so until finally a slide with information you look for comes up. 'Best' was the channel for the 'up to date' ship and weather information, which was pretty often astonishing incorrect or outdated, did not always show the current position of the ship on the map (but a map where the actual ships position was not on). It showed small wavelets when the actual waves outside were probably about 3 meter or showed an outside temperature of 23 Celsius when it was really cold outside. And I doubt that we really had water temperature of 20 Celsius down to the south tip of South America. Leaving Puerto Madryn, the distance to previous port shown on screen was 45 miles when it was actually probably 15 miles, well as further we went, the shorter the distance became until it finally seemed to be correct. I assume (and hope) the captain used more correct information. Well, that incorrect information doesn't ruin your cruise but are kind of example of unprofessionallity. All together I think this was the cruise with the least comprehensive and most incorrect information on board. For announcements they used , as on all ships their speaker system in the hallways and rooms and one of the TV channels. However we could never find out by which system other than random they decide which communication channel they use. Ok, stateroom announcements should be limited to most important things, as people may want to sleep, especially as there was no way (as on other ships) to turn off the speaker in the stateroom for other than emergency announcements. But why they sometimes broadcast the announcement over their communication channel on TV and sometimes not, we couldn't find any reason for. One day we were standing on the balcony had the TV switched to the communication channel and waited for the ship to be cleared for going off shore. We nearly missed this announcement as it was only made in the hallway, which we couldn't hear from the balcony, it was just because I went inside to get my camera that I heard there was an announcement going on, opening the door I could get at least the Italian version and understood that we could go ashore now. It's very unconvincing if you don't know how to get which information on a cruise ship. I also did never understood, why the daily printed information about meals, ports, events, etc. in German language included always very incorrect grammar, spelling and wording, as they do have several native German speaking staff on board (the Hotel Director was a German as well). Even standard, recurring information was partly bad translated. Again, that is definitely not a big deal I always understood the meaning and was mainly going for the English versions anyway. However, as a Hotel Director I would make sure that information printed in my own mother tongue would be correct, just for being professional. It's a small piece of a puzzle but matches the big picture, that NCL goes more for the money of the guest than for real quality. E.g. prices for shore excursions were by far the highest I have seen on comparable cruises. Charging 219$ per Person for a 4 1/2 hrs. Excursion which includes an approx. 20 km Bus ride, visit of a small park (entrance fee about 10$) a sheep farm and a lunch BBQ is in my view ridiculous, unless the BBQ was gold plated. I read the other day, that NCL is more or less a budget cruise line. I would not agree, their basic rates are comparable to many other lines, include all side-costs especially excursions they are not budget. And service is below budget. Other point which need to be mentioned critically is the size of the ship, which was probably too big for this destination. There was another cruise ship going the same route as we did (more or less) the Regatta from Oceanic which was docking where we had to tender and which probably also was able to go further into the Chilean fjords, where we just went through the bigger passages. Tendering is general ok, however we nearly missed Punta Arenas due to the fact that the waves were nearly to high for tendering (they had to stop tendering for a while in the afternoon, making it a long waiting time to get back on board). We couldn't get as close to Cape Horn as promised due to heavy winds and we missed totally the Falklands, due to the fact that the ship is too big to get into the inner bay but has to anker outside on the ocean. Making it a 20 - 30 minute tender ride. As very heavy wind were on the forecast for the afternoon, captain was afraid, that he would probably not be able to bring back all gust on board by tendering, so he decided to cancel this port. 'Funny' enough they started to hand out tender ticket at 7 a.m. when actually the decision to cancel was already made and the boat was already past the point where the ship would had to turn towards the island for the planned tender operations. They even did not make any announcement before 8.30 a.m. about the cancellation, at a point in time when we already were past the islands. So many people did even not get a chance to take at least some pictures of island at the time when we've been appr. only 10 sea miles away. They never gave an explanation for the late announcement even not when especially asked for in an Q&A session on the following day, no sorry or apologise for this as well. I thought this was very unrespectful for the person from Argentina who asked for an explanation. He mentioned that he would have loved to get at least the chance for a view to the Island and make some photographs by an earlier announcement. Captain's comment was, that he wouldn't have seen a lot anyway, because it was foggy and that he would no longer discuss this. It also took them more than 4 hours until they handed out an amended program for this additional seaday and announced e.g. which restaurants will now be open for lunch or which additional events they will offer. Especially after hearing that in average 3 out of 10 times, or even more often they have to skip the Falklands due to the weather, I would have expected that they have a 'plan B' in the drawer for that situation. But they even did not manage to change the on screen displays in the Hallways which showed the 'Welcome to Port Stanley' schedule the whole day. However, they managed to change the schedule so the ship arrived in Puerto Madryn a day earlier as planned, in the late afternoon. That way we had a chance to spend the evening in town. Anyway, given the fact that the ship is too big to get into the inner bay at the Falklands, making a long tendering required increases in my view the chance that this port will be cancelled. I believe it would be more than fair that NCL does mention this in their brochures. (Well, they even didn't indicate how many ports will be tender ports). A number of guest (including the two of us) made the decision for the NCL cruise just because of this stop, knowing this would mean two additional days on sea. Other cruise lines do not include Falklands in their itinerary upfront. Looking back I have to admit they are probably just more honest to their guest. Missing the Falklands was especially for the large numbers of Argentinian on board hard, which planned to visit the military cemetery there and book the whole cruise just for this. Overall most port of calls on this cruise are not really worth to go (in my view) but more just on the way to Cape Horn (and to the Falklands). Punta Arenas is a beautiful little city with many nice old buildings, maybe better than Valparaiso which does not look as nice. The beagle canal passage was interesting, in the first part we came close to five glaciers. But here again, they told upfront we would pass the glaciers at appr. 7.30 a.m. At 7 a.m. there was an announcement (not in the staterooms but only the hallways) that we are about to pass the first glacier (which was the second best). Well, for those sleeping on the 'wrong' side or in an inside stateroom it was probably too late. Our cabin was on the port side, so we had a perfect view, even undressed. Sure, it may be not realistic to tell the exact time period of passing a night before, but making an announcement just at the time of passing is not good organised, especially if the passage is one of the highlights of the cruise. Nearly the same happens for Cape Horn, due to high winds (captain said up to 130 km/h) the captain decided not to go as close as planned. This announcement came also only at the time when we reached the closest point and on the hallways only, not in the staterooms (the ship was not too bad rolling and shifting, we had rougher sea some days before). At this time you could see Cape Horn at least, but as he was turning around that was for some minutes only as well, at least from our balcony (yes, I could go on the balcony without problems). I am quite sure, many guests will have missed out Cape Horn completely due to the late announcement of turning around before the planned point. Puerto Madryn, the city itself is not worth visiting at all (so that additional night we had there was probably fun for the crew as they could spent a night in bars ashore - not so much fun for the guests with a balcony to the dock side when all those people came home late during the night). Their are two areas worth to go from Puerto Madryn. One for Punta Tombo, huge penguin colony, we went there and it was really good. And the other one the Valdez Peninsula, which a lot of other wildlife. Talked to people that went there and it is good as well. However both takes a 2.5 to 3 hours ride by car or bus, each way! Giving the fact that the ship departs from Puerto Madryn at 4 p.m., all guest on board 3.30 p.m. and excursions don't start before 7.30 a.m., you end up with max 1-2 hours at the excursion point compared to 5-6 hours drive (and the roads are not really good and safe). Having a sea day next day and only about 700 miles to next port would make it no problem to stay 1 or even 2 hours longer in port, well I am quite sure that would incur more port fees for NCL. All over all, yes not going offshore in Falklands and not getting closer to Cape Horn was disappointing, but taking it for grant that this was for security reason, that's ok and nothing to complain. (Although finding out that the actual weather on that day in Port Stanley was about perfect, leaves some questions about the decision) How the crew handled the situation, late announcements, and all the other bad service factors mentioned lets me place this cruise experience at the bottom of the list of my about 15 cruises so far. And just as well, makes it more than unlikely that we will consider NCL again for one of our upcoming cruise plans. Tipps and hints: going from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires, go for a Port Side cabin, (If you book an outside cabin) that’s where you will see the most interesting things, especially that's the side were the glaciers are. Going other directions it will be the other side obviously. Arriving in Santiago and need transfer to Valparaiso ? Consider to rent a car, europcar e.g. does have a station right opposite the cruise terminal in Valparaiso. (closes at 7 pm, as far as I recall) in Santiago you can then do the Maipo Valley on you own, it is actually not that worth to visit, but at least doing it by car is cheaper than with an organized tour). Trip to Valparaiso is easy driving. In Punta Arenas it's worth to walk through the streets, no long distances. If you plan for Puerto Madryn do Punta Tomba on your own, make sure to leave the boat as early as possible. The distance is at least 2.5 hrs. drive each way! For Punta Tombo you will need at least 1.5 hrs there, as it is about a three miles walk through the penguin colony, however it is worth especially if you haven't had a chance in other ports before. Puerto Madryn itself is not worth. Don't miss the South America lectures given by Peter, lots of very useful port Information! Avoid the excursions organized by NCL they are overpriced. In all ports we've seen numerous independent tour operators and taxis. (Well I don't know about Port Stanley, but there you can – weather permitting – do a walk to the Penguins, appr. 3.5 hrs walk round trip, as we've been told) Well and best tipp: look for another cruise line, offering these destinations. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
The bathroom glasses were not changed for the entire trip. The attendant simply dried them with a towel and left them. I'm sure that wasn't the attendant's fault -- it's the ship policy. It wouldn’t surprise me if the ... Read More
The bathroom glasses were not changed for the entire trip. The attendant simply dried them with a towel and left them. I'm sure that wasn't the attendant's fault -- it's the ship policy. It wouldn’t surprise me if the same glasses are still there for the next cruise. The shows were not particularly good. The showband was great, and was usually the best part of the show. The entertainers that had shows were not very high quality. A good guitar player is not necessarily a good entertainer. Greg Sampson was the best piano bar player I've ever seen. And the Amber strings were always good. When Wes and the showband members had shows they were always good, although the individual members who had shows were not that great. I got the impression that they simply used band members as the entertainment because it was cheaper than having real entertainers. Repeated requests to find out what the pounding noise in our cabin was were passed off -- customer relations said i needed to talk to housekeeping; housekeeping said it was probably some maintenance going on but they didn't know what. 4 telephone calls, one trip to housekeeping, one trip to atrium, and finally someone came to our room and said he'd try to find out. Eventually the noise stopped. But hours, not minutes after complaining. After my first two calls they simply didn’t answer the phone for a while. Internet service was the worst I've ever seen. The manager just explained that we couldn't expect to get internet in our room, or in the front or back of the ship, because the ship wasn't really set up for that. I bought the 24/7/14-day package and probably got 5% of that. If I moved from one spot to another on the ship, i lost connection. I could tell that the "counter" was still saying I was connected; but i couldn't do anything. If it had not been under a cruise ship terms, that would be fraud. The Garden cafe had the lowest quality of food I've seen on a ship. Whatever we had for lunch was also there for dinner and then again tomorrow. Day after day, it was the same thing. And it's laid out and managed so poorly that it's really hard to get to the food. The lines of people trying to get one thing were in the way of people trying to get something else. And it seemed like the crew wasn't aware that people were not going to eat outside in the rain. There simply was no place to sit inside. They were really fast to take things while we were eating, but slow to clean tables for someone coming in. I thought it was really strange that we were in an area with high quality wine and local fish, but we got Mondavi wine shipped from California, and generic fish chunks. Food was generally overcooked and dry. We ate at a restaurant off the ship whenever we could. I was also surprised that the "ultimate beverage package" no longer included water. That seems like a ridiculous penny-pinching game. The captain decided not to go to the Falklands "because of hurricane winds". I was watching weather forecasts regularly and they showed maximum gusts of 30 MPH. But he went all the way around the islands and wasted another day. The winds weren't that bad when we got into the area; they weren't any different when we left. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Ship: Norwegian Sun Itinerary: Chilean Fjords - Buenos Aires to Valparaiso Sail dates: January 31 to February 14, 2010 Embarkation: As several other CC members have noted, the Port of Buenos Aires can be chaotic and disorganized during ... Read More
Ship: Norwegian Sun Itinerary: Chilean Fjords - Buenos Aires to Valparaiso Sail dates: January 31 to February 14, 2010 Embarkation: As several other CC members have noted, the Port of Buenos Aires can be chaotic and disorganized during peak boarding times: all taxis and large tour buses enter through one gate and then jockey for position in a huge traffic snarl in order to let passengers out curbside. Additional confusion results from a single sidewalk (with very little signage) that requires passengers to proceed to a luggage intake station through a doorway on the right, then double-back to the actual terminal entrance door on the left. During our embarkation there was very little guidance from NCL staff, who were present on the scene but not active - some had signs in their hands that they held close to their sides instead of up in the air, while others just stood and stared blankly at the pandemonium without the slightest attempt to guide anyone. Once inside the terminal, a long line lead us to passport control, and passengers who refused to queue in single file (cutting the line to visit with relatives and jockey to get a little further ahead) further compounded the chaos. Processing was even halted at one point so that the overwhelmed agents could take a break, but this resulted in even longer lines to leave the port. Once through passport control, diesel buses carried passengers to the ship, weaving under cranes and through stacks of cargo containers. Reaching the gangway at last, we entered the ship on Deck 5 and faced a very long line in the Four Seasons dining room, where room cards were being issued. As suite guests, my spouse and I were pulled from this queue and separately checked in by staff in the lobby area of the Il Adagio restaurant. After taking photos, we were led to an adjoining room for a one-on-one talk with ship concierge Karin, who asked if there was anything she could arrange for us as we settled in. The one request I had - to reserve a spot in the thermal suite in the spa - was for naught...despite web postings to the contrary, there is no thermal suite on board. As Karin explained, "This is an older ship, and it does not have the amenities you might expect on newer, larger ships." Indeed. Ship: The Norwegian Sun, built in 2001, is a smaller vessel that feels somewhat dated and out-of-touch even though it is relatively new (perhaps this explains a planned dry-dock scheduled for fall 2010.) Public areas are small and a bit on the claustrophobic side, and the awkward deck layout, which is configured around a giant central kitchen area on deck 5, prevents easy walking from venues located at opposite ends of the ship. The atrium features four "Panoramic Elevators" that, after leaving decks 5, 6 and 7, travel the remainder of their journey inside a white tube - hardly "panoramic" at all. There are many rust spots all over the exterior decks of the vessel that are in need of painting, and plastic flowers and Papier Mache rocks abound - no fresh flowers were to be seen. The daily newsletter is laughable - frequent misspellings, incorrect information, and page after page devoted to getting you to spend money on jewels, artwork, massages and excursions. I know these elements are part of the cruise line revenue stream, but honestly, NCL goes above and beyond any acceptable levels of advertising when 6 front-and-back insert pages are spent trying to pry your money from your pocket. Separately, the passenger composition on this South American itinerary was largely comprised of travelers from France, Germany and Latin America, and as a result, I observed willful disregard for the rule against smoking in individual cabins and public areas despite admonishments from the crew. Indeed, when walking down the halls of decks 9 and 10, the cigarette smoke coming from cabins was so thick that it would make me cough out loud. I saw several cases of plumbing problems - for example, on embarkation day inside cabins 0129 and 0329 were flooded so badly with sewage that carpets were pulled up, odorizer was sprinkled on floors and giant fans were in place for at least 2 straight days. Serious customer service issues exist on this ship. Bartenders and bar staff are competent and friendly (especially Marvin in the Observation Lounge), but much of the food service team seems to be preoccupied with socializing with each other - when interrupted from this pastime they are often surly and occasionally downright rude. When we got up to take a look at a breakfast fruit buffet in the Four Seasons main dining room, one server admonished us to sit down immediately and barked, "Let us do our job and you do yours!" During the mandatory lifeboat muster, our station leader - an onboard entertainer named Alan - practiced his dance steps while the drill took place. At the same time his station partner informed us, "Remember you are at Muster Station R. You know what Station R stands for? R is for rich. Like you." (Presumably because this station is a meeting point for suite guests.) On a positive note about the crew, Concierge Karin is a very hard worker who aims to please. I've read complaints on CC that "she is never at her desk," but in reality this is because she is constantly in motion, running all over the ship to take care of guests. She is extremely accommodating and courteous, and the majority of this crew would do well to model their behavior after hers. Cabin: We were booked in Cabin 0265, a Penthouse Suite located aft on the Norway Deck. This cabin is spacious (the photos of the living room area on the NCL website really do not do the size of it justice) and generally well maintained. The bathroom is large, with a separate glassed-in toilet closet (like many cruise ship WCs, this one has a slight smell of sewage), a double-door-enclosed shower, and a Jacuzzi tub that is large enough for a 6-foot tall adult to lie down in. The bathroom has only one sink, however, so washing up and shaving are a one-person-at-a-time affair. Lighting is good in the bathroom, but one minor annoyance: you cannot turn on just one light, say only over the sink - you must turn on all 12 recessed spotlights or none at all (kind of disruptive if you have to get up in the middle of the night). In addition, it sometimes took as long as 15 minutes to get hot water in the bathroom, so if you are in a hurry, plan on a cold shower. Closet space in this cabin is not as generous as one would expect, especially for a 2-week itinerary. There are lots of drawers, though, and a separate make-up table area in the pass-through closet space between the bathroom and bedroom. The bedroom is nicely-sized, with a very soft marshmallow mattress and a separate set of glass doors that open onto the best thing about this cabin - the generous wrap-around aft balcony, which features room enough for two chaise lounges as well as a table and three regular-size chairs. Watching the world go by on calm sea days makes the investment in this suite worthwhile. Negatives about Suite 0265: no coffee maker or kettle (let alone the cappuccino machine advertised in most NCL literature describing Penthouse Suite amenities), no in-room Wi-Fi, no extra blankets or pillows without making a special request, and large tube-style Panasonic televisions that are well past their prime, to the point of being nearly unwatchable. A Sony DVD player with surround-sound is outfitted in the living room, but I can't imagine blasting the speakers while watching a movie from the onboard library. A connecting door to the smaller balcony room next door would make this an ideal suite for sharing with kids or another couple, but in our case our neighbor used it for eavesdropping (as he made clear while we were out on the balcony, when he leaned over the dividing barrier and asked about things that had been discussed in private). Beware: noise (and the odd piece of toast flying off a plate) is also sometimes an issue from the Great Outdoors Cafe located on the deck above - diners frequently drag their chairs (and tables) as they jockey for position alongside the rails. One saving grace during our cruise was that the cafe space above this cabin is unusable in cold or inclement weather, so the noise factor wasn't as bad as it could have been. The Penthouse Suite comes with Butler Service - ours was a rather shy man named Orlando. In addition to bringing ice (and unpacking your clothes if you ask), the butler brings complimentary canapEs in the late afternoon and also delivers room service orders (room service in this suite is a complicated affair in which you call the room service number, they hang up, locate your butler, and he calls you back to take the order and subsequently deliver it). I had but one request of Orlando - to supply a bottle of whiskey for evening drinks. I told him I understood that I would have to pay extra for the alcohol, but he gave me a funny look and informed me that I would have to pay for each shot in the bottle individually! When I asked how that could be possible, given that guests can purchase a dozen bottles of wine from NCL without a "per-sip" surcharge. He just shrugged his shoulders and later I received an explanation from the Concierge: It is supposedly a (newly-introduced) fleet wide NCL policy that guests cannot purchase a bottle of liquor onboard, even if they are willing to pay an exorbitant amount for it - apparently because some guests cannot be trusted not to drink it all at once (how this gets around being able to drink a whole bottle of wine at once is beyond me). In any event, it is nonsensical that a suite guest cannot request a bar setup with a single bottle of liquor for the duration of a two-week cruise. Our Cabin Steward Fidel was perhaps the best we have ever had on any cruise - he visited several times a day and our suite was kept immaculate at all times. Food: Overall, the food served on the NCL Sun is consistently mediocre - poorly prepared, sloppily presented and more often than not, reheated from a frozen state. Interestingly, during a casual conversation with the Food & Beverage manager, he revealed that (despite an itinerary with close proximity to some of the best meat and seafood on the planet) none of the protein served on the Sun is fresh. That's right - all steaks, poultry and seafood items are shipped frozen to the ship from Miami because of potential labor strikes from dockworkers and other food providers in South American ports. It's unsurprising then that the resulting meals are less than spectacular. One thing to remember when dining on this ship - the service staff has been indoctrinated with a set order in which to deliver food, and any deviations or special requests (like a pre-dinner cocktail or an extra piece of bread with your meal) cause confusion and turmoil. Service staff is also not very competent, often mixing up orders and dropping food and utensils - the crashing of plates, silverware and glassware onto the floor is a constant in nearly every dining venue on the Sun. The "Freestyle" concept really is kind of a joke - if you don't plan ahead, you really cannot eat "whenever, wherever" - walk-up to the desk of a specialty restaurant without a reservation and you will get a blank stare and a "No!" Here then, is a rundown of each of the restaurants onboard: Concierge Lounge: Our first dining experience on the Sun was lunch in the Concierge Lounge, set up in the Il Adagio specialty restaurant. Warning signs that a bad meal was forthcoming appeared right away: our waiter was shuffling his feet and singing to himself, even while taking our order, and the tablecloth was stained with food from a breakfast that had been served earlier that morning. I asked for a Diet Coke and 20 minutes later received a Beck's Beer in a bottle. I asked again for a Diet Coke, and this time received a Pepsi in a can. After my third request for a Diet Coke, our server informed me that they only have Pepsi on NCL (first time anyone ever told me), so I said "Okay, let me have a Diet Pepsi then." 42 minutes and $2.24 later, I received the one and only soda that I had onboard. My lunch consisted of a Caesar Salad that would be best described as a few leaves of Romaine lettuce floating in two cups of salad dressing, followed by cold and inedible hamburger "sliders" and French fries that were still partially frozen. I skipped it. Breakfast is offered in this venue as an amenity for suite guests, and the service was admittedly better than this first meal, but you have to know how to order. If you want a regular amount of cheese on your omelet, specify "extra cheese," otherwise the omelet arrives dry. If you want your English muffin toasted, you must specifically ask for it to be done. Teppanyaki: During the check-in process, Concierge Karin encouraged us to make a reservation for the Teppanyaki specialty restaurant, because "once everyone on the ship hears about how good it is, you won't be able to get a reservation." We took her advice and made a booking for our first night on ship. After our party of four was seated at the 12-person grill, we placed an order for cocktails. A couple of the requests (a gin martini, a blended margarita) seemed to vex the waiter - a hunch that was proven true when the drinks did not appear until 52 minutes later. After being served soybeans, soup and a salad, our two teppanyaki chefs appeared - making nervous jokes and fumbling a bit as they started juggling knives and spatulas over the steaming hot grill. I had just remarked to my brother-in-law that "This can only end badly..." when one of the chefs lost his grip on a twirling spatula and it sailed across the grill and hit my spouse square in the chest, covering him in food and sauce. After he excused himself from the table amid gasps from our fellow diners, the chefs proceeded to juggle raw eggs, which they also dropped with splats onto the floor. Everyone at the grill grew visibly agitated at becoming the next victim, and I said, "Maybe we should stop the juggling and proceed with the cooking." No one laughed. Neither did I when my spouse returned and the maitre d' failed to compensate him for the $25 meal surcharge - instead she offered a complimentary t-shirt cleaning (even though he was wearing a dress shirt and dress slacks). The evening was ruined, as you can imagine, but admittedly the food was fairly tasty (if diners can manage to avoid wearing it). Four Seasons: Our group of four encountered mediocre food and very surly service in this main dining room (in fact we had a running debate over whether the service is worse in the Four Seasons or the Seven Seas - food is from the same kitchen, and only the serving staff distinguishes the two main dining room venues). Bland dishes like chicken breast with instant mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables abound. On the accident front, I had a shrimp cocktail spilled all over the table in front of me one evening by a sloppy server. Il Adagio: Dinner is reasonably good at this venue, which specializes in Italian dishes. Order the simple things, like an artichoke pizza, which is crisp and delicious. Service is sloppy, however: it took more than 15 minutes for a server to appear on one busy evening, and an additional 30 minutes to get glasses of water to the table. The reason, according to our server: "We have to go and find more water." Le Bistro: Food and service were a bit above average in this venue. The cassoulet was decently prepared, with slightly overcooked but flavorful duck. The chocolate fondue was cold, runny and inedible, and although the menu advertises Crepes Suzette "prepared tableside," they are not, obviously for safety reasons (but then why offer it in writing?). If you order selections from the "International Cheese Trolley" for dessert, you'll receive a few slices of American, Swiss and Bleu served along with a plastic-covered packet of saltine crackers. Beware the extra charges for certain menu items that are in addition to the restaurant's $20 cover charge. East Meets West Steakhouse: Food quality is slightly above average here, with fairly attentive service (although we were turned away in our first attempt to "dine whenever" at 7:30 pm despite the fact that only two of the more than 35 tables were occupied). Jumbo shrimp cocktails with a spicy sauce are a pleasure, and the wedge salad is a classic that was enjoyable. Not so great: gummy lobster bisque and defrosted steaks that were tough and overcooked despite a request for "medium rare." On another evening, to avoid the frozen steak, I ordered rotisserie chicken, which was dry and tough. Again, beware of the extra charges beyond the $25 cover - it's $10 more if you want that frozen lobster tail with your frozen filet mignon. Sushi Bar: If you like sushi this is actually one of the better dining venues aboard the Sun. Although the fish isn't fresh, the hand rolls are well prepared and suitably spicy. Service staff are attentive and pleasant, a rarity on this ship. Pacific Heights: Perhaps the worst of the specialty restaurants. After a conversation with the Food & Beverage Manager, I was under the assumption that this venue had been closed - but what he really meant to tell me was that its partnership with the food magazine 'Cooking Light" has been terminated. And with good reason: the Tomato Soup is like a can of Campbell's with a spoonful of Cayenne Pepper thrown in, and the Mushroom Quesadilla, seemingly filled with instant guacamole and slimy canned mushrooms, is perhaps the vilest thing I have ever attempted to eat. After ordering drinks, our server told us that the 40-minute delay in their delivery was because "The bartender is in the bathroom." When he finally returned to our table 20 minutes later with appetizers, the waiter looked at us and scornfully said, "You switched places on me!" We had not. Buffet: Typical mediocre cruise-line buffet fare - nothing is great, nothing is horrid. Some tips: you don't have to form a single queue - go to the station that you want (there will be howls of protest, but the reality is, this was set up for diners to pick-and-choose from salads, entrees and desserts rather than follow one singular line). During peak lunch times, head out to the rear Great Outdoors area, which has a separate buffet queue featuring salads, burgers, and desserts. As part of the buffet breakfast in the Garden Cafe, waffles are cooked to order in the Pacific Heights venue, and there is virtually no waiting - probably because it is not advertised and you have to exit out of the buffet, head towards the Sports Bar and make a right to get there. You can also find freshly baked pizza (that is quite good) at Pacific Heights during the lunchtime buffet service. Entertainment: Live shows: The "Gaucho de la Plata" performance was awkward and uncomfortable - the male "Gaucho" performer became winded after his first bolo dance, then proceeded to make several homophobic jokes in a row. Separately, the "Jean Ann Ryan Dancers" are actually fairly talented...unfortunately the material they are tasked with performing (especially choreography during the Broadway-themed "Encore!" show) is clunky and uninspired. Their "Cirque du Pan" show, a faux "Cirque du Soliel" retelling of "Peter Pan" is the best performance of the lot - fun costumes, cute sets and some impressive gymnastics and aerial acrobatics. Bingo: The offering of every big cash prize came with an asterix: "$5000 Jackpot! *If you cover your card in 46 numbers or less." Isn't this a very low statistical possibility? Not even one guaranteed cash Bingo jackpot during a two-week cruise? Casino: Slot machines are like vacuum cleaners - 20 dollars on a 25-cent machine disappears in a flash. Tables were often empty, with dealers staring blankly and singing to themselves. The casino is closed while in Chilean waters (a significant portion of this itinerary), and it seemed to be primarily used as a indoor smoking lounge during inclement weather - the smoke is extremely heavy, with little or no ventilation. Shop: Despite a sign that excitedly proclaims "We have everything you need! Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Toothbrushes!" - the first two on that list were not stocked during the entire 14-day cruise. When asked, a shop assistant shrugged and said, "We don't carry toothpaste." Separately, several days before the end of the cruise, the store manager encouraged me to take advantage of the "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" port-themed t-shirt offer, because "They will not be available for remainder of the cruise." The shirts were observed on offer long after - in fact, all the way to the shop closing on the final night. Spa: I am an avid spa-goer, but having experienced the customer service levels throughout the rest of the ship, I opted not to partake of any spa treatments offered by the Mandara Spa. I do have one anecdote regarding the staff, however. My spouse approached the spa reception desk and inquired about getting a moustache trim in the salon (a service advertised on the salon menu). The receptionist told him "No, we don't do that." He walked away in frustration. A few moments later, I approached the desk and asked if it were possible to get my moustache trimmed. "Sure," the receptionist said, "when would you like to schedule an appointment?" Enrichment Lectures: Presented by Assistant Cruise Director "Szolt the Bolt," these featured sixth-grade level Power Point presentations on such topics and the indigenous peoples and the geology/geography of South America. He was unprepared to give the scheduled talk on whales and wildlife, so he showed a video about Alaskan whales instead. Excursions: Here are details on excursions offered by NCL: The Lagoon Bluff: Based on rave reviews, our party of four reserved this Falkland Island penguin rookery excursion via the NCL website more than six months in advance. Once aboard, we discovered that the Excursion Desk staff had switched two of us to a tour time that departed more than 30 minutes later. When I politely asked for the new time to be switched back so we could travel together, the manager of the Excursion Desk told me, "You can either take the tour separately, or give me the tickets back...we have plenty of people who want to take this tour." I told him that this was unacceptable and to make it right. He eventually did, but every time I saw him in the hallway, he averted his eyes and would not speak to me. Torres del Paine: A very long day that begins in Punta Arenas and includes a bus ride to the airport, a flight in a rickety Cessna plane (the windshield de-icers did not work and the pilot flew blind for more than 15 minutes of the 40-minute trip), a three-hour bus ride around the national park, a great Chilean lunch overlooking a stunning vista at a lake, and a repeat flight on said rickety Cessna. Embarrassingly expensive at just over $1000 per person - NCL should be ashamed at the premium charged for this tour, which ought to cost $500 tops. All that being said, the beauty of Torres del Paine cannot be overstated. Torres is a must-see destination that would be one of the high points of any visit to Chile. Lake Esmeralda and Petrohue Falls: A scenic excursion as advertised, but expect to share your catamaran ride on Lake Esmeralda with 400 other guests, and just try to get a solitary moment (let alone walk on the trail) at the falls as 7 to 8 buses release their passengers simultaneously. Lunch, served at an estancia, was very good, and featured as an entree some of the best salmon I have ever tasted. In Buenos Aires, Peninsula Valdes, Ushuaia and Valparaiso / Santiago we used private tour guides that were friendly, informative and significantly cheaper than NCL excursions. If you are interested in contact information, please send me a private message and I will be happy to share details. Bottom Line: Our 14-day cruise around South America on the Norwegian Sun was a memorable one - the vibrancy of Buenos Aires and Santiago are thrilling, and the natural beauty of Patagonia is incomparable. Despite obtaining a significantly discounted rate by booking via the NCL website more than a year in advance, the nickel-and-diming that we experienced on the Norwegian Sun made this the most expensive cruise we have ever taken (yes, surpassing even a trip on the luxury line Crystal Cruises). And unfortunately, our memories of the ship are plagued by visions of incompetency and ineptitude that would be laughable if they hadn't cost us a considerable amount of money to experience. "Do you have any money left? No? Ha ha!" - Cruise Director Pedro Cera, emceeing the final show of our cruise in the Stardust Theater. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was a most disappointing cruise, but had the potential of being a wonderful trip with proper management. We booked through Grand Circle Travel. Not only does the quality of the food need to be improved, but the manner in which ... Read More
This was a most disappointing cruise, but had the potential of being a wonderful trip with proper management. We booked through Grand Circle Travel. Not only does the quality of the food need to be improved, but the manner in which people are accommodated when they are served. We ate at the Garden Cafe often. Sometimes this was done because of time constraints. About half of the time, after we had filled our plates, there was no room and we carried our plates to the sports bar and on the deck. The schedules for the Cafe were not adjusted according to port hours. So, if we hit a port at 7:00 in the morning, the Cafe was overwhelmed because there was basically no where else to eat at 6:30 in the morning. Also free drinks were served to all passengers in one hour in one area which was chaotic. It would be better to not offer the free drinks at all if management can not determine how to do it in an orderly manner. There was also excessive wait time for disembarking on numerous occasions. The shows were mediocre to poor except for Fabio Zini, Cirque Pan, and the Argentinean Folkloric Dance Show. The moderator was constantly asking for applause. Our thought was that if the show or act deserved applause, we would give it. The lectures on the ports by the English couple were the highlights of our time on board. We also appreciated the Spanish classes. A special night highlighting local foods from Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay would have added to an immersion into the local cultures. The constant sales pitches both verbally and on paper were annoying. They were a turn off. The lack of local crafts, books about the areas being visited, and postcards for sale in the shops on board, was unbelievable. It seemed as if the cruise lines didn't care about our itinerary. We could have been going around in circles in the middle of the ocean. In fact, by accident, we discovered that a log book and tourist guide plus postcards were hidden behind the front desk. The excursions were extremely overpriced. In one case, a walking tour in Montevideo that cost $59 per person through NCL, cost only $60 total for four people with an excellent private tour guide. Only two of the four excursions we took were even near to being worth the price. We missed two ports out of seven because we had food poisoning at Puerto Montt and because passengers were not allowed to disembark at the Falkland Islands on a beautiful reasonably calm day. On this day the ship had too many sick passengers. When we had food poisoning, the medical staff was responsive and treated us immediately, even in the middle of the night. Other staff made sure we sanitized our hands but they failed to clean the tables we ate on or change the table cloths. We had to ask that our table be cleaned numerous times and sometimes just gave up on asking to have them cleaned. One of the highlights of the trip was being able to have a banana every day. Three of our ports are not on your list below. These are Puerto Chacabuco, Punta Arenas, and Puerto Madryn. Chacabuco was very rural but interesting when viewed from the bus. The area visited in Aiken del Sur Park was lead by a well qualified guide, but we didn't see much of it. The walk was very short. Time would have been better spent taking a local bus to Puerto Aisen and exploring it on our own. It would have been a chance to meet the local people. At Punta Arenas, we took the excursion to Andino Park, a skiing area. The lifts, questionable on the safety end, took us to the top of the hill for a great view of the surrounding area including the city. We were led in an energetic two mile hike down to the club lodge for snacks. We loved seeing the ski area and stretching our legs with a short hike. Afterwards, we had time to walk around town to see the historical sites, visit a department store, and eat lunch before boarding the ship again. Puerto Madryn was also somewhat isolated but a fairly large city. We took the excursion to Peninsula Valdes, a nature reserve listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The trip was long but rewarding. We got to see the sheep estancias as well as much wildlife. Again, I wish that we could have spent more time in port so that we could have experienced the city itself. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My wife and I sailed on the Norwegian Sun along with 5 other couples. This is the short version of what was wrong with this ship and cruise line. First the ship. It was a nice looking ship that needed a makeover. It was starting to show ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Norwegian Sun along with 5 other couples. This is the short version of what was wrong with this ship and cruise line. First the ship. It was a nice looking ship that needed a makeover. It was starting to show signs of aging, but nothing terrible. The food on board was soso to bad, depending on where you ate. They use an enormous amount of salt in the cooking preparation on a ship with mostly elderly people. They entertainment was almost amateurish. The worst part was the dinning experience in the Buffet for Breakfast every morning. Elderly people would be walking back and forth with trays in hand, looking for a seat a table to sit at. But there were very few available. The reason was simple, there were people sitting at the tables playing games, reading or just socializing. They stayed for long periods of time without eating. They say Americans are rude, Baloney these were people from Germany, and they couldn't care less that a 80 year old lady couldn't find a table to eat at. The Crew was just as useless. They acknowledged the fact that people were sitting at tables that should be there, but they refused to say anything to them for fear of offending them. ( It was company policy not to ask them to move.) With a Company that cares so little about its customers, and so many other cruise lines, Why would you ever want to go on NCL? The Ship itself is a SICK ship. Many people had intestinal viruses. The ship was so bad that one of the ports refused to let the ship dock. We had to leave and just sail for another day. Boy o Boy we were so happy to receive a credit for the port taxes. You spend $15,000 to fly and then cruise to South America and you can get off the ship at one of the most important ports. When we finally left the ship in Buenos Aires, We found that they had completely broken off a wheel on a Brand New Expensive suit case. We are still waiting to hear from the company about our claim. Stay Away from NCL they stink. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our first Norwegian cruise; but we are experienced cruisers having enjoyed Princess, Regent, and Royal Caribbean in the past.  I learned that FREESTYLE Cruising means, free of taste in the dining rooms, free of all your money in ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian cruise; but we are experienced cruisers having enjoyed Princess, Regent, and Royal Caribbean in the past.  I learned that FREESTYLE Cruising means, free of taste in the dining rooms, free of all your money in the bars, and free of memorable experiences when you get home.  They are bunglers in every department.  The embarkation was painful and very disorganized in Valparaiso.  They just tell you what to do but don't tell you why.  The ship is adequate and pretty clean.  Our cabin with a balcony was small but organized.  However, they haven't upgraded the TV's in 10 years and they only get a few stations which was hard when there were days and days at sea.  The ship charges you $12 per person per day for gratuities, so nobody on the ship had to work very hard because their tips were assured.  It is pretty disheartening.  I never saw such a bunch of sad-sacks, unhappy servers, cross faces and bad attitudes.  They were just not memorable crew members.  The nicest person I enountered was a brand new manicurist in the spa who actually spoke to me and I actually tipped her.  The crew in charge of the desks, the computers, etc. were extremely rude most of the time, arrogrant and just not friendly or willing to serve.  The computers are a big JOKE.  OLD, no memory, very poor connection speed, gummed up keyboards, and highway robbery rates- $1.00 a minute while you waited for them to connect.  It was sad.  Nobody used the casino because the machines were rigged.. I mean the casino was EMPTY most of the time, even at night.  There were a couple of awesome ports on this trip- but the ship bused us to one town 20 minutes away and charged us $10 each and there was nothing to do there on a Sunday nor any excursions.  In the evenings the ship did have good entertainment, I thought.  We really hated the food in general and besides a lack of portion size, it was just odd and nothing memorable.  The buffet was poorly structured and you couldn't walk around it at prime times and if you did manage to get a plate of food.. you couldn't find a table.  They've really got some problems in that area.  We just ended up with room service as you could get served.   I am definitely not going to go on any more cruises with Norwegian as Princess and Royal do a better job.  This ship could use some upgrades.  Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We had a good time sailing aboard the Norwegian Sun around the tip of South America. Since we're used to sailing smaller ships we booked a suite to get special treatment (given the lower cost and larger number of passengers to ... Read More
We had a good time sailing aboard the Norwegian Sun around the tip of South America. Since we're used to sailing smaller ships we booked a suite to get special treatment (given the lower cost and larger number of passengers to compete with for services) aboard the Norwegian Sun. Suite was enormously large given what we had experience before. Unfortunately it was at the back of the ship and you could feel the engines when we were sailing - especially when starting out and reaching port. We also picked NCL because we wanted free style cruising - no fixed dinner time and no need to lug formal wear on a cruise. Staff on the ship was generally friendly and good; their English language skills were generally satisfactory. We had a concierge who was very helpful and a butler who we rarely saw once we were underway. With a suite, there was also a private dining room for breakfast and dinner, but we were with friends so couldn't always use it and when we need a quick meal to get ready for a tour off the ship the service was too slow. We could order snacks (crudite, cheese and crackers, soft pretzels, chocolate covered strawberries, etc.) for the suite and often did so for small parties with our friends before dinner. The food on the ship was nothing to write home about with the exception of the steak and French restaurants. To be fair, we did not eat Japanese and someone had told us that they got ill on the sushi. There were nights at dinner when rather than having to pick from several choices that I wanted, I found it hard to find something that I'd enjoy (and I'm an only modestly picky eater). Service at dinner was good but not excellent. Breakfast was always crowded especially on port days. It was often hard to find some place to sit, especially as we headed south and it got too cold to eat out of doors on the deck. Breakfast food selection was fine but buffet style so avoid pancakes that may have been siting out a while. After leaving Montevideo, orange juice taste severely deteriorated to point where we sometimes splurged for fresh squeezed juioe (standard on the smaller ships we were accustomed to) or had not OJ at all. Once we got to Chile, this problem disappeared. Logistics on the ship were not well handled. Very long lines to get onto ship. Bags in our NCL booked hotel before cruise needed to be out the night before even though we didn't board until 2 PM the following day and we saw them take the bags to the ship around noon. There were long lines to tender off the ship and especially back on the ship. We tracked the ship of another cruise line on the cruise and while we waited on long lines in port, they always seemed to be able to waltz back the tender without a wait. At one port, in the rain, the had us off the ship between 30-45 minutes before the buses arrived, so basically we were outside in bad weather with little cover. At another port our tender captain took the better part of 15+ minutes to secure the boat once we were at the dock. It was like a beginning driver trying to park for the first time - really incompetent. We took lots of side excursions and I'll list them with comments. Also on other cruises, information about ports and showing what and where we would see we done more professionally. The material on NCL was really inadequate. It would have been nice for someone describing what we were seeing going around Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel and Straights of Magellen. We experience this aboard Regent ship in Alaska and it was really nice to have. Montevideo: We took a highlights of Montevideo tour which was half of day and gave us an overview of the city. Not sure, if you are Spanish fluent, you couldn't do better on your own. Puerto Madryn: I don't think there is much to do in town, so we took a tour to Valdes Peninsula. We spent a long time going to and returning from there with a relatively small amount of time (relative to travel time) seeing wildlife. Lunch was in a small restaurant which was clearly unable to handle the tour crowds and the food wasn't good. My suggestion, find something else at this port. Stanley: We took the Lagoon Bluffs tour which was one the highlights of the trip. You take a bus a short ride (nothing is very far on the island) and transfer to 4 wheel drive vehicles to drive over peat down to the shore. It's an exciting ride over rutted ground. Upon arrival there is time to see a large penguin colony and have an included snack at a building by the shore. Lovely cakes and a hot drink hit the spot. Not all ships get into Stanley because of weather (primarily wind which interferes with tendering). We were lucky because the weather was pleasant and calm. Following Stanley we sailed around Cape Horn and again weather was very good. Amazing site especially when you realize you are actually at the tip of South America. The ship had a ceremony to anoint folks to celebrate the occasion if you're into that sort of thing. Ushuaia: We took a tour of Tiara Del Fuego National Park. Scenery was nice but not as spectacular as one might expect. This was only a partial day tour, perhaps a longer one would have taken us closer to the Andes. Town was a shopping venue if you wanted to avoid a tour. Sailing the Beagle Channel and Straights of Magellan were spectacular and very similar to what one might see on an Alaska inland passage cruise. Leaving the Straights of Magellan was one of the few times we had rougher weather at sea. Nothing terrible. One other ship did hit bad weather at this location - dinnerware thrown around and so forth. Punta Arenas: We took two tours here. The first morning tour was to Otway Sound which has another large penguin colony (yes we were in to penguins) and it was a really nice experience. It was not a tour I would have wanted to do in really bad weather but once again we got lucky. Afternoon tour was of Punta Arenas itself but not worth the time. Shopping in Punta Arenas was very good, especially in the main square in town. I bought a pretty wool sweater for about $15. If you wanted several you probably could have gotten per sweater price lower. They're not top quality, but $15! Other local handicraft were available also. Puerto Chacabuco: This port is NOT ready for the big time. We took the Puerto Chacabuco & Surrounding tour which was a waste of money. But not sure what one would do at this port if you didn't take a tour. Puerto Montt: Some pretty scenery on Petrohue Falls and Lake Esmeralda tour. There was also a boat ride. Only problem is that the things we visited were very crowded and bus logistics not well handled. Santiago and Valparaiso: We took an all day tour since our flight home from Santiago was in the late evening. Tour is called Santiago and Vina del Mar, and it fit the bill. We saw the sights had a snack and lunch and were dropped efficiently, for once, at the airport. Only problem is they dropped us at 5 PM and airline only opened lines for boarding passes et al an hour later. So the lines were very long and there was no place to sit. Everyone had their luggage with them, so as you can imagine it was a madhouse. In summary, although we had a good time, I would think twice before booking on NCL again. Smaller ships may be more expensive but experience is better. We may not take as many cruises but will enjoy them more. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
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