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87 Norwegian (NCL) South America Cruise Reviews

We stayed @ th El Conquistador hotel in Buenos Airies. It was very conveniently located for walking around, close to the square , many restaurants & not too far, 10 min taxi ride to the port. We were there for 2 nites. When we got to ... Read More
We stayed @ th El Conquistador hotel in Buenos Airies. It was very conveniently located for walking around, close to the square , many restaurants & not too far, 10 min taxi ride to the port. We were there for 2 nites. When we got to the pier , it was very busy & seemed confusing but when we foun NCL it was a piece of cake.Because there had been some illness on board on the last sailing we were informed about this & given the option of getting a refund, which I thought was very admirable of them. It was very well organized & we were on board before we knew it. We got there early, so that may have been why it wasn't that busy. Of course the cruise line has no control over the port where all the confusion was. I felt very welcomed on beard & this also went very well. We had champagne in hand & our room keys & we were happy. Thought there would be some fanfare leaving the port, so were a little disappointed we slipped away almost without knowing. We were 3 sharing so found the room a tad small, but very clean & stewards did a good job. I know everyone was complaining about the buffet, & I have to agree.Not enough variety & seating was really a problem (only for breakfast mostly). More variety & a menu reflecting where we were would have been more interesting.. Of course if the weather was better there was lots of seating outside. Meals in the 2 main restaurants were good. Las Rambas was good. Entertainment was not bad. I thought it was great the way they switched back & forth from english to spanish The tours were very well organized. If you had a tour you got off the ship very quickly. The tendered ports weren't that great, they were a little slow. The disembarkation went very smoothly. If I took another cruise I would use their airlines to better co-ordinate flight times Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Norwegian Sun Repositioning Cruise November, 2009 November 1 & 2, 2009 We stayed at the Radisson at Fisherman's Wharf. Small rooms but clean and strategically placed near the Wharf and only ½ mile from Pier 35 where ... Read More
Norwegian Sun Repositioning Cruise November, 2009 November 1 & 2, 2009 We stayed at the Radisson at Fisherman's Wharf. Small rooms but clean and strategically placed near the Wharf and only ½ mile from Pier 35 where the Norwegian Sun docks. An IHOP next door for inexpensive food. Had a great night dinner on Columbus Avenue at an Italian Restaurant offering a red long stemmed rose for every woman and a complimentary glass of wine for each person. Starbucks is about 4 blocks away from the Hotel. November 3 - Embarkation at Noon We arrived at 11 am and with bags on rollers took our luggage in with us. Mostly older retirees handling all the check in and they didn't know any more about what was going on than what they had been told. All passports collected and we would never receive them back until the end of the cruise..something about customs in Chile. Be aware that if you miss the boat at one of the ports (and the Captain left early several times) you are not only stranded in a foreign country but you have NO PASSPORT..double trouble! They do not hold the boat if you are late on a tour that is not booked through the ship. 76 Degrees and a beautiful sunset into the Ocean as we sailed out of port under the Golden Gate bridge to start the Cruise. This cruise was 100% full (due to low price). Some travel agencies had special deals on Staterooms if you booked airfare and shore accommodations as well. Otherwise, no upgrades available. WEATHER: You will get everything on this trip. Hot north of the Equator and cooler with clouds south due mainly to the cold Humbolt Current that runs up the West Coast of Chile and Peru. FOOD: The Garden Cafe buffet is a zoo full of people. Lots of rather tasteless food that appeals to people who prefer bulk to taste. Due to its extended hours, it ends up being the default dining room for those who are late for breakfast. A number of people eating in this restaurant are rude and pushy. The main dining rooms are not a problem and the food (and certainly the service) is a little better than the Garden Buffet but still seemed rather tasteless to me. The Italian Restaurant is OK but food not very good and the rib eye steak others have raved about was thin and stringy when our group ate there. The Bistro is excellent. Appetizers in Las Ramblas are good as is lunch. Pacific Heights is a little known free specialty restaurant for dinner and lunch (lunch specials of fresh cooked to order pasta) and is fine. No surcharge here. Coffee at speciality coffee bar is sour and bad. Need better quality and fresher coffee beans. Entertainment: It varies. The Mexican Band in Acapulco was awful. Violins sounded like a rusty gate echoing through a drainpipe! On the other hand the Ventriloquist and Magician were funny and excellent. Jean Ann Ryan Co. Not bad but have seen much better on other cruises. Service: As usual, some room stewards are excellent, others don't seem to care. Only a few on the boat fell into the later category but if you have a bad one, it can ruin your trip so make sure the management knows if you have trouble. The $12 per person per day service fee is mandatory. PORTS: Mazatlan: You don't have much time in this port. We declined the Ship Tours and took a taxi into the main town. Ask the price first. The taxi drivers at the ports are very pushy and demand a tip at the end of the journey. The taxis outside the cruise terminal are less expensive than inside but near the terminal all are priced in US Dollars. You can walk around the old town easily in a short while, then have a beer and lunch in the square and catch a cab to the Zona Dorado (Hotel Zone) for some shopping and swimming on the beach (the water is warmer here than around the equator). Cost was 50 pesos a cab + tip. Better prices using pesos but have to get away from the pier. We were a party of six and found out your best deal is to hail a Red Truck taxi which has facing bench seats under a canopy in the truck bed at back and can take 8 for the price about the same as renting one taxi..very good bargain! We hailed one and had it wait while we shopped (that costs extra for a taxi) and then back to the ship (2 hours total) for 80 pesos +tip. Driver cranked up the stereo with a CD of the old 70s songs (CCR, etc.) and we sang all the way back to the boat. Acapulco: Fort/Museum is just opposite the Cruise Ship dock. Walking out past the throng of tour hustlers outside he terminal we were adopted by an Official Tourist Guide (showed us his plastic credentials hanging around his neck). His name was Juan Antonio..about 65 years old, very pleasant, said the City hires people like him to provide free walking guide services and he expected no payment. Showed us all around the Fort Museum (very nice). We walked through the centre of town, saw Cathedral and shopping area and then walked 5 blocks up over the hill to see the cliff divers at 1 pm. Had lunch and a beer at El Mirador ($16 US each) that included a great view of the 6 divers (which our guide arranged). Have the fish in butter and garlic or breaded..great if you like white fish. While the rest of our group went shopping the guide took us on the Yellow Bus (better quality and has a/c) for 7 pesos each to the beach south of town past the large flag for swimming and all he asked was that we paid his bus fare. Tipped him $15 for our share (of the group) and he was most appreciative. $5 to rent an umbrella, table and chairs on the beach and for that the waiter looks after your stuff for you. You need an umbrella because at that time of year it is 89 degrees in Acapulco and quite humid. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala: We had arranged in advance for Elizabeth Bell's Antigua Tours LLC. www.antiguatours.net to give us a walking tour of Antigua and arrange a shuttle Van to pick us up at the port and return us to the ship afterwards. $70 per person paid in advance by credit card. What a wonderful experience! Alex gave us a great tour (not much walking). Told us all about his country, people, politics and history of the town. We learned about the Mayan culture, climate, UNESCO administration of Antigua, etc. Saw the cathedral and museum and he explained the architectural challenges of building in an earthquake zone all in a very comfortable United States accent obtained from his University education in the U.S.. Shopped at the Jade Factory. After we went to his restaurant "Fusion" just three blocks from the main square..FANTASTIC FOOD of organic salads (caesar salad is to die for), cold beer, wine for some of us and the special Risotto with Frutti del mare (fresh shrimp, calamari and local white fish). Lots of other items on the menu and at that time of years we had the restaurant all to ourselves. All salads are safe to eat (all washed in purified water) and he uses the same supplier as the ship for his produce. Can't recommend this restaurant enough! Shopping for textiles just around the corner too. Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Once again arranged our own tour by taking a tour bus of 20 people just past the port gates. $25 per person for 8 hours. Saw Puntarenas (not a very nice city..dirty and full of shanty buildings). Then on to the south through the Carara rain forest, saw the white faced monkeys and fed the lemurs, stopped to see the crocodiles, stopped for a roadside Sugar Cane drink freshly crushed for us, up to a large hilltop Hotel with a fantastic view of the "Swiss" countryside and the Pacific. Had time for a drink in a rainforest hotel, some shopping and a fresh seafood lunch at a roadside restaurant while the fishermen brought in buckets of fish right next to us. A very full day. 89 degrees and 95% humidity. Thank goodness the bus had air conditioning. Manta, Ecuador: For the first time on the trip the weather turned cloudy and cool after leaving Puntarenas with Thundershowers on the coast and huge lightening strikes in the distance. Manta unloading was a disaster mismanaged very badly by the ship personnel. They decided that due to fact we only had one gangway off the ship that day, they would only let the people on tours off the ship and held everyone else in line for upwards of 45 minutes while the tour people went first. Problem is they told no one about this plan until the crowd started becoming angry and in an ugly mood and a number of yelling matches ensued. Someone's job should be lost for this disaster not helped by the heavy handed way the staff treated the people who had patiently waited in line ("PEOPLE WOULD YOU JUST STAND BACK RIGHT NOW..I MEAN RIGHT NOW..BACK!"). We bargained for a two taxies just outside the port gates. Started at $25 per hour per cab and ended up with two older taxis with torn seat fabric but comfortable for $10 per hour each taxi. The drivers spoke only Spanish and it helped if you had a phrase book and dictionary but we managed to identify all the sights we wanted to see and see virtually everything that was on the ship's tour itineraries for $20 per person for a 6 hour tour. One of the best moments of serendipity occurred when we visited San Lorenzo past the dry forest and the Pacoche Rain Forest hill top down to the dry dusty town of San Lorenzo on a sandy beach. After three dead end streets, our drivers found a little restaurant they recommended called LA CUEVA run by Jorge and his wife right on the beach. Jorge was has a degree in Aquatics from an Ecuador University and speaks English very well. He has run a shrimp farm so he knows his fish. For $35 US he produced a large platter of breaded fried fresh popcorn fish, shrimp, calamari and large fresh garlic shrimp in the shell. Rice, french fires and fresh salad (safe to eat) and other menu items (hamburgers, chicken, etc.) are also available. Great Meal. All the while he gave us information about his country, the customs, people and geography. Superb! Highly recommended but hard to find. Only 30 minutes out of Manta down E-15. Too rough to swim that day but beach looks wonderful. LIMA, PERU: Very busy port and interesting city. We arranged a guide: Omar Amayar (omar.araya.tours@gmail.com) $40 each for a 3.5 hour tour with pick up and drop off at the Ship. We were impressed by the vibrancy of the city. Even the slums were not as bad as those we saw in Mexico. Pollution is bad however. Wish we had more time to look around. ARICA, CHILE: We were late coming in as there had been a death on board the ship and the Captain had to turn back to Lima. Arica is a delightful city (it helped that the sun was shining). They call it the city of perpetual spring. We were greeted at the dock by singers and the port workers cheered us into dock. Good shopping just outside the port gates with drum and violin entertainment and fair prices that were the same as further on in the City. Some people did their own tours by taxi or bus helped on by guidance from the tourist centre just beside the shopping plaza outside the port gates. 21 of May Street is where all the bars and action is located. COQUIMBO/ LA SERENA, CHILE We negotiated with a Van Operator just off the docks and for $30 each had a tour of the Elqui Valley, a Pisco Distillery, La Serena and Coquimbo. La Serena has a pretty White Marble shopping street and nice upscale shops. Many beggars some quite well dressed. We even were accosted by a young couple of teenagers at one stop who were nicely dressed and obviously not poor but thought that we should be giving them money. Young woman flipped us the bird as we departed after saying no to her request for money. VALPARAISO/ VINA DEL MARE, CHILE Our final port. Arranged a tour with Hector Medina's tour company http://www.private-guides.com/guide-in-chile/hector-chile-1239/ . His associate took us to Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and then we stopped at a winery in the Casablanca Valley on our way to our hotel in Santiago. He dropped us at our Hotel (Rio Bidasoa) and took the rest of the group on a brief tour of Santiago and then on to the Airport for the flight home. Our Hotel was very nice and in the excellent residential area of Providencia. One of the largest shopping malls in the Americas is nearby and we were able to see the Chileans doing what they love to do best...window shop. At that time of year it is spring in Chile and all the flowers are out. Lovely! The next day we had a full tour of Santiago for $100 each and were dropped at the airport for the flight home. Summary: Good way to see a number of countries in a short time and compressed schedule. The Good: Ship is comfortable and good choice of dining and entertainment. Leaves port on time and arrives early. Rooms clean and comfortable. No worries about bugs or tropical diseases in any of the ports or tours. The Bad: The "Pig Trough" all you can eat buffet filled with rude pushy people. Food at non-specialty restaurants looked attractive but had little taste (except for some of the soups). Ship sometimes leaves earlier so you are constantly worried your non-official tour will be late and the captain won't hold the ship up for you. Watch out for allergies because it is spring when you cross the equator. Both my wife and I developed bad cases of hay fever. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
For our first ever cruise, Norwegian Sun seemed like a good choice. We liked the Freestyle concept and of course the itinerary was exactly what we wanted. Fortunately we where travelling with some seasoned cruisers and the tips they gave ... Read More
For our first ever cruise, Norwegian Sun seemed like a good choice. We liked the Freestyle concept and of course the itinerary was exactly what we wanted. Fortunately we where travelling with some seasoned cruisers and the tips they gave us not only saved us a lot of money. It also helped get the most from the experience. Embarkation: We arrived a bit earlier than advised in our documents. This ended up being a good thing as we where near the head of the queue and on the ship quickly I think we where on one of the first transfer buses from customs.. The customs process for us was smooth and the check-in efficient. We where on the ship having a look around and drinking beers on the back deck in less than an hour. Seeing the Garden Cafe Buffet in it's pristine form for that first lunch was nice and never to be seen that way again. Exploring the ship was fun and seeing how it gradually filled up during the afternoon was kind of interesting. Our cabin was ready just after 1pm which we where quite excited to see. We splurged on a balcony cabin. Given the nature of the cruise I am glad we did. Thanks to previous Cruise Critic reviews we had a starboard cabin which was perfect for the glacier watching. The Cabin: The size and comfort of the cabin was amazing for first timers like us. It was so clean and the bathroom was spotless. The pressure from the shower was fantastic and the soap products provided where very nice. Our cabin stewards, Wayan and Clarke where very pleasant and always up for a chat, though unlike what I had read about constant attention, we only had the room serviced once a day and a turn down service if we wanted. I did hear that due to the downturn fewer stewards now had more cabins to service. We pre-paid our gratuities but still left a cash tip for the guys. The Ship: The whole ship was clean, the restaurants inviting and staff friendly. If I thought really hard I may be able to find things to pick at, but I don't want to think that hard. It was so nice as a whole. Food: Wow so much and the quality was so good. Up front I will say that I thought the surcharges of the specialty restaurants were over the top. Especially the Teppanyaki at US$25 each, we pay that for a good one in Sydney. The French Restaurant (Le Bistro US$15) was our favorite and we celebrated 2 birthdays there. IL Adagio (Italian US$10) next, had 2 meals there. East Meets West at US$20 each was nice but a bit steep. Plus they all had special items on the menu that also incurred and addition charge of US$10-20. We only dined in the Garden Cafe (or mess hall we called it) twice. Getting a table was just too hard and when the meals in the 7 Seas restaurant where so good and brought to you, why fight at a buffet. Breakfast in 7 Seas was unhurried with so many choices of egg dish you could have something different everyday. We used room service for breakfast on two shore days. It was cold but being delivered to the cabin at 6:15 am (with a warning call) made it easier to get going for the day. One night after a show and some dancing, we ordered a pizza. It showed up 45 minutes later stone cold. The Great Outdoor Cafe was good for burgers if lunch was missed. Pacific heights also had good Pizza and Pasta at lunchtime. On the last day of the cruise (which was sunny at last) they had a barbeque on the back deck which some notice or announcements about would have been nice. We found it during the dying stages and just got some nice steaks before they packed up In regard to the Garden Cafe table availability. We noticed many people seemed to set up camp there for the day. I guess if I had an inside cabin it would be a nice place to sit, so was the observation lounge which was usually near empty. During primary meal times, they should try and prioritize tables in the Garden Cafe for people actually eating. The food in all the restaurants was amazingly fresh given how long it had to be stored for. Sadly the wine list was so expensive we did not enjoy as much wine with the meals as we would have liked. As an example, Annies Lane AUD$12.99 was US$36 on the ship and one of the lower priced wines. It worked out better to but good wine on shore and pay the US$15 corkage, rather than the hyper inflated wine prices on the ship. Bars: Other than the first and last days it was too cold and windy to really enjoy the outdoor bars. But the sports bar and the Observation lounge gave great views and brilliant service. The staff got to know us and always made our group feel special. The enthusiasm to get us drinks did get tedious sometimes, especially where the staff did not know us. It was like a constant mission to sell and get the subsequent tip. While talking about tips, or gratuity, we supposedly prepaid, but when it comes to the "Autogratuity" for drinks, it seems that does not come under the all gratuities umbrella. All gratuities is only the cabin, not the bar which seems an odd definition of all and I am still working on that. But from what I can see the 15% "Autogratuity" is actually a drinks surcharge which you pay no matter how good or bad the service is (we had no bad service). Americans may be used to this sort of rip off, but it certainly rubbed us the wrong way. Entertainment: The shows in the Theatre that we saw where very good, though the design of the theatre leaves a bit to be desired. The supporting pylons downstairs wipe out the few for large chunks of seating. Bands where good, on the last night we found the Sun band in the Observation lounge played from 7:30 till 9:00 what a waste having them up there all alone during dinner time. There seemed to be a huge focus on trying to get people to play Bingo. We went once, but after seeing the pathetic prizes offered for a winning ticket (US$80 to US$120) we gave it a miss from then on. I am a non smoker and nearly died when I went into the casino. So that was out for me. I had to cover my mouth and get through fast every time we went through there. We did wine tastings, which where fun and at $15 let us sample a bunch of wines that we may not otherwise have tried. Not the expensive ones either. Shore Excursions: The shore excursion prices with NCL seemed a bit steep for us. So we took our chances on our own all but twice and where very happy with the results and the savings. Walking out of the port areas there where always taxis happy to negotiate a tour and a competitive rate and most of the followed the equivalent NCL tour. In Puerto Chacabuco we took an NCL tour (we had some doubt about the availability of port transport) that was very good though at US$100 each was an expensive one. The quality of the guide, Michelle and the lunch they gave us softened the sting of the high price. When we got back, some intrepid soles told us how the got a local bus to the same places we went for US$7 odd, just no guide and no lunch. In Puerto Montt we joined Jeremy and a bunch of other CC people for a brilliant tour of Puerto Veras guided by Jamie from PatagoniaShorex http://www.patagoniashorex.com/. Jeremy lined this up before the cruise and we where lucky enough to get some seats at the CC meet and greet at the start of the cruise. Toured the lakes district and had lunch at a small local restaurant. Thanks for organizing this Jeremy. Itinerary: It seems we where blessed with the weather. Only 1 rainy day at Puerto Montt, slight to moderate seas and comfortable temperatures. Even Cape Horn though windy was relatively calm it seems. We visited every port, including Stanley on the Falkland Islands (If the fish and chips at the Globe Tavern are the best on the Islands then either they are the only ones who do fish and chips, or the rest are really bad). The Museum and National trust houses are worth the walk too. I won't bang on too much about the other ports. They all had great things to see and do. More time in Ushuaia would have been better value than the long day spent in Punta Arenas (to cater for the outrageously expensive Arctic Flight???). Photos: For our first cruise, we had to buy the embarkation photo. But after that at US$20 a pop or US$25 for the digital file I could not justify anymore. Going by the thousands still on the wall on the last day, not many others could either. What a waste.. Surely sensibly priced prints, files or cruise packages would see people happy to buy the photos. Not waste the resources as is done currently and make NCL more money than they would have to be making now?? Disembarkation: There was no express option at Valparaiso so we chilled out and waited for our color to be called. It all worked well. You can read about our pre and post cruise hotels at Trip Advisor I do want to mention Hector from Hector Travel Service http://www.infohub.com/travel_company/17748.html. We found him after we had arranged transfers but after doing a couple of tours with him and his associates, I wish we had arranged the whole Valparaiso / Santiago end with him. It would have been more time and cost effective to look around and stay in Valpo for a night then move to Santiago for a look around. Hector could have arranged that for us. Hope this helps you future cruisers. Overall happy with the Sun. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Reservations: I booked myself & 3 other couples which made us a small group of 8. I escorted the group and was responsible for most aspects of the cruise. I was shocked & dismayed when I booked two cabins as a guarantee category G ... Read More
Reservations: I booked myself & 3 other couples which made us a small group of 8. I escorted the group and was responsible for most aspects of the cruise. I was shocked & dismayed when I booked two cabins as a guarantee category G with the expectation that we would be likely to be upgraded since there was widespread availability on the ship when I did so. I booked a 3rd cabin for one of my group 3 days later and found out that the two guarantee reservations had already been assigned even though the ship was sailing in about 50 days, and there was still widespread availabilty in most categories. I had been assigned cabin 4001, the most far forward in category on the lowest deck which I consider to be the worst outside cabin on the ship. Through persistence on my part, I had a supervisor change the two guarantee category G cabins to EE cabins on deck 6. I had numerous conversations with the sales rep about this seemingly fraudulent guarantee policy which assigned cabins almost immediately instead of assigning cabins much closer to the sailing date which has been my experience on every other cruise line I have sailed with. She told me that their policy was to assign guarantee cabins at their discretion and could assign them at any time after booking. She even sent me the rules for booking guarantee categories. She said that NCL only guaranteed that we would have cabins assigned at our guarantee level, and there was no guarantee of an upgrade. I realize that, but to be assigned the worst cabin (in my opinion)in a category within days of a booking, is not a real guarantee since there is no real expectation of an upgrade. The sales rep told me after she checked with NCL corporate in Miami that nothing could be done for me even up to the day prior to the cruise. Prior to the cruise: Arrival in Santiago one day prior to the cruise: We stayed at the Radisson Empresarial for the night which we booked ourselves for $94 per room. It was comfortable, and the service was good. I arranged for a private tour for my group with Cristobal Yanez of Chile About (www.chileabout.com) (info@chileabout.com). The afternoon tour of Santiago was good one with Willy as our guide. The cost per person was $35. Next day, Chileabout provided transfers for us from Santiago to Valparaiso. Willy was the guide again. The cost of transfer for us and our luggage as well as a tour of Valparaiso & Vina del Mar was $56 per person. We arrived at the ship at 1:45 in time to check in and enjoy lunch aboard at the Garden Cafe. The embarkation process went fairly smoothly. We were able to board the ship within about 45 minutes & enter our cabin. Ship personnel were helpful and organized throughout the process. Cruising exeriences: Day 1 At sea: A glorious day to leave Valparaiso weatherwise. It was a beautiful city as we sailed away. Each evening my group of 8 ate together in the Seven Seas dining room. MEALS: Dinner at the Seven Seas was uniformly well prepared and very tasty throughout our cruise. However, the service was spotty and inconsistent. We had some excellent servers and some who seemed to be not well motivated to provide high quality service. For example, some nights we were quite rushed to complete dinner prior to the 9:30 show even though we were seated by 7:45 each day. On at least 4 nights, there was no offer of a beverage (coffee or tea) after the entree was served. For breakfast, I was surprised that a bar waiter came around offering fresh squeezed orange juice for $2.50 extra. I would think that would be complimentary if requested by the guests. Guests in my group found the pancakes very small. One day for breakfast it took me 40 minutes to get a glass of pineapple juice, an English muffin, and a cup of herbal tea despite the fact that the other 5 people at the table were served their orange juice, fruit plates, bagels, cereal, and eggs before I was served any of the 3 modest items I had ordered. I had to ask the waiter several times when no food or beverage appeared. I finally asked the maitre-d what the problem was with the service. After that the waiter was more solicitous and hurried to make up for his lack of service. Excellent servers at other meals were Reynaldo & Ika We ate breakfasts & lunches in the Seven Seas or the Garden Cafe primarily. The Garden Cafe provided a substantial amount of choice, and the food was prepared & presented well despite the fact that the Garden Cafe was a very busy place on many occasions. Tables were cleaned fairly promptly to allow other dinners to find tables without too much difficulty. Day 2: At sea: We played trivia every day as a group and enjoyed the experience, though some of the answers the ship provided were wrong. The staff was friendly & enhanced our enjoyment of the process every day. Ynochka & Pedro were good hosts. Bingo was also fun with the exception of the computerized games which took a great deal of the fun away from the traditional bingo where guests manually played their cards instead of passively watching the computerized screen. A highlight for me and several of my companions were the lectures - especially the photography expert, Ernie Pick. It was something we looked forward to every sea day. He was knowledgeable & entertaining. The historians aboard also presented informative lectures, which several of us enjoyed during our cruise. Day 3: Puerto Montt I arranged a private tour with GV Tours for 10 people. (info@gvtours.com) (gvstein@surnet.cl). The cost was $75 per person to be paid in cash. The tour with Michael was wonderful as we saw Fruitillar, Lago Llanquihue, Osorno Volcano, Puerto Varas, Vincente Perez Rosales National Park & Petrohue Waterfall. We also stopped for an included lunch and met with the owner Gail Stein. We were to meet our tour at 8:30, but we couldn't leave the ship until about an hour late. This was despite the fact that I had spoken with the ship's group coordinator, Yahira, who gave me tender tickets & told me we would be ashore by 8:30. Day 4: Puerto Chacabuco: We all arranged for the NCL tour of Patagonia Nature In Depth. Fernando, our guide, did not provide much information after his initial talk upon arriving in the park. Several of our group asked him to provide more information, but he was always too concerned that we arrive at the lunch place in time. We actually were one of the earlier groups to arrive for lunch. My wife and another guest in our group filed a complaint with the shore excursion personnel aboard the ship saying they wanted Nature in Depth & not just a walk in the woods & were refunded 15% of the cost of the tour. Day 5: Sailing through the fjords was cold and nasty as we started through the fjords. We went past the glaciers too early since the sun hadn't risen yet. So, it was dark & dreary as many of the passengers were freezing on deck. Plus there were poor conditions to photograph what should have been a signature travel day. Later in our passage, as the sun rose, the scenery became easier to see & enjoy. I would strongly recommend that for the photographers aboard that a passage through the fjords after the sun was up would have been much better. Day 6: Cruise through the Straits of Magellan: there were rough seas & several of my group were not feeling well. The scenery was great to see, and we enjoyed being on deck to see Chile's marvelous beauty. Day 7: Punta Arenas: Two of my group did a tour of Punta Arenas with Chile About with Francesa as the guide. It was a private tour, $73 per person. They came back raving about their experience. The rest of our group walked around the city - shopped, saw the sights, and went to the internet cafe near the cathedral. Day 8: Glaciers & Beagle Channel sailing, Ushuaia: We all did the ship's tour of the Beagle Channel on a catamaran & a visit to the National Park. This was our favorite day of the cruise. The weather was ideal, & we loved the chance to get up close to the animals as we sailed through the Beagle Channel. We even saw a whale in the channel. Day 9: Cape Horn: This day was rough as the weather was nasty. But it was quite an experience for us to sail around the Cape as the sun rose. Day 10: Stanley, Falkland Islands: 6 of our group walked around the island & the port of Stanley, shopping and seeing the sights. Two of our group chose to do the Stanley sightseeing from NCL. They enjoyed the experience. Princess Anne was in residence on that day, & we think she flew in a helicopter around our ship. Day 11: Sea day: We did the usual on board,trivia, bingo, lectures, & leisurely enjoyed the day at sea Day 12: Puerto Madryn: Another guest arranged a private tour which was $58 per person, plus $15 per person to enter the National Park. We saw Peninsula Valdes, Calleata Valdes, & Punta Norte. We saw sea lions, an orca, & penguins. The road was rough since we traveled 2 & 1/2 hours over mostly gravel roads. We were very unhappy with the guide and driver since we told them when we first started that our primary goal was to see the penguins. They gave us much too much time at the visitor center and Punta Norte then said the driver was concerned that we would get back too late if we went to the penguins. We insisted and said we would give up lunch and spend less than 10 minutes at what was supposed to have been our highlight. We got to the penguins with many other tours and made it back to the ship with an hour to spare. I feel the guide and driver just didn't want to bother - figuring lunch was easier for them. It was very disappointing, and everyone was stressed with the timing of the tour and our concern that we could even miss the ship's sailing time. Day 13: At sea day: Day 14: Montevideo: A private tour was arranged with msmtaiz@hotmail.com - our guide was Yanilla. The cost was $45 per person to be paid in cash. The tour was great. We covered much of Montevideo on our 7 hour tour. I highly recommend this tour. Montevideo was a famulous city with so much to offer. Day 15: Buenos Aires: We again had difficulty disembarking. There were extremely long lines again to leave the ship. I had arranged with Yahira, the group coordinator aboard, who assured me wy small group would be off between 8:15 - 8:30. We left the ship at 9:25. She apologized when I saw her as we left the ship and said the ship arrived later than expected. I arranged a private tour of Buenos Aires that was 7 hours. Our guide, Max, was great. We used Smart Choice (info@smart-choice.com.ar) Soledad was our contact. The cost per person was $55 & included a great & comprehensive tour of the city as well as storage of our luggage & later delivery of it to the airport. Entertainment: Overall we enjoyed the shows. The best shows were Mr. Producer & Que Noche. The last show, Cirque Pan, was overdone & disappointing. I think the company tried to do too much in the way of dancing, staging, and costumes. The company was very talented and proved that during each of their performances. We loved Bassilio, the funny & talented magician. The German Juggle Boy was entertaining as well as Elvy Rose, & a singer from the dance company. Stateroom: The stateroom was good with lots of storage space and a king-size bed. There was a couch that could function as an additional bed. The steward, Adolpho, was very efficient. Every request was treated quickly. Unfortunately, he had a dental problem and wasn't able to perform his duties for several days after his surgery. Other stewards filled in for him with the same quality of service. One issue came up with the laundry service which upset my wife. We sent a partial bag of laundry halfway through the cruise. Several hours after we did that, we received a notice that laundry sent in the next day, would be a full bag price - (we had only sent in a few necessary items a few hours prior). The ship's personnel said there was nothing they could do despite the fact the laundry had just been received that evening. Of course, after my wife was adament, they were able to send our bag back unwashed so we could add more items to it for the full bag price the ship offered that day. Summary: Overall we enjoyed the cruise. The itinerary was great. We enjoyed the ports we stopped in. It was great traveling with a group of 8. Most of us did not enjoy Free Style and though it worked for us because we were our own group, thought it would be a problem for people traveling by themselves. Every meal would be spent meeting new people and asking the same get acquainted questions without getting to know anyone or making friends with our dinner companions like we had on previous cruises. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
South America - Thank You NCL!! My wife and I, a Canadian couple in our mid 50's, took the two week South American cruise on the NCL Sun leaving Buenos Aires March 29th. WOW! It was our third NCL cruise in two years and second on ... Read More
South America - Thank You NCL!! My wife and I, a Canadian couple in our mid 50's, took the two week South American cruise on the NCL Sun leaving Buenos Aires March 29th. WOW! It was our third NCL cruise in two years and second on the Sun (same cabin, in fact). We spent 3 nights at the Buenos Aires Wilton Hotel ($75US/night including a light breakfast) located near Recoleta (corner of Callao and Santa Fe), a modest hotel with a fantastic location. On Sunday afternoon, after a short cab ride and long line-up, we boarded the ship. Previous reviews have noted (some extensively) issues relating to inconsistent service, food and long cafeteria line-ups. So, yes, not everything will be perfect. However, our overall impression was very favorable. NCL got us to some GREAT ports of call, managed to get to every stop (including the Falklands where the Captain waited out some bad weather to allow us the visit) and offered room and board for a pretty reasonable price. The scenery itself (volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls - gee NCL even showed us a rainbow while going round the Horn) was breathtaking enough to overshadow complaints about slow service or iffy meals. When an issue did come up with us, most were resolved by one of the ship's 3 Stars (sorry but we're Canadian and used to picking 3 stars after each hockey game), Rebecca Burns (Assistant Maitre'd), Yaharaira Fernandez (Group Services Manager) and Errol Bailey (Food and Beverage Manager) who took a sincere interest in providing effective customer service. These folks were top notch! Let's start. EMBARKATION - the one area that could be easily improved upon is to park the buses 5 or 10 feet further away from the buildings. People and their LUGGAGE are getting out of buses and taxis to get into a line-up for leaving the luggage. If there is a line-up and someone gets out on the wrong side of the busses, it means anxious people with luggage are trying to get by (in the opposite direction) people with luggage in the line. With the busses parked close to the building, it made that aspect more of a struggle than necessary. Otherwise, we arrived at the port around 12:30 and by 2:00 were changed, sitting by the pool and server Wendell had provided a cold bucket of beer. Life was good! Note: one of the reasons this cruise was soooo good was we had an active Roll Call Cruise Critics group. In the weeks leading up to the cruise, no less than 6 private excursions were organized and individuals had made arrangements to share cabs in several other ports. We arranged to meet our first CC passengers on the plane to Buenos Aires, met others on BA tours (pre-arranged) so by the Meet + Greet, already knew a dozen from the group we would be spending quite a bit of time with. Much better than showing up cold. Montevideo: we had pre-arranged to get a city tour with another CC couple. Our driver, Ricardo Wall ( wall.ric1@hotmail.com ) was waiting when we got off the ship (7:45) and went well beyond the agreed 5 ½ hours (at no extra charge). He drove us around the city, to the naval museum (remember the Graf Spee was scuttled in the waters off Uruguay), to a winery outside the city, numerous neighborhoods and then walked us through shopping areas and a local market. He stayed with us until almost 2:00. The cost was $37.50US pp (and well worth it). He made sure we were in a safe area several blocks from the ship and ensured we knew the way back (as we all wanted to take another stroll through the shopping area). Puerto Madryn: we had organized a day long van tour for 12 to Peninsula Valdes with Nievemar Tours ( www.nievemartours.com.ar ). They provided the van (which met us at the gangway), a driver and an English speaking guide (Roger) for the day tour at a cost of $45US pp. We paid the admission fee to the Peninsula ($45 Argentinean pesos - roughly $12US) ourselves. The tour was GREAT!! The office person, Andrea, was very good to deal with, the guide knew his stuff and the driver seemed to know exactly where the wildlife was. The tour was fantastic. The only drawback was the owner's policy of demanding 100%, non-refundable payment up front. He also expected (unreasonably, in my view) me to send copies of my credit card (both sides) and passport by non-secure e-mail. We ended up using Western Union (which added a $3pp cost). We got lucky - paid upfront and everything worked. Still, we didn't like the owner's approach. TIP: if you are taking a private group tour, it is easier to meet on the ship so you leave as a group. Falkland Islands: Thank you Captain Myra!! We had rough seas and high winds on the way to Port Stanley. Most of the passengers didn't expect to be able to get off the ship. However, the Captain, rather than abort, waited in the ocean for the weather to improve and, despite arriving an hour late, we set foot on the Falklands around 10:30. It was a dark, cloudy day with showers. We had nothing pre-arranged so we ended up sharing a cab (the driver was a native Falklander) with another couple for a two hour tour - cost $20US pp. Because of the short time and weather (which restricted visibility), we were only 10 or so miles outside of Port Stanley but it was interesting to see what sites we could. Then back to Port Stanley (light rain by then) for some souvenir shopping. We were pleased we got there and pleasantly surprised to find any type of tour. The Horn: Okay, this isn't a stop but has to be one of the reasons people take this cruise. Boy, were we lucky. Smooth seas, clouds giving way to sun, breezy but not a gale and (YES, we're telling the truth) a rainbow that seemed to end just off the aft of the ship. It was INCREDIBLE!!! Almost unbelievable, particularly as it was the last NCL South American cruise of this season. Ushuaia: This is a very short stop - 7:00 to 2:00 (meaning back on ship by 1:30). We had originally signed up for the $79 NCL tour to visit Tierra del Fuego park. However, because the tour didn't get underway until after 8:00, leaving no time to explore the city, we cancelled and made arrangements with a number of the CC folks to leave as soon as the ship cleared, visit the park and still have time to explore Ushuaia. So, in the dark, just after 7:00, fourteen of us were the first off the ship and by 7:30, were in a convoy of cabs ($30US pp) headed for a three hour tour. In fact, we were at Tierra del Fuego so early that we got in before they began charging admission. We were back in time to tour the Maritime Museum (which houses the prison) and have an hour to shop. Glacier Cruising: The reason for the early departure is to allow early time to see several glaciers while daylight. AMAZING!! Punta Arenas: we had pre-arranged a day long tour in Punta Arenas with Francesca Baldecchi (who also was our tour guide) of Patagonia-Trips (shoreexcursionspuq@gmail.com) for $45US pp. In the morning, we visited Fort Bulnes (the first Chilean settlement in southern Chile) along with some surrounding areas. Lunch was on our own and the afternoon was a tour of the city including the cemetery (which showed mausoleums of the various ethnic groups settled there). We also had time to visit a public market. Francesca was FANTASTIC. Tip: if you are doing a private group tour in a tendered port, see if the Group Services Managers will get you tender tickets so everyone can meet on ship and leave on the same tender. Puerto Chacabuco: this is a tendered port and a short stop. We took the $99 5 ½ hour NCL tour to Simpson Valley and Coyhaique. The scenery was great, the city was interesting and the snack (including pisco sours and wine) was tasty. Some CC roll call folks found 3 hour tours for $30 pp so there definitely were private options. Regardless, NCL did a fine job with this one. Puerto Montt: every stop was different. A large CC group took GV Tours ( www.gvtours.com ) at $75US pp. Well, put together 4 volcanoes, a lake, waterfall AND the nicest day of the season and you have an incredible time. In addition, they offered to take those who wanted to stay on instead of the port, an extra hour to visit the fish and craft market. We got off at the port, found an internet place ($1/hr) then shopped the stores near the port. Entertainment: we didn't see all the shows. A few were good (thin German juggler, Jean Ann Ryan productions), some were huge stinkers (the Italian magician) and some we left. Most of the time, many of the seats were empty, there were very few people standing to applaud at the end and, with a few exceptions, the applause was barely polite. NCL needs to improve this aspect - otherwise passenger spontaneous talent nights would outstrip most of the ship's entertainment offerings. Where's Chuck Barris when you need him?? Lectures: maybe the presenters know the contents but they sure were dry. I've heard eulogies delivered with more enthusiasm. Please NCL, if the presenters can't present, give someone else the free cruise! Food + Service: I'll be brief. When it was good, it was very good. Servers like Candito and Madelina set the bar high. Most times, the meal and service was fine. The few times it was bad, it made McDonald's look like a specialty restaurant (incidentally, Le Bistro was fantastic). Fortunately, there were more good times than bad. And I was very pleased with how Rebecca and Errol (remember the 3 stars) followed up each time. Tip: learn the different breakfast and lunch places so you can avoid the crowds in the Garden Cafe. For example, at lunch, Los Ramblas was a quiet - and not crowded - soup and sandwich spot. Disembarkation: very smooth unless you're trying to smuggle fruit. We (a group of 12) had arranged with Christian (christianroymx@hotmail.com) AKA the VAN MAN to pick us up, give us an area tour and take us to Santiago for a short tour and then either the airport or Hotel Orly. Cost $60US pp. The next day, he picked up those of us staying at the Orly, gave us a fantastic city tour and then took us to the airport. $40US pp. He didn't drop us in the parking lot - he walked us to the gate. So, bottom line, while there were some service issues, this was the cruise of our lives. NCL took us to the end of the world to amazing places we had only dreamed of. Had NCL not made the cruise affordable, we would not have been to Argentina, the Falklands, Chile and, above all, around the Horn. Thank you, NCL!! We purchased the NCL Cruise Rewards Certificate and can't wait to find another adventure. David and Cheryl Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We chose ncl because of the freestyle cruising. With young kids,the thought of eating when and where and with whom we liked appealed tremendously,and I cannot fault ncl with the freedom it allowed us. The ship was well maintained,clean ... Read More
We chose ncl because of the freestyle cruising. With young kids,the thought of eating when and where and with whom we liked appealed tremendously,and I cannot fault ncl with the freedom it allowed us. The ship was well maintained,clean and very comfortable. We had spent 4 nights in Buenos aires, staying at laprida suites, a very reasonably prices suite apartments in Recoletta. $ fun filled days with terrific tours, culminating in being dropped off at the dock on the Sunday,midday. Embarkation took about an hour or so,and was relatively painless. Luggage only arrived in our rooms about 5 hours later, a bit of a pain as kids wanted to swim. Relatively aggressive front desk staff handled our early queries re. fuel surcharge refunds etc, clearly on the first few days they deal with lots of aggro clients wanting free upgrades etc, so they are on their guard. Overall, I liked the Sun, but I must say.....a few negatives..one felt continuously hustled for extras..drinks are exhorbiatnt, shore excursions ridiculously overprices compared to what you can get them in he same ports for, and whats worse,they even go so far as to make the port information newsletters as useless as possible,with no relevant info re where to go,what it should cost etc, so be warned, plan ahead unless youa re happy to leave it to them and open your wallet...very wide! Continuos photo opportunities,but @ $20 per pic,no thanks. One wonders if they charged $5 per pic how many more they would sell..go figure! Dining was mediocre. The buffet (garden cafe) is the most popular,and was crowded,esp on cold days. A wide selection of mediocre food,but at least you cans see what you are getting. At the main restaurant (the 4 seasons) one gets the buffet main courses just plated more presentably,and served to you, with a few extra dishes on offer. If one is looking for calmer dining,the 7 seas aft restaurant is a very pleasant environment,but same food as 4 seasons. Ate at the steakhouse,$20 surcharge,not bad steaks but starters and desserts disappointing. Sushi was good, $15 surcharge. But best restaurant on the ship is il adagio, the Italian one. Very quiet,lovely menu,and only $10 surcharge. Las ramblas has some interesting tapas,and good nachos and salsa and Guacamole. The outdoor cafe has hamburgers,pizza and hot dogs at most of the times other restaurants are closed. Pacific heights is a good place for pizza of all things,and you can make changes to the one they offer,so do use that option! The sports bar has a menu after 5pm,with good buffalo wings The Childrens programme was amazing. we battled to get the kids out to come and eat (they don't really feed them in he club) The councilors were great,the programme varied, and it made our holiday a true pleasure. Its not available free during port stopovers,but a pay option is on offer if needed. tips,oh sorry,the service charge (still not sure what the difference is,despite ncl being at pains to try explain that it is different) are $12 per person per day,kids also $12 Service was polite and friendly, nothing spectacular,but that may to be more with he fact that the cruise was full,so staff were very busy. Entertainment in he main theatre was a mixed bag of mediocre shows. Best one being hilby the skinny german juggle boy. Casino was lots of fun, and not full at all. Gym was not bad, and well frequented, so at times hard to get a machine. Spa - I used their shower facilities after gym, rather unimpressive given what they re charging for treatments. The itinerary was amazing,more details in my port reviews. Disembarkation was a lot more painful then embarkation,with long queues, lots of hanging around waiting for late calling of your color tag that allowed you to go. Overall,a wonderful holiday, and a terrific break,but beware of all the extras you are continuously confronted with . Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
About three days into the cruise my wife said I was going to have to find something to complain about if I expect to write a review for Cruise Critic. Well, the weather wasn't always the best, a couple of nights the seas were rough ... Read More
About three days into the cruise my wife said I was going to have to find something to complain about if I expect to write a review for Cruise Critic. Well, the weather wasn't always the best, a couple of nights the seas were rough and the restrooms ashore weren't up to par. But that's part of the charm of a trip to the farthest reaches of the continent. We've been on 10 or 11 cruises and I always say my favorite ship is the one I'm on or just got off of. So the Sun reigns as my favorite at least until our next cruise. Pre-Cruise/Embarkation: After the normal airline headaches we arrived in Buenos Aires Saturday, the day before the cruise. We had booked everything through NCL so an NCL host was waiting for us at the terminal. We were driven by bus to the Marriott Hotel. This is an old hotel that has been refurbished, and we found it to be quite nice. The only watch-out we would offer is to handicapped patrons. The elevators are up or down a flight of stairs from the lobby. Handicapped access is via an old freight elevator located down a short ramp (6-8 steps) from the lobby. An NCL courtesy desk is staffed most of the day. After an (included) full breakfast we were transported to the pier. NCL must have read the stinging reviews from the previous cruise as they had made significant changes in the embarkation procedure. Clearing immigration was a breeze and then we were seated in groups for a brief wait for a bus to take us to the ship. We entered through a gangway and were offered drinks and directed to the Four Seasons Restaurant where twenty or more tables were set up for a fast and smooth registration. We were registered and seated in Seven Seasons for lunch before 12:45. The Ship: Our last trip was on the Jade and we found we like the Sun better. The Sun is somewhat smaller, easier to navigate and more tastefully decorated (the Jade was decorated for the Hawaii market and seemed somewhat out of place in the Mediterranean). We had a balcony cabin on each and the Sun's seemed roomier. We had more than enough room for the all-season wardrobe required for our trip "around the Horn". What we missed from the Jade was the Blue Lagoon 24-hour short-order restaurant. There's no equivalent on the Sun. English-speaking guests were definitely in the minority on this cruise. It's summer vacation time in the southern hemisphere and there were many family groups from all over Central and South America. There were also a surprising (to me) number of German guests. Andrea, the Cruise Director, speaks about eight languages and all the announcements were made in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German. The predominance of South Americans made a big difference in the dining experience. They traditionally eat late so the main dining room was practically empty in the 6 to 8 pm time slot. We ate in Seven Seasons every night and several days at lunch time. There was never a wait and many times there seemed to be more waiters that guests. We usually were given a window table. The downside is we were never asked if we wanted to share so we dined alone every night. When the first show let out around 8:30 there would be a surge, but still no line. I understand the crunch came around 9:30 to 10 PM when large families started piling in. We don't do buffets at home and certainly not on a cruise when there are so many better choices. We walked through the buffet a few times and it was like feeding time in a shark tank. It's attraction eludes me. With the variety of meals, quality and service in the main restaurants we didn't see the need to spend extra money on the premium restaurants; can't report on them. One point on which I agree with previous reviewers is that the breakfast "orange juice cocktail" tastes terrible. The second morning at Seven Seasons we ordered real orange juice at $2.50 a glass. It took them a while to get it from the 11th floor, but I think we started a trend. A couple of days later they were carrying it through Seven Seasons on a tray offering it for $2.50. Ports/Excursions: A little background on us. We are mid-60's retirees and have some problems with a lot of walking and particularly with stairs. We try to do an excursion at every port after all, that's why we chose this cruise (definitely not a cruise to spend sitting around the pool). We use the NCL excursions because we have had good luck with them in the past and they're worry-free. We stick with "level 1" excursions wherever possible and prefer half-day trips which let us get back early or sleep late when we can schedule afternoon trips. Buenos Aires: After our plane trip we were too tired for a city tour but planned to book a dinner and tango show on our own. However, we found that the NCL desk offered a package for $65 which sounded like a good deal. We were picked up at the hotel and taken to La Ventana. There were 15-20 NCL guests from the Marriott and Sheraton for the dinner and show, so we got acquainted with several people we would see many times over the next two weeks. The steaks were delicious as was the chocolate amaretto dessert, and the show was good. Overall a good value and a lot simpler than doing it ourselves. Some of the guests asked if we could go by the "flower" sculpture at night. The guide graciously agreed and treated us to an impromptu midnight city tour. Montevideo: Weather was sunny and warm, around 80F. The ship docked at the pier very near the town. We did the "City Highlights" tour which we enjoyed and gave us a feel for the city. We toured business and residential areas and finished with a view of the city and coast from a hilltop. Puerto Madryn: Beautiful weather, 70F and windy. Again we were at the dock. The scenery during the 2 hour bus trip reminded us of New Mexico. The bus was comfortable and the roads were good until the last few miles. At the parking area we observed the people taking private tours packed like sardines in the small taxis they had enlisted3 people crammed in the back seat of a Chevy Aveo for 4 hours round-trip. It made us appreciate our comfortable bus. The observation trail is a long walk up and down small hills, at least 1-½ miles I would guess. They suggest you walk to the end and gradually work your way back. We turned around about half way there but still saw thousands of penguins "up close and personal". You can see plenty of them just yards from the parking area. The visit to Punta Tombo was a highlight of the trip. Stanley: Another beautiful day, light clouds, 50-55F, fairly calm seas. The crew said it was the best weather they had ever had at Stanley. The tenders drop you off at a pier right downtown. We took the $20 bus to Gypsy Cove where we saw a few penguins. A big letdown after Punta Tombo, but those who hadn't seen penguins at Puerto Madryn were impressed. Around the Horn: True to tradition the weather made a turn for the worse. It was cold, cloudy, hazy, raining and very windy it would be disappointing to have good weather for the Horn but the seas were calm enough that the captain was able to make a complete circle around Cape Horn Island. I tried to go out on the deck in front of the Observation Lounge to take photos, but it was like the TV weathercasters in a hurricane; you had to hold onto the rail with one hand to stay upright, and it was impossible to hold the camera still. I retreated to the relative protection of deck 6 for a few photos and then to Seven Seas where we dined and watched in luxury at a table next to the port side window as we completed circling the Horn. Ushuaia: Returned to beautiful weather, partly sunny, cooler at 50F. From the Sun's berth at the downtown pier we took the NCL excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park. I had my picture taken at the southern terminus of the "highway" that runs 17,838 km. from Fairbanks, AL to Ushuaia. It's an expedition I'd like to make if I were younger. The scenery is gorgeous. This is a place I could see myself living. Beagle Channel/Glaciers: By the time we got to the glaciers (5:30 PM) the weather had turned cloudy and the higher peaks were shrouded in clouds. Still lots of daylight left it's 17 hours from sunup to sundown in mid-January. We watched the glaciers go by from the comfort of our starboard balcony room. You can't beat that. Punta Arenas: Sunny, still, low 60'sF. This is a tender port for ships the size of the Sun. We had scheduled the NCL Magdalena Island excursion, but it was canceled for lack of interest, a disappointment but not too bad as we had seen plenty of penguins at Puerto Madryn. In its place we settled for the City Highlights tour. The tour was OK, we got a feel for the city and we could have spent a lot more time at the museum. Magellan Strait: Weather was foggy, rainy and overcast, 55F. Not much to see. The sea turned rough in the evening (I've experienced worse). Barf bags were placed at all the stairways. The captain slowed to 8 knots, then decided to change route overnight to an inward passage to get out of the rough seas. This meant we had to bypass some of the fjords the next day top make up time, but we couldn't have seen much anyway due to the fog and haze. Puerto Chacabuco: Rainy, very windy, 50F. Tenders again here and at Puerto Montt. We took the NCL bus tour to Coyhaique. The weather was better as we got away from the coast. Beautiful scenery and a wonderful guide, Michelle, who was a 20-year old university senior majoring in English Literature and composition. We had free time in Coyhaique for shopping at a craft mall. I sat on a bench in the square and watched the cab drivers compete to see how many tourists they could pack into a minivan. The answer is quite a few if they sit twisted sideways. The rear springs sag until the frame is almost resting on the rear axle. Sound like fun? On the way back we (and 4 other bus loads of tourists) were treated to a delicious snack at a restaurant near the Virgin Falls; empanadas, etc. local wines and pisco sours, very good. Puerto Montt: Cool, rainy, foggy, 55F. We took an afternoon tour to Puerto Varas and Fruitillar. Again, the weather cleared as the day progressed. We spent a little time in Fruitillar, a quaint town with an Alpine feel. The view of the volcanoes across the lake was obscured by clouds, but it's obvious it would be very picturesque on a clear day. This was the only bus we found without air conditioning actually it had AC but it was not working. Hot and muggy in town, too chilly on the highway with the roof vents open. Overall a mediocre excursion. Disembarkation: Since our flight wasn't scheduled until 10:30 PM we opted to take a 9-hour bus tour instead of spending 12 hours at the airport. After a tour of Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and Santiago (including a ride up the funicular and lunch at San Cristobal Hill) we were dropped off at the airport around 6 PM. The luggage was taken directly to the airport where it was waiting for us, already separated and on a cart. (Contrast with the irate Celebrity Infinity passengers who were searching high and low for their luggage which was all in one "pile"). Unfortunately, there was already a long, snaking line at the Delta counter which wasn't scheduled to open until 7:30 PM. The worst part of the trip was the journey home. My wife fell ill on the plane and was miserable for the remainder of the trip. But she's better now and back to looking at the cruise brochures. Let's see... maybe a river cruise next! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Who should Go? This is not a Caribbean party cruise or a European cultural cruise. If you enjoyed an Alaskan cruise and want to experience a similar landscape in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the cruise for you. I have now seen the ... Read More
Who should Go? This is not a Caribbean party cruise or a European cultural cruise. If you enjoyed an Alaskan cruise and want to experience a similar landscape in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the cruise for you. I have now seen the Alaskan, Norwegian, New Zealand and Chilean Fjords and I enjoyed each one for different reasons. Our cruise straddled the Christmas-New Year's holiday, so there was a good mix of young and old since there were many extended families on board. NCL did a good job on the Christmas and New Year's Eve activities. Keep in mind most of the ports require tendering and the ocean this far South can be rough. There were significant delays tendering in Punta Arenas, Ushuaia and the Falkland Islands due to inclement weather. I spoke with people on Celebrity and they had similar issues. The cruise lines work very hard to make this a safe process, so patience is required. One note: Chile requires a $132/person visa for US citizens when arriving at the airport. Argentina has an $18/person departure tax. If you cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago, I believe you don't pay either one and save $150/person. Probably not an issue unless you have a family of four and pay $600 in visa/taxes. Ship The Norwegian Sun was adequate for this type of cruise. A medium size of about 2000 passengers, it does not have a lot of the outdoor and sport amenities found on the Caribbean mega-ships, all of which would be useless given the cold and windy conditions experienced during most of the cruise. NCL uses a Free-style dining system and unlike some previous NCL cruises, we had no problems with waiting or slow service because we ate between 6pm and 7:30pm. The food was good in the standard restaurants and excellent in the specialty restaurants. The on-board entertainment was better than normal; maybe because it was a holiday cruise. We had an Oceanview room, which was fine. If you get a Balcony room, try to get it on the Port side if traveling from Valpo to Buenos Aires and Starboard the other way. NCL arranged several interesting lectures on the regions we visited. Embarkation I recommend staying in Vina Del Mar or Buenos Aires the night before your cruise. Both are excellent places to spend some time and eliminate the stress of rushing to the ship. In Valparaiso, where we started the cruise, the embarkation was slowed by the transfer bus availability from the immigration building to the ship. The actual cruise check-in was completed aboard the ship and went very fast. I think the delay was due to the number of buses available and checking in at the peak time. We waited about 1 hour in a comfortable lounge area with a bar and some small gift shops for the transfer buses. Ports/Shore Excursions I usually pick my cruises based on the port of calls, so I will spend more time on this portion. I normally like to do independent shore excursions but this cruise stops at ports that have limited independent options. I always recommend using a cruise line shore excursion if you don't want to worry about travel logistics and getting back to the ship on time. Also, the shore excursion people get off on the first tenders, which made a big difference on this cruise. Independent tour operators, restaurants and shops took US dollars at every port and city we visited. It is best to have smaller denomination bills for obvious reasons. Santiago/Valparaiso/Vina del mar- We arrived three days before the cruise started to see Santiago, Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. We stayed in Santiago one night at a great little hotel called Hotel Orly and toured Santiago on our own. Most of the sights are in a compact area that is pedestrian friendly and safe during the day. We took a full day tour with Think About Chile tour company to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. It worked out good because they picked us up in Santiago and dropped us off at our hotel in Vina del Mar and kept our luggage safe during the tour. We stopped at the Bellavista winery on the way to Valpo and then had a tour of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. It was $96/person but lower if you have more people. It takes about 2 hours from Santiago to Valpo without any stops. Puerto Montt- We booked a tour through GV Tours (Gail and Veronica) for $75/person. They use a nice mini-bus, which was full of people from our cruise ship. The tour hits the highlights of the Puerto Montt lake district area including Lake Llanquihue, Puerto Varas, Fruitillar, Petrohue falls, and Lake Esmeralda. The tour also included an excellent salmon lunch and a stop at a small farm. The tour lasted 8 hours and they claim they never missed a ship departure time. On a clear day Mt Osorno dominates the landscape. I highly recommend getting away from the Puerto Montt town and touring the lake district. There are several independent tour operators waiting at the port. I saw a short 2-hour tour of the lake district for $15/person. Puerto Chacabuco- Take a cruise line shore excursion if you ship stops here. There are no reliable independent options and nothing close to the port. We took a bus tour through the Rio Simpson valley, which was basically a 3-hour roundtrip bus ride to a National Reserve where we took a 30-minute hike. It is beautiful scenery but it rained most of the trip. The highlight of this stop was cursing through the Fjords that surround Puerto Chacabuco. The Andes drop right into the water here and the rainfall makes it very green and lush. The sun came out later in the day and we had a great sail through the steep Fjords. Sunset was about 10:30pm. Cruising the Chilean Fjords- We spent two days cruising in and out of the Chilean Fjords. The water was calm and scenery beautiful. A lot of waterfalls, islands and glacier capped mountains but surprising little visible marine life. Day time highs were around 50 F but windy. Punta Arenas- We opted to take an expensive cruise line shore excursion to Torre Del Paine. The trip was great. We saw a lot Guanaco's, rheas and condors. The lakes are an amazing milky-blue color and the famous Torre "horns" made a brief appearance. The weather is very unpredictable and changed by the minute, and it is always windy. This was on my list of "must see" places in the World, so I paid the steep $1100 for this one-day excursion. I don't believe all the cruise lines offer this trip, but ours was sold out before the cruise started so book early. The most popular day excursion at this port was the penguin trips. Ushuaia- Sailing the Beagle channel before Ushuaia was very scenic and this is the best chance to see glaciers up close. Six glaciers come down to meet the Beagle Channel. We passed these glaciers in the morning before arriving in Ushuaia. I believe you see these during the evening if traveling from Buenos Aires to Valpo. We hired a taxi with another couple in Ushuaia and went to see a glacier near Ushuaia and then Tierra del Fuego. The cost is $110 per taxi and 4 people can squeeze into a taxi. The trip was about 3-4 hours. Tierra del Fuego is beautiful and worth the trip. Ushuaia also has a nice downtown area for shopping and souvenirs. There are several independent land and boat tour operators waiting at the port. Rounding Cape Horn- This was a highlight for many passengers on the cruise. After a rough first two days at sea, we were concerned about the conditions around this infamous area considered to be the most dangerous in the World. Well, it was like a swimming pool. Our cruise director said it was the most calm NCL had seen in two years. We circled the Cape Horn Island and saw the lighthouse and Memorial. It is my understanding this part of the cruise is usually cancelled due to rough seas. Falkland Islands- We took an NCL shore excursion to the Lagoon Bluffs to see penguins. I think this is the best spot on the cruise to see penguins because of the variety, population and scenic backdrop. We saw Gentoo, Rock-hopper (cool eyebrows) and the famous King penguins (smaller cousins to the movie-star Emperor penguins). All the other stops on the cruise only see Magellan penguins. The tour is via 4-wheel drive vehicles and part of the ride is very rough. The Lagoon Bluffs is a beautiful beach and cove area where thousands of penguin come to breed. We saw a lot of baby penguins like the movie. Great photos. It had sun, rain, sleet and hail all in the one hour we were at Lagoon Bluff. It was fun to watch the penguins when it hailed. It was like a free massage for them. There is a small cabin that serves tea, coffee and pastries, which is included in the tour. Port Stanley is small but nice and scenic town. It is fun to go to the pubs and talk to the locals. The three we went to were Deano's, Victory and Globe taverns. Victory is popular with the British soldiers stationed in the Falkland's and they have some great stories. Puerto Madryn- Yes, our first port where we actually docked since Valpo. We had a late start since it was New Year's day and we stayed up till 3am the night before. We teamed up with eight other people on our cruise and took an independent tour to the Peninsula Valdez for $50/person. There are tour operators waiting outside the dock area to book independent tours. It was a long two-hour ride through the barren Peninsula Valdez to reach an area with Magellan penguins and huge elephant seals. A beautiful coastline on a very sunny and warm day. We also stopped at a small national park museum. We also saw a lot of Guanacos along the way but mainly in the distant. Many other passengers went to the Punto Tomba, probably the best place for penguins outside of the Falkland islands. Montevideo- Civilization again and we docked. Although there are several interesting shore excursions, I recommend walking around the old town and downtown area of this city. The port is less than 10 minutes walk to the old town and stop by the Port Mercado to see the grilled meat restaurants. We hit all the major sights in three hours, had a grilled steak lunch at a restaurant Hillary Clinton ate at, and went to the beach for a few cocktails at a cafe. There are excellent antique markets on the weekend. I bought an antique Kodak Brownie camera for $15. Buenos Aires/disembarkation- We were scheduled to fly out of Buenos Aires that evening, so we decided to take an NCL shore excursion, which kept our bags during the tour and dropped us at the airport afterward. In fact, we never touched our bags after leaving them outside our cabin the night before until arriving at the airport. We took the Best of Buenos Aires Tour, which included a three-hour tour of the city and then a visit to a Gaucho Estancia. I had been to Buenos Aires before and I recommend staying at least two days to see the sights and experience this great city. The Estancia was nice with folk dancing, music, Gaucho horsemanship, horseback and wagon rides, and a huge grilled meat lunch. It is a nine-hour tour getting to the airport around 5:30pm. The cruise met all my expectations. I will mention a few complaints from other fellow passengers: 1) Some had limited time on shore due to tendering delays, 2) The food was not as good as some past cruises, 3) shore excursions were pricey, 4) there should be more activities during days at sea. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
This is one of those journeys I had dreamt of doing all my life. Look at a world map or globe & who would not admit to being excited about traveling round the tip of South America. I was & persuaded my wife she could be as well.I ... Read More
This is one of those journeys I had dreamt of doing all my life. Look at a world map or globe & who would not admit to being excited about traveling round the tip of South America. I was & persuaded my wife she could be as well.I had been to the Falklands in the 80's, & wanted to see it again, & explore some of the towns & cities of Argentina & Chile. Months of planning & research via Trip Advisor & Cruise Critic forums, the cruise was booked through an internet agency, the countdown began. And what a trip !We flew to Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo on British Airways from London, a 15 hour overnight journey. The flight was full, service was ok, but as always its a bit of a drag. Arrival in Argentina was on schedule, mid morning local time, & after a long wait for bags, sailed through the arrival formalities. ( thanks to advice gained on these forums about money exchange & taxis ). You forget about being tired, as you take in your new surroundings. We checked into the Inter Continental Hotel in central Buenos Aires. Got some sleep & set off exploring this great city. Over the next 2 days, we took in a tango show, a bus tour of the city, had some great food, & enjoyed the sun, about 30C. Embarkation On Sunday 3rd, at 1pm, we got a taxi to the cruise terminal. From our hotel, no more than 15 minutes. We always are really excited at this point, looking for that first view of our ship. In this case Norwegian Sun. We had cruised with NCL before & love the Freestyle concept. Couldn't wait to get on board, have a cold beer & some lunch. Well, the taxi stopped on the side of a busy port road, next to a high perimeter fence. Other taxis were dropping off passengers here as well. We got out, grabbed our cases, saw a gap in the fence, & followed others through. Hordes of people, no officials in sight, hot sun...chaos. It transpired two ships were checking in. Eventually dropped our bags off, only to join another long line of people for remaining formalities. The line moved at a snails pace, no air con., few NCL reps to be seen, no water provided for the many elderly passengers in line. It dragged on & on. Without doubt the worst experience to date checking in for a cruise. 2 hours in trying conditions. Come on NCL sort this out. These are not the first impressions you want to give your guests. On Board Having got on board, had a cold beer, ( & a complementary glass of bubbly ),& found our stateroom, everything went uphill from here. Our stateroom was on deck 8, starboard side. Plenty of hanging & storage space, very comfortable bed, ensuite bathroom with shower,( quality toiletries provided), TV with multiple channels including CNN & a selection of films, good furnishings, sofa & table, balcony( with 2 outdoor chairs & a table),small fridge, coffee maker & minibar. It was spotlessly clean. We really enjoyed our stateroom. Our room attendants kept it clean & well stocked. Sure, the odd item was overlooked, or a towel missing, but it was soon put right. The balcony was great. really pleased we opted for it. Made the most of the sunny days. Our impression of the Norwegian Sun was that it appeared to be a happy ship. With only one exception, we found the staff to be friendly, talkative in many cases, & eager to please. That doesn't mean that service was always tiptop or quick. Mistakes were made in the dining room. However, they were always rectified with an apology. Generally speaking we found the staff provided an excellent service. We always found if you smile back, say hi, & treat people with respect, you get genuine good service. Navigating around the decks was fairly simple.Really enjoyed the small library & internet cafe. Various $ packages were available, & internet usage was popular, even if speeds were a little slow. We went to a few stage productions, & especially enjoyed the West End/Broadway musical & Peter Pan. Stargazing with the Cruise Director one night was an event not to be missed. Over 200 people on the top deck being wowed with his commentary & the incredible clear skys. Will never forget that. What we particularly like about NCL is the choice available when it comes to food. For breakfast, we always sat outside in the Outdoor Cafe. There was a more limited selection here than in the Garden Cafe, but as they were next to each other, you could top up your selection & head outside. When the weather was poor, we simply chose from the buffet in the Garden Cafe & took it to the Sports Bar. Same for lunch. Choice was good, well cooked & presented. Coffee/tea/hot chocolate always available. One criticism would be the layout of the Garden Cafe. Far too cramped, never enough room, & a bit of a scrum at times. Layout needs rethinking. Dinners were special.We tried all the restaurants. Booked tables the night before with no problems. Speciality restaurants ( with extra service charges of between $10 & 20pp ) LL Adagio. Italian menu. Good wide choice & attentive service.Dined here twice. Steakhouse. Again great choice of steaks,chops,etc & all the extras. Perfectly cooked & with friendly service. Went here twice. Le Bistro. Premium dining. Good French inclined menu. Very attentive service. Twice here. Ginza. Sushi menu. First time we have had this type of food. Very tasty & again very efficient service. Other restaurants Pacific Heights. Good menu with an emphasis on healthier cooking & dishes. No extra charge but we found you did need to book a table. Main Dining Rooms Four Seasons & Seven Seas. Dined here 3 times around 8pm. Never waited more than 5 minutes for a table. Good service & tasty food. For a pre dinner drink & some nibbles, we would go each night to Las Ramblas. Some great tapas accompanied by live jazz. We found drinks quite expensive as a whole, especially wine. We were very lucky with the weather, especially in the first week heading south. It was lovely & sunny with light winds. Sea conditions were very calm virtually all the way to the Falklands. Winds got up a bit on the approach here, but on land the temperature was in the 20sC at Stanley. Going round The Horn, the wind got up but the seas remained fairly calm. It was misty here, but that just added to the mystery of the place. Going through the various Chilean channels, the water is calm, but the winds can be cold. When viewing the glaciers in the Beagle channel, this was the coldest day, with several layers needed. Heading north, when exposed to open seas, the ship rolled a little, especially in stronger winds. Medication against sea sickness was necessary for us. Excursions Took six NCL excursions. Sure they are expensive, but wanted peace of mind & security. Next time to this area would research independent trips. Montevideo. Highlights. 3 hours Saw most of the city from a bus. Very good guide. Puerto Madryn Punta Tombo Penguin Rookery. full day, long drive across the Pampas to get there, about 2 1/2 hours one way. Well worth it. Thousands of Megellanic penguins & chicks. You could walk among them. Had about 1 1/2 hours there. Great day. Ushuaia In Depth. Tour of the historical prison & into the mountains. Fantastic scenery & barbecue for lunch. Punta Arenas. Trekking at Andino Park. 1/2 day. Chairlift into hills above the city & Trekking back down through forest, great to stretch the legs. About 2 mile walk. Puerto Montt. Petrohue Falls & Lake Esmeralda. Full day on bus, with one hour cruise on lake. plenty of stops in lake district. Good views of volcanos. Santiago. Concha Y Tora. Full day on disembarking ship & dropped off at airport. Good tour of city, with funicular ride to a viewpoint, & excellent tour of winery with samples & lunch. We were on this trip to fulfill a dream. To see some amazing scenery & wildlife. At times we had to pinch ourselves. To do it in the comfort of a cruise ship, being wined & dined & in the company of some great people is something we will never forget. On this occasion we were more than happy with NCL & the Norwegian Sun. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
I had a choice of going on Royal Caribbean's Radiance or NCL's Norwegian Sun. We have cruised on a spectrum of lines, from Carnival to Windstar, Princess and Crystal. I had the impression that NCL had a somewhat spotty ... Read More
I had a choice of going on Royal Caribbean's Radiance or NCL's Norwegian Sun. We have cruised on a spectrum of lines, from Carnival to Windstar, Princess and Crystal. I had the impression that NCL had a somewhat spotty reputation, but the itinerary going around the Horn was so much better than going down to Ushuaia and making a U turn up to Brazil that I chose NCL. And was delighted by the choice. The Sun overall provided an excellent voyage, and the variety of ports and Chilean fjords was even better than expected. The previous review gave a lot of good details about the ship and ports, so I'll limit myself to areas not covered. First of all, if at all possible, get to Buenos Aires early. Very early. Tango is the national pastime, and we went to the obligatory tourist tango show at Esquina Homero - just so so. But we went to a milonga at Salon Canning. That was great. Lessons until 11 pm, then people start filtering in. At midnight the band arrives, and the party goes on until the wee hours. All LOCALS dance...some extremely well, some like me. There was a wonderful couple in their eighties that looked gorgeous dancing together. And a little old guy who happily buried his face in the bosoms of his much taller and younger partners. In BA, we took a cab and covered all the key sights in two hours - for $19 BUT while the taxi driver was a licensed tour guide, he only spoke Spanish. My Spanish was good enough to understand most of what he said, but would limit this recommendation. MOST importantly, we spent two nights at Iguazu Falls. This is a two hour plane flight from BA, and I had serious doubts about the wisdom of leaving BA to go there. But if you can possibly go, GO. Stupendous. We stayed at the Sheraton - expensive, but a fabulous view of the Falls from the room. The best single highlight of our three weeks in South America. The food in BA is very reasonable and simply delicious. I don't often eat steak at home, but steak and a salad in BA was our evening meal every night,and never disappointed. Don Julio in Soho is a great example, but there are a ton of good restaurants in the city. Definitely not a place to be a vegetarian. And don't miss MALBA, the art museum. I'm not a major museum aficionado, but it's small enough to be enjoyable with enough good art for the art lover. Shopping in Soho made my wife very happy. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Overall we had a great time!The ship NCL Sun is in need of refurbishing as it's showing it's wear and tear. We were in an "aft" cabin and have never experienced soot like we had on this cruise but the room stewards who ... Read More
Overall we had a great time!The ship NCL Sun is in need of refurbishing as it's showing it's wear and tear. We were in an "aft" cabin and have never experienced soot like we had on this cruise but the room stewards who were very good stayed on top of it.The cruise was about 75% full. Embarkment and Disembarkment for us was a breeze due to being Latitudes gold. Entertainment The Jean Ann Ryan Company acts were great as was the Skinny German. As for the rest of the entertainment I don't remember much. FOOD We found the specialty restaurants to be very good, we ate at them most nights with exception of Las Rambles. Reservations were never a problem at early seatings because people were just not spending money on this cruise.We found the food in the Garden Cafe to be fine as far as taste and selection. But because of the confined area there was usually some congestion. They need to make better use of the outside buffet areas "aft ship" and open them for the 3 meals, maybe by taking the most popular stations such as pasta and duplicating them outside. The Sports Bar had amazing fish and chips (real batter and fresh fish)and wings. NCL also ran 2 for 1 drink specials 2 to 3 times during the cruise including buckets of beer.We found all of the staff to be very friendly andpleasing. They also ran the "bags" laundry program 3 times for $20. Cruise Critic-Roll Call there were approx 30 people in our group. Two meet and greets were setup for the cruise ship where we got together to chat, share stories take pic's and talked about upcoming excursions etc. Overall it was a great group.A special thank you to those that did the arrangement of the above as well as some of the excursions. Some also got together for trivia games and bridge. PORTS San Francisco we stayed at the Best Western Tuscan Inn at Fisherman's Wharf. This was a great hotel, clean and freshly decorated and close to the pier. The rooms are a little on the small side but for 2 nights it was fine.We were able to walk to the cruise ship pier with out luggage we were that close. Would we recommend this hotel YES! $140 a night or two. Los Angeles we stayed on the ship. Acapulco We did the "Shotover Jet Boat Ride/City Tour and Cliff Divers" through Intersol Tours. The ride was a blast and if you haven't seen the divers then you have to go once. The tour cost was $99 and we thought it was good value. We paid for this tour in advance using PayPal. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala This was just an amazing, educational tour. It was arranged by some of the CC team who had arranged for transportation to Antigua and we then did a walking tour of this romantic and charming town. The walking tour was done through Elizabeth Bell and her Antigua Tour Company who comes highly recommended as we could see by the amount of people that were doing the same tour in small groups ahead and behind us.She has also written 5 or 6 books. This walking tour for those that are concerned about walking covers about an eight block area and it's all on flat ground and takes about 2 hours. The cost was $23 for transportation (8 or12 to van) and walking tour was $25. We highly recommend this tour. For lunch we all broke up and went our own way as some wanted to see more and others wanted to eat. We found this little hole in the wall restaurant, we decided to go in and found a lovely courtyard setting inside, we could see the open kitchen area and decided to stay for lunch, the meal was fantastic and reasonably priced. As we sat down we saw pictures on the wall of people who had eaten there such as Bill Clinton (minus blue dress) Ricky Martin and others. The name of the restaurant is La Fonda don't remember the street but I'm sure you can ask and get directions. Puntarenas Costa Rica We did another tour arranged by CC it was to Turu Ba Ri Park. Some did the tram ride while others did the zipline tour. The tour was done through "Greenway Tours" and was handled by Mario the president of the company. We had a guide and driver who were very good and their vehicle was fairly new. The park itself is about 600 acres. The tram ride had great views and those that did the zipline had a blast. Lunch was included and the food was amazing, fresh, hot and lots of it. The facilities (restaurant and bathrooms) were extremely clean. Note: for this tour you have to pay up front as Greenway has to travel almost 3 hours to the pier and can't afford "no shows". They were prompt at picking and dropping us off in plenty of time. Cost of tour was $99 pp. Manta Ecuador we did not get off the ship for this port. Callao(Lima)Peru This for us was our best tour of the whole cruise. We did an NCL ship tour called "Temples Treasures and Horses" as we really wanted to see the peruvian horses. The tour consisted of driving through the Pueblo Libre district to the National Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. We then drove through the shanty town districts to get to the ranch/hacienda which was called "Los Ficus". There are no words to describe this place other than it's picture perfect for an outdoor intimate wedding. The grounds are impeccably kept,as are their happy horses and their stalls. They put on a show of the horses and equipment as well as let a couple people ride them. They also had a 2 day and 6 day old colt. The meal was amazing! It was set up with white linen tables outside but under a roof. The food was fresh,hot and plentiful. They also grow their own organic product which was used in the meals. The hosts were extremely accommodating and couldn't do enough. This tour is only offered to NCL and is limited to 50/60 people. The ranch has only been doing this for about 6 months. The cost was $169 pp and well worth it. Would we do it again YES! Arica Chile Due to being under the weather we did not do the CC arranged tour. But after starting to feel better we headed out in the afternoon on our own. Just outside the pier gate's is a nice park with a market set up with asst'd goods such as alpaca goods etc. We bought a dozen alpaca scarves for xmas gifts at $3.50 each. We then took a cab (return $15 for 2) up the hilltop for some kodak moments of the city then walked around some. Nice port! Coquimbo Chile At this port we took a van from outside the pier for I think $5 to $7 pp (1 way) to La Serena, we walked around some and then went to La Recova market that was full of el junko. Wasn't impressed with this port! Valparaiso Chile (disembarked) At this port we had arranged for a private half day tour with Hector http://sites.google.com/site/privatetourguidechile/ We had Margareta as our guide and Carlos as our driver. This was a great tour as we would have never found these places on our own and plus Val is very hilly. It reminded us a lot of San Francisco with the different colored homes and all the hills. The tour ended with them driving us to our hotel in Vina Del Mar were we spent 3 nights. Cost was $70 pp and well worth it. Vina Del Mar Chile is the resort area near Val. We stayed at the Hotel Oceanic which was on a cliff hanging over the ocean with spectacular views and sunsets. Its a small family run hotel thats quaint and reasonable at $114 a night which included a great breakfast. Well decorated,clean and with comfortable beds. We ate a couple of dinners here and found the food to be very good, especially the fish soup and blt sandwich which was huge and couldn't finish. The diner was lacking atmosphere I guess because we were the only one's eating there. They also had a huge wine list list and prices were very reasonable. Would we stay there again YES! However you need to know that it's located about a $5 cab ride from the heart of Vina and the casino which we didn't mind as we just wanted to rest and absorb the rays for three days. Santiago Chile We did a full day tour again with Hector http://sites.google.com/site/privatetourguidechile/ We were picked up at our hotel at 9 am and drove to Santiago with Hector and his driver in a fairly new van. We stopped in Santiago visited the financial area, main shopping area as well as the gov't buildings area including the beautiful gov't palace and an amazing old cathedral. We then went to San Cristobal Park for fabulous views of the city and many kodak moments all the while Hector was giving us cultural and historical info along the way. He also drove us through the million dollar homes area. Then dropped us off at the airport in plenty of time for our flight. I cannot recommend enough to use Hector for private tours that he can curtail to your needs. He is young, pleasant very, good english and has lived in the USA. He also has numerous contacts for other places and of course Chile. Hector if your reading this thanks again to you and your team! In closing we would just like to say that we cruise for the itinerary not the ship but are loyal NCL cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Embarkation was on 4 Nov 08. After spending two days in San Francisco I was ready for our cruise to start. Check in at the VIP spot was a smooth process and we where on the ship at 11;30am—there was no escort to our cabin, which I ... Read More
Embarkation was on 4 Nov 08. After spending two days in San Francisco I was ready for our cruise to start. Check in at the VIP spot was a smooth process and we where on the ship at 11;30am—there was no escort to our cabin, which I thought was part of 2.0. At 12;30 we went to Il Adagios for lunch—it was fantastic the sirloin steak is from the steak house and it is great - I had this for lunch 4 times during the cruise The suite butler was not to be found—more of this problem later. The AC aft penthouse suite (9076) showed signs of wear but the layout is the best on any NCL ship—the reason we booked it. The new mattress and liens where fantastic—the bed was tremendous—really comfortable—my wife and I are still talking about it. The balcony had a bad soot problem for the whole cruise—kept the stewards busy cleaning it. Last time we where in an AC one deck up—the soot seemed to be not as bad. For the first seven days or so we had a problem we the temp of bath water—it was usually not very warm. We complained several times and finally the engineering officer cam up to sample it himself—the next day no more problem. After talking to several other cruise passengers on several decks it appeared that the whole ship was having a hot water issue—sometimes it was way to hot. Last time we sailed the Sun we did not have this problem. There were no flowers in the suite until I complained and then they showed up. Concierge service ( Belky Sanchez) was fantastic. She was really good and took care of every request we had. On the other side of the coin the butler service ( SATKI) was terrible. We could never find him out to sea or import. We complained to the Concierge but She apparently could not fix this—they do not work for her. I called NCL customer service and complained about this. I do not think Satki should even be a butler Food: Buffet was above average—crowded most of the time. The outdoor cafe was great along with the Sports Bar for snacks ( fish and chips to die for). . The outdoor cafe turned out to be a great place for breakfast and afternoon snacks because the weather was tremendous the whole 19 day cruise—in fact I think we saw sprinkles on only one or two days. Being in a suite we took most breakfasts and lunches at IL Adagios. The menus are fantastic for this suite perk—lunch menus changed daily with the steak always on the menu. We had breakfast in our suite only twice ( both times the butler was late etc.) The afternoon snacks were terrible—the options on the suite card are not very good—in my opinion NCL needs to go back to canapEs etc. I ordered nuts one time and the butler served ground up pecans that look like they came from the bakery or the ice cream station. There were no flowers in the suite until I complained and then they showed up. For specialty restaurants we ate at the East Meets West steakhouse twice—it was superb—the lamb chops are to die for—the porterhouse steak was very good. We had dinner at the Le Bistro one night also fantastic. Pacific Fresh in my mind was average. One of the highlights were the tapas in Las Ramblas—they were fantastic—the head chef told me that the tapas menu had been upgraded and it was excellent—he was right. Also had lunch at Las Ramblas on several occasions—the made to order and sandwiches are really, really good. Both main dining rooms were above average with great ne menus—it was obvious that NCL has upgraded the food and menu selections. Disembarkation: because the ship had rapped ropes and cables around the rudders and props) when backing out of he port of COQUMBIO we were late in arriving Valparaiso. We had a terrible night in our aft suite because of the vibration this caused to the back end of the ship. Curiously the Captain never made an announcement to this effect. It was so bad many people did not sleep the last night. We were off the ship about 10am. Customs and immigration were a breeze—drug dogs where all over the hand luggage. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
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