We chose Norwegian because it had more ports of call on this route (around Cape Horn) than other lines,and for about the price of a balcony room on other lines we could have a mini-suite (with three of us sharing a room it was nice to have ... Read More
We chose Norwegian because it had more ports of call on this route (around Cape Horn) than other lines,and for about the price of a balcony room on other lines we could have a mini-suite (with three of us sharing a room it was nice to have the extra space). After the cruise I believe that Norwegian was an excellent choice for this trip for those reasons.
In Buenos Aires we had transfers, hotel and a private half day tour of the city prearranged through Avanti. We also took a day trip to Tigre using Viator. Which I booked the evening before. Both the half day tour and day trip were great. We also did some just walking around in the city. Buenos Aires is so large that a tour to get oriented and see some of the rather spread out highlights is helpful before heading out on your own.
Embarking in Buenos Aires seemed a bit onerous, with three lines to stand in before you were checked in, and they didn't move quickly. My dad had an injured foot and the lines were a strain on him, if you are traveling with someone who has a similar challenge it might be wise to use a wheelchair. It wasn't clear to me how much of that was Norwegian and how much the Argentine government, however, our guide in Buenos Aires (through Avanti) told us that Norwegian took longer than other lines. Once checked in they shuttled us quickly to the boat.
My one criticism of the first day is that we were not given information about the ship or activities. No map of the ship to help us get oriented and no list of what was going on where. We noticed that some people had these, but others did not. It shouldn't be a surprise how many people are embarking so there really isn't much excuse to not have those in the rooms.
Disembarking in Chile was quite smooth. One thing I would mention is that if you are traveling with someone who has difficulty walking long distances, you should ask for a wheelchair, it is a fair hoof to get through the facility.
The Sun is an older ship, and that showed a bit here and there. I would say that it was nice but not opulent. Even so the ship was pretty well maintained and kept clean.
We had a mini-suite, 1214, forward on deck 11. The room was fairly spacious. The couch wasn't very comfortable, either as a couch or as a bed. The bed was very comfortable. It was nice that there were curtains separating the two areas for a bit of privacy at night. The balcony was pretty tight, for this cruise, which went through some pretty cold and windy weather, it wasn't a problem that all three of us couldn't sit out at the same time.
We felt a need to spend time downstairs amidships when it was rough, it isn't a good choice if you are prone to sea sickness.
We ate at the Garden Cafe, the outdoor buffets and Moderno when it served as a pizza and pasta station during the day (it become a premium restaurant for dinner), the Seven Seas dining room and the Four Seasons dining room.
The general flow of traffic in the buffets and sports bar area at the aft end of deck 11 was not good. It was frequently very crowded and difficult to maneuver with a plate of food and a drink. I preferred to go to the dining rooms when I had the time.
The dining rooms were spacious and quiet. The lunch menu was fairly limited, about half-way they changed the options for a few days then switched back again. At dinner they changed the appetizers, half of the entrees and the desserts each day. This worked fine for me.
In general I would say that, like with the ship, the food was nice but not opulent. It seemed to me as if the buffet area was carrying more of the dining load than it had been designed for.
We didn't go in for the activities or casino, but very much enjoyed several of the music options, and there was quite a bit of variety including Henry Hood a guitarist who played American folk and popular music, Green Dolphin a jazz group, Latin Soul, and Amber Strings, a trio who played classical music. I thought it was great that they had Latin American groups for a South American cruise.
We found the Windjammer/Havana Room and Observation Lounge were nice places to hang out in the evenings and enjoy a glass of wine or beer and music. The Atrium never felt as pleasant as a venue (although when the seas were 17' being on deck 5 in the Atrium was great).
The only criticism I have with the service is that our room steward didn't clean the bathroom well: the mirrors were not cleaned even once in 15 days, the bath/toilet area smelled mildly of mildew and there was some mold and mildew on the grout.
The reason for this trip, and the greatest thing about it, was the opportunity to go places we would not get to easily otherwise. There isn't a single port that I couldn't have spent more time in. The itinerary was great and I wouldn't leave anything off of it even though we felt rushed at a few of the ports. Several ports were tender ports: Punta del Este, Falkland Islands, Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt.
We went on shore excursions in Puerto Madryn, the Falkland Islands, Ushuaia, Puerto Chacabuco, Puerto Montt and finished with a tour of Valparaiso and Santiago that included our airport transfer. All shore excursions were through Norwegian. At the other ports we just wandered about on our own.
In Puerto Madryn we took the tour that went to Punta Norte on Peninsula Valdes. We saw a lot of wildlife, including rhea, guanaco, elephant seals, sea lions and Magellanic penguins. It included a very nice lunch at an estancia. The tour was in a small bus. It was a long day but...wow! The guide was extremely knowledgeable about animals, plants, eco-systems and the landscape.
In the Falklands we took an off-road excursion to Volunteer Point, which has colonies of King, Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins. Our driver wasn't very experienced and we got "bogged" four times, she also didn't have a lot of knowledge about the land, animals or plants. That said, Volunteer Point is an incredible location that cannot be reached in any other way and it was well worth the rough somewhat nerve racking ride. The lunch provided wasn't anything to write home about...but the penguins were. It was definitely worth doing, even though it was not a polished professionally run tour. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who has any mobility impairment or might have trouble getting in and out of an off-road vehicle..or who minds a bit of mud. I was really happy that I wore my rain pants.
In Ushuaia we took the catamaran through the Beagle Channel to Harberton with a bus ride back. Tierra del Fuego is beautiful and to see it by both land and sea was great. Harberton was beautiful, but not particularly interesting. However, the pictures I took of the skeletons of some of the animals we saw on the trip are interesting to have (one of Harberton's features is a modest natural history museum). The snack was no great shakes.
In Puerto Chacabuco we took the excursion to Coyhaique. The bus was large and there were several doing the same route, which was very tight for the amount of time we were in port. If the weatherhad been better it would have been a more pleasant trip. as it was there wasn't sufficient time to actually explore Coyhaique at all, and it might have been better to have taken a different excursion with a less challenging agenda (less time sitting on the bus). The "snack" provided was really nice: little shish kebabs of barbecued meat and sausage, fruit, empanadas and local wines.
In Puerto Montt we took the Lakes, Waterfalls and Volcanoes excursion. Even though the volcano was wreathed in clouds and it was quite chilly and windy at the ski area the views out over the lake and countryside were spectacular on the way up and down. The waterfalls area was lovely and the lunch was fantastic: Pisco Sour, vegetable soup (squash base), wine, salmon, flan and coffee.
In Valparaiso we took the Santiago and Vina del Mar with transfer. We really didn't see much of either Valparaiso or Vina del Mar. The tour was just a bus ride through the city. We saw much more of Santiago. The tour included a mid-morning snack of empanadas and wine and a large lunch with a very similar menu to the one in Puerto Montt. There had been several brush fires so the air was thick with smoke but if the air were clear the scenery would have been wonderful. As it was I rather regret not having ponied up the extra money to have a private or small group tour and transfer through Avanti or Aviator that would have given us more time on the coast and a chance to really see a bit of Valparaiso. It wasn't a bad tour it just didn't emphasize what we most wanted to see.
I would definitely do this trip again. Read Less