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Sail Date: November 2008
Background: This was our fourth cruise with NCL . Having experienced Freestyle cruising before, we knew what to expect and have only cruise with NCL prior for this very reason. Pre Cruise: We flew in to San Francisco 3 days ... Read More
Background: This was our fourth cruise with NCL . Having experienced Freestyle cruising before, we knew what to expect and have only cruise with NCL prior for this very reason. Pre Cruise: We flew in to San Francisco 3 days prior, as we had not been there before. We stayed at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf and could not recommend this hotel enough. The rooms were very clean and modern, the bed super comfortable and the staff extremely friendly. It was also in a great location and only a short walk to catch a cable car down town. The rates were very good also for the calibre of this hotel. Embarkation: I have to say that it was quite disorganised. As we were staying in a Suite, we had access to the VIP lounge for check in. The problem was that it was not that easy to find and there was no one on the ground that knew where it was or how to get to it. We eventually fumbled our way through and once we got there our Concierge met us. The Ship: The first word that comes to mind when thinking about the Norwegian Sun is "old". It's in need of refurbishment for sure. It just looks tired. The lay out of the ship is a little awkward at first but you soon get the hang of it. I quite liked the size of the ship and there were always plenty of places to find some quiet time. The pool deck was quite nice with the two pools although the hot tubs are all placed together. I would prefer them a little spread out like the other ships. The Food: Fantastic. We ate in a few of the specialty restaurants and they were great. The service was exceptional and the temperature of the food was never a problem. It did not matter where we ate, we can't think of a time where we ate a bad meal. We had the luxury of eating in Il Adagio for breakfast and lunch and that was the culinary highlight for us. Very private and the quality of the food was top notch. The Cabin: We stayed in an aft facing Suite and while the location and design of the cabin was great, it was very run down. It was like staying in a 3 star motel room. The carpet was worn, the walls stained and the cabin furniture all marked and worn. Old CRT televisions, I could go on.... Entertainment: The jean Ann Ryan shows ere great although the rest of the production shows were very average. I am of the younger variety and I can say that the entertainment was clearly aimed at those over 60. Nothing wrong with that but it would have been nice to see some variety for all ages. Ports: I would certainly recommend this itinerary. The ports of call were very good. I wont list port by port suffice to say that the highlights were Arica and Coquimbo in Chile. There is really something for every one on this trip. Conclusion: I must admit that after this cruise I really thought hard about whether I would cruise with NCL again based on my Suite experience which was far from great. The cabin was underwhelming and not worth the money in my opinion. Having said this, Belkys our concierge was wonderful and the restaurant perks for Suite guests was great. The Norwegian Sun, while an ok ship, is far from the best I have cruised on. So in summary, yes I would cruise with NCL again, although not in a Suite and certainly not on this ship again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 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
1 Helpful Vote
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
We arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina around 11:20am, after flying through the night. We collected our luggage and made our way to the group representative waiting for us in the terminal. It was quite warm in Buenos Aires, so were ... Read More
We arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina around 11:20am, after flying through the night. We collected our luggage and made our way to the group representative waiting for us in the terminal. It was quite warm in Buenos Aires, so were looking forward to getting on board quickly and being able to change from our winter clothing to something more appropriate. We arrived at the pier around 1:30 pm. The pier was looking quite congested as the Sun was joined by RCI's Radiance of the Seas. Due to the amount of people, we weren't quite sure where we were supposed to be, so I asked one of the reps stationed outside if there would be a special Latitudes embarkation. I was told there is no Latitudes in Buenos Aires. Not a problem, we got into line behind a nice British couple and happily started chatting away. The boarding was extremely warm and no fans or air conditioning were in evidence. We had many older passengers who could no longer stand in line due to the extreme heat and many were seated in the front area and quite a few others required wheelchairs. There was no water or iced ted provided and this is one of the worst embarkations we have ever encountered. We finally made it to our cabin around 3:30 pm after having our passport checked numerous times along with the required Argentine immigration forms. Our cabin, 4248, was located on the starboard side of deck 4. It was a reasonably, good sized, outside cabin with a large porthole. The cabin was clean and well laid out and we were happy to be able to shower and change prior to sailing! Muster was at 4:30pm and probably lasted way too long for all of us as we had just come in from the heat! We sailed around 6 pm towards Montevideo, Uruguay. We met up with some of our cruise critic friends and made our way to the Four Seasons restaurant for dinner. Service was mediocre for the evening meal and our dinner companion had to keep asking for a "diet" coke from the barman, not a regular coke. She had purchased a soda card and it appears at times if a tip is not forthcoming, you do not receive the best service with a soda card. This exchange actually resulted in a disagreement between the barman and our cc friends and we did speak with the Maitre'D at the end of our meal. Upon arrival in Montevideo, we grabbed a free shuttle to the one of the more famous leather stores; from there we walked around the Plaza Independencia as well as the waterfront. We had a nice day in port with beautiful weather. Our cruise critic Meet and Greet was scheduled for 12/9/08. This was a day at sea and our group events coordinator arranged our meet in the Observation Lounge, port side on deck 12. I arrived a few minutes early to put out name tags and pens. A table had been set up with cookies, something they called orange juice (this was truly a watered down version of Tang) and coffee. I believe we had about 35-40 people and we were joined by the captain and his senior officers shortly after the start of our meet. Quit a few of us stayed for a long time chatting about previous cruises and things we were hoping to see on this voyage. We had a wonderful group and my only regret is that we didn't get enough time to spend with so many others that we enjoyed meeting. We arrived in Puerto Madryn on 12/11. We joined cc members Wernew2cruising, Ljohio and Masik on the pier to see if we could get an independent tour to Puerto Piramides for whale watching. Masik had also brought along another couple, so we had 10 of us and we set out to find a large van. We were greeted at the end of the pier by many companies and started speaking with a young man about where we would like to go and what we would like to do. Unfortunately at this time, the other couple started arguing with our tour guides about the whales not being in residence in Puerto Madryn as was told to him by a former submarine captain from Puerto Madryn. To make a long story short, this couple argued with the tour operator, our guide and other cc members. This interaction had a very negative impact on our time spent in this beautiful, protected world heritage site. The cc members who took the cruise to see whales, refused to join this couple on the tour. The six of us who stayed behind had a pleasant lunch at a waterfront restaurant, then, we walked around the town to get some more photos. We spent a pleasant few hours on the Valdes Peninsula. The water is beautiful and we could see some sea lions with their young, many guanacos, birds and sheep along the way. Our tour guide, a teacher, was excellent and we enjoyed her pleasant narration on the long ride. We had a day at sea between Puerto Madryn and Stanley, so we decided to burn off some calories in the gym. The ship had quite a nice gym, not huge but well appointed for the size of the Sun. There were four elliptical machines, four recumbent bikes, about 8-10 treadmills, 2 stationary bikes, three elliptical type stair stepper machines, one regular stepper and an assortment of weight machines and free weights. As is the norm, treadmills filled up very quickly and many passengers did not adhere to the 30 minute limit signs posted all over the gym. After a few complaints, the gym managers started watching more closely in the busy morning hours. Steve and I made it a point to go very early or later in the afternoon! We had very nice weather tendering into Stanley and we only needed a light jacket or a sweatshirt as the sun was shining brightly. We were met at the pier by the buses from Gypsy Cove. It was $20 roundtrip and there was usually a bus available to return whenever one wished. This area was quite beautiful and we did a lot of walking around the cove. We were unable to get close to the beach due to the landmines still in the beach area, but we did see many penguins along the beach and hillsides and we took beautiful shots of the bay. We returned after a couple of hours and stopped in at a traditional English pub for lunch then, walked along the waterfront and did a little souvenir shopping before returning to the ship. We left Stanley around 4 pm and headed for Cape Horn. What had been a warm, lovely day, suddenly started to turn cold and blustery, and completely fitting for Cape Horn! We had rocky seas but nothing too bad and we did venture outside frequently to take pictures. As luck would have it, wernew2cruising had procured a front suite three days prior to sailing so we were able to enjoy our trip around the Horn in total comfort! Ushuaia, Argentina is the gateway to Antarctica and every bit as beautiful as its photos. We were told they had not seen the sun for two months prior to our arrival. Since our time was very limited, the six of us disembarked early to find a driver/guide to Tierra del Fuego national park. Naturally, there was no problem finding transport, the only problem was finding an English speaking guide! We paid a little bit more than the average $25 per person but we had a nice van, driver and guide and we were on our way to the park at the end of the world. The park is magnificent and a definite must see. There is a post office in the park where you can mail postcards stamped with the "end of the world" on them. Our driver provided an excellent history about the area and we have many postcard worthy photos of our time in the park. We returned to the pier around noon and did a bit of shopping on the pier. Tickets to the train at the end of the world and transport to the train can be bought at the pier for $60 per person. We left Ushuaia about an hour late and headed towards the Beagle for glacier cruising. Since we did the cruise from Buenos Aires, our cabin was perfectly situated on the starboard side of the ship. The weather was getting quite cool in the channel and we started the glacier viewing at around 5:30 pm. A disembodied voice over the speaker announced all the pertinent information about each glacier and a fact sheet was also provided in our cabin. The scenery is absolutely stunning, but make sure you have warm clothes! Hats, gloves, scarves and jackets are necessary and I used them all! We arrived in Punta Arenas on 12/15. Since this was a tender port, Ljohio was kind enough to get tender tickets for the all six of us as we had an independent tour to Magdalena Island scheduled for 10:15am. We had no problem finding the office of our tour operator about 3 blocks away. We joined our other cc members Cosalamx, luv2getaway and Masik on a small boat tour to Isla Magdalena and Isla Marta. Isla Magdalena is amazing and totally covered in penguins! We had a nice hike around the island for about one hour then, we all returned to the boat for a bumpy ride to Isla Marta to see the seals and sea lions. Wernew2crusing returned to the ship due to illness along with Ljohio, Steve and I struck out to find some lunch and shopping prior to returning to the ship. Our next two days were to consist of cruising the Strait of Magellan along with the Patagonic Channels. We had rough seas, high winds and cold weather. Many passengers were seasick and I know they probably weren't pleased that we turned around and headed back into the Strait when the captain received a distress call from the HMS Endurance. At the time, the captain provided us with very little information other than to tell us they were four hours from us and we were closest to them. I doubt that any passenger required an explanation about why we needed to assist a ship in distress, but many were upset that they weren't provided much information. We arrived in the area around 1:30 am and stayed until 8:30 am. Due to this call, we missed Puerto Chacabuco. Many converged upon reception for return of port fees! They were a whopping $5.13 per person! The captain said he would do some extra cruising through the Channels to make up the missed port. While we were disappointed, the Fjords were spectacular and we quickly forgot our missed port. We had an NCL arranged horseback riding tour in Puerto Montt, so, we headed down to the main lounge at 9:00 am. Our NCL guide took us down to back stairs and we were on the tender within minutes! It was a dreary morning and we were getting some rain. Unfortunately since it was not cold, I took only a light jacket, no hat. Luckily we were provided rain slickers at the beautiful El Colote stables. Our horses were well groomed and well fed and I could almost see mischievous glints in their eyes as we took off on our trail ride around the Lake District. Our guide, Yaqueline, provided us with lots of information about the area and answered many questions on the two hour ride. We ended our ride with a spectacular gallop down by the beach before returning to the stable to rest our sore bottoms! Our driver from the stable dropped us in town and we had a nice lunch before walking back to the pier. We arrived in Valparaiso early Sunday morning and disembarked amid the chaos even before they called our color. Eight of us cc members were taking an independent, all day, extended tour of Valparaiso prior to being dropped at the airport for our late flights home. Since Steve and I were the last ones to get our luggage, the other cc members set off to find our driver. They finally located him by the Infinity pier! We had a really great tour of the wine country, Valparaiso, Renaca and Santiago. Prior to being dropped at the airport, we concluded the tour with a visit to the Virgen atop San Cristobal hill. We were definitely ready to head home by the time we were dropped at the airport! Our overall view of the Norwegian Sun is that the Freestyle doesn't work well. The service goes from excellent to mediocre due to the fact you never form a personal bond with any of the help. The buffet line (only one line in the Garden Cafe) doesn't flow well and others are constantly cutting in and pushing in front to get what they want. The food in the buffet goes from adequate to very good. Food in the dining rooms is very good to excellent, but be careful what you order! If you think that baked flounder might not be the best choice, don't order it! Don't expect meals like you would have on other ships, there is no lobster night per se. The last night offered a seafood linguini which contained a lobster tail that was either under or over cooked along with scallops, shrimp and mussels. Another night, a good tasting roast beef was listed on the menu as "prime rib". It was good, but it wasn't prime rib! The pay restaurants are not worth the money that is being charged but we did feel our "romance package" that NCL offers for $79 was an excellent value. We had an excellent meal/service in Le Bistro. Il Adagio offers tasty food, but it is a far cry from good "Italian" food. Drink service in the sports bar/pool area was very good while it was downright rude in the Dazzles Nightclub. They now offer fresh juice on the bar menus only (quite a high fee from $2.50 to $3.50 per glass) and serve watered down Tang and apple juice in the breakfast area/dining rooms. Iced tea only during lunch. NCL asked what would be the one thing I would change on my comment card, this would be it. Offer iced tea, lemonade and punch as well as real juice. We will sail with them again and did put down a future cruise deposit for our $100 on board credit. I am hoping they will make some positive changes prior to our next adventure! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
The problems started with embarkation and almost three hours of standing in line in a very warm building. There were only five check-in positions for about 1,000 cabins. Any competent person could have quickly calculated that it would ... Read More
The problems started with embarkation and almost three hours of standing in line in a very warm building. There were only five check-in positions for about 1,000 cabins. Any competent person could have quickly calculated that it would take too long to process the passengers and would have at least arranged for chairs and a number system, as well as provide cool drinks. The buffet was a complete zoo for the entire cruise. There were insufficient tables and chairs inside and it was too cool to eat outside for most of the days on the cruise. There were no trays in the buffet, so it was necessary to make a separate trip to get a cup of coffee or juice, and, if you left the table, someone else would sit there. Cards on the table to indicate "occupied" would have been helpful. The service in the dining rooms was mediocre. It often took over 20 minutes to get a pot of tea after dinner. The hours of the dining rooms could have been extended to accommodate the need for more inside dining space. The first day of tenders, we waited over an hour to get on a tender to leave the ship. It was as if we were being punished for not booking an NCL shore excursion. The tender service seemed to improve after that day, or perhaps it was only because we lined up for tender tickets 30 minutes before they started handing them out. The specialty restaurants were overpriced for the food and service provided. Generally, there was no feeling of being pampered, and there seemed to be no attempts made to solve problems. 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
We booked our own air and traveled from New York to Buenos Aires on Mexicana. The first flight was on a smaller plane and was a bit tight (lasted about 7 hours). We switched to a larger (more comfortable) plane in Mexico city with a two ... Read More
We booked our own air and traveled from New York to Buenos Aires on Mexicana. The first flight was on a smaller plane and was a bit tight (lasted about 7 hours). We switched to a larger (more comfortable) plane in Mexico city with a two hour lay over. The flight from Mexico to Buenos Aires was another 7 hours or so. Mexicana was a pleasant surprise. They offered free drinks, a comfort gift, food and movies on both flights. Basically we left New York at 12:30 am and arrived the following night at 9:30. The cost of air fare was about $1,200 each - return (we were on a serious budget). Our friend who traveled separately, but traveled alone and booked 5 days before the trip got a much faster, more direct flight RETURN for about $1000 on AA (her flight home stopped in Florida, but the flight to Buenos Aires was direct out of NY). We arrived three days before the cruise and stayed at the Don Telmo Hotel in the (up and coming) San Telmo area. We had made arrangements for the hotel to pick us up at the airport. (They were a little late, we waited about 30 minutes). Husband tried to do banking at airport, but card was rejected (despite making travel arrangements with bank before we left - his card did not work for entire trip, making finances a bit tricky). Decided on The Don Telmo Hotel because: It was cheap, in a real part of the city (Not a touristy spot), and Don Telmo is the patron saint of navigation. We wanted a taste of the real Buenos Aires. The hotel was a small, restored, art nouveau/deco place with a lovely roof garden (but no pool). Our friend arrived earlier in the day and we arrived to find a note informing us that she had made a friend and gone to the Madonna concert. We enjoyed Buenos Aires enormously. Food was good, shopping and museums were great, subway and cabs very efficient!. We stayed out with old friends (who live in the city) until 5:30 in the morning at a real Tango place (not the tourist show). Buenos Aires really is the city that does not sleep at night (New York does sleep). When we left the Tango place the streets were still alive with people coming and going (mind you, it was a Saturday night). We had about 4 hours sleep before we had to check out on Sunday. After fond farewells (the hotel held our bags until needed), we did the famous street market in San Telmo (a short walk from our hotel). Then took a cab to the pier and the Sun. We arrived at the pier about 3. It was hot and the lines were long. We got on board around 5. There was no bubbly welcome (I think they ran out) and no escort to cabin). But our friend, who had never cruised before was still impressed. We were in an aft balcony, our friend was on 6. Our pre arranged Bar Setup was waiting. Room 8278 was adequate in size and had the perfect view, unfortunately it did have some noise issues. We were above the Stardust Theater and next door to a suite (both could be noisy). Despite the poor acoustics, I would book this room again, the theatre closed by 11:00 and the view was too spectacular. Our stewards were not intrusive, and did a great job of keeping the room spick and span. I did have to remind them twice to return used beach towels (NCL charges if you loose them), and they were unable to come up with brandy sniffers for our bar set up, but other than that, they were perfect. As expected, the Sun is smaller, with few bells and whistles. I thought she was in great shape, sailed well and had a good design. We spent alot of time in the aft out door area, in the Sports Bar (loved the chairs and great windows) and usually breakfasted in the waffle room (this room is a no charge, healthy food joint at dinner). I have cruised 4 other times and have never thought cruise directors were any big deal, but Andrea on the Sun was an exception to this rule - He was amazing! At night we partied a fare amount in several of the lounges. Food: We almost always ordered room service coffee and fruit for a wake up call and then proceeded to the Waffle room or Aft outside garden cafe for breakfast. Hardly ever had lunch on board, but managed to eat when hungry. Dinner was usually in the free dinning rooms. We went to three speciality restaurants. The Steak House — was okay. Teppanyaki — was fun, food okay. Le Bistro — was good, but compared to Le Bistro on other NCL ships, not up to par. In general, I was disappointed in the specialty restaurants, they simply were not that great. But I would still choose to try them, just for a change of pace. Excursions: We took two NCL excursions, The one to see penguins at Puerta Madryn was great. I convinced my friend to choose the cheaper option and travel with us. The expensive trip offered a van of no more than 6. Our bus only had 6 and it was great. The other NCL excursion, the catamaran ride on Lake Esmerelda and Falls at Puerto Mott was recommended by a review on CC, but for us, it was disappointing, way over priced and too crowded. Friends we met on board, took a cab, saw way more on a way more personal level and paid a third less than what we did. (Also we got into trouble for being late for the bus when returning to the ship-they almost left without us. I don't blame them for that, just giving you a heads up, not to be late). Ports: Buenos Aires: We loved it, but two couples we met on board had been robbed there. Montevideo: We took a free van to a leather store and walked a couple of blocks to main downtown from there. Enjoyed market, art galleries and architecture. Puerto Madryn: Saw penguins (very close and personal), also enjoyed long bus ride over wild west terrain. Stanley, Falkland Islands: This city was a lovely surprise with loads of (summer) flowers, penguins and quaint buildings. The weather was perfect, even warm and we felt lucky to see it. Ushuaia: Was incredibly gorgeous and everyone wanted more time in this port. The mountains reflect on clear lakes and the people were lovely. Would definitely go back again and think NCL should make this a two day stop. Punta Arenas: We hooked up with some CC members for a tour here. More penguins (getting tired at this point). Had a good lunch at a place called Luna and did the market. ALERT! I totally regret not buying some gorgeous wool items at this port, thinking there would be more to come - NOT, The quality of goods does not improve after this port. Rounding the Horn was amazing! Enjoyed the Glaciers of the Beagle Channel. Puerto Chacabuco: We missed this port because we had to go to the aid of a ship in distress in the Strait of Magellan and an emergency medical lift. Puerto Montt: Nothing too special (See above excursion note). Valparaiso: We rented a car and drove to an organic winery called Matetic. It was awesome, beautiful and spiritual. Then we dropped our friend at airport (only got a little lost) and proceeded to the International Hotel in Santiago. Excellent hotel (with pool), but we only slept there before catching a flight at 7 in the morning. Overview: It was a super trip, and we marvel at the fact that we got to see the tip of South America. Highlights: The Falklands, Ushuaia, Rounding The Horn, meeting lots of great people and star gazing! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 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
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