Our first cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. The Sun is the smallest cruise ship we have cruised on, so it was quite different than all others. That being said and "supposedly" being "updated" in 2016, the old ... Read More
Our first cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. The Sun is the smallest cruise ship we have cruised on, so it was quite different than all others. That being said and "supposedly" being "updated" in 2016, the old lady is definitely showing her age in a day of newer, bigger, better cruise ships. Many pro's and con's to the Sun.
Great itinerary for Alaska, especially the Hubbard Glacier
Garden Buffet - food quality better than many cruise lines offer even if very small variety
Teppanyaki was fun and good food. Would suggest to all Norwegian Cruisers (if offered on your ship), albeit it $25 extra per person charge
Dinnerware was AT / ON the table in the Buffet - so no need to hunt it down somewhere else in another line. Albeit it did not include spoons, so if you needed one, you had to get it wherever you got the item that required it
Most staff was very cordial and polite. Room was kept clean and tidy when we were not keeping them from doing it. Dining areas, especially the buffet were cleaned and ready for another passengers usage quickly and was very much needed.
Small ship means less space for those onboard and that easily translates into rude people seeming to be more in your face than on larger ships
Old lady that needs a big update or either retirement. The overall design / configuration is very poor and shows it's age. When you have to use stateroom passageways to get to and from many places around the ship, that is not good. Planning your travel itinerary from one part of the ship to another due to inaccessible areas and flow thru on many decks makes it harder than it should be.
Garden Buffet super small and very small menu choices and seemed to have same choices every day. The flow of the Buffet made it really hard to get around and confusion about where the line starts and ends was a constant. While a smaller ship, the Garden Buffet is very inadequate for the amount of passengers whom use it daily. Many people had to go to overflow areas like the Sports Bar and other places due to lack of seating capacity. The outdoor deck with cover is great if your in a warm and dry environment, which Alaska in September is typically not and was not on this cruise except for maybe a day or two. Yet people did sit out there to eat from the Buffet to have a place to eat.
Main Dining Room(s) were okay, but again menu was very small and only offered a few extra "daily" choices. Easier to use these rooms than the buffet at times. Having 2 dining rooms was slightly confusing as the Seven Seas was marked as "traditional" and the other as "contemporary." Both offered the same exact food items, so the classifications are way off in my book. The Seven Seas was fairly easy to get to as it was on Deck 5 Aft - under the Garden Buffet by a few decks. The other dining room was on Deck 5 as well, but mid-deck, which required some logistical insight as to how to get there from where your room or you were at the time.
My biggest pet peeve was having a waitress from the Philippines and a Maitre D from China telling me about my bison steak I ordered at Cagney's - a pay for extra dining experience. While these 2 people may have been schooled by Norwegian about bison, they have probably never seen one in person or ever eaten it when prepared properly - which I have (think Ted's Montana Grill). My bison steak was tough, had a lot of gristle which I hate in a "supposed" good / great steak, and more fat than should be on a bison steak - think lean. When I mentioned it to both ladies, I got "schooled" for a couple of minutes on bison, which was absolutely untrue in my experience. They both did say they explained my comments to the chef and provided a small token of apology in some chocolates. If Norwegian truly wants customer input, then those who "ask" for it should also be taught to take the comments and not try to school the customer on their "lack" of real knowledge on the subject matter. Even comparing it to the Angus Beef they use was a poor comparison. Maybe that is why few people may actually make real and true comments about their meals and experiences, as they get a type of backlash from the crew; when the comments should be just taken and looked at for content and context. If truly appropriate, then make changes; if not - then let it go.
Moderna Churrascaria - while a nice attempt was made for a "different" dining experience, Norwegian needs to work on this one some. Not sure about staffing in this dining room, but ours was slow and very lackluster for another "pay for" restaurant. Our initial server seemed to be the only one serving the whole room, so service was very poor and very slow - if she came around - which was not her fault, but gets the blame. The whole concept on a churrascaria is about the meat and presentation. Presentation was okay when they were actually out delivering meat, which also was very slow. The variety was better than most land-based churrascaria's - but the quality for most of it was not there. The filet mignon was the only one which had true flavor. The rest were just so-so.
The Teppanyaki was fun and entertaining, but some of the menu items left a lot to be desired - especially the green tea cake and ice cream. It was only 1 of 2 dessert items available - which needs to be addressed. I suppose I could have asked for something off-menu and gotten it, but why not offer a couple more "likable / eatable" choices instead.
Hot tubs - while greatly appreciated and needed - they also need to be at a decent warm temp on cold Alaska and not lukewarm. The 2 minute timer is also a major pain in the backside as well to keep the jet action going. I do understand as timer is necessary, but maybe 5 minutes is a better alternative. A heated pool would be a nice luxury on a cold Alaskan Cruise as well, but know the expense and headache may not be worth it. Yet, it would allow more people to utilize a very under-utilized asset on the ship. Also both pools were very small and one was specifically set aside for adults only, which is great if available to be used.
Very short stay in the capital Juneau and hard to find decent excursions for that short time period. While not Norwegians fault - another cancelled excursion we really wanted to go on due to weather.
We booked our cruise back in April '17 and since we had missed a dog sledding excursion on our last Alaska Cruise, we wanted to do one this time. According to the Norwegian Sun Excursions website - dog sledding excursions were being offered in both Skagway and Juneau during our cruise period. No way to do it in Juneau on a 7 am to 1-1:30 pm departure, so Skagway would work. Contacted the Excursion Operators about it and told directly they were not offering dog sledding after September 1 in Skagway. Told them that Norwegian was offering it still on our "Cruise Excursion Page," so what's the real deal. Shortly after that call, the dog sledding excursions "disappeared" from our Cruise Excursion Page. While I know that that excursion IS OFFERED before Sept 1st, it's not website magic to NOT show it on our particular cruise website when not available.
Muster Drill. While "EVERYONE" knows it's a requirement, our cruise staff let many who were slow, late, very late, and probably had to be retold to go to Deck 6 to keep everyone else standing for over 15 extra minutes before the drill started - because "WE" had to wait for "ALL" the stragglers. Quit punishing those whom abide by the rules and are on time and make it painful for those who can't.
Smoking is only allowed in certain areas on the ship. Another one of those "EVERYONE" is told this. Yet, the cabin below us continually smoked nasty smelly "cigars" out on their balcony. When we mentioned it the first time to Guest Services, we got brushed off by being told we needed to call them when "it was happening." Not afterwards. So, the next time we make the call - no answer at guest services. 3rd time - Guest Services notifies Housekeeping to check it out - yet they told OUR Room Steward there was a problem in OUR room. Not sure if Norwegian ever got it right on this one, but their procedures and actions suck.
Internet and Internet Cafe. WOW - got to hate cruise ship internet. Even more so their computers they offer in the Internet Cafe. My old 286 was faster than theirs and that was what 20 years ago. I'm a slow typist, using one finger on each hand and even the ship computer(s) could not keep up. I often had to stop to let it catch up and re-type much of it as it simply could not handle my "fast" typing skills. While a possible error on the Windows 7 part, nearly every computer showed that the Windows 7 version was NOT authentic. Since it was an Enterprise Version, maybe there was an error on it's part to properly NOT SHOW that message, but just another glitch in Norwegians sad try at providing computers for cruisers to use. Nice they are there since TSA trashed my laptop on the way up for the trip, but if you provide it - make sure it's in good working order. I probably wasted well over 30 minutes of my 250 minute package waiting for the Internet and computer to work. While at sea and using satellite, maybe a small reason for it being slow, but even satellite links have improved greatly over the years. While in port, why can't cruise lines have a faster city / port connection versus relying on satellite - just a thought for improved service and passenger experience.
Soda and Liquor Package offering. Since the buffet had no staff for those who may have purchased these packages, they would be somewhat worthless for the most part. Since I decided not to purchase one and glad for it - having to find an open bar for me to actually use the package would have been the kicker for sure. The main dining rooms and pay for restaurants DO / DID ask if we wanted something for the bar. Yet, 75% or more people seemed to utilize the Buffet the most and it had zero staff that I saw to be "runners" for the bar. The staff I observed all were involved in removing dishes, cleaning tables, or restocking the tables with silverware and such (novel and good idea on the dinnerware at / on the table).
Carpet colors were quite strange. While they did fit the "nautical" theme, the carpet on the stairs was a different color than on the main floor, etc. While not a real big issue - was just weird on choices they used.
Due to such small size, when formal night pictures and others were being done in the main lobby area on Deck 5, the flashes had to be placed on railings on Deck 6, so if you passed by on Deck 6 when a picture was being taken - you were temporarily blinded by them and you weren't in the picture. Thankfully that was not an often occurrence.
While you may look at my list and say to yourself, "Man, what a jerk. Why does he even take cruises, if they are so bad?" Good questions, but each and every cruise and ship are far different even if same brand and type of ship. You also can't "FIX" what may be broken in a cruisers eye, if not told about it. How else can they or will they improve if not told about issues? Some can be easily fixed, others not so due to age of ship, etc. Something Norwegian and other cruise lines need to be aware of to better the experiences of all cruisers. I am picky and have a right to be. Especially on this cruise, I think I way overpaid for what I got in return. While this was not exactly a Norwegian issue, as I used a travel agent (WMPH / iCruises), which I will never use again - they do have some skin in the game by the prices they set. I also base it on my past cruises, including one to Alaska. While that does not make me an expert, we all want fair value for our hard earned dollars we spend on vacations and cruising. I do praise where it is appropriate as well, so there is some balance. Everyone's opine is their own and your may be different than mine - you may be less or more critical - that's human nature. Other cruisers that come after me on this ship and in Alaska have some extra knowledge to base their choices on whether to go with it or pick another one that may have better ratings. Hopefully Norwegian will address the issues they can fix and do so, so that everyone who cruises with them gets fair value and a nice experience. Read Less