We were a party of 21 going on a 3 day Pacific Coastal cruise on board Norwegian Sun. Most of us had not cruised with Norwegian before. We had 2 sets of grandparents in their early seventies, 3 sets of middle aged parents with 3 University ... Read More
We were a party of 21 going on a 3 day Pacific Coastal cruise on board Norwegian Sun. Most of us had not cruised with Norwegian before. We had 2 sets of grandparents in their early seventies, 3 sets of middle aged parents with 3 University students, one 15 yr old High school daughter and a 7 year old who had not cruised before. The other members of our group were female, travelling without their respective families and spouses. Most of us had been on cruises before with other cruise lines. Ship Details: 935 crew, 1936 guests, 78,309 Gross tonnage 11 restaurants, 11 bars and Lounges, Body Waves spa and Beauty Salon, Sports court, fitness Centre, Stardust Lounge, Sun Club Casino, Internet cafe, Lifestyle room(gym- open 24 hours), Kid's Korner, Dazzles Nightclub, 2 Swimming pools, Kid's pool and 5 Hot Tubs.
Embarkation: This was extremely slow as the computers were not running. They sat most of us down and offered juice, cookies and banana bread. Once the computers were up and running, it was another slow wait as most of the crew checking us in were trainees, who were confused and unsure of what they were doing. We found it a complete waste of time for us to have completed our advance guest registration information with our credit card information etc. as they asked for the same information all over again. NCL needs to improve on this.
Cabins: We received a complimentary upgrade from oceanview to Balcony for our family of 4. It was adequate and well laid out. We liked the ample pull out drawers and basketlike shelves in our closet. Bathroom was slightly bigger than what we had previously experienced on Princess. We had a queen size bed and a pull out sofa bed The queen size bed was more comfortable than the sofa bed. Our comforters were light and comfortable. But our pillows were too small and soft. Most of us had to ask for extra pillows.
Places to Eat- Garden Cafe on Deck 11- This buffet eating area was small compared to other Princess and Celebrity ships we had been on. Most people were able to sit in the deck area in the aft section or towards midship where the pool was located. But this would only work if the weather was favorable. The menu choice was better than what we were accustomed to. We had Tilipia, Vegetarian Indian curries, standard choice of salads, roast beef, fried chicken, cold cuts, fruit, soups, coffee, ice tea, tea, milk. Our kids were disappointed that there was no punch or any other drinks available. Dinner - We made reservations for 18 of us on the 1st night relatively easily at the reservation desk on Deck 5 at one of the main dining rooms - Four Seasons Main Restaurant located on Deck 5 Midship Menu selection was okay. There were 2 different kinds of salads available - Caesar salad or Garden salad with your choice of standard dressing. There was a choice of hot or chilled soup. My husband enjoyed his chilled peach soup. Main entree comprised of fish, chicken, beef and vegetarian curry (somewhat similar to what we had at lunch). Dessert selection was adequate.
Pacific Heights - On deck 11- Light cooking meals offered here. My parents went there with their friends for dinner on their last night . They had Boston clam chowder, perch and mussels for dinner. All booth seats were located along the window, giving everyone an ocean view. They enjoyed their dinner here. Again, would recommend making reservations here as the sitting area is cosy. No cover charge here. During lunch , you will find the pasta and pizza station here.
Seven Seas Main Restaurant: Located on Deck 5 Aft - A larger dining area than Four Seasons. We had lunch twice here and dinner on our last night. This place presented the food in a more traditional way than Four Seasons. We preferred the service and food here than Four Seasons. On our last night most of us had Prime rib. I had tilapia with light Thai coconut curry sauce and Jasmine rice. We also ordered Veal. For soup, we had the choice of Tomato bisque or chilled avocado with shrimp. Dessert was sherbet, light apple pie or kiwi pie.
Sandwich station - Sorry, cannot recall where it was located - either on Deck 11 or Deck 12. There were signs posted by the elevators giving people Lunch station options. I thought this was an excellent idea.
Other eating places: With cover charge:
iL Adagio restaurant located on Deck 5 - Italian dinner. This was one of the best dinner! 7 of us had reserved this place as our dinner choice for our second night. It cost $10 per person, but we found out after we had booked that if you booked between 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm, it was 50% off. So, we lucked out as our reservations had been made for 6:00 pm. We had 2 really efficient and friendly waitress. Sri was from Indonesia and the other lady was from Romania. They sat us in booth like seats - 4 in one booth and the other 3 in a booth right beside us. All booths faced the window, thereby giving us oceanview at all times. It was a spectacular way to dine. Our Caesar salad came with 4 huge prawns. Our table had grilled Swordfish, Rack of Lamb and Chicken Parmesan. We also had smoked salmon bowtie pasta and mushrooms as a side dish. For dessert we had a very light cheesecake made from Ricotta cheese with raspberry sauce on the side, Tiramisu and decadent chocolate ball. Our evening was topped off by a cup of Cappuccino. We highly recommend you make reservations here when you first get onto the ship as it was difficult to get reservations for subsequent nights at any hour. East Meets West Steakhouse- Located on Deck 12 - We did not eat here, but my best friend ate here with her 2 girlfriends. They preferred our Italian dinner the night before.
Le Bistro French Restaurant - Deck 12 - Las ramblas Tapas Bar and Restaurant - Deck 12 Ginza - Deck 12 Teppanyaki - Deck 12 Sushi bar - Deck 12
Breakfast: Buffet at Garden cafe on Deck 11 - this is where we had our breakfast. omelette station at Las ramblas Tapas - deck 12 - 3 families went here on the day we were at Astoria. They enjoyed their choice of omelettes. Sit down at Seven Seas restaurant Waffle station at Le Bistro - on Deck 12
Bars and Lounges - We hung out mainly at Dazzles nightclub (Deck 6)- watched Comedian shows, the Newly wed and not so newly wed show, Adult only Humour show, DJ disco dancing, Motown night with a band, 70's groovy night with Village people look alike, Austin Power look alike. They had smoking section and non smoking section - which we did not enjoy as even though we sat in the non smoking area, we could still smell the smoke. NCL should have non smoking at all public places and perhaps have a designated smoking room or corner of a deck for smokers. We also went to the Observation Lounge on Deck 12 - where they had a tribute to Celine Dion and mainly ballroom dancing kind of music. Stardust Lounge - Located on Deck 5 and 6 Aft - First night's show was an assortment of the different performers on board the ship. Second night was a juggling comedian and the final night was a Broadway musical type of show featuring Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Cats. Recommend you skip the first 2 nights and head only to the final show. Galleria Shops - Deck 7 - Good selection of jewelry, gift items and Duty free alcohol and cigarettes.
Casino - Tacky colors, hot and could smell smoke as they allowed smoking in certain areas.
Sports- Deck 12 - Golf Driving Net, Batting cages, Shuffle board, Basketball/Volleyball court - NCL should replace basketball and Volleyballs. Hot Tub - in them middle of the regular pool. Splash Kid's pool was located in a quiet corner with kid size colorful deck chairs.
Gym- Deck 11 - Loved the idea of a 24 hour gym. Good selection of exercise equipment. Went to a stretching class from 7:30 am to 8:00 am and then joined the low impact Aerobic class from 8:00 am to 8:30 am. Jogging/ Walking track: Deck 6 - This was a good place to go jogging or to walk around the ship several times after a meal. We enjoyed doing this several times around the ship.
Teen Club- For 13 - 17 year olds. Teen registration began at 5 Pm on Deck 7, Fwd on the first day. Activities for the first night - Ultimate teen scavenger Hunt, Showtime in the theatre, Battle of the Sexes - Guys vs . Girls and Teen club hangout. On the second day, while at sea, there was Ping pong Tournament, Casino Craze Poker, Roulette, Horse racing - played just for fun, no gambling involved. Man Hunt -Can you find him, Smoothie tasting, Teen only Hot Tubbing, Hunt it Down and Wear it Well, Wii Tournament. Final day - after our return from Astoria - Gong Karaoke, Matrix Hunt, Survivor Challenge and Farewell Fun. Our 15 year old enjoyed herself even though there not too many teens on board. She came back to our cabin with several door prizes - towels, back back, non alcoholic cocktail drink coupons.
Kid's Korner - Deck 7 - For the younger kids. Registration also began at 5 Pm on our first day. Good assortment of activities to keep the younger kids occupied.
Astoria - We had reserved 2 compacts and 1 van so that we could drive to Seaside, which is about a 20 minute drive. There is also an outlet factory with Niki, Van Huesen, Liz Claiborne, Eddy Bauer, Paper factory, Jones of New York - located just before you turn into Seaside. Seaside is also worth visiting as you can walk along the promenade and the shops as well as along the beach. Disappointment was that we had to tender in , so we ended up arriving on the Maritime museum side, while our rental cars were waiting on the pier side where Holland America had docked. We tried calling Enterprise car rental several times, but no one answered. We found out later, they offered our reserved vehicles to passengers from HAL as they said they were on a first come first served basis. Why bother taking reservations then? Guess when you are the only car rental agency in town, customer service and customer loyalty means absolutely nothing. Will never rent from Enterprise again. We ended up taking 2 van taxis to Seaside. They also arranged to pick us up from Seaside or the outlet mall once we were ready to head back to our ship. Our taxi driver Zak - gave us a short drive through the main downtown shopping area of Astoria. Name of this taxi company is Coast shuttle - offering cheap reliable transportation , 24 hours a day. They charged us $30 each way. We were able to sit 6 passengers in one van and 7 in the other.
All in all, we enjoyed our first experience with freestyle cruising with NCL. Although the food quality and menu selection was not as varied at what we had experienced with Celebrity and Princess, we found the ship to be a good size, easy to get around in and relatively friendly crew. There were a few female waitress on the buffet floor who could have smiled more, perhaps they were tired and needed more shore leave. The men in our group loved not having to dress up in their shirt and tie or Tuxedo. The ladies dressed up on our final night just to have our own formal night. We also thought it was very fitting that the final song at the Broadway show - Hey, Mr. Producer was "We are Family", by the group Sister Sledge, as we were truly " We are family" on board the Norwegian Sun and we exited the Stardust Lounge singing this song!
Disembarkation: Very smooth - We had breakfast around 7:45 am, left our cabin at 8:40 am and made our way to Deck 5 where the Atrium was located and walked off with our cabin luggage. Not much of a wait time at Canada Customs. It is truly amazing that Canada Customs is so much faster at Canada Place, considering we have at least 1900 passengers disembarking at staggered times. Vancouver Airport Customs could learn from Canada Place customs. We have always had huge line ups at the Airport. One slight snag was the lack of taxi service due to Vancouver Marathon which closed off many of the downtown streets, thereby diverting buses and taxis. We tried to wait for a taxi van, but was informed by NCL representatives that we would be better off walking up to Pan Pacific or any of the other downtown hotels to hail a cab. We opted for the 98B line(express bus service to Richmond) instead. We walked to the front of the Seabus terminal to catch the 98B line , but realized that there would be no buses running here either due to the Marathon, so had to go in full circle to catch the 98B line on Burrard street, infront of Hyatt Regency. Read Less