4 Norwegian Sun Hawaii Cruise Reviews

We just returned from the September 29th sailing of the Norwegian Sun. This was our eleventh cruise and our second time on the Sun. We had spent the night on Oahu after previously arriving on the RCI's Rhapsody of the Seas. I really ... Read More
We just returned from the September 29th sailing of the Norwegian Sun. This was our eleventh cruise and our second time on the Sun. We had spent the night on Oahu after previously arriving on the RCI's Rhapsody of the Seas. I really enjoy cruising and found both cruise lines have their own unique strengths and weaknesses! The embarkation was easy and our car rental shuttle dropped us off right at the pier. We did have to haul our luggage a good distance in order to check it in, which was difficult for some. We were on the ship by 5:30. Our cabin, 5201 was an outside cabin with a large picture window. The room seemed cramped and in need of a makeover. The bed was creaky, hard, and lumpy. It was one of those beds where once I found a comfortable position, I did not dare move! The cabin seemed very clean, although our poor attendant seemed overworked. I do love the mini refrigerator that our room had and the storage area provided by the window which was great for all our books! We enjoyed the Freestyle concept and went to dinner whenever we felt like it! We tried the Seven Seas dining room, but after having terrible service two days in a row, the wait staff seemed unfriendly, confused, and terribly slow; we tried the Four Seasons. We lucked out and had fantastic service from our wait staff of whom we requested the remaining times we dined there. The food in the dining room was good (the lobster was wonderful). It seems to me that the quality of the food is lacking in the main dining room. I think NCL really wants you to eat at the specialty restaurants! If one wants food closer to a gourmet style, they will need to pay the cover charges. We did eat at Pacific Heights (no cover charge) twice and it was very good. Il Adagio was wonderful with some great lobster pasta and tasty swordfish! The desserts at the buffet and main dining room were pretty bland for the most part. They seemed mostly to consist of a type of gelatin type of substance no matter what it was. They do serve some great ice cream though upstairs! Breakfast and lunch are pretty good but require a little bit of walking. Freshly cooked eggs are in Las Ramblas, waffles are made fresh in Pacific Heights, and other goodies can be grabbed in the Garden Cafe! One thing I really loved about the Sun is the aft dining area! When we first boarded, my husband and I grabbed our dinner from the buffet and found a great table over looking the port in Honolulu and watched a beautiful sunset while dining out in the fresh air! We ate all of our lunches at the buffet or surrounding restaurants. Once again, you can get some decent food, but you're going to work for it. Freshly prepared pasta and pizzas can be found in Pacific Heights, sandwiches can be found in Las Ramblas, the wok station and buffet items in the Garden Cafe, and hamburgers and hot dogs in the Great Outdoor Cafe. While it is great that the foods are freshly prepared, I found myself waiting in a 15 minute plus line to get some items. For example if I wanted a slice of pizza with my pasta I waited about 10 minutes for my pizza and then had to get in the pasta line for another 15 minutes. If I wanted a side of vegetables with that I had to get in another line in the Garden Cafe. As for dinner, the buffet was weak with a lot of salmon and chicken dishes served various ways every night. I believe one night I saw carved salmon at the carving station as well as carved chicken! I am guessing it was NCL's last ditch effort to get rid of these meats, or they had nothing else to place at the carving station. Also the appetizers in the main dining room were nothing special. My husband and I went to Las Ramblas almost every night for our appetizers where the selection was much better. They had fried calamari, goat cheese, olives, mussels, crab cakes, empanadas, and many other items. We often would bring our plates outside to the back deck, enjoying our appetizers while watching the sun set. Afterwards we headed to the dining room for the rest of dinner. Tea, coffee, and water were always available and juice was offered in the morning. However, I would advise bringing your own large thermal mug or water bottle. The glasses on this ship are frustratingly small. The chocoholic buffet at midnight towards the end of the cruise was nice, but I have a hard time eating chocolate at night and the lines were incredibly long for such a small buffet! I did bring a Ziploc and the chocolate covered strawberries tasted great the next morning! The last time we were on the Sun we thought the entertainment was the best! Well they have gotten even better! A major highlight on this cruise was the entertainment! The Jean Ann Ryan Company dancers and singers were phenomenal! We really enjoyed the Prizm Band, Alive Star, and Selwyn Wright. The comedians, Jeff Bradley and Joe Bronzi, were hilarious! Other highlights: The dance classes taught by Olga and Dima were fun! We learned the basics to the Swing and Merengue. The latitudes welcome back party was also very nice with a great selection of free drinks! The photographers took some high quality photos and did a real nice job! I also enjoyed the hot tubs in the morning. The seas were rough most days and the weather was fairly cool, which made the pools off-limits. However, the hot tubs were open and it was great sitting in the hot tub and getting intermittently splashed by the cool water splashing up from the pool. The last day it finally warmed up enough where I could lay out. Towards the front of the ship there are 2 small areas that contain four wooden chairs with blue cushions. The view is fantastic from this spot and I stayed there all day. Ports of call: Kahului, Maui We rented a car from Enterprise, and they were the only company that did not automatically send the shuttle. When we called the number on our reservation for a pick-up. We were transferred to a main office somewhere in the world which was closed. A word of advice if you plan on getting a rental car, get the local number. We finally hitched a ride with the Dollar shuttle who was now on his third trip from the port and walked over the Enterprise office at the airport where we were shuttled back near the port for our car (we could have walked from the pier to the Enterprise lot if we had known) The staff explained we were suppose to call them, when we explained our problem, we got a blank stare). Furthermore, the girl at the counter specifically warned us not to drive the Kahekili highway near Kahakuloa stating it was too dangerous and not very scenic! We drove it anyway, and it is no more dangerous than the Hana highway. It was the most scenic highway we drove on our whole trip! At mile marker 16 we found some natural ocean baths! They were awesome crystal clear calm pools in the midst of crashing ocean waves. We stayed there for hours, and it was definitely a highlight of the trip! Hilo, HI We rented a car from Dollar, whose shuttle was there, and were upgraded to a cool little PT Cruiser convertible! We headed for the Puna district to explore old lava flows and check out the scenery. We stumbled upon a place called Ahalanui Beach Park or as some locals call it the "hot baths". The thermal pool has an inlet to the Pacific in which waves crash in. I met a 90 year-old local woman who visits this pool 5 times a week. She showed me how to hang on to the safety ropes when the tide goes in and out and it was a blast! We stayed there all morning! My husband wanted to see a little more of the island, so I reluctantly left, and we drove to the north Kohala coast. We made it to the Pololu Valley overlook. The drive is very scenic but it took too much time and we weren't able to explore the Pololu valley before having to drive back. Lahaina, Maui The tendering service went smoothly and was very organized! We rented a car from Dollar, who turned out to be the only shuttle that did not automatically arrive at the port. Of course we called the number on the reservation in which we were transferred to a corporate office who refused to give us the local number! After about an hour, the shuttle finally arrived and allowed only the drivers which meant my husband had to drive back to pick me up! I would suggest avoiding Dollar in Lahaina (the staff were rude, incompetent, and appeared to have smoked one too many Maui Wowies). This time we drove to the Iao Valley State Park. I thought it was pretty, crowded, and overrated! We also visited Big Beach and Little Beach in south Maui. Both are beautiful beaches, however Little Beach is clothing optional, which lessened the beauty in my opinion. I was both fascinated and horrified! Many people seemed to be enjoying their naked frolic in the ocean, but there were also a lot of weirdoes and drug dealers milling around. We left there quickly! We drove down to the Ahihi-kina Natural Reserve area where I snorkeled over a living reef! It was fantastic with many colorful fish and few people! We spent a few hours relaxing in Lahaina, which is a great town to just walk around in. My husband found a free internet site at the restaurant/bar across the street from the port where he had a beer and caught up on e-mail! Nawiliwili, Kauai The tendering process was more of a nightmare on this day! For some reason, the boat took awhile to "clear" for debarking. We did not get off the ship until after 9 am and still had to get back on the ship by 4:30. We decided just to explore the west side since we had such limited time. We drove to Polikale State Park which required a 3-4 mile drive along a washboard, pothole filled road! The drive was exciting and if you rent a 4 wheel drive one could drive on the beach. It was too dangerous to swim. Next, we headed to Waimea Canyon. The green and red contrasts are very picturesque. However, the whole day seemed rushed due to the limited time in port, and we didn't have time to explore the canyon itself! Debarkation: We carried our own luggage off at about 8 am. Next we hopped on a local taxi van with 6 others and negotiated a fare of $20 per person ($160 total) to drive all the way to Tijuana from the port in Ensenada. The drive went smoothly, as well as the border crossing. We then hopped on the trolley in San Diego and took it all the way to our hotel, the Doubletree downtown. I would recommend this hotel, with comfortable rooms, a great pool, nice location, and free airport shuttle. Overall, a great value cruise with an amazing itinerary! We cruised over to Hawaii on RCI's Rhapsody and there were clear differences. We paid twice a much for the RCI cruise than we paid on NCL's. I think because of this, NCL seems to really push selling everything on the ship whether it be alcohol, specialty dinners, instant win scratch offs, shore excursions, and jewelry. The high pressure sales I found a little annoying after awhile and am willing to pay more to avoid it! One example which I found particularly irritating was that before every show, the assistant cruise director starts hawking these instant win tickets. Passengers are guaranteed to win some cash. From what I heard, passengers spend about $20 and get about $5 in return! Another difference between the cruise lines was RCI hands out free tote bags to past cruisers. NCl gives you a coupon for the free tote if you buy something that costs $10 in the shops. I would cruise with NCL again most definitely, keeping in mind this is definitely a bargain cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Sailed from Honolulu on September 29th. We had booked a standard inside cabin however a week before sailing NCL offered us a Balcony upgrade for 100 more per person. Grabbed that, brought the grand total to 423 per person. That's the ... Read More
Sailed from Honolulu on September 29th. We had booked a standard inside cabin however a week before sailing NCL offered us a Balcony upgrade for 100 more per person. Grabbed that, brought the grand total to 423 per person. That's the only good thing about this trip, the price. This was my 20th cruise. The ships layout was difficult to navigate. The decor rather bland, and the cabin the smallest I have seen in a very long time. The shower the smallest I have ever seen. Thumbs up for the balcony and in room fridge which was small, but kept things icy cold. NCL also Xrays your luggage and will tag luggage that looks like it contains alcohol. Or even looks like alcohol. Then you have to go to a room where they open your luggage and hand search it. Alas my two bottles of Corona light were seized by security. Looking around the room, lots of luggage had made its way into that little room. With drinks 8 bucks a piece I would guess that's why he do everything they can to stop smuggling. Evn opened and smelled my bottled water coming back from shore. NCL charges 10$ per person per day as a service fee. From my experience the service fee is a guarantee for poor service. Our cabin steward was ok, he told us he usually only has 17 cabins, but this trip he had 34. We were lucky to get our room cleaned once a day, several times I had to track him down for towels and ice. The cabin is showing signs of age, chips in furniture, brown worn spots on sofa, holes worn into the chair. The hose on the blowdryer disconnected and it took two days to get it fixed. FOOD: This is the WORST food I have ever had. The small buffet reminded me of High School Cafeteria food. Looked bad, tasted worse. We tried the Seven Seas dining room, slow service, cold bland food. Specialties were so so. When you pay the extra money you expect good food and excellent service. The duck I ordered In Le Bistro was so overcooked I couldn't even cut it. Our waiter seemed a little miffed about questions we asked. Steakhouse was good. We ate there twice, first time I had the filet and it was excellent, second time the ribeye, it was horrible, overcooked, no taste, and a very thin cut. My DH didn't like his filet the second time, and it was not anywhere close to being as good as the one I had 3 days earlier. Almost all the dining venues are at the back of the ship. Unfortunately so was the stench of urine. There must have been a overflow or broken pipe that leaked. The smell persisted for the whole trip. Not very appetizing to smell that on your way to dinner. They did shampoo the carpets in the elevators where the smell was really bad. Pools were nice, you could take all the towels you wanted. Nice change from other ships. They say you get what you pay for. That certainly applies to this cruise line. I will never sail with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My husband and I recently returned from a 13-day cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii on the Sun. We were accompanied by my parents and 2 aunts, all of whom are aged 80 to 89—my husband and I are in our mid 50s—and all of whom are ... Read More
My husband and I recently returned from a 13-day cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii on the Sun. We were accompanied by my parents and 2 aunts, all of whom are aged 80 to 89—my husband and I are in our mid 50s—and all of whom are experienced cruisers. This was our 2nd cruise on Norwegian, the first was on the Dreamward some 12 years ago. We have also cruised with Carnival (3 times), Princess (3 times), Royal Caribbean (once), and MSC (once). Our very first cruise was with Norwegian and because the experience was so absolutely wonderful, cruising has become our favored vacation method. Given our warm memories, we quickly agreed to accompany family taking the 13-day Hawaii cruise for my Mother's 80th birthday which coincided with my parent's 55th wedding anniversary. In Vancouver we lined up for quite some time to get through security only to join another long line so that we could be directed to chairs in which we were required to sit until there was space at the check-in desk. It is a more awkward system than that of, for example Princess, which uses the same terminal (we'd gone from Vancouver to Alaska in August 2006) and took considerably more time. NCL had water and cookies on hand for the wait, although they ran out of cookies quite quickly. Our inside deluxe cabin turned out to be much larger than we had expected, the luggage arrived very quickly, the room was very clean, and the stewards were both extremely friendly and competent. The 5 full days at sea passed very quickly and really allowed all of us to unwind. While my husband and I prefer to read on deck in the sun, the rest of our party preferred to do crafts, play bingo etc. NCL had a Polynesian group on board who taught crafts etc. and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. The Library on the ship also had a very large selection of books and, even better, a bin in which passengers could deposit books that they had finished so that others could take them to read. Every day, passengers could also get a crossword, a soduku, and a trivia questionnaire. The evening shows on most of our other cruises paled in comparison to that of our 1st Norwegian experience so many years ago, and I suppose that we expected the shows on the Sun to be top-notch this time as well. However, although some of the entertainment was quite good, there were some acts which were simply painful to watch, for example, the magician. Probably the best shows were put on by comedian James Stephens III and by hypnotist Nadeen. It was also an extreme pleasure to listen to the guitar playing of the "Brothers and Friends Trio". We were absolutely appalled by the food, both in lack of quality, lack of taste, and in the virtual absence of presentation. In general the buffet food was way below par in relation to other cruise lines, and there was very little selection. On more than one occasion we simply turned away from it as it looked like a re-hash of the day before. As to the main restaurants, we gave up going to them as well for a number of reasons. Several times we were brought the wrong orders, the food was cold, the meat was tough, dishes were bland, and the service was terrible. There was nothing exciting about the menus in the main restaurant. It seemed to all of us that NCL had taken certain dishes off of those menus and had perhaps put them on the menus in the restaurants for which there is an added cover charge. It was not until the end of the 13-day cruise that we even saw lobster or a decent beef dish—even then, the beef was really tough. We only saw potatoes once. I must say, though, that on the 1st or 2nd day both my husband and my father had the New York strip steaks which were apparently really good. As to service in the main restaurants, on more than one occasion our waiter had a large number of tables and was doing everything himself ie. pouring water, bringing buns, running down for the food, delivering the food, changing the silverware, bringing the coffee cups etc. etc. The restaurants were never filled by any means and yet our wait times in between courses were excruciatingly long. We wondered if perhaps the number of restaurant staff had been cut. We were generally pleased with the ports of call, however, we could quite frankly have done without Kahului and Hilo. At Kona we booked a catamaran snorkeling trip that was excellent. We saw a large number of dolphins on our way to the snorkeling site, and we were then able to snorkel until our heart's content. Refreshments were included (wine, beer, pop etc.) along with sandwiches, chips and fruit. The sails were then hoisted and we went for a beautiful sail before returning to the vans for the trip back. At Nawiliwili we swam in the surf in front of the Marriott Hotel which, by the way, has the most beautiful grounds of any hotel we have ever seen. Lack of NCL presence on shore was troublesome especially given that there were a very large number of older people on board. At our first stop in Kahului (Maui), there was no NCL staff on shore, the signage was not clear and there was some confusion as to which line was for which shuttle bus. An older woman collapsed on the pavement as we were waiting for shuttle buses and no one could find a chair for her to use so a passenger simply held her in her arms. Shore security did not know what to do and it was not until a U.S. Customs officer arrived, that an ambulance was called. At Nawiliwili, we tendered just a few feet into port so the tender trip took only a few short minutes. There was only one Nawiliwili security guard on shore and no NCL personnel beyond tender personnel. There was absolutely no signage of any kind as to where to line up for the various buses and vans which were arriving to take passengers shopping or to their excursions. The first passengers therefore formed their own lines depending on where they were going and waited for the next buses to arrive. At one point, a number of vans and buses arrived at the same time as new tenders arrived. Many of the people getting off the tenders simply ran through those that had been waiting which resulted in an absolute mob scene as everyone surged to the vehicles. In all of the places we have been, we have never witnessed such a frightening scene. Our last stop was Honolulu where we used the local bus to get from the cruise ship to Waikiki Beach. The cost was only 2$ as we got a transfer when we first got on and then used it to return to the ship at the end of the day. When we got back to the port, we found out that the ship had to move forward to allow another ship to dock behind it. NCL staff on shore told that we had to stay in the terminal until this was done—we were 5th in line and waited 75 minutes. By the time we were able to board, the line-up ran all the way back to security. Again, there were many older people in line and there were no chairs on which they could sit, only a set of stairs. Had we been told that this was going to happen, we would have timed our return to the ship accordingly. Quite a number of people in line (ourselves included) had dinner reservations to prepare for, and had other people waiting for them on ship not knowing where they were. We had looked at booking a shore excursion with NCL to see Pearl Harbor and the Arizona. Luckily we did not, as we took the same excursion from a company located right at the dock for only 20$, much less than that charged by NCL. Disembarkation was very fast and efficient. We spent 2 nights at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel, close to Waikiki Beach, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We swam at the Beach, did all of our souvenir shopping, and indulged in the best pineapple that I have ever tasted! In general we enjoyed the cruise—being with family, seeing the Islands, snorkeling etc. But I must say that this is the last time we will be taking NCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My husband and I just returned from our second NCL cruise this year. The first being on the Dawn in March and this one on the Sun in Sept. This cruise was our 5th with NCL. We have cruised 3 times with Princess. Embarkation in Vancouver ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from our second NCL cruise this year. The first being on the Dawn in March and this one on the Sun in Sept. This cruise was our 5th with NCL. We have cruised 3 times with Princess. Embarkation in Vancouver was very well organized and we were in our cabin in no time. Our balcony cabin was midship and very nice. Luggage was delivered to cabins quickly. Our cabin stewards (Lukeman & Thomas) were very friendly and accommodating. They were quick to respond to any requests we had. The nightly towel animals were fantastic. We were at sea for 5 days before reaching Hawaii. The activities and entertainment were very good. Lots to do. A Polynesian group was onboard throughout the trip, providing excellent entertainment,demonstrations and free classes on how to make many Hawaiian crafts (Leis, necklaces, hats etc). This was a great way to pass the time while at sea and you got to keep what you made. The food left something to be desired. The Buffet area is VERY small and crowded. Breakfast was the usual fair, but you had to go to different floors and venues for waffles, eggs, omelettes. Lunches and dinners in the buffet were awful. The same foods were served each day, just called something different. The main courses looked like a mismash of leftovers mixed together and called casseroles or stews. Potatoes were rare, they were either scalloped or sweet potatoes. There was no prime rib and regular potatoes offered at anytime during the cruise. The braising beef they had ONE night was so raw that the blood poured out of it, which is very unhealthy. The main restaurants were not much better. The menu for 13 days consisted of Pork, Lamb, Duck and more Pork, Lamb, & Duck. There was no variety. Everyone onboard was complaining about the food and saying the specialty restaurants were not any better. The pasta was the same everyday. My husband will eat almost anything, but he refused to eat the slop we were offered. We were forced to eat hamburger and fried chicken everyday at the outdoor grill. Room service menu was limited to sandwiches, but this was better than the restaurant food. Our first port was Kahului, Maui. My husband and his friend went golfing at the Kahili Golf Course and had a great time. I went shopping. Our second port was Kona on the big island. We took an excursion called Magical Seahorse discovery. NCL advertised that you would pet and hold the seahorses. This was not the case. First off this is a research facility and it is not equipped for bus tours. There was ONE toilet available (employees). There is no shade or a/c. Our bus had no a/c. The tour is mostly out in the hot sun. Plastic water containers are placed on chairs throughout. We saw a couple of small umbrella table/2 chairs only. You were allowed to put your hands in the plastic barrels where the seahorses were only one at a time, under supervision and told NOT to touch the seahorses or move your hands. Their tails were wrapped around one finger for about 30 seconds, that was it. Tour was to be 2 1/2 hrs. and was only 1 hrs. This tour was a waste of $49.00 + taxes per person. Next we went to Lahaina, Maui. We took the public bus to the beach ($1.00 each oneway). A great way to go. On to Kauai. Our excursion was cancelled by the operator, so we walked off the ship to go shopping. We found a tour operator off ship who offered an excursion to the Fern Grotto at half the cost being offered by NCL, so we took it. It turned out to be a great day. In Hilo, on the big island, we rented a car (before we left home) and drove ourselves to the National Volcano Park. We saw the Thurston Lava Tube(amazing), walked on lava, up close to craters and steam vents. It was great. Our last stop was Honolulu. We had an overnight stay here and disembarked early the next morning. We did a lot of walking, shopping and dined at a great restaurant in the Aloha Towers Marketplace, overlooking the ocean. The restaurant was the Town Grille BBQ. On disembarkation day, we chose to take a tour as our flight did not leave until 7:45p.m. We toured the north shore and were dropped off at the airport at about 1:30p.m. Overall the cruise was great (except for the food). Next time we are considering trying RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Norwegian Sun Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 3.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 3.5 4.1
Value For Money 3.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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