23 Norwegian Sun Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

We were looking for an alternative to flying to our destination and decided to try a cruise. It just so happened our travel agent found this cruise which met our travel dates. We convinced our brother-in-law & his wife the join us, ... Read More
We were looking for an alternative to flying to our destination and decided to try a cruise. It just so happened our travel agent found this cruise which met our travel dates. We convinced our brother-in-law & his wife the join us, too! We were pretty excited and really had no expectations. From arriving in Miami, the Pullman Hotel we felt very well taken care of. Once aboard the ship we were impressed with the decorations in celebration of Christmas. We liked the size of the ship, not so big that we were overwhelmed. Safety first with a drill organized before departing. We would highly recommend a room with a balcony. We upgraded with absolutely no regrets. It was also appreciated how relaxed the dress code was. You could get dressed up when you felt like it or not. The dining rooms were terrific! The staff left you wanting for nothing & many with a great sense of humour which we appreciated too. We can honestly say we never had the same meal twice! The buffet was amazing, we found we ate most breakfasts & lunch there! The shows were outstanding, a bit chilly in the theatre at times so bring a sweater! We booked a couple of excursions which were well organized and felt very safe. The ship was kept so clean! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This was my fourth cruise with NCL. I was looking for a longer trip, and the 18-day itinerary had a good variety of places I wanted to visit, including the ports of Seattle and San Francisco where I had family to visit, Costa Rica and ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise with NCL. I was looking for a longer trip, and the 18-day itinerary had a good variety of places I wanted to visit, including the ports of Seattle and San Francisco where I had family to visit, Costa Rica and Acapulco which were on my bucket list, and familiar old haunts like Miami and Port Canaveral. The day we spent going through the Panama Canal was both educational and interesting. We covered a lot of territory with delightful days at sea full of fun and exciting entertainment and delicious food. We booked shore excursions with NCL and had very positive experiences. The NCL Sun is in ship shape, and immaculately clean. The staff, with very few exceptions, is friendly to a fault. They really do feel like family, my home away from home. A highlight of sea days was meeting with the Knitters and Stitchers and making new friends with some lovely ladies that are sure to be lifelong friends. I've already booked my next cruise, to Hawaii, for 2019. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars, is because there was such a long delay embarking. That was the first and hopefully last time that will happen. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Chance to see the Panama Canal on a cruise with several interesting stops. The food was excellent if a little repetitious at times. The entertainment was first class in the theater and in the bars. Colibri gave older people a chance ... Read More
Chance to see the Panama Canal on a cruise with several interesting stops. The food was excellent if a little repetitious at times. The entertainment was first class in the theater and in the bars. Colibri gave older people a chance to dance to their favorites. Katerina related to her audience so well. We upgraded to a balcony cabin and were glad we did so, it was kept spotless every day. The Panama Canal transit was great and so interesting. We were disappointed with our two excursions. The boat trip and divers in Acapulco was mostly looking at houses with just a few minutes watching the divers from a great distance. We saw only 3 divers. The boat was uncomfortable. The canoe trip through the mangrove swamp was extremely uncomfortable and we didn't see any wildlife as we had expected. Embarkation was total chaos. We were put in a large room and given numbers and told to wait. After the numbers ran out, people just walked past all of us and went straight on to the ship. There was no supervision or direction in the room. We could not find any personnel to deal with this problem. Debarkation was not much better. The ticket colors were supposed to help us arrive at the airport in time but all the colors were mixed up in the line. We waited a very long time to get on a bus. We arrived at the airport one hour before the flight and friends arrived 5 hours before their flight. Again there were not enough people to organize this. Overall we had a good cruise and will definitely sail with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This is one of the smaller Norwegian ships but we preferred it. It had a spacious pool deck and plenty of room for sunbeds, it didn't feel cramped like other ships. We had alot of sea days and it was never a problem trying to walk ... Read More
This is one of the smaller Norwegian ships but we preferred it. It had a spacious pool deck and plenty of room for sunbeds, it didn't feel cramped like other ships. We had alot of sea days and it was never a problem trying to walk around finding sunbeds like other ships. This is probably due to the fact that half the ship don't sit in the sun due to the age range of the type of pax that books a Panama Canal cruise! We liked that. We had a family inside room on Deck 9. It was the biggest inside cabin we have ever had. It was rectangular in shape. Bernard the cabin attendant was very accommodating, friendly and efficient. Restaurants were as good as usual. The Garden Cafe buffet was very small but there was an outside bit at the rear too with seats but it was very busy at Breakfast time. The entertainment was very good. Nightly shows. As you've read this was the last cruise before entering dry dock. Whilst it was annoying we never got told until we were on board it did not spoil our enjoyment of the cruise. NCL must have know that on this type of cruise very few of the pax sunbathe so they closed different parts of the upper pool deck to get the floor done. On any other cruise it would have been a problem getting a sunbed with one side closed but surprisingly it wasn't. We actually got used to different parts being closed. There was the odd day when stuff was flying around in the wind and dust settling but it didn't spoil our enjoyment of the cruise. The Sports bar didn't open until 17:30 which was a shame as this is usually 24 hours and the complimentary Ramblas restaurant was closed as this is turning into something else. Some great ports of call. We did this cruise for the itinerary. It is always better to do this from Miami to the West Coast as you gain an hour 3 times during the cruise where as if you go back the other way you lose an hour 3 times. It would be nice to get back on the Sun to see what improvements have been made. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary and have no complaints about the ship in general. Our lower deck cabin was fine, as was the food in general, especially the Steak House. However, on days when shore excursions returned at ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary and have no complaints about the ship in general. Our lower deck cabin was fine, as was the food in general, especially the Steak House. However, on days when shore excursions returned at around 4.30 or 5, it would have been nice to be able to get a few sandwiches or a piece of cake to tide you over until dinner. When we eventually found it, the outdoors cafe was usually open at this time, but the food wasn't really what we were looking for. We ate four dinners in the speciality restaurants and all were food except the Brazilian style Moderno Churrasceria. The staff here were disorganised and didn't really appear to know what they were doing. We had a twenty minute wait for aperitifs and the side dishes only arrived with the third meat course. Servers were not skilled at carving, so slices were too thin or too bitty. When a large piece of meat was dropped on the table by the server, he did not return to clear it away and it was left sitting there. I also thought the laundry service was very expensive. We paid $20 for eight items to be laundered. They were returned washed but un-ironed so were unwearable. Two of the excursions were also a disappointment. The Cartagena excursion departed at 1030 and returned at 3 and only included 1 hour 10 minutes of free time. The local guide included a walking tour and a visit to an emerald shop that were not on the programme and would not tell us where the bus would be parked, so we were unable to make our own way back to it, which would have been easy. We particularly chose this tour because it did not include shopping and advertised that we would be left to our own devices in the city. The other excursion that failed to impress was 'Colonial Granada' in Nicaragua. After a two hour drive, there was very little to see on arrival. No refreshments were included and not even a toilet stop. Why was there no packed lunch to eat on the bus? We only had two and a half hours in the town when we got there, and were rushed around by the guide, so there was no chance to even get a cup of coffee. Four hours' driving was a lot to undertake for too little time at the destination. I realise that Norwegian have little control over the shore excursions and we enjoyed our Panama Canal transit although the commentator they took on board left a little to be desired, making frequent factual mistakes. However, the itinerary ticked all the boxes for us and it was pretty reasonable value for money. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
This was our first cruise and I chose this cruise because the Panama Canal was on my bucket list. I had also wanted to visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala to get a sense of whether to come back and spend more time on a vacation. ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I chose this cruise because the Panama Canal was on my bucket list. I had also wanted to visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala to get a sense of whether to come back and spend more time on a vacation. The Norwegian Sun ship was ok but is getting real close to needing a refurb. The bed was comfortable and the cabin (mid-ship with balcony) was functional but you do need to keep things picked up and put away. The electric outlets are minimal in number which was a small issue as I have a CPAP which I have to sleep with in the evenings. Then you can't charge phone or tablet or laptop overnight. You just have to plan. I felt the food selection and quality was very good. We had a specialty dining package where we could go to the French, Brazilian, Steak etc for a more quite upscale evening. Personally I would not do that again as the food in the two general dining rooms and the buffets where as good.Given a choice of a free inclusion between the dining or drink package I would go for the drink package as alcoholic beverages run about 7 to 10 dollars and soda more than a couple bucks. Our other inclusion was free wifi which was slow depending on time of day. There are a lot of activities on the ship to try and keep you entertained during the day and evenings. We went to the musical shows and they were good to very good. The hypnotist was actually quite boring and maybe it is the result of the people who were her subjects and most seemed like they were faking being hypnotized. There were presenters who discussed the countries which were going to visit and provide some interesting background. There were also dance classes, bingo, origami, towel folding, educational lectures (acupuncture etc). The TV channels included a couple with movies, news, sports, cruise information, etc. There is a casino which we just walked through We really didn't get to use the balcony while at sea due to the weather (rain and wind), but going through the canal was a different story and we did use it. Since we were cruising at the tail end of the hurricane season the weather was not a surprise and we were fortunate that the weather cooperated going through the canal. Because this is one of the smaller cruise ships the swells in the sea over a couple meters got the ship rocking a bit and made the wife sea sick. She used sea bands and dramamine. Dramamine worked best for her. If you are prone to motion sickness then you should be prepared regardless of the cruise ship. Other more experienced passengers said the larger ships don't get moved around by the waves and wind. The individual taking care of our cabin and the crew in general were extremely competent, friendly, and efficient. I also thought fellow passengers were friendly and courteous and we had some nice discussions when we shared dining tables etc. They did put a couple of NFL games on the TV but not the World Series. Lots of soccer if that is your sport as well as european basketball. The shore excursions were ok but would advise you read those separate reviews when making your choices. All things considered I am not sorry that we were on this ship and cruising when we did. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Bucket list cruise - Panama Canal and all that. Great itinerary. Cruise was very good. As usual fellow guests are the main memories but the cabin was good, restaurants good, service in general good to excellent, bars - especially ... Read More
Bucket list cruise - Panama Canal and all that. Great itinerary. Cruise was very good. As usual fellow guests are the main memories but the cabin was good, restaurants good, service in general good to excellent, bars - especially Windjammer and Dazzles - and entertainment fine, all very positive. Enjoyed the Sun, slightly smaller ship. Embarcation and especially disembarcation were poor, second time in a row. Information dissemination on board was poor so we had to queue for an hour to disembark. The one tour we booked on board with NCL was poor, the coach broke down so we lost a lot of time and were nearly late getting back to the ship after a panic with the tour company rep. Then NCL were cheap over the refund due, delaying compensation which meant it was difficult to spend our OBC. BUT, despite the niggles it was very good and the efforts of so many great NCL crew should not be under valued by the actions of a few incompetents! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was our first cruise. A dear friend set it up and invited us to participate. We are glad we did. Overall it was a good experience. Since we have nothing with which to compare it it is difficult to judge if other lines would be ... Read More
This was our first cruise. A dear friend set it up and invited us to participate. We are glad we did. Overall it was a good experience. Since we have nothing with which to compare it it is difficult to judge if other lines would be better, worse, or the same as Norwegian. We were not off to a good start nor was disembarking done smoothly. We were in line for about an hour on each. Why? Improvements we would like to see were wifi included in the fee to participate in the cruise. The additional cost to do so once on board was almost $30 a day! (No, we didn't partake.) Also, the TV channels were drastically limited. A "Dear Brian" at the registration desk was used twice with messages. Neither was answered. The walking surface on the sixth deck was great, although we were never told why we couldn't make a complete circuit before 8 AM which is when I like to walk. The staff was wonderful! We felt like family to a few of them with whom we had frequent contact. The food was great and the activities were plentiful. We are looking forward to trying Norwegian for another trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Second time doing panama canal. We like Norwegian and are Platinum members of Latitudes. Birthday celebration also. Problems with embarkation in Miami (computers were all down at check-in). Quick boarding once problem resolved. Very ... Read More
Second time doing panama canal. We like Norwegian and are Platinum members of Latitudes. Birthday celebration also. Problems with embarkation in Miami (computers were all down at check-in). Quick boarding once problem resolved. Very little contact regarding latitudes program and benefits, cruise next also represents latitudes program. (never advised of behind scenes tour opportunity) Food was very good in all specialty restaurants and dining rooms, buffet was too small and poorly laid out for access and serving, alternative buffets were much better experiences. Two very difficult sea days with high winds and surf. Problem with thrusters leaving Miami, a tire was entangled and divers fixed it in Cartagena. Never received onboard confirmation of CruiseNext as is done on other NCL ships, told we would get email 2-3 days after cruise (nothing so far). Account was charged. Observation lounge unused gem---very little activity up in the lounge. Dazzles was over used! Ship lounge areas were very cold all cruise. Panama canal was very enjoyable experience, lecturer was informative, but difficult to hear on balconies. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
14 day Panama Canal cruise from Miami ending in L.A. Embarkation and disembarkation were a mess. Getting on, the ship's computers went down and they had to manually check people in. Getting off in L.A. the port security was ... Read More
14 day Panama Canal cruise from Miami ending in L.A. Embarkation and disembarkation were a mess. Getting on, the ship's computers went down and they had to manually check people in. Getting off in L.A. the port security was strict making us 1 hour late but we still had time to get to the airport. Costa Rica and Nicaragua weren't worth the stop. Colombia, Guatemala, Acapulco, & Cabo San Lucas were decent stops. Ship was clean and the staff and crew were good. There was no interactive TVs in the staterooms so you couldn't make shore excursions or check account balances from your cabin. The "Sports Bar" didn't show the MLB World Series, mostly soccer and the NBA. Not a true sports bar. Maybe should rename it the "Sometimes Sports Bar" Food was pretty good as was the entertainment. Didn't visit the Casino. The beverage package (UBP) that was a perk as well as the prepaid gratuities were a nice inclusion. Had to have medical attention while onboard and they were very professional, both the doctor and two nurses. Jeffery, the bartender in the Champagne & Martini Bar was fantastic. Overall a good cruise and other than the items mentioned above, no problems. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose this cruise to knock the Panama Canal off our bucket st at a reasonable price. Older ship but is well maintained. Crew was absolutely fantastic. Most entertainment was top notch. The chef did a great job with menus for a fourteen ... Read More
We chose this cruise to knock the Panama Canal off our bucket st at a reasonable price. Older ship but is well maintained. Crew was absolutely fantastic. Most entertainment was top notch. The chef did a great job with menus for a fourteen day cruise. We ate at four specialty restaurants, Moderno, La Cusina, Tappanaki and Cagney. Cagney and Moderno were our favorites and the two we will do again. The shrimp cocktail was fabulous at Cagney as well as the steaks being excellent and almost fork tender. Moderno was a great atmosphere and assortment of meats was great. Tappanaki was fun and the grilled foods were excellent. We did not care for the seaweed salad or the dessert. La Cusina could have been better. I personally had the chicken Parmesan and it was a little dry and had very little marinara on it. Overall a great trip and we left a deposit for four additional NCL cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Nice cruise , great entertainment and food was as expected for a 4* ship. My only criticism is about some of the excursions which were not worth the money but may be great to help develop those poorer countries. The Panama Canal ... Read More
Nice cruise , great entertainment and food was as expected for a 4* ship. My only criticism is about some of the excursions which were not worth the money but may be great to help develop those poorer countries. The Panama Canal remain the greatest experience. I want to highlight Veli who was a great cruise animator and made my solo cruise really fun! Delays at embarkation but I understand that computer issues can occur and that once we started, it went relatively smooth after. What was not great was customs issues at disembarkation which lead to stress of risk not making our flights but these were customs issues and should not reflect on NCL. All in all I would recommend NCL if you want a nice relax vacation where you get a nice cruise experience and where you can decide if you want to go with classic dress style, relax or all in !! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to do a full transit of the Panama Canal. It left from San Francisco and sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was wonderful. We also enjoy "Fleet Week" activities by the Blue Angel ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to do a full transit of the Panama Canal. It left from San Francisco and sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was wonderful. We also enjoy "Fleet Week" activities by the Blue Angel Navy team while waiting to sail! We had been on a previous cruise on Norwegian Sun and liked the intimacy of this smaller ship. We decided to book and Oceanview Stateroom for the first time and were delighted with it! Freestyle dining was typical of other NCL cruises we have been on ~ decent to good food selections, but nothing outstanding. Dining room service was excellent. We also enjoyed meals in the specialty restaurants Cagney's Steakhouse and La Cucina. We only attended one evening show, but it was fun. We enjoyed the talented singers and dancers. Service, in general, was EXCELLENT! No complaints. Bartenders Jeffrey and Jerry, who worked the evening hours in the Champagne Bar (as well as other locations during the day on the ship) were OUTSTANDING! Simply THE BEST bartenders we have EVER encountered ANYWHERE!!! They have taken positions on other NCL ships, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that they might return to the Sun before we sail on her again in March 2019. We had visited several of the ports in the itinerary on another cruise, but they were OK to see again. We were NOT thrilled with the port of Puerto Chiapas, even though there was a VERY NICE tourist area with a huge palapa roofed building and pool adjacent to the dock. Most of the people enjoying the pool there seemed to be crew members. We would have prefered to call at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which is sometimes offered in the itinerary, so we could see the well preserved historic city of Antigua and near by volcanoes. The city of Tapachula, about 20 miles inland from Puerto Chiapas was definitely NOTHING special. My husband and I have traveled quite extensively in Mexico and this city was a huge disappointment. We took the shuttle back after about 20 minutes. In Costa Rica, we were redirected to the commercial container port of Puerto Caldera instead of calling at Puntarenas, as scheduled. Apparently there was a Princess ship that had top priority that docked there. The commercial port had NOTHING in the way of tourist attractions or services, as far as we could tell. It was located about 30 minutes from the cruise ship area, so people wanting to visit there had to purchase shuttle tickets at $20 per person, if I heard correctly. We had a private tour booked, so weren't affected. The transit through the Panama Canal was simply OUTSTANDING! We will be doing it again on the Norwegian Sun in March 2019 as a part of a cruise from Santiago Chile. Sailing into Cartagena Colombia was wonderful! The tall, white, modern buildings of the modern city skyline were breathtaking. There is a VERY nice tourist area adjacent to the dock with cafes, a zoo, a huge gift shop and more. We took a taxi into the city and did our own walking tour of the historic area with its fantastic, colorful buildings. We were in Cartagena about mid October and it was absolutely SWELTERING and breathless. I have lived in Tampa Florida and south Louisiana for 20+ years and am not bothered by heat and humidity, but THIS took it to a new level! Be prepared to SWEAT! Disembarkation in Miami was quick and easy. We took the NCL shuttle to the Miami airport. We did not book ANY NCL shore excursions on this trip. Ports of call were San Francisco, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco (loved this port and would like to visit there again independently!), Puerto Chiapas, Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Panama Canal transit (no stops), Cartagena and Miami. Would I do this same itinerary again. No, but I am glad that we did it. We will be on the Sun again and will call at Puntarenas (hopefully!), do the Panama Canal transit again, and Cartagena, with the cruise ending in Miami. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We selected an aft facing cabin for our Panama Canal transit, boarding in SFO. A great treat for us was to watch the Navy Blue Angles practice over the bay just before we left. That alone was worth the trip. Leaving SFO under the Golden ... Read More
We selected an aft facing cabin for our Panama Canal transit, boarding in SFO. A great treat for us was to watch the Navy Blue Angles practice over the bay just before we left. That alone was worth the trip. Leaving SFO under the Golden Gate with picture perfect weather was a tremendous experience. Some of the ports were pretty "why-even-get-off" the ship kind of stops - but we were mainly interested in going through the canal. It would have been nice to stop in Panama. Cabo San Lucas - Cabo Wabo always fun Puerto Vallarta - Been there, done that kind of stop. Huatulco - Nice beaches Puerto Chiapas - $10 bus trip to town. Got to town and took next bus back. Don't waste your time here. Puntarenas - Our return delayed by 5.5 hrs by traffic - almost missed the ship. Docked in terrible industrial side of port while other cruise ships docked elsewhere. Cartigenia - Best stop of the cruise. Regarding the mini-suite: (I know NCL sanitizes each cabin between cruises, but for our own piece of mind, whenever we cruise we bring spray sanitizer and wipes. Before we unpack we wipe down everything that may have been touched by previous passengers including the light switches, door knobs and handles and the ice bucket. We provide our own plastic ice bucket liners and ask our steward to use them daily when adding ice. I suggest you do the same. You will feel more at home knowing you aren't making yourself sick on the first day.) Initially we were quite happy with our stateroom until the sliding door would not stay closed in rougher seas. It took three days of calling reception, talking to our steward before it was finally fixed. For two nights the door would slide open and crash into the other side waking us (and probably our neighbors) up. I finally wedged my tripod into the door to keep it closed. I wish I had thought of it sooner. The transit through the canal was a great experience, one that should not be missed. After the Panama Canal our A/C went out. With the sun blazing into the room we had to keep the curtains closed to try and block the scorching sun. Reception promised to send someone up right away, but no one ever showed. To be fair, I heard from another passenger that A/C problems were common on this ship and that the repair could be done from outside the room. A "we were here" note would have been nice. But we suffered for another 3 days until the A/C finally was up to the task of cooling the room. Our steward kept calling his boss to try and get it fixed and it still took three days to resolve. In the midst of all this, we received a notice that our balcony was to be painted and that we couldn't use it until 10:00 that evening, meaning we would not be able to be on our balcony for sail-away. So now we had an ocean view instead of a mini-suite with balcony. Nice. They decided not to paint after all, but didn't bother to notify us (and I assume others). So the balcony went unused (but paid for). I need to mention the noise and vibration that occur when the ship accelerates/decelerates, it is very noticeable. You will not wake up surprised to be in port. There will be no stealing silently into or out of port. After a while, it becomes a sort of background noise that you can learn to live with. On balance, the view from our cabin was worth the vibration. The fact is the ship is old by cruise line standards and the furnishings show the wear and tear of those years, but I was surprised to find that NCL had not replaced a bedside table with obvious cigarette burns. How long had those been there? Halfway through the cruise the public announcements stopped being echoed on the ships TV channel. Fortunately that was fixed prior to the transit and we were able to listen to the very knowledgable Panama Canal commentator as we progressed through the locks. Regarding food: Overall the food on NCL is above average, the service is excellent and the staff always cheerful. The worse place IMO to eat is Garden Court buffet which, even with the washy-washy team squirting everyone they can, is a boiling caldron of germs. The variety of food there is limited and would appeal to those of us who like a routine breakfast. You might consider bringing along some disposable gloves if you are going to use the drink dispensers, the dressing pitchers, the table condiments or the food ladles and other things that get handled by everyone. The sad truth is that many people walk right past the washy-washy and the sanitizer station and no matter how many times NCL cleans those things, they are going to be the transfer point. Every time I hear someone cough, I cringe. Maybe the washy-washy people should say "washy-washy cover-mouth". I did enjoy the washy-washy musical performances including the Beatles hit "Wash your hands" to the tune of "I want to hold your hand". The specialty restaurants were on-point as were the two main dining rooms, which we enjoyed. Cagney's common problem (as on the Escape) of mis-timing mains and apps did not occur the three times we ate there. If there was a problem it was being seated at the time of our reservation. The wine steward was very helpful. Le Bistro was a great experience, the wait staff and maitre d' exceptional providing excellent service and 'touch'. Four Seasons and Seven Seas both offered great quality food, prompt and attentive service. La Cecina is a beautiful venue, probably the prettiest on board. Hidden down a stairway, it is long and not very wide, you are reminded of a dining car on the Orient Express or something from the movies. Elegant with attentive staff. Pool side cook-outs: I'll just say they were confusing, difficult to find a place to sit and not worth the effort. Bars: The Champagne bar run by Jeffrey and Jerry is a fun gathering place that seems to attract interesting and outgoing people. It became our pre-dinner cocktail favorite. Interesting that the Champagne bar doesn't really sell Champagne. Ah well... The Poolside bar, didn't appeal to us, although the bartenders were great. Seating is difficult and uncomfortable. The Atrium bar is nice, just a different vibe than the Champagne Bar. Great for a morning bloody. Great outdoors: Bar is great. Table service (cleaning, etc) is rather spotty with a fair amount of standing around. Sports Bar: I'm sure there are logistical reasons the waiter can't take a drink order and vice versa, but I don't know what they are. Common complaints for the sports bar are table hogs, bridge and mahjong players taking up tables and only one sporting event on the many screens. Mahjong in particular annoyed other diners/viewers with it's incessant tile slapping. Bartenders very good. Chicken wings are great. Common areas: Theater, always cold, many people brought beach towels to wrap themselves with. I felt the seats were old and uncomfortable. NCL does a good job of keeping the common (reception, etc) areas attractive and neat. NCL still can't seem to figure out how to keep lounges from being "reserved" all day. Entertainment: Entertainment was very good, some seats were obstructed and not marked resulting in a constant flow of people into and then out of those seats. DJ was typical pool DJ. Several people commented that there should have been more enrichment activities (lectures, etc) and I agree. Services: Wifi - ridiculously slow and unusable. If you must have wifi while at sea, on this ship I suggest you consider the unlimited package. Daily Bulletin: Failed to list some activities, some things were not promoted at all (wine tastings for instance) and thus did not attract enough participation to take place. Our neighbor noted that Bridge was not organized or promoted, this seems to be the trend on NCL. Ships Video of Panama Canal: We paid for the ship produced video of the Panama transit which was supposed to feature the passengers on-board. IMO, you can give this a miss. Just my opinion. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose Norwegian due to the free drink package and the price (which was much less than our usual Holland American cruises). We have always wanted to go thru the Panama Canal. The boat was in need of some updates and was showing a little ... Read More
We chose Norwegian due to the free drink package and the price (which was much less than our usual Holland American cruises). We have always wanted to go thru the Panama Canal. The boat was in need of some updates and was showing a little wear and tear. Embarking was a breeze, however as many others have mentioned Norwegian needs to work on the disembarking process - it was very confusing and LONG! we were taking our own bags off and this meant we could leave when we wanted, however they kept announcing that the non americans had to appear for immigration check and we were not cleared for disembarking. After two hours we discovered we could have gotten off an hour ago. It was still very confusing and we stayed at a hotel right in front of the cruise terminal and three hours after we checking into our hotel people were still leaving the ship. The staff on the boat were WONDERFUL, much more friendly than on Holland American. The excursions were well organized and the shows top notch. My only complaint would be the lack of activities from noon to 4ish. We found ourselves a little board and would hang out in the sports bar to visit during that time (I am not complaining we had the free drink package). Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our second time thru the canal and the second time on this ship. We choose this cruise because of the itinerary as it had three ports we had not being to before. As Latitude members we were able to get on board rather quickly ... Read More
This was our second time thru the canal and the second time on this ship. We choose this cruise because of the itinerary as it had three ports we had not being to before. As Latitude members we were able to get on board rather quickly in Miami, though we sailed late as the ship was getting late supplies. The Sun is a smaller and a little bit older cruise ship. This means that it has good and some not so good things. First it is easy to navigate the ship as it is small. There are lots of dinning options and we never had trouble finding a seat or service. The crew it self seemed happy and were very accommodating. The entertainment on board was good to excellent. The production shows were all very good with a talented crew, especially the dancers. The smaller lounges had entertainment also every night. Henry Hood is a great entertainer, do not miss him. Our cabin was in the little known or seen Oslo deck. It is hidden between deck 6&7 at the front of the ship. The only access is from deck 7 down a small flight of stairs. The cabin itself was on the small size with a small washroom and shower. Bur remember you are not in your room much. One question for NCL. How can you call it a sports bar when you only show one channel? And that one shows soccer games 95% of the time/ The ports are what makes the cruise and this one did it for us. If you have never been on a Panama Canal Cruise, plan on doing one. We went to Cartagena, Puntarenas, Corinto, Puerto Quetzal, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas. A high and a low. In Puerto Quetzal we went to the city of Antiqua. This is a UNESCO city and a must for a traveler, We even had the opportunity to watch a volcano pop. Corinto on the other hand had little to offer. The port city itself is very impoverish, and our tour to Leon did little to change our mind about the conditions of the country. It would have been better to by-pass this port and go to another. Getting off in San Diego was a problem. As a non US citizen we had to all go up to the observation deck at 6:15 in the morning, The custom people did not start taking us though until 6:45. around 8 AM they start paging the 15 people who had not shown up yet :(. It took another hour to get them rounded. So everyone had to wait until after 9 to get off the ship. Not the ships fault, but some people think the rules do not apply to them and it effects us all. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The Sun is the smallest ship in the Norwegian line.. It was great because we got to know the wait staff in the restaurants and different bars, we were 8 people and we could always find each other. My only complaint was that there was ... Read More
The Sun is the smallest ship in the Norwegian line.. It was great because we got to know the wait staff in the restaurants and different bars, we were 8 people and we could always find each other. My only complaint was that there was no WiFi, not good when you are away from home for 14 days and have family. OK, so they refunded everybody's money; but that didn't help staying in touch with family.. That is a major issue that should be addressed. ASAP. Everything else was great, I'd highly recommend the French restaurant. It was fabulous.. The food in the usual restaurant was good, as was the buffet. They might want to add a few new dishes, They charge for lobster and steak, Norwegian never did that before, we've been on Norwegian a few times. The staff was great, very friendly. I would definitely go on Norwegian again. Hopefully they will correct the WiFi situation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We are retirees- cruising the Panama Canal was a 'Bucket List' adventure for us and we weren't disappointed. This was just our 2nd cruise...first time we had a balcony cabin which we enjoyed but we booked this Panama Cruise ... Read More
We are retirees- cruising the Panama Canal was a 'Bucket List' adventure for us and we weren't disappointed. This was just our 2nd cruise...first time we had a balcony cabin which we enjoyed but we booked this Panama Cruise only a month before departure and balcony staterooms were sold out. Our best option was an outside obstructed view on deck 6. and we were quite happy with it. The ship is very well maintained, the crew is always scrubbing, polishing or painting something. All the staff are happy, welcoming & friendly. We found good variety & quality at the complimentary dining rooms and by choosing to share a table each night we met a variety of very nice people. We chose the Buffet for breakfasts and lunches and found good variety & quality. I had worried that 18 days might be a bit much for us but we found lots to do on the ship. There are a variety of entertainment options during the day and evenings. My husband used the exercise room daily and I enjoyed taking part in the daily games, quizzes etc as well as walking the promenade deck for exercise. Our room attendant was very friendly and conscientious. We had a problem with the TV remote, I mentioned it to the service desk and it was replaced within a few hours. The ship tours are very pricey...maybe worth it for peace of mind if wanting to go far from the ship but if just wanting to see the local port city,a hop on-hop off bus, taxi or local tour company is a better choice. Embarkation took awhile but was easy and well-organized. Disembarking went very well....we chose to haul our baggage off the ship ourselves and we breezed by all the passengers who were waiting in lines to get off and those waiting in the depot to pick up their baggage . Tips.... -Shipboard WiFi pkg pricing is ridiculous ($29 per cruise day) Local Internet cafes, Starbucks or McD's on port days preferable. -If going to the buffet for breakfast,arrive early as it becomes a bit of a zoo after 8:30. -Bring a lanyard to keep your keycard safe- The service desk will punch a hole in your card if asked. -A clear shoe holder to hang over the bathroom door was helpful for storing items & keeping the cabin tidy, it's a small space so keeping it uncluttered really counts! -Going ashore? Take small bills-you won't often get change for a twenty as we once learned the hard way on a $12 cab ride. Our bad! ****The best hint we'd give for enjoying your cruise is to wear a smile and be kind & patient with the staff and the other guests-don't be one of those cranky complainers who's attitude earns them nothing but disdain from every one. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
It was a good cruise and being my first time really enjoy it will be taking other next year.Our Stewart was very nice room was always clean and if we needed anything he was willing to get it for us.almost every night it was show,dinner and ... Read More
It was a good cruise and being my first time really enjoy it will be taking other next year.Our Stewart was very nice room was always clean and if we needed anything he was willing to get it for us.almost every night it was show,dinner and dancing it was really nice to have different choose every day in what was happening at night.Most did private excursions on port days but we did one shore excursion with cruise and really enjoy that. There was so many different types of dining to choose from and it was good and you could eat where ever your heart was into that day. Enjoy the fact that it could be dress down or up depending on your mood. Could have not ask for better service from the cooks to the waiters who clean the tables and the messes that some people left. To me it was a good trip and being my first time really enjoy it was fun to meet different people from all over the world. But as always you get people who will complain about anything and sometimes it seems. That they enjoy hearing their own voice or just looking to complain about anything and if that is the case why not stay home than. p.s no curtain from shower goose me lol Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Recent cruise on the Sun was overall good. The food was okay with it being to spicy and not much of a change daily. We ate in the buffet everyday. The excursions were good except for Costa Maya. After a long bus ride got to the site ... Read More
Recent cruise on the Sun was overall good. The food was okay with it being to spicy and not much of a change daily. We ate in the buffet everyday. The excursions were good except for Costa Maya. After a long bus ride got to the site and the the place was run down, drinks were not good and beach was disappointing. The ship itself was good but needing updating very soon. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This cruise was very relaxing for a great vacation. The food on board was average most days. Some nights we could not find anything on the menus we were interested in for dinner. They seem to have changed to make it essential to get a good ... Read More
This cruise was very relaxing for a great vacation. The food on board was average most days. Some nights we could not find anything on the menus we were interested in for dinner. They seem to have changed to make it essential to get a good meal people need to pay additional amounts to dine in the specialty restaurants. This should not have to done. However even the specialty restaurants were not that good. Moderno was really good but having to pay an additional $20 per person to eat after the price of the cruise is not a good feeling. The cruise staff centered on only a few guests to participate at shows actually picking certain names. They tried to hide what they were doing but many people realized it. The evening shows were alright in general terms. The ships entertainers need some more practice. Their performance would be good if they were in high school but not for a professional atmosphere. David Nester and Oh What A Night were wonderful probably the best on the entire tour. The ship scheduled 3 matinees on the last day of the cruise which only gave each act about 30 minutes while the day before, also a sea day, there was no matinee. It would have be better if they had put one of the acts on a different day to allow them more time. The day we went through the canal was interesting at first however as the day progressed people were looking for something else to do which did not exist. I think going through the canal will be much better next year when the new canal is finished and it takes less than half the time. I was glad I had other things to do while on board and not relying on only the ship of activities. The bars were closed most of the day making it really hard to get soda when we were not on deck 11 during the day. Additionally, they had only one bar open most mornings for juice and not at all the last day. All in all this was a trip I wanted to go on but will not do again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I believe this is the same trip William Fisher was on, although he indicated an embarkation date of April 4th. We embarked on April 23rd in Miami and debarked in SF on May 10th. As background, know that this is the first cruise I have ... Read More
I believe this is the same trip William Fisher was on, although he indicated an embarkation date of April 4th. We embarked on April 23rd in Miami and debarked in SF on May 10th. As background, know that this is the first cruise I have ever been on. My wife has been on a few prior cruises, but nothing of this length. Overall this was an excellent trip with two exceptions  embarkation and debarkation. While I am not sure that the embarkation problems were under NCLs control, half of the debarkation was directly attributable to a screw up on NCLs part. In any event, we were ticked when we got on board, and ticked when we finally got off the ship, and thrilled in between. The wife and I, along with my mother and sister, made our own arrangements to get to the ship in Miami. When we got to the port it was a madhouse. There were five ships and all of them seemed be disembarking and then embarking, all at the same time. No one knew where to drive or drop folks off. Chaos. Once we figured out where to drop our stuff off, the wife and I take the rental car back while mom and sis figure things out. When the wife and I got back we found the staging area for our cruise  a line out in the hot sun heading into a tent. No one moving, no one knows squat about what is happening. Turns out that five ships is too much for the terminal to handle indoors, so ours was the lucky cruise ship with the outdoor wait. We see that mom and sis are sitting inside the tent which is sort of air conditioned, but cannot get to them. Long story short, the wife and I stand in line in the sun for over an hour before things begin to move. Eventually all of the paperwork is done and we are on the ship. Things start to get much better. We drop mom and sis in their room, an interior cabin on the forth deck. Adequate, relatively inexpensive, very small bathroom, no windows. Then the wife and I go to our room, a mini-suite on deck 11. Sweet! Large room with a balcony, champagne and fruit bowl waiting, a bathroom suite that is practically the size of my folks interior cabin, multiple marble vanities, separate room for toilet & tub/shower, etc. Definitely first class. Food, service and entertainment were all excellent. Wasnt nuts about the buffets, but that is because the food at the sit down dinning places was so good, and the experience much more enjoyable. I have no problem with sitting in nice dinning rooms while pleasant people bring me excellent food - breakfast, lunch and dinner! We tried the premium Italian, French and Steakhouse restaurants one time each at dinner. Definitely worth the $10 - $20 service charge. But the free restaurants were so good that there was not a huge incentive to pay more. Never had to wait for seating at any time. Walk up when you are ready to eat and order away. Service was excellent across the board. The housekeeping and restaurant staffs were very nice and efficient, always making sure that our every needs were being met. Cant say enough good things about them. The entertainment was first rate. I did not attend shows every night, but the ones I did (comedians, a flamenco guitar guy, jazz singers, etc.) were very entertaining. The rest of the on-board activities I kind of ignored  I used the downtime on the ship to read. Note that there is a lot of ship time on this cruise. It stops at seven ports in 17 days, which leaves a lot of sea days. No problem for us  it was very relaxing. Ive talked to others on similar trips who got bored. Know thyself and how you will handle a large number of days at sea before signing on to a Panama Canal cruise. The gym was very well equipped with professional equipment. Plenty of treadmills, bike and elliptical trainers, and a decent set of Cybex weight machines. Also, a separate room for floor exercises, yoga, etc. This room was occasionally used for classes (dance, yoga, etc.) but was mostly open. Previous comments about the age of the general customer population were correct. A cruise of this length is expensive enough and long enough that pretty much only older folks could afford the time and expense. Very few kids. Pushing 50, the wife and I were younger than about 97% of the rest of the folks on board. The ports and tours were fine. Having never visited second/third world countries before, there were a few eye-openers in store. I was never really able to forget the ironic juxtaposition of visiting these extremely poor countries in this monster luxury ship. One interesting note going through the Panama Canal. On the edge of the canal at the Miraflores locks near Panama City there is a four story building structure with outdoor balconies with grandstands, seats, etc. We could see this building for close to a half hour before we got there, and it is jammed pack with people. There must have been at least 300 people there. As the ship starts to pass the building they all start waving like mad, and of course we all wave back. When the ship was past the building all 300 people immediately got up and left. We thought that was pretty strange, and asked the Cruise Director what the story was. It turns out that there are tours from Panama City to take Panamanians out to watch cruise ships go by. Who knew?? The only negative port/tour experience was on Curacao, where the bus for our snorkeling trip waited for 45 minutes at the terminal before leaving. No explanation. It appeared that they were waiting for a stray passenger, but no one came and we finally took off, rather unhappy. Apparently word got out to the boat operators that there was a bus load of unhappy customers on the way. When the boat left the shore they immediately opened up the open bar, and kept it open the entire time. People became happy real quick! Debarkation turned out to be a fiasco. As mentioned in william fishers write up, customs was about two hours late getting on board. Cant really blame NCL for that. Most folks waited in line for hours. We went to breakfast and relaxed, and when we were done the customs folks were onboard and the lines gone. The real fiasco was when they started telling people to debark. We had all received different color tags for our luggage (about 10-12 different colors were distributed). We were told to wait in our rooms or a common area until out color was called. They called out Red, then about 10 minutes later Red with Stripe. Then about 10 minutes later they said Everyone can leave. Great  turns out they had just told about 90% of the 2000 guests to leave at once. Not surprisingly, pandemonium ensued. You could not get an elevator, so we started down the stairs. About three decks down everyone ground to a halt, five decks from the end. It took a half hour to descend one deck. We finally fought our way onto an Up elevator, went to the top and back down. So it took us an hour or so to get off the boat, and we were some of the lucky ones. This was entirely NCL's fault. Whoever gave the all-clear for 90% of the guests to leave at once should be tortured for a while. So we entered the boat in a bad mood, left it in a sour mood, and had a great 17 days in between. Definite five stars if the front end/back end problems had been avoided. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Had a great cruise through the Panama Canal on the Sun. We left from Los Angeles. There had been some problem as you come off the freeway to go down to the port, and traffic was at a standstill, so we were hot and unhappy by the time we ... Read More
Had a great cruise through the Panama Canal on the Sun. We left from Los Angeles. There had been some problem as you come off the freeway to go down to the port, and traffic was at a standstill, so we were hot and unhappy by the time we reached the ship. So we welcomed the quick, smooth check in procedure. You actually board the ship, and the staff was set up in one of the dining rooms. Crew members were handing out punch, and it was relaxed and easy. We were delighted by our room. We had paid an inside price, then at the last minute saw balconies for that price. We called our agent, and she was able to get us upgraded--what a deal! We were in the last room aft on the starboard side of the ship. Because of a little recess, this room is a little smaller than other rooms on the side, but the balcony is double sized, which more than made up for the room size in our opinion. In addition to the 2 chairs and table that are on the other balconies, we also had a lounger--great for the sunny sea days (there were 10 on this cruise) Our cabin attendant, Myrene, was great; can't say enough good about her. She really took care of us. Beds are comfortable with a cozy duvet. I don't know if I am the only one, but I love Norwegian's lotion; it really smells great. I wish you could buy it in their shops. Storage was adequate, and there is a small refrigerator in each room. One interesting and different thing was that our room had a DVD player. You can rent DVDs on the ship or bring your own. Our first stop was Puerto Vallarta, always my favorite in Mexico. The Sam's and Wal-Mart are right across from the dock in case you forget anything, and the main bus stop going to town (Centro) or anywhere else in the area (Marina, Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, etc.,etc.) is right there. This is an easy port to explore on your own, or there are plenty of activities to choose from. Next, we stopped in Ixtapa, a really cute little town, and again, easy to explore on your own. It is a tender port. We saw the divers and shopped in Acapulco. We had a pretty good rain there: We were in the middle of Hurricane Otis in the Pacific and Hurricane Stan in the Caribbean; it is amazing that the weather was good most of the time. In Costa Rica, we went to the crocodile river--big, big crocs--and several other places We were lucky to join up with another couple who had booked an all day tour with Charlie Soto, a great guide--and a great day! Our other stop was Aruba, always a beautiful island with beautiful beaches. The city bus stop is right across from the dock, and the bus will take you to all the beaches for a $1. Of course, the highlight of the trip was the Panama Canal, a fascinating place with a fascinating history. We had a long, but thoroughly interesting and entertaining day as we traversed the Canal. The Sun itself is a clean, attractive ship with enough activities to keep anyone entertained, no easy feat with 10 sea days. But Simon, the cruise director and his staff managed well. And as always on Norwegian, the Jean Ann Ryan dance company was superb. One of their shows was a Cirque type production, a real treat. I think Norwegian has the best dancers of any line. I am always impressed with them, and this company was especially outstanding. We love Norwegian's freestyle dining: being able to eat when we want, meeting different people, more relaxed dress codes. But you do pay in level of service. It was good overall, but a few nights, we had slow or careless service. The menus in general were not very impressive; we would look early in the day, and several times all the entrees were so unappealing that we just went to the buffet. There are two main dining rooms, one of which is also open for breakfast and lunch, the buffet (which has an omelet station at breakfast and a curry station at lunch as well as the buffet line), the Pacific Heights, a "cooking light" specialty restaurant with no fee, and 4 specialty dining rooms with fees (French, Italian, Steak, and sushi/oriental. Food in these was noticeably better than the regular dining rooms. There is an outdoor buffet area at breakfast and lunch, a pizza and pasta area (and that is just what they had: no salad, no garlic toast, etc.--just pizza and pasta) and a soup and sandwich area. Soups were very unimpressive: watery and unadorned at all meals. Overall, we felt that the food on this ship was not up to the level we have experienced on other ships. Disembarkation was not as smooth as embarkation. The ship was originally scheduled to go to New Orleans, but changed its destination to Houston after Katrina. This was its first time there, and there were a few kinks. First, we got in late. Then the gangways wouldn't line up with the pier, so they couldn't get the luggage off. A train blocked the road to the dock and stopped all the traffic, so taxis and busses couldn't get through. Lots of little things that I am sure they will work on. But we enjoyed the ship and the trip, and we're ready to go again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
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

Find a Norwegian Sun Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click