114 Norwegian Sun Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

This was our seventh cruise. First one with NCL. Previous cruises have been with RCCL, Celebrity, Carnival. I would not hesitate to take another voyage with NCL. The SUN is an outstanding ship. POSITIVES: EXCELLENT ENTERTAINMENT - Loved ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise. First one with NCL. Previous cruises have been with RCCL, Celebrity, Carnival. I would not hesitate to take another voyage with NCL. The SUN is an outstanding ship. POSITIVES: EXCELLENT ENTERTAINMENT - Loved ALL the shows. The NCL Singers and dancers were the best we have seen. The comics, jugglers and magicians they brought on board were better than we have seen on other cruises. We also enjoyed the "Oh What a Night!" Tribute to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The ship's band and Strictly Strings w/Amber Trio were great. CRUISE DIRECTOR - The cruise director, Richard Matic, was very high energy. He was up early morning to late at night. Either Richard or his staff members were on hand to wish you a "good day" as you went ashore, and were there to welcome you back on to the ship. Snacks, refreshments and cool towels awaited us on our return to the ship. FANTASTIC SERVICE - We experienced nothing but fantastic service. All the servers in the bars and dining rooms were friendly and efficient. If something wasn't to your liking they would try their best to amend it. I ordered the cream of broccoli soup most nights in the Seven Seas Dining Room. Towards the end of the cruise it seemed like there was not enough broccoli in the soup. They would specifically add more broccoli to my soup each night after I mentioned this to them. The dining room manager bought us a drink to compensate for this. This is just one example of how they try to make your whole experience tremendous. Our cabin steward was also great. Anything we asked of her she would go out of her way to make sure it was done. FOOD - while I can't quite give a full five stars for the food it does deserve about four stars. MOST of the food we experienced was great. There were a few items that were not up to par, but overall great food. I don't eat lobster but my husband said this was the best lobster he has had on any of our cruises. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants so my opinion of the food is only based on the Main Dining Rooms and Buffets. Some other previous reviewers have stated there is not enough variety. I did not find this to be the case. The Main Dining Rooms have the same menu for breakfast and lunch, but at night the selection on the left side of the menu changes and the right side stays the same. The buffets have the same TYPE of items every day just different varieties (EX: salads, fruit, meat carvery, pasta station, chicken dishes, vegetarian selections, curry dishes) There are made to order crepes in the Garden Buffet at night that are just outstanding. Also a chocolate fountain with dippers. We found out about this half way through the cruise and wished we would have known sooner. The little tapas selections at Las Ramblas were good. We did not eat in the Sports Bar. Our favorite place to eat other than the Seven Seas Main Dining room was the Great Outdoor. This is a beautiful restaurant at the back of the ship with its own buffet station. The bread products in all venues are second to none. This was our second experience with "anytime dining" and we love it. (our first was last year on Carnival) SHIP: We felt the ship was kept super clean at all times. This is important to us. They were always keeping carpets cleaned and sanitized. The windows throughout the public venues were crystal clear. A crew member stands at the entrance to the buffet with hand sanitizer to clean your hands before entering. (their slogan is "Washy Washy - Happy Happy") The ship held motion very well. Very little motion for the whole 16 day cruise. Even when the weather was windy or rainy I did not feel motion and I am super sensitive to this. We thought the layout of the ship was great. Very easy to get around. CRUISE CRITIC MEET AND GREET: The NCL staff set aside time in Las Ramblas for us to have our "meet and greet." They supplied us with cookies, coffee, juices, etc...also had the senior staff introduce themselves and answered any questions we had. NEGATIVES: There are not too many. The cabins are not supplied with bar soap unless you are in a suite. We had a port side aft balcony and the only types of soap provided are in the dispenser. I had to ask for bar soap which my cabin steward provided. When I asked her replacement (for the day) for a bar of soap he told me only suites get them. I don't feel clean when just using the shower gel and feel NCL should provide a choice. Our balcony had rusted areas. They do a great job of keeping the outside of the ship painted so nicely, why not keep the balcony floors looking as good? THE DRINKS!! Unless you drink straight alcohol, beer or wine, you might be disappointed. They have a drink special every day. We tried all of them and none of them were good. I don't know if the sweet and sour mix isn't to my liking but the drinks were just awful. The bartenders were friendly and made the drinks correctly. The mixers just were not that good.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My wife and I (veteran cruisers who have sailed on multiple different cruise lines) took the NCL Sun on a 15-day repositioning from Miami to Los Angeles through the Panama Canal. As discussed below, our experience on the Sun was mixed, ... Read More
My wife and I (veteran cruisers who have sailed on multiple different cruise lines) took the NCL Sun on a 15-day repositioning from Miami to Los Angeles through the Panama Canal. As discussed below, our experience on the Sun was mixed, but mostly positive. A lengthy, detailed review follows. Embarkation was a breeze. We never arrive early, 'cause that is when everyone else arrives. Instead, we arrived about 2 PM for the 5 PM departure, and we were all checked in and in our cabin in less than 20 minutes. We had an inside cabin, number 9134. The cabin was clean and spacious, well-appointed and with a lot of storage. It had a couch and enough floor space that one could even do some sit-ups to try to burn off some of that plentiful food. The room was well soundproofed, with no discernible noise from above, below, the adjacent rooms, or the hallway. My wife said, however, that the hairdryer was worthless. Its one of those wall mounted units, and it lacked power, did not heat up enough, and it was mounted over the toilet in such a way that you could not use both the mirror and the dryer at the same time. So bring your own hairdryer! And our cabin steward was great. But the stewards are always great, on all the cruises we have ever been on! The ship itself was midsized. The ship hardly rocked the entire trip, smoothest cruise ever. Of course, that probably has more to do with the weather than the ship itself. The ship was well maintained, and the décor was nice, with little sign of wear and tear. The Sun did not have as many activity choices as the larger ships, but the tradeoff is that you can reach everything on the Sun without walking forever like you do on the larger ships. We only went to a few of the Sun's evening shows, and we enjoyed Judy Kolba, a singer/comedian, and another comedian named Rex Havens. Some thoughts about the food service, and then a discussion of the food itself. In the sit-down dining rooms NCL uses Freestyle dining, meaning you can go to either of their two regular restaurants at any time they are open without pre-assigned seating times or table companions. The advantages of freestyle dining over traditional, assigned dining is, of course, the flexibility freestyle offers. The disadvantages of freestyle dining in comparison with assigned dining are potentially twofold: 1) you may have to wait for a table, and 2) you might get poorer service because you don't get to know your table staff well and they are not competing directly for your tip money. However, we found the freestyle dining on the Sun to be very well run and without any of these disadvantages. We generally ate between 6 and 6:40 PM, and never had to wait more than two or three minutes for a table. Also, our servers each night were pleasant and efficient. Of course, with freestyle dining you don't get to know your tablemates that well, since you switch them up very night. But there is always the chance that, in traditional dining, you will be assigned seating with someone you don't care for, and have to spend the entire trip eating with them. So, all-in-all, we liked the Sun's freestyle dining. More and more cruise lines are offering this besides NCL. The buffet arrangement on the Sun, however, is strange and does not seem to work well. The Sun doesn't have clearly marked, separate buffet stations like we have seen on other cruise ships. Instead, the Sun has three separate buffet lines, with the main one running along the starboard aft, and the other two smaller buffet lines hidden in the aft part of the ship. The main buffet line is long and snaking, and the food items are arranged sort of haphazardly along the line. For example, the desserts come before the Wok cooking area, what is up with that? And it is not always clear when or how you can skip portions of the main line, and so the line often backed up at the buffet entrance, which was a soup area that required assistance from behind the counter. Also, the buffet always seemed crowded, because the aisles were narrow and we were always bumping into people. As I said, we found this very strange. NCL obviously knows how to set up a proper buffet area, because the buffet on the NCL's Spirit (which we sailed on last fall) was very nicely set-up. And now some thoughts on food quality, a particularly important area on a long cruise such as the Panama Canal repositioning! My wife and I thought the food on the Sun was generally good. We all have certain foods we eat or don't eat, and sometimes on a ship like this you don't know what they are going to offer, and whether it will be well prepared. For me, then, it is important that the regular dining room have a decent every-day steak option, and the Sun did not disappoint. The Rib Eye in the Seven Seas dining room was properly cooked to Medium (as I requested), and it was tender and flavorful. I ordered it several times throughout the trip as I was sometimes unsure of the other offerings, and the steak was always good. It was particularly good in comparison with the every-day steak option on other cruises we have been on, such as the top sirloin we go on the RCL Navigator. Uggh. Also, I like Caesar Salad, but sometimes other cruise lines we have used cut corners in preparing the Caesar. Not on the Sun. Every Caesar I had on the Sun was made from fresh romaine lettuce, had freshly prepared Caesar salad dressing (i.e. with egg, garlic, oil, anchovies, and parmesan), and was topped with plentiful shaved parmesan cheese. Eaten plain, or sometimes topped with chicken or shrimp, and you have the very definition of "Yum.” Bravo. Also memorable was the Surf and Turf night " the steaks and lobster were both very well prepared. As for breakfast, we usually ate in the buffet. The layout of the buffet is not particularly good, with long serving lines that cause backups and crowded sections. Breakfast options in the buffet were limited, but the things I like (scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, potatoes, cereal, and cottage cheese) were mostly well prepared and tasty. Well, except that the cottage cheese became more like ricotta cheese on the last few days of the trip. I don't like the restrictive alcohol policies that most cruise lines, including NCL, have. Given that you are not supposed to bring alcohol on board, and that they have a monopoly on alcohol sales, however, the Sun's wine packages were not too bad. We ordered the eight bottle premium package for $248 (average of $31 a bottle), and the wine was acceptable and a decent value for that price. NCL also had a pre-cruise special where if you prepaid for at least three specialty restaurant dinners, they would give you a discount and a free bottle of wine. We took advantage of that package, and my thoughts on the specialty restaurants follows. The service we received in all the specialty restaurants was spectacular (kudos to Beverly, the Maitre' De for the 12th deck restaurants). In East Meets West Steakhouse, the ambience and all the food was just about perfect. The steakhouse was trying out a new menu with special certified Angus beef, and it was excellent. In Le Bistro, the French restaurant, the food was generally good. The mussels in cream sauce were to die for, and the crème brule heavenly. On the flip side, for some reason they now put bread crumbs in the escargot garlic butter, which is not a good idea! Also, the flourless chocolate cake was poor. The Teppanyaki restaurant was fun (think Benni Hanna), as these restaurants always are. They do need to go easy, though, in putting soy sauce on the lobster, because lobster is already salty. As for Il Adagio, the Italian Restaurant, it was difficult to find, but the food was good. The cruise stopped in several ports. We took ships tours in two ports (Cartagena, Colombia and Hualtuco, Mexico), and did few things on our own in another port (Cabo San Lucas), and I discuss those three ports and associated tours in the Cruise Critic ports section. In two other ports (Puntarenas and Puerto Vallarta) we took private tours, and I review those tours separately (and in detail) on TripAdvisor. As for the Panama Canal Transit (not technically a port stop), it is a bucket list thing that everyone should consider doing at least once. It takes about ten hours to go through the Canal from Atlantic to Pacific, and during that time there is always something interesting to see from the port operations on both sides of the canal, the locks themselves, the other ships, the engines that line the ships up in the canal, the bridges, the large lakes and beautiful rain forested islands, and the dredging and canal maintenance operations. We had the added bonus of all the activity surrounding the ongoing Canal Expansion, a seven year project scheduled to be completed in late 2014 or 2015. NCL provided an expert who came on over the PA system and discussed the history and ongoing activities in the Canal Zone. Very well done. At the end of the cruise, we decided to take the option of disembarking early and rolling our own luggage off the boat. The boat was cleared for disembarking at 7:55 AM, and less than 20 minutes later we were off the ship, through customs, and looking for our shuttle to the airport. In other words, this was the quickest we have ever gotten through a cruise disembarkation. Fantastic! Ok, for those few people still reading this long review, I will close with a few thoughts about the casino or, more specifically, the poker table. I love to play poker, and have played in many casinos, including ship casinos on Princess, RCL, and Carnival. In comparison with other casinos, the NCL poker operation is unacceptable. Basically, the house take (called the "rake) on the NCL Sun is just way too large, for both their tournaments and their cash games. For example, in cash poker games, most casinos on land take 10% of each pot, up to a maximum of four or five dollars per hand. The other cruise lines have slightly higher rakes than what you find on land. The NCL Sun, however, took 10% up to a whopping $25 a hand! That is simply crazy, since several times an hour the individual pots will go up to between $100 and $200 at the ½ NL cash Texas Hold'em game being offered. At such a high rake, over the course of a few hours only the house can expect to win -- not any of the players! And this rake probably explains why no one was playing at the Sun's cash game, as far as I could tell " which is the worst possible situation for both the ship and the poker players! If NCL's overhead associated with using live poker dealers is too high and so won't support a lower rake, NCL should consider going to the electronic poker tables found on most other cruise lines. Those electronic tables have a much more reasonable per-hand rake cap (usually 5 or 6 dollars), and this encourages people to play (On Carnival, for example, I played on the PokerPro electronic poker table an average of three to four hours a day every sea day). Just as importantly, a more reasonable poker rake will encourage poker players to book future Norwegian cruises. Poker is my favorite activity aboard ship, and so I, for one, will likely NOT take a Norwegian cruise again unless and until they improve their poker operation. And this is unfortunate, as most other aspects of the NCL cruise experience are very good. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We live in Vancouver and we booked our cruise from Travelbestbet.com with agent Laura. At first we booked an obstructed view cabin to lock up our air flight booking. The agent's air flight price was half of what NCL charged but it was ... Read More
We live in Vancouver and we booked our cruise from Travelbestbet.com with agent Laura. At first we booked an obstructed view cabin to lock up our air flight booking. The agent's air flight price was half of what NCL charged but it was not arrival guarantee, so we had to land at Miami the night before just to reduce the risk of missing the ship. Then when we saw the balcony price came down a few hundred dollar, we called the agent to upgrade for us. Our travel agent did a great job and everything was organized for us including all the airport to seaport transfers. We stayed at Quality Inn at the international airport because they have free shuttle 24 hrs. We arrived at Miami 11:30pm and pick up a hotel phone at the airport to call the hotel. Then we went to the front of the airport and watch the hotel shuttle to come by. Waive your hand and they will stop in front of you. The hotel is clean, comfortable and free breakfast. Then we took the shuttle back to airport to get on the transfer shuttle to the port which is run by NCL. (Quality Inn has its own shuttle for $10 usf.). The shuttle stopped in front of the ship and the porter take cared the luggage for us( just make sure you have a proper tags on your luggage.). The embarkment was very smooth( half hour) as we used the latitude member line which is for repeat passenger. The ship is not new, but has been recently refurbished, so it does not feel like an old ship. It is a 1,800 passenger ship vs the new one 4,000 passenger. AS many cruisers actually compliant about the new ships being too big, too crowd and don't feel like being in a ship. The Sun is great in many way, very flexible in dinning or seeing the shows, no booking needed. Even the ship was full, we never experience any line ups at all. We did eat our dinner at 5:30pm so we could watch the 7pm show. All stuffs work their best to make us feel comfortable and the cooking of the food was well prepared. That is because we saw the top restaurant management officers walking around all the time to make sure everything is done right. Food: I ate mostly fresh fruits and salmon in the morning, but their breads are very good. In lunch, they serve Calamari in the restaurant, Seven Sea at the back of the ship. I also like their fish and chip and salads. For dinner, the paid French restaurant, the only one we tried, was very good. For evening comfort food, go to the Sport bar and order the fish and chip free, highly recommended. There was two lobster dinner nights and the lobster was cook just right, the best of all our cruise ship dinners. It tasted just right in term or texture and taste. They had a beer battered deep fried fish and chip in one lunch, it was so good as it tasted light and tasty like the good Fish and chip should. Dessert was decent. Cabin-10th floor on the back of the ship, best location ever. One stair walk to the buffle and close to the Seven sea restaurant at 5th fl and theater at 6th floor. Not sure if I could do any other location in the future cruise because of this. The balcony was very good except it would collect water when rain, you have to phone the quest service and they will have people pump the water out for you( the only short coming of the ship, but not enough to brother us.) On a sunny hot day, the balcony was a heaven. Very quiet and private. Ports: Cartagena- we took a mini van tour($20us per person) available outside the port. Very safe and the tour guide was very good. This tour is very standard: it covers the monasty, the market, the beach,the Wall city(including the gold museum and jewell factory, and very little time on the famous fortress. It was good, my recommendation is to see the oldest church, Igleasia de Santos Domingo. This is not the famous church, it is the one which not allow to photograph and located at the Santo Domingo square. This church could easily missed by tourist as it is not well mentioned. However, it is the most beautiful church in the whole cruise and I am not even a Christian. Panama Canal, we had a bonus, our ship was sailing next to NCL Jewell so we could watch their ship going thru different chambers. Go the the front of the top deck first to watch the entry( be early, it gets crowded). Then go down to the 6th floor the walking deck and watch the next ship going thru the chambers. Puntanarenas- Get up early and watch the port from the distant, very pretty.( recommend for all ports excepted Puerto Vallarta). Just got out and walk around the town. Very safe. The town is underdeveloped in term of tourism, but it is real. I enjoyed the walking, very clean but old. Puerto Chiapas- this port is very new and not ready for cruise ship. We walk thru the tourist center( two tour info officers for 4,000 tourist, not much help either.) We went out to take the $10 shuttle to town but long line up and we would have to wait more than one and half hours for the shuttle(10 shuttles all together for 4,000 tourist). So we walk out the port and saw a white local mini van bus. It cost us $1.50 per person to the town center. It is an old Van and full of people(14 of us). The old Van went thru much of local area( bumpy road) before it stopped at the bus station near the center of the town. It is an old town and again, real, where the local lives. We enjoyed the walk(very safe( however,always take caution against pick pocket anywhere you go.) Then 4 of us took a taxi, total of $15 to go back to the port. One of us speak a little Spanish and asked we could do a tour of the beaches near the port. The taxi driver agreed and never ask for more money. He took us to all the scenic points, even negotiated with a military guard to get us into their beach. At the end, we paid him $35( tips for his time spend on us). If you don't speak Spanish, write up what you want on a piece paper in Spanish ahead of time as most driver don't speak English, but they are very friendly and glad to please you. Puerto Vallerta- Walmart located just in front of the port, pricy. We took a bus(.50 us) to the old town and walk around. Quite interesting if you have not visited. Somebody book the ship's John Houston property tour(a beach away from the town) and enjoyed. This tour was not offered outside the ship. Huatuco- beautiful entry. I took a $20 boat tour on a small boat which covers one hour of beach time in Entrega, beautiful snorkeling bay, I brought my own mask and fins for this. Then the boat took us around the local coast line, very beautiful. If you like the sea, this tour is highly recommended. This is my second visit to Huatuco, so I was prepared. If you want to go to Entrega beach, the taxi is only $5, standard rate. I have been the town before, not much there. The church is ok, nothing like that of Cartagena. If you take the boat, make sure you take down the boat number at the front. As after it drop down the passingers on the beach, the boat goes out so other boat could come in, they all look the same. The drivers are very good and they will come back for you, just in case, take down the number to ease your mind. Cabos San Lucas- beautiful entry and beautiful port for photography, lot of pelicans. At first, we took the local water taxi tour to the famous lands End Arch, beautiful, and very good for $10/person. Interesting facts from the boat driver at the same time. Then we walk off the port then keep going to the right to the Meddian beach. The walk is very easy and comfortable, very safe. We were offered Parasailing for $35 and we took it. My first. The hardest part was getting on the boat that took us out to the actual speeding boat. I have no problem getting on and off the transport boat, but I did saw some woman having some difficulty getting on and off as she did not want to get wet. Once we are on the parasailing boat, rest is very easy, much easier than I expect. One took off from the deck at the back of the boat and land on the same deck after. we just sit on our bum and than the Para suit took me up. It is like sitting at large fairest wheel and enjoy the scenery and it was beautiful. The bonus was one get to enjoy the boat ride as the other guest take their turn(12min/person). This is well worth the price of $30. When the ship, it would went around the Arch, but it is not a close up scene like the boat tour. Disembarkment went very smooth as we carried our own luggages. Hop onto the shuttle in front of the port and went to LA airport. Entertainment: Very good overall, hard working dancing team(15 performers). Then there is the jugglers(two time world champions) who also offer free lessons, a comedian, David Nastsier, who was funny and also teach us how to use laugh to overcome life difficulties, a magican(amazing card trick on the second show), a banjo player and hypnotist who offered very good entertainments. Tips: lower your expectation. Life is like a mirror, what you receive is what you project out. If you cause misery to other, that is exact what you will get back at the end, Howard Hugh and few other famous entertainer would verify that only if they are alive. (One thing that I like about the ship, it is full of old passenger(70+) who are very well seasoned cruisers. They know how to use the ship to have a good time, very polite and have many life stories to tell.) Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Let's start with embarkation: Smooth, carefree and incredibly quick! The ship: older, smaller very well decorated with all the charm of a very classy ship you saw in the day when ships were built for comfort and not just for how ... Read More
Let's start with embarkation: Smooth, carefree and incredibly quick! The ship: older, smaller very well decorated with all the charm of a very classy ship you saw in the day when ships were built for comfort and not just for how many people can fit for the maximum money making. The cabin: very large, the largest I have been in on any other ships, lots of closets and drawers. The bathroom adequate and contrary to other reviews the shower was a great size with the best water pressure I have ever had. Emmanuel, our cabin steward was amazing! Always made our cabin feel like a home. The ship had beautiful teak decks with a great layout, not so big that it takes 15 mins to get anywhere. Very well maintained and super clean. The crew: I can' t sing enough praises! They are amazing, always wearing smiles, remembering names and wanting to assist in every way. The food: Great and definitely plentiful, always cooked to order and just the way you wanted it. My hats off to the Executive chef, his crew and Christian the Restaurant Manager. The hostess always remembered our name and cabin after the first meeting, incredible! Nicoletta and Esperaza were the servers we always requested, they are a team that can't be beaten perfect every time. Me Bistro, outstanding!!!!! Beverly, Beverly and Alma are the best and the food could not have been better :-). I still am having dreams about the Escargot and Chocolate Napoleon! The ships officers were always present around the ship and always willing to stop and chat, never to busy and always incredibly pleasant. All in all, I would have to say " The best ship and best cruise I have been on" Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I cruised the Sun during the 19 day Panama Canal repositioning cruise from Miami to Vancouver. The following is a long day-by-day review of our trip. Day 1 - Miami, FL First of all I'm happy to report that Freestyle 2.0 ... Read More
My wife and I cruised the Sun during the 19 day Panama Canal repositioning cruise from Miami to Vancouver. The following is a long day-by-day review of our trip. Day 1 - Miami, FL First of all I'm happy to report that Freestyle 2.0 has been implemented for the most part. The first sign of it is in the Miami terminal where they now have a separate check-in line for balcony and mini-suite guests. Not that it mattered because at 12:30, all of the lines were very long. We didn't have to stand in those lines anyway because we had an aft AC penthouse and were taken into a private room to complete the sign up process, meet Erika the concierge, and be escorted onto the ship. Being able to bypass the crowd was a definite perk on a busy day like today. When we got onboard, everyone was given the welcome glass of bubbly. You have a choice of champagne or a mimosa. Then we were met by our butler Roland who escorted us to our cabin, which is beautiful. The separate living room will be great to have for such a long cruise, and the bedding has been upgraded as promised. The bed itself is comfortable. The mattresses don't sag in the middle and at least ours don't need the egg crate toppers that are recommended by other threads. The mattresses have not been replaced yet, more on that later. There's lots of storage space, which is good because we brought a lot of stuff, and there are plenty of toiletries in the bathroom. The large wraparound balcony is soot free so far. We went to Four Seasons for lunch at 1:30. It wasn't crowded at all. The service was very professional and the food was fine. The chilled banana with mango soup was delish! NCL provides a lot of samples on embarkation day. We stopped in Il Adagio after lunch because a new 2.0 feature is the Taste of Freestyle, where some of the specialty restaurants have cold appetizers and desserts samples. After sampling a few desserts we went up to the spa. When you ask for a spa tour during embarkation, all of the masseuses are available to give you a little sample. I had one rubbing a hot stone on my arm while another was given my neck and shoulders a deep tissue massage for a few minutes. I even tried an acupuncture needle in my forearm. Didn't feel a thing. We were also escorted thru the spa to see the different treatment rooms, the salon and the gym. Back in our room around 4pm but our luggage wasn't there yet. An announcement was made at 4:30 that our departure was being delayed because they were just finishing repairs to one of the bow thrusters. We got our bags around 5:30 and the ship finally left at 6:45. By the time we had unpacked and went to the Internet Cafe to pick up a loaner laptop, it was almost 8pm so we just went to the Garden Cafe for a quick bite. We were pleased with the 2.0 changes we saw there. The lighting was dimmed, tablecloths and cutlery were on the tables, and the staff was busing tables regularly. I took advantage of the pasta action station and the Caesar salad action station, while my wife tried the carving station. And the food was very good. We'll have no issues with going to the Garden Cafe for dinner again. We attended the Welcome Aboard show at 9:00 in the Stardust Lounge. It was a sampler show where all of the entertainers came onstage and performed one song each. Each act was very good. We also got to meet the cruise director, Denny. Day 2 - At Sea In the morning, we enjoyed another 2.0 feature. Il Adagio is now open for breakfast and lunch for VIP guests, with no cover charge. They have a superb menu service and a breakfast buffet to choose from. Erika is there to check on you and make sure you have everything you need. We'll definitely be going here for breakfast on sea days (and we have 10 of them). We then spent some time touring the ship and getting used to the layout. The highlight of our day was the CC Meet and Greet which NCL scheduled at 4:00 in Las Ramblas. I'm thrilled to say that of the 33 people in our roll call, only one failed to show up. We had custom t-shirts made for everyone. And we had a great turnout of NCL management too. Captain Von Knorring was there as well as Denny the CD, Rochelle the Group Services coordinator, Sean the Hotel Services manager, Andrea the Food and Beverage manager and the bar manager too. The roll callers were impressed and appreciate their showing up. Thanks also to Rochelle for the catering. The captain expanded on the bow thruster problem and reassured us that they were fine now and that we had made up the lost time. We were told that there were a few 2.0 features still to be implemented because the equipment hasn't been delivered yet, such as the chocolate fountain or the new mattresses that are being custom built in Italy and will come with memory foam. They should be delivered by June. And Denny told us that the crew all pay attention to Cruise Critic, so they know what the pet peeves are, and they take the compliments to heart and the criticisms with a grain of salt. Tonight was the first 'Dress Up or Not' night, which meant photogs in the lobbies and lobster in the dining rooms. We went to the first showing of 'Hey Mr. Producer' instead. We got to sit in the VIP section close to the stage, another penthouse perk. The Jean Ann Ryan Company is still on board and they didn't disappoint. I enjoyed the show even though I'm not a Broadway show tunes kind of guy. Then we went to Pacific Heights for a late dinner because we wanted something light before bed. I had a great clam chowder appetizer and perch entrEe, and the menu said it was only 505 calories total. This restaurant is super for those looking to still fit into their clothes on day 19 of the cruise. We tried our luck in the casino, but the luck was bad on this night. And it's not the casino's fault if it's a little smoky. I could feel the cool air circulating but it gets overpowered by the smoking gamblers. So don't complain about NCL if your shirt smells afterward, ask the guy beside you to butt out instead. Day 3 - Roatan, Honduras In Roatan we took a Victor Bodden Best of Roatan tour that was very enjoyable. Our guide Juan Carlos was surprised to find out that this was the last time the Sun would be calling on Roatan this season. Back on the ship, at 5:45 Erika stopped by our cabin to check on us. Since we had no dinner plans, she called to see if Teppanyaki was available for 6:30. She came back and told us that not only is it available but it would be a private dinner because we were the only ones to reserve! She's never seen a cruise like this one. Not many people are making reservations. Maybe because of the length of the cruise, people don't feel rushed to go to the specialty restaurants right away. There will probably be less space available near the end as people realize the cruise is almost over and they haven't done this or that yet. So we'll take advantage of it now. Turns out we weren't alone for dinner anyway. 3 other couples showed up last minute and we welcomed the company. The more the merrier. We had a great dinner too. Day 4 - At Sea Back to Il Adagio for breakfast. The food is too good. We're going to have to start watching what we eat, so after digesting a little, we went to the gym. It was very busy, no treadmills were available, so we went to the promenade deck and did 7 laps (2 miles) instead. There were a couple of things in the Freestyle Daily that I wanted to comment on. The first is another 2.0 feature, the enhanced educational and lifestyle program called NCL U. There are 3 classes at various times today, a South American destination lecture, a lecture on how to make your own Travel Diary using a computer, and a Salsa dance class. The classes seem to be only on sea days. The second item is a Spa special, a 50 min Hot Stone massage for only $109. That's a great price for a cruise ship massage on a sea day. I signed up for one at 2pm. We spent the rest of the morning on the pool deck, and 2.0 has been implemented there too. The deck chairs have drink flags that get quick responses when raised. Staff still wander the decks calling out for drink requests but it appears subtle and less obtrusive, and they carry the spritz bottles if you want a shot of water to cool you down. It's also quieter by the pool. Denny the CD had told us that the pool deck is now a quiet zone. The canned music isn't too loud, and when the live band is onstage, their volume has been turned down too. We've met various people from our roll call around the ship since our meet and greet. I'm really glad we joined these boards as it has only enhanced our vacation by having so many new friends onboard with us. This evening we had a couple of events to attend. Our Latitudes member party was at 5pm in the Stardust lounge. Actually it was the second of 2 parties. There are over 800 members on board so they had to split it up to accommodate them all. The second event was the Captains VIP party at 7pm in the East Indies room. At both parties you meet the Captain and the department heads and have free drinks and canapEs. Now if only I can finagle an invite to the Captains Table for dinner. Afterward we went to Seven Seas for dinner. We had a fine meal and the service was prompt and friendly. One thing to note about the dining room is that the 'Always Available' items (like Caesar Salad, Salmon, Steak, and Chicken Breast) are now actually on the menu. No more guessing about what you can have. Day 5 - Puerto Limon, Costa Rica Today we did the NCL Mangrove Kayaking tour. There is not much to do at the port itself, you had to take some type of tour to really enjoy this stop. We were bussed to a resort with 4 other couples and had an enjoyable day paddling up and down an estuary while guides pointed out the flora and fauna. We saw howler monkeys, 3-toed sloths, blue iguanas, bats, herons, egrets and other birds. And we had a little excitement when a small fish jumped into the kayak of another couple startling the wife so much she almost tipped over. Back on the ship at 1:30 we went to the Garden Cafe for lunch but couldn't get anywhere near the food. The lines were huge, so we went across to Pacific Heights for some pizza and pasta. Again the lines were long. Does everyone eat at 1:30? So we went to Il Adagio for the suite lunch. Never any crowds there. Trying to watch the waistline, we skipped the entrEe and had just the appetizer and dessert. Here's a tip regarding lunch. On port days, only the Garden Cafe, Pacific Heights and Seven Seas are open to all. But on sea days, a 2.0 feature has 'one or two' alternative restaurants open for lunch in addition to those three. You have to check the Daily to see what the alternatives are. Yesterday it was a poolside BBQ. Tomorrow Le Bistro is open for brunch from 11:00 to 1:00. Tonight we had dinner with a couple from our M&G in Four Seasons. Great menu tonight. Everyone except me had prime rib which I'm told was very tender. I went with the Cooking Light Tilapia which was also good, and used up the saved calories by getting 2 desserts, a coconut cream pie and a blackberry cheesecake. Yum. We went to see the Comedy Magic of Rich Purpura tonight. Pretty funny, kind of like Don Rickles doing card tricks. When we got back to our room, there was a snake on our bed. Don't worry, it was the kind with chocolate mint eyes. Day 6 - At Sea We've already had to put our clocks back an hour twice on this cruise. Now we're heading east to Columbia and have to put our clocks forward an hour. I'm OK as long as I don't miss my 10:30 spa appointment. They have some really good packages there. I signed up for a relaxation package that includes 1 Hot Stone, 1 Seaweed and 1 Deep Tissue massage that saves $125 on the cost if I had booked them all separately. I'm doing the Seaweed aromatherapy massage today, the others later in the cruise. In todays Daily they have an Oxydermy Facial special for $109 ($60 off). My DW is doing that at the same time. We got our laundry bag today. Fill the bag for $15. It's too early yet, we brought enough clothes. They ended up offering it 3 times during the cruise but we never needed to use it. I have a few items to mention about menus: 1) The room service breakfast menu that you leave on your doorknob is different for the regular cabins than for the suites. The regular menu is a continental breakfast (pastries, cold cereals, yogurt, fruit, juice and coffee or tea). The suite menu is all that plus egg and meat choices. 2) So far, only Il Adagio has an item identified as their Signature dish on their menu, which is Lobster Ravioli. The specialty restaurants are supposed to have one. This is another 2.0 feature that hasn't been fully implemented yet. 3) It was reported on other threads that the specialty restaurant cover charges were increased on April 12. I'm pleased to report that is not entirely true. Only Teppanyaki had its cover charge raised. Here are the cover charges as seen on the menus today: Il Adagio - $10, Le Bistro - $15, Ginza - $15, East Meets West - $20, Teppanyaki - $25. For dinner tonight, we went to Pacific Heights at 7:30 but couldn't get in. There was no space until 8:30 so we went upstairs to East Meets West. No problem getting in without a reservation, only 6 tables were occupied. As we walked by Teppanyaki, only 2 people were enjoying the 6:30 seating there, and only a few tables were occupied in Ginza too. I guess a lot of people on this cruise are averse to paying cover charges. That's fine with us because the service is great when the restaurants aren't busy. And they don't know what they're missing either. The filet mignon I had tonight was one of the best I've ever had. It just melted in my mouth. When we left, Teppanyaki was empty. Nobody was there for the 8pm seating! Don't expect that on the Alaska cruises, but you people taking the South America repo cruise in the fall can look forward to it. I'm sorry but I have to climb up on my soapbox and preach a little. I really don't know how people on these boards can complain about the food or the service on the Sun. Honestly, I just don't get it. We've been onboard for 6 days now, tried 7 of the 10 restaurants, and haven't had one bad experience yet. If it happens I'll let you know, but maybe the 2.0 investments are paying off. Or maybe some people are just pickier than us. I do know the Sun crew is very proud of having the highest satisfaction rating in the fleet, and it shows. I guess I'm risking being called 'an NCL lover' which I'm not. I'm a cruise lover. This is only my second NCL cruise and there were a few bad moments on the PofAm last year, but I gave them another chance and I'm happy I did. Day 7 - Cartagena, Columbia We had tried to book an NCL tour of Old Cartagena the day before but couldn't get in. It had a waiting list. So we just left the ship and hired a taxi to take us to the old city as well as some shopping. Well, the coordinator of the taxis must have told the driver only about the shopping. He never did take us to the old city and didn't speak any English so we couldn't tell him where we wanted to go. So it was a short day and in retrospect maybe not a bad thing because we heard from others that the old city was very crowded today. The HAL Westerdam was tied up beside us and it's a bigger boat than the Sun. There were literally dozens of tour buses all taking people to the old city, so I think I'm glad we missed that scene after all. Speaking of Columbia, one thing I forgot to mention for you jewelry lovers is that last Monday was the grand opening of the new Columbian Emeralds store on the Sun. They have sales everyday in the Daily. So far I've managed to keep the DW distracted whenever we pass it on deck 7, but there are still 12 days to go and I don't know how much longer that's going to work. Anyway, we were back sooner than expected so things onboard were quiet. We had the gym almost to ourselves and there were no lines in the Garden Cafe for lunch. Today they had a chilled raspberry soup to die for, and they also had fresh blackberries in the fruit station so I dropped some of those in my soup too. Oh man, I could eat that every day and not get tired of it. I've mentioned our concierge Erika a few times previously. She is going a great job for us. She checks in every day to see if there's anything we need, any reservations that we need made, asks us how our day was. She's so much more attentive that the concierge we had on PofAm last year. Where Erika is the proactive type, Roland our butler is more the reactive type. That's not a slam against Roland, he's courteous, friendly and professional, and when we want something he's at our door with it within 15 minutes. What more can you ask for? It's just the two types of service come with their own styles. So when Erika called today, we had learned our lesson from last night and made an 8pm reservation at Pacific Heights thru her. The service was fantastic tonight. Pacific Heights has been busy on this cruise so they've brought extra staff over from the specialty restaurants to help out. Our waiter was Candido from the Philippines. In conversation with him we had mentioned bring married 25 years, so at the end of our meal he comes over and says he has a present for our silver anniversary (which was last August). He unfolds a paper napkin and starts to form a rose out of the napkin while serenading us to 'Only You'. By the end of the song he hands the paper rose to me to give to my DW and the whole restaurant has stopped to applaud him. So if you're on the Sun in the future, go to Pacific Heights for a fine light meal, and hope Candido is still there. Day 8 - Panama Canal Our day started bright and early for 2 reasons. The first was the Panama Canal souvenir sale started on the pool deck at 6:30am. This was our first chance to buy shirts, hats, books and other trinkets commemorating our transiting the canal. Judging from the crowds, it was a very successful day for the NCL gift shop. The second reason was the ship had reached the canal entrance by 8am. And when we got there, the HAL Westerdam was already entering the first lock. It looks like we're doing this transit together. This was our first time here so I'm not an expert, but for those of you who have never done the Panama Canal I'll try to explain what happens from what we've been told. If you have done it before, fell free to skip ahead. Before we enter the locks, 3 pilots come onboard along with a commentator. The commentator (as the name suggests) provides a commentary for the passengers over the PA system. The first set of locks is the Gatun Locks. These locks will raise the ship 26 meters to the level of Gatun Lake. There are 3 chambers to pass through, and there are 2 channels for ships to pass side by side. All traffic today appeared to be traveling from the Caribbean to the Pacific. As the ship approaches the first lock, the ship is tied to the mules, 3 on each side. The mules are small locomotives that run on tracks beside the locks, and they help keep the ship aligned in the center of the lock. The mules don't pull the ship through, the pilot controlling the engines does that. The ship enters the lower lock and the gates close behind us. Valves are opened and using gravity, the water from the lock above us is emptied into our lock, causing the ship to rise. When the water level in the two locks is the same, the forward gates are opened and the ship enters the second lock. This procedure is continued until we clear the third lock and sail into the lake. There were a lot of cargo ships anchored outside the Caribbean entrance to the canal as well as in Gatun Lake, all waiting their turn. The cruise ships are given priority because those companies pay a premium to have a quick transit. Can you imagine the nasty postings on this board if 1900 passengers had to wait around for a few days to pass through? Passing through Gatun Lake and the Gaillard Cut takes about 4 hours. Just after passing under the Centennial Bridge and crossing the Continental Divide, you reach the Pedro Miguel Locks, where you start the process of being lowered to the Pacific. There is only one lock to transit here, then you travel another mile across Miraflores Lake to the Miraflores Locks, which has 2 chambers. The process I described above is repeated except the water in our chamber is emptied into the lock ahead to lower us instead. After you clear the last lock, you sail under the Bridge of the Americas which links North America to South America, and enter the Pacific Ocean. I mentioned before that we have an aft penthouse cabin which allowed us great views of the locks after we had entered the chambers. We've become friends with another CC couple who have a forward penthouse overlooking the bow. So the four of us, along with two more couples we met at our M&G, spent most of the transit on either their balcony or ours. Although I love our cabin, I have to admit that the forward cabin had much better viewing of the canal and was also out of the sun, so thanks to our new friends for letting us visit. Regarding the Westerdam, we kept pace with her for the entire transit. It was interesting to watch her be raised and lowered while we were beside her. Sometimes she towered over us, and sometimes we dwarfed them. It's funny that the Sun passengers got a lot of pictures of the Westerdam and vice versa. People were shouting across to us "What's your email address? I'll send you my pictures!" By the time we left Panama, it was 6pm. It was a very enjoyable day, and one we'll remember forever. We had been partying all day and by now we were full and exhausted so we skipped dinner and went to bed early. Day 9 - At Sea Three days until we reach Acapulco. What do you do when you're faced with three sea days in a row? Well, if you find yourself bored in that situation, you can't blame the Sun for it. There are all kinds of things to do during sea days. A look at the Daily shows the following: - Texas Hold'em, Blackjack and Slots tournaments in the casino - NCL U classes on Bridge, Digital Photography, and Rumba dancing - Yoga, Pilates, and Spinning classes in the gym - Hypnosis seminar to stop smoking in Dazzles (I forgot to mention that Nadeen, the Queen of Hypnosis performed last night in the Stardust Lounge) - 6 different specials in the spa So with all these options, what did we do today? Nothing. The last two days were busy and we wanted some quiet time to recharge, so we awoke late, had breakfast at Il Adagio, went back to our cabin and put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. We emerged from our cocoon at 7:30 to have our anniversary dinner at Le Bistro. We had pre-ordered the Anniversary package because we thought it was a great deal, even though our anniversary isn't until August. The package includes dinner and wine at Le Bistro with no cover charge. Dinner was once again very good, although I admit that my DW had the better of it. Her beef tenderloin entree and chocolate napoleon dessert were excellent. What they don't advertise is that the package also includes a small anniversary cake that you can have there or take back to your cabin. Oh yeah, almost forgot the big news. We have been invited to dine with the Captain tomorrow night. Day 10 - At Sea After reading the Daily, I started calling today Champagne Tuesday, because there was a lot of bubbly flowing around the ship this afternoon. There was the Champagne Art Auction in Dazzles, the Future Cruise Champagne presentation in the Stardust Lounge, and the Champagne Spa Bazaar in the spa. Unfortunately they were all scheduled around the same time so you had to choose which party to go to. We chose the art auction. It wasn't our first auction at sea but it was the first time we actually bid on something. I won't say how much we spent, but we're happy with what we got. Then there was another Captains VIP party that evening, so more champagne was to be had. These VIP parties aren't just for suite guests, gold and higher Latitudes members are invited as well. It was 'Dress Up or Not' night and we chose to dress up because as I mentioned before, we were invited to have dinner with the Captain. There were 8 guests in all plus the Captain, the Staff Captain Roger, the Hotel Director Sean, and the Chief Engineer Marijan. As you can imagine, the service was spectacular, and the menu was prepared by the executive chef specifically for the Captain's table. I had Roger to my right and my DW had Sean to her left. Roger is a fully qualified ship's Master, and is second in command on the Sun. One of the most interesting topics of conversation at the table was the Pride of Aloha which is formerly the Sky, sister ship of the Sun. When the Sun gets to Vancouver, both Roger and Sean are leaving to go to the Pride of Aloha, which is finishing its Hawaii tours this week. Then it will be repositioned to Miami, renamed back to the Norwegian Sky, and will start doing 3 and 4 day Bahamas cruises. Day 11 - At Sea This was a quiet day on board. I guess with all the champagne from yesterday, everybody is sleeping it off. But we still managed to find lots of stuff to do. I had to go make arrangements for my art purchases, had a deep tissue massage, we lost some more money in the casino, we had dinner with another CC couple, we went to see the comedian in the lounge. A typical fun day at sea. A few people have mentioned my using the expensive internet time to post this review. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of the internet available onboard. 1) Either bring your own laptop or get a loaner onboard. If you purchase one of their internet packages, NCL will give you a loaner laptop free of charge. I did this rather than haul mine around. It has a wireless card in it, so I can go to any hotspot on board and get online (only a small number of cabins are wired with Ethernet on the Sun, and mine isn't one of them). I write these reviews beforehand on the laptop in Word, and then logon to the internet, go straight to this thread via My Favorites and copy and paste the review into a new post. It only takes a few minutes. 2) Purchase your internet package on embarkation night and you'll get a bonus of 20 minutes for the 250 minute package, or 10 minutes for the 100 minute package. If you are a Latitudes member, make sure the Internet manager knows that and he'll give you another 30 minutes for the 250 package, and 15 minutes for the 100 package. I purchased the 250 minute package, but I actually got 300 minutes to use. 3) Watch for specials in the Daily. For instance, tomorrow there is a Happy Hour from 5pm to 7pm, where you get half your time back if you go online during that time. Day 12 - Acapulco, Mexico Coming into Acapulco Bay in the pre-dawn light was a beautiful site to see. We had never been here before and had read good and bad things on the ports boards so we didn't know what to expect. We took an NCL tour to see the ancient petroglyphs at Palma Sola, which was 1000 feet above sea level, overlooking Acapulco Bay. It was a physical tour that involved a lot of steep stair climbing, but it was very interesting and we really needed the exercise. We got some super photographs too. Then they took us back down to the beach for a Mexican lunch. We chose to walk back to the ship after lunch, it wasn't far. It gave us a chance to meet all of the street vendors, beggars and taxi drivers along the way. We went across the street to tour Fort San Diego as well, and a visit to Acapulco wouldn't be complete without the DW stopping in the duty free stores to buy some authentic Mexican silver jewelry. Day 13 - Manzanillo, Mexico The Sun docked in the cargo port which was about 3 miles to downtown Manzanillo, and the same distance to the beaches in the other direction. We didn't get into any of the beach resort tours that we wanted and we didn't score any last minute openings on the waiting lists, so we decided to just take the shuttle bus into town. It was only $4 roundtrip and they ran every 10 minutes. We felt more comfortable in this port because it was a lot smaller than Acapulco. There were very few street vendors or beggars, and there were good bargains to be found in some of the stores. Once again, we're glad we didn't get into the beach resort tours we wanted. We heard from CC members that they were not as advertised. They were supposed to be provided with resort access and beach chairs, but when they got there all of the chairs were taken and the resorts were overcrowded. It seems no one at NCL knew that this weekend was a Mexican holiday and that all the locals would beat them to the beach. We made it back to the ship in time to have lunch at Il Adagio, then we went to the cabin and watched a movie. The movie choices on TV aren't bad. So far on this cruise, we've seen Juno, Michael Clayton, and I Am Legend. Because we had a late lunch and we had some suite snacks delivered, we didn't feel the need to come out for dinner. Suite Snacks are another unadvertised perk of having a suite. Your butler gives you a card to fill out each day. It lists a number of snacks that you can have delivered the next day at either 5pm or 10pm. You can choose a different snack each day or have the same snack every day. The choices on the Sun include chocolate covered strawberries, brownies, soft pretzels, tortillas and salsa, potato chips, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and dried fruits and nuts. In addition to that, we also have the endless bowl of fruit that everyone in a balcony or higher gets. It's not exactly endless, but it does get replenished periodically. If it runs out early, you just ask your butler or steward to get you some more. Day 14 - At Sea We woke up this morning to a chilly surprise. The temperature only made it to 66 F/19 C. We know we're heading north but we're still west of Cabo San Lucas. We expected it to stay warm for at least a few more days. And yet there were still some diehards sunbathing by the pool. I don't think they were taking advantage of the cold towels and spritz service though, unless they filled the bottles with hot water instead. There's not much else to mention today. I had a Hot Stone massage to finish up my relaxation package (appropriate given the weather), we watched another afternoon matinee in our cabin (Pirates of the Caribbean 3), and had dinner with some CC couples at Le Bistro. All week the ship has been offering half off the surcharge from 5:30 to 6:30 in Il Adagio and Le Bistro to encourage people to use the specialty restaurants. It seems to be working, but service tonight was definitely slower because of it. The food was still great though, all 6 people enjoyed everything. Day 15 - At Sea It was even colder today, but we're told it's supposed to warm up by Tuesday. Now we know what an Alaskan cruise may feel like. I went to the Art Seminar today, where the art director told us about the various styles and artists. I think this seminar should be conducted earlier in the cruise, they've already had 4 auctions. They might have sold more art if they told people what to look for beforehand. Today we had tapas and sangria in Las Ramblas. Watch out for the Spanish sausage, it will burn your lips. Make sure you already have your sangria first. Day 16 - At Sea We didn't think it could keep getting colder but it is. The temperature started today at 52F/11C, and we're just across from Los Angeles. They have drained the pools because not even the Canadians are silly enough to go swimming in this weather. And before I get some angry posts in return for that joke, we're proud Canadians too. Of the 1900 passengers on the ship, over 1200 are Canadian. This was a little tidbit that Denny told us way back at the Welcome Aboard show. I would bet that 80 percent of that number is from British Columbia too. We attended another Future Cruises presentation today and we put down our $250 Cruise Rewards deposit. We don't know what cruise we want to take yet. We're thinking of trying either the Mediterranean or the Baltic Sea next. A couple of CC members have already booked a South American cruise next February on the Sun, from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina. My wife wanted to get our whole CC group together again before the end of the cruise so after checking the Daily to see where the 4pm Happy Hour was, we contacted everybody in the roll call and arranged to meet in the Observation Lounge at 3:45. I'm glad to say almost everyone showed up again. It was great to check in with them and see how their cruise was going. We heard a lot of positive comments, and although there was one or two bad stories passed around, in general everyone was having a great time. And to top it off, while we were all gathered we saw a giant pod of dolphins crossing the ship's path from starboard to port. There had to be at least 100 dolphins putting on a show for us. Day 17 - San Francisco, CA The day started cold and very overcast. It must have rained overnight because we had a lot of soot on our balcony. When we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, we couldn't see the top of the towers in the fog. But by the time we cleared through U.S. Customs around 9am, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the sixties. Before we left the cabin, we left a note asking the stewards to clean the balcony, which they did. We took an NCL tour to Alcatraz and Sausalito. The prison tour was very interesting. We also stopped in at Pier 39 so the DW could pick up some Ghirardelli chocolates. San Francisco is a beautiful city. We'll have to come back again for a longer stay sometime. But it was a long day so after we left, we had a nap and then a late dinner in Four Seasons. We both had the carved turkey which was great. Once again, the dining rooms are pretty empty at 8:30 so the service is great at that time. Day 18 - At Sea 'The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed...' No, we're not headed for Gilligan's Island, but that aptly describes the seas today. It's a day to use the handrails and stay inside. It's only 48F/9C. But it's also a very interesting day. We had the crew show followed by the Fountains show this afternoon. It was very entertaining. The JAR Company is doing 'Cirque Pan' tonight. I hope the seas calm down for them later. It's the last Dress Up night too, and finally the Chocoholic Buffet is at 10:30. Day 19 - Victoria, BC Getting off the ship was a little slow this morning. As I mentioned earlier, a number of guests were leaving early because they're closer to home in Victoria, but it did clog up the lines going through Canadian customs. The cruise ship port is about half a mile from downtown, but there are shuttle buses to take you there. We chose to walk to burn off some calories. Victoria is especially beautiful in May. The flowers and trees are all blooming and the temperature was in the sixties. We just did a self-guided walking tour thru town and around the harbour to West Victoria, then took a little harbour shuttle boat back to Fishermans wharf. By the time we got back to the ship, we'd been on our feet for 5 hours and walked at least 7 miles. As we were boarding, there were spa staff handing out flyers for a 20-20-20 message special. For only $89, they will do 20 minutes on your neck and shoulders, 20 minutes on your hands and arms, and 20 minutes on your feet and ankles. I went straight there because my feet were killing me. For dinner, we went to Four Seasons with some other CC couples and sadly traded emails and phone numbers and said our goodbyes. And of course the last night of any cruise is Tip night so we thanked our concierge Erika, butler Roland and cabin stewards Carlos and Jay. I know that NCL charges you $10 pp per day (and on a 19 day cruise that adds up), but Erika and Roland aren't included in that, and Carlos and Jay deserved a little more too. Day 20 - Vancouver, BC Disembarkation went smoothly. NCL provides suite guests with VIP disembarkation which allows us off first, but since we were spending a few days in Vancouver in the Pan Pacific hotel right beside the pier, we weren't in any hurry so we didn't leave until 9am. Over the course of this cruise, we both gained 6 pounds each, which isn't bad. I had dieted and lost 7 pounds in the month preceding so I still came out one pound ahead. Keeping active on the ship and doing shore excursions that involved some exercise helped. I have to say that we didn't have one bad meal during the whole cruise, so I don't know what to make of people that come back and complain about the food. I guess it's just a matter of taste. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Wife and myself are early 50's. We've been on 15+ cruises, most very good to excellent, this one was near the bottom of the heap. Embarkation was very quick, efficient and organized. We were in a penthouse suite on deck 8 below ... Read More
Wife and myself are early 50's. We've been on 15+ cruises, most very good to excellent, this one was near the bottom of the heap. Embarkation was very quick, efficient and organized. We were in a penthouse suite on deck 8 below the bridge. The suite was roomy, and clean, very nice large bathroom with separate tub and shower area. Great view forward. Furnishings are getting a bit worn and the bed was among the worst I've slept in anywhere. NCL advertises butler and concierge service with the suite. The concierge saved the trip for us. Erika was her name and she was excellent. Erika checked with us multiple times daily and arranged our dinner reservations even at the last minute. She answered any questions we had quickly and efficiently. She stopped by with priority tender tickets without even asking. Our butler was pretty much a doorknob, all show and no go. All we wanted from him was to have our ice bucket kept full, thats it, no more necessary. Guess what, we still constantly had to try to find ice. We finally found one of the cabin stewards who helped us and he was not even from our area of deck 8. We tipped him very generously. We found most of the staff to be very friendly, some tried very hard to please but most seemed overworked. Dining. I have to say I never had a wider contrast of food quality on any cruise. Unfortunately the bad far outweighed the good. The good was the duck in the French bistro. The second night in the 7 seas dining room, lobster was fair but the beef wellington served the same night was far better, maybe even excellent. East Meets West, wife had an excellent but overcooked rib-eye, I had a NY strip, it was ok, but not worth the extra charge. Now for the BAD food, Hockey puck like things served as hamburgers, dried out chicken, and about everything else in the buffets were tasteless. Pizzas were a joke, come on NCL anyone should be able to make a decent pizza. We tried the main dining room a couple times for lunch and found out they just went and picked up some buffet items to put on a plate and served them to you. We got up and left right after they served the most unappetizing looking "meatloaf" like thing. We then went to the buffet and had some tasteless pasta. About the only things edible at the buffet were some breakfast items but I have to say the bacon every day tasted old or rancid (maybe they were cooking it in old grease??) We would look at the dinner menu's for the main dining rooms and the selections were very boring and uninspired. Who wants to eat turkey and chicken every night. I would suggest that NCL could charge $5.00 per person more per day, thats $35.00 for a week and improve their food quality. I guess this is their ploy to get people to pay for the surcharge restaurants. We didn't have a problem paying extra if it was good. Of the surcharge restaurants, the Italian place was not good at all. The veal shank which some people rave about was the worst I've had anywhere. I did not gain any weight on this cruise...HMMMM???? Enough on the food. We like to spend a lot of time in 2 places when we cruise, first the pool area, On the SUN it was so overcrowded it was near impossible to find a spot anywhere that was out of the wind. Forget trying to use the hot tubs, they were overflowing with spring breakers, some semi-clothed and leaving not much to your imagination. The second place we like normally is the casino. Not on the SUN, this one was so smoke filled it was unbreathable most evenings. We talked to a good number of fellow non-smoking passengers that boycotted the casino too. The only time we could play any blackjack was when they opened a table on the pool deck and it was so windy and cold you could not stay there long. Entertainment, the poolside Caribbean band was pretty good but they must have one heck of a contract with NCL, seemed they would play 3 or 4 songs, then go on break for half an hour. The "lounge" band was hot and cold, some songs they did well some would turn any milk within 100 ft sour. Ports. Roatan was very cool, (not temperature) We did a Victor Bodden tour and loved it, We did zip-lining WOW, We went to a beach for a while, did lunch at this neat on the water joint and had excellent fresh grilled snapper and shrimp. We also did the monkeys at Victors house. This was the best tour "bang for the buck" anywhere. Our driver Carlos was friendly and shy, showed us a lot of the Island. Belize, We had been there before, and wanted to do a riverboat tour that was not full enough for the operator to run. We shopped and had a few (quite a few) belikin's. Cozumel, Been there before, lots of ships (8) in port so we taxi'd to Mr Sanchez beach area, wife had a great massage, I lounged at the beach and had a great waiter bring me quite a few xx beers and excellent nachos and guac. NCL private Island. Nice sand, clean, overcrowded and more NCL buffet food, what can I say but I've seen and experienced MUCH better. Debarkation was quick and efficient, going thru customs was a breeze, I think they were too busy to even want to ask questions or look at anything. They were the most laid back of any customs office anywhere. We had a late flight back from FLL so we took the everglade tour to kill some time, not a bad tour, pretty interesting area. We used NCL's bag check service to send our bags directly home from the ship, all went well with that except for Northwest airlines loosing one for a couple days. Overall, our vacation was not bad but we didn't let NCL's shortcomings affect us too much. We booked this last minute and we got some much needed R&R. NCL needs to "kick it up a notch" in my opinion to compete with the other mass market cruise lines. They certainly know how to try and nickel and dime you when they can. Two things that would make them more equal to their rivals would be an major increase in food quality/variety and get the smoking out of the casino! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
My husband and I just returned from an 18 day Repositioning/Panama Canal cruise on NCL's Sun. This is our fifth cruise, but first with NCL. We have previously sailed with Carnival, RCI and Princess. We chose this cruise for the ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from an 18 day Repositioning/Panama Canal cruise on NCL's Sun. This is our fifth cruise, but first with NCL. We have previously sailed with Carnival, RCI and Princess. We chose this cruise for the itinerary - a lot of new and interesting ports for us. I will break this review down to categories to make it easier to follow. Embarkation: An absolute nightmare and the worse experience we have ever had so far. The Sun was not scheduled to depart from San Diego until Midnight. Due to the late sailing, we tried to determine when we could board prior to the cruise and received various answers from NCL, ranging from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM. No one at NCL seemed to have a clue. When we arrived at the port at about 2:00 PM, we were told that there would be a delay due to the fact that another line's ship was in the Sun's space and we would have to wait until it departed first (at about 4:00 PM). NCL had provided shuttles for guests to use to go shopping. We did this for a couple of hours and then returned to the port. When we returned, we were given a number for boarding. At about 7:00 PM, they started calling the numbers which turned out to be group numbers. They then stopped boarding and explained that there was a delay due to problems with the key cards. When they did resume, they simply called out the boarding numbers in loud voices - no PA or overhead signs. Given the mass of people in the waiting areas, they could not be heard. We did not get onboard until 10:00 PM and by that time, we were so tired, we just went to our cabin and slept. NCL still charged us the $10.00/day/guest service charge for that day! I understand that problems do occur on occasion, but just a little suggestion to NCL - invest in a couple of small chalkboards so that the boarding numbers can be displayed overhead so guests can see when their boarding number is called. Also, don't charge people a full day's service charge for 2 hours of sleeping. Ship: The Sun is spotless and pretty in an understated sort of way. A little difficult to navigate around the decks. On more than one occasion, we would find ourselves heading in the wrong direction and turn around only to find a fellow guest laughing due to the fact they had just done the same thing. Crew: In general, the staff was friendly and helpful. I say in general due to a couple of bad experiences. On one occasion, I decided to go to the Sports Bar for a late night snack - the only place you can find something to eat after 11:00 PM. When I entered, there were two customers having drinks and one staff member. I looked at the menu and approached the staff member to place an order to bring back to my cabin. He told me rather curtly that I would have to take a seat first. OK - I'm willing to play by the rules. I took a seat and than was totally ignored. Without so much as a "someone will be with you in a minute to take your order", I gave up after waiting 15 minutes. Possibly due to the late hour and the fact I was rather hungry, I was not pleased. I decided to go to the reception desk and lodge a complaint. The one girl in reception at the time met my complaint with a rather blank look and offered absolutely no solution. The other poor experience we had was in the Pacific Heights alternate restaurant. We had heard that they served very good mussels and since my hubby adores mussels, we decided to give them a try for dinner one night. My husband ordered both the chowder and the mussels. He was served the chowder, but not the mussels. When we inquired about the mussels, we were informed rather rudely by our waiter that my husband had not ordered mussels. I clearly heard him order this. A good waiter would have said "I'm sorry, I must not have heard you and I'll get them for you" and would not have argued in such a manner with the customer. Oh well, it was a long cruise. Food: The worse we have ever had on any cruise line. The food in the main dining room was horrible. On one occasion, several of us at the table ordered Paella and none of us could eat it after the first bite. My husband ordered Chioppino one night (NCL's version is spaghetti pasta with a little marinara sauce and a few shell fish on top - not what most consider Chioppino - perhaps they should refer to a cookbook). He became very sick to his stomach that night - vomiting the dinner up. Fortunately, he was better the next morning. On a seven day cruise, they have lobster one night and a chocolate extravaganza on one night. You would think that on an 18 day cruise this would at least be doubled - not so. Only one lobster night (the lobster was dry - how do you mess up lobster?) and one chocolate extravaganza. Give me a break NCL - I am not a picky eater. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese often suffices as a gourmet meal in our household. What I would have given for a little Kraft M&C on this cruise. Due to the poor and limited offerings in the main dining rooms, we were forced to pay extra to eat at the alternate restaurants during the majority of our cruise. Maybe this is NCL's intention. For the most part, the alternate restaurants are good. We enjoyed Le Bistro (the chocolate soufflE was very good) and we ate at the Steakhouse several times. The Maitre D' at the steakhouse was particularly nice and we made sure to give him a little something extra at the end of the cruise. Il Adagio was OK, but we were surprised at the limited offerings (no fettuccini alfredo for instance - another of hubby's favorites). NCL does not seem to be very responsive to customer complaints about the food. Several fellow guests that we met and dined with decided to approach the subject with staff. A meeting was set up (I did not know about it in advance and thus did not attend). The food and beverage manager was at the meeting along with a few other staff members. According to our new friends that attended the meeting, the response to their complaints was "no one else seems to be complaining". Apparently they don't take the time to walk around the ship and listen to what the guests are saying. I heard a lot of complaints and absolutely no one was praising the cuisine. Ports of Call: As I explained earlier, this cruise stopped at a number of places. Our first stop was Manzanillo. We didn't book a shore excursion, simply walked about with our new shipboard friends. It is a pretty little city. Next stop was Acapulco. Hubby was not feeling well that day, so we cancelled our plans to go see the cliff divers that night with friends. We only walked about a bit in the morning. Very dirty city and garbage was floating in the harbor. Could not imagine partaking in any of the water sports we observed going on due to the filth in the water. Yuck! Puntarenas, Costa Rica was a lot of fun and beautiful. They had just had several days of rain and several areas were flooded, but we had beautiful weather. The group we were with had hired a van and we went to the crocodile bridge, Carrera national park and Jaco beach. My husband was not able to go with us as planned. He has a heart condition and had gone to see the ship's doctor the day before. He was very well treated by the Sun's medical staff, but since he was having bronchial spasms, the doctor ordered him to take it easy for a couple of days. Just a note to future cruisers - buy trip insurance that includes medical coverage. Although you must pay medical expenses up front, you will at least be reimbursed later. Remember, most medical insurance, including Medicare, will not pay for medical expenses incurred while traveling to foreign countries. Carrera national park was great. Our group hired a guide (recommended) for $100 which worked out to just a little over $10 per person. The guide was very knowledgeable, pointing out various plants and animals. We saw Macaws, monkeys, lizards, butterflies and numerous tropical plants with various medicinal properties. I am actually glad that hubby didn't go on this one as it turned out to be quite a hike. He would have had problems negotiating some of the areas with his cane. The Panama Canal crossing was great and I took loads of pictures showing the locks closing, filling up, etc. Gatun Lake is massive with beautiful flora along it's banks. Was disappointed that we did not see any animal life from the ship, but they must have been taking advantage of the wonderful weather as well. Cartagena, Columbia was the big surprise. I was a little apprehensive about this port, but was pleasantly surprised. We took a cab into the old town section and spent the day wandering around the various little streets. Although the sellers are numerous and often in your face, most have licenses hanging around there necks and a firm "no" suffices. Since Columbia is actively trying to encourage tourist trade, they are really going out of there way to make Cartagena a regular cruise destination. They have an entire force of "Policia Tourista" on the job and noticeably evident everywhere in the major tourist areas. Although most speak limited English (if at all), they still try to be helpful to the tourists. My limited Spanish skills managed to get our group by in terms of finding directions, etc. Santa Marta is new to the cruise ship itineraries and still has a way to go. The streets were torn up and the locals seemed to be curious about this new invasion of cruise ship passengers. On the bright side, they haven't figured out the economics yet, so we didn't have people in our face trying to sell us something every other foot. Give them a couple of years and they'll get the hang of it. An hour of walking about was sufficient for us and then back to the ship. Roatan , British Honduras, is a small island off the coast and located in the middle of the second largest reef system in the world. Beautiful water!!! We only went into the little village near the port and did not take any excursions to the other side of the island (which I understand is considerably more cosmopolitan and developed). Lots of little shops and sellers trying to get one to buy the same old touristy stuff. After the first couple of shops, everything looked the same. Belize was our next stop and we had a great time. We booked a cave tubing excursion through Cave-Tubing. Com. I highly recommend them over the cruise ship's excursion. Not only is it half the price, but you receive much more personal attention and assistance. Yhony runs the company and I cannot say enough good things about him and his operation. He is starting up a new phase of ATV's and as a bonus, he took our group on a short ATV ride through the rain forest to introduce us to this. Had a great time, got very muddy, and appreciated that the cave-tubing was following. Since my husband walks with a cane, Yhony gave him a lot of personal attention. He stayed with him on the walk to the area where you enter the water and carried his tube for him and me as well. He then stayed with the two of us during the entire cave-tubing, making sure we did not get stuck and enjoyed the experience. Two other guides were with us as well and they gave the same level of service to the other members in our group. We saw several others on the cruise ship excursion and they had basically been left on their own. We are not excursion intensive cruisers, but this one is one we will certainly remember. Thank-you so much Yhony for this wonderful experience and the next time we are in Belize we will be sure to look you up again. Our final stops were Cozumel and Nassau. We were originally scheduled to stop off in Costa Maya, but due to the hurricane, it was replaced with Cozumel. Since we have been to both ports previously, we just walked around and did some shopping. I had to get a ring repaired in Nassau and discovered a great little jewelry repair shop, Islandman Jewelers. Not much of a shop, but quality and timely jewelry repairs. Very nice guy as well. Just a note, I had to have the ring repaired because it was damaged by a jeweler in Cozumel - Silver Planet. I was having a stone set and not only did they use lead solder, but they damaged the existing settings as well. Buyer beware - do not shop there. I should have complained initially, but they took longer than they originally quoted and it was getting late - we had to get back to the ship. It was only while on the tender that I noticed the poor workmanship and damage. In addition, the stone I purchased was not what they claimed. They are crooks and intentionally market faceted quartz as precious stones. Although I am somewhat savvy when purchasing gems, this one just proved to me that I should not be so cocky in the future and that I need to bring my gem tester with me next time. Previously, we have had good experiences purchasing stones in the Caribbean and this is the first time I have been seriously ripped off by a dealer passing off totally fake merchandise. And for those of you who think it serves me right for not shopping at Diamonds International or any of the other "cruise ship recommended shops", do some searching on the internet. There are some very serious horror stories about Diamonds International and how customers have paid thousands of dollars in some cases for junk with no recourse or resolution. I guess I can count myself lucky that I didn't loose that much on this one and my ring is back to its original glory. Debarkation: This went very smoothly. We chose the express version and were off the ship by 8:30. Were really surprised that Customs was a breeze considering we were carrying our own luggage off. To sum it all up (and I know this has been a lengthy review), both my husband and I had a great time overall on this cruise. Even with the mishaps, we thoroughly enjoyed the ambience with fellow passengers and the great ports of call. Would we book with NCL again? Probably not, due solely to the food. After all, one of the things we enjoy the most about cruising is trying out new dishes and not having to pay extra for a decent meal. If NCL ever wakes up and decides to address the food issue, we would consider them again, if for no other reason than the itineraries they offer. We are already planning our next cruise - HAL's Noordam - for a 20 day next fall. I have heard that HAL has fairly good food - I'll let you know. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We booked this trip nearly 16 months in advance to insure that my wife and I and three other couples had our choice of staterooms and deck preference well in advance. We all prefer balcony staterooms in as close to the mid ships as ... Read More
We booked this trip nearly 16 months in advance to insure that my wife and I and three other couples had our choice of staterooms and deck preference well in advance. We all prefer balcony staterooms in as close to the mid ships as possible for the best cruising without feeling significant movement of the ship during rough seas. Our group ranges in age from 56-64 and we are definitely not cruise and booze people, but we do have a real good time when we are out and about. Our primary purpose was to transit the Panama Canal and see the cliff divers in Acapulco, not to mention have a great vacation. The 17 day cruise started April 23, 2006 and was completed May 10, 2006. Embarkation In a word "awful" because the Norwegian Sun was supposed to go out of New Orleans, the accommodations in Miami were make shift at best. There were (5) other ships there on our sailing day and they were embarking on their cruises as well, so they had the good accommodations. When we arrived at the dock we were given tags for the luggage by the porter and the only thing we needed to put on the tag was our cabin number. We were then herded into a serpentine line by an NCL employee and we could see the line would eventually take us into a good sized tent. What we didn't know was that once in the tent there were two Miami Harbor Patrol people in there checking cruise documents against passports or other ID. We stood in the hot sun for over an hour before getting into the air conditioned FIRST tent. This had to be especially hard on the majority of the older passengers all above 70 years old by our guess. NCL employees came out often to give us cups of water. Once inside we were checked by one of the two patrol people that I really believed wanted to be a comedian as he made some sort of joke or comment about each person he checked. If he would have been in the blazing Florida sun like us I'm sure he would have hurried. This situation was out of NCL's hands and the Miami authorities had complete control of the check in station. After the first tent there was a walk half the length of the ship where a "comfort tent" to keep you out of the sun for a few minutes had been erected. We then proceeded half the length of the ship to another "comfort tent" to stand waiting to enter a large tent where the medal detector was checking carry on luggage and people as they walked through. We then were sent to the registration area in the tent where U.S. citizens and non citizen lines were set up for registration. The non citizen line was at least twice as long as the US citizen line and getting through registration and the metal detector took no more than 15 minutes. We found out later that there were less than a thousand U.S. passengers on board and over fifteen hundred International passengers. With our cabin keys in hand we proceeded on the ship through the check in and hand cleaning stations. We took an elevator to the Viking Deck #8 and proceeded to our cabin. Unfortunately, the door keys didn't work. We put our carry on luggage in one of our groups cabins and proceed to the Garden Cafe on deck #12. Had a real nice lunch there with the food being very tasty and a real nice selection. After lunch, I went down to the reception area on deck #5 and received new keys which worked just fine. Shortly after getting in the cabin we met our cabin steward Donnie and asked for one additional pillow and a foam mattress pat. We had read about the pads in a previous review. Donnie had no problem accommodating our request that evening when he made up our room. We did have a problem initially with the air conditioning in our room and one request to Donnie for help and the problem was solved by maintenance. Don't get me wrong, the AC won't freeze you out of the room, but was comfortable for sleeping. Other than that problem the room was excellent with plenty of storage and even through rough seas due to its mid ship location on deck #8 we felt very little rocking or rolling of the ship. At Sea Days There were many activities to occupy your time while at sea including all the traditional cruise ship venues. We chose to go to the pools early usually around 8:00 a.m. and there usually was no one there. We noticed the pool area filled up around 11:00 which was in the full heat of the day and way too hot for us. There were ample pool lounge chairs and small round tables for various items. The pools were at 77 degrees and the 4 jacuzzi's were at 100 degrees. Port of Call Willemstad, Curacao We took a "Beach Express Tour" snorkeling excursion. It was the first time most of us snorkeled and after getting several goggle and mouth fulls of salt water we all got the hang of it. It was a short ride to the beach area and our guide and driver were a lot of fun in their old school bus. The island itself was formed by volcanic eruptions and the areas in the sea are full of coral which i found when I lost my balance and skinned my knee on some. It was nice to be able to stand up on the bottom when you got tired as well as clean out your mask and tube (LOL). The tour and beach fun were very much worth the $78/couple cost of the excursion. Port of Call Oranjestad, Aruba The excursion we chose in Aruba was a glass windowed boat exploring a ship wreck from World War II off the coast and then a tour of the island including the Natural Bridge in their wildlife refuge was similar to a state park in the U.S. This tour was in an air conditioned bus and again very much worth the $114/couple cost. Our first phase was the glass windowed boat. We boarded a power boat at the Holiday Inn and went out into the sea and transfer to the glass windowed boat. Even though the boat was air condition, the climb down stairs to the bottom of the boat and the close proximity of the passengers might make you feel a little sea sick. You are actually only 5' underwater, but the 20% magnification of the window glass makes everything closer. We were fortunate that the sun was coming out of the clouds during our tour giving us some incredible pictures and film of the wreck. The next stop was a big rock some chose to climb, but we elected to walk through the gift shop and then get back on the bus in the air conditioning the outside temperature was about 90 with 98% humidity and I mean to tell you it was HOT!. We then went to the natural bridge which we found out on the way had collapsed in September 2005. The smaller bridge was still there, however, so that worked out ok. The coast line in the northern end of the island is very rugged in comparison to the white sandy beaches of the touristy town area. Port of Call Port Lemon, Costa Rica This city was one of the most poverty stricken cities I've seen in my travels abroad and absolutely filthy with garbage and trash strewn everywhere. We chose a pontoon trip on the Black River to view wildlife. Again, we were on a nice air conditioned bus that took us through the heart of this poverty stricken city and country. The tour was for 4 hours of which two and half of it was driving to and from the river. The trip appeared to be no more than about 20 miles, but because the road was so full of potholes we crawled most of the way. If the road would have been in good repair it might have taken no more than forty minutes each way. The pontoon boat had a leaking pontoon on the port side and on the way back under power it began plowing through the water getting the people on that side of the boat wet feet and some even got some of their belongings wet. It felt pretty good while we were moving, but when he stopped to look at animals it was really hot. On the trip we saw sloth's, monkeys, and several species of birds. The wildlife and the fresh fruit after the pontoon ride were nice, but at $138/couple in the heat and humidity we wouldn't recommend it. Transiting the Panama Canal Transiting the canal and six locks is by far the highlight of the trip. To be on this huge ship with only 24 inches to spare on each side from hitting the sides of the lock is unbelievable. The co-ordination of the six toy locomotives that pull the ship into each lock and then steady the ship in the lock while the water is either raising or lowering is something you must witness to truly appreciate. There are a total of six locks in the Panama Canal with the first three at the Atlantic side. The fourth lock is about the three quarter point of the journey and the last two are at the Pacific end of the canal. It takes the whole day to make the transit. There are many places within the canal that two huge ships like ours I doubt could even pass. The co-ordination of the passing is all done at the locks and is timed flawlessly. We saw two crocodiles during the transit and number of species of birds. We heard holler monkeys, but they were to far away for us to see. Another thing that gives one an appreciation for the engineering of the canal and locks is the control buildings at each lock base. The last one at the Pacific side was so close to the ship that we could just about touch it. It couldn't have been more than six feet from our balcony. Initially, we intended to get to the front of the ship on the observation deck to watch the transit, but they were standing six deep there. We went to the back of the ship on deck #11 where we were able to get refreshments and food at the Out door Cafe and really see first hand how the locks and the entire system operated. Port of Call Puntarenas, Costa Rica When we left Port Lemon we were told by our guide that on the Pacific side of Costa Rica was the well to do side and seeing shacks and cardboard houses was only on the Atlantic side. WRONG! The area looked identical to Port Lemon with garbage and trash everywhere, burned out houses and empty lots covered in trash. The beach area was absolutely pitiful with garbage, trash and even an old toilet seat laying on the beach. The one and half hour bus trip into the mountains had trash all the way along the roadway which we informed by our guide is one of the principal roadways in his country. The road was a two lane truck route that was in poor repair and in our view very dangerous to pass on. They got us on this excursion, it was no more than a long bus ride to buy souvenirs that were probably the same as we saw around the dock area. We were taken to a "tourist trap". The high light of the trap I mean trip was the fresh fruit and cookies provided at the Sargi cart makers shop. Cost of this excursion was $80/couple and again is not recommended. Huatulco, Mexico City and La Guelaguetza Show Excursion We boarded our air conditioned bus for a ride around this small town in southern Mexico. The temperature was over 90 and humidity was about 96% the day of our tour. In other words it was really hot. The trip around this small city included a stop at their very old Catholic Church where three cute little Mexican kids sold us some hand made jewelry and the girls each bought a fold up fan to help with the heat. The last part of the tour was at an outdoor theater where it had to be over 100 degrees in side with very little air movement causing most people to leave the very long dancing performance soaking wet. We did receive refreshments there and on a scale of 1 to 10 we might rate it a 5. Cost of the tour was $116/couple. Acapulco The highlight of Acapulco was of course the cliff divers. We took a bus tour around the city and stopped at several places, but the cliff divers are what Acapulco is all about. There is a hotel just adjacent to the cliff where the divers perform and that is the base used by all the tours., There is an excellent view from there, but your are a good 250' away from where they actually dive. My wife talked me into going down the 146 stairs to an observation area right across from the divers probably no more than 60' from the actual cliff. The walk down in the 96 degree heat wasn't to bad, but the walk up wasn't easy. All in all this was by far the best place to watch them dive. The observation area was about 20' up from the water and for taking pictures especially movies it was perfect. I even got a picture with my wife and two of the divers because this area is where they walk down to and then after the dive they come back up those same 146 stairs. Oh by the way, I made it up too soaking wet with perspiration. Cabo San Lucas We took a bus tour to a small town named Todos Santos about 50 miles up the Baha to have an authentic Mexican lunch and tour the city. One of the main attractions is The Hotel California made popular from a song by The Eagles. We also toured Cabo San Lucas mostly from the bus and can see that it is one of the up and coming tourist areas of Mexico. Entertainment Entertainment was very diverse in the Stardust lounge located on decks 6 & 7 aft. There was excellent entertainment from singers, magicians, comedians, jugglers and even a hypnotist that hypnotized my sister-in-law. We always went to the early show so that we could have dinner in the Seven Seas restaurant on deck 5 aft. Obviously, the proximity of the restaurant and lounge made it very convenient. The highlight for us of the entertainment provided was the three productions by the Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers. These young people that have been brought together are from all over the world and were absolutely outstanding and provided great entertainment. They did two totally different show during the cruise and are a can't miss. There were many other entertainment opportunities, but we chose to basically relax and not partake in them. However, a lot of the passengers did and appeared to be having a great time. Staff Services NCL of course is free style dining which we prefer ever since our first cruise on Princess. There is no restriction on when or where you eat except with in the confines of the regular dining hours. During lunch on our third day in the Seven Seas we had a young lady from Romania, Mihaela, and her assistant from the Philippines, Anicia, wait on us. These two girls had three tables they were working with twelve people and they were absolutely excellent. They never left us waiting for anything from keeping our glasses full to cleaning crumbs off the table. At dinner that evening I asked the Maitre'd if we could be seated in their section. The maitre'd gave me a kind of questioning look, but asked us to wait a few minutes to be seated. The wait was no more than two minutes and we were led to a table for eight, our party size, which was not in the area we had eaten lunch in. I pointed this out to the maitre'd and was told it would be all right. Within a few minutes Mihaela and Anicia came to the table and got us started with drinks and appetizers and through out the evening showed us the same great service that they had done at lunch. Well, the next night I again asked for Mihaela and Anicia and again we were led to the same table and within a few minutes both girls were there to wait on us. This was our regular routine at dinner for the remaining 12 days on the cruise. As it turned out, even on the first night when I asked for them they were not even working in that dinning room, but were in the cafe on the eleventh deck working. The staff at the Seven Seas brought them down to wait on us and us only every evening what ever time we arrived. I don't think you can get any better service from NCL than that. Thus, free style dining can also be assigned seating if you play your cards right. We rewarded both girls well at the end of the cruise. Food First, we are not connoisseurs of gourmet food. But if you see us, you know we like to eat. We ate all of our evening meals in the Seven Seas and about half of our breakfasts and lunches. We ate in the buffet only on shore days and ate in the outdoor cafe when the taste was for hamburgers and the like. My wife had Italian food in for lunch the La Bistro and I had sandwiches a few times in The Las Rambles and they were great. We were very satisfied with all the food in the Seven Seas dining room and felt the Garden buffet was as good as any other buffet we have had. In other reviews we have seen a few that criticized the food especially in the buffets, but my goodness people its just as the name implies one step above a cafeteria. If you wanted better food go to the main dining rooms and quit belly aching! Debarkation Absolute chaos thanks to the United States government! U.S. Customs was to be on the ship at 7:00 a.m. to begin the customs procedure in the Observatory Lounge. We were waiting in lounge chairs on Deck 11 and witnessed them finally showing up in the parking lot at 8:21 a.m. By the time they got on board and the process started it was almost 9:00 a.m. When the wife and I went through the Customs agent did nothing more than stamp our form without even reading it just as he did for those in front and in back of us. The procedure to disembark was to be by color code of your bag tags. The first two colors were called and the process started about 9:40 a.m. Then about twenty minutes later we heard that everyone that had been through customs could exit the ship. We headed for the stairwell only to find the entire stairwell jammed with people. We made it to deck 7 when the jam up stopped us cold in our tracks on our way to deck 3 to disembark. By 10:20 we were off the ship and headed for our bag color code area. We got the bags and left the area to our hotel via cab. This chaos would have been completely avoided if our illustrious government workers would have showed up at the ship on time rather than an hour and twenty minutes late! Recommendation We highly recommend this ship and this cruise. The ports of call are good, but the Panama Canal experience is a once in a life time experience. The staff of the Norwegian Sun were all the friendliest we have seen always saying hello no matter where you might see one and they are extremely helpful. We will definitely sail on NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
This was our third cruise and all three were with Norwegian Cruise Line. Two on the Sun and one on the Spirit. We left (my wife and I) from Miami and the embarkation process was terrible. It took two hours to get from the airport to the ... Read More
This was our third cruise and all three were with Norwegian Cruise Line. Two on the Sun and one on the Spirit. We left (my wife and I) from Miami and the embarkation process was terrible. It took two hours to get from the airport to the ship. Apparently there were two Norwegian ships in Miami and this caused problems in transportation from the airport to the ship. Once at the ship we had no problems getting on the ship. We shouldn't since most of the people already were processed. We fault Norwegian with the delays at the airport. They should have had enough busses there to drive us the few miles to the ship. But this can happen every once in awhile and the weather was great and after all we were on vacation so whether we sit in the airport or the boat is no big deal. The Panama Cruise or any cruise that is of longer duration than 7 days appear to attract the older crowd. Since we were on a 17 day cruise, approximately 89% of the passengers appeared to be over 65. I guess they have the money and the time. We are in our late fifties so we were pretty much in the ballpark. This has benefits, since the older passengers have a tendency to eat early and go to bed early. This is great when it comes to supper. You get to sit down right away and service is fantastic. Instead of the 2 hour suppers aboard the Norwegian Spirit we were able to take our time and finish about 45 minutes to an hour. The food was quite good in the main dinning rooms. In the past we used the specialty restaurants like the Bistro. This time around we only used the specialty restaurants twice. The food was always good and served hot. You finish with the appetizer when they bring you the salad. You never had to request anything. Wine is a little expensive but it is a vacation and you can ask them to cork the bottle and serve the remaining wine on the following night. There is one thing about the Sun and that is the people who work on the ship. They are always helpful, polite and efficient. This differed in a small degree with the Spirit. The ship is always clean and they devised a new way of serving food in the buffet restaurants on the top floors. The have set up stations at different places so if it is pizza you want you go to a station apart from the regular meals. They had a station serving hot dogs/hamburgers etc. and stations for more elaborate food. They use to provide trays when you ate upstairs in the buffet areas but have stopped doing this. Instead you have plates and saucers. At first it was annoying because you had to go back for dessert etc. However, after two days I noticed haw fast you can get your food by not using trays. People using trays try to stock up on food so the line slows up. We found out later that this was not the only reason. apparently, this reduces the tendency to load up your tray with food that you end up never eating. Less waste means more profit for the ship. Excursions were typical of all the cruise lines and there was a good selection. Costa Rica was rich in wildlife and rain forest. Mexico was beautiful on the Pacific Side. As a matter of fact Acapulco has to be one of the most beautiful city at night that we have ever seen. There were two other cruise ships when we were there , Princess and Holland America. However, only the Sun left after dark so we could see the city at night and it was worth it. Think of Christmas decorations that go on for miles ,up and down huge mountains, from street lamps and houses, it was quite a spectacle. San Francisco was also a beautiful city and a day or two there is well worth the price. Try to see the building where there are sofas/chairs/pianos hanging out windows etc. Disembarkation was terrible because when we arrived at San Francisco there were already four ships in port and US Customs only came on board two hours later than was planned. Once customs was on the ship the process went very quickly. The shuttles to the hotel and airport were well done and did not resemble when we got on board. Two things that I feel I should mention and that ios the Casino and the art Auction. Don't waste your money in the casino as far as the slots are concerned. NCL advertises its Casinos but the payout appears to be lower than what they state. You can win the small credits but any credits > 50 is few and far between. Jackpots are rare as far as I could see. The art auction is a lot of fun if you don't take it too seriously and not accept everything you are told. They claim that the paintings can be brought in with no tax or duty payable. When we hit the canadian customs this turned out to be incorrect. We asked on the ship and this is what whew were told. They also told us that they would pay any taxes or duty that was charged. Well we will find out in 5 to 6 weeks when the paintings arrive by UPS. It was great cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it especially going through the Panama Canal Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
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
One word describes everything about the ship and the cruise - FANTASTIC. We sailed out of LA on a beautiful September evening with a glorious sunset to see us off. We have sailed NCL before on the Spirit and both ships were equally as ... Read More
One word describes everything about the ship and the cruise - FANTASTIC. We sailed out of LA on a beautiful September evening with a glorious sunset to see us off. We have sailed NCL before on the Spirit and both ships were equally as good. Our cabin on Norway deck first behind the bridge was perfect for what we wanted. Just one small complaint - the plastic balcony chairs could have been more comfortable - don't know how some of the large rear ends fit on them! We enjoyed all the shore visits - even though it tipped it down with rain in Acapulco because of the proximity of Hurricane Stan. We avoided two hurricanes but there was no discomfort due to rough seas - only the large swimming pool caused a problem with the motion of the water - and had to be closed some days, but the other pool was always available. We trekked the Sierra Madre in Puerto Vallarta, zip lined in Costa Rica and went down in a submarine in Aruba - unforgettable! The choice of food was excellent - both the formal dining rooms and the buffet. Plenty of places to sit and only short queuing for breakfast at the buffet when it was a shore day - everyone up early and raring to go! We are an English couple in our sixties and although many of our fellow passengers were older we thoroughly enjoyed everything on offer - nightly shows, lectures, exercise, but we drew the line at Bingo! Not our thing. We would not hesitate to go on an NCL cruise again and found the Sun a friendly happy ship with a lovely crew. Nothing was too much trouble. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
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
I took this cruise with my husband. We took the 7 day Alaska cruise on this same ship last year, and enjoyed it so much that we decided to take a longer cruise. I can't say enough about the service we received. Everyone was so ... Read More
I took this cruise with my husband. We took the 7 day Alaska cruise on this same ship last year, and enjoyed it so much that we decided to take a longer cruise. I can't say enough about the service we received. Everyone was so attentive to our needs and very friendly. After only two days, we were on a first name basis with almost everyone who served us. Embarkation was a breeze. After arriving at the airport, we were put on a bus to the pier. From the pier, after our luggage was offloaded and checked by us it was minutes until we were on the ship. The itinerary was excellent! We had fun at all the ports. We booked tours at only two of the ports, the others we explored on our own. There was something to do every minute of everyday on the ship. The food was excellent, we ate in the restaurants every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We only used the buffets for snacks and such. The specialty restaurants are worth the extra charge. Where else can you have a 4 course meal in a really nice French or Italian restaurant for only $15 per person? The entertainment was really good too! The comedians, the bands, the shows - all were FABULOUS! Debarkation was easy too, just wait until your color tag is called and you're off the ship in minutes! Overall, I have to say that we had a wonderful time and will definitely cruise with Norwegian again. As Fabio (one of the entertainers) would say - EXCITING - NO? Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
We booked the shuttle through NCL to pick us up at LAX, and they never showed up..I called NCL from the airport and we were left on hold for almost an hour! Finally got a shuttle outside to the ship, on our own and was one of the first ... Read More
We booked the shuttle through NCL to pick us up at LAX, and they never showed up..I called NCL from the airport and we were left on hold for almost an hour! Finally got a shuttle outside to the ship, on our own and was one of the first ones at the port to embark. We did our pre-registration online, and it ended up taking 45 minutes to check us in, because the workers didn't know how to use the new software, and had to enter everyone manually! People were still not checked in until late in the early evening. Once we were on, the ship is beautiful! The ship was spotless. I love that they have you sanitize your hands before you enter, and all throughout the ship. I liked the atrium, very tall and the skylight went all the way to the top. We had an inside cabin, the biggest of any ship I had ever experienced. I'm not one to complain about food on a cruise, because of all the choice. Well, it was the worst food ever! The buffet was so small and full of fried finger foods and there was no choice. Everything looked unappetizing (and I love food)..The only plus was the dessert section, which was bigger than the buffet itself. In the morning for breakfast, the eggs looked like soup. The main dining rooms were only good 2 nights. The choices were strange, and we left unsatisfied. I recommend the steak..there was no lobster or prime rib offered on this cruise. The best was the Pacific Heights Cooking Light Restaurant, no charge, and delicious! Blew the other dining away. No chocolate buffet was disappointing. Entertainment was fantastic. the best shows I have seen. Disembarking was the best of any ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
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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