33 Norwegian Sun Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

Wanted to see Panama Canal and this cruise was just perfect. The Panama canal was just awesome. Swimming with the dolphins was just the best time. Overall this was the best cruise I have taken. The crew were very helpful. The cabin was ... Read More
Wanted to see Panama Canal and this cruise was just perfect. The Panama canal was just awesome. Swimming with the dolphins was just the best time. Overall this was the best cruise I have taken. The crew were very helpful. The cabin was kept clean and inviting. Food was fabulous. Loved the Bistro. Friendly people. Would chose NCL for all my cruising vacation. I traveled with many friends and never had a problem being seated in restaurants. The food served was hot and delicious. Only went to one show and it was great. Very talented staff. You can sense how the staff likes there jobs as they were happy and helpful Will only cruise Norwegian in the future. I've been to Bermuda and Hawaii a number of times and will always use Norwegian. Always have great excursions. Overall I loved this cruise. I got to see may great places, one of which was the Panama Canal in a ferry. What a wonderful way to see the workings of the canal close up. Very happy camper here! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Panama cruise was great once we got on the ship, took two hours to get there. Had a balcony cabin with all new furniture and tv Everything worked extremely well during the entire cruise. Perhaps because it was an older ship the state room ... Read More
Panama cruise was great once we got on the ship, took two hours to get there. Had a balcony cabin with all new furniture and tv Everything worked extremely well during the entire cruise. Perhaps because it was an older ship the state room was surprisingly large compared to the Gem and Dawn we have sailed on before. Service was excellent from our room attendant Mathias D to the bartenders and wait staff. Entertainment was the best we have seen especially the comedians the first part of the cruise. Perhaps they went all out considering some of the negative reviews I had seen about previous cruises. The highlight excursion was the Chivas party bus in Columbia Three piece band on board, the rum flowed and the dancing and energy of the guide was amasing as well as information as we did up the city . Food ok ; Best in the specialty restaurants. We loved the pool area especially the smaller deep pool (7 ft all around) as it was less crowded and we could swim easily in this salt water pool The new furniture through out the ship was great especially the well spaced comfy seats in the theatre Perhaps being an older smaller ship it didn't have as many public bathrooms or modern features like water slides etc but we loved the fewer people . I think we recognized or had talked to everyone on board by the end of 18 days. Other than the two hours getting on and off the ship at embark and debarkation we loved the cruise and would take the Sun again. 5th Norwegian cruise and 8th overall Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We thoroughly enjoyed the 18 day Panama Canal full transit cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun! The cruise ports with sea days interspersed allowed for a nice combination of relaxation and activities. The ship just came out of dry dock and ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed the 18 day Panama Canal full transit cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun! The cruise ports with sea days interspersed allowed for a nice combination of relaxation and activities. The ship just came out of dry dock and it looked beautiful. All the public rooms including the Spinnaker lounge on the top deck were lovely. We sailed out of Seattle and had superb weather the entire time. Our first stop was Victoria and we loved walking through downtown and stopping at the nearby Craigdarroch Castle, government buildings and gorgeous gardens. We met charming locals who were very helpful with directions, We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge with the sun coming up and it was spectacular. We docked in San Francisco and we took a day trip to Alcatraz. The Alcatraz pier was a leisurely 10 minute walk from where our ship docked. It was a fantastic day there. The tour of Alcatraz was top notch and the views from Alcatraz were gorgeous. Be sure to get tickets for Alcatraz at least a month before your arrival. It is almost impossible to walk up and get a ticket otherwise. We had a couple sea days after that and I was able to visit the Mandara spa which was very relaxing. We continued our journey with stops at Cabo, Acapulco, Puntarenas and Cartagena and enjoyed all those ports too. We took a tour in Acapulco and saw the cliff divers and gorgeous views from the mountains surrounding the ocean. The Panama Canal Transit was a highlight of the trip. The ship had a narrator on board for the transit and he was very informative and provided excellent commentary the entire day. The transit took most of the daylight hours of one day and it was beautiful. We viewed most of the transit from Deck 6 and we were up close, within an arm’s length of the locks. Deck 6 on the Sun is a wonderful place to walk for exercise as well as taking in the magnificent ocean views. There were about 25 lounge chairs on this deck and they could have used another 25. Many people liked to relax, read or enjoy the ocean views and the lounge chairs were usually occupied. Our cabin had new carpet and furniture and was in excellent condition. We had an inside cabin and it was the largest and nicest one we have ever had. It had a separate sofa, lots of storage and floor space. We were on deck 8. Our cabin steward, Jefferson, did a great job of keeping the cabin spotless. The food was very good in all the venues we tried. We enjoyed the freestyle dining and the main dining rooms had a fine variety of main courses, appetizers, salads, and desserts. The peanut butter cheesecake was a favorite. We had excellent wait staff including Cherylynn, head waiter in the Moderno during breakfast and lunch and Melroy, waiter in the Four Seasons. We were impressed by Cruise Director, Jasper and his staff who seemed to work diligently night and day with smiles on their faces. Jasper would close every evening with "remember to worry less and smile more" which is good advice for life in general. The entertainment was very good too. We had a nice variety of singers, a comedian, magician and juggler. The casino did not seem that busy on this cruise and the smoke was not too bad. There are only a few areas which allow smoking, which we liked. The areas that we thought needed improvement were the embarkation and debarkation processes. In Seattle, they ran out of embarkation numbers and this caused a problem. There were many disgruntled guests who felt they had waited in line only to have new arrivals board the ship ahead of them. Also, Norwegian cruise excursions were given priority debarkation in ports and passengers with independent tour arrangements need to be careful when booking tours so that there is ample time to make travel connections when in port. The itinerary may indicate that the ship is in port from 9-5 but you may not actually get off the ship at that exact time if the ship needs to go through immigration like it did when entering San Francisco from Victoria. If you have early independent travel scheduled and time is of the essence, you may need to go to the areas where the NCL tours are disembarking early. We only found this out incidentally after asking several staff members. We had a wonderful trip aboard the Norwegian Sun and loved the size of the ship and the excellent crew and amentities. We sailed on the Epic at Thanksgiving, but we actually prefer the Sun! Thanks to all who made this cruise a favorite memory for our family! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Restaurant service was top notch. Room steward was excellent. Balcony was great. Good weather. Lots of sun! Lot of work being done on the ship caused some inconvenience... Expensive gratuities! Drink package chosen for 2 people comes ... Read More
Restaurant service was top notch. Room steward was excellent. Balcony was great. Good weather. Lots of sun! Lot of work being done on the ship caused some inconvenience... Expensive gratuities! Drink package chosen for 2 people comes with a charge of $450. gratuity. Soda not available by the can with drink package. Water not included. We drank the water from the ice bucket... bought bottled water on shore. It seems we paid for the cruise but daily living expense was not included. Latitudes member but did not get discount on land tours...Did have great entertainment. Comedian was good along with man on hypnosis.. The Sun band with DiDi was top of the line along with their dancers! We could not hear any announcements in our cabin nor could anyone on our floor...Sorry! N/A...notifications were to be shown on the TV but they wore not. Bad communications! What we really enjoyed is the dinning! Freestyle Dinning. Great for me as I have allergies to perfume and aftershave. Will go back. But be aware of the EXTRA cost associated with vacation.. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This cruise was excellent! Norwegian did a terrific job with the quality of the experience from the ship, food, staff, itinerary, and entertainment. We thoroughly enjoyed our 14-day panama canal cruise from LA to Miami, the ports ... Read More
This cruise was excellent! Norwegian did a terrific job with the quality of the experience from the ship, food, staff, itinerary, and entertainment. We thoroughly enjoyed our 14-day panama canal cruise from LA to Miami, the ports in-between, and the full daylight canal transit complete with informative educational talks and live narration. We had an absolutely great time and felt like Norwegian went out of their way to make their guests feel special and their top priority. This was the best production cast we have ever seen on a cruise. The quality of their dancing and singing was outstanding. The rest of the entertainment was very good as well. We were not disappointed as every aspect of this cruise went well. We went sailing in Cabo San Lucas, saw the cliff divers in Acapulco, explored Antigua on-your-own in Guatemala, Hacienda on Lake Riva in Nicaragua, Zip Line/ Aerial Tram/ Crocodile nature tour in Costa Rica, all-day Panama canal transit, and Cartegena tour in Colombia. Enjoyed six restaurants with free-style dining and got into a fun, relaxing routine of breakfast, tour, cocktails by the pool upon return from shore, dinner, great show, and good night sleep after enjoying the moonlight from the balcony. We felt like we were on our own yacht, doing what we liked to do, and we settled into cruise time for two weeks. No stress, just peace and enjoyment. It doesn't get any better than that! Tip: We researched and booked all of our excursions before we left home. That allowed us to relax and enjoy the entire cruise from beginning to end. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We selected this cruise because of itinerary because going through the Panama Canal really appealed to us! Even though the ship is smaller than the new mega cruisers, the fantastic service and enthusiasm makes this cruise a memorable ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of itinerary because going through the Panama Canal really appealed to us! Even though the ship is smaller than the new mega cruisers, the fantastic service and enthusiasm makes this cruise a memorable experience!!! The free style dining allows a lot of flexibility for diners. The casual atmosphere made it easy to pack! We used the Seven Seas dining room mostly but went to the buffet once or twice and the other dining room once or twice also. We really enjoyed the food and the service and we did not feel compelled to go to the specialty restaurants but we heard that they were really good! We sat at sharing tables sometimes and enjoyed that experience and sometimes dined alone. The entertainment was superb and includes a live band in the Stardust Lounge which so enhances the artists who perform there. The production dancers and singers are very professional and work so hard! We saw many great guest artists too! The cruise director and his staff were wonderful and put together some fun experiences! My favorite was the dancing competition game! The ports were exciting and we enjoyed each one. Sometimes we booked a shore excursion on board but others times we booked from an independent source. Sometimes we took a cab ride into the port. All the excursions worked out wonderfully! Overall, this cruise is great for a person who wants to relax during the day when at sea, explore exciting, beautiful ports, and dance at night after a delicious dinner and an entertaining show. NCL goes out of it's way to make all their staff feel appreciated which makes the staff happier to do their jobs whatever the job may be. That in turn makes the customer feel valued. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
I had always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal. And what a wonderful experience it was! The ship was beautiful. I appreciated the attention to cleanliness. The meals were first rate. We were three adults in two cabins. There was a ... Read More
I had always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal. And what a wonderful experience it was! The ship was beautiful. I appreciated the attention to cleanliness. The meals were first rate. We were three adults in two cabins. There was a snafu with the computers which left us waiting to board for a couple of hours. We purchased only two shore excursions: ”Acapulco City with Cliff Divers” and “Los Angeles Tour with Farmers Market.” The Acapulco Tour was wonderful. Our guides were Caesar and Eduardo(?). They loved their city and loved telling us about it. They encouraged us to return. They were loaded with information and history. When we arrived in LA and boarded the tour bus our guide Chris’ first statement was “I am here to tell you some lies about Los Angeles. If you knew the truth you wouldn’t be here.” This continued for several hours. Nearly every story was negative—government workers sleeping on the job, lynchings, red-lined neighborhoods, over-priced housing and lack of respect for history. Wow, I was exhausted by the time we got to the airport and glad to get off the bus. This tour company needs a more positive tour guide! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We took the 14 day Miami to Los Angeles cruise thru the Panama Canal and it was fabulous! The restaurants, staff, ship, everything! We were in the Owner’s Suite and it was lovely. And, I must say, our Concierge Carlos and Butler Carlos ... Read More
We took the 14 day Miami to Los Angeles cruise thru the Panama Canal and it was fabulous! The restaurants, staff, ship, everything! We were in the Owner’s Suite and it was lovely. And, I must say, our Concierge Carlos and Butler Carlos were the best we’ve had yet! On top of everything! We never asked twice for anything. In fact it was like they read our minds! I guess the one thing I would question about this cruise is the stop in Nicaragua. We got off the ship, found a starving dog, fed him, and returned to the ship because we felt a bit unsafe.we ate at the Tepanyaki, Brazilian BBQ, Steak House and Italian restaurants and all were delicious. Room service was also delicious and delivered very prompt. If given the chance, I would definately take this cruise again! I look forward to cruising with NCL again soon. Highly recommend Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Our cruise isn't even over, but we are having such a good time we are writing this now! We chose this cruise because I had two weeks off for vacation and it was only $699 for the whole trip. (Plus lots of additional fees and a pretty ... Read More
Our cruise isn't even over, but we are having such a good time we are writing this now! We chose this cruise because I had two weeks off for vacation and it was only $699 for the whole trip. (Plus lots of additional fees and a pretty large bar tab already. Our favorite part of the trip so far are the shows at night. I love how the production shows use live music and the ventriloquist was so funny and the magician, Ben Nemzer was the highlight of our trip! We also love the music in the Windjammer. Our cabin steward is so nice and greets us by name every night and our room, although an inside cabin had enough space. The ports were fine so far. Nicaragua wasn't so pretty and it rained in Costa Rica, but we loved the rum distillery tour. Overall the service was great, the food was awesome (I probably gained 10lbs) and we would definitely come back to the Sun. We are so sad it ends soon! We love Cagney's Steak House and we love the omelette bar in the mornings. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
I chose this cruise for the trip through the Canal plus having the experience of several ports that I was interested in seeing in Mexico, Costa Rica and Columbia. It was action packed with many activities onboard. Actually, too much to ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the trip through the Canal plus having the experience of several ports that I was interested in seeing in Mexico, Costa Rica and Columbia. It was action packed with many activities onboard. Actually, too much to do - with overlapping activities that I wished I could take part in but didn't get a chance. My steward was very attentive and helpful and I loved all those towel animals he made for me each night. Put a smile on my face. I enjoyed the captain's updates and it was very helpful that the ship also had the TV channel available to follow up on any weather conditions. I liked the idea of having a Q&A with the staff. Also, fun activities the pastry chef did to show off his skills. Best part - we got to eat his creations! The entertainment crew were great with their many, creative and fun activities. I didn't much care for most of the live entertainment or even the old movies that they showed on board, but to each their own. One pet peeve of mine is the 18% surcharge on all excursions taken on the day of the excursion. I paid for all my excursions months in advance and assumed everything was paid for - come to find out my room account showed an additional $13.99 per day gratuity and the surcharge for my port trips. I don't particularly like surprises and that one was very offensive to me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Always wanted to do a panama canal cruise. We were not disappointed. It was hot and humid, so that limited our excursions. They couldn't guarantee an air conditioned bus, so didn't go on any tours, just went out to shops ... Read More
Always wanted to do a panama canal cruise. We were not disappointed. It was hot and humid, so that limited our excursions. They couldn't guarantee an air conditioned bus, so didn't go on any tours, just went out to shops close to the ship. Our first time cruising with NCL and it won't be our last. Inside cabin was larger than expected, bed very comfortable. Our steward was outstanding. Make sure you bring along a nightlight or leave the tv on with the shipboard camera for an oceanview!! Dining options were a buffet and two dining rooms. Plus other extra charge restaurants, didn't use those, so can't comment on them. Food was good and lots of choices. Only went to one variety show, but it was good but loud. Lots of activities if you chose to participate. No complaints except I wish they had more electrical outlets available. The was one outlet at the desk with one side for 110 & the other 220. Luckily we brought an extension cord with us. One single outlet in the bathroom for shaver only. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose Norwegian Sun ship because of the itinerary. NCL is our cruise choice. We left out of Miami. We like to visit Miami. We went to South Beach for the day. We got a inside cabin in the 8th floor, aft. We arrived at the dock at 10:00 ... Read More
We chose Norwegian Sun ship because of the itinerary. NCL is our cruise choice. We left out of Miami. We like to visit Miami. We went to South Beach for the day. We got a inside cabin in the 8th floor, aft. We arrived at the dock at 10:00 am and were on the ship by noon. Of course we hit the buffet!! We walked the ship to become familiar with the floors and the facilities. The ship was very easy to navigate. We had dinner at Seven Seas restaurant. It was fabulous! Of course the food is great and the service is amazing. Then we went to the show. The entertainment was great! We found a guitar player in the Windjammer, Henry Hood who was a great entertainer. We enjoyed the music and his interaction with the guests. We enjoyed Colibri, the jazz band, and Inovation, the dance band. We stayed up late dancing. It was so much fun. We ran on the 6th floor for exercise. The average age was 75 years old and maybe 10 kids on the ship. We visited Cartegena, Columbia, which was a fascinating place. We shared a cab with several others to the clock tower at the squareVery clean and we felt very safe there. We visited Puntarenus, Costa Rica which may have been our favorite. We used Thumbs Up Tours and did the 10 in 1 tour. It was fantastic!! I highly recommend it. Then we went to Corinth, Nicaragua. This was a very poor port. I felt so sorry for these people and wondered why they stopped there only to believe these people needed money from guest to survive! They were very nice and not pushy. They were great people just poverty stricken. We hired a pedicab and he was fabulous. Next stop was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. We walked outside the port and got a group together for a cab tour to Antigua. That was so great. It was a beautiful city and a beautiful drive to get there. We saw the volcano which was active during the time we were there. Then to Acapulco, Mexico. It reminded me of Hollywood. Absolutely beautiful. Did gage cliff divers, great fun. Then to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico which was beautiful and fun. The cruise ended in San Diego, California and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Rented bicycles and rode the harbor. It was a great time and even tho it was 14 days on the ship, it went by so fast. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I was traveling with my 81 year old mom who has limited mobility. We wanted a cruise with interesting ports we haven't seen before. We both enjoyed the cruise immensely. It was a great blend of interesting places and relaxing sea ... Read More
I was traveling with my 81 year old mom who has limited mobility. We wanted a cruise with interesting ports we haven't seen before. We both enjoyed the cruise immensely. It was a great blend of interesting places and relaxing sea days. This was our fourth cruise, and it was the first time I did not have a list of complaints afterwards. Service was excellent everywhere. Food--We were very impressed with the food on this cruise. We dined at one of the two main dining rooms most every night, and had many excellent meals, and none that were bad. We had delicious ribeye steaks twice at Cagneys. We enjoyed Moderno the churrascuro restaurant but felt that one trip there was plenty. We would have liked it more if there were some dipping sauces for the meat. It got a little boring. We also enjoyed La Cucina. We have learned to avoid the buffets on cruises except for a light snack. The few lunches we had from the buffet were just OK. Embarkation--long lines but smooth. They did not have a good set up for handicapped passengers and it was hard for my mom to stand in a long line. Enrichment activities--really informative documentary on the Panama canal the day before we sailed through it. The day of passage a representative from the canal comes on board and narrates the passage. This was really enjoyable. I would love to have more in-depth information about the various countries we visited. Entertainment--I have little interest in cruise entertainment, but I was very happy to hear the string quartet playing on this trip. We enjoyed them in the dining rooms several nights and in the lounge. I took plenty of books to read but ended up reading 3 I found in the well-stocked library. Fitness--I enjoyed the aerobic dance classes but sometimes they were in the direct sun on the deck and it was wayy too hot. Wish they offered more of those throughout the day. Good walking track that stayed pretty shaded most of the time. Onboard experiences--lots of nice, quiet places for reading, which I appreciated. Most of the outdoor seating was in the sun. It would have been nice to have more shaded areas besides under the lifeboats. We enjoyed the trivia and name that tune games, except the host of name that tunes played way too much of the song and took away the challenge. It would have been nice to have some karaoke earlier than 10:00. Lots of late activities that we missed being early birds. Shore Excersions--these were all chosen to be easy with little physical activity for my mom. There were many fun things like snorkeling and zip lines that we did not do. Cabos San Lucas--did the ship easy excursion. There is not much to see in Cabos. This was a decent overview. We enjoyed the demo at the glass factory. Excellent fish tacos at Molly's in Cabos San Jose. Acapulco--very enjoyable tour with Baldo Gomez at Tours by Rudy. We released baby sea turtles at the refuge, saw lots of different areas of town, the Peace chapel, Los Flamingoes hotel. Fun day. Puerto Quetzal--did the easy shore excursion to Antigua. My mom wasn't feeling well so I went on my own. The shore excursion spent a lot of time in a jade factory/store which didn't interest me, so I went walking through Antigua on my own. A beautiful city not to be missed. Corinto--had a nice tour with Denis of Julio Guides to Leon. Leon was poor and bleak after Antigua. We got an overview of the place, saw the market, murals of the political history which went on too long standing in the heat. We went to a nice cool place for lunch. It was interesting to see but lots of poverty. Costa Rica--excellent tour guide Javier Vargas with Thumbs Up tours. One of the highlights of the trip. Went to macaw sanctuary, crocodile river cruise, and a general tour of the area. Lots of interesting plants and animals explained by our fabulous guide. We learned a lot and had a great time. Not to miss especially with Thumbs Up tours. Cartagena-- Beautiful old town. I would focus solely on that next time. We took an OK tour with Dora. We got an overview of the area and a walking tour of old town, but she rushed us through that to spend 45 mins. In an emerald store. Did not like that part, but Cartagena was one of my favorite spots on the trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I went to San Diego on Thursday, one day before departure. Wyndham San Diego Bayside provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, which is directly across the street from the departure port. The hotel was very nice, the area ... Read More
I went to San Diego on Thursday, one day before departure. Wyndham San Diego Bayside provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, which is directly across the street from the departure port. The hotel was very nice, the area seemed completely safe, and walking around the port area was interesting. Had I understood how beautiful San Diego is, I would have gone a day or two earlier. I'm pretty sure this was my 38th cruise overall, with probably half of those on NCL. I walked over to the ship at about 11 a.m. on departure day and was onboard around 11:30. Lunch was available in the main dining room at 12:00. My bag was delivered before 2 p.m. The ship: was absolutely beautiful. She has been carefully maintained. All the public areas were in tip-top shape. It is very easy to get around on the ship, and the elevators were never crowded. There's a good walking deck, and the gym was fine. Dining: I never had to wait for a table. The food and presentation were excellent and the hostesses and waiters were all fantastic. The passion fruit souffle was my favorite dessert. Scallops for lunch were wonderful. La Cucina is my favorite alternate dining spot, and it did not disappoint. Le Bistro was also a good choice, as was Teppanyaki. I was invited to share the Officer's Table one evening, and this was the only meal where I didn't get exactly what I ordered. I ordered steak, the gentleman next to me ordered steak and lobster tail. When they delivered his entree to me, I just dug right in without realizing what had happened. A little embarrassing, to say the least. Crew: Wow! This is a warm, friendly, energetic and seemingly very happy crew. They were unfailingly polite and helpful. I did notice quite a few people from China. It seems they are "in training" to go on the Joy when she launches. I was especially fond of "Ping, like in ping-pong" in the Atrium Cafe. I taught her to play 'rock, paper, scissors' and we had fun. Entertainment: I think NCL has the best entertainment at sea. The production shows were excellent, and the individual groups and performers were always entertaining. Additionally, the entertainment in the smaller venues was fabulous: Henry Hood on guitar and vocals, Amber Strings for classical afternoons, Inovation for dancing. As an aside, I went to the Atrium one evening around 9 p.m. and the guitarist for Inovation was standing there with his guitar on is back waiting for coffee. He had a big grin on his face, and I asked him why. Turns out the lady who was walking away had just asked him if that thing on his back was a surfboard! One of my favorite things is the crew talent show and this one was a real winner. Cruise Director's Staff: Very good at their jobs. Our trivia competitions were always fun. The only problem was that sometimes there were not enough seats. Cabin: Inside on Deck 5, and I didn't know what to expect. It was one of my favorite cabins ever. It was quite large for an inside, and even had a small sofa. It was only a few steps out to the Atrium for coffee or cocktails. The elevators were handy, and it was never noisy. Gerardo was a very good cabin steward. Ports: All pale in comparison to the transit of the Panama Canal. We stopped in Cabo, Acapulco, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Cartagena, Columbia. I truly loved Costa Rica and Cartagena. The Costa Rican people were very warm and friendly and the country is beautiful. Cartagena's old city is a great walk and the port area had a bird sanctuary. I was invited by new friends to enjoy the transit from a "romance Suite" on deck 8, all the way forward. We sat out there from about 7 am to 4 pm just watching in awe. I had expected the canal to be fascinating, and everybody I spoke to about it assured me that it would be. What was unexpected was the sheer beauty of the lakes and the lush greenery. Or maybe it was the Prosecco. Anyway, it was a bucket list item that exceeded expectations. Overall: Great cruise. Met some wonderful folks from all over the place. Canadians Ray and Barbara, Jane and Gord, and Jim, fellow Texans Babs and Bill, good people from Illinois Craig and Julie. And of course the group from Austin, "I'm with Cindy". Not to mention Steve and Sandy from North Dakota and Arizona, Pat from Toronto and Noel and Helen from the Philippines. The list is too long. Great entertainment, excellent food, tremendous itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Norwegian Sun Cruise 9/30 to 10/14/16 Panama Canal Easiest transfer from San Diego airport to cruise port. My flight arrived on time, I had purchased transfers through NCL. Retrieved luggage and immediately an NCL representative ... Read More
Norwegian Sun Cruise 9/30 to 10/14/16 Panama Canal Easiest transfer from San Diego airport to cruise port. My flight arrived on time, I had purchased transfers through NCL. Retrieved luggage and immediately an NCL representative asked if I was cruising with them, yes I am, and I am on a bus to the port. At the port our luggage was left on the bus to be driven to a location to be placed on the ship, didn’t have to touch it. I asked NCL for wheelchair assistance, I can’t walk up the gangway, unfortunately I was told an hour to 90 minute wait for a chair. I walked up to check-in, told them I had been preapproved for a chair and they immediately got one for me. I was checked in within 5 minutes. As I was leaving to board the ship, Carlos Zarate, Concierge, met me and said that he was at my service for the entire cruise and he would speak to me onboard. I was brought to the Atrium and sat with some wonderful Canadians while NCL finished getting the cabin ready. At 1:30 p.m. my cabin was ready and I went to check it out and unpack my carryon luggage. Within 30 minutes my other luggage arrived, I unpacked it. During that time a cheese and cracker plate was delivered to my cabin, which was wonderful, I didn’t have to go looking for food. I left my cabin to talk to Guest Services because my card didn’t have the Unlimited Soda Package on it. Guest Services said they did not see where I paid for it online, even though I had a copy of all paperwork with me and showed it to them. To make sure I asked if it showed I had paid for 4 specialty meals and five shore excursions. The shore excursions were paid for but again couldn’t find where I paid online for the specialty dining, again, I had copies of all the paperwork. Guest Services said they would make copies of my paperwork, scan it and send it to Miami corporate office to make sure I had paid for these items. I was told I could still get soda, juice and water but would be charged for them until this was settled. I explained that NCL charges a surcharge on all purchases and I was afraid it would be a nightmare to get all of this off of my bill. I was told there was no other way to do this. Guest Services said it would probably be the next day before they heard for corporate. I went to the life boat drill, easiest one I have ever done, it was in Dazzles Lounge, in and out in 10 minutes. Went back to my room and there was a message from Guest Services to please come to the desk. Waited about 10 minutes in line but they had an answer, they found I had paid for everything and gave me a new card with my dining and beverage stamp. I ate at Four Seasons and Seven Seas Main Dining Rooms (MDR). Seven Seas is a more dressed up MDR. If men show up in shorts they are turned away and told to come back when they change, but women can wear shorts, didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Both were good some nights, not so good other nights. Chicken Parmigiana was heavenly, Prime Rib excellent, Cheeseburger and Fries, great. Most food arrived hot and tasty, but a few things arrived cold. I ordered a hot chocolate that was cold when it arrived and had been made with mostly water and no chocolate. I ate 3 of my specialty meals at Cagney’s. I love Cagney’s on any NCL ship. Their steaks melt in your mouth, the White Truffle Parmigiana Cheese Fries were to die for and so was the Caesar Salad. My other specialty was in La Cucina, it was wonderful, I had breakfast there every morning, because of the Concierge and it was wonderful. Entertainment was mediocre. The Sun dancers and singers were good, so those shows were alright. One night they had a man who called himself El Gaucho, a comedian and singer, terrible, Motown Review and Frank Valle Review were fantastic. Hypnotist JayDee was absolutely horrible, passengers were getting up and leaving all throughout his show. I didn’t like that he announced he was a motivational speaker and had three seminars set up onboard to help passengers stop smoking, lose weight or feel better about themselves. I don’t care, either you do your show or do motivational speaking, not both. There was the usual bingo, karaoke, White Hot Party, Sexy Legs Contest, etc. I didn’t attend most of these. I know most people don't go on a cruise to read, but the Sun had the best book stocked library I have seen on a cruise ship. I actually read 8 novels while onboard. Bars/Showrooms, the StarDust Theater was so cold that after two days I caught a cold from sitting there for an hour to watch a show. Dazzles was freezing too. Most other bars were fantastic, speedy service, good drinks and snacks. The Sun had a Crew Talent Contest on the last sea day that was hilarious. In the Atrium on the last night, all of the officers and department heads had a singalong. Only the Sun does this, it took about an hour and after that there was a balloon drop and champagne, it was the most fun I had onboard the ship. The Sun also has a Meet the Ship's Officers, two different days, so you can learn about the ship and ask any and all questions, it was informative and interesting. The Sun also had a Sun Fair, each department, housekeeping, dining, environmental, CruiseNext, Guest Services, Spa, etc. was represented and it was very interesting. Shore Excursions were handled differently than any ship I have been on. If you had a ship excursion, you were given your ticket and told to meet in the StarDust at a certain. When you excursion was called you were brought down either stairs or elevator to the disembarkation point and went ahead of other passengers waiting in line that didn’t have ship excursions. It was the best managed port disembarkation I have ever done. Compliments to whomever came up with this idea. Miami disembarkation was a mess. I had Priority luggage tags, but was told since I had purchased a transfer from NCL I needed to use my Red luggage tags. When I was taken off the ship, Priority luggage was right there, Red luggage was being held up for another hour. I couldn’t use the transfers I purchased because I would have missed my flight so I had to take a taxi to the airport at an additional $32. I am asking NCL for a refund of that money, since I was advised incorrectly. In summary, this was an amazing cruise. The crew helped make it that way, 99% of them were personable and very helpful. My cabin was wonderful, the venues were very easy to walk to and to find when first boarding. Small problems that were cleared up immediately without a problem. Out of 5 stars I would give this cruise a 4 1/2 stars. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Last year we both retired and we had a 1st cruise to the Alaska on board Celebrity Century. It was so relaxing trip and we enjoyed our moving hotel and services. This time we chose 19days Panama Canal Cruise by Norwegian Cruise Line. We ... Read More
Last year we both retired and we had a 1st cruise to the Alaska on board Celebrity Century. It was so relaxing trip and we enjoyed our moving hotel and services. This time we chose 19days Panama Canal Cruise by Norwegian Cruise Line. We had a wonderful time on board the Sun. A long 19days cruise, but every fellow passenger on board ship became a like best friend to us to the end. Kids were busy studying at school that very few kids on board the ship, we heard just over 10 kids including babies on boarded. We flew to Tampa by Delta airline 2nights before the cruise, and stayed Quality Inn Airport Tampa. This Inn was a typical Urban Motel, conveniently located and clean. They offered shuttle bus to the cruise terminal for $12 p.p. but we had 3 large luggage and 2 carry-on, therefore we chose to call a Yellow cab ourselves to reach Tampa cruise terminal. Less than 15mins ride and the taxi fare were $18 + tip. If your party was more than 2 persons, it might be cheaper and convenient to use a taxi. The embarking was a little bit nightmares, around 10:15am when we arrived at Cruise Terminal by taxi; In front of the terminal, there were huge pails of disembarking passengers and their luggage from previous cruise. So many disembarking passengers were trying to find their bus and/or taxi that drugging our luggage to drop off station was almost impossible. Long lines up to checked-in but soon we on-boarded ship and found ourselves eating lunch at Garden Café. Our cabin: our Balcony cabin #0218 on deck 10 starboard side was a great location, just 1 flight to the pool deck and Garden café. Our room was just below the spa facility on deck 11 that there was no nuisance noise at all. It was a very well organized balcony cabin; there were amount of storage spaces, big comfortable bed, and nice balcony with 2 chairs and a small table. However, we found very tiny shower stall in the cabin, even I could not bend myself to wash my feet. It was a practical shower booth but too tiny to do anything but just standing and get shower. We could store our luggage under the bed. Unfortunately, our house keeper “Yashiman” was not so eager to work or clean our cabin. Every day she checked our cabin but just set the bed sheets and replaced Ice box ice. Some day shortage of towels, another day no bath floor-mat, we had to chase her around and asked them but soon we gave up to ask her anymore. We believed she never vacuumed our cabin even once in 15days. Her work contract expired and she disembarked at Los Angeles. When a new house keeper “Sergio” who on boarded at L.A. started to taking care of our cabin, our cabin became crispy clean. Especially Balcony door glasses were crystal clear. Foods for 19days long Panama cruise; honestly we tired out to see everyday same routine foods at Garden café, at breakfast and lunch, but don’t get us wrong we didn't go hungry. We liked Freestyle dining. The Seven Seas and Four Season main dining room served almost the same menu and foods except daily chef special but they had slightly different atmospheres. We loved the Four Season because much friendlier hostesses and well-mannered wait staffs. We were not sure cover charging specialty restaurants were worth the money or not. Inclusive main dining was good enough for us. We met very unpleasant, rude waiter named “AJOY” at the Four Seasons restaurant. He was an Asian descend himself but by some reason he didn't like to serve Asian peoples at the restaurant. He clearly showed his attitude and treated Asian peoples differently. The NCL cruise passengers are their guest, nothing else but their guest. However, somehow he misunderstood this concept and acted with his own agenda. We enjoyed our Panama cruise very much but undoubtedly he spoiled some moments of our cruise. Entertainment: Stardust Theater had good shows every day, much, much better than typical Caribbean resort hotels’ shows. However, 50 minutes nonstop late 60 Beach-boy style guitar music/songs were too much for us. Dressing with White Clothes, the White Hot Party was fun to attend. The funniest and most entertaining show was the Crew’s talent show and the Crew Director and his Staffs’ show in cruise day 18th. Thank you and Well done! In sunny Sea days, pool deck was jam packed with sunbathing peoples, so that you should wake up early to ensure getting a sun lounger with some shade. Disembarking: A night before, we picked our disembarking time and got color coded luggage tags from the guest service and tagged luggage placed outside of the door before 12am. Next time we saw our luggage was at the cruise terminal waiting for us to pick up. It was as smooth as we could imagine, we waited at the Dazzles lounge to call our color tag to disembark, no line up at all. This cruise was a 3 weeks trip for us including 2nights Tampa but it was a great journey. We lacked out very good weather, in 19days cruise we believed we received just 15 minutes of rain that all. Highlight of this cruise was the Crossing Panama Canal. It was a marvelous dock system and very well organized. Nobody wanted in the bed at the 6am in the morning when our ship started crossing the Panama Canal. If we have a chance in the near future we definitely want to have this cruise again. Ports and Excursions: First of all we don’t like Group Tour Excursion at all, because we have to follow tour’s timetable, we hate it! Tampa: Don’t miss out Tampa River Walk; we started to walk from Water Park to Cruise Terminal. The beautifully constructed walkway and serenely was just breathe taking especially at evening. In front of the cruise terminal, we took a street car and visited historical Ybor city, regrettably just an old town nothing special about…. Cartagena, Columbia: Two of us hired a taxi to explore Cartagena. We visited Popa Monastery($5pp), San Felipe Fortress($10pp), and walked around Old Town with taxi driver, enjoyed a drink in the Wall city . It took 4½ hours to see them all with our own timetable, and total cost was still less than the Ship’s excursion price. Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Hot and very humid. Our ship docked right in Puntarenas. End of the dock, there were typical souvenir shops and eateries. We didn't know Costa Rica is such a peaceful country at all, we could describe a country Costa Rica as a Mexico without drugs. This time we took ship’s excursion “Pacific Train, Boat, and Bus Adventure”. Crocodile River Boat tour was an interesting to see and we saw many colorful birds too, but Train ride was a boring one, nothing to see just dirty old country scenery that it’s. Next time, we will definitely explore “Puntarenas” ourselves. Huatulco, Mexico: End of the dock, there were line up of the souvenir shops, and restaurants with free wifi. We stopped by one of the beach restaurant and see our ship from the beach. Not much interesting town for us, so we went back to our ship and enjoyed a salt water pool and Jacuzzi without crowds. Acapulco, Mexico: According to the news media, Acapulco became a dangerous town because of the drugs trafficking gang activities but from the sea it was such a beautiful harbour and town. We ventured out ourselves again into the town with very cautious minds. We walked Acapulco beautiful beach awhile from the cruise terminal to the Huge Mexican Flag at the beach and got a beach restaurant to have a beer. From there we picked up a taxi to “La Quebrada” to watch Cliff Dive($7pp) show. Great performances but looked very scarily indeed. Next we got a taxi again to see Fort of San Diego($5pp) just below the cruise terminal. We saw the great view of the Acapulco harbour from there. Funny thing about taxi in the town, before get into the taxi, asked “how much?” their answer was always “$5 US….. it didn't matter how far to drive. Again, this venture we spent a half the ship’s excursion price. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: Tender boat to the shore. We saw the “El Arco” when ship entered the Cabo San Lucas Bay. It was looks very interesting from the distance, we hired a small boat at harbour to see Land’s End. We took a ton of photos with El Arco in back ground. It was better to see El Arco from small boat than big tour boat. Again 1hr Land’s End Boat Tour by ship’s excursion was $29pp but it cost just $25+tip for two of us. Los Angeles: Our ship docked in San Pedro, LA, about 20 minutes from Long Beach. We wanted to see Ship “Queen Mary” in Long Beach. We found a commuter bus to the downtown, and then there was a free Red color bus called “Passport” to get the Queen Mary. 30 some years ago, we saw a ship Queen Mary, at that time it was a beautiful ship. Sadly, present time, Queen Mary itself was very bad shape. San Francisco: Our ship docked Pier#35, easy walking distance to Peir39, and Fisherman’s Wharf. In the afternoon we took a bus to Chinatown. The Largest Chinatown in US, but looks like not much difference than our home town’s Chinatown, always feel likes same ambiance. Next, we went to see Japan-Town, it was more organized town than Chinatown and felt much safer. We found interesting things to see, authentic Japanese foods and shops. Victoria, B.C.: It was a beautiful and clean city to explore. We followed the signs and walked along the shore to reach Victoria downtown. Walking to downtown was very easy. It took about 20 minutes to get the heart of Victoria – Empress Hotel, BC Parliament Buildings, etc. The weather was great and Canadian people are gentle and polite. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
_Background: My husband and I took seven day cruise from Tampa to the Western Caribbean. We have experience with sailing with Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America. Arrival Tampa:we were met in Airport and transferred by bus ... Read More
_Background: My husband and I took seven day cruise from Tampa to the Western Caribbean. We have experience with sailing with Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America. Arrival Tampa:we were met in Airport and transferred by bus to the port. Everything was good. _Cabin review: We were staying on Deck 10 cabin 10213. Cabin was very nice, but a little bit small. There were many storage shelves. Toilet was nice and clean. Shower was good, water pressure was great. I liked the cabin. _ Activities: Pool was very nice and big enough for adult people. We have to use spa on ships, but not at this time. I was very surprised that ship does not have pool inside the spa, which I love . Jim was also big and helpful. My husband won prize for table tennis participation. _ Excursions: _Roatan: We took excursion on private island. Beach was beautiful, not too many people, water was warm and clean. We went around the island, funny parrots and other animals. Food was not too exited, I got allergy spots after eating there. Finally it was OK. _Belize City: We picked the Main Ruins. Tour was OK, but guide lady was very laud. Roads in Belize are too dusty. That bus was not too conditioned. The issue is that Belize is a tendering port , and it was too crowded on the boat. Price was good. _Costa Maya: We also took Main Ruins. This tour I liked better. Guide was very professional . It was very interesting excursion. Thanks _Cozumel: In my opinion, we took the best excursion with attendance chocolate place and Tequila testing. Tour was pleasant. I found it was very cognitive. _Dining was very good. Brazilian place was incredible. Main dining room was easy to get, there was no lines, love it. Food was very tasty. Bars were nice with serving good drinks. _ Entertainments: We liked funny shows. Casino was for pleasure too. Captains meeting was incredible. _Service was good, but sometimes desk clerks did not know about some events on the ship. _ Disembarkation was a little too boring, we were staying for a half an hour in a line and waiting for permission for disembark. _ And what we liked the most that it was very quiet on this ship, not too crowded. And we were recommended this ship to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Wow
This was our eighth cruise on NCL and it proved again why we continue to sail with NCL. Everything was perfect. The food was excellent, the service was superb in all respects, and the entire staff could not have been more accommodating. ... Read More
This was our eighth cruise on NCL and it proved again why we continue to sail with NCL. Everything was perfect. The food was excellent, the service was superb in all respects, and the entire staff could not have been more accommodating. We traveled with another couple and the wife has severe food allergies and the restaurant staff was easy to work with regarding this. From the outstanding entertainment to the terrific onboard games, we had a ball. The Guest Services Manager was especially helpful and the Cruise Director was a "ball". Kudos to NCL for a terrific ship, crew, and cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
NCL Sun: Oct 11 – 26, 2014; 15 day Repo Los Angeles to Tampa via the Panama Canal PRE CRUISE Our cruise planning has evolved over the years to fit our transition from working class to post retirement leisure class. We now plan our ... Read More
NCL Sun: Oct 11 – 26, 2014; 15 day Repo Los Angeles to Tampa via the Panama Canal PRE CRUISE Our cruise planning has evolved over the years to fit our transition from working class to post retirement leisure class. We now plan our sailing schedule 12-18 months in advance. We sail every Fall and Spring on 2–4 weeks cruises. We have booked only suites since 2006, when we decided to become serious cruisers. Our last balcony booking was in 2006 on our first NCL cruise, which was a 7 day cruise to Alaska from Seattle on the Sun. It was a very special balcony (1202), as we would learn much later. It was the size of a Mini-Suite but had to be marketed as a balcony because it only had a stand up shower without a tub. It had originally been designed to be the 3rd bedroom of the Owner’s Suite with a connecting door into the suite’s entry foyer. It was that cruise that launched us on a program of allocating all of our fun and frolic finances to the cruise industry. When a fellow Cruise Critic friend, Mandy (www3Traveler), suggested we book the NCL Sun 15 day sailing from LA to Tampa via the Panama Canal we were awash in nostalgic memories of our first NCL cruise, eight years earlier, on the Sun. Motivated by nostalgia, we booked the very same special balcony for our 20th NCL sailing. Another rule in our leisure class sailing game plan is use Amtrak to reach or return from American embarkation and disembarkation ports, saving the precious frequent flier miles to reach or return from overseas ports. So, we booked Amtrak for our travel to Los Angeles and return from Tampa. On October 5 we boarded Amtrak’s Southwest Chief in Chicago at 3pm for a 40 hour rail ride. We booked an accessible bedroom, which included all meals, from Chicago to Fullerton, CA which is half way between Anaheim (Mickey) and Long Beach (LA’s cruise port). We thoroughly enjoyed the desert scenery on the second day and the early mountains in the early morning of the 3rd. The Route follows the “Mother Road” of the National US highway systems: US Route 66: Chicago IL, Kansas City MO, Topeka KS, Dodge City KS, Albuquerque NM, Flagstaff AZ, Kingman AZ, Needles CA, Barstow CA, Fullerton CA, Los Angeles CA. Fellow Cruise Critics, who had booked the cruise with us, Pete & Gretchen (pdoeringer), picked us up at the train and gave us a whirlwind tour of southern California, including a lovely lunch before taking us to the Embassy Suites South hotel in Anaheim for 3 pm check in. Promising to return to pick us up in 4 days from transport to the ship, they left us to the companionship of Mickey and Minnie and other former cruise mates who lived nearby. We spent the next two days rekindling childhood memories, only possible at Walt Disney’s legacies to the world. The Embassy Suites hotel provides a complimentary cooked to order breakfast in the morning and cocktails with munchies in the evening. They also provide round trip non-stop shuttle service between their front door to Disneyland for less than $10 per person. The shuttles depart both the hotel and theme park every 20 minutes. On the following day, other Cruise Critic friends, Hank & Florence (MrsHappy), from southern California checked into our hotel and took us for a day of sightseeing, including a great seafood lunch at the iconic “Crab Cooker: in Newport Beach. After a lovely day we returned to the hotel to freshen up. I had booked a special room at the Embassy Suites with a dining table seating 6. I went next door for a superb carry out Italian dinner from Buca di Beppo. The four of us broke bread together in our “home away from home” enjoying the food and good company in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. CRUISE DAY 1, Saturday, Oct. 11 The next morning, after bidding adieu to Hank & Florence over breakfast, Pete & Gretchen arrived to transport us to the NCL at the Long Beach, CA, for noon boarding. Pete had done me a big favor of buying a case of my favorite (reasonably priced @ $8) Spanish champagne (Segura Reserva cava). A year or so ago, NCL offered Segura on their wine list but no longer offers such an enjoyable and reasonably priced sparkling wine. So, after paying $15 corkage, my cost is $23 a bottle, far less than the $40 offered by NCL for a similar bubbly. I still buy the “wine package” on board, but the only bubbly in the package is a sparkling Rose’. I wish NCL would save me toting a case of champagne on board by restoring a nice and reasonably priced bubbly to the “Wine Package”. After a quick security check for Pete, Gretchen and “herself”, one of the security officials decided to give me the full Guantanamo treatment with full body pat down. Then he got into a fight with another officer who wanted to make sure I paid the corkage for my 12 bottles of bubbly. I was like a kid caught in a custody battle between two war waging parents during a horrendous divorce. All three of my companions had been passed through to the check in desk while I was trying to get the two officers to end their tug of war with me as the prize. When Sharon Rae realized I was not behind her, she returned to the security station. She gave me “the look” and asked me “What have your done this time?” Now, I had three people who wanted a piece of me. By the time I was released by both security officers and had paid the corkage on my case of champagne, Pete & Gretchen were already on board having lunch. Sharon Rae completed our check in at the accessible desk and finally boarded at 2pm. Since it was ready, we went directly to our cabin. Our forward facing balcony was directly above the Captain’s bridge and offered a view of LA’s working port for cruise and cargo ships alike. Sharon Rae began to unpack, starting by hanging an over-the-door shoe caddy on the inside of the bathroom door as place for the odds and ends. I iced the Bon Voyage bottle of bubbly for Platinum guests which had been delivered to the cabin. Then, with a small cabin tray I went aft to the buffet which was located on the same deck. I returned with bowls of cold deli salads (tuna, chicken, and egg) and croissants for making sandwiches. The sandwiches and champagne were perfect on our balcony in the warm southern California sun. After lunch, we reviewed the packets and envelopes which had been delivered to the cabin introducing the Captain, Hotel Director, Concierge, and Steward. Sharon Rae began to organize a calendar of NCL & Cruise Critic events and activities for the entire cruise, including the Specialty Dining Package while I filled out the On Board Wine Package order form. Being Platinum level Latitudes members with NCL, we each received a comp dinner for two with a bottle of wine for use at LeBistro, La Cucina, or Cagney’s. Combining the Latitudes wine and the welcome bottle of bubbly with the 12 bottles of bubbly we brought on board, we had 15 bottles of wine at the ready. So, I purchased a 12 bottle wine package. That should get us through the 15 day sailing. The safety drill was called for 3:30 pm. Immediately following the drill, we headed for the Champs Bar outdoor bar overlooking the Pool Deck for the Cruise Critic Sail Away Party. I finally met Marilyn (Mellygo) who had organized the Sail Away Party and Cabin Crawl. 65 Roll Call members signed up for the Sail Away. We got a chance to meet most of the 30 or so who showed up. Following the Sail Away, Pete & Gretchen accompanied us back to our cabin to offer their assistance in tasting the Segura Cava we had brought on board along with mini sandwiches delivered by room service. It had been a long and hectic day, so we skipped the theater and turned to bed early. CRUISE DAY 2, Sunday, Oct 12 We ordered room service breakfast with the in cabin door hanger menu the night before. Even when we intend to go to a restaurant for our complete breakfast, we will order room service juice, coffee, and croissant every morning. It acts as a great wake up service and helps clear the cobwebs before going out and about. But, today we ordered a full room service breakfast of fruit, cereal and breakfast egg sandwich (NCL’s version of Egg McMuffin). The room service kick started us into action. Sharon Rae and I gathered the Roll Call paraphernalia I had brought (lanyard badge holders, preprinted name tags, marking pens, etc.) We arrived at the Observation Lounge at 930 am to set up for the Meet & Greet. We met Pete & Gretchen who organized the Grab Bag Gift exchange. We had scheduled from 10 am till noon. The first hour was devoted to Cruise Critic mingling and the second hour to meeting the ships senior staff. 106 members had signed up for the event and about 70 showed up. (am I beginning to see a pattern here?). The attendees were a lively lot and enjoyed mingling with one another and the Gift Exchange. The second hour was an absolute delight. We were visited by HD Brian Walters (soft spoken with great warmth and sincerity), Exec. Chef Denton Laing (culinary artist combined with a love of people), CD Richard Matic (excellent at organizer and entertainer), Guest Service Mgr. Rodel Gemeniano (hands on problem solver), Exec. Housekeeper Hal Broomes (proactive action to assure guest satisfaction), Group Service Coord. Ligaya Dagasdas (who made the Cruise Critic events planning a breeze), along with remaining superb senior staff: Dan Dyer (Food & Beverage Dir.), Gary Bryan (Restaurant Mgr.), Windchester and Barrack (Beverage Mgr.). Following the Meet & Greet, we headed to the buffet for lunch along with ship exploration. We returned to our cabin for the usual seniors’ afternoon nap before getting ready for the “Dress Up or Not” evening. While I did not bring my tux, I did bring a white sport coat matched with a black shirt and slacks with a black and white tie. Sharon Rae wore a simple black dress topped with a brightly colored jacket in a Peter Max style. We returned to the Observation Lounge for Captain Ronny Borg’s VIP reception, scheduled for 7–7:45 pm. Arriving early, we had a chance to chat with the Captain and have our photo taken with him. A half dozen glasses of champagne later, we headed Le Bistro with Pete & Gretchen for our 8 pm dinner reservations. Dinner at LeBistro was a little bitter sweet. The appetizers (salmon mouse pate to die for), soups (French onion au gratin excellent) and salads (delightful) were a great start. Two of us ordered the steak specialty and were pleased with our choice. The two ordered rack of lamb which proved very difficult to chew. They were quickly replaced with two more steaks. Before leaving the restaurant, Chef Denton personally visited us and apologized for the lamb and informed us that he learned the lamb brought on board in LA was tough and it would be replaced at the next port of call. We completed dinner too late for the 9 pm show in the theater. So, we ended the evening with a night cap of brandy and port at the Windjammer Bar with easy listening of James Morris at the piano. CRUISE DAY 3, Monday, Oct 13 Another at Sea Day which started by sleeping in and having room service provide a juice, coffee and croissant breakfast. Our first stirrings out of the cabin was for the Latitudes Party in the Theater at 12:30 pm. The wine flowed freely and the response to requests for a two servings resulted in the waiter topping off one glass of wine with the contents of a second glass from the tray. (That way they didn’t violate the prohibition against one person having more than one drink in his possession) Captain Borg’s welcome was both warm and humorous. If he ever gives up his Master’s license, he would be a great standup comedian. Now that we’ve had our eye opener wine, how about lunch in the buffet? Since the Sun’s buffet and theater are both situated aft, it made perfect sense. It also, helped save time, since the Cruise Critic Slot Pull was scheduled for 2 pm in the Casino. Charlie (Surprise17884) had done a great job planning the Slot Pull. He did an even better job putting the plan into action. 39 people had signed up for the event and about 25 showed up. (The evolving pattern continues). We each put in $15 and had 5 pulls on a $3 machine. Well we didn’t win but we didn’t lose big. We each lost less than $5 and that’s not bad for an hour in the Casino meeting and making new friends. We returned to the cabin to relax and rest up for our evening plans. The Aft Main Dining Room is the Seven Seas. Maitre D’ Hernan Gonzales Rios and his able Assistant Roberto Roman had reserved a table for us and Pete & Gretchen. We informed our wait staff that we wanted to make the 9 pm show in the theater and they said “No problem”. The service was impeccable and the meal delectable. I turned in two of my wine package coupons and reserved enough of the second bottle to take two glasses of wine to the theater. Having an Aft theater on the Sun (rather than forward like most ships) makes it much easier to move from the Aft Main Dining Room to the show. The performance with “Divas3” was wonderful. Three beautiful women with beautiful voices to match belted out songs and memories spanning the 60s to the 90’s. The 45 minute show flew by. It was a perfect ending to a lovely day. CRUISE DAY 4, Tuesday, Oct. 14 Today is our first port of call: Puerto Vallarta, MX. We ordered room service of juice, toast and coffee at 7am timed for our 8 am arrival in port. Light meals were the order of the day because we were booked for the “Chef’s Table” for dinner. Friends of ours at home own 6 weeks of time shares in Vallarta and spend January there each year. They recommended the driver they have relied on for several years. Our needs were special since Pete and Sharon Rae both use electric scooters. So, we required a vehicle which could take four persons and two scooters. Our friends from home contacted Alberto Cruz and made arrangements for a 3.5-4 hour tour for $200 in a 12 passenger window van equipped with microphone and speaker system. The customary price for driver/guides is $50-70 per hour, placing our fare at the low end of the going rates. Alberto was waiting for us as we exited the port building with our name placard in hand. There are three sections of Puerto Vallarta: Old Town, New City and the Upper Heights We spent an hour touring the old city, including the Alarcon which is a mile long paved road along the ocean lined by shops, taverns and restaurants. It is now a pedestrian road with no vehicle traffic permitted. If you choose to explore the Alarcon, have your driver drop you at one end and pick you up at the other end. Departing the Old Town, we drove through the New City and toured residential (both local and tourist) and commercial areas. Our final hour was atop the steep mountain cliffs which ring the city and harbor. This is the area of many posh medium and high rise condominiums, resorts, and hotels carved into the cliffs. Back in the day, Puerto Vallarta was on Hollywood’s “A List” for movie locations and holiday get-a-ways. We visited a great restaurant hang out for the stars and starlets of yore, “El Set” (as in movie set). The restaurant serves great food, cold beer and frosted margaritas on a semi enclosed patio with a stunning view of the ocean. We decided to lunch aboard the ship and limited ourselves to the 2 for 1 special on drinks. We were back aboard the ship by 1pm and we decided to grab a bite to eat at the Sun’s VIP breakfast/lunch dining venue. Other NCL ships use Cagney’s for this purpose but the Sun uses La Cucina. The VIP dining menu is standardized fleet wide, so we knew what we wanted before arrival. I ordered the wedge of salmon on toast points with tartar sauce while “herself” wanted hamburger, no fries. Remember, Chef’s Table tonight. After our obligatory siesta, we showered and dressed for our 6pm Special Dinner. We reported for our culinary repast at the Java Café where we were met by Chef Denton Laing, several officers and waiters freely pouring a great champagne selected by the sommelier for the occasion. After a group photo, each couple was photographed with the Chef as part of a memento package of the evening. We were escorted into a private dining room adjacent to the Four Seasons Restaurant (The Sun’s mid-ship Main Dining Room). Let the Culinary Games begin. Gentlemen, start your taste buds. The Chef’s Table is a seven course - wine paired meal with between course descriptions of ingredients by the Executive Chef and Sous Chef who prepared that course and the Sommelier who selected the paired wine. If you are a serious foodie or wine buff, NCL’s fleet wide Chef’s Table is a great splurge, but, Chef Denton’s Table on the Sun is an absolute MUST. It is simply the best meal with wine pairing I’ve had at sea. It ranks among the top five such meals I’ve enjoyed on land at some the finest restaurants around the globe. CRUISE DAY 5, Wednesday, Oct. 15 I needed another At Sea Day to rest up after the marvelous Chef’s Table Dinner the night before. We slept in and began our day with lunch with VIP dining in La Cucina. After lunch Sharon Rae headed to the Salon for a manicure while I attended a lecture on the history of Norwegian Cruise Line in Dazzles Night Club. We rested for the rest of the day, doing nothing and doing it very well thank you. Carrying out the same “do nothing” theme, we decided to order dinner in the cabin with room service. The room service menu has replaced my favorite NCL soup (tomato bisque) with chicken noodle (Sharon Rae’s favorite) Room service said they would try to find my tomato soup and they succeeded. Our light meal of soup, salad and a shared club sandwich washed down with a nice Pinot Grigio from the wine package. After dinner, we opened a second bottle of wine and enjoyed it with a golden oldie movie on the ship’s TV before sleep time. CRUISE DAY 6, Thursday, Oct. 16 We arrive in Huatulco, MX at 9 am and depart at 430 pm. We had booked a private tour guide for ourselves and cruise mate, Pete & Gretchen on line by googling. We drew 4 aces when we booked a 4 hour tour with Arturo Martinez, ( arturomartinez16@hotmail.com, www.arturomartineztours.com Cell: 958 583 3469) 1st Ace was the tour included a spacious 10 passenger van with plenty of room for 4 persons, 2 scooters, a driver and our guide Arturo. 2nd Ace was the itinerary: City/Bay Tour - This tour offers general information about the development of Huatulco as a tourist destination. We will see the most spectacular viewpoints of Tangolunda Bay, the Bay of Santa Cruz and the Lighthouse. A visit to downtown La Crucecita and it´s attractions, like the church with it´s monumental mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe that measures 285 square meters, also we´ll see the weavers working in the looms at the workshop of the textile factory where different types of works are made, such as tablecloths, place mats, bedspreads, curtains and many more textiles , and “ La Casa del Mezcal, to taste the Oaxacan Mezcal made from the green agave where we will be able to taste this drink and it´s varieties, such as the liquors and the flavored Mezcal also the Oaxacan grasshoppers. 3rd Ace was Arturo’s knowledge, expertise and love of the history of Huatulco as a government planned tourist destination and resort area that grew from a sleepy little fishing village. His enthusiasm for Huatulco was contagious. 4th Ace was the price: $55 per hour. Upon our return to the ship at 1 pm, Sharon Rae and I decided to do the VIP lunch in La Cucina. (I would order the salmon on toast points every day, if I could). We dined with Pete & Gretchen that evening with our standing reservation at 6 pm in the Seven Seas Main Dining Room. The food was great, the wine just right, the service impeccable and the company delightful….Life is Good. CRUISE DAY 7, Friday, Oct 17 Our port of call is Puerto Chiapas with arrival at 8 am and departure at 430 pm. Mother Nature did not cooperate in maintaining paradise in paradise today. From before sunrise at 7 am, there was a constant monsoon like rain that fell incessantly. Sharon Rae and I had booked a Cooking Class tour with the NCL Shore Excursion desk. It had been rated handicap accessible but when we disembarked the ship to join our tour group, we were informed the restaurant venue had changed and while only 1 kilometer away, it was a walk through a park and the soggy ground would not support Sharon’s scooter. So, we made the best of it and visited the souvenir pavilion adjacent to the pier. After we had our obligatory picture taken with and by the ship’s photo staff, we returned aboard. After obtaining a refund of our tour booking from the Shore Excursion desk, we participated in several on board activities including trivia which lessened our disappointment. We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the very uncrowded buffet. Being high and dry, our spirits were raised as we watched our poor cruise mates return to the ship thoroughly soaked and water logged. We kept our usual 6 pm dinner reservations in the Seven Seas and decided to skip the guitarist in the theater. Instead, we tried the Observation Lounge which was featuring the NCL song and dance troupe in an up close and personal cabaret style performance. We were glad we did and heartily encourage others to do the same. The Sun’s small size, by today’s standards, is able to use the Observation Lounge as a cabaret. Sadly, the huge newer ships lack the venues to continue this wonderful type of show. CRUISE DAY 8, Saturday, Oct 18 The only major item on the agenda today is the Cruise Critic’s Cabin Crawl. Originally, the Cabin Crawl was cancelled for lack of interest. But based upon pleas and begging of late roll call registrants, it was restored to “maybe” status if someone volunteered to coordinate it. Up to the plate stepped Marilynn (Mellygo) who organized the project post haste and today she proved herself to be a great event coordinator. We met at the Champagne Bar, mid ship on deck 7, at 11 am. A dozen or so cruise critics visited five different styles of cabins offered on the Sun: Regular Balcony, Accessible Balcony, Extra Large Forward Facing Balcony, Mini-Suite, and Aft Facing Penthouse Suite. After the crawl most of the participants met to break bread over lunch at the buffet. At 5pm we met Pete & Gretchen in their cabin for cocktails. At 6 pm the four of us headed to Cagney’s for our Black Angus Fix. I realize that neo foodies have moved away from beef as their mainstay. But, having been raised in Chicago, when the nation’s meat packing industry was located there, I still love my protein in the form of a thick juicy slab of beef. Cagney’s does the job equal to the great steak & chop restaurants of yesterday and today. CRUISE DAY 9, Sunday, Oct 19 Today’s port of call is Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We arrived at 8 am and departed at 430 pm. Pete had booked a great private tour company which he found by internet research: Gi Tours (Olga Saenz, Sales Mgr.) Email: info@smallgroupstravel.com Ph: Office (O) 506 2219-6060 (C) 506 8886-5040 The national symbol of Costa Rica was (is?) wildly multi-colored oxcarts which were used by the farmers for every purpose, from personal transportation to farm equipment. Small versions of the iconic ox carts were hand made as home bars for tourists. When I first met Sharon Rae I had an ox cart bar given to me as a gift by a senorita on one my Costa Rica visits from my bachelor days. It was the first thing Sharon Rae tossed after we married. Pete and Gretchen wanted to visit the town of Sarchi with one of the last wood working shops that still produce ox cart bars which now cost 10 times what they were 35 years ago. Pete obtained a quote for a great price and superb itinerary. The tour lasts around 7 to 8 hours (Full day), departing around 8 a.m. from the main pier where we will be with a sign with your name on it, and coming back around 4:00 p.m. (Depending on the departure time of the ship). It goes through the picturesque towns of Sarchi, Grecia, Naranjo, Palmares and San Ramón, acres and acres of coffee and sugar plantations, gorgeous landscapes and very typical Costa Rican family houses. There are no entrance fees to nowhere since all places where we will be stopping have no entrance fee cost. Our service includes the private van, bilingual certified tour guide and of course the tour itself and the lowest rate we can give you is $270. But a 7 – 8 hour tour on the Pacific side of Costa Rica can push the envelope a little too far when considering a timely return to the ship. Unexpected thunderstorms can temporarily close mountain roads and the detour can delay your return by several hours. Since the drive to Sarchi would be 1.5 hours each way, we cut the tour length to six hours by skipping 2 of the 5 towns from the itinerary. As it turned out, the day was warm and dry and we were back to the ship in 6 hours, but, better to be safe than sorry. Our driver, Jesus, spoke little English but would make a great “wheel man” driving a robbery getaway car. Our guide, Francisco was fluent in English which was self-taught from American TV shows. They both took great pride in their culture and country and delighted in showing it American tourists. We visited the Eloy Alfaro Ox Cart and Wood Fabricator Shop in Sarchi ( www.fabricadecarretaseloyalfaro.com carretaseloyalfaro@gmail.com ) Sharon Rae bought a beautiful 18” lazy Susan made from multi wood inlays. Gretchen bought several gorgeous wood trivets. I was prohibited from buying another ox cart bar. We returned to the ship by 3 pm with plenty of time for a power nap, a shower and to dress for dinner. The four of us had been invited to join Hotel Director Brian Walters for dinner at 730 pm in the Seven Seas dining Room. We were joined by another Cruise Critic couple, Roger & Peg (computerpeg). As you can imagine the service was extra special and the food superb. But, the highlight of the evening was getting to know Mr. Walters. Unlike many Hotel Directors, Brian is very soft spoken. But, one thing comes through loud and clear, Brian listens attentively to what others have to say and is sincerely interested in making their stay pleasurable and memorable. By the end of the evening, Director Walters’ warmth and charm made us feel that we’d been guests in his Jamaican home not a hotel guests. CRUISE DAY 10, Monday, Oct. 20 Today is an At Sea Day and tonight is the second “Dress Up or Not” night.   We had booked the “Murder Mystery” Luncheon.   But, when the 40 guests were seated at 5 tables of 8 persons and the wine poured and the food served, we were informed that the Mystery would have to be rescheduled without further explanation. The 32 people at the other 4 tables quickly ate their lunch and departed.   The 8 people at our table noticed there were 4 or 5 open bottles of wine. With great concern for the poor thirsty people around the world, we decided we could not leave until the bottles were empty. Our thirst quenched, we retreated to our cabin for an afternoon siesta. About 3 pm chocolate covered strawberries and petit fours candies were delivered, one compliments of Chef Denton and the other from the Food and Beverage Director. We set them aside for later and began dressing for the evening.   We attended a Senior Officers’ Reception in the Observation Lounge from 5 to 530 pm. We then headed to Seven Seas Main Dining Room for 6 pm dinner. We retired to our cabin for a night cap and popped a bottle of bubbly to compliment the chocolate covered strawberries and petit fours. CRUISE DAY 11, Tuesday, Oct. 21 Today is THE BIG DAY. Today is the Panama Canal Transit. Chef Denton has prepared a Special Room Service Panamanian Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros (Fried or Scrambled Eggs on Corn Tortilla topped with fresh salsa) served with corn muffin, bacon and Chorizo sausage. BUENOS DIAS PANAMA.! Since our forward facing balcony, immediately above the Captain’s bridge, provides one of the best seats in the house for viewing the canal transit we are providing an Open House from 10 am till 3 pm for Cruise Critic Roll Call members.   Concierge Leah and Group Service Coordinator Ligaya provided pitchers of ice tea, lemonade, orange juice, tomato juice, buckets of ice and “crunchie munchies”. With the 6 bottles of champagne and a contributed liter of vodka we served Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Vodka Collins. Executive Housekeeper Broomes provided balcony seating for 10. That leaves balcony standing room for another 10 and 5 or 6 inside the cabin. During the course of the day, we had about 50 guests stop by and had a full house at all times. By the time the last guest had left, we were exhausted. We ordered dinner from Room Service. It may be our Chicago Style Pizza taste buds showing but we found the NCL pizza HORRIBLE.   Thankfully, we also ordered backup Burgers and BLTs.   They hit the spot and were a nice end to a lovely day. CRUISE DAY 12, Oct 22 Today’s port of call is Cartagena. We arrived at 11 am and sailed away at 6:30 pm. As we were disembarking from the ship, Sharon Rae’s scooter got hung up on the gangway. She heard a deep voice behind her “Don’t worry about a thing young Lady, I’ll push you to the pier”. When finally on the pier, she turned around to discover her knight errant was none other than Captain Ronny Borg, himself.   What a true gentleman and great guy! Pete was able to find another gem of a tour guide on the internet who came highly rated on Trip Advisor: Martin Rosales www.cartagenaguide.com email cartagenatourguides@gmail.com + 57 300 479 67 61 and + 57 316 243 92 17   Martin is a very knowledgeable guide and mixes history, culture and architecture into a seamless mosaic. He would have made a great teacher. His team work with the driver is perfect.   For the walking parts of the tour the driver would find a safe and convenient place to drop us off and would magically appear at just the right time and location when continuing the vehicular tour. CARTAGENA CITY TOUR: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE OLD CITY. The tour begins as you take the transportation inside the port, then we continue to see the beautiful houses and the fortress in Manga Island, the next stop is La Popa Monastery where you are going to have a beautiful view of the whole city, as this is the highest point of Cartagena. Upon arriving to San Felipe Castle, you would see why this is the most important and largest example of military architecture left by the Spaniards in America.Next we will go to the Old City, we are going to see Las Bovedas, these are also an example of Military architecture along with the walls, they function now as Tourist shops, where you can buy all types of handicraft made by local artisans. As we continue to walk around the old town, we will see the beautiful streets, houses, squares and churches Cartagena has, to give you a unique experience of living the History in every step you take, we will go inside of San Pedro Claver Church, the patron of slaves in Colombia and African Americans.The tour continues in the modern part of the City, we will have a panoramic view of Bocagrande, the beach area and the island of Tierra Bomba, with a stop at the Emerald Museum, to be witness of the whole History and legends about the emeralds and its manufacturing.  PHOTO STOP AT SAN FELIPE. - Cost per person (4 people): $70 US Dollars Excursion Length: 3.5 Hours approximately- Pick up and drop off inside the port. - Entrance fee to: La Popa Monastery and San Pedro Claver Church - Photo stop at San Felipe Fortress - Visit to the Manga Fortress.  - Walking tour inside the old city- A bottle of water per person.- Air conditioned transportation (Van) With the late sail away hour, we decided to catch an early cabaret style show in the Observation Lounge. The program featured the NCL Show Band and the Sun Production Singers doing 40s & 50s big band music and the songs of Sinatra, Dean Martin and Doris Day. We ordered late dinner from room service getting our order in just before the 11 pm service charge kicked in. CRUISE DAY 13, Thursday, Oct. 23 Today is another At Sea Day.   Chef Denton invited all the Chef’s Table diners to tour the galley, food storage and food preparation areas at 1030 am.   We got a firsthand look at the entire culinary team working in their separate departments and then watched how it all came together for plating and serving. The Cruise Critic Farewell Luncheon was held at noon in the Seven Seas Dining Room. We had 35 members in attendance in a special reserved section of the Seven Seas Dining Room. It was a time to exchange pleasantries with phone numbers and email addresses. Pete and Gretchen joined us at 715pm for dinner at the Teppanyaki (or as I call it Chop Chop) Japanese restaurant.   Watching the specially trained chef with their flying knives is a show unto itself. I’ve seen it before but it doesn’t get old. Oh, did I mention the food tastes terrific as well? After dinner, we went to the 9 pm theater show for a Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons Tribute performance. At the conclusion of the theater show we headed to the Observation Lounge for a night cap and some easy listening music. CRUISE DAY 14, Friday, Oct. 24 With another At Sea Day, we finally get to enjoy the rescheduled Murder Mystery luncheon. I think this is the third time we have done this NCL version of the classic murder mystery participation. I have put the various character roles to memory and knew the minute I was assigned a role that I was the murderer. I tried my best to lie my way out of it but 2 members of our table of 8 correctly picked me as the culprit. For dinner that night we booked La Cucina for Italian food.   The restaurant offers two house specialties: Osso Bucco and Risotto. I always ask for the Osso Bucco served on a bed of Risotto. That provides two special dishes instead of one.  CRUISE DAY 15, Sat, Oct 25 Our last Day At Sea has arrived. Being a believer in theory that the last day a cruise should be for decompression, we planned nothing and did next to nothing.   The day was intended to relax the mind and body to prepare for a late last night. We booked a table for four at Le Bistro at 6 pm for our last dinner with Pete & Gretchen.   Somehow, between Hotel Director Brian, Chef Denton and Concierge Leah we were assigned the best table in the house. There is a Greek Columned Gazebo in the center of the Le Bistro restaurant with a table for four beneath a domed roof. The Maitre D’ personally seated us in the Gazebo and took our wine selections while the waiter and his assistant poured the water, served the bread and butter and the salmon mousse pate’. We were off to a great start. The Maitre’ D’, recalling our disappointment with the rack of lamb two weeks earlier, suggested we try it tonight. We four trusting souls followed his suggestions to the letter and were rewarded with some of the best lamb we have ever been served. We encountered two tables of fellow Cruise Critics and were able to bid them a fond adieu and farewell. At one point I excused myself to make a rest room visit and upon my return to the table, someone very special was sitting in my chair. I had been ousted by none other than Chef Denton. He had come by personally to say goodbye and make sure the rack of lamb had not been disappointing.    We took a bottle of wine with us to the theater where we enjoyed the humor of a very funny comedian and a reprise performance of the Frankie Valli & Four Seasons Tribute quartet.  CRUISE DISEMBARKING DAY, Sunday, Oct. 26 We arrived at 8 am and disembarking was completed by 11 am.  All and all, this, our 20th cruise with Norwegian, ranks as our best all-around cruise with NCL. There is a synergy and energy that is clearly working on the Sun that I have only glimpsed once before. The October 2012 repo cruise of NCL Star from New York to New Orleans was the only previous time I witnessed the senior officers corps work so well together that the whole became bigger and stronger than the sum of the parts.   The Star Team was comprised of Captain Costas Fafalios, Hotel Director Sean Wurmhoeringer and Food & Beverage Director Yannis Kasalis.   Sadly, NCL’s fleet rotation model has broken up the Star’s “A” Team. But, the October 2014 repo cruise of NCL Sun from LA to Tampa outshines the Star’s experience in both breadth and depth. The Sun’s “A” Team is comprised of Captain Ronny Borg, Hotel Director Brian Walters, Concierge Leah Rodriguez, Exec. Chef Denton Laing, Restaurant Mgr. Gary Bryan, Exec. Housekeeper Hal Broomes, Guest Service Mgr. Rodel Gemeniano, Beverage Manager Windchester Barrack, Cruise Directors Richard Matic & Simon Jukes, and Group Service Coordinators Ligaya Dagasdas & Shirlyn Valdez. I realize the Corporate Officers in Miami believe in the managerial technique known as “cross pollenization” which moves good talent around the company to infuse their talents on under achieving units.   But, you run the danger of breaking up the talent pool which is built upon the synergy and energy of Team Talent, not Individual Talents.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Our favorite ship - the NCL Sun - may be older, but still shines radiantly! There were always crew members polishing, shining, painting, etc. making the ship feel newer than she is. The Sun is a happy ship! Her crew are more than ... Read More
Our favorite ship - the NCL Sun - may be older, but still shines radiantly! There were always crew members polishing, shining, painting, etc. making the ship feel newer than she is. The Sun is a happy ship! Her crew are more than attentive because it is their duty - they truly make one feel that it is a pleasure to make your vacation memorable and full of delightful surprises! I have to mention Brian Walters, who is one of the most caring officers you would meet anywhere on the planet. Brian was the first officer to greet us as we were going to our cabin. He made sure that our names were on a list of people who were privileged to dine at an officer's table - so we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner with interesting and entertaining anecdotes from Officer Walters. But I digress - I should start at the beginning: Embarkation was efficiently handled, and we quickly found ourselves at home on the Sun. When you have been on a ship a few times, you get to know her, and it is comforting and comfortable to know where you are without needing to look at a deck plan. We were committed to host the cruise critic Sail Away party, and met a few of those who would join us the next day at the Meet and Greet. When you have participated in a CC roll call board, meeting people is great - like meeting an old friend, but you have never met! We opted to purchase the soda card, and it is a mark of a professional bar tender to remember what you like, and fill your Pepsi almost before you reach the bar stools! Dining: I have heard praises and critiques from foodies about most every one of the major cruise ship lines. I find that most lines are more similar than different. We prefer to dine either at one of the main dining rooms rather than the buffet. Personal choice. We often opt to try the specialty restaurants, and this time we at at Le Bistro twice, and in Il Adagio once for dinner, several times for either breakfast or lunch. Here again we met staff who remembered us, and wanted updates on our lives, and gave us a quick rundown on what was happening in their lives - on and off the ship. We found the food in the specialty restaurants prepared well, and the presentation was always lovely. We did feel that the portion sizes in the specialty restaurants mimicked US restaurants, and sometimes there was no way to finish, even though you wanted to keep eating! I was proud of myself that I only gained 3 lbs! Shore Excursions: We only took one of the ship's shore excursions, and that was in Puerta Vallarta. We went to Las Caletas, and can tell you that there is definitely a good reason the director John Huston lived there for years: It is paradise. When we got back aboard, most guests who had toured on their own complained of the heat, but we were relaxing in perfect temperatures the entire day, whether in or out of the water! Spa/Fitness Center: We did not use the spa, but we did attend a class or two at the fitness center, and learned some things that made the cruise a little less guilt-ridden. As I said - I only gained 3 pounds. Pool Deck: We found that the pool deck had enough chairs to accommodate a few chair hogs, so we never had a difficult time finding a chaise lounge to read, do Sudoku, sun bathe, etc. One of the pools was being repaired the first day or two, because the ship had been chartered the week before, and they had covered the pool with a dance floor setup that was removed at some point the first or second day. One of the best memories is of watching porpoises or dolphins playing alongside the ship. This happened a few times during the cruise - but we never tired of watching them. Canal crossing: Having prepared for this cruise by reading Pathway Between the Seas by McCullough, (this is a thorough history of the remarkable engineering feat, especially for it's time), we didn't expect that we would be enthralled, but we were! Luckily, one of the Cruise Critic friends we met had a cabin directly over the bridge, so rather than fighting for a view on the top deck, we had a full view of the crossing from their balcony. John and Sharon Rae are great hosts! Shops/etc: The adorable couple who did the presentations on where to shop for jewelry and watches ashore had personalities that were contagiously charming, funny, and entertaining, in addition to being knowledgeable. When we were in the gift shop, we found the staff extremely diligent. They know what they carry, and they know where to find it for you. Cabin 1008 This cabin is sold as a mini suite - but on the Sun, these few mini suites are not only larger, but have a walk-in closet, a dressing area, and a full bath. The balcony is average size, and we loved being on the port side so we could watch the docking procedures and had a view of the land many times during the cruise. The cabin is forward, but we never found the ship movement to be a detraction because it was always pretty calm sailing. Crew: As I said - the crew on this ship are the happiest we have seen, and the only ship's crew that could match it was the NCL Jewel, especially when John O'Hara was on board. Our cabin steward, Antonio, quickly learned our likes and dislikes, and once when we elected to stay on the balcony while he tidied our cabin, we were sooooo impressed with his speed and efficiency. We had a concierge, and this is the second time that crew member was Leah Rodriguez. Leah is always happy to see you at breakfast to catch up on what you did the day before, and also to see if you need assistance with reservations, or recommendations about the best beach in the port that day. Entertainment: I think that it goes without saying that NCL always has great entertainment. Even the entertainment at the bars was good. While this ship is certainly not the Epic, the Breakaway, etc., we find the entertainment to be just that - enjoyable entertainment. The cruise director did a terrific job narrating the DVD of the canal crossing. He is energetic and fun. Family: We did not take any of our family with us, so I cannot speak from experience, but the children we did see were polite and happy with their program, it seemed. Of course - there is a game room with video games, and even adults were seen lurking there. Summary: In all, our experience was a relaxing, yet fun break from the daily grind. We are already booked for our next 2 cruises on the lovely Sun. 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Sail Date October 2014
My wife and I recently spent 15 days aboard the Sun celebrating my 60th birthday. It was truly a fantastic time and the ship's professional crew made it even better. The staff from the Captain all the way to the room Steward were ... Read More
My wife and I recently spent 15 days aboard the Sun celebrating my 60th birthday. It was truly a fantastic time and the ship's professional crew made it even better. The staff from the Captain all the way to the room Steward were superb. Although it is an older ship they truly strive to keep it in great shape and everyone is extremely friendly. The ports of call were fun but the whole Panama Canal crossings was an experience to be remembered especially since it was the 100 year anniversary. The entertainment was the best we've seen on a cruise line and every day we had plenty of fun and educational things to do and see. Even with 10 days at sea on this repositioning of the ship we were never bored. The food was good and the staff even better. We would be happy to cruise with Norwegian again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My DH and I are sixty-ish retirees living in Florida. Therefore, we drove to the port and parked in the garage right there. Embarkation was disorganized - workers standing around, asking us what ship we were on, and then pointing in the ... Read More
My DH and I are sixty-ish retirees living in Florida. Therefore, we drove to the port and parked in the garage right there. Embarkation was disorganized - workers standing around, asking us what ship we were on, and then pointing in the direction we were already going. There was no organization to entering, just a mass of sheep. There was no separate entrance for Platinum guests like there is in the European ports. After the security scanning, there was a room off to the side marked PRIORITY BOARDING, with a uniformed woman at the door with a clipboard in hand. She was unable to find our name on the sheet, so waved us along like school children. When we rounded the corner, there was a uniformed man who asked us if we needed help. We explained that we were Platinum but not on the Priority list. He walked us up to the counter and we were checked in immediately. That was the point of change, and after that the entire cruise was wonderful. Once onboard, we headed for our cabin. It wasn't "time" yet, but the room looked perfect, so we went in and sat on the couch and rested a bit.. The cabin (8011) had a large picture window, a couch, a desk and chair, and a bed (with those horrid rounded corners at the foot). There was plenty of cabinets, open shelves, and drawers to stow everything and plenty of room in the closet. The bathroom had 3 shelves on either side of the countertop with plenty of room for all toiletries. The shower was rounded, with a curtain that worked better if we sprayed it wet right away - then it didn't cling. The body wash and shampoo was consistently full and very pleasant. Our steward(ess) was Francia and she was amazing. She was prompt and efficient, and would chat with us in the corridor as we were returning from an excursion or wandering toward dinner. She was extremely creative - her towel animals were always greeting us, and she tweaked them to be special. Her "bunny" had big bunny teeth made with gold-wrapped chocolates! I must say (and my husband would agree) that every single crew member on the Sun was pleasant, courteous, helpful, friendly, and sociable. Even those with limited English made sure to say hello or good morning, and if they couldn't answer a question for us, would get someone who could. The wait staff in the eating areas were efficient and the bar waiters were excellent and not pesty. The dealers in the casino were wonderful - they were patient and excellent teachers for those of us not knowing how to play a table game. The slots worked well, and I don't remember seeing any machine "down" for longer than an hour or two. We really felt that the crew/staff on the Sun was outstanding, and we filled out about a dozen "Vacation Hero" cards commending the extra-special ones. Le Bistro, the French specialty dining room, was incredible. We ate there twice, and had impeccable service and exquisite food. It was nowhere near full, and we dined at a window both evenings. The second night I complimented the dinner to the waitress, and she went in and brought the chef out to our table so I could tell him myself how excellent everything was. The entertainment on the Sun was good, not great. The production company was accomplished and had several superior singers and dancers. Their best show was a Cabaret in the forward lounge where several of them did their favorite Broadway songs. There was a quartet of young men called Oh What a Night! They did Four Seasons songs, and were excellent. The lead singer, George, also did a one-man show which was superb. We also thoroughly enjoyed Jeri Seger (not sure of her last name) who is a tiny little thing with a GIGANTIC voice. We're not fans of aerialists or hypnotists, so we skipped those shows. One afternoon there was a folkloric show by some local entertainers who sang, danced, and played guitars and other instruments and that was very entertaining. The fitness center was nicely laid out with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows. Seeing the Pacific Ocean during a workout was the only relief from the mind-numbing boredom of a stationary bike. They had "tv" over the handlebars, but it was difficult to see, no sound, and nothing worth seeing anyway. The only complaint I had was that a couple of people thought it was a tea room or something and decided to have a full-blown conversation at a volume level that assured everyone in the room a good listen. Not cool. But, rude people will be rude no matter where they are. (that includes the folk who don't wipe down the machine when they're finished!) All in all, we had a wonderful cruise. The Panama Canal transit was a full day long, and we had a narrator who shared information about the Canal and the country over the speakers. He made it a very worthwhile day, and if people wanted to know what they were seeing, all they had to do was listen. I was surprised, though, that the ship didn't do anything remarkable to note the 100th Anniversary of the Canal. There was no fanfare, no decor, no mention of such a momentous occasion. I can't speak to the activities staff's talents, other than selling pull-tabs at the shows or the director introducing the main shows. We didn't join in any of the reindeer games. You know, Trivia, pool activities, game shows, all of that. Been there, done that decades ago. The library was quite centrally located, which is unusual, as it is usually stuck off in a corner somewhere. The hours it was open for book-borrowing were very limited, and the one cabinet of books to take or leave didn't have any English language books in it at all until the last day. It was also quite small and not a welcoming place at all. NCL would do well to look at their own NCL GEM which has an enormous library as well as a game room. On the Sun, we were always hunting for a place with a table for a game or a quiet place to read.. There were few of the former, and none of the latter. (The forward lounge had promise, but the bar staff was quite chatty and there were groups that would gather for game playing or just drinks and a chat, so that eliminated that reading spot as well. Next cruise - HEADPHONES. We also had a lot of fun at the art auctions with Park West. We enjoyed the auctions themselves and the hijinks that Sean and Shannon led us on. Charles was an amazing help as well. We learned a great deal, and we are very happy with our purchases from the auctions. The only true negative was the last day. Many of the passengers were staying on for the cruise to Alaska, but we were disembarking in Los Angeles. The directions printed on the disembarkation notice were simple to follow. However, the directions were not followed by the staff, which announced different directions. People were confused and upset and no one knew what was supposed to be happening. There were lines the entire length of the ship to get into the theater to get the tiny sticker put on the keycard so we could leave the ship. Leaving was out the Starboard door and all the way forward, around the deck, and back to midship on the Port side before we could finally get off. People were tired, hot, sweaty, and grouchy, and there was a great deal of shoving and line chaos through it all. It was perhaps the worst we have ever seen on any ship. That being said - we would sail again on the Sun in a heartbeat. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the people we met. Although a moderate 2 week cruise, it was one of the happiest overall. The ports were great (except Puerto Chiapas, which was a horrible slum-like big city) and although we hired drivers instead of doing ship excursions, we had wonderful experiences in all the ports.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We boarded the Norwegian Sun on Monday, April 28, for a 15 day cruise that took us from Miami, through the Panama Canal and ended at Los Angeles. We had an aft facing balcony on the 9th deck....staterooms above and below us. The 2 beds ... Read More
We boarded the Norwegian Sun on Monday, April 28, for a 15 day cruise that took us from Miami, through the Panama Canal and ended at Los Angeles. We had an aft facing balcony on the 9th deck....staterooms above and below us. The 2 beds were pushed together to make an almost king size bed, and there was small couch which could fold out into a bed. Also a desk/table with a small refrigerator underneath and a flat screen tv. There is a safe in one of the cabinets. The closet is not huge but was large enough...it also had shelves in it. All 5 of our suitcases fit under the bed for storage. Our room steward was Al (short for something else) and he serviced our room twice a day. He even was able to find us some extra clothes hangers for the closet. We made use of the on-board laundry service twice...when they ran "all you can fit in this laundry bag" specials. Six ports of call and the transit of the Panama Canal: At the Panama Canal, a member of the canal authority came on board and gave information all day as we made our way through the 3 sets of locks. We kept our tv turned on to the ship's station so we could see the front of the ship, but mostly sat on our balcony and saw the activity from there. This is an all day process and quite fascinating. At the 6 ports we had booked excursions through NCL and they were all quite interesting. Even though they were all "level 1" as far as activity level, there was a good bit of walking. All of the tour guides were very patient and helpful with those who needed a little more assistance getting on and off buses and walking on the tours This was our first cruise on NCL, and we like the freestyle dining. It's more like going to a restaurant, and you are given the option of sitting at your own table or with someone else. We did go to two of the specialty restaurants...the El Moderno, and the La Cucina (the Italian place). Both had exception service and food. The rest of the time we ate at the buffet. I didn't go to any of the shows but my husband did, and he said they were ok. The only thing I would ask NCL to do would be work on the PA system so it would be easier to hear overhead announcements in the rooms without having to open the door. There were very few children on this cruise..they announced there were only 21 passengers under age 21...probably because of the length of the cruise, and also because most kids are still in school. The ones we did see were well behaved and not running around on their own. Debarkation in Los Angeles was relatively painless...we chose to be in one of the late groups because we did not have air flights to catch. My husband sometimes has difficulty walking and as we got out of the terminal, an NCL employee was there with a wheelchair, and took him to the cab stand. We also had a porter who transported our luggage for us. All in all, we were very pleased with this cruise and the service provided, and will probably sail with Norwegian again. ps...to the people next door to us...they were in 9276...were you not aware that cigar smoking on your balcony is supposed to be prohibited? Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
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
We booked this cruise over a year in advance and it seemed like a really adventurous trip. Having toured New Zealand in the January the second long haul holiday of the year was supposed to be second fiddle, but it was beyond comparison, so ... Read More
We booked this cruise over a year in advance and it seemed like a really adventurous trip. Having toured New Zealand in the January the second long haul holiday of the year was supposed to be second fiddle, but it was beyond comparison, so different, so luxurious, such fun! The ship the Norwegian Sun is not the biggest of ships, which was why we chose it, but it was quite big enough for us, roomy public spaces, roomy stateroom, roomy open spaces. The pool space was surrounded by a huge number of beds and decks, the only problem was we were looking for a shady spot which were full early in the day. Towels were on beds not returned to for a long time, but that it not NCL, that is people. Every day a gentle calypso band would play for some time by the pool and on sea days a barbecue was prepared and served round the pool, every day fruit or other sweet snacks were passed around by very attentive staff and drinks served at a charge from the poolside Topsiders Bar. The food was excellent in quality and choice. There are restaurants with a supplement, which we did not use on principle. There are two main dining rooms with identical menus, one with a smart casual dress code the other not. We preferred the more formal dining, the atmosphere was luxury, the attentive staff conveyed that feeling, however, the wine was expensive . There were less formal options: buffet dining with lots of choice for starters mains and desserts: a crepe to order option. The Sports Bar served comfort food of burgers, chicken strips or fish with chips. Las Ramblas offered a tapas option. These were all included in the cruise price, as was room service with a restricted menu, delivered within 15 minutes, made to order. Shows at the Stardust lounge were varied and entertaining; including dance extravaganzas to magicians, the Windjammer Bar was cosy but would be improved if the photography corridor was walled off from it. Guitar and piano player gave a club atmosphere. Dazzles disco lounge was always humming. There was such a varied and full programme of so many entertainments/activities I will not try to list them here as I would not do them justice, but you can do as little or as much of them as you like. We were quite happy sometimes to chill in our stateroom which had adequate storage, room to stretch out or sit on the balcony and watch the sea and the passing wildlife: dolphins, turtles, fish and glimpse of a ray. The ports were interesting and varied. We booked some private excursions, some NCL excursions and we walked around ourselves in two ports. The NCL Crocodile Safari in Puntarenas, Costa Rica was excellent and we thoroughly recommend it. We did not like the idea of the cruise coming to an end and would recommend this cruise to anyone, families, those with mobility issues, couples, singles, GLBT. All these groups are catered for excellently on this cruise through the Panama Canal.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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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