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