Norwegian Sun Entertainment & Activities
As usual, Norwegian Cruise Line excels in this arena, with its colorful production shows and Broadway-style reviews. With myriad performers (magicians, comedians and a Cirque du Soleil-like troupe of acrobats) the evening entertainment is stellar. The Stardust Lounge is a nice venue with excellent acoustics; the many upright support posts can interfere with line-of-sight if you don't select a seat carefully.
The many bars and nightclubs around the ship have separate entertainment by way of duos singing old rock and blues standards, a country and western singer, a guitarist/vocalist, pianist, and a calypso/reggae band at poolside. Wherever you go in the evening, there is music of some sort.
The best (or perhaps most outrageous) show of the week was the Ship 'n' Males Review (a play on Chippendale's) wherein sundry crew members did a striptease down to their boxers or tighty-whities to blaring tunes like "Livin' La Vida Loca" or "I'm Too Sexy." Dazzles Nightclub was the most crowded on that evening, with lots of fun and laughter ... and some good-humored embarrassment on the part of the stripping crew as hooting and catcalling ladies stuffed their briefs with dollar bills. It was fun, funny, not lewd, but definitely not for youngsters.
Daytime entertainment is more low-key, but there's plenty to see and do. Bingo, craft-making, art auctions, pool games, trivia contests and the like are all available during the day, both while at sea and while in port. A movie is shown in Dazzles in the morning and another in the afternoon. In-room television stations include local channels while in port, CNN International, ESPN, an "oldies" sitcom channel, several ship-specific channels, and a couple of movie channels with a rotating selection. Not many of the movies were recent releases, though.
Norwegian Sun Public Rooms
The layout of the ship makes it easy to navigate (there's one exception, explained below) with most of the public spaces located on Decks 5, 6 and 7, plus the pool/spa/Lido Deck (11) and the alternate restaurants and Sun Deck (12). A small but soaring atrium is located towards the forward end, with two banks of glass-enclosed elevators rising to Deck 12.
There are two main elevator banks, one forward of the atrium and one at the aft, and it's the latter that creates a problem. Those utilizing the aft elevators to get to the pool deck (or the Great Outdoor Cafe) have to wend their way through at least one restaurant before getting outside. This is particularly problematic when trying to get to the pool during busy dining times. The elevator bank is located smack in the middle of the aft dining spots, with the Garden Cafe on the starboard side and the Sports Bar and Pacific Heights on the port side. The only real way to avoid the awkwardness is to take the forward or atrium elevators to the pool or sports deck.
The rest of the ship flows nicely, with the occasional and expected hiccup due to galley placement (you can only reach Deck Four from the forward elevators, and anything forward of the Seven Seas dining room on Deck Five has to be accessed via the forward elevators as well).
The Deck 5 atrium area houses the front desk, concierge, shore excursions and the Java Cafe (specialty coffees and pastries for an a la carte fee), plus the entrance to the Four Seasons Restaurant. Deck 6 is the most beautiful, and the most fun, with Dazzles, the main disco-nightclub just aft of the atrium; Windstar Lounge; and Havana Club, the cigar bar. The photo gallery is also located here, in a wide corridor with dark walnut wood panels and blue carpeting; it's very elegant, and opens out onto the exterior promenade. Located along this corridor is the lovely and well-stocked library, along with meeting rooms and card rooms. At the aft end is the entrance to the main theatre, the Stardust Lounge.
In an interesting design move, the whole atrium area of Deck 6 comprises the Internet Cafe, run by MTN/Digital Seas. Computer stations are scattered around the central core so anyone using them doesn't feel isolated. Packages can bring your rate down from the a la carte 95 cents per minute to 52 cents per minute (250 minutes from $129 or 100 minutes from $85). Wireless internet is available too -- your laptop or theirs, your wireless card or theirs -- but the "hot spots" on the Sun at this time are limited to the atrium area and right around the pool.
Deck 7 is home to the shopping arcade, a paradise of trinkets, logo items, toys, clothing, jewelry, clocks, knickknacks, snacks and duty-free liquor and cigarettes, plus a high-priced branch of Colombia Emeralds International. It's also the location of the large Sun Club casino, nicely equipped with a variety of table games, slots, video poker etc. (I was really hoping to see someone try the lone $100 slot machine, but it didn't happen while I was in the casino). At the forward end of Deck 7 is the Kid's Corner, and at the aft, the upper-level entrance to Stardust Lounge.
The Observation Lounge is located forward on Deck 12, a sunny viewing space during the day, a hopping music and dance spot at night.
There is a small but lovely chapel on Deck 12 just adjacent to the Observation Lounge.
The ship has no self-serve laundry.
Norwegian Sun Spa & Fitness
There are two pools on the main pool deck, and four hot tubs; a deck above (12), there is a kiddie pool and another hot tub. Several adults on my cruise chose to relax around the kids' pool when the main pools became too noisy or crowded. (There is something about the acoustics around the pool deck that makes it seem very loud.)
Forward of the pool is the Body Waves Spa on the starboard side and Body Waves Fitness Center and Aerobics Studio on port side, all nicely equipped for exercising. Use of the machines is free, but some classes have a fee ($10). These include yoga, pilates and spinning classes. The spa, a Mandara facility run by Steiner of London, is lovely, with genuinely nice personnel who try not to hard-sell their products. Treatments seem pricey but there are always specials, especially on port days. A full body treatment will run around $129, a facial around $89.
There are complimentary sauna and steam rooms for both men and women, a basketball court, two golf driving cages, batting cage, and shuffleboard court on Deck 12, and a ping-pong table on the pool deck
Norwegian Sun For Kids
NCL is a family-oriented cruise line, with lots of parent-and-kids activities, a great children's program and even group babysitting until the wee hours. The Kid's Corner, located forward on Deck 7, is a series of three rooms with age-appropriate activities in each. What's really fun about the space is that you have to go down stairs to get to the rooms but there are viewing "portholes" for parents up above.
The Splash Academy groups are broken down by compatible ages: 6 months to 3 years, with parent, 3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 10 to 12. A lot of time is devoted to outdoor activities ("so they can expend energy," the cruise director told me), and there are pizza-making parties for parents and kids and even a child-sized Chocoholic's Buffet arranged in the Pacific Heights restaurant concurrent with the one for adults. The program is free of charge; there is a nominal fee for after-hours group babysitting; plan on about $6 per hour, plus $4 per hour for each additional sibling.
Teens have their group activities, and a disco is set aside specifically for that age group (13 - 17).