10 San Diego Entertainment Cruise Reviews

This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise (mostly on NCL) and my 2nd cruise on the Pearl, and my background as a former Flight Attendant with American Airlines during the 70’s-90’s (back when it was Fun to fly and I had hair…) when I worked First Class, it provides a unique perspective. Our 1st cruise on the Pearl was to Alaska Labor Day week 2017. We booked this cruise shortly thereafter. I was also the CC Coordinator on both Pearl cruises, we had over 70+ couples who joined us on this San Diego - Tampa cruise via the Panama Canal. Staff Officer/Hotel Director Cary (previous experience was the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Director in NYC) is the only NCL Hotel Director that hosts an end of cruise meeting with myself and other CC members that would like to speak to the senior staff. I interacted with many passengers during this 2 week cruise regarding their experiences which enabled me to share some comments/feedback to the Pearl Staff - in addition to my own observations. I won’t be commenting on the day to day of what we did/eat/excursions, etc., but rather comment on our overall experience. I must say that NCL has improved greatly over the past few years and their FreeStyle is refreshing from some of the other cruise lines offerings. The main dining rooms to the specialty restaurants are indeed a treat. Never did we find a menu that was boring or repetitive during our 2 weeks on board, nor were we served anything that wasn’t fresh and tasty. I can’t say that about some of the finer restaurants in America. Even if NCL didn’t have any specialty restaurants, the Main Dining rooms would be superb. But, the specialty restaurants do add a unique experience in ambiance and taste, so if you would like a special evening, you can’t go wrong with whichever one(s) you chose to try. The Pearls staff are top notch, to say the least. The Captain (airplane or ship) sets the tone for the crew and it shows. I observed Officers picking up garbage on the pool deck, and other Officers rearranging lounge chairs in the clubs. The crew observes this so they in turn go the extra mile to serve us. Like I mentioned previously, NCL has risen in the ranks these past few years in my book and I can’t say enough good things about their staff. From the Cabin Stewards/Stewardess’, Pool Bar Servers to our Wait Staff and Bus Boys to the crew that we never see. As the CC Coordinator for this particular cruise, we organized a Halloween Costume Pub Crawl after we left Cartagena, Columbia. We had a lot of CC participants and as a bonus, the Pearl hosted a Haunted House in the Bliss Lounge. That was a fun memorable evening for all. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise! The Cruise Director and staff did a marvelous job of keeping us entertained for many sea days. NCL’s entertainment was top notch, plus a seasoned speaker/expert on the Panama Canal. Yes, we are booking with NCL again and the Pearl in particular. To me, that is the best write up/endorsement that I can make. Thank you NCL Pearl for being the ultimate Vacation Hero! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I work in the travel industry and have heard nothing but great things about Disney, always mixed reviews with other cruise lines. I was dreading the boarding process, but to be honest it was super easy, I completed everything online so we ... Read More
I work in the travel industry and have heard nothing but great things about Disney, always mixed reviews with other cruise lines. I was dreading the boarding process, but to be honest it was super easy, I completed everything online so we zipped through the check in process and was aboard the ship in a few minutes. They really stress hand washing and sanitizing throughout the cruise which is great practice. As you board the ship your asked your names and they announce you on the speaker and you pass the line up of bridge crew clapping and welcoming you aboard. We made our way to deck 2, just down 1 level from main lobby. It was 120pm and there was a roping off of the area to the cabins until 130pm as they were still finishing off getting the cabins ready. There were a few impatient people who at 131pm thought it was appropriate to start a hissy fit in front of kids cause it’s now 131pm. There were several staff zipping by with stateroom gift delivery, etc. By 134pm they were finished and opened the way for us to the cabins. Some people were already saying their vacation was ruined cause they needed to wait!?!? They just needed to calm down. We had an ocean view cabin mid ship, it was clean and welcoming and a little larger than expected. There was a big porthole with a great view. Love the way they separate the bathroom, toilet and sink in one and sink and shower in another. The bed was squishy and so comfortable as were the pillows. Lots of subtle Disney touches and the furnishings were tasteful and well maintained. Loved that their was a fridge. Air conditioning surprised me, was turned on low for cold but you couldn’t really feel anything. Room attendant came by to introduce himself and I asked him about the air, he said their eco friendly system does not blow strongly, just set your temperature and it will work subtly which it did. Tv was flat screen and swivels between facing the bed and sitting area. Had lots of informative ship channels and then a dozen Disney movie channels. Dining Choices; Deck 9 had the casual dining choices, Pinocchio’s Pizza, open till midnight had several combinations, I noticed they made gluten free ones on request. There was boiler bites, they offer hamburgers, fish burgers, Vege burgers, chicken tenders, hot dogs, chili dogs, Bratwursts, fries, chili fries and a Chicken, beef & lamb Shawarma with lots of toppings and sauces to choose from, delicious. There was a self service ice cream place on deck, they had chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and pineapple / coconut flavors and cones. Daisey’s De Lights became my favorite place, they offer toasted sandwiches, wraps, fresh fruit, salads, sandwiches and what appeared to be make your own Pho Bowles. I loved their sandwiches, either roast beef or my favorite smoked ham, the rolls were fresh and crusty yet soft, ham was tasty, onion jam was incredible and the lettuce was crunchy and tomato perfect, they are making them out the back a few at a time so they are always fresh. I indulged way to much here but they were always fresh. Cabanas is the buffet restaurant right at the back of the ship. Breakfast is from 7 or 730am some days to either 1030 or 11am, varies depending if it’s a day at sea or a shore day. Tip. There is seating for 500 people, 9am I’m told is when most people start coming to breakfast. We dined at opening most times, no waiting or queues. Their scrambled eggs were yummy, always a plain one and a special one. Usual breakfast buffet stuff. Apple, orange, cranberry and orchid juices available. Lunch here was good however closed at 2pm, we are from Vegas so we know buffets and this one was really good. Nice selection, delicious noodles I couldn’t get enough off, meats varied daily as did the hot carving choices. Staff here were helpful and super observant if you needed a hand. Room service was 24 hours, small menu including a few salads, sandwiches, soups,tenders and wings, etc. steak sandwich was exceptional. Drinks you pay for, meals are included. There is a breakfast card to complete and hang outside on your door before 3am it’s only a continental breakfast, we used it mainly to get grapefruit juice as it’s not in the buffet, with cereal and coffee, all breakfast drinks included. It was our pre breakfast pick me up. Disney offers rotational dining, you get to move to different dinner themed restaurants each night, every night a different menu, but your same table mates and server, assistant server and head server. They know you by name, they know your preferences, they have your drinks ready, etc. Our serving trio were all fantastic, they go out of their ways to make sure they are happy. Adorable little girl at the table next to us was a little shy on night one, but by night 2 she adored the wait staff, making her feel special and cutting her meat and making her treats, it was magical to watch. As far as the meals went they were fantastic, lots of variety and if you can’t choose then get both cause the menu is going to be different tomorrow. Bars; I liked the Crown & Fin British pub, went there for a drink or two after dinner. Cozy place, live entertainment most nights. They also do a light snack buffet, quesadillas, chicken wings, vegetable sticks, slider sized sandwiches, bite sized desserts. Bar staff here were very good. Cadillac bar next door was dimly lit, reminded me of an old piano bar, they had wines and cocktails here. There were other bars but we didn’t have time for those. Cove adult only area; Nice sized pool and 2 spas on deck, bar and coffee shop in the Cove adults only area. Coffee shop was nice, I enjoyed my frozen Frappuccinos here, you do pay here but you get a coffee card with 6th coffee free. They also have a complimentary dessert / slice display with some yummy goodies. I was up early around 5am the second morning, I went to deck 9 to the self service area, free soft drinks, tea, coffee and hit chocolate, as I wandered the ship there were dozens of staff members cleaning, all of them super friendly and saying hello, checking if I needed anything. They are happy with what they are doing, I chatted with several of them, many have been with Disney 10-15 years and say they are a fantastic employer who reallly takes care of them, which I’m glad to hear about. Disney is known for their customer service, nobody does fireworks like them, their shows, parades, musicals etc are incredible. Disney cruises are more expensive than others, but in my opinion well worth it, I’d rather put a trip off another year to save more for a Disney Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We came to San Diego for a Thanksgiving cruise and stayed at the Grand Horton Hotel for a great price. Nice historic hotel in Gas lamp district. Valet parking is $42. a night though. Glad a great dinner at Fleming's Steak House a ... Read More
We came to San Diego for a Thanksgiving cruise and stayed at the Grand Horton Hotel for a great price. Nice historic hotel in Gas lamp district. Valet parking is $42. a night though. Glad a great dinner at Fleming's Steak House a short walk away. We have been on 18 cruises with Princess and about 12 on other lines but had never been on Holland America. We parked at Wyndham Bayside and walked across the street to the ship. This is a midsized ship. There were short lines and embarked in about 15 minutes. Debarking was even shorter and about 10 minutes in customs!! The entire ship looks refurbished. Our room had new bed linens, curtains, carpeting, sofa, sofa pillows etc in a nice blue color. We had a balcony room. This room is a bit smaller than we were used to but in great condition. Loved the on demand movies. Customer service was excellent on the entire ship. Food was great in main dining room and LOVED Caneletto's Italian and ate there twice. Also loved Pinacle Grill for great steak dinner. Really good room service and had the buffet a couple of times. They have great entertainment choices. We loved Billboard for the dueling pianos with a lot of variety. BB King was very good and Lincoln Center had classical music. Shows at the main stage were average or better. Most people dressed up for formal (Gala) nights - 2. Had a fun tour in Mazatlan - Shrimp Fest. Beautiful grounds, live music, pool to get into, margaritas and great food. Hardly any one at champagne art auction. Usually there are 200 - 300 people at these. Only about 25 people. Between us and our friends we won 3 bottle of good champagne!! All in all a great cruise that we will take again!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
I booked this cruise as a gift for my niece. Due to health issues, neither one of us can fly. Embarking from San Diego, where we live was perfect. My niece, who is 48 years old is a Disney maniac. Halloween on the High Seas was a ... Read More
I booked this cruise as a gift for my niece. Due to health issues, neither one of us can fly. Embarking from San Diego, where we live was perfect. My niece, who is 48 years old is a Disney maniac. Halloween on the High Seas was a bonus. She has recently been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Life span for her, living out of a facility is 12-18 months. This was perfect timing. I tried to book a handicapped cabin, but they were taken, so we booked a verandah cabin 7106. I arranged wheelchair assist for embark and debark. This experience was awesome. From the time we walked through the port doors, throughout the cruise, and debarkation, every crew member did everything they could to make it easy for her, and a memorable experience. I hope Disney continues these repo itineraries because I plan to take my granddaughter next time. We can't say enough about how thankful we are for everything from Disney. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Celebrity Infinity May 2017 Background- Total of about 35 cruises, ~30 with Celebrity, last few were all on Solstice class ships. Route-We started in San Diego and moved up the coast ending in Vancouver, 7 stops in 11 nights, also ... Read More
Celebrity Infinity May 2017 Background- Total of about 35 cruises, ~30 with Celebrity, last few were all on Solstice class ships. Route-We started in San Diego and moved up the coast ending in Vancouver, 7 stops in 11 nights, also doing an overnight in San Francisco, each city stunning in its own right. They couldn’t have picked a better itinerary, and we were only touched by rain one time in our journey which lasted about an hour, luckily that was on a sea day, so it affected nothing other than missing an hour in a lounge chair Boarding Boarding in San Diego was hectic. Two ships Infinity and Disney Magic) were boarding the same day and port didn’t seem well equipped to handle more than one. Once we made it past the security screening all was fine and smooth but did take about 1-2 hours to get to that point. We purposely arrived later in the day to avoid crowds (boarding started about 11, we arrived at 2), but still chaotic. 6/10 (but Celebrity’s portion 9/10) Cabin I initially booked a C3 for this voyage bit a few weeks before a Suite Guarantee became available for a nominal $600 so I grabbed it since it also included the 4 perks, so I ended up in an S2 on deck 6. The room was nicely maintained and updated (Infinity was refurbished in 2011), and carpets were changed again 2 years ago. The Sky suites are a bit smaller on the Millenium class that the Solstice class (250 vs 300ft2), but plenty of room for two people. Small balcony as well with a few chairs was great. Only negative I found with the suite was the combination bathtup/showers limited height. If you are tall it’s a bit awkward, as is just climbing in the high wall of the tub. Heard a few people that had sky and Celebrity suites complain unless you are tall it’s hard to climb into the tub/shower. Plenty of closet space, drawers and storage, so much so that I only used about ½ of it. Did like the little touches, the plush bath towels, great sheets, and that the room attendant and butler introduced themselves the first day. Cabin service was excellent. Never used the room service, but cabin was serviced twice a day and butler checked in 3x a day, and canapes delivered daily at about 4PM 9/10 Excursions Took two of the ships excursions and good ROI (return on investment on both). We visited the Reagan library in Santa Barbara and whale watching in Victoria. The tendering operation was a bit frustrating for some as we tendered in two ports, and some were getting antsy about the lines, but I think that’s just a part of cruising. Always amazed how crabby some people get over little things beyond their control. I do wish they would re-write the explanations on excursions details though. It just seems like every excursions details include two much flowery generic prose that could be found in a tourist publication and not really any nuts and bolts detail of nuts & bolts of the tour (how much time will we spend on bus, what places are we visiting, are we going to be sidetracked to a pottery place to try and sell us trinkets?). I wish it was more of a bulleted time line of what, where, when and how long. 7/10 Food & Dining Main Trellis Dining Room-Didn’t try it Sushi on 5-Didn’t try it Blu- Tried it once enjoyed it-Seemed to me to be a mini-me version of the MDR with smaller portions and a few different selections, nicer more intimate atmosphere than MDR. 7/10 Luminae-We dined the majority of our meals here. Can’t say any negatives about it. Truly a 100% positive experience. Service OUTSTANDING, by the second day everyone on staff knows your name and has the atmosphere of a place you’ve been dining out for decades. Food well prepared, original, seasoned and cooked to order. Their recommendations were generally spot on. The menu consisted of about 4 or 5 appetizer/soup/salad dishes and about the same in main courses. You could also order off the MDR menu if something didn’t catch your eye, but most meals I found the Luminae selection to be the better quality choice. Not even once did I find myself waiting for service, a course, or a table. Efficient, friendly and great attention is given to everything. Only open on sea days for lunch which makes sense, since when they have tried to keep it open every day (on past cruises), as it sits empty unless it’s a sea day. 10/10 Qsine-It’s a fun playful experience and you always end up with a lot more food than you can ever imagine. My only negative is that since you use the Ipads to select your dishes, would it be two difficult to have them connected to the waiter? It just seems silly that put all these inputs into a computer and ultimately the waiter comes and writes them down on a slip of paper. Bravo to Qsine for the way they handle vegan/vegetarian dishes. One person in our party, preferred vegan/vegetarian, and for just about every dish we ordered that contained meat or seafood, he offered our friend a meat/dairy/etc/etc/etc free version of the same or similar items. Truly astounded me on how the waiter kept track of the ultimately 20+ or so different dishes that he bought the three of us. 8/10 Tuscan Grille-It was awesome, had dinner one night with Captain and 8 other guests, and last night dined with the Hotel Director and three friends, and it was fabulous. I savored every bite of every dish. Filet Mignon was fantastic (as for the brown mushroom sauce for it), the plate on Antipasto (prosciutto, sopressata, salami and cheeses was heavenly). Again in Tuscan my one friend’s dietary requests were adjusted to give him alternates to the meat heavy menu. The establishment itself has a great ambience, nice old world Italian steak house design. Service was attentive but not overbearing. Like Luminae it’s a great restaurant to have a conversation in. Tables and seating are set up so you’re not having to raise your voice to speak at someone at the other end. 10/10 Oceanview Grill- Ate their twice for breakfast and a few times for lunch It’s hit or miss. I like the salads, fresh fruit and ice cream. Pizza’s are limp right out of the oven rather than crisp (I’m used to New York pizza which the Gold standard), a few of the dishes were good, but nothing really memorable. They do a great job of bussing tables, and making sure people aren’t waiting for tables. 8/10 Bars & Lounges-Great smiling faces at them all. Most of the cruise critic events were held at the Constellation Lounge on deck 11. Especially though that Istavan from Hungary was fantastic. Superb fun bartending group overall. Erik and Dian fantastic at Michaels club. Didn’t spend much time at sunset or martini bar though, so hard to give you good feedback on those. 9/10 Entertainment Was fun that they did the silent disco a few times, I think it’s a slam dunk win even if you don’t participate, and just watch the fun. Alejandro did a good job, and the activities team really seemed to enjoy getting people involved in everything from bingo, to trivia, to mock game shows. Always enjoy the Celebrity dancers and singers, the material is usually dated, but their vigor and enthusiasm makes it fun to watch. Liked some of the guest performers, magician was funny, and always fun when you see them tailor their act to audience a bit, and make it interactive. 7/10 Spa Tried an 80 minute massage, it was OK. They always try for the upsell though. 80 minute massage DISCOUNTED rate was ~$200, then if you want hot stones during it, that’s ~$30 more. I’m a massage junkie at home, and this was pretty good but not very good 6/10 Crew In a word-OUTSTANDING. Captain Berdos and Hotel Director(HD) Bosco Pires work together like a well oiled machine. Their personalities are similar and I think so is their work ethic, excellence performance. I can’t say enough good things about them and their management style. Rest of the department heads outstanding as well. The housekeeping manager, the F&B director, guest relations manager, restaurant managers all go out of their way to keep passengers happy. Kirsty the Captains club host also spectacular as was the event coordinator. The excellence of the senior managers rolls down to the staff which seems totally engaged in guest satisfaction. The senior staff attended every event that we had from Captains Club to CC, to informal gatherings, and were always asking what they can do to make things better. Great sign of an engaged group of men and women. One of the stories I heard from the HD I thought was surprising. He told me he found being a HD on a Millenium class ship more challenging then on a Solstice class ship. I would of though since Solstice having more dining venues, more passengers, more lounges and staterooms it would be tougher. He went on to eloquently explain that because the Solstice class ships have all the “bells and whistles” (my words not his, his explanation was much more poetic), it makes it easier from a guest relations standpoint. The older ships it takes some extra marketing and extra effort to make them a competitor, and he enjoys that extra challenge of showing any product he is currently serving aboard. Really enjoyed our talks as much as the meals. 10/10 Overall-I’d give the cruise 5 stars. Any minor things I pointed out were minor in comparison to all the great things that the team onboard does to keep you happy. You know it’s been an excellent cruise when you’re two biggest complaints were that Voicemail in my room didn’t work Internet was slow I already have my next voyage booked on Infinity for February of 2018, so see I put my money where my mouth is I’ll end the review with this story the Captain read on the public address system the last day, it’s called “Why I want to be a Captain” and was written by an 10 year old British boy. “I want to be a captain when I grow up because it’s a cool job that is easy to do. Captains don’t have to go to school such a long time. They only need to learn figures so they can read instruments. I think they also have to able to read maps so they don’t get lost when they sail. Captains have to be brave so they don’t get scared when it’s so foggy they can’t see and when the propeller falls off they have to know what to do about it. Captains must have eyes that can see through the clouds and they mustn’t be afraid of thunder and lightning which they have closer to them than we have. The captain’s wages is another thing I like. They earn more money than they can spend. That’s because most people think it’s dangerous to driver a boat, except captains, because they know how easy it is. There’s not much I don’t like, except that girls like captains. All girls want to marry a captain, so captains are always having to chase them away to get some peace… I hope I don’t get seasick, because if I get seasick I can’t be a captain and I’ll have to start working.” Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
we have a 2 yr old and would also love to have a getaway ..so what did we decide on? what better vacation than a cruise?! With a toddler in tow, we knew we wanted something convenient and easy travel. Therefore we decided on a cruise. ... Read More
we have a 2 yr old and would also love to have a getaway ..so what did we decide on? what better vacation than a cruise?! With a toddler in tow, we knew we wanted something convenient and easy travel. Therefore we decided on a cruise. three years ago i had a blast on the Disney Fantasy and i knew someday i would like to cruise with disney again. We live in san diego, so we knew we wanted to depart from the San Diego port -- and to make sure the little one likes cruises, we decided on the Disney Wonder 2 nights cruise. It departs from San Diego which makes our lives that much more easier (because it's not so fun flying with a toddler). Disney definitely knows how to cater to families. When i was on the Disney Fantasy three yrs ago, i already had a lot of fun (and that was without a baby). So to go on Disney cruise with a toddler it made it even more special because it met all our expectation. I didnt have to carry so many thing around. All i had with me was the room key. Food, drinks, and snacks everywhere. When my toddler was hungry, i have access to pizza, chicken tenders, soups, cookies soft serve and more. When thirsty, Disney had whole milk dispenser, water, and juices easy for anyone to get a cup to quench their thirst. For entertainment, no need to question about disney, you know they will have great entertainment for adults and kids! from family activities, to kids only, to adults only shows. For a two nights cruise, they even kept their Pirates night -- fireworks on the sea followed by a late night buffet / snack. it was awesome. I didn't think they would include the pirate's night for a 2 night cruise.. i thought they only have that on longer cruises. The employees / staffs... c'mon it's Disney, you know you will meet friendly and polite staffs. You will definitely get one of the best services with this cruise line. Bottomline, 2 nights cruise is not enough to be honest. but it is a great getaway for parents with kids and who are local. yes Disney cruise is expensive but you get what you pay for. And for me that's totally worth it. Knowing that you will get great service, superb cleanliness and incredible entertainment. Definitely was a stress free vacation even though it was only for two nights. Going on this 2 nights cruise was less stress for me than going to hawaii for 1 week (even though hawaii is known for paradise). LOVED the dining experience. a rotation of dining at different restaurants so guests can experience different themed restaurants that the cruise offers. the waiters who serves you follows to each night so you get the same server. which i love because by 2nd night the server knows what you like and dislike. they even have your drink ready on the table by the 2nd night! love it! and yes of course with disney there will always be some magic touches! i highly recommend this itinerary for those who live in SoCal and who wish to have take their children on a disney cruise. I'm no Disney fanatic, but i'm definitely a Disney CRUISE fan! i am hooked!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Cruising out of San Diego, CA has the benefits of a clean well run cruise terminal, a beautiful city and every tourist accommodation. Still, the first and last two days on board are spent reaching the Sea of Cortez, and the times we have ... Read More
Cruising out of San Diego, CA has the benefits of a clean well run cruise terminal, a beautiful city and every tourist accommodation. Still, the first and last two days on board are spent reaching the Sea of Cortez, and the times we have done it, the weather has been mild but not tropical. Our stateroom was nicely appointed, although on the small side for verandah rooms on high end ships today. Concierge service (in fact, all service) was very pleasant and helpful. Room was kept moore neat than clean. "Extra charges" and sales promotions are held to a pleasant minimum, as are PA system announcements. Food was quite good and quite varied too. Long lines and crowds were usually well controlled, with some exceptions. Boarding the vessel in San Diego involved standing in a long long line, wishing we had signed for a suite. Oddly, debarking was a model of quick and painless re-uniting with luggage, passport control and customs. Four elevators (two forward, two aft) usually worked efficiently but not when events opened or ended. Reservations at specialty restaurants (there are just two) seemed to fill up quite fast, almost before we left San Diego. Flexible dining meant a line at the dining room early on, with no line an hour later but by then, sometimes having to miss the entertainment. Azamazing - the evening party and piece de resistance - was in fact as amazing as anything I might have conjured up. If you go, do not miss it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was my family's first cruise and we were not disappointed. In fact, we were surprised at how attentive the staff was and how well-cared-for we felt. We had no pre-conceptions or notions as to how cruises generally were so we ... Read More
This was my family's first cruise and we were not disappointed. In fact, we were surprised at how attentive the staff was and how well-cared-for we felt. We had no pre-conceptions or notions as to how cruises generally were so we were surprised at all of the niceties and courtesies we were given while on the cruise and at ports. We have decided cruising is the most bang for the buck because there would be no way a family of 5 could stay for 7 nights, have at least 3 meals a day, attend events and shore excursions and basically have your every wish granted. It was a real eye opener. I mean, sure, there will be times where we'll want to travel to one destination and spend more than a day there but it was perfect to get a sampling of the Mexican Riviera for a day and then go back to OUR ship and get comfortable again. It becomes a proprietary thing, when you feel you belong to a ship and a ship belongs to you. We feel that way about the Westerdam but we're definitely going to give the rest of Holland America's fleet a chance. We're already getting ready to book our next annual family vacation with HAL. I also think I would consider a quick getaway for my husband and me aboard HAL, too. Holland America is definitely a destination for every family of every type - small, large, empty-nesters, etc... So glad we chose Holland America!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast ... Read More
Beautiful San Diego,We arrived 1 day early, Dec 3rd, Watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.There was the evening Christmas Parade. The King's Inn, authentic Mexican food for dinner next door. Embarkation at 1.00pm was very fast and our luggage was in our room within the hour.Correction, my luggage was missing, regardless We headed up to Lido Deck 8 like veteran cruisers for lunch...Asian curry noodles and rice quite authentic. Checked with Security where my bag was held and my small travel iron was confiscated until Ensenada.You can not pack extension cords either. My cabin was Ocean View 3343 mid deck, near the Clock Tower Atrium....which was beautifully Xmas decorated with gingerbread houses, train set.Christmas trees lights.. Cabin was great,, quiet and equidistant both ends of the Amsterdam, La Fontaine Dining room and Queens Lounge..Must mention that my Cabin Stewards Agus and Made were warm, friendly and unobtrusive, kept the cabin very clean and tidy. I look forward to the Towel Art and be surprised every evening. All the ports were excellent, You are in Paradise, The ship excursions were pretty good but We decided to rent a car where We can and explore the islands on our own. HAL ships' ON LOCATION .We had Kainoa who gave us lectures on Hawaiian Culture, History and personal stories of the islands, advice,maps, guidelines to plan your day ashore,the many places to see,and shore excursions. There were the Hula Dancers performances and Hula lessons.Ukulele lessons,Hawaiian Lei making classes ,....A deeper Hawaiian experience. Dec 4th, 5 lovely fun filled sea days,This beautiful ship had fresh flowers everywhere. I read books by Dean Koontz and Jeffrey Archer in The Exploration Cafe Library. Dec 10th, HONOLULU (Oahu). We took the bus transit to Hanauma Bay, for swimming and snorkeling,Not environmentally correct to walk on the coral and rocks,then a long walk on Waikiki Beach, and some shopping for a Ukulele (Better buy on Amazon). i've been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial before .. there wasn't enough time to do more. HILO (Hawaii) Dec 11th..We drove up to Mauna Kea (13 796 ft) At 9200 ft,The Onizuka Center, the road to the summit was blocked off because of frozen ice, so We decided to drive South to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.(original plan was to do this from Kona) Moana Loa was spewing lava before the mist covered everything. Took a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. At the shoreline of black lava fields, Kilauea was actively erupting lava into the sea, shooting massive plumes of smoke and ashes into the sky that can bee seen from afar. Next day, Dec 12th KONA, There was no car rental shuttle.It's USD28 to get to the car rental and USD28 back so no car rental. We did the Hop On for USD15 each,At the beach stop,James went snorkeling with his Go Pro and I walked the tidal pools and beaches.Saw 5 turtles and lots of yellow fishes..James did the Atlantis submarine (USD85).while I went shopping. 6 packs of Macadamia nut chocs ($24) at Target and Ross is my favorite for bargain hunting, shoes, dresses and fine Italian soap.(Bulgari 100ml parfum $30). Dec 13th NAWILIWILI (Kauai). We drove through Lihue to Waimea Canyon,The Grand Canyon of Hawaii.Don't just stop here, keep on driving to the very end of the road and from here you can see the North shore of the island, the jagged cliffs overlooking the sea.here was where they filmed Jurassic Park. A stop at Wailua Falls, there was a rainbow, before heading back to the ship. Dec 14th LAHAINA (Maui). Make sure your car rental pick-up is at JHM Airport.(not Kahului Airport which is too far from Lahaina) and the last car rental shuttle return to pier is 4.00pm ($20 cab return to Pier at 6.30pm). Drove up to Hakeakala National Park, dormant volcano, elevation 10,024 ft. We were above the clouds !!!! Nature enthusiasts would love the unique flora , silver swords. THE ROAD TO HANA, yes, We decided to do partway of this road, time permitting because We don't know when We'll be back this way again, just to say "We were there.". Narrow winding road through rain forest.Stopped at a fruit stand, On the way back, We went to the beach to watch the surfers.I had a Maui shave ice for $5, don't do that, not natural flavoring, inedible I had to throw away. It's my birthday, the dining room staff sang a Happy Happy song, which also works for anniversaries or anything else (I speak the language) and also a Birthday cake. If they sang in reverse, Am I one year younger You think? The 5 sea days to Ensenada, Mexico Dec20th, a seaside town with a wet fish market, lots of touristsy shops.Had a walk around and back to the ship for TEA., delicious scones with berries preserve and clotted cream.Earl Grey. Dec 21st, San Diego.Last breakfast.Disembark,Took the shuttle to the airport USD10. The HiGH POINT of this wonderful and special cruise was the Scenic Sailing of Kilauea Volcano 10.00pm.I videoed from the ship's bow.The lava flowing into the sea, bright orange red spewing up against the dark night.Lots of steam and smoke. Captain Fred Eversen is cool. The Amsterdam Dancers and Singers and the other entertainers were Super Excellent. The Culinary Art Centre was standing room only, Lots of activities like Trivia and stuff.... Cruise director guys were cool. The food was Excellent and ALL the staff did their best to make this an amazing wonderful cruise. I did not win the $25,000 Bingo, ;( I did not win the Cruise Bingo. ;( Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I’m a 34 year old male who traveled solo on the Norwegian Sun for the full-ship charter called the Groove Cruise. The charter was from October 28 to November 2, 2016. This was my 36th cruise and 23rd time with Norwegian. I had been on ... Read More
I’m a 34 year old male who traveled solo on the Norwegian Sun for the full-ship charter called the Groove Cruise. The charter was from October 28 to November 2, 2016. This was my 36th cruise and 23rd time with Norwegian. I had been on the Norwegian Sun previously in 2008. I’ve tried out other cruise lines including Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. What follows is a review of the cruise and some mentions of entertainment as they were experienced. Embarkation: San Diego The embarkation was better compared to this past Miami Groove Cruise on Norwegian Pearl. There was a miscommunication between the port security, port check in vendor and the NCL corporate security team about NCL’s wine and champagne policy at the beginning. SMS who does their port side operations worked with the other two to get this problem straightened out and a table was setup to pay the corkage fee. NCL was trying not to honor their wine and champagne carry-on policy clearly stated on their website. No information saying this wouldn’t be allowed on charters was ever provided to guests. NCL also on this sailing would not honor the soda package which they did offer on the Norwegian Pearl in January because “it was a charter.” Not sure what NCL’s corporate policy changes at the last minute were trying to accomplish but at the beginning of embark it caused some tense moments in the embark terminal. Once the wine and champagne was worked out, the rest of the embarkation was smooth and efficient. Day 1: San Diego Touring the Ship: The Norwegian Sun is an older ship in the Norwegian fleet. She had just been in a shortened technical dry dock earlier this year so her carpeting was refreshed and overall she looked amazing. The Sun staff do a remarkable job keeping her looking fresh. Given that it was a music charter, the crew had to remove chairs from venues to make room for dancing. Dazzles tables and chairs were emptied out and so were the chairs on the main floor in the theater. The remaining chairs in the theater were covered with plastic sheeting to protect them from any spills. The observation lounge was transformed into a chill lounge with a large blow up igloo. It fit nicely into the lounge and made for some great late night relaxing moments. The pool deck was transformed into a dance venue with production equipment featuring LED walls, sound and lighting. The Great Outdoors venue was cleared of tables and chairs mostly to allow for dancing as the sunset sessions and after hours stages were located here. Stateroom: Oceanview 7007: The ocean view cabin was in great shape. Everything functioned as it should. The cabin steward did a great job of keeping it tidy. A bar of soap was provided in the bathroom besides the normal body wash and shampoo dispenser located in the shower. Due to the previous cruise taking longer to disembark, it put getting the pool stage setup behind schedule. Once it was setup music for the day could be found from Dannic, Thomas Newson and Bamboora. By night the ship transformed itself into a wonderland of glow and glitter as the night’s theme was Shine! This theme is always amazingly creative but always makes me feel bad for the crew as glitter is everywhere! Tonight’s main entertainment featured the sounds of Solidisco, Feenixpawl, EDX and Dancetronauts in the main theater. Other venues on the ship going at night included the casino and the silent disco in Las Ramblas. Day 2: SEA DAY Sleep is hard to come by on Groove Cruise. If you’re getting too much sleep then you’re not doing it right. After about 4 hours of sleep it was time to start day 2 of GC and head to the on-going after hours located at the Great Outdoors with sounds from Pirupa, Mendo and Jaime Narvaez. A standard breakfast buffet was served in the buffet. The main pool stage started up around 11AM with the sounds of Kristina Sky. The day would continue under the sun with the sounds of Kryder and Tom Starr back to back along with Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano. The fun really started when the sunset with live beats from Goldfish who played saxophone right on the pool deck with the beats. This set was amazing! EDX and Antonio Giacca wrapped up the pool deck stage. At 3PM, a giant Twister game was in the sports court. It had a lot of attendees and was a ton of fun. Since it overlooked the pool stage in the basketball court, you were not out of ear shot or visual site of all the action going on poolside. Day time theme was Baby Blue & Pink Party (wear blue or pink). Once the sun had set it was time for the theater to get going along with Dazzles Disco and the Silent Disco in Las Ramblas. Tonight’s entertainment featured the sounds of Bamboora, Thomas Newson, Dannic, Paris and Simo, Monoky, Lujan, Doc Brown & many more supporting artists. The theater was the hopping venue for the night until it closed about 5AM. Tonight’s night theme was dress up like your favorite Celebrity. Many unofficial themes would be had this night. I dressed up as a Minion because they’re a celebrity too! Day 3: CABO SAN LUCAS – DAY 1 After grabbing about four hours of sleep, I rejoined the last couple of hours at the Great Outdoors where the Abyss by Incorrect had moved to. During the early morning hours until Noon featured the music of Anthony Attalla and Cocodrills. Since our arrival was scheduled for Noon into Cabo, there was a few hours of music provided poolside by DMorse and Doc Brown. Doc Brown continued to play pool side until 3PM – well beyond our arrival into Cabo. The party then moved off the ship to ME Cabo. This beach resort hotel had an expansive pool space. Extra equipment was brought in to make it a party for Groove Cruise and it went from 1PM until Midnight with the sounds of Scotty Boy, Croatia Squad, Jonas Blue, Robin Schulz, Denney, Sian and DUBFIRE who was the lead for the night party. The all day theme was Groove Cruise 3000 but it turned more into a pool party day and night. After midnight the party moved to Breathless Cabo which was closer to the tender pier. The night kicked off with the sounds of Lavelle Dupree and continued with Shaun Frank, Dean Mason and featured artist Lost Kings. Between the two venues, I liked the layout of Breathless Cabo more. Less guests went to the Breathless party as there was also an after hours going on the ship. Abyss by Incorrect this night featured the sounds of Toolroom artists Weiss, Mark Knight, Prok and Fitch and closed out with Sydney Blu. DAY 4: CABO The party moved back to the ship around 4AM but I returned about 2AM. When I woke up, Prok and Fitch was still playing at the Great Outdoors. The pool deck stage got going around 11AM and stayed active until the ship weighed anchor and headed back for San Diego. The biggest entertainer of the afternoon was Fedde LeGrand. Since it was Halloween Day, it was Halloween costumes both day and night for the themes. Tonight was the best night of the cruise in my opinion. Trance all night in the Stardust Theater from Adam Scott, Kristina Sky, Orjan Nilsen, Gareth Emery and Super 8 & Tab. It was an amazing night in the theater with friends both old and new on Groove Cruise. Gareth Emery’s set was everything in the world that night. Loved every last minute of it. Orjan Nilsen through down a mean set as well. Kristina Sky is an up and coming artist from the West Coast and her sets are just amazing. It’s my third time experiencing her style on Groove Cruise. DAY 5: SEA DAY Technically the day began a midnight when I was still in the theater until about 4AM. The day began with the Devils and Angels daytime theme only Mother Nature was not cooperating as it was cold, windy and not so sunny. After hours was again on the back deck at the Great Outdoors as it was the most sheltered from the wind. The wind would mess up the main pool stage as well and cause removal of the LED walls. The wind didn’t stop us! Klingande’s playground was on the chilly pool deck all afternoon and while the theme may have been devils and angels, people resorted to onesies to keep warm but still dance. Afternoon beats included sets from Solidisco, Moon Boots, Klingande, SNBRN, Shaun Frank and Stanton Warriors. After a lovely dinner in the mid-ship Four Seasons main dining room, it was time to grab some serious sleep! Sleep is hard to come by on Groove Cruise and you must get some sleep before disembark day. I slept until 2:30AM and got up to catch the last of Audien’s set in the theater before heading upstairs to the Great Outdoors for the closing classics party with Chocolate Puma, DJ Dan and lastly DSK CHK as we were tying up the ropes to the pier in San Diego. DAY 6: DISEMBARK Foreign guests were required to go to the Observation Lounge between 6A and 8A to present themselves to customs. Some guests were not paying attention and this caused delays for everyone else trying to get off the boat. Since the music had stopped, some guests had gone back to their cabin and fell asleep. Disembarkation took much longer than anticipated running well after 11AM. When I did finally get off the ship and clear customs, the lines had abated. NCL did the best they could with disembark given how sleep deprived the guests were. SUMMARY Overall this review was more about the Groove Cruise experience instead of an actual review of the Norwegian Sun. Groove Cruise has many ways to save including the usage of codes like GCVIRGIN which help both new and returning guests. The crew on the Sun were happy to see us and had a blast right alongside us. Service was amazing the whole trip from the dining room to bar staff to guest services. While the food served in the Four Seasons main dining room was a bit salty sometimes, the new fleet menu had various tasty selections. Crew members who were not generally working because the cruise ship did not need production cast, other entertainers and youth counselors were out and about and being helpful for a few hours a day. You would see them with us having a great time too! Minus the Norwegian Cruise Line corporate office trying to change the wine and champagne policy for charters and changing the policy about the soda package on charters, Groove Cruise Cabo was a great success! In case you did not know the Groove Cruise sails twice a year, West Coast in October and Miami in January! Looking forward to the next Groove Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016

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