12-20-02 Norwegian Sun Western Caribbean Christmas Cruise
Embarkation and disembarkation
Wow, this went great, no line at all at 11:30am. Norwegian has their act together here. This was our 6th cruise and the best organized in this area. I think a lot of this is timing and we did take advantage of pre-registering on the Internet to have as much of the paper work done in advance.
Before we went we saw such a variety of comments (good and bad) regarding this subject. We weren’t sure what to expect. It might be helpful to just list some of the likes and dislikes.
What we liked:
a. Enjoyed going to the dining room when you wanted (less of the feeling of eating with the masses). You learn that families with children eat early and the busiest time is 7pm.
b. We were always able to get a two top (very nice). It was a full cruise and did not have to wait one time.
c. Made reservations at LeBistro for Christmas and enjoyed the food and service very much.
d. The staff was very friendly, we read some earlier comments about trouble in this area but we thought the staff was great.
What we did not like:
a. Did not like having to wait in line at 8am to get reservations in the alternate dining rooms.
b. The wait staff does not know your likes and dislikes like on other ships. If this is important to you let the dining room know and they will seat you at the same table each night.
c. I think the service is not quite up to par because the tipping is done automatically (so the wait staff does not work for the tips).
d. At talks and waiting for tours, we both felt like we were trying to be sold “extras” constantly throughout the cruise (which annoyed us both). Items like drinks, t-shirts, photos, excursions, dining charges, future cruises, etc…
Grand Cayman –
We took and enjoyed the NCL excursion to Stingray City and had a lot of fun.
1) Since this is such a popular excursion there were two groups, book the early one, they ran late and the second group had to wait around and I’m sure did not have time to do anything else.
2) We should have taken the advice from other comments on the board to go with a smaller group (like Captain Morgan’s). It was Christmas and with other ships in port it was very busy. The poor stingrays were way outnumbered.
3) If you take any underwater pictures you can send them to Kodak “sea processing” in Ft. Lauderdale and they take a lot of the extra “blue” out of the picture (makes them look professional).
Belize City –
We took the NCL “wildlife” excursion and as it turns out was probably the highlight of the cruise.
The excursion went to the Belize Zoo to see all the wildlife of the area and then we boarded a boat to search for howler monkeys, crocks and iguanas along the river on the way back to the port… it was exciting to see the animals in the wild.
1) Belize City is a long tender ride in from the ship (because of the barrier reef) so you will not be able to tender in and out like in most ports. Be sure to bring what you need for the day.
2) The port area has the same old stuff so this is a good port to do an excursion (diving, tubing or wildlife).
3) There is a nice bar to the left of the port area where you can sit on the second floor terrace, drink Belican Beer and watch the harbor.
We read a lot of bad comments about Roatan so we weren’t expecting much. It turned out to be fun, we did the beach break at Las Palmas, shopping, iguana/fish farm.
Items of advice,
1) Do an excursion in this port or you probably will be disappointed (not much to do at the dock).
2) Bring a day bag with towels (sign out on ship), insect repellant (deet), suntan lotion. The “no see ums” were out in full force.
We’ve been to Cozumel and Mexico a bunch of times so we just walked around and did the Atlantis submarine. The submarine was fun but expensive (88.00). We saw barracuda, sponges, and stingray and went about 120 ft below. It was expensive but well run and we enjoyed it.
We also were on this cruise, we had a good time, but found NCL lacking in too many areas to give them any further business! This was our second time on NCL and found the concept of freestyle cruising admirable, but the execution poor. My wife just posted our review on Cruise-Addicts.com if anyone is interested!
Just read your wife's review. It interesting how different cruisers see different things when cruising. The Sun is one of the NCL ships that very rarely gets a bad review, both from the pros or the past passengers. This was not true a year or so ago, but since about April most everyone has had praise for her. The reference to the entertainment was the biggest surprise. NCL is noted for good entertainment, especially the Jean Ryan company. It isn't always to my liking as I find some of the productions a bit too contempory for my old lady tastes but overall think the talent is great. Sorry the Sun didn't meet your expectations. Also shocked at your disasterous embarkation. We found both embarkation and debarkation the best by far of any line we have cruised on. Nita