We sailed the Norwegian Sky to Alaska a couple of years ago and it was fantastic. I think you need to take all the opinions you read on these forums (including mine) with a grain of salt. Everybody has different ideas and likes/dislikes.
I read reviews where people are upset because the cabin steward didn't make animals out of towels (I don't know why that's so important but I read it a lot). Or no chocolate buffet at midnight (the Sky did have that). To me these type of items are totally unimportant on a cruise but to others it is important. Neither is right or wrong...just different. So you have to decide what's going to be important to you.
I believe you were wise in choosing a balcony. You want to be able to see as much scenery as possible. The whole route is awsome.
Have you cruised before? If not than you will not be disappointed in the ship I'm sure.
As I recall on the Sky the pools were heated although they had salt water in them. And they were not covered so weather will come into play. I believe the Sun will be very similar (with cabins a tad bigger I think).
The following year we sailed the same route on the HAL ms Zaandam. To me the cruise experience was almost identical. Maybe the Zaandam was a tad nicer. But it was also more expensive. And I liked some things on the Sky more.
We love the Freestyle on NCL. Many don't. Again, personal likes.
My advice is don't cancel the cruise. IMHO (grain of salt remember) is that any cruise to Alaska will be terrific regardless of the ship or line you choose.
And maybe you'll get lucky and have a steward that makes towel animals. : ^ )
We just sailed the Inside Passage cruise on the Sun last week and were generally pleased. We have only sailed once before, so I can't make valid comparisons, but here are a few observations.
The Sun was not what you would consider "upscale." Most cruisers seemed to be middle-class people who appreciated the relaxed freestyle concept. We just wanted to relax and view the scenery, scheduling meals when it was convenient for us and not caring to dress for dinner each evening.
With 9 restaurant choices, we had no trouble getting a table when we wanted. Menus are posted each day, and we made our reservations after seeing them. (The menus for the speciality restaurants never change.) Frankly, we were pleased almost every day with the choices in the main dining rooms, and ate nearly all our meals there. The food was fine, by our standards. Although we didn't form the bond with the wait staff like we would have on a traditional cruise, we still felt well taken care of. (We tried the Garden Cafe/Outdoor Cafe for lunch once, but didn't care for the atmosphere because of the long lines, noise, etc., but our friends ate several meals there and were pleased.)
We found the staff competent and courteous, and enjoyed several activities and shows. We were on a budget and decided to spend the $$ on shore excursions rather than our room. We chose the category I inside room, and were surprised that it was larger than the outside room we had on our last cruise. We never used the pools or hot tubs, but we noted that the temperatures of each were posted on the TV each day. They appeared to us to be well-maintained.
I can understand why NCL and Freestyle get criticized. Those people who want their vacation to be a special time and want the formality that some cruises offer would not enjoy NCL. It all boils down to what you are looking for in a vacation and what you are used to at home. We are simple folks from a rural area who wanted to get away and relax. NCL worked great for us. Those with higher expectations might want to avoid it.
Ellis, I have no idea where you are getting your info or what posts you are reading, but most Sun reviews are very positive and have been since day one. Probably of all the NCL ship it's gets the best reviews. Read the reviews from the professional reviewers. You will always get those who are unhappy for whatever reason and find bashing to be the way to get their point across. NCL does not market themselves as being upscale but does offer, probably the best entertainment on the high seas. The choice of dining times and availability of dining choices is what makes this line stand out from others. Many lines are following, but none offer the choices NCL offers. We had a balc cabin on the Sun in 2002. It is not huge, but quite comfortable with plenty of storage and closet space unless you are bringing 3 trans atlantic trunks with you. If this is the case, that is your problem. I am sure you are not. > I have yet to cruise an NCL ship where the staff overall was not exceptionally friendly and helpful. Exceptions to every rule of course. The food is good to very good with the alternative dining rooms being very good to outstanding. I would say the service from time to time can be a bit unpredictable and inconsistant. Only on occassions. Shore excusions are wonderful though we choose to book independently as a rule. I hope this helps you to relax. Any cruise is what you and you alone make it. If you have any more questions please email me.
Thanks. You all have made me feel better about my choice. Both my husband and I hate to dress up for dinner, and I like a bunch of different varieties of foods. Our main goals on the trip is to relax, not have to drive, and to see beautiful mountains. I chose a balcony because I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and would like to still have a view just in case I can't move one or two days.
And yeah, all the professional reviews were positive. The stuff that scared me were the ones from people saying the ship was filthy, or it was a nightmare.
Since we used to cross country ski, we have the 'layered, wind-proof, water repellent' stuff we'll need. I'll stop reading reviews now.
I f the Sun is filthy is anyones mind, I would like to know what they saw that we didn't. For along time there was a squeeky banister railing which, for some reason they couldn't or wouldn't fix. We found it as well as everyone else. Actually it became a joke more than anything. Some don't like the covering on the floor of the balconies, like I could care? Another thing to remember,when reading the reviews and comments which I had heard before, but just found out is true. For whatever reason some people will use several sign-on names and just keep reporting under different one. I just found one gal? who is on this board with one name and another with 3. So 3 bad reviews could be the same person. I have also found passengers doing reports on ships they didn't sail. Lots of nuts out there huh?
Oh wow, yeah. I guess I didn't think about the possibility that one person with a vendetta would put on several bad reviews.
I guess since I'm going in with my eyes wide open, and even expecting stuff to be wrong here and there, we'll either be all right or pleasantly surprised. We wound up with stateroom 0049 (back, midship-ish port side), so I hope that's a good one. I felt bad after booking it because a minisuite on the Pool Deck was the same price somewhere else (not sure how this can be the case, though) but I booked with a TA I know. I don't know this other place.
Only about 2 months and a bit to go! My first cruise
How bad is the smoking on the Sun? (There's a thread on this site about the Dawn) I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, but I do okay if there's specific non-smoking sections. (I won't be going to Dazzles Nightclub, the Casino or the Havana Cigar bar, natch)
I mainly wondered about the staterooms, the pool deck and all the restaurants. Thanks again for any help
No smoking in any dining establishments except in the buffet and then only outside. The showroom is smoke free, most of the bars having smoking and non smoking areas. Of cours the cigar bar is an exception. I am not alergic to smoke, but it's not my favorite thing and the casino can get a bit heavy. Outside around the pool it's fine. Like any cruise ship with exception of the Paradise which is totally non smoking you will be aware of it on rare occassions but because of good ventilation I never heard anyone complain. I have been on worse ships. NMNita
We were a little wary of freestyle cruising after taking 40+ conventional cruises.
We sailed on the Sky (almost twin to the Sun) last May and were very pleased.
We had a cabin in the same location and were very pleased with it.
We will be on the Sun the week after you (9/14)
Thanks for asking the question. My friend and I are going to be on the same cruise that you will be and had the same questions. We have traveled with Carnival and have been very happy with them. Kind of nervous about NCL.
I've read a lot, now, on here and other forums, and it seems like we'll be all right as long as we're aware that service will probably not be what it is on other cruises (never having been on one, I have no reference point) and that we will be nickled and dimed for everything. As such, I've added in about $500 to our budget for drinks, the freestyle restaurants, and some activities. We aren't very big on alcoholic drinks, but I do take the occassional glass of wine.
Which cabin/deck are you on? I've also been watching the NCL Sun's Bridge Cam, seeing where we'll be going.
Ellis, with exception of the alternative dining rooms which are an option only what do you mean by nickel and diming to death? I can't think of anything NCL charges extra for any differnt than other lines. Actually some lines, or at least one charges a service charge if you get money from the casino and put it on your room bill. The automatic tipping can be adjusted and doesn't work out to any difference than the suggested amount in the traditional way, even the charge for the specialty restaurants is lower than other ships, much lower. The difference there is NCL does have more choices so you may find yourselves eating in other than the main dining rooms several times. If you are not much of a drinker $500 should be plenty. I don't know if you are considering shopping and excursions in the $500. I am not a bingo player, but from those who are, I do get the impression that is one place NCL does stick it to you. The scratch off KLackers or whatever they are called are also a rip off I think. Maybe if I had won something I wouldn't say that but only talked to 1 person who ever got anything back. You will be just fine, will not be nickel and dimed to death, but do remember there will be extra charges. We do buy a drink or two a day plus a bottle of wine each night, do a little gift shop shopping, do our tipping and maybe spend a few bucks on other things. Usually our bill at the end of the cruise is about $400-$500. Start your count down and stop worrying! You will have a great time. In fact you will probably even find the service outstanding. As you said you have nothing to compare it with and it isn't bad by any means. Nita
I think you're right, Nita. I've mostly been reading the people grumbling in their reviews. But so far, NCL has been nice when I call and ask them something, and Travelocity has been, too. I didn't count excursions in the $500. I don't normally drink, but sometimes I like to try new drinks. We don't gamble at all, and I think we'll spend most of our time eating, or on deck looking at the scenery.
I have not cruised Alaska but I did cruise the Sun last June to the Western Caribbean. I just returned from a SOuthern Caribbean cruise on Adv. of the Sea. We spent twice as much money on the AOS and I enjoyed the Sun much more. The food is fantastic on the Sun and I enjoy being able to eat when I want to and not at a certain time. As far as reviews, I read nothing but good reports on the AOS buy would never do that ship again out of San Juan.
I have not yet cruised on NCL, but will be doing the Thanksgiving cruise on NCL Sun. I have cruised on Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, HAL and RCCL and have found good and bad in all of them. I have not however ever had a bad cruise. I for one believe that a cruise is what you make of it. How can you have a bad time when someone is making your bed, cleaning your bathroom, waiting on you, feeding you and entertaining you for a week. It would have to be pretty bad to not like it.
It has been my experience to find that people with a gripe are far more apt to post that gripe than someone who had a good time. So as someone before me has said, take all the info with a grain of salt and go and form your own opinion.
We are looking forward to trying NCL Sun this Thanksgiving and will have an opinion of our own the day after. Hope you enjoy your cruise.
Funny thing, though, his story and all these emails make it seem like they simply booked cruises without researching what they were going on, and then expected it to be totally perfect to an unattainable ideal.
My one worry is still whether the cabin (BA 0049) will be so smoked-in that my asthma will be triggered.
If anyone's cruising the Sun on the August 24th or August 31st from Seattle and you have 0049 Balcony, and you smoke, let me know, so I'll bring some stuff like pillow and mattress barriers. I may bring those anyway. Gah, having allergies sucks, but I really want to go on this cruise.
Please, don't pay the least bit of attention to THAT website. The idiot who began it has started a number of other websites (under other names, of course) with gripes about other cruise lines, airlines, travel agents, supermarket chains, etc. He is well known to be virtually a "professional" complainer. You might note that the website has not had an update in well over a year, for what it is worth.
You can find negative comments about all cruise lines somewhere on the web. Don't sweat it!! Have a great time. I've never had a bad cruise.
I'm bringing a few types of cameras, with the intent of a review the type that helped me. I'll also be reviewing it in a way I hope will help others like me: for those people with asthma and allergies.
I just returned from the Glacier Bay Sunday to Sunday trip on the Norweigen Sun. I would definitely not cancel! The Sun is very well maintained, the food was very good to outstanding, and the service was excellent. The spas were about 100 degrees and I don't remember about the pools since I didn't go in. The television in the stateroom gives current temperatures for each of those. The ship is beautiful, although a little confusing to get around in, and with 2000+ people, there were only a couple of times that it felt crowded. We loved the freestyle approach and contrary to what I had read, the embarkation and disembarkation was very organized.
We just returned from Alaska on the Sun. It was a great trip!
The pool and hot tubs semed well maintained. As stated before the pool and hotub info in posted daily on the TV in your cabin. Last week the freshwater hot tubs stayed around 99 degrees and the saltwater pools were 77 degrees. I didn't go in the pool but my hubby did and said it was "felt great"!
The food and service in the main dining rooms was fabulous! We were so pleased at each meal we forgot to make a reservation to try one of the specaility restaurants until Thursday afternoon! And the service was MUCH better in the main dinng rooms than the one night we went to LeBistro. We keep wondering what all the hype was about!
Each of the dining rooms serve a slightly different main cousre menu each night. If you don't mind the walk between the two you can check the menus all day and decide where to go. The specaility restaurants serve the same thing each night. You can check the menus in the main atrium during the daytime so you don't have to walk all over checking menus. And the other thing to remember is that they are ONLY open at night!
The one downer was that the menus for the dining rooms are posted each morning but it is hard to get a resevation for the same day at a specailty restaurant. So you don't know what you may miss!! We had a "Romance Package"with a paid dinner at LeBistro. We made our rservation for Thursday night which turned out to be "Lobster Night". One dining room was serving filet mignon or a lobster tail as seperate main courses. Which we could've ordered both. LeBistro wanted to charge and extra $25 for filet and two lobster tails dinner!! Maybe you could ask to see the next days menus at the stand in the main atrium?
We thought the food on the buffets was "okay". But it was fast, easy and there was a lot of varity so we ate there sometimes if we were in a hurry or wanted a snack. I do highly recommend the omlette station! It was fast and DELICIOUS! If you eat there you'll quickly figure out to go out on the back deck and go into the "Great Outdoors Cafe". Same food and no line! But no made-to-order stations.
The room service menu is VERY limited!! Continental breakfast foods, sandwiches, etc. But it is room service. Another option was to go to the buffet and carry it back to your room. A lot of people did this! Including us.
Most people dressed up a bit in the evening. It is posted outside each of the doors that no one is supposed to wear jeans or shorts after 5:30. But twice we saw a person wearing jeans going in. The staff never said a word. Most men wore slacks, open collars or a sweater. Women wore skirts or pants. On formal night only about 10-15% of men wore a tux. Not all suits were black or dark. About half the women were in formal gowns or dressy outfits. The rest were in really nice dresses.
The "refill soda card" might not be worth it. It was about $30 and you are supposed to get your cup refilled as many times as you wish. The downside is you have to carry that not-so-subtle Coke cup around with you everywhere(and I didn't want o carry it into the dining room at night), it barely holds 8? ounces (less with ice), you have to go up to the bar yourself and ask for a refill each time, I felt the bartenders tried to ignore me untill he was sure he had no other orders to fill or was sure I wasn't going to get out of the way, and may be the same amount of money to order cans of soda one at a time. We bought a couple of 20 ounce bottels at each port and put them into out carry ons. Then we could fill our cup in our room whhenever we wanted. (Ice bucket in the room had fresh ice twice a day!) Bring your own cup and soda!
I only noticed smokers outside. I was only in the casino twice but didn't notice it there. I hate the smell of it but am not as sensitive as you. The only thing you may want to watch out for is the Photo Gallery and Windjammer Lounge are right next to the Cigar Lounge. And it is an open area! When there were more than two cigar smokers in there you could smell it into the hallway/photo gallery! The library and conference center/games room are also right by there. Seperated only by a door. And MANY of the activities took place in the Windjammer Lounge!! Plus it is one of the main hallways that get you from one of the ship to the other. The other is right above it and it is the casino. I hope it doesn't prove to be a problem for you. If it does, I'd complain that there is no smoke free way to get from one end of the ship to the other. Because even going outside would put you passed smokers. But don't worry about it! It didn't notice many smoking inside.
Have fun!! Alsaka was gorgeous!! email me directly if you have any other questions!
E ya- Ann
NCL told me they can put an air cleaner in my stateroom (which was the only place I was worried for). I can pass through smoke without troubles, and I was planning to avoid the Cigar bar area. But thanks to everyone! Only 4 weeks to go!