I am cruising on the Norwiegan Sun in June to Alaska and I have read to negative things about NCL. Has anyone done this cruise with any info? Also is it possible to book shore excursions off ship? This is my first cruise so any info will be a great help.
We went last June on the Sun to Alaska -- it was a marvelous experience! The ship is beautiful, we thought the food was very good, and the crew and service they provide are fantastic. I wouldn't hesitate to go again in a minute -- in fact, we want to do a Western Caribbean on the Sun again within the next couple of years.
You can book off ship excursions -- we did an independent Saxman Village/Totem Bight excursion in Ketchikan, and rented a car and drove to Emerald Lake in Skagway. We didn't do any of the helicopter/plane/dog sledding trips as we had 2 kids with us and it was just too expensive.
One ship excursion I would highly recommend is the Tracy Arm fjord/Sawyer Glacier catamaran excursion. You leave Juneau shortly before the Sun departs and go by catamaran to Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glaciers. On the way, we saw whales (eliminated the need for a "whale watching" tour), and we got to both North & South Sawyer Glaciers -- the Sun couldn't get to within viewing distance of North Sawyer due to ice. There were hundreds of seals on the icebergs -- they go to this protected area to mate and give birth. The catamaran got much closer to South Sawyer glacier than the Sun was able to do, and then you meet back up with the Sun (where it stops for glacier viewing) and tender back on to the ship. It was the highlight of our cruise!
Tone - When are you crusing the Sun? We are cruising June 12 and SO excited about it!! We have booked fishing in Ketchikan and car rental in Skagway to drive the Klondike highway. I promised hubby not to overbook us on this cruise (like I did the last cruise) so we are going to take it easy in Juneau and Wrangell.
Our first cruise was NCL Sky (freestyle) and NCL has always taken care of us. We've cruised Celebrity and Holland America, but are VERY excited to be cruising with NCL for Alaska. Disregard the negatives you have read - your first cruise will hold a special place in your heart!
Mandy, Thanks for your reply. We are cruising on June 5 from Vancouver, part of our honeymoon, following 7 days exploring Calgary, the Rockies and Vancouver. I am still waiting for NCL website to publish prices for the shore excursions, I really fancy the dog sledding, and bear watching. Also can't wait to see the Northern Lights if they are on show.
ute_fan, Thanks for your reply. How many of the ships restaurants are free? I have done some research but some of the information is a little confusing. Does a cover charge mean that once it is paid that is it, or do you have to pay for individual meals as in a regular restaurant plus a cover charge?
The Tracy Arm fjord/Sawyer Glacier catamaran excursion sounds fantastic I will definately considerate it. How much was the dog sled excursion on your cruise?
There is a thread just a little further down about dining options on the NCL Sun -- if you look there, I posted the information from the daily last summer about the retaurants and their costs. We never tried any of the specialty restaurants as we were perfectly satisfied with the two main restaurants -- our favorite was the Four Seasons, which is mid-ship. We lucked out and got a really good waiter/waitress combo the first night, and the waitress was really good about helping our young adult kids (first time cruisers) understand the entree choices (we're normally more "fast food" junkies than gourmet diners). We requested them 4 out of the 7 nights.
I think the cover charge basically covers the cost of the specialty restaurants, except I've read there may be an additional charge for lobster in Le Bistro, and I think the Sushi restaurant is ala carte pricing. Sorry I can't be more specific, but we just didn't see the need of spending extra money to eat in the specialty restaurants.
As far as the dogsledding, I don't stil have my excursion price list, at least not that I can find. My somewhat faulty memory thinks it was about $350 -- give or take a little. Just not in our budget with 4 of us!!!
Just a couple of more questions. The Tracy Arm Glacier cruise sounds great. Did you book it through NCL or an individual tour company? The reason I ask is because I have found an Alaskan tour company who offer the same cruise at a fraction of NCL's price. The only problem is that they depart at 8.00am and return at 6.00pm and I notice from the Cruise itenery that the Norwiegan Sun departs from port at 1.30pm.
Also is there a 15% charge added to your on-board ship account? I understand that just about everything is put on the ship account and then the account is settled at the end of the cruise. I have heard from some people that the ship account may also be subject to a 15% charge. Surely this cannot be correct?
The particiular excursion we did can only be booked through the ship. The reason is that you board a catamaran that leaves Juneau about 1 hour prior to the Sun, goes to Tracy Arm (we stopped and saw whales along the way), spends time sightseeing in Tracy Arm, and then, in our case, went to both North and South Sawyer Glacier.
The Sun, following a little later, got to see South Sawyer, but not North Sawyer. The catamaran then tenders back to the Sun, and you exit the catamaran and reboard the Sun while it floats near South Sawyer Glacier.
It was definitely not cheap, but it was the highlight of our cruise. Not only did we see whales, but there were also hundreds of seals floating on the icebergs in front of South Sawyer Glacier.
For clairfication- YES you need to book the Tracy Arm extended tour from the ship. It leaves Juneau before the ship and then you return DIRECTLY to the ship after. This is far superior to your cruiseship viewing. I also don't recommend "taking it easy in Juneau" Just plenty of EXCELLENT touring to consider. AND NO northern lights in June. No bear watching either unless you want to consider a fly in to Pack Creek??
" I understand that just about everything is put on the ship account and then the account is settled at the end of the cruise. I have heard from some people that the ship account may also be subject to a 15% charge. Surely this cannot be correct?"
It is not correct. 15% is added to your drinks as a tip. $10 per passenger is added each day to cover the tips for your cabin stewards and waiters. On a traditional ship you eat at the same table every night with the same staff and leave a cash tip the last night.
Since you may never see the same waiter twice the auto tip allows freestyle to work. A lot easier then making sure you have cash with you all the time. You can tip a little extra to those that go the extra mile.
You can go to the front desk and check your balance anytime. A good thing to do since it easy to spend more then you expect when all you have to do is sign your name and cabin.
Thatnks "shoreguy" and "ute_fan" for all the info regarding the "SUN". My husband & I and two friends are going 7th May. This will be our first cruise & we are really looking forward to it. We have booked an Inside Cabin to Quad Share to save on the cost. Has anybody done that or know of anyone that has. We hope we won't be "too crowded". The Cruise Line tells me there are 2 single beds (or pushed together) and a double sofa bed. We don't plan on spending too much time in our cabin. The TracyArm Glacier cruise sounds really great and well worth spending the extra money on that and forfeit something else. As we are from Brisbane Australia where at the minute the avg. temp is 28C - we hope we won't find it too cold. We are soooooooo excited that I am sure we won't notice the weather too much. I guess May is Summer in Canada and Alaska?
Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Hi there Aussie! We've had one of your countrymen -- Andrew Bogut --playing this year for my favorite basketball team Thanks so much for sharing him with us. He's been a joy to watch and seems like a great guy.
I hope you will enjoy this cruise as much as my family and I did. We originally booked an inside cabin for the 4 of us (DH, myself, son (age 20), daughter (age 18)). We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a balcony cabin, and it worked fine for the 4 of us. We did peek inside one of the inside cabins, and it looked like it would also have done just fine for us. It may be a little cozy, but like you say, you won't spend that much time in your room anyway.
May is spring, heading into summer, in Alaska and Canada. We went June 6th last year, and had cool, overcast, cloudy weather most of the time. That, however, can vary greatly. I know earlier in May the weather actually appeared to be better than what we ended up having (kept having to watch the bridge cam to see what was happening on the ship). Just make sure to take layers -- that seems to be the secret to dressing warmly in Alaska.
My only word of warning -- CRUISING IS ADDICTING! Our 1st one was Jan. 2004, the Sun was June 2004, and we're going again this May to the Caribbean. Hopefully you'll enjoy your 1st cruise as much as we did.
Hi, I cruised Alaska last summer on Sun. I enjoyed the NCL Freestyle, it was brilliant leaving Vancouver harbour in the warm sun late in the afternoon. I was on the sundeck at the stern of the boat, knowing that I spend as long as I liked and not having to worry about changing for dinner. Where you have an allocated dinig time on other boats you can end up missing magical moments like this, just relaxing and taking in the scenery. I had a balcony cabin but did spend a lot of time actually on the open decks to really appreciate the splendour of the scenery.
I think you've made a brilliant choice and hope you relly enjoy it.