My wife and I returned January 19th 2003 from a cruise to the Western Caribbean. What a wonderful way to unwind for a week!! When we entered our our stateroom on the 10th deck, with an outside balcony,we were pleasantly suprised to find a lot more space for clothes than we had on the Sky. We did not need to store clothes under the bed anymore. The outside balcony adds so much to the stateroom. It is well worth the extra dollars.
How wonderful the freestyle dining is! You can plan your whole day without worrying about missing a meal. We eat out two or three times a week and we feel that we recognize good food and service. Both were first class on the Sun.
The entertainment is equal to shows we see in Vegas, without the large cover charge. Jane L. Powell has the finest voice we have ever heard and her way of reaching the audience reminds one of the late Pearl Baily. There were no weak nights in the showroom. Every seat is excellent as opposed to the Sky where the designer apparently never sat in thebalcony!!!
The ship was immaculate and the staff well trained. Mr. Paul Baya, the cruise director always had time to stop and answer any questions. He added much to the enjoyment of the cruise.
Now, I have told you how much we have enjoyed the ship, I will tell you what we did not like. When we cruised on the Sky to alaska in May,we were sent a shore excursion catalogue from which we could pick our excursions. When I called to see why we had not recieved the catalogues for the upcoming cruise, I was told that NCL does not do this anymore. They told me to buy them on board at the shore excursion desk. Sure, and stand in line for two hours. Over the internet I contacted Shore excursions.com and we were able to reserve all our excursions and they met us at the ship each time. I recommend that everyone does this. Why give that part of the business to NCL if they do not care if you have to stand in for hours?
My only other complaint was the pit boss in the casino was continualy rude all week. Many of the passengers were discussing this.
Overall, we had a great cruise. I doubt that we will cruise with any other cruise line, until the adopt the frestyle dining. We will be sailing later this year to the deep southeren Caribbean with NCL.
The Jan. 5, 2002 cruise on the NCL Sun was a real treat. We approached this cruise with no small amount of apprehension due to the mixed comments we had heard regarding "Freestyle" cruising. All of our previous cruises had traditional dining and, frankly, we enjoy dressing up for dinner, making it a special event each day. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the service and atmosphere and food met or surpassed all of our expectations.
Embarkation went ok, but not without a hitch. One of our boarding cards was missing and had to be re-printed. NCL is really "missing the boat" when it comes to starting your trip on the right foot. Lines are very long, with less then adequate help available. We're Latitude members and probably waited longer than other lines because there were only two agents handling Latitude Club members. RCCL beats out NCL hands down with embarkation.
Our cabin was very nice.more room than we expected. We had a balcony cabin and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in our cabin. Woodwork is excellent, as is the closet space.
The ship is lovely, not spectacular, but very nice.Much of its appeal is due to the fact that it was less than six months old. The two main dining rooms were very nicely decorated. Le Bistro was nice, but not as nice as I had expected. We did not eat at any of the other restaurants, as the food was not to our liking. Getting a reservation for a table for two was no problem. Service was excellent, as was the food. We felt that the over meal preparation and service exceeded RCCL.
Our biggest disappointment was the weather. We were scheduled for a snorkeling trip at Roatan, but it was cancelled due to high seas. Unfortunately, Roatan is a third world country that we felt was not suitable for wandering around on your own. Plus, there was truly nothing to see on your own, except the beaches, which were closed due to high seas.
We thoroughly enjoyed our shore excursion in Belize City when we took a bus tour of the city and also saw Maya ruins. Very worthwhile trip. Grand Cayman also had rough seas, so we were unable to tender into the downtown area but had to go ashore where it took a 20 min taxi ride to get downtown. But, we enjoyed out time there. Cozumel was nice because we were able to walk off the ship and enjoy some excellent shopping, especially in silver and Mexican folk art.
The pool area was just ok.it lacked "eye appeal." Seating was very limited in the pool area, so you often had to find a lounge on the upper level, which was very windy on sea days.
We have mixed feelings about the "Free Style Cruising." We enjoyed being able to reserve a table for two whenever we felt like eating. But, since we enjoy dressing up for dinner, we did not enjoy the "resort casual" atmosphere on the ship most every night. There was only one formal night, and even that was not widely followed. You would think that NCL would have at least one restaurant designated as "formal." When all is said and done, we will probably stick with the more traditional seatings.
Direct USAir flight from Phila. to Miami. Taxi transfer ($21) to hotel Riande Continental Bayside, $110 for the night for three of us. Miami was very cold and never got about 71 degrees that day and cold at night. We arrived about 1:30 p.m.Two of our kids had flown down the day before. Hotel was old, like built in the 30's or 40's. Staff was very nice. Room and bathroom were small. Breakfast included next morning. Buffet, not very good, cold food.. All of us went to Lombardi's Bayside restaurant at Bayside for dinner. There were 31 of us and I had filet mignon. One of the best I ever had. Wife had shrimp something. very good Wine with meals.
Saturday Jan. 5, 2002 Left hotel, friend took our bags to the NCL docks. The friends drove us to there.The wedding was at 1 PM so the cruisers in the group got to board at 11 a.m. Bypassing the other 2,000 passengers. We went to our room but luggage wasn't there yet. We all met on the pool deck next to the chapel and had some drinks. Cash bar onlyfor cruisers. Wedding went off without a hitch and there was a reception in one of the lounges from 1 to 3 p.m. Hors de Oeuvres and open bar and wedding cake. At 3 p.m., all non cruisers had to leave and we set sail about 4:30 p.m. Overnight, it was a little rocky and two of us each took a Dramamine. One started buying buckets of Dos Equis Beer, 6 beers and free T-shirt, $24. Ate Le Bistro $10 extra pp. Entire 11 of us, Had good time but dinner took a long time to be served.
Sunday, Jan 6 At sea all day. Ate breakfast in the 4 Seasons restaurant. Raul was our waiter. Very nice. Had kippers. Played Bingo for $29. Forgot we bought 4th set of bingo cards. Used some next day. Dinner that night, we weren't hungry so we ate at the Mexican Tapas bar. Wife ordered a sangria drink, enough for two glasses and she was glassy-eyed on the way out. Had lots of fruit in it and it was very good. I had a 7 and 7 and was just okay. Had finger foods then went to 7 Seas restaurant for dessert. Didn't think they liked us sitting down at tables for just dessert. Wife had Tiramesu (sp).
Mon., Jan 7 Bought bottle of coconut rum and six rum cakes at the Tortuga Rum Factory, one of the stops on the Tale of Two Cities tour in Cayman Islands. Sampled rum cakes. Went to turtle farm where they have 30 year old 600 pound turtles and 3 month old turtles smaller than size of your hand. We took pictures of each other holding a turtle. See album. Ate at Le Bistro, $10 PP, all 11 of us. We were tired so went to bed early.
Tues.. Jan 8 Son went Scuba diving in Roatan. Was part of NCL's Dive In program. We actually saw him go by in a boat while we were on a tour and at the dolphin show. Went to Tropical Treasures Bird Sanctuary at Sandy Bay (fish/bird/butterfly etc., museum and a Dolphin show. Also tropical Bird Sanctuary on Roatan Highlights Tour. Had swordfish dinner that night at 4 Seasons restaurant. We got to see some of the sights of the poor island country. $20 a week was about the average wage. I got a T-shirt at the bird sanctuary with a large red parrot on it. Went to Circue de Pan show on stage on ship. After show, went to a bar and saw part of the Who Wants to win a Million fake dollars show which was taped and shown next day on our room t.v. We didn't stay till the end. It was cute but got boring after an hour. Ordered an Irish Coffee from Dazzles and had to return it. It was so bad. Bitter, like bottom of the pot of coffee.. Exchanged it for a diet coke and the waiter wanted to charge us for the coke. I told him no, he brought the coke and said "thank you sir."
Wed. Jan 9 Continental breakfast in our room that morning consisted of a dozen pastries, bowls of cereal, orange juice, and reg. and decaf coffee. Our guide, Alise took us to Altan Ha ruins. Very informative. Tipped her $2 bill which she said she will keep. Belize Tale of Two Cities Tour 4 1/2 hours long. Nice. Drank free punch in Radisson hotel, Smoky Mermaid bar. Bought one child a shot glass ($5) in Belize and statue of a head for him ($19). Bought another a bottle of Belikan Beer, the local suds. Had lunch of snacks, burgers and cookies in aft of ship, pool deck. Ate Le Bistro first time, had seabass with sister and spouse and rest of group.
Thurs. Jan 10 Went to pool deck, 7 .a.m. By myself and watched us dock in Cozumel 8 a.m. through the binoculars. Continental breakfast in bed again. Canceled our Helmet Dive due to medical conditions. We were so proud of our son because when he immediately found out wife couldn't go on the trip, he left and turned in our three tickets for credit which we received. He was pissed and we were so proud of him. Spent 6 of 9 hours in port shopping. Arte Joyero jewelry shop is where Wife purchased her Tanzanite and diamond ring and a matching pendant. Total retail was about $800 but we got both items for $425 (ring was $300). Later found out VISA account was charged $465, a discrepancy in the Peso rate. I wrote a letter to Visa about this. Had lunch at famous Carlos and Charlie's restaurant and bar. Quite a festive place to be right in the middle of shopping district. Had coupon from Internet for free bbq spare rids which they honored. Wife and I split some Mexican dish for two. Son had beef tacos for lunch. He did have a few shots tho. They gave him a shot of Tequila into his mouth. Wish I had taken that picture. Three of us went to hot tub by the pool. Sat with two women from Minnesota, the one the same who offered some native girls a dime if they would do a dance for her at the bird sanctuary. Went to ship's casino and played slots and blackjack. Had a good time. Wife one night even joined a slot tournament ($20) but didn't win. Son overslept overnight in some mints, had chocolate all over his arm and neck. The mints were placed on our pillows each night before going to sleep. Andes candies. Le Bistro specialty restaurant one more time with family. Brother in law got a half bottle of wine from a previous visit to another restaurant and we finished that one. Menu didn't change from first visit. Food not as good this time as I ordered the Cooking Light fish dish.
Fri. Jan 11 At sea all day. Had frozen chocolate and strawberry yogurt next to the pool. Watched ice carving demonstration. Ate a Cooking Lite pork chop for dinner. Terrible as was the accompanied rice. Wife had a veal scaloppini dish with rice, much better. Staff brought me a birthday cake and all waiters and waitresses came over and sang Happy Birthday to me. Won $50 blackjack and another $50 in slots. About broke even. Dined in main dining room, Seven Seas. All 11 of us dined one more time together.
Sat Jan 12 Continental breakfast became addictive, did it again. No hassles. Had it delivered to room at 645 a.m. Off the ship by 9:15 A.M.. and took bus directly to Miami airport. Sat at airport for 3 hours. Miscellaneous:Nice to have a daily agenda sheet delivered to our room eve of next day. Didn't spend a dime at Internet room as it was about 75 cents per minute. NCL a week before the cruise told me it was a $200 per person credit to our room. After many inquiries, we found out this was NOT one of those credit cruises. Asked for $50 credit and a bottle of wine but was turned down for that also. NCL staff sent to our stateroom two letters explaining why. $491 for the week, total bill, Dad and Mom
Took $70 off our total tips of $140. Tipped individually. NCL charges $10 PP per day tips. Bought bug spray on board for $11.95; $10 PP transfer from docks to Miami airport; USAir, $278.50 per person, round-trip, direct flight. Roatan-bugs and bites on legs while on the bus. All in all, a great time had by all.
I had read many of the reviews before taking this cruise. After reading about the food, etc. I was worried. Well I was very surprised to find the food very good. We really enjoyed the option of not "dressing" up and being able to eat at the evening banquet while outside. We have cruised on various cruise lines and have taken approximately 9 cruises. We enjoyed it so much we have already booked again for next year.
I will say that I was very disappointed with the children's program. Staff didn't seem happy to be there or happy to be with kids. Activities and times were very limited compared to other cruise lines. The room were wonderful and we really enjoyed having our own refrigerator in the room. If you like to avoid dressing up all the time and having set times for dinner, then freestyle cruising may not be for you. Otherwise, it offers wonderful flexibility.
Having done the NCL SEA last December, sailing on the SUN this past week was nice to make comparisons to. Briefly, we enjoyed the new SUN very much, it is a beautiful ship with loads of little cubby holes to hide away in to read or just put your mind in "neutral" for a little while. So many places that there were a few areas we never even got to in the week.
- On departure day, it was nice to see the Coast Guard patrolling near the big vessels and keeping folks away. It was bad to see the entire Observation Lounge blocked off for some private get together, it spoiled the departure view that many would have liked to have had.
- The Sports Lounge had 10 tv sets, 9 of them on ESPN and one on CNN: that could have been done better. Plus, the Sports Lounge had a beautiful wood plank floor that was all chewed up in many places due to the bottoms of the chairs placed in that room. Large gouges that look horrible.
- It was nice to see the grate that was placedbetween the balcony ledge and the people down below in the Stardust Lounge. It was there to keep bottles and glasses from popping folks on the head: nice touch. Soft drinks came two ways: in the can for $1.50 or in a tall glass for $1.00. But we caught a few occasions when the higher price was charged for the glass only: honest mistake? Made several times?
- The layout of the ship suffered in a few areas and really caused congestion. It was impossible to get from the rear 7 Seas dining room on deck 5 and go forward to the atrium area/reception area. You had to go up to 6 walk to the center elevators or stairs and then back down again. Strange, and stupid. Likewise, it kind of appeared that you had to walk through the casino on deck 7 to go from front to rear. Actually, there was a side hallway that was not marked at all and we eventually stumbled upon it.
-We had one to the two unique category BE balcony cabins. Most are on the side of the ship, but two were tucked in the rear between some penthouse suites. Being back there meant no wind, which was nice. On some evenings walking down the hallway we could hear loud wind noises coming from the side balcony cabins. - The hairdryer is more powerful than on the SEA, but it is mounted on the wall over the toliet and not to the side of the mirror. Which makes it tough to blow dry hair and look at the mirror at the same time. But the cabins were of more than adequate size for two.
-The food: we thought the buffet in the Garden Cafe was not as good as the SEA last year, and put it in a marginal category. The two main dining rooms served perfectly acceptable food, and they generally had slight variations on one or two main dishes.
-While the ship is larger/heavier than the SEA, the rocking seemed to be identical in the same seas. But not uncomfortable by any means, I just thought the newer and larger ship would be more stable than the NCL SEA was.
- The photographers are a new contract group and we had carefully been placing all our pictures in one spot, from the different settings and times taken. We intended to then gather them up and buy several but in their infinite wisdom, the photographers took many away (including ours) Friday afternoon. Shame on them, they lost our business.
-Overall impressions: perfectly good food, good waiters out of the group, nice ship and itinarary. We would book it again in a heartbeat, except we booked the new NCL DAWN while yet onboard the SUN. Sailing a new ship is kinda fun.
I was on the 11/3 cruise. The ship was beautiful. We had an outside balcony and the cabin had enough space for the clothing we brought (14 days worth - 4 very large suitcases and a carry on).. all fit under the bed so that helped with the space. The bathroom was a bit small (smaller than the comparable cabin we had on the Carnival Triumph).. BTW We've sailed on the Triumph and a few of the RCCL ships so this review will compare the Sun to those. This was my first sail with NCL so we werent Lattitudes members. The checkin was painless in Boston, In fact the line for non lattitudes members was shorter. The cruise was fine and we did have a great time however.....(Now dont anyone get offened, these are my opinions only) The age of the passengers on the ship averaged 60 and many in walkers.. This made for a slower pace throughout the ship. like waiting on the buffet lines.. ( I swear some of them fell asleep while on line in front of me..).I prefer a ship with "eye candy' if you knowwhat I mean.
This may have had to do with the fact that the fare from Boston to Miami allowed those "snowbirds" a nice way to get home but I dont know that.. Cabin Stewardess.. was wonderful. extra towels, discrete, and generally available when needed. Although the couple I was travelling with never saw theirs and at one point needed toilet paper and had to call for a roll.. so I guess I lucked out.
Food and Service.. We found the food to be a few steps below the Carnival Triumph. In the 2 main dining rooms the food was sub standard to my tastes. There were times that they actually ran out of smoked salmon at breakfast. The service was spotty and generally not up to the other ships we've been on.
( I believe this is due to the fact that their gonna get their tips anyway.) and dont belive the crap that you can remove the tip charges because the pursers desk is very crowded on the last day so unless you want to stay onboard to take care of it, it's a hassle.
Another problem was the some of the service staff did not understand english..(an example-- for lunch one day, they had pastrami on rye with sourkraut, russian dressing and cole slaw and potato chips. I asked for a plain pastrami on rye specifying no sourkraut, no russian dressing and no cole slaw. I got pastrami on rye with everything on it except the potato chips. This was our first experience with freestyle and I believe that with non freestyle dining and tipping at you discreting, you are able to establish a rapport with your wait staff and and they treat you much better.
I know on Carnival, after the first night, the waiter new what we liked and anticipated (and sometimes brought multiple) appetizers, entrees and desserts.
You lose that dining freestyle. The only benefit that you get from freestyle dining is the ablility to dine at you own time.
Other Restaurants:The Garden Cafe - this was the buffet and was terrible. Hambergers, hotdogs sat in a steam tray. The burgers were like hockey pucks. They had minute steaks that came out raw sitting in the steam trays. They had someone making fresh pasta daily and that was the only good stuff on the buffet.
Twice they barbequed ribs and they were good. Most of the time the food in the steam trays were so-so and the carving station was ok.. Roast beef, Pork roast, leg of lamb, ham and some steak. They have an ice cream station that opened at 2:00PM and the line was so long (at least 20 people waiting) I only got some twice.
Other restaurants-- Firstly you must make a reservation one day in advance for any of the following restauants. Pacific Hights - This is the cooking lite restaurant and no extra charge. I had meatballs and speghetti, wife had meatloaf. Nowhere on the menu did it say that the meat was actually turkey.. The taste was ok, just unexpected.
Il Adigio - Ten bucks per person cover charge and the food was just ok. I had a veal t-bone with pasta, wife had a shrimp scampi (4 shrimp) I dont believe that the extra charge was worth it. Le Bistro - Ten bucks per person cover charge and the food was a little better. We went there twice primarily because the food in the main dining rooms was not to our liking.
Pacific Rim- we only went to the Teppanyaki restaurant so I cant comment on the other two places (Ginza and East Meets West). This was an ala carte restaurant and was the best of them all. We had the special with lobster at 32 bucks. Same thing we shouldnt have to pay extra for quality food. All the food should be quality. In the casino, I spoke to a few fellow BJ players and they had basically the same impressions as I do.
November, 2001 I just returned from sailing on the Sun doing the New England Canada cruise.
I thought the value was exceptional. The service I experienced was above average. I must say though that I never ate at the busy times. The service in the specialty dining rooms which were never busy was great and the food was served hot and freshly made. In my opinion it is worth the $10.00 cover just for the ambiance and the quarantee of a table for two with never a fuss.
It is nice to get away from the crowds to the peace and serenity of these restaurants and you have the feeling of being on a 5 star plus ship at half the cost.
I would definitely choose this ship again, especially for a warm climate cruise.
This was our first cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line, and frankly, we were disappointed in this ship. Other passengers who have sailed on the Norwegian Sky said that this ship certainly was not as good as the Sky. Our main complaint about this ship is poor design. There is very poor traffic flow throughout the ship. For example, on the main deck, if you want to go from aft to forward, you must go up and around the restaurant in the middle. In all of our other cruises, some ships the same size or larger, we had never stood in any lines. This is the first ship that had lines everywhere. We had lines to check in at embarkation, lines at restaurants, lines to get off at the port, lines to get back onto the ship at port, etc. We did more waiting and standing in line on this ship, which we had never experienced before on other cruises.
The Garden Cafe (Deck 11, aft)
This is the buffet restaurant on the Norwegian Sun and it was totally inadequate. It only takes up half of the area aft of the ship,so there were always long lines and no place to sit. By the time you found a place to sit your food was cold. Some people braved the cold and sat outside and some people went across to the port side and sat in the Sports Bar to eat. The ice cream bar was located in the buffet area and always had a long line with limited hours of operation. They had a station for Indian vegetarian food which was nice, but that (it was the omelet station in the morning) and the hot cereal/soup station were far away from the main food line and inconvenient.
We enjoyed our cruise very much because we always enjoy ourselves wherever we go. We met a fun couple that we spent our time with and all of the staff around the ship were friendly and courteous. The food and entertainment were great. The three lecturers on board were terrific. The worst thing about this ship was the standing in long lines and waiting. We do not recommend this ship. Perhaps, other ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line might be better than the Sun.
Just returned from a 12 day Fall Colors cruise aboard the new Norweigan Sun...and submit a caution to those considering her.
We found the "Freestyle Cruising" concept not to work, at least on this cruise. The food aboard was uninspiring in menu, served cool to cold, and took up to 2 hours from order to finish! The optional dining rooms were good, but the surcharge fee is annoying. Do not expect quality dining or service.
On the other hand, the staterooms are outstanding. Ours, with balcony, was large, attractive, lots of storage, and kept clean as a whistle.
In fairness, on this our 12th cruise we should have known we don't like large capacity ships and the long lines and poorer service they include by nature. We again believe you get what you pay for, and while the price of the cruise was very low, we got what we paid for.
I was fortunate enough to have been invited on the Norwegian Sun's Pre-Inaugural cruise to nowhere from Boston.
Having had 3 positive experiences on the Norwegian Sky, I was looking forward to this new vessel, especially since it is the first ship specifically built for NCL's Freestyle Cruising concept.
The ship itself is almost identical to her sister the Sky. The most noticable improvement onboard the Sun is the increased cabin size. We had a suite on Deck 11 (cabin 1009) and it was much larger than the suite we had onboard the Sky. The cabin was well appointed with 2 twin beds (convertable to a queen), desk, tv, refrigerator, sitting area with a sofabed, chair and coffee table. There was plenty of storage space in and around the desk/vanity area as well. The bathroom was very spacious and well laid out. Prior to entering the bathroom, you had a walk in closet with ample drawer space, a small vanity/sitting area and a safe for personal items. The bathroom itself was huge by ship standards and had a full jaccuzzi tub and plenty of storage around the sink. The balcony was of decentsize, however the 2 chairs were very small and most uncomfortable-- it almost seemed like they borrowed this furniture from the childrens play area.
Unfortunately, the decor and the improved cabin layout was the best part of this ship. The service was spotty at best. It took at least 10-15 mins to be acknowledged at any of the outdoor pool bars and the service at the indoor bars/lounges wasn't much better. NCL has never impressed me with their service and I must say they have remained consistanty below par onboard the Sun. Another annoyance was the fact that with 9 restaurants onboard, only 3 offer "free" meals. The Bistro is still $10.00 per person, however the Japanese restaurant and a few others were priced A'la carte. It kind of defeats the purpose of having so many choices if one must pay extra to enjoy this experience. Another annoyance the the necessity to have reservations to dine in these alternative restaurants.. so much for Freestyle dine when you want, where you want! We were unable to arrange reservations in any restaurant but the Italian one, and after dining there we know why it was so easy.. the food was inedible and we sent it back and headed to the main dining room for dinner. The service in the dining room was horrid-- after receiving menus it took almost 30 mins before our order was taken and it was at least that long before anything was brough to the table. Bread finally arrived, without butter, and in the absence of any waitstaff we were unable to locate any. The salad was limp and soggy, like the dressing was placed on it hours prior to our dining. We ordered the Prime Rib, which was like shoe leather, dry and over cooked, and the accompanying mashed potatos were INSTANT and not even real!! Needless to say most of this meal remained on the plate. Still hungry after visiting 2 restaurants, we decided maybe a slice of pizza would hit the spot-- WRONG-- they slammed the door of the Pizzaria in our faces. This was the first in over 30 cruises where we went to bed hungry. Breakfast wasn't much better, thank goodness we have a Duncan Donuts on every corner in Boston!! This was a huge disappointment, especially since we didn't have a bad meal during any of our cruises on the Sky last year.
The entertainment onboard was excellent. We saw the main review show modeled after Cirque d' Soleil, and we also listened to a variety of bands in the lounges all of which were good. The late night comedy show was also entertaining. The casino was a bit tight on the payouts, but still a lot of fun.
While it was nice to see the newest kid on the block, the poor service, and horrible food would prevent me from ever sailing on this ship in the future. I'm not a huge fan of NCL, and while I've had good experiences on the Sky, I've had too many bad experiences on their other ships. I'll be sticking to Royal Caribbean and Princess and a few others for my future vacations at sea.