Let's spend a few minutes dreaming of our next cruise and reliving the days past. Before we close our eyes I want to state the negative, then we will dream of the positive. It's hard for me to find the bad but, after talking to several passengers, a few things come to mind. Overall, freestyle was just what the doctor ordered, yet there were negatives. We needed to plan if we chose to eat in the alternative dining rooms, so that is not totally freestyle. We were not seated with others, only two or four of us. The salad bar in the buffet was less than inspirational. Breakfast was, at best, cheap Vegas style, both in the dining room and at the buffet. Belize could be scratched and no one would know (or care). Getting reservations for a Habachi-table seating took an act of God; maybe the Sun should add 12 more seats. Right now there are 3 seatings, each with 12 seats, not too many will get seated in any one night. The casino help could smile. It would make our losses a bit less painful. That's it guys; no other negatives.
Now, let's start from the beginning. We arrived about 11a.m., check-in took 5 minutes, then we waited for the gates to heaven to open. At 11:30 we watched the first cruisers glide through the gates and we followed maybe 5 minutes later. By 11:40 we were in our cabin. Our cabin steward told us the cabin was not quite ready; we did not know the difference. But after inspecting everything, we left to examine every knook and cranny of the ship. We say the knooks, but probably missed some crannies. Lunch was served both in the dining room and the buffet. We chose the buffet, which was much better than expected. The meatloaf was tasty, the mash potatos real and the desserts great. Hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill smelled wonderful and the taco bar looked really good.
We returned to our cabin and our luggage arrived about the same time. After unpacking, with more storage space than the other ships we have been on, we spent a few minutes on the balcony before meandering up to the awesome observation lounge to meet with the 20 plus cruise critics group for a drink. All but one couple we had expected arrived for a short visit. We had reservations at Le Bistro that evening. This is a must for everyone who chooses the Sun. My daughter selected the wild mushroom soup served in a bread bowl, caesar salad and sea bass. I delighted in the best Escargot I have even eaten, followed by asparagus topped with smokey hollandaise sauce, definitely not from a package, a delightful spinach salad and the special of the day, steak Dianne; not huge, but certainly plenty. I normally do not get dessert, yet the strawberry flambet got to me and my daughter couldn't turn down the chocolate fondue with fresh fruit, which was enough for 2 or 3, not one.
After dinner, we wandered off to the casino, not a good bet (for me, anyway). We called it a night about 11p.m. On Sunday at sea we chose the breakfast buffet which I have already mentioned, and then tried to find a lounge or seat on the pool deck. Kiss that goodbye . We ended up on the 12th deck with plenty of space. A little problem when I ordered a drink and had it served in the $6.95 glass, which I hadn't asked for. No big deal; the bigger deal was that drinks were not consistantly priced. One bar charged one price, another a different price. This made no sense, but, again, not a big deal. After we had enough sun, we returned to our cabin and got ready for lunch and the art auction. We chose the buffet, which was more than satifactory, and soon were off to the auction. Only concern there was the lack of champagne. They advertise an Art Auction with free champagne. Well, it was a good thing we went for the auction and not the champagne. We did manage to get one glass. The auction was fun, especially when I won a painting worth $250, it is claimed.
The rest of the afternoon, which was only a few minutes, we spent sipping a cool one on our balcony. This was the formal optional night. As you can imagine, we saw about everything. I did not see any long dresses or tuxes, but some very dressy attire. I wore a silk skirt and linen top, my daughter a cute dressy sun dress with a summer sweater. We felt right in place. Dinner tonight consisted of the best crab Louis I have ever had, followed by cold avocado and watermelon soup, lobster and pasta - which I thought was a bit under-cooked - and the soup was good, I guess.
But now I know why I don't order cold soup more often. After dinner we ventured off to see the Jean Ryan Company show. Oh, Peggy had wild mushroom soup, caesar salad and lobster with baked potato. She can be a bit boring. Anyway, the show, as always when you see the Jean Ryan Company, was outstanding. Monday was a day in port for most, but we chose to stay on ship. Now we got lounges by the pool, could eat where and when we wanted, and totally relaxed. We did have a Sun Ritual treatment at the spa. It was much better than any spa treatment I have had in the past and, apparently, better than some of the tours to the island. Seems that swimming with the stingrays can be positive or negative, depending on what you expect. The island is nice, but very expensive. The afternoon brought bingo by the pool, followed by auctioning of the horses. Do you want too know more? Let me know.
We, again, chose a standard restaurant. We ate at the Seven Seas. The food was good, but not quite what I would have chosen had I known. Again, pasta was not quite cooked. I did have awesome salmon. Now to the casino, where I preceeding to grab back some of the money I lended to them the first few days. The slots were paying better than most cruise lines, but I was not getting rich. Wednesday morning we meandered down to the Four Seasons for breakfast. I had eggs Benedict; OK, but probably packaged hollandaise sauce. The staff was almost so friendly that I wanted to say, "Go away." In fact, by now, I am wondering how anyone could say anything negative about the crew? Everyone has bent over backwards for us. As soon as we finished breakfast, we grabbed our towels and away we went to Roatan. We chose a private tour, which took us on a short city spin, followed by a beach stop at Half Moon Bay. Our driver and the proprietors at Half Moon bay were wonderful. The snorkeling was not as good as Tabyana Beach, but the price was right and we had a wonderful time. Next time, I think we will try Salt and Peppers.
We got back to our cabin about 2 p.m., showered and grabbed a quick bite at the buffet. The lunch buffets were wonderful and this is from someone who's not a buffet person. We decided to do the tapas bar in the evening. After a glass of wine and several tapas, it was time to try something new for dinner. Back again to the buffet; but we were too full to eat. We missed the show (actually, I missed the show). The casino said, "Come see me" and I showed them. I won $150.00 on the quarter machines. I cashed in, went back to our cabin and, after a quick nightcap on the balcony, we went to bed. It was nice to know our room was clean with everything in place. Our cabin steward and assistant were the best. We were lucky to have an early tender, thus Wednesday we were off the ship and on our way to Belize before 8 a.m. Breakfast was to die for: my birthday cake, tomato juice and a cup of coffee. Not really to die for, but better than nothing. Prior to sailing I had contracted with Action Belize to tour the river and see the wildlife. Well, we toured the river, all right, but if that is all the wildlife they have to offer, they need to learn how to party. Using the bathroom in the tour guide's house was not our idea of the perfect tour. I felt saved, since most of those we talked to were not any more impressed with Belize and their tours than we were.
We returned to the ship safely, though our nerves were shot to heck. A quick shower and we were off to try the hamburgers fresh off the grill. For those from the west, you will understand my comment; they were not In and Out burgers, but the next best thing. Dinner was in the Italian restaurant. We had heard some negative remarks and were about not to even give it a try but, after after hearing the remarks from our friends from New York about how good it was, we gave it a try. Boy, are we glad! I had the seafood cocktail, which was succulent; caesar salad, joining Peggy, and shrimp scampi with 40 gloves of garlic yet. So, if you don't like garlic, go somewhere else. Not only was the food as good as I have ever had, the service was outstanding - as it was throughout the cruise. We didn't have a reservation until 9:30, so we saw the show. Magicial, if you can call him that, left a bit to be desired. I guess he's better than losing your shirt in the casino.
Thursday is shopping until you are dropping day. We had planned on shopping and then snorkeling. After shopping for 4 hours, there was no way could we think of going snorkeling. Biggest disappointment about Cozumel was that my favorite jewelry store lives in the past. As usual we stopped at Pancho's Back Porch for a drink and did some shopping. If I wasn't so hot and tired, I would have gotten a temporary tattoo in a place I will not discuss right now. Can you imagine the shock my conservative husband would have had? That is if he even noticed. Everyone we talked to that did tours, booked through the ship or on their own, had a wonderful experience. Dinner tonight was in the Pacific Heights, of all places. Me, diet food? I don't think so. Back up. I love to cook, and if I could cook light food the way the Sun did, I would never cook heavy food again. The show featured the Jean Ray Company for the third time and again we wished it would last forever. I wished they had closed the casino down forever.
On Friday it was almost over. It's breakfast in the buffet again, complete with a tasty omelette, bacon, juice, fruit and rolls. Not the best, but filling at least. While Peggy ventured to the crowded pool area, I could feel my perky little nose pealing, so I headed back to the room to pack It was so so sad. Then it was on to the showroom for bingo and the chance to win the cruise. No winners here. After lunch in the dining room for the first time, Peggy wandered to the Art Auction, I finished packing and wandered to my favorite place. You guessed it: the casino, stopping along the way to pick up some last-minute gifts. The gift shop isn't the best I have seen. I left a few bucks everywhere I went and Peggy left serveral at the Art Auction. We had a drink on the balcony, changed our clothes and it was off to the Habachi grill. Thank God for our conciere, Ray, Mr. Wonderful. He was able, somehow, to get us reservations. If not for him, we would still be waiting and I would not want that to happen. The food made Kobi's look ordinary. We both had steak and shrimp. Peg decided to go to the show and I should have. She says Jayne Powell was wonderful. My slot machine was not, but could have been worse.
You know I thought I was just lending all this money to the casino; but when I got my printout I realized I gave it to them and they were not going to give it back. With luggage in the hall, our last drink consumed on our balcony and the eyes feeling heavy, we said good night to the Sunny, Sun Sun for our last time on this trip. Debarkation was smooth, we were at Miami Airport early and on our way home. Glad to see hubby, but I actually had a tear in my eye when I walked the gankplank for the last time. For Peggy and me, it was the perfect cruise. As some new found friends of ours put it: the cruise was so different they thought they were cruising for the first time. Everyone needs to judge for him or herself and we have many choices but, for me, freesyling is the only way.