We are two nearly first time cruisers (I went on a cruise to Mexico when I was six years old), so this review might be a bit na´ve.
Ship & Cabin
We were in one of the larger inside cabins and it was very roomy. There was a King sized bed and an additional single bed sized sofa with enough room to walk on either side of the bed. Plenty of closet, shelf and drawer space, a little fridge and a TV. We were pleasantly surprised at the spaciousness of the cabin. When we cruise again we will splurge for a room with a balcony - it isn't worth the extra money for a window, but it is for a private balcony to sun on. The first night after most of the cruisers had turned in, we did our own exploration of the ship. This was great as some of the ship was confusing (the dining room we always ate at could only be accessed from one stairway/elevator).
There are two decent sized pools, though they are always packed during the sunshine - as are the basketball courts and fitness center, especially during the morning hours. The running/walking track is less used and was a nice place to get some sun, fresh air and exercise.
We thought the food in the dining rooms was great! Lots of great seafood (though I wasn't very impressed with my lobster on the second night), and fantastic dairy - the butter is heavenly. We heard from friends we met on board that the food in the specialized restaurants is even better, but we were happy enough with the main dining menus that we felt no compulsion to shell out $10/person. The breakfast buffet is great if you like danish, but the eggs are horrible and cold and runny - if you have to do the buffet, go to the omelet bar and have them make your eggs fresh. We would have liked to have breakfast in the dining room more, but most days you need to be in there before 8 or 9 am to have breakfast and make an early tender.
Our one other complaint was the chocolate buffet - they didn't serve milk! We took ours back to the room and ordered milk from room service...
I thought the performaing company, the Jean Ann Ryan Company, was fantastic. One of their shows was a bit bizarre (Cirque Pan - think Peter Pan), but they were always entertaining. I am sure that I will see one particular performer someday in movies or TV - he would make a incredible villain. The comic, Ted Hollum, is horrible and actually cleared a packed room with his late night (adults only) comedy. The cruise director and his staff are quite amusing and put on a good little comedy hour towards the end of the week.
Ports and Getting to Them
The tendering to ports wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. The process at Grand Cayman was so quick, we hardly had time to go back to the room and grab our fins before we were on a boat to the island. Grand Cayman is very nice. We snorkeled first at Cemetery Reef (a five dollar taxi ride from the dock). I didn't like the fact that the fish there were so accustomed to humans feeding them and so essentially swarm you - I much prefer the authentic experience of chasing the fish, not the other way around. Scott loved the fact that all the fish schooled with him though.
We then took a lunch recommendation from our cab driver (don't remember the name of the place). It had good food (if a bit expensive, but everything on Grand Cayman is expensive), and a deck with a set of stairs to the water. We left our gear at the table and went snorkeling at a wreck right there off the restaurant.
Tendering to Roatan was more difficult. It took a few hours to get on the island. Roatan is very primitive and exiting the gates at the dock is a bit scary. We were accosted by locals trying to get us in their cab (it was like a scene out of a documentary). We paid $30 to rent a car and driver for the entire day and this included a 15 year old English speaking "guide". Didn't know anyone who got a better deal - we had to do a lot of talking for ours.
The driver took us to a little beach with a store and restaurant. There is a beautiful reef right off shore and plenty of non-reef swimming space too. Watch your stuff (or have your guide watch it for you), because our friends had their bag (and camera and sunglasses) stolen off the beach.
We did a shore excursion in Belize so didn't have to worry about getting tender tickets. We went cave tubing at Jaguar Paw resort. This was very cool. Not too strenuous (even though the description calls this a heavy exertion activity). It was a bit exhilarating however when our head lamps went out before we got to the end of the cave. This included a chicken and rice lunch. Many excursions include lunch, but if you don't drink sugar (like I don't), be sure to bring your own beverage because they won't provide anything for you but coke and beer.
In Cozumel we took the shore excursion to the Tulum Mayan ruins. Unbeknownst to us, the excursion included a forced stop at a jewelry store where we were subjected to guerilla sales tactics. After we complained to the excursion director, we got 30% of our money back and were told this tour would be changed for future cruises. If you are good at haggling, take some time at Tulum to shop. We got some great deals. The shopping at Cozumel is a lot of the same old touristy things in all the shops (T shirts and stuff).
We thought it was very nice to be able to eat where and when we wanted. I had read comments about service being poor because of no incentive for good performance, but we didn't see this. Only one of our servers was bad, and we were glad that because of freestyle cruising, we didn't have to have her every night. We learned a few nights in to request a table by the window, and they met our request every night we asked. At dinner after Cozumel, I was treated to the sight of three late cruisers running to catch the ship. It was also nice to be able to wake up late and stay in our room until our group debarked.
All in all we had a very good time and felt that despite a few complaints, the Norwegian Sun met most and exceeded some of our expectations.