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 decent size, 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.