CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews


Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Sun Western Caribbean August 10, 2002

Our seven day cruise to the Western Caribbean aboard the Norwegian Sun was blessed with near perfect weather. The Sun is one of the newer ships in this line, less than a year old.

For our taste, the ship is not too big and not too small but just right. If you enjoy "people watching" this ship will suit you. Although busy, you never get a feeling that it is overcrowded. Much of this might be the result of the Norwegian Line's "Freestyle Cruising Program". There are no assigned dining times. Of the nine restaurants on the ship, two are buffet and open almost 24/7 (you can't get food all the time, but coffee is always available and fresh.). The two main dining areas, Four Seasons and Seven Seas restaurants are open for breakfast and dinner. There is a two hour window for breakfast here, usually 7am to 9:30am, and dinner is 5:30pm to 10pm. You may come during these times whenever you like, and seating is up to you. If you choose to seat alone you may. The other five restaurants have a pris fixe cover charge of $10/person (Le Bistro - French, Il Adagio - Italian, East Meets West - Asian Fusion eg. )or a modest per piece charge - The Sushi Bar and the Tapas Bar.

The ship itself is immaculate. The cleaning staff is on duty constantly. If you are a sparrow and enjoy the sunrise, watch them do their thing at 5am. Although medium large by today's standards, after a day, you should know your way around the ship. If you do get confused, there are large schematics of the ship with indications of where everything is (you are "here" is indicated) at each of the elevator banks. There are twelve elevators - Four aft, Four stern and the four "Hyatt Regency" open glass ones in the central atrium which goes from deck 5 to deck 11.

We had an "Oceanview Stateroom" on deck 4. This kind of stateroom used to be known as a cabin, which is exactly what it is. The real staterooms are few and located on the uppermost decks - These are the ones which come complete with separate dining room, bedroom, living area, and private deck with Jacusi and butler thrown in. That's a stateroom!!!. However if you don't have $10,000 -15,000 for the week, you will do just fine thankyou on deck 4. You need to consider how long you spend in your room. If it is under two hours, not counting sleep time, don't waste the money. The rest of the ship is one big floating hotel - why are you in your room? - except for horizontal entertainment, all the action is on the entertainment and fun decks. Deck 5 has the main restaurants, Deck 6 has the dance hall (Dazzles), the Cigar Bar, the Piano Bar and the orchestra section of the Stardust Lounge; Deck 7 has the Casino, the dutyfree shops and the balcony of the lounge; Deck 11 has the three pools (one kiddie)and the four large jacuzzis and about one bar per person (well it felt that way :-), the buffet restaurants, the buffet restaurants, the video game room for teenagers who simply can't face reality (the computers are in the atrium on deck seven for computer addicts who can't face reality :-)The charge for internet is $7.50 per MINUTE!! That oughta cure you.) Deck 12 has the speciality restaurants and oh yes, more bars, just in case you missed a drink going from deck five to deck twelve.

The food was superior. Please be realistic when evaluating food on cruise ships. Remember that over 3,000 people need to be fed AT LEAST three times a day (that includes the crew). The buffet restaurants are cafeteria style. It's ok, not great, as you'd expect cafeteria food to be. The selection however is extensive. We thought the cold seafood salads were excellent, esp. the scallops seviche. But if you are the hotdog-hamburger-frenchfrie-make your own salad- type, you'll do fine. There is an omlette chef here for individual orders. Advice: If you are in no rush, have breakfast in one of the two main dining rooms. You are served, there are no trays. The breakfast menu here alternates, and we were particularly delighted to find Eggs Sardou on the menu on two mornings. Here is also where you will find smoked salmon with onions, capers, tomatoes and creamcheese, herring, bagels, smoked kippers etc. Coffee cups seem to refill automatically by the attentive staff. Dinners were for the most part very good to excellent, with the President's Night a must. The exec.chef worked in the White House for years, and this menu is based on the favorite dishes of several administrations. Order dessert first. Order ALL of them. :-). The Captain's Fairwell dinner was also a treat. The rack of lamb was particularly good at the President's, and all of the NYers and NJers seemed to be ordering the "surf and turf" at the Fairwell. You needed to order both the lobster and steak dishes separately and then stick one or the other on the same plate, or hey, eat everything! This is because the mainrooms operate the way banquet halls do and all of the appetizers and entrees are plated up in group in the kitchen. This is also why you should not expect anything in these rooms other than high end banquet style cuisine. For what it is it was superior.

The excursions for the most part were well planned and hassle free. We find that unless you know the island or port from a previous visit it is best to take a guided excursion. The ports of call here were Grand Cayman; Roatan Island, Honduras; Belize; and Cozumel, Mex.

Not to be missed at Grand Cayman is Stingray City. The sandbar is no more than five feet deep of water, and the stingrays are so used to people that they are like the pidgeons at the 42nd St.library - they live so you may feed them. Roatan, still not developed for cruise tourists especially, has a goofy quirky charm that comes from a lack of any real development. The people there are absolutely wonderful and friendly, albeit poor. Please don't haggle with the little boys over their handmade trinkets. If they want six dollars for a necklace, and you like it - don't offer five. Be a sport because this kid will then feed his family for a week. The best part of the day here was sitting on a porch drinking beer and talking about life in general with some of the locals which included expatriates who no doubt found Belize too civilized if that's possible. The Mayan ruins excursions were offered at Belize. We opted for the speedboat up the coast along the huge barrier reef and mango groves. The snorkeling was incredible as visibilty in Shark Ray alley is like looking through clear glass. San Pedro, the small village on Ambergris Key where we had a very decent lunch at one of the open air pubs is also charming and lined with dirt streets. Spend the afternoon looking in some of the local craft shops, then have a few cold ones and listen to reggae music at one of the joints. Cozumel, of course, for those who already know, is discount shoppers heaven. You want it, they got it. Of course they also have Mickey D's, Burger King, Hardrock Cafe, etc. We saw the small Mayan ruin on that island on a tour. I did the Chevy Chase Grand Canyon perusal from "Vacation"; and thankfully it was mercifully brief. There are some fine silver shops which are government run right on the premises, and the deals here were great, as was the quality (.925 Sterling). Playa Sol, the nicest public beach here, had excellent facilities for the day crowd. The sand is not as fine as one would like. It is not like the sand on Aruba's Palm Beach, but you won't step on any rocks or broken shells either.

The organized activities program is run very professionally, they are well organized and fun for those who need such things. Moreover, if you do not like these things, the announcements for them are non-intrusive, and not overdone. Same thing goes for staff photographers. We were never "assaulted" or interrupted during a meal to stop and have our pictures taken. If you want your picture taken, ask them and they will be happy to do so, otherwise for the most part you are left alone.

In summary, this is a great ship and cruise, for families and couples. The ship is large enough that there is room for those who crave quiet and privacy, those who like to mix and mingle, those who like to gamble away their money, and those who appreciate casual and relaxed food service of superior quality.

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