Our group of 16 returned on August 31st from a wonderful week on the NCL Sun. Out of the 16 we had four children ranging in age 1 to 14. More than half the group had cruised before on different lines. We made our own arrangements to fly from New York to Miami and were going on two difference flights. Both our flights went smoothly.
My main concerns when traveling are good weather, clean rooms and decent food. Before going on the cruise some of our group read reviews to get an idea of what to expect and what to do on the islands. Some of the reviews I read on a variety of websites were totally contradicting, two people with completely different experiences that were on the Sun during the same week. Of course, this is not surprising; everyone has a right to his or her own views. Some people see the glass half full and some half empty. I believe our group was the half full type.
I thought embarkation went fine; we got on the ship within an hour, the only thing holding us up were photos taken as you boarded. We met up with the rest of our group and had lunch and drinks and walked around the ship. We were told our luggage would arrive by six, if I recall correctly everyone got their luggage in time to shower and change for dinner at 6:00.
We made reservations in the Seven Seas restaurant and had a table for sixteen and a very polite and very nice waiter. He did some napkin tricks and origami, which was entertaining for the kids and us adults also. After that, we had a different waiter for the rest of the week, Made, from Bali, he was also very nice, polite and accommodating. What memories they have, I couldn't imagine dealing with a table of 16. He was wonderful and we tipped him extra and also the other waiter helping him, they deserved it. We ate all but one of our dinners in the Seven Seas and went to the Four Seasons one night. Our dinners ranged from good to excellent. They had some really interesting and unique choices. They always had a cold soup on the menu and they were delicious, more like dessert than soup. They had a variety of appetizers and entrees, a vegetarian dish every night, which is what my sister in law usually ordered and she said they were very good., there was always something on the menu to order and if you couldn't make a decision the waiter would bring out both your choices. The desserts were delicious, I am still thinking about them. If we saw something on the Four Seasons menu that we preferred we could order it even though we were dining in Seven Seas. The staff was very accommodating and they went out of their way to make us happy. I read a review that said that 90% of the staff on the Sun weren't nice, don't know what ship he was on but we never came across anyone who was not accommodating and friendly.
The ship is new and beautiful, very clean. Some of the group figured it our right away and some it took a little longer. We didn't have any problems getting from one side of the ship to the other. Our rooms were a good size. Some of our group had balcony rooms and some had inside staterooms for four. The inside state rooms for four were roomy and the sofa bed pulled out, my nephews said they slept fine. They brought in a crib for the one year old. What I would recommend is to bring a illuminated clock so if you are in an inside room you don't have to turn on a light to see what time it is. Even in the balcony room, once you close the curtains it is dark so that would be helpful. The phones can be set for wakeup calls, which is convenient. Our steward Charles always had a smile for us and our room was spotless beds turned down with a chocolate on each bed. On our first night we left our room looking like a clothes bomb went off and found it nice and neat when we returned. We tipped him extra at the end of the week, because we wanted to.
The pool area was nice and since someone in the group was always up early we never had a problem getting lounges in the sun and also in the shade. The group that had cruised before said the two pools were a good size; they also had four Jacuzzis between the pools. They are not pools to swim in but to just get wet. They were salt water and were emptied every evening and refilled. I don't know if that is what all the pools are like on other cruise lines. I thought it was a great idea. They were pushing the drinks, could be a little annoying at times, the drinks were $4.95 for a regular size but if you wanted the special glasses they started at $7.95 and up (depending on the size) refills were then cheaper.
The buffets, well, they were buffets, we weren't expecting gourmet meals. I enjoyed the fish and seafood salads that were served and they always had a variety of desserts (yummy) we always found something to eat and were happy with our meals, no complaints. We mostly ate breakfast at the buffets and also went and had sit down breakfast in the restaurants which was very good, lots of choices on the menu and much more relaxed than the buffet.
The shows were good. Bingo Bruce and Rich are very funny, whenever they put on a show, they had you laughing, especially the audience participation, it is always amazing what the audience will do and say. JJ Walker, (from the TV show Good Times) put on a comedy show, he was very funny, he then performed with Rich and Bingo Bruce and the other comedian on the ship, it was a good show. They had a singer, Jane L. Powell who has a beautiful voice, we saw her both times she performed. The entertainment was really good.
In the Caymans, some of the group took the ship excursion to Stingray City and raved about it. My nephews didn't want to get out of the water. The rest of our group went to the beach. The beach was beautiful but there were lots of rocks on the beach, especially getting in and out of the water. It was painful getting in and out. We sort of felt that our taxi just dumped us at the first beach he came to. We set a time for him to pick us up and he charged $3.00 per person each way. We then went into town and looked in the shops a while.
In Roatan, not all the group got off the ship and some that did were a little reluctant. Some of the reviews that they read scared them and they also read about the sand fleas on the beach. I wanted to go to the beach, the pictures I saw on the internet looked beautiful. When we got off the ship we were approached by a gentleman and we discussed going to West Bay, he arranged for a van to take all of us and charged $15.00 per person round trip. He would come and pick us up at the time we wanted and he would be paid when he returned us to the ship. The ride to the beach was on a road along the shore that was eye-opening lots of shacks and poverty. My nephews had questions, they had never seen anything like that. All the children we passed waved hello, I kept thinking how lucky we were and I am sure the rest of the group was thinking the same. We may have gotten the oldest van on the island and we were wondering if we were going to make it up and over the mountain to the beach. Some of the views were just beautiful. We came to the Mayan Princess, which is under construction and look like beautiful villas, and our driver walked us to the beach, after seeing all the construction we didn't know what to expect but as we walked through the restaurant/bar onto the beach we were in paradise. I have seen many beaches and this was up there on top of the list of most beautiful beaches. There were lounges we could use and umbrellas for shade as long as we ordered drinks or food. No problem for our group. We had a wonderful day. I didn't want to leave. A couple of the group got bites from the sand fleas but they don't itch just leave a red mark. Nothing to be concerned about.
Belize - make plans for an excursion because there is nothing to do in the city. I went to Caye Caulker, one of the islands, I took a water taxi that was by the tender, the cost $12.00 US round trip, there is also another water taxi by the swing bridge in town with a better schedule. It took 45 minutes to get there and the ride was really nice and water beautiful. We passed many islands along the way. They dropped me off and I walked across the island, that took about 5 minutes or less. There are restaurants and shops, it was cute. The beach, well, the whole island is sort of a beach but the area I walked through was not a really soft sandy beach and there was a lot of sea grass and small wooden docks every 20 feet or so along the beach side. I sat under a palm (lots of palms) and relaxed. It was a very laid back atmosphere. I caught the water taxi back (and they are right on time) and enjoyed the ride back.
Cozumel - Some of the group went to Chankanab to snorkel, the water is absolutely beautiful, lot of fish, my nephews were very happy taking underwater photos, which you can buy there and also rent snorkel equipment. We then went to meet the rest of the group at Mr. Sanchos. They have a restaurant and bar on the beach with pallapas for shade chairs and lounges. You can use it as long as you buy drinks/food. The weather was good for most of our time there and then a storm came through that lasted about ½ hour. Then the weather got nice again. It seems it only rained on that side of the beach. We then went to town and looked in the shops. That night was lobster night which some of us had. They served two tails, the lobster was delicious, so tender, we had bananas foster for dessert, who could ask for a better day.
Our day at sea was spent relaxing. I made an appointment for a hair treatment and scalp massage. It was absolutely wonderful. Dina also massaged my neck, shoulders and top of my back. I almost fell asleep. Wonderful way to end the cruise.
So that was our week. Our weather was absolutely beautiful food great and accommodations wonderful. I was happy.