Just returned from a great cruise on the Norwegian Sun. We would like to share our experiences and suggestions with anyone contemplating this trip. Our group consisted of 7 people, with the center of attention on our 85 year old (young) mom. My wife Linda and I, my brother Joseph and his wife Rosemary, and my sister MaryAnn and her husband Joe rounded out our group. Other than mom, we are all in our mid 50's.
Embarkation - Unlike other positive posts in this area, our experience was unfavorable. We were told my Norwegian Sun employees at the Miami Airport to arrive at 2:40 p.m. since the passengers from the previous week were late getting off the ship (customs problems). As Latitude preferred members, it took us 2 very long and frustrating hours to get checked in. NCL needs to do a better job managing the check-in lines. First time travelers got checked in twice as fast as Latitude members. This was the low point of the trip. Aside from this experience, everything else was extremely positive.
The Ship - The ship is only 1 year old, very well-kept and clean. We would definitely recommend a cabin with a balcony. Our cabin was on the 9th deck. Plenty of storage room with a great shower. Since the room is dark, we would also recommend you pack a night-light.
Attire - Loved the idea of not having to pack gowns and tuxedos. Even though some people still decided to "dress-up", we packed only casual clothing and never felt out of place. For dinner, sneakers, jeans and shorts are not allowed in the restaurants, but resort casual is fine (e.g Dockers, Capris).
I would rate the food from good to excellent. My recommendation is to try all the restaurants. Don't get locked into any one restaurant since they all have different features.
Garden Café and Great Outdoor Café (B-) - One in the same restaurant; cafeteria style. Good place when your time is limited, you have kids, are into burgers, pizza, fries or late snacks. Our group preferred a sit down relaxing style breakfast, so we chose to have it at the Seven Seas Restaurant.
Seven Seas (A-) - We ate there on Saturday, Sunday and Thursday evenings and every morning for breakfast. We made reservations with the maitre'd when we arrived on the ship for dinner at 6:30 pm for each evening. He held our table for us each night with the same waiter. When we weren't going to have dinner there, we just let him know that day. We found the food to be very good. Service was excellent (waiter was Danielo). Surf and Turf on Thursday was great!
East meets West (A+) - The service charge of $10.00 per person ($5.00 if reservations are before 6:30 p.m.) and well worth it. I had the Sea Bass which was terrific. We split some Sushi and appetizers of Dim Sum. The Crab Wonton was good. Presentation of food and atmosphere of restaurant made this restaurant a fine selection. The waiter was better than excellent. Treat yourself, go for the upgrade.
LeBistro (A+) - Awesome experience!! I ordered the mushroom soup and the Filet Mignon. For dessert the chocolate fondue is an absolute must. by far, this was my best meal of the week.
My brother and sister-in-law ate dinner one night at Il Adagio. They weren't overly impressed. Gave it an OK.
We did not eat in the Pacific Heights or Ginza restaurants. Had ribs and appetizers at the Tappas restaurant and they were excellent. For lunch try the Barbecue Ribs at Champs when offered over the traditional fare at the Garden Café. Twenty four hour room service is a great option to have (and no extra charge).
We tried to take in as many of the shows as possible.
Lisa Donovan (A+) was sensational. We were somewhat disappointed when we heard that Jane Powell (the feature performer) was on vacation but Lisa Donavan put on a marvelous high energy performance two nights during our week.
Jean Ann Ryan performers (A+) - We saw the performances of Encore! Mr. Producer and Cirque Pan. We would highly recommend these shows if you like musicals and Broadway hits!! Exemplary combination of dance and song. All members are very talented.
Comedy - Ted Holum was very funny especially the final performance on Friday night. Vinnie Mark is only average.
Lounge Acts - Roger Hernandez does an impressive tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel. Twice as Nice does a good 70's show. Roots Link Band is very talented. In addition to the pool calypso type music, they can perform all types of music. I would have preferred a better mix.
Service - All of the waiters, stewards and staff we met were friendly, attentive and courteous to our needs. (Be careful, whenever you are offered a drink, you will pay for it. Sometimes it may seem complimentary.)
Tour Excursions (A+)
Grand Cayman - Captain Marvin's Snorkeling and Sting Ray tour was superb! We would highly recommend this excursion. Group is under 15 people with one on one instruction for snorkeling. Boat makes 3 stops. First is general snorkeling (bring your underwater camera for great shots of beautiful fish and coral). Second stop, instructor joins group to feed the Eels. Third stop is only in 3 feet of water, where you can actually hold the stingrays.
Cozumel - 65 foot Fury Catamaran. Trip includes sailing, snorkeling and beach party (4 hours). Margaritas, beer and soda included in the price. We had a blast on this trip, great combination of some beach time/snorkeling and partying. (If you do only one excursion, this is the one.)
Roatan - A beautiful but under-developed island. Tabyana Beach in the west end is the favorite location. My sister and brother-in-law took an independent cab ride along the Coast and enjoyed it very much. We only got off the ship to do a little shopping. Nothing impressive to buy.
Belize - Unless you are into the Maya Ruins, use this day to stay on the ship for some spa or poolside activity. We wasted 4 hours taking a horrible bumpy van ride to the Maya Ruins. I saw enough ruins in the first 5 minutes of my trip. This is an old poor city with people living is terrible shacks. In my opinion, Belize should be eliminated as a stop. I would have preferred spending 2 days in Cozumel.
This was our second cruise with NCL and it was better than expected. My recommendation is to experience all that the ship has to offer, don't restrict yourself to certain restaurants and activities. Don't get caught up in minor annoyances. Let your "hair down", relax and put aside your problems and the world's problems and have a great time! You deserve it!