by Nita McKelvey
April 15, 2006
As most of you know I am an NCL loyalist but try to be objective at the same time. As in everything in life things look different from one person to the other and my experience on the Sun is no exception.
As is usually the case with NCL embarkation was a breeze. After spending the night in Miami my daugter and I got to the port about 11:15am and were in our cabin by noon. We dropped off our carry on items and headed to the buffet.
The choices were not as elaborate as on some lines but what was offered was tasty and pleasantly prepared. It is always wonderful to savor that first meal on any ship while soaking up a few sun rays. Speaking of rays, we finished our lunch, headed back to our cabin and jumped into our swim wear so we could soak up a few more before the crowds arrived. I have often heard the waiters push drinks too hard: this was not our experience. Sure, they tried to sell us on the fancy drinks, but that is their job; never did we feel pressured. this was our experience throughout the week, never did we feel the staff overdid it with the drinks.
After spending about an hour in the sun and prior to the life boat drill we headed for the atruim area where we reserved our times for the specialty dining throuhout the week. I recommend everyone do this as soon as possible as the most desired times do fill up fast. The life boat drill was just like any other, something you wish you could just forget but you know must be done. It was really pretty painless and only lasted about 10 minutes.
Following the drill we headed to the observation lounge to meet with a group of people we had contacted via the net. After downing a couple of drinks my daughter and I moved on to dinner in the main dining room or one of them.
Now I am on the subject of food I will elaborate about our experiences. All the specialty restaurants were as good as we had expected or perhaps better. I am not certain I would eat at East meet West again, yes, the food was wonderful: I indulged in the Lobster while my daughter choose a steak. Why would we not return (and I am not saying I would not, but may not) the atmosphere left so much to be desired and the service was good, but not outstanding. Our favorite specialty restaurant still is Le Bistro: great service, friendly staff and the food is outstanding. My daughter loved the habachi table, I too thought the food was great while the cooks entertained us for about 90 minutes. The inter acting with the others eating at the same can determine the true success; we didn't have the most outgoing group at our seating. One of the fun nights for us was simply enjoying the early part of the evening sipping wine and eating tapas at Las Ramblas followed by fish and chips in the sports bar much later. Overall we had no complaints about the food; I wasn't as crazy about the breakfast buffet set up as my daughter was as she thought just going to Las Ramblas for omelettes each morning was fine: I like a litte more variety. We did manage not morning to eat in the dining room: I had to experience the eggs benedict. They were worth waiting for: as good as any I have ever had. The first night we choose Prime Rib for dinner in the main dining room and the last I had beef strogonof while my daughter choose fish. Yes, the strogonof is made with beets and yes, that is the correct way to make this Russian dish: different, yep and yet I really enjoyed it after I got over the shock. The shrimp cocktails that have been criticized by so many were, again, prepared the way they are supposed to be: yes, with shredded lettuce. No, the baby shrimp is not out of a can, it is just what it says, baby shrimp: small but with lots of flavor. I do wish they had added a little more cocktail sause. overall, like most lines, the quality and size of the portions have gone down hill in the past 5 years, but never did we feel the meal was below par and certainly not horrible as some have indicated. Again, this is my opinion only.
The ports a call were mixed. We would have prefered not to even get off the ship in Samana but we did, we walked around town, purchaged nothing and enjoyed the rest of the day by the pool. Tortola, as usually was wonderful, but very hot and St Thomas is always good for shopping if nothing else. Our last stop was the private island. I felt like I was back in high school, attending a summer beach picnic. After a 10 minute tender ride we walked up a short ramp to heaven with the smells of bar b que everywhere, kids playing volleyball, people laying in the sun or enjoying the crystal clear water and couples just walking around and enjoying the day. I would recommend you take an early tender. We choose to wait and it was packed by the time we got there.
As for the entertainment, the 3 shows we saw rated high on our list, the day time activities were fun, especially the martini clinic. it was amazing how a group of strangers can get together, drink a few martinis and suddenly be sharing their life story with each other. The casino was busy most of the time, but not too many were winning enough to pay for their cruises, that I can assure you!!LOL.
The service was great with the exception of a few times in the dining room. We would notice our water glasses not being refilled, but so what, we are quite capable of asking for more water if we want it. Of course as always the crew was very friendly and helpful.
There certainly were a few disappointments: the new Art Auctioneers are awful in our opinion, as I said there were times when the dining room service lacked a little and of course the price of drinks is still shocking but really no more if as much as on Celebrity or in the major cities here in the states. It's just a shock. We did get busted with our 2 bottles of wine when we boarded. My 2 buck Chuck became 17 buck Chuck. The other bottle was a very good wine so I didn't mind spending the $15 cockage. Our 3 liter box went through with no trouble.
I really can't find too much negative to write and am more than glad to answer any quetions you may have. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org