April 1, 2006
This was our third cruise together as a couple and my fourth cruise total. I am 42 and my partner is 34. I have been on the Carnival Inspiration, the Radisson Diamond, Royal Caribbean's Grandure of the Sea and now NCL's Sun. (I will never, if there is a god, take another Carnival cruise). I must admit, I had like some of the formality of the Radisson and Royal Caribbean's cruise. Dressing for dinner, etc. So when I kept hearing about NCL's freestyle, I was very apprehensive. I honestly kept thinking it would be a lot of ill behaved young people, college students, etc. I was very surprised and very pleased.
Departure - The only truly negative memory I have about the entire cruise was the departure. We always get a suite and enjoy the "perk" of having priority boarding. After we went through the line to show our travel documentation, we were sent to the area where you get your cabin key. They did not have ours for some reason. No big deal. Things happen. So we had to go have our cabin keys made. After that, they tried to seat us in the general boarding area. I tried to advise the gentleman that was directing people where to sit that we had a suite and I had been told by NCL that included priority boarding. He asked me which suite we had. I told him the Penthouse Suite, which is the least of all of NCL Sun's full suites. He looked at me and told me that I didn't have the Penthouse Suite, that the Penthouse cost 10,000.00 a night. I tried to explain to NCL's own employee that it wasn't a "penthouse" suite, that it was a Penthouse Suite.. He still didn't get it, and actually inferred that I could not afford a Penthouse Suite.
Now, I dress causal, but in nice clothes. I was not in a shirt and tie with slacks. I realize this guy was in Miami and I am from Texas, but in Texas we don't judge a book by its cover. You can be talking to someone for an hour and not even realize they are worth $50,000,000. Until later you learn who they are. Believe me.. I have done that before. So I thought that was tacky of him to judge me like that. We finally got someone to half way listen to what we were saying and they finally bestowed upon us the honor of sitting with the Latitude Members which I believe gets second priority boarding. Not trying to dish the Latitude Members or anything like that, it's just I wish I could have found someone to listen to what I was trying to tell them, or at least take a look at my ticket so I could have been directed to the appropriate place. Six employees' and they were all too busy to listen.
Every thing else I have to say about the cruise, staff and ship is wonderful. Our cabin steward was terrific as was our butler. Our Cabin Steward always had us fresh beach towel ready every day we were in port; we never had to wait in line for a towel. Our suite came with two butlers but we never met the second one. This was our first suite that had a Concierge and a Butler. We had read online that several cruisers recommended tipping the butler at the beginning and at the end of the cruise. ½ of what you budget for his/her tip at the beginning and ½ at the end. We had budgeted to tip both butlers, but, as I say, never met the second one.
Our cabin was wonderful. It had a living room with a sofa and two chairs, a table, bar, mini fridge, beautiful wood paneling. French doors separated the bedroom that had closets in the bedroom. There was a dressing area between the bedroom and bathroom and it had closets as well. The bathroom had a huge vanity area, a jetted tub with a shower head and a separate shower. The toilet was in its own room. The balcony was enormous. It wrapped around the back of the ship to the side of the ship. It had at least four lounge chairs and four deck chairs and two tables and there was still plenty of room. Now I said I wasn't going to say anything else negative, but I did just think of this. Nothing major, but still worth mentioning. Our cabin was on the back of the ship, on the deck right below the outdoor grill where they have the great burgers, etc. Every morning we would wake up to trash, banana peels, etc, that had been thrown down or blown down from the outdoor café. If I were to book on this ship again, I believe I might try for a cabin on the front of the ship.
Ports of call were Samana, Dominican Republic. It is a new destination. The only tour attractive for us was to Cayo Levantado. This beach is fantastic. It was well worth whatever the cost was. The next port of call was Tortola. Very beautiful place. We took the Virgin Gorda Highlights Tour. This takes you to the Baths, an incredibly beautiful place. I have been to St. Thomas five or six times, actually staying there one time for 8 days. So at St. Thomas we actually took the tour that went over to St. Johns., I believe it is their beach escape. Probably the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. It at least tie's in my book with Aruba's beaches. And of course we went to NCL's private island as the last port of call. I really enjoyed their private island. It was amazing to me how many people had to be on that little stretch of island and yet there were still plenty of chairs, picnic tables, etc. All of the excursions we took were well worth the money.
The casino. We were in the casino almost every moment it was opened. We did actually hit several jackpots, but, as fun as the casino was, I can tell you this. What we paid for a suite for two was a lot less than what we spent in the casino. Probably 1/3 to ¼ what we spent in the casino. The casino's staff was very friendly and always there when I needed them for something. We were able to draw up to $2,000.00 a day from the cashier using our room key. I think anyone can do that. It sure is better than having to travel with a lot of cash. If I had one concern about the casino, it was that there was this one group of four elderly people that would hang around someone on a slot machine and wait for them to put in a ton of money, then as soon as that person got up, they would get on the machine to see if they could win what had just been put in the machine. Now there is nothing that can be done about people coming up after you and playing your machine. However I wish the casino staff had kept them from sitting around you like vultures and not playing a slot machine while sitting there. Funny enough, that is what every one in the casino started calling them.. The Vulture gang.
Of the cruises I have been on, I have to say that overall , this was the best. Loved the staff, loved the ship, and loved our cabin. Would take this exact same cruise again with no hesitation.