Norwegian Cruise Line - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews
Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Sun
by Georgia (Magnolia Blossom)
Western Caribbean
March 25, 2007

About us. 54/59 year old semi-retired professiinals. Our 28th cruises, 7th on NCL and 3rd on the Sun. Not terribly fussy, pretty laid back.

Embarkation - Port of New Orleans.
This was our third sailing from the new facility and each time has been a bit more organized. They seem to finally have their staff trained. The "new" facility is in the same location as the old but they have expanded and and added an on-site 5 story parking garage. You pull into the garage, pay your $98/7 day cruise with cash or credit card and pull up to drop off luggage, if necessary, then proceed to the designated floor. Elevators are in the center and far end of the garage. If you use the far end elevators you will come out on the outside of the terminal and may have to wait in a line there, so it is best to use the central elevators which place you right where you need to be. You will show identifcation (tickets and photo i.d.) and enter the "cattle chute" toward the windows. From the time we left our car until we were in line was only a few minutes. We had preregistered online so they swiped our credit card, verified our passport, took our photos and we were off with room keys inhand. Three stations were set up for photos and 20 minutes after locking the car we were unlocking our cabin.

The Ship
The Sun is one of the ships built for freestyle cruising, and so is superior to the Dream, the Sea or Majesty, which we sailed in the past. There are no real bottlenecks. The interior is done in NCL's typical understated style and is filled with bronze colored woods, brass and bronzy colored granite. In places the interior seemed somewhat stark but overall it is a sleek and elegant ship no glitz or neon. She was in dry dock in November so all the paint and soft surfaces are fresh. The atrium area is a bit on the small side and the panoramic elevators are oddly shaped (kind of keyhole shaped, narrow at the entrance, ballooning out toward the rear), which made for difficulty in loading and offloading. There are a lot of elevators on this ship and they seemed to run more quickly than on most. The central staircases are of the typical spiral type, making attractive places for photos. Several bars, the Internet cafe and customer service areas all rim the atrium. Hallways are nearly devoid of artwork; the artworks in the stairways were large florals, with a different flower for each floor (if it's sunflowers, I must be near the cabin!).

Dining
There are two main dining rooms, appointed primarily with two- and four-person tables. They are easily rearranged for larger groups. The Seven Seas dining room is on the stern, so it has windows on three sides allowing for many window tables. There were no booths, just tables (although some tables had unusual center legs, making it difficult to cross your legs).

The buffet was well laid out and only the beverage area was weird. The ice dispenser was in the center rather than at the beginning near the glassware. The omelet station was in a separate location (Las Ramblas) and theBelgian waffle station was in Pacific Heights. It is necessary to wear a shirt and shoes in the buffet. An outside buffet area serves nearly identical fare, plus hot dogs and hamburgers. Its seating area was on the stern a very pleasant spot where you could dine in your bathing suit. You do need to pass through the indoor buffet to get there, but you didn't need to be fully dressed if you were just passing through. There is a complimentary ice cream bar off the pool area, which was open most of the time.

Several specialty restaurants were available such as a tapas bar, sushi bar, Japanese, Italian, and French restaurant and a steak house. All but the tapas bar and Pacific Heights required an additional fee. Pacific Heights is a lighter fare/health conscious restaurant and no additional cost applies. The "pay" restaurants require reservations and the cost is from $20-$30. If you dine at 5:30 or 6:00 there is a 50% reduction in cost.

Spa
The spa, off the pool area, had a large assortment of exercise equipment. yoga, pilates and spinning classes were available for a fee; aerobics sessions were complimentary. The spa is operated by the Mandara company, and thus operates much like those on other lines. The steam room and saunas were small but free. The showers in the spa were much more spacious than the cabin showers and had liquid soap and shampoo available. The showers had transparent doors which might give bashful folks a problem; but more problematic for me was their tendency to slide open as the ship rolled.

The theater seats were high-backed, which created a bit of a problem for short people like me who had to crane a bit to see above the back. Seating down front was much more comfortable. There were two levels to the theater, and several poles created partial obstructions.

Lounges
There were several lounges, and the Observation Lounge on Deck 12 at the bow provides a beautiful, sweeping view. It is a nice place to hide away during the day and read, as it did not seem to be used much. It is nicely appointed with rattan furniture and a medium size dance floor. Dazzles is more centrally located and has a larger dance floor and many activities e.g. game shows, art auctions were held there. A champagne bar adjoins the atrium as does a coffee bar. The Sports Bar on Deck 12 had many TV screens and served 22 types of beer. It is a great place to view the world but too smoky for me.

The pool area has two pools divided by a raised area of four Jacuzzis. The pool water is salt water. Walking decks are the promenade, with 3-1/2 laps per mile and festive murals all the way around; and the sports deck, which has a padded walking surface but requires something like 12 laps to the mile. The promenade deck is the boat deck so it is covered walking while the sports deck is sunny.

Casino
The casino is well laid out and has the usual variety of slots, video poker and table games. There are quite a few penny and nickel machines, a goodly number of quarter and the balance are 50 cents through $5. There are video poker machines ranging from penny to $1. Table games are craps, blackjack, roulette, Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud, Baccarat and Texas Hold-em. Casino service was prompt and courteous. The usual blackjack and slots tournaments were held throughout the cruise and I believe there was a poker tourney too but I'm not positive. The slots now use paper tickets so I found that to be a welcomed change.

Cabin
Ours was a balcony (BA) cabin on Deck 10. Storage was more than ample. The desk area had one electrical outlet which was the only one in the cabin. A refrigerator, TV, and four-cup coffeepot were standard. Folgers coffee was provided. The bathroom has a circular shower with a curtain held snugly in place by vertical rods in the curtain. Six storage shelves were provided. There is a real toilet paper holder (so the tissue does not fly off the holder with use), a wall mounted hair dryer, and an outlet for electric razors. The shower has normal single handle controls and an adjustable-height shower head. Liquid soap and shampoo dispensers were in the shower. The bedding is the typical NCL duvet and quality cotton.On previous voyages there had been DVD players in the room which have now been removed. Likewise, for the rental area onboard.

Entertainment
The shows were excellent and usually 45-50 minutes in length. We did not take in any shows other than the Jean Ryan dancers but our travel partners said the comedian was very good and the female hypnotist was awful. Lounge entertainment was quite good. I felt the entertainment was better than usual.

The usual game shows, bingo and poolside activities were offered. The ship also has a mesh enclosed basketball court, ping-pong area, and golf driving range.

In the library the usual board games were available for checkout, and bridge gatherings were held. Friends of Bill and Friends of Dorothy had regurlarly posted meetings but I was disappointed that no Veterans meeting was scheduled this time. My husband always enjoys those.

Food
The quality was a bit better than most other ships, but that is such a matter of personal taste that it is hard to judge. The menus seem to have been revamped along with the new "Whatever" advertising program. In the past I've thought menu descriptions a bit confusing and this time they were a bit abbreviated but the food quality had improved considerably since our trip last October. On lobster night they actually had decent-sized lobsters. Although we never had supper at the buffet I was told they servce identical items in the evening on the buffet. Although I doubt that includes steak and lobster!

Wine service was handled by the waiters and went smoothly. There was no wine program available unless you are a Latitudes member; then you could buy five and get one free.

Thankfully, there was no nightly entertainment by dancing waiters, and the dress code was enforced. The Sun now allows nice jeans in the dining room but I saw a few people turned away for shorts and no ball caps were visible either. Buffet food was the usual fare, of good quality and available round the clock with the exception of change-over pauses in service. Food was also available at times in the casino.

Cleanliness The ship was the cleanest I've ever been on. Hand sanitizing was strictly enforced at embarkations and at all buffet lines and restaurant entrances.

Staff
One of the friendliest staff I've enountered. They all seemed particularly adept at remembering names throughout the week a nice touch. The only indifferent or rude folks I encountered were in the dining room where they seemed to be very understaffed at times.

Disembarking NCL has an express system whereby if you carry all your luggage off yourself, you can be in the first group off the ship. Quite a few people seemed to opt for this. We were off the ship by 7:28 a.m. and breezed through Customs. We exited the parking lot at 7:30. Wow!You are allowed to wait in your cabin until your group is called.

This and That
Tips are added to your account automatically unless you request otherwise.

Security was very good. They seem to have gotten absolutely rabid about liquor smuggling as well as irons, so attempt it at your own risk.

Photographers:
Almost invisible! The photography staff was available for formal photos and as always at the pier, but they were not in your face every time you turned around.

Announcements were kept to a minimum.

There was no captain's party for everyone. Just a Latitude's party which was at 11 a.m. on a sea day.

Drinks were of good quality and volume but the prices have really skyrocketed!

Passengers were a middle aged crowd with quite a few younger folks, but it was spring break time.Passengers were mostly U.S. citizens. There were quite a few children, all of whom were well behaved.

As for Internet access, the ship has about 10 stations available but I mostly use the more affordable shore-side outlets. Per-minute use was 75 cents and packages were available including wireless. Phone service is available from your cabin for $7.95/minute. They bill it down to the second as I found out when my mother was hospitalized and I needed to make a few calls.

The passenger talent show one night was the usual embarrassing display.

The jewelry shop onboard is a Columbian Emeralds shop.

Latitudes comps seem chintzier than in the past.

You can book onboard for future cruises. I should have taken advantage of this but couldn't get my act together this time! They were offering discounted pricing, OBCs, puny deposits and 100% refunds for cancellations.

Bar set up for our room was $43/liter of Dewars plus purchasing club soda by the can. You can do this prior to sailing through NCL.

Overall:
It was a wonderful trip and I would sail the Sun again any time. My only complaint was slower service in the dining room but that certainly did not overshadow any of our vacation. The Sun will not return to N.O. after her Alaskan summer and will be replaced by the Spirit.