This is being written as a warning to anyone planning on traveling with NCL, or Norwegian Cruise Line. They completely misrepresent what to expect on their ships, and the food is way below average unless you are willing to use the "pay" restaurants every night. We just returned from the 1/28 sailing with Norwegian Sun and couldn't wait to get home!!My fiancee and I are 26 and 35 years old.
We have average incomes and didn't have insane expectations for this cruise. What we expected was to be entertained, eat a lot of good food, and most important - to have fun! NONE of these things happened. Because there are so many bad things to report I have decided to make a list of the worst things we experienced!
1) Nothing is organized correctly, so expect to be waiting around a lot.
2) Unless you book your excursion through NCL you must wait to be let off the ship last, and have no priority. If you DO book through NCL expect to leave for your excursion at LEAST an hour later than they say, and to have it be nothing like ithas been described.
* For example, in Belize we booked the Arial Trek & Cave Tubing. We spent at least an hour waiting in line on slippery steep rock steps for the zip lining while in our "protective gear." The zip lining itself lasted maybe 20 minutes. NCL described it as "floating above the trees for two hours." Get the picture here? I'm not even going into detail about how unsafe the cave tubing was.
* In Cozumel NCL caused us to miss the ferry to Playa Del Carmen. Because they were not only unorganized, but since we had not booked through them (they did not offer this tour) we were forced to wait longer than the other people. We spent most of our day back on the ship fighting with both NCL and Xcaret to get our money refunded. We are still fighting for our money back from Xcaret, and NCL is the sole reason for us missing the ferry.
* Some people (not us) were stranded on an island instead of deep sea fishing for 5 hours with no food, drinks or water. I'm sure you'll be hearing from them on some of these sites as well!
3) You must dress up for every restaurant after 5:00 pm. * You may wear anything you like to the buffet, but good luck finding the large buffet open during port days or after 8pm.
4) The food in the non-pay dining rooms is the same on both menus, and horrible. * We ate it to be polite, but at the table of four next to us two people got up and left when the food was delivered. The other two complained, but ate. The table next to them complained and made faces throughout their entire dinner, then ordered a bottle of white wine to ease the pain. * I lost weight during this cruise and was usually hungry. No joke!
5) The average age of passenger was 55. * This cruise should be billed as a cruise for seniors. This made the entire pace of the cruise very slow.
5a) Because the average age of people was older, the trivia games as well as name that tune were focused on the 20's-50's. I'm NOT kidding. These games in and of themselves were horribly run and set up as well.
6) Children (although there were not many of them) take over the pool/hot tub area. No attempt is made by the NCL staff to move them to the children's area of the ship. This makes it impossible to use the hot tubs.
7) The one day we stayed by the pool my watch was stolen. NCL logged it into their very large book of "missing" items.
8) The entertainment was dreadful. The woman who won the "guest talent show" was better than any singer the cruise line provided.
These, trust me, are still not ALL of the bad points of this ship. It must get as old reading all of this as it did experiencing it. Since you probably get the point I will list the good points!
1) Our room was always clean, and the maids were quick. * We had a large balcony room and that was the saving grace of this trip. We spent a lot of time there on the balcony or in the casino because the rest of the ship and it's entertainment were useless.
2) The staff was always friendly and polite. These people work hard and you should respect them!
In conclusion, this trip was a major disappointment. My fiancee forced me to remember that we have to make the best of things, so that is what we tried to do. We did meet some very nice people, but not while on the ship. We met the most people while at port in Cozumel. We decided to write this as a warning to people who are traveling with NCL, specifically the NCL SUN. Lower your expectations before going on this cruise or you WILL be disappointed. Our advice? Cancel if you can and try either another NCL ship, or other cruise line all together. We, personally will never travel with NCL again.
Embarkation - Port of Houston I have sailed from here once before and at that time things went much more smoothly. On the day of our sailing, it was particularly disorganized but this was the Sun's first sailing ever from there; it arrived in port two hours late, so that, coupled with a changeover of 300 or so crew, may have contributed to the poor communications evident during boarding. But once we got inside the building, we were onboard in 80 minutes. From the time the lines opened, it took about 25 minutes. Boarding began at 12:20 p.m. Parking is $7 a day in the lot adjacent to the pier.
The walkway to the ship is very long and steep in places, so if you have difficulty walking inclines I suggest you get a wheelchair.
The greeting onboard was chaotic, probably due to new staff.
The Ship The Sun is one of the ships built for freestyle cruising, and so is superior to the Dream 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 coloredwoods, brass and bronzy colored granite. In places the interior seemed somewhat stark and a bit claustrophobic but overall it is a sleek and elegant ship -- no glitz or neon here. 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. 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 poppies, I must be near the casino!). Hallways were carpeted in brick-dust red with buttery yellow walls. Common areas had blue carpet. All carpet and wall surfaces were in excellent repair.
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. An omelet station was off to the side, as was a separate Belgian waffle station. 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. At lunch and dinner, the waffle station became the dessert station and the omelet island was stir fry or Indian cuisine. Several specialty restaurants were available such as a tapas bar, sushi bar, Italian restaurant and steak house. All but the tapas bar required an additional fee. On formal night the fee for the steak house was reduced from $10 to $5.
Spa The spa, off the pool area, had a large assortment of exercise equipment. Yoga and Pilates 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 cute little 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.
There were several lounges, and the Observation Lounge on Deck 12 at the bow and 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 and bingo -- 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.
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.
The casino is well laid out and has the usual variety of slots, video poker and table games. There are 10 penny machines, 18 nickels, a goodly number of quarter and the balance are 50 cents through $5. There are four $1 video poker machines, four quarter poker machines and eight progressive quarter machines. They are connected to other machines in the fleet. Table games are craps, blackjack, roulette, Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud, Baccarat and Texas Hold-em. Casino service was prompt and courteous. There are wireless video casino machines available for rent; I don't understand them but they were available outside the casino and in the sports bar.
Cabin Ours was an inside cabin on Deck 10. It was the most spacious interior cabin we ever had. Storage was more than ample, with one large closet and a short closet in another cabinet with three drawers. The desk area had three large drawers below and one above, and also held the safe. On the opposite side was a ceiling-to-floor set of six shelves about 10 inches wide. A refrigerator, TV, DVD player and four-cup coffeepot were standard. Folgers coffee was provided. There is one electrical outlet. 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. The bedding is the typical NCL duvet and quality cotton.
Entertainment The shows were excellent and usually 45-50 minutes in length. The comedian was of the Bill Cosby squeaky-clean-but-funny variety -- very refreshing. Lounge entertainment was all excellent. There was a great show band, a terrific combo who had both been with MoTown groups in earlier lives, a very talented pianist in the piano bar, and the usual poolside Caribbean combo, who were better than usual. To my taste, all the entertainment was better than the norm.
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. DVDs were available for rent.
Many groups held meetings on board -- Friends of Bill, Friends of Dorothy, veterans, red hat ladies, medical professionals and some others I know I've forgotten.
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. I did find the menus ridiculous in their descriptions, though. There were times I honestly could not wade through the fru-fru descriptions and it became quite the joke with many passengers about whether some of the items were soups, desserts or the names of facial cleansers. On lobster night they actually had decent-sized lobsters.
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 for the most part.
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. A sign at the captain's party noted that hand-shaking was discouraged.
Staff Even though many were brand new to the ship, they all seemed genuinely interested in helping. They all seemed particularly adept at remembering names throughout the week -- a nice touch. I cannot think of a single staff member who was rude or even indifferent.
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 7:20 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.
Tips are added to your account automatically unless you request otherwise.
Security was very good. They were not shy about intervening to subdue unruly passengers. One man raised quite a fuss in the casino, throwing chips about and being your basic obnoxious drunk. He went on to dinner, where security came and politely removed him from his table, took him to the office and restricted his onboard account to non-alcoholic beverages only. He was also warned that should he be a problem again he would be put off the ship or placed in the brig. Another idiot decided to beat up on the elevator controls while yelling at his new bride. Security tracked him down and placed him in the brig until he sobered up and they determined he was not a threat to his wife. I heard he was also fined for the damage he did to the elevator.
This and That
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.
Drinks were of good quality and the prices seemed reasonable.
Passengers were a middle aged-and-older, subdued crowd, but not ready for the morgue. It was not a party crowd but there were lots of dancers and well behaved people. Passengers were mostly U.S. citizens. There were not many children, but school was in session.
As for Internet access, the ship has about 10 stations available but I always use the more affordable shore-side outlets. Per-minute use was 75 cents and packages were available including wireless.
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.
Overall: I'd do it again in a minute - and I plan to next fall, when she returns to New Orleans.
Best ship I have ever been on! Most friendly staff, great entertainment, cruise director and staff were the best. Great food, nicest people (guests and staff) I have ever met on a cruise.
Can't wait to try Norwegian again, except maybe somewhere warmer :)
We just got back from our Cruise. It was wonderful. I have to first say that Patti the crusie director was so funny and great at her job. We really liked her a lot. The entertainment was wonderful. We really enjoyed Jane Powell. The service was great. We did'nt get into Grand Cayman because of choppy water. That was a let down, but the rest of the ports were great. The food in the 4 Seasons was really good and the Maite'D was very helpful.
FreeStyle was excellent and was felt pampered with the white-gloved service. The ship was quite elegant. The casino paid off for us while playing slots. The entertainment was excellent and Jane Powell, the chocolate goddess of love was top-notch! We could have listen to her act every night. We were very pleased with this cruise. Thanks Norwegian Cruise Line!
We recently returned from our cruise. It was a great experience. Checking in was a breeze. We arrived at the pier around 10:00. We were there before the doors opened. When they did everything was very organized. It took about 5 minutes to check in. We then waited in a pre-boarding area. We were offered juice and water. There were televisions set up through out the terminal that played videos of the destinations we were going to be visiting.
When on board, we were directed to our cabin. We had an oceanview with a balcony. I thought there was plenty of room in the cabin. We are two adults and we had 4 suitcases plus carry ons. There was lots of room to store everything. We even had some space to spare. The room would be crowded with more than two people in it though. The balcony was nice, but the chairs were quite uncomfortable.
Upon exploring the rest of the ship, we found everything to be very nice. The ship was clean and everyone was very friendly.
We had lunch and went to the pool to wait for the restof our group. There is never a shortage of bar servers offering you a beverage. That was nice not to have to hunt someone down to get you a drink. Our favorite server was Elena-she was outstanding!
There are several choices for dining. We did not eat at any of the restaurants that required an additional fee. We liked the food in both the Seven Seas and the Four Seasons. I did find the service friendlier in the Seven Seas. We also ate at the buffet. That food was fine as well. Overall, the food was not the best I've ever had, but it was better than being home cooking and doing the dishes!
The bands by the pool and in the lounges were okay. I've heard better. The game shows and things like that were fun. We were a large group, so I usually knew someone who was participating. The Caribbean night at the pool shouldn't be missed.
We enjoyed all of the stops that we had-Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize and Cozumel. Snorkeling seemed better in Cayman that Belize. That may have been weather related though.
Disembarkation was also very easy. They began letting people off of the ship at 7:45 and we were in our car by 8:00.
Overall, a good time was had by all!
The NCL Sun is a nice ship, but the way the ship is run needs alot of improvement. The food is the biggest dissapointment. Your local fast food restraunt is better quailty. The service ranges from very good to not so great. (Cabin staff was very good)
The Sun is a mass-market type of cruise. Don't expect much personal service. The staff will do what is required of them only, they don't go out of their way for you. All in all, you get what you pay for. This is not an expensive cruise. My advice is to pay a little more and get a much better experience.
This was our 7th cruise - previous cruises on Carnival/Costa/Princess. We arrived at the Port of Miami about 1:30 p.m. and were cruising the ship by 2:15 at the latest. Very short lines and they moved quickly. Port of Miami was not marked very well as to what lane to be in for the Sun and we had to ask several people where to park, etc. I'm sure this is due in large part to the construction at the port. Parking was DIRECTLY across from the ship, which was awesome - especially when we returned. Parking is $84. for the week - upfront, cash. Ship is immaculate and workers friendly and helpful - and, it stayed that way the entire week! Sunday - at sea day - lovely weather, seas a little rough. No trouble finding deck chairs and enjoying the day's activities. Could use more "pool games/activities" - a little dull, but very relaxing. Monday - Grand Cayman - VERY windy and rough. Still amazed and HAPPY that we were able to tender in. We booked the Stingrays with Capt. Bryan and had a wonderful time. This was our second/thirdvisit to the stingrays and still was awesome. Caught the last tender to the ship.....:)
Tuesday - Roatan - What a beautiful glide in to port along side the island. Lovely. VERY poor port, but great people and scenery. Booked with Paul David w/Salt & Pepper and transported to Foster Bay for Discover Scuba and snorkeling and delicious lobster lunch. Fabulous scuba/snorkeling and beach. Great time. Again, caught the last tender to ship as we had to give up the pier to the Norwegian Sea :) Wednesday - Belize - Again, poor port, but lovely. LONG tender in....great shopping when you get off the tender. We booked Xtreme Tubing and had a great time. The car/van ride is pretty long and the last 5 miles is on HORRIBLE road - don't know how they keep their vehicles tied together. Anyway, was fun :) Caught the second to last tender...:) Thursday - Cozumel - Went snorkeling at Dzul Ha and then to Paradise Beach for fun. Both, awesome! Cozumel is so neat - every time we go we find something new to do and it's beautiful. Friday - At sea day - again, no problem with deck chairs and just relaxed. Saturday - :*( Off the ship - chose self-disembarking, which was FABULOUS. 7:30 a.m. you line up and off you go with all your bags, of course. We had some trouble with 11 bags, but well worth it! We were in the van and out of the parking lot by 8 a.m. Couple of notes: Video arcade could use updating and some repair of games...Video arcade uses quarters. Food was very good, but buffet in the Garden Cafe could have better selections and quality. It was good, but I think there's room for improvement...we did not starve LOL Cruise Director Colin Kerr was GREAT - what a funny guy! :) We had category BB #9048 and category I #9033 - Rooms were BIG and AWESOME - balconies a little on the small side, but thoroughly enjoyed! Chairs on the balconies were very uncomfortable - if you have a wide load, you may get stuck. Recommend the plastic chairs with reclining backs - would have been SO MUCH BETTER! Coffee pots in rooms are indeed water boilers, but I found an instant coffee I liked so enjoyed my coffee on the balcony each morning. The towel check out on port days is nuts. You have to line up and check out towels - just causes more lines and more confusion. Just put the towels in the cabins, if they don't return them...charge them. The Wednesday "laundry promotion" (all the laundry you can fit in a bag for $20) is at the ship's discretion. They chose not to do the "laundry thing" on our cruise and I packed depending on it, so we were a bit stretched. The shows were all VERY GOOD and we enjoyed them all! We ate three times in the Seven Seas dining room -food was very good - hot and served rapidly. I think that does it - hope you enjoy the Sun half as much as we did. Was a GREAT CRUISE and can't wait for next year (wait a minute...this year) for the next one! Happy Cruising!
Cruisers Beware . . .
Attention all future cruisers. . .
I just retruned from a 7 day cruise on the Norwegian Sun (12/18/04 - 12/25/04).
Well where do I start? We arrived in Miami and upon walking up the gangway we noticed an elderly couple slowly walking up the gangway as well. The elderly man's wife was holding him by one arm while he was clinging tightly onto the hand rail. As we approached them, I said "you needed a wheelchair". The elderly woman replied, they didn't have any available. I thought this was odd being it was only10:30 a.m. and we were pretty much the first passengers boarding. Not acceptable.
We entered the ship and to our surprise we found very tacky Christmas decorations - styrofoam figurines of snowman, reindeer, elfs, etc. I have sailed on several other ships during this time of hear and they all have been very elegently decorated with greenery, lights, etc. However, this was the worst I have ever encountered. They also had gingerbread houses throughout the ship that were picked at and looked horrible. Peaple had broken the icicle icing and had taken candy off ofit. They were very tacky and looked like something a child made. Much to my surprise, the same decorations were out as we were leaving the ship to go home.
We proceeded to our balcony cabin and found it to be nice although slightly smaller than other ships we have been on. Our cabin stewards were excellent. (The only part of the cruise that met our expectations). My parents had an outside cabin and found it to be extremely small. My mom went to the Purser's desk to see if they could be moved to a larger statemroom and they replied "the ship is full and there is nothing we can do. You will have to contact your travel agent regarding your complaints on the size of the stateroom". Overall, the cabins were nice and clean which is more than I can say for the rest of the ship. The ship seemed very run down only being put into service in 2001. The carpet was discolored througout most of the ship. The bathrooms and surrounding areas smelled strongly of sewer gas. I almost thought I was sitting near the lavatory on a plane it was so bad.
Food was very poor. The "Free Style" experience. . . none of us cared for it. Norwegian advertised 9 Restaurants in which to dine, two of which serve the same menu, three of which charge a fee of $10 and up, one serving Asian food, one serving light style entrees', and of course the cafe serving a buffet.
Service in the dining rooms was poor. On the first night of our cruise we went to the Four Seasons Restaurant and my chicken was cold, it took 2 1/2 hours to dine. Very, very slow serivce every night. I went to the Seven Seas Restaurant for breakfast and ordered pancakes, hashbrowns, and bacon all of which were cold and finally ended up going to the cafe for breakfast. If you are a seafood lover you pretty much have it made. Seafood appitizers, seafood soups, and seafood entrees'. If you prefer normal american foods, there were very few options available. They do have certain items that are available every night such as chicken but after getting cold chicken on the first evening, I wasn't going to do cold chicken again.
I was very upset about the children's program on the Sun. I have a 10 year old daughter and there were very few things for her to do in the kids place. Usually on holiday sailings they expect to have more children aboard and have plenty of activities for the children. However, on the Sun this was the opposite. The days we were not at sea, you had to pre-register the night before in order to have your childe go to the kid's place the next day. To top it all off, they charged you $5.00 per hour in order for them to stay there while in port. So, if you are looking to have some "alone time" on your cruise forget it unless you want to pay to get it. I have been on several cruises in the past where my daughter did not want to leave the kid's room and on two occasions I left her to go ashore because she didn't want to leave. On the Sun. . . that is not an option unless you want to pay (while in port).
Again, If you are planning on cruising on NCL . . . Cruiser Beware!!!!!