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Sail Date: September 2007
We just returned from the September 29th sailing of the Norwegian Sun. This was our eleventh cruise and our second time on the Sun. We had spent the night on Oahu after previously arriving on the RCI's Rhapsody of the Seas. I really ... Read More
We just returned from the September 29th sailing of the Norwegian Sun. This was our eleventh cruise and our second time on the Sun. We had spent the night on Oahu after previously arriving on the RCI's Rhapsody of the Seas. I really enjoy cruising and found both cruise lines have their own unique strengths and weaknesses! The embarkation was easy and our car rental shuttle dropped us off right at the pier. We did have to haul our luggage a good distance in order to check it in, which was difficult for some. We were on the ship by 5:30. Our cabin, 5201 was an outside cabin with a large picture window. The room seemed cramped and in need of a makeover. The bed was creaky, hard, and lumpy. It was one of those beds where once I found a comfortable position, I did not dare move! The cabin seemed very clean, although our poor attendant seemed overworked. I do love the mini refrigerator that our room had and the storage area provided by the window which was great for all our books! We enjoyed the Freestyle concept and went to dinner whenever we felt like it! We tried the Seven Seas dining room, but after having terrible service two days in a row, the wait staff seemed unfriendly, confused, and terribly slow; we tried the Four Seasons. We lucked out and had fantastic service from our wait staff of whom we requested the remaining times we dined there. The food in the dining room was good (the lobster was wonderful). It seems to me that the quality of the food is lacking in the main dining room. I think NCL really wants you to eat at the specialty restaurants! If one wants food closer to a gourmet style, they will need to pay the cover charges. We did eat at Pacific Heights (no cover charge) twice and it was very good. Il Adagio was wonderful with some great lobster pasta and tasty swordfish! The desserts at the buffet and main dining room were pretty bland for the most part. They seemed mostly to consist of a type of gelatin type of substance no matter what it was. They do serve some great ice cream though upstairs! Breakfast and lunch are pretty good but require a little bit of walking. Freshly cooked eggs are in Las Ramblas, waffles are made fresh in Pacific Heights, and other goodies can be grabbed in the Garden Cafe! One thing I really loved about the Sun is the aft dining area! When we first boarded, my husband and I grabbed our dinner from the buffet and found a great table over looking the port in Honolulu and watched a beautiful sunset while dining out in the fresh air! We ate all of our lunches at the buffet or surrounding restaurants. Once again, you can get some decent food, but you're going to work for it. Freshly prepared pasta and pizzas can be found in Pacific Heights, sandwiches can be found in Las Ramblas, the wok station and buffet items in the Garden Cafe, and hamburgers and hot dogs in the Great Outdoor Cafe. While it is great that the foods are freshly prepared, I found myself waiting in a 15 minute plus line to get some items. For example if I wanted a slice of pizza with my pasta I waited about 10 minutes for my pizza and then had to get in the pasta line for another 15 minutes. If I wanted a side of vegetables with that I had to get in another line in the Garden Cafe. As for dinner, the buffet was weak with a lot of salmon and chicken dishes served various ways every night. I believe one night I saw carved salmon at the carving station as well as carved chicken! I am guessing it was NCL's last ditch effort to get rid of these meats, or they had nothing else to place at the carving station. Also the appetizers in the main dining room were nothing special. My husband and I went to Las Ramblas almost every night for our appetizers where the selection was much better. They had fried calamari, goat cheese, olives, mussels, crab cakes, empanadas, and many other items. We often would bring our plates outside to the back deck, enjoying our appetizers while watching the sun set. Afterwards we headed to the dining room for the rest of dinner. Tea, coffee, and water were always available and juice was offered in the morning. However, I would advise bringing your own large thermal mug or water bottle. The glasses on this ship are frustratingly small. The chocoholic buffet at midnight towards the end of the cruise was nice, but I have a hard time eating chocolate at night and the lines were incredibly long for such a small buffet! I did bring a Ziploc and the chocolate covered strawberries tasted great the next morning! The last time we were on the Sun we thought the entertainment was the best! Well they have gotten even better! A major highlight on this cruise was the entertainment! The Jean Ann Ryan Company dancers and singers were phenomenal! We really enjoyed the Prizm Band, Alive Star, and Selwyn Wright. The comedians, Jeff Bradley and Joe Bronzi, were hilarious! Other highlights: The dance classes taught by Olga and Dima were fun! We learned the basics to the Swing and Merengue. The latitudes welcome back party was also very nice with a great selection of free drinks! The photographers took some high quality photos and did a real nice job! I also enjoyed the hot tubs in the morning. The seas were rough most days and the weather was fairly cool, which made the pools off-limits. However, the hot tubs were open and it was great sitting in the hot tub and getting intermittently splashed by the cool water splashing up from the pool. The last day it finally warmed up enough where I could lay out. Towards the front of the ship there are 2 small areas that contain four wooden chairs with blue cushions. The view is fantastic from this spot and I stayed there all day. Ports of call: Kahului, Maui We rented a car from Enterprise, and they were the only company that did not automatically send the shuttle. When we called the number on our reservation for a pick-up. We were transferred to a main office somewhere in the world which was closed. A word of advice if you plan on getting a rental car, get the local number. We finally hitched a ride with the Dollar shuttle who was now on his third trip from the port and walked over the Enterprise office at the airport where we were shuttled back near the port for our car (we could have walked from the pier to the Enterprise lot if we had known) The staff explained we were suppose to call them, when we explained our problem, we got a blank stare). Furthermore, the girl at the counter specifically warned us not to drive the Kahekili highway near Kahakuloa stating it was too dangerous and not very scenic! We drove it anyway, and it is no more dangerous than the Hana highway. It was the most scenic highway we drove on our whole trip! At mile marker 16 we found some natural ocean baths! They were awesome crystal clear calm pools in the midst of crashing ocean waves. We stayed there for hours, and it was definitely a highlight of the trip! Hilo, HI We rented a car from Dollar, whose shuttle was there, and were upgraded to a cool little PT Cruiser convertible! We headed for the Puna district to explore old lava flows and check out the scenery. We stumbled upon a place called Ahalanui Beach Park or as some locals call it the "hot baths". The thermal pool has an inlet to the Pacific in which waves crash in. I met a 90 year-old local woman who visits this pool 5 times a week. She showed me how to hang on to the safety ropes when the tide goes in and out and it was a blast! We stayed there all morning! My husband wanted to see a little more of the island, so I reluctantly left, and we drove to the north Kohala coast. We made it to the Pololu Valley overlook. The drive is very scenic but it took too much time and we weren't able to explore the Pololu valley before having to drive back. Lahaina, Maui The tendering service went smoothly and was very organized! We rented a car from Dollar, who turned out to be the only shuttle that did not automatically arrive at the port. Of course we called the number on the reservation in which we were transferred to a corporate office who refused to give us the local number! After about an hour, the shuttle finally arrived and allowed only the drivers which meant my husband had to drive back to pick me up! I would suggest avoiding Dollar in Lahaina (the staff were rude, incompetent, and appeared to have smoked one too many Maui Wowies). This time we drove to the Iao Valley State Park. I thought it was pretty, crowded, and overrated! We also visited Big Beach and Little Beach in south Maui. Both are beautiful beaches, however Little Beach is clothing optional, which lessened the beauty in my opinion. I was both fascinated and horrified! Many people seemed to be enjoying their naked frolic in the ocean, but there were also a lot of weirdoes and drug dealers milling around. We left there quickly! We drove down to the Ahihi-kina Natural Reserve area where I snorkeled over a living reef! It was fantastic with many colorful fish and few people! We spent a few hours relaxing in Lahaina, which is a great town to just walk around in. My husband found a free internet site at the restaurant/bar across the street from the port where he had a beer and caught up on e-mail! Nawiliwili, Kauai The tendering process was more of a nightmare on this day! For some reason, the boat took awhile to "clear" for debarking. We did not get off the ship until after 9 am and still had to get back on the ship by 4:30. We decided just to explore the west side since we had such limited time. We drove to Polikale State Park which required a 3-4 mile drive along a washboard, pothole filled road! The drive was exciting and if you rent a 4 wheel drive one could drive on the beach. It was too dangerous to swim. Next, we headed to Waimea Canyon. The green and red contrasts are very picturesque. However, the whole day seemed rushed due to the limited time in port, and we didn't have time to explore the canyon itself! Debarkation: We carried our own luggage off at about 8 am. Next we hopped on a local taxi van with 6 others and negotiated a fare of $20 per person ($160 total) to drive all the way to Tijuana from the port in Ensenada. The drive went smoothly, as well as the border crossing. We then hopped on the trolley in San Diego and took it all the way to our hotel, the Doubletree downtown. I would recommend this hotel, with comfortable rooms, a great pool, nice location, and free airport shuttle. Overall, a great value cruise with an amazing itinerary! We cruised over to Hawaii on RCI's Rhapsody and there were clear differences. We paid twice a much for the RCI cruise than we paid on NCL's. I think because of this, NCL seems to really push selling everything on the ship whether it be alcohol, specialty dinners, instant win scratch offs, shore excursions, and jewelry. The high pressure sales I found a little annoying after awhile and am willing to pay more to avoid it! One example which I found particularly irritating was that before every show, the assistant cruise director starts hawking these instant win tickets. Passengers are guaranteed to win some cash. From what I heard, passengers spend about $20 and get about $5 in return! Another difference between the cruise lines was RCI hands out free tote bags to past cruisers. NCl gives you a coupon for the free tote if you buy something that costs $10 in the shops. I would cruise with NCL again most definitely, keeping in mind this is definitely a bargain cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Sailed from Honolulu on September 29th. We had booked a standard inside cabin however a week before sailing NCL offered us a Balcony upgrade for 100 more per person. Grabbed that, brought the grand total to 423 per person. That's the ... Read More
Sailed from Honolulu on September 29th. We had booked a standard inside cabin however a week before sailing NCL offered us a Balcony upgrade for 100 more per person. Grabbed that, brought the grand total to 423 per person. That's the only good thing about this trip, the price. This was my 20th cruise. The ships layout was difficult to navigate. The decor rather bland, and the cabin the smallest I have seen in a very long time. The shower the smallest I have ever seen. Thumbs up for the balcony and in room fridge which was small, but kept things icy cold. NCL also Xrays your luggage and will tag luggage that looks like it contains alcohol. Or even looks like alcohol. Then you have to go to a room where they open your luggage and hand search it. Alas my two bottles of Corona light were seized by security. Looking around the room, lots of luggage had made its way into that little room. With drinks 8 bucks a piece I would guess that's why he do everything they can to stop smuggling. Evn opened and smelled my bottled water coming back from shore. NCL charges 10$ per person per day as a service fee. From my experience the service fee is a guarantee for poor service. Our cabin steward was ok, he told us he usually only has 17 cabins, but this trip he had 34. We were lucky to get our room cleaned once a day, several times I had to track him down for towels and ice. The cabin is showing signs of age, chips in furniture, brown worn spots on sofa, holes worn into the chair. The hose on the blowdryer disconnected and it took two days to get it fixed. FOOD: This is the WORST food I have ever had. The small buffet reminded me of High School Cafeteria food. Looked bad, tasted worse. We tried the Seven Seas dining room, slow service, cold bland food. Specialties were so so. When you pay the extra money you expect good food and excellent service. The duck I ordered In Le Bistro was so overcooked I couldn't even cut it. Our waiter seemed a little miffed about questions we asked. Steakhouse was good. We ate there twice, first time I had the filet and it was excellent, second time the ribeye, it was horrible, overcooked, no taste, and a very thin cut. My DH didn't like his filet the second time, and it was not anywhere close to being as good as the one I had 3 days earlier. Almost all the dining venues are at the back of the ship. Unfortunately so was the stench of urine. There must have been a overflow or broken pipe that leaked. The smell persisted for the whole trip. Not very appetizing to smell that on your way to dinner. They did shampoo the carpets in the elevators where the smell was really bad. Pools were nice, you could take all the towels you wanted. Nice change from other ships. They say you get what you pay for. That certainly applies to this cruise line. I will never sail with NCL again. Read Less
Norwegian Sun Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 3.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 3.5 4.1
Value For Money 3.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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