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Karen Tomayer

Age: 28

Occupation:Physician Biller

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sun

Sailing Date: August 28th, 2005

Itinerary: Alaska

Please! Take my Negative comments and Make them Positive. I had to do that with nearly every Trip Report I read about regarding the NCL SUN ALASKAN CRUISE. I just wished someone would have mentioned what I am about to mention to you.

My husband and I got Married on August 27th 2005 (after a 5 1/2 year courtship) and we thought it would be great to do an Alaskan Cruise for our honeymoon so, I called our travel agent. (Please keep in mind when reading this that I ONLY informed my agent of our destination and gave her a dollar amount to work with.) Our agent met with us and had ready 3 different Cruise Lines to chose from and we chose Norwegian Cruise Lines (solely based on affordability). Our ship was the "SUN" and we sailed the 7-Day Sawyer Glacier (roundtrip from Vancouver, BC) from August 28th - September 4th 2005. This was "FREE STYLE" cruise for those who know of if.

Before I start I must tell you the VIEWS are spectacular, the PORTS were a must see again (3 out of 4 of them at least) and the STAFF on board were phenomenal.

People don't realize how much time is actually spent on board the ship (or floating hotel) until you really do it and with knowing that our experience was not the greatest for us even though it WAS our HONEYMOON.

We thought the actual cruise/boat time was about 70% fun. Because of OUR age (I am 28 and my husband is 35) there was not many Onboard ACTIVITIES for us to do, We didn't meet ANY couple's our age (very age minority), the buffet food was worse than Old Country Buffet (for those who know that chain of restaurants), and I don't care if I don't see another JEWELRY store for a long time (explain later on).

For example some of our activities were "50's & 60's night," "70's Disco nit," "Ballroom Dancing," and "Country Line Dancing," "Twisted Karaoke," there version of the popular game shows like "Jeopardy," "Who Wants To Be Millionaire," "Weakest Link" and of course "Love Connection." The game shows were great if you were a little tipsy. Do those activities thrill you?

They did have 3 theatrical performances which were PHENOMENAL they were Mr. Producer, Cirque Pan (like Peter Pan), and Que Noche. I went to Cirque Pan with the husband (who is not a theater buff but actually enjoyed it too). And seen Oue Noche by myself. You can always find some fun in theater and we did.

As for the rest of time on board you really had to look for something to do. Our nightly options (in our opinion of course) were either to drink at the bar(s), go gamble at the casino, or having alone time in your room--- hehehe. My husband and I are not big drinkers but we let loose on the ship, we chose to keep our money but did play some slots and tables, and as far as the alone time goes...it was our honeymoon!... Hehehehehe! lol.

We did look for other couples to mingle with but there were none to be had. If they were our age they already had a kid or two and were content with there families. Everyone on that ship was a good 45 yrs old and above. NOW I know why people say "Why I retire I would like to do an ALASKAN cruise." So, our only choice for other out sourced communication was from the bartenders -- and they were great, friendly, and always had the next drink ready (that was nice). Surprisingly! When we disembarked to get onto the bus that would take us back to airport we seen another couple that was on our ship AND it was there HONEYMOON too AND a little bit younger than us and there faces showed it all... 2 big sour puss's like ours. We only wished we could have met them ON the cruise.

OK, the buffet... OMG the buffet!!! I have one question. Do you like your scrambled eggs with or without soupy water? There eggs were soooo watery you had to use a ladle with holes, drain out your eggs, and place them on your plate for about 5 minutes to let them air dry before eating them and this was EVERY morning. There buffets were something we dreaded everyday for breakfast and lunch because you would literally have to walk the entire ship to all of the buffet's to see who had something decent to eat. They did offer you different ethnic foods but ARE they foods you would even what to try? I only touched the oriental buffet because it kind of hard to FUBAR that.

For DINNER we CHOSE to eat at the SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS where we had to pay anywhere from $10.50 to $25.00 per person per plate to eat real food like filet mignon, lobster, salmon steaks, and other ethnic foods depending on the restaurant you chose. THAT FOOD WAS AMAZING !!!! I truly think that since the buffet's and 24-Hour Room Service were included in our FREE STYLE CRUISE FARE that they intentionally make those bad so you WILL eat at the SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS where you PAY MORE MONEY for you meals. I mean C'mon we just dished out Thousand's of Dollars for this cruise and NOW I have to PAY to get a "REAL" meal. (Other guests felt the same way ... we heard them complaining on more than one occasion)

What's next? Oh yeah the JEWELRY... All we can say is that YOU better bring some COLD HARD CASH or a NON-USED credit card because there is JEWELRY EVERY WHERE YOU TURN and it's all BEAUTIFUL AND INEXPENSIVE! The Jewelry was the only real thing I felt that was pushed on you while we were on the ship. Every port-jewelry store after jewelry store. Our ports had anywhere from 25 to 95 jewelry stores in a 5 block radius.

My husband bought me a three stone sapphire charm with three diamonds alternating the sapphire's for $399.00 after I haggled with the jeweler in Ketchikan and paid cash. But we watched people purchase small dollar jewelry like us to really extravagant $10,000.00 and up jewelry without batting an eye. WHOA!!! (When I got back home I took my charm it to be appraised by my jeweler to see if it was really worth the money and she told me it was worth double and a half what we paid for it.... THAT WAS AMAZING!!!)

The Jewelry was so much cheaper for us BECAUSE of going to the ports towards the END of the Season (Our cruise was the 3rd cruise from last for NCL for the season) --- Found out that really affects your shopping there in Alaska. SALE! SALE! SALE! everywhere you looked. (almost bought a new wedding band to match my engagement ring too! BUT I didn't want to push my luck even though my husband told me I could have bought it. My engagement ring has diamonds and sapphires in it hence why he got the charm to match. Maybe there will be 3 more pieces in my future i.e. bracelet, earrings, and that wedding band...lol.)

The ports that the ships go to are ONLY OPEN for the 5 months of what they call "Cruising Season [May-September]" after that it is literally a ghost town with nothing there but the locals-which to our surprise the census of the locals is way under 1000 people per town. They make there money off the Cruise Industry.

SHOPPING TIP: If you have the chance to buy something really great in Alaska try to buy it from the "locals." We found out from the "locals" that the stores that are HEAVILY advertised by the NCL Cruise Industry (which you'll know once your on your ship) are stores that come in from California, New York, Florida, etc., and there like eagle's swooping in to take the sales away from the "local" vendors. Every vendor that the NCL CRUISE ship promotes is paying the NCL Cruising Industry 10% of there total yearly gross receipts weather or not there sale is during or after cruise season and some of the locals can't afford that kind of advertisement and they get looked over ... and when you see their homes YOU KNOW THEY CAN'T AFFORD THAT. (That was the depressing part of my trip)

You can find a few of them mixed in with other stores but we found them towards the end of "the strip." You know the stores at the end of "the strip" have better prices so save your money because you will re-pass all the others that you likes while walking back to the ship.

We shopped backwards at every port. Went to the end and walk towards the ship... And when you have a lot of packages you only want to walk one way.... RIGHT? (makes sense to me)

SO, we bought most of our things from the locals and some from the "eagles" lol.

The ports we went to were Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Wrangell-in that order. This year (2005) was the last year/season that NCL will be traveling to WRANGELL- but there was NOTHING there to see at all... The other ports were by far the BEST !!!

My husband and I said if we go back Alaska we're just going to go and visit Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway on an individual basis because that would be worth it. You don't realize how much time your on the ship until you run out of things to do.

I think the NCL SUN would have been a lot better for my husband and I had we met some other couples our age to talk to. We definitely should have gone with another couple on this cruise. Everyone who had gone on our cruise brought family and friends and so you could tell they were having a GREAT time with each other! We didn't have that option...

Make sure you can afford a BALCONY STATEROOM.

(Everyone of the trip reports I read prior to cruising raved on how much better those rooms were-- and it was worth it to sleep with the sound of the ship passing through the water- although if your a light sleeper closing the door kept out all the sound which could be nice too)
Make sure your BALCONY STATEROOM is enclosed with a roof.

I noticed when we got to our first port there were OTHER cruise lines there too and some of there balcony's did NOT have a roof -- kind of makes it hard for you be outside looking at the mountains/rainforest or taking pictures when it raining... don't you think?

(I could be wrong but I think it was the PRINCESS (Sapphire) ship that was at the first port with us and they had a half and half -- meaning that some balcony's only had the two sides for privacy with no roof overhead and some had sides for privacy and a roof overhead.)

Booking Shore Excursions through the Cruise Line vs. Buying one at the Port:

There are excursions available once you are at each port that are way cheaper than what the cruise line offers. HOWEVER, the really cool shore excursions that my husband and I booked were not available in there entirety. Example: We did the Four Glacier Medenhall Dogsled Tour where you go in a helicopter for about 20 minutes to the top of the Mendenhall Glacier and spend about 40 minutes at the dogsled camp and included in your 40 minutes is a 25 minute dogsled tour with your own guide and then another 25 minute helicopter tour back down the mountain where you started. Now the tour I seen at the port was just a helicopter tour and this did not state what you toured or for how long.

A quick pro/con is:
The PRO is that ****we booked our excursions (1 at each port) before setting foot on the cruise, we did have to wait to find out if there was availability but we got all of ours like we wanted, we got to pick our time (some things offer more than one time), and it was gaureented . (you can start your booking for the excursions as early as 1 month prior to your sail date all the up to the night before the port on the ship -- they have a Shore Excursion Desk on board.)

****Since we booked ahead of time ALL of our shore excursion tickets were on our bed when we first walked into our room for the first time which was nice because I noticed that I booked the wrong shore excursion at one of the ports and the Shore Excursion Desk kindly exchanged it for what it was supposed to have been with NO problem at all. (I was just lucky that there was still an opening) Ummm... when you come to port there are people all over holding up signs that say your excursion on them so you don't have to hunt or get worried where to go-You just load up on a bus and it takes you to your excursion and brings you back.

The CON is that you can find other fun excursions at the ports for LESS but is it available? And is it truly what you want to do? are you just settling? Or better yet is it worth your money? These questions I didn't want to face, knowing it was our first time there. However, if we go back to the ports we decided we will just do these spur of the moment bookings just because they are available for less to the cruisers and the general public.

I know I come across unhappy in this review but I had such HIGH expectations as far as the SHIP activities go.

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