Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sun
Sailing Date: July 10th, 2005
We had an incredible time on this cruise! I can't stress enough how excellent the service was throughout. The staff seemed genuinely interested and concerned with meeting any need I might have, and we were well entertained by the cruise director's staff. We chose to eat at the "free" restaurants most nights, and had buffet a couple of times. The food at the Four Seasons and Seven Seas was beyond expectations. We had great options at every meal, and everything from lobster to lamb to oysters to steak was prepared perfectly and presented in a breath-taking manner. The buffet was not quite what I expected in that, while breakfast was great (mmmm, freshly made waffles and omelets!!), other meals were lacking in variety. That's how I felt, though my husband was pleased with it all and I have to say that all of the meat and fish dishes in the buffet were flawlessly cooked and presented. I just felt that the dining room meals were in the "A" class, while the buffet was more of a "C+" - so who wouldn't choose the dining room every night??
Some issues concerning money that I wish I'd known ahead of time:
1. Bingo cost me $60 for 4 games, with a payout per game of maybe $200 - a huge disappointment for me and not worth it in the least.
2. The bucket of beer special is the way to go if you during - I think 6 domestics, in an ice filled helmet, was about $18 including gratuity, which was nice.
3. The best coffee on board is at the Java Cafe and must be paid for. There's no coffee in room (other than instant) and the buffet brew was undrinkable.
4. If money is of concern for you, keep in mind that you have $10 per day, per person, deducted from your ship account (to cover gratuities) - also, there's a 15% gratuity charge on EVERYTHING you order up (coffee at the coffee bar, buckets of beer, etc.) That sounds fair enough, but there's also a line on each bill that says, "additional tip" so you can leave extra for the server if they give you exceptional service. Well, I felt that everyone of them gave us exceptional service (how they remembered our names so quickly I'll never know!) and so felt obliged to add a $1 tip to every purchase. Needless to say this process, combined with the 15% on every bill, added quite a bit to our ship account.
5. Anything being sold on the ship is very expensive - we bought our stuff (T-shirts, etc.) at the port stores - tourist traps but at least there were deals ($4.99 t-shirts for example). On board the ship, you could purchase 1/4 million dollar bracelets and $15000 lithographs - not exactly my "thing" but it was kinda fun to watch other people doing it.
6. The coupon book that was promised to us by our agent (because we booked with a mastercard) was useless - some of what was offered was no better than the standard on board "deals" and specials that anyone could get. I think we used only one coupon, and it was nearly worthless.
7. I hate to gripe about money, but certain things sure seemed pricey to us - the annoying photos who snap your picture every time you step out of your cabin want $10 for a single picture, "pop" is $1.50 per can plus the 15% gratuity - though you can get a special "all you can drink" pop deal for over $40 - who's drinking that much pop in 7 days??!!
On the brighter side, though: the party atmosphere, despite the average passenger being roughly twice our age, was in full swing, thanks to the cruise director's staff. The entertainment was excellent between the dance group, bands, comic and magician, added to the cruise director's staff and fellow passengers who were willing to get involved - we were entertained constantly, which is what we were looking for. The scenery is, of course, beautiful and everyone seemed to love the Alaska and all it has to offer.
Would I go on this ship again? Probably. Would I use NCL again? Absolutely. Would I take my kids next time? Yes (the kids program looked excellent!) Did I like "freestyle" cruising? Absolutely