Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Sun Cruises
Sailing Date: January 6th, 2003
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
We traveled as a party of four, and although this was our first cruise, we are all experienced travelers. Because this was listed as a budget cruise, we did not have particularly high expectations. However, we were pleasantly surprised. We expected two star service and felt we received four star. The ship is 32 years old and is starting to show its age a bit, particularly in the cabins, which are also on the small side. However, since we used them only for sleeping, we found the accommodation quite adequate. The cabin steward was first class. He always had the cabin made up for the day while we were at breakfast, and ready for the night while we were at dinner. Because we were near the stern in an outside cabin on A deck, it was a little noise when the ship was traveling at more than 10 knots, but the noise was not really noticeable after the first night.
The meals were equivalent to those to be found in a good restaurant. There was a wide selection for breakfast and a somewhat narrower one for lunch, for those who remained aboard when the ship was in port. Dinner was divided into two sittings and if booking again, I would ask for a round table that seats ten. Thus, if you have a dud table companion, at least there are others to talk to. We were fortunate; the four of us were seated at a table for six and paired with a mother/daughter combination who were having the time of their lives and were very congenial dining companions.
The dinner portions were small--after all, there are five courses--but one could have seconds for the asking. These were really not needed, given that one can eat six times per day-breakfast, "elevenses", lunch, tea, dinner and a late night snack that on two of the seven nights consisted of
a scrumptuous midnight buffet.
The entertainment was very good. The ship's repertory company of singers and dancers are perhaps not Broadway or West end London caliber, but are young, attractive, enthusiastic and very professional about what they do. The headliners who appeared on four of the evenings were also very good.
In the ports, we found the ship's excursions a bit on the pricey side, and preferred to make our own arrangements. For example, on St Kitts, we arranged a full five and one half hour tour of the island for $17.50 US (there were eight of us in a minivan). Booking through the ship, this would
have encompassed two tours costing $85 US per person. The only problems arranging for your own excursions is making sure you and the taxi driver have reached a firm agreement about what you are going to see, how long the tour is going to be, and exactly what it is going to cost before starting
The passenger load on the ship was about 400 Canadians and 800 Britons, and we found the menus and entertainment suited to the British taste. The only concession to the Canadian passengers was a two page daily summary of Canadian news headlines and sports scores. Perhaps a little more balance between the two nationality's tastes could be achieved.
Checking in and off the ship was a breeze. The worst queue we encountered during the whole trip was in the immigration lobby when we arrived at Pearson airport back in Toronto.
I am not sure whether Canadians have lower expectations or are simply easier to please, but I found a very small percentage of them had anything negative to say about the ship or any aspects of the service. In contrast, a very high percentage of the British passengers had a litany of complaints that they voiced loudly, and whenever they had the opportunity.
Perhaps they expected five star service on a budget cruise, and were unhappy when they did not get it.
The crew were super and went out of their way to please the passengers' every desire and need.
In summary, while the trip was not perfect, it was extremely good value for the cost. I would certainly consider booking this ship for our next cruise (which my wife insists will be soon!), perhaps even for two weeks.