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This was a 15 night repositioning cruise as the ?Sun? had finished its summer duty in Alaska. The adventure took us from Los Angeles, down the coast of Mexico, through the Panama Canal and up through the Caribbean to Miami. My husband and I (I sound like the Queen!) had a wonderful time on this trip. We have cruised many times before in a variety of parts of the world and experienced several different cruise lines but we keep returning to Norwegian as we love the ?free style? dining.
Boarding in Los Angeles was trouble free and we were quickly settling into our stateroom. This was the first time we had splashed out on a balcony cabin and, although not large, the room was clean, pleasantly decorated, the bed was comfortable and there was adequate storage. The only disappointment was the size of the shower cubicle which was tiny and the curtain kept sticking to wet bodies. The bathroom on the ?Star? is much better! Standing on the balcony as we left port was a wonderful experience and we did use this facility a lot although, if it were a choice of cruising in an inside cabin or not cruising at all, I would not hesitate to have an inside cabin again.
The ports of call were all very different and I enjoyed each one in its own way. We usually do a Cruise Company tour if it is our first visit to a place as we find this is a good way of getting to know the area and we don?t have the worry of getting back to the ship on time. All the trips were O.K. but I do feel that they are over priced and there is always the hard sell at the ?shopping opportunities?!
I must confess that, although we have been on many other cruises, we have always done 7 day trips so I was a bit concerned that we would not have enough to do on a 16 day one with so many sea days. I could not have been more wrong. There were so many activities to do on those days that we couldn?t fit all our choices in. There was plenty of sun bathing space and we never had to search for a sun bed although, if you wanted a position right by the pool, you had to be there quite early. We preferred to be in the quieter spots so it was never an issue.
The food was plentiful and of good quality with a variety of dishes at all meals. We found the staff to be courteous and, generally, the service was speedy and efficient. Some people worry about the ?freestyle? concept but we loved the freedom of choice of dining venues, times and companions. We also found that we had less wasted time as we chose to eat in small groups and rarely had to wait to be seated. We met so many interesting people and only had one disappointing experience with a couple with whom we had very little in common. The beauty of the system is that we didn?t need to sit with them again and there was no offence given as might have happened by asking to change tables in a more formal setting. You do get the option to have the same table, time and companions if you wish just by booking this on you first visit to the restaurant of your choice.
The ?free style? concept does give you total freedom of choice. I love the opportunity to dress up and take part in the formal evenings but there is absolutely no pressure on anyone to become involved and we saw a huge variety of dress styles.
The standard of entertainment was also extremely professional and varied. Our only problem was that some of the jokes told by the comedians were directed at the mainly American audience and, therefore, unintelligible to the Brits. Also, we love ballroom dancing but , although there was ballroom music played each evening, all the dance floors were too small to really do all our moves. These are very minor complaints and certainly did not spoil our holiday in any way.
Disembarking was relatively straight forward but there were very long queues at immigration. This was not the cruise company?s fault and they did try to make it as painless as possible.
I have no hesitation in recommending Norwegian as a cruise line, the Norwegian Sun as a ship and ?free style? as a concept. It appears that more Cruise lines are adopting a similar concept and we feel that it is the way ahead to attract more people to cruising.