When arriving at the pier you'll know exactly which ship Norwegian Sun is right away, as there's a giant sun-design on her side. This vessel was the first cruise ship that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) built specifically for Freestyle Cruising. As such, it was a pretty big deal when she first launched in 2001. At the time, her 9 restaurants were a huge number (relative to the rest of the cruising industry). It's still a fairly large selection, but there are newer NCL ships with more options available. As NCL has been expanding their line rapidly with new ships each year, Norwegian Sun is no longer such a top focal point in their promotional plans. However, she's a great ship that's sure to meet (and often exceed) the needs of most cruisers.
Norwegian Sun will be featuring cruises in the following regions (subject to change, based on the cruise line's discretion):
2012: Southern Caribbean 2013: Alaska, Southern Caribbean, Panama Canal
Norwegian Sun does not have the high-end suites found on the newer NCL ships, such as Courtyard and Garden Villas. However, she does offer a nice variety of accommodations onboard. The furnishings in her staterooms are nice, and the color scheme is not as bold and bright as the newer NCL ships...it's more subtle.
Interior Staterooms: Norwegian Sun offers a wide variety of interior stateroom categories. The main difference between them is their location on the ship. Usually, the higher the deck the room is on, the higher the price of the room. The most basic room is the category N rooms, as they are located on the lowest passenger deck of the ship. The most premium interior staterooms are the category II rooms, located much higher up on the ship than the N's. In addition to that, there is a sitting area in the most of the more premium interior staterooms. All of the interior staterooms have two lower beds that can convert into a queen-size bed, a sitting area, a closet, as well as a bathroom with a shower and vanity.
Oceanview Staterooms: Norwegian Sun's oceanview staterooms have all of the standard features found in the interior staterooms. The category H oceanview rooms, featuring a large porthole window, are the most basic oceanviews onboard. The category C superior oceanviews are the most premium oceanviews onboard Norwegian Sun, featuring a picture window.
Balcony Staterooms: Balcony staterooms (also called oceanview staterooms with a balcony) are a very popular option. These rooms have a floor-to-ceiling glass door that opens to a private balcony. They give you the option of enjoying the outdoors, and breathtaking views, in privacy. The most basic balcony staterooms are the category BE's, while the most premium are the BA's.
Suites: Most of the suites on this ship have butler and concierge service available (only the Mini-Suites do not). Norwegian Sun does not have nearly as many suite categories as the newer NCL ships; however, there are a few nice options to choose from. The most basic suites are the Mini-Suites. The Mini-Suites feature a sitting area, private balcony, two lower beds (that can convert to a queen), a walk-in closet, and a luxury bath and shower. The Penthouses feature the same amenities as the Mini-Suites, but are larger and have the butler and concierge services available. The category AB suites are known as Romance Suites, as these rooms were built with romance in mind. The most premium suites on the NCL Sun are the category AA Owner's Suites. These suites have a living room with dining table, a private balcony with a hot tub on it, a separate bedroom with two lower beds that can convert to a queen-size bed, a walk-in closet, and a luxury bath with a separate shower.
All Norwegian Cruise Line ships have an open dining setup (which is one of the main aspects of their Freestyle Cruising format). Open dining means that you can eat where you want, when you want. Norwegian Sun has 9 dining venues from which you can choose from, besides the 24-hour room service!
This ship's two main restaurants are Four Seasons, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the sky and sea while you dine, and Seven Seas, a grand dining room with impressive views. These two restaurants offer the same five-course menu as each other, but the menu changes each night of the cruise. Dinner is served from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm.
Garden Cafe, located on deck 11, is Norwegian Sun's buffet. It features a wide array of options for you to choose from, depending on the time and day you dine there (including omelets, pastas, soups, ethnic specialties, sandwiches, pizza, salads, and more). Also on deck 11 is Pacific Heights. This restaurant features a nice spa menu, with a gourmet pizza bar and low-calorie desserts.
The specialty restaurants onboard Norwegian Sun offer many dining choices to choose from. Most of these venues have a per person cover charge, ranging between $10 and $30 (depending on the restaurant, and on the main course you choose). Some of the specialty dining venues only charge half the normal cover charge from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Le Bistro is a romantic French restaurant (located on deck 12). It is one of the most popular specialty restaurants onboard Norwegian Sun. Le Bistro features a wide range of dining options, including a very nice filet mignon. Ginza is Norwegian Sun's Pan Asian restaurant, featuring a Japanese/Chinese/Thai menu. This restaurant features a sushi, sake and sashimi bar and teppanyaki (also known as Hibachi) room. There is an all-you-can-eat sushi option available at a flat fee of $15 per person. East Meets West is Norwegian Sun's specialty Steakhouse. It's located on deck 12 and offers a "Pick Your Own Lobster" tank, which is very popular among this ship's guests. Il Adagio (located on deck 5) is an Italian restaurant, offering a casual atmosphere with popular dishes (including pasta, salads, desserts, espresso, and more). Las Ramblas is a tapas bar & restaurant, located on deck 12. There is a $10 per person charge to eat there.
Reservations are highly recommended for the specialty restaurants, as they are very in demand and can book up quickly. Dining reservations cannot be made prior to your cruise. You can make a reservation 24 hours prior to the day you want to dine, unless you have a balcony or higher (in which case you can make a reservation within 48 hours). Be sure to make reservations at least the night before you want to dine, to help ensure that the time (and restaurant) you want to dine at will be available for you.
Norwegian Sun, the original Freestyle Cruising cruise ship, features a ton of activities to participate in while onboard, as well as a lot of places to go to.
Perhaps the most popular thing to do while onboard is to go to the nightly featured show in the Stardust Lounge. This theatre is very large (but not as large as those on the newer NCL ships), as it is located on decks 6 and 7 and accommodates up to 1,066 people. Shows include comedians, musicians, singers, acrobatic performers, Broadway and Vegas-style shows, and more. The shows are top quality, and are sure to keep you entertained each night of your cruise.
During the day you'll find the majority of the ship's guests outside on the main decks, especially by the pool. Because of this, you'll want to get to the deck early if you plan on getting a few lounge chairs in a desirable location near the pool. The Oasis Pool is the main pool, and it's located on deck 11. Besides the main pool there are five hot tubs as well. Kids will love the Splashes Kid's Pool, on deck 12. This area features a waterfall and even a children's hot tub.
There are many other sport-related activities available onboard Norwegian Sun. These include a jogging/walking track (on deck 6), a basketball/volleyball court (on deck 12), and a golf driving net (also on deck 12). The Body Waves Spa & Fitness Center is on deck 11 and is a very popular area for Norwegian Sun's guests. The spa offers exotic treatments and a full service beauty salon.
Feeling lucky? Well, the Sun Club Casino is located on deck 7. There are many slot machines and card tables. There may be various slot machine, blackjack, and poker tournaments throughout your cruise. You can also find the Art Gallery on deck 7.
There are a lot of popular places to go on deck 6. For example, there is the LifeStyles Room (for playing cards, writing and reading), the internet cafe, the well-stocked East Indies Library, and the Havana Cigar Club (featuring premium cigars, spirits, and fine cognacs). The East Indies Conference Center is also on deck 6, as well as the TechStyles room. The TechStyles room is a meeting space with the latest in audio/video and high-end presentation equipment.
The Galleria gift shops are located on deck 7. The gift shops offer a variety of items, including jewelry, perfume, clothing, memorabilia, and even duty-free liquor. The chapel is located on deck 12, a nice setting for an onboard wedding...or perhaps a renewal of your wedding vows.
Because of the Freestyle Cruising concept, the dress code is not very strict or formal on a Norwegian Cruise - it is actually quite casual, relative to other cruise lines. As far as dining goes, casual attire is preferred during the day. Examples of casual attire are: khakis, skirts, jeans, casual tops, and shorts. At the buffet and outdoor dining venues, swimwear with a cover-up is just fine.
During dinner a collared shirt and pants (or nice jeans) is fine for men. For women slacks, jeans, dresses, skirts, and tops are fine. If you'd like to dress up for dinner and wear something more formal or glamorous that is OK too, as on most NCL cruises there is usually at least one night were many people will do so (known as the "Captain's Night" or "Formal Night"). For kids 12 and under, shorts are OK in all of the restaurants.
NCL's children's program is called the Kids Crew. The Kids Crew program is run by NCL's Youth Staff and is free of charge (of course, gratuities are appreciated by the staff). Each staff member is CPR and First Aid certified. The Kids Crew program features complimentary activities that are scheduled throughout each day of your cruise. Examples of these activities are painting, pajama parties, pizza making, and shows. A parent or guardian is required to initially register 2-17 year olds for this program. Children are assigned to groups, based on age (Juniors = 2-5 years old, First Mates = 6-9 years old, Navigators = 10-12 years old, and Teens = 13-17 years old). Kids under 13 may not sign themselves out. There is not a one-on-one care program available in the Youth Program.
There is group-sitting available for kids. The "Late Night Party Zone" and "Port Play" are both programs for kids 2-12 years of age. The "Port Play" program is run from 9 am to 5 pm and is for parents that want to go on shore excursions alone, leaving their kids in the hands of qualified professionals. The "Late Night Party Zone" is available from 10 pm to 1 am. The cost of these two programs is $5 per hour, per child, and $3 per hour for each additional sibling in the same family. These charges are applied to your onboard expense account.
There is also a Teen Program available onboard Norwegian Sun. This program is for those that are 13-17 years of age. This program is a great way for teens to meet and have fun.
Splash's Kids Pool is located forward on the Sports deck. Just one deck lower (on the Pool deck) is Video Zone, a video arcade that features various video games and machines.
NCL charges a fixed fee for what they call service charges on all Norwegian Sun cruises. This fee is $12 per person, per day and is charged to your onboard expense account. There is no such charge for children under 3 years of age. If while on your cruise you find that these fees are more than you'd like to pay (or if you are very unhappy with the service you've been provided with by the staff), you can adjust the service charge fees to the level you prefer (as long as you do so before you leave the ship). NCL does not consider this service charge to be the same thing as a gratuity or tip. NCL states that they do not auto-charge you for gratuities (even though the service charge does seem to be a similar fee).
If you find a few staff members that really stand out and make your vacation more enjoyable, NCL's staff is allowed to accept cash gratuities. The recommended gratuity for guests purchasing bar beverages is 15%. For those purchasing spa and salon services, please be aware that NCL automatically adds a gratuity of 18% (called a service charge on certain ships).
The official legal drinking age on a Norwegian cruise is 21 years of age. However, guests that are 18 to 20 years old with written consent from their parents or guardian are allowed to purchase beer and wine when the ship is sailing in international waters (except in Alaska & Hawaii, where you must be 21 years old to do so).
The minimum gambling age on all NCL cruise ships in 18 years of age. A valid photo ID may be required, so be sure to have one with you while in the casino. Please be aware that onboard casinos are closed on NCL ships while sailing in Hawaii.