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Norwegian Cruises aboard the Norwegian Sun
Above: Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Sun Cruise Ship.

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Ship Details
Began service: 2001
Guest capacity: 1,936
Total staff: 800
Length: 853 feet
Passenger decks: 13
CDC inspection score: 95

Norwegian Sun Overview

The Norwegian Sun cruise ship departs from San Francisco, CA, Los Angeles, CA, and New Orleans, LA. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to Alaska, Caribbean, and Panama Canal.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Alaska, Caribbean, and Panama Canal.

N orwegian Sun has been considered Norwegian Cruise Line's first real innovator. NCL's Freestyle Dining concept first debuted on Norwegian Sun, which raised a few eyebrows with nine restaurants. Even its launch was unusual -- the ship shared a dual premier ceremony with Norwegian Star in Miami.

Norwegian Sun sparkles from top to bottom with bright colors, happy staff, spacious accommodations and cheerful public spaces. Upon embarkation, I was immediately impressed with the level of attentiveness I received. I was greeted and directed to my cabin location, and several times was asked if I needed assistance with my carry-ons. Each staff member I passed offered a cheery "hello," and I felt welcome.

In fact, with so many ships and cruise lines from which to choose, it's often the little things that make a difference between a great experience and one that is so-so. For me, it's usually staff and crew behavior that drives my appreciation, and then touches like porcelain cups and real cream at the coffee stations, well-maintained and clean public rooms, attentive room stewards and enjoyable activities for all age groups. All of these factors are present on this ship.

The 78,309-ton, 1,936-passenger ship will continue its exotic Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami, calling at Roatan, Belize, Cozumel and Grand Cayman, through the spring of 2005. The ship spends summers in Alaska. After the 2005 season, beginning in fall, 2005, it will be home-ported in New Orleans calling at Belize, Roatan, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.


The staterooms on Norwegian Sun are attractive and spacious. The color scheme is bright with primary reds, blues, yellows and greens. The beds are very comfortable and the storage space ample, with tons of drawers, shelves and closet space. Attached to the closet is a console with a coffee pot or water boiler (complimentary coffee is included), a cupboard with a room safe, several drawers, and more shelving curved out at the ends. At the other end of the room is a desk/vanity, and a nice-sized mini-fridge.

Rooms designated as triples have a long sofa, (others have love-seat sized sofas) which is really a kind of day-bed; some of these are actually double beds, which can make the room a quad. There are also rooms for five with the double day-bed/sofa and a drop-down berth.

There are 368 cabins with balconies, or just about 61 percent of all outsides. The standard balcony is spacious, about five-feet deep and as wide as the room. The aft corner cabins on Decks 9 and 10 are slightly smaller (with a love-seat-sized sofa rather than a long one) but have larger balconies that wrap a bit to the aft. And if you are looking for a non-balcony stateroom, are able to handle stairs, and want total privacy and quiet, look at the cabins on Oslo Deck (6A).

There are 52 suites on the Sun, ranging from single-room mini-suites with bathtubs, to luxurious owner's suites with hot tubs on the veranda and in-suite laptops. The "top 20" suites get butler services and all suite guests enjoy concierge services.

Twenty cabins are configured for guests in wheelchairs, and 42 for hearing-impaired guests.

The Sun uses a team concept for its room stewards. They work extremely hard, are polite and cheerful, and will make every effort to accommodate you and your family.


"Freestyle Cruising" allows cruise guests to dine when, where, and with whomever they wish. You can dine as late as 9:30pm, or as early as 5:30pm. There's also a 24-hour snack area and 24-hour room service for lighter fare.

Freestyle may not be for everyone; those who prefer set-seating, set-tablemate dining, can be accommodated in one of the ship's main restaurants.

There are two main dining rooms, Seven Seas, which serves "contemporary" cuisine, and Four Seasons, which serves "traditional" cuisine. The difference? In Seven Seas, lobster might be grilled ("contemporary" style), while in Four Seasons, it would be served steamed, with drawn butter ("traditional" style). Meals in these restaurants are tasty, and the wait staff is attentive and considerate.

Four other alternative dining venues have no surcharge, although one, Pacific Heights, does require reservations. In partnership with "Cooking Light" magazine, this restaurant provides tasty food that is low in fat and sodium.

Other no fee options include the Garden Cafe, the ship's buffet restaurant. Although it's fairly standard cafeteria-style fare, some items are exceptional (the grilled tilapia I had at one lunch was superb), and the carving station, with chicken, turkey, roast beef or pork loin was always good. This is also the best dining spot for breakfast, with fresh waffles, omelets made to order, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries and croissants.

In the afternoon and evening, there are separate dessert and fresh fruit stations, and an Indian curry station. At its busiest times it's occasionally difficult to find a table, but if the weather is nice, outside seating is available. You can replenish your drinks at the Great Outdoor Cafe, which also serves fast-food items and snacks (hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, cookies and cake) during the day.

The last of the no-surcharge dining spots, Las Ramblas, is not really a restaurant; it is a lounge located on Deck 12, a great spot to meet before dining. It's a beautiful room that serves tapas.

Restaurants that do charge include Le Bistro ($15), which offers French cuisine. The restaurant is gorgeous, with cozy booths set around the edges of the room and a menu that is filled with delicacies from escargot to foie gras. The signature dessert, chocolate fondue, is not to be missed.

Il Adagio ($12.50) is another option that features northern Italian cuisine, with specialties of pizza and pasta.

New to Norwegian Sun will be a steakhouse restaurant, similar in style to Cagney's, the steakhouse found on Norwegian Dawn -- and the surcharge will be $20.

Ginza serves a wide array of Japanese foods including sushi; the teppanyaki bar only seats 12, so make reservations early. Sushi is ordered a la carte at $2 to $5 per serving, depending on type, but if you don't need the fancy stuff, there's an "all you can eat" sushi menu for only $10. This is a terrific deal, considering the freshness and presentation of the offer.

Room service is basic for guests in standard staterooms Breakfast is continental, selected from a simple menu on a door-hung card. One nice touch is that the restaurant phones before they send your breakfast to make sure you are awake and ready.

Suite guests get hot breakfast options, including eggs, bacon, sausage and oatmeal, and can order lunch and dinner off of the main dining room menus during dining times.


Norwegian Cruise Line excels in entertainment with its colorful production shows and Broadway-style reviews. With the Jean Ann Ryan dance company and many other performers (magicians, comedians, and a Cirque du Soleil-like troupe of acrobats) the evening entertainment is stellar. The Stardust Lounge is a nice venue with excellent acoustics; select a seat carefully for a good view.

The bars and nightclubs around the ship have separate entertainment, such as duos singing old rock and blues, a country western singer, a guitarist/vocalist, pianist, and a calypso/reggae band at poolside. Wherever you go in the evening, there is music.

The best and most outrageous show of the week was the Ship 'n' Males Review (a play on Chippendale's) where crew members did a striptease down to their boxers or tighty-whities to tunes like "Livin' La Vida Loca" or "I'm Too Sexy." Dazzles Nightclub was the most crowded on that evening, with lots of fun and laughter. It wasn't lewd, but definitely not for youngsters.

Daytime entertainment is more low-key, but there's plenty to see and do. Bingo, craft-making, art auctions, pool games, and trivia contests are all available during the day, both at sea and in port. A movie is shown in Dazzles in the morning and another in the afternoon. In-room TV stations include local channels while in port, CNN International, ESPN, an "oldies" sitcom channel, several ship-specific channels, and a couple of movie channels with a rotating selection. However, few of the movies were recent releases.

Fitness & Recreation

There are two pools on the main pool deck, and four hot tubs; a deck above, there is a kiddie pool and another hot tub. Several adults on my cruise chose to relax around the kids' pool when the main pools became too noisy or crowded.

The Body Waves Spa is on the starboard side and Body Waves Fitness Center and Aerobics Studio is on port side, all nicely equipped for exercising. Use of the machines is free, but some classes have a small fee ($5 to $10). These include yoga, pilates and spinning classes. The spa is nice with personnel who try not to hard-sell their products. Treatments seem pricey but there are always specials, especially on port days. A full body treatment will run around $129, a facial around $89.

There are complimentary sauna and steam rooms for both men and women, a basketball court, two golf driving cages, batting cage, and shuffleboard court on Deck 12, and a ping-pong table on the pool deck.

Public Areas

The layout of the ship makes it easy to navigate with most of the public spaces located on Decks 5, 6 and 7, plus the pool/spa/Lido Deck (11) and the alternate restaurants and Sun Deck (12). A small, soaring atrium is located towards the forward end, with two banks of glass-enclosed elevators rising to Deck 12.

The Deck 5 atrium area houses the front desk, concierge, shore excursions and the Java Cafe (specialty coffees and pastries for an a la carte fee), plus the entrance to the Four Seasons Restaurant. Deck 6 is the most beautiful, and the most fun, with Dazzles, the main disco-nightclub; Windstar Lounge; and Havana Club, the cigar bar. The photo gallery, library, meeting rooms and card rooms are also located here.

The whole atrium area of Deck 6 comprises the Internet Cafe, run by MTN/Digital Seas. Computer stations are scattered around the central core so anyone using them doesn't feel isolated. Packages can bring your rate down from 75 cents per minute to as low as 40 cents per minute. Wireless internet is available too (laptops and wireless cards are available to rent), but the "hot spots" are limited to the atrium area and right around the pool.

Deck 7 is home to the shopping arcade and the Sun Club casino, with a variety of table games, slots, video poker, and a space for nickel slot players. At the forward end of Deck 7 is the Kid's Corner.

The Observation Lounge is located forward on Deck 12, a sunny viewing space during the day, a hopping music and dance spot at night.

There is a small but lovely chapel on Deck 12 just adjacent to the Observation Lounge.

The ship has no self-serve laundry.


NCL is a family-oriented cruise line, with a great children's program and group babysitting. The Kid's Corner is a series of three rooms with age-appropriate activities in each. You have to go down stairs to get to the rooms but there are viewing "portholes" for parents up above. The groups are broken down by compatible ages: 3-5, 6-8, and 10-12. A lot of time is devoted to outdoor activities. There are also pizza-making parties for parents and kids, and a child-sized Chocoholic's Buffet arranged in the Pacific Heights restaurant at the same time as the one for adults. The program is free of charge; there is a nominal fee for after-hours group babysitting; plan on about $6 per hour.

Teens (13- 7) have their own group activities, and a disco is set aside specifically for them.

Expert Norwegian Sun reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Alaska, Caribbean, and Panama Canal.


Discount Code

Norwegian Sun cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Norwegian Sun Score: 95

Cruise Critic: Norwegian Sun
The Cruise Critic gives NCL's Norwegian Sun a 4-ribbon rating.

Web links

NCL Cruises
Request a brochure, or find a travel agent who represents Norwegian Cruise Line at the company's official Web site.

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