NCL Sun Cruising Review

Norwegian Cruise Lines

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NCL Ship Suggestions

Norwegian Sun Ship Suggestions

Since the Norwegian Sun is only two years old, lessons learned from previous ships have been incorporated into the design of new ones. This includes the efficient use of space and traffic flows. My rule of thumb is that a ship which is under constant use and full passenger quota, the ship should not be in service for more than five years. Cruise ships with high passenger loads age very quickly. The most commonly replaced items are carpeting and fixtures.

Restaurant Reservation System

The "Freestyle" nature of the ship lends itself to a reservation system of some type, unfortunately the one which NCL has is antiquated and does not work well. The Ginza area of the ship was always underutilized, with only about 20% of the capacity ever realized. The no-cover restaurants were always in or near full capacity. What I recommend is a beeper system for dining reservations, that is, when you are ready to eat, if there is a waiting list, you are issued a beeper which allows you to go to a bar and enjoy some pre-dinner cocktails. This is done in many land-based restaurants to great success and insures that the space is used at capacity without over-stressing the kitchen staff.

Main Restaurant Seating

Part of the "Freestyle" regime is to dine when you want, and with whom you want. But nothing could be further from the truth in some cases during the voyage. There were a number of times when we wanted to get seated in either of the large main dining areas, and we were told we'd have a 20 minute wait. Doesn't sound too Freestyle to me. A better system would be a hybrid, where you have assigned seating at a variety of times. Instead of a early or late time assignment, have 4-5 times when you could choose. And if you decided to eat at one of the "pay" dining areas, that would be fine. I personally prefer to have a designated time to eat, and with some new passengers. This is a great way to meet new people, which is difficult during dining times with the Freestyle method.

Upselling

I found it quite annoying that almost everything had an "a la carte" pricing to it. From the $3.00 a bottle for water in the rooms, to a cover to take an exercise class, and the cover charge for dining. The first item you are greeted with at each meal is, "Would you like some water with your meal ? We have two choices... " and they offer one of two bottled waters. Order the "NCL" water, it's free. I'd rather be charged more initially for the cruise, than being constantly being nickel and dimed.

Tanning Space Poolside

There seems to be quite a shortage of tanning space topside during the days at sea. Get rid of the sports venues topside to make space for people to enjoy the outside. The basketball court is a waste of a huge amount of space, along with the shuffleboard and golf driving areas. I know that Voyager of the Seas even has a putting green, which is trendy and quite unnecessary. Most people take cruises to be out on the ocean and adventure new exotic islands, not shoot hoops or practice a swing on a moving ship. I would also deploy the use of retracting hammocks instead of the lounge chairs, it would be less work for the deck personnel and more comfortable for the passengers.

What Did not Stand Out

The biggest part of the cruise which did not appear, was any vibration of the propulsion system. NCL should be applauded for the use of the very quiet and vibration free electric propulsion system which drives the ship. Diesel generators produce electricity which drives the huge electric motors to turn the screws that drive the ship. The system works, and works quite well. On most conventional ships, huge drive shafts link an engine to the screws, which can produce large vibrations especially aft of the ship during docking, anchoring and other maneuvers. On the newer ships, you don't even know the propulsion system is there. Well done NCL !

Overall Comments

Overall, the ship and her crew are operating at the peak of efficiency. The ship is sound, and the crew were all very gracious. I did not meet one crew member or staff which did not greet me with a smile. There were times when I really pushed the special order routine, but was always graciously responded to. For example, when I ordered sushi down in the main dining room, I was told that I could not order there and was given an explanation that because of food and area contamination issues, the restaurants were not allowed to bring food to other areas. On many other cruise lines, I might get a simple "no" but the staff on NCL goes the extra mile to explain why. Over the course of the week I had a number of special order requests, and they were all handled in the same, exact manner, which is extremely professional. Only once when I asked a question, a staff could not answer, but found somebody that could. I give NCL high marks in their training of personnel.

 

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