GREAT EXPERIENCE! The best way to sample South America's many cultures

Norwegian Sun Cruise Review to South America

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 33

Overall rating:

4.2 out of 5
Verified Review
Norwegian Sun

16 Night South America Explorer (Santiago To Miami)

Sail date: March 16, 2019

Ship: Norwegian Sun

Cabin type: Inside

Cabin number: 7314

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

Something to think about... we were a bit stunned that the average age of the travelers on this cruise seemed to be >70 y.o. Logical to suppose that people are retired in order to take a longer 16 day cruise. That said, this cruise was a FABULOUS way to experience 6 countries of South and Central America. We really enjoyed the exposure to the Latin cultures. NCL gets very high marks for their customer service. ALSO, the cruise director Jeimy (from Colombia!!!) was the BEST-BEST-BEST ever. She needs to be the 'face' and personality for all of NCL -- hope you can experience a cruise when she is the director.


4 out of 5
With ~ 2000 people queuing to board a large cruise ship, it is a massive process yet all went efficiently. The only issue that made us a little nervous was that passports were collected and kept at the time of check in (they were later returned to us about day 5 while onboard). It was explained that the port of entry stamps were applied in the passports in the 4 Chile and Peru ports.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
The main dining rooms had excellent service and all meals were wonderful. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants on this cruise as they involve additional charges. The buffets were better than we had experienced on two other major cruise lines. There was no lobster served at any meal, but we did not miss it. Was looking forward to Chilean sea bass, especially since the port of embarkation was Santiago plus 2 other ports in Chile but it was never on the menu. ;-( Strong points: food was always appealing, plentiful, tasty, served at the right temperature -- weight gain at end of 16 days of cruising... 5 pounds (and now working it off). Really liked the Unlimited Open Bar option -- so nice to enjoy libations and not have to be shocked by a huge bill at the end of the cruise.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
We have been on other cruise lines with the rock-climbing walls and ice skating rinks which seem great but are not for us. NCL seemed to make great efforts to keep guests entertained and active.


5 out of 5
The GOOD: Some of the best stage shows on a cruise ship that we've seen -- great singers, dancers and musicians. The jazz group and the Latin music duo were FANTASTIC. The BAD: The DJ needed improvement -- inexperienced? -- and did not offer variety in the playlist and often misread the nightclub audience. Dance music was sometimes stuck on the 'same old-same old'. During a Beatle songs dance party, the band opened with 4 of the slowest and non-danceable songs -- pure buzz kill.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Customer service was over-the-top great and sincere. The best experience we have had in 9 cruises and better than 3 of the larger cruise ship lines.

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
We liked the ship which was not super huge and not too small. The staff was constantly working to keep things clean in all common areas. Norwegian Sun is not the newest ship in the NCL fleet but everyone was well maintained. Everything was clean and sanitary and we never got sick and were conscious of hand hygiene (many who cruise get norovirus or GI illnesses -- you just have to be smart about the hygiene in public places). We had seen comments on cruise evaluations -- we give NCL good marks on their public health practices for a clean cruise ship.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
The inside cabin we had was GREAT for size and location. We discovered that there is a perk with an inside cabin -- it is dark and quiet for slumber, sealing off the outside light! Have been in balcony rooms and a suite before while cruising, and although they may offer more square footage, we really enjoyed this cabin. NOTE: we liked not being on a deck which was not all cabins (e.g. deck 9). The rooms on deck 7 were close , but not too close, to the activity centers.

Ship tip

Appreciate that hard-working staff. The cruise ship director JEIMY C from Colombia (!!!) was the BEST ever. She exudes such energy, enthusiasm, and genuine encouragement to enjoy life. Her English/Spanish seamless translation was AMAZING!

Ports of call

San Antonio, Chile Did not visit port

We stayed in nearby Valparaiso which was WONDERFUL... had a great experience.

Coquimbo (La Serena), Chile

4 out of 5
Loved Chile -- there is a large shopping mall, farmers market and supermarket on a 10-15 minute walk from the port gate. Was safe and offered an interesting view of local culture. Also the fish market (multiple stalls) next to the port was fascinating.

Arica, Chile

4 out of 5
We walked to the nearby church and viewed the huge granite 'rock'. Great to see... Some nice and easy shopping in stalls were positioned near the port and we purchased some really cute native souvenirs (not outlandishly priced).

Callao (Lima), Peru

3 out of 5
Caught the cruise shuttle to the port entry and arranged the taxi to get to downtown Lima. The taxi drivers were a little aggressive/pushy but we were able to get a wonderful, kind taxi driver. Downtown Lima had an amazing cathedral and central square.

Salaverry (Trujillo), Peru

3 out of 5

Manta, Ecuador

4 out of 5
There are some great things to see within walking distance of the port but we secured a cab ride to Montecristi. Bought our fabulous Panama hats (THEY ARE MADE IN ECUADOR and wonderful quality) and enjoyed the 2 hour experience.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

3 out of 5

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5
The HIGHLIGHT of the cruise -- excellent narration was offered about the history of the Panama canal and the structure. Started early about 6 am leaving Pacific waters to 3 pm when the ship made it to the Caribbean waters.

Cartagena, Colombia

4 out of 5
Must take an excursion -- experienced the old fort, the walled city, some shopping and then to the city hill for an amazing panoramic view of Cartagena. This was also the nicest port area... just outside the gate there is an aviary and nice shops. The birds -- flamingos, peacocks, parrots, toucans, and some other native animal life -- AMAZING!!! Also be sure to get coffee from the Juan Valdez shop (as we noticed most of the cruise employees flocking there!).

Miami, Florida

3 out of 5
Been there... done that.


2 out of 5
This was the least favorite part of the cruise. Inefficient and somewhat unpleasant with the crowds.
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