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Norwegian Sun Facts & Figures
Owner/Operator:Norwegian Cruise Line
Year built:2001
Builder:Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven, Germany
Former names:-
Gross Tonnage:78,309
Length:258.6 m (853.0 ft)
Beam:32.2 m (105.8 ft)
Passengers (normal):1,936
Passengers (maximum):2,627
Crew:968
Service speed:22.6 kn
Sister Ships:-
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From the ShipParade Archives: Here comes the Sun - Norwegian Sun ShipTour
Text & Photos © 2001 Bart de Boer - Amenities, decor, charges and services have changed since this article was written

In 1966, Norwegian ship owner Knut Kloster and Miami-based Arison family formed NCL and changed the face of the cruise industry by offering the first fly-cruises out of Miami. Now, 40 years later, Norwegian Cruise Line is back - stronger than ever. The line's new owners (Star Cruises of Malaysia) have invested heavily to once again make NCL one of the front runners in today's demanding cruise industry. And from what I have seen, they will certainly succeed.

When Star Cruises took over the control of NCL in 1999, the first thing to go was assigned seating at dinner. Labeled as "Freestyle Cruising", all NCL ships now offer open seating in any of the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants. The first new NCL ship to be custom designed to the "Freestyle Cruising" concept entered service on September 10th, 2001 and is named Norwegian Sun. Built by Lloyd Werft of Bremerhaven, Germany (who also delivered Norwegian Sky in 1999), Norwegian Sun reached an impressive top speed of 23,6 knots during North Sea trials at the end of August. Just hours after the new ship was officially handed over to her owners on Friday, August 31st, 2001, I boarded the ship in Bremerhaven for an overnight celebration. Let's start our ShipTour at the heart of the ship. Crowned by a glass roof, the tall 8-deck high atrium serves as the first introduction to the beauty of Norwegian Sun. With marble flooring, offset by colorful carpeting and walls covered in wood veneer paneling, the atmosphere is elegant but not too]elegant. If ever the term "Freestyle Cruising" could be translated to a shipboard area, this would be it. Four glass elevators (two on each side of the atrium) and a grand staircase help passengers move from deck to deck.
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At the base of the atrium on deck 5 is the very inviting Java Café. Carrying the same look and feel as the atrium with colorful carpeting and chairs, this is the ship's coffee and pastry bar that is open almost around the clock. A great place for some serious people watching, and perfect for night owls wanting to enjoy that final nightcap before retiring.

Directly opposite the Java Café is the huge semi-circular reception & shore excursion desk. Other than on most ships, there is one desk for all shipboard services. Offset by marble flooring the area looks almost bare, but somehow it blends in perfectly with the swirls of the carpeting found elsewhere in the atrium. All in all, I consider this as one of the more successful atrium spaces found on today's cruise fleet. Although closely resembling the atrium on near-sister Norwegian Sky (now Pride of Aloha), the addition of the Java Café on Norwegian Sun is a big improvement over the previous design, while the contemporary looks perfectly fit NCL's new "Freestyle" image.
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Most of Atlantic Deck is given over to the pleasures of ... food. Directly aft of the atrium is the first of two main dining rooms. The Four Seasons Restaurant seats 564 passengers and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on an open-seating basis. You basically report for dining duty at the Maitre d's desk at a time convenient to you and you are escorted to a table. The Four Seasons Restaurant is BIG, spanning the full width of the ship, but the high ceiling, walls of windows and ingenious layout make it manageable. The walls are all done in glossy wood veneer, while carpeting and wooden-framed chairs are all bright red. This might sound garish, but the result is very, very pleasing and indeed the red tones add liveliness and even a touch of elegance.
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Directly aft of the Four Seasons Restaurant is a staircase that leads up to deck 6. A small lobby serves as the somewhat hidden entrance to the Il Adagio Italian Restaurant. Sandwiched between the two large main dining rooms, this long and narrow 84-seat reservations-only dining venue has numerous tables for two at the window, while cozy banquette seating is available for parties of up to 4.

Done in a rich classical style, with Roman sculptures, inlaid carpets and heavy fabrics, the Il Adagio is the ship's intimate Italian eatery and charges a fee for dinner. I made a table reservation by phone from my cabin, and was accommodated courteously. When reporting at the Maitre d' desk at the entrance to Il Adagio later that evening, we were whisked to our table for four and had a look at the extensive menu filled to the brim with Italian delicacies. While our waiter was on the verge of being over-courteous, service was extremely slow, with the food being of good quality and beautifully presented.
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All the way aft on deck 5 is the second of two main dining rooms. The Seven Seas Restaurant is reached by means of a two-deck high lobby and is similar to the Four Seasons in all but its decor. Done in blue and gold with beautiful chairs and lots of shiny wood veneer paneling, the Seven Seas has windows on three sides. Seating is at tables of 4 to 12, and you can enjoy a full open-seating breakfast, lunch or dinner here, with the odd Midnight Buffet thrown in on selected evenings. As this is one of the main dining rooms on board, food served here is included in the cruise fare. From what I've seen, menus are quite extensive, with food quality comparable to most other major cruise lines.

NCL have always been known for their upbeat production shows. During this overnight event, a full musical revue is staged at the Stardust Lounge. The room is located all the way aft and spans two decks, providing comfortable seating for 1,000 passengers. Let the show begin!
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Two striking chandeliers welcome guests to the Stardust Lounge. With a star-studded carpet and a purple and yellow color scheme, the atmosphere is upbeat and successful. Seating is theater-style on the balcony level (deck 7) and a combination of theater-seats and regular chairs on deck 6. With just a few pillars to block any view, sightlines are good, and naturally sound and light systems are state of the art.

Walking forward from the lower level of the Stardust Lounge, we pass the wide and empty Photo Gallery. During a typical Caribbean cruise this area will most certainly be a hub of activity, but now - with no photos to display - it basically serves as a thoroughfare to the other public rooms on Promenade Deck. Directly accessible from the Photo Gallery is the tiny Library, basically serving as the lobby to the East Indies Conference Center - three rooms that can be combined to form one large space capable of holding a total of 126 persons. Named Borneo, Malaysia and Bali, the rooms' decorations include masks, spears and other art objects.
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Directly forward of the Photo Gallery is the wonderful Windjammer Bar. If ever there was a DARK room, this is it. It is also the most popular drinking hole on board Norwegian Sun with its comfortable leather couches and nautical memorabilia displayed ever so nice in large glass cases. The large bar runs all the way to the adjacent Havana Club; hangout for cigar aficionado's. Pub-like swinging doors lead into Dazzles, Norwegian Sun's nightclub. The room features one of the longest bar counters on the seven seas. A nicely sized dance floor is sure to please the late night crowd here.

One deck up and we come to International Deck. All the way forward is the extensive Kid's Corner & Teen Club, full of things to make children "disappear" for the duration of the cruise. Passing a number of passenger cabins, we come to the main staircase again. A small card room is located on starboard side, in its turn overlooking the Champagne Bar which runs around the whole atrium.
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A very inviting bar is placed right next to one of the floor-to-ceiling walls of glass, which make sure you are in good contact with the outside world. Seating in pale green chairs is very comfortable, the atmosphere is elegant yet low-key (some would call this "Freestyle" perhaps?) and there is always something to see. A winner! Directly aft of the Atrium is the entrance to the Sun Club Casino. With its combination of inlaid marble flooring and bright red carpeting this is indeed an elegant "gaming club" rather than the ridiculously ornate casino's found on so many new ships. One brilliant thing is the passageway that runs aft on starboard side. If gambling leaves you cold, you can take the shortcut and pass by the casino altogether!
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Running from the Casino to the aft stair tower, the Shopping Arcade on Norwegian Sun is a very nice passageway. I especially like the painted cloud-like ceiling and the shop fronts that were most likely inspired by London's Burlington Arcade. Final stop on International Deck is the aft stair tower. Artwork in the stair towers is unconventional, with huge photos and paintings cut into pieces. It sounds strange, I know, but the result is original, upbeat and works extremely well.

Now let's talk staterooms. Norwegian Sun has no less than 793 passenger cabins in an astonishing 30 categories, varying from simple inside cabins to the most elaborate of suites. I was staying in a category BC balcony cabin on Viking Deck, and was surprised by its spaciousness and functionality.
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All of Norwegian Sun's cabins come equipped with TV, telephone, safe and ... best of all ... tea and coffee making facilities! In my opinion that's the best gadget of all. With the exception of the suites, all bathrooms are standardized and done in gray plastic-like material, which combined with the white towels make them look like tiny seagoing hospitals. Although they are small, the ingenious layout of these bathrooms make up for their lack of color. The circular shower stall is superb, with a power shower to match. Shampoo and soap is provided in dispensers and all bathrooms are equipped with a powerful hairdryer.

Now what about the decor of the cabins? Shall we call it "colorful"? The mix of yellow sofa, green bedspreads, blue carpeting and red chair does create an upbeat atmosphere, but I recommend a pair of sunglasses on the bedside table for these first daylight moments...
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Top of the line are the suites, located at various locations forward and aft. I really liked the aft Penthouse Suites, with a generous balcony and separate living and sleeping quarters. SONY audio visual systems are provided in all suites, with large TV's and even DVD players. Bathrooms are clad in pale marble and feature full-sized tubs plus separate shower stalls. The attention to detail in these suites is quite impressive, ulminating in the gorgeous balcony of the Owner's Suite forward on deck 11. Hovering over the bridge, one can sit here in one's own sheltered Jacuzzi overlooking the bow. Not bad at all...!

Hit the deck! Norwegian Sun boasts a vast array of open deck space to make full use of her sunny Caribbean itineraries. I was pleased to see the main pool deck on deck 11 is covered in real teak wood. The pool deck holds two nicely-sized swimming pools, divided by four Jacuzzis under a large canopy. There is the large and inviting Topsiders Bar on one end and a stage and dance floor on the other.
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One deck higher is the upper sun deck and the casual open-air Champ's Bar wrapped around the huge skylight that is suspended over the atrium. To starboard side a small kid's splash pool can be found, while deck 13 houses another expansive sun deck overlooking the bow of the ship. Being an NCL ship, there is much focus on recreational facilities. For starters, there is a large basketball and volleyball court overlooking the pool deck, with shuffleboard, batting cages and a golf driving net available further aft on deck 12.

But back on deck 11, we first discover the expansive Body Waves Spa. A few years ago, NCL got rid of Steiner's and hired Mandara to handle their spa arrangements. The result is quite pleasing, with staff dressed in sarongs instead of the clinical Steiners outfits. I did not have the time to indulge in any of the exotic treatments available here, but the look and "feel" of the place was fine.
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NCL started offering afternoon ice cream long before other cruise lines did and continues that tradition at Sprinkles, where all kinds of ice cream are served. In fact, Sprinkles is a part of the Garden Café, a 24-hour buffet restaurant running on starboard side. In colder climes, this area is bound to be too small. We had breakfast at the Garden Café, and I enjoyed the good service, with immaculately dressed waitresses cleaning tables continually. The food offerings were rather minimal - I sadly missed NCL's famous Power Muesli!

Serving "lean & light" dishes on a reservations-only basis, the Pacific Heights restaurant on port side is is one more NCL innovation. As far as I know, there is no surcharge in this intimate 80-seat restaurant, but to be honest I wasn't ecstatic when I studied the menu. Guess I'm not "lean & light" enough... Decor is beautiful though, with whicker-and-leather chairs complemented by beige carpeting, green plants and floor-to-ceiling windows.
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Aft of the Pacific Heights Restaurant is NCL's signature Sports Bar. Done in a colorful, upbeat style with wooden flooring, a wonderful inviting bar and direct access to the outdoor aft deck, this is bound to be a very popular room. Last but not least is the Great Outdoor Café. This is a great place to have breakfast or lunch, shaded from the sun by the gigantic canopy, but still taking in some fresh sea air. The two well laid out buffet stations can be closed off and are complemented by a fantastic outdoor bar.

We come to the end of our Norwegian Sun ShipTour, but we cannot disembark before we have a look at some of the most stunning rooms on this fine ship. With magnificent views through gigantic walls of windows, the Observation Lounge is bound to be a popular spot during the daytime, and with a combo playing at night I'm sure many passengers will find their way to this somewhat remote location.
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Further aft, across the small lobby, is an equally small Chapel, which is another novelty for NCL. But given the popularity of renewal of wedding vows, and even on board weddings these days, the cruise line could not stay behind and decided to install its own (toned down) version. Mind you, on-board weddings are not possible on Norwegian Sun. Yet. All the way aft on deck 12 is an oasis of culinary delight, with three stunning specialty restaurants grouped together, further emphasizing that NCL is doing things differently.

Let's start with a stunning "East Meets West" and Ginza Restaurants, both located in the same area. When entering the restaurant from the aft lobby, there is a Teppanyaki Room to the right - one of the few afloat these days. A few steps forward and you'll find a wonderful Sushi Bar, where chefs could be seen making preparations for that evening's dinner. To the left is the dining area called "East Meets West", with a menu that reflects a fusion of Hawaiian, Asian and Californian cuisine. There is a hefty surcharge for dining here, but my feeling is that it will be worth every cent.
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But there is more. Las Ramblas is the 83-seat Tapas Bar, where you will head for a little pre-dinner snack, a drink and musical entertainment. The decor is remarkable, borrowing on Spanish and Tex-Mex design elements which results in an utterly inviting, cozy atmosphere. Next door is Le Bistro, a flashy, bright French eatery seating 90 passengers. At night, the room looks perfectly romantic, but what is that odd-looking gazebo doing in the middle?

With all these extra dining venues, it is all too obvious that NCL is successfully exploring new ways to increase onboard spending. Under the expert guidance of owners Star Cruises (who have been known to charge for on-board shows!), the "Freestyle Cruising" concept has grown into the perfect way to make passengers spend a little extra money. But you should always remember that there are enough perfectly fine dining options for those that don't want to be charged extra. That said, the chance that you will want to hold hands with your loved one at that romantic table for two in any of the specialty restaurants is all too apparent. And NCL knows it!
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Having spent some time on board Norwegian Sun, I can only be impressed with how far NCL has come in the past few years. The line is now offering a fine-tuned cruise concept that is well thought out and appeals to a broad range of people. Combined with a stunning new ship like Norwegian Sun, a happy crew, interesting itineraries and competitive pricing, NCL is bound to once again become one of the frontrunners in today's challenging cruise industry.
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