Tucked away in the Norwegian Cruise Line press release for 2015-16 winter cruises were some truly different, off the beaten track options for the stalwart, still highly popular Norwegian Sun.
Introduced in September 2001, Norwegian Sun was the first of the company’s ships especially built to showcase the Freestyle Dining concept which has since became the Norwegian touchstone.
The 78,000 ton vessel- one of the most beautiful ships afloat anywhere- was initially based in the Caribbean, before several Alaska seasons, and even some South America sailings, before Norwegian deployed her for a few summer seasons in Northern Europe.
In recent years, she has returned to her original home port of Miami, alternating winter Caribbean cruises with summer voyages in Alaska. As of now, she is scheduled to move to Tampa this autumn.
In October 2015, the Norwegian Sun will relocate to San Diego for the first of three, eleven night round trip cruises to the Mexican Riviera. Highlights of these will include an overnight stay in Cabo San Lucas; other ports visited will include Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, La Paz, and Ensenada.
But the real highlight of the programme is the return of Norwegian Sun to fourteen night, round South America cruises. Running in both directions between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso, Chile, these cruises will sail from November 2015 through to April of 2016.
Ports of call will include Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco, Port Stanley in the Falklands, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Puerto Madryn, and Uruguay’s show stopping capital of Montevideo. En route , passengers can savour the scenic delights of the Chilean Fords and the Straits Of Magellan, as well as the famous voyage around Cape Horn.
These South America runs mark the return of Norwegian to the region for the first time since 2010, when Norwegian Sun herself closed out a seasonal run offered for many years by both Norwegian Dream (now Superstar Gemini) and Norwegian Crown (now Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral).
With scenery at least comparable in terms of scale, scope and beauty to Norway, not to mention infinitely more settled and benign weather, these forays into the Chilean Fjords offer some of the best, most destination intensive cruises available in the Southern Hemisphere. Add in the option of spending a few days, pre or post cruise in sultry Buenos Aires, and the appeal of these trips is obvious.
As companies such as Costa, MSC and Royal Caribbean continue to enjoy success with seasonal, week long South America cruises that take in the highlights of Brazil and Argentina, it seems only a matter of time until Norwegian follows suit. But, for now, the return of Norwegian Sun to round the Cape cruises provides a welcome burst of colour to an oft neglected region.