Our family of 4 just returned from a vacation that exceeded our high expectations! We are in our 40s and were traveling with DD (13) and DS(12)
We have sailed before on Princess, Carnival and RCL and were curious how NCL would compare. Let's just say we look forward to booking our next vacation on NCL and are happy to share our experience with others who are thinking of trying NCL or already looking forward to an upcoming vacation.
Embarkation and Cabins:
Embarkation was a breeze. We got to the port just after noon and were sitting down to lunch 30 minutes later. Our rooms, adjoining balconies, were ready less than an hour later. The configuration of the room was a little awkward, as the closet and bathroom doors hit into each other, but the bathroom configuration was the best we've seen on any cruise line, the beds were very comfortable and we had plenty of room. We chose having 2 balcony rooms rather than a mini-suite (which was about the same price) for the extra room and to have an extra bathroom and were very glad we did. After settling into our rooms, we headed to the pool and sail away party.
Itinerary and Ports:
The Western Carribean Itinerary was a big part of how we chose this cruise, and we were not disappointed. We like to have several stops on our cruises, rather than a lot of at sea time, and this cruise fit that requirement perfectly. We had a great time at every port, largely due to the excursions that we booked. These are reviewed in detail in the "Port Review" Section.
The whole family agreed that while staff on all cruise ships we've been on are wonderful, those on the Norwegian Star are unbeatable! EVERYONE we met from our room stewards who kept our rooms spotless and made the best towel animals we've ever seen (especially the monkey hanging from our ceiling), to the wait staff (particularly those in the Aqua dining room) were outstanding. I don't think we passed a single staff member all week who did not go out of their way to say hello to us. On a few instances where we needed directions, staff went out of their way to escort us to the correct room or staircase, rather than to just point the way.
We enjoyed the CC M&G. It was a great opportunity to meet other passengers, along with the Captain and several other senior officers. A real treat was the Captain's invitation to tour the bridge later in the week, as this is something we've never had the opportunity to do.
We ate most of our breakfasts and one dinner in the Versailles Restaurant and the remaining dinners in the Aqua Dining Room. For lunch we sampled The Blue Lagoon, the Buffet and the Versailles. We also had breakfast one morning at the buffet. All of our meals were at least "good", several were excellent. No complaints about our meals at all, except that we may have ate a bit too much.
We all agreed that the entertainment on board the ship was excellent. The singers and dancers were consistently good and we particularly liked the show "Band on the Run". The Second City Comedy Troop kept us laughing and we really enjoyed "Shark Bait". The band Xcite, which played by the pool was great and we stopped to listen to the the guitarist and flutist whenever we happened to walk by where they were playing. We didn't participate in a lot of the activities held throughout the day, but did enjoy the martini tasting and the kids liked the juggling lesson.
We needed a full day to get familiar with the layout of the ship. After that first day, we loved it! Everything was easy to find (after the first day!), we enjoyed the pool and hot tubs and loved playing family shuffleboard every day, though we do wish there were more shuffleboard courts. I loved walking around Deck 7 every morning in an effort to offset some of the inevitable weight gain that comes from eating all of the delicious food. It is on Deck 7 that I encountered the only unpleasant passenger of the entire week, a man who insisted on smoking cigars every morning and afternoon, while others were walking and jogging. I attempted to politely remind him that cigar smoking is on Deck 13 only, but he refused to move and his wife laughed at me. The cruise staff immediately told him that he would need to put out the cigar or relocated, which I greatly appreciated. However, he continued to appear in the same spot every morning and afternoon. I have to say that he was the only passenger that I ran into all week that was unpleasant. Everyone else around the pool, at the restaurants and bars and on the ports was wonderful. Couldn't ask for a better group of fellow-cruisers.
Other reviewers have mentioned that some parts of the ship were worn or in need of refurbishment. While this is true in spots, I have to say that after the first day on the ship, I didn't notice it at all (and I am picky!). The positives on the ship, particularly the people, far outweighed a little worn carpet on the stairway.