Norwegian Star Cruise Review by JennCandi: Cruising with Young Kids
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Cruising with Young Kids
Sailing out of NYC was a breeze for us, as we only live 45 minutes away. We were dropped off around 12:00 and they took our bags at the curb. Walked into the terminal and were directed towards the VIP line, due to the 2 kids in strollers (this seems to happen a lot and I am planning on keeping my kids in strollers until they do not fit anymore!) We got our cards and were on the boat within 15 minutes. The greeters tried to steer us towards the buffet (probably due to the two toddlers), but we declined. Having read a lot about the Star before the cruise, we knew to head to the Versailles Dining Room for lunch. After lunch we decided to head to the room to see if it was ready and how exactly we were going to fit the four of us in there for a week.
Stateroom -- We booked an Oceanview Guarantee, hoping to get an upgrade to a balcony. The price difference was just too high to justify booking a balcony in the first place. Well we did not get a balcony, but we did get an More "upgraded room". The upgraded room was an O1 -- Family Oceanview 5 Floor Forward. I never would have booked that room, due to the location. The plus to the room was the very large picture window, which the kids loved. They spent many hours sitting together, looking out that window. The overall room size was small, but the bathroom was much better than any we have had before. I loved the separate shower with a sliding door, instead of the shower curtain. The toilet also had a sliding door to separate it. We had them bring a crib (pack n play) to the room and that made it even tighter. I am not sure where the kids would have slept if we did not have that though. My 2 y.o. daughter slept in the crib and my 3 y.o. son slept in the bed with us. There was a bed that came down from the wall, but I was nervous he would fall out of that and there was another bed under our bed. I have no idea where that would have pulled out to. My only true complaint about the room was the location. This is a bad location for anyone who gets seasick. My poor 2 y.o. daughter was miserable anytime we were in the room. I was not very happy either, but can deal with it.
Planet Kids -- Loved it! I was very nervous that the kids would put up a fight about going to the kids' club at night. After the first night, my son was asking to go back, even during the day. They are still taking the 2 year olds and just give you a pager if they are not potty trained, so you can go change them if necessary. The staff was great and they had a different themed party each night. The last night was a pajama party, which I thought was perfect. You did not have to worry about fitting another outfit in the carryon bag the next morning, just their pajamas. The kids' pool was cute. There were three slides, which my son liked. The water in the pools there was very shallow; I think it was 1Â½ feet. There are a few seesaws in the area as well.
Crew -- We did a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet on the first day of the cruise. Many of the officers came to meet us and passed out their phone numbers in case we had any problems. There was a sign in sheet at the Meet & Greet, which they used to invite us all to a Bridge Tour on the last day at sea. We really enjoyed this, except the scheduled time of 9:00 am. We were greeted throughout the cruise by the officers we met and they really wanted to make sure that we were having a great cruise and was there anything they could do for us. The room steward went above and beyond expectations. We got a towel animal every night and the one night that we had the do not disturb sign up all night, he did the towel animal the next morning while we were at breakfast. Everyone was always happy to help.
Restaurants -- I really have no complaints about anything that I ate. We had breakfast and lunch in the buffet every day. I am not a buffet person, but have to admit the food was very good there. My husband was ready to kill me, because I would wait in line every morning for an omelet. This took a while, but you had to stand in the line anyway, because it was in the middle of the buffet line. Poor planning! My son got a waffle from the waffle station one morning, which was delicious. There is a kid's size table and buffet at the entrance, which my kids loved. There usually was not food at that buffet though. Only in the morning, they put cereal and yogurt there. We would also take the kids here for dinner every night before dropping them off at the kids' club and going to the sit down restaurants for our dinner. The craving station always had something good and most nights the meat there was better than in the other main dining rooms. We only ate dinner once at Versailles, which is your typical cruise ship main dining room. We ate 3 nights at Aqua, which is more like a restaurant you would find in any city. We never had to wait more than 15 minutes to be seated in the dining rooms and we usually went to eat around 7:30. We would go grab a drink and the buzzer would be going off as we were taking our first sips. As for the food in those restaurants, I highly recommend ordering the checked items on the menus. Those were always great. I usually do not eat fish, but loved the red snapper both nights it was on the menu. Desserts were not impressive and I did not even bother going to the chocolate buffet. We did not get a chance to eat in any of the specialty restaurants, but heard great things about Le Bistro and Moderno.
Bars -- This was one area that I found could use improvement. There were not many places on this ship to get a drink. The few bars they did have were always packed. I am not sure how the one bartender would keep up! The bar in the atrium was actually a coffee bar. You could sit at the tables there and the one server they had in the area would come take your order and then go to another bar to get the drinks. One night I sat there for 20 minutes without seeing any servers and ended up going to another bar to get a drink myself. The best bar was the Red Lion Pub and this seemed to be where everyone was at night. This is where they did Karaoke each night which was very popular. The servers in there were fun and very fast. This is also where the Atrium bar servers would come to get your drinks. We spent a lot of time during the day up at the Bier Garten bar. This was great, but outside. If it rained, which it did daily on this trip, you got wet. There is a canopy over the area, but with wind, you still got wet.
Entertainment -- We did not make it to many of the main productions shows. We went to the Elements Show on the last night and it was terrific! We also went to see part of the Second City show, but had to leave early to pick up the kids. From what I saw, it was okay. We went to one night time party by the pool. We were having fun dancing, until they cleared the dance area, so the ship's production dancers could perform. When the guests are having fun, do not interrupt. We left at that point. I was really disappointed that they did not do the Fountains show the last evening. This was our first NCL cruise that did not have it.
Disembarkation -- Since we were being picked up at the pier, we waited to get off until they pretty much forced us off around 10:30! We packed our bags the night before and left them outside the room. We put one bag out when it was full and then went to pack the next. When we put that one out, the first had already been taken. They were still right near each other in the terminal when we went to pick them up. We went quickly through customs (once again taken straight to the front of the line due to the strollers.) The workers at the terminal make it very difficult for personal vehicles to pick up passengers, but that's not NCL's fault.
Overall - We had a great time, despite the weather. Who can complain when they are on vacation??? Not me! Norwegian remains my favorite cruiseline. Less
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