Second cruise on the NCL Star....wonderful ship. Understand it had recently been renovated and it was "top-notch"! The best thing about the cruise was the cruise itself. we love the "days-at-sea"....lots to do on-board, and fun to prowl around the ship and "discover" stuff!. We now have numerous new "friends" from all around the US....friendships born on the cruise! This cruise was especially fun, because we cruised with three other couples from our hometown. So, we had a built in support group, folks to go ashore with and prowl the port cities. We generally jet right through the touristy retail malls, grab a cab, or otherwise walk into the towns to absorb the local flavor.....generally very safe. We had a ball!!
Ok....the bad stuff.....executing our hotel to ship transfer, day of departure was a disaster. Hundreds of people were waiting in the hotel lobby to get on the shuttle to the Star. Was raining....shuttle was very late....we finally gave up and got a cab. So, we essentially blew that portion of the transfer fee. Got to the port, and the trouble really started. Star as disembarking passengers into the same general area in which new passengers were trying to board. Space, and your patience do not allow me to properly describe the absolutely punishing delays we experienced trying to get our boarding credentials. Very few NCL officials on hand...even fewer who seemed to know what was going on. Lots of milling around, standing in lines, no signage......then the computer system broke down! And we waited....and waited....and waited. NCL finally got things somewhat organized, the computers fixed, and we finally got on board. We went down to meet our shuttle at the hotel at 1130 a.m.. One mile to the Star. We finally boarded at approximately 5 p.m. NCL acted like they had never operated a terminal operation before!
Cruise was pretty flawless mechanically.....until the hot water boiler went "out". No hot water for about 40 hours. No real explanation....none required, I guess....there was no hot water. They opened the bar one evening until 10 p.m. in order to compensate for the discomfort. My question is....how did that make things right for folks who don't drink! Of course, soft drinks are about as expensive on the ship as bar drinks from home. Anyway....finally got hot water going again! That shower felt soooooo good!!
Disembarkation was much better....got us off the ship in a very reasonable fashion. Retrieved our bags pretty quickly.....went through Customs with an acceptable wait of 10-15 minutes or so.....then, we encountered the dreaded "transfer monster"!! Again, no signage....no NCL reps.....got in one line, then another, then another....before an NCL rep seemed to know where to send us. IF she had not found us, it is very likely we would not found the shuttle location on our own. Then we waited for about 30 minutes for the shuttle to arrive. Jumped on the bus and headed to the hotel. Time from walking off the ship to getting to the hotel about 2 hours. An improvement over loading in....but, probably still too long. Bottom line....NCL's New Orleans terminal operation was just a disaster.....so unpleasant. Too many "senior citizens", waiting way too long in lines. NCL clearly was not prepared.
Trouble wasn't over yet......shuttle bus got to the hotel (The Sheraton).....and was too "tall" to pull into the auto lobby to unload passengers! I'm not making this up! Too "tall"!! Think they would have checked that out before arranging their "transfer program"!!! The driver put us out on Canal St....downtown New Orleans.....pulled our bags off the bus.....and forced us to haul all our stuff up the sidewalk, into the auto lobby, and into the hotel. My wife and I had three suitcases and two personal bags we had to wag into the hotel!! What a complete debacle!
So, to summarize.....getting on and off the ship would have challenged Jesus. Don't waste your money on the transfer packages....get a cab. Hot water broke down. But, once on the ship, that part of the cruise (and the ports) met our expectations. My wife and I are generally pretty tolerant....but, we're not quite sure we are going to give NCL our business for our next cruise. There was no evidence they were the least bit apologetic over their terminal operation. I guess one way to get their attention is to not give them our business. Hope this helps.