NCL STAR DEC. 8-22 Panama Canal cruise
Handicap room 10968
Cons: Unfortunately smoking is allowed on balconies and outside port side(our next door neighbor smoked and we could always smell smoke on our balcony which was disgusting and because of this, will not cruise with NCL if smoking is allowed), room was dusty and windows dirty, bed configuration wrong, small balcony for handicap room, old furniture, décor, not much room for toiletries in bathroom, only 4 small drawers for clothes, no face soap, no hair conditioner, no hand/body lotion, only shower gel and shampoo in shower dispensers, public areas very cold so need sweater, room service menu very limited, bathroom lighting very dim, difficult to put on makeup, no comfortable chairs in room to sit and read. Since it was a December cruise, unfortunately someone decided to tape up hundreds of big paper Santa heads, gingerbread men, Christmas trees. They had some nice decorated Christmas trees all over the public areas, these juvenile paper decorations were totally tacky.
Pros: Went on this cruise to experience the Panama Canal crossing and it was exciting and wonderful. The entire staff from front desk to bartenders were excellent (except for our cabin steward) and seemed to enjoy their work, food very good, Versailles dining room beautiful, Blue Lagoon great for excellent breakfast or lunch, food court good selection but always crowded, outdoor grill excellent burgers, etc. Room had a big closet for a cruise ship, lots of shelves to put odds and ends, good shower, good a/c in room, beds OK with foam mattress topper and duvet, nice sheets, towels. Beach towels are provided in your cabin, main pool area had plenty of chaises, nice bar and adult hot tub above the pool area on 14th deck (many steps!)
Being unable to walk great distances, I discovered they will bring you a wheelchair when you debark for shore excursions as piers are very long….no one told me this but I mentioned it to Guest Services and they explained how it works. So be sure and use this amenity when needed (also for debarking at the end of the cruise).
In Cartagena and Puntarenas, simply explored on our own. Cab drivers hardly speak any English so brush up on a few Spanish phrases (how much, too much, thank you, etc)
Puerto Chiapas was a delightful port and the Mexicans loved entertaining the cruise ship passengers. They have colorful Mexican dancers greeting the ship as it docks, a huge building where there are dozens of gold, silver shops and other nice souvenirs, folk dancers performed in the middle of the building. No air conditioning so prepare to be hot however. Even in December every day was 85-90 and humid.
In Huatulco took the Pleasure Bay Cruise for $60. This pier was extremely long so had to order a wheelchair from Guest Services The port is lovely, many nice stores and the cruise was very very nice (it was a beautiful day also). If seas are high the cruise would have been pretty rough. They give you free water and Pepsi .
However, in Puerto Vallarta we took the City Sights Tour ($40)and it was awful! Description on NCL website was nothing like the actual tour. We were driven to an opal cutting store (to buy opals I guess) with no other stores in the area and then walked and walked to the bus where we were driven several miles through the mountain road beside the ocean. We arrived at a beachside area where we were supposed to receive a drink and they were totally unprepared for us, then back on the bus and driven to a gold shop for our “old town” shopping experience. No other stores around other than a tile shop. (However it had a nice bathroom which was definitely needed by then!) Do not take this tour! Many people wanted their money back.
Cabo San Lucas did not get off the ship at all.
Something to keep in mind when either taking ship tours or exploring on your own….bathrooms are very difficult to find. Buy only bottled water, did not try any local foods as we are not that adventurous so ate on board. Since we had a balcony cabin, we got food at the food court and brought it to our balcony to enjoy.
Many younger, healthier passengers took some wonderful ship excursions like zip lines, scuba diving, snorkeling, and had a wonderful time so be sure and check out these if you are up to it! If I were just 45 years younger, I’d have done it all! There were only a handful of children on this cruise but many many people on walkers, canes and wheelchairs!