Background: I wanted to take another Alaska cruise as I had done an Alaska cruise 10 years ago on Princess in Sept of 1997. This was my first time on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Taking Alaska cruises in May and September allows for better overall pricing of the cruise.
Embarkation: This was the most smooth embarkation that I've ever had on a cruise. We stopped at the Seattle Aquarium for a tour prior to the cruise since it is right by the pier. If you have time for the Seattle Aquarium, I recommend a visit before you board the cruise ship. This was the first cruise of the season, but the Norwegian employees did a great job of getting us on board the Star with no problem.
Activities: As on most cruises, there are activities all over the ship. Personally, I used the Barong Fitness center 3 or 4 times, and really liked the aerobic machines and the free weights. The view from the fitness center was beautiful. I utilized the outdoor basketball court a couple of times and shooting baskets on top of the ship was a lot of fun.
I visited the Star Club Casino a few times, but the cigarette smoke made it difficult to stay much more than a half hour per visit. It appeared to be a well run casino and the other passengers seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Our cruise got much further into the Sawyer Glacier than most others. I was probably outside looking at that glacier longer than anybody else. Remember to dress warm for your Alaska outdoor activities. Gloves are a real asset in May.
Entertainment: The entertainment in the Stardust Theatre was the best that I have ever seen. The Broadway and Vegas type shows were second to none. In fact, I went to see the same show twice on two out of the three nights. The Stardust Theatre is great and there were seats available. Previous history on Princess had situations where I could not even locate a seat in the theatre, and therefore I missed the show.
Dining: The dining was one of the areas that Norwegian Cruise line appears to be a bit weak. Most of my meals were in the Market Cafe, and the food selection did not offer much in the way of variety. I need to eat on somewhat of a schedule so I need to utilize the freestyle dining offered by Norwegian. I ate at Cagney's Steakhouse one evening and that was great. It provided me with a beautiful view of Sawyer Glacier and an excellent meal. I had room service bring me one meal(sandwich) which was not anything to brag about. However, I also had room service bring me milk and cookies on more than one occasion and that provided me an outstanding snack. I acknowledge that I should have tried to have a few meals in the Aqua or Versailles dining room, but that is too late now.
Shore Excursions: The White Pass Railroad was the highlight of the shore excursions. It was especially beautiful since this was the first cruise out and snow was all along the route. Skagway is my favorite port in Alaska. In Juneau, I took the Mount Roberts Tramway up to the top of Mount Roberts. I got some great photos of the ship from up there and toured the visitor center. There are trails up there, but the disadvantage of going in May is that there was far too much snow to hike in. Therefore, next time I go on this cruise, I'll have to go in September so that I can hike the trails on Mount Roberts. In Ketchikan, we did a wildlife tour, but did not see any wildlife and Port Rupert did not really offer anything for me. I had signed up for a grizzly bear tour, but I was informed this was not available before we left.
Stateroom: The Stateroom was an oceanview cabin. I spent a lot of time enjoying the view of the ocean from my room. It was too cold to have a balcony and I'm glad I did not select one in May. Part of the cruise experience is simply looking at the water. If you do not enjoy that, a cruise may not be your best selection of a vacation.
Disembarkation: This went very smooth and I have no complaints on how this was handled.
Summary: I enjoyed this cruise very much and will be cruising on NCL again in the future.