My parents, my younger sister and myself went on a one day cruise the previous September on the Norwegian Star and we wanted to experience something a little bit more than one day. We discovered that there was a relocation cruise from Los Angeles to our hometown in Vancouver for three nights and we decided to book it and combine it with a small Las Vegas trip as well. It turned out that my older sister and her husband liked the idea as well, and they joined us as well.
We flew from Vegas to Los Angeles on US Airways and got there around 11:00. We took a shuttle from the airport and arrived at the port around 11:45. Once there it took us about 40 minutes to check-in and board the ship. We had a slight delay at the metal detector. They were very sensitive to even the foil for cough drop packets and the little moist towelette packages.
Once we were on board, we were greeted by some of the crew and boarded with no real problems. I knew that since it was a short cruise, it would be a good idea to make a reservation at Cagney's right away. Once I got my bearings, I found the reservation desk with no problems and made reservations for the next day. It was a good thing too as we discovered that Cagney's was fully booked for the rest of the cruise.
They announced that our cabins were ready at about 1:30. We were located on deck 10 portside at the front of the ship. Our parents were a couple of football fields away on the back of the ship on deck 9 starboard. I really got my exercise running between the cabins. Our luggage was not in the cabin yet, but did arrive around 4:30, just after the muster drill.
Now for the how the cruise itself went
The room was adequate and we did not feel too cramped. As it was not freestyle 2.0 yet, we asked for foam covers for our beds. This made the beds more comfortable. It was nice having the balcony. Now I know why they say that once you have a balcony you can never go back. At times, it was too cold to be out there, but you just had to go out there to enjoy the views.
Food: We had dinner the first night at the Versailles and enjoyed the food that was served. The service was a little slow, but once the food arrived, it made up for it. We also had lunch the next day at the Versailles and breakfast the 3rd day of the cruise.
The dinner on our second night was at Cagney's and this was definitely the best meal we had on the cruise. Our entire family almost tried everything that was possible. I loved the Shrimp Cocktail as did the others who ordered. I had a T-bone steak for myself as the main and it was cooked to perfection and the peppercorn sauce made it even better. Both my sisters had the lobster and it took them some time to finish it. The service was excellent and attentive. We even made fun of the maitre'd when they brought out a new bucket of ice cream that was frozen solid and he was having trouble scooping it. The surcharge of $20 ($30 for the lobster dishes) really didn't bother us after. The dinner on our final night was done at Ginza. My sister won the dinner (which means no surcharge) at the casino the previous day and we decided to take advantage of it. Now being of Chinese descent, we may have been expecting a little more, but ended up a little disappointed, as we were hoping for a bit of that wow factor. It was average at best and we would probably avoid it next time. However, the people we saw in the Teppanyaki room appeared to be having a good time, so we might try there instead next time.
One thing that I have to mention is at lunch, we tried some of their buns for the burgers and hot dogs. My recommendation for those is to lose the buns as they were very dry and really didn't do the meat justice. Hopefully, they will do something about that in the future.
There is a main showroom on the ship and we caught a couple of the shows on board. The first night was a welcome aboard show that had all the different performers from around the ship. It was a nice show and the cruise director Ricky Matthews really tried to keep the energy up (even if some of his jokes were a little cheesy). The second night they had an Andrew Lloyd Webber show. I found it to be okay, but found that some of the singers in the Jean Ann Ryan company seemed to be out of sync with the rest. The last night was second city, but we missed that show. One thing that they did before every show was try to sell pulltabs (they do it at the bingo as well) with a chance to win $2,000. On the second night my older sister ended up winning the $2,000. She was extremely happy for the rest of that evening. We also saw a few of the lounge acts as well. The best of the bunch was Jana Seale. Her sound is wonderful and I even picked up a copy of her CD. She mentioned that she was going on vacation after the cruise for 6 weeks, so next time she is back, I would highly recommend catching her.
The prices of the drinks were probably on par for what you would pay at an average restaurant, but they do charge an auto-gratuity of 18% on the drinks, so be prepared for that when you order.
We went to the casino a few times and it was okay for it's size. I guess they want to retain a little of Vegas on their as it was filled with smokers quite often. The photographers made their presence felt at all the restaurants every night and on formal (optional) day, we had a family picture taken. My mom loved it and we ended buying it. They are a little pricey, but sometime you just have to pay for some memories.
Overall, except for a couple of small things, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. It has only made us want to try a longer cruise next time. We want to try the other cruise lines, but we definitely will try to fit another Norwegian Cruise in if it fits our plans.