Norwegian Star Cruise Review by Dan Casey: Great trip
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We were on the May 24 Seattle roundtrip for Alaska. Overall it was a great experience. We were on Deck F which is the lowest deck, with portholes only. Stateroom was small but fine. Being an ex Navy guy, I was used to the small and tight quarters. If you organize things neatly and can live without spreading your stuff all around, you will do fine in these small staterooms.
Food was very good overall with a couple of exceptions. As a general rule, the best food was in the Aqua dining room, which is the smaller of the 2 main ones. The Versailles is very large and very noisy. Service was ok but slow at times. Breakfast was very slow. We ended up eating breakfast in the Market Cafe, which is buffet style, and very good. You can get whatever you might want there and no waiting since you serve yourself. The Endless Summer (tex mex) is impossible to get into even with reservations. So Ho Restaurant was good as was La Trattoria, the Italian place. The pricing scheme on the specialty More restaurants is very confusing to say the least. The "cover charge" varies from about $15 per person to $25 or $30. Then you just order off the menu. There is one catch to that. Some of the items on the menu carry an additional charge ranging from about $15 to $25 per person. For the most part, we thought the Aqua main dining room was a better deal and there was no additional cost to eat there. Drinks are expensive and I was especially surprised to find out it was $2 for a soft drink.
The entertainment overall was good except the magician was weak. He needs to hang onto his day job. The singing and dancing was very well done. All of the workers on the ship went out of their way to be helpful and responsive to us. The ship is very clean and modern. There is a continuous array of events going on to occupy you with. As mentioned on some other reviews, the hot tubs could have been a little warmer, but I guess they are afraid someone would get too hot in them. The biggest negative to us was the continual selling of money making activities for NCL, such as bingo cards, pull tabs, shore tours, etc. Before every theater event, they spent 30 minutes hounding you to buy bingo cards, pull tabs, etc. Make no doubt about it, NCL is in this deal to make lots of money and it gets old after a few days. Just be prepared.
The shore visits were all good and the weather was great. Warm and sunny every day except the final stop at Prince Rupert, where it was cool and cloudy, and had rained earlier. Probably the best weather you could have asked for. The stop in Juneau was rather short due to the afternoon trip to see the glacier. We appreciated the Captain coming on the intercom and saying the scheduled Tracy Arm and glacier was iced in per the report of another ship that had tried to get to it the day before. So instead he took us up the Endicott arm and glacier, which was spectacular. As the fjord got increasingly narrow, we continued up the arm almost all the way to the glacier before turning around. The stop in Ketchikan was very nice. The Skagway stop was a slight disappointment due to 4 other large ships in port besides ours. The town only has 800 people, so when about 10,000 tourists are there it overwhelms the place, to say the least. The White Pass train ride is very good and we recommend it. At Prince Rupert, we took a small boat out to see the bald eagles. This was an excellent trip. We saw probably 200 bald eagles up close as the boat crew throws raw meat into the water and the birds swoop down and get it. Strongly recommend this tour. Our take on Prince Rupert is that it is a fishing and railroad village and not a tourist town, which was a welcome relief. Not much to see there, but we did walk all around the town. Very few shops and what is there are close to the dock and the ship.
The disembarkation process was very confused and disorganized. It seems like nobody was in charge and no announcements were made, so everyone was milling around trying to figure out what was going on and when they could leave the ship. It was about 9:30 when we finally got ashore, and then only after we just got in the line and made our way off. Not sure how long it would have taken if we had followed the color code we had which was supposed to establish the priority of getting off the ship. Overall it was a great experience and we would do it again anytime. We really enjoyed the NCL Freestyle Cruising approach where you eat at any of a dozen places and whenever you want to, without having an assigned table and time. Less
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