Great ports, so-so ship, rude staff: Norwegian Star Cruise Review by dhbourke
Overall Member Rating
Great ports, so-so ship, rude staff
Destination: Baltic Sea
We've sailed with Royal Caribbean several times, so we are mostly comparing our experiences to those ships.
The best: Ports were great (Tallinn a surprising favorite) but DON'T pay for the cruise excursions. Ridiculously over-priced. They try to make you believe that you can't see St.Petersburg unless you take one of their excursions because of the required visa but the fact is that almost any tour group can get your visa as long as you book in advance. (We booked with Guide Guru and they were terrific.)
The "freestyle dining" is both good and bad. You can always get mediocre food at any time of the day. Our best experience was in Aqua, one of the free dining rooms, where the staff was so much better than the rest of the venues we wondered what was going on. Our More worst experience was at the French Bistro, where we ended up paying over $250 additional for terrible service (the waiter spilled our wine twice and we had to ask him to mop it up as it was dripping on us), horrible ambience (the waiters used a table right behind us to clear & scrape dishes with so much noise we couldn't carry on a conversation) and semi-edible food (we couldn't even eat the creme brulee because it tasted like they had left out the sugar & cream and simply put a glaze on eggs). The Market Cafe (buffet) was fine for breakfast or a quick lunch. Some people with children seemed to like it for dinners but the food was very mediocre and sometimes downright awful.
Cagney's Steakhouse was very good, but pricey. Ginza was good for Asian food and the sushi (extra cost) was very good. O'Sheehans is fine for drinks or bar food but everything else is fair to poor. Versailles was another bad experience for us. We waited 10 min to just get water while the waiters all stood around talking to one another. We finally asked someone who looked like he was in charge if he could get our waiter. 10 min later we were still waiting so when he walked by we asked him again and he acted very put out with us and said, "He's coming" very rudely. And the award for the very worst service goes to the Mojito Bar where we sat for 15 minutes while waiters walked past us. Finally went to the bar where the bartender (who had us in view the entire time) told us that the waiters did not wait on the tables there but only took drinks to people seated in the adjacent restaurant. We ordered Mojitos and they were the worst ever. Undrinkable. The soda was totally flat, and they seemed to have no syrup. When we took them back to the bar and very politely mentioned that the soda might be flat, the bartender said, "What do you want me to do about it?" We asked if she had more soda and she opened another can, made new drinks and then slapped them on the bar without any apology. They were the second worst mojitos ever.
The bottom line seems to be that the staff knows they aren't getting tips and they act somewhere between bored/exhausted and downright rude. (You get charged a $13.50 service fee/day that is then distributed.) Maybe the staff is overworked and it was the end of a long cruising season but most staff members (especially in the restaurants) have terrible attitudes. At the help desk, the staff mostly doesn't know the answer to simple questions (like what time you have to be back on the boat) or are downright rude.
Ironically, when we complained about the noise in our rooms (see below), the senior staff went out of their way to make sure we were satisfied. Less
Cabin review: IB11617/11607 Mid-Ship Inside
We booked late and got a good deal on 2 inside cabins. Compared to Royal Caribbean, these inside cabins were much better. Better layout, bathroom with adequate space to shower, etc. On a Baltic cruise you spend so much of your time out of your cabin that an inside cabin is fine. HOWEVER, both of these cabins were located under the buffet, where staff was working all night and the loud thumping and crashing of carts made it impossible to sleep. Trust me, I've slept in war zones and this was far worse. We complained and they finally changed us to 2 other cabins, one on the 4th level, which was quiet, the other on the same level but a balcony across the hall. The balcony room wasn't much quieter and frankly, the layout was better in the interior rooms, but by then we were so exhausted that we stayed. So the take away is, don't book a mid-ship room on deck 11, but don't waste money on a balcony room on this particular cruise because you're hardly there except to sleep.Read All Mid-Ship Inside (IB) Reviews >>