Norwegian Star Cruise Review by CaptainDMW: The STAR of the STAR
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The STAR of the STAR
My wife and I took the Star's repo (Vancouver to LA) that left Sept 20th. Given it was only a six day cruise, I'm not comfortable attempting a thorough review as one occurrence - good or bad - can get blown way out of proportion. However, I will provide some observations which I hope are helpful.
Embarkation - we boarded from Ballantyne Place in Vancouver - several miles away from the normal hustle + bustle of Canada Place. It was a breeze. We arrived a bit before 12:30 and were onboard by 1:00. GREAT!!
Layout - I've been on ships for two weeks and not found every spot. The Star layout was pretty simple - large pool area (although pool lovers might find the "tiered" chair aspect less "pool friendly" than the "beside the pool" approach). The main dining rooms (Versailles and Aqua) were easy to find. The "show" area (Stardust) had lots of seating but you might want to arrive early if you want a great seat.
Rooms - fine for a week long cruise. We had a bit More of a space issue because we were transferring to the Pearl for a 14 night cruise so likely had more luggage than most. However, that won't affect most cruisers on the Star.
Restaurants - the Blue Lagoon is GREAT - location, food + service (not the case on all NCL ships). We preferred the Agua to the Versailles for dining rooms (we didn't try any of the specialty restaurants). The Versailles - particularly at the back - can get quite noisy (and the servers will confirm that, it's not just me.) My one "bad" meal on the Star was at the Versailles and I'm convinced the server had a hard time hearing the orders. Some soundproofing techniques would help.
Shore Excursions - Victoria, Astoria and San Francisco. If you are at all active, downtown Victoria is a nice 20 minute stroll. If you prefer a private tour, there are harbour tours, whale watching and Gray Line bus tours available downtown (others as well). Astoria offers a $5 unlimited bus pass. We went all the way to Seaside, spent a couple of hours, then returned to the town and toured the Flagel House before bussing it back to the ship, In San Francisco, we walked to Fisherman's Wharf, took a cable car to Union Square, met the Victorian Walking Tour (www.victorianwalk.com) and then took a double decker bus over what they said was the Golden Gate Bridge (it was so foggy, it could have been anywhere). Great day!!
The Star of the Star - I have few complaints about any of the crew and one GREAT BIG compliment. To us, the Star of the Star was the Hotel Director, Rosita!! I've seen previous cruises where the staff seems to get along at Meet + Greets and receptions but, if you look closely, there seems to be a bit of underlying tension or turf. Not on the Star. The interactions between Rosita and the senior staff at the Cruise Critic M+G and Latitudes reception showed a solid team who liked and respected each other. Leadership begins at the top and to watch the management team interact with each other or see Rosita in action (whether it was explaining NCL policies to the Cruise Critic group during a question + answer session or on-stage during the goodbye show) showed an efficient, customer focused senior manager. The ship was well run and it showed to the passengers. If there were issues, they were well handled!
Shows - Here is where Cheryl and I part ways. Cheryl likes most of the shows that involve singing and dancing, regardless of how many times she's seen it. I don't. Given the number of repeat customers, I think NCL should offer "fresher" shows. Also, we heard from other passengers that Second City was "bad". Some left their "performance".
Disembarkation - We were leaving the Star in LA and heading several hundred feet away to board the NCL Pearl. We were in no hurry to get off as we had to collect our luggage, go through customs and check-in on the Pearl. It was a breeze. A helpful porter and a short walk and, in no time we were ready to begin the next part of our adventure.
Value - I haven't done a lot of research on the Star in terms of pricing but in looking at what we paid and what prices are available for some of the upcoming Mexican Riviera and Alaska cruises, I find it amazing that people expect absolute perfection in everything throughout a week long cruise. We were more than satisfied with our experiences on NCL Star and found almost all our interactions with managers and crew were good. The few things that weren't were minor and well handled. Thank you Rosita and NCL Star!!! Less
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