Our first cruise, on Carnivals Tropical was to the Mexican Riviera in 1981. Some things change and some stay the same. Back then I got about 70 pesos for my greenbacks, now only about 12. That's a big change. Mexico was a beautiful country 29 years ago and I am happy to say it is still the same.
We live in Phoenix and took a 6 hour drive over to Long Beach, spent the night at the Holiday Inn. Got the room on Priceline for $65. Nice room, clean and friendly staff. They have a "Park & Cruise" deal, but will not take you to San Pedro. They are about ten miles from the San Pedro Cruise Port. In the morning we stopped by Denny's for their $2 breakfast special that ends up costing $10 for two. Didn't want to eat too much as we were looking forward to lunch aboard the Star. Drove over to the Star and dropped of our heavy luggage. We had made arrangements to park at a friends place just a short distance from the ship.
We walked in and declared two 1.5 liter bottles of wine and they put a stamp on each bottle. Said they would charge our on board account a $15 corkage fee for each. Check in was fast and then we were given a boarding group number and waited about 30 minutes before we were on the Star. Too early for lunch. Decided to check out our cabin, a BA balcony aft overlooking everywhere the ship had been. Cabin was exactly the same as we had on the NCL Spirit and there was a coffee pot, no frig. Met our Steward's (Roberto and Sebastian), nice boys that did a great job for us. They always greeted us by name and they were always willing to do a little extra to please.
The Star was in excellent shape and was spotless. If anyone got NV on this cruise we never heard about it. One of our Cruise Critic shipmates were enjoying their 33 sailing on the Star. They told us about changes that were underway to add staterooms where the Spinnaker Lounge was and move it to the back of the ship where the gift shops were. If they had not told us about the changes we would have never known any work was going on. Every crew member we met while walking about the ship greeted us with a hello or a smile. The ship is beautiful and NCL did a wonderful job making us feel at home again.
We ordered Room Service each morning and it was always delivered on time. They would call us as they were heading our way to make sure we were up. Also ordered pizza once. And once was enough. However, the pizza at the Market Cafe wasn't that bad. But the stuff from Room Service was the worst pizza I have had in 65 years. Breakfast can be had at the Market, The Grill (by the pool), main dinning room and the Blue Lagoon. We found the food at all the free restaurants to be very good and plenty of choices. We preferred Aqua for dinner and had lobster, prime rib, salmon and pork tenderloin. All very good. Service was great and seating was fast. We also had dinner at Endless Summer and paid $10 extra. Then to our favorite, Le Bistro for fillet and chocolate fondue. Add $20 each. Excellent food and service. Did not make reservations, just walked up and were taken to our table. Anyone that says they don't get enough, or the food is of poor quality or the service is bad, is just a damn fool. We have been on the Pearl, Spirit and now the Star and let me assure you we will be back.
Entertainment was good except for the dancers. It may be I was expecting "Dancing With the Stars", but these kids need a few more years of practice. Sorry, just thought they're a class D troupe.
Cabo is a tender port and is a pain to get off the ship. We did get off early and paid $4 to ride to Mama's Royal Cafe for the best breakfast in Mexico. Read about this on CC. The Stuffed French Toast and Lobster Benedict was as expected, the best ever when drinking Sol beer. Walked around and ran into CC friends, enjoyed the locals. Everyone was very nice and was surprised how clean the streets were.
Mazatlan. We did a self tour to Stone Island. Great sand, surf, and food. Went to Lefty's and our waiter Felix (a U.S. citizen) made sure we never ran out of Pacifico, chips and shrimp ceviche. Total cost from the ship, 40 pesos water taxi, food, drink 400 pesos & tip 100 pesos, ride back to Star 60 pesos, total $48 for two. This is a very easy self tour. Check it out on the CC Mexican Riviera board. You can rent ATV, Horses from Randi, surf and boogie boards and there are about five restaurants with shade and lounge chairs. Water was warm and clean, surf was fun, beach was spotless. Vendors were a pain, but that's to be expected in Mexico.
PV, took the local blue and white bus into town. Cost 13 pesos for two. Give the driver a dollar and enjoy the ride. Watch out for pick pockets. They tried me and a friend as we got on the bus and got nothing. Did a little shopping down by the river. They still charge to use the public restrooms and hand out a little t.p. for 10 pesos. In the afternoon we took our first ship's excursion, "Rhythms of the Night". $89 each and worth every penny. Look it up, there is just too much to tell. Boat ride, drinks, dinner, drinks, show, drinks, entertainment, drinks, boat ride.
Next two days were spent at sea heading north. The Pacific was smooth as glass most of the cruise. Weather was warm and no rain. So sad to know this wonderful cruise was about to end. Leaving the Star was a breeze, our bags were ready when we were and customs was the best we have ever experienced. Thank you San Pedro, your cruise port has its act together. We were on our way home before 10am.
NCL is a pleasure to cruise with. Sorry to hear you are leaving Southern-Cal. We will find you in another port and are looking forward to many more wonderful cruises with NCL. Freestyle is our style.