Up early at 3:30 AM to catch a cross country flight at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Drove to the airport and found a long term parking space with ease. The bus to take us to the terminal was pulling up as we brought our luggage to the bus stop. We had preprinted our boarding passes and the security lines were short at that early hour. Flight took off on time and the five hours passed quickly. With the three hour time difference we arrived in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM. Since we packed light with carry on luggage we didn't have to stop and wait for it to arrive at baggage claim. We proceeded outdoors and the Super Shuttle was there waiting. We encountered very little traffic on a Sunday morning in LA driving to the San Pedro port.
There were three ships in port that day and NCL had a tent for embarking. There were many, many people already at the port by the time we arrived. Things were very confusing with lines wrapped around the tent outdoors. Others were being dropped off and just pushing their way into the front of the line. We waited patiently and made friends with some of the others in line with us. Once inside the tent there was another line and eventually we were given a ticket with a number on it which would be called in order to board the Star. We came in on a lower floor not the atrium as normal on other sailings. Versailles restaurant opened at 12:30. We waited as everyone else went to the Market Cafe (buffet). Had a lovely lunch and by the time we were finished Ray Carr, the Cruise Director, announced that the rooms were ready for occupancy. We went up to our room and unpacked. At 3:30 PM we had the boat drill. (note, you no longer have to wear your life jackets).
Immediately afterwards we were meeting our roll call friends from Cruise Critic in the Bier Garden (13th floor) for sailaway. It was fun putting faces together with those that we had been corresponding with for some time. There was a huge barge parked next to our ship and it took some time for it to be moved out of our way so that we could sail out. The Star was a couple of hours late leaving port. Near as we could figure this barge was bringing on more supplies for the renovation on the 12th floor of the Star. By evening we were both tired. I was hungry for the fish and chips in the Blue Lagoon so that was our dinner spot. For dessert I had the cheesecake. Sadly, my favorite dessert, the brownie sundae was no longer on the menu. Our waiter, Franciso from India took very good care of us. Everything was served in a timely manner and was steaming hot.
There was a variety of folks on board, all different age groups. Some people had a few too many adult beverages and were very happy long into the night. That was the only night that we heard any noise in our cabin and it did not last all night.
Monday was our first sea day. We were up early (still on Eastern Daylight Savings time) and had coffee in our room. Had a lovely breakfast in Versailles, as we did every morning of our cruise. Made friends with our waitress, Raluca from Romania. She is going on the Epic on May 15th. Everyday we ended up at her table except the last morning. We wrote up S.T.Y.L.E. cards as Raluca was excellent and had a sweet personality.
Our first sea day was also our Meet and Greet with the ship's officers. We had everyone show up on our roll call except two folks. Meanwhile we added a couple at the last minute and also had a travel agent join us. I am not certain how she heard about the meeting but she had a lot to add as she had been on over 30 cruises. Our group asked lots of questions especially about the renovations that were going on.
We had another sea day on Tuesday. I would have liked to had more activities on the sea days. We went to Candance Lehr's Cruise Rewards presentation even though we knew all about how it works and have purchased them in the past. She also did an exclusive presentation on Friday, our last sea day on the new NCL Epic.
The ship had obviously had extensive work done while in dry dock during the winter. All of the carpeting on the ship looked brand new. There still is work going on. The Hotel Director told me that the new cabins that will be installed will not arrive until November as that was when the work was originally planned to be done. The library right now is just some shelves on Deck 9 next to the Internet Cafe, but that is temporary. I know many will miss the Spinnaker being up front with great viewing for Alaska on deck 12. The new Spinnaker lounge on Deck 7 aft is all one level, not a gradual incline. If you are at the back, viewing the stage is difficult-so go early and get a front row seat!
The shows that we attended were the Cirque and Chinese acrobats, Band on the Run and Bob Trunell's magic show. The last evening the staff gave their farewell's.
We had a nice, relaxing cruise. The last sea day was cool and windy but there was no rain for the cruise. Some folks with children were disappointed that they could not use the pool. We entertained ourselves with the dominoes that we brought along.
Disembarking was surprising as many folks chose to walk off with their luggage. We were in port before 7 AM. Getting security clearance took a while as drug sniffing dogs were on board and some folks left in handcuffs. We were able to immediately board our shuttle back to the airport and the airline gods were smiling on us as we were able to board an earlier flight back to North Carolina than we originally booked.