This past week we finished up our first cruise on NCL and unfortunately the wow factor was not there. This was around our 12Th cruise over all and had mainly cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past. However, our daughter works for NCL and we wanted to visit her so we booked a cruise on the Norwegian Star out of Seattle, Washington.
When critiquing something you should always start and finish with something good, so I'll start off by saying that checking in was a breeze. We flew into Seattle the day before and stayed at the local Hampton Inn just a few blocks from Pier 66. We got to the terminal around 11:15 AM and there was no line to drop the luggage and when we walked in to check in, we were able to walk directly up to the counter to check in. Approximately 30 minutes later we had our first picture taken on the gang plank and were than talking to my daughter face to face for the first time in a few months. What a great start to another trip for us to Alaska.
However, that good feeling went away as soon as we ate for the first time in the Marketplace cafe. The marketplace cafe is their version of a buffet. The fist thing that came to mind was that we walked into a college cafeteria and all I'll say is that I've eaten better at college. There is nothing worse than eating bland food except for when the food is cold and unfortunately in the Marketplace Cafe the food was both bland and cold. If you want hot food and you have the time eat in the dining room. The food is still bland but at least its hot. We did spend the money to eat one meal in one of the specialty restaurants, which cost us an additional cover charge of $25.00 each. The food was excellent, but just unfortunate that you have to pay more money above the price of the cruise to get the good food. As far as the dining rooms, the only other complaint we had was that the dining rooms were not open long enough. For example, the Versailles and Aqua dining rooms were only open until 9:30 AM in the morning. Which meant if you want to sleep in on a sea day lets hope you want to eat cereal or pastries in the marketplace cafe. Or you can head to the Blue Lagoon to eat cause their open 24 hours and still serve hot food, however the seating is limited.
The other biggest complaint about the trip was that the overall condition of the ship is poor. There was carpet coming off of the risers on some steps, which were a safety hazard, the carpet was also bare on the steps in the Versailles restaurant. I would also recommend that you not book a room on the front of the ship from deck 9 or above. They are currently working on most of the front part of the ship on deck 12 and the hallways are filled with the smell of construction. Luckily the only thing we smelled from the state room was when we were on the balcony and our neighbors were smoking. Whatever strippers and equipment they are using can throw you into an asthma attack with all the different overwhelming smells. The other place of the ship to stay away from is near mid-ship to the back where the engines are due to the smell of oil.
We discussed throughout the trip what we liked the best and what we liked the least and the biggest complaint we all had was the disappointing food and the slow service in the dining rooms. I would have to say that being on the Star reminded us more like some of our trips to the sea shore. If you have ever been to a hotel at the seashore you'll know what I mean. Their always run down, you pay a fortune and the food is lackluster at best. NCL took what should have been a great vacation and turned it into a ho hum vacation.