Norwegian Star Cruise Review by FePerk: Crew Shines Brightly on the Star - Great Trip!
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Crew Shines Brightly on the Star - Great Trip!
Summary: Everyone in my group of 6 adults was very happy with the cruise, and especially pleased by the efforts of ALL crew members to be friendly and appreciative of our business. Would I go on this same cruise again? Absolutely. Based on this experience, would I consider Norwegian again when making plans for another cruise? Absolutely.
Background: My wife and I have cruised 10+ times on Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. Our friends have cruised 3 and 2 times respectively. We are all in our mid-50s.
Be aware of my bias: I'm amazed by people who manage to find something to complain about. A situation can be 99% right and they'll focus on the 1% that's not perfect. I've done enough traveling to recognize there is no such thing as a perfect trip. Deal with it in a positive manner and move on.
How we decided on Norwegian: Our objective for this trip was an inexpensive winter escape. We compared the cost of a week in Mexico at an More all-inclusive resort (which is what we did last year) with Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, and Norwegian. The all-inclusive resort would have been around $3,500 for 2 people with airfare, and the cruise on Norwegian was about half the cost. So...expectations need to align with what you're paying. Don't expect a Mercedes experience when you're paying a Ford price.
Embarking the ship: Excellent. We arrived just before 2PM, and we breezed through the check-in process with no lines whatsoever - 10 minutes maximum end-to-end. We also made our reservations for Cagney's and Teppanyaki at the same time, and I'd highly recommend you do the same to avoid settling for less-than-primo dinner times once onboard.
Our room: We were in 11611 - Inside mid-ship on the 11th floor. In terms of location,it was very convenient. In terms of noise, it was poor. There is a service hallway either behind or above the room, and early every morning we were awakened by a heavy cart being rolled down the service hallway, which sounded like thunder. Comparing the room to what we've had on other cruise lines, it's slightly smaller - it's a tight fit. Otherwise the room was clean, the bathroom was good sized, and we had no issues.
Food: After reading the other reviews on Cruise Critic, I was a bit worried. We ate in Aqua, Versailles, the Market Buffet, Cagney's, and Teppanyaki. The food in Aqua and Versailles is virtually identical - the only difference is ambience. Aqua has a more intimate, modern vibe - smaller, lower ceilings, dimmer lighting; Versailles has a more classic, opulent vibe - high ceilings, lots of wood and glass. Both are very nice. I would describe the food in Aqua and Versailles as being decent. A few items caused me to say "awesome"; most items caused me to say "good"; nothing caused me to say "yuck". As other reviewers have said, the food in the Market Buffet is "something for everyone". If you've eaten in one cruise line's buffet, you've eaten in them all. Cagney's was worth the fee - good food, great service, and a nice setting. I would not go back to Teppanyaki - the food was OK to good, service was poor, and the ambience was OK. As far as eating in Aqua or Versailles, we had the shortest waits when we at before 7PM.
Entertainment: Better than average. Some shows were especially good, others were so-so. Overall, I give Norwegian higher marks than the other cruise lines for its entertainment.
Crew: Outstanding. As a whole, the crew went out of its way to look you in the eye, smile, and greet you. My group was very, very impressed with the crew members and the way we were treated. One couple had two issues: 1) their room keys didn't work on arrival at their room, and 2) their safe didn't work. Both issues were handled immediately and courteously.
Ship: Overall, I thought the ship was in excellent shape. This is where my prior comments come into play. Yes - if you look hard you will find some places in the carpet, on the stairs, that are threadbare due to the intense traffic they endure. But I also saw the crew laying new carpet, so they're trying to keep pace.
Fellow passengers: We estimated the average age onboard as being in the early 50's. There was a handful of children on board, but they were well behaved.
Roatan: Beautiful place. My wife and I took windsurfing lessons and had a great time. http://www.windsurfhonduras.com/ We were on Sandy Beach - gorgeous. Our friends went to the beach on the West End and had a great time as well.
Belize: Loved it - beautiful. Four of us went cave tubing and ziplining - wonderful. http://cavetubing.bz/ I highly recommend this outfit - they're the only group certified in water rescue, and we felt very safe with them. Ladies: if you're looking to buy a knock-off purse, this is the place to do it. They have the best selection, and you should be able to negotiate the price down from the $55 listed on the label to $35-40.
Costa Maya: Another great day. Four of us went on the Native Choice Chacchoben & Bacalar Lagoon tour - outstanding. http://www.thenativechoice.com/index.php Ivan, our guide, was simply fantastic, and we had the lagoon to ourselves.
Cozumel: We went shopping as soon as the ship was cleared from customs, and then went on the Cozumel Bar Hop tour. http://www.cozumelbarhop.com/ Terrific, relaxing way to see "the other side of the island" and the beautiful beaches there.
Disembarking: Smooth. Pick your departue time, pick up the corresponding colored luggage tags, and then wait for your color to be called. It took 20 minutes or so in line to get off the ship, but I thought everything went smoothly.
Lessons learned: 1) Try to eat before 7PM, when the wait is shortest. 2) Breakfast is served next to the pool as well as in the Market Buffet, and the lines are much shorter. 3) Enter the Stardust Theater on the left side - there are more open seats on that side. 4) For a pre-dinner drink, we found intimacy and great service in the bar outside Cagney's and the Spinnaker Lounge. 5) There are open chairs at the front of the ship on level 13 - the pool area is always packed.
Thanks for reading this long description. Hopefully you learned something that will help you with your planning. We had a great time on this cruise - I hope you do as well! Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Star 11611
11611 - Comparing this inside cabin to what we've had on Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Celebrity, it was definitely smaller. I would describe it as being on the verge of being too small. If you are an average size person, it's OK. If you are a large person, look for a larger cabin. I can't recommend this room due to the noise factor. There is a service hallway behind or above this cabin, and every morning, early, a heavy cart would be rolled down the service hallway, sounding like thunder, waking us up. I heard the same comment from our friends who were in the two adjacent cabins - 11613 and 11615. I was also surprised by the poor sound insulation between rooms - it's the first time I've been able to clearly make out conversation in the adjacent room without trying. If you take away the noise factor, the location of the room was excellent. That is, up one flight of stairs to the buffet and pool. Bottom line: I would not choose to stay in this room again.