2,645 Norwegian Star Cruise Reviews

Our last NCL cruise has shown how they are cutting so much that there is just not much value left in cruising with NCL. The beverage package that most all passengers get for "Free" is not worth the price, we had to pay $605 ... Read More
Our last NCL cruise has shown how they are cutting so much that there is just not much value left in cruising with NCL. The beverage package that most all passengers get for "Free" is not worth the price, we had to pay $605 in service charges for the free package). They have 48 wines by the glass on the wine menu (bottles not allowed with the package) and 38 of them are over the limit for the the "free" package. Food in the main dinning room mostly good. Not great but edible. Reminds me of Denny's. The food in Le Bistro was cold. Not lukewarm, cold. Food in La Cucina was poor quality. Moderno food was good but would wait 15 minutes before anyone came around with more skewers. Cagney's is still good. Service in all restaurants was poor.It's not the servers fault, they just have servers handling too many tables with no help. All dinner services exceeded 2 hours. We skipped deserts most nights to go to the evening show. The evening shows ranged from very good entertainment to poor entertainment. The showroom is in deplorable condition with many of the seats broken. The seats would slant down as much as 60 degrees and were obviously broken but never repaired. The arm rest were broken and some had very sharp edges where the plastic was broke off. Our cabins was one of the suites that were put where the Spinmaker lounge use to be. The cabin was extremely cold even with the thermostat turned full high. Reported 10 times on the 14 day cruise that the cabin was not heating. We were at Cape Horn, It was only 40 degrees outside and the cabin not much warmer than that. Nothing was ever done to try and repair. Door locks would not work with key cards. Had to go to guest services 5 times and wait an average of 20 minutes each time. They kept blaming us for putting the cards near our phone, other cards, or our pockets. At day 10 and after 5 card replacements with the blame always on the customer, they replaced the door lock. Cards suddenly worked for the remainder of the cruise. Guest Service personal very rude and unhelpful. As a Platinum Plus Latitude members we got a voucher for a free meal at Cagney's or Le Bistro. Seems like a nice gesture as we have sailed with NCL 195 days. Get tot he restaurant to find out the "free" voucher is only good for entrees $25 and below. I asked the server what item on the menu was below $25, He looked and said "Umm, does not look like there are any." We walked out. So in other words, I paid for all my meals in the price of the cruise, they pretend to give a gesture of good will to a member of there reward program, but in reality it was to get me in the restaurant to spend more money. Another "Free at Sea" perk is $50 off shore excursions per cabin. All shore excursions are extremely expensive so that they can give you $50 back. They boost the price $100 and give you back $50. A walking tour which included a 5 minute bus ride followed by visiting a free museum, and park statues was $139 per person, but they give you $50 per cabin back! It is quite obvious NCL has cut to the bare minimum. If you are looking for poor service, over priced specialty restaurants, and broken shabby looking cruise ships, NCL will meet all your expectations. If you are looking for a quality vacation, I wold not recommend NCL Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We have travelled all the other continents and wanted to experience South America. This trip was very interesting and educational. The crew members made this very exciting and easy to cope on the high seas.Crew members from the dining ... Read More
We have travelled all the other continents and wanted to experience South America. This trip was very interesting and educational. The crew members made this very exciting and easy to cope on the high seas.Crew members from the dining areas and Aqua dining room made our stay a joyous one .Garnell Graham an Executive Sous Chef is an extraordinary person,he is one of my hero on this trip. He gave me a surprise birthday cake and recognition on March 4th. This was one of the sweetest thing someone has ever done for me.I will always remember this occasion. I am a picky eater and he always provide me with the necessary meal for dinner. God bless you always. Thanks My wife and I would also like to recognize Codrington,Oliver Robert and Scarlett Rodriquiz for their very attentive and kind attitude in steering us to choose the best menu for picky eaters.The matraD and the waitress would together to provide a suitable meal for us .These three crew members were our vacation heroes . Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The cruise had a wonderful itinerary. Norwegian offered excellent excursions. The passengers were interesting and came from USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, and South America. We made many new friends. The cabin was immaculate as was ... Read More
The cruise had a wonderful itinerary. Norwegian offered excellent excursions. The passengers were interesting and came from USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, and South America. We made many new friends. The cabin was immaculate as was the ship, and the staff was wonderful. We were scheduled to stay for the next cruise (booked back-to-back cruises) from Santiago to Cape Canaveral when all cruises were abruptly cancelled and we learned we needed to disembark the next day at the end of this cruise. Staff assisted us with free computers and free Internet so we could book a flight home. We paid $65 bus ticket to the airport-of course we did not want to leave....the ship was healthy and so were the ports we visited. We felt less safe leaving the ship...now we are home self quarantined in case the airports in Santiago or NYC and Boston, MA had any traces of coronavirus. We feel fortunate to have completed the 14 day cruise we took, and we will continue to cruise with NCL in the future when the world is healthy again! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I chose this Latin American cruise because I had a very memorable experience with Gate1 Discovery guided tour last year and I wanted to re-trace my path with my wife from Buenos Aires to Strait of Magellan in Chile, with extension to P. ... Read More
I chose this Latin American cruise because I had a very memorable experience with Gate1 Discovery guided tour last year and I wanted to re-trace my path with my wife from Buenos Aires to Strait of Magellan in Chile, with extension to P. Chacabuco, Puerto Montt and Santiago. With the other cruise ships I have luxuriated myself with Steam and Dry sauna free of charge. NCL Star on the other hand has Fee for its use. Exercise room on Deck 12 stinks with smell of cigarette smoke. I don't think I am not the only one who noticed this. The origin of this is from the Casino on Deck 6. This is a health hazard and the Captain should visit the area to find out what I am talking about. The Casino place is overwhelming with cigarette smoke and passing though it is subjecting the cruise passengers to 2nd hand smoking. The ship should redesign this in such a way that there should be a powerful smoke exhaust. Free dining restaurants i.e Aqua and Versailles have very limited selections of Menu. Seafood menu are very very limited. There is no Lobster night. I ordered a dish with shrimp and ONLY 5 pieces were on it. The scallops were tiny and there were only a dozen in it. Every seafood plates were kid's size. Try to order a crab cake and you'll see what I mean. At the Garden Cafe, there is no Salmon and capers during breakfast. This is available during breakfast at the Buffet at Princess and Royal Caribbean. Lobster claws are also offered at the Buffet during Lobster night. Try to have your photos taken and this is another money-making business. We ordered a package for $199 and only got 8 copies together with the folding album. At Royal Caribbean, you will take home all your photos at the end of the cruise for a few dollars more. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the friendship of the vey professional photographers - Theunis, Jacobus, Rebecca, Mr Honduras (sorry I forgot your name) and Mr Argentina (sorry, I also forgot your name)- the Portrait photographer. Beverage packages are exorbitantly high. Order a bottle of Corona beer and you'll end up with a bill of $8.50. I am very disappointed that there is no Coffee package like at Princess Cruises. We did not avail of the ship's sponsored excursions because they are incredibly expensive. Our group used vans outside the port and we saved several hundred dollars. Despite my negative feedback, We did enjoy the performances at the Stardust, from Music to Magic to the Trapeze. Ely Rose with her blue "Car-wash" outfit is funny, multi-talented and so lively, The lovely and shapely dancers captivated the audience with their endless energetic performances. Th macho dancers and the singers performed well. The Beatles brought us back to the memory lane. The Latin dance instructors were very helpful especially the basic Tango. Most of all, I was mesmerized by the guitar sounds of Duo Siqueira Lima. Theirs is a very unique love story and their DVD will always be part of my car's disc drive. Special mention to Mr. Balagot, the cabin crew who always attended to our needs. I met a lot of your crew members from the Philippines all over the place and I feel proud of myself that my "Kababayan" are pivotal to making our trip from Buenos Aires to Cabo de Hornos, to Strait of Magellan until our destination in Santiago, Chile another memorable journey. Perhaps we will meet them again at other Cruise Lines. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
South America on the Norwegian Star This trip was pretty fantastic! The smaller, older Norwegian ships are far preferable to the gigantic, crowded mega-ships, in my opinion! This is what we liked about our South American voyage on ... Read More
South America on the Norwegian Star This trip was pretty fantastic! The smaller, older Norwegian ships are far preferable to the gigantic, crowded mega-ships, in my opinion! This is what we liked about our South American voyage on the Star: (1) The ship was nicely quiet in most places. There was not annoying music playing in the hallways and public venues. (2) One lovely thing about the older ships is the window seats along the inside corridor on Deck 7. They were well used and seemed a good spot to spend some leisurely time. We also found plenty of other quiet sitting places throughout the ship. (3) Thanks for the USB ports by the beds! That made it so easy to charge phones. (4) I liked the Port Excursion talk and would have liked even more information about the locations we visited, such as the history of each port and some of the geography, etc. I'm not really interested in port shopping talks (which feel like advertising for specific places). (5) GREAT JOB on hiring the Manila Trio to perform in the Atrium. Every time I heard them I was so impressed by the lovely music they played. It was calm and soothing. (6) Thanks also for putting up the map of South America alongside the service desk in the hallway. Sure, one can look at the TV but it's so much easier to see the 'whole picture' when there is a large map to track the voyage. A TV picture is constantly shifting and does not have geographical details. I saw lots of people checking out the map. (7) We love the Captain's updates and information! Keep those coming. Our shore excursions in South America were incredible (for the most part). The difficult part of doing a shore excursion from a cruise ship is that one can venture only so far away from the port, because of the time involved in traveling farther away. Add to that the fact that sometimes in ports there were other cruise ships docking at the same time, and that’s a recipe for congestion at the most popular locations. We always select outings that have some element of walking or hiking, so that does reduce the numbers somewhat, but still almost everywhere we went there were crowds trying to see the same things we were. In Montevideo, Puerto Madryn, and Punta Arenas, we just walked the town – lots to see and some lovely coffee shops. The architecture in old town Montevideo is unique and charming. We absolutely loved our trek in the Falkland Islands! There were twelve of us in the group, with our two very knowledgeable guides, Eileen and Peter. The minivan dropped us off at shipwreck cove, and on our way around the peninsula, Eileen pointed out all the amazing (tiny) plants that make up the landscape. We also were lucky to see young penguins right in their burrows, and adults walking to and from the burrows and beach. It was an outstanding experience, about 3 ½ miles total, and I would recommend it to anyone. So much to see and absorb. In Ushuaia, we did a trek through the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Our group split into two smaller groups of about 20 people, and although we jostled with many other tours along the way, we did find some peaceful, beautiful spots with different kinds of wildlife, plants, and scenery. Again, our guide was so informative – she knew pretty much everything about the geology, geography, history, and biology of the area. In Punta Arenas we didn’t do an excursion, but just walked around the town. Unfortunately, it was another Sunday so we couldn’t find much open, but we did enjoy the sights and the town square, and the lookout from Cerro de la Cruz was beautiful. At Puerto Chacabuco, there isn’t a whole lot to see right in the very tiny town, so we took a quick tour of the area on the “Surroundings” bus tour. We had a bit of time to look around Puerto Aysen, and we got a lot of nice information from the guide about the sights in the area. Our Puerto Montt tour of lakes, Orsono Volcano, and Petrohue Falls was an all-day event, and the sights were absolutely spectacular. Again, we shared them with many other people, but that didn’t detract from the sheer amazingness of what we were seeing. Everything was breathtaking, and the people of Chile take such pride in their country. Our guide, Javier, descended from the Mapucha indigenous people, was a fount of information and a unique perspective on the history of Chile. Riding along on the bus, I was amazed to see bike lanes almost everywhere, and almost no litter on the roads (much less than at home). One of the coolest things we found in two ports (Stanley and Punta Arenas) was that close to the ship we could purchase postcards depicting local scenery, and stamps as well, and then mail them right there before reboarding the ship! I wish every port would do something like that. The ladies at the Stanley Post Office were some of the sweetest, most helpful people we met! The employees on board the ship do such a great job of taking care of everyone and being cheerful and friendly. One thing I noticed was that even when they were not interacting with guests, they were laughing and joking with each other. That shows real teamwork. There were so many wonderful people, and specific employees that we were grateful for included (1) First, at the embarkation desk in Buenos Aires, Daniela was just amazing - so friendly and helpful. Even though there was a lot of congestion and delay in the boarding process, due to factors probably not controllable by Norwegian, she was pleasant and made our check-in smooth. (2) Mr. Giovanni Villaruel, in the Versailles dining room, was outstanding. He was working so hard, and maintained a pleasant and helpful demeanor throughout our meal. (3) Mr. Parkash Parajuli in the Atrium Cafe was amazing. He remembered our coffee order every morning, and was unfailingly polite and friendly. We loved talking with him about Nepal. (4) Mr. Sizwe Satshu in the Garden Cafe was so sweet. He has the friendliest face and although he seemed shy, he was just adorable. (5) I enjoyed my massage by Ms. Reimichon Ronra, from Manipur. She was amazingly professional and capable. (6) Our server at Le Bistro, Ms. Donna Francial, was so lovely - accommodating and friendly. (7) Of course, our room steward, Mr. V. Raj, was in all ways outstanding! We felt his kind caring and lovely spirit in our all interactions, and enjoyed talking with him about life back home in India. (8) Last but by no means least, Mr. Francisco Bagasala, the executive sous chef. When we expressed our disappointment at the lack of vegetarian soup options, three times he brought us a special vegetarian soup prepared just for us in the Garden Cafe. He is a real treasure! And as with every adventure, there were things that we wished had been different. Oh, Norwegian, Norwegian, we thought you had our backs as far as vegetarian food was concerned, but on the Star we were only partly enthusiastic. There was a dearth of vegetarian choices in most restaurants. We went to the Teppanyaki for the meal that’s grilled right in front of you, and the chef did a good job of cooking our food before he started on the meat and seafood. It was very good, but not to die for. We also had a meal at Le Bistro, and (very surprisingly) the only vegetarian entrée was exactly the same as it has been at the Le Bistros on other Norwegian ships for the past five years. Mine was served slightly cold, and was in the end, disappointing. Dessert was good, though. And at the complimentary restaurants, they had the same pasta dishes as always (one fellow vegetarian that I met on the ship described it as, “If I eat any more fettucini Alfredo, I’m going to turn into a noodle”), and not very interesting daily alternatives. So mostly we ate at the buffet, which did have a pretty good selection. We love soup, and as noted above, they only had vegetarian soup twice on the whole voyage (other than the special ones Mr. Bagasala brought us). They did have Indian veggies and dal at lunches and dinners, not as tasty as what the Indian chefs on other ships had prepared, but we enjoyed it anyway. Also nice salads. But only rarely were there entrees that were designed for vegetarians. One curious thing about the buffet on the Star was the food labels. On other ships, we could count on the green labels signifying veg choices, and the brown indicating non-veg. This system was not followed at the Star buffet. Labeling was just whatever. We had to ask in almost every case. I splurged for a hot stone massage in the Spa this trip. I had not purchased the too-expensive spa pass. It was a great massage, but I was slightly miffed that having purchased this service, I was not allowed to use the sauna/relaxation room before or after the massage. Just get dressed and bye-bye. At every spa I have ever been to, a massage includes use of the facilities! This definitely needs to be remedied. The internet connection was slow, as it always is, and one has to be careful using minutes of a plan. For work, I had to connect in the Internet Café (didn’t bring a laptop), and was alarmed when I got a message that the “browser does not support” the work I was trying to do. The attendant said that it was a bare-bones system. Somehow I got it to work well enough, although slowly, to accomplish what I needed. So all in all, despite what could be improved, thanks to Norwegian and the crew of the Star, as well as all the great port personnel, who made our once-in-a-lifetime trip around Cape Horn memorable! Would I travel again on this ship? Yes, certainly. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Was excited for my first trip to South America and loved the itinerary! Visited some very remote areas and saw beautiful scenery. Especially loved the Glaciers, the penguins and the sea lions. Unfortunately, the experience on the ship ... Read More
Was excited for my first trip to South America and loved the itinerary! Visited some very remote areas and saw beautiful scenery. Especially loved the Glaciers, the penguins and the sea lions. Unfortunately, the experience on the ship was the disappointing part! It started with embarkation which was a disaster with long lines and frustrated guests. I’m platinum, which is supposed to afford me priority embarkation but all the way through, I was told to follow the crowd. No priority! Once on the ship, for the first 4 or 5 days, staff were serving guests at the garden café, rather than allow self-service at the buffet. I’m sure that this was to avoid possible contamination since the carona-virus is such an issue, and I appreciate their concern. However, the staff was doing a terrible job! They were obviously short staffed behind the counters and didn’t seem happy to be serving. It was extremely slow and often it was hard to find anyone to help! Of course, the cleanup staff was plentiful and several times I had to stop them from taking my plate and drinks while I was still eating! We also had 7 nights in the specialty dining and sometimes felt rushed there. I also received a voucher for a complimentary dinner for 2 at Cagney”s , and a friend who was using the dining package was allowed to order more courses that we were with the voucher which I thought was extremely tacky! We also booked all of our excursions through the ship and although expensive, most were good, although some of the guides were hard to understand. Also, tours were offered in Spanish or English, yet we often wound up with passengers in our group that spoke Spanish so the guides had to switch back and forth, making their speech more difficult to follow. Unfortunately, the Magdelena Penguin Reserve tour in Punta Arenas, which was $199 for 5 hours, was terrible!! We spent a total of 4 hours on a bus and a rickety old ferry, for 1 hour on the island with the penguins. During the 105 minutes each way on the ferry, there was nothing else to see. The lead guide talked for about 30 minutes then spent the remaining time in the navigation cabin on the ferry with the other 3 guides who were young college students. One of the girls stuck her head out and I tried to ask a few questions and she wasn’t able to answer much. I learned more about Punta Arenas on a later excursion at another port! After retuning to the ship I went to the shore excursion desk to complain and I was treated very rudely by the staff. I was told I would be given a “courtesy refund” but when I said my sister/roommate was also displeased, he said he would make out a report and get back to me. No response! So in the morning on the last day I returned and again was treated very poorly by another agent, and told it was still under review and they would call me with a decision at 8pm, after their desk was closed! I wrote a note to the general manager and finally received a call about 3:30pm that they were giving us a 20% discount. A little while later, my sister noticed on the NCL app that we were charged again for the excursion. So she went to the desk AGAIN was treated rudely also! He said we had received a credit for the first charge, which we did not see on the app. She asked for a copy of her bill so she could see the credit and he told her he did not do printing and rudely pointed to the finance desk which had a long line. Also, it turns out they only gave us an addition 10% since as status latitude members, we were already eligible for a 10% discount. I again wrote a note to the general manager and received no reply! I am currently a Platinum Latitudes member but feel that Norwegian has really gone down hill in the last year or so. The staff and the service are very poor!! Even management and Guest Services don't seem friendly or like they care if you have issues. I attribute this partly to the fact that tips are now prepaid, so the staff receives their money even if they don’t do a good job. While I have been leaning toward NCL over the last few years, I am becoming very unhappy with them and will have to start looking to start traveling other lines going forward. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Seeing Patagonia has been on my bucket llst for a while, and we had high expectations for this trip. We booked a year in advance, planned a week in Santiago before the cruise and a week after in Buenos Aires. In a word, everything was ... Read More
Seeing Patagonia has been on my bucket llst for a while, and we had high expectations for this trip. We booked a year in advance, planned a week in Santiago before the cruise and a week after in Buenos Aires. In a word, everything was AMAZING. This will be a long review wiih lots of recommendations. :-) We stayed at a lovely, family-run, small hotel in Santiago -- Hotel Mery. Highly recommended. The hotel provided a driver to pick us up at the airport. Juan Carlos was waiting for us at arrivals, and it was a pleasant ride to the hotel. He pointed out places of interest along the way. We did the Hop On/Hop Off bus, and I strongly recommend buying the two-day pass which gives you access to both routes and the funicular. We were lucky enough to be there for the opening night of the symphony, and we got to hear an amazing performance of Beethoven's Ninth. After a few days in the city, we wanted to get out into nature and hired Juan Carlos to drive us into the Andes on Thursday and to the port on Friday where we stayed overnight and boarded the Star on Saturday. He even stopped at an artisan village along the way -- Pomaire -- where we were able to buy some ceramics and have a typical lunch. Not much to do in San Antonio. We walked around the port and waited impatiently for the cruise. The Casino hotel was comfortable and convenient. Embarkation the next day was a breeze. We left the hotel at 11:30 and were in our cabin by 12:15! It helped being Latitudes Gold -- Platinum is better, but we still need nine more points. :-) Our cabin steward, I Made, was wonderful. We were in cabin 9712, portside eastbound. If you can afford it, definitely book port eastbound and starboard westbound to see the Chilean glaciers from the comfort of your balcony stateroom. We saw all the complaints about the Star posted by folks on a previous cruise. We had no mechanical problems and were fortunate with the weather. It's the luck of the draw with the weather. I'm not sure why people think the ship's captain can control the weather. The weather is unpredictable in this part of the world. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS Our first sea day, we had a Meet and Mingle, and it was great to meet other cruisers. The passengers on this cruise were a great international mix and lots of fun. We did a Viator Tour wtih GV Tours in Puerto Montt. I can't recommend them. There was no communication before the cruise/tour -- I had to call Chile and talk to them to confirm new times. The tour went to Osborno Volcano, Petrohue Falls, Frutillar, and Puerto Varas. Would have been cheaper and better to hire a taxi to go to the Falls and see the volcano. The two towns were just okay. I could have skipped. There were shopping areas, but we didn't really have enough time to shop. And lunch was an empanada eaten standing by the van with cups of wine and/or water. Forgettable In Puerto Chacabuco, we booked the nature walk with NCL. I had an independent tour booked but cancelled because the tour was supposed to be seven-and-a-half hours and we were only in port for six. The NCL tour was two hours late getting back to the ship, but because it was NCL, the ship waited. I was glad I changed booking and went with NCL. I'm sure the other trip was really shortened. Anyway, the NCL tour was nice. We never got to see wildlife -- even with the larger group being broken into groups of 20, wildlife was not going to sit still for 120 people walking through their habitat. Still, the flora and scenery was worth every step. The lunch and folkloric dancing was enjoyable. We wwre greeted with pisco sours, tables were set with salads and bottles of wine, soft drinks were available, and the meat was slowly roasting over hot coals. We didn't do any tours in Punta Arenas. It poured rain. We walked around town and found a cafe with wifi where we checked email and posted pictures. Sailing through the fjords and glaciers was awe-inspiring. We were lucky with weather -- Skies were clear, seas were relatively calm, In Ushuaia, I booked a small tour with Anan Turismo. Check out their Facebook page and/or email Giselle at ananturismo@gmail.com. It was awesome. They customized a tour for us to include short walks and lots of nature. Federico was waiting for us when we got off the ship, and we took off for Tierre del Fuego National Park. Federico loves the natural world and shared lots of information with us. There were four couples total, and half said it was their favorite port and best tour ever. In Stanley, we saw penguins from our balcony and swimming penguins from the tender. We took the $20 shuttle to Gypsy Cove and saw Magellan penguins and chicks. In Punta Tombo we took a tour arranged through shoreexcursions.com to see the penguins. It was 4-5 hours total in a mini-bus with about a dozen people and totally worth every single minute. There were thousands of Magellanic penguins, and we could walk among them. Again, we were very lucky because with a small tour, we were able to leave port quickly and were the second group at the penguin colony, so we had several hours to wander among the waddling cuties. No tours necessary in Montevideo -- we wanted around the old city and enjoyed the architecture and vibe. Disembarkation in Buenos Aires was well run and efficient. We found our luggage quickly and headed out to wait for our driver. We did the Hop On/Hop Off bus in Buenos Aires. While the bus is a good way to get around the city, the company really, really needs to invest in customer service training. THE SHIP The Star is the perfect size. We never had to wait in line for anything. The crew was absolutely exemplary. The food was good -- when the ship is feed more than 2,000 people, it's not going to prepare gourmet fare. But it was good. We ate at Le Bistro, Cagney's, Moderno, and La Cucina (part of our package) and in the Versailles Main Dining Room. We experienced no mechanical problems at all on this cruise. Smooth sailing all the way. We went to a couple shows -- the Pampas Devils -- which was informative and entertaining, and the Abbey Road Beatles tribute band -- which was great. We skipped the musician, the Vegas Revue, and the singer, but people seemed to like the shows. Moving seamlessly back and forth from English to Spanish to English, the cruise director Jeimy was good. Audience participation programs were fun. NCL did its usual pushing of things to buy, but it's easy to ignore the sales pitches and just enjoy your cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
14-Day South America From San Antonio (Eastbound): Flight from Miami to Santiago, Chile: At airline check-in, we were surprised with a $90 a bag fee and $54 seat fee. We used Norwegian to book our flights and there was a web site on our ... Read More
14-Day South America From San Antonio (Eastbound): Flight from Miami to Santiago, Chile: At airline check-in, we were surprised with a $90 a bag fee and $54 seat fee. We used Norwegian to book our flights and there was a web site on our reservation to check the baggage regulations. Our bags were under the weight and size limit. Clearly stated that for our first checked bag there was no charge. We were asked if we wanted to pay it. What else can you do? Thought we would take it up with Norwegian when we returned. We did and were informed that they make air arrangements as a convenient way of reaching the ship and are not responsible for seat assignments or baggage fees. I understand that but they sent us the link to find out about those things. Flight arrived around 5A.M. and we thought NCL would have a holding area while we waited for boarding to open but no, the bus took a “longer route to the port” and stopped at a store so we could souvenir shop. 1. Embarkment: Very disorganized. We are platinum status and were directed into a shorter line. However, we stood at the counter for 15 min while the staff checked on something. She came back and herded us to a roped off area saying one of our cabin cards had not printed. And the printing machine wasn’t working. Just wait there until it could be fixed. No sorry or coffee/water while we waited for a little over an hour. Be advised they will take your passport and return it at the end of the cruise. Years ago when I worked in Europe we were told to never, ever give up our passport but maybe this has changed. Even when we visited Russia we kept our passport. However, if you want to go on this cruise, you must give it up. 2. Cabin – Oceanview picture window. Good size with a big window and plenty of storage. Cabin steward didn’t clean up every day, i.e. left glasses and would forget to bring towels. 3. Public Rooms - All very nice and well kept. Bathroom always clean. 4. Bars – All great. Bartenders were wonderful. Efficient. 5. Dining - Main dining room dinners were good, not great. Open seating. The specialty dining rooms were reservations only. We ate at Cagneys and Moderno. Food and servers were great. The buffet was also very good. Crowded for breakfast. Tables cleared and cleaned quickly. 6. Excursions – We mostly did excursions offered by On Line Vacations. Cheaper but high quality. Long delays at several ports to get back on ship. Two ports embarkment was 45 min wait. 7. Entertainment – Norwegians singers and dancers were fantastic. And except for their “Beatles” tribute all the other nightly entertainment shows were good. The evening bands not as good. Karaoke was better. Used Sleep In Hotel's Park Sleep Fly package. Shuttles on time to airport. Returning, the shuttle came withing 20 min for p/u back to hotel and vehicle. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We saw this trip and figured it would round out what we wanted to see in South American. There was some concern as the messages on CC said there was a possible problem with the ship's engines on the previous voyage (reverse of this ... Read More
We saw this trip and figured it would round out what we wanted to see in South American. There was some concern as the messages on CC said there was a possible problem with the ship's engines on the previous voyage (reverse of this one). Not sure of the real story but we had no problem and ship ran fine. Overall the cruise was enjoyable except for the problem with our cabin (see below) and with eating and public spaces.. NCL reconfigured the Star to increase the number of cabins by taking out the forward Spinnaker Lounge which had a great view. Most of the other public spaces had no windows so the only way to enjoy the scenery was either outside on good weather day or to sit in the Garden Cafe buffet. They also converted the La Cucina restaurant that sat next to the Garden cafe into a teen's area. So when meal times come you could sit on the outside decks in good weather day which at the bottom of South America were spotty or in the Cafe. Of course many people would camp out in the cafe as the only place for viewing the landscape which was part of the itinerary (glaciers, fjords, etc.). Basically it was near impossible to find tables. Had to walk around for several minutes with food in your hands. People were eating on stairways or anyplace else they could find. With La Cucina gone as an overflow, it was a mess. Whoever redesigned the ship needs to get another job. We ate dinners in the restaurants or O'Sheehan's and avoided the seating problems and order the complementary breakfast in our cabin. Overall we would never book on the Star. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We picked the NCL Star as my wife and I have sailed on 4 other NCL ships with good experiences. The main reason for sailing was the excellent itinerary. We generally found the Star to be poorly laid out with little or no ... Read More
We picked the NCL Star as my wife and I have sailed on 4 other NCL ships with good experiences. The main reason for sailing was the excellent itinerary. We generally found the Star to be poorly laid out with little or no "quiet" space where you could sit of and relax. There is no observation lounge as this was apparently removed to be replaced with more cabins. GETTING ON AND OFF Embarkation, tendering, and disembarkation were poorly run with long waits and general disorganisation throughout. The ship's tender process in the Falklands was especially frustrating. We waited for the open tendering (i.e. no tickets) and could not get ashore until 1pm which severely limited our options for the day. For the remaining tender ports I got up early to ensure that we could get on one of the first tenders ashore. I would recommend going to the tender ticket point (Bliss lounge) at least 45 minutes before they start distributing tickets. Believe it or not you will not be first in line but will definitely get your tender tickets! FOOD We found the food and food service on the Star to be below the level of other NCL ships that we have sailed on. The Versailles restaurant was disorganized from the entry process through the dining process. At lunch they have 2 menus that alternate through the cruise. We felt that the choice, quality and service was poor (with the occasional exception) with disinterested staff and half set tables.Because of the bad experience in Versailles at breakfast and lunch we opted not to eat there for dinner. We had a better experience in the Aqua restaurant for dinner. The buffet was okay but the food was generally lukewarm. ENERTAINMENT Not a massive choice due to the size of the ship. The theatre shows that we went to were enjoyable apart from the Beatles tribute act (complete with Brazilian accents). The ships entertainment team were engaging and fun. Even they struggled for space with some of their activities taking place in the corridor! TOURS We did one ship tour in Ushuaia. This was the wildlife catamaran and national park tour. We saw some nice views and a limited amount of wildlife. Probably not worth the money but to fair we generally expect that to be the case on most ships. We did private tours in some of the other ports. In Puerto Madryn we opted for El Pedral which we booked directly with the owners for US120 each . This was the highlight of our cruise! There were 8 of us on a 15 seater minibus. On the way to El Pedral the driver stopped periodically when he saw wildlife. We were lucky enough to see Guanaco's, Capybara's, Armadillo's, Rhea's and more. When we got to El Pedral we feasted on an amazing BBQ of fresh lamb, sausage, various salads and wine or beer (or soft drinks). Once fed we then went to see the Magellanic penguins! Wow!!! They were everywhere! We walked on the path through the nesting/breeding grounds and down to the beach. We were literally walking amongst penguins. What an experience. We then went to see seals and sealions at a different place.The drive back had a little drama when a warning light came on the control panel. The driver stopped a few times to put water in the engine. We were reassured by the guide that even if the van did break down there were two NCL tours with spare seats that had to follow us back to the ship. As it happened we got back safely with plenty of time to spare. This whole tour was professionally managed from booking (We even didn't have to pay until we got on the bus) to the excellent guide and sights. The ship tour to this venue is more than twice as costly (as with NCL's other excursions through the cruise). Overall we had a fantastic vacation but feel that this was despite the ship and not because of it. We will probably sail with NCL again if the itinerary is right. But not on the star! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We had a very good time and our ship had no engine or delay problems . The seas were very calm on our sailing & when we rounded Cape Horn it was like a lake with good visibility. The Captain said that is unusual for weather/seas in ... Read More
We had a very good time and our ship had no engine or delay problems . The seas were very calm on our sailing & when we rounded Cape Horn it was like a lake with good visibility. The Captain said that is unusual for weather/seas in that area. Weather was very chilly for most of the trip except in Buenos Aires and really hot (90s) in Santiago. Make sure you bring a sweatshirt/jacket with hood and a hat and a scarf. Also bring a zip up vest so you can layer. Honestly it was quite chilly and windy in a lot of places. We did an excursion every day except one. I recommend the excursion to Lagoon Bluff and the one in Ususahia where you take the train thru the countryside. Very scenic and informative. I know many feel the NCL excursions are costly BUT in Puerto Madryn on our NON-NCL tour we had engine problems with the van returning to port and in that area there is NO cell phone service so the driver kept pouring water into the engine and we made it but it was pretty stressful. If your cruise ends in San Antonio you are 2 hrs from Santiago airport so we booked the NCL transfer that takes 8 hours and gets you to the airport by 5-5:30. It was one of our best excursios with stops at a winery, several scenic areas, a local crafts village and lunch with a fantastic show in Santiago. If you have a flight out of Santiago after 9PM it works perfectly to fill the day. We were not that impressed with Buenos Aires but Hilton for stay the night before departure was very nice. The shows on the ship were really good and varied. Ship food was fine but we are not picky eaters. Since the weather is too cool to be out on deck the buffet area is nonstop packed. If 2 are eating at table for 4 feel free to ask to sit there. Everyone says it is ok. Also a good quiet place to eat breakfast/lunch is Sheehans on Deck 8. We enjoyed the specialty restaurants esp La Bistro but main dining room food is fine. MAKE THOSE SPECIALY DINING RESERVATIONS BEFORE BOARDING as they are very much in demand. If you enjoy games they had some great games almost every day in Bliss Lounge that you can join in or just watch. Also I joined a couple dance classes in there which were lots of fun. Don't buy Argentine pesos as no banks in US or currency exchanges will take them or sell them for that matter because they are so unstable. . Credit card/US cash works fine. We saw over 400 penguins at Lagoon Bluff, Stanley Islands and at El Pedro lounge in Puerto Madryrn. Ships dance troupe are really awesome. We had a very nice time; I would say bringing the right clothes is most important. Only negative is it was the worst boarding process but I think that is more the logistics of the port than NCL's fault. Tendering the lst day was also pretty bad; not sure why. If you have a tour booked with NCL many of those go off the ship first. Finally, pull your bill every couple days. As Platinum we are supposed to get 10% off excursions and they did not apply it so we had to go to the excursion desk to get it done. Also on one port the $50 promo did not come off. Annoying but they quickly resolved it but if you wait until the end of the cruise the bill pulling lines are really long. Overall very nice trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Norwegian Star Review. We have cruised with Princess, RC, Carnival, and Celebrity. This was our first cruise with NCL. We were very impressed with this cruise line. This cruise was from Dec 21, 2019 in San Antonio to Jan 4, 2020 in ... Read More
Norwegian Star Review. We have cruised with Princess, RC, Carnival, and Celebrity. This was our first cruise with NCL. We were very impressed with this cruise line. This cruise was from Dec 21, 2019 in San Antonio to Jan 4, 2020 in Buenos Aires. Embarking The embarking and debarking process are very slow. You make line after line. The terminals are in cargo piers and have to take a shuttle bus from the terminal to the ship. Dining Food at the Buffet was well stocked and organized. Food did not stand for long and they were restocking as needed. The staff was always cleaning and checking the tables at the buffet. Be advised that in this particular itinerary, especially on sea days, many passengers choose to use the buffet as lounge, going for breakfast, staying over for Wi-Fi, reading, playing cards, and go on for lunch and dinner. This makes difficult finding a place to eat at the buffet. O ’Sheehan’s gets packed during the day, many guests lounge there after dining, you may want to go early for lunch. Soft Serve Ice Cream at the buffet may be better. It melts too fast! Service at the Main Dining Room was quick and good. Best times for the MDR are before 7:00 PM. The Oriental Restaurant fills up very fast and has a 45min-1 hour wait time. If you want to dine right away, be there at 5:30 PM sharp. After that, you make the waiting list. If you do not want to make lines for dinner, the Buffet prepared themed dinners nightly with very good menu choices. Itinerary This itinerary has a comfortable pace. It allows you to rest a day before the next port. Due to the ongoing engine trouble, the ship was traveling first at 19 knots, then at 13. Our cruise shortened some port times to leave early and arrive late. The glacier scenic cruising was outstanding. The best glacier views are in the north side. Strong winds and high waves made us miss circling Cape Horn. Engine trouble delayed leaving the Falkland Islands nine hours late. The call at Puerto Madryn was canceled and it became another sea day. We only got the port fees reimbursed. Tendering is a pain. If you are not in a ship tour, or are Priority Tender, you have to run to the Bliss Lounge to get a ticket for an early tender wait in your cabin for your tender number to be called. Then walk a downstairs line to the tender. In some ports, the tender trip takes 30 minutes. Holiday Events The Christmas worship service was very good. Crewmembers organized, performed, directed, and also attended alongside the guests. One crewmember led the songs and also preached the Word as good as an ordained minister. There were Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve celebrations in various ship venues. For safety reasons, they did not shoot fireworks. When we arrived, the ship was fully decorated for the holidays and everything was removed before we disembarked. There were special menus for both Christmas and New Year holidays. Theater The shows at the theater were very good. You have to get in early to get a good seat. Even though there is a no-seat-saving policy, many guests disregarded it and saved seats for their parties. Shore Tours The San Antonio Port is two hours away from Santiago. The best way to get to and from San Antonio is to take a tour that takes you to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso in the way there. We mostly used shore tours advertised with Trip Advisor. They were better priced, have smaller groups and offered more personalized service than the ship-sponsored tours. They stick to the ship’s schedule and ensure you’re back on time. The only two ship-sponsored tours we took were at Port Chacabuco and the Iguazu Falls tour upon debarking. Climate Even though is summertime in South America, please plan for layering. Santiago, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires have summer weather. Ushaia, Punta Arenas, and The Falklands have winter weather. The other ports have Fall to Winter weather. Many guests were buying coats and sweaters on ship to bear the cold temperatures outside. Final Our experience with this NCL cruise was outstanding. We loved the “Freestyle Cruising” when you can wear anything anywhere, saving valuable suitcase space. We noticed passengers from all over the world, and from all age groups. Overall service by everyone was outstanding. We will certainly consider NCL as a future cruise option. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Pros: Itinerary (prior to the changes) Best haircut on a ship Decent food Excellent special bar activities (Martini Tasting, Margarita Tasting, Black Glass Wine Tasting) Good cabin stewardess Decent bathroom/shower ... Read More
Pros: Itinerary (prior to the changes) Best haircut on a ship Decent food Excellent special bar activities (Martini Tasting, Margarita Tasting, Black Glass Wine Tasting) Good cabin stewardess Decent bathroom/shower Tango/Gaucho show was excellent Smaller portion sizes so less food waste Cons: Inconsistent handling of tenders (poor to very poor) Inconsistent service in the Versailles (did not appear to have assigned staff to our table for 10 - had up to 5 attendants per meal) Missed ports/Cape Horn for unclear reasons Limited wine options on the Beverage plan (when the ships own label beats most offerings, that says a lot) Short stays in ports Slow embarkation process Poor staff to cruiser ratios Same restaurant lunch menu each day This was our 25th cruise - and 3rd (and last) with NCL. We picked this itinerary over a year ago and it was a true bucket list trip. There were 10 of us (5 cabins). However, with short port stays, a missed port, and missed Cape Horn, it was disappointing. The ship has been having issues, and really should be fixed before continuing on cruises, as the itinerary was changing up until departure due to the engine issues. With limited staff, service was overall poor - however, we had excellent service in Gatsby's bar, where the staff was knowledgeable and excellent. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The worst cruise ever!!. This was our 4th cruise, 1st and last with Norwegian. Most services were poor/terrible. Very expensive compare with the poor service given in return. Cabin small, toilet smaller than an airplane toilet and ... Read More
The worst cruise ever!!. This was our 4th cruise, 1st and last with Norwegian. Most services were poor/terrible. Very expensive compare with the poor service given in return. Cabin small, toilet smaller than an airplane toilet and smelly, smell like sewerage Food: tasteless, nil variety menu, unless you pay for the expensive options Internet: extremely expensive compare to other cruises Tendering: a disaster exercise Ports: the Capitan decided to skip some ports without apologies/ explanations Ports: time to spent in ports very limited due to cruise ship disorganization Customer service: terrible, and I do not care attitude Long queues for everything even at freezing port cities, a total disorganization Value for money: nil, very poor service and expensive bills. The only positive thing was the cruise director motivation, housekeeping staff and some waiters/ restaurant staff. We do not recommend this cruise ship to anyone, there are very options services out there!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This is my 2nd NCL cruise and I would say they did a good job generally but I might have had a better experience with a smaller ship on maybe an Oceania ship. NCL gets you there and sells you the excursions - at inflated prices- for you to ... Read More
This is my 2nd NCL cruise and I would say they did a good job generally but I might have had a better experience with a smaller ship on maybe an Oceania ship. NCL gets you there and sells you the excursions - at inflated prices- for you to get the feel of the country. Oceania gets you closer to a city port, avoiding tendering, gives you a substantive lecture pre-arrival so you have some feel for the country before you land, and have more than just panoramic blah tours available. You want to know about the cruise stop, don't ask the excursions team they know what's in the book and no more the basics are on a board in front of guess services and that's it. Even when passing the glaciers in the Beagle Channel it took about half -hour for Jeymi our cruise director to get on the spekaer and provide some detail behind what we were viewing. I got much more taking HAL in Alaska and taking Oceania exiting Venice and coming into Lisbon. The food was fine but basic and lukewarm. I went to Versailles 1x and refused to go again because the food and service were below par for me. Aqua service was much better but again the food meh. On a South American cruise you practically toast a piece of Chilean Sea Bass and put it on a plate as an entree???? Glad I had the Specialty Dining as a perk because I would have been pissed if I had to pay for most of those meals. Skip Moderno and do Cagney's, Le Bistro was also pretty good food but poor service. Cuchina ... any self respecting restaurant in Little Italy would shut this joker down! The Entertainment was overall quite good. The House performances were much better than expected and the gaucho/tango performance was very well done. The pricing for excursions was egregious and I would recommend that anyone doing the Falklands look at the Falklands visitors website and find a local purveyor and save your money to go to the same locations. They don't do tendering well. On the Falklands they were 2hrs late because it takes 20 minutes to get to shore and all excursions take 90+ minutes to get to their locations, Hey NCL- cough up some extra port fees and reassess the time frame needed for this stop. And I get that the Cape Horn portion may not have been feasible due to weather but why exactly did Puerto Madryn get cut?? O yes technical difficulty. The Star has had technical difficulty since it left Europe. Not cool NCL. All in all I enjoyed my vacay, but it had the possibility of being so much better. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
ITINERARY: We chose the tour because of the route: Chile to Argentina through the Chilean Fjords, glaciers, Cape Horn, the Argentinian Patagonia, etc. The cost is quite high and we also decided to get a balcony cabin to take advantage ... Read More
ITINERARY: We chose the tour because of the route: Chile to Argentina through the Chilean Fjords, glaciers, Cape Horn, the Argentinian Patagonia, etc. The cost is quite high and we also decided to get a balcony cabin to take advantage of the nice landscapes the itinerary promised. Unfortunately we did not get to visit two items on the agenda. We were told the waves were too high on Cape Horn so it was skipped. Shame, because the weather had been great all the previous days. The most disappointing issue is that we were stuck at the Falkland Islands for 9 hours because there was a technical problem with the ship! So the visit Puerto Madryn, Argentina was cancelled. Not only did they decide to cancel one of the best stops of the cruise (UNESCO world heritage site). We had to navigate for 3 days on the South Atlantic with no stops and nothing to see. The days were excruciating. The ship is too small and offers very limited activities. In a nutshell: the itinerary is interesting but the company failed to comply with the offer. Furthermore, it's quite worrying that the ships provided are not in optimal sailing conditions. This is a big compromise not only to our safety but to customer’s satisfaction. RESTAURANTS: The Specialty restaurants are quite good. We visited them all. The service at the Specialty restaurants depends on the waiter/tress. Regarding the included restaurants, the Garden buffet was what you can expect from a bad buffet: regular food and extremely crowded. It was common not to be able to find a table to sit. The tables were dirty and more than once, the forks and knives were folded dirty on the napkin. The Irish Pub was the worst: terrible food, however, drinks are good. Watch out for the service as they tend to overcharge (there was an incident involving several customers where we got charged for expensive drinks – apparently by the same waiter/bartender – and had to wait long lines to get rid of the charges). The Asian restaurants was among the best options you could find. The menu is very limited, but the quality of the food is good. The best options are the General Dining Rooms (Aqua and Versailles). The service is not the best as they are quite large (especially Versailles) but the quality of the food is better than the other available options. ACTIVITIES: We had the intention to visit the Pool and Hot tubs, however, we did not manage to go. Everything was extremely crowded. On sunny days, you could barely see an empty spot on the pool because of the amount of children in it. And the hot tubs were usually full with people having drinks. We made the decision to avoid such crowded places as we were already doubting the hygiene of the place. For the same reason, we did not visit the Topsiders bar by the pool. The bar on the highest deck was actually quite nice as it had the best view available. The downside of it was that all drinks were served in plastic cups and they would never re-use the same glass. It’s a shame to generate that much waste! It’s five o clock somewhere Bar was extremely popular and had poor quality drinks. We entered only once and had water. The Bliss lounge was constantly filled with people and had mostly animation activities done by the same person with a very high-pitched voice who was always talking on the Boat’s speakers and appeared on all shows at the theatre. We ended up spending time at the Gatsby bar: the music was nicer than elsewhere, and the service and drink selection were good. The casino was as good as you can expect from a Casino. There was a library as well – did not visit. There was very crowded gym (did not check on all schedules, just in the morning). An improvised art exhibit on one of the corridors (expect tons of paper delivered to your cabin telling you to go bid). There was a duty-free store with some general items like chips, sea sickness pills and chocolates – unfortunately they did not have any cold medication. We went to see several shows. We were unfortunately tricked into attending the Christmas Extravaganza show which was a complete waste of time. There was a Cuban lady who did a very nice show singing several Latin-American songs: she had a nice voice and a good band (the Cruise’s band), however, half of her show was singing and the rest was talking and making the audience talk along. The Paradis (“French”) show as a bunch of unrelated choreographies with different scenarios. The Vegas show was a compilation of imitations of singers – entertaining. There was a bunch of Tango dancers who gave a moderately good show (it’s way better in Buenos Aires). In a nutshell, for a crowd like us, the activities were quite poor. The most difficult thing was having so much time on your hands (especially after the Ship broke down and the itinerary was modified to make us navigate for so long!) and a very limited number of things to do. SERVICE: In general the service is ok. There are some remarkable people around the boat who go above and beyond to offer good service. The housekeeping man was great and a couple of bartenders at the Gatsby bar are quite good. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We took NCLs excursions on all ports. We chose what we preferred and not the most expensive ones. For a couple, we ended up spending about USD$1,000 for all excursions (this does not include the one at the cancelled port, which was not charged). VERY IMPORTANT: It’s important to calculate at least 14.99 / day + 20% gratuity for 6 liters of water. Even though there are available drinks and water (on plastic glasses) at the bars, it is not possible to have drinking water at your cabin unless you pay for it. Moreover, many people caught terrible colds. We were a group of 4 and we all got very sick. You could see and hear people coughing all the time. Upon disembarkation I saw more than one person carrying a box of tissues. After the cruise, my husband ended up spending several days in bed, with high fever, because of the cold. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Thankfully the NCL Star didn't break down until we reached the Falkland Islands(cruise day 11), but who wants to plan their 1 cruise to South America on a ship that is mechanically this unreliable? One year ago when I saw this cruise ... Read More
Thankfully the NCL Star didn't break down until we reached the Falkland Islands(cruise day 11), but who wants to plan their 1 cruise to South America on a ship that is mechanically this unreliable? One year ago when I saw this cruise choice my only hesitation was the ship, not the cruise line, as my family had cruised on the Star previously in 2014. Knowing that the ship died in the Tasman Sea in 2015, and that there have been further problems since, I was trying to be optimistic knowing the ship had been refurbished in 2018. I mistakenly presumed this update included the engine compartment. While our 7 hour engine delay caused us to now miss Puerto Madryn, we knew from our own research around Thanksgiving that there had been a significant engine explosion on the ship while in Europe around November 1st, and that the ship was limping along ever since. I then discovered that our trip insurance didn't cover engine explosions as a reason to cancel the trip I had been so diligently planning for 1 year. Reading the reviews on Cruise Critic helped fill in the information gaps NCL failed to provide. NCL's response to those unfortunate passengers confirmed their pattern of inadequacy to us, their customers. What has happened to the NCL that made us want to return to the point where we are presently Latitude Gold status? I have spent over 200 days on cruise ships, from Princess to Royal Caribbean, Disney to NCL, so we obviously love what they offer. That said, I am not condemning the Star itself here. No, the ship has been nicely redone as a result of its update in 2018. Specifically, we like the updated lobby, pool area and dining rooms, and the fact that they kept the large bathrooms in our ocean view cabins. One of the best redo's I've seen. Clearly, the Star has plenty to offer. I actually like the ship itself now, unlike in 2014, which just confirms that even my opinion can be changed. Also, the staff and crew worked very hard and were eager to help. But lurking in the back of the mind are the reliability questions- are we going to make the destinations? Is it going to break down in the middle of the Atlantic? Are we going to miss my prized stop because of the ship? Are we going to miss our non refundable flights home because of a problem? All of these are legitimate concerns one shouldn't have especially before our cruise even begins. While we always know there are other factors that can affect the schedule, we don't want the major issue up front to be the reliability of the ship, and worse, another corporate failure confirming that NCL isn't putting the passenger first when such an event happens, which is exactly what we have witnessed with this recent history. Let me be very clear- this is not an instance where we missed a port because of high winds, lightning, bad weather or local strikes, as these obviously are things beyond NCL's control. No, these delays and missed ports occurred because of ongoing mechanical problems with their ship, and these were and are completely within the control of NCL management. For the record, before the Falkland breakdown, I did purchase 2 future cruise credits during this trip. Yes, I was being hopeful. Obviously NCL must fix their problems- first mechanically with the Star and second, in their treatment of passengers who experienced the explosion, as well as those who missed ports because of continuing mechanical problems with the Star. Both of these, unlike the weather, were well under the control of NCL, which is why they should accept full responsibility for them. I have never taken the time to pen my cruise review before I even got off the ship, but feel compelled to do so to keep my fellow cruise enthusiasts informed in their decision making. NCL should guarantee their scheduled cruise stops won't be missed based upon a mechanical malfunction with the Star, and when they do miss one, refund that value to their customers. Additionally, to more accurately reflect the current status of the Star, the future ship disclosures should include the terms "Mechanically Unreliable", "Hoping to stop at the following ports...", "Not sure if we're gonna get there but we're trying", and price their product accordingly so consumers can make an informed decision before their Star cruise purchase. I am not sure I want to give my cruise dollars to a line that is unable to own up to significant ship problems that can so greatly affect my family's cruise experience. We feel fortunate that our breakdown occurred late in our cruise schedule, but you may not be so fortunate. At this point I am happy to know that our next 2 cruises are in Europe this summer on RCCL. Good thing the future cruise credits are good for 4 years, but I am optimistic that NCL will give us reason to return well before then. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We did the back to back Norwegian cruise, leaving Miami and ending in Buenos Aires. The restaurant, cabin and cruise director staff was AMAZING. The on and off cruise systems were horrible. Causing hours and hours of waiting in line ... Read More
We did the back to back Norwegian cruise, leaving Miami and ending in Buenos Aires. The restaurant, cabin and cruise director staff was AMAZING. The on and off cruise systems were horrible. Causing hours and hours of waiting in line on ship, and being out money. ADMINISTRATION WAS A NIGHTMARE. Things I wish I knew as a cruiser. * Keep all receipts and if any concern email vs. wait in line. I had over 8 hours of lines... I recouped the money I paid for things like excursions, bad restaurant bills &spa. Net/Net - they don't care about your money and their systems don't connect. I did have all the receipts, but still had to wait line after line after line... just to 'prove' I prepaid or was misbilled. * Have a plan b for Norwegian air and transfers. Although I booked my husband and daughter's air and transfers through Norwegian, Norwegian lost all records for transfers and airline. The American airlines flight was delayed by 5 hours, so they missed their flight. My nineteen year hold daughter was stranded in Chile airport.I am out over $1k due to this. Multiple emails. * Remember the minute you embark on the ship, the systems you used before you onboarded do not connect to the ship. I had to get the General Manager on the ship involved, so my husband and son could board. I'll cruise again, but I will budget additional money for all the snafus. I thought with travel insurance and booking everything through Norwegian, I would be covered. They just sent me a very negative email saying "I received chocolate strawberries and pepsi", and here is $100 credit for another cruise. I thought this is incredibly rude given what myself and many others dealt with. Beyond the over $1k,, we missed missing 2 attractions, my family being delayed by 3 days and me spending 8 hours in line after after line. For my travel insurance I submitted all of my receipts... and now they are saying I have to "prove" the flight was delayed... even though I already sent that information. It is sad to me that their administrative issues clouds the really fun workers that work on the ship. The cruise director, restaurant and cabin staff were exceptional. I am a seasoned travel and was taken aback by the apathy, system issues and outright regard for my families safety and budget. Hope this helps for someone that is cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
-Confusing ship with not all elevators to all decks. -Salad area of buffet limited selection. -Changed ports a few weeks prior to departure but not all guests notified. -Entertainment and music were good. -Internet cafe ... Read More
-Confusing ship with not all elevators to all decks. -Salad area of buffet limited selection. -Changed ports a few weeks prior to departure but not all guests notified. -Entertainment and music were good. -Internet cafe wide open on a balcony over a noisy area. Last evening tried to checkin for flight home but could not get online. No one available to help. -embarkation was slow for no discernible reason. -Gym classes and instructors good and reasonably priced with a one time charge. -Deck 5 forward was quiet. -not happy with port changed. -Took taxis rather than tours. -this was my second time on an NCL ship. Probably will not cruise with NCL again unless the price and itinerary are exceptional. -had several enjoyable meals in dining room where food was better but did not always want to spend time there and miss a show or other live entertainment. -happy with staff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Seems like Embarkation was our initial warning. We literally stood in line for registration in the Miami Cruise Terminal for over 2 hours. The lack of concern for the passengers became the theme of our cruise. Our first two ports, which ... Read More
Seems like Embarkation was our initial warning. We literally stood in line for registration in the Miami Cruise Terminal for over 2 hours. The lack of concern for the passengers became the theme of our cruise. Our first two ports, which were in Columbia, were canceled before the ship even sailed. How many passengers had booked this cruise for the Colombian ports? Based on the grumbling we overheard, a lot. This was very disappointing. The food offered in the buffet and the two main dining rooms was mediocre, at best. The only excellent meal we had on board was at the very expensive steak restaurant, which cost us $150. Our cabin had not been cleaned well before we boarded: lots of greasy hand prints on closet and cupboard doors. The back of the cabin door looked like it had not been cleaned for many cruises - don’t the stewards ever look there? We found fingernail clippings on our cabin’s sofa upon our arrival. Really! Our steward did make an effort after we brought these matters to his attention, but should we really have to tell the staff how to clean? Our cabin was comfortable for the two of us, it was a mini-suite with balcony. It would have been so much more comfortable if we’d have had more sturdy chairs on the balcony with a table conducive for drinks or meals. We just had a tiny little side-table that barely had room for two drinks, let alone a plate or book or anything else. There was plenty of entertainment on board; we enjoyed the musical shows a lot. But that stinky Casino! Why make such a big deal about where people can smoke on the ship and then leave the doors to the casino open to stink the whole ship up with cigarette smoke? That smell was the first thing to greet us each day when we stepped out of our cabin. The staff is very well organized when it comes to ports and shore excursions. The ship’s excursions are pretty expensive, but well run. I would have appreciated a bottle of water on some of them. Is that too much to ask? The lecturers who gave presentations were very lacking in depth and breadth of their knowledge of the topics. Their presentations for the most part were shallow. Would we go again? Not on Norwegian, I’m afraid. There were just too many additional charges for every little thing: with no do-it-yourself laundry facilities, the charges for wash and fold were pretty high; Spa prices are high as expected, but the services were not really special - I get a much nicer pedicure at home for less money. My 14-day gel nails only made it a week. Again, the Spa services were not as special as their prices would suggest. The final straw was the lack of dark chocolate desserts - not even a dark chocolate bar could be found in the ship’s stores! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The cruise was great although the ports left a lot to be desired. I don’t understand why ncl would pick ports such as these. I loved the ship, but the ports were run down and not near anything. I took a bus into one of the towns, as soon ... Read More
The cruise was great although the ports left a lot to be desired. I don’t understand why ncl would pick ports such as these. I loved the ship, but the ports were run down and not near anything. I took a bus into one of the towns, as soon as I got off the bus I was told by 3 local policemen it was not safe to walk around the area alone. So why would the ship bring us to such a dangerous place ?? All in all South America has left a bad impression on me. We took an excursion to a rain forest and saw many make-shift homes made out of pieces of trees and cardboard , bananas and 1 sloth. Nothing else. As soon as the sloth was spotted, we headed back towards the ship, and the gift shop. The food in the main dining room and buffet on the ship was 1 step above prison food, unless you bought the dining package. The service was excellent. The entertainment suburb. Lots of onboard activities such trivia and husband and wife not so newlywed game, they were lots of fun. My cabin was great close to everything, and lots of storage. The ships singers and dancers were fabulous. All in all the best part of the cruise , except for the food , was the ship was the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I chose this cruise for us to get closer to Easter Island where we were planning to visit but Norwegian Star Cruise Line was not an enjoyable cruise for us this time...and I thought it could have been nice as the other one I had. Most ... Read More
I chose this cruise for us to get closer to Easter Island where we were planning to visit but Norwegian Star Cruise Line was not an enjoyable cruise for us this time...and I thought it could have been nice as the other one I had. Most crew or officers don't greet cruisers but only a handful of waiters and Bliss Ultra Lounge blonde bartender; food quality were average, fruits were not ripped, simple meals, never had lobster included in our 15 days cruise; we had specialty dining and it was just average; everyday/every night clang noise which we informed customer service...the head of housekeeping came and that's it...; he reported it and later when we asked, he didn't have an answer. Almost at the end of the cruise, we asked again and he still didn't have an answer but offer us a specialty dining or changing our cabin. We declined. We never knew what was causing that annoying noise. Beside of the above issues, the worst, first time we encounter a rude stateroom steward and lousy one. I've pictures of how he made the beds.... Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Embarkation in Miami NCL must FIX THIS. It is not wise to begin a cruise with chaos, inefficiency and overcrowding. NCL has the opportunity to create a positive first impression ONCE; and on this cruise, it failed. I later learned that ... Read More
Embarkation in Miami NCL must FIX THIS. It is not wise to begin a cruise with chaos, inefficiency and overcrowding. NCL has the opportunity to create a positive first impression ONCE; and on this cruise, it failed. I later learned that the delay was caused by an unannounced ship inspection which NCL STAR passed with ease. An explanation of the unavoidable delays should have been communicated to all passengers as soon as possible (e.g., in the newsletter) so that those unfamiliar with NCL would know that NCL check in is usually efficient. By not communicating it to passengers, NCL missed an opportunity to reduce passenger displeasure with NCL even before boarding the ship. Even as a PLATINUM level NCL Cruiser, our check in took one and a half hours. It was the slowest and most inefficient check in I have ever experienced. Even the photograph taken at check in did not process which required that we line up again at customer service desk to re-take the photo. NCL security would not allow anyone to disembark without a photo registered. Dining People go on cruises to EAT and my experience with the food on the NCL Star is hit & miss; mostly a miss. Some dishes were good, others were less so. Here are more examples re my disappointment with dining in the NCL Star: the scallops were minuscule and overly salted; the pork loin seemed overcooked which made it unnecessarily tough, the sliced sirloin was so tough it was inedible, the french toast, scrambled eggs and cinnamon buns and every fish dish I tried (except for the salmon poached in broth) were overcooked, i.e. dry. Maybe others had better luck, The sliced fruit (cantaloupe, strawberries and honeydew) were NEVER ripe. This made the fruit hard and not flavorful. This was especially true for the morning fruit plate that could be ordered for breakfast room service. I stopped eating fruit. BUFFET Overall, the food at the Garden Buffet is below average with dishes reappearing in other forms on consecutive days and a very monotonous breakfast selection. For example, if one day you had a pork roast, the following day you may likely see sliced breaded & fried pork steaks with some overcooked sauce. Unlike on prior NCL ships where you could find a daily roast (e.g. turkey, pig, prime rib, roast beef) the NCL Star often just offered roasted chicken. Bottom line: there is plenty to eat in the complimentary restaurants; it’s just that the food preparation and presentation is below average. Maybe the NCL STAR needs a new more creative chef or a higher food budget. Not once did we see roast turkey, prime rib or sucking pig. I usually only go to the buffet for breakfast for an omelette. I’ll also admit I enjoy passing by the buffet late in the evening for a light snack. The fresh cookies that used to appear on every other NCL ship are GONE. The cookies now served seem to be made from a frozen dough roll and are not edible. There is also no real ice cream station. The soft serve ice cream machine is not good. I was also disappointed with the juices offered in that they are overly sweet and not good. Even their coffee is just OK. THE BEST COFFEE is what you can make in your room if you can get a coffee machine. Most of the cakes offered at the Buffet that I tried lacked moisture and flavor, and were not as aesthetically pleasing as on prior NCL cruises. A cake must be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, moist and flavorful; never dry. I often stopped after the first bite because the cakes failed. On the positive side: I often did not finish one entire piece of cake. The bottom line is that it’s not about serving lobster or fillet mignon; it’s about doing right what is served. The most edible daily cake was the pound cake that was consistently fresh and moist. COMPLIMENTARY RESTAURANTS The complimentary Versailles & Aqua restaurants provide a sit down served meal in a relaxed, elegant, yet casual environment with table cloths, a menu, and waiter service. You can even have dinner wearing nice shorts and sandals at Aqua. I go on cruises to relax and even having to dress up for dinner is sometimes stressful; so at Versailles & Aqua you can dress down and still have a wonderful unhurried served meal where you order from a varied menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Loved them both, but especially Versailles with its high ceilings. Aqua, on the other hand, tends to be a bit too loud for my taste because of its low ceiling. The larger more formal Versailles does not permit men to wear shorts at dinnertime. I was also able to dine at Cagney’s Steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaría (Brazilian steakhouse), Le Bistro and La Cuccina. All specialty restaurants are SIGNIFICANTLY better than the offerings at the Versailles or Aqua. There is a fee to dine in these specialty restaurants but it is the onky way to ensure you enjoy an excellent meal. It is disappointing to say that in this NCL ship, my favorite dish were the fajitas served at the 24 hour O’sheehans Pub. In all 16 days, the best meals were at the specialty restaurants. I do not remember one memorable meal at either the complimentary Aqua or Versailles restaurants. As a Platinum NCL cruiser, this is the first ship where I have uniformly been disappointed with the complimentary restaurants as well as the buffet. Not sure if it is just a substandard head chef or an attempt to cut costs. The dinner at Moderno includes unlimited served steak, chicken, lamb, pork, lamb chops and chorizo as well as a salad bar with hearts of palm, marinated grilled peppers, cold shrimp, cheeses, in addition to the usual salad bar fare. If you have a special event to celebrate Moderno could be a more exclusive quieter space with good quality meats. Even vegetarians would enjoy Moderno because of the salad bar. The Brazilian cheese rolls at Moderno are soft flavorful and delicious. Service Service is where the NCL STAR excels. The service throughout the NCL STAR is simply put: Excellent; period. I would attribute that to a committed hardworking well-trained young staff. I was extremely impressed with the commitment of the mostly young and foreign staff throughout the ship, from housekeeping to food service. Housekeeping staff was uniformly excellent. Whatever you need, they try to accommodate you. For example, I always like having iced water; my rook steward brought me a small ice bucket and made certain it was regularly refilled. Towels were fluffy, thick and absorbent, the bed was always beautifully made and the stateroom was kept impeccably clean and tidy. The restaurant staff was equally excellent: they were professional, efficient, attentive, respectful and always had a welcoming smile. Now, if the chef and food preparers could be reminded of what makes for a good cinnamon bun, soft scrambled eggs, moist French toast, tender and juicy pork or beef roast, tender ribs, edible scallops and what should be a very basic baked fish dish, I would have rated the food on the NCL Star as excellent; however, it wasn’t. Remember NCL, it’s not about seeing lobster or prime rib: just do well what you do well and passengers will reward with excellent evaluations and praise. The heroes of every cruise, are the cabin attendants that ensure your cabin is kept clean, tidy, stocked, functional and smelling nice. Even if you included the service charge when you paid for your cruise, tip them a little extra before you disembark. They should never be taken for granted and should be rewarded for having to work with those cleaning chemicals all day. Enrichment Activities Enrichment activities need to be reworked and improved, especially in the longer cruises with more sea days and with an older passenger composition. I have suggested that NCL add real enrichment opportunities more appropriate for older frequent cruisers who may not be as enthusiastic about drinking games, sexy man contest, newlywed game, etc. For example, I’d like to use my time onboard to learn how to learn how to cook new dishes, how to bake the perfect cookies or rolls or create a travel blog, something that would be of benefit to NCL itself. Imagine if NCL CRUISERS wrote excellent blogs about their NCL experience. Being able to use one’s time to learn something useful would be well received. Other cruise lines are already providing computer and cooking lessons for cruisers; NCL should too. Learning to play bridge is OK but improving one’s computer or specialty cooking skills is undeniably more desirable and better use of our time, especially for older passengers who want to improve tech skills or learn how to prepare dishes from some of the ports visited. The cake decorating session was more of a fun comedy exercise than a serious baking or cake decorating learning session. For the longer cruises, lectures about the recent history or current political realities of each country visited would add so much to the overall experience. The lecturer on this ship was more of an entertainer than a serious lecturer. His talks seemed to be aimed at middle school children that needed to be entertained. Am sure there are even some cruisers who would be willing to host talks and share their own knowledge of each port. The content of the lectures offered on this cruise were substandard and never covered the current political and economic situation in the countries visited or any discussion of their history and culture. Entertainment Enjoyed most shows. The production shows with the ship’s singers and dancers were consistently the best. The comedian was OK but a couple of young Ukrainians who did some aerial maneuvers was repetitive, amateurish and embarrassingly bad. The magician was extremely funny and performed basic but entertaining tricks. The music throughout the ship was varied and uniformly good. Everyone could find enjoyable live music. The music by the pool and in other public spaces was significantly more mellow and less loud than what one would hear on 7-day Caribbean cruises with a younger passenger composition that may prefer blaring music by Pitbull, Cardi B, rappers and top 40 artists. Fitness & Recreation The Spa Thermal Suite on the NCL STAR is not as large and impressive as the thermal suite on the larger ships. On this trip, I found the $159 price charge for the 16 day cruise VERY reasonable. In my opinion, it is worth the added expense just to have a quiet less crowded child-free area to relax in. My only observation is that the chairs in each of the relaxing areas should be replaced with cushioned lounges. The staff in the Spa should also ensure that the area is kept clean, dry and tidy. A number of times I saw plates & glass cups brought from the buffet uncollected for hours. I also never saw the Spa maintenance remove sitting water from the areas around the lap or thermal pools or the jacuzzi or from the area outside the men’s sauna, steam room & cold plunge pool. Those area were consistently wet and dangerously slippery. The iced water containers in the Spa were often empty; they should be regularly refilled. The Spa treatments offered are expensive and superficial; avoid them. Even with a $75 coupon, the facial I tried was significantly below average compared to any facial you would have at home. It was mostly pizzaz but hardly any real cleaning and definitely no extractions. For example, although I intentionally pointed out one blackhead by the nose before beginning the facial, that one blackhead was still there when the treatment ended despite mentioning it twice during the actual treatment. It was a nice face massage with a number of ointments applied, pretty background music, nice smells, but not a real professional facial cleaning. At the end of the treatment, although a 20% tip is already included on your bill, the nice young lady who just did your face massage will hand you the bill with an open space for an ADDITIONAL TIP. Beware: a 20% “service charge” already added to your bill included, IS the tip; remind her. This is how I felt at the end of the very expensive Spa treatment: I felt like one feels after one goes on one of those time-share tours. The difference, however, is that in addition to being subjected to pressure to purchase products you don’t need and to give a tip in excess of 20%, you are paying a price that is significantly higher than what you pay at home. Avoid the temptation to sign up for any Spa treatment. Beware. Shore Excursions The NCL excursions are expensive, impersonal and just too large. On this cruise, I identified tour operators through Trip Advisor reviews and searching sites such as Viator. I then contacted a number of tour operators at each port and proposed an itinerary combining the highlights of some of the excursions available through NCL, Trip Advisor or Viator. I requested a proposal from each tour operator for a group from a Cruise Critic, at a significantly reduced price, of course. Whomever hasn’t joined Cruise Critic, should. It’s a great way to learn of lower priced and more comprehensive excursions for 20-30 cruisers organized by members themselves. I was able to design an excursion at each port and filled every space with little effort; the excursions were comprehensive and cheap. If you do this, I suggest asking members for a 20% deposit a month before the cruise and requiring full payment on or before the Meet & Greet. You must ensure that when you commit to a final number, you will be able to deliver for the tour operator. Without deposits and advance full payment, you may find that some cruisers just don’t show up on the day of the excursion. That could affect everyone else because often the low price negotiated is based on a minimum number of paying participants. I was able to negotiate prices that were at most a 1/3 of a comparable NCL excursion. The key to success in organizing a private excursion for Cruise Critic members is: (1) identifying a tour operator with excellent Trip Advisor reviews, (2) not being overly ambitious in designing an itinerary (to ensure your group returns in time for departure) and (3) having all participants make payment before departure. It’s a lot of work but the benefits are significant and these smaller excursions with other Cruise Critic members are a lot of fun. Passenger Composition Longer cruises attract a calmer, older, educated, and cordial passenger load. I found fellow passengers to be extremely polite, friendly, kind, and easy going. Compared to other NCL CRUISES I also found the music selection throughout the ship to be much more relaxed; more mellow rock and vocals and less Pit Bull, rap or hip hop. It was relaxingly delicious for a cruise. There was also a time where the promenade of deck 7 was pleasantly busy with walkers, some a little slower than others but the slow ones kindly staying on the right to allow the faster walker to maintain their pace. Many of these walkers had headphones and some elderly couples walked hand-in-hand which was lovely to see as the average age of the couples was on the high side. Everyone got along well. Mi also noticed that some walkers preferred to walk also in deck 7 but walked inside on the more cushioned carpet. Another wonderful observation of the longer cruise is that the pool area is never full or loud. I also noticed that unlike in other cruises, passengers are very cordial with each other and there is not the morning rush to reserve lounge chairs. When a chair is being used there was usually a body on the chair. It was also nice to see the two pools hardly ever used or full and the four whirlpools always had plenty of space, and usually by 5 or 5:30 pm, one or more of the whirlpools were vacant. And although the pool slide was opened on every nice day at sea, there was hardly ever a line. NCL STAR Ports I booked the NCL STAR’s South America 16 day cruise primarily because of the scheduled visits to historically-relevant Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia. Those stops were cancelled only a week before the cruise without much of an explanation from NCL headquarters. The reason given was “mechanical reasons,” a term which caused widespread concern among Cruise Critic Roll Call participants who imagined the worse, i.e., safety issues. Those port visits were replaced by Grand Cayman and Puerto Limon. Grand Cayman is nothing more than an uneventful beach stop. Beach stops on longer cruises (with predominantly older passenger composition) are neither appealing nor desirable. Passengers would have preferred Panama City, for example, or any other more historically-interesting port. More attention should be given by NCL in how it communicates schedule changes to passengers and how it identifies replacement ports. Final Disembarkation: Be sure to pick up your preferred color luggage tags early if you have a preferred time to disembark. If someone in your party requires wheel chair assistance, the party should go to the announced meeting spot to wait for assistance disembarking. Tip your wheelchair steward. The Port of San Antonio is significantly better prepared to receive disembarking passengers than the Port of Valparaiso. When I disembarked in Valparaiso, it was chaos and I speak perfect SPANISH. There were taxis waiting to rip-off cruisers who simply wanted to get to the bus terminal less than 5 minutes away and the bus terminal was unprepared for English speaking customers. I am certain that a number of cruisers disembarking in Valparaiso were subjected to scams or even victims of pickpockets or worse. The Port of San Antonio, on the other hand, was prepared. There was English-speaking young persons providing information to disembarking cruisers, young persons serving as volunteer porters helping passengers with their luggage, the luggage was placed in a well organized, large, clean, covered holding area, Chilean customs was efficient, there were sitting areas for passengers, clean bathrooms and personnel everywhere providing information and assistance in English. The best part, however, was that disembarking passengers did NOT have to make their way to the city’s bus terminal to catch a regular Chilean $7 bus ride to Santiago. There was a bus actually inside the Port where English speaking employees from the Chilean Pullman Bus Company would sell you a bus ticket with a credit card, help place your luggage in the luggage hold under the bus and even assign you a seat in the bus. It was amazing service. Cruisers did not need to exit the protected Cruise Terminal area to hop on a regular Chilean bus to Santiago. REALLY...AMAZING! Kudos to the City of San Antonio! Why would any cruise line disembark in Valparaiso when they can disembark their passengers safely and efficiently in San Antonio. San Antońio has been the most organized port where I have disembarked on any NCL cruise, Miami included. I was impressed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go through the Panama Canal and had been to most of the Mexican ports that would be covered by a cruise starting or ending in California. We were particularly interested in the Colombian ports, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go through the Panama Canal and had been to most of the Mexican ports that would be covered by a cruise starting or ending in California. We were particularly interested in the Colombian ports, which were cancelled two weeks before our sailing date and NCL would refused to let us cancel and get our money refunded. Supposedly the ship had "mechanical issues" that required the change in itinerary, but as best we could tell, the ship was sailing at full speed. No one on the ship would tell us what was wrong until the last day when a "beverage manager" said they had engine issues. Our previous voyage with NCL was to the Canary Islands in January 2019. We liked that cruise and booked the Miami to Santiago cruise shortly after our return home. Our experiences with the most recent cruise were so bad, we do not intend to sail with NCL again. We booked our flights through NCL. Coming from California, we wanted to have one night in Miami prior to the cruise, but NCL insisted that we either stay 2 nights in the hotel they specified (which got poor reviews on Trip Advisor) or come in the day of the sailing on a red-eye flight. Our red-eye was scheduled to arrive at 7:00 AM, but got in at 6:30 AM. Our final cruise documents said the transfer desk would not open until 8:30 AM and the first transfer would be around 10:30 AM. We sat in a cafe and showed up at the transfer desk at 8:15 AM. There was a sign on the desk saying they opened at 8:30, but they had been open for some time and had filled all of the seats on the first two buses. There was no where to sit except on the baggage carousels, which at that point were not in operation. About a half hour later the baggage carousels started and we were left without seats. My husband uses a cane and cannot stand for extended periods of time, so it was a problem. We were told we had to stick around, because they didn't know when the buses would be loaded. We finally got on a bus around 10:30. When we got to the terminal, we were directed to the handicapped line, but we still ended up standing for about 40 minutes. Every so often a check-in staff person would rush by, look at the line and just say "Everyone fine?" and rush away before anyone could respond. The check-in process was terribly slow. We watched people being given the wrong ship card and then the come back to interrupt the line to get the correct one. This went on for a long time. When it was our turn, the check-in person walked away to get our cards and came back, looked at them, saw they were the wrong ones and immediately went back to get the right ones make the process take about an extra 5 minutes at least per person. Our balcony cabin was very nice. The cabin bathrooms are well designed and the beds comfortable. Our steward was attentive. If you want hand lotion, you have to ask your steward for it, but it can be provided. The buffet food was not nearly as good as the buffet food we had on NCL in January. Many passengers commented that the quality and variety of the buffet food was much worse than previously. One person said his last cruise was in October and the buffet was much worse this time. At lunch the best thing was the Asian noodle soup and although there was always a line for it (with many non-Asians including ourselves), they never created a second "station" for the Asian noodle soup. The other lunch highlight was the carmel sauce for the desserts, but unfortunately, except for the first day, there was never any vanilla ice cream. The ice cream at the station outside by the pool was usually overly soft and the time the buffet staff sent me out there, they didn't have vanilla ice cream either. At breakfast, the buffet ran out of both All Bran cereal and Bran Flakes early in the cruise. Also cottage cheese was not available except for a couple of days at the beginning. If you wanted prunes or prune juice for breakfast, you had to go the main dining room. We ate dinner in the main dining room every night and because of our ghastly boarding experience were given a dinner reservation for the same table for the duration of the cruise. Our waiter was excellent and provided good advice on what was good to eat. Unfortunately, the menu repeated much too often. There never was any kind of "gala night" so no lobster tail or real steak (just mediocre strip steaks). The excursion departure process has horrible, especially on the disembarkation day. We were always told to gather in the auditorium (which spans from deck 5 to deck 7 with narrowly-spaced seats in tiers. On disembarkation day, we were told to arrive 20 minutes before the time on our tickets for a tour and transfer to the airport. We arrived about 25 minutes ahead and were fortunate to secure seats in a handicapped area. However, the overall process was very nasty and in my opinion dangerous, with people moving rollaboard suitcases on stairs and lifting them over seated passengers. We sat and sat and sat. Our tour with transfer wasn't called until 45 minutes after the time on our tickets and we were on the bus until over an hour after the ticket time. We had to endure a similar, but not quite as lengthy process of sitting in the auditorium before every excursion. In hindsight at least on departure day, I would have booked an independent cruise transfer with an outside vendor, so we could just get off the ship and skip having to listen to the same messages in the auditorium for over an hour. There were supposed to be "port" lectures, but the lecturer was more interested in general trivial and sensationalism than informing people about ports. Only the first one or two of his talks concerned places we were able to visit on the cruise. Ship days got to be horribly boring, because we do not gamble, attend art auctions or do trivia. The library shelves were locked except for a few hours a day. The volume in the ship shows with the cast of singers and dancers was for us painfully loud. We had enjoyed the shows on prior NCL cruises, but this time the high volume was a major negative. We sailed with Holland American in August and with Hurtigruten in April and found them more to our liking. At this point, we have a couple of river cruises booked, and I keep my eyes open for ocean cruise itineraries of interest, but NCL is off my list of vendors. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The Panama canal has been a bucket list trip for me for years and this one was priced right so I took it. Overall I had a great time. Going through the Panama canal was very well done with Panamanian official on board giving timely ... Read More
The Panama canal has been a bucket list trip for me for years and this one was priced right so I took it. Overall I had a great time. Going through the Panama canal was very well done with Panamanian official on board giving timely reports over the intercom as to what we were seeing. Just keep in mind that the Star is an older ship and will not compare to the newer ones in the fleet. If you have that in mind your expectations should be in line. I am not overly picky about food so the 3 star food on this ship was just fine for me. I never had any problems with the food just keep in mind it is not 5 star. The disappointment came in when NCL changed two of our ports of call the last minute which completely changed my plans for those ports. No time to switch gears...had to wing it and those days were minimal at best. The layout of the Star is odd where not all elevators go to all floors....not all hallways go through...etc. You have to memorize some shortcuts to get around. Some of my areas of focus: The gym was great... I enjoyed the thermal suite as I bought the pass...a very quiet area...almost sanctuary. The Oasis pool was the ship's focal point most of the day. They provided music much of the day there which was nice. The H2O spice area was nice...very quiet back there. Hot tubs were always fun with people in and out most of the day. At night the Bliss club was the happening place...main entertainment was also good. Food: The buffet was average at best. OSheehans was a good lunch option. Gina was a good dinner change...the main dining rooms were pretty good...but varied day to day. I did not try the premium dining. I had a mini suite on deck 11 and loved the room. Finally getting on and off the ship was pretty bad. Just be mentally ready for that. I will say the service from the staff on the ship was excellent. Very hard working people. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Norwegian Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 2.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.0
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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