Norwegian Star Cruise Review by lovevaca
- Sail Date: April 2012
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
We have sailed before on Princess, Carnival and RCL and were curious how NCL would compare. Let's just say we look forward to booking our next vacation on NCL and are happy to share our experience with others who are thinking of trying NCL or already looking forward to an upcoming vacation.
Embarkation and Cabins:
Embarkation was a breeze. We got to the port just after noon and were sitting down to lunch 30 minutes later. Our rooms, adjoining balconies, were ready less than an hour later. The configuration of the room was a little awkward, as the closet and bathroom doors hit into each other, but the bathroom configuration was the best we've seen on any cruise line, the beds were very comfortable and we had plenty of room. We chose having 2 balcony rooms rather than a mini-suite (which was about the same price) for the extra room and to have an extra bathroom and were very glad we did. After settling into our rooms, we headed to the pool and sail away party.
Itinerary and Ports:
The Western Carribean Itinerary was a big part of how we chose this cruise, and we were not disappointed. We like to have several stops on our cruises, rather than a lot of at sea time, and this cruise fit that requirement perfectly. We had a great time at every port, largely due to the excursions that we booked. These are reviewed in detail in the "Port Review" Section.The Staff:
The whole family agreed that while staff on all cruise ships we've been on are wonderful, those on the Norwegian Star are unbeatable! EVERYONE we met from our room stewards who kept our rooms spotless and made the best towel animals we've ever seen (especially the monkey hanging from our ceiling), to the wait staff (particularly those in the Aqua dining room) were outstanding. I don't think we passed a single staff member all week who did not go out of their way to say hello to us. On a few instances where we needed directions, staff went out of their way to escort us to the correct room or staircase, rather than to just point the way.
We enjoyed the CC M&G. It was a great opportunity to meet other passengers, along with the Captain and several other senior officers. A real treat was the Captain's invitation to tour the bridge later in the week, as this is something we've never had the opportunity to do.
We ate most of our breakfasts and one dinner in the Versailles Restaurant and the remaining dinners in the Aqua Dining Room. For lunch we sampled The Blue Lagoon, the Buffet and the Versailles. We also had breakfast one morning at the buffet. All of our meals were at least "good", several were excellent. No complaints about our meals at all, except that we may have ate a bit too much.Entertainment:
We all agreed that the entertainment on board the ship was excellent. The singers and dancers were consistently good and we particularly liked the show "Band on the Run". The Second City Comedy Troop kept us laughing and we really enjoyed "Shark Bait". The band Xcite, which played by the pool was great and we stopped to listen to the the guitarist and flutist whenever we happened to walk by where they were playing. We didn't participate in a lot of the activities held throughout the day, but did enjoy the martini tasting and the kids liked the juggling lesson.
We needed a full day to get familiar with the layout of the ship. After that first day, we loved it! Everything was easy to find (after the first day!), we enjoyed the pool and hot tubs and loved playing family shuffleboard every day, though we do wish there were more shuffleboard courts. I loved walking around Deck 7 every morning in an effort to offset some of the inevitable weight gain that comes from eating all of the delicious food. It is on Deck 7 that I encountered the only unpleasant passenger of the entire week, a man who insisted on smoking cigars every morning and afternoon, while others were walking and jogging. I attempted to politely remind him that cigar smoking is on Deck 13 only, but he refused to move and his wife laughed at me. The cruise staff immediately told him that he would need to put out the cigar or relocated, which I greatly appreciated. However, he continued to appear in the same spot every morning and afternoon. I have to say that he was the only passenger that I ran into all week that was unpleasant. Everyone else around the pool, at the restaurants and bars and on the ports was wonderful. Couldn't ask for a better group of fellow-cruisers.
Other reviewers have mentioned that some parts of the ship were worn or in need of refurbishment. While this is true in spots, I have to say that after the first day on the ship, I didn't notice it at all (and I am picky!). The positives on the ship, particularly the people, far outweighed a little worn carpet on the stairway.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Belize CityIn my opinion, this is the one port that I would not be comfortable venturing out on my own and definitely recommend booking an excursion in advance (either throuhg NCL of someone else).View All 2,217 Belize City Cruise Port Reviews
We booked the Cave Tubing and Zipline XTreme Adventure through Island Marketing for $95 per person. This was a total 6.5 hour excursion and was amazing. The excursion began with a one hour tour of the island. The guides from XTreme are awesome - very vunny and full of great information. When we arrived at the rainforest, we got our tubes and hiked approximately 30 minutes, again with a tour along the way. Then it was time to enter the water. Cave tubing was a good, relaxing experience and the water was refreshing. We were divided into groups of 8 and our guides did a great job of keeping us together (which I can't say about some of the other companies I saw). I am very glad we had the opportuntiy to do the cave tubing, but it's probably not something I need to do again (fun, but not very exciting). After about an hour and a half in the caves, it was time for ziplining. This was a great experience - a total of 10 ziplines, the longest 700 feet. A warning though - be prepared to climb up to the top of the zipline! DD, DS and I liked the Ziplining portion of our adventure the most, while DH voted cave tubing his favorite part. After ziplining we were treated to lunch (rice and beans, chicken and fresh fruit and juice) before heading back to port. This is another excursion I would recommend!
View Cruise Critic's Belize City Cruise Port Review
Beach BreakWe booked the "Beach Break Lounge" at the YaYa Beach Club through Island Marketing. This was the bargain of our vacation! For $32.50 for adults, $20 for children, we were treated to a beautiful beach on a lagoon. The beach was not crowded at all, there was plenty of shade, the unlimited drinks were quite tasty, and the water was perfectly clear. DD and DS announced it was the best beach they have ever imagined and we had to agree with them.View All 220 Beach Break Reviews
Culinary TourWe booked an amazing cooking class through the website Cozumelmycozumel.com. Josephina is the chef. She welcomed our family of 4, along with another couple, into her kitchen. We picked the entree that we wanted to learn to make (Chicken Mole) ahead of time and, in addition, everyone in all of her classes makes about 10 other things (Guacamole, Salsa, Cactus Salad, Cucumber and Mango Salad, Refried Beans, Homemade Tortillas, Quesedeas, Hibiscus tea and, of course, margaritas). Our class started with a trip to the local market, where Josephina showed us how to pick out the best produce and, upon request, also helped my son pick out a few choice hot sauces. Back at her home, we alternated between preparing our meal and eating our creations, until we finally tried our masterpiece - Chicken Mole. While the taste was a bit too unusual for the kids (who continued to enjoy everything else), all of the adults in the class loved this dish. I've had Chicken Mole a few times, but this was by far my favorite. This class was great for the whole family - me (definitely the cook of the family), DH (who usually avoids the kitchen at all costs, and DD(13) and DS(12) who loved making and eating these creations. If you are looking for an authentic experience and can tear yourself away from the beach for a few hours, I highly recommend booking this excursion!View All 73 Culinary Tour Reviews
RoatanBooked the West Bay Beach Excursion through Island Marketing and was very happy with it. Very nice beach, though a little crowded. Our cab driver was very nice and stayed with us all day. There was always someone there to watch our belongings while we swam. We had originally planned to rent snorkel equipment and snorkel from the beach, but the snorkeling off the beach did not look very good. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise though, when we learned that for $60 Gustavo Pavon (a tour operator on the beach) would take us on his boat and snorkel with us over the reef, snorkel equipment included, for about an hour and a half. The snorkeling was amazing!! Both the reef and fish were beautiful and there was no one else in sight at our snorkel spot. If you go to West Bay Beach, I definitely recommend finding Gustavo! Our entire family of 4 agree snorkeling at Roatan was our single most enjoyable excursion.View All 2,527 Roatan Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Roatan Cruise Port Review