The Good, the Better, and the Best: Norwegian Star Cruise Review by bambam

Norwegian Star 5
Member Since 2004
992 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

The Good, the Better, and the Best

Sail Date: April 2012
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa
We chose this cruise because it was a repositioning, and because it was going to Aruba, which I had not been to on our previous cruises. Our first sailing on the Star in 2006 was "interesting" as it was our first exposure to freestyle cruising. Having been use to the structured dining schedules, the freestyle took us out of our comfort zone and we left the Star having a so-so experience. The focus of this review is on the Star and her fantabulous crew.

This time was different. We didn't pack formal wear and we went in expecting to try the different venues and, simply put, we just decide to kick back and relax. What a difference our attitude made. We had a blast, enjoyed the ship, the crew, and more importantly, our free time.

In Tampa, embarkation was a little slow, taking almost 45 mins from time of drop-off to entry on-board. We got to the port around 1045 and was on the ship shortly before noon. So embarkation was "average" even though we were Latitude More members and went through the process via the Latitudes line. Once on-board, we had to wait until almost 2pm before gaining access to our cabin. We spent the time exploring the Star (again) and booking a massage in the Spa for Pebbles.

Our cabin steward was Ari, a quiet but very good steward. We asked for an egg-crate mattress pad, which he delivered almost immediately. Next up at 330 was the muster drill. Our station was in the Starlight Theater, and bringing the life jackets was not required.

Sail Away was very energetic, a lot of happy sailors on-board. I might add that for this cruise, we had close to 200 CC members, the largest CC group ever, for us. The only nerve-issue was our luggage, which didn't arrive until almost 6pm. It was a little unnerving to be sailing along, wanting to go to dinner, but not in the Versailles as no shorts were allowed, and no luggage to change pants. Just as we left for the restaurant, the bags arrived. You might consider packing dinner clothes in your carry-on.

We ate at most of the optional restaurants, with Le Bistro and Cagney's offering the best food AND service. But our advice is this: eat at Aqua and ask for Paul and Ashok (table 11 for 2). We found them on day 3 by accident/chance. Clearly, the best tandem servers we have ever had after 12 cruises on 6-different lines. Incidentally, Paul was selected as the best server by the cruise previous to ours and won a night off and dinner at the specialty restaurant of his choice. We ate dinner at Table 11 5-times, and each time, we had a great dinner in less than an hour with enjoyable conversations with both Paul and Ashok. We missed Paul twice as he was selected to be the waiter for the Chef's Table. Ashok covered without missing a beat.

For drinks and family friendship, you simply have to go to the Gatsby, it on deck 6 mid, next to the casino and right outside the Bistro. There is a piano there with nightly music. The master mixologist is Lorelie. We wrote her up as being our cruise "hero." She showed how to make drinks (martinis, let us try different combinations, and had many chats about family life at home. If you sail the Star before October, be sure to stop and say hi, she is leaving for the NCL Epic after a short vacation.

The shows on the Star were fabulous. Great singers and dancers, very good comedy and magic acts, and a fabulous final show called "Elements." A word of caution: it seems as though many, and I mean many, of the seats in the Stardust Theater are broken. When you fold down the seat, they will angle downward. This results in an awkward posture and left our legs hurting after each show. Go early and pick the right seats.

Lastly, the bad part was disembarkation. It seems that the Captain had a problem getting the Star into the port (Pier 88 in NYC) due to the Hudson River current. Instead of starting the disembarkation process around 8-830am, it wasn't started until after 10am. We didn't get off the ship until 11:15, and we had a 130 flight out of JFK. Yes, we got our luggage, raced outside, got a cab and made it to JFK at 1:10. Not a good ending, but we survived.

We did not see any of the "aging" previous posters had talked about. The Star was clean. The only aging we noted were the seats in the Theater.

Since this was a repositioning cruise, I will report on each of the Ports of Call boards our experiences at Jamaica, Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas.

For the New Englanders sailing out of NYC this summer, enjoy the Star - we now rank the 2012 version our "best" cruise ever. Less

Published 05/02/12

Cabin review: BB10538 Balcony

Cabin 10538 was a little on the small side. The beds were ok after adding the egg-crate mattress pad. Te balcony was a little small, with just enough room for two-chairs and a small table. The bathroom was, well, a cruise ship bathroom. The shower was of for a big guy like me, but i preferred the showers in the spa. the toilet area was separated by a sliding door that made getting up and down on the toilet a bit of a squeeze. Closet space was small as well, just enough room for hanging clothes, but very limited room for small stuff. Storage of suitcases under the bed was fine.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Island Tour

Well, it started out very badly, as ABC Tours made a timing mistake on our reservation, telling us 7:50 when the tour didnt start until 1000. After picking us up and delivering us to their store/shop, they admitted their mistake and gave us a private tour. We thought this was a fantabulous bit of customer service on their behalf. We had a fabulous tour that ended at Baby Beach, a relaxing beach great for wading in soft sand. Snorkeling wasn't too bad, but the rough water (reef protected) kicked up the sand, making picture taking a nightmare. Lots of fish to see, just not so clear water. Shopping was limited to the store near the pier.

We took a cab ride to Blue Bay Resort. Snorkeling was pretty good, and the beach was very clean and nice. It costs $8 per person to enter. We made arrangements with our cab to come back and pick us up in 4-hours, which worked out pretty good. He took us back to the ship, we changed, and walked back off to visit the shops next to the pier (new shops). A nice area and negated the need to go across the swinging bridge to the main town area (we've been there before). A nice day overall, but WAY too much time in Curacao (14-hours).
Read 917 Curacao Reviews

We did the all-inclusive resort at Dunns River. It was ok, somewhat limited number of activities, but we had free food and drinks. The beach was pretty, but snorkeling was very limited, mostly grasses.

I booked the "America's Cup" 12-Metre Yacht racing while Pebbles did some shopping. It was the best excursion I've ever been on. Ever!! There were other ships in port, and for the 830 "regatta", there were 25 fellow cruisers. We were split into two groups with a captain. The captains flipped for boat choice, and our captain "lost" so our group got "stuck" with True North, the Canadian challenger from the 1986-87 Cup Challange. Guess what, we whipped the Stars and Stripes, by at least 6-7 boat lengths. Totally made my cruise, got a photo and t-shirt of the victory (for a price, of course).

We took an island cab (in St Thomas, the island cabs are mini buses that hold 15 people without the van walls) to Sapphire Beach. It was $10pp each way and took about 25 mins. It was a pretty good beach, saw lots of fish, a stingray, two sea turtles and a live conch shell. We went back to the ship and did some shopping at the shops by the pier. Overall, a pretty good stay, but St. Thomas is getting pretty ragged, lots of street-side trash and some serious road-potholes. It was kind of sad to see the road-infrastructure at such a low-level of maintenance.
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Member Since 2004
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