Our Stellar Week on The Star! 9/2-9, 2012: Norwegian Star Cruise Review by HelenaCruiser2012

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Our Stellar Week on The Star! 9/2-9, 2012

Sail Date: September 2012
Destination: Bermuda
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
Norwegian Star Review 9/2 -- 9/9 2012

DH (turned 42 on the cruise) and I (50) enjoyed our first NCL cruise, and only our second cruise overall; our first was on RCCL's Mariner back in 2004. To sum up our week, we had a GREAT time! We don't have time to do a day-by-day review, but we'll hit the main points. We'll also be happy to answer any questions.

Embarkation in NYC
We live in Southern NJ and after investigating different ways of getting to the pier, for us, it just made sense to drive and park right there. Yes the $245 pricetag is steep, but you can't beat the convenience of parking your car right next to the ship and not having to maneuver your luggage into and out of trains, busses and cabs. Before sailaway, we actually went out on deck and snapped a picture of our car sitting right there waiting for us. Pier parking is that close to the ship!

On embarkation day, we got on the road by 6:30 am and found the NJ Turnpike almost empty. We made it More to the pier and caught our first glimpse of the beautiful Norwegian Star, bright, colorful and just waiting for us. At the dock we also saw Disney's Magic and HAL's Veendam, both beautiful ships as well. While it was too early to park in the official lot (that opens to newcomers at 9:00 am) we paid & parked in a temporary lot just next to the official lot and were told to come back at 9:00 am. In the 45 minutes we had to kill, we were able to walk into the terminal & use the restrooms. At 9:00 am, we drove to the official lot and brought our luggage down to the street level of the terminal where all but carryons were taken, to reappear outside our cabin later that afternoon. Inside the terminal we quickly checked in and got our SeaCards, and then waited to be called to board the Star. Boarding took about an hour or so longer than we expected... an announcement was made that the Coast Guard had called for a mandatory emergency drill on the ship before we would be allowed to board, and as we sat eagerly awaiting the start of our vacation, we watched the ship's crew don life vests and stand at muster stations as the Coast Guard did their inspection. As there were two ships boarding that day at the pier, we were glad that we got to the terminal early enough to get seats or we could've wound up standing for awhile. Eventually we were told that we would be able to start boarding by 1:00 pm, and, number tags in hand, waited to be called. We had #21 which we thought was low BUT when the boarding finally started, they would call #1 -- 4, then #5, then #6... Many people must have been given the same number, so suddenly #21 didn't seem so good after all! Since we were among the first ones at the pier, we wondered how the numbers were handed out. Oh well, all was forgotten as soon as we boarded the ship!

Money Matters & the OBC
OK, once and for all, here's the lowdown on using cash to fund your OBC: The one counterperson who set up cash OBC's wasn't available yet when we checked in at the pier but we were told that we could set it up at the Guest Services desk on Deck 7 (the same deck you first board the ship on) once we got onboard. As soon as we boarded, we went straight to Guest Services, only waited a few minutes, then told the friendly crew member that we wanted to set up our OBC with cash. She asked for our names, our cabin number, our SeaCards, and then how much we wanted to set up the account with. Knowing that we had a $75 credit from booking the cruise on Hotwire, we said we'd start with $625, making our initial OBC balance $700. She smiled and gladly accepted our $625, never batting an eye. Please note that, at least on the Star, you do NOT have to set up your OBC with $100 per person per day. A few weeks earlier, we had called NCL who said that the amount required for a cash deposit depended on the Guest Services desk for that ship. When I requested the phone number for the GS desk on the Star because we needed to know how much cash to bring, she actually put us on hold and called the ship for us. She said that she was glad we had asked because she learned something new that day too, and then told us that we could set up our OBC with any amount we wanted to. We were still a little anxious about it but what she said turned out to be completely true. So after setting up our OBC in a flash we were ready for our first meal (of many) onboard!

The Star, inside & out
She is a beautiful ship, especially inside. Colorful, upbeat, easy to navigate with good signage throughout. Every interior space has been well planned and thoughtfully and colorfully decorated. Yes there are signs of wear and tear that we never saw on Mariner in 2004, like worn carpets, missing elevator buttons, a cracked plastic sign holder on Deck 7 that I cut myself on, broken lounge chairs, small tiles falling off inside the main pool, those old CRD-type TVs, stained cloth napkins and beach towels (ewww, throw them out please!), public restrooms that should have been serviced & stocked more frequently, noticeably dirty windows in the Market Cafe, but overall she's a beautiful ship inside. Outside also beautiful but I thought more confusing and so cramped. I know that Mariner is a much larger ship, but I can't help but think that the deck areas of the Star could be more open and less -- choppy, like Mariner's were. Also, what is with the plexiglass barriers or windows on most decks? No wonder the pool area is so sweltering hot all of the time, and the smoking side of the ship (port side) just confines the smokiness. I'm on a cruise ship in warm weather, I want to feel that breeze everywhere! Our favorite spots to enjoy the day and get away from it all: Deck 13 (I think) in the aft, great place to watch a sunset (although it's just above the kiddie pool area which always seemed to have a funny smell to me). And our favorite escape, Deck 7 starboard. ? As long as you can find chairs (and sometimes you just have to lurk and wait), this is the best place on the ship to relax away from the loud music and outdoor smoke and (depending on the time of day) the sun, catch the breeze and watch the world go by beautifully. We would pull our chairs up to the railing (and under the lifeboats), grab some popcorn from the Red Lion Pub, DH would get a bucket of Miller Lites from the Bier Garten and we would spend a few hours there, drifting in and out of naps, talking, drinking, enjoying where we were and just relaxing. Now this is what we came on a cruise for!

Cabin #9599 -- Inside mid-ship, portside
Don't plan on upgrading at the pier, because our cruise was sold-out with no chance for an upgrade. So there we were, opening the door to our first interior cabin (we had had a balcony on Mariner) -- it was small, oh so small, but kind of cute. The good news is that if you don't like light in the cabin at night, an interior is just the thing for you! It was pitch black at night. When we first walked in we saw that the beds were set up as two twins instead of together as a queen-size. When we asked Melanie, our wonderful, friendly cabin steward to please put them together, she quickly obliged us but explained that she had left them apart because there wouldn't be enough room on both sides to easily walk -- true, but we still wanted them together. Instead of getting out of the bed on the side like normal, all week I kind of shimmied down to the foot on the bed to get off, it was no big deal and kind of funny. All of our luggage didn't fit under the bed (some were too high) so we kept them on my side of the bed anyway. We were going to use a nightlight but weren't able to because there was only one outlet in the entire room and my husband needed it at night for his CPAP machine (it wasn't near the head of the bed so thank goodness we listened to a fellow Cruise Critic reviewer and brought a long extension cord). The bathroom was fine, with a liquid soap dispenser at the sink and body wash & shampoo in the nice-size (bigger than Mariner's balcony cabin) shower. Take note that if your inseam is longer than about 32" there's no way you'll be able to comfortably sit on the toilet! You'll be angling your body in strange ways. One bad thing in the bathroom: The drying line hanging in the shower. It was moldy in spots but didn't retract so during the entire week we took showers with the moldy line (ewww!) while thankfully never touching it or hanging wet swimsuits on it. The 9th deck was good because there was nothing noisy above or below us, and the beds were very comfortable so we got good sleep at night. Will we ever do another inside cabin? DH and I both think that we won't do another inside cabin no matter how good the price is, it was cozy to the point of being claustrophobic and we need some daylight!

Versailles: This is the main old-world-style formal dining room (although of course, on NCL, you never have to dress formally... yes we saw shorts and sneakers in there). It's big and glitzy with beautiful chandeliers and gilded everything, and windows in the back with an aft view of the water. Have to admit, the first time I saw the room I told DH that it reminded me a little too much of the grand dining room on the Titanic, and he agreed. As you might already know, the left half of the menu stays the same throughout the cruise while the right side changes each night, and you can order as many of everything as you want, and your waitstaff will happily bring you whatever you want or make recommendations if you'd like. And yes, night one of the cruise (embarkation night) is lobster night (the lobsters are small but tasty). The food is good and varied although we both thought that the appetizers were better than the actual main courses. Portions are not huge so if you have a big appetite, go ahead and order extras. One exception was the crisped salmon over a bed of sauteed spinach that I had on two nights, it was a big filet that was crisp on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside and incredibly tasty. DH had trouble finding main dishes that he liked because he's not big on seafood (and the menu has quite a bit of seafood), and didn't want to order a steak because he was looking forward to a wonderful steak dinner later that week at Cagney's, so he wound up with a plain chicken breast with some kind of Chinese brown sauce, mashed potatoes and spinach and was a happy camper. I've read a lot of negative reviews of desserts on the Star and at least in Versailles we found desserts to be good. One to note -- the banana bread pudding with caramel sauce. Yummm! Btw with one exception, each night that we ate in Versailles we were able to walk right up and request a table for 2 and be seated rather quickly

Market Cafe buffet: This is the huge buffet with wraparound windows that's a great place for a quick meal or snack. We only have one other cruise ship buffet to compare it to, the Windjammer on RCCL's Mariner of the Seas, and we thought that Market Cafe came out hands-down better. Yes, it's a big cafeteria-style buffet and yes, at times it was difficult to find a seat (especially right after embarkation) but the food was very very good for this type of eatery, much better than the Windjammer. We always joked that the Windjammer served "a whole lot of mediocre food," but the food at the Market Cafe was consistently good and varied. Breakfasts always had more than one omelet station cooking made-to-order omelets, so there was never much of a wait, which certainly pleased DH as he ordered his bacon-spinach-onion-jalapeno omelet most mornings. There was always a nice display of fresh, ripe fruit (honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, watermelon, oranges, grapefruit...). Assorted cold cereals. Oatmeal and grits. Baked beans (which we never quite understood). Several kinds of potatoes, including small crispy potato cakes, and wedges with sauteed peppers and onions. There were fluffy and perfectly-cooked scrambled eggs and scrambled eggs with onions and peppers, and always some kind of ready-made crepes filled with cheese or mushrooms or spinach. Big, thick, yummy and crisp French toast. Pancakes. Bagels and toast. Croissants. Several kinds of pastries and Danish and muffins. Salmon Benedict which quickly became my new favorite breakfast. Mountains of crispy bacon. Ham slices. Juicy and delicious pork sausage. Lox and all of the trimmings that go with it. And to drink, there was hot tea, coffee, iced tea, apple juice, orange juice, cranberry juice cocktail, ice water (different juices were in the juice machine at different times). Plates and napkins/silverware were of course at the beginning of each buffet line but a nice touch was that napkins & silverware were also available on each table. Let's just say that DH and I started our days well fed! We didn't always eat lunch in the buffet but I know that there were many hot offerings as well as thick, stuffed sandwiches. I don't think we ate dinner here at all but did stop in occasionally for snacks (after all we couldn't go more than two hours without eating on the cruise!). We had both read about the pretzel rolls, and let's just say that everything you've heard is true! Those pretzel rolls are buttery and just incredible. One other note, we remember the Windjammer being closed for brief periods between mealtimes to set up for the next round, but the Market Cafe never closed in between, there was always one buffet line left open even when they were getting ready for the lunch or dinner crowd. Nice & considerate touch!

Ginza: Oh Ginza, not sure what to say here, we both agreed that it was a swing & a miss and a waste of a dinner on the ship. Around the ship there are flat-screen monitors telling you how long you can expect to wait at the dining rooms and specialty restaurants that evening, and now we know why Ginza always seemed to be wide open. The only way we can say it is that we thought the food here was awful. Crab wontons, Tso's chicken in lettuce cups, sesame chicken... it was just all bad, nothing tasted the way we hoped it would and always had some strange spice or herb in there. At least for us, not worth the price of admission and we would've rather eaten in the buffet or one of the main dining rooms than here. The ambience is good with beautiful decor (like every other part of the ship's interior) but we thought the dinner was bad and to be honest were happy that it stayed down.

Cagney's: Cagney's is the anti-Ginza for us. Everything was wonderful and well worth the $25 per person charge. We made reservations there for DH's birthday (Thursday night of the cruise) and couldn't wait! Our server Ionela was friendly and smiling and made us feel like we were honored guests in her home. From appetizers (like shrimp cocktail with Jack Daniels cocktail sauce) to salad (we both had a wedge that was covered with blue cheese and bacon) to our main courses (DH and the filet mignon and I had the T-bone) to our desserts (more on this later), everything was amazing. OK, I have to say that the appetizer and side dish portions were very small... we both ordered the au gratin potatoes and thought the tiny round stack of potatoes they served was cute but not nearly enough (probably could've eaten them in one or two bites), but everything tasted exactly as you had hoped it would. Steaks were tender and juicy and cooked to medium-well perfection as we had requested (DH's filet was butterflied), the mushroom sauce was amazing (they had several different sauces to choose from but we both loved the mushroom sauce), the dinner was un-stuffy and unhurried in a dimly-lit and elegantly-appointed open-kitchen dining room. Oh, and I forgot about the best part -- the Speakeasy Martinis! I don't know how much they were -- probably $8 or $9 each -- but they were amazing! They were made with Grand Marnier, apricot brandy, Southern Comfort and sparkling wine and served in martini glasses rimmed with raw sugar and garnished with a lemon rind twist. I'm not a big drinker but we both happily downed two of these during dinner. They're sweet but really pack a punch.... highly recommend them! Dessert was equally delish. Before the cruise I had ordered the Happy Birthday package ($35) for our cabin for DH's 42nd birthday on Thursday, and on Wednesday when we returned to our cabin after breakfast we found it all decorated with balloons and crepe paper and a sign, with the cake that comes with the package waiting for him. Since it was a day early, we called Guest Services and asked that it be saved for the following night at Cagney's, and while we were out they took it and it showed up at Cagney's right on schedule. The cake wasn't any plain, dry box cake with cloyingly sweet icing, this was a sweet tooth's dream with deep flavors and delicious white-chocolate squares decorating the edge. Ionela brought the cake and, since there are no open flames allowed on the ship (so leave your scented candles at home!) she turned the electric candle on our table inside out to resemble a birthday candle and everyone sang to my husband. We had a piece of the cake and then, of course, ordered desserts off the menu too! DH had a brownie with chocolate sauce and I think vanilla bean ice cream, and I had what might have been the BEST thing I ate on the ship: the Raspberry Crème Brulee. I have never had a crème brulee like this, with just the right amount of crunch on top and just the right creaminess inside, and the raspberry flavor was sweet without being too sweet and fruity without being too fruity. This was a dessert I will never forget and if I wasn't full from the first cake and the T-bone would've probably ordered a second. DH's birthday dinner at Cagney's was memorable for all the right reasons.

Aqua: Aqua is the less-formal main dining room on the Star, and it has basically the same menu every night as Versailles. We saw more shorts and jeans in there than in Versailles, and the waitstaff was just as attentive and friendly. The atmosphere is much more modern and sleek than gilded Versailles and it was a good option the one night we ate there.

The Blue Lagoon: Yes yes yes, the buffalo wings really are that good! They're plump and juicy and crisp and the sauces (mild, medium, hot) are just right. The blue cheese is a bit liquidy BUT it tastes really really good, and there are large windows for you to gaze at the water while eating.

The Grill poolside BBQ: We didn't expect the poolside (or Oasis, as the pool deck is called) Grill to be anything special, but happily we were wrong! We expected hockey-puck burgers and shriveled hot dogs and generic salads. Instead, we were shocked to find thick juicy burgers as well as burgers that were cooked to order. You want blue cheese & pineapple on your burger? You got it! Or sauteed onions and bacon and mushrooms? Sure! DH & I are hearty eaters, but honestly, one of these burgers was very filling. The hot dogs were equally as good, big & plump & juicy with a really good grilled taste. They also had fresh fruit, potato and macaroni salad and cole slaw, and French fries and potato chips. Everything was good and fresh! If it wasn't so darn hot out at the pool deck all of the time we would've eaten at a table there but most of the time we took them inside & sat at the Market Cafe (conveniently just steps away on the same deck).

Chocoholic Buffet: The Chocoholic Buffet took place on Friday night of the cruise in the Market Cafe. I am a Class A chocoholic and couldn't wait for this. It was in the buffet and even though they dimmed the lights and added ice sculptures and chocolate sculptures as well, it was still the buffet so it wasn't as elegant and special as I thought it might be. The chocolate temptations were, we thought, just OK... plenty of cakes, cookies, ice cream, chocolate covered macaroons, and a chocolate fountain (although you couldn't dip the fruit or marshmallows or whatever in the chocolate yourself, which definitely detracted from it for me). Everything was OK, but honestly, just OK. DH has a bit of a sweet tooth too and neither one of us went back for seconds. Servers walked around selling a special "perfectly paired" drink but we didn't take advantage of that because we knew we wouldn't be there very long. Have to say we were a bit disappointed in the whole experience.

Pool Areas
Oh that pool. If the main pool wasn't meant to be used by so many people it might actually be cute, but the cuteness quickly dissipates as soon as there are throngs of happy cruisers jockeying for position in it. Yes it's small, just like everyone says it is, believe me they're not exaggerating. My husband found that the only good time to go in the pool was in the morning while I was taking a shower, before the sun worshippers came out for the day. At one point in the middle of the afternoon on a sea day, I was happily half-asleep in the shade on Deck 7 and he went to get a bucket of beers at the Bier Garten, and said that there had to be 40 people in the pool kind of standing at attention, almost in orderly rows, because there was nowhere for them to move. They just stood there, side by side, in the sun and sweltering humidity. There are two slides at the pool area but much of the time we noticed them closed and, honestly, they look more like unnecessary monstrosities in the already overcrowded pool area. There's also a mini-pool directly behind the main pool but, again, it was tiny. There's also a kiddie pool on the aft of the ship, and I believe there's an additional pool in the spa although we never went in to find it. The long and short of it is that the pool's just too darn small for all of the passengers on the Star. Oh and be careful because the small blue tiles decoratively lining the pool are starting to fall off!

Stan Sykes -- Motown: We don't care what else is going on on the ship, get yourself a comfortable seat at a table at Gatsby's on Deck 6, order a few cocktails and get ready to sing and laugh and dance from 8 pm -- 12 midnight (every night but the first). Stan Sykes is a born entertainer with a voice that does Motown classics proud. He's got a great personality to boot, is funny as heck, interacts with the audience and takes requests. We heard everything from the O'Jays and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (OK not really Motown but on my husband's birthday he requested some "Philly Sound" and Stan happily obliged) to Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, some real southern blues, Barry White... this guy has a unique style that kept his audience growing bigger and bigger throughout the week. We thought about trying the country hoe-down one night or taking in a show, but relaxing with the crowd listening to Stan was exactly what we needed. There's a reason why we saw many of the ship's officers (including the Captain one night) there, they know where the best entertainment is. (We made the mistake of forgetting to buy his CD while we were there, don't make the same mistake!)

We actually didn't take in any of the shows all week, we were happy to do our own thing on our own schedule, as long as we made it to Mr. Motown's show!

Well we didn't take part in the conga line or the hoedown or Bingo, although we did try -- and win! -- the '70s music trivia contest in the Red Lion Pub! No matter what you're interested in, there will be something entertaining for you to do on the ship. There are martini tastings, wine & cheese tastings, even beer tastings; lectures on shopping, Bermuda, how your tongue tells the story of your health (no I couldn't make this up), learning country line dancing, even a how-to session on origami. There seemed to be more going on on this ship at all times than on the Mariner. What we did most of the time was nap in the shade with a bucket of beers on Deck 7 but hey, that's what interested us!

Casino: DH and I made our contribution to the casino. It's not very big and if you don't smoke or like the smell of it (like us) the constant choking smoke in the air might be a little much for you (we both wondered why they can't they do something with the ventilation in there?). They have everything you'd expect, including penny & higher stakes slots, table games, regular and rapid roulette, blackjack, and this annoyingly addictive machine at the entrance: the Key Master. I tried it about 30 times during the week and watched others too (it always attracts an audience). It looks so simple -- you swipe your key card and the $1 fee allows you one chance to try to win either $25, $50, or $500 + an iPad. It's like a machine you'd see on the boardwalk at the Jersey shore, all you have to do is use the horizontal and vertical controls to guide this key through the hole in front of the prize of your choice and you win that prize. Yeah, it just sounds easy! After spending time & money on this thing, I can tell you that we noticed two things: when you lift your hand from the "vertical" control button for the key to stop moving, it seems to still move just a little bit more than you wanted it to, possibly explaining why everyone winds up just 1/8" too high to win the prize. You'll also notice that the holographic decoration around the keyhole doesn't go all the way to the edge of the opening, it actually stops just a smidge above it, creating the illusion that if you line the key up to the edge of the decoration you'll get it in the hole. Not so much. Armed with this information, we hope that you have better luck with it than we -- and everyone else we watched -- did!

We saw some of the ship's officers so often that we thought of them as friends by the end of our cruise! It seemed like the Hotel Director and Food & Beverage Director were always hanging out together, walking around, smiling and making sure that everyone was happy (like the last night when the Hotel Director Sean saw us waiting in Spinnaker for a table in Versailles, probably thought we looked pathetic and hungry and, with one quick call, turned our 30+ minute wait into an instant table for two!). We even saw the Captain (and got a picture with him) one night at Gatsby's enjoying Stan Sykes' show with the rest of us. Nearly everyone from the Captain on down seemed genuinely happy to see us there. I don't know how they do it week in & week out but they all managed to make us feel like we were their very first and most important passengers.

Bermuda is everything you've heard it is and so much more. The people are friendly, helpful and smiling. The kids are adorable. No matter where you look, whether it's in the capital city of Hamilton, on the beach or up an alleyway, everything is picturesque and colorful and inviting. And bonus, it's very easy to navigate by public transportation.

Because of Hurricane Leslie's approach, no one was allowed in the water at the southern pink-sand beaches, so on Bermuda Day 1 we took a ferry to Hamilton, then walked a few short, colorful blocks to the bus stop and, on the advice of a local, headed to nearby Shelly Bay Beach on the northern coast. Note that you can purchase public transportation passes for 1, 2 or 3 days right at the King's Wharf dock, and each pass is good for both ferries and buses. Thanks to DH's research, we didn't have to deal with expensive cabs, and it was fun to travel like the locals. The ferry ride to Hamilton and the next day to St. George's is just beautiful, lots of good opportunities for picture taking. Shelly Bay Beach is popular for kids because it's so calm and shallow. There's not much of a beach there, the sand was definitely not pink, and you can usually hear the noise from the highway behind it but the water was perfectly calm and shallow and that gorgeous clear teal color (it's amazing that this is the same Atlantic Ocean that we see at the Jersey shore!). We could even see the Star way in the distance! It was brutally hot and humid and the sun extra strong so we spent less than 2 hours in the water, but we loved every minute of it. DH had brought along this little spongy orange ball that he bought at 5 Below and we starting throwing it around -- the thing actually bounces across the water, very cool! Some local school kids who were in the water too starting playing catch with us and before we knew it we had forgotten about the heat and the sun and were making memories we would never ever forget. We wound up giving the ball to the kids and eventually dried off and walked across the highway to the bus stop. The ride back (after being thrown off of the first bus because we were dripping wet) was treacherous to us but ho-hum to the driver and regular passengers. Those streets are very twisty-turny and narrow and our bus driver was navigating them like he was maneuvering a tiny Smart car on a wide-open highway. We'll definitely go back to Bermuda to check out the world-famous south shore pink beaches but we feel lucky that, because of Hurricane Leslie, we found a hidden treasure that we would have never found without her.

St. Georges: Definitely worth the long ferry ride to St. George's, with shop after shop of treasures and trinkets, the unfinished Church, the fort, St. Peter's Church, eateries and pictures waiting to be taken at every turn. Even little pastel homes with peeling paint and overgrown brush were surreal and beautiful. It was again brutally hot but well worth the time we spent there.

Hamilton: A picturesque and friendly capital city, and yes, we even saw a young professional guy walking the streets in Bermuda shorts, a long-sleeve shirt, kneesox and dress shoes! You can find anything or any kind of food you're looking for here, the people are friendly and approachable, but don't forget to be careful when crossing the street, both because they're serious about jaywalking and because they drive on the left!

I guess DH is lucky, he married the one woman who doesn't go power-shopping on vacation. We bought the usual trinkets in Bermuda -- T-shirts, sunglasses, shot glasses, keychains, costume earrings, Christmas ornaments, etc. -- but nothing high-value. If you like seaglass, there's a great seaglass jewelry shop in St. George's -- there's a great little shop for just about everything in St. George's, just stroll the quaint streets and look around. On the ship they have the usual gold-by-the-inch, high-end art auctions and fine jewelry and perfume. Note that the last sea day they had a 50% off jewelry sale blowout in the Atrium, it's all costume but you can find some really nice pieces. And around the same time or maybe the day before, they set up a Bijoux Terner $10 store in the Duty Free shop too.

"Easy walk off" really was easy! We decided to walk off with our bags so we didn't have to leave them in the hallway the night before. Sunday morning, DH went to Guest Services to settle our account (and we got cash back for the credit balance we had), ate our last hearty breakfast in the Market Cafe and got ready for the cue to disembark. When we heard the PA announcement that anyone choosing Easy Walk-off was free to easily walk off, we gathered our luggage, stuffed it and ourselves into an elevator and made our way to Deck 7 where we had happily embarked just a short week earlier. It was a quick trip through Customs, then to our car and, after finally finding the Lincoln Tunnel were on the road and actually made it to 11:15 am mass in our own church!

Would we sail NCL again? Absolutely. Would we sail the Star again? Probably not, we both want a newer/bigger ship experience. And although Breakaway sounds incredible (they were really hawking it on board all week) it's nowhere near as large as RCCL's Oasis or even Freedom classes. So we're torn, we absolutely love the Freestyle cruising way of life -- eat when, where and with whom you want, dressed as you want -- and also loved how warm & friendly nearly all of the crew and the ship's officers were. While we definitely want to cruise again, we're not locked into cruising as our only type of vacation. But we're looking forward to returning to Bermuda one of these days, as well as cruising Alaska and maybe the New England/Canadian Maritimes route (especially after the sweltering humidity this whole week!). We loved the single-port cruise and wish that NCL and others would schedule more single-port cruises, so we can have several days in a spot and really get to explore it.

Anyone getting ready to sailaway on the Star, as long as you remember that she's not a megaship and has a few nautical miles under her keel, we're sure you will love her as much as we do. Happy cruising! Less

Published 09/23/12

Cabin review: IB9599 Mid-Ship Inside

- Small small small... cramped for 2 adults - only 1 electrical outlet, bring an extension cord if you use a CPAP machine - some luggage will not fit under the bed (our hardside luggage was too high) - old CRD-type TV - not enough closet or dressed space for 2 adults - the way the toilet is angled, cruisers with inseams of 32" or more may not be able to sit comfortably - there is a liquid soap dispenser at the bathroom sink, and dispensers in the shower for body wash and shampoo - if you like it dark, you'll love it at night. If you want a little bit of light so you don't trip on the way to the bathroom at night, better bring a nightlight - relatively quiet, never heard anyone upstairs - good mid-ship location, close enough to elevators

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