Norwegian Star Cruise Review by Czarinahil
- Sail Date: January 2004
- Destination: Nowhere
- Cabin Type: Aft-Facing Penthouse with Large Balcony
Pre-cruise - We arrived in Honolulu on 1/1 it was raining and that coupled with the holiday left us with not a lot to do but shop. We spent some time at the Ala Mohana center where we ate an excellent meal at The Pineapple Room, which is the more casual (and affordable) Alan Wong restaurant. Don't let its location inside a Macy's department store fool you - this was one heck of a meal!! That night we stayed at the Sheraton Mohana Surfrider, which we didn't really like. Maybe it was all the rain but it was very musty and or room was small and in desperate need of some updating. Before dawn the next morning we were on our way to Pearl Harbor during what appeared to be monsoon like weather. It was well worth the trip even though we returned soaking wet and cold. We then checked in to our final pre-cruise hotel - The Halekulani.
We did not have a smooth start at this five star resort as it took three hours for our room to be ready and all we could do was sit in the lobby cold and wet. We ate that night at 3660 on the Rise - another fantastic meal. On our last pre-cruise day the sun was finally shining and we had a wonderful day driving all around the island - spending some time at Queen Emma's summer Palace, The Polynesian Cultural Center, and eating amazing shaved ice!
Embarkation - We arrived at the pier at about 11 am. There was already a small line forming even though they weren't letting people in until 11:30. We told the gentleman who helped us with our luggage that we were in a suite and he kept us off to the side so we were among the first to go check in. The whole process was very quick and smooth and I was particularly impressed with all the security. We were escorted to our room and found that it was still in the process of being made up so we set out to explore the ship. Being among the first on the ship was awesome as it felt like the whole place was ours to explore! We quickly made our spa appointments (taking advantage of the embarkation special of saving $60 on a package of three massages), dinner reservations for the first two nights, and took a guided tour of the ship and the spa.
Our Room - We were in Romance Suite 10726. It was a nice room of a decent size but we found the drawer space to be a little tight. It was, however, in the back of the ship and you really felt the motion of the ocean - especially at night. We had relatively calm seas for our voyage I can't even imagine how bad it was in previous weeks when the seas were really rough. Along with our suite came many amenities such as a DVD player and large TV, fresh flowers, goodies in our room almost daily (deviled eggs, cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, champagne, chocolate, fruit), the ability to make our dining reservations for the full week rather than two days at a time, VIP tender times, and a special cocktail party with the captain. We enjoyed the services our butler Rey who could bring us food from the main dining rooms in addition to the regular room service menu but didn't see much of our concierge Al (although it was his name on all the goodies).
The Restaurants and Freestyle Dining - All in all I would say that freestyle was not for us. We are the type of people you like a schedule so we found we preferred the traditional cruise experience to Freestyle. Freestyle dress made for very underdressed people in the dining rooms even at dinner when a "resort casual" dress code was supposed to be enforced. Also overall we were disappointed in the food in comparison to the food on RCCL. We did get a chance to try many of the restaurants, however. On the first night we ate in Le Bistro, which we both enjoyed (chocolate fondue - Yum!!). We had the whole restaurant to ourselves as everyone was at the sail away BBQ. This was a good night to eat there, as it was often all booked the other nights.
The second night we ate at La Trattoria, which was our favorite of the specialty restaurants. The food was great and there was no cover charge. We liked it so much that we went back three to eat on the final night of the cruise. We ate in Versailles on Tuesday for formal night and Aqua on Wednesday for lobster night. Both were good and if you ordered something you didn't like they would gladly bring you something else (one night I had three soups before I could one that I liked!). Thursday we ate at Ginza where I was a little disappointed when I was told that I couldn't order a dish that I wanted because it is really a dish for two people and my husband did not want to share it with me. My husband, however, was very excited to have Peking Duck at the mere price of the cover charge!
For breakfast we found the Market Cafe to be the easiest option. We ate in Versailles on morning during the cruise and again on disembarkation day. We tried to order breakfast in our room on the Hilo morning but since they do not serve hot breakfasts in the room before 6:30 or 7:00 am, and we were supposed to be off the ship at 7:00 am for our excursion (we ended up with an extra 2 hours - see below), we could only get a cold continental breakfast - which disappointed us a bit.
The Ports of Call - Due to a medical emergency we lost two hours of our already short time in Hilo. We had booked the Deluxe Volcano National Park tour, which was cut from 5 1/2 hours to 3 hours at a reduced rate (although not reduced enough in our opinion). The tour was great! We were in small group of 10 people so it was very personalized. There was no red lava to see while we were there. We didn't miss anything due to the shortened time frame; we just spent less time at each stop and ate our lunch on the bus. On Fanning Island we opted for the Napali Beach Break, which I can't recommend enough. We were the first off the ship (which makes a big difference), the beach was huge and beautiful (far better than the tiny beach on Fanning itself) and we had the use of floating beach mats (for free) as well as catamarans, kayaks, and bikes (for a small fee). After spending some relaxing time there we took the tender over to Fanning, got our passport stamped and ate at the BBQ. I think Fanning is an underrated stop. We really enjoyed it.
In Maui we rented a car from Hertz and drove to the Maui tropical Plantation. It was beautiful and the tour was very informative. From there we drove to Lahiana and walked around the shops before heading to the Old Lahiana Luau. We did have to leave early in order to make it back to this ship on time but it was worth it to watch the sunset from a beautiful location while enjoying great food and entertainment. On Kauai we booked our own tour, which was the Hawaii Movie Tour. I highly recommend this informative and very fun tour of the island. We got to see many beautiful locations where many movies and TV shows were filmed and the highlight was our stop at the old Coco Palms resort. It was haunting to be on the grounds of this now closed resort with its rich and groundbreaking history as we retraced the steps of The King - Elvis - in Blue Hawaii.
The Ship and Activities Onboard - The ship was very nice. The dEcor was not my style but it was not unattractive. The karaoke bar was a highlight for us as we made many friends (both fellow passengers and with the host staff - Summer is the best Hostess onboard!) singing there every night. The pool was small but the slides were a treat and you didn't have too difficult of a time securing a lounge chair even on at sea days. We spent a lot of time at the spa both getting incredible treatments as well as taking advantage of the free use of the facilities. Bingo is a favorite cruise activity of ours and we really liked the power bingo boxes (although being in the very front of the ship in the Spinnaker lounge - or as I liked to call it "Spin-your-head lounge" was sometimes not so much fun). The arts and crafts classes with Cathy, our Hawaiian Ambassador and former Miss Hawaii were great and we came in second place in Movie Theme Song Trivia. I also performed in the Star Seekers talent show, which was a highlight for me. Milt Able the comedian was fantastic. His second show was standing room only! The production shows started out great and then went downhill. Music of the Night is the only one worth attending in our opinion. And I have to give props to Patti, our enthusiastic Cruise Director, and her assistant Kawicka for keeping us entertained all week. The most disappointing part of the ship was the Galleria (shops). They seemed more like K-Mart that the upscale shops we are used to seeing on other cruise lines.
Disembarkation - As a suite holder we were able to be the first to leave the ship but since we were not leaving till the red eye at 10:00 that night we opted to take an all day Deluxe Grand Circle Island tour of Oahu that did not leave until 10:30 am so we were the last off the ship. The tour, although exhausting, was a great way to spend the day while our luggage was being securely held under the bus. While we toured many of the places we had seen pre-cruise, it was nice to have a guide to tell us stories and the significance of many things we had passed along the way.
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