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We sailed the Star on December 7th, 2003. This was our second cruise. Formerly we sailed on Royal Caribbean which was a wonderful experience. Though very different in nature, overall, I would say this cruise was at least equally nice. We loved the Freestyle dining and although initially I didn't like the idea of having to pay at some of the restaurants (weren't we paying enough already?) we soon discovered that it really wasn't an issue because the non-pay restaurants were just as good and never once did we have any trouble getting seated. I liked the idea that they would seat you by yourselves if you wanted but also gave you the option to sit with another couple if you wished. We always chose that option finding it fun to meet other people. The ship is gorgeous and other than the rocky experience we had coming back from Fanning Island and a little difficulty finding our way around the ship at first, we had no complaints. The entertainment was superb and our cruise director, Patti we found very personable and helpful (talented too!). For the record, I know some people find it obnoxious that the ship photographers are always in your face, but you have to remember recording those events is their job whether or not you buy their photographs. As professional photographers ourselves, we just decided to be friendly with them and spent alot of our time chatting with them and talking "shop." We even attended their little mini-class on "Photography 101" for those interested in getting better shots and think they did an excellent job with their presentation. And for what it's worth, do believe them when they tell you the airport officials are dead wrong when they tell you the xray machines won't hurt your film. They certainly can (especially after multiple xrays) and this crew had actually done an experiment to prove it! One very important thing to me I would like to express; that is the issue of going to Fanning Island. It seems to me that this is a very black and white issue - people either love going there or they hate it (mostly because it takes so much time out of their cruising schedule leaving too little time to spend on the other Hawaiian islands) While I can totally understand this opinion, personally, we found it an absolute delight - for the following reasons. Fanning Island, is like a Gilligan's Island out in the middle of nowhere, where if it weren't for the cruise you would never even hear of, let alone have the opportunity to see. Here out in the middle of nowhere are people who have almost nothing in terms of material comforts, yet are happy with what they've got. Yes, they sell their crafts (mostly bead jewelry for a pittance), but never once did they act pushy or "commercialized" The children absolutely beamed when you took their picture and my husband, feeling like a GI with a pocketful of Hershey bars, brought even more smiles to their face when he handed them a quarter after taking their picture. We got some great "National Geographic" like images of those women and little kids. If you take the cruise that is going there, I would definitely recommend choosing the option that takes you to the private side of the island, because the NCL beach there is absolutely stunning (one of the prettiest beaches we saw on our whole trip) and not nearly as crowded as on the other side. You can still take the tender back to the other side at any time you want for the NCL food fest and make sure you get good pictures of the natives dancing in their black hula skirts. My opinion regarding the complaint about going is this - You know well before you book this cruise that going to Fanning Island is going to take three days of you time so if you don't like it, don't book it. I am so glad we did because I think it's not only a little different diversion from the hurry and scurry of all the commercialized islands, but it's just a really good experience to be able to see first hand how the other half lives. I understand now there's a brand new American owned ship that won't be going there. But if do like the idea of going to Fanning (and I CERTAINLY HOPE NCL DOESN"T TOTALLY DISBAND THIS CRUISE ITINERARY) then do what we did - just add another couple days to your vacation and see whatever else you want to see on your own. We stayed two days on Oahu - seeing Waikiki, Diamond Head (beautiful and worth every "ouch" of walking up their steps), the North Shore and the Polynesian Cultural Center (another delightful place). The we flew over to Maui for another couple days where we did the Road to Hana (pretty much an all-day trip - very worth while) which you would not have the opportunity to do on the cruise routine. We did snorkeling at Molokini (next time I think I'd do it at one of the beaches), saw Tropical Plantation and the Iao Valley (a photographer's paradise) and best of all - the Old Lahaini Luau - much much better rated than any of the other luaus on any of the islands, especially the one the cruise offers you. As to the cruise excursions - we did mostly their tours - now that we know our way around more, I'd probably go for the cheaper way of renting the car - I understand it does work pretty smoothly but we saw the national Volcanoes Park in Hilo ( a wonderful tour - but it was hard to choose because so many of the tours there were good - wished we could have done more) Back on Maui we went to Haleakala NP which was nice but would have preferred doing it on our own since our bus driver gave us limited opportunities for some of the greatest photo ops - including a beautiful rainbow that we could only view out the window (bummer!) Kauai was the best. After taking a rather short trip to Hanalei (pretty but the same problem with the bus driver) we still had time after we got back from there so at the last minute were very fortunately able to book on our own a helicopter tour. I think this has to be one of the biggest highlights of our whole trip. Wow! What an amazing way to see this gorgeous island. We went with Safari and at the end they gave us a video of OUR trip. A little hesitant at first I calmed down immediately when my eyes feasted on the waterfalls coming at you from everywhere in those lush green mountains, the rugged shore and sea caves of the Napali coastline and the colorful walls of the Waimea Canyon - dipping down and up close was a view you will never forget. If money is an issue, forget it. It was worth every penny we paid (and going on your own, also made it cheaper) At the end of the cruise since we didn't fly till evening we had more time to spend in Honolulu. We chose this time to take the ship's excursion to Pearl Harbor. In spite of the cost, we thought this was a very good way of doing it - especially since we had luggage to deal with because the bus, who stayed with us the whole time, kept all of our belongings, including our purses which for security reasons you can't take into the PH area, locked up and safe. We didn't have to put them in the safe at the PH area. After seeing the Arizona, he took us to the USS Missouri and then down to Waikiki for lunch. Those who had early flights he took to the airport in the afternoon, and those of us with evening flights, he came back for at a later time. I thought that was very nice as it optimized everybody's time and didn't leave anyone having to wait at the airport too long. Our trip to Hawaii was an absolutely wonderful experience and the NCL cruise I think did an outstanding job in giving you an overall experience with these stunning islands. Of course, in one week it is impossible to see it all, but if life is good to us we surely will be back and I wouldn't hesitate for one moment to cruise NCL again.

Norwegian Star - Cruise to Nowhere

Norwegian Star Cruise Review by Marty and Tony

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2003
  • Destination: Nowhere
  • Cabin Type: Inside
We sailed the Star on December 7th, 2003. This was our second cruise. Formerly we sailed on Royal Caribbean which was a wonderful experience. Though very different in nature, overall, I would say this cruise was at least equally nice. We loved the Freestyle dining and although initially I didn't like the idea of having to pay at some of the restaurants (weren't we paying enough already?) we soon discovered that it really wasn't an issue because the non-pay restaurants were just as good and never once did we have any trouble getting seated. I liked the idea that they would seat you by yourselves if you wanted but also gave you the option to sit with another couple if you wished. We always chose that option finding it fun to meet other people.
The ship is gorgeous and other than the rocky experience we had coming back from Fanning Island and a little difficulty finding our way around the ship at first, we had no complaints. The entertainment was superb and our cruise director, Patti we found very personable and helpful (talented too!). For the record, I know some people find it obnoxious that the ship photographers are always in your face, but you have to remember recording those events is their job whether or not you buy their photographs. As professional photographers ourselves, we just decided to be friendly with them and spent alot of our time chatting with them and talking "shop." We even attended their little mini-class on "Photography 101" for those interested in getting better shots and think they did an excellent job with their presentation. And for what it's worth, do believe them when they tell you the airport officials are dead wrong when they tell you the xray machines won't hurt your film. They certainly can (especially after multiple xrays) and this crew had actually done an experiment to prove it!
One very important thing to me I would like to express; that is the issue of going to Fanning Island. It seems to me that this is a very black and white issue - people either love going there or they hate it (mostly because it takes so much time out of their cruising schedule leaving too little time to spend on the other Hawaiian islands) While I can totally understand this opinion, personally, we found it an absolute delight - for the following reasons. Fanning Island, is like a Gilligan's Island out in the middle of nowhere, where if it weren't for the cruise you would never even hear of, let alone have the opportunity to see. Here out in the middle of nowhere are people who have almost nothing in terms of material comforts, yet are happy with what they've got. Yes, they sell their crafts (mostly bead jewelry for a pittance), but never once did they act pushy or "commercialized" The children absolutely beamed when you took their picture and my husband, feeling like a GI with a pocketful of Hershey bars, brought even more smiles to their face when he handed them a quarter after taking their picture. We got some great "National Geographic" like images of those women and little kids. If you take the cruise that is going there, I would definitely recommend choosing the option that takes you to the private side of the island, because the NCL beach there is absolutely stunning (one of the prettiest beaches we saw on our whole trip) and not nearly as crowded as on the other side. You can still take the tender back to the other side at any time you want for the NCL food fest and make sure you get good pictures of the natives dancing in their black hula skirts. My opinion regarding the complaint about going is this - You know well before you book this cruise that going to Fanning Island is going to take three days of you time so if you don't like it, don't book it. I am so glad we did because I think it's not only a little different diversion from the hurry and scurry of all the commercialized islands, but it's just a really good experience to be able to see first hand how the other half lives. I understand now there's a brand new American owned ship that won't be going there. But if do like the idea of going to Fanning (and I CERTAINLY HOPE NCL DOESN"T TOTALLY DISBAND THIS CRUISE ITINERARY) then do what we did - just add another couple days to your vacation and see whatever else you want to see on your own.
We stayed two days on Oahu - seeing Waikiki, Diamond Head (beautiful and worth every "ouch" of walking up their steps), the North Shore and the Polynesian Cultural Center (another delightful place). The we flew over to Maui for another couple days where we did the Road to Hana (pretty much an all-day trip - very worth while) which you would not have the opportunity to do on the cruise routine. We did snorkeling at Molokini (next time I think I'd do it at one of the beaches), saw Tropical Plantation and the Iao Valley (a photographer's paradise) and best of all - the Old Lahaini Luau - much much better rated than any of the other luaus on any of the islands, especially the one the cruise offers you.
As to the cruise excursions - we did mostly their tours - now that we know our way around more, I'd probably go for the cheaper way of renting the car - I understand it does work pretty smoothly but we saw the national Volcanoes Park in Hilo ( a wonderful tour - but it was hard to choose because so many of the tours there were good - wished we could have done more) Back on Maui we went to Haleakala NP which was nice but would have preferred doing it on our own since our bus driver gave us limited opportunities for some of the greatest photo ops - including a beautiful rainbow that we could only view out the window (bummer!) Kauai was the best. After taking a rather short trip to Hanalei (pretty but the same problem with the bus driver) we still had time after we got back from there so at the last minute were very fortunately able to book on our own a helicopter tour. I think this has to be one of the biggest highlights of our whole trip. Wow! What an amazing way to see this gorgeous island. We went with Safari and at the end they gave us a video of OUR trip. A little hesitant at first I calmed down immediately when my eyes feasted on the waterfalls coming at you from everywhere in those lush green mountains, the rugged shore and sea caves of the Napali coastline and the colorful walls of the Waimea Canyon - dipping down and up close was a view you will never forget. If money is an issue, forget it. It was worth every penny we paid (and going on your own, also made it cheaper)
At the end of the cruise since we didn't fly till evening we had more time to spend in Honolulu. We chose this time to take the ship's excursion to Pearl Harbor. In spite of the cost, we thought this was a very good way of doing it - especially since we had luggage to deal with because the bus, who stayed with us the whole time, kept all of our belongings, including our purses which for security reasons you can't take into the PH area, locked up and safe. We didn't have to put them in the safe at the PH area. After seeing the Arizona, he took us to the USS Missouri and then down to Waikiki for lunch. Those who had early flights he took to the airport in the afternoon, and those of us with evening flights, he came back for at a later time. I thought that was very nice as it optimized everybody's time and didn't leave anyone having to wait at the airport too long.
Our trip to Hawaii was an absolutely wonderful experience and the NCL cruise I think did an outstanding job in giving you an overall experience with these stunning islands. Of course, in one week it is impossible to see it all, but if life is good to us we surely will be back and I wouldn't hesitate for one moment to cruise NCL again.
Marty and Tony’s Full Rating Summary
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